Thursday, February 24, 2011

the adventures that are my life

My mom made me post this, haha, because we both were laughing so hard as I told her the story. The sad, pathetic, “are you kidding me?!” story of how I was late to my Zumba workout class after work. Say ZUMBA! It’s a fun word. Zuuumba!
*Disclaimer* I have left out the plethora of swear words and direct mentions of people who may read this, which were told in the original story, haha.

Ok, so I knew I had this class after work, but had plenty of time to get home by 5:00pm, make myself some dinner to eat and have time to digest before the 6:30pm class.

Ended up having to stay late at work until 5:00pm, instead of 4:30pm. OK….still will have time…eat fast/less…right before I head out the door, I am attacked Office Space style with one last task. I speed through it. OK…still only like 5:08pm. This is workable.

I get home, and all we have is leftover macaroni and cheese (nice light snack, right? Idiot.) So I decide to sauté some spinach and mushrooms to add to the mix (eating MORE food?!). They are taking too long, so I go watch TV. Well, the veggies burn! The kitchen reeks of burnt food. I run around turning all the fans on. Scarf down my food (oh, I ate the burned veggies, haha) way too fast, and eat way too much; washing it down with about a gallon of water! Great. Now I am way too full AND have to go exercise. Moron.  Not feeling up to wearing my spandex pants and fitted tank (after said jumbo meal), I throw on some sweat pants and a tshirt, and start to head out the door.  Only about 5 or 10 minutes later than I wanted to. OK, I just might make this work.
Nope. Remembered I didn’t know how to get there!  Run over to my computer and Google random Zumba phrases until I find the right location…got it!...Google maps……yeah, that looks like the right directions; same as the one other time I went. OK, save the directions in the Navigation in my phone, and bolt out the door!

Proceed to auto-pilot my way 5 minutes in the direction of MY WORK, instead of the way to the class! WHAT?! You’ve got to be kidding me.  Well, I should have just turned around, but I figured I had gone pretty far, and remembered one cross street that connected that street with the one I needed to be on.
Find the street. Turn right. OK, we can make this happen!....keep going….hmm, I hope the street is coming up soon….wow this is really far…..through horse pastures and rural areas?!...come oooon! WHERE is it?!.....
OK, OK, fiiinally I find my street! And I am back on track. 6:19pm
Small chance I can still make it there at a fashionably late time.
Keep trucking along. Traffic and red lights galore. Hit every single light.
OK, almost to the point when I need my phone to Navigate the rest of the directions for me.
I remember some of it from the other time I went, but not every turn.
Almost time to look at the directions……….oh. My phone freezes!!
ARE YOU SERIOUS?! My phone freezes all the time. I have to yank out the battery, and re-insert it to re-boot the phone. …which takes about 5 minutes. Awesome.
Driving along…figuring out my way well enough…really needing the directions soon for the next couple turns…..come on phone! Go faster! Turn back on. …just TURN OOOONNN. …turn on….NOW! …what about….NOW!

One actual wrong turn, and U-Turn later, the phone finally turns back on, and through some miracle, let’s me jump right in to the Navigation system, without freezing yet again.

Get right back into my directions, find my way to the class. Text my friend letting her know I am running late, and she offers to save me a spot.
…right in the front and center of the class. :) Awesome…

Well, I made it. Not much more than 5 minutes late. But seriously…could anything else have gone wrong?! Sheesh.

So there. There is my reenactment of the story.
Go Zumba.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Be sure to wear a flower in your hair

Another blog that I love, showed a tutorial on making felt flower hair clips that I have been dying to try!

See her blog for all the steps - I just followed them exactly for the pink flower.

They are really simple: cut flowers out of felt, fold them up, and hot glue to the main circle piece.
I cut the pink flowers for the first one a bit too big for what I wanted, but it will be perfect for Kylie!
On the second blue one, I tried to  make all the flower pieces quite a bit smaller, and it was exactly what I wanted for my hair.  Then, I glued two stacked buttons in the middle, instead of the last middle piece.

I also used a bobby pin on the back of the blue one, instead of the hair clip.

I noticed on a homemade-looking clip Kylie already has, a circle of felt was glued in between the sides of the hair clip, and then glued to the back, to help hold it on better. So, clip the felt circle, as you would your hair, then glue it like that to the back, making sure you don't fuse the clip closed.  Same with the bobby pin; I made sure I didn't glue the clip part shut, while gluing it to the base.

So there! Adorable, easy, custom flower hair clips!

Check out that blog for a ton of other fun ideas, too!

Sew What?

OK, guys, so the daunting sewing machine has been pulled out of the box, and the instruction manual has been studied cover to cover...several times; each time, referring to the legend of labeled parts.

I got this Singer Simple machine from Sears...worst customer service employee ever, who was saved by adorable grandma sewing expert employee who helped me make the right purchase and explain the features to me!
But, it has been done! I have transferred thread from a hand sewing spool to the proper, and included, bobbin; and I have loaded bobbins of thread into the bottom and top of the machine.

And let me tell you, successfully following the, like, 8 step tutorial for threading the machine is quite the small victory! Not small. HUGE! GO ME!!

I also used the automatic needle threader, which, in theory is an awesome time saver, but I could only get it to work 1 out of the 5 times I tried, so I just hand threaded the needle the second time.

So here it is! My first machine-sewed seam.  I just folded an edge over on some ugly, dye-attempted fabric to use for practice, and sewed straight up the edge, and then turned corners just for the practice.

My next practice project will be to sew a little pillow!

So far I need to practice going in a straight line, because somehow the fabric ends up halfway under the foot, when it started over to the side. Oops.....
Also, I need to buy different thread, because this hand-sewing one-layer thread I have keeps breaking, and I am convinced it is not my fault!

So, there you have it! Both Christmas gift domestic items have now been used...and I think the sewing machine might be more successful than the crock pot already, but we are still holding out hope on that.

Sew there. ;)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tales From the Crock Pot Rookie...

Well my third crock pot chicken adventure was a FLOP.
Promise to self: I will never cook chicken for 8 hours. EVER.

I tested out a pesto ricotta stuffed chicken recipe a friend gave me, and the stuffing and sauce tasted so good, but the chicken was just overcooked and dry. It was trash.

When in doubt, make pasta!

I cooked up some whole grain pasta and tossed it with some bell peppers, olive oil, salt, pepper, and leftover (not that had been stuffed! eww) ricotta, and pesto, and a bit of the mushroom & white wine sauce from the chicken (not so eww)
And we had decent enough dinner.

I tend to make what I call "kitchen sink pasta" all the time...mostly for myself because the combinations I come up with scare the boyfriend.  And they are always best with fresh mozzarella chunks, or other cheese. I have added olive tapenade, wilted spinach, and all kinds of other leftovers and it always turns out great! (to me!)

So, I learned I need to figure out a way to pound chicken thinner, because the stuffed chicken rolls were more like struggling fat tacos. I also learned....DO NOT EVER COOK white meat chicken breast for more than 3-4 hours. Just stop doing it.

I meant to do it for 3 hours, but it got late, so I changed it to 8 hours on low instead...lazy.

I am going to try this recipe again sometime and not screw it up!

Here is the recipe  (Thanks Katie!):

Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Breast (makes 6 servings)

1 cup - ricotta cheese
¼ cup - Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup - prepared pesto sauce
6 - Chicken breast, pounded thin
salt and pepper
½ can (10 3/4oz) - condensed cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup - milk
¼ cup - white wine

In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and pesto. Place a dollop of the pesto-ricotta mixture on each chicken breast. Roll up each chicken breast and secure with a wooden pick or cooking string. Season each roll with salt and pepper. Arrange the rolls in the slow cooker.
In a small bowl whisk together the soup, milk, and white wine. Pour the sauce over the chicken breast rolls.
Cover; cook on low 4 to 6hrs (or on high 3 to 4 hrs).
Garnish each chicken breast with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil leaves. (optional)

Oh, and just wait for more rookie stories, because I finally just took my sewing machine out of the box yesterday... YIKES.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love is in the Air

I had quite the Valentine's Day baking weekend, making Joe lots of surprise goodies, baking cookies with Kylie, and testing out the conversation heart cupcakes shown in my calendar I mentioned last post!

I melted milk and white chocolate and dipped Oreos and pretzel rods - decorated with frosting, sprinkles, and conversation hearts.

I attempted to make those Cake Pops that everyone has been talking about, but from brownies instead.

They taste good, but they turned into bon-bons because the lollipop sticks wouldn't stay put, and the balls barely stayed together anyway.

With some online research, I read that you are supposed to mix frosting with the cake pieces in order for the balls to hold their shape and the stick. Oh.
Next time!!

But, here they are:

Then, the Pièce de résistance! The conversation heart cupcakes!

I made regular cupcakes and frosted them - Funfetti, of course...because...they're more..FUN!

Cut hearts out of thawed Sara Lee frozen pound cake.

And actually regular store bought frosting in a can melts in the microwave very nicely - I thought it might get weird.

So I melted the frosting and dyed it different colors.

Then, dipped each pound cake heart into the frosting and let harden.

Decorated with a bit of red food coloring, and voila!

A little messy...excuse the fingerprints!...but pretty cute!

Then, made some heart-shaped sugar cookies to decorate with the munchkin! We decided the misshapen ones looked like a hippo, and Minnie & Mickey Mouse, and decorated accordingly :)

And the adorable Valentine Kylie made me <3

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

And then...

Also love these!
Love Rachel Bilson. Love her new dinnerware line!

All on sale right now, and well-priced anyway!
Don't really love her clothing line at Macys :/

What's in a chair?

Gah! Damn you Pier 1 Imports weekly email!
I am in love with this chair! ...and the throw pillow pictured on it!

So cute!!!

Also in love with every item they show in the Related Products section.....sigh.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Icing on the Cake

Disclaimer: NO, I am not looking at wedding cakes already! I get a daily Real Simple magazine email and today's HAPPENED to be about weddings. So there.

But I am so in love with the lace pattern on this cake! It is so gorgeous; it looks like real fabric lace.

Loving the flowers and texture on this one, too. I love that the flowers are more modern-looking; not your average roses.

To check out the rest, go to:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Be Mine

I always get excited to do Holiday-themed craft and baking projects with Kylie.
Valentine's Day is no exception.

I took her to the store to pick out valentines to give to her classmates.  We settled on puppy and kitty ones that come with temporary tattoos, as she decided she could not give her first choice of Princess valentines to the boys. (And I wasn't about to buy 2 different packs of 32!)

She addressed about 6 of the "To: and From:" all by herself from her class name list before she got bored.  We will try and finish the rest on Tues and Wed or next weekend :)

Next on our list will be heart shaped cookies next weekend, and making homemade valentines to give to relatives and to hang on the windows as decoration.

But THESE, I am dying to try! My parents got me the coolest calendar for Christmas:

Each month has photos of ridiculously awesome cupcakes, AND then it tells you how to make all the decorations with candy and other things. EXCITED. Who wants a rubber ducky cupcake?!

But for February, it has cupcakes with huge conversation hearts on top!
The cool thing about all these recipes is the decorations look so complex, and you wouldn't think of trying to duplicate them. But, then you see the explanations of each, and they are actually so simple!

These are just a heart cut from a thick piece of pound cake, dipped in frosting, and plopped on top of a cupcake. Then decorated with red frosting. I like this!

Stay tuned for all our Valentine projects!! So there.

Superbowl Chicken Wings

So, here is the recipe I tried in the crock pot for Superbowl Sunday.
...I am now 0 for 2 with the crock pot.

I think my downfall was using frozen chicken wings, because the ice on them became water, I guess, and the result was pretty much BBQ soup.
I should have defrosted them and dried thoroughly, before adding them to the crock pot.

I usually don't usually use frozen chicken, but you know how I feel about meat on the bone that still resembles what it came from (ick!!), so I really didn't want to buy fresh and have to cut the wing joints in half, etc. (double ick!)

Now, I know....

But here is the recipe.
Joe still ate several of them, and said they were good ( ...yeah, I don't eat wings ;)  ), they just had to be dipped in BBQ sauce/hot sauce/ranch because all the sauce washed off in said soup.

After he ate a few, I drained most of the liquid, added more of the sauce mixture, and put it all in a large skillet to reduce.
This worked pretty well, and resulted in a nice sticky wing coating....before I went to watch a Superbowl commercial, and burned half of them ;)

Epic Fail.

It was fun buying cumin, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce for the first time though. I plan on finding lots of new uses for them,

Spicy Chicken Wings

20 chicken wings
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons prepared mustard or spicy mustard
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Louisiana hot sauce to taste

Rinse chicken wings and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut off and discard wing tips, then cut each wing at the joint to make two sections. Sprinkle wing pieces with salt and pepper; place wings on a lightly oiled broiler pan.

Broil for 10 minutes on each side or until they are browned. Transfer chicken wings to crock pot.

In a bowl, combine barbecue sauce, honey, spicy mustard, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and Louisiana sauce. Pour sauce over chicken wings.
Cover and cook  for 3 to 4 hours
Serve with ranch dip if desired.

So there.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Think Spring

While huddling under a blanket and drinking tea this morning, I got an email from Pier 1 Imports that gave me hope that spring and warmer weather are on the way! ...If only in the form of these adorable candles! These little hexagon-shaped candles are encased in beautiful stained glass type images of birds and flowers.
...I want all three!!

Hey, the email said for gift-giving....just saying.... ;)  If you sent me one...I'd love it, haha!

Anyway, check them out!!

So there.

Oh, and for all those on the edge of your seat, I am going to make chicken wings in the crock pot on Super Bowl Sunday for my man, so stay tuned for the results!