Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! 

We did a few Valentine's Day crafts this year. Just wanted to share some with you.

-Felt heart garland-
This idea came from Pinterest. The girls had a lot of fun threading the hearts on themselves and did a great job with the sewing needles. I was impressed that Callie sat through her whole project and saw it to completion. Then wore it proudly as a necklace!

The girls also made Valentine's cards for their playgroup. I had visions of fancy homemade ones (ok, not fancy, just finger painted or something, thank you Pinterest for filling my head with crazy ideas) but when I saw the store bought ones at the dollar store, I said, YES! A girl has to know when to say enough is enough. Eleni signed her name on hers and Callie added the stickers that held hers together. They had fun and it was fairly stress free.

Tomorrow we will be having some red/heart fun with food. Hoping to share with you later this week.

Have a fun day. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Welcome to my blog. As some of my readers know I had started a blog a long time ago and abandoned it.  I hope to start using this little piece of the web to share my crafty endeavors with you all. This way I can share more photos and tutorials for things I make, bake etc...

Here are some things that I have created lately that I hope to blog about soon. Here are some sewing projects:

I'm making a few pillowcases when I have time or extra cute fabric to donate to ConKerr Cancer.

A Seuss patchwork outfit for my little man
When I see extra fabric my mind wanders and I find more projects for myself, despite a lack of time for most of these extra projects!

A picture of the kids!
My inspiration and/or my distractions, depends on the day really.

Hoping to share a lot of fun things with you.

Daring Desserts -

I love a challenge.  

My husband came home one night and told me I needed to create a cake for his work Holiday party. I immediately searched for holiday/red/festive cakes. All our children share January birthdays, so in this house, the winter is cake baking season. 

I decided on something that contained nutella and raspberries. Yummy and festive. After an exhaustive google search did not turn up anything eye catching I decided to combine these loves into one daring dessert. 

A four layer chocolate cake with a mixture of nutella and raspberry filling, covered with Italian meringue buttercream, flavored with raspberry and nutella. Topped with a chocolate ganache pool and decorated with raspberries and yes, more buttercream. It  looked heavenly. It tasted good too. Unfortunately everyone was too busy drooling and no one took a photo of the inside.

"Here is my entry to the Appliances Online daring desserts competition, 

check out the other entries on Handle the Heat" 

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry-Nutella filling and Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate cake recipe  from The Birthday Cake Book by Dede Wilson or your favorite cake recipe will do! Prepare 2-9 in cake pans with parchment paper. Bake according to your  favorite chocolate cake recipe.  Let cool until ready to frost. Freezing cake layers slightly will  make them easier to slice. 

1 cup nutella, warmed slightly
1 cup raspberry preserves, warmed slightly

Nutella-Raspberry Buttercream:
Adapted from The Birthday Cake Book by Dede Wilson
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
6 large egg whites (room temperature)
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature cut in small pieces
1. Place 1 cup of sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir to wet sugar. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Wash down the sugar crystals once or twice. Allow the sugar to simmer gently.
2. Place egg whites in a clean stand mixer and whip until frothy on low speed. Add the cream of tartar and turn the speed up to med-high. When soft peaks form add the remaining sugar. Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks form. 
3. Bring the sugar mixture to a rapid boil until it reaches 248 degrees. 
4. When the syrup is ready pour a thin stream directly over the meringue. Whip the meringue until cool to the touch. Once cool add the butter a few tablespoons at a time until the buttercream is completely smooth. 
5.  Add 1/2 cup of nutella to buttercream and 1/4 cup of raspberry preserves.  Whip until nutella and raspberry is completely absorbed by the buttercream. 

Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz semisweet chocolate
Heat cream in microwave until it boils.  Add chopped chocolate and mix until incorporated. 
Ganache is now ready to use.

Cut each cake layer in half (helps to freeze layers slightly before cutting). 
Mix nutella and raspberry together and spread of each layer. Pipe a dam of buttercream around edges to contain filling. Once all layers and stacked frost cake completely. Refrigerate to set frosting. Add ganache to top of cake to finish. 
UPDATE: I found a picture of the inside!
Four delicious layers with nutella/raspberry yumminess inside!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lazy Blogger!

Well I haven't been good about keeping up my blog, but hubby has started his own personal finance blog and I have a couple of guest posts you can check out...

Main page
Don't Feed the Alligators

Cloth Diapers

Frugal Scrapping

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Every pregnant girl needs the following...

These are things that I found very helpful. They might not work for everyone, but here they are:

Maternity pant suspenders. I saw these things in a pregnancy magazine and they basically attach to your pants and your bra like mini suspenders. Of course they were charging $12, I found something similar for $5 at Joanns. Since the new maternity pants are low rise, these things are great. No more saggy pants!!

Motion sickness bands. I didn't need these (thankfully), but I did use them on a flying trip. Again, I'm not sure if they worked, but I didn't get sick and another friend has used them successfully.

Snoogle Body Pillow. I bought this one (snoogle at baby age). What a great invention. I didn't think I needed one at first, but then after starting to use about 4 pillows to get comfy, I made the investment. It's awesome!!

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Hacker’s Diet & my weight loss secrets and successes

Back around November I starting thinking about getting “in shape” for pregnancy. I was not at my ideal weight and I wanted to concentrate on healthy eating. My theory was it would be easier to encourage healthy eating if mom and dad were leading by example. But I wanted to start before the baby arrived, so it would be a normal part of our routine, so I got a head start.

So my quest to have a healthy pregancy began, pre-conception. I started small. I tried to cut out things that contained high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and it’s in Everything! (mind you, now that I’m pregnant and my calories needs have increased, I do have HFCS back in my life, but in moderation!) But at the same time I started shopping smarter, avoiding the dangerous middle aisles of the store, sticking with the outskirts (produce, fish, meat, dairy). And thanks to my friend Karen, I have a handy dandy shopping list and on the back, when I print my list, I also make my meal plan for the week. I don't always come up with original meal ideas, but I have a list of tried and true things and they are tasty, quick and healthy. I find that if I plan out 3 meals a day for about a week, I shop better and don’t tend to buy food that sits in the fridge and goes bad. This way if I have fajitas with avocado on the menu, I buy and use the avocado (although those never go to waste in my house!!) At about the same time, I found a great website called The World’s Healthiest Foods. which is great for letting you know which foods have the highest nutritional value, how to buy and store them and easy, quick recipes. It’s a great resource.

I also found a website called Fitday that allows me to track calories. But more importantly it also tracks, carbs, protein, calcium, vitamins etc so I can check that I’m getting the nutrients I need. I also started taking a prenatal vitamin (I highly recommend the CVS brand if you’re in the market, easy to swallow and has never made me sick). So I would record my data each day to see that I was hitting my targets. I started at to get my calorie needs, this site also gives calorie needs for pregnant woman in particular, which was very helpful. So I kept track and I ate 1500 calories a day (which if my normal needs are 2200 would mean I would have an over 3500 cal/wk deficit which translates into 1 lb). And the weight started coming off. About a 1 to 1 ½ lbs a week, but I was able to maintain that amount of calories and didn’t feel deprived. (It's good to keep little snacks like funsize chocolates, so if you have some extra calories leftover you can have a little treat! But remember, moderation is the key) I also recommend which is a great resource for calorie counts and you can upload data directly into fitday.

After a few months my husband started noticing my weight loss and got interested in how he could do the same (some people get the "freshman 15", for us it was the "1st 5 years of marriage 20"!) He figured we were basically eating the same thing, except I was losing and he wasn't! He found this website, The Hackers Diet and started reading. It reads like an engineer's guide to dieting (not unlike, for engagement rings, but that's an entry for a different day!) The basic gist is that if you track your weight every day you can establish a trend line. The ups and downs of the scale are what discourage most dieters, but with a trend you can neutralize the ups and downs into a realistic trend. Thus began our daily weigh-ins. We bought a new scale ( and were on our way.

I was about 5 lbs off my goal when I found out I was pregnant the 1st of May (but hey we were on vacation so it was a pretty good time to not have to totally worry about calorie counting!). At that time I gradually increased my calorie intake by about 200 cals a week until I was back to my normal caloric need. After the first trimester I increased to an additional 300 calories in order to start gaining 1 lb/wk. My husband is also well on his way to his goal (we should pass each other next week!) and is losing about 1 1/2/wk. He's pretty lucky, I send him to work on most days with breakfast and lunch and let him know the calorie counts, I'm his own personal nutritionist! Then he can determine how he wants to spend the extra on snacks. He has also started working out (I was too lazy for that!) I do try to keep active, but between living on the 2nd floor, laundry in the basement and parking far from the entrance at work I'm sure I'm doing fine and every now and then the hubby convinces me to go for a walk!

If you are interested in any of this, I hope you find these resources helpful. I found that the diffierent websites were a great way to start eating healthy and feeling better. No guarantees, but feel free to post with questions. If you don't like the computer (what would you be doing reading a blog though!) The Calorie King has a great book that is compact and portable and makes it really easy to count calories. So take any of this information and use it as you see fit. Good luck and here's to happy, healthy eating!

Friday, September 1, 2006

Meet Rosie and Jeeves

Rosie and Jeeves are our pet names for our new housekeepers. You see, we have two huge dogs, and although they don’t have a lot of hair, they do tend to make huge messes! So we had some extra money in the budget this month and bought two of the coolest electronic inventions after TIVO and our fabulous harmony remote control by Logitech

(which is called that because it creates harmony and has probably saved ours and at least 1 other marriage that I know of!).

Rosie is a scooba. She cleans the kitchen floor and she does a great job. In 45 minutes she zips around and goes under the furniture and bounces off the walls. And I think the solution smells wonderful.

Jeeves arrived the other day. He was delayed in transit because he choose to take the train to get to us (Free pony express shipping from Amazon). Jeeves is the Roomba Red. He is a more rugged, all-terrain robot that zips over rugs and thresholds and gets into all kinds of dusty, cob-webbed corners (and even under the beds to rid the house of pesky bunnies!)

I’m sure we’ll still use our vacuum now and again, but with a new little one on the way, this is just a nice way to stay on top of the cleaning and create a somewhat sanitized environment (haha!! Even with Rosie and Jeeves we will never be a germ free house, but a wise man once said you need to eat a pound of dirt before you die!) Rosie and Jeeves will just prevent our kids from exceeding their RDA!