Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Trick or Treating and the preschool and playgroup Halloween parties are finally over! :)

Thomas the Train was very excited about his haul, whereas Bob the Builder was a little more reserved :)

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

List of 100 Foods That Everyone Should Try Once in Their Life

I originally saw this on Very Good Taste and thought it looked like fun!

"Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers."

Here is what you are supposed to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (no, but I have eaten alligator!)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Organic, Fair-Trade Chocolate

I subscribe to a number of blog's newsletters and feeds and today I received the Green Parent Daily Tip in my e-mail. In the e-mail she talks of Green Gratitude and one of the things that she lists as being thankful for is Organic, Fair-Trade Chocolate. Of this she says, "Honestly, I don’t know what it is that I have been eating my whole life…but it was not chocolate. It looked like chocolate and sometimes smelled like chocolate, but before I found organic chocolate I had never really tasted chocolate. Real chocolate. The kind of chocolate that could stop traffic. The kind of chocolate that makes your toes curl and your eyes water with sheer joy. Think I’m exaggerating? Then you haven’t tried it. I’m so grateful that the green movement has brough organic, fair-trade (ie guilt-free) chocolate in to my life. It has certainly made my life even sweeter!" (The Green Parent)

I have never had Organic, Fair-Trade Chocolate and this comment totally makes me want to give it a try! Does anyone have any suggestions on specific brands that are good?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway time again!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

I love cooking with my slow cooker and my absolute FAVORITE slow cooker recipe is this one that I found awhile ago on Recipezaar:

Crockpot Roast:

1 beef roast, any kind
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package brown gravy mix, dry
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package ranch dressing mix, dry
1/2 cup water

1 Place beef roast in crock pot.
2 Mix the dried mixes together in a bowl and sprinkle over the roast.
3 Pour the water around the roast.
4 Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

I also add carrots, potatoes, and onions to it.

It is so easy and so good!!

To go along with this theme, one of the best slow cooker cookbooks that I have found is:

Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker

For this giveaway I am giving away a brand new copy of this book!

Here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment posting your best recipe (doesn't have to be a slow cooker recipe)

2. One entry per preson

3. Leave a valid email address so I am able to contact you if you win (if your profile is private or you do not have a blog)

4. US only

5. Ends November 1st, 2008 at 4:00PM CST

6. Winner will be selected at random and will have 48 hours to respond with shipping information

Crab Casserole

I had a package of imitation crab in the freezer that I wanted to use up so I went in search of a recipe online for dinner tonight and here is what I came up with:
I found a recipe for
Pasta Crab Casserole on Recipezaar and modified it a little:


8 ounces uncooked shells pasta
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter or margarine
16 ounces imitation crabmeat, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


1 Cook pasta according to package directions.
2 Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute onions, mushrooms, green pepper and garlic in butter until crisp-tender.
3 Remove from heat.
4 Drain the pasta and add to the vegetable mix.
5 Stir in remaining ingredients.
6 Transfer into 13 x 9 inch greased baking dish
7 Sprinkle with cheese
8 Cover and bake at 350ยบ for about 35 minutes or until warm through.
9 Uncover and bake for 5 minutes more.

My husband who doesn't normally like casseroles actually liked it! I thought it was pretty good but I think I would add more green peppers or veggies next time.

Saving Energy

I am always looking for ways to cut my electric bill. We turn out lights when not in use, have switched to mainly CFL bulbs, keep our thermostat low in the winter, unplug small appliances when not in use, but the one thing I haven't been actively doing is turning a power strip off on computer and all devices used with computer and the TV, cable box, etc. I know that I should do it but on both my TV and computer ours are extremely hard to get to which just makes leaving it on sometimes easier.

I was looking at Home Construction Improvement and they have a post on Home Energy Saving Tips. One of the things that they recommend is the Smart Strip LCG3 Energy Saving With Autoswitching Technology.

From Amazon: "Ten outlets work together, autoswitching your devices on/off automatically, to save you money on your electric bills." So basically if you use it on your TV when you turn the TV off it automatically turns off power to all of the other connected devices. It is a little more costly than the standard power strip but the reviews look great!

Another interesting device that I saw while I was looking on Amazon is the Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor.

From the product description: "... you can cut down on costs and find out which machines are actually worth keeping plugged in. Simply connect your appliances to the Kill-a-Watt electricity usage monitor and it will assess how efficient they really are. The unit's large LCD display counts consumption by the kilowatt-hour, the same as your local utility. You can calculate your electrical expenses by the day, week, month, or year while also checking the quality of your power by monitoring voltage, line frequency, and power factor. Now you'll know if it's time for a new refrigerator or if that old air conditioner is saving you money."

I think it would be very interesting to plug in certain appliances and electronics in my house to see just how much energy they are using!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Microwave your toothbrush?

On the Reader's Digest site they have an article about how to prevent yourself from getting sick and list 23 things to do to reduce your chance of getting ill. I found it to be a very interesting article!

Some tips are commmon things like washing your hands and using hand sanitizer.

However, there are some more unique ideas (to me anyway) like:

"Run your toothbrush through the microwave on high for 10 seconds to kill germs that can cause colds and other illnesses. You think it gets your teeth clean -- and it does. But once you're done brushing, your toothbrush is a breeding ground for germs. Sterilize it in the microwave before you use it, or store it in hydrogen peroxide (rinse well before using), or simply replace it every month when you change the page on your calendar and after you've had a cold."


"Leave the windows in your house open a crack in winter. Not all of them, but one or two in the rooms in which you spend the most time. This is particularly important if you live in a newer home, where fresh circulating air has been the victim of energy efficiency. A bit of fresh air will do wonders for chasing out germs."


"Inhale air from your blow-dryer. It sounds nuts, we know. But one study conducted at Harvard Hospital in England found that people who breathed heated air had half the cold symptoms of people who inhaled air at room temperature. Set the dryer on warm, not hot, and hold it at least 18 inches from your face. Breathe in the air through your nose for as long as you can -- 20 minutes is best."


"Take a garlic supplement every day. When 146 volunteers received either one garlic supplement a day or a placebo for 12 weeks between November and February, those taking the garlic were not only less likely to get a cold, but if they did catch one, their symptoms were less intense and they recovered faster."


"Eat a container of yogurt every day. A study from the University of California-Davis found that people who ate one cup of yogurt -- whether live culture or pasteurized -- had 25 percent fewer colds than non-yogurt eaters. Start your yogurt eating in the summer to build up your immunity before cold and flu season starts."


"Scrub under your fingernails every night. They're a great hiding place for germs. "

For the full article go HERE

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Grab Bag Numbers - New Twist

We tried a new twist on the grab bag numbers game (see previous post) this morning which required a little more thought on my son's part.

We used the same "pick a number out of the bag" idea except instead of using beads to count I had him make a tower with LEGOS with the number that he chose :) He enjoyed this version a little more than the other one, plus switching it up a little keeps him from getting bored!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Grab Bag Numbers

I found this little Grab Bag Numbers math game at and while my younger one was napping I played it with my 4 year old. We started with 1-20 and used beads as the objects to count. It held his interest for about an hour :) I think I will write out the actual words for the numbers next time as that would be much more challenging for him and help him to learn to read as well!

Here is the info:

"Want to help your preschooler get comfortable with math? Get out the grab bag! This hands-on game helps kids learn to associate numbers with sets of objects—a key early math skill. And all you need is a set of index cards, pennies, and a paper lunch sack.

index cards
1 paper lunch bag
20 – 30 pennies, buttons, or small blocks


Prepare: Gather 10 index cards and write a different number, from 1-10, on each. Get your child’s help on this part. When each card has a number, fold it in half and throw it into the lunch bag.

Play: Give your child some pennies to use as counters. (Buttons or small blocks also work well, if your piggie bank is looking a little slim!) Ask your child to close her eyes and pick a card from the grab bag. Once she’s chosen a card, she should open it up, look at the number, and then use her counters to show the quantity written on the card. For example, if your child picks the number 5 from the grab bag, she should place five pennies next to the numeral card.

This activity may seem very basic. But it’s actually a pretty big leap for young children to move from simply naming the numbers, to associating them with objects in the physical world. This game makes a perfect independent activity when you’ve got a few minutes to fill, and it reinforces one-to-one correspondence, which is just a fancy term for being able to match numeral symbols to their appropriate quantities.

As your child matures, up the grab bag ante with larger numbers, such as 11 to 20. And as she takes her first steps towards reading, make a set of cards that uses the number words along with the number symbols."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

French Honey Bread

Colder weather again today so I decided to make a nice, warm loaf of bread with dinner tonight. This time I tried the "French Honey Bread" and it was very yummy! It was slighty sweet but not too sweet!

Here is the breadmaker recipe for a medium loaf:

3/4 C water
2 tsp honey
2 tsp olive oil

2/3 tsp salt
2/3 tsp sugar
2 C bread flour (I used 1 1/2 C bread flour and 1/2 C whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cake Wrecks

I don’t make “fancy” decorated cakes – ever. Despite my lack of interest in that area I have become very drawn to the Cake Wrecks blog! It is absolutely hilarious! (be sure to read the commentary and not just look at the pictures!) There are also some amazing cakes on there like this Lego Batman Cake created by Elisa Straus over at Confetti Cakes - WOW!

I would love to try to make cute cakes for my boys, obviously I will never ever be at the skill level to make the Batman cake, but I see that she Elisa has a new book that looks very inspiring. It is called "Confetti Cakes For Kids: Delightful Cookies, Cakes, and Cupcakes from New York City's Famed Bakery"

Here is what the product description says at Amazon:

“Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes has created confections as elaborate as a platter of sushi, a wine bottle in a crate, and a designer handbag. Now she focuses her talents on her younger fans with this enchanting collection of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes for kids. Strauss starts readers off with 20 delicious recipes and all the basic techniques needed to complete any project in the book. Then she offers step-by-step instructions for 24 jaw-dropping designs that can become the centerpiece of any celebration. Projects span the imagination--from a charming sock monkey, to an MP3 player, to playful hula gingerbread girls and boys--and will appeal to anyone looking for the perfect way to thrill a child with a delectable, spectacular creation.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

1 Bag, 5 Dinners

I get the Kraft Food & Family newsletter e-mails and went to their site to look around today for some good recipes when I saw their "1 Bag, 5 Dinners" section where they basically give you a list of items that fit in one grocery bag that will give you 5 meals.

They all look super easy to make and some look pretty tasty! There are a few different "bag" choices depending on what you like. For instance you can choose Chicken & Seafood, Beef & Pork, etc. You click on the last part and they give you a shopping list and all of the recipes to print out at once. I may try it one of these days. I think I will start with "Bag 3" - chicken and beef - looks good! Just an idea for when I am feeling too lazy to meal plan on my own!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Crafty Saturday

I attended a crafting day at a local church this past Saturday and had a great time making lots of cute things.

Here are two of the things that we made:

Tile Coasters ( I love these!)

Decorated Paint Can w/ advent calendar in it

Friday, October 10, 2008

Most Haunted Live

I love October because it is the month when The Travel Channel and other various channels focus on shows about hauntings! I love watching about, reading about, and visiting places that are rumored to be haunted. I especially love watching shows about places that I have been. For instance, when I visited Louisiana we went to many of the plantations in the area that were said to be haunted, like The Myrtles plantation which was just featured on a show a couple of days ago.

Tonight on The Travel Channel they are going to have Most Haunted Live:

"Join the Most Haunted team on Friday, Oct. 10, for the first-ever live broadcast from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the most haunted town in America.

Starting at 8 p.m. ET, The investigative team will begin an extraordinary seven-hour LIVE paranormal investigation of some of the most historically significant locations and landmarks in and around Gettysburg.

For three long days in 1863, the South and the North faced off in the deadliest clash of the Civil War: The Battle of Gettysburg. Every two seconds a man was shot, the streets ran red with the blood of the dead, and nearly every dwelling served as a makeshift morgue or hospital.

Viewers at home will be able to take part in this interactive investigation by monitoring live webcams and communicating with the team via the message boards, text messaging and psychic art.

Join Yvette Fielding and the rest of the Most Haunted team as they scour the streets of Gettysburg in search of the spirits left behind."

OK, so there is no way that I will watch all seven hours of this but it does sounds a little interesting. I love things like this!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

No-Bake Clay

I was looking for a fun craft idea for my children this morning and came across a recipe for "No- Bake Clay" at So far my children haven't decided what they want to make with it to keep and have been just having fun making things and then smashing them up and making something else :)

No-Bake Clay Recipe

1 cup corn starch

2 cups baking soda

1 1/4 cups cold water

several bowls

Food coloring


Paper plate

Small towel or cloth



Mix a few drops of food coloring into the water and stir until combined. Then put the water, baking soda, and cornstarch into a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture feels like cooked mashed potatoes. Remove from heat, put it onto a paper plate, and cover with a damp towel until cool. Repeat this process for any additional colors you'd like to use.

When the mixtures are cool, knead them until the clay feels smooth and pliable. Then cover the kitchen table with newspaper, sit your child down, and give him a go! Depending on the time of year, he can sculpt something with a holiday theme (like a snowman, a pumpkin, a ghost, or a flag) or he can just use his imagination and create something with nothing to do with the holidays (fruit, shapes, a car). Whatever he creates, let it dry overnight. In the morning, it will be ready for final paint and decorations

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chicken Casserole

Looking through my recipes and trying to come up with meal ideas I just realized that I haven't made my favorite Chicken Casserole in forever! With his chilly weather that we have been having lately it would be the perfect meal! It is SO good!

Chicken Casserole

1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice
2 C cooked chicken
1 sm onion, chopped
1/4 C green pepper, chopped
1/4 C red pepper, chopped
1 C shredded Monterey Jack, divided
1 C shredded Cheddar, divided
12 oz egg noodles, cooked and drained

Combine soup, mayo, lemon juice.
Add chicken, onion, peppers, 1/2 C Monterey Jack, 1/2 C cheddar.
Mix well.
Add noodles and toss to coat.
Transfer to greased baking dish.
Bake uncovered at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining cheeses.
Bake 10 minutes longer or until veggies are tender and cheese is melted.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Crayola Triangular Crayons

While my oldest was in preschool the other day I went shopping at Target. While at Target I always have to check out the clearance sections and in the school supplies area I found Crayola Triangular Crayons marked down to .74. I don't know why I had never heard of these before but on the box it says that they "promote proper writing grip" because of the triangular shape. Since it has been a struggle for me to get my children to consistently hold writing utensils correctly I decided to give them a try. I love them! They really "make" your child hold in the correct spots! I only wish I had bought more than one package!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Grape Nut (Nutty Nuggets) Bread

My husband requests Grape Nuts cereal. I do not buy cereal unless it is on sale so instead I bought Roundy's store brand version called Nutty Nuggets. My husband decides after a bowl of them that he does not like Nutty Nuggets. Wonderful - so now I have a nearly full box of Nutty Nuggets and what do I do with them??

While I was going through "The Bread Machine Cookbook" what do I come across but noneother than a recipe for "Grape Nut Bread!"

Not sure if I, or anyone in the family, will like it, I decide to make it. Actually I let my 4 year old make it :) My husband, while he didn't like the Nutty Nuggets plain, LOVED them in the bread! My children both gobbled it right down too!

For a medium loaf, the recipe is:

1 C water
2 T vegetable oil
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C Grape Nuts cereal (as stated I used Nutty Nuggets! :) )
2 C bread flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Lots of great vitamins and minerals in the cereal!

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