Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Paint Snow Craft Idea

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We had a snow day and I decided to live it up with activities! I know I have mentioned cabin fever a lot lately but when you have a small child cabin fever gets to be a SERIOUS problem.
So I decided to "paint snow".
What you will need: 
Cute adorable kiddo willing to paint....Check!
Snow ~ I tossed it into a plastic tub top (easy clean up)
Water
Food Coloring
Tin pan to place your colors in
Paint brushes
Plastic spoon 
Then let them GO, go, GO! At first we started with the brushes then quickly moved onto the spoon. I agree with him it takes to long to really "paint" the snow. So although this is what I called this craft idea I decided to "splash" color on snow with him instead. 
If you are fighting Cabin fever or just want something fun to do this is the project for you!
Cheap, easy and mess free!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder Recipe

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We were experimenting with soup this week due to the dips in weather.
I have to say this one won hands down!
Slow Cooker Corn Chowder Recipe
What you will need:
3 cups corn ( I used 1 can)
8 small potatoes cut into cubes
8 slices bacon (I cooked it first), chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper to taste
3 cups chicken broth ( I do not suggest organic, it gives a funky taste to this)
3 cups milk {I used 1%}
1/4 cup butter ( I used "I can't believe it's not butter")
Combine the first 8 ingredients in slow cooker, cover and cook high for 4 hours.
Then stir in milk, butter and cook for an additional hour. I have to say you will not regret this recipe and will thank me later!
This Mom approved & Mac tested!

Monday, January 27, 2014

WNY Countryside thru my lens

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WNY Countryside thru my lens~ Did I mention I/we live in the abominable snowman land? I think Alaska is our only competition when it comes to snow fall around these parts. As much as I am not a fan of snow and cold weather it does have a real nostalgic, vintage, country feel to it! So what do you do when you are bored, it's too cold to play outside?
Take a drive through the country side,
my thoughts exactly!!
 
With this scenery who wants to stay inside? I love this time of year...
photograph wise, not so much snow, sleet & ice wise.
 
This country side, farms, Amish. .
yep don't think I could ever give this up!
Just a fun little drive to get us out of the house and
thought I would take you guys along with us!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Playing with Snow Indoors

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What do you do when it's -23 degrees out and Mac has no school?
Bring snow in the house and play?? Why not! I saw this on Pinterest and thought I would give it a whirl. Sensory play activity for a four year old to kill cabin fever...CHECK! 
Add some toys to this bucket and WOWZA play time!
Then we had a problem...
~COLD HANDS~
But easy remedy for that too.  
"Gloves" make a great solution for this problem. So he played with snow inside for about an hour until he finally looked up at me and said "Mom, I'm done playing". Not an exaggeration he walked upstairs laid down in his bed and out to sleep he went. I love this whole project because it was fun, entertaining and wore us both out!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hash brown Casserole Recipe

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Hash brown Casserole Recipe
What you will need:
8-12 eggs ( we used home laid, organic ones)
Handful of Mexican Shredded cheese
2-3 Mushrooms, diced (optional)
1 green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
Hot or normal sausage ( I used hot this time)
 1/2 bag of shredded hash browns
Salt & Pepper to taste 
Spray your oven pan. Spread the meat out on the bottom of the pan. Then in a separate bowl mix your eggs, veggies and mushrooms. Pour the mixture on top of the sausage. Then spread some cheese making a nice layer over the egg mixture. Then spread the hash brown on top.
Bake at 370 for about 1 1/2 hours or until golden brown. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to: Make "Snow" dough

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How to: Make "Snow" dough
What you will need:
Baking Soda
Shaving Cream
Stir stick
Plastic dish 
Mix shaving cream and baking soda. I used "gel" shaving cream so mix it with water first to get the shaving cream texture. Then I slowly added the two together. It makes a moldable dough. 
I tried to get it to a "play dough" texture.
You can also put this in the refrigerator for a cool and snow like effect. 
Mac even like the texture. This is a big HIT in my book.  
This stuff is really easy to make, clean up and smells AMAZING!
You can make it creamy or have it crumble just add more or less shaving cream. 
We liked ours to be more of a hard dough.
This way we could build things.
"Snowman" 
"Chameleon"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Italian Chicken Roast Recipe

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~Italian Chicken Roast~
What you will need:
1 full chicken
1 bottle of Italian dressing
2-3 tbs. butter
Salt & Pepper 
This is a rather easy way to spice up Chicken. I slice little cuts and pull the thawed chicken skin out. This way you have "pockets" you can use for flavoring. If you are squeamish about touching just use gloves. Then pour some Italian dressing in each "pocket". I try and make several to really give the whole chicken flavoring. Then takes the butter and rub it on the skin. Lightly Salt & Pepper over the butter to help it stick. This is what it should look like once finished, above. The skin bubbles out which is fine just the dressing ready for oven flavoring. 
Bake for about 1 hour at 365. The chicken top will turn a golden brown,
check that there is no pink and cut to serve.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Arrowhead, Heritage, Sparkling Ponds & Johnson Estate

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We decided to let grandma have Mac and take some friends out to local wineries for wine tasting. It was one of my friends birthdays and what can you do when its rainy, snow on the ground, outside? So we decided to explore the North East since we have never travelled that far before.
We started at Arrowhead Winery.
Some of the best things about wineries are the tasting areas.
They are a fun experience and really help you find wines you like. This winery was very stylish and included a gift shop area with lots of neat little items to purchase. 
Best wine to purchase & try was "Niagara".
Then we headed to Heritage Winery. They were located directly across the street and a little "off the beaten path". Down a long country road located in a barn through which you have to pass through a HUGE barrel to get into. We all agree this is the idea atmosphere for a winery. 
Rustic and just like your very own wine cellar in the basement.
They offer "serve your yourself".  
So Jen and I set our to test the wines!
Hands down we agreed the best wine they had to offer was "Fredonia". 
Nest stop is one of my FAVORITE wineries! Sparkling Ponds winery not only has good wine, wine slushes, bruschetta mixes they also have AWESOME dips! 
They had this dip up for display and sampling. By far the best dip I have tried!!
So we purchased some after I ate all the samples they had (it was THAT good).  
I wanted to share one of my favorite wines hands down "Woman Pleaser". I also wanted to mention the wine slushy mixes they have are also up there. They are both under $10! 
Our last stop was Johnson Estate Winery.
We have also gone here before but it was on our ride back into town.
Fun fact we purchased several wine jugs for our wedding in this winery. 
Best wine here. . where to begin, try them all!
By then I think we both felt happy and ready to eat some food.
Happy Birthday Jen! So glad to have adult fun with a great couple.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Donate to your local Animal Shelters

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As we all know I am a HUGE, big, LARGE advocate to give back to local communities. I have single handedly spent countless hours volunteering, preparing and giving away "care packages"/baskets to several organizations around my community. I am not trying to fluff up my personal image by saying that, I just want to, lead by example, so to speak. The local animal shelters are just as important to me as people in need. Some may think animals are not on the same level as humans and I have to say I don't agree (although you are entitled to your opinion). I put animals up on the same level as babies. They are innocent, unable to care for themselves and deserve great loving homes! So that being said we have been collecting a large bag of donations to drop off and just haven't gotten around to it. Scored a few snow days and thought, why not?
Towels we no longer needed, dog, cat samples, foods and treats from my freebie mail hauls. I know that sounds weird but I feel companies are giving away free food why not sign up and donate them? So although this doesn't take a "Rocket scientist" to put this bag together, every little bit helps, right? In true parenting fashion Mclachlan came along to donate our bag. I let him carry it in and give it to the lady. This way he has hands on experience. After that she asked if we would like a tour and to see where all our donations go. "SURE", squealed Mac. We walked around and explained to Mac about the cages, walking rings and why there were so many dogs and cats in this facility.
We wondered around and saw a cute little beagle mix we though about taking for a walk. But before you can even see an animal the forms come out. I know this was merely a precaution but sheesh. Then we got to play with "speedy" for a little while. I snapped a shot of him just for you all! We left and drove around town running errands talking to friends and then the funniest thing happened..... The car just ended back at the Humane Society.
This lucky little forgotten stray was rescued and found a home with us!
Meet our new dog "Hunter".
He will be making appearances in my videos and is a very well tempered, energetic, happy and fun loved dog. I sure do love the people at the Shelter! They all hovered around him and wished him congrats on a new home, making you just feel so honored to have stopped in. I don't know how they do it day in and day out with new animals coming in and some in poor conditions but I tip my hat to you! I thank them for their amazing work because without them our stray dog wouldn't have found his way to us otherwise. Giving back can be a blessing in disguise!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Should you teach your children to do chores?

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Should you teach your children to do laundry or chores? I read an article that over 400,000 teens and young adults do not know how to do their own laundry. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry? I rank doing one's laundry, as one of the easiest independent skill, one can have. " Some parents tell me they’ve focused so intensely on fostering academic, athletic or other achievements in their children that they don’t have time for household basics; one retailing executive, for example, told me that her teen was too busy doing community service and keeping an honors GPA to clean a toilet bowl or wash clothes"(article credit). How can a child be too "busy" to learn valuable skills they will need in their adult life. In my opinion, one should already know how to sustain most of the basic needs at a young age before they hit their teenage years. Thus, freeing them to have more "time" to do extra curricular activities like sports, community service etc. We all know I am a BIG advocate of giving back but where do you drawn the line? If you are not giving back to your family first how can they have the necessary talents and skills to help others???
What about other chores? Mclachlan likes to vacuum his room for instance. Should I encourage him to do something else rather then spend some of his time cleaning? I know this may sound silly to some but really where do we draw the line here? My generation has been marked as lazy and absent parents. I would like to know what the future holds for my kiddo as he grows up in this generation.
I know I am not the normal parent around these parts. Let's face it, I am around 20 something in age, I enjoy cooking, gardening, my chickens and saving money. I also have a strict diet for Mac, schedule and a hands on approach. So I may not be the best person to ask about these issues but I believe children should be taught at a young age these things.
 
I know my parents generation was brought up so much differently then I was. I am sure they see my generation and truly believe we are lazy and have lost our way. I hope my son will grow up with not only skills to make it on his own but memories of doing these things with me. The best way I know how to show him chores is by making it fun rather then a chore. Because, let's face it who likes doing chores?? Maybe someday when I get older he will come and do my laundry for me, since I've spent years doing his?? Here's to hoping ;)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sweet & Spicy Vegetarian Chili Recipe

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Sweet & Spicy Vegetarian Chili Recipe
What you will need:
1 1/2 cup water
1 can of chili beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of tomatoes
1 pepper diced
1/2 onion diced
5-6 mushrooms diced (optional)
2tbs brown sugar
2tbs Cookshack chili seasoning
Dice the vegetables, mushrooms and add them to the slow cooker. I also drain the cans of beans. You can use dried beans what ever is your preference. I place all of the diced contents in then the broth. Then sprinkle the spices and mix well. I also recommend using a Slow Cooker Liners for easy clean up, they come in all different sizes.
Turn the slow cooker on high and let cook for 2 hours.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Around town through my "Lens"

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Western New York has been cold lately. Apparently, it is supposed to get into the -40 degrees below zero with the wind chill factored in. I don't know about you but that is just too much for this old bird to be out. Before that happens I thought I would take a ride out with my camera and snap some shots of all the snow we have gotten in the last two days. But as an added twist, to put this camera to the test, I went out at dusk. For those of you who are not into photography you may not realize how much light is needed for your camera to develop photos before turning the "flash on". These are taken right before dark without a flash and I think they turned out rather well. 
The barns in our area are so photogenic, I might have to do a whole series of photos on rustic barns. I love this kind of stuff and they are all around my area. This might not interest you but people pay hundreds of dollars for "country d├ęcor" and I can snap them everyday all day for FREE! This one may not be a hundred dollars worth but again I was testing out my "night vision" and light allowance on this camera. 
I did try other filters but to be honest most of them required more light. But last night I wasn't going to give in and use the flash! I set out on a mission...  
Then... just as I was starting to really figure my setting out darkness hit. I will say the headlights produced enough light to really photograph small areas but not enough to really take details photos like I wanted. I guess I will just have to go back out and shoot some more. 
This is by far my favorite shot of the night.
Something so random as cleaning one's windshield... was made to look like art. 
What do you think? Have a favorite? Any ideas on what I should photograph next?