Friday Favorites

Friday FavoritesEnjoying Spring!

Perfect late night dinner for B and I.

Various indoor and outdoor planters for a range of plants from succulents to flowers.

Lego bands. Totally awesome.

“Hey I’m running to Costco, want to ride along?” is the thirty year old married with children equivalent of a lunch date.

Love the cool paint tones and the mix of blues.

Flashbulb memories.

A great summer date night look.

Pretty sure Pan’s Labyrinth is not the labyrinth they are talking about. Cause that was terrifying.

A slightly complicated but terrific hexagon ring plate DIY.

We rise by lifting others.

Four ways to wear white jeans for summer.

And finally, breakfast for the weekend: blueberry bran muffins.

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Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole

broccoli and wild riceA very simple weeknight dinner, provided you don’t burn the wild rice first. The main issue with this recipe is the time it takes to cook the wild rice beforehand, hence me forgetting about it. My suggestion? Cook it early in the day or the day before and then refrigerate until ready to use.

Broccoli & Wild Rice Casserole

Ingredients

1 cup of wild rice prepared according to package directions (it will be about 2-2 1/2 cups after cooking)

3-4 cups fresh broccoli florets chopped slightly

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided.

1/4 tsp garlic powder, salt, and pepper

1/2-1 cups chicken broth

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine rice, broccoli, spices, 1 cup of cheese and 1/2 cup of chicken broth in a large bowl and mix well. Add more chicken broth if the mix seems dry. Spray a casserole dish (I used a 1 3/4 quart) with canola oil. Add the rice mix to the dish and top with remaining cheese. Cook for 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly (you may need to cook it an additional 5-10 minutes if you refrigerated the rice).

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Summer Survival Plan: Part I

summer survival plan[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

As J and I were browsing the toy section of Barnes and Noble the other day, I started thinking about our summer fun box from last year. This lead to me thinking about the plan I’ve been working on, called “avoiding spinning our wheels this summer”. So here is what I have on my list so far:

1 & 10: Creating our own stories and poems. This is one of A’s very favorite things to do right now, and I love this unique set of mix and match cards and poetry book will help him come up with some great ideas.

2: A new large scale puzzle that the boys can work together to assemble.

3: Since it looks like our idea of getting a pergola for the back patio is out the window for now, a large scale umbrella to block the wicked morning sun.

4: A scribble and write pad for J to work on while A does IXLs.

5 & 6: Perler beads and square boards to create our 3-D Minecraft objects.

7: Molds for our Lego statue art.

8 & 9: New yard toys and small pool for the backyard. I also have my eye on this slip and slide and this cool tetherball set.

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A lake of chocolate…

J has been asking for several weeks to go to the trail, and this past Friday while A was at school, despite both B and I having caught J’s cold, we headed out to his beloved trail. The things you do for your kids, I tell ya.

Lake of ChocolateJ trots at a slow pace, unless B gets too far ahead and then he runs ahead yelling “wait for me! wait for me!” This always reminds me of me trying to keep up with my Dad when I was little. One day they are all going to walk too fast for me, I’m sure.

IMG_3869When we reached J’s favorite stopping point, the stream/mini river, we were surprised to find it not only high, but completely mud filled. As many times as we have stopped here, it amazes me that it is different every time. We have seen it completely washed out, to the point we couldn’t walk up to the edge, and completely dried up where we could walk out towards the middle to gather rocks. We have seen it completely clear so we could see the bottom. However, we have never seen it look like the lake from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Chocolate LakeThe mud was caked up high on the landing and hardened from the sun. J found this infinitely interesting, inspiring him to stomp on the dry mud and compare it to the wetter mud near the rocks. Which made for some messy shoes, but since it was for the sake of scientific discovery I let him test to his heart’s delight. As we bid the muddy lake good-bye, J ceremoniously tossed all of the sticks he had collected on our walk, and trudged back to the car, excited about the trip and excited about the Gatorade waiting for him at home.

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Root Beer Floats and Vanilla Ice Cream

Root Beer FloatsYa’ll (and you know I don’t use ya’ll lightly) what is happening to ice cream?? First, Blue Bell, then Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams? Sheesh. Anyway. I’m making our own, because my boys are hooked on it (and by boys I mean mainly B. HA!). I decided after getting a simple recipe down pat, to venture into the world of custards. The difference in simple and custard is, of course, eggs and time commitment. It’s going to take you a little longer to put it together, but the results are definitely worth it.

My recipe is a combination of both this one (from an episode of Dinner at Tiffani’s that A and I watched together, while reading a new TMNT comic this past Friday night) and the Cuisnart basic vanilla custard. It’s delicious and straightforward. You can master it and make your own root beer floats by dinner time (as long as you start in the morning. It has to chill and such.)

Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients

4 egg yolks

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups reduced fat milk (or whole milk)

1 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tsp of vanilla extract

Directions

For the vanilla ice cream: blend the eggs on low speed in a large mixing bowl. Blend in the milk on low speed, until incorporated; then slowly add the sugar, blending until completely dissolved. Then slowly stir in the heavy cream, incorporating completely.

Pour the mixture into a double boiler with simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Cover and let the ice cream cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes) and then cool for three hours (or overnight) in the fridge. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

To make the root beer floats: Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top with root beer. Delight in your kids’ excitement over getting to have in A’s words, “soda and ice cream in one day! Woo hoo!”

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Friday Favorites (On a Saturday)

Friday FavoritesHiii-yaaa!!

It’s Saturday. Afternoon. Let’s just pretend it’s Friday morning, okay? I’m in the weeds a bit here with grading, which always seems to be the case. I have about 40 papers to get done between now and Tuesday and half nap times and night times to do them in. A is off at a play date with his cousin, so I don’t have him asking me every five minutes if he can play minecraft “nooowww”, and I’m rewarding getting a few speeches graded with updating my Friday Favorites. Enjoy!

What I eventually hope to move our dining table towards…or at least the top of it.

Loving the casual summer effect of a sweatshirt dress, but not the price tag. You could easily put a similar look together with this piece and this piece.

A genius “Hi Five” birthday party.

A marble tray DIY that will have you running to the hardware store to pick up the pieces, and possible your attic.

A global glam bedroom that looks casual, yet put together. And it’s a genius way to bring in ruffle without it becoming too girly-girl.

Icebox cake…still one of my most beloved childhood desserts.

Tassels that have me thinking about making another mobile for J’s room…is he too old for mobiles? Are we ever too old for mobiles?

A sweet birthday decor idea, but what I really loved was the gold and black embroidery hoops. Summer project!!

Perler beads into minecraft shapes. This is going to be our first Wednesday craft project for this summer.

Thoughts on the evolution of blogging.

A mango and avocado salsa perfect for warmer weather, and perfect for A.

Wonderful, amazing plaid. This reminds me of my very favorite dress from when I was 13. I kind of wish I had kept it.

Real volcano pics to show the boys as they are OBSESSED with the volcano at Bowser’s castle.

And finally, lemon cookie gelato.

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Lemon white chocolate chip cookies

Lemon white chocolate chip cookiesBesides rice krispy treats this is one of the top requested items at our house for dessert. It’s a Picky Palate recipe that you can find here, however, I have never been able to find lemon curd (or want to deal with trying to remember to keep it on hand). Instead I use the zest of one large lemon and about a 1/4- 1/2 of the juice (not a 1/4 cup of juice, but a 1/4 of the lemon). They never fail to get rave reviews and they keep really well (although they never last long in our house).

Lemon white chocolate chip cookiesThey are also perfect if you are trying to create dessert for a group that combined doesn’t like/can’t have the following: chocolate, fruit, peanut butter, or soy. So there’s that. Enjoy!

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The art of the dramatic fall

The boys LOVE roll playing (especially pretend sword fighting), and one of my favorite games they play is when they dramatically fall to the ground after they have been “wounded” by their opponent.

So first there is the warning yell…

dramatic fallThen the statement of something like “AND NOW YOU HAVE BEEN DEFEATED” (if it was J stating it, he would say “I capture you in the name of the hundred acre wood!” because he watches a lot of Winnie the Pooh):

Dramatic FallAnd thus the dramatic fall:

Dramatic FallAnd afterwards there is a rush of dramatics where one yells “OH NO! Call a medic!” or they are not as nice and they laugh manically and say “YOU’RE DEFEATED!!!”

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Personal Steak Pizza

Personal PizzaThis is my take on a Pioneer Woman recipe. Since ALL the boys in my house now only like pepperoni pizza, I have taken to making them an extra large pepperoni pizza and then making my own personal pizza. I make the dough from scratch, but you could also pick up dough from your local grocery store.

My personal pizza ingredients for this past week included:

Half a left-over sirloin steak sliced thin

1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Marinara sauce mixed with 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Arugula

I made it by:

Layering the sauce, then steak, then cheese on top. I baked it at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, and then piled the arugula on top while it cooled for about 5 minutes.

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Friday Favorites

Friday FavoritesA reading bedtime stories to J.

The color treatment I am asking for at my next hair appointment.

How to layer a room to make it looked lived in, loved, and stylish.

Peanut butter bars that I know would be an instant hit with the boys.

Seriously adorable DIY paper plants…the only plants we aren’t allergic to. Unless of course, it’s scented paper. Hahaha.

The basics of making a quesadilla with several great combination ideas. For the boys it’s always the “crisp” factor of the tortilla.

Moon phase pinatas out of left over cereal boxes. Genius!

A divine meyer lemon mousse with blackberries. As I continue to collect recipes in hopes my neighbors have an overage of meyer lemons to share…

So you want extra credit? Please tell me more about how you didn’t do the regular credit.

Love, love, love.

A rainy day hair style that I loved, until I tried it on my own hair and realized it was exactly how I used to do my hair when I was seven. However, I still wore it out. Boom.

So I’m loving several pieces from the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection…however, I don’t really want to have to get up at midnight when they go on sale in order to get them. They should have a pre-order. Or a “I promise not to re-sell it on Ebay to incoming college freshmen sorority hopefuls, who are hoping no one will notice this is Lilly Pulitzer for Target, not actual Lilly Pulitzer, because their parents said they were not paying 300 dollars a dress for actual Lilly Pulitzer, despite them saying the persuasive phrase “BUT MOM”.

And finally…simple cake, big impact. Perfection.

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