Friday, June 22, 2012

{Insta} Friday

I am linking up for Insta Friday.

On Sunday I baked cupcakes.  These are the three I did.  All our chocolate buttermilk cake.  The top is covered with a white chocolate peanut buttercream with a mini Reese's on top.  The bottom left (Madison's favorite) is covered with vanilla buttercream and Oreo crumbles.  The bottom right is vanilla buttercream with rainbow sprinkles.  I brought these to our Father's Day dinner out with family and they were a big hit.  The extras were packaged individually and sent to school with Madison on Monday to give out to her teachers.

A close up of the white chocolate peanut butter one.
On Tuesday Madison and I picked up my mother-in-law and took her for a manicure/pedicure for a belated Mother's Day gift.  Afterwards we took her to one of our favorite places for lunch.  Here is my Greek salad with grilled chicken and felafal.  The dressing is homemade tzatziki sauce.  She really enjoyed her first time at this place.

We have no central air.  It STINKS! This was my setup on Wednesday.  I worked from the kitchen table with the fan blowing in my face.

Yesterday should have been my due date.  My sweet friend, Jill, who suffered a miscarriage exactly a month after me sent me these beautiful flowers yesterday.  They are on the table in my entry way.  I was totally caught off guard, but truly appreciate her friendship and thoughtfulness.
These beauties are from out front yard.  Madison picked them on Sunday morning and arranged them in this vase for us.  She also made an arrangement and delivered it to our neighbor.

Sunday morning Madison and I whipped these up. They are just little candy baggies filled with gumballs and a fun label she created on our computer.  She gave them out to her cousins Sunday night and to her friends at school on Monday.

I am mom2maddie99 on Instagram if you would like to follow me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We have an 8th Grader!!

This school year has FLOWN by... I am not sure why this year seemed faster than the others... maybe it was because it was the first year since Madison has been in school that I haven't been teaching.  We celebrated her last day (Monday June 18, 2012) by letting her pick a place for dinner.  She chose Outback Steakhouse.  Afterwards we went to Target and she chose some new shorts, a few items from the $1 section, and a new book she had been wanting to read.

Here she is --- the first day of 7th grade is on the left and the last day of 7th grade is on the right.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mending Family Relationships

I have posted a few times about some family issues we had been going through both here and here.  Back in early June with much apprehension my husband and I accepted an invitation to attend our nephew's high school graduation party.  Not because we didn't want to celebrate with him... it had just been a long time since we had been invited to a family event. Since moving here last August we had only seen our nephew, his sister, and their parents... TWICE.  They live 15 minutes from us.  We both have daughters close in age.  I am not even sure why things got to this point... or what even caused them.  Anyways, we went.  We had a great time.  My husband even mended the misunderstanding from his father's last visit.  Things weren't weird or awkward... it was normal family fun time.  My sister-in-law spent most of the evening chatting with me... and we even ordered the exact same dinner.

The entire family came over the next night to watch a basketball game... including my in-laws who are divorced from one another.  It was nice to see how happy my mother-in-law was that her three sons... who all live near one another were all interacting.

Then after that my sister-in-law and I began having little conversations here and there via Facebook and text message. On Father's Day we texted one another in the morning and made plans to go to dinner.  So our family, my husband's brother, S and his daughter and my husband's brother B and his family as well as my mother-in-law all met for dinner. 

The three girl cousins ages 15, 12, and 11 sat together at their own separate table and ordered their own appetizer and pizza to share and then they enjoyed cupcakes I made.  Afterwards we went back to my sister-in-law's house and everyone hung out for a bit.  My sister-in-law have continued texting pretty much daily.  We are learning we have more in common then we knew... this morning I received a text from her and it was literally something I had just said to my husband... we were thinking the same thing.

I know the mending of these relationships have really made my husband happy.  I hope they continue.... for all of us.

{Penny.....shhhhh.... pretend as if you know none of this}

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Father's Day Photo Letter Gift

I made this for my dad for Father's Day.  The grandkids call him Pop. 

Since I have one kid, I went went the O and since my sister has two she went with the P so she only had to purchase one letter.  I think the letters were $3.99 at Michaels.  We each took our photos and then she sent me hers.

I created a Microsoft Powerpoint slide.  Then I added and sized the photos and added the Happy Father's Day.  I sent it to Walgreens to be printed as an 8x10.  Then I purchased an 11x14 frame with matting and framed it.  Easy... personal... and I think he will love it.

I wrapped it up with tons of bubble wrap, boxed it up with tons of packing paper, and it will be off tomorrow morning to my dad in Virginia.

If you are interested in the file (with blank spots where my photos are) I used to create your own... leave a comment with your email or make sure you email is tied to your comments and I will respond back via email with the attachment.  This of course would also work with DAD.

Monday, June 11, 2012

{Recipe} BBQ Ranch Chopped Salad

We had lunch at Panera on Saturday and I had their version of this salad.  I shared some with my husband who also enjoyed it.  So tonight I set out to duplicate it. It was excellent, low in calories, and I will definitely be making it again.   Their salad comes with the following description - All-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, romaine lettuce, roasted corn, black beans, tortilla strips & BBQ ranch dressing, drizzled with BBQ sauce.  I apologize for the poor photo quality... but seriously this salad is so tasty.

Changes - I didn't add chicken to ours.  We actually served grilled chili lime chicken breasts on the side.  I didn't roast my corn.  I didn't use a BBQ sauce drizzle.  I did add some shredded cheese.

BBQ Ranch Dressing

1 pack of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix
1 cup of 1% organic milk
1 cup of Chobani plain Greek Yogurt
3 T of Trader Joe's BBQ sauce

Directions - I mixed the dry mix into the milk with a whisk.  Then I added the yogurt and BBQ sauce. I placed it in a container with a lid and shook it up.  It needs to sit for 30 min - 1 hour before serving.

Based on the ingredients I used the entire container of dressing came to 366 calories.  I used less than half of it on the salad.  I think you can get at least 8 two ounce servings if not more which makes it around 46 calories per 2 ounce serving, which isn't bad at all for dressing.

BBQ Ranch Chopped Salad

3 heads of Romaine lettuce
1 ear of fresh corn
1/2 can of black beans - rinsed and drained
1/2 c. reduced fat shredded cheese
3/4 c. of tortilla strips (in the produce section)
Homemade BBQ ranch dressing to taste

Directions -

1. Put the entire ear of corn in the microwave for 4 minutes.  Leave it in the husk.  Cut of the end of the corn cob and shake the corn out of the husk.  ALL of the silk will be peeled away from the corn.  When it cools, slice the corn off of the cob and place in a bowl.

2. Drain and rinse the black beans.  Pat dry.

3. Drain, dry, and chop your lettuce. 

4. Place the lettuce in a bowl.  Add corn, black beans, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and dressing to taste.  I just drizzled some over top.  Mixed up the salad.  Then add more dressing if necessary. 

*I wouldn't serve the dressing on the side.  It tastes best all mixed up.

*This makes 2-3 servings of salad depending on serving size.

*You can add other things like black olives, diced tomatoes, or green/red peppers to this recipe to suit your taste.  You can add more corn or more beans.  You can omit the cheese.  You can grill chicken and add some to this.  The possibilities are endless. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Instagram Phone Dump

Here are a bunch of photos from the last week or two...

Sprinkles from when I made chocolate dipped strawberries.
Last week my aunt, uncle, and cousin from Maryland visited Newport, RI as the final stop to their cruise vacation.  Madison and I spent the day with them.  Our final stop was a frozen yogurt shop downtown.  Maddie and I hadn't had frozen yogurt since we moved here.
Last weekend Madison's school was having a bake sale.  I had a box of peanut butter cookie dough in the cabinet.  I quickly made the dough, spread it in a greased 9x13 pan, sprinkled chocolate chips on top, baked, cut and placed in cupcake liners.  Since the bake sale sells everything for just fifty cents I no longer go overboard on the things I bake and donate.
Last night we had a bunch of family over to watch the Celtics game.  I made BBQ meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, picked up pizzas and bread sticks from Little Cesar's and made these Buckeye Brownies... that were a huge hit. I used my homemade brownie recipe and omitted the peanuts because I forgot to pick them up.
When we were touring Newport with family last week we did a tour of the Rosecliff mansion.  Here is a photo of Madison outside before we went in. 
Dinner one night last week - this is the Grilled chicken and felafel salad with tzatziki... sooo good.
Some of the three pounds of strawberries I dipped the other week.
Chocolate cupcake/muffins.  I think these were around 180 calories each.  I just mixed up a box of dark chocolate cake mix with 1 can of pure pumpkin plus 1T of water and baked as normal. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SO WHAT Wednesday

I am linking up with Shannon at Life After I Dew for SO WHAT Wednesday.

SO WHAT if... I let Madison stay home from school today.  My aunt, uncle (who married Chris and I) and their son, John, came into Newport today via a cruise they were on.  It has been about 18 months since we have seen them so I wanted Madison to come along when we met up with them.

SO WHAT if... we stopped at one of those frozen yogurt place downtown where you fill up your cup then add your own toppings... and I am supposed to be counting calories.  I really FORGOT because we haven't had frozen yogurt since our move.  In my defense, the yogurt was low-fat and the Reeses Pieces I piled on were mini ones.

SO WHAT if... while touring one of the mansions in Newport, my uncle took a photo... when no photos were allowed inside.

SO WHAT if... if since we had a late lunch downtown, I chose to not make dinner tonight and my husband is making my own dinner.

SO WHAT if... I have always said I would never get a tattoo and I have been thinking about getting one... a very small one lately.

SO WHAT if... we have a graduation party to attend on Friday night and a BBQ to attend on Saturday and I am hoping to come down with an illness that prevents me from attending both.