Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blogging Goals Redefined, and an Updated Spring Chalkboard

Today, I'm bringing you a quick update of an upcycled craft. Part of my goals from my Blogging Staycation was to update and revive some of my old content along with adding in some new content. What us a Blog Staycation you might ask? Bloggers Jen of JENerally Informed, Trish of The Trish List, and Julie of Girl on the Move brought a group of bloggers together with a common goal of moving their blogs to the next level. They created a Facebook group, hosted chats on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #BlogStaycation, and sent out informative newsletters each day of the Staycation.

Because of the Staycation, I was able to connect with new bloggers and moms, and make a few new virtual friendships. With the help of tutorials from Kristie from Blog Ambitions, I was able to set up Google Analytics properly to finally track my numbers correctly.

Here's a few of my blogging goals to accomplish for the remainder of 2015:
  • Update and revive old content
  • Incorporating more guest posts
  • Incorporate more lifestyle posts
  • Utilizing my editorial calendar to its fullest and creating content to get ahead.
  • Monetizing: signing up for a campaign
  • Getting my newsletter set up and gaining subscribers
  • Moving from Blogger to a self-hosted site

An updated look at an Upcycled Spring Chalkboard. A quick 10 minute craft
You may remember my Spring Chalkboard that I created last year using some upcycled materials and a bit of chalkboard paint. It happens to be one of my most viewed posts, and I love it. It matches the décor in my kitchen, so I put it up each year. I wanted to freshen it up this year, making it bolder and a few sparkles. Everything is better with sparkles!

To track back, here was the finished project, originally:

It all started with this harmless, old wooden frame with a mirror in the middle. Simple, and functional.

But it had absolutely no way to hang it, so I came up with a solution:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Meal Plan Monday: Wrapping up March and Hello April

I'm a little late getting my weekly meal plan out to you guys, some weekends just get away from you! This past weekend, we celebrated the Teenager's 15th birthday with a night out at the restaurant of his choosing, and ended with ice cream. I've been trying to get some important blogging tasks accomplished (like setting up Google Analytics), and I connected with a great group of bloggers for a Blog Staycation and I'm working on mapping out my blogging goals for the rest of the year. I don't want to divulge any spoilers, but let's just say there will be a few changes coming throughout the rest of the year!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Signs of Spring: Favorites from the Spring Craft Blog Hop III, week 2

Its finally Friday! I'm having a working weekend on a blogging "staycation", I guess you can consider it Spring Cleaning for the blog. I've learned so much about blogging since I first started, and even more so since I returned to blogging in January, that I think it's finally time to clean and update some of my old content, to help streamline everything. But before I dive into that, I couldn't forget to bring you my Friday Favorites from the Spring Craft Blog Hop.

Signs of Spring: Highlights from the Spring Craft Blog Hop - Get ready for Easter with Friday Favorites at Creative Mama Messy House

We're into our third edition of the Spring Craft Blog Hop, our biggest and longest hop of the series. Each week, I will highlight five of the crafts linked up from bloggers around the interwebs. Be sure to stop by the party each week to see all the new crafts that have been linked up, and add your own as well!
Easter is near, and each of these projects have reflect Easter in them. From bright colored Easter Eggs to bunnies and tulips - these are the signs that Easter is almost here. I hope these crafts inspire your Easter décor, as well as make you smile, like I did.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

Who doesn't like a double dose of chocolate in the mornings? These Double Chocolate Banana Muffins are extra chocolate-y with Ghirardelli chocolate chips and unsweetened cocoa powder. And of course, adding bananas to the mix makes these healthy, right? Whether you want to call these banana muffins with chocolate added, or chocolate muffins with banana added is up to you!

Start your morning with a double dose of chocolate with these Double Chocolate Banana Muffins. They make a wonderful afterschool snack with a glass of milk, too!
Yes, I'm that lady that almost always has some kind of home-baked good on her counter. Not only can you control the quality of ingredients, but you can also control the portion size when you bake at home. Have you ever looked at the calorie counts of Costco's muffins? The banana nut muffin alone has 640 calories and over 30 grams of fat, yikes! And sure, you could cut in in half, but who is going to do that? These Double Chocolate Banana Muffins are under 300 calories and 1/3 of the fat of a giant Costco-sized muffin. And they have chocolate!
Double Chocolate Banana Muffin recipe: These muffins are loaded with deep, dark chocolate, a perfect pick-me-up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

We're Out of Soda... (and the Reasons I'm Not Buying More)

As part of my "Get Healthy 2015" goals, I've decided to stop another bad habit of mine. We've successful cut down eating fast food to 2-3 times a month (if that), and we're back on track with three months under our belt of home-cooked dinners. My house is slowly getting organized as I continue to clear out the clutter. There are major things left on my list of getting healthy, and those are cutting out soda from my diet and working out regularly.

We're Out of Soda... (and the Reasons I'm Not Buying More) -a Get Healthy 2015 journey

My husband and I are soda addicts. When you say "grab a cold one" in this house, we're not asking for a beer. We want an ice-cold Coke (for me) or Dr. Pepper (for my husband). We've been known to go through entire 6-packs in a day. Our recycling bin is often in a state of overflow, from soda cans.

Putting the above paragraph down in writing is a huge step. It's not like I was ever not educated about how bad soda is. It was a habit, and I ignored the warnings from others. I've struggled with weigh issues most of my adult life, but yet I was constantly in denial that soda could be the root cause.  Reading this, you might ask, "why now? Why all of a sudden are you committed to not buying soda anymore?"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stitch Fix: March Fix Review and Reveal

Have I mentioned before how much I love my Stitch Fix styling service? Oh I have? Well, you're going to hear it again. I. Love. Stitch Fix! Taking a three-year old to the mall or to the outlets is usually a disaster waiting to happen, and we both end up stressed out and cranky before the outing is over. That's why I'm so happy my sister introduced me to Stitch Fix.
March Stitch Fix Review - I'm in love with these Spring styles

**This review is in full 100% my own opinion. I am writing this review out of personal interest only, and I'm in no way being compensated by Stitch Fix, or any other third party. That said, if you choose to sign up for your own Stitch Fix deliveries using the links provided on this site, you will be using my referral code. What does that mean: You will still pay the same price for your fixes, but I will receive a $25 credit when your first fix ships.**
Bring on Spring with my March Stitch Fix! For this fix, I specifically asked for tees and tanks that reflect the lightness and warmth of Spring. Living in Northern California, a t-shirt and jeans is what I'm wearing 85% of the time, even in the winter months, so its only fitting to make sure I have plenty warm-weather tops on hand. This Fix did not disappoint, even if I didn't end up keeping all the pieces.
Never heard of Stitch Fix? Stitch Fix is an innovative styling service that pairs real stylists with on-line clients, sending you 5 handpicked pieces each Fix that your stylist thinks you will love. You fill out a style profile online, and provide detailed feedback for each piece you are sent, whether you chose to keep it or return it. It also helps to set up your own Pinterest board that your stylist can refer to, for further insights on your style preferences or the current styles you're digging!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - March #4

I hope you had a lovely weekend, and you are refreshed for Monday! This past weekend was full of productivity and sunshine, as well as making a plan for the week ahead. We celebrated one kid's birthday last week, and we have another one this week. I have a request for pie as birthday dessert this time, so I'll be fitting in baking into my busy schedule! Tell me, what is your favorite pie?

Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Meal Plan Monday for the week of March 23 - 29

Friday, March 20, 2015

Signs of Spring: Favorites from the Spring Craft Blog Hop III, week 1

Happy Spring! I hope you have been enjoying all the spring crafts that have been linked up to this edition of the Spring Craft Blog Hop. We're into our third edition of the Hop, our biggest and longest hop of the series. Each week, I will highlight five of the crafts from bloggers around the interwebs. Be sure to stop by the party each week to see all the new crafts that have been linked up, and add your own as well!

Get inspired for Spring with the Spring Craft Blog Hop - See this week's features on Creative Mama Messy House

This week, I chose an assortment of unique crafts that celebrates the warmer weather that spring will be bringing, along with all its greenery and bright colors. I made sure to add an Easter craft in there too, since Easter is only a few weeks away (Easter this year is on April 5th). The best thing about link parties is that everyone brings their unique sense of style, and you get to "meet" new bloggers and be introduced to blogs new and old!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Craft Blog Hop - Easter, Mother's Day, and Spring

Welcome to the third in a four-part spring craft blog hop challenge for the spring season! This hop will run from March 18th - May 25th and will be the longest and biggest of the hops. We're challenging you to create a craft project that reflects Easter, recycled crafts, Earth Day, Mother's Day, Teacher's Day, May Day, Cinco De Mayo or a General Spring theme. Please join us in this challenge and link-up your crafty creation at the bottom of this post and have it shared on 19 blogs!

I'm so happy to be a part of the Spring Craft Blog Hop, be sure to check out my Patchwork Polka Dot Easter Eggs below for a quick and easy craft to get you in the spirit of Easter. Be sure to visit all of my fabulous co-hosts to see how they shook out the last of winter and welcomed spring!
Come link up your crafts at the Spring Craft Blog Hop - running from March 18 to May 25, get crafting and decorating ideas for Spring!

Meet all 19 hosts!

Each host will be sharing their own craft to kick off the Spring Craft Blog Hop challenge, so make you visit each host to see their fabulous creations!

Patchwork Polka Dot Easter Eggs

If you are stopping over from the Spring Craft Blog Hop, hello and welcome! What's more fun for Easter than pastels, polka dots, and Easter eggs? I'm kicking off my Easter decorating right now, starting with these Patchwork Polka Dot Easter Eggs. Let's shift from green and shamrocks of St. Patrick's Day to patchwork and polka dots as the Spring officially starts Friday.

Patchwork Polka Dot Easter Eggs - Perfect Pastel Patchwork Eggs to decorate for Spring and Easter! A quick, easy, fun craft from Creative Mama Messy House

 As always, this craft is fast, inexpensive, and super fun! I covered Easter eggs with squares of polka dot cotton fabric to create a patchwork of colors, perfect for decorating with. I picked up a large container of plastic eggs (the kind you stick candy in) for under $5, and got plenty to fill Easter baskets and do a few crafts and activities with. The fabric quarters I picked up at Jo-Ann's Fabrics, so I had them in my stash.

Patchwork Polka Dot Easter Eggs - Perfect Pastel Patchwork Eggs to decorate for Spring and Easter! A quick, easy, fun craft from Creative Mama Messy House

Monday, March 16, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - March #3

Did you guys enjoy the crockpot meal plan last week? I love how crockpot cooking can really free up time when it comes to getting dinner on the table. When the majority of the meal gets slow-cooked, all I have to do was put together a quick side, steam a little rice (or put taco toppings in bowls) and dinner is ready in less than 20 minutes! This week, I'm taking some cues from last week, as well as taking some help from my freezer to keep on the easy dinner track. Tuesday is St. Patrick's Day, so of course corned beef will be involved, but no cabbage (what... can that be?). Keep reading for my full dinner plans for the week!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Signs of Spring from the #SCBH2015, Favorites from week 4

There is still time to link-up your St. Patrick's Day crafts to the Spring Craft Blog Hop! This is the final weekend for the current Spring Craft Blog Hop! The current Hop closes on March 17, and will re-open on March 18th with a new link-up including Easter crafts and continuing on the general spring theme. Thanks to My Pinterventures for organizing and all the other hosts for making this link-up party so successful!

Lots of shamrocks in this Signs of Spring Round-Up, featuring crafts from the #SCBH2015

I promised I would feature more St. Patrick Day crafts this week, and it wasn't hard to find some amazing projects. Creating these round-ups has been a breeze, because I already start out with great content linked up thanks to all of you! Lots of shamrocks in this round-up today, to bring you plenty of Irish Luck!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tex Mex Zucchini Boats

Ever get the craving for a good old fashioned Sloppy Joe, but you don't want to wreck your diet? Looking for a new dinner idea? These Tex Mex Zucchini Boats will give you the familiar flavors of your favorite sloppy sandwich, without the bun, and with added vegetable servings. This zucchini boats are an everyone-pleaser in the Messy House. Added bonus: they are grain-free, gluten-free, and if you omit the cheese topping, its even dairy-free! And let me tell you, if you do choose to lose the cheese, the meat filling gets extra crispy and delicious!
Tex Mex Zucchini Boats will give you the familiar flavors of your favorite sloppy sandwich, without the bun, and with added vegetable servings. This zucchini boats are an everyone-pleaser, and as an added bonus: they are grain and gluten-free!
I've mentioned these zucchini boats in my weekly meal plans a few weeks ago, and they are always a hit in our house. I based the recipe off of another family favorite: Sloppy Joe Pizza. In fact, any extra filling would be amazing baked onto a pizza. Or you can top nachos with it. Or tossed into pasta for a southwestern-style cheeseburger macaroni. Double the filling recipe and use leftovers as a base for homemade chili, and the possibilities go on...

Serve these Tex Mex Zucchini Boats with tortilla strips and lime wedges for a southwestern style dinner.

Tex Mex Spice Blend

With this easy spice blend, there is no more need to purchase those packets of taco seasoning. My Tex-Mex Spice Blend goes great on taco meat, fajitas, and is my secret weapon in my Tex Mex Zucchini Boats.

Let this Tex Mex Spice Blend be your secret weapon for tacos, fajitas, chili, and more!

When you start with a well-stocked spice rack, there is no need for pre-mixed spice blends and pricey packets of seasoning. Creating your own spice blends also mean that you can customize the spices to meet your flavor palette.

Tex Mex Spice Blend
(get printable recipe)

Ingredients - for one pound of meat
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (for mild) -OR- ground chipotle chili pepper (for hot)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Simply mix all the spices together and season as desired! This recipe makes 2 tablespoons of seasoning, which seems to be perfect for about one pound of meat.

Lose the prepackaged spice blends and let this Tex Mex Spice Blend be your secret weapon for tacos, fajitas, chili, and more!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rainbow Potato Stamping

We are taking advantage of all the sunshine we are getting by crafting outdoors! While the east coast is covered in snow, we are romping about in tees and shorts, soaking up vitamin D and getting our fingers dirty making potato prints. This art project is perfect for learning about color blending and easy for small kids to do because halved potatoes provide excellent grip for small hands.

Create rainbow art using primary colored paints and potatoes. Great art and learning activity for children!
I think its pretty obvious with my rainbow-themed projects this year, that I miss the rain! We have gotten 5 days of rain in the whole of 2015 so far, and this winter has felt more like an extended spring. I swear I'm going to sound like a weather nerd in the next statement, but I jump for joy anytime there is rain predicted in our forecast (and I get mad at the meteorologists when they are wrong).

Anyway, enough weather woes, whether (hey, see what I did there...) we are complaining that it is too hot, too cold, too dry, too frozen... Lets get on to the project!

Stamping with Potatoes using primary colored paints create beautiful rainbow effects - a great project for young children!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - A Special Week of Gluten-Free Crockpot Meals

My goal is to please. When my girlfriend asked me for a meal plan that could work with her dietary restrictions and her busy schedule, I jumped on the challenge. Her needs: a working mom with 3 young children. She wanted meals that could be prepared in the crockpot to easily be able to feed her family when she got home from work. And they had to be gluten-free.

Many people with Celiac disease can't just run through the drive-thru when they are in a rush for dinner. Gluten, even in the smallest amounts (say, a brief cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients) can cause distress. Thankfully, there are some amazing gluten-free food blogs in internet land! Between recipes from blogging friends and searching through Pinterest, I was able to come up with a plan that would suit both my girlfriend's needs, and follow my food philosophy.

When I think about cooking in the crockpot, I want more than just soups and stews. I want variety in colors, textures and flavors. I went in search of recipes that the whole family could enjoy, with just a little prep, including flipping the switch on the crockpot to "on". These recipes are so good, even people without dietary restrictions will love them!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Signs of Spring from the #SCBH2015, Favorites from week 3

I have the pleasure of co-hosting the 2015 Spring Craft Blog Hop with an awesome group of bloggers. This round-up features entries that caught my eye that are linked up to the current hop (St. Patrick's Day and Spring), running through March 17th. Be sure to link up your relevant projects anytime for a chance to be featured in future round-ups!

March is here, which means Spring is around the corner, and so is St. Patrick's Day. For the next 2 weeks, I'm going to focus on the St. Patrick's Day crafts that I have been seeing on the Spring Craft Blog Hop, and pick out a few of my favorites! We've gotten an amazing assortment of crafts, from kids crafts to décor and inspiration for outdoor projects - if you haven't checked out the Spring Craft Blog Hop, I suggest you pop on over!

Signs of Spring #3: St. Patrick's Day Favorites. Check out this round-up of projects from the Spring Craft Blog Hop 2015

I love how all of these crafts are made with basic art supplies to create new unique art pieces! These crafts could decorate a front window, or a fireplace mantle, or an entryway to create a fun vignette.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Printables for a Mini Gallery Wall

St. Patrick's Day is less than 2 weeks away, so it's time to get decorating, right? I have seen some great decorating inspiration on the Spring Craft Blog Hop, from all the co-hosts and the almost 100 entries so far. I have always wanted a fun gallery wall full of photos, printables, and other decorative things, so for St. Patrick's Day I though I would start one! I bought a variety of white frames in 8x10 and 5x7 sizes. I created a couple of printables, and finished the look off with green polka dot scrapbook paper and a swatch of themed fabric.

Make a Mini Gallery Wall for St. Patrick's Day using printables, fabric remnants, and scrapbook paper. Get 3 free printable Irish Blessings here:

I plan on changing out the printables and fabric with the seasons, and eventually they will be filled with family photos, so I felt like I will get a lot of bang for my buck that I spent on the photo frames. Since it's March, I went with green and shamrocks as my uniting factor. I was lucky enough to have the scrapbook paper and fabric already, so the only thing I had to buy for this project was the photo frames.
A collection of free printables, fabric remnants, and colorful scrapbook paper makes a fast, easy and cheap gallery wall project for St. Patrick's Day
A collection of free printables, fabric remnants, and colorful scrapbook paper makes a fast, easy and cheap gallery wall project for St. Patrick's Day

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chipotle Garlic Marinade

This Chipotle-Garlic Marinade is delicious and so versatile. It is excellent on steak and pork, or use it to liven up your chicken or shrimp! A few simple ingredients and a zip through the blender is all you need to create a zippy, south-of-the-border flavor to any grilled meat. After you try this marinade, you may never go back to bottled marinades again!

We use this marinade multiple times a month, it has become a staple in our house for our steak tacos. We use it to add zip to roast chicken and shrimp kabobs.

Meal Plan Monday: Welcome March

We said goodbye to February this weekend and welcomed March with a family trip to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Children's Discovery Museum. We ended the evening with dinner with my 91 year old young grandmother. All in all, it was a good day. We got back on the meal planning track last week, as my body recovered from being sick and my energy returned. This week, we are back on track with good-for-you meals that include a few surprises.

If you like my meal plans, you can follow along with then even easier! I've created printable files so you can print out my meal plan for the week or a blank planning page to write you own! Either way, I hope my weekly meal plan helps you better plan your own meals and gives you suggestions and inspiration to not fall into a cooking rut!