All we need is love

All we need is love
All we need is love

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cole's Bionicle Blog

Did I tell you Cole has been bitten by the blog bug? I know I mentioned it in a previous post, but he has since changed his blog address. He decided to make it solely about Bionicles- a Lego toy that he has loved and played with since he was a pre-schooler.

Well, his blog is up and running and I know he'd love it if you would check it out and maybe even leave a comment! Forward the address on to any boys that you know who like Legos as well. He does a great job explaining about each of the characters- he is very knowledgeable! 

Check it out!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Non-Alcoholic Watermelon Coolers

For Sunday dinner this week, we had a few extra guests to enjoy the day with, including 2 teenage friends of the cousins, so I thought it would be a perfect time to whip up a batch of non-alcoholic Watermelon Coolers for the girls.
As you may have noticed from some of my most recent posts such as the one about Watermelon cookies, and a watermelon cocktail I featured called a Sparkletini, you might say that I'm on a bit of a watermelon kick! Well, they are in season right now, which means they are inexpensive and taste at their peak. Afterall, when life gives you lemons. . . .
Since I was already making some Sparkletinis for my adult family members and guests, I chopped up another quarter watermelon and made these coolers for Lexi, Alissa, Miranda, Tylie and Samantha. I also made one for my sister Jo-Lynn who is currently avoiding processed sugar since the only sweetner in this recipe is the watermelon itself.

Watermelon Coolers (AKA Blended Watermelon Lemonade)

3 cups of watermelon, cut up (about 1/4 of a small melon)
2 cups of ice
1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1/4-1/2 cup of other juice (I use pineapple)

Place all your ingredients in a blender and blend away! Serve with a watermelon and citrus garnish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

KFC Coleslaw Recipe

One of my favorite things to get at KFC is the coleslaw. Nobody makes it like they do. . . . until now. Well, I'm sounding so dramatic, but really- I've had this recipe for a couple of years. The flavor really is spot on. It does call for a couple of ingredients you may not usually have around the house- like cabbage and buttermilk. But it's definitely worth the trip to the store.! Delicious!

KFC's Coleslaw 

1 head of green cabbage, shredded
1 small onion, shredded
4-6 carrots, shredded
1 cup mayonaise
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (black pepper works okay too)

If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, this recipe takes all of 5 minutes to make. If you only have access to a hand grater, it may take a bit longer. . . .  just watch those fingers!

This is a hard one. . .  ready for it???? Mix all of these ingredients in a large bowl and serve! Amazing!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lime Meltaways

This is an old recipe of mine from who-knows-where. It's one of those that you enjoy so much that you had to write it on an index card to save it but then forgot the original source- 
you know what I mean?? 

I have made these on and off for years during the summer months. This tangy, light, crisp, melt-in-your-mouth cookie is a perfect confection for this time of year. They required only a few ingredients and are fairly simple to make. . . especially if you have a cookie gun.

This is another slice-and-bake cookie like the watermelon ones featured yesterday, which makes the process simple to turn out a bunch at a time with little effort. Let me show you how I have perfected the slice and bake process. But first, here's the recipe.

Lime Meltaways

3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
zest of 2 limes
3 Tablespoons lime juice
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl, add the lime zest and juice until fully incorporated. Mix in the remainder of the ingredients.

Once you have made the dough, place it in the barrel of a cookie gun, without the trigger attached. Make sure there is a solid plate in one end. Be sure to tap the barrel against the counter to release any air bubbles in the dough and ensure that you are packing it in tightly. Then cover the dough-filled barrel with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least a few hours so that the dough hardens. 

You can store this in the refrigerator indefinitely until you are ready to slice-and-bake, making these a great cookie to prep in advance and have on hand for guests or family dessert.

Once the dough has hardened, attach the trigger to the end, remove the solid plate and squeeze it gently to release 1/8" of dough. With a sharp knife, slice the cookie dough off, using the edge of the gun as a guide. Immediately place the cookie dough disk on a greased cookie sheet before it softens. Repeat this process until all of the dough is sliced. 

Bake the cookies in an oven preheated at 325 degrees F. for 8-10 minutes or until barely golden around the edges. Once they have cooled, shake them in a bowl of powdered sugar and serve or store in an air-tight container.

*Alternately, you can simply roll the dough into a log surrounded by wax paper and refrigerate it. Once it has chilled and hardened, slice it and bake as above. The result is a more rustic-looking cookie. Less-perfect but equally delicious.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Watermelon Cookies

Yesterday my neice helped me create these adorable watermelon cookies. What these are, in all truth, are glorified sugar cookies. They are a little easier than your typical cut out sugar cookie- these are a roll, meaning that you form the dough into a log and cut it into slices once it has firmed in the refrigerator. I'm not gonna lie, it does take a little extra effort, but not as much as you would think looking at these cuties. Let me explain. . .

First you make a batch of sugar cookie dough (or your could use the store bought variety instead). I used my favorite recipe straight from Martha Stewart herself. I realize she has many recipes for sugar cookies, but this one I have used throughout the years and it never fails to give me perfectly yummy cookies. Here it is.

Sugar Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1 Tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups all purpose flour
(For this recipe I substituted almond extract and added an additional 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to brighten the flavor.)

Cream together your butter and sugar, then add your eggs until fully incorporated. Mix in your salt, baking powder and flour, mixing only enough to incorporate the flour (or your dough will be too tough). Once your cookies are cut out, place them on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes at 325 degrees F, (or until slightly golden around the edges). Baking time will depend on the thickness of your cookie.

Once you have made your dough, divide it in half. Take one half and tint it pink and set it aside. Divide the other half in half again, and tint one portion lime green and the other portion dark green.

Now, roll out the dark green in between two pieces of wax paper, and form it into a 10"x 6" rectangle. Place it in the refrigerator to firm up. Roll the lime green dough into a rectangle of the same size and then place that in the fridge to firm up. After about 10 minutes, carefully peel off one layer of wax paper off  of the lime dough and lay it exactly on top of the dark green dough.
Take your pink dough and roll it into a log and place it in the center of the green rectangle of dough. Enclose the pink dough with the green doughs, wrap this with wax paper, and place the dough log in the fridge to harden. You want the log to be very flat on one side and rounded on the other, in a semi-circle.
This is what you want your cookie douigh log to look like. Once it has hardened, you can peel off the wax paper, and cut it into slices of your preferred thickness. Then, cut the green section of the flat end off to give the look of a watermelon slice.

For a finishing touch, you can add some black seed sprinkles to the top. I found these at my cake decorating headquarters, ABC Cake Decorating in Phoenix.

This recipe makes about 20 really thick cookies or more depending on how you cut them. I like to under-bake them a little so that they are lightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. My husband likes them over-baked so they are crisp and crunchy. Either way they are delicous!

Thanks to my beautiful neice Alissa for the help in creating these sweet treats! I love the common bond we share for creative baking! ox

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shrinky-dink Jewelry for Boys

Yesterday, Aria and a friend were making Shrinky-dink jewelry from a pre-drawn kit and Cole wanted to join in the fun, so he got out the blank Shrinky-dink paper and created his own pendants for his necklace.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Sparkletini anyone??

 Whenever I have a party, I like to create a signature drink of sorts, to make my guests feel special and to add some fun to the event. For my last girls night, I made these watermelon Sparkletinis made with fresh watermelon and edible glitter. My girls loved them- of course- and they added a refreshing splash of glitter and glamor to the night. I highly recommend you give these ladies a try!

Really, you could take any drink and add some edible glitter to the rim and call it a Sparkletini, but if you'd like to try my delicious watermelon beverage (and you should) you definitely won't regret it.... with or without the bling!

Here's my recipe:

Watermelon Sparkletinis

Prepare your glasses first : Dip the rim of a martini glass in lime juice and then sprinkle it with some edible glitter called Disco Dust that can be purchased at most cake decorating stores. I go to ABC Cake Decorating in Phoenix for mine... and it comes in a large variety of beautiful colors! 

Next make your drink : Add to a blender, 1 cup of ice, 1/2 cup vodka, 1/2 cup juice (I used pineapple) the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and about 3 cups of cut up watermelon (about 1/4 of a medium melon). Blend until smooth; pour into your glasses and find someone interesting to talk to, cause you're going to want to sit and enjoy this little lady for a while!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Twelfth Night- up close and personal

On both performance nights, I had my camera out and ready to take a picture of anything that inspired me. There was so much beauty there those nights, between the children, the amazing costumes by Charity Connor, and the excitement in the air, that I took more than 300 pictures over the course of the two nights.  

Now, I am no editor- in fact I need one because I have a difficult time narrowing my favorite pictures down to just one or two. But, I did my best here. Of all of the group and individual cast pictures, here are my favorites. 
Emmett as Sir Andrew

Olivia, the attendants of Olivia and her maid, Maria played by (from top left)
Claire, Madison, Abby, Vivian, Abby, Maille, Aria, Rochelle, and Grace

Steven as Orsino

Maille as Olivia

Vivian as Attendant of Olivia

Dominic and Michael as Officers


Jadon as Second Officer

Piper as First Officer

Madison as Attendant of Olivia

Rochelle as Attendant of Olivia
Aria as Attendant of Olivia

Ryan as Antonio

Valentine, Lord of Orsino 1 & 2, and Curio played by (from left)
Amanda, Nicholas, Martin, Joseph

Martin as Lord of Orsino

Addison as Lady of Orsino

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Twelfth Night Tickets

Tonight is the final production of Twelfth Night, the Shakespearean play that Aria and her 4th grade friends have been working so hard on.  I have been taking a ton of pictures and can't wait to post some of them so you can see how amazing they all looked! We saw the performance last night, which was a success, and we've reserved some tickets for tonight's finale as well.

I was so pleasantly surprised last week to receive and e-mail from a teacher asking if she could use a drawing Aria created as the artwork for the Twelfth Night tickets. How cool is that?? Below is a close-up of one of the tickets. Great work my love!

The perfect bun- a tutorial

For my daughter's 4th grade production of Twelfth Night, I was asked to help with the hair-do's. . . mainly because many of the girls required a bun and I know of a fairly simple way of creating a nearly perfect bun. Every time I completed a bun, parents and students would ooh and aah at the finished product and then ask to watch the process to learn how to replicate it.
So, I thought a tutorial was in order!
Follow these steps below along with the pictures of this gorgeous blonde head of hair!

Materials: A brush or comb, 1 strong rubberband, a dozen or so bobbi-pins, hairspray (if desired)

Brush out the hair and put it in a smooth ponytail in the location that you want the bun.

Divide the hair in half, creating a horizontal division of the hair.

Roll the top half into a tight curl towards the head using your fingers. Make sure the ends are tucked inside the curl.

Pin the curl down to the rest of the hair using 2 pins that criss cross. Do this on both sides of the curl.

Repeat this process with the bottom section of hair, rolling in down and in towards the hair.

Pin this curl the same as you did the top one, on both sides.

Carefully pull the ends of the curls in to meet eachother, creating a continuous loop, and pin this in place. Spray with hairspray if desired for added security.

Here's my beautiful hair model from the front.

This is an example of what the top curl should look like as you gently pull the ends to create a half circle.

Another completed bun- gorg!