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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Recipes Revisted

Life has gone completely wacko around here, (which is actually not all that uncommon)...  I am in a show at Stained Glass Theatre that opens on Thursday (I am not completely confident in my lines yet), Book Fair starts on Friday (I am the book fair chair), and we are listing our house for sale on Saturday (so I am deep cleaning, organizing, purging, boxing up "extra stuff", etc).  Plus work, kids, and all the normal stuff makes for a crazy hectic week this week!!

Looking for a few good recipes, but due to the stress & schedule of the week,
I have 2 strict guidelines they  must follow:
1.   stuff I already have in the cabinet so I don't have to go grocery shopping 
2.   quick prep or crock-pot, long cooking time is ok,  but nothing I have to babysit on the stove

Hubby & I have been dieting, so I have been making a LOT of chicken dishes lately.  He doesn't complain, but I know he is getting chickened-out.  He really is a red meat kind of guy, so I would like to make some things I know he likes & will give him a break from the chicken rut.  While looking through my 4 remaining cookbooks (I had take my cookbook shelf out of the kitchen, so had to box up all of my cookbooks & store them except for my 4 favorites...) I stumbled on a few recipes I used to make all the time that I have not made in a while.  These are all recipes that I know the kids like, so no fuss at dinner time, which is also important during an already stressful week.
I decided it was a perfect time to revisit these old favorites!

Grandpa Del's Meatballs:
2 lbs ground hamburger
2 lbs ground sausage
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dry grated onion
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all together & let sit overnight.  Roll into walnut sized balls & brown in  skillet.
(This time I am going to make larger meatballs and bake them in the oven instead of browning.)

French Dip Sandwiches:
Beef Roast
onion soup mix
hoagie buns or home made rolls

About the same time you plan to eat the next evening, place a beef roast in the crock pot with enough water to cover.  Cook on low overnight.  The next morning, add 1 package dry onion soup mix.  Cook all day on low.  Shred cooked meat and serve on hoagie buns or homemade rolls, along with meat juices for dipping.

Glazed Pork Chops:
6 pork chops
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sage
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp water

Place chops in a 9x13 pan.  Make a paste of remaining ingredients.  Spread paste over chops.  Bake at 250° for 1 hour.  Turn & spoon drippings over, then bake another 15 minutes at 350°.

Monday, February 13, 2012

for the love of a good book...

It was a cold, gray, wintery day.  
But he was there, in that tree, reading a book. 

 Wanting to be outside, wanting to read.  
Being a boy, as every boy should be.

The photography is not great, but the story is.  
He is.  
She is, for encouraging him and fostering a love of books. 
I love books, I love him. 
I love her, and what she does for him.  
And I love these photos.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I feel a celebration coming on...

The little man turned 5 yesterday.   Wow...  it is hard to believe he is 5 already, and will go to Kindergarten next year!!!  I have been busy getting ready for his birthday party in a couple of weeks.  He wanted to have a Team Umizoomi birthday.   Great little show on Nick Jr. for kids focusing on early math skills, but there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING out there party-wise.  In fact, the only thing I have ever seen in the retail market with Team Umizoomi on it are some Pre-K math kits with workbooks and a DVD.

Super-Mom to the rescue!   Thanks to several google searches, pinterest, and some personal creativity, we have a pretty rockin' party coming together!!

Party Favors:
I printed labels with images from Team Umizoomi, and stuck the labels around bottles of bubbles, cans of play-doh, and wrapped them around a small chocolate for all the kids.  I also made a bottle cap necklace for each of the kids with a Team Umizoomi photo in it.

To make the necklaces, I used printed images, a package of bottle caps, a 1" circle punch, and Glossy Accents.  (Diamond Glaze & Crystal Lacquer are the same thing.) 

Punch out the images and glue them inside the bottle cap with a bit of Glossy Accents.  Then cover the entire image with a good layer of Glossy Accents.   They will take about an hour or so to dry completely, depending on the humidity where you are.  Punch a hole in the top of the bottle cap.  Make the necklace by putting a jump ring in the hole and attaching the bottle cap to a string, ribbon, or metal necklace.   Cute & easy!  Mine are not quite dry yet in the photo, so they still look a little "foggy".  Once it is really dry the Glossy Accents is completely clear. 

I used more printables from the Nick Jr website for the games.   We are going to have different stations for each of the characters.  Milli's Measurements, where the kids will get to measure themselves on a height chart & compare.  Who is tallest?  Who is smallest?  Geo's Shapes, where the kids will get to make pictures with shapes (think Tangrams or Playful Patterns).  Bot's Bellyscreen, where the kids will take their photos on a green screen.  I will put their faces in Bot's bellyscreen and mail the photos to them after the party as their thank you notes.  We are also going to have a scavenger hunt for various shapes & numbers.    At the snack table, kids will find shaped snacks and part of a pattern, where they can finish out the pattern with their snack shapes.

Cupcake Toppers:

Hunter wanted cupcakes for his birthday, so I found some cupcake papers with polka dots that match the color scheme, and made these adorable cupcake toppers using some scrapbook paper & printables from the Nick Jr website.

First, I cut scrapbook paper into 2 inch strips.  (You will need 2 strips for each rosette.)  Using a scoring plate, I scored every inch, then flipped them over & scored on the 1/2 inch.

After the strips are all scored, I attached the ends of 2 strips together.  Put adhesive on the "valley" end of one strip, and attach it to the "mountain" end of another strip.

After you get all of the strips glued together, accordion fold them along your score lines.  (Remember making those little fans & stuff as a kid?  Same technique.)

Here is my pretty rainbow of folded strips.  :)

If you are making cupcake toppers like me, glue a toothpick to one end of the strips at this point. If you are making medallions to use on cards or a scrapbook page or other project, skip this step.

Now, you need to glue the ends together, just like you did when making the long strips.  Glue a "valley" end to a "mountain" end. You will end up with a circle like this.  (For you cupcake people -- one of your ends will have a toothpick sticking out of it, which is not shown in this photo.)   

Now, take your circle and flatten it on the table.   I filled the center hole with hot glue.  If you do this, it really strengthens the medallion.  (Remember, I am making cupcake decorations for a bunch of 5 year olds!  I wanted them to be super sturdy!!)  If your medallion is going to be attached to a card or something, filling the center is not necessary.  If you DO fill it, I would suggesting using a non-stick craft mat under your work area.  

Cut out whatever you are using to decorate the center of your medallion.  I am using printables from Nick Jr. that fit my Team Umizoomi theme.
Decide if you only need an image for the front or if you want an image for front and back, based on what your project is for.  For my cupcake decorations, I wanted an image front and back.
I also suggest gluing your decorations to the flattened medallion with hot glue if they will be handled a lot. If not, most any adhesive will work fine. 

Here are my finished cupcake decorations!
Umifriends on the front, and the number 5 on the back.  The finished product is about 4" across, which is pretty big for a cupcake, but the little man said he wanted them big, so that's what he got!  :)

The big party day is still a couple of weeks away, but I will be sure to post some photos afterwards!