Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Surviving summer

Sorry I am late with my blog. Life has been crazy! Phillip (my husband) is gone on his deployment, and I have taken a cross country trip with the girls to be with our friends and family for the summer. You can read about my trip on momsmakememories.blogspot.com

So I have decided to write about my suggestions for surviving a military deployment.

Phillip has been in the military for 10 years now. For the last 3 years he has been away from the family anywhere from 4 months to 9 months at a time. It can be quite difficult at times, but we always make it through each deployment or TDY a little bit stronger than before. It requires love, patience, commitment and prayer.

I have only 3 suggestions currently to help military Mom's out there. This obviously applies to any Mom/wife that is trucking it alone. The suggestions seem very basic. But they have helped me manage my trials each time.

1. Surround yourself with friends and family. For me, common sense says... don't try to do it all alone. Every one needs someone to be by their side. That can be a good friend, a mom, sister, neighbor. Whom ever you can think of that helps aid comfort to your loneliness, stay by their side.

2. Exercise. It is medically proven that exercise increases endorphins and helps lift your spirits. Everyday I try to exercise for at least 30 minutes. Exercise also helps boost your self confidence. A very good thing for every woman out there!! Also it increases your energy levels. It does for me at least. You can get your daily dose of exercise in a variety of ways... i.e. a walk, swimming, weight training, hiking, taking your kids to the park, bike rides, the list goes on and on... you get the idea.

3. Keep yourself busy. The only way for me to keep sane and forget about how badly we are missing Daddy is by remaining occupied the majority of each day. Going to different friends and family members houses, swimming, going to the park, library, shopping, doing learning books with the girls, reading. I find anything I can to keep my kids and I entertained.

Time away from a spouse or loved one can be difficult and yet rewarding at times as well. Time apart really does remind you how much you love, and need that person in your life.

So I wish you all well and hope you have a great summer full of excitement and love!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jennifer's Girls . . . . . .The world that we live in. . . . . . .

The world that we live in, is not the same innocent world it seemed to be 20 years ago. Maybe it was me that was innocent and the world was not. I’m not sure. But my eyes are wide open now as a Mother, and to the environment that I raise my children in.

When I was in second grade the thought of sexual harassment was far from my mind. I didn’t even now what sex was.
So here’s the problem, or the eye opening experience that I have dealt with this month…

While making dinner, I was listening to my daughter babble on… for what seemed like forever. (In the mean time three other little girls run around my legs like crazy kitty cats waiting to be fed.) Usually this ends in my mind going numb and me hearing blah, blah, blah. Fortunately this particular night I was able to actually hear my daughter speak.

Some boys at school are making her feel uncomfortable. Constantly harassing her, trying to kiss her, drawing (what she says are) not good pictures of her. Talking about kissing her and getting naked in a hot tub, and she spells out quietly S-E-X….. WHAT THE????

Wait… HOLD UP!! I try to remain calm, not over react and speak as calmly as possible.

“What did they say exactly? When? Where? Where was the teacher? And so on…”

I ask if she knows what that word is that she spelled out?? Thank goodness, NO she doesn’t.

My immediate response is to kill these kids. But that’s not the problem! I want to kill their parents!! What kind of world do we live in? She's in second grade! I started thinking about taking her out of school and home schooling her. But will that help? Will I be over protecting her too much? Should I allow her to experience life as a young girl, teach her how to react to these situations and hope that the next time someone makes her feel uncomfortable that she will stand up for herself.

Bottom line is… She’s beautiful. She will have to deal with boys bugging her for the rest of her life. It’s a fact of life. HOWEVER, she should never feel like she can’t stand up for herself and that she deserves to be sexually belittled. She is a beautiful, smart, young lady and deserves the up most respect. It’s my job as mom to teach her to value herself as a woman, value her body and live virtuously.

I encourage you Mom’s out there with little boys to teach them to be respectful to women, never to sexually degrade them and always be respectful.

Turns out, the ring leader (the worst boy) has moved. I did speak to the Principal and had the boys reseated away from Ashlyn. The principal spoke with both boys involved and assured me that they will have nothing but polite things to say to Ashlyn from here on out. He also spoke to their parents.

As for now… problem solved. But I will forever and always try to listen when my kids talk! Because you never know how extremely important their babbling may be.

Best wishes to all!


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Announcing My First Offical Guest Blogger . . .Life. . .

Oh friends....I am really excited for this announcement! My sister seeded an idea a couple of weeks ago to put some feelers out there and see if anyone was interested in writing a "Guest Blog" for Cook, Laugh, Create on a regular basis. I thought this was a GREAT idea. This blog is not just about me. It's about being a mom, and a wide, a cook, and a housekeeper, a chauffer, and a coach, a lover and a friend. It is about ALL of us. So the idea of someone other than me sharing their life experience seemed brilliant.

Without further ado I would like to announce the very first guest blogger of Cook, Laugh, Create:

Jennifer Bledsoe: Jennifer's Girls

To give you a touch of history, Jennifer is a friend of mine from high school. She married her high school sweetheart, and is now a mom to the most beautiful four little girls I have EVER seen. No kidding, check them out for yourself, I wouldn't lead you on :) Can you imagine life in a house with four munchkins? Let alone four GIRLS! Jenn you rock!

So in what is to be Cook, Laugh, Create tradition- I sent Jenn a little questionnairre so that our fabulous readers could get to know her a little better!

Getting to Know Jenn :)

What's one thing that everyone should know about you?
I love sunflower seeds - they help me relax

If they made a movie about your life what would it be titled and who would play you?
She's not JUST a Mom - Jennifer Garner

If you could own one exotic animal as a pet what would it be why and what would you name it?
A monkey, cause they're cute, and Poopski

Tell us the best advice that you have ever received.
Wake up, kiss your children every morning, and strive to be the best Mother and soul source of happiness for your kids

If you were given $500 today what would be the first thing you would do?
probably pay bills, but I'd want to get a pedicure

If you had an entire Saturday to do whatever you wanted...what would you do?
Take a walk, go on a picnic with the family. Bask in the sunlight, read a book. Enjoy time with my husband and children. Top it off with a trip to Dairy Queen!

If we surprised you at your house today what would be the first thing we would notice?
A dining room table full of diaper cake materials.

What moment in your life makes you smile every single time you think about it?
Being sealed with my family in the Temple

What is at the top of your wish list right now?
safe summer travels

What's the best meal you cook?
Ha! Dunno, kids love chicken fettucini. I like my homemade cookies.. not that that's a meal :)

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on creatively spiritually or emotionally?
a quiet house

What turns you off creatively spiritually or emotionally?
a loud house

What sound or noise do you love?
my children's laughter

What sound or noise do you hate?
nail biting

What is your favorite thing to say when you get mad?
cripes or tartar sauce

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I'm actually going to school right now for Dental Assisting

What profession would you not like to do?

If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Finally! The boss is here!

Look for Jenn's blog tomorrow, and on the first of every month! I promise, you wont be disappointed. How could you be from a gorgoeus mom of four gorgeous daughters? Seems like a no brainer to me!

By the way Jenn, I think you might need to share that Chicken Fettucini recipe with us!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One-Pan Whiskey Pork Chops . . .Cook. . .

ALright, I've got to be honest. In my adult life I have made pork chops SOOO many times that I can count them on one hand. Yes that's right, ONE hand. I sat the last couple of days and tried to figure this out.

It's not because I dislike pork- in fact I am quite a fan of pork. Some of my favorite meals include pork: carnitas, pulled pork sammies, anything with  bacon (expect for maybe ice cream).

I have always been under the impression that there a limited options regarding the preparation of pork. I have ALWAYS seen pork chops with a big huge bone, and they are either pan fried or grilled. LACK of creativity. Plus- I do not know, nor will I ever, like meat on the bone. I just can't do it.

My kitchen creative juices seem to be stifled this week. Yesterday I asked Jeff to pick a protien that he wanted to dinner- in order to help get my brain ticking. He, of course, picked pork chops. When I ordered pork chops this week, I ordered center cut BONELESS! So one of the thorns in my side is instantly gone. However I have ZERO pork chop recipies on hand.

I turned to the one website that NEVER lets me down: Group Recipes. This website actual learns what you like, and then suggests recipes that it thinks you will enjoy! That is brilliant if you ask me. I browse the prok chop results for a good 20 minutes I settled on a recipe that turned our to be a Gold Medal KEEPER, and of course felt the need to share it with the world that is currently uneasy at the mention of, "Honey, can we have pork chops for dinner?"

•2/3 cup light sour cream

•1/2 cup water
•2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
•1/4 teaspoon black pepper
•4 6 ounce center cut boneless pork chops, trim
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/8 teaspoon black pepper
•1 teaspoon olive oil
•13/4 cup chopped onion
•1 8 ounce package presliced baby bella mushrooms
•1/2 cup whiskey (Jameson)

Preheat oven to 300. Combine the sour cream, water, flour, salt,pepper and poulty seasoning in a small bowl.

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides

Heat oil over medium high heat in an OVEN SAFE pan (no plastic)

Add pork and saute 5 mins on each side or until golden.

Remove pork from pan. Add onions and mushrooms and saute for 3 mins.

 Add whiskey, cook 5 min, or until most of liquid evaporates.

Add sour cream mixture into pan. Return pork to pan and spoon sauce over the pork.

Wrap the frying pan handle with foil. Cover frying pan and put in oven for 1 hr at 300 degrees.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As you can see int he picture- I served this with mashed potatoes (garlic mash, YUM) and green beans. To be perfectly honest I also uped the ingedients for the gravy as well. There were a TON of potatoes, and I wanted gravy left over. I used 8 oz Sour Cream (the small container), 3/4 cup water, 3 T flour, 3/4 t salt, 3/4 t poulty seasoning, just over 1/4 t pepper, 3/4 c whiskey. With these measurements I had plenty of gravy left over, and let me tell you this stuff is GOOD!


Monday, March 29, 2010

FootPrint Beanies on Etsy . . .Create. . .

I did it! Horray for me, aren't you so proud??? Wait, hold on- you have no idea what I am talking about do you?

I finally took the plunge and set up and Etsy shop for the SUPER cute hats that I have been "gifting" to friends and family. They are now officially available to the general public. Tell your friends and family- my idel hands are ready to go! Custom orders are welcome and encouraged!

FootPrint Beanies!

Recipe Swap No. 2 - Cookies

I love cookies, and I know that I shouldn't make them, becuase then I want to eat them all....but I CAN'T help it. It's a weakness, I'm dealing with it.

This week's Friday Recipe Swap theme is Cookies! Pull out the baking bowls and beaters and get to work!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Grizzly Golf (Ladder Golf) . . .Life. . .

The weather here in Vegas has been nothing less than SPECTACULAR lately. If you are from Vegas, or have spend any time here during this short period of season switch, you know that you need to spend as much time as possible outside os you can soaking up the fresh air and sunshine before the scorching months take over. This transitions usually only lasts a few weeks.

We like to BBQ. We bought a really nice infared BBQ grill last summer, and it has become a seasoned member of our family. We also did a bit of an overhaul of the backyard last spring. It's now one of our family's favorite places to spend time. The problem that we have run into is this: when we have friends over for a BBQ- we don't have much to occupy our time other than hovering around the BBQ torturing ourselves with the smell.

Oh boy did we find a solution for that! Ladies and Gentlemen- I would like to introduce to you a little game that we like to call Grizzly Golf. This is not the typical name for the game. It's more commonly known as Ladder Golf, or Bolo Golf. That just seemed a little too boring for us. Jeff and I learned how to play Grizzly Golf in Montana last summer. For just about $20 a a trip to Home Depot and Wal-mart you can have your own Grizzly Golf game!

Ladder Golf (Grizzly Golf.... grrr)

Ladder Golf is played with 2 or more players or teams. Each player has 3 golf ball bolas. A bola is 2 golf balls attached by a nylon rope. The object of the game is to wrap your bolas around the steps of the ladder. The ladder consists of 3 steps, a top, middle and a bottom step.

Playing the Game:

Prior to game play a line must be set 5 paces from the ladder. This is the called the toss line. The official toss line is 15 feet away but most players measure 5 paces from the game ladder to set the toss line. This allows for a closer toss line for children’s games.

Ladder Golf is played in rounds, each round consists of all players tossing 3 bolas. A coin toss is used to decide which player or team will toss first.

The first player must toss all 3 bolas before the next player is able to toss his or her bolas. Bolas can be tossed in anyway the player chooses, as long as they are tossed individually and can be bounced off the ground.

The winner of the round earns the first toss in the next round. Games are played to an exact point total of 21.
In order to win, a player must be the only one to score exactly 21 points after the completion of a round.

If a player goes over the exact point total, that players points for that round do not count.

For example: A player with 18 points needs 3 points to get the exact score of 21 in order to win. If that player has 5 points hanging on the ladder after all the players have tossed all strands, none of those points count and the player will enter the next round with 18 points again needing 3 points to win.
In the case of a tie, the players that tie will play as many overtime rounds as needed until one player ends a complete round 2 points ahead of the other player. The 2 point rule only applies in overtime rounds. During regular play any player can win as long as that player is the only one to score an exact total of 21 points at the end of that round no matter how many points the other players have.

Etiquette of the Game:

Basic etiquette of Ladder Golf states that contestants should make as many remarks, sounds or movements as possible during play in order to distract the opponent’s during play. Touching the player during tossing is never allowed.

In the course of play no contestant is to walk to the ladder prior to completion of the current round of play.

After all teams have tossed all their bolas, scoring is determined by the bolas that are still hanging from the steps. Players can knock-off bolas during the course of the game, in fact knocking-off other players bolas is encouraged and a good way to play defensively. Bolas that are knocked off during play do not count as points. Only bolas that are left hanging after all bolas are tossed are counted as points.

     HOUSE RULE: Bolas hanging on the same step cancel each other out!


Points are determined by which step your bola wraps around. The top step is worth 3 points the middle step is worth 2 points and the bottom step is only worth 1 point. Players can score an optional bonus of 1 point by hanging all 3 bolas from the same step or by hanging a bola on all 3 (1-2-3) steps in one round. The highest amount of points available per player is 10. This is accomplished by hanging all 3 bolas on the top (3 point) step.

Team Play:

Four players can play Ladder Golf by alternating play each round. Players simply alternate turns with teammates. Extra bolas can also be purchased so up to 4 players can play individually on the same ladder or a second ladder can be purchased for team play. With multiple ladders 2 players on opposite teams would be on one side and the other 2 opposing players would be at the other game ladder. One side would toss all bolas and the other team would toss them back. Same rules apply.

Plans and Construction

2 Ladders
1" PVC pipe 24'
¾" PVC pipe 24'
1" PVC elbows 8
¾" PVC elbows 4
¾" PVC T connectors 8
1" to ¾" PVC T connectors 4

2 Bolo Sets (6 Bolo/Set)
24 Golf Balls
¼" nylon rope 16'
Optional: 2 pkgs RIT fabric Dye (this will by the rope AND the golf balls)

Distance Rope
golf balls, white 2
¼" nylon rope 16'

For the ladders, simply get all the necessary PVC pipe and connectors, cut them to size, and glue them together as shown in the diagrams below. If you don't already have PVC cement, then of course you'll need to add that to the list.

For ease of storage, we keep our ladders in two sections, as shown in the diagrams. This allows you to lean the ladders against a wall in your shed or garage, or hang them from a hook. We've also made them so that no parts are glued, and they are completely disassembled and stored in one of those canvas bags that soccer chairs come in. This worked great to save space on a trip, but it's probably too much work to put it all together and take it apart on a regular basis.

A bolo is just two golf balls on a rope. The rope is 16" long. Each golf ball is about 1½" thick, so there is approximately 13" between the golf balls. Use nylon rope. This will allow you to burn the ends (instead of tying a knot) so the golf balls stay on.

We recommend that you not cut up the rope at first. Drill ¼" holes in all the balls first. Then string all the balls onto the rope. Then, one at a time, cut a 16" length of rope with two balls on it, and burn both ends. This is much easier than cutting all the ropes first and stringing the balls on all those small lengths.

Distance Rope:
The distance rope was a last minute add-on, but we have found it to be very valuable. This is simply a 16' length of rope with a golf ball on each end. We use this when setting up the game, to make sure that the ladders are the right distance apart. Without the distance rope, we never set up the ladders the same distance apart, and the game was more difficult to play as a result.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Luke's Sleepy Eyes . . .Life. . .

I am sure that most moms have those special little things that they love about their children. These are things that most people are never aware of- and are generally "Mom's Little Secret".

One of my little secrets with Luke is his morning sleepy eyes. Riley's doesn't have these eyes- just Luke. They melt my heart, and I just wanted to share them with you. Love you bubba.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Recipe Swap Friday #1- Comfort Food . . .Cook. . .

I am so excited to see what YUMMY recipes everyone has dug up for our Recipe Swap today! I pulled out one of our old favorites, that is full of Doritos, yes....Doritos!

Nacho Cheese Chicken Casserole
(350 F 30-40 min)

2T butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 lb chicken (1/2 breast, 1/2 thigh)
16 oz sour cream
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1- 7oz can diced green chiles
1/2t salt
1/2t pepper
1 bag Doritos, crushed
1 cup monterey jack, shredded
1 cup cheddar, shredded

1. Melt the butter, and toss in the onion and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes- until the onions become translucent.

2. Add chicken. Cook through- NO PINK.

3. Remoce from heat, and stir in soups, sour cream, chiles, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Spray 9x12 baking pan with PAM. Layer 1/3 chips, then 1/3 chicken mixture. Repeat two more times.

5. Combine the cheeses and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cover with foil if the cheese starts to brown.

Now it is your turn. Post your recipe (w/picture) to your blog, or facebook, or personal website. In the "Mr. Linky" below enter your name, and the link to where ever it is that you posted your recipe, and then submit! All of the recipes with be linked here to this blog. So Simple! If you have any questions at all- just let me know!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Signs of Spring . . .Life. . .

I had a family session last weekend, and took a little time afterwards to photograph the blooming flowers, as the weather has been BEAUTIFUL here the last few days, and it seems like spring is in full swing- ha, that rhymed.

Look who decided to pop into the picture :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Toddlers at Tables . . .Laugh. . .

Do you know how you know when the dinner you put on the table was really, really, REALLY delicious?

When you look over and...

Thanks for the vote of confidence there buddy :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Recipe Swap No. 1- Announcement

I am super excited to announce the VERY first Recipe Swap!

This week's theme is Comfort Food.

Comfort food is as unique as your are, and the definition varies from person to person- so I want you to share with me what your favorite comfort food is. These theme is as broad as they come- your comfort food could be of any country origin, and even a dessert if you so chose.

Here's how this is going to work. Dig out the recipe to your most cherished comfort food. Whip is up, take some pictures, and then post the recipe and pictures in the notes section of your facebook profile or on our very own blog if you have one. Format your recipe as closely to Pepperoni Pizza Puffs as possible.

On Friday morning I will post my Comfort Food Recipe- at the bottom of that post you will find a Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is a blog utility that will allow you to provide me with a link to your recipe.

You will enter the recipe name- along with your first name, and then the link to your recipe on your facebook or blog in the Mr. Linky utility and then submit. Mr. Linky will submit this link and permanently post it on my blog for the world to see! The only hiccup that I can forsee will be private facebook profiles. Since I am not sure if this will work for private profiles- we are going to take the wait and see approach.

If come Friday, your Mr. Linky doesn't work out for you because of a private profile- then email the recipe/picture to me, and I will post it.

Mr. Linky Help
Here are few hints to help you fix any Mr. Linky problems you might encounter.

1) Remember that Mr. Linky automatically fills out the fields with your previous entry. If you specify your link to go to the i heart faces post directly, remember to check again, B E F O R E you submit. This will save you time from having to fix your error later.

2) Please keep your Mr. Linky name to 25 characters (or less). If your username is longer than 25 characters we will make your name shorter for you. Please do not use all caps, special characters or commercials as your name.

3) You must link directly to your Recipe permalink. Please do not link to your home page or Facebook profile page. Your link will be removed if not directed to the specific post.


GOOD - Permalink (it takes you directly to a specific post “Pepperoni Pizza Puffs”)


BAD (Direct link to the home page which makes you have to hunt for the post)


4) Can't see Mr. Linky? Sometimes his server goes down. I'm sorry, but I can't control that. If Mr. Linky does disappear, please be patient and try again later.

5) If you are still having problems or if you accidentally mess up your Mr. Linky name or permalink, please contact me and we will try to help you anyway that we can.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Recipe Swap Fridays

So I was thinking that I wanted to start a Recipe Swap Friday here on Cook, Laugh, Create.

Every friday would have a theme, like Italian, Dessert, etc.- and the people that want to participate would simply need to email their recipe along with one picture. The picture is required. I don't know about you, but I wont even buy a cook book if it doesn't have pictures.

All of the contributions will be posted here.

Like anything- I need people to participate. Submissions would be due every Wednesday. Theme's for the next week will be announced along with the Recipe Swap on friday's.

If you think this is something that you would like to participate in- leave me a comment! It think it would be fun, and a great way to get some new recipes into our kitchens!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs . . .Cook- For Non-Cooks. . .

These are the perfect dippable little kids bites! Sorry about the AWFUL quality of this picture- I made these a while ago, and didn't take a picture. This is a picture of a magazine picture.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
(prep 15 min. Bake 25 min @ 375 F)

3/4 cup flour
3/4 t. baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces shredder mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
4 ounces pepperoni, cut into small pieces (about 1 cup)
     - look for the mini pepperonis, these work great!
1/2 cup store bought pizza sauce
2 T. fresh basil finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin pan with PAM. In a large bowl wisk together the flour and baking powder; wisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni. Let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Stir the batter and split it up among the mini-muffin cups. Sprinkle with a little more cheese if you want to. No such thing as too much cheese! Bake until puffed and golden, 20-25 minutes

3. While you are waiting on the oven, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through. Then stir in 1 tablespoon of basil. Sprinkle the puffs with the leftover basil.

Serve the puffs with red pepper slices and pizza sauce for dipping. If you are a dip-a-holic, pull out the ranch!

Velveeta Nacho Bake . . .Cook- For Non-Cooks. . .

I realize that everyone isn't as lucky as I am in regards to that fact that I have time every day to put a homecooked meal on the table. Every now and again I come across recipes that I think busy mom's/people will appreciate. They are not only EASY but they are also DELICIOUS!

So I decided that I am going to start are label called Non-Cooks. Here you will find all these wonderful recipes. Most are kid friendly as well. Give them a try, let me know what you think!

Velveeta Nacho Bake 
(prep: 15 min. Bake 20 min. @ 400 F)

1 pkg. (12 oz.) VELVEETA® Shells & Cheese Dinner
1 lb. ground Turkey
1 pkg. (1-1/4 oz.) Taco Seasoning Mix
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup Fat Free Sour Cream
3/4 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
3/4 cup Salsa
1/2 cup coarsely crushed tortilla chips

1. Prepare Dinner following Basic Directions. While Macaroni is cooking, brown meat, drain. Add taco seasoning mix and water to the meat; simmer 5 minutes.

2. STIR sour cream prepared Dinner. Spoon half of the Dinner mixture into 8-inch square baking dish; top with layers of the meat mixture, half of the cheese and the remaining Dinner mixture. Cover.

3. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Top with salsa, remaining cheese and the crushed tortilla chips. Bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes. Makes 5 servings

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kicked Up Refried Black Beans . . .Cook. . .

Jeff requested fajitas for dinner tonight. This is a simple enough request. However I don't just do fajitas, there must be sides to accompany. This is just who I am.

However- I get so BORED with plain 'ole refried beans, especially the Rosarita ones straight out of the can. Um- no thank you!

Today's creation was a WIN and I wanted to share it with all of my Mexican food loving friends. Make them and love then- you will never go back to Rosarita.

Chile-Lime Refried Black Beans

1-20.5 oz. Can Refried Black Beans
1-4 oz. Can Diced Green Chiles
2 T Butter
1/2 t salt (more or less to taste)
Juice & zest of 1 lime

Melt the butter first, and then throw the rest of the ingredients into the saucepan. Heat until bubbly and all combined.

You could forgoe the butter- but I URGE you not too. The fat is what makes refried beans worth while. Besides you have already made a "healthy" decision by going with black beans over pinto beans.

Rosarita- I'm sorry..... you just weren't good enough. Adios!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Unique Your Blog- Make it You . . . Blog Help . . .

This post if for all of you "New" Bloggers. I went on a wild goose chase trying to find tutorials on how to do all the things that I just KNEW blogger could do. Well OK- maybe I didn't "know" that blogger could do the things that I wanted it to do, but I certainly believed that if it was something that I wanted it to do, then someone else had already figured out how to make it happen.

FREE Blog Layouts:

Leelou Free Layouts
Shabby Blogs
The Cutest Blog on the Block

Blog Utilities

- Burn Your Blog: Allow people to subscribe to your blog through a reader service

- Track Your Stats: Do you want to know how many people are reading your blog?

- Make Sharing Easy: You want the word to get out about your blog- make it easy for your reader

- Free Fonts: Visit Kevin and Amanda, they have a HUGE selection
- Flash Animated Label Cloud: This is exactly what it sounds like.

- Autopost to Facebook & Twitter: HUGE timesaver

If you want your blog to be a reflection of you, you WILL need some form of photo editing software.

- Free Photo Editing software #1- Picnik 

- Free Photo Editing Software #2- Picasa

Blog Help Tutorials:

- Create a Blog Button: Create a button that readers can copy the code for and add to their own blogs

- Add a Signature to Every Post:  Never sign your blogs again- You are signing in STYLE now!

- Add Post Dividers: Something frilly- or maybe barbed wire.....whatever suits your taste :)

- Use a Cute Font for Blogger Post Titles: This is a LONG tutorial, but will give your blog some serious personality!

- Blogger UnWrapped: Blogger blog tips and tricks: (Scroll down to blogger tutorials) Just go and browse, Rita is a WEALTH of knowledge. She is my idol :)

That is all that I can think of right now, and should give you plenty to do to make your blog "You". I hope this helps- I wish that I had stumbled upon a site that had everything all in one location! Good luck- learn lots :)

Twitterfeed = AMAZING . . .Blog Help. . .

I am extremely new to blogging, so I have been literally combing blogs for help setting mine up just the way I want it. My first blog was my Life Steps Photography blog. It's pretty much to the point now, where I can just leave the design alone and post.

I found that I was really needing a place to come and post about my life stuff though- so Cook, Laugh, Create was born. This is the home for everything in my life, photography or otherwise. Let's consider it the melting pot for all things Jessica.

Anyway, the purpose of this post was to share with the other new bloggers out there (if any new bloggers actually read this blog) my new find. I am a big facebook-er so I like to make my facebook friends, that aren't quite as blog-happy as myself, aware of new posts on either of my blogs. Well this means double-time, posting on blogger, and then heading over to facebook and updating there.

Today I found Twitterfeed. Twitterfeed takes my blog RSS and automatically publishes it on my wall on facebook, and tweets it for me on Twitter (I really am not too twitter savvy). This service is FREE, oh I apologize- did I fail to mention that....yes it is FREE.

Click on the logo below to sign up.

All you need is your RSS feed address.You will HAVE to have signed your blog up for a feed burning service. If you haven't done so already- I use Feed Burner.  To find the RSS address go to blogger, click on settings, and then on sitefeeds, you can copy the address directly from here. All you need for the next 2 steps are your log-in credentials for Facebook and/or Twitter. Voila- you are now saving time, and keeping everyone in the loop. Enjoy!

Shoe Dazzle- Stylish Shoes- Monthly! . . .Laugh. . .

This could be BRILLIANT! I was at the salon a couple months ago, and another girl there was telling her stylist about this amazing website called:

In a nutshell- this is the low down:

ShoeDazzle is a monthly membership society. Every month, for just $39.95, you will receive an extraordinary pair of shoes. The shoes are handpicked for you by our fashion experts. There is no obligation to purchase shoes once you register, and you are charged only after you choose your first pair of shoes. In any month, you may select the "Skip This Month" button in your account section between the 1st and the 5th of the month and you will not be charged.

We are mom's and we are busy. We dont put make-up on, we slave over a "hot" stove, and wear our sweats to the store. We deserve some pampering, and I think that a new pair of high fashion shoes monthly and a low cost is JUST the answer! Go- Join- Enjoy!

Where Does Your Food Come From? . . .Cook. . .

On the weeks that we don’t have the kids, Jeff and I have taken to watching movies. We both do our own thing for the majority of the day- but as evening rolls around, we settle on to the couch and pop in our next NetFlix DVD. For some reason the DVD awaiting play last night was a documentary entitles Food Inc. I am not a documentary lover. I will admit that my guilty pleasure is definitely a romantic comedy. Jeff is an extremely intelligent man, and prefers things that challenge his mind. I have subjected him to one romantic comedy after another the last few weeks- so I suppose that this switch to a documentary was an attempt to fulfill his DVD needs.

In any case, I am rambling.....

I am a foodie- through and through. Some people eat to live, I DEFINITELY live to eat. I appreciate ever little morsel of deliciousness like it may very well be my last. My favorite type of cuisine is currently Tapas. Why would any person want to eat a gigantic plate FULL of the SAME thing? The idea to provide a diner with quite a few different items in small portions at reasonable prices is ingenious. If you haven't treated yourself to your local tapas place, do it now!

With all of that out there, and my clear obsession for food known....Food Inc. has changed the way that I look at what I am eating. This movie was so profound that I could not sleep last night. I imagine for some people that this may not be the case; however food is a HUGE part of my everyday. Feeding my family is my responsibility and mine alone. I encourage- better yet....I CHALLANGE each and every one of you to watch this movie, and then make some changes in your life.

If you are a NetFlix subscriber, you can watch Food Inc. instantly on your computer or TV.

I will be updating my blog as to the changes that I am making for our family. I will post recipes that are friendly to the change, and shopping habits and deals (hopefully) that I incorporate as well. It's time to change our lives!

Change #1 Shop At Trader Joes


Trader Joes will provide me with more choices than the big chain grocery stores. I am looking to buy from the little guy. I am looking for organic, the Hippie Revolution has begun! Gosh I wish that I lived somewhere where stuff actually grew..........

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Riley and Luke's Revamped Craft/Snack Table . . .Create. . .

A few months ago the kids and I sanded down and repainted their craft table. The center is a chalk board surface. The kids are 100% responsible for the edging and the seat's sitting surface. Hope you enjoy!



Floppy-Eared Easter Bunny . . .Create. . .

Just in time for Easter I wanted to share the Easter bunny pattern. I wanted to create a floppy-eared bunny for my kids Easter baskets that was different than the rest of the world. These are definitely one of a kind, and be customized as you see fit. These bunnies are in the crochet style of Amigurumi, and believe me- the possibilities are ENDLESS! I could not find a bunny that suited my taste- so I took bits and pieces of two different patterns and created my own pattern. Please keep in mind, should you decide to give this a go, this is the FIRST pattern that I have ever written, so crochet with caution! :)

Without further ado, here are the bunnies I made my kids. The pattern follows below. Let me know if you have any questions. I will do my best to answer them, but by NO means am I a pro!

Worsted Weight Yarn
Size H Hook

With A, ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 6 sc in first chain. Mark first st for beg of rnd; move marker up each rnd.
Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each sc around – 12 sc.
Rnd 3: *2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc; repeat from * around – 18 sc.
Rnd 4: *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 2 sc; repeat from * around – 24 sc.
Rnd 5: *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 3 sc; repeat from * around – 30 sc.
Rnds 6-10: Sc in each sc around.
Rnd 11: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 3 sc; repeat from * around – 24 sts.
Rnd 12: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 2 sc; repeat from * around – 18 sts.
Rnd 13: *Sc2tog, sc in next sc; repeat from * around – 12 sts.
Stuff firmly.
Rnd 14: Sc2tog around – 6 sts.
Fasten off. Sew on beads or felt circles for eyes. With 2 strands of floss, embroider a straight stitch ‘Y’ at center of face for nose.

Note: Body is worked beginning at lower edge.
With A, ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 6 sc in first chain. Mark first st for beg of rnd; move marker up every rnd.
Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each sc around – 12 sc.
Rnd 3: *2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc; repeat from * around – 18 sc.
Rnd 4: *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 2 sc; repeat from * around – 24 sc.
Rnd 5: *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 3 sc; repeat from * around – 30 sc.
Rnds 6-8: Sc in each sc around.
Rnd 9: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 3 sc; repeat from * around – 24 sts.
Rnds 10 and 11: Sc in each sc around.
Begin stuffing firmly, add stuffing as work progresses.
Rnd 12: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 2 sc; repeat from * around – 18 sts.
Rnds 13-15: Sc in each sc around.
Rnd 16: *Sc2tog, sc in next sc; repeat from * around – 12 sts .
Rnd 17: Sc in each sc around.
Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing to Head.
FLOPPY EARS (make 2)
With B, Ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 6 sc in first chain. Mark first st for beg of rnd; move marker up every rnd.
Rnd 2-3: SC in each sc around - 6 sts.
Rnd 4: *2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc; repeat from * around –8 sts
Rnd 5: sc in each sc around
Rnd 6: *2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc; repeat from * around –12 sts
Rnd 7: sc in each sc around -12sts
Rnd 8: *2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc; repeat from * around –18 sts
Rnd 9: sc in each sc around -18sts
Rnd 10-15: sc in each sc around -18sts
Rnd 16: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 4; repeat from * around -16 sts
Rnd 17-18: sc in each sc around -16sts
Rnd 19: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 6; repeat from * around -14 sts
Rnd 20-21: sc in each sc around -14sts
Rnd 22: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 5; repeat from * around -12 sts
Rnd 23-24: sc in each sc around -12sts
Rnd 25: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 4; repeat from * around -10 sts
Rnd 26-31: sc in each sc around -10sts
Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing to Head.

LEGS (make 2)
With B, Ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 6 sc in first chain. Mark first st for beg of rnd; move marker up every rnd.
Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each sc around – 12 sc.
Rnd 3: *2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc; repeat from * around – 18 sc.
Rnd 4-6: sc in each sc around
Switch to A
Rnd 7: sc in each sc around
Rnd 8: *Sc2tog, sc in next sc; repeat from * around – 12 sts
Begin stuffing firmly, add stuffing as work progresses.
Rnd 9-12: sc in each sc around
Rnd 13: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 4; repeat from * around – 10 sts
Rnd 14: sc in each sc around
Rnd 15: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 3; repeat from * around – 8 sts
Rnd 16: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 2; repeat from * around – 6 sts
Rnd 17: Sc in each sc around.
Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing to body.
ARMS (make 2)
With A, Ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 6 sc in first chain. Mark first st for beg of rnd; move marker up every rnd.
Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each sc around – 12 sc.
Rnd 3-6: sc in each sc around
Rnd 7: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 4; repeat from * around – 10 sts
Rnd 8-9: sc in each sc around
Begin stuffing firmly, add stuffing as work progresses.
Rnd 10: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 3; repeat from * around – 8 sts
Rnd 11-12: sc in each sc around
Rnd 13: *Sc2tog, sc in each of next 2; repeat from * around – 6 sts
Rnd 14: Sc in each sc around.
Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing to body.
With B, ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 6 sc in first chain. Mark first st for beg of rnd; move marker up each rnd.
Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each sc around – 12 sc.
Rnds 3 and 4: Sc in each sc around.
Rnd 5: Sc2tog around – 6 sc.
Stuff very lightly. Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing to Body.
Sew Head to Body. Sew Arms on either side of upper Body.
Flatten Ears and sew to Head. Sew Feet on either side of lower Body.
Sew Tail to lower back of Body.

Riley's "Meagan" Newsboy Hat . . .Create. . .

 I am part of the divorced nation. This is not a bad thing though, my kid's dad is my best friend. However this means kid's custody, and all that jazz. So we have worked out the schedule- one week on, one week off. This being said- I am bored STIFF when my kids aren't around. Yes, this provides me with ample time for sessions, and editing- however, it's been a little slow. I am a creative person my nature, so I have been looking for some creative productive outlets to fill my time.

My current obessision- Crochet. I taught myself through Google and YouTube- I am a visual learner. I bought the books, and tried- but I just couldn't get it. Bring on the video stream! So I have a list a mile long of projects that I am working of for friends and family. I decided that I am going to start sharing pictures of these project, along with patterns. It been pretty hard to find patterns that I like on the internet- seriously, it is like a treasure hunt. I feel like it is my "yarn-addict" duty to share the patterns that I have found with you!

My first project to share is

Riley's "Meagan" Newsboy Hat.