Monday, January 30, 2012

That's just nuts....

Had a great but busy weekend.  Saturday attended a baby shower during the day and then rushed home to finish up getting ready for Vivian's Slumber Party.  Six giggly teenage girls!  Good times.  We had nachos, pizza and these little guys...
Cupcakes are a must at any slumber party!
The plan was for them to each decorate their own cupcakes but that never happened.  They were too busy laughing, singing, gossiping, etc.  No worries though, I was able to practice my frosting skills (or lack of).  The cake part is Strawberry flavored (from a box) with home made Vanilla Cream Cheese frosting (I'm not too crazy about frosting from a can). 

Before  I "rushed" home I made a pit stop at Home Depot and bought these...

No, not for the slumber party but to make these...

Cute and, yes, super easy, bracelets!  I got the idea from Letandas blog.  Check out her blog she has some really cool designs using hex nuts. I know! Who knew?!?!  Who (whom?!?!) ever started this idea (I'm not sure if it was her) is VERY ingenious!  I really like the way they turned out.  

I'm going to play around with (sorry couldn't resist) and come up with some different bracelets and earrings.  Stay tuned!

 Until next time!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


So, this post was ready to go on Monday, but the technology I use to take photos and send said photos to e-mail decided it didn’t want to work.  What technology would that be…my cell phone camera.  You see I don’t have one of those fancy SLR cameras yet (by yet I mean probably will not have for many years and by then the newest version of SLR will be some totally awesome camera that takes pix by you commanding it with your brain or something like that….but then again I’ve always been behind with gadgets so no biggie) and the cable for my digital camera is still MIA.  OK, so where was I…Oh yes, my sucky phone camera…I was able to take the photos but then when I tried to email them I got the big FAIL.  Ugh!  I tried sending one at a time and still nothing.  So I gave up…but then today I called Verizon and had an interesting convo with the the tech dude.  

Tech dude (after I explained the problem):  I’m the type of guy that likes things easy. Whenever I can get it easy that’s the best.  (Umm…OK.)  
Me:  I’m not sure what you mean but can you fix my phone?

Tech Dude: Well, of course!  I’m just saying that there’s a hard way and an easy way and I like to start with the easy way first.  (I was hoping we were still talking about my phone.)  I want to try something with you first and see if it works.  (I REALLY hoped we were still talking about my phone.)  I have this number I want you to dial.  It is what I call my "easy-fix-it number". (I thought I heard a "tada!" aferwardsIt’s not in any manual and not too many people know about it.  How do I know it you may be wondering.  (I wasn’t) I got it from someone that is in the ‘know’ and he gave it to me.  (dude you are freakin me out!)  

Me: OK, cool so what is it?
At this point I could have sworn he lowered his voice, as if he was a spy giving me secret information that would save the world!  

Tech Dude:  This number is great. I saved it on my phone & call it whenever I need it. 
I felt like saying, "Whatever dude! You are not on a "Mission Impossible" movie!  Just fix my dang phone!'

So, finally he gives me the number (*22899 in case you were wondering) and within a couple of minutes (I had to listen to him ramble on about the number some more) my phone started emailing again.  Stupid phone!  

Me:  Thanks for your help!
Tech Dude:  That's what I'm here for.  I find that people prefer the easy way first.”  (Ah, ya think?)  

Anyway, here is the post that was supposed to be done on Monday….

January 23, 2012:

Today is Vivian’s Birthday.  She turns 14.  14!  I still can’t believe it.  I’m happy to report we made it through the first year of her being a teenager unscathed.  She truly is a great kid and I feel privileged to be raising her (I hope I am thinking this next year!).  She brings lots of love and humor into my life.  Yesterday we had a family dinner in her honor.  I made her favorite Chicken & Broccoli Fettuccini Alfredo with garlic biscuits.  I also made her this cake…

I think I went a bit crazy with the ganache!  I'm also digging the candles...
I saw this cake on Bakerella's blog (if you haven't done so before you should definitely check out her blog) and thought it would be perfect for Vivian.  I used a different recipe for the chocolate cake, which is from Inna Garten’s chocolate cake recipe…oh, the yumminess!!!   

You can never go wrong with mini chocolate chips! 
The frosting is a vanilla buttercream frosting (recipe here) and for the center the same frosting but with  mini chocolate chips added just because.  Over the cake there's a ganache sauce (love it!).  I wanted to replicate Bakerella’s cake but it looked more like a distant cousin three times removed than an actual twin.  It didn’t seem to deter my peeps as they all said it was “delicious” and “dang that’s good”, oh, I also got a, “That cake was awesome.” from my guy. And Vivian...well, she loved it!  So, although the outside didn’t look so neat, the cake ended up being delicious…the moral of the story…don’t judge a cake by it’s looks.  OK, so there wasn’t really a moral to this story, but I thought it seemed fitting.

Until next time….

After a long day, Luna found a shoulder to sleep on.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The one with the appliqués...

While watching the Golden Globes pre-show Vivian had remarked on how pretty the headbands Michelle Williams and Charlize Theron wore on the Golden Globes and I said they wouldn’t be that hard to recreate.  She looked at as if saying, "well, get on it!"...but me being a procrastinator by trade I said later.  Imagine my great delight when Jenni from I Spy DIY did just that!  I check out her blog almost on a daily basis, and yesterday she posted a DIY on the headbands.  So, last night I decided I needed to do this project.  I dug out an appliqué I had purchased a while ago thinking it would work well.  I didn’t want to do an exact replica of the headbands worn because 1) I didn’t want to go and purchase any new materials and 2) well, there is no #2.  Anyway, here are the materials I had on hand…

Add caption
I thought the brads that I used for the earring tutorial might work but I ended up not using them as the appliqué was enough.

I followed her directions and really liked her idea of using a hair band…genius I tell ya!  I couldn’t find my glue gun so ended up using super glue….definitely use a glue gun!  I mean the super glue worked just fine but my fingers were almost permanently attached to the ribbon!  Not cool!  Anyway, where was I….OK, so while looking through my stash of appliqués (OK, so I only had two) I found this really pretty ribbon and so I made another headband for Vivian.  She loved both. 

This is the other appliqué.

 It wouldn’t work for a headband and I didn’t want to sew it onto a t-shirt, so I thought “necklace”.  Perfect as it could be worn with different things.  Here’s the super easy (have you noticed that’s been my theme lately?) how to…

Vivian was my model...I think she wants to keep it as compensation!

1. Pin it to a ribbon as the ribbon will be used to tie it to your neck.
2. Sew the applique to the ribbon.
3. Wear the necklace...Ok, not really a #3 but felt that it needed it.

Until next time!  Have a fantastic weekend!!!

She kept getting into everything, so I made her a bow (see the black thing on her head) and she finally settled down.  I want to believe it's because she wanted me to make her a bow but in reality it was probably because she was afraid I'd make her wear something else!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Sunday night had no idea what to make for dinner.  I spent most of the afternoon playing on the Wii with Vivian, and then working out old school style to an old CD of TaeBo.  Billy Blanks kicks butt!  Her arms were already hurting from the several rounds of boxing we had done on the Wii, but she was a trooper and took Billy on.   It was quite a work out and I am now sore, as I am sure she is also.  Anyway, back to dinner....I decided to go through my cook books to get some inspiration for the ground beef I had defrosting in the fridge.  Looking through an old Weight Watchers cook book I saw a recipe for Macaroni Sloppy Joes.  Vivian said that sounded good but I didn’t have any sloppy joe sauce, so I improvised.  The sauce I ended up with did not taste anything like sloppy joe sauce.  However, Vivian declared it delicious and that’s all I needed (plus it really was good and so easy!). J

I like this photo.
Here they are all cut up and ready for the pan.
Here’s what you need: 
(loosely adapted from Weight Watchers, I have no idea how many points it had)

2 to 3 cups cooked macaroni (elbow or shells will work…I had shells)
1 lb. ground beef (ground turkey would be good too)
2 tsp. oil (I used grape seed oil)
1 green pepper (I had half of green and ¼ of yellow, but I think one full green would be perfect) chopped into small pieces
1 red pepper (again I only had about a half of one…one full one is best) chopped into small pieces
1 shallot chopped into small pieces (I only had shallots but can definitely use onions)
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce (can add more if you like it more tomatoey-like)
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp ground pepper
¼ tsp salt (I used sea salt)
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp ground chipotle/red pepper flakes/cayenne pepper…just something to add some kick to it...this is optional of course

1. Heat oil and cook the bell peppers and onion until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes.
2. Add the ground beef and break it up as it cooks, add the Worcestershire sauce and spices and cook until brown
3. Once cooked add the tomato sauce and cooked macaroni and boil, then simmer for about 5 mintues and you are done! 

It needs something...
Serve this with a side salad or do what we did….toast whole wheat pita bread with garlic butter. 
That's better!  
Until next time!

Luna eyeing my food.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Super Easy Earrings...

Yesterday while going through some stuff I found these:

Immediately I thought, “These would make cute earrings.”  And then promptly forgot about them.  Later on I thought about them again and went to putting my thought to action.

Here are the final results.  

It was so easy!  And inexpensive to make.  Here's all you need...

1. Emery board for sanding the rough edges 2. Strong glue for gluing the ear posts to the back of the brad 3. Ear posts  4. The back to the ear posts

And here’s what you have to do:

Step 1 -- grab a brad
Step 2 - cut off prongs by moving each back and forth until they snap off.
Step 3 -- the edges where the prong was will need to be sanded off and here's where the emery board comes in.

Once the above steps are done I glued the ear post to top of the back of brad.  Sorry I didn't take a photo of this step! 

Here’s how they look on….
I'm wearing the bottom left ones today. 
And that's it!  Have a wonderful weekend.

Until next time….

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First post of the year...

Yup, I'm a bit late on the New Year post but it's no's actually the first full week of the new year so it's all good.  For my first post of the new year I have for your consideration these yummy-ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies.  These are the BEST cookies I've ever made and tasted. They are as big as my hand and full of deliciousness!  Although patience is needed when making these and you'll see why later.  I got the recipe from the show The Chew.  Now, I must admit when this show first aired I was totally on the totally that I almost jumped off.  But I stayed with it for the first week and then I was still unsure. The hosts were so frenetic (well, except for Mario Batali...he kind of was looking like, "what the heck am I doing here?!?!") and Michael Symon's laugh bugged me to no end!  Oh, and Carla Hall's just looked crazy!  And Clinton Kelly! I kept wondering who this guy was as I don't recall him being such a spaz on "What Not to Wear".  Anyway, after the second week I was getting into it and now I record every show!  Although sometimes Mario still looks like he's wondering, "what the heck am I doing here?!?!".  ANYway...back to the recipe...

BUT!  Before I get to said recipe....look what I got for Christmas...
Photo of it still in the box
Yep! It's my very own KitchenAid courtesy of my guy...isn't he the best!  It was the perfect gift and one I've been coveting for a couple of years now.  I guess after 2 or 3 years of saying how much I would love to have a KitchenAid standing mix, how much I needed it, how many more things I could bake, blah, blah, blah he finally got the hint! (love you honey!)  It couldn't have been gifted to me at a better time as my hand mixer died on December 24th.

OK, now on to the recipe.  This recipe is from award winning pastry chef Jacques Torres who was a guest on the show.  I followed the recipe exactly.  On a side note....just kidding here ya go...
Cookies cooling on wire rack.  

Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe by Jacques Torres via The Chew website

What you'll need:
2 cups minus 2 tbs. cake flour
1 2/3 cup bread flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt (I used sea salt)
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cups plus 2 tbs. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips)
Sea salt for garnish

The how to:

1. In a bowl sift together cake and bread flours along with baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set this mixture aside.

2. Fit your mixer with paddle attachment and cream together the butter and sugars until very light in color.  This took about 4 to 5 minutes.

3. To the above sugar mixture add eggs one at a time making sure you mix well after each one.  Now add the vanilla and reduce speed to low.  Add the dry ingredients and mix for about 10 seconds -- just until well combined.

4.  Stir in the chocolate to the mixture.

5.  Here's where the patience part comes can't cook these suckers right away!  What the what!?!?   I'm sure there is a very important reason for this (and more experienced bakers will know why) but I wasn't listening when I watched the show as I was just looking at the cookies.  Anyway, you have to press plastic wrap against the dough and around the bowl and refrigerate it for a minimum of 24 hours (I did for about 40 hours because I wasn't able to cook them the following night).  The recipe states you can refrigerate the dough for up to 72 hours.

6.  OK, so now that you are ready to bake these bad boys you have to set your oven to 350.  Line a cookie sheet with foil/parchment paper  or use one of those handy dandy nonstick baking mats.  I used an ice cream scooper to scoop the mounds of dough (the recipe says should be "size of generous golf balls" and the ice creamer scooper did the trick) onto the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle each mound lightly with sea salt (you can omit this if you want but it gave it a really good flavor....sweetness with a small hint of sea salt equals yumminess!).
Cookie dough golf balls!
7.  Bake them for 18 to 20 minutes (I baked mine for 18 min).  Once baked transfer cookie sheet onto a wire rack and cool for about 10 minutes, you then will move each cookie to a different wire rack to cool a little bit more (I let cool for about 2 minutes and then I couldn't wait any longer!).
Right out of the oven
And here is the cookie all baked, cooled and lovely...

Here's another shot....
All you need is a tall glass of milk! 

Make these now!

Until next time...
Whenever Luna wants me to scratch her back she looks at me upside down.  Can't resist this face!