Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Pudding

After dinner on Sunday, my husband looks in the fridge and says, "I want dessert, what can we make?"

So I asked, "what would you like?"

He closed the fridge and said, "chocolate pudding."

Being the good wife that I am, I hopped online in search for a really good chocolate pudding recipe and found one by Tyler Florence. It was really easy and took about 15 mins to make, not to mention it turned out smooth and declicious. At first I wasn't sure how it would turn out b/c I had never made pudding from scratch, I've always done it from the box, but my husband approved. YEA! So I wanted to share the recipe with you.

Chocolate Pudding


2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 tsp cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (to find really good pure vanilla extract go here)
1/4 tsp fine salt
3/4 cup whipped cream


  • Put 1 1/2 cups of the milk, sugar, and cocoa in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer, over med-high heat. Remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of milk, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks and vanilla in a bowl. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return to the saucepan and cook over med-high heat whisking constantly, until the pudding comes to a full boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and continue whisking until thick, about 2 or 3 mins more.
  • Pour pudding into small cups. Cover w/ plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least 4 hour or ideally overnight until set.
*recipe found at Food Network *

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tip of the Week: Kitchen Cleaning

I know that the kitchen is the hub of the house and with all the activity that goes on it can get pretty dirty. I found some cleaning tips to help keep the kitchen sanitized.

    • Dishwasher Soap Film: Run a cup of white vinegar through the entire dishwashing cycle in an empty dishwasher to remove all soap film.
    • Refridgerator Odors: A little vanilla poured on a piece of cotton and placed in the refrigerator will eliminate odors.
    • Countertops: Use a mild dishwashing liquid for plastic lamination and rinse well afterwards to prevent residue from getting on food.
    • Glassware: For extra-shiny, streakless glasses, add a little vinegar or borax to the final rinse water.

    * for more cleaning tips you can go to All About Home *

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    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Tutorial: Checker Board

    If you are looking for a fun gift to make someone, or to add your game collection you need check out this fun Checker Board!

    Cute right!? Well you can go to Totally Tutorials on how to make it. It doesn't look really hard to do. I think that I will be making this to add to our game collection.

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    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Halloween Kids Crafts

    Today I thought I would post a few fun Halloween Kids Crafts. Check out what I've found!

    Bat O'Lanterns - this is super cute!

    Paper Bag Gargoyles - this looks like fun!

    Spirit Jugs - A great way to recycle those milk and juice jugs!

    * You can find more Halloween Crafts at Family Fun *

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    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Gingerbread

    What doesn't scream fall than freshly baked pumkpin bread!? I found this recipe that put a twist on the pumpkin bread. It calls for ginger, I wouldn't have thought that add some ginger to my pumpkin bread, so here is the recipe.

    3 cups sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil
    4 eggs
    2/3 cup water
    1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
    2 teaspoons ground ginger
    1 teaspoon ground allspice
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground cloves
    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    - Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
    - In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.
    - In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
    - Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

    * you can find more fall inspired recipes at All Recipes *

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    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Tutorial and Tip: Decorating for Thanksgiving

    I think that I've mentioned before that this is my favorite time of year. So to get me more into the mood of the upcoming holiday season I've been browsing through sites looking for ways to make my home more fun and festive. In my search I was looking at the HGTV website, love all of their ideas and not to metion their channel, and found this:

    Creative right!? I would never have thought to add lentils and beans to candles! So I wanted to share it with you.

    Materials and Tools:

    assortment of miniature, small and medium pumpkins (orange and white foam craft variety)

    assortment of pillar candles (green, white, rust and yellow)

    double-sided adhesive sheets (available at craft stores)




    split peas

    dried lentils (various colors and sizes)


    pie plates


    1. Pour lentils to almost fill pie plates, one color lentil per plate.

    2. Cut strips of adhesive to form the band, strips can range from one to three inches wide, depending on the size of the pumpkins. Tip: Visually, it's best if the adhesive strips cover approximately one-third of the pumpkin.

    3. Remove one side of paper from the adhesive and wrap around the middle of the pumpkin. Remove the remaining paper backing. Add additional strips of adhesive until there is a continuous band around the middle of the pumpkin.

    4. Roll the exposed adhesive in the lentils, pressing the lentils into the adhesive to affix. Use fingers to place additional lentils in areas where they do not completely cover the adhesive.

    5. Press all lentils gently to make sure they are secure and repeat for remaining pumpkins.

    6. Cut strips of adhesive that equal the height of each candle, minus two inches.

    7. Wrap the adhesive around the candles in the same manner as the pumpkins, leaving an inch of candle color exposed at the top and bottom and roll the exposed adhesive in the lentils to cover.

    8. To create a colorful tablescape, pour additional lentils onto table in a colorful pattern. Place pumpkins and candles on the bed of lentils. Raise some pumpkins and candles by placing them on stands or candleholders.

    Note: To store this decoration for future use, wrap candles and pumpkins in wax paper to keep lentils attached and store in a cool, dry place.

    Tip of the Week- Thanksgiving Table setting: For a sophisticated but not over-the-top look, balance the sparkle of metallics with natural elements, like fall branches or fresh fruit.

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    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Sneak Peak

    Here is a little sneak peak at my next giveaway. I'm still working on it but you will all be excited to win this awesome prize.

    Can anyone guess what it is that I will be giving away next?

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    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Recipe of the Week: Harvest Moon Macaroni

    I think that I've mentioned before that this one of my favorite season's and so I've been on the hunt to find fun Fall inspired things and that also means food. I mean who doensn't like eat a fun and delicious meal, right!? That's what I thought! So I found this recipe from Rachel Ray and wanted to share.


    1 pound macaroni such as cassarecci, strozzopretti or ziti with lines
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
    3 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons all-purpose four
    1 cup chicken stock
    1 1/2 cups whole milk
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Nutmeg, grated to taste
    1 (10-ounce) box frozen butternut squash, defrosted
    A few dashes hot sauce
    1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    1 cup extra-sharp yellow Cheddar
    A handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
    1 teaspoon sweet paprika


    Bring water to a boil, season with salt and cook macaroni to al dente.

    Preheat broiler and place rack in middle of the oven.

    Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat, saute onions and garlic until soft, 6 to 7 minutes and stir in the thyme.

    Scoot onions off to side of pan and melt butter, whisk flour into butter and combine whisk 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk, season sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and cook until thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes.

    Stir in butternut squash and a few dashes hot sauce. Reduce heat. When sauce comes to a bubble, stir in Parmigiano. Combine the sauce and macaroni, transfer to a casserole dish and top with shredded yellow Cheddar, chopped parsley and paprika. Brown the macaroni under broiler, 4 to 5 minutes until brown and bubbly.

    * You can find more fall inspired recipes at Foodnetwork. *

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    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Tip of the Week: Photography

    I by no means am a photography but would like to think that I am. So in a quest to learn how to take better pictures for my Etsy shop I found some helpful tips from Kodak that I would like to share.

    1. Get down to their level (your subject)
    2. Use a plain backgound
    3. Use flash outdoors
    4. Move in close (this is one my favorite features my new camera!)
    5. Take soem vertical pictures
    6. Lock the focus
    7. Move it from the middle (your subject)
    8. Know your flash range
    9. Watch the light
    10. Be a picture director

    I hope this is useful to you. :) Happy photography!

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    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Tutorial: How to Make an Ice Pack

    I was reading on the Esty blog and they had a few fun back-to-school tutorials and the one that caught my attention was the one on how to make an ice pack. Really you can do that!? So I wanted to share it with you.
    Ice Pack


    1 plastic zip top freezer bag (or vacuum seal type)
    1/2 cup liquid dish soap (your choice)
    3 drops food coloring (optional)
    1 glass jar (optional)


    1.Open Bag: Although this sounds like a silly first step, it's an important one. Even though it's not rocket science to squirt soap into a bag, any residual soap could end up on your lunch, so we take an extra second to roll back the lip of the bag to eliminate any chance of contact later on.

    2. Add Soap: Although you can just squirt the soap right in the bag, we use a small jar to help hold the bag open and also to keep the zip-closure out of the way. This ensures that we won't have any external soap that could come in contact with our tasty lunches or picnic food!

    3. Add Food Coloring: Although ice packs won't be confused for a snack by adults, they could be mistaken by children as such. Add a few drops of food coloring to the mix if you'd like to ensure they don't look like your typical frozen treat (or just for fun, because purple ice packs are cool!).

    4. Remove Air: This is easiest done on the first try, once you flip it upright to squeeze any excess out of the bag, you'll have new found air bubbles that will need to work their way to the surface. Keep the bag flat and let it almost flow out the top and seal right before it gets to the end. You can of course choose any method you wish, this one just happens to work well for us.

    5. Freeze: Your ice pack will take to whatever shape it rests on in your freezer and even though it will spend most of it's time in your lunch box as a thick cold gel, when it's first removed from the freezer it's more solid than not (depending on the size of your ice pack). Sometimes we keep them flat, other times we roll them up and store them in a glass until frozen, that way it will keep your fruit perfectly chilled, but not your peanut butter sandwich.

    6. Tips On Using These packs will work forever as long as you take care of them. If you're worried about them leaking you can use a double bag or a vacuum seal bag. They're super inexpensive to make and at only a few pennies a piece, you could make one for each day of the week or different shapes or sizes.

    * more ideas at The Kitchn *

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    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Fun Friday - Kids Halloween Craft

    The internet has a wealth of info. I was looking for a fun Halloween craft to do with my son when I stumbled across this:

    Isn't that cute!? It's a spider candy holder! So I wanted to share it with you and how to make it.

    Materials Needed:

    9" paper plate
    4 black chenille stems
    Three 36"-long pieces of green yarn
    Black, white and light green acrylic paint
    3" x 5" piece of orange construction paper
    Black marker
    White craft glue


    1. Fold paper plate in half and make a crease.

    2. Cut paper plate in half using crease as a guide.

    3. Turn paper plate pieces upside down (rounded side up). Paint both halves of plate with black paint and let dry.

    4. When dry, glue along the rounded edges of the two pieces of plate and stick the plates together, unpainted sides should be facing each other. Do not glue the cut sides; this is the opening of your plate pocket.

    5. Cut chenille stems in half.

    6. Set aside two of the chenille stems. Bend the ends of the remaining chenille stems, about 1" at each end. Bend one to the left and the other to the right.

    7. For the remaining two chenille stems, bend one end about 1" and the other end about 2".

    8. Place plate pocket in front of you, with the open end at the top. Glue three chenille legs on the left (glue to the under side) and the other three on the right.

    9. Take the remaining two stems and glue the 2" bend under the plate about 1/3 of the way down from the left, and 1/3 of the way down on the right. Allow to dry.

    10. Make eyes from white construction paper, or paint a section of any color construction paper with white paint. When dry, cut out two circles, about 1.5" in diameter. Use the handle end of a paint brush to add the black pupils. When black is dry, use a toothpick or small paint brush handle to dot a small bit of white onto the black pupil. When eyes are completely dry, glue them to the front of the plate.

    11. Paint a wiggly smile on the front of the plate using green paint.

    12. Write "Happy Halloween!" on the orange construction paper with black marker. Glue the paper underneath the spider’s "hands" so that it appears that it is holding the sign .

    13. To make the handle, line all three pieces of yarn up together and tie one end in a knot. Braid the strands together and knot at the other end.

    14. Open the pocket and pipe some glue into the creases then press the ends of the yarn handle inside and let dry.

    15. Fill with candy or other treats and hang.


    1. Instead of making the eyes you can use large wiggle eyes.

    2. If you prefer to skip braiding the yarn, you can cut a handle from craft foam.

    * you can find more Halloween craft ideas at Kaboose *

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    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Valley of the Sun Dog Rescue: Dog Show

    My co-worker just sent me an update from a dog show over the weekend.

    Valley of the Sun Dog Rescue was at the Pit-bull show and was the only rescue there. We wanted to represent the breed and show that rescue pit bulls can make wonderful pets too. Two of our pit bulls won ribbons. Loki (who is up for adoption) won a first place blue ribbon and Ditch ( one of our pit bulls that adopted to a loving home) won a third place ribbon. It was awesome to see so many Pits in one area and everyone did great. Those are the positive things that the media does not focus on with the breed.

    These 2 didn't win but they are Mia and Jax.

    This is Loki and he won a ribbon.

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    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Recipe of the Week: Edible Eyeballs

    How about this for a fun creepy, Halloween snack for your kids or for your Halloween party, Edible Eyeballs. Sounds gross I know but pretty clever if you ask me.


    Large Carrots
    Cream Cheese
    Pitted black olives, or even the green ones with the pimentos would be fun


    Simply slice carrots into 1-inch-thick chunks, top each with a blob of cream cheese and one half of a pitted black olive, and serve.

    * more fun Halloween snack ideas can be found at Family Fun *

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    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Tips of the Week: Cooking

    This week's tip is for cooking. I know that we all can use some fun and helpful tips when cooking meals for our families so here's what I found.

    - Let raw potatoes stand in cold water for at least half an hour before frying to improve the crispness of french-fried potatoes

    - Do not use metal bowls when mixing salads. Use wooden, glass or china

    - It's important to let a roast -- beef, pork, lamb or poultry -- sit a little while before carving. That allows the juices to retreat back into the meat. If you carve a roast too soon, much of its goodness will spill out onto the carving board

    - Microwave a lemon for 15 seconds and double the juice you get before squeezing

    - A dampened paper towel or terry cloth brushed downward on a cob of corn will remove every strand of corn silk

    Happy cooking!

    * more useful cooking tips can be found at E-Cookbooks *

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    Monday, September 6, 2010


    I soo excited to present to you my very first ever Giveaway!! I've been preparing it for weeks!

    DRUM ROLL PLEASE . . . .

    Scents of Fall Giveaway

    You get everything you see here to make your home smell like fall! Fall is one of my favorite seaons, even though I live in Arizona, and don't get to experience the full season I love to smell the scents that go with it!

    Here is what you will get:

    • 4 clear votive holders
    • 1 6" Warm Apple Pie Candle
    • 1 3" Warm Apple Pie Candle
    • 2 square pewter candle holders
    • 1 bag of my homemade Orange Spice potpourri (which will soon be featured in my Etsy Shop)
    • 9 Cranberry Orange tealights
    • 4 Mulled Cider votive candles
    • 4 Pumpkin Spice votive candles
    • 1 5oz Orange Vanilla candle
    • 1 5oz Pumpkin Pie candle
    • 1 8oz Mulled Cider candle
    • 2 red tealight holders
    • 2 clear tealight holder

    How do you enter to win this fabulous giveaway you ask? Go to my Giveaway Rules which will tell you exactly how to enter. It will be open for 2 weeks and on Friday 17th I will post the winner!

    Please post what you love about Fall!

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    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Update on Wrigley the Pit Bull

    I just received this update on Wrigley.

    OK To all those that have been waiting for an update on this boy. Please send out to everyone. This boy has some real issues and needs to have surgery to remove the abscess or tumor (whichever it is) ASAP. The injury is getting worse. He went to the vet yesterday and has been put on a stronger antibiotic. When we first took him in it was with the impression that there was going to be support and donations for his medical care. I had stated that we could take him but couldn't do medical. Well we ending up getting very few donations and are now in a real bind. He needs this surgery ASAP. To all thiose that have donated already thank you very much for your support. Please send your donations directly to:

    Prestige vet clinic
    700 w ray rd
    gilbert azor call with credit card at: 480-792-0185

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    Good Cause: Valley of the Sun

    Here is a new update of a dog that was brought to the rescue.

    Here's what the owner, Kathy, of the rescue had to say:

    This girl came to us today. Her pups are 4 days old. She has had her ears chopped off to just ear holes and she has a scar on her face that will probably never go away. She is scared to even move. For right now I have to carry her to go outside to potty. I had a good cry over this one. I sometimes just get sick and tired.

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    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Recipe of the Week: Monte Cristo

    When my husband was sitting in the Newark Airport on his way home from Boston he stumbled acrossed a breakfast sandwhich. It has quickly become a favorite in our house. It is french toast with ham and cheese and you dip it in syrup. How delicious does that sound!?! So, I thought it would be shame not share this recipe with you.


    Texas Toast Bread
    Black Forest Ham
    Havarti Cheese or Swiss (we like Harvarti b/c it is a creamy cheese)

    French Toast Batter
    1 3/4 cup milk
    3 eggs
    2 tbsp sugar
    2 tbsp cinnamon

    Preheat oven at 400 degrees

    1. Dip the Texas Toast in the batter and cook them as you would for regular french toast.

    2. After you've cooked the bread in the batter place them on a baking sheet and start placing the ham and cheese on to the toast.

    3. Put in oven and bake until cheese is melted.

    4. Eat and enjoy!!

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