Thursday, August 30, 2012

The photo booth





Caption contest: Go!

Makeshift photobooth for the little man's birthday... A hit! I tell ya... Note to self, iron the cloth before hanging...

Isn't {the photo booth} a fun party idea? Contact me at planandplay1{at}gmail{dot}com to be your photo booth photographer at your next party.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pictures from the weekend

Some random shots from our weekend's backyard BBQ in honor of the little man's birthday...







Tomorrow... Some pictures from the photo booth

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A preview of the weekend

This weekend was all about this boy...


Happy birthday little man!

I'll share some pictures from our weekend tomorrow...

See you then

Friday, August 24, 2012

Menu for the week

Steak fajitas/Rice/Black beans
Minestrone/Salad
Soba noodles with broccoli and green onions in a toasted sesame sauce/Cucumber salad
Vegetable curry/Basmati rice

Breakdown:

Aldi $23
Costco $35
Kroger $30

We are officially Christening our backyard and celebrating a little boy's birthday with a neighborhood get together. There should been fun to go around for the kids and the adults, delicious barbecuing and good old socializing... I'll tell you all about it next week.

What's going on in your neck of the woods? Anything fun?

I hope you have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A look into the kids bedrooms

I love going in the mornings to wake up the kids and finding out what they did in those last few minutes alone before they finally fall asleep...

Making a new dress for Platypus
Making sure the babies are tucked in

Rearranging the toys
Tucking in more babies
Take another peek into the kiddos bedroom here (from 2010... Where has the time go????)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cream tea and scones

Here are the essential components of a cream tea:
(Scones, strawberry jam and cream... Yum!)

Let's recreate it, shall we?

For the scones (recipe from here)

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour.
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup currants (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by either:
  • Pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife
  • Or patting the dough onto a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4-inch thick circlecutting pieces with a biscuit cutter, and pressing remaining scraps back into another piece and cutting until dough has been used up. (Be warned if you use this latter method, the scones that are made from the remaining scraps will be much lumpier and less pretty, but taste fine. As in, I understand why they suggested the first method.)
6. Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

How to serve them:

Split the scones in half, cover with a thick layer of strawberry jam, top with large spoonful of Devonshire cream (heavy whipped cream works too), eat right away with a cup of tea and milk.

Enjoy it friends!

See more pictures from our English tea party here

Monday, August 20, 2012

A birthday celebration

My two kids have birthdays the same month... I have decided that in order to have some sanity in my life we will alternate birthday parties (it helps with the pocket book too!)

Last year we made Miss V a special birthday party. This year all we did was take her and three of her best buds to the movies and then ice cream. Easy peasy.
Girly overload.... I had to have a glass of wine when I got home.... Intense!

Saturday morning was all about an English tea party, just the 4 of us, right in our backyard. Call it a-last-ditch-effort-to-hold-on-to-our-trip-to-England-as- it-seems-like-it-happened-forever-ago. It was really cute. Here are some pictures from it:


A proper afternoon English tea includes a delicious selection of sandwiches (cucumber and egg salad), scones with preserves and cream, buttered shortbread and Victoria cupcakes, all served on a 3 tiered cake stand. Adults enjoyed them with some English tea. Kids with juice.

Tomorrow, I will show you how to make your own Cream Tea, the English way!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Menu for the week

Fettucini with broccoli and pesto/Bruschettas
Chilli con carne
Cous cous with chickpeas
Broccoli and beef/Rice

Breakdown:

Aldi $22
Kroger $40

Let's talk food economics, shall we?

This year's drought (which I am sure you have heard, ad nauseum) will hit our pocketbooks later this year and most likely into the next. The drought that has ripped through this summer’s Midwestern corn crop - The most severe in 25 years according to a USDA forecast -  will soon cause food prices to increase across the board. Also, with less feed corn and what is available sitting at a higher price point, farmers had started slaughtering their cattle. There will be higher food prices and possibly meat shortages in the coming months.

Here are some ideas to lessen the blow:
  • Make a weekly menu, follow a budget. Planning out your trip to the store will help you avoid unnecessary purchases... Sorry, I had to plug that in here.
  • Check the websites of your favorite food stores and find what the best deals are. Make your menu around it.
  • Use coupons whenever possible.
  • Use less processed food.
  • Eat less meat.
  • Try your hands at a Fall garden (lettuces, kale, brussels sprouts, beets are good crops for the Fall) if a garden is not for you, try buying fruits and vegetables that are in season.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Stock up on items when they are on sale, if you eat red meat, buy it now before the price increases... Also, avoid waste whenever possible.
Side note: The use of corn in this country is staggering. I've learned that about 75% of the food on supermarket shelves (processed foods) contains some form of corn. It’s the most widely grown crop in the United States and it has found its way into a lot more products than we realize. To learn more about it, I recommend watching King Corn, a great documentary and eye opener about the corn production in this country... Spoiler alert: It does not paint a good picture...

With that being said... Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oops

Do you remember my latest skirt lenthening?
Well, before I did that one, I was working on another... And I screwed it up... Big time. Want to see?
Picture from the backside. Do you see how uneven it is?... Oopsy...

So I saved it for Miss V. It didn't feel right getting rid of it... After fixing it a little bit, here it is now:
Much better right? This skirt is a combination of two projects: See them here and here.

Needless to say, Miss V loves it!!!...

Just in time to go back to school...

Ready to start a great year!

PS. Miss V t-shirt from here

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surprises from our garden

The fact that we can grow veggies from our little garden never ceases to amaze. Our compost pile has given us two types of squash this year. We even grew potatoes!!! Yes people, potatoes. Now, the potato plant did not come from the compost. Miss V got it by planting an old rooty potato... We never imagined we'd get potatoes...
The husband made a very delicious vegetable soup that included these garden potatoes... Now, how is that for cool! Here is the best part, growing a garden helps the kiddos get a whole new understanding of the food we eat and where it comes from. Isn't that cool?
Soup recipe from this book - The recipes from that book are on rotation at our house as of late... We love it!

To see what we have done with other surprises from our garden, go here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Casabe

I love casabe, so so much. I admit, it has a bit of an acquired taste but when you are raised on it... You can't help but to love it.

What's Casabe you ask? Casabe is a thin flatbread made from bitter cassava (yuca) root. Its origin is said to be pre - Columbian times. In Venezuela many native ethnic groups still make casabe the old fashioned way (read more here) and it remains their main bread-like food.

Thin and crisp cakes of casabe are often broken apart and eaten like crackers. Like bread, casabe can be eaten alone or with other dishes. Thicker casabe usually are eaten slightly moistened (that's the way I remember my grandma eating it, with coffee).

Casabe is now as trendy as ever. It is common to find it in restaurants in Venezuela as an appetizer with garlic and butter... Yummy!

This is the way I like to eat casabe... dunking it in soup!

On our trip to Puerto Rico I found some Casabe in the supermarket... I bought a box of cracker sized casabe... Our kids are devouring them... It makes my heart smile!

Read more about Casabe here

Friday, August 10, 2012

Menu for the week

Cream of butternut squash/Crostini
Grilled fish with tomato relish/Grilled zucchini and onion
Herbed oven roasted chicken breast/Steamed broccoli
Vegetable kebabs marinated in lemon and thyme/Yogurt raita/Warm naan bread

Breakdown:

Aldi $27
Kroger $35

Have I mentioned before that 3 out of the 4 members of our family have birthdays in August? Have I not? Well, it is total insanity...

Birthday number one is coming down this weekend... Two more to go! Requested meal orders have been submitted and a date night is in the works while the kids hang out with their favorite pals... Everybody is happy.

School starts on Monday... Which means this weekend will also include some shopping and some organizing for the week ahead. We'll sprinkle a play date, a neighborhood cookout and more partying at a friend's house to keep things interesting... Never a dull moment around these parts.

Summer, where did you go??? I'm afraid to say it, but, I think I'm going to miss you...

Have a good weekend everybody!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Irish last names

Have you heard the saying:

"There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were".

Well, if you judge it by their last name, count me as one of those people who wishes it was... Those Irish last names sure are cool. The meaning is even cooler... Check them out:

The Sea Warrior:
The Fair One:

The Son of the Loving One:

In the Irish language the word O' means Grandson of:



Just love it!

From our trip to Ireland

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cocktail time

While in Puerto Rico we visited Casa Bacardi. We soon realized is was a bit of a tourist trap but decided to stay anyway - heck, it was free and they even give you a couple of complementary cocktails, good enough for us.


The best part of the tour to me, was the explanations of how some of the signature Bacardi drinks were created and where the names come from. Just so interesting.

Here is how to make their 3 signature drinks:

Daikiri:
3 parts rum
1 part fresh squeeze lime juce
1 part simple syrup

Put ingredients into a shaker. Fill half way with cubed ice and half with crushed ice. Share vigously until chilled. Double strain into a rock glass filled with ice.

Cuba Libre:
2 parts rum
4 parts Coca Cola
2 lime wedges

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Squeeze and drop two wedges of lime into the glass. Pour on rum. Pour chilled Coca Cola. Stir gently and serve.

Mojito: My recipe closely follows theirs - check it out here
 
It's hot out there... I am planning on going outside, hang the hammock and enjoying one of these cocktails...

Check other Bacardi drinks here

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pictures from the weekend

The makings of a great weekend:

Picnic breakfast: Check
A hike on a historical site: Check

Spotting wildlife: Check
Stuffing our faces - Southern style: Check
Getting home and enjoying a drink on a hot afternoon: Check
I hope your weekend was splendid too!