Friday, May 22, 2009

Packing it in...

I am happy, no, ecstatic to say that after nearly four years of living in a 900 sq. ft. apartment, we are buying a house! I think it's safe to say that in the current market it shouldn't be a problem to find an available property, so even though we don't have a specific place to go and we don't really know when we'll be moving there, I'm going to start packing NOW.

I've had a few bad moves in my living-away-from-my-parents'-house history, but none so bad as our last one. I'll spare you the details of a pretty long story, but the gist is that we thought we wanted to move, we sold our house, we changed our minds, we still had to move, and we didn't really have anywhere to go. That was fun enough, but then after we secured our apartment (where we live now) my upper back muscles started hurting so much that I couldn't even turn my head, and my chiropractor forbade me to do any lifting. So, in the weeks prior to our move, I couldn't do any work and my husband was away during the day at his summer job, so you can probably imagine how organized a move that was. It involved tossing "stuff" into garbage bags at the end because we had run out of boxes, and those bags were immediately thrown onto the truck of a friend who was helping us. He was heard later saying, "Never ask me to help you guys move again." It was horrid, and I assure you, unpacking was no fun, either.

But that is in the past, and since we have time to do things better this time, I'm starting now. My first stop for advice for anything is the FlyLady, and on her site she has an entire section devoted to moving tips. I printed that article, and I gathered all of the Sharpie markers I could find to make a color-coded chart of the rooms we will be moving. I plan to color-code the boxes so that finding what-goes-where is not as difficult once we get there. I am also going to be brutal with decluttering, and if we don't love it and use it, it's not going with us. (Local freecyclers, stay tuned--your ship may be about to come in!)

So, check back to see what's working and what isn't, and if you have any tips for me, I would love to hear them!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kitchen Tips at Motley Moms

We didn't plan it this way, but on Motley Moms today Pam posted her amazing recipe for blueberry muffins and tomorrow (Tuesday) I will be posting instructions for making a rustic tart. With the fresh fruits of summer just waiting to burst into the markets you do not want to miss these great ideas for preparing them! :)

PS: I should probably mention that my rustic tart is easy and virtually fool-proof, which is why I am able to do it considering my baking tendencies!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meet a new blogger!

Hello everyone--my cousin is taking her first steps into the blog-o-sphere! Check her out!

Edited to Add: My sister Tara is also blogging now!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Fun: A New Addition to the Family and Two More Baking Disasters

As my Mom pointed out to me today, I have been procrastinating on my blog for quite a while, so I thought I would share a little about our Easter celebration this year.

First, an announcement: We have a new member of our household! As of this morning our son has adopted a pretty blue Betta fish. I asked him what he would like to name the fish, and he said, "Black." Thinking he had confused the name question with a color question, I asked again. He replied again, "Black." I then asked him what color the fish was. He said, "Blue." OK, so he's not confused. I asked again multiple times before church, after church, before lunch, etc. and each time he told me the fish's name is "Black." Eventually he managed to expand the name to "Black and Blue," and that, oddly, is apparently the fish's name. Friends of ours have a fuchsia Betta named Raspberry, and I guess I was hoping for the same type of creativity. Maybe he would name him Sapphire or even Blueberry. But no, our fish has been named Black and Blue. I bet he's the only fish in the world with that name.

Let's be honest, we all know that I have baking issues. Bryssy passed me the link to a neat recipe idea for Easter morning called, "Resurrection Rolls." It involves telling the story of Jesus' burial in the tomb using a marshmallow to represent His body, and once the rolls have baked the marshmallow SHOULD basically dissolve into the roll leaving the roll "tomb" empty. The only dough needed is crescent roll dough from a can, so I thought I could handle that.

In anyone else's kitchen, this recipe would probably be a great way to share the Easter story with children. Unfortunately, not only did my rolls NOT absorb the marshmallow, thus leaving "Jesus" still in the tomb, but some of the rolls oozed the marshmallow through the cracks. I will let you supply your own sacrilegious jokes for that one. At least our son is only two and hasn't yet reached the age where scarring him for life is a real possibility. Probably.

This final baking problem is a word of warning for those of you who might be using the cookbook The Cupcake Doctor. In that book is a wonderful idea for Easter Basket cupcakes. The cakes are baked in waffle cone bowl "baskets" instead of cupcake liners. First of all, the recipe should yield ten cupcakes because there are ten bowls in a package of waffle bowls. Problem number one is that I found it quite difficult to find 10 basket-worthy bowls in a package. I made six (one for each of us at lunch) and poured the rest of the batter into an egg-shaped pan that I have. A second problem I encountered with the directions involved the amount of batter to use in each cup. The instructions call for 1/2 cup per bowl, but that would be far too much and a messy overflow would be imminent. I found that 1/4 cup was pretty much perfect. The baking part was fine, believe it or not, and having wrapped the bowls in foil they did not scorch. The "disaster" came this afternoon when it was time to decorate the cupcakes. I had stored them in an airtight container to transport them to lunch, and when we opened the container to start our decorating fun we found cupcakes sitting on wilted waffle cone disks. The moisture from the cakes had done to the bowls what ice cream does to them if it isn't eaten quickly. The cakes were sticky enough to mold them back into a basket shape, and they were very cute once decorated, but the taste just wasn't the same.

So, there you go! Still making the hard mistakes so that you don't have to!

I hope you had a wonderful Easter--do you have any stories to share?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Um, can we do this later?

Today is my day to post over at Motley Moms--come join us as we talk about procrastination! What are you waiting for??

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Preserving the Past

It's strawberry season in Florida, and this year I decided to make preserves. I asked my great-aunt and grandmother for a tutorial on how to do this, and this is what they told me:

1. Take equal parts of chopped and washed strawberries (or any other fruit) and sugar.

2. Place them in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir frequently, and adjust the heat as needed to prevent boil-overs.

4. Pour or ladle the finished product into sterilized jars and wipe the rims to remove any of the syrup; top the jars with lids that have been sitting in boiling water and screw on the rings.

5. Wait until the lids pop--that means they're sealed.

So far I haven't tasted the finished product (it's REALLY hot!), but it looks so cute in these adorable jars that it couldn't be bad, could it?? :D

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Great Cupcake Disaster

This was not what I pictured when I started baking these red velvet cupcakes for our MOPS fundraiser tonight:

The tops were uneven, the bottoms were lightly scorched, the papers were unrecognizable (you should be able to see cute little hearts all over them), and all of the cupcakes shrank once they cooled. It wasn't pretty.

I removed the yucky papers and trimmed the cakes into better shape.

I cut them into layers, settled them into new papers, and gave them a little frosting-in-the-middle height enhancement.

A little pipe of frosting on top and a few sprinkles later, these look pretty good compared to their pre-makeover selves!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blastin' through breakfast...

Do you make breakfast for only one or two people? Do you like pancakes and waffles? Do you hate doing dishes? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, this little miracle spray can may be what you've been waiting for.

It's called the "Organic Batter Blaster" and it's a little controversial. Some people don't quite see the need for something so, well, Jetson-like, but if you've ever tried to make pancakes for just yourself, you know that even just using one egg that mix turns into a lot of breakfast. With the Batter Blaster you point and shoot your way to a one or two pancake meal with no wasted batter. And, might I add, only a pan to wash instead of bowls and measuring cups. (Do I sound a little lazy here?) The can is recyclable so that makes the material waste a little more tolerable. Did I mention it's organic? I mean, anything that says "organic" has to be wonderful, right? ;)

As far as the actual pancakes go, they are a little different from what you would make with a more traditional method. The company talks about "light and airy" pancakes, and they're right--the air in the can certainly adds to the "air" affect, and the cakes end up somewhere between pancake and crepe. They are not the traditional thick cake, but they're not completely flat, either. I like them, but I'm a little wierd when it comes to texture. Here's the finished product:

Normally this one can sells for $4.99 at Publix. I would never pay that much for this convenience. Currently (until next Wednesday) the cans are BOGO (buy one get one free) and there is a $1 off coupon you can print as many times as you want by following this link: John Tesh Radio Show Offer (While you're there, check out the cute promo video!) The final cost is $2.99 for two cans, and as each can produces approximately 28 pancakes I calculate each cake to cost around $.05. So, that's not too bad to try something new and to get a little break in the morning. The current cans don't expire until the end of March, so there's plenty of time to use them as well. If your Publix is out of them, don't forget to request a rain check!

NOTE: I had to search a while to find the cans--they were on the top shelf near the coffee creamers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's a's an odd center piece...'s my new set of feather dusters! And I love them!

Who knew dusting could feel so...chic? :)

Monday, January 12, 2009


I have been obsessed with lentils since I began hearing how good they are for our health. They are packed with fiber and protein but very inexpensive, and because of that they were the recommended meat substitute during the Depression.

It hasn't been easy for me to find good lentil recipes, though, so when I saw this one at the bottom of the page in a recent Family Circle magazine, I tried it immediately. I don't know the real definition of Chili, but honestly, this is really more of a chili-flavored soup. Regardless, it is easy to make with staple ingredients, and we thoroughly enjoyed it for lunch on this cold and cloudy day!

(Cooking Notes: This makes a full pot of soup, and I'm planning on freezing the leftovers for another day. I did substitute chicken broth for the water for a richer flavor. The diced tomatoes really made this soup for my son and me, so use ones that you really like!)

Smoky Lentil Chili
(Family Circle, Feb. 09, pg. 156)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan. Add 1/2 cup chopped onions; sauté for 2 minutes. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves; cook an additional 30 seconds. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder and 2 teaspoons ground cumin. stir in 3 cups of water, 1 cup dried brown lentils (rinsed) and 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes. Increase heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes, adding water as needed. Stir in 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve with brown rice.