All of the Gang...

All of the Gang...

Friday, January 21, 2011

OH! For the Love of Puff Corn!

This past holiday season I held my first cookie exchange.  I was a little nervous, as it was my first time.  However, it proved to be quite a success and I am now planning on "Mandy's Annual Cookie Exchange" to join our other holiday traditions. 
    One of the goodies that my friend Allison brought, though, has proved to become an addiction of mine.  If I weren't so weak in the sweets department, it wouldn't be an issue.  And this is no ordinary snack.  The fact that the recipe really is 'too easy' makes it even more difficult to ignore.  I also use the word "recipe" loosely because I'm not sure if something that only has, mainly, two ingredients could be considered a recipe.  The funny thing is, I had heard of almond bark.  Heck, I had used it quite a few times.  Almond bark could almost fall into a category similar to that of bacon.  Many times I've heard my husband, Jeff, and several friends (you know who you are, wink) say "Everything is better with bacon", (of course, Jeff says the same thing about cheese too though).  This new "recipe" holds true to that for almond bark.  
    Another great thing about this snack is that it can end the fix of someone who has a sweet tooth, as well as those who prefer a salty snack.  As my friend Allison said, "People either love it, or they hate it."  I definately fall into the "love it" catagory.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention (and I can't make this stuff up) but this was such a hit with many of the "Exchange" participants, that it caused a shortage of Puff Corn at the local Walgreens, which at the time was the only place here in town you could get it.  I'm not kidding, I sadly admit, that I even went so far as to speak with the manager to find out what day of the week the Cheetos guy came to 'replenish' their stock.  I can happily say now though, that I have since noticed the local King Soopers now carries it as well.  That is, until next Christmas.   It was a big hit to those at the exchange and many others have since asked how to make it, so here it is.

Ingredients (a.k.a. "recipe"):
1 4 oz. bag of BUTTER flavored Chester's Puff Corn
1/2 of a package of vanilla almond bark.
Colored Sugar Sprinkles (red & green for Christmas, pink & red for Valentine's Day, you get the idea)

Lay wax paper out on your work surface and dump out and spread the Puff Corn into a single layer.  Melt half of the package of almond bark either in the microwave or on the stove top as directed on the package.  When melted, drizzle the almond bark onto the Puff Corn and mix up with a spoon or spatula.  Sprinkle with colored sugar (don't be chintzy!).  There ya have it!  When it cools just break it up into bite size pieces!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Just Because I Graduated College Doesn't Mean I'm Smart

You could say I did it because I'm blond, or because I have six kids and lost my mind somewhere along the way, or for the real reason, pure, simple stupidity.  One of the jokes between my own mother and myself is the fact that I graduated from college and that, for some reason, I have the hardest time figuring simple things out.  I'm writing this as I am taking a break from my most recent frustration, or what my husband lovingly has come to call "The Happenings of Mandy", that as an end result, has me taking apart our dryer. 

Many mom's (not to exclude myself, of course) have accidentally washed crayons.  Only a few months ago I found myself 'googling' how to remove melted crayon from not only the inside of the drier, but from the clothes as well.  Of course I didn't notice until I had put a second load into the drier, because I am not efficient enough to immediately start folding laundry once its out of the takes me a few...days.   My frustrations with the "Crayon Incident" are easily trumped by my latest "accident". 

If I wanted to play my own version of "the blame game" I could blame my husband, but I will take full responsibility.  I could blame him for the fact that he has always had a 'no table cloth' rule at our house.  I finally convinced him that it was easier for me to clean up the table if we had one, reluctantly he agreed, but with one stipulation.  It had to be a vinyl table cloth.  I winced, but agreed.  I have long hated those things.  It is near impossible to find one that isn't tacky and the kids like to play tug-of-war with them.  But, it was a compromise. 

Looking back, I can now say, without question, dispute or argument...vinyl table clothes are not "machine washable"...and especially "dry-able" for that matter.  From this incident I did realize one interesting, useless fact though....I have a pretty big dryer.  I am a big gal and I can easily fit over half of my body into to remove the inside back panel.  I guess I know what I'll be doing tonight after the kids have gone to sleep.  I won't be sipping a hot toddy or cuddling up to a good book.  I'll be picking plastic off a piece of metal that looks like a giant cheese grater.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wearing Thin...

During grandma's visit over the holidays, she had purchased a couple new pairs of jeans for the boys.  Last night as we were picking out what to wear to school today, I caught Sutton admiring the 'scratch' marks or 'wear' marks on some of the new pairs of jeans.  "These are kinda neat", he said.  

With four boys it has become custom that Sutton, our oldest, usually gets the newer clothes and the younger boys, of course, are blessed with his hand-me-downs.  It's been a while back that I figured out why thrift shops don't usually have many boys jeans, but we have only recently run into this little 'snag'...holes in the knees.

Girls jeans can be quite simple to patch.  You can put pretty little flowers on them and they can become "stylish" or even cuter that what they were before.  This is not necessarily the case with boys.  
As I looked last week at the pile of jeans on my dresser that were otherwise in pretty good shape, and most importantly, still fit them, the light bulb over my head slowly but surely began to flicker.  

What if I put the patches on the inside?  So, with about 10 iron-on denim patches and about eight pairs of jeans I whipped out that thing that maybe gets used once every couple of months (twice if I'm feeling ambitious)...the iron.  I cut the patches to fit the holes (making sure to cut rounded edges on the corners), turned the jeans inside-out and made sure that those obnoxious white strings that now replace where denim had once been were straightened out.  

The pairs that were so worn and no longer had the strings were put into another pile for shorts for next summer.  The great thing about patching the jeans this way is that not only are the patches "invisible" but Sutton can still wear his favorite jeans and they are now also re-enforced with the patch.  It also works great with jeans that are starting to wear thin but haven't quite ripped yet because it serves as a reinforcement for them then as well.  The patches also tend to stay on longer as well, there's not as much to catch on or rub up against.  

I guess this could be seen as a way of being thrifty and trendy at the same time.  It has long been a joke at our house how, when I was a kid, my mom once refused to pay fora pair 'ripped' jeans when there were plenty my closet.  No, it's not the same, but it works...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Free One Year Subscription to Magazine

I belong to a few money-saving groups and by far the best has been   I just signed up for a free one-year subscription to Better Homes and Gardens and it took only a few minutes.  I also belong to and get their daily e-mails that contain so many wonderful ideas and recipes, but thought getting the actual magazine would be nice too.  I am posting the directions to get the free subscription.  It doesn't have to be to BHG, there is a selection of other magazines as well as coupons you can use your 'points' for discounts at restaurants as well.

You can get a free magazine subscription from RecycleBank right now. Here’s how:
::Sign up for an account with RecycleBank, if you don’t have one already.
::Join the eBay Green Team, to get 50 free points.
::Learn about PET plastic bottles to get 30 free points.
::Explore the Future-Friendly Home to get 25 free points.
::Answer a question about water consumption of dishwashers (refresh the page if this one doesn’t come up for you at first) to get 10 free points.
You’ll then have earned 115 points — enough to get a free subscription to Better Homes & Gardens, Everyday Food, Parents, Country Living or Good Housekeeping magazine.
Or, you can also choose to get a $3/1 Kashi product coupon for just 90 points, which should net you a free or almost-free box of Kashi cereal at Walmart or other stores.