Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Steaming Mug of Cake!

It's nighttime and the kids are in bed. Then, suddenly, it hits you! That uncontrollable need for chocolate! But you are already settled in for the night and have no desire to run to the store. What are you to do? Never fear, because a quick trip to your kitchen pantry will yield the fix that any impatient chocoholic is jonesing for! With a few simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand, you can have delicious chocolate just 5 minutes!

There are many versions of the Coffee Mug Cake out there, but this recipe comes from Elena, cousin to Rebecca and Maggie. And we're so glad she turned us onto it!

What You Need:
  • 4 Tbsp. Self-Rising Flour
  • 4 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. Milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 3 Tbsp. Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Splash of Vanilla
  • 1 Large Coffee Mug
First, mix all your dry ingredients in your mug, then add the egg. Mix well, then add the milk and oil, mixing some more. Stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla.

Pop your batter-filled mug into the microwave and let it cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes (it will puff up over the top of the mug, so don't be worried when you see that). Once it's done you can eat it right out of the mug...

...or, if you're feeling fancy, turn it onto a plate. When Maggie and her husband made this, they drizzled caramel sauce on top!
It should be mentioned that while eating this sinfully sweet treat, they were watching Biggest Loser!

Thanks Elena for a quick and easy way to satisfy our chocolate addiction!
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Squirrel Spray

Now we love squirrels as much as the next guy, but this time of year they can become real pests. As you may have noticed, squirrels love pumpkins! We have seen whole pumpkins eaten by these little stinkers! This little guy was caught taking a few bites out of one of our pumpkins about a half hour after we bought it.

Notice the heart shaped bite taken out of this poor little pumpkin.

Nothing upsets a kid like his pumpkin being eaten before he even has a chance to carve it.

We did a little research into this subject and found some things that are supposed to repel squirrels. We mixed up a little concoction and came up with this recipe to spray on pumpkins to help keep the squirrels away.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dish soap
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (we had buffalo sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

Mix ingredients very well. Make sure you don't have clumps of cayenne pepper. It can clog your spray bottle. Now pour into a spray bottle.

Be warned, you may get a real hankering for some hot wings!!

Liberally spray your pumpkins. You will have to reapply after it rains. Make sure you wash your pumpkin well before you or your kids carve the pumpkins! They will be spicy!!
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Super Charged Oatmeal

We all know oatmeal is a great healthy breakfast. It is one of our families favorites. We were excited to try the Better Oats products. They contain several different grains including oats, flax seed and barley. Its delicious and even better for you than regular instant oatmeal. But being the homemade mamas that we are we decided to try making our own. We have to say it turned out great! It taste very similar and we were able to control exactly what went into our recipe. (Not to mention ours cost about half the price to make). Ours does take a few extra minutes in the microwave, but we think it is worth it!

The Recipe: makes 18 servings

  • 3 2/3 cups of old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup of ground flax seed (your body absorbs more nutrients when the flax seed is ground)
  • 1 cup wheatgerm
  • 1 cup quinoa

Mix the ingredients in an air tight container.

To cook the oatmeal, mix 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 2/3 cup of water in a large microwave safe bowl. (It puffs as it cooks.) Cook on medium power for 5-6 min. Stir and enjoy. You could also cook on your stovetop.

This is a great basic recipe. We like to eat our oatmeal plain with a little salt and butter, but you could add a little cinnamon and brown sugar, dried fruit or berries. However you like your oatmeal, we think you will love this super nutritious and delicious super breakfast!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Tied Up in Snakes

When birthday time rolls around for our "Homemade Daddies" they always ask that the kids give them something they've made. We love that they appreciate the sweet things made by the little hands of their children, but it does take some creativity on our part. Today is Maggie's husband's birthday, and again he asked for something homemade from the kids that used only stuff that we already had on hand. Quite a challenge! We rose to the occasion and found this cute project: a stuffed snake made from an old tie! Maggie's son Jack, who has been begging for a snake, thought this was just the gift Dad needed.

What You Need:
  • a necktie
  • stuffing (we actually used the insides of an old bed pillow!)
  • hot glue gun
  • googly eyes
  • red ribbon
Starting at one end, stuff your tie, using a pencil or pen to cram it way down. This part can get a little tedious, but keep at it. Maggie stuffed one end while Jack stuffed the other to make it go a little faster.

Once your snake is nice and puffy, glue the seams shut with your glue gun. (if your child is helping with this step., keep a close eye on them - glue guns get hot!).

Next glue the eyes onto the wide end and add a bit of your red ribbon for the tongue!

And you now have a silly stuffed snake sure to make any dad smile. When ours was finished Jack said, "Daddy's gonna LOVE sleeping with this!"
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

City Composting - part 2

With summer quickly fading and autumn upon us we wanted to let you know the results of this years try at composting in the city. As we said in our post earlier this spring, last years composting attempts resulted in slimy, stinky sludge. Nothing that you want to spread around any part of your garden. This summer we made this bin out of a simple and inexpensive plastic container.

Lots of you wrote to us with great suggestions on improving last year's model..

We added even more holes to our bin and turned this into beautiful compost for our garden!

This late in the fall, our gardens still look beautiful!

Even container gardens benefit from compost.
It's not too late to start composting for next year. You don't need a lot of room and your flowers will thank you !

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Monday, October 11, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...

...Why not sweeten things up by whipping up a batch of Lemon Sugar? Infusing flavors into sugar is a great way to add a little something extra to your baking and beverages, as well as would make a lovely gift! The best part is that no one would guess how easy it is to make!

What You Need:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • zest from two lemons
  • a zip lock bag
To make your Lemon Sugar, simply measure your sugar into the zip lock bag and add your zest. Seal the bag being sure to remove as much of the air as you can. Let the bag sit for 5 to 7 days, then sift the sugar to remove any of the zest so that you are left with only sugar. Store the Lemon Sugar in an airtight container.

As we mentioned above, this would make a great gift. And with a recipe this simple, it is easy to play around with other flavors (eHow also recommends making orange, lime, and even rose and lavender flavored sugars!). So enjoy adding a little extra sweetness to your life!
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recycled Favor Boxes

With Halloween right around the corner, we're on the look-out for fun and spooky crafts to do with the kids. As we've shown before, the cardboard tubes that are in toilet paper rolls are great for crafting! Instead of wall art, we are making favor boxes (We actually came across this idea last year, but never got around to making them). The best part is that all the supplies we needed were ones we could find around the house!

What You Need:
  • cardboard toilet paper tubes
  • acrylic paint
  • glue
  • construction paper, glitter, sequins, pipe cleaners...anything thing you might like to use to decorate your boxes with!
First, the kids painted the tubes, making sure to cover them evenly and completely.

Using construction paper, glitter, glue, sequins and googly eyes, they turned the cardboard tubes into a cat, pumpkin and ghost!

Then fill your tubes with tasty treats, fold the ends, and get ready to party! We are thinking of using these at our family Halloween party, but think they would also be fun to pass out as classroom treats!
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Breakfast Banana Splits

Give your kids banana splits for breakfast?!?! Are these mamas nuts? No, of course not. There are super healthy banana splits from Prevention Magazine. Made with vanilla yogurt, peanut butter, cereal and just a drizzle of chocolate. You will be a breakfast superhero with this healthy treat!

Here is what we used - of course this could be adjusted for your family's preferences.

  • banana
  • vanilla yogurt
  • peanut butter (we used sunflower butter because of a nut allergy)
  • crushed cereal
  • chocolate syrup

First, slice the banana down the middle and spread about a tablespoon of peanut butter on it. then sandwich it back together.Next, spoon on about a cup of yogurt on top.Then drizzle some chocolate syrup.

Finally, sprinkle your crushed cereal on top, and your banana split is ready to eat!!


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