Tuesday, November 17, 2015

show me, don't tell me

The pretty pink lady is my Grandma Marvel. She was the kindest person I ever knew. She didn't say one bad thing about my Grandpa except once... "He thinks he is so smart, but sometimes he isn't". All around the world, times have been very trying. It makes me wonder what she would have to say about all of this. I like to think she say "The world is filled with nice people, if you can't find one, be one".

Nothing better than the 1980s Halloween costumes. I don't know why they haven't been reissued. Of course I had the Princess costume in previous photos!

Wonder where this all started from? click here.  I was asked by a few folks if I sell these images. I just started up a Society6. Check it out if you might be interested in a print or two.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Banana Egg Pancakes

Banana Egg Pancakes. (Gluten Free, Whole30 Compliant, Paleo and delicious)

2 eggs
1 banana
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Peel the banana, slice it then smash the banana down to a puree like texture. Crack two eggs into another bowl, whip them up nicely. Combine egg with banana, then add the baking soda and cinnamon. Heat up coconut oil in a small frying pan on medium heat. Pour approximately 1/3 cup pancake mixture per pancake. It makes 3-4 pancakes.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Baked Donuts

For years, I have intended to make baked donuts. Finally, this week I bought a mini donut pan at TJMaxx and went for it. They are freaking awesome. So easy to make and the kids loved them. The chocolate donuts were fantastic. Next up Apple Cinnamon and then maybe Green Tea with toasted coconut.

Chocolate Donuts (Makes 12 donuts- I would just double the recipe if you have kids in the house)
combine in a medium bowl
1 cup flour (you could easily use GF flour)
1/2 sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 tsp baking soda

combine in small bowl
1/2 tsp  vanilla extract
1 egg
6 TBS sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 vegetable oil (or coconut oil)

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl, then add the wet ingredients to the dry. Grease the donut pan, then evenly fill the pan. Bake for 8 minutes or until the tops spring back upon touch.

Let the donuts cool in the pan a bit before removing. Meanwhile make the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze (enough for 24 donuts, so you should just double the donut recipe!)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
1 TBS light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
2 cups powdered sugar (I don't bother sifting, but it's probably a good idea)

Combine the butter, milk, corn syrup and vanilla in a medium sauce pan or medium heat until the butter has melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate and whisk till melted. Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar and whisk till smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the tops of the donuts immediately. Take one donut at a time and carefully submerge the top, lift out of the glaze, flip over and allow to cool on waxed paper or a wire rack. Allow the glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving. I love sprinkles, so of course I add sprinkles before the glaze sets.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

GF Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting

I cannot get enough of this Gluten Free Carrot Cake with homemade Cream Cheese frosting.
It takes a bit of work to make but it is worth the effort.

I have had a few requests for the recipe, so it's time to share. 

Gluten Free Carrot Cake
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 raw sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one orange

combine then add to the mix:
1 1/2 All purpose Gluten Free flour (I like Trader Joe's best)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

combine then add to the mix:
2 cups shredded carrots
1 peeled and grated apple
1/2 cup chopped green grapes
juice of one orange

Stir in:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (my kids are allergic to all nuts. So this can't happen at our house)

Grease and flour cake pans. Makes two thin layers. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. 

16 oz cream cheese (softened)
8 Tbsp butter (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar (I went without this and it's great)
1 Tbsp vanilla

Garnish with more orange zest!

If you make mini cupcakes bake 10 minutes. For regular sized cupcakes, bake 18-20 minutes.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

DIY Rice Bag Wall Hanging

My Grandparents owned an International grocery store on Nicollet Island, Minnesota in the 1960 through the early 1980's. It was called International House of Foods. They had the first Fortune Cookie Machine west of the Mississippi. How sweet is that story? I remember helping to make fortune cookies and riding the big freight elevator.

My mom was cleaning out her house about a year ago. We found a few of my Grandma Marvel's branded rice bags. I was going to make them into pillows but decided I would rather have some wall hangings. I sewed a little channel for the dowels (from Michaels). I painted them with Hand Made Modern Glow-in-the-dark paint in Clementine. Then added a few neon pom poms for flair.

I am hanging up this sassy rice bag near a giant poster with some neon orange lettering. I am still working on styling up this room. Maybe some photos later?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Watermelon Rice Kripies

Watermelon Rice Krispie Treats. I promise this is easy. The pretty treats above were created by seventh graders.

You will need:
Rice Krispies
Mini marshmallows
Vanilla extract
Red food coloring
Green food coloring
Mini chocolate chips
Small circular cake pan
Slightly larger circular cake pan

Recipe for Rice Krispies:
3 TBLS of butter
4 cups of mini marshmallows
5-6 cups of Rice Krispies (I lean toward 5, to ensure there is enough marshmallow goodness)
1 tsp of vanilla extract (I add this, the classic recipes does not have this)

We ended up making two watermelons and a bit extra of just plain green Rice Krispie bars (they would make great Minecraft Creeper Treats). For the first batch of Rice Krispies, melt the butter, marshmallows completely, then add the red food coloring. Next add the Rice Krispies. Let this mixture cool a tiny bit, then press into a small cake pan. Be sure that the pan is coated nicely with some butter. I find it easiest to really butter up your hands and press the treats in the pan.

While the red Rice Krispies are cooling a bit, mix up the green Rice Krispies. Butter two slightly larger cake pans, flip the red Rice Krispies into this larger pan. Then add the green Rice Krispies around the red Rice Krispies. Let it cool a bit more, then add the mini chocolate chips. If the treats are too hot the mini chocolate chips will melt, so be patient.

We are thinking of making oranges, lemons and limes next!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Swim Ribbon Display

I have three kids in competitive swimming. Soon we will be wrapping our third year of schlepping kids to pools nearly everyday, driving carpools, writing swim events on arms with Sharpies, Goggle management, sitting through four+ hour long swim meets, long-term screaming parents (not me, they can't hear us- trust me, I asked) and fun foods like Walking Tacos and Giant Dill Pickles from Costco. We get two weeks off around December and in March. The month of August is also a swim team free zone. Otherwise we go all year long. Most friends think we are insane.

"OMG- I swear you are pool-bound every weekend"

The kids need swimming. When they don't swim the month of August, they are climbing the walls, getting in trouble and breaking things. Yes, they are generally good kids. Kids are kids, they have a ton of energy. Swimming is the perfect thing for them. I love the sport because it is a team thing (Relays) and an individual thing (Personal Best times). There are swimming brackets based on age. So the kids need to learn to focus in order to achieve goals before they age up. Swimming is something you can do till you are in your 90s. At a recent swim meet, a Master Swimmer in her 90s swam at the meet. (I am totally serious).

And the best part? RIBBONS and MEDALS.

"OMG- How many ribbons do you have at your house? You should do a Project Runway inspired dress made from those ribbons"

"You could make a quilt from all of those ribbons"

So each kid had their own ribbon bin under their bed. The bins were filling up and I wanted to create something to hang them on the wall. I found a few ideas on Pinterest and on Etsy, but I wanted something that held MORE RIBBONS.

I bought the boards at Home Depot (approximately 48" x 12"), we painted them white (Semi-gloss), added 30+ white coffee cup hooks (again from Home Depot), then hand-painted the lettering. I wanted one saying to go across all three boards. I designed the saying on my computer, printed it out on letter sized paper, spliced it together and then traced it on the wood (pressing hard with a ball-point pen), then painted the words with a gray paint. This hand-painting took a while. It was a pain, so if you go for it be patient.

We placed the Ribbon Displays in the stairwell on the way to the kids Basement-zone. Now, after a meet they run down there to proudly hang up their ribbons. At the top, is my Daughter's ribbon display. She currently has the most ribbons. The middle child is catching up with her. And rounding out the bottom, is my little guy's ribbon board. He has only been swimming for a year. 

 12 year old kid to give a sense of scale.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fruit Cake

For weeks and weeks I was pinning Fruit Cakes on Pinterest. And now, here it is! Layers of watermelon, with melon cubes in between and topped with kiwi, peaches, blueberries. I added kabob skewers to hold everything together. This fruit cake puppy went for car ride to a friends' party and everything was just fine.

I wanted to try the version with coconut cream frosting slathered with sliced almonds. That will happen. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 5, 2015

National Donut Day

Hello Donuts! National Donut Day is the First Friday in June. A clever gent at our office wrangled this gathering of donuts from around town. Woulette, Old Fashioned Donut Shoppe, Kowalskis, Lunds&Byerlys, Doughnette, Saloman, A Baker's Wife, Meloglaze, Sarah Jane, Glam Doll, Yoyo Donuts and Bogarts!

I counted 22 boxes of donuts and one lucky summer guest!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Floral Crown (made from money)

So this summer I am shaking up the Graduate Gift situation. I saw this clever Money Necklace on theHouseThatLarsBuilt. I decided to give it a crown twist. The hardest part was finding dollar bills. I never have cash!

Then gather up some light gauge wire, tissues paper and ribbon (for a bit of flare). Click the link to follow Lars tutorial (and video). 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

DQ sassy cake

My eldest turned 12 years old. She is not one to savor simple obvious things. So of course, we could not have a simple cake that said "Happy Birthday". I love that about her. She is shaping up to be one amazing human.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Peter Pan

For most of the 1980's my Grandparents had Season tickets to the Minneapolis Children's Theater Company. I loved getting dressed all fancy, driving downtown and walking up the stairs across the red carpet to see a show. The hours I spent absorbing those amazing shows most definitely set me on my path as a designer and creative soul. I graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, which is next door to the Children's Theater Company. Amazingly, our graduation ceremony took place on the Children's Theater Stage! The same stage that set my creativity on fire marked my journey into my design career. Now, I take my own kids to plays. I love to see how they react and what they love. I am inspired again and grateful that this tradition continues.

The images above show the cool bus stop marketing for Peter Pan. Obviously, we could not get a shot of both the boys "flying". They were too busy chasing each other in most of the shots. We are going to see Peter Pan soon. My middle son's classmate is one of the Lost Boys. How cool is that a fourth grader!

They have a great $10 ticket program if you are not ready for a season ticket membership. Just get on over there!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Sugar Cream Pie

Sugar Cream Pie is heavenly, a bit like creme brulee. I found a few recipes online and made a new tweaked version. My first attempt looked terrible but tasted fantastic. I altered a few of the details make the beauty above.

Makes One 9" pie:
1 Deep Dish Frozen Pie Crust 
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 TBS Flour
Pinch of salt
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Bake the pie crust according to the directions. Set aside, to cool a bit.
pre-heat oven to 375˚F
2. In a medium mixing bowl combine, the sugars, flour, and salt.
3. Gently stir in the heavy cream with a spatula. Do not overmix or the pie will not set properly
4. Stir in the vanilla extract in the mixture
5. Place your baked Pie Crust on a tin-foil lined baking sheet. (do not skip this step)
6. Slowly pour in the mixture into the baked Pie Crust.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate 180˚ then bake another 20-25 minutes. Large bubbles should cover the surface of the pie. The pie will not set when it comes out of the oven.
8. Cool to room temp, then chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours (or overnight). Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.

This pie tastes best, cold with a hot cup of coffee.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Chalk Globe

Around the world with chalky hands! My youngest son got the classroom Panda (Pang Pang) for the weekend. He wanted to do something EPIC with Pang Pang. He wanted to draw the world on the driveway. We used a hula hoop to start the globe. I lightly traced the hula hoop one time. Then lined up the hula hoop near the traced circle to get a bigger circle– making a dash, then connecting all the dashes.

Now, it's time for photos. I drag out the ladder and prop it up on the angled driveway, climb way up and attempt to direct the placement of kids. Cars drive by during this process and people stare. For once, I was not wearing a dress. We even had a few people pull their cars over, get out and come see what we were working on.

While we were taking these photos, my little guy dropped Pang Pang on the edge of the ocean. POOF, blue chalk all over one of his perfectly white cheek. I did my best to POOF it off, then vacuum with no result. We tried: Shout, carpet cleaner, laundry detergent, cold water, hot water, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and washing it in the washer. I was going to do bleach, but I read online that sometimes it turns white things, yellow.

My kids go to a Chinese immersion school. Their faces turned white, eyes big… you are in so much trouble with the teacher. I must have spent no less than six hours trying to clean Pang Pang. I am not joking. Yeah, this is exactly how I wanted to spend my weekend. I waited all week for this fun. I texted my aunt, my dad and a few moms asking for help. I dug around on the internet. I tried everything to get that freaking Panda clean.

By Monday morning, I gave up. My hands were a bit raw. You could still tell there was so blue chalk but it was not nearly as bad. My daughter, said "It's fine. You will be okay". I was not okay, not at all. Around 3pm, the email went out from the teacher. She basically said that parents should not wash Pang Pang with colored things. Really? Come on.

That was not what happened! I am not that stupid. She knew we had Pang Pang, just talk to me about the blue cheek. I found out that she asked each student "Is it blue? Is it BLUE?" What kid is going to say no. I guess one kid did say it didn't look blue. I asked how that went over. My little guy said, not well.

Of course, I sent the teacher a note. I am a Tiger Mom myself. I can handle a Tiger Teacher. Another mom took Pang Pang home because her husband works at a dry cleaners. I guess Pang Pang got red stuff on him before (maybe lipstick?). The red stuff came out, but the blue chalk never did. Pang Pang is still blue and teacher… still not happy. But we have this really awesome globe photo!

Maybe, just maybe a white stuffed animal is not the best choice for a first grader to keep clean? I found out the year before the students had to keep the panda in a plastic bag. I am guessing next year, that Pang Pang will be back in that plastic bag. It will be awesome, like sitting on your Grandma's plastic-covered couches. Kids love to cuddle with a plastic-covered Panda. Our family ruined it for everyone. Stupid blue chalk.

This summer, that same teacher is asking different families to watch her dog in exchange for some Chinese lessons. A fellow parents wants me to volunteer to watch the dog, so I can dye it blue. The teacher never even asked us. I am guessing we are on the not-to-be-trusted list. Oh well, we tried. Next year we get "Da Da" the hand puppet. I really hate him. I might put him in a plastic bag for good measure.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

S'mores Cakepop Truffles with Graham Cracker Crumbles

OMG. So good, Chocolate S'more cakepop truffles with graham cracker crumbles. I made a basic chocolate cakepop truffle, dipped it in chocolate candy melts. Then I drizzled Wilton's S'mores Candy melts on top and sprinkled a bit of crumbled graham crackers for texture.

I can't find the S'more Candy Melts online. I bought them at my local Michael's Arts and Crafts (Minnesota).