Friday, February 28, 2014

Baked Slow Cooker Chicken

Have you ever found yourself in the predicament of trying to find a way to cook a whole chicken? I have. But, not recently. Thanks to all, I have a fantastic recipe for cooking a whole chicken and, even better, I do it in a crock pot! Woohoo! Oh, how I love my crock pot! To see the recipe, you can just click here.

Photo from
This recipe is incredibly simple and quick (to put together - not to cook). It's a set it and forget it kind of recipe. You start by wadding up 3 balls of tin foil. Here is a picture for your viewing pleasure:

Rinse and pat dry your chicken (be sure to remove all the innards) and then lightly season with salt, pepper and paprika. Place it on top of the toil foil.

Put the lid on your crockpot, turn the heat to high for one hour. This is very important. You want to be sure to do this as it helps cook the chicken properly. After one hour, turn the heat to low and let your chicken just simmer in its juices until dinner time - about 8 hours.

Afterwards, you can just take the chicken apart, put pieces on your plate with some rice or potatoes and veggies and dinner is served! Easiest recipe ever. And the chicken is rather good. If cooked too long, it does seem to dry out a bit, but it's still really tasty. Plus, you end up with enough chicken leftover for another meal or two!

Also, one quick little tidbit that I just recently learned: when making rice, use chicken broth instead of water - the rice reheats better and it has more flavor to begin with! You're welcome. ;)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

PALEO: Miss Piggy Fingers and Kermit Fries

Recently, I discovered that my daughter, my son and I all have a sensitivity to soy. And I've come to also find out that soy is in everything!  So, we've been working on clean eating. If I can make it from scratch, I'm trying. It appears that the majority of the time, the stuff I'm making from scratch just so happens to be paleo-friendly. I found this fun recipe for Miss Piggy Fingers and Kermit Fries and thought I'd give it a try.
Photo from Pinterest

This recipe was so so so yummy. I would highly recommend it. I didn't have incredibly high hopes for it because, let's face it, healthy food is very hard to make tasty. Well, that's what we've been taught to believe anyway. However, this was an experiment that I just couldn't get enough of! Oh. My. Goodness. I'm drooling just thinking about making it again. It was very quick and easy to make and it had excellent flavor and was still healthy.

The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of almond flour/meal, but that is not nearly enough. You will need a whole lot more than that. By the way, I was intimidated by the idea of using almond flour because I'd never even seen anything like it. Mostly because I never looked. If you are looking for this, it will most likely be in the baking section. I found it at Safeway and Natural Grocers. Thankfully, eating clean is becoming far more common, so this type of product isn't too hard to find.

My cousin and her fiancee came to dinner and ate this with us. The zucchini was perfect, the pork was flavorful. I'd highly recommend this recipe. And an added bonus, because I was using bacon grease - we had a few pieces of bacon as appetizers.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture - I was too excited to eat it to take a good one.
I have made the pork a few times now and once, rather than using bacon grease, I used a little bit of olive oil. The flavor from the bacon grease really does make this far more delectable, however, it was still quite good without it - especially if you aren't a bacon lover. (HA!)

So, my three notes on this recipe:
1) Try it! This recipe is a must!
2) Expect to use more almond flour
3) The recipe calls for enough ingredients for this to be an appetizer for 2 people - plan accordingly.

And Muppets were harmed in the making of this meal. :)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Grandma's Goulash

Growing up, a staple meal that we had at our house was "macaroni and tomatoes with hamburger and mushroom." And that's what we called it. It wasn't until my adulthood that I discovered there is actually another name for this - goulash! I remember hearing about this mysterious dinner called "goulash" but it never sounded very tasty. Come to find out, it is one of my comfort foods! Simple, quick, easy and delicious! The other day, I tried a recipe I found via Pinterest called "Grandma's Goulash." You can check it out here.

Photo from Pinterest
I tweaked this recipe ever-so-slightly to add in veggies that my family would enjoy eating without noticing. This is a technique I've picked up from the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook, Deceptively Delicious. Which is an incredible book for getting your family to eat healthy, tasty meals without them necessarily knowing that's what you are doing. Sneaky, sneaky! :)

Anyway, in my goulash, I added mushrooms, red pepper and - wait for it - pureed sweet potato! Crazy, right? Crazy-good, that is! I did not have any shell pasta, so I ended up making mine with bow-tie pasta, so don't feel confined to using a certain pasta - use whatever your little heart desires. This tasted way good and the sweet potato was so mild it was hardly noticeable. My son, the picky eater who pretty much just loves sweet stuff, really liked this too. I also made vegetables for a side, but this was great on its own because of all the good stuff that was in it! Protein, veggies, grains, fruit (tomatoes) and dairy (parmesan cheese). This was the whole, delightfully tasty package!

So, there you have it. A new recipe to try, if you'd like. It's so yummy. My picture doesn't do it justice, but it still works.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Another Way To Tie A Scarf

I love scarves. I love accessorizing, either with a hat or with a scarf. However, for a long time, I wasn't quite sure how to wear a scarf. Sounds kinda ridiculous, right? Well, it is true, none the less. I did the normal wrap-around-your-neck twice wearing, but that quickly failed me as I choked myself or it would eventually wriggle out of my not-so-fancy wearing and be on the ground. Then, I learned the loop-n-through - where you just make a loop, slip it through the hole and call it good. That's still definitely an old stand-by and favorite. But, I'm making my way into fancier scarf-tying. Seriously, it shouldn't be as tough as it is for me, but that's the way it is. 

Anyway, recently I got a great deal on a bunch of scarves and found myself in the predicament of trying to figure out how to wear them differently. Not that I necessarily had to - but I wanted to. Here is one of the new ones I tried today.

Photo from Pinterest
There are 6 different ways to tie scarves on this one image, but I couldn't get them all in the screen to take a screen shot of it, so to see the rest of them, check out this image. But be warned, most of the images use less-then-current looks, so it's not the prettiest of examples. But that's ok. :)

Anyway, this is the way I wanted to tie my scarf this time. I've always been so envious of people who can put scarves together and make them look fashionable and fluffy and mine just kinda...hang. Once I tried this, I was pumped!! I went to my mom's work and showed off my new tying abilities and said "Doesn't it look great?! Now I can be cool like everyone else!" Just kidding. But seriously, I really liked the way it looked. 

Tie little tiny knots in both ends of your scarf so that they are connected and make an infinity scarf kind of look. So, it'll look like this.

Then proceed with the other steps listed above. I tried to take a picture of each step, but doing it on my own was just too hard. Maybe this could be a vlog that I do eventually so it can hopefully make more sense visually.

Either way, the end result was pretty cute, in my opinion.

However, I discovered when I tried to re-create this (so I could photo-document each step), it was a whole lot harder. Maybe it was just beginners luck... Oh well, I will try again sometime. It's too cute of a look not to! 

There you have it, a new way to wear a scarf that is simple and cute and fun and hip and cool. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Snow Ice Cream

So, I'm a little late on the snow post. At least for the Pacific Northwest. However, it sounds like in other parts of the country, this may be something fun you could still try. Snow Ice Cream! I saw the idea on Facebook, when bunches of my friends were making it. I delayed in making it myself and by the time we did make it, the snow had a nice layer of ice on the top of it. It didn't work out as well, but it was still fun to try. To make Snow Ice Cream, check out this blog. This recipe for snow ice cream calls for sweetened condensed milk, but there was another recipe, courtesy of Veggie Tales, that I saw floating around Facebook that didn't required the sweetened condensed milk. Here's that recipe:

So, I can't speak for the VeggieTales version of snow ice cream, but for the recipe I tried, it wasn't too bad. It was incredibly easy to make and took practically no time at all. My nephew, Gabe, and my son helped me make it. However, I would highly recommend not allowing the two-year-old to pour the sweetened milk...oy! What a mess.

Icky sticky mess!
After we got milk, vanilla and snow all in one bowl, we went to mixing. My mom was recording the boys making the snow ice cream (or "Snow Cream" as Gabe referred to it) while I was taking pictures. She will not be happy to have her picture on here...but, oh well. Muwahaha! :) (love you, momma!)

After it was all mixed up, the boys each got a little bowl with some of their concoction.

Cade wasn't much of a fan, which was surprising considering how much he loves ice cream, but Gabe thought it was pretty good - especially with chocolate syrup on it. I tried a little of it and it was way too sweet. If you do decide to make this recipe, I wouldn't recommend putting the whole can of sweetened condensed milk in. It also was too icy. For the first few snow days, the snow was like powder and the last day or two of our winter wonderland, the snow was covered with a layer of ice.  And we did not get around to making our "snow cream" before it truly was "Snow Ice Cream" because I was lazy and didn't make it when the snow was soft and powdery. I have a feeling this ice cream would've been better made with that fresh snow. Also, this does not freeze well. Gabe was resilient and continued to eat the frozen ice cream for a while, but it's kinda like re-freezing a blizzard from Dairy's just not the same. 

So, there you have it. Try making some "Snow Cream" for yourself - if you have some snow. Especially if it's soft snow. And enjoy! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day Crafts

Looking for something fun to do with your little one for Valentine's Day? I have a few ideas that I've discovered and have tried with my young son.

First: Toilet Paper Roll Heart Stamp. All you need is an empty toilet paper roll, paper and paint.

We actually started out by doing another craft with cereal and glue. I took a piece of paper, put on glue in the shape of a heart and had my son trace it with cereal. The hardest part was that the glue wasn't sticky enough at first, so I had to help him a bit to be sure they didn't fall off. Once it was dry, they were secure, but it had to be dry.

After we got the cereal all on in the heart shape, we decided to fill it in with more cereal. So, I put more glue on the inside of the heart and Cade had a great time laying cereal down in the heart-confined area. And, you may notice that in both pictures it appears that he was also snacking at the time. What could be better than snacking and crafting with your craft!

Cade was quite pleased with his masterpiece.

But, moments later, he was bored with this masterpiece and wanted to improve upon it. Hence, the adding of toilet paper roll heart stamps. Thankfully, we had just run through a roll and I hadn't done my housewifely duties of throwing the empty roll away. Finally, my laziness paid off! I bent the toilet paper roll into a heart shape, which was super easy. Seriously, fold it in half - that'll basically do the trick.

Some blogs I read recommend putting tape across the top of the heart on the TP roll, but Cade didn't have a lot of trouble and it didn't get too badly bent out of the shape I had put it in, but you could try putting tape across to make sure it's secured for more than five minutes of use. 

After that, all you do is put some paint on a paper plate, make sure to coat the heart with paint thoroughly. Then, start stamping!

Once completed, you will have a beautiful, gawdied up piece of art that you will want to treasure forever because it was made by your littles. :) 

Next Valentine's Day Craft: Heart Puppy Dog

You may remember that I posted about something similar to this last valentine's day. But this is a simpler version for the younger kiddos. My friend, Michaela, gave me this idea when I saw her picture on Facebook, so I just had to replicate it as best I could with my boy.

All you need is some construction paper and glue - and anything else you want to use to bedazzle your pup. I didn't use a pattern at all, so just free hand cut out hearts. You will need a large heart for the face, a medium heart for the ears (that is then cut in half), a medium heart for the nose, two little hearts for the eyes and little tiny hearts for the pupils, and a oval-ish shape for the tongue.

Now all the hard work is done. Cade badly wanted to glue everything on himself, but that actually meant gluing everything on himself. So, that was unsuccessful. However, I did help him and then it worked out beautifully.

Once everything was glued on, Cade got to put stickers all over his heart puppy and then he got to paint it too. We don't do anything either gawdy it up, or you go home! haha. Anyway, this was a very quick project, it took very little time but was loads of fun for my son....the nudist.

There you have it! Two (or quite possibly three) simple, fun, easy crafts to do with your little ones that will be entertaining and sweet and something you can treasure forever. And you don't even have to be very crafty to do it! Woohoo!

So, from me and my family, and especially Cade (my little wannabe cupid) - Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snow Play!

Christmas is over, but winter has kicked into high gear. All over the country, there is a cold front that has hit. Well, at least it has in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in I can't recall how long, we have over a foot of snow at my house. I realize that about 20 miles south of us, they were hit hard with snow just a month ago, but we had just a dusting at that time. This time, we have actual, genuine snow accumulation at our house! 12 inches and counting! One of the amazing things about snow: it wears kids out! I mean, it's like the best outside activity ever! I decided, after the coldness started to kick in, but my desire to bring my kids back inside hadn't kicked in yet, that I should come up with some fun outdoor snow activities. In steps Pinterest to save the day, yet again. I found a blog that talked about warm ways to play with the snow. Well, I adjusted the idea a bit and kept the kids outdoors. To check out the blog, go here

Photo from Pinterest

I did three different activities with my nephew and my son. First, we did some painting in the snow. The blog recommended just some paintbrushes and some colored water - so I gave it a try. I filled up two ice cube trays with water and food coloring and brought it outside for the boys. They were ecstatic to give it a try. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that the snow we had was too powdery, not icy enough and too deep, so we scraped off some of the snow and the boys painted on the patio.

The boys had fun with this, but it wasn't all that successful. I think it'd work better with snow that is a little more packed. Gabe found a fun way to play with it though: sprinkling it on a rock.

Cade had fun too, although he didn't actually make anything - for his little 2.5 year old self, he had a blast.

Next, I made up two spray bottles filled with water and food coloring for the boys to spray.

I think if I used more food coloring, the color may have been a bit more vibrant - but it still was fun for them.

The boys got more enjoyment out of this than they did with the paint, but they still had fun. Lastly, we made a target out of a garbage bag and tried throwing snowballs at it. 

The snow, again, was far too powdery - so making snowballs for it was nearly impossible, so this little game didn't work so well, but it was fun to try just the same. 

So, there you have it. Some fun ideas to try out for your winter wonderland. Nothing super awesome, but good enough and entertaining enough for the littles. And just for kicks, here are some pictures of me and my babies. Enjoy the snowfall!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

AAA Batteries and Tinfoil

And now for another edition of the Pinterest Test, fail series! Recently, I found a post on Pinterest that if you put tinfoil and AAA batteries where AA batteries go, it'll work. Naturally, I had to give this method a try.

Photo from Pinterest
So, I took the well-working AA batteries out of my computer mouse and tried it. This is what the back of the mouse looks like when the batteries are working - see the little tiny green light above the green "on" switch? If the batteries are dead that won't light up. My mouse was obviously a good device to try this on since there's a tell-tale sign as to whether or not it will work.

I got a bit of tin foil, wrapped the AAA batteries up and stuffed them as best I could into the mouse; being sure that the batteries, the foil and the connector thingamajig were all touching. No success.

Next, I tried using one AA battery and one AAA battery with foil - just for kicks. Again, to no avail.

No tiny, happy green light here...
So, I went back to my good ol' standby, ever faithful (until they die) AA batteries. And my mouse purred back to life. That's kinda of an odd sentence...a mouse purring...anyway...

As far as I can tell, for this average gal, this is a fail. Maybe if I invested a ridiculous amount of time I may have gotten it to work, but I am not lacking that much in AA batteries and I'm fairly certain they aren't that much cheaper when you consider the amount of time you have to put in to making the batteries work - that is, if it could actually work. So...there's my two cents. Stick with the AA batteries - less hassle and works like a charm.

As an added treat, because I didn't give you any cool new trick to try - check out the post that this idea came from - there are other ideas on there that I know work wonders, so you could have some fun looking at that, if nothing else. Check it out here.

UPDATE: A friend of mine, posted this comment, so I thought I'd share: As an expert on the subject of using the wrong size batteries in things (my D cell mag-lite is currently powered by AAAs and duct tape) I can say that your failure is likely a result of a short circuit in your tin-foiling. The batteries are most likely wired in series on the mouse interior, which means the foil on the + side should not be touching one another in your solution. Your second attempt (with one AA and one AAA) was more likely to work in this case, but since it did not, I can only speculate that the foil was touching the metal at the top the slot of the opposite battery, creating the same short circuit. Get some tape into the mix, to isolate the connections, and you'll probably have more success.

So, I stand corrected. I may have to try this method - but in the meantime, I will be content to just use my good ol' AA batteries.

A Vinyl-Made T-shirt Of Your Own Design

Recently, I had a friend ask me to make her a shirt using a design that she had created, so I thought I'd walk you through the process of how to do this for yourself! Here is what needs to happen - we need to get this design onto this shirt.

First thing's first, scan in the design and save it to your computer in jpg format. Once that's done, import it into your Silhouette Studio. To do this, open up your Silhouette Studio,

Once it's open, drag your scanned image onto the page.

As you can see, the image is much to big as is, so we need to reduce the size. To do this, you will zoom out 2-3 times so you can see the entire image. To zoom out, press the minus sign magnifying glass.

Once it is zoomed out enough to see your whole image, scale it down by clicking on the image and then grabbing a corner of the image until you get it to the size you want.

After that comes the fun part - tracing the image! First, click the "fit to window" button (which is the last button on the right from the zoom out button.) This will bring your image back to a more easy-to-use and see size.

Now, you are going to trace your image, to do this, go over to the right side of your silhouette studio program and select the box with the blue "x" in it.

After you get there, your right side bar should look like this:

Click on "Select Trace Area." Then, select the area you want traced. The area you want traced will be highlighted with yellow. Unselect "High Pass Filter" (which is in the toolbar on the right.)

Once you have unselect "High Pass Filter" your image should look like this:

At this point, you will want to select "Trace" from the right hand menu. There will be red trace lines around your image and you can then move the rest of the image away from what you have traced. This is also a good way to confirm that the traced image is how you want it to be.

Go ahead and delete the original image now and measure your shirt to see how large you want the design to be. A lot of times, I just measure the shirt without the image, but my friend wanted this image to be fairly true to size that she made it, so I didn't necessarily need to measure the shirt.

After you have the image at the size you are wanting it, you are going to need to mirror the image. To do this, you will right click on the image, and select "Flip Horizontally."

Your image will flip and look backwards. Something similar to this:

Once you have your image the size you want it, and are ready to cut your vinyl, lay it on your cutting mat shiny side down. I have read that you don't need to use a mat at this point - but I prefer to, just to be on the safe side. 

Be sure your image is the size you want it to be, and then get ready to cut! I bought this vinyl from and they have a reference page for what settings to use on a Silhouette or A Cricut for cutting the vinyls they sell. To see their settings, go here. Once you have your settings right, do a test cut to be on the safe side if you like - or, if you like to live life on the wild side, go ahead and cut. 

After your image has been cut, you will want to weed out the parts you don't want. 

To see a video on this and the ironing on, you can check it out here. After you have weeded out the vinyl you don't want to use, you can set your image on the clothing you are wanting to apply it to. 

With the vinyl that I used, I just left the clear top on and got to work ironing.

I ironed for 15-20 seconds all over the shirt and then peeled off the top clear layer. If it doesn't come off easily, keep ironing.

Voila! It's done! We made a masterpiece shirt of our own design! wasn't actually my design - it was my friend's design. Ten points if you know what her design is in reference to! :)