Monday, January 22, 2018

need moar recipes plz

yay, i managed to get through another week of making most dinners at home last week!  i used the instant pot for most of it again, which makes life so much easier for me especially when we get home late from cheer practice.  and check it out - my second pot was delivered and now i have two!

on monday, i decided to use up some stew meat i'd bought for a batch of amish beef & noodles, but i added some green beans so there'd be a veggie in there:

i was really going to try to avoid making too many meals that include pasta - you know, trying to cut carbs but not succeeding even a little bit - but i'd been wanting to try a recipe for tuscan chicken pasta and had finally remembered to buy all of the ingredients i needed.  and this one was a big hit with everyone:

another recipe i'd been holding onto for awhile was for a simple italian-style soup with ground beef, tomatoes and teeny-tiny acini de pepe pasta.  we ate this with a loaf of fresh french bread i picked up at the grocery store, and while the bean grumbled about the chunks of tomatoes i'm still calling it a winner.

so i'd ordered a cute little angel food pan from amazon to use for a quickie cake recipe i found on the instant pot facebook page.  i really do try to make most things from scratch as much as i can, but i'm still a little traumatized over the one and only time i ever made angel food cake from scratch when i was like 11 or something.  the recipe called for something like 10 egg whites, and i remember getting in trouble because i'd used up almost a whole dozen eggs and had all those yolks left over.  oops.  anyway, it was super easy - you just combine the mix with some water, mix it on high for a few minutes until it's super fluffy and meringue-like and spread it into the pan.

one thing i dislike about the instant pot is that the smell of the last thing you cooked in it is damn near impossible to get out of the rubber sealing ring in the lid.  the easiest solution is to buy extra rings and  use one for savory dishes and another for desserts.  the angel food cake was the first dessert i was making in the ol' pot, which gave me the best excuse to finally bust out the "sweet" ring:

now because the pot essentially uses steam to cook everything, the cake looked a little weird when it was done:

no biggie.  i flipped it upside-down to let it cool completely:

and then it came out easily (and in one piece, yay!).

it was fluffy and lightly sweet and to my surprise, even the hub really liked it.  he's not usually a fan of meringue-y, whipped cream-y type things, so i thought for sure he was going to turn his nose up at this.  he suggested maybe doing a little lemon glaze for it next time, and so it looks like this cake might end up going in the regular rotation.

i'm on the hunt now for more fun recipes to try this week, especially since i now have a whole new instant pot to break in.  i can do the main dish in one and some sort of a side in the other one, or another dessert at the same time.

oh, this is gonna be fun.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

a near-perfect disneyland day

january happens to be a pretty awesome month for visiting disneyland...if you're a passholder.  but if you're buying a day pass, it's the worst - this is when the most attractions are closed for refurbishing or removing their holiday overlays.  but the weather is typically comfortable (as long as you're good with cool-ish temperatures) and the closures often keep a lot of visitors away.  january also used to be known for a half marathon weekend - starting with tinkerbell in 2012 and switching to star wars in more recent years.  but with all of the construction going on with star wars land and the new five-diamond hotel coming, all races at disneyland have been put on hold indefinitely.  sigh.

since both girls were free on monday - the old lady with her regular day off and the bean out of school for MLK day - we decided to head down for a fun disney morning.  since we'd gone straight to california adventure the last few times we went, we decided to hit up the disneyland side.  the old lady kicked on the turbo when we got inside the gates to snag us some fastpasses for space mountain while the bean and i followed at a much more leisurely pace.  as we made our way down main street, we came across the massive walls that are hiding the work being done on the old main street vehicles tracks.  apparently there are parts of the tracks that haven't been redone since the park originally opened 60 years ago, and it was time to do a little updating.

there are even walls that block the view of the castle, which kind of sucks.  if i were visiting from out of town or wasn't a frequent visitor and wanted to take some fun pictures, i'd be kind of annoyed.

after securing those fastpasses, we decided to wait out the 30-minute line for matterhorn mountain.

another ride we hadn't been on in awhile was indiana jones, and with the wait listed as just 25 minutes, we were happy to wait it out.  when we got inside the building, the bean decided to show off a fun feature of her new shoes:

the wait time was dead on, and we were happily squealing our way through the ride in less than the quoted time.

next up:  big thunder mountain.

by that time, our fastpass window for space mountain was open.  the bean opted to sit with her sister, and the rumored new single rider line was confirmed as a random stranger was seated next to me.

i'm not gonna lie, it was super awkward sitting that close to someone i didn't know.  i mean, this isn't a new concept to me - i've been both that single rider and seated next to one - but the other rides usually have more than one person seated in the row.  it was a little uncomfortable and although you can't tell from that picture, it really dampened my excitement throughout the ride.  oh well.

we grabbed some lunch next door at pizza port before making our way to our last ride of the day.  it was about 12:30 or so by then and we'd already ridden all of the big rides, and since the bean still had cheer practice later that afternoon we decided to leave early.  but we hadn't gotten to do "it's a small world," the holiday edition this year and it was surprisingly still open for a few more days.

i'm no dooney & bourke fan, but i have to admit that i think this print is super cute.

super bad castle selfie:

we'd promised the bean that she could grab a dole whip before we left, and we made good on our promise.

the old lady and i decided to grab a treat of our own from the candy palace on main street, and we sat down on the curb to let the bean finish her frozen treat before we boarded the tram and headed back to the car.

i tried to take a fun picture with my new kate spade for minnie mouse ring that the hub had given me for christmas, but i couldn't get it to turn out right no matter what i did.

the old lady had chosen a caramel apple for her treat, while i went with one of their giant handcrafted peppermint patties dipped in dark chocolate.  these are so good.

we'd only been at the park for about four hours, but it was a pretty darn good disney day.  we'd ridden everything we wanted, enjoyed a nice lunch and capped it off with some tasty treats, and still managed to get home with plenty of time for the bean to get some rest before cheer practice.  and we left just as the crowds were starting to arrive.

parent-teacher conferences are happening next week, and the bean took home a note last week from her teacher that basically said "she's doing so well that a conference isn't necessary unless you really want one."  score!  and since next friday is a no-school day for said conferences, i think maybe we'll head down to disney again for what will hopefully be a nice, easy breezy day in the parks.  we can even do all the stuff her sister doesn't like to do since it'll be just the two of us.

seems like a pretty nice reward for doing so well in school, right?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"donut" try to eat these

when i'm getting ready to sew up something, i always end up using whatever happens to be on the table to weigh down my pattern pieces.  most of the time the edges of my patterns are held down by things like my phone, jarred candles, the hub's coffee mug from that morning, a pair of scissors.  it's kind of funny, and not uncommon amongst other people who sew on the regular.

but then i saw someone post the cutest set of clay pattern weights shaped like donuts.  she'd bought them from etsy from a lady in the UK for $30 plus shipping, and i thought they were super cute.  when i looked at her business page though, she wasn't taking any new orders and so i set the idea aside.

someone else last week posted that they'd made their own using polymer clay.  i'd seen my friend winnie posting pictures of polymer clay projects she'd done that were incredibly cute, and so i got the bug to head to michaels and grab some clay for myself.  of course.  and i found some washers to bury in the clay to give it some weight at the local hardware store, and so i brought all the goodies home and sat down to get started.

first, i rolled a ball of clay and flattened it to make the first half of the donut.  i placed a washer on top and then topped it with another ball of clay and kneaded and rolled it and poked a hole in the middle until it was in the shape i wanted.

after i had six of them done, i got started on the "toppings."  the frosting was just a little ball of colored clay flattened out and spread on top of the donut.  working with the clay reminded me a lot of decorating cakes with fondant.  rolling out some more clay and cutting it up and snaking it on top of some of the donuts was really fun, and when i was done they looked like this:

they baked in an oven at a low temperature for an hour and then they were good to go.  and while they baked, i was perusing my feed again and found that someone had done oreos using a mold to replicate the design on top of the cookie.  huh.  another trip to michaels yielded this stuff:

you take equal parts of this stuff, knead it together and then place your item in it to get the indentation of the pattern.  following the youtube tutorial i'd found, i had scraped the cream out of an oreo and frozen it for awhile to get it nice and firm.

25 minutes later, i popped the cookie out and had this:

after proudly posting my fun donuts on a facebook sewing group page, i had someone ask me if i could make some for them.  the hustle is neverending, people.  but it gave me an excuse to go back to the store armed with a 60% off coupon and snag this:

because i'm a dork, i labeled them all so i would know what their codes and names were in case i wanted to buy more of a particular color.

this time, the bean got in on the action and decided to make a donut of her own, topped with "fruit loops."

her project was so detailed that it took her the same amount of time to finish hers that it did for me to do all of mine:

and since i had some extra time, i decided to try out that oreo mold.  it's not perfect, but it looks pretty good.

i used some liquid clay to "glue" the filling to the two cookies, which had a washer buried in it and made it look like a double stuf cookie instead.

the lady had asked for pastel colors, so here's what they ended up looking like:

and the bean's fruit loop donut is super cute too.  she's super proud of her handiwork.

hmmm...what shall we make next??
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