Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mmmmm, Cake....

I love baking.  But mostly, I love sculpting and decorating cakes.  I'm so far from professional, it's quite a miracle I can bake something even the least bit edible.  But that will never stop me from trying!  I love to experiment and practice with new techniques (most of the "techniques" are super trailer park ghetto-fied, as I have next to none of the proper tools needed), and would love to one day stock up a big, beautiful, state-of-the-art kitchen with every cake decorating tool I could possibly get my hands on.  But for now, I'm stuck with what I have, and actually don't think the cakes turn out too bad, in retrospect.  So here are a few cakes that I've made so far:




This was my very first cake.  It was for my oldest son's 2nd birthday, done completely free-hand.



This is my second cake and my first time working with fondant.  I made it for my husband's birthday.


I made these cupcakes for my youngest son's birthday.  They were so cute!

This cake is an unfinished electric guitar. lol :)  I made it for another birthday for my husband.


This cake I made just recently for my dad's birthday.  It was done with buttercream frosting, smoothed it down like fondant, and then painted it.  The zebra print on the sides are the new Sugar Sheets by Wilton... love those things!!


I'm definitely no where near where I want to be, but I welcome any chance I get to practice :)  I might start making cakes and giving them away to my friends and family... less temptation if they're sitting on someone else's counter :)

What's For Dinner? 6/30

Asian Sesame Yellowfin Ahi Tuna with Roasted Asparagus


We had this tonight, and it was a big hit!

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Ahi tuna steaks
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. toasted sesame seeds
1 T. minced garlic
1 t. minced onions
3/4 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. crushed red pepper (optional)

Mix all ingredients, except tuna steaks and red pepper flakes, in a small bowl.  Stir in red pepper to taste.  Place steaks in a 13x9 baking dish.  Spoon mixture evenly over tuna.

Roast tuna in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.  Baste occasionally with the honey mixture.


Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients:

1 lb asparagus
1 1/2 T olive oil
salt


Remove the woody bottom part of asparagus spears (the bottom inch or two)
Place asparagus on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt to taste.
Toss spears to evenly coat with olive oil.
Roast in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes to desired tenderness. The spears should be tender when pierced with a fork.

My family eats fish maybe once every few weeks, so since we don't eat it very often I get the individually vacuum packed steaks.  The brand I used tonight was Full Circle Wild Caught, All Natural Yellowfin Ahi Tuna Steaks.  I was really surprised that the size and thickness of the steaks were quite big.  Will definitely buy again!  Let me know if you tried this... would love to know how your family liked it.w

Killing two birds with one stone

I'm always trying to find a way to get more organized with my time, whether it's with long lists, silly games, or monotonous daily chores, but I've come up with an idea that very well may solve my time management problems.  Where they go, I shall follow.  Meaning, if the kids are playing in the living room, clean the living room.  If they're eating lunch in the dining room, sweep up under the table and sort through mail, paperwork, and other clutter.  If they're taking a bath, scrub the toilet, sink, and mop the floor.  Right now the boys are taking a bath, therefore I'm now blogging from a sparkling bathroom.  Right next to the bath tub.  Note to self: find out when the warranty is up on my laptop...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's For Dinner? 6/29

What's For Dinner?

Taco Casserole!


Ingredients:

  • lb ground beef

  • 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning

  • 1 (15 ounce) can refried beans

  • cups monterey jack cheese, divided (or mixed cheddar, jack etc.)

  • cup salsa 

  • green onions, chopped

  • 1 (2 1/3 ounce) can sliced black olives

  • tomato, chopped

  • cups corn chips, coarsely crushed or chopped



  • 1 Brown ground beef and drain.

  • 2 Add taco seasoning and cook according to package directions, adding proper amount of water.

  • 3 Put corn chips on bottom of 8x8" dish.

  • 4 Cook refried beans on stove until hot.

  • 5 Add 1 cup cheese and 1 cup salsa. Stir until combined.

  • 6 Pour beans over corn chips in dish.

  • 7 Add beef to top of beans.

  • 8 Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.

  • 9 Sprinkle green onions and black olives over cheese.

  • 10 Bake in a 375 degree oven until the cheese is sufficiently melted.

  • 11 Take out of oven and sprinkle chopped tomatoes on top. Wait 1-2 minutes and then serve.



  • Can we say Muy yumm-o??



  • And to top it off, ground chuck is on sale at Publix this week for $2.29/lb, and so is the cheese-- Kraft shredded cheese $2





  • Got a Flip in my Flop

    Saw these super cute interchangeable flip flops on another blog and had to share!  You can check out the whole post here.


    Are you ready for the sun?
    Ready to paint those toe nails and slip into some sandals?
    I am too.
    And I decided to greet spring (that will be here soon) with some flip-flops, with interchangeable straps.
    So I can start the day with some color and print…..
    Then change my mind.
    And take off the strap…..
    ……..and switch to a solid ruffle.
    Then choose some warm colors and sweet flowers the next day……
    And then animal print with a simple bow the following day.
    All you need is one pair of flip flops (or two in my case), some velcro, and any sort of colored ribbon and accessory that puts you in the mood for summer.
    How to make your own??
    Find yourself any pair of flip-flops. I found mine at Old Navy……2 for $5. But you could do this with a nicer pair…..even a leather pair. Give it a try.
    Start by cutting two pieces of the scratchy side of the velcro and gluing them to the flip flop. I didn’t take a closer picture but cut the two pieces at an angle so that they will fit together like an upside down “V” right by the toes. (And I placed the scratchy side of the velcro here, so that the interchangeable pieces with the velcro facing down would be soft, and wouldn’t scratch my feet.)
    I used a strong epoxy glue that I found at Wal-Mart. I boughtthe non-toxic variety because shoes always seem to end up near little mouths in my house. But there are many epoxy glue’s to choose from. (Hot glue is not strong enough to keep the velcro attached.)
    Next, cut two pieces of ribbon and sew them together at one end at an angle. (Make sure to purchase ribbon that is wider than your flip-flop strap and wider than your velcro.)
    Then open it up and see if the angle is just right for your flip-flop. If not, re-sew a different angle.
    If it works just right, trim the ends and then heat seal the raw edges with a lighter.
    **Tip: After you have opened up your “V” and it’s just a little too pointy or a little uneven…..just use the lighter to melt the ribbon a bit and that will even out the imperfections. Or trim with scissors first and then melt with the lighter. Works wonders.
    Then cut two pieces of the soft side of the velcro to fit on the back side of you “V”. Cut each end of the velcro at the same angle as your ribbon, so that they will fit together nicely. Sew your velcro to your ribbon.
    Then turn it over and add any sort of flower, ribbon, button, fabric yo-yo, ruffle, etc.
    Now it’s time to attach it to your flip-flop. (Make sure the glue on the flip flop has dried thoroughly.)
    ***Also, cut the 2 ends of the ribbon at an angle so that it almost reaches the end of the straps of the flip-flop. See how the end above is cut at an angle?
    Now make more.
    And be as creative as you want……
    Then make some for the little ones in your house.


    Make sure you check out the Make It and Love It blog for lots of other cool stuff! (link at top of post)

    If you get the chance to try this out, send me a pic and I'll post it!  I'd love to see it!

    What's For Lunch? 6/29

    What's For Lunch?

    Chicken Salad Sandwiches!


    Ingredients on sale this week:
    4 cups cubed, cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (@Walmart, $1.88/lb --  if you have left over, or even canned chicken, use it!)
    1 1/2-2 cups Hellman's mayo (@Publix, $2.67)
    1/4 onion (@Publix 79c/lb)
    1cup celery, chopped (@Bi-Lo $1.49)

    Ingredients on hand:
    2 T. lemon juice
    salt and pepper
    2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
    1 t. dill seed

    Directions:
    Mix all ingredients, let chill, and spread on bread for sandwiches


    For a bit of a change up, try mixing in diced cucumbers and tomatoes, and instead of bread, use tortillas, flat bread, crescent rolls, or pita pockets.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Oooh, Shiny!

    Saw a post on CD mobiles and thought "What a great idea!"  These things look pretty dang cool, and we all know our kids love shiny things.  Ok, we ALL love shiny things :)  I'm willing to bet we all have CDs and DVDs that have been mysteriously destroyed or worn out over the years, so this is something easy, and cheap, for anyone to make with the kids.  Check out these pictures of mobiles I've found



    A little fishing line, a stick or dowel rod, hanger, or something else around the house to tie the line to, and you're ready to start creating!  The kids can paint, glue sequins to, or decorate the CDs any way they like.  One cool thing you can try also is putting a CD into the microwave for a couple seconds.  It literally only takes a second, so stay right there at the microwace and watch it carefully.  The label on the CD will crinkle up and give it a really cool effect like this

    So give it a try and let me know how it turned out, and send some pictures to share!  The boys and I might try this some time in the next week or two, so I'll post some pictures up for you.

    This is where I would post What's For Dinner

    But my hubby, Corey, decided to take us out for dinner tonight!  Couldn't tell you the last time we went out to dinner as a family, but it's been long over due.  Tonight was a special occasion celebrating Corey's new job!  We ended up at Bull Feathers right on the lake in Anderson (kids eat free Mondays and Tuesdays!)  I'm so proud of him and am excited to see how everything works out.  God has been so good to us with His provision through a time of struggling, and he continues to bless us still.
    It was bedtime for the boys when we got home, so while we were settling down into bed my 4 year old, Jonathan, tells me "Mommy, my room smells like butt."    So, yeah, obviously if you're cleaning crayon off your walls with WD-40, a well ventilated room is a definite must. :)

    I have a post in the works for Couponing For Dummies, so be on the look out for it!  I'll have lots of good info, tips and tricks, and references to check out!
    Do you coupon?  How much time do you spend each week gathering and clipping them?

    "You got WHAT on WHERE?!"



    It's inevitable.  The kids have been napping for over 2 hours now.  You love the peace and quiet, but are starting to get a little worried because it's 3pm and if they sleep any longer, they won't go to bed tonight.  You tip toe to the door and hear little giggles.  You think, in disbelief, "Surely my children aren't playing nicely together, are they?"  Giving them the benefit of the doubt, you slowly open the door with a smile on your face at the thought of a Hollywood perfect sibling bonding.  That's when you notice the crayon in your youngest child's hand, and his puppy dog eyes staring up at you.  "How did that get in here?"  You feel the anxiety start to flutter.  Then your oldest points to the other proclaiming "He did it."  The door is flung open and your two beautiful, innocent, sweet-hearted children have become monsters who have been sent here to torment you for the rest of your days.  They didn't leave a single wall untouched.  They even managed to leave their mark above the closet door (which is a totally different blog for another time.)

    Yes, it happens.  Children have an unnatural ability to create messes and stains out of absolutely anything.  I battled one patch of such crayon artwork this afternoon, and was actually quite surprised at how effective it was.  
    I walked in on this:


    And walked out with this:

    All because of this:

    (Dino moral support)

    How'd I do it?  With WD-40, and a clean sponge.  For a large job, you'll want to have a small bucket of water near by to rinse out the dirty sponge so you don't smear the crayon around.

    I was really surprised at how wonderfully this worked.  Now I need to go get another can of WD-40 so i can finish the rest of the walls.

    On the topic of stain removal, here are a few other common stains, and tips on how to remove them.

    Make-up stains:

    You Will Need

    Baking soda

    Scrub brush

    Peroxide

    Shout Stain Remover

    Bleach


    For most any makeup stain, whether it is foundation, eyeshadow, blush or mascara a paste of baking soda and water scrubbed into the stain and allowed to sit overnight will probably remove the stain. Launder the next day in warm water using your normal laundry detergent. Check to see the stain is gone before putting the garment into the dryer. The heat of a dryer will set the stain permanently.  If the stain hasn't been removed, blot with peroxide and let sit.  You may need to repeat a few times.
    Lipstick is also a stubborn stain and should be treated as a grease stain. Use hot water and stain remover and allow it to sit, then launder. If any of the color remains, then bleach the garment in a gallon of water with 1/4 cup of bleach added. Rinse well then launder as usual.


    Fat, oil stains:
    You Will Need
    Cornstarch
    Iron
    Paper towels

    Once the fat or oil (gravies, salad dressings, etc) is dry, rub cornstarch into the stain.  Allow to sit 20 minutes, then brush off cornstarch.  Repeat several times to completely remove stain.  If the stain is particularly stubborn, place a paper towel on the inside and the outside of garment, and with the cornstarch sprinkled on the stain, iron the stain with a hot steam iron.

    Ink pen stain:
    You Will Need
    Ultra-hold hairspray
    To get an ink stain out, spray ultra-hold hairspray on the stain, let it dry, then wash like normal. ( Don't be afraid of putting too much hairspray on the stain.)

    Stubborn undergarment stains (perfect for potty training kids!):
    You Will Need
    1/2 cup Dishwasher detergent

    Pour a half cup of dishwasher detergent in with your soiled undergarments and put it through a normal cycle.  

    Melted wax in clothing:
    You Will Need
    Brown paper bag
    Hot iron

    Lay a brown paper bag over the garment before you iron over it then keep moving the bag around it will absorb the wax.

    Permanent marker on wood floors/furniture/smooth surfaces
    You Will Need
    Alcohol
    Hand Sanitizer
    Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser


    Use either alcohol or hand sanitizer to scrub the stain with a magic eraser.  It'll pull the stain right up!  (This trick saved my wood floor AND my 2 year old son's life yesterday--hahaha!)



    Have any stain removal tips of your own?  Post them in a comment!

    What's For Lunch? 6/28

    Most ingredients are either found in your pantry or are currently on sale at your local grocery store.


    Ham, Cheese, and Veggie Panini!






    Sale ingredients:

    Land O Frost Shaved Lunch Meat, 7.5-10 oz (@Bi-Lo, $1.99)
    Southern Home shredded cheese, 8oz. (@Bi-Lo, $2)
    Fresh leaf lettuce (@Bi-Lo, 88¢)
    Roma or vine ripe tomatoes (Bi-Lo, $1.88/lb)




    Directions:
    Place lunch meat, cheese of choice (experiment with cheeses you like best: cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, etc.), a few leaves of lettuce, and a slice of tomato between two slices of bread-- french bread is best, but if you only have loaf bread, pita bread, or tortillas on hand, then go for it!  Brush a little EVOO on the bread and place in a hot pan. Press with a spatula to flatten the sandwich a bit.  Once browned, flip and press with the spatula again.  Once browned on both side,  enjoy!  


    Did you try the Ham, Cheese, and Veggie Panini?  Leave a comment and let us know how your family liked it.

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    What's For Dinner? 6/27

    Most ingredients are either found in your pantry or are currently on sale at your local grocery store.


    Smoked Sausage and Zucchini Saute!


    Sale ingredients:
    2 Zucchini squashes, cut length wise, then in half (@Bi-Lo $1.28/lb)
    1 lb Carolina Pride Smoked Sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces (@Bi-Lo $1.99)

    Ingredients on hand:


    • 1 tablespoon margarine
    • 1 tablespoon instant minced onion
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 2 tomatoes, chopped

    Directions:
    In a skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage. Remove sausage from skillet and set aside. Add margarine, zucchini, and onion to the skillet and cook until zucchini is crisp and tender. Return the browned sausage to the skillet and add garlic salt, oregano, and black pepper. Cook until all ingredients are hot. Add chopped tomatoes on top of the ingredients. Serve over rice.

    And that's What's For Dinner!  Did you try this recipe?  Let me know how your family liked it!

    What's For Lunch? 6/27

    I'll be doing a What's For Lunch? and What's For Dinner? blog for quick and easy lunches and dinners using ingredients you either have on hand or are currently on sale in the grocery stores.  So, without further ado,  What's For Lunch?


    Bagel pizzas!


    Ingredients currently on sale until 6/28:
       -Lender's Bagels 6ct. (@Publix $1.09)
       -Del Monte Tomato Sauce 8oz (@Publix, 32¢)
       -Publix brand shredded cheese 16oz (@Publix $3.99)

    Pizza Sauce
    • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    Combine all pizza sauce ingredients
    Spread sauce on bagel halves
    Top with fresh veggies, pepperoni, bacon, anything you have on hand.
    Sprinkle cheese on top
    Bake until cheese has melted, about 12-14 minutes

    Enjoy!


    What did YOU have for lunch?

    Survival Tactics For June 27, 2011

    Good morning!  Yes, I know it's technically afternoon, but my wonderful husband let me sleep in... with some convincing... and a knee in the back.  Ok, not really, he went willingly. :)

    It's a new day!  And that's exactly how I'm going to look at it.  Today I WILL let me children help, while making an even bigger mess.  I WILL let them use the crayons, and pray extra hard it stays on the paper.  I WILL let them stay up a little bit past their bedtime, because an early bedtime seems to be the highlight of my day lately.  It's my responsibility to help mold these little creatures into becoming happy, healthy, successful adults one day, but it's also my responsibility to let them be kids for as long as I can.

    So, how can I spend as much quality time with them, while still getting things done and making sure they have fun doing it?  TURN OFF THE TV!  I know it's so easy to rely on the tv for 20 minutes to get something done.  Instead of the tv, try some music.  Download some songs from your kids' favorite shows (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Wonder Pets, etc.), and some other kids' songs (Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Hokey Pokey, I'm A Little Tea Pot, etc) and let them play in the background.  Try Pandora Radio for free kids' music--LOVE this site!  Kids are prone to break out into random dance numbers, so it'll get them active as well!  Time to clean up?  Try The Pick-Up Game!  Think "Musical Chairs".  While the music is playing, instruct them to clean up as many toys as they can before you turn off the music.  Once the music is stopped, everyone freezes until the music is started again.  It may take a few tries to convince them they really do want to play, but it'll be worth it.  And they'll love the personal time they get with you.

    Now, who has some tips on kids folding laundry??  :)

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    And It Begins...

    6 a.m. - Wake up
    6:30 - Wake up for real this time
    6:45 - Make breakfast for kids
    7 - Find random animated/talking animal tv show to occupy kids while I search for the lost sippy cup
    7:15 - Still no sippy cup, so lets 2 year old drink from a regular cup
    7:16 - Regrets giving 2 year old regular cup
    7:17-noon - Complete blur
    12:30 - NAP!!
    12:30-2 - House work (well, making a list for tomorrow's housework)
    2-5 - Make sure the kids don't kill themselves, or each other, outside.
    5pm - Decide what least-unhealthy/expired stuff I have in the pantry and fridge to throw together for dinner
    7 - An hour and a half into convincing my 2 year old that his green beans aren't poisoned, and that if I find them in the dresser drawer again I'm gonna chop his fingers off and make him drink the green beans through a straw.
    8 - Bath time... "Let's try to keep the bath IN the tub this time, ok?"
    8:30 - Stories, hugs, kisses, BEDTIME!
    9 pm - Trip on lost sippy cup.

    Ok, let's be honest. We've all had days like this. Once we fall into a rut it's hard to climb our way back out.  Some of us stay home, while some of us juggle being a mom while also out in the work force.  This is precisely why I've created this blog because we can all use a little boost from time to time. I'll be posting lots of great ideas we can ALL use around the house, such as things to do on a rainy day; recipes for quick healthy dinners with what you have on hand; how to get the most out of your grocery budget; random tips and advice; and ways to stay sane! So stay tuned, follow my blog, share it with friends, and let me know what YOU want to see!

    Did you know: for those lost sippy cups, a quick temporary replacement could be a clean soda or water bottle (16-20 oz) with a hole in the center of the lid. Take a nail and hammer it into the lid. WARNING: Remove nail before handing to child, just in case it wasn't self-explanatory enough. Sure, it isn't spill proof, but it will drastically reduce any mess you have to clean up in comparison to a regular cup that's been knocked over.