Saturday, January 26, 2019

Corn Casserole - a new (old) side dish to try

So my sister has been telling me about her new favorite side dish, she says it's like if corn and brownies had a baby. I was (of course) immediately intrigued! Think of it as a gooey, cornbread, with golden, crunchy edges, with a soft and fluffy center.  You on board now too? Good, because you are going to want to make it for your next gathering, or tonight, or even possibly, right now.
Corn Casserole - The side dish that will rock your dreams

After a bit of internet research it looks like this is a version of the classic Paula Dean recipe that's been around for ages, it's just new to me. You will need just a few ingredients:

1 can corn (drained)
1 can cream of corn (as is)
1 cup sour cream
1 stick melted butter
1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1 cup of shredded cheddar or combo shredded cheese

Combine the drained corn and the creamed corn

Canned corn and it's much less attractive cousin
After that in 1 cup of sour cream, 1 stick of melted butter, and the box of Jiffy corn bread mix

Stir that around until combined

Add in 1 cup of shredded cheese

Place in a greased 8x8 pan and bake on 400º for 40 min or until golden brown

Bring it out of the oven when it's golden brown with crisp delectable edges.

Who knew savory "corn brownies" would be a thing?
Let this bad boy cool for 5-10 minutes to help set.

Hello my golden brown corn casserole friend...
After that scoop some still warm onto your plate as a delicious side.

It's corn bread... it's corn... it's a soufflé, it's a brownie... you decide!
I couldn't help but love the crispy golden edges... it was my favorite part!

People are going to ask you for the recipe!

There is no bad angle on this thing, it's wall to wall scrumptious

I tried to get a close up on the fork, but the hot steam made it a bit blurry.

So if you want to try a new side (or revive an old classic) bring the hot, savory corn casserole to your next gathering. My sis wasn't sure it tastes as good the next day, I'll have to keep you posted.  I was thinking about heating it up in a cast iron with a little butter tomorrow and let you know.

Yummy!  Enjoy.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Happy Happy Joy Joy - the story of how we got our kitty with the unusual markings

Hello and Happy Happy Joy Joy to you in 2019!

I wanted to share a cute, quick story of how we obtained Happy, our 4th kitty and his crazy unusual markings (and to wish you a happy new year)!

Introducing Happy - the kitty
You might be thinking, now how does someone totally allergic to cats end up with four of them?  Well we rescued a few, and one even adopted us. (I'm most likely just a saint, who's love for animals outweighs my pesky love of breathing... that's the ticket). 
 FYI - I'll post our four-kitty back story at the end of this post for those that are interested)

but now onto the mysterious little story how Happy became ours.

So my middle child loves leopards. She loves cats.  She loves animals! Two years in a row she had a cat-themed birthday party.  One year was a leopard party, one year it was a kitty cat party.

All the kids adopted stuffed kittens and dressed like kitties, and made collars for them
What she really really wished for was a Bengal kitten, because they look just like a mini leopard. We already had what I thought was too many cats, and of course bangle kittens can be very pricey. 

A Bengal cat... adorable, very leopard like, and often pricey!
Plus we weren't going to spend a ton of money on a highly energetic and expensive cat, when most of our cats were rescues. I said almost sarcastically one day to her, look, if a Bengal kitten randomly shows up on our doorstep, we can totally keep it.

As it got closer to her birthday, we though maybe we could find a kitty on Craigslist or somewhere local that needed a home, looked like a Bengal, but of course without the hefty price tag. After days of searching my husband found a very good candidate.
What's not to love about this tiny little face?
He was striped, with spots on his tummy, very unusual markings all over in leopard colors that were quite beautiful. He called the lady to get more information, and sadly she said sorry, someone was already coming that day to pick him up. Boo. We were pretty disappointed because he seemed so purrfect, but luckily we had not told the girls about any of this.

The very next day, she called us back and said the other people never showed up, would we like to come see him. We said YES and she gave us her address.

Check this out, she lived IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, down the street, 

like SIX houses away!  (practically on our doorstep).  

We told the girls and took a short walk down the street to see the kitty.  He was SO adorable. 

Instant Happiness!

Here he is looking so sweet and tiny.

Baby Happy
 He had spots on his tummy, he looked like a mini leopard.  

Look at that leopard tummy!
We fell in love.  We took him home.

My middle child named him "Happy" because she was so very happy! (Plus, our other cats all have 'H' names (Hemi, Haley, Henry - and now Happy)

Eva and Happy!

So Happy became a part of our family.  He lived up to his name and made everyone a little happier!

Smiles all around!
As he got a little bigger, we noticed something a bit unusual. His stripes formed readable letters. We were totally SHOCKED when we realized what it spelled.

Hello world!  Live, from the super soft blanket.
On one side of his body, the word spelled out "got" (like "got milk").

See the "got"in the center of his body?
 I will trace the letters so you can see it better:

His right side spells "got"
One the OTHER side of his body, the stripes spelled out "JOY"

 Here's the traceable letters:

We actually couldn't believe it!
Not. Kidding. His stripes spelled JOY! His name is HAPPY!!!

That's right, this random kitty who practically landed on our doorstep, who looked like a little leopard, whom we named Happy because he brought my Eva joy, has the words "Got Joy" on his body!

Happy - meant to be a part of our family
It's one of those goose bump moments where you just know something was just meant to be!!!

So I thought this would be the happiest of stories to start off the 2019 year with, and I wanted to wish a happy HAPPY new year to you and yours!!!

Wishing this new year brings you happiness!!

*Here's the four-kitty back story for those that are interested:

We lived in a town house when we were first married when a feral kitty showed up at our back door. I fed him tuna because that's all I had on hand, he was hungry, and of course (well I know now) after the tuna, he never left. He was mostly an outdoor kitty and so I didn't have to worry about my allergies (he didn't want to come in). After we moved to our new house, we took the kitty with us but sadly one summer night a few years later, he didn't come home. Heartbroken we searched for weeks around the neighborhood and all the shelters with no luck. While we were at the shelter, about a month later, we did look at some other cats that needed to be adopted.  In box #2 was a little kitty that we took into a room and he instantly loved us. We decided to take him home. He purred like a little engine and so we named him Hemi.  I also thought it was a sign that he was in box #2, he was cat #2 for us.  

Hemi and Vivian when she was a baby
Hemi also was an indoor/outdoor kitty, and that was ALL the cats we were going to have... because of my allergies... Ha. that's funny now.

Hemi - all grown up and regal looking (we think he's part main coon)
So one day several years later, we were over at my father-in-law's house and they had a little female kitten, orange and white with blue eyes.  She was the softest, fluffiest, kitty ever. 

Haley - fluffy and so so soft.
She was a Manx breed (without a tail), and she didn't have a home. I took one look at her and told my husband (much to his shock) that she was coming home with us. I surprised myself actually, but they didn't have a home for her, the last female of the litter, and something about her said she needed to come home with us. We named her Haley. She's a sweet but very shy kitty. She only likes quiet people and adores the girls. If you come to my house you might never see her. She stays in mostly one room upstairs. She adores me.  She sleeps on my hip at night. She purrs like crazy. 

Haley two days ago, sleeping on my hip
Note: I think I've built up a tolerance with my allergies. I am not bothered by the cats unless I touch them and then touch my eyes or face. I just wash my hands and vacuum a lot. Needless to say I went from a dog person to a cat person since being married, which rather shocked my whole family.

So two kitties is way more than I ever planned to own. We were good. Then a few years later a very pale orange kitty followed the girls home. They kept calling him "orange kitty" but he was so pale, I joked he looked like the ghost of an orange kitty. He literally camped out on my doorstep, curled on our front mat like he owned the place. I'm not sure if there was an invisible sign outside our house that said "these people are suckers for cats" or "cats welcome" or what, but it was freezing outside and he stayed right on our front mat. I felt so bad, he was so skinny. I gave him some tuna, because I was making some for lunch (see my pattern) and then bam. He was ours.

Eva taking care of Henry when he first adopted us and came inside.  He was very grateful.
(Note: Well we took him to the vet first to make sure he wasn't tagged or chipped, put notices out in the neighborhood to make sure he wasn't someone's pet already. When no one responded after a good amount of time, we gave him his shots and chipped him). We also gave him his name, which is officially "The Ghost of King Henry VIII" or Henry for short (mostly due to my love of all things in the Tudor period, plus his super pale color).

Henry and Eva are still great pals to this day.
So that is the story of how we have so many cats.  Happy came along a few years back and completed our cat family.

So make the most of this year ahead! Adopt a pet, add a friend to the family, love each other and treat each other with all kindness - all year through!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Adorable Snowmen - made from Dollar Store socks!

Well there have been many recipes and crafts on the back burner that I need to share with you as the holidays approach at top speed, but I thought I'd start with some of the cutest little snow people that we made as gifts for teachers and family members over the holidays last year.  They were so fun we made them this year as well. 

No-sew snowmen made out of dollar store socks!
The best part about this craft is, that it's great for adults and kids alike.  I had just as much fun making these (if not more) than the girls did.  The other awesome aspect to this craft, is that it only requires a few simple items from the dollar tree, a few other craft supplies, and no sewing!

Snowman made from socks, customize one for every style and taste.
Look how cute these little guys are!  I got this idea from pinterest a few months back, and not only were these the craft at my daughter's 12th birthday party, but many family members, teachers, and friends each received a custom snowman just for them.  Here are the items you will need:

Note: You can also use "lost" socks at your house that you can't find the pair for.
White (long) men's socks (sold in packs of 2 at the Dollar tree)
Fluffy socks (stripes work best, and also no ankle-length or grips on the feet)
Rubber bands
Rice (I bought a 20 lb bag of rice from Walmart)
Pearl stickers (I could only fine white, so we colored them black with sharpies)
Hot glue gun
Tall narrow cup (to pour the rice in the sock) and funnel

Cotton balls or jingle bells
9x13 pan to catch all the rice

Take out one men's sock. The part you are going to use is not the foot part, but the section that would go up the leg with the ribbing.  With sharp scissors, cut about 1 inch past the end of the ribbing, close to the start of the heel.  Place the toe part of the sock aside.

Each two pack of men's socks will make 2 snowmen.
Turn the sock inside out and gather the thickest end into a tight "flower" pinching together the ends and put a rubber band around the top several times to secure.

Turn the sock right side out again, with the rubber band end tucked inside.

The rubber band inside will now be the bottom of your snowman

Fill a tall cup with uncooked rice.  

We found that this tall water bottle was narrow and the perfect size to slide a sock over. A thin, tall travel coffee mug would work as well. We used a funnel to help the rice go into the right place.  Oh we also used a 9x13 pan under all the rice activity to help keep rice from flying all over the kitchen.

The 9x13 pan saved us a lot of sweeping up time later
Place the open end of the sock over the top of the cup and gently flip over.  Carefully let the rice start filling up the sock.  It will look like there is too much rice, but if you push the bottom of the sock down a few times as it is filling, it will stretch/widen out and more rice will fit.  

You don't want to overfill the sock, because rice will start to come out the stretched out holes.
At the very end, carefully remove the cup without letting the rice fly all over the place.  There should be about an inch of sock material at the end.  Leave enough to gather together.

Once the sock is full of rice, it is quite mold-able to the shape you want.

Push the sock down again until you can gather enough material at the top to cinch another rubber band in place. 

Your snowman project will look a little fat and flabby at this point.
At first the shape should look like a pear, with a wide bottom, going up to a narrow top.  Now you can shape the "head" of the snowman by squeezing in slightly above center to form two "balls".  

This will give your future snowman a "peanut" shape
Place a rubber band around the head (this will be hidden by the "scarf" later on), and the Mohawk at the top will be covered up by the hat.

Make sure your head is a good proportional size.  Readjust the rubber band if necessary
Now the fun part, to make the scarf and hat from the fluffy fuzzy socks.  Pick out one you like and you are going to make a few cuts.  

fluffy socks from the dollar tree work great for this project. (no ankle length or grips on the bottom)
Start at the tip of the toe and measure up 4-5 inches, before the heel and cut across.  This will be your little hat. 

Here's a little map of your cuts
You will get four pieces out of one sock.  The hat from the toe, the neck piece (part of the scarf) from the top of the sock, and then a scarf tie to make the scarf more realistic looking right below the neck section, and then there will be an extra piece you don't need made up of the heel area.

Take the toe part of your sock and flip over a bit of the bottom to form a brim (fuzzy socks have a lot of fluff, we pulled off a few fuzz balls as we went to make them look neater).

Now you have a cute little hat for your snowperson.
Find the cutest "face-looking" side of your head and pull the hat down over the top to see how it fits. Adjust the width of the brim if necessary.

This little guy is from the first year we made these.
Now for the scarf.  Take the end of the sock where the elastic is, and cut a strip at the top there about an inch wide.

The "neck" part is at the very top of the sock.
This will be the scarf that goes around the neck and hides the rubber band. Place your scarf over the head of your snowman.

The elastic at the end of the sock will help keep the neck part of the scarf in place
Cut another strip right up to where the heel starts (see map above)
This will be in a ring, but cut the ring open and make one long strip for the scarf. 

Making this a longer strip will help make the scarf on the snowman look more realistic.
Run this up and over the elastic neck ring to make it look like the snow person has tied their scarf up and the tassels are hanging down.

So hat, elastic neck scarf, and longer scarf is tucked up and under the next area.
Now you pretty much have a super cute snowman!  If the scarf tassels are too long, you can trim them up a bit until they rest near the bottom of the snowman.

Here's our guy from last year looking all dapper.
You can also choose to tie the loose long scarf piece to the neck scarf for a tied scarf look, or you can leave it flat and wide for a different look.

The snowman on the left has a tied knot for his scarf, the one on the right the material is just slipped through the neck one.

All we need are some eyes and a few embellishments. I found these pearl stickers in the craft section of Walmart.  

The only color they had was pale white, so we just used black sharpies to make them "coal" colored.  

Stick them on to your snowman's face. These are sort of a stick once and don't touch them again kind of sticker. You really can't move them around because they will lose their stick.

 Too big of an eye makes them look a little wonky, so test a size out before you stick.
We picked a few coordinating buttons and hot glued them to the snowman's body.

My daughters teacher told her she loves blue and purple, so that's the color scheme here.

This last part for the hat is optional. The hat does tend to stick straight up, depending on how long it is, and so to make it look more like a floppy Santa/Elf hat, I took a little blob of hot glue and touched the tip of the hat to the side of the hat and held it a few seconds.  

Snowgirl fashionistas.
To cover up the little glue spot, we took some puff balls and/or jingle bells and hot glued them to the top of the hat. 

Here's a shorter hat with the pom pom straight up, and here's a hat where we glued a little part of the hat over, for another cute look.
It really gave them a finishing touch. 

You can also use jingle bells, pom poms, anything you want.
My daughter and friends had a blast making these little guys a few years back as the craft for her sleep over birthday.  They loved picking their favorite colors and they all turned out really cute.

A fun party craft for kids that are a little older, otherwise you will have rice EVERYWHERE.
Also when the girls were making these for their teachers, they picked their teachers' favorite colors or sports team colors. I made a few for my mom in her favorite Seahawks colors and some for my Sis-in-law who's high school colors (she's a teacher) are purple and gold.  So fun.

Sports team colors for a customized gift... Here are Seahawks, and Sumner Spartan or WA Huskies school colors.
The teacher's this year just loved their personalized gifts.

The girls had fun designing these little guys to the tastes of the people they were making them for.  We even used them to decorate one side of our fireplace mantle, which had a snowman theme this year.

We had a blast making these little guys, and it's not too late to make a few for some last minutes gifts for friends and family. Not to mention, if your kids are home on winter break and need something to keep them busy, this little craft could be right up your alley.  Let me know if you make any of these and post pictures of how they turned out!

Have a great holiday season! 
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