The Best Meatloaf You Will Ever Taste…Guaranteed!

At long loaf..I mean last, here is my meatloaf recipe!  Some of you have been asking for this for years and I keep saying yep yep, I’ll give it to you, and then I forget.  I think subconsciously I am keeping it all to myself!  But, now that my 1.5 yr old loves it, I feel it’s my duty to share with mommies and daddies of the world.

This recipe was my grandmother’s (Dad’s mom) and my mom passed it on down to me.  She thinks that it originated on the back of can somewhere, but I prefer the idea that it’s a top secret family recipe that I’m about to share with you.  Be sure to follow the directions carefully lest you end up making it like my dad.  He followed it “to the T” for the meat loaf part, but the sauce, oh the sauce.  I looked into the oven while he was baking it and saw three dollops of ketchup sitting on top of it.  I say, “Dad, what in the world is on the meatloaf?” He matter of factly states, The Ketchup, it will melt over the top.  Uhh….seriously Dad?!  Ketchup doesn’t melt over it!  You have to make the sauce.  Epic fail on the dinner front that night!

I usually make this with ground turkey or ground turkey breast, but I’ve made it with regular ground beef for years.  Any way you make it, I promise this is the best recipe you will ever ever taste.  I make some healthy swaps to make it a bit better for you, but feel free to make it with ingredients you typically have in your home.  So, here you go!  Let me know what you think after you make it!

  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (I use Progresso Italian Seasoned, but if you are gluten free, you can try one of those varieties)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use skim)
  • 1.5 lbs ground meet of choice (turkey, turkey breast, ground beef, or even chicken)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Durkee Instant Minced Onion (or any other brand, I have been using the dried ones from the spice aisle lately)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp prepared mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional, I don’t use this)
  • 1/2 cup water

Add milk to bread crumbs and let stand a few minutes.  Mix with ground beef, egg, pepper, Worcestershire and onion.

Shape into loaf and put in baking dish or pan.

Combine ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, salt, and water and pour over meat loaf.

Bake at 350 for 1 hr and 15 mins.  Baste occasionally.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

My favorite sides are mashed potatoes and corn for this meal, but swap that out with some salad or steamed kale for a healthier option!

The Best Baby Shower Planning Ideas Part 2: Best Places Theme

If there is one thing I have a ton of experience in, it is planning showers, baby showers, bridal showers, you name it, I’ve planned it.   There are is a basic checklist of 6 things you need for planning a stellar baby shower:

  1. A theme or a color scheme
  2. Food
  3. Activities
  4. Dessert
  5. Presents
  6. Pictures

In part 1, I gave you some great resources for planning and selecting the best ideas for the 6 items on the checklist.  Today, I’m going to plan The Best Place For Me baby shower!  You can do this when any of your favorite books or something that is special to your mommy to be.

Inspiration!

Inspiration!

Ok Step 1:  Theme / Color Scheme.  I used the book and the cover as my inspiration for colors and decorations.  The focus is the hot air balloon on the front cover and the combination of blues, pinks, and greens.  I really like vintage so I think softening things up a bit with a few pops of color would be ideal for this themed baby shower.  If you have tables set up for the event, each table can have a hot air balloon that “lands” at a different location from the book.  Michaels craft store has some pre-made Martha Stewart (still affordable) decorations that go fantastically with this theme.  You can see images below of easy to assemble pin wheels and banners.  If you have the time, you can easily make these yourself using scrapbook paper.  I think the pinwheels add a great touch of whimsy to the theme, and who doesn’t love a pinwheel!

The details really come through when you’re planning a shower.  Another fun little decoration you can do is hang bookmarks with images from the book from trees or from fixtures in the location.  They will look like little ornaments and if you add some twinkle lights you will be all set!

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Step 2:  Food.  This step is all based on personal preferences and budget.  There is no secret here.  You can use a wide variety of options here from picking a favorite restaurant, to catering, pot luck, or making a nice spread of your own.  I like to have a little variety so that guests can pick and choose.  Brunch is always one of my favorite meals and you can have both breakfast and lunch options for your guests.  My favorite list of foods for a brunch shower are:

  • French Toast casserole
  • Egg casserole
  • A salad
  • A selection of lunch meat and rolls with tomatoes, cheese, or whatever fixins are your favorite.

I sometimes tend to buy WAY too much because I’m always afraid of never having enough.  So try to gauge how many guests you will have and plan accordingly.  Too little is bad, if you have too much at least you can have leftovers of your favorite meals!

Step 3:  Activities.  In Part 1 of this post, I shared a list of my favorite activities and how to go about making making them fun and new from the standard baby shower activities that you are used to.  For this shower, I would most definitely do the onesie decorating bar, but I would set up a selection of iron ons and templates for all the places in the book:

  • Paris:  Eiffel Towers, cute little love birds with berets, mustaches if you know mommy is having a boy, anything that comes to mind when you think of Paris or France.
  • California, Hawaii, Bora Bora:  Smiling sunshine, surfboards, waves, flip flops, dolphins, turtles, whales, sharks, fish
  • Ireland:  rainbows, four leaf clover, leprechaun, pot of gold on the baby’s bum….
  • Outer Space:  Stars, moons, planets, rocketships, astronauts
  • Africa, China, Australia:  Lions, giraffes, hippos, elephants, panda bears, kangaroos

You can add any places that are important to mommy and some fun and cute iron ons to match!  This is the website I used to learn how to execute this activity without it being cheeseball:  DIY Onesie Party .  I made my own kit to include the following:

  1. A variety of patterned quilt fabric (sold at Jo-ann’s in squares)
  2. The iron on fabric backing stuff.  Yes, this is what I called it when I went to the fabric store.  Don’t judge.  I don’t sew so this was the best I could do to describe it.  They sell it by the yard so get a lot of it.
  3. Pre-made iron ons (including letters)
  4. Cut outs of cute animals and such that I turned into templates for guests to cut during the party
  5. Scissors
  6. A few irons
  7. A few ironing boards
  8. Onesies (Walmart has cute ones for not very expensive)
  9. White cloth diapers (aka burp cloths).  You can have guests make matching sets to go with their onesies.

And that’s it!  You need to do a little prep work to put the backing on the fabric, but that’s really easy.  Now turn it into a contest and have the mommy vote on her favorite to win a prize.  This activity takes a decent amount of time, so if you do this, you don’t need a ton of other activities.

For more innovative baby shower ideas, take a quick read of Part 1 of this post, you can’t go wrong choosing any of combination of them.

Step 4:  Dessert.  I mention a build your own cupcake bar in the first installment of this post, but I found these adorable dessert tables on Hostess with the Mostess that I think would be absolutely perfect for this theme!  You can change the color scheme and feature more blue if baby is a boy or greens if you want a more neutral theme.

From:  Hostess with the Mostess and Louise Sanders

From: Hostess with the Mostess and Louise Sanders

Definitely check out the full details from HWTM because they list where you can purchase all of the decorations as well.

Steps 5 and 6:  Presents and Pictures.  This one is pretty self explanatory.  Since mommy will be busy opening presents, it’s up to the hostess, the guests, or a photographer to take pictures of her opening up all of her presents.  These will be cherished by her forever.  I recommend asking guests to email you their photos from the event or provide disposable cameras for guests to use for candids.  Your guests can be the “tourists” visiting all the places you highlight in your The Best Place For Me theme.  Since you will be using a book for your theme, you can ask guests in the invitations to bring along a book to give as a special gift to start baby’s first library.

Pick up your copy of The Best Place For Me here and get started planning this fun and unique shower!

My Wish For You Birthday Bash!!

My Wish For You_Birthday Bash copy

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday dear Book #2…Happy Birthday to you!  Today we are celebrating the publishing of my second book, My Wish For You.

New!!

New!! Hot off the presses!!

My Wish For You is a collection of hopes and dreams that each parent holds for their child.  The best of the best, but above all the rest, what a mommy and daddy really wish is for their child to be happy with who they are.  That’s the greatest wish by far.

However you wish, a dandelion or clover, you’ll wish for your baby over and over.  Search the sky for a star or drop a coin in a well, these wishes are wished for your little angel.

Close your eyes tight, wish with all your might!  Each one will come true, just as it’s supposed to…

Take a closer look at My Wish For You, by checking out the trailer!

As a birthday present, I’ll be giving away one signed copy of My Wish For You, and two kindle editions!  You can enter to win by clicking here!

My Wish For You is immediately available for purchase here:  http://bit.ly/14qjuNr in paperback.  It will also be available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions this week!

I’d love to hear what you think of the trailer!  Thanks!

Alway,

Amy Misakonis

 

Best Baby Shower Planning Ideas Part 1: Websites, Blogs, and My Personal Ideas

Your sister or best friend has just made the announcement that she is preggo!  Yay!  Instantaneously you shout, “BABY SHOWER!”  And then a few minutes later, reality sets in and the pressure is on, you clearly need to bring your “A” game to the table and plan an amazing shower for your amazing friend or family member.  Now, where to start?  If you’ve been to a few showers in your day, you may already have a good idea of where to begin.  If not, you might feel lost and open up that Pinterest App…

If you’ve ever planned an event with Pinterest, you know that there are a MILLION BAZILLION fantastic ideas on there.  You begin to create a board for your event and before you know it, you have more pins than you can count and have no idea where to start to make some cuts.  If you don’t make cuts, you’ll need a team of at least 10 people to execute your plan and a bottomless purse.  I know this, because I was a victim of the lure of Pinterest.  And I won’t even mention the growing disorder plaguing moms everywhere, Pinterest Failure.  (which sidenote, I discovered this hilarious blog called Pinterest Fail where a woman blogs about her failures on Pinterest and shows you the Pinterest Pin versus her actual results.  HILL-AIR-E-OUS!  You can also submit your fail..)

Now, for the goods.  I’ve listed below some of my favorite sites for collecting ideas to plan your baby shower (I’m not talking the expected measure the belly, taste test the baby food style), I’m talking super creative, easy to execute, unique baby shower ideas here.  I’ve also used my new book, The Best Place For Me ,

Now Available!

Now Available!

to help you create a unique, cute, and fun baby shower, impressing mommy and her guests without impressing the next Great Depression on your wallet.  This will be Part 2 of this definitely Pin-able blog post series.

One of my absolute favorite websites for planning baby showers, or bridal showers, or even birthdays is Hostess With The Mostess.  Pick a few key favorite characteristics about your new mommy, a favorite color, animal, her chosen nursery theme, etc and use that as something to build on.  At Hostess with The Mostess, you can browse though countless themes, shabby chic, vintage, boys, girls, twins, gender neutral, book themes, travel themes (think Parisian baby), the sky is the limit here with this site.  If you can’t plan an entire shower here, you can’t plan it anywhere!

Of course, there is always the all knowing Martha Stewart.  Just because you may not consider yourself Martha, doesn’t mean you can’t “borrow” her energy and harness her creativeness to build an incredible theme for your shower.  Not matter how one might feel about Martha, she’ll always have great ideas.  I’ve used several of them (one I’ll describe in Part 2 of this series, but here is a quick preview of a hybrid DIY and store bought Martha idea),

Martha DIY and Store Bought Hybrid

Martha DIY and Store Bought Hybrid

IMG_0014

Martha DIY and Store Bought Hybrid

but if you don’t have time or energy for DIY, you can always go buy pre-made supplies by dear Martha at places like Michaels or JoAnn Fabric.

What is more meaningful than spending some time and a lot less money than buying pre-made gifts or decorations, than something made straight from your heart?  Here, Tip Junkie links you to 60 easy to execute ideas for some amazing gifts or decorations that you can make yourself for the shower.  The first one on the page, The Basket of Baby To Go Pouches Tutorial (full tutorial found here) is one I did for the last baby shower I planned and it is so easy, cute, and a rarely seen gift that poses as a fantastic decoration as well.

A must make for showers!

A must make for showers!

She also has links on this site for more theme ideas and a list of pre-made, printable, and adorable baby shower games.  If you’re in a pinch for some activities, you can’t beat fun, printable games.

Want some ideas for not-so-stale baby shower activities?  Check this list out:  NEW BABY SHOWER ACTIVITIES .  I have a few more to add here, but all related to the ones listed at the above link.  Set up a Design Your Own Onesie contest.  No no, I know what you are thinking…good lord no, I’ve seen these tacky puffy paint and glitter induced ugly @ss onesie stations!  I’m talking about something classier here.  I’ll go into greater detail on the steps to how to make this happen in Part 2, but here are some pictures of the last contest I held.

IMG_0796

I promise, it’s easy to plan, easy to budget for, and easy for guests to create.

A very popular idea recently has been a Candy Buffet.  These are fantastic, but if you want an activity to keep the guests engaged, try a twist on this and do a Build Your Own Cupcake station.  All you need for this is:

IMG_0800

  • two simple cupcake recipes to give your guests options (I did chocolate and mojito flavored)
  • A variety of frostings
  • Sprinkles, drizzles, crushed cookies, etc.  Whatever fun toppings your tummy can come up with.

You can’t go wrong with this.  Pick out some fun and theme appropriate containers for all of your building supplies and you are all set!   IMG_0007 IMG_0009

Ok, we’ve covered themes, decorations, activities, dessert, and even gift ideas.  The only thing left to talk about is the invites.  I discovered the best alternative to paper invitations.  Punchbowl.com .  This is like the Chanel version of evite.  You can build electronic, customizable invitations, that look like real snail mail, envelope filled invitations! When your guests get an email, they click on the envelope, the envelope opens, and out comes your invitation.  The guest can read all the details of your event and then can RSVP.  As the host, you can manage your guest list online.  Not only will this make life easier for you, but it makes it easier for your guests to remember to RSVP (this is coming from a chronic “I forget to RSVP” person who assumes everyone “just knows” I’m going to be there.  Added bonus:  you can save on the invitations (which only a handful of folks will save for scrapbooks) and focus your budget on the more important aspects of your shower.

You are now armed and ready with a key handful of sites and ideas to begin planning an excellent baby shower.  Everything you could possibly need can be found on these sites.  Stay tuned for the next installment where I’ll plan a world traveling themed shower that will jet set your new mommy around the world, landing in what will be her “Best Place”.

The Best Place For Me Blog Tour! Going on Now!

The Best Place For Me Blog Tour
The Best Place For Me Blog Tour:  May 13-24th, 2013.  Be a part of the blog tour for my first book!  The schedule of events for the tour can be found on the tour page.  Not only will you get to read reviews, interviews, and guest blog posts, but you can enter the giveaway to win The Best Place For Me basket, which includes a signed copy of The Best Place For Me, a $25.00 giftcard to Target, a matching soft baby blanket and lion, and a unique set of picture frames modeled after clipboards to display three custom illustrations from the book.
ENTER HERE TO WIN!

Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop Is Here!

childrens-book-week-hop-2013
Please join me and many others in the Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop!

Children’s Book Week began in 1919 and is the longest running national literacy initiative in the US.  Each year, events are held from coast to coast to celebrate reading and the books that put smiles on the faces of our little ones.  For more information on Children’s Book Week, visit:  http://www.bookweekonline.com

You can enter to win books, giftcards, and more on each bloggers site.  Just click the linky below to “hop” around the sites!

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Join my giveaway to win a signed copy of The Best Place For Me, a signed copy of My Wish For You, and a $25 Amazon Giftcard!  Click the rafflecopter link below!
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Debut Picture Book

Debut Picture Book

Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!

 

The Best Place For Me on Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Wish For You on Goodreads