Friday, October 30, 2015

Fisher Price Friday - Happy Halloween



Whatever costumes they decide to wear I hope you and your little people have a safe and fun weekend! :)


For past Halloween Fun check out:


Thursday, October 29, 2015

8th Birthday Pottery Painting Party


My sweet girl turns 8 today!!  We had her birthday party last weekend and this year we did something easy.  I gave her a choice of a bigger party at home or a smaller party doing something cool (and that cost $$).  She chose the $$ party so she was able to invite 4 friends to join her at a Pottery Painting store and then frozen yogurt!  


We made the invitations out of a package from Target.  To make them a little more interesting I put a hole punch in the card and inserted a paint brush.  I had my daughter help me fill them out and took deep breaths when they weren't quite as perfect as I would prefer, ha!  (Note: I erased all personal info b/c this is the Internet after all!)







I reserved a table at As You Wish (a chain here in the Phoenix area) that happened to have a Frozen Yogurt store next to it.  Perfect!  The store had birthday party options but they were for larger groups (10 kids+) and cost almost twice what I wanted to pay. 



It took the girls 1hr 15 min from start to finish.  They were able to pick their objects (I gave them a $10 budget), their paint colors, paint brushes and then go to town.  The cost with tax for 5 girls was $88 total ($6 paint fee per child + objects + tax).  Not too bad and I didn't have to do the clean up.  I would advise that you have at least two adults to help with your party if you have 5 (or more) kids.  I was very thankful to have my BFF with me at the party!



Next we went to the frozen yogurt shop and the kids got to pick their own flavors and toppings.  Just a word of advice make sure to check ahead with parents on any allergies or sensitivities.  Better safe than sorry (we have a nut allergy friend).  

We opened presents (before eating) and the girls played/ate until their parents came.  So fun!  



The painted masterpieces needed a couple days to be fired so I went back a few days later to pick them up.  



We made personalized thank-you photo collages to give to each girl with her project.  The birthday girl helped me pick out the photos (that I took during the party) for each collage.  Super fun and only .39 each!  I made one for the birthday girl too with photos of her friends and the party title.



We put the wrapped finished masterpieces in a small bag with the thank-you notes and gave them to the girls.  Sort of a delayed goodie bag. :)



It was a wonderful party, almost too easy.  No favors, no cake and no clean up.  Now that's my kind of party.  And the birthday girl had the BEST time.

For more birthday parties check out:


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cinnamon Sugar Baked Donuts


I have a new obsession that is absolutely not helping with my quest to maintain a slender figure. :)  Donuts people.  Donuts.  Now, these are baked donuts which isn't as bad as a fried one, or at least that's what I keep telling myself.  Fortunately I did the math and these donuts are only 234 calories each which is totally doable!  

So get a donut pan (I got this Wilton Nonstick 6-Cavity Donut Pan on Amazon for around $7) and give them a try.  If you're already a baked donut fan please feel free to pass your favorite recipes on to me!

Cinnamon Sugar Baked Donuts
Ingredients 
3/4 cup flour 
2 Tbsp cornstarch 
1/3 cup sugar 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp nutmeg 
1/3 cup buttermilk 
1 egg 
1 Tbsp melted butter 
1 tsp vanilla 

For topping: 
2 Tbsp melted butter 
1/3 cup sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon (mixed together) 

Instructions 
1. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. 
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Add to the dry mixture and stir till just combined. 
3. Spoon batter into a ziplock bag and snip off the corner. Squeeze the batter into a well greased donut pan. 
4. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes. Let cool for a couple minutes, then remove to cooling racks. While still warm, brush all sides of each donut with melted butter, then dip in the cinnamon sugar mixture till well coated.

The recipe makes 6 standard size donuts which was perfect for my crowd.  You could always double the recipe if you need more.  These donuts were a huge hit with my littles and our BFFs that happened to be over for a playdate that morning.  Donuts + rain + besties = Living the Dream 



Friday, October 23, 2015

Fisher Price Friday - Juice Glass Collection Complete!

Happy Fisher Price Friday!  Today I've got an update on my small but finally complete juice glass collection.  This set of 4 glasses were made sometime in the 1970's or 1980s by the Anchor Hocking company and were available only by mail order.


I've been patiently waiting and searching for these last two glasses, it took me about a year to get all 4 glasses for my collection.  I found the angry boy to be the hardest to locate in my price range.  



The green glass has a blue mom with white hair on each side of it.  The blue mom was found in the original FPLP #663 Play Family Set.  Although the drawing also closely resembles the old woman from the #136 Lacing Shoe.  Either way she's not as common as the blue mom with yellow hair but my girls found a few around the house to fill up our cup.


The yellow glass has a green boy with a sideways red hat and a very disagreeable angry face.  I looked through our collection and wasn't able to find a boy that looked like him.  I dug a little deeper and couldn't find a listing of a boy like this anywhere.  I found the other angry boys shown above as well as one plastic green boy but as you can see none of them are quite right.  If anyone has a green boy with a red hat please let me know which set his was found in.  Otherwise I'm guessing that they just picked this color combination to make the glasses work.



Here's my collection!  Glasses like these are found on eBay or Etsy for prices around $99-200 a set or $25+ per piece.  Or if you're especially lucky you may find them at a garage sale or thrift store.  

Happy Hunting!

For more info on the other two glasses go here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Orzo Tomato Spinach Soup Recipe

I've been in the Fall spirit lately and finally, finally the weather outside here in Phoenix is starting to resemble Fall.  Well, that or we'd better build another Ark thanks to all the rain, hail and flooding but the temperatures are dropping so I'll take it!



I've been wanting to try this recipe from the blog the Little Spice Jar.  I made a few changes to work with the ingredients (and patience) that I had on hand, the recipe below is my version.  It turned out super although I think next time I'll cook the pasta separately and add it to the broth to keep it from turning into a pasta casserole the next day!

Orzo Tomato Spinach Soup
Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1¼ cup carrots, sliced into ½ inch rounds
1 cup celery
6 cloves garlic, diced
7 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup diced fresh basil
1½ cups orzo (whole wheat or regular)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon oregano
3 cups baby spinach, packed
salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute them for 4-5 minutes until they get soft. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and continue to saute for an additional 5-7 minutes. Add the stock, along with the tomatoes, basil, orzo, thyme, Italian seasoning, and oregano, stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and let the orzo pasta cook to al-dente, about 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Just before serving, add the baby spinach and continue to cook for 1 minutes or until the spinach gets nice and bright green and wilts down. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.



Note: Next time I'll cook the veggies separately from the pasta.  I prefer my carrots tender and 10 minutes was not enough time for them to be soft.  It took about 30 minutes so the pasta cooked longer than necessary and soaked up too much fluid.  It still tasted great but was more pasta dish than soup by the end.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fisher Price Friday - Jack and Jill Pocket Radio


It's possible I'm a tiny bit obsessed with vintage Fisher Price music boxes; but I can't help myself they're so cute!  Today I'd like to share our #772 Jack and Jill Pocket Radio Music Box.  This little plastic and wood music box was made between 1974-1976.  The #772 isn't the first Jack and Jill music box produced by Fisher Price there were two older and larger versions.  First the 1959-67 #148 Jack and Jill TV Radio and then the 1968-1970 #155 Jack and Jill TV Radio.


Now back to the #772 radio.  It has a red plastic front, a white lithograph wrapped around a wooden box and a blue and white vinyl strap.



Each side of the radio has a drawing of a white sky, green grass, butterflies and colorful flowers.


The back of the radio has a sweet drawing of Jack and Jill falling down the hill after dropping their pail of water.  There is also a cheery sun smiling down at them.  It's a cute drawing!



The rotating pictures in the front of the box have the same Jack, Jill and cheery sun as shown on the back. 





For More Music Box Radios Check Out:





Monday, October 12, 2015

Tasty Molasses Cake Recipe from the Kitchen House


A few weeks ago I read The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom.  The novel is set on a large plantation decades before the Civil War in Virginia.  It has a unique view following Lavinia, a young Irish orphan girl as she moves from the kitchen house to the big house.  Amazon describes it as a "heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds."

This book was difficult to put down and when I finally finished I wasn't ready for it to end so I went on to read the author interview and then study group questions in the back of the book.  In the author interview this Molasses Cake recipe was introduced.  The recipe (created by the author) was a modern adaption of a cake that would have been made in the pre Civil War time.  The minute I saw it I had to have it.  So....that very afternoon I baked this cake!  

My kids were confused as to why it looked like chocolate but tasted quite different, ha!  I am a huge fan of molasses cookies but still found this cake to be a bit lacking on its own.  I whipped up a quick and easy cream cheese frosting to make it even better (just cream cheese and cane sugar blended).

It was quite tasty, especially alongside a cup of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice coffee.  Ahhhhh, bring on fall already!! (Still in the 90's -100's here in Phoenix this week, boo!)  So get the Kitchen House on your kindle and whip up some cake.  Let me know what you think!

Tasty Molasses Cake

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 dashes ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch square baking pan.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg.  In a separate bowl combine the milk and the molasses.  In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Add each of these alternately to the butter mixture, beating well between additions.  Bake for approximately 45 min or until a toothpick comes out clean.



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lemon Chicken Spring Vegetable with Quinoa Soup




It is starting to feel just the tiniest bit like fall around here.  It is still in the 90s most of the time but we are having cooler nights and mornings and occasional rainy storms that bring the temps down into sweater wearing high 70's-low 80's. :)  So I decided to try out another chicken soup recipe, just to celebrate!  The recipe may have "spring" vegetables in it but they are all easily found around here right now.

This one was a winner by everyone in my family!  Well, the youngest had it deconstructed but she still ate it.  So give it a try and enjoy fall for me if you live in an area of the country that has actual cool weather. :)

Lemon Chicken Spring Vegetable with Basil and Quinoa Soup

2 tablespoons butter 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
3 carrots, peeled and diced small (multi-colored if possible) 
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press 
Salt 
Black pepper 
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence 
4 cups chicken stock, hot 
1 cup fresh English peas (or frozen peas) 
1 1/2 cup baby zucchini, small dice 
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed  
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
2 cups cooked quinoa  
¼ cup chopped, fresh basil leaves  
4 lemon wedges, garnish 

Instructions

Place a medium-large soup pot over medium heat; add in the butter and olive oil, and once melted, add diced carrots, and sweat for about 3-5 minutes, or until slightly tender.  Add in the garlic, and once that becomes aromatic, add in a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and the herbs de Provence; stir to combine. 

Next, add in the hot chicken stock, and bring to a gentle simmer; cover partially with a lid, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until carrots are tender. 

Turn the heat off; add in the English peas (or frozen peas), the diced baby zucchini, the shredded or cubed chicken breast, and the lemon juice; stir to combine, and allow the peas/zucchini to become crisp-tender and bright green in the hot stock, about 3-4 minutes; check to see if additional salt or pepper is needed. 

To serve, add about ½ cup of the cooked quinoa to a bowl, and ladle some of the soup with the veggies and chicken over top; sprinkle over some of the fresh basil, and squeeze in some additional lemon juice from the lemon wedge garnish, if desired.