Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Five Essentials For Productivity

Happy Friday my favorite peeps! I was asked awhile back to do a blog post about my five essentials for productivity. Do you have a hard time staying productive during the day or find yourself easily distracted? Let me tell you right now that I sure do! In fact when I told Jeremy that I was going to be writing this post he about died laughing (thanks honey). I may still get side tracked from time to time, but I have found a few tips and tricks that I'd like to share with you.

1. Keep A Binder

Many of you have been following me since day one and know that I keep organized binders for just about everything. I have one for our day-to-day life, one for our family recipes, one for our upcoming wedding, and even one for this blog.


Keeping a binder is super helpful. All ideas, schedules, and notes are in one location making it easier to keep track of everything coming up.


This one has my calendar, schedule (marked "ideas" in the binder), craft ideas, summer ideas, and science ideas. I don't do the science experiments anymore, because it started to become too much to handle. It's easy to plan one fun activity or craft to do with the kids during the week, but when I tried to add more I noticed I was getting burned out. Instead of science posts, now I have recipe posts. We eat dinner every night, so it's easy to try a new recipe once a week and then post about it the next day. I really needed to have a section for crafts, science (now recipes), and summer. A lot of planning and purchasing are involved with those posts. I needed a place to take notes. 


I just put some lined paper behind the tabs, so I could make the notes I needed. 


I have a year's worth of monthly calendars in this binder as well. A lot of the time I make plans months in advance, this just lets me know what days are free and which ones I already have planned (easy to forget when you plan that far ahead). If it has to do with home life it goes here too, because a lot of times those plans interfere with what I have planned work wise. If it's something important, like an appointment or scheduled outing it gets put into the calendar on my phone too with a reminder set (a lot of times I set 2 reminders, one for a week in advance and one for the day before).


This is what a weekly schedule looks like. There is room for planned posts, ideas, a to-do list, weekly statistics, and bloggers to encourage. It's a nice tool to have. For your free calendar and schedule printables click HERE.

2. Surround Yourself With Creativity

I know, probably more than anyone, how distracting social media can be. I can easily get distracted for hours and completely forget to do something. However, when used in a scheduled amount of time it can be extremely useful.

I get a lot of my blog ideas from Pinterest. I even have a secret board just for this blog. I also try to pin my posts from the blog, so I get more foot traffic.



Facebook is also extremely helpful. I've started to get a really good blog following there and it's where I follow other bloggers. I have also found a lot of fun crafts and recipes there that other people have posted.

Instagram is another source for my ideas and a way to catch up on the day-to-day lives of fellow bloggers.

I do have a Twitter account, but everything gets posted there automatically. It honestly confuses me and I'm not really sure how it works (a little secret of mine).

When I get stuck in a rut these are my go-to places for creative ideas. I also will look through magazine racks at the store. If a magazine has some cool ideas, I'll buy it. HGTV magazine is a really good one for crafts and decorative ideas.

3. Have Someone To Keep You Accountable 

I am not afraid to ask for help. There has been more than one occasion where I've gone to other bloggers for help. I also try to engage readers and ask for their opinions on topics, but no one beats the support I get from my significant other. Jeremy is my "partner in crime", if I'm unsure on how to proceed with a project he's right there to put in his two cents. I go to him with all of my crazy ideas, and he's the one who makes them happen. For example; our headboard and the outdoor bar. Most importantly, I share my schedule with him and he's the one who makes sure I stay on track. That's extremely important to me. (Except for laundry, ain't nobody got time for that!)

4. Jot Down Ideas Whenever They Come To You

I can't tell you how many idea notebooks I have. I think at this point I might have three. There are also pieces of paper floating around the house with a bunch of ideas on them (I could really use an office). I also use Notes on my iPhone. It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing, I always try to write down ideas as they come to me. If I don't, I forget them. It's as easy as that, otherwise I'll be sitting on the computer trying to think about the totally awesome idea I had while grocery shopping down the cereal aisle.... That's a complete waste of time. Once I have compiled all my notes into my blog binder, then I schedule them a time to get done. Sometimes, they are just back-up topics in case another post falls through. Either way, it's nice to have a source for future ideas.

5. Take A Break

The moment I walk away from the computer is usually when inspiration strikes. Just getting away for awhile and focusing on something else can be beneficial. Give your mind a break it'll thank you with an extremely awesome, super creative idea.

There you have it. Now tell me, do you have any methods to help you stay productive?

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Rebecca Havener, My Little Devils With Wings

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mini Fruit Tarts

Good morning everyone! If you watched the Royals game last night you may be groggy, pissed, and very irritable. That's okay, remember it was only the first game. 

I'm going to share another recipe with you that we made for our engagement party. It would be a perfect addition to any game party you might be having and a sure way to get that frown turned upside down. 



Mini Fruit Tarts
Ingredients
Tart Crust:
1-1/2 cups of flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 egg
1 teaspoon heavy cream

Cream Filling:
2-3/4 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(You can substitute eggs for just egg yolks, but I'm not that good of a cook so I used the whole egg...don't judge me.)

Instructions 
Crust:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Combine flour, sugar, and salt into mixing bowl or KitchenAid mixer. Mix together. Cut butter into 8 slices and add to flour mixture. Add eggs and cream. Mix well until blended together. If dough is too dry, add more cream. 

3. Spray the outside of a muffin pan. This is what you will be using to make your bowl shape. 


4. Alright, now sprinkle a layer of flour on your work space and roll out your dough. Make sure to flour your rolling pin too, the dough is very sticky (if it's too sticky you can refrigerate it for thirty minutes). 

(source)

This is what we used to cut out our tarts, it's a pastry cutter. You could very easily use a round cookie cutter though. I just used this because it gave me a very pretty tart outline.


5. Now, take a tart and fold it over your muffin tin, push down slightly but be careful not to tear your tart. Continue process until every muffin tin has a tart circle or you run out of dough. 

6. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Ours took a little while longer to cook than 10 minutes, so after the 10 minutes check your dough. If it hasn't browned continue cooking in 2 minute intervals.  

Cream Filling:
1. Add milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt, eggs, butter, and vanilla into a mixing bowl or KitchenAid mixer. Mix well until blended together. 

2. Pour mixture into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Whisk the mixture to get out any lumps, continue microwaving for another 2 minutes. Whisk mixture again and microwave for a final 2 minutes. Mixture should be think, but not lumpy. 

Assembly:
1. Fill each tart crust with cream filling. Then refrigerate for at least thirty minute. Before serving, top with your favorite fruit. Makes 13-14 tarts.


These were delicious and I can't wait to make them again. I hope you enjoy them too. While you are devouring your mini tarts you can play this Royals Bingo Game. My buddy Jimmy, from 8701 Productions (our photographers), came up with this game and let me share it with all of you. Enjoy!



Rebecca Havener, My Little Devils With Wings

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Poofy Ribbon Wreath

It's Tuesday and I have to say that although I know it's Tuesday, it feels like a Monday. So far this morning I have dropped my change at the gas station no less than three times, the coffee I purchased was nothing but water and foam, and I wiped off something I thought was icing from my cheese danish and licked it off my finger...it wasn't icing. If this morning is a precursor to what the rest of the day is going to be like, then I'm going back to bed.

However, I have a feeling that the rest of the day is going to be AWESOME! The Royals play in the World Series tonight. I'm so excited! Being raised near Kansas City means I was a Royals fan before it was cool. Nothing beats sitting in Kauffman Stadium cheering on your team. Although I won't be sitting there tonight, my family and I will be watching from the comforts of our living room. Let's go Royals!


That's not exactly why I started writing this post, but I thought you all would like to hear about my morning and about my hometown team. The reason for this post is...IT'S CRAFT TUESDAY!!! Woohoo! This craft isn't exactly kid friendly, it's more of an adult-grade craft. My soon to be mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, and myself got together on Saturday for a craft day. While the kids played, we got to work making Fall wreaths for our front doors.

To start out you're going to need a wire wreath and pipe cleaners.


Twist tie two pipe cleaners for each section of the wreath. One on the first two rings and one on the bottom two rings.


Continue this process until each section has two pipe cleaners in it. Now you want to take tape and mark off a place on your working table that is 16 inches in length.


Now you need your mesh ribbon. You are going to measure from one end of the table to the other with your ribbon. NO CUTTING! You take one end and twist it onto the pipe cleaner, then do the same with the other end of ribbon tying it onto the other pipe cleaner in that section.


You want it to bunch up and be puffy. Now, continue this process all the way around your wreath. Then cut off the end of your ribbon (I give you permission to use your scissors).



Now is the fun part, decorating your wreath! I used more ribbon, glitter leaves, sunflowers, and a "Harvest Blessing" sign. Your pipe cleaners should still be pointing upward. To add more ribbon and make it extra puffy, just follow the same process as before.



(I also made a bow with two different colored ribbons and hot glued a sunflower in the middle.)


Once you have added all your decorations, turn your wreath over. Now you can either twist the ends of your pipe cleaners onto the wire wreath (this part makes the ribbon bunch up even more, which I liked) or you can just cut off the ends. I kept mine, because I also wanted to be able to add more ribbon someday.



All done! Super fun and easy once you get the hang of it. Our wreath is so puffy that we can't close the storm door all the way. I feel like I've accomplished my bunchy poofy puffy goal.





Rebecca Havener, My Little Devils With Wings

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Three Cheese Balls

For one of our engagement party dishes, we made three different cheese balls. All three were extremely delicious, but everyone seemed to favor the bacon jalapeno one. It was completely devoured at the party. We didn't even get to have leftovers (sigh). Since I'm not a huge spicy food consumer my favorite was the artichoke and spinach one. I even took it to work, so I could munch on it during the week. Pure bliss. The last one we made was a cranberry and chopped nut. It was sweet and a little salty and oh-so-very-tasty!

Now that I've given you my commentary, here are the recipes.


BACON JALAPENO CHEESE BALL
Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 oz)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed, diced
6 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
Salt to taste

Mix together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, parsley, garlic, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, half of the dice jalapeno, and half of the crumbled bacon. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking and add salt.

Mix the rest of the jalapeno and bacon together in a bowl. With your hands roll the cheese ball around in the bacon mixture until it's covered.

Chill covered for at least an hour before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

SPINACH-ARTICHOKE CHEESE BALL
Ingredients
10 oz of chopped spinach
14 oz can of artichoke hearts, packed in water (drained and chopped)
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, mined
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

For coating cheese ball
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Place spinach in a clean dish towel and squeeze out as much water as possible, then chop it up. Drain and chop the artichoke hearts.

In a bowl mix the spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and hot sauce (optional) until fully combined.

Form mixture into a ball, place on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Before serving, coat the cheese ball in the shredded parmesan cheese.

Makes 12 servings.

CRANBERRY, CHOPPED NUTS, AND WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE BALL
Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts
8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz of shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups of dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the chopped nuts in an even layer. Bake for about 5 minutes, then remove from oven.

In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, shredded cheese, nuts, salt, and Worcestershire sauce until well combined.

Form mixture into a ball, place on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove the chilled cheese ball. Coat the ball in cranberries. Make sure to push down the cranberries as you go to secure them in place.

Makes 12 servings

Serve each of these cheese balls with your favorite assortment of crackers and enjoy!

Rebecca Havener, My Little Devils With Wings
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