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Thursday, January 31, 2013

January

Sometimes I wonder if half my Pinterest fails are because I don't really follow the directions to the letter....Okay, okay...maybe half of life's fails can be attributed to this particular trait. But then again what letters are we supposed to follow? Your letters or recipes or directions certainly aren't going to work exactly right for me and mine for you. It's pretty much one of those learn as you go things combined with do what seems good at the time for your family. Which I obviously follow maybe a little too closely when it come to cooking. In the grander scheme of things, yes I believe there's a higher plan to follow but even when two people believe the same thing we know that plan isn't going to work out the same in both our lives. So obvious disclaimer here is these are totally my opinions and you might see the same Pinterest pin and have it work great for you while I flop it.

Back to January's pins. I don't think we had any huge flops, but nothing really turned out the way I expected it too either. My tastes were good in the choosing but I'd personally tweek some if these pins if you want to check them out for yourself.

Take the Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup I made in the middle of the month. I love creamy potatoes and my kids hate the ideas of onions, so I loved that this pin used the blender to both mask the texture and look of the onion and satisfied my creamy factor, especially when you added cream cheese after simmering the potatoes and chicken broth all afternoon. Here's the part where I tell you how I didn't really follow the recipe...I didn't actually check out how many grams=ounces so I ended up having about 50 grams or 2 ounces too much cream cheese. I just thought it ended up tasting like WAY too much cream cheese.   So even tho I used more then the recipe called for, it wasn't that much more and I think next time I'd only use one package of cheese more potatoes so you'd end up with the same creamy result but not such an overpoweringly rich soup.  Richness might be great if you are serving it in small portions as an appetizer but is not so hot as a main course dish. (And how often do you actually have soup as an appetizer except when you are out dining fancy, which around here is a very rare occurrence. ). Anyways, good idea but beware the cream cheese. Everything else was super quick and easy to throw together and Moose and M&M loved adding the cheese, bacon, and sour cream toppings and mixing them into their individual bowls.

**The hubby got home really late the night we had this soup and just ended up eating some chili leftovers, so I felt safe to remake this soup for our family dinner Sunday.  I added more chicken broth, and some mashed potatoes and put the bacon right in our leftovers and it was MUCH better.  There was just a hint of the richness and since I had cooked a ham as the main dish it went great as a side.

Same night as the original potato soup, I made Biscuit Bombs which are basically just cheesy Pillsbury biscuits. I thought they were fairly impressive and better than my usual standby of crescents and cheese because the cheese did a better job staying in these rolls, plus the added seasonings on top were a plus. There again though I had ran out of parm cheese which prob would have made the biscuits a lot better and maybe even company worthy rather than a last minute side for my too-rich soup!

I also made a couple batches of cookie pins I found on Pinterest. We must have been into cream cheese this month because both cookie recipes used cream cheese too. First came the Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookies that called for a boxed mix of cream cheese pudding. Didn't have it so I just used plain old cream cheese and the result was the cookies weren't really that much different than normal. I dipped them in choco tho like the recipe called for, something I've never done with peanut butter cookies and we all really like that. Next time I'm going to try to actually use the pudding mix, that is if I can find such a thing.  This recipe more than likely came from the states and it can be hard to find the exact same things here.  Like breakfast sausage in a tube....never buy it in Northern Ontario.  They use bread crumbs as a filler and it is disgustingly gross!  Back to the cookies:

Cookie(s) number two were Oreo Cream Cheese Cookies and, surprisingly, the hubby really liked them. He hates cream cheese and I love it so I'm always trying to mask it in other things. Everyone seemed to really like the cookies but I'd make sure to use mini chips like the recipe calls for because using the normal chips (to me) made them taste like a glorified chocolate chip cookie and I'm not sure why because they are really totally different. Have a tall glass of milk handy if you want to make either of these cookies, it's a must!

Haven't been very crafty/project inspired this month. I relied on my mom to help me with curtains for the kids room, which meant I cut and she sewed. Turned out cute, I think, and just went with some simple but cheap curtain rods. Thinking about doing some ruffle curtains like these for our room now, but I'm such a chicken when it comes to sewing and I don't know why because halfway through I always love it.

My only other project this month was to whip up a quick birthday present for my sister-in-law that lives next door.  I'd been wanting to try some of the sugar scrub recipes that I've seen on Pinterest.  I did have to pick up some coconut oil and peppermint essential oil at the health food store, but ended up coming home with jojoba oil and lemon essential oil instead.  It made a nice pint size batch when mixed with the sugar and olive oil I had on hand, plus a little leftover that I've been trying.  My only issue is that I added a bit more essential oil than it called for and it was a little too liquidy.  By this I don't mean the hand scrub was actually a liquid, the color kept sinking to the bottom so it was more yellow at the base and whiter at the top.  I kept tipping the jar upside down and within a few minutes the entire jar would be the same.  I wanted it nice and scentsy so next time I will use less olive oil and more essential oil.  This is the link to my pin.  As you can see I also used this inspiration of a cupcake liner to hide/prettify the boring lid.  She is also a peanut butter and chocolate lover so I made Sloppy Peanut Butter Pie, which was very good, but also very rich.  Definitely easy enough to make again but I would halve the powdered sugar!

I can't say I've been getting the kids into too many crazy activities either. I guess the Christmas toys have kept them pretty occupied. A little surprised because M&M had four snow days this month, a day at home because of a dentist appointment and another day at home because of a planned teacher protest that ended up being cancelled. That and the month started off with still being on winter vacation for a bit at the beginning which meant we've only had two weeks of school this month! The only thing we tried was this  plastic bag finger painting which kept then occupied and independent for maybe 15 min and then they were sick of it. Not sure if I needed to use more paint or if my craft paint doesn't work the same as the tempura used in the link, but it wasn't worth keeping. They had five minutes of fun and then I had to keep encouraging the two to try to make a fingerprint or draw a picture. M&M has a pd day on Friday to start off February and I already have supplies to make some fake snow so hopefully that provides more entertainment. I'm sure it will be messier.


I used this great organizing idea for my small scrapbook scraps. Found these cute magazine boxes at the dollar store and at two for 1$ the price was right.  M&M and I waded through this overflowing box of teeny tiny scraps and some bigger stuff too and ended up with a big box for her classrooms art centre and a much more manageable system for momma, color coordinated too!



I've been pinning tons of stuff for my sister in laws upcoming baby shower I'm hosting and super excited about. Party planning is sooo much fun! So I will keep you posted on that as we work through it. My other sister in law doesn't want me to over do the food like I usually tend to, so I'm trying to really find things that will come together nice. We are going with a "Popping" theme and throwing as many chevron patterns in as possible. Check out this idea for her baby room: cute, eh?! I've finished up the invites and my pinsperstion is here and here! Plus a new niece? What's not too love? I already got a totally cute mute button pacifier like this, but in pink as a Christmas gift for the new squaller, that I thought was rocking when I saw it in Pinterest!  Hope you are looking as forward to February's pins as I am!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

December's Pins!

  The Holidays are such a good time for Pinterest...where else can I possibly find awesome recipes to cook and share, plus homemade gifts that keep the price down on holiday gifting, and crafts for that two week holiday M&M and I have both been looking so forward to? Yes, the Internet in general provides all these, but without Pinterest I would be surfing like a desperado with two screaming kids yelling that they are hungry and bored for something to eat, do, and whip up for the Christmas Concert Bake Sale tomorrow. Okay, so they still scream like desperado's, but Pinterest seriously makes our life easier and more fun!

And on to what we were up to in December....



  It started off with a couple of craft projects I'd been wanting to do for some time. I love those date signs with the cute saying at the bottom, so I chose to do the hubby and I's birth date, wedding date, and the kids birth date, followed by "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Emma and Tom in the baby Carriage." Fit our family pretty perfectly. I had this painted board from the Dollar Store that had a saying I really liked, but one of the letters was in an over sized cross that I wasn't so crazy about. I ended up finding a different sign with the same saying (minus cross), this one with a mirror behind it, also in the dollar store and decided to use this one for a new purpose. After a whole bunch of attempts at transfer printing (I tried using waxed paper instead of freezer paper and the ink only rubbed off about half the time), and chalking the saying (I only had leftover sidewalk chalk from the summer and there was too much to write), I ended up just using some good old-fashioned painting and stencils. Turned out cute I think...and the whole shelf is pretty much us in a nutshell! This is the link for the original sign I saw and these two are the links that didn't work for me (because I promised this would also be about pins that are cool looking, but alot harder in theory!) I think if I were to attempt this again I might just print this sign from the computer and frame it like the original pin.


   The next project was a shelf I'd been wanting to get hung. My dad made my sister and I matching shelves as kids and it hung in Emma's room at the last house. While I liked the shelf (I certainly can't buy anything that solid and well crafted for under $100), the color didn't really go well with their room anymore because of the new furniture we bought after the move. Then I saw a pin from one of the people I follow about stripping and redoing furniture...duh! So off I went to the hardware store. $20 later I came home with some stripping gel, sandpaper, gloves, and stain/urethane in hand. Everything worked out okay...I think the shelf looks good up, but as I was working it wasn't quite the color I was going for and I had some funky lines that appeared after I stripped the old stain off. I think the stripping gel might have dried a little bit before I got it all removed. I was also in a rush to start staining and I think I probably should have given it one more coat of the stripping gel to totally remove all the golden oak color. (In the pin it was okay to leave some of it so you got a farmhouse look.) A little more prep and this project would have turned out more like I expected, but thanks anyway Pinterest for getting me to do something I wouldn't have otherwise thought to attempt! Here's my inspiration.

   December sometimes seemed like a long month before we hit school break. Brad was working long hours and M&M was tired. Tired from no longer napping during the day because of school. Tired from the last three months of school. We were all ready for a break! One evening early in the month, I made something called Cloud Dough. It was really quick to make and kept the kiddos busy for over an hour. (Maybe it helped that I just stayed out of the room the entire time they were playing because I didn't want to yell at them for the mess that was being made. I just wanted them to enjoy making a mess!)
   Cloud Dough is really easy. 8 cups flour and 1 cup baby oil was enough for two kids and I still have one large Ziploc bag left that didn't end up on the floor or table. I even made it easy on myself and let them mix it up themselves. Describe it? Kind of like a cross between sand and and playdough.

  Every two weeks a bunch of the ladies in our church get together for coffee. Last year we did a cookie exchange and decided to continue the tradition this year, but upped the ante from one dozen to two. I made Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting. You can find them here. They were very yummy! I also included a few in containers when I sent goodies to school for the Christmas Concert bake sale. I also made a "Starbucks Lemon Loaf" that was moist and lemony.

 
  M&M was lucky enough to have a short week during the last week of school in December. Monday the teachers were protesting Bill 115 so there was no school. I decided to stay at home with the kiddos, rather than walk since I have only worked two days so far this year and it's expensive to pay a babysitter when the income doesn't match that! For a fun activity we put a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave. After it expands about 10x the original size, it breaks apart into a million tiny pieces. We added water back into the bowl and a bit of food coloring before molding the mixture into cookie cutters to make soap animals the kids could use in the tub. Wasn't quite as fun or long lasting as the cloud dough, but a good experiment anyways. The microwave step was actually really cool! Ivory soap pin is here:
 
  I also used pinterest for a bit of decor advice and came up with this mirror setup for the top of our piano. It looks really festive now with a garland of Christmas lights reflecting and shining atop the old ivory keys. I also added the M&M and Moose's stockings to the sides, since we don't have a mantel. I hate to take them down because it will be a little dreary without the color! But then I guess the picture (from before) isn't too dreary, so I shall take courage! Here is my style advice.
 
  Anyone else use Pinterest for gift ideas? We found this cute idea for a quick inexpensive gift to give all the adults at the school who are making an impact on Emma's life here. I also made a quick picture frame from the usual ugly dollar store variety and a piece of scrapbook paper for my sister-in-law. Just used spray adhesive and trimmed the paper to fit. I saw that on my sis's Pinterest, but didn't actually pin the link. As far as the kid's Christmas I loved this rule that limited my gift-giving to a reasonable amount! One thing they need, one thing they want, one thing to wear, and one thing to read! I can't say the hubby was sooo anxious to limit it quite that much, but it helped restrain my instincts of over shopping!
Hope everyone had a wonderful holidays and is looking forward to another year!
P.S. Which is more useful...me copying the links to actual websites like I did in November or the links to my pins on Pinterest like I did on this post?