Creative Ways Link Party #4 and Features

It must be Wednesday! It's time for Creative Ways Link Party #4! I'm so happy to see your smiling faces here today! Have you had a good week? We've been gearing up for a special visitor who arrived today. My bestie from AZ is here for a nice long visit. We need to work out a plan for all the things we'll be doing, but I know that several baseball games are in our future, as my son has at least 2 tournaments scheduled while she is here. She has also requested that we girls (she, my daughter, and I) go out for pedicures. Beyond that, the sky's the limit. I'm sure I'll be posting a lot to Instagram, so if you don't see me around here for a while, check in there for updates.

Also, I've gotten a few messages that you aren't getting notifications of my new posts. I think it's been pretty well established that we are all having some Feedburner issues. To get around that, I would love for you to start following me on BlogLovin'. You'll get an email everyday with updates from all the blogs you follow on BlogLovin'. I would hate for you to be missing out on fun new content all because of technology issues.
I really enjoyed visiting the posts from last week. So many talented bloggers out there! I'm so tickled that you stop by here each week to share with us. I do hope you are all getting around to see some of these amazing bloggers. Make sure to visit at least the two link ups ahead of yours. Who knows, you may find a new friend to follow! Here are some of the links that made my heart go pitter patter...
Creative Ways Link Party Features #3
Clockwise from top left
Southwest Cheeseburger by Love Bakes Good Cakes
(This burger could be in my dinner plan this week!)
Five Tips for Beautiful Peonies by A Merry Mom
(I've never grown them, but I am captivated by peonies.)
Make your Own Fresh Herb Butter by To Work With My Hands
(I need to put this on my bread right now!)
Bold Aqua Chair by D.D.'s Cottage
(This chair makes me smile...amazing transformation!)
White Chocolate Cheesecake Fruit Dip by Five Heart Home
(I seriously think angels whipped this up.)
DIY String Art by Kent Heartstrings
(Such a neat way to create some awesome art pieces!)

From kitchen creations and gardening to up-cycling and decorating...I love how you showed off your creative ways! 

Link Party Guidelines
  • Please link up to 3 of your family-friendly DIY Projects, Crafts or Recipes...your Creative Ways
  • Please link to a specific post on your blog, not just your home page.
  • Please do not link up Etsy shops or giveaways
  • Please follow Posed Perfection by clicking on one of my pretty, colorful buttons on the sidebar, and let me know so I can follow you back.
  • I'd love for you to add the party button to your post, a visible link back on your post, or a link on a party page. We want your creative friends to join us too!
  • Be sure to visit at least 2 links and leave some comment love. 
  • By linking up to this party, your are giving authorization for your projects/recipes to be featured with a photo and a link back to your blog.
Posed Perfection
<a href="www.posedperfection.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1212.photobucket.com/albums/cc454/pianoprincessdesigns/creativewaysbutton_zps0fd67676.png~original" alt="Posed Perfection" width="250" height="177" /></a>

I have a little request...since the new blog design came out, I now have the Google Friends Connect widget on the sidebar (it wasn't there before). It would make my day if you added your pretty pictures to that by following me through GFC. I can't wait to see all your Creative Ways!
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Nutty Chocolate Date Bars

Happy Tuesday! Did you have a good Memorial Day Weekend? Besides a fun dinner with friends on Sunday night, I spent a good chunk of the time getting my house ready for a special visitor this week. My BFF from Arizona is coming to spend 10 days with us. She'll be arriving on Wednesday, and we've had a lot of decluttering to do.  It seems like things have just kept piling up around here, especially during the spring. That's when we are busiest with school, soccer and baseball.
Nutty Chocolate Date Bars
Anyway, I needed some serious energy to keep me going through the piles. (It's not pretty, people.) These Nutty Chocolate Date Bars kept me from snacking on things that would just make me sluggish.

I had seen these bars a few weeks back (a great basic recipe, by the way) and knew I could tweak them to add a little more crunch and chocolate...anything to make them more junk food family friendly. My family has a phobia about dates and I really wanted them to like this much healthier version of a candy bar.

Here's what you need: Medjool dates, almonds, mini chocolate chips, crispy rice cereal, cocoa and almond butter.

Nutty Chocolate Date Bars

18 pitted Medjool dates, chopped
1 cup almonds, chopped fine in food processor
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
1 Tbsp. cocoa
2-3 Tbsp. almond butter

Process all ingredients in food processor or high-powered blender to desired consistency.  Pat into a 13x9 inch pan lined with parchment paper and cut into bars, or roll into 1 inch balls. Store in air tight container in refrigerator. These will keep for at least one week. (I even ate mine at the 2 week mark and they were fine.)
Nutty Chocolate Date Bars
These bars have the perfect amount of sweetness and crunch to them. Ideally, I would have liked to have the texture be a little smoother for these bars, but I kind of bogged down my Vitamix when I was processing the mixture. I thought I had completely killed it. I was grateful it came back to life after letting the motor cool off a bit. I think it's just getting old and tired, a bit like me ;-). In the end, the dates and almond butter held all the ingredients together and I thoroughly enjoyed every last bar in the batch. While I may not have convinced the men in my family to like these (or even try them), we girls were all over them. Even my mom was able to enjoy a few of them while she was visiting. I hope you like them too. What's your favorite energy bar flavor?
Here are more "Energy" Snack Recipes
Pantry Power Granola Bars
No Bake Granola Bites
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I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Food for the Soul ~ I Corinthians 16:13 ~ Memorial Day Weekend

Remembering all the brave men and women who have faithfully and sacrificially given their lives to protect the freedoms of our great country. We honor them this weekend for their service to their fellow man, and we thank their families who have also sacrificed much on our behalf. This verse exemplifies their very lives...strength, courage, on guard.
For those left behind, this verse from I Corinthians 16:13 is a charge for us. We should ever "be on guard" against evil; we should always "stand firm" in our faith. We should all have courage, for we serve the King of Kings.  Finally, we should find strength in our weakness, for when we are weak, He is strong. His Word says in Isaiah 41:10

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

What a mighty God we serve!

May your hearts be full of sweet memories of those who have gone before us. Wishing you all a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!
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DIY Initial Monogram Tote Bag

Have you been racking your brain trying to come up with a fun personalized gift for someone special in your life? Maybe it's your child's teacher, or a soon-to-be graduate, or perhaps you need a fun bridesmaid gift?
DIY Initial Monogram Tote Bag
These DIY Initial Monogram Bags are sure to be a big hit. Not only is it a terribly practical gift, but it's cute too! I have gotten some great compliments when I've brought it out to the baseball fields. You may recall that it is my Sports Mom's Survival Bag, filled with everything I need while spending the day at the baseball complex.
DIY Initial Monogram Tote Bag
Here's what I used...large natural and black canvas zippered tote bag (I used my Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon), black iron-on transfer by Cricut, and my friend's Cricut Expression 2
DIY Initial Monogram Tote Bag
First, I measured the pocket area to see how large I wanted my initial to be...I also experimented with upper case and lower case letters... I actually cut the templates out of black paper first, so I could get the design exactly the size I wanted before cutting into the expensive iron-on transfer.

Once I knew the size and style, I set the Cricut to do the cutting. I just used the Cricut Alphabet that comes standard with the unit, set to 5 inches. I was so excited that my friend, Nicole, let me borrow this amazing machine. It's definitely on my wish list. I love that you don't have to plug it into a computer to cut many wonderful designs. It's definitely a powerhouse in the craft room! I loved how easy it was to use too!

The next step was ironing on the initial. I just followed the directions on the packaging of the iron-on transfer. Really easy!
DIY Initial Monogram Tote Bag
So, you've made the cute bag to give to your sweet teacher, graduate or bridesmaids. What on earth could you fill it with? Here are a few ideas...Starbucks Gift Card, Frozen Yogurt Gift Card, misting water bottle, beach towel, magazines, sunscreen, pretty journals, flip flops, craft supplies...the sky's the limit!

I need to make up a couple more of these bags for gifts while I still have the Cricut at my disposal...What's your favorite thing to make with your cutting machine? I hope you have a fabulous Memorial Day Weekend!
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I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Creative Ways Link Party #3

It's time for a party! Thanks so much for stopping by to share with us here at the third Creative Ways Link Party. Wow! Did last week ever fly by! Our days were chock-full of activity. From musicals to recitals, r/c plane flying to rearranging furniture, we were busy little campers around here. I didn't have much time for anything else, but I'm excited to see all that you've been doing. Are you ready to be inspired?
Although I was up to my ears in projects and celebrations, I was able to peruse the linkups from last week. You all amaze me with your talents! Here are some of the links that caught my eye:
clockwise from top left
Daisies and Dots Wreath by Zu Haus at Home
Up-Cycled Toms Shoes by Lavender's Blue
20 Minute Lavash Crackers by With a Blast
Chalk Paint Night Stand by Ms. Moozy's Open House
Le Fraisier by Say It With Cake

Great job, ladies! From kitchen creations to up-cycling and decorating...I love how you showed off your creative ways! 

Link Party Guidelines
  • Please link up to 3 of your family-friendly DIY Projects, Crafts or Recipes...your Creative Ways
  • Please link to a specific post on your blog, not just your home page.
  • Please do not link up Etsy shops or giveaways
  • Please follow Posed Perfection by clicking on one of my pretty, colorful buttons on the sidebar, and let me know so I can follow you back.
  • I'd love for you to add the party button to your post, a visible link back on your post, or a link on a party page. We want your creative friends to join us too!
  • Be sure to visit at least 2 links and leave some comment love. 
  • By linking up to this party, your are giving authorization for your projects/recipes to be featured with a photo and a link back to your blog.
Posed Perfection
<a href="www.posedperfection.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1212.photobucket.com/albums/cc454/pianoprincessdesigns/creativewaysbutton_zps0fd67676.png~original" alt="Posed Perfection" width="250" height="177" /></a>

I have a little request...since the new blog design came out, I now have the Google Friends Connect widget on the sidebar (it wasn't there before). It would make my day if you added your pretty pictures to that by following me through GFC. I can't wait to see all your Creative Ways!

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Marinated Flank Steak ~ A Family Favorite

School is winding down for most folks in the country and the signal for summertime celebrations is coming up soon! That's right, Memorial Day is just around the corner. Have you planned out your menu yet? I thought I'd share one of our absolute favorite grilled meat recipes with you today...Marinated Flank Steak...just in case you wanted to go get your best cuts of meat before the crowd gets them first ;-)
Marinated Flank Steak
Here's what you need: flank steaks, soy sauce, honey, white vinegar, green onions, garlic powder, ginger and vegetable oil.
Marinated Flank Steak on the Grill
Start by trimming your flank steaks of any visible grizzle or fat, then poke several times with a fork.  In a sealable container, combine all the ingredients except the flank steak. Add in the steak and turn it over in the marinade until it is all covered. Place lid on container and refrigerate for 4-5 hours, poking steaks and flipping periodically. After it has marinated for several hours, place the steaks on a preheated grill. (High heat for first couple of minutes to sear the meat...then reduce heat to medium.)
Marinated Flank Steak on the Grill
Depending on how you like your meat cooked, continue grilling for 10-15 minutes for rare (125 degrees), 15-19 minutes for medium (140 degrees), flipping once during the grill time. Cooking times include searing time. Use your meat thermometer for best results.
Marinated Flank Steak resting
Remove meat from heat and allow to "rest" for a couple of minutes. Move steak to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, or even an electric knife, thinly slice the flank steak against the grain.
Marinated Flank Steak Sliced Thin
Marinated Flank Steak

1-2 flank steaks
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 chopped green onion
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Marinate flank steaks for 4 to 5 hours ahead. Poke steaks with fork and flip periodically. Place steaks on a preheated grill at high temperature and sear for a couple of minutes per side. Grill steaks for 10 to 20 minutes, flipping once.  (Rare 10-15 minutes; Medium 15-19 minutes). Remove from heat, allow to rest for a few minutes. Thinly slice against the grain.
Marinated Flank Steak with Potatoes, Corn and Green Beans
This Marinated Flank Steak is one of the most requested meals from my family, but I like to reserve it for somewhat special occasions. We had it for Easter this year, along with Pan Fried Green Beans, Sweet Corn and Make Ahead Cheesy Mashed Potatoes. This Marinated Flank Steak is another one of the great recipes given to me by my SIL. She's a keeper!

So, what's on your Memorial Day Menu? Are you hosting a big shin-dig or going over to spend the day with family and friends?
Need more Memorial Day Menu ideas?
Copy Cat KFC Cole Slaw
Tangy Spinach Salad
Berry Sweet Fruit Skewers
Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

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I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Peach Cobbler Smoothie

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Nestle, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia  #BreakfastEssentials http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

There is something about summertime and cobblers that makes my tastebuds sing. I'm not sure if it's the fruity goodness of the baked cobbler or the vanilla ice cream that I top it with that I like better. Most likely, it's the combination of the two. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try to convince myself, I just can't justify having a cobbler dessert for breakfast...very often ;-)
Peach Cobbler Smoothie
After doing a little bit of culinary experimenting, I can now get my cobbler fix by starting my day with a delicious Peach Cobbler Smoothie!
Peach Cobbler Smoothie Ingredients
Here's what I used to make it: French Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials, frozen peaches, vanilla flavored almond milk, apple juice and graham crackers. (a pinch of cinnamon would be divine too)
Peach Cobbler Smoothie
Using the Carnation Breakfast Essential packets I picked up at Safeway this week, I can create all kinds of different smoothie flavors by adding our favorite fruits to the mix. I can picture a blackberry cobbler smoothie or blueberry cobbler smoothie just by changing up the fruits. We love getting the variety pack so we can experiment with flavor combinations.
Peach Cobbler Smoothie
Peach Cobbler Smoothie
1 packet French Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials
1 cup frozen peaches
1 cup vanilla flavored almond milk
1/4 cup apple juice
1 graham cracker rectangle (or two squares)

Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.
Peach Cobbler Smoothie
While I love the idea of blending up different fruits into the Breakfast Essentials mix, you can just as easily mix it into a glass of milk for a quick, protein and calcium-filled breakfast that even the kids can make. Want more great smoothie recipes? Try going to Carnation Breakfast Essential's website or even their Facebook page.
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I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Food for the Soul ~ Colossians 3:17

Happy Sunday, Friends! I don't know about you, but we had quite the busy week around here! As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we had both a musical and piano recital this week. We also watched my son receive a beautiful R/C airplane as a gift from a "retiring r/c pilot" who was impressed with his flying skills during a recent competition. Each of these "events" in the lives of our children were preceded by butterflies in the stomach, a little bit of stage fright and fear of failure.
As parents, it's a delicate balance we face when we encourage our kids to step outside of their comfort zones. On the one hand, we don't want to totally dismiss their anxiety, but on the other hand, we want to empower them to challenge themselves. I walk this line frequently with my two kiddos, but never so much as just before big performances or competitions. 

We talk through the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and we pray. I reassure them that the only audience member who really matters is Jesus, everyone else is just along for the ride. Colossians 3:17 is the next step in trusting God to strengthen us... doing all things in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to the Father.

How much more confident would we all be if we thanked God the Father through Jesus BEFORE we stepped on the stage of life! What if everything we did, we did in the name of the Lord Jesus...acknowledging and confirming His power, glorifying his name?!? Too often we rely on our own strength and skill sets without giving a second thought to the one who created us. It's only when we get to the end of ourselves that we realize Who is really running the show. My biggest challenge is in the daily tasks...I try to do it all in my strength without giving thanks and without doing it to the glory of Jesus. How much more effective I would be if I put Him first in EVERYTHING! 

I pray you have a wonderful week, dear friends! 
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What's Been Going On This Week

Hi Friends! It seems like it's been so long since I've shared anything with you. Things have been a bit busier than usual around here. I just thought I'd do a quick post to let you know what's been going on this week.
mom and K at Donkey Tales
Well, my mom came into town for a visit and to catch some recitals and performances. What a blessing it's been! My parents normally come out here for a maximum of 2 days, and that time is usually split between my household and my brother's. This week, she came out on Tuesday afternoon and has stayed at my house until today. We have so enjoyed having her here.
Purging the closet
Here's what we've been up to...First things first, she helped me purge my closet of 4 garbage bags full of clothes and shoes...all the garments with holes, stains, the "future-fitters"(you know what those are, right?), and the stuff that just shouldn't even be in there anymore. My closet is pretty bare, I must say. I'm thinking a little bit of summer wardrobe shopping might be in order. ;-)
A Trip to Omaha's
After we did some school on Wednesday, we went to one of my son's favorite stores, Omaha Surplus. It's like a museum and antique store rolled into one! We followed that store with Target and then some lunch at In and Out Burger. Everyone was happy.
Donkey Tales Performance
That evening, my daughter performed with our church's Music Praise group in a musical called Donkey Tales. She has been working on her parts for several months and did a great job with the drama and solo. It was so fun watching her in her element, and the musical was just adorable. All the kids did really, really well. We celebrated with a trip to TCBY for some yummy frozen yogurt treats.

Thursday was pretty low key during the day, but the evening brought a little bit of excitement. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me post about my son and husband being a part of an R/C Airplane club. Well, my boy has really excelled in his skills of flying and has a wonderful rapport with all the older men in the club. After performing well in the last competition that was held, one of the gentlemen took notice of his blossoming skills. Due to family obligations this man is selling off all of his R/C equipment.
A New Airplane from an Old Pro
About a week ago, he called my husband to tell him that he wanted to give our son one of his airplanes and all the equipment that goes with it. Dumbfounded, my hubby asked him if he was sure. He said he was positive that he wanted to pass on this airplane to someone who could fly it well and who would keep the hobby going. So, when we went out to the airfield that evening, all the members of the club circled around my son and they presented him with the airplane, radios, fuel, and other airplane necessities...kind of a passing on of the torch, if you will. So many of the club members are well into their retirement years and there aren't just a whole lot of young whippersnappers who are taking their place. It has been really neat to see these men take my son under their wings and welcome he and my hubby into their brotherhood. I'm so glad Mom was here to see him be recognized for his skills and attitude, and she got to see him fly his new plane.
Rearranging the daughter's room
Yesterday, we spent the better part of the day working in my daughter's room...purging, cleaning, rearranging and decorating...truly a labor of love. I'll have some kind of a reveal on that soon.
Kit Kat Piano Cake
Today, we are checking out some local garage sales and I'm putting the finishing touches on a Kit Kat Piano Cake for the kids' end-of-the-year piano recital that's happening today also. So, that's what's been going on here...what are you up to this weekend?

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I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Creative Ways Link Party #2

Wow! What a great kick-off we had to this new Creative Ways Link Party! I was completely blown away by your support and the awesome posts you linked up. I am truly grateful that you chose to spend part of your week here with us. Well, it's time for another party... are you ready?
This party is a celebration of all your Creative Ways, and a perfect excuse for sharing them with others to inspire and be inspired. Here are the creative ways that caught my eye this week:
clockwise from top left
My Dream Craft Corner Reveal by Tryin to Make a Home
Pimento Cheese Puffs by Lamberts Lately
DIY Leather Handle Box by Learning, Creating, Living
Thanks so much for sharing these awesome posts with us! If you were featured, I'd love for you to grab the Creative Ways button below.

Link Party Guidelines
  • Please link up to 3 of your family-friendly DIY Projects, Crafts or Recipes...your Creative Ways
  • Please link to a specific post on your blog, not just your home page.
  • Please do not link up Etsy shops or giveaways
  • Please follow Posed Perfection by clicking on one of my pretty, colorful buttons on the sidebar, and let me know so I can follow you back.
  • I'd love for you to add the party button to your post, a visible link back on your post, or a link on a party page. We want your creative friends to join us too!
  • Be sure to visit at least 2 links and leave some comment love. 
  • By linking up to this party, your are giving authorization for your projects/recipes to be featured with a photo and a link back to your blog.
Posed Perfection
<a href="www.posedperfection.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1212.photobucket.com/albums/cc454/pianoprincessdesigns/creativewaysbutton_zps0fd67676.png~original" alt="Posed Perfection" width="250" height="177" /></a>

I have a little request...since the new blog design came out, I now have the Google Friends Connect widget on the sidebar (it wasn't there before). It would make my day if you added your pretty pictures to that by following me through GFC. I can't wait to see all your Creative Ways!
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