Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Flowers

Let me just say - Pinterest is awesome.  So much inspiration packed into one spot.  I swear I could spend an entire day (week?) just looking through all of the awesomeness that's already been pinned.  Since the weather has been waaaay below average for the past few weeks (hello? it's spring!), I've created a happy collection of spring to tide me over until spring really well, springs!

1 Breathtaking wedding cake (source)
2 Lovely picnic (source)
3 Gorgeous ranunculus (source)
4 Happy felted garland (source)
5 Springtime in Paris {sigh} (source)
6 A field of Poppies (source)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mixed Berry Bread Pudding

I love bread pudding.  I try to pass it off as baked french toast and make it a valid breakfast food.  I love to throw whatever seasonal bounty I have into it.  I especially love it in the spring, with berries and a lovely cup of tea...or cafe latte.  Here's my favorite spring bread pudding in all of it's berry-bursting, custardlicious glory:

Mixed Berry Bread Pudding

3-4 slices bread or 2 hamburger/hot dog buns (I used 2 bakery hot dog buns)
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup mixed berries (I used an equal mix of blueberries and blackberries in this one)

1 - Grease 8x8 pan and preheat oven to 375
2 - Break bread/buns into bite sized pieces and throw in the 8x8 pan
3 - Pour mixed berries over the bread
4 - Melt butter with milk in the microwave in 1 minute intervals until the butter is melted
5 - Whisk brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla into the butter-milk mixture
6 - Whisking constantly, add eggs one at a time to milk mixture; whip constantly to incorporate the eggs without cooking them
7 - Pour batter over bread/berries, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered
8 - Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped

Try to resist the urge to scoop some out immediately - this gets even better after cooling awhile :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Elegant Hydrangea Eggs

Everywhere I look (ok, so maybe it was just PB) I'm seeing gorgeous floral-covered eggs.  This weekend I ran out to get the two supplies (plastic eggs and flowers) that needed to make some for myself, and spent the better part of Sunday afternoon hot gluing a little Easter decor:

Aren't they lovely?  What's that?  You'd like to make some too?  Well, read on my crafy friends :)

Start with some lovely run of the mill Easter eggs (I got mine from the Dollar Store)

and a few silk hydrangea bushes (I got mine at Walmart - these were incredibly pretty for Walmart's craft floral dept, and only $3 a bush)

strip the little petals from their plastic stigma (center of the flower) and fire up your glue gun

apply a nice dollup of hot glue onto the egg (yes, I like to get the hot glue gun as close to my laptop as possible)

pinch the petal edges together

and press the center of petal (with the edges still pinched) into the glue

and repeat...again...and again...and again...for what may be a full hour, ok two

but the results more than make up for all the gluing and pinching

Hello my pretties.  I think I'll keep you :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

You Eat What?!? for Breakfast

Munchkin is not one for eating breakfast as soon as he wakes up.  He prefers to snuggle a little, play a little, and then maybe he's ready for some sustinance.  So our mornings go alot like this:

Me:  "N, are you ready for breakfast?"
Munchkin:  "Nah, not yet"

Repeat 3 or 4 times. 

Earlier this week, however, it went like this:

Me:  "N, are you ready for breakfast?"
Munchkin:  "Breakfast?  I eat losers for breakfast!"
Me:  "You eat what?!?"
Munchkin:  "Ooosers"  (extreme emphasis on the 'ooo')
Me:  "Where'd ya hear that?"
Munchkin:  "I don't know"

Mmmmkay.  I'm 100% sure that's not something that I've said.  I'm pretty sure Hubbers hasn't been saying it.  So I chalked it up to something he heard at school.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon.  Munchkin was driving his Lightening McQueen powerwheels around the yard.  Yep, you guessed it - he pushed the fun Lightening McQueen catch phrase button and - "I eat losers for breakfast!" came out.  Hmm, wonder if I can hack it to say, "I eat oatmeal for breakfast!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Veggie Pasta Delight

I just love recipes with the word 'delight' in the title - it's so delightful...hardee har har.  This past weekend spring finally sprung - warm sunshine...sweet spring smells in the air...semi-annual man-rite of spring on the agenda.  Yes, it's new grill shopping season.  Hubs has been eyeing up the grills for the past month - comparing and contrasting models and features.  And finally, this weekend the time had come.  A new, shining, stainless steel behemoth sits proudly on the deck.  To christen the new grill we fired 'er up for hot dogs and bratwursts.  Yep, we're classy ;)  Since man woman cannot live on processed meat alone, I cooked up this tasty veggie pasta as a side dish. 

Simple Spring Veggie Pasta

1 pound rotini pasta
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 roma tomato, diced
1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressin
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 - Boil your pasta according to the directions - in the final 2 minutes of boiling, add the red bell pepper to the pot (in addition to mellowing the pepper a bit, throwing it in with the pasta will delicately flavor the pasta too)
2 - Drain pasta & peppers
3 - Add drained pasta, peppers & onion to serving bowl
4 - Add 1/2 bottle Italian dressing and 1/2 cup of grated cheese
5 - Stir well to combine (the cheese will melt deliciously into the hot pasta)
6 - Add the tomatoes and another 1/4 cup or so of Italian dressing and give it another stir
7 - Serve warm (my favorite) or chill in refrigerator until ready to serve (hubs favorite)
8 - Add additional dressing (to taste) & final 1/2 cup grated cheese right before serving

On a side-note, woman can live on pasta alone :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Scrappy Little Burlap Balls

This weekend I had a few minutes (15 or so) to myself and an itch to make a little something.  I love how quick these little scrappy burlap decor balls were to throw together.

Start with scrap piece of newspaper/flyer/advertisement (I used half of a drug store circular page per ball)

Crumple it into a small ball

Using tape (masking tape would be perfect, but scotch tape was all I had within reach) wrap one piece all the way around in one direction, and then wrap a second piece of tape all the way around the other direction (the pink highlights follow the tape - it was difficult to see the invisible (doh!) scotch tape in the picture)

Cut some scrap burlap into strips around 1/2 inch wide

Wrap your burlap strips around the ball, using hot glue to affix the ends (ignore the long burlap strings at this point) 

Once the ball is completely covered, snip off the long strings as desired

From start to finish, I was able to make 5 little burlap cuties in 15 minutes.  Here they are in a simple container on a shelf with my moss covered C from last spring

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day

May your day be filled with leprechan fun and pots of gold!

Or maybe just some Lucky Charms ;)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Monte Cristo

I love fruit paired with meats.  Hubs does not.  At all.  For any reason.  I would love to serve a gorgeous pork chop with mango sauce.  Or a lovely chicken with apple stuffing.  But that would mean I'd be preparing a completely seperate meal for the Hubber.  So instead, I get my fruity fix with deliciously addictive Monte Cristo sandwich.  I can make the Hubs and little Bubs a no frills grilled ham & cheese at the same time I'm whipping up this delicious delight...

Monte Cristo Sammich

4 pieces sliced bread
4 slices deli honey ham (sliced paper thin...or however you like it)
2 slices swiss cheese
dijon mustard

2/3 cup water
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt

butter (for frying)
powdered sugar (for dusting)
fruit preserves of your choice (for dipping)

1 - Heat a griddle/griddle pan over medium high heat
2 - In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, water, egg, baking powder and salt together to create the batter

3 - Lightly coat 2 slices of bread with Dijon mustard
4 - Assemble 2 sandwiches by placing 2 slices of ham on each of the Dijon coated bread slices, topped with a slice of cheese, 2 more slices of ham and the second slice of bread
5 - Slice sandwiches in half
6 - Dip each sandwich half in the batter to coat (allow excess to drip back into the bowl)
7 - Lightly coat griddle/griddle pan with butter
8 - Fry sandwich halves on the griddle until brown on all sides
9 - Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and fruit preserves (I like strawberry or blackberry)

Yum Yum Yum :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pin on a Little Irish

Did anyone else have a pin for every holiday when they were little?  Was that an '80s fad?  Or does my neck of the woods just abhor pins? 

I decided that we needed some lucky shamrock pins for St Patrick's Day.  These little cuties are quick and easy and sure to be a lucky charm ;)

Draw (or print) a little shamrock on a piece of cardstock (try not to be jealous of my mad drawing skills hahahaha) and cut it out to use as your main template

Using the template, cut a small shamrock out of felt

Then using the felt shamrock as a template, cut a second shamock a little larger, in a complimentary color of felt

To add a little bit of embellishment, embroider a running stitch around the small shamrock

Using a whip stitch, sew a small saftey pin to the back-center of the larger shamrock

Hot glue the small shamrock to the larger shamrock

Pin on a little Irish :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Santa Baby

Sorry it's been quiet...again.  We've been hit by a virus...again.  I can't wait for spring!

My Munchkin is a teensy bit stubborn.  Ok, he's a little mule.  If he doesn't want to do something, no amount of bribery will make him do it.  Sometimes I resort to threats.  Specifically threats of calling Santa.  Something like, "N, if you don't start cleaning up by the time I count to 3, I'm going to have to call Santa".  The fear of no toys for Christmas is enough to send him scampering. 

Fast forward to last night at bed time.  Munchkin is snuggled into bed with his Hippo (which is really Eeore, but we won't go into that), story read, goodnight song sung, me walking out of his room.  And then:

Munchkin:  Can I have a drink of waaaaater.
Me:  No, you had a drink of water already and one drink is the limit
Munchkin:  {opens his hand and holds it to his ear, like he's holding a cell phone}  Hello.  Santa?  Yes, hi.  This is N.  Mommy is.not.listening.  Ok, thanks Santa.  I'll let her know.
Me: {surpressing laughter}
Munchkin  {hangs up his imaginary phone} Santa says you need to listen to my words.
Me:  Hmm.  Santa must not know about our one drink of water limit.
Munchkin:  Oh.  No, he pwobably doesn't.  Ok Mommy, go downstairs.

I'm thinking that the Santa threat is no longer going to be effective...

Lucky Buttons Tutorial

As promised here is the (somewhat sketchy) tutorial for the Lucky Buttons mini pillow.

Aside from all the sewing on of buttons, its a quick little project.  Here are the dimentions of the pillow pieces

7 1/2 9 inch piece of canvas
(2) 5x9 1/2 inch pieces of canvas
7 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch piece of green accent fabric

In addition to your fabric, you will need an assortment of green buttons and some green embroidery thread.  To create the button shamrock...

1 - Layout a basic shamrock pattern with your assorted green buttons. It took a little while to get them into a shape that I liked.

 2 - TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR BUTTONS. I cannot stress this step enough. Munchkin likes to 'help'. My shamrock didn't make it past an hour on the table.

3 - Using your picture (or actual pattern) as a guide start sewing on the buttons onto piece of heavy fabric (I used a heavy canvas drop cloth). You need something heavy to withstand the stress and weight of all the buttons.

 4 - Fill in your basic pattern with layers of additional buttons to create depth. I also found some cute shamrock buttons at my local Jo Anns and added a few to the top layer for fun.

 Once you're happy with your button shamrock, hand embroider the word 'lucky' under the shamrock.  I was thinking of writing it directly under the shamrock, but for some reason ended up writing it on an angle.  And yes, I used ink.  I'm rebellious like that.  But it also meant that I had to go with how I wrote it - wonky angle and all.  I just used a basic outline stitch in green embroidery thread.

Now it's just time to turn this baby into a lil pillow.  The directions for the actual pillow are pretty straightforward:

1 - Sew the green strip to the left side of the large canvas piece
2 - Create an envelop enclosure for the back using the two additional pieces of canvas (there are tons of online tutorials for this)
3 - Sew the back to the front.  Done and done.

I did sew up a little pillow insert for it using an old white blouse - that way I can make mini pillows for other random occasions and only have to store the pillow case.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lucky Buttons

Here's another wee bit of St Paddy's day decor that I just finished...

Originally, I had planned to glue all of the buttons to a piece of wood, but when I went to our wood stash, I couldn't find a piece that was the right size.  It was too late for a HD or Lowes run, so I decided to sew the buttons onto a scrap of heavy canvas instead.  I think I like it better this way anyways...even though it took a lot longer to finish.  I'll have the tute up in the next few days...just in case anyone else has a bazillion green buttons just waiting for a project :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bacon & Mushroom Pasta

This is an adaptation of PW's Pasta with Bacon and Mushrooms - I made the adaptations based on what I had in the pantry and that I was making it for a crowd (5 adults - which is a crowd for us).  It's a heavenly heart-attack in a bowl.

Bacon & Mushroom Pasta

1 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 pieces
2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
1 package baby bellas, sliced
1 1/4 cups milk, 2%
1/4 heavy cream
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup parmesan, freshly grated
1 pound angelhair pasta

Start water for pasta

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon pieces and cook until light brown but not crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Do not clean pan.

Add mushrooms and garlic to pan. Toss/stir around and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes; increase heat to high if needed to help mushrooms begin to turn golden brown.

Pour in milk. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Cook over medium-high heat for several minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.  Add garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
Add angelhair to pot to cook
Reduce heat and pour in half and half and cream. Stir and allow to bubble and thicken for a couple of minutes. Add bacon back to the pan and add the Parmesan and stir, allowing cheese to melt and incorporate into the sauce. Turn off heat.
Drain pasta and retain 1 cup cooking water. 
If sauce is too thick, add pasta water 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. 
Add cooked pasta to a large bowl.  Add the sauce from the pan. Toss with tongs.

Garnish with additional grated parmesan cheese.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Everything's Coming Up Rainbows

What's green, green and more green?  Right, a frog holding a green lollipop, sitting on a lily pad...either that or St. Patrick's Day decorations...  I wanted something outside the lily pad for our living room mantle...and something quick...and something that didn't require a supply run...  I'm very demanding.

So I raided my felt stash and 20 minutes later we have this festive little banner

This was crazy simple.  I used felt sheets because I didn't want to have to measure (one cannot be bothered to measure while watching important programming like the Oscars).  One sheet of each red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet provided more than enough length to swag on my mantle.

I cut each sheets into thirds (longways) using pinking shears, and then pinked the two additional straight edges

Then just ran them through the sewing machine, scrunching them to give a ruffle effect

After all of the pieces were joined and ruffled, I went back through a second time to scrunch it a little more.  The banner natually twists a bit and once I had it up, I helped the twisting along to add to the ruffling effect.

Quick, easy and festive!  My random western european Irish eyes are smilin :)


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