Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Playing Tourist in your Own City

Two months into our grand move and I think we are all -finally- settling in to a routing and feeling a little more like "Texans". 

This weekend we decided to head out of our little corner of H-town and explore some of the gazillion things there are to do in this city. First up? 

(as seen from Bertha the people-mover, aka "the big car")

We learned about the Battle of San Jacinto and a little about the history of Texas itself. I'll admit I didn't know any of it! Around the monument itself is a bayou (?) with loads of hiking and scenery. We saw what we thought might be alligator tracks and had a sweet little picnic right on the grounds.

Tomorrow I'll share my recipe for all-natural granola bars -- perfect to throw in a backpack for a day with the fam. Sweetened only with honey and maple syrup and tons of good stuff to keep you full. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I haven't:

Nope, I haven't: 

fallen off a cliff,
gotten lost in the bookstore,
jumped in a gigantic vat of cheese dip,
or been backpacking all of Europe.

But I have been:
Shooting for the first time! I think I did okay....

Taking care of this one -- cracked his knee falling off his bed so guess who had to carry everything, everywhere?

 And making bags, bags, and more bags. Some to sell, some to keep, most as gifts for friends. Hats off to you ladies who manage to blog all the time. I'm in AWE. 

Gonna take babysteps -- check back for Halloween fun this week!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Customize your Android or iPhone - Super Cute Tutorial

How cute is my front screen???

I knew about the CocoPPa app for iPhone, but it was recently released for Android
{ahem, end of may...better late than never?}
Anyway, head over and download it and I'll walk you through it.

Ok, So here's the front page. Make sure "Icons" is selected.

 Scroll down a bit and you can search for your apps. You can look through the catagories and by colors/tags, but I found it easier to search for my particular apps.

Find the app you like. I was going for a cutesy-pink-girly look. LOVE IT.

When you click on your chosen app, this screen will pop up. Choose "Applications". 

When this screen pops up, you'll be able to search or just scroll down to the app you want the icon for.

Click Set Up Link. It will add the application to your home screen. Take off the old one and put the new cute one where ever you like!


I'd love to see some of your phones!!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer in A Jar

I've been a busy girl! 

I have always wanted to try canning. I even asked for canning "supplies" for last christmas/hanukkah/festivus. I've never been 'brave' enough to start --- but I promise it's not so scary once you do it.

My sweet sweet father-in-law was on a day trip along the Natchez Trace a couple of weeks ago and came across some lovely blackberries. Lucky for me he picked me up about 8 quarts.

Being new to canning I thought I'd need the whole amount - Oh, how wrong could I be!!?! Turns out with only 4 quarts, I made 12 half pint jars and 8 pints. We've done so much with it that I hope we have enough for the winter -- my dad put it on vanilla ice cream with fresh pineapple the other day. Divine.

I neglected to take any pictures of the process - but I wanted to share the recipe I used. This is one I found on one of my fave blogs, Food In Jars. Besides, her pics are amazing and I couldn't do it any better.

I've found another blackberry recipe with maple and bourbon....to be tried, shortly.
 (And with the requisite pictures, this time.)

The recipe is below, and here's the link to her post: Blackberry Jam
  • 6 cups blackberry pulp (8-9 cups of berries, mashed through a strainer with the back of a wooden spoon)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 packet liquid pectin (half the box)
  1. Prepare your jars, start your lids to simmering and bring your canning pot to a boil.
  2. In a large, non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enameled cast iron), combine the sugar and fruit pulp and bring to a simmer. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest/juice and stir to combine.
  3. Let the mixture reach a boil, stirring frequently to prevent it from boiling over. When the mixture appears to be thickening a bit, add the pectin and bring it back to a roiling boil.
  4. Let it boil vigorously for at least five minutes to activate the pectin. Before removing from the heat, check the set using the plate or spoon test to ensure that the jam will firm up when cool.
  5. Fill your jars with the hot jam, wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for ten minutes.
  6. Remove from canner and allow the jars to completely cool on a dishtowel-lined counter top.
  7. Once the jars are cool, check the seals, label them and eat!

Friday, June 21, 2013

DIY Citrus Candle Tutorial....

How cool is this? I tried this out after dinner one night on a lemon and then on this orange.
The house smelled ah-mazing and the kids thought it was awesome!
 Want to make your own? It is super easy - just follow along...


a spoon or knife
an orange, grapefruit, or other citrus fruit
any type of kitchen oil


For this tutorial, I used an orange.
cut your orange in half, and spoon/cut out/eat the middle, but leave the middle "stem" intact. 

(A craft AND a snack? I am allllllll over this.)

Fill your fruit with your kitchen oil. (I used olive)
Light it up and enjoy your new "candle". 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cowboy Meatloaf & Potato Casserole Or...

Or as I like to call it, heaven on a plate.
So...this happened:
Now let me preface this with: I am NOT a casserole person. I don't know why. Maybe some childhood trauma or something. I just rarely make them. For some reason (cough, PMS, cough) the cheesy-potatoey-bacony goodness just spoke to me. Lets just say - there were no leftovers.  Amazing....
So I found this one on Pinterest. The original recipe on Simmerfor10.blogspot.com is no longer a good link; I found this recipe on Shades of Safhire. Like her, I'll show you what I did differently.
1 pckg of steam n' mash potatoes
1 lb ground beef
3/4 c onion, finely chopped
1/3 c Italian bread crumbs 
1/4 c Sweet Baby Rays original bbq sauce
1 egg lightly beaten
2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 c evaporated milk
1 tbsp butter
1 c crumbled bacon (I used real bacon bits)
1/3 cup crispy fried onions, crumbled
2/3 c shredded Mexican blend cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat a 9x9 baking dish with nonstick spray.  In a bowl, combine the beef, onion, breadcrumbs, bbq sauce, egg, chili powder and salt until mixed well.  Press into the bottom of the baking dish.

Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.  Pour off the excess fat.  Adjust the oven to broil and place oven rack 6-8" from heat source.

Meanwhile, microwave the potatoes according to package instructions. In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, butter and evaporated milk with a mixer until smooth.  Stir in bacon and fried onions.  Spread evenly on top of beef mixtures and sprinkle with cheese.

Broil for about 5 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned.

I didn't make a lot of changes...All I had was plain bread crumbs, it tasted fine. Instead of chili powder, I used a lipton onion soup mix (shhh, it's my secret meatloaf ingredient). I followed the recipe to a T. YUUUUUMMMMMMM.

I promise, your diet won't blame you when it hits your taste buds......

Friday, May 24, 2013

Product Love: Unreal Candy

As some of you know -  (HI MOM!) - we recently found out that my middle daughter is allergic to artificial dyes and preservatives. We went through months and months of different medications, allergy tests, and elimination diets. (Gluten free was hands-down the worst; I have a torrid love affair with bread....)

After much much trial and error, we figured out it was the artificial stuff. We quickly made some changes to our grocery list and some not-so-quick changes to our cooking routine! 

One of the hardest things for her is candy. I try not to allow a lot of things she can't have inside the house, meaning that the other kids don't get them either. I have to make a quick shout out to 100 days of real food. I would never have made it the first few weeks without her insight!! It is really a wonderful resource. 
It was getting close to Easter when we figured it out. We researched all sorts of candy online (full of stuff she couldn't have) and even went to a high-end chocolatier to find something she/we could put in the baskets. Couldn't find a thing, much to our frustration. Imagine our delight when we came across Unreal Candy.
We hightailed it to Target and picked a few different kinds out:


They have 5 different kinds, with numbers. 
#8 is like a Snickers
#77, like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
#54, like M&Ms
#41, like Peanut M&Ms
#5, like Milky Way

Our first go round, we tried the regular m&ms, and the snickers. They are still colorful and appealing to kids. The funny thing is, we didn't need as much to get that satisfying "chocolate" buzz. I can eat a whole little bag of m&ms....I needed like 10 of these - that's it. 
Unreal Candy has no artificial ingredients, no partially hydrogenated oils, no corn syrup, and no gmos. 
My kids can now have candy just like their friends (in moderation of course!).

Have you ever tried Unreal Candy? What did you think? I'd love to hear your comments!

*disclaimer*: Unreal Candy did not pay me for this post. This is how I really feel!!

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