Monday, March 30, 2015

Rollin' in Dough

I know you probably all thought that we must be starving over here since the "What We're Eating" posts disappeared for a while.  What can I say?  We got a dog, I became a Mary Kay lady and we've had colds, croups and ear infections aplenty.

But... I'm going to try to get back on track updating everyone with all of our comings, goings and eatings.

This week, I thought I would share my favorite Pizza Dough Recipe.  It comes from one of my fav cookbooks, Jamie at Home.  I have been making it since Aidan was a baby (along with several other recipes) and it is my absolute favorite.  It's easy.  It doesn't require anything too weird and it always turns out great.  It also makes a big batch so I can freeze few dough balls for another pizza night?

Just so you know:  I ALWAYS use the mix of high-gluten bread flour and semolina they mention.  But, feel free to throw caution to the wind and go with bread flour all the way!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gulliver's Travels

I missed my regular Tuesday craft post; but we were still crafting... "crafting" a good story to go along with this dog we brought home.  Surprise Dad!

Actually, it wasn't a TOTAL surprise.  When he messaged to find out where we were Tuesday evening, we texted him this....

"WHERE are you?" he asked.

"Westland," we said.

We actually hadn't gone there to GET a dog.  We were just browsing.  We found this guy online and went to take a peek.  He was just too sweet to leave behind.  Matt, being the good guy that he is, asked a few questions and then offered to pick up pizza.

Gulliver is a pretty sweet guy!  Matt thinks he looks like a Jim Henson creation.  As for "What We're Learning"... Sit.  Mostly Sit.  But he's really got it down.  In fact, he pretty much sits the moment anyone appears now, in the hopes of another treat.

He's had a bath at home and been to the groomers for a little trim...

...gotten his own hoodie...

...and received lots of TLC.  The people at the Humane Society said that they wanted him to go to a young family that would have lots of time to play with him because he had so much energy.

Mission Accomplished.

Monday, February 23, 2015

What We're Eating...Well...Ate.

Just a quick post today to share this YUMMY and EASY recipe we tried while Matt was in Japan.  You can find the link here!  I had been trying to clean out some odds and ends in the fridge left over from our last Door to Door box.  I googled pasta, mushrooms and broccoli and this popped up.  I had everything on hand so we went for it!  So glad!  It was a hit, easy to make and delicious!  It reheated well the next day for lunches, too!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Enameled Cast Iron and The Undead

I have been hoarding pans for several years now.  It all started with a dutch oven.  One winter, I decided that I NEEDED one in the worst way.  My dear sweet husband purchased a big, bright, blue doufeu from Le Creuset which we lovingly christened "William Doufeu".  An orange griddle pan soon followed and then lots of bright yellow bakeware.  Eventually, my mom and I developed a system (still in practice today) which suits us perfectly.  It goes a little something like this:

1.  Go to an outlet mall.
2.  Buy a fifty pound pan right at the beginning of your trip so you can carry it through the rest of the outlet mall.
3.  Attach its' sentiment to the nearest available holiday; and,
4.  Voila!  "It's a gift!  How could I  refuse!?!"

Well, up until very recently, I had been sort of "saving" these good pans in the back of my cupboard and using my everyday pans.  However, I do a lot of cooking and the everyday ones were really starting to wear out.  Rather than replacing them; which, I totally wouldn't MIND doing by the way, I decided to just embrace my fancy pans and start using them all the time.  They make ordinary dinners, like tonight's overcooked Tuna Noodle Casserole, seem oh, so chic.  

And, really, what am I waiting for??  Life is just too short not to use "the good pans".  If every show my husband watches is correct, then zombies and vampires are our most imminent threat and we'll soon be forced to start destroying the respective brains and hearts of all of our closest friends any day now.  Our total annihilation is literally right around the corner.  All of this has led me to consider the important things in life...  does the lifetime guarantee on enameled cast iron extend to The Undead; and, if I'm going to have to stab people in the head, I really should upgrade to the Henckels.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Feeling the (Free) Love!

Today, I thought I'd share something that will help you to appear Supermom-ish next Valentine's Day with minimal effort on your part.  I found this awesome free packet of Valentine's Day printables.  There were so many great things that we didn't even get to them all.  We ran out of time so I packed some away for next year!

On the Friday before Valentine's Day, we included some of them in our regular school work.  Annalise loved sorting the cutouts by size and then matching them with real conversation hearts.

Next, we all played several rounds of "Roll & Cover Sweethearts".  It was actually a really fun game that they could all play together! (The constant candy-eating may have had something to do with their willing participation.)

 On Valentine's Day, I surprised the kids with our usual table of Valentine fun!  We had heart-shaped pancakes and strawberries for breakfast.  At each of their places, I put more games and activities along with their Valentine presents.

Valentine graphing with their own boxes of conversation hearts was a BIG HIT!  They loved comparing their colors and amounts to see who had more or less of each color.

We also had sequencing pages, mazes and drawing practice.  I put everything in sleeve protectors and they used erasable markers.  This way, we can use our printables every year!

I think this was such a great package that I honestly would have happily paid for it!  You should hurry and print a copy just in case it disappears before next Valentine's Day!

Stay tuned next week, when I remember to turn my camera flash back on and all the pictures stop looking like I took them in a cave!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Conversation Hearts Get Personal

We were feeling pretty crafty this year for Valentine's Day so for the next few Tuesdays, I'll share some of our Valentine crafts... at least until you can't stand all the love anymore.  First up...these fun personalized "Conversation Hearts" for the kids.

I found these wooden hearts at Michaels for .99 and I just couldn't resist!    I just gave them each two coats of acrylic paint.

When the paint was nice and dry, I lightly traced a straight line so that I could line my letters up neatly.  (Note:  I should have also measured so that I could center things... thank goodness there were some exclamation points I could tack on the end!)

Next, I applied these fun, puffy white sticker letters to spell out each of their names.  I had to spring for two packs since we need about five hundred A's.

I sprayed them with a thin coat of clear lacquer to shine them up and help seal the stickers on more permanently.

When they were totally dry, I hot glued a ribbon loop to the back of each one.

I think they turned out super cute. They were cheap, fun and easy to make! They were certainly less time-consuming than our homemade conversation hearts a few years ago!

I hung them on the kids' chairs after they went to bed as a surprise for Valentine's Day.  We usually try to have a fun Valentine's Day morning every year.  I always set the table with lots of pink and red dishes and decorate it with ribbon and flowers and little treats!  I'll share more of that later this week!

My plan is to use these as decorations on their bedroom doors every year.  I'd like to do something similar for them for each of the holidays and just hang little hooks on the doors that we can use to rotate decorations... guess I better start hunting for shamrocks!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pretty Pictures of Some Subpar Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is something of a mystery in this house.  It used to be the ONLY convenience food that all three of my kids would eat.  Then, one day, when Aidan was four, I made a terrible mistake.  I bought a box of dinosaur mac and cheese that was deemed "scary" and that was the end of that.  He has literally never eaten it again. He is older, wiser, braver and even a fan of dinosaurs; but, he will have nothing to do with mac and cheese of any kind.

The girls are another matter.  They love macaroni and cheese.  They like it in restaurants, made from scratch recipes at home and in a box.  The only problem is that they only like it in SOME restaurants, made from scratch at home SOME of the time and in SOME boxes.  This sounds like it would be easy enough to solve:  just make or buy the kind they like, right?  The only problem is that the macaroni they like (and don't like) doesn't seem to have ANY definable qualities or common traits.  It seems to be one giant game of hit or miss and I literally have no idea how to play this game.  I can buy a three pack of boxed mac & cheese and Addie will like two of the boxes, while Annalise only likes the third one.  In a restaurant, I will only let one of them get it now so that there will be another meal to share if things should go awry.  Annalise loves the mac and cheese at Zingerman's Roadhouse; but, it is just way too "real" for Ads.  And at home, who knows?  I think I might have stirred it with the wrong spoon and ruined the last batch??

So... I'm always on the hunt for the PERFECT Macaroni & Cheese that will satisfy everyone.  Coupled with my hunt for the ideal stuffing, it is kind of my eternal quest.  It has to meet these requirements:  the girls will eat it, there will be enough noodles left for Aidan to have them plain, it has enough of a gourmet feel to make me happy; and Matt, well, he doesn't care, he's just happy we saved him some.

I had high hopes for this one I found in Honest Pretzels.  It's a kids' cookbook I found at the library.  I had hoped it would be kid-friendly; but still tasty.  It turned out to be neither. Mostly, it was just mustardy.  Very, very mustardy.  It was rather photogenic, though.  It also makes a nice big batch and because no one likes it, the leftovers last quite a while!  

Friday, February 13, 2015

We laugh periodically.

Today, I thought I'd let Aidan entertain you with his new favorite song.  He sings it all the time and it's super cute!  They listened to a youtube video of this song in one his homeschool science classes.  He LOVED it and apparently sang it nonstop until he had it memorized.  In fact, I was walking across the parking lot with him after his class and a car stopped.  A woman I had never met rolled down her window and yelled, "Hey!  That's the kid with the element song!  It's so funny! Come here and sing it!"

When he got home, he used his book, The Elements, by Theodore Grey, to try to memorize all of them.  I highly recommend this book.  Aidan has read it cover to cover and I still always find him flipping through it at bedtime.  It's not a kids' book; but, it is kid-friendly and really well-written.  I'm excited to order his new book about Molecules.

The girls try to join in; but, mostly Annalise just rides in the car chanting, "Lithium, Lithium, Lithium, Lithium..."

You can find the video here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fried Dough and the Punic Wars

I know I'm supposed to provide you with some educational insights on Thursdays for "What We're Learning"; but, instead I thought I would share this randomness I found when I was searching through unfinished posts from last year.  It was already entitled "Fried Dough and the Punic Wars"(???)  I hadn't actually written anything, just posted pictures of the kids making elephant ears in their pajamas.  I think it had something to do with Hannibal going... somewhere???... on an elephant and I had planned to tie all of these things neatly together in some witty essay.  But I didn't.  And I forgot where Hannibal was going anyway.  So...think of this as a jumping-off point for your own research.  Or just go make some elephant ears with this handy, graphic tutorial.