Archive for January, 2010

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(Organization) Manual Box

After purchasing a new electronic, assembling a new piece of baby equipment, or installing a new appliance, you are usually left with an instruction manual. After it sits on the counter for a couple of months, it is tempting to throw it away, but it is risky. When you need an instruction manual, there isn’t an easy replacement.

As a part of your box system, designate a box for the sole purpose of storing instruction manuals. It removes the manuals from “clutter” status where they are likely to get lost, damaged, or thrown away and provides you with a predictable place to look if you should need it.



(Healthy Living) Deodorant

deodorantIn an ideal world, I would use an all natural deodorant with no antiperspirant. I’m all too aware of the less-than-ideal ingredients in mainstream deodorants. But I will admit to you that I like to be dry and I like the extra-strength protection more. So it is one ideal that I have decided to let slide.

There is one simple thing you can do, though, to help reduce the amount of deodorant your body absorbs: wait for 10-15 minutes after you shower before applying your deodorant. The moisture and steam from the shower causes your pores to open, allowing them to easily absorb anything you apply to your skin. In contrast, pores close more tightly when your skin is dry and cool. So if natural deodorant isn’t your cup of tea, try making a simple adjustment to when you apply your deodorant. Maybe you don’t have to completely write off your ideal either.


(Photography 365) January 27


January 27 - Samuel and I were feeling a little sentimental about not seeing each other for four days, so we decided to do something fun together and bake cookies for him and Scott to eat while I’m gone. I told him what ingredients to add, but he made them almost completely by himself! Now if only I hadn’t burned half the cookies… My activity idea must have worked, though, because he later asked me if I would leave after his nap today instead of tomorrow morning.

Photography 365 – 2010

Photography 365 Introduction


(Photography 365) January 26


January 26 - This coming weekend, I’m meeting a friend of mine in a mutually adjoining state for a fun weekend of scrapbooking and girl time! I’m horribly behind on my scrapbooking and am determined to make the most of this opportunity. 250+ pictures, 28 layouts, 60 pages, and countless pieces of paper later, I am ready.

Photography 365 – 2010

Photography 365 Introduction


(Photography 365) January 25


January 25 – Samuel and I spent some time coloring trains this afternoon (his latest passion).

Photography 365 – 2010

Photography 365 Introduction


(Cooking) Chocolate Cream-Filled Cupcakes

I have tried a lot of chocolate cupcakes in my day, but this one hands-down, takes the cake. They are amazing. The assembly for any filled treat requires a bit of time and patience, but trust me when I say this recipe is worth it.

Chocolate Cream-Filled Cupcakes

1 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c oil
1/2 c boiling water
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract

3 T water
3/4 t unflavored gelatin
4 T butter, softened
1 t vanilla extract
1/8 t salt
1 1/4 c marshmallow cream

1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
3 T butter

1. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt.

2. Whisk (boiling) water, cocoa, and chocolate chips in a separate bowl until smooth and the chocolate chips are melted. Add sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture and blend.

3. Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate and egg mixture. Stir until moistened.

4. Pour batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly and then remove from muffin cups. Cool completely.

5. Filling: Mix water and gelatin and let it stand for 5 minutes. Microwave for about 30 seconds or until the gelatin dissolves. Add butter, vanilla and salt. Cool for about 5 minutes before mixing in the marshmallow cream. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set. Set aside 1/3 c. Put the rest of the filling into a pastry bag (or us a ziploc bag with a corner clipped off).

6. Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut a cone shape out of the top of the cupcake, about 2 inches deep. Remove cone and cut off the tip (to create space for the filling). Fill the cupcake with about one tablespoon of the filling and then replace the circular top.

7. Glaze: Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl (30-60 seconds) and stir until smooth. Let the glaze cool (10-15 minutes) and then top each cupcake with about one tablespoon of the glaze. Let sit for 15 minutes and then use the remaining filling to pipe decorative curlicues across the top of the cupcakes.


(Photography 365) January 24


January 24 – I found Kaelynn today reading to her baby doll.

Photography 365 – 2010

Photography 365 Introduction


(Photography 365) January 23


January 23 – We took the kids to a friend’s birthday party today. It was a cooking theme! The kids made little pizzas, fruit snowmen, and “dirt” (Oreos with gummy worms and Cool Whip). The family had made personalized aprons and hats for each of the kids! Samuel and Kaelynn had a blast! Hands down, the coolest kid’s birthday party I have attended.

Photography 365 – 2010

Photography 365 Introduction


(Crafts) Dying Play Silks with Kool-Aid

I must have drooled over the idea of play silks for several years. I love the concept and the endless creative play possibilities that they offer. But the standard size silks (35″x35″) sell for $10-12/each, making a small set cost a small fortune. That didn’t even account for my dream of a bigger play silk collection that included multiple sizes.

I began to toy with the idea of dying my own silks after learning that a friend successfully did it, but she used real dye and I was intimidated by that. I like to keep my creative ventures simple….and clean. And then I discovered that you can dye silks with Kool-Aid! Not only was it cheaper, but it sounded fun! I mean, how many people can say that they have hand-dyed toys with Kool-Aid!? So, I ordered my silks and made some for Kaelynn’s Christmas present. It took a little bit of work (it took time more than anything) and mine have some imperfections, but my kids love them and I’m really pleased with the finished product. Here’s how I did it:

1. Order play silks in the sizes you want. I chose a half dozen 35″x35″ silks this time, but I have plans to expand our collection someday with various sizes. I bought mine from Dharma Trading Company for $3.75/each.

2. Bring a pot of water to boiling. Add a cup of vinegar and remove from heat. Soak all the silks for about an hour before dying.

3. Put on a pair of plastic gloves. Mix 3 cups of hot water, 1/2 c vinegar, and 2-3 packets of Kool-Aid (see the note at the bottom of post for a Kool-Aid color guide). Immerse a silk in the colored water and stir slightly until fully immersed. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes. Remove and stir again. Cover and microwave for 3 more minutes. Repeat the cycle a third time.

(Note: If you increased the amount of water and vinegar and did the dying on a stove top instead of the microwave, stirring continually, you would probably end up with more solidly colored silks. Mine are slightly blotchy, but I kind of like them that way.)

4. Remove silk from the bowl and rinse with soap and water until the water runs clear.

Keep dyed, wet silks separate until they are dry. They can bleed onto each other (voice of experience speaking).

5. Dry on low in the dryer. Iron.


Kool-Aid Flavor/Color Guide:

Red – Strawberry, Cherry, or Black Cherry (Note: I wanted more of a salmon/dark pink color, so I just used two packages of Strawberry. A combination of Cherry and Black Cherry will get you the truest red.
Orange - Orange
Yellow - Lemonade (Note: I used two packets of Lemonade plus a few drops of yellow food coloring to achieve a slightly darker yellow.)
Green – Lemon-Lime
Blue – Blue Raspberry
Purple – Grape (Note – I only used two packets.)
Pink – Pink Lemonade (not pictured)


(Photography 365) January 22


January 22 – Eating blueberries.

Photography 365 – 2010

Photography 365 Introduction