Wednesday, February 27, 2013

March Updates

Hi everybody. Maggie and I wanted to let you all know about a few changes going on in our personal lives. Both of us are starting to work more hours in the next few weeks. We feel like we need to step back a little from blogging while we organize ourselves and our families. We still plan to post projects, but we aren't going to hold ourselves to a set schedule.

We are looking forward to our second Instagram photo challenge starting on Friday. We hope you'll join us! Maggie came up with the fun theme of opposites since March is supposed to go in like a lion and out like a lamb. She's so clever!


To follow Maggie - @mkretch13 and Rebecca - @rocky127

If you decide to try the photo challenge, add the #hmmphotoaday to your pictures. If you would like to share your homemade projects, add #homemademamas to your pictures - we would love to see them!



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Monday, February 25, 2013

Chocolate Ricotta

 Early in our February Instagram Photo Challenge, Rebecca posted a picture of some coco ricotta that looked soooooooo delicious!! When I asked for the recipe she told me that her husband had actually bought it. This inspired me to make up my own version using a batch of homemade ricotta! I hadn't tasted the one Rebecca had, so I had no idea what it tasted like or if my version was close. But since Rebecca described it as tasting like chocolate cheesecake I figured I could come up with something.  And I did! The recipe below makes a ton. Seriously. So unless you're having a party or plan on freezing it, you may want to halve it.


What You Need:
  • 1 batch of homemade ricotta (I'm guessing it makes about a pound, so you could substitute store-bought)
  • 8 oz chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 brick of cream cheese, room temperature
In your mixer, add all your ingredients and blend till smooth. Yep. Super-easy.

We dipped shortbread cookies in ours, but any sort of cookie (or maybe pretzels!) would be tasty, too!

Again, this made a ton (as you can see by the mounded soup plate-full). And for most normal people I'd tell you to freeze it, share with a crowd, or halve the recipe.

Or you could always invite my husband over. He cruised through ours in less than two days. He recommends just eating it with a spoon every time you pass by the kitchen. :)

And speaking of photo challenges, we've had so much fun this month with you on Instagram that we've decided to do another challenge in March! And since March is supposed to go in like a lion and out like a lamb, we've come up with a theme of opposites! Check out the list below, follow Rebecca (rocky127) and I (mkretch13) on Instagram, and tag your photos with #hmmphotoaday to join in on the fun! Can't wait to check them out!




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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to Clean Your Iron!




My husband Keith LOVES his iron. He irons absolutely everything! I'm not kidding - everything! He got a new iron for Christmas. It is already getting a brown buildup on the plate. He was hoping I could find a homemade cleaning solution. I scoured the internet. There were so many different ideas out there. Some were pretty weird. One idea that seemed to pop up in many different methods was using was using white vinegar. I poured some on a clean soft cloth and started rubbing the plate.

*** Our iron had a shiny metal plate on the bottom, I don't know if this method should be used on teflon coated plates ***


I was able to get the iron pretty clean, but as you can see, there was still some stubborn bits. I decided to try the second most popular natural cleaner - salt!


I poured a little more vinegar on the rag and sprinkled plain table salt onto the rag and scrubbed the remaining burnt bits off the iron.


The iron looks like new again! I would recommend trying the just the vinegar first. The salt worked great, but it was a little messy. Salt went everywhere and got stuck in the steam holes. The salt came off easily, but I had to pick it out with a toothpick.


However, I DON'T recommend holding your iron (full of water) over your freshly washed couch to take pictures of it!






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Monday, February 18, 2013

Velcro Towels

In a vain attempt to encourage the wiping of little hands on a towel instead of shirts, pants, me, etc., I try to keep a towel or two within easy reach in the kitchen. This usually means I hang it over the oven door handle. This also means that I rarely actually find it on the oven door handle, but instead end up picking it up off the floor a dozen times a day. I'm thrilled when the kids use it, not so thrilled that they can't quite put it back. Then inspiration struck: Why not find a way to attach it to the handle so that it can be within reach without ending up on the floor? Behold the magic of Velcro....


 What You Need:
  • Kitchen Towel
  • Velcro
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine (helpful but not required)
Lay out your towel. My package of Velcro had three tabs so I spaced them accordingly. Across the top seam, I laid out the fluffy side of the Velcro tabs, them a few inches below that I lined up the hooked tabs. Pin them into place and sew them down!

Perhaps I should have ironed my towel first...sigh...

Now you can wrap your towel around the oven door handle and attach the Velcro to itself so that the towel stays in place no matter how often it's used. And it can be easily removed for washing!




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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sweetheart Sunrise!




Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I thought I would share a quick simple cocktail for dinner tonight that you only need a few ingredients to make. I also wanted to make a drink that could easily be turned into a mocktail for the kiddos. They love fun festive drinks too. My boys had fun coming up with a name for this drink. Jonah came up with "Stupid Cupid's Super Cool Drink" and Ben thought of "Cupid's Crazy Concoction". As you may have guessed, this drink is a variation of a Tequila Sunrise.

All you need is pink lemonade, grenadine, vodka (I used a lemon infused one I had made) and some strawberries for garnish.


In each glass I poured 6 oz. of pink lemonade, 2 oz. vodka, and a few ice cubes. Of course I left out the vodka for the kids! I garnished each glass with a strawberry. When they were all prepped and ready, I called the kids to to the table for the final step. When everyone was gathered I poured about 1/8 of a cup of grenadine into each glass without stirring. The grenadine is heavier so it sinks to the bottom, "magically" making two separate layers! So pretty and fun!






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Monday, February 11, 2013

Red Velvet Brownies


Ok, I know I said in my last post how nice it was to find a Valentines treat that was healthy. But when you find something like this idea for Red Velvet Brownies how can you say no? I came across this one last week, on a snowy day when 4-year-old Charlie was home from school. I thought this would be the perfect baking project for us! Charlie was all about it, until he saw that the brownies were going to be red. He thought they should be green. I tried explaining that red was a good color for Valentines Day. He told me (again) that they should be green and promptly left the room, leaving me to make them by myself (the little monkey!). Here's the recipe I used, so you (and maybe your kids!) can make them too!

What You Need:
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 ounces red food coloring (I just eyeballed it and used a little more than 2 bottles - whatever I had in the cupboard)
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (though next time I'd use more -- can you ever have too much chocolate??)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Using your mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Then add the eggs in one at a time.

Then add your vanilla and food coloring. If you want them less red, add less food coloring. Want them more red? Add more!

In a separate bowl, combine your flour, cocoa, and salt and mix well.

Then add your dry ingredients a little at a time to the batter, being careful not to over-mix your batter. It will be pretty thick.

Pour your batter into a greased 9x13 pan and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 35-45 minutes.

Then cool, cut, and enjoy this fun and colorful Valentines Day treat!!

Notice the boy who only wanted to make green brownies was quite happy to eat red brownies!
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dollar Store Scarf





The last time I was at my local dollar store, I found these scarfs. They were pretty thin and narrow, but they were very soft and a beautiful deep teal. (My photos don't do the color justice!). Best part, of course, was that they were only a dollar! I decided to take three of them, not sure what I would do with them. I decided to braid them, but it looked too rope like.

I thought about how sewers create smocking and ruffles by pulling thread or elastic through the fabric and wondered if I could do something similar with the scarfs with some yarn.


First I laid out the 3 scarfs. Then I cut 2 pieces of yarn. The yarn was a couple inches longer than the scarfs.


Tie the 3 scarfs together using the ends of the pieces of yarn.


Next I braided the 5 strands of the scarf. I was surprised how easy braiding with 5 strands is! Click here to learn how!


This is where you may need a couple of extra hands. I had Ben hold the tied end of the scarf.


Jonah held the open end of the scarf. He held the 3 pieces of the scarf and I took the two pieces of yarn. I gently pulled the strings. The the braid will start to gather. You only want to gather it a little bit or you will have a very short scarf!



See how the braid looks more fluffed and gathered!



Hard to believe it only cost me 3 dollars!






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Monday, February 4, 2013

A Berry Happy Valentine's Day!

When you think of Valentine's Day treats, the mind automatically goes to chocolate! Don't get me wrong - if you dipped my shoe in chocolate I'd probably eat it. But as a mom I sometimes feel torn between being the fun mom who gives her kids the fun, holiday-themed goodies and being the responsible mom who gives her kids fruits and veggies. So when I saw this idea on Education.com for Dehydrated Strawberries I knew I had found the perfect balance between healthy and fun - they look like little Valentines!


What You Need:
  • Strawberries, washed
  • Paring knife
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper

First, core your strawberries. Don't just slice off the tops - coring will give them more of a heart-ish shape once they are sliced.

Then thinly slice your strawberries. You'll see many of them are kind of heart-shaped!

Lay them out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and pop them into your oven at about 170-175 degrees (mine's lowest temperature was 175, so I went with that). Let them sit in the oven for about 5 hours or so. Time will vary depending on how thick you sliced your berries and what temperature your oven is set at. You may also want to flip them part way through, but that's optional.


 Once your berries are dehydrated and rather crispy they are done! So tasty and festive! The kids loved them!



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