Monday, January 26, 2015

Coffee and Coloring

In my last post I shared about our eventful January. During this busy January I have had to find some fun and easy activities to recharge with in between my fun but busy days. My daughter inspired me to try out my latest activity. A few months back my daughter found some really cute coloring books and set them next to her computer to work on during study breaks. She would set her college books aside, and turn on a fun video and color. It struck me as a fun and great way to chill out. So a couple of weeks back I ordered some color books that looked like a lot of fun.

I chose Hipster and Dapper Animals coloring books. Both of these coloring books are really nice, the paper is high quality and are working well with my gel pens and crayons. The Hipster Coloring Book is full of retro funky pictures, and the Dapper Animals are fun, smartly dressed animals to color. Both color books come with pages of design and art instruction as well as really interesting quotes to ponder while you are coloring. I have kept them out on my table with pens and crayons so I can color when the mood strikes, or when I need a little time to chill out. Definitely a new favorite activity, Amazon has a wonderful selection of really interesting coloring books, check out the link in my side bar.

Since I knew these coloring books would have some smaller designs to color in, I decided to buy some gel pens. It is crazy that I had never really tried out gel pens besides a few random ones here and there over the years. I bought a set of 48 Fiskars gel pens after reading the reviews on Amazon, and I am so happy with these pens, they work a lot better than I thought. I plan on buying a bigger set down the road, very fun to write and color with, and I am sure I will be using these for other crafts as well. I also picked up some Neon Crayolas and have my favorite twistables crayons to use as well.

While I was ordering my gel pens I decided to buy a pack of my most favorite felt tip pens as well. I was given a set of Pentel felt tip pens when I was in high school and really into art. I loved these markers and they lasted for years. I saw the same set I had, although it looked like a different package in the picture, mine was a solid mustard yellow case, and from the picture online I assumed it was all clear, but I was hoping they would still be my same favorite pens. When they arrived and I took them out of their cardboard sleeve and I was so happy to see my good old favorite mustard yellow case, as well as all the colors I remember so fondly. The markers are wonderful, the colors are great, and I am so happy to have these back in my craft supplies. They are spendy compared to run of the mill felt tip pens, but they are so worth the money, they far outlast regular felt tip pens and the color selection is great. Definitely worth investing in a set. :)

In addition to my new fun activity, I have found a new favorite beverage - Starbucks new Flat White.

I had a morning show on about a week or so ago and the hosts were trying a new coffee drink called a flat white, I was intrigued, but I haven't been into coffee much lately. I have a cup in the morning and that's usually it, aside from the occasional cappuccino. Gary, my hubby, is definitely into his coffee, and when he was picking up his drink at Starbucks last week he saw the sign for the new Flat White and decided to get one for us to try. I was really impressed with the flavor. Since then I have had a few more, and I am really enjoying this new drink. A Flat White is specially steamed milk with what are called ristretto shots of espresso, the drink has really nice micro-foam and is topped with a signature Starbucks white dot. I felt that this drink was less bitter than other coffee drinks, very smooth and flavorful. Definitely a new favorite, and one I would recommend for fellow coffee lovers to try, especially if you're a fan of the cappuccino. :)

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January News

We have been busy this January and the month has flown by. We have had an exciting start to the new year with a darling new addition to our family. Last week my sister had her precious little baby, we have all been eager and excited to meet her. I was one happy aunt when I finally got to hold her, my new little niece is a tiny little girl weighing in at only 5 lbs. 9 oz., her name is Fiona, and she is as precious as precious can be. It has been quite some time since I have held such a brand new baby and it was a treat. I am looking forward to seeing her again soon. :)

While we were waiting in the hospital for little Fiona to be born, I enjoyed hanging out with my niece and nephew, who were eager to welcome their new little sister. We had quite a bit of time to wait and I knew that it would be a good idea to pack some activities. I had fun the week before hunting through Target and finding some fun activities to pack for them. In Target's fun dollar section I found some really cute little tote bags which were about half the size of normal store tote type bags and were the perfect size. I found some simple activity kits that use the magic mess free markers, and other kits with mini coloring and sticker activities, as well as a magnetic doodle board, a couple of hot wheels, fruit snacks and a cute pack of tissues which came in handy. The kids enjoyed their bags and it definitely helped pass the time. :)

Last week we also enjoyed attending my son's girlfriend's cheer competition. The competition was an all day event and was really enjoyable. This was the first time I had ever been to watch a cheer competition, and it was fun watching all of the groups preform. The groups were all different ages, including some very young little groups, which were so cute and did really well. Our school competed near the end of the day, and did really well, their routine was great and they all did wonderfully. The whole event was exciting to watch and all of the teams were so supportive of one another it was really nice to see.

This last Sunday we went into town to visit my husband's great aunt who is very sick in the hospital. She is very dear to us and has been such a positive influence in my husband's life. We all love our Aunt Deloris and we were so happy to get to see her and pray for her.

After our visit, since we found ourselves in Portland, we decided to drive around and look at all the houses we grew up in. Of course the city has changed a great deal in the fifteen years since we moved, and it was interesting to see what had changed and what hadn't. I grew up right next door to a little convenience store, and I was surprised when I drove past and saw it still had it's original sign up. So we decided to pull in and walk through the store. Although the layout of the store has changed, and it is definitely showing its age, it was neat to see some of the original store shelves and cases from when I was a child. It was definitely a trip down memory lane. I have extremely fond memories of saving my allowance for different candy treats and snacks, as well as quarters to play the two arcade games that the store used to have back in the 80's. I had quite a fun time at this store all throughout my younger childhood. The kids thought I should for sure get a picture, so my son took a picture of me next to the candy rack, which looked just like it did when I was a kid. :)

So that's what I've been up to, definitely a full January for sure!

Linking to:
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Friday, January 9, 2015

Brown Sugar Bacon Caramel Sundaes

I always enjoy the start of a new year, and this first part of January has been no exception. I really enjoy getting things cleaned up post holiday and getting back into our regular schedule with a refreshed spirit. This week I have been hard at work tackling some of the organizational projects around the house and the kids and hubby have gotten back to a normal school and work schedule. Before we began our week back to the daily grind, I felt we needed one last fun little celebration to wrap up our holiday break. My son had been eager to invite all of his friends over for a day of gaming, both tabletop and video, so last Sunday we had the whole gang over. For dinner I made a fix your own taco bar, which is a family favorite. For dessert I wanted something special but different from the heavier baked treats we enjoyed at Christmas, so I made a delicious Brown Sugar Bacon Caramel Sunday that has been on my mind to make for some time now. I think it may be my new favorite treat!

To start you need to make the bacon. I always bake my bacon in the oven, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and a oven proof rack on top of the foil (I use a metal cooling rack). Lay the bacon out in a single layer on the rack in the foil lined baking sheet and bake at 400 F. until the bacon is almost fully cooked. You may want to check the bacon as it cooks and separate the pieces further apart as they shrink so they all get crispy. When the bacon is almost done, but not quite to the crispy state yet, take them out of the oven and sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar over each slice of bacon, make sure each piece has plenty of brown sugar. Then return to the oven for about five more minutes until the bacon is crispy, fully cooked and the sugar has caramelized. Really watch them at this stage they can go from perfectly done to over cooked in seconds because sugar burns fast. When they are done set them out to completely cool.

To serve scoop some vanilla ice cream into a dish, add a little dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel syrup, break a slice of brown sugar bacon in half and put the two halves in the back of the Sunday so they can be crumbled up over the ice cream.

The bacon is best when crumbled up and sprinkled over the ice cream, you can obviously skip right to this step if you aren't worried about presentation. :) Count on one slice of bacon for each smaller Sundae and two slices if you are indulging in a larger bowl of ice cream, which you may want to do after you try this! :)

The sweet and salty bacon is so delicious alongside the vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Everyone gobbled these down, and I will definitely be making this special dessert for family nights again!

 Thanks for stopping by! :)

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