Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Out of the...

I am temporarily putting up my "Out of the Office" or "Out of the State" auto-reply for this week. 
I know, I know - you are totally bummed aren't you?

I went back and forth, but decided for the well being of my sanity, my kids sanity and in order to fully devote myself to a successful release party nearly 400 miles away from my home,
it's in all of our best interests if I put up the "out of office sign".


I will be back and ready for all of you next week and it'll be NOVEMBER! I'll have all of the details for you about our Halloween, our trip to CA, my favorite spots that I hit up for a bite to eat of course, and the best of all, my Cookbook Release party in the big IE (Inland Empire, for everyone not from the IE.).
Until then, I wish you all a spooky fun Halloween and an eventful weekend!


Monday, October 24, 2011

As Promised

As promised, here I am posting pictures and links about yesterday's post. My family and I made a quick flight back home over the weekend, so I was away from all of my pictures and info and such.

Back to Sweet Somethings -- So good! I think I might just grab some on my way out to California this week getting ready for my book release party.

Ok -- whoa whoa whoa - stop everything. Apparently I was on a sugar high, but this delicious bakery is called Something Sweet - not Sweet Somethings - hah! Sorry, I must be loosing it.

Something Sweet is located in Ahwatukee in the Safeway/Trader Joes parking lot off of Chandler blvd.


Here are also a few articles that were printed about her bakery:



Hope you'll stop by sometime.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend Wrap: For my fellow Arizonians

Todays weekend wrap goes out to my fellow Arizonians to highlight a local bakery in our hometown of Ahwatukee. Sweet Somethings recently opened up just down the street from my home and I am in love. I had the wonderful priviledge of meeting the owner Tina and heard her stories of always having the dream of owning a bakery.

I am currently away from my computer with all my photos so Lord willing I promise to post photos and links about this great bakery tomorrow. Until then I hope you all have a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday: My hubby and...

This Thursday I am once again thankful for my wonderful husband. His ability to bite his tongue, roll his eyes and love me through my craziness is something I will never understand.

I now have the house torn a part once again planning for my upcoming release party in California for my cookbook, and in the midst of taking over my son's nursery as a staging area and tearing through boxes in the garage I decided to do yet another Halloween inspired craft! Yes another.

I picked up some really cute tin plates from the Dollar Store. I'm planning to pick up a few more. I also purchased some stencils (which you could make your own if you'd like), some black glossy spray paint and spray adhesive.



Using the spray adhesive, I stuck the stencils to the tin plates, spelling "Boo" and "Eek"



Then the fun with paint began. One huge recommendation I have for you is to wear gloves. Between the glue and the spray paint, my hands where a disaster all afternoon. (If you do not have gloves, a little canola or vegetable oil rubbed on your hands will do the trick to get the glue off).

Let the paint dry and then remove the stencils. You will have some really cute spooky looking plates to display around your house. I think they would make a really cute entry display out front too!



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Woo-Hoo Wednesday: Three Little BABY Pumpkins

I am so excited to be sharing with you my little craft from this week, I even got up early before the kids just to blog about it.  "Woo-Hoo" for Wednesday. (I just had to shout it out!)

My son is now reaching the age where he is beginning to eat fruits and vegetables from a jar. So of course, I've got baby food jars all around the house. I've informed my husband that we MUST keep all of the jars because they make such great crafting starters. He interprets it as: "More Stuff in our already small home".  But my rebuttal is, "You never know when the creative part of my brain needs to be satisfied, thus the reason we need to have them all around."(good argument right?)

Here we go. I'm sure people have created these many times in the past, but I am just in love with them and they were so easy to make. I now have my three little baby jar pumpkins in the front entry way for me to see each day as we enter. I think even if you don't have a kid around to eat the baby food, it's still a really cheap craft to make; baby food is about 60 cents per jar.


Supplies: Three baby food jars, cleaned from paper and glue. One sponge brush. Orange and Green Paint. (You will also need a black sharpie marker).


Color in the tops of the lids with a black Sharpie so you don't have to battle with seeing the words showing through the paint.


Paint the jars orange and lids green using the sponge brush.


Cap jars off with their lids. If you have any green wire around it is the perfect addition to your pumpkins. I used a writing pen and wrapped the wire around giving it an adorable little curly q.


Seriously, aren't these adorable? And so simple to make!

What have you made using baby food jars? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How- To Tuesday: Caramelize Onions

The Today Show is hosting a contest called Meatball Madness, and since my ultimate goal is to someday be on The Today Show, of course I had to enter! I wont be revealing the recipe that I submitted, but I do want to dedicate today's post to caramelizing onions. (so delicious)


How To Caramelize Onions.

I really am not a raw onion type of girl, and I'm thinking quite a few people would agree with me. Now, cooked onions, that's a completely different story. Throwing an onion the barbeque, delish! Baking it with garlic and butter? Come on now, my taste buds are salivating here. And don't even get me started with grilled onions on my grilled cheese from In-N-Out. (I think I should text the hubby to bring some home tonight for dinner, yum) 

But caramelizing onions at home isn't something I started doing until a few months ago. It's quite simple really and the flavors are endless of what you can create.

First off, you'll want to get a frying pan and warm it with medium high heat. Next, add your sliced raw onions and a little bit of olive oil to keep the onions from sticking and burning. The onions will begin to sizzle as they get hot. You will need to push them around with a spatula or tongs making sure each onion is coated in olive oil and has enough time on the pan. Your onions will soon become soft and limp in about 10 or so minutes.


Now's where the fun begins. Start to season your onions with your all time favorites: Garlic, Cayenne, Jelly, Balsamic Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Orange Juice. (of course not all at once.)

Enjoy over your favorite meats or chicken. Or even add them to a grilled cheese on sour dough.

In-n-out, In-n-out, that's what a haaaammmbuurger's all about.... calling my husband right now.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Wrap: Apple Cider Pancakes

I've been on somewhat of a pancake kick lately! Especially for dinner! This week the craving struck again and of course I answered! Usually when I'm making pancakes for dinner, I just whip up a batch from the side of a Bisquick box and I love making the Supreme Melt In Your Mouth ones. I had decided to experiment a little so I added two packets of apple cider mix to the batter and it was delicious. Just a hint of that fall time favorite was the perfect addition to my late night breakfast classic.


What's your favorite thing to mix into pancakes?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Rubber Spatula's


I am always so very thankful for my RUBBER SPATULA'S. These amazing little kitchen utensils I feel are often overlooked at just how important and handy they really are.

Do you realize how much extra batter gets scraped out of a bowl when using a rubber spatula? Or how about the ease of direction it gives as you guide your mixture from one bowl into ... lets say...a cupcake pan? Rubber Spatula!

I am thinking that soon I would like to be a collector of spatula's. There are SO many adorable ones on the market these days....

Adorable Lady Bug spatula from Williams Sonoma

Princess Spatula? Um...Hello...CA--UUUTTEE! Williams Sonoma

Turquoise ones from Bed Bath & Beyond

Plus don't even get me started on all the cute holiday themed spatula's.....

Yes, in my head I am falling more and more in love with the rubber spatula. I think once the kids wake up I might need to pick myself up one from the grocery store! (don't tell the hubs!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Woo-Hoo Wednesday: Cookbook Giveaway

I LOVE give-aways. I love being a part of them, I love hosting them and of course I LOVE WINNING THEM! Don't you? Well I started thinking, with yesterday being the official release date of  my cookbook why not celebrate and have a give-away with my cookbook?  Our First Year: Cost Effective Recipes from the Home of Newlweds.


Here's How to Enter:

In the right hand column of my blog, there is a section where you can subscribe to follow my blog. You can do it either through Networked Blogs, Google-Join This Site, or through my Follow By Email tab. Do one of the three and then leave a comment on my Facebook in the Give-Away Album Section: Click Here. This will get you your entry to win a copy of my book.

And even if you already have a copy - remember - it makes a great gift item, so start entering now so you don't have to buy that next bridal shower, Christmas or wedding gift!

(Be sure to leave a separate comment for each additional entry).

- Join Our First Year on Facebook

- Follow Our First Year and tweet about this give-away.

- Write a review on my website: http://www.a-sugarnspice-life.com/post-a-review.html

-Update your friends on Facebook, letting them know about the give-away. When you do so, use your "status update" as your comment below.

-Write a review about my book on Amazon

That's 6 ENTRIES for everyone!!! Pretty great right? 

Winner's will be chosen by Random.org
Give-Away ends October 18th. So start entering! And tell your friends too!

Remember - leave a comment below for EVERY entry you do.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How- To Tuesday: Peel a potato

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip. That started from this tropic port Aboard this tiny ship...The mate was a mighty sailing man, The skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day, For a three hour tour, a three hour tour....

Oh  I'm sorry...I got a little side tracked....I had received an email a while back about the easiest way to peel a potato and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) from Gilligan's Island demonstrated it. I'm sure many of you received the email as well, so I thought, "Heck, I'm going to try it." (If you want to check out her video, click here )

For me, the month of October starts off Fall, and Fall means: "Big Hearty Home Cooked Meals" Which for my hubby means MASHED POTATOES! And lots of them.

The tip from Dawn Wells is to boil the potato whole and peel aftewards.

The first step is to bring a pot of water to a rapid boil:


Next, prepare your ice bath by filling a bowl with water and then adding a bit of water:


While your water is coming to a boil, you want to wash each of your potatoes and score them across the center:


Once water is boiling, add the potatoes to the pot. (I boiled about 8 potatoes at a time):


Set timer for 15-20 minutes and cover.
Once timer goes off, remove one potato at a time with tongs and submerge in ice bath for about 5 seconds:


Remove from ice bath and using both hands peel back the skin and voila! Peeled (cooked) potato!


I believe I have certainly fallen in love with this method! Personally I do not like peeling potatoes, cutting potatoes, then cooking potatoes and then MAKING mashed potatoes...seems like all too much work for me! But this worked out perfectly.

Some things I learned while doing this:
(1) The rounder/smoother the potato, the easier it was to peel
(2) The more little pits the potato had, the more difficult it was to peel
(3) Only submerge potato in ice bath for 5 seconds...longer does not help
(4) Do not re-submerge the potato in the ice bath, this does not help when peeling.
(5) I would cook the potatoes a bit longer (towards the 20 minutes end) as I cooked them for only 15 minutes, and the bigger potatoes were not fully cooked when I made the mashed potatoes.

All in all, I would definitely do this again!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekend Wrap: Apple Cider

This weekend, my husband and I took the kids to a REAL pumpkin patch....a REAL one -- not a cardboard box at the grocery store....or a tent in a dirt parking lot (not that there is anything wrong with those, we tend to frequent that type of pumpkin "picking" on a yearly basis) but a real pumpkin patch, where we were able to pick the pumpkins right off the vine...It was gorgeous there, but part of my favorite experience  (despite the joy in my daughters eyes) was enjoying a delicious bottle of fresh apple cider...


Nothing beats it! My husband expressed his enjoyment by saying, "It tastes like I am drinking a red apple!"
Thank you Plumper Pumpkin Patch for such a wonderful time!

Last Halloween I made up some delicious homemade apple cider myself, I'm thinking I need to dig out the recipe....when I do I'll be sure to share.

What is your favorite fall time drink?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Hot Glue Guns..

Hot Glue Guns....ya....we've got a love hate relationship! Do you know what I'm talking about? For instance, I'd love to think that I could just hot glue anything, but realistically, it's only great for crafting. I'd also love to think that my skin is resistant to the slow burn and blistering, but realistically, it's most definitely not! Love - Hate.

Today I started working on my daughters Halloween costume and out came the Hot Glue Gun. I am very thankful for this little device as it was helped me create quite a few crafts, costumes and projects. (even a few repairs here and there). It actually has been used quite a bit this week since I've been working on my son's costume too, that required the sticky glue. Part of me really wants to give you a hint about the costumes, but I have several family members reading up on the blog and if you know me, you know that I like to keep everything a surprise! So you will soon find out the adorable outfits that I will dressing them in, but not just yet.
(I was at the craft store and the woman asked what I would be making. My response: "Oh just some costumes that I'm sure my kids will hate me for later!" Hah!)

There have been a few battle wounds between me and the Hot Glue Gun. One in particular happened about a year and a half ago and I still have a major scar on my shin from it. I was preparing my Tea Party Hat for my daughters Half Birthday Party, when the flower I was working with leaped from my hands and smacked itself right dab in the middle of my leg. Or course my initial reaction was, "oh lets just let this sit here while I let it dry so it will easily come of." YEAH RIGHT!!!????? It was more like "AHHH!!! AHHHH!!! AHHH!!!" RIPPPP! Off with the flower (and my skin!) But here's the kicker, when I told both my mom and mother in law about this incident, they both said I should have responded like the first part I mentioned-- letting it cool and then peeling it off gently. Um, seriously? That is not a first reaction response. :)

Searching a bit online I came across some interesting facts about glue. Apparently glue dates back to 4000 BC where archeologists found clay pots repaired by a glue substance made from tree sap! The ancient Greeks even had a recipe for glue which included: egg whites, blood, bones, milk, cheese, vegetables and grains.

I'm not about to make that recipe, so I think I'll stick to the slightly dangerous, yet highly effective hot glue gun!

I found a few cute Halloween crafts online that you can make using a hot glue gun. Check them out at the following sites:

Halloween Pendant

Halloween Banner

Cheesecloth Ghosts

Pumpkin Family

Sorry no pictures today kiddos...I know, the photos are my favorite part so I can only imagine how bummed you are. :)

Happy Crafting! And be safe!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Woo-Hoo Wednesday: Three Little Pumpkins...


In light of the beautiful month of October, I would like to dedicate this months posts to all highlight a little bit of fall. You may be asking yourself, "but why was yesterday's post about measuring flour?" And I have the answer -- because I didn't realize it was October already! Remember the sleep deprivation?  So from here on out we'll be focusing on OCTOBER!!

I absolutely love the month of October. First off, it hosts one of my very favorite holidays, Halloween. But mostly because I get to start transforming the house to feel like fall. I say feel because really, here in Arizona we don't necessarily get the changing of the seasons....we get BLAZING HOT YOU THINK YOUR SKIN IS GOING TO MELT OFF....and then we get the most beautiful weather you can imagine. Which this morning, as I type today's post, I am enjoying the "beautiful" part. Our french doors are open, windows all cracked, letting in the cool breeze of fall.

I wanted to take a minute to talk about Three Little Pumpkins. Our home is actually covered in decorations from floor to ceiling, that i have been collecting since I was little. (I seriously had a shed that I purchased when I was about 16 to store all of my *future* home decorations...I know my dad LOVED that one). Anyways, since I do my best to focus on cost effectiveness; shopping the discount stores, decorating with family heirlooms and always walking to the sale section, I wanted to show you 10 different ways you could arrange a centerpiece using just Three Little Pumpkins and some common pieces you may have around your home. As you will see, I used the same three pumpkins, the same strip of material, and same table for each of the pictures. What's so great about these ideas is realistically, you could change up your decorations all throughout the month (and even into the month of November) for no extra spending. Change it up and your friends will notice it each time they come to your home or even just rearrange for yourself. It's so fun and will keep you smiling all day long with just a few bucks from the grocery store.


Using a green goblet that I have in my cupboard, I flipped it over and placed one pumpkin on the base of the cup. Then positioned the other two against the cup.


Using one of my very favorite glass bowls, I displayed the pumpkins bunched together. If you wanted to spend a few extra bucks, pick up some flowers and position them throughout the display. (That or "shop" your home, I'm sure you have some extra foliage that will make it look like you brought the outside, in)


If you take two glass bowls you can arrange your pumpkins in a number of ways, just have fun with it!


I absolutely love candles, especially right now with the glow of all of my autumn decor. Place a few votive candles along with your pumpkins to make a long centerpiece down a table, over a mantle or in your entry way.


By taking a few votive holders I was able to make a three piece centerpiece that I have fallen in love with! These cracked glass votives are at the top of my favorites list and can be found at pretty much any local craft store.


Pedestals are also some of the favorite pieces that I own. I then paired it with a rice filled vase and voila! Beautiful centerpiece once again.


I'm sure you've all seen hurricanes filled with pumpkins, squash or any other holiday decor. I think this would be so cute paired with little white pumpkins as well. But remember, we're sticking with the Three Little Pumpkins!


Decorating with dried beans, noodles and rice have become a new obsession of mine and I think they compliment the fall decor so nicely. Search your pantry for your favorite noodles and some rice and you'll be adding those little accents that everyone will be talking about.


If you have a small easel, decorating with plates is a great way to spruce up your kitchen table.


And last but not least: Decorating with OATMEAL! I love love love it! I'm thinking these might make it to the Thanksgiving table next month!

I hope I was able to give you a little inspiration for fall. Remember, it's ok to take some decorations down (pictures, figurines, etc) and put them in your closet for a few months. De-clutter and then Redecorate!

Have fun!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How- To Tuesday: Measure Flour

Today's How-To Tuesday was suggested by my husband. I sat here on the couch this morning, informing him that I think I can actually feel the bags under my eyes from nearly 5 months of no sleep (here's where I insert the part about having an amazingly handsome baby boy that when he smiles my heart just melts like a cookie in the oven, but he tends to wake me up about every 2 or less hours each night).

I voiced out-loud "What should I blog about today?" Half just talking to hear myself talk and the other half hoping that either my husband or nearly 2 year old daughter would suggest something to me. My husband sat laughing at this beautiful mess of sleep deprivation that I am in and said, "How about - How to measure flour?"..............You have no idea, but I was actually so shocked by this fantastic suggestion he had! It was perfect! Sure enough, he had a little glow about himself the rest of the morning, being so proud of this great idea!

Thanks babe!


Many people may not know the proper way of measuring flour, which is why they may also have a frustration with baking, as many of their dishes probably don't come out....and this could all be resolved by measuring flour correctly.

With flour, you do not just scoop it into your measuring cup as you would sugar. If you do scoop out the flour with your measuring cup it may result in about 25% more flour than the recipe calls for, which is what makes your baked goods usually too dry or tough.

To properly measure flour, you will need a small spoon that you gradually scoop flour with into your measuring cup. Plan to have your measuring cup either over the flour container or over a separate bowl from where you are mixing your ingredients, for when any flour overflows, it is not falling into your mixing bowl.  Spoon enough flour into the measuring cup so it is overflowing. Next, take the back side of a knife (the flat side) and level off the flour with the measuring cup. This will give you the proper amount of flour that the recipe calls for!

Happy Sleeping --- I mean Baking! hah! I've gotta get me some coffee...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weekend Wrap: Recipe Time!

Here you thought I forgot about you this weekend....Nope! I surely didn't. (I gave this topic the title of "weekend" wrap for a reason! lol --- got me the whole weekend to post about it!)

I was in California this weekend for a dear friend of mine. Her mom passed away and we all gathered together for her funeral this past Friday.

While I was there, the kids and I stayed with my Aunt, who is a phenomenal baker. Phenomenal might even be an understatement. Anyways, any time I'm there we are always talking about recipes, what she has made, and what she plans to make.

This time she made sure to show me one of the recipes she had been saving, knowing that I would absolutely love to make it!

It looked so delicious I immediately wrote it down. It's pretty easy .... so perfect for the blog too!

Savory Party Bread


Doesn't it look delicious???

The recipe comes from Taste of Home and can be found here, but the version we had was slightly different. Here is the recipe that was clipped out of a magazine she had...

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 round loaf sourdough bread  1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, slice
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2-3 tsp poppyseeds

Cut bread diagonally into 1-in. slices to within 1/2 in. of bottom of loaf. Repeat cuts in opposite direction. Arrange cheese slices in cuts. Combine butter, onion and poppyseeds. Drizzle butter mixture over bread.

Wrap loaf in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 8 servings.

EnParty Cheese Bread2 50