Friday, April 29, 2011

Fun Friday Finds

Wow, it's been a while since I've done this, hasn't it?!  This tells me I need to slow down and spend a little more "me" time exposing myself to cool, inspirational stuff, which is how I come across my Fun Friday Finds.  So, here are a few for this week!

One of my designer friends who always has her finger on the pulse of the design world recently shared this cool product on Facebook...a vertical, self-watering garden.  Wouldn't it make a cool room divider?

Here's a kid related product design...Cap-Sack Kids! Sortof a fanny pack for your head, although these have replaced the function of making your butt look big with the much more useful function of keeping the sun out of your eyes. (Via Cool Hunting)

Well now, these little sushi memo pads are just cute, aren't they? (without the threat of salmonella of course) (via Josh Spear)

Love these 1950's style ads for 21st century technology created by agency "Moma São Paulo." (via ReubenMiller)

That's all for this week folks...have yourselves a wonderful weekend!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What to do with all those EGGS?!

Okay, so Easter is over, and you're left with a bunch of beautifully decorated hard boiled eggs.  If you can only stand to eat so many plain eggs (we love 'em as snacks and lunch items!), here are a couple recipes to help you use them up!  These are my two favorite recipes that utilize hard boiled eggs.  It's a good idea to just pick up these ingredients when you buy your eggs to color, so you'll be ready to use them up after Easter! (which I forgot to do this year...time to run to the grocery store!)

Scotch Eggs

This is a recipe that I got from my mom. (Moms are the best people to get recipes from, right?!)  It's one of those recipes I always loved as a kid, and was afraid to try for my husband when we were newly married for a couple reasons...1) he's a picky eater, and  2) he claimed to "hate" hard boiled eggs.  He was skeptical when he first tried this, but it immediately became one of his favorite meals!

8 hard boiled eggs, peeled & cooled
1 lb pork sausage
2 raw eggs
6 Tbsp bread crumbs
Can of 8 crescent rolls

1) Set oven to 450 degrees.  Mix sausage, raw eggs, and bread crumbs.  Wrap eggs with sausage mixture, covering each egg.  (Covering a slippery egg with slippery meat takes practice to perfect. I sortof mash the egg into a ball of sausage and cup it all in my hands, putting equal pressure around the whole thing so the sausage evenly distributes itself around the egg. Make them a bunch of times and you'll get the hang of it!)

2) Bake meat-wrapped eggs in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes on a cookie sheet.  Drain.  Cool 10 minutes. Lower oven temp to 375 for next step...

 3) Open package of crescent rolls and separate.  Stretch/flatten each triangle (use rolling pin if you need).  Wrap the cooked egg/sausage ball and seal.

4) Bake in 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until light brown.  Makes 8; serve warm. I like to sprinkle a little salt on them.  My husband loves to add hot sauce.  The kids love them as-is!

Son-In-Law Eggs
This is one of our favorite recipes from one of my Thai cookbooks.  (We are big fans of Thai food)  Again, it is one of my (formerly self proclaimed hard-boiled-egg-hater) hubby's favorites! But, I'm most proud that my already-set-in-his-ways father-in-law ate this up and took another helping, much to the surprise of his wife who also was certain he HATED hard boiled eggs! This one is a bit time consuming so I save it for more "special" occasions or when I have more time to cook.  I usually serve this along side another Thai recipe, like Chicken Satay.  But, we love it so much, it could be it's own main dish. If you don't ever make Thai food, there will be a couple ingredients you may not have on hand.  Check out your local Asian grocery store for tamarind liquid/sauce/concentrate.  Fish sauce you can usually find at your regular grocery store in the "ethnic" aisle, but like most "ethnic" ingredients, you can get them WAY cheaper at the specialty stores! (Plus they are VERY fun to shop around in!) I get a big tub of dried red chili flakes really cheap there too.  We use it in a lot of dishes!  Anyway, you may Google some substitutes for tamarind, like lime juice or orange juice or whatever, but don't do it.  The real thing is worth getting because it is an important ingredient to get the REAL flavor of many Thai foods.  I use it in my chicken pad thai too.


1 C uncooked rice (however much you'd like to make...we like jasmine rice. If you don't have it on hand, just make some instant rice and it'll be yummy too!)

Tamarind Sauce:
3/4 C tamarind liquid
1/4 C palm sugar (brown sugar works)
1/4 C fish sauce (cut some with soy sauce if fish sauce grosses you out)
1/4 C water
2 tsp coarsely chopped dried red chili flakes
3 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Eggs & Crispy Shallots:
Vegetable Oil to fry eggs
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 C thinly sliced shallots

Prepare rice: I just kindof wing it with rice.  I'll start maybe 2 cups of water boiling, then add 1 or 1 1/2 cups rice, and let it cook.  If the water is evaporating and your rice is still not fully cooked, just add a little more at a time until it's to your desired consistency.  Make as much as you want for the people you're feeding...the tamarind sauce on the rice makes it good by itself even without the eggs! The general 1,2,3 rule is that 1 cup dry rice + 2 cups water = 3 cups cooked rice. I love to use jasmine smells soooo good, and we get a good deal on a huge bag (25 lbs!) at the Asian grocery stores.  If you don't want to fuss with cooking rice, use the instant's okay, likely nobody will notice! ;-)

To prepare sauce: Combine ingredients in medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.  Lower heat to maintain lively simmer and cook 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl to cool.

To fry eggs & crispy shallots: Heat about 3 inches of vegetable oil in a medium skillet or wok over medium heat to frying temperatures.  Carefully lower eggs into oil and fry until golden brown and crisp all over, 5-7 minutes.  Removed and drain on paper towels.  Scatter shallots into the skillet and fry 1-2 minutes, until browned but not burned.  Remove and drain on paper towels.

To serve: halve eggs lengthwise and arrange on a serving platter of cooked rice (Something with sides works best to contain the sauce, but large enough to spread out the eggs so they look pretty!).  Pour sauce over eggs and sprinkle with crispy shallots, chili flakes, and cilantro, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fun, FREE Twin Cities' Activity

 Sorry folks, I know I haven't posted much lately!  I've been quite distracted, but for a good reason...after a year of H-E-double-hockey-sticks, we have SOLD our house!  Next week we'll close on the one we're already living in and then we'll be back to being homeowners again and can get on with life as we like it!  Yeah!!  Hopefully you'll see more of me here soon.

For now, I thought I'd share this fun family outing we went on a couple weekends ago here in Minneapolis.  We had a blast and it was all FREE!

First we ventured to a warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis (Suite 177 at 1620 Central Avenue NE) to see this incredibly huge Lego train layout.  Local Lego enthusiasts put together 750,000 Lego bricks to create this totally original display (no kits allowed!), and one Saturday a month they open it up for public viewing from 11 am until 4 pm.  We saw it on our local news station, and in hindsight, probably shouldn't have come for the first one after the news story.  It was PACKED.  More people than they have ever had.
 My hubby had to wait out in the hallway with Toby in the stroller while I noodled my way through the crowd with Sammy on my shoulders.  He doesn't look too thrilled in this picture, but he had fun, and was pretty excited to see all of the Thomas engines, and even a Harold the Helicopter with his blades spinning!

It was very cool though, and I'd highly recommend it....I'd just suggest waiting a few more months until the news story crowds die down so you can really get down on the train tracks' level and enjoy it!

Since we were already downtown and had more time before lunch, my hubby had a great idea to head over to Mill Ruins Park.  We put Toby in the backpack and all went for a walk across the bridge over the Mississippi river. 
The park and the trails are full of amazing views and it was very cool to see the river raging with all of the recent snow melt. OH, okay, I wasn't totally was like a dollar to park at the park.  Although, you may be able to find some free street parking on the weekends.  I figure when I dig a little change out of the center console in the car, it doesn't really count as an expense.  ;-)

So there's an idea for the next time you're looking for a fun, free family activity in our lovely Twin Cities!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Some AWESOME German Advertising

These days there is so much advertising out there, it's literally impossible to get through an hour, let alone a day, without being bombarded by it.  This is why I get really excited when I see an advertising campaign that actually grabs my attention and makes me want to look at every detail...especially one that uses print.  These ads for a German job website do just that.  I guess this campaign is a few years old, so I'm pretty late in seeing it.  But, the fact that it's circling the web still is testament to it's success!

I can relate to these ads on so many levels.  As a designer, I am in awe of the creativity.  I consider this one of those "why didn't I think of that" kind of ideas.  As a human being, I can relate to crappy work environments.  And as a work-from-home MOM,  I often feel like these people trapped inside their boxes...working away tirelessly, seemingly invisible to the people they serve who just think everything just appears at their command out of thin air.  Sound familiar?!  ;-)  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Make Your Own Fake Spill for April Fools Day!

I am wishing I had thought about it earlier on, but we did end up doing something for April Fools Day this year!  Since Sammy has been a big hot chocolate drinker all winter, I thought we'd try making a fake hot chocolate spill to "fool" Daddy when he got home.  Here's what we did.

Supplies: Cookie sheet, plastic wrap, disposable cup, real cup, white glue, brown acrylic paint, something to stir with, and marshmallows.  (Oh yeah, and one super cute little boy.)

Step 1: Squeeze some white glue into a disposable cup.  We just used one of these plastic party cups we had around, but a paper cup or empty food container would work fine too.

Step 2: Squeeze some brown paint into the glue. I used acrylic...I bet tempera would probably work fine too.

Step 3: Stir. You may need to add more paint and adjust the color as you go.  I ended up adding a little bit of black too.  Make sure it's nice and even so you don't end up with streaks of color.

Step 4: Put the end of a piece of plastic wrap inside the cup you want to use for the setup, and working over a cookie sheet (so you can move it all later), pour the glue into the cup. You could just use the disposable cup as your fake spilling cup, but we decided to use Sammy's mug with his name on it, since that's what he really uses for hot chocolate, to make it more real.

Step 5: Set the cup down, being careful that the glue stays only on the plastic wrap, and spread it around a little.  The thinner it is, the quicker it'll dry.

Step 6: Add marshmallows! Sammy had fun sprinkling marshmallows into the "spill!" (and eating a few along the way)

 Step 7: Wait until it dries.  I am wishing I had started this a day or two in advance so it could properly air dry.  We started it when Daddy left for work in the morning, and I had to point a fan on it all day to get it to dry.  (after taping the saran wrap down so it wouldn't blow over on the glue!) I also had to peel it up and flip it over to dry the other side, because it was a little too thick to dry in time.  This ended up making a wrinkly looking puddle, but it worked okay.  (We did it on the cookie sheet so I could move it off of the table)

Step 8: Set up your trick! Peel off the plastic wrap and position your spill.  Yeah, this looks really weird and wrinkly, which like I said, was from trying to speed it up with a fan!!  But, the color turned out pretty well. I tried to convince Sammy that a spill on the carpet would be more dramatic, but he was set on doing it on the kitchen table!

Step 9: Fool your victim!  Here's Daddy coming in the door from work, while Sammy points out, "Daddy! I made a big huge mess!!"  I think he was actually fooled for a second, until he saw that it was kinda wrinkly and didn't sit flat on the table.  Ha!  Even if it did totally fool him, he probably wouldn't be too worried about it since he has a wife who cleans up these sorts of things.  But, it was a really fun way to make the day fun for Sammy by doing a project and playing a trick on Daddy!

Later we went out for dinner and brought along his fake pile of peas from his toy kitchen.  We put it on Daddy's plate...not sure how well it blended being that we had pizza and suddenly he had peas on his plate, but he was a good actor.  ;-)

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools!

It's April 1st and we all know what that means...everyone has a license from the calendar gods to play tricks on each other!  I have fun childhood memories of us kids dishing up Dad's dinner plate with my mom's realistic food magnets off of the refrigerator.  We would then wait with bated breath for the big moment of surprise as my dad would butter and salt the plastic cob of corn on his plate (which was clearly flat on one side and not even warm), lift it to his mouth, and then...BAM!  Instant hilarity.  After the laughter died down, he'd then reach for his half of a banana (make it a quarter of a banana, since it was flat on one side too), and the fun would continue.  Boy did we fool Dad.  Year after year.  Or so his clever acting led us to believe anyway.

Okay, so April Fools may not be a "real" holiday, but why not take advantage of the opportunity to inject a little extra fun in your kids' day?  I do recall a couple other pranks that my dad played on us... duct taping the inside of our jacket sleeves so we couldn't get our arms through: hilarious.  Putting a rubber band around the sink sprayer so that is soaked Mom when she turned on the faucet: not so hilarious.  (I think perhaps he was getting her back for the time she blended together play-doh into just the right color, and inserted it into my baby brother's diaper just before Dad went to change him.)

So...what to do now that I have a toddler big enough to possibly enjoy playing some pranks?

Family Fun magazine has various cute April Fools trick ideas online, with everything from printable pranks to craft pranks to food pranks and more. It didn't surprise me too much either that there are websites devoted to April fools pranks, like this oneInstructables has a great collection of ideas as well, including many for the office. has a good list of safe pranks.

Props like my mom's realistic food magnets make for pretty safe tricks for kids to play, but why not make your own props to add more fun and make a project out of it?  Here are some more links...
How to make fake poop
How to make a fake coffee spill
If your child has a toy kitchen, you could always use some of their toy food too to "fool" Daddy at dinner time.

You can of course always purchase some fake spills and other prank props for next year, like these...
Spilled Nail PolishFake Nail Polish SpillPranky JokesGET 2 Shock Pens
Gelling JokeTV Poltergeist Phantom Prank DeviceShocking Joke Pack of Gum Funny Shock GagDirty Face SoapSurprise Hand BuzzerToilet MonsterRealistic Full Size Rubber Mouse Halloween Gag

For a little extra fun reading material, check out the top 100 April fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time over at the "Museum of Hoaxes!"

I'm not quite sure what we'll do this year as I'm still thinking about it... but will be sure to post some photos of whatever we do!!  Have a fun and SAFE April Fool's day!


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