May you be blessed with warmth in your home, love in your heart, peace in your soul and joy in your life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First day of school!

Today was the first day of first grade for B. This year will be a little bit different, as she will be going full days and riding the bus both to and from school. Last year J would take her to the bus stop in the morning (provided they didn't miss the bus!) and then would pick her up on his lunch break to take her to daycare. However, this year I was able to drop an hour off my work schedule and will pick her up from the bus stop in the afternoon. The daycare savings and the loss in income will about average out, so we'll be okay there. And I will get to have a little more time with the girls. Bring on the homework!! Okay, not really. 
Been all over Pinterest the last few weeks. Looking for ideas for lunches. D isn't very picky, but B can be. So we did a "school lunch" shopping trip to the grocery store over the weekend and got to pick out some fun stuff. Tried to get some healthy stuff to mix in too. 
Today's lunch:  PB&J sandwich on whole wheat bread. Black plum, sliced for easier eating. 6 baby carrots with a dipping cup of ranch. Snack bag of Bugles corn snacks, and a KoolAid Jammers drink pouch.  Stuck a note in for first day. And while typing this out, realized that I didn't give her a dessert. Should have put some M&Ms or something special. Drat.  I did remember to put in an ice pack (the pink flower thingy) to keep it cool. 

Baked chocolate chip cookies last night for the bake sale at work today. Saved some though, so we can have an after school snack. So D and I took the ones to work after putting B on the bus. Here's my all time favorite recipe:  browneyedbaker's thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies.   If you like soft chewy cookies, these are AWESOME!  Make some! 

Only a couple more hours to kill until the kid gets done with school. Probably ought to go finish folding my laundry. UGH. 


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Almost party time!

Crazy D is turning 3! Where does the time go? We are having Elmo and Friends for her theme. So here we go!

Planning planning planning ~ all done! (except the cake)
Buying buying buying ~ almost all done! (Is it bad that I haven't figured out her present yet?)
Projects ~ barely started. UGH.

Here's the big plan. 
I have 8 activity stations planned out, with a prize or a treat to take home.

The first station is Abby Cadabby's Dress Up School. We have fairy wings, tutus, magic wands, Abby Cadabby headbands. Plus, we have Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Oscar the Grouch visors, and Big Bird headbands. 

We have Zoe's Jewelry Store too, since Zoe is never without her bling! Necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets. We also have hair barrettes cuz she loves those too, and ring pops to take home as well.

The second station is Count with the Count. This is just a board with a few sheets of things to count, and we have Sesame Street flash cards for prizes. 

The next station is Bathtime with Ernie. There is an Ernie stuffed character for this one, and a blue oval plastic tub to be filled with bubbles and floating rubber ducks. Similar to the carnival game, kids will pick out a duck. On the bottom of the duck, they will be numbered 1-5. We have bouncy balls, crazy straws, Sesame street rings, small spinning tops, and PlayDoh for prizes. 

We have Bubbles with Big Bird. We have a small stuffed Big Bird and sign for this station, and tons of bubble jugs and wands. Plus extra bubble jugs in the treat sack to take home.

We have a station for coloring, cuz Elmo loves his crayons! Lots of coloring pages and crayons, and more coloring books and crayons for the treat sacks.  One of D's stuffed Elmos will hang out here. 

There is a station for Bert as well, but to date we have not had any luck finding a stuffed Bert. Bert loves reading Boring Stories, collecting bottle caps and paper clips, and feeding pigeons. He has also lost his nose a few times. So this station will be pin the nose on Bert! We have books here for some chill out time, and Bottle Cap candy for prizes. 

Of course we can't forget Oscar the Grouch! I saw two really cute ideas, and couldn't decide between the two. So, we have Oscar's Trash Toss and Tattoo Parlor. We have Sesame Street tattoos, and a trash can to toss trash into. And since Oscar's favorite "person" is his pet worm Slimey, we have gummy worms for prizes!

Food ideas at first were hard! But we got it figured out! Elmo's favorite food is pizza, and Snuffy's favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs! So we're having Italian food. Of course, we must have cookies for Cookie Monster (his favorite chocolate chip, plus sugar cookies shaped like 3's and A's (D's whole name starts with A), and we're going to have Slimey's dirt (chocolate pudding cups).  We will also have banana pudding cups, since bananas are Elmo's favorite fruit.  

Now I just gotta figure out the cake.........

Monday, February 27, 2012

Planning planning!

Well, I spent most of my day in front of the computer. Trying to get details nailed down for D's 3rd birthday party. Granted, it's still almost 2 months away, but that gives me time for hunting down the best prices on things we want. Would you like a hint?

 It is gonna be so much fun!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Herbed Rice

Weeknight dinners are hectic.  There's always kids underfoot, phones ringing, trying to get stuff cooked and on the table as quickly as possible.  This is one of our favorite side dishes to have.  Minimal prep, just a little bit of attention, and then it cooks on its own. Easy to time to have done when everything else is ready.  This is best with fresh herbs, but we use dried herbs on a regular basis and it's still great!

Sorry no picture. D got a hold of my digital camera the other night and dropped it, so it's toast. 

Herbed Rice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced (about 1/2 medium onion)
  • 2 cups instant rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (1 tablespoon dried)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped ( 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (fresh or dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
Melt butter in saute pan (make sure pan has a tight fitting lid)over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened and translucent (about 2-3 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add rice and cook for another minute before adding broth and herbs. Cover with lid, turn off heat.  After 7  minutes, fluff with fork and serve.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Already Addicted to Pinterest

Last week, I discovered the wonder that is Pinterest. This is entirely my new sister-in-law's fault. Yes, I've often seen hits on Google come up with Pinterest results, but have never wandered into that realm. Until she posts on her Facebook about considering joining. So I decided to head over to check it out. I signed up for my invite ~ which took a week (!) of anxiously watching my inbox. I finally got it on Wednesday. I already have 9 boards and 116 pins, and have taken a break from pinning to write this post. I have already made two new recipes from pins I've found, and made 7 projects. 

Here's one I've decided to share, custom coasters.

Materials needed:
4 4x4" porcelain tiles (got mine at Home Depot for $.16 ea)
1 piece scrapbook paper 8 1/2" by 11"(selected from my stash, but can be had for as low as $.10 on sale)
1 sheet felt 8 1/2" by 11" (got mine at Hancock Fabrics for $.29, but can get 5 for $1 at Walmart, and we used brown so they won't show as much dirt)
hot glue and gun 
Mod Podge (I made mine! Cost me $.50 and an empty jar) and small foam paintbrush
Scissors and ruler (or use your paper cutter from your Cricut, or your rotary cutter and mat)
Clear spray paint (this was the spendy part, cost me $3.98 for a can of Rustoleum at Home Depot)
Optional: 1 kid to help
The first thing we did was to cut our felt to fit the back. Forgive me for not having a picture (forgot as I was trying to keep the kid out of the Mod Podge), but we simply put the felt sheet down on the rotary cutting mat, lined up the tiles with the corners, and cut around the other sides with the rotary cutter. And no, the kid is not allowed to touch it. 

We then flipped the tiles over to the unfinished backs and added hot glue (again, no touchy kid - so, no picture) but I put a thin line around the edge and an "X" across the middle. I let it set for a few seconds so that I could press the felt squares against it without either burning my fingers or melting the felt (I think the first is WAY more likely). 

We tried to do the paper the same way for the first tile, with tracing the tile on the sheet of paper, but then we ended up with way too much overhang (thank you X-acto knife!) which we didn't realize would be a problem until we already glued the paper on.  So we changed courses, and got out the paper cutter for the Cricut and cut 4 x 4" pieces, which left a nice edge. 

Here comes the part where the kid got to help. Using the foam brush, apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the glazed side of the tile (be sure to pick off any strings from the hot glue gun or they will leave wrinkles in your paper. Not that I overlooked that and had to peel paper back up to take off a string and end up with sticky fingers or anything...) Center your square of paper on the tile and press down. Use the edge of your ruler or any other straight edge to smooth out any wrinkles. Our paper immediately started to curl up on the edges (is this normal? first experience with Mod Podge) so we flipped the tile over onto the mat while we went on to the next. Do not leave set for too long, or the paper sticks to the mat and frays when you peel it up. (I didn't do that either...)  If you bought enough tiles to make an extra set, but like me are only making one set at a time, you can also use one of the extra tiles as a weight. 

Repeat for the other tiles and allow to dry. Thin coat of Mod Podge shouldn't take long. I read some posts that used multiple coats on the top of the paper, but as Mod Podge is water soluble I would not recommend that - at all!  We took our tiles down to the garage, put them on a flattened cardboard box, 

 and coated with clear spray paint.

Once the first coat dried, we gave them a second coat to ensure that they would be waterproof (and extra shiny!)

We left them out in the garage for a couple hours to dry (and to get rid of the fumes!) and then brought them in to get their picture taken.  The big kid is so proud of them that it only took 4 tries for her to (almost) look at the camera during the picture!

Please disregard any wrinkles or frayed paper. Remember those hints? I learned the hard way. But we spent some nice quality time together working on this project, so it was worth it. And I have enough supplies to make 3 more sets.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ombre Cake - Trial Version

So, I was scrolling through my Cakes photo album on Facebook while waiting for the laundry to finish yesterday, and realized that I have not made a cake since J's birthday in September. Which I have no pictures of. Fall tends to be more suited to cookies, and then we get into the holidays. Which means pie, and cheesecake. My favorite cheesecake recipe is the start on this blog. Pie will come soon. But back to cake. After scrolling through the few cakes that are in that album, I decided that I would make one today. Just to have something outside of normal holiday sweets for us. 

I remembered seeing this pink ombre cake while browsing cakes one day and decided to do something similar. Although B's favorite color is pink, mine is not. I figured I would try purple. But something smaller, since it would just be our family eating it, and we would not be able to eat much before it goes stale. I cheated and just used a box white cake mix, since this was more just an experiment. Trying to get the technique figured out. Hoping to get to make a really nice cake for my sister-in-law who turns the big 4-0 this year.

I split the batter into three parts since I wanted a little thicker layers, plus I only have 2 pans and didn't really feel like spending the whole afternoon baking. (I also was working on making Sunday dinner in the middle of this). Another lesson learned. Will definitely want to have more colors, so I think I'll do five layers like the link above. And will leave one part white, and tint the last part really dark. I guess this trial one is basically the middle of the one I want! Hee hee. 

First part: After mixing the batter, I split it between three bowls and added coloring. I use Wilton gel colors, since that's what I have readily available around here. If I can't find the Americolors soon locally, then I'll order some. But I need to finish up with what I've got first. 

Here's the 3 bowls side by side. Please disregard the Christmas tins in the background. At least I got pictures taken while mixing this time. One day I'll remember to stage while taking them!
 The first bowl on the right had just a teensy weensy dab of color.
 The second bowl had just a wee bit more.
 And a good amount in this one.
When I make the next one, I'll remember to make a white layer and a really really dark one. Just for even more contrast. 

After baking and cooling, I trimmed just enough to level the cake. I'm gonna trim more on the next one, because I don't care for the brown line between layers from the baking. I think I'll also use a layer of fruit jelly between the cake layers instead of frosting. Keep the color more consistent and make the cake a little more flavorful. 

I used my recipe for buttercream adapted from the Wilton one found here. I make a full batch and keep it in the freezer if there is extra. Be sure to allow plenty of time for it to thaw if you do the same, and stir well before using. I crumb coated first to ensure no sneak peeks into the inside, and then just a thick coat of frosting slightly smoothed out.

I had spotted a tutorial for the fondant flower online earlier today, and bookmarked it to have for this post. But alas! all my bookmarks have disappeared, not to be found again. I also didn't have time to let it dry, so it's just flat on the top of the cake. B says it looks like a garden hat. Which I like, because it doesn't say "fail". Here's the fun part of it:
No, wait. Here's the fun part.

Check out this post from Steph at Raspberri Cupcakes for what I hope the next one ends up looking like color wise!