Monday, March 14, 2011

St. Patrick’s Day Decorations

Kristin over at Sweetheart Moments motivated me to post my tiny touches of St. Patty’s Day around my home. Simple touches, but my son notices and we get excited about the pending holiday. Also, I love getting ideas, no matter how small, by looking at what other people do in their homes in way of decorating. So…here are my small touches of green…IMG_4211 The cute table runner ($11), mirror underneath it that’s meant for hanging (a bit of a splurge, but have more than gotten my money’s worth from it - $25), and the glass vase (I believe it was only $9!!) are all from HomeGoods. IMG_4212 I filled the vase with white and clear glass rocks as well as cute little plastic shamrocks (on sale for .99 at Michael’s!) The small candle holders were on sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond for only $1.99 after Christmas. How perfect do they match the mirror?IMG_4219

I purchased these last year at Marshall’s, I think for $1.99 each. They’d be a cinch to make (but does it get much cheaper than that, even if you made it yourself?)IMG_4220   IMG_4221 IMG_4228 This is above my son’s toy bin. Cute little shamrock ornaments from Michael’s, on 70% clearance from last year. And we’re planning on making green eggs and ham for breakfast on the 17th, so we’ve been reading the famous Dr. Seuss!IMG_4224 This is on a bookshelf in my living room. I obviously need a little something else to go with it, perhaps a shamrock plant? Hmm….oh well, somewhat festive for now.IMG_4225 IMG_4222 In my bathroom. Again, Michael’s 70% off after the holiday last year. Pardon my preggers belly captured in the pic.IMG_4229 And…last but not least, our front door! My husband has this thing about keeping the peep hole from being covered. =) And, a green flag!IMG_4230 Hope that inspires you a bit! If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears! Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You’re My Pot O’ Gold

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Here is the perfect example of why I test things out myself before posting ideas to my blog. Not that there’s anything wrong with this idea, it just helps to have a bit more…knowledge before entering into a “project”.


  • Pretzel Bags (from Michael’s – they are skinny! 2.25x9.75”)
  • Rainbow Twizzlers (found ‘em at Kmart – and called about 6-7 stores prior to that)
  • Gold Coins or Hershey’s Gold Nuggets (get the bags first, the coins may not fit)
  • Cute tag to top it off!

IMG_4199 I came across this super cute idea on The Busy Budgeting Mama, and thought they’d be fun to “throw together”.

Ha! My first challenge was finding the Rainbow Twizzlers. So, make some phone calls before you drive around.

Second, the gold coins I found at Winco would NOT have fit into these pretzels bags. Thankfully, I opted for the Hershey Nuggets because they taste far better than chocolate gold coins anyhow, am I right?

Lastly, arranging the Twizzlers and chocolates INTO the bag? Not terribly challenging, but you don’t just “fill the bag and call it done”! I used a bamboo skewer to help guide the items down into the bag.

If you decide to make them, hope my little tips help. There’s a free printable over at it is what it is here. Silly me made my own, just because. =)

Again…sorry to any friends who receive this gift and have the “surprise” ruined ahead of time. But I’m sure you’ll still enjoy your special treat.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Handwriting Game

A friend invited me to join in this game to help distract me from my nearing due date (which she had no idea how much I needed distraction!), so…here’s my “handwriting”. Let’s just have it be known that I do not use handwriting. This is part of the reason I chose to never teach 3rd grade (when cursive is taught) and instead taught 5th and 7th. Anywho…here’s my lovely, real-life writing! (guess what? I couldn’t find a sheet of lined paper anywhere, so..thank you computer paper!)IMG_4197 All you have to do is take out a pen and paper, answer the following questions and post it to your blog.

1. What’s your name / blogger name?

2. What’s your blogs URL?

3. Write, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.

4. Favorite quote?

5. Your favorite song? (Mine is constantly changing!)

6. Your favorite band / singers?

7. Anything else you want to say?

8. Tag 3 bloggers to participate. I was tagged by Kiera at ChambersMade.

I’m tagging…

Kristen @ oneplusoneequalsfive because this seems like something she’d do, AND she (unlike myself) has gorgeous teaching writing that ought to be shared with her blog readers. =)

Kristin @ Sweetheart Moments pretty much for the same reason I tagged Kristen, also…she’s newly pregnant and could use distraction from the HORRIBLE morning sickness!

and…Allie @ eat at allie’s because secretly I wanted to spell Allie again (also my daughter-to-be’s name, hehe). No…well, maybe. But also because while this is a cooking blog, you should all check it out. Her food photography is beautiful and she has yummy recipes! =P

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nutella Cupcakes & Bad Puns

IMG_4193 Today is my husband’s 32nd birthday…and I’ve completely spoiled him the last 2 years for his birthday. For his 30th, I threw him a surprise party in which we asked each guest to bring a bottle of wine (in an attempt to provide him with a bottle for each year lived, we came close!) For his 31st, I celebrated by gifting him with the “31 Flavors of Ryan”. I should do an entire post on this, because it was a lot of fun! I created a gift/explanation of things I appreciated about Ryan that matched a different flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. He received one each day during the month of March in a variety of ways. I’ll make a note to add a post on this…perhaps while twiddling my thumbs waiting for Allie to arrive. =)

This year…I told him I was taking a break from the extravagant, particularly since I’m due with his daughter 2 days following his birthday. But, I didn’t want his birthday to go entirely uncelebrated, so I made the following cupcakes for a small group of friends. I told him to admit that he loved the cornball pun!! Anyhow, the cupcakes turned out pretty tasty, so here’s the recipe. (I also made box yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting in case there were people with an aversion to Nutella).  IMG_4192 Nutella Frosted Cupcakes

10 T butter, softened

3/4 c. white sugar

3 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 c. sifted flour

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

Nutella, approx. 1/3 cup

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners. Cream together butter and sugar until light, 2 minutes. (and yes, I realize this picture is slightly suggestive…thank you mixer!)IMG_4177

Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Don’t worry if the batter doesn’t look smooth. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture here before adding in the dry ingredients.) Add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and baking powder until batter is uniform and no flour remains.IMG_4178  Fill each muffin liner with batter. They should be 3/4 full, and the dough IS thick. IMG_4179 Top each cake with 1 1/2 tsp. Nutella. IMG_4181 “Swirl” the Nutella in. This will be a bit tricky since the batter is so thick. I used a toothpick. IMG_4183Bake for 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.IMG_4186 Gotta appreciate new recipes! Go get creative and try something new in the kitchen yourself.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Organizing Recipes & Meal Planning

IMG_4146  More nesting, ladies! As mentioned in my blog description, I was VERY naive when it came to cooking prior to getting married (okay, I’ll admit, even after getting married…maybe still). However, I was determined to figure this whole cooking thing out and I’ve been cutting recipes and trying new things for quite some time now. I’m definitely feeling more comfortable in the kitchen.
With baby #2 due VERY soon, I’m recognizing that cooking is going to feel that much more challenging…again! In an attempt to make it less of a challenge, I reorganized all the recipes I have found to be “tried and trued” so I can plan meals quicker. I had begun this form of organization awhile back, but needed to expand after adding recipes to my repertoire.
Recipe Book
Here’s the final result. A 2” binder (I think) – pictured above – with about 9 different “sections” as follows:
IMG_4153(The pictures are the file tab pages separating each  section, 8 1/2” x 11” paper with about a 3 1/2” square “cutesy” label, pictured below. Some of them don’t have the same “titles” because I had made them prior to expanding my recipes)
  • Appetizers & SidesIMG_4149
  • Salads, Soups & SandwichesIMG_4154
  • PoultryIMG_4155
  • BeefIMG_4156
  • Pasta, Fish & Vegetarian IMG_4157
  • DessertsIMG_4158
  • DrinksIMG_4159
  • Breakfast
(This was an entirely brand new section, so I don’t yet have a cute label for it yet)
  • 3 sheet protectors that house recipes I want to try: apps & sides, main dishes, dessertsIMG_4161 On the back of each section, I put an alphabetized list of the recipes in that section (the recipes are also alphabetized, for now at least). Here’s one example:IMG_4150 The recipes themselves I’ve typed on a 3”x5” piece of cardstock and put them in photo pages (I also laminated the cardstock so they stay clean when I take them out to use). Here’s what they look like and here’s a link to a sample of the photo pages:IMG_4160 I’ve even thought it’d be cool to use the side pockets for notes or comments about the recipe. Yeah…don’t know if that’ll ever ACTUALLY happen, but it’s a cool thought.
Meal Planning
Trick of the Trade #10: Meal Plan
Meal planning is crucial for so many reasons. Saves money, keeps me eating healthier, keeps the hubby happy, etc. My meal planning routine each week is to sit down with my recipe binder and my schedule and figure out what I’m going to make each night. If it’s a relatively easy week, I’ll throw some new recipes in there from my “stockpile”. I found these helpful little magnets that I use to put up the recipe cards on the side of my fridge. That way, I’ve got it ready to grab AND my husband can peek at what’s on the menu. I pull out all the cards and make my grocery list from that.IMG_4164IMG_4163Notice the pizza coupons nearby, too. I do actually PLAN to go out or order in as well. Come on, we all know it’s gonna happen! =) Hope this helps motivate you…as well as keep me motivated to continue cooking after baby arrives!