Friday, October 24, 2014

Handprint Trees Craft

This is a project that was done a few years ago, but it's still relevant and way fun for fall. 

I got this idea from a few different Pinterest pins although it was so long ago, I'm just gonna make the claim that I came up with it on my own because I can't seem to find which ones at the moment.  So - TA-DA! I am a genius. ;)

A few years ago, as I was watching my niece and nephews, we did a fun little project as my then-fairly newborn baby and my near newborn nephew were sleeping. 

This project is messy and could quickly go south if you aren't using paint that doesn't wash out and your kids aren't old enough to listen to directions, so think about that before starting this project and heed the warning...if you so choose. 

I've done this two ways. Once, I painted the kids' forearms and hands and then had them lay it on the paper, but this time, we just got a brown piece of paper and traced their hands, then cut the paper and glued it to the paper - creating the ever-creative handprint tree trunk.

Once the tree trunk was completed, I let the kids choose the paint and tried to influence their decisions with fall colors...which worked for the most part. 

Once the colors were picked, we worked on our fine motor skills with two different applications: the pencil eraser and the q-tip. 

Both worked well, although for my (I believe she was 4 at the time?) niece, it was a bit of a challenge, she still made it work and they had a fun time doing it. 

After all was done and dried, I asked the kids what they were thankful for and we wrote it at the top of their papers. This could be a good tradition, if we had kept it up...

In the past, I've also made the handprint on a bag or something that could be useable,  but this was much simpler (and cheaper) than that. 

Ta-Da! A fun fall craft that involves creativity, fine motor skills, reminders to be thankful and other stuff. hehe.

My, where has the time gone? These cuties sure have gotten old...

Happy Fall and pre-Thanksgiving-Christmas-music-listening holidays! :D

PS - I apologize for the delay in posting. I have been so busy with rehearsals for my show that is coming up! In fact, tonight is opening night!! Oh yeah!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Hurry. Last minute prep for our home group Bible study. What am I forgetting? Oh, that's right - it's our turn to bring snacks. Throw something together. This seems to be the norm on our Bible study nights that involve bringing snacks. Frequently, my awesome husband runs to the store and picks up something. But, this day. This day was different. I finally decided to work on the snack prior to five minutes before leaving. Huzzah! I didn't want to make something I usually made (you know, on the nights where I actually - rarely - make something), so I checked on Pinterest. This peanut butter cookie recipe is super simple. And I had all of the ingredients on hand, making it that much more enticing.

Photo from Pinterest
My son got to help with making these and I made sure we had some standard of health code in our kitchen - requiring that he wear underwear - at the VERY least. He was very excited to help by turning on the mixer, adding the ingredients (with my assistance) and especially with smashing the cookies. We rolled them in sugar before smashing them, and I liked doing that better than not. But, the recipe doesn't call for it, so it's your call.

There was an adorable picture of my son here, but I've decided I should post them if he's not wearing's just not appropriate. Maybe THAT'LL teach him to put clothes on... ;)

They were quick and easy. Very easy. We made a double batch, which made about 2-3 dozen cookies.

These aren't healthy. Not even a little it. If you are looking for healthy peanut butter cookies, look elsewhere. They are, however, quite tasty. They don't travel well if they are smushed in a bag. I'd recommend keeping them in an airtight tupperware so they hold up better. They do crumble very easily, but for how few ingredients and how little time they took, these were awesome and I will be making them again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Berries N Cream Crepes

I've never been fond of crepes. So, when I saw this pin on Pinterest, I was pretty skeptical. I mean, honestly, I didn't even HAVE to try it, my husband doesn't like crepes either. But, something about these looked mouth-watering. And I thought in my head "CHALLENGE....ACCEPTED!" and gave it a try. To check out the recipe, go here

My original plan when getting on Pinterest that fated morning was to find a recipe for homemade pancakes, but a little more unique. So, ohsweetbasil's blog caught my eye with her many delectable recipes - including a pancake recipe. But, we still landed on these fancy-schmancy Berries n Cream Crepes. 

I was curious how difficult it would be to make, but honestly, it was incredibly simple. In fact, I don't know why it's taken me so long to try these, other than, you know, not being crazy about crepes. 

The sweet syrup may have been my favorite part. I used strawberries and boysenberries. 

You really don't need to put much of the batter for the crepes into the frying pan. Especially if you want them to be thin, as crepes normally are. 

The frying pan I used was awesome also, because it had the crepes curling on the sides, making it roll easier. 

I think most people would prefer to have the filling for their crepes oozing out and being super full, but I liked it with just a thin layer of the cream cheese filling inside the crepes. Alas, I have no picture to show the thickness in which I filled the crepes, but it wasn't super thick. 

Lastly, I put the berry syrup on top. It was delightful. I was pleasantly surprised. My husband wasn't. But, he really doesn't like cream cheese. Or crepes. So.... 

But, my mom liked it, my son liked it and I liked it, so I'd call it a success. My lovely friend, Katie, recommended next time not putting the filling in all of them and letting my husband put in whatever filling he wanted (peanut butter, powdered sugar, jam, etc.). So, if you aren't crazy about cream cheese, you could try it out that way and see if you like it better. 

The crepes were a little spongy, and I think I should've put some whipped cream on top and some fresh berries on the side, but more just for looks than anything else. Ha!

There was enough batter that we were able to put some of the batter in the fridge and some pre-made crepes in the fridge as well. The batter made beautiful crepes and the pre-made crepes reheated in the microwave were also quite yummy. So, really, you shouldn't lose with this recipe...unless, you know, you don't like crepes. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

A is for Alligator

I've made up my mind and I've set a goal. I am going to start preschool with my son at home this year. We are currently just gonna go through the alphabet and have fun learning how to write our letters. My son knows most of the alphabet, but writing it is a different story, so that's gonna be our goal for this year. Writing and knowing the sounds of the alphabet. It's not gonna be overly complicated - I just want him to enjoy learning and it's nice to give him something to do that is fun and educational. I've heard that it's best to start with the easier letters, like "i" and "l" but my brain just couldn't handle that. Gotta start at the beginning!! So, we did A. Thanks to this awesome blog, I was able to find this great idea for an "A" craft.

A is for alligator. There are a number of crafts for the letter "A" that are linked above, but this was the one that I had the easiest access to the supplies.

On top of doing this with my 3 year old, I had the pleasure of watching a friend's kids for a bit and they got to join in on the crafting fun.

We started out by cutting out the printed pieces. My son had a little trouble cutting, but he did a little bit of it. I wanted him to try to do it on his own. His friend, Ryan, (who's a year older), enjoyed doing the cutting for a while and did much better at cutting than my boy. You'll never guess which kid is mine...oh wait - as always, he's the nekked one.

I cut out the paper for Miss Cailin - who is 2 years old and super duper adorable. Once all the cutting was done (I'm pretty sure I did 3/4 of it for the boys as well), we went on to gluing on the scaly skin. Cailin got to help smear the glue on the paper. That may have been her favorite part. You can't tell from the picture, but her paper was pretty much colored purple from the glue stick. :0)

The boys also got to apply the glue themselves and then they got to work with the green construction paper: applying it to the glued areas.

At this point, I stopped taking pictures. Cailin was pretty much done and the boys were wanting assistance to get the pieces to be glued in the right spots. But, much fun was had by all. I tried my darndest to get a picture of all of them with their alligators.

But, it was quite the challenge. 

Did they learn anything about the letter "A"? It's kinda doubtful. Maybe they did. Kids retain far more than we realize. But, either way, they had a good time and they all three knew that it started as the letter "A".

I will be trying to work on at least one letter per week with Cade, and I'm super excited about it. (By the way, we did do some tracing and things like that too, but this was the fun part that we did with friends, so I thought I'd share.) And, my apologies to my son (in the future) if I could get you to wear clothes, I'd have far more modest pictures of you. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Crock Pot BBQ Beef Brisket

I've never made beef brisket. It seems odd as I believe it's a staple in America. Although, since I've never made it and have rarely eaten it, maybe I'm incorrect in my thinking? Either way, I had the challenge of making something with the beef brisket cut that we received from our 1/4 of a cow that we purchased. Plus, as I've attempted to have dinner ready before my husband gets home from work, I have been totally loving my crock pot. So, BBQ Beef Brisket in the crockpot? It's an amazing marriage. 

I took the lazy way out and used store-bought BBQ sauce. If I had had the ingredients, I totally would've made the recipe that the country cook had provided. Maybe next time. 

Going into the crockpot, this looked kinda disgusting. So, if you want to see a picture, keep in mind, it's not pretty. If you don't want to see the picture, just keep on scrolling...

Mmmm...raw meat.
BBQ Sauce-covered raw meat...tasty.
I cooked the meat on high for 1 hour and then reduced the heat to low for the rest of the day. I would recommend not going over the time recommended in the blog as it can dry out the meat. Thankfully, the BBQ sauce took away some of the dryness. 

To go with this dinner, I made veggies and potatoes and it was wonderful. And, it made enough for us to have leftovers. However, as a leftover - you wanna have a side ready to a baked potato or something just as delicious. Yeah, I think I'd make this BBQ Beef Brisket again. It's a good'n, ya'll. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Clean Your Dyson Animal Vacuum

I'm pretty sure that this whole post I will have to spellcheck a few times. If I needed to spell vacuum at a spelling bee, I would definitely fail. Thank God for automatic spellcheck! This post is a mix of a few different blogs and videos that I saw on how to clean your Dyson. I, personally, have the Dyson Animal. It's a great vacuum, but it certainly needed some TLC recently. You know how the filter/tube thing in the middle gets dust bunnies caught in it? Yeah, that was mine. It was pretty much just one giant dust bunny.

This specific model seems to be different to clean than most, but here is the video that I referenced in order to get my Dyson cleaned. 

I ended up taking my vacuum pretty much all the way apart looking for the top filter, which, by the way, I never found. However, my vacuum was cleaned even more thoroughly as I used a screwdriver and cleaned everything. And, I mean everything. 

Start by taking off the canister by pressing the button up to unlock and remove. I'm including a lot of pictures to be sure I remember for the next time I have to clean my vacuum. :)

Be sure to remove it either in the garbage or in the sink so it can be easily cleaned up. 

Here is where I went too far; I unscrewed the top of my vacuum cleaner just looking for that top filter. A filter that couldn't be found. 

However, because of removing the top, I was able to clean the nasty inside of my vacuum in a different way than recommend in the video (seriously, all I would've had to do was poor water in and dump it out over and over. But, not me, I decided to unscrew the whole thing. Smarty pants that I am.)

 See? Filthy. Notice that stick in the middle? That's important when re-assembling your vacuum cleaner, it is the doohicky that opens the canister.

Start cleaning that nastiness out by just letting the water run through it. Again, this was the longer version - all you really have to do is lift up the part that's not the canister and fill it with water and dump it over and over, as per the directions in the video above.

Look how much prettier it is all cleaned out!

Once that is done, put the filter-y looking thing that the canister sits in under the water and rinse that out, using a scrub brush, if you'd like.

And, I went so far as to clean out the top of the vacuum cleaner - the part that I unscrewed. 

This next part (which I actually did halfway through the cleaning process of the top of the vacuum,) is simple and exactly as described on the vacuum and in the video. Remove the other filter. (I only found one to remove.) First, fully extend and lay flat your vacuum.

This is where you remove the filter (this is the right side of the vacuum if you are standing with the rollers (AKA the sucky part) facing you).

Look at that there filter!

To clean this, all you do is put the sponge part under the water and then squeeze it. Repeat until the water squeezed out is clear. Then put the sponge holder under the water and rinse, again, rinsing until the water flowing through the holder is clear.

Use a washcloth or clorox wipe and wipe down the rest of the vacuum and then, let it all dry for 24 hours. I laid it in the sun to be sure it would be completely dry. But, before I did that, I took a picture. Look how clean and pretty my vacuum pieces are now. (That little purple piece there to the right of the picture is a little piece that broke off, but not to worry - it has not made my vacuum work any less, thankfully.)

And there you have it. Cleaning your Dyson animal. PS - this blog post is mainly for my benefit so that I remember how to clean my vacuum next time I go to do it! :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta

I have been so busy with Pinterest Tests but haven't posted about many recently! I have some catching up to do.

Since I've been cast in "Young Frankenstein the Musical," I've made it a goal to have dinner ready before my husband gets home so we can eat together as a family before I leave for rehearsal. I've used Pinterest multiple times a week for this purpose. The recipe I'm going to post about today is creamy chicken and asparagus pasta.

I didn't take many pictures of the process of making this meal as cookingclassy's blog has done a great job of laying it all out with pictures and the like.

This was a very rich meal. I think we'd like it better without the *gasp* bacon. I know, crazy, right? Most people would probably like it with it, but it made it a little too heavy for us. We think that's what it was anyway. It was still yummy, but I feel like it needed some adjusting. I'm thinking of adding sun-dried tomatoes and omitting (or using less) bacon. It didn't seem to reheat all that well, either. So, be prepared to eat it all in one sitting. Not that it was bad reheated, it just definitely wasn't as good.

And that's what I've got on this. Enjoy!