Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's Cookin' - Muffin Donuts

I was working out one day and was watching the Food Network.  They were showcasing favorites restaurants and their dishes.  They showed a muffin donut that looked so delicious that I knew there had to be a recipe out there.  Sure enough, I found one and it is one of my new favorite treats to make my family.  It's easy and so yummy!

Muffin Donuts
(This makes 24 mini-muffin donuts.  Double this recipe for regular muffins)

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or 1 Tbsp fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  •  --------
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tins.
2. Mix sugar, butter and nutmeg (or ginger) together.
3. Stir in milk.
4. Stir in baking powder and flour.
5. Pour batter in muffin tins.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
7. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, set aside in small bowl.  In another bowl set aside melted butter.
8. When muffins are done, dip in melted butter, then cinnamon sugar mixture.  Set on cooling rack.

**I accidentally made this with fresh ginger root and it was so good.  Love those happy accidents!**

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Neighborhood friends

We are so lucky that our daughter has several friends her age in our neighborhood.  It has been so much fun watching her play with other children.  It's been great for her socially, too.  Sharing is so hard when you are only 3!

Monday, June 27, 2011


I have a planner that I write down all my appointments, meetings, days off of school, etc.  My husband has his own planner (one I give him every Christmas that has our little girl's picture on it).  So we are both pretty busy.

 I while back I found a magnetic dry erase board with a calendar.  I simply fill in the month and days for just one month.  I then write all the appointments, classes, days off, etc on the calendar and at a glance we both know what's going on each day.  It really helps keep us organized and both aware of what's going on.  It's also helpful that it's a dry erase board as things have a way of being rearranged often.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What's Cookin' --Homemade BBQ Sauce

We have an endless debate in our house about sauces -- pizza, spaghetti, barbeque, etc.  Eventually we come to a compromise.  I recently made this barbeque sauce and while it's not really my husband's tastes, it is mine.  It's easy to make and can be used in many recipes.

Homemade BBQ Sauce
(Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp chili powder (I use less)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I use less)
1 cup ketchup
5 Tbsp light or dark molassess
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (I use French's Yellow)
1 tsp Tabasco (I use less)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in large saucepan.
2.  Add onion and cook until softened.
3. Stir in garlic, chili powder and cayenne for about 15 seconds.
4. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 25 minutes. Sauce should thicken.
5. Cool to room temperature before serving.

**You can adjust how spicey/hot you want this by adding more or less chili powder and cayenne.**

I have used this for a dipping sauce with grilled meat and then used the remaining sauce with a pork roast in the crockpot for pulled pork sandwiches.

Saving Money--Dryer Sheets

Here's a really simple tip to save a little money.

When using a dryer sheet, tear it in half.  You really only need half to do the job and you end up saving twice as much money on dryer sheets each year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Twinkle Try

Our 3-year-old gets so upset when we ask her to "try" to use the bathroom before we leave the house.  The tears flow and the voice gets loud.  A couple months ago I tried a new techinque to make it a little less anxiety bound.  I ask her to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while she tries to go.  If she has to go, she normal goes before the song is over.  If not, then she probably doesn't have to go at all.  So, when she gets louder when we ask her to try, I calmly say -- oh, just do a Twinkle try.  It makes life a little easier.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Organizing Computer Time

I do a lot on the computer every day from checking e-mails to reading blogs to racking up points from certain sites.  Recently I realized there was a lot of things I delete and don't even look at and time was being wasted.  Here are some ways I've maximized my computer time.

  • Google Reader;  Subscribe to all the blogs you like to read in Google Reader. Then set the view to "List."  Then all you have to do is read the title of the blog and decide if you want to read more.  We don't have a Rite Aid or CVS by us, and scrolling through those posts (even on Google Reader) in "Expanded" view took time.  
  • Delete/Unsubscribe:  If you sign up for a online newsletter each time you request a coupon or promotion, you e-mail can get pretty saturated.  I usually just delete majority of e-mails I get.  I have been unsubscribing to all e-mails that I usually delete anyway.  This should open up more time.
  • Set a time limit: Now that I'm home for the summer, it's easy to hop on the computer between things or waiting for our little one to get ready, etc.  I've put time limits on how much time to use the computer.  I guess do what works for you here.
  • Survey/Points Sites:  I've taken a lot of surveys over the years.  I've also been part of many sites that give pennies for reading e-mails.  I now have just a handful of these I do every day.  I like the ones I know pay out and actually accumulate to something. I greatly dislike sites that I do a lot of work for and then don't qualify.  My favorites are Pinecone surveys ($3 per survey), My Points, Swagbucks, E-Rewards and  Panda Research.  
  • Decide if it's worth it.  Just evaluate everything you do online and see if there is anyway of minimizing your time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thrifty Thursday--But the price is different

Earlier this week I went to Walgreens to purchase allergy medicne for my daughter.  It was a new medicine for us and they didn't carry a Walgreens version.  It was $12.99.  Yikes!  A little pricey to say the least and not a coupon in sight.  Either way I wanted to try with her to see if her sniffles went away or at least decreased.  I put the medicine in the cart and quickly walked through the store and searched the end caps (a bad habit I have when shopping).  

I was just about to leave when I noticed a display at one of the ends of the aisle.  It said the medicine was $9.99.  I compared the medicine on the display with the medicine in the cart and sure enought they were the same.  Now being Walgreens, I was pretty certain the $12.99 price would ring up.  So, I asked before I purchased it (note: our 3-year-old was not with me).  As I predicted it was $12.99.  We scanned the ads and then she called someone to check the prices in the aisle. Eventually I had to walk back and show the display.  Within a second they adjusted the price.  Ah, that was worth the hassle.  

As I was leaving the store, I heard someone say they adjusted the price at the register.  I walked away feeling good that I got the cheaper price and anyone else who purchases that medicine this week will get it, too. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's Cookin' - Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

One of my cooking goals for the summer is to try new ingredients.  I've never cooked Rhubarb before and remember not really liking it as a child.  Well, a few weeks ago I was at the Farmer's Market and thought I better give it try.  This is the most amazing recipe.  I normally don't like baked fruity-type desserts, but this is by far the exception.  And it's so easy to make!

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
(Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

10 oz Rhubarb, cut in 1/4 inch pieces
1 quart (16 oz) Strawberries, sliced (see slicing tip)
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar (adjust to sweetness of rhubarb and strawberries)
1 tsp vanilla

Biscuit Dough
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while making fruit filling.
2. Mix strawberries, rhubarb, cornstarch, sugar, vanilla in 9 inch pie plate or similar size casserole dish.
3. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, just as fruit juices begin to release.
4. While filling is baking make biscuit dough.  Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
5. Combine buttermilk, butter and vanilla in another bowl.
6. Combine 2 tsp sugar and cinnamon in third bowl.
7. Mix buttermilk mixture and flour mixture together with spatula.
8. Take fruit filling out of oven and place 8 pieces of dough on top of fruit filling. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of biscuits.
9. Put back in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Biscuits should be golden brown.
10. Let cool 15 minutes on wire rack.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Box a Day

This summer, I'm trying something new with our 3-year-old. Since she's started preschool in the mornings the afternoon is filled with napping and time for her to play by herself (which she loves and needs).  But this summer I know the mornings that we don't go anywhere are going to be tough for her to figure out what to do.

I created craft boxes labeled Monday thru Friday for her.  Each day will have a different craft or art material for her to work with.  I think it will be exciting and help her focus a little.  Plus this way we can also have purpose for all the art supplies.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Binder

I am taking most of the summer off from teaching -- only working a little here and there at the child care center I teach 4K.  This means time off to do all those things I said I'll get to this summer.  Yeah, there's a lot.  So, in order to organize myself I created a Summer (organizational) Binder.

I have broken the sections of the binder into four sections (for now).

Schedules -- I'm really going to attempt to put together a daily, weekly and monthly schedule.  Since workng part-time, I have come into a pretty good routine to get the daily stuff done.  But our house seems a little cluttered all the time.  I've got to focus on getting that organized.  Hopefully, the schedules will help. Money Saving Mom has some great printable schedules!

Things we want to do -- I absolutely love the warm months and the abilitlty to do so much during the long days.  We usually start our days pretty early, which gives us a lot we can do even in one day.  To makes sure we do all the fun things we want this summer, I created a list.  I need to go back to it now and enter dates for certain events, such as the fair. Our almost 4-year-old daughter has her own list, too.  We have dry erase board on the fridge and she keeps scribbling on it -- library, swimming, strawberries, big trampoline, etc.

School/4K/Professional Development -- to continue my teaching I have to set professional development goals.  They aren't due until fall.  But the paperwork is long, lengthy and complicated.  Might as well get that going this summer.  Also, I have goals for teaching next year and want to make more games and interactive charts.  At this time I don't have much planned for this.  However, a couple weeks ago I made many games from this superhero theme.  So I got a little head start.

Cooking -- I have decided that cooking/baking is my hobby.  I love trying new ingredients and recipes. With the busy school year I didn't get to try as many new things.  I have a three sections right now for cooking this summer -- recipes to try, ingredients to try, and bulk cooking (for the fall).  Be forewarned you will get updates this summer on this blog.

So, we'll see if this makes me more productive, more organized and makes the summer more fun all around.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thrifty Thursday -- Shop Target Sales Rack

I really like to shop sales racks this time of year.  For some reason the retail stores think summer is over.  But here in the Midwest, we've barely had a few day without jackets. Good news is that they start their sale for summer clothes now, plus a few winter items are there, too.

Last week I had a $5/25 coupon for Target's brand Merona that I received in a free magazine.  I shopped the sales racks and came home with three short sleeves shirts, one tank top, one quarter-sleeve sweater and one long-sleeve shirt.  Total cost: $20.

I showed them to my husband, who didn't really seem to interested until I added up the retail total. It would have came to more than $65!  I just could believe six tops for $20 -- it was a steal!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ice cream in a bag

This is a very fun way to teach a little science when making a yummy treat.

I first did ice cream in a bag when I worked at summer camp.  It's one of those projects you do and you are just amazed with how easy it is.

Ice cream in a bag 
(excellent video here)

1 cup half and half
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup salt (Rock works best, but kosher or table work fine)
Ice cubes
1 gallon size ziplock baggie
1 pint size ziplock baggie

1. Pour half and half, sugar and vanilla into pint size baggie. Seal tight.
2. Put ice and salt in gallons size baggie.
3.  Put small (sealed) baggie inside gallons size baggie.
4. Shake for 5 minutes.
5. Open up small baggie and enjoy ice cream!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Delay the wash

Back in the fall we purchased a new washer and dryer.  A new luxury item, for sure.  We researched and purchased a Kenmore set from Sears.  I really wasn't too concerned about what we bought -- I just wanted it to do a decent job on the spin cycle (without becoming imbalanced).  Laundry was definitely a big challenge once I started working part-time.  While my hours were consistent, I attended a lot of extra meetings and classes.

My favorite feature on my new washing machine is the delay wash button.  When I first tried it, I was leery that it would work.  I guess when you're used to an old machine, you just expect it not to work.  So, one day set the timer on the washing machine to finish around the time we got home after school.  It was amazing.  All I had to to was put the wet clothes in the dryer and start another load.  Now, I often start a delayed cycle for when we get home.  I also set it before going to bed.  Then I just wake up with a load already started.  It really does save that time of waiting for the first cycle to be done.  I also will do a load at night (not delayed) and leave the load in the dryer for morning or after school.  Usually this is a load of towels or something else that doesn't need immediate folding.

If you have a delayed wash button on your washing machine and you aren't using it -- you should give it a try.  Or if you are in the market looking for a new washing machine, I would highly suggest getting on with the delayed wash cycle.  It really saves a time and a little stress.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm back -- I really hope

While this last year has had a lot of adjustments to our family, I really do miss writing on my blogs.  First and foremost we had a great year at school.  I taught 4K, which if I could teach anything -- this would be it.  I love the age and the children's curiosity to learn.  Our daughter attended preschool and we have seen such growth in her.  She has learned how to play with others and overall seems to have less anxiety about trying new things, even though she isn't shy at all.

Hopefully, I still have some readers out there.  I have lots to share.  Just a recap of my blogging schedule:

Organizing Mondays
About the Kids Tuesday
What's Cookin' Wednesdays
Thrifty Thursdays
Anything Goes Fridays

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chocolate Play Dough

We are doing a theme on community helpers in my classroom this week.  We are setting up a bakery in the Dramatic play.  I decided to make some chocolate play dough to go with it.  So simple and so yummy to smell.  Here's the link to where I found the recipe along with many other play dough recipes.

Chocolate Play Dough
2 cups water
1/2 cup salt
1/3 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp cream of tartar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups flour

1. Boil water and salt.
2. Add remaining ingredients.
3. Allow to cool.  Then play with dough like any other play dough!

Chocolate Playdough

We are doing a theme on community helpers in my classroom this week.  We are setting up a bakery in the Dramatic play.  I decided to make some chocolate play dough to go with it.  So simple and so yummy to smell.  Here's the link to where I found the recipe along with many other play dough recipes.

Chocolate Play Dough
2 cups water
1/2 cup salt
1/3 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp cream of tartar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups flour

1. Boil water and salt.
2. Add remaining ingredients.
3. Allow to cool.  Then play with dough like any other play dough!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

As a Bzz Agent I have received a very fun link to share.  Check out Cover Girl's 50th Anniversary party!  You might just win some free samples and learn a few things, too.


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