Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Fall is officially here and today is Halloween.  I love the fall.  Love it!!  Love the colors, the weather, the smells, the food, and the holidays.  I just love the way it makes you feel.  But with this fall I have been super super busy.  I have had the kiddos costumes planned for months and since they were not difficult I have put them off.  Well I put them off till this morning, yeah just a tad bit late.  Well I managed to finish my big guys without any problem and will have 10 minute tute for you later this week but I did not get my littlest man's finished.  In all honestly I could have made it in time but it turned out a bit small so I was going to have to cut a slit up the back and add snaps and well it just wasn't worth it.  But I will tell you all about my busy day later, right now I just wanted to share the cuteness of my kiddos. 





My oldest wanted to be a Builder (Bob the Builder) Here is a pic of him in his tool belt but without his hat. 







And my baby is one of the cutest pumpkins out there.  Well in my opinion at least.





Aren't they sweet together?


Here is the whole crew.  My hubby was not much for dressing up this year but I tried to have some Halloween spirit with my shirt.

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dreaming of Ham / PreThanksgiving

I am so not ready for the Holidays yet.  Time is flying by way too quickly.  I can not believe this week will be Halloween.  AHHH!!  Five million times ahhh because I have so much/want to do.  With all of that said I am however very very ready for the food that comes with the approaching holidays.  So much so that I have been dreaming about it. 

And the thing I am most dreaming of .... Ham.  Not just any ham not deli ham, *ick* but real ham.  Pink ham!  Well at least that's what I have always called it.  You only get "pink ham" on holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter to be exact.  You know the ham I am talking about that has that wonderfully rosy color is super delicious and oh so bad for you.  :)  I think it is technically called a smoked ham but I grew up calling it pink ham and still do.  (I learned the hard way the 1st year I tried to buy one from the store and the butcher thought I was crazy and had no idea what I was talking about.  Funny story but completely off topic. Maybe I will share at another time.)

Anyway back to the ham.  I have been thinking about that ham for days and I told myself I only had a bit longer to wait and well then I decided why wait.  I wanted ham and I could have it.  Totally fine to have ham on a non holiday, except when I start meal planning I tend to get carried away a bit. 

At first I just wanted a nice meal of ham, potatoes, and cabbage.  Well then it grew into that I had some carrots and those would be good too with the potatoes.  Next I noticed some great looking raspberries at the store and decided I would make some lemon raspberry mousse squares for dessert since I already had the Nilla wafers.  (If you would like the recipe it is here.)

Nice meal but not totally satisfied.  While washing dishes I thought how great some devilled eggs would be.  I mean who doesn't want devilled eggs with pink ham. 

Now I had been cooking and washing dishes most of the day, due to making baby food, so I thought that I should spread the wealth a bit.  It would be Sunday after all and I did not want to be in the kitchen all morning before church.  So now my little dinner has turned into a Pre Thanksgiving meal.  :)

I called my parents and they are bringing some tea and some kale.  My brother is bringing the deviled eggs and I am providing the rest.  Only thing missing is some pumpkin but I am trying to be good.  Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. 
What is one of your favorite meals?

*Update*  Sorry no pictures.  We devoured it. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bob the Builder


I have been meaning to post this for months but kept forgetting and lost the blog so here we go.  For my little guys 3rd birthday he wanted Bob the Builder.  Well Bob was super popular a few years ago but now he is hard to find.  Went over several different ideas for what he wanted - sheet cake that had a road made out of graham crackers in the shape of a 3 with machines digging dirt (crushed oreos) and toy figures of some of the machines and Bob, dump truck cake, and a cake shaped like Bob.  Well I could not find any little figures and Conner wanted Bob not just the machines. 

I am by no means a pro when it comes to decorating cakes but I do enjoy playing around with it.  I finally decided to make a Bob out of round cake pans like I did my owl.  (You can see that post here)  I cooked my cake using two round 9 in pans and then drew out a pattern for my pieces.  If you need a better idea about how to use pans to create a templete and pattern check the owl post I mentioned earlier. 

After the cake cooked I let it cool for a while and long while so that it would not fall to pieces when I cut it.  Also a good idea to add some pudding to the mix to help it be firmer.  While the cake was cooling I made my icing.  I have a huge sweet tooth but I do not love buttercream icing, it is just too sweet to me.  I like to buy the Wilton whipped icing and make it myself.  (You can get it from Walmart or Micheals) It is not near as sweet or as firm as buttercream so while it is deliscious it does not hold its shape as well.  I make all the icing in a large bowl and then take a little out for each color I need.  I use the Wilton icing dye to color my frosting.

Ok now that the cake is good and cool, you will begin cutting out your pieces.  Lay your pattern on your cake and carefully cut out the parts you need.  I left one circle whole and then cut out my ears, nose, and hat pieces.  The hat is 3 different pieces. The bottom is a little less than half of the other cake and then I cut two pieces to make the brim of the hat and the ridge that runs up it. 



After I placed my pieces I frosted it.  Frosting took some time with all the corners and turns and I was not happy with the eyes and mouth but overall there was Bob and my 3 year old was tickled!  I know you can not see his happiness from the pictures he was not excited about the camera but he was happy about the cake. 


Not as nice as a professional cake but much much cheaper.  Instead of $20 for a cake I probably only have $5.  And it was super yummy. 
 
Linking to some of these great parties





















Monday, October 15, 2012

Italian Chicken Noodle Soup

This is a super fast, super cheap, super yummy, super soup and one of my new favorites!  I found this recipe on Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy hour and just knew I had to try it.  I love soups and with it finally feeling like fall I was ready for some warm comfort.  I modified her recipe some to make it faster and cheaper but if you would like the original you can find it here.


Ok here we go this soup is very quick to put together and it just gets better as you eat it.  It also heats up well, for left overs.

Ingredients:
-1 bag of frozen stir fry mix that contains onions and a variety of peppers (thaw in the refrigerator a few hours before or the day before)
-2 tbs of dried oregano
-1 tbs cheyenne pepper
-1 tbs of olive oil
-2 cans (28oz) of diced tomatoes with garlic, oregano, onion (I used Hunts)
-8 cups of chicken stock (about 1 1/2 large boxes I used Swanson reduced sodium)
-Rotisserie chicken with the meat pulled off
-box of small noodles (I used small shells but wanted the Ditalini)
-1 3/4 cup heavy cream
-bag of shredded Italian cheese or shredded Parmesan

*I only used two pots for this dish but to make it a one pot wonder just cook your noodles first and then leave them in the colander until you are ready to add them to the soup.

In a medium pot cook your pasta till not quite done.  My shells called for 8 minutes but I stopped cooking at 6 minutes so they could finish cooking a bit in the soup but they would not get mushy.  No one wants mushy noodles.

Ok in a large pot add 1 tbs oil and 2 tbs dried oregano.  Stir just until it smells good, just a few seconds.  Then add the bag of onions and peppers and cook until soft about 10 to 15 minutes.  Next add the stock and tomatoes and cheyenne.  Bring soup mix to a boil and then add the chicken and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for just a few minutes then remove from heat and add noodles and stir in the cream. 


Now ladle it into a bowl and top with as much cheese ( I love cheese so don't judge my portion) as you would like and enjoy.  It is rich and creamy and oh so good.  It really seems to get better with each bite. 

Yum doesn't that look great!  I also think it would be yummy even with out the cream added.  So if you are watching your waist add less cream or none at all but I do feel it is worth the splurge. 

I do apologize for the pictures but I had already eaten a bowl full before I remembered to get a picture.  It really is that good.  Enjoy and thanks again to Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour for the inspiration. 
Oh and the soup shouldn't cost more than about $12 to make and it fed 6 people with left overs so I would say around a dollar per serving.  (Which we probably consumed way more than a serving.)

Linking to some of these great parties



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm in Business


 
photo from Paparazzi Website
 
While I was away for 2 months,  I started my own business.  I am now the proud owner of "Polka Dots and Pincushions."  It started as a little crafting business with my cousin and has grown in the past few months to include jewelry and another cousin. 

I had been crafting and sewing for local friends for about 2 years but with two small children and very limited space the time for sewing became limited.  I then stumbled upon Paparazzi Jewelry and now I am  Independent Consultant  #7657.  (Haven't heard of it or interested in finding out more let me know I would be happy to talk with you.)

I have a Face book page where you can view all of my items and I am hoping to have a web page in the future.  I am having a great time selling cute $5 jewelry and accessories.  I love that I don't have to be pushy or bring a financial burden on anyone.  I always dreaded  getting invites to parties for Thirty One, Scentsy, etc  because I can not afford that stuff.  I think they are great companies with super cute items but being a stay at home mom means well, sometimes,  staying at home.  If I want to be able to afford to be home with my kiddos then I can not afford to spend money on $40 bags and $20 candles.  So when I heard about Paparazzi and found out that it was only $5, I had to find out more. 


Now I am booking parties, selling at events, and selling online.  I love it and I don't have to feel bad because 1- I don't have to be pushy, if you like it great if you don't that is ok too and 2-it is affordable so it is not like I am asking them to spend a fortune.  It is win win! 

I will tell you more about my Paparazzi experience in my another post but for now I wanted to share some pics of a few of the items on my page.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask or email me.  And if you are interested in anything please check out my face book page Polka Dots and Pincushions and order from there. 
Thanks
Andrea
Independent Consultant 7657
 
Here are a few pictures of some of the jewelry.  I also have rings, bracelets, and hair accessories.

 
                                                                                                                   



Here are a few of my hand made items.
 

 

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lemon Raspberry Mousse Squares

I have a ton of apologizes to go with this post first it is months late and 2nd I kept forgetting to take pictures and by the time I remembered it was gone.  It really is that good that is doesn't last.  Hopefully I can update this post soon, with my pictures because I just got some great berries from the Fresh Market yesterday so one of these may be in my near future.  Anyway here is my very old post. :)
picture is from nilla Wafer website and is the property of kraft food and nabisco


Ok I know it is like several months late but here is the fabulous dessert I promised.  I made this for Father's Day and it was gone.  I mean gone before everyone got some and there were more desserts there than just mine.  It looks super pretty so it is very inviting and it tastes  superb!  I can not take credit for the recipe, it came from the Nilla Waffer box a year or two ago.  Just a heads up I did follow the recipe exactly the 1st two or three times I made this and then I decided to change it a bit to make it easier.  (I will tell my changes as I go, nothing major just a lazy I mean easier way.)

Ok here is the list of ingredients and supplies you will need.

- 3oz box of lemon jello (not the pudding the jello)
-1 cup boiling water
-1 cup of ice
-8oz pack of cream cheese (softened)
-8oz container of cool whip
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 tsp lemon zest (optional- I didn't have any this time so I didn't use it and I could not tell a difference)
-48 Nilla Waffers (I did not count mine out I just used what I needed.  I also think any plain cookie would work for this, shortbread, or the Pepperidge Farm chessman)
-1/3 cup Seedless raspberry preserves
-fresh berries for topping

-small bowl, large bowl, 8x8 pan, electric mixer, spoons, cling wrap (optional)

Ok put your lemon jello in the small bowl and dissolve it in the hot water stirring for 2 minutes.  Then add your cup of ice.  (It can be cubes I just put enough cubes in a 1 cup dry measuring cup to fill it up.)  Stir until the ice dissolves.  Now set that to the side and cream your sugar and cream cheese together using a mixer.  Once it is combined add your lemon jello and mix it.  Then stir in 2 cups of your coolwhip.  This is also the point where you would add your lemon zest but I didn't have any so I worked without it.

{The original recipe which you can find online, has a specific number of cookies for you to put around the sides and on each layer it also has you line the pan with cling wrap so you can invert it.  I did not follow these steps.  It is just as pretty in the pan.  I just turned their sequence of steps around so my dessert would be the way theirs was once it was inverted.}

Ok so now place your cookies in the bottom of your pan.  Then poor half of your lemon mixture on top of your cookies.  Now top with another layer of cookies.  Next  heat your preserves in the microwave for about 15 seconds on high.  If it has not melted it some then do it a little longer.  Spoon your preserves on top of your cookies and kinda mash it out a bit with the spoon so it will spread some.  Now pour the rest of your filling on top.  Then if you would like add a few cookies to the top and decorate with some fresh berries.  Now just cover it and refrigerate for a few hours and then enjoy!!

If you want the original recipe just go to the website for Nilla Waffers here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Traveling with Little Ones

photo from http://cherylsalvador.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/mothers-err-babys-day-post/

Who doesn't love a 6 hour car trip with screaming whining little people.  I don't that is for sure!   This was our first trip with our 8 month old and well he is not a rider.  He can get cranky just being placed in the car seat.   So as we were planning for our vacation I was not looking forward to the traveling part and knew I needed to plan for it. 

We don't have a DVD player in the car and don't really plan on getting one.  I survived trips without a television and I feel like my kids should be able to also.  And seeing how my biggest guy is only 3 he doesn't have hand held games either. 

I knew the traditional packing a few toys thing but I wanted to avoid the constant are we there mommy questions that I knew would come.  So I set out to find as many tips as I could on some of my favorite blogs.   There are hundreds of great ideas out there but I am only going to share 4 with you and give you some links. 


*ABC match up
This was one of Conner's favorite games.  I printed off capital letters A to Z from here and then taped the paper to a cookie sheet.   He had to match his magnetic letters to the ones on the page.  He loved using the magnets and I think it would have been great to have cut/printed out some pictures of animals/people and different back grounds for him to have played with.

*Hidden puzzle book
I have told you before how much my big guy likes trains so anything involving them keeps him pretty happy.  I brought with him a look and find Thomas the train book.  Now he has had this book for a while and can find all the pictures it has you search for pretty easy but you can also play I spy with it and have them find new things. 

*Maze book/dry erase marker
Conner has just begun really liking mazes so for about 2 bucks I got him a dry erase book from Walmart, filled with different mazes and dot to dot activities.  He loved drawing and then erasing his lines.  And I suggest the markers with the little erasers on the tops so you don't have to worry with paper towels.

*Look and find bottles
You can make these with either water or sand.  Fill them with different little items around your house: shells, letters, noodles, tiny toys.  Then fill with dirt or water and seal the lid on with hot glue.  Your little one will have a blast looking at all the different things in the bottle.  You can play I spy with them too.
Here are some great links that I used and some that I didn't but had wonderful ideas. Check them out be inspired!
Road trip list from kids activities
Shape I Spy
ABC printable
Cherrios and Lattes

There are tons of other ideas out there.  Just make sure you plan in advance so you will have time to get the supplies or make them.  I also packed crayons, coloring books, regular books, puzzles, and some small toys and trains.  He made it fine and watching a Veggie Tales movie on my lap top the last hour worked out great too.  (That was the only time we watched something on the drive though)  My littlest man was a  little harder to please but I made sure to bring plenty of toys to switch out and plenty of pacis.  With any trip make sure you stop for breaks and let them stretch their little legs and pray for long naps during the drive.  ;)  We are on our way back now and have about 2 hours left.  Thankfully both are sleeping especially since little man has been super grumpy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Summer Fun


Waterfall we found while driving on the Blue Ridge Park Way.  It was just beautiful!

I know summer is over but I wanted to share a few of the things I did over the summer with my big man.  1st off if you have a local library you should really check into what kinds of activities they provide for the littlest reader.  We have just recently started attending and it is a great way for my kiddo to have some interaction with other kiddos and really begin to love books and the concept of reading for fun.

We do not pay for television so no cable, no satellite means no Disney or these other cartoon channels but it does leave us with some great educational shows on PBS.  I limit the amount of tv time Conner gets but I do try to let him see some of his faves.  And right now he loves Dinosaur Train and Sid the Science Kid.  Both of which are fantastic, by the way and focus on science.  Toddlers are naturally curious about the world around them and how it works so it is a great time to explore nature and why things work or do what they do.  Using these shows as a spring board we go on little nature walks and I ask him open ended questions.

One day while in his kiddie pool we found the neatest iridescent bug hiding in a cup.  We talked about how it looked, why it was there, how it got there, how it would get out, if we thought it could fly, etc.  We had the greatest little lesson and conversation all because we took the time to check out a bug that I would have normally shaken off so he could play.
This bug is several different colors.  We took turns making hypothesis as to whether the bug can fly, where it lived, if it had a family,etc.


We also took two trips to the children's museum this summer.  It is about 2 hours away from us but so worth it.  All the activities are aimed at children his age and all kid friendly.  I highly recommend finding the closest one to you and checking it out. 


And the zoo, who doesn't like animals.  We spent a day at the zoo, just checking out the animals and comparing then.



We visited our local aquarium twice over the course of the spring and summer.

Our last little hoora was at the end of the summer.  The first weekend of fall actually.  We stole away for our "summer vacation" free from the bustle of everyone else.  We took a trip to the mountains and an amusement park.  It was lovely just the sights but also teaching Conner to appreciate the little things around him and God's wonder in the creation of all these things.  Even at the amusement park talking about the train (which he is fascinated by he LOVES trains) and how much coal it used and how many people it takes to run a train and how that used to be one of the only forms of transportation.



 



So I guess the most important thing is just taking the time to talk with your little one and spend some quality time with them.  We did not do anything out of this world this summer or go any where fabulous but we still had a great time visiting local places around us and just being outside.

I still cannot believe summer has already come and gone so quickly.  What were some of your favorite summer time adventures?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Long Time No See


OK  it has been a little bit since my last post..well maybe more than a bit, maybe a while, like 3 months a while.  But I am finally back to blog land and I have some very exciting posts coming your way!  I am going to try to be a bit more organized with blogging and set myself up a schedule.  Since I have 2 small boys that keep me busy and other roles and responsibilities, plus I just started my own business (yay I will tell more about that later) I think 2 posts a week is about all I have time to squeeze in.  I think Tuesday and Friday will probably be my posting days but don't hold me to it, whenever I get the chance to sit down and post I will.

Now let me give you a heads up with what you will see in the next few posts. Not in any particular order:

-summer fun activities I did with my 3 yr old

-traveling tips (I know summer vacation is over but we just took our trip so I am betting some of you travel in the fall and especially around the holidays)

-bloggy love (some of my favorite blogs that I want to share with you)

-pinned and completed ( ideas that I pinned and then accomplished) -once a month

-fall favorites (it is finally cooling off so lets share some ideas)

-baby food making
-Bob the Builder cake

-kniffy knitter hats

-my new business!!!!

-kid friendly cooking and super fast cheap meals

-my 1st event!

Well I know I have been a terrible host about posting with some consistency but life happens and I am going to try to get the ball rolling again.  So I hope you forgive and forget and check back with me again.