Jul 30, 2009

Baby swimming pool product review

I saw this pool when we were at Wal-Mart in Canada. It looked perfect for small fry to use in our backyard. We have a kiddie pool but it is not something she can explore in by herself with out holding onto someones hand all the time. This however is designed for 18 month olds and looked perfect for her. I haven't looked at Wal-Mart here (the USA) to see if they have the same thing. But if they do or if you are in Canada and can find this I highly recommend it. This pool is perfect for beginner water exploration. It only holds about 3 inches of water; just enough to splash in but not so much that she has to hold onto my hand the whole time. Small fry can get in and out by herself and she loves to drink from the spraying water. It has too be attached to a hose and have water running but really for little kids they want to play in it for about 10 minutes maybe so I figure running the water for that long is worth it. Plus she doesn't like it to spray hard so you hardly have to turn the water on. The box shows 4 kids in it at once but I can't conceivably see more than 2 playing together in it. Mom or dad can be there to help with the whale slide and watch and otherwise it is very conducive for independent exploration. I am really impressed and highly recommend this pool to other parents of 15 -18 month olds.

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Tin can makeover

Lately I have been seeing all kinds of great "revamp" projects on various blogs so the other day when we went to the city for a doctors appointment I decided to check out DI (a thrift store) to see what caught my eye. I saw this large tin can (thrift stores are loaded with these usually) and decided it would be a great container for toys in small fry's new bedroom. Here is what I did.

I used Mod Podge and some scrapbook paper to recover the can. I had to use 3 12x12 sheets of paper to get all the way around it. I brushed the glue on with a foam brush and then applied the paper (you have to do this in sections otherwise your glue dries too fast). I did find that the paper bubbled in a few places and I did my best to smooth it out but even in the end there were bubbles but I don't mind.
The paper without being cut hung over the top edge about an inch. I decided to fold this down inside the can and glue it. After all the paper was glued down I then did another coat of Mod Podge over the top of the paper. You have to give this a good amount of time to dry after.

For the lid I traced around the circle but added about a 1/2 inch. Then I cut this piece out. Again I brushed the glue on the top of the lid and stuck down the paper.

Then I cut slits towards the lid all around the edge of the circle. I brushed glue around the side of the top and pressed the paper down. The slits help the paper lay smoother than if you just folded it down.
I found that my paper didn't quite cover the whole edge but I had some little border strips that came in the packet of paper I bought so I glued those around the edge too. I then brushed glue all over the whole thing. In the end however I found out that adding the paper around the bottom made it impossible to put the lid back on. I tried everything and could not get it to fit. But since I am going to use the tin to hold toys it won't really need a lid anyway. Small fry did have a great time using it as a drum stick to bang on the other part.

This is the final product. What a cute toy bin don't you think? I now need to go back and get a couple more. I think a set of three will be really cute in her room.
Here it is with the super cute but totally unusable lid.
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Jul 28, 2009

Then and Now

If you will please indulge me for a little garden post. When we left for Canada our garden looked like this. The tomatoes were just getting ready to turn red, we had eaten some carrots, the peppers were just coming on and same with the green beans. It was hard to leave but my husbands parents took care of it and got to eat some of the first crops.

And after 3 weeks this is what we came home too. I can't believe how much it grew in 3 weeks. The sunflowers are probably 9 feet tall (if you could straighten them up). And my beautiful tomato plants are just loaded with red tomatoes. The corn, though it looks scrawny has gorgeous ears of corn and I was able to pick all the carrots and the onions. Some things didn't fair so well while we were gone but over all I am so happy.

So yesterday and today I picked a bunch of ripe tomatoes, some peppers and the onions. And what can you make with those 3 ingredients? Salsa of course. I love homemade salsa. So that is what I did today. I have previously had people ask me for my recipe. Unfortunately I don't really have one (not one with measurements and exact amounts) but I thought I would share my basic ingredients and how I make it and store it. If you are adventurous enough to try it then you won't be disappointed (okay well you might be depending how much of everything you use).

A prized tomato if I do say so myself. This is a first for me; growing a tomato this big that has ripened on the vine. In Canada we never pick our tomatoes red. They don't have enough time to ripen on the vine so we always pick them green and then ripen them in the house. Did you know you can do that? Lots of people don't. And last year our tomatoes didn't get this big so I am kind of proud. Okay now for the salsa. Here is what I use
tomatoes (lots)
green peppers (1/4-1/2 as many as the amount of tomatoes depending on how much you like peppers)
1 small Jalapeno (or 2 if you like it with some kick)
1 large onion (I use yellow onions)
2-3 cloves of garlic
Cilantro (a good sized bunch)
Lime juice (2 tbsps or so)
Salt and pepper (to taste- I like a good amount of salt)
Sometimes I add garlic salt too if I don't taste enough garlic flavor
I don't can this salsa. I make it in large batches and freeze it. It comes out just as good as fresh from the freezer and you don't have to alter it at all like you would for canning. I don't peel the tomatoes. I just cut of the bottoms and squeeze out the seeds. Then I cut off the stem end, cut the tomatoes into large chunks and put the in my food processor. I wait until it have as many as it will hold and then pulse them until the are chopped into smaller pieces. These go into my bowl. If I still need more I do this again. I like to have my salsa mainly tomatoes. I seed and chop my peppers and the jalapeno too and add them to the food processor, as well as the onion, garlic (which I mince with my handy little tool first) and the cilantro. I pulse this until I have small chunks. I add this to my bowl. Then add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. The best way to know how much to use is to taste it in between. That is it. If it wasn't 10:00 pm and I didn't get heartburn something fierce these days I would have some right now. Maybe for breakfast. You might think I am kidding but I have done it before.
Here is the bowl I made this afternoon and couldn't stop eating. I am so glad there are more tomatoes ripening outside. I can't wait to make more.
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Home again Home again

We're back. It was great to go on vacation and see my family and the beautiful scenery of Saskatchewan but as you all well know it is always great to get home. A friend once said that she was so glad to go on a stress free vacation but when she got home the stress was all there waiting for her. So true. One thing that I have learned that helps is that before I leave on vacation I take a bit of time to clean my house. You know it gets messy and disorganized with packing and everything and I hate having that mess to come home too. So if I just take a minute and vacuum and get the dishes done and laundry done before I leave then I have that much less to worry about coming home. Really helps to walk into a nice clean home. Anyway we are back and I haven't slowed down at all. I don't mind really. I love to keep busy. Here are a few pictures from vacation. I will add others here and there. I also have a couple of tutorials to post as well. So stay tuned.
Small fry at the lake. The water was not warm by any means but she loved it. Made me think back to my childhood when we took swimming lessons at the lake (rain or shine). What kind of parents would slather their kids in baby oil so they wouldn't catch the "itch" and send em off for swimming lessons in a cold lake? Bing Bing Bing- mine and many others in Saskatchewan.
Cook out at the lake. Don't worry that is an abandoned fire pit she is sitting in, not the one we used.
4th of July on the road
Wearing Uncle Daniel's boots
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Jul 3, 2009

Taking a little vacation

Tomorrow we are leaving on a little vacation to Canada to visit my parents and brother and sister in law. I can't wait for small fry to get to explore Grammy and Grandpa Sam's farm and have access to as much dirt and mud as she can possible handle. So I will be taking a break for a few weeks from posting. My parents do have the internet but they live in the middle of nowhere and it is really slow. I may give it a try but if not I will be back with a few new tutorials and some vacation pics at the end of the month. Happy July everyone.
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A new inspiring blog and gift inspiration

I wanted to quickly share a link to a new blog I found The Creative Crate. I am always glad to stumble upon another inspiring lady with tons of great creative ideas. She had a quick and easy wooden sign idea that she made for a gift that got me thinking that I could do something just like that myself. So this week with a birthday gift and a wedding gift to make I thought I would try out the idea. I used my mother in laws Cricut to cut out the vinyl letters. The hardest part of the project was getting my husband to cut the wood for me :) (love you honey).

Birthday gift for a new mommy.
Wedding gift.
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Baking tidbits

Just wanted to share a few random baking/food tidbits that have been floating around in my head. Have you ever individually quick froze anything? You know where you chop something up or wash berries then spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them and then package them so they come out individually like when you buy them from the store and not all in one huge icy clump? Well I saw a blog post about this and even though I had done it before I was re inspired to try again. It sure makes things so much easier and I think really allows you to maximize the use of your freezer. Well anyway I have been freezing cookie dough in little balls, chopped peppers from our garden, broccoli from our garden and then I decided to try muffins. You know when muffins are the best? Right out of the oven. The tops are crunchy and the bottoms are airy. I always hate making a big batch of muffins and then having left overs that get worse with each passing day. And yes I know that you can freeze already baked muffins but when it is thawed it is still not like when it is first baked. So I gave it a try. I am sure this is not a newsflash to anyone, just me catching up to the rest of the world. Here's what I did.
First I made my muffin batter as I normally would. I put part into one muffin tin and baked them for breakfast. The other part I portioned out into another tin with liners in it. Then I put the whole thing in the freezer to harden. When the muffins were frozen (a few hours later) I pulled them out and put them in a FoodSaver bag and sealed them. (P.S. I love my Foodsaver. I use it almost everyday and I love how nice my frozen food products are without all the added moisture and air). Here is what they looked like.
They kind of got smooshed when the air was all sucked out of the bag but I didn't think it would hurt them.
Then this morning I took out a few muffins to bake. I put them in my pan while they were frozen (I am sure you could do this ahead of time and let them thaw partially) then I baked them at their regular temp (only it took about 25 minutes to bake instead of 15.)

And here are the final product. They turned out exactly like they do without being frozen. I am so excited about this. No more wasted muffins. Now I can bake exactly as many as I need. One side note. I tried this with another recipe (the batter was slightly runnier than this batter) and once the muffins were frozen in the pan I could not get the liners out. I am not sure what has happened. I just left them in the pan and will bake the whole thing at once. I hope this is not a common occurrence. Let me know if you have ever tried this and had that happen to you. Otherwise give this a try.

Second tidbit. Have you ever baked with powdered eggs? I got a can of pasteurized dried eggs because it was on my food storage list and I have seen a lot of good looking recipes using dried eggs at everydayfoodstorage.net, I just haven't ever gotten around to trying to cook with them. This week however as we are getting ready to leave on vacation I was trying to avoid buying eggs and yet had baking to do so I decided to try out the dried eggs. Oh my goodness, how fantastic is this stuff? It was really easy to substitute into recipes, and I really think my muffins and cookies came out better because of it. Even if you don't want to get any for food storage the ease and convenience of dried eggs is worth getting some. And the best part is you can eat as much cookie dough as you want and let your kids eat it to without worrying about food borne illnesses of any kind. I am sold on dried eggs for baking.

Third tidbit. How do you feel about potlucks? I love the concept; everyone sharing, getting together and eating in a group, a lot of variety etc etc. But in general I am totally turned off by potlucks. Why? Well you never know who brought what, what is in the dish exactly, has it been refrigerated properly or kept hot enough, is there something in it that I am allergic too. Well I had a brilliant idea to help alleviate some of the guess work out of potlucks and hopefully make everything seem more appealing. Wouldn't it help if each person bringing a dish were asked to print up a little card that says what their dish is and what the ingredients are and possibly their name and display that along side whatever they brought. This way you know what you are getting and what is in it and even who to go to for questions or recipes or rave reviews. Now why am I sharing this? Well if we all start doing this or suggesting the idea where ever we live perhaps slowly there will be a potluck transformation in the nation and we can all dine more comfortably. I guarantee I am doing this with the next thing I take to a potluck. I really think it will make a difference.
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