Monday, April 29, 2013

Jamaican Jerk Spare Ribs…. For Cheaters

I’ve probably said it before but it bares repeating that Mondays are a busy afternoon and evening for my family. Almost always, dinner is a crock pot concoction of some kind to ease the craziness of running between extra-curricular activities.  This time of year I love to grill, so this gives me a chance to implement one of my favorite tricks with the slow cooker.
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Earlier in the day I took a full slab of spare ribs and rubbed them down with canola oil and seasoning salt. I warmed my gas grill on medium-high heat and placed the whole slab right on the grill. I let the slab sit for about 7 minutes per side or until they had a nice grill char on them.
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Meanwhile use a prepared jerk marinade like this one…
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or make your own, which I do often and when I do, I use this recipe..
take 1/4 Cup of the marinade and 1 Cup of water and mix together in the bottom of a large crock pot..
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Once your ribs are properly seared, place them in the crock pot..
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and smother them with more marinade,
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reserving about a 1/2 Cup of marinade
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Turn the crock pot on low and let simmer away for at least 4 hours.
When you get back and take the lid off, they should look like this…
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Yummy.
So now, you’ve got the slow grilled taste of ribs that we all love, that literally fall off the bone, but still have the ease of the good old crock pot.
So simple.
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Don’t forget to smother that extra sauce over the ribs before chowing down.
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So good.
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I hope you try this technique, you’ll never go back to simply grilling ribs ever again.
Happy Monday.
love,
Val

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Death By Dust Bunny

I decided I am going to have a little “get together” on Saturday. It’s actually a Wildtree Tasting Party with my friend Amanda Hart Shoaf and I can’t wait to eat some good food. But I find myself wondering if anyone else is like me and decides to do a complete home remodel 5 days before guests are expected to come through the door. Okay, not a complete remodel, but I did decide on Monday morning to repaint my dining room and touch up my kitchen. Which led to taking everything out of my kitchen, washing and rearranging all the shelves and redoing all the shelving in the dining room….which led to taking down all the curtains because now they don’t match. Which will probably lead to new rugs, but ain’t nobody got time for that. ( Great, now I want some barbeque.)

The sad part about the whole ordeal is that I have repeatedly made fun of my Momma over the years for the exact same thing. I recall many a Christmas when a day before guests were coming over, Mom would put my Sister and I to work cleaning out our closets and cleaning behind the beds. We’ve laughed looking back on that because how many guests have looked behind the host’s beds or in their closets?! ..and if you do look in my closet or behind my bed, I think you deserve whatever you get. Can anyone say “death by dust bunny”?

I think I’ve taken my Mother’s neurosis to a whole new level here. *sigh* I am my Mother’s daughter.

That being said, I have some great results to share.

Here is my new taupe dining room…

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It’s actually a little more grey that this picture shows.

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How come you never realize how bad you need to repaint…until you repaint?

After I retouched my kitchen, I did a little project..

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I taped off a square and painted it with chalkboard paint.

Then I applied a wall decal that is pretty much the mission statement of my household…

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Cute, huh?

I redecorated my shelf too..

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then I redecorated my buffet cabinet in the dining room.

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I’m going to add some pretty spring flowers to the crystal vase for the party.

Not bad for a days work. Now I need about a 12 hour nap and a bottle of Aleve.

Happy Tuesday.

love,
Val

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Two Things You Need For Summer

Summer’s coming!…. At least it better be.  After crying myself to sleep last night because we actually had snow and sleet yesterday, I got up looking toward the future. A future of sun, gardening, and baseball. It will happen…and when it does, you need these to products to be properly prepared...

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Super City Block by Clinique and Jergens’ Natural Glow

 

First up, Super City Block..

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My Best Friend introduced me to this stuff while we were on vacation in Florida and I fell in love. It’s a broad spectrum, oil free face protector with 40 SPF. It is almost like a foundation primer, it doesn’t get greasy or oily or make you break out. In fact, I forget I even have it on when I wear it by itself, which I do often because it’s tinted to be like foundation. It soaks right in and disappears and I highly recommend this for people like me who hate to wear sunscreen on their face. I am pretty sure I paid around $23.00 for this tube at Sephora, but of course it can be found wherever Clinique products are sold.

 

Second, Natural Glow..

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I was very intrigued by this because I have used the original Natural Glow and this new formula says that it has no odor. I know I am not alone when I say that the odor of sunless tanner is less than pleasant, so I was very curious to see if this lives up to the hype.

It does.

I slathered it on before I went to work and sure enough, I never smelled any sunless tanner all day. I even had a co-worker smell my arm and tell me if she could tell if I had sunless tanner on. After a very couple of awkward moments, she agreed that it was undetectable. Not only did it give me a gradual tan the more I used it, but it also left my skin very soft. It wasn’t greasy and kept my skin moisturized all day. I am pretty sure I paid $8 and change at Target. It was worth every penny.

So, I hope you go and get some of these great products. They are well worth it and a must have for Summer fun. Also, don’t make your co-workers smell any random body parts..your relationship may never be the same.

Happy Saturday.

love,

Val

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rum Chata Ice Cream

I had a hankering for some homemade ice cream. Really it’s homemade custard, but let’s not get too technical here. So I set out all the ingredients to start making my creamy concoction when I spied something on the counter that made me think for a second.

I think by now we all know what that something is. That’s right, I looked over at the Rum Chata, then I looked back at all the ingredients, I looked back at the Rum Chata.. and then I looked back at all the ingredients. All I can tell you is that the angels were singing when I tasted this awesome creation..

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Oh my it’s good. I didn’t think anything would trump the Rum Chata Truffles, but I was wrong. Dead wrong. …and I happily admit it.

 

So, here is the recipe for creamy, glorious, goodness..

First, in a medium sauce pan, add 2 Cups of cream and 1 Cup of whole milk, 3 oz. of Rum Chata..

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and the seeds and pod of one vanilla bean.

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You get the seeds out of the pod by slicing the bean and then scraping the bean with the knife.

Next, add in 1/8 tsp. of Cinnamon

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and bring all the ingredients to a low simmer.

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Let them simmer for about 10 minutes.

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In the meantime blend together 1 Cup of sugar..

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with 3 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks.

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Beat until it is light yellow and very well combined.

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Remove the Vanilla bean.

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Next, temper the egg mixture by ladling a small amount of the cream mixture into the egg mixture while blending..

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Once that is well combined, add the egg mixture back to the cream mixture and bring back to a low simmer.

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Once the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon..

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you can place the whole thing into the fridge for about 5 hours or in the freezer for 2 hours until the mixture is well chilled. Then you can poor it into your favorite ice cream maker and let it spin.

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Once it is set according to the manufacturers directions, then place the very soft ice cream into a freezer safe container and cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and place in the freezer for about 4 more hours depending on how soft or hard you like your ice cream.

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And then, when all is said and done, you have something like this..

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You can even add a little chocolate syrup if you feel really naughty.

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This is super rich and creamy so a little goes a long way. It’s great for a special occasion, a girls night out, or…a Tuesday.

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Whatever works.

Enjoy.

Happy Tuesday.

love,

Val

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Birds Can Be So Self Righteous

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I’ve had a horrible ADD week.

I haven’t gotten any projects completed because I’ve had a horrible time concentrating. I’d blame it on lack of carbs, since I am limiting them in an effort to fit into my pants after my vacation, but somehow I don’t think it works that way. Today I feel a bit of a cold coming on so I said to myself “screw-it” and started downing carbs like a starved, rabid animal and yet I still found myself standing in the middle of my kitchen,when I should have been cleaning my bathroom, watching Curtis Stone on Rachael Ray and wondering why I didn’t marry a chef…that looks like Curtis Stone…..and talks like Curtis Stone…..that big Australian hunk…..what was I saying again? Oh yeah, it took me all day to get my bathroom clean and I’m not exactly sure why. (note to self: tell best friend that she needs to marry an Australian Chef a.s.a.p..)

Some exciting things are happening around here. The seeds that I planted have popped and are officially seedlings now. The zucchini, basil, and tomatoes are flourishing in the window and if I can keep my boys from digging around and looking for treasure, they have a fair chance of making it to the garden by Mother’s Day.

We also are having a baby.

Not me…the Turtle Dove that made a nest just outside the back door in the planter on the side of the house ….and it laid an egg.

The boys are more excited about this than if I was actually cooking them a sibling. Every 20 minutes someone is opening the back door and checking on the poor bird and the egg. The bird looks at us like, “Can’t a bird get some privacy?” At which point I think to myself, You’ll get some privacy the day I can go to the bathroom and/or bathe without someone coming in to tell me about how they learned to belch the alphabet.

…and who knew birds can be so self righteous?

I’ve decided I am officially blaming my lack of concentration on the weather. It’s been great the last few days which has me daydreaming about how I will arrange my new ceramic pots I bought and planning what flowers will be planted and where. I might even go a little crazy and arrange my patio furniture a little different this Summer…I know, I shouldn’t get too out of control but I love living on the edge.

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(this picture has nothing to do with anything I have been talking about, I just find it hilarious.)

 

I’ve got to get my act together.

I’m at the salon the next couple days and I’ve got to give my clients my complete concentration.

Color, Cuts and Hairstylist Therapy wait for no man.

…and if all else fails, I’ll just start talking about Curtis Stone.

Happy Wednesday.

love,

Val

Monday, April 8, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

We have a drawer full of Reese’s Cups thanks to Easter. They talk to me all day long, begging me to come eat them. So now, I am craving peanut butter and chocolate and desperately trying not to single handedly wipe out my kiddo’s candy stash. It’s torture. So I have decided to  give in to my craving by making these…
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Yes, it’s as good as it looks.
Start by baking your favorite brownie mix according to the directions and let cool completely.
In the meantime, take one 8 ounce brick of cream cheese (room temperature), 1 Cup of peanut butter, 1 Cup of powdered sugar, and one container of Cool Whip (thawed) and beat together until creamy.
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Pop this mixture into the fridge for a few minutes. Next, unwrap about 10 miniature peanut butter cups and chop roughly.
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For the picture, I did things a little fancy. For real life you can go a little more rustic. Smear the peanut butter mixture over the top of the brownies and sprinkle the chopped peanut butter cups all over the top. Refrigerate for a few minutes and then cut into squares and serve.
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It’s delicious, it’s pretty and it may get you the Mother of the Year award. …because you didn’t wipe out your kids candy collection and scar them for life.
Happy Monday.
love,
Val

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Get Your Book On

Sunday, April 7, 2013
Get Your Book On
by Sarah Nixon

In my last blog, I suggested a book written from the perspective of a dog. In unintentionally keeping with the theme of unusual narrators, this time I would like to suggest Room by Emma Donoghue. The guiding voice in Room is Jack, a 5 year old boy who is being unknowingly held captive in a small room. Jack was born and raised in this room and knows nothing of the outside world and what he is missing but his mother longs for freedom for her and her son and risks everything to get it.
Jack’s sweet, innocent voice is refreshing and heart breaking and his mother’s strength and determination to do the best she can with what she has is what mothers around the world try to do every day. I loved this book and I’m pretty sure you will agree but as always, I would love your feedback and reviews.
Back in my Community College days, I can remember reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five in a Lit class. I liked his writing style but didn’t delve any deeper as I was much too busy chasing guys and keggers to do any recreational reading. Well, recently I came across his (very) short story 2 B R 0 2 B (pronounced to be or not to be) and downloaded it to my Kindle for free from Amazon.com. It takes about 15 minutes to read from start to finish but I promise it will be a darn good 15 minutes. If you haven’t read any Vonnegut and aren’t sure if you will like him, I would suggest checking it out as it gives a nice taste of what to expect from the rest of his work.
I decided to check out another one of his most popular books, Cat’s Cradle, and thought I would pass it on to you as well. I haven’t read a lot of apocalyptic, end of days type novels because I am a nice mixture of big ole chicken and obsessive worrier and I don’t have enough time to design a truly worthwhile doomsday bunker. That being said, Vonnegut’s use of satire kept me from lying awake at night worrying about how much fresh water I would really need on hand when the s@*t hits the fan.
 
Sarah Nixon is a full time Social Worker and Mother and part time Blogger (thanks to her friend). She lives in Illinois with her Son, a neurotic cat, and her Boston Terrier, Phoebe.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The First Prom: Up-do and Make-up

I had a great time at work today. The reason is that it’s Prom season here in Illinois and today, an area school kicked off the first Prom of the Spring. Today, I had the pleasure of doing make-up and a formal hairstyle on a gorgeous young girl.
This is Ashley…
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Isn’t she beautiful? I had so much fun making those blue eyes pop! She also has enough hair for three people and it is a very pretty color. We decided on a pony-tail style to show off the back of her dress…
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This is an illusion. Her hair looks very care-free and easy, but believe me -  getting all that hair up and willing to stay there all night was a bit of a challenge. I ended up doing a partial french twist up the back and letting the curls cascade over the top. Then loosely pinning back the rest of her hair to give that “swept-up” look.
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I can’t wait to see a picture of her in her dress to get the whole effect!
Thanks to Ashley, for not only letting me do her hair, but also letting me take pictures of her beautiful hair and make-up.
Happy Saturday.
love,
Val

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Door Decoration: DIY

My kids hate these boots.

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I thought I was being smart one time by buying them to try and save their tennis shoes from mud puddles. I was wrong.

The reason they hate them is because when you have short, little legs, these boots are extremely hard to walk in. The little guys fall down a lot when they wear these puppies and that leads to record band aid purchases. Needless to say, when I was cleaning out their closet, I threw them into the donate pile..maybe someone would like to try their luck at wearing them.

Then I had an idea.

(I think we all know by now..that phrase can lead to trouble.)

I decided to do something unique with these boots…I think the correct term all the cool kids use is “up-cycle”. So I started “up-cycling”.

(I think we all know by now…I can turn any word into a verb..it’s a gift.)

So I took to the craft dungeon and started up the good old Cricut machine. I pulled the vinyl out and started making a few stickers that I thought would look cute. Once that was done, I grabbed an old flower arrangement that I had made a few years ago and no longer put out for display and away I went.

First, I found a cup hook and screwed it into the heel of one of the boots.

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I then filled the feet of the boots with pea gravel.

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Then I stuck my stickers.  I didn’t take a picture of that…sorry, but I couldn’t stick stickers and take pictures at the same time.

  I then violently ripped apart my old flower arrangement and re-arranged my flowers into the boots. I then skipped to the front door and hung up my creation…

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Viola! My Boot Door Flower Hanger…My Door Boot Flower Hanger…My Flower Boot Door Hanger.  Well, you get the picture.  One more thing… I also drilled holes into the bottom of the boots so I can actually use them outside and plant flowers in them when it warms up. I can’t wait for that!

As you can see, I used a bit of my favorite scripture for Spring.

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If you would like to read the whole thing, it’s Luke 8:1-15, go ahead, I’ll wait.

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I hope this has inspired you to use your kid’s shoes for door decorations.

Just kidding, but maybe you can look around and think of something unconventional and fun for a bit of creative Spring d├ęcor ideas. Let me know if you have any..I would love, love, love to hear about it!

Happy Wednesday.

Love,

Val