Archive | April, 2012

Indulge is the verb of the day.

29 Apr

in·dulge  (n-dlj)

v. in·dulgedin·dulg·ingin·dulg·es
v.tr.

1. To yield to the desires and whims of, especially to an excessive degree; humor.
2.

a. To yield to; gratify: indulge a craving for chocolate.
b. To allow (oneself) unrestrained gratification: indulged herself with idle daydreams.
So I just thought I would share a couple of my “indulgences” with you today…since it involves liquor…on a Sunday. 🙂 I am pretty sure the state of Texas would frown on this, but pretend that you are reading this on a Monday. A crazy, busy, hectic Monday. If you HAVE had a crazy, busy, hectic Monday, then it may call for you to sit back and relax after a long day and indulge in a treat.
Or in this case, wake up and start your day off by indulging. I never do that. But I thought I would post this in case some of you do.

INDULGE #1 
Seriously here are four things that I LOVE.
1. Coffee Mate Italian Sweet Cream creamer. (They have this in Fat Free too, but only in the small size. I had a coupon for the large size, so bring it on.) This stuff is the bomb-diggity.  I keep trying new flavors and wasting my money. I always go back to this creamer.
2. Whipped Cream Vodka.  Y’all, this stuff is SO GOOD. A friend introduced me to this. I am normally not a vodka fan, but I really do like this stuff, and it’s really inexpensive compared to most liquors. (If you are fancy and feel the need to spend money, well by all means buy Pinnacle brand or something.)
3. Starbucks Blonde Veranda Blend. Delicious, smooth, subtle.
4.  Joulies-Magic beans that cool your coffee to the right temperature faster and then keep it there longer. Made in USA from 85% recycled stainless steel using hydro power from Niagara Falls. Click the link to visit the website and learn more. There is a video and everything.
I bought these hoping they work, and they do! I don’t like drinking my coffee without them! It seriously makes my coffee the perfect temperature and I don’t have to heat it up over and over. (Because I have two small children…and sometimes I have to do things like clean poop off of walls instead of drinking the hot cup of coffee I just brewed.)
Now, use all of these things TOGETHER and you won’t be sorry.
I usually use my reusable K-cup to brew a cup of coffee, and add a splash of sweet cream creamer and some whipped cream vodka. (Probably about 1 oz. Nothing major. However, if you are a lush, then you would add more…obviously.)


INDULGE #2

1. Pepsi Max–I really like this stuff. I am not a “diet” coke kind of girl (And yes, in Texas all “sodas” are “cokes”) Anyway, this stuff tastes better than diet with fewer calories than regular. It’s 60 calories for 12 oz.

2. McCormick Whipped Cream Vodka. (see above)

Now mix these two together. I just pour some coke over ice and then add the whipped cream vodka to taste. It tastes like a vanilla coke. YUM!

INDULGE #3 

Pour your coke, whipped cream vodka mix over a scoop of ice cream to make a grown-up coke float. Coke floats remind me of spending the night at my Nannies house when I was little. (Minus the vodka, of course. :))



INDULGE #4

Smoked Salsa and chips

Don’t think I am a weirdo, just try it! I feel like I am a bit of a salsa expert. I have spent my whole life on the quest for the perfect salsa…almost like searching for the holy grail. I think I have found it! I do realize that everyone has a preference when it comes to salsa. Some prefer more cilantro, some more onions, etc. This is MY favorite way of making salsa. Adjust it to fit your flavor profile.  Something magical happens when you smoke this salsa vs. just simmering on the stove. TRUST ME. (Unless YOU are a weirdo and don’t like smoked foods. And in that case, we are kicking you out of Texas.)

Smoked Salsa
4 whole medium tomatoes
1/2 medium sweet white onion, cut in chunks
6 whole jalapeños or 3 whole serranos (use the latter for a hotter salsa)
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water
cilantro

Put all of the ingredients, except the cilantro, in a  heavy pot, and place the pot (uncovered) in a smoker for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the vegetables are soft. (Do not allow the sauce to become dry; add more water if needed.) Remove pot from smoker. Blend the mixture, along with a handful of cilantro, in the blender for a few seconds.  Adjust the salt to taste. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator (will keep about 2 weeks). Yield: 2 cups. Note: For a thicker salsa, combine 1 T. cornstarch with 2 T. water, and drizzle the mixture into the salsa while it’s still hot. Simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until salsa reaches the desired thickness. If it becomes too thick, simply add a bit more water.

(I never thicken it, I think it’s the perfect consistency for me. I also ALWAYS double or triple the recipe because it doesn’t last long!)

So that’s it! Just thought I would share with you what I prefer to spend my calories on! 🙂

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Preschool Homeschooling Week 1: Day 1 & 2

25 Apr

This week we started our “Homeschooling”. I am using that phrase lightly here, hence the quotation marks, because this is my test run for it. 🙂 I DID go to a Pre-K round-up at a public school for Addison, but it is still uncertain whether we will get in or not since we are transfer students. I am not 100 % that this is the route we want to take yet either, but we have a little bit to decide.

I decided to start a Pre-K curriculum at home now so that I can find out if I am structured enough and patient enough to do this. (I think I am, but you never know for sure until you are in the middle of something like this.) Addison’s birthday falls right at the cut-off for Kindergarten. We would prefer for her not to be the youngest kindergartener in her class, so technically we have a year before we HAVE to make a decision regarding public school vs. homeschool.

A friend of mine, Michelle, gave me a couple of books to get me going in the right direction. I really respect Michelle’s expertise in this area, because she is an AMAZING mom and Christian woman. She has two adopted children and three foster children at home, all of them around the Kindergarten age and younger. She has the patience of a saint. I have seen her in action, and it’s inspiring. (I will admit, sometimes I feel like hiding in a closet by myself…and I have TWO children. :))

Anyway, so far we are working out of this workbook: Learning at Home. I like it because it is Bible based, and it uses resources from the Library. I have found that most of the books are not in MY library here however, because it was written in the early 1990’s. (I actually just looked at the copyright date, and it says 1990, so there ya go!) I did still use library resources though, just not the ones they had listed. I just used the library computer and found some books for preschoolers involving the sun, moon, creation, etc.

AND I am very excited to start this book: Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We did Lesson One already, and for Addison, it was a breeze. She is SO ready to start reading. She asks me why she can’t read yet and she get’s frustrated with the fact that she can’t. I know she is ready to start this book! It is using the DISTAR method, which is a phonics based method.

Even though MK is only two, she has really enjoyed being a part of this too. They especially love using the scissors! I bet Addison cut 5000 itty bitty pieces of paper up. MK is a little too young to actually know how to hold them right, but she still made slits all around her paper. Ahhh to be little again! 🙂

This is how we have it set up in my studio for our Homeschool. They each get their own table to work at. Notice MK has her trusty blankie and Ollie with her. (Ollie is a girl BTW…in case you didn’t know. I have been CORRECTED.)

And here is a view of my desk. I reward them with a star and a sucker if they do well and don’t get any X’s by their name while we are doing school. (X’s are given when someone talks while I am talking, or gets out of their desk without permission.)

Here is what we did for Day One: 

Lesson One in the DISTAR book: Learning the sound that “m” makes and how to write it, and the sound that “s” makes and how to write it.  We don’t refer to them by their alphabet name, when we see an “m” it is “mmmmmmmmmm” and an “s” is “ssssssssssssss”.

Learning at Home Day One:

1.) Go over school rules. (Basically, they don’t talk while I am talking, and when they talk when it’s their turn, I will listen. They don’t get up unless I tell them they can. They raise their hand if they need something… basic school rules stuff. Also they call me “Teacher” when we are in Homeschool mode.)

2. Take a picture of the children. (Above)

3. Give them their school supplies.

4. Introduce Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance.

Learning at Home Day Two: 

Bible: Read Gen 1:1-8 (Day 1,2, and 4 of Creation) and discuss and explain it.

Reading: Read a poem. Recognition of own name. (We practiced writing all of the girls names in full and put it on three pieces of cardstock. One for their room, one for the classroom, and one for the refrigerator.)

We took photos for our “All about Me” book that we will be working on. (The book has 12 different pictures to take, for example: Child: Standing-head to toes view, child in front of home, child with siblings, child with pets, etc.)

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Music: Sang Heavenly Sunshine, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.

Arithmetic: Learn Top, Middle, Bottom.

God’s World: Read a book about the sun and the moon and discuss it. Have the child be the “moon” and you be the “earth”. Have child walk in a circle around you.

Physical Education: Throw and Catch the Ball. They also did the Insanity workout with me both days.

Memory Verse: Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Art: We made a God’s Creation picture, concentrating on the “heavens”. They especially liked to use GLUE!

This pretty much completes our first couple of days! The girls really enjoy it and so do I!

Frosted Sugar Cookies for Easter

5 Apr

I decided to make some sugar cookies for Easter this year. I was going to make sugar cookies with royal icing and really decorate them up cute.. with maybe  some chicks or maybe some  Easter eggs…but instead I took the easy way out and made these rosette cookies! They are super simple and SUPER DELISH. 🙂

I really wanted to make them pastel colors, which would be more Easter-ish… but I was very heavy handed with the food coloring. OOPS! I also don’t like to waste frosting because HELLO, it’s delicious and that’s just wrong, so I scooped out the remaining frosting with a butter knife, spread it on some cookies and added sprinkles. The sprinkle cookies were the ones that my girls were going crazy for of course.

Hope everyone has a HAPPY EASTER and remember that Easter is not about eggs or cookies, but to celebrate the fact that Jesus is RISEN! 🙂

Here are the recipes I used:

Sugar Cookie Recipe

(From: i am baker)

Ingredients

  1. 1-½ cup Butter (I Use Unsalted)
  2. 2 cups Sugar
  3. 2 whole Eggs
  4. 2 whole Eggs Yolks
  5. 4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  6. 2 teaspoons Almond Extract
  7. 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  8. 1 teaspoon Salt
  9. 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add in 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks and mix until combined.
  4. Add in vanilla and almond extract; mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly (about a cup at a time) add flour to butter mixture and combine. You can use a mixer or not, just depends on how strong you are.
  6. I usually just mix ingredients until they are combined, as I have heard that if you over-mix this dough it will get tough.
  7. Put dough in some Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out, cut out cookies, and bake for 5 minutes.

Decorator’s Frosting

1 bag powder sugar (two pounds or about eight cups)

1 cup shortening (I used original Crisco)

1 tsp vanilla extract (use clear if want white frosting)

1 tsp butter flavoring

1/2 cup milk

Cream shortening, vanilla extract, and butter flavoring in mixer for 2-4 minutes. Add in powder sugar, one cup at a time. If you find your mixer struggling, slowing add in milk. Use more milk for a creamy consistency, use less milk for a stiff consistency.

I played around with the icing consistency. The yellow icing was really perfect..without adding more milk.  When I was first decorating, I thought it needed to be thinner, so I added more milk. The icing didn’t set up nearly as well as I wanted it to. You can see on the pink and blue cookies the roses are not as defined.

I wanted the frosting to be a “crusting” frosting so that after a day or two, the frosting gets…well, crusty! Haha 🙂 That is why I am making these cookies TODAY vs. Saturday.

My husband taste tested one..and gave them a thumbs up! (He’s by far the biggest food critic I know, so YAY!)

House Number Flower Planter

1 Apr

Just wanted to post what’s been keeping me busy for the last couple of days! We needed something for the front of the house. I saw a picture of a tiered planter on the internet and decided to replicate it. 🙂 These just started out as regular terra-cotta pots. I added some spray paint, painted polka dots, some vinyl house number stickers, and some polyurethaine….and voila!  I’m happy with how it turned out. I really like having the house number on the planter. Let’s just keep the flowers alive now!

This was my inspiration: http://www.positivelysplendid.com/2012/03/polka-dotted-tiered-planters.html