Aug 25, 2010

Onesie Preview

Lest anyone think I am completely buried in zucchini's and don't have time for much else, I thought I would post a preview of some onesies I have been working on for my Melon Days booth. For the girl ones I made matching flowers. I still have to make head bands to go with them. I am thinking of making the ones out of nylons.
Flower Power
Flip Flops
More Melon Days previews to come as I sort through everything I have made. If you see anything you like and would like to be the first to buy let me know.

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Aug 22, 2010

This mommy needs some help

I am sending out this post to all the mothers who have walked the treacherous road of potty training before me for help and advice. I was planning on reading a book or something before this all began but it kind of came upon me suddenly and I am feeling somewhat unprepared and a bit like I am in a dream (possibly a trance as I am on pins and needles at every moment waiting for the next time small fry needs to pee and can't seem to even relax-not even to sleep). So here is where we are at and what I need some advice about:
-she has the pee in the little potty thing down I would say 90% of the time-maybe even 95% of the time if she doesn't have on panties. Put the panties on and the success rate seems to drop. I am fine with her running around without the panties but I don't know if that is giving her the idea that she will never have to get dressed below the waist again (which right now I think would be fine with her). So I am not sure how we make the transition. She wears panties to sleep.
-poop is a hit or miss affair despite the fabulous basket of prizes I have. We have had 2 happen in the potty on her own free will and 3 happen in other locations. Not sure how to conquer that beast.
-this is my biggest unknown-the night. What do we do at night. Since I am not using pull ups I have just been putting her in panties at night and she actually can sleep almost through the whole night with a dry bed and underwear (I know because I wake up 50 bizzilion times to check) until like 4 am when I have finally drifted off to sleep and then she comes running to say she has to pee but she has already wet the bed and then finishes in the potty. Should I wake her up in the night and have her pee? I try and reduce drinks before bed but she is used to drinking a "BIG BIG" (as she calls it) drink always before bed so it is easier said than done. Is this normal? Will I just be washing her bedding every morning for the next month or what?
Does anyone have any advice that might help? I have read other blogs with tons of potty training advice-I am just hoping someone out there can offer some words of encouragement/insight to help us on this path of unknowns. What a fun stage of parenthood.
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Confessions of an amateur canner part 2

Last year I blogged about my first experience canning peaches-the stress, the phone calls home to my mother, the unkind feelings I had towards my husband while he was off hunting leaving me with a baby and a sink full of peaches to try and bottle. Well this year has brought a new set of firsts-my first experience with a pressure canner. Let me just say that I have wanted a pressure canner for a while, and I grew up around one but I have been scared to death of it since I got it last Christmas and haven't dared to even try it. But beans were my motivation (my little girls love beans). I have a ton of dry pinto beans that I need to do something with. I have posted before my lack of success with cooking them into anything more than a crunchy bean mess so when my friend and a neighbor told me it was super easy to can dry beans with a pressure canner I knew I had to conquer my fears.
So first you have to soak your beans overnight. My instructions told me about 3 pounds of dry beans. My beans are in a large bucket and I had no way of knowing how much 3 pounds was (hence the need for a kitchen scale for Christmas hint hint) so I just put a bunch in a pot and covered them with water. Well I think I overestimated. They just kept growing and growing and soon filled a second pot and soon filled a large metal bowl as well. Oops. Next you have to rinse your beans and cover them with fresh water and bring them to a boil and boil for 30 minutes. If you have ever boiled dry beans you may know that they make this lovely foam stuff-that tends to boil over when your pot is as full as mine was which by the way when burned onto your burner smells just like cigarette smoke. After your 30 minutes is up you put a 1/2 tsp of salt into pint jars (1 tsp of salt if you are using quarts) fill jars with beans and cooking liquid, adjust lids and process in pressure canner for 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts at 10 lbs pressure for my altitude (you would want to check and see what pressure you would use where you live). So I got my first batch in my canner and put the canner lid on and turned up my heat and read and reread my instruction manual 4 times. I was to let the canner vent steam for 10 minutes. I watch vigilantly for the steam, set the timer and keep a very close eye to make sure the steam is "steady" as my manual tells me. Then I am supposed to place my pressure gauge on top, increase my heat and wait for the gauge to "start a gentle rocking motion". This probably makes total sense to the people who wrote the manual to go with the pressure canner but to a first timer like myself I had no idea what I was looking for, how long it would take to get there or what to expect my canner to do along the way. As the pressure was building I swear that silver pot looked like it was going to take off and shoot around the room out of control at any minute. It was spitting water, steaming, sounding like it was ready to blast off. I finally had to call my mom to get some reassurance. She wasn't able to help me know if it was in fact ready to explode or totally normal over the phone but it did take my mind off it long enough for me to stop watching my "pot boil" and when I turned around to look again sure enough the pressure gauge was rocking gently, the canner did not shoot off into the backyard nor outer space and after 75 minutes and the proper cool down time I was left with these beauties:
Well this is after 2 canner loads, with a third one taking it's turn in the silver rocket (my new affectionate name for my pressure canner) as I took the picture. Turns out it really is pretty easy-once you understand the tricks of the trade.
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Aug 20, 2010

Mommy deserves some potty pennies

Yes people, this would be small fry with her first poop in her potty (you can think less of me for posting it if you want but it is a fact of life). This morning I was thinking, "I wonder how I am supposed to tell when she is ready to potty train?" Well I got my answer. Who knew today would be the day. Not me, not with daddy out of town and a trip to the park planned. But she said she wanted to try the potty and I thought, "oh gads, here we go again." We have been down this road a few times in the last couple of weeks. She pees once and then all over the house after that. But this time she just kept on peeing right in that little pot. We would do the pee dance (jump up and down hysterically), then march to dump the pee into the big toilet, then wash hands, then march back to get potty pennies, then hitchicoo's down the hall to put the pennies in her piggy bank and hitchicoo's back to the kitchen, call a relative and wait to repeat it all again. And I mean I had already promised a walk to the park so now what was I going to do? What any other mom would do-put that potty right in the stroller with us and take it to the park to and set it up right there just in case-that's what. I have up'd the treat promises, broken out the M&M's and potty danced my buns off. Then this evening she said her tummy hurt-AKA she has to poop. I knew from reading comments on other blogs this could be a beast, but I got her to do her little crouch on top of the potty and low and behold she did it. I must have said, "HOLY MOLY" after she was done because until she went to sleep she kept saying she wanted to do another holy moly. Let me just say, I am more exhausted than I have been in months. The constant vigil, the dancing, jumping, hitchicooing down the hall, keeping little pumpkin off the potty and keeping small fry wanting to try the potty- I am thinking there should be a prize basket for mommy some where so that I can pick out a little toy, sucker or some M&M's. What a day. But I am not turning back now.
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Aug 19, 2010


I have been trying some new recipes lately-many with zucchini-and some without. I thought I would pass along a few of my favs. There is nothing better than a good recommendation to go along with a recipe; and you can trust me on these.

1. Baked corn on the cob. My friend Tovah told me about this but I hate to admit it but, I couldn't believe it was actually possible and ended up looking it up on-line just to make sure. The easiest way to cook corn ever (just have to plan ahead a bit). All you do is take your cobs (I trimmed a bit of the hairy stuff [you know the brown stuff on top-has a technical name that doesn't really matter to most common folk] off) and throw (or place gently) them in your oven-yep right on the rack and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. DONE!!! Take em out and those babies peel like nobodies business-hairy stuff and all. DELICIOUS. Serve with butter of course.

2. Zucchini Brownies (here is the link to the recipe). I was searching to find zucchini recipes and came across this one. I read some of the reviews and decided it was worth a try. I was skeptical while making them (could they really be as good as some people said) but HOLY MOLY they are delicious (regardless of the lack of expression or comment from those whom you feed them to). They are moist and chocolaty. The frosting is excellent. Now when you are mixing them before you add the zuc. you will basically have a dryish mess of ingredients that doesn't look like it could possibly turn into anything resembling a brownie but take my word for it-they will work. SIDE NOTE: when reading the reviews two in particular stuck out. One was from a lady who said that she didn't think this recipe was all that great, of course she had omitted half the sugar, substituted applesauce for the oil and used whole wheat flour instead of allpurpose. Well duh lady, I can tell you why you didn't think the recipe was all that great. It is a brownie for heavens sake not a health food bar. Second was the lady who commented that these weren't all that healthy for you just because you add zucchini to them. Once again I say, "duh-it's a brownie. Last time I looked, though I would love it to be, I have not seen them on the health food list." Just cause I am putting zucchini in it doesn't make me think it is now a health food. The way I look at it is, if I am going to scarf a half a pan of brownies it might as well be ones with some "vegetables" in them.

3. Cheesy Chicken and Potato Casserole. (link here) This is a great recipe to make on a night when you don't really feel like cooking. I always see those boxes of scalloped potatoes at the grocery store (the kind my mom would shun as being terrible and horrible) but they are also cheap and get this mom, they don't taste half bad. Buy a couple of them next time you see them on sale and make this recipe. Easy and delicious, creamy and cheesy. Serve with a steamed veggie on the side and you have it made. I don't think it is necessary to add 4 extra potatoes sliced. I have never added them at all and the meal turns out fine and really creamy.
4. This is not a recipe but I might as well just add it here. My new favorite cracker/snack. These bad boys. They are the perfect combination of Ritz cracker and pretzel (two of my favorite things to eat with cheese).
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Easy Mini Blueberry Pies

Here's a quick and easy idea. I had some extra blueberries to use up and wanted to make some mini pies. I didn't want to make pie crust but I had some sugar cookie dough in the freezer I needed to use up. I let it thaw and then rolled it out to a 1/4 inch thickness. I used my biscuit cutter to cut 12 pieces. I sprayed the cups in a muffin pan and then placed each cookie piece in a muffin cup and pressed it down into the bottom to form a little cup. I made a simple blueberry pie filling by adding some sugar, flour, and cinnamon to my blueberries and spooned this into the cups. You could use premade pie filling or precooked pie filling too. Then I baked them at 350 for about 15-18 minutes (long enough for the cookie cups to get brown and the pie filling to cook). This is how they turned out. This is how I ate mine-with a dollop of whip cream on top
This is how my husband ate his-with a huge mound of mint chocolate chip ice cream along side.
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Aug 11, 2010

Aug 8, 2010

Burp Cloth Cupcakes Revisited

Last year I brought you these (via this guest post on U-Create). They are burp cloths that I turned into cupcakes. The cuteness serves no purpose other than to be cute and jazz up something ordinarily plain like a burp cloth.
Well this year I have revisited the idea, enlarged it and simplified it and I think the result is just as cute. 

So here is what you do.
First: start with a burp cloth- mine measures 15 and 7/8 inches long, 9 1/2 inches at the widest parts (the top and bottom) and 8 1/2 inches in the middle. Basically I took my former burp cloth pattern and traced it an inch bigger on the sides but left the height the same. I wanted my cupcakes to have some bulk to them. I made these from store bought receiving blankets. They are flannel on both sides. I am sure you could try the idea with any kind of burp cloth, just some kinds will work better than others (let me know what you try, will be interesting to see).
Second: to make the cupcake start by folding the sides of the burp cloth in to the middle, overlapping slightly like this.
Third: fold in half, lengthwise and press with an iron (or don't if you are like me and hate all things ironing).
Fourth: starting at one end, roll up the burp cloth like a jelly roll only don't make it too tight. Place your roll inside 2 jumbo cupcake liners. I found that 2 has more stability than one. These cost like $2.30 at Wally world so you won't break the bank.
Fifth: wrap the cupcake liners up around the burp cloth and secure with a rubber band.
Sixth: tie with a ribbon (being sure to use a ribbon thick enough to cover the rubber band). Side note: I went looking for satin ribbon at Michael's and they had it but it was $3.99 a roll which I decided I needed to buy anyway cause I needed it for this project, but then when I was at my favorite big blue store I found this fat grosgrain ribbon for $1.79 for 18 feet and I was like "heck ya, this will work for that price" and I actually really like how it looks. And there you have it folks a cute little burp cloth cupcake.
Now last year a reader suggested giving my original creations as a gift in a muffin tin. I found these 6 count tins at the dollar store and look how cute!!!. I plan on spray painting the tins (I think). Isn't that a fun baby shower gift? I suppose if I didn't spray the tins, then the recipient could make use of the tin for baking. I am planning on selling these in my melon days booth. I am going to use the tins for display and sell the burp cloths individually and let people pick and choose to make their own sets as well as have some sets premade.
Here is the girl version.
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Aug 3, 2010

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

If you are like me then maybe this year when you were planting your garden you said "last year my zucchini plants didn't grow a single thing and I am not letting that happen to me this year," so you planted 4 plants instead of 1 and if you are like me then all of your zucchini plants are healthy, robust, zucchini producing machines and you are therefore desperate for any recipes to help you use up your ever growing pile of green. Well if you are like me then you will like this newest recipe I just discovered: Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Blueberry Zucchini Bread
3 cups flour (I use 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups all purpose)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups peeled and grated zucchini
1 cup blueberries
Grease your loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients. (I sift mine as I am adding them). Stir until combined. Your batter will be very thick and you will double check the recipe to see if you missed something but let me assure you that as soon as you add the zucchini it will be plenty moist. Stir in zucchini and blueberries. Pour into pans. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (well that is how long it takes in my oven.). Cool in pan on a rack for 20 mins. Turn out and cool completely. The top is crunchy, the inside moist. I add a few extra blueberries. It is so delicious. Another yummy way to use zucchini.
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