Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Banana Foster Monkey Bread

I have some bananas to use up and I wanted to try something different than banana bread or banana pancakes. I am letting the dough rise right now.  I will let you know how this turns out. I bet it would be even more amazing if it had chocolate chips in it.  Ha ha. 

Martin says hello. Look at all those teeth. They make eating food so much easier.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Maryland Day

Once a year University of Maryland hosts an event that is free to the public. They have over 600 different booths and performances and tours and demonstrations.  I was on campus for three years and I never went.  I really missed out.  My best friend from college, Michelle, and I talk about going every year. We finally did this year. It was a wonderful day!! I can't wait until my kids are older and they can enjoy the activities as well. We are going to have so much fun in about five or seven years.  

We had so much fun that I completely forgot about my camera and didn't take any pictures.  I know, I am so mad at myself.  I did steal a few so that you can see what the day is like.  I highly suggest going. There is so much to do and so many free things.  Ha ha. 

We started off in engineering and looked around at a bunch of exhibits on different things they are researching.  We could have made our own silly putty and paint if we wanted to.  There is also a booth where you can build a Lego bridge and then test it on an earthquake shake table.  We then headed over to the Glenn Martin (of Lockheed Martin fame) wind tunnel where we sustained winds of 30 miles an hour for about five minutes.  Super hilarious and fun and we both wish we had taken pictures. Martin wasn't a big fan. Ha. Michelle and I laughed the whole time because it was so absurd standing in a wind tunnel having our hair and clothes blown around. We didn't look this crazy, but our eyes did get really dry. 

Next we went over to physics and math and the nasa tent where they gave us all sorts of free posters and stickers from NASA.  I can't wait to use them in home school some day. Ha ha.  They also had cannons shooting smoke rings and liquid nitrogen ice cream and the physics of pottery experiments.  We tried to get a pcture of Martin and the noaa mascot (an owl), but he was too scared. He was a little overwhelmed all day.   

We left there and wandered over through a bunch of kid bounce houses and games and past the computer science area.  I tested out my password strength and won a free beach ball and picked up a screen/glass cleaning cloth. 

Next stop the mall. They have so many tents on the mall with all sorts of things. You can fish turtle squeezie toys out if the fountain or watch a show on the main stage (dancing, gymnastics, black belt demo, etc). They have a tent for young children so you can change their diapers and get free water and juice. So much to do.  Free tooth brushes, dress up like a hobbit, take your picture as a magazine cover, build a structure with the architecture program, etc. We bought lunch and ate it while we watched some Jewish dance group. Martin was very entertained.  

We left there and headed to main campus where we stopped by the bookstore to look for some engineering school gear, but they don't sell any. Boo. So we walked around the football stadium and up to the performance art area to catch a Mardi gras parade and a symphony performance.  We caught a 45 minute long symphony performance of video game music. Apparently they were the first campus to have a symphony dedicated to video game music. Weird. I saw the Measiah here when I was in college. It was free.  I wish I had gone to more performances while I was there. They also had an instrument petting zoo and other interactive exhibits. 

After this we headed to the agricultural center and played a bee trivial game to win a plant.  Ha.  They had ice cream samples and a bunch of animal demonstrations all day.  They have a Cow with a window on the side of it so they can watch it digest food. I think I posted a picture on my blog of that many years ago. 

Back to more engineering to see the national buoyancy research lab. They test space equipment here and let astronauts train for outer space.  The tank is three or four stories high. They let you try to drive one of their robots around and pick up space rocks from the bottom of the tank. They also had a booth where you could build a boat and see who had the best design.  

We forgot to go to the fire protection lab and get the tour and we didn't get to race through the laser field either.  Those are on my list for next time.  The fire protection program is the only accredited  fire protection program in the country.  They have a fire tornado that is six feet high and give demos of new sprinkler systems they are working on.  You know you are an engineer when those things sound exciting. Ha ha. Maybe next time. 

We left the campus around 3:00 after doing another half loop around campus. It was such a beautiful day. The weather was perfect.  It was a lovely day and I look forward to going back again.  You should go too. It is only two hours away and completely free.  :) Plus, your kids get hands on experience to try out all sorts of different careers. 

Thanks to Michelle for spending the day with us.  We will take pictures next time we go. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lemon Chiffon Pie


Graham Cracker Crust & Lemon Curd Filling:

Chiffon Layer (whipped egg whites and half the lemon curd mixture): 

I can't wait to cut into this tomorrow. If it is delicious, you will get the recipe soon. :) 

Baked Cheesy Grits

If you have been down south, you will probably have seen or tried cheesy grits. I have. It is a bowl if slimy grits that has a handful of shredded cheese placed on top. It is gross. This recipe is not like that at all. I made this recipe out of a southern cookbook that a close family friend of the Sheltons gave us for our first anniversary. This recipe is incredible (if you love cheese and ham and deliciousness). 

 I have made this with chicken stock and also with just water.  I highly suggest ham stock, but chicken stock can be substituted.  
I use chopped up ham.  The recipe calls for bacon bits. I am sure those would also be good. 
I usually use all cheddar cheese, but this time I made it with half cheddar and half velveeta. It was so creamy. I know, I just admitted using velveeta. I am not snobby enough to admit it was delicious.  I don't think it would be good all velveeta, but half and half seemed perfect. 
I use instant grits. But you can use regular grits. You will have to cook them longer. 

I boiled a ham bone yesterday and made ham stock.  The rest of it is going to be made into Cindy's ham soup next week. All the little bits of ham that fall off are perfect to throw in this recipe. 

Baked Cheesy Grits
1 onion
4 cups ham or chicken broth
1 cup grits
1 cup cheese (all cheddar or mix in some velveeta if you have it)
1/4-1/2 cup of chopped ham bits or bacon bits
1 tsp. black pepper
2 eggs

1. Sauté onion until soft, about 5 minutes. 
2. Add in grits, broth, pepper.  Cook 10-20 minutes until grits are cooked. 
3. Take off heat.  Add cheese and ham. Stir until cheese is melted. You can stop and eat them here if you don't want to wait until they are baked.  :) Beat eggs and then add in. Stir fast or they will cook. Some of the egg always cook each time I make this. 
4. Add to a buttered pan and bake for 50 - 60 minutes.  

Make these with your leftover ham and hambone this week.  You won't regret it!!!  They are so good. Martin tried his first bite today and he approves.  :) 

I couldn't take a pretty picture of the grits. Instead you can see a picture if a baby that is pleased with himself because he can walk. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

House in the Spring

My little house makes me so happy in the spring. I love all the flowers Jared planted in the yard.  They come up at different times. The purple creeping phloxes and hyicinith are the first to come up most years.  Soon there will be iris, roses, Black-eyed Susans, and lots more.  It is just so cheerful!!   I love it and my husband who spends his time making our yard look so beautiful. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Eggs

I am making these to bring to Easter dinner, along with cowboy cookies and a lemon chiffon pie.  I shouldn't have made them smaller; they are too easy to eat.  Ha ha.  I hope some of them make it until Sunday.  

They are a tradition in my family. We used to make them every year and give them to Sunday School teachers and friends. My Dad made them with his Grandmother when he was little.  I hope Martin can help next year or maybe the next year.  I would love to have pictures of Martin and my Dad making these.  Ps. We weren't allowed to do the chocolate until we were much older.  I remember how excited I was when I was old enough to chocolate them. It was such a treat. 

And sorry, no recipe for these, they are sort of a family secret.  I have looked online and seen similar recipes, but no exact recipes with our special ingredient. I am sure they would almost taste as good.  :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sweet Potatoes and Brown Butter Sauce

I made a brown butter and chives sauce to put on my fish last night, but then I decided to change the fish to brown sugar and mustard sauce instead.  So I had extra brown butter sauce and put I on the sweet potatoes instead.  :) It was so delicious!!!  The sweet potatoes are good in their own, however, the brown butter takes them to whole new level of awesomeness. 

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Chives
2lbs sweet potatoes slices 1/4 inch thick 
2 T butter
2 T heavy cream or half and half
1 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch pepper

Put everything, but the pepper in a pan and cook 35 - 45 minutes until potatoes fall apart when poked.  
Mash potatoes with potato masher and sprinkle with pepper.  
Serve plain or drizzled with brown butter sauce.  

Brown Butter and Chives Sauce

Put 2 T of butter in a pan and cook 1-3 minutes until in smells nutty and turns a dark brown.  Add fresh or dried chives to butter off heat.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mysterious Dress

So I went upstairs to find my white eyelet fabric today.  I knew I had bought some a few years ago and decided I would conquer my clothes sewing fear and it would make a cute top.  Well, apparently, unknown to me, it made itself into a dress.  I wonder if any other fabric is planning on sewing itself into a quilt?!?  

I am hoping I can still use this to make a top because my post pregnancy hips do not fit into this cute dress.  Ha ha. I don't remember making this and I don't think I pre-washed it.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I sort of remember trying on the top. 

Hello, mysterious dress.  

These are the patterns I have. I don't know why these photos are loading blurry.  They look nice when I take them, but they are blurry when I load them to blogger.  I will have to figure that out.  I am thinking the top left one.  Updates will  be posted later if I end up sewing anything.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Raspberry Lemon Bars and Sewing Projects

I finished a sheep, bib, and burp cloth for a shower I am going to this weekend.  I made the burp cloth girlish on one side and boyish on the other side because they aren't finding out what the baby is. :)   The bib is from some of my favorite fabric. I bought three or four yards when I was pregnant with Martin.  I made his curtains out of some of it. 

I also made raspberry, lemon strudel bars for the shower. They are in the oven right now.  I will post the recipe if it is delicious.  

Martin played happily while I baked because I made him eggs and waffles for second breakfast at 9:00.  He woke up at 5:30 this morning.  That extra half hour has made the day seem so much longer.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sloppy Joes and Homemade Rolls

Here is just a picture of the rolls. I will post a recipe later.  They are delicious. 

 Sloppy Joes
From ATK of course (they added an extra garlic clove and used water and tomato sauce, I just added extra tomato purée)

Warming don't overcook the meat in step one.  You want it to be pink and then cook in the sauce. 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
Ground black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1.5 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
4 - 6 hamburger buns

1. Heat oil pan. Add onion and salt cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. 
Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef and cook about three minutes. 

2. Add 1/4 teaspoon pepper, brown sugar, tomato puree, ketchup, water, and hot sauce. Simmer until Sloppy Joe sauce is slightly thicker than ketchup, 10-14 minutes. If it cooks longer, you might need to add more water to thin it out. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


For dinner tonight I am making risotto with white beans and spinach.  It is pretty much amazing, melt-in-your-mouth.  I am serving it with some sort if chicken and green beans.  Yum!! 

I don't use a lot if coupons because I find it takes too long to match them up and organize them.  I would rather be sewing or reading or playing with Martin.  However, I do read hip2save (a deal blog) almost every day and when I see a group of good deals, I sometimes buy stuff. I forgot to give the cashier two of my coupons.  Grr.  But still I bought all this (and a four pack of play-duh) for $8. The spaghetti was 26 cents a box. 

One of my favorite quick way to say money at Target is to use their app, Cartwheel.  I get 5-10% off diapers whenever I buy them. I also text target certain words and they send back coupons (I read about which words to text them on hip2save).  And Target lets you combine Target coupons, found on their website, with manufacturer's coupons, found on other sites.  Normally, I just use the Cartwheel app.  

Hooray for Target.  I also got 5% off my diapers today and a $10 gift card when I bought two packs.  

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Attic Room

Jared and I talk about changing around the rooms in our house a lot. We only have two bedrooms and a small attic space, but we think we can fit at least four or five kids in this house.   We are both big fans of this book series called, The Not So Big House and I love the blog Apartment Therapy. They both have amazing ideas about making the smallest spaces both useable and comfortable.  They both make the point that it is actually greener to have a small house and give pointers on using ever inch of space.  

My kitchen is pretty much, spot on, designed, layed out, and organized as they say. It was before I read their books and posts. It is my efficiency engineering coming out. :) 

However, the rest of my house still needs some work, especially my bedroom. A goal of Jared and mine is to decluttering and organize the bedroom this spring. We are starting by building a desk and buying a old filing cabinet (which Jared sanded down and painted this weekend and will be bringing inside tomorrow). Maybe I will post some before and after pictures. 

Anyhow, we both think the upstairs little attic space (that currently holds Michelle's guest bed (which is the most comfortable bed in our house - I read up there a lot), our tv, and my sewing room) would make for a great master bedroom or kids bedroom. Here are some inspirational photos I found. The first is my favorite!!!! 

The nails in our ceiling are starting to work their way out of the drywall and someone made some small dents in it moving furniture around, so this wood covered ceiling would be amazing. I love white painted wood.  I would love to have  hardwood floors painted white in my house. Ps.  This would be like waking up in a bed and breakfast every morning.  I LOVE this room. 

A skylight would be so great.  Again, I love the wood. I love this room too. Do you think Jared would go for separate beds? I wouldn't always be stealing the covers. 

For the kids... I love built in beds.  

Oh, and a window seat (with a built in bed because that is so practical) because I just love them. Someday I want a front/back porch (with a few rocking chairs) and a window seat. It will complete my housing dreams.  That is pretty much it. I don't care about a larger house or a bigger kitchen or anything else.  I just want a window seat and a front/back porch. Both places would be so relaxing to read and enjoy my morning cup of tea.  Lovely.  And I have schemed several ways to fit a window seat in my house.

Do you have any dream features of a house? 

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Problem of Pain CS Lewis

I just finished The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis. I highly recommend it.  I have other quotes to share, but I thought I would start off with the last paragraph in the book.  I just love the way Lewis writes.  The more I read Lewis, the more I am glad I named my son after him.  :) 

"The size and emptiness of the universe which frightened us at the onset of this book, should awe us still, for though they may be no more than a subjective by-product of our three-dimensional imagining, yet they symbolize great truth. 

As our earth is to all the stars, so doubtless are we men and our concerns to all creation; as the stars are to space itself, so are all creatures, all thrones and powers and mightiest of the created gods, to the abyss of the self-existing Being, who is to us Father and Redeemer and in dwelling Comforter, but of whom no man or angel can say nor convince what he is in and for Himself, or what is the work that he 'maketh from the beginning to the end'. 

For they are all derived and unsubstantial things. Their vision fails them and they cover their eyes from the intolerable light of utter actuality, which was and is and shall be, which never could have been otherwise, which has no opposite."

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Homemade Wipes

So I am trying out a recipe for homemade baby wipes.  If they work (and by work I mean, don't get moldy) I will keep making them since they are super easy.  If they do get moldy, I will try using distilled water and vinagar before giving up.  

2.5 cups water boiled or distilled (to remove bacteria that can cause mold, who knew?)
2 - 4 T. baby soap
1 - 2 T. baby oil or olive oil
Some recipes call for optional aloe ad since I have an aloe plant, I broke off a few leaves and squeezed them in.  I felt like a real hippie.  

Mix all of that together in a bowl.  Cut a roll of paper towels in half.   Stick one end in the mixture.  Flip over after a minute or two and let them sit until fully saturated.  
If you have a bowl with a lid or a round container, you can simply take out the cardboard roll and pull from the middle.  I stacked mine in sheets in an old wipe container.  

We will see what happens.  Updates will follow.  I love the way they smell and they work fine.  I will do a cost anaylsis later.  I am guessing they are at least half of the cost of the wipes I buy at Sams club (which smell funny).  

Have you ever tried to make wipes or any other cleaning products? 


This little curl always sticks off the back of Martin's head after a nap.  Ha ha.  Maybe he will have curly hair someday like Jared and me.  :)