Thursday, April 17, 2014

Snapfish Hack

I am pretty organized when it comes to pictures of Kidster.  I save them in folders with the age or the occasion as the title.  I use Snapfish (this should work with Shutterfly also) to create prints or books, or even gifts for family because they claim to have ‘unlimited’ storage.  Currently, you can only upload photos to one folder at a time. 

In order to get all of the photos uploaded from different files INTO different albums I've figured out a 'hack'.

Here are the photo files from Kidster's first month.
Each folder title is her age.  Makes it a lot easier when creating books.
These websites only allow you to upload the photos.  You are not able to simply select the folder.  So you would have to select the folder and then select the pictures.  All of the photos would just be thrown into one 'album'. In order to make your online account more organized simply open a new tab and upload to a new album named the same as the folder.
15 Tabs? Crazy talk!
You can see here that I had 15 Snapfish tabs open.  I was in the process of organizing Kidsters photos when I realized there were duplicates all over the place with weird file names.  So I deleted them all and re-uploaded them from my computer.  It takes a little while but you end up with a much more organized online account.
Quite a bit more organized.  Be sure to select "edit album details" and change the dates so that they all line up. I'm a lot more likely to make the cute photo books and get prints of Kidster now that I know what age the photos are taken of.
What's YOUR favorite computer 'hack'?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Entertainment Organized

Hubster and I recently purchased a new TV.  Its huge and flat and just really looks futuristic.  We originally bought the 'wall mount' kit from Best Buy for way to much money.  Hubster found the same thing on Amazon so we immediately returned it and waited patiently for our package to arrive from Amazon.  

In order to keep the wires hidden from sight you simply drill a hole in the wall, run the wires down behind the wall and pull them out at the bottom close to the outlet.  We have a Wii, a Roku, a laptop and a stereo receiver all attached to the TV so we just ran those same wires up behind the wall and attached them to the TV.  Pretty neat huh?

Like something from "Back To The Future"
All of these things require power.  So for only about $20 we purchased a long 'power strip' that attaches to the wall.  We can plug in everything and it all stays very neat and tidy.  Eventually there will be labels so we know what is what.
Power strip attached to wall behind TV stand. 
What's YOUR favorite way to keep organized?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cupcake Fail

I went to a baby shower about a month ago and the 'favor' was a cute little bag with cupcake mix in it.  I was supposed to add buttermilk, oil, and an egg.  Then 'mix well'.  The batter ended up being more like cookie dough... and it tasted a little off.  Come to find out Hubster had used the oil to fry some meat, then filtered it and returned it to the bottle.
Cupcake batter?
I added chocolate chips for fun
The 'cupcakes' turned out more like blondies with a bit of a meat flavor.  The guys all seemed to like them and didn't really notice the weird flavor.  When will I win this battle?!

What's YOUR favorite cupcake recipe?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cookie Press FroYo

I'm pretty sure I'm becoming the 'cookie lady' among my friends.  My friend Leah gave me a Wilton Cookie Pro II for my birthday and I was pretty excited!  

I haven't make cookies with it yet, oh but I will, mark my words! Kidster has been cutting molars and just generally an unhappy kiddo.  So I figured I would make her some froyo drops to help with the ouchies of cutting big teeth.  I haven't had the patience to make them the usual way in a baggie.  So I thought I would use my new toy.  

Since it was my first time to use the contraption I made a few mistakes, put the disc in wrong, etc.  But what I ended up with was really awesome! I saw that there was a recipe for cheese crackers so I think I'll be using this to make more 'goldfish crackers' the easy way. 

For these delectable froyo drops for the kids just put greek yogurt into the press and squeeze out onto a flat surface.  I happen to have a small baking pan for kids so I used that.  Kidster really liked them!

Flower shaped FroYo drops!
What's YOUR favorite way to use a cookie press?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Scentsy Trick

Hubster used to spend a lot of money on scented candles.  I think part of it was because he grew up with 5 sisters and new that ladies like a pretty smelling house when the come over. (I DID marry him so he was doing something right!)

My mother in law gave me a Scentsy burner and a brick of delicious smelling vanilla.  I would use it for special occasions and never really thought much about it.  That is until my sister started selling Scentsy.  I did the research...and it turns out that having the small outlet plug in Scentsy burners in different rooms in the house was actually cheaper and SAFER than having scented candles, especially since Hubster liked the pretty spendy ones.  IF you've ever left a scented candle burning for a while you realize you just spent $8 to perfume one room for one day.  Not cool in my checkbook, not cool at all.

I figured that if I bought 5 bricks of different scents from my sister I could have different smells for different rooms and different occasions.  Hubster likes them so much that he'll actually call the command to "Scentsy this place up!" before we have guests.  It's also just a nice way for a stay at home mom to feel like her home is as pretty as it can be.  Don't get me wrong.  I am certainly no Martha Stewart (did you SEE my muffin debacle?) but there is just something about yummy spring smells during the spring or delicious baking smells during the winter to really boost your spirits.

I'm not trying to sell you Scentsy at all.  I actually only buy the bricks from my sister but the burners from Wally world (yuck..) but this is for all the Scentsy users out there who may not have heard of this trick.

So let's say that you have a lovely floral scent in your living room but you're looking for a change and the wax hasn't quite run out of smell.  OR it may have run out of smell and you just want it gone.  There are a ton of ways you get the still warm wax out that require possibly burning yourself or spilling wax on your precious new laptop.  *Perish the thought!*

I'm a woman who likes change.  I thrive on it.  I use a different spot for my 'writing' all the time because I feel like it's inspiring. 'mom office' is still a work in progress and is NOT inspiring, but more on that later right?  I like to change my scents pretty often and don't want to throw out a perfectly good wax blob of goodness.

Get to the point already right?!  Here is the simple answer.  Put your burner with the cool/solid wax still in it, in the freezer.  Leave it there for at least 10 minutes or so.  When you open your freezer this is what you will most likely see.  Pretty awesome huh?

Scentsy wax removed.  Easy!
I have a small glass jar under the sink that I put all of my almost used waxlets.  Yes, waxlets, I just made that up but it seems fitting right?  I'm on a roll today, must be the "Enliven" scent I had in my writing nook for a bit.  The Kidster's room is usually "White Tea and Cactus" and Little Man's room is usually "Serene Green".  Something about the green smells that really help with the... "brown" smells.

What is YOUR favorite room scent?

Friday, April 11, 2014

First Time Fingerpainting

Fingerpainting.  It's a fun thing to do with the kiddos and it's something I really should start doing with them more often!  We were invited to a fingerpainting playdate a bit ago and I didn't want to get their clothes all paint-y so I grabbed some white onesies, cut the bottoms off and using a red sharpie I wrote "My 1st Time Fingerpainting" and their name and the date. I figured it would be something cute to put in a shadow box or just fold up and place behind the canvas of their first 'work of art'. 

First Time Fingerpainting
The mom who hosted the play date provided small canvases, paint and masking tape.  I use the tape to make the kids initials and then just let them go to town.  Little Man's mom loved it!  Kidster didn't quite get the paint over the whole 'initial' so it was hard to read what the letter was so I just outlined the initial with a black sharpie and it looks great.

What is YOUR favorite type of kids craft?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Frozen Yogurt Drops for Kids

It seems like the 'baby food' aisle is getting shorter and shorter.  The products also seem to be getting more and more full of weird ingredients and preservatives that I can't pronounce.  They are great for 'on the go' and all that but really they seem so expensive for such a small amount of 'food' for Kidster and Little Man.

I came across the idea of making 'frozen yogurt drops' somewhere on the internets, possibly late at night very likely Facebook or Pinterest.  The exact 'recipe' evades me but no matter because it's very simple.

Buy greek yogurt, the full fat kind if you're feeding it to little ones or a lesser fat kind if this is for you. It must be greek yogurt because it tends to hold its shape for a little while.  You really don't want a runny yogurt for this project. Place yogurt into small plastic baggie or frosting bag. Cut small hole in bag corner.  Squirt onto a small pan that will fit in your freezer, I used a large plastic storage container lid.  Make sure the drops are about the size of a nickel.  It they are too small they melt too fast.  You can make them larger if they are for an adult treat.

Freeze.  This only takes about an hour or so.  Then using a spatula scrape them into a baggie or small container.  Store in freezer.  These come in really handy when your little one is teething and refusing to eat anything except a bottle of milk.  These also come in really handy when the grown ups are trying to lose a bit of weight and are really hankering for some ice cream!

I've tried to blend other fruits or peanut butter into the yogurt to make these have a bit more nutrition but alas, it just ends up way to thin and wont hold the shape long enough to freeze.  I bet I could make it in a small sheet pan like the old school Jello Jigglers idea but it just seems like too much work.

Yummy frozen yogurt drops!
I just realized I have silicone muffin 'papers' that I could use if I blend together fruit and yogurt.  I will be attempting this next!

What is YOUR favorite frozen treat?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pumpkin Lasagna

I know what you're thinking.  Pumpkin - Yum!  Lasagna - Yum!  Pumpkin Lasagna - Eeew!  But you MUST give this a chance.  Hubster who hates weird mixes of foods or weird 'meat replacement' ideas even really liked this one.

I have a mom friend who is a vegetarian and I aim to please when I invite the ladies over for lunch.  I searched for a veggie friendly recipe and since it was pumpkin season (this was made around December) I decided to search for pumpkin foods.

I came across a few "Pumpkin Lasagna" recipes and they all seemed really really complicated.  So I just kind of made it up as I went along.  I searched for a 'simple lasagna' recipe and then replaced the meat layer with some pumpkin mixed with egg and cheese. Of course there was lots of ricotta and zucchini and yellow squash. I can't seem to find the recipe right this second though...

Here is a photo of the yummy baked deliciousness though!

What is YOUR favorite type of lasagna?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baby Friendly Muffins

The mini muffin tin.  It makes stay at home moms do weird things.  The mini omelets were a complete success and I've made them a few more times since.  They've actually become a staple on Monday's for the kids breakfasts for the week.  

I figured I would try my hand at actual muffins.  Did you know that muffins are actually NOTHING like cookies?  I feel like I've mastered the cookie skill and it is now a joy to bake them.  But muffins, oh muffins, they are my nemesis.  I will win this battle and and be VICTORIOUS! [Cue Queen "We Are The Champions"]

I started with the easiest recipe I could find: Basic Muffin Recipe 

I'm sure they would have turned out just fine but I made a few adjustments...ok, I made a LOT of adjustments.

These were the Basic Muffin Recipe ingredients and my not so little 'adjustments':
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, or 2¼ cups pastry flour, sifted
    • 1 cup baby rice cereal, 1/2 cup baby oatmeal, 1/2 cup flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup pureed banana
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg (or 2 medium)
  • 4 Tbsp butter (½ stick) or shortening
    • 2 Tbsp full fat yogurt, 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce 
I followed the instructions and there were a few things that I noticed were 'off' right away.  The batter didn't really 'pour' it was more like cookie batter.  So I just spooned it into the pan and hoped. 

The mini 'baby' muffins turned out ok.  They didn't taste that great to grown up but the kids seemed to really enjoy them.  I brought them to a play date and the kids ate them up!  

"Wet" ingredients

"Dry" ingredients

Sprayed the pan with Pam and then sprinkled with flour

Shook the pan around to disperse the flour

Muffin 'batter'... spooned into the pan

And cute little muffins baked up just right!
I had some extra batter leftover so I pureed some yogurt and strawberries and added them to the batter. I figured these might be more tasty for the adults..
NOT a good idea..
They kind of NEVER really got cooked all the way through. 
The strawberry option was a bad idea.  They never really cooked all the way through and they tasted terrible.  One of the few times I've made something that Hubster even agreed was terrible.

In conclusion this 'experiment' was a little too far of a jump ahead of my skill level.  Next time I'll actually stick to the 'basic' muffin recipe.  Of course I'll be using Emily Bennett's idea to make a crumble topping with granola.  Mmmmmm granola!

What is YOUR favorite muffin?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Surprising Hubster

I love love love to wrap his gifts so that he has no idea what he's getting.  He's been wanting a new video game for his Nintendo DS.  He was talking about it all the time like a little kid.  It was really cute. So I bought it for him.  But those games come in boxes that are super obvious. I didn't want him to know he was getting this fancy pants game, not right away at least.

Ferrero Roche was my ticket to sneaky land!  It was so much fun doing this I gave him the gift early so I could see his face!
Mmmmmmm Variety pack chocolates!

I printed the photo of the chocolates. Here is the game, and the now empty box. 

Cut the photo to the size of the box.  MS Word helped a bit with the sizing.
I wrapped the game in black tissue paper. 

You can't tell from first glance that those are NOT the chocolates you are looking for!

Muwahahahah! Empty box of Chocolates!  Take that Forrest!

Slide the game in.  I had to smoosh a toilet paper roll to make it more secure. 
He was pretty sad that all he got for Valentine's Day was a box of chocolates.  Delicious as they are.  Then he turned it on it's side and saw that there were NO chocolates to be had!  He was really happy about the game and even though he didn't really say it, I know he was impressed with my sneaky wrapping tactic!  I was pretty proud of myself, that's for sure!

What's YOUR favorite to 'present' a present?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

(A Little Late) Valentine's Day Play Group "Craft"

The day before Valentine's Day I hosted a "Cookie Decorating" play date at my house.  I went to the store thinking, "Hey, I DON'T have to make from scratch cookies."  I was going to buy the refrigerated dough and just do it the 'new fashioned' way.  Man, those things are expensive for only 12 cookies!  Even the cookies at the bakery would have been pretty high.  So I left the store with my usual, a package of butter and some food coloring. 

I found a simple recipe online for sugar cookies.  I used this recipe because it had the word "best" in it. They can't print that on the interwebs if it isn't true, right?  It was also the only recipe that didn't call for something weird like egg whites or Crisco (shiver).   The Best Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe

They were right.  It was the BEST!

Lovely lovely cookie dough! Thankfully it wasn't too hard. 

This is my trying to be creative.

More creativity
Getting practice in for St. Patty's Day

Lovely heart shaped cookies!

Lisa loves Hubster!

Child decorated cookies!
The mom's all brought decorations and frosting for the cookies.  So much so that I will be able to host the party next year without any donations!  I have a lot of red sprinkles and icing at this point so I might need to figure out another cookie that might have a red theme...4th of July maybe?

The party was a success and I had a good time.  The mom's loved the cookies and were pretty impressed that I made them from scratch.  

Making these cookies really made me happy that I started this journey of 'learning how to bake'.  I don't get stressed out baking anymore, I actually look forward to it!  I look forward to sharing with people yummy treats!

What is YOUR favorite cookie decoration?