Monday, November 29, 2010

Netflix Stars - Away We Go

5 stars! What a hidden gem of a movie! The trailers did not do it justice - at all. It definitely showcases Maya Rudolph's talents way beyond the scope of her work on Saturday Night Live. Treat yourself to this indie and enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $5.49 at Randalls
Number of teabags: 18
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: White
Steeping time: 4 minutes
Mix ins: Hot with fat-free condensed milk. It also tastes good with milk and a little bit of sugar. I haven't tried it with just honey yet, but doesn't that sound good, too?
Teabag fragrance: Rosy
Ingredients: Only two! 100% natural Fair Trade Certified and Organic Certified white tea and Organic Certified rose petals
Opinion: This grows on you. At first I thought it was very reminiscent of my grandmother's soap!? Then I tried another mug, then another. It is a very calming tea. In fact, in the midst of all the Thanksgiving dinner preparations, I took a break and had some of this. Just what I needed to get back into the kitchen, revitalized.
This is what Numi has printed on the box --
"Roses have been a symbol of love and beauty since the dawn of romance. Numi's enchanting Velvet Garden releases a provocative sweet rosy taste as it blushes a soft pink. With every sip this liaison of organic rose petals and delicate Spring White tea imparts a silken smoothness. White Tea is the tender bud of the tea plant making it exquisitely subtle and supremely healthy. High in antioxidants and Vitamin C, this uplifting Fair Trade Certified white tea blend will be the beginning of a long lasting love affair."
If this doesn't make you want to run out and buy one, I don't know what other words will!
Rating: 4.5

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fast, Easy and Cheap Christmas Wreath!

These three items from Target's Dollar Spot turn into
this --->
Total cost - $3
Total time - 15 minutes
Just fluff out the wreath and stick the ornaments on different branches. No need for wires, they slip right on. Target also has the wreaths and tubes of ornaments in different colors. I liked the more "retro" silver wreath with the multi colored ornaments.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Originally called "Frosted Pumpkin Bars" from the Penzeys Fall 2003 catalog, but when I brought them to a party, everyone was calling them Pumpkin Pie Bars!

I later found a very similiar recipe in Light & Tasty magazine -- the only things which made it "lighter" were the eggs (4 eggs whites plus 2 whole eggs. That seems like a waste of half a dozen eggs. Just eat a smaller piece!) and canola oil (1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons of water) They also omit the ginger and the nutmeg --And they leave out the butter in the cream cheese frosting. Suffice to say, I have not made the Light & Tasty recipe. I just tore it out of the magazine and stuck it behind the Penzeys one.

To be honest, when I'm bringing these to a party, I make Penzeys full throttle version! Hey and yay! -- It's the holidays!

Frosted Pumpkin Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 15-oz can solid packed pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together the dry ingredients (except for the sugar) and set aside. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin and beat well. Gradually add the dry stuff and blend well. Pour the batter into an ungreased jelly roll pan (17x12x1). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If you use a 9×13 pan, bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting and cut into squares.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz (1 package) cream cheese, softened at room temp - I use Neufchatel Reduced Fat
1 stick butter, softened at room temp - I actually use 1/2 stick (1/4 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
4 cups powdered sugar

Mix together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and milk until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time. Add additional milk if the frosting seems too dry.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sparkling Peppermint Cookies

Each year I try to find at least one new recipe to add to my Christmas cookie collection. This was the first one I tried, and now the first one I've added to our 2010 holiday celebration.
This recipe is from the 2010 Land O'Lakes Holiday Cookies Recipe Collection magazine, page 17. I reduced the butter by 1 1/2 tablespoons and used unsalted butter. Every little bit helps - And it was still a yummy crispy-chewy cookie! I used regular sugar to roll the cookies, but was later able to find Wilton Sprinkles White Sparkling Sugar at Super Target, 8 ounces for only $2.19. I plan to use that next batch for an even more festive look.
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (minus 1 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crushed mini candy canes or peppermint candies, divided use
1/4 cup sugar
Heat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside
Combine 3/4 cup sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and peppermint extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low, add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Beat until well mixed. Stir in 1/4 cup crushed candy into dough.
Stir remaining 1/4 cup crushed candy into 1/4 cup sugar.
Shape dough into 3/4" balls, roll in sugar mixture. Place two inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. I rotate the cookie sheets halfway through. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute, then remove to wire cooling rack. Try to cool completely before eating. Makes 4 dozen cookies. (Three dozen if you are in a hurry and make 1" balls using two cookie sheets!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Personalized Baby Diapers

This is my favorite baby gift to make! You can still find cloth diapers at Target in either the 6-pack or 12-pack.

When my daughter was a baby, I would make several of these to coordinate with her outfit and mine! I'd have seasonal ones, too.

For baby shower gifts or if they hadn't decided upon the baby's name, I would sew neutral colors of turquoise and yellow, and sayings with "Baby Dear," "Cutie Pie," "Sugar and Spice," "Sweetheart" etc., pinning them together with a diaper pin.
I enjoyed making these with Sulky's varigated thread 40 weight (the multicolored one, second from the bottom) and Mettler's 30 weight. I couldn't tell the difference in the final result. Both threads were easy to use (no breakage) and gave good stitching results.
The Viking Husqvarna 1100 stitches used were D14 (flower/4-leaf clover), D24 (hearts) and F17 (snowflake/flower) and the C Script lettering card with two spaces between the letters.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week -- Bigelow Pumpkin Spice Autumn Spiced Tea

Cost: $2.19 on sale at Kroger

Number of teabags: 20

Caffeine: Yes

Type of tea: Black

Steeping time: 4 minutes

Mix ins: Fat free condensed milk

Teabag fragrance: Ginger and cinnamon

Ingredients: Black tea, natural pumpkin flavors, cinnamon, licorice root, clove, ginger, pumpkin flakes

Opinion: It tastes just like pumpkin pie! Especially more so if you use the thicker condensed milk. Regular milk gives it a more spice latte tea feel. Grab an extra box or two of this seasonal treat before it disappears.

Rating: 4

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Sales

November 26/Friday - Doors open at 6 AM
$1.29/yard flannels

November 27/Saturday - Doors open at 7 AM
$79.99 Gutermann thread 100 spool cabinet
$2.99 10 yard bolt fusible interfacing

3-Day Sale - November 26/28
BIGIF thread
BIGIF butons
99 cents Butterick patterns

3-Day Super Savings Sale - December 2/4
$1.99 McCall's
$3.99 Vogue

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stila at Costco!

What a Stila of a deal at Costco right now! The Blockbuster Color Palette is only $19.99 - Item #514275

30 eyeshadows, 15 lip colors, 3 cheek colors, 1 highlighter, 1 bronzer, 1 eye liner, 1 lip liner, 2 applicators, 1 lip brushy and 1 blush brush.
Special thanks to my daughter for letting me open and photograph her gift!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Swimming with my iPod!

I got my new little iPod Shuffle a bathing suit so I can take it swimming with me as I do my laps! I found it at H2O Audio.

Right now, the Amphibx GRIP Waterproof Armband is is the only holder out there which will fit the newest generation Shuffle.

They told me within three months they should have the holder which clips onto the back of your goggle straps. I think it will also be an all-in-one as far as having built-in earphones. As soon as it is available, I'm getting one.

The armband is OK, it gets a little heavy around my upper arm, and takes awhile to dry, but I'm willing to deal with those minor inconveniences so I can groove to my tunes in the meantime. And I did have to get the Surge 2G Waterproof Sport Earbuds separately, bumping up the initial outlay price. The $49 Shuffle was the cheapest in the trio!
But so far, so good. No leaks and despite the review complaints about the earbuds, I haven't had any problems at all.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week - The Republic of Tea Caramel Apple Red Tea
Cost: $9.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags: 36
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Red Rooibos
Steeping time: 7 minutes
Mix ins: Fat free condensed milk
Teabag fragrance: Caramels and apples
Ingredients: Rooibos, natural caramel and apple flavors
Opinion: I've been searching for an apple tea, which didn't taste like artificial apple juice. The caramel flavor in this tea is the perfect touch. Not too sweet. Combined with the "heavier" feel of the condensed milk, this tea is yummy! Perfect for after dinner - bonus it's caffeine free, or a little pick me up/set you right with your day again anytime treat. Plus the health benefits of Rooibos? Red tea helps control allergies and fights colds, aids in digestion. What more happiness could you ask from a hot mug of tea? Update: This tea is so ridiculously delicious, I've gone through half the canister already!
Rating: 5!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Netflix Stars - The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom

3/5 - Holly Hunter was just perfect for the role! However, it does seem a little dated. But if you you are in the mood for a little light-hearted dark humor, this will give you a good 90 minute giggle.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Houston Quilt Festival - 2010

I had a blast at the Houston Quilt Festival! Once again, incredible quilts and displays, LOTS of booths and cool vendors. I'll be posting some of my finds later this week. (I still have to unpack all my goodies!)

The schedule for the 2011 International Quilt Festival Shows:

Cincinnati - April 8/10
(Preview night April 7)
Duke Energy Convention Center

Long Beach - July 29/31
(Preview night July 28)
Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center

HOUSTON - November 3/6
(Preview night November 2 -- CLASSES begin October 31)
George. R. Brown Convention Center

Mark your calendars and start saving now!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

November 18/20
Butterick $1.99
Vogue $3.99

Merry Moohla Sale - November 20/24
McCalls $1.99
Simplicity $1.99
Rotary blades - BIGIF
Don't forget your $5/$10/$15 coupons!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Netflix Stars - 10 Items or Less

A solid 3.5/5 stars. Interesting pairing of Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega ("Spanglish"). They just click and are a delight to watch. Definitely run all the way through the credits. There are great scene clips and credit comments - including "No Gremlins were harmed in the making of this movie" The special features section is also good, especially the interview with the director, Morgan and Paz inside a Target. Interesting to note this movie was filmed in 15 days.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Numi Organic Tea Golden Chai
Cost: $5.99 at HEB, Whole Foods, Super Target
Number of teabags: 18
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Black Assam
Steeping time: 4 minutes, bump up to 5 if you are going to add condensed milk
Mix ins: Hot with a little bit of fat-free condensed milk. That is now my go-to add-in for chai teas. No need to add any additional sugar, either.
Teabag fragrance: Spicy cookie!
Ingredients: Assam black tea. Indian cinnamon, green cardamom , Chinese ginger, Turkish anise
Opinion: A nice chai without the peppery bite. You can definitely detect the cinnamon, ginger, cardamon and an unique touch of anise. I will definitely get another box of this for the upcoming cooler weather and holidays.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Netflix Stars - Date Night

1.5/5 stars - This was not what we expected. We thought it would be a light-hearted comedy. Wrong! There were some funny scenes, but it was surprisingly violent. We stopped watching halfway through. Maybe it got better, so I gave it a half star extra. Damning with faint praise at best.

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

40% off (is this their new sale or permanent pricing structure now?!)
McCalls and Butterick patterns

Veterans Day Sale - November 7-13
5 for $5 Simplicity patterns