Thursday, August 28, 2014

Acts of Kindness List

For July and August, we decided our resolution was going to be spreading joy to others by doing more random acts of kindness. My goal now is to try to be more thoughtful in my everyday life, not just around the holidays or special occasions.  I made a list of ideas, and I'm really hoping to do all of them within a year!

1.  For Family
Make someone's favorite meal
Visit, call, or write to a relative/grandparent just because
Put notes in their lunch boxes
Do a household chore for someone
Invite family over for a meal

2.  For Friends
Make a homemade treat for a friend
Invite friends over for a play date - especially new friends so they can meet up!
Babysit for a couple so they can have a date night
Make a meal for someone who just had surgery/baby/death in the family
Send a care package of little goodies to a new mom (things for HER, not just the baby!)

3.  For Neighbors/Strangers
Brush snow off someone's car or shovel someone else's driveway
Pay for someone's meal behind you in a drive thru
Tape a dollar (or more) on a vending machine or Redbox machine
Hold doors open for people
Compliment someone on anything (their smile, outfit, family, etc.)
Pay for another table's meal at a restaurant (or send them over a dessert)
Welcome a new neighbor or new face at church/work/etc.
Mow or rake someone's yard

4.  For Others in Your Community
Put a special treat in the mailbox for your mail carrier
Make cards or treats for a teacher randomly (not just for a holiday!)
Drop off treats to your local firehouse/police station and say thanks for all they do!
Make treats for church leaders/staff
Drop off treats to hospital staff (we did this after having our baby to say thanks for treating us so well!)
Make cards or treats for the local library staff
Send care packages to soldiers

5.  Volunteer/Donate
Donate school supplies to a school in need
Donate food to a local food bank
If you can - donate blood or your hair
Donate clothes to a homeless shelter
Donate your time to a local charity/soup kitchen
Buy supplies/toys and donate to a pet shelter
Donate old baby gear/clothes to a local care center
Volunteer at a retirement home - especially with kids! :)

Since this goal was inspired by Mother Teresa, I'm including a little quote from her in all my treat bags or care packages. She has so many amazing quotes, but this one is my personal favorite! :)


What are you favorite ways to spread joy to others?

Every first of the month, we start fresh with a new resolution.  We would love to have you join us!  We are very excited about what we're planning to do for September... (Hint: it involves a lot of Pinterest ;)  So please check back in next Monday, September 1st and follow along! 

Sharing my Thoughts for Thursday with Natalie and Annie, and
my 5 on Friday/Friday Faves along with JennieLauren Elizabeth,  
KarliAmy, AndreaErika, and Narci ,
And Week's End with Elizabeth

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Garden Salsa Recipe

Easy, Delicious Appetizer and Snack: Garden Salsa Recipe (Homemade and Freezer Friendly) -

We love gardening.  We are definitely not experts, but it's really fun.  There's just something amazing about eating food that is homegrown!

This year, we planted carrots, onions, squash, 3 kinds of peppers, tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes.  What did you grow?  Our garden didn't do quite as well as last year, but we still have had some really good produce.  So this weekend, we made several batches of salsa with veggies from our garden and some extras from my family (and a few from the store...darn peppers weren't ready yet!).

Easy, Delicious Appetizer and Snack: Garden Salsa Recipe (Homemade and Freezer Friendly) -

Garden Salsa
(Freezer Salsa, modified from Taste of Home)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time:  45 minutes + cooling
Yield:  40 servings (1/4 cup each)


8 cups        tomatoes (about 10 large), diced
2                medium green peppers, chopped
2                large onions, chopped (or 3 medium)
2                jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1                6 oz can tomato paste
2/3 cup     condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1/2 cup     white vinegar
2 Tbsp       salt
4-1/2 tsp   garlic powder
1 Tbsp       cayenne pepper


1.  Chop and dice all vegetables.  (I used a food chopper for everything except the tomatoes.  You could also use a food processor if you want a smoother, less chunky salsa.)

2.  Place all ingredients in a Dutch oven or large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.  Leave uncovered and stir often.

Easy, Delicious Appetizer and Snack: Garden Salsa Recipe (Homemade and Freezer Friendly) -

3.  While the salsa is cooking, label freezer bags or containers with Garden Salsa and the date.

4.  Let cool for 1 hour or until room temperature.  Pour into freezer bags or containers and seal.  If using freezer bags, lay flat on a cookie sheet (or other flat surface) and freeze.  Once frozen, remove cookie sheet and store salsa in freezer for up to 3 months (or longer...we've definitely gone past this before...).


We sometimes substitute or add banana peppers, yellow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, fresh cilantro, or green onions.  You could even add corn or black beans too.  And if you don't want it as spicy, you could use 1/2 Tbsp of cayenne or omit a jalapeño or two.  (This salsa recipe is moderate in spiciness, in our opinion. ;)

We do not remove the skins or seeds from our tomatoes.  We think that the salsa still has a great texture and tastes great with them, so we've decided to take the easier, faster route and leave the skins on and seeds in.

Be careful cutting the jalapeños.  Use gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.  (Do not touch or rub your eyes - I have learned this the hard way!)

This recipes fills 3-4 quart sized freezer bags (5 heaping 1/3 cup scoops each) with enough leftover to enjoy right away!

Easy, Delicious Appetizer and Snack: Garden Salsa Recipe (Homemade and Freezer Friendly) -

What a perfect recipe to enjoy all football season long!

What are your favorite garden recipes?  I have an amazing Creamy Carrot Soup recipe that I love as well.  I'll be sharing that soon...once the carrots are ready!  Please share your favorite recipes with us in the comments - we would love to try them!

Easy, Delicious Appetizer and Snack: Garden Salsa Recipe (Homemade and Freezer Friendly) -


I'm linking up with these awesome parties!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Katie's Football Favorites: College Edition

It's the most wonderful time of the year - aka football season!! Jess shared her football favorites yesterday, and today it is my turn. I don't have half as many photos as Jess ... she is a pinch more crazy than me! ;) 

Here Come the Irish!!

1. Favorite Teams and Players
Notre Dame will always be my favorite team! My favorite player (from ND) would easily be Tom Zbikowski (I'm shocked I don't have a picture of him - google him ;)). I will root for Michigan too because my dad was a big fan, but never when they play the Irish. Now, my husband grew up in several different states, so I'm learning to tolerate some other teams for his sake. Those teams would include Penn State and Texas A&M. College football is on at our house all Saturday long!

ND vs. MSU (2009) We won at the very end by 3 points!

2. Teams and Players I Despise

Ohio State, USC, Purdue, Alabama ... gag. It makes me ill to even write those names. Those teams, players, and coaches annoy me to no end. I wouldn't root for any of them even if my life depended on it. I also don't like Brent Musburger (commentator), but luckily he has moved to SEC network so I won't have to listen to him anymore. ;)

ND vs. UCONN. My siblings first home game and it was so fun! Double overtime, and the only game I've been to that we've lost. 

3. Favorite Game Day Tradition (On Campus)

When we head up to campus, we also do everything that Jess mentioned - visit the buildings, rub Knute's nose, watch the players walk from Mass to the stadium, etc. It is so much fun now having a kid and seeing the excitement on their face when the crowds start going crazy! :) My absolute favorite tradition is listening to the band play at Bond Hall. Notre Dame has the oldest marching band, and it so fun to sing along and do the cheers to get pumped before the game!

Wake up the echoes cheering her name!

Side note: We always look for celebrities too. Regis goes to every home game! :)  We got to shake Vince Vaughn's hand during the player walk two years ago. I did see Taylor Swift in the library three years ago. Her brother went to school at ND, and she figured Selena Gomez and herself could just 'blend in' on game day. HA! It was insanity!

Hello there Mr. Vaughn! ;)

4. Favorite Game Day Tradition (At Home)

My husband enjoys waking us up to any song Notre Dame related - fight song, victory march, cheers/drumline YouTube videos, theme song from the movie Rudy, etc. He is still trying to convince me that we need to do Keg and Eggs for breakfast on game day. Not too sure on that one! ;)  We also will NOT put our feet on the floor during the game, or switch positions if the team is playing well while you are situated that way...that means no bathroom breaks until an interception or something bad happens. It's only crazy if it doesn't work! ;)

Abby's first time rubbing Knute's nose for luck! GO IRISH!

5. Favorite Game Day Apparel

My #9 jersey has served me well these past few years. I bought it for Zbikowski, but the players who have had that number after him have been great too! I'm going to branch out a little this year and wear more 'girly' type of outfits. I have an infinity scarf and new headbands that are ND colors.  For the kids, we definitely have jerseys and cheerleader adorable! :)

Future ND cheerleaders - Josie and Abby from 2012 :)

And, in case you aren't sick of Notre Dame yet, for your viewing pleasure, THE greatest fight song - the Notre Dame Victory March! :) GO IRISH!

Best of luck to your teams (unless they are listed in my #2 section!) this season! Check out some more of our game day festivities on Pinterest!

Linking up with Football Friday with Erin, and also
sharing my Thoughts for Thursday with Natalie and Annie,
5 on Friday/Friday Faves along with JennieLauren ElizabethKarliAmyAndreaErika, and Narci,
Mommy Moments with Faith, and Week's End with Elizabeth

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jessica's Football Favorites: College Edition

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -

It's almost here!!!!  College football starts next week!

Katie and I are huge football fans.  Like we-only-have-cable-so-we-have-ESPN-during-football-season kind of fans.  We grew up in a family of football fans, and the love of the sport stuck with us.  (Our husbands greatly appreciate our upbringing. ;)

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
I'm sure our daughters' future husbands will be grateful too ;)

So when we saw Erin was having a link up about football, we just had to join in and share our five favorite (or least favorite!) things about college football.  Here are Katie's favorites...and here are mine:

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Notre Dame's Golden Dome, beautiful both inside and out

1.  My Favorite Team and Players
Notre Dame (in case you haven't guessed that already ;).  I have always loved and watched Notre Dame football, but never really focused on specifics til I was married (and had a husband who did ;)  So my favorite players are more current ones:  Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Manti Te'o, and Jaylon Smith.  My favorite analysts are Cris Carter, Cris Collinsworth, and Mike Golic.  And I'm throwing a coach in there too: Lou Holtz!!! 

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Irish Guard raising the flag, Notre Dame Stadium, the Leprechaun waving our colors, and Notre Dame putting the smack down on Stanford

2. Teams and Players I Despise
I can't stand Ohio State and everything to do with them (except Cris Carter and sadly, a couple of my Ohio born friends ;).  My boss is a big fan, and between the 2 of us, we've had 3 National Title losses since I started there.  It's made for some fun, good natured ... harassment.  Like putting Ms on his children's pictures in his office.  Or playing the Michigan fight song over the radio system.  (It's the little things that make life enjoyable ;)

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Michigan "M" maize and blue tortilla chips, Ohio State "O" and Buckeye taco dip (emphasis on dip ;), and Michigan/Ohio State cake.  Am I an awesome employee or what?

After them, I can't stand USC, Stanford, Purdue, and just about every SEC team.  And instead of really despising players, I despise coaches and commentators.  The two I dislike the most are Pete Carroll (former USC coach, current NFL Seahawks coach) and David Pollack (ESPN analyst).

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
We love Notre Dame - rain or shine...or snow ;)

3. My Favorite Game Day Traditions (On Campus)
Jim and I started going to Notre Dame on game days back when we were dating, and now we get to share this tradition with our kids.  We always get there early and spend the day enjoying all of our traditions: visiting the Basilica, the Grotto, and the Golden Dome, rubbing Knute's nose for luck, walking around the lakes, watching the Players' March and the Marching Band parade to the Stadium, going to the 11th floor of the Library (aka Touchdown Jesus) to enjoy a great view overlooking campus, watching the game on big screens at the athletic center with the other fans, and singing the Alma mater at the end of the game - win or lose.

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Corby Hall, the view of the Basilica and Golden Dome from the Library, and the side doors to the Basilica: God, Country, Notre Dame
Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Game Days 2011-2013 and Spring Game 2014

But my favorite tradition is a new one.  Every year we've been on campus for game day, I've seen parents and kids playing football together in the grassy areas of the quads.  Since we struggled with starting our family, I longed for the day when that would be us.  Now, our daughter J is old enough to play catch (somewhat!) and our son B can a little too.  It was such a special moment for us as a family the first time we got to do this.  And now playing football on the quad will be a tradition that we do every time we're on campus!

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Our new tradition - playing football as a family on game day

4.  My Favorite Game Day Traditions (At Home)
Every game day, we start off the day by blaring "Here Come the Irish" by Cathy Richardson 10+ times in a row to pump ourselves up.  (I may or may not have listened to this on repeat while writing this post.)  I guess you know it's a tradition when your 3 year old asks for it and can sing along!  And during the game, Katie and I always text each other...usually ridiculous texts about the game, refs, players, opposing team...especially if the game isn't going well.  Hey, sometimes laughing is the only way to get through a bad game.

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Notre Dame sisters and best friends

5.  My Favorite Game Day Attire
I'm a Notre Dame fitted T-shirt and jeans kind of girl.  But my favorite is actually my Notre Dame fleece jacket.  I love when it really gets to be "football weather", and it's time to roll out that out.  Then, I literally wear it over my regular clothes every single day.  To prove my point, I had to get a new one last year, because I had worn through the elbows of my old one...

For the kids...  Boys: jerseys and the old school leprechaun.  Girls: cheerleader outfits and pigtails.

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
Our Notre Dame babies

This is just a glimpse into our family's fanatical love for Notre Dame.

So what teams do you love?  Or hate?  What are your favorite football traditions?

Good luck to your favorite team this season, that is except for when they're playing Notre Dame...or if they're Ohio State. ;)  Goooooooooo Irish!

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -

P.S.  Writing this post, I realized that I have almost as many pictures of Notre Dame as I do of my own's either true love or pure insanity.  Please don't judge me. ;)

Notre Dame Game Day Traditions -
The Grotto, the Library aka "Touchdown Jesus", and Fr. Corby (past Notre Dame president and Battle of Gettysburg chaplain) - just in case you wanted to see more pictures of the beautiful campus of Notre Dame ;)
...And our hearts forever, Love thee, Notre Dame!

Linking up with Football Friday with Erin, and also
sharing my Thoughts for Thursday with Natalie and Annie,
5 on Friday/Friday Faves along with JennieLauren ElizabethKarliAmyAndreaErika, and Narci,
Mommy Moments with Faith, and Week's End with Elizabeth

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bridal Shower Games

Bridal Shower Game Ideas -

This past weekend, we threw a fall themed bridal shower for our soon to be sister-in-law. I love planning parties and showers, and my favorite part is coming up with the games.  Here are some fun shower games that we have used (with some printables at the end of the post):

1. The first game we played this past weekend was The Price is Right: Bridal Edition. For this, I got nine household items to give to the bride - but you could theme it as kitchen items, cleaning supplies, etc.  The guests had to guess the original price of each item and also the grand total. Whoever is closest to the total without going over is the winner! It was funny to see how off we were on totals because none of us could do it without thinking of Cartwheel deals or coupons! :)

2.  We played an Emergency Kit Memory Game next. I had my mom walk around with a tray full of items that Karissa would need as a bridal emergency kit on her wedding day. After everyone looked at the tray, my mom left the room and I asked questions about my mom's outfit, jewelry, etc. After they answered those five questions, then they could write down the items from the tray. Whoever had the most items won - our winner guessed 12 out of the 17!

Bridal Shower Game Ideas -
Some ideas for the wedding day emergency kit :)

3.  Another game we played was a Disney Love Song game - our brother and his future wife are going on a Disney Cruise for their honeymoon! :)  I had a quote from a famous Disney movie love song, and then the guests had to write down the song title and movie. Our youngest sister is a little Disney obsessed, and she easily got all of them right! It is a lot harder than it sounds to guess the song when you are just reading the words.

4.  A fun (and challenging) game that we played at my bridal shower was the Newlywed Game.  My friends came up with a bunch of questions that they asked my now husband - anything from what was his favorite color to "if Katie was a type of cookie, what kind would she be?"  Then at the shower they asked me those same questions and I had to answer how I thought John (my husband) answered. If I got it wrong, I had to put a piece of gum in my mouth. We used Bubblicious gum - which is HUGE - and by the end, I couldn't even speak. John didn't know his answers were being read out loud or what it was for, so he gave some very random answers...making my job a lot harder!

5.  For Jess' shower, we played Charades/Pictionary.  I had movies (The Wedding Singer, Princess Bride, The Wedding Planner, etc), songs (Going to the Chapel, Love Shack, Cupid Shuffle, etc), and common wedding words/phrases (Just Married, Kiss the Bride, Cutting the Cake, Tossing the Bouquet, etc) on folded up pieces of paper. We split up into two teams and the player could either draw or act out what was on their card. Her friends really got into it, so it was a lot of fun!

Bridal Shower Game Ideas -

If you would like to play the first three games, feel free to print them off and use at your next shower!

The Price is Right Game
The Wedding Day Emergency Kit Memory Game
The Disney Love Song Game (with answer key)

What shower games are your favorites? I'm always looking for new ones for future showers that I'll get to plan!  :)

Bridal Shower Game Ideas -

Linking up our Five on Friday and Friday Favorites
with Jennie, Lauren Elizabeth, Karli, Amy, Andrea, Erika, and Narci this week! 
Linking up with Abby, Christy, Krista, Mandy, and April for Get Your DIY On!

Fall Inspired Bridal Shower

Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

Our little brother is getting married in a month! I am so excited to be getting another sister and for the wedding to finally get here! :)  I know bits and pieces of the wedding decor, outfits, and reception details and I really can't wait to see all of Karissa's hard work come together. We threw her a bridal shower this past weekend and tried to incorporate a lot of her wedding ideas into the party.

Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

Thank goodness for Pinterest, because I basically stalked her wedding board for ideas that I knew she'd like for her bridal shower. We stuck with a fall theme: yellow and orange (their wedding colors) and all things burlap and sunflowers. :) I think the decor turned out pretty nice!

Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

We placed their invitation on the mantle along with some fall flowers.  I found the banner printable here. It was perfect for the bridal shower. I loved how it looked, and I'm definitely going to make another one for our house for the holidays!

Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

For food, we provided a lighter lunch and snacks. We had shredded chicken sandwiches, chips and taco dip cups, fruit, and dessert, and then placed flowers and pictures of the couple around the food.

Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

My mom makes the best desserts and homemade chocolates, and they turned out adorable in the little mason jars she found.

Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

Now, I love bridal shower games. I also love things that are useful, so two of the games were full of goodies for the soon to be newlyweds to keep. We played three games total - The Price is Right: Bridal Edition, a Wedding Day Emergency Kit memory game, and a Disney Love Song quote guessing game. They were a lot of fun, and I'll be posting more about those tomorrow! :)  Edit:  Here are the games!

Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

I'm not sure who had more fun opening the gifts - Karissa or our daughters! :)

Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

When we were putting Abby to bed, she said, "I had so much fun at the party. I love today!" I'd say it was a success! :)

Happy Thursday!
Bridal Shower Games, Decorations, and Food:

Sharing my Thoughts for Thursday with Natalie and Annie!
Linking up with Abby, Christy, Krista, Mandy, and April for Get Your DIY On

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Minute to Win It Party: Part 2

Minute to Win It Party Games -

Yesterday, I shared some Minute to Win It Games that we played at a recent family party. Check out Games #1-#5 here.

Just as a review, with Minute to Win It Games, you have one minute to complete your task. The blueprints for the games are no longer on the TV show's website, but you can easily find them on YouTube. We divided ourselves up into teams, and did the challenges competing against each other. We also did a lot more as partners or teams. Not every game is meant for that, but it is way more fun to get everyone involved if you can! So change the rules as necessary for your get together! :)

Here are Games #6-#9!

Minute to Win It Party Games -

Game #6:  Defying Gravity
Supplies:  Balloons (we used three)
How to Play:  The object of this game is to keep all of the balloons in the air for a minute. Since we did this as a team, we did the rule where you couldn't touch the same balloon twice in a row. Playing this outside with wind added another element of difficulty fun! ;)

Minute to Win It Party Games -

Game #7:  Floatacious
Supplies:  Bucket of water, five empty pop cans (with tabs removed), plastic plate
How to Play:  Place a plastic plate into a bucket of water. When the time keeper says go, start stacking the pop cans on top of each other. You can't hold any of the pop cans to keep the bottom steady while you are stacking. First person to stack all five and keep them up for three seconds wins! This would be better played indoors - the wind made it rather difficult to keep up!

Minute to Win It Party Games -

Game #8:  Suck it Up
Supplies:  Packs of Smarties, straws, plates
How to Play:  We did this completely different than the blueprint because we did it with five players. Here is our version :)  Have one person hold a plate with one pack of Smarties laid out on it.  Two players will place straws in their mouths, and when the timer starts, will use the straw to suck up a Smarty candy. Those players will then transfer the Smarty with the straw to another player who is holding out their hands. The players receiving the candy cannot move their hands in any way to catch the candy.  First team to get all of the Smarties transferred to their teammates wins!
Tip: Laughing makes this game really hard! :)

Minute to Win It Party Games -

Game #9:  Bite Me
Supplies:  Five paper bags (cut to 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 inch heights)
How to Play:  Take the bags and place them in a line. Have one player at a time run out and grab a bag - they can only use their mouth! And you cannot in any way touch the ground with your hands or knees!  Once they have their bag, they run back and tag their next teammate. First team to get all five bags back wins!
Tip:  Have the kids get the shortest bags! ;)

So, not all of these Minute to Win It games last one minute, or really even need to be timed. I think it's just the matter of hearing the seconds click down that make it so much more fun...and competitive!

Seriously, a Minute to Win It Game Day is a must! Try it out and let me know what games you did! I'm already researching which games I'm going to put together for our family Christmas party! :)

Don't forget to check out Games #1-5 here!

Minute to Win It Party Games -

Follow us on Pinterest for more summer fun ideas!  

I'm linking up with these awesome parties!

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