Monday, February 27, 2012

Something SUPER.

One of my many projects as a designer is this. And in honor of Spring or being hopeful Spring is somewhere around the corner, I am offering a GIVEAWAY!

You can check it out HERE. Basically you could seriously rock your child's world by winning the cape of your choice, accompanied by 2 sweet hero accessories ($55 value). You have until Feb28h, Wed night at 9pm to enter!


You could win something like this...

Or...

 Good luck!




Sunday, February 26, 2012

I couldn't resist. I pinned Ryan Gosling.

OK.
I fully admit this has no concrete value. I dedicate this to evening coffee, Pinterest, and crafty women.

It might just be because it is late on a Saturday night, but I just couldn't resist creating my own Ryan Gosling image to pin to Pinterest. For some reason, these images keep floating around with a variety of silly sayings. I realize I am perpetuating the problem, and for that I apologize.

Sorry.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Well-behaved women seldom make history {free printable}


I swam through a lava tunnel in Hawaii and
climbed on the closed off part of The Great Wall of China 
and brought a piece of the wall home. 
Add that to the 200 additional ways I might have slightly misbehaved
and I think I just might make history. 





{Free download below} Happy hump day!

Well Behaved Women 5x7

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Anyone who has brought a new baby into the mix and had a less than thrilled first child. This one's for you!

One of the first pics we were able to get of the two sisters...
only by coaxing Aislynn to sit  by her daddy and look at a fish.
I still remember bringing home my middle daughter from the hospital. I scooped Isla out of her infant seat and laid her in a "Moses" basket in our living room. She looked so tiny, adorable, sweet, asleep. We anxiously awaited my parents return with our oldest, Aislynn who was 2 years old at the time. Aislynn had not met her new baby sister in the hospital and I was feeling nervous. I still remember everyone saying to me when I was pregnant, "Is Aislynn getting excited to be a big sister?" I always thought that was a stupid question. How does a child know what it means to be a "big sister" when that child has been the only child for 2 years? And how could I answer, "No, I don't think she is excited, or will be excited. In fact I think she will be very unexcited to have a baby join our family. She seems to be somewhat afraid of babies and sobs when babies cry, so no, I don't think she's excited to be a big sister."

In those first few months
this was the best picture I could get
.
My parents arrived. I remember them opening the door and Aislynn running in. She looked so big, like she had aged 2 additional years in the last 2 days we were apart, especially compared to my 6 lb. 7 oz. little girl. We hugged, she looked at me, she looked at her daddy, then she looked at the moses basket and her new baby sister. Aislynn started sobbing and crumpled down to the ground and refused to look at her new baby sister. Then Aislynn escaped to her room, a safe, baby free zone. Although this response was about what I expected, it didn't make it any easier. A million things raced through my head, fears, thoughts, concerns. I knew in my heart some day, my little girl would love my even littler girl, but I was not feeling very optimistic at the moment.

Someone starts to come around.
The following next few days were filled with me running to the other room, out of sight from Aislynn when I needed to nurse her little sister, Isla. Aislynn did not want to have anything to do with the baby at all. If anyone tried to get her to interact with the baby she would run to her "baby free" bedroom and peek around the door. Sometimes she would even say, "Baby all gone." Excellent! One morning she crept into my room and peeked carefully into the moses basket next to my side of the bed. Normally Isla would be laying there and so Aislynn would run back to her room as though she had spotted a preditor and needed to escape. On this particular morning, Isla was in my bed. When Aislynn saw the empty basket she perked up shouting, "We did it, we did it!" Which I could only take to mean, "We got rid of the baby finally." She victoriously ran out of the room and back only to notice the tiny baby that had not disappeared, laying swaddled on my bed. She was clearly disappointed.

"Sleep overs"
Days past, weeks past, and slowly Aislynn moved from intolerance, to tolerance, to acknowledgement, to interaction, and it continued to get more positive. Slowly but surely, Aislynn grew to love her little sister. Now Aislynn is 6 and Isla is 4. Last night they both begged me to have a "sleepover" as they do every night now. They both already sleep in the same room, but a "sleepover" means Isla climbs into Aislynn's bed and Aislynn reads them books for 10-15 minutes. After I ended the sleepover, they both gave eachother a tight squeeze.

"You are my best friend Aislynn!" Isla said.

"And you are my best little slumbering buddy Isla. Sisters forever!" Aislynn replied.

It was like a scene out of a family movie. They both laughed. And 6 years flew through my mind and I truly felt grateful to see how far we have come.



13 Days.

I got on the computer to google "Can I freeze shredded zucchini?" and then my mind wandered and I thought 13 days. I keep thinking, 13 days sober, and then I remind myself I am NOT an alcoholic sobering up, but that this might be what it feels like if I was one. After the first day, then the third day, then the first week, I wanted to share something about this journey I am on but it's hard to get really real. It's hard to be the kind of "real" that invites judgement. Nobody likes to be misunderstood. I feel like I am experiencing a life changing event, a self mandated "wellness revolution." Some people hear that and think, Are you on a diet...you look fine. But sometimes "looking fine" or "OK" doesn't mean you are "fine" or "OK" inside. It might be a physical struggle, an emotional one, a spiritual one you are going through. But all the time people say "I'm fine" or "OK" when nothing is "fine" or "OK" at all.


Its hard to condense a 7 year journey into a meaningful "blog post." I challenged myself a few weeks ago to ask this question about my life: Where do I want to see changes, and where do I want to look back 4 years from now and be amazed by God's grace and provision? The specific areas were my health and spiritual life. I vaguely referenced that I have dealt with stomach problems for nearly 7 years with no real answers from doctors. The struggle has been emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining. Those close to me have an idea of what I have dealt with, but for the most part I feel like no one has known what I really have been dealing with because I did not want anyone to know what I was dealing with. Isn't that how it is sometimes? You want to be understood. You want people to know what you are going through and at the same time you do not want anyone to know what you are going through. I didn't want to have to explain myself, be diagnosed by everyone, open myself up for judgement and misunderstanding. While I wanted someone to ask me, "How are you doing?" I did not want anyone to ask me, "How are you doing?" 


In "Cliff's Notes" style, I started having stomach problems 7 years ago unexplanably when I was pregnant for my 6 year old. I started feeling sick after eating, like my food was sitting in my stomach and going nowhere. Then I would feel worse, like the food was actually rotting in my stomach, eventually I would end up throwing up because I would feel that sick. It didn't happen all the time at first, but I definitely didn't feel "normal" anymore. Then I started feeling that way everyday. I had every test imaginable done from my neck down to my intestines. I swallowed a pill with a camera, had stomach biopsies, upper GIs, esophagus biopsies, swallowing studies, scans. I visited an osteopath, allergists, had blood work done. I changed doctors and tried a bigger city, Indy. Then I moved and did it all over again at UIC in Chicago. I tried drug therapies and went to a nutritionist. No real answers, mostly "guesstimations." Everything came back "fine," but I felt far from it. I desperately scoured the internet for answers or someone out there like me. It was like a roller coaster-peaks of hope, followed by feelings of hopelessness, then numbness and acceptance and denial mixed together and I unwillingly accepted that the way I felt was my new "normal."


7 years flew by and passed slowly all at once. A few weeks ago I thought to myself, I have been throwing up almost every day for 7 years.  For at least 95% of the past 2555 days I have become physically ill at least once in a day and felt sick every day. When I say "stomach problems" most people think heart burn, or acid reflux and I let people think the best. Everyone hates throwing up. I do to. But over time I accepted the sad realty that I would passionately love food, love to make it for others and myself, but that it would make me feel sick maybe forever. I was either in crusader mode desperately obsessed with finding an answer, or processing my reality emotionless, like a robot. When I couldn't find answers the latter was the only way I felt like I could deal with the situation. 


I remember the time I vaguely shared my  realty with some friends and someone asked, "Are you sure its not in your head?" I remember the time someone (not a doctor) suggested I had an eating disorder. And I remember the time someone said, "You need to choose to not throw up," like it was cut and dry and that simple. That's why I held on to this struggle so privately, and why most everyone that knows me would be shocked to know that this was going on. I became very good at appearing "well."


But now its been 13 days in a row of eating food and not thrown up. For 13 days I have felt like I am on the start of a journey that is going somewhere. And so I decided to open myself up here for judgement. How could I not share this journey? For the first time in 7 years I feel like there might be an end to this struggle. I came across a book a few weeks ago called The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering your health and rebuilding your immunity by Donna Gates. And for the first time ever, I felt like everything in the book applied to me. I will definitely write more at some point, but the book addresses the issue of an extreme candida infection, an internal yeast overgrowth infection, and all the repercussions this kind of infection can have if left to grow inside the body and if untreated. The book also addressed clearly how to recover and heal from this type of infection, information I had never seen before, and definitely nothing that had ever been addressed in my many doctors appointments. 


And so 13 days ago I decided to take a deep breath, trust God, open myself up to possible disappointment, start to really feel the emotional magnitude of this situation, and begin a plan that will hopefully result in healing. Right now I am sugar free, gluten free, and mostly dairy free (the first phase of this plan) in an effort to kill the candida infection so that I might begin to recover my digestive system. Some people might say, "I could never do that...go without sugar, even most fruit, no carbs or dairy!" But I say, "If you threw up every day for 7 years and doing this for even 5 months meant you might stop throwing up, I think you might be able to find a way." For me its all about trusting in God and remembering how He has sustained me until this point, being determined, choosing to be intentional, and staying committed to this goal. 


Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be the beginning of day 14. 2 weeks ago that I took action and started to see results, started to feel confirmation that this was the right track. Every day that I eat all my meals and everything stays down feels like a gift. I don't care how "restricted" my diet is right now. I feel joyful. I feel free. I feel hopeful. 


2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Doll Makeover. Because even a doll sometimes needs a makeover.


Apart of the "PINTEREST TRIED AND APPROVED" series.


I myself could use a hair "makeover." I last had my hair cut and colored in JULY. Yes, July, roughly 2 seasons ago. Thankfully I will be getting my hair makeover this Saturday. Don't sit on the edge of your seats, but maybe I'll take a picture...

On to more  or less important matters, like doll makeovers. Now I found this hot mess via pinterest Here:

The claim was that Rapunzel, who looks like she enjoyed getting out of that tower a little too much, 
could go from this to this with some fabric softener and water:


I was slightly intrigued as a mother of 3 girls and LOTS of dolls. I don't particularly like children alive or fake to have hair that is NOT completely out of control. I thought that we should give this "pin" a whirl.

Here is our test subject. We'll call her "Emma." Clearly she is a hot mess. She claims she got this wild hair at "ballet practice." Yeah...I don't buy that, but we'll see if we can help her with some fabric softener & water. 


I mixed a few TBSP of fabric softener with about 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. You are supposed to acquire a wire bristle brush, I had a plastic one that didn't have little balls on the end-the next best thing. I wasn't looking to invest to heavily in this project. Then I started spraying and brushing. 
Quite the arm workout. We started to make progress...

We made it through all the hair, but Emma had a bit of a "fro" situation at the bottom of her hair, so I gave her a slight hair cut. Be careful NOT to do this in front of your children 
unless you want them to start cutting all the hair they can find!


Then some slight styling in the front with some braids to hopefully avoid further CRAZY hair. 

And here she is. A new girl: Emma. 

Hopefully the next few "ballet practices" will be a bit tamer. 











Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shout out for my g-free and allergy friends. Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


I do not claim to be a miracle worker, but this "healthier, allergen free" chocolate chip banana bread is pretty darn good. I just (as in 3 days ago) starting following the body ecology program in hopes of healing some of my digestion issues by eliminating sugar, bread, most dairy, and gluten from my diet for a few months to start. Please keep in mind that 4 days ago and for the last few years I have been consuming LOTS of starches and breads, so the claim that the following banana bread tastes like bread is a solid claim coming from me. I believe there are a variety of ways you could tweek this depending on what you are trying to eliminate (dairy/lactose, gluten, soy/nut, etc.) In my case, I was looking to eliminate gluten, soy, nut, and sugar...mostly. And here's what I did:

All my gluten free friends out there are probably familiar with "Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix." This was my "flour" component. 

G-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (optionally nut free, soy free, sugar free)
  • 4 TBSP butter softened (depending on your situation you could substitute a lactose free margarine like "Willow Run" or something like "Best Life Buttery Sticks" I tried it with the lactose free and buttery sticks and it was great!)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 3 ripe bananas mashed (I used organic ones because I think they taste better)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup truvia-I used just under a half (this is a sugar free natural sweetener made from the stevia leaf extract-you could use granulated sugar if you don't care about making it sugar free).
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt (or regular salt)
  • 1 cup + 3/4 cup Pamela baking and pancake mix *this mix does contain buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup  chocolate chips (optional) -I used "Enjoy Dairy nut soy free Semi sweet mini chocolate chips" When I did it I just added a couple tbsps. This added a bit of sugar. but not much and the sugar in these chips comes from cane juice.
Instructions:
  1. Beat truvia/sugar and butter with a mixer. Add mashed bananas until blended. Add in vanilla.
  2. Add dry ingredients. Mix just until blended. Do not over mix.
  3. Add mix to 3 mini loaf pans. You can make one large loaf if you want. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees. Check loafs at 35 mins. Then at 45 mins if not done. Loafs will be done when they are slightly golden, the tops have split slightly, and a toothpick comes out clean. 
  5. Enjoy!  


Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter?

What does a husband and wife do on a Sunday afternoon while their kids are napping? Make a video of course. Here's what my husband and I did yesterday afternoon...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Something Real.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what is "real." Someone said to me the other day, "You are just so creative. I just am amazed, I don't know how you find the time." While it's nice to receive compliments. My first thought was actually, I am such a fake! I don't find time, I steal time from other things. I am really not that amazing. And I thought of a list of reasons for my lack of amazingness.

Yesterday I was reading all the links over at Shell's blog. She has a regular weekly feature where people can "spill" all "the things they can't say." Everyone links up their blogs to this post and shares their pieces. It was amazing how many of the posts had to do with issues of self worth, guilt, perspective and striving to be better moms.

Then today I read a post by my friend Lauren, talking about how people seem to always put their best foot forward, even on facebook, and the feelings it can conjure up when you sometimes compare yourself or situation to what you assume is everyone else's more perfect "reality." I couldn't agree more. And I am 100% guilty of this. I'm not trying to make myself look amazing, but I would much rather share a fun project I am working on, or an awesome recipe I just made, or a pic of my cute girls than the massive laundry pile in my basement or my messy kitchen. I would much rather share about something sweet my daughter did, than that I was short tempered with her 3 times that morning because I stayed up too late the night before working on my "amazing" creations. I think it is only natural that we want to bring our best to the table. And I love looking at other people's pictures and projects and seeing the best of the best people share. But I think it is just as helpful, especially for moms, to hear about everyone's not so perfect days, messes, and feelings of inadequacy.

I had a textversation (a text conversation) with my best friend yesterday. In the midst of the conversation I was talking about being more real and open with people. She responded, "Honesty changes the world. I'm serious. Everyone lies and hides. When someone steps out and tells the truth it changes things."

So here's some truth.

I really needed to do laundry, LOTS of laundry last night, work on cleaning any number of rooms in my house, organize our file cabinet, mail, and bills, etc. But instead, last night I chose to "mod podge" some sweet pink fabric onto a tiny cabinet (thrift shop find) I am making over for my littlest girl's room. There is nothing wrong with having "me" time, but I definitely could have used some "clean" time. I stayed up 1.5 hrs past my New Year's Resolution" invoked bedtime of 11:30 pm working on this project while watching Grey's Anatomy. Not necessarily the best use of time. I was going to share this little project on my blog today because that's what feels comfortable. I still will at some point. Its too cute not too! Being creative makes me happy, making food is therapeutic to me and also makes me happy. I love teaching people how to make things as well as feeding them. This is easy sharing for me.There is nothing wrong with this. But for me, that is my "best foot forward."

Then I remembered why I started writing this blog. I was feeling so burdened and overwhelmed 4 years ago when faced with the possibility my daughter might be autistic while at the same time caring for a very high maintenance fussy newborn. I just felt like I needed to share my real feelings, process them, and also have a written record to look back and see what God would do in my life. It is amazing to me to look back 4 years and see where I was at, where my daughter was at, and to truly see time after time where He answered my prayers. It amazes me to be reminded of the times she made huge strides in her development, was diagnosed as NOT autistic, and made a 180 degree turn in her social interactions. Most people that know my 6 year old little girl today, would not believe she was the same little girl I wrote about when she was 2 and 3 years old. I also look at how God provided for us in numerous ways when my husband was out of work and in him finding a new job that eventually led him and us to another job and place where we are now. So then I thought, what am I going through now that is real, that I need to process, where I want to see changes, and where I want to look back 4 years from now and be amazed by God's grace and provision? 

I thought of 2 things specifically: My spiritual life and my health. I suck at doing devotions. I have no trouble finding time to make something crafty or tasty, but I seem to have an impossible time "fitting in" some God time. I have not read my Bible in a long time. I have opened it here and there. But I haven't sat down with full attention on the Word and just read the Bible in a really long time. Its hard to be honest about this, because I like people to "think well of me," and this definitely is not my best foot. But this needs to change so I can be the woman I want my daughter to emulate. The second thing for me is my health. I have been sick for 7 years with undiagnosed stomach problems that affect me every single day. This is a huge burden to me. It has been a long journey filled with tests, doctors visits, and more tests. I have settled for feeling sick most of the time as my new normal. Many people are surprised when they hear this because I have developed a great "poker face" for hiding how I am really feeling physically. I am tired of feeling this way. I know I need to proactively try some new things that are within my power to change to see if I can start to find some relief. I have just started this process, but I know it will be a challenging and emotional journey. Hopefully one that will end in a state of wellness.

That's the REAL me, behind the pink decoupaged cabinet, tasty recipes, diy patterns, and cute little girls. I am not perfect, I am a work in progress. Its not as much fun to talk about my struggles, but hardship is a part of life and a part of who I am, and dealing with it will make me a stronger, more confident woman.

I Peter 5:6-7 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."

This is an important truth to be reminded of. Remember that everyone has something he or she is facing that hides behind that "best foot" forward. What is the thing you are facing? Why not ask yourself this question with me:


What am I going through now that is real, that I need to process, where I want to see changes, and where I want to look back and be amazed by God's grace and provision? 



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The one where I finally paint a canvas and why I chose these words.

I think everyone needs to paint at least one canvas in her lifetime. You don't have to paint anything fancy. Even if you just paint the whole thing with your favorite colors, call it abstract art, and hang it in your bathroom. I by no means am an "artist." My mother is an art teacher and very talented which I attribute to my creativity, but she would still probably shake her head if she saw me sketch a person. I do better with abstract projects or things that I can make up my self and determine the rules!

This canvas sat blank in my basement for 2 years. Finally I decided to actually attempt to paint something on it. I wanted to paint something for "Little Sister's" room, that was dark pink, said something meaningful, and had tiny flags incorporated somehow. I don't know why I love tiny flags so much, but I do. I decided to take a line out of the Psalm 139 passage. I wanted my littlest girl to have something on her wall that spoke even in just a four word phrase of the amazing truth that the Creator of the whole world also created her, and did so wonderfully. I also wanted it to be a visual for me when I go in to get her up every day, or put her down for a nap. No matter what my mood is, I will be reminded about this simple yet profound truth and I will be grateful.

PAINTING THE CANVAS
Here's what I did in case you want to paint your own striped canvas!

I used some painters tape to measure out some hide stripes first. I painted them with dark pink, let them dry, and peeled the tape. Then I went back over part of a white spot and a pink stripe and created a new row of stripes. These I painted lighter pink. Then with the remaining small white stripes left, and over the rest of the canvas I painted some light pink "glitter luster" paint from Martha Stewart found at Home Depot. 
This created a sparkly effect. 

Then I cut out tiny triangles uses a small template I made out of cardboard. I used crafters felt. I took a piece of double fold bias tape and hot glued the triangle flags into the bias tape. Then I glued the flag strip to the canvas. For the letters, I could have been more patient and waited to buy some or get some stencils. I didn't want to wait, so I printed off the message on a piece of paper in the fonts I wanted the message to resemble, then I sketched them lightly with a pencil and painted them slowly with a tiny brush. Then I put one more coat of luster paint over them to dull them a bit. 

The End.

Here's another freebie for you if you love these words as much as I do! 
Read it and smile, or download it and let your creativity loose. 

I Praise You Square Art

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Free coffee printable. Because coffee deserves to be shared.

I love coffee. All you coffee drinkers out there, this one's for you! Download it, print it, hang it, share it, enjoy! Or just read it, smile and go drink a cup of coffee.


COFFEE IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA 8 x 10 Sized PDF download below:
coffeeisgood8x10

Monday, January 16, 2012

Balsamic Glazed Chicken. A Fuller Favorite


In our house we LOVE balsamic vinegar. We probably go through more bottles in one season than some people will use in a lifetime. We love it in dressings, marinades, glazes, even desserts. Right now the "balsamic glazed chicken" makes an appearance at least once a week. This is a recipe I have adapted from Jessica Seinfeild's Double Delicious. You can really add whatever sides you want to this tasty skillet chicken. We usually do some sort of potato (baked, potato pancakes), pasta, or salad. You can even put it on top of a salad with a nice vinaigrette or on a sandwich, as Jessica's recipe calls for. 

This is one of those recipes that truly is simple and you can make with very few ingredients you can have on hand in the pantry. The sweet and tangy flavor of the chicken is also very kid friendly.

Balsamic Glazed Chicken
Recipe adapted from Jessica Seinfield's "Balsamic Chicken Sandwich" in her cookbook, Double Delicious

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken. Cut into pieces. I usually do about 3 pieces
1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder and onion powder (optional)
A few tablespoons butter or olive oil to saute the chicken in, in the skillet
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup chicken stock/broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions:
1. Put oil or butter in a warm skillet, heat at medium heat for 2 mins then add chicken. Add salt, pepper, and optional garlic and onion powder. Cook chicken on medium heat until cooked through and not pink inside (about 8-10 mins).
2. Add to the skillet the chicken broth, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low/simmering temp. It will appear very liquidy at first. Let cook in the skillet stirring on occasion until the liquid mixture has reduced  down to a syrupy liquid (about 15-20 mins). Turn off heat and let cool slightly and serve with a side or even on top of rice or a salad. Eat any leftovers the next day on a sandwich. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

The X-Waitress Chicken tortilla soup


Don't get too excited, but I am sharing an original recipe. I have had a number of people ask me for the recipe for this soup and I have never actually shared it (they probably think I'm holding out), because I never had it written down, and never made it the same way twice! But the last time I made it, I paid attention and here you have it.

The X-Waitress Chicken tortilla soup
(makes about 8 servings-excellent leftovers!)

(So a little clarification. I was a waitress, I'm sorry, "server," at Chilis for almost 7 years in high school and college. My favorite soup was the chicken enchilada soup and so here is my tribute to that soup!)

You Need:
  • 3 chicken breasts cooked and cut into pieces (you can do the chicken in the skillet or the grill, seasoning it lightly with some of the seasonings you will use in the soup. You can even do the chicken the day before, or make extra chicken when you are doing another meal and cut it up for this soup and set it aside).
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 3/4 c tomato puree (canned) You can buy one large can and use about 2/3 of it.
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 3 c chicken broth (or 3 c water with 3 chicken bullion cubes)
  • 12 oz velveta cheese (I get the big block)-You can substitute some other cheese if velveta offends you. This is the only recipe I use it in. Another cheese would just change the consistency. 
  • 1 cup of corn (frozen, canned, or 1 to 2 ears of fresh corn)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c mixed cheese shredded (I get a mexican blend)
  • 6 white corn tortilla shells and a few Tbsp of vegetable oil (or use tortilla chips)
  • Sour cream (optional for topping)
Put that apron on, here we go!
  1. Dice onions (I usually do mine in the food processor because I don't like chunks).
  2. In a large pot, heat oil and saute onions. Add chili powder, garlic, salt and 1 Tbsp cumin.
  3. After a few mins add in the tomato puree. If you want a heavier tomato taste, you can add more. Stir and let simmer a couple mins.
  4. Add the chicken broth. Let simmer a couple mins.
  5. Cut the Velveeta cheese Whisk in the Velveeta cheese. Until it is melted completely. Now whisk in the shredded cheese. Add the rest of the cumin.
  6. Add in the corn and chicken and stir.
  7. Taste it! If you want a thicker soup, add some more cheese. If you want a spicier soup, add a dash of hot sauce or some cayenne powder. If you want a smokier taste, add some more cumin. You are the boss!
  8. For tortilla strips: Fill about a 1/4-1/2 in of oil in a sauce pan. Heat the oil. Cut the tortillas into strips and place in hot oil until hard or slightly browned. Remove to some paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.
  9. I like to put a dab of sour cream on top of the soup and sprinkle the tortilla strips on top. If you really want to get fancy, put some sour cream in a ziplock bag. Snip the tip of one of the corners, and drizzle the sour cream onto the soup (the the domestic entertainer mama).
  10. Pair it will some yummy corn bread or french bread for added comfort.
*Optional: You could add in some black beans in place of chicken for those vegetarians or add some chopped tomatoes, peppers, and chiles. I am just not into chunks and like the cheesiness of the soup which is why I make it the way I do!

Here's how I store my extra "tort strips" as we called them in the Chilis days. In a plastic bag with some paper towel.









(I previously posted this recipe on my mostly abandoned other blog "Modern Domestic Mama."

My Mini Kitchen Make Over. Long overdue.

The Find
I never thought I'd say, 
"Look what I found! Just a little paint and a switch on the hardware."
Cost including original set, paint, and nobs for all pieces: $40 

You know those amazing "old school" finds people discover at a garage sales, flee markets, and estate sales? Someone finds some quality piece of something and repurposes it, or finds a new use for it, end result = awesome. If you're like me you think, What? Why doesn't my Goodwill have that stuff? The only garage sales I ever find have particle board furniture from Walmart and Big Lots, and Estate Sales...where?

But then it happened. To me. In the summertime, I was driving down a random street a few blocks from my house cutting through and low and behold, a sign "Estate Sale today 11-4." Out of sheer curiosity I had to make the stop. The story sounds too cliche to even be real. An old lady had died who had lived in the house for a long time. She was into sewing and had traveled a lot when she was younger. Her house clearly reflected this, as it was filled with interesting, old, and very "vintage" type items. You vintage lovers out there would be swooning. Most of the really "cool" stuff had "sold" tags on it-furniture, antiques, dishes, awesomeness items, etc. But there were still some finds to be had.

I ended up going home with 2 pieces of furniture I had a use in mind for, and a 3 piece solid wood child's kitchen set that was tucked away in the corner of the basement. My girls already had a play kitchen, but it was very tiny, plastic, and you could only fit 2 pieces of play food in the fridge if you were luck. I just couldn't pass this up. The fridge was roomy, it had a cute little oven/stovetop that you could actually fit pots and pans inside, set complete with an adorable mini hutch cabinet. It reminded me of the play kitchen my grandpa had built for me when I was a little girl. The nostalgia, mixed with the bargain hunter inside me made the deal.

I can't remember where I had left home to go, but my husband was definitely "surprised" to say the least when I returned home with all my finds. I'll save the hutch makeover for another day, but I'll show you the kitchen make over...

The kitchen was solid wood and painted with some sort of creamish colored semi gloss paint that had faded. I just washed everything out with soapy water, unscrewed the old hardware, and primed it with a white semi gloss paint and primer in one, from Lowes. Then I added a deep raspberry semi gloss to parts of the set, and bought some new hardware to go with the new look. The fridge was so roomy, we actually packed away some bins we had because we could fit all our play food and more inside.

My camera ran out of battery so you'll just have to dream about the oven and refrigerator for now! 
I'll take a better pic later. 



Sweet new little white nobs with flower and some white handles. 99cents a piece.

For you vintage lovers, the little hutch even had some throw back play food mixes, the kind with a block inside. Pretty cute. 




Thursday, January 12, 2012

Throat Punch Thursday.


I had to link up with Truthful Mommy and her "Throat Punch Thursday, if not just for the fact that she has an image of a large kangaroo face checking a person. I can't stop laughing about this picture. 
Check out other "throat punches" at the link below. 
My contributed throat punch link of the day: 17 Facebook Crimes over at Mom Peeves: 



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A cookie a day keeps the doctor away...

These cookies are a triple threat. Don't worry, no one will get hurt, unless you eat all the cookies. Then you might have a problem. These cookies are chewy on the inside with just the right amount of tiny crunch on the edges. Born out of my love for cookies in general, these little babies unite 3 nations: Chocolate chip, Peanut Butter, and Toffee. All the ingredients get along well together, no one stands out too much. So if you are in the mood to try a new tasty treat, here's your girl.


Chewy Toffee Chocolate Chip Peanut butter Triple Cookies Recipe:
(2 dozen)


You will need:
1 stick of room temp butter
1/4 cup peanut butter (1st threat)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg (room temp you can always put it in a warm cup of water in the shell of course!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup toffee bits (you can find in baking aisle by chocolate chips) (2nd threat)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (triple threat!)


Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugars and mix for a few minutes. Add vanilla until mixed in, then egg until nicely incorporated.
3. Mix together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda. Now slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Add the toffee bits and chocolate chips.
4. Drop tablespoon fulls of cookie dough onto your cookie sheet spaced out. If you have trouble with sticking try parchment paper. Bake about 8-11 mins. Cookies will be slightly turning light golden on the outside edges and cracking throughout the tops when they are done. They may seem a bit undone in the middle, but once they set for a couple mins to cool, they will be ready. Transfer cookies to wax paper of mat to cool.
5. Eat!



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Melted Crayon Heart Wreath Tutorial

Today we embarked on a fun and messy project. Full disclosure, you probably don't want to start this one right before dinner or you'll all be eating crayon sprinkles as they seem to get everywhere. And if you think I am Maria Vontrapp and we make these kinds of projects everyday, we don't. This is more like making up for all the projects we don't make every day. Ha. You can definitely include your kids, as I have with this one. But there is no shame in a grown woman grating crayons and making her own wreath. Happy melting!


You will need:
  • Reject crayons. We used broke old ones.
  • Wax paper
  • An iron
  • Cheese grater OR you can use a plastic bag and meat mallot or hammer to smash the crayons
  • Glue or tape
  • Piece of cardboard/recycling to make a circular shape on for wreath
  • A ribbon or something similar to hang it!

Let's Go:
1. Locate reject crayons. Peel the papers off.
2. Grate crayons or hammer in a bag.
3. Lay an OLD towel you don't care about or a piece of cardboard down and lay a piece of wax paper on top.
4. Sprinkle crayons over wax paper.
5. Now layer a second sheet of wax paper on top and lay a thin OLD towel or something similar on top and iron until crayon flakes have melted.
6. Let cool/
7. Make a small heart template out of cardstock/cardboard/recycling. And make a circle template for the wreath out of similar material. I traced one of my plates. Then cut a circle inside the circle, so it looks like a donut.
8. Cut strips of the wax paper and layer them and cut out hearts.
9. Use tape or glue and place the hearts around your circular/donut shaped wreath template until covered.
10. Tie a ribbon and hang or gift away!

Notes: I sliced the crayons which made peeling them much easier for Isla. We started with the grater (I let her help me) then ended up going with the mallet as the crayon sprinkles were getting everywhere and sticking to everything. You also don't need as many sprinkles as you might thing. I think we actually used too many which made it leak out the sides onto my towel and table. Yeah! A little goes a long way. 

Create a template and cut out hearts.

Cover your wreath template with the hearts using glue or tape.

Tie a little ribbon.

Now admire your work.









Sunday, January 8, 2012

DIY GRAB BUTTON Tutorial

Want to make one of these to promote YOUR blog?

Still Learning Life
When I wanted to make a "Grab Button Box" I found it very difficult to find complete instructions on how to do it. I found bits and pieces here and there, but nothing completely coherent. I am hoping this tutorial will easy to follow with your own "Grab button" as an end result!

PLEASE do not be alarmed by the length of these instructions. The length of these instructions is not a reflection of the difficulty of the tutorial. I have tried to be extremely thorough so there is no confusion.

First off, what IS a "Grab Button Box?" I am talking about that button (usually square) you see on a blog with a tiny box below it that has a bunch of code (as you can see above). If you cut and paste the code into your blog, that button and a link to that blog you cut and pasted it from will be apart of YOUR blog. In otherwords, the button allows YOU an opportunity to promote your blog with an image and direct link that can be hosted on your friends blogs, or by people that just like your blog.

THIS tutorial teaches you how to make YOUR OWN button with the code. You can then feature it on your own blog for others to cut and paste and get the word out about your blog or website. 

OUTLINE:
1. Edit and create a square 125 X 125 image to represent your blog.
2. Upload the image to Photobucket to host and acquire a direct link.
3. Replace your direct link, blog name and address into the code I have provided.
4. Open an HTML page gadgets in blogger and copy your code.

Let's get to it!
1. Decide what image you will use for your button. Keep in mind this button will be small, so tiny details won't show up. Using your own photo program choose an image, and add a title or your blogs name to your image if you wish and resize the image to 125x125 in size. Skip to step 2 if you have completed this task. IF you have never done this before follow the steps for PICNIK a free editing program online listed below.
___________________________________________________
PICNIK Instructions:
1. Go to PICNIK.
2. Click "upload a photo."
3. Choose the file from your computer that has your image and upload it. It will now open in picnik. Click CROP. Click "no constraints" and highlight/click "square." Now use the editing box that appears to pick what square portion of your photo will become the button. Now click "apply." Your photo will become a cropped square. 
4. If you wish to add text or your blog name, use the "TEXT" tab at the top and click on it. You will see a rectangular box that says "type here and click add to place text" Pretty self explanatory. You can play with the fonts and size and drag the text box you create around.
5. Now go back to the tab at the upper left "BASIC EDITS" Click "RESIZE" and put the dimensions 125 X 125 in the boxes. Click "APPLY" 
6. Your image should become very tiny. Now click "SAVE AND SHARE" at the top. Click "SAVE PHOTO" and save to your computer (remember where you save it). 
__________________________________________________
2. Go to PHOTOBUCKET. Either sign in or create an account. You will need to use this site or one like it to house your image online to get a direct link to enter into the code coming up. Once open, click "UPLOAD" and then "SELECT PHOTOS AND VIDEOS". Upload the photo you saved on your computer from PICNIK. When the photo loads, click "view album"
3. Click on the box that says "DIRECT LINK" (as shown below) You will cut and paste this code into a blank document like in the next image.
Then cut and paste the color-coded code found below in the GRAB BUTTON TUTORIAL into the document as well, a few lines below your DIRECT LINK code.

4. Continue with the instructions below. I had to place them in a SCRIBD doc so that the code wouldn't get jumbled up in this post! You are almost done!