Random Ramblings: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

{ SILHOUETTES } photography

There is so much about a silhouette picture that just captures me.  Its not like the same feeling I get from a black and white photo, and not the same feeling as I get from a color photo either.  Just something about the way the photo captures the subject in a black silhouette and leaves some bright color in the back.

I just thought I would share a few that I recently took.  
This was my handsome hubby and his brother out riding their dirt bikes and I wanted to get a shot like this of them.  I have been wanting to do pictures like this of the kids for a while, I am hoping to do so soon.  


While we were out watching Jacob ride that night I was able to snap a shot of the 3 kids together at least.  Id really like a family shot like this too.  

This one was just the other night when I was leaving Rite Aid.  

I have some old pictures of Ryan and Marcus from years and years ago that are silhouettes of them playing in the water in Big Bear.  I am on the hunt to find them, or the negatives and I want to pick a wall in my house and hang nothing but my favorite silhouette pictures.

I have some more I am waiting to edit to add to my favorite collection as well.

~N I C O L E 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

{ FIREPLACE SIGN }

I found this piece of wood in the garage, I think left over from one of the million other projects we have done around here.
Well when I was spray painting the wood for the art hanger I decided to do something fun with this little scrap of wood as well.
I spray painted it with the can of chalkboard paint I had on hand.  I figured I would spray it, then figure out what I was going to do with it.  

So then, just as I thought I had the perfect idea.  I found these little eye hooks and s screws and made it into a little sign for the fireplace.  


I eyeballed it about the middle of the fireplace and just screwed the s hooks in with my hand, same with the eye hooks onto the sign.  


I wrote Happy Fall on the sign with chalk and hung it up.  I love that I can change the sign for whatever season, or occasion it is.  It took minutes (minus dry time) to make this little guy and it adds such a fun touch to the fireplace.  I love my new candle scones that my mom and my aunt bought me too.  Im going for a much simpler mantle at the moment, mainly because I took all the teal decorations down and don't have alot of black and brown ones.  
You can see HERE how I built the fireplace mantle myself. 

H A P P Y   F A L L everyone.  

~ N I C O L E 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

{ ZUCCHINI BREAD } : recipe

(yes I realize now that I spelled zucchini wrong.. oops!)

This summer our garden produced so many zucchini that I knew I had to find some other ways to cook it other than just fried.  We had it marinaded and grilled on the BBQ the other night which was really really good.  It just melted in your mouth and the seasoning was just perfect.  

But today I am going to share with you the zucchini bread that I made, made a lot of it.  I made a few mini loaves and they went so fast that I then made a huge batch of 20 mini loaves the next time.  I didn't mean to make that many, but they went to anyone and everyone and we had a few left over for ourselves, so it was good I had that many.

After searching for a good recipe I found one that I wanted to try.

Let me share it with you.

. . . . . R E C I P E . . . . .

ZUCCHINI BREAD

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. zucchini ( 1-1.5 cups after shredded and wrung out)
2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. all spice
1.5 C. sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 C. plain yogurt (I used vanilla in mine)
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
6 tbs. melted butter

DIRECTIONS

Move the oven rack to the middle slot.
Preheat oven to 375*
Spray 9x15 inch loaf pan with non stick cooking spray

Chops ends of zucchini and finely shred the entire thing - peel and all.
Put the shredded up zucchini and ring it out as hard as you can to get rid of all the access liquid
Set it aside. (there should be about 1 - 1.5 cups)

In a new bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, all spice and salt.

In a smaller bowl whisk sugar, yogurt, eggs, lemon juice and melted butter until well combined.

Now gently fold yogurt mixture and zucchini into flour mixture using a rubber spatula.  Do not over mix, mix just until it is all combined.

Pour into loaf pan ( or into all the mini loaf pans like I did)

Bake until golden brown and there are very few crumbs on the knife when inserted through the middle of the loaf. 40-45 minutes.

Cool 10 minutes.  Then you can turn it out onto a new plate and cool completely for 1 hour.
Store it well covered for up to 3 days.

I covered all our mini loaves with a few layers of saran wrap and they lasted for about a week.  I did store them in the refigerator as well.  We like ours cold with a little butter smeared on each piece.


Here is the instagram picture I shared with all my mini loaves in the oven.

Do you like zucchini bread?  If you have a good recipe, I would love for you to share it.

~ N I C O L E 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

{ CHILD ART DISPLAY BOARD }



When little Jacob was in kindergarten he was bringing home so much art and papers that I knew I had to find a way to store it all.  So at the time I took 2 hooks and some string and hung them on the wall, and tied the string to each one.  I used some colorful plastic clothespins that I found to hang up all the work.  It worked for us that year, but it just wasn't what I wanted.  So I wanted to come up with a new idea. I had a bunch of ideas in my mind, even saw a few cute ones on pinterest.  But it just never got made...  Then last year he was in 1st grade and didn't bring  home as much art stuff, so we just continued to use the string.
Then I changed all the stuff around in the hallway and it got taken down.  
Then came August 20th when little Jacob started 2nd grade and our little Caleb started kindergarten.  Back to getting stuff home everyday.  So I decided to put those floating around into actual.  To actually make a physical product from an idea.  

I went to Home Depot and looked at some wood.  I once again ended up getting a fence board because it was straighter than the actual "normal" pieces of wood.

I brought it home and spray painted it black.  No fancy spray paint here, I used the .97cent cans from Home Depot.


Late that night I brought the painted board in and layed it down flat on the pool table.  I took my stack of clothespins and brought out my E3000 glue.
I glued them on right down the board, spacing them evenly.


Then I took some picture hanger hooks and nailed them to the back of the board.


Then I hung up the board right in the spot I knew I wanted it to go.



I LOVE how it turned out and I can't wait for the kids to bring home more art and school work 

This was one quick and easy and cheap project.  

How do you hang your kids school work?  

~ N I C O L E 

Friday, September 7, 2012

{ CORKER HAIR RUBBER BANDS }


I have loved these curly ribbon hair clips for quite some time now.  I made an attempt at them a few years ago, but they were a flop. I figured out the problem though right after I attempted them.  I didn't use grosgrain ribbon.  

So with all the sewing of fun cute little dresses I was making for Chloe this summer I wanted to make some hair goodies that matched.  Now all the ones I have ever seen are clips, but clips just don't stay in Chloe's hair, so I knew I wanted to make them using rubber bands.

I found a big bundle of colored rubber bands at Target for super cheap.  So I got those and used a few to make these.  

Start by taking a dowl and some wood clothespins and some grosgrain ribbon in the colors of your choice.  

You can either wrap the ribbon on the wood dowl tight and close together or spaced out a bit more.  The looser you wrap it the looser your curly ribbon will be.  
I chose to wrap mine on the tighter side.  Don't cut your ribbon, but start by attatching it to one end of the dowl with a clothespin.  Then hold the ribbon and spin the dowl to wrap it all the way down to the other end.   Then cut and secure that end with another clothespin.  
Do this to as many as you want.
Place them all on a baking sheet without letting the ribbons touch.  

Have the oven preheated to 200 degrees.
Place the pan of ribbon in the oven and let them bake for 20-40 minutes.  I found that doing it for 20 minutes and they were not quite set as I wanted.  
Once you are done, take them out and let them cool completely.  

Once they have cooled completely, unclip both sides and slowly pull out the dowl.  You will end up with long  tubes of curled ribbon. 

I then took one tube at a time and folded it into 4ths.  Nothing precise and exact, just eyeballed it.  

Then I took my rotary blade and just cut at each fold. 

Then I had 4 shorter tubes.  Again nothing precise, just close enough is good. 

I continued to do this with all the colors that I had. 

Next I picked 2 of each color and layed them out. 

Then I had some thin white string laying around so I slipped a long piece under all of the lined up ribbon. 

I just took both ends of the string and just tied it like I would knot a shoe lace.  I made sure the knot was nice and tight.  Then I cut off the extra string. 


Then you just add them to your childs hair.  I often will use a tiny clear rubber band for her ponytails and then add the fun bands, because they seem to stay in her fly away hair better that way.  

I have made a ton of these in all kinds of colors.  

Who would have thought baking ribbon would make them do this.  Brillitant.  Makes me wonder who first thought to put ribbon in the oven wrapped around wood dowls.  :) 

Have you ever made and of these?  I see so many out on the internet that the possibilites are endless.  

~ N I C O L E 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

{ STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE } : recipe



I have to say that cheesecake is probably my most favorite kind of cake.  But many many years ago I used to make the Jello no bake kind, but that is just so not the same as a really good cheesecake. 
So one day when my hubby asked me make one for a BBQ that he was having at work, I wanted to find a good one.
So with a little online searching I found one that looked pretty easy.  I found it at www.bakerella.com
She has amazing things on that site, and I love her cake pops for every occasion you can think of. 
So once I made this cheesecake, we were hooked for good.  It is SO good.  Now I have to look for reasons to make it.  So just a few weeks ago we had the family over for Ryan's 18th birthday dinner, and this is what I made. 
On bakerella's site she makes her cheesecake with  raspberry topping and makes some homemade whip topping and I have done it with all kinds of toppings and even made the fresh whip topping, but this time I got a tub of frozen strawberries and let them defrost overnight in the fridge. 
Then right before serving I poured the entire tub over the cake and let it drip over the sides. 
Ok enough talking, let me share this amazigly good recipe with you so you can go make one too.

{ STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE }  

. . . . . R E C I P E . . . . .

CRUST

2.5 CUPS of graham crackers
2 TBS. sugar
1/2 CUP melted butter

FILLING

4 pkgs. cream cheese
1.5 CUPS sugar
3 TBS. flour
5 eggs
1 CUP sour cream
1 TBS. vanilla
1 TBS. lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
Mix all the ingredients for the crust and press them firmly into a 9 inch springform pan. 
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then let it cool. 
While it is cooling mix the filling. 
Cream together sugar, cream cheese, flour.
On medium/low add eggs, one at a time, mixing well as each one is added.
Add sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla.
Make sure it is mixed well and pour filling into the cooled crust. 
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
She suggests to take it out just before it looks done.  Then let it cool. 
Hopefully it won't crack on the top, although to be honest with you, mine cracks everytime. 
But I just cover it with whatvever topping or whip I am using that time and no one even knows. 

Chill overnight. 
Yes you need to make this the night before you want to actually eat it. 
When you are ready to eat pour on your topping and make the fresh whip.  Serve cold. 
 ENJOY!

~ N I C O L E 



Monday, September 3, 2012

{ SWEATER TO SKIRT }

Happy Labor Day.  Do you have any big plans for the extra day to the weekend?  Are you going to do any bbqing?  One year I would love to have a big Labor Day party and have all our family and friends over and my BBQ extraordinaire hubby could BBQ us something yummy. We would play games and have lots of good food and yummy desserts.  Maybe one year...  But not this year.  I am actually looking forward to just relaxing this year. A day off from school for the kids so no getting up early.  My  hubby is on graveyard, which sucks, but tonight is his last night on this shift, so that is at least good.  

Now on to some quick and easy fun stuff.  

 I love being able to take something old or unusable and make it into something new again.  
So when I came across this sweater that was way to big for Chloe, and I didn't know anyone that could use it I had an idea. I loved the detail on the sweater and thought with the strings, it would be a super cute skirt.  

So I layed out the sweater and cut right under the armpit .  I layed it out and cut it with my rotary blade and ruler.  This makes it so easy to cut a straight line.  I folded it down and made the pocket for the elastic.
I measured Chloe's waste and cut the elastic to size and slipped it in and sewed the elastic together and then sewed up the rest of the skirt.  

Wah-Lah, it was really that easy.
Pretty much like an INSTA-SKIRT.  




Now I just can't wait for her to wear it.  I love knowing that I made a skirt from a sweater.  I have never done that before.

Have you ever re purposed an old item of clothing and made it into something else?

~N I C O L E 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

UNCRUSTABLES - MAKE YOUR OWN




Have you ever bought the box of uncrustables at the grocery store?  Not me.  No way am I going to spend $3.00+ on a box of 4 of them.  That is a bit more than I am willing to spend.  For that I will just make the kids pbj's every morning for their lunches.  

That is until I found the "uncrustable" maker in the drawer recently and told myself I was going to make some  ourselves.  It is a cut and seal tool from pampered chef and I have seriously had it for years, and it has not gotten much use, because I always put it in the back of the "junk" drawer and forget about it.  But now I am glad I came across it.  

So I got a few loafs of bread at the store, I had peanut butter on hand and we have an over abundace of grape jelly on hand as well.
Let me take you through this super easy process.  It was so easy, it took all of about 8 minutes. 3 of which were stopping to take the pictures while I was doing it.  

First lay out all the bread and put peanut butter on ALL the pieces of bread.  That is one key to this.  The peanut butter will help the bread from getting soggy as it defrosts.  

Now put some jelly in the middle of half of the pieces of bread.  Mine looks like alot now that I look at this picture, but I had not really spread it around much yet.  

Now put the slices with just the peanut butter on top of the pieces with the jelly on them.  
So it really is just as simple as making a normal pbj sandwich, just with peanut butter on both sides of the bread.  

Now here comes the fun part.  Take this pampered chef cut and seal tool and center it on the bread.  Press down real hard, and pull away all the cut off crust.  I then push down on the center knob to make sure it gets a good seal.
I am not sure if that is the exact correct way to use it, if there is a specific exact correct way to use it, but this is what worked for me.  
Then lift it up and the sandwich will be inside the tool.  Push the center knob again and it will push out the sandwich.  

Now lay them all out on a cookie sheet and flash freeze them.  You can read about flash freezing HERE .

After they were all done freezing I added them all into a large gallon sized zip lock back, labeled it and stuck them all in the freezer.
For a FRACTION of the cost I made 10 uncrustables.  Not a bad deal if I do say so.  

Now if you do not have the handy dandy uncrustable maker you could always use a cup and seal the edges with a fork, like you would around the rim of a pie.  Or I have seen a cutter at walmart before too.  

Now they are all ready for the kids lunches and will save me a few extra minutes each morning when I am making their lunches.  Next time saving task I think I am going to do is sorting out their chips and desserts and fruit into baggies already. 

~ N I C O L E 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

{ INSTAGRAMS }



Since school just started we are trying to get used to our new daily routines. So what does that mean? Of course I get more behind on my lovely blog.  But now that things are becoming more normal I think I just may be able to find more time to visit here.  YAY!
That is as long as I can stop cleaning the house while the boys are in school.  I don't know what has come over me lately.. oh I think it is just the fact that I can clean the entire house and it actually stays clean for more than 5 minutes, it actually stays clean  for HOURS, yes HOURS at a time while they are at school.  I think I am just enjoying that so much that it is causing me to over clean the house everyday.  Im sure that won't last too long lol.

So I thought I would share some instagram pictures with you.  I am a little addicted to taking instagram pictures. I just love instagram.  What a fun way to share pictures.  


So since I had to add them to this blog post from my phone, it put them in wacky order, so they are in no particular order .  


This was Jacob, Ryan, Marcus, my father in law, brother in law and future brother in law.  They came over for fried chicken for dinner and were out in the garage working on the dirt bikes.  


This was the same night and all the kids playing on the stairs. 


My brother and sister in law were down while my brother had some work to do down in this direction.  So we met them and my mom and dad at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner.  It was so great to see them and my niece Lily.  


Green beans from our own garden. 


Me and Chloe relaxing watching Strawberry Shortcake after a day full of cleaning the house.  


My little Caleb's first day of Kindergarten.


Little Jacob all ready to learn at his desk in 2nd grade. 


A dress I sewed Chloe.  


Corker hair bows I made for Chloe.


Beauty and the Beast has become Chloes new favorite movie and she was watching it non stop on some days.  During summer they would often watch it when they got into bed each night too. 


Ryan concentrating as he works on his driving skills.  Let me tell you that having your sons drive you is sure nerveracking.  


My handsome hubby in all his new riding gear we got him that day.  


Enjoying the nice summer evenings with some fudgepops. 


Living in southern California we rarely see any rain. So it was nice to get several summer storms this year. 


Cousins after we had gone to lunch during a summer storm.  We had to eat with most of the electricity out and it was kind of exciting.  


Ryan turned 18.  


The boys first day of school.  Chloe says she goes to school everyday too. 


Teaching little Jacob how to play checkers.  


Jacob sitting on his new dirt bike. 


Me and the kids on my birthday.  My mom took me to lunch and I had her take this picture for me. 


We were at my sister in laws (soon to be new house) and they have tons of apple trees so her girls picked me a bunch.  They were great for the kids school lunches this past week.  


Teacher gifts.


The girls also found me fresh eggs.


Out riding in the desert and making smores by the fire before we went home.  
'

This is Chloe's new way of sleeping lately.  As soon as I lay her down, she automatically covers her face.  


I am not a drinker, at all.  Anyone that knows me, knows this.  But when I was at the grocery store these looked pretty good so I wanted to try them. YUM.  


Icee's on a hot day for the kids. 


I made 18 mini zuchini breads.  


Chloe told me to lay down one morning, then she got out the lotion and rubbed it all over my feet. 


Ryan and Marcus got their drivers permits on the same day... eye yi yi.


New hair cuts before school, given by daddy.


Marcus with his permit.  


Do you instagram? You can follow me HERE even if you don't use instagram.  

~N I C O L E