There’s No Nuts in Nutella!

Ok there are actually nuts in Nutella, but it doesn’t taste like there are, and that’s all that is important in our household.  Neither Eric nor I like peanuts or walnuts or cashews.  It’s actually pretty surprising that Eric likes peanut butter (which I don’t).  However we both love Nutella, so when I decided that I wanted to make ice cream, Nutella ice cream seemed liked something we’d both enjoy.  By the way, be prepared for lots more ice cream recipes as we move through the summer.  I love my ice cream maker plus in my mind, if I make it, it’s not nearly as fattening! 🙂

All the steps towards making the ice cream.

All the steps towards making the ice cream.

I made a recipe found here because it wasn’t just a smooth ice cream but is “crunchy” as well.  Compared to some of the ice creams that I’ve made this one has very few ingredients, egg yolks, heavy whipping cream, half and half, Nutella and salt.  I only had to buy the half and half for this recipe. The reason that this is termed crunchy was because at the end more Nutella is swirled into the ice cream, which is really tasty and ramps up the Nutella flavor.  I didn’t swirl all of the 1/4 cup in, but I wish I would have.  For us, it didn’t seem to add a crunch as much as just a different texture.  It’s kinda like finding chocolate bits in your ice cream.  It makes it go from tasting like chocolate ice cream to Nutella in my opinion.  One note from me is that you might want to put this in something microwaveable. It gets VERY solid when it’s completely frozen and even our really sturdy spoons and ice cream dippers felt like they were going to bend when dishing this out.  A quick zap in the microwave would really save some spoons I think.

The ice cream has the nutella swirled in and is ready to go into the freezer

The ice cream has the Nutella swirled in and is ready to go into the freezer

We’re still finishing this ice cream off.  It’s hard to have a dessert in the evening when you have a toddler you don’t want to share with and he keeps going to bed later and later!  Not to mention trying to eat a little healthier.  It was really good though, and I now want to try other Nutella desserts as well!

My dished out ready to eat bowl of ice cream.  Yum!

My dished out ready to eat bowl of ice cream. Yum!

Memorial Day weekend

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!  I was able to spend 3 wonderful days with my 3 guys.  I always look forward to the 3 day weekends to spend lots of quality time with my family while still remembering all those who served our country.

The 6 ingredients needed to make raspberry bars

As for our weekend we stayed very busy!  On Saturday, we went to a 3rd birthday party and were able to catch up with a bunch of our friends.  Sunday, started off great with Tyler sleeping until 6:45am but by the afternoon he developed a fever.  I should have known what was coming when he sleeps in!  Hopefully it’s just some teeth coming in and not another ear infection.  Today even though Tyler was still under the weather we took a quick trip to Allerton Park in Monticello to see the pretty flowers.  We just beat the heavy rains before we left.  Unfortunately, we still had to drive back through them though.

A tasty raspberry bar

A tasty raspberry bar

These raspberry bars which I didn’t make this weekend would have been perfect because they don’t require a whole lot of time or effort.  Besides that they are relatively healthy if you ignore the butter and brown sugar.  These only take 6 ingredients, and I only had to specially buy the raspberry jam for this.  The rest are normal staples.

I made this recipe on a work night for Eric to take for dessert in his lunches. Some changes I would consider making are mixing blueberry jam and strawberry jam with the raspberry jam and have mixed berry bars instead.  I’m sure there are plenty of other jams that would be really tasty in these as well.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend!

Can I sew? Totes!

Can I say totes while being 30-something and sound cool? I’m guessing I can’t pull it off. But what can I pull off? Making a tote bag to haul my and Tyler’s stuff to work/daycare everyday. I was nervous about this project, but this might be the easiest one I’ve done so far…or I’m just getting better at sewing.

So first why a tote bag?  Well for the past 2 years or so I’ve been using a Menard’s reusable shopping bag.  They aren’t the most stylish bags I’ve ever seen, and on top of that I’ve hauled so much stuff in them that both of our bags now have holes in them .  It was beyond time for a new bag.

My two fabrics.  The chevorn was for the inside and the teal flower print was for the outside.

My two fabrics. The chevron was for the inside and the teal flower print was for the outside.

I found a great tutorial just by Googling for tote bag sewing instructions.  Outside of cutting the 4 pieces of fabric for the body of the bag, it only took me about 3 hours to crank out the rest of this.  That may sound like a lot, but for a novice like me, it’s pretty good!  I decided that the 13.5″x14″ created in the tutorial was too small for me especially when I have to haul diapers to daycare. I increased the size to 17″x16.5″.  I unfortunately didn’t realize I was going to do this when I bought my fabric from Fabric.com, so I had to go back and order more.  Even with having to do that, I still only spent about $14.50 for the entire bag.  I don’t think I could have found a bag at the store for cheaper than that, so I think I finally saved money on a project!  If I’d ordered the right amount of fabric the first go around I would have saved significantly on the shipping too!

So I forgot to take pictures of all my steps because I got in such a zone once I started on the straps and was sewing it all together.  I’m pretty proud of this bag though.  I use it every single day, and I really like how it looks.  It actually looks like something I bought at a store.  I’m seriously considering making another one just for the fun of it.

My finished tote bag.  I didn't get a picture of the chevron on the inside, but it's there!

My finished tote bag. I didn’t get a picture of the chevron on the inside, but it’s there!

This is a project that I could definitely see giving as a gift or something like that. Everything else I’ve done, not so much. I’m definitely beginning to feel like I’m actually becoming a decent sewer though. I’m pretty proud of my progress since the middle of January. Now I need to figure out what to sew next! Any ideas?

All Hands for Moms!

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the mothers out there!  I was excited to celebrate my 2nd Mother’s Day this Sunday.  I spent a wonderful day at home with my 3 boys (yes Gus counts!).  We spent one day last weekend with my mother-in-law to celebrate and next weekend we’re going to go to the zoo with my parents to celebrate with them, so that left today just for us.

Since we didn’t spend the actual day with either of our mothers, I wanted to created something special for both grandmas.  What I came up with was a flower pot with the grandkids’ hand prints on it!  Eric’s mom’s flowerpot had all 3 boys’ hand prints (Tyler and my 2 nephews) while my mom’s only has Tyler’s.

The first step was to paint the terracotta pots with white house paint.

The first step was to paint the terracotta pots with white house paint.

I used two terracotta pots that I got from Hobby Lobby. I wanted to paint the pots white so it would be easy to see the hand prints against the pot. I tried some tempura paint to begin, but after 6 coats or so, it was still soaking into the pot and I was getting no where. Eric suggested that I try our Behr Premium Ultra paint that we use for trims and doors. I washed all the tempura paint off, and started in with the house paint.  It worked perfectly. I was able to cover the pots pretty well after 3 coats. It still wasn’t perfect, but it was white enough that we could easily see any paint color that was used on it.

I used a spray sealer from Krylon to coat the pots to keep the hand prints from running when the plants were watered.

I used a spray sealer from Krylon to coat the pots to keep the hand prints from running when the plants were watered.

The next step was to get the kids wrangled and paint their hands to put them on the pots. My nephews (and of course my brother and sister-in-law) were here visiting in the middle of April, so it was the perfect time to work on this. Some kids were more cooperative than others (Tyler was not a fan of anyone messing with his hands at all!) I used plain old washable paint for this step. My sister-in-law helped me decide what the design would look like. She also had the fantastic idea of having the kids put their hand prints on construction paper and creating a flower from that. Then we would glue it to a stick and put it in the flower pot. Unfortunately, I remembered to have one child do this extra step, and then I even forgot to take that to my mother-in-law. I’m getting forgetful in my old age!

Once the hand prints were dry on the pots, I was able to paint their names either above or below the hand prints, as well as “Happy Mother’s Day 2013” around the top lip of the pot. Eric even got in on the design by telling me I had spelled Mother wrong the first time around (I got “H” happy!). Thank goodness for washable paint. On my mom’s since I had more room I was able to write “Love, Tyler” on the back. The last step was to spray the pots with 3 coats of Krylon clear sealer. This was a mandatory step since the paint is washable and plants have to have water!

The finished product.  My mother-in-law's is on the left, and my mom's is on the right.

The finished product. My mother-in-law’s is on the left, and my mom’s is on the right.

I think they turned out pretty well! The grandmas like them! My mom doesn’t have hers yet, but she has seen pictures of it. I’m glad that we were able to give a heartfelt present that will remind the grandmas of this Mother’s Day.

The amazing chocolate stuffed french toast with raspberry syrup that Eric made for me!

The amazing chocolate stuffed french toast with raspberry syrup that Eric made for me!

As for my Mother’s Day, it was much better than the first when we were all sick! Tyler slept in until after 7am, which was amazing! Eric made me delicious chocolate stuffed french toast with an amazing raspberry sauce.  My wonderful husband and son gave me a gorgeous petunia hanging basket and some of my favorite M&Ms, coconut! We then went to the local nursery to get plants for our garden as well as flowers for the flower beds. We had Chinese food for lunch, which usually I never get since Eric is not a “fan”.  Most importantly, I spent the rest of the day with my boys. I was even able to get most of my plants in the ground. It’s too bad I didn’t realize that there was a possibility for frost tonight before I planted them though!

It was a fantastic day. I love my guys and how sweet they are to me. I’m certainly one lucky gal!

Start of the Growing Season

It’s that time of the year again!  Time to start planting our garden.  With all the rain we’ve been getting lately, it’s been hard to find decent weather to get into the garden (maybe there will be a lot less watering than last year! Darn drought years!). When we had amazing weather this past Monday through Wednesday (always has to be on the weekdays), I decided it was time to get some of the early crops into the garden.

Rock produce from our garden and what the plot that I planted looks like

Rock produce from our garden and what the plot that I planted looks like

I actually started getting the garden ready for this year’s crop last weekend.  The first step was to clean rocks out of the plot.  We have no idea where all these rocks came from! They had to have been there last year, but they must have been buried and decided to come up to the surface during the winter. Cleaning these out took me a good 2 hours but then it started raining, so that put an end to the gardening for the day. I got a pretty full sack of rocks out of the garden even though I had to quit early. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them now though.

Green beans and spinach are currently planted!

Green beans and spinach are currently planted!

Finally on Tuesday, the garden had enough time to dry out from our weekend rain, so I got to work on the digging.  We didn’t even have to get the tiller out this year because the soil was soft enough that one turn with the shovel was all it took to be ready for planting.  Unfortunately, that means there won’t be the annual shot of Eric battling the tiller!

Green bean seeds ready to start growing.

Green bean seeds ready to start growing.

This year we plan on having spinach, green beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, a few herbs, and some sunflowers.  While we weren’t confident enough the weather would cooperate to break out the warm weather plants yet, we did pick up some spinach, green bean, and sunflower seeds at the grocery store. It is getting a little late in the season for the spinach, but since it has been on the chillier side, we decided to try it anyway. I got the green beans in the ground too. Since it’ll take them awhile to sprout yet, hopefully they won’t be too harmed by a late season frost.

Next weekend we’ll probably pick out our pepper, tomato, and herb plants and get those in the ground ready to go. Before then though, we’ll get the Preen down to make sure we have to do minimal weeding during the season. We’re always looking for a few short cuts! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get our annuals going outside too next weekend. I can’t wait for our yard to look green and flourishing again. The next time I post about the garden maybe there will be something green growing other than dandelions in the garden!

My adorable little helper, helping with the gardening!

My adorable little helper ready to start digging in the garden.

Going Bananas

Another weekend has come to an end, a very busy weekend.  I couldn’t wait for this weekend.  I was going to get my garden planted, my house was going to be sparkling, and I was going to bake up a storm.  Well then I realized I didn’t have time for everything on my to do list.  I still got a lot accomplished even with the cold temperatures, the rain, and deciding I just wanted to have some fun instead of running around like a chicken with my head cut off!

We had a great time going out to dinner and then having a fire pit at our house Friday night.  On Saturday, Eric, Tyler and I went out for breakfast while all the marathoners were still out running, we went to Sam’s Club to try out the free weekend (and bought a lot of stuff and are considering renewing our membership), I bought a few new spring/summer clothes, and cleaned out my car!  My wonderful parents came to visit on Sunday.  It’s always fun to see them and Tyler interact, and Tyler was certainly putting on a good show for them today!  If that wasn’t enough, I also got a little bit of baking in, some amazing banana bread.

I have a bad habit of buying 5 bananas, one for each day of the week, to eat for breakfast.  Well lately I’ve been eating a little more food than that on the days that I get my butt out of bed to run in the mornings .  I haven’t been using up all my bananas.  This week I decided instead of tossing them out on the next trash day it was time to make something yummy with them.  I’m not a fan of just banana bread all by itself, and Eric doesn’t like chocolate chips in his banana bread.  As a compromise, I decided what we needed was a streusel topped banana bread.  I’d seen muffins like this and figured there had to be a recipe out there for a loaf of bread of it.  I found one on the blog, Just a Taste!

The ingredients that I used to make the banana bread.

The ingredients that I used to make the banana bread.

This bread was very quick and easy.  I think I was able to pull the batter and streusel topping together and into the oven in less than 20 min. Of course it took nearly and hour to bake, but during that time, I could accomplish other things like buying clothes online!

Bread batter before the streusel topping

Bread batter before the streusel topping

I did make one change to this recipe.  Instead of using buttermilk, I just used regular whole milk since that we have on hand for Tyler.  It still takes great, so I don’t think it made any difference at all.  Tyler even ate a good half a slice if not more this morning, so if Mr. Picky will eat it, I think nearly anyone would.  I think this quick and easy bread will be on the menu again when I have bananas that I don’t use!

The finished product.  The blurry picture is due to a little boy squirming!

The finished product. The blurry picture is due to a little boy squirming!

 

 

Boozy Brownies

We had a lovely sunny weekend after a pretty bad week.  Last week included Tyler getting another ear infection, lots of rain, and our main credit card getting hacked, and someone using it at the Home Depot in Surprise, AZ.  Surprise!  Really it wasn’t so bad though because Chase caught it for me pretty quickly and took care of it very quickly.  On the bright side, the plumber came out and fixed all our minor problems (3 of them in an hour!), and we started the refinance of our house.

Then Saturday came around, and it was sunny and beautiful.  I helped work at the Science Olympiad and got to catch up with my former officemate, which was a lot of fun!  Eric had a less than fun day because he came down with strep throat…again.  I have a feeling that the liquid amoxicillin that he and Tyler were on wasn’t strong enough to kill all the germs like the pills did since I didn’t get strep again.  Thank goodness.  This time Eric got a fun penicillin shot in the hip!

Then Sunday, I got to work on a lot of projects that I’d been putting off for awhile.  While I worked on a few crafty projects that I can’t share yet, I also got some baking in this weekend.  I made some yummy Kahlua brownies that I found on Pinterest.  They were from a blog called Homemade By Holman.  Eric always loves having Kahlua and Bailey’s in his desserts, the boozier the better!

The ingredients for the brownies

The ingredients for the brownies

The brownies were made from scratch, and they came together pretty quickly.  My biggest problem with the recipe I found was that it didn’t say what size of jelly roll pan to use.  I used 15″x10″ pan, and only baked them for 30 min.  They still came out a little over-cooked though.  If I make them again, I will probably use a 13″x9″.  They were a little thinner than I would have liked.

All the ingredients to make the Bailey's icing

All the ingredients to make the Bailey’s icing

The icing was really simple.  I even mixed it by hand.  I probably added a third extra to the recipe.  The original amounts certainly didn’t make enough.  At least it was easy enough to make more. Starting out with the beginning amounts and adding on worked out well.

 

Someone got into the brownies a little early!

Someone got into the brownies a little early!

They are really good.  The only real downside is that we can’t really taste Kahlua, but the Bailey’s comes shining through! We’ll definitely be trying them again!