Hi there!

Hey – Long time no write! Unfortunately I have been busy trying to catch up on missed practice from my summer break so I have not had time to post… however, I am happy to share that I have some changes coming to the blog soon – yay!

In the way of food, I have some recipes I am eager to share with you and can’t wait until I get back in the swing of things and can start posting on a (hopefully) regular basis.
Also, I tried this awesome recipe for s’more ice cream this week and wanted to share the link with you so you too can gain weight enjoy this tasty treat!

S’more Ice Cream.

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Now in the way of some randomness, I have been nominated (by two different people) for the Liebster Award! In short, the Liebster Award is something that is passed along through different bloggers with a following of 200 or less – it’s a way to get to know some of your fellow bloggers – fun, huh?
I don’t know if I can do this or not, but since I was nominated by two people, I am going to answer both sets of questions.

Thanks to my sister Shelbi from the Nobby Life and Katherine from Katherine’s Corner for the nomination!

1…2….3…. here I go!

Questions from the Nobby Life:

1. What do you consider the most enchanting place you’ve ever visited?
I think I would have to go with Mystic, CT. I have the fondest memories of Mystic and the other surrounding areas I have visited while there such as Niantic, Madison, New Haven, Newport, RI – to name a few. While I have never lived in Mystic, I have spent a lot of time there and long to go back!

2. What is your favorite travel accessory?
My iPod, does that count?

3. What is your worst airline/airport experience?
Oh gosh, I try to think about this experience as little as possible, but once when going through security a TSA agent pulled me aside. I don’t exactly remember what the problem was, but obviously it was just something that was questionable in my suitcase. Anyway, to make a not really long but painful story short, I misheard the agent and thought she told me to follow her (I thought I was going to get the pat down!) and started heading towards the OTHER side of the conveyer belt (where the luggage comes through). As I was doing so, I heard someone calling out: ma’am! ma’am! what are you doing? I think I was heading towards a restricted area! Oh yes, I was soo embarresed…

4. What is your favorite food to consume when on the road?
I’m actually not sure, but one of my favorite snacks when in need of sustenance is a chocolate chip Cliff Bar. They are really satisfying and great to carry around!

5. How many bags do you typically pack?
I’m by no means a light packer, but after seeing the way some other people pack, I realize I’m not the heaviest either! 2 bags is usually the norm for me.

6. Hotel, hostel, B&B, tent, or a couch in a stranger’s home?
It depends on how long I am staying somwhere, but a B&B or hotel are always going to be first choices for me – for longer stays I prefer to rent a house/cabin/cottage, but I am NOT interested in satying in a stranger’s home or a big fan of staying with anyone other than who I am traveling with (which has always been family). When you stay with people (especially strangers) you don’t have the freedom to relax and be your natural self as you do when staying elsewhere. However, sometimes staying with people you know (like, really know) can be fun too, it’s just not my first choice!

7. Coffee or tea?
Tea!

Now for the questions from Katherine:

1) What are you currently reading?
A Damsel In Distress, by P.G. Wodehouse.

2) If you could meet anyone in the world (real or fictional) who would it be and why?
I really can’t think of anybody off hand… but I wouldn’t mind having a conversation with one of the great pianists – Martha Argerich, maybe?

3) What movie have you enjoyed more than the book?
I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a movie MORE than the book. However, when reading Pride and Prejudice, I couldn’t help but think of how all the actors/actresses were so perfectly cast in the 1995 TV version!

4) What are 3 random facts about you?
1. I think just about anything I do with my family is the best.
2. I love to travel.
3. I love the ocean and have a fascination with the creatures that live beneath the water. Sometimes I think I would like to be a marine biologist and don’t mind taking kids to the aquarium as it gives me an excuse to go as well! shh…

5) Do you finish a book you hate, or stop and put it down?

I actually can’t think of a book that I hated… but if I were reading one and hated it, I would probably put it down.

6) What is your favourite food?
Anything chocolate and waffles.

7) What three items would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
1. A LONG book (like War & Peace or Le Miserables)
2. A mister to keep cool
3. A book on edible plants 😉

8) If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?
My family would probably say a sloth… 😉 I do love my beauty sleep!

9) What is your favourite book of all time?
Do I have to name just one?? Pride and Prejudice.

10) Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what?
I have sometimes while waiting for my brother in piano lessons, but I don’t usually.

11) Which character would you love to be and why?
That is a tough question… maybe one of the children from Edward Eager’s series of magic books (such as Half Magic) – childhood favorites of mine.

Well, that was… interesting! Just a warning that I do not know 11 bloggers to nominate, but…

I nominate:
Consumption Curiosity & Travel For Taste 

Here are my questions (I’m going with a music and food theme here):

1. What is your favorite genre of music?
2. If you could play any musical instrument (if you already do, pick a second… or third or fourth ;)) what would it be?

If you are not into classical music, you can skip this next one…

3. If you could star in an opera, which one would it be?
4. Favorite food?
5. Name one food you can’t bear the thought of eating?
6. Chocolate or vanilla?
7. If you could pick one music hall to visit, which would it be?
8. Coffee, hot chocolate, or tea?
9. If you had to spend the rest of your life eating just one food, what would it be?
10. Do you like to listen to music while in the kitchen?
11. Favorite cuisine?

Have fun!

Easy & Inexpensive Summer Activities For Kids, part 4

A few snapshots from my July, starting from above left: flip flops, a summer staple, top right: frozen pink punch, who wouldn't want that on a hot day? Bottom left: an epic failure I made for Independence day - there may be a post about it coming soon, and bottom right: taking in a ballgame  is always a highlight!

A few snapshots from my July, starting from above left: flip flops, a summer staple, top right: frozen pink punch, who wouldn’t want that on a hot day? Bottom left: an epic failure I made for Independence Day – there may be a post about it coming soon, and bottom right: taking in a ballgame is always a highlight!

Well, August is finally upon us, and around this time every year I begin to see hope for some relief from the hot weather not too far away. Although, I really can’t complain as this year has been one of the mildest summers I think I have ever experienced. Still…

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To continue with my series of easy and inexpensive activities for kids, lets make a popcorn cake, shall we?

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This is a cake I think just about any child (and adult!) would love; popcorn, gumdrops, peanuts, and melted marshmallows; it sounds like a creation fresh out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

With minimal effort, you can have this cake ready to eat in no time – which is good, unless you happen to have/know a child with an unusual amount of patience!

Oh by the way, a big bonus is no use of the oven needed!

Enjoy!

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Notes:

~ Please do not make the mistake I did, and end up with a popcorn + kernel cake… I used the microwave kind of popcorn and wasn’t sure how I would sift out the kernels so they ended up in the cake! :/ Yeah, that’s me…no worries though, my nieces never ate the actual cake, just some of the leftover mixture which the kernels could be picked out of – but lesson learned: don’t use the microwave kind of popcorn! (and yes, I’m sure it was sheer stupidity to use it in the first place…)

 

Popcorn Cake

With a mixture of popcorn, gumdrops, and melted marshmallows, this is a sure pleaser!

Ingredients

4 quarts popped corn

1 pound small gumdrops

1/2 pound salted peanuts (totally optional, I left them out!)

1/2 C. (1 stick) butter

1/2 C. vegetable oil

1 pound marshmallows

Multi-colored sprinkles, optional

Directions

In a large bowl, combine popcorn, gumdrops and peanuts (you may have to use your hands).

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter, oil and marshmallows until marshmallows are thoroughly melted and mixture is smooth.

Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn/candy mixture. Stir (again, you may have to use your hands some) until combined.

Place in a generously (and I do mean GENEROUSLY) buttered tube/bundt pan.

Once the mixture has cooled, turn out onto a serving plate.

Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Must be prepared the same day it is served.

Serves 12

Easy & Inexpensive Summer Activities For Kids, part 3

 

 

Could you get much more fun than slime, glow-in-the-dark no less?

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Two weeks ago when my nieces were over, we put this together and had lots of fun doing it!  Such a cool, inexpensive idea and  –  the best part is… they loved it!  I had been looking at this project for a little while and after having made glow-in-the-dark jellyfish the previous week, I decided to use some leftover paint from that to make the slime. At first I was a bit apprehensive as to whether or not this project would be easy, but once you have everything together you really couldn’t get much easier.

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Here are the supplies that are needed:

Borax

Water

 Glue

• Glow-in-the-dark paint

• Neon Food Coloring 

• Popsicle sticks

• Mixing bowls

Bottle for mixing borax/water solution

Those are the supplies that were originally called for, but I didn’t have some of them (like clear glue or neon food coloring), so here is what I used:

 Borax

•Water 

• Regular craft glue

2 different colors of glow-in-the-dark paint

Paper straws (for stirring)

• Spray bottle (for the water/borax solution)

• Candy cups (for mixing bowls)

Using these as opposed to the original supplies worked out just fine and if you have colored glow-in-the-dark paint like I did, then you can eliminate the food coloring!

Making this was so easy and fun, not to mention taking it into a dark room and watching it glow…

Enjoy!

Glow-in-the-dark slime tutorial

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Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the actual slime – couldn’t get a good one! 

Easy & Inexpensive Summer Activities For Kids, Part 2

Okay, so I am really beginning to wonder where all of these cool crafts were when I was younger, especially ones like this weeks craft: glow in the dark jellyfish!

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As a kid (and I must confess that this has not changed…) I was enthralled with octopus, squid, jellyfish, and just about any sea creature in general. I mean, one of my biggest dreams was to see a live octopus… or bigger yet, a giant squid! so you can imagine that even though these are not octopus or squid, how excited I would have been to put together a craft like this. Anyway…

This craft is super fun, super cute, super easy, and CHEAP. As I have mentioned before, please visit the website for a step-by-step tutorial, but just to give you an idea these are all the materials that are needed (and again, there is a good chance that you probably already have some of them):

~ heavy-weight paper bowls
~ white yarn
~ glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint (under $3 for a 2 oz bottle of Folkart paint)
~ paint brushes and painting supplies
~ scissors
~ zipper sandwich bags
~ skewer or sharp pencil

We got three different colors of paint: pink, yellow, and green. While my nieces were doing something else, I set everything out, cut the yarn and divided it between different bags (each girl got three bags, one for every color). Then when they were ready, I put some paint in each bag and let them “squish” away! Then, while I went to hang the yarn outside to dry, I let them paint their bowls.

The great thing about this Texas sun and heat is that when you hang something wet outside, it’s dry in a flash!

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To get to the point and not bore you with details of what exactly we did, this craft is really a great one for kids of many ages (my nieces ages span from 6 to 3) and is not too time consuming. Plus, I think they would be great to hang up in a bedroom or playroom!

Glow In The Dark Jellyfish Tutorial

Enjoy!

Aunties secret: mommies make homemade juice popscicles, aunties BUY juice (um, natural of course… 🙂 ) and stick it in the popsicle molds.Voila! No muss, no fuss, and the kids are just as happy! 😛

Easy & Inexpensive Summer Activities For Kids, Part 1

Everybody needs things to do with kids, especially in the summer, right? And I’m not even necessarily talking about things just for mommies; I’m also talking grandparents, aunts, uncles, or any person spending some time with kids and in need of some fun and (big bonus!) cheap things to do. I am an aunt who currently babysits her three nieces every week, so you can imagine my interest in finding some fun, easy, and inexpensive things that they will enjoy doing with minimal stress on the adult party!

During my searches, I have been very happy to find activities that have fit into these categories, so each week that I (or my Mom, sister, or brothers for that matter!) do a new activity with my nieces, I will try to post it along with a link. Please don’t expect any good pictures however, as most likely any pictures will be taken in the moment with a phone/iPad. 🙂

I hope you find these crafts/activities just as helpful as my family has – some of them can be quite fun – where were these things when I was a kid??

The craft I want to share with you this week is rather genius and I was wondering who came up with this idea (whoever you are, thank you!). It is simple, quick, and inexpensive as you most likely already have most (if not all) of the supplies needed. The craft I am referring to is sandpaper art t-shirts. This activity is great for kids of all ages and is especially good if the child loves to draw. All it involves is white t-shirts, crayons, sandpaper, paper towels, and an iron.

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Don’t you just love it when you are reading a tutorial for a craft for kids on a mommy/crafting blog and they always look so perfect? Well don’t be fooled, this right here is the real deal! Hey, that actually looks like a child’s drawing on that t-shirt…

Basically, (these are not the detailed instructions, so please visit the website for a step by step tutorial) what you are going to do is, have the kids draw on a piece of sandpaper and then (you the adult) iron it on to the white t-shirt. How simple is that?

Sandpaper art t-shirt tutorial.

Here is also another (tasty!) activity that is inexpensive and so easy for kids – check it out! Although, be sure to explain it better than I did – my nieces ended up eating the pretzels fondue style: dip, eat, repeat…

Enjoy!

What are some fun, easy, and inexpensive crafts/activities you like to do with kids? I would love some new ideas!

Sempre Dolce in NYC

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I just got back  last week two weeks ago from a whirlwind trip to NYC and it was amazing! Let me tell you a little about it:

I went to New York to play in a winners recital (this competition here)  at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall – I wanted to hop over and see Louis Lortie who was playing in Stern Auditorium that same evening) and while I was there tried out some eats, however nothing really worth writing about – like I said, it was a whirlwind trip. However, it is amazing how much of NYC one can see in 24 hours! One place we ate at that is worth writing about however, is Alice’s Tea Cup. It was really good and quite a fun experience as well. Each one of us (my Mom, sister and my cousin, we left my brothers to find some place to eat on their own…) tried something different and of course we each had tea. As mentioned before, it was an enjoyable experience from the way the tea is served (you get your own teapot), to the cute tea cups, to the food itself; this place is definitely worth trying if you are visiting NYC . Another place would be this French bakery my siblings went to without me – I was on a plane. Oh my. The lemon and chocolate tarts were to die for! Another must for a visit. We also made it by the Magnolia bakery and aside from the chocolate cheesecake and lemonade (although it was slightly over sweet, but still good though) there was nothing really worth bragging about. The chocolate cake was good, but nothing that couldn’t be made at home. The flourless chocolate cake was a flourless chocolate cake (I love flourless chocolate cake, but this one just wasn’t anything, again, that couldn’t be made at home) and a little dry at that. I had heard the cupcakes were a close rival to Sprinkles Cupcakes, but truthfully I didn’t quite see that quality in them – don’t get me wrong, they were good and I have had FAR worse cupcakes, but I still like Sprinkles and maybe even Hey Cupcake in Austin better.

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Other than eating, one highlight of the trip was Central Park. I know, how touristy can you get, right? I am not a big fan of doing the touristy stuff on vacation (like please, please do not go to Times Square – trust me)  but Central Park is an exception. I must confess it is different than I imagined. I always envisioned a large city park (maybe somewhat like the Boston Commons?), but this was like park meets nature. In the middle of the city. Lots of fun to be found there (if I had more time I would have liked to have tried the row boats :)). Another highlight (if you can call this a highlight, maybe I am easily amused?) was riding around in taxis for the first time. Unlike Boston, where the subway is pretty easy to figure out and for visitors preferable, I found walking or taking a taxi easier and less confusing (although I must confess that I did not even try to take the subway. My brothers did however and they confirmed that fact). But regardless, riding in taxis was fun (other than the fact that they are costly… but it’s New York, right?) as it reminded me of the old classic movies I love to watch so much. By the way, you know you are a big classic movie enthusiast (I am too; I do not often watch movies that were made past the 1950’s) , when you go around NYC thinking of all the movies that take place there and even quoting some lines as well. 🙂

Anyway, I had a wonderful 24 hours in NYC and can’t wait to go back someday. So with that said, on to other subjects.

I am posting another brownie recipe that I think you will love, but before you kill me for providing yet another brownie recipe, let me give you a little announcement:

I partially chose to post a brownie recipe today because it helps (or maybe a better way to put it would be that posting another brownie recipe is helping) give me an introduction to my new Brownie Of The Week (isn’t that just a brilliant name?) post that I will be doing every other week or twice a month. As you can tell and as I have stated before, brownies really excite me, so the idea of the many combinations that I can and am going to be fooling around with just excites me all the more. I hope you enjoy this venture of mine – I can’t wait to start!

Below are some of my creations thus far.

On this particular brownie recipe:

There is nothing that I did here that is much different from the original recipe except to add another source of chocolate. I added these. I know it’s past Easter and due to my lateness in posting this, you may not even have any left, but it is a good way to use up any extra candy coated chocolate Easter eggs you might have. I used the Hershey ones and they turned out really awesome! I mean, really awesome. So if you do manage to have any extra Hershey (or similar) chocolate candy eggs left or you stocked up when the Easter candy went on sale, then make these. Enough said. Make them, you won’t be disappointed; even my niece who can be a picky eater liked them, they’re that good!

Cottura felice!

Notes:

~ You want to let the brownies cool before eating but if you want the ultimate chocolatey experience, then I highly recommend eating them while they are still somewhat warm. You won’t regret it!

 

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 Easter Brownies  

For the brownies

1 C. ( 2 sticks ) butter, melted
3 C. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 C. all – purpose flour
1 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 C. semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 to 3/4 bag Hershey candy coated chocolate eggs

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 x 13 in. baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Using a whisk ( or mixer ), add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Gradually, using a spatula, add the flour mixture to the egg mixture using a little bit of a folding motion until thoroughly combined.

Stir in chocolate chips and chocolate eggs.

Pour batter into prepared dish and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until moist crumbs stick to a toothpick when inserted.

Transfer brownies to a wire rack to cool.

 Barely adapted from Brooke’s Best Bombshell Brownies

What do you do on the opening day of baseball?

 

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You have a party, of course!

Yes, my entire family and I are big baseball fans… so you can only imagine the excitement that comes with opening day. Of course, one would much rather be at the game, but hey, having a party is fun too and you get better quality food, in my opinion.

The fact that these are red, white, and blue is just merely a coincidence - we weren't trying to match the rangers colors - really!

The fact that these are red, white, and blue is just merely a coincidence – we weren’t trying to match the Rangers colors – really!

 

During the baseball season, we try to make as many games as possible. And going to a game inevitably means that you are going to get food as well. Up until last year, our ballpark (Globe Life Park in Arlington – go Rangers!!) didn’t have much to offer in the way of food other than your normal ballpark fare and a few special dishes. Last year however, the ballpark got some renovations and with them came some food upgrades! ( give me a break, for a foodie this aspect is almost as important as the game 😉 ) One of the upgrades being the most amazing bucket of chips I have ever had! These came from a concession called The Chipper (here is a link – it’s photo #12 – so you get the general idea. Unfortunately they do not look nearly as good in the pictures as they do in person, so if you are wondering why I think these appetizing, I can’t blame you – just trust me though). What The Chipper has to offer is a bucket of fresh fried kettle chips with various toppings and meats. One of the ones we like to get is topped with queso blanco, brisket, pico di gallo, and sour cream. It really isn’t one of those disgusting dishes, it’s just loaded! And, it’s the best deal you are going to get for $11 at a ballpark as the bucket is huge, the chips rich, and easily shared between a party of six. Anyway, now that  you have an idea of one of the dishes, I can get on with the rest of the party!

 

For a baseball party you need baseball fare, right? Right. So for our little celebration, we made our own version of Chippers using 3 varieties of  of chips, a homemade white queso, sour cream, pico, and brisket. We also deviated a little from the ballpark fare and had – remember that luscious chocolate peanut butter cake? – chocolate peanut butter cupcakes! We also had freshly squeezed raspberry lemonade, but it was ruined by my forgetting to add in the sugar – bitter lemon juice anyone?

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Despite the Texas Rangers losing to the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday for opening day, it was still fun and the food superb! So take note: next year, if you too are at home for the opening day/night of baseball, I would highly recommend a baseball watching/listening party for sure! Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, it’s an excuse to have a party right?

If you are interested in making these chips as well, here is how:

Copycat Chippers Chips

Kettle or tortilla chips of your choice -we used Kettle brand Salt and Pepper, Terra Potpourri chips, and blue corn tortilla chips

Regular or white queso without sausage – I highly recommend this recipe

Meat of your choice: chicken, brisket, taco meat work well

Pico di gallo

Sour cream

 

Place desired amount of chips in individual bowls and top with any of the above toppings – enjoy!