Archive

October 2011

Browsing

Fall festival (subtitle: toddlers have more fun)

Last week, my friend Corrine and I took our energetic toddlers to Cox Farms Fall Festival. Oh my goodness. What a blast. If two small people didn’t need to head home for naps, we could have spent all day wandering through the corn maze, riding the hayride round and round, and gawking at the piglets.

Kate agrees to a photo opp in the toddler area.

Sheep fight over breakfast. After I took this picture, one fell in the food bowl.

Kate and Josh’s favorite activity had to be throwing rocks into a pool of water. Who knew?! Seriously, toddlers, we spent $9 to throw rocks into a tin basin filled with water. But no one’s crying, so whatever makes you happy!

Throwing rocks is the best!

“Seriously, mom, get that Nikon out of my face. You’re embarrassing me. Also, do you have any snacks in that Mary Poppins bag of yours?”

The corn maze.

No one got lost.

But we had to carry around this specific rock the entire time.

Josh tries to hold Kate’s hand.

And off they go. So sweet! Those two make my heart all melty.

Piglets!

Josh smiling so sweetly and patiently letting me take this picture. And Kate tossing pumpkins and gourds off the wagon.

Our token pumpkin.

I tried to get a picture of Kate and Josh each holding their pumpkins and looking all sweet. But at this point we were pushing 1:30 p.m. and they were less than enthusiastic about cooperating for a picture.

Anyway, all in all, best $9 I’ve spent in a long time. And this pumpkin-retrieval crosses an item off of my fall to do list.

And on a somewhat related note, to all the moms with little babies, don’t despair. It keeps getting better. This time last year, Kate was almost five months old, getting up several times a night, and I never thought I’d get to the point where I could take her somewhere and she could run around on her own and do things like pick out a pumpkin and have fun throwing rocks. But she grew! And she walks! And runs! So, true, I do spend approximately eight hours a day on my feet chasing her. But that’s so much more fun than attempting to soothe an angry infant.

In short, toddlers, they are fun. And challenging. But mostly fun.

Celebrate and share

I love to scrapbook. But I won’t. Because I feel whatever I have to say isn’t worth saying. Whatever words I write about our family vacation or afternoon at the park or even just my thoughts aren’t worth writing down.

And then I met Katie. And she convinced me otherwise.

Katie says my story does matter. Whatever I have to say and share matters. I matter!

So a couple of months ago, I shared a couple pages of my Gadanke journal on the blog, and Katie just shared a few more pages from my journal on her shop site. Not only that, Katie is offering Sunny Side Up readers 10% off anything at Gadanke from now until October 27 at midnight (MDT). Just enter the code SARAH10.

Gadanke journals would make fantastic gifts for friends and family, so they can write down their stories and share them with you. Also, for those of you teaming up with Becky and her handmade holiday pledge, this would be a perfect time to purchase a handmade holiday gift.

How do you share your stories? Blog? Scrapbooking? Journaling?

Crock pot chicken and potatoes

Look at me, posting all these recipes! Can you believe I didn’t learn how to boil water until I graduated from college? Seriously. I never cooked a thing in middle school or high school. When I took Home Ec in 8th grade, I pretty much just let the boys in my cooking group run the show. The only thing I contributed was setting a paper plate on fire in a foiled attempted at crepes.

Now, here I am, all domestic. Okay, so I’m no Martha Stewart. But! I can definitely boil water and cook chicken.

My favorite types of recipes involve the crock pot. Oh, how I love the crock pot. You dump a bunch of stuff in, turn it on, and dinner’s done. No standing over the stove or checking on a dish baking in the oven. Or making sure a certain coonhound isn’t kitchen counter-surfing and eating all the ingredients. Not that that has happened. Or that we’ve eaten stuff Belle tasted first.

Moving on!

Recently we tried this Italian chicken and potatoes recipe, and it turned out pretty solid. Here’s what you do:

Ingredients

– 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

-1 bottle of Italian dressing

-1.5 cups parmesan cheese

-6 to 8 red potatoes, skin on, cut into chunks

-1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (you can adjust this to your taste)

Place chicken on the bottom of the crock pot. Sprinkle with half of the dressing, seasoning, and cheese. Put the potatoes on top and around the chicken. Top with the remaining dressing, spices, and cheese. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Oh my goodness, the chicken is so tender, it pulls apart. I thought for sure it would be shoe leather. But, happily, the chicken remained super moist. And the potatoes remained nice wedges instead of falling apart into mush.

This is definitely a do-over at Casa Bagley. And since the chicken fared so well, I am thinking about what other chicken crock pot dishes I can whip up. I’m up for anything, as long as it does not involve crepes.

Apple chips

Dan and I used to live close to a Trader Joes, and each week I would spend a good $50 on my favorite vice. Dried fruit.

Not freeze dried, mind you. That’s astronaut food. I’m talking dried fruit, that tastes like fruit, not like crumbly sugar cubes.

I loved the died mangos the best. But I also loved the dried apples. Trader Joes was the only place I could find pure dried fruit containing only fruit, not fruit plus copious amounts of sugar.

But then we moved away from the Trader Joes, then we had Kate, and I could not longer justify spending obscene amounts of money on my favorite snack. So I did without.

Until I found a recipe for making my own dried apples.

Oh, happy day!

I found the original recipe here. But this is what I did:

I bought about eight Fugi apples at the grocery. I suppose Fugi apples aren’t the tastiest. It seems a lot of people prefer Honeycrisp and the like, but they are much more expensive. And I found that baking the apples really takes them to the next level in terms of yumminess, so I wouldn’t spend the extra money.

I washed and dried my apples then cut them into slices. I tried for pretty thin. But be careful not to cut them too thin or else they’ll burn. After I had all my slices, I arranged them on my baking sheet (which I lightly coated with baking spray) and sprinkled on a generous portion of cinnamon. Then I baked they for one hour at 270 degrees, flipped them over, and baked for another hour.

Oh my goodness! So yummy! And my house smelled like apple pie. The thinner chips turned out a little more crunchy, but, really, you cannot go wrong with this recipe.

Now I can make my own apple chips for considerably less than I paid at Trader Joes. I’ll take that extra $50 and buy Pampers.

DIY: refurbished jewelry box (take two)

Remember when I lamented my frustration with my re-purposed jewelry box? It turned out, wrapping it in fabric wasn’t the best idea.

So, I went in search of another box. And I found a replica.

This time, I decided rather than wrap it in fabric, I would spray paint it. I love spray paint. So easy, such a huge pay off. (I fell in love with spray paint here.)

I didn’t know if spray paint would work. But I figured I’d give it a whirl. Worst case scenario, I spent less than $10. So why not?

(I was able to pry those jewels off the top of the box easily. I admire the craftiness of whoever previously owned this box, but I swore off bedazzling, so those had to go.)

Well, spray paint for the win!

Since I’ve worked with spray paint before, I knew the Rustoleum Painter’s Choice provides awesome coverage (I chose the color dark grey in a satin finish). And it sure covered this box, no problem. Like frosting on a cake.

The trick with spray paint is to keep it moving. If you linger, you’ll get drip marks. So spray back and forth in wind shield wiper motions to get the most even coverage.

To cover the top of the box, I found some foam sheets with a sticky back at Michael’s for $0.99. I cut the sheet to fit the top of the box, wrapped my fabric around the foam, and slapped it on the top of the box. To cover the inside, I found this cool, textured felt, cut it to size, glued the back, and adhered it into place. Felt is cool for a couple reasons: it costs about $0.30 a piece, is forgiving, and provides great texture. Since the inside of the box was kind of rough where I pulled out the old fabric, it left uneven spots. If I used thin fabric, all those imperfections would be evident. But, felt, he really covers up.

I love this project. So simple, such great results. I love it so much, I might just have another project to show you featuring another can of spray paint…

(Oh! I almost forgot! PSA: don’t spray paint the grass! Some members of the house were not too appreciative of the spray painted grey grass.)

Take a leap: an interview with Alexis Grant

Alexis Grant is my kind of girl. She’s ambitious, smart, and doesn’t back down from a challenge. Since she is launching her new e-guide today, I asked her to join me on my blog for some Q & A on e-guides, taking leaps, and making dreams a reality.

How did you come up with the idea for this e-guide?

I had the idea while I was writing my travel memoir, which tells the story of how I backpacked solo through Africa in 2008. Friends were always saying, “I wish I could do that,” or “How’d you manage to take six months off work to travel?” — and I knew that if I could do it, they could, too! So I started putting together a practical guide, one with both logistical tips and motivational hints, that would help wannabe travelers get out there into the world. At first I planned to approach traditional publishers with the project like I’m doing for my travel memoir, but with my literary agent’s help, I realized going the digital route was a better choice for me. I loved the process of writing and now promoting it!

I’m so not a traveler. It would take a lot to convince me to go anywhere. What is one of the biggest benefits of taking time to travel?

It’s fascinating to learn how people live in other parts of the world — what they value, what they eat, how they structure their lives. Part of the reason it’s so interesting to learn about other cultures is because it helps you see your own in a different light. When I come home after traveling, I notice inefficiencies in my own life and, even better, appreciate what I have far more than before I left. Traveling makes me feel alive when I’m actually doing it, and then that feeling carries over to my time at home, too.

This guide is more than about travel. It’s also about taking leaps. But leaps are scary. What’s one thing you would say to someone afraid to take a leap?

Yes! Totally! I’d say: What are you waiting for? Risks can be scary, but the potential for what you could gain from going for your big goal is often big enough to warrant taking that risk. Plus, you’ll never get any closer to where you want to be without taking risks. Five years from now, would you rather know you played it safe and are sorta happy, or would you want to know that you gave your big goal — the one that has all that potential — a shot? To me, following through on Leaps is the difference between just breathing and really living. Also, surrounding yourself with go-getters who support your dream — rather than enforcing the status quo — is always a step in the right direction. You might also consider signing up for my newsletter, which is all about this very subject. :-)

Traveling is clearly a passion of yours. What advice would you give to people trying to find their passion?

Try lots of experiences! You never know when you might find a new hobby. For example, I would never have pictured myself enjoying creating and selling digital guides — and yet here I am now launching my second one, happier than ever in my career! I gave it a try, and it turned out better than I could’ve imagined. One other trick is to make a bucket list. If you could do anything — barring the risks and obstacles and BUTs — what would you do? Answer honestly; don’t get held down by what’s realistic. Because often, if you create that list with no limits, then look at it in a different light, you’ll discover that some of those big dreams actually are possible to attain. If you make that dream your priority, you can make almost anything happen.

What advice would you give to people wanting to write their own guides?

Go for it! This is such an up-and-coming way to share information, and the audience of people who want to buy and read eguides will only grow from here. Here’s one great way to come up with a topic: Think about what questions people (readers of your blog, if you have one) always ask you. For example, my first guide, How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business, came about because readers often asked me how I managed to launch a business on the side of my day job, and how I landed social media clients. They have a problem, and you can offer the solution.

Thank you, Alexis for sharing your insights. Taking leaps can be scary – but also rewarding. Any leapers out there? It’s time to go for it!