Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Exchange Birthday Party

After discussing some birthday ideas with my almost-7 year old, such as a craft party, etc, she settled on a book exchange.  We have harder times with ideas for her, since the weather here is so unpredictable in January.  She absolutely LOVES books, and goes through them very quickly.  She currently has a fixation on the Rainbow Magic books, and also still loves Magic Treehouse books (and FYI if you're not familiar with either series, there is no correlation between them even though Magic is in the series names for both).

She knew we were on a budget, and after all was said and done, we managed to keep the entire party, including our gift to her, which I'll tell you about later, under $100!
The idea behind the book exchange, which grown-ups also do for fun, is to wrap a gently used book that you enjoyed reading.  At the end of the party you each go home with a different book.   This is supposed to be in lieu of bringing a gift for the birthday girl.  I created the invitations in MS Word based on inspiration from Reid Girls Handmade.  It cost me only $3 for copies to be made on cardstock at the local office supply store.  Ribbon and envelopes are always on hand in my craft room, so no extra $ spent there.
We did a game that was like Dirty Santa, but only 1 girl stole from another, so I'm not sure these young girls understood the game part.  (LOL)  It was great watching the girls see their new book in the end, there was a lot of excitement in the room!  Each girl filled out a simple card to place inside that told who brought it and what they enjoyed about the book (see above pic).

I did some very simple decorations.  My daughter didn't want any balloons, so I used green and blue buckets (her favorite colors) to hold flowers and drape ribbon.  The ribbon tied in with the bookmarks that they made.
I bought jumbo paper clips for them to tie ribbon on.  The girls ended up recruiting their moms to help.  I had a bucket of small ribbon pieces, told them to pick out about 10 each, and tie them to the top of the clip.  I thought it was such a cute idea, and the ribbon was no extra cost for me, since I have a TON of it upstairs in my craft room.
Lastly, we had an ice cream social.  The birthday girl did not want cake, since she doesn't like frosting.  So, per her request, we had ice cream, homemade whipped cream, and fresh fruit- a selection of fresh blueberries, sliced strawberries, and sliced bananas.

It was a nice relaxing party, no hustle and bustle, and the girls all had a great time.  Best of all, it didn't break the bank.

Our gift to her was an LED book light that has a charging station (and the special edition book Belle the Birthday Fairy).  We let the girls read at bedtime (we encourage reading), and feel it gives them flexibility and not 'feeling' forced to lay there when they're not yet tired.  We've used glow bracelets in the past to provide them the extra light.  The book light was definitely something she loved- my husband even found her using it in a dark room in the middle of the day one day!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Veggie Quiche

I grew up knowing this as Broccoli Quiche, but think there's enough veggies in this one to call it a veggie quiche.  I just love it because it's full of veggies, where many quiches are mostly egg.  I usually throw in some extra broccoli because that's just how I like it.

I also grew up with Bisquick in the original recipe.  I don't use the stuff, I think it's scary, at best, and prefer to use ingredients that I know how to say and know what is in them.  That's why I used an Olive Oil Crust recipe.  After eating some, I recommend only using half of the olive oil crust recipe, making for a thin crust layer, but this week I used the full crust (and just didn't eat all of the crust).


Veggie Quiche

10 oz (2-3 cups) frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup onion, chopped or diced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 cup milk

Prepare your crust in a pie dish.  Evenly spread out your broccoli, bell pepper, onion, and cheese.  In a separate bowl, blend together remaining ingredients until eggs are well beaten.  (You can use a blender, whisk, beater...)  Pour liquid mixture over the veggies.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center.

I made this for myself to eat for lunches this week, but my 7 year old tasted it and decided that she'd also like some in her lunchbox.  That's my girl!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Leftover French Toast

If you've made too much... layer your pancakes, waffles, or french toast in parchment and place them in a freezer safe Ziploc bag.  You can defrost in the microwave for a minute, then if you like them a little crispier, you can stick it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes.

Sometimes I make too much on purpose.  I love the leftovers on random mornings.  I also like to plan a special breakfast into our busy work/school week, the time saved, by preparing ahead, allows us to do this.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Up Close & Personal with Butterflies

A couple of weeks ago we took a short trip to Raleigh, NC.  We were going to be meeting family for dinner, but decided to spend the afternoon doing something fun with the kids.  So we decided to head to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, a free museum with many exhibits!
I had heard about one of the permanent exhibits, a living conservatory, where live butterflies accompany you through the room that "recreates the sights, sounds and smells of a dry tropical forest."  There was also a sloth, although he was in a protected area, of course!

We were in awe of the butterflies, they flew all around, even inches from your face, at times.  There were several beautiful types, and here are some that we saw.  One thing that was interesting is that sometimes it seemed as if you were looking at different butterflies, but then would realize after a simple movement that it was the same.  They had different patterns and colors on the other sides of their wings!

We had a fun trip and a nice dinner with the family, and we will definitely be making another trip to that museum!

If you look closely, you can see that this is the other side of the wings on the blue butterfly!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Peaceful decor

Just a simple plan for decorating the bar.  A tray, a picture,a terrarium, some inverted wine glasses, and candles.  All things I had in the house.

Terrariums are very simple to make, I made this one in a small hurricane and inverted a chunky candle holder as the lid.  I've had this one going since last spring, and have only added a bit of water once.  If you look closely enough, you can see my daughter's green ceramic turtle sitting on the soil. ;)
In the same way, let your light shine before men, 
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. 
-Matthew 5:16

Saturday, January 14, 2012

20 minutes of peace

I spent just a short time outside this afternoon, right after my youngest daughter went down for her nap.  I got to see some of our 'pets' in the backyard.  I love getting up close and personal with wild birds, they are so beautiful, and I love listening to them.  As a bonus, as the sun was setting this afternoon, we spotted another beauty.  Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!
Sparrow (we named him Bubba, he's a fatty)
Black-Capped Chickadee
Eastern Bluebird
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebirds
Cooper's Hawk (What a beauty!)
Have an awe-inspiring weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A great cookbook and incredible dinner rolls

We had a nice quiet Christmas dinner at home.  I made a more formal dinner for the occasion, and made a decision to include homemade rolls on the menu.  Being that it was Christmas weekend, I wasn't able to find time for any yeast breads, so I decided to hunt down a good recipe from my collection of books.
One of the books I perused was Lee Bailey's THE WAY I COOK.  It's a large collection from several of his cookbooks, all combined into one.  My aunt gave me this cookbook many years ago, when she lived in the area, and I'm so thankful to have it in my collection- it is timeless.  I recommend this book to people who want a comprehensive cookbook that will be a standby for years to come.  There are no pictures, so you have to imagine everything.  In the case of our Parmesan Onion Puffs, I'm so glad I imagined... and so was the family!  Even my kids loved these, despite the presence of onion.

The great thing about the puffs is that they are really simple to make, and it makes a lot of them, which is good because you will not be able to keep hands off of them!  The recipe says it makes ~18, but I'd say it was more like 24 or so.  I used my medium Pampered Chef scoop to make life easier.  These would be great for a dinner party.

Parmesan Onion Puffs

Saute 2 cups coarsley chopped onions in 4 Tbsp butter until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Next, make the PATE A CHOUX:
1 stick unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 cup sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
4 eggs, at room temperature

Put 1 cup water, the butter and salt into a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Dump in the flour all at once and stir vigorously over medium heat until the paste begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Off the heat, beat in the eggs, one at a time.

To finish the puffs, add in 1 cup freshly grated parmesan and the sauteed onions.  Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets (*I used parchment on mine).  Brush tops with milk and then sprinkle with additional parmesan.  Bake until golden and fluffy, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I love this bag

This bag was given to me for Christmas.  I just wanted to share it with you because I love it.  I love how substantial it feels, how it stretches (so I can stuff it when I need to), how it safely holds a laptop... I also love the colors, they're so fun. 

It is now one of my personal 'good things.'

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Simple idea to protect my recipe

Tonight I was working on making Cilantro Lime Pesto for my pasta dish.  The recipe was on a piece of paper.  I work on those clear cutting sheets that are very handy to have around when you don't need a full cutting board!  I realized that I could place the recipe under the cutting sheet, and keep working.  Simple, yet so easy and saves your paper recipes from splatters, wet fingers, etc.

What's for dinner at your house?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Mantel Makeover

I made over the mantel after Christmas.  I picked up a few things, and used a few things from around the house.  The glittery branches came from an after-Christmas clearance sale, and I thought the colors along with the glitter would be wintery.  The weather here has been far from wintery!  I'd love a snow day this year- complete with glittery snow, angels, and hot chocolate!

Nighttime sparkles:
Daytime view:

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Photo from Country Living

There is an innate desire within me to create.

Hope everyone has started off the new year with wonderful things.  I'm always excited for fresh starts.  I have some wonderful things planned for sharing, so I hope you'll be back to see!  My husband painted our dining room, I redecorated the mantel for winter, a fabulous recipe and so much more to come.  Stay tuned.