Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Star Wars Birthday Party

In August my little man turned six.This past weekend Luke had a few of his good buddies over to help him celebrate with a Star Wars party. 
Once the theme was chosen the party came together vey nicely.
Last year we had a Lego/Star Wars theme so I was able to carry over a lot of the same game ideas.
Aren't these food signs cute?
You can find all the printables I used for the party here .
There really is a great selection of ideas out there on the internet.

I had planned for the kid's to color these upon arrival but they were so excited to play that I put them in their goody bags instead.
For the past several years I have scooped out ice cream the night before into a cupcake pan/liners and stored them in the freezer for the day of the party.
It is definitely a time saver!
I have always had lot's of fun making my children's Birthday cakes.
For this party I knew that I was short on time so I found a local grocery store who would scan an image and put it on the cake.
Here is my birthday boy!
He has lost 3 front teeth in the past 3 weeks.
His speech teacher is going to love it.
The boys skipped rocks.
Hunted for asteroids like we did last year during our Lego/Star Wars party.
Had light saber duels and played keep it up with the balloons.
This a photo of our light sabers we made last year. They have been used a lot in the past year
  so we had to doctor them up a bit.
I found colored duct tape at Party City and the kids were able to customize their light saber with whatever color/colors they wanted. They of course thought this was really cool!
Each child put their collected asteroids in their goody bag plus they went home with a cupcake, Jedi Knight certificate and their Padawan badge.
 The Star Wars cupcake set was purchased from William Sonoma.
I just love that store!
I am notorious for forgetting to hand out treat bags so this year I placed them on the stairs!
Happy Belated Birthday Luke!

Linking to: Tasty Tuesday

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Baba Ganouj/Ganoush - Eggplant Hummus

Yesterday I showed you the new grill my hubby purchased that we are loving. One of appetizers he likes to make using his grill is Baba Ganouj. I really do love that my man can cook!! Typically, I don't like eggplant, but when my hubby makes this I can eat the entire bowl.
Baba Ganouj/Ganoush
2 medium eggplants (1lb.)
4 garlic cloves unpeeled
1/4 cup lemon juice
2Tbs. Tahini
1 1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat grill to high. Prick eggplants with fork thread garlic on skewer. Grill eggplants and garlic till charred(see yesterday's grilling picture). When done cooking transfer eggplant and garlic to a cutting board and let cool. Peel both eggplants when cool. Transfer insides of eggplant to food processor or blender, add lemon juice, tahini, garlic and salt. Blend until smooth. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Serve with Pita bread and Enjoy!

Linking to: Tasty Tuesday

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Monday, September 10, 2012

An Impulse Purchase

My hubby came home with a new grill sometime in July so he could learn to make beer can chicken. Truly, I thought he was crazy for buying a grill to make one specific item when our gas grill worked just fine. I believe sometime later the words "I'm sorry honey you were right" slipped from my lips. We have now cooked steaks, hamburger's, hot dogs, eggplant and of course beer can chicken on the grill and it makes everything taste so much better than using our gas one!!!
To get started it really doesn't cost much.
He found this grill at our local Aldi's for around $30.

The Range Master model has worked well for us, however, after discovering how much we like this method of grilling we may need to get a larger one.

My hubby fills this cylinder with charcoal briquets, lights them and let's them heat for 20-30 minutes. He also puts dryer lint in the holes to help ignite the briquets.

He then soaks about 10 of these chips in water for 30minutes.Using a charcoal grill does take more time but if you plan for it I promise it will be worth it.
Sprinkle about 5 of the soaked wood chips on top of the charcoal at the start of your cooking. Then add five more as the briquets cook down. The hickory chips add a nice smokey flavor to your food.

 Sunday he made Baba ganoush with some of the eggplants we received in our CSA bag. I will post the recipe tomorrow.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Switching Gears

Labor day weekend I ran the 5k below.
Between my hubby and I one of us has participated in this race almost every year since 2005.
It was at this race in 2005 my son Jack became fast friends with his buddy Daniel.
They both had a love for trucks!
Here they are this past Monday.
It was a beautiful day to be on the lake.
My boys looooove tubing.
Good friend's are priceless!
Who knew that one race could bring two families together.
Bonus, our friend's just closed on their summer cottage so we will be able to see them more often.
After our fun filled weekend it was time to go back to school.
I needed to switch gears and get serious about meal planning. 
 We have football practice 3 nights a week so sometimes short cuts are in order. I will definitely be making these two dinner's this week.
Chicken Pesto
1. Boil pasta according to package directions and drain
2. While pasta is cooking take chicken meat off of the bone and chop into pieces
3. Add pesto and chicken to pasta in saucepan and heat.
4. I always add more parmigiano-reggiano cheese, garlic powder and a little salt.
Mom's Homemade Chili
2 pounds of  ground beef
1 can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1-1 1/2 green peppers finely chopped
1-2 onions finely chopped
4 garlic cloves (pressed or chopped)
2-28oz. cans tomato sauce
28oz. crushed tomato
3 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder (to your liking)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
Brown ground beef in a large stockpot. Then add all ingredients except the 2 cans of beans and cook until green peppers are soft (approx 1-1 1/2 hrs.) Add beans when there is only around 30min. of cooking time left so beans do not get soggy. Grate cheddar cheese on top and enjoy. 
Cheddar Corn Muffins
Make corn muffin mix from a box and add shredded cheddar cheese or jalapeno cheese for the adults!

Linking to: Tasty Tuesday
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Playing with Flowers

With less than a week until school starts I have been feeling a little sad. It seems as if Summer just started and I was looking forward to being home with my boys. So I thought it might help if I focused on something I love. Flowers! Every Spring I take pleasure in picking out flowers to add some curb appeal to our home. Are yard is not very big so my planting consists of window boxes, urns and a few hydrangea bushes in our yard. I can't say I have ever planted the same arrangement of flower's twice. I think I am still looking for that perfect combination.  Here is a comparison of what our annual flower's looked like.
I loved the color that this plant had to offer and it did get much fuller throughout the summer. But, it just didn't have the pizazz I was looking for.

This year I went for a plant that had some height and I really liked how it looked.
I will definitely stick with this flower next season.

These are the plants I used.

 I typically do a combination of red, white and blue in our window boxes.
 I liked how I did not have to dead head these petunias and they looked great all summer.

This year we did red wave petunias, white geraniums, one spike in the middle and vinca vine.

 This hydrangea was an anniversary gift a few years ago and we have several in our yard (they are my favorite flower).
We had a lot of blooms last year.

This year....only one bloom!
I don't know if it was the dry Spring/Summer or pruning them at the wrong time. If any of you have experience with these I would love to hear from you.

Not only do I enjoy picking our flowers but I also like receiving them! My hubby brought home this rose for our Anniversary and it still smells heavenly.


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Friday, August 24, 2012

My Favorite Summer Drink

In the summer one of my favorite drinks on a hot night is a Gin & Tonic. We had friends over the other night and they introduced us to a new kind of Tanqueray....
I could not believe the difference in taste!
It truly was the best Gin & Tonic I have ever had. This will now become a staple in our house.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to re-use your K-cups!

For those of you who know me, there is nothing I love more than the perfect cup of coffee! I used to love my French Press until my husband gave me a Keurig for Mother's Day last year. The only drawback was the amount of garbage we were producing by throwing away the K-cups after one use. I think we have solved this problem. You can see our solution as you read on.  This is the model we have for at home:

It is a B130 in room brewing system.
 You add water for each use.

At school we have the Keurig elite.
I love this one because you can keep the reservoir filled with water for multiple uses.

We try to be kind to our environment in our household so we purchased the Keurig K-cup re-usable coffee filter and filter basket. I really love this thing!

I recently found this little gem on the Internet but have not tried it yet. Some of the reviews say it has sharp edges and is difficult to snap on. It retails for 19.99 but might be worth trying.

This is how we re-use our K-cups at home!
Here's what you will need:
 A pair of sharp scissors
Your favorite coffee, ground on the espresso setting
Rinsed and dried K-cups
Press'n Seal
After the initial brew with our K-cups we rinse them out and let them dry. If the inside of the cup is  perforated you must throw the K-cup away(very important).
Fill the K-cup to just below the rim about 1mm. Enough so that the Press' n Seal will not touch the coffee when you are covering it.
Each K-cup requires 2 cut pieces of Press' n Seal cut into squares.
After about 4 cuts with the Press'n Seal we wipe the scissors down because they can become sticky.
Pull tight the Press-n-Seal one layer at a time(very important)!
If it is not tight it will not brew properly.
Press edges onto K-cup.
We use the assembly line method with these and do them in a mass quantity to make it time efficient for us. We usually get 3-4 more brews from our K-cups when we re-use them.
Do you see the hole the Keurig punches in the cup when you use it?
On the second brew just line up the cup so it punches a new hole. I have never lined it up exactly so that you use the same hole. It might work I just have not tried it. Before closing the Keurig make sure to run your finger along the rim of the K-cup to ensure it is sealed (important if the one you are using has been sitting around) otherwise you will end up with coffee grounds in your coffee.

I would love to hear how this works for you!


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