Thursday, March 29, 2012

Turning the Big 2-6!

It's my birthday today! And I turned 26! Now...I know 26 isn't a major milestone birthday, but it kinda is to me because it means I am closer to 30 than 20! It's OK though, I don't have a weird complex about getting older. If anything, I feel like my birthdays get better with each passing year.

Highlights from my 26th birthday:

-Free breakfast at Denny's with my husband and kids.
 (funny story: my husband and I used to get up super early and meet for breakfast at Denny's while we were dating. I'm talking super 5am, before our classes started. Ah..young love!)

-Doing a little Goodwill shopping and scoring a brand new Ikea poster frame for $.99.

-Lunch with my parents and the kids.

-Getting a night out with my girlfriends (no kids allowed!) to just talk, laugh, and enjoy each other's company.

-Oh...and cheesecake. Nuff said.

I had an AWESOME day! Thank you to everyone who made it special for me;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grilled Cheese Challenge #1: The Sergeant Pepper

*First off I have a wonderful announcement! (No...I'm not pregnant...that's not even funny 4 months after having a baby.)

My husband got me a new Canon Rebel for my birthday!!!

...and yes, that deserved a large font. It was a total surprise and I am in love folks. True love.

I will be selling my old Rebel to a good home and it's onward with HD pictures and video baby! I need to learn a LOT more about photography too now that I have a camera that is the shizz.

Now back to our scheduled blog post:

Hands down, grilled cheese is my favorite food of all time. Um, cheese and carbs? Yes please! So, it was only natural that when I found The Grilled Cheese Academy, I had to take it upon myself to try each of their 30 grilled cheese varieties. So, each weekend I will be trying a new sandwich and sharing it here!

Grilled Cheese #1:

The Sergeant Pepper
(sandwich recipe found HERE and onion ring recipe found HERE)








1/2 c MILK

1/2 c WATER


1 tsp SALT

1 tsp PEPPER

2 tbsp OLIVE OIL

VEGETABLE OIL for frying

STEP 1: Mix together flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix together milk and egg. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture and add 1/2 c water to make a batter for the onion rings.

STEP 2: Slice onion and separate rings. Dip in batter and then roll in bread crumbs. Fry in vegetable oil (over med-high heat) until brown and crispy). Drain on paper towel.

STEP 3: Brush olive oil on outsides of bread and then on the inside, layer pepper jack cheese, onion rings, cheddar cheese, and then other slice of bread on top. Grill and brown both sides.

If you read the original recipe you see that the onion ring recipe is different and it also calls for cauliflower on the sandwich. I omitted the cauliflower and found another onion ring  recipe online that sounded more appetizing. You could also cut out a lot of work by just putting on some already made onion rings from the frozen food section.

Week 1 of the grilled cheese challenge was a success! I hope the next one tastes just as good;)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy Sunday

We had a random rainy day today and when it rains go outside and play in it!

So play we did.

This girl jumped in puddles until her rainboots were rendered useless.

Hope you had a lovely Sunday.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Smores on a Stick!

Yes, the title of this post needed an exclamation point. Smores are a favorite in our house, but we rarely take the time to light a fire and make them the good old fashioned way.

I actually had all the traditional smores ingredients in my pantry, but my eye also glanced over to the some left over lollipop sticks and I decided I need to try and make a classy smore...on a stick.


1 package large MARSHMELLOWS




STEP 1: Insert lollipop sticks into bottom of marshmallows and press through until they almost comes out the top.

STEP 2: Melt almond bark per package directions. You need about a cup of melted chocolate. Add about a tsp of vegetable oil to thin if needed.

STEP 3: Crush up graham crackers and place in bowl.

STEP 4: Dip marshmallow's into melted chocolate. Tap on side of the to get excess chocolate off and then roll in graham cracker pieces. Place in cup to stand up while the chocolate hardens.

STEP 5: Repeat with rest of marshmallows and place them all in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to allow chocolate to completely harden. Then they can be kept out at room temperature.

I also half dipped some and I think they are pretty cute too.

These are so good and really do have the smores taste!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Red Hair!...for now:)

I needed a change this week. A combination of my husband working 13 hour days and me staying in my workout clothes all most of the day just left me in a funk.

A mom funk.

Ever been in one of those? They aren't fun.

So, I dressed both kids (and myself), threw us into the car and headed off to get my hair trimmed. It was a wild day for me. I got my hair cut (WITHOUT a coupon! What? I know.), the stylist talked me into a $12 bottle shampoo (post baby hair loss is just cruel), and then I went to Walmart to get myself a new color o' hair.

I know, calm down, right?

One hour later I just felt better. It's amazing what a trim and a new hairstyle can do for your confidence!

I'm kind of in love with my new color. I never dye my hair with permanent color so by the time I'm over this, my natural color will be back, which is fine, cause I love my natural color too.

Being a redhead is fun right now;) It makes me wanna try new color combinations for my clothes too so hopefully no more yoga pants and old maternity shirts that I work out in. Hooray!

Do you take risks with you hair?

Happy Wednesday!

PS- This color is Garnier's Herbashine Medium Auburn. I have medium brown hair and the color came out pretty dark (not as bright as the box said).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crackers

I love salty sweet combinations, so naturally peanut butter and chocolate are probably my favorite. Peanut butter M & Ms are not allowed in this house...seriously.

These are a fun cookie to make that combine salty, sweet, and carbs. Now how could they be bad??


1 box SNACK CRACKERS (I used Ritz)



STEP 1: Spread peanut butter on inside of one cracker and put another cracker on top. Press down until peanut butter comes to the edges.

STEP 2: Melt some almond bark in the microwave per package instructions. Thin it out with a little vegetable oil if needed.

STEP 3: Dip crackers in melted almond bark and let harden on wax paper.

I had some left over white chocolate melts from the oreo pops I made, so I also melted that and drizzled it over the top.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rapunzel Birthday Party!

This last weekend was AWESOME. My baby girl turned the big "4" and I still can't believe it.

We had a great time with friends and it was an awesome day to celebrate our princess!

I had to take advantage of our two story condo and put a long braid out the window to let our guests know where the party was!

I took two plastic tablecloths and cut them into three strips each and braided them into two long braids and then taped those braids together.

Sweets table:

I made a long braid out of some yellow yarn that I had and shaped it into an "S". I covered a piece of foam board with tissue paper and hot glued the braid onto it.

I found Rapunzel plates still in the packaging at the thrift store for $.50. I then layered them with plain pink plates.

Vanilla vanilla cupcakes in pink, yellow, and purple wrappers:

The glitter "4" candle was from Walmart and the cupcake wrappers are from Joann but I have seen them at Michael's and Walmart as well.

Handmade paper lanterns and sun bunting:

Rapunzel "hair" all over the ceiling:

Tissue paper flowers and M & Ms in candlestick serving daughter's favorite!

I covered water bottles with pink and purple cardstock. I put some heart stickers on the tops of each lid too. Also, put out some more pascal party blowers for the kids...they were a big hit!

A while back a close friend gave me a recipe for an Italian cookie from her family. They are twisted so I thought they would be cute to go along with our theme!

All in all, we had an amazing day. My little girl was so excited about everything and that made it all worth it. I tried to just use what I had around the house already to help with my decorations. The vases for the tissue paper flowers were already on display in my living room. The gold platter for the cookies was a recent vintage find, the blue cups for the cutlery were in my cabinet, and the cake pop stand was a serving tray I've had for a while.

Her birthday parties get more and more fun each year she gets older!

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Sugar and Dots

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fried Ravioli

Want a different take on traditional ravioli? Then bread it and fry it up!




1 tbsp MILK



STEP 1: Pour vegetable oil into deep skillet and warm on medium high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together egg and milk. Pour bread crumbs into separate bowl.

STEP 2: Dip raviolis into egg and then coat in bread crumbs. Place all on a plate.

STEP 3: Place each ravioli into the warm oil with tongs. BE CAREFUL WHEN USING HOT OIL!. Let the raviolis cook on either side for about 30 seconds or until golden brown. Place on paper towel to let drain and serve with hot marinara sauce.

Smaller fried raviolis would also make a great appetizer on a larger plate with some marinara sauce in the middle.

Happy Tuesday!

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Monday, March 5, 2012

How to Survive Monday

Anyone else kinda dread Mondays? Normally I don't, but my husband has been working super long days for the last couple of weeks and so, Mondays have started to become a little bittersweet.

Today I packed up the kids and we went to the park to take a walk, eat lunch, and play.

It was a great way to spend the afternoon and it made me very grateful for our wonderful weather and the fact that I get to stay home with my kids. It's what I always wanted to getting to live out my dream job is pretty awesome.

Plus, baby boy can now fit into the motorcycle onesie I made so long ago and it makes me pretty darn happy.

Do you dread Mondays too? What are some fun activities you like to do with your kiddos? I'm up for any suggestions!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

$1 Cake Pop Stand

I made Oreo pops for my daughter's party...and then somehow forgot that I needed a place to put them! I looked into cake pop stands I could have a lot more fun at Goodwill with that kind of money.

Then I priced styrofoam at the craft store.

No, again.

So, I turned to my trusty friend, foam board. It never lets me down.

Want the tute? Here we go!


1 piece of FOAM BOARD
(I get mine at the dollar store)

1-2 sheets of TISSUE PAPER

(slightly smaller in diameter than your pop sticks)

SERVING DISH (or ribbon)

STEP 1: Take a serving dish of your choice and trace the bottom of it onto foam board. Basically you want the same shape as the inner center so the foam board can sit inside the serving dish.

STEP 2: Cut out two pieces of foam board and hot glue them together.

STEP 3: Cover the board with tissue paper.

STEP 4: Either place covered board in serving dish (keep in place with a few pieces of tape on the bottom), or cover the edge with a thick ribbon and sit on the table as is.

STEP 5: Take screwdriver and poke holes where you want the pops to go. I did this right before serving so I would know how far apart to space each hole.

That's it! You could also make this thicker by adding more layers of foam. Two layers is the minimum to make the pops stand and not fall over. You could also use fabric instead of tissue paper, you might just need something sharper than a screwdriver to make the holes.

OK, time to go make more treats that stand up!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cake Pop Challenged? Make Oreo Pops!

I think I might be the only person in blogland that can't make a cake pop. The whole process normally leaves me in tears, or cursing...or both. It's not the cake part that normally gets's the dipping. I can never get the candy melts the right consistency and so I have avoided the issue all together. Each time I pass the little candy melts in the craft store I feel like they are mocking me.

That ends today.

I decided I was going to learn this whole "dipping things in pretty colored candy" thing.

I decided to start out with Oreos...cause at least if the whole project turned into a disaster, then I could eat the Oreos while I cried...and cursed. Win win for me.

But I did it! I conquered the task, and yes, I am being way overly dramatic about it!

Wanna make Oreo pops too? Let's go!


(It's important to buy the double stuffed so the sucker stick will fit in the middle)


1 pkg sucker STICKS


STEP 1: Insert sucker sticks into the center of each Oreo. I pushed them up until I could just about feel them poke out the top of the cream. Put in refrigerator while melting the candy.

STEP 2: Pour 1/2 bag of candy melts into microwaveable bowl. (I used a glass measuring cup) and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. It only took two times in my microwave.

STEP 3: While candy are still hot, mix in 2 tsp-1tbsp vegetable oil until desired consistency. Don't add more than 1 tbsp of oil or the candy will taste oily.

STEP 4: Take Oreos out of the fridge and dip them into the candy. I found it was easiest by coating one side completely and then turning to coat the other side. Lay down on wax paper and add sprinkles one side.

STEP 5: Place in freezer for 5-10 minutes or until candy has set.

Um...then eat.

Now that I have dipping confidence...I'm going to give cake pops another go!

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rapunzel Party: Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes

I decided to make cupcakes from scratch for my daughter's party this year. I have never done this I read a lot online and decided to go with reliable Martha Stewart for my recipes and go with a classic vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting.




3/4 tsp SALT

1 1/2 sticks softened UNSALTED BUTTER

1 1/2 cups SUGAR

4 large EGGS


1 1/4 cups MILK

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to medium. Mix in 3 batches of flour mixture, alternating with 2 batches of milk. Raise speed to medium-high; mix until thoroughly blended, 10 to 20 seconds.

STEP 2: Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Let cool in tin on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tin; let cool completely. Line tin with muffin cups; repeat process with remaining batter.


I cut the original recipe in half and still had enough to frost 24 cupcakes with a #12 circle tip.

2 stick softened UNSALTED BUTTER



1 pinch of SALT

STEP 1: Put butter in bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium; add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well, about 5 minutes total. Add vanilla and salt. Raise speed to medium-high; beat until smooth, about 1 minute more.

STEP 2: Fill icing bag with choice of decorator tip and icing and frost cupcake in a spiral motion, starting at the outer edge and working your way into the center to create a point.
(Note: If you use a larger tip than I may need to make more icing to be able to frost 24 cupcakes.)

I didn't have time to make royal icing flowers for the silk flowers to the rescue! Ha! I "blinged" them up by adding little rhinestones to the centers.

The End

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