6.27.2010

More On S'Mores! Indoor S'mores

We just can't get enough of the fire pit and playing in the backyard after dark. 
Such a small pleasure but it's what childhood memories are made out of.

After one of the mischevious lovelies above
got into my stash of Ghiardelli Chocolate and Caramel squares that were intended for adult s'mores making, we got creative and used these instead:


Combined with the Favorite Chocolate Wafers and a roasted marshmallow this has quickly become the new fave of adults 'round these parts!  I resisted eating this baby until the chocolate was properly melted and let me tell you - it was divine!
After tempting all of you with yummy s'mores combinations, I heard back from some readers and friends that they *sadly* have no place to roast marshmallows around an outdoor fire.  So here you go, my poor darlings, some alternatives for you so you won't miss out on the all-American treat this summer!

S'mores Bars
(PRINT RECIPE HERE)
2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/3 C sugar
1/4 t salt
1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, melted
1 lb. milk chocolate
2 C mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine crumbs, sugar, salt and butter.  Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish; bake 12 minutes or until golden brown and let cool on a rack.  Melt chocolate in microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between.  Pour melted chocolate over crust, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle marshmallows over chocolate; press lightly.  Broil under preheated broiler for about 30 seconds or until the marshmallows are golden.  Allow to cool on countertop for 1 hour; refrigerate until chocolate is set, 30 minutes-1 hour.  Cut into squares. 

Here are some more s'mores inspirations that you can make in your kitchen.

Bakerella's Marshmallow-stuffed graham cracker and chocolate cupcakes

Betty Crocker's Golden Graham Indoor S'mores 
(I remember making these as a kid - the recipe must have been on the cereal box!)

This looks super easy and if I show my kids this photo they'll want it for their birthdays!  You can use Keebler's chocolate covered graham cookies for the center layer and for garnish.  Mmmmmmmmm.

Enjoy!


I'm linking up to Remodelaholic's Sunday Recipe Swap - check it out!



 
I'm also linking up to Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesdays - thank you for hosting this weekly recipe swap, Jennifer!

6.25.2010

Summer Reading: Mom and Kids

Since I have longer have time to be in an actual book club, I started keeping a little book  journal for myself.  I have really enjoyed writing a brief review of books after I read them so that down the road I can recall authors I enjoyed, or recommend a book to a friend.
If you're anything like me you find the opportunity to read a lot more in the summer.  My kids are required (by me) to read at least 30 minutes each day, but I also challenged them to read at least 10 chapter books each to earn a big family outing at the end of the summer.
Did you know that studies show that kids who see their parents reading for pleasure read more themselves and are more likely to be lifelong readers?  (I have nothing to back this up but I know I read that somewhere!)
Ahhhh....poolside reading in the summer sunshine!

While I LOVE to read, time and energy elude me {particularly as we start packing up our house}, so I have also challenged myself to read at least 10 books for a much needed break and some enjoyment.   If you're looking for some inspiration, I'm posting a list of my recommended reads - look for it in the sidebar over there on the top right under my profile picture.  

In addition to my recommended books, I'll post a list of books that have been recommended to me that I hope to read soon.  Please tell me if you have a book to add to this list!

Happy reading all!

6.24.2010

I Need Some Color Therapy!

I got to spend a little time in our soon-to-be home yesterday, and took a gazillion photos that I've dubbed "The Befores".  I'd like to think in a few months time this house will look and feel like our home.  While it has been very nicely updated and is in great shape, we will make lots of cosmetic changes and down the road, some major renovations.  For now I'm trying to decide how to incorporate our belongings, and our taste, into the things that we can't change yet.  For example.....

...this mint green carpeting, which is in perfect condition, graces all the bedrooms. 
It's not in our budget to rip them out right now.
While I actually like this color
(we have a great sofa in a similar hue for our living room),
I'm not a big fan of being tied to any specific color for all the bedrooms. 
What's a girl to do?  Ignore the color on the floor? 
Hannah certainly can't do lime green next to mint green.
I've got my thinking cap on and would love your suggestions on color schemes,
or whether to pretend the carpet isn't there when decorating.

Bloggy decorating divas, please advise!

6.23.2010

Featured at Remodelaholic!



I am very excited to report that Cassity at Remodelaholic
is featuring my chocolate-brown-to-sandy-white bedroom
on her blog today! 
If you haven't visited before, please check out Remodelaholic
for great DIY inspiration - you won't be disappointed.

Thank you Cassity - I'm so flattered!

Have a great day all!

6.22.2010

Musings For A Girl's Room

I am so excited to report that we have found a house to buy, and will be moving at the end of July!
Phew - it's a relief to have an end in sight to the 18 month process of selling a house/buying a house. 

We are excited about our new house, but of course I will need to paint every inch of it because that's my obsession - changing spaces with a can of paint!

My kid's rooms will be first on the agenda, because I want the move to be exciting and fun for them, and that includes a new room.  My 10 year old, Hannah, has been looking at PB Teen catalogs since the minute we told the kids we were moving...she has been dreaming of a more funky space for a long time. 

I understand her desire for a space that isn't so "little girl"...these are her rooms in our last two houses:


If I had my druthers, this is the room I would choose for her.  Soft and sweet whites...it even has an "H" on the mirror!  It's like a breath of fresh air...
French Larkspur eclectic kids
Photo:  Added to Houzz by French Larkspur

However, Hannah has her heart set on a turquoise blue/lime green palette.  We saw a vacation house for rent that had this bedroom that we both loved.  We can agree on the soft blue on the walls, and lots of white accented with the turquoise, lime and a bit of hot pink.
Photo:  source unknown

My Hannah is a crafty girl, so maybe we'll make a space over her desk for supplies
like this gorgeous space:
Kids Art Studio eclectic kids
Added to Houzz by thevintageglitterhouse

She'd love this entire room from PB Teen:
but we're working with a small (read:  teeny tiny) budget,
so I told Hannah she can pick out one inspiration piece for the room
and I'll base the wall color around it. 
I don't want to make the room too themey because we all know
she'll want to change it up in a few years!

One of these pillows would be a great starting point wouldn't they?
I'll infuse the room with a lot of white to balance the color,
and hope the space will reflect Hannah's creative, fun, spunky personality
 as well as be a restful retreat for her.

Now I can't wait to get started and share it with you!

6.21.2010

Happy Day After Father's Day!

I was catching up on my favorite blogs over the weekend and came across a fun idea for cupcakes from Kendra at My Insanity.  Have you ever visited her blog?  It is jammed-packed with great party ideas.  Trust me - you'll need to bookmark this one!  Kendra is so fun, creative and somehow manages to come up with fabulous ideas even though she just added a new bambino to her brood! 

I'm passing on this idea to you a day late, but maybe, just maybe, you can make these for the birthday of a golfer in your family.   Considering our family members love to play golf (myself excluded - way too slow!) this was perfect for Father's Day.....18 holes of golf represented on cupcakes. 
{The 19th hole as seen above was supposed to have a cute little picture of a beer bottle on it but of course I forgot to retrieve this from the printer.  Oops.}

So incredibly easy and kid-friendly!
Make the little flags by sitting your kids down at the kitchen table with toothpicks, gluesticks and some paper scraps.  These are also very handy for identifying food that you make to bring to a party or barbecue so make a bunch of them and keep them with your baking supplies!

Number the flags 1-18 and add a few extra messages for the person(s) of honor.

Make cupcakes (see below for my new fave cupcake site!)
Tint white frosting green, frost each cupcake and then dip into green decorating sugar or sprinkles.
Yes those are Christmas cupcake liners - thanks for noticing!
Use a chocolate chip for the "hole" and place your flags on the cupcakes......and you're done.
How easy is that?

I received this cute cupcake stand as a gift last year, and I have to admit that at first I was thinking it wouldn't get much use, but let me tell you, cupcakes are so easy and fun to make and decorate...and eat!...for kids or adults.  It's no wonder that cupcakes have become all the rage at weddings and fancy parties!  We have been inspired to make them more often now that we have a cute way to present them.
You can find this stand at Crate and Barrel for $29.95; the parts screw together and I keep it stored in the box so it takes up minimal space. (The gift-giver, my lovely cousin Maria, also gave us a party-pack of sprinkles - what a usable and fun gift!)

I was recently introduced to a website dedicated just to cupcakes, cookies and savouries:  Ming Makes Cupcakes.  I'm obsessed with this site!

I MUST make the Chocolate with Mint Marshmallow Frosting soon, or the Chocolate with Ganache and Cream Filling - look at this! - are you drooling?

 
The kids already decided their "Bama" (grandmother)
will love the Lemon with Jam Filling for her birthday in August. 

So sorry to tempt you my dear friends...
this blog is definitely not low-fat!

I hope you enjoy some of these ideas. 
Thanks to Kendra at My Insanity for inspiring me!

6.20.2010

Happy Father's Day!

I got sent home from school one day with a shiner on my eye
Fighting was against the rules and it didn't matter why
When Dad got home I told that story just like I'd rehearsed
Then stood there on those trembling knees and waited for the worst.


And he said, Let me tell you a secret, about a father's love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
He said daddies don't just love their children every now and then
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen.


When I became a father in the spring of '81
There was no doubt that stubborn boy was just like my father's son
And when I thought my patience had been tested to the end
I took my daddy's secret and I passed it on to him.


And I said, Let me tell you a secret, about a father's love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
I said daddies don't just love their children every now and then
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen.


Last night I dreamed I'd died and stood outside those pearly gates
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake
If they know half the stuff I done they'll never let me in
Then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.


And they said, Let me tell you a secret, about a father's love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
You see daddies don't just love their children every now and then
It's a love without end, amen,
it's a love without end, amen.


-George Strait

To the beloved father of my children:
How blessed our children are to call you Dad.
Every day I am thankful that that you are my partner in parenthood,
and that our kids have one parent who
is athletic,
can dance,
has patience,
makes the best chicken parm,
and makes everyone laugh!
You are the best dad!

Happy Father's Day
to the awesome father of my children,
and
to my loving and kind father-in-law,
to the uncles that loved me and my brothers growing up,
to the dads-to-be and all the joy the future holds for you,
and to all the dads out there who are involved in your children's lives,
teach and guide them, provide for them, and love them with kindness.

To my own dad who is our guardian angel,
watching over this family,
we miss you and love you every day. 

Have a great day!

6.19.2010

Cleaning A Copper Fire Pit

My lil' fire pit was an end-of-season score a few years back at none other that Target for somewhere around $50.  It came with a base, a copper basin, a screen to prevent the embers from flying out at smores-makers, a little hook for taking off the hot screen, and a plastic cover. 

Once upon a time I used to be pretty.
Who wants to roast marshmallows around this? 
Not me.
The fire pit lives outside on our patio all winter long and the color of the copper stayed pretty bright for the first couple of years since it was covered.  However, over time the flimsy cover ripped, and the elements and soot finally turned the copper black and filthy looking (not that nice green patina that I love on outdoor copper accents.)  I thought I'd try to polish it up for the summer.

Some copper is lacquered, ensuring that the copper retains it's color for many years and making it easy to clean.  This fire pit wasn't lacquered and required a little elbow grease to freshen it up.  Copper cleaner is available at Home Depot, Lowes and hardware stores, but it is expensive and toxic.

I purchased this cleaner from my grocery store; its the same brand I use to clean my sterling silver jewelry.  It was inexpensive compared to the heavy-duty copper cleaners at the hardware stores ($4.49). 

This cleaner is made for cleaning copper cookware.  I compared this product to an inexpensive and eco-friendly method, lemon and sea salt. 
When used to clean copper, the acid in the lemon acts as a solvent while the salt is a scrubbing agent.  I sliced up a lemon and used both sides, spinkling the lemon with the salt before scrubbing.
I was amazed that the lemon and salt method worked JUST AS WELL as the cream. 
Neither method made the copper basin look brand new,
but my goal was just to clean it up a bit and make it look a little nicer on our patio.
I actually like the weathered patina it has acquired. 

I also cleaned and spraypainted the screen with paint made for high heat
(such as grills and fireplace screens.)
When painting any rusty metal surface, scrub it first with a wire brush, sand it and clean with a damp cloth to remove the particles.  I used a cheap foam brush to get in all the crevices of the metal screen.

It's not a dramatic transformation but trust me,
 it looks a lot better and ready for company!

(A note about wee ones and copper fire pits - the pit gets very hot and can be dangerous for young children especially when standing around it roasting marshmallows, so beware.  :)

So what's the moral of this story?
The lemon and salt method is great for cleaning
grime and soot off your copper fire pit.

I hope this helps someone out there,
and that all of you wonderful readers of Shine Your Light
 have a terrific weekend!
Thanks for visiting me today!