Monday, June 27, 2011

Unique Personalized Gifts…

Check out this custom invitation, announcement website Little Ladybug Designs

They’ve just  launched a new line of customized products for your little ones called “Just Like Me” !! So cute… she’s got stationary, lunchboxes, plates/bowls… SOOO fun. 

Little Ladybug

The best part is, not only can you have your child’s name printed on these products, but you can design the cartoon to match your child’s skin tone, hair color, eye color, hair style, and even put a pacifier in his/her mouth!!

As an adoptive Mom I’m always looking for products that my are reflective of my daughter’s physical characteristics…. something she can relate to, identify with, and see herself in.  I LOVE that I can do that with these.

I ADORE this little lunchbox, and know Madalynn would flip over it… she loves any little thing you can put items in… the BEST part is it says it’s a chalkboard INSIDE… so if you use it as a lunchbox you can leave an encouraging note for you child at school…. I CAN’T even handle it!!!



I think some of these would also make great newborn gifts, and WONDERFUL for families welcoming a child through adoption.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I’ve mentioned before (I think)… this amazing free software from Google called Picasa that you can do simple edits, that can add a bit of pop to your photos, and it’s FREE!! 

Below is a small example of how you can enhance a photo.

So, this is the SOOC (straight out of the camera)… gorgeous day at the lake!  But this picture is a bit flat & gray.


Once you download Picasa it will import the pictures on your computer… so find that folder, and double click on the photo you want to edit…

Pic tut 5

This is the edit screen… see the pane on the left, with some simple edits, and the 3 tabs across the top for “Basic Fixes”, “Tuning” & “Effects”.

Pic Tut

Once open… the first thing I usually do is ‘Auto Contrast’ (highlighted in yellow) which usually greatly improves the flatness & the greyness of a photo.

Pic tut2

Now, the only other thing I’m going to do to this photo is bump the saturation just a bit… this will make the blue bluer & the green greener.  So I click on the effects tab.


Pic tut 3

Then the left pane will change with a slider tab to adjust the saturation, and as you slide it you will see how it affects the photo in the middle pane… so play with it until you get to where you want… careful though don’t make it look  alien… unless you’re going for an artistic look!  I just bumped it ever so slightly.

Pic tut 4


End result…


Once that’s done… click on ‘file’, and ‘save’ to save your changes.  The beauty of this program too is you can ALWAYS open the photo back up, and undo EVERYTHING you did… including the save.

Before.                                                           After.

IMGP3337                        IMGP3337-1

This took me all of 2 minutes to do, just makes the photo pop a bit more.

Sometimes with the saturation I also like to bump it down… below is a photo I did that with my daughter… I think it gives the photo an old-fashioned feel… almost a sepia tone…


Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer World Travel…

Loved this idea over on “Mommy’s Idea Blog” to keep kids busy this summer!!

Favorite Casserole….Yummy

Another inspiration from the Betty Crocker cookbook that I’ve tweaked a bit…  The original recipe is Turkey Tetrazzini but I usually end up using chicken as I rarely have turkey on hand… just the 2 of us a turkey is NOT practical.  This can also be doubled or tripled… it’s always a hit, and rarely is there any left.


Start some water onto boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 350.


While that gets heated up… chop 2 cups of chicken.


  • I’ve found those pre-cooked roasters you can buy at the grocery store is usually just enough chicken for this recipe… so I’ll use that if I’m in a rush to throw this casserole together.
  • I will also buy an uncooked roaster, bake that… use a good portion for this recipe, and then store the rest in the fridge for chicken salad sandwiches, or freeze it for this recipe in the future.
  • You can also poach or roast 2-3 chicken breasts and use those.
  • I also think there is pre-packed cooked chicken you can also buy although I’ve never done this so I don’t know how much chicken it will give you.


Once the water is boiling add the pasta & cook according to package directions.  I prefer to use egg noodles although the original recipe has spaghetti.


I prefer to put chopped broccoli in this but peas would work or any veggie you prefer really.  I buy the frozen & get it par-cooking in the microwave… mostly defrosted & soft they don’t need to be fully cooked as they’ll cook more in the oven.


So… now you’ve got the pasta water boiling, and the veggies cooking…

So, now in a large saucepan (at least 4 qts) combine

2 cups chicken broth (1 can is exactly 2 cups… one of these boxes is 4 cups)



Then add 2 cups 1/2 & 1/2


Then 1/2 cup flour.


Then 1/4 cup butter… I also chop into about 1tbsp pieces so they melt evenly.


Add 1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper


Then it will look like this mashed up mess…




Heat this to boiling over medium-high heat… stirring constantly… once it gets to boiling continue to stir for 1 minute.  It should have a slightly thinner consistency than an alfredo sauce or a gravy.



Add chicken to flour/butter/broth mixture.


Add the egg noodles.


Add the broccoli.


I add chow mein noodles, but almonds would also be good.


Give it all a good stir.


Put into a 2qt casserole. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese… I prefer the sharpest I can find, and fresh grated is better, but pre-bagged will work.  Again, use whatever kind of cheese you prefer.


My feeling too is don’t skimp on the cheese…


Put in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes until hot & bubbly… serve with some nice rolls or bread, and a nice side salad.


Comfort food IS served!!

For these pictures I was making a double batch so if the pictures don’t match the measurements I mention go by the measurement.  Full recipe below.

Terri’s Tetrazzini

7 oz spaghetti or egg noodles

2 cups chicken or turkey broth

2 cups half & half or whole milk

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2-1 cup broccoli, black olives, or peas (or any veggie you may prefer)

1/2 cup chow mein noodles (or almonds)

2 cups cut up cubed chicken or turkey

1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese.

  1. Heat oven to 350.  Cook & drain pasta according to package directions.
  2. Mix broth, half & half, flour, butter, salt & pepper in at least a 4qt sauce pan (closer to 6 if you double the recipe). Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly… once at a boil continue to stir for one minute longer.
  3. Stir in noodles, chicken, chow mein noodles, and veggie.  Spread in ungreased 2 qt casserole. Sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes until hot & bubbly.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fit For A Ballerina…

I was so excited this year when my Mom asked me to make the ‘cake’ for my niece’s dance recital (usually it’s my Mom’s task)… I immediately began scouring the internet for ideas, and found these

I did mine in lavender to match my niece’s costume.  They went together pretty quickly… I got tired of tracing them so I traced about 10 on my cardstock, and then scanned it to my computer, and then printed out 2 more sheets directly on the cardstock (I was making 24).



Then I cut my tulle… the directions said to make them 5x10… the roll I bought at Michael’s was 6in so I just went with that…  I also cut an extra piece of cardstock to 10 inches as a measuring guide to cut.


Unfortunately, at this point I got so engrossed in making them that I stopped taking pictures… they were a bit labor intensive… I also found it easier to tape the lollipop stick on BEFORE doing the tulle on the back, and I used single sided tape for the stick.  One other point is the ribbon I found was lace w/ pearls, and it really didn’t want to stick… I think a standard ribbon would work much easier.  You can also find ribbon usually in the scrapbook section that is sticky on the back side so check around for that.

They were a big hit, and my niece loved them!!


This is the link with more detailed (video included) on making these with tissue paper instead of tulle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Puff Pancake…

I’ve heard of puff pancakes before but have never attempted one… so after seeing on a friends blog she had made one for Father’s Day I was inspired to try one this morning… so after an quick exhaustive search of the internet I found this recipe on the Taste Of Home website for one, and thought I’d give it a try…I was a little concerned that there was no baking powder, or soda listed, and wondered how it would puff but I think the 3 eggs achieve the puff!

First preheat oven to 425

Put 2tbsp butter in an oven proof 10 in skillet (I must confess I have no idea if this skillet is oven proof or not, but it’s still in tact).  Place in pre-heated oven for 2-3 minutes until butter is melted.



In the meantime put 3 eggs in a blender


Add 3/4 cup flour


Add 3/4 cup milk


Add 1tsp nutmeg, and 2 tsp sugar.


Mix until well blended.



Remove skillet from oven… IMPORTANT PSA… remember when going to put back in oven that the handle is HOT!!  I learned this the hard way with another recipe I did one time!!


Pour mixture into skillet.




Place back in oven… WITH an oven mitt!!


Don’t forget the oven mitt!!

Bake for 20 minutes (original recipe says 16-18, but my oven took longer, and I think could have gone as long as 22-24 minutes so keep an eye on it).

When I took out of the oven it immediately deflated a bit.


I sprinkled with powdered sugar…


I also put my oven mitt OVER the handle so I was sure not to pick up the hot handle… I learned this the hard way… did I mention that??


I sprinkled with cinnamon, extra powdered sugar, and maple syrup (the real stuff.. but that’s a matter of personal preference).



My four year old LOVED this… she had 2 servings.  I liked it but felt something was missing… I think made or topped with some roasted/baked or sautéed fruit would add that ‘extra’ something it needs.  I could also seeing this be a base for a dinner type meal… Something sautéed like shrimp, or mushrooms, onions w/ chicken or something.  I may play with it a bit in the future.

For a printable view of the recipe go to the Taste of Home Link & it can be printed there…