Friday, February 27, 2009

Fix-It Friday...

Time for another Fix-It Friday from i heart faces!

This is the original...And this is the one I tinkered with in Aperture...

I found the object in the front a bit distracting to I used the straighten function until it disappeared. The eyes were what I was wanting to show on this little cutie pie, so I think that the tilt and object removal also helped with that too. Plus who doesn't love a close up of a sweet baby face?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Paprika pork...

As promised from Menu Plan Monday...

That is the original recipe from my notebook...

But lately I have been making this in the crock pot. To make it crock-friendly I eliminate the oil and start by adding the sliced large onion, the sliced pork and the 1 1/2 tablespoons of paprika to the crock along with a splash of water. Then I cook it on high for 2 hours or until the pork is cooked thoroughly. Once the pork is cooked you can add the tablespoon of tomato paste and the 1/2 cup of sour cream, season to taste and cook for another 30 min. on high or until heated. My crock tends to run a little hot, so you may need more time. I find that it end up more tender cooked this way.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Teapot centerpiece...

This is what became of part of Lola's birthday centerpiece...

These gerbera daisies been living quite happily for the past two weeks in an extra teapot from our kitchen. The other two pots of daisies are also quite happy in their new homes on the kitchen counter and on my computer desk.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Organizing kids clothes...

Clearance season is here! 25¢ socks, 3.50$ p.j.'s, shirts and pants for 1.70 - 5.00$! Between Old Navy, Target and a couple of other fantastic sales, I have gathered up a nifty little shop-ahead wardrobe for my two kids. But I also got a huge storage issue. So then I got smart!
I stored those super cheap socks in resealable bags marked with the size and intended user...

And then stored the baggies of socks, along with the p.j.'s, winter hats (50¢ each), and shoes in the clear zippered bag that our comforters came in...

The hanging clothes posed the biggest problem, but after searching around for clothing dividers online, I decided that I could make my own, for free, and not blow all my savings on storage. So I explained to my personal graphic designer, aka the hubby, what I needed and he came up with these beauties. And since we already went to all the trouble of designing them, here is the template. You just need to mark your own sizes! We printed them out on cardboard (it was actually the cardboard backings that we've been saving from our packages of photo paper) and I carefully cut each one out...

Instead of trying to cram everything into the kid's closets I stored all of the hanging items and my clear zipper bag in the empty guest room closet...

So, this only means one thing, right? Now I can go shopping again!!!

Menu plan Monday and sloppy joes...

Monday: Paprika pork (recipe to come next week) with brown rice and green beans.

Tuesday: Photo shoot - kids are eating with grandma and papa and we are grabbing a quick dinner out (probably Applebee's Oriental chicken salad for me and a burger for my honey).

Wednesday: Leftover pork from Monday with egg noodles and steamed broccoli.

Thursday: Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce from the freezer and salad.

Friday: Errand day - take-out (probably Chicken Tortellini from Mangia's)

Saturday: Going shopping and getting sushi from our favorite sushi shop. That means that the kids will eat Kraft dinner and peas. Yay! Everybody's happy!

Sunday: Anna's Sloppy Joes (eat one, freeze one) and a fruit plate.

Anna's Sloppy Joes
This recipe comes from my husbands grandma. It is delicious and deliciously easy!

1 lb. hamburger
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery chopped

1/4 cup water
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 T. vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup ketchup

Cook meat with onions and celery.
Add sauce ingredients to meat mixture. Heat thoroughly.

Serve hot over hamburger buns or toast.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fix-it Friday...

Time for another Fix-It Friday from i heart faces! I heart fix-it Friday!

This is the original...

And this is the one I "fixed". The adjustments were done in Aperture and then I added a flare and a texture in Photoshop (okay, so the flair and texture might have been my husbands idea, but don't tell anyone).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homamade onion soup mix...

I stumbled across the Hillbilly Housewife's site not long ago, and I must say that Susanne has one of the best collections of frugal and homemade food items out of anywhere that I've ever been on the web. She has everything from beverage mixes to ideas on saving money in the kitchen to this easy and thrifty onion soup mix. I am officially addicted to this site and I can honestly say that it was love at first browse! You should check it out!

Homemade Onion Soup Mix
  • 3/4 cup dried minced onion
  • 1/3 cup beef bouillon powder
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed celery seed (I didn't have any so I left this out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

I just combined the ingredients right in a jar to cut down on the dishes. You know the deal; add, seal, shake and store. Easy peasy! 5 tablespoons of the mix equal one package of onion soup mix.

I can't wait to use this in my Cranberry Meatballs!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Taking the "slip" out of slippers...

I found this idea on the Mom Advice blog in a very old Amy's Notebook for making socks non-slip with puff paint. Right away I thought of Lola's slippers. We bought her these darling slippers a few months ago at Target and for some reason the darn things were not non-slip. She couldn't even take a step on our hardwood floors without wiping out in them.
I had some fabric paint on hand and it said 3-d so I figured it must be the same as puff paint...

So, I applied little dots of it all over the bottoms of her slippy slippers...

This was very easy to do, and the slippers are actually even cuter now than before... but the slip verdict? Well, I really, really wanted this to work, and she did have an easier time walking in them after I de-slippified them, but she was still slipping anytime she tried to do a quick maneuver or run above turtle speed. Maybe my puff paint just wasn't puffy enough. I guess we will still be using these slippers for car and stroller rides only!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Apple snacks...

These little apple cubes are a favorite afternoon snack in our house. They are very similar to those little jars of commercial baby apple cubes, but better. Because you made them. They are super easy if you make them in the crockpot, like I do. Ohhh, and they'll make your sticky toddler smell like apple pie till bath time!
To make them you'll need apples that don't go to mush when they've been cooked. I used empire, but I've used honeycrisp in the past and those work well too. I usually use 4-5 apples when I make these and they last my 2 babies about 2 days. This time I only had 3 apples, but since we are on fridge clean-out duty, I didn't run to get more.

Peel core and dice your apples into the appropriate sized pieces for your baby. Since my 12 month old is eating these, too, my 23 month old has to deal, and eat pieces that are a bit small for his liking. Plop them into the crockpot and season to your liking. I do 1 teaspoon brown sugar per apple and then I do a light, but even, sprinkle of cinnamon over the whole thing. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours, but start checking for desired doneness at the 2 hour mark. They need to be soft, but stay firm enough to be picked up with small fat fingers.

They'll look like this when they are ready and at this point you can cool them and store them in the refrigerator.But my kids never end up waiting that long. So they eat them warm...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday and cranberry meatballs...


This is my first attempt at Menu Plan Monday! I always try to plan my meals at least a couple days in advance, but I love the idea of planning out the whole week. I hope I can stick to it!

Monday: Pork Chops and Potatoes in Mustard Sauce (made in the crock-pot) with green beans

Tuesday: Savory Cranberry Meatballs (also in the crock-pot, scroll down for recipe) with brown rice. I'll be making enough meatballs in sauce that we can eat one portion tonight and freeze two portions for later.

Wednesday: Leftovers from Monday

Thursday: Stuffed bell peppers with peas for the kids and salad for mama and dada

Friday: Errand day - take-out

Saturday: Mixed baby shower and we are all going!

Sunday: I am planning on trying my hand at homemade mac and cheese! But I have yet to decide on a recipe, maybe I'll go super simple and try this FamilyFun recipe or go gourmet and try this Wondertime recipe. Any suggestions?

Savory Cranberry Meatballs
This is my son's favorite dinner and its super simple to make!

1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 packet onion soup mix
your favorite store bought or homemade meatballs

Combine first 3 ingredients in crock and add meatballs (this is usually enough sauce for 30-40 mini meatballs). You may need to add a bit of water to make it easier to stir. Crock-pot setting and cooking time will depend on if your meatballs are uncooked, cooked or frozen. I add my homemade meatballs right into the sauce uncooked and it usually takes about 8 hours on low. Frozen would probably be about the same, but cooked and thawed would be much shorter.
This sauce is also excellent with center cut pork chops or pork tenderloin. When I do either of those, I also plunk them into the sauce frozen and cook for around 8 hrs on low.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fix-It Friday...

This week I am taking part in the Fix-It Friday Challenge!

The is the original from their website...
And this is the version that I improved on in Aperture...

This is actually what I do on a daily basis since I am the photo editor/corrector of Greer Cicarelli Photography, and I am very surprised by the fact that when I was done it actually ended up looking like one of our photos!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A cupcake party for my cupcake...

We celebrated our baby's 1st birthday yesterday with a cupcake themed party. Pretty darn appropriated, since Lola is a lot like a cupcake. Small, sweet and just girly enough!
When I first decided on the theme I came across this recipe for chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream in Amy's Notebook on the Mom Advice blog. The recipe can be found over on the Farm Chicks blog. They were moist and chocolaty and they were a cinch to whip up.

The birthday girl completely approved...

To decorate the table we found these sweet cupcake gift boxes over at Target and filled them with white gerbera daisies from the grocery store...

We lined three of the arrangements up on the table and instead of setting it the traditional way, we put our knives in one mason jar and our forks in another in the middle of the table and stacked our plates with the napkins interspersed at the end. The silverware placement was more out of necessity than design, since we do have two little silverware thieves in our house, but the overall effect was cute and tidy...

Last, but not least, we embellished our own bibs with cupcakes made from felt. We purchased a package of inexpensive plain bibs and I cut out the design and had my husband sew them on for me. Sorry ladies, he's taken! Aren't they just too sweet for words...

Seriously yummy Greek dressing...

There are some very, very big fans of a good Greek salad in my family (especially my sweet little 16 year old niece), so when I was planning the menu for my daughter's 1st birthday, I knew I wanted to include Greek salad. But I wanted to make it better, and better to me means homemade. So homemade dressing it was! I got out a few recipes, played around in the kitchen for a bit, and came up with this version. Enjoy!

Greek Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
a few grinds of fresh cracked pepper

I combined everything in a jar, gave it a good shake and stowed it in the fridge until the party. Right before the party I made a tossed Greek salad by combining romaine lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber and crumbled feta in my giant wooden salad bowl along with the contents of my jar. I forgot about the olives. Next time I'll add some.

Memory game...

I originally posted this last week on my photo blog, but really thought that it was very appropriate for this blog as well, considering that it is handmade, and frugal and mostly recyced, and all that jazz...
I'm a bit of a blog junky and right before the holidays I came across this awesome memory game idea on the Mom Advice blog. Each Thursday, Amy over at Mom Advice, posts a list of links that go to really cool craft projects, recipes, money saving ideas and so much more in her notebook entries. And each Thursday I find myself wanting to do everything on the list. But this one I just had to do! And for once I had everything I needed to make this project already in the house. Now how often does that happen? A lot of what I used was leftovers from other craft projects with a few recycled materials added in. The cat fabric for the backing was actually my favorite pair of pyjama pants, that is, until I ripped them last week, and instead of making the drawstring bag to store the pieces in, we saved ourselves some time and stored them in the sweet little burlap sack that our basmati rice came in. The project was a little time consuming, but the hardest part for me was choosing photos that a) meant something to us, and b) I knew my children would be able to recognize. It was completely worth the time and effort, and now we have a game that will make every one of us smile every time we pull it out.

So seriously cute...

Milo is still a little young to play Memory, but he had so much fun looking at the tiny photos and saying the name of each item...

Who wouldn't have fun playing with a game that has them in it?