Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Halloween Potato Stamping

Yesterday the boys had a lot of Halloween inspired fun with some potato stamps I carved up.  I have been wanting to try potato stamps with them for a while since they seem to enjoy stamping even more then finger-painting. They are surprisingly fastidious little guys when it comes to getting their hands dirty.

So I'm sure I saw this idea somewhere on the great wide web but since it was such a simple idea I didnt "pin" it or anything so I hope I'm not stepping on anyone's toes.  Potato stamps are inexpensive and easy to make and the big potatoes are a nice size for chubby toddler hands.

To make your stamps simply cut the potaoe in half across the middle. Draw a (fairly simple) shape on the surface then cut away the potato around the outside of your shape.  Cut about a quarter inch deep so you have a nice raised surface for your stamp.

Each potato makes two stamps so I made one a regular pumpkin and one a jack o lantern.  I gave each boy a large piece of paper, a stamp and a paper plate with a bit of orange paint.  As with all painting projects, I strap the boys into their boosters and cover the kitchen table with an old bed sheet to contain the mess.

My guys loved the stamping and their pumpkins came out really well!  The trick is not putting too much paint in the plate, you only need a little to make nice prints.

Halloween has never been a favorite holiday of mine but it is easy to get in the spirit of fun while doing little projects with these guys.  I've even managed to find an Orchard in Las Vegas so I'm looking forward to picking apples and pumpkins soon too.  So many fun ways to celebrate fall.  I hope you are making the most of it too!

This post is linked to:
Artsy Play Wednesday with Capri +3

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's almost time for a Party!

Hard to believe, but the twins will be 2 years old on Friday. They are such great little boys and full of energy and fun these days.  We are really looking forward to throwing a little party for them on Sunday.  Two sets of Grandparents will be there (they have 3) and a couple of their friends.  We'll have two three-year-olds, a four year old and the birthday boys.  6 toddlers/preschoolers should make for a great time I'm sure! :)

Since the boys are young, and really still don't understand what a birthday even is, we won't be in full out party mode.  We asked that no one bring gifts and we won't be doing favors or party games but we will be eating some good food (and cake!) and playing our hearts out.

The party theme is Thomas the Train. The boys love all things transportation, especially Aaron, and they were so lucky to receive an enormous amount of trains and tracks and etc from their older nephews.  We'll have a train table (or two!) set up for the kids to play with indoors and for the rough and tumble outdoor crowd (that would be Alex) there will be a bounce house that we got them for their birthday. I am super excited about that bounce house because I am really hoping some bounce sessions will burn up some of the excess energy around here on a daily basis. :)

So here's a little of what I'm planning:

A few store-bought Thomas decorations and some fun straw cups

A "Mommy-made" Happy Birthday train banner

And, hopefully, some appliqued Thomas the Train "2" shirts for the boys

I say hopefully because although I've cut out my "twos" and added fusible web and pinned them to the shirts...I can not seem to get them sewed on.  I've got some backup coming over tonight to help me try to sort through my sewing machine issues but let's just say that just because you bought a sewing machine two months doesn't make you a seamstress, sigh.  I've got a long way to go on that.

Here is my cake inspiration from Pinterest....unfortunately the link to the original photo is broken.

I'm obviously going with a 2 shape, though I may not cut the cake into a two if I feel like we need the extra cake for eating. I may just do the train tracks in a two shape on the full sized rectangular cake, but I'm really just not sure yet.

So!  That is what I'm up to this week.  I'll be sure to share pictures of our little party next week along with recipes from our menu.  I am going to use this recipe from Pioneer Woman for the cake, I sure hope it comes out!

Party stuff aside it should be a really fun weekend filled with friends and family celebrating two special little guys who have made our life really wonderful these past two crazy years.  :)

This post is linked to Multiples Monday over on Capri +3

multiples monday with capri +3

Friday, September 21, 2012

Crocheted Pumpkins

Well despite the fact that temperatures are still in the 90's (upper 90's), the Pears' household is officially moving into fall.  You can tell the official season change by the changing of the seasonal wreath on the (inside) front door.  I whipped this simple one up in 30 minutes!

(foam wreath form wrapped in bulky brown yarn with a pumpkin "spray" twisted around it)

I only have a few other fall decorations gracing the house so far, but a trip to Hobby Lobby has been scheduled, woo hoo!

The other night, though, I decided that what I needed were a few crocheted pumpkins.  Of course, right?  Not a ton of options on Pinterest but I found this really great and really easy pattern and churned out three of the little babies immediately for a small coffee table centerpiece.

Could a crocheted vegetable get any cuter????

To make your own festive softie squash, click on over to this pattern at hip2thrift.  The smaller two pumpkins I made according to the pattern and they measure about 1 1/2 inches tall and 3 inches wide. For the larger of the mini-pumpkins I used an H hook and increased an additional time on round 6 so that my largest row was 36 sc around.  I repeated that 36 sc row 7 times rather than 5.  That pumpkin measures about 2 1/2 inches tall (not including the stem) and 4 inches wide.

Tomorrow I'm headed to the farmer's market to look for some pumpkins of the edible variety, so check back in next week for some great pumpkin recipes!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Salted Caramel Brownies

So about those brownies I mentioned on Monday....  They were awesome.

Last August (like 2011!) I mentioned in a post that I had been attempting various homemade brownie recipes without success.  I was/am shocked by just how difficult making a pan of chocolately chewy and moist brownies can be!  Luckily this recipe makes it much much easier.

Apparently Ina Garten is putting out a new cookbook (yay!) and this is a recipe from it.  On the basis of these brownies alone, I'm thinking I need a new cookbook. :)  The book is called  Foolproof and it is out October 30.  (No one paid me to promote fact if anyone wants to send me this book feel free!)

Brownies are just one of those irresistible type of desserts.  Dense moist chocolate.  Gooey when warm.  Yum.  These are all that plus caramel and sea salt, gah!  I love the combination of salt and so good.

Salted Caramel Brownies, from Ina Garten's Foolproof
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
14 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 extra-large eggs (or 4 large)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5-6 oz caramel sauce
2-3 teaspoons flaked sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

In a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the butter, 8 oz of the chips and the unsweetened chocolate.  Once melted and combined, remove the glass bowl from the heat and allow it to cool for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl stir together the eggs, coffee, sugar and vanilla.  Once the chocolate has cooled 15 minutes, stir that in as well.  Let stand an additional 15 minutes to bring to room temperature.

Meanwhile in a small bowl mix together the 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder and kosher salt.  Mix this into the room temperature chocolate mixture.  Now put the remaining flour into the small bowl with the remaining chips and toss to coat.  Stir the chips into the batter.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Once the brownies are out of the oven, pour over the caramel sauce and sprinkle on the salt.  (If your sauce is hard to pour heat it in the microwave for a few seconds) Cool completely and Enjoy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Monday

Oh boy.  I've been busy busy lately.  Again with lots of doing and not a lot of documenting, sorry.  We had a couple of great meals last week but I never took a single photo!  I've got to get back in my bloggy groove.

Here's a little peek of what's on our menu for this week, some of our old favorites and a couple of new ones that look pretty great.  (I'll be sure to share if they turn out amazing!)

Monday: Pineapple Fried Rice   I typically make this with shrimp and a bit of bacon but this time we are doing sausage.  I love the sweetness of the fresh pineapple and it is such an easy recipe.  The kids love sausage so I'm thinking this variation is going to be a huge hit with them.

Tuesday: Quinoa and Bean Pilaf  This is a new vegetarian recipe I found in this month's Food Network Magazine....only 394 calories and it looks so yummy!

Wednesday: Pad Thai  My MIL picked this one out.  Mr Pears loooves pad thai and I love that this new vegetarian recipe is full of veggies.  We are going without a few items like the baby corn but adding in some spicy sprouts.  I'm looking forward to that one for sure.

Thursday:  Shrimp Pasta with Chili and Lime   Another quick and easy favorite.  This pasta dish is light and very flavorful but only includes a handful of ingredients.  And it only takes 15 minutes to make!  You can not beat that.

Friday:  Take Out/Dine Out

We've recently begun taking the boys out for dinner on Fridays.  Sometimes we do carry out but we try to do dine-in family friendly places most weeks so the boys get some experience in restaurants and so we get a night off from cooking and dishes.  Of course taking them out to dinner is not exactly a relaxing experience.  This past Friday we went for pizza at a local place and just as it arrived one of my boys threw up about 12 ounces of milk, curdled of course.  He wasn't sick, he just drank a cup and a half of milk in 3.2 seconds which was apparently more than his little tummy could handle.  It was somewhat horrifying (and very smelly) and the pizza was promptly packed up to take home.  Luckily the cold pizza was delicious later with an even colder beer but I am hoping this week goes a little better.  It has to though, right?

Anyway, I'll try my best to do some documenting this week.  (My MIL is going to be making some brownies that sound blog-worthy, I'll keep you posted on those too.)  In the mean time, happy Monday!

This post is linked to:

 multiples monday with capri +3

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crocheted Monster Hats

I am on quite a crocheting kick right now.  I really enjoy it; it is relaxing and so rewarding when you have something completed.  I really wish I had learned while I was pregnant with the boys; those little guys would have had an entire crocheted wardrobe.

Last year for Halloween I knew we wouldn't take the boys trick or treating so I didn't want to spend a ton on a Halloween costume used mainly for photo ops.  I finally decided on buying them Bert and Ernie hats I found on Etsy.

Soooo cute, right?  "Halloween" costumes and a winter hat all in one!

This year we are going to at least take the kids to a few houses and a festival or two so I decided we'd do real costumes....but I also decided that I'd make them their winter hats myself.

I found a really cute pattern for monster hats and so this winter my little monsters will truly look like little monsters.

Here are my finished products

I used this free pattern from The Boy Trifecta, with a few minor changes.  Each hat is a bit smaller than the pattern (and one hat is smaller than the other to fit my very un-identical twins).  I made the eye a bit smaller too.  The pattern was really easy to follow and modify even for a beginner like me.  I am really happy with them!

Now if only I can get the boys to wear them!  :)

This post is linked to:

multiples monday with capri +3

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

There was a bit of a sweet tooth attack here last night.  I love eating healthy meals but I love sweets too and I don't think those two things contradict each other.  It seems to me that if you are eating healthy, low calorie meals a small dessert is more than ok.  Especially if the sweets are homemade with whole ingredients and not just processed junk.

Sometimes that processed stuff (oreos how I love you!) can be so appealling and they are oh so easy.  But then again, making something from scratch doesn't have to be hard either.  As I mentioned the sweet tooth struck last night but there was no dessert!  Ah!  It also so happens that since it was Thursday (and we grocery shop on Saturday)  there was almost nothing left  in the house that was up for grabs.  We did have one last lemon though, and it turned out that was all I needed to whip up a batch of these amazing lemon crinkle cookies.  I have a thing for crinkle cookies, they are so soft and chewy on the inside...yum.  Last Christmas I posted a recipe for some Butterscotch Crinkle Cookies that also happened to be a last minute pantry raid.  Delicious.

Anyway, these cookies mix up quickly and you really only need a few pantry staples and a lemon.  They are lemony and lightly sweet and they are sort of addictive so watch out!  The recipe only makes about 2 dozen 2 inch cookies so if you are feeding a crowd you may want to double this.   Homemade cookies in under half an hour....and they really are better than oreos. :)  Enjoy!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies, from lauren's latest
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray or line the trays with silicon baking mats.

In the mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Once it is light and fluffy add the egg and vanilla and mix until they are well incorporated.  In a small bowl mix together the remaining ingredients with the exception of the powdered sugar.  Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time to the wet and mix just until combined.

Put the powdered sugar on a small plate.  Scoop scant tablespoons of dough and roll them into balls and then roll the balls in the powdered sugar.  Place them on the prepared sheet pans.

Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes or until the tops are set and no longer look wet or shiny.   Remove them to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Foam Shape Fun

Thankfully not only has September brought us pumpkins, but it has brought us some cooler weather too.  100 F is a huge improvement over 105+!  Especially considering the children.  Just a few degrees cooler and they are playing outside much more again.  Over the weekend we played with sidewalk chalk and bubbles, and today I brought our foam shapes back out from the bathroom.

I bought some foam rectangles from the dollar store last spring and cut them into various shapes for the babies to play with on the sliding glass patio door.  They love spraying the door down with water and then sticking the shapes all over but by June the sliding glass door was too hot to touch.  This morning, however, it was nice and cool. The kids played outside for a long while and they enjoyed playing with their shapes (and spray bottle) again. I named colors and shapes and the boys are getting good at picking out the different shapes and colors when I ask. We've been playing with our foam shapes in the bath tub (they stick great in the wet tub) but it is so nice to be able to bring some of our indoor activities outdoors again.

Aaron getting our "work surface" ready

Alex carefully placing his shapes

This posted is linked to Capri +3, go check out all the other great play ideas!

Artsy Play Wednesday with Capri +3

Monday, September 3, 2012

Starbucks' Pumpkin Scones

Happy September!  And Happy Labor Day, too. It may be 100+ degrees here but my Mother-In-Law and I decided it was close enough to fall to try a recipe for Pumpkin the ones from Starbucks.  Even the lack of canned pumpkin puree at Whole Foods wasn't enough to deter us, we went all out and pureed our first sugar pumpkin of the year.

I've never had a pumpkin scone from Starbucks and, in fact, I can't remember the last time I had any kind of scone but my these were delicious.  They have a glazed crust on the outside and the cakes are nice and soft on the inside. They are not overly sweet and slightly spicy in that fall kind of way.  Nutmeg and cloves, yum.

Starbucks' Pumpkin Scones, adapted from the recipe found at MomsWhoThink
makes 6 large scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), cubed
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 large egg

Sugar glaze:
1 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Spice glaze:
1 cup + 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Grease a sheet pan or line it with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients for the scones.  Pour that into the food processor and then add cubed cold butter.  Pulse the machine until the butter is cut in and crumbly.  Transfer the contents of the processor back to the bowl.

In a smaller bowl whisk the wet ingredients for the scones together.  Add them to the dry and then mix to combine.

Flour the counter-top and then turn out the dough and shape it into a rectangle about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide.  (It should be about 1 inch high)  Cut the dough into three equal portions and then cut each portion diagonally to make six triangular scones.  (Use a floured knife or pastry cutter)

Put the scones on the prepared sheet pan and then bake them for 14-16 minutes or until they are a light golden brown.  Transfer the baked scones to a wire rack and cool completely.

Whisk up the ingredients for the sugar glaze and then brush it on to the tops of the cooled scones.  Let the glaze dry and harden.  Meanwhile mix up the spice glaze.  When the sugar glaze is set, drizzle the spice glaze over and serve.

**Note, I did not use nearly the amount of the sugar glaze this recipe made so instead of making the spice glaze from scratch I just added some more powdered sugar to the remaining sugar glaze to thicken it and then added the spices called for.  I thought that was plenty of glaze. :)

Like I said, I've never had a pumpkin scone from Starbucks but my Mother-In-Law says these definitely measure up.  I just think they are a delicious first taste of fall.  Enjoy!