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Monday, April 30, 2012

Why have I never used Oxiclean?

Seriously. Why has this not been in my laundry room?

I thought I had seen all stains with the boys, spaghetti obviously stained everything, but a good soak usually got that out.

Spit up was so far the worst, the sneakiest of the stains that showed up a few weeks after washing and looking clean. 

And then something new, banana. Elise eats a banana for breakfast everyday, and sometimes another one for a snack. She loves them. Until now I loved them too, easy for her to feed to herself, healthy, and easy to clean up, or so I thought.

Lately all of her clothes she wore while eating bananas are coming out of the washer with lovely brown stains like this
This dress has been washed 3 times, and soaked and scrubbed with various stain removers

And no amount of scrubbing, soaking, or stain remover was making them budge. If anything, I was probably setting the stain.

I was starting to think I had a pile of ruined clothes on my hands, so I went googling. It turned out I wasn't the only mom with this problem. There were tons of ideas on how to get the stain out, and tons of comments about how that idea didn't work, until I stumbled upon Oxiclean.

On one of the sites I read the normal "soak in hot water, use a set in stain remover, use a little bleach if you need " (none of these things touch the stain by the way), but then I read the comments. Someone posted the magical solution of boiling clothes in Oxiclean. I'd never used Oxiclean, but there were about 10 comments afterwards from people saying they used that method instead and it worked, so I headed out to the store to pick some up.

Oh. My. Gosh. Where has this been all of my life?

I boiled some water in my tea kettle, and put the item in a pot. Then poured boiling water over it and sprinkled some Oxiclean and waited. After a few minutes I couldn't take it anymore and I had to peak, so I rinsed it off and could not believe what I saw. No banana!

It almost scares me a little how well and fast it worked, but I am just going to ignore that and be happy with the clean clothes!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

50 Things To Do This Summer 2012

It's that time of year again! If you're new to my blog (or me for that matter), I like to make lists. Lists for just about everything. But something I've been doing for a while now, is making sort of a bucket list of things I'd like to do over the summer. In reality I'd really like to plan out my whole summer with fun things to do and look forward to, but that's just not realistic. So instead, the list.

I'll keep this post linked up right over there -------->
and will be updating it and linking items to other posts as the summer goes on. So check back often to see what we are up to!

The goal isn't so much to finish the list, but to give myself a reminder of all of the fun things I'd like to do, or will be doing. That and I really just like crossing things off of lists!

If you are interested, you can check out last year's list here. I did a lot more than is linked up on that list, but didn't cross things off as I did them, just wrote about some of them. 

1. Plant a bigger garden
2. Swim
3. Go to the beach
4. Go on a hike
5. Roast marshmallows
6. Have a new niece or nephew!
7. Enter knitting in the fair
8. Camp out in the living room with the boys
9. Teach Elise to sleep through the night in her own room
10. Go see a movie
11. Watch the stars
12. Eat ice cream
13. Have a party
14. Run a 5k
15. Run a 10k
16. Run a half marathon
17. Play outside with the sprinkler
18. Knit socks and/or a sweater for myself
19. Design a new pattern
20. Decorate the whole house
21. Plant flowers
22. Get a haircut
23. Go to the fair
24. Watch fireworks
25. Get bunnies!
26. Go to morning Mass
27. Cook something new
28. Write a letter
29. Fly a kite
30. Play legos with the boys
31. Paint my nails
32. Make pickles
33. Make salsa
34. Sew
35. Play outside all day
36. Do fun art projects with the kids
37. Sing
38. Take lots of pictures
39. Take more videos of the kids
40. Throw Mike and Kim a baby shower
41. Bake (edit 7-13: I don't have air conditioning, what on earth was I thinking with this one?)
42. Get dressed up to go somewhere
43. Go to the zoo
44. Go to an Indians game
45. Read
46. Do summer reading with the kids
47. Dance
48. Go to a wedding with no kids for the first time ever! (since we've had kids of course ;) )
49. Go to the aquarium 
50. Sleep in

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Slowing Down

We had our first broken bone this week.
Right when we got home from the hospital. Don't let the smile fool you, she was NOT happy, just trained to smile when she sees a camera ;)

Elise has become quite the climber, just like her brothers, but unfortunately isn't so great at getting down from things all of the time. She fell off of a kitchen chair and fractured her fibula.

Luckily it wasn't a clean break, just a buckle fracture, so it should heal quickly, but she's still in a full leg cast for probably 3-4 weeks.

It's made all of us slow down a little bit this week. Elise is learning how to crawl, stand, and move around without being able to bend or straighten her leg all of the way. She's a little upset that she can't do everything she wants to, but is slowly getting more and more confident with herself, even if she is slower than normal.

I'm getting used to having to carry her a lot more of the time, having to watch her constantly to make sure she's not getting *too* bold (like climbing on chairs again already!), and not being able to get as much done around the house as I am used to, because I really can't leave her alone for more than a minute or two.
She climbed up here all by herself because she needed some rocking time

But it's been nice for us too, to just take a break from the normal everyday craziness and do things like sit on the floor and play together, or remind the boys that running through the house like wild children, probably isn't the best idea!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I just made mayonnaise

I just made homemade mayonnaise for the first time, and it was so cool, I just had to share with other people!

I've seen blogs and recipes on how to make it before, but I was honestly a little intimidated since it seemed that so many people had failures. Either I got REALLY lucky on my first try having no idea what I was doing, or it's not really as hard as people say it is.

We had some left over tilapia in the freezer from lent, and having absolutely no idea how to cook fish, I found this recipe on pinterest and decided to give it a try. 

I didn't realize until I was halfway through, that I didn't have any mayonnaise, or anything to actually hold the mixture together. Have you noticed I am really all over the place when it comes to cooking/baking? I really should start reading directions more carefully!

So I started googling until I found a recipe that I had most of the ingredients for, though I still had to really alter the amounts for what I had in my fridge

Since I had nothing to lose really, and no other options, I just had to sort of wing it and hope that it worked out with what I had!

And it was delicious.

So here is what I did.

1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

I mixed the eggs, mustard and salt and lemon juice in my food processor for about 30 seconds.

Then SLOWLY added about a teaspoon of oil and waited 30 seconds while it was still processing.

Then again, very very slowly, like the smallest stream you can manage (all while it's still processing) add the rest of the oil

And there you have it! It was that easy. I think some people add the oil too fast and that messes up the emulsion

It's creamy and delicious and you can add whatever sort of seasoning you want to make fancy mayonnaise. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week I am told.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Coming soon...

I've been working on this pattern for a year now, it's been one of those things that made complete sense in my head...but apparently didn't to anyone else!

So it's been on the back burner for a while. 

I finally picked up again and (hopefully) have come up with something a bit more clear to those of you not in my head ;)

Elise was excited to have something new to wear too, I have a few single skeins of yarn that I think will be perfect for a few more of these this summer

If you want to check out the pattern page on Ravelry, click here

If everything goes to plan it should be available for purchase by May 1st!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Homemade Goldfish

I've been talking about this recipe for a while, but am just now finally getting around to posting about it.

We eat A LOT of goldfish crackers around here. It's always been one of the kids favorite snacks, so I was pretty happy when I found this recipe to make your own, which I am sure is a bit healthier than the store bought stuff.

I was worried it was going to be complicated and time consuming, and it does take a bit of time to cut everything out, but really that's the most difficult part.

  • 8oz of sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 4 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Pulse everything but the water in a food processor until well mixed. It will have the consistency of coarse sand. Then slowly add the water about 1 tablespoon at a time.

Remove the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes.

When it's chilled, roll out your dough. I like to do this in halves, so I have more room to get it *really* thin. The thinner you get it, the crispier the cracker will be. I also like to roll it out between two layers of plastic wrap so it doesn't stick to the pin or the table. It makes clean up really easy too!

Once it's rolled out you can start cutting your pieces. The recipe I linked shows you how to make your own shapes from a pop can, but we just used a tiny Wilton heart cutter I picked up from Joann's.

This is the fun, but time consuming part. I usually set it up with Noah on one side of me and Nathan on the other. I give them each a pan lined with parchment paper and I just cut as fast as I can alternating who I give the cracker to, and they arrange them on the pan for me. I'm sure it takes even longer without two little helpers :)

After their all cut out and arranged on the pan, bake them at 350 for about 15 minutes. Sometimes if they are a little bit thicker, they need 20 minutes to get nice and crispy, but I always check them out at 15 minutes in.

What Elise does when I am not paying enough attention to her
They should slide right off the parchment paper and into a bowl, jar, cup, wherever you are storing (eating) them. And are cool enough to eat within a couple of minutes.

Tasty, delicious cheese crackers

I can't say how long they last stored, because ours have always disappeared within a day or two. This recipe makes 4-5 large pans full of crackers. The recipe says 7 dozen, but I usually end up with way more than that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter Bread

I had to make some Easter bread to talk about the blessing of the food on Holy Saturday for this weeks Life Teen afternoon. So I tried out something new, and am pretty pleased with how it came out! I think I will be making some more of these to go in our basket for the food blessing this weekend.

I found the recipe here, and I love "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day", so I was pretty sure I would love this too.

My only complaint, was that she forgot to list butter in the ingredients, and being the impatient "I know what I'm doing" baker that I am, just browsed the written directions, noted that it was "all of the ingredients but the flour" that needed to be mixed first, and completely missed that butter was listed in the directions, but not the ingredients list. Oops. It still tasted alright, but I am sure would have been a little more moist and tasty with butter added in.

Ingredients for bread dough
  • 1½ cups lukewarm water
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast (1½ packets)
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 1/5 cups of melted butter
  • 7½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Ingredients to make Easter bread with dough
  • 1 batch of bread dough (listed above)
  • 4 colored eggs
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash
  • coarse salt, sprinkles, or colored sugar for garnish
I used a stand mixer, but you could do it by hand if you wanted, it would just take a little more work. Mix the first 6 ingredients (everything but the flour, INCLUDING the butter!)

Add all of the flour at once, and mix until it has all been incorporated. Into the dough. Let rise for 2 hours, or until it has about doubled in size.
After it has risen, dust with flour and divide into 4 approximately 1lb sections of dough. Quickly form into a ball with a gluten cloak (gently stretch the dough from the top around the ball and pinch at the bottom, creating a smooth ball of dough). Let rest for 5 minutes.
Divide each ball into 3 sections, and roll into a snake with your hands. Avoid pulling, but gently stretching is okay if it needs a little extra help. 
Braid the three sections together, joining the beginning and the end.
Place your uncooked, colored egg into the center. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.
20 minutes before the rise is finished (40 minutes in) preheat your oven to 350 degrees, after these last 20 minutes of rise bread can be put in the oven, even if it has not finished preheating yet. 
After the second rise
Brush dough with the eggwash, and sprinkle with your desired garnish.
Place bread on a pan lined with parchment paper, or directly onto a pizza stone, and bake for 25 minutes. The top of your bread should be golden brown when it is done.

Bread with sprinkles

Bread with salt. You can see I wasn't exactly scientific in my dividing of the bread dough. Oops!
The recipe states that during this time the uncooked egg will cook along with the bread, but mine wasn't quite done. I need to experiment a little more to figure out how to fix that problem without burning the bread.

Monday, April 2, 2012

We might just be crazy

You've heard me blog before about my position on baby sleep and co-sleeping, and even my attempt several times to get Elise to sleep in a crib. The problem isn't so much sleeping with her, she sleeps really well and soundly. The problem is that she doesn't like sleeping with Anthony anymore.

As much as she loves him, she has somehow decided when it comes to sleeping, that he is encroaching on her "mom space" and is a threat to her snuggle time. Crazy girl. Since she has never liked, and still refuses to sleep in her crib, we came up with a new solution.

Straight to a big girl bed! The boys were both in toddler beds by 18 months old because they started climbing out around 15 or 16 months and we just couldn't keep them in anymore. So I figured, why push the crib she has never liked, only to have to do this all over again with a toddler bed in a couple of months?

And why not just put her in a toddler bed? 2 reasons.
1. She's used to having some space to sprawl out in a full sized bed, and I didn't want to have to worry about her falling out of bed a million times a night with the limited space.

2. We're cheap. I never even bought her crib bedding because after my experience with the boys, I knew it would be a while before she used it. Instead of buying crib/toddler bedding now, and twin bedding in another year we just bought the twin bedding now.

Plus in a twin bed, I can lay down with her if I need to get her back to sleep, something she's used to if she happens to wake up in the middle of the night.

So we will see what happens. We haven't left her in there overnight yet, still a few things we need to move into her closet so she doesn't get into them at night. But nap time has been a huge success! And I was able to put her to bed last night without a fight, or worrying that she was going to fall out of my bed. This might sound like a small thing, but with a sweet little girl who's been attached to me for the last 14 months, being able to sit on the couch with Anthony and watch a movie at 9 o'clock at night was nothing short of a small miracle. 

And as part of our spring cleaning, we've gotten her room and the boys all organized, furniture moved around, and all of her too small clothes packed away. So I'm going totally out of order when it comes to my handy list, but things are getting done! More pictures to come as I start the decorating process.

Noah loving his new big bed
This is what happens when you tell a 4 year old to smile nicely