January 31, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty


The Secret World of Arrietty is coming to theaters next month on February 17th. Have you seen the clips for the movie yet? I'll share one in a minute,  it looks really cute, something my kids would enjoy. The Secret World of Arrietty is based on Mary Norton's children's book series "The Borrowers." If your kids have never read these, I highly suggest you pick them up, very cute lots of adventures and fun.

The story is about Arrietty,an adventurous little 14 year old girl who like all of her kind must stay hidden and out of  view from humans. The only time they come out is to "borrow" supplies they need. The story develops as Arrietty is seen by a boy that comes to live at the house, Shawn, and begins a friendship that could drive Arrietty's family out of the house if anyone else ever discovered they were there.

Adventures galore! The preview is really neat, take a look then you can print out some coloring sheets for the kids here.




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January 30, 2012

Don't miss it!

Remember the Recipe Challenge I told you about? Well, it's starting this Wednesday!
You don't want to miss it, I will be posting a new recipe each and everyday. Friends and family sent them in by the dozen, and they are really yummy looking! From main meals, soups, sandwiches, desserts (of course!) and snacks, I've got it all coming your way starting February 1st.

Make sure you follow me on G+  , my button is on the right side of the blog. You can always find me on Facebook as well if you ever want to strike up a  conversation or ask me about the recipes! It's a lot of fun, so don't miss out on it!






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January 29, 2012

Garden Update

My winter garden is still going, lost a few greens due to frost but I still have plenty to tend too. Mustard is still coming in strong, I've planted several others so I can keep harvesting year round. I plant nearly every 10-15 days inside and after several weeks transport them back outside after hardening them off. By planting so often, I will have greens to be harvested nearly every week. Once I harvest one set, the next is ready the next week, and so on. You just keep harvesting off in a rotation till the plant cycle is finished,  by that time, a new one is taking it's place already. You can do this with most greens, carrots even (which if planted in cold frames and covered in straw can be harvested through winter) 

Compared to Collards,  Mustard greens are milder and they aren't as tough.  Kale is somewhere in between the two, and all three can be planted for a winter garden as well as summer.  I lost my Kale plants to frost this week.  Somehow the frost cover got blown off the two kale plants, but I didn't lose everything! I've already planted a new batch which will go out to the cold frame sometime next month.



Guess what I have growing in the garden ?
Broccoli!!

Take note that Broccoli can be planted for a summer and fall garden in most places but must be harvested before frost. They take 90 days to harvest. If you want them for the summer, plant them in spring of course, for fall gardens plant mid summer. If you want them for winter ( in certain areas) you plant them at the beginning of fall and will have to transfer them into a structure of some kind to shield them from the cold.

  It does freeze in our area (Northern CA) , so it is a problem to deal with. All my winter plants are in the cold frame with an added bonus of protection. It's taken a lot of planning to keep them protected and thriving, so it isn't easy even in my area.
 To make sure frost stays off my plants I cover them with a frost blanket or throw.  These light weight blankets keep the frost off, but let the plants breath and let sunlight in. I also throw straw down to help keep whatever heat the ground has in there longer.
If you have a cold frame, remember you will be watering so much less than before, the ground will retain more moisture within the structure, and never water at night, which can drop the ground temp very quickly.

If you have any smaller plants and the leaves are a little too fragile like a newly transplanted seedling,  you can use a milk jug or any plastic bottle to make a greenhouse for them during the night. Simply cut the bottom off (about an inch up from the bottom)  and place the top over the plant. This way smaller plants have an even better chance of surviving through the winters worst. This would also be a great way to start your seedlings outside. Start saving milk jugs during the fall so you can have enough for spring planting.





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January 27, 2012

Sweet Treat Friday - Peanut Butter Treat Cookies

This cookie works in a pinch for after school snacks or treats on weekends when you don't have any time on your hands. Not only can you switch up what you want in the cookie, it takes less than twenty minutes to put them together bake and eat them. Just pour the glass of milk and be ready, you'll love them and the kids will too! I've made these with  M&M's before and they're great!

Triple Treat Cookies

They taste like peanut butter cookies, but with the addition to both chocolate chips (whatever kind you want) and the peanuts it becomes a really nice change from a plain old peanut butter cookie!


2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening (room temp)
1 cup sugar plus more for shaping
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup salted peanuts (optional if you don't like nuts)
1 (6 ounce pack) chocolate chips (white, dark, peanut butter or milk chocolate)  Or mix them up together it doesn't really matter!

Preheat the oven to 350F
In a med. bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl beat the shortening, sugars, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy. Blend in the peanut butter, and then add the dry ingredients. Stir in your choice of chocolate chips and nuts if using. Shape into 1 inch balls and place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet. Flatten with fork (like a peanut butter cookie criss cross) dipped in sugar or simple flatten by hand and sprinkle sugar on top. Bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Let them cool a couple minutes before you remove them from the baking sheet, they tend to be very fragile until the cool.
Transfer to a flat plate to cool completely, and try not to eat the ones that crumble, though that is my favorite part!

Enjoy! Happy Friday!



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January 26, 2012

Physics of Sound - A Fun project with the kids

Kids always beat on everything from floors to your kitchen mixing bowls! Sound is always fun, sure it's loud but why not turn their little drumming session into a science lesson?

Here's how you can do a simple Percussion Instrument with the kids.

Bowl Beaters-

What you need-
Couple of empty bowls, jars of different sizes
Plastic Wrap
Tape
Pencils, pens, chop sticks or a toothbrush.

How to set up-
Wrap the plastic wrap across the top of each bowl and tape the plastic wrap in place around the edges.  It's that easy! Tip- Keep some bowls wrapped tightly while a few others not as tight, this will make a different sound effect for the kids to listen for.




Now the Learning part of it-

Ask the kids to -
      Strike the plastic with the objects and listen.


Ask them what kind of sound did they hear?
Is it quiet, loud, high or low sounding?
Do they notice the difference between the loosely wrapped bowl verses the tightened ones?  If not ask them to hit them one by one and listen again.

The tighter the plastic wrap the higher the pitch, the looser it is, the lower the sound they get. The kids will have a blast learning the different pitches!

Enjoy!

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January 24, 2012

National Peanut Butter Day!

Did you know today was National Peanut Butter Day? Well it is!



My kids adore Peanut Butter sandwiches! I on the other day do not.  I like eating peanut butter cookies, even a really  great Reese's Peanut Butter Cup! Possibly a Peanut Butter S'more, or even better Peanut Butter balls! Which are cookies, so let's just say my favorite treats involving sweets at the same time.

One of my Favorite recipes of all time with peanut butter are the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars I posted awhile back.


What's your favorite way to enjoy Peanut Butter? 



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January 22, 2012

Finished Circle Project!

My husband finished the Circle Box this weekend.

Pretty isn't it? I think I'll put sewing things in there and keep it with the sewing machine. Made out of wood laying around the garage. The wood on the outside is maple which we stained and then clear coated. The knob is actually from a table leg! Came together nicely, if you missed the start pictures of this project you can check them out all here .



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January 20, 2012

Sweet Treat Friday - Sip it don't slurp it! Homemade Herbal Tea

Awhile ago I shared how to save Rose Hips, the reddish, or orange bulb at the end of a rose branch. You can save them for seeds and plant your own Roses, or cook with them. Rose Hips are high in Vitamin C so it's been an idea I wanted to try for awhile. I've been saving all the Rose Hips from my roses along with all my raspberry leaves from my plants. Turns out just to make one cup of tea you need a lot more than a small garden can carry. No worries, local nursery's around here actually supply plenty! * If you plan on drying your own leaves, just make sure they are completely dried before crushing them up and using them in tea. Raspberry leaves do not taste like raspberries at all, your making a base that really mixes well with citrus flavors, so play around with it till you find something you like.


Basic Herbal Rose Hip Tea Recipe-

1 cup of boiling water and 2 teaspoons dried and chopped rose hips. Steep for about 15  minutes and then strain. Add lemon, or honey to liking. *rose hip tea has a tart taste, though mine never gets too tart. Steeping it was fruit gives it a wonderful flavor! *


Rose hip and Raspberry Tea
  Rose Hip and Raspberry Tea mix

What you need-

1/2 cup dried  and chopped up Rose hips
2 or 3 teaspoons dried raspberry leaves


Directions to make mix-
Place this together in a container and mix up. You can also put some Lemon or even Orange peel  (2 or 3 teaspoons ) in this as it well to give it more flavor. It's up to you, this is a basic starter recipe I was told about.  Label your container and use 1 teaspoons per cup of water. Work with it and make it how you like it. Steep it for about 10-15 minutes, strain and add honey if wanted.
*The picture above was used with frozen raspberries during it's steep. When you strain out the herbs and leaves just take the fruit out as well.

Enjoy!







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January 19, 2012

Plan your Superbowl Party with Target

Target makes it easy to supply your Superbowl party with easy, tasty snacks and appetizers that will keep the guests happy as well as save you time and money!


Here's some great things to look out for the next time you stop by Target Groceries

Archer Farms Salted Roasted Pistachios, 24oz. ($11.99)
Archer Farms Blue Corn with Flax Seed Tortilla Chips ($2.99)

Archer Farms Buffalo-Style Blue Cheese  Dip Mix ($1.99)  and Archer Farms Bacon-Wrapped Scallops  ($6.99)


Archer Farms Corn, Bean and Roasted Pepper Salsa ($2.99)and Market Pantry Cheddar CheeseBalls  ($2.99)
 

 
I'm going to make this for the Superbowl party we're have here at our house. Target's culinary team whipped this recipe up and I thought I'd share it with you all!

 
Party-Perfect Italian Sausage and Pasta Soup
Ingredients-
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 pkg. Archer Farms Italian Chicken Sausage or Spinach Sausage ($3.89 each) and Garlic Chicken Sausage ($3.89), cut into ¼-inch slices
1 jar (23.5 oz) Archer Farms Arrabbiata Pasta Sauce ($3.29)
3 cups (8 oz.) Archer Farms Organic Campanelle Pasta ($2.49)
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained
4 cups water
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves


Toppings:
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves, slivered
Lemon wedges

Directions,
Heat oil in 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Sauté about 4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.
Stir in sliced sausages, pasta sauce, pasta, beans and water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered, about 12 minutes until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in spinach; let stand covered 1 minute to wilt. Serve in bowls with Toppings.

Yield: About 12 cups




*Disclosure No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write a positive review, Any and all opinions are and will always be my own.*

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January 17, 2012

Did you Know Tuesday - Make an easy Fertilizer for plants

I've shared before the great use of egg shells in the garden.There's many uses for them, you can crush them up to keep snails away while at the same time  feeding the soil around your plants. I've even started my seedlings in the eggshells which can be directly transferred right outside. (if you do start your seedlings in eggshells before you plant them directly outside crush up the egg. Otherwise they won't break down in the soil therefore not putting any nutrients into the soil your plants need. )

Another great way to use the shells it to make an easy fertilizer for both house plants or plants in the garden.


What to do :

Take left over eggshells and soak them in water for about 3 days. Remove the shells and crush them up to sprinkle around plants or mix up into the soil. Use the water on plants where ever it's needed. During the summer you can use the water on tomato plants which help ward off blossom end rot. Simple, easy, and effective!

Another Tip :
If you had some coffee grounds you can use them just as easily in the garden .Coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil, so you may use both the shells and grounds with each other. Just mix it up into the soil around your plants.


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January 16, 2012

Think outside the box!

Think Circles!

As if we don't have enough projects going on already. My Husband started this round box this week just wondering if he could do it.
He made this by bending wood with water and pressure. Each layer is super thin, soaked in water and bent with weights before he attached each peice.
He made a mold of nails and wood to keep the wet layers in place then clamped them together. They sat clamped like this between each layer for at least a day.

This picture is 5 layers of wood , the green tape is over some splintered edges which will be sanded down till smoothed out.
Amazing isn't it?  He hasn't figured out how he wants to do the top just yet, but when he does I'll post the finished pictures!

Don't you love it when an idea takes off and comes together?




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January 13, 2012

Sweet Treat Friday- Berry Bars

This recipe is a cross between fruit bars and granola bars. I wanted a different kind of bar and after trying out several recipes I just combined several together to make this.  It works well with any dried fruit, but the best is using a mix of dried berries.



Ingredients for filling

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups dried fruit (the fruit used in the picture is blueberries, strawberries and cherries)
1 to 2 tablespoons corn starch

Directions for fruit filling

In a saucepan combine the sugar water and fruit. Cook while stirring constantly until bubbly. Add the corn starch and stir (one tablespoon at a time. Out of 3 batches, I only needed one and a half tablespoons) . It should get very thick very fast, almost like pie filling. Remove from heat and let cool completely

Ingredients for bars

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup quick cooking oats ( old fashion rolled oats are fine to sub)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1 tablespoon water
Directions for bars

In a medium bowl combine flour salt and baking powder to stir. Mix in oats and brown sugar. Cut the butter in and mix till crumbly. Sprinkle tablespoon of water. Mix together. Pat half the mixture into a 13in by 9in baking pan. Pat it down into the pan.
Spread the fruit mixture over the crust. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the fruit mixture and pat gently to make even.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool completely and cut into bars or squares to size. You can get 48 bars or twice as many squares. Perfect morning or after school snack.

Enjoy!
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January 12, 2012

My Recipe Challenge!

In 2010 when my kids wouldn't stop complaining about what we were eating for dinner I threw my hands up! They only wanted certain things, over and over. I was tired of repeats, which brought me to fun challenge for the entire month of February that year. Try a brand new recipe each and every day. Once the month was up,  I kept going with the idea though. It changed the way I planned meals, making it a habit to get at least 3 new recipes in each week.

The Challenge is fun for me, as well as the kids. They get excited to try something new and I have them help me as much as possible. It's important that my kids learn now while they are young to try new things and not put it down before they try it out themselves. After all you can't say you don't like it unless you've tried it!

The last week or so I've been  putting together my menu plan for next month. Whether the recipe fails, or we don't like it, the recipe will still be posted.  Just because we didn't do it right or like it doesn't mean someone else won't enjoy it!

So, stay tuned for February. Every day a new recipe will be posted! You don't want to miss a single day, trust me on this!

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January 10, 2012

Tangled Ever After - New Clip!

My girls want to see this movie so bad! The Short Film will be in Theaters Jan. 13!

Here's a New Clip of the Short Movie !







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January 9, 2012

Project in the works - Knife Block

Few months ago my husband built a knife block for my mother. It came out great, you can see the picture here. After several other projects we finally got around to the idea of building our own. Here are the plans so far


We had to go through our knives and decide which ones we wanted in the block. Measured each, length, width, and thickness of the blades before mapping out where each would go. 

This picture is what it will look like from the sides, unless my husband changes it, which he normally does right in the middle of building it.


We haven't decided really about the bottom half of it, where the steak knives will go. If it is higher than the larger block the handles of the knives should all be even this way. If we move the steak knife block down, the handles will be lower than the larger knives on top. May not make a difference to most, but I grab the larger knives the most, so if another handle is in the way it could make a huge difference. 
Other than that little decision we just have to pick out the wood we will use and we can get a start on it! :)


You can see the finished project here!





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January 6, 2012

Sweet Treat Friday - Milk Sponge Cake

This cake reminds me of my Grandmother's Angel Food cake, as well as pound cake. It is not as light as the Angel Food cake but it reminds me so much of it. The taste is a cross between the two cakes, with a buttery flavor and light sweetness. Very easy to bake, and I see no need to frost it. My kids will enjoy this just warm from the oven. Recipe came from a friend, Called Milk Sponge Cake.


Ingredients

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease the bottom only of a 9x 13 baking pan. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl beat together eggs and vanilla. Mix with Sugar until completely blended. Pour mixture into the dry ingredients, it will be very thick. Heat milk and butter in sauce pan till boiling and quickly stir into the thick batter. Mix till thoroughly blended, (it will no longer be thick) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean in center.
Let it cool completely. We like eating this while still warm, wait about 10 minutes and cut into pieces before serving. Goes prefect with a nice tall glass of milk, wonder if that's why it's Milk Sponge cake? :)

Enjoy!
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January 3, 2012

Cutting Glass Bottles - DIY Project

I was skimming Pinterest when I came across this DIY cutting glass tutorial. It was simple and a great way to re-use the bottles. Trial and error though, it takes some getting used too before you have it down.

I did it a couple different ways, first was with the nail polish  which is listed in the link above, which does work, but the thicker the bottle the more you need to keep working at it. I found that scoring the glass and then using the hot/cold water method also works, just be patient. My last method that worked as well was scoring the glass and taking a flame to it, then dipping it into the cold ice water. This was the easiest and I got much cleaner lines out of it.

Since I needed two hands this was the only picture I could take while cutting the glass.


I scored the glass with a simple glass cutter.


The edges still need to be polished , which takes the most time.


The Finished project!


The top of the bottle was used for the "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" A tabletop centerpiece, I'll use it to hold some flower cuttings my kids bring me .

 There you have it, cutting glass at home with just things on hand. You don't need the glass cutter, it does work without, but it also takes a little more patience. I'm having a lot of fun with this project, still working on a few other pieces and I'll share them when they are finished!

Keep on crafting! :)
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