Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Natalie's 9th Birthday

For Natalie's 9th birthday, she didn't want a big party with lots of people. She just wanted to do something special with her best friend, Caroline. She decided on the local carnival. So that's what we did. We picked up Caroline and off we went to the Yorktown Heights Fireman's Carnival. They rode rides until they got hungry.
Then we took them to Okinawa an Hibachi restaurant for dinner and to Friendly's for sundaes. It was a great day! Here are some pictures from the day.

Waiting in line...



I think this one was called the Whirly Gig. This was Natty and Caroline right before the ride started. When it was over Caroline requested a tamer ride. LOL! She looked a little green...poor thing.



On the swing ride. :)



In the Tilt-A-Whirl. I love that ride. :)

Freezer Jam

Since we had just gone strawberry picking, I came up with the idea to give homemade strawberry jam to everyone as their party favor at Natalie's birthday. Natalie mashed all the berries while I cooked the pectin. I filled the jars and she sealed them up. It was a total team effort.

Everyone got 2 of these cute little jars.



Here is the recipe I used. Pretty easy. Anyone can do it. :)

NO - COOK STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM

4 c. ripe strawberries
4 c. granulated sugar
1 box Sure-Jell powdered pectin
3/4 c. water

Wash and hull the berries; crush them completely, a few at a time. (Should end up with 2 cups.) In large bowl, mix together the berries and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine pectin and water in saucepan. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir hot pectin into the fruit bowl; continue stirring. Don't worry if sugar is not completely dissolved. Ladle jam into freezer containers. Put lids on immediately. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours or until set. Refrigerate for a few weeks or freeze for up to a year.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cornbread Muffins


Since we got our Big Green Egg, my husband has been a grilling fool. I am always on the lookout for some good sides for BBQ'd ribs and brisket, etc. These will do very nicely. :)

Honey Cornbread Muffins
Recipe courtesy The Neelys

Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:15 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 12 muffins.

Ingredients
•1 cup yellow cornmeal
•1 cup all-purpose flour
•1 tablespoon baking powder
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 cup whole milk
•2 large eggs
•1/2 stick butter, melted
•1/4 cup honey
•Special equipment: paper muffin cups and a 12-cup muffin tin

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

Num Yummy!


We eat a lot, and I do mean a lot, of chicken in my house almost as much as we eat pasta. So when I saw this recipe on the food network, I knew I would have to try it. :)

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:15 min
Inactive Prep Time:hr min
Cook Time:40 min
Level:Easy

Serves: 4 servings.

Ingredients
•1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
•1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
•1 cup shredded mozzarella
•1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
•1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
•1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•1/4 cup bread crumbs
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan
•1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish


Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Over

Baseball season is over. Dylan's team lost their playoff game last night 6-5 and were eliminated. It was an exciting season and I am sad to see it end.

Dylan mostly played left field where we watched him grow. By the end of the season he was catching balls like a pro. :)



At the end of the season, every boy gets a trophy. Here's my little man with his.




Even though the season is over, there will still be plenty of baseball for us. Dylan will be attending summer baseball camp and has opted to play in the fall instead of soccer.

Thanks to Coach Dom for a great season!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Natalie

 
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Dylan

 
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Strawberry Picking






We found our new favorite place to pick your own. It's called Jones Farm and it's in Shelton, CT. They had thee most gorgeous strawberries. They were sweet too.

And they have their own winery right down the road. So, Stew and I did a wine tasting after we picked some berries. I fell in love with a stawberry wine...YUM! SO much so that we bought two bottles of it. ;)

We plan to go back in July for blueberry season. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Game Ball



Look who got the game ball last week! Yes, that's my boy. He's having a blast playing and even wants to do fall baseball.

He was so excited to get the game ball. We even had to buy a UV protected case for it so he can display it in his room with his authographed balls. :)

Playoffs next week. Wish us luck.

Gooooooooooooooo Dodgers!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Little Artiste

Natalie loves to paint and draw and write poetry and short stories. So, when canvases go on sale at the craft store, I always stock up. That way, when we have an afternoon with little homework and no sports to go to we can spend it creating.

Here she is a couple of weeks ago painting a beach scene. Ahhhhhh. :)





Voila! The finished product...well almost. She wants me to sketch a palm tree on it and then she will paint it in. Wish me luck!

Signs of a Birthday

My little man is 11! WOW! Times sure does fly by when you are having fun. Here are some photos of the festivities! Happy Birthday Dylan!




Some super cool presents!







Really yummy cake.




Enjoying the company of a favorite cousin.




Celebrating with friends at a Met game.




How cool is it to have your name on the scoreboard at Citifield!? Pretty COOL!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Brownie Bars

Gonna make these for the kiddos today. YUM!



1 box (1 lb 6.5 oz) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box
24 craft sticks (flat wooden sticks with round ends)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
2 teaspoons shortening
Assorted Betty Crocker® Decorating Decors candy sprinkles

Total Time: 1 hour 50 min

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray. Make and bake brownie mix as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan, using water, oil and eggs. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
2. Place brownies in freezer for 30 minutes. Remove brownies from pan by lifting foil; peel foil from sides of brownies. Cut brownies into 24 rectangular bars, 6 rows lengthwise and 4 rows across, each about 1 1/2 by 3 1/4 inches. Gently insert craft stick into end of each bar, peeling foil from bars. Place on cookie sheet; freeze 30 minutes.
3. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and shortening uncovered on High about 1 minute; stir until smooth. If necessary, microwave additional 5 seconds at a time. Dip top 1/3 to 1/2 of each brownie into chocolate; sprinkle with candy sprinkles. Lay flat on waxed paper or foil to dry.


Special Touch
For more contrast, use white vanilla baking chips instead of the chocolate chips. Or melt dark and white chocolate for variety.

Nutrition Information:
1 Brownie Pop: Calories 180 (Calories from Fat 70); Total Fat 7g (Saturated Fat 2 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 20mg; Sodium 95mg; Total Carbohydrate 28g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 20g); Protein 2g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 0%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 0%; Iron 6% Exchanges: 2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 2
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Lawn Chairs

My first summer redo is my extra lawn furniture. We have a really nice patio set but when we have the entire family over we need extra chairs, etc. So, we just kept our old plastic set around for those occasions.

One day last week, while perusing the aisles of AC Moore armed with a 50% off coupon, I stumbled upon spray paint for plastic and thought why not. If it doesn't work, all I invested was about $3.00 and a few minutes of my time.

I bought it in espresso since it goes with my patio set.


So, yesterday, since we had a fabulous sunny day, I started with one chair.

Before my lawn furniture was a lovely faded green.



After two coats, I think it looks great. I am so impressed with the way this chair turned out that I am going to do the entire set.


What do you think?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

I've been avoiding you...

because as Randy Jackson likes to say...I blew my budget out the box. After going strong for the first two weeks of May, I needed 4 new tires for my car and our grill stopped working both in a matter of 2 days. I am not going to scare you with the cost and quite frankly I don't want to relive it. It's in the past. ;)

Then onto more bad news. I am a victim of the economy. I do not have a class for next year. There was talk of adding me as an extra to another classroom but that doesn't even seem likely at this point. The enrollment at school is so bad that I wasn't even needed for mini camp. Woe is me.

But, I am working on some things for the fall. Wish me luck!

And, in the meantime, I am getting busy on some redecorating projects. I need to focus on some positive things and since I will be doing them myself I will be saving some money as well.

I decided to share my projects with you because I feel like you hold me accountable and are great motivators. :)

To Do List:

-remove wallpaper from kitchen & paint it
-remove border from mudroom and repaint it
-remove border from kids' bathroom and paint it
*Starting to see a trend here?
-Spray paint my lovely faded green lawn chairs and table I bought espresso spray paint just for plastic. This will be my first project. I figure start with an easy one so I can finish it and don't get discouraged.
-repaint Natty's room. She is tired of the pink and to be honest so am I.
-Add some little touches to rooms that remain "unfinished"

My first order of business is my living room. It is completley furnished but there is nothing on the walls. I saw an idea online where they had a mirror above the couch and then it was flanked on both sides by framed photos. I fell in love with a sunburst mirror at Ballards but at $279.00 it was a bit more than I wanted to spend. So, after some searching online, I found this gem...



At $69.99 it is a steal.

I cannot wait to get it. :)