Thursday, July 31, 2008

National Wildlife Federation: Promote Wildlife Watch

National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Watch - Get Outside

Check out this NEW program from the National Wildlife Federation. The summer Wildlife Watch includes lists of seasonal animals and plants to watch for in your area. Search for your state and get started!

Visit the Wildlife Watch website, download a "watch" list for your state, take a walk around your neighborhood or favorite outdoor spot, and see how many animals and plants you can find. Come back to share your sightings online. You can even add your special experiences to the Wildlife Watch message board and share your wildlife photos.

This is fun and easy and a great way to enjoy nature!

I'll have to be sure to share some of the pics that we took on our evening walks.

Little Creation

Click to play Oyster Gardener



Check out my little creation using smilebox. I know that you have already seen these pictures, but I wanted to experiment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dinner guests


Dinner was great. It was a rare opportunity for me to enjoy some soft shell crabs - a favorite from when I was a kid as my grandmother (and my cousin Robert) can attest to. Yum! My wonderful aunt loved my corn pudding which I cook to make it more like a moist corn bread. I know the finished product, from the previous post, looks like "a rat got into it" but it is actually quite good.

Our compliments to the grill master for her excellent "easy peasy" take on soft shell crabs.

Corn bread, edamames, salad, and crabs.

We played Wii Sports to work off our dinner. Lulu slept through most of it because she had a headache. I guess she's been partying like a rock star at her dad's house. :-)

Bro in his hat that he got from aunt Meeka.

Look at this wonderful strawberry shortcake.


The end.

Editor's note to all of Lulu's adoring fans: Poor Lulu has been partying like a rock star and was recuperating during this event. Her manager has released a statement saying that 'she is feeling fine now and will be featured again in future posts. She sends her loves and hopes to see you all soon!'

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lunch




This is my lunch today. Plus, a pot sticker Lean Cuisine which is my favorite ever. I found it at a new grocery store where I have been shopping! The peaches are sooooo yum this time of year!

Thanks to my buddy ms. mindless for showing me how to create the collage.




Cool, crisp, delicious, veggie, cheese bagel

Check out my "shared items" on the side bar. See the link for the cool, crisp, delicious, veggie cheese bagel? Yum!

Enter to win a brand new copy of The Creative Family!

Simple mom is giving away three copies of a new book, The Creative Family. Read about it here. Your chance to win ends August 1.


Photo Courtesy of Meg McElwee

Weekend

Ahhhh... had a great, fun, and busy weekend. We went to 2 birthday parties. The Saturday party was for the son of a friend of my hubby. Bro was one of (seemingly) 2 dozen babies there between the ages fo 6 - 18 months. A lady at the party made the cutest cupcake/cake that I will have to share with you in later post. Then, on Sunday we went to a pool party for a neighbor of ours. It rained when we first got there, but then we had lunch and opened presents the skies cleared and we were able to go in the pool!

On a side note, the pool in the above pic was NOT the pool that we swam in over the weekend, but it is the only pool that I could find in the clip art that would work with my collage.

Tonight, one of my most favorite people is coming to my house for dinner!!!!! She calls me Minderella. Get it? Like Cinderella! Love her!

Friday, July 25, 2008

For July Only!


Girl Scouts and Dairy Queen have teamed up to bring you the best of both worlds (and I'm NOT talking Miley Cyrus) - Thin Mint Blizzards. Fans of Girl Scouts Thin Mints (isn't that all of us) don't want to miss it! Ahhh - only a few days left.




Click here to locate a Dairy Queen near you!



I can sit up on my own

Bro just had his 6 month check up! He is weighing in at 16 lbs 7 oz and is 27 in. long! That puts him in the 75th % for length and just under the 50th % for weight. Way to go!

He is sitting up on his own now. Check out his new skills.

video

Problem Solving 101: How do I get that ball? Hmmmmmmm...


video

Watch me eat my penguins.

New Table Topic

So, the table topic question was, "What do you do when you get a gift that you already have?"

Lulu: (With a big grin on her face) I smile and say thank you. (pause) And then I can have one at mommy's house and one at daddy's house!

Well, she's right!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Conversation at dinner


We have these conversation cards at our kitchen table. They have little questions on them that promote conversation. This is much better than the worn out, "How was your day today sweetheart?" conversation starter.

Each of us selects a card and reads our card. Each of us gets to answer every question. Thus, we are discussing 3 topics each night.

Last night's question was: Who is your hero and what qualities do you like about them?

Here is how we answered.

Daddy-D: Dale Earnhardt Jr because he started from nothing and ended up being someone.

Mommy: Katie Couric (well, I was trying to think of a career mom who has it all together. She is the only career mom, who came to mind, that we all know.)

Lulu: My family because without them I wouldn't know everything that I know.

Round two.

Dana: Albert Einstein because he was so smart and for his inventions.

Mommy: Benjamin Franklin for his inventions. (Note: I was already trying to think of an inventor BEFORE DH came up with his person.)

Lulu: I know who nobody has mentioned yet - Jesus - because he died on the cross for us!


Who is your hero and what do you like about that person? Leave a comment and let me know! If you share this table topic with your family tonight then let us know what THEY said too!

Save money: A tip from Lulu


This I simply must share.

I picked Lulu up from summer camp and she says, "Mom, I've been thinking of a way that we can save money."

My thoughts, "HAH, does this include selling your brother, mommy getting a second job, or the ever-profitable lemonade stand?"

I said, "Oh yeah - what's that honey?"

"Well," she continues, "when we buy a bookbag for school then we should buy a cool bookbag that will last a few years instead of buying a popular kind that will only last one year."

Note: We have already purchased the book bag for this upcoming school year (see above pic).

"You know," she continues, "I got the Kim Possible one in 1st grade and that won't work now. I got the Hillary Duff one in 2nd grade and that won't work now. Last years book bag (note: an over one shoulder High School Musical bag that she HAD to have and it busted mid-year but I didn't replace it to prove my point) is not an option. So, we should buy one like you already got me and then it will last a few years.

My reply, "Yeah - I like the way you're thinking!"

Her point is, instead of buying a trendy bookbag that would be out of style after a year, that we should buy one that will last awhile. Love her! Granted, they are so hard on their bookbags at this age that you can't expect it to last more than a year, but at least she is thinking!!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mock Lemon Meringue Bars


Recipe Courtesy of Pillsbury
Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest 2006
Robin Janine Peterson of Peoria, Arizona


Are you a Food Network addict, as I am? They had the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest show on the other night. I went to their website to get a recipe that I saw on the show, but printed out this one from 2006 instead.

I am intimidated by making meringue and my one and only attempt, ever, to make it failed. I have not tried again.

Note: Please soften your cream cheese ahead of time like the directions say to. I did not and ended up with a lumpy (albeit tasty) topping.

Mock Lemon Meringue Bars

Ingredients
1 roll (16.5 oz.) Create N Bake refrigerated sugar cookies
1 cup lemon curd
3 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 cup marshmallow creme
1 container (6 oz.) Yoplait Original 99% fat free french vanilla yogurt
1 cup frozen whipped topping thawed


Directions
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 inch pan with cookie spray. In pan, break up cookie dough. With floured fingers, press dough evenly in bottom of pan to form crust.
2. Bake 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is set. Cool 30 minutes.
3. Spread lemon curd over cooled crust. In large bowl, beat cream cheese (softened), marshmallow creme, and yogurt with wooden spoon until well blended. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over lemon curd, swirling to resemble meringue topping. Refrigerate at least one hour or until serving time.
4. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store in refrigerator.






Press cookie dough into pan.




Out of the oven and golden brown.



See my lumpy topping? Soften the cream cheese for a smooth topping!










Floam - Does it really do that?


By now, you have seen the commercial. Foam that is colorful and sticky (but NOT sticky) and fun to play with. The idea is that the miniscule foam pieces stay together and can be formed into different shapes - great for kids. But, they are sticky enough to stay together while NOT sticking to your child or the table etc. Right? Are you as skeptical as I am? CHeck out Lulu's face. She is giving Daddy-D a hard time. He is skeptical too!


Look! It's Whoville - from Horton Hears a Who!

See that speck of 'dust'?

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea????

Claims and Findings:

Foam pieces stick together, thus they will not fall on the ground and get eaten be a baby brother (or the dog). TRUE.

Will not dry out. TRUE (been sitting out for 3 days now).

Will stick together but not to anything else. TRUE (oddly enough).

Will cause an arguement between parents and child as parents vie for the best colors because they want to play with the child's new toy. True (sad to say).

Baked Spaghetti - Quick and Easy


We are always looking for a quick and easy meal that we will all eat, since Lulu is such a picky eater. Plus, like I've said before, we are bored of eating the same old thing. Well, that is, DH and I are tired of eating the same thing. So, I tried baked spaghetti.

What makes this easy is that you can prep it the night before and assemble and bake when you are ready to eat.

Baked Spaghetti

Noodles, cooked as you would normally

Ground beef, browned as you normally would

Jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

2 cups cheddar cheese (or mozz or taco cheese, whatever is in your refrigerator)

Prep the ingredients ahead of time and put them in your refrigerator. First, mix the noodles, ground beef, and sauce. Then layer one half of the meat mixture in a large baking dish. Put one cup of cheese on the mixture. Layer the rest of the meat mixture in the dish and top with remaining cheese. Cover with tin foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

SOooooo, you just walked in the door from work. You have a million things to do - besides cook dinner. NOW, you have 20-25 minutes to visit with the kids, check homework, get changed, walk the dog, and so on.

It is a great mix of what we like best about spaghetti and lasagna. I'm not much of a ricotta cheese fan anways so this was more my style. Serve with garlic bread, from the frozen food section of the grocery store, and a nice salad.

So easy-peasy!

Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lulu Goes to Camp


Regretfully, due to the recent addition to the family, I was unable to go to our favorite summer camp with Lulu this year. As luck would have it, Daddy Warbucks volunteered to go AND be a counselor. Well, Lulu finally got over being home sick and they both enjoyed their week. This year they were able to go on a field trip to some of the local tourist areas. Lulu was mining for gold and actually came back with a piece as well as a plethora of various gems including the state gem. Cool!


The highlights of her trip were the talent show (Lulu was a stand-up comedian for her own act) and that John asked her to the dance. Apparently, he asked Daddy Warbucks ahead of time for his permission to ask Lulu to the dance. Daddy Warbucks said that this was 'admirable' of John and that he would be proud to have his daughter go to the dance with John. What a hoot! I am told that none of the boys danced at the dance (typical) and barely spoke to their dates at that. Ah - the memories!
Here is a picture of her camp shirt. She was so proud of her work.







Corn Pudding


Corn pudding (also known as corn casserole or, as I like to call it, corn cake? Sounds gross, right? Well, it's actually great and 'your kids will eat it'! Plus, it's crazy easy to make - like a dump cake.
Start off with some really simple ingredients.


Here are the exact measurements:


1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 can creamed corn
1 can of your favorite corn, drained
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter


Dump the ingredients into a shallow baking dish. I use a pie pan and then put the extras into another baking dish. Cook until it is slightly brown/golden on top and not wiggly in the middle.



Tip: When to eat this?
  • Chili Cook-off - DH made this and took it to work for a chili cook-off. He heated the casserole up in the microwave, just prior to serving them, and cut them up into little brownie sizes and served them on a plate as a side. People put them in their bowls and dumped chili on top of the corn bites. They were the hit of the party! Picture corn bread but sweeter and not as dry. De-lic!
  • Cinco De Mayo - going to a Cinco de Mayo party and need to bring a side dish? This will be perfect? Maybe add some small diced poblano peppers for a kick - yum!
  • Anytime that you would eat corn with dinner. I serve this once a week. It goes well with any dish that goes well with corn.
  • Thanksgiving - We frequently volunteer to bring rolls as our contribution to the family Thanksgiving. Bring this instead - kinda bready, kinda NOT, plus corn goes with Thanksgiving like cake goes with birthdays!

Enjoy!

Love my hubby...

Just another reason why I love my hubby... he makes my lunch. Yes, you read that right, he packs my lunch for work. Well, there is a benefit for him as well. If he packs my lunch then I won't spend money while I am at work.

Here is what he packed today:


Yes - I will eat all of this in one work day.

Oh, and he made me a cheese omelet for breakfast! Yum! Thank you sweetie!

Dinner tonight? Baked spaghetti! The recipe says to add cream of mushroom soup. Don't know if I'm that bold.

What did I do to deserve this?

Do You Eat Edible Flowers?

Today on the Martha Blog (as in Martha Stewart, who else?) She blogs about the edible flowers that she is growing. Answer me honestly, do you really eat edible flowers? Yes, I am cultured enough to have been to a restaurant that serves edible flowers, but I have to confess that I have never eaten them. Do you eat them? Would you eat them? Have you ever put them in/on something that you made? Hmmm... is it just me?

Yes, this definitely calls for a new poll - see side bar! Or, leave a comment.

Web Site of the Day - Children's Lit Book List

For my friends who have young children at home and love to read to your children, here is a list of lists of themes, authors, and so much more for children's books. Why didn't I find this years ago!!!!

From accordians to walking safety and everything inbetween... this is the spot for you if you read children's books.

Here are the accordian books... who knew?
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
Hector, the accordion-nosed dog by Stadler.
Music, Music for Everyone by Vera B. Williams
Something Special for Me by Vera B. Williams

They site 5 books with a female dragon slayer. Great!

Check it out!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sunday Money by Jeff MacGregor

Started reading a Jeff MacGregor book titled, "Sunday Money." If there are any NASCAR fans reading this blog, which I doubt, then you might want to check it out. It is starting out to be a great book. I'd like to convince DH to read it but he won't, I'm sure. I'll be reading the good parts to him myself. So far, all of Chapter 1 is a must! Anyways, found this list (see below) online and thought that it was funny (hilarious actually). Granted, it will only be funny if you watch NASCAR, which I already know that you don't. BUT, if you have friends that watches racing then be sure to copy and paste this list and send it to them. Also, if the said friend is also a reader then you can get him (or her) this book for Christmas, if they haven't read it already.

Jeff MacGregor's Top Ten Tips for Your First NASCAR Race
Source: Amazon.com

10. Day race? Bring ear plugs, hat, binoculars.

9. Night race? Bring ear plugs, hat, beer goggles.

8. At Daytona and Talladega, there’s no such thing as too much sunblock. SPF 45. Apply liberally. Repeat, as needed, until you slip from your seat like a watermelon seed.

7. Yes, NASCAR is expanding everywhere and very fast, but effortful puns on the word Madagascar will only lead to embarrassment.

6. Your copy of Sunday Money is an excellent conversation starter for making new friends at the track. Thanks to its quilted cover, it also doubles as a comfy seat-cushion and a stylish windshield sun-screen.

5. Drivers cannot hear you yelling encouragement from the 58th row when they’re actually lapping the track. This will not stop the high school kid behind you from doing so.

4. Like room service Eggs Benedict, the Jumbo Grilled Turkey Legs at any racetrack always sound far better than they are. Avoid them. Let them thrive in the happy hunger of your imagination, rather than deliver their sad reality to your somersaulting innards. Life bears enough disappointments.

3. Women, despite the signs you’ll see in the third turn campground, there’s no such thing as a "Free Trackside Mammogram." Don’t let the Mardi Gras beads fool you; there are shockingly few accredited radiologists working the infield on race weekend.

2. All-purpose, all-context catch phrase guaranteed to make a NASCAR newbie sound like an old hand? "Go, Junior!" Appropriate any time!

1. If your tailgate margarita machine doesn’t make at least ten horsepower on the blender-drink dyno, don’t bother. Go big, baby, or don’t go.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's Here!


Augh! The 2009 Wilton Cake Yearbook is available!


My Nightly Walk...


In the evenings, DH, Lulu, Bro, Dale, and I all go for a walk. Here are some pics from our most recent venture. Thanks Uncle K for the backpack!!!!! Note: Usually Lulu is with us, but she is away at summer camp this week. I'll update with some pics of Lulu when she gets back.




Feeding the ducks.

Great Blue Heron

Geese lining up to take off.


Night-night!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Coconut Cake

Inspired by a coconut cake that DH and I had at a recent picnic... thank you to Lulu's wonderful grandmother... DH has been asking me to make said coconut cake ever since. We slightly changed the recipe. THe original recipe was made with a 7-minute frosting that, apparently, can be found in the Joy of Cooking cookbook.




Ingredients:
White cake mix from box
1/2 pound unsalted butter, rooom temp
2 blocks of cream cheese, room temp
1 pound of confectioner suger, sifted
1 bag of coconut flakes
1 small box of vanilla pudding
vanilla extract, 1 tbsp
coconut extract, 1/2 tbsp
can of coconut milk

Directions for cake: Make cake using directions on box of cake mix.

Directions for icing: Mix butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and coconut extract in a bowl.

Directions for pudding: Make pudding according to package directions. Cool in refrigerator. Add some coconut to pudding for flavor (optional).

Directions for browning coconut (optional): Layer coconut on a cookie sheet. Bake in 350 degree oven for 4 minutes. Take out of oven. Stir. Repeat as necessary until coconut is brown/golden. Cool before adding to cake as HOT coconut will melt the icing.

Directions for assembly: Cut each cake into two layers. Brush on some coconut milk to the top of each cake layer. Assemble by adding some pudding inbetween each cake layer (4 layers in all). Once the top layer of cake is added then ice the cake. After icing the cake, add coconut.

Enjoy!




Book Review: Escape by Carolyn Jessop

Just finished Escape by Carolyn Jessop. What a great read. Here is a review:

"Escape provides an astonishing look behind the tightly drawn curtains of the FLDS Church, one of the most secretive religious groups in the United States. The story Carolyn Jessop tells is so weird and shocking that one hesitates to believe a sect like this, with 10,000 polygamous followers, could really exist in 21st-century America. But Jessop’s courageous, heart-wrenching account is absolutely factual. This riveting book reminds us that truth can indeed be much, much stranger than fiction."—Jon Krakauer, Author of Under the Banner of Heaven, Into Thin Air, and Into the Wild

In truth, I sometimes wonder if I could use an extra wife to help around the house. tee hee hee! It was a very interesting book and a unique glimpse into this particular sect. What a powerful woman! I can't imagine! I liked that Carolyn was honest in her accounts of what happened, but not gruesome or too graphic. Her story is astounding! If you read it then please tell me what you think.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Letter to My Sister, another poem from baby Bro


Letter to my sister who is away at camp! I miss you!
Disclaimer: This poem is not an original. My mom found it on the web!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cole Slaw Update

This is an update on the July 7 entry titled "July 4 Wedding."

Last night, DH decides that he is going to eat the aforementioned "cinnamon" cole slaw. He tells me that he added cinnamon apple sauce to the slaw and that it is rather tasty. I asked him if he read my blog. Note: because if he had read my blog then he would see links to other cinnamon apple sauce recipes. He said that he did NOT read my blog but that he thought that the apple sauce would sweeten the cole slaw! WHAT? So, I confessed that I actually found recipes online for cinnamon apple coleslaw. DH just grinned! Who would have thought of that? So, you might try it... or maybe, like me, you'll just stick to the regular cole slaw!

P.S. Bro has been waking up through the night the past few days. Why is that? Growth spurt? Teething? Mommy is sleepy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mexi Night

Ever get bored of the same old menu. For us it is: spaghetti, tacos, pork chops, sloppy joes, and so on. Literally, 3 out of 5 nights we are eating one of those meals for dinner. So, my goal is to prepare 2 new meals a month. Hey, I'm baby-stepping here. This week I was inspired by "Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller" from the Food Network. Ms. Miller usually prepares several meals that you can heat up throughout the week.

Last night we had her, Island Quesadillas with Lime Sour Cream. Except that I forgot to make the lime sour cream. Delicious! I modified the recipe a bit. We grilled 2 large chicken breasts (no marinade, just grill them). In a separate pan I sauteed red onion slices, yellow pepper slices, and strips of Old El Paso brand chili peppers from a can (instead of the poblano peppers frmo the show, which are listed as jalapeno peppers on the site). Nonetheless, it was delic and you would never know that it was peppers from a can.

Once you have all of that cooked up then you take a tortilla shell and fill it with the amount of chicken and peppers/onions that you want. Top the mixture with your fav cheese (we used shredded cheddar and mozz) and then fold the tortilla over to make a little pocket with the stuff inside. Cook this in a large frying pan (no need to use butter or oil) 'til it browns on both sides. Wa-la! Delicious! Fantastico! Top with sour cream and toppings as needed.


Picture Courtesy of Food Network


We also made her Salsa Rice with Black Beans and Corn. Wonderful and so easy! Make your basic white rice. Once the rice is finished then spoon in some of your favorite salsa, to taste. I prepared rice for 3 servings and probably put about 1/3 cup of salsa in the rice. Then, I added one drained can of sweet corn and 1/2 drained can of black beans. Stir. Enjoy! That was easy!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A July 4 Wedding





What a great weekend. Lulu was a bridesmaid in E's July 4 wedding overlooking the harbor. Despite the rain, we did get in an outside ceremony and the much anticipated fireworks! Thank you Mother Nature! Bro enjoyed his first fireworks display and dancing the night away! Lulu was a hoot and definitely has better dancing moves then her mom! What am I going to do with that girl?


An update on Bro... he has decided that he has to be held when he is trying to go to sleep. You put him down and he cries. You pick him up and he falls fast asleep, and so on and so forth. Ugh! He is now rolling over onto his stomach when he sleeps and is actually sleeping much better this way. That's 'cause he's like his mommy who likes to sleep on her stomach too! He is sitting up by himself and reaching for everything!


I also need to give a little plug to my DH (that's my dear husband). In truth I tell him that he missed his calling; he should have been a chef. In another life he was a "concoction king." He makes these crazy food concoctions all of the time and 99% of the time they are great! This is doubly wonderful for me because he eats all of the bits of leftovers from the frig that Lulu and I don't want to to eat. (Sorry Dad!) So, DH puts these bits of food on a wrap with some sort of condiment (or mixture on condiments) and eats it. Seriously, I can't give you an example of a recent strange combination but when I see one I will let you know.


His latest attempt was last night with the cole slaw. For those of you who do not know, I have had several failed attempts at making coleslaw over the past few years. I decided to go to "the lady" (Paula Deen, as if you had to ask) and follow her recipe! Great! Wonderful! Very delcious! (Ok, not so very delicious for poor Bro because I ate the slaw and then nursed Bro and he was gassy for days!) I digressed... So, here we have DH in the kitchen and he is going to make use of the other half of the 3 POUND bag of shredded cabbage that he bought from a local discount warehouse grocery store. I mean, yes I was going to make cole slaw but how much slaw can two people eat? Keep in mind that DH also grabbed "the lady"s recipe from my recipe box. Fast forward- he has made the cole slaw and it is marinating in the frig. I try a bite... he looks at me...


drum roll please...


He added cinnamon and nutmeg to the coleslaw!!!!! He says that he wanted to spice it up a bit!!!!! Who adds cinnamon and nutmeg to coleslaw????? I'm trying to be open minded her but really... who does that? I assure him that even Rachael Ray has made the same food palette blunder from time to time! When he makes a great concoction, as he often does, I'll let you know!!!!


Oh, I have been corrected. There are, apparently, plenty of cinnamon coleslaw recipes online. You can find them here, and here, and here! Well, certainly I'll have to pass this along. DH will love to know that he is right... again!


Happy 4th!