March 29, 2011

Picky Eaters

Chances are if you have kids, you know what a picky eater is, though those that are truly very lucky skip over this entire chapter in child raising (I'm so jealous if you fall into this category!!)

   I have one, that will go out of their way to not only challenge me but refuse to eat if something is mentioned at the dinner table that she doesn't like. It doesn't even have to be in the meal itself, it just has to be mentioned and the fork will drop, arms will cross, chin up to the ceiling with the words "I'm not eating this" flying out of their mouth and the battle has begun.
  Throughout the battles each and every day, I started being sneaking about hiding things within the meal, like vegetables they'd never touch. I made funny looking pancakes and said I colored them when really, they had pureed carrots in them, piled eggs into mountains hiding the tomatoes, hid the peas into sauces, grated sweet potatoes in a cheesy casserole, shredded zucchini into muffins and so much more just to get my picky eater back on track. It worked, for the first week. Once my other kids figured out what was going on they started blurting out the items in each meal and I was back at a big fat zero, those arms cross, chin went right back up and that picky eater wouldn't budge. That's how it was a year ago, up until one trip seemed to change everything.

A Trip to the Store!!

Kids want to feel like they have a part in things, they want to feel important, they need to be involved. Why not involve them in the meals you cook each day? It was our own field trip. We started in the Deli, where the kids sampled meats and cheeses, picking their favorites. Working from the left to the right of the store, and skipping right over the bakery (ha) we ended up to the vegetables and fruits nearly an hour later, tasting, sampling and picking out what the kids liked the best. Not an easy task I'll tell you that right now, but the end result was happy kids and one picky eater smiling at the idea that they picked their own food out.

 My Picky Eater finally ate with no complaints! Finally a solution, once and for all the battle had ended. I won a battle, I won! I felt like jumping up and down, doing my own happy dance. Felt like it was the end of all true battles, Mom Vs. Picky Eater, over!

Or not. It's a hit or miss a lot of days, some days it's as if nothing changed other days it's just the complete opposite. Kids are crazy like that.  Having the kids pick out some of their food has sparked an interest on trying new things with them. It's been a full year now trying new recipes nearly everyday, I've gotten into the habit of picking up a new food item each week not just making a new recipe all the time, and the kids are willing to try a lot more things as well because of it. My Picky eater surprises me at times, but we still have our battles here and there. The important thing is, they are not put off by trying new things and that's a huge hurdle to overcome. Kids learn eating habits while they are young, I feel if they can at least try something new, they are on the right track for better eating habits as adults. In the end, it's a win-win for all of us. :)

Do you battle with a picky eater? What ways do you deal with them?


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March 28, 2011

Happy Monday!

Spring break is over, and there's no rain in sight! After being cooped up with storms all week long, the kids practically ran out the door!  It's a Happy Monday so far :)


Even our fruit is happy!



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March 25, 2011

Time to go Fishing- Craft & Game

It's still raining! The storms just keep on coming, and it's keeping us stuck inside. It's not always easy to keep the kids entertained. There's only so many times you can watch a movie,  and the game Twister starts to end up in fights and crying so I had to figure something out and fast!

I remembered a simple game, one that I played as a kid in Sunday school class. Magnet Fishing ! It would let the kids be creative keep them busy and have some fun, so odds were in my favor! Just as long as they didn't start using the poles as swords.......


Indoor Fishing the Magnet Fishing Game -

Supplies you need:

Poster board
String
Scissors
Wooden dowels for poles
Paper clips
Fish template
Magnets (watch those smaller kiddos with the magnets!)
Crayons

Directions:

After printing out the Fish Template, trace it onto some poster board paper and cut out how many fish you want. Have the kids color and design their own fish while you get the poles ready. Tie the string around the end of the dowel, and tie the other end around the magnet (make sure it'll pick up the paper clip and it's strong enough or the kids will end up getting frustrated very quickly!)
 Once the kids have finished decorating their fish place the paper clips onto each of the fish.



Your ready to go fishing!


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March 24, 2011

Give a helping hand

A wonderful friend of mine has some really cute Recycled Magazine Bracelets for sale at her Etsy store. All profits go to Red Cross to help Japan!!!


They are super cute, she'll randomly pick from the pile and ship them out to you so hurry on over there and check it out before they are all gone! They are $1 each :)


She also has some Recycled Magazine Earrings as well, $1 each, profits also go to Red Cross to aid Japan!

Recycled Magazine Earrings PROFITS to be donated to help japan





 
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A plan for the garden

 With a small area left to use as far as planting I came up with an idea for the beans and peas. Last year I had them against my kids swing set, but the kids wanted only sunflowers there this year. After Flipping through a garden magazine I came across some bean and pea poles, which were about thirty nine dollars each! All it really was, was a pole and some string. Why pay when you can make it yourself?
I had these long poles that were never used last year , why I don't know but they were perfect for my idea. We picked them up at Ace, but am not sure of the price.

 The plan was to bolt these two poles together which were a little less than 5ft long each. Always needing a project my husband happily agreed to the plan. He bolted them together in two places, setting the second pole in about 2ft 4in against the other with the bolts  5in -  in on each end securing the poles together.

Making a 7ft 3-1/3in pole.

Now, he will use his handy dandy tools to sharpen one end of the pole, making it easier to stick into the ground. We're thinking about a foot , maybe a foot and a half, that way we have about a 6ft pole. I had him drill some holes into one end, which will be the top.

 I will use some nylon string to thread through each and bring all the way down to the ground kind and secured with garden stakes making a clone shape support system.  It will make a circle around the pole, in which each pea/bean plant would be planted by. This way while they grow, they would climb up each string , little space yet alot of plants hopefully. :)
It will look something like this, only without the bag at the bottom. My plants will just be put into the ground.
Bean Grow Bags

Once it ever stops raining I can try it out outside!!


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March 23, 2011

Rainy day? More like Rainy Weeks!

It's still raining here, which makes most days chilly, and sometimes even gloomy. It's rained so much that the school playground is flooded, as well as our backyard, front yard, side yard, you name it it's in water. It becomes a challenge to be able to and from where ever we need to go and make it back home half dry. If we can keep at least our shirt dry, we've won, but in most cases by the time we make it back in the front door we have water pouring out of our boots. How, I don't know, but it certainly becomes normal. Each and every time one of my kids pulls off their boots, tips it over and watches a bunch of water pour out I can't stop laughing. It's impossible not to, considering we've avoided most puddles, and the deep ones I had to pick the kids up and carry across so they wouldn't end up going knee deep in them. So the question is, how are their boots filling up with so much water? Tricky puddles, never ending rain, it's a challenge you just never saw coming.

 With soggy and soaked kids, they need something warm and hearty to have for dinner. I'm always turning to soups, stews, and comfort foods. One of my all time favorites was my Mom's Shepherd's Pie. Oh, how I love this dish! 


Shepherd's Pie

1lb beef lean ground beef
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 (1oz) envelope au jus beef gravy mix, prepare according to instructions on pkg. Then divide
freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cups mashed potatoes (you can use instant, it would be faster, but real mashed potatoes are so much better! )
Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In large skilled, saute beef with onion, garlic and rosemary. Break meat up into small bits. Cook until onions are soft and meat has browned. Spoon off excess fat. Add 1/2 cup of gravy and black pepper to meat; Mix well. In shallow 2 quart casserole or deep dish pie plate, spread meat mixture evenly on the bottom. Cover with Mashed potatoes, spreading evenly to the edge of the dish to seal. Make a criss-cross design on top with a fork and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 376F for 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden. Serve with remaining gravy.


Now, there's so many ways I end up cooking this, the base as always stays the same, beef with onions and garlic. Most times, the day before I've cooked a meal with beef already, So I end up using the left overs for this dish. Not only did I just save some money, I just saved half the time in preparing it. I also add some veggies, chopped up carrots, celery, peas even green beans cut up in small bites. You can use frozen easily. Since the beef is already cooked, prepare the gravy , spoon it in with the meat and into the dish. Add the veggies you want, cover with potatoes. Cook the same time.



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March 20, 2011

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Just the name alone makes you hungry doesn't it?

 I made this my daughters birthday cake last week, and it was so good! A friend passed the recipe on to me, but not sure where it originally came from. It's a little on the sweet side, but oh so creamy and moist as well. Such a  nice change from the normal cakes I make. The frosting and filling should be made before hand, as the filling need to chill for several hours.

 Buttermilk Filling :

1 (1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk, divided
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup  chilled heavy whipping cream
Directions for filling

1.In a medium bowl, combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold buttermilk. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes.
2.In a medium saucepan, combine remaining 1 cup buttermilk and sugars. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour a small amount of hot buttermilk mixture into gelatin mixture to soften, whisking well. Whisk in vanilla. Pour softened gelatin mixture into remaining hot buttermilk mixture, whisking well to remove any lumps. Pour into a bowl, and refrigerate, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until mixture reaches room temperature.
3.Beat cream  in a large bowl at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold into room-temperature buttermilk mixture. Cover tightly, and refrigerate until set, 4 to 6 hours.



Buttermilk Frosting :
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup whole buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions

1 Beat butter in a large bowl at medium-high speed until fluffy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar and buttermilk, beating at medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla, beating well.



The Cake Recipe:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole buttermilk

Directions for cake

1.Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with nonstick baking spray with flour. Line pans with parchment rounds, and spray again.
2.In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well.
3.In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating well after each addition. Divide batter among prepared pans.
4.Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans cool completely. Assemble the cakes with the filling and then frost with the buttermilk frosting.

Enjoy!!
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March 17, 2011

Nothing fancy

You don't have to have anything fancy to start a garden. In fact, I go out of my way to come up with new ways to go around having to buy things. Having four crazy and ever growing kids who need new shoes and pants every few weeks has made me even more frugal then ever. Call me crazy but I'm not spending money on a mini green house that self waters, a heating pad to keep them warm or even a Master Seed Planter. Unless your planting a huge field, save your money and just stick your finger in the dirt, then drop the seed in. Congratulations, you are your very own Master Seed Planter! If you want to start a garden, prepare to get dirty, and take joy in it at the same time.

   Starting to plant your seeds is easy and fun. There's plenty of ways to do them. I've started them in paper cups, plastic cups and even in plastic bags. There's no wrong way to start, heck when I was in middle school I did a science fair project growing plants in a drawer in the dark no less, and yes they grew! They didn't last very long, but the point is they grew ;-)

A good frugal and easy way to start your seeds is using eggshells, or even just using the egg cartons
 themselves. They hold these Soil Pellets perfectly, dont' have them? No problem, the egg cartons hold dirt perfectly on their own, so you don't need to go out of your way to buy anything other than dirt. I've planted half my garden in the eggshells and half in the pellets which I found at my local nursery on sale.



My Cucumbers, yay! Happy Planting :)



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March 16, 2011

Irish Soda Bread Memories

The first time I ever had Irish Soda Bread, (that I remember anyways) was at the Dutchess County Fair with my Mother. Each year I got the chance to help set up the Culinary food display, but before it was set up the food must come in!
      It was a wild day, the amount of food, the kinds of food that came in, fudge, cookies, jam, bread, did I mention fudge? Canned items of all sorts, and I do mean "all". One year we saw purple pickles, no joke, purple pickles! The judges didn't even attempt to taste it. After all the entries were taken in, labeled and set into their categories correctly the judging began, sometimes on the same day or the next.
    We were able to watch over several hours all the foods being tasted and the one huge category that always seemed to have a dozen or more entries was Irish Soda Bread. Green ones too, again, not kidding! That was not the strangest thing we ever saw even, but that's another story. The bread though, really amazed me, that this one round bread seemed to attract so many entries. It must have been amazing bread to have everyone enter it! Whenever the food was judged we would always glance over the recipe and still it didn't make any sense, there weren't any special ingredients. Some of them added different things , like currants, or caraway seeds, flour on top, or sugar on top, powdered sugar even, still though it didn't make much sense that such a bread would attract so much. That is, until I made it myself.

   The way I see it is, it really was popular because it's quick and easy to do, though I know a lot of them really truly loved the bread all in it's own. If you keep your pantry stocked, you'd have everything you need to make it any day. My kids love to make this bread, it's that simple to make, and if I remember correctly a lot of those entries for this category were in fact made by kids. Come to think of it, that green one had to be a kids idea. Had to be!


This recipe came from a Blue Ribbon winner, Brian Dayte at the Dutchess County Fair, in 2004. From the book Blue Ribbon Recipes- 693 Award Winners from State and County Fairs, by Barbara Greenman  (I was there that year too!)

Ingredients

3 cups flour plus more for kneading
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1-1/2 buttermilk


Directions:
 Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour a glass or ceramic pie plate. (I used a foil one)
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder , baking soda, salt, caraway seeds and raisins in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and stir just until moistened.
Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Using floured hands, knead and form dough into a round loaf and place it in the greased pan. Cute a cross in the top of the loaf with a knife. Sprinkle flour and water on top of the loaf. Bake for 50 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack and cook. Makes 1 loaf.

I had two recipes out and added sugar on top instead of flour and water. The other changes I used from the  recipe were adding butter, one stick of cold butter cut up with a pastry blender to resembles coarse crumbs, add into the flour mixture before the buttermilk. The only other difference in the two recipes were the amount of flour - an extra 1/4 cup in the recipe with butter and 1-1/3 cup buttermilk instead of the 1-1/2. So all the recipes I've seen have very small changes in them. Since I'm not much of a fan of the taste myself, I let my husband tell me if it's good, he likes it made this way.

Enjoy!

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Leprechaun Trap

Get the kids and supplies ready! We're going to catch us a Leprechaun!


The main supplies are anything you can spare and use for this. Besides a Shoe box, the rest is what the kids come up with themselves. All my kids had a hand in this simple craft, we made four pretty much all the same.

Supplies :

One Shoe Box
Construction paper
Crayons
Scissors
Glue and lots of it
Gold Glittered pipe cleaners for the gold, or anything shiny, as Leprechauns are a greedy bunch. Use coins, or chocolate gold pieces, we used colored sprinkles one year.
We used an old Glue cap to make our pot of gold, but you can just curl up some paper an inch wide and use that to hold the gold
Craft sticks
White pom poms or cotton balls for clouds


Either have the kids cut colored construction paper or color  some white paper for both the sky and the ground. My oldest sized it perfectly and cut it while the younger ones colored away.

 Take another white paper and cut out a rainbow that will end up being glued to the top of the box, to the bottom. We used an 8x11 and went from corner to corner. Have the kids color it in after it's cut that way their wonderful art won't be cut if it's too big ;-)
    We took an old glue cap, for the pot of gold and cut a strip of paper to wrap around it, have the kids color it before they glue it around the cap. Take the glitter pipe cleaners and have the kids curl them up around their fingers to make little loops. Remember those Leprechaun's love coins, so lure them in with something just like it! We used about 4 and placed them inside the cap, this will be the gold.

  Take the rainbow and glue it to the top of the box, and the bottom. We folded a small two inch size paper to make a small flap for the rainbow, glue to together so you can open and close the box with the rainbow staying attached. Tell the kids the bigger and brighter the rainbow the better chance the Leprechauns won't miss it!

  For the trap, we used green craft sticks, cut in half. This got a little tricky with glue, so we ended up using tape to keep them down in the form of a square. This is the trap. Make it how ever tall or short the kids want it and make a cover for it. We took three sticks cut in half and taped them together for the cover. Glue the pot of gold in the box, and lean the top of the trap against the side. Explain to the kids when the Leprechaun tries to pull up the gold the top will fall right on him! The kids always get a kick out of it.
    To make some fluffy clouds glue some white pom poms in the sky.


 Your Trap should be finished! It should dry a couple hours so set it aside.  After you set the trap the night before St. Patrick's day and the kids are asleep, sprinkle some glitter for the "leprechaun footprints" all around the gold. Sometimes I drop M & M's around saying the Leprechaun was trying so hard to get the Gold that they fell out of his pocket. After all those little guys are very hard to capture!
Have Fun!!


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March 15, 2011

How many Nuts?

Can you guess how many Hazelnuts are in a jar of Nutella?



 More than 50!

Did you also know that Nutella was a Kosher product? I was presented with these simple facts, and many others to share with some of my fellow Moms for a Nutella Mommy Party. It was a blast, as any other get together would be, but sharing the same stories about our very own picky eaters came to one conclusion. We needed to give our kids a little taste test. With a jar of Nutella, strawberries and a slice of whole wheat bread, we turned some picky eaters into new breakfast eaters.
   As a Mom, I know my kids need to get in their breakfast and start the day off well. Kids who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their nutrient intake recommended over the course of  day, over the ones that skip their first meal.  Eating breakfast also decreases the chances of snaking throughout the day, and for kids it's important to teach them healthy eating habits. My kids are more likely to have a good day when starting it with breakfast even if it's just toasted bread and orange juice. They are less likely to end up getting restless mid morning out of hungry and are able to focus better which makes their day my good day as well. Who wants to get notes from their teacher saying your child is sluggish each and every morning? Certainly not me, but I've gotten a few of them. Since making Nutella a part of our morning though, it's been far and rare to get notes .

 Make a habit of getting up in time to eat with your kids, making a balanced breakfast as well as spending quality time with the kids. Make it a family event!  Don't skip out yourself either, what good is a parent if we're not healthy or starting your day out right? Be the role model and set the example of not skipping the most important meal of the day.

Here are some simply and easy ways to mix up your breakfast time or even snack time with the kids!

Make a Waffle Sandwich!

Homemade is the best of course but take two whole grain waffles and spread one side with Nutella. Place some fresh fruit like strawberries or blueberries, even some coconut and top with remaining Waffle. This is a great one for families on the run, or busy mornings, simply wrap it up and take it to go!


Roll it on up!
We make these Roll ups for snacks and it quickly becomes the favorite! Dress it up with dried fruit or fresh berries.


Encourage the kids to make their own Breakfast sandwich with Nutella, either whole grain toast, or a English muffin, even a bagel. Fresh or dried fruit with some milk make for another quick yet nutritional breakfast.

Make Breakfast part of your families day! What's your favorite way to eat Nutella? Mine is still the Smore Sandwich :)


*Disclosure- I received Nutella products in order to throw a Mommy Party and write a review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write an positive  review, Any and all opinions are and will always be my own.The kids left hungry for more Nutella, and the Mommies enjoyed their gift bags! *
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March 14, 2011

Party Girl!

My Youngest turns 2 today! 


 Hard to believe this was her just two years ago.


Where on earth does the time go? Kids grow up way to fast! I remember cleaning the house for weeks before she was born, picking out a perfect blanket for her, which she still clings to today. The day I went into labor with her I just wanted to go home, then when I did get home all I wanted to do was go back. I came home to 3 kids with pink eye. Fun, oh so much fun with a newborn!
Baby girl had this shrill cry she used to give when ever she woke up. It scared the crap out of me! She didn't do that at the hospital, she barely made a noise in the hospital. So coming home, and hearing this shrieking coming from her, was not something I was ready for. With three kids ahead of her, you'd think I'd be used to it, but she was unlike any of my other kids. This one sounded as if a cat was dying in our back room, for the first day home I swore there was a cat outside screaming bloody murder. Nope, that was my baby girl. She still screams now, only it's high pitched, and makes your eyeballs flip around in your head. In other words, nothing has changed as far as that goes. She is the funnest little thing though, she makes the best expressions, says the cutest things and gives "huggies". Just don't cross her, or else you'll end up hearing the screeching sound again.

All my kids have their own personalities and it's amazing, I love watching them grow up. Each of them have dislikes and likes of course, some make jokes, others just make the funnest faces ever. The one thing they all have in common though , is they give such excellent hugs. How can you resist a hug from a smiling kid? It's impossible, and I don't recommend ever trying to ignore those little stretched out arms waiting for a hug.

I'm off to go hug my birthday girl!
Happy Monday everyone!





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March 12, 2011

Chicken Caprese

This is such an easy recipe, yet it takes simple chicken into a new taste. I made with Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms, and it came out very tasty. You could put this together before you need to bake it as well, I  started the chicken and bacon in an iron skillet and finished it in the oven to toast off the tomato on top of the chicken. After that the cheese just melted all over it and who doesn't like melted cheese!?  The left overs made a great sandwich as well, I cut them in half placed them on toasted bread with fresh tomatoes and it went fast!

This came from a Taste of Home Magazine I got

Ingredients
8 bacon strips
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
4 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese
Directions
Place bacon in an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes or until partially cooked but not crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain.
Place chicken in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan; brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with tomatoes and basil. Wrap each in two bacon strips, arranging bacon in a crisscross.
Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Top with cheese; bake 1 minute longer or until melted.


Enjoy!!


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March 10, 2011

Redbox Deal


Want to score a free Redbox movie? Follow these steps to score free Redbox movies from now until Thursday, March 17.

 If you and it’s your first time renting online, they’ll give you a free one-night online rental credit. Sign up here using this link 

Why? By signing up for an online account, you can see what movies are currently in redbox kiosks near you and reserve your picks to guarantee they’ll still be waiting for you when you get there (until 9 p.m. the next day).

* Redbox will email you a personal web address link

* Share the link with your friends

* Every time someone reserves a movie online through your personal web address, you’ll receive a credit in your online account for a free one-night DVD rental

* If it is your friend’s first time reserving online, they’ll also receive a credit for a free one night rental

* Spread the luck! Email it, post it to Facebook, Tweet about it





Disclosure : I am entering a giveaway for free redbox movies and movie snack packs as a member of the MBC.


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March 9, 2011

Save those Eggshells

There's a lot of uses for Eggs in the garden, no joke, the egg shells keep snails away! I've been crushing up egg shells for years and sprinkling them all over the bottom of the plants. Since I can't do anything else to get rid of snails with kids all around egg shells were the easiest and safest thing to use.

Eggshells also add valuable nutrients to the soil, including Calcium.  Calcium is important for fast growing plants. You can also put them in the bottom of any plant pot instead of stones as they are much lighter and again add value to the soil that the plants need. So the next time you make some scrambled eggs or make a cake save the shells. Rinse them off and let them dry before crushing them. I save shells throughout the winter and use them all spring in the garden for all my plants, (make sure they are crushed though, as if they aren't crushed the shells will break down quicker and loose value. )

I came up with a quick project when we started getting ready to plant our seeds for the garden this year. Since I already use the shells throughout the garden, why not start planting with them too?

The Eggshell project!

What you need for this project

Eggshells
Egg carton
Seeds of choice

Directions:
    Clean and rinse the empty eggshells carefully, set them to dry before use. Using a toothpick or anything small and sharp carefully poke a hole in the bottoms of the shells. Place the shells in the egg carton and fill up with some soil. Water first and then place your seeds according to the seed packet.

Since the eggs won't harm the plant, or soil you can transfer these right out into a bigger pot, or even the ground when the plants are big enough!  The kids can help in this project just make sure they know to be extra careful with the shells. It's a great way to explain how to re-use things as well as not waste when there's uses for them around the house, and in this case the garden. Any extra shells you aren't uses, have them crush them up and they can sprinkle them around the garden as well.




Have Fun!

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March 6, 2011

My Dad's Famous Gumbo

Not sure how old I was when I first learned how to cook this Gumbo.  Remember being handed peppers, sausage and chicken to cut up at the family dinning room table. It was an honor to be able to help cook it, and I was always thrilled to help out with my Dad. It's funny now though, as I dont' ever remember there being a recipe.There may have been, just don't ever remember seeing it. Hard to look past piles of green, red, yellow and orange diced peppers staring at you, cause you know they are about to be made into something completely yummy and that's all you can think about.

Now as for the recipe, it appears I never make it the same, not like that's any surprise either. Stews,soups and gumbo are one of the major things you can and will throw stuff into and have it come out great most the time. I've added shrimp, different peppers, different sausage types , it always comes out amazing and fills the house up with a wonderful aroma no one can pass up!

The one thing you can't skip though is the spice. That's Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning , just like my Dad's spicy popcorn, it's the main key to making this dish.

My Dad thankfully sent me his recipe (go figure there is one!) to me the other day, as I've been trying to figure out just how I even made it. My additions are added in the ** 




Ken’s Famous Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Ingredients
1 ½ lb boneless/skinless Chicken
1 ½ lb Hillshire Farms Turkey Sausage ** I normally use half beef, and half turkey, or even half the new smoked chicken by Hillshire Farms**
1 Each Green, Red, Yellow, & Orange Bell Pepper **If your after more spice add one diced up Jalapeno pepper**
3 Stalks Celery
2 Large Onions
4 to 5 Cloves of Garlic
10 -12 New Potatoes
*I add about 2 cups chopped carrots , 1lb of mushrooms and chopped green onions once in awhile. Carrots and mushrooms can be added when everything else is added, green onions can be added at anytime.* Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (to taste)
All purpose flour for thickening

Directions

(Each time you see add spice I’m talking about the Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning and I just cover the top of what ever is in the pot at the time. The number of times can vary depending on how spicy you like it. For what I call regular I add spice 4 or 5 times, for my favorite level of spice I add it 8 or 9 times)

Cut Chicken into 1 ½ to 2 inch pieces, place in large pot, sprinkle the spice over the tops of the chicken to cover. Start browning, stir once and a while to ensure cooking on all sides, and add more spice about halfway through.  Dice one of the Onions, add to the browning chicken. Cut Sausage into ¾ inch slices, add to browned Chicken, and sprinkle with more spice again.
Dice up all four peppers , celery and Garlic;  Mix together and add to the pot;  Sprinkle with more spice.
Add New Potatoes . Adding just enough water to cover all the ingredients, sprinkle with spice.

Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally; Dice up the last Onion and add after 15 minutes; Sprinkle with spice. Continue to simmer until the Potatoes are done ( I cook mine about 1-1/2 hours to 2 hours on med-low ,)
After the Potatoes are done thicken with flour and water, cook it another 5 to 10 minute then serve with Bread and or rice.

* Note about Spice. You don't have to add that much spice, you can skip once or twice as I do since my kids don't enjoy it. In the end I just dump more spice in my own bowl and it's perfect. Taste it as you go and add to your liking. *
 A Major Thanks goes out to my Dad for teaching me how to make this dish :) It's an all time favorite of mine and it's made about once a month throughout the year.  :-)

 Enjoy Everyone!!
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March 3, 2011

Wire Crafts!

Since it's been raining we've found new ways to busy ourselves inside. New crafts, new projects as well as new recipes. I've been planning the garden, which is mapped out and all into place. Some seeds are already planted this week as they take longer to germinate, other will wait another week or so before I start them. You should plant them about 6 weeks indoors before the last frost date, or outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. With the crazy way the weathers been around here, I'm gearing up to be keeping them inside for awhile. Last year they were pelted with hail, several times. Not a pretty sight to see poor defenseless seedlings bent over in half.

While planning the garden , I came up with another project, this one started when I saw this wonderful garden sculpture of just beads, wire and marbles several weeks ago. My kids are always picking up beads, buttons, rocks, just little items that end up filling up a box and sitting around. So I suddenly had an idea of what to do with all those little items that my kids collect!

This is what I came up with, My Wire Butterfly

I made a couple others as well, that hopefully will be made into one piece in the end. Still not sure, I'm just being crafty and making them as I can. You'll all just have to stay tuned to see the project when it's finished :)

Supplies needed to make a wire butterfly

beads of different shapes and colors
wooden thread spool or any other beads that can be long enough for the body
12 gauge crafting wire
18 gauge crafting wire
wire cutters (do not use scissors)
nylon jaw pliers

I didn't measure these out which I should have. Whatever piece your using for the body, before cutting the wire, thread the wire up through it, leave about two inches for the antennas. Now make a small loop for the bottom wing to the butterfly and just an extra inch to wrap around the body. This is how I measured how much I needed, after that step I took the wire back out and cut wire to match it's length .  The same steps are made to make the top two bigger wings, only you don't leave so much hanging out. I looped about the half inch or extra wire around the bottom two wings. 

Step one, Thread the wire up through the body of your butterfly, make a small loop , before wrapping the end around the body. If the end piece is in front you can always cut it or curl it securely around the body so it doesn't stick out.  Repeat to make the second wing.



Twist the two wires together to secure on the back of the spool

Repeat the same two steps for the bottom wings only instead of threading up the spool, thread down so the ends are sticking out the bottom. Loop to make the wing, and curl around the body just as the other wings. Once the wings are in place, twist the wire hanging out the bottom of the body around the bottom small wings.
I used two small beads for the antennas, just thread them on,  using pliers twist the wire gently around to make a small loop and secure the beads in place.
Using 18 gauge craft wire (I used blue and red) twist around the wings in different directions. If your using beads and any other items to decorate the butterfly place them on the wire before you start bending as it won't be easy once the wire is bent. The kids can do most of this, but the edges can be sharp. Do not use scissors, use wire cutters. Once you've completed wrapping and using the beads twist the wire up in the back and make sure to flatten it down against the body so it's not poking out. Now you have a Wire butterfly!

Stay tuned for other other wire crafts :)
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