Saturday, September 21, 2013

Remember That Chair I Didn't Sand?: Blackberry Cobbler

One of L's favorite treats of all time is blackberry cobbler.  He's willing to brave the wasp, ticks, and chiggers to pick and freeze a couple gallons of blackberries when the season rolls around.  He really likes his blackberries.

During our chair refurbishing project I struck a deal with L. If he would do the sanding (because sandpaper destroys my nails, again don't judge) I'd make him a treat.  He agreed, and his treat of choice was blackberry cobbler.  So I grabbed a bag of his hand picked berries out of the freezer and threw one together.

I've found that berries freeze better if you don't wash them first.  After cleaning them I let them set in the flour and sugar for about 20 minutes to allow the berries to macerate.

I usually make my own crust but store bought will work just as well.  However, if you're planning to make a top crust I recommend the refrigerated dough not the frozen.

I always just crimp the edges with my fingers, doing it with a fork seems like too much trouble.  I cut a few slits in the top and sprinkle some sugar over it.

Blackberry Cobbler
5 cups blackberries
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter crisco
5 tbs cold water
To prepare crust: Mix flour and salt.  Cut in crisco until grainy, add water slowly.  Mix well, divide into two sections, and roll between wax paper sheets.  Place one layer in baking dish, fill, top with second layer.
To prepare cobbler filling: Mix berries, sugar, and flour.  Allow to set 15 - 20 minutes.  Place in pie crust and top with second crust layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 - 50 minutes, or until crust is browned.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer School: Congrats To The CNA's!

Last summer NTI started offering a CNA program.  GG and her friend P both plan to work in the health field after college.  So this summer they both voluntarily enrolled in the program, and they both did great.

For the last four weeks they've gotten up early (just like regular school), packed lunches (just like regular school), gone to class (just like regular school), done homework (just like regular school), and taken tests (just like regular school).  They also got up earlier (just like a real job), packed lunches (just like a real job), went to clinicals (very much like a real job), and came home needing a shower and a nap (just like a real job).

Since P was riding with GG and I, and they had to get up super early on the mornings they did have clinicals, she spent some nights at our house.  Want to know what you get when you throw one more teenage girl into a really small house that already contains two teenage girls?  Giggling chaos complete with slightly off key Full House rerun serenades every thirty minutes.

The first night before clinicals everyone was required to get their blood pressure and pulse taken before they could eat supper.  My mother knew this was going to be a requirement before she came to my house for supper, but she came anyway.  Yep, she's a brave brave woman.  I was allowed an exemption from this practice session because I was cooking supper.  They also practiced moving one another from the kitchen chair wheelchair to the couch bed using their trusty gait belts until I made them return the wheelchair to the kitchen and set the table.  They wanted to shave L, and in an effort to be supportive he agreed.  However, I had my reservations about that idea and distracted them with ice cream. 

They also learned other valuable life lessons.  P learned that we don't iron pants while they're still on the hanger.  GG learned that dawn dish soap will remove lotion from scrubs even after they've been washed and dried.  GG learned she really can take a complete shower on an 8 minute timer (because nobody wanted to see me morph into mean mommy...again).  P learned the difference between regular and petite sizes (she also learned how to roll her pants up like Webster until we could get them hemmed).

And they both learned that reading books can never quite prepare you for the real thing.  After picking them up from the first day of clinicals we had the following conversation:

Me: How did it go?

P: I thought there would be less poop.

Me: Yea, I thought the same thing about motherhood.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Creating A Rainbow Connection

My sister-in-law, LE, volunteers for CASA Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children.  Last October, CASA 20th Judicial District of Central Arkansas hosted their 11th Annual Festival of Chairs fundraiser.  The Girls and I decided we would decorate a chair to be donated for the auction, and since it was a family project L's participation was implied.

This was our finished product. (And by finished, I mean by the hair of our chinny chin chin, just days before the event.)

We found our chair at a flea market.  It was in somewhat sad shape and in need of some repair, so we talked the man down to $2 and brought it home to administer some TLC.

L made a replacement slat for the one that was broken
and repaired the slat that was cracked.
Then the Girls and I got to work on stripping off all the old paint and varnish,

cleaning off the chemicals (and what we're pretty certain was bird poop), and getting it ready to be sanded.

When it came time to do the sanding I played the girl card and L did that part for us (for a treat). Sandpaper is really hard on your nails. Don't judge!

That just left painting.  We decided to do a rainbow theme for two reasons; first, with the individual slats it would make a great rainbow and second, I had most of the paint already from my previous cake plate project.  Frugal me was thrilled (she's always much happier when the creative me wanna be stays on a budget).
Before we put paint to chair the Girls and I decided we needed a painting plan.  GG drew up some pictures of the chair and NG and I colored them in different paint patterns until we found one we could all agree on.
It took a total of two days to complete all of the painting.



Although you can't really see it in the picture there is a gold glitter on the slats because at the last minute the Girls and I decided every rainbow needs gold.  When I got in touch with LE to tell her the chair was ready and make arrangements to get it to her she asked for the name. 

Name?!?!  We found it, brought it home, replaced it's broken parts, glued it's weakened parts, stripped it, bathed it, sanded it, and repainted it.  We did not name it.  By this point my creative me wanna be was already looking for some sort of paint sniffing support group to check herself into, so the Girls decided to name it after The Carpenter's song Rainbow Connection.

I didn't tell them Kermit sang it first.  If we make another one maybe we can do a grass theme and name it Not Easy Being Green...

Monday, May 27, 2013

She Misses Me...She Really Misses Me!!

Once again my nest is missing a chick

GG is currently at Harding University participating in the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program.  This weekend I helped her pack and drove her to meet the family friend who would drive both our daughters down to the campus.  I will be picking them up on Friday and bringing them home.

Yesterday I received three phone calls:

- the first to let me know that  she had arrived safely (thank goodness!)
- the second to let me know that she had lucked out, gotten one of the best dorm rooms, it was basically an apartment, and all was just FABULOUS (umm...darn, great!)
- and the third to let me know she had been elected, was in the process of running for an office, their dorm toilet was clogged and due to the holiday it will probably be Tuesday before it can be fixed, and although they were friendly with the neighboring dorm room and could use their toilet it was really an inconvenience and was making her reevaluate the whole dorm living idea (awww, really?!?! as I fist pump the air and secretly smile to myself)  Don't judge!!

Today I received this text:

and then I received a phone call to tell me what has happened since the last time I spoke with her, what is suppose to happen until I speak with her again, and that she won't be needing that application in her room for Harding University because, "it's a nice campus and everything but I don't think it's really my thing and Momma it's really a ways from home...and I miss you"

That's right!  My baby chick is maturing into a homing pigeon.  I'm not saying I never want her to leave home, because I do.  However, it does my mommy heart good to know that she wants to come home. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Do A Little Dance, Sing A Little Song...Stay Up Late At Night!

Today has been a double whammy on the "YIPPEE" scale.

First, today is NG's birthday!  My baby is fourteen years old today.  Thank goodness I stopped aging last year or that might make me feel old.

Today we did lunch, made a Sonic run during "happy hour", and L picked up some chocolate crème horns at the bakery on his way home.  Friday I'll make my annual "it's NG's birthday" beer run and we'll have Grilled Beer Brats and cake. 

Secondly, today was The Girls official last day of school.  That's right! Can I get a woohoo?!?! 

There will be NO early bedtimes, NO early morning bus catching, and NO adhering to a strict school session enforced schedule.  There will be NO book reports (written about books that seem to torment not tantalize the young mind), NO progress reports (that, although they are good, still have the power to frighten both my children and I), NO school nurse reports (because my youngest has her mother's grace while walking falling down stairs).  There will be NO more permission slips, NO more "Right to Refuse" Forms, and NO more "the presence of at least one case of head lice has been verified on your child's bus" letters.  I will NOT be required to provide poster board, four dollars, a sack lunch, ten dollars, note cards, an "I didn't know you needed snack money today so take this" handful of change, another copy of the paperwork I've already provided, three dollars and a preference of color, excused absence notes, another ten dollars, glue sticks, an "I don't have that much cash I'll have to write a check" check, an entirely black outfit, two dollars...

This school year has been very good.  The Girls have held great grades.  NG won second place for her science fair project, received a Certificate Of Achievement for Science, and was awarded The President's Award For Educational Excellence.

Earlier this semester GG was honored as "Student of the Quarter".  She received a Writing Award for her work in Journalism and was inducted into the National Honor Society this year.  Next year NG will join GG at the high school and, for the first time in six years, The Girls will be on the same campus.

But for now The Girls and I are giddy with excitement to have this school year behind us and the summer break in front of us...and just so we get the summer break started off on the right foot...we're going shopping for celebratory shoes. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Time Flies When You Procrastinate: Pineapple Angel Food Cake

A few days weeks months (alright, it was August) I posted a recipe for Dump Cake.  My friend H commented and asked how many weight watcher points it would be.  I responded by telling her I didn't know (and that she probably didn't really want to) but that I had a great low point recipe I would try to get posted in the next couple of days.  Don't judge, I got busy pretending to be a caterer...and a vet.

I figured up the points for the Dump Cake on etools and based on a 15 serving ratio it would be 10 points per serving.  The Pineapple Angel Food Cake below is only 4 points per serving based on the same 15 serving ratio.

It's really simple, just two ingredients.  Do not drain your pineapple!

Preheat your oven and get everything ready before you mix the pineapple into the cake mix.  You must begin baking immediately or the mixture will begin to expand...and creep out of the bowl.  No joke!!

I always make this recipe in a 9X13 pyrex baking dish, and although it works fine, as you can see it does push the limits to the very tip top.

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

1 large can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 box angel food cake mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix both ingredients together and immediately pour into greased 9X13 baking dish and place in oven.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until sides begin to pull away from the pan and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Banana Coffee Cake: It's What's For Breakfast

Last weekend I decided to make Banana Coffee Cake for breakfast.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get butter when I was at the grocery store.  So after a quick search on google I decided to try substituting the butter with applesauce. 

Not only did it work but L and the Girls informed me they liked it better.  So it looks like the change might be permanent.

Banana Coffee Cake
1 cup butter (can substitute 1 cup applesauce)
3 cups sugar (use 2 1/4 cups sugar if using applesauce substitute)
4 eggs
2 tbs vanilla extract
2 cups mashed bananas
3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tbs baking soda
2 cups chopped pecans, optional
Cream butter (applesauce) and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.  Stir in bananas.  Add flour and baking soda to creamed mixture and mix until combined.  Fold in pecans.  Pour into well greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  

Optional frosting
3 tbs milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and pour over warm cake.

On another note, look what L brought home for me Monday night!  Yep, that's approximately two pounds of fudge...guess who wasn't out of butter!!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Working Hard Or Hardly Working...

...sometimes it's sort of like the same thing.

Last month AM's and I gathered at M's house to work on preperations for MB's wedding.  Want to know what you get when you mix one mother-of-the-bride, one bride-to-be, one used-to-be wedding coordinator, one would-be wedding caterer, coffee and wine?

A really fun, and yet still very productive, good time.

I made cream cheese mints, rolled them into balls...

 and I played a little.

 I made sausage balls, M rolled them into balls...

and she played a little.

AM's and MB made wedding decorations...

and then AM's decorated herself.

I think we can all agree we partied worked hard...

most of the time!

Monday, February 11, 2013

I'm Not A Vet...

but sometimes I play one in real life.

A couple of years ago our dog, Cricket, had a sore on her cheek that she refused to leave alone long enough for it to heal.  The Girls and I decided the solution to this problem was a "cone of shame".  So we purchased a plastic flower pot basket and made her one.

It worked great.  A week later the sore was completely healed so we removed the "cone of shame" and allowed her to begin putting the traumatic experience behind her.

A couple of months ago our cat, Smudge AKA The Hero, got a tick bite on his neck.  Unfortunately, what started out as a small tick bite quickly became a large sore when he refused to leave it alone.  I tried putting anti-itch cream on it but it didn't seem to help.  We tried making him leave it alone but he would just sneak off and scratch it anyway.  So finally I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.

Since I couldn't put him in a "cone of shame" I had to come up with something else.  I grabbed one of L's old tube socks and some duct tape and created him what I'm certain he considered to be the "hat of humiliation".  The are no words to describe how excited (yea, that's the word I'm going with) he was when I put that hat on.  Can't you just see the happy radiating off of him?!?!

Can you see it?  I was only able to find camouflage duct tape at the house, but I assured him that was a good thing since it would practically blend in.  Right?  Right?   

I'm happy to report the sore completely healed without any complications, and Smudge can almost look us in the eye again.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Let Me Introduce You To Kelly's Cakes!

Have you ever wondered who's responsible for the beautiful cake you see at a wedding reception?  Who is it that has the amazing talent and has invested the tremendous amount of time necessary to create that masterpiece the reception is centered around?

This particular piece of beauty was created by Ms. Kelly of Kelly's Cakes.

But don't be thinking it was just another pretty cake, it was so much more!

The bottom layer had a strawberry filling (with real strawberries)...

 the second layer was chocolate filled...

and the third layer was full of Bavarian cream.

We didn't cut the fourth layer, but rumor has it there was a chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries filling.  Yum!

Check out the calla lilies!  Aren't they beautiful?!?!  And they're edible.  Yep, made by Ms. Kelly herself.

In lieu of a groom's cake the couple decided to have a groom's cupcake tower instead.  And guess what?!?!  That's right!  Ms. Kelly does cupcakes!  Beautifully, I might add.

The finished products!

If you get the chance, go check out Ms. Kelly's Facebook page, Kelly's Cakes; and if you're in the market for a cake or cupcakes for any occasion consider giving her a call.  She makes wonderful products and offers great customer service.