Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Version of the 'Frozen Dress'

Elsa was a very, very popular figure among the 3-10 crowd this year, so I wasn't at all surprised when my daughter asked to be Elsa for Halloween.  I found some really easy DIY ideas on Pinterest.  I even found some easy patterns to sew my own.  So I figured between these two options, I'd be able to make my daughter's costume with little to no problem.

Then, sometime early in September, we were at a local clothing swap store called Kid-to-Kid and my daughter found this dress:

It was the right color and sparkly and she was convinced that it was really an Elsa dress.  I was totally fine with this.

I was able to buy a yard of sparkly sheer snowflake material at Walmart for under $5.  The hardest part of attaching the material was pinning it all together.  Often when I sew I get impatient and take shortcuts.  This time I promised myself that I would just go slow and it would take as long as it needed to.  It really only took me about 3 hours total (over 3 days), but it was so worth it because I think it turned out really good!  My daughter was ecstatic when she saw her cape!  Seriously, she ran through our house for an hour making it 'whoosh' behind her until I finally made her take it off before something happened to it.  (It made me really happy though!)

I looked for ideas for Elsa's shoes but couldn't find anything I liked.  And I didn't really want to buy any for her.  Then I had the idea to transform my daughter's old red sparkly shoes that she had worn out a very long time ago.  She hadn't worn them in months but I'd never gotten around to throwing them away.  I found a can of sparkly blue spray paint for $5 and this is what happened:

By the end of the week after Halloween, the blue paint had almost completely worn off, but it lasted for as long as it needed to!

I don't know if you remember the year my daughter was a cowgirl (which is still my very favorite costume.) This year was a close second!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Slow-Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup

I love my slow-cooker.  It's an appliance I've had for years but have only really started to use in the past year or so.  I also love broccoli cheese soup, but have yet to find one that is easy to make AND tastes good.  This was set up to be a dinner-winner right from the start because (1) I love my slow-cooker and (2) I love broccoli cheese soup.  The stars must have aligned because this soup was delicious!

Creamy Broccoli Soup (adapted from I don't know because I, yet again, forgot to save the source...)

  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth (or you can do what I do and just measure out a quart of water and add the necessary number of chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 20 oz. frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 7 oz Velveeta, cut into cubes (You know how Velveeta comes in enormous boxes?  I actually found these tiny 4 oz. boxes hidden among all the giants so mine ended up being 8 oz--2 4 oz. portions...but it was still way better than having a half-used box of Velveeta lying around my house for weeks and ultimately being tossed in the garbage.)
  • 1 1/3 cups instant mashed potatoes (yes I know this sounds weird but they are what end up making this soup delicious, I promise!)
  1. Combine broth, milk, broccoli, onion, pepper and 1 cup water in slow-cooker bowl.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5 hours.
  2. Whisk Velveeta into slow cooker until smooth.  Sprinkle instant potatoes over soup and whisk to combine.  Serve immediately
Easiest dinner ever and it won't disappoint you!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Homemade Corn Dogs

My husband is a firefighter which means that he's gone 2-3 nights a week.  As easy as it would be to just throw some Marie Callender frozen dinners in the microwave for me and the kids, I vowed a long time ago that I would do my best to feed my kids real food, even when it's just us.  (This actually started when my oldest was just over a year old, so it really was tempting to just microwave a TV dinner for me and let her eat her baby food.)  

Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for family/kid friendly recipes that are a breeze to make (mostly because it's just me juggling two kids and getting dinner on the table and evening is not an easy time in our house...)  I found this recipe for Homemade Corn Dogs from Pioneer Woman and, though I'm not a huge fan of (or expert at) deep frying, I knew my daughter loved corn dogs and if I could even remotely make these work, I would have at least one happy eater that night.

Classic Corn Dogs and Cheese-on-a-Stick (adapted from the Pioneer Woman)

  • 6 cups Bisquick (the original calls for Krusteaz and I also halved the recipe which was plenty for my kids and I.)
  • 2 cups corn meal
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 6 cups water, add more if you need to thin the batter
  • flour
  • hot dogs
  • cheese (I used plain old cheddar)
  • chopsticks for the dogs, bamboo skewers for the cheese
  • canola oil
  • mustard and ketchup
  1. Combine Bisquick and cornmeal in a large bowl.  Add eggs and water, adding more water as needed.  You want the batter to be slightly thick but not gloopy.  Ree suggests starting out with 4 cups and working your way up to 6+.
  2. Insert chopsticks into hot dogs (these really do work and are easy to find at the grocery store) until they are 2/3 of the way in.  The same was suggested for the cheese, but I found that my cheese was breaking too easily so I just used bamboo skewers with the sharp tips cut off.  Also, when I started deep-frying the hot dogs, the batter just slid off. I found that if I dusted each with flour before I dropped them in the batter, the batter stayed on just fine when it went in the oil.
  3. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat.  (Deep frying makes me incredibly nervous so I used my enormous Martha Stewart dutch oven and it worked perfectly.)  Drop in a bit of batter, which will start to sizzle immediately, but not burn or brown.
  4. Dip the hot dogs into the batter and allow excess to drip off.  Carefully drop into the oil and use tongs to make sure it doesn't hit the bottom of the pan and stick.  Flip to ensure even browning.  It took me about 3-5 minutes each, but I had 2 going at a time.  When you dip the cheese, leave it in there as long as possible to allow the cheese to melt.
This was the most success I've had frying anything and they were so delicious!

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Ready to Pop" Baby Shower

A friend and coworker of mine is expecting her first baby any minute!  Another friend and coworker of mine and I decided to throw her a baby shower.  The theme?  "Ready to Pop."  Naturally Pinterest was a good friend of ours during the planning process.  The invite idea came from here.

All of the food was 'pop' related.  There was a lot of popcorn.  I made gourmet popcorn with the recipes here and here.  (The chili lime was my favorite...)

We had some plain popcorn with a variety of mix-ins to create your own flavor.  I downloaded this cute sign from here...

...along with the soda pop labels.  I used Photoshop Elements to convert the pink on the downloads to blue.

I had found this great recipe for 'buttered popcorn cupcakes' but they turned out disastrous.  Really, I wish I'd kept a picture of them for one of those fun Pinterest "nailed it" memes.  Anyway, I just whipped up a batch of chocolate cupcakes and threw some popcorn on top.  They weren't the best, but the kiddos who came loved them.

We played this really cute game.  I can't post a picture of it here for privacy reasons (we used her name instead of "Baby Shower".)  It ended up being a bigger challenge than we had anticipated--both for the participants and for us finding gifts which fit each letter!

It was such a fun party!  I feel like my friend and I should go into a party planning business (and not to toot my own horn but our pathologist said the exact same thing!)

Monday, June 9, 2014

My Paint-by-number Project

So back when I was a teenager my mom gave me this kitty paint-by-number kit for Christmas.  I was absolutely intrigued, but never found the time to do it.  As I have been collecting and collecting projects to do over the last several years, earlier this year I got tired of collecting instead of doing.  I just started grabbing things from the top.  This was one of those projects.  I shrugged my shoulders and went to work.

It actually was a lot more difficult than it looked.  Initially I was too lazy to go up to my kitchen and grab toothpicks to stir the paint.  I soon learned that paint tins that have been sitting around for 15 years really work better if they are stirred up before use!  This was my only mistake though!

About halfway done.

And all the way done.

It actually turned out pretty great!  I may just attempt another one someday!  Right now it is sitting on my pile of finished artwork to frame.  (That's going to be the next pile that I tackle.)

Monday, June 2, 2014


My daughter and I did this fun project late this past winter.  The weather (and landscape) was still rather gray and dismal so these suncatchers were the perfect addition to her room to brighten a winter's day.  

(Adapted from the Friend magazine.)

You will need:
  • Waxed Paper
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Iron
  • Hole Punch
  • String or Ribbon
  • Paper Towel
What to do:
  1. On a piece of waxed paper, draw whatever shape you want your sun-catcher to be.  (This was my daughter's task.)
  2. Use the pencil sharpener to make crayon shavings and sprinkle them on the shape you drew (this was my task.)  Your finished shape will be whatever colors you include.  Put another sheet of waxed paper on top.
  3. Put a paper towel on top of the waxed paper to protect your iron.  Iron the two layers of waxed paper together.
  4. Once the wax paper has cooled, cut out the shape you outlined earlier.  Punch a hole near the top and thread a string or ribbon through it for hanging.
  5. Hang your finished shapes in front a of a window or other place where the light can shine through them.  (Never put the waxed paper near a light bulb or anything that is hot.)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Shamrock Banner

It was part of my personal goals this year to make something new for each holiday from my stash of ideas.  I found this banner on Pinterest awhile ago and decided that I would make it for St. Patrick's day.

The problem is that I deleted the pin before I was able to refer to it in this post.  I cannot remember who to credit for this, which is too bad because she has copies of these awesome maps that I downloaded to make the project.  So if odds are in my favor and you've seen this project before, let me know so that I can give due credit!

Like I said, I downloaded the two maps of Ireland off of this website, but I suppose you could find any black and white image to make the background.  I free-handed the pennant shapes and cut out 16 (which was possibly a tad too many--I think 10 would have been perfect.)  I backed the paper with some tan cardstock and inked around the edges to distress it a bit.  Other than that, I pretty much copied the original.  The shamrocks are heart shapes that I traced, cut out and inked, and glued together to make a shamrock shape.  I let it dry, punched holes, laced some thread, and hung it up on my shelving unit.  It was pretty easy and fun to have something festive for St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Patti's Brownies

We had one of 'those days' in our house a few weeks ago.  I knew what I needed to do to remedy the day: make brownies.  Problem was, we didn't have a mix in our house and, if you read my blogs, you know that I pretty much suck at making brownies from scratch.  I sifted through my recipe book and found the recipe for my mother-in-law's brownies.  I took a deep breath and dove in.  And...they actually turned out super great!  My husband walked in and said, 'that smell just seriously put a smile on my face!'  Mission accomplished.

Patti's Brownies

  • 2/3 c shortening
  • 9 T cocoa
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 t vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Melt together shortening and cocoa.  Let cool slightly.  In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking powder.  Mix sugar and eggs into chocolate mixture.  Add vanilla.  Mix in dry ingredients until well blended.  Bake in a 9 by 13 greased pan for 25 minutes (mine were actually still gooey at 25 minutes so I baked them for 10 extra and they came out perfectly.)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I feel like I am one of only a few people in this world that truly, truly love oatmeal raisin cookies.  The other two people would be my mom and dad.  I don't get it, though.  These cookies are as close to 'healthy' as it gets.  And it turns out my kids like these cookies too so it's an easy way to get a little extra fiber in their diet.  Just ignore the cup and a half of sugar.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (adapted from

1/2 c apple sauce
1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs (I used egg substitute)
1 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
3 c quick oats
1 1/2 c flour
1 c raisins (I soak mine in hot water for a few minutes to plump them up.  Makes a big difference!) 

Preheat oven to 350.  Blend butter and sugars together until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time and add in vanilla and applesauce.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add to sugar mixture a little at a time; mix until smooth.  Fold in raisins.  I used a 1 1/4 inch cookie scoop and dropped the scoopfuls onto parchment/Silpat lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 min.