Wednesday, November 30, 2011

quote of the week...

"until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
~anatole france 

 me and phoebe in palos verdes

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

pumpkin muffins...

this recipe is almost too easy...and it only requires 3 ingredients!  i heard about it, and had to try it myself, and it was pretty tasty.


~1 box of yellow cake mix
~1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
~1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
how to:

mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined.    


spoon mixture into cupcake tin and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  will make 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

these muffins were especially good served warm with salty butter.  i hear you can also use white cake mix and lemon pie filling to make a lemon bar.  enjoy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

whole chicken in the crock pot...

when i think of slow cooking recipes, i usually think of soups, stews, chili...but cooking a whole chicken never crossed my mind.  it is very easy and delicious and i am convinced you can cook anything better in the crock pot...


~whole chicken (cleaned and giblets removed)
~1 large onion
~2 stalks of celery
~4 cloves of garlic
~1 t. rosemary
~5-6 fresh sage leaves
~1 t. garlic powder
~1 t. chili powder
~1 1/2 t. fresh black pepper
~1 tb. salt
~1/2 cup water

how to:

clean chicken and pat dry.  combine all of your dry spices to make a rub for the chicken, and sprinkle on.

chop celery into 2-3 inch sticks, and cut onion into large chunks.

stuff half of the onion, celery, garlic and sage into cavity of chicken.

place the remaining onion in the bottom of your crock pot.  the chicken to be raised slightly allowing for more even heat distribution.  add your water, and put chicken on top of onion bed...

turn the crock pot onto "auto" and cook for 5 1/2 - 6 hours.  your chicken will be falling off the bone, tender and moist.  there will be lots of liquid in the bottom of the crock pot.  you can use some of it to make a pan gravy and freeze the rest of the chicken stock in a ziplock bag to use later on.

i served the chicken with roasted brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes.  it was a winner winner chicken dinner!!!


Friday, November 25, 2011

flower ball decorations...

i saw this on pintrest and thought this would be a good way to use up the leftover felt from my wreath and make a cute decoration.  here is my inspiration...

***you can go back to my wreath blog to see how to make the felt flowers***

supplies you need:

~styrofoam ball (small or medium size)
~felt 4-5 different colors
~hot glue gun and glue sticks
~pearl tip sewing pins
~yarn or ribbon to hang ball

how to:

start making lots of felt flowers, different colors and sizes.  then start gluing them on the styrofoam ball and place pearl pins in the center.  continue until the whole ball is covered.

 i have my flower ball hanging on my curtain rod in the living room.  if they were smaller, i suppose you could use them as christmas ornaments.  they don't have a real purpose, but they sure do look pretty.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

happy thanksgiving...

every family has their own traditions when it comes to the holidays.  as i get older, i start to make my own, but thanksgiving will always remain my favorite holiday.  i enjoy all the cooking and prep work that goes into making the most memorable meal of the year.  i do not eat turkey on thanksgiving, i load up on all the carbs, and of course, pumpkin pie!  my mom was always a fan of watching the macy's day parade, which is another thing i was never big into.  but i loved turning the music on and spending all day in the kitchen.

my family loves to entertain and is very inviting.  we always have a very eclectic group of people over for dinner.   anyone who doesn't have family in town, doesn't celebrate in their culture or just wants a thanksgiving meal round 2 is always invited to join.  the group is different every year, and i always look forward to seeing who will be at the dinner table.  my family does not watch football, but you can expect to have music, game playing and even johnny cash sing alongs.

thanksgiving is a time to be with the ones you love, be grateful, honor tradition and count your blessings. wishing all my friends and family a very happy thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

quote of the week...

"every child is an artist.  the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
~pablo picasso

new york, chelsea market

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

light bulb terrarium...

i found this idea online and loved it so much that this is what jarad and i will be giving to our friends for holiday gifts...hope i didn't ruin the surprise.

what you will need:

~rocks or shells
~mosaic tiles
~mini animals (be creative, i found mine at the dollar store)
~mini plant for inside (found mine at farmers market)
~long tweezers or needle nose pliers

how to:

the first part is to take out the insides of the light bulb.  i had jarad do this part for me.  he used a dremel to cut through the top of the light bulb, and then you have to break the inside with a screwdriver. 

here is a video that will show you in detail how to gut a light bulb.

 you really need a good base to hold your light bulb terrarium.  i got mosaic tiles from the craft store and glued 4 of them together to make a square.  then glue it to the base of your light bulb (make sure your glue cools slightly before applying the light bulb to the base, to avoid cracking the bulb), so you have a flat surface for it to sit on.

poor about 1 1/2 - 2 inches of sand in the bottom of the light bulb.

use your needle nose pliers to place moss, plant, rocks and animal inside of light bulb.  the best way to get the moss inside is to roll it up in a small bundle and place it on top of the sand.  this part takes some time and patience to get it just right...

once everything is in its place, find a good home for it.  be careful, your terrarium is very fragile.  these make a great accessory to your office desk, bathroom, coffee table, or dresser.  mine is sitting on a shelf in the kitchen.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

marcel the shell...

these videos just make me happy...hope you enjoy!

marcel the shell with shoes, part 2...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

box cake mix makeover...

are you ever intimidated to bring a dessert to a dinner party?  here is the secret to turning your ordinary boxed cake mix into something special!  the secret is in the pan!  you can find fancy pans all over, but i like the "maryann" pan.

the "maryann" pan has pretty edges and a well in the middle so you can add jam, whipped cream, lemon curd or fudge.  here is how i made my chocolate raspberry cake.


1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 container of raspberries
1 container of blackberries
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 container of heavy whipping cream
1 t. vanilla extract
2 tb. sugar

how to:

make your favorite chocolate cake mix as instructed on box and make in "maryann" pan...(make sure to butter and flour your pan very well)

after cake has cooled, flip it over onto a pretty plate.  i like to spread the raspberry jam while the cake is still slightly warm, so it absorbs into the cake.

next step is to make the whipped cream.  of course you could substitute store bought whipped cream.  use a handmixer to beat the heavy whipping cream until firm, then add vanilla and sugar.

just for fun, i added a couple drops of red food coloring to make a pretty pink color.

spread a thick and even layer of whipped cream on your cake...

once your whipped cream layer is finished, you can decorate with the berries...

this cake is easy and delicious and everyone will think you are a fantastic baker!

some other flavor combinations could be:

~yellow cake, lemon curd, blueberries
~chocolate cake, orange marmalade, whipped cream, orange zest
~white cake, raspberry jam, whipped cream, strawberries

Friday, November 18, 2011

garden box...8 weeks

here is our garden box at 2 months.  i have been picking and using the basil in my cooking and the cucumbers are really starting to take off...

 the squash have lots of yellow flowers coming in, and we even have one baby squash plant.

we keep getting more and more baby green tomatoes, i hope they ripen in time to eat them in a greek salad with our cucumber and basil.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

flight lesson...

part of jarad's birthday present was a demo flight lesson to catalina island.  he is very into remote control helicopters and planes, so i thought he would enjoy the real thing.  i have had several friends take these demo flights and they all rave about it.  my understanding is that you are with an experienced pilot who will let you take over during parts of the flight...much like the kid who gets to sit on their parents lap while steering the golf cart, but that was hardly the case.

when we arrived at "fly corona" we were greeted by our "pilot", who appeared to be a few years younger than us and had been doing this for 2 years.  there is something odd to me that you can get your pilots license in 40 hours, but it takes 1600 hours of practice to be able to cut someone's hair!?!?!?  he showed us our plane and asked if we had done this before.  jarad replied that he fixes and flies rc helicopters and planes as a hobby.  i think the pilot was confused by this, and assumed we had done this before.  he gave jarad all of 3 minutes of instruction before they pushed the plane out to the runway and jarad was getting ready to take off.


jarad got the plane safely off the ground and i was a nervous wreck in the back seat.

he got to fly the entire time to catalina island and back (1 1/2 hours) with the exception of the very last minute of landing.  we had beautiful views the entire time, and got to see a huge pod of dolphins and three whales.

it was a beautiful day to take a ride in an airplane, we had to cancel our lesson 2 times prior due to bad weather.  it was a fun thing to be able to do together, but i am so glad jarad does not have the desire to pursue flying.