Friday, March 02, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest: Day 18- Whole Foods Diet

Good thing I didn't make this project "30 CONSECUTIVE Days of Pinterest"! Right?! :) I know myself too well. I don't follow through with things completely... ;)

So I don't have pictures today. And hey, maybe that's a good thing! Just words and links. There's a big movement in the Pinterest world right now to make sure all Pins are linked back to their original creator. I've been going through my Pin boards and deleting Pins that don't have links to the original post. Now, I'm not sitting around hours on end doing this. It's going to be a long slow process (5 minutes here, 5 minutes there), and it's going to be only cooking, baking, and craft/art work for now. I don't know if it's important, and the masses of Pinners probably don't care, but I'd want my original work linked back to me, so I will take the time to care for others. I guess.

Let's get on with the goods!

We're trying (and I loosely mean "trying") a whole foods diet. Husband watched a documentary called "Forks Over Knives" and got a little freaked out. He's a meat and potatoes guy by nature, so this is very shocking to us as a family that he wanted to switch to a whole foods diet. I don't think that a whole foods diet can be described as vegetarian or vegan. It's just whole, natural food, no meat, no dairy, no sugar. No sugar substitutes, either. I mean, what in the world are we supposed to eat?! That just took everything GOOD off the table! So me, being a culinary student and looking for a challenge (and not really liking meat that much anyway as I gave up red meat over a year ago) said, Sure! Let's do this!!

Difficult is an understatement. It's hard, and you do nothing but think of all the foods you CAN'T eat. I see someone eating a big juicy hamburger... I don't like red meat, but I want that hamburger for the sole reason that I can't have it! I saw someone chowing down on Reese's Peanut Butter cups. Normally, I don't like them. I could pass one by easily and it wouldn't bother me that I am not eating one. However, my mind went into immediate, I WANT ONE NOW mode, just because I can't eat them.

The secret to all successful diets (IE Weight Watchers) is to NOT deprive yourself of anything. Keep eating chocolate, keep eating beef, keep eating dairy, ice cream, cheese, bread, etc. Just learn how to use moderation and be accountable for the fact that if you use up all your points, or calories, on sugary sweets, then you're done for the day. The idea of the whole foods diet is to enrich your body with whole, all natural foods. Animal based foods are not whole foods. Sadly :( With a whole foods diet we're talking whole grains, fruits, veggies, anything direct from the ground and unprocessed. Vegans and vegetarians will still indulge in some processed foods, or additives, within the parameters of their "beliefs" and strictness. They will still eat sugar, and sugar additives, and vegetarians can still eat some seafood, eggs, and milk products, depending on how strict they are. With the whole foods diet, you get none of that. (Nothing fun! hehehe!! Shhh... I didn't say that!)

A few paragraphs up I stated that we're "loosely" following the whole foods diet. The kids and I are being liberal with it. I'm not giving up dairy, but have given up meat and sweets/junk food. I had already decided to give up sweets for Lent anyway, as did Drew and Louisa. (Hunter gave up video games!) Drew, Louisa and Hunter can still eat what they want at school, but they have all chosen healthy options so far.

Dinner has been interesting. To say the least. Figuring out how to get enough protein for everyone, when only one of us likes beans, isn't fun. I really don't want to eat beans. I'm trying, I really am. I don't like them Sam I Am. Especially every day! We need to find other options, or add a little meat back here and there.

So far, here are the recipes that I had pinned on Pinterest that we have tried:
Easy Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers (please make sure you use a white bean for this! but over all, these were good. We just used the wrong kind of bean.... I'll leave it at that ;)
Black Beans and Rice (I used pinto beans)
Breakfast Cookie (and here's an example where I can't give credit where credit is due. Obviously I didn't check this one! But the recipe for this is 1 1/2 cup oatmeal, 3 mashed RIPE bananas, 1 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup raisins. Mix it all up, drop spoonfuls on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. I added cinnamon and 1/4 cup milled flax seed.)

Two recipes I've made up so far are:
Peanut Butter Oatmeal (tastes like PB cookie dough)~
1/2 cup quick rolled oats, 2 tbsp peanut butter, soy milk, 1 mashed ripe banana
To make this I put the oats in a bowl, covered them with soy milk, and then microwaved for about a minute and a half total. I like my oatmeal mushy, so that's why I don't have an exact measurement of soy milk. I mixed in the PB and mashed banana. This was very hearty and wholesome and kept me full for the whole morning. The problem is that I ate it on Monday morning of this week, and I didn't realize I had strep throat, so the PB irritated the living daylights out of my throat. I couldn't eat anything else all day, so I was glad this was in my system! haha!

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes~
Use your normal pancake recipe. For the "whole foods" version you will need to use only whole wheat flour (I have King Arthur's White Whole Wheat), and an egg substitute. I just went ahead and used eggs. I had two cups of flour, two eggs, one tsp baking powder, and a touch of canola oil. In the whole foods diet it's acceptable to use plant based oils, but very sparingly. They really encourage using water instead of oil wherever possible. In place of milk I used vanilla soy milk. For the "pumpkin pie" part, I added half the can of pumpkin (15 oz can, I think!) and cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to taste. I love the taste of nutmeg and cloves with my pumpkin, so tend to add a little more than others might. After you mix that all up, make your pancakes!
Louisa had a friend spend the night last weekend, so the morning after I made these. Everyone seemed to really like them!

We're a week in to our Whole Foods diet. I can't say I have a lot of energy, or that I feel refreshed, or any of the feelings that you're supposed to feel. But I can say I'm challenging myself and really shaking things up. We'll get this figured out and find some go-to recipes that we all enjoy. Maybe a few that have protein without beans :) That would be great!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Days 16 & 17: Valentine's Day the Pinterest Way!

My cousin remarked on Facebook how she could tell which parents got their Valentine ideas off Pinterest when her daughter brought home her stash yesterday.
Two of our Valentine ideas came from Pinterest, and one Chaos Kid is too big and boyish for handing out Valentine's. (Although he was quite offended that a girl in his grade had a very large bag of lollipops and only handed a few to her friends, stuffing the remaining lollipops back in her locker. I said, you can't get without giving :)

Louisa still likes to give Valentines to her circle of friends, even though 8th grade is well past the classroom exchange age. I suggested she make these chocolate spoons that were originally posted on Sweetapolita. The friends can eat them, or dip them in hot chocolate.
On Sunday night, at 8:30, right before bedtime, I asked her if she was ever going to make these chocolate spoons. Of course she was still going to make them! It doesn't matter that it's almost bedtime ;)
She grabbed the last bag of chocolate chips (I had an unending supply for awhile because I WAY overbought at Christmastime) and began to melt them in the microwave. For one minute. When I smelled burning chocolate I asked her how long she had been melting it. "I don't know... awhile." Um, ya, chocolate is burned and I can't do anything to fix it. Last bag, mind you. I had two ounces of bakers semi-sweet chocolate, and maybe two ounces of white chocolate chips. Hopefully they would mix, and hopefully it would taste good! We melted them, added a little vanilla extract, added a bit of water to get it smooth and creamy, and it looked good. It was a melted Tootsie Roll consistency, and it tasted just like a Tootsie Roll.

I went on Pinterest to find some cute printable tags for her to add. I had her choose between two and she picked this one from Amy is the Party. Her favorite is the one that says, "you are the cheese to my macaroni" :)

Hunter and I made rainbow crayons in heart shapes, added a little coloring book from Oriental Trading, and printed a cute tag we found on Pinterest. We've been making rainbow crayons for years, and destroyed a few muffin tins in the process (before I learned to use silicone, cupcake liners, or the same muffin tin every time). It's a great way to use up ALL those broken crayons that accumulate in your house. I actually found broken crayons from when I was little!
There were two posts on Pinterest that featured the heart crayon. One came from Whipper Berry, and the other came from Flickr with clear directions on how to make the crayons.

I needed a cute printable to attach the crayon to, so I was excited when I found these on Pinterest from The Long Thread. Unfortunately, I didn't have any appropriate tape to attach a waxy crayon to a piece of paper. Hunter had written his "To" and "From" on the back of each tag, so I had to figure out how to attach the crayon, tag, and coloring book to something where we could see the back of the tag. Louisa suggested using the little bags we used for her spoons (I've had a stash of them for years and never used them for anything). I put the coloring book and crayon into the bag, attached the tag to the outside, and had a cute little gift for Hunter to give.

I realize there are parents who may think I'm one of "those" parents who always has to one-up the parents who send in traditional boxed paper Valentines. I do have to say that we've been home making our Valentines for 10 years and I don't see anything wrong with teaching the kids to be creative and go the extra mile for their friends. I'm not spending any extra money than I would on the boxed Valentines because I used things from around the house. Also, I was in the class yesterday afternoon helping the kids pass out their Valentines. All of the children were equally excited about ALL of the Valentines. Whether they were homemade, hand drawn, from the store, just a Valentine, just a piece of candy, it didn't matter. Each child was in awe over each Valentine they received.

Day 17 was all about cupcakes! I made these Cherry Almond Vanilla cupcakes from Better Homes and Gardens (in MINI!) for my gymnastics students on Monday. Yum just doesn't even begin to describe this. All the gymnastics students, and parents, went ga-ga over these.

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Monday, February 06, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Days 14 & 15: Birthday Cupcakes, and Super Bowl Food!

People keep asking me, "So for your birthday, do you have to make your own cupcakes?" Um... Ya! If I want special cupcakes to take to work and share with my friends, who else is going to make them?

On Thursday I traveled my very small city looking for vanilla beans to make these Double Vanilla cupcakes. Why is it so hard to find vanilla beans? Oh, ya, cause I live in podunk. I found them online for an amazing price, so I will no longer have to search around for them.

Saturday the 4th was my birthday. I'm Chaos Old now, and that's ok with me. I started off my birthday celebration with a Chaos Cupcake Tattoo (yes, really), designed by my friend Theresa. I also made my delicious cupcakes and took them to work Saturday morning. My fellow gymnastics instructors enjoy a cupcake or two.... or three ;) And then I also have a few other special people to share them with (like favored students, bosses, and Hunter's 1st grade teacher... no, I'm not sucking up at all...)

The few changes I made to the recipe are:
I had to double it because these cupcakes were going to feed about 20 people, and this recipe yields 12 cupcakes.
I used 1 1/2 vanilla beans in the cupcake batter, and then that leftover 1/2 vanilla bean in the buttercream.
I only had King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour, so the cupcakes had a bit of a different texture. Still yummy and very vanilla-y, though!

Then we come to Sunday. Super Bowl Sunday, that is! This certainly would have been my favorite day of the entire year, had we a repeat of last Super Bowl. My Packers, winning, game of their lives... that sort of thing. I have no love, or even like, for either the Giants or the Patriots. I had actually planned on boycotting the entire thing, until my 10-year-old, who all season had no interest in the Packer's amazing 15-1 run, suddenly had the urge to watch the Super Bowl and root for the Patriots. Yay. Me.

The highlight of my day was definitely watching the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, though. Awwww!!!!!!!

I had already decided to ship Chaos Husband off to a Super Bowl party at his friend's house, well equipped with man-food like Buffalo Chicken Dip, and Jack Daniels Cupcakes. He made the dip, and I worked on the cupcakes, both of which were a hit, I hear.

I promised the kids an extra special treat at home to watch the big game with. I've been waiting for a fun occasion to try out Chocolate Covered Katie's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip (surprise ingredient included!) Yes, this is a vegan/vegetarian blog, so there are ingredients that us meat-eaters might not be used to. However, if one can bring oneself to get over it, and look past the fact that you're eating cookie dough with chick peas in it, it's all good. And deliciously good! I did not tell the kids any of the ingredients in the cookie dough, and they were eating it by the large scoop fulls. I also gladly let them have seconds, and thirds. Really, the worst ingredient was the brown sugar I used, and I didn't even use that much. I just added sugar "to taste".

Louisa ate it with pretzels, I kept scooping up moundsful with graham crackers, and Drew just licked it off his plate. I will have Chaos Husband try some today and see what he thinks, without telling him what the surprise ingredient is ;) I used regular milk in this, but I think it would be great with almond or coconut milk. Especially to keep it totally vegan.

My final Super Bowl treat was sort of an experiment. A combination of two "power cookie snacks" I found on Pinterest. First there's the No Bake Healthy Treats from Pretty Fluffy, and then there's the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Cookies from Chocolate Covered Katie.
This is what I came up with:

Peanut Butter
Rolled Oats
Dried Apricots

(no idea what the measurements were. I eyeballed everything)

Throw it all in my brand new Kitchen-Aid Food Processor that my mommy and daddy bought me for my birthday... :) Mix it all up till it forms a ball. Then scoop it out, make little bite sized balls. and eat! It tasted like peanut butter cookie dough.

I am now half-way through my 30 Days of Pinterest project. 15 more days to go! More food, more crafts, and maybe more of looking at other aspects of Pinterest.

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[Special Birthday Cake made for me by Louisa. Chocolate Banana with Ganache frosting. Moist, dense, rich, layers of flavors, everything I love in a cake. She did a great job!}

Thursday, February 02, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 13: I Can Eat My Fruits and Veggies!

This is another one of MY pins, but at least I'm being productive :) I mean, I did have a full day of school and work today.
Here in the Chaos House, we seem to slip into non-healthy eating modes from time to time. Mom gets lazy (and busy with school and work) and doesn't cook as healthy as she should, the kids get lazy and don't pick up those fruits and veggies at snack time like they should, and Dad gets into his Sunday afternoon watching football all day and snacking zones.

Drew came home from school the other day and told me that he is going to only eat the cold cut sub sandwiches from the lunch line (versus the fried food they offer in the daily lunch menu line), and always take a fruit or vegetable (except not the apples because the kids don't use the tongs when they grab the apples). I feel that when our kids give us those signals, we need to be active in following up on them. We need to be consistent in helping them achieve their goals, as well as showing them we can meet the same goals. So what does that mean for Chaos Mommy? All junk food is out right now. Yes, even cupcakes. (Except my upcoming birthday cake :)

I came up with a little daily chart to help the kids keep track of their fruit and vegetable intake. I think it's cute :) Please feel free to print it out and adapt it for yourself at home.

I laminated the paper and the kids are using dry erase markers to tick off their servings of fruits and veggies. Then I stuck magnets on the backs and hung them on the fridge.

I added "smoothies" because we drink a lot of smoothies. Our smoothies consist solely of fruit (fresh or frozen), milk, and occasionally yogurt, so they definitely fit on this sheet. I also added "bonus fruit" and "bonus veggie" for if they go over their daily amount, or if they eat a salad that just has so many servings of vegetables that it's hard to keep track. I told the kids they can include canned fruit and vegetables, dry fruit, frozen, fresh, anything except juice. The only problem I've encountered is trying to get Hunter to understand that just because he's crossing off the "apple", doesn't mean he had to eat an apple. It's just for illustration.

Right now my goal is to get the kids to shoot for 5 fruits and vegetables every day. Once we reach that goal, we'll go from there. Hunter's used to "getting something" when he fills out a chart, so he's trying to figure out what he will "get" from this. I mean, what 6-year-old wants to hear, "You'll get a lifelong love of healthy foods, a healthy body, and a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease!! {smile}"? Ya... not many ;)

Happy Eating Healthy!! (Except the occasional cupcake because, you know, cupcakes are all about portion control! {wink}

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 12: Memory Frames and a Yum Treat

I've got three projects today, to make up for being quiet the last few days.

The first is a project I immediately wanted to do when I saw it on Pinterest. It is from the Home Goods Blog. The idea is to take some of your old recipes, such as those handed down from a grandma, and frame them to hang in your kitchen. Love this idea! I have hand written recipes from my Grandma and Mom, but none from my other Grandma (aka. Granny). My Granny did type out quite a few recipes just for me when I got married. She disliked her handwriting, so she typed mostly everything. My grandmother had Parkinson's Disease, and found some days difficult to write. The recipe I chose for her was obviously not a good day, but it's my favorite. My mom hand wrote quite a few recipes for me when I got married, also. Most of them are my favorite foods growing up, like her famous lasagna.

When I started my 30 Days of Pinterest, one of my main rules was that I was not going to spend a lot of money on this. I was going to use up the mass stores of craft supplies, baking supplies, and *stuff* that's already in my house. However, when I came across these picture frames, I had to have them. They match exactly what I plan on, eventually, doing with my kitchen (natural shapes, natural tones, wrought iron, that sort of stuff).

The recipe on the left is my Granny's famous "Pink Stuff". She actually called it Buttermilk Salad, and for the longest time after she gave me the recipes, I was disappointed because she didn't give me the "Pink Stuff" recipe. Little did I know, she didn't call it Pink Stuff! The recipe in the middle is my mom's Porcupine Meatball recipe. I chose this because it was always the one recipe I requested for my birthday. And it's so time consuming that she didn't make it any other time except my birthday, at my request. Lastly, my Grandma's recipe for Apple Crisp. My favorite part of this recipe is that underneath Apple Crisp, she wrote, "Grandpa's Favorite". I have made this exact recipe for my grandpa a few times, and he was delighted.

These Memory Frames will go on a wall in my kitchen, as soon as I can get my husband to "want" to hang them for me :) And before I get bombed with the whole, "You can hang them yourself," thing, my kitchen walls are slightly crumbly because they are made with an old dry wall. It's just best if he does it so I don't have a gigantic hole in my wall.

The next Memory Frame is a beautiful idea to show the Chaos Kids some extra love. The project was originally posted on Kristen Duke Photography's blog, and for more decorating with pictures ideas, check it out!

Between school, homework, and work, my days are busy. I feel too many days go by without me having a chance to tell the Chaos Kids I love them, they make me proud, and to keep up their good work. When I came across this picture idea, I knew I had to get it done. There's a big empty wall in the upstairs hallway by their bedrooms, so what better place for some "I Love You Because" reminders?

The last project from the blog Big, Bold, Beautiful Food is a delicious treat, snack, side dish, whatever you need it for. Even if you are NOT a fan of cauliflower, I promise you'll love this. And it's economical. I actually should have picked up two heads of cauliflower for my family of 5. I will do that next time. I followed directions in the recipe, except shortened the cooking time a bit. They were definitely done after 16 minutes. Paired with some barbequed chicken drumsticks, this was a delicious dinner!
Happy Creating and Eating!

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

30 Days of Pinteres- Day 11: Doggy Treats to Share!

Doggie Parents, this one is for you!
Over a year ago we decided that we needed another fur baby in our family. We have our two cats, one who is our precious old man and the light of our lives, and one who hates us and lives in the basement. However, we thought we'd try our hand at raising another dog. Because, well, the first two attempts didn't work out so well. We have a little boy who's addicted to doggies, and we wanted to get a family dog that really *is* a family dog. Unlike the last two.

Christmas 2010, Husband and I took a trip to the local county dog control shelter because we saw on this older dog that Husband really liked. When we got there the poor dog looked old and mean. He had a nasty snarl and wasn't something we wanted to bring home to an eager Hunter who would likely climb all over him and use him for a horsey. We've already had experience with a dog who was a biter that we had to get rid of. Not making that mistake again. That whole, "he only bites when provoked" thing... um, ya, dogs are *easily* provoked.

As we walked down the line of snarling, barking dogs, we got to the end of the row where a sweet little girl was curled up in the corner of her cage. She didn't look up at us, and definitely wasn't barking. She had sort of submitted herself to the fact that, after 4 months, no one was going to want an unspayed female dog in perpetual heat because of all the male dogs around her. That was it, I had to have her. There was no question or hesitation. I knew she was a true family friend. And she has been! We've never been this happy with a dog, and we have never regretted our decision to bring her home (even after all the chewed shoes, destroyed $200 textbook, shredded brand new $60 shirt, and swallowed cupcakes).

There's that initial worry about whether or not your new pet will get along with your old pets. Our old-man cat Socks has been with us since 2000. He's been through it all, such as saying good-bye to our sweet angel and the love of his life, Nikki, two rambunctious dogs that he hated, three babies (who grew to be pesky toddlers), and 6 moves, 3 of which were cross country. He's more like a dog in nature, but he's hands down the most awesome cat in the world. He tolerates all that the kids have thrown at him in 11 1/2 years, and he's still ticking like he's a 3-year-old.

When we first introduced Socks the Tuxedo Cat to Holly the Christmas Puppy (who was about 2-years-old when we got her) he immediately batted her on the nose a few times with his claw-less paw. She lowered her head in submission and they've been best pals since. Socks absolutely loves to cuddle with Holly. He will lay next to her any chance he can get. These two make my heart smile.

As soon as we got Holly, I Googled dog treat recipes and found one that we ended up calling Holly Crack. It has that gross pureed meat baby food stuff in it, and she can't get enough of it. She will do *anything* for her Holly Crack.

I wanted to make some new recipes for Holly, even though I know she'll never get tired of the old one :) I found this one on Pinterest, and the originating blog post on Pink Pistachio is so cute! I made a double batch because we are going to share some with our newest fur baby family member, my new nephew Shadow. My sister is a huge dog lover, but lived in an apartment where she couldn't have dogs for a long time. She finally is in a place where she can have small dogs, and just like Holly called to us, Shadow called her name at her local animal shelter. We haven't met Shadow, us being in New York and him living in Wisconsin, but we will send him some love. This was Hunter's idea because he asked if he could send Shadow a picture, and then as we were baking treats he thought it would be great to send Shadow some treats, too.

Tomorrow I'm going to whip up a batch of these yummy looking treats. Pumpkin is great for a dog's digestion. If your dog has an upset tummy, perhaps a little too much of chewing-everything-in-sight-even-if-it's-not-edible, like doggies do, give them a little scoop of pumpkin. It's like Alka-Seltzer for dogs. Just like the previous recipe's originating blog post, this one also has a very cute story over at Simmer Till Done.

We do not, as of yet, own a dog bone cookie cutter. I would have bought one long ago, but I can tell Holly just simply doesn't care what shape her treats come in. I break them in half anyway, no matter what shape they are. We typically use our small star cutter.

The combined work of Mommy and Hunter, yet again. He's quite a handy little helper, if I do say so.

Don't forget to stop by and see what Louisa's up to at Weezie Peezie Lemon Squeezie!

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Friday, January 27, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 10: My Own Pin

I thought I'd take a little break from making other people's projects, and Pin my own today. Partly because I've been busy this week with the start of school, and partly because the project I am working on isn't turning out right, and partly because I'm being lazy :)

Drew is in an after school program called MAP, which stands for Middle School Achievement Program. They help the kids do homework, play games, and have various clubs for them to join like Cooking Club, French Club, and Arts and Crafts Club. I really enjoy it, and best of all I work with most of the MAP staff because it's run by the local YMCA, so I get updates as to how Drew is behaving ;) Luckily for him everyone in the staff loves him and thinks he's hilarious.

Today was the last day of the semester, so the fella who runs MAP asked if I would whip up a batch of cupcakes as a special treat for the kids.

Um... is my name Chaos Mommy?! Of course! And better yet, there's no flavor preference, so I get to go crazy!

I instantly decided on 24 Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes, and 24 Nilla Wafer Cupcakes.

I went back and forth a bit about how to make the Oreo cupcakes. Do I put the whole Oreo in the bottom of the cupcake, or chop up cookies and add the crumbs to my batter? I chose the latter and the batter looked great. :) Then for the frosting I made a Cookies and Cream buttercream.

For the Nilla Wafer Cupcakes I put a Nilla Wafer in the bottom of the cupcake, and I added some crushed up Nilla Wafers to the top of the vanilla buttercream.

I hope they were awesome! I hate when I don't get to taste test my cupcakes before they go out. However, I had a teensy bit of the vanilla batter leftover, and it was YUM! I will admit I licked the beater. And the spatula. And the bowl. And my fingers.

Also, while I was making these, I was giving Husband a little lesson in cupcake decorating. But don't tell anyone because I'm sure he'll deny it! He tried his hand at piping frosting on some of the Oreo cupcakes. I told him to make "dog poop piles". He said, "Why are you making them look like dog poop? What kind of party is this?" He obviously didn't see my "figurative" sign that was turned on.

When I walked into school, after school, with these bad boys, I was stopped by various teachers who insisted I stop and show them what was in my mystery boxes. They were jealous they didn't get to eat them! Where are my business cards when I need them?!! I also forgot to bring business cards to MAP because the lead fella said he'd pass them out to parents for me. Oh well. Next time maybe I'll have my act together!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest - Day 9: Corn Dogs + Intergalactic Space Slime = Mommy and Hunter Day!

On Friday Hunter asked for a Mommy and Hunter day. I said I had too much homework.

On Saturday Hunter asked for a Mommy and Hunter day. I said I had too much homework.

~*~ BUT ~*~

I offered a Mommy and Hunter "Half-Day" on Sunday, and he could choose what he wanted to do as long as we stayed home (because Mommy is tired :).

He decided he wanted to choose some activities off that website. You know, the one that Mom goes on all the time... that has, like, fun stuff. But not Facebook. The other one.

~*~ SMILE ~*~

I've been taking a winter-term class to make up for a class that, um, didn't go so well. That means I'm taking a class that would normally take a full 16 week semester to complete, in 4 short and condensed weeks. But with all the normal homework you would have in a 16 week class. Luckily, it's a topic I'm extremely interested in, environmental biology. So at the very least, it kept my attention. However, all this means I haven't had the spare time over the last month that I thought I'd have. {Especially for crafting, baking, and writing.} It also means the kids start to feel when they've been pushed to the wayside. At least it's nice to know when they miss my attention :)

This all brings us to Day NINE: Mommy and Hunter Day!

I told Hunter to pick one food item to make, and one craft to make. He asked why we couldn't pick, like 5, or 6, or even 10? I said because it's a Mommy and Hunter "Half-Day" (because Mommy, by the absolute grace of God, and a power outage on the school's website for 5 hours during the last day of winter classes, got an extension on her biology class and was still allowed to turn in homework up until NOON on Sunday, and by goodness she was going to take advantage of that!). I kind of steered Hunter a little bit in deciding what we were going to bake because he was choosing things that I didn't have all the ingredients for. I explained to him we needed to choose a snack that we already had all the ingredients for. Mommy was taking one day to not step a foot outside the house. Or spend money.

He was excited when we chose Corn Dogs, and even more excited when we chose Slime for our craft. Or better yet, Intergalactic Space Slime with Space Dust (because Mommy likes to use glitter in everything, so this is Mommy's way to get her boys to use glitter! {{Smile}} ) Also, because we had all the same ingredients for our Slime that The Idea Room had on her blog, except the cool glow-in-the-dark-paint. So Mommy had to do some quick thinking as to how else we can make our slime awesome. Because for some reason, just making slime by itself isn't awesome enough.

{The corn dogs were quite simple. I used one of my favorite corn bread recipes (although I feel there's nothing wrong with using a box mix, too), and Lil Smokies, in this case the turkey kind. I had Hunter scoop the corn bread mixture into the cupcake liners with an ice cream scoop. He did all of them himself. He said, "Isn't this great, Mom? You get to sit back and relax while I do all the work!"}

{Here's how delicious they turned out! I liked the ones where the corn bread rolled over the "dog". I added a pinch more sugar to the second batch, so they were sweeter. However, the first batch was yum! My sweet tooth prefers corn bread a little more on the sweeter side. Also, from my large stash of cupcake liners, Hunter chose the football ones because Daddy was watching Playoffs.}

{tA-dA! Hunter's so proud he made these by himself. While Mommy got to sit back and relax ;) }

While Hunter was eating... NINE.... corn dogs, he sang, "It's a Corn, it's a Dog... it's a Corn Dog MUFFINNNN!"

Then we took a short break because Mommy promised Daddy she'd whip up a big batch of Venison Chili for him to take to work for lunch all week. Hunter had no problems playing on the computer. After all, "We do need computer breaks you know, Mom."

Then it was Slime Time! Like I said earlier, with no Glow-In-The-Dark-Paint, like The Idea Room had, Mommy needed to think quick ;) AKA, use glitter! Hunter was quite impressed that all our other ingredients matched up exactly to the picture on The Idea Room's post. We had the same Borax, same clear Elmer's glue, and same Neon McCormick food coloring. Wow. Am I good or what?

I usually can't get slime to work out as well as it should. And my Borax hasn't been used since the last time we made slime, almost 2 years ago. It was a bit lumpy and I ended up having to strain the lumps out. We made two slimes, one wasn't as clear because of the lumpy Borax solution, and the other one turned out nice and clear, but it's more Flubber than Slime. Which is funny because we watched Flubber on tv this morning, so Hunter was quite familiar with it. Except disappointed that his Flubber didn't stick to his feet ;)

{I had to be in the picture this time. But unbeknownst to him, I get to crop my fat head out ;) }

The directions for slime are on The Idea Room website that I've linked to a few times. Great directions, I'm just a bad Intergalactic Slime maker :)

Now that Spring Semester is starting, and God willing, my 2nd to last semester, I'm going to make a sort of schedule for my 30 Days of Pinterest project. I have in-school classes on Tuesday and Thursday, and I also work Tuesday and Thursday evenings, so those days are cut short as to amount of time I have to make projects. Those are going to be my 30 Minute Project days. It will be fun to to challenge myself with some quick and easy projects, as well as lengthier ones on the days I have more time.

I try to make time for the kids when I can. Louisa and I have our Saturday mornings at gymnastics. We can fit a LOT of much needed conversation in on those 3o minute drives to and from work. And also we get to work as a team for three hours while coaching (and doing) gymnastics. Hunter and I get a quite a bit of time together as he's my companion at work, and since Drew and Louisa both have after school activities and don't get home until 5:30, Hunter and I get all that after school time together. Fitting in alone time with Drew can be a bit more difficult and I have to work harder at it. It does get done, though. I feel it's extremely important to give each child time, even if it's not always convenient for me to do.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 8: When life gives you lemons... make lemon ricotta cookies!

Yes, I really had to use one of the world's most overused sayings :)

Meyer Lemons! Yum! I drank 2 of them in warm lemon water with a touch of honey tonight because I couldn't get enough of them. Plus I have a cold. I saw this cute little package of Meyer Lemons at the store and had to buy them. Wasn't sure yet what I wanted to make with them, I just wanted them. They were so cute and bright yellow, I couldn't resist! A Meyer Lemon is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It's still got the tart lemon flavor, with a bit of sweetness. You can use them as substitute for any lemon recipe, although the final result might be a tad different. It won't be so different that the dish will be ruined.

I saw these Lemon Ricotta Cookies on Pinterest, originally posted on Tracey's Culinary Adventures. TCA got it from Giada. Of course Giada would pair ricotta cheese and lemon, and make a cookie out of it!

I love ricotta cheese (I'm saying it how Giada says it in my head!) But I'll warn you, if you are NOT a fan of ricotta, don't try this cookie. Because you can taste it. I love how versatile ricotta is. You can use it in savory dishes, and sweet dishes, for cooking or baking. Louisa and I even saw Ricotta Fritters made on Chow Ciao!. (**Note: PLEASE watch him if you haven't watched him before. HIL-AR-I-OUS!) Louisa's been nagging me to make ricotta fritters ever since!

I chose not to make the lemon glaze, partially out of laziness, partially because I really needed to get back to homework after my short stop baking in the kitchen, and partially because I thought the cookies tasted good with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I will make these again, and I'll try the lemon glaze next time. With the stuffed up nose and bad head cold I have right now, it's not like all my taste buds are working properly anyway :)

{{Speaking of "lemons", go check out Louisa's new blog, Weezie Peezie Lemon Squeezie. She's a funny gal, and I guarantee that if you follow her, you'll like it! }}

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Monday, January 16, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 7: Chalk Paint and Organizing Jars

{Supplies: Glass jars, chalk board paint}

I love jars. I don't know why. They don't have to be anything special, or expensive, or old. I just like glass and filling glass jars with things I can see. I have many shelves in my kitchen, instead of cabinets, so my dream is to fill the shelves with labeled glass jars. Pretty, and functional.

I found these chalk board painted jars on Pinterest, originally from up by First Lady of the House (wow the organization is out of this world!!!!)

I have had Folk Art chalk board paint sitting around the house for a year, at least. I had all sorts of plans, but never came through with any of them. This pin on Pinterest gave me motivation to use the paint, and get a little organizing done, and make my dream of jar filled shelves start to come true.

I have some spare Mason jars that I will definitely use with the chalk board paint later, but I went to Family Dollar to find some different jars. I got those jars with the snap shut lids for $2.50 for the big ones, and $1.50 for the little ones. I thought they were very cute.

I also have an old key holder/mail holder thingy that hangs on my wall. I figured some chalk board paint on that, and a few fun messages or reminders now and then, would work good.
There's day seven! It took me two days to complete this because you need a few (I did three) coats of paint on the jars, and drying and chalk board curing time. Plus homework for a crazy hard class, work, and spending time with the Chaos Peeps, it turned into a two day project.

Here's a little preview of supplies for two (separate) upcoming Pinterest projects!

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Friday, January 13, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Days 5 & 6: Sick Day, and "Are those really pancakes!??"

Thursday was a strange day. Our school district had a 2 hour delay in the morning because of inclement weather (still not quite sure what was inclement about it). Everyone was confused, including school staff. Louisa and Drew leave an hour and a half before Hunter does, so they got up at 8:00, got ready, and left the house at 9:00. It was a nice morning for them. Hunter's bus was due here about 10:30, but Hunter was moving so slow and his eyes were watery from congestion. I decided to keep him at home, since I had nothing much to do Thursday anyway.

For my 30 Days of Pinterest project, I thought I'd look up some Sight Word activities for Hunter to do while he was home. He's in first grade and struggles with reading a bit more than Louisa or Drew ever did. I found this really cute game that was similar to Cootie. You have a "Love Bug" outline on a piece of paper, and a key that tells you what number equals what body part. Instead of physically building your Cootie, or Love Bug in this case, you draw it. So we played that a few times, and then I sent in a blank copy for his teacher :) She has that Smart Board, so she can let the whole class play it one day. The awesome site this game comes from is Teaching Heart Blog, and they also have a Turkey and Snowman version of the game.

The next activity we pulled off Pinterest is from one of my favorite activity/craft/DIY blogs, Tip Junkie. There are not only sight word flash cards to print off, but 25 sight word game and activity ideas. We played a few games, had a little fun, and Hunter *finally* conquered the word "our" and remembered the difference between 'our', 'are', and 'or'.

So those were my Thursday, Day 5 Pinterest activities, but Louisa thought they were too boring for me to make a single post out of ;) She said I needed something more exciting than that for my Pinterest project! Oh, teenagers. They don't understand! Other moms helping their little ones learn to read will find it interesting! I think.... I hope....

Today's project was my attempt at making the perfect shaped pancakes. And failing. Miserably. I followed the instructions, even got the *same* bottle as shown on the blog (pure coincidence, but still), and they turned out..... funky. For lack of a better word. I guess the key to perfect shaped pancakes, is perfect flipping. The skill of which I do not possess. Not even a smidge! My husband flips pancakes like a madman, but alas, God didn't equip me with pancake flipping wrists, I'm afraid.

Here's the run down on how to make great shaped pancakes from Not So Idle Hands.

And here's my failed attempt at pancake shapes :) Louisa made an awesome smiley face, that turned into a taco when I flipped it. We also attempted stars, hearts, everyone's initials, and flowers. Only the initials turned out, everything else was flipped in half.

For my pancakes I used a regular pancake mix, and added 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and about 1 tbsp maple syrup to the batter. So at least they tasted good!

Also today, I shoveled about 2 feet of snow on the front sidewalks, took a 20 minute trip to Walmart that actually took me an hour, and saw a gagillion cars slide off the snowy roads as I plowed through in my Dodge Ram 4x4. Because you don't live in Northern New York state if you can't barrel through the snow and get where you need to be going. It was nerve wracking knowing the kids were coming home in the buses, when it was near white-out conditions. They had an early release day due to weather, and they all got home safe. But there's a LOT of snow out there, and I really need my husband to come home and snow blow the driveway!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day Four: French Toast *BOMB* and Hash Browns on Crack

A few things people should know about me:
  • I am slightly not right in the head
  • I do projects at all hours of the day... like 2:30 in the morning
  • I don't sleep well, so some of my best inspirations come late at night
  • Sometimes I don't even sit down for the first time until 11:00 pm.
  • I do *NOT* make my kids breakfast. Getting a hot breakfast like this is a gigantic treat to them. My poor, deprived children...

I was up late doing homework last night. I went to the kitchen for a snack when I noticed that my loaf of sandwich bread had a slit in the bag, from one end to the other. My first thought was to grab a few gallon sized zip locks and put the bread in them. When I went to open the bag of bread, I noticed that half of it was pretty hard and crusty. CRAP! My guess is that the bread had a tear in the bag before I put it in the freezer, because I had just taken the bread out of the freezer yesterday morning.

What else do you do with crusty bread? Bread crumbs? Bread pudding? Ah-ha! French toast! I didn't feel like sitting around this morning making French toast for the kids, so I decided to look on Pinterest for a French toast baked dish. And boy did I find one!! This baked French toast was originally posted on a blog called Mormon Mavens, and they adapted it from The Pioneer Woman herself :) This stuff is seriously the bomb-diggity! I want to eat the whole 9x13 pan :) Would that be bad?!!

My slight adjustments to the two recipes I linked above are:

*I didn't have enough milk, and it being 2:30 a.m. when I assembled this, I wasn't going to the store :) I used about half milk (1%) and half heavy whipping cream, to equal 2 cups total.

* I added about a tsp of cinnamon to the milk/egg mixture.

*I had to get this in the oven by 5:30 a.m. for my two oldest children to really enjoy it, so the French toast sat in the fridge a total of three hours. Both bloggers suggest keeping the French toast in the fridge longer than that. Just letting you know I took a short cut and it turned out just fine :)

* The topping I made was exactly what Mormon Maven's topping is, although she added an icing on top of that after it came out of the oven. Not having any milk left, I opted out of the icing, but I'd love to try it like that! If you would like to make an icing, there's no specific formula. Place about 2 cups of powdered sugar in a bowl, add a few drops of milk at a time until you get the icing slightly runny. Runny enough to drizzle on the French toast, but not like water. You add the icing after the dish comes out of the oven. If you add icing, be sure to store leftovers (psht! HA!!) in the fridge.

I actually had two Pinterest projects today. The first was out of a need to use up that prematurely stale bread, and the second was a need to... eat dinner! :) I had come across these Crack Potatoes, originally posted on a blog called One Good Thing. These potatoes were once a result of someone's mistake, and they are a scrumptious delicious mistake!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 3: Shadow Box Monogram

So, does everyone have a closet full of random craft "crap" that they bought on clearance, without knowing what to do with it, just because it was on clearance? Raise your hand! (And PLEASE tell my husband I'm NOT the only one!)

I've had most of these materials on hand, randomly, for no reason, for quite awhile. The shadow boxes were picked up on sale at Michael's, the letters also were on sale, the paint I've had around just because I love painting, and the paper is because I was once going to be a scrapbook artist, then changed my mind, yet I can't stop buying paper!

We recently remodeled Drew's room, and by "we", I mean Husband :) We're decorating the new bedroom in a Hard Rock Cafe theme. My son is all about rock n roll, and rocker type colors. Eventually I'll paint a guitar on his wall, and he's going to have a real music corner to rock out in.

I saw this shadow box with a monogram on Pinterest, and knew I had the materials on hand to make one for Drew's new room. Louisa had actually asked me once if she could decorate her room with different shadow boxes with an assortment of items in them, so I thought this would be great for her, too. Her room is painted a few shades of teal, and has a lot of black and white accents. Her favorite color is lime green, so I let her go through my paint collection and pick out the shade of green for her "L".

My shadow box looks a bit different than the one I found on Pinterest, but it's all about the inspiration and making an idea your own.

{These are the materials for Louisa's shadow box. The paint is Craft Smart Neon Green, and Folk Art Extreme Glitter Peridot. I'm in love with Extreme Glitter!!}
{These are the materials for Drew's shadow box. I'm using two pieces of paper for his background. I thought this glittery black would look nice under the red with the stars. A little rock n roll-ish. The paint colors are Apple Barrel Black, and Folk Art Extreme Glitter Black. So cool that they have black glitter paint!}
{I started my project by sanding and painting the letters. I didn't want to get *too* glittery with Drew's "A", although it was tempting :) That black glitter is so awesome!}
{While the letters are drying, I cut out and glued the scrapbook paper on the backs of each shadow box.}

{When the letters and backs were dry, I glued the letters onto the paper. Then I let them sit and completely dry.}
{Finished product! Both kids were excited with how their monograms turned out.}
Now I'm off to get homework done. Because I took the day off to craft it up (and go to work), I need to get moving on my environmental biology projects!! (Multiple!)

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