Archive for March, 2010

And this, my friends, is why. I am one of those people who dresses up his/her animals in the cutest little outfits. When Aris was a kitten (from the day I got him when he was about 3 weeks old), he would go everywhere with me: the park, the grocery store, for a ride in the car. He would either ride in my purse or, if we were going for a walk, he would walk on a leash. When it was cold, he had little socks to go on his feet, and when it rained he had little booties and a rainjacket. As I said, I got him as a very small kitten, so all this was normal for him; he didn’t know any other way. And very much like a dog, he would get hyper and excited when he would see the leash come out and would sit at the door and wait for me to get ready 🙂 He loved the park and pretty much only got agitated if a very large dog came toward him. Small dogs were fine; I guess because in his eyes, he was as big as they were and could easily win in the cat vs. dog battle. Lol.  A little over a year later, I wound up in housing that wouldn’t allow pets for awhile and had to leave him with my parents. They didn’t really take him for rides in the car, save to the vet, and they didn’t want to use the leash to take him for a walk. So… now Aris associates the car with the vet and he staunchly refuses to walk for me anymore. He has asserted his rights as a cat… to be haughty and stubborn.

Even though he pretty much hates it now, he still lets me dress him up on occasion. And I don’t exercise my “mommy powers” very often, for his sake. Don’t want his little kitty ego to be hurt. But I have to say that it not only makes me smile, but it gives me a chance to play dress up (and to try to get him back in the routine of wearing his little sweater in the cold and being obedient when we’re on a walk). That being said, my cat is still awesome & is the equivalent of my child. Hell, he may be as close as I ever get & I love him as though he were my child. When I am gone for several hours, as soon as I come through the door he meows to get me to pick him up & then proceeds to lick my face until he is satisfied that I have been “cleaned” or made fully aware of his happiness to see me. Not really sure which one it is. He also loves to sit on my shoulder while I watch TV & lay in my lap or beside me on the piano bench while I play or sing. And for a long cat, this is a feat. Lol. My little Aris. Unwilling Model. Lover of dogfood. Chaser of ladybugs. Connosieur of fine music.

                              “I really hate this stupid camera, you know.”

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Irish Soda Bread

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, I tried my hand at coming up with a traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe. Normally, the bread is a slightly sweet tender loaf with raisins and caraway seeds. The friends who were going to help me eat the loaf don’t like raisins & I’m not a huge fan of caraway so I made some substitutions. Keeping it marginally traditional, I took a kids’ tradition of drinking currant juice and translated that into including the fruit in my bread! It turned out really well & I am so excited that I actually measured when I was trying to come up with this one. Normally I skip that step and then kick myself when I can’t exactly duplicate it the next time 🙂 So without further adieu…

Heather’s Irish Soda Bread

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups raisins or currants (works out to one box of Sunmaid Raisins or Currants)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir wet ingredients into dry and fold until all flour has been incorporated (about 30 strokes).

    3. Pour mixture into greased 9″ cake pan or cast iron skillet. It will be the consistency of a thick cookie dough, and will be slightly sticky. Press down with the back of a greased spatula & score an “x” in the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.

    4. Bake at 350 degrees for 65-75 minutes. Remove from oven and turn loaf out onto wire rack to cool. For a traditional rustic look, dust lightly with flour before cutting.

    Yields about 8 large servings or 16 breakfast portions.

    The leftover bread is great as french toast or bread pudding as well! Feel free to make it your own; just remember who turned you onto it! 🙂

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    DIY Fun!!!

    A friend of mine has started a new blog and asked me for some recipes for crafts and projects for her kids and the blog. I ran across some really great recipes from my years of babysitting and taking care of my neices and godchildren & thought I would share them with all of you! You can also find them on Michelle’s blog, Mommy Magic. It’s awesome and she’s amazing and I highly recommend that you check it out!!!

    Victorian Salt Clay (can be used to make beads/small objects)

    2 c. salt
    2/3 c. water + 1/2 c. cold water
    1 c. cornstarch
    Food coloring (optional)

    1. Mix salt & 2/3 c. water in large saucepan.
    2. Stirring constantly, heat over low heat 4 minutes. Do Not Boil (In my craft notes, I wrote this instruction like this: DO NOT BOIL!!! Lol).
    3. Remove from heat and stir in cornstarch and cold water. *You can add the food coloring at this point for a large batch of the same color, or keep reading for my little tricks :)*
    4. If the mixture is not a thick paste (think bread dough consistency), place back over low heat for approx. 1 minute. Again, Do Not Boil.
    5. Remove from pan; place on working surface dusted with cornstarch. Knead as you would dough until pliable & smooth.

    *Heather’s Tip* I like to take small portions of the dough and add a different color to each one. You can then knead them individually and mix them together when making your beads or objects for awesome patterns and textures.

    This dough can take up to 3 days to completely dry at room temp. or you can do a Quick Dry: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Turn oven off & place model on pan in oven. Wait until oven has cooled. Remove and paint if desired.

    Ice Cream in a Bag

    1 Tbs. sugar
    1/2 c. half and half or milk
    1/4 tsp. vanilla
    6 Tbs. rock salt
    ice cubes
    1 pt. & 1 gal. ziptop bags or 1 sm. and 1 lg. metal coffee can

    1. Fill lg. bag or can 1/2 full with ice cubes. Add rock salt.
    2. Place milk, sugar, & vanilla in sm. bag or can. Seal well (if using a can, put duct tape around the lid to prevent leaking).
    3. Place sm. bag or can into large and seal securely (again using duct tape if necessary).
    4. Shake about 5 minutes or play Kick the Can with the kiddos!!

    *Heather’s Tip #1* Try replacing the milk with fruit juice and the vanilla with a fruit extract. I like using pineapple juice and coconut extract. Smells and tastes like summer, even in the throes of winter.

    *Heather’s Tip #2* Invent your own flavors! This is an endlessly customizable recipe and I would encourage you to come up with your own flavors. Or you can try one of my inventions:

    Mocha Chip Freeze: Add up to 1 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder and 1/4 c. mini chocolate chips. This one is great if you replace the vanilla with peppermint extract!

    Salted Caramel Freeze: Add up to 2 tsp. of caramel ice cream topping to the original mixture and shake an extra minute to incorporate. Transfer to your serving dishes (or just straight in the bag if you want it all for yourself!) and top each serving with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. You’d never know this trendy dessert was made in a coffee can!

    (Make sure your little ones are past the “I have to stick everything in my mouth” stage or surpervise them with this activity)

    Mixture 1:
    3/4 c. warm water
    1 c. Elmer’s glue
    Food coloring

    Mixture 2:
    2 tsp. Borax
    1/2 c. warm water

    Mix each mixture in separate bowls. Combine Mixture 1 into 2 & work about three minutes.
    Instant Fun!

    This has been safe for kids with sensitive skin in my experience, however, with Borax you may want to have some extra moisturizing lotion on hand for after clean-up.

    @–v– DIY Solid Perfume –v–@

    1 unscented tealight, broken into small pieces
    8 Tbs. petroleum jelly
    1 tsp. fragrance oil or about 3 drops of essential oil (perfume grade only- available at most co-ops and health food stores)

    Heat petroleum jelly over low heat in double boiler. Stir in tea light until all has been incorporated and melted.
    3. Remove from heat. Allow to sit 1-2 minutes then stir in fragrance.
    4. Pour or spoon into small containers.

    *Heather’s Tip #1* I always save my empty tealights after I have burned them. I wash them with warm soapy water and then reuse them for crafts like this one! Pour your mixture back into the clean tealight, let cool, cover in saran wrap and package in sheer colored fabric to give away as gifts!

    *Heather’s Tip #2* Use a floral fragrance like lavendar, rose or lilac and wrap in pastel colored sheer fabric for Easter basket stuffers… or peppermint oil and green fabric for St. Patrick’s Day…

    This is a great project to let the little ones exercise their creativity. Johnny wants to make licorice-scented tins? Sure, why not? Little Susie wants to make pineapple jelly bean? If you can find the scents, they can smell like anything! (If you can stand it, that is. Lol.)

    ~*~*~*~*Body Glitter *~*~*~*~

    1/2 c. clear aloe vera gel
    1 tsp. glycerin (the liquid kind, not the suppository kind. :P)
    2 tsp. fine glitter
    Metallic or shaped glitter (optional)

    1. Mix gel and glycerin together.
    2. Sprinkle in glitter(s) and blend.
    3. Store in empty baby food containers or other small containers.

    **Make sure the children have no allergies to any of the above ingredients, as with any product that will stay on their skin**

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