Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cherry Pie Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies


One of my favorite parts of the holiday season was always the vast assortment of cookies available. Monster oatmeal and chocolate chip were the everyday cookies, but the really fancy and exotic treats only were brought out of the family recipe collection for the holidays.

There were a few years I remember my Mom went wild in the kitchen and we had so many exciting cookies and caramel corn treats. Now I try to pace myself and am always looking for a great cookie recipe to use for either a holiday cookie exchange, a homemade gift or that freezes well till needed. These Cherry Pie Shortbread Thumbprints fit into all of those categories, though I am most excited about freezing a bunch to make closer to Christmas.


These are super easy to make, take just a few ingredients, but are a truly "Wow" cookie. Flaky and buttery with just a hint of cherry pie.

My husband is very vocal about not liking Cherry pie. That did not stop him from inhaling his fair share of these tender little cookies. He claimed they were the perfect ratio of filling (about one cherry each) to buttery cookie "crust".


Now, don't be alarmed if the cookie dough seems a little "craggy" or dry. Just press it into a ball, press in a little indent and then smooth out the edges the best you can. I used a small cookie scoop to keep my balls as uniform as possible.

If needed, a couple drops of water can help to hold the dough together. But trust me, dry is just fine.


Now, if you happen to have a little homemade cherry pie filling on hand, I would use that. Sadly, I never had a chance to can or freeze pie cherries this year. Let's say it is at the top of my list for next year.

But, if you happen to be all out of homemade, go grab a can of pie filling. It works just fine!


My little thumbprints held one cherry and a little filling. Again, my husband swore this was perfection.


Bake these little beauties for about 15 minutes, then let them cool and set up for another 15 minutes. Then they can be iced and are ready to enjoy.

And if you want to stock up on cookies for the holidays, just roll and indent the cookies, then freeze. When ready thaw and bake as usual.


Cherry Pie Shortbread Thumbprints

You Will Need:

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 4 Tbsp. powdered sugar + more if needed
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the vanilla bean paste and salt. Slowly add in the flour, making sure to scrape down the sides. Dough may seem dry, but will hold together when pressed firmly.

Use a small cookie scoop to form balls. Indent the top to hold filling. Spoon a little into each cookie well. 

Bake for 15 minutes. The cookie edges should be starting to turn light brown. Remove from the oven and let them set for another 15 minutes. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk. It should be thick. Add additional sugar as necessary. Put into a zip-top bag and cut the corner to pipe over the cookies. Allow the sugar to set up for another few minutes before serving.

Enjoy! 


Andrea
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Farm Update - Finally a Wet Fall


Seems like forever since we have had a wet Oregon Fall. It used to be something people joked about... but would grin and bear. My freshman year of college it rained for so many days straight students from out of state dropped out or transferred at an alarming rate.

Our kitten Lou-Lou has had a hard time adjusting to the wet weather. She darts in and out of the door, shaking her paws at the standing puddles getting in her way.

Oregon's wet weather may be an acquired taste.


But the past few years have been dry. No big Spring rains, no long Fall rainy weather stretches. Just dry. So while I hate the muddy tracks now appearing in my entryway, the never ending vacuuming and sweeping my floors require, it is nice to be "normal" again.

Finally those rain coats and boots are being put to good use. Yes, I buy them every year like clockwork, but the past few years they have barely been worn.


So the farm is one dirty, muddy place right now. Everyone keeps asking if things have slowed down much. Despite U-pick being done, visible farm work seemingly slow, there is still much that needs to be done!

My husband claims that the last corn of the season is some of the sweetest, and I have to agree. It has developed slowly and built up a sweet surprise for anyone still in the mood for fresh corn.

Orchards still need tending, carrots are being harvested, ground as well as machinery must be prepared for Spring. There are still many types of squash going strong in the field, and the weeds never stop their constant attempt to choke out the blueberries, strawberries and other annual crops.


Getting out for our daily walks has held less appeal to me, but I think it is time to break out the rain gear and suck it up. My youngest doesn't mind being bundled up in the stroller, and we both need the fresh air between downpours.


The older kids are already starting to get a little stir-crazy, AND it isn't even Winter yet!

So the farm keeps on going, and as always I am dreaming of the first strawberries of the year. No amount of wishing will bring them on any faster, but at least I can find comfort in knowing that they are getting a much needed rain. And finally, it feels like Oregon again.

Has Fall hit your area? What does Fall look like around your home?
Andrea
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

This Halloween Don't Forget the Dogs - Trick Or Treat Em

This #TrickOrTreatEm Big Heart Pet Treat shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions and experiences are mine alone.


This time of year my kids can't stop talking about their favorite treats. You know, from Trick-or-Treating, Halloween parties, the Fall School Carnival, etc. But what about our four-legged family members? I am pretty sure they wouldn't turn down a special dog biscuit or pet treat, right?

Right now it seems like more of a "trick" than treat around our house with a new puppy and kitten being added recently. There is a lot of adjustments to be made and time to be found to make sure everyone feels special.  I have been working hard with our existing pets and the kids to give everyone a little more love and be sure not to leave anyone out. So it is always nice to have a few extra bags of treats on hand for a little extra praise for the older pets, as well as positive reinforcement for our new arrivals.

Take Cooper for example.


We recently welcomed an 8-week old Patterdale Terrier into our home, and my Border Collie, Cooper, has been a pretty good sport about sharing us. One key to accepting the new puppy has involved lots of playtime together as a family and some reassuring treats with praise.

The thought to dress Cooper up for Halloween has never really crossed my mind. He is a big, working farm dog through and through. But now that I have a small terrier, I was excited to have the kids help me find the perfect dog costume for Halloween. 



Of course one big key to dressing a dog, is positive reinforcement...and making it fun.

Since my Dog 4-H days, I have enjoyed keeping treats like MilkBone dog biscuits and Pup-peroni on hand. Right now our puppy, Huck, is learning to do basic commands like come, heel and sit. For him I keep a long piece of Pup-peroni handy, and break off little pieces as needed. The scent really keeps his attention.

Of course wearing a costume is also a new thing for him. I wasn't sure how he was going to react, but he was more than willing to give it a try for a little treat.


Huck has had to warm up to treats. I am not sure they were offered before he came to live with us. Now I think he can sniff them out anywhere. This little terrier has a great nose on him. I just can't put the treats down, or he might sneak a few while I'm not looking. 


With Halloween coming, it was great time to stock back up on our favorite dog treats and select the perfect costume for our new puppy. We found a wide selection at our local Fred Meyers. There was even a display for Trick or Treat Em stocked with some of my favorites.


My favorites for training and treating still remain MilkBone dog biscuits, I like to use the small sized biscuits, and Original Beef Flavor Pup-peroni. Besides being a hit with the dogs, they are also easy for my children to use as rewards.



In order to make Halloween more fun for your your pet, here are my family's 5 tips to keep your pet happy & safe this Halloween.

1. Select a costume your pet can move in. Please be sure your dog's costume doesn't restrict movement or breathing. Since this is Huck's first Halloween we opted for a simple harness style. He can still move his legs and see easily, but he is festive and fun. 

2. Make sure your pet is visible. I went with a bright orange costume and paired it with a glow-in-the-dark leash. Another good option would be to put reflectors on the pet's costume somewhere.

3. Try your costume on beforehand. This was our trial-run with Huck's costume. I didn't want him to freak out wearing it on the big night. Also make sure your pet doesn't have an allergic reaction or becomes overly stressed. If your pet isn't up for a full costume,  bandannas can be just as fun and easily made out of scrap Halloween fabric.

4. Keep pets away from Halloween dangers like candy, glow sticks, candles etc. There are a lot of spooky temptations Halloween night. Keep a close eye on your four-legged friend to make sure they have a safe experience.

5. Be prepared. If you go out Halloween night with your dog, don't forget your leash, ID tags, water and of course, their own safe treats to enjoy. No one wants to be left out of the fun!


One thing kids catch onto fast is how the puppy will listen if they offer a treat. I love how they are all interacting with each other. 



Pets are a big part of our family and I wouldn't have my kids growing up without them. It just makes sense that we would share one of our favorite holidays of the year with our newest addition.

Huck was such a good sport and made an adorable little Jack-O-Lantern! 


To memorialize your own Trick-or-Treat pet memories, head over to http://trickortreatem.com to take their pet personality quiz, create a fun photo and frame to share on social media and grab some tasty treat coupons as well! 

Grab those treats when you are out grabbing last minute Halloween candy.

Since this is our first Halloween with Huck, I was eager to show him off in his costume. What do you think?



Doesn't this sweet face deserve to be treated too?

Will your pet be dressing up for Halloween? How will they celebrate?



Andrea
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Or House is Halloween Dress-Up Crazy!

I love all the holidays, but getting a chance to be someone else, real or fanciful, now that is my kind of holiday!

I know things have been quiet around here, but my time has been taken up with family and their school activities. Right now it has all been around dress-up and decking these kids out for their various parties and events. Am I the only one who does multiple costumes each year? With all the great costume possibilities I am not sure how to choose only one!

This year has given me the chance to create a family costume, have the kids pick out their dream costume and let me help create some special pieces to go with their imaginative ideas. Hopefully all the projects get finished in time. I still have one Tin Man's heart to sew.


This year the annual elementary school carnival has a superhero theme, so of course, costumes are involved. My son has his own personalized cape from Etsy, but since he really loves Captain America, I made him a simple mask and this Captain America shield out of felt.

Superhero masks are very easy to make. I highly suggest creating a pattern with freezer paper, ironing it to felt and then cutting it out. The freezer paper stencil can be used multiple times and will give the masks not only stability while cutting, but will also keep them uniform.


Since I was pretty sure this would be the last year I could convince my family to go in for the whole family costume, I let my daughter also pick out a costume to fit her personality. She is old enough to have a strong costume preference for her upcoming parties. She really admires the elegance and beauty of Audrey Hepburn (Or "Headburn", as my daughter says), so we went for this adorable Breakfast at Tiffany's inspired costume from Chasing Fireflies.

I just couldn't resist!


Our group costumes will be for The Wizard of Oz with Audrey as Dorothy, my oldest as the Tin Man and the baby will be dressed up as the Cowardly Lion. His costume is my favorite! It was another Etsy find. The whole body suit and hood were comparable in price to the costume sites, but the costume is neither itchy nor sheds fuzz. I made the mistake of buying him a store model this Summer and the thing didn't stop shedding.

Weather dependent, I would like to go as Glenda. But, I don't want to spoil all the Halloween day excitement, so this Dorothy costume (from a great Etsy seamstress) is the only sneak peak I will give. I just hope the weather will cooperate and I can set up a photo shoot like last year to show off our group look.


Lastly, my son decided for his class party to go as Sir Owen. This was another Chasing Fireflies find and I love not only the detail, but the personalization that I opted to have done with the cape. From his boot covers to his flowing cape, my son was able to get in character effortlessly.

So why all the costumes? Well, besides needing a little boost to our dress-up box with the kids both having a massive growth spurt this past Summer, I completely understood the trouble they had deciding on a costume. Do you remember the world of possibilities that Halloween opened up to you as a child?

To be a princess waiting to be found by her prince, or a peacock in all his splendor. We don't do scary around here for Halloween, but we do let our imaginations soar and our costume fantasies become reality.

How does your family decide what to be for Halloween?

Andrea
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Get Rewarded for Rocking Low Calorie Drinks with Platinum Points!

This low calorie drinks shop for #PlatinumPoints has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. 


Okay, I am not the only person to say it, but it often goes unsaid. Water, day in and day out, glass after glass can get a little.... boring.


Yeah. 8 glasses of water a day is my goal. Seems like I am always running here or there and forget to drink. So I grab a soda... I grab a coffee that would be more accurately described as sugar and milk with an afterthought of caffeine. But what I really should be drinking is water. I know that and also know all those other tempting drinks give me unwanted calories that I am currently trying to avoid.

Ah, but my sweet tooth calls...

So I am working hard to rock the low calorie drinks and have found a way to even be rewarded for my sweet changes. With a little help from Crystal Light and some sweet motivation from #PlatinumPoints and Miranda Lambert, sipping my way to my daily water goal has never tasted so good!



When hitting the beverage aisle at my local Walmart I noticed something different about Crystal Light. Not only was it not in the large powder packs of my past, but the flavors were more my style. I grabbed liquid drops in both Strawberry Lemonade and Strawberry Green Tea. The selection of flavors available is great.

Green tea and strawberry? I think I have found my new daily favorite.


And keep reading to see my favorite Crystal Light mix-ins to kick up the low calorie fun another notch!


These little liquid squeeze packs are perfect for me to take and use throughout my busy day. In fact, since they are so small and don’t need refrigeration, I can slip one into my purse and add a little low calorie flavor to my day as needed.

Whether it is a squeeze in my water bottle, or an addition to my water while eating out, I love being able to control what my water tastes like.





The Crystal Light liquid has transformed my morning water glasses into something delicious.


And as for those sweet rewards? Well, Crystal Light has teamed up with Miranda Lambert to create #PlatinumPoints where you can rock the low calorie water enhancers and your love of Miranda Lambert for some sweet rewards.

Look in the electronics department of your local Walmart for a special in-store display with details, or head over to the Platinum Points Loyalty Program to get started. Get yourself registered and check out the complete list of ways to earn points. 


Welcome to Platinum Points! Earn rewards by purchasing Crystal Light products! At the end of the program, we'll randomly select one winner. All purchases must be made by December 31, 2014, receipts submissions must be submitted by November 15, 2014, and points redemptions must be submitted by January 15, 2015. See Official Rules for details.


Since nothing makes me feel better than to relax with a sweet beverage and listen to some good music, I picked up Miranda Lambert's Platinum CD and mixed up a simple Crystal Light Strawberry Lemonade. 

I rock the Strawberry Lemonade by replacing my usual ice cubes with frozen fruit. They keep my drink cold and are a low calorie treat to eat after my drink is gone.


And if I am not listening to music, my rare moments of downtime (during those rare toddler naps, or while the older kids are at school) I try to browse craft and sewing books to be inspired for my next big project. Right now I am getting ideas for birthday parties and holiday celebrations. I just adore adding a personal touch to my parties.

And I like personalizing my Crystal Light, too! Here are ideas for putting your own spin on your favorite Crystal Light flavors without adding a ton of calories:
  • Frozen Berries
  • Frozen Melon Balls
  • Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Substitute Coconut Water for the Water
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Lemon Slices


So after stocking my purse and pantry with my favorite Crystal Light flavors and getting some new tunes, I already have several hundred points to put towards some fun Melissa Lambert swag. Neat, right?

And I am happy to report that getting my daily water hasn't been a chore. In fact, it has never been sweeter! 

What is your favorite Crystal Light flavor? How would you personalize your glass?

Andrea
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Easy Felt Bat Hair Clips


We are in full Halloween countdown in my house. Costumes have arrived and finishing touches have been made. Somehow I was able to convince my kids to indulge their Mother in one more Halloween night family costume... though both kids chose their own costume for school activities.

I just love Halloween. Not just the costumes and sweet treats, but all the decorations and fun.

So besides costumes my kids each have Halloween outfits, but I still needed a clip or Halloween inspired bow to finish off my daughter's outfit.

Why not just make one?


Yes, I love working with felt because it is inexpensive and fast to work with. Recently though, I got smarter about using and cutting felt. If you don't already use freezer paper for your designs, you should be!

Freezer paper is perfect for drawing (or tracing) images and outlines on. It also is fabulous for stabilizing the wool felt.

Just iron the freezer paper stencil lightly to the felt and cut it out.


 the best part is the stencils can be used over and over. Just apply with heat and the freezer paper easily pulls away from the felt or fabric afterwards.

I stitched the two pieces of felt together with white embroidery floss. and then used my hot glue gun to attach an alligator clip to the back.


Does it get much easier than that?

Now my daughter is ready for Halloween, and I may have to whip up a few more for our friends.




Andrea
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

5-Hour Energy - Yummification Winners Announced!

This post was sponsored by 5-hour ENERGY® with samples, a gift card, information about the "Yummification" video contest , and an additional gift pack provided by the makers of 5-hour ENERGY®. All opinions and experiences are mine alone.


Do you remember when I mixed up my own little Pineapple Coconut Splash in the name of 5-Hour Energy's Yummification contest?

Well, the winners have been announced and I wanted to share all the delicious and creative recipes that caught the eye of the judges!

First Place ($50,000 prize): “Pomelimelade” by Tim Merlau, Los Angeles, CA
This winning submission mixes a Pomegranate 5-hour ENERGY® shot with limeade, and then takes us on a musical journey through all that can be accomplished over several hours (spoiler alert:  it’s a lot). 


You have to check out their clever and unique video. I can see why he won, and I will have to try out this winning combination. I think it will make you want to have a "Pomelimelade" as well. 




And the 2nd and 3rd place winners are:

       Second Place ($30,000 prize): “Ramalamadingdong” by Mark Golembeski, Los Angeles, CA
o   The second place video helps us turn that 2:30 feeling frown upside down by mixing a 5-hour ENERGY® shot with lemonade.  This video has it all: a clown, a puppy, a guy in a tutu, and much more. 
o   “Ramalamadingdong”
§  1 glass Lemonade
§  1 shot of Berry 5-hour ENERGY® 

·         Third Place ($10,000 prize): “Arnold Power” by Zac Sheorn, Lugoff, SC
o   The third place winner reminds us that you don’t have to be good at sports, but mixing a Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY® shot with decaffeinated iced tea helps keep you refreshed while practicing.  And practicing. 
o   “Arnold Power”
§  1 glass Decaf Iced Tea
§  1 shot of Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY® 

Check it all out on the 5-hour Energy site: 
 http://5hourenergy.com/yummification

Now, what do you plan to mix with your 5-hour ENERGY?

Andrea
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