Monday, November 30, 2009

Blog on Hold

Just a note to let you know that this blog has been put on hold (as most of you could tell anyway :)...possibly indefinitely. Life is just too busy with 2 little ones right now to work on this blog like I had first intended. Also, our currently slow computer discourages me to post as it takes way too long! My adventures in cooking/recipes, painting, decor, crafts, etc continue even though I'm not posting it. Sorry! Maybe I'll post again one day...who knows at this point. Enjoyed doing it while I could.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Decor Project with Kids

My son, David, supervised my daughter, Alex, and me as we made Fall decor for the table. After collecting acorns and some acorn hats on a walk/stroll, we separated them on a plate. I put hot glue in the acorn hats while Alex pushed the acorns in the glue filled hats. Then we just surrounded a pumpkin spice candle with them and layered two leaf shaped plates for the table centerpiece. We had a good time and Alex loves to pick up the finished acorns and say, "the hats don't come off now." :)

Finished project...This is actually a modified version of last year's autumn decor project.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Painting for David's Room

I painted my first canvas for David's room before his arrival (a bit late in posting). Of course, it is amateur, but I enjoyed this new endeavor. Excuse the flash...every angle I tried to take a picture from flashed like this because of the clear coat I put over the painting.

I painted the letters and glued them on to create a 3D look. And please know that we used some special Amazing Goop glue to prevent any letters from falling off. Thanks Ashley for the checkerboard tip on the edges.

David's room and bedding has a safari theme which is why I went with earth tone colors for the painting: chocolate brown, tan, and green.

One of the main reasons I liked the animals is because I remembered how neat it was when our daughter was so little and could look at the animals on her bumper pad. She had a safari theme with animals and daisies in girly colors. She would smile, coo, and talk to them. We loved watching her interact with them which was a bonus because I did not want animals for her initially, just daisies. As you can see, David's bumper pad has animals for him as well.

My nursing nook.

This is our make shift changing table and dresser. It was a hand me down to Chris' brother in law and then he gave it to Chris when he was in high school. We detached the hutch/book shelf and Chris attached a mirror to it.

This wall hanging is what inspired me to paint the canvas. The background of the painting somewhat matches the lion's mane.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birth Announcements

The last three months of neglect to this website were filled with final baby preparations, having a baby and adjusting to having a newborn and a toddler. I have been experimenting with lots of recipes, but I have not remembered to take pics nor had the energy to post them. However, I spent tons of what little free time I had for about a week making birth announcements. So, I thought I'd share this project on the site and show some of my followers a picture of our sweet new baby. :) For more pics of him, click on "Journey with the Lee Family" on the side bar.

Making the birth announcements seemed appealing to save money. The average price for a nice announcement was around $2.00 plus postage (I could have gotten them cheaper, but we had to use a new photographer because our photographer friend was out of town for an extended period). I did not want to spend that much so I decided to create my own. It sounded simple in my mind, but the task became HUGE! All this to say, I will probably pay for them in the future as my sleep deprived self did not like spending every waking moment on them for several days. Overall, I did like the final result.

To simplify the project, I took the paper to Kinko's to have cut (8.5x11 sheets cut into 3 columns). I had cut/trimmed the wallet size pics myself and it took a while. However, Kinkos set their cutting machine on the wrong setting which butchered my paper! :( Michael's was the only place that carried the paper in Little Rock and I had bought them out. So, I had to drive to North Little Rock to the Michael's to replace the paper. This was a huge inconvenience and seemed like a waste of time. However, Kinkos did all my services for free because of it and even drilled the holes for me which saved me tons of time. They also offered to cut/trim the transparent paper as well because they felt so bad. I was going to tackle that, but their initial mistake ended up saving me money, time and they definitely cut better than me. In the end, I was thankful they messed up. :) They even refunded me for having to buy the paper twice.

I got my ribbon from Hobby Lobby. I purchased 2 sizes of this transparent sparkly white: a medium width and thin width. The medium width looked better, but I ended up using both sizes to complete the announcements. The pictures are wallet sizes of one of David's newborn pic poses.
Originally, I wanted to print directly on the cardstock. However, I loved this thick light blue metallic cardstock which did not accept toner on it (too slick). Our inkjet printer had trouble with the cardstock because it was extra thick. So, I opted to print on an opal transparent type thin scrapbook paper. Using double sided tape was the cleanest way to attach the pic and transparent paper to the cardstock.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (in a Jar)

I found this fun recipe on a website called Life123. I wanted to do something creative for the hostesses that were throwing me a baby shower. Since I love food, chocolate and crafts, homemade cookie mix in a jar sounded fun and yummy as a hostess gift. While assembling the jars, I made a batch of the cookies to taste and to bag to put with the jars for the girls to taste the final product before they bake theirs. So, below is the recipe I found and how to assemble the jars.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I believe in sifting flour before measuring to avoid heaviness.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Assembling Jar:
In a 1-quart, wide-mouth canning jar (mine were not wide-mouth so I made a funnel out of paper to put some ingredients in), layer dark brown sugar, white sugar, cocoa, chopped pecans and chocolate chips. Pack each layer down firmly before you add flour mixture. You will have to pack the flour mixture several times as well for it all to fit. It will all be a snug fit!

Paper funnel...I made 2 - one for white ingredients and the other for dark ingredients

Decorate the jar by tying your choice of ribbon around the lid. I printed out the instructions below on matching cardstock and taped it to the top with each girl's name on top.

Instructions (put with jar for recipient to cook):

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix in a Jar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Empty mix into large bowl.
3. Thoroughly blend mixture with hands. I also used 2 knives to mix in a criss cross cutting motion.
4. Mix in 3/4 cup softened butter or margarine, 1 egg, slightly beaten, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Again I used 2 knives to mix in a criss cross cutting motion as well as a sturdy spatula. The mixture will be very thick and hard to mix.
5. Shape into walnut-size balls and place 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then move to wire racks.
Yields: ~30 cookies

Tip: I cooked mine 12 minutes. In the future, I would cook them 9-10 minutes as I like them chewier. Secondly, the cookies tasted ok, but something seemed missing and I can't put my finger on it. I plan to undercook them next to see if that would fix the "offness." If not, I will look for another cookie in a jar recipe. I should add that several other taste testers thought the cookies were good and just fine as is, but myself along with a friend felt the same about them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chess Squares

If you like gooey desserts, you'll love this! I got this from a small smorgasboard cookbook some college students from Mississippi College put together for a fundraiser back in 2001-2002. This recipe was submitted by Sloane Fortinberry.

Ingredients (bottom layer):
1 box yellow cake mix (I used butter cake mix)
1 stick butter
1 egg

Mix and pat in a greased 9x13 pan.

Ingredients (top layer):
1 box of powdered sugar (3 3/4 c)
1 8oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and pour over cake mixture. Bake for 35 minutes on 350 degrees until golden brown. Cool. Cut into squares.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


A couple of months ago, I saw Michael Chiarello use a lime squeezer on the Food Network. I searched online for one as limes are hard to get all their juice out when needed for a recipe. After researching several sites, I found this awesome contraption that juices limes and lemons. So, I went out to buy it from William Sonoma (WS) immediately. The $20 cost seemed pricey, but has been well worth it as I use it a few times a month at least to juice lemons or limes for various recipes. I give the lime/lemon juicer 5 stars.

Another trip to WS for a food technique class introduced me to the avocado pitter/slicer. Since I was planning to do a homemade quacamole last month, I purchased it. It definitely helps with gutting an avocado, but I think some savvy practice with a large spoon (and knife for slicing) would do just as well or maybe I need to keep practicing with my new gadget. O'well...I give this $15 contraption 3.5 stars mainly because the width of an avocado varies meaning the pitter/slicer is not exact.

Please share in the comment section about any kitchen gadgets (and where to find them) that you find helpful. Thanks!

Below are pics and descriptions of my new gadgets from the WS website.

Two-In-One Citrus Juicer

There’s no need for two separate tools to juice lemons and limes when you have this cleverly designed manual juicer. It features a movable two-sided center plate (one side sized for lemons, the opposite for limes) and a unique pressing action: Squeeze the tool’s handles and the citrus is turned inside out, which extracts every flavorful drop of juice but leaves the rind, pulp and seeds behind. Constructed of nonreactive powder-coated cast aluminum. Dishwasher safe. 8 3/4" long. A Williams-Sonoma exclusive.

Avocado Pitter/Slicer

When it comes to slicing avocados, this is the perfect tool for the task. One end of the handy device deftly pits an avocado, while the opposite end creates perfect uniform slices of the fruit’s tender flesh. The slicer/pitter is constructed of stainless steel and heavy-duty plastic. Dishwasher safe. 9 1/2" long.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spicy Couscous and Vegetables

I got this recipe from This side dish is healthy, quick, and easy to make and the delicious combined flavors gravitate you to a second serving or more. The dish gets cold quick so I would put it together at the last minute to complete your meal. I made a few changes to the recipe that I acknowledged below. Also, the original recipe called for 1 small eggplant, quartered and sliced that I did not include. Even though the title says "spicy," it is not spicy hot, it just has various spices in it. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

- 1 zucchini, quartered and then cut into slices (the original call for 1 small zucchini, halved and cut into slices. i used a regular size zucchini since I was leaving out the eggplant and I cut mine smaller to adapt to my toddler.)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced (original recipe called for 2 small red peppers, large dice)
- Olive oil to drizzle over veggies
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups couscous (I used one 10 oz box of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Couscous.)
- 2 cups chicken stock (I used 2 chicken bouillion cubes. The original recipe called for 2 cups of vegetable stock, but I didn't have any. The chicken bouillion cubes turned out just fine especially since I served this with Italian baked chicken.)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 Tbsp roughly chopped parsley (I used dried)
- 2 Tbsp roughly chopped cilantro
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 lemon juice (original recipe calls for grated lemon zest as well. since my lemon was a bit old and hard, I did not use any zest, just more of the juice)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place cut vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in oven and roast for about 10 minutes. Place uncooked couscous in a heat proof bowl and stir in all the spices and orange juice. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and pour over the couscous making sure it covers the couscous mixture completely. Cover with a plate or plastic wrap and leave for 5 to 10 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed. Stir in herbs, olive oil, lemon juice (and zest if zested). Fluff the couscous with a fork and toss with roasted vegetables. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cake Balls

A friend told me about cake balls recently so I went online to retrieve a recipe and found this one at I included tips I found online along with my own in the recipe below to allow for more details and helps along the way. This recipe is very versatile. You can mix and match cake and icing flavors as well as the chocolate coatings. If you want to go the extra mile, cake balls can be rolled in nuts, sprinkles, coconut, etc. or double dipped in white and dark chocolates. I chose strawberry cake mix for Valentine's Day as I wanted the pink center. These were very pretty (pic doesn't do justice), but I'd like to try my favorite cake/frosting flavors in the future. These were yummy desserts/candy and a hit with others, but know they are very sweet! Cake balls are great for parties, showers, bagged for gifts, etc...

1 package strawberry cake mix (or your choice of flavoring)
1 container prepared vanilla frosting (or your choice of flavoring)
1 11.5 oz package of milk chocolate baking chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 4 oz bar of white chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)

1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended. [I used a 9x13 pan and broke the cake into pieces (after cooling for 30 mins) to get it into my food processor where I blended the frosting with it. The processor was full, but it blended down quickly (pic below). A handmixer should work well, too.]
2. Put this mixture in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 3 hours. (I let them refrigerate for about 6 hrs.)
3. Use a melon baller, small scoop or your hands to form bite size balls of the cake mixture. Place on cookie sheet(s) covered with wax paper. (I used a melon baller to help shape my balls. After doing half of them with this, I realized I still had tons of mix left so I started almost doubling the ball sizes. I made 58 cake balls of various sizes.)
4. Stick the balls in the freezer for an hour (no need to cover).
5. Melt chocolate coating in a glass or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring occassionally until smooth (pic below). If you have an official double boiler, use that.
6. Dip the balls in melted milk chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. (For me, this was the hardest step. The frozen balls tended to hold too much chocolate and not spread evenly without my help of a spoon or brush as the chocolate started to harden quickly. However, if your balls fall off the toothpick into the chocolate, they are not frozen enough. So, I found a small window of time when the balls received the chocolate best. I worked amidst all extremes and coated the balls the best I could with the help of a spoon or brush when needed.
7. Place on wax paper and put in refrigerator to set.
8. Melt white chocolate the same way as milk chocolate.
9. Decorate balls with melted white chocolate. (I used a fork to zig zag designs on the balls. You can be more precise and use a bakers bag and tip.)

More Tips:
* I made 58 cake balls, but did not have enough chocolate to cover about 20 of them. Buy more chocolate or use less. I plan to buy more next time. I had some left over white chocolate from decorating that allowed me to cover some balls.
* If you use the microwave to melt your chocolate, check the chocolate every 15-30 seconds as it will burn very quickly! I recommend the double boiler method for best results.

Cooked strawberry cake and vanilla frosting mixed together in food processor

Cake balls without chocolate coating

Homemade double boiler to melt chocolate. I also melted my white chocolate this way.

Some of the completed cake balls

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I know some faithful readers to this site are wondering what has happened as no updates have surfaced in a while. Due to my family cycling sicknesses for 2 weeks now and still going, I have been on an internet hiatus. I hope to gain the energy soon to cook and post some of the new recipes that I have stacked to try. Thanks for understanding!