Tres Leches Cake

Delicious for any occasion

Homemade Watercolors

For homeschoolers, or just fun at home

DIY Toothpaste

Great for good health, and a happy pocketbook

Vegetarian Meals for the Whole Family

Even picky kids will love these meat-less dishes

Sewing Projects and Tips

Even more tutorials to come soon

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I LOVE This Stuff!

I had read somewhere about people using Bar Keeper's Friend on their pots and pans that were getting old, or had some "heat damage" and wondered how well it would work on my cleaning nemesis.
My electric stove's drip pans.
I have tried EVERYTHING on those, but they never seem to get shiny again. It wasn't just the grease and gunk that stained them, but the heat of cooking that made them look grimy. Living in a rental, I was prepared to buy new drip pans to replace ours when we moved- or be charged more to have them replaced. Seems kind of sucky when the simple act of cooking is the biggest problem with their appearance. So, seeing as the Bar Keeper's Friend was cheap, easy to find, and promised great results, I gave it a try.

I grabbed a washed, but still sad looking drip pan. Wet it and gave it a sprinkling of Bar Keeper's Friend.
BEFORE- clean, but not  
I let it sit for a few minutes, then grabbed a half a steel wool pad. I braced myself for a lot of scrubbing. I didn't need to. There was scrubbing, but not SCRUBBING like I had expected. It. Was. Awesome.
A quick rinse, and I was showing everyone in the house my shiny beautiful drip pan. They were not as excited as I was.
AFTER- I heard choirs of angels 
I LOVE this stuff!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Homemade Fun: Play Dough

Summer! We all need activities to keep the kids busy when we're this far into summer vacation. Here is the first of a few homemade supplies/activities to keep us going.
This play dough recipe is the EASIEST. And to make things even easier, I used the steaming hot water I keep on hand for tea, so my oldest can make this for the littler ones!

You will need:
  • 1 C flour
  • 1/2 C salt
  • 1 pack of flavored drink mix (the kind without sugar!)
Mix these thoroughly into a large bowl. Then add:
  • 3 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 C boiling water
Mix and mix until your dough forms a ball and begins to cool. When  cool enough to handle, knead until cool and cohesive. 
Strawberry makes the prettiest pink!
Keep in a zippered plastic bag or plastic container.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Easiest Bread- No Knead

This bread is tasty, requires minimal effort, and is so easy my kids can do it. Seriously. All you need is a little planning because it takes time to slowly rise into delicious perfection.

It goes so quick and easily I didn't even get to take any pictures of the process...but you don't need them!

Non-ingredients you will need:
  • mixing bowl
  • a dutch oven or heavy casserole with a lid. (I use my camping cast iron dutch oven)
  • a bit of parchment paper

About 18-24 hours before you want to serve your bread, dump into a mixing bowl:
  • 3 cups of flour (most recipes call for bread flour, but I find a nice, fluffy AP flour works just as well. I prefer Blue Bird.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast (most recipes call for 1/4...but I like it with 1/2, and it's my bread, so nah nah nah nah.)
  • 1 1/2 c water will look like a shaggy, horrible mess. It will! It is SO-ooooo OK! cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 18-24 hours.

When you go back, it will look spongy, light and wet. Lightly flour your hands and surface, and gently form your mess of dough into a round loaf-ish shape. Set on some parchment paper and let rise for 30-45 minutes.
While your dough is rising, preheat your oven to 450, with your dutch oven inside. Let it heat the whole 2nd rising time so it gets piping hot.
Grab your dough filled parchment by the corners, and pop into your dutch oven. It doesn't have to look perfect- this is a very rustic loaf.
Bake for about 45-50 minutes with the lid on, then 15-20 with it off. Let cool on a rack.
Enjoy your super crusty outside, tender lovely inside. This bread is perfect for bruschetta and soup. And also for munching on way too much of it while you make dinner. Seriously. I may die of bread over-dose.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Easy DIY Gel Potpourri

Gel potpourri, it's not cheap. There are recipes all over the internet that use unflavored gelatine to make lovely gel air fresheners using recycled home glass on the cheap. But, as these evaporate and release their fragrance into the air, they start to shrink, and start looking rubbery and well- not so pretty anymore.
Here is a great way to make a home air freshener CHEAPLY, recycle pretty glass containers, and use your favorite liquid potpourri with out a flame.

You will need:
  • Some liquid potpourri (anywhere from $1-3, I've even gotten it on clearance for .50 before)
  • Some water absorbing crystals. (Found online and in most craft stores. I recommend getting them online from feeding-insect suppliers. Cheaper.)
  • A pretty little glass jar. (I recycle my Glade candle jars for home purposes.)
Read the directions on your crystals. This bag I have (.99 for enough dry crystals to make a gallon wet.) says to use 1 tsp for 8 oz of liquid. I used 1/2 tsp in my jar.
Then, I poured in about 4 oz of my liquid potpourri. (I eyeballed it.)

Mmmmm...that looks delicious...I'd better make sure no one drinks it while it has it's 30 minute rest!
Plastic wrap over the top, a firm "DO NOT DRINK!" That should do it!
A-half-hour later, a lovely home fragrance.
The best the crystals start to dry out- you just add a splash of liquid potpourri and they are revived! As beautiful as ever!
& I think I may need to remove some tea lights from some in-use jars and get some more made!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I am One of Zach's Friends

Two months ago, my sweet friend, Melissa, lost her son.

On April 8th, 2011 our lives were forever changed when we lost our beloved son, Zachary.
Zachary was a funny, energetic, loving son...who also battled depression.
On April 8th Zachary ended his life. 
While no one likes to talk about suicide, it's time we start talking and raising awareness.  By educating ourselves and others we can start to recognize the warning signs and what we can do to help someone in need. 
According to the CDC a life is lost to suicide every 15 minutes, that's approximately 95 lives EACH DAY!  That statistic is astounding and is reason enough to start talking.  We need to equip ourselves and our children with the right resources to help others.
Like most families walking the same path we are, we had no clue our son was going to end his life that day, however, we refuse to stay silent.  We want to do everything we can to raise awareness.
In our efforts to raise awareness we had Friend of Zach bracelets created to help raise awareness about suicide prevention. 
While we are not professionals, we hope that our story and our ambition to help others will be contagious and that people will wear their bracelets not only as a reminder of a wonderful young man who's life was cut too short, but a reminder that we can make a difference. 
We can make a difference!
A common misconception is that "If I talk about suicide to my kids then I'll give them the idea to do it."  That is simply not true.  Suicide is portrayed in movies, on TV, and in the's better for you to educate them rather than their friends or television. 
We MUST talk to our kids about this...if for no other reason, so they know what to do if a situation arises with one of their friends.
In the weeks since our son passed we have handed out (at no charge to students, parents and communities) over 1,000 bracelets with daily requests for more.
Your help is sincerely appreciated! 
Melissa Jones (Zach's Mom)
As her friend, I am heartbroken. As a mother, I am heartbroken. As a survivor, I am touched and in awe of the strength his mother has to carry on- and start a foundation to help others in need.
Melissa also has bracelets, Zachlets, that she was kind enough to send every member of my family. In our family it has always been important to be honest with our children as a means to educate. Education is the BEST prevention.
BFTECosmetics has also started a new way to show support of their favorite causes. Beautiful Beneficence will give 50% of the sales of the Zach's Friends colors to, and the buyer will receive a Zachlet. As the best friend of Melissa, this cause, and Zach, are very very dear to the BFTE heart.

Please take time to check out Pass it along. You never know would could benefit from some education, or a kind word.
You can also check out the BFTE Zach's Friends colors and show your support with some beautiful colors. "Erase the Stigma" and "Zach's Friend".

Friday, June 3, 2011

Making a Potty Training Bribe Better

Potty training #3 is HARD. She has got to be the most stubborn child ever, we seem to have tried everything. I've finally broken down and tried bribing. I read somewhere about having a small container of small candies in the bathroom as rewards, what to put in there was a tough decision. People suggested M&Ms or Skittles because of their small size, but I didn't really feel comfortable in having unwrapped candies in the bathroom. So, I finally settled on tiny, wrapped packs of Sixlets.
While holding the pack to show her what'd she could get after using the potty, we came up with a few great ways to use them while waiting! They were a great distraction from her bored-wanting-to-get-off-the-potty-ness!
First, we counted the candies in the pack. Fun! Then, we named the colors in the pack. Super! Then, a little more difficult for her, and a great teaching tool, we counted how many of each color in the pack. Brilliant! She's had so much fun she's doing this with other things around the house! "There are 2 yellows. There is 1 blue." Now I can feel a little less guilty about bribing her! ;-)