Monday, March 26, 2012

Scrabble Tile Pendants

My sister found these Scrabble Tile Pendants that I thought were so cute! Since I had a ton of left over Scrabble pieces from the ornaments I made at Christmas and I already had everything except the bails, I thought I would give it a try.

The first one I made before we moved in January. I used this glass stuff I had in my scrapbooking stuff and it turned out really cute. Unfortunately, after the move, I cant find the tile, or the glass stuff I used. :o\

The original blog suggests making a template sort of thing that acts as a viewing window. I highly recommend doing the same because it not only allows you to see how the paper would look, it helps in positioning the tile and knowing where to cut. She also says you can carry it with you so when you're out and about and you see a paper you might want to use, you can pull out your template and see if it would work. I haven't taken it to that level yet, but it's a good idea.



Ok, so here's what I did:
  1. Find the paper/pattern/print I wanted to use.
  2. Used the view finder to line up how I want it to be on the tile.
  3. Place the tile inside the view finder and holding the tile in place, carefully pull the view finder away.
  4. Use an exacto knife to cut the paper to fit the the tile. 
  5. Use Mod Podge to glue the paper to the tile. (It doesn't really matter what side of the tile you glue it to. If you're making the pendant for someone, I think it is cute to use the tile with their first initial on it so I glue the paper on the blank side, leaving the letter to show on the back.)
  6. Once the first Mod Podge coat dried, I did 1-2 more coats. Allow to dry completely.
  7. Apply the glass glaze so it covers the paper. Be careful to avoid bubbles, if you can. I get the glaze started on scrap paper in order to squeeze out any bubbles. Allow 24 hours for the glaze to dry. 
  8. Once the glaze is dry, use sand paper or a metal file to clean up the edges. 
  9. Use super glue to attach the bail. (The bails, by the way, were tough to find. I ended up ordering them on Amazon.)

They turn out really cute! I used the Mod Podge Magic Dimensions on these. As I mentioned in my previous post, I pretty much hate this stuff. Not only is it really thin and runny, but as you can kind of see in the picture above, when it dried it left a little divot, for lack of a better word, in the center of the pendant. You can see it a little more in this picture:


The only one it didn't happen to was the bird one. I have heard there are better products out there. The girl that originally made these used Diamond Glaze. The girl that helped me at Michaels recommended using resin. I might play around with it some more and see if I can perfect it, but then again... I might not. I just might be over these cute little pendants.

If you give these a try, let me know your results. If you've successfully made them before, let me know what medium you used to make the glaze part.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes


Oh. Em. Gee. Were these delicious!!!!!!!!!

Of course I found this recipe on Pinterest which took me to Recipe Girl's blog.You may want to check out her blog before you do this because she provides great tutorial pics and tips.

I'll post the original recipe here and then add in my variations.

CINNAMON FILLING:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, just melted (not boiling)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

CREAM CHEESE GLAZE:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

PANCAKES:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Directions:

Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a quart-sized heavy zip baggie and set it aside (see *Tips below).

Prepare the glaze: In a small pan, heat the butter over low heat until melted. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until it is almost smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the pan, stir and add in vanilla extract. Set the pan aside while you make the pancakes.

Prepare the pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the milk, egg and oil, just until the batter is moistened (a few small lumps are fine).

Cook the pancakes: Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-heat and spray with nonstick spray. Use an ice cream scoop (or 1/3 cup measuring cup) to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or cup to spread the batter into a circle (about 4-inches in diameter). Reduce the heat to medium low. Snip the corner of your baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, add the filling. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl (just as you see in a regular cinnamon roll). Cook the pancake 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it's golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin, wide metal spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. Re-warm the glaze briefly, if needed. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze.

As you can see, I didn't make the Cream Cheese Glaze... mainly because I decided to make these on a whim and I didn't want to wait for the butter to get room temp. Both K and her sister said if you make it with the glaze, you could actually serve it as a dessert. I completely agree, but they were still divine without it.

I also just made Krusteaz pancakes according to the directions on the box. I did not make them from scratch like she suggests.

Mine didn't turn out nearly as pretty as hers did (below), but I am pretty sure they tasted just as good. I am also pretty sure that her first attempt at them didn't turn out this perfect, but I could be wrong. :o)



Friday, March 23, 2012

Magnets

It's not very often that K calls me and says, "Can you stop at Michaels on your way home from work?" So, of course I had to jump at the opportunity.

I guess I had left my Pinterest open on the computer so she started browsing and found this blog about making some fun and simple magnets, so I headed to Michaels and grabbed some supplies.

We never got around to making them that weekend and the following weekend was when I had my Big Plans weekend. I took it upon myself to give her craft a try. (I sound all big and bad, but in reality, I politely asked her if she would mind if I did it without her. LOL Of course she told me to go for it, but to be sure I left her a few to do.)

So here's what I came up with:


They were pretty basic. The bird one is scrapbook paper. (And just for my sister: Check out this clip.) The round daisy one I cut out of a magazine. The other two were photos I had.

All I did was:
  • Trace shape of wood piece on the paper/picture and cut it out. 
  • Used Mod Podge to "glue" it to the wood piece. Allow to dry.
  • Trim excess paper with an exacto knife.
  • Add another layer of Mod Podge to kind of seal the paper to the wood piece. 
  • (Optional) I then put a layer of the Mod Podge Dimensional Magic to give it a more glassy/shiny finish.*
  • If you do the above step, allow at least 24 hours to dry.
  • Sand/file edges to give it a cleaner look.
  • Apply magnet to back of wood piece.
  • Hang on Fridge. 
* I am pretty sure I despise working with Mod Podge Dimensional Magic. It is thin and runny so if you touch, tap, or move the wood piece before it has a chance to dry, the Dimensional Magic will start running all over the place and there's no recovering it.

These were super simple. Would make a great gift for just about anyone and the picture/graphic possibilities are endless!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Butter Garlic Sauce



I kind of have a challenge going with myself right now. I want to see how long I can go without going to the grocery store so I am on the look-out for recipes with ingredients I have around the house.

K can't really have red sauces/things with a tomato base so I am always looking for pasta dishes that are of the white sauce origin, besides... what doesn't sound divine about butter and garlic?!

Ironically, the recipe I chose, although called "Butter Garlic Sauce" didn't have any butter anywhere in the recipe. Fear not! I added my own! (But only because someone that commented on the original recipe said they did the same thing - otherwise I would have followed the recipe to a T - sans the butter. LOL)

I found the recipe on All Recipes, but here it is for your convenience:


Ingredients

  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp butter (Optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot with boiling salted water cook pasta until al dente. Drain.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat saute the garlic in olive oil.
  3. Toss pasta with olive oil and garlic mixture. Add the parsley, salt, and ground black pepper to taste. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. 
I did things a little different. I accidentally put in 1/3 cup of olive oil and I added the parsley and a couple teaspoons of Parmesan to the sauce as I was cooking it. I also cooked a couple pieces of chicken, diced it, and mixed it in with the pasta. I steamed some broccoli (and by steamed I mean took some frozen Trader Joe's broccoli and threw it in the microwave according to the directions on the package. LOL), put the broccoli on top, sprinkled a little more Parmesan on top and we had a pretty good meal! I mean, it was no gourmet dish, but it was good enough for something fast and easy on a work/week/school night. Plenty of leftovers for tonight's dinner too! :o) 


 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Love You.... THIS Much!


I have the honor of being Auntie to my one of best friend's kids and I just adore each and every one of them. B1 is the oldest (obviously) and I love her to pieces. She is sweet and thoughtful in her own right, but let's face it - she's a teenager so those sweet and thoughtful moments aren't as frequent as they once were. :o)

J has a heart of gold. I joke and say it's a reflection of me since I had the most influence in his life. I started baby sitting him at 8 weeks (even dropped him on his head at about 9 weeks. LOL) and stopped watching him when he was about 4. He is sweet, sensitive, and silly!

B2 just turned 7 yesterday. He is goofy and funny and sweet. He is the spitting image of his father (personality and all) and has been a momma's boy since day one. I got to babysit him for a little less than a year of his life. His mom was able to stay home longer with him so I didn't get him as young and I got picked to be a juror on a trial that was expected to go for more than a month so they were kind of forced into finding alternate day care for him. :o(

Anyway, I absolutely adore these boys and I am pretty confident the feeling is mutual. I moved away from them a couple of years ago and it has not easy being so far from them. OK, I am not that far. We're still in the same state, it's just an eight hour drive to get to them now so I don't get to see them and love them as much as I used to. Since I moved, they have been diligent in sending me little reminders that they love me and think of me.

I am not the best at sending them things back in a timely manner, but I still try and make it a point to reward their efforts and send them things from time to time. The things I send them aren't always homemade, but I am pretty sure they are just as stoked to get something (anything) in the mail. What kid doesn't love getting fun stuff in the mail? Heck, I am a fully grown adult and am ecstatic when something other than a bill comes!

Well, it's been my turn to mail them something back for a while. (In fact, they have mailed me birthday cards and those cute fishies since the last time I mailed anything. *Slacker*) I have had a little care package laying around my house waiting for me to mail since my mom was here in February. (I have had the contents of the package since we moved in January.) I was putting it off because I wanted to make them a card to go in it to put a little special touch on it. I saw this card on Pinterest and thought it was something the boys would like and it would be simple enough to make. Obviously, I didn't follow it to the T, but here's my version.





















I love those kids as if they were my own. I hope that they always know that - even though I am Auntie Procrastinator and don't always get things to them in a timely manner!

Monday, March 19, 2012

My "Me" Weekend

Here's what happened.

I kept teasing K that she needed to get me the book, Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult as a pity present because she was leaving for the weekend. I have wanted this book for a couple weeks but couldn't (or wouldn't) justify spending the money on it, but if K got it for me as a gift, per se, the guilt was gone. :o)

Side note: Sure, I could have just gone to the Library or gotten it cheaper at a used book store or Amazon, but a portion of the proceeds benefit the The Trevor Project which is an organization that helps LGBT youth in crisis, so it was important to me to purchase this book new. It was a win-win that way.

Anyway, I kind of had a feeling that K wasn't going to have time to get it for me before she left so I was resolved to not having it to read. I had an electronic version if I was really desperate. I figured it would just force me to get more done.

I was taking K to the airport and she asked me to find something in the car. Naturally, I opened the glove box and THERE WAS MY BOOK!!! But in the background, all I can hear is K yelling, "No! No! No!" So I slammed the glove box shut as fast as I can.

Apparently, that wasn't what K had in mind when she was planning to surprise me with it. I tried to make it better. "Pretend it didn't happen." "Lets rewind the last two minutes and start over." It wasn't working. She was already disappointed that I had ruined her surprise.

Anyway, this surprise book is the exact reason I got maybe two things done this weekend from my To Do list. Well, the book and the rain.

Saturday, I got up and immediately started reading. It was cold and stormy outside. It was perfect (besides that it was missing K.) The cats we cuddled in, flannel sheets were on the bed. It was pure bliss.

K called and said they were going to see The Lorax at 1:15. I told her that if they saw a movie to call me and let me know and I would go see the same movie around the same time. I love going to the movies by myself and this was a fun opportunity to do it, but still have someone to talk about the movie with after (not to mention seeing a movie was on my list). But it was rainy and stormy and wet outside. :o( And I was warm and cozy and engrossed in a good book.:o) So I declined and stayed cuddled in bed.

At about two o'clock my eyelids got heavy and I took a little nap. I love napping, but napping does not love me. I don't know if it is the nap, or the weird dreams I inevitably have when I nap, but nine times out of ten I wake up so grouchy I can't stand myself. The fact that I was grouchy was making me even grouchier so I got up and made a small pot of coffee in the hopes that it would scare my grump away and motivate me to tackle more of my To Do list.

Well, it did take my grumps away, but I still couldn't pull myself out of my book! I just changed locations from the bed to the couch and continued to read.

I didn't even have to chef this weekend. My Sister-in-Law offered to make that yummy Pizza Spaghetti for dinner. A chance to not have to cook and grub on a dinner I know I love?! COUNT ME IN! But that meant Cheffing and Baking (also on my list) was counted out.

So I continued to read, watched a little bad TV and started feeling guilty. Don't get me wrong, I was thoroughly enjoying my me time and was doing what was pretty much number one on my list of what I wanted to do, but my list was SO long. I didn't want to feel cheated when it was all over.

So at about 10 o'clock on Saturday night, I finally put the book down and got out the crafting stuff! Here's a sneak peak... More blogs to come detailing what I crafted. :o)


In my crafting, I did do one other thing that was on my To Do list. I made something that helped me prep a care package I plan on sending out this week.

So the weekend wasn't a total fluke. I only got three of the things on my To Do list done (four if you can count scooping the cat box as "cleaning"), but I enjoyed every second of hanging out with me. :o) That's what really mattered, but I was glad on Sunday at noon when I picked up K from the airport. We ran a couple errands and then headed back home to get under the cuddly covers I so thoroughly enjoyed most of Saturday!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Big Plans

I don't get very much "me" time, aka - alone time. Typically I only get it during my commute to and from work and I don't drive myself to work every day.

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I adore my wife and when we're together, I can't think of one time that I thought, "I'm tired of her. I wish I could just be alone." LOL But I think everyone likes (and needs) a little "me time".

This weekend, K is going to visit some family. I am jealous of her trip and desperately wish I could just go with her, but I can't. So, I am staying home with the cats and the Sis-in-law.

Since I cant go with her, I am making the best of it and boy do I have BIG plans.

Here is what it looks like (listed in no particular order):
  • Clean house
  • Read Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (I am convincing K that I need a pity present since I will be all alone and this book would be the present. :o)
  • Read under a tree, in the park on a blanket (Cancelled due to forecasted rain)
  • Read at the beach (Cancelled due to forecasted rain)
  • Craft - magnets, scrabble pendants, cards for friends, cards for Relay for Life, crochet, make a Relay for Life piggy bank to take in to work with me, make bow for Ms. Rink's pig, 
  • Go for Walks  (Cancelled due to forecasted rain)
  • Work out on the treadmill
  • Try out our Yoga video
  • Take in the recycling
  • Plan for K's bday
  • Grocery shop
  • Bake
  • Chef
  • Go thrifting/yard sale-ing
  •  Walk to Go to Starbucks, grab a coffee, and hit up the manager about doing something Relay related at the store
  • Solicit the apartment complexes and ask if we can advertise the Relay in their apartment complex
  • Create my Recipe Binder
  • Get care packages ready to mail
  • Go have a green beer on St. Patty's Day
  • Go see a movie
  • Get some pictures printed
  • Hang some pictures
  • Car - get oil changed, change headlight, fix leaky tire.
  • Organize crafting stuff
  •  Pimp my blog
Like I said, I have BIG plans for myself during this "me" time.

Did I mention she leaves Friday evening and comes home Sunday, early afternoon? So really, I only have one full day to myself. That's a lot to accomplish in one day.

The list grows with something new two or three times a day. I am sure I will come up with more stuff to do after I post this! Ten bucks says I sleep in till noon on Saturday and barely get one thing on my list done!

I will follow-up with you Monday. In the meantime, have a grrrrreat weekend!

XO

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ABC's of Me

Not the most flattering of pictures, but this is me - on most days. :o)
 I am wanting to blog today but haven't done any crafting or cheffing and therefore, have nothing to really blog about. In trying to figure out Bloglovin, I found this chick's blog that had the ABC's of her, so I thought I would give it a try.
Age: 34
Bedsize: Queen…desperately need a King!
Chores that you hate: Cleaning the tub
Dogs: One day, I believe I will have one (or two). :o)

Essential start to your day:
SODA!
Favorite color: Depends on my mood, really. My most commonly chosen are greens and purples.
Gold or Silver: Silver
Height: 5'4" - short and stumpy.

Instruments you play:
I hum? Does that count? I attempted to play the Clarinet in the fourth grade, but lost interest quickly. I really wanted to play the Saxophone, but since my older sister had already played the Clarinet and my parents didn't want to have to buy/rent another instrument, they insisted I play the Clarinet with the promise that if I stuck with it, they would eventually upgrade me to Sax.. The only thing I liked about the music class was my teacher's name was Mr. Dent (oh the jokes!) and one my bestest, most quirky friends at the time, Jeff Ansley (who played the Sax), was in the class with me.
Job title: Executive Assistant
Kids: Please see answer for "Dogs".
Live: Orange County, CA

Mother’s Name: Inez Jean

Nicknames: Nell, Nelly, Critter, Kid, Honey, Danielly-y, Nanielle, Auntie

Overnight hospital stays:
One.
Pet peeves: CRUNCHING!!! Even worse? Preventable crunching. Close your mouth when you chew! Please. Thank you.

Quote from a movie or tv show: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

Right or Lefty: Righty, but always wished I was a lefty.

Siblings: Three sisters and a brother
Time you wake up: 6:00 AM during the week and whenever I arise on the weekends.
Underwear: Most of the time. Definitely not at bed time.
Vegetable you hate: Spinach

What makes you run late:
Forgetting things

X-Rays You’ve Had:
Shoulder, knee, neck, back, and teeth.

Yummy food you make:
I don't think I really have a specialty. I just like trying new things. I guess my brownies, I am most known for. It's my most requested dish.
Zoo Animal: Monkies! Any kind. But Zoos are sad. :o(

Now you know my ABC's... next time wont you sing with me? 
Your turn! What are the ABC's of you?!

Bloglovin = blogconfusion

A friend of mine linked her blog to Bloglovin. Before she did that, I checked out the site and created an account and then never did anything with it.

So here is my attempt to be cool like Jenna Rink and put myself out there. They should really make a Blogging for Dummies book, if they haven't already. :o\ Either that, or this ish just isn't as easy to pick up in my old(er) age.


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, March 12, 2012

Crack Potatoes






I kept seeing a pin for Crack Potaotes all over Pinterest. My sister-in-law (SIL) was the first to tell me about them and with the way I love potatoes, I figured it was best to just steer clear of them. Which I did... until last night!

K, the SIL and I have taken up to bbq'g in the weekends. I am loving it, but last night, I said to my SIL, "I want to try an new recipe to go with dinner tonight." Her face lit up and she said, "Crack Potatoes?"

How could I resist that? So I headed to Pinterest to get the recipe. The recipe comes from the Plain Chicken blog. And let me tell you, there's nothing healthy about this recipe, but boy, was it mmm-mmm good!

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 (16oz) containers sour cream
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 (3oz) bags real bacon bits
  • 2 packages Ranch Dip mix
  • 1 large (28 - 30oz) bag frozen hash brown potatoes - shredded kind

Combine first 4 ingredients, mix in hash browns.  Spread into a 9x13 pan.  Bake at 400 for 45-60 minutes.  
 

 

Incredibly simple, spectacularly delicious.  
 
Only one complaint... It was a bit salty. Not sure if it was from the bacon or the Ranch Dip mix. When I make it again, I may forgo the bacon all together or make it fresh and see if it helps with the salt factor. Other than that, the Crack Potatoes were sinfully delicious. And don't worry if you have a smallish family and think there's not enough of you to make such a large serving -- according to the originating blog, it freezes well!


Friday, March 9, 2012

Not So Extreme Couponing

I don't know about you, but for me... The economy sucks and so does my bank account. In attempt to save a penny where I can, I started clipping coupons. I question if the time and energy spent on it is really worth the savings, but even if it's not... I do feel a small sense of accomplishment when I check out at the grocery store and hand them a stack (and by stack, I mean 3-4 coupons max) of coupons -- even if it is just a couple bucks in savings.

I used to coupon all the time. My sister would even send me coupons in the mail to help out, but for some reason I got away from it. I guess I started making enough money, I didn't think it was necessary anymore. Anyway, when I couponed before, it was organized. I had a little wallet sized accordion file thing that was labeled with different categories so it made it easy to look for the coupons.

Since being back on the couponing wagon, my coupons have been a frustrating mess! Every time I wanted one, I literally had to stop in the middle of the aisle, grab my stack of coupons, and begin shuffling through them - dropping several in the process. It was painful. One or two times to the store with K experiencing my coupon mess and she insisted something be done.

The whole point in couponing is saving money, right? So I was having a hard time justifying buying a coupon organizer. I did buy one lame thing that didn't work at all for like $1 somewhere, but I wouldn't allow myself to spend more than that.

So I got resourceful. I googled DIY Coupon Organizers.

The coolest coupon organizer I found was this one to the right.

But - forgive me if any of my (four) readers out there has one - it's a little dorky. I'm not sure I would have the guts to walk around the store with it attached to my cart.

I definitely needed something small enough to fit in my purse because I can't tell you the number of times I have gone into a store and bought something I knew I had a coupon for, but it was sitting at home or in the car I didn't drive that day.

I needed something simple, easy, cheap, yet durable. That's when I found this one:

 Perfecto! I knew I had all of the supplies at home. Even if they were white envelopes, I didn't need it to be fancy. As soon as I got home, I checked our supply of envelopes and ended up finding some old purple ones that would work great!

 Please check out the Paper Source website for more detailed instructions, if you need them.

Here's what I did:

  1. Glued the envelopes together with a glue stick - put the glue on the flap part of the envelope and attach it to the "front and bottom" of the envelope (by front, I mean the side that you put the mailing address on.)

    Side note: the original instructions said you need an odd number of envelopes between 5-9. I used 9 envelopes on mine.
  2. Once all the envelopes are attached, I let the glue dry and then grabbed the exacto knife. Make a small slit (the width of the ribbon you chose) in the bottom of the last envelope and also through the top part of that same envelope.
  3. String your ribbon through, fold it like an accordion, and tie the ribbon.
Vuala! You have your un-labeled coupon organizer! :o)

You could step it up and really embellish it if you wanted to. I just got some labels I had, printed out the labels I thought would work best, and slapped 'em on.




I should have staged this one different so you could see how the ribbon is strung. Go to the Paper Source I linked above for a better picture of that step.

For the most part, I like it. K says I didn't make the ribbon long enough. (OH! I also put a little anti-fray stuff on the ends of the ribbon so it didn't become an unraveled mess.) My only complaint is that to have to tie a bow every time you want to re-close it is kind of a PITA (Pain In The Arse). Especially when you have a shopping basket in one hand and your cell phone, wallet, and coupon organizer in the other hand. It's another stop-in-the-middle-of-the-aisle scene. Granted, less of a mess, but still a nuisance.

This could be used for other organizational things too. Like if you're one of those people that breaks out your budget in categories and allows a certain amount of cash for each thing. You could separate and keep your cash in the different envelopes.

Possibly a daily to-do organizer. Keep a piece of note paper in each one and make to-do lists for each day of the week. Might make your to-do list feel less overwhelming.

Anyway, that was my most recent project. Nothing spectacular, just a little organization. It was free (kind of - I mean I had to have bought all the stuff at some point, right?), took me less than an hour to make, and my grocery shopping and couponing experience is much more pleasant. Well worth it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spaghetti with a Twist

Of course I saw the picture above on Pinterest. Most people that know me, know I love pizza (particularly Round Table Pizza), so I thought this would be a fun, experimental twist to spaghetti... and it WAS! 

 

I got the recipe for "Pizza Spaghetti Casserole" from this site. It's really just spaghetti with pepperoni, but it sounds much fancier. LOL I did my own variation from the original recipe, but it was definitely delish. I highly recommend checking out the original recipe too because it's a little more than just spaghetti with pepperoni! 


Here is my version: 


Ingredients

  • 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepperoni slices cut in half, amount used at your discretion
  • 1 (26-oz.) jar tomato-and-basil pasta sauce (I just used Ragu's Traditional -- It was on sale.)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 8-oz. of shredded Mexican cheese blend 

Preparation

  1. Cook spaghetti with 1/2 tsp. salt according to package directions. Drain well, and place in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Add spaghetti noodles to the backing dish; pour pasta sauce over the noodles. Arrange half of the pepperoni slices evenly over pasta sauce. Sprinkle evenly with cheeses. Arrange remaining half of pepperoni slices evenly over cheese. Cover with nonstick or lightly greased aluminum foil.
  3. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes; remove foil, and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and just begins to brown.
 
The original recipe called for Italian Three Cheese blend, which I couldn't find at my store. Come to find out, I was looking in the wrong section all together. :o| That's why I just did the Mexican blend, but next time I make this I will be sure to try the Italian blend. 

The variations are endless... you could throw in mushrooms, olives, bell peppers... and anything else you might like on a pizza! The only ingredient I would be skeptical about (and I am not really sure why) is pineapple. This dish is fun, easy, and tasty!! 

My Pics:


 


Monday, March 5, 2012

My First Cake from Scratch

I have mentioned before, that just a few years ago, if it didn't come from a box... I wasn't cooking it! It was the same for baked goods. I would play the "No one ever taught me how to cook" card all the time. Well, I am still waiting for someone to teach me and since no one seems to be jumping at the opportunity, I have ventured out and attempted to teach myself. :o)

There have been some successes and some failures... this venture was definitely a success!!

I love, love, LOVE all things banana - as long as it's not in it's original banana form. I mean, I don't dislike bananas, but they're not my favorite and I like them much better baked in something. :o) Browsing Pinterest the other day, I came across this pin that leads to this Bake or Break blog with the recipe.

Here is what a professional photo of it looks like:


Here's the recipe:

Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 375°. Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugar. Beat in eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mash bananas with milk. Set aside.

Gradually mix half of dry ingredients into butter mixture. Mix in bananas. Mix in remaining dry ingredients.

Pour cake batter into prepared baking pan.

Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack.

Frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted nuts (optional - I opted out)
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and vanilla. Reduce speed and gradually add confectioners’ sugar.

Spread frosting on cake. Sprinkle with nuts (optional).

And.... here's what my lame photos of it look like:



 

It was delicious. It has more of a banana bread texture than a light and airy cake texture, so a little goes a long way. Only negative - we were all left wanting more frosting. I think next time, I will double the frosting, cut the cake in half horizontally, slather some frosting, but the top half of the cake back on and slather some more frosting. MMMMM! I cant wait to make this again!

 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Politics Schmolitics


Politics... Yes, I work for the Government and yes, I despise politics. People start talking politics in the office I prefer to exit stage left, but when that's not possible, I tend to just sit quietly and observe. I do the same thing in my every day life.

I have had several people get frustrated at me because I have a somewhat "ignorance is bliss" attitude about politics. I'd rather just live my life. The truth about it is, not matter what I think, or how I feel, The States will be run the way they will be run and there's not much I can do about it besides show up every election day and put my vote down for how I would like things to go.

People say, "if you don't vote, then you don't have the right to complain." ....... I vote. Never mind that the first time I voted was 2004 (I turned 18 in 1996), I was 24 years old, and Bush was up for his second term. I just knew I needed to do my part to try and get Bush out of office. So according to "people", after that, I had a right to complain.

Did I complain? Not much. The worst I did was get excited for the 2008 elections and get excited for the possibilities the next term held.

I LOVE living in a country that allows and promotes freedom of speech. I could not imagine living in a country of oppression. However, I am so tired of our politics and people's opinions of them.

The other day, someone posted a similar photo on Facebook:


The actual picture on Facebook showed the price for gas at the time of the picture (something like $3.89/gallon - never mind that I just paid $4.33/gallon two days ago.)

I am not sure about you, but the last time I remember gas being under $2.00 was sometime in the early stages of Bush's administration, if not before that. I could totally be wrong. I made a feeble attempt to research this on the internet, but in the minute I spent caring, I couldn't find a credible source saying what the actual gas prices were on January 20th, 2009. I admit, I have a terrible memory so I am not saying I am accurate, but I have a hard time believing that gas was as cheap as $1.78 in 2009.

I am SO tired of the well being our Nation being this debacle of a pissing match between the Republicans and the Democrats. I don't give a shit what party is in office, I just want a President (and congress) that truly wants what is best for ALL citizens of the US. We all know right from wrong. It shouldn't matter what age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or social status you are, we should all be treated and taken care of equally.

True, there are those that find the loopholes and take advantage of "the system". I believe that there should be regulations to try and prevent this. However, there are people, our fellow man and woman - our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers - that legitimately need "the system" and we should do what we can to help those people. Provide assistance, training, rehabilitation, to attempt to help those that are less fortunate.

I am getting off subject, here. Lemme reel it back in. The point I wanted to make about Politics and my disdain for it is this: Like I said, we live in a country that we are free to speak our minds and share our opinions, but I believe that these opinions should be shared with caution and, quite possibly, in more private arenas than places like Facebook.

People often post and share "facts" they don't verify before blasting... "Facts" that ultimately end up being more opinion than anything else. Politics are so diluted that it seems, to me, that it's all a bunch of conspiracy theories and it's more like religion than we want to admit.

With Religion, people find what beliefs work for them; what resonates most and what they can relate to. Politics are the same way. You can find 10 different theories on any one subject and choose which ones you want to believe in. I am a firm believer that politics is similar to how I feel about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's relationship. Unless you were physically there in the bedroom with them, no one really knows when their relationship began and whether or not Brad and Angelina began before or after Brad ended things with Jen. Unless you are physically in office with the President, you don't really know what goes on.

Being President must be an incredibly difficult job. A job I certainly wouldn't want to do myself. I do not envy ANY President that has such difficult decisions to make, and egos as big as the entire United States to work with. I think if the President was able to keep the whereabouts of Osama Bin Ladin completely confidential until it was confirmed he was killed, there is a lot more we probably don't know goes on.

My wish, and my reason for blogging this, is for the US Democracy to forget about parties... forget about who is right, and who is wrong... and just focus on what is right for all human kind regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or social status. We are all someone's mother, father, sister or brother and, I don't know about you, but if any one of my family or friends were in need, I would do what I could... and do what is right, to ensure that they are properly cared for.

In addition, I wish people would save their political views for more of a private arena. I get that we are all different, and we all have that right, but I have learned through Facebook (and other public forums) that people I absolutely love and adore, believe in things that are hurtful and offensive to me. That doesn't make them a bad person... It doesn't mean they are wrong or right for what they believe. I would never disown, dislike, or stop loving someone for what they believe, but I could definitely go without knowing that part of them. I think political opinions should be one of those things that, unless you're directly asked, it is best kept to yourself.


Ok, ok... I will get off my soap box. I apologize if I have offended anyone. I do not claim to be politically informed, nor do I even feel educated enough to actually debate politics. It is my choice to live in somewhat of a state of ignorance, but I feel like I am a small, miniscule dot on the grand scheme of things so, getting worked up about things that are WAY beyond my control seem like a waste of my energy.

The few times I have gotten involved, I get so invested that I an literally hurt because of other people's actions, so its easier for me to keep my distance. Is it the right thing to do? I don't really know. But until people get past their egos, a.k.a. - political parties, stop focusing on who's right and start focusing on what's right for all human kind, I prefer to be indifferent. And I prefer to not have to be subjected to everyone's often inaccurate political views and opinions.

:o) Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chicken & Dumplin Casserole

I love... I mean, LOVE, comfort food. One of my favorites is Chicken & Dumplins. A friend of ours makes some of the best. She's given me the recipe, but it intimidates me. Boil a whole chicken? I've never even boiled a chicken breast. LOL

So when I found a pin for a Chicken & Dumplin Casserole, I was pretty stoked to try it out.


I got the full recipe from the Plain Chicken blog, which I copy and pasted below:

  • 3-4 cups of cooked chicken (I use a rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 can Campbell's cream of chicken soup
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (optional)

Preheat oven to 400.

Melt butter in the microwave and pour into bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Shred the chicken and spread it on top of the butter.

Whisk together the milk and the flour, baking powder and salt.  Slowly pour over the chicken.  Don't stir.

Whisk together chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Pour in veggies and gently stir in broth and soup mix. Pour soup over the flour and milk mixture.  Don't stir.

Bake uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes, or until dumplings are golden brown.


The original recipe didn't call for mixed veggies, but K loves a veggie and always says Chicken n Dumplins would be better with veggies in it, so I tried it. It turned out OK, I think next time instead of  mixing the veggies in with the chicken broth and cream of chicken soup, I will probably put it in the bottom layer with the chicken. 

Overall, it was a pretty tasty dish. Next time, I might take the extra step to do fresh veggies instead of frozen. Key word there? Might.

Bon App├ętit

Thursday, March 1, 2012

No Soliciting




I may have mentioned before that I am on the committee for the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Relay for Life. Being on the committee is a lot of work, but can really be a lot of fun. With the fun, comes the maybeeeeeee......... not so fun stuff. Like soliciting. :o\

I don't know about you, but it seems like you cant even go in or out of a store without being hit up for something these days. A donation to the vets, the homeless, those recovering from addiction, green peace, or how about you just sign my petition. OH! And those relentless girls scouts right now seem to be EVERYWHERE. I mean, I love Girl Scout cookies as much as the next person, but these kids are driving me crazy. 

Anyway, back on subject... We got permission to sit outside a local grocery store and hit people up for donations and to pass out flyers to get the word out about the Relay. It was up to K and I to make this thing a success. Uh oh.

At first we approach folks for donations, "Hi, would you like to donate a dollar to the American Cancer Society?" People wouldn't even look in our direction, let alone acknowledge our presence. It was a tough pill to swallow. No one takes rejection well, but I couldn't believe how cold these people were when we were just out trying to do some good in the world.

One woman stopped at the table we set up and shared that she was a breast cancer survivor. We didn't even offer her info on the Relay, we just offered some ACS pamphlets about cancer and what ACS has to offer. This woman literally turned away as we tried to offer her the pamplets and said, "I'm way beyond that point," as she abruptly walked off. Wow! We usually get the best responses from cancer survivors, but I guess she was the exception to the norm.

It was obvious the money approach wasn't working so I suggested we switch gears. Let's just give out the flyers and focus on just spreading the word and try to get more people interested or involved. This went a little better, but people were still surprisingly rude and discounting.

I approached this one woman who, without even looking in my direction, literally put her finger up and said, "uuuhh, no." My own mother doesn't even put her finger up at me. It was insane.

After telling our ACS Staff Partner what a hard time we were having, she suggested we change our approach yet again. She told us to put the flyers inside of the reusable grocery bags we had and give away the bags. You would think on the way into the grocery store, people would be all over a free usable bag, right? Wrong. We could barely give those things away!! It blew my mind.

The store manager came out at one point and asked how it was going and we told him it wasn't going well. He said we'd have better luck on Sunday. And we did. K and I didn't go out Sunday, but they raised $75 on Sunday to our $21 on Saturday.

This taught me a valuable lesson about human kindness. As much as I despise being solicited every time I enter a store, I usually tried to at least acknowledge the people but I rarely made eye contact and hardly broke my stride as I told them, "Sorry, I don't have any cash on me." There were days when I was caught up in my own ish and might not have given them the time of day. But after spending hours being on the other end of soliciting, I made a promise to myself that I would always be kind to those people. They're just trying to do their part to make the world a better place.

So, I challenge you to do the same. It doesn't mean you have to give to every person that asks you for money or a signature. Just take a minute to look them in the eye, give them a kind smile, and tell them no, thank you. Maybe even acknowledge what they're doing by thanking them for trying to make a difference.

Whatever you do, don't just walk by, ignoring their presence. They are people too.... Someone's friend and family member. And even though they don't know you from Adam, it still hurts a little when someone discounts your mere presence by blatantly ignoring them. We are all worthy of a little acknowledgement.