Princess Tutu Sets

May 12, 2014 by Alana

Frozen Tutu

How cute are these? While I made the shirt, I can’t take complete credit. My friend Andi is making the tutus and her sister, Amanda, had the idea for the Frozen set.  Check out the store for other princesses and some that are not princess themed.

Delicious Beef Veggie Lasagna

June 29, 2013 by Meredith

I made what turned out to be a really good lasagna not too long ago.  I wanted to share.  I took my inspiration from Pioneer Woman’s The Best Lasagna. Ever.  I love the cottage cheese aspect of hers!  I don’t like it much, but in a lasagna I can’t tell the difference between cottage cheese or ricotta.

But I had to modify her recipe.  For one thing, that’s a lot of meat for my family. As a general rule, we doesn’t eat much meat. We’ve opted for higher quality meat, which usually means less of it because it’s expensive.  It’s a good trade off that works for us.  I supplement our meat with veggies most of the time.  So I present to you this Beef Veggie Lasagna I threw together.

Ingredients:

  • 1-pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herbs
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 diced zucchini (use 2 if you want it extra veggie)
  • 1 can (6 oz) mushroom slices, drained
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 container (24 oz) low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 whole beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package (10 ounce) lasagna noodles

Preparation:

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef and garlic. Season with Italian Herbs, Salt & Pepper to taste.  Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain the fat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced zucchini & sliced mushrooms. Simmer.

Cooking the Beef & Veggies

Cooking the Beef & Veggies

In a bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside. Cook lasagna until “al dente” (not overly cooked).  I add olive oil & salt to my water when cooking pasta.

Cottage Cheese Mixture for Beef Veggie Lasagna

Cottage Cheese Mixture for Beef Veggie Lasagna

To assemble:  Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top. Repeat sequence. Sprinkle top with Parmesan & mozzarella cheese.

Layers - you can see the veggies...

Layers – you can see the veggies…

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until the top is bubbly. This also freezes well.  Since our family is relatively small, I usually split this recipe into 2 dishes and cook one and freeze the other.

Assembled Lasagna

Assembled Lasagna ready to cook

Introducing Islay

June 13, 2013 by Meredith

I’d like to introduce you to my oldest daughter, Islay.  She’s 3.  She loves painting, music, and playing outside.  She’s super smart and already reading.  She knew her ABCs & could count to 40 by 2 years old.  She likes superheros and playing dress up.  She can work the iPad better than her Opa. She loves the beach and playing in the sand.  She loves swimming in the pool. She’s energetic and can be a total sweetie when she wants.

Islay in Sand

Islay in her natural habitat. She’d be out here all day if she was allowed.

And, as we recently discovered, she’s also autistic.  Islay has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  There’s a whole slew of terms on her evaluations that I haven’t managed to sort through and make sense of yet. Asperger’s.  Echoalia.  Impaired Expressive Speech. Communication Disorder. ADHD. I’ll sort all that out at some point.  It’s been a bit overwhelming.

We had some idea that she wasn’t quite “normal” – yes, yes, whatever normal means.  Her preschool has been mentioning problems all year long – social development issues, behavioral issues.  But it’s one thing to think your child is autistic and another to have people telling you she’s autistic.  It’s good to have the diagnosis – to put a name to the behavior we didn’t really understand.  By herself, she just comes across as a little odd.  Around other children, you can really see the differences.

The good news in the midst of all this is she qualifies for the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) through our school district.  She’s been evaluated by them and will start with the new school year.  It sounds like a good program.  She’ll get therapy during school.  She goes all week long for half days.  She even gets to ride the bus like the big kids.  The program is a free program through the district so we have no out of p0cket costs.  We’ll know more after her first ARD meeting in August.

Prayers & Support For Oklahoma Tornado Survivors

May 21, 2013 by Meredith
263251_10151697236564136_497488377_n

Graphic courtesy of Bobbie Byrd

If there’s one thing we know in Texas, it’s that disasters can happen any time, anywhere. You just hope & pray that you’ll come through all right.  Oklahoma, our neighbor to the north, was hit hard on May 19th. If you want to know how to help people of the tornado disaster in Oklahoma, I’ve got some resources for you.

  1. You can always donate to the Red Cross Disaster Fund. You can also donate blood at your local hospital or blood bank.
  2. Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is taking monetary donations.  You can donate through their website.
  3. The United Way of Oklahoma is taking donations on their website targeted for the May 19th tornadoes.
  4. Feeding America says it will donate food, water & supplies to victims in disaster areas in Oklahoma.

There are any number of other organizations raising money.  I urge you to pick a trusted charity. Unfortunately, these disasters bring out the worst in some people and scams pop up immediately.  If you ever want to check out a charity, I’ve used GuideStar before with good results.  In fact, they’ve got a great list over there of non-profits raising money for the victims of the tornado.

Also, I know I’ve seen news stories on this (though I can’t find them now), but really if you want to help the best thing you can do is donate cash to a trusted disaster relief organization.  It’s tempting to want to send clothes, food & household items, but if those items aren’t needed it’s just an extra burden for an already burdened community.  We saw a bit of that with the disaster in West, Texas.  So give Oklahoma your prayers, and if you can donate some money to an organization you trust who is doing responsible disaster relief.

Also, cheers to all the other Texas Bloggers who are posting on this!

Review: Lysol Touch of Foam Antibacterial Hand Wash

April 30, 2013 by Meredith

Disclosure: I am a BzzAgent and received these products from BzzAgent.com for review at no cost to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my open and unbiased review. The purpose of BzzAgent is to generate word of mouth sharing of information – both good and bad – about the products offered by both familiar and unfamiliar companies.

I have two children 3 and under.  My oldest is just starting to potty train, so as you can imagine, I change a LOT of diapers. I wash my hands a lot during a normal day.  That usually means I have very dry & itchy skin on my hands.  (It was so bad when I was pregnant, I looked like a lizard.)

I was very pleased to try this new Lysol Touch of Foam hand wash.  Lysol says the Touch of Foam has “moisturizer-enriched micro-bubbles leave your hands feeling soft and comfortable after every wash.”  It is true.  Since I’ve started using it, I find I don’t have to lotion up quite as often as I did.  I’m definitely less itchy despite how much I wash my hands. And since it is by the makers of Lysol, I feel pretty confident in its ability to kill germs – 99.9% they say.

I tried the Creamy Vanilla Orchid scent.  I found it to be very light and pleasant.  Not too overpowering and it lingers for a while post wash.  Lysol Touch of Foam Hand Wash is also available in Rose & Cherry in Bloom and Wild Berry Bliss – which I haven’t tried yet.  Wild Berry Bliss sounds yummy and is on my shopping list.

My actual hand and bottle of Lysol Touch of Foam

My actual hand and bottle of Lysol Touch of Foam

I love that it is a foam – it makes it so much easier to get my oldest daughter to wash her hands when she can “play with bubbles”.  Making it a game makes it so much easier on me.  Because my girl is a grubby one.  She loves dirt – digging in the yard is probably one of her favorite things.  I love the peace of mind I get knowing her hand are truly clean after using Lysol Touch of Foam.

Superhero Teacher Appreciation Gifts

April 15, 2013 by Meredith

We have a superhero theme in our lives.  My oldest loves them, though she doesn’t watch the movies or TV shows.  She plays with her Little People.  She wears the clothes. She knows all the logos.

So when teacher appreciation time rolled around, I knew it needed a superhero theme too.  I am already planning a superhero birthday, so it just fit.  I saw this on pinterest and knew that was it.  We modified the original and made our own.

Teacher Appreciation gifts

I teach…what’s your Superpower?

I bought the cups & my sister designed the image and cut it in vinyl using her Silhouette.  They turned out great.  I put a package of Starbucks refreshers inside.  Then I made a little sticker that says “Thanks for being a Super Teacher” with a comic style WOW graphic and Islay’s name.

Do you love superheroes or have a little one who does?  Follow our Superhero Board on Pinterest!  Lots of cute ideas.

Aldi Opens in Houston

April 9, 2013 by Meredith

I’ve been impatiently awaiting this since I first caught a glimpse of the store sign about 5 months ago, so I was SO excited to attend the open house at the Spring store location yesterday.  Here’s the pictures from the event.  It began with us queuing up and signing up for a raffle.  Next, the bigwigs said a few nice words and there was a ribbon cutting by the store manager.  Then they let us through the store and passed out free samples and let us try samples as we browsed the store.  We couldn’t shop yet, but you can bet I was making my list.  As we left, we were given a reusable shopping bag with more samples in it and a coupon!

Aldi Sign

Aldi!

aldi balloons

Aldi Decorated for Open House & Grand Opening

Sister

Alana, facebooking on her phone.

ribbon cutting at Aldi

Ribbon cutting

going inside

Our first glimpse inside

chocolate at Aldi

Chocolate – We had a sample of the chocolate and it was very good. Nice and creamy.

Spices at Aldi

Spices – $0.39

Milk at Aldi

Milk – yes that does say $1.89 a gallon.

butter at Aldi

Butter – also $1.89

I ran out of space on my card before I could get shots of the produce section & meat section. (That’s my husband’s fault, not mine, I swear.) Rest assured, the produce was really nice & also nicely priced. Cauliflower was $2.29 and strawberries were $0.99. I only noticed those because I was mentally adding them to my list. Grapes were cheaper than I’ve seen them anywhere in a long time – which is good because Islay keeps asking for them. Now she can finally have some.

Aldi is opening 11 stores in the Houston area.  They open on Thursday, April 11th.

Review: Kroger Spring Dinners BzzCampaign – Pork Tenderloin

March 21, 2013 by Meredith

I am a member of BzzAgent & as such I get to opt in to campaigns to try free or discounted items. I get to pick & choose what I try and write my honest reviews on the products.  I recently got a Kroger Spring Dinners BzzCampaign.  Kroger is promoting family dinners using their store brand products.  In my kit was:

  • A coupon for a FREE Moist & Tender Pork Tenderloin
  • A coupon for FREE Kroger Homestyle Mashed Potatoes
  • A coupon for FREE Kroger Crescent Rolls
  • A coupon for FREE Kroger brand Cake Mix & Frosting
  • Pass-along coupons for 20% off any featured Kroger brand item

Now, my family eats a dinner together every night.  This is not really a problem for us, in fact, it’s a family priority.  But with two small children, cooking the set Kroger meal would have given us leftovers for DAYS.  So I decided I’d make my BzzKit and see how many meals I could get from our free products.

Using my free coupon, I got a 3 pound Moist & Tender pork tenderloin.  I cooked this in my crockpot on a bed of onions, garlic & chicken broth – with a spice rub on it and then shredded the pork.   I wanted to divide the shredded pork and see how I could use in a way that didn’t just involve BBQ.  I know I live in Texas, but BBQ is not my favorite food.  I’ll probably be kicked out for saying that…

BBQ Pulled Pork

BBQ Pulled Pork

That being said, I did take part of it to make the ubiquitous BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.  I took the leftover BBQ pulled pork and used it in my FREE crescent rolls, with a little cheese sprinkled on top.  Yum!

BBQ Pulled Pork Crescent Rolls

BBQ Pulled Pork Crescent Rolls

I also took my Free Mashed Potatoes and added a little cheese for what is probably my most favorite comfort food ever – cheesy mashed potatoes.  And because I had all that pork still, I added some pork on top of it.  Presto – Pork Mashed Potato Bowl, or as I called it, lunch.

Mashed Potatoes topped with cheese & pulled pork

Pork Potato Bowl

I still have some shredded pork in my freezer.  I’m thinking I could use that on pizza. Or in tacos.  Or enchiladas.  Or nachos.

Here’s my opinion on the Kroger brand products.  Honestly, I think they are just as good as the premium brand in taste & quality.  While I don’t often buy convenience products like pre-made mashed potatoes, these were good and it was easy having them on hand.  Especially for making myself lunch.  That’s when I’m slammed.  Kids underfoot, trying to get them fed and then entertained while I eat something myself.  It’s hard some days.  The pork tenderloin was very good.  My house smelled so yummy while it was cooking, I spent the whole day hungry.  I haven’t used my cake mix & frosting yet, but I do have a Pinterest pin I think I’ll try it on…  So, coming soon!

Free Taste of Home ebook at amazon

March 16, 2013 by Meredith

Taste of Home has a free ecookbook available in the amazon Kindle store today.  I personally love Taste of Home.  If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download apps for most phones & a desktop reader.  So Kindle ebooks aren’t just for Kindle owners.

Homemade Marshmallows – We Tried It

March 6, 2013 by Meredith

The word on the internet is that homemade marshmallows are WAY better than store bought.  So of course, we had to try it out.  Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect opportunity. We used Martha Stewart’s recipe.  I’ll be honest, Alana did most of the work.  I got distracted. It’s easy to do with an almost 3 year old and a 1 year old. And a father who forgets you don’t work for him anymore.  :)

First, you will need a candy thermometer. I bought this one at my local Kroger. I think it was $6.

DSC_6155

Candy Thermometer

First step, boil your sugar, corn syrup, salt & water to 238 degrees. (Hence the reason for the candy thermometer.)  While this is boiling, mix the gelatin with 3/4 cup of water and let soften for 5 minutes.

DSC_6157

Boiling the syrup

DSC_6160

Softening the gelatin

Next, using a mixer with the whisk attachement, mix the syrup into the gelatin & beat until very still.  Martha says 12 mintues. I think it took us longer.

DSC_6162

Beat until Stiff

When it is stiff, move it into your prepared dishes. Then let it sit for 3 hours.

DSC_6148

Cooling Marshmallows

When they are ready, dust with confectioner’s sugar and cut. Our shapes didn’t turn out so great, but our marshmallows were thick. However, they tasted awesome. Seriously way better than store bought, but it was a lot of work.

Cutting heart shapes

Cutting heart shapes

You can see our hearts kind of went in on the sides.  Maybe because they were thick. Not sure.

Decorated Marshmallows

Decorated Marshmallows

Much less noticeable when decorated.

%d bloggers like this: