Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings

It's hard to believe that this has been my front door for over 4 years now.  The whole concept of moving seemed so impossible at the beginning of September 2009 and by the end of the next month we had closed on the house we're in now.  I really can't imagine living anywhere else right now though the yard may end up being death of us and we desperately need to get some painting done.

J took the big kids to see Catching Fire.  Eleanor is home from college and Emma and Ringo have work this week so between their 2 schedules and various family obligations today seemed the best day to go.  The only problem is that the Tornado went to bed about an hour late and woke up about an hour early.  I knew it was going to be a bad day when I could already determine he needed more sleep before I even opened my eyes.  His mood has been rotten.

I watched the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who yesterday finally.  My mind is blown.  I was really afraid they were going to do more with the whole #10/Rose romance and I really didn't care anything about that.  I loved all the little clips of the past Doctors.  I also loved that they showed why Queen Elizabeth 1 hated #10 so much when they met at the end of The Shakespeare Code in season 3.  I'm definitely going to have to watch it again.  So many little details to catch.

I caved and bought a $15 grab bag from ModCloth and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.  It said that the estimated delivery was Nov 26th but that was yesterday and no grab bag.  When I went to track it the delivery date was gone and it's still showing as having left the FedEx facility in Ohio on November 22nd.  I want it NOW.  Can't wait to see what I got and if it fits.

Now I've got to get to prepping for Thanksgiving.  My motivation is not the highest at the moment. I'm hoping a lunch of Butternut Squash Ravioli and a Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake will turn that around.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Try-It Tuesday: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

This past week I visited my 12 Months of Cheesecake board and made this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake.  It's cookie dough, it's cheesecake, how could it go wrong?  Right?  Well not exactly.

In some ways this was a standard baked cheesecake recipe.  I softened lots of cream cheese and blended and blended and blended then baked for a long time and then stuck in the refrigerator for awhile.  The extra step involved making balls of edible cookie dough and freezing them then adding them to the cheesecake batter.  Now for the problems - I ended up with 2 technical problems.  The first one is that I should've cooked it longer.  I baked it for the hour called for and the top looked appropriately browned.  However, it probably should've baked an additional 20 minutes or so.  The center never quite set even after spending the night in the refrigerator.  Another technical problem is that I never got it quite smooth.  The cheesecake stayed a bit grainy.  This is another one where the fault was mine.  I do tend to get a bit impatient with cheesecakes.  But when it really came down to it I just didn't care for the flavor of the tart cheesecake with little balls of sweet cookie dough.
Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything
Verdict: Not worth the calories

For next Tuesday I'm going to attempt an advent calendar based on this pin that I found on my Christmas board.  After that I think I will end up staying on my Christmas board for awhile.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ipsy Glambag - November

I always look forward to getting my Ipsy Glambag in the mail.  The variety of brand, product and color is always so great that it's always something to look forward too.  I also can't wait to see what kind of makeup bag I will get.  

This month the bag is a really pretty gold snakeskin type bag.  It really could be used as a little evening bag in a pinch.  Inside there was:

Pixie Beauty Bronzer in Subtly Suntouched - This sample is HUGE.  I'm not sure if it's full sized but if not it's pretty close.  I'm not all that familiar with bronzers but I'm looking forward to playing with this.  I've seen the brand at Target and while it has a lot of really good reviews it's not a brand I've ever tried.

BH Cosmetics Galaxy Chic Baked Eye Shadow in Asteroid -  This a full sized eye shadow that is normally sold as part of a pallet.  The color is kind of a bronze with blue mixed in.  It's very pigmented and blends nicely.  I've never heard of this brand before.

Be a Bombshell Lip Pencil in Hot Damn - this is the second Be a Bombshell product I've gotten and so far I've been impressed with the line.  The pencil goes on really smoothly and has a smidge of shine.  The color is really bright but is a little sheer when applied making it much more wearable.  It lasts as long about as long as a decent lip gloss.

Nailtini Nailpolish in Caviar Cocktail - this is a full sized nail polish.  The color description is molten pewter which I think is about right.  It's definitely not silver but does have a lot of shine to it. It goes on thicker than Essie or Color Club but dries pretty fast and so far has held up through a playdate and a screaming 3 year old.

Em Michelle Phan Lash Gallery Mascara in black - Another full sized product.  This is a new makeup line by one of the creators of Ipsy.  This product alone is worth double the cost of the bag.  I haven't tried it yet because I'm finishing up a mascara from a few Ipsy bags ago but I'm looking forward to it.  I doubt I'd buy it though.  Unless the results are fake  eyelash amazing I doubt I'll be spending $20 on a mascara anytime soon.

Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil in Topaz - Another full sized product and the second pencil from Starlooks I've gotten from Ipsy.  This line of pencils is supposed to be super shiny and creamy with a microglitter finish and it definitely delivers on that.  This is the most shimmery eye pencil I've ever come across.  I was somewhat surprised by the color though.  When I saw topaz I was expecting more of a bronze and this is almost chrome.  I wasn't sure what to do with it until I saw something on Pinterest where they were using a metallic pencil on the waterline.  I've been copying that for the last few days and have really loved the look.

So 6 products that were either full sized or HUGE samples.  I'm always impressed by the amount of stuff I get in the Ipsy bags.  It's not always the most practical and the brands aren't always the most high end but I definitely think this is a fabulous deal!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 19 Cupcake - Beatty's Chocolate Cake in Cupcake Form

This past week completely got away from me.  Not only did I not get my posts done on Thursday and Friday like I try to do these cupcakes didn't come into existence until Friday instead of Wednesday like normally scheduled.  I had to cupcake recipes picked out for this week and next but they ended up being a little more complicated than I wanted to fool with on Friday afternoon.  Instead I went to my new and very dear friend Ina and her cookbook Barefoot Contessa at Home which is quickly becoming my favorite of hers.  In this book Ina makes her version of a dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate icing and I decided they would make perfect cupcakes

1. Source: Barefoot Contessa at Home but it is also on the Food Network website

2. Ease of Recipe (1 being cake mix/canned icing - 5 tons of steps and very time consuming): 3.  It's not the simplest chocolate cupcake with frosting because it is Ina after all but it's pretty straightforward.

3. Changes Made:  I left the egg yolk out of the frosting because it made me a little nervous.  I am a child of the salmonella awareness age after all and even though it would be somewhat cooked from the melted chocolate I just wouldn't have been comfortable feeding it to the Tornado.  Also Ina intended this for a cake not a cupcake.

4. Problems:  The frosting is a little runny.  It would be great for a cake but is not ideal for a cupcake.  It's hard to consider that a real problem though because if I had used the recipe as intended it would've been perfect.  I do wonder if the yolk would have removed this problem completely.

5.  Overall Impression:  The texture of the cake is beyond perfection.  This is definitely a cake for a true chocolate lover with it's rich chocolate-y taste.  My only problem was that I thought the coffee flavor was more prominent than I expected in the frosting.  If I made it again I would probably cut it down to a 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon.

6. Quantity:  24

7. Make Again?: Probably not in cupcake form but this in true cake form would be divine.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings

I'm caught up with Doctor Who finally!  I watched Angels Take Manhattan while I was cooking dinner last night so I'm ready for the 50th Anniversary episode Saturday.  There are a few from the 2nd part of the 7th season that I want to re-watch but since BBC America is doing all Doctor Who all the time this week I don't think it's going to be a problem.

The Tornado spent some time running around outside today since we're having actual fall weather right now.  Ignore the scraggly bushes to the left.  The shrubs were merrily taking over the sidewalk when we bought the house and we are trying to hack them back into shape.  It's challenging to say the least.

Ringo has now officially entered the world of food service!  He had orientation last night and officially starts training on Monday.  I have to hunt up a pair of black Dickies brand pants between now and then. I have no idea where they sell them so it may be a bit of an adventure.

We did a story time at a local bookstore on Monday and I was so impressed with the Tornado's behavior.  Last time we went I had to sit with him and he really wasn't too into the craft.  This time he sat on a bench with the other kids and then went up on the stage and did the craft on his own.  He looked like such a big boy I about cried.  It's hard to believe he's going to be 4 in just over a month until he does stuff like that.

I'm having to refocus a little on my happiness plan.  Actually mostly on the eating portion of the plan.  I'm really just wanting to eat sweets constantly right now.  The house cleaning part I'm actually doing pretty good and it's nice to feel on top of things.  I'm trying to get all my holiday planning done in time to actually do all the things I want to do.  So far I'm doing pretty well.  I've made a list of all the supplies I need for the Christmas projects and will hopefully pick the stuff up this week.

Thrift store trip tomorrow!  Just a quick fly by but hopefully a productive one!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Try-It Tuesday - Turkey Handprint Craft

This weekend J and Ringo were at a soccer tournament, Emma was at work and it rained a lot.  It ended up being the perfect time for the Tornado and I to do this Turkey craft I had pinned 2 years ago.  While it didn't turn out exactly like the one pictured I thought it looked pretty good given my limited crafting abilities and the Tornado being, well, 3.  He picked the colors for the feathers so we have blue, green and brown.  Due to the size of his hands we ended up fanning out the handprints versus layering them like they did in the original post.  It was fun, simple and we had all the supplies at home and the Tornado was thrilled with it.

For next week I'm visiting my 12 Months of Cheesecake board and trying this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake from The Girl Who Ate Everything that I pinned 6 months ago.  After that I have a feeling it's going to be all Christmas stuff for awhile.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Birchbox Review - November

So this is my 5th Birchbox and I still get a thrill every time I see that pink box in the mailbox.  The day I get my Ipsy bag is a pretty good day too.  What I love about Birchbox is the variety of brands they have and the number of product possibilities each month.  I don't think I've gotten 2 of anything in the same brand - other than the Miss Jessie stuff before I removed hair products from my profile.  For someone like me who adores trying different things this is a definite selling point.  This month's theme is "More Good" which is a little vague but seems to be about focusing on good products that give back.  I only got 5 samples but I think I'm going to get some use out of all of them so that makes it okay.

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator ($34)
Years ago I used a Micro Dermabrasion kit from Mary Kay.  I loved how finely gritty it was and how my skin always looked so great afterwards.  However, I didn't love the price so once I used up one kit I never re-bought it.  This product reminds me of this but I think exfoliates even better.  Plus I love the price!  This came in a travel size tube and I will definitely be purchasing it.

Chella Highlighter Pencil  ($18)

This is a really creamy highlighter pen.  It blends in really well and provides just the right amount of natural highlight.  The lasting power isn't super great and I really haven't tried enough of this type of product to know how it compares to other highlight pencils.  If this didn't come in a full size pencil size it's pretty close.

Color Club Cocktail Hour Collection in Top Shelf ($8)
I've seen this brand around but have never had the chance to try it.  The color is the gorgeous neutral gold metallic.  It's very subtle and gives my nails just the right amount of shimmer without being to obvious GOLD.  I've had the color on for about 24 hours and it's holding up pretty good.  I'm really hard on nail polish so the fact I won't need to do touch ups tonight is pretty impressive.  It came in a cute little sample bottle - about the size of Essie or OPI gift pack bottles.  The consistency is very similar to Essie.

Chuao Chocolatier Chocolate Bars in Orange-A-Go-Go ($6)

It's hard to go wrong with chocolate - especially if it's chocolate with orange.  This is a delicious bittersweet chocolate with little bits of orange.  Soooo good.  I've seen this brand at Target but never bought any but I'm thinking that will change.  This brand has lots of fun flavors like popcorn and honeycomb.

TOCCA Crema da Mano Luxe in Cleopatra

This is AMAZING.  I'm always forgetting to use hand cream but I've been using this one every night just because the scent is so pretty.  Cleopatra is a mix of cucumber and grapefruit and smells light and fresh and soothing all at once.  I would love to have this in a body lotion and a candle in this scent would be divine.  I'm not sure I'll purchase this myself but it will definitely go on my Christmas list.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Foodie Friday

Chef of the Month

I definitely made up for not trying many of Ina's recipes.  Let me just say that Ina is my new friend.  We  have been well fed this week.  The only problem is that all of her cookbooks are equally good.  With Giada and even Bobby there was 1 cookbook that I used far more than the others.  With Ina all 7 of the cookbooks I'm using are full of great recipes.  I really don't have the space or budget to buy 7 more cookbooks but I'm going to have to figure something out quick.

So This week we had:

Parmesan Chicken from her Family Style book - This is a pretty standard chicken cutlet recipe.  You dredge the chicken in flour, egg and then a bread crumb mixture and lightly pan fry it.  This turned out super flavorful and super crispy.

Confetti Corn from Back to Basics - a nice corn side dish with onions, bell peppers, and basil.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes from Barefoot in Paris - I didn't particularly care for this one as the taste of olive oil was a little strong for me.  Everyone else liked them but I still like Pioneer Woman's better

Brioche Loaf - came together nicely but took awhile to make and then has to rise overnight.  I have discovered with a few things that her cooking times seem to be way over - like by 10 minutes or so.  The tops of them got a little over baked but I just cut off the tops and used the rest of the loaf for dinner the next night which was:

Challah French Toast from Family Style - she said you could use challah or brioche for this so I used her brioche recipe and then made her French Toast out of it.  This was good French Toast but I like Nigella's and the French Toast from Orangette better.

Hashed Browns also from Family Style - These were really really good and pretty low maintenance.  You chop the stuff up, dump it in pan and stir it over medium heat for awhile.

Shortbread Hearts - though mine were actually shortbread pumpkins.  This is another recipe where the baking time was an issue.  The first sheetful got burned to a crisp but luckily I had more dough.  These are butter-y with just the right amount of crunch.  Everything a shortbread cookie should be.  They're also the perfect base to add too.  She has another recipe where she adds pecans and also uses this as the base for her linzer cookies.  I think they'd also be good with half dipped in chocolate.

Cheddar Corn Chowder from Barefoot Contessa - This was amazing.  It did take awhile but it was essentially pretty simple.  Chop and stir.  The only downside was the recipe made a VAT of chowder.  I think I could cut this down to a 1/3 and still feed everyone plus have leftovers.

With this I served her Cheese Straws from Barefoot in Paris.  These use puff pastry as a base so they're super easy and puff pastry may just be one of my favorite things.  The only change I would make would be to cut the strips in half.  The straws were a little long and tended to bend.

So not a bad week for the Contessa and I'm looking forward to trying more of her food next week.


Only 2 recipes were made from Pinterest.  After all the Contessa food there wasn't much time for anything else.

Homemade Flour Tortillas from Mom on Timeout - these are so simple to make and all the ingredients are pantry staples.  They heat up really well too.  I've made these probably a dozen times and have completely stopped buying flour tortillas from the store.  These are so much better.

Hot Chocolate Cookies from Seeded at the Table - these taste just like a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows.  I love how you bake the cookies until just about done, stick the marshmallows on and let them toast for the last few minutes of baking.  They're nice and chewy and chocolate-y.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Week 18 Cupcake - Vanilla Bean

The last few weeks have involved some pretty over the top cupcakes.  I still get a little dreamy when I think about the Barefoot Contessa's Peanut Butter Frosting.  This week I decided to go with simplicity itself and make a vanilla cake with vanilla bean frosting.  I had found some vanilla beans for a fairly good price at HomeGoods a few weeks ago and figured this was a perfect way to play with them.  When it comes down to it though I just don't think I'm a vanilla frosting kind of girl.

1. Source: Chef Mommy
2. Ease of Recipe (1 being cake mix/canned icing - 5 tons of steps and very time consuming): 3 maybe.  Pretty easy even though everything was from scratch.

3. Changes Made:  I added extra vanilla bean to the frosting to give a little more of a vanilla kick.

4. Problems:  I think I may have over mixed it a bit because the cake was a smidge of the dry side.

5.  Overall Impression:  These were okay but not amazing.  I think I overmixed the cake because the texture was a little tougher than I wanted it to be.  I think the bigger problem is that I'm just not sold on vanilla buttercreams right now.  I haven't found one that I think the sugar/butter/vanilla balance each other and I seem to get more the taste of powdered sugar than anything else.  I think if I made the cake with a cream cheese frosting with the vanilla beans I'd like it a lot more but that is of course just personal taste.

6. Quantity:  12

7. Make Again?:  I will definitely give the cake another try and be more careful with the mixing but I probably won't make the frosting again.  I may, however, add vanilla beans to a cream cheese frosting.  The more I think about it the more interested I get in the idea actually.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings

The Tornado was helping J with yard work this weekend which resulted in this cuteness.  His favorite thing to do is to steal J's coke then he giggles like mad when he gets caught.

Looks like Ringo may possibly have a job!  He has an interview today so we're keeping our fingers crossed.  He's really excited about it too which is fun to see.

I am finally caught up with How I Met Your Mother and almost caught up with Doctor Who.  I'm now watching New Girl and Lie to Me.  I'm loving Lie to Me.  I love how accurate they are on guessing the emotions.  It's like they have superpowers.  It gets kind of funny sometimes.  I have mixed feelings about New Girl.  I know I'm about the only person in the world who doesn't adore Zooey Deschanel but her character Jess annoys me more often the not.  But then every I've had it with Jess or Schmidt and decide I'm not watching this anymore Nick or Winston does something great and I keep watching.

Putting aside segments of time to play with the Tornado has worked out really great.  I've been able to really just play with him during that time and not feel guilty about not doing other things.  On the other side I've been able to get other things done without feeling guilty that I'm not playing with him because I know I will later.  I think next week I'm going to have to work on some alone play too.  I find myself having to fight with him constantly if I'm trying to get ready to go or cooking dinner or anything else where I have to focus on something else.  It's definitely a point of stress that needs to be worked on.

I have finally cleaned out my "Save for Later" folder on my feedly account and gotten everything pinned to proper pinboards.  There's like 800 (literally) posts that are waiting to be read.  I definitely don't need to wait as long to clean that folder out again.  Come to think of it I probably should unfollow a blog or two while I'm at it.  It's kind of a problem.

I've uncovered a fundamental issue on my own little happiness project.  One of the things that has made me the happiest is staying more on top of things.  I want to expand that out to figure out how to bridge the gap from all the ideas I come up with and them actually happening.  I always have a million ideas about different projects of things I want to do for different holidays but I very rarely make them happen.  For the next couple of weeks I think I'm going to try and work on that.  With Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Tornado's birthday coming up I'm going to be busy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Try-It Tuesday - Cleaning Bath Toys

This week I decided to clean the Tornado's bath toys using this process from We Love Being Moms!  Now his bath toys were repulsive.  Some were so moldy it was hard to tell what they had originally been.  I was pretty convinced this was going to be a lost cause and I'd end up tossing them.  Instead I got:
This perfectly clean sinkful of toys.  Including a sparkly clean Eeyore.  Eeyore had been buried at the bottom of the bath toys bucket and was by far the grossest.  I'd post a before picture but I'm pretty sure the CDC would show up at my house.  I very well may have been Ground Zero for the next plague outbreak.  It's also possible that I just sent some ground breaking bacteria down the drain.  I used the bleach method listed on the site and was a little afraid that the color of the toys would fade or be damaged.  Most of them came out looking exactly as before.  The only issue was on 3 character bath poof things the black faded to a brown.  Elmo and Cookie Monster now have brown eyes.  But the netting is completely clean and the rest of the toys are no longer dingy with ...whatever that was.  This was a little tedious but it was mostly because I had a huge quantity of toys so I had to do them in 2 batches.  I followed the bleach method directions exactly except I didn't even have to scrub mine.  Just soak, rinse and done.  I'm no longer horrified by bath toys.  It's kind of nice!
Source: We Love Being Moms! blog
Verdict: Keeper!  Simple and effective.  Hard to ask for more.

Next week the Tornado and I are going to attempt a TP Roll Turkey from Busy Bee Kids Crafts which came off my Ideas For the Little and Thanksgiving/Fall boards.  Given are aptitude for art I make no promises that it will actually resemble a turkey.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Foodie Friday

This week was a dismal failure when it came to cooking.  I made a cupcake recipe from Barefoot Contessa, a dip and a pasta bake and that was it.  It's been a crazy week and one of those weeks where I really didn't get much accomplished (other than a great visit to a thrift store and a consignment store) but I feel completely and totally frazzled.

Chef of the Month:
This month I'm spending some time (well my goal is to atleast) with Ina Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa.  I'm quite sure most of my ingredients will not qualify as "good" in her opinion but I will soldier through.  This month I'll be using 7 of her cookbooks:  Barefoot Contessa Family StyleHow Easy Is That?Back to BasicsBarefoot in ParisAt HomeThe Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and Foolproof.  Flipping through them I've been pretty impressed with the scope of her books.  With Bobby Flay and Giada they seemed to have areas they specialized in and in other categories would only have a few recipes.  Flay flat out said that he was not a pastry chef and while he liked desserts, baking was not his thing.  Giada was definitely low on breads, breakfast stuff, and sides.  Ina, however, has a very well rounded repertoire of recipes.  She has lots of main dishes ranging from formal entrees to lunch type food, breakfast dishes, sides, breads and tons of desserts.  It's probably possible to cook from her books alone and have everything you could ever need.  Right now I can't testify to the quality because the only thing I've made of hers so far is the cupcakes I talked about yesterday.  If they were any indication it's going to a good month!


This Baked Potato Dip from Allrecipes is everything a dip should be.  It's super easy to make, makes enough for a large group but stores well if you make it for a small one, and is super delicious.  The only thing I did different from the recipe is that I used about 1/2 teaspoon of toasted onion powder instead of the chopped green onions.  It definitely needs the hint of onion though I guess garlic or some kind of spice would work just as well.

For dinner Monday night I tried this Baked Penne with Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes from The Art of Comfort Baking.  I really liked that it didn't have cream of chicken soup or any other canned ingredients.  It wasn't my absolute favorite but it was good, filling and simple to make so it will definitely be making another appearance.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Week 17 Cupcakes - Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I had a crazy afternoon hauling a tired over stimulated 3 year old and 2 teenagers all over the place.  I was hungry, tired and my ankle felt like someone had been hitting it with a hammer.  However, the thought of a plate of these amazing chocolatey peanut buttery cupcakes waiting for me at home kept me from curling up in a ball and refusing to go anymore.  This is the first recipe from Barefoot Contessa that I've tried this month and if every other recipe ends up being awful the month will still come out as a win.

1. Source: Barefoot Contessa at Home on Food Network

2. Ease of Recipe (1 being cake mix/canned icing - 5 tons of steps and very time consuming): 3

3. Changes Made: None.  This recipe is perfection.

4. Problems:  None.  See above.

5.  Overall Impression:  I can't say enough positive things about this frosting.  It's amazing. It's richly peanut buttery yet still light and airy.  And the cake...  When I talk about these cupcakes I feel like Marshall from How I Met Your Mother when he talks about hamburgers.   It tends to get poetical and dramatic.  These are really really really good.

6. Quantity:  15

7. Make Again?:  Yes, I may just make these once a week for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings

 I'm desperately wanting this new cookbook from The Pioneer Woman.  I could get on the kindle for pretty cheap but I really hate cookbooks on the kindle so I'll have to cough up the $7 and get a copy in hardback.

I got a pair of black boots at a consignment store yesterday for $15!  They look brand new.  This is one more item I can cross off the "Things I'll have to suck it up and pay retail for" list.  There's still a few more things on the list but it's shrinking rapidly.

The Tornado, Ringo and I are going crazy with allergies right now.  Emma seems to have some kind of awful hacking cough which keeps making her lose her voice but she swears she feels fine.

I found a planner I bought at the beginning of the school year and haven't used at all and have been using it to keep track of my happiness resolutions.  Having something tangible has really been keeping me more focuses but I like that it's not a big complicated chart.  I've added a tidy up end of day routine and another 20 minute interval to play with the Tornado this week.  I want to start doing some holiday planning regularly so I can make sure all of those fun crafts and stuff actually get done instead of just hanging out on my Pinterest boards.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Try-It Tuesday - Pretzel Bites

This past week I tried out these Pretzel Bites from Just Get Off Your Butt and Bake from my Snacks, Drinks and Breakfast Stuff Board.  This one got pinned almost 2 years ago so it was more than time to give a try.

The Results:  For some reason I was intimidated by the boiling step of making these.  There was absolutely no reason to because they ended up being super easy.  I didn't read the instructions fully and dipped the boiled dough in butter and then cinnamon/sugar and seasoning blends before baking but that turned out really good.  The only problem is that I mixed salt in with the seasoning blend for the savory ones and some ended up being WAY to salty.  Next time I will just finish stick with a straight up seasoning blend (Brady Street from Penzeys was terrific on these) and then just finish with salt.

Source: Just Get Off Your Butt and Bake
Verdict: Keeper!  Turned out great and were super easy even when I didn't follow the directions completely.

Next Week:
I'm going to visit my Ideas for the Little Board and Clean Bath Toys.  This is desperately needed as the Tornado's bath toys are either growing the start of the zombie apocalypse or a cure for cancer.

Monday, November 4, 2013

October Wrap Up

What a big month October has been!  Emma and Ringo survived football/competition season which included 2 out of town competitions.  One of which had a call time of 4AM.  That means they had to be at the school at around 3:30/3:45 AM.  This wouldn't have been such a big deal but since J was going to the competition he had to leave at about 6.  Not much sleep was had by anyone that day.
The Tornado survived his first illness that was caught from school and then promptly gave it to me.  He was sick for about 6 hours on a Sunday.  I was fighting the death cold for about 2 1/2 weeks.  He also survived his very time Trick or Treating.  He had been wanting to be a zombie for a few weeks but then thankfully Daniel Tiger was a sheriff on an episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood so we were able to convince him to wear the very cute sheriff costume we had found.  His school had a Wizard of Oz themed party on the 30th and then we went Trick or Treating on the 31st.  He did great about saying Trick or Treat and thank you and then added Happy Halloween on his own which got him some extra candy.  Unfortunately, it started pouring down rain about 20 minutes in but a local church was doing an indoor thing so Halloween was saved.

Chef of the Month - I was surprisingly disappointed this month with Giada De Laurentiis.  Dinner for the month of October were pretty much exclusively her recipes and there were very few things that we really were impressed with.  Most of the food was okay, a couple of things turned out badly but there were only one or two things that were "Wow this is really good".  I did end up ordering Everyday Italian which I got the most use out of.  This one has a lot of good basic recipes including the Alfredo sauce and the tortellini in light broth which were probably our favorites.  Overall it ended up being a pretty uninspiring month of food.  I'm hoping that November will be a little more interesting with The Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) though I doubt my grocery store level ingredients will be quite good enough for her!

Favorite Beauty Buy:  I've been looking for a daytime red lipstick forever.  I've got a drawer full of attempts but they've all ended up being too orange or too glossy or too something.  Luckily on a spur of the moment trip to Sephora the guy who had spent quite awhile showing me perfumes steered me towards the Sephora brand lipstick in Courtisane.  It's brown enough that it's a neutral but still dark enough to have some impact.  The formula is a little drying but not too bad.  I need to go pick up a second tube to keep in my purse!

Favorite Thrift Store Find: I actually got this at a consignment store but it was in the 75% off section so it was still less than $5.  Last year I was drooling over a shirt at Anthropologie with a teacup pattern.  I finally decided not to get it because $48 was just a little too much for a novelty shirt.  Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled upon that same shirt in my size for less than $5!  If I wasn't already convinced that thrift stores were the way to go this would've done it!

Favorite Beauty Box Product: I had 2 great boxes this month but the product I'm still using the most is from my Ipsy bag.  I'm loving this Sexy Hair Blow Dry Volumizing Hair Gel the most right now.  I rub about a nickle size into the roots of towel dryed hair, then blow dry it for a few minutes with my hair flipped over. I've had no issue with stickiness or greasiness and have gotten the perfect amount of lift and volume.  Love this stuff!

Random Find: J and I were thrilled when we discovered the Daniel Tiger Toys last time we were at a toy store.  The Tornado loves him some Daniel Tiger and is now the proud owner of the trolley and a set of figures.  Daniel's house and O the Owl's treehouse will be joining the collection  on Christmas.  The toys were originally scheduled to come out in spring of 2014 and I was really worried that he would outgrow them by then.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Foodie Friday

Chef of the Month
I got 3 new Giada recipes in for this crazy last week of October.

On Monday night we had these Spiced Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze with mashed potatoes.  The glaze was amazing but we all thought the red pepper was a little too much on the actual chops themselves.  The flavor overpowered the glaze.
Tuesday night we had a Chicken with Lemon Cream Sauce over Penne (though in our case it was elbow because that was what I had).  This one didn't go over well at all.  The lemon zest made it too lemon-y and over powered the cream sauce.  The zest gave it a baked good taste versus the desired main dish taste.  To make things worse, other than the lemon this dish really didn't have any flavor.  Emma and I couldn't eat it at all.  Ringo finished it and said it was okay but not something he'd love to have again.
We also had her Glazed Chocolate Chip Pound Cake.  This was a good moist super chocolatey loaf cake.   It would go great warmed up with a little vanilla ice cream.  It's a dark chocolate cake so it may be a little much for some kids or anyone who doesn't love dark chocolate.  The recipe makes 2 loaves so it'd be good for a crowd or to freeze one.

Pinterest and Other Recipes

For Halloween night I made these Mummy Hot Dogs from little smokies and crescent roll dough.  The Tornado was so excited about them he could barely stand it and actually tried one.  It gets a little confusing because instead of Mummy he says Mommy so when he talks about them today it takes me a minute to figure out what he's saying.

I also made this Cemetery Cookie Dessert which I discovered can be put together from start to finish in less than 8 minutes.  I made this last year and was informed that it is now a tradition so it does seem to go over well.  The main difference I make is that I use chocolate pudding instead of vanilla.

Finally, these Chocolate Kiss Cookies got made.  Instead of the Valentine's sprinkles I used Halloween sprinkles and pressed a candy eye down onto the kiss to give them a little spookiness.

This was about all that got made here this week.  The Tornado had a school party Wednesday night so dinner ended up basically being candy.  I'm going to do my best to do a little detox this coming week!  I'm sugared out which I didn't really think was possible.