Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Decorations

Today I thought I'd share all the little chachkies I have put in my bay window of the breakfast nook in my kitchen. My kids love it that I decorate for each holiday. I have to admit putting stuff up cheers me up and my husband seems to like it too.  It is especially nice during those long days of winter when it seems spring will never get here. Of course we had a very mild winter this year, so I can't complain.

Dollar Tree and the Target dollar spot are two of my favorite places to check for fun finds.  In the pictures below, you'll see some little plastic bunnies, chicks, and lady bugs in the pictures.  I purchased them at Dollar Tree.  They sell out usually within the first day the get them at the store, so I had to stalk my local Dollar Tree to get them.  They are solar powered and as soon as the sun is up they start dancing.  They are hilarious and everyone who has come by loves to see them.  I have a total of eight different ones in the window, so with them all bobbing along they sound like clocks ticking.  They actually make quite a bit of noise.  At the end of the day when they stop is when I realize how much noise they make.  But the sound doesn't bother me. 

The other items in the picture are my little frog planters and my chick planter.  These I found in the Target dollar spot.  They were a little kit and the frogs came with dirt and grass seeds and the chick came with dirt and flower seeds. I was skeptical about whether they would grow, but within about 3 days I had little sprouts coming up.  The grass looks so funny, like green hairs sticking up on the frog. 

I have loved seeing these shoots come up and it makes me wish my window sills were a little wider so I could do herbs.  I guess I could try tiny pots of them, but I'm sure I'd have to soon replant them.

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trader Joe's Pot Sticker Review

Things have been so busy here that planning meals has been a bit challenging. So I've had to find a few quick and easy things to throw in a few nights a week.  On Monday I had a chance to drive out to the Trader Joe's that is about an hour away and pick up some things.  One thing I noticed is that they sell pot stickers.  We have had pot stickers before, but usually it is in a pack with a sauce and you heat and unthaw the sauce.

So I decided to give the Trader Joe's pot stickers a try. My husband really likes pot stickers too, so I knew he would want to try them. The one thing that left me scratching my head was that the pot stickers didn't come with any dipping sauce.  So I asked an associate if they sold a bottle of dipping sauce and he directed me to an aisle where they sell a number of different sauces.  He suggested the Gyoza sauce that you'll see pictured below. So I bought that, as well as the Soyaki sauce.  From reading the ingredients on the bottle of Soyaki, I knew it sounded like something my husband would like.  It is reminds me of a sauce they use at a Japanese restaurant nearby where we get take out sometimes. 

If you've never had pot stickers, they are little dumplings that are filled with different ingredients.  They can have chicken, pork, shellfish, etc.  The Trader Joe pot stickers had chicken and vegetables.  My husband has a shellfish allergy, so I can never get the seafood kind.  Such a bummer because he grew up loving shellfish and I love it too. 

To cook the pot stickers you brown them for a minute in a hot pan with oil. Then you add 3 tablespoons of water and cover them and have the stove set on low.  They steam cook.  For whipping something up quickly on a weeknight, they are really easy.  I usually make rice and serve them on top. 

We really enjoyed these pots tickers from Trader Joe's and I'll get them again.  The two sauces were good, but different from the sauces I've had with pot stickers in the past.   These sauces are a garlic, ginger, terriyaki type of base.  The sauces I've usually had with pot stickers have had a sweeter taste.  I think these two sauces could be really great if you wanted to add them to meat and have a very different type of hamburger. You could get that terriyaki burger flavor. 

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fashion Star

So last night was the second episode of a new tv show on NBC called Fashion Star.  It airs right after The Biggest Loser.  Have you been watching?  I have and I have to say I'm hooked.  In case you haven't watched it, the premise for the show is they have a bunch of different designers who make three different looks every week.  During the week as they are designing, the designers are being mentored by Nicole Ritchie, Jessica Simpson, and John Varvaots.  The show is being hosted by supermodel Elle Macpherson.  I think she is a fabulous host and I'm enjoying her a lot on the show. 

Once the designers have their creations ready, they have a runway show which is what you see when they air. There are three buyers from Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and H&M and the three buyers can all bid on the collections.  Only one store can carry the collections.  And the buyers can get into a bidding war.  For those designers who don't get a collection purchased, they are up for elimination that night.

As soon as the show airs, you can go online and purchase the outfits that the buyers purchase, or you can go to Macys, Saks, and H&M today and purchase them.  Last night I saw one collection of dresses I really liked that was purchased by Macy's.  I want to check them out because I'm interested to see how much they are selling for through Macy's.

I'm hoping as the weeks go on they will get more versatile and make things other than dresses and wide legged pants which seems to be the trend for the last two weeks.  If you haven't been watching, it isn't too late to jump in and catch up because each week is different. Of course they will have whittled away and some contestants will already have been taken off the show. 

Are you watching Fashion Star?  I'd love to set up a chat group of some sort to discuss this show with others to see what you are thinking of the fashions and as the weeks progress, do you have a favorite designer.  If you are interested, leave me a comment and I'll let you know if I get something set up. 

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Menu

We are so excited that St. Patrick's Day is on a Saturday this year.  I decided I wanted to do a family party and have our family come over to celebrate.  So we've decorated the house (I'll share those in another post) and I've been menu planning.

I have to admit I'm not really a big fan of  a lot of the traditional Irish recipes I've seen.  So our menu is going to be very loosely based on Irish recipes and some are not Irish at all, they are green and fit the theme that way.  I thought I would share three of those recipes today so you could try them too.

The first is a recipe I shared in a previous post. I believe I shared it around last St. Patty's Day.  The recipe is from Pampered Chef and it is a Reuben Ring.  It is a rich recipe and for our party, I'm planning on making two of these to feed our crowd. 

Reuben Ring
8 oz sliced deli corned beef, chopped

1 can (8oz) sauerkraut, drained and squeezed dry

1 1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded Swiss Cheese, divided

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 egg white, lightly beaten

2 can of Crescent Rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In Classic Batter Bowl, combine corned beef, sauerkraut, 1 cup of the cheese, dressing, parsley and garlic; mix well.
Take the crescent rolls out of the can and put the large ends of the crescent roll triangles so that they are side by side making them into a ring/circle. After you've done this, then do the next step in the recipe.

Scoop filling evenly over desired shape. Once you scoop filling onto the larger part of the triangle, take the small end and pull it up over the filling. If you have a little excess at the small point of the triangle you can tuck it in. Go around the whole ring and finish shape as directed. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown

Yield: 8 servings

When I make this I usually don't put in the parsley and garlic and it still tastes great.

The second recipe I'm sharing today is a new one I've recently discovered. My sister gave me a cook book for Christmas that was published by her MOPS group.  This recipe fits our green theme.

Broccoli Casserole

2 pkgs. frozen broccoli florets
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 c. sour cream
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can french fried onions.

Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well.  In a bowl, combine soup and sour cream.  Mix in broccoli. Stir in 1 cup of shredded cheese and 1 cup of the fried onions.  Place ix a 9X13 greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and fried onions. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes.

*Note: when I made this I used fresh broccoli and just cooked it down and substituted for the frozen broccoli.

The last recipe is one I've shared that I usually do for Christmas Brunch.  It is a hash brown casserole.  My brother in law loves this recipe, so I'm making it for this party since he will be there.

Hash brown Potato Casserole
2 lbs. frozen hash browns, Southern style (thawed)1 stick melted butter1 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. pepper1 can cream of chicken soup1 pt. sour cream1/2 c. chopped onions10 oz. pkg. shredded cheddar cheese
TOPPING:1 c. crushed corn flakes3 tbsp. melted butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients. Arrange in baking dish, 9 x 13 inches. Sprinkle with corn flakes. Top with butter. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
So are you planning on celebrating St. Patty's Day?  Are you cooking, or going to a party?

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Clorox Recipes for Fun Website

Today we are getting down and dirty here on the blog.  And it has been so much fun!  The folks at SocialMoms and Clorox approached me to learn and share about a new website Clorox has developed called Clorox Clean-Up Recipes for Fun.  I knew this was something my boys would love, so I agreed to do a review.  

Through the Clorox Clean-Up Recipes for Fun website, you can find different recipes for having fun with your kids in a variety of categories including: Wacky Science, Arts and Crafts, Kiddie Cooking, and Creative Cooking.  I’ve enjoyed looking at the different submissions in the various categories.  Sometimes it is hard to get inspiration, so this website is a great way to do just that and find some great activities your kids will love.  And the projects are for a wide age range of kids.  I was amazed at some of the Wacky Science ideas. 

The other exciting part of the Clorox Clean-Up Recipes for Fun website is that they are having an Ultimate Mess Party contest.  Just by registering, you’ll receive one sweepstakes entry into the grand prize for a chance to win $10,000 toward an Ultimate Mess Party.  With $10,000, you and your family could get everything you need to enjoy the wettest, sudsiest, paintiest, muddiest party of all time.  From a colossal cooking party, to a monumental mud volleyball party, you choose the mess and let Clorox® Clean-Up® Cleaner do the rest.
 I decided my boys would have a lot of fun by participating in the Arts and Crafts category.  Although when you see our project, it does get into the creative cooking as well.
So to give you some background on how I came up with our project, I decided I wanted to do something geared towards St. Patrick’s Day.  We are very excited about St. Patrick’s Day coming up.  We are having a family party and so I’ve put up a lot of decorations and I’ve been talking about shamrocks with the boys.  I thought it would be fun to let them get messy and have some fun finger painting. 

First, I pulled out a box of pistachio pudding and that was mixed up and put in the fridge.  While that was setting, I then grabbed two pieces of parchment paper. I used foam shamrocks to trace shamrock shapes onto the parchment paper.  Once the pistachio pudding set, we then put some in the middle of the shamrocks and the boys went to town finger painting.  The great thing about this is if they put pudding fingers in their mouths, it is ok. Another way I’d suggest doing this recipe is to use cool whip and color it with green food coloring.  The boys had a lot of fun and there were squeals of delight as they got to squish the pudding paint on their papers. This sensory experience was so much fun. 
Here are some pictures of our fun mess. 

Be sure to go visit the Clorox  Clean-Up Recipes for Fun website.  And be sure to "Like" Clorox on Facebook to stay up to date with all their announcements.    

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

"I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Clorox Clean-Up Recipes for Fun blogging program for 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information this program,click here and see the Terms link."

Friday, March 9, 2012

I Dream of the Sea

Pinterest. Polyvore.  Two "p" places that I'm loving right now.  If you have no clue about Polyvore, you need to check it out. If you go on Pinterest and you see all these great outfits that are complete looks, more than likely folks may have created them on the Polyvore website.

I Polyvore by doing some digging via Pinterest. This week I got a chance one day to play around and make up my own look and I wanted to share it with you today.
I Dream of the Sea

Old navy t shirt
$16 -

Old Navy zipper pants
$35 -

white jean jacket at Target
$20 -

TOMS espadrille flat
£37 -

Street Level striped tote
$36 -

Forever 21 earrings
$1.50 -

Forever 21 cable chain necklace
$1.50 -

Essie nail polish
$8 -

These are all things I would wear in a heart beat.  I wanted to create a look that was affordable and achievable.  Some of these things I didn't even know existed until I started creating this look.

I love a nautical look. I think it is a classic look.  And since pops of color are so big right now, that is why I chose the red pants.  And I am on the hunt for that white jean jacket at Old Navy. I have a denim one from the last year, but I love the idea that the white could go with everything. 

And I love those Tom's espadrille flats.  The stripe is too cute! I just got my first pair of Tom's last summer.  If you haven't discovered Tom's yet, check them out. They are a very philanthropic company. For every pair of shoes purchased, they give a pair to a child in need.  Pretty cool, huh?

Do you like the nautical look? What fashion trend do you like the most right?

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crayola Party

The folks at MyBlogSpark sent me some information on a chat taking place tonight that you might want to attend.  The information below is on the chat and the author.  I personally am not familiar with this author, but I wanted to pass along this information for you to check out.

"The first 'Inside the Crayon Box' live chat is Wednesday, March 7 at 9 p.m. EST. Join Crayola and musician, children´s author and mom, Lisa Loeb for a 45-minute live streaming video chat on the Crayola Facebook Page. Lisa, best-known for her number one hit "Stay (I Missed You)," will share  personal stories, practical advice and ways she brings a little creative play into every day for her daughter. We want to hear from you - participants can ask Lisa questions during the event, too!

Interested in the topics to be covered during the chat?

Why Does Creativity Matter? Creativity is not about who´s the best artists or becoming an architect. It´s a way of thinking that encourages kids´ original ideas and develops their confidence.
  • Growing Up Creative. Lisa will share stories about growing up in a home where creativity was encouraged.
  • Simple Tips. Easy Ideas. Like most moms, Lisa juggles a lot. She´ll share simple, easy ways she sparks her daughter´s creativity as part of their daily routine.

You can also check out Lisa's book Lisa Loeb's Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs (Sterling Children's Books, 2011) available at Barnes & Noble and Sing, laugh, and play with pop Lisa in this fabulous collection of ten of the silliest songs ever.  Fun activities, games, and recipes accompany whimsical songs. Take Lisa's Silly Sing-Along with you wherever you go and get the high-spirited good times started. Includes a 10-song CD recorded by Lisa!"

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Nail Art

Today I wanted to share some pictures from a board I've created on Pinterest called "Nail Art". I was inspired by so many great pins people have been putting out of the nail art they create.  I've also loved seeing some of the different colors available for different polish lines.

I am just amazed and totally intimidated at how people are able to do things like this. I wanted to give a shout out to the Emerald Sparkled Blog blog who pinned this on Pinterest.  I love the color combinations put together.  These look so great for fall/winter.

When I saw this design I was blown away.  I can't imagine how small a brush you must have to use to get each of those small circles.  I feel like this gives an almost animal print feel.  This could be fun for spring with the pink, yellow, and blue circles.

I have not had the chance to use Essie polish, but I am on the hunt for this polish. The color is called Turks and Cacaos and I saw it in the store last week. I'm kicking myself for not picking up a bottle when I saw it.  I feel like this picture doesn't do it justice. It is a beautiful color that would be perfect for spring and summer.

This beautiful design was pinned by the Let them have Polish! blog.  I love the designs. They remind me of a beautiful design you'd see on stationary or some wall paper. 

This beautiful pink was one I just had to share. I think a simple pink can be so elegant and this OPI color fits the bill.  It is called Mod About You and was pinned by the Haus of Polish blog. 

So what brands and colors of polish do you like and are you wearing these days?  By the way, come follow me on Pinterest by using the button at the top right of my blog.  I'll be adding more to my Nail Art board, as well as the other boards I've created. 

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!