Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fun Floor Stuff to Do With Your Kids

Take them on a fantasy adventure.
Giving credit where credit is due:

Travel the world with them.
Giving credit where credit is due:

Read books with them.
"Little Red Riding Hood"

Giving credit where credit is due:

Dress them like their best friend so they can be twinkies.
Couldn't find the actual page of this photo but it came from this site:

Teach them to spell their name.
August 23, 2011 blog date

Make them King for a Day.
I don't know origin of this pic.

This activity was shared on:
Where Nothing Good Comes Easy
Couponing & Reviewing in Texas

Monday, August 29, 2011

Teddy Bear Bread

These baby bear breads are so cute I just wanna eat 'em up.  The blog where I got this pic is in Japanese. It's called "Happy Rainbow 365, fashionable rice every day".  The man's daughter asked him to make these for her. What a good daddy! Using google I translated the site to English but the recipe was still in Japanese. 

After researching I found these 2 translations. The ingredients are exactly alike in both recipes except for the amount of dry yeast.  I don't know who's correct. I will definitely make both recipes, but I'm guessing the 2nd recipe is correct because of the details and pics she posted.  I also need to download a cups to grams conversion chart for the measurements. I wonder if America will ever change to the metric system.

I kept all the measures metric like the original recipe.
Kuma-chan Pan (Little Bear Bread)
200g Bread Flour
10g Sugar
3g Salt
60g Water
60g Milk
10g Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Dry Yeast
1. Warm the milk to just below boiling in a heavy pan. Place the flour and salt into the bowl. Add the milk, lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast. Combine into a smooth dough.
2. Knead the butter into the bread and form a ball. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
3. (Just noting how much the dough should double via the picture)
4. Place the dough on a rolling mat. Cut off one gram and divide it into 20 pieces for the ears. Divide the rest of the dough into 10 pieces. Allow them to rest for 15 to 20 minutes on a damp tea towel.
5. Gently dampen the dough all around. Lightly press the two ears each onto the head. (The dough is easier to handle when slightly damp.)
6. Gather up the sides of a tea towel to form channels, placing the dough inside the channels, and allow it to rise until doubled in size once again.
7. If you don’t have a tea towel instead, place the dough on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. (If you don’t have paper, spray it with water.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap as it rises. (For baking, you’ll be using the paper-lined cookie sheet)
8. For Brown Bears – Preheat the oven to 220 C, lower to 190 C and bake for 15-20 minutes.
For White Bears – Preheat the oven to 190 C, lower to 160 for the first 10 minutes, then lower 130 for the last 5-10 minutes.
(Know that ovens and bake times will vary)
Draw on the face with a food coloring marker.

I found a 2nd translation. 

Kuma-chan pan (Cute bear buns)


  • Bread flour: 200g
  • Sugar: 10g
  • Salt: 3g
  • Water: 60g
  • Milk: 60g
  • Butter: 10g
  • Dry yeast: 2 teaspoons


Sift flour.
Heat milk until almost boiling and let cool (this encourages the gluten in the bread).


  1. In a bowl, combine the bread flour and salt. Add the water (heated to about 32° C if you’re making this in winter), cooled milk, sugar, and dry yeast. Mix thoroughly. When it resembles one ball, place on a flat surface and knead until a smooth texture is achieved.
  2. When smooth, knead in the butter [which has been melted, then cooled to room temperature] bit-by-bit. Place the dough into a round bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place. Wait until the dough has risen to approximately twice its initial size. This is the first stage in letting the dough rise.
    Bread dough
  3. It should look something like this after the first rising.
    Risen bread dough
  4. Place the dough on a benchtop or chopping board and prepare the bears’ ears by cutting 20 1g pieces and rolling them into small balls. Cut the remaining dough into 10 equal portions and roll into balls. Place all pieces between a pair of damp cloths (e.g. wrung-out teatowels) for 15-20 minutes (use a timer).
    Dough balls
  5. Squeeze each ball a bit to force out any gas pockets, and then re-roll into spheres. Take each large ball and firmly press two ears onto it. Place a damp cloth over them to prevent any drying-out.
    bears made of bread dough
  6. Gently placing all 10 assembled bears into damp “bread mats”, then put them in a warm place for the second rising stage. Make sure all the bears are oriented upwards (to not disturb their ears). Place a damp cloth over everything. Wait until the bears have roughly doubled again in size.
    [I'm not sure what bread mats are, so I followed step 7 below.]
    Bears ready for second rising
  7. If you don’t have any “bread mats”, take some oven trays and place them on the benchtop. Placing the bears on the trays, spray with a water atomiser. Take some drinking glasses and fill them with water, then place them in various locations around the tray. Cover the whole lot with plastic wrap, gently dropping the wrap on from above. Wait until the bears have roughly doubled again in size.
    Bears ready for second rising
  8. For lightly browned bread, preheat your oven to 220 degrees, then bake the bears for 15-20 minutes at 190 degrees.
    For a white finish, preheat to 190 degrees, bake at 160 degrees for 10 minutes, then drop the temperature to 130 degrees for a further 5-10 minutes. If they start to brown, immediately place an upside-down enamel bowl over them, or cover with aluminium foil. Keep an eye on the bears while baking, because oven temperatures vary and are not always accurate or comparable.
    Now you can decorate your bears with edible seaweed or a chocolate pen to draw the face!
    Finished bear buns
  9. This recipe was written while using “Haruyutaka” flour. Depending on protein level and seasonal variation, the moisture content of your flour may vary slightly, so please be aware of this.
    [I used standard British Strong Bread flour and it worked well.]

Teddy Bear Bread was shared at:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Van's Natural Foods Waffles and Pancakes Coupon

Van's is a wheat free, organic and all-natural breakfast.  I usually serve this brand to my son because it's not loaded with chemicals and doesn't seem to make his ADD worse. Being the not-so-perfect parent I must admit that during the summer it's an all-out chemical fest with Toaster Strudel, cinnamon rolls, Fruit Roll Ups, and Eggo waffles. But during the school year breakfast has to be healthy and time is not always on our side so I choose Van's.  But Van's is slightly higher in price than Pillsbury and Eggo so a coupon is always welcome.

There's a coupon for Van's on Facebook. I don't know how long it will be available so hurry.
"Like" Van's Natural Foods on Facebook.
Click on Breakfast with Benefits on the left side and you should be able to print out coupon.
If you cannot print out coupon your secure browsing is probably enabled. Try this (copied off Van's wall):

To get the coupon, Like this page > go Account (upper right) > Account Setting > Security (upper right) > Secure Browsing > Edit > uncheck Box > Save Settings Log Out. Log in. Log Out again > Log in > Search Vans > Find Breakfast w/Benefits Link (left sidebar) > Get Coupon > Go back and Turn On Secure Browsing again - what a chore! (hope this helos, it worked in Firefox 3)

If this doesn't work email them at consumeroutreach@vansfoods.com and ask them for a coupon.

Kroger has a sale this week until August 30th on Van's waffles for $1.99. With coupon it will be .99 cents.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Up", Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloons

Lately "Up" has been playing on Uverse and because there's nothing better to watch on the other 500 channels we pay for I end up leaving the channel on this movie. I love this touching, heartwarming movie although it has an underlying current of sadness with the loss of Ellie and Russell's parents. I think the sadness really hits home because I don't want to even entertain the thought of living this life without my husband or leave my children to be orphans.  

Now here's a delicate question I have for Disney and Pixar:  "Why is the mom/wife usually dead in your movies?"  

I'm baffled by this repetitive plot. Did a psychologist tell the Disney crew "The audience will automatically feel sympathy for the character if a parent is not present thus causing a rise in emotions building a strong connection. Because of this connection the audience will fall in love with the character and subconsciously want to support the character even though he/she is fiction. The viewer will freely spend more money on movie items such as shirts, toys, and Happy Meals. The kids are happy with their new stuff. The Disney empire will grow even larger and eventually take over the world."? (Insert sinister laugh here.)  

Let me list all the movies I can think of in which the mom/wife is not present:  
Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Little Chicken, Nemo, Despicable Me, Cloudy with Meatballs, Pocahontas, Aladdin, Great Mouse Detective, The Rescuers, all Goofy movies, etc. I'm sure there are many more movies that escape my mind. 

But let's not dwell on the heart-churning-gut-wrenching-emotional-roller-coaster plots of Disney and Pixar anymore.  Let's turn our focus on life!!

Here are photos that should bring a smile to your face.

I just want to hug and squeeze this kid.

Engagement pictures inspired by "Up."  I'm so jealous I didn't think of things like this when I got married 20 years ago. 


Monday, August 22, 2011

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from RRay

Rachael Ray's Official Website

I tried to email this recipe to myself but it never came through. I'm posting it here so I can do a quick look up when I need it.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING by Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery on | 07/08/09

The ladies at sugar Sweet sunshine bakery in NYC graciously gave us this recipe. You can use it on cakes, cupcakes or even brownies!

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla


Melt chocolate in microwave, checking after each 30 second interval to make sure you do not burn the chocolate. Stir and let cool.
Using the paddle attachment on a Mixmaster or using a hand beater, beat the butter and chocolate together until smooth.
Add 2 cups of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk. Cream these ingredients until well blended. Add the rest of the sugar and the milk and combine. Add the vanilla and mix in.
frosting should look like this when ready

Your frosting is ready to be used!
Note! If it is too thick, add a little more milk. If too thin, add a little more sugar.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bizarre Wedding Table

I found this picture and I just had to share it because I can only imagine how children would react if they sat down to a table such as this. Composure would be totally out the window and they would be constantly giggling much to the dismay of their parents. I know that children would probably not be invited to an event with this table but it is still a funny thought.

I have a print of Michelangelo's "Creation of Man" and I've personally seen kids' surprise and embarrassment upon seeing this print. They laugh at Adam's tee tee. I never thought of it before but I wonder if that changes their opinion of me. What kind of lady has a picture of a nude man in her house?

When I was a child we frequently visited my parent's good friend. My siblings and I called her our aunt even though technically we're not blood related. (Well, I hope we're not blood related because my sister is married to one of her sons.) My aunt had an wooden statue of an abstract female form in her living room. Now that I think about it, it was really a beautiful piece. But when were kids it was just something we laughed at. I personally avoided looking at it. One time during a party my aunt's sons dared my brother to kiss the statue's chest for 25 cents. Now in the seventies 25 cents could buy a bag of Brachs mixed candy and to a 6 yr. old that's a lot of candy. So my brother walked right out in the living and kissed that statue. Our father was talking to a group of men and witnessed the whole thing. I'm sure he was in shock. My brother got in trouble but so did the sons. So if that little 2-foot statue in my aunt's house created such a stir, I believe the pink table setting could cause a riot.

The abstract statue was similar to this except it had more detail and was lovelier.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Bouquet of Sharpened Pencils

"Don't you just love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."  ~ You've Got Mail

Last weekend of summer before school. I feel dread coming upon me. I'm trying to get mentally ready. My youngest son's homework is the bane of the school year. What should only take 1 hour can take up to 3 hours. Some days we start at 4 pm and by 7pm it's still not done. Plus, we've been told by psychologists to give him plenty of breaks in between. Ehh. You can imagine our stress level during the week when dinners have to made, organic and healthy lunches fixed, the daily required reading, other activities, and we got to get to bed at a decent hour.

Technically because of my son's vision problems he is supposed to have his homework reduced by 25%. We do have a valid medical reason for this accommodation. But last year his teacher sent homework on Fridays giving us the weekend to do his homework and eliminating the need for the reduction. This year if it's really bad I'm going to push the accommodation for less homework to be enforced. However, I am torn between forcing him to do all his homework and allowing 25% less. I'm not sure if "Less is More" in this case. If he doesn't do all the lessons will it hurt later on down the road when the lessons get more difficult? It's hard being a parent. There's always a fine line of pushing your kids too hard and babying them. What's the right decision? IDK. I'm praying for guidance and hoping that we have a great teacher again this year who is understanding and patient.

A funny side note: last year when my son's teacher asked him why he wasn't doing his work in class he told her it's because of my ADD and autism. I had to explain to him that DOES NOT excuse him from paying attention and doing his work in class even though I was laughing inside. I guess he overheard me talking to the optometrist about him doing less schoolwork and figured he could get away with this because I never told him he would have less homework.

While on the subject of school, I've been looking for the best bargains on school supplies. Target and Walmart have been disappointing in their sale prices this year. For many years I had a good stock of school supplies, but this past year there have been many requests from organizations for donations of school supplies. I gave most of my stock away. I think many non-profit organizations are having hard times due to the recession.

If you're willing to go shopping on a weekly basis, this is the time of year is when the office supply stores have the best deals. They usually have stuff for pennies. At Office Deport I bought 5 glue bottles and 5 rulers for 1 penny each. 5 is the max they allow. I also got 3-pack erasers for .50 and pack of pencils for .25. You just can't beat those deals. If you don't have kids, buy the penny items and donate them. Last year Starbucks had a basket to donate supplies. Or you can just drop them off at your local elementary school. I'm sure they would appreciate it.

Here's a review on the Ipoint pencil sharpener. This pencil sharpener runs about $12. I actually got it on clearance last year for $2.48, but I just opened the package while sorting thru the supply closet. This is a good buy. It sharpens pencils so sharp they feel like a needle at the tip.
Pencils sharpend with iPoint.

I also found some spiritually uplifting folders and notebooks at Walmart. I was surprised to see them. They are about $1 more expensive than the "regular" notebooks. I bought one anyway to show Walmart people do buy christian products.  Last week I saw these same items in my church bookstore.

The Heat Dome

YUCK!! The heat cap is back. Texas has been under a heat cap for weeks. I'm calling it the dreaded HEAT DOME.  In the beginning of July the media said that the heat cap was like a shield and it would make the rain clouds dissipate before it rained. Twice - big, ominous clouds rolled in and it looked like definite rain and just like the media said the clouds dried up. They said we were going to break records and it wouldn't rain for a long time. I was starting to believe the media (gasp) and I never believe them.  But God is so good!  He sent us rain last Saturday morning and as a bonus - instead of being muggy the entire day was just beautiful.

Texas Heat Cap
I feel like we are ants suffering under a magnifying glass.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Free Biore Sample


One day I'll figure out how to add a button that says click HERE for the link but until then here is the link old school style.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mushroom Cookies for Alice in Wonderland Party

This is the process of the sugar cookies I made for my niece's Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party.

I used the recipe for sugar cookies from Martha Stewart's website.  I also used her egg-free royal icing. I cut the recipe in half because it makes way too icing if you're just going to use it for outlining the cookies. I also added about a teaspoon of vanilla powder for more flavor. The vanilla powder does not tint the icing brown as vanilla extract liquid would.

At first I used a knife to cut out the shape of the mushroom. But cutting out a bazillion mushrooms by hand grew tiresome very quickly. Exasperation led to inspiration and I found an Easter basket cookie cutter that was shaped like a mushroom.  Using the cookie cutter was much easier and faster. I like things to be fast and easy except for my man.


After baking outline cookies with royal icing. This creates a barrier so the glaze does not drip down the sides. Royal icing hardens quickly so while you are decorating keep cling wrap over the icing bowl. I also used disposable decorating bags for the royal icing. It is easier than trying to wash out the polyester or canvas bags.

The next process is called flooding. Flood your cookies with a glaze and it spreads out to cover the cookie. I made a simple glaze by mixing powdered sugar, a little bit of milk, vanilla powder, and small amount of pure vanilla extract. I didn't measure anything I just eyeball the consistency. Add more milk if you want it runny and add more sugar if you want it stiffer.  If you don't have vanilla powder there is also clear vanilla extract at Walmart and grocery stores but it's imitation, not pure. The powder vanilla is available at Williams-Sonoma. Martha Stewart ices the entire cookie with royal icing but that is extremely time consuming and tedium is not my medium. The glaze is much faster.

My glaze recipe: 2 cups powder sugar, 10-12 tblsp milk or less than 1/4 cup, 1 tsp vanilla powder, and a drop of pure vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. I like vanilla powder because the vanilla extract makes the glaze beige. There is a product that is colorless vanilla but it is NOT pure vanilla extract. I did have to make another batch of glaze because the recipe made more than 50 cookies.

You can see some red icing still dripped off the sides, but if I hadn't outlined the cookies the glaze would be all over the counter instead of the cookies.

Use royal icing for the dots and the words.

I love glitter!

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