July 31, 2011

Weekend Project- Make some Cute Bee Walnut Magnets

My kids pick up so much on our walks, rocks, grass, weeds, nut shells. Anything that looks cool to them they bring it home and put it into a collection. I've since come up with ways to use some of the things, like the beads I've turned them into a few wire crafts I've posted about.
 The walnut shells can be turned into cute little bug magnets. I find them super easy to make bee's.
Supplies Needed

Walnut shells any size would due
Colored Craft wire, I used black
Wire cutters (do not use scissors)
Hot Glue Gun
Magnet big enough to fit on the back

Paint your design on the shell, waiting for the paint tro dry before you paint the eyes on. It only took twenty minutes, before I did the eyes.While it's drying measure your wire out to the length you want the wings to be, I cut mine to less than 2 inches.Bend them the way you want them for the wings.

Once the paint is completely dried, flip it over and hot glue the magnet in place, and place the wings in as well making sure the ends are in the glue well enough to hold. Set and leave to comletely cool.

This is a fun project for the kids to do! Turns their treasures into something to keep forever. You could easily make them into ladybugs as well. :) Enjoy!
Read more ...

July 29, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday - I want Some Sawdust Pie!

I could make jokes about the name of the recipe all day, but it's not as funny as it is perfectly fitting for what I had planned on making it for.
Been on the hunt for a pie that was different lately, and sure enough this one fit in way too well. This week my husband is finishing up the second bench to give to his mother for her birthday in a few weeks. Next he will start on the matching chair to go with my bench in my garden.(If you missed that you can see it here from start to finish)
He’s a contractor and estimator but true to heart a carpenter. He makes so many things for our home as well as other's and hasn't had a day off in months, including working weekends away from home. This pie not only fit in with the project(s) he is doing as there’s just saw dust everywhere right now in his work area, the entire name fit perfectly to honor him

This pie is a cross between Pecan and Coconut, thick, sweet and full of a fun story . Sawdust pie, given it’s name most likely from it’s looks . I came across this in a little torn up worn pie book my mother nabbed at a yard sale, and though there isn’t much of anything said near it’s name, it’s from an Amish Community. The Amish are known for pies, as well as their craftsmanship and the simplicity of things. They also give their recipes some pretty interesting names, which makes for a great conversation  at the dinner table. So here it is, a Pie to Honor my Husband and all his hard craftsmen work.
Sawdust Pie

Recipe for for a Single Crust Pie of your choice. *a very easy one by Better Homes and Garden is listed below

Ingredients for Pie
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup egg whites (5-7 egg whites) Measure the eggs in a measuring cup. The recipe said 4 egg whites, but that wasn't enough to make a cup.
*I also added half a cup of chocolate chips, as my husband prefers Pecan pie with the chocolate. This pie was made 3 different ways, and the one with the chocolate chips was his favorite. The other way was with a peanut butter graham cracker mixture I had left over from making the peanut butter bars, which the kids relaly liked. The recipe listed is it's original.

Directions for Pie
Preheat the oven to 350F

If your making the pie dough, roll it out to 1/8 inch thickness on a floured surface. Fit the dough to the 9 inch pan and trim the edges and crimp the edges. If you are using pre-made pie dough follow the directions on the box and trim it to fit the 9-inch pie pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, graham cracker crumbs, pecans and sugar. Mix in the egg whites, (do not beat them) Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the pie looks firm around the outside, the middle still make look moist but it will set as it cools. Use foil around the edges of the crust to prevent any burning. Cool on wire rack until the pie is firm which is about 45-50 minutes. Store the leftovers (if there even is any) in a container, the pie will keep but only up to about 3 days.

Single Crust Pie
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
4-5 tablespoons cold water.
In a med. bowl stir the flour and salt, using a pastry blended cut in the shortening until the pieces are pea size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water over part of the mixture and toss it with a fork. Repeat adding 1 tablespoon at a time to the mixture until it's  moistened. Form it into a ball. You can chill it if you want but you don't have to before you roll it out.
 On a lightly floured surface use your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Roll the dough from the center to the edges making a 12 circle. Two easy ways to transfer the dough
1- fold it in half (down the center) carefully,  and fold it in half again so you have a triangle,  Transfer it to the pie pan.  Unfold it and press gently to the pan.
 2- fold an edge of the dough over the rolling pin and gently lift as you slide the pie pan underneath. This way your not moving it far, and part of the dough  is still on the table. This is a perfect way if you tend to over stretch or roll your dough, this way there's less handling.

Enjoy Some Sawdust Pie :)

Read more ...

July 28, 2011

Norton Online Family #NortonOnline

This is a personal review, not something that I was given to review ,  as when we updated our computer Norton came with it. There was an option to use the Online Family Safety Feature, which upon reading seemed like a great idea. Since three of my kids enjoy playing on the computer I thought it would be a great idea to check out some online parent controls from a program that already keeps my computer safe.

Maybe it's just me, and hopefully it really is because I have nothing nice to say about the Norton Online Family. At first it was great, I could select the sites or at least the content I didn't want my kids to access. Well sadly this is where it all started. When you first log in, both Norton and the Family Online protection have already started, it runs in the background like it always does.

When you open a browser and or website depending on what it is, a screen will show you that you cannot get access to it. It will  ask the kids to ask for permission from me which is sent via email ,to enter the site. I thought I would like that, but no. Once I granted access, the same screen came up, blocking the kids. So I would change the "House rules" allowing the certain site (which was Jumpstart.com)  It was still blocked however.

This is the screen that shows up.

I would never be allowed to go onto Blogger either, (which is restricted for the kids) The problem however was,  no matter how I granted access to myself, it would not allow me to be on. There's a feature to turn it off of course,  which requires you to enter your email, and your password. I cannot count how many times it's told me my password was wrong, or that Norton can't access my information so I'd be stuck. Yet I could access my Norton account (same email, same password) I would even be able to change my settings within the Online Family account, yet no matter how I tried to fill in the "turn off" form, it would not let me pass.The information was correct, but according the Norton Family, it was not. After countless times of trying and finally getting it to turn off, I thought my troubles were over.  It was not. Norton Family turned itself back on, within two minutes, so the moment I tried to go to a different website, it would block me once again. This would repeat just to even get into my Yahoo mail. I would be going to read a piece of email and the blocked screen would show up yet again. There's a way to set it so you can have it turned off till the next person logged in (restart the computer) but again, this little feature wasn't working, it didn't just turn itself back on, it completely started blocking me for getting anywhere online.

 It was very frustrating. Monitoring and controlling what your kids do online is something we as parents think about, but I will not sit here trying to fight with a program just to read a piece of email, or even for that matter write this in blogger. I had to write it in Word, get past the blocking page and copy and paste it before Norton Family Safety Reminder turned itself back on, which it did 11 times before I finally gave up.  Hopefully and I really do hope it is just my bad experience, as they had a good idea here. In the end, I removed the Family Online protection, and will just monitor it myself the good old fashion way.

If Norton ever re-did this feature, I would like the bugs (again hopefully this is all it is) fixed, so when you turn something Off, it really stays off. I liked the way you could filter the sites, even add different kids so each kid would have a different set up. No matter how I changed the settings though, turned the monitoring On and or Off, it would never do what it was supposed to do.

It simply just didn't allow me to do anything at all  but get frustrated as well as waste a large amount of my time.
Read more ...

July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Almost 9lbs this thing! Sheesh! It was hiding behind the mustard greens, otherwise I never would have found it.

Read more ...

July 26, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- Pickle Juice, Grab your pickle juice!

I love pickles! Last years pickles weren't all that grand,  but I wasn't about to throw them out! Waste is not an option in this house, it drives me up the wall if something goes to waste. The pickles were used to put into things like salsa, some open face sandwiches, even ontop of pizza. They were more sweet than dill as I wanted but were perfect for potato salads, egg salads and even chicken salad. All the pickles were used, which left the juice. Once again, I hate waste!

Pickle Juice can be used for a lot of things in the kitchen, I make a lot of use for it when I cook fish. Whether I make it into some Tartar sauce, or pour some over the fish itself to give it a tang, I can use it in BBQ sauce as well. Depending on the juice, whether sweet or dill, or in between you would be amazed at how well it fits in some sauces.
 My Favorite new way to use left over pickle juice is with chicken.The juice is great to use for  marinating , and my kids just love it! It's a sweet tang added to plain chicken. I toss it into the slow cooker pour some of the juice over it. After it cooks, I shred it for some quesadilla, maybe chicken tacos or classic chicken salad for sandwiches. If there's  left over peppers  I place them in pickle juice to make a mild "Pickled Pepper", which I just love in a pastrami sandwich! Mmmm

No matter what, the tangy left over juice never goes to waste in this house.   Use it in place of Vinegar in some recipes and see how you like it!

Read more ...

July 25, 2011

Winnie The Pooh!

Has anyone seen the newly released Winnie The Pooh? It hit theaters July 15th!
 Here's the official clip for the movie

It looks just as adorable as the original short shows I saw as a kid. My kids will love it! Featuring the timeless characters as it Follows Christopher Robin, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo, and let's not forget Eeyore though the adventures of The 100 Acre Woods. Winnie the Pooh will never stop being such a classic movie for the kids to enjoy!

You can catch Winnie The Pooh on Facebook for some updates and even new clips, you can even check out tickets for your area .

Here's a Tigger Clip :)

I know my youngest kids will love it :)

Read more ...

July 24, 2011

Weekend Project- Clean it up!

This week between the heat and cranky kids I've tried to be on top of  cleaning the house. As we're doing more outside than inside, it's not an easy task. More yard work gets done, less inside gets done.

My weekends have become a quick round house pick up, only to fall short within the five minute my kids wake up and walk out of their rooms. The term most used this week "It looks like the toy box exploded in here."
In the time it takes to slice an onion , my kids can empty a toy box, spread it's contents across three rooms and then be no where in sight by the time I ask them to clean it up. It amazes me how quick they can dump, spread and run all in under five minutes. Remarkable really, I think they should get a medal for it.

Not to top their own record though, not ten minutes after it's all picked up, and put away nicely, I come to find out their rooms are even worse. It takes five minutes to pull everything from the dresser, less than that to dump over a box of toys and even less time to run their arms against the top of the dresser and - shove all the books off till they fall to the floor. (which rarely happens, thank goodness)

They claim a toy has fallen, or was tossed, and or lost which is the reason behind the entire toy exploding drama. Oddly enough they find the missing toy within all that mess, Yet they can't seem to find it when things are neatly put away.

Who knew? ha!
Read more ...

July 22, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday -Thunder Cake

My Son read Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco, and came to me with this hand written recipe. He claimed at the time, though I already knew the recipe was in the back of the book, that he came up with it himself. I ran with it, up until I asked him if he mixed up the cups, with tablespoons. He grabbed the book, flipped it open to the back and proceeded to show me how he was wrong. Ha I'll give him credit for writing it down, and making up his own directions, like "stir the gooey cake together till you can spread it into a pan. " or "don't forget to crack the egg before you stir it in, no one wants the shells." It cracked me up more than anything, but this became a very yummy reading project. Since the cake takes tomatoes, it makes it super moist. You'll enjoy it, and while you are at it, pick up the book for the kids!

Thunder Cake

1 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3 eggs, separated
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup pureed tomatoes
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dry cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Your favorite Chocolate Frosting ( I used the one from Hershey)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Grease and flour two 8 1/2 inch pans.
Cream together shortening, sugar,  then add in one at a time, vanilla, water, tomatoes and blend the egg yolks in. In another bowl Beat whites until they are stiff, then fold in with the rest of the mixture.
Sift together these ingredients: flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt.
Mix the dry mixture into the creamy mixture. Divide batter into the two pans equally and Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Read more ...

July 21, 2011

CVS Photo Gifts - Grab an Apron!

CVS Photo center offers an easy photo upload for creating gifts. Pick and choose which ever photo you want to use to create a collage , photo gift or a fun book for family!

This summer we’ve been enjoying an Apron made by CVS using a picture of all our kids. I’m not much of an apron person, but my kids just adore it. They each have their own which they put on when they help me in the kitchen, even if it is to peel the husks off of corn. They think it’s fun, and I won’t spoil their little chef moments. It’s cute to put the apron on them all even if it’s oversized on my little girls.
The picture I picked of all the kids was actually a lot larger than I expected when we got it. Thinking it would be this tiny little thing on the apron, I was surprised when it came out the way it did. I love it! It comes out to be 16x20” in the apron. You can adjust the picture before you put it into your cart making sure whatever the focus is, is centered and where you want it.
Isn’t it cute?! This would be wonderful to give to anyone who likes to cook a lot, maybe even as a summer gift for the grill master in the family. One size of course is for an adult, but you can fold it and make it fit for a smaller kitchen helper. My oldest daughter ones doesn’t like it folded at all though, so it looks like a dress almost. I think if I make another one I’ll use something else like picture a of tomatoes from the garden or maybe the flowers my girls planted.

The apron is stain resistant  made of 100% polyester with nylon straps. At $19.99 it’s a cute, affordable way to enjoy your favorite photo while you cook!

While your picking out the Apron don't forget CVS  has created a limited edition customized photo collage poster inspired by World Wildlife Fund to commemorate their 50th anniversary! The collage posters are available now through July 31, 2011 exclusively at CVSphoto.com!

**Disclosure- I received the products mentioned above from CVS in order to write an honest 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.*

Read more ...

July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

These are my Scarlet Runner Beans!  Ok and Two peas,

Before the beans come in, they flower with bright red scarlet flowers, it's a beautiful thing to watch.

Read more ...

July 19, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- No Need , to Knead,

Can't Knead bread dough? No worries, this week it's all about skipping the Kneading Step in bread making. It's hard to explain how to knead, even harder to tell you what the bread feels like when it's done. It's something after awhile of making bread you just start picking up, but again no worries if this is where the trouble begins for you. This week you can Be sloppy, be messy, and get a great loaf of bread out of it as well.

I love sloppy breads!  I call them sloppy breads as that's what they look like when you either form them or put them into a pan, very sloppy. You won't get the nice smooth look you get when you are kneading, but that's ok, that's not what it's supposed to look like,  we're aiming for sloppy here.

This bread is Super Kid Friendly , they can mix this up themselves and even put it into the loaf pan.
Whole Wheat Honey Bread
1 package active dry yeast (if your using it from the fridge make sure this is at room temp before you use it)
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 - 115F Test your water always)
3 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon shortening softened
2  cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

 In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the honey salt, shortening and 1 cup of the bread flour. Mix Vigorously with a wooden spoon to form a wet batter. Gradually stir in remaining 1 cup of bread flour and the whole wheat flour until it's evenly combined. See it looks all sloppy ! 

Cover the bowl and let the batter rise in a warm draft free place for about 30 minutes. Stir batter several times after rising and then spread it evenly in a greased 5 by 9 inch loaf pan. Let it rise again for about 40 minutes or until it reached 1/2 inch from the top of the pan. 

Preheat the oven at 375. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the bread is golden and it sounds hollow when you tap it. Remove from oven and the pan onto a wire wrack to cool.

 I make two batches as I honestly can never keep my hands off of warm bread so it just disappears before it ever cools :)

Here is another No Knead Bread that works out amazingly as if you put a fulls days work into making it! It may need to rise a long time but from just stirring into a plastic container, you get a pretty fantastic loaf of bread to show off!
 Just because you can't Knead, doesn't mean you can't make some bread to enjoy!
Read more ...

July 18, 2011

Weekend Recap - A bit of Everything

Weekend recaps are normally updates on the garden and maybe a project or even a new recipe I did. It was a tad crazier than normal around here, with a birthday on Saturday, so a lot more was going on.
I finally finished my first real sewing project other than fixing holes in jeans and socks. I made a Jean Purse for my daughter, which she just adored!
I ended up not using the many tutorials that I had found online, but it's pretty close to them.
My kids were always playing on the computer so I had to look up directions on my phone which didn't always give me picture to look at. Or I was interrupted so many times concentrating on the directions was impossible. In the end I just went with what I thought would look good, thankfully it came together!

My husband finished building a Jewelry box as well which she is still carrying around and won't let anyone touch. I was lucky to get a picture of it after it was filled with her hair stuff. :) She is such a girly girl, so I know this will be treasured for years to come.

 The other week I mentioned how there's been plants shooting up all over the place, well, the most strangest thing ever is, I didn't even have this kind of squash seed . I planted the ones I grew last year. It's a nice surprise, but it's also making me wonder if the seeds I harvest this year will do the same next year. I should label them "Mix and Mingled" As that's what they seem to do on their own, mingling among themselves to make new seeds. I'd better be careful giving out seeds to friends as well, they may end up with an odd mix they weren't ready for!

Picked my carrots this weekend!

Planted some more as well, now is the time to start your fall garden. I'm also planting plenty of greens, Collards, more Mustard, some Kale even. Lettuce, Beans and Peas as well. Not sure what else right now, have to wait till I thin out the squash and make the room. 

Last but not forgotten, my Sunflowers have made it :)

Read more ...

July 17, 2011

Weekend Project- Something different

  Mustard Greens are like, Kale, and Collards, you would cook them till they were tender. My husband loves the greens cooked with Ham, normally I'll just save a ham bone and toss it in there to simmer for an hour. Other times steam it and he'll eat it with some garlic or red wine vinegar. The kids aren't much of a fan for the leafy greens, but they will eat it. I grow all three of the greens, but by far I think my favorite is the Mustard. It brings a new taste, and it adds much more flavor to dishes. I'll even put it into a sandwich and grill it. I want to make some fried zucchini and mustard green cakes to see how it pairs up, it'll be an easy way to use alot and a tasty snack at the same time. 
A quick new way I've found to use up a good portion of our greens, is to make some Cornbread Mustard Green stuffing. Even the kids love it!
It's really simple, and there's many ways to dress it up. I bet it you like a sausage stuffing, these greens would make a good addition to your favorite recipe. I've used this to stuff a beef tenderloin and even just put in a casserole dish to cook in the oven.

Using the recipe I did for Mother's  Day dinner, I subbed the Collards for the Mustard. I also added an egg in there, and just put it down in a casserole dish to bake for about thirtyy minutes. It came out wonderfully!  Using up about 6 cups to make it, I didn't waste an ounce of a days worth of harvest from the garden.

I think I snacked on this more than anyone else in the house, couldn't help it, I love it! Even better when it's homemade cornbread, which is a must to do if you've never made it, check this recipe out. Super easy to make, you won't be sorry!

Trying new things is fun!
Read more ...

July 15, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday - Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

I've made these since about 2005 when I first found the recipe.(Found in a Wal-mart recipe book) It was a no-bake option with what little I had on hand to take to a family get together one year. Turns out this No-Bake quick and easy dessert was a winner not only with kids but the adults too. I don't make them that often anymore though, but when I do I hide the leftovers in the freezer to save for a special treat for the kids . They taste just like a Reese's only, homemade, and into a bar!
  My Mom has mentioned more than once though that she's tried to make these and they didn't come out right. The only thing I can think of, is I don't use "mini" morsels, I use regular chocolate chips as my store doesn't carry the minis. That's the only thing I've ever done differently from the recipe, but I swear it's a super easy one and I can't think of any way to mess it up. I hope you enjoy!

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

2 cups peanut butter, divided
3/4 cups butter softened (not melted)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups semi sweet chocolate mini morsels (12 oz package)  divided

 Grease a 13x9x2 baking pan and set aside.
 In large mixer or bowl beat 1 1/4 cups peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer on med. till the mixture is creamy. Gradually beat in 1 cup of powdered sugar. With Hands or wooden spoon work in remaining powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs and 1/2 cup chocolate morsels. Press evenly into prepared pan. I use the back of a measure cup to press it firmly down, you can use just about anything, just make it firmly even around the entire pan.
 In medium heavy duty saucepan melt remaining peanut butter and the chocolate morsels over the lowest possible heat. Stirring constantly , until it's smooth. Takes  5-10 minutes .Do not walk away from it though, you don't want the chocolate to burn. Pour the mixture once it's smooth and melted over the graham crust in the pan. Refrigerate for at least an hour or longer till the chocolate is firm. Cut into bars, and store in fridge.


Read more ...

July 14, 2011

Laundry Soap Project- Meet Mellissa

Mellissa is a busy wife and Mom to three. Always on the hunt for good deals and products she can trust to use with her family she has joined up with us to share her opinion on making her own soap! (She makes candles too, you'll see a review of an awesome candle she sent me later!) I want to thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule for helping me and the rest of the Soap Project Moms with this !

A Soap Interview with Mellissa-

Q- What's your Recipe for soap?
A.- I make a double batch of
-2 boxes of Borax
-2 boxes of washing soda
-16 cups of baking soda
-1 bar of the Fels Naptha Soap
-5 bars of Zest body soap

Q- What do you like or dislike about the soap you make?
A- I really like the smell before using. It doesn’t leave a heavy scent but the laundry smells clean.

Q- Compared to the brand of soap you used to buy, how does this soap hold up? Does it get the job done?
A- I used to buy the Sun laundry soap and this homemade laundry  soap leaves the laundry much cleaner, I think!
Someone had fun getting these jeans dirty!

The soap does the trick!

Q- Do you use the homemade laundry soap for anything else?
A- I have used it in my dishwasher! It really cleaned the dishes well and left no soap residue or taste unlike the other ones I used.

Q- How much did you spend making your soap?
The borax at my store was $3.47 a box (so times 2 was $6.94)
The washing soda was $2.97 a box (so times 2 was $5.94)
The Fels Naptha Soap was $.97
I had the 5 bars of body soap on hand
The baking soda was $5.97 for a large bag I use 2/3 of
All together I spent $19.78
It made 567 loads of laundry soap.
I use 1/8 cup per load :O)

Q- Is there anything else you’d like to tell other Mom’s or fellow readers about the soap?
A- If you like a heavy scent this soap is not for you, But it cleans better than any soap I have used before and was cheap and easy to make! You won't be sorry for trying it!

*Want to join this project? Read more about it here* Thank You Mellissa for Joining up with My Side of Life and the other Mom's for this Project !!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to do this post or reivew. These are my own personal opinions that I was willing to share for an honest review on My Side of Life.
Read more ...