Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

From my little Peoples to yours, Happy Easter!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - (original) Play Family House

Just about a year ago I showed you the Play Family House #952 made from 1980-1988, the brown and white Tudor.  Today I'd like to go back and show you the original Play Family House #952 made from 1969-1979, the blue and white cottage.  I'd also like to show you the actual pieces that came with the house, rather than all the fun pieces my girls use.  Ha!
The basic design of the two houses is exactly the same.  The only differences are in the colors and lithographs.  This house has a masonite base (some of the brown versions had switched to plastic), a plastic roof and masonite/composite interiors.  I've found that the exterior lithographs on this version are more fragile and tend to peel easier.  I've used a little glue on mine here and there when I see them starting to come off.

I am showing mostly the 1971-1972 pieces.  The family was the same until 1976, so this is the pre-1976 (and all wood) version.  The only thing that is incorrect is the dog.  He's the right kind (all wood, straight down) but has the wrong colored collar, it should be yellow.  

The set came with two twin beds and one queen.  All were white (other colors included yellow or brown for this set).  Also a table and 4 chairs, they could also be brown or white.  Two armchairs and a coffee table came, but should all be the same color (unlike pictured).  They could be white, yellow or medium brown.  For the year I have pictured they would not have been the same color as the beds, they should be brown instead.  Other accessories included a staircase with closet (and a door that opens and shuts) and a car.
The first couple of years the car had a "c hook" on the back.  Starting in 1971 the hook was missing.  The car is the same as from the garage set #930 and has a gas hole and wheels that say "Fisher Price" on them.  Once the base changed to brown/white the wheels no longer said "fisher price".  

There were some changes to the lithographs on the inside of the house.  The upstairs master bedroom looks the same however.

The kitchen had a few changes.  There is no sliding door in the middle, instead there is a spice rack, sink and some flower pots.

The kids room looks the same.

The downstairs living room looks the same too, except the front door is white (instead of blue).  Note the ceiling lamp, isn't it cool?  It makes the front door "bell" ring.

Note the lithograph on the staircase.  The staircase was only included in the blue and white version, not the newer brown tudor.

The outsides of the house look different of course, to go along with the cottage theme.  Flowers and bushes on the side, a flowering trellis on the other.  And note the tiny bird nest.  So sweet!

The garage has a door to the house, a lamppost and a few stones.  The driveway is completely different from the tudor version.

Snoopy still has his dog dish and bone but nothing else about the back is the same.

Unlike the tudor version there are no additional children drawn in to the exterior.  Just flowers, grass and siding.

So which version to I prefer?  Why this lovely original cottage of course.  I got rid of or newer brown tudor version in favor of this one.  It was my 5 year old's favorite too.  I think it's more charming and dare I say vintage-y looking.

So which one do you prefer?

To see the newer 1980-1988 Play Family House (brown/white tudor) #952 go here.
To see the adorable Christmas Ornament version go here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Ice Cream

Doesn't that look lovely?  It's ice-cream season here in AZ again (although some could argue it is year round) and with the 80-90 spring temps I've pulled out my ice-cream maker.  I have an attachment for my KitchenAid mixer and it works wonderfully.

I decided to start off the new year of ice-cream with a new recipe.  I have the best book, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.  Ah, the spring and summer are going to be delicious!

First up, Chocolate Raspberry ice cream.  I called it chocolate raspberry truffle because it is so smooth and rich with a slight tart from the raspberries, ah, just like a truffle!  This recipe makes only 3 cups so you may want to double the recipe because it goes fast!

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop by Lavid Lebovitz
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen

1. Whisk together the cream, cocoa powder and sugar in a large saucepan.  Heat the mixture, whisking frequently until it comes to a full rolling boil (about 10 minutes for me, it will start to foam up).  Remove from heat and add the raspberries (I used frozen).  Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender.  You can press the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds if you want, I didn't take the time and enjoyed the little seedy crunch here and there. 
3. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze using your ice-cream maker.  After mixing in my attachment for 15 minutes I put the ice cream in the freezer (in a glass container) overnight to harden.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Little Helpers

This little one wanted to help me with dinner.

And I found this funny photo when my big girl helped herself to my iPad.

Love my helpers!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Taco Tuesday

It's Taco Tuesday!  We used to be a taco loving family but when we started making healthier eating choices they dropped off the menu.  I was hesitant to use packaged taco mixes and tortillas full of hydrogenated oils and other unpronounceable ingredients.

But then I found taco shells from my favorite store, Trader Joe's.  They're made with organic corn and have a sensible ingredient list.

Now all I needed was taco seasoning.  A quick search online and I found a make-it-yourself version.  Perfect!  Add some free range organic ground beef (from Costco) and we were set.

Taco Tuesday is back in the rotation.  Want to give it a try?  Here's my recipe, it made just enough for one taco night (the ground beef is about 1.5 lbs).  You could also double or triple the recipe if you wanted to store it to keep it on hand.

Taco Seasoning  
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion flakes (or powder)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion flakes, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container until ready for use.

To use: Use about 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning for every 1 pound of meat. Use more or less depending on your preference. Brown meat and drain the fat. Add your taco seasoning along with about 1/2 cup of water. Simmer and stir until water is absorbed. If you want more of a sauce throw in about 2 tablespoons of flour with the water.

I'd say this seasoning would be a medium on the spicy scale. If you prefer a more mild flavor reduce the crushed red pepper flakes and the chili powder and increase (in proportion) the garlic, cumin or onion. Another option (what we did) is to add more cheese and sour cream to our daughter's taco to make it milder.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Roasted Broccoli w/Garlic and Pine Nuts

Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Pine Nuts
Fresh Broccoli Florets (about 1 lb, I used a TJ bag)
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced (more if you love garlic)
1 Tbsp pine nuts
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425.  Place broccoli florets on a baking pan (I lined mine with aluminum foil).  If you are using fresh broccoli cut it into florets and make sure that they are VERY dry.  You may even want to skip washing it.  Wet broccoli = soggy broccoli.  Add sliced garlic.
2. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of olive oil over the top.  Add salt then toss to mix (I used tongs).
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until broccoli starts to look brown but not yet crisp.  Take out, mix up with tongs and add pine nuts.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the broccoli look crisp and a few are brown.
4. Remove from the oven and place in a serving dish.  Add the grated Parmesan.

Enjoy!  They are best eaten right out of the oven so don't wait.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Call the Midwife

As you may remember I am a big fan of a very popular British Show, Downton Abbey.  I was a HUGE fan until this last season but we won't go over that again now.  I wanted to tell you about another PBS show from England, Call the Midwife.

I discovered this show last year on my PBS player and absolutely loved it.  It takes place in the 1950's in the working class/poor area of London's (the East End) and follows a order of midwife nuns and midwife nurses.  It is fascinating!  Now, I have to put out there that if you are not interested in birth this is NOT the show for you.  Shouldn't be a surprise since it's about midwives, but I still want to state the obvious.  Each show has multiple births and let's just say these ladies are vocal.  I watch it after my girls are in bed and still need to turn the volume down here and there. :)

That said it is a lovely mostly uplifting period show that is a great little view into what birth looked like before modern medicine took it out of the home and into the hospital.  It is also a drama, complete with relationships (nurses not the nuns, ha!) and a few plot twists and turns.

The 2nd season starts next Sunday, March 31st on PBS.  You can see all the episodes from Season 1 online here.  Or look for them on Netflix.

So get going, you've got one week to catch up!

In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I've already started watching Season 2.  They showed in England awhile ago so I found them online.  I couldn't wait!  It's fabulous.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Play Family Children's Hospital People

I have a confession to make, I don't have the Play Family Children's Hospital play set.  I had a set, but passed it on when my big girl was just a baby.  At the time I thought we had too many sets, can you imagine?  Ha!

Anyway, I have the little people from the hospital set so I thought I'd talk about them today.  There are a couple unusual people in this set to be sure!

The Play Family Hospital #931 was made from 1976-1978.  It had quite a few pieces that were exclusive to the set, although most of the people were not.  It came with four white people; a baby, nurse and two doctors.  It also had a colorful three person family including a dad, mom and a girl.

The two doctors are not exclusive to the set.  They were also found in the #997 Village set (dentist or barber) as well as vehicle sets #123 and #126 as ambulance drivers.

The nurse and the baby are exclusive to this set.  The baby is basically a regular baby but without a bonnet or bib.  They tend to be difficult to find which of course means more expensive.  The nurse is definitely a unique person.  She has a white face mask, black eyelashes and a blond ponytail.  I find her a tiny bit creepy but my daughter likes her!

The hospital family are common pieces, found in many other sets.  

So there you go, all 7 of the Hospital people.  Note that this set did not have any variations with the people, which is unusual for a set!  Also, note that all of the people (and the hospital set) is made entirely of plastic.

ETA: I now have the Children's Hospital!  Go here for an entry on it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Easy Waffle Recipe

Sometimes I am unable to come up with a new dinner idea, or even think of something to look up.  On those (usually hectic) nights I resort to making Brinner.  In case you didn't know brinner = breakfast for dinner.

I may serve eggs and bacon, pancakes or even cinnamon rolls.  This week I decided to pull out the dusty and usually forgotten waffle maker.  I love to eat waffles, I just hate to make them.  It takes forever and I can't be bothered.  I decided to go for it that particular night because I remembered that my sister-in-law had given me a "easy" waffle recipe.  And easy it is!

So next time you're stumped for a dinner idea give breakfast a try.

Easy Waffle Recipe
2 egg yolks
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil (I used olive)
1 3/4 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg whites

1. Combine the egg yolks, milk and oil in a small bowl.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-large sized bowl.  Add the two bowls together.
2. Beat the egg whites (until stiff), then fold into the mix right before you are ready to put it in the iron.

I added whip cream and berries to my waffles.  The whip cream was made by combining heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.  I found the directions here.

Love Waffles?  Here are two more recipes:
Apple Cider Waffles
Goodnight Waffles (need to plan ahead for this one)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

(semi) wordless wednesday - hot air balloons made us tardy

We left for preschool on time (for once) last week but still ended up being late.  Can you guess why?

Why that's right, we were distracted by hot air balloons over our neighborhood.  I couldn't help but pull over and take a few photos and watch for a bit. As we went back on the road I realized these two balloons were headed right over the road.
So we drove under them!  This is the view through my sunroof.

Looking back, such a pretty sight.  Well worth being a little late. :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicken with Creamy Pesto Sauce

Sometimes you just want creamy sauce on your chicken, am I right?  I had a box of cherry tomatoes and some pesto in the refrigerator so I decided to whip up a sauce for my chicken.  It turned out pretty great and received high praise from my 5 year old.

Chicken with Creamy Pesto Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8-10oz (about 1 small pack) cherry tomatoes
1-2 tbsp pesto
3 Tbsp Sour Cream
3 Tbsp Heavy Cream

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan.  Add the chicken and fry without moving it until it takes on a bit of color. Turn the chicken and cook on the other side. Continue cooking for 12­-15 mins until the chicken is cooked through. Season all over with a little salt and pepper.
2. Halve the tomatoes and throw them into the pan, stirring them around for a couple of minutes until they start to soften.
then either:
Reduce the heat and stir in the pesto and sour cream/heavy cream until it makes a sauce.
Put the pesto and sour cream/heavy cream in a small pan and cook until heated, being careful that it doesn't boil.

Serve the chicken and sauce over rice or noodles.  I used angel hair and cooked my sauce separately for those in my family (ahem, my husband) that do not appreciate pesto as much as me and my 5 year old.

Note: I used pesto made from my easy mustard greens pesto recipe.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shamrock Kale and Fruit Smoothie

I've got a great breakfast or snack idea for St Patrick's Day tomorrow (or any day).  Green smoothies seem to go over better with little ones when you call them "Shamrock smoothies".  My 5 year old ate all of hers although I did have to clarify that it did not in fact have real shamrocks in it.  Ha!  The baby kept coming back for more, talk about a sneaky way to get greens in!

It's a pretty simple recipe, just throw in your favorite green leafy veggies and fruit!

Shamrock Green Kale and Fruit Smoothie
Small bunch of Kale (leaves only)
1 frozen banana
1 1/2 -2 cups of frozen fruit (I used strawberries, pineapple & mango)
honey or sugar (to taste)
1/2 cup milk or milk substitute

1. Place the kale in first, then the frozen fruit and milk.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Chunky People Books

I have something new today on Fisher Price Friday.  It's story time!  I have some fun 1995 Chunky Little People books that I wanted to share.  Instead of just showing photos I thought I'd upload a video of me reading them.

They are called "A Little People Book" by Fisher-Price and were all published in 1995.  I have three of the series, there are another 5 books that I don't have (yet).  Here are all the titles:

The Big Town Garage
Good Morning Farm
Whose Hat is That?
Here Comes the Circus Train
My Favorite Season
Here Comes the School Bus
The Fun Park is Open!
Blast Off!

Did that farm look familiar?  I don't have many chunky little people (made after the classic little people and before the current little people) but I did have the #2555 Farm for awhile.  See more here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe

You know I love crockpot recipes and this one had great ingredients.  I especially loved that it can be prepared way ahead in the freezer, weeks before cooking if you want!  This would make a perfect meal to give a new mom or sick friend.

Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken adapted from octobers morning
2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs)
juice of 2 limes (or 4 Tlbs concentrate)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
16oz frozen corn (1 bag)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cups black beans (or 1 can, drained)
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a big freezer bag.  Mix together and close the bag.  Keep in the freezer until you're ready to make it.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then place in your crockpot on low for 8 hours.

Serve over rice or in tortillas with your favorite toppings.  We added sour cream to ours.

Note: I don't use canned black beans, I make mine ahead from dry using a crockpot.  I freeze them in "can" amounts for recipes.  To learn how go here.

I was so excited about this recipe, it is perfect for those extra busy days when you want to do the crockpot but don't have the time to get it all ready before you leave for the day.   I also loved the smell when I was putting everything together, the fresh cilantro and the lime were very fragrant.

However, I thought the recipe turned out a little on the dry side and needed a lot of salt!  Next time I might add some more lime or perhaps a can of chopped tomatoes.  Something to give it a little more juice!  I might also check the crockpot and pull it out earlier than 8 hours.

If you make this one please let me now what you think!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

(semi)Wordless Wednesday - Messages from a 5 year old

My 5 year old has been drawing like crazy lately.  She's putting out a dozen drawings a day, usually for me or her dad.  Last night she was trying to get our attention (to come open more drawings) and made this sign for us.  In case you can't read 5 year old it says "Dad and Mom, I want you to come here".

Here are a few of her drawings.  They usually say "To mom and Dad, love (her name).  Or "I love you mom".  So sweet.  

They're not always sweet though.

Here's one I got last week after a particularly rough car ride.

"I don't love you"

Is it bad that this is my favorite one?  It made me laugh when I saw it.  I keep it proudly on my bulletin board in the kitchen.

Gotta love that girl!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

5 Life Lessons from The Bachelor

I realize that by writing today's post I am admitting that I watch the Bachelor.  Talk about a guilty pleasure show; 25 girls vying for one guy!  But hey, you know I'm fascinated by Polygamy and this is pretty darn close to that. ;)  I watched the very first season of the Bachelor many many (10) years ago back when I was still single myself.  For some reason I decided to try this crazy show again and wouldn't you know it was so bizarre that I found it entertaining.

Last night was the "3 hr Live finale" (which by the way is only 2 hrs and 7 min without commercials!) and the Bachelor Sean chose Catherine.  I watched it today since we don't have television at our house (it is available the next day online).  Like thousands millions of other women all across American I'm hoping these crazy kids make it work.  Although I've read that out of 10 years of seasons only 2 couples actually have.  Ha!

It wasn't just a guilty pleasure show though, I learned a few things.  Here are my top 5:

5 Life Lessons from the Bachelor
5. Don't drink on a reality show.  You may be nervous but trust me, you'll be sorry later.
4. There is such a thing as too much bling, makeup and big hair.  Less is more ladies, less is more.
3. You can only say "you're amazing" so many times before it starts sounding creepy.
2. Keep crying spells to a limit, it makes your face scrunch up and you look ugly. That and people don't take you seriously after awhile.
Last but not least:
1. There is no such thing as "the one". There are many people that we could be with, it's all about timing and making a choice.  However, as long as you're not being followed around by a 50 person crew and numerous cameras there isn't a rush to make a decision!  It's just weird to break up with one woman and get engaged to another on the same day.

Love on people, love on.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cold brewed Iced Coffee Recipe

I already have two favorite ways to make wonderful iced-coffee.  There is my easy iced-coffee recipe using a regular coffee pot to brew coffee then adding 1 fabulous ingredient.  Then there is my Keurig iced-coffee K-cups over ice.  So simple.

But...I saw this recipe on Pinterest and couldn't resist giving it a go.  Cold "brewed" intrigues me. How can you brew coffee using only ground coffee, cold water, a refrigerator and time?  Amazing.

The recipe I saw on the velvet bird also added flavor (cinnamon) but I used a pre-flavored ground coffee so didn't want to go overboard.  Otherwise I followed her recipe.

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee
2/3 cups of course ground coffee
3 cups cold water
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a mason jar; stir and let sit covered in fridge overnight. The next day pour coffee into a french press or strainer, then pour the strained/pressed coffee back into your rinsed out jar for storage. Fill a glass with ice and pour coffee over.  Add a milk or cream and more sugar if needed.

If you are particularly hip you will use your Mason jar as a drinking glass.  Or so I've seen. ;)

The coffee the next morning (before pressing).
Now, a word of warning.  From what I've read the cold-brewed method makes your coffee have a MUCH higher caffeine level than other methods.  Perhaps b/c the coffee is just chilling in the water ALL night sucking up the caffeine.  All I know is I was Buzzed with a capital B after drinking this coffee.

I think I'll stick with my regular coffee methods but I'll save this one in the back of my mind for an occasion like camping or when traveling without a coffee maker.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Western Town

Today's set is so perfect for my family since we live in the Southwest.  There are old western towns all over the place so this set is actually familiar looking to my kids!  It's the Play Family Western Town #934.  It was made from 1982-1984 and is a one-of-a-kind.  Well sort of.  It's really a remake of the 1977-1979 Sesame Street Clubhouse.  They took the clubhouse base and changed it around a bit to make the western town while still keeping some of the same fun features like the roof walkway, flip up roof and stairs on the side.

The Western Town came with 18 accessories (plus the base).  The four little people included a red cowboy, orange Native American Chief, blue Sheriff with a orange star badge (could also be silver, which is rarer) and a yellow lady with a green hat.  The yellow lady was the only figure made exclusively for the set, the other three were produced in people only western sets even after the Western Town stopped production (with a few variations).  

The other accessories included 2 horses (as shown, one brown and one black), 2 harnesses, one saddle, a stagecoach, orange stagecoach roof, wagon, crate and finally a piece of luggage (should be the same shape shown but in green).

The stagecoach could be either yellow or green.  Both colors had a orange removable roof.  The stagecoach roof is one of the most difficult pieces to replace, they are hard to find!  The coach holds two people inside and a driver up front.  There is space in the back or on top to hold luggage.  The coach is pulled by a horse of course that is wearing a a harness.  
Like the stagecoach the wagon could be either yellow or green.  However, it should be the opposite color of the stagecoach.  The wagon can hold two crates and one person (the driver).  It is pulled by the same harness and a horse.

Here we have the Native American Chief riding the horse with the saddle.  The saddle is another easily lost piece (trust me, we lost ours here in the house for a couple weeks).

Now to the play set.  It is all plastic with a few bright lithographs here and there.  The front has double turquoise doors (only the left opens), a window, flip top roof and a trap door that shoots a figure out the side.  Let me tell you, my toddler spends the longest time shoving little people through the trap door.  It's her favorite part!  The front also has stairs leading up to a deck area as well as the rooftop walkway.  The walkway moves via the brown crank on the left side and like the Sesame Street Clubhouse the pieces eventually drop off the side of the building.

Just a little note about the Native American Chiefs.  There are many many variations of them!  I've heard there may be as many as 13 different versions!  They have subtle differences including the colors on the headdress, color of the scarf, colors on the body, colors of the body and silver (or not) on the side of the headdress.  The 5 Chiefs shown here are all unique, can you spot the differences?  
There are a lot of cowboys and western figures too.  Perhaps another week I'll go into more details about all of them.
Happy Playing Y'all!