Archive | June, 2011

Family Summer Bucket List from Positively Splendid

Even the most organized moms are put to the test come the last week of school, especially if you have three children at three different schools like I do.

family summer bucket list cards

Family Summer Bucket List Idea Cards by Tatertots & Jello on Positively Splendid

So, as I stood looking at the sign-up sheet for my pre-K daughters end of school year party, only two openings were available- “condiments” or “party giveaway bags“.

It’s decision time.

Do I go for the easy sign-up to bring a bottle of ketchup and ranch dressing?  How simple and smart that would be!

Or, do I sign up for the most difficult task of creating and assembling gift bags?  Part of me (the logical me) really wants to make life easy and sign up to bring condiments.

Condiments or party bags?

Condiments?  Or, party bags?


Or…. party bags?

How predictable I am.  Yes, I signed up for the most complicated item.

And, of course, the party crept up on me out of nowhere and left me scrambling at the 11th hour to put something together.

So, it was me and every other haggard mother at Michaels come 8:00 p.m. the night before looking for last-minute items to fulfill some self-inflicted obligation for kids school parties or teacher gifts.

And I can’t even keep this task simple by just throwing some candy in a bag with a bow.  Even that would be pretty simple.

I had to think of a theme.

So, as I wandered around the store praying for some inspiration, it was then that I remembered a fabulous Family Summer Bucket List idea by Tatertots & Jello featured on Positively Splendid blog.

family summer bucket list

By printing and cutting out these adorable summer ideas and placing a few in each bag or bucket, all I had to do was purchase items to go along with ideas like: “Write and Act In A Play”, “Have A Lemonade Stand” and “Plant A Garden”.  There are actually three pages of ideas to choose from.

Family Summer Bucket List from Toni Spilsbury

So, I purchased items like sidewalk chalk, mini squirt guns, notepad & pen, garden seeds, lemonade mix, etc.  And, yes, I threw in some Starburst candy.

Kids Summer Ideas from Toni Spilsbury, The Organized Cook

Thank you Tatertots & Jello and Positively Splendid for the inspiration.  I think I’ll be using this Family Summer Bucket List at home this summer as well.  Adorable idea!

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DIY Teacher Gifts

DIY Chalkboard Frames

Coming up with ideas for teacher gifts at the end of the school years gets more challenging for me.  I love DIY gifts and wanted something functional for the classroom.  With a little chalkboard paint (my new best friend), we created these adorable mini chalkboards.

DIY chalkboard frames from Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

No, I don’t homeschool- it’s completely coincidental that Brooke’s preschool teacher this year is named Toni


DIY Teacher Gifts by Toni Spilsbury, The Organized Cook

DIY Teacher Gifts using Chalkboard Paint


I found some decorative inexpensive frames at HomeGoods.  Then I removed the glass and spray painted a couple coats of chalkboard paint on it, and placed it back in the frame after drying.

DIY Teacher Gifts by Toni Spilsbury, The Organized Cook

DIY Teacher Gifts- Chalkboard Frames


The kids can use chalk to write a “thank you” message to their teacher.

DIY chalkboard frames from Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook


I love how these mini chalkboards came out.  We had some wonderful teachers this year and these frames will look so cute sitting in their classrooms next year.

DIY chalkboard frame from Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook













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Father’s Day Breakfast Recipe by The Organized Cook

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Piazole? What’s A Piazole?

Family Dinner For A Large Group

So here’s the recipe and story about Steak Piazole.

Steak Piazole Recipe


  1. beef round sirloin tip steaks, thin- 4-5lbs
  2. onion, white- 1 large, peeled and sliced into strips
  3. green bell pepper- 1, sliced into strips
  4. crushed tomatoes- 1 28oz. can
  5. beef broth- 1 can
  6. spaghetti pasta- 1½ lbs

Steak Staples:
• olive oil- a few tbspns
• minced garlic- 2 tbspns
• garlic salt
• dried oregano
• crushed red pepper flake (optional)
Spaghetti Staples:
• olive oil- ¼ cup
• minced garlic- 2 tbspns
• crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

My stepfather, “Skip” grew up in Connecticut in an Italian family.  When he and my mom would visit me he often talked about his favorite steak dish that his mom- God rest her soul- cooked.  Apparently, his mother never handed down her family-favorite recipe to anyone in the family.

So, I asked him to describe it the best he could, and then I got to work.


The steak is extra tender when cooked in a slow cooker. Just follow skillet directions below using the slow cooker instead of the skillet on High for
6-7 hours.

1. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil with minced garlic in large deep skillet over medium-high heat
2. Season steaks with garlic salt, oregano and a little crushed red pepper (optional depending on how spicy you want it); place into skillet, turning
each one until slightly brown on both sides then stack then on top of another if needed
3. Add onion slices, bell pepper slices, tomatoes and broth; bring to boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until steak is tender;
approximately 60 minutes; or cook in slow cooker on high for 6-7 hours
4. Boil spaghetti pasta in salted water until tender; drain pasta reserving some (about ½ cup) of the cooking water in pan; return spaghetti to warm
pan and water; toss
5. Add to spaghetti: olive oil,minced garlic and red pepper flakes (optional) to taste; toss well
Serve steak individually over spaghetti

Steak Piazole from The Organized Cook, Toni Spilsbury

Steak Piazole from The Organized Cook

With absolutely no recipe to go by, I attempted re-create a dish I had never eaten.  Everyone loved it and now I make it nearly every time they visit.

After seasoning and searing the steak with garlic, dried crushed peppers and olive oil, I leave it to simmer for hours in bell peppers, onions and tomatoes; the steak is so tender it flakes with a fork.  Then I serve it with spaghetti.  It’s the perfect dish for weekend company because it requires only minutes of my time to prepare and then I can leave it for half the day while I spend time with my guests.

Italian Salad from The Organized Cook

Italian Salad from The Organized Cook

When I decided to include it in my Weekly Meal Plan System, I had to give it a name.  “Steak with Peppers and Tomatoes”.  Too stale.  What would “Nonni” call it?  An entirely new name for this recipe seemed fitting since it was entirely new to me.  Skip threw out some names and we finally decided on “piazole”.

What’s a piazole?

It’s steak simmered in tomatoes and peppers after being seared with seasonings.

So, now you know.  We’ll see what Wikipedia has to say about that.

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