Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spotlight Saturday Blog Hop

It's Spotlight Saturday Hosted By

Between the Lines

Welcome to our fun blog hop with a twist!  Every week swing by to link up your blog and one you want to spotlight!  Did you find a new blog you liked this week?  Is there one you visit on a daily basis?  Well, simply link up your Spotlighted blog right under yours.  We will Spotlight our favorite blogs of the week in spots 4, 5, and 6.  

This week is I'm Spotlighting Natalie from A Turtle's Life For Me!
How it Works

1) Link up your own blog.
2)Link up a blog you want to spotlight for the week.(ex. Spotlight: Roslyn's Closet)
3) Follow your three hosts.
4) Grab our button and post it on your sidebar or in a Spotlight Saturday Post.
5) Follow as many blogs from the list as you like and leave a comment so they know you stopped by.
6) Return the favor by following blogs that followed you.
(Be aware that URL's cannot be duplicated so please have a second spotlight choice in mind. If your blog's URL has already been spotlighted, just add one you'd like to spotlight. And don't forget to leave a comment with the blog you spotlighted so they can come and join the blog hopping fun! )

Friday, June 17, 2011

Don't Miss Spotlight Saturday!

Between the Lines

Don't forget tomorrow is Spotlight Saturday!  Hope you all come back in the morning to join us, along with Survey Junkie for our fun little Blog Hop with a twist!!!  Link up your own blog and another that you would love to share with the rest of us!  Linky opens at midnight!

Kidorable Winner!

Congratulations to Ronalee!  You are the winner of the Kidorable Hooded Towel Giveaway!  Ronalee won with comment #85, "I like you on Facebook."  The winner has 48 hours to accept her prize or a new winner will be randomly selected. Thanks to everyone who entered and a HUGE thank you to Kidorable for sponsoring another great giveaway!

Fabulous Food Friday with Basilmomma: Amazing Butterscotch Cake

Welcome to Fabulous Food Friday! While exploring the blogosphere, I realized that there were many great recipes to share. So every Friday this summer, I am going to  feature an awesome blogger with their great recipe! Today’s feature blogger is Heather from Basilmomma.  Heather is a mother boys who enjoys cooking the perfect recipe for her family.  She admits that her food isn't fancy, but it is made to please her and her hungry "panel of judges".  She has some wonderful recipes that you definitely should check out.  One of  my favorite from her site are, Egg and Cheese Croissants. It can be used for breakfast or dinner!   When you get a chance, swing by Heather's yummy blog or Facebook Page.  I’m sure you’ll find a recipe you and your family will love.  


I have always tried to be a  "seize the day" kind of person.   You ask my family what my motto is and they would say "do not put off until tomorrow the things you could do today".  I am a fairly straight forward person.  I like straight lines and sometimes on a wild and crazy day, shades of gray.

Everything I knew about my well planned and organized life came to a screeching halt last year.  In January a small, very small, malignant tumor was found in my left breast.  This was not something I ever saw coming, as if anyone ever really does.  The news was given to me, over the phone, by a very well meaning  doctor.   She had a compassionate yet all-in-a day's-work edge to her that I didn't realize until much later was a coping mechanism.  I just remember that I thought that she could not possibly be talking about me.  I was 33 years old at the time and otherwise healthy. I had just lost a lot of weight, I was working out 6 days a week and eating healthy.   I know she spent some time telling me that it was great that we found it so early, there were many effective treatments and it was really very small.  But I didn't really hear her at all.

I would like to say at this point that I threw myself into researching the best alternatives that were given to me.  I wish fearlessness was my go-to response here.  It wasn't.  I wasn't exactly saying "Cancer, bring it on!".  My mind raced through a montage of all of the dramatic cancer moments that you see in movies like Terms of Endearment and Beaches.  I was a nasty combination of anger, sadness, confusion and regret.

I had a moment of clarity a few days later that I still don't completely understand, I realized that fear and uncertainty would eat me alive if I let it.  I was a mother and a wife and I needed to get my act together for their sakes as well as my own.  I had a choice to live life every day, travel the path that was laid out before me and learn to live around this.  I had to learn to trust and put my life in someone else's hands.  You can't control everything life throws at you and it is hard to hand over the reigns.

I received great treatment options and in January of this year I had what I hope will be my last surgery.  I try not to look back but move forward every day with out fear or anticipation that something bad will happen.  In the last 15 months of this experience I have met so many wonderful women.  Women who made me feel so humbled to be in their presence.  What I had to deal with is a drop in the bucket compared to what some people deal with every day. 

I know that everyone has a story and I hope that mine is that despite all of this I chose to live my life in spite of the disease.  I made the descision to be more choosy on how I spend my time.  What used to seem like a boring day at home with no plans is now a gift to me.  It's sad that it took this wake up call to make me see it.  Life is made up of a million little choices;  I decided to start making some different ones.

There is a quote that I love "The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning."  I felt like I had been given a chance to start anew, to begin again.

I had been keeping a journal for years filled with stories about food, places we have gone, funny stories about my kids and personal notes.  I had decided at the end of the year that i was going to put some of this online and start a blog, of sorts.  I think there is a fellowship that can be formed between people with similar experiences and interests.  Since the blog has been "live" I have really enjoyed the writing and as a form of therapy it has worked wonders.  A whole week can go by and I don't think about the C-word.  I can look at my scars and not cringe.  I think all of the free space in my mind has been filled with recipe formation and funny anecdotes about my busy life as a working mom that likes to cook.

I still do obsess a little about small details.  I do tend to over plan our life, but I am getting better about it.  Sometimes I feel like I want to squeeze it all in, every drop life has to offer.  I don't want to miss a moment of my life.  Every little conversation I overhear my kids having when they are in the backseat, every walk on a warm spring evening with my husband, a laugh or a conversation with a friend.  I am going to eat that piece of cake I have been thinking about all day, maybe just a small slice.  I am going to try new things and keep on writing.  I am going to take the plunge and live fearlessly.  And have cake!

Amazing Butterscotch Cake
5 TB  unsalted butter
1 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C packed light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 C whole milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 C water
Fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8-cup pan or 8x8 glass dish.
Melt the butter in the microwave, and bring 1 1/4 C of water to a boil.
Stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until it is well incorporated.  Add the milk, the melted butter and the vanilla. 
Stir until just combined and transfer to the prepared dish.
Set the baking dish in the oven and then carefully pour the boiling water over the surface of the batter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes top has a crisp, golden surface and the pudding on the bottom is bubbling.

There will be a layer of cake and a layer of hot, rich butterscotch sauce. 
Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream if you want.

This is a snap to make especially with common ingredients most people have on hand! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Veggie Tales Live! Sing Yourself Silly Giveaway

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you have read about the wonderful little guys from Veggie Tales.  We have followed Bob the tomato and Larry the Cucumber as they learned the true meaning of Christmas and Easter and now it is is time to join them and their friends as they sing themselves silly!

About the DVDBob, Larry & the whole crew are taking to the stage with the silliest Silly Song Countdown ever! This high energy song and dance spectacular takes silliness to a whole new level! But sometimes silliness just isn't enough! Archibald Asparagus prefers songs that have lessons, Mr. Lunt only wants to sing about food, and Jimmy and Jerry Gourd are stuck in the 80s! But there's only so much time..will the Veggies learn the importance of sharing so that the show can go on and everyone will be able to sing themselves silly?

My girls and I haven't yet watched this silly looking DVD, but they have watched the above trailer and are ready to go to the store and buy their copy.  If your local store doesn't have Veggie Tales Live! Sing Yourself Silly for sale, you can visit their website to order your own copy.  While you are there, browse around at some of their other great DVD's or fun online games.  Your kids will fall in love instantly with these fun-loving characters.

One lucky reader of Between the Lines is going to win their very own copy of Veggie Tales Live!  To enter simply visit Veggie Tale's Website and leave me a comment telling me which product that your kiddo would love to have! Don't forget to leave you email address so that I can contact you in case you are the winner.

Extras: (Remember each entry must have a separate comment and an email address is needed to contact winner.)
~ Like Veggie Tales on Facebook (5)
~ Follow Between the Lines on Facebook (2)
~Follow Between the Lines (2)
~ Subscribe to my email (2)
~Add me to your Blogroll and leave a link (5)
~Follow me on Twitter (2)
~Tweet this giveaway leaving me your link. (3x a day not back to back) (1 entry each)
~Blog about this giveaway and leave me a link (10)

This giveaway will end on June 30th @10p.m Eastern
*This giveaway is open to  US and Canada only.  Winner will be chosen randomly. An email notification will be sent to the email address provided by the winner. The winner must respond within 48 hours. Failure to do so will result in being disqualified and a new winner will be chosen.  
Disclaimer:  The opinions & thoughts expressed are my own. I received no compensation for my review but was under any obligation to give a positive review. Prizes are mailed out by the distributor and Between the Lines cannot be held accountable for prizes not sent.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Fun!

We are not even one week into our summer break, but that hasn't stopped us from having loads of fun!   We've been riding bikes, playing with goo, swimming in the pool, painting, experimenting, etc...   Here are few photos of our summer fun!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to humanecats!  You are the lucky winner of the Father's Day giveaway!  You won with comment #119, "I follow on twitter as humanecats.."  Humanecats has 48 hours to claim her prize or another winner will be selected with  Thanks to everyone who entered and a HUGE thanks to for hosting another great giveaway.

Summer Learning Series: Rhyme Time with Children, Cakes & Creations: Moments Of Joy

 Every child loves summer. Summer is a time for playing outside, swimming in the pool, and hanging out with your friends. Unfortunately, summer is also a time when kids lose a lot of what they learned during the previous year of school. As an elementary school teacher, it was frustrating to watch my students struggle at the beginning of each year with objectives that they had mastered the previous year. As a parent, I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to my children. This summer, I will be setting aside a little time each day for some fun learning activities for my kids. Clarisse from Children, Cakes & Creations: Moments of Joy feels the same way.  Today she is sharing a great way to practice rhyming and reading with our kiddos.  I know my 5-year old is going to love this.  Don't forget to swing by Clarisse's blog and check out all her fabulous ideas.  With all her ideas, your kids won't have time to get bored this summer!

Rhyme Time

I don't know if most people are aware of just how cheap I am, but I pinch pennies so hard Lincoln screams. We do not mind budgeting for fun stuff, but if we can make or do something for free, I'm all over that! So when I came across this idea, I knew it was PERFECT for us. It not only satisfies my need to be cheap, but it is fun and educational. This is not only something a child can grow into, but it can grow with them!
All you need are:  Paint swatches (courtesy of Lowes - I like theirs because they already have the squares in there!!!), Scissors, and a Permanant Marker. That's it.
I used about 14 of the large ones (with squares) and about 45 - 50 of the smaller ones
Step 1; Next to the squares (to the right of them) you'll want to write a word ending like "an", "ack", "op", etc,
Step 2; Bust out those scissors and cut along the white line separating the colors. I also trimmed the color's name off of the left hand side so that it was more aesthetically pleasing, and I made sure to leave a little bit of room between the square and the edge.
Step 3: On the small color swatches write the letters of the alphabet AND various letter sounds like "ch", "sh", "st", "qu", etc. I then trimmed the color names and numbers off of the color swatches so that we didn't have to look at them.
Step 4: Place the paint swatch with the square over the top of the letter and create a word like "can" change letters and you'll have "pan" or "ran" - see??? It's a great way to teach kids how to rhyme, and it helps them learn their letters and letter sounds!
To see another application of this idea, check out Multi-Colored Math.  This idea is easily adapted to fit your child's particular educational needs.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guest Post: Freezer Meals with A Turtle's Life For Me

 Most of us are on the lookout for a good deal or a way to save money.  I gather many of my ideas from my fellow bloggers.  I recently came across this amazing post from Natalie at A Turtle's Life For Me and my jaw literally dropped.  Natalie's sister is a friend of mine (a very creative and thrifty friend), so I shouldn't have been shocked about this amazing post.  I knew I had to share this with you all, so I asked Natalie to guest post for today.  And thankfully, she agreed.   After reading this, you are definitely going to want swing by her blog to see all her amazing idea, recipes, and fun.  You can also join her on Facebook so you don't miss anything fun!

I've been doing freezer meals for a couple years now, and admit that like most things in my life, I could stand to be a little more consistent with this!  I probably have a "cooking day" about 3 times a year and those meals will tide us over for a couple months.

Have you ever heard the story about the boy who woke up on a gorgeous day and his dad told him he had to go out back and chop firewood.  The boy asked why he had to spend a warm, summer day chopping firewood and the dad said it was so he didn't have to do it on a cold, winter day.

That's how I feel about freezer meals.  It's all about sucking it up and committing to an afternoon of slaving away in the kitchen, because you know it will make life SO much easier for the next couple months.  This way, when you have that warm, summer day when you're running your kids here and there and life seems so chaotic... dinner is already made and you look like supermom for doing it all and still putting a healthy dinner on the table!

First thing I do is look for sales!  When I know I'm running low on meals and I see bags of onions are buy 1 get 1 free... well, that's all the signs I need to get going!

My onions and potatoes were both B1G1.  Woot, woot!!

Before I even get to the meat, I finely chop both bags of onions and 6 green peppers and finely grate a bag of carrots.  Just keep these all in separate bowls and they're all ready to go for whatever recipe you're working on!

Then I wash all the potatoes and pop them in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.

I hit some massive meat sales this week and am thrilled with how little I spent!  Nothing gets this girl excited like a good meat sale! : )

Are you seeing these prices???  $17 worth of sirloin for $6.50!  A $13 pork loin roast for $4!  I split that in half and got 2 meals out of it (which will each have leftovers!)!  So that's $2/meal for a family of 4!  And that 92% fat-free ground beef... oh yeah, I got 8 packs of that!  I also found boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 79 cents/lb., plus chicken breast w/ bone-in for $1/lb.  I seriously cleaned up in the meat aisle. Ask your butcher at your local store what day they mark the meat down.  Mine marks it down on Wed. mornings and there are always deals to be found!

Anyways... while your potatoes are cooking, plop about 2 lbs. of ground beef and a bunch of onions, green peppers and carrots into a cast iron skillet and let it do it's magic.  (side note, I throw grated carrots into A LOT.  The kids don't know they're eating it, it bulks up your meal for little cost and why not??).  Once this is all cooked and cooled, divide into quart size freezer bags.  You'll be so glad to have these on hand!  Pull out to add to spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, nachos for unexpected company... the list is endless!

After that's done, in the same pan, cook up another 2 lbs. of ground beef, 2 cups of salsa, a can of diced jalapeno peppers, 2 packets taco seasoning, 1.5 cups of water, cumin, some brown sugar, garlic, a bunch of diced onions and whatever else you like to add to your taco meat!

Second story, same as the first... cook, cool and divide up between quart size bags.  Great to pull out for tacos, taco salads, topping for a baked potato, nachos for unexpected company! : )

While all the above is cooking, you can get lots of other meals made!  When I'm mixing up a marinade for meat, I mix it right in the gallon ziploc bag.  Don't dirty all those bowls if there's no need for it!

Take it from this clumsy girl, don't leave a bag filled with an oily marinade just sitting on the counter.  What's my method, you ask??  I take the bottom out of my blender (please remove that blade!!) and then just put my freezer bag in and wrap the top of the bag down the sides to hold it in place. Pour in your marinade ingredients and you can mix it right up!

One of my favorite (quick!) ways to get a lot of meals done in a short amount of time, is to make a big batch of one marinade and then use it on different types of meat.  It doesn't seem like you're having the same meal over and over then!

We love a teriyaki marinade!  I use 2 cups of soy sauce, 1.5 cups of sugar (it calls for 2 cups, but I decrease it), 1 cup of Mirin (rice cooking wine), A LOT of fresh garlic, salt & pepper.  Use about 1/2 cup of the marinade for every lb. of meat.  So you mix up this one batch of marinade and BAM... you just got yourself about 8 meals!  I use it on steaks, chicken, pork chops, tuna steaks and shrimp.

During all this, throw a bunch of chicken (I use bone-in chicken for this), in a stock pot with water, a lot of chopped carrots, celery, onions and any spices you like.  I simmer it, covered for about an hour or until the chicken is cooked.  Pull your chicken out, throw away the veggies and let the broth cool.  Once the broth is cool, freeze it for chicken stock for other meals.  Shred your chicken and you end up with a mountain o' goodness.

Split this up between quart size baggies and freeze. Use for chicken salad, tacos, enchiladas, wraps, etc.  I already promised my son we can use one bag for buffalo chicken salads- after it thaws I'll just throw it in a frying pan with a little butter and hot wing sauce for a couple minutes until it's heated through and I will officially be his favorite mommy for the day!  You could also make BBQ chicken salads.  You can never have enough shredded chicken for summer meals!

Once your potatoes are done cooking and cooled enough to handle. Just slice them right down the middle and make some double-stuffed potatoes!  Scoop the insides out into a bowl and add some butter, softened cream cheese, milk, chives and whatever else you like. Sometimes we add crumpled bacon, shredded cheese, ranch dressing... whatever we're in the mood for.  Use a potato masher until it's all mixed in and then spoon the filling into your potato shells. I wrap these individually in plastic wrap and then put in a bag. On serving day you thaw and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Summer freezer cooking is SO much easier than doing it for the colder months!  It's basically just a bunch of marinades and then you grill everything!  If you aren't feeling up to making your own marinades, you can still buy a bulk package of meat, split it up between freezer bags and just add some pre-bottled marinades!  It's still cheaper, your meal is prepared ahead of time and letting the meat marinate as it thaws will make it much more tender and flavorful!

My all-time favorite resource for freezer meal recipes is the book "Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer!".  I've been using it for about 2 years now and every recipe has been a hit!  Last year I bought their 2nd book and we haven't tested as many of those recipes yet, but it's also fantastic! One of my favorite parts of these cookbooks is they do all the conversions for you if you want to triple, x6  or x9 your recipes.  This is fantastic, if you have a favorite recipe and want to triple it for 3 different kinds of meats!

This latest session of cooking took me about 4 hours and I got 46 meals out of it!! This is only about half of what I made today!!

Some of our favorites are:
Tomato Basil Soup
Sesame Chicken
Balsamic Roasted Chicken Thighs
Parmesan Garlic Chicken
Buttermilk Herb Chicken
Pesto Chicken
Cranberry Chicken
Dijon Pork Roast
Bourbon Brown Sugar Pork Chops
Teriyaki anything!

If I have leftover carrots or onions when I'm done, I just freeze them in 1/2 cup increments and pull them out whenever I need them!

I didn't get to it today, but I often will make huge batches of 40 or so waffles and freeze them so the kids can pull them out on a weekday morning!  All ends from the bread loaf get frozen for bread crumbs.  And I live by Chocolate World, so if I have time, I'll stop in and buy their bags of day old cookies cheap and then freeze them for cheesecake crusts or crumb coatings.  I also try to always have some cooked sausage (w/peppers, onions and carrots) frozen that can be pulled out on the weekend for omelets or a quiche.

If I'm making casseroles or meatloaf, I line the pan with plastic wrap and then fill the pan.  Put the whole thing in the freezer and once it's frozen solid, pop the plastic wrapped food out of the pan, put it in a freezer bag and now you still have your pan to use in the meantime.  Just remember, when it's time to use it, take the plastic wrap off while it's still a frozen block and put it back in the pan to thaw!

I also found some other deals that I won't even do anything with until it's serving day!

Most of these things are normally $4.95/pack.  I got them for 50 cents to $1/pack!  What's that you say??? AWESOME!!

Not including these "ready-to-go" meats up above, I prepared 46 meals for us for the summer!  We have leftovers from nearly every meal, so this will actually get us much more than just the 46 meals. Add in these prepared meats above, the nights we're away, cook-outs, etc... and I don't really have to cook until about Sept.!  And trust me, the hubster loves this too!  If he gets home before me, dinner is thawing in the fridge with directions right on the bag. He plops it on the grill, throws the bag away and dinner is served with no mess to clean up afterwards!

I kept track of how much I spent on meat and veggies and just added extra money in for all the staples I used and I'm roughly guessing I spent about $95 on these 46 meals.  That's just over $2 per meal for our family of 4!  I'll take it!

Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them!  (and I'm by no means an expert!! Just learning by trial and error over here!)

Edited to Add:  I did a follow-up post to this one where I tried to answer most of your questions!  Please check out this post and hopefully that helps!  I'm still getting lots and lots of emails asking for all my recipes, and I'm REALLY sorry, but I'm not going to be posting them!  The reason is that they aren't my recipes!  I take them from Don't Panic- Dinner's in the Freezer and I just don't think it would be fair to those authors if I copied their recipes word for word here!  Sorry, but the book is only $8 on Amazon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pink Dandy Sunday Blog Hop

Welcome to the Pink Dandy Blog Hop!

This blog hop will be up for 3 days! From Sunday the 12th-Wednesday the 15th.

I will start a new blog hop every Sunday.

Between the Lines



How does this blog hop work?

1. Make sure to follow Pink Dandy Chatter and Between The Lines so that we can follow you back!!

2. To ensure that Pink Dandy Chatter will follow you back, you need to make sure and leave a comment (below on this post) saying that you are a new follower and also leave a link to your blog.

3. Add your blog name and the URL to one of your favorite posts on the Linky below.

4. Please follow at-least 2 blogs on the list that appeal to you

5. Your blog must be family friendly ONLY. Explicit sites will be removed from the list.