Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Make It From Scratch Carnival

A big thank you to Stephanie, over at Make it From Scratch for hosting this week's carnival, and including my post Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Check out all the good entries!

Look for a Baked Ziti recipe coming soon! I've had a bit of a busy week, again, and we're headed to the Zoo tomorrow, so I will try to post tomorrow night or Thursday.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hot Dog Roll-Ups

12 Years ago I had my first ever Hot Dog Roll-Up. I had never had them before, but my summer working at Keats Camp enlightened me to the wonderful taste that is a Hot Dog Roll-Up.

OK really, I don't love them anymore, they are OK to eat, but the kids love them. I almost never make them though, but since I was so busy making jam today, I needed something easy to make for dinner. Anyone can make these, and I bet most of you have for your kids one time or another.


Hot Dog Roll-Ups

Ingredients:

2 pack crescent rolls
8 pack of hot dogs
4 slices of "sandwich cheese" aka processed cheese wrapped in plastic

Pre-heat your oven to 375F

Unroll your crescent rolls and place a half slice of cheese on each one.
Place the hot dog at the wide end of the crescent roll, and wrap it around the hot dog.

Bake for 9-11 minutes. (mine took 7.5 minutes)

I served them to the kids with a dollop (LOVE that word) of ketchup. A quick, and easy dinner. Not one I will make all the time, but something you can make when you're in a pinch.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Simple, But Yummy, Strawberry Sauce

The kids and I went berry picking today. We came home with about 25lbs of strawberries, half of which I promptly spent the afternoon making Strawberry Preserves with. I had picked up an Angel Food cake at Safeway today, so I decided to serve it up with some whipped cream and a strawberry sauce.

The kids proclaimed it to be the best dessert ever! It was divine, if I might say so myself.

I did not measure anything at all, I just dumped and poured.




Strawberry Sauce:

Clean, hulled strawberries.
1/2 cup to 1 cup white sugar

Crush the berries with a fork in a pan.

On Med heat, add the sugar and mix till evenly distributed, and you get a nice liquid sauce. Bring to a boil, and simmer for a minute or two till it thickens up.

Let sit for a few minutes to cool down, then pour over the dessert of your choice. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, or ice cream.

This would make a great topping for ice cream, short cake, pancakes or waffles even. It's very versatile, and very very tasty. I loved it because there was a bit of a tart undertone, as well as a nice sweet sauce.


*please ignore the white clumps falling down the sauce. Some of the whipped cream moved around. You can see that it was melting a bit from the heat of the sauce*


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Our oldest daughter has been bugging us about learning to cook, so we made cupcakes this afternoon. I used up a Golden Butter Cake mix I had in the house, but wanted to make my own frosting because I don't like "canned" frosting. Thanks to Allrecipes.com for this recipe!







Ingredients

1/4 cup softened butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

Mix together all ingredients. You may need to add more milk, slowly, until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Spread the frosting on the cookies or cupcakes of your choice!

Frosts 24 cupcakes

*I used 5 tbsp of cocoa powder because 3 just didn't give enough of a chocolate taste. I also had to add about 1tbsp of milk throughout the mixing to give it the right consistency.

What I really liked about this recipe is that the frosting is *just right*. It had a perfect light, fluffy texture, with just a hint of chocolate flavor. It was very easy to spread as well. And the bonus for me was that it didn't have that canned chemical taste that regular canned frosting does. The frosting does harden up slightly, so make sure you add any decorations before you set it aside. I did want to pipe the frosting on, but I forgot to double the recipe beforehand. If you piped with this amount of frosting, you wouldn't be able to frost as many cupcakes.

This is definitely on my "make again" list. I won't be buying canned frosting again.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm Going To Be An Aunt!

My hubby's sister is pregnant and due next January, or February we think. She isn't quite sure of her due date yet, but she will find out soon at her next appointment.

We're all very excited! This will be the 6th grandchild for my In-laws, and the first grandchild they'll be able to hold from birth. They haven't met my one niece who lives in Minnesota, and my father in law has only met my kids once. We're planning a trip out there next summer, July probably, and then we'll be able to meet the newest member of our family. My sister-in-law and I have gotten quite close, and text and talk all the time, so it's like my own sister is expecting. It is quite funny because as this is her first pregnancy, she is full of questions and keeps asking me stuff about being pregnant.

We're all hoping she has a boy too. My brother in law is the only boy in his family, and our son is the only boy in our family. Actually, my son is the only grandson on each side! So we need some boys!!!

I was at the mall yesterday picking up a shirt for myself, and also stopped by Gymboree to check out their Red Balloon Sale. I picked up this for Katie (my sis in law):



The romper was a whopping $2.39 and the pants were only $.79!!!!! I'm going to try find the coordinating jacket and hat for her as well.

I love those pieces. Aren't they cute? They're a soft velour material.

I also picked up these items for my own kids:




For the older girls, they got the shirts and skirts, my son got the Halloween shirt, and the baby got the jeans and cami. Our oldest got the Halloween tights, and all the girls are sharing the hair accessories. The Christmas ones will be going in stockings, as will the tulle skirts. The older girls will love them (and I got one for them in each of their sizes!)

My grand total was only $52.62 plus tax. I got 22 items for $2.59 each with tax!!! But if you want to get technical like me, without tax, each item cost $2.39. Way better than Wal Mart or Target prices!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2nd Grade Projects

My 8 year old twins just had their final project of the year due on Monday. The assignment was to create a model of an insect of their choice. My son picked the Bulldog Ant, and my daughter picked the Monarch Caterpillar. Parents were allowed to help, but didn't have to. I did decide to help a little.

Check out our handiwork:




For the Ant, I cut out pieces of styrofoam and stuck them together with toothpicks. My son cut the legs, antennae and eyes out. He also did the painting himself. I did put the legs in the Ant. He also did the "rock", made out of brown and black play-doh.



For the caterpillar, I did the construction because it used all hot glue. My daughter did cut the legs, antennae and eyes out, but I glued it for her. She found the sticks, made the chrysalis, and pasted the leafs onto the inside of the box.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday



I haven't participated in WFMW in months I think. I don't know why, maybe I just couldn't find the inspiration? Anyway, I'm back!

One of my favorite kitchen items is the Pampered Chef Cut-N-Seal. It has got to be one of the best kitchen inventions. I can get my daughter to eat sandwhiches like crazy when I use this thing.



It is so easy to use too! All you have to do is is make an indentation in the middle of the bread with your fingers, and fill with whatever filling you want. I usually use peanut butter though. Then place the top piece of bread on top, and center the Cut-N-Seal on top. Press down the base, all the way through the bread, and then press the plunger down.

When you take the Cut-N-Seal off, you should have a perfectly crimped edge sealed sandwich. The kids love them, and I love them because it gets them to eat. The kids love them because it is different from the ordinary squares or triangles, it's a novelty to them. So I don't use it all the time, in case they get tired of it, but I do use it quite often.

I've also used these "circle sandwiches" to take on outings with us. I just made them the night before and froze them, and then pulled them out the next morning. They thaw easily, and they're a healthier alternative to Smucker's Uncrustables.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Non-Commercial Christmas

Yes, yes, I know it's june! But being that Christmas is only 6 months away, it is time to start planning! Yep, I do start planning sometime during the summer. Usually around mid July after the Hallmark Ornament premiere. So this year it is early, but that's ok.

Last year we spent a lot of money on the kids and each other. The two highlights of Christmas 2008 were the Wii and accessories we bought as a family gift, and my iPod Touch (that my husband saved up for out of his own truck money without telling me. awwww! <3).

Since he and I are all about being more frugal this year due to The Big Project, we've decided to do a non-commercial Christmas as best as we can. Our goal is to buy nothing that is electronic, nothing that involves electronics, nothing that uses electricity. That means no DVDs, no Wii games etc etc. I think we can do it. I know we can for the kids, but we're not sure about each other yet. It will challenge us to think outside the box, that's for sure.

We did set a price limit, but I'm thinking of discussing a raise in that department. I'm not sure yet though, I have to give it some time, shop the sales and see what I can do with our amount. I think the kids will be easy, I just have to really watch the clearance aisles. The amount does not include stocking stuffers, or clothing. Or stuff I can make on my own. So I could make the girls a whole bunch of hair bows, korkers and clips, and it wouldn't count towards the budget.


We just have to be creative!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cutting Costs & My 500th Post!

You are all witnessing an Historical event people! This is my 500th post on my blog! I've been doing a lot of blogging in a year, haven't I?

On to business though. Remember when I mentioned we cancelled our Dish Network satellite service? The service was cut off June 1st, and we've been doing just fine without it. We've been watching stuff via our Roku unit, and DVDs. It has been a fine transition.

This week I got mail from Comcast, our internet provider. They are offering limited basic cable for $10 a month for one year. I'm debating whether to get it or not. We get all the local channels (4 of them), plus a Canadian channel, a news channel, Discovery, Weather channel and The Hallmark channel. Getting that would mean I wouldn't have to buy some of my favorite shows on iTunes, so I could watch Ugly Betty, Ghost Whisperer, The Amazing Race, Desperate Housewives and a few others.

My husband doesn't want to because he says we can do just fine without it. I know we can, but I don't particularly like watching my shows on the computer, even though it saves money. Of the shows I do watch, the majority of them I can find online for free or through iTunes.

What would you guys do?

As for The Big Project, I apologize for not updating in so long. Things have not gone as planned, unfortunately. We've cut our expenses as much as we can right now, and we're hoping to be able to see that savings grow real soon. Let's face it though, trucking is slower due to the economy and it has taken us a bit longer to recover from my husband's accident than we thought. Things are picking up though! I'll still do the big reveal in July, so look for that!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hallmark Dream Book

I collect Hallmark Ornaments, and have religiously for years now. I really started getting into it when the twins were babies, and have continued every year since then. I have quite the collection too! I think we have around 50 or so of them? tons and tons! lol

So yesterday when i was in the mall picking up The Wire, Season 3 for my dear hubby, I thought I would stop by the Hallmark Store. I'm glad I did, because this years Dream Book was in already! I love getting this each year because I plan out what I'm going to get. Some years it's only one or two ornaments, and some years I buy a LOT. This year will be a lot I think. I love that my local Hallmark store offers layaway too, so I can get what I want and pay on it over a few months.

Some of my favorites this year are the following:


This one is the start of a new series, which I am happy about, because the next ornament I want to get is the last in a series.


I have collected each one of this series. I am sad to see it end, the pieces are so cute.


I also like this next. I usually do a gingerbread theme tree in my kitchen, so this will be perfect!


I really like Disney, but I haven't put a lot of Disney ornaments on my tree. Don't know why, I just haven't. However, I LOVE Mickey's Christmas Carol, and this year Hallmark is starting a new series called the Mickey's Christmas Carol series. I really like this next ornament, so I think I might just have to start this series:




Back to the Gingerbread theme now, this set will be coming home with me. I think this is my absolute FAVORITE this year.




Does anyone else collect ornaments like I do? Or am I just a nut? My whole tree doesn't get covered in Hallmark ornaments, but they take up a large portion of it. I'm an equal opportunity ornament shopper, I just buy what I like!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Going On Vacation

We're very excited about our trip to BC in 5 weeks. The kids are just dying to go, and I can't wait to see my family. I was hoping to see some friends while we're there, but I'm not sure if it's going to work out. We have so much planned with the family that I'm not sure how we're going to work it out (Sorry Mama Bear, we'll try work it out, but I'm not sure yet). We'll be leaving here on the 16th, and returning on the 21st. The dog is being kenneled, and I have a friend coming to check on the cats each day.

Our plans for Vancouver are:

Thursday: leave home around 10/10:30 and get to my mom's mid afternoon (this include lunch stops, and a stop at the Seattle Outlet malls to get me a Coach Purse for my birthday)

Friday: We'll be up early early, and are taking the Sky Train into Vancouver. My sister will be our own personal tour guide. We'll go out for lunch, and head back to Mom's for dinner. My sister is planning on coloring my hair Friday night, which I am looking forward to!! I haven't colored my hair since October 1999! She might cut it too if we have time, but I'm not sure I can wait that long. My hair desperately needs a cut.

Saturday: Have a relaxing morning at Mom's house, and then off to my hometown for some sight-seeing fun. We have a bit of shopping to do, and I want to show my hubby and the kids all of my old stomping grounds. I expect that to take quite awhile, there is a lot to see! We're also going to visit my Oma and spend a bit of time with her. I also plan to go visit my Opa's grave. My hubby doesn't understand why I want to, but I would like to see it again. We won't have much time in town on Saturday, because we have to head back to my Mom's early for our date. The man and I are going out for a nice dinner, and we're also going to see Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. That is what I am excited for! We rarely get to go out because we have no sitters close by, so it will be nice to spend some time together.

Sunday: We're having a family bbq at my Aunt & Uncle's place on the lake. That will be an all day thing.

Monday: We're going to see Fort Langley, and do our shopping if we didn't get a chance to on Saturday. We have to go to bed early Monday night because we're leaving EARLY to get back on home on Tuesday. We have to pick up the dog at the kennel by noon, and the kennel is a half hour from our house.

Tuesday: On our way home!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

It's That Time Of Year Again

June is in full swing already. School will be out on the 18th, and we're all looking forward to a summer of no schedules. I like not being tied down for a couple months, but I bet once the end of august comes around, I will be impatiently waiting for September 9th for school to start!

On the last day of school, I always pick the kids up from school because it is a half day. Then we go out for a special lunch, as a treat. Last year it was Taco Bell! Ok, not so special, but the kids enjoyed it. I usually let them pick. I think this year we might go to Pizza Hut for their lunch buffet.

Since my husband and I made the decision to put our YMCA membership on hold this summer, we've been trying to think of fun things for me to do with the kids. Some of our ideas are:

* The park. It runs alongside a river that might have some swimming areas
* Library reading program
* Swimming in our pool
* Beaches (I think there are some in the area, I just have to hunt for them)
* Lots of crafts
* Go to the Zoo
* Go on Vacation to BC


I bought a Zoo membership the other day. It is good for a year, and we got the deluxe family membership which allows us a bunch of extra benefits, plus we can take 3 free guests with us each time. The Zoo is about 40 minutes away, so it is a bit of a drive, but not too bad to do a couple times a month.

On the 18th, the last day of school, there is a special event for Zoo members in the evening. The kids are really excited to go, so I will have to re-arrange our schedule that day. The encounter starts at 6:30, so I'm not quite sure if we'll do Pizza Hut for lunch, or go for dinner. We'll probably go to the Zoo after school, and then leave for dinner, and then come back for the event. I'm sure I can find somewhere to eat around there. I'm looking forward to going though!

What do you have planned for your Summer?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Recipe Re-Post, Chicken Pot Pie

I made this tonight for dinner. It's part of my "Rubber Chicken" meal week (well, half a week! lol)

Can you say Yummy?

I made roast chicken yesterday for dinner, and today used the left overs to make a pot pie. It is such a good comfort food. Tomorrow I will make soup with the left over carcass and meat.

Chicken Pot Pie

2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 can, drained, mixed veggies
two large peeled, diced potatoes
1/2 large onion
1-2 cans of cream of chicken soup
Salt, Pepper, Garlic salt to taste

So if you are crunched for time like me, go ahead and use a store bought pie crust. It just makes it easier for me. Put the pie crust in your pie plate. Mix all the ingredients above in a medium size bowl, and then pour into the crust/pie plate. Top with the other pie crust and cut a slit or two on top. It should cook at about 350 for an hour, mine took that long. I think next time I'll do 400 instead.

Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

I really am in a rut with the cooking, but this is so delicious! Pot pie is not a hard meal to make, just mix up some chicken with cream soup and veggies and a few spices.

"Total Eclipse Of The Heart", The Literal Version

Check out this funny video my husband sent me yesterday. These people sing what is happening in the video, literally. This totally cracked me up.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Make It From Scratch Carnival

It has been a long, long time since I have participated in the Make it From Scratch Carnival. I bit the bullet and submitted my "I Caught A Bug" post.

Check out the other awesome entries!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Cry With Me!

Many of you know that I am a die-hard Gymboree shopper. Even Mama Bear knows it, and sends me her coupons in the mail from Canada.

Well, last January was Gymbuck Redemption time. That is when you redeem your "Gymbucks", which are essentially $25 off a $50 purchase. You have to spend $50 to earn them too. I had a bunch of Gymbucks, and bought a large majority of my daughter's fall and winter wardrobe. It was stuff I was so excited for her to wear, I even had her do a little fashion show. I bought big too, because I knew she would be growing during the summer months.

Little did I know how much she would grow.

Are you ready?

Since her 3 year checkup on March 12th, she has grown almost a half inch and GAINED 4 POUNDS!!!! 4 freakin' pounds in 2.5 months!!!!!

So guess what? Tomorrow all those clothes I got for dirt cheap are going back. That means the $2 shirts, the $5 jeans, everything is going back. It fits her NOW. We're into summer heat now, and averaging about 70-80F days, so there is no sense in keeping it in case it fits. Her little chubby belly won't let me button up the jeans without them being at the loosest possible hole on the adjustable waist. I could possibly hold off and keep them, but she would need everything new by October at the latest. And I only have 6 months to return anyway, and my 6 months is up June 14th.

I'm so bummed out about this! Some of this stuff I can't buy anymore because it is a 5T, and Gymboree's baby girl sizes stop at a 5T. She'll be almost exclusively in Kid girl now. So most of it isn't even replaceable in a bigger size. I've learned my lesson, that's for sure. I was lucky that I bought a few size 6 tops for her, so I have a few items I can keep.

I guess there is a silver lining to this cloud though, I get to replace the items that don't fit. Which means I get to buy all new stuff for the fall.

For the record, she is 3y3months, almost 40" tall and weighs 38lbs. She is wearing a full size 5 right now, with a few 4s and 6s thrown in. Her jeans are a size 4, and all the new ones I buy will have to be a 5. In the fall, her tops will be mostly size 6 with a few big 5s thrown in. This does explain having to size up on her shorts yesterday, her thighs looked like they were in sausage casings!

What are your 3 year old's stats?