Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

I have joined the world of Instant Pot (electronic pressure cooker) cooking!  I've been thinking about getting one for over a year but finally pulled the trigger after Thanksgiving when the prices were so low.  I decided it could replace my beloved and well used rice-cooker and also work for crock-pot type recipes in a fraction of the time.

It took me about 2.5 weeks to take it out of the box after it arrived, as I found the prospect of learning a new electronic device intimidating. ;)  However, it really wasn't a big deal once I gave it a try and this easy-peasy chicken soup recipe is proof!  It was the first recipe that I made and turned out great.

I made my own recipe using many of the ingredients from my crock-pot chicken soup recipe, but with Instant Pot soup directions. 

For the original crock pot/slow cooker recipe go here.

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

1 lb chicken breasts (mostly thawed)
3 carrots chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 bay leaf
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
*cooked noodles or rice

1. In the liner pot add the vegetables, then chicken, then herbs.
2. Add 4 cups chicken stock and 2 cups of water.
3. Close the lid tightly and make sure the vent is closed.
4. Press "SOUP"
5. When the timer goes off let the pressure release manually for about 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*Serves about 4-6

Feel free to add cooked pasta or rice.

For my favorite Crock Pot Chicken Soup recipe go here.

To get your own Instant Pot check out this one on Target, or this one on Amazon.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Have a Merry Little Christmas!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior who is Christ the Lord.Luke 2:11

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - Christmas presents tonight!

Tonight is the night, we're ready to open presents! It's later than usual for us but with the kids in school all week I didn't want to open them yet.  I've got everything wrapped and the Fisher Price Lift and Load Railroad #943 under the tree.  Thanks to a wonderful Santa's helper we have a working train engine just in time, hooray!!

The kids get out of school early today and they'll be thrilled to see it this afternoon.  I love to leave at least one present unwrapped for them to see right away.

Merry Christmas present opening day!! 🎄🎁 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

UFF-DA Calling all Norwegians

Any other Scandinavians out there?  I'm a proud Norwegian-American, my grandparents on both sides (except one Englishman) were Norwegian.  Hey, that blond hair comes from somewhere am I right? ;)

Anyway, when I saw this UFF-DA t-shirt on Target I had to have it!  It's part of their Todd Snyder Minnesota Local Pride collection.  There is a women's and a men's version.  They're only $14.99 and right now they ship free.

I'm planning on wearing it next week when I'm visiting my mom.  She's got one too so we can be matchy-matchy while making Krumkake, Lefse or Lutefisk.  So excited!

If you're Norwegian too go get one!  

Details: I'm wearing a size Small, I'd say it's pretty true to size since it's a little big on me and I usually get XS.  It's 100% cotton, short sleeved and $14.99.

To see more of my family's Norwegian pride check out my mom's Norwegian-inspired/themed Tiny Home Beach Cottage.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Gift Ideas for Loved Ones with Dementia

If you have a loved one with dementia picking out gifts at the holidays or birthdays can be especially challenging.  I know first hand as my father has been living with dementia (Alzheimers) for over a decade now.  In case you are looking for a last-minute Christmas gift I thought I'd share some of the presents we've given him in the last couple years.

Photo Books

Personalized gifts have been the most successful.  I started out a few years ago by making a photo book (from Shutterfly) about our immediate family.  I included photos of his three children and my mom.  I selected photos of us together with him through the years from infants to present.  I added a little bit about his grandchildren, but not much as there are so many (8) and they keep changing. :)  

Dad's book about his family.

Dad reading one of mom's year-in-review books.

Mom would bring it on their trips out to visit me and he'd look at it over and over, for hours sometimes.

1. Write simply, short sentences with large font.  
2. Quality over quantity, don't put too many photos on one page.
3. Include names, put them on every page if possible.

This book and other Shutterfly year-in-review books that my mom made have been very well used the last few years.  My mom now brings a book or two with her every time she visits Dad and they go through them together.  I can't recommend a book enough!  You can do children, marriage, favorite pets, etc.

Photo Pillow

Last Christmas I made my dad a personalized throw pillow (also from Shutterfly).  We knew that it would be his last Christmas at home, so I thought it would be a good transition object when he moved to the memory-care facility.  I put a photo of mom and dad on the front and on the back smaller photos of him with us kids and mom.

It was a huge hit.  Dad looked at it over and over after opening the present and kept remarking at his photo on the front.  He was amazed that it was them!  A couple months later when he moved the pillow went with him, and the staff use it as a transitional object to get him into bed or his room.  Saying "lets go see your wife".  

It has amazingly remained in his room and hasn't needed to be laundered as it stays on top of the bed during the day but they place it up when he's sleeping.  It is washable however.  The quality was pretty fabulous too!


Once dad moved to the memory home I had a big enlargement made for his wall, a photo of my mom.  That way he can see her smiling face all the time.  This Christmas I'm gifting another enlargement, this time of his girls (mom, me and my sister).

1. Posters of favorite pets, vehicles or vacation spots would be great ideas too.

Other ideas:

Simple Photo puzzles.
Personalized photo mugs.

So there you go, a few ideas to help bring their past into the present.  

Merry Christmas and I hope you are able to make treasured memories with your loved one, remember to take lots of photos!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - Christmas Presents Sneak Peek :)

We're just a few days away from opening Christmas presents since my family can never wait until the 25th.  It's usually between the 21st-23rd that we decide to "do Christmas".  As the kids get older it's getting worse since I'm the only one trying to hold them all off (my husband started this tradition even before we had the kids)!

Anyway, although the majority of the toys and gadgets we buy the kids are new, I have to slip a few vintage toys in there.  At least for one more year!  Here is a little sneak peek of what I've picked out for my youngest (5 year old).

She's going to flip over the My Friend Nicky doll.  She saw me looking at My Friend dolls on eBay a couple months back and when she saw Nicky she told me that's the one she wants for Christmas.  Of course my daughter has NO idea that these are 30 yr old dolls and not super easy to get in a new condition.  She thinks I can get it at Target. ;)  But I looked for awhile and finally found one NIB that is perfect.  She's going to be a great friend for her Special Birthday Mandy #4009 that she got for her birthday this summer.

I also found a brand new roller skating outfit made between 1981-1985 that is new in the package.  Amazing.

And last but not least the Lift & Load Railroad #943.  That present just arrived last night and although I'm very excited that it has a box and almost all of the pieces I was disappointed that the almost 40 year old wind-up train engine no longer winds. :(  Aging is tough on all of us, even toys.  Ha!  So I'm on a last minute hunt to find a (working) replacement for the engine, here's hoping!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Fantastic Pumpkin Pie Recipe

My girls and I made an old fashioned pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year.  We had dinner with my in-laws so only had to bring this pie and some ice-cream.  Since I didn't have to make anything else I decided to do both from scratch.  The pie recipe turned out amazing, and not bland like the store bought kinds.  This is partly because of a spice mix-up.  I was using a recipe from simply recipes and when I got 1/2 way through the spice ingredients I realized I was missing a couple.  So...I substituted with pumpkin pie spice and it turned out great.

We served ours with fresh whipping cream (my favorite!) but it would also work with ice cream.

Flavorful Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie

2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups of pumpkin from a sugar pumpkin or from canned/boxed pumpkin (I used an organic box from Target)
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pie crust

1 Preheat your oven to 425°F. 

2 Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, spices—cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice. 

3 Mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cream. Beat together until everything is well mixed. 

4 Pour the filling into an uncooked pie shell. Bake at a high temperature of 425°F for 15 minutes. Then after 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (Check on your crust halfway through, if it is looking too brown add some foil or a crust protector).

5 Cool the pumpkin pie on a wire rack for 2 hours. Note that the pumpkin pie will come out of the oven all puffed up (from the leavening of the eggs), and will deflate as it cools. 

Serve with whipped cream.

Note: This recipe made more filling than would fit in my regular pie crust.  I filled a small baking dish with the remaining filling and had a crust less personal sized pumpkin desert to eat first. :)

For my delicious (and easy!) Vanilla Ice Cream recipe that tastes just like Haagen Dazs go here.  Also check out my cute container that I put the ice-cream in, a fun and fancy touch.  My container was designed but how fun would it be to purchase some white ones and decorate them yourselves (or have the kids do it).  Perfect for gifting!  You can get pint sized containers on Amazon..

Monday, December 5, 2016

Winter Styling thanks to Target Part 2

Last week I shared my youngest daughter's newest winter gear, thanks to Target.  Well I didn't want to leave my big girl out so when she had a head-to-toe Target day I had to share it with you.

She's got on her new Cat & Jack Anorak coat (check it out, they've been having amazing sales lately).  It has a removable fur trim.  Now it isn't super heavy, but this is an Arizona winter we're talking about. :)  We'll add more layers when we visit the family in Washington.

Next up is her favorite-to-wear-to-music-class long sleeved t-shirt.  By Cat & Jack naturally and only $7!  Her jeans are the same dark wash jeggings from last week.  They're on heavy rotation right now.

Last but not least she's got some adorable boots, also from Target but those cuties were from last season.  They have some even cuter shoes this year, have you checked them out lately?  So so cute.  We've got some adorable leapard print boots for her coming in the mail, can't. wait. 

So there you go.  My girls + Target clothes = Happy Mommy

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - Decking the Little People Tree

Ah Christmas, my favorite time of the year!  The girls and I set up our Christmas trees last week including our favorite Fisher Price Ornament tree.  The kids enjoy looking at every ornament as we unwrap them and carefully place them on the tree.  So far we haven't broken any although I can't say the same for the regular family tree, we're down 2 ornaments already. 

Since some of these FP ornaments are worth quite a bit of money (specific Hallmark ones), we are SO very careful with them.  Yet I want the kids to enjoy them too, it's a sticky-wicket. :)  

My youngest is loving the View Master ornament the best, she loves that she can operate the slides herself. 

The Dept 56 ornaments are so heavy (made of resin) that my little tree can't hold most of them.  Fortunately they look pretty cute under the tree.  

For past Fisher Price Christmas decorations check out:

2015 Decking the Halls 
2015 Merry Little People Christmas
2014 A Frame Holiday Lights
2013 Merry Christmas Play Family House
2012 Merry Christmas Play Family Rooms

To see more Fisher Price themed ornaments check out these prior posts:

For Hallmark Fisher Price Ornaments: 

2007 - See 'N Say 
2008 - Play Family Farm 
2008 - View-Master 
2009 - School Bus 
2009 - Chatter Telephone 
2010 - Play Family Fun Jet 
2010 - Zookeeper Says 
2010 - Play Family School 
2011 - Music Box Teaching Clock 
2011 - Play Family House 
2011 - Little People Lil' Movers Fire Truck (not a vintage toy) 
2011 - Snoop 'N Sniff - Limited quantity 
2012 - Corn Popper 
2012 - Two Tune TV

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Italian Meatball Tortellini Soup Recipe

The weather outside is cold and perfect for some nice warm soup!  This particular recipe had a little something for everyone in my family, even the picky youngest appreciated the tortellini.

It didn't take too much effort to prepare either and this recipe makes a-lot of soup!  I had to share some with my BFF and a neighbor because there was so much.  So perhaps if you have a smaller family go ahead and 1/2 the recipe.

Italian Meatball Tortellini Soup
12 oz Chicken Meatballs (mine were from Target)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 med onion, diced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I did 1 box of chicken and 1 vege box)
2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
3 cups fresh spinach
10oz cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. In a skillet, brown the chicken meatballs according to the directions. Set aside.
2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the red peppers and bay leaf. Cook until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the broth and tomatoes. Add the cheese tortellini and cook until tortellini is tender, 7-8 minutes. Stir in the spinach, fresh basil and chicken meatballs and heat until warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Makes enough for 6-8 servings 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Finally Feeling Chilly aka Keeping Target in Business

I am very happy that there is finally a sustained chill in the air.  I'm talking highs in the 50's lows in the 40's...almost 30's.  Woot woot.  

Cold temperatures take forever to arrive here in Phoenix and only stay for a little while so we enjoy them while we can.  Today my girls wore coats to school for the first time this season.  They also added hats and scarves, which may have been overkill but hey, we're thin blooded!

My youngest was sporting her new Cat & Jack super soft bear zip sweatshirt, favorite polka dot dress and new silver zip booties.  She LOVES her new Dollar Spot scarf with built in hand warmers.  So so cute!  Basically she's head-to-toe Target today.  What can I say, it's my favorite place to buy her clothes right now. :)

By the way, the sweatshirt is only $14.99 and Target has FREE shipping and an extra 15% off right now.  Target for the win!

Now not to leave out my big girl, she's got some Target on there too.  She's wearing her new Cat & Jack dark wash jeggings, also only $14.99 and 15% off!  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from my little family to yours.  I hope your turkey is delicious, the deserts plentiful and the conversations peaceful. :)

We're celebrating with extended family this year so the table is full!

For more Turkey-day fun check out:
Thanksgiving 2015
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2013
Thanksgiving 2012

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - Movie Viewer

Lets go to the movies this week on Fisher Price Friday.  A very old-school and low technology movie but a movie all the same!  It's the Movie Viewer and cartridges #460 made between 1973-1985.  I bought this viewer and a dozen cartridges from a fellow Fisher Price collector last Christmas as a gift for my youngest.  

This simple player requires no batteries or electricity, just a child's own powered hand crank.  The player and the cartridges are made of plastic and it is light and hand held.

The player is one piece with a colorful crank on one side and a label on the other.  It also includes an adjustable focus wheel.  There are white players and later variations that are yellow.  The lithographs on the side have differences as well, the original (mine) having a black background and later editions having a light grey.  

There is even a Winnie the Pooh version that has a picture of Pooh Bear on the hand crank lithograph.

The cartridges slipped into the player and the images move forward when the wheels are caught/spun by the hand crank.  Simple technology but very effective!  The plastic cartridges are either yellow or white and have different lithograph for each edition.  For example, the Lonesome Ghosts cartridge has at least 3 different lithograph variations during the 6 years that it was made.

When you find these cartridges now the lithographs are often missing and there are eBay stores that sell replacement stickers.

By my count there were at least 46 different movie cartridges released with many of them having multiple editions.  The cartridges include characters from Disney, Sesame Street, Marvel Comics, Charlie Brown, Warner Brothers and even The Pink Panther.
These same cartridges can also be used with the larger Movie Viewer Theater #463 which shows the same videos on a small screen or projects them onto a wall (and requires power).

The original movie viewer was sold with one cartridge, the Disney movie "Lonesome Ghosts" #475.  Other cartridges were available for purchase separately and in groups.  Later versions of the movie viewer came with different single cartridges.

It wasn't easy to make a video but here is Mickey's Trailer #491 looking through our viewer.  This cartridge was made between 1974-1979.

We love our player, and it's an easy low tech (and quiet) way to watch "movies".  

For more cameras look at:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lego Friends Themed Birthday Party

For my daughter's 9th birthday party this year she selected a Lego Friends theme.  Lego and especially Lego Friends are big in our house so this wasn't a surprise and was a relatively easy party to plan for.  I'd love to share our details with you today.


The Shop Sample
I selected a personalized invitation from an Etsy store named DesiDesigns7 (image file only) and made copies on Shutterfly.  My daughter especially loved this invitation because it looked like a Lego box with the "2-99" listed on it.  Our copy looked very similar to this one, and even happened to also be a 9th birthday!


For decorations we purchased pink, teal and purple mylar balloons from the dollar store.

I wrapped some of her family gifts in boxes to look like Lego blocks.  I used solid color paper (leftovers from Christmas) and also tissue paper.  Then I cut out a few coordinating colors and glued them onto the boxes.  This worked perfectly because we didn't open the family presents during the party, so they worked double duty!  I also made one gift bag block as seen in the photo.  This one had triple duty on the day of the party because I tied the balloons to it too.

I repurposed the same dollar store pink plastic tray from my youngest's summer Hot Wheels party to use for this party.  I simply cut out an extra bingo card and taped it onto the tray.  I used this tray to hold the favor bags.

Other decorations included Lego Friend's blocks that my daughter put together, purple table clothes (dollar store) and of course a Happy Birthday banner!


Games were especially fun to plan for this age group as there were SO many options!  I pinned item after item on Pinterest and had to narrow down to just a few.  Here are the ones we chose:

1. Cooperative Build: This activity required a big Lego plate, a box of blocks and one die.  The girls took turns rolling the die and they would add that many pieces to the plate.  There was no winner of course, just a nice team building activity to get the party started.

2. Lego Drop: A variation of the old-school clothespin drop game it required a jar, Legos and a stool.  The girls took turns dropping 3 Legos (we chose long ones) into the jar while looking over and having the Lego touch their nose.  We had a small jar and long Lego to increase the challenge.   You could use a regular mason jar with younger kids. The winner of this game got a prize.

3. Tallest Tower: This game required enough medium Lego plates for each girl and a box of Legos.  The task was simple, to build the tallest tower in the amount of time allotted.  In our case we gave them 5 minutes.  The winner of this game got a prize.

4. Lego Friends Bingo:  I think this was the favorite game of the day.  I found this colorful and fun (FREE) game download from the blog Artsy Fartsy Mama.  It was simple and only required the board copies and pieces. We used Lego blocks as markers naturally.  The winner received a prize.  If we had had more time we could have played a few times.

This game was so popular with my youngest that we've played it regularly since the party!   

Now, last but not least.

5. Lego Friends Word Search: This themed word search was perfect for our (mostly) 8-9 year olds and took them a few minutes to complete.  The (FREE) download was also available from the Artsy Fartsy Mama blog.


Although not a game we had Lego Friends coloring pages that I found online (for FREE). I had them out at the beginning of the party for the girls to color before things got started.  

Coloring Pages
Coloring Pages 2

I purchased two packages of photo props (dollar store again) for the girls to pose with.  They had the best time!  I did group shots and also individual photos with the birthday girl.


My daughter selected cupcakes at the grocery store and we used candy blocks to decorate them.  I purchased the blocks from Amazon and also used them on the cupcakes and in the favor bags.


For beverages we had sparkling lemonade (from Trader Joe's) served in pink paper cups.  We added paper straws with Lego Friend's flags on them.  The flags were party-bag toppers (another FREE download from the fabulous Artsy-Fartsy Mama blog) that worked perfectly as a flag.  I simply cut them out, glued them together then punched holes for the straw to fit through.  

We kept utensils in a Lego block holder that my daughter made for the party.  Cute and easy!

Since it was late October in Arizona we had our refreshments outside.  Ah, the perks of desert life. 


We had clear favor bags with soaps we made (that had a Lego Friend figure inside) and more candy blocks tied with a lego block ribbon.  For more information on the favors see my entry here.

To get your own Candy Blox on Amazon go here


We completed the party by sending personalized thank-you photo collage cards (39 cents at Walgreens).  I took the photos of the girls at the party and my daughter added the text.  Simple and a fun and of course manageable since the party was on the small size.

It was a great party and a fun time was had by all!  

For more of our birthday parties check out:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - World's Smallest Fisher Price

The last couple of post-election days have been rough.  I'm talking wearing black, moping around, drinking extra coffee and eating my feelings rough.

To brighten my day-after-the-election I stopped by a Cracker Barrel to pick up the "World's Smallest Fisher Price".  How could I resist?

Caution: Objects are smaller than they appear :)

I'd heard about these cuties and had to check them out.  At only $5.99 each they're a tiny little steal.  They include the School Bus, Chatter Phone and Rock-a-Stack.  They also had other tiny vintage toys/objects including a Polaroid Camera and Sock Monkey, but I was only interested in the Fisher Price.

Now, first I must admit that I have never been to a Cracker Barrel before.  Does this shock you? I was surprised to see that my closest restaurant (only a few miles from my house) had an entire store of goodies. My children would love this place!

But back to the world's smallest fisher price toys.  They are truly tiny, similar to ornament size as I'll show below.  However they also have features that move and make sounds!  So. amazing.

First up the Little People School Bus.  I placed it in front of the full sized toy so you can see what a remarkable (yet tiny) remake it is.  It has the same lithographs, people figures (one person short) and even a door that opens and shuts!  

The people were replicas of the 1975-1982 version of the School bus #192, earlier and later versions had different people.  However, it is missing one little girl as the full size toy had 7 passengers. 

Also the stop sign moves out and the bus makes a clacking noise when the tires move. And the cherry on top is that the eyes move up/down and the driver back/forth when the wheels move.  Impressive.

Here is the World's Smallest school bus in comparison to similar Fisher Price school bus ornaments.  Hallmark is the closest (back left) and the only smaller one is the Basic Fun xmas decorated (also plastic) ornament in the front.

Note that the lithographs inside (bottom left side) are the same as the full size toy.  They even include tiny details like the drawn mittens, books, etc.  Such tiny detail! 

Next up is the Rock-a-Stack.  I don't have this classic toy around anymore (boo hoo my girls are too big) but this little one is a great copy.  The rings move up and down when the middle stem is raised (as shown).  But, they don't come off. Which is good because those pieces are t-i-n-y.

Now to compare to my other little rock-a-stacks.  This includes a Basic Fun ornament (far left), keychain (back) and Dept 56 (right).  As you can see it's the smallest of them all!

Last but not least is the super small Chatter Telephone.  This itty-bitty chatter phone looks just like the original #747 Chatter Telephone.  Same lithographs and blue wheels.  The phone makes noise when the wheels move and the dial spins.  And if that wasn't enough the eyes move up and down with the wheels.  So sweet!

I have oh...just a few Chatter Phone ornaments. :)  But as you can see the World's Smallest Chatter Telephone is the smallest of them all!  Doesn't this photo look like a Chatter Phone family? ;)

If you have a Cracker Barrel near you go get these "World's Smallest Fisher Price" toys.  They're adorable and just what I needed to help brighten my post-election blues.  

For more information on the original toys:

To see more Fisher Price themed ornaments check out these prior posts:

For Hallmark Fisher Price Ornaments: 

2007 - See 'N Say 
2008 - Play Family Farm 
2008 - View-Master 
2009 - School Bus 
2009 - Chatter Telephone 
2010 - Play Family Fun Jet 
2010 - Zookeeper Says 
2010 - Play Family School 
2011 - Music Box Teaching Clock 
2011 - Play Family House 
2011 - Little People Lil' Movers Fire Truck (not a vintage toy) 
2011 - Snoop 'N Sniff - Limited quantity 
2012 - Corn Popper 
2012 - Two Tune TV