This hooker is also a tart…..maker

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I thought being a hooker was cool.  Boy, I had no idea how much cooler it would be to become a tarty hooker.  (The jokes!  Oh the jokes!)  I’m poor cheap.  Frugal even.  So, the other day when I cleaned out my candle cubby, I decided that I would find a useful way to use the old candles I’d been hoarding saving and……a TART was born!

If I had known making these would be so easy, I would have started making them a long time ago.  As usual, I will give you the basics to get you started.  Feel free to get creative.  If I can figure this out successfully on the first try, YOU will be able to do amazing things with this tarty goodness.

You need –

(the necessities)

sauce pan with boiling water, old candles, silicone ice cube trays or old glass candle jars, plastic spoon

(optional)

cookie sheet, foil, electric candle warmer, damp paper towel

Let’s get started –

Place your candle in the sauce pan.  Put enough water in your sauce pan to cover all or most of the wax in your candle.  (the water does NOT go in the candle, it just goes in the pan)  If you’re not using a candle that is already in a glass jar, you’ll need to find something  to put in the pot that can hold the candle and not be ruined.

Bring the water to a boil.  Continue to boil until all the wax is melted.  I use the plastic spoon to pull the wick out as soon as the wax is soft enough.  That helps to cut down on the little black floaters (or sinkers) that will be left when everything is melted.

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Remove the melted wax from the pot and let it cool on a trivet (or whatever) until you can handle it without hurting yourself.  When you’re able to handle the hot wax, pour it into the ice cube trays.  Let the wax cool in the tray until it no longer spills when you move it, then place it in the freezer.  It doesn’t take very long to cool the whole way in the freezer.  Less than half an hour.

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Before going in the freezer…..

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Loosen the tarts from the ice cube tray and turn it upside down.  They should fall right out.  There ya have it.  Adorable tarts that don’t take long to make and help you save money.  Every penny counts, right?

Oh right!  The optional stuff.  The cookie sheet and the foil were to give you a more stable, flat place to fill your ice cube trays.  Well, the cookie sheet was, the foil was for easy clean up.

The electric candle warmer….I found a little trick for making the tarts look a bit more professional.  If you want to give them as a gift, you might want to try this.  The bottom of the tarts can come out a little rough, depending on how much you overfill or spill on the ice cube tray.  To fix this after they come out of the freezer, turn on your electric candle warmer and place a damp paper towel over the warming plate (ok, so this isn’t the safest, most responsible thing to do, but I’m assuming you’ll all be careful).  After you’re all warmed up, rub the bottom of the tart on the hot paper towel and smooth out any rough spots.

These would be super cute packaged up.  It’s not really re-gifting if you’ve upcycled it, right?

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Diabetic Friendly Jello Pie

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This is simple, refreshing, and not bad for you. As sweet summertime desserts go, what more could you ask for? This will just be a quick post to get the nutrition facts down before I loose them.

The basic pie –

Any flavor sugar free Jello (0.03 oz box)

A whole tub of frozen light whipped topping – thawed

3/4 c boiling water

1 c cold water

Ready to serve Graham Cracker pie crust

Directions –

boil 3/4 cup water and stir into or pour on top of the powdered jello. stir until dissolved, about 2 mins.

put 3 or 4 ice cubes in a measuring cup and then fill to the one cup mark. this will help the jello cool off faster and speed up the pie process a bit. add the cold water to the hot jello mixture. stir until ice cubes are dissolved or until the liquid is cool and remove extra ice cubes.

with a wire whisk (or whatever you like. i like the whisk), mix in the light whipped topping. stir until well combined. it will feel wrong to stir the air out of the whipped topping, but don’t worry. it will be fine.

stick the jello/whipped topping mixture in the fridge for no longer than an hour. you want this to soft set before you put it in the pie shell. it will make a prettier pie if you don’t have to spoon lumps of oooey goodness into the pie shell. I always have extra filling, so I put that in a small bowl for the kids to share later.

chill your pie for about 4 hours. it will cut perfectly! wait until you see just how perfectly this pie cuts. seriously, it’s perfect.

that’s the basic pie. there are so many variations you could try. imagine the possibilities! the following nutrition facts are for the pie above, only with the Keebler Chocolate Crust. There will be very little difference if you use another crust.

Calories 111.7, Total fat 5.1 g, Saturated fat 4.3 g, Sodium 60 mg, Total carbs 15.3 g, Dietary fiber .02 g, Sugars 5.3 g, Protein 1 g

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Baby Shower Fun

Last summer, as some of you may know, we had some amazing additions to our family.  I had the stress pleasure of throwing a baby shower for my sister.  If you’ve thrown a shower or similarly stressful exciting party, you’ll understand and forgive me for not having more pictures.  I was trying not to pull my hair out to keep things going smoothly and didn’t have time to get any of the party itself.  These are the few I took during the weeks of party prep.

IMG_4733These started out as cupcake toppers, but we decided to go with mini cupcakes and they became everything toppers.  They were adorable peeking out of centerpieces and food displays. (lollipop sticks, card stock and printer paper)

IMG_4732If I had my way, no child would ever be invited to a grown up party EVER.  Ok, that’s a little harsh, so we allowed double digits.  Since it was late summer and we were all gearing up for the new school year, I made up some adorable pencil cases full of fun school supplies.

IMG_4734Of course, I had to add some crochet to the adult party favors.  These spa cloths are fabulous.  I use them all the time.  Sugar and cream cotton in a 10×10 (or 9×9, I can’t remember) square.  I LOVE THEM!

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My sister-in-law made these sugar scrubs.  I don’t have a link for this specific one, but there are tons of directions out there if you consult google.  She did some with lemon and some with tea tree oil.  Holy moly, this stuff is amazing.

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Simple packaging for the favors.  Brown paper bags, a hole punch and some yarn.  I used printed labels for SOOOOO MUCH during this party.  You can see them here.  I also printed out the name of each dish on the gigantic food table and attached them to a folded index card.  They made the gigantic food table look so cute and answered the “what’s this?” question for the guests before they could even ask. Did I mention the food table was gigantic?

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We played a typical baby shower game or two, but after planning the games for a few showers in the last few years, I was bored with the different variations of the same sad baby shower games.  Instead, I had the guests decorate onesies.  This had the potential to go horribly if the guests weren’t interested, or run the party super duper late if they really got into it.  I was trilled when it headed toward the running late side of things.  We gave the guests the option of using some pre-printed graphics on transfer paper (not everyone is creative) or cutting their own design from fabric pieces that had iron on adhesive ready to go.  We provided some stencils and samples (the photo above), and the guests went crazy!

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These amazing cupcakes were a HUGE hit!  Seriously, make these.  Make a lot of these.  I made them mini because that was kind of the food theme for the party.  My sister had gestational diabetes (lucky her!), so making things in bite size portions allowed her to get a taste of  everything without messing with her sugars too much.  But enough about her…..these cupcakes are DA BOMB!

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The point of a shower is to show the mama some love and support through expensive, unnecessary, and sometimes pretentious gifts.  Ok, most of the time the gifts are pretentious.  But really, it all comes down to the crazy amount of love you have for someone that you haven’t even met yet.  That itty bitty bundle of everything good and kind and fantastic in the world.  This amazing little guy might hate me (I’m secretly really proud of the magical ability I have to make him scream just by walking into the room), but I’ve loved him since he was just an idea in my sister’s head.

Party food ideas that we tested and approved for you!

Dill Dip In A Bread Bowl

Hibiscus-Honey Tea

Guacamole Bruschetta

Mini Caprese Bites

Raspberries With Chocolate Centers

Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls

And lots of other things.  If it could be put on a stick, we served it that way.  FUN STUFF!

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Crochet flower pot cozy

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This is one of my favorite bits of happy.  It sits on my kitchen window and makes me smile.  It was super simple to make and I’m going to give you a basic guide to make your own.  I know, something this simple will be easy enough to figure out on your own, but sometimes a little reassurance that you’re on the right track is nice. This is a GREAT de-stash project.

The cozy pictured above was made about a year ago.  Because it’s an inside flower pot, I used acrylic yarn.  If you’d like to make one as an outside decoration, I’d suggest using cotton.  I think it would handle the weather better.

All you need is some yarn and the appropriate hook to go with it.  The yarn pictured above is Red Heart Soft.  The yarn below is I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby.

Here we go-

IMG_4706Make a chain long enough to stretch snugly around the base of your pot.  You don’t want it to be super tight.  Snug is good.  (No, you’re not doing this around the pot, the pictures just show the progression of the cozy in comparison to the size of the pot.  Check your progress often, so you can make adjustments as they’re needed.  It would SUCK to get the whole thing done and discover it doesn’t fit.)  Join with a slip stitch in the first chain and chain 2.

IMG_4707Half double crochet in every chain around and slip stitch in the top of the chain 2 to join.  My foundation chain is usually a little loose, so I did this first row pretty tight.

From this point until you get to the lip of the pot, increase by 2 in every other row.  Where you do this doesn’t matter all that much.  Try to add your increases evenly in the row, but don’t stress about it.

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Add color changes wherever and however you like.  Or leave it plain and add some motifs later.  I think I’ll try that on a future pot.

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The last row before the lip turned out to be an increase row for me.  It might not for you.  Depending on the pot you’re covering, you may have more of a lip or no lip at all.  If you have no lip at all, continue along as you have been.  If you do have a lip, you’ll need a few more increases in the next row to accommodate the pot.  For this pot I did 4 increases in the next row, plus the 2 increases in the previous row (the last row of white in the photo above) for a total of 6 increases.  I didn’t need any additional increases after this, so I just continued with the pattern until I got to just below the top of the pot.

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I found with this cozy that ending with a few rows of single crochet gave a more finished and snugger (is snugger a word?  that doesn’t look like a word.  it doesn’t sound like a word either.  say it out loud.  SNUUUUGGGGGER. nope.  doesn’t sound like a word) finish.

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And there ya have it.  A flower pot cozy.  It’s super simple and there are so many possibilities and endless variations to try.  I think these make great gifts and would probably sell pretty well at a spring or summer craft show.

check  out this little bit of awesome my daughter made in her pottery class (yep.  that’s a high school elective!)  it’s a deviled egg!  Ha!  I love it!IMG_4715

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Easy Peasy Baked Mac and Cheesey

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This is oh-so-good and fairly simple mac and cheese. For me, this is fancy cooking because it does take a little time to prepare. It’s absolutely worth it though. My measurement are rough guesses. I don’t usually measure when I cook. Feel free to adjust this to your own taste.

If you’re like me, and a total wimp when it comes to anything spicy, don’t let the Mexican cheese stop you from trying this. It gives great flavor without any heat. If you’re still nervous, cut it back or skip it altogether. It will still be yummy without it.

What you need-
One box of noodles, your choice
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
One bag (2 cups) of shredded sharp cheddar
One bag (2 cups) of mac and cheese blend (if your store doesn’t offer this, a bag of mild cheddar will work just fine)
Half a block of Mexican velveeta, diced
Salt
Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400. Boil pasta until tender, drain and dump in a 9×13 baking dish.

Melt butter over med heat in sauce pan (I just use the pot I boiled the pasta in). When the butter is melted, add the flour and combine into a paste.

Slowly add the milk and stir constantly (or as constantly as you can while you deal with fighting kids). You can add some salt and pepper now, or not. That’s a personal preference.

When the milk mixture has thickened, add your cheeses and continue to stir until everything is melted and creamy. At this point your stomach will start to growl. It will smell amazing.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and mix it together, making sure to coat all of the noodles. It may look like way too much cheese sauce, but come on, is there really ever too much cheese?

My family likes a little crunch on top of their mac and cheese. At this point I add crushed Ritz crackers to melted butter and sprinkle over the casserole. Today, I don’t have crackers so I used seasoned bread crumbs.

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Bake at 400 for 30 mins or until bubbly. Let it sit for a few mins after you pull it out of the oven.

We’ve tried adding diced ham or crumbled bacon to this recipe before it’s baked. Both were very good, but we prefer it as is most of the time.

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Simple Cucumber Salad

Here’s a quick, healthy recipe for cucumber salad. There are no measurements because, really, who needs them? This is the basic how-to. Please feel free to expand on this. In fact, I insist! And then tell me what you did and if you liked it. I really want to know!

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What you need-
Cucumbers
Tomato (or tomatoes, depending on the kind you use)
Onion (your choice. I like red)
Veggie oil
Salt
Pepper

Yep. It’s that simple. Cut the veggies up any way you like (I prefer thin for this) coat with the oil (enough to help the salt and pepper stick), sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. That’s it.

Side note – where the heck have yellow tomatoes been my whole life?  They are AMAZING!  If you’ve never tried them, I strongly encourage you to do so.  They just might blow your mind.

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Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

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This is not my recipe.  I found it on facebook, and since I can’t pin directly from facebook, I’m slapping it on here so I can find it again.

I made these little yummies last night and they were amazing!  We couldn’t wait for them to completely cool off before we ate them, and I think they’re even better slightly warm and gooey.

I followed the directions exactly, except I used crushed pineapple (they were on sale) and smooshed out the extra liquid before placing them around the cherry that I had already placed in the tin.

Another note – I ended up with 9 of these little goodies, not 6.  Since I was thinking I was only getting six, I had already distributed the brown sugar/butter mixture into 6 muffin tins.  Next time I’ll distribute to 9 muffin tins.  But even without the brown sugar goodness, the cupcakes I made out of the extra batter, pineapples and cherries were still amazing.

Posted by Incredible Recipes

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Cake Ingredients:
2 eggs
2/3 C white sugar
4 Tbsp pineapple juice
2/3 C all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Topping:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick or 4 Tbsp)
2/3 C brown sugar
1-can pineapple rings
6-maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
BAKE TIME 10-15 min  (I ended up baking for 22 min)
In a mixing bowl, add eggs, white sugar, and pineapple juice. Beat for 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and turn mixer back on for 2 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Stir on low heat for one minute.

Spoon a layer of the warm brown sugar mixture into the bottom of each muffin tin, then place a pineapple ring on top. Add a cherry in the middle of each pineapple. Pour cake mixture over to fill muffin tin 3/4 of the way full. If you are using regular muffin tins, you will need to cut down the rings to fit or just use pineapple tidbits

(adapted via bigmamashomekitchen.com)

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