Monday, October 29, 2012

Once A Month Cooking

Have you heard of Once A Month Cooking?  It’s where you gather everything you need for a month worth of meals, make them all in one weekend and then freeze them to eat all month.  It’s all the rave and there are quite a few blogs about it.

There’s even a book on it if you are inclined to read more about it.

Now I don’t partake in this event.  I don’t cook dinner every night, or even once a week.  I cook dinner once a month, maybe twice if I have to.  You see, my husband likes to cook and if he wants a good meal he knows he should make it himself.  It’s not that I don’t know how to cook, I would just rather eat it than make it. I mean why spend all that time chopping and sautéing and cooking and seasoning and then only spend 10 minutes enjoying it? 

Don’t think that I get off too easy.  I do heat up leftovers and make vegetables for a side dish most nights. If I didn’t all we would have for dinner is meat and potatoes and maybe some bread.  I will admit that I am horrible at making garlic bread. I burn it Every… Single… Time… And if you still think I have it made with a husband that cooks, we do have a rule in our house:

“Whoever doesn’t cook the meal has to clean up the meal and all the preparation dishes too.”

Recently though, I came across a recipe on Pinterest that I decided to make one night.  If you ever check my Food board on Pinterest you will not find much there (at least not for dinner).  So here’s a meal that I made last month and I think it turned out well.

Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole
adapted from

2 (8 ounce) cans Pillsbury Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup, undiluted
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese or swiss cheese
1/2 cup milk

4 ounces cream cheese (very soft)
2 tablespoons butter (very soft but not melted)
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tsp minced onion flakes
2 large cooked chicken breasts, finely chopped 
1/2-3/4 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. milk
1-2 cup grated cheddar cheese (for topping)

Set oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13 dish with cooking spray. Mix together milk, 3/4 cup cheese and undiluted chicken soup (can season with black pepper if desired).

For the filling --- in a bowl, mix the soft cream cheese with butter until very smooth, then add in garlic powder. Add in the chopped chicken, onion and cheddar cheese; mix well until combined. Add in 2 tablespoons milk; mix to combine (add in a little more if the mixture seems too dry). Season with seasoned salt or white and black pepper to taste. Unroll the crescent rolls.

Place 1 heaping tablespoon chicken mixture (or a little more) on top of each crescent triangle, then roll up starting at the thicker end. Drizzle a small amount of soup mixture on the bottom of the dish. Then place the crescent rolls seam-side down on top of the creamed mixture in the casserole.

Drizzle the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with 1 cup (or more) grated cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes.

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Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Witch Costume

Jake wanted me to dress up for Halloween too and who can resist a three year olds request?  I do like dressing up but I haven’t for a few years.  I asked him what I should be and then suggested a witch and his eyes lit up and said “yeah, a witch!” 

I don’t have any step-by-step pictures for this one, but everything was from what I found online and Pinterest.

I loved this skirt from Etsy, but it isn’t on there anymore. 

Witch Skirt

I looked around online and found that making these types of tutu skirts is fairly easy.  I used this tutorial to make a no sew skirt. 

No Sew Halloween Purple Witch Costume - DIY Halloween Costume

I bought 3 yards each of black, purple, green and orange tulle which was 3 yards for $4 at JoAnn’s. I cut 18 strips of each color approx. 5'” wide.  I left the colors all the same length, but I cut the black strips in half.  I was hoping this would make it darker on top (hiding my behind). 

I ended up removing half the orange and green strips.  I did sew on a black ruffle I found at JoAnn’s along the top to give it a more finished look.  In the end it was still a bit see-through so I ended up wearing my black skirt swimsuit bottoms underneath for added security and warmth.

This blog told me that the tights can be found at Target.  I couldn’t find the green/black so I went with the purple/black and they are perfect!

Photo from How I Keep Sane

For the hat I found two great tutorials.  I used them both to come up with my design.  I used the first on for the base and head band attachment and the second one for the point of the hat.  I also added a little purple tulle flower.  In all this cost me around $2.

Photo from Prudent Baby

Photo from Delia Creates

For the top I just wore a plain black long-sleeve shirt and used extra black and purple tulle to make a scarf.  It was a little scratchy.  The shoes were black heels from my closet and are the most comfortable (actually the only comfortable heels) that I own.



I’ll try and update the pictures after I wear it out tonight and put on some fun makeup. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dragon Costume

Halloween is just days away but starting in early October I asked Jake what he wanted dress as.  The last few years I just bought his costume and he willing wore it.  But since he is now starting to get the idea of Halloween I wanted him to decide what to wear. 

He had quite a few ideas such as a robot, superhero, R2D2, dinosaur and dragon.  Every day he would say something different, but eventually he kept saying dragon, so that’s what we decided. Of course half way through making the costume he changed his mind back to a superhero, so we had to let him know it’s too late.  He seemed to take it well once he saw his costume.

I was hoping he wanted to be a red dragon but he was insistent on a green dragon.  My idea was simple, buy a green hooded sweatshirt and matching green sweat pants (2 pair so I could use an extra leg to make the tail), but I couldn’t find anything.  They had plenty in red, blue, grey or black, but no green.  I checked Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sears, JC Penny, and finally Kohl’s. 

It was at Kohl’s that I did find a cute green pullover hooded fleece sweater with a dinosaur on it which I decided would have to work.

hooded fleece

Of course there was no matching pants, so I had to make those.  I found some green fleece at JoAnn’s that matched close enough.  This was my first attempt at making pants but I didn’t think it would be too hard.  I figured I could just take an existing pair and cut two pieces and sew them together. 


Luckily I found this blog explaining the proper way to make pants before I cut any of the fabric. I made a template on a paper bag and used my yard stick to mark for seam allowance and also because I wanted him to be able to wear them over another pair of pants. I don’t have any pictures, but the blog link above explains it all step by step.


Next up was the tail.  I found this great blog on dragon tails, but they were straight and I wanted Jake’s to be curved up at the end.  So first I drew a picture of what I wanted it to look like, then drew it on a paper bag, then cut out the fabric by placing the template bottom on the fold.

dragon tail

I also wanted to continue the spikes on the head of the sweatshirt onto the tail, so I bought blue, yellow and orange fleece to match.  I made some the same size and two sizes larger and attached them to the tail pointing towards the middle.  Fold the fabric onto itself and sew it up. Turn it inside out and stuff it.  For better instructions and to see how to add the strap and finish it up see the blog link above.

dragon tail2

Now at this point the costume could be either a dinosaur, alligator or dragon, so I decided it needed wings to make it clear he was a dragon.  So of course I found another blog on how to make dragon wings.  And for the fabric I found this amazing skin-like material in a gold metallic. 


I have no pictures on how I made the wings, but I followed the tutorial and used metal hangers to give it form.  I made them a bit larger, so I had to cut the hanger into more pieces and it doesn’t lay as nice, but it still looks pretty cool.


And finally, here he is in his dragon costume.  He loves it and I’m so glad I was able to make his Halloween costume.  Next year I think I’ll just take him to the costume store and let him pick out what he wants.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Box of Sunshine

This Summer I had a wonderful intern, Amy.  In the past 12 years I’ve had an intern almost every Summer and there have been good ones and not so good ones.  I would rate Amy at the top of the list with a select few others. 

What makes a good intern?  Well, that’s a tricky question but overall they listen, follow direction, are good thinkers, have a positive outlook on constructive criticism, are engaging, ask questions, and are willing to learn.  Amy is only starting her Junior year which is young for our interns, but she showed a high level of professionalism and was a pleasure to work with.

As her last day neared, I saw an idea on Pinterest about a Box of Sunshine as a get well soon gift.  I decided this would be a great care package to send her back to college with.  The box is filled with all things yellow.



My particular box included yellow cake mix, lemon poppy seed muffin mix, microwave popcorn, peanut M&Ms, Milk Duds, Juicy Fruit, Burt’s Bees lip balm, Shea butter soap, yellow loofa and shower gels, lemon kitchen clean candle, Ricola cough drops, Cabana lemonade, sunflower kitchen towel, two yellow cookie cutters, yellow flower pot with potting soil and marigold seeds and a recipe for homemade sugar cookies and frosting.



I found this Crate & Barrel box in my closet and it was perfect.  The bow was already attached and I decided just to give it as it was.  I did tell her that it wasn’t from Crate & Barrel, but she didn’t seem to mind. 

Most of what I bought was around $1 or a little more so in all I think I spent around $20-25.  She sent me a note of appreciation and said her roommates are enjoying the box and the marigold flowers were growing in a window. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I want your blood!

The other day I received a call from the BloodCenter of Wisconsin urging me to donate ASAP as they had less than a one day supply of O- blood, my particular blood type.  You can donate whole blood every 8 weeks and since my last donation was in early August I was eligible again.  My issue, however, is that I am anemic and you have to have an iron count high enough to donate so I knew I wouldn’t be able to donate that day or the next.  I have to take iron supplements to build up my iron so I can donate again, so I made my appointment for this Thursday.  As you can see, it isn’t easy for me to donate, but I do what I can to help save the lives of people I don’t even know. 

I started donating blood in high school and did so a couple more times until I started getting faint after donating.  This was my excuse for not donating.  I’m not saying I like needles, that was a fear I first learned to overcome. 

When I was a little girl I had to give blood at the doctor's office.  I can’t remember why, but I do remember they had about 4 nurses in there holding me down to get the needle in my arm.  I was told to think of something else, something I really liked to keep my mind off the actual needle.  What do you think a little girl would think of?  Going to the playground, having a sleepover, getting a new My Little Pony or a new Barbie doll?  Nope, not me, I was thinking of going to McDonald’s and getting a cheeseburger.  I think that is because this commercial had just come out and looking back, this could have been me!



Shortly after college I decided to try donating blood again and while I did get a little faint, I knew the importance of my blood type and decided to keep at it. 

Here are some facts I found at and

  • Only 7% of the population has O- blood, the universal donor.
  • Only 5% of the population that is eligible to donate do so.
  • Type O negative blood is the preferred type for accident victims and babies needing exchange transfusions.
  • Whole blood is only useful to patients for 42 days. After that, it “expires” and must be destroyed.
  • Donating blood is completely safe. You cannot contract any diseases from donating blood.
  • The body will replace the fluid portion of your blood within 24 hours. It will take a few weeks to replace the red blood cells.
  • On September 1, 2008 BloodCenter of Wisconsin began accepting donations from 16-year-olds (with parental consent) who are in general good health and meet the general criteria to donate.

Blood Type

Yes, O- is the most important blood type, but as you can see, I can only receive O- blood.  If the hospital knows your blood type they will give you type specific or another match other than O-.  If all the O- is used up and I come in needing blood they would have to find O- from another hospital or blood center and there would be nothing they could do for me until that time.  So every blood type is important, even for those people that can’t use it. 

I have my blood donor card right under my drivers license.  If I’m seriously injured I hope the medical person would open my wallet, take out my drivers license and see my blood donor card underneath.  This would tell them immediately that I am O- and can only receive O- blood.  I really wish all drivers licenses had the blood type listed on it.  This would save time, money and resources. 

If you have never donated blood I will go with you and help you as much as I can along the way.  I will hold your hand, tell you to relax, it will be over in less than an hour (the actual donating takes only 10-15 minutes).  And I will even take you to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger or whatever you want.