Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the first day..

..of winter break, the kids were hellions.

B has this habit of waking himself up REALLY early. And then staying up. He's done it as long as I've known him, which is not a good thing. But at least he's stopped waking E up super early...just kinda early.

Because of this habit of making himself tired before the day even begins, thus giving rise to the bully that is Big Brother (no, not the CBS or Orwellian kinds), I've been stressing a bit about what to do to keep the kids occupied during this first week.

Today, I made them come hang out with me and the babe so they could decorate some foam stockings my mom brought at Thanksgiving. They did pretty good for a while, as you can see.
And I don't want to hear anything about the pile of need to be folded towels on the couch behind them. I've been prepping crafts. Get over it.
After this, I sat them down to color their imaginations out onto plain white copy paper. More on the reasons for that tomorrow. I'm thinking we'll do the Scrap Fabric Wreaths on Monday/ stay tuned!
The Babe, during craft time. Mmm...purple plastic baby spoon...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is that you, Friday?

Is it really Friday already? That last glorious day of school before the long winter holiday?

It is.

But I don't really know what to say for a Friday Five. I feel boring.

At least I have a pretty tree to admire now...though it still has no ornaments. Hopefully I'll be able to remedy that with the kids tomorrow. We'll be attempting this idea, for which I have NOT read a tutorial, and so will hopefully be providing one.

If I can find where my construction paper has wandered off to, the kids and I will be making a paper garland to grace our front windows. And if I can find someone to baby wrangle, I might even get the lined curtains sewn and hung, giving a contrast to the color of the tree and paper garland and an added layer for those chilly breezes...that haven't been lingering. :)

Anyway. I'm going to see if I can keep my mind and heart wrapped around the serenity it seems to have been lulled into by a lazy afternoon spent trapped under a sweetly sleeping babe. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday.

How to make Oh Christmas Tree

Remember these?
Last night, I didn't really have time (ok, so less energy than anything) to put together a tutorial on how I made these little delights. As I said, they were inspired by these...but mine did NOT turn out like them. I still liked them, and boy were they tasty!

Tip #1:
Make certain you have EVERYTHING you need before you start. I discovered I didn't have a mini cupcake pan after I'd already mixed my batter. And also discovered I didn't have any food coloring until I'd already been to the store. Twice.

Ok, start with your mini cupcakes. I chose mini because I was making enough for two classes (50 total), and they were for a holiday party which would have other treats. I made a few big cupcakes, too with the leftover batter and they worked well with the decorations.

Tip #2:
I think it said in the inspiration tutorial that she put pudding mix in her batter just for that added oomph. Do that. It's awesome. I did have to add some milk (which was not called for in the regular cake mix) because the added dry powder made the batter too thick.

While your cupcakes are baking and cooling, scoop your icing into a mixing bowl. I used 1.5 cans of plain vanilla frosting, which was WAY more than I actually needed (I have enough batter leftover for at least 6 more big cupcakes, too). Now, I used what I had around the house to make the green for my cupcakes, which turned out to be a box of 4 colors of cooking writing icing tubes and a can of green icing with different icing tips. I squished all of the green, blue, and yellow writing icings into my frosting and then (after drawing the trees on T's cupcakes) squirted the entire can of green icing into the bowl of frosting. Using a spatula, mix until the color is smooth and even all over. I suppose you could mix less and leave the swirls for a snowy tree look, but I wanted smooth smooth smooth.
 Tip #3
Don't be a moron like me. Remember that the icing tips go INSIDE the bag and out through the hole, not the other way around. Trust me. Your life will be SO much easier for this.

I used the star tip (no clue what the real name is) to do a spiral of frosting on top of the cupcake. I found that it was easier to make a "tree" shape if I did a base of frosting and then started the spiral on top of that. Remember the cookie writing icing? There was a tube of red in that box that didn't make it into the green. I used that to do a quick spiral around the tree as the garland, starting at the bottom and ending at the very tip top. Nothing fancy, just a quick little decoration. **For the full 50+ cupcakes, I did need TWO tubes of the red, but if you can find a larger tube or just make your own red frosting and use a teeny tip you'll be good.**

The final decoration (which in my head during planning would look like snow) was to add some silver sprinkles all over the cupcakes. Just pour some in one palm and sprinkle a pinch at a time over a few cupcakes. I did this while the cupcakes were all lined up on that baking tray, which made the sprinkle cleanup SUPER easy!

Tip #4
If transporting mini cupcakes, a cake box is NOT enough. 3/4 of the cupcakes flipped, rolled, and smushed on the way from the dining room to the car and then to the kids' classrooms. Save your egg cartons and cut the lids off. Each egg "cup" will hold your mini cupcake well enough without them slipping and sliding and smushing all over.

Serve and enjoy!
 My cupcake baking helper...covered in chocolate milk

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Steaming Mug of Comfort

Look up at that header at the top of the page. Isn't it pretty? Why thank you.

I didn't take a single one of those photos myself. Not that I couldn't. It was just nice to look around at the beauty available at my fingertips on the web.

I emailed the lovely blog owner of that mug of pepperminty goodness, asking for permission to use her photo, offering to do a post thanking her for her kindness if she agreed. Last week, I received a short but oh so sweet yes you may! So here's my heartfelt thank you to Ms. Jessica for allowing me to use her photo.

Hot drinks are my weakness. They are my comfort, so much so that even just thinking of a Venti Triple Caramel Macchiato makes my shoulders relax and my eyes droop (That much caffeine and it makes me sleepy?! Yup..since I was a baby.) So when tasked with finding a picture of comfort, I knew just what I was looking for.

Ms. Jessica's post on Homemade Peppermint Hot Cocoa popped up in my google image search, and I was hooked. Now I just need to follow her post and make some. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the peppermint lattes (I don't like them with mocha) from Starbucks this time of year? Hint hint.

Now go check out the blog and share the love!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

What are these?
A whole forest of these! (Ahahahahah...I crack myself up)

Late last week, I received a call from the room mom for E's kindergarten class. She was looking for volunteers to help with the holiday party on the last day of school before break (TOMORROW!!!). Well, unfortunately, I couldn't guarantee that I'd have a babysitter. But I COULD give something to the class, like cupcakes. Then, on Monday while cooking dinner, I got a call from the class mom for B's class wondering if I could give something for their holiday party. "Well, I can do cupcakes." "Are you sure? That's a lot!" "Nah, I'm already doing some for E and it won't be much more for B's class."

So, being the over-ambitious person I am, I decided to do 50 mini cupcakes. I saw this tutorial online, purely by chance. Mine didn't turn all like hers. Haha...but who cares? They're nearly pure sugar (I know. I think I ate more frosting than made it onto the cupcakes) and they're cute enough for Kindergartners and First Graders.

Also, I had LOTS of leftover stuff, so I made some for T's shift at work. They're...well. You can see. But they're guys and they thought they were deliciously unexpected. Winning!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Are you ready?

For Christmas, I mean.
We aren't. Not even close.
No tree yet.
Nativity still packed in the attic.
I didn't think about the advent bandwagon until too late...I should remedy this for next year.
But I did get a gift this morning.

A good friend of mine, met through my dad at work, has a son that is 2 years older than D and a 6 month old daughter. She works and she LOVES her kids, and is a wonderful caring soul.

She knows our situation with money and clothes and everything, and to help (both us and her) she's been clearing out her son's closet as he grows and sending giant bags of designer clothes home to us. This morning was the latest installment.

10 prs of jeans from Children's Place, Oshgosh, etc.
4 or so prs of lounge pants, with a matching sweatshirt for one pair
1 Oshgosh winter coat
2 prs of mittens
a gazillion hats, including an awesome one with ear flaps!
and a pack of overnight diapers!

She's the awesomesauce. And she loves that I pay it forward by saving the clothes (and E's) for Sam's mommy (see this post to meet Sam).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Let the wackiness ensue!

This week was Spirit Week at the kids' school. Wednesday was Wacky Day.
B has an orange and blue striped polo turned backwards under his tshirt. And a fly down. :D
E came home a bit unhappy :( But her hot pink leggings were so cute. Made from an old shirt with stretch lace at the hems. 
D wanted to come wait for the bus, too. Like his Halloween shirt? :)

Friday Five

I just realized that today is Friday. Thank the Heavens above! Actually, today is like T's Tuesday with his work schedule, so that part stinks. But I maybe, just maybe, will have the chance to get some presents made while the big kids are at their mom's. Anyway, on to the getting to know me!

1. I was a vegetarian for a while, and would have no problems going back to it....if it weren't for meatball subs and bacon. Mmm...bacon.

2. My family used to have a reunion every year. We all had names that started with F, unless you weren't blood/marriage related. Then your name started with a Ph. Except me...I was F until I was 12 or 13 and decided I needed an actual name. So I became Sparkle.

3. One of my favorite books is The Dead Don't Dance by Charles Martin. It's so beautifully written, and so heartbreaking, but I love it all the same. It's written by a southerner and set in the south, and I have visited many of the areas where the book takes place, so it was even easier to picture. Be forewarned, it's a VERY difficult read if you have a hard time with familial loss.

4. Every year I buy, write, and even partially address Christmas cards to send out. And every year, I'm lucky to have half of them make it to the mailbox.

5. I hate hate hate rollercoasters because of the up part. It's the only time I'm afraid of heights...and it exacerbates my fear of falling. One exception is the Maus Trap ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, which goes up so fast that you don't have that clankclankclank as you climb ever so slowly.


I've been trying to post about Spirit Week at the kids' school for 2 days now, but Blogger won't let me post pictures. Why? No clue. Stay tuned and we'll see what I can make happen.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

BIB - Just because I can

I figured I would try to share a few more pictures of things I created Before I Blogged. And then (fingers crossed) it's naptime for the babe who's battling the tooth farmer.
 Plush Camera from this tutorial by seekatesew.
Hat for Baby Adam
Blanket for Baby Jordan
Emily modeling her dress and matching hat.
Horribly craptastic cell phone pic of a wrap shawl crocheted for my sister. I can't find the book I got this pattern from, but it is an amazing book. Architectural crochet?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm back in black! ( elephants, rather)

A few years ago, when I was still a little VERY delusional about my size in clothing, I bought an adorable Nick and Nora night shirt from Target. It was on sale, like one of their blink and it's gone because it's only pennies sales. That probably contributed to me buying a small when I haven't been a small since...middle school. But buy it I did, and love it I do.

Over Thanksgiving, my mom came home and cleaned out her closet and dresser, and lo and behold! There was my night shirt. She thoughtfully put it into the "turn into more clothes for E" pile currently taking over the dining room. The past few days I've been stuck in the doldrums, possibly because it seems there are more expenses than money coming in, and possibly because my little baby D has learned to climb. I'm thrilled that he's learning new things, and that he can get up and down himself (with the help of a two step stool) with the love seat. But with this new skill has come new clinginess, too. Which means no sewing or crafting for this mama. :(

And then...I rearranged the toys in the living room today. It's like a whole new play room for him! I got to sew! I wanted to make some shirt sleeve pajama pants for E using this shirt, but I also knew it would make an excellent shirt. The shirt won out...and while sad that she doesn't have any pants yet to match, I do love the shirt's new life.

PS - For anyone wondering why T hasn't been helping with the kids...he works third shift on the weekends with 10 hour shifts. So he pretty much gets up, goes to work, comes home and sleeps. Lather, rinse, repeat. Four days each week. The rest of the time, he's helping do anything my heart desires :)

Baby D fell asleep this afternoon halfway up his stairs onto the couch. Forgive the messy floor (he's a tornado) and the chipped toenail leg was partially holding him up. CUUUUTE!

Friday, December 2, 2011

BIB - A Crisis of Faith

Today, I'm not really sure why, but I'm having a crisis of faith in myself. I don't feel particularly good at being a mom, I don't feel good at crafting (it's been 2 weeks since I last sewed, since Baby D decided he was a climber), I don't feel good at...well, anything. I'm sure it'll pass soon enough, perhaps after I Tom Sawyer the kids into cleaning the living room tomorrow and have a clean area again. (*EDIT* Shortly after typing that I don't feel like a good mother, I apparently redeemed myself with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and popcorn/m&ms)

Anyway, in lieu of the Friday Five, I thought I would showcase some of the crafts I did before I blogged (BIB). I'm hoping that seeing these would kick me out of my slump. Check them out, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Oh, and I didn't make the child in these pictures, but she sure is cute!
Model Emily with her citrus slice dress.
Front cover of a wedding photo album/scrapbook for Sarah and Jansen
Purple hat with white snowflake for Baby Autumn.

Well that's enough for tonight. More to come later!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You know... live in the country when you see this blocking the road in front of the elementary school.
Yep. That's a turkey in the road.

Welcome to the country, folks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Helpful Driving Tip

Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, get a speeding ticket in South Carolina. Particularly Rock Hill.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful for Friends

My mom's best friend is just an amazing woman. I've known her since I was 2, and I couldn't be more grateful for her.

Her son was born with club feet and required a lot of braces and such to correct the problem. He also has several congenital health problems with his joints and bones, as does his mom. Her dad passed a few years ago from brain cancer. And yet, through everything, she has remained a rock for everyone around her. I remember getting myself into a sticky situation where the job I was working was with a company that was unable to pay promised paychecks. Susan was working for an attorney in an area of law I'd never had experience with. She convinced the attorney that I was the perfect fit for his need of an assistant. Problem solved WITH a raise and better benefits. While there, she spent every Saturday morning at her church helping with the food pantry. She borrowed her dad's truck to drive an hour into the country to bring food and warm clothing to a family that was in dire need of the help - she and her family stayed for nearly 5 hours helping around the house.

Lately, her health has been deteriorating along with her son's, making it impossible to maintain her job. I don't have a lot to spare, but I know that we've had a few random days smattered through that have been pretty chilly. So I decided to cheer her up with a new hat and a couple of scarves. See them below, and enjoy!

My FIRST Tutorial!

I'm a trainer. At...well, just about all but one of my jobs EVER I've trained people. There was one where I trained people in Turkey (I wasn't lucky enough to go there, but I did get my passport out of the deal). I like to think I'm good at what I do, and that I teach well. That said, if this makes no sense, feel free to ask questions. Oh, and I'll blame the quickly changing weather and the necessary drugs, too. :D

The kids have a new baby brother. Nope, not Baby D...he's old hat now. Their mom had Baby J back in August and things have been a little difficult. I remember the first 10 months of D's life when..well, no, I don't really remember them. I know I was so wrapped up in D that life was a fog. The kids suffered, though T was there with them the whole way. Finally, though, the fog lifted and I started focusing on the big kids more AND got crafty. That's where this (belated) Turkey Day tutorial comes in. This is more work for you, mom, than the kids, but if they're like mine, they'll love knowing that it's THEIR hands that are the reason and base for these shirts.

Start with a plain tshirt. This one came from the sale rack at Michael's.
 Using fabric paint, press your child's hands onto the shirt to make the bodies for turkeys. I used a spray fabric paint kit from Walmart. Then I used a new Sharpie Fabric Pen to write the message.
 Using a small angled brush with firm bristles, paint the legs and beaks in orange. This is also when I used the Sharpie to make a small eye on each bird, and the paintbrush to do the wattle (the hangdown piece on the beak) in red.
 Finally, I used the paints to do multi colored feathers, using the fingers as a guide. On these, you can still see the fingers showing through, especially on the right pinky finger. I think it looks cute that way!

Don't forget to heat set the paints with an iron and then let your kids enjoy the shirts! And check out the headdress B and I made for his celebration!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Five

Whew! I seem to have missed last Friday's questions. It has been pretty darn busy around here. My mom moved to Mississippi a month ago to take a contract position. Other than missing the kids, she's...well, let's put it this way: She lives 10 blocks from the beach on the Gulf and she has a job, two things that seem essential to her well-being. So she was heading home, here, this past Tuesday, and the house was a DIS-AS-TER. Pile on a little last minute Thanksgiving at home projects for two kids which included sewing an Indian headress and making handprint turkey Thanksgiving shirts. Throw in a dash of 14 month old sprouting 2 teeth with more making their move. Sprinkle a little broken toilet, microwave, and refrigerator on top and you have my life for the past month.

Thankfully (get it? Thanksgiving? Thankfully?) I finished the shirts and the headress with only one tiny hole in my forehead from a broken machine needle (stupid feathers!) and even managed to find an awesomesauce fridge on Craigslist! New microwave and the only thing left is now getting the toilet fixed once and for all! Whoo!

On to today. Here's the get to know me!

2 names you go by: Scootie, Wormbreath (this one goes back to my days of worming under my parents blanket in the mornings and breathing awful kid breath to wake them up)
2 things you are wearing right now: A wink and a smile? Ha! I'm a horrible winker...No, really...a blue hunting brand tshirt of T's and a pair of chinese doll bermuda pajama shorts.
2 things you want right now: A quiet and sleeping babe, unchapped lips :(
2 things you did last night: Enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner I prepared (my first! And it was delicious AND on time!), delivered the bigs to their mom for the rest of the weekend
2 things you ate today: Cajun Filet biscuit from Bojangle's (nope, I don't live in the South. Nope, nuh uh), blueberry muffintop cereal shared with Baby D
2 favorite drinks: Cherry Coke with an extra shot of cherry, Waffle House Coffee

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Turkey Day Tutorial

Thanksgiving is just a week away now and the kids have both had instructions for at home projects to be brought in to school. I LOVE the creativity, and the ideas I've had are abundant. Tonight, B and I are going to be making an Indian headdress, E will be finishing up her Handprint Turkey picture with construction paper.

And coming soon? The tutorial for the handprint turkey tshirts I'm making for the kids.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kids say the darnedest each other

Lately, B has been coming home from school in varying states of mind. First he just seemed really agitated, and when I questioned him, he broke down in tears and told me he was so worried about his friend "Jesse." Now, I'd never heard mention of this Jesse before now, but there are many of the kids in his grade that I don't really know. His reason for being so upset was that Jesse had hurt his neck and he was really sick. A few days later, he got off the bus struggling to hold back his tears. He'd gotten a bad behavior color for the day because he poked Jesse in the belly hard...and he cried because he said Jesse had gotten so skinny that he felt his spine when he poked him. Ooook...Finally, B was so excited yesterday when he got home because he said that Jesse was going to be ok since he'd gotten the bone replaced in his neck. Yay!

I needed to email his teacher about something else with his class so I figured I would ask her if she knew this kid and what was going on. Did I need to set a plate at dinner for B's new imaginary friend? She said she'd ask and investigate.

The story?
Jessie is a kid in another first grade class that B sees on the playground and at lunch. He'd been sick with strep and told B he had a broken neck!

Too funny!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Is there anything better

than getting to snuggle your sweet sleeping child in your arms? No matter how bad your day, stopping to enjoy those snuggles can make it all better.

Celebration Amid Sorrow

First, the bad news. I want to be able to end tonight on a happy note, so I'll start with the sorrow.

I mentioned just recently (last night?) that I have a pit bull. Rosie. Rosabelle. Rosy Belly. I should say had. T found her this morning when he got home from work. Wonderful man that he is, came in and let me know what happened before going back out into the cold morning to bury her properly, and all of that after working a 10 hour shift. She was just a beautiful, sweet, wonderful dog. The best introduction to pit bulls a person could ever ever ask for. Part of me feels very silly for the random sobs and tears throughout today, but I keep thinking about before there was T and she was the warm body sharing my bed. And after T, when she would snuggle with him in bed after I got up.

A few months after getting pregnant with D, when I really started to show, she wasn't allowed to be in the room at night, to get her used to not being in here (it's a small room, and D's crib would be in here as well as all of our stuff). And looking out at her area of the yard, as is my habit whenever I go in or out of the house, and seeing her cookpot sitting there so still and lonely. She did love playing soccer with that pot. :) So despite the silly feelings for being so completely distraught over the loss of my dog, I will continue to think of her often, and miss her like I would any of my children. Because that's what she was - one of my children.

Now for the celebration. Today, my big sister (ok, so she's my ONLY sister...and size-wise I'm the big sister) turned the big 3-5. I love to pick on her about getting old, but really I'm glad that we've both gotten older and (mostly) wiser. The 8 year age gap made it difficult to relate to each other very well for a long time, but now that we're "all growed up" we get along pretty well. I'm really proud of her for everything she's done with her life so far, and I really look forward to seeing her cakes selling...well, like hot cakes!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Five

I remembered! Not after I posted a long whine about dilapidated appliances, but hey...I've still got nearly 2.5 hours until Friday is over!


1. I originally went to college with the dream of becoming a forensic pathologist like Kay Scarpetta. Despite discovering I have a higher aptitude for history than biology, I still love medical and murder mysteries.

2. Pretzels, especially Utz brand big, hard, crunchy type, are one of my weaknesses. This week, my bags of pretzels have been my dinner more often than not.

3. I miss being pregnant. I see baby bumps all over the place these days, especially on the blogs I follow, and they make me so green with envy! If I won the lottery, I'd give Angelina Jolie a run for her money in the kids department!

4. One of my dreams is to visit Mt. Midoriyama in Japan and watch the Ninja Warrior games in person.

5. We watch Bizarre Foods almost every night before bed. It's become D's signal for when it's time to go to much that I DVR it to use for naptimes.

When it breaks, it pours

Earlier this year, our refrigerator died. I mean, I can't begrudge it for sputtering out. It did serve our family like a champ for nearly 20 years. But die it did. My parents decided that a mini fridge ($78 at Walmart, approx.) would be the best solution they could afford. Luckily, after a month, my sister offered an older, but still full size fridge for free. It was her sister-in-law's and they'd left it behind when they moved. Awesome! I could finally grocery shop for more than 1-2 days at a time!

She did great for a while. Our fruits and veggies stayed super cold, the mayo and cheese stayed un-green, and the milk lasted for it's full expiration without getting chunky. And then, she faltered. She tripped. She started to warm up. We thought at first that it might be because everyone had been cramming her full of left-overs and whatever else they felt needed her cool touch. So I cleaned her out, scrubbed her shelves, and only refilled what was still good AND necessary. I also turned the temperature gauge from a 5 (coldest) to a 3 (middle of the road). And HALLELUJAH! She was pretty chill in the morning.

First, I noticed the smell of slightly souring fruit. Then I noticed the not so cool feel of the lunchmeat when I'd go to prepare T's lunch for work. And then...the cheese. My beautiful, tasty cheese. I LOVE cheese. Ask my sister and she'll tell you the story about the time she babysat me and we sat together and ate the full lb. of Lorraine Swiss that Mom had bought for my lunches. She'll tell you that you can't leave a ball of fresh Mozzarella lying around or it won't be lying around for long. My cheese is something you just don't mess with. So I fiddled with the temperature control, and hoped for the best. At first, things got just the slightest bit cooler.

One night, about a week ago, Dad went to pop his customary bag of popcorn. Instead of the wonderful smell of popcorn and butter, he was greeted with the smell of burning plastic. Our trusty friend, the microwave, had artificially heated it's last bag of popcorn.

*insert voice of the late Billy Mays* But wait! There's more!

We have a gas cooktop. Like just about everything else in this house, it's 20 years old. And the left burner used to be the one I could always count on. It would light on the first try. It would get plenty hot enough, and it was the most even flame you could ask for. And just 2 days wouldn't light.


Tomorrow, D and I are having a date at Lowe's, to search for a new fridge. And then Walmart for a new microwave...and steel wool scrubber. Merry Thanksgiving to me?

*Edit: Today, D and I braved the already crazy holiday crowds at Walmart (seriously, has everyone forgotten that there are THREE holidays between Labor Day and Christmas?!) and bought a new microwave. Which has turned into D's second favorite toy, right behind Dad's ladder



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Crockpotty Goodness

T just started a new schedule with work, and it means that Thursday nights are my rough night with the kids. I have limited time to get their homework done, get them fed, get him fed, fix his lunch and Heaven help me if they need a bath! So my crock pot has become my best friend (or more of a best friend anyway). This past Thursday, I made a really beefy stew..and B was thrilled to not see all of the veggies I usually toss in there.

Today I made an awesome potato soup. Mmmm... So creamy and rich. I cooked the potatoes first in some of the Knorr chicken stock and water, along with whatever seasonings looked good in the cabinet. Yes, this is really how I cook. Then, later I added some chopped carrots and a couple of chunks of celery for flavor? color? Finish off with some cream, butter, and instant taters to thicken it all up, top it off with freshly cooked bacon bits and some chives and you have you a meal. We ate ours with th asparagus bread I made last night. Sounds gross? Actually, it turned out pretty tasty.

Anyway, here's a recipe that a good friend of mine shared with me. Her name is Cecile and she's an awesome French mom I met in an online mom's group I used to belong to. I've seen this recipe elsewhere with a few variations, but this is how we do it here.

Salsa Chicken
Chicken breasts (I usually use 4-5 large-ish breasts, so we can freeze and/or eat the next day)
2 jars of salsa verde (we use the Walmart house brand. Tasty and only $1.94/each!)
1 block cream cheese or neufchatel
1 large can of black beans, drained (rinse if you're worried about sodium, but we don't add any extra salt)
1 can of corn

Combine chicken, beans, and salsa in the crock pot and cook on low for 4-7 hours, depending on how many breasts you're using. Around an hour before serving, shred each chicken breast and add the cream cheese and corn, stirring well. When ready, EAT!

Serving suggestions
Burritos with rice, over rice, as a dip for chips, topping for nachos

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Six

I've seen over the past few days where people are doing a Friday Five, where they give you five things they want you to know about them. It could be just their plans for that day, or something about the way they wear their hair, anything.

Well, Baby D was being a fussy terror (thanks tooth farmer!) last night and I was unable to get to the laptop to post my first Friday Five. So, instead I'm going to make an attempt at the Saturday Six, just this once.

1. If I could choose a place for my family to move, it would either be somewhere in the UK (Wales?) or a nice small town in Canada.

2. I think of Mrs. G(ustafson) every time I sit down to sew. She taught my "Fashion Design" class in high school, and she taught me the proper way to go about things...even if I didn't/don't follow her rules. If it weren't for her, I'd have given up the first time I needed to get the bobbin thread up through the plate!

3. T and I have known each other since we were 9 and 11. We met when my family moved to town and opened a book store. Then we dated for about 3 weeks during senior year of high school, lost touch for 8 years and then he found me the day after my 25th birthday. I still maintain that it was the best birthday present I could have gotten.

4. I've had my passport for 3 years now, but it has yet to be used for anything beyond ID at a new job. I got it because my job at the time wanted to send me to Turkey for a year. Clearly I didn't get to go.

5. One of my favorite things to do is to hop in the car and drive. I'm talking, when you get that feeling where you want to be somewhere else (Florida? NY? Anywhere?) so you pack a bag, grab your keys and your phone and you drive. I miss doing those quickie trips now, but hopefully soon enough we'll be able to do some of those with the kids.

6. And...I was terrified of pit bulls until I rescued Rosie. Mom brought her home from GA during a family visit after rescuing her during a thunderstorm. She walked cautiously into the house, looked at all of us and immediately jumped into my lap and snuggled her nose into my neck. Sweetest. Dog. Ever.

There you go, your Saturday Six. Next week I'll try for the Friday Five, or maybe the Tuesday Two. Thursday Three? :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Is it really upcycling if the clothing you're reusing is being made smaller? Would that make it more of a downcycling?

Either way, here's a peek at the shirt I made for Miss E, who seems to be forever lacking in cute shirts to wear to school. My lovely sister unloaded what seemed like half her closet when I went for a visit last week, and I've been barely able to sleep for a week with all the possibilities swimming in my head.

Basically I did what all of the wonderful tutorials online do when using a large shirt and making it smaller. I did use some of the bits that I trimmed off the bottom of the shirt to make two pockets on the front. Ever since I made a quickie apron from a $.97 handkerchief for career day for E, I've been stuck on adding pockets to everything I make for her. This time, though, with D pulling on the table with the sewing machine (it's a full house, so it's actually a laptop table in the living room right now), I paid a little less attention than I should. Look closely and you can see that the pocket on the left is actually inside out with the serged hem from the shirt on the outside. Meh...character, I tell ya. Also, the shirt originally had smooth seams for the shoulders, being a Mossimo paper tee from Target. Well, I traced big, apparently, so it wound up with poofy shoulders. I happen to love them on her, so it worked out well for me!

Orange you glad I didn't say pumpkin?

Much like Katy over at No Big Dill, my favorite color is orange. It all started in 8th grade, during the last period of the day. I was in the advanced grade (I guess it's like AP for younger kids?) class, and one of the boys in my class found a skinny orange marker laying on the floor. It got tossed around the room and nobody seemed to like orange at all, and certainly not enough to keep the lonely marker. Until it wound up in my lap. I looked at it, and tried writing with it to see if it was even worth keeping. That lovely bright and exciting color just popped off the page! I loved it! Over the years, it spread from markers to crayons...and the inevitable jump to all things pumpkin. I'll blame Starbucks for the jump...mmm...Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. *drool*

As the weather has gotten colder, I have begun to think of pumpkin everything. As B has gotten less willing to eat his veggies (long story, but it involves hidden veggies and homemade penicillin), I've had to look into getting more creative with veggies. What better way to get his fruits and veggies, allow me to use more pumpkin, AND feed him and E quickly on the way to school in the morning? BREAD!

Tonight I used this recipe to make a pumpkin chocolate chip bread loaf and about 7 muffins (that's all I had left, not enough for another loaf). Of course, after I got home from Walmart this afternoon with the ingredients I conveniently emptied during dinner last night, I finally get everything squared away and start mixing...only to find that I have about 3/4 cup of brown sugar when the recipe calls for 1 1/2. What to do to get that much needed sweetness? Generic sugar substitute, of course (I can't remember if I bought it from Walmart or at my usual haunt, Harris Teeter)! No measuring for this girl..just dump some in! :)

I needed a toothpick to test the centers for doneness, so I stole borrowed one of the zombie hands from Dad's cupcake decorating kit. Then I thanked him for "giving me a hand" with my muffins. Hahahahahaha! I slay me! Anyway, after 2 muffins I think I can say that the recipe works and is pretty tasty and moist (gah, I'm NOT a fan of that word). Next time around I'm thinking of doing some oatmeal instead of the bittersweet chocolate chips, perhaps pressed lightly into the top of the loaf before baking?

What would you do? What is your favorite way to get more veggies into your kids? Do you have any stories of your kids doing rotten things with foods they don't want to eat?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just Get Baked

I thought it shoulda been "Half Baked," but then it might make people think of uncooked batter instead of the movie.

That's right, I'm talking my sister's cake business. Based out of the Charlotte, NC area, Kyrie (pronounced KAI-ree) began crafting and sculpting cakes as a hobby, to prove to herself she could do it. The first taste of her cakes I got was when I sold her the wedding cake for one of my friends (now THAT'S confidence in her abilities!).

The cake was to be my wedding gift, mostly because I'd just brought T and his kids into my home and then lost my I was broke. The cost of materials for the cake and the free advertising seemed like a good deal. And it was! It turned out so lovely, with simple tiers and purple butterfly and musical notes (bride and groom symbols) accentuating the fondant. And oh, was it tasty! The bride's mom sent home nearly a full tier with us and every time I went to the kitchen I grabbed a teensy got to be so I was coming up with excuses to go to the kitchen, such as "I need some ice in my glass that I just filled with ice" or "I want some...*walk quickly from the room*."

She also made the birthday cakes for the kids' birthdays
and my baby shower cakes.
*Shelby swears she was yawning...I'm not so sure it wasn't awe at the shoe!
I hear she is working on getting the Facebook page going for the cakes, too, which should include a portfolio of her work. As soon as I get the link, it's yours!