Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Original Spork

Oh my gosh, I could get a beautiful silver SPORK for only twenty-five cents!


Do you think if I send in my money they will send me one?  Maybe we should all try it and see what they say...

BTW - thank you Pinterest, for sharing this awesomeness with me!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cream Cheese Lemon Swirl Cake recipe

Everyone (yes, I'm exaggerating), has made a boxed cake mix.  It's okay, but it's never Oh My Goodness yummy, is it?  So when I was making treats for church a couple of weeks ago, I knew I wanted to use the lemon cake mix that was in the cabinet, but I wanted to do something different with it.

So I jacked it up.

Cream Cheese Lemon Swirl Cake

I made the lemon cake mix as the directions called for.  I poured it into jelly roll pan (or a cookie sheet, like my family calls it).  Then I made a cream cheese filling.

1 softened brick of cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix all those ingredients together.  Then I put them in a gallon zip lock bag, cut off a corner, and piped it all over the cake.  Then I used a skewer and swirled and swirled it around to make Cream Cheese Lemon Swirl Cake.

Verdict?  People at church said it was so good!  But I felt that the cake really fell away from the cream cheese portion, and the cake portion was a bit dry.  So next time, I'm going to try mixing it all together.  We'll see what that does...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Really, Hadie?

Are sure about the average temperature?   I don't think that's accurate.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rhy's Room Makeover - complete with a queen size bed loft!

Rhy was in Germany for a school trip for 3 weeks in June/July.  While she was gone, we worked on giving her room a makeover.  You might remember we asked for help with a contest for her to win $1000?  Well, we didn't win, but the room makeover wasn't really optional, so we plowed ahead.

Everything in Rhy's room was basically a hand-me-down, other than her stuff and the shelving unit on her wall.  It was time to make it hers, and make it so she can have her German partner come and stay with us this fall.

This is the before shot of her room:
so much stuff, so little room...
First step was getting everything out of there.  She had done a great job of decluttering, and threw away a lot before she left for Germany, but holy cow did she have a ton of stuff!  Finally the room was empty.  Meanwhile, Jeff found and ordered a queen-size loft for her full-size bed (figure the extra room couldn't hurt, right), and once it came in we commenced with the panting and glittering of all the wooden parts.  That took 4 evenings after work and dinner of painting in the garage.  Then came Building Day.

we brought in the pieces as needed.  it really did take a whole day, even though the website said it would take a couple of hours.  maybe the twin size only takes a couple of hours...

to give you some perspective, the bottom of the loft is more than 5 feet off the ground.  ceilings are 11 feet.  I can stand on the mattress and my head does not hit the ceiling.  That is her full size bed on its side under the loft in this picture.

The loft really takes up a majority of the room, but since she can walk under the loft with the slightest duck, and stand up underneath it, it really opens up the space.  Jeff used zip ties to lift the chandelier up to the ceiling, which has held up so far.  Fingers crossed.

You can't really tell in the pictures, but over top of the gray paint is spray glitter.  We now have glitter everywhere.  There is glitter all over our garage, which is where we did the work, on the shoes Jeff was wearing when he sprayed it, and on any of us if we touch the bed.  Really, glitter is everywhere and it will be forever.  Good thing glitter is her favorite color...

Rhy had been using an amour that I had purchased 12 years ago from Target, as well as a vanity that my co-worker Lois gave us.  We knew that the amour was not the solution for her clothing needs, and the vanity had too big of a footprint to go back into the room, and so she needed a chest of drawers.    We bought it in black with silver pulls.

this photo was taken right after she got home - see her suitcase?  on top of the chest of drawers is a silver picture frame - $2 from IKEA - and I had printed a photo from her trip that I got from the chaperon and framed for her.  I thought it was a nice touch, along with the flowers.

We need a second sleeping area for when her German partner is here, so we bought a black love-seat hide-a-bed from WalMart (it pulls out into a twin-size bed).  Jeff had to put it together, and it's not going to last for decades, but it suits our needs, and will make a nice addition to a college apartment someday.  :-)

In the next picture you can also see her curtains.  Rhy and I bought the fabric before her trip, and my mom sewed them up for her.  It's gunmetal fabric with a sheer gray overlay that has all kinds of sparkles on it.  It's a nice addition with the sparkles.   I also bought curtain backing, but we haven't added that yet.
look at all that floor space!
While Rhy was in Germany, we took a trip to see family, and had the opportunity to stop by IKEA on the way home.  I had seen these picture rails on their website, and knew what I wanted to do with them!  They are now where Rhy keeps her nail polish and body spray - and adds some nice color to the room.  Also, Jeff put in a set of 3 lights underneath the loft that are on a switch so she has good lighting for reading or doing homework under the loft.  Eventually we want to figure out how to incorporate a desk under there.
Look at the top of that photo, do you see the fabric in between the slats?  IKEA had a loft bed with furs on it like that, this was my "we're too poor for that" compromise.  It's so soft!

I had found these drawing of Ariel (the Little Mermaid) on Pinterest, and wanted to make wall decorations for Rhy with them.  I'll put a how-to in another blog.  I wanted to buy the prints from the artist, who is on, but couldn't find a way to do so.

Up above in the picture of the chest of drawers, this mirror (below) is on the wall.  However, it was too high for her to use as it was intended - for her to do her hair and makeup.  So she attached it underneath her loft.  It's been glittered - the entire frame is silver glitter!  I already had the mirror, and all I did was paint Mod Podge on it, and sprinkle glitter on the Mod Podge.  Once it had dried, I knew there was enough glitter, and I painted 2 coats of Mod Podge over top of the glitter - letting the glue dry in between coats.  Once it was all dry, I rubbed the glitter to make sure it was on there, and yes, it's on there!  That glitter won't come off unless you really try to take it off!

I don't envy the girl though, even with a brand new room like this, because she's had to move in again.  I guess it's good prep for college, when you move all the time.  She really likes it though, and we've had some other projects we've worked on to really do it up right.  Watch for more on other projects later!

So, what do you think?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Review: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

This, my friends, is a Pinterest Book Review.  I have a board called "Books to read?" because when I go to the library I have a hard time figuring out how to find a book I might like.  I don't read as much as I did before I met Jeff, but hey, before he came into the picture I didn't have TV or internet and spent all my time alone.  And the summer before I met him, I was laid off every other week, so I had a lot of time on my hands.  And I went to the library every single day.  Yes, I was a regular.  They probably thought I had fallen off the face of the Earth, but then I went in and found this book to read.

"Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes. 
Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky. 
On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period's glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love."

I like to read historical fiction.  It's definitely my preference.  I was really happy that they had been rescued and onto dry land by the time this book was 1/4 done.  There was a lot of aftermath, both with Titanic hearings (they took from the actual transcripts of the hearings for dialog) as well as what happens to Tess in her personal life.  I would recommend this book to anyone who wants an easy yet interesting read.

What have you been reading?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fruity Crispies Recipe

The best part about being on the Fellowship Committee for church is that I get to try out recipes and then promptly get rid of the evidence.  :-)

I love the fruit rice crispy treats that we can get at our local gas station, and I thought they would be a hit at church with the kids.  I figure you probably don't need a recipe, but I'll make one here for you, just in case.

Just in case of what?  Oh, in case you're like me and need a recipe in order to make rice crispy treats.  That's right, I had to look it up.  And of course I have a tendency to use the whole bag of marshmallows ( I really like marshmallow-y treats), this is approximately the ingredients I used.

Fruity Crispies
4-5 cups of Rice Crispies cereal
4-5 cups of Fruity Pebbles cereal
1 stick of butter
1 bag of marshmallows
a splash o' milk

I make my rice crispy treats on the stove.  First, be a good little boy scout and measure out your cereal (always be prepared).  Speaking of being prepared, make your life easy and put some parchment paper on a jelly roll pan (or, as we in the MidWest call them, cookie sheet).  Don't cut the paper to size, just kinda sit it on there.  And either butter it or spray it with Pam.  

Next, melt the butter in a big ol' pot.  Put the marshmallows in the pot.  Stir it all around wondering how freaking long it's going to take before the marshmallows are melted and wouldn't people actually like to get a big hunk of marshmallow in their treat so do they really need to be all melted all the way?  Splash in the milk.  I don't know why.  But I found a recipe that does it, and it seemed to smooth out the butter/marshmallow mixture.  

Stir in the cereal as if your life depended on it.  Once it's all mixed up, plop it on the parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Get out a big hard plastic spoon (you use these right?  it's not just me?  the black ones that you use to stir up your dinner that you're making on the stove, you know the ones) and spray the back of it with Pam.  Use it to smoosh down and smooth out the treats.


When they're "set", put the paper and treats off of the cookie sheet.  It makes it easier to cut them.  We have a big huge pizza cutter - you know, the piece of metal that's almost 2 feet long and looks like they use it at the pizza place.  Made it really easy to cut.  But if you don't have that, I bet a rotary pizza cutter would work, and I know for a fact that your largest knife in the kitchen works well too.  The key is that you don't have to worry about the sides of the pan.  Makes it so much easier.

Verdict?  They were excellent.  And there was a smaller crowd that usual at church (new church location opened, means we have fewer people coming to our church each week, plus, you know, it's summer and fewer people go to church in the summer because they're out camping, as crazy as that sounds.)  There weren't very many kids, but a lot of adults liked them.  I made two batches and cut them into small pieces.  I only needed to make one batch.  Seriously.  One of that ladies said that treats from our house are always so colorful.  Drat.  Now I need to keep up the rainbow colored treat streak...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pinterest Review: Easy Mexican Casserole (or Mexican Chili, depending on how you make it)

I've been doing better at making dinner and using recipes that I've pinned on Pinterest.  I created a board on my Pinterest account called "2 try this week".  Then before I go grocery shopping, I find a couple recipes, move them to that board, buy the necessary ingredients, and it's easy to remember what I bought those mixed beans for later that week.  :-)

Last week I finally tried a Mexican casserole that I'd been looking at for a while.  We like Mexican food (or what passes for Mexican in the Midwest), and I like the word "Easy" in recipes.  It was called

Easy Mexican Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef
1 can Ranch Style beans
1 10-12 ounce bag tortilla chips, crushed (I didn't use the whole bag)
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 package taco seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
sour cream and salsa for serving

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large skillet, brown meat and drain off fat. Stir in beans, tomatoes, onion, taco seasoning, soup and water. Simmer over medium-low heat until everything is well combined and heated through.

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Put down a layer of crushed tortilla chips, followed by a layer of the meat/bean mixture, then half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and salsa. 

(I got the recipe from

So, I'll be honest, I have no idea what Ranch Style beans are, and couldn't find any, so I bought a can of mixed beans.  And we didn't have taco seasoning, but we did have fajita seasoning, and I tell you all, that was the kicker!  We both loved it with fajita seasoning!  Jeff looked at me and said, "Remember... Fajita Seasoning."  Also, I didn't turn it into a casserole.  We didn't have chips (cause I thought we did so I didn't stop by the snack machine on the way out of work), so there was no point.  But you know what?  It worked.  I was kind of like a Mexican Chili, and we ate it all up!

Verdict:  Yummy!  So very much yummy!  You could easily change the flavor of this based on the kind of beans you use, the kind of seasoning you use, if you leave it be or turn it into a casserole...  I already know that I'm making it again tomorrow night...

This recipe was moved to my Pinterest board "Meals to make again".  And again and again and again...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Oh Sugar!

So I had decided that I need to lay off the sugar*.  I really was eating a ton of it, sweets everyday, often multiple times a day.  On Sunday I decided sugar one day a week is reasonable.  After all, there are other sweet foods that are out there for reasons other than being sugar.  So if I want something sweet, then, granola bar or oatmeal or fruit or something.

I was doing really good.  I even put the fruity tootsie rolls that I had in my office over into Lois's so that they wouldn't temp me (that was after picking one up twice and then putting it back - it really was all about the fact that it was there and it was habit to pick one up as I walked passed).

Yesterday I was kind of having one of those I-don't-want-to-be-in-a-bad-mood-but-Mother-Nature-is-on-her-way-for-a-visit-and-I'm-none-too-thrilled days, and I bought one of those peanut butter rice crispy treats with the chocolate on top out of the vending machine.  Those things are awesome.  And full of sugar for the sole purpose of being full of sugar.

And you know what?

  1. It's kinda yucky, cloyingly sweet.
  2. I would put it down after a bite and let it sit.  I used to eat those like it's my job.  Bite after bite after bite till it's gone.  But yesterday I almost forgot about it.
  3. Maybe I had gone enough days without the sugar that I was getting used to it.  But did I just ruin it by eating that?
  4. Oh, and I threw away half because it really wasn't that great.  And because I almost forgot about it within a minute of a bite.  Sugar not memorable?  Don't eat it.

Today I make food to take to church on Sunday.  I'm going to make lemon cake bars with cream cheese "filling"**, rice crispy treats, and some sort of fruit or veggie.  Usually when I make stuff to take to church, a lot of it goes through Quality Control (aka my pie hole).  Hopefully tomorrow I can remember Control and not need to check the Quality on so much of it.

*And by sugar I mean anything that exists for the sole purpose of being sugar.  Ice cream, candy, cakes, cookies, etc.  I know that other food, like a lot of granola bars, have a bunch of sugar in them, but my granola bars also have a serving of almonds in them, so there's the protein.

**And by "filling" I mean that I'm going to plop some onto the cake mix and bake it.  It was very yummy when we did that with the Orange Creamcicle cake mix...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Making Thanksgiving Meatloaf

We've been busy little bees for quite a while around here.  Rhy went to Germany(!) and while she was gone we were busy with a trip to a family gathering and getting her room ready for her return (more on that in future blogs).  What I wasn't busy doing for the last month+ was cooking/baking.  So I had a hard time figuring out what to write for the last post of July.
BUT, last night I DID make dinner!  Full on freaking dinner, with protein, veggies, and a starch!  Go me!  And now, I bring you

Thanksgiving Meatloaf

  • 1 to 1.25 pounds ground turkey (I used 1.25 pounds of lean ground turkey)
  • 1 or 2 eggs (your preference, I use more eggs than meatloaf recipes call for)
  • 1 box of Stove Top or your preferred stuffing mix (which Google tells me is 6 ounces)
  • 1 cup water broth
  • chopped onions & celery, probably 1-2 tablespoons of each, depending on your preference

Smoosh everything together, just like any other meatloaf recipe you've ever made.  I must tell you, it will look like too much stuffing mix, but it's not.  And the turkey needs those seasonings.  I was leary of the water, but it needed it because of the dryness of the stuffing mix.  I would suggest using broth instead, for flavor.  Make your liquid work for you!

Plop it in your meatloaf pan* and bake on 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Enjoy!

So, how did we like it?  I think I liked it better than Jeff or Rhy, but I know that Jeff is a meatloaf purist, so even though I told him that it wouldn't taste like "regular" meatloaf, I think he was a bit disappointed, but said we should have it again.

What changes would I make? 
  • I would use more rather than less stuffing mix.  I probably only used 4-5 ounces, and it could have used more flavor (but still yummy and I was very happy with the outcome).
  • I would use broth instead of water, for more flavor, but I used water last night.
  • It doesn't really translate well to leftovers (which I learned at lunch today), so I would probably put a spoonful of gravy in the leftover box, for extra flavor and moisture.
  • Maybe add some craisens?  I don't think that would have gone over very well in my house, but I think it would be interesting, and, afterall, it is called "Thanksgiving Meatloaf."

*I don't have a meatloaf pan.  Or a loaf pan.  For a couple three years I've been using a round cake pan and baking the meatloaf in the toaster oven.  The first time Jeff was perplexed that a meatloaf could be in that shape, but it's normal now.  :-)