Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life and Blogging

I've had a few e-mails wondering how I've been doing, since it's been a while since I've posted, and I'm happy to say that everything is going great around here.  It turns out that life has gotten in the way of blogging, which is such a better statement than blogging got in the way of life.  I'd much rather report that endless hours at the pool have put a crimp in my screen time, instead of telling my kids that "mommy just has to finish this post."
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Along with lots of pool time, there's been some water balloon action,
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and exhausted kids at the end of the day.
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I haven't stopped baking or creating, but my camera hasn't captured the step-by-steps needed for a tutorial. I did snap a pic of this strawberry crepe cake that I made the other day.  It's made like my chocolate crepe cake, only without the cocoa powder, and using a strawberry mousse.
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I hope to find time to share some projects, but I make no promises, because there's a finite number of summers available and the pool is calling.
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Thanks for popping in and bearing with the sporadic posting.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Nothing says summer like pink lemonade, and the perfect way to kick off summer is with these Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes.
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I started by creaming together 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup coconut oil.
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I added in 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup agave nectar, 1/2 cup raspberry applesauce, 3 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and the zest and juice of one lemon.
raspberry lemonade cupcakes


In a separate bowl, I whisked together 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 cup sweet rice flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, 1/4 cup arrowroot starch, 2 tsps baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt.
raspberry lemonade cupcakes


I mixed the dry ingredients into the wet, and then mixed in 1/3 cup milk.
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I accidentally set my camera down for this next part.  I whipped up 3 egg whites with a couple tablespoons of sugar sprinkled in gradually until they were at a soft peak, then folded the egg whites into the battter.  Spoon the batter into a lined muffin tin and bake for 22 minutes at 325 or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Using a large tip on my piping bag, I poked a hole into the cupcakes, and piped in about a 1/2 teaspoon of raspberry fruit spread into each cupcake.
raspberry lemonade cupcakes


I mixed up some cream cheese frosting(cream cheese, butter & powdered sugar,) and added in 1/2 cup raspberry fruit spread and 1/2 tsp lemon extract.  I topped each cupcake with a fresh raspberry.
raspberry lemonade cupcakes


Thanks for popping in and baking with me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Luau Craft - Sand Art Necklaces

As a room mom for my boys' classes, I've helped to throw a gazillion class parties.  We tend to stick with a basic formula of a story, a snack, a craft, and a game.  This year's first grade End of Year party is a beach / luau theme, and few things are more beachy than sand.  Remember the Sand Art displayed in the boys' Under the Sea bathroom?
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We have several Sand Art bottles throughout the room, because it's a fun easy craft.  In that same vein, we decided to have sand art necklaces as the craft project for our luau party.  We found some fun fish bottle necklaces at Oriental Trading Company.
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They each come with their own tiny little funnel, but an even easier way to fill them is with Pixy Stix.
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You can fit the Pixy Stix into the neck of the bottle, and the finite amount in each stick makes over filling with any one color impossible.
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It took 6 Pixy Stix(2 - 3packs) to fill the little fish bottle.  The kids are going to love making these to take home.
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Thanks for popping in and crafting with me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weekend Review

It was another busy weekend of fun in the sun.  SB had a baseball game Saturday, and for the first time this season, they had live pitching.  SB has been hitting well off the machine - batting 1000 until this week when he got his first out, hitting up the first base line.  Live pitching is a completely different animal.  The league consists of 6 & 7 yr olds with a few 8 yr olds.  The pitching is wild, and SB was hit with a pitch on his first at bat.  It turns out there is crying in baseball.  Lots of it.  But the tears were all dried up by the time we made it over to the little league fun day.
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He may not be a future pitcher, but he dropped that kid in the dunk tank all the same.
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We also attended the Princess's camp-out birthday party.  There was swimming, a bear hunt, s'mores, and of course a camping cake.
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Speaking of parties, my big box from Oriental Trading Company arrived, and I'm getting ready for the 1st grade's End of Year party.  This year's theme is a beach luau.  I had WD blow up the beach balls last night, and it's a good thing I drive a van, because 50 beach balls take up a ton of room.  I can't wait to share more of the details next week after the party.
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Thanks for popping in and sharing the weekend with us.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

National GO Day

I like to celebrate the random national holidays, like National Donut Day(June 1st) and National Ice Cream Day(third Sunday in July.)  But today, I invite all my readers to take part in National Get Outdoors Day aka National GO Day.

GO - Dig in the Garden.
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GO - Take in a Baseball Game
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GO - Throw a Line in the Water
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GO - Explore Nature
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GO - Flip Rocks in a Creek
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GO - Make a Splash
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GO, now, turn off your screens, and GO

Thanks for popping in and Getting Outdoors with me.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mulch Better

I didn't take any pictures last week during my wallowing, so I don't really have proper before photos for you of the never ending landscaping project that we've been working on.  Here's a very old picture that shows the area we've been working on.  Look how young SB and the Princess are!
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Those shrubs up against the house blocked the view and had to go.  Plus the hill had crept up onto our house over the years with the dirt now 8" above our home's foundation.  Our yard needed regrading, and the weeds had gotten out of control.  Check out the craziness behind the hostas.
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CG & WD spent countless man hours digging out our yard, one shovelful at a time, and built a new retaining wall using stone from our neighbor's yard that she wanted hauled away.
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An afternoon was spent weeding(I cleaned up about 15 sq feet before the mosquitos chased me inside,) and  we picked up a couple of vans full of mulch.  We were lucky enough to find several busted open bags that were only $1.50 each.
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And here's where it stands right now.  I found boxes of solar landscape lights clearanced at Lowe's, and they now light up the pathways.  We still need to seed our lawn, but we're getting there.
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Thanks for popping in and working in the yard with us(mostly CG & WD, but I kept them well fed.)


Chic on a Shoestring DecoratingThe Shabby NestFridays Unfolded

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cake

One of my most often requested recipes is my Flourless Chocolate Cake.  I was making this moist & wonderful piece of heaven long before we went gluten-free.  It's so easy to make using only 4 ingredients, and it's so good that it disappears quickly, making pictures a tough enterprise.  But I snapped a couple of quick pics the other day when I made one.
flourless chocolate cake

Here's the low down on this simple dessert.  Melt 6 tbsps of butter and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a double boiler or the microwave, stirring every now and again.  Let the mixture cool for a few minutes before whisking in 6 egg yolks.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat 6 egg whites til foamy.  With the mixer still going, sprinkle in 1/2 cup sugar, a little at a time, mixing until the whites are to a soft peak.  Sacrifice a quarter of the egg whites to lighten the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest of the whites a quarter at a time.  Pour in a greased and parchment lined 9 or 10 inch springform pan.  Bake at 275 for 45 minutes.  Let cool before removing from the pan.  You can sprinkle on some powdered sugar before serving to pretty it up, but desserts that taste this good don't really need to be pretty.
flourless chocolate cake

Thanks for popping in and baking with me.  I'm linking this up to Gluten-Free Homemaker's Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Roasted Corn Salad

So many summer barbecue sides are muffin top inducing, heavy on the mayo concoctions.  Don't get me wrong - I love me some potato salad, but when being able to hang poolside without literally hanging out is the goal, a lighter side is what's called for.  The other day I made this light & fresh tasting Roasted Corn Salad, and it was delicious.
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I started by roasting 4 ears of sweet corn.  Some people roast their corn with the silks stripped, and husks on, but I just strip them completely, brush them with a little olive oil, and lay them on my grill, turning every now and again.
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Cut the kernels off of the cobs.
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Toss together with a can of black beans that have been drained and rinsed, a handful of grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half, and 3 thinly sliced radishes.
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Add 2/3 cup pulled apart lump crab, the sliced greens of 2 scallions, and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro.  I dressed this salad with a tablespoon of ginger infused olive oil, a tablespoon of regular olive oil, the juice of half a lime and some salt and pepper.
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Toss it all together, and let the flavors meld in the frig.  This is the perfect summertime make ahead salad.
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Thanks for popping in and cooking with me.  I'm linking this up to Gluten-Free Homemaker's Gluten-Free Wednesdays, and the parties below.
Hearth & Soul Hop

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I'm Back

Sorry about the unplanned absence.  Last you heard, we were heading on our annual Darien Lake camping trip for Memorial weekend.  After having tons of fun in the sun, we came back home to be shocked by the news that our dear friend's sister had passed away.  She was only 47.  I'll say it again, 47.  It's been a difficult week for all of us, and having to think about my own mortality had left me without words and with no desire to take pictures.  We've been working on a major landscaping project, and my BFF(the deceased's SIL) asked if I had taken before pictures.  I hadn't.  She replied that she had noticed that I hadn't posted all week.  On that note, I suppose it's time to put my big girl panties back on, and return to life.  So here are some pics from the fun in the sun weekend camping at Darien Lake Amusement Park.  We always go in a big group so the kids can pair up.
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We've spent previous year's stuck in kiddie land like our friends,
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but this year(with the help of some very chunky-soled sandals) SB was just tall enough to ride the big coasters, like the Boomerang,
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which does some of this.  2 loops going forward, then another 2 going backwards.
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The Motocoaster was another favorite of his.  And lest you think I just hung back and took pics, that's me behind him.  The threat of thunderstorms that never materialized kept the crowds way down, so we were able to exit the rides and get right back on.
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We hit several non-coaster rides, too.
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A new feature in the water park last year was cabana rentals.  We opted to rent a couple of them to share between the 4 families, an option I'd gladly take again.  Along with some much coveted shade behind a gated area, and no need to scramble for chairs, they included water, ice, a large deckbox with padlock, food delivery service, an attentive waitstaff, and the much coveted clear tubes.
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What's so special about the clear tubes?  They allow you to hop the line and stay on the lazy river until you feel like getting out.  Something that our whole group took advantage of.
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SB enjoyed the water park immensely.  He spent a lot of time on the lazy river, slid down the Big Kahuna several times, and even enjoyed the wave pool.  That's right.  The kid who refused to get his head wet last year was out in the middle of the wave pool this year.
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You might be wondering why so many pics of SB, and none of WD.  That's because teenagers only find you at an amusement park when they're out of cash.  And what do they need cash for?  Midway games.
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Thanks for popping in and checking out last weekend.