Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summertime is here!

It's summertime, and that means ridiculously hot temps, time spent poolside and lots of entertaining. Well we would be entertaining if the family ever stayed well long enough! It's time for fun in the sun...YEAH! I love summer, it's my favorite time of the year. The heat is nothing a nice cold pool won't fix, and longer days means more time spent hanging out with family and friends. Eric has his 10 year reunion this year, we reconvening with my mom's group and sneaking in a trip to see my parents in Maryland! Throw in the new Harry Potter movie and it's totally my kind of summer coming up.

Alex, in celebration of the heat, just got his first true big boy hair cut, clippers and all. Stay tuned for some photos.

Oh and just for grins, check this out! I now feel like I have seen just about everything.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Kind of Weekend

(Warning: this is a long post since it contains two full recipes)

The holiday weekend has been absolutely wonderful. It was jam-packed full of projects and anyone who knows me knows that is just the way I like it. We did a lot of laying around, unfortunately a lot of cleaning up after sick dogs and a partly potty trained toddler, and best of all I spent a ton of time in the kitchen. Now that may not be every ones idea of a great weekend but when I have the time, there are few places I would rather be. Eric’s recent need to go gluten free has driven me to new creative heights and I have been quite upset when a new experiment went bad. Luckily this weekend was smooth sailing as I tried out a few new recipes that are bound to join our family favorites.

This weekend’s project line up:

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls
Gluten Free Buttermilk Bread
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Barber family recipe Strawberry Icebox Cake
Custom designed vellum wrapped votives
Apple Pie Popscicles

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls
Serves 8 or 9

2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup of milk, room temperature
1 packet yeast (about 1 tablespoon)
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup corn starch (I used tapioca starch successfully)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 - 2 tablespoons sugar

FILLING (*see Ellen's note at end of post)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped nuts - optional

¾ cup powdered or confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk to thicken (I used soymilk)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, combine shortening and sugar. Mix well. Measure warm milk and add yeast to milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve (**see Ellen’s note).

Add milk/yeast to sugar mixture. Add remaining ingredients. Mix very well, being sure to remove all lumps. Dough will be quite soft (***see Ellen’s note).

Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it out so it covers a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square. Sprinkle sugar on the wrap. Lay ball of dough on top of that. Then pull out another sheet of wrap and gently lay over the dough. Pat the dough down into a roughly squarish pancake. Lift the top wrap up and then reposition it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in between the two layers of wrap. Occasionally you'll have to lift and reposition the wrap because it gets "stuck" under the edges. You might have to occasionally flip the whole thing over. Make sure that when you're done you've got ABOUT a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square of dough.

Remove top piece of wrap. Combine filling ingredients. Spread evenly across dough's surface. (Original recipe poster suggested leaving about a 1 1/2" sugar free edge because when you roll the dough all the sugar shifts and fills this in; otherwise all the sugar spills out).Use the bottom piece of wrap to lift the edge of the dough and start to roll it up forming a long cylinder. Start with the sugary edge, which will be the center of your roll and roll toward the sugarless edge. Cut off or trim up the irregular ends of your "log". Then cut into 8 or 9 slices of similar size, about 1 1/2" wide. Place rolls into a greased round glass pie pan.

Bake approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.

Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make glaze. The amount of milk you use will depend on how thick you want the glaze to be. Stir until all lumps are dissolved. Drizzle over warm rolls if desired.

Gluten Free Buttermilk Bread

Liquid Ingredients:
3 Large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Oil
1 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon milk into which 4 tablespoons dry buttermilk has been dissolved.
Heat milk such that liquid mixture will end up at room temperature.

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups Brown rice flour
1/2 cup Potato starch flour
1/2 cup Tapioca flour
3 1/2 teaspoons Xanthan gum
1/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 1/4 teaspoons Active dry yeast

Mix all liquid ingredients together and pour into breadmaker. Mix all dry ingredients, except yeast, together and spoon over top of liquid ingredients in breadmaker. Sprinkle yeast over dry ingredients, and avoid letting it touch the sides of the pan. On the Welbilt ABM3300, the settings are 'Basic', 'Light'. I beleive this corresponds to your basic loaf settings on most machines. After bread is done, do not remove from pan until any 'Stay Warm' cycle is finished and the bread has cooled down.
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Check out Ginger Lemon Girl’s blog for detailed recipe and instructions. These cookies were amazing; definitely not something you could identify as gluten free. I had to hide them away today in a cookie jar to keep from over-indulging.
Barber Family Strawberry Icebox Cake

Sorry the recipe is a closely guarded secret! ☺ But here’s a picture of the yummy goodness.

And probably my favorite project of the weekend…

Custom vellum wrapped votives for a wedding reception at the zoo.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Family Friday

So for this past Christmas one of the toys I wanted Alex to get was his very own camera. I know he's only two, brilliant but only two, but still if he had his own, my much more expensive camera might not look so attractive right...

Well Alex loves his camera, but I think we need to spend some time working on his skills! Still he's definitely having fun shooting at everything in sight.

If you ever wanted to know what the world looks like to a toddler, take a second and a walk in Alex's shoes. You can see in a few where someone stole the camera to take pictures of him and boy was he not happy about that! We also have lots of self portraits going on here before we learned to turn the camera the right way! :) Enjoy!

Thinking Thursdays

At least one day a week should be devoted to deep thoughts right? LOL! It was a crazy day at work, as anyone within shouting, distance would know. :) I am working on a training series for June and to kick off the marketing for it I have been labeling about a bazillion postcards to be mailed out. Well closer to 800 but still 800 postcards with a return address label, a mailing label, a stamp, you get the picture. They're done and I'm extremely happy with them but that kind of work leaves lots of time for thinking.

So this week I've thought a lot about where I am in my life. I have a great husband, who does far more than his fare share of the housework and doesn't even complain when 3 nights out of 5 he comes home to a wife arguing with the pantry for not giving her inspiration. I have a great job that I love to do, and even with the craziness that accompanies it I truly fell blessed to get to work from home and be here for my family. With Eric's travel schedule its so nice for me to be pretty solid.

I also had to go over to our old house today to meet a contractor work on one of the kitchen appliances (yeah extended warranties, I will mock you no more), and it was like going back to high school after college. The house felt small, and nothing was quite the way I remembered it. The kitchen felt tiny, and it truly brought home how much I really love our home that we are in now.

After the chaos of sickness, drunk drivers, and other daily nuttiness today's reflections really helped me focus on the positive, the good, the joy.

I know this is a sappy post, but what's not to love about a happy Momma?

And just for grins, here's a favorite recent picture of mine! We went to a family member's baptism over the weekend and boy did my little guy have a blast showing off for anyone and everyone! He sang, he danced, he didn't crash until the car ride home!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mindless Banter Monday

UGG still sick with allergies. Yuck Yuck Yuck. I have nothing for you except for last week's contest winner!
To find the winner I count how many entries we have, then use to randomly select a number and...congratulations MEREDITH!

You will love these muslin wraps and I hope they keep your little girl all snug and warm!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Introducing Foodie Fridays

I love to cook... well most of the time! Someone recently asked me when I find the time between a two year old, working full time, my multitude of hobbies and the daily chaos that comes from raising a small family. It made me think about it because believe me there are days when cooking is the last thing I want to do, but on those days when I have time, when I catch sight of a new recipe that inspires me, on those days the kitchen becomes a haven instead of a prison.

Recently I came across a blog called the Big Red Kitchen and boy does this lady have some fabulous ideas. I tried out her Cream Cheese Sheet Cake for Mother’s Day (recipe below) and plan to find a reason to make her cinnamon rolls. I didn’t tweak either of the recipes to make them gluten free since I’m still getting my feet wet in that arena but the cake was awesome without any changes needed.

I plan to start posting my favorite recipes and those that I get asked for often under the tag Foodie Fridays, so stick around and see what I cook up! ☺

Big Red Kitchen's Cream Cheese Sheet Cake...mmmmmmm
1 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, cheese, and sugar for 3 minutes on high speed. Add vanilla then one egg at a time mixing well after each egg. Add flour and mix well. Pour batter into a greased 15x10x1 inch pan. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Frost immediately with this glaze:

Chocolate Glaze:
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a medium sauce pan combine sugar and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Do not stir! After three minutes add chocolate and butter and stir until blended. Pour and spread over cake. Place in freezer for 45 minutes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thinking Thursdays

I spent today looking for profound thoughts to post about but I love this so much more! :) Alex and I had a blast in the bluebonnets a few weeks ago and when Scholastic ran a contest for their magazine cover I couldn't help but enter. If we make the finals I'll post the info here so you can vote for us and help us win! :)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday -- Google Reader

REMINDER: Aussie Muslin Baby Swaddle Wraps contest ends today. Click here to sign up!

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday and I’m just getting a chance to log on. I love themes, for parties, for coordinated Christmas wrapping paper and newsletters, and prompting me to log on and blog about something. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my daily “to-dos” that I forget about things that used to excite me. I’ve always loved to write but was never disciplined enough about it to get the relaxation that comes to me from blogging.

So on to today’s theme…Works for Me Wednesday (special thanks to We Are That Family for my recurring Wednesday prompt). Today I had a couple of meetings with friends/coworkers and all of them seemed to center or quickly focus around being organized. I think sometimes those of us who have to work at organization want it the most. My husband thinks he’s funny when he says I’m the best fake organized person he knows. I like to talk about it, I love to teach others how to do it, but I’m not the best at implementing it. Well, working at constantly being more organized is what keeps me moving in the right direction.

I love gadgets (probably too much), am addicted to sites like where I learn of fascinating new things to help me get even more organized (somehow that additional knowledge tends to take way more time than doing something the old fashioned way, but hey, it's fun!), and am always searching for a new tip or trick that will allow me to do something, anything, better.

In honor of this I want to highlight one of my favorite things to date…Google Reader! If you like to bookmark blogs so you can read them later but never seem to have time to check back up on them, you’ll love it too! I have a blackberry (I did admit to liking gadgets right?) and with the Google reader downloaded on my phone, standing in line at the grocery store, or waiting for prescriptions is now my time to relax and quickly catch up on the blogs I love to read.

Each blog you add pulls together into a running list of posts from your favorite sites. Although you can read this online, I find that I stay up to speed far better catching this in short bursts during time I would otherwise have spent getting impatient. Ok enough rambling, if you’re a blog reader go to Google, Click the More link at the top, Click on Reader and check it out! Soon you’ll be slowing down the grocery store line by not paying attention too!

Oh and the Aussie Muslin Swaddle Contest ends tonight, so be sure to head over here and sign up before its too late! ☺

Sunday, May 10, 2009

La Dia del Madre!

What a great weekend. I took the weekend off of work, hobbies and my to-do list and spent it having some great quality family time. Eric’s IPod is kicking the bucket so we spent some of that quality time Saturday at the Domain here in Austin getting to know our local Apple store a bit better. And since Alex isn’t able to visit the Domain without a penny pitching trip to the fountain I snuck in some photo time! Check out the mini scrapblog below!

An organization I happily support, called knows all about being a Mom and the work it takes and awarded me an honorary Mom of the Year award. You can read more here and spread the fun! ☺

Then Sunday it was off to brunch to celebrate Mother’s day at one of my fave restaurants called North by Northwest, who luckily enough have a great Gluten Free menu for hubby. I’m trying to embrace his lifestyle but cheated today and had an AMAZING pork tenderloin with this fantastic bacon, spinach and cheese risotto. YUM! Then back to the Domain for more Apple store time and home for naps and mommy time.

And how did I spend Mommy time you ask? Filing ☺! I had over 1200 emails sitting in my email inbox and I’m a fanatic for filing all my emails into nice neat folders and only having a week’s worth of emails at at time. Recent craziness has not allowed me time to file and I was going nuts with my overflowing inbox! Am I nerd or what!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday--Frugal, Sanity Saving Tips for New Moms

I was recently asked if I wanted to review some new muslin baby wraps by aden and anais, and to possibly blog about them. They are Australian swaddling cloths and are large enough to continue to be useful after the days of swaddling (or squaddling if you are talking to my father) are over. Since swaddling saved my sanity when Alex was a colicky, fussy wee one, I thought I would give this a shot. Even better, the picture shows the set being given away free to a reader this week!

The wraps arrived and were that lovely soft feel of good cotton, and as the packaging promotes the more you wash them the softer they get! They had cute designs in a light green and brown pattern that was pleasing, but not in any way gender specific, and best of all as soon as I took it out of the package my two year old made a grab for it and took off using it as a cape, thus proving that far beyond their days of swaddling and lulling fussy infants off to sleep, these blankets would still find use around our house.

The blankets are about twice as large as the hospital giveaways you come home with and are very thin, light cotton. They were very easy to use in a typical swaddling fold and my out of practice husband even got a refresher course in swaddling how-to as I was playing with them.

In the last few weeks this cloth has done double duty as a light blanket for our already overly warm Texas nights, is the perfect size rolled up to fit in the diaper bag and travel anywhere with us, and unlike the mountains of nice, fluffy fleece blankets we have left over from Alex’s babyhood, these stack and store in a minimal amount of space.

I’m a huge fan of swaddling babies and am often suggesting to friends that they should try it out to help baby, and them, get more sleep at night. My frugal tip for Works for Me Wednesday is to try swaddling. Before you buy Mylicon drops, before you buy a white noise machine, before you look for the latest gadget you simply must have to help you get some sleep at night, reach for blanket, or better yet a aden + anais double layer muslin wrap (you can win one today for FREE, how’s that for frugal ☺) and swaddle baby up tight for bed.

When we started swaddling Alex my family thought it was some new trend in parenting…but it’s not. Swaddling is a time honored tradition of helping little ones adjust to life outside of Mommy. All that extra space and lack of Mom’s cramped quarters can be upsetting for babies, but tucking them up in a tight swaddle brings back the security of Mommy.

If you’re a recent new parent or even a veteran that is looking for something new to try, check out this week’s contest and give swaddling a shot!

Free Giveaway for Frugal Works for Me Wednesdays!
Aden + Anais is giving one of you a free set of two double layer muslin wraps (retail value $49.95): Read how to enter below and spread the word about this great giveaway!

Contest Rules: VISIT and tell me some other uses they have listed for their swaddling wraps or something about these wraps that I haven't mentioned in the above post!

To receive these extra opportunities for entries, you must fulfill the first REQUIRED entry. But for extra entries, you can:
* Tell your own story about how swaddling saved your sanity.
* Tweet the contest with the following text “Traveling the Tightrope Great Giveaway—Free Aussie Muslin Wrapshttp:”. Leave the Twitterlink in your comment.
* Blog about the contest - add a link to Traveling the Tightrope and the Sponsor aden + anais
* Add Traveling the Tightrope widget (on the right under the blogroll) to your site OR add Traveling the Tightrope to your blog roll.
*Become a Traveling the Tightrope follower.

One person will be randomly chosen when the contest ends on May 12 at midnight CST. Check back next Wednesday when we announce the winner. I will contact the winner directly through your email or blog link that you leave when commenting.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Musical Stylings of Alex

Good morning everyone! Alex is what a lot of people very nicely call a verbal child. Really he is never quiet and recently the chattering has been a lot of singing. Here are a few renditions he was willing to have Mom tape! :) Enjoy and I hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I've been MIA this week while we've dealt with a crazy sequence of events. In the last week my sister's car has been hit twice, once by a drunk driver (thankfully it was parked and no one was injured), a scorpion discovered underneath it when it got towed away (my husband finds it hilarious that I add this to my crazy events of the week, but come on it could have stung me), my son came down with hand, foot and mouth disease, I had surgery, and our house was overrun by nastly little black bugs that I'm constantly waging war on by Windexing the crap out of them. Needless to say, although I could have definitely used an outlet for this crazy week I could never quite find time to post. So I'll skip the week and pick up with a thought I had yesterday! :)

I've grown a bit addicted to twitter lately and yesterday it was all abuzz with the growing wave of Recessionistas. Women who are turning to age old ways to save money in tough economic times are now being known by this fashionable moniker. I've never been a coupon clipper but even I have begun to wonder how much I could save by spending my time skimming the Sunday paper each week. My two year old is a big boy and eats a lot of food! Yesterday he polished off 4 slices of pizza and asked for more :), so our grocery bill is constantly rising. Even with the best of intentions though I rarely find the time, or should I say make the time, to sit down, clip coupons and still remember to take them to the store. Although I'm sure that works for a lot of people it just doesn't quite fit with our busy lifestyle, so I was super surprised and happy when my mom let me in on this little trick!

Walmart will honor all competitors ads. No coupons necessary! I just need to take the flyers with me to the store and they will honor the lower prices. My mom spotted a few Red Hatters working this brilliant money saving technique and they told her that although it's not advertised Walmart has done this for years. I tried it recently at my local Wally World and was happily surprised.

In a time when we are all looking for ways to save I'm always happy to find an easier way to do it!

ETA: Not sure if anyone's seen this, but GRRR, not happy at the lack of foresight from some people! If you're enjoying that extra few dollars in each paycheck courtesy of the 2009 stimulus, be sure to check this out and make sure it won't bite you next year.
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