Monday, August 31, 2009

Will it never end?

When I first typed that title to this post I was thinking about unpacking and hauling boxes up and down stairs (first up, then down once I realize I want it in a different room). But now I'm thinking it better relates to the high expectations I set for myself. By now I would've liked to have been pretty much unpacked and at the "hanging things up and placing finishing touches" stage but that is still a few days away. I'm tired, worn out and my feet are killing me from standing up most of the day.

The good news? I found our missing shower curtains. The bad news? We still don't have a dresser so our clothes are in boxes and will be until we find one we like at a price we like even more. Has this become the lamest blog you ever read? I wouldn't be surprised, for its author seems to only have time to lament about her crazy life and moving and boxes, using those as excuses for not writing more inspiring, humorous, enlightening posts. I have a feeling I won't be back on schedule until after our cruise in a couple weeks. Of course, a 7-day cruise is my best excuse yet for a lack of posts! Don't worry...I'll post pictures so you know this excuse isn't fabricated! Until then, wish me luck as I uncover one mystery box after another... --Emily

Friday, August 28, 2009

Food photography tips from The Pioneer Woman

I'm actually writing today's post on Wednesday since I still have some time to kill before we can get the dang U-Haul out of our driveway. Plus I won't have my computer set up and online until late Friday and by then I'll be surrounded by boxes in our new home, furiously unpacking!

I've mentioned my friend Quinn over at Limelight Food Photography a few times on this blog. She is simply amazing! But some of us don't quite have those skills when it comes to photographing food, so I suggest you read "Taking Photos of Food -- 8 Helpful Tips" from The Pioneer Woman. All eight tips seem pretty manageable, even for an amateur like myself. The one
I have to do a little more reading on is #4 relating to aperture, but I'm sure Quinn can help me understand that one a bit more!

By the way, I've also learned that using white dinnerware is a super way to make your food look extra scrumptious so I've stocked up on a set from Ikea. If only they weren't packed in a box somewhere... --Emily

"Taking Photos of Food -- 8 Helpful Tips"

And since I won't be cooking for yet a couple more days, bake up a yummy batch of these and eat a few for me, will you?

Dark chocolate-dipped macaroons
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 pkg (7 oz) sweetened flaked coconut
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Heat oven to 325. Line two baking sheets with nonstick foil. Whisk egg whites, sugar and extracts in medium bowl until foamy. Stir in coconut until evenly mixed. Drop by level tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until set and browned. Cool on wire rack.

Once cool, dip bottoms and about 1/3 of the macaroons in melted chocolate. Tap off excess chocolate. Place on same foil-line baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature until set. Makes 2 dozen.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. ~Virginia Woolf

Image by tonx, shared via Flickr.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: The fine art of sharing

If you didn't want to share, you'd tell me, right?

They're back to school!

I had planned to be disconnected and in the middle of moving today but due to that whole crappy delay in signing/funding/recording I'm sitting amidst a ton of boxes twiddling my thumbs and living off marshmallows, leftover pizza and Diet Coke (and yes, so is my family). If all goes well we'll be moving out tomorrow, so here's to praying all goes well!

In the meantime I did manage to get my girls off to school today for the first day with new teachers. Yes, their backpacks were empty (pencil cases, notebooks and writing utensils are in a box somewhere) and they have to buying school lunch (peanut butter, honey and Goldfish crackers are in a box somewhere), but they were still excited. I can't believe it's my oldest daughter's last year in elementary school--where did the time go? --Emily




Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A photographer who's fabulous with food and friends

It's 1 am and I should be packing up my kitchen rather than sitting here updating my Facebook and Twitter profile pics, but I couldn't help myself after seeing some of the great shots my friend and photographer Quinn Curtis took during our recent SassyScoops.com visit to Farnsworth Farms. I knew she was good with food since I'm always catching her recent food-related photo shoots on her Limelight Food Photography blog and I knew she was good taking photos on site at our SassyScoops reviews, but I never realized what an all-around talented photographer she is. She can do anything! She can even make a rainy-day hay ride look fabulous!

Here are a few collages of her photos from the Farnsworth visit:

SassyScoops @ Farnsworth Farms

SassyScoops @ Farnsworth Farms

SassyScoops @ Farnsworth Farms

SassyScoops @ Farnsworth Farms

SassyScoops @ Farnsworth Farms

SassyScoops @ Farnsworth Farms

Okay, so the last one was of food and sort of a given that it would look amazing, but don't you think the rest are just as wonderful! Quinn has not only changed the way I look at food but also inspired me to learn more about photography. I even got brave enough to played around with the manual settings on my point-and-shoot camera!

To see what all my fuss is about you simply must view Quinn's portfolio. You can find her "sweet" photos by visiting LimelightFoodPhotography.com. By the way, you'll want to have a napkin handy to wipe the drool from your chin! Consider yourself warned! --Emily

Monday, August 24, 2009

RMMB: Raise your hand if you love the first day of school

This Wednesday not only marks our big move into a new home but also the first day of school for my girls. With back-to-school thoughts on my mind I turned to Rocky Mountain Moms Blog for a mini confession: I love it when my girls go back to school. There. I've said it, and you can read all about it on Rocky Mountain Moms Blog:

Raise your hand if you love the first day of school

And if you're feeling so inclined, I'd love for you to comment on the post and tell me whether or not you too love it when your kids return to school in the fall! --Emily

Friday, August 21, 2009

Quinn's "I can eat the whole pan" bar cookies

This is quick because I'm suffering from tape-gun wrist due to all the packing going on around here and I have a half-marathon Saturday morning for which I need my rest. (Yeah, like that will happen...hope they're serving Diet Coke along the marathon route!)

But before I could head to bed after a wonderful night listening to Quinn (@limelightfood) talk about food photography during the Ignite Salt Lake event (she TOTALLY rocked it by the way), I wanted to share with you my newest, most favoritest recipe courtesy of Quinn "I rock the food photography world" herself.

The recipe is for a healthy variation on your typical chocolate chip bar cookie and it is to die for! We've made the recipe, devoured the first pan, froze the second pan and have already defrosted and eaten almost half that pan as well--and it's only been a couple days since we originally baked them! And I feel good about all that cookie-bar eating because they're healthy. They have wheat flour, oats and semi-sweet chocolate so you too can feel good about devouring a pan!

Quinn's healthy-yet-super-tasty bar cookies
2 cups butter
3 1/2 cups brown sugar (or 2 TBSP molasses + 3 1/2 cups sugar)
4 eggs
4 tablespoons hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons dough enhancer (you can find this in a can in the baking section; it makes the wheat fluffy so use it anytime you cook with wheat flour)
4 cups whole wheat flour
6-9 cups oats (add as many cups as you think your family will eat it; we used about 7)
Optional Items: semi-sweet choc chips, walnuts, dates, coconut, raisins, craisins, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine and blend butter, brown sugar (molasses + sugar), eggs, hot water and vanilla together in one bowl. In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients together: salt, soda, dough enhancer and flour. Combine the butter/sugar mixture with the dry ingredients. Add oats and any other optional ingredients like choc chips and blend again. (I used a whole package of chocolate chips. Next time I'm going to add coconut too!)

Spread the dough evenly in two large cookie sheets. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and set in the center. Cut into bars when cooled.

Note:
This recipe makes a double batch so feel free to store them in Ziploc bags and freeze to enjoy later. Or you can bake just one pan and freeze the other so you can have the second batch straight from the oven!

It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it. ~Julia Child

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Love me or leave me...okay, don't really leave me

If you're sick of my lame, excuse-filled posts, I don't blame you. This summer seems to have been one of survival and I still have a couple weeks left before I find out if I win the final challenge. Okay, there's no final challenge but there is an upcoming move on the 25th and I am still trying to pack. This weekend is the Hobblecreek Half Marathon for which I've been training for the past few months and the 26th is the first day of school for my girls.

I hope you all love me enough to bear with me as I try to make it through the next week and a half. Believe me when I say I don't deserve all you loyal readers. I promise to try and make it up to you after I've made the move and made it through the first few days of school. I foresee maybe one more blog post before the move, and most likely on Friday since that's when we feature food. And if you haven't learned by now, I really, really love food. It's my favorite day to post!

So keep hanging in there with me and I'll be back on track once school is back on track. By then I should have my computer up and running and a clean change of underwear unpacked from its box. Love you all! --Emily

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Created by Chicks-- a must-visit, must-bookmark, must-subscribe-to blog!

Quinn Curtis, my very good friend and partner in crime (okay, partner in planning the Moms Who Make It conference), just started a new blog appropriately and awesomely named CreatedByChicks. I absolutely LOVE the name; it's sassy with a lot of style thrown into the mix. And because it's been forever since we've had a fashion trend tuesday, I thought it more than appropriate to feature it today.

CreatedByChicks is brand, spankin' new so you'll want to check back and watch as it takes on a life of its own. I'm so totally sure it will since Quinn, the woman behind CreatedByMom.com, is behind it!

I’m just a chick who really digs celebrating creativity, especially creative chicks. I think the world needs more creativity. It gives us life & happiness to be creative, don’t you think?

That's the new blog in a nutshell, but a very concise, very creative nutshell. Her first post features beautiful headbands by kaang--the Lesley Flower headband is TO DIE FOR! Have your own fabulous creations and designs? You'll want to join the CreatedByChicks community by uploading pics of your "creative endeavors" to the CreatedByChicks Flickr group.

I am so excited about CreatedByChicks I can hardly stand it! I am anticipating it becoming one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, fashion blogs for crafty, creative women entrepreneurs, so check back regularly as she builds the site and adds a subscription option. You'll definitely want to catch this blog's updates! --Emily

Friday, August 14, 2009

A very blue Blue's Clue's

And by "very blue" I mean her color, not her state of mental well-being. While in California it was Livi's 2nd birthday so we celebrated with a barbecue (Dad, those burgers and dogs totally rocked!) and a Blue's Clue's cake. Livi is way into Blue's Clues right now, which seems pretty typical for her age. I think all my kids have gone through a BC stage!

I love making theme cakes for my kids—at least until
they turn 8 and then it's just their favorite type of cake, theme not included. I've done everything from a princess castle to a multi-car train to a spider complete with ooey, gooey guts. Sometimes they are works of art, other times they're just work; either way they always taste good!

Had I been better prepared and taken more time and energy to plan, Livi's BC cake would've turned out a bit differently. Perhaps the cake itself would've been shaped like Blue or we'd have accompanying paw print cupcakes, but with
the flu making its way through just about everyone and her being my fourth child (I admit it...after four children their birthdays have gotten progressively lamer) I was happy working with what was at hand. It may not look like the Blue we all know and love, but at least it was blue. The true test came when Livi saw her cake and said, "Ah, Boo!" That's all I could've asked for!

So here's how I made Livi's Blue's Clue's cake. We're big chocolate fans so we went with a more non-traditional fully chocolate cake. Feel free to try it for yourself, though I'd go with white frosting so you can tint it a better "Blue." You ca
n also Google "Blue's Clues birthday cake" and you'll find lots of other great options. Have fun!


Ingredients

1 chocolate fudge cake mix baked in a 9x13" pan
1 can fudge frosting (we're all about the chocolate in our
family)
1 tube blue decorator frosting
1 small container blue sprinkles
1 T or so pink sprinkles
2 chocolate chips

Blue's Clue's pattern from this website (I used the small 8.5x11" version)

Directions

1. Cut out the Blue's Clues pattern and tape the ear piec
es together. Lightly place on top of the cake and use a toothpick to lightly trace around the pattern.

2. Use the chocolate frosting to frost around Blue's silhouette. I used a large toothpick to fill in the skinny areas between Blue's ears and head and around the outside of the ears.

3. Cut out the spots, eyes, nose and tongue from the pattern and place in the correct areas on Blue's face, then use the blue decorator frosting and a star tip to frost around the cutouts. I used another toothpick to make it look more like real puppy fur, though I guess in hindsight Blue really isn't that furry.

4. Remove the cutouts except for the eyes and frost in those areas with chocolate frosting (it helps to use a toothpick here too). Why not use the blue frosting? Two reasons: one, I had about run out and two, we really like chocolate.

5. For the spots and nose use the blue sprinkles and for the tongue use the pink. I know, you could've figured that out yourself but hey, these are "directions." I dumped a small pile of sprinkles in the center of each spot and then used a toothpick to spread them so they fully covered the chocolate frosting. I did leave a little trim of chocolate around the nose to help it stand out.

6. Take each chocolate chip and place a little frosting on the bottom. Stick those puppies (how appropriate is that?) on top of the cutouts and voilĂ ! You're done! Just remember to remove those cutouts before eating. Of course kids have been known to
eat paper and survived so no worries if they get devoured before you can remove them.


You can seem the resemblance, right? RIGHT?!?! --Emily

The Healthy Pantry & not-so-healthy cookies

I recently reviewed some family meal kits from The Healthy Pantry on Boutique Cafe's Daily Dish and I had to give them a shout-out on this blog as well. The Healthy Pantry provides quick-and-easy meal kits for the whole family that are not only quick and easy but also healthy and delicious. They have everything from apple cinnamon pancakes to Tuscan tilapia to whole grain chocolate chip cookies.

To read my full review and view photos of the mixes in action, including a couple of Madison bustin' out some mean whole grain oatmeal raisin cookies, check out the full review here:

"How healthy is your pantry?"

You can also enter to win a $100 gift certificate good for your online purchase at TheHealthyPantry.com. That's $100!!! So enter to win and enjoy family-friendly, time-strapped-mom friendly meals!

And sin
ce that's enough healthy stuff for one day, here's one of my most favorite cookie recipes which I actually came up with all by myself. That's a big deal for a "Type A, always needing and following directions" type of girl! Enjoy!


Emi's Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups quick-cooking or rolled oats
1 cup sh
redded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or raisins, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips...even craisins!)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Mix in the quick oats, coconut, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are light golden brown on the edges and almost set in the middle. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for at least 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

"I am still convinced that a good, simple, homemade cookie is preferable to all the store-bought cookies one can find." ~James Beard

Photo by chibi chef, shared via Allrecipes.com.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy School Year's Eve!

Celebrating New Year's Eve is, well, a yearly tradition in our home. Though we're not in Times Square with the rest of the world, we enjoy good food, family and some serious game playing to celebrate the new year. But for most families the "new year" really comes around the middle or end of August when the class lists go up and school shopping begins. The first day of school is truly a "new year" for kids and families alike.

So in true party fashion, Cookie magazine and PTA have teamed up along with GAP, KinderCare, Children's Zyrtec and Hot Moms Club, the celebrate the newest school holiday, School Year's Eve! This new holiday was created to help get families ready and excited about the new school year. (We could use some help with the excitement some years more than others depending on the outcome of those class lists!)

Who's invited to the School Year's Eve bash and when is it? Everyone is invited--families, schools, and PTAs all across the country are encouraged to celebrate. Cookie and PTA will ring in the new school year (and the new national holiday) on August 30th. What if your school starts earlier or later? Just celebrate whenever school begins for your children and do whatever works best for you. You can have the party at home, put together a larger block party or even check with your school and ask for help from your local PTA and principal to host it there!

For party planning tips and ideas you can check out the Party Planner section of the School Year's Eve site for ideas, links and downloads. The site also has a Style File for cool back-to-school looks, resources for parents with advice from Cookie, PTA and parenting experts and recipes for yummy School Year's Eve party treats!

And to make your School Year's Eve party truly fabulous, Cookie and PTA are offering partygoers the chance to win $1,500 for their school or PTA unit. Just post pictures from your School Year's Eve bash after August 15th for your chance to win!

Oh, and the site also has some great money-saving coupons from companies like momAgenda, Y WATER, Birthday in a Box and Sharpie.

With only 17 days and counting until August 30th you'll want to start planning your School Year's Eve party now! For more details visit the official School Year's Eve site here. Happy countdown! --Emily

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Livi loves her Papa

Photobucket

Whenever I say the word "Grandma," Livi immediately pipes in with "Papa!" or "Papa house!" She ADORES her Papa!

Monday, August 10, 2009

How moms are making money blogging

When we started this blog it was simply an extension of georgie tees, a way for us to share news about our tees, tips about being mompreneurs and some of our favorite things, from fashion to food. And I still see this blog somewhat in that light, but as I've met other "mom bloggers," especially those who are making money from their sites, it's occurred to me that perhaps I too could make a little extra spending money for our family.

I actually have a URL purchased that I feel will make a wonderful blog and am currently planning just how I want that blog to work, the vibe I want it to have, etc. In the meantime I also want to learn everything I can about monetizing that blog if I feel it's a good fit. I am definitely NOT in it for the money but if it earns money, who am I to look a gift blog in the mouth?

If you too have been wondering how other moms are making money blogging then you need to check out my friend Vanessa's new site, MomsMakeMoneyBlogging. Vanessa is the woman behind such awesome sites as I Never Grew Up and Utah's Natural Kids and she is one of the most down-to-earth, wonderful, sincere women I know. If anyone can show you how to earn an income from your blog, Vanessa can. Heck, I'm happy to just sit back and watch her on video, she's that cute! And if I learn something in the process, that's even better!

So check out her new membership site, MomsMakeMoneyBlogging. Her intro video will have you hooked and I can guarantee the rest are definitely worth your time and membership. (And yes, she's really and truly that adorable in person!) --Emily

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

RMMB: "Have kids, will travel (but only with a portable DVD player)"

Okay, so I have done a little writing while on vacation in California, and the drive out was inspiration for my latest post on Rocky Mountain Moms Blog. Anyone else find a portable DVD player necessary when heading on road trips with the kids? And if not a DVD player then a plethora of other portable electronic devices? After our emergency stop at a Walmart in Elko (you can read more about that in the post) I started wondering why we've come to rely on movies to entertain the kids. Sure, it's easy and keeps the car quiet but what happened to the good ol' days of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in rounds and pummeling each other while playing slug bug?


I'd love for you to read my latest post on RMMB and then comment at the end of the post sharing with us your thoughts/tips/tricks/advice for road travel with or without the latest box-office release! --Emily


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This week's excuses

Here is this week's list of excuses for why I'm too busy to post regularly this week:

  1. As of Wednesday night last week four people in this house have been sick, three of whom vomited for about a 24-hour period (two of which can't make it to a toilet in time).

  2. We hit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, San Fran and my Fremont reunion within a three-day period. I drove along I-80 long enough to be able to do it blindfolded.

  3. We found a home, discussed buying the home, even had my dad whip up a pretty serious pros and cons spreadsheet and then put an offer on a home. And the offer was accepted.

  4. My youngest has refused to nap and prefers taking me by the hand and leading me everywhere she goes, and if I leave the room, even super stealthily, she finds me and puts me back in my place.

  5. I have had very little time to actually "hang" with my parents so I'm going to do that instead of sitting here while my butt goes numb.

  6. I've been spending way too much time reconnecting with "old" friends via Facebook.

  7. Today I spent a wonderful evening with Josh and Rebecca from MomFaves.com and their fabulous little boys instead of thinking of a super cool new blog post to write.
So that's only 7 excuses this time. Perhaps in about 6 weeks I'll have no excuses left and get back to posting regularly. Until then...enjoy the rest of your summer. It's flying by way too quickly! --Emily

Image by Maxey, shared via Flickr.