Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Really Good Bread in Just One Hour?

La Fuji Mama promised bread in one hour. She called it Simple One Hour Homemade Bread. Uh huh, yeah, right. Honestly, I didn't believe it when I read it. Then I thought, "Well, it is probably super complicated because simple means different things to different levels of cooks and I won't be able to do it myself." I was wrong! This bread was so good and so easy...the kids actually raved about the bread at dinner last night. (These are kids who've been having home made bread for three years now.) As for easy, it really was easy. I mean really, really easy. Even better, there is a video demo of the entire process. It just doesn't get better than that. (And yes, I did watch the video...I like knowing what things are supposed to look like each step of the way!)

So, for those of you who say you don't cook or you hate cooking (and you know who you are!), this recipe is for you. Really! She even uses a paddle in her mixer instead of a dough hook (I used my dough hook because I wanted to try it out). This is seriously not complicated and the results speak for themselves. (My kids saw me typing this and asked me if this would be the kind of bread I made all the time, they liked it that much.)

So, be brave, give it a try. You'll be proud of yourself.

Simple One Hour Homemade Bread
from La Fuji Mama
Makes 2 loaves

5 1/4 cups white bread flour
2 - 4 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. (rounded) saf-instant yeast (I used Red Star Active Dry Yeast - it was what I had)
1 1/2 Tbsp. oil
2 cups hot water

1. Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and water. Mix for 1 minute and then check the consistency of the dough. The dough should be very sticky. If it is too dry, add more water.

2. Mix for 5 minutes. (Do not add any more flour after the dough has finished mixing.)

3. Spray kneading surface with cooking spray and turn dough out onto surface. Knead dough briefly until it has a smooth even consistency (this will only take several turns of the dough to accomplish).

4. Divide dough into 2 pieces (or more if you wish to have smaller loaves) and shape loaves into desired shapes and place on greased baking sheets. Cover with a large dish towel and let rise for 25 minutes.

5. While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When loaves are ready to go into the oven, use a sharp knife (you can lightly spray your knife with cooking spray to prevent dragging) to make several slashes in the top. Make each cut about 1/4-inch deep at a 30 degree angle. (In the video, La Fuji Mama spritzes with time I'm going to try that for a crustier crust.) Bake loaves for 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

There you have it...once you read the instructions and watch the video, you'll think to yourself, "I can do this!" and you will! Talk about a feeling of accomplishment - woo hoo!

WIP Wednesday

Well, all the mending and alteration is done from last week, but I still need to try my hand at freestyle applique on that Pepsi shirt. In the meantime, Superman is finishing up a little project in our dining room and I thought I'd share it with you.

Before: We wanted the dining room to be more separated from the entry way...

Stage 1: So Superman got to work. (The red rug? A victim of the cat and outside drying out after being cleaned.)

Stage 2: Look! All that is needed now is a couple coats of paint and a vacuum. The dining room looks separate from the entry way and the entry way is still nice and open. Isn't Superman wonderful!

Next step? A bench with room underneath for people to put their boots. We need a place to sit while taking on and off winter gear! Superman is going to make one and I already have the boot caddy.

P.S. That pumpkin came from our own garden! Isn't that cool?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday Special Coffee Cake

Long before I knew anything about cooking, Superman was the cook in the family. (Sad, but true!) during that period, I subscribed to the McCall's Baking School pages. It was one of those a-few-pages-a-month kind of subscriptions. You put them in the notebook they sent along with the initial shipment. Frankly, it was stuff that was too difficult for me, so it really never got used much. Except for this one recipe. This recipe is amazing and a favorite of our household for many, many years.

Superman made it for us all Sunday night and I knew you all would love it!

Sunday Special Coffee Cake
from the McCall's Baking School


Topping -
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter - softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Batter -
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Make topping: In a small bowl, place 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and the ground cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into sugar-flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and no large lumps of butter remain. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 375F. Using shortening, grease one 8 x 8 x 2 metal baking pan (we use glass because it is what we have) or one 9 x 1 1/2 round cake pan. Set pan aside.

3. Make batter: Mix together flour with baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. In medium-sized bowl, beat the egg until egg is frothy. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter; continue beating until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Beat in milk and vanilla.

5. Add flour mixture to egg mixture. Using wooden spoon, stir batter until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle reserved topping evenly over the batter.

6. Place pan on center rack of preheated oven and bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and place pan on wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Serve.

Note: This recipe advises that it may be doubled and just placed in a 9 x 13, but we've never had success doing this. When we need to serve more than the recipe will serve, we end up using two 8 x 8 pans instead.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Make It Yourself Monday - Metal Stamp Edition

It is Make It Yourself Monday, the time I share with you the ideas I've had for making hand-made gifts for Christmas this year. I know some will fall flat, but some will turn out really well and in the end, I'll have made myself proud and, hopefully, made my friends feel special by giving gifts from my hands and my heart.

If you read Little Birdie Secrets, maybe you've already seen this clever idea for a gift. She calls it a gift idea for guys, but I know a lot of girls who'd like to have personalized dog tags (with sayings or nicknames or whatever) for key rings or pendants or whatever. So, I headed out to Harbor Freight with Superman (who thought he'd died and gone to heaven) and bought my own set of the metal letters (1/8") for $8.99. Superman couldn't believe I had a craft idea that was right up his alley and immediately started playing with the stamps and some sheet metal.

What do you think? Pretty sweet, isn't he? (After he did this, we realized that instead of an "E" and a "3", our set had two "3"s and we needed to exchange it. Our next step is to hit the Army Surplus store for some blank dog tags.

See the "E" in this washer? It looks like a real one! (Yes, this is a simple washer from Home Depot...Superman had it and was still playing) Wouldn't this be cute on a long chain? (I'm thinking the words would have to either go completely around the circle or just be on the bottom half or 2/3s so the chain would get in the way. Obviously, this will take a little bit of practice to get the letters aligned properly and the ink in the letters to show, but I think we have the makings of some neat gifts here. What do you think?

(Do you have an idea for Make It Yourself Monday? Let me know and if we have enough, I'll add a Mr. Linky to this post.)

P.S. Did you know there are only 87 days until Christmas? Even if you're buying your gifts, it is really time to start planning!

(Oops...I scheduled this with the wrong date, so you didn't get to see it. Sorry!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Must Confess, I've Had a Difficult Weekend...

Oliver, the kitten we rescued, has refused to consistently use the litter box. The final straw? He came into the dining room as we were cleaning up from a birthday dinner for a friend last night and POOPED right on the rug by the table! It was horrible. Here we are, having a birthday celebration and we had to stop everything and get out the carpet cleaner to clean up POOP! I should have been embarrassed, but I was just too mad!

To make matter worse, I discovered that he'd been peeing on some curtains. So, after a month of trying different things, I could think of nothing else to try. We made the difficult,but necessary decision to return him to the vet's office. (If you recall, he'd been abandoned there, and we said we'd take him.) I felt terrible for the kids, but I just couldn't handle elimination issues.

So, we loaded him up in the cat carrier and took him back to the vet's office this afternoon. I'm sad that it didn't work out, but I have to admit to being relieved that it is all done. He was super cute, but I don't have to head downstairs with trepidation each morning. I know he'll find a home where he'll be happier. (I think he was marking to try to out rank our 7-year old cat, Sam, but it wasn't working, so he was escalating. Otherwise, I don't know what he was doing.)

What else could I have done? What would you have done?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

Hmmm...I guess when you get up at dark o'clock, you can get a lot more done. So, I'm jumping into Alicia's Friday Photo Flashback party. This is the time we head to our pre-digital photo stash and bring out some treasure to share with you. This is an old picture...seriously was taken more than 17 years ago. I love this photo and I keep in a frame on my desk so I can gaze lovingly at it all day long. (Okay, maybe not all day long, but I do so love it!)

This is a picture of Superman taken outside our old apartments (where we lived for 8 years). A funny note? The car you see in the background belonged to my mom's husband. He passed away and it was given to us and now, that is the car Charming owns. How cool is that?

Anyway, doesn't Superman look like Clark Kent? He's so cute...I can totally see why I fell for him. He was all of 25 in this picture and we'd been married 2 and a half years. seems like yesterday, yet this year we'll be celebrating our 20th anniversary...time sure flies.

To see what everyone else dug up, head over to Alicia's Friday Photo Flashback.

Fertilizer Friday

It is Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time and in honor of the what will most likely be the final weekend of good weather in this neck of the woods, I thought I'd jump in and share some shots from my yard. My garden was a mixed bag this year, but I learned so much that I'm calling it a complete success. I know Tootsie's flowers are much more impressive, but I also know she's been at this a lot longer than I have. So, as this season winds down, I'm already enthusiastically looking forward to next season.

These geraniums were on clearance at Home Depot. They had been sorely neglected but I knew I could save them.
This impatiens was started from a tiny seed the size of a poppy seed. Look at that baby grow! (The nights are already cooling off, so we're not getting too many new is almost done.)

The wave petunias have thrived. (Too bad last year's box hedge didn't make it through the winter; the new one looks so tiny in there!)

The petunias up the walkway look great. Now if I could just figure out what is going on with those along the front. I never did solve that issue (and it has gone on a few years now).

I think this might be the last hydrangea bloom. Thank goodness it is a beauty!

Don't tell the geraniums fall is coming...they haven't given me seeds yet!

There you have it, my Fertilizer Friday contribution. Head over to Tootsie's to see what everyone else had for Fertilizer Friday. You'll start planning next year's garden now!

Why I'm Leaving FaceBook and Why You Might Want To, As Well...

I got a phone this morning at 5:17 AM from someone who lives across the country. I don't know about you, but when the phone rings at 5:17 AM, I panic. Fortunately, it wasn't any of the horrible possibilities that flashed through my brain as my neural pathways were trying to fire, but it was a big deal. A stranger had hacked into my FaceBook account and when my "friend on FaceBook" logged into his own account, they opened a chat with him. They told him I'd been mugged at gunpoint and was stranded in a foreign country and desperately needed help. Fortunately, they chose the wrong chat victim, because this person knew better and called me immediately, even as he continued to chat with the fake me. Sure enough, I logged onto FaceBook and could see the very chat happening before my eyes! A quick search by Superman in the background and we discovered this is a known problem for FaceBook and it is ongoing. I deactivated my account, I sent an email to FaceBook, and I bid my friend good-bye and headed upstairs. Guess what? My FaceBook account was reactivated by someone other than me an hour ago. The scary thing? I'm rarely on FaceBook, so how long could this go on without me ever knowing about it? Has it happened to other "friends" on my FaceBook? I have no way of knowing.

FaceBook knows all about this scam, too. Apparently it is somehow linked to those quizzes, games, or other silly things you or your friends so. (You know: The part where it says you will allow FB to gather information about you and your friends if you continue. Even if you aren't the one who took the quiz, your friend could be doing it and that would give the hackers the access to you!) At this point, my FaceBook account is disabled...when their security department does its thing, I presume they will send me an offer to reactivate my account. Um, no thank you!

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't like social media enough to risk this kind of thing for myself or my "friends". I'm not willing to be hacked and I'm not willing to have my identity compromised for some casual fun. I don't want my "friends" contacted by someone posing as me and I don't want their kind hearts being taken advantage of. It is just not worth it.

So, I will always be grateful to FaceBook because it allowed me to connect with my long-lost sister, but from now on, if you want to chat with me, send me an email or give me a call. I'm done with FaceBook.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friday Delight - Harvest Pumpkin Brownies

Fall is here (Tuesday was the first day of Autumn, you know) and that means pumpkin goes into our baked goods. I love pumpkin things, so this is a fun time to bake. I got this recipe from my neighbor who made it a few weeks ago and I'm really glad I did. (Look, she forgot to put in the baking powder and baking soda and my kids still gobbled it up!) I made it with all the ingredients and Superman and the kids gave it a two thumbs up. I hope Superman's team likes it, too.

Harvest Pumpkin Brownies
from Mrs. R.


For the Cake:
1 can/16 oz. of pumpkin
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (I did half all-purpose/half whole wheat)
2 cups white sugar
1 Tablespoon pumpkin spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter (softened)
3 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioner's sugar


For Cake:
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.

In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla until well-mixed. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (mine took 30 minutes). Cool.

For Frosting:
Mix together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, milk and salt until smooth. Gradually add confectioner's sugar until you get a creamy consistency. Spread frosting on top of cake and serve.

I think the term "brownie" isn't quite accurate. It seems more like a dense cake to me. You can see just how moist it is from the picture, can't you? Regardless, it is amazing and you'll be glad you made it.

Happy Fall!

My Very Best Friend in the Whole World (Yes, I'm 6!) Called Me This Morning... instead of getting schooling and housework and crafts and projects done, I talked on the phone with her for 3 and a half hours! It was absolutely wonderful. I miss her as much today as I did the first day we drove away and it has been four years. We talked about children. (Her oldest headed off to college today! Trust me, if it hasn't happened to you, you have know idea how difficult it is. She's the one I called last year when Charming headed off.) Then we talked about husbands, decorating, housework, aging, churches and faith. (She is my absolute favorite person to talk about faith with because she is so open and honest.) It was so amazing to talk with her after such a long time. You'd never guess it had been months since we spoke. The best part, she knows me and loves me flaws and all. We don't gossip about anyone. She just makes my spirit soar!

Since I wasn't getting anything done, my amazing children decided to make breakfast for us all. (They miss Mrs. W and her family as much as I do. They also know just how much I miss her, so they went out of their way to NOT interrupt this phone call.) So, while I was chatting away, my sweet little kids did this!

Notice the flowers surrounding my bowl. Isn't that a wonderful touch? Truly I am so blessed. Thanks again for calling, K, I love you bunches and bunches.

(Sorry for the quality of the picture; it is difficult to hold a camera in one hand and a phone in the other! And now I must leave because I talked on the phone so long, I might be a bit late for an informational presentation for Buttercup's horseback riding lessons!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WIP Wednesday - Family Room Update

Well, if you remember from this post, we've been working on our family room since I came home from a camping trip in June inspired and energized. We quickly figured out it was a bigger job than we'd anticipated and so, here we are in September, still not quite done, but getting really close. Painting the room orange led the way, but getting all the furniture rearranged helped us see how we could use the room better.

Since then, I've been purging school supplies and craft supplies that I'm no longer using, as well as rehanging pictures and generally working to get the room feeling open. We still need to put in the flooring, but that can be done when outside work can't be done. We've also decided to remove the backing from the shelves so the orange walls will show through.

Still on list, but truly undecided, is new slipcovers for my Ikea couch and chair. JCaroline Home just introduced slipcovers for this chair and the Poang chair and is working on the Klippan slipcover, so I could definitely go with something bold. I really can't decide if I should go with something bold or if I should just get new, fresh (translation: cleaner) slipcovers in the same colors. I told you about some bold fabrics I bought to make pillows, but I think I'm going more modern than that (at least it is emerging that way). I really can't decide.

Here is the view from the door, looking into the room. The two big windows help keep this room full of natural light all day, but in winter, we close up those red blinds almost all the way, seal the windows with plastic, and get all cozy.

Here is the view from my desk, looking at the opposite corner and the kids desk. (They're cute little WIPs, too, aren't they?) The mirror over their desk is bold, but also helps keep light bouncing around the room. (See the backyard reflected in the television? That illustrates how much we feel like we're in a garden in this room.)

Finally, this is the view of my desk from the bookshelf side of the room. As you can see, I've set it up so I have a sewing side and computer side. I think it is working out really well, but we'll see how I make it through the Christmas season--fingers crossed. You can't really see them, but that is a picture I picked out myself when I was very little and some art that Superman made for me as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. I love them all. Oh, and the shiny thing? That is our personalized license plate from California. It says: NAGLE5.

So, imagine the room with the tile completed (and after the great flood of last December, we'll be keeping is impervious!) and the backs off the shelves and tell me, what would you do?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Awesome Surprises via the USPS

My terrific sister, LoveAphid, sent us all an early Halloween gift package. (She said she sent it early so we'd be able to enjoy it the entire Halloween season. Truly, I think she sent it early so I'd have to start decorating earlier than normal. It worked!) Two of the things she sent (for me - yay!) were these cool cat ornaments. My problem was what to do with them. I'd seen those cool spooky trees, but I've never bought one. Solution? "Hey, Superman, can we (that would mean you) get a tree branch and paint it black and then cut out a base for it so I can hang these awesome Halloween ornaments my little sister sent me?" As always, Superman was up for the challenge. So, what do you think?

I think it turned out so well, I'm already begging for a silvery tree branch for some small white and silver Christmas ornaments. Wouldn't that be terrific?... "Hey, Superman! Where are you going? Wait, come back...I need a favor..."

P.S. Thanks again, LA, I do so heart them!

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping

This recipe is all over the internet as it is originally from Bon Appetit, but I found it via Fake Ginger. It is kind of a cross between banana bread and coffee cake. I doubled the recipe (but the original recipe is below) and halved the sugar (with both sugar and honey, it just seemed like too much to me...everyone agreed it would have been quite sweet with more sugar...I'll keep it this way). So, if you're looking for a new recipe to try that is a little more dessert than banana bread, give this one a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping
from Bon Appetit


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (I only used 1/2 cup sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 medium)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x3-inch metal baking pan. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk next 5 ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients; stir to blend. Transfer batter to pan. Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and brown sugar; sprinkle over batter.
  • Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool bread in pan 30 minutes. Turn pan on its side; slide out bread, being careful not to dislodge topping. Turn bread right side up and cool completely.
Yes, another wonderful thing to do with bananas that have passed their prime.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Make It Yourself Monday (Tootsie Time Edition)

Well, we're having a "Monday" kind of Monday here at the Nagle5 house and I can't get focused on anything of a creative nature right now. It is Make It Yourself Monday, however, and ideas are bouncing around in my head. Since I can't get to them right now (I homeschool, remember?), I am happy to report that Tootsie of Tootsie Time is geared up and ready to go (actually, she was ready last night!) and has an awfully creative use of potpourri. Seriously. Now, if you're like me, you can't imagine "creative use" and "potpourri" in the same sentence, but I'm telling you, Tootsie made it work.

These natural candle wreaths could also go around a hurricane lamp or be the base for a small candy dish or nut bowl, couldn't they? I think I'd like them with a short, stocky candle. (Hey, Tootsie, I do have candles that should have had the cellophane removed a few years ago, too!) I do have some old potpourri that I'll be transforming this week, following the step-by-step tutorial Tootsie provided. What do you think? Wouldn't this be a neat gift with a candle that matched your friend's house? Wouldn't it be a cool addition to your own Fall decor? (Oops, did I just admit that I was thinking of making this for myself? No way!)

P.S. One of the things I have bouncing around is making up seed packets from some of your best annual color plants and gifting those to your friends and family who've not known where to start or don't/can't spend money on flowers. A few flower pots, some gardening gloves, and that would be a terrific gift. Want to know how to get the seeds from your own plants? Tootsie has PICTURES to show you how. HERE is her awesome tutorial!

Have no fear, Oliver is here!

Buttercup still has her pom-poms from her time taking cheer. They've always seemed pretty harmless to me.

I had no idea they posed a threat to the public safety.

Fortunately, Oliver is on top of the situation and is keeping them subdued.

Sometimes, however, they seem to fight back!

Then he has to sit on them.

(I know you all are resting easier knowing he's on the job.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Girls Gone Wild (the G-rated version!)

What happens when you have two bored girls, left-over cans of spray paint, and a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe that the American Girl dolls are no longer using?

Well, first they can't believe their parents said, "Okay!" They stand around look at the the car, trying to figure out what to do.

Then they get into it...suburban taggers in all their glory.

Not to be outdone, Valiant gets in on the action. Then they really get going, until all the spray paint is gone...

Viola! A new and improved Cozy Coupe... (Honestly, I can't say it is much of an improvement, but they had a blast and it is one way to get rid of your hazardous waste!)

Want to go for a ride?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's Pizza Time Again...

With Fall in the air, I don't mind turning the oven on in the late afternoon. That means it is pizza time again. We were so impressed with the dough I found for the calzones, that we decided to make pizzas using the same dough a few days later. Again, it turned out really well. Well enough that I thought I'd share it with you all.

Pizza Dough (Bread Machine)
Adapted from cdkitchen

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I added this - the original recipe doesn't call for it)
3 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast


Place ingredients in bread machine pan in order listed (or as directed per machine instructions). Select dough cycle. Makes two 12" regular crusts or one 16" deep dish crust. Top with desired toppings and bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until crust is light brown. (One of the comments on this recipe advised cooking the crust at 500 degrees for 5-6 minutes and then adding the toppings and baking again for a crisp crust pizza...we might try that next time.)

If you haven't tried to make your own pizza dough, I really urge you to try it. It really is so easy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

It is that time again, Friday Photo Flashback. Alicia at More Than Words reminds us to dig out our pre-digital photos and share them with the world.

Now that my scanner is hooked up again I can play this game, too. I dug through and found pictures from SeaWorld in San Diego. These were taken in spring of 1997. Superman had recently turned 30 and Valiant was just 1. He wanted to walk by himself!

He's was so taken with the Orcas. He couldn't get enough.

Look at how seriously he's focused. My little fuzzy melon!

The funny thing? He remembered that trip. Years later he threw a temper tantrum because he wanted to go to the "park with the fishes" and we had no idea what he was talking about. None of our local parks seemed to fit the bill and he was very frustrated with us. We headed back to Sea World when Buttercup was a few months old and he was roughly 3 1/2 and he said, "See?! I love the park with the fishes!" Mystery solved.

For more Friday Photo Flashback's, head over to Alicia's at More Than Words and join the party.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


As Autumn approaches, the chill in the evening air encourages me to turn on my oven again. I've been wanting to make Calzones for the longest time. Well, we finally made them last weekend and I must admit, they turned out really well. Sadly, my children called them Pizza Pockets and Hot Pockets because they've never seen them anywhere else! I tried a new pizza dough recipe for the calzones and liked it enough that later in the week we made pizzas out of it (which I'll share with you next). Want to make your own calzones? Here's how.

You'll need the following:

Pizza dough (make your own or buy uncooked dough)
Tomato sauce (I used Prego.)
Grated Cheeses (Cheddar, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Provolone)
Pizza Toppings (we used only pepperoni for this first try, but next time, the sky's the limit)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Roll out your pizza dough into 7" or 8" circles. I like mine thinner, Superman likes his thicker for a breadier calzone.

On one half of the circle, spread the sauce with the back of a spoon. How much you use depends on your taste. Again I only like a little sauce and Superman and Valiant like a lot of sauce.

Then add your toppings to the area you sauced: Cheese, pepperoni, etc.

Fold over your dough and roll the edges a bit to seal them.

Beat one egg and, using a pastry brush, do an egg wash on each calzone. That is what gives you the nice golden brown crust.

Bake for roughly 25 minutes, but check your calzones after about 15 minutes to guage their doneness. Remember, you want the insides to get bubbly hot and the outsides to get nice and golden brown.

When they're done, pull them out of the oven and serve. These were really, really good and I urge you to give them a try.

That's it! That is all it takes to make calzones. So, if you're like me, you'll be saying, "Why didn't I try this sooner?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday wanderings...

I have a little bit to say, none of it important, so feel free to skim to anything you might find interesting. (This is definitely the "random musings" part of the blog!)

How is it that our share of a filling for a 13-year old is going to end up being $135...that's our share?! With insurance?! What did they use to fill his tooth? Crazy.

I cried when I saw Whitney Houston sing on Oprah. (I NEVER watch the Oprah show these days--she's really annoying. Superman actually had to hook up the cable for me because I wanted to watch these episodes and Biggest Loser was starting up again.) Anyway, so many amazing talents fall to the wayside with drugs and alcohol, when I heard Whitney had left her husband and was cleaning up, I was really rooting for her. Whitney Houston had an amazing voice...truly amazing. Then her personal life careened out of control. I can't even imagine what life is like when your every mistake is splashed across the tabloids, can you? I don't know if she'll stay clean and sober (I'm not sure I even believed her when she said she wasn't using drugs), but I am rooting for her. What can I say? I'm a sap.

This song feels like her old stuff. I don't know if I like it, but it is upbeat and she sounds good. The kids said they liked the beat.

Look at what we got yesterday evening! How did I get lucky enough to have neighbors who share such bounty? Aren't those tiny yellow tomatoes so cool? I'm just so excited.

Finally, the Biggest Loser Season 8 started last night. One of the contestants was a woman who lost her entire family two and a half years ago: her husband, her 5 year old daughter and her 2 and 1/2 week old son were all killed in a car accident. How do you go on from that? As she put it, every role in her life disappeared that day. Humbling.

Best lines from the Biggest Loser last night? Jillian to a young man: "Let go of the treadmill! Haven't you ever watched the show?!" and, again, Jillian to a 40-year old man: "There is no crying in tractor tires!"

Random, I know...have a good evening.

WIP Wednesday...

Guest Room/Gym - It's not done, but it certainly is ready to accommodate guests and a little bit of cardio. What do you think? Any takers?

The bed is ready to go...although the throw pillows aren't quite right. (Ignore the black towel on the bed. The cats have already begun enjoying the bed.)

The desk looks cute. I bought that lamp at a "clearance, clearance" price because I loved it ($10, I think.) It took me two years to find a way to use it.

This little guy will get hung in the corner next to the bed. (I had the bird and a friend was throwing away what she thought was a plant hanger- which we painted black and we combined them.)

Oh, the cost? $22 for new pillows. That's it! Everything else is stuff we had in our basement storage area. Not bad, eh? I really think it looks welcoming.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Make It Yourself Monday (Tuesday Edition)

Sorry about missing the day...I had this post as a draft, but it needed a few tweaks before posting. However, Valiant needed me more yesterday. So, here I am with another Make It Yourself Monday post - the Tuesday Edition.

I saw this post at Can't Stop Making Things and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Look at this "Message Tile" Gail made. She was even kind enough to give a tutorial here. I was intrigued, but I couldn't see a need to for "message tile" at my house. Maybe Superman's team would like them? Hmmm...
Then, Buttercup came home from Mrs. M's house with this little treasure and I knew it was meant to be. When Mrs. M came up with this project, she had the kids add feet to their tiles, so they can be used on furniture without fear of thinking, Mrs. M! Buttercup featured her hamster, Biscuit, on her tile and wrote her own name across the top (which I then obscured for this post)...I think it is super cute.

So, whether you think you need a "Message Tile" or a hot drink trivet or maybe a special paperweight, this is definitely a do-able gift idea. Emergency numbers just sitting on the counter for the kids or the babysitter. Drawings by each child creating a set of hot drink trivets as a gift for relatives. Team logos for a sports fan. The possibilities are endless and my mind is whirring.

So, what do you think?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I think Superman is working too hard. What do you think?

Notice the piece of trim on the arm of the chair! He fell asleep in the middle of a project.

Sorry for the poor quality of the picture, I was far away and didn't want to wake him with the camera. My poor super-hero threw his back out day before yesterday and he hasn't been sleeping well. (Of course, he could have just taken it easy today, but that wouldn't work for him.)

Snickerdoodles for Friday Delight!

When I was a little girl, I loved Snickerdoodles. My mom never made them at home, so I thought you had to get them at a bakery. They were a special treat. Now that I'm the mom, I'm discovering so many of those special treats are things I can make at home, so I do. This Snickerdoodle recipe is quick and easy, as long as you remember to allow at least 1 hour for the dough to chill before baking. (Since I was thinking on Wednesday, what I'd be making for Superman to take for Friday Delight, I remembered to allow the time to chill the dough.) I have no idea where I got the recipe, but it is definitely a keeper. (If you recognize it and know where it originally came from, please let me know.)


1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened (I used salted)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. In a medium sized bowl, beat the butter for about 30 seconds on medium speed. Add the sugar, baking soda and cream of tartar, beating until well mixed. Slowly beat in the egg and vanilla until well incorporated. Beat in the flour 1/2 C at a time.

2. When all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 375.

4. In a bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Take enough dough to shape into 1" balls. (I used my Pampered Chef medium scooper.)

5. Roll each ball in the sugar cinnamon mixture and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cook for approximately 10 minutes.

Cool and serve!

The kids loved them, Superman's colleagues seemed to like them, so I'd say they were a hit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

This is my Friday Photo Flashback today. It is not about me, it is about us. All of us. On the West Coast, I was getting my children ready for school when I turned on the television and watched in real time, the destruction of the World Trade Center. Watched in horror as our world changed forever. Worried desperately about friends and relatives who lived and worked in NYC. Realized, with numb acceptance that my children were going to grow up in a world completely different from the one I was privileged enough to grow up in. For them, the threats weren't the vague threats posed by Cold War combatants. No, for them the threat is real and scary and unending.

Never forget...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cream Puffs

While I was busy with the kids' curriculum and helping Charming, Superman took over dessert duties, both for Friday night and Game Night. Remember Superman is the only one who knew how to cook when we got married, so the man can cook.

When he asked me what I wanted for dessert Friday night, I said, "Beignets!" But then I said, "Okay, not beignets. I know you need the fryer for that and all that oil is a pain. Surprise me!" (Ask LoveAphid, she was on Skype with me during this conversation.) Anyway, he came back with Cream Puffs! Close to Beignets, but without the frying. How cool was that? We all liked them so much that he made them again for Game Night, a which point I whipped out the camera and informed him, "You are now a blog post!"

So, without further ado, here is a picture of the Cream Puffs that Superman made! (Don't they look yummy?)

I like mine plain (without chocolate and filling), so I nabbed some before he finished them and just sprinkled powdered sugar on them.

Want to make some of your own? He just pulled the recipe from and you can do the same thing...or you can just keep reading because I hate being told I have to click for a recipe...I'm lazy that way.

Cream Puffs from

1/2 c. butter
1 c. boiling water
1 c. pre-sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs
Put butter and water in small saucepan; stir over high heat until melted and liquid is boiling rapidly. Add flour and salt at once; raise saucepan a few inches above heat. Stir briskly. Mixture will come away from sides of pan and form a ball in center.

Cook and stir 30 seconds more. Remove from heat. Break 1 egg into the paste; beat fast until smooth and fluffy. Repeat until all the eggs are used.

Drop by whatever size you want (1/4 cup) onto ungreased cookie sheet 3 inches apart. (Superman used the ice cream scooper and prefers to use parchment paper.) Bake at 350 degrees until puffed and golden 35-40 minutes. Cool away from drafts. Cut off tops and fill with filling or ice cream.

Don't forget the Pastry Cream!

Pastry Cream from

1/3 c. sugar
2 c. milk
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

Mix sugar, cornstarch and eggs in 2-quart saucepan. Stir in milk gradually. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool and fill cream puffs. (Superman says you'll get the best results if you let the cream chill for a long time - 2 plus hours.)

Finally, we (yes, I was part of it on Saturday evening) melted chocolate chips (because we didn't have Baker's Chocolate) and drizzled it on the cream puff and then sprinkled powdered sugar over the entire thing.

I think Superman should make dessert more often, what do you think?