Saturday, May 29, 2010

Clip Art Cupcakes

My youngest son is turning five years old on Monday.  Last night we had a few friends over and then we will have family members over on Monday.  I decided to make cupcakes for his party with his friends.  He wanted a Star Wars party, so I went to the task of creating my own Star Wars cupcakes.  I am not an elaborate designer, by any means, but I have a pretty simple method that creates a cute result! 

First I find the proper themed clip art or images online and then paste them into a Word document.  Once I have enough images pasted or copied onto the sheet, I print it up for cutting.  I leave a little white space around the image when I cut.  If you print the images on cardstock rather than regular computer paper, you have a sturdier cupcake topper.  Tape the cut out images to a toothpick and then insert into the cupcakes.  VOILA!  You have yourself some adorable cupcakes that thrill the kids and did not take too long to prepare!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rachael Ray’s Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese


My friend, Candice, led me to this recipe quite some time ago.  I’ve made it a handful of times since then.  It’s delicious, ESPECIALLY with the pickles and tomatoes on top.  It gives you a real cheeseburger experience!

I made this a couple days in advance for my mother’s household when she had surgery recently, and it assembled together nicely when they went to make it.  I just kept the meatballs, sauce, and pasta separately and had them put it together and cook it. 

This recipe layers nicely in a 9x13 pan – pasta, cheese sauce, meatballs, and cheese before broiling at the end.  We have enough for the six of us for dinner, plus leftovers!


(Rachael Ray has instructions on her site for freezing the casserole ahead of time, too. )


Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta (I use spiral)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon (about a palmful) grill seasoning
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (yellow works wonderfully, too!)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/4 cups grated yellow cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Swiss cheese, divided
  • 3 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 deli-style pickle, chopped

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add pasta to boiling water and cook just shy of al dente, according to package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and reserve.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the ground sirloin with the grill seasoning, ketchup and yellow mustard. Grab about a tablespoon of meat in your hand and roll it into a small ball. Place the mini meatballs onto a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of EVOO and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and turn on the broiler.

While the mini meatballs are in the oven, heat a large saucepot over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon, and the butter. Cook the red onion with some salt and pepper until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over top and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, season with salt and pepper, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat and whisk in 1 cup of each cheese. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce along with the baked meatballs and toss to combine. Pour everything out into a casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar and Swiss cheeses.

If serving immediately, toss the mac under the broiler until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Top with the chopped tomatoes and pickles, and serve.

Monday, May 24, 2010

We Made It!

Well, the pox dissipated just in time for the wedding, except for our youngest son; he broke out on Friday, unfortunately, so he was unable to attend.  However, my daughter WAS able to be the flower girl, so we were very happy about that.  (Thanks to all of you who were praying for us!)  It was a splendid outdoor wedding, and we are so excited for Brian’s brother and his new bride!


IMG_5071For those of you who are into doing your daughter’s or other girls’ hair, I have some blogs listed in my blog list that have some neat hairstyles to try!  I actually ended up doing my daughter’s hair myself, and it went quite well for an inexperienced hair “doer”.  :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

On a Happier Note

IMG_5012On Monday Brian and I celebrated our 13th anniversary.  We were able to go out for a nice dinner at J. Alexander’s, one of our treasured restaurants.  Just before dinner, we were blessed to purchase a travel system (car seat and stroller) from someone that is in excellent condition.  It is a taupe color with some purplish/burgundy accents – very nice!  We sat next to two tables at the restaurant who had fairly newborn babies.  I told Brian that it seemed God was trying to get us into baby mode.  After filling ourselves with delicious food, we drove a little out of the way, past home, to pick up a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup flurry (with chocolate ice cream, of course!) for us to split.  It was an enjoyable evening, and I was thankful for our time together.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dealing with the Pox!

IMG_5017 IMG_5014

For a few weeks now we have had chicken pox in our home, off and on.  It started about three weeks ago when my niece (who lives with us) brought it home from school.  She had a yucky case of it, and we were just sitting on the edge of our seats, expecting our kids would get it.  Well, sure enough, about 2.5 weeks later, they got it!  My older two broke out with the rash last weekend, and my youngest is still clean right now.  We are expecting him to break out with the next incubation in about 2 or 3 weeks.  This whole escapade has not been fun!  After my niece got it, we quarantined our family, for the most part.  My children have missed out on some things, and it’s not easy to see your children disappointed and suffering.  Looking back, I probably could have kept them out and about the first week after exposure since incubation takes 2 or 3 weeks, so they would not have been contagious in the beginning.  Now, I am worn out and hoping for a miracle.  My daughter is supposed to be the flower girl for my brother-in-law’s wedding on Sunday, and things don’t look great right now!  I expected her to be further along in recovery already.  I would appreciate your prayers!  I guess God is, yet again, trying to work out patience in me…

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  (James 1:2-4)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Grace - Love’s Companion

A few months ago I was speaking with a friend about some of the dynamics in our home.  She said, “Lisa, love is not enough.  In this situation, you need GRACE”.  At first that struck me funny.  Love is not enough?  It seems like enough, right?  LOVE is a HUGE thing… a BIG PART of the puzzle.  1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is not selfish, bears all things, hopes all things, and never fails.  It sounds like love should be enough.  However, as I evaluated the struggles I was having with my emotions, I realized her statement was true.  Without grace FROM GOD, FOR OTHERS, I could not have a successful home and move forward in what God was calling me to do.  It is the grace of God, the grace of life, that strengthens us and sweetens us to BE ABLE to love. 

Shortly after that conversation with my friend, I found a similar thought on OwlHaven’s blog.  (It it is very beneficial to read her post in its entirety).  She reiterated basically the same thing…

But if I can model grace, if I can strive to not take offense, I can be a part of the best kind of chain reaction there is, where one kind act leads to another.  Where love and grace are spread by people conscious they’re being loved better than they deserve.  It’s a hard, hard thing to do.  One that can only be done imperfectly, and only by God’s power.  But, oh, how I want that atmosphere to permeate my family.

In our homes and lives we need grace.  We need grace to:

*Accept God’s new mercies each day and forget the past.

*Forgive our brothers “seventy times seven” when they wound us or disappoint us repeatedly.

*Love those whom are hard to love.

*Be SLOW to anger.

*Live with joy and peace through difficult situations.

*Put aside our OWN needs, even when we feel empty and needy, and strive to SERVE others.

*Allow sweetness and kindness to permeate our beings and flow from us.

I am seeking God for more of His grace.  I wish you the same!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Getting Crafty

I really like ribbon necklaces.  I thinIMG_5002k they are very feminine and unique.  One of the problems I have found, though, is that I can’t find many in the stores or necessarily the type I desire.  Therefore, I decided I might try to *make* some ribbon necklaces.  Well, my mother-in-law’s birthday is on Monday, so she became my first victim.

Here is my first necklace.  The procedure and product was not perfect, but for my first try, I think it is pretty good.  Maybe I’ll make one for myself next.  :-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting Ready


I think I am finally realizing that I am going to have a BABY in about a month.  I am 34.5 weeks pg.  I’ve been thinking about what I need for the Baby, which is just about everything!, and recognize my need to start accumulating these items soon!

I went to Babies R Us yesterday with my daughter, and we picked up a just a handful of necessities – receiving blankets, pacifiers and a cute case, a beginner sippy, and some lavender baby wash.  There were many other things I could have bought, but I had a hard time deciding exactly what to buy on this spontaneous visit.  I need to make some decisions with hubby, like if we are going to try to get a used travel system (car seat and stroller) or go brand new.  Hmmmm…

I hope this baby is a girl, as the ultrasound tech. said, or else the boy will have to grow to like pink for a while.  :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Never Fear – The Goggles are Here!

(Photo from King Arthur Flour)Onion Goggles

Intimidated by cooking?  Fearing the moment you will have to slice into an onion?  Never fear again!  Purchase these Onion Goggles from King Arthur Flour at the low price of $19.95.  Your family will thank you, and you will be back on your way to cooking good, healthy, homemade meals! 

I had to chuckle when I saw these in the King Arthur catalog.  I can just picture someone preparing to cook dinner, quickly donning herself with her favorite apron and a pair of these onion goggles!!  Can you picture one of the chefs on the Food Network?

“Okay, folks, we’re going to make Savory Chicken Pot Pie… (out come the goggles)… Chop onion into small pieces…”

Gotta love it!  Too bad you didn’t see these in time to put them on your Mother’s Day wish list.  :-)

Honestly, though… My eyes used to tear badly when I first started cooking, but somewhere into my cooking “career”, my eyes stopped tearing and burning.  I guess it’s because I cut onions nearly every day!  Have you had the same experience?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Well, we did have a little Mexican celebration yesterday, as I mentioned I would probably do in my meal planning.  We made a chili pepper and sombrero garland, the Taco Ring for dinner (shown in the photo without garnishes), and of course, the Banana Choco Tacos for dessert.  We also talked about the history behind Cinco de Mayo and how it is celebrated today.

IMG_4942 IMG_4943

(If this photo doesn’t tempt you to make these, I don’t know what will!  They were delicious – a hit with everyone in the family!)


The instructions for the Banana Choco Tacos says to make them like quesadillas, without folding.  As you can see, mine are folded.  I thought these would be easier to eat.  I put a tortilla in the melted butter and loaded one side of it with the filling.  Then I folded it over.  Once the bottom was cooked, I turned it to cook the other side.  All of this happens quite quickly, so be on your toes!

Did you do anything special for Cinco de Mayo?


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Meal Planning

  • Chicken Noodle Soup, Bread
  • Taco Ring, Pineapple – probably tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo
  • Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup, Muffins and/or Salad
  • Beef Hot Dogs and/or Black Bean Burgers with Steak Fries
  • Pizza and Breadsticks
  • Shepherd’s Pie, Broccoli
  • Beef and Chili Burritos, Green Beans
  • Cheeseburger Mac. ‘N’ Cheese, Salad, Biscuits
  • Black Bean Burritos, Creamed Corn

Also, I am hoping to try a new recipe for dessert one night – Banana Choco Tacos.  (Hey, maybe for Cinco de Mayo also) :-) .

The Unveiling

A couple years ago we remodeled our living room.  Unfortunately, we did not continue through the connected foyer and up the stairs at that time.  Therefore, we have had a pretty dull, unfinished entry into our home for quite some time.  You can see the paint line of demarcation in the first photo, between the living room and foyer.


We worked on other projects, including the remodeling of our basement last summer, and finally went full speed ahead this year and hired out the work for the foyer.  We were looking forward to having this area of our home completed. 


After much ado, the foyer, stairway area, and upstairs hallway are now nicely trimmed and painted!  We continued the color from the living room (Benjamin Moore Stone House) and also put stripes (Benjamin Moore Spice Gold) in the foyer area.  It looks great!

We just have to make a couple more decisions, add our wall decor, and hopefully a new chandelier!  I feel very blessed!