Monday, July 28, 2014

Homemade Honey Nut Cheerios

Recently our local market had huge boxes of cheerios on sale for a pittance.  I bought them because Kidster and Little Man will eat them with a banana for breakfast and I hoping Hubster would replace his usual kolache at work for something a bit more healthy.  Kidster started to get bored with them and I wanted to ‘season’ them a bit when I came across this blog post Homemade Honey Nut Cheerios
The ingredients are pretty straightforward:
  • 2 Cups Cheerios
  • 1 T honey
  • 1/4 t almond extract (next time I’ll use less, it was a bit over powering)
Put everything into a pot on medium heat.  Stir to make sure it’s all being well coated.  Continue for about 3 minutes. 
Cool on a pan or silicone mat.  We ate them right away and they were really sticky.  The blogger recommended leaving them on the pan/mat overnight to let the honey really soak in and they should be less sticky.  I need to do that next time for sure. 
Kidster wasn’t too sure about the sticky mess, Little Man was too young to have honey at the time, but Hubster and I loved them.  I wonder if next time I could just roll them up into balls and bake for a bit to crunch them up?
DIY Honey Nut Cheerios
Check back next Monday when I show you how to make simple baked mini corn dogs!
What is YOUR favorite Cheerio recipe?
~Lisa

Friday, July 25, 2014

Toddler “Beads”

Kidster, Hubster and I were visiting Auntie A and her family recently.  Kidster found an MP3 player and headphones and started trying to put the headphone cord into the jack.  I realized that she was ready for a few more complicated toys especially ones that help develop her small muscle motor skills.

You only need two items.  Both can be found at the Dollar Store.  A shoestring and a pool noodle.  Pretty simple to find almost anywhere especially during the summer season.

Using a serrated knife cut the noodle into ‘bead’ shapes. I cut ours into about an inch width but I think next time I’d make them thinner.  You want the end of the shoelace to go all the way through the bead so the child can grasp the other end when threading it through.

We use the ‘beads’ to learn small muscle manipulations, colors, numbers, and counting.  As she starts to learn more about numbers and letters I’ll use a sharpie marker to write numbers and letters on the beads so we can put them in order.

Kidster will ask for the ‘bead’ to play with all the time.  Be sure that your child is past the stage of having to put everything in their mouth!  

5 Kid Fun Friday

What is YOUR favorite kid craft?

~Lisa

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Regrow Green Onions (Scallions)

Thankfully Hubster is the cook in our house.  He uses a lot of fresh produce and even though it’s generally pretty inexpensive it would be nice to get more for my money! 
This week’s Green Thumb Thursday topic is re-growing green onion from the leftovers.
I originally came across this blog post from TheKitchn - Re-Growing Green Onions. I was pretty excited about it because Hubster buys a lot of green onions and we have a fairly large window sill in our kitchen.
Simply cut the green onions leaving about 3 inches at the bottom.  Place in a jar with water (I used baby food jars, you can also use a glass or a mason jar). Put the glass in a window and wait a few days.  This is growth from about a week or so.
Re-grown green onions!
I have two other baby food jars with green onions in different stages of growth.  Whenever Hubster needs more green onions he just cuts back a bit of the oldest one. 
Check back next Thursday to find out how to regrow more produce from the grocery store!
What is YOUR favorite thing to re-grow?
~Lisa

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Organizing Baby Photos–First Two Years

I have so many mom friends that complain about having thousands of photos of their kids on their phones.  It’s overwhelming when they realize that they have to now move thousands of photos to their computer.  It’s especially scary when your household only has one computer.  What happens if the hard drive crashes?  You lose all of those precious photos.  I’m pretty luck that Hubster is a computer fiend so we have about 3.5 computers per adult in our house right now.  He’s very serious about saving files properly and backed up properly.  I’ve had hard drives crash permanently before and it’s horrible.  They aren’t built to last forever.  They are made up of very small moving parts that get hot and sometimes the spinning mechanism just fails.  I can never stress enough to moms how important it is to invest in a $50 external hard drive and regularly copy the photos to it.  It’s also pretty great that Shutterfly and Snapfish offer unlimited storage of photos.  Getting them printed is the best way to keep them safe.

The best way to keep your child’s photos organized is to have a place already ready to dump them into.  It’s hard to try to find the right photo when you’re having to search through thousands of ‘loose’ photos on your computer.  By taking a few minutes to create ‘laundry basket’ files for your future photos it will be less of a challenge to transfer your precious photos from your phone or SD disk to your computer.

Enough preaching about externals and uploading and all that stuff.  Time to get your photos ORGANIZED!  Do a little bit every day and eventually you’ll have a wonderful record of you’re sweet baby growing up.

We’re going to use Kidster’s photo file names but feel free to change up the dates to fit your child. Kidster was born on 2/12/13 just for reference.  Also, keep in mind you can’t use the character “/” in a folder name so I used the ‘.’ instead.

So, create a folder called “Kid Name”. Open the folder and create a new folder called “Kid and Friends”.  Open THAT folder and create a few folders for various play dates or outings that have more than just a few photos.  If you have a friend that visits often, like Little Man, then you can make a whole folder just for them.   Go back to the “Kid Name” folder, open it up and create a new folder called “Kid Videos”.  So on and so forth.  I’ve listed the file names in such a way that you can see where the ‘sub-folders’ should be.  Don’t be freaked out when you open the folders later and (especially the weeks/months) the folders are rearranged a bit.  Your computer will usually put them in alphabetical order.  That means that you’ll see 2 Days Old next to 2 Weeks Old.  That’s ok!

I kept the First Holidays outside of the first year because they were special.  Second holidays will be stored in the Second Year folder. 

Kidster Fabrycated    
  Kidster and Friends  
    Kidster and Little Man
    Kidster and Other Friends
    Special Play Dates
  Kidster Videos  
    Edited Videos
  First Birthday  
    Auntie A Pre-Party
    Eating Cake
    First Birthday Snapshots
    Invitation Photos
    Opening Gifts
  First Halloween  
  First Thanksgiving  
  First Christmas  
    Visit with Santa
    Decorating The Tree
    Dinner with Family
    Opening Gifts
  First Month  
    L & D
    Birth Day
    Birth Announcement
    1 Day Old 2.13
    2 Days Old 2.14
    3 Days Old 2.15
    4 Days Old 2.16
    5 Days Old 2.17
    6 Days Old 2.18
    1 Week Old 2.19
    8 Days Old 2.20
    9 Days Old 2.21
    10 Days Old 2.22
    11 Days Old 2.23
    12 Days Old 2.24
    13 Days Old 2.25
    2 Weeks Old 2.26-3.4
    3 Weeks Old 3.5-3.11
    1 Month Old 3.12-3.18
  First Year  
    5 Weeks Old 3.19-3.25
    6 Weeks Old 3.26-4.1
    7 Weeks Old 4.2-4.11
    2 Months Old 4.12-5.11
    3 Months Old 5.12-6.11
    4 Months Old 6.12-7.11
    5 Months Old 7.12-8.11
    6 Months Old 8.12-9.11
    7 Months Old 9.12-10.11
    8 Months Old 10.12-11.11
    9 Months Old 11.12-12.11
    10 Months Old 12.12-1.11
    11 Months Old 1.12-2.11
    12 Months Old 2.12-3.11
    Portraits
  Second Year  
    13 Months Old 3.12-4.11
    14 Months Old 4.12-5.11
    15 Months Old 5.12-6.11
    16 Months Old 6.12-7.11
    17 Months Old 7.12-8.11
    18 Months Old 8.12-9.11
    19 Months Old 9.12-10.11
    20 Months Old 10.12-11.11
    21 Months Old 11.12-12.11
    22 Months Old 12.12-1.11
    23 Months Old 1.12-2.11
    Portraits
    Second Halloween
    Second Thanksgiving
    Second Christmas
    Second Birthday
  Third Year  
    Etc.

Now that you’ve created the nooks and crannies for the precious memories let’s figure out the best way to get those thousands of photos floating around into the right places.

These instructions will work for either your iPhone, SD card, camera, etc.  Whichever digital device you use.  OR even that random folder on your computer that is full of random photos.  I’m going to refer to iPhone simply because that is what I use.

First, create a folder on your desktop named “iPhone Date”.  The date will help if you’re uploading the photos from you iPhone to organize later. 

Plug your device into your computer. Open your device in the file explorer.  I never use any software to upload my photos, it makes things more complicated and a LOT less stable.   Open the file where the photos are stored. On an iPhone this is usually titled “DCIM”. Don’t fret my pet.  This folder doesn’t contain anything except Digital Camera Images.  It won’t brick your phone or delete those text messages you’ve been hanging onto.  I’m going to assume you’re using Windows 8 here.  Highlight every single photo in that folder using the RIGHT button on your mouse. Drag the photos to the desktop folder you just created.  When you let go of the mouse button it should ask if you’d like to copy the files or move the files. You want to MOVE the files.  This will remove them from the device therefore freeing up space for the next time the camera comes out to catch those amazing moments.

Now that your photos are safely nestled onto the desktop you’re going to want to get them into the right folders.  It’s not nearly as time consuming as you think.  We’ve already done the hard part. 

Open the “Kidster Fabrycated” (you’re kids photo folder of course).  Drag the title bar of the folder to the left corner of your screen. This should cause the folder to take up exactly half of the screen.  This is now your destination folder. Do the same thing but to the right side of the screen with the “iPhone Date” folder.  It should now take up the other half of the screen.  This in now the origin folder.  If you already have a giant folder of photos on your computer treat them as the ‘origin’ folder.   If your origin folder has photos other than of your child go ahead and create another desktop folder and drag all of the NON kid photos to that album.  You can organize those later.  Remember, if you hold down the Ctrl button you can click on all the non kid photos and it will highlight only those that you’ve selected.  Select with the right mouse button to have to the option to MOVE the photos. Now on to organizing your kid photos.

Your workspace should look like this:

image

It’s a bit fuzzy but you get the idea. 

The folder on the right may not look like this one.  It’s easy to fix.  Click on the tab “View”.  Select “Details”.  This will show you the dates of the photos.  Keep in mind I am assuming that you only have kid photos in this folder for this next part.

Click on the word Date at the top of the date column.  This will put all the photos in order of the date they were taken.  Simply highlight the photos that fit in the date range of each folder and move them to the right destination folder.  You should assume that the photos that are dated close to a holiday belong in the holiday folder.  You may have to switch between the Details view and the Icon view. 

Once you’ve moved all of the photos go ahead and delete the “iPhone Date” folder from your desktop.  Make sure it really is empty before you delete!

When you get a chance go ahead and copy the “Kidster Fabrycated” folder to your back up hard drive.  Get started uploading these folders to Snapfish or Shutterfly so you can get them printed.  Can you guess what the file box looks like that these photos live in?  You got it.  Tabbed dividers with the same folder names. 

Whenever you transfer photos to your computer in the future take a moment to create more ‘future’ folders with the dates in the folder names.  It will make it a lot easier!!

So remember, backup backup backup!!  If you have any issues please feel free to email me or put your questions in the comments.  I understand that some people just don’t have the time or the skill to get their photos organized.  I will try to help in anyway I can! 

What’s YOUR favorite way to organize photos?

~Lisa

Perfect Grilled Cheese–Every Time!

My all time favorite comfort food is grilled cheese and tomato soup.  A simple sandwich that can easily be dressed  up or enjoyed plain.  I’m pretty terrible at getting the pan the right temperature and I flip the sandwich too much.  I end up with a soggy side and a burned side when I use the usual stove method. 

Gather the usual suspects.  Bread, cheese (I prefer shredded, it heats more evenly), salt and pepper and whichever other seasonings you like.

Preheat your waffle iron on the highest setting.  Butter your bread on both sides if you like.  I don’t usually have butter that is soft enough for spreading so I skip this step.  I do love to sprinkle a bit of Italian seasonings on the inside of my sandwich. 

Once your waffle iron is preheated place your sandwich in the middle, close it up and set your timer for 4 minutes.  The general rule with any waffle in a waffle iron is when the steaming stops your waffle is ready.  I’m pretty sure it works with this too. 

I once made the mistake of using a too thick (1/4 inch) slice of cheese and WHOA! it was a cheesplosion that I was cleaning up for a good bit.  You can never really go wrong with shredded cheese or the usual American cheese slices.

The nice part of using the waffle iron is you get the little pockets of melty cheese mixed with the bits of crunchy cheese on the edges. You can add so many different things to the sandwich: bacon, ham, avocado, tomato, thinly sliced green apple, a bit of hummus (our favorite). I might try a beet and goat cheese next time just for something really different!

Kidster and Little Man will devour these sandwiches in no time!  I love that it’s easy to cut into perfect little squares.

Grilled Cheese Waffle

Check back next Wednesday when I show you how to make a savory waffle that Kidster and Little Man love!  It’s become a refrigerator staple for a healthy filling snack time.

What is YOUR favorite grilled cheese?

~Lisa

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Citrustrip–Arcade Machine

Hubster recently purchased a very rough, very used arcade machine.  You know, the kind that is in a big cabinet that stands in the corner of the laundromat and usually stars one of the Pac Man family members.  It’s been a dream of his for the last few years to create what is called a MAME Machine (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator).  He found this beat up machine on Craigslist for only $75 and brought it home.  I was a little chagrined at the idea because that’s a lot of money.  Evidently there were ‘boards’ in it that he was able to sell and make back quite a bit of the money spent so he was forgiven.  A man needs a hobby right?

The previous owner had, sadly, painted over the entire cabinet thus covering any of the original and therefore ‘vintage’ decals.  Very sad indeed.  He’s a big nerd and of course did much research about how best to remove this offensive paint.  He came across a product called Citrustrip.  It doesn’t have the scary toxic fumes you think of when it comes to removing paint effectively.  It actually made the workshop/ garage smell a bit nicer than usual.

Here are few photos of the process. 

photo (1)photophoto (3)photo (4)photo (5)

Just spread the product on.  Let sit and then scrape it off.  Really easy!  Turns out there was an old school “Centipede” game underneath!  The decal was a bit too torn up to salvage so it was scraped off also.  The whole cabinet is now down to the naked wood layer. Hubster is in the works creating a decal of his own.  This will be an ongoing project so keep checking back every Tuesday for updates!

What is YOUR favorite household product?

~Lisa

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mac and Cheese Bites

Kidster and Little Man are not big fans of mac and cheese or pasta in general so I thought maybe if they were in a more handheld form they would be a bit more interested in it.  These were a big hit with both kids and adults alike!  Hubster couldn’t stop eating them!  They were pretty easy but had quite a few steps.  I didn’t have any breadcrumbs on hand so I used pulverized and seasoned Cheerios.  The ‘milling’ blade that comes with the Baby Bullet came in super handy!

I don’t have a link to any particular recipe.  I just did a bit of research and used a few different recipes as a guideline.

1 cup elbow macaroni (veggie pasta version)

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs 1/2 cup milk
1 tsp olive oil salt and pepper
1 egg flour
1 T half and half or
1 1/2 tsp butter
cooking spray
  • Boil 1 cup of elbow pasta (I used the veggie pasta version) for 8 minutes.  You want the pasta to still be firm.  Next time I think I’ll use the ditalini pasta.
  • Mix breadcrumbs or pulverized Cheerios (I added pizza seasoning to the Cheerios) with olive oil.  Enough to make it a crumbly texture.  1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and 1 tsp olive oil.
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Drain pasta and return to pot.
  • Beat together one egg and 1 T of half and half (or 1 1/2 tsp butter, whatever you would add to make scrambled eggs).
  • Add egg mixture to pasta making sure all pasta is coated.
  • Alternate mixing a cup of shredded cheese and 1/2 cup milk into the pasta until a sauce is made. 
    • It is important that the pasta and the pot are still warm but not on the still hot burner.  You want a more 'soupy' texture than your average mac and cheese.  This will make sure all the pasta is kept moist while baking. You'll want to keep aside an extra half cup of shredded cheese for the topping.
  • Spray the mini muffin pan.  Then flour the pan.
  • Use a tablespoon  or cookie scoop to spoon the pasta into the muffin pan.    The “muffins” won't rise or shrink so however you fill it is pretty much what you'll get.  You'll want to make sure that the sauce is covering the pasta.
    • Allow the sauce to 'reserve' in the bottom of the pot to pour over at the end before you put the breadcrumbs on top. 
  • Cover the muffins with shredded cheese and generously sprinkle the breadcrumbs.  I would use about a half tablespoon of crumb mixture on top to help the pasta stay moist.  Better to err on the side of too much than too little.
  • Bake for 15 minutes

I baked it for 15 minutes and checked them.  You want the topping to be browned.  I wasn't sure about the cheerios topping browning (I eyeballed the olive oil..).  I baked them for another 6 minutes.  I'm pretty sure they would have been fine at 15 minutes though. 

Mac and Cheese Bites

Next week I’ll show you how to make your own Honey Nut Cheerios!

What’s YOUR favorite mac and cheese recipe?

~Lisa