Recipe: Easy Cheesy Rice and Broccoli

This is my favorite side to make. Of course, grocery stores sell pre-made cheesy rice and broccoli, but I prefer to use my own ingredients – and know what’s going into my dish!

Whole grain rice. I used instant. (1 cup) *note: Once opened, I keep my rice in a zipper bag with the directions cut off of the box also in the bag.

Broccoli. I used frozen broccoli cuts. (1/2 bag)

Cheese. I used sharp cheddar and grated it myself.

I cooked half a bag of frozen broccoli on the stovetop (directions on bag). I cooked 1 cup rice on the stovetop, too (directions on box). Then I used a slatted spoon to add the cooked broccoli (leaving the water it cooked in) to the cooked rice. Grated cheese right into the pot and stirred up while still warm.

Every ingredient I used was generic and inexpensive.

Easy cheesy!

Serves 2 with some leftover.

Even Easier DIY Holiday Notecards

Even Easier DIY Holiday Notecards

In my previous post, Easy DIY Holiday Card (and the trick to mass production), I made 30+ cards for friends and family, including a letter and two pictures. I mailed or handed these out to my family members and close friends.

But here’s show another easy holiday card I made this year. This version will be put into the mailboxes at the elementary school where I work. It includes a short, personalized, hand-written note and of course a name; otherwise each card is pretty near identical.

As an added bonus for me, I had all the materials I needed already in my house – kind of needing and waiting to be used. I don’t know what I would have done with this stuff otherwise.


4″ x 6″ index off-white index cards were the base. These cards are huge compared to regular index cards, and a lot of them didn’t have lines on either side, so I didn’t know what to use them for. I think colored cards of this size would be fun, too.

I made a very simple tree. I had 3″ x 3″ squares of green paper. They are the same size as Post-it notes, but did not have a sticky part, therefore I (again) had no idea what to use them for.



Because the slips of green paper were squares, I folded them diagonally and cut them apart to make two equal triangles.


I used a glue stick to paste the first triangle’s wide base parallel to the bottom, just below the center of the index card.


I glued the second triangle about 3/4″ above the first triangle. This way the whole top triangle was showing.


Last, I drew a trunk with brown marker. No need to be perfect.

I wrote the name of the receiver in cursive above the tree, at the top of the card, in red skinny marker, and the message in plain black pen. For my convenience I also wrote the full name of the receiver so it will be easier for me to find their mailboxes (which only contain last names).


My custom messages were short, and said things like “I love coming to your classroom”, “Thanks for always saying hi in the halls”, “Hope you have a wonderful break”, etc.

Dear readers, I hope your holidays are extra special, too!


Easy DIY Holiday Card (and the trick to mass production)

Easy DIY Holiday Card (and the trick to mass production)

The last few years I’ve made our Christmas cards on a website and inserted pictures. This year, we didn’t get any professional photos taken and I decided to go a different route: DIY.

I bought pre-cut cards from Michaels, the kind that are even pre-creased and all you have to do is fold them. They even come with envelopes. (I used the Recollections brand.) Mine were 4″x5.5″. I strongly recommend folding them on the crease, then using fingernails to make a crisp fold. This way, they fit in the envelopes better.

I had some stationary paper in two shades of green. It was easy to make a tree – fold part of the paper in half and cut a triangle. Unfold to find a bigger, symmetrical triangle.

I traced several triangles first. I cut them out next. I glued the small one down first so the big triangle tree would appear in front. DSCN0676

Next, I added the star stickers. You know, those sheets of multicolored shiny stars? I used red for the big tree and either silver or gold for the smaller tree.


Used a thick brown Crayola marker to make trunks on the triangle trees (so they looked like actual trees.)


Used a thin gray Crayola marker to add “Merry Christmas” in my best cursive.


For the inside, I wrote a brief, generic letter in a word processor for each sendee. It was the width of one side of the card, and a little longer than the length of the card. I found the line I wanted to fold the paper up on so it would fit and folded them all, so I’d know where to apply the glue stick, before gluing any.


In the fold of the letter I put in the selected two photos I printed a while ago. I made a picture collage of two vertically oriented photos and printed them on 4×6 photo paper through Walmart’s photo website. When I received the prints, I cut each one apart using my portable paper cutter, so they are 3″ x 4″.

On the opposite inside, I wrote a much more brief personalized message in green pen and signed it for myself, and had Husband sign for himself and for our dog, who appears in one of the pictures.

The trick to making 30 nearly-identical cards is to do each step on each card before moving on to the next step. For example, I creased ALL the cards, then traced ALL the big triangles (that would fit on a folded page)… etc. It was easy to do all that when the big and small triangles were all cut out. I glued all the triangles, THEN stuck on all the stars, THEN drew all the trunks, THEN wrote “Merry Christmas” on each card…. It flew by, and I think made them look closer to identical.

Do you make your own holiday cards?

An even easier holiday notecard for those friends who don’t need the whole letter: HERE!

Natural Microwave Cleaner: Vinegar

I clean my microwave about every week, and it never gets too dirty as we don’t use it that often. I usually wipe it out with vinegar sprayed onto a rag… but I wanted to write a post about a trick I learned on Pinterest that I’ve used a few times when I need a deeper clean.

My microwave wasn’t all that dirty to start out:


I used the following Pinterest trick:

Put half water, half vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. (Pinterest says 1 cup of each… I use less. The vinegar smell is awful and lingering if you use too much.) Once I microwaved straight vinegar because I forgot and I had to leave the room because of the smell.

Microwave on high for 1-3 minutes, depending on how stuck on the food is. Some Pinners say 10 minutes. I have not found that to be necessary. 

The steam from the vinegar mixture loosens the food/grime on the walls and ceiling of the inside of the microwave.


Remove the bowl with oven mitts. Dip a rag in the (VERY HOT!) solution and wipe down walls and ceiling.


It’s a good idea to remove the microwave plate to wipe it down, or wash with dish soap if you need to. 

I always leave the microwave door open a little while to air it out. I also wipe down the outside of the microwave to disinfect a bit.

VERDICT: This Pinterest trick works nicely. I like that it uses vinegar, which is safe to ingest. I also like how easy it is. I haven’t had the opportunity to use this method on an extra-dirty microwave in a while, but if I remember right, it works well for those too with a few extra minutes of microwaving. If you find yourself needing to scrub too hard, microwave the vinegar/water mixture a little longer. 

Comment if you try it!