Friday, September 6, 2013

Food For Thought: Gluten Free Chicken Tacos

When I am not playing dress up with the girls or organizing something, one of my favorite places to be is in the kitchen!  I love to cook and even the task of chopping is soothing for me - clean up on the other hand not so soothing!

In the past few weeks I have been reading different articles on the benefits of a gluten free diet and the impacts it can have on someone.  Here is a yummy new favorite that will become a regular in our home!  This meal was super easy and who doesn't love a good crockpot recipe.  I have seen a few variations out there and you can even leave out the homemade cream of mushroom soup if you like and this meal will still be yummy in your tummy!

Crockpot Chicken Tacos 


6 - 8 Chicken Breasts (frozen)

1 Packet of McCormick Original Taco Seasoning Mix
1 Jar of Arriba Fire Roasted Salsa Mild
Homemade cream of mushroom soup* 

*Ingredients for cream of mushroom soup: 

1 cup of milk

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp chicken bouillon
4 oz can of mushrooms
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper

1. In small saucepan, whisk milk and cornstarch until smooth.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients.
3. Heat to a boil, stir frequently.  Simmer on low till thicken (about a minute). 

Once soup is ready add all ingredients to the crockpot.  Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours.  About 30 minutes before ready to serve, shred the chicken with a fork or kitchen aid mixer and place back in crockpot.  Serve over corn tortillas and a side of black beans.

The taco seasoning wasn't labeled as gluten free, but I called McCormick and they assured me it was a gluten free product.  They also told me they would list in bold anytime their products have wheat, barley, or rye.  When looking for any gluten free product always make sure to read the labels.   

To make the meal a little more festive I decided to make tortilla bowls using my tortilla mold!  They only take about 5 minutes in the oven and can be made in advance and warmed up later.  

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Anyone have any good gluten free recipes out there??  Or any sources they recommend for gluten free?      Since my mouth is still watering from last night's dinner, here is another picture for you!  Enjoy and Happy Friday!!

With much love,


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Create Your Own Wall Chalkboard

I was that kid that would play "school" when I was growing up and LOVED to write on the chalkboard.  I even loved cleaning the erasers and the chalkboard...although back in my day the chalkboards were green.  My love for the chalkboard even went to the extreme of dreaming for one of those holders for the chalk so your hands wouldn't get all dusty....I know, NERD alert over here! Needless to say, my dad bought me a chalkboard and I used to pretend to be the teacher and would teach all my stuffed animals and dolls (aka the students) about multiplication facts and long division.  I was also that kid that loved math and still does :)

My wheels have been turning to figure out creative ways to bring fun activities into the playroom for the girls.  I wanted an area in the playroom for us to draw and color, but I was concerned about taking up too much space with a table.  The spot I had in mind was near the reading nook, but I didn't want the area to get too crowded.  I did however, have tons of blank wall space and what better way to fill it than by making our very own chalkboard.

This is a super easy project that can be completed in a day, or with the kiddos around maybe two days! Here are the supplies you will need:

  • Masonite board (we had Lowe's cut it down to size for us): $9
  • Trim (we bought a 7' board and a 10' board of trim due to the size): $13
  • Tinted primer or leftover dark paint from a previous project: $0
  • Rustoleum or Valspar Latex Chalkboard Paint: $10
  • Foam roller: $5
  • Nail gun: $0 
  • Wood filler: $0
  • Spray paint for the trim: $5
  • TOTAL: $42

We purchased all of our supplies at Lowe's, but any home improvement store should have all the necessary supplies.  Although some products were purchased for this project, there were plenty leftovers for future products like the chalkboard paint and masonite board.  We went with a masonite board since it is light weight and has a smooth surface.  The board only comes in a 4'x8' piece so we went ahead and had Lowe's cut it down to size for us and then put the scrap pieces in the garage.  Our chalkboard is 3'x4'9".  Originally we were going for a 3'x5' chalkboard, but the trim we wanted came in 7' and 10' sections so my hubbie had them cut it down slightly smaller.

Once the board was cut to size it was just a matter of finding the spot on the wall and then securing it into the studs.  We made sure our boards width was wide enough so we could secure it into the studs.

After it was secured to the wall, thanks to my hubbie, I put the base coat of primer on it.  We had leftover gray paint from the bathroom so I just used that.  It went on super smooth and didn't need a whole lot of it either.

The foam roller is my new BFF because it coated the board well and went on super smooth!!  Just to be absolutely sure it was smooth for all coats I did a light sanding.  Side note, whenever you have leftover paint I highly recommend storing it in a mason jar.  Not only does it look pretty to see all your paints on display, but takes up less space than half empty gallon jars! Also, the main benefit for the mason jars is that it prevents the paint from drying out.  After one coat of primer, my husband applied two coats of chalkboard paint (I was working on the seating bench at the same time).


This time we used Valspar and we were super pleased with it.  We have also used Rust-o-leum Chalkboard Paint and I would recommend both products.  Well, after two coats of chalkboard paint we called it a night.  The next morning, while I was playing with the girls', my husband spray painted the trim.  We purchased two boards of already primed trim - a 7' board and a 10' board.  Unfortunately we forgot to snap some before pictures of the trim, but here is the spray paint I used.

I had purchased the spray paint for some outdoor projects, which I still plan to do, but I absolutely adore this color so decided to use it on the trim.  After seeing it on the trim, I LOVE it even more!!!  My husband applied two coats to the trim and used a nail gun to instal the trim.  Once the trim was up, we put a tiny amount of wood filler in the holes and on the corner pieces.  The directions on the tube said to let it dry for two hours....that seemed like an eternity to me.  However, I waited the allotted time because I am a rule follower :) Once it was dry, my husband sprayed some of the spray paint in a little plastic container and we used a small paint brush to cover up the wood filler.

As you can imagine, this is my new favorite spot in the playroom.  I am so giddy over this chalkboard and even more giddy on how easy it was to install.  The chalk easily wipes off with a wet rag too!

For now the main use for the chalkboard is to draw and make award winning art, but in the future we plan to use this for the girls' lessons.  Of course it will always be used for fun, but also has its functional purposes!  I also have plans for the empty wall space above the chalkboard - thinking of a way to display the girls artwork.  Here are some inspirational photos I have been looking at on Pinterest here and here.

On the right we have a beautiful abstract a la 21 month and three year old!!!  Don't you just love it, or maybe it is the artwork only a parent could love :) 

With much love, 


P.S. Don't forget to check tomorrow's post!!  I am going to be introducing a new tradition to the blog for Friday called Food For Thought.  Yes, I literally mean food, it is one of my passions!

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Playroom: Seating Bench Part 2

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day and were able to enjoy some quality time with the ones you love!  Spending time with my family was numero uno for this gal and just enjoying each others company...sappy I know, but I can't get enough of my family.

Last Friday, I left you with the transformation the Expedit shelves have taken in our playroom and the next step we were planning for the bench.

I am so excited I have to show you the bench seat in all its glory....don't worry I will go through the step-by-steps of this beauty!!

To assemble the bench there were a couple of being to sew and since sewing is not my speciality I decided to go the route of stapling the fabric to a MDF board.  From start to finish, the bench took me less than 30 minutes to complete.  The longest part was lining up the foam/MDF board to the right spot on the fabric.  So step one, lay out the fabric print side down.

Step two and three, lay down the foam and then the MDF board. 

Now it is just a matter of pulling the fabric tight and getting your staple into the MDF board.  My hubbie helped hold the fabric while I stapled....definitely helped having the extra pair of hands!!

For the next step, I decided to trim the remaining fabric and then fold it over and staple again - I didn't want this fabric to move!!  As you can see, it isn't the prettiest, but the fabric is definitely secure with both sets of staples.   

For the ends, I treated it like I was wrapping a present :)  Again, not the prettiest, but it gets the job done.

To prevent the bench from sliding, my husband secured it to the Expedit shelf with 2 1/2 screws.  Now our wiggly little girls have another spot to sit in the playroom and I put a big fat check mark next to this project as complete!!  

Can I just say I was jumping up for joy when this baby was completed and couldn't wait to see the look on my girls' faces when they woke up the next morning.  And because I am so in love with this little area in our playroom I have to show you more pictures :)  

I went on a little shopping trip to Target this weekend - well actually it was just to pick up a prescription, but since I was there I had to stop by the dollar section!  And boy am I glad I did, I found the silver tins that already had the chalkboard labels on them.  And what makes them even better...when I got up to the cashier I found out they were on sale for $0.50!!

And of course, the right side of the bench can't be left out!!

And just for good measure, here is the full picture again!!!

Stay tuned for another exciting project in the playroom we completed this weekend!!  If you follow me on Instagram you got a sneak peek!!  :)

With much love,


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