Friday, January 29, 2010

Giveaway Winner


My first giveaway here at the Domestic Notebook was so much fun. Thanks to all who commented. We'll have to do something like this again soon!

Now for the winner.


Comment 23 was randomly chosen as the winner.

Teri H.

Congrats, Teri! I hope you enjoy your new waffle maker.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Giveaway Day

Click here to enter the Domestic Notebook's giveaway for a chance to have the Black and Decker Waffle Iron and Grill sent to your mailbox.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday: ABCs and 123s

With the new year, we've finally found our way back into our regular routine. It's amazing how the holidays, traveling and having visitors can really bump you out of your everyday habits. While the change is fun, it's nice to get back to the "usual things" we fill our days with. One such thing is Muffin Tin Mondays. While we've rarely done them on Monday, we enjoy the special lunch sometime during our week. This week's theme was ABCs and 123s.

Boo was excited to start this tradition again and from now on The Noodle gets to participate. Thanks to my mother-in-law, we have two new blue muffin tins so they each get their own spread. We had a big breakfast this morning so our lunch was pretty light. The boys had an A, B, and C cut out of bell peppers. For the 123s, they had piles of blueberries and grapes to count with. Well, The Noodle obviously didn't do any counting but enjoyed watching his brother instead. The yogurt was just a fun filler.
I flipped over one of these placemats and using a dry erase marker drew circles with different numbers next to each circle. As Boo ate his lunch, he practiced counting out the different amounts of grapes or blueberries, making a pile in each circle according to the number next to it.
{There are only 6 grapes where the number 7 is. Boo ate one before we moved on to the other numbers.}
He really enjoyed it so I think we'll be doing that again soon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Upcoming Giveaway

I'm excited to announce I'll be hosting my first giveaway here on The Domestic Notebook this Thursday. Be sure to check back and enter. Boy do I have a treat for the winner's mailbox! Get excited for this upcoming giveaway!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Aunt Debbie's Banana Cake

This cake is SO good. Everyone that's tried has loved it.

I don't have an Aunt Debbie. This is from my best friend's Aunt Debbie. Although really she's a dear family friend, not an actual relative. But don't tell either of them that.

I was first introduced to it at our annual Girls' Weekend last year in Phoenix. {Every year since graduating, I get together with 12 of my college girlfriends for a fun weekend of catching up.} Aunt Debbie graciously hosted all of us chatty girls at her house in Scottsdale one day during the weekend and she had this cake. This cake. I think we all left with a copy of the recipe. It's that good.

So here's a step-by-step so you can make it too.

Cake Ingredients:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
8 oz. {small} can crushed pineapple
2 cups ripe bananas, mashed {about 4 bananas}

Frosting Ingredients:
2 pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups chopped pecans

For the cake, mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Whisk together eggs and oil. Blend into the dry ingredients until combined. The batter will be pretty thick at this point and resemble dough. Don't worry, it'll thin out with the pineapples and bananas.
Add undrained pineapple and mashed bananas and stir to combine.
Grease and flour two layer pans. Pour half of the batter in each pan.You can use three pans if you'd like but the ratio of frosting to cake with three layers seems a bit much. The Good Doctor would disagree. His motto is that cake is merely a vehicle for icing. But really, 2 layers works just great but if you'd rather do 3, cut your baking time to approximately 25 minutes.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until done.
Remove pans from oven onto cooling rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove cakes from pans and cool completely on cooling rack.

For the frosting, beat softened cream cheese with softened butter. Beat in vanilla and slowly add powdered sugar. You can add an extra half a cup of powdered sugar {a total of 3 cups} if you like your frosting a little sweeter.

Place one cake layer on a platter. Tuck strips of parchment paper {I was out so I used foil} underneath the edges of the cake. Spread frosting on the top of the first layer. Invert second cake onto top of first.

Frost top and sides of stacked cake.Press chopped pecans into side of cake.

Pull parchment {or foil} strips out from under frosted cake.This is what the cake looks like sliced. Excuse the bad lighting. I hope you try this cake soon! For the printable recipe, click here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Craft Hope for Haiti

I haven't shared my thoughts about the disaster in Haiti here. First of all because I keep things mostly light-hearted here but secondly because I was out of town {read: out of touch} when it happened and it took me nearly a week to catch up on what was happening in the world. The disaster and continued suffering there has moved me to tears many times in the last week. We are praying for the people there and those that are working so hard to help. I came across something today that I wanted to share. It's called Craft Hope for Haiti.

It's a wonderful way to give to the disaster relief. Crafters have generously donated hundreds of beautiful items for purchase in the Craft Hope etsy store and all proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders in Haiti. I encourage you to check it out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Takin' Notes

I've come across some more great posts in Bloggyland so I figured it was time for another Takin' Notes roundup.

Photo: Nesting Place

First off, from The Nester, are genius tips for organizing your home in a way that minimizes nagging your kiddos and frees them up to be more responsible for themselves. I love it!

Photo: Homemade by Jill

Check out Jill's tutorial for this amazing cozy car caddy. Perfect for the doctor's office or anywhere else you have to wait around in line. I think I may make a couple of these for the boys for when they accompany me to my prenatal visits. Cheerios only keep them busy so long.

Photo: Joy the Baker

Mmm...Joy the Baker is a great blog full of sweet treats. I think I'll try these Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes with Boo and The Noodle soon. Might make a fun Muffin Tin Monday dessert theme.

There is a great post about Wall Groupings over at The Lettered Cottage. I love hanging things in groups like this, whether it be frames or plates. I just have to watch myself or my whole house will wind up looking like a collage.

Button

Randi at I Have To Say is having a quilt-along on her blog. It's a great chance for first-time quilters {like me!} to make a quilt step-by-step. I want to do it but may not keep up with her in real time. I have a few other projects I need to finish up before jumping into something new. Also, check out her incredible fabric shop at Etsy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Week of Friends and Family

Thanks for all of the great comments and ideas on my last post. Dealing with fussy kiddos in the late afternoon is somehow a little more tolerable when you know you're not alone!

I've had a busy last week. I traveled to Indiana early last week to spend some relaxing time {kid-free thanks to The Good Doctor that gave up some vaca time to play Daddy on Duty} with a couple girlfriends. It was such a refreshing break. We hung out, ate yummy food, knit, shopped and watched movies.
Bliss, I tell ya.

And it was a good thing I got that recharge because the moment I got home I set about preparing for my in-laws to arrive a few hours later. We had a great time with them here and I tried a few new appetizer recipes. They were all delicious so I thought I'd pass them on.
The first two are from PW and are great "make-ahead and freeze" recipes: Phyllo Mushroom Bundles and Cheddar Cheese Puffs.
I also tried this Creamy Spinach Mascarpone Dip by Steamy Kitchen. Yum!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cocktail Hour Cranksters

You know how babies have a fussy time in the late afternoon, right around dinner time? The Good Doctor and I have always referred to it as their "cocktail hour". A friend of mine's mom calls that time of day "The Valley of the Shadow of Death". Ha!

I remember with Boo that I fully expected that difficult time of day to disappear as he grew. Aww, new mother naivety. Unfortunately, that never really happened. Instead, as he got older his "fussiness" morphed into wanting to be held, then to whining, and finally boredom. Boo's a whole lot better now but I have endured {and continue to endure} many challenging afternoons of dealing with cranky kiddos while trying to get dinner together.

A friend asked me a while ago to do a post on ideas for dealing with cocktail hour crankiness. She was looking for ways to entertain her 2 1/2 year old while she was in the kitchen getting things done. So while I'll offer up a few of my ideas that have worked here and there over the last few years, she and I would really LOVE to hear yours!

Something that's worked well for my boys is having a tupperware cabinet. It's a cabinet full of tupperware and other nonbreakable kitchen items where the kids have free reign. The boys know it as their cabinet. It's the only cabinet in the kitchen they are allowed in. It's in the kitchen but in an out-of-the-way spot so they're not underfoot but are still with me. They can play there while I'm busy getting dinner ready. They help clean up when they're done and learn how to sort sizes and shapes as we put things back where they go, stacking similar shaped containers together.

The Noodle playing in the tupperware cabinet when he as younger.

We store their plates in there too. When dinner is ready I'll say, "Get yourself a plate and bring it to mommy." They like helping out however they can and this is a good precursor to having them help set the table.

Another activity that entertains them well is playing with Play-Doh. For some reason, that became an after nap pastime in our house. I set it all out for them at the kitchen table and they're usually preoccupied with it long enough for me to finish up whatever I'm doing. The Noodle is finally to the point where he can participate too without trying to eat the Play-Doh. It's worked well for us to have a special activity like Play-Doh that we reserve for after naptime, i.e. cocktail hour. If Boo asks to play with it in the morning, I'll let him. But he's become pretty accustomed to it being an afternoon thing.

Another idea, similar to the Play-Doh, would be to have a special box of toys or games that the kids can pick something out to play with during that time of the day. Maybe a fun game if they're older, or some pretend food or kitchen items like mini skillets, spatulas, etc.

So what are your ideas? Do you deal with this fussy time of day? Do you have any go-to solutions? I'd love to hear.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Shepherd's pie is one of my favorite comfort foods to make. That, and chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, fettuccine alfredo, and pot roast. I really like comfort food. I blame it on being raised in Texas. Texans are all about comfort foods.

I especially crave this stuff when I'm pregnant. My first trimester is always the worst, though I really try not to give in to the desire {too much!} to eat such calorie-laden foods. But the other night, I couldn't resist. The Good Doctor took me out on a date to a really great restaurant that had all sorts of deliciousness on the menu. And what did I go for? The grilled buffalo burger with fries. I felt like I was ordering chicken tenders at a Mexican food restaurant. It was a little embarrassing, but boy was it good! The Good Doctor had an amazing coffee-chili rubbed pork chop with smoked gouda mashed potatoes and peach chutney, which is what I would normally have gone for.

Anyways, back to the Shepherd's Pie. That is what this post is all about, right?
My mom made this a lot growing up and I loved it. Before I give you the step-by-step, here's what you'll need.

2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic
1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
1 Tbsp. worcestershire
1 tsp. beef bullion granules
2 Tbsp. flour
1 c. cold water
2 lbs. potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c. milk
2 heaping spoonfuls of sour cream
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

First, begin browning the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the meat is halfway browned {see below}, add the garlic, soup mix, worcestershire and beef bullion.

Stir occasionally until the meat is thoroughly cooked and browned.In a pyrex measuring cup or small bowl, mix the flour with the cold water. Whisk well to combine. Then add to the meat mixture and stir well to incorporate. Cook a couple more minutes until the sauce thickens.Remove the meat from the heat.

Use your favorite pie crust recipe and blind bake it. You don't have to do this but I prefer to blind bake my crust because it ensures a crispy, flaky crust. underneath all that meat. To bake the crust, place a layer of foil and some weights {I use ceramic pie weights} inside the shell. Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
For the mashed potatoes, I use 2 pounds of potatoes. I mix my boiled potatoes with 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup milk, a few heaping spoonfuls of sour cream, and plenty of salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the pie, pour the meat mixture into the pie shell.Top with mashed potatoes.Place the pie on a cookie sheet and sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese over the top.

Bake the pie at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the pie is heated through.
It's done. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

This Summer...

...we'll be welcoming a new addition to our family. We're really excited and are praising God for baby number three.

Forgive me if I haven't been posting as frequently. I've been flat out exhausted from this whole baby growing business. {I'll admit that my laundry pile is suffering more than this blog is. Better get on that!} I'm turning the corner to the second trimester and anticipate feeling a little more peppy soon. Oh, and we'll be finding out the gender at the beginning of March. I'll definitely share it here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

US Geography Piece by Piece

Boo got a Melissa & Doug map puzzle of the United States for Christmas and we LOVE that thing. He loves maps so he already knew several states to begin with. But boy has it amazed me how quickly he's added to his knowledge with this puzzle. It's fabulous.

I love games and toys that are as much fun as educational. And I really love the Melissa & Doug floor puzzles. We also have the fire truck and farm animals ones.

We always start with Texas because we're partial and because it's so big and easy to place on the map. Then, we add in the states surrounding it since Boo's familiar with those. As we find and position each state, we talk about who we know that lives there or what things relate to that state. There are also pictures on each state that we discuss such as the Statue of Liberty on New York or Mount Rushmore on South Dakota. Boo also learns relative placement {above, below, beside} and general cardinal directions {North, South, East, West} while he works. I will ask him, "What state is above Colorado?" And he remembers Wyoming. Then he looks for the one with the horse and cowboy on it.

I love geography and it's fun for me to see his interest in maps and places. Not to mention that these floor puzzles are one of our favorite pastimes when the weather is dreary.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Preschool Co-Op: All About Color

I taught our preschool this morning and we focused on learning about the color wheel and how mixing colors create new colors.

Here are some of the activities I incorporated.

I introduced the color wheel from a poster board I drew and told the kids about primary and secondary colors.

I didn't explain which colors were the complements as I thought it might be information overload for our 3 year olds.

To illustrate the secondary colors, we mixed colored water. Each child had a different primary color. They used the food coloring dropper to tint their water. Then, using a turkey baster, we combined two primary colors in a separate bowl. The kids were excited to see that the blue and yellow turned immediately green. We made all of the secondary colors and then reviewed which primary colors were combined to make each new color.

We reinforced what we just learned about color mixing on a worksheet with melted crayons.
I made the worksheet and the kids stepped up to the hot plate to draw their circles with the melting crayons. Where two primary colored circles overlapped, the kids observed the resulting secondary color. {See more about melted crayon art here.}

Next, we talked about the rainbow. I showed the kids this video that shows the colors in the rainbow. Afterward we talked about Noah and God's promise with the rainbow. I gave the kids this coloring sheet to color the rainbow.

Another activity we did was something I do often with Boo. I write different words on our dry erase easel {in this case I wrote the names of different colors}. Then, I call out a word and he has to sound it out, find it and erase the correct word. Each of the kids had a turn and they really liked this game.

I had another craft planned but we didn't get around to it. The kids were a bit rambunctious after taking a break from preschool last week. They were excited to see each other and were, uh...a little squirmy. Anyways, I had cut out the pieces of the color wheel from construction paper. The kids were to use a paper plate, glue and the color pieces to duplicate the color wheel on their own. You can also have them identify the complementary colors with colored stickers {I didn't have purple or orange for this example}.

We read an unrelated book during storytime. I wanted to check out Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle from the library to read, but they were all taken. Bummer.

When Boo woke up from his nap, I put some of the leftover colored water in spray bottles to "paint" the snow. {I saw the idea for this here.} Boo and The Noodle both had a blast doing this. Too bad you can't see their artwork in this pic. It was starting to get a little dark. They're anxious to paint more snow tomorrow.

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