Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homeschool Giveaway Share

Friday Fun School

If you are a homeschooling mom and you like to enter giveaways on blogs you are not going to want to miss this post.  Marcy @ Ben & Me has created Homeschool Giveaway Share on Facebook where bloggers can list their homeschool-friendly giveaways and homeschool moms can find great giveaways to enter.

I, for one, am excited to "like" this page and start entering to win. I love winning!  Visit Marcy's Homeschool Giveaway Share blog post for more information.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Read Aloud Challenge

In the fall, I linked up a few times with Debra at Footprints in the Butter for a weekly Read Aloud Challenge.  On the first of December I came down with a cough (viral) that turned into pneumonia and spent weeks coughing.  Needless to say I couldn't read anything to the kids.  I am better now so I am going to try to read aloud again and post what we are reading each week.

I need to choose a nice chapter book read aloud.  In the meantime, I've been reading picture books to my little ones when I can. One of their favorites is The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  A favorite version is by Paul Galdone.  The kids just love this story.  A couple of other favorites are Sheep in a Jeep and The Pig in the Pond.

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What are you reading to your kids?  Link up @ Footprints in the Butter

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Craft Kits in a Bag

If you are familiar with Activity Bags such as Preschool Activities in a Bag, Reading Games in a Bag, Math Games in a bag and more, you will be happy to learn of their newest set of activities in a bag: Craft Kits in a Bag. (And if you're not familiar with them, now would be a great time to check them out.) There are three Craft Kits in a Bag e-books offering a total of 96 crafts.

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As with all of the activities in a bag, Craft Kits in a Bag can be used by a single family or in a group by having a swap. In order to host a swap you will need a Coordinator Handbook (free) and a copy  of at least one of the Craft Kits in a Bag e-books. (Only the coordinator of the swap needs to purchase the e-book!)

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Each Craft Kit in a Bag e-book has 32 craft projects designed for grades K-6.  They come with a supply list for 1, 10, 15 or 20 kits making it easy to gather the needed supplies for 1 kit or multiple kits for a swap.  You will find a wide variety of crafts to choose from (or make them all).  You'll find mosaics, 3-D art, papier-mâché, recycled crafts, puzzles to make and do, bead crafts, jewelry, picture frames and so much more!

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This is a sample of the supply chart you get for each craft.

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There are clear directions telling you what to put in each bag.

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Each craft comes with a page of labels that are to be attached to the craft bags
(gallon size zipper bags).  Attach the label with clear mailing tape.

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Directions are given to be printed and
added to each craft bag.

What I love about the craft bags is that most of the supplies needed are things you probably already have around your house and if not, they are available inexpensively.  These bags are great to have around for keeping your elementary children (and we've used them with pre-schoolers too).  I think  they would make a wonderful gift for a child that like to make crafts as well.  I know my girls would love to receive a set of pre-made craft kits that they can just pull out and make.

Here are a couple of crafts that we have done recently from Craft Kits in a Bag.

The kids LOVED this one.  I don't think we've ever done mosaics before and they just loved gluing the beans (and some other items I had around like rice, pasta and lentils) to their papers. My 18 year old even made one!

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Another craft my 10 year old especially enjoyed (and I remember loving as a child) was to make scratch art.  She was so impressed. Here is her artwork:

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You can't see all of it but Emma wrote,
"This is so awesome"
and so it is.

Other titles by Activity Bags include:

Preschool Activities in a Bag 1 and 2 (Book 3 Coming Soon!)
Science Experiments in a Bag 1, 2 and 3
Travel Activities in a Bag
Daily Activity Journal 1 and 2

Math Games in a Bag
Reading Games in a Bag

Craft Kits in a Bag e-book are available for $15 each.  Check out all the products available from Activity Bags. Save 30% until January 31st.  Coupon code is on the website!  Samples of all 3 books are also available on the website.

For further information visit the FAQ page.

disclaimer: I received pdf copies of all 3 Craft Kits in a Bag e-books in exchange for an honest review.

Spice Rubbed-Vinegar Glazed Chicken

Last night I tried a new recipe from my new Weight Watchers cookbook, Turn up the Flavor.  (Do not pay for this on Amazon.  Go to a Weight Watchers location. I think it is $15 new.)

Don't let the fact that it is from a Weight Watchers cookbook scare you away.  It is delicious, real food.  This recipe is supposed to be cooked on the grill, but we had lousy weather so I just cooked it on the stove top in a non-stick pan (it was pretty messy in the pan so the grill would be better if you can manage it.)

6 (5-oz)boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

The rub: (combine in small bowl)
2 tsp. smoked Paprika (I use Penzey's.  I LOVE this spice.)
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 T. brown sugar

The glaze:  (mix together in small bowl)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 T. brown sugar
2 T. cider vinegar

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I can't tell you how good this smells cooking.
Try it for yourself.
Rub spice mixture all over the chicken.  Grill or cook chicken over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side then brush with half of the glaze.  Cook 2 min. Turn and brush with remaining glaze.  Cook until done. (I use a thermometer for chicken.)

I served this with baked potato, brussel sprouts and roasted beets.

This is 5 Points Plus per serving if you are on Weight Watchers and has 203 calories.

The whole family enjoyed this least the ones that like chicken. :)

Also linking up with The Gathering Spot,

Monday, January 28, 2013

100 Bible Verses in 2013 Week 5

This is week 5 of learning 100 Bible Verses in 2013 using Robert Morgan's book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart which I am doing along with a Facebook group started by Shanna at Learning at His Feet.

100 Bible Verses in 2013

II can't believe we're up to week 5 already.  By the end of this week I'll have the first 10 verses hidden in my heart!  I love this book and this challenge! This week I am learning the last of 5 verses in the Romans Road.

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The next verse begins a series of verses on Listening: The Word of God and Prayer. We begin with 2 Timothy 3:16.

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Scripture Memory resources:

What I find most helpful doesn't cost a cent though. Repeating the verse out loud 5 times a day and writing them out.  Frequent review is helpful as well. 

Shanna linked to a post on A Holy Experience blog with some scripture memory helps.  I am not a fan of the author's writing style (no tomatoes please),but she does offer some good resources so I recommend checking it out.

Linking up with Ben and Me.

photos courtesy of Laura Shrek at

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Spice-rubbed Vinegar-glazed Chicken*, potatoes and vegetable (I'll skip the potato and have extra veggies)

Tuesday: Fluffy Cheese and Greens Frittata

Wednesday: Spaghetti and bread (spaghetti squash for me)

Thursday: Homemade macaroni and cheese (for night for me)

Friday: Turkey dinner

SaturdayTurkey chowder with homemade bread

Sunday: leftovers

* From Weight Watchers new cookbook, Turn Up the Flavor.

Link up your own menu plan at  (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.) This week is found here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal


In my life this week…

It was SO cold here this week.  It hasn't been above freezing in a week. This is also the first week since December first that I am not coughing.  I am finally, finally feeling better!

In our homeschool this week…

This time of the year seems so difficult. I am just struggling along trying to get everything done.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

This week we went to the local aquarium.  It was very cold.  We got there right when they opened and there was hardly anyone there which was nice.  When we got to the penguin exhibit no one else was even there and the penguins had just been fed and were active.  It was a lot of fun to see them up close....with no one in our way. :)

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Things I’m working on…

Crochet.  Lots of crochet.  Lots of fun.  I had been focusing on my knitting for the past year or more.  It's good to be doing both. (I also finished knitting a heavy scarf I started in the fall...perfect timing for this week's cold weather too!)

Hexagon I crocheted tonight. I like these colors. photo 552470_10200407652743486_1183084991_n.jpg
I've been making some hexagons.
They are fun. I'm trying to decide if I want to make a bedspread out of them.

Crocheted this square today. It's supposed to be 12" but is more like 10". This is a really bright pink.  It doesn't look it on my computer. photo 184644_10200420425462796_760881666_n.jpg
Then I decided to try a 12" square.  I adore this one.
(It's only 11" blocked though)
The color in this picture is very off.
 It's actually a very bright pink.

I’m cooking…

sourdough crackers

I cannot make enough to keep them in the house.  My family gobbles them up.

Making crackers photo 556794_10200096270199117_92296618_n.jpg

I’m grateful for…

Long underwear!  It has been SO cold here this week (as I mentioned). BRRRR

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

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taken at the aquarium-these are my 5 youngest

Link up your own Homeschoool Mother's Journal post.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stick with it Saturday

I've been on a long plateau with my weight loss.  For the past several weeks I've been up and down with the same 3 lbs.  Yesterday, I was almost back down to my lowest and I hope I'm about to lose something new. I do finally have something to say about what I've been doing for fitness.  YAY!  This means I am finally over my pneumonia. Double Yay!!

Workouts for the week:

Saturday: (after last week's Stick with it Saturday post) I ended up going for a run.  It felt good to be running, but I am back to square 1 since I had stopped running for so long.  It's been too cold to run and there's snow and ice around so I haven't been back out.  My back/shoulder blade area has been hurting ever since.  (so frustrating)

Sunday: (no workout)

Monday: 2 miles of a  Leslie Sansone DVD followed by a 20 minute Jillian Michaels workout then I played on the Wii for a short time.  I felt sore and figured I wouldn't be able to move the next day but I was fine.

Tuesday: Bought Billy Blanks Tae Bo Bootcamp Shred video.  Did the entire workout (to the best of my ability).  Let's just say I'm glad no one was taking any videos of me.  :)

Wednesday: Purchased Extreme XRT app for my ipod and did the first beginner workout.  Love this!

Thursday: Extreme XRT 2nd beginner workout (20 minutes).  Most of this is fun.  I enjoyed it and I like having a short workout that I can fit into my day.

Friday: nothing...too tired and my shoulders hurt too much.  My back is so "tight". I wish I knew what to do to make it better.  I want to exercise and it is holding me back. My knees are bothering me a bit too.  (It's tough getting old.)

Today:  Extreme XRT 3rd beginner workout.

Goals for the upcoming week: Stick to my Weight Watchers plan and exercise when I can.

Link up your own diet/exercise post over at Sam's Noggin.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Creamy Mushrooms and Arugula with Tomatoes

Last week I had some mushrooms, arugula and grape tomatoes in the fridge.  I decided to make a side dish using them and it was so delicious I wanted to share it.

sliced mushrooms
arugula (or spinach)
fajita seasoning (or seasoning of your choice)
Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge
grape tomatoes

First, sauté some mushrooms in a non-stick pan and season with  Penzey's Fajita seasoning.   Once the mushrooms are cooked, add a few handfuls of arugula (you could easily use fresh spinach instead of arugula which is expensive and not as easy to find).  Once that wilts down, add a wedge of Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco and Chipotle and mix it together.  Top it off with some halved Zima tomatoes (any grape tomato would be fine but these are so sweet and delicious).

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I had this with a Morningstar Farms Grillers Chik'n Burger.  The Creamy Mushroom dish has just 1 Points Plus since all you need to count is the Laughing Cow Light Cheese wedge.  So yummy! (The entire meal is only 3 Points Plus.)

Linked up with Try a New Recipe Tuesday @ Home to 4 Kiddos. Head over and share your own recipe or check out the recipes others have posted.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

100 Bible Verses in 2013- Week 4

This is week 4 of learning 100 Bible Verses in 2013 using Robert Morgan's book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart which I am doing along with a Facebook group started by Shanna at Learning at His Feet.

100 Bible Verses in 2013

I have had no trouble learning the 2 verses each week so far, but that is mainly because I already knew most of them.  I am struggling with one this week, but I expect to have it down by the weekend.

This week we are learning more verses from the Romans Road.  Last week we learned Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23. This week it is Romans 5:8 (which I know) and Romans 10:9 (struggling!)

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This is my method for learning verses.  Repeat the verse 5 times out loud each day.  Use my Well Versed Bible Memory Assistant  (free app) on my iPod touch to review and quiz myself and continue to add to my scripture memory system box.  I also find writing the verse out to be helpful.  My favorite way to learn Bible verses is through song.  Bible Truth Music puts out a series (I think there are 7 now) of scripture memory songs (KJV) that are great for the whole family.

Linking up with Ben and Me.
*stock photo from

Monday, January 21, 2013

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Three Cheese Zucchini and Spinach Lasagna and bread

Tuesday: Spice-rubbed Vinegar-glazed Chicken, potatoes and vegetable

Wednesday: Spaghetti and bread (spaghetti squash for me)

Thursday: Turkey dinner

Friday: Turkey chowder with homemade bread

Saturday: Fluffy Cheese and Greens Frittata

Sunday: leftovers

Link up your own menu plan at  (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.) This week is found here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal


In my life this week…

This week had half of my family sick with a stomach bug.  Not my idea of a good time.  However, I am finally over my pneumonia.  I even went for a run yesterday for the first time in weeks...more like 2 months actually.

In our homeschool this week…

Some fun things going on...but still having some trouble getting into the swing of things.  I think now that I am on the mend things should go better.  I am still tired but at least I can read a paragraph without coughing!

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Making an edible cell model
My favorite thing this week was…

Celebrating Emma's 10th birthday.  Rob and I took her out for Chinese food.  It's not often that we get a chance to spend one on one time with the kids.  I think we are going to start doing that for each of their birthdays from now on.  (They can pick the restaurant.)

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Emma got Just Dance Kids 2 for the Wii
Things I’m working on…

I am trying to finish up a couple of projects.  One is a baby sweater that I am almost finished crocheting and the other is a scarf that I started making in the fall to wear on our trip to NYC in December.  I didn't finish it (I was sick for one thing) and then it ended up being warm anyway.)  So now I'm just trying to get it done because it's so big it takes up half of my project bag.

I’m cooking…

I've been enjoying lots of fruits and vegetables lately.  I made a creamy mushroom arugula side dish this week that I plan to share the recipe for later this week...and my new favorite snack is Kale chips.  YUM!

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Something I am ogling or have my eye on…

A sharp crochet hook for crocheting borders

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and a perforating rotary blade that makes holes in fleece for edging blankets.

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A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

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Connor working on  a mosaic
Link up your own Homeschoool Mother's Journal post.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stick With It Saturday

So this will be a quick post.  Earlier in the week I decided I needed to lay off the exercise until I was better (recovering from pneumonia). I felt that the exercise was hindering my progress.  I am finally starting to feel better and plan to resume exercise this week. (Half of my family has had a stomach bug..hopefully I won't get it too.)  I will definitely work out on the Wii.  I want to start running again, but we are expecting some really cold weather this week (the weatherman said it could be the coldest weather we've seen in 6 I'm thinking sub-zero).  I won't be running in sub-zero temperatures.

My weight is up a couple of pounds from my lowest but for no apparent reason.  I've really been focusing on eating healthier with lots of fruits and veggies.  I expect it will go back down but it is always discouraging when this happens.

My goal for this week is to start working out again (I love Wii boxing) and to stick to my WW program.

Link up your own diet/exercise post over at Sam's Noggin.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

100 Bible Verses in 2013-Week 3

This is the third week of learning 100 Bible Verses in 2013 using Robert Morgan's book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart which I am doing along with a Facebook group started by Shanna at Learning at His Feet.

So far I have memorized 4 verses.  Genesis 1:1, John 1:1, John 3:16 and John 1:14.  John 1:14 was a bit tough but I did it.

100 Bible Verses in 2013

This week the verses are Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23.  I already know both verses I just have trouble remembering which one is which.  We have some children's Bible Memory CDs from Bible Truth Music and I learned these verses from these songs (a couple of years ago.)  Songs are a great way to learn Bible verses.  

I am still using the Well Versed Bible Memory Assistant  (free app) for my iPod touch and started setting up my scripture memory system box.

I am really thankful for this challenge.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I didn't stick to last week's meal plan too closely, but it was nice to have a list to draw from.  This week I was asked to share my weight loss journey story at a Weight Watchers event.  As a thank you they gave me a new cookbook so I picked out some new recipes to try.  The book is called, Turn up the Flavor.  It's the newest cookbook and goes along with the new 360 program. At first I thought it was too fancy for me but after I went through it page by page I found quite a few recipes I want to try.

 I was allowed to choose any cookbook they had in the meeting room and this is what I picked.  I have no idea why it's listed at $39.99 on Amazon. It is only $15 on the shelf.  You can go into any Weight Watchers store and buy one (even if you aren't a Weight Watchers member.)

The recipes with an asterisk are from the new cookbook.


Monday: Slow Cooker Minestrone* and homemade sourdough bread

TuesdayMeatloaf with Barley, Egg Noodles and vegetable

Wednesday: Spice-rubbed Vinegar-glazed Chicken*, roasted vegetables

Thursday: Corn, Jalapeno and Cheese Frittata*

Friday: Homemade Pizza and Chips

Saturday: Three Cheese Zucchini and Spinach Lasagna and bread

Sunday: leftovers

Link up your own menu plan at  (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.) This week is found here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal


In my life this week…

This was our first week back to school after 2 weeks off for Christmas vacation.  I have been sick in varying degrees since Dec. 1.  I am currently recovering from pneumonia.  It is a long slow process making getting back into the swing of things very difficult.

In our homeschool this week…

We started Apologia's Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology for an upcoming review.  I am very excited about this curriculum.  I think we'll learn a lot and have a lot of fun too.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Plan AND follow through with your plans.  I get nowhere fast when I don't have plans.

My favorite thing this week was…

Playing with my little ones using the Flowering Baby curriculum that I will be reviewing here in a few weeks.

Things I’m working on…

I crocheted a baby sweater while I was sick.  I hadn't crocheted in quite some time (I've been knitting) and it was fun to pick it up again.  I am trying to find the time to sew it together and do the finish stitching.

blocking the sweater pieces

I’m cooking…

Hot Buttered Pretzels


A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Rebecca on her 20th birthday (Jan. 1) with Connor

Link up your own Homeschoool Mother's Journal post.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stick with it Saturday

Not too much has changed since last week.  I weighed the same at my Wednesday Weight Watchers meeting. I'm just sticking to the program and trying to meet all of the healthy guidelines each day.  I also make sure to track what I eat.

Today I will be sharing my weight loss journey at a Weight Watchers event.  My leader approached me this week to ask me if I would.  I hope I won't be too nervous.

I have been able to start exercising again.  I've been using the Wii.  I haven't done it every day but the days I have I've worked out pretty thoroughly (or as thoroughly as I can as I continue to recover from pneumonia).  My calves are so tight. :)

As soon as my chest feels better I plan to start running again.  I hope that happens SOON!  I got this run/walk/run timer for Christmas and I haven't been able to use it yet.

My goal for this week is to exercise some depending on how I'm feeling and to stick to my WW program.

Link up your own diet/exercise post over at Sam's Noggin.

Friday, January 11, 2013

How to Make Hot Buttered Pretzels in an Hour

Do you love those hot buttered pretzels you can buy in the mall?  Did you know they are fast and easy to make at home?  We've been making these for years and they are so delicious. The original recipe for these hot buttered pretzels came from a 1996 edition of The Baking Sheet by King Arthur Flour.


You can prepare the dough using your favorite method.  For this recipe, I use the food processor which is fast and easy.  The only drawback is if you want to double the recipe you have to make separate batches, but it literally takes one minute to make the dough so it really isn't a problem.

What you need:

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. yeast (I use instant yeast.  You could substitute a packet.)
7/8-1 cup water

For the bath:
2 T. baking soda
1/2 cup water

To finish:
coarse salt
3 T. butter


Place the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of the food processor with the blade.  (I used the steel blade, but I think I have a plastic blade that is more appropriate for dough.)   Pulse for about 5 seconds.  Stream in up to a cup of water while the processor is running.  You want to stop adding water when the dough begins to form into a ball and clings to the sides..this should take about 7-10 seconds).


 Then process for 45 seconds.


Remove the dough and place into greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.  Allow to rest for 30 minutes.


During the rest period, prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper or grease a cookie sheet.  I typically would use a stone or Silpat but the temperature for pretzels is 500 degrees which is too hot for the stone I have and for a Silpat.

Prepare the baking soda bath at this time.  You can use 1/2 cup warm water (or use boiling water) add the baking soda and stir until dissolved or almost dissolved.  I use warm water but I think the boiling water might help the baking soda dissolve better.  If you use boiling water you'll need to let it cool before using it.


After 30 minutes, divide your dough into 8 equal pieces then allow to rest for 5 minutes. At this time you will want to preheat your oven to 500 degrees.


Roll your pieces into "snakes".  I prefer to spray my counter with cooking spray for rolling out bread dough. We prefer a chunky pretzel, so I don't make them too long.  If you like a skinnier pretzel you will want to roll yours to about 28"-30".  Shape into pretzels.  Here are some directions for how to shape a pretzel if these pictures aren't enough.


(Not the prettiest, but trust me, when they are eating them no one will care.)


Quickly dip your pretzel into the baking soda bath.  I put it in right side down, quickly flip it over and then place it on the parchment.


Give a generous sprinkling of coarse salt.


Allow to rest for 10 minutes.


Bake for 7-9 minutes.  You may want to turn your baking sheet half way through depending on your oven.  I didn't bother.


Melt 3 T. of butter. I like to use the butter wrapper to keep the butter from spattering all over my microwave.


Brush the pretzels with the melted butter.  Use all of it.



You can find the original recipe here (which gives directions for 3 ways to make the dough) and will be  printable as well.

Visit the crew blog for other How to....posts from crew members. 

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