Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

What a lovely fall day, perfect for a visit to the pumpkin patch.

And maybe a hay ride. 

Hope you picked a good one!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vegetarian Lentil Casserole with Bell Peppers and Feta Recipe

I had a bunch of bell peppers last week and wanted to try them in something besides stir-fry and salads.  I did a little searching and found this lentil recipe, a little tweaking and it was perfect for our family.  Lentils are a fabulous legume full of fiber, protein, b-vitamins and 6 minerals.  Add some bell peppers and tomatoes and this is one nutritionally power-packed recipe!

The feta cheese made it child-friendly (my 6 year old never says no to cheese!) and the peppers made it adult friendly.  It's a winner!

Vegetarian Lentil Casserole Recipe with Bell Peppers and Feta
1 cup lentils
1 large onion, chopped small
2-4 garlic cloves, minced 
1 cup + 2 Tbsp vegetable stock or broth 
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (I used 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp oregano 
1 can (14.5 oz.) stewed tomatoes, drained and slightly mashed 
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped 
1 red, purple or orange bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped 
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a 2 1/2-3 quart casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. Combine lentils, chopped onion, minced garlic, vegetable broth, bay leaf, black pepper and oregano in the casserole dish and bake covered for 45 minutes.
2. While lentils bake, drain the tomatoes and mash gently inside the can with a fork. Cut seeds out of the bell peppers and finely chop.
3. After 45 minutes, take lentils out of the oven, stir in the crushed tomatoes, put the lid back on and bake for 15 minutes more. 
4. Take out again, gently mix in the finely chopped bell pepper and 2/3 of the Feta. Spread the rest of the Feta over the top and bake 15-20 minutes more (uncovered), or until the Feta is starting to melt and getting lightly browned. Serve hot. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fry Em'up at the AZ State Fair!

We went to the Arizona State Fair this weekend.  Here in Phoenix we do things on a different schedule, which means we have the fair in October/November instead of the summer.  Perhaps because the summer wouldn't be very fun with the 115 degree temps!  Although, this weekend's toasty 90 degrees was a bit hot too!

I haven't been to the AZ State Fair for about 6 years but we decided to give it another chance and to show the kids.  We packed up the little red wagon, the kids, my parents (in town visiting) and made the trek into central Phoenix to the fairgrounds.  We parked in the $5 lot and got in for $2 each ($2 before 2:00pm deal).

Now I grew up in a town that had the State Fair and when I think of fairs I think of food, FFA and pig races.  This fair was all about fried food, rides and more fried food.

This fried-fair-food thing has gotten a bit out of hand don't you think?  When I was a kid they had fried funnel cakes and a couple novelty fried items.  Today it seemed to be all we saw!  

I'm talking:

fried butter sticks
fried twinkies, oreos and snickers (it was a combo deal)
fried bacon (some were then dipped in chocolate)
fried watermelon 
fried cactus pads (that might have been good)
fried lasagne
fried pb&j

Just to name a few!  I was intrigued and repulsed at the same time by most of these! Also bacon flavored root beer?  And krispy kreme hamburgers? Say what?!?

Now if you can't get enough of these delicious treats I suggest you head over to the fair this friday.  There is one more chance to go to "Foodie Friday" where you can "taste the fair's signature items for $2 each".  Now that's all well and good but I've got to laugh because I really don't think "foodie" should be used where a pickle and a butter stick deep fried is considered food.  Ha!

Although we didn't go nuts with the fried foods we had a great time at the fair.  My daughter got to go on 3 rides for free!  Just by participating in Read and Ride.  If you have a child age 5-14 have them read 3 books and fill out the paper.  If they're under 6 they just need to draw a picture for each book.  Then you exchange it at the fair for a 3 ride pass.  

Good times!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Whistling Teapot

Today I have a first for Fisher Price Friday, it's a toy I don't like.  No really, this is the worst Fisher Price toy ever.  It's so bad that I don't even allow it in my house, it is relegated to the playhouse in the backyard. :)  It's a whistling teapot from the Whistling Tea Kettle Set #2113.  The blue handle goes up and down.  After being pulled up gravity pulls it back down on it's own (slowly), this movement is what makes the whistling sound.  The teapot may be bright and colorful but it has the worst sound in all the land.  I'm talking alarm clock beep, police siren, smoke alarm bad.

It's cute though.  The #2113 set came with a few other pieces including 2 coffee cups, 2 saucers and 2 spoons.  I don't have any of those pieces but I can tell you that they're orange, yellow and white.

The bottom of the teapot has little plastic pads for it to rest on.  Also the toy number and date.  This set was made from 1987-1989.  I'm surprised that they made it that long to be honest, the kettle is SO noisy.

Just in case you don't believe me I have a video of the annoying sound.  But don't say I didn't warn you!! 

So did you listen?  Do you have a headache now?  I tried to warn you, ha!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to Mess with your Friends on Pinterest

This week I was looking at Pinterest and noticed that one of my friends was pinning a lot of wedding photo ideas.  Since she's a happily married woman I couldn't help but wonder "what-up?".  Being the nosy friend that I am I messaged her to inquire about her recent pins.  She had a perfectly reasonable explanation (no divorce in sight, whew!) but that got me to thinking.  

I can't be the only Pinterest stalker out there.


Wouldn't it be fun to mess with our friends a little?

Basically you pin random things that will make your friends go "huh?".  

Here are a few ideas that I came up with to mess with my friends:

"How to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks" (Note: this works for me b/c I'm 112 lbs)
"How to grow your toe-nails at least 4 inches long"
"I love Justin Bieber" (post a bunch of photos of him - this works b/c I'm in my mid 30's and no woman in their mid 30's should be posting photos of that kid!!)
"Pinworm Home Remedies" 
"Health Benefits of drinking Urine"
"Shaving your head 101"

*Note: pretty much all of these ideas have ACTUAL pins, I looked them up.  

So give it a try and let me know how it goes. :) - No, I'm not pregnant, getting married or becoming vegan. I just pinned those things to mess with you.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Spring" Cleaning the Playhouse in October

It's that wonderful time of year here in Phoenix.  No, not Christmas but "fall".  Temperatures are dropping to the 60's at night and to the (mostly) 80's during the days so we start to leave our homes and actually spend time outdoors in places besides the pool.  We get to do fun things like walks to the park, playground play-dates that go on for hours and backyard adventures.  

We have a wonderful playhouse in the backyard for the girls but after a long summer of dust storms, monsoon rain showers and hot-hot temperatures it is anything but tidy!  This time of year we do a "spring" cleaning in the playhouse to make it ready for months and months of backyard play.

I have two little helpers to make the job go quickly.  We sweep the inside, shake out the rugs, wipe down all the toys and then sweep the porch.

Then voila, it's ready to play!

For more information on the playhouse go here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Orange Julius Recipe in the Vitamix

Most mornings these days I've been making smoothies in my new Vitamix blender.  I decided to adapt one of my previous favorite smoothie recipes, the Orange Julius Smoothie for use in the Vitamix.  I added a couple ingredients to make it a Raspberry Orange Banana flavor, but otherwise it's the same.

Kids loved it, I loved it.  It's a winner!

Raspberry Banana Orange Julius (copy-cat) Smoothie
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup raspberries
1 banana
1 1/2 cup ice cubes
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate

Place into the Vitamix (or blender) in the order listed.  Start on the lowest setting and slowly bring up to the highest.  Blend until smooth.

*note: I used a frozen banana and frozen raspberries.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Beauty Salon

My girls are headed to the salon today to get haircuts so I figured it was fitting to share one of our newest arrivals, the Little People Beauty Salon #2453.  This small 4 piece set was made in only 1990 and is designed to fit with two other sets; the Drive-In Movie Theatre #2454 and the Gas Station #2455.  Each set has a peg on one end and a hole on the other so they can fit together.  However, they also work independently.

Right now the Beauty Salon is our only "Village" piece but we're enjoying it all by itself.  I set it up next to the Main Street #2500 which works just fine.

The Beauty Salon came with 4 pieces; the salon base, pink hairdryer, car and a little person (girl).  The only variations are in the car colors and the girl (body/hair).

The pink hairdryer goes up and down and detaches.  As a result this piece is often missing from sets and can be difficult to find.  The chair that it attaches to swivels around and can face the tiny little mirror so the client can get a good view. :)

There were at least 3 variations to the Little People girl included in the set.  The two pictured as well as a orange girl with a brown bob.  I couldn't find her when I was taking photos, but if you look here you'll see her in the Jetport #933 set.

Inside the salon has tiled floors, the chair with hairdryer, mirror, swinging door and a window.  There are no lithographs or other decorations.

The outside of the salon has a phone booth on one side, molded into the plastic base.  There is also a slight ramp up to the front door.

My lithograph is a bit worn, but you can see the sign for the salon has a comb, strands of blond hair and a scissor.  The only words are "Fisher-Price".

The final piece to this sweet little set is the pink car.  There are (at-least) two variations to the car.   A white topped/pink bottom car (as shown) or a pink topped/white bottom car.  These pink cars were only made for the Beauty Salon and can be difficult to find at a reasonable price.  Since I have two little girls I decided a pink car was needed!  Fortunately I eventually found one at a not-too-bad price. 

ETA 12/11/14: I have both versions of the pretty pink car to show you.  I also found the missing orange girl! ;)

Since I have two little girls that love pink I'm glad to have both versions of the pink car!

Here's hoping our haircuts turn out as good as these little people's!  See you next week.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

(semi) Wordless-Wednesday - Guess the Candy

Can you guess what this candy is?  Or should I say was?  I discovered these bags in the back of my pantry the other day since I'd ahem...forgotten them there.  I had a valuable lesson on what happens to spun sugar when left for a few weeks.

They used to look like these lovely bags of cotton candy, favors at my niece's wedding.

Sigh.  Next time hopefully they'll get eaten before turning into a sugar rock.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Step2 All Around Canopy Wagon

We have a little red wagon at our house and it is quite popular with my littles.  My 2 year old asks every day for the "wagon".  She runs into the garage with glee when I tell her we're going for a ride.  Especially if she knows it's to the playground.

The wagon is a Step2 All Around Canopy Wagon.  It has a removable canopy, 2 seats (that fold down flat), seat belts and 4 beverage holders.  Also a sweet little "trunk" in the back.

As much as I love this wagon there is one slight defect, the canopy.  The plastic connector on the top unfortunately breaks easily.  Our first was replaced promptly by the Step2 company, but the 2nd broke just as quickly.  I'm able to still make it work with a little duct tape but it's annoying.

The seat belts are handy although my daughter plays with them more than she actually uses them. 
Our wagon gets lots of use with walks around the neighborhood, local festivals and trips to the school bus stop.

1st day of school!

Happy Riding!

*I got our Step2 Wagon through Amazon with free shipping!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - ABC Book

Happy Friday!  Today's Fisher Price Friday isn't a vintage toy, but there are lots of toys in it!  It's a My Fisher Price ABC's book that I made for my daughter's 2nd birthday.  I took photos of our vintage toys and used Shutterfly to make a book.

Some letters were more difficult than others but I managed to get from A to Z with only one typo, ha!

It's a fun book to share with my daughters and I am looking forward to making more books in the future.  I see a 1-2-3 book on the horizon. :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Chicken Potato Spinach Soup Recipe - Cooks in a Vitamix!

Did you know that you can cook in a Vitamix?  Seriously, it can heat up soups and other recipes just by running its powerful motor.  Amazing!  From smoothies to soups I'm impressed.  One of the first recipes I tried after bring my Vitamix home was this soup. 

Chicken Potato Spinach Soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup chopped onion
3-4 medium red potatoes (or 3 russest potatoes) 14 1/2 oz total, baked, halved, cooled and divided
1/8 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp spinach, cooked or frozen, thawed
5 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast, cooked and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
*green onion for garnish

1. Place broth, milk, onion, two potatoes and rosemary into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure the lid.
2. Select variable 1.
3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to variable 10, then to high.
4. Blend for 5 to 6 minutes or until heavy steam escaped from the vented lid.
5. Reduce speed to variable 3 and removed the lid plug.
6. Add spinach, one potato and chicken through the lid plug opening.
7. Blend an additional 5 to 10 seconds.

*Serves 2 adults and 1 child.

note: Blend times are for for room temperature ingredients, if using freshly cooked (hot) ingredients blend times may be reduced.

So easy, so yummy.  I still can't believe my blender can cook!

Monday, October 7, 2013

6 Other Uses for a Beverage Bucket

Do you have a beverage bucket?  Where do you keep it?  We bought our first bucket this summer for get-togethers and I decided that instead of storing it in the garage I'd put it to use around the house.  

Here are 6 ideas I came up with:

1. Photo Prop - Full of water or even empty a beverage bucket can make a great photo prop.  If you have a tiny tiny baby you can fill the bucket with blankets and put the baby (newborn) on top.  If they're a little bigger you can have them sit up in the bucket, so cute!  

The bucket is perfect for a baby, toddler or even a bigger kid!

2. Water Play - Even if you don't have your camera out the bucket is perfect for water-play!  Just add a few toys, cups or boats and your kids can go to town.  Easy clean up too.

3. Dog Bed - This next one surprised me I have to admit.  We had the bucket in our living room 4. Storing a Blanket for us and one day I saw our dog had ended up here.  So I grabbed my camera and took a photo of course.  Naturally this isn't a good fit if you have a regular sized dog, but if you have an Italian Greyhound or other small breed (or perhaps a bigger bucket?) they'll fit just fine. 

5. Toy Bin -  We decided to keep the bucket in our toy room for now as a toy/storage bin.  We keep it in the corner and have stuffed animals in it.  It would work for many different toys though including blocks, cars and dolls. 

6. Creative Play - A few times now I've discovered my kids playing in the bucket.  They pretend it's a boat, spaceship, bed, you name it!  It's great for creative play.

So go ahead, get your bucket out of the garage and put it to use somewhere around your house!

*I bought my beautiful bucket at Target.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Bossy Bell

Moo.  It's Fisher Price Friday and I have a sweet little pull toy to show you, it's the Bossy Bell #656. This is an oldy but a goody, made between 1959-1964.  I believe my version is the original one made in 1959.  Later versions included a green plastic hat and green wheels.

Bossy Bell is wood with lithographs on all sides.  She has wooden wheels but a plastic tail and horns.  Each side of the cow has the same lithograph, a furry cow hide, small pink udder (she's a mommy), blue butterfly and a wreath of flowers and fruit around her neck.  She also has big blue eyes and a nice smile.

Bossy Bell has a flower in her mouth and is pulled by a blue (or yellow) plastic string.  She has a metal bell attached that makes a lovely tinkly sound when she's pulled along.

Bossy Bell has curly hair on the top of her head, her name and the older FP logo.  Her plastic tail turns around when you pull the toy.

Isn't she adorable?

For more pull toys check out: