Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Maple Bran Waffles

This is the picture you get when you have a crabby child eating her dinner. Then you tell her to not smile. Or Laugh. I mean it! Whatever you do. Don't. Smile.
Yeah, it works every time. She can't help but smile.
Look how hard she is trying NOT to smile. She has to look away so we won't see her smile.  Cause if we can't see her face then she isn't smiling.

Personally, I couldn't help but smile when I tasted these maple bran waffles from Dinner with Julie.  These were way too tasty to be make with whole wheat or bran.  Isn't that stuff supposed to taste nasty?  Shouldn't it taste like cardboard?  Not these waffles missy ma'am.  They are good.  Really REALLY good. I mean like you-can't-shut-up-about-them good.

I had got a good deal on real syrup a few months ago.  I've been hesitant to use the syrup because even on sale it was a bit on the pricy side.  But since I spent the money on it, I thought I should get over myself and use it already.

Not only did we use the syrup in the pancake batter, we used it on top of our waffles too!  This was the first time Blockette had actual real live maple syrup on her waffles.  At first, she said she didnt like it, especially after Mrblocko said the syrup was like the tree's blood.  Once I kicked Mrblocko under the table, and told Blockette removing the sap from the tree was just like when daddy gives blood, she thought it was the best thing ever.

I also thought the real syrup tasted "weird" at first.  I don't know that I've actually used maple syrup as Syrup for waffles or pancakes.  After a few bites, I realized that it was oodles better than the fake stuff.  Mrblocko and I agreed that we also used loads less than the normal corn syrup based pancake syrup.  I think the jury is still out if I am going to continue to buy the cheap stuff or splurge for the real thing.  If we use lots less, and consume less sugar in the process, is that worth the cost?  Lucky for me I have a while to make that decision.

As for the recipe itself, I used 1/2 c of wheat bran.  The recipe said 1/4-1/2 cup and I figured, it's was humid and I was trying to use up the wheat bran. Why not add the extra amount?  I didn't think it made the batter extra thick.  The batter was the perfect thickness for waffles, in my opinion.  I also used buttermilk powder instead of the real deal.  Instead of using water to reconstitute the buttermilk powder, I used skim milk.  The milk was going to go bad if it wasn't used up in the next few days, so I figured why not.  I don't know if adding milk and buttermilk added any extra special flavor to the waffles but it did save me from having to pitch spoiled milk.

Maple Bran Waffles from Dinner with Julie
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4-1/2 cup wheat bran or oat bran
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, oil, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Preheat your waffle iron and spray it with nonstick spray or brush it with oil. Cook the batter according to the manufacturers directions (I cook about a ladleful in a thick Belgian waffle maker) until golden brown. Keep them warm in a 200F oven while you cook the rest. Makes 6-8 large waffles.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


This is the crusty baguette from Babble. Um, except for one thing, they were not crusty.  I think this recipe was very misleading.
First off, they say this is a 30 minute crusty baguette.  Unless there is a new measurement for time, there is no way that is correct.  I had to bake these guys for 30 minutes and even then the center was still a tiny bit gummy.  45 minutes would have been more accurate, but at this point Blockette and I were hungry for dinner and didn't want to wait any longer.  I mean the child was wasting away from having to wait an extra 15 minutes.  How could I possibly make her wait another FIFTEEN MINUTES!!

So we ate it as it was.  The bread was good, just not the quick and easy crusty bread I thought I was going to get.  I made the bread so we could use it to sop up the extra spaghetti sauce on our plates.  For this, it did a great job. Yum. I mean freshly made bread is rarely not yum, even if you mess it up.

There was quite a bit of bread leftover so we used the remainder of the bread in grilled cheese sandwiches.  I sliced the loaf horizontally, and spread butter on both sides.  I grilled the flat, interior side until it was brown and crispy.  Then I flipped over the bread and grilled the outside.  While that was happening, I put pieces of thinly sliced cheddar on the flat side of the bread I had just grilled.  Then I topped the whole thing off with Penzey's Sandwich sprinkle. Once the cheese was sufficiently melted and the outside of the bread was nice and toasty I put the 2 sides together and smashed them down to get them to adhere.  If you have a panini press use it, cause that would be faster and more gooder.  (Yeah I said gooder.)

Of course, Mrblocko, ever the ruiner, had to add meat and tomatoes to his sandwich.  He said it was the most delicious sandwich ever in the history of the world but he is a big liar face because we all know that my plain grilled cheese sandwich was the bestest ever.  A ruiner and a liar face.  What AM I going to do with him?

Oh, one more thing.  This recipe was completely off about the amount of flour needed.  It says 3-4 cups of flour.  No way that could be right.  I mean it was only slightly humid out and I needed 6 cups of flour.  And that was just to be able to handle the dough.  It was still extremely wet and shaggy and sticky and unruly.  4 cups?  Do the people who wrote that recipe live in the desert?  The moon?  A vacuum? A Vacuum cleaner?  Well, beware if you try this recipe out.  Just keep adding flour until you can get the dough to behave.

Quick and Crusty French Baguettes from Family Kitchen
2 cups very warm water
1 packet yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl, whisk warm water, yeast, and sugar. Set bowl on top of  preheating oven for 10 min. Stir in salt and add flour a half-cup at a time, til dough becomes soft but not sticky. Knead dough til elastic.

Cut dough into 4 even pieces. Roll each of them into 4 long, thin ropes. Twist together 2 ropes to form 1 loaf. Twist other 2 ropes together to form a 2nd loaf. Transfer both onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.You can now bake the loaf right away or allow to rise for an additional 15-30 min on top of warm oven.

Now for the SECRET: Fill a large bowl with 3-4 c ice. Open hot oven and place baking sheet with  baguettes inside, then toss ice cubes on bottom of oven and quickly shut door. Do NOT open oven for 15 min. Bake til golden brown, 15-18 min. Serve fresh and hot with your favorite olive oil for dipping.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Poor Man's Smores

I first saw this idea for cheater poor man's smores on brown paper packages. Instead of using graham crackers and chocolate bars, you assemble the smore with a fudge stripe cookie instead. Then the next day I saw basically the same thing using a digestive biscuit over at Cooking Dunkin Style.

Then when I went to the store, what did I find?  A container of oatmeal fudge stripe cookies for $.59 and mint fudge squares (Essentially a graham cracker square shaped girl scout cookie) for $.39!!!  Why were these treasures on clearance?  I have no idea, but they were absolutely perfect to use in these "poor man smores!"
Mrblocko wanted to be super lazy and just nuke them in the microwave, but I put the k-bosh on that. In order to do that the cookie would have to be nuked along with the marshmellow, and that would make the chocolate coating on the cookie too melty to eat.  So we toasted the marshmellows on the grill.

Silly me forgot to soak the skewers so they kept catching on fire, along with the marshmellows.  Blockette was upset that the marshmellows were charred.  I kept telling her that was what made them tasty.  Oh non believer.  What a fuss she put up until she had that first bite.  She should really know better than to second guess her mother when it comes to things like this.

It was a really hot day when we made these so these smores were a bit more messy on the fingers than the regular variety.  The mess was worth it.  If I can help it, and I can, I don't think I'll ever go back to ordinary smores again!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


We are trying to get Blockette interested in Star Wars with a moderate amount of success.  She does like the Clone Wars cartoon, but seems bored by the movies.  Although, much to my dismay, she seems to really like Jar Jar. :::shudder::: 
As often as we correct her, she can't seem to remember that they are called Lightsabers not Lightsavers.  Clearly we are failing as geeky parents. 

If Blockette was more interested in Star Wars I'd totally make up an armory of these Pool Noodle Lightsabers from Muddy Boots.  Aren't they the coolest thing ever.  I wish I'd been invited to that birthday party, don't you?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pickled Carrots

In my ever present quest to incorporate more veggies into my diet, I decided to give pickled carrots a whirl.  They are super easy to make, but will make your house stink like vinegar.  This was not a good thing.

The carrots themselves taste very much like mustard.  I like mustard, but it was a bit much for me. Blockette took one tiny bite and spit it out.  I don't think it was the taste so much, but the smell.  When I was making these, Blockette made a bigger stink about the smell of the vinegar than the actual stink.  Mrblocko was not brave enough to even try a taste.  Oh well.  You can't win 'em all.

The picture below is a half recipe.  It fits perfectly in one of those square 4 cup ziploc containers.

1/2 recipe pickled carrots makes 1.5 pints (Head over to Babble for the full recipe for
pickled carrots)
1/2 lb. of carrots, peeled. sliced into 4″ lengths and quartered
1 c water
1 c apple cider vinegar
1 Tsalt
1 T sugar
1/2 t brown mustard seeds
4 bay leaves
5 whole cloves
1/8 t red pepper flakes
pinch celery seed
2-3 smashed garlic cloves or a quartered onion (optional)

Wash and dry jars, rims, and lids.  Bring med pot of water to boil. Blanch carrots 1 min. Pack carrots in prepared jars. In same pan used for blanching, combine water, vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring heat up til  almost boiling and sugar dissolves. Pour over carrots, leaving 1/2″ head space. Distribute bay leaves, cloves, and garlic or onion, evenly between jars. Let liquid come to room temp and seal. Keep in frige for 1 week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

'11 Happy Happy Joy Joy Dance #21: Ren Fair Dress Re-make

A few years ago my best friend passed this dress on to me.  It quickly became Blockette's favorite play dress.  It made a wonderful fairy outfit with the addition of some pink fairy wings (also given to Blockette by my best friend.  Gee...she must be a cool best friend or something.)  This summer, it became painfully obvious that the dress no longer fit.  While the dress had adjustable shoulder straps and laced up the front, the dress had reached its limits.
Blockette was actually the third little girl to own this dress.  It was originally purchased at the Bristol Renaissance Fair for one million dollars.  OK, so it wasn't for one million dollars, but it was an insane amount of money for a toddler dress.  I looked to see if the company sold their merchandise online, but I had no luck in that department.  I did find that they are still at the Ren Fair, but then you have to figure the price of Ren Fair admission onto the one million dollars for a dress.  Of course that was nearly 10 years ago, so with inflation, a dress in Blockette's current size is probably two billion dollars.

Since I am all out of two billion dollar bills, I thought I might attempt to make the dress myself.  The dress in theory is quite simple.  The bodice is a rectangle and so are the straps, and the skirt is a 3/4 circle.  It would have been a piece of cake to make the dress in the exact same size, but alas, I was making the dress bigger.  Since I was making the bodice bigger, that meant that the circumference of the circle that was the waist on the skirt needed to be bigger.  I was also making the skirt longer, which meant that the circumference of the circle that was the hem also needed to be bigger.  Oh and remember, these are 3/4 circles so...aaaaaaaaaaaaaah.  Together, Mrblocko and I worked it out and I was able to draft a pattern.

My mom was nice enough to help me pick out the fabric while we were up at her house in July.  I was hoping for something metallic like the original dress, but we couldn't find anything that wasn't white.  White.  HA!  Not for my child.

I have to give a big shout out to the lady who was working at the fabric counter at Joann Fabrics that day. She helped me figure out how to lay the skirt out in such a way so that I only needed about a yard and a half instead of the five I feared I'd need.

Since we're giving thanks, a la the Oscars, besides the Academy, I'd like to thank my best friend.  In July, Blockette was at a reading program in the morning, once a week, at my best friend's church.  It was during this time that I was able to get this dress sewn.  You see, I needed to be sneaky, as this was one of Blockette's birthday presents. 

This time, I measured correctly.  Thank goodness I didn't mess up on this dress like I did with the petticoat skirt/apron.  The dress is just a tiny bit too big for Blockette, which is exactly what I wanted.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday 33.11

1. The look on Blockette's face when a few people broke into a chorus of Happy Birthday right after church service.
2. The rain stopped just in time for Blockette's birthday party.
3.  Running out of time vs activities at Blockette's Birthday party.
4. Great weather for Mrblocko's family reunion.
5. Mrblocko's idea to give leftovers from the reunion to the local homeless shelter.
6. Being "The best mom ever!"
7. We weren't late on the first day of school.
8. Surprising Blockette with heart in the middle apples.  (You slice the apple in circles and cut out the core from the slices with a cookie cutter.)
9.  Blockette's teacher seems awesome.
10.  Having someone to wait with at the bus stop when Blockette's bus was 20 min late.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

'11 Mixed Emotions Dance #20: Sharpie Tie Dying

At Blockette's Birthday Party, I had all the kids make these fun "tie dye" shirts with sharpies. I first saw Sharpie tie-dying tutorial on the blog Sun Scholars.  The same tutorial is available at Steve Spangler Science. That site gives the science behind this fun experiment.  I mean, (Waves hands) it's magic! 

Now did I remember to take ANY pictures of the kid's shirts before or after?  No. I did have an extra shirt leftover so I made another shirt especially for the purpose of putting pictures on this blog. 

So here is what you do.  Take plastic cups and place them inside your shirt. Put a rubber band at the lip of the cup to stop the spread of the color.  Then draw your design with sharpies.  The more abstract the better. 
Then...the magic.  Isopropyl Alcohol.  You can find this stuff in any grocery store or pharmacy in the first aid section.  I used an old medicine dropper for babies to apply the alcohol.  I found that 5-7 drops did the job nicely.
Woah.  You tell me that it isn't magical. 

OK.  Now for the not so magical part.  When I washed the shirt Blockette made, it bled.  HUH?  These are sharpies.  They aren't supposed to bleed.  Some of the color from her design got on the back of her shirt when I washed it.  Not only that, but I found pink on one of my gray shirts that was in the same load.  I heat set the (dry) shirts from the party for 30 minutes in a hot dryer before I washed it (in cold water), just like the directions said.  That was supposed to set the dye.  I did a Google search and found about 20 different blogs and tutorial websites.  None of them had a problem with bleeding.  Sharpies just aren't supposed to bleed.  The ink is not water soluble. 

Now, that pink dye could have been from the new pink clothing Blockette got for her birthday.  They had never been washed before.  Perhaps they were the cause of the pink on my shirt?  I thought that if the alcohol made the sharpie ink spread, maybe I could get whatever that pink stuff was to spread right off the shirt.  So I used the dropper to put alcohol on my gray shirt (which had already been in the dryer).  Wouldn't you know it, that pink came right out!  Whew!

The thing is, even if the new clothes were the cause of the pink on my shirt, it didn't explain why the other colors on Blockette's shirt got on other parts of her shirt.  That's the real mystery.

So here is the part where I sort of mess up the shirt I just made above.  I wanted to soak the shirt in vinegar to help preserve the color, but I only had a tiny bit.  I poured that on there and let it soak on the shirt for 2 hours.  Then I rinsed the shirt out in cold water.  Because I was anxious about the color bleeding issue I washed the shirt I made above in warm water with an old white sheet...before I set it in the dryer.  DOH!
So the shirt faded quite a bit, but there was no color bleeding onto the white sheet.  Blockette loves the shirt because the colors are light and pastel now.  So dainty and girly, doncha know?  I'm glad she doesn't think I ruined it, as the shirt was in her size.

If you are going to attempt this, here is what I suggest doing:
1. Wait until the alcohol has dried completely. 
2. Iron the shirt or stick it in the dryer to heat set your design.
3. Soak the shirt in vinegar and water overnight.
4. Rinse the shirt in cold water.
5. Stick the shirt in the dryer again to be on the safe side.
6. Wash the shirt in cold water with dark clothes.

First Look at the First Grader

Think she's excited for the first day?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Party

Last weekend we had a birthday party for Miss Blockette.  This was the first real party that she's had.  We told her that she could invite 9 friends.  It took her almost a month to narrow down who she wanted to invite.  I really expected half the kids we invited to show up, but only one wound up not being able to make it.  I guess that's what happens when you have a party the weekend before school starts...everyone is home and looking for something to do.

One of the biggest struggles with this party was that Blockette's best friend "M" is a boy.  And a boy who doesn't like "girly stuff" to boot.  Guess what kind of party Blockette wanted?  Yeah, super girly.  I continually had to remind her how "M" would not have fun at that kind of party.

We finally came to a compromise of a rainbow theme.  Yeah rainbows are sort of girly, but not nearly as girly as princesses, fairies or unicorns.  I think it was all just on the edge of "M's" comfort zone.  I think he was relieved that Mrblocko was there to help balance out all that estrogen.

Blockette and I made paper buntings to decorate our garage.  We made a bunting that had 6 suns, one that had 6 rainbows, and one that had 6 clouds.  (I finally found a use for some of the T-shirt yarn I made last year.  It was perfect for bunting string, and to rope off the driveway.) From the bunting I hung all the milk jug butterflies we made earlier that week with a single strand of embroidery floss.  I'm bummed that I didn't get a good picture of them.  I also forgot to give them out at the end of the party.  (Anyone want a milk jug butterfly?)

The morning of the party it was pouring.  I wasn't quite sure how we were going to do ALL the games inside the garage, but I figured we'd just make it up as we went along.  That morning said there was a 50% chance of rain...until after her party was over.  DOH!  But, luckily, it stopped raining, and the sun even came out enough to dry up all the huge puddles in the front yard.  (The backyard was still a muddy lake, but that was no surprise.)

We played lots of games, although I think toss a water balloon at Mrblocko was their favorite game.  We also made sharpie tie dye shirts, which I will write more about later, and decorated cupcakes.  OK.  That was most likely the kids favorite thing.  They had M&M's, sprinkles, jimmies, marshmellows, blue sugar, and gold gel icing to decorate with.  Although, I'm sure more of the decorations went into their mouths than on the actual cupcakes.  (And that is saying something!)

The kids were surprised when they bit into their cupcakes to discover all the colors inside. It was a bit fussy, but not nearly as much trouble as the disaster of a rainbow cake that I made two years ago.  The exclamations from all the kids was worth the effort to make the cupcakes.  I'd definitely make them again.

I wish I'd taken more pictures of the party itself, but Mrblocko and I were too busy making sure all the kids were having fun.  I'm so glad Mrblocko was there to help.  Things would not have gone half as well if I'd been there by myself. 

Happy Birthday Blockette

happy birthday
Happy Birthday Blockette!

Hope your Birthday is the Bestest!!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

'11 Happy Dance #19 : More Ruffle Jeans

Remember the patchy pants I lengthened back in March using the tutorial from From an Igloo?  Well, even with the ruffle extension, those pants are almost too short for Blockette!  The child has grown 3 inches this year. Maybe I should stop sprinkling Miracle Grow on her cereal in the morning.

I forced Blockette to try on all her clothes to see if she needed more clothes for school.  The verdict was, not yet, but probably in a few months.  I did find another pair of pants that could use some lengthening. So I set myself to work.

One hour later.  (A new record time for me) Tada!  More pants that fit.  I just love that ruffle tutorial. 

Blockette picked out the ruffle fabric.  You can't really tell from the photo but they have little multi-colored t-shirts with hearts on them.  I was quite surprised she chose the yellow fabric.  I mean I thought the child was all about pink.  Guess not today.

As I was attaching the ruffle, I noticed that the knees of these pants are getting thin.  I pondered putting on a patch, but decided to wait until an actual hole developed..say after the first day she wears them to school.  Why do today what you can put off for tomorrow right?

So I bet you are thinking that I told Blockette some hilarious knock knock joke of some sort. No, she just decided to pose that way for the camera.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

'11 Happy Dance #18: Lunch Napkins

My daughter is obsessed with napkins. She freaks out a bit if she doesn't have one provided for her at a meal. I should probably be grateful that she doesn't want to have sticky hands or dirty face.  Maybe that should be my mantra when she flips out.

Anyhow, since Blockette developed her passion for napkins, we started using cloth napkins at meals.  I figured if I didn't start doing that I'd be spending the bulk of my grocery budget on paper towels.

Very shortly, Blockette is going to be in first grade, and eating lunch at school for the first time.  While we have enough napkins for meals at home, we didn't have enough for home and Blockette to take to school.  Besides, I didn't want Blockette taking the fancy napkins to school and potentially loosing them.  Then I remembered the stack of flannel baby blankets at the bottom of the linen closet from when Blockette was a baby.
Viola!  Instant napkins.  I got 8 napkins from 1 blanket.  They are the size of the "half" paper towel on the select-a-size roll.  This is what I would have packed in her lunch bag if I hadn't made these napkins.  I think eight napkins should be more than enough to last her between laundry days.

I was so lazy that I just zig-zaged the edges on the sewing machine. The napkins were going to get serged, but I had black thread on my serger. I didn't feel like fighting with the machine. The possibility of threading the machine wrong and having to thread it multiple times seemed like more effort than I wanted to exert.  Plus, the sewing machine already had white thread in it.  Yeah, like I said, LAZY!

I know things sent to school should be labeled with your child's name so they are less likely to wind up "accidentally" with another child.  Do you think I should embroider her name on one corner, or just be lazy and label it with a sharpie?  I like to embroider stuff, but I also like to be lazy.  What's your vote?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

'11 (Un)happy Dance #17: Clay Medals

I found this recipe for clay at  I thought it would be another fun project for Blockette and I to do while we were in the midst of a heatwave.  The intent was to make the clay into medallions and paint them.  Then we would make them into medals as prizes for kids at her birthday party.
Like I said, that was my intention. We made them and painted them and I even sealed them with gold sparkly nail polish. Which I thought would seal them. There I go, thinking again. I set them in our 3 season room to dry. After a few days, I brought them inside so they could be strung with ribbon.

It was so humid outside that they got soft and squishy.  Almost as squishy as they had been when we first made the clay.  So please learn from my mistakes and don't make homemade clay when it's pushing 100 and the humidity is in the 80's.

Blockette was absolutely devastated that all our hard work was for naught. I was pretty bummed too.  I thought about buying some different kind of clay at the craft store, but the wind had gotten knocked out of my sails on this project.  So the kids are getting stickers as prizes instead.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fairy Garden Update

My uncle gave Blockette some accessories for the Fairy garden for her birthday. The set came with a birdhouse, beehive, 2 urns, a fire pit, 2 chairs, wheelbarrow, shovel, rake and arbor. I've been meaning to post a picture on here but whenever I remember, it's raining out. So I finally get out there and look what I saw!
The nasturtiums are climbing up the fairy Arbor!  Hopefully you can tell that from the picture.  As all the fairy stuff is brown, it sort of blends into the ground.  Fairies like that sort of thing  though.

Blockette wants me to inform you that what we thought was a fairy house is too small to be a fairy house, so it must be a fairy shed.  It does make since to have a shed in a garden.  But if that is a fairy shed...where is the fairy house????

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thankful Thursday 32.11

1. A deal on shoes for Blockette when I realized she had outgrown both her dress shoes and sneakers.
2. The cats accepting the new kitty litter without incident.
3. A great visit with my mom.
4. Free birthday dinners. (Most restaurants have a free, or buy one get one free meal for your birthday.  All you gotta do is sign up!)
5. Finding cool books on sale at Borders. (Oh Borders, how I will miss you.)
6. It doesn't seem like the person who hacked into Mrblocko's email gave anyone a virus.  (Although some interesting stuff got sent to people at church.)
7. More cool days than hot ones.
8. My goofy gus of a best friend.  (Yes you are a goofy gus, but I'll keep ya anyhow.)
9. Not putting off the crafty stuff for Blockette's party until the last minute.
10.  Keeping calm amidst Blockette's meltdown.
11. School starts in one week!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Freeze Your Own Hashbrowns

Have you ever tried to make your own hashbrowns to freeze?  I have and they have always turned out looking gross.  They turn brownish gray even before they make it to the freezer.  I tried freezing the nasty looking stuff anyway. When I went to cook them they turned out to be a revolting tasting AND looking mash.  So I figured making frozen hashbrowns was some super secret process involving machines and chemicals.

No!  You don't need none of that stuff.  All you have to do is par-boil them first! The closely guarded secret was revealed to me on The Grocery Cart Challenge.  And now you know it too.  Don't you feel special?
I haven't had a chance to test this out yet, because I'm not over run with potatoes.  Next time the big 20 kajillion lb bag goes on sale I'm snatching that bad boy up and having a hashbrown hootenanny.

'11 Happy Dance #16: Milk Jug Butterflies

Blockette was nice enough to take this picture for me.
I saw this tutorial for milk jug butterflies over on Alphamom. I thought they would be a fun craft to do on a day where it was just too hot to go outside and play.  It's just sharpies and plastic from a gallon of milk.  I love crafts where I don't have to buy any new supplies!

We got four butterflys from one milk jug. I decorated the one at the top and Blockette did the other three. The black outlining and cutting was a bit on the tricky side, so I did that part.  I strung them with some embroidery floss and hung them in the front window.  On a sunny day, they glow in the sunlight. When I've got the windows open they spin a bit in the breeze which gives the impression that they are flying. 

Blockette and I are going to make some more as decorations for her birthday party.  I cut them out from the milk jug differently and was able to get 6 this time.  We're about ready to finish another gallon of milk, so we should have 10-12 to hang up for her party.  I'm going to do my best to remember to post pictures of the decorations next week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

The Pasta salad from Buns in my Oven was a fun salad to make. Pizza in salad form?  AW yeah!  Pizza flavors and I don't have to heat up the house?  Double yeah!

I saw the recipe, bookmarked it, and the next week they had bags of mini pepperoni on clearance for 50 cents!!! Why? I have no clue.  The expiration date was weeks away.  I'm just kicking myself that I didn't buy more than one bag and freeze them. The following week, they were no where to be seen.  Oh well.  Live and learn.
I did change the proportions of the ingredients from the original recipe to suit our tastes.  Here is how I made the salad.

*about 9-10 oz pasta, (slightly more than half a box) cooked and cooled (I used a mixture of gemelli and medium shells because it was what we had in the pantry.)
*half a jar of whole green olives with pimentos (I used the whole olives because I told Blockette she wouldn't have to eat any olives and I thought they would be easier to pick out.  I just dumped in olives until it looked like enough green throughout the salad.)
*A small can sliced black olives (I would have used whole olives, but I already had the sliced ones in the pantry.)
*About 1 c shredded sharp cheddar
*1/3 c zesty itallian dressing
*whole bag of mini pepperoni
*1/4 of a softball sized red onion, thinly chopped  (They only had the freaky mutant ones at the store.  Use whatever you can find.)

Dump all the ingredients into a bowl and combine.  Let the salad chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving if possible to let the flavors combine.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sweet Corn Hash

When I went to visit my mom in Minnesota over the Fourth of July, my uncle came over one night for dinner. He brought with him the most gifreekingnormous watermelon and 40 ears of corn.  Yes.  FORTY ears of corn.  Did I mention that there were only the 5 of us? And we were leaving the next day?  Can you say an excess of corn?

At dinner, we barely made a dent in the cornucopia of corn.  (Is that joke too corny for you?) (Groan.)  My mom already had a full refrigerator, so what on earth were we going to do with all that corn?  My mom gave a ton to her neighbor, and I took the kernels off of 10 cobs.

That's a lot of corn.  You don't realize how much corn is on an ear until you take it off the cob.  I think eating an ear of corn is no big deal, but put that same amount of corn on my plate and I feel overwhelmed by the yellow mound.  Needless to say, there wasn't enough room in our tiny cooler for all the corn, even off the cob.
I remembered this recipe for sweet corn hash that I saw over at Joy the Baker around Father's Day. It was a great way to use up that overabundance of corn. I made Mrblocko grill the potatoes outside so we wouldn't heat up the house by turning the oven on.  I also added crumbled browned sausage to the mix.  Eggs and toast on the side made the meal last us for a few days, which is always nice.

While I'd much rather eat corn on the cob, I'd make this recipe again in a heartbeat should I ever come in possession of another massive amount of fresh corn.

Sweet Corn Hash from Joy the Baker serves 2
1/2 to 1 pound potatoes, cut into chunks
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
1 small or 1/2 of a large onion, diced
2 fresh ears of sweet corn
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Place a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place potatoes on baking sheet, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-25 min, til tender and cooked through. While potatoes cooking, saute onions in a cast iron skillet, over med til tender and browned. Turn off heat and set aside until potatoes done baking. Slice corn off cob and chop parsley. When potatoes done baking, remove from oven and place in cast iron skillet with onions. Cook over low . Add corn and remaining 1 T butter, salt, and pepper. Toss til butter melted and corn is just warm. Remove from heat. Toss in parsley and serve.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This is me...

Although I don't have any spiky black boots.  I'll have to get right on that.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thankful Thursday 31.11

(Only a day late this time!)

1. Letting Mrblocko convince me it was ok to splurge and go to the Museum of Science and Industry.
2. Letting Mrblocko buy me a hoodie at the museum because it was brr freezing cold in there.
3. Popcorn and movie night at home.  (YAY for Phineas and Ferb)
4. Being almost done with Blockette's School shopping.  (I still have to get her an art smock. Where do buy an art smock for a kid anyway?  I'll probably just have to buy fabric and make one.)
5. Sleeping with the windows open.
6. The little sunflower that finally decided to open up.
7. I finally have buds on both my tomato plants and my pepper plant!
8. Homemade ice cream! (will write more about that later.)
9. My mom coming to visit.
10. Getting everything done that I needed to.
11. Realizing Blockette needed new shoes for school and church BEFORE we went to the store.

Corn Dog Muffins

I made these corn dog muffins from a recipe I found on Heavenly Homemakers way back in June for Relay for Life.  I wanted something quick and portable for us to eat in between talking and walking.   Blockette just loves room temp corn dogs, so I figured this hand sized version would be perfect for us to chomp on the go.       

The muffins were just ok. I made way more than I needed, and the muffins sat out all night so I ended up pitching the leftovers, just to be safe.  It was a really buggy night and who knows what sort of meal or home the cooties had made in the corn dogs.

I think the cornbread recipe was just a bit too healthy tasting to be a winner.  I don't think I'll make the healthy whole wheat version again.  Whole wheat in cornbread, well, just doesn't taste right.

I'm not ready to scrap this recipe completely yet.  I think this recipe would be a total winner if I used Jiffy cornbread mix to make the muffin part.  Also I think chopping up the hotdogs so that each bite has a bit of hot dog in it, instead of just the center, is the way to go as well.  I'll give those things a try next time!

Corndog muffins from Heavenly Homemakers
2 cup cornmeal
2 cup whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. salt
4 eggs
4 T. honey
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cup buttermilk

8 hot dogs
24 muffin papers to line muffin pans.

Mix up the cornbread. Cut hot dogs into thirds. Scoop cornbread batter into the paper lined muffin cups. Place 1/3 hot dog into each muffin. Bake at 400 ° until golden brown. Serve right away.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lemon Buddies

I don't know a single person who doesn't love muddy buddies. You know Chex or Crispix coated in chocolate peanut buttery powdered sugar goodness. But that is not an option when you have a nut allergy. Lemon buddies from Real mom kitchen are a nice summery alternative for those folks who are sadly deprived of the joys of eating nut products.
This is another recipe I made way back in June for Relay for Life.  One of the other kids on our team happened to be allergic to peanuts. It was nice to have a snack that was safe for him to eat.

The lemony flavor was a much better fit for a summer treat than the muddy buddies would have been.  While the muddy buddies are addicting like crack, they are heavier somehow.  Maybe it's not the flavors, it's the metric ton that gets consumed in one sitting.

The Lemon buddies were good, but not quite as good as the original muddy buddies.  That was probably a good thing with all the walking we were doing that night.  Consequently, there were quite a few leftovers.  Maybe because of the humidity, the lemon buddies lost their crunch after the first day.  I've never had that problem with the muddy buddies, then again I've only ever made them in the fall and winter.

Lemon Buddies from Real Mom Kitchen
9 cups Rice Chex® cereal
1 1/4 cups white vanilla baking chips
1/4 cup butter
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons juice from the zested lemon
2 cups powdered sugar

Measure rice chex into a large bowl; set aside. In 1-quart microwave safe bowl, microwave chips and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 20 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Then stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour the melted mixture over cereal, then carefully until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; gently shake until well coated. Spread on a cookie sheet to cool. Once cooled, store in airtight container.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What's the Deal?

First off, to the guy smoking a cigarette who was stopped at the light next to me the other day when it was finally nice enough to drive with the windows down: What's the deal with you sticking your arm so far out of your window that your cigarette was practically inside the passenger side of my car? I realize you don't want the stinky smoke inside your own car. Trust me, I want it in mine even less than you do.

Second, cat, what is the deal? What makes you think it is suddenly ok to sit on the Dining Room table.
Just cause you are a senior kitty doesn't mean the rules have changed.

Third, Hey Pepper plant?  What is the deal?  Where are my sweet red peppers?  Don't you know it is the second week in August?
What happened to those 2 cute little blossoms you had four weeks ago?  Let's get on the ball.

Fourth, that goes for you too tomato plants.  What is the deal?  Last year I was swimming in little wee grape tomatoes.  This year?  Nuthin.  Not so much as a single blossom.  Your leaves look healthy enough.  We make sure you get enough water, so what is the deal???

At least the Zinnias and Marigolds seem to be enjoying themselves.  Blossom away little ones.  Blossom away.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chipotle's Cilantro Lime Rice Fail

You can't win 'em all. It's been a while since I had a massive fail in the kitchen. Cilantro lime rice a la Chipotle's from Gina's Skinny Recipes broke my successful streak.
I have no idea what happened. I followed the recipe exactly. No changes what so ever.  I even used long grain rice.  Maybe that was the problem.  Could it be that I've gotten so used to Jasmine rice that ordinary rice tastes weird?  Or maybe the cilantro from the garden was bad.  I did harvest the last of it before it went to seed.  I did wonder if the lime juice I used was the culprit.  It said it had a whole month left before it expired, but maybe it went bad early.  I tossed it out just to be safe.

It was so weird.  The first two bites tasted awesome, then it was just plain gross.  Blockette said the same thing.  I've never known something to taste good for the first few bites and then so nasty from then on.  I painfully pitched the rest of the rice in the garbage, including the stuff I heaped on our plates.  Luckily, Mrblocko had to work late that night, so he didn't have to suffer through my kitchen disaster.

Chipotle's "Skinny" Cilantro Lime Rice from Skinny Taste
1 cup extra long grain rice or basmati rice
1/2 lime, juice of
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
3 tsp vegetable oil

In a small heavy pot, add rice, water, 1 tsp oil and salt. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce to low and cover about 15 minutes. Shut off flame and keep covered an additional 5 minute. In a medium bowl, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, rice and remaining oil and toss until completely mixed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Waterfall Braid

July has been insanely hot. So hot that I'm convinced I don't really have earwax, just melty brain coming out my auditory orifice. EW.

Blockette gets hot and sweaty even on mild days, so it's been quite a relief that she is allowing to me to put her hair up on a semi regular basis.  Mostly just French Braids and pony tails.  Nothing too special.  Two weeks ago I put her hair in a sort of bohemian twist on each side for church.  (I was in too much of a rush to get out the door to remember to take a picture.)  By the end of the service her hair had started to fall out.  If I ever try something like that again, her hair is going to have to be several days from being washed.  Her hair is just too fine to be cooperative without some natural hair oils/grease in it.

This Sunday I wanted to try something different as well.  I had seen several videos online about waterfall braids this past week, so I was anxious to give that a try.
I think it turned out pretty well. There was no issues with the hair falling out at all. Her hair ended up looking the same on the way home as it did on the way to church.  Yay!
I think the style looks better from the back than from the front, but Blockette thought she looked like a princess with the braid on the side.  Now if I can only figure out what to do about her bangs.  She wants to grow them out, but they are at that gross in between stage that always drives me bonkers.

Perhaps I could start this braid on the other side of her part and have her braids incorporated into the French braid.  Then, maybe that would tone down the shaggy look from her bangs.

Anyone have any other suggestions of what to do with Blockette's bangs in the medium stage of growing them out?  We've also tried a headband but the bangs just stick straight out from the headband, which is worse than if we did nothing at all.  They are still just a bit too short to clip back with a hair clippie. 

Asian Grilled Chicken

More marinade! Can you really have enough marinade recipes? Of course not. Have I mentioned how much I love summer? And the fact that my husband loves to grill. I look forward to the weekends so much because it means I don't have to heat up the house. Sometimes I even have him grill up enough meat for us on the weekends so I don't have to turn the oven on all week. Yeah. That's what I'm talkin bout Wilis.

Anyhow, today's featured recipe is called Asian Grilled Chicken from Not Rachael Ray. I forgot to take a picture again. I'm enjoying being lazy in the kitchen so it is extra easy to forget to lug that heavy heavy camera all the way down that half flight of stairs from the computer room. I hope you can feel my pain.

I have no idea the weight of the meat I used. I just used 3 enormous freakishly mutant chicken breasts and halved the recipe. I also pounded the chicken flat, cut it into strips, and wove them onto bamboo skewers.

I know you are supposed to soak the skewers before you use them. I don't anymore. I've forgotten one too many times to do this and only the very tips of the skewers get charred. This doesn't bother me and saves me from having to remember one more step in the kitchen. Remember I mentioned grilling season is lazy time for me in the kitchen?  I'm just letting you know that it is ok for you to be lazy too.

Asian Grilled Chicken from Not Rachael Ray
Two 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
6 Tbsp light soy sauce (reduced sodium)
3 Tbsp white vinegar
3 tsp white sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2.5-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

Mix all ingredients except chicken in a bowl. Place chicken in zip top bag. Pour marinade in bag and place in refrigerator for at least 4hours (I put my bag in a pan or bowl just in case of leakage). Grill over medium direct heat until juices run clear and chicken is cooked through.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday 30.11

Whooops!  How did I miss Thursday?  I had this list typed, or at least mostly typed but spaced out on Thursday I guessed.  Well, here is this week's list:
1. The weirdness in our water is just air, not toxic funk.
2. Getting rid of 2 garbage bags full of junk from the computer room. (It's a tiny room that was relatively tiny, how did all of it fit in there?)
3. Sleeping the whole night in bed.
4. Talking with my mom after a frustrating afternoon/night with Blockette.
5. Deciding not to walk 4 blocks in the insanely hot and humid ozone action swamp grossness.
6.  Air conditioning. (I'm convinced I'd melt just like the wicked witch of the west without it.)
7. Finally...days not in the 90+!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8. Leftovers that went one more day than expected.
9. Back to school sales.
10. Being able to turn the AC off and not melt, for at least one day.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thin Mint Brownie Cheesecake Bars

I made these "Thin Mint" Brownie Cheesecake bars for something, but it was so long ago, that I can't quite remember what it was. Probably as a Father's Day dessert. I put the Thin Mints in quotations, because I used Keebler brand Grasshoppers.  They taste the same to me, and unlike Girl Scout cookies, they aren't insanely expensive.
I wanted to make a 9x13 pan of brownies, but I didn't have enough ingredients with the recipe I had intended. (Read the directions before you go to the store. Don't be like me.) So I improvised and combined the recipe for Brownie Cheesecake bars from The Dinner Ring with the Thin mint cheesecake swirl from Sweet pea's kitchen.

Here is what I did:
1 Family size brownie mix (for a 9x13 pan) and the ingredients needed on the box (or your favorite brownie recipe if you are ambitious enough to do that sort of thing from scratch)
1 1/3 c coarsely chopped thin mint or grasshopper cookies
8 oz softened cream cheese
2 T butter
1T cornstarch
1 (14oz) can condensed milk
1 egg
1 3/4 t vanilla
1/4 t peppermint extract

Preheat your oven to 350.  Prepare brownie mix per the box, and add chopped thin mints.  Put half of the brownie mix in 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Spread the batter out carfully with a spatula so the batter is covering the whole pan.  Mix cream cheese,  butter and cornstarch til fluffy, gradually add the condensed milk.  Then add egg,  vanilla, and peppermint extract.  Blend until combined.  Pour over brownie, base smoothing to cover the top of the brownie batter.  Scoop dollops of the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake batter. Swirl the two batters together with a knife.  Top with additional crumbled cookies if desired Bake for 25-40 minutes until cheesecake is set.  I baked mine for 30 minutes and it was a bit on the soft side when it cooled.  It was still tasty, but messier to eat, so keep that in mind when you are figuring out how long you need to bake the bars.  Store cooled bars in the fridge.  Cut the bars with a plastic knife for a nice clean cut and try not to eat the pan in one sitting.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ice Cream in a Baggie

What to do on a hot hot day when you are trying to entertain two almost First graders? Make ice cream of course! I saw the directions for ice cream in a bag over at Two Little Hooligans and knew it would be the perfect activity for Blockette and her best friend "M".
This was a lot of fun, but very VERY messy.

A little tip from me to you.  Make sure that your gallon size zip bag is a FREEZER bag, and not a regular run of the mill zip storage bag.  The rough crystals of the Sea salt WILL tear tiny holes in your bag and you will get lots and lots of salty water EVERYWHERE.

Messiness aside, the ice cream was a lot of fun to make.  The kids were amazed when the "milk" turned from a liquid to a squishy solid.  Super magical.

Don't expect the resulting ice cream to be the same consistency of the stuff you can buy in cartons.  The ice cream to be more like soft serve.  And, if your kids like to make "ice cream soup, " be warned that excessive stirring of the ice cream will turn it into a liquid, very quickly.  Blockette and her friend made "soup" and it turned to liquid so quickly that I just gave them straws to finish up their bowls.  

Homemade ice cream in a baggie
from two little hooligans
2 T sugar
1 cup half & half (or light cream)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarse salt
gallon-sized Ziploc bag
pint-sized Ziploc bag

Mix the sugar, half & half and vanilla extract together. Pour into a pint-sized Ziploc baggie. Make sure it seals tightly. Now take the gallon-sized Ziploc bag and fill it up halfway with ice and pour the salt over the ice. Now place the cream filled bag into the ice filled bag and seal. Make sure it is sealed tightly and start shaking. Shake for about 5 minutes (or 8 minutes if you use heavy cream.) Open the gallon-sized bag and check to see if the ice cream is hard, if not keep shaking. Once the ice cream is finished, quickly run the closed pint-sized baggie under cold water to quickly clean the salt off the baggie.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cake Batter Blondies

I had this awesomely brilliant idea to walk to the library one day.  The whole thing is about 3 miles round trip.  Three miles Blockette and I can handle no sweat.  The day was not hot, there was even a nice cool breeze.  A perfect day you might say for a nice long walk.

What I didn't take into consideration was the library books.  The library books I had to haul back to return, and the new ones I had to haul home.  Ugh.  I have no intention of doing that again anytime soon.  By the time I got home I was POOPED. 
Pooped...but I wanted dessert.  Hey, after lugging a metric ton of books 3 miles, I DESERVED desert.  This recipe for cake batter blondies from girl meets life seemed really easy, and it had sprinkles.  Sprinkles!  Sprinkles make everything all better.

Got your cake mix? Check.  Your milk, eggs, and oil?  Yup. White chocolate chips and sprinkles?  Ok you are ready to go!  Mix all that stuff together and in 20 min you have cake batter blondie goodness. 

Just make sure that you don't over bake these precious little gems.  You want the center to be slightly gooey.  I tried to take a picture of the gooey center, but apparently gooey isn't very photogenic.

Now, this dessert is tasty still warm out of the oven, but once it is cooled completely, the cake batter goodness really shines.  If you can manage to wait to eat this until it is cooled you will be a much happier camper.

Mrblocko is not a fan of eating batter of any kind.  (I'm not so much anymore because I am not a fan of salmonella.  I do have fond memories of licking the bowl as a kid.  Om nom nom!)  I was fairly certain that Mrblocko was going to let Blockette and I demolish the entire pan ourselves.  Nope.  Even he thought this was a tasty dessert.  Oh well.  It probably wouldn't have been the best idea for Blockette and I to eat an entire pan of this ourselves!

Cake batter blondies from Girl Meets Life
1 box yellow cake mix
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/3 – 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Add the milk slowly – you want the batter to remain as dense as possible. Then mix in the rainbow sprinkles and white chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

Monday, August 1, 2011

11' Happy Dance #15: Petticoat Skirt/Apron

When I saw the petticoat skirt tutorial over at Alisa Burke, I thought it was just the cutest little skirt ever. I don't think I'd have the guts to wear something like that in public, but I knew Blockette would, especially if I made a pink version.  My intention was to give it to her for her birthday.  Alas, that was not to be.
Oh sure, it looks all beautimous and twirly, and oh so very girly.  Except, since I was making this skirt as a surprise, I just traced one of her existing skirts to get the pattern, instead of measuring the kiddo.  What I didn't realize until I had attached all those ruffles, was that I didn't take into account that the skirt I traced had elastic in the back.  I had made the skirt too narrow for wee missy's hips.  Doh! At least I realized my mistake before I gifted it.

Lucky for me, I cut those ruffle strips with pinking sheers.  I wanted them to have a raw looking edge, but I wanted to keep the fraying under control.  So I just cut down the back of the dress with the pinking sheers.  (You cannot believe how much I cringed when I did this.) Then, I attached some super wide lace at each side of the waistband, so now the ruffle skirt is a ruffle apron.

Yikes!  Look at that huge gap.  What was I thinking?
I'm not sure if Blockette will use the skirt for anything other than dress dress up. At least Blockette likes this type of apron skirt for playtime.  She'll probably get more use out of an apron anyhow.  If I had sewn the skirt the right size, once her hips and waist grew,  the skirt would no longer fit, but as an apron I'm only limited by the ability to tie the straps.

July Reads

Ok!  Now this is more like summer reading.  I finally got a hold of some decent books.  That, and there is absolutely nothing on TV at night, even though DirecTV gave us some free movie channels as a Thank You for being long time members.  There isn't even anything worth while on there.  I mean it is such a wasteland that we even watched the "Jesus is Aliens" movie (AKA Knowing).  Gag Gag.  Anyhow, here's my listerini-poo:

1. The Scoop: How to Change Store Bought Ice Cream into Fabulous Desserts by Lori Longbotham.  This was a dud of a cookbook for me.  Nothing that I haven't seen online before, and worst of pictures in the book.

2. The Ice Cream Lover's Companion:The Ultimate Connoisseur's Guide to Buying, Making, and Enjoying Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt by Diana Rosen. Again, pretty worthless in the recipe department for me, and what is the deal with having no pictures in a cookbook?  Seriously.  This is why I like to get recipes from blogs.  A bad picture is better than none at all.  At least this book had some interesting facts about the history of ice cream, so it wasn't a total wash.

3. Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen by Sara Foster.  I checked this cookbook out because my best friend sent me a list of new cookbooks that had been recently released.  This was one of the few on that list that my library had in circulation.  This book had quite a long wait list so it took a while before I got a chance to check it out.  The pictures were gorgeous, but the recipe book was a big dud for me.  I guess I'm just a Yankee girl with Yankee taste buds.  If you are a fan of Southern Cuisine, then this book would definitely be a winner.

4. The Ice Cream Bible by Marilyn and Tanya Linton.  Are you sensing a theme yet?  Did you know July was National Ice Cream month, so it's only fitting to read all these ice cream books.  I'm really fascinated by the idea of making ice cream from scratch.  Now that I have a stand mixer, I've been drooling over the ice cream attachment.  Although two recipes caught my eye that don't require an ice cream maker.  SCORE!  I went through this book looking specifically for the non custard ice cream recipes.  The thought of using eggs in ice cream grosses me out.  With my luck I'd under cook or curdle the custard and either version is blecky in my book.

5. Ice Cream and Iced Desserts by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis.  Every recipe has a picture.  YES!  This is what a recipe book SHOULD look like.  Now this didn't have nearly as many non egg recipes a the Ice Cream Bible did, but the eye candy alone more than made up for it.

6.A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught me About Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter by William Deresiewicz.  Dude.  Jane Austen from a male perspective!  And he likes the books and learned life lessons from it?  Woah.  Now I'm looking at Jane in a different light.  Some of the stuff he points out is so true and basic I'm like, "Now why didn't I see that?"  Great read for Austen fans.

7. Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell.  Gen, a teenage girl, is forced to accompany her family to a camp where you live life as if it was 1890.  She manages to sneak in a cellphone in order to communicate with her friends.  One of her friends turns those texts into a blog.  By the end of the book, predictably, Gen discovers that she actually liked living at the camp as a pioneer.  I loved this book.  The subject matter, the story arc, the characters, Gen's revelations, and the writing were all so engaging.  I wish there was a sequel!

8. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.  Book 1 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.   First off I have to figure out why my library only carries book 1 and book 3 in the series.  What's up with that?  This book is about a princess who is fed up what she should do and what is expected of her so she volunteers to become a Dragon's princess.  This was an amusing quick read geared toward middle school aged kids.  The princess reminded me a bit of Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching, but without the dry British humor.

9. Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houk.  This book is geared toward teenage girls, but I enjoyed it anyhow.  It's based on a story of an Indian prince that was cursed to live his life as a tiger, except for 24 minutes a day.  This girl falls in love with the prince/tiger and works toward helping him break the curse.  Lots of adventure, magic, and romance.  It's nice to see a teen romance novel that isn't smutty, just lots of kissing.

10. Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Zombie time!  Why wouldn't you name the forest that surrounds your town that is filled with Zombies, The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Someone got creative. The main character, Mary, is fascinated by the stories she has been told by her mother about the ocean, something no one else in the town believes exists.  Then Mary's mother gets "turned" and Mary has to decide if she is going to join the convent, or marry the brother of the boy she is in love with.  The nuns have all these secrets, then their town is breached by the undead.  Mary and a few others escape down a hidden path.  Very riveting dystopian young adult literature.  I couldn't put the book down.  I am all set to read the sequel The Dead Tossed Waves.  I hope it's as good as the first one.

11. The Throne of Fire: Kane Chronicles book 2 by Rick Riordan.  I had forgotten what had happened in the first book, but luckily the author does a good job in the first few chapters throwing hints of the past book's plot.  This is a typical kid's sci-fi fantasy book.  Orphans have super powers and have to save the day.  The Kane children come from the result of the joining of 2 powerful Egyptian magical lines, so of course they have uber magical skills.  The big baddy of Chaos is about to break out of his prison and they have to find a way to free Ra to save the day.  There is a brief moment in the story where I wasn't sure who was good and who was bad, and which side was even the good side.  I liked that.  Too much predictability is not a fun read for me.  I love the chapter titles too.  Make sure you pay attention to them, cause they will give you a chuckle. 

12. Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houk.  I loved the sequel to Tiger's Curse almost as much as I loved Tiger's Curse itself.  This book has fairies in it.  FAIRIES!  I would like to state for the record that I totally want a fairy makeover.  AND fairy hair clips.  And by that I mean Fairies who hold my hair like hair clips.  I cried at the end.  I had a hunch about what was going to happen but I still got all weepy.  They better fix it in the third book is all I can say.  I'm anxiously awaiting book 3 to come out this fall.