Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Get Ready for Back to School!

Three Easy Ways to
Get Ready for Back 2 School

I don't know about you, but this time of summer makes me sweat. Not only the fact that it's 100 degrees with 45% humidity, but the thought of getting my girls and myself ready for back to school, really makes me sweat! If you're with me, give me a holla! Well, I've figured out three quick, fun, easy ways to at least get organized, if not mentally prepared.

"Polyvore" it Up!
My girls have more clothes than they know what to do with. Really. From Gramma's shopping sprees to hand-me-downs from cousins, to the "OH! I have to have that!" moments, they have so many pieces, but don't always know what goes together. Until I thought of this, they inevitably wore the same outfits over and over again and ended up looking like they had about 4 shirts, 1 pair of jeans, and a skirt or two. Now, they mix it up, match it up, and all the clothes get seen every once in a while. Here's how to make it fun and get them involved:
   First, clean out the dressers and closets. Yes, even that "dresser" under the bed! Okay, well, first, you might want to let your kiddos know the whole plan, or you'll never get this part done. While everything is out, get rid of the things they don't like or those that don't fit.
   Now, take photos of every top, bottom, accessory, and pair of shoes.
   This is where the fun begins. You can do this in PowerPoint, Publisher, or even Word. Choose one picture of a "bottom" and then go through all the "tops" to make outfit pictures. Add shoes, scarves, and other accessories, even jewelry. I usually do a warm weather and cool weather version with the same initial "bottom". Here's one:
The black and white striped skirt was where we started. Then we chose five summer tops, six winter tops, leggings (for winter under the skirt) and shoes. My girls love doing this!
   Last step is to print out the "Polyvore" pages you've made, and tape them to the inside of the closet door, back closet wall, or wherever you have room. There's no more, "I can't find anything to wear," or, "Honey, Mommy's really tired of that outfit...can't you find something else?"! Bonus: You can go ahead and pick out the perfect first day back outfit!

Personalize It!
     I know, it's not safe to have your kids' names all over their backpacks, lunchboxes, and clothes, but every mom and every teacher knows that every kid needs his name on every single thing. Here's my solution:  add a luggage tag to backpacks. You can find the cute single initial monogram ones just about anywhere, but, in case you're having trouble, click here. Now, you could just turn that little paper with room for address, etc. on it over and write on the back, or you can use these free editable labels. I'd go for easy, myself, and print out a bunch of labels at once! I've even used them on individual glue sticks, markers, and crayons!

     For everything else, as long as it goes inside the backpack, I think you're safe putting your kiddos' names on the item in large enough print to be easily recognized, and super cute! Grab some paint pens and Sharpies and label everything with your kids' names. Get creative, add some flowers, sports logos, or whatever your kids are into! Don't have beautiful handwriting? Cheat! That's right, cheat! Find a font you really like, type your child's name, size appropriate for the item you're personalizing, print it out, and either practice copying the name on scrap paper, or use Sharpie to trace the printed out name onto the item you're personalizing, then go over the Sharpie with paint pen. Trust me on this one...I used to work at a store where all we did was paint names on things! Bonus: Everything is labeled at once, and it all looks so cute!!!

Cook It Up!
     Have dinner ready for the first night you've gone back to school. Whaaa? Here's my favorite easy peasy recipe for chicken, rice, and broccoli casserole. Best part? You can prepare it in one pot and mix and bake it in one dish. Then just freeze it until your first day back.

Chicken, Rice & Broccoli Bake

1 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded, or 1 pkg. fresh chicken tenderloins, boiled until done and then    shredded
1 cup white or brown rice, cooked to equal 2 cups, as prepared
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets, or 1 12 oz. bag frozen broccoli florets
1 can cream of broccoli soup
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3 oz. cheese crackers
2 T butter, melted

So, a little prep work...either buy your chicken pre-cooked, as in a rotisserie chicken, or simply boil fresh tenderloins for about 10 minutes, or until 165 degrees. Either way, shred the chicken with two forks. Cook your rice, according to package instructions. I use 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water, bring it to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, adding a lid, and cook for 20 minutes. It comes out perfectly every time! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once you have your chicken and rice ready, the rest is a breeze! Put everything, except the crackers and butter, right into a 9 x 13" baking dish. Mix all together. Crush cheese crackers - the kids can help with this part! If you're using these individual bags of crackers, like I do, snip a tiny edge at the top of the bag to let out the air. 

You won't spill any, and the crushing is much easier. Use a spoon to break up any large chunks.
Pour the cracker crumbs over the mixture in your dish, and drizzle the melted butter over the crackers. At this point, you can use freezer wrap to cover your dish for later, or pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. Everybody's happy with this one at my house!

Hope these tips make your back to school easier than ever.



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