Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring/Summer Blocks

I love these blocks!  They were supper simple and inexpensive to make.  Plus they are reversible saying "SPRING" on one side and "SUMMER" on the other, so it makes for less storage space...which I always like.



So here is how to make them.

  6 blocks of wood in varying sizes*
       (3x 6in, 1x 7.5in, and 2x 8.5in)
  13 bottles of Acrylic paint* (6 spring colors, 6 summer colors, and white)
  Stenciled Lettering*
  Sponge Paint brushes
  Scissors & Tape

First a few notes:
  • I bought my wood at Home Depot and I got one 4x4 that was eight feet long for $7.00. Then I had them cut it for me to the specified dimensions. (They do this for free)
  • The paint, Micheal's had a new selection of paint: Craft Smart and each bottle was only 59cents! Cheapest I have ever found!
  • And for the lettering you could use stencils, draw them on, etc. But I found it easiest and cheapest to print them out on the computer in a font I liked. The dimensions of my letters were about 5.5 inches tall by 2-2.5 inches wide (depending on the letter). Then I cut out my letters creating a “stencil” to use.
  • I also did this with a group so we could split the costs...which helped a lot!
I found it helpful to sand any rough/splintering parts of the wood, due to the saw's cutting.
I also chose my block order/arrangement and which sides I liked best for the “front” and “back's”

Now getting started.
1. I painted the block white.

2. Then I painted all of the “front” sides in the varying spring colors I chose, keeping a small white edge.

Then I painted all of the “back” sides in the varying summer colors the same way.

3. Stencil on lettering. I did this by taping my paper stencil down to the wood block, then “sponged” on the white with the sponge brush.

4. Once completely dry, I sanded it. I sanded all the edges, and lightly sanded quick strokes over the lettering to give them a slightly worn look.

And you're done!

linked to:

Left overs: Seasoned Chicken Salad and more

The other night I made Herb Seasoned Chicken . In my previous post about it (here) I explained how simple and easy it is, but I failed to mention the left overs can make some great meals as well. This is the one I had last night.
Seasoned Chicken Salad
-Left over seasoned chicken (sliced)
-Shredded Carrots
-Chopped Tomatoes
-Shredded Cheddar Cheese
-Dressing (I like it best with Ranch or House Italian)

Other simple ideas with the left overs:

Seasoned Chicken Cheese Quesedillas
-left over chicken (sliced)
-shredded cheese (try different kinds to mix it up- I like pepper jack)
-sliced bell peppers

Top with
-sour cream & guacamole
-shredded lettuce and tomato
Cover half of tortilla with chicken, peppers, and cheese. Fold and heat on skillet (or in microwave).
Serve warm with toppings

Seasoned Chicken Wraps-

-large tortillas
-left over chicken (sliced)
-chopped lettuce
-chopped tomato
-shredded cheddar cheese
-dressing (I like it best with Ranch or House Italian)
Combine all ingredients inside tortilla, add dressing, and wrap up.

Seasoned Chicken Soft Tacos
-left over chicken (sliced)
-shredded lettuce
-chopped tomatoes
-shredded cheese
-sour cream

Warm Chicken, then layer all ingredients on tortilla. 
Add some rice and black beans and make it a meal!

Seasoned Chicken Alfredo
-left over chicken sliced
-1 jar of Alfredo sauce
-Parmesan Cheese
-Alfredo noodles (or any other favorites)

Heat sauce as directed on jar, boil noodles as directed on package.  Then top noodles with sauce and chicken.  Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and serve.
Add some French bread and you're good to go!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Favorite Air Freshener

My absolute favorite air freshener is: Pure Citrus Air Fresheners (in the Orange Scent).

I learned about this years back in a seminar on Organization and Reducing Stress.  They sprayed this and recommended it for relaxation.  And yes, it is relaxing, but it also smells amazing!  It's just like that smell when you peel and orange.  Which would make scents because it is made from highly concentrated citrus oils from fresh oranges or citrus fruit (depending on the scent you choose). 

It is 100% NATURAL, Non- Aerosol, No Chemicals, Eco-Friendly, and eliminates odors imediately and naturally.
The ingredients are: 100% oils found in fresh citrus fruit. (pretty impressive)

It also doesn't stain or discolor fabrics, carpets, etc.
I used to buy it at Walmart, but recently went to get some more and my Walmart was out, so I found it here at ($5.99) and here at ($4.99) , both are slightly higher priced than Walmart (I hope I remember right) at $3.50 ish.

Anyways, it is great smelling and I never worry about the chemicals in my house with kids, being pregnant, or just for overall health...and it helps that my husband loves it, so we use it regularly!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Snicker Poodles

My cute friend Angela, found this recipe for Snicker Doodles that you decorate as poodles, hence the Snicker Poodles.  They were really simple and turned out so cute!

I found the real recipe from TLC here.  The ingredients and directions are all there!

The recipe, if you can call it that...uses refridgerated cookie dough.  So you just mix it with a little vanilla and cinnimon then roll it in cinnimon and sugar.  So it was really fast. 

The trickiest part was the decorating, but after a trial cookie we got the hang of it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

So if you like chocolate and peanut butter, even a little...these are to die for!
I had been craving them, but not wanting to make a whole pan that I know I would end up eating... So when a bunch of girls came over for a craft night I jumped at the chance to make them.  And they were worth it!

 The recipe can be found here at Betty Crocker's website.  But I will explain it below.

-Brownie Package
   (and ingredients called for on box: oil, water, eggs)

P.B. Layer:
-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
-1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp milk
Chocolate Topping:
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup butter

Baking Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 13 x 9 inch pan (I suggest greasing with butter wrappers discussed here).

2. In medium bowl mix brownies as directed, then pour into pan and bake as directed on package.  So that a toothpick inserted a few inches from the end comes out almost clean. Let cool, about an hour.

3. In medium bowl (I just used the well scrapped out brownie mix bowl) beat Peanut Butter Layer ingredients with electric mixer on medium, until smooth.  Spread evenly over brownies.

4. In microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate topping ingredients in microwave for 30-60 seconds on High.  Stir until smooth. Cool tem min. Then spread over peanut butter layer.

5. Refridgerate for 30 min.


Greasing You Baking Dishes

I love this simple tip I got from a sweet friend...

When ever you use up a cube of butter save the butter's wrapper in a ziplock and freeze.  Then store in the freezer until you want to grease a pan or baking dish.  Just remove one wrapper from the bag and smear the butter side down into the pan.  Fast, simple, cheap, reusable...and a whole lot less of a mess!

I store all of my wrappers in the same ziplock and I even add 1/2 wrappers as I have them.  It works great!  No over spray from Pam, or greasy paper towels!

A simple trick for: Moisturized Skin

I got this trick from Kayla's amazing blog located here, and immediately tried it out.  After having a baby, I don't know about you, but I had several bottles of Baby Oil Gel around that have never been used.  So instead of throwing them away I put them to the test...and loved the results.

If you choose not to read about it on Kayla's blog, I will quickly explain how I use it. 

First of all, I am really bad with lotion.  Although I need it desperately in this dry climate, I forget to put it on and usually I am already dressed so I only get my hands. 
But instead, I keep the bottle in my shower and after I am all done, I quickly towel off. Then lather up with the Baby Oil Gel.  I use it all over.  Then I simply wrap myself in my towel and mosey around for a few minutes.  From brushing my hair, teeth, etc.  This just lets it absorb a bit before I put my clothes on.  (I take 2 or 3 min. tops!)

And no I have never had any "oil" residue or marks on clothing or furniture and it doesn't leave me feeling greasy. 

And I have found any brand works well, I am just using up whatever brands I have on hand.  And I find the GEL is important, regular baby oil leaves me feeling greasy!

Also, Kayla refers to using this while she was pregnant.  And although I am very recently classified in that group I tried this before being pregnant and found it worked wonders.  But for those of you who are pregnant or plan to be one day, this is a "safe" option and works wonders on crazy preggo skin!

Shower Power

Shower Power is this cleaning supply I discovered while in college and I have yet to find something more effective at cleaning showers, mineral deposits, and other hard to clean problems.

And it isn't just for Showers, it works on all kinds of hard surfaces, faucets, etc...and what I also love about it, it SMELLS good!

I love cleaners that smell good and clean!
So, try won't be disappointed!


Not only is it a sweet old fashioned also happens to be one of my favorite health substitutes I regularly use!

When baking cakes, muffins, breads (especially in mixes), etc.  I swap out the oil called for and replace it with the same amount applesauce!  It obviously is much less fat, adds some fruit, vitamins and health...and it is easy! 

*Note:  You can also use it in cookies, brownies, etc...BUT it does give them more of a cake consistency! When I am making it for my son or myself, I don't mind...but just to keep in mind!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

I happen to enjoy the tast of lemons, but lemon desserts tent to be "over the top" for me, and more than that I am not a fan of Maringue.  To me it is foamy and tasteless.  
But my Father-in-Law happens to love Lemon Meringue Pie.  So once, while making him a pie, I combined 2 different recipies (meringue from one and filling from another) because didn't have enough ingredients for one on its own.  Well, my Father-in-Law said he has never tasted a better Lemon Meringue Pie!  And both my husband and I who are not fans of Lemon Meringue Pie, actually enjoyed this recipe...So here it is to share!

Level of Difficulty 5 (Not because it is hard, just time consuming and lots of steps!)
Prep time: 45 min.
Bake time: 12-15 min.
Serves 12

Before you begin!!! This pie recipe has steps one right after another and is best if you prepare all of your ingredients before you begin. If nothing else, be sure the eggs have set at room temperature and separate whites from yolks, lightly beat yolks, grate 2 lemon peels, then use those two lemons to squeeze ¼ c. fresh lemon juice.

1 pie crust

First, my little tip is just use a refrigerated pie crust for this recipe. I find Lemon Meringue pie to have so much flavor that you don't even notice the crust. So, unless you want to do the extra work, just bake a refrigerated crust.

Be sure to liberally poke the crust with a fork. You don't want any big bubbles as it bakes. Also, I cover the edges with foil. Then bake as box directs. I like my edges to be a bit undercooked, because this crust will be baked again, once filled and I don't like the edges to get crispy or burnt!

Set aside.

3 egg yokes
1 ½ c sugar
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp cornstarch
dash of salt
1 ½ c water
2 tbsp butter
2 lemon peels finely shredded
¼ c fresh lemon juice
¼ c bottles lemon juice
In medium saucepan combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and dash of salt. Gradually stir in 1 ½ c water. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Slightly beat egg yolks (done previously). Gradually stir 1 cup of the hot filling into the yolks.
Then add egg mixture into saucepan. Bring to gently boil. Reduce heat, cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon peel. Gently stir in lemon juice. Keep filling warm; prepare Meringue.

1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water
½ c hot water
3 egg whites
6 tbsp sugar
Combine cornstarch and cold water in a saucepan.
Add hot water and cook until thick. Cool.
While cooling, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
Add sugar and beat well.
Then add cornstarch mixture and beat until it stands in firm glossy peaks.
Pour filling into pie shell. Top filling with Meringue, by scooping on to pie. Then spread to ALL pie crust edges, seal well leaving no filling uncovered!
(Otherwise Meringue can shrink!)
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 min.

Tips for the Perfect Meringue!

1. Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before beating, to ensure great volume.
2. Make sure beaters are clean and use a large bowl.
3. Gradually add sugar once soft peeks form. (soft peeks = tips bend over slightly)
4. After adding sugar, beat until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved. (rub a little between your fingers)
5. Underbeaten whites cause meringue to shrink.
6. ALWAYS spread the meringue so it touches the pie crust, don't leave any spot "unsealed" or the meringue will shrink!                     (thank you Shelly and Mandy, I completely forgot to add that important detail!)
7. To prevent beading (drops of moisture on meringue) avoid over baking the meringue.
8. To prevent weeping (watery layer between meringue and filling), spoon meringue onto piping hot filling to help the underside of meringue cook at the same rate as the top surface and don't underbake meringue.

Thanks to: Shabby Princess scrapbooking set: Vintage Florals Collection
And KevinandAmanda for Fonts!


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