Saturday, August 30, 2014

Family Fun at the 2014 Great Minnesota Get-Together (MN State Fair)

We headed over to the Minnesota State Fair, or the Great Minnesota Get-Together as many like to call it on Thursday with the boys. In total we were there for about 5 or 6 hours. What helped us survive the state fair with 2 little ones under 3 was:

     * Extra snacks packed with
     * Rain gear packed as their was light rain in the forecast
     * Easy to maneuver, lightweight strollers
     * Going early in the day
     * Making the first half of the day about them and doing all the things they'd enjoy
     * Making the last half for us. They were tired and content in their strollers  and we got to see the things
        we wanted.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed. Great way to start the fair!
My deep-fried favorite at the fair this year. Queen olives, stuffed with cream cheese and then deep fried, served with ranch dipping sauce.  This year we had a Chicken Gyro from the International Market, deep fried olives, bullseye (chocolate dipped peanut butter then battered and deep fried), corn dog, Sweet Martha Cookies, and french fries.

A view from the top. Roman and I went on the Ferris Wheel. On our way to the fair he said he wanted to ride this ride and when we asked what his favorite part of the fair was he said the Ferris Wheel.
Who can resist the Ferris husband. I guess it's not for everyone.

A view from the top!
More Rides....(monster trucks, Dumbo, and a train)

Kemps Little Farm Hands. Roman and Logan got to do farm work for the day. They were rewarded with fake money that they got to use to purchase a little prize in the end and free samples of ice cream. Not too bad!

A pit stop for Mommy & Daddy! Land of 10,000 brews! As a bonus, I got a free flight of beer...mistakenly. I got my flight of beer, brought it up to the counter to pay for it, and the confused cashier asked what I was doing. I told her I was paying for my flight of beer...apparently, I was suppose to buy a ticket, and then give it in exchange for a flight of beer. Her response "Oh just got yourself some free beer. They should have asked you for a ticket, so enjoy!" And we did!

While on Machinery Hill checking out the tractors, Roman and Logan had to test drive a John Deere of course! was parked, but they made all the necessary sounds for real life mowing!

And our final stop was at the horse barn. One of my favorite stops. Such beautiful creatures.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rosemary Bread Machine Bread

I had another successful run with my bread-machine! I made Rosemary bread using fresh Rosemary from our herb garden at home. It was very easy and the result was a bread similar in taste to the bread they serve at Macaroni Grill. Yum.

I'm missing the black pepper in this picture, but you get the idea.

I found a recipe on Pinterest and made some changes and came up with the recipe below. Of course there is variation from the original recipe! Like I've said in previous posts - I like to bake dangerously, and recklessly abandon recipes!

Rosemary Bread Machine Bread:
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tastefully Simple Italian Garlic Bread Seasoning (can replace with  Italian seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper 
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh rosemary rough chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Instructions: Add ingredients in the above order to your bread machine.
Bread Machine Settings: 1.5 loaf, white bread, medium crust.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bread Machine Misadventures

I am the worst when it comes to baking. My husband knows this, and I know this. However, I am determined to try. So I've been trying my luck with my bread machine again. I've set out to find some easy, delicious, and cheap recipes to make my own bread in the bread machine. It's a bread add the ingredients of a recipe, and it does the rest. How can I fail at this? Don't worry, I found a way. 

Even when a machine does all the work for you, I still find a way to mess up a recipe, venture on my own, wing it, etc. That's why I love to cook instead - mistakes are forgiving and often welcome in cooking. Baking is by the book - and I like to live dangerously when I cook! 

So my journey begins with 2 out of the 3 loaves that I've made so far being fails. Here is what I've made so far:

Whole Wheat Honey Bread: FAIL!
I honestly can't remember what the recipe was that I found online. It was just kind of bleh. The honey was lacking and it was really dense. 

Onion Bread: SUCCESS!
I found this recipe in a bread machine recipe book from my parents old bread machine growing up. It had tons of flavor, very light/airy and had a great crust.  

Onion Bread
1 pound loaf. Do not use delay option. Add below ingredients to pan in this order.

2/3 cup water
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp Tastefully Simple Onion Onion*
2 teaspoons margarine or butter, softened
2 Cups Flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 teaspoons dry milk**
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yest or quick acting active dry yeast (1 packet)

White bread
1lb loaf
Crust: Medium 

* I added this to the recipe
** I omitted this from the recipe, since I was out and it still turned out great.

Banana Macadamia Nut Bread: MAJOR FAIL!
No egg white & no macadamia nuts on hand = who needs those anyway! 

The recipe called for an egg white, and I realized after getting half the ingredients in the pan, that I was out of eggs. I quickly Googled a substitute, and found you can mix 1 tablespoon Flax & 3 tablespoons water. Great news! So I did just that. I got everything in the pan, only to realize I forgot to attach the mixing blade. Ugh, really!! So I dumped everything into a bowl, attached the blade, poured the dough mixture back into the pan, and voila...none the wiser, right?

WRONG!! What is this even? Can I even call this bread? 

Well, off to find new recipes and to enjoy my misadventures of baking bread in a bread machine!

August 2014 - Ipsy Subscription Review

My August Ipsy subscription arrived. I wasn't excited about their plastic (cheap looking) cosmetic bag, but I did like the pattern/color. I got 2 full size products and the rest were sample sizes.

August's Products & Estimated Value:
Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner (Sample ~$11.25)
Urban Decay Perversion Mascara (Sample ~$5.50)
J. Cat Beauty Flying Solo Eye Shadow (Full Size - $2.99)
Jersey Shore Sun Mongongo Lip Conditioner (Full Size - $5.50)
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (Sample - $6.50)

Total Estimated Value: $31.74 + Cosmetic Bag

Overall this wasn't my favorite Ipsy bag and the value was lacking from previous months. However, I will probably use everything in the bag or at least try it out.

Friday, August 15, 2014

August 2014 Birchbox Subscription Review

So I've been having fun with the subscription box Ipsy and decided to try a new subscription box called Birchbox. It's very similar to Ipsy, and it's also only $10 a month shipped. It arrived today! :)

I found this pretty pink box in my mail today! :)
What do you receive with Birchbox?
Every month, you'll receive a box filled with 4-5 beauty, grooming, and lifestyle samples from both up-and-coming and well known brands.

August 2014 Birchbox - What's inside?
The Tee-Hee box had the perfume and lip gloss inside it

  • Catherine Malandrino - Style de Paris Fragrance (sample): I like the scent. Very light, crisp, summery
  • K6 Skincare - clear Antioxidant Facial Cleanser (sample): clear color and the smell reminds me of Noxima
  • LAQA & Co - Sheer Lip Lub Pencil in Bees Knees (full size): fun coral color, smells/tastes like a mint toothpick, not too thick or cakey feeling
  • Noir Cosmetics - Long-Wear Eyeliner in black (full size): I haven't tried this one yet, but the words creamy & velvety in it's description has me believe it would go on nice and I like that it's waterproof. P.S. - Why don't they say tear proof instead of waterproof...isn't that what we are the most concerned about? Mull that around for a while, but I think I'm right.
  • Whish - Shave Crave Shaving Cream Acai Grapfruit (sample) - I also haven't tried this one yet but it has shea-butter in it and it smells great. Full size $20!!! Woof!

Birchbox Pro's & Con's List:

  • $10 a month shipped! Not too shabby considering I got 2 full-sized products, and just those 2 products alone are worth $33.
  • Products are high-end and are a good variety (not 3 different lipsticks)
  • The box comes addressed to The Brilliant __(your name)__
  • I like that they include a description card. It lists out the product name, cost of the full-size product, a description of what it is, and how to use it. I like that you don't have to go on their website, or do your own research, to figure out how to use it, or how much it would cost you. You can still go on their website for more info, but I like that they provide a quick description in the box.  

I got full-size products of the LAQA & Co. lip gloss and the Noir eyeliner

* It comes in a box vs. a cute reusable cosmetic bag that Ipsy offers. Granted I'll probably recycle the box I like that I'd actually reuse the cosmetic bags from Ipsy.

Overall, I liked this months products and will use all of them. I think I'll give it another month, but as of right now I am leaning towards Ipsy. I don't need to have 2 beauty subscription boxes, and I like getting the reusable cosmetic bags from Ipsy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Camping with Toddlers & Camping Craft

This last weekend we went camping for the first time as a family of 4 in Wisconsin. We had a great time and am happy to announce it was a success! Yes, we went camping with a 2 year old and a 1 year old and survived. Yes, it was in a tent, but we also like a few luxuries when we camp...air mattresses, 1-minute easy set up Coleman tent and we have a battery operated fan. For Logan  (1yr) we brought his pack n' play and for Roman (2 yr) we used a twin air mattress.

Tips for camping with little ones:
* Prep all food and make foods that are easy to prepare -think pasta salads, sandwiches, hot dogs
* Bring lots of snacks
* Accept that your kids will be up later than normal
* Bring a bucket - have them collect different things (like a scavenger hunt).
* Bring all their favorites - blankie, beloved stuffed animal, etc.
* Bring a travel high chair - this was great for eating
   and confinement when you no longer want to chase!
* Bring long pants, long shirt, socks (so at dusk you
   can change them to help prevent mosquitoes)
* Bring a flashlight/lantern - kids love to play with it and great for bedtime

It was such a success that we are already planning our next camping trip. Roman hasn't stopped talking about it. This morning I asked him what he wanted to do today and he said "go camping!" So I told him we coudln't go camping today, but we could pretend. I helped him make a tent, sleeping bag, and trail mix.


Construction Paper
Popcicle sticks
Stickers/Photo's to use for heads
Stickers/Markers/Crayons to decorate tent
Double sided tape

We needed to refuel after all that crafty fun, so we made some trail mix.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Olaf (from Frozen) Paper Plate Puppet Pinterest Success!

I had a stack of regular paper plates on hand so I decided to find a quick craft I could make with the boys. I came across this paper plate Olaf (from the movie Frozen) puppet. Roman loves Frozen and loves this was a great kid craft find. My 2.5 year old couldn't help much on this one besides putting the glue on the popcicle stick, but he was extremely excited with the outcome after I had completed it.

Pinterest Success or fail: Success!
Prep: 5-10 minutes
Level of difficulty: Easy 

What you need:
* White paper plate
* Black marker
* Orange marker
* Black paper
* Popsicle stick
* Elmer's glue

Pinterest model

My copy! Ok, mine is a little more frightening,
but I didn't think it was too bad considering it
was my first attempt.

Since I've been gone.....

It's been a while since my last post. We have been switching around internet providers and had issues with my computer. So here is what we've been up to since.

1) Logan found out what sand tasted like

2) We landscaped under our deck and turned this space into a kid's play area (see additional post)
3) We went to an art fair with Grandma at the Munsinger Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud, MN. Beautiful!

4) I found out what a cucamelon is! (see post about it for an educational experience!)
5) We captured a baby toad in our backyard, made him a home, and watched him a few days before releasing him unto the wild again. Roman loved checking in on him.

Our temporary pet toad...he's on the rock.
6) Enjoying summer....parks, picnics, playing outside, etc.

Pizza Picnic
Lunch date with my boys