Archive for the ‘DIY Recipes’ Category

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup Recipe

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Friday, September 23rd, 2016 at 6:00 PM
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Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

Here is a meal all cooked in ONE pot, that will not only satisfy the comfort food craving, but also only takes 45 minutes from prep to serving. This soup has some serious flavor – and really does taste like a  warm, gooey bacon cheeseburger.  Make it for company, and they’ll be asking you for your amazing Bacon Cheeseburger Soup recipe!

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped or diced
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped or diced
1 garlic clove minced
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 lb potatoes (about 3 medium sized potatoes), peeled and cut up into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon or 1 cube beef bouillon
12 oz Velveeta (about 2/14 cups)
Bacon, cooked & crumbled (3-4 slices or more if you prefer)


In a 6-qt stockpot, cook beef, onion and pepper over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until beef is not longer pink.  Break up beef into crumbles while cooking.  Drain.  Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.  Stir in flour, until blended.  Gradually stir in milk.  Add potatoes, water and bouillon, then bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover while simmering for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Add Velveeta and stir until melted.  Sprinkle with bacon pieces and serve hot. Add raw onion, lettuce shreds and tomato, if you like, as well, to really make it cheeseburger-y!

Get more recipes HERE!

More ways to save in the kitchen:

Signature Mini Meals (in ONE Muffin Pan) + 21 Meal Suggestions!

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Monday, September 12th, 2016 at 7:00 PM
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Here’s a fun idea for kid-friendly meals that will also help you get rid of some leftovers!  If you missed our tips on using leftovers, head over here to check it out!  You’ll be able to get creative with this recipe idea, and even be able to make several mini meals in one muffin pan – all different to suit your family’s tastes!  Picky eaters in the family?  This allows you to customize each meal, and cater to those with specific requirements for theirs.  These are also great for on-the-go meals, quick lunches and road trip snacks.

Grab my favorite muffin pan HERE.

For a base, use this recipe:

* 1/2 cup Bisquick

* 1/2 cup milk 

* 2 eggs

Mix together and put about 1 tablespoon in each muffin cup, and if you choose to, add another tablespoon to the top of your mixtures (listed below)!  Use a spatula to spread the mixture around in each cup to coat the sides.  Alternatively, you can use plain pancake mix, and forgo the milk and egg.  Another idea is to use cornbread mix – just follow the package directions, and put them in each cup.

Now comes the fun!  You’ll fill the cups the rest of the way up with leftover chicken and veggies, steak shreds, shrimp or whatever else you have laying around or need to eat up before it expires.  Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.  Even better, you’ll be able to freeze these in freezer bags, take them for lunches and re-heat in the microwave!  Sprinkle your favorite seasoning on top for an extra bit of flavoring, before popping into the oven.


1. BBQ chicken + cream cheese: throw on a dollop of sour cream when it’s done cooking, and you have a delicious and unique little meal!

2.  Ground Beef (leftover taco meat) and mashed potatoes:  this makes for some sweet mini meat loaf or shepherds pies!

3.  Egg & mashed potatoes:  like getting hash browns, a muffin and egg all in one little cup!

4.  Veggies:  broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and grilled bell peppers make for this awesome veggie cup!

5.  Broccoli, Chicken & Cheese:  a mini casserole in the perfect size!  You can also see our recipe for Broccoli Chicken Casserole HERE!

6.  Chili:  leftover homemade chili (get a recipe HERE for Beef & Bacon chili!), topped with diced onions, all cozy inside it’s own little batter cup!

Here are 15 more ideas:


Create your base (recipe above), then add some marinara sauce, cheese, onions, pepperoni, olives and pineapple!  Kids can pick their toppings and make their very own mini pizza cups!
Use leftover chicken and either shred or cut into chunks.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of alfredo sauce over it for a quick and easy chicken alfredo, in the perfect size portion!
A beef & broccoli pot pie!?  Mmmmm….Top your cups up with some beef and broccoli florets, then drizzle soy sauce or teriyaki over it!  If you have sesame seeds, that would make for a fun and decorative topper!
Take your Thanksgiving meal and make tiny muffin cup servings!  Pour in your base (recipe above), then add a few chunks of turkey, about a 1/2 tablespoon of stuffing and 1/2 tablespoon of mashed potatoes.  Drizzle with gravy when you pull it out of the oven!

Ground beef, ketchup and cheese over your base will create mini cheeseburger cups!  You could add steak sauce, diced onions , relish or whatever else you would normally put on your burger!

Use:  shredded, leftover chicken and top with Rotel, cheese, olives, jalapenos and hot sauce!
Add leftover chicken and ham pieces to your base mixture in the cups.  Place pieces or shreds of swiss cheese over them, sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper, then top with more base mixture OR with bread crumbs (crushed croutons work well)!
Throw together some of your favorite vegetables, then sprinkle with pepper, lemon, marinades, balsamic vinegar or any other delicious topping you can think of for a fun veggie cup!
Mix together leftover ground beef, Ranch Style Beans, onion dices and tomato sauce.  Add cheese or seasonings as desired to have some mini chili cups!  Top with the base to have chili pies!

Take crumbled Italian sausage and mix with mushrooms, egg, leftover mashed potatoes and ricotta cheese.  Put about 2 tablespoons on top of your base, then layer with spinach!  You’ll have a unique and flavorful mini meal!

Use leftover taco meat from last night’s meal.  Add to your base, then top with cheese, tomatoes, avocado and seasonings.  These would be nice to re-heat for lunch the next day, or freeze for another meal later in the week!  Once heated, you can top with cold lettuce and sour cream!
If you had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, consider using your leftovers to create fun little meatball cups!  Place a meatball in on the base, then pour on a flavorful combination of tomato sauce and italian spices.  Sprinkle with shredded swiss or parmesan cheese.
Place small pieces of leftover pot roast, potatoes, onions & carrots into each cup with the base.  Pour in some beef broth, cover with more base and ta-da!  You have portable pot roast cups!!

Create your base, then crack an egg into the cup.  sprinkle in bits of bacon, cheese and any spices you like!  You could also mix the egg with milk and onion powder, and scramble, before pouring into the cup.  Brush on some maple syrup around the base before adding other ingredients to really kick this breakfast into high gear!


DIY Upcycle Project~ Homemade Mosquito Candles

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Monday, August 8th, 2016 at 2:00 PM
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The mosquitoes in North Texas are out in full force again and it is that time of year that you start spending LOTS of money on anything that will keep them away from you and your family!  Here’s a super simple way to make your own homemade mosquito or citronella candles while repurposing glass jars you already have.  Plus, the cost of the materials for this come to about $1 per candle you make- can’t beat that! To make these citronella glass jar candles, you will need:

  • Glass jars
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Long-strand, untreated cotton wick
  • Citronella Oil
  • Wax dye (optional)

1.) Start with clean and dry glass containers- you can use mason jars or upcycle leftover applesauce jars, jelly or pickle jars or even baby food jars. Any type of glass jar with a metal lid will work for this project.

2.) Make a hole in the middle of each jar lid. To do this, place a nail on the jar lid and gently hammer it straight down. After the hole is made, pull the  out.

3.) String the cotton wick through the glass hole. Leave the wick long enough to reach down into the oil, and even coil a little for a longer burn. Trim at the top about 2 inches tall.

4.) Fill the jars with citronella oil of choice. At this point, you can stir in melted wax dye to add color if you want.

5.) Dip the wick into the oil, fully submerge it, pull it through the hole, tighten your jar lid and light the wick. As the wick burns down, simply pull up more of the wick to keep on burning.

These candles are perfect for celebrating summer with outdoor picnics and parties! They look crafty and will keep mosquitoes from ruining your fun. 🙂

10 DIY Beauty Recipes Using All Natural Ingredients

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Thursday, July 14th, 2016 at 3:45 PM
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Everybody wants to look and feel beautiful, but using loads of masks, lotions, and creams can put a strain on your budget! Plus, many times they expose your hair and skin to unnecessary chemicals and preservatives. Check out these 10 DIY Beauty recipes for great, natural results without breaking the bank!

Lemon and Egg Facial~ If you have acne and redness on your face, soothe these symptoms away easily by mixing together one egg yolk and the juice of one lemon into a paste. Simply cover your face with it and leave it on overnight if you stand it. At a minimum, leave it on your face for an hour- the longer the better with this treatment

Replace Face Wash With Skim Milk Powder~ This can make your face much softer and give you a smoother complexion. Plus, it’s also very gentle, so even the most sensitive types can use it.

Moisturize Skin With Honey and Olive Oil~ Both of these two ingredients hold moisture really well and all you have to do is mix equal parts to create a pasty lotion. Rub it onto the dry skin and let it sit for 10-20 minutes before showering. Just rinse off- be sure not to use soap.

Brown Sugar and Honey Facial Scrub~  Brown sugar exfoliates the skin cleaning the pores of all dirt, oil and dead skin cells and honey is naturally antibacterial.  The combination scrubs away the junk clogging pores and cleans out the sources of the buildup to prevent future breakouts.

Tone Skin With Avocados and CarrotsSimply combine 1 avocado, 1 cooked carrot, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 egg and 3 tablespoons of honey. Leave on any part of your skin for 10-20 minutes and then rinse. These ingredients add a bunch of vitamins, antioxidants and calcium to rebuild natural collagen, tone skin and remove age spots.

Coffee Grounds in Conditioner~ This one sounds weird and is only an option is you like the smell of coffee. Instead of throwing old coffee grounds away, toss them into your conditioner and is proven to make your hair extra shiny!

Replace Conditioner with Vinegar or Baking Soda~ To get rid of build up and dullness, replace your conditioner with vinegar or baking soda 1-4 times a month – depending on your hair type. Just use it as you need it and you’ll be surprised how well it works to clarify your hair without harsh chemicals.


Degrease Oily Hair With Lemons and Aloe~ Mix together 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon aloe vera. Add it to a normal serving of shampoo and it will get rid of your oiliness in your hair with one shower.

Smooth Frizzy Hair With Honey~ Just add a tablespoon of honey to a liter of water and after shampooing, rinse your hair with this concoction to tame your frizz.

Treat Chlorine-Damaged Hair~ This is so necessary after a long summer full of swimming! Mix together 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 cup of a peeled cucumber. Cover you hair with the mixture and leave it on for 10-20 minutes and your hair will be back to it’s healthy normal self in no time!

Mid Summer Lawn & Garden Checklist

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Monday, July 11th, 2016 at 2:15 PM
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No one can deny that we are right in the middle of the “dog days of summer,” the hottest time of the year here in North Texas. Everything but the mosquitoes and locusts seem lethargic and the sun seems to bake lawns and gardens. However, there is plenty to do in the garden in August, although it is best done in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are more comfortable. Check out these suggestions for tasks around your yard and garden this month:

Lawn Maintenance and Preparation

• Aerate your lawn and dethatch it.
• If there is plenty of rainfall, fertilize your lawn. If there is not- DON’T.
• To help your grass beat the heat and reduce lawn maintenance, keep your lawn mower blade on the highest setting. Don’t worry if parts of your yard turn brown this time of year – it happens.

Annuals and Perennials

• Trim and fertilize your containers – they still have time for another show in the fall.
• Deal with pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites with a spray of water from the hose.
• Treat diseased plants, and remove diseased foliage before leaves drop.
• Continue deadheading (remove faded flowers) for prolific bloomers, shear them lightly to encourage more blooms.

Vegetables and Herbs

• Cut herbs to dry or freeze for winter use.
• Fall vegetable and herb seeds or starters can be planted now.  Consider spinach, radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, overwintering onions, kale, kohlrabi, rutabagas, turnips, dill, cilantro, parsley, and chives.

Shrubs and Trees

• Pick up and destroy fallen fruit from fruit trees to limit insect infestations.
• Make sure newly planted shrubs and trees get plenty of water.


• Early morning is the best time to water – target plants directly, and water deeply. Avoid getting leaves wet in the hot sun, and avoid soaking containers during the hottest part of the day – both of these can burn plants.
• Keep close watch on your birdbath, water features, and hummingbird feeder – take steps to correct or avoid mold, stagnation, and mosquito larvae.
• Continue weeding, to reduce competition for water and nutrients.
• When the temperature is over 85 degrees, avoid chemical applications such as fertilizer, fungicide, or insecticide.
• Add compost and mulch to keep your garden cool and to prepare for fall planting.

4th Of July Themed Recipes

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Monday, July 4th, 2016 at 11:30 AM
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Looking for some fresh, new dishes to try this 4th of July? If so, here are just a few of the best 4th of July themed recipes from Pinterest.

Fourth of July Wands (makes 20 wands)


1 watermelon
2 pints blueberries
20 skewers


1. Slice the watermelon into 1/2 inch round slices, and then cut out star shapes using a three-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.
2. Gently slide the blueberries on wooden skewers* and finally place a watermelon star on the top.
3. Place the skewers in a tall glass or in decorated floral foam as an eatable centerpiece.
* If serving to young kids make sure they’re careful with the wooden skewers.

Thanks, Weelicious



One 12-ounce lemon pound cake (homemade or store bought)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups finely diced strawberries
10 8-ounce plastic (see-thru) cups


1. Cut the pound cake into 10 slices. Use a small STAR cookie cutter to cut out 10 stars from the center of each slice. Chop the remnants of each slice into small pieces. Set aside.

2. Place the cream cheese and sugar in a medium bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine them until well combined (1 to 2 minutes). Add the cream and continue to whip until the mixture is soft and creamy.

3. Assemble the trifles: Set all of the plastic cups on a tray. Sprinkle a few cubes of pound cake into each cup. Top with a small spoonful of cream and a spoonful of both blueberries and strawberries. Layer again- more pound cake, more cream and more berries, and then place a star-shaped piece of pound cake on top.

Thanks, Recipe Girl

Firecracker Popcorn


1 bag Pop Secret Homestyle microwave popcorn
1 cup white candy melts
1 package Strawberry Pop Rocks candy
Blue sprinkles


Prepare the popcorn according to package directions. Spread onto a cookie sheet and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, melt the candy melts and drizzle onto the popcorn.
Sprinkle Strawberry Pop Rocks onto the popcorn.
**If you want some EXTRA sizzle, use Blue Pop Rocks, too!**
Add sprinkles and allow to harden completely.

Thanks, The Nerds Wife

Red, White and Blue Patriotic Peppermint Patties


¼ cup butter, softened
⅓ cup light corn syrup
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1½ tsps lemon extract OR ½ to 1 tsp peppermint extract OR any other extract you want
food coloring – I used Wilton’s red and blue icing color in the gel format
½ cup granulated sugar


Combine butter and corn syrup together in a small bowl.
Add 2 cups powdered sugar and your choice of extract and beat until well combined. Add extract ½ teaspoon at a time until the mixture reaches your desired flavor.
Stir in an additional cup of powdered sugar.
Turn bowl onto a cutting board sprinkled with last cup of powdered sugar.
Knead the mixture until sugar is absorbed and is completely smooth.
Divide dough into three portions.
Tint one portion red with the red food color/gel and one blue. Leave one portion white.
Shape into ¾ inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.
Flatten gently with a fork.
Let candies stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 day.
Store in an airtight container.

Thanks, Mom On Time Out



1-1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
24 strawberries, thinly sliced
1 cup blueberries


Preheat oven to 325°F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Form the mixture into 3 small balls and knead each one until smooth.

On a lightly floured surface, roll a ball of dough to 1/2-inch thick. Use a star cookie cutter to cut into stars. Place them 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are set. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, blend the cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Carefully spread icing evenly over each cooled cookie. Slice each strawberry slice in half and arrange on the cookies pointing outward. Place three blueberries in the center of each cookie.

Thanks, Gold Medal Flour

Patriotic Cake Pops


Red candy melts
Royal blue candy melts
White cookie icing
White sugar sprinkles
1 can prepared vanilla frosting
Favorite cake recipe or cake mix (plus ingredients)


50 cookie sticks
Wax paper
Cookie sheet
Chocolate melting pot


Prep the cake. Bake cake as directed on package. When completely cool, break the cake into crumbs by hand in a large bowl. Mix in full can of frosting until well blended.
Make cake balls. Roll the cake mixture into 50 1-inch balls and place on waxed paper.
Melt the candy melts as directed. For the “stars” of your flag, use the royal blue candy melts. For the “stripes” pops, use the red candy melts.
Add the sticks. Dip a cookie stick about 1/2 inch into warm candy melt and insert the stick into the rounded part of a cake ball. Repeat for remaining cake balls.
Prop up pops. Place pops cake end down, on waxed paper while the chocolate is still slightly warm, so the candy hardens into a flat surface at the top (this will help your pops stand up when serving).
Cool the pops. Place the cake pops in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, to firm.
Add a second layer of chocolate. Once the pops are firm, remove from the fridge/freezer and dip each into the melted chocolate, tapping excess chocolate off.
Sprinkle on the stars. Decorate the blue pops with white sprinkles before chocolate coating hardens.
Drizzle on the stripes. Drizzle white cookie icing over the red pops after chocolate coating hardens.
Make your flag fly! Line up your pops to create the Stars and Stripes on a tray.

Thanks, Party City & MySTLMommy!

Kid Friendly DIY Memorial Day Projects

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Thursday, May 26th, 2016 at 2:30 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Memorial Day weekend is a time of reflection for our fallen soldiers, reminding us to commemorate their heroic efforts, while spending time with our own family. This idea is not always easy for our littlest ones to understand, so why not create something patriotic together to celebrate this important holiday weekend?

Here are a few festive red, white and blue projects for Memorial Day to complete with your kids, ranging from decorations to food to keepsakes.

Toothpick Flag Wreath~ This is perfect for toddlers to help out with- all you need is a hollow Styrofoam circle, then stick in the flag toothpicks until it looks fluffy. Who knew toothpicks could be so decorative? Thanks to The Picky Apple for this awesome idea.

Painted Star Backyard~ Transform your backyard into a field of patriotic stars with this idea by The Concrete Cottage. After a little rain, the paint will fade.

Rice Candles~ Putting this patriotic Memorial Day decor together could not be easier than with this project by Today’s Creative Blog. Simply dye rice red and blue with food coloring, then layer the colors around a candle in a jar of your choice.

Flags in a Jar~ Layer JELL-O and fruit to create these adorable flags in a jar from Green Acres Hobby Farm. They look so festive, and taste great too!

Flag Cake~ If you’re feeling super ambitious, try baking a Hidden Flag Cake, which is made with a layer of red cake, a layer of white frosting, and a blue cake center so when sliced, everyone is served a perfect flag.

Make a Summer Bucket List With Your Kiddos

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 at 2:45 PM
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Most of us are looking forward to summer and spending more time with our kids but the lack of schedule can sometimes make it hard to organize your time. For me, I want to make sure our days aren’t so full of activities and events that we miss needed time to stop, relax and just enjoy being together.

Plus, it is also important to teach my little ones how to be creative when they are bored and how to appreciate discovering adventure in our own backyard and the use their imaginations. Above all, I just want to cherish these summer moments and enjoy this precious time as a family before the school year starts back up!

So here’s a fun idea to create a Summer bucket list with your family. Everyone can contribute, no matter their age and if you knock everything off your list by August, you are sure to have had a great off season! These are a few of the ideas my family came up with to get your started:

  • Visit the summer display at the library to check out new books and read throughout the summer
  • Make homemade playdoh
  • Roast marshmallows
  • Run through the sprinklers
  • Go to a baseball game 
  • Rest and relax at home
  • Go to the water park
  • Visit Daddy’s office and have lunch with him
  • Make ice cream at home
  • Go to the zoo

FREE Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Monday, May 2nd, 2016 at 3:15 PM
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Tight on cash but you don’t want your mom to think you’ve forgotten her? You can’t deny that moms deserve a day to be celebrated, but every year Mother’s Day somehow creeps up on us much quicker than anticipated. So here are 8 completely free of cost ideas that will still make your mother feel loved on her special day!

1. Wash and clean out her car~ We spend a lot of time in our cars, so do this tiresome chore for her!

2. Send her a photo montage~  Collect as many nostalgic pictures as you can and create a collage that you can email to her or post to Facebook.

3. Volunteer together~ This will bring you closer while helping out your community.

4. Create an epic music playlist~ Remember those mixed tapes? Use Spotify instead for an updated version of this.

5. Pledge to finally quit that bad habit she hates~ Ban texting and driving or biting your nails- give her peace of mind on her special day!

6. Give her a homemade scrub~ Most of the ingredients in these DIY scrubs are handy in your kitchen.

7. Give her your copy of your favorite book~ Write an inscription on the first few pages as to why she’d love it too.

8. Make a wine label for a bottle of red or white~ There are printable templates online and you can throw one one a bottle you have lying around the house!

Make Sure You Have A Severe Weather Disaster Kit

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Monday, April 25th, 2016 at 2:00 PM
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The possibility of very severe storms is rolling into North Texas tomorrow again and it is crucial that you have your supplies ready beforehand. Use this checklist from (PDF) to build your disaster supply kit or here is a basic list to get you started:

Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First Aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Below are some other items for your family to consider adding to its supply kit. Some of these items, especially those marked with a * can be dangerous, so be very careful when storing them.

    • Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book or a print out of the information on
    • Rain gear
    • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
    • Cash or traveler’s checks, change
    • Paper towels
    • Fire Extinguisher
    • Tent
    • Compass
    • Matches in a waterproof container*
    • Signal flare*
    • Paper, pencil
    • Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
    • Disinfectant*
    • Household chlorine bleach*

You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

  • Medicine dropper
  • Important Family Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

Amazon has a great selection of already made kits and these can save you money over time. Be safe this week and make sure you have a good weather app downloaded on your phone that will alert you of conditions in your area!

Home Design Tips on Your Tax Refund

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Sunday, April 17th, 2016 at 4:00 PM
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Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.39.30 PM

North Texas designer shares tips on getting the most for your decor dime

Are you getting a tax refund and want to spruce up your home?  Did you know last year the average refund was $3,120?

If you want to add some beauty to the home or add value for a future sale, here are some super tips from Randal Weeks, McKinney-based designer and founder of Aidan Gray and owner of Gray Living.

Don’t wait on the bathroom. One of the places you will get the biggest bang for your buck is the bathrooms. Weeks notes, “Updating a drop-in sink with new fixtures is a way to have a fresh look in one of your home’s most used rooms. In renovating your bathrooms, you can add value to your home by selecting timeless elements. One of the biggest issues buyers have when making offers on the home is the cost of redoing other people’s bad choices or trendy decisions. They factor those costs into the offer. Keep it timeless, keep it easy, and you increase the true value of the home.”

Draw the curtains on custom curtains. Another great way to spend that refund is by adding or updating window coverings. That’s not to say that custom curtains are the way to go. “Time and time again, I’ve specified and fretted over the perfect fabric, the perfect stitch, the perfect layout, etc. for custom window treatments for several oversized windows. I found that it can be an enormous waste of money. In hindsight, ready-made silk would have been a better choice. Stick to neutrals, you can always add banding, but they never go out of style. I tell all my clients to stick to classic colors in ready-made draperies. And the best part is, when you save money on the front side, you can buy two colors and change them out seasonally.”

Lighten up! Lighting is critical, and you cannot have too much of it in your home. Invest in unique lighting fixtures that can be conversations pieces. Lighting can set the mood of a room, not by the actual light bulb, but by the fixture as a whole. Consider design as well as function when choose your decorative lighting. Just like one would invest in a fine piece of jewelry to flatter and flaunt, lighting can be considered architectural jewelry in that it makes a statement and shows personality.

In honor of Tax Day, Gray Living, a home décor and lifestyle shop in the heart of McKinney’s town square, that specializes in casual European elegance will offer customers 15 percent off their entire purchase on April 15-16 (some restrictions may apply).


Gray Living is located in the heart of downtown McKinney, Texas, at 113 N. Kentucky Avenue. For more information, visit



5 Fun Earth Day Activities For Kids

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Friday, April 15th, 2016 at 9:15 AM
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Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd and events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for our environment!

Here is a list of Earth Day events and activities in North Texas.

Here are 5 fun and easy at-home activities to do with your kiddos as a reminder to slow down and appreciate the bounty of our beautiful planet!


Peanut Butter & Pine Cone Bird Feeder~ You only need 4 components: a pine cone, peanut butter, twine, and bird seed. First, tie twine to top of pine cone to use later to hang your bird feeder. Next, using a spoon or knife, spread a thick layer of peanut butter all over the pine cone. Then, roll it around in the seed, making sure to press the seeds into the peanut butter and hang in your favorite tree!

Make Recycled Paper~ This slightly messy project requires some patience and preparation, but it’s not tricky and the process is worth exploring.

Supplies- Screen, Large Tub, Washcloth/rag/burp cloth/large piece of felt, Water, Torn paper from newspaper, tissue paper, magazines, etc. and a Blender Steps– Shred the paper up into little pieces (roughly 2″ square). Add paper to the blender, cover it with water, and run the blender on a low speed. (add more water if the blender doesn’t move easily) Continue to run the blender a little bit faster until you get the paper mixture into a nice, smooth pulp and add more water if your pulp is still chunky. Spread the pulp in a thin and uniform layer across the screen and cover this with a rag or cloth diaper to absorb the extra water, while also pushing the water through the screen into the tub. Place one hand firmly on top of the cloth and then flip the screen over onto a work surface. Remove the screen and put the cloth plus paper pulp in a spot where it could dry, undisturbed, for about a day. The thicker the paper, the longer it will take to dry.

Rainbow Scavenger Hunt~ Toddlers and preschoolers will a lot of fun playing this game that’s all about learning and searching for the colors of the rainbow. All you need is a camera and some time. To play, start with the color red. When your little one spots something red, snap a photo of it. Then look for something orange, and so on. Not only will they be learning the rainbow, but you’ll be tuning our eyes toward objects in your neighborhood and your local environment.

Mud Pie Kitchen~ This is a favorite for little boys!  Go through your kitchen or head to Goodwill to find cheap pots, pans and cooking utensils. Then set aside a place in your back yard garden to be the dirt pile and make an area for working on such as an old play table or unused plastic crates. Set up the hose or buckets of water near your new mud kitchen and let their creativity flow!

Recycled Garden Collages~ Here’s a way to bring a beautiful garden indoors! Start by discussing things you might find outside like flowers, fences, bugs and more. Then collect cardboard food boxes, straws and lids to create a fun flower filled garden like the one pictured below!


Sewing Machine Starter Kit Essentials

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Thursday, April 14th, 2016 at 2:30 PM
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We often post deals on sewing machines because they are truly a great way to save money on all types of items from pillows to curtains to clothes to costumes.  Learning to sew is not as hard as you think and whether you’re just starting or can stitch in your sleep, there are basic accessories and tools you’ll reach for regularly. Here’s a short list for creating a starter kit for yourself or tp give it as a gift- it is a great skill to teach your kiddos!

Starter kit Must-Haves

Fabric- Decide what type of sewing—fashion, quilting—you think interests you most, and buy the appropriate fabric. Start with a couple yards of fashion fabric or a stack of fat quarters. (A fat quarter is a one-fourth yard cut of fabric that usually measures 18″ x 22″).

Pin cushion- These cute little cushions often come with a dangling attachment that sharpens and removes rust from pins and needles. Some clip on to your wrist for handy access.

Fabric Scissors- Also known as fabric shears, are equipped with very sharp edges and specially designed to cleanly slice through fabric fibers. Large shears are great for cutting lengths of fabric, while small fabric scissors (sometimes called snips) are used for smaller detailed work and cutting. You’ll want to reserve these tools for fabric only, since using them on paper will dull the blade.

Seam ripper- Even experts stumble on a seam now and again and beginners know the experience quite well. Luckily, a seam ripper will give you a do-over—as many times as you need it.

Soft tape measure/ruler-  From checking a hem to checking your waistline, a measuring tool is a must-have. For fashion sewing, choose a soft tape measure that will wrap around curves and fall to the floor with ease. For quilting, you can use either a ruler or soft tape measure—but guess which one we have a soft spot for?

Ball head pins- These versatile, must-have pins are perfect for securing fabric to fabric, so there’s no slippage when you run it all through the machine. For fashion, use them to pin a pattern to fabric before cutting.

Bobbins  Most new sewing machines come with a handy starter set of bobbins. But as projects add up, you’ll appreciate the time-saving trick of stocking spool/bobbin pairs for your go-to colors.

Thread-  You don’t need a vast selection of thread colors. Start with neutrals like white, black and cream. You’ll use these colors frequently, so buy larger spools if your machine can fit them.

Universal needles- No matter which thread or stitch you choose, universal needles will be your go-to for everyday projects. With use, needles will eventually dull or break, so always keep a stash of these hard-working essentials on-hand.

Easy Spring Home Maintenance Projects That Will Save You Money

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Wednesday, March 30th, 2016 at 2:30 PM
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Let’s talk about some easy money-saving home maintenance projects that can save you money, too. Here are a few projects to tackle this spring:

Clean the refrigerator and air conditioner coils. Your fridge and air conditioner work in nearly the same way – by exchanging heat through a system of coils. Luckily, cleaning these coils is simple. Just take a vacuum hose to the coils on the back of your fridge. For an outside air conditioner unit, you’ll need to  clean using canned air and/or a stiff brush and spray bottle.

Schedule routine heating, ventilation and air conditioning maintenance. Yes, it costs money to get an HVAC professional to look over your system but routine maintenance costs much less than major fixes down the road. So call and schedule your HVAC maintenance now. To save even more, check websites such as Groupon for deals with local HVAC companies.

Check the washing machine hoses. Over time, washing machine hoses can crack, which can cause leaks. These inconspicuous leaks go on for weeks or months unnoticed and can cause mold problems, water damage and more.

Clean the dryer vent. Just like your refrigerator doesn’t work properly with dusty coils, your dryer is less efficient with a lint-filled vent. Even if you clean the lint trap before every load of laundry, you’ll still get some lint in the vent hose, which builds up over time. To clean the vent, just remove the vent hose from the back of the dryer and vacuum it well. Then, remove the vent cover on the outside of your home, and vacuum it from that side, too.

Re-caulk windows and doors. You might have caulked your doors and windows before the winter chill set in but even the best caulk can harden, crack and shrink when it’s cold outside. Touch up where needed.


Clean gutters. This can be a Saturday-long spring chore for many, but it’s important, especially if you live in an area with April showers becasue water doesn’t properly pass through clogged gutters. And that means more water gets near the foundation of your home. This may not cause immediate problems, but over time, too much water near the foundation can cause damage and weakening, which are expensive problems to fix later.

Reclaimed Wood Wall ~ Permanent & Non-Permanent Options

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 7:30 PM
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Yep, I’m doing some work around the house and I’m considering building a reclaimed wood wall.  I’ve done some research and found some great insight and options.

Adding reclaimed wood to your home is becoming hugely popular.  It’s a great way to bring in warmth and character.  It can be a very small investment that makes a big visual statement.

Two of the most common challenges when creating an accent wall is that the products are difficult to install and they are permanent. But, I’ve also found an option if you don’t want it to become permanent (i.e. live in an apartment but want the rustic look or don’t want to damage your walls.)

Permanent Reclaimed Wood Wall

Reclaimed wood can come from a variety of sources — shipping pallets, boats, barns, sheds, mills, commercial structures and even your home if you’re remodeling. It’s possible to score a pile of reclaimed wood for free if you know where to look and can do the legwork.

I’ve seen wood being offered on NextDoor Neighbors, Craigslist and even on Facebook Garage Sale groups.  Local excavation companies can also be a good source, since they are often called in to demolish old buildings, and the less they have to excavate, the better. It helps to be able to see it in person to get a feel for how it has weathered and aged — the characteristics that make it so distinctive.

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Tools you will need: If you decide to take on the project yourself, your list of supplies will vary depending on the condition of the wood. But you will probably need a nail gun, a chop saw and sandpaper. You’ll also want to know the square footage of the wall you’re covering — this will help with budgeting as well.

Here are some videos to use as resources to get you started.

If you don’t want to do the work yourself,  I found quotes for wood pallet walls for around $1,000.

Non-Permanent Reclaimed Wood Wall

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There is also a new company that just started and claims you can create a designer look in under an hour.  Now for the cool part, this product is removable and reusable and it doesn’t damage the wall!  Apartments and homes can now have that modern-chic design trend with the ability to remove the wall covering (without any damage to the wall or the product) and take it with them when they move.   Artis Wall is just getting started, but you can pre-order product right now by calling. The MSRP is $269.99 for 20 square feet.

Artis Wall’s patent pending installation method provides a simple and smart application of the planks. Go here to see a video on how it works.

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Each Artis Wall box comes with A.I.M. strips or Artis Installation Method strips. These strips make installation quick and easy, providing users with easy removal, leaving little-to-no damage to the wall.

The thickness of the planks makes each piece lightweight and easy to work with. Artis Wall planks come in random lengths to provide you with the ability to make one-of-a-kind patterns. They can easily be cut to size.

Artis Wall had been accepting pre-orders on Kickstarter starting at the early bird price of $215 for 20-square feet, which is under $11 per square-foot. It appears they got their funding so your best bet is to call and get a price. (330-923-3303)

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North Texas March Gardening Tips

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Monday, March 21st, 2016 at 2:00 PM
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If you want to have a fantastic yard this spring and summer, March is the time to start staying on top of tasks that need attention. There can be so much to do after the winter months that we thought we could share some help prioritizing your spring chores!

Do It Now

~ Apply a dormant spray to fruit trees until about midmonth. After that point, dilute the solution concentration by half if you spray. Follow label directions carefully.

~ Divide clump-forming, spring-blooming shrubs before flowers or leaves appear. Candidates include Japanese kerria, forsythia, and winter honeysuckle. Cut plants back to about 4 inches before digging clumps.

~ Finish pruning evergreens and cut to shape yo control plant size.

~ Clean up rose beds, removing any fallen leaves from last season. Refresh mulch around roses. Feed plants with a slow-release rose fertilizer. As new leaves emerge, start weekly sprays for black spot.

~Double-check irrigation systems to ensure all is working fine.

Prepare for Upcoming Chores

~Wait to prune spring-blooming shrubs and trees until after flowering.

~Finish pruning summer-flowering plants that form blooms on new growth, like butterfly bush or rose of Sharon.

~Let self-sowing plants set and drop seed. This includes bachelor’s button, calendula, larkspur, and forget-me-not.

~Fill bird feeders and clean birdhouses to offer room and board to returning migratory species. Feeders can stage a fascinating show as birds wing their way north to summer breeding grounds.

Grow Your Own Food

~Plant cool-season varieties, such as radishes, peas, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower as soon as you can work the ground — they’ll survive frosty weather.

~Wait to plant warm-season annuals such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, sweet potatoes, and watermelons, after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to about 60 degrees F (a temperature in which you can comfortably walk on soil in bare feet).

~ March is a great time to plant berry crops and citrus trees. This list includes strawberries, blueberries, boysenberries, currants, and grapes.
putting in a new garden.

Grass Works

~Fertilize Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass lawns that were overseeded for winter. If you didn’t overseed warm-season turf, don’t fertilize it now. Also, don’t fertilize St. Augustinegrass or centipedegrass yet.

~Grubs become active this month and feast on grass before molting. Check with your local extension office to learn which treatments work best in your area this time of year.

~Get the jump on crabgrass and goosegrass by applying a preemergent herbicide. Time applications to coincide with forsythia flowering.

Mulch Matters Most

~The single best thing you can do to save time and energy in the garden is spread mulch. A 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch will stop many weeds from growing. It also helps your soil stay moist during hot, dry periods this summer.

Here’s a hint: Look for inexpensive or free mulch materials in your area. For example, many municipalities offer a free compost pile for city residents.

Prune Spring Shrubs

~If any of your spring-blooming shrubs or trees (including dogwood, lilac, forsythia, flowering quince, or saucer magnolia) need a cut back, take out the trimmers right after the flowers fade. This helps ensure that you get plenty of blooms next year.

Deadhead Your Flowers

~ It sounds harsh, but deadheading is simply the act of cutting spent flowers from your plants. It will make your plants look better, help reduce problems with pests and diseases, and may even encourage your plants to bloom more.

Don’t Fertilize YET

Don’t jump the gun and feed your lawn too early. In most areas it’s best to wait another month or two when the grass starts actively growing.

Spring Cleaning Checklist + Tips

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Sunday, March 20th, 2016 at 2:00 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

spring cleaning

Happy first day of Spring!

And that means, it’s time to do some spring cleaning! Here are some spring cleaning tips to get you started.

Air out – Get all the germs, smells, and toxins out of your house. Open your doors and windows and set ceiling fans on low. Airing out mattresses a couple times a year also reduces dust and dander. While the windows are open wash the linens and vacuum and rotate your mattress..

De-Clutter – Tackle a closet a week and clear out all the items you no longer use. I do the one-year rule.  If I haven’t worn it in a year, I don’t need it.  Donate these items to charity. We get emails and mail all the time with donation trucks in our area.  Get some shoe racks , baskets, or shelves to better organize yourself.

Clean Furniture – If you have a leather coach make sure and clean and treat it.  I put a note in my calendar every three months and do it on that day so I don’t forget. Protect wood floors by checking the pads on furniture feet and replacing as needed.

dustDe-Dust – Check the often overlooked areas, such as light fixtures and ceiling fans. Dust down house plants and check the corners of your walls to see if there an any dust or dander.

Kitchen Spruce Up – Clean your refrigerator by wiping down the shelves and drawers with a non-toxic cleaning solution made with two tablespoons baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water. And don’t forget that extra fridge in the garage! Tackle the microwave next by heating a coffee cup of water mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice on high for 3 to 5 minutes, just long enough for the solution to boil and steam up the microwave. Keep the door shut for a minute longer, and then carefully remove the hot cup. Wipe away loosened grime with a soft cloth.

Sanitize the garbage disposal. Drop a few lemon slices and two tablespoons of baking soda down the disposal. Run the grinder and then rinse with hot water.

These are just a few ways to tackle your spring cleaning projects and I’ve provided a spring cleaning checklist for you too!  Here is to a happy & clean home!


SavingStar Healthy Offer~ Get 20% Off Cabbage + Festive Simple Beer-Braised Cabbage with Bacon Recipe

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 at 2:30 PM
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This week’s new healthy offer to save on fresh fruits or vegetables is Save 20% on any single purchase of loose Cabbage! Perfect for St. Paddy’s day tomorrow!

Cabbage is almost as popular on St. Patrick’s Day as green beer and that’s because it is a quintessential part of Irish cuisine along with bacon and potatoes. Tenant farmers in the 17th century relied heavily on cabbage and potatoes to get them through the year. The more prosperous farmers also grew pigs, so they were able to season their vegetables with the pork parts that weren’t needed elsewhere. When the potato famine hit, cabbage became an even more critical food source.

So on St. Patrick’s Day it’s customary to eat cabbage in some form… here’s a recipe I use for my family to celebrate March 17th. This would go well with corned beef but also with roasted chicken, salmon, a steak or pretty much anything.

Simple Beer-Braised Cabbage with Bacon

6 strips bacon, halved crosswise
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 medium (about 2 pounds) green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
12-ounce bottle or can beer (any type)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add bacon and cook until crisp, turning as needed, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan; return it to medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add cabbage and toss occasionally in the pot for 3 or 4 minutes, until it begins to wilt and is well mixed with the onions.

Add beer and bring to simmer. Partially cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender and most of the liquid is evaporated. Crumble reserved bacon and stir it into the cabbage. Serve hot or warm. Serves 8.

March Madness Bracket Mapping with Kids ~ Great Educational Tool

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 at 8:32 PM
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March Madness Bracket Mapping with Kids ~ Great Educational ToolSo my 10 year old daughter, Ava, filled out her March Madness bracket last night.  Not only was it fun to see her thought process on guessing who would win, but we quickly realized she has the nicest handwriting in the whole house!

Then I realized that taking the March Madness Bracket and mapping it out with your kids would be a great educational tool on U.S. states and cities.

You can go here or here for printable maps and try this exercise with your kids for some fun and ongoing education.  You can print out the maps and have your kids choose the states or even cities depending on their age level and ability.  Use stamps, markers, colors, whatever you want to mark the teams involved.

Here is a cheat sheet to help you if you need :)! What a great way to keep your kids involved in March Madness, too!

March Madness Mapping ~ Great Educational Tool

St. Patty’s Day Lunch Box Ideas

Posted by My Dallas Mommy on Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 at 2:15 PM
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St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to send your child to school with a fun lunch- give them a special message to let them know how lucky they are, and you’re sure to get smiles and a hug in return!  These St. Patty’s Day lunch box ideas will give you a head start to creating a cute, whimsical lunch for your little ones- mix and match according to what your kid likes!

~Green applesauce or apples
~Apple juice with green label on bottle (add a drop of green food coloring for color)
~Apple juice box in green packaging
~Small bag sour cream and onion chips
~Apple Nutri-grain bar
~Rainbow Goldfish (if you are really ambitious pick out only the green ones)
~Clear green Easter basket wrap (for sandwiches)
~Pick out the green M&M’s and make cookies (I’m doing this next week)
~Dye vanilla pudding (or make pistachio!)
~Green jello
~Dye applesauce
~Clear Kool-Aid dyed green or green Kool Aid
~Store bought St Patrick’s cookies
~Yogurt dyed green
~Pickles or olives
~Think green (tons of veggie options)
~Green grapes or kiwis
~Lucky Charms cereal