Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Ice Cream--Take 1

Big Daddy is AWESOME!  I have been begging and pestering and whining for an ice cream maker for months.  So guess what I got for Christmas!  Well, technically I got it a week before Christmas, but you know, he's a punctual guy!  I keep up with this other blog, "Gina's Skinny Recipes" and she got a new ice cream maker awhile back and the sorbets and ice creams and frozen yogurts she has been posting have been making me crazy!  I researched the model she's using and it looked like a nice machine so.... BAM!
The Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker!  How's that for a mouthful!?!

Well, needless to say, we had treats galore over the Christmas holiday (pies, gingerbread, chocolate cookies, sugar cookies, rice krispie treats, etc...) so I opted to hold off on the ice cream making until after we had eaten all of that other fattening stuff!  But last night I couldn't stand it anymore, so I fired it up!  I remembered to put the bowl in the freezer the day before, so it was ready to go.  For our first shot, I decided to go for a simple, no-frills vanilla.  I figured that was the best way to gauge the texture and flavor.  We mixed the ingredients, poured them in and 35 minutes later, we were rewarded with this....
Smooth, luscious, creamy, vanilla ice cream!  The Monkey Man and I had ours with pumpkin pie, Big Daddy had his with pecan pie and the Piglet, well, she prefers her vanilla with Midnight Moo chocolate sauce and rainbow sprinkles!  I am very pleased with our initial attempt and now I am brainstorming for new flavors.  I think coffee or green tea gelato sounds awesome!  Or Irish Cream!  I did notice HEB had blackberries on sale last week, that would make a killer sorbet!  Ahhhhh, so many desserts, so little time!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Did I make the cutest little clothespin dollies?

Why yes.  Yes, I did!!!  I was wanting to make something sweet for the Piggy for Christmas.  I had originally intended to make the little wooden peg gnomes, because she LOVES "Gnomeo and Juliet", but as fate would have it, I couldn't find the little peg dolls anywhere in town!  I have seriously been in every Jo-Ann Fabric, Hobby Lobby and Michael's in a 20-freakin'-mile radius of my house!  (Apparently I should have ordered them online!)  But I did find the little clothespins, so I started brainstorming a bit and here is what I came up with...

First of all, supplies.  I used wooden clothespins, soy-based paint (that was a neat find!), self-adhesive craft foam, poms-poms, cross-stitch thread, ruffled ribbon, and a hot glue gun.
 I attempted mermaids first, so I turned the clothespins to where the slit was at the sides and painted the lower portion for the tail.  (Sorry for the crappy pic, lighting wasn't the best.)
Then I added a little bikini top, the face and embellished the tail.
And yes, I even added little belly-buttons!  Next step was to add hair and construct tail fins.  I had my mom-in-law cut the fins out of sparkly, self-adhesive craft foam.  You need two for each tail, so you can stick them together.  Once they are stuck together and your dolls are dry enough, slide that foam into the slits at the bottom of the clothespin.  We cut the hair out of cross-stitch thread and used a dot of hot glue and pressed the hair into it.  Then embellished as desired.  This is final product!
They're SWEET!  Right?  I felt so inspired and confident after I finished these little cuties that I decided to whip out some ballerinas too!  Pretty much the same deal, except the slits faced forward.  I painted little toe shoes and used ruffles and pom-poms for the tutus.  I also painted the hair and added some pom-poms for buns and/or little hats! 
OK, the one with the orange poms makes me giggle!  I LOVE them!  I do think for the next batch, I will paint the bodice in a way that leaves an unpainted area for little arms.  But hey, for a first try, these turned out pretty damn good!  I can't wait to see my little Piggy's face on Christmas morning!  I am also looking forward to making the next batch with her.  She would have SO much fun with this.  And once we figure out the gnomes, I'll be sure to post about them as well!  

Here's hoping you all have a wonderful holiday season!   Keep warm and safe and love one another!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cranberry Lovin' from the Oven

It's the time of year when I start hoarding cranberries.  Ocean Spray, Dole, whatever, I buy at least one bag every time I go into HEB or Costco.  I have to get enough to last me the whole year!  Now I'm not that into cranberry sauce or cranberry Jell-O or anything like that.  I just happen to have an unnatural love of cranberry bread!  Cranberry coffee cake rules too, but that's another post!  Anyway, we just baked a fresh loaf today and I thought I'd share.  The recipe I use is from the Ocean Spray site.  There are a couple of things I omit from this recipe, because nuts and orange peel do NOT float my boat, but you can choose for yourself!

Cranberry Bread

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c. orange juice
1 tbsp. orange peel (I leave this out, not a fan of the zest!)
2 tbsp shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1-1/2 c. cranberries (fresh or frozen), chopped
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Oven on 350*F.  Have a greased loaf pan ready.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, & baking soda.  Add OJ, peel (if you're using it), shortening and egg.  Mix until you're sure the shortening has been well distributed.  Stir in the cranberries and nuts.  Pour into the greased loaf pan.

Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Check it at 55, do the toothpick tests.  Cool on a wire rack.

This is what ya get...
Now if that ain't some serious love in a loaf, I don't what is!!  ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's on the Menu: Cauliflower Soup

Soup seems to be the menu item of choice these days!  What can I say, we got rain today and the cooler temps just made me crave soup!  And hey, lucky me, I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge!  Anyway, talk about a quick easy dinner, this soup can be made in about a 1/2 hour tops!  It's full of flavor, so much so even my kids like it!!

I found the recipe on the "Taste of Home" website.  I pretty much follow the recipe except I add turkey bacon!!!  It kind of defeats my dreams of going veggie 2 nights a week, but it's SO good with the bacon!

What you need:
1 med. head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 good-sized carrot, shredded
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2-1/2 c. water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. salt (I use a little less since the bouillon is so salty)
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 c. milk
1 c. shredded cheese

In a large pot, combine cauliflower, carrot, celery, water and bouillon cubes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 min. or until cauliflower is tender.
In another pan, fry the turkey bacon!  I chop mine up into small pieces.
Set aside the bacon until the end.

In the bacon pan, melt 3 tbsp. of butter.  Then stir in the flour, salt and pepper.  Whisk until smooth.  Add the milk a little bit at a time.  Boil over medium heat, cooking and stirring until it thickens slightly.  We're not shooting for gravy here!  ;)  Turn off heat, add the cheese and melt.  Stir in the bacon bits and SERVE!  I like mine with a nice dash of Tabasco!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Attack of the Dreaded Mom-Mom Birds

You ever see the movie "Finding Nemo"?  Do you remember the scenes with the seagulls?  "Mine.  Mine.  Mine.  Mine. MINE, MINE, MINE!!!!"  I have a similar pair of birds in my house.  I call them Mom-Mom Birds.

Mom, where's my Nerf gun?
Mom, I pooped!
Mom, can you fit Lego Darth Vader into your nostril?
MOM, where are you?
Mom, are you in the bathroom?
Mom, the dog's licking my shoes!
Mom, what's your favorite type of meatball?
Mom, the Mega Nerf 3000 with pump-action, air-pressure bullets is the one I want, but not the one with the blond kid on front.
Mom, do you remember 3 years ago when we went to that one place that had the pumpkins and you wouldn't buy me ice cream?
Mom, why do you have to go color your hair?
Mom, can I go to work with you?
Mom, I sneezed 19 times in a row!
Mom, can you sneeze 19 times in a row.
Mom, can I have some milk.
MOM, I spilled my milk!
Mom, would you ever kiss Daddy on the mouth like that?
Mom, can we go see the Taj Mahal?
Mom, can we go outside to play?
Mom, we don't want to play outside anymore!
Mom, did you know that the Lego Millenium Falcon is like 500 bucks?
Mom, where are my sweat pants?
Mom, do I really have to clean my room?
Mom, what do you call a fish with 10 eyes?
(Mind you this is all before 9 am!)
Mom do birds pee or poop or both at the same time?
Mom, why don't you have freckles?
Mom, the dog ate my horse.
Mom, come here!  You've gotta see this!
Mom, that anole had two tails!!!
Mom did you know that caterpillar poop is called frass?
Mom did you know that frass rhymes with ass?!  But you can't get mad at me because ass is another word for donkey?
Mom, what's for lunch?

Mom what's for dinner?
Mom do I have to eat it ALL?
Mom, can we have candy for dessert?
Mom do you like Lemonheads?
MOOOOOOMMM!  I don't want to brush my teeth!
Mom, why do we have to go to bed now?
Mom, can we please stay up a little longer?
Goodnight Mom!
Mom, I love you.
Mom, can I have a drink?
Mom, I forgot I need to go potty.
Mom, I'll see you in the morning.
Mom, do we really have to go to bed now?
Mom, what's for breakfast in the morning?
Mom, are you still there?
Mom, I can't find Bear Bear is he with you?
Mom, you're not gonna leave until I'm asleep, right?

Eventually, the crazy Mom-Mom Birds drift off to sleep and the Mommy bird listens to the bliss of silence.

At least until 5 am when the little Mom-Mom Bird wakes up.  Mom, can I get in bed with you?  Mommy bird lifts her wing and lets the little bird into the bed where she goes back to sleep and all is quiet and peaceful again until the Mommy bird hears the patter of feet and opens one eye to find Big Mom-Mom Bird peering over her, looking quizzical.  Whispering it says, "Mom, can I go downstairs and watch Suite Life?"  Then Little Mom-Mom bird rubs her eyes and it all begins again....

Mom, can I watch kid shows?
Mom, I want chocolate muffins for breakfast.
Mom, is Daddy already at work?
Mom, what is your favorite Harry Potter movie?
Mom, I got markers on my PJ's.

I think I may have to pass a new rule in the land of the Mom-Mom Birds.  For 30 days everyone must address me as Queen Hesperia Listerwalken Picklepantalones.  No abbreviations, no exceptions.  And if you can't call me by my full moniker, then you are not allowed to address me at all!  And I shall revel in the silence!

Oh shut up, I can dream, can't I?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's on the Menu: Tomato Basil Soup

One of my favorite meals is grilled cheese sandwiches paired with tomato soup.  I was raised eating Campbell's Tomato Soup, and never really thought to change it up, but then I had REAL tomato soup at a restaurant not too long ago and was like, HOLY CRAP.  I have been eating canned swill for years, I NEED to find a decent tomato soup recipe in all haste.  So I started pawing through all of my recipe books and index cards and found exactly diddly squat on the tomato soup front.  Found a great recipe for Mulligatawny soup, but that's another entry.  Finally, I happened across an old "Mothering" magazine article from 2007 that had several different soup recipes and lo and behold... Tomato Basil Soup. 

What you need:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
2 c. chicken or veggie stock
1  14-1/2 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 sour cream (although I almost think it should have been more)
1/4 c. fresh chopped basil
ground pepper

Heat oil and butter in a pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and salt.  Saute until translucent.  Add stock, tomatoes, and honey.  Simmer for 15 min.  Let cool a bit.  Put half of the soup into a blender with sour cream and blend until smooth.  Transfer to another pot.  Blend the rest of the soup and add to the first half.  Warm the blended soup.  Serve with fresh basil and ground pepper.  This recipe makes about 4 servings.  Serve with hot bread or a nice grilled cheese sandwich!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kid Shit

Fact:  Kids accumulate shit.  LOTS AND LOTS of shit.  This shit, at one point or another, seeps out of the designated "kid shit" areas and receptacles and somehow completely and utterly takes over your entire house.  Those of you that have kids know all too well what I'm talking about.  For those that don't have kids or those that soon will, here is a little rhyme just for you!

Kid shit on the desk.
 Kid shit on the chair.
Kid shit on the sofa.
And kid shit on the stair!
Kid shit in the downstairs bath.
Kid shit in the hall.

  Kid shit in the master bath, the most sacred room of all.
Kid shit in MY CLOSET.
Kid shit on the lawn.
Kid shit in the dining room.
All day long!

There is no room for our stuff.
Ain't no way that it can fit.
I'll need a bigger house
To store all this freakin' shit!

-Little Mama

What's on the Menu? Broccoli Cheese Soup

It's the time of year that soup becomes a major staple in our home.  1)  It's economical.  2)  It's pretty quick and easy.  3)  Soup effin' RULES!  I pity the fool that doesn't dig on soup!  Today's offering is Broccoli Cheese Soup from my super, totally awesome "Treasury of Christmas" cookbook.  It is a thick, creamy, and luscious soup that is always a big hit in our house!

What you will need:
1 small onion, diced
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1/4 c. flour
3 cups water
**This recipe calls for 2-10 oz. packages of frozen chopped broccoli, but about 6 cups of fresh can be substituted.

4 chicken bouillon cubes
Worcestershire sauce (pronounced Were-shur-shur-shire in our house)
About 3 c. of shredded cheddar
2 c. half and half

In a large pan, cook the onion in the butter until tender.  Add the flour and stir until it becomes smooth.  Add the water slowly, then dump in the broccoli, chicken bouillon and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook over medium heat until soup has thickened and broccoli is tender.  Usually about 10 min. or so.  Add cheese and half and half.  Do NOT boil.  Stir until cheese melts and serve.  See?  Easy-breezy!  Leftovers can be refrigerated, but I don't know about freezing.  Obviously, I eat mine with plenty of Tabasco Sauce!  Yummy!


Truthfully, I was never really gone, just extremely busy!  Turns out homeschooling two kids is a crap-ton harder than homeschooling one, especially when the 2nd child has a COMPLETELY different style of learning.  I am confident that we will at some point hit a bit of a groove, but at this moment, it just ain't there.  Add in all of the extra-curricular activities like sports, dance, science classes, bowling, park days, Ukulele Society meetings, etc...  Did I mention travel?  Yeah, we still do a bit of that, in fact October was crazy.  Oh and Halloween?!?!  Yeah, Halloween is the one holiday of the year that I embrace fully, so preparation for that was insane.  I also have that little photography business and a husband that recently gained a large new client (HOORAY) but has become MIA because of it (boo).  Throw all of this madness together into 24 hour daily increments and you can see how blogging has not been on the top of my list as of late!

I know... Excuses, excuses, excuses.  So I will try to be much more diligent in my posting.  I have had several requests for some food entries as it is now fall (well, for most of the US it is now fall, for Texas it is some sort of weird alternate universe) and I have been posting a lot of pics of soup and such on my Facebook page and inquiring minds want to know how they too can have yummy Green Chile Corn Chowder simmering on their stoves.  So I shall do my best to keep up a little better.  I can't promise daily posts and hell, it maybe two weeks between posts at times, but I promise to make the effort!  I do love blogging and sharing stories and pictures and I hope you all enjoy reading along!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

PSA: The Great Slime Fiasco of 2011

For those of you that don't know, my daughter is THAT kid.  

I decided after this particular incident that I should post about it, because after all, one of you might have one of these kids as well!

OK, first off, what do you get when you mix this...
with this?
"Look Mommy!  I have a hat made of slime!"  Oh joy!  In case you're wondering what slime is, it is a mixture made of water, borax and GLUE.  And does it easily come out of soft, fine, little girl hair?  NO.  No it does not.  I have to say, I felt so sorry for her.  My first reaction was, of course, to be angry, then all of a sudden this rush of giggling came over me and I howled like a damn hyena with tears streaming down my face.

This was not helpful.

It was also not helpful that her big brother was laughing himself into tears as well.  So I had to chase the child around the house (with slime drooping from her head) to try and explain that it wasn't HER I was laughing at but the SITUATION.  Needless to say, she did NOT think this shit was funny in the least.

First instinct, call mother-in-law.  She used to be a hairdresser, she HAD to know how to remove slime.  She suggested putting on tons of thick conditioner to hopefully help the goop slide out.  Made perfect sense so we tried it.
I was able to start slowing scratching some of the top layer off, but the stuff underneath was so stuck in the hair it was unbelievable and the conditioner wasn't even touching that.  At this point I was almost certain that a shaver and a buzz cut were in the child's future.  I called Big Daddy to get him surfing the web to see if he could find a solution.  He is the King of Google.  Seriously, that man can find anything, anytime on Google!  I hopped back in the shower with the girl to try to work some more of this stuff out.  Shortly, the Monkey Man came upstairs with news.  So what did Big Daddy discover on the internet?
That's right, Baby!  MAYONNAISE!  Turns out vinegar can break up some the bonds of the glue, but I was too scared I'd get it in her eyes.  Mayo has vinegar and oil, double whammy!  And although it's gross, it's manageable.  So I slopped it on and started working it in.  I was able to start pulling big chunks out after a few minutes, then I started in with the fine tooth comb.  Slowly but surely, the slime started loosening up and I was able to comb the majority of it out.  Then I shampooed a couple of times and conditioned really well and this was the end result...
Slime FREE!!!!  I don't think I've ever loved a condiment so much in my entire life!  GO MAYO!  So remember, if you have one of THOSE kids and they get slime in their hair, it's all about the mayonnaise!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Escape to the Mountains: Evening at White Sands

OK, I admit it, I love White Sands.  Seriously.  LOVE.  IT.  And I had the most grandiose plans of taking the Piglet's 5 y.o. pics at White Sands in a sweet little sherbet colored dress with her hand-painted Japanese parasol.  Oh the pics were beyond amazing... in my head.  Mother Nature, as it turns out, had different plans!  We arrived late afternoon and it was still too hot and too bright to take good photos.  White Sands is one of those places that you have to get early morning or sunset pics or everyone is over-exposed and squinty.  It really is very bright there in full sun!  So we just pulled out the saucers and let the kids and dogs run free and wild, hoping that the sunset would be awesome and I'd get some great pics of a little freckle-nosed girl.  As things started to cool down, I set off with the camera to just shoot scenery.  The big, puffy white clouds were awesome!

My feet are always happy and well-exfoliated at White Sands!  ;)

The kids were enjoying sledding the dunes.

In case you're wondering, they heavier the saucer is, the faster it sleds down the dunes, hence the bucketful of sand all over my kid!  Big Daddy snapped a quick pic with my girlie!  I kinda love her!
It was the dogs, however, that REALLY enjoyed White Sands with the complete and total reckless abandon that only a dog can understand!   And they're off!
Well hello Roddy!

And yes, Nigel too!
He got hot though, and Big Daddy had discovered that the sand under the surface was damp and cool.  I have NEVER seen a dog that was even remotely OK with getting buried in the sand.  But he LOVED it!
Roddy got hot too, but he wouldn't let us bury him, so he just panted...
They finally mellowed out just as the storm started rolling in.
Can you see the rain in the background?  So awesome!  I have to admit, it was a bit of a pisser to have our evening cut short, not to mention the fact that glorious photos of the girl were not to be, but hey, New Mexico has been hit by this drought as bad as Texas and I was beyond thrilled to see the lightning and smell the rain!  It finally started raining, COLD, life giving rain right as we were piling in the car.  It was beautiful!  So I forgave Mother Nature for screwing up my photo shoot!  Besides, we all had fun playing in the sand and that's really what it was all about anyway!  I hear that October is the best time to visit White Sands, so I think next year we'll plan a dual trip to take in Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque then head to Ruidoso for a week to enjoy fall in the mountains!  Counting the days baby, counting the days!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Escape to the Mountains: Little Hummers

Those of you that have been following along with my blog for awhile know that I like to travel!  And I also like to post full-blown trip logs of my adventures.  Well, the fact is, now that the kids are a bit bigger and we have so many commitments, it is really hard to sit down and knock out a full trip log chronicling an entire week in one sitting.  SO... I have decided to break things down in smaller more do-able increments!  I hope you still enjoy reading them!

Our family doesn't have the cash flow to travel to wonderful, exotic locations.  It's hard to save up for big trips on a single income!  But we are so lucky to have our little cabin in the mountains of New Mexico!  It's strange, we've been going there for years (and by that I mean close to 20 years!) and we have done everything there is to do in and around Ruidoso, but you know what?  I have NEVER grown tired of this place.  I mean really, how could you?  Fresh, pine-scented air, cool mountain temps (20* less than the hell we call home in Central Texas) and abundant wildlife.  Not to mention a deck that just cannot be rivaled!  We spend most of our time sitting on the deck waiting and watching and RELAXING.

Some of our favorite cabin visitors are the hummingbirds!  As soon as we arrive, we make up fresh nectar and hang out the feeders and within an hour we have hummingbirds out the wazoo!  Big Daddy took it upon himself to try to get some great pics of the little beasties, and I can say from experience, it is WAY harder than it looks!  But I think he did a great job, check it out!

If you ever wondered what a hummingbird tongue looks like, click on this pic!

Can you get any sweeter?
And then came the fattest little hummer we've ever seen!  This little thing was beyond plump!  Not sure if it was just well fed or maybe a female with eggs?  Either way, too cute!

Coming in for a landing!

Our second morning we had the fortune/misfortune of finding a hummingbird on the ground.  My mom found the little thing flopping around in the driveway.  We picked her up and my mom tried to warm her while I mixed up some fresh nectar.
She ate well and started trying to flap her little wings.  She just couldn't seem to take off though.  We think her wing may have been broken.  We allowed the kids to hold her gently, I mean after all, how often does a kid get to hold something that small and delicate.  It was like holding a cotton puff in your hand.
After a bit, we fed her some more and I settled her in the lower branches of a tree.
We're not sure what became of her.  I went back to the spot and walked around the area about an hour later and there was no sign of her.  Not sure if she died or if something got her, or if by some chance her wing wasn't broken and whatever the problem was, she was able to work it out and fly off.  We are all hoping it was the latter, and honestly, as far as my kids are concerned it was.  The Piggy was in tears over our little guest and I was in tears seeing my sweet girl broken hearted.  All she wanted was for this sweet little bird to fly away "to be with her Mama and Daddy and her friends".  Both of the kids were terribly concerned about her and although I know death is a part of life, I figured optimism was the best choice in this case.  So we are hoping "Little Hummer" is flying around Ruidoso visiting every flower and feeder in the upper canyon! 

But on a happy note, the rest of our time at the cabin was spent observing and enjoying probably a hundred of these little beauties!  They swooped around, buzzed our heads when we got too close to the feeders and spent endless hours chasing each other around and away from the feeders!  Those little Rufous Hummingbirds are quite the territorial little farts!  Stay tuned for more adventures!