With Just a Bit of Magic

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With Just a Bit of Magic: July 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Worst Sunburn Ever!

I really have to say first of all ... DO NOT DO THIS! You will get burnt and on top of that smell bad.

I think that it must have been the summer between my junior and senior year of high school and of course my parents were gone so I took the opportunity to have my girlfriends over. We went swimming, laid out in the sun, party at a friends house later than night, and all that fun summer stuff.

Now, to the good part. I couldn't find the sun tan oil... only sunblock. And I did not want sunblock I mean how was I to get a good tan if I had sunblock on. Since I couldn't find the sun tan oil we substituted vegetable oil. Yea... vegetable oil. This proves that kids are not always as smart as they think they are.

By the end of the day I thought I had a pretty nice tan. Went into shower and realized that I was actually burnt and that the hot water did not feel all that good and on top of that the damn vegetable oil did not wash off as well as I'd thought.

So, the evening progresses... I got the oil off but not the horrible smell. I'm sure that I smelled like a french fry or something! And of course I got more red as the night went on and it was not fun.

It was the kind of sunburn that no matter how hot it is outside you get the chills, radiate heat from your entire body, and are red for several days. Did I mention that it was not fun?

The vegetable oil smell didn't go away for almost a week and to this day when I smell it I think of that summer.

Okay... now you can laugh until your hearts content.

Mama's Losin' It


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Best Recipe Blogs

I love cooking & baking. Even more than that I love eating and I swear it's amazing that I'm not as big as a house! I'm no twig by any means though and am constantly working on losing weight and eating healthy.

I've been pondering some of the blogs that I visit on a regular basis for recipes and cooking related things. And there are a few that really stand out in my mind.

The first one is 101 Cookbooks and it's all about Heidi Swanson and her travels, life, and the recipes that come from that. All of her recipes are vegetarian and tend to use all natural, fresh ingredients. They're amazing recipes and I've made so many of them! Now, I should mention that I'm not a vegetarian, but her recipes are easy to add fresh fish, shrimp, chicken, or other meat to.

The next one I'd recommend is Simply Recipes. This food & recipe blog is written by Elise Bauer and has some of the best recipes and some great comfort food! One of my favorites has to be the Banana Bread. It's made with one bowl, no mixer, and the simplest ingredients that you can almost memorize the recipe. My kids and I have made this at least a dozen times and have added different things (sour cream, cream cheese, applesauce, etc) or just made it the way the recipe as it's written. I often buy extra bananas just so we can make the bread!

My final blog is a favorite because it's all about baking. And if nothing else I LOVE to bake! If I could I'd open a bakery and have wonderful cakes, pies, cookies, breads, and everything in between. Not So Humble Pie  is written by Ms. Humble and she creates some yummy looking baked goods! I haven't been following this blog all that long since I only recently learned about it from a co-worker. My kids have loved going through the blog to point out all the things we need to make and enjoying the cool science cookies and then planning on what kind we'll decorate and submit!

There are several more blogs that I read that are food related, but these are my favorites. I hope that you enjoy them! 

Now tell me what food blogs do you read?


A note from my blog

I got this little note today from my blog and I guess I should find some free time. What do you think?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meijer Garden Trip

Last weekend my family and I took a trip to Grand Rapids to Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. If you live here in Michigan I suggest you take a day and spend a few hours there just wandering around looking at everything that they have to offer.

Through the end of September they're having an exhibit of Dale Chihuly glass. And it's an amazing exhibit! Last year was the first time that I had ever seen the glass work that he does at the Flint Institute of Arts and was very impressed with it. If you ever have a chance I'd really recommend seeing it.

The collection was both inside and outside throughout the sculpture park, some in the water and some were stuck in the ground.

Here are a few pictures of some of the ones that are my favorites.

This one is just outside the doors as you go out to the sculpture gardens. It reminds me of amethysts.

This reminds me of so many things, a fluffy dandelion, a star, or a gigantic peice of dust! It's placed in a pond with several floating spheres that are in a rainbow of colors.

Here's the waterfall and koi pond, which also has these large, colorful spheres. Knowing how delicate glass can be it's incredible how they have all these pieces of art placed in the water and woods and are left out there.

For now, this is the final picture. This piece is in the Victorian Garden and stands well over 7 or 8 feet tall!

The glass work is truly amazing and like I said, if you ever get a chance to see it go do it. You won't be sorry that you did!

Crap!! Turn it off!!!

I just stumbled upon Mama Kat's Writers Workshop and thought this would be fun! Especially with the topics that she chose! The tough part was deciding which one to write on. I finally decided to go with the "mom of the year moment"!

A movie you probably should have previewed before letting your kids watch.

Oh... where to start! I mean I've had this moment more times than is acceptable. But in my defense it's only been with my oldest daughter who is 14 (going on 23). 

Let's start with the first 'incident' I had heard of this new show on HBO called True Blood and knew that it was a book series and sounded pretty good. So, we sat down to watch the first episode.... yea, if you've watched you know what happens in the first 5 minutes or so and you're either gasping in horror at me or laughing. Oops. 

Moving on. The second incident. I'm at the video rental store and the husband told me to pick something out. I figured okay, I can do this. I got a movie that looked pretty funny based on the previews we'd seen on TV. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is rated R and we've seen R rated movies that weren't that bad. Again. Wrong. Holy Crap! Full frontal nudity!

Seriously, you can't move fast enough to get the remote and turn it off! And in those moments you fumble like an idiot! 

My daughter says, "Good job, mom",  the husband says, "Yea, good job mom".

Because I knew that these movies/tv shows were that .... what's the word.... adult oriented. And now I know and they tease me often about it and usually don't let me pick movies anymore.

It's a good thing that my daughter is well adjusted.

Oh... by the way... we preview a bit more before we let her watch movies now.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Are you on BlogFrog?

I've added a widget for BlogFrog! I joined the community when I started the 31 Days to a Better Blog and have found a lot of support, help, and great ideas! Even better... I've found some great new blogs to follow!

Take a few minutes to check it out and sign up!

Day 2 - My List Post

Today's task is to write a list post and I've spent half the day pondering what to write about. It's a lot harder when you're given a writing assignment for as opposed to writing about whatever pops into my head at the moment!

I've been pondering a post about a 'Bucket List'. You know, all the items that you want to do before you die, but I was thinking that mine would be more of the things I want to do before my kids move out or before I hit 50 type thing. A short term bucket list. This isn't going to be that post. I think I want to save that for another time.

I've been thinking about the things I want to do short term. The here and now. I have a list but now all I have to do is figure out how to accomplish them.

  • Spend more time with my kids
  • Figure out how to work part time and still keep my insurance and paycheck
  • Plan a weekend away with my husband - and go!
  • Clean and organize my office - I never get to it no matter how hard I try
  • Get better at this blogging thing
  • Brush up on my web programming skills - they're buried in the closet and kinda dusty!
  • Learn to take better pictures
So there it is, my short term to do list! Now that I have it written out and made public I'll have to really make an effort to follow through on it, won't I?


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 1 - My Elevator Pitch

So today is the first day of the Building a Better Blog Challenge for me and today's task is to develop a elevator pitch for my blog.

What is an elevator pitch you ask...
An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch should be possible to deliver in the time span of an elevator ride, meaning in a maximum of 30 seconds and in 130 words or fewer.
- Wikipedia

You could also think of it as a mission statement or the point of your blog. It gives readers something to think about and prompts them ask questions about your blog.

I've been pondering this all day, trying to figure out what I want it to be and how to best write it in as few words as possible. This should be easy for me since I write these often for the projects that I work on everyday at work. But for some reason the work elevator pitches seem so much easier than this one and I have no idea why.

So, here it is.

The short ride to the third floor:
My Kids. Work. New Recipes. My Life.

The ride to the penthouse suite:
Life is full of surprises, twists, and turns! You may as well enjoy the ride! I'm a mom to 4 (14, 10, 8, and 5 months), a wife (to my 5th child sometimes), and I work full time and it takes a bit of magic to keep my sanity & things running at my house. You may find things here about family, kids, work, cooking, or just about anything. It's my life.


Monday, July 19, 2010

31 Days to a Better Blog

Recently (like today), I joined the ProBlogger's 31DBBB! You should too if you have a blog!

The first email that I got was a list of 4 things to do to get ready while waiting for the day 1 email with the daily task. So far I've got the first 3 things done and they were much easier than I expected!

1. Join the forum - super easy! I mean how hard could this be... fill in a simple form with your name & email address. Log in and post a note about yourself.
2. Install a metrics program - sorta easy.... I installed Google Analytics and there are many sites out there that tell you exactly how to do it. Some even with pictures! My first try didn't work and I'm not sure why, but the second time was a success! It also told me what I already know.... I have very few readers. I'm going to change that though!
3. Invite friends - Done! And the easiest task by far! I'm hoping that they join too so I have someone to work on this with.
4. SWOT analysis of my blog - this one is going to take some time. Maybe more time than I think and a great deal of thought. I may have to hide somewhere in the house tonight finish it!

Well, wish me luck! I hope to have an amazing blog after this adventure!

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment - Part 2

This post is a bit overdue and for that I'm sorry. I went to the store and thought that I bought everything that I needed to make the cookies. And then I got home and started to gather my stuff and much to my surprise I didn't have flour! Well, that's a lie. I have cake flour, soy flour, and even bread flour but no all purpose flour. What the heck!! I always have flour. So, I had to go back to the store the next day.

After making these cookies I was amazed that they didn't totally flatten out while baking! And they tasted incredible! If you have no will power, love chocolate chip cookies, and are watching your weight these are NOT the cookies for you! These aren't the cookies for me because of the previous mentioned items... oh well! I ate them and I enjoyed them warm out of the oven and the next day (and the day after that).

I searched the internet for the recipe that Levian Bakery used to make their cookies. And of course it appears to be a well guarded secret because I couldn't find it anywhere. There were several recipes that tried to recreate them though. So I read through all the recipes, ingredients, the notes that the authors wrote on the recipe, and finally the comments from their readers. I pieced a few recipes together to make my own and the recipe is below.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup cold butter - cubed *
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup light brown sugar **
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, cold 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips - I used Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet
* I used salted butter. You can also use unsalted just add 1/4 tsp of salt.
** Ok.. I was out of light brown sugar too. I used 1 cup white & 1 cup dark sugar.

Preheat oven to 350 and make sure the rack is in the middle. If it's to close to the bottom of the oven the cookies will be way to dark on the bottom.
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
  •  Add dry ingredients and mix till combined. Add chocolate chips.
  • I used the medium scoop from Pampered Chef which is about 2oz twice to make about a 4oz cookie.
  • Bake 10 - 15 min (up to 20 depending on how big your cookies are) and are lightly brown on the bottom.
Place on a rack to cool.

Now at this point we started eating the cookies as soon as they were cool enough to handle. They were thick, a bit crisp on the outside, and soft & gooey on the inside. My daughter and husband said they were the absolute best cookie I've ever made (I agree with them)!

They really were great cookies! Try them and let me know what you think.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Dinner & Dessert instead of Chocolate Chip Cookies

My plan today was to start on the chocolate chip cookies. So, I got the rest of the items I needed from the grocery store, came home, and started gathering the rest of the ingredients but I couldn't find the flour. I knew I had some but had no idea where in the world it went. Besides... who in the world would have used it besides me? Finally I found it. The bag had maybe 1 or 2 cups, if I was lucky, left in it. Not enough for cookies.

Instead I made dinner and dessert (which is in the oven... Yes, I know it's after 10pm and Andrew gets up at the crack of dawn).

Dinner was really good! Here's the basic recipe.

1 c Quinoa cooked in 2 c chicken stock
1 Red bell pepper chopped
1/2 English cucumber chopped
1/2 Onion - I used a sweet one. Use whatever you want

Dressed with olive oil & fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt, pepper, & garlic.
Garnished with sliced green onions

I think that you could add fresh herbs or other veggies if you wanted.

Now, dessert is a homemade peach cobbler via a Paula Deen recipe and I used baking mix instead of flour (why... b/c I'm out!). Let's hope that it turns out!

On a side note, the husband did not like dinner... to healthy, to many veggies, and he doesn't like lemon. Oh well, I can't win 'em all! I know that dessert will be a huge hit!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment - Part 1

I should start out by saying that I LOVE chocolate chip cookies! All buttery, chocolately, crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside. Even better when they're still a bit warm from the oven! Yum! And I don't know anyone who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies.

Recently I was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay and he challenged Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald, the owners of Levain Bakery in NYC. They make these amazing chocolate chip cookies that are huge, fluffy, and gooey on the inside! Now, considering that I live in Michigan I haven't had the time to run out and get a few (although I could order online).

Now, this is where the experimenting comes in. I bake... a lot. Probably to much sometimes really. I figure that I can come up with a recipe that's similar to theirs and almost as good. I'm going to start working on a recipe that will be the "one" this week!

Wish me luck! I'll post the results of my experiment soon.