Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hickies - The best thing to happen to kid shoes

Every once in a while you take a gamble on a new product - and every once in a while, your gamble pays off!  My 9 year old (though she has known how to tie her shoelaces for years) always seemed to be walking around dragging untied laces through the mud and the muck.  Besides being a tripping hazard at school, the laces were getting wet and grimy and who in their right might wants to touch soggy cold shoe laces all the time?  Yuck. Enter in Hickies.  I had seen an ad for them on Facebook and they had really good reviews.  Since I had nothing to lose I thought I would give them a whirl.   *By the way, I am not being paid or reimbursed for this product.  We bought them and are giving an honest review.

Hickies.  Changing the world one foot at a time

So here is a typical look for my nine-year-old. Totally put together and color coordinated everywhere, with her shoelaces a draggin' in the wind.

Sigh.  Seriously, like all.  The.  Time.

The Hickies are an elastic, stretchy, easy to clip on alternative to shoe laces.  They come in many colors and styles.  


We choose some hot pink ones, because she loved the color combo of teal and hot pink.  We also bought some pastel ones as a back up which my other daughter is claiming shortly.

Hickies come in many shades and styles!

First thing we did was to remove the old laces... Good bye and good riddance!

I will not miss thee, you dirty soggy things

Next we laid out all of the Hickies. They came with 14 Hickies plus two bonus black and white ones, in case you want to add in some contrast.

Super cute and we liked we could color coordinate with the existing shoe colors.

There are many ways to lace up to give you different comfort levels.  I will put a link here, they have many videos on different methods to make them snug or easy to slip on.  We ended up doing a little looser style, so she could easily get them on and off in the morning for school, and yet they would stay snug on her feet all day.  The first one we ran straight across the bottom of the tongue.  It is the only one we did straight across.

It's good to start with a simple one

Next we worked on one side alone.  Place the "tail" of the Hickie through the top hole on the shoe, and then skip one hole.  Have the Hickie come out of hole after the skipped one like this:  The head should be at the top, tail out the same side after skipping one hole.


You want to repeat this action starting with the second hold down.  Skip the one with the first Hickie in it and push it out the remaining hole.  So now you have two Hickies on the same side, two heads at the top two holes, tow tails at the bottom two holes.


Now repeat this on the other side of the shoe, only do the opposite and start at the bottom of the shoe.  The head will go in the bottom hole, the tail will skip one hole and come out the third hole.

This will make it so the Hickies line up across the way when we hook them up

The the second Hickie will go in head first at the second to the bottom, with the tail coming out the top hole.


The final product should look like this before you attach them all.


Now that you have that worked out, all the Hickies will line up as you connect them across the tongue of the shoe.  This looser method allows you to slip on the shoe easily, but stays on all day. 

There is a little point at the tail.  You hook it over the blue nub in the middle and push through a hole
 
Do the same thing to the other shoe and you will be in business.  She slipped these right on and started running around the house.  She also believes that Hickies make you run faster!


Good bye sad soggy shoe laces... we are embracing the very easy shoe future!

No more trip hazard and new fashionable Hickies to boot.

By the way, they don't just make Hickies for kids.  There are tons of adult uses, running shoes, sports shoes, work shoes.  It's a great way to make any pair of shoes easy to get into, fit snugly, and look pretty fabulous while doing it.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Mini Corn Dogs

So what is the best part about going to a state or county fair?  Well besides the scones, elephant ears, people watchin' and onion burgers, the main draw around these parts are corn dogs, aptly named "Krusty Pups".  SO GOOD.  However, since my gallbladder and I parted ways a few years back, corn dog and hot dogs and I are not really on speaking terms any more. I recently found out that if I buy the swanky nitrate free hot dogs, I do not get the reaction I once would get.  This gave me a glimmer of HOPE that once again there could be a golden brown crusty dog of corn in my near future!

Mini corn dogs... once only a dream for a galbladder-less girl, now a new reality!

So what you need for this recipe is:

1 package of bun length hotdogs
16 skewers or long sucker sticks
Several cups of oil (your choice, we did vegetable oil)  

Corn dog batter: Batter recipe taken from here at Life Made Simple

3/4 cup yellow corn meal
3/4 cup flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons honey
3/4 cup buttermilk  * note we did a substitute
2 tsp vegetable oil

(Printable recipe at the end)

Take your bun length hotdogs...

I used to have buy the special Angus beef with no nitrates, but Oscar Mayer recently changed all their dogs to nitrate free!
and cut them in half

Bun length dogs cut in half make the perfect length for min dogs

I had bamboo skewers on hand that I cut in half, but you can also use lollypop sticks or chopsticks.  Push each half of the hotdog far up each stick. 

Meat on sticks....
Pat dry with a paper towel so each dog is dry to the touch (and will help the batter stick to the dog) 

In a bowl mix the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.


Add the beaten egg, honey, buttermilk (2 tsp of vinegar to 3/4 cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding), and vegetable oil.

 
Whisk together with the dry ingredients to make a thick batter.

Corn dog batter has a great smell to it!
Heat the oil up to 350º.  We had a candy thermometer on the side of the pot.  We also did not want to waste a ton of oil, (or stink up the house) so we used our smallest pot and filled it up a few inches to cover at least half the hotdog. 

 Pour the batter into a tall cup


Pre-dipping action
Dip the half of hot dog slowly in the batter, twisting as you pull up

Post dipping action
 Place immediately into the 350º oil and turn the temp on the oil down

Oh my gosh, it's working!
 Our pot was very small, we could only fit in two at a time

Two little pups spinning around in the oil
 Fry each dog for 2-3 minutes until golden brown all over

My 12-year-old wanted to help her dad
We got so excited when we thought these started to look like REAL corn dogs!!

Let them dry off on a paper towel to help wick off the extra oil

We were seriously impressed at this point.
Since we were making only a few at a time, we placed the finished pups on a pizza pan in a low temp oven to keep warm and crisp whilst we fried up the others.

Mini corn dogs... YUM

Soon we had a big ol' pile of golden Krusty Pups to behold.

Activate smell-o-vision here
All we had to do now was dig in!

Must have mustard.  It's the law.
A little scroll of mustard, some fresh corn on the cob and watermelon and this instantly became the new family favorite!

The batter was crunchy on the outside, sweet and fluffy on the inside.
Yum!  I think next time I will go with the smooth ended lollypop sticks instead of the skewers, just so the kids won't have that jabby point there at the end of the corn dog, other than that, we are SO going to add this to our summer dinner line up every once in a while.  So don't be afraid to try these in the near future, we were pleasantly surprised they were not that hard to make - and SUPER fun and delicious.


Mini corn dogs want to get into your belly today!

Here's the link to a printable recipe.  Enjoy.   

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Death Roses and Rainbows - A Mother's Day Story

Here's a funny little story that happened last year on Mother's Day I'd like to call "Death Roses and Rainbows" that I thought you would enjoy.

Death Roses and Rainbows... A true story.
Mother's day gets you thinking.  You know the one thing every mom secretly wants, is not necessarily the cards, presents, chocolates or gifts, but just for their children to recognize all the hard work and dedication it takes to be a mom.  Of course when they are still little, it might be YEARS before they can truly appreciate all the small things you did for them on a daily basis.



When your are deep in those mommy trenches, they have no idea that one little chubby-armed hug can erase countless sleepless nights, one bubbly coo can make the smell of a poopy diaper vanish (well almost), and turn your day completely around. Even one friendly smile from a formally sulky teenager can make all  the moody ups and downs worth it.  That's it. That's all we mom's want. Just an appreciative thank you goes a long way.  We love that.  That stuff can keep us floating for the next full year, through piles of dirty dishes to wash, mountains of laundry to fold, and sassy moody door slams. 

Calgon, take me away!
So when I married my hubby, he had two older kids, and so I instantly became a step mom to teenagers at the ripe old age of 28.  They were 12 and 15 at the time.  Brenda, the oldest and I have become great friends over the years.  She is all grown up now, and is married now with a husband and a little girl of her own.  For several years she was away in the military and has just recently moved back into the area.  When she was away, she would always send me special packages on mother's day.  So sweet.  Last year, even though they now live close by, she let me know I should still be expecting a package for Mother's day... and so on the day it arrived, I was very excited.  I decided to give her a play by play via text, so she could "watch me open it".

Behold.. the box.
Well the box sort of tipped me off right away to what it was, but who doesn't love flowers!?  Still a fabulous surprise!  Not only that, but as I was cracking open the box, I noticed how well secured these were in the box, and they smelled fabulous.  The card inside said that these were cut in the Andes mountains of Ecuador (ooo fancy) and had been delivered only 3-4 days after being cut. 

The box.  The box of promises...
As I take off the outer layers of packaging I get my first glimpse of the flowers, and am taken a little aback.  They are pretty dark.  I'm guessing a dark purple or a velvety black?

Very very dark roses
Brenda has not received my text yet on what the roses look like, because the last picture she got was them still in the box unseen, but she does tell me she is so excited, if they look anything like the picture on line, she is going to be thrilled!!  So I continue to cut them out of the packaging and man they are dark.  

Dark blue leaves are normal, right?
 Like really dark.

Are these sucking the light from the room, or is it just me?
The leaves are dark indigo blue, and almost look like bat wings.  Did she really mean to send me black roses? 

I love you... double. death.
 If you get black death roses from a step child... what exactly does that say about your parenting skills?  This cannot be good.



I tell myself (starting to rationalize why she would send me black roses) she and her husband Julian love goth type things.  Maybe this is a statement that they love me as much as they love gothy things??  Yes! That has to be it.  I can't help but think these are pretty severe as far as color.  Very deathly.  I was trying to picture me putting  a snapshot of these out on Facebook with a "look what Brenda gave me for mother's day" post and wondering what people might think.   

These vampire roses almost have a dark red to them in the sunlight, so that's something.
 
Meanwhile, she is texting... what do they look like.  I send her that first picture from above with the double vases on the table.  I tell her as a guess, are they dark purple, or a velvety black?  There is a pause in the texts.  Finally she comes back.

Her:  Nooooooooo
Me:   No?

Her:  Why are they black?
Me: Were they suppose to be another color??

Her:  They were suppose to be several colors

Her:  I sent you RAINBOW roses.

Me: Blinking
Me:  Shut up.  They make rainbow roses??  I LOVE rainbows!

Her:  WHY ARE THEY BLACK? 
Her:  Those look like they belong in a funeral home

Me (thinking quietly): I couldn't agree more

She was so upset.  I guess the company had made a mistake and sent the wrong color roses to me.  Not only did I have 12 of these roses, but a whole TWO dozen of them. Two vases full! Twenty-four black as night roses staring at me all ghostly hallows dementor-like from the kitchen table. 

Soul sucking roses at your service...
The nice thing about our family, is that we have a pretty good since of humor. This whole situation became hilarious to me. Her dad also was getting the play by play of this flower opening fiasco, and was already texting and teasing her about "remember that time you sent your step mom DEATH roses?  She was mortified.

So. Stunned.
I also had a wild and crazy thought that somewhere else in the world, some poor goth bride in a black dress and veil were waiting for the last minute delivery of her wedding bouquet black roses, and was heartbroken to find my beautiful, cheerful rainbow roses instead.  That alone had me cracking up every time I passed the jet black flowers on the table. 

Where oh where are my death roses?  This is my special DAY!
Well she called the company and they made good on their mistake... a few days later I received another box in the mail...  

It's the "getting my hopes up box"...

and I started to unveil them... almost too nervous to peek at the contents inside....

Bright colors as far as the eye can see! 
Say WHAT?!  These are BEAUTIFUL!  Like amazing!!   I slowly take them out of the box and lovingly prep them for a vase.  

Amazing Rainbow Roses
 These are incredible.  Each flower petal is a different color.  

Gorgeous!
How in the world is this accomplished?!



I spent the next few minutes... okay days, taking pictures of these gorgeous things in different light settings.   



Seriously I couldn't stop.

There is no bad angle on rainbow roses! They look good from all directions.
 So pretty in this light.

Rainbow roses are the best. thing. ever!
Brenda knew I loved rainbows, and so she gave me rainbows for mother's day. How sweet is this kid!? We kept the rainbow roses up as long as they would last, and then I ended up pulling off the petals on half of them to dry them and did an art project with them, and the other half I dried upside down so I could keep some forever.  The fact that they started out as shocking black "death roses" that turned into something so spectacular and special makes the story even better.  I do wish you and yours a very happy mother's day this year.  Whether they be biological or step, adopted, or grafted into the family, be sure to take some time out to thank a mom near you as soon as possible.  I promise even death roses can't break the bond of motherly love!

 
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