Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recipe for Silly Putty

Do you remember playing with silly putty as a kid? Or even as an adult? I always loved seeing that glorious red egg in my easter basket. Inevitably, it didn't take more than a week or two and it was being thrown away looking more like a ball of lint than the silly putty it started out as. But, it was always fun. I especially enjoyed sticking it to the comics in the newspaper and attempting to read the comics on that pink-colored goop. Hours of cheap entertainment.

I found out recently that you can make your own silly putty at home! WHAT?! Fantastic!! Ok,'s not quite silly putty, but it is still really cool. To see how to make it, check it out here.

Photo from Pinterest
It boasts of being silly putty on Pinterest, but in the blog, the author even calls it silly sludge. Similar to putty, but not quite the same consistency.

My nephew and I still had loads of fun with it. One of the things I liked about it was Gabriel was able to help me make pretty much the whole thing with me. There was very little that he wasn't able to do as it didn't involve the stove.

By the way, his shirt in no way exemplifies the team of my choice.
However, if you are a Duck fan - enjoy!! :)

After it was all mixed up, the sludge was really runny and I ended up dumping some of the water out into the sink.

Once it was drained, though, it really was pretty cool to play with. It started out still fairly wet and mushy, but hardened up as it was played with. 

My nephew even experimented with it, seeing if it would copy like silly putty did on newspaper...we had no newspaper, but it did copy from a stamp that was used on a box that had been mailed to us.

You can easily tear it apart and then shape it back together. It really is a strange consistency. Gabe had loads of fun with this, and used it as you would use play-dough also; cutting it out with a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter that I had on hand and shaping it (in any flat form) to his heart's content.

I apologize for the fuzziness of this picture, but it was too cute not to post. 

To save it for another day, just put it in a baggy. We actually did this project a week ago and the sludge is still just as good as it was on day one. The only foreign ingredient that I did not have on hand until I decided to do this project was borax. Though, I believe many people already do have that on hand because of making their own laundry detergent. But, if you don't have it on hand, fear not - it really is affordable...dare I say cheap?! 

This was a great rainy day project that continues to bring smiles. I'd recommend this! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Perfect Salmon - Pioneer Woman Style

I've never been much of a fan of fish...unless it's not too fishy. I really like Halibut...when it's deep fried and served with french fries. I'm pretty sure I have the mature taste palate of a 5 year old. hehe.

Anyway, my husband BBQs during the summer and one day he BBQ'd some salmon for his mom. I tried a bite and discovered a new love in the seafood department: my husband's BBQ salmon. YUM! All he does is put it in foil, sprinkle salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and a little lemon pepper on it and calls it good. And, boy howdy, is it ever!

During the winter, though, my fish intake decreases greatly. As I've said before, we are making an effort to go meatless on Mondays, so I decided to try my hand at baking salmon and seeing if it would be good. It was a success! The recipe, of course, as always, was from Pinterest with the link going to the Pioneer Woman's website. To check out the recipe (as well as a bazillion others), click here.

Photo from Pinterest

It turns out, this recipe is pretty much exactly the way my husband prepares the salmon other than not using lemon pepper and lemon juice (which I did use anyway) and it being cooked in the oven instead. I didn't put it in foil as The Pioneer Woman did not say to do that, and it seemed to be just fine. Here is a pic after it was prepped and ready to go in the oven... it certainly doesn't look very appetizing.

However, as you can see, it turned out as pretty as fish can be (without being deep fried) and it really was quite tasty.

It was a little more cooked than I would've liked so it lost a little of its moistness, but that was completely my fault since I forgot to set the timer when I put the salmon in the oven.

A little rice, broccoli and asparagus, and our dinner was delicious and I felt quite accomplished. Not too shabby for the first time making fish, if I do say so myself. Plus, I was quite happy that my house did not smell fishy at all, which I gravely anticipated it doing as I made this. My only recommendation would be to be sure to not have the fish in your oven longer than 25-30 minutes - it does dry out. Also, fresh fish is most definitely the way to go! I've had frozen salmon and fresh. There is nothing better than fresh. That pretty much goes for all food though, doesn't it?

If you aren't a fish fan, this probably wouldn't be your cup of tea, but if you are a fan of fish or of trying it from time to time - this is a good choice.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Best Pancakes Ever!

I love the weekends! Time to spend with my hubby and son, time to relax, and time to make breakfast! My husband makes the best pancakes I have ever eaten. They are just so fluffy, puffy and delicious. Mmmm. I just love them. Yes, it is just a mix from a Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix, but somehow, he makes it taste divine! The one downfall of it, besides my desire to eat far more than is healthy for any normal person, is the fact that I can't actually pronounce some of the ingredients on the back of the bag. That being said, finding an alternative that would allow me to continue eating absolutely delicious pancakes without the unpronounceable ingredients was an amazing idea that I was excited to try. If you wanna try out this recipe, check it out here.

Photo from Pinterest
I should preface the next part of this post by saying that I made these pancakes...I am not the pancake expert in the family, so they do not look nearly as divine as the picture above does (albeit, less fuzzy), but I'm learning.

Coleen's Recipes blog gives the whole recipe, but it didn't include many pictures, so I took it upon myself to take photos of most of the process, just in case anybody did want to see the steps in pictures.

She starts by souring milk by adding some vinegar to the milk. Basically, it's like making your own buttermilk, in a way.

Here's what it looked like after I stirred in the vinegar. I actually freaked out a tad bit and did a double take at my milk in the fridge to confirm it hadn't gone bad. It had not. It just works that quickly to change the texture of the liquid ever so slightly...and unappetizingly.

Let it set for 10 minutes and here is the finished product of that with the rest of the wet ingredients mixed in as well. Obviously, it has yet to look tasty.

Next, mix all your dry ingredients and pour in your mixed liquids and let it set for another 10 minutes. In her  blog, she says the batter will likely bubble and you should not stir it in spite of that! My batter really didn't bubble much - maybe it's because I used 1% milk?? I don't know, either way, you can see in these before and after pictures that there is literally, like, one bubble. But, really, as long as the bubbles aren't what make the pancakes, I guess we are ok.

Start of the 10 minutes
End of the 10 minute set. See the singular bubble near the bottom of the picture in the middle? Not very impressive.
Anyway, from there, you just do the normal steps you would do when making a pancake...and if you are unsure, refer back to the blog linked above....since that's your whole recipe there anyway.

Mine certainly didn't turn out as pretty as hers, however, since I'm not the pancake making expert, I may have to force my husband to give the recipe a try so we can have the true test.

But, what I can tell you - these really were pretty much just as good (as far as flavor) as the packages with the mixes. They took just a little longer, but it really wasn't too bad. 30 minutes, maybe?? And, they were very airy, fluffy and light and delicious. Mmmm...I love breakfast. Were these the best pancakes ever? I don't know if I'd say that. Maybe after my husband gives them a whirl I'll be able to say that. But, I can say there were certainly tasty!

If you try this recipe, I hope you enjoy these as much as my husband, son and I did. It definitely is worth a try.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sandpaper T-Shirt Iron-On!

YAY! It's time for another kid craft day! Today, I was so excited to get to play with my nephew, Mickey. I haven't seen him much recently, so it was a great treat. As always, I had to do my awesome aunt duty and we did a project. Have you ever noticed that with boys, we tend to call things "projects" and with girls, we call things "crafts"? It just seems more manly to call it a "project" rather than a craft; maybe it's just me...

Anyway, Mickey and I decided to make a Sandpaper T-Shirt Iron-On today. I've done it once before with great success, and this was no different. It's very easy and our kiddos feel great to be able to accomplish something and then even being able to wear their project. Way cool.

Photo from Pinterest
 As the linked-blog above states, you will want to make sure to color in your picture really well on the sandpaper. If you don't do this, the picture will not transfer onto the fabric as nicely and will be extra light. Since the sandpaper is fine, it's not too scratchy to use either, which is a plus. 

Mickey decided he wanted Batman on his shirt, so I found the logo on Google and did my best to copy the outline onto the sandpaper. It wasn't perfect, but that's ok - the whole thing was gonna be colored in anyway. 

After my nephew had finished coloring in the picture, I went back over it one more time to make sure it was dark enough. This is important; if it's not dark enough, it won't transfer well onto the shirt. I still think it may have been a bit light, but it worked just the same. 

Ready to be ironed on!
The next step is to iron it onto the shirt. Alphamom's blog says to use either a paper towel - which is what they used - or parchment paper on top of the sandpaper to be sure you don't ruin your iron. I love that you can use a paper towel! Talk about a cheap alternative to parchment paper!! Well, it seems like it anyway. However, I did not use a paper towel. I was being lazy. I ran out of paper towels in the house today and rather then making the long trek to the garage for another roll, I just used parchment paper. All that to say - I can vouch for the parchment paper. 

Alphamom's blog recommends peeling a corner to be sure the image has begun to transfer. Another good tip! Since you haven't moved much of it, you can continue to iron it if you need to. It really doesn't take more than 30 seconds on each spot though. 

The image wasn't quite dark enough in spots to grab it as much as I would've liked, and in that case, it is possible to take the sandpaper off and color it in a little darker and re-apply it. But, it's a challenge to make sure you get it in the exact same spot, so it's best to color it in as dark as possible the first go-around.

The other nice thing about this is that you can make multiples of the same shirt! I've done that as well, so I know it to be true. All you have to do is re-fill the colored areas a bit before applying the sandpaper to the next shirt. Very cool!

I think he likes it! I would highly recommend this project! Worth the time, the minimal cost and the energy. Plus, how fun for your kids to be able to wear their own designs! Give it a try and enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Melt In Your Mouth Crockpot Cube Steak

Recently we purchased a quarter of a grass-fed cow. This has been a great decision. The quality of the meat we have been eating is superb. This meat needs very little seasoning; it is so flavorful!

However, the only problem with getting a whole quarter cow is you don't get to pick just the cuts that you want. Not that this is a huge problem; it has challenged us to try new dishes. One of the cuts we have an awful lot of is cube steak. So, naturally I went to Pinterest for some recipes. Here is one of many, the Crockpot Cube Steak and Gravy. It is delish and easy.

I was excited by the throw it in, set it and forget it easiness of this meal. No stirring, nothing. It was terrific. As thepost-itplace's blog says, the dish does not look good at all, but it's easy to look past that once you take a bite. 

I know...this looks disgusting, but I wanted you to see what it would look like when it was done. It looks horrible. But it tastes delectable. 

My mom, my husband and I all ate this. My nephew (who I had the fortunate blessing of having with me for the afternoon) and my son were not quite as daring.  The three of us (daredevils) enjoyed it and  wouldn't mind eating it again.

The meat was tender, though not quite as juicy as I would've liked. Having the gravy from the crockpot drizzled over it made it extra yummy. My mom said this was very much like a pot roast in the flavor and texture, and I think I'd agree with that assessment. It didn't seem to need much seasoning, it carried itself (with the gravy). I will definitely be making this again sometime. 

I hear cube steak is some of the cheaper steak to buy as well, so...that could make this dish even more satisfying: more bang for your buck! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Storing sheets

My linen closet used to be in complete disarray. Not that it's much to look at anyway, but finding the pillow cases that matched the sheet set I was using, was definitely a challenge. Until I discovered this fantastic idea! The pin that I pinned didn't actually have a link, but it's a great tip. 

Photo from Pinterest

This really does work quite well. A few things I've discovered though, it can be frustrating putting the sheets into the pillow cases as they tend to be like jello, moving this way and that, and would be all balled up inside the pillow case by the time I had them in there. Quite frustrating indeed. It's probably the way I fold my sheets though.

But, I've figured out a way to get my sheets to lay flat in the pillow cases: put the sheets in carefully, guiding them gently (not like putting a pillow case on a pillow), straighten them out once they are in the pillow case...and, of course, brute force.

I'd still choose this method over trying to dig for the sheet set that I'm using. It really takes very little time, it works quite well and keeps things in better order in my linen closet.

It's just a little tip that I have appreciated and thought I'd pass it along.

Obviously, it's not as pretty as the above picture, but it sure works well!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Oatmeal Smoothies

A while back we bought a Blendtec blender. So began my quest to find the truly great recipes for my amazing blender. What we use it for mainly is smoothies, however, I have made soup before. But, for the purpose of this post, I will be discussing the delightfully tasty Oatmeal Smoothie.

Photo from Pinterest

I've made these types of smoothies a few different times and find them to be quite satisfying, filling and tasty. My son enjoys them too, which is an added bonus! I was a bit skeptical about how grainy the smoothie may be in consistency, but it actually wasn't grainy at all. You just need to make sure it's blended very well. Then, you'll just end up with a delightful oatmeal taste without the graininess.

This is actually the first time I've tried this specific recipe, but I believe I would make it again. It was yummy.

The other recipe that I have tried from Pinterest (but doesn't have a blog link) calls for: 1 cup ice, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries or strawberries, 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt, 1 banana, 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 tablespoon honey.

This recipe was also VERY good. I generally added both raspberries and strawberries and because my fruit is usually frozen, I rarely add any ice. My son doesn't like it too-too cold. You, obviously, don't have to have a Blendtec blender to make this smoothie; I'm fairly certain any blender will do. However, my best advice is to always put in enough liquid to cover the blades of the blender you are using. It'll run a whole lot smoother that way, from my experience. 

Anyway, the end result is a tasty, nourishing, filling drink that my son and I both enjoy. My husband has yet to try it, so I can't speak for him. But, as for the rest of my family - our tastebuds and our tummies have been thanking us.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Vested Scarf

2/20 EDIT: 
Thanks to the advice of my friend, Katie, I have tried this once again, and can now claim success!! The trick is to tie it with pretty much just the fringe of the scarf and pull the scarf down further in the back. Way better!

I tried it with both a patterned shirt and a plain shirt and I am pleased with the results. The backside still isn't super flattering, whether the scarf is above the rear or below it, but I'm ok with people not checking out my backside anyway. I hear this also looks good with a chunky belt. I don't have a chunky belt to try this with, but I am thinking Katie is probably right, as she was certainly right with her other tips! Thanks, Katie, for showing me the error of my ways!

ORIGINAL POST: Ok, I'm not as fashion forward as I would like to be. My idea of getting dressed is getting out of my pajama pants and into my comfy yoga pants. (I totally stole that from facebook.) Who am I kidding? I should just call them what they are - stretch/sweat pants - I don't do yoga. However, when I have the opportunity to go out and about, I try to at least wear a scarf; scarves always dress things up. Isn't that the rule? Ok...maybe you shouldn't take fashion advice from me. Either way, I saw this neat idea on Pinterest to turn your scarf into a vest, so naturally I gave it a try. To see more details on how to do this, check out this blog.
Photo from Pinterest

This was so very simple and the directions were easy to follow. Alas, as hip as it may look in the above picture - I did not like the look it gave me. In fact, I felt a little hefty wearing my scarf this way. 

A paper bag may have given me more shape than this look did. I will not, however, go so far as to throw my scarves away, for there are many ways to wear them. Check it: 

Photo from Pinterest
I personally am partial to #1 and #5 for tying my scarves. There are other pins on Pinterest with even more ways of tying your scarves, but I leave it with this for now. I don't want you to feel strangled by my blog about scarves. Get it? Strangled, because you would be wearing a scarf and it could stra....'re right. Moving on. 

I hope you've found this little tip useful and maybe you'll try out the vested scarf and maybe it'll look good on you! If it does, that's awesome; don't show me - I don't want to end up disliking you over this. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Puppy Valentine!

It's a double-blogger day!! Woot woot!

My nephew came over yesterday, and, since I couldn't let him get by with just helping me with my Valentine's Day Sun Catchers as there wasn't much he could do with it, I had to do another little something for him. This project was so easy - he really did the whole thing himself, needing very little supervision (until the cutting...always supervise the cutting...). There was no blog for this dog...get it? hehe. But, there is a print out that you can get by going here.

I actually think I remember making something like this in kindergarten, he's a bit older than that, but he still had fun with it.

He colored all of the hearts of the dog and then cut it out and used double sided tape to assemble it. I gave him the option of glue as well, but he chose tape which was not quite as messy and still worked, so I'd recommend going that route.

He decided to angle the ears of his pup differently than it was in the picture, which I loved. I love how unique and creative his little mind is. When I was young I would've been frustrated to not have it be just like the picture. Heck, I'm still like that. But, I'm happy that he's not because I admire that trait in him.

His goal was to get the ears to look a little like Bolt - do you see it? One ear up and the other floppy/down.
His completed work of art was given to Grandma as a Valentine complete with a note on the back of it. Like I said before, this was such a simple little project, you could set your kids (or grandkids or nieces, nephews, neighbors, what-have-you) in front of this with some crayons and you may just have a couple of minutes for some you and your love time. Granted, it won't be very long, but any time is better than no time, right??

Or, if you are feeling really crafty and like you'd rather be more involved (which is also fantastic), you could get out your glue and some glitter or pipe cleaners or scraps of paper and really have a hay day. Let your child's imagination take flight!

This is simple, easy and doesn't require a lot of adult supervision. I'd recommend this, for sure!

Valentine's Day Sun Catchers

A friend of mine asked me to try this out for my blog and I willingly obliged, after all, they are quite beautiful! And, how fun to try to make them on your own! To find out how to make these beautiful sun catchers on your own, check it out here. I'm gonna tell you how it all went down for me.

To be completely honest, this project was a little more trouble than it was worth. I really didn't expect it to be all that hard, but just getting the string to lay down properly was a challenge. The swirly hearts were a bit easier to lay down and form the string, but the one where you are connecting lines - forgeddaboudit.

Look at the #2 "heart" - yeah...not easy at all, I tell ya. Maybe it's just me though??

After the glue dried, my son got ahold of the hearts and threw them on the floor and danced on top of them (let's hope this isn't a sign of what he'll do in the future). So, the only one that was salvageable was the curly heart - the one with the stripes was utterly destroyed and obviously, the #2 heart wasn't even worth attempting. Also, because my son had removed all of the hearts from the wax paper, they may not have been able to peel away from the wax paper the way they were supposed to be able to.

The next part was fun, though. My nephew was over so he and I added the glue and a little red (and later blue) water color to the mixture. My nephew was a little annoyed with the next part as it was a LOOOOONG waiting game - which the blog does say. The blog says it can take 24 hours or more to dry. So, unfortunately, my nephew didn't get to see this project through to the end, but he had fun with what he was able to do. 

This is what it looked like when it was all done. I actually thought it looked pretty neat! However, trying to pry it from wax paper ended up tearing it more than anything. 

So, I decided to just cut out the wax paper instead and that seemed to work just as well. 

I'm happy with the end result, but I doubt I will make these again. The frustration of trying to get the string to lay just so proved to be too much for someone as impatient as I. 

However, if you would still like to try this project, I have a few recommendations: be prepared to spend a significant amount of time shaping the string where you want it to lay. Also, be sure to leave the string on the wax paper once it's dry - that may help with the tearing when you are trying to remove it from the wax paper. Lastly, don't do this with a toddler - you may go crazy.