Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Finger Lickin Good BBQ Sauce

Remember when I discovered the magic of Finger Lickin' Good Ribs from my pressure cooker from start to finish in under 45 minutes?

I am drooling over here just thinking about how absolutely delicious they were every.single.time I have made them.  And just how often I plan to be eating them henceforth.  Because I have finally discovered a BBQ sauce I love (other than the Kunkels, of course.)   Though this one doesn't require any advance notice, or planning on my part.  It can be made in about 10 minutes using just a few ingredients I have on hand.  So when I decide for instance to stop by the grocery store on the way home after work and pick up ribs I can be enjoying them and lickin sauce off my fingers an hour later.  I will warn you though it is a ketchup based sauce that is a little tangy and a little sweet.  If you are perfectly happy with any of those smokey vinegary sauces that come in a bottle from the store, or aren't a fan of ketchup and a little tang - Miracle Whip haters for instance - you should just skip this recipe.  :)

So without further ado - here's my new last second go-to recipe:
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
1/4 cup water
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP vinegar*
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce*
1 tsp of your favorite dry rub (or per the original recipe chili powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder

Note: Though the original base recipe called for 2 TBSP of both vinegar and Worcestershire sauce I will likely be cutting those down to 1 to 1 1/2 for future makings.  I think it's the Worcestershire sauce that needs to be cut back (or was just old and needed to be replaced) for my taste buds, but I will probably drop both to 1 TBSP and taste it them add more if I think it needs it.

Combine all ingredient in a sauce pan.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Enjoy.  :)

P.S.  The boys also heartily approve of buttered sweet corn as a side to the ribs.  And given all you have to do is husk it and then drop it in boiling water for 3-5 minutes then butter like crazy it will definatley be making frequent appearances as well.  :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School Lunch & Fun with Food

I have no idea how people manage to pack lunches  For themselves & for their kids!   Not only is it time consuming, it's also really hard for my poor brain to come up with ideas for more than just turkey sandwiches.  And burritos.  Because my mom made me homemade burritos almost every day for all 6 years of elementary school.  Hey - at least I was easy!  She didn't have to wrack her brains to come up with something new. 

Nevermind.  I wouldn't either if I just let my kids pick.  They would happily eat homemade lunchables in easter eggs for the rest of their life - like we took to school at Easter.

Maybe with a fish lunch thrown in from time to time to keep Connor happy.  That kid loves tunafish.  And there is nothing better than fish shaped tunafish.  Except maybe easter egg lunchables.  It might be a toss.

And even I was impressed with those fish shaped eggs.  Seriously coolest thing ever.  I never knew you could shape eggs.  Just looking at that lime jello is making my mouth water.  There is definitely more jello in our future.  :)

A couple of weeks ago I picked up some sort of Hawaiian pineapple chicken meatballs when I wandered through Costco.  They were actually pretty good - and the kids loved the combination of just a little sweet and savory, too. 

And dressed up with leftover flower picks from when we celebrated the boys' 3rd birthday party at the Rainforest cafe and cheese couldn't hurt either.  :)  They are my children after all... Ooohhh.... Pretty!  :)

So needless to say when it was time for bring your own lunch day again, with leftover meatballs in the fridge and a handful of monkey picks leftover too it wasn't hard to guess what the kids would be having.

I alternated meat balls and apricots & threw in some grapes, and some more hunks of cheese in a cute little turtle shaped silicone cup, as well as some nilla wafers. 
  Connor was so excited about his lunch he asked his teacher every 10 minutes all morning long if it was time to eat his lunch yet. That's why he's my sweetheart. :)   And because he appreciates things like this -  

Orange flowers and nutrigrain bars - for quick breakfast on the run.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Personalized Water Bottles

Another item on the list at our new school was water bottles.  Like everyone else the first bottles we took to school were the Cars & Cars 2 insulated thermos bottles.  Unfortunately with so many folks having the exact same bottles it only took a few days for one of ours to go missing and I am sure a fair amount of shared cooties to boot. 

So in the hopes of not losing any more water bottles I made personalized Scooby Doo and Cars designs to fit our old design your own straw sippy cups.  The unique designs made it much easier for the kids to spot their bottles.  On the downside however the sippy cup insulation just didn't keep water very cold - particularly when left outside in 100 degree heat and as school lets the kids fill their own bottles we would occasionally get a soggy design home at the end of the day when the kids inadvertently unscrewed the wrong part or were a little haphazard in their filling.  

So I really wanted to find something like the thermos bottles, but in unique designs.  Luckily I stumbled across the option to design your own Thermos bottles over at Cafe Press.  And by ordering two bottles & using a coupon from a previous order I was able to get them for about $14 - the same price or just a dollar or two more than the typical Cars designs.

And I couldn't have been happier with how they turned out.  I uploaded my favorite black and white pics of the boys and was pleasantly surprised to have them come out even better than I expected!  The boys of course were thrilled to discover their pictures on their bottles as well.  And they were a big hit at school.  We have had them for a few months now and the designs have held up amazingly well.  They have a scratch or two here and there, but for being used day in an day out for several months and dragged all over school, the playground, and even through some roughhousing in the sandbox they are in great shape and should definitely last for a while to come.

Personalized kids bag tags

The kids' school officially started the 2012-2013 academic year two weeks ago.  On Thursday they hosted a new parent orientation night and passed out information about what all the kids would need for the new school year.  On the list were nap mats.  Even though the boys are officially no longer napping at school.  Just "resting."  Because apparently when you actually nap you don't need a napmat.  But when you no longer take a nap - then you need a napmat.  Confused yet?  I sure was.

But the boys and I were stoked about picking out napmats so we just went with it.  From the very start Connor latched on to the green polkadot and would not be swayed.  Okay, so that's probably mostly because I wouldn't show him the purple/aqua polkadot option.  Because then there would have been no going back. :)

Ryan on the other hand surprised me forsaking all Cars/Lightening Mcqueen Options. He instead loved this bright dino print mat that I had originally picked out as an option for Connor.

I have to admit these mats are pretty awesome.  They both have built in pillows, and attached blankets so there aren't multiple pieces to keep up with.  Everything just rolls into one neat package.

The problem however was that Ryan's came with his name embroidered, and Connor's didn't.  Not to mention the embroidering part was on the INSIDE of the bag vs. the outside making it hard for teachers/classmates to know who's is who's.  So I decided it was {past} time to break out the laminiator and make the boys some tags as we have been rotating the ones from their old school backpacks onto their lunchboxes, backpacks, and miscellaneous bags for a couple of months now.

I thought some bright fun dinosaurs would be perfect and couldn't have been more happy to stumble on a set of commerical use templates from Paci Peroni Designs online via a google search. 

A little photoshop magic later we had tags using the boys' favorite designs that I printed onto cardstock and then laminated with the laminiator that I picked up... ummm... sometime before Christmas last year??

Needless to say I thought they turned out absolutely adorable.  We looped them onto the boys' napmats using some ribbon I had on hand for the time being.

Next time I make it to the store I will have to see if they have 1/4" gross grain ribbon (a little smaller, and stiffer) in a nice lime green and/or tangerine orange.  I was also planning to see if the store carried 5mil laminating pockets.  The laminator came with 3mil pockets which worked fine - and were surprisingly easy to use!  However, I wish they were a little stiffer to hold up to the constant use these tags will be getting throughout the year.  But otherwise I couldn't be more thrilled with how they turned out!

The boys are definately stylin with their new tags.  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dancing in the fountains

Connor hamming it up and having a good time in the fountains at Discovery Green last weekend.

Braving "Brave"

Next time I will take a hint.

With the kids out of school on Friday for a teacher in service day, and my vacation balance perilously close to 0 while Kevin's vacation balance has barely a dent in it (can you say work-o-holic??) I thought it would be a good opportunity for Kevin and the kids to take the day off and do something fun.  However, despite that OUT OF OFFICE notice on his calendar for months he interpreted it more like a work from home day while the dvd player baby sat as he did conference calls in the morning, and then dropped the kids off with me at 11 so he could go to another meeting.  Luckily thanks to my notebook's DVD drive, a thankfully vacant conference room with a projector, and my computer's ability to do split screen the kids watched a never before seen Scooby Doo while I caught up on a backlog of email and finished up some meeting minutes. And when Kevin was finally done we headed out to lunch.

As we waited for our lunch while Connor worked on a puzzle, and Ryan took his new Batman car out for spin I broke my cardinal rule for phones at the table and surfed the local movie theater showtimes.  Determined for the kids to do at least one fun thing on their off day I thought a movie might be a nice treat given the melting 100 degree temperatures outside.  I was surprised at the number of good things to see that were out at the theater now.  I picked up a book based on the Brave movie about a week ago and had mentally flagged it as something to pick up on DVD when it came out.  So when I saw that it was at the theaters now I thought it would be the perfect movie to send Kevin and the kids off to this afternoon.  Unfortunately the only show times for the day had already passed and Kevin declared that he had to attend a 2pm conference call and wanted to go into the office for a 3pm meeting.  So much for his fun day with the kids.  Luckily, expanding the search I found a 6:50pm at AMC.  As it was naptime for the kids we dropped the work-a-holic back off at work and I took the kids home to nap while I worked from home the rest of the afternoon.  Thankfully, despite being dumped on the living room couches instead of their beds upstairs, they slept until 4:30.  And then entertained themselves for the short time before Kevin made it home so I could finish up one last thing just in time to head out to the movies.

We made it to the AMC about 20 minutes before show time and were the first and only people in the theater for a good 15 minutes.  So the kids ran around and danced to work off some of that excess energy while I cringed at the disgustingly dirty theater with napkins still littering chairs and the floor in several places.  About a dozen more people trickled in about the time Kevin returned with popcorn and the lights dimmed signaling the start of the previews.

As each preview started the kids asked loudly if this was the movie.  Despite shushing and admonishments to keep their voices down they continued though each new preview.  And at the end of each preview Kevin would ask in his loud voice in the middle of the absolute quiet if they wanted to go see that one.  By the time the movie started the boys had downed almost the entire large bag of popcorn and were ready for the movie to start already.  But not nearly so much as I was... :)

With the movie on to captivate them things were go swimmingly well until the first scene with the bear.  Despite seeing all kinds of Scooby Doo monsters, and villains of every shape and form Connor didn't like the bear.  He (in his movie going loud voice) said he couldn't watch and buried his head into my shoulder through the end of the scene.  After the scene was over he returned to his chair, laughed at various parts of the movie and returned to his popcorn munching.  But the second the bear popped up again (even the nice bear, or the baby bears) he went crazy and couldn't watch it anymore and insisted loudly that he was ready to go home.  Now.  Kevin took him outside for a few minutes while Ryan and I watched the movie. When they came back Connor sat in my lap and alternated covering his hands over his eyes and peeking through his fingers while I whispered in his ear that it was just the nice bear and it was okay to look.

We did manage to make it all the way through the end of the movie, but Connor is quite adamant the he NEVER wants to see this movie again.  Apparently the whole showtime and Kevin's Day out fiasco was the universe's way of trying to warn me that this was movie was NOT for us... Maybe next time I will listen.  :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Who says princess' are just for girls!?!

About this time last year I bought two or three one hundred piece Tinkerbell puzzles.  For me.  Connor on the other hand had other ideas and latched onto them the second I brought them home.  Since then they have become some of his favorite puzzles. 

When we go out to eat and we know it is going to be a while before our food comes out I have gotten into the habit of bringing puzzles along to keep the boys entertained.  I have a whole box full in my car - Cars, Cars, more Cars, Trains, Dinosaurs, etc.  Not long after we got the Tinkerbell puzzles however Connor asked if we could take one of them with us as well.  And when it's time to pick a puzzle to take into the restaurant we often end up with one of the Tinkerbells.

So when we went to IHOP a week or so ago we managed to leave one of Connor's favorite Tinkerbell puzzles at the restaurant.  It was missing a piece or two anyway, so I decided it was probably a good time to stop by the store and see if we couldn't find him a new puzzle or two.  Unfortunately, while the stores are finally getting in some new puzzles, Tinkerbell is not among them.

Princess' however are very popular.  And Connor knows them all by name.  Flora, Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White, Tiana, Belle, Jasmine, Rapunzel, etc.   Something we discovered last year when he begged to keep one of the floor puzzles I had picked up as a gift for one of the little girls at school.  He actually knew them better than some of the girls.  :)

So I finally gave up, and gave in and bought him some princess puzzles. 

Needless to say he was thrilled.  :) 

He worked all 3 this weekend.

And left them out so I could take his picture with them.  :)


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