The best way to reheat leftover mac and cheese

mac-and-cheese-copyToday’s half assed mom tip is How to reheat leftover mac and cheese without ending up with a rubbery lump of crap no kid will eat.

The secret?  Milk.  Pour some milk in the bottom of the pan, warm it up and dump in your congealed lump of leftover mac and cheese.  As the milk warms up the mac and cheese, it will separate and return to it’s original state.  Voila!  Macaroni and Cheese that’s as good as they day you made it.

Don’t half ass this even more and try to do it in the microwave!  Yuck.  Just clean the damn pan.

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First trip to Disney


I have a confession to make.  I have never been to Disney.  Not Disney World, Not Disney Land.  Nothing.  Until now.  I finally made the trip to see what all the hype was about. And to take the girls.  That too.


When I travel I like to be prepared.  Like Boy Scout prepared.  So I read every article I could find, I asked every Disneyphile I know.  Hell, I even asked the cashier at the grocery store for tips.  Nobody said the same thing.  So basically, we had to wing it.  We only did two of the parks on this trip and we had to decide which two, so we went with Disney Land and Epcot.  Mostly because they seemed like the obvious choices for a newbie.





Things I love


  1. They let you bring in a backpack with food and drinks.  I have one with food allergies so bringing our own snacks is incredibly helpful.  I don’t have to worry about cross contamination and her getting sick while shaking MIckey’s hand.  Plus, it saves money.  LOTS of money.  We took snacks that won’t get yucky in the heat or smashed in the bottom of the bag.  I grabbed some of the mickey shaped snack packs with apples and pretzels.  My daughter felt like she was getting Disney snacks and I saved a few bucks.  We brought nuts, pretzels, apple slices, beef sticks, etc.  It’s amazing how many foods you can find with Disney characters on them.  Even the beef jerkey sticks had Elsa and Anna on them.
  2. The park is clean.  Very very clean.  Disney obviously spends a great deal of time on park maintenance.  People mentioned this to me but I didn’t think it would be a big deal until I saw it for myself.  
  3. The Disney characters rock.  Like for real.  They stay in character the whole time.  My youngest went in costume and they treated her like a princess.  Even the non costumed staff called her princess.  It totally made her day. Her week, hell, it made her year.  She still tells everyone she got mistaken for a real princess at Disney.


Things I hate


  1. It’s crowded.  We went on a weekday in April.  How crowded can it really be?  Really.  Really.  It’s not just crowded, it’s packed with strollers and motorized carts.  My toes got run over by some crazy old lady bound and determined to beat us to space mountain.  Too bad we already had it on fast pass, you crazy old bat.  And what the hell is up with all the strollers?  Why can your six year old not walk around the park?  If your kid is old enough to push the stroller, don’t jam up the walkways with your massive double stroller for him and his stuffed animal.  Did I mention it was crowded?
  2. Sucky rides.  I get it.  Disney is for kids.  Even my kids said the rides were lame.  If I had to sit in one more shell and listen to songs while plastic characters popped up from behind rocks I was gonna scream.  Even better, all this excitement was after standing in line for an hour.


Thanks I suggest

  1. Wear comfortable shoes.  I don’t care how cute your new sandals are.  Don’t do it.  Wear shoes with good arch support and that fit well.  You don’t want blisters or achy feet at the end of the day.  
  2. Bring an autograph book.  It has become my daughter’s most cherished possession.  I am going to take pictures of each autograph and send it in with photos we took and turn it into a book for Christmas this year.
  3. Sunscreen.  And advil.  
  4. A light jacket.  Even when it’s hot during the day, it gets cool at night.  We took light weight jackets and rolled them up and put them in the bottom of the back pack.  I was glad we did.  It’s late, getting chilly, your kid is tired and whiny.  You can stuff the jacket in thier mouth.  Kidding.  It’s just one less thing for them to bitch about.
  5. Fast Pass.  We loved getting to fast pass the rides with longer lines.  We also fast passed a couple of character meet and greets.  Those lines are super long and it makes your kid feel special to go to the front of the line.  
  6. Bracelets.  We did not stay at one of the disney parks, so we had to buy them.  My girls still wear them because they picked which ones they wanted.  We didn’t have to worry about pulling out your card every time you got to your fast pass time.  We just waved our wrist over the scanner and in we went.
  7. Disney Ap.  Download it.  Now.  For real, you must have it.  It keeps your schedule, tells you where you are in the park and even how long the lines are.  
  8. Restaurant reservations.  You have to book them in advance.  Some times months in advance.  You can not get into any of the big restaurants without reservations.  Period.
  9. Be flexible.  It’s about the kids.  Keep telling yourself that.  Sometimes, again, and again, and again.  If you spent days planning your schedule and little Johnny decides he doesn’t want to ride the ride you fast passed, skip it.  At the end of the day, he will be exhausted and sleep hard.  You can reward yourself with a glass of wine or four.  




To see more pictures of our trips, follow me on instagram @austinmomof7


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Burlap Dry Erase Board

During my big office shuffle, I also decided to redo my dry erase board.  I had a very pretty brown and cream toile in it, but unless the ink was very black, it didn’t show really well.  And since my seven kids can’t seem to keep their grubby little paws off my stuff, my markers seem to disappear, then reappear almost dried out.  So I took out my scrap of burlap I had left over from a project and it was the exact size I needed.  I love it when stuff works out like that!  I didn’t even bother taking out the old material, I just recovered it with the burlap.  And now, I can see what I write.  The glass in this big picture frame is the perfect dry erase material.  It doesn’t ghost like traditional dry erase stuff and it can be customized to your decor.

Here area  few more that I loved.  These are a little more customized than mine, but for where this one is,  I just needed a big writing surface for all these brilliant blogging ideas I come up with.  Yes, this is why it’s almost blank.

Menu Board

I have a menu board very similar to this one.  I love it and use it every week.  My kids have this weird habit of asking what’s for dinner four times a day.  Seven kids times four times equals a big headache from the math.  My menu board has eliminated this little problem.  The asking.  Not the headaches from math.


This one, I’m seriously in love with.  I have a big calendar broken down my hours and it is the brain our our family.  I can’t function without a calendar.  I might try to find a second frame to match mine and try to copy this one for my office.  I’m in organizational OCD love with this baby.

This one was super cute and allows you to separate the days.  I would love something like this in our girls’ bedroom.  I think it would be helpful for them to organize their week in a very visible way.

Why have one of those count down things for just christmas?  For my preschooler, I make paper chains and let her tear off a ring every morning.  It’s a very visible way to see how close we are getting to a vacation or birthday.  This would be better for my older kids who want to keep track, but are a little too old for our paper chain.

This was a cute calendar using paint chips you find at the hardware store.  Very easy to customize to your colors.

I love, love, love this one.  I always have these grand plans for summer, but we never seem to have any ideas when the day comes.  I think this would be terrific to make with the girls.

The moral of this story?  NEVER EVER throw away an old picture frame!  You can make a quick dry erase board for any spot in your house.

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Peppermint Popcorn


I’m going to post a month of homemade Christmas ideas, so I’m getting an early start.  I’m not sure I can do 31 posts in 31 days, so I’m cutting myself a little slack.  I plan to post gift ideas, decorating ideas and my favorite holiday recipes.

This idea is so yummy.  My kids have eaten almost half of it already and it made a really gigantic batch.  Even for my oversized family.

 I started by popping about 20 cups of popcorn.  I made it on the stove top because I didn’t want to use those microwave bags.  They are really buttery tasting and I didn’t really want that mingling with my peppermint.  I might splurge and get myself one of those air poppers so the kids can make it themselves without all the oil and preservatives.  Plus it’s cheaper this way.  I used half a bag that cost me 80 cents.

 I took half a box of peppermint candy canes and unwrapped them and put them in my mini chopper.

 Beware.  It’s really loud and sounds like glass breaking.  I wanted it fairly small, but if you want your peppermint a little chunky, then go for it.

 I melted a few squares of white chocolate bark in my microwave and mixed in the crushed peppermint.  DO NOT put the crushed peppermint in the bowl when you microwave the chocolate.  You will get a giant glob of peppermint that takes a day to soak out of your glass bowl.

No, I wouldn’t do anything that stupid.  Why do you ask?

 I poured the popcorn out onto two big sheet pans lined with parchment to make clean up easier.  I used a spoon and just drizzled the chocolate peppermint all over it.

 Yummy!  But to me, it just looked a little bland.  It tasted heavenly, but you couldn’t really see it because the white on white just blended in.


 I decided to grab two blocks of chocolate bark and melt that also.  Then I drizzled it over the top.

Now that is gorgeous.  And more chocolate just makes everything better.  While the chocolate is still melted, you can add more peppermint.  Wait for it to dry, then break it apart.  It will keep for a couple of days in a well sealed container.  Or two days because your heathens eat it all.

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Mildred and Dumplings

I got tired of not being able to go into my chicken yard without a weapon.

Plus, we got some new girls.  To replace the ones the coons got.  And they are pullets, still five weeks from laying.  Big ole Mildred would have killed them for invading her space.  So Mildred had to go.

Mildred and Dumplings was delicious.

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Mason Jar Pendant

I have a new drop down pendant light over my kitchen sink.

And it was love at first sight.

This is what it used to look like.  Just a plain can light in the ceiling.

The best part was, there was no rewiring involved.  I put this up in about five minutes.  You unscrew the lightbulb and an adaptor screws right in and voila, instant hanging light.  They had several light shades to choose from, but I wanted to use my antique blue ball jar.  I didn’t want to drill a hole through the zinc lid, so I used a regular lid.  I drilled a hole right through the top and screwed the bulb and adaptor on.  Now when I need to change the lightbulb, all I have to do is unscrew the jar from the lid.

I’m in lighting love!

I need to scrub out the jar again.  Do you know how hard it is to get 80 year old grime out of a jar?  I don’t even want to know what it is either.

Here were a few more I found that I loved, but some of these require electrical skills I don’t currently possess, so I’ll just go with the $20 light kit from Lowes.

This would be super cute in a rustic bathroom.

This would be really cute on my new patio!

Not sure the husband would love this one, but I sure do.

And I saved the best for last. I will be doing this immediately!

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Mason Jar Solar Lights

After seeing that photo of the mason jar solar lights, I knew I really wanted to try it.  And two days ago, I go into our local dollar store than they have solar yard lights for only $1 each.  I knew it was meant to be.  I bought four to try.  I probably should have only bought one to try, but I was a little overzealous.

The results?

It was meant to be.  Like Peanut Butter and Jelly.

I took off the plastic stake that the solar light was on.  At first, I just tried to put the solar light into the jar, but the jar wasn’t wide enough.  So I grabbed a ring and then it fit perfectly.

This way, I can glue the solar light to the ring and not the jar.  If for some reason I ever want to use the jars again, I can.  I’ve only lost the ring, which can be unscrewed.

Time to head back to the dollar store for a dozen more.

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Food and Wine. And wine. And wine.

A few weeks ago, some friends and I went to the Austin Food and Wine Festival.  Because we are very important people.  Or, we know some very important people.  Whatever you choose to believe.

We started out our day with a very informative tequila class.  They discussed the merits of different tequilas and the many different salts that can accompany them.  And yes, there were samples.

Maybe we should have eaten first…….

There were lots of famous tv chefs to meet and mingle with.  And let sign your boobs.

 Andrew Zimmern of Bizzare Foods was more than happy to oblige.

I’m not sure who was happier about the boob signing, me or Andrew.  Because we are on a first name basis now.

This dude was pretty bummed he couldn’t sign my boobs.  I didn’t have the marker anymore, or I would have let him.  Maybe then I would remember his name.  Sorry Mr. TV chef.

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Custom Chalk Board Paint


I need a space to jot down groceries that we need.  A large space.

a very large space.

So I painted one whole wall of my pantry.

First I lined my paint tray with foil so it would be super easy to clean up.  This way I don’t have to buy disposable trays, I just line them and toss the used foil.

I bought some cheap paint that someone returned to the store.  It was the perfect shade for my project.  You can also custom mix the paint.  If you do this, make it a tad darker than you think because when you mix the non-sanded grout in, it lightens it just a little bit.  For every cup of paint you use, add two tablespoons of non-sanded grout and stir well.

Then stir some more.  No way did you stir it well enough already.

Then just roll it on like normal paint.  I taped off the outer lines and it didn’t bleed to terribly bad.  I should have burnished it more, but since it’s a pantry, I wasn’t going all OCD on it.

I put my leftover paint into a clean used spice container.  This way, when (not if!) I need to touch up, it’s quick and easy.  Before you write on it, let it dry for 24-48 hours, then rub chalk over the entire surface.  It preps the surface so you don’t have ghosting that is really hard to remove.

And voila!  A very large chalkboard for my very large family.

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