Monday, May 21, 2018

Lapel Pin Magnets


If you don't have piles of lapel pins floating around your house, do you even Fandom, Bro? 

Between just the two of us, my husband and I have tried about 8-10 different subscription boxes in the last few years, many of which we kept up for many months. Currently we still get about 4 monthly. 

The vast majority of the fandom-themed boxes include a cool new pin in each box. I love them all, but have struggled with how to display them. Up until recently they have sat, stacked up, still in their packaging, in a corner on my shelf near the rest of the displayable parts of my boxes.

Admittedly, this project is not my brainchild. I can't recall where I saw it, whether it be Pinterest of one of my fandom Facebook groups, but many months ago, I saw this incredibly simple yet genius idea to turn these pins into fridge magnets! I've wanted to do it ever since.

Another thing I love to collect is magnets. They're a great way to inexpensively commemorate places visited and hobbies we enjoy. I hate hanging things on my fridge, because to me the magnets themselves are décor. 

I don't keep random advertisement magnets that come in the junk mail. 

I collect magnets from new cities as keepsakes every chance I get! I love looking at them everyday as they remind me of things I love.

I finally got around to ordering magnets for the back. I used these flexible adhesive backed magnets.  I chose them primarily because of the sticky back, but there are some thicker sturdier ones that would require a spot of glue that would be better choices for heavier objects. 

As soon as they arrived, I couldn't wait to make them! 

My husband was a big help as well. Using his Leatherman, he was easily able to snip the safety pin from the back of the button style pins. 

For the lapel pins, he was able to use his pliers to rock the pin back and forth until it snapped off at the base.

For a few of the pins, more than one magnet was needed due to weight. If there isn't enough room to hold more than one without it poking off the edge, you can carefully shave the excess for a nice clean look.

I've had them up on my fridge for about a month now. I noticed on one particularly hot day that they looked like the glue was melty, but none of them came apart. 

I wouldn't be surprised if I have to replace magnets at some point, and that may be the advantage to use higher quality magnets and glue them on yourself.

This project made me so incredibly happy. 

I spent the following days wanting to magnetize anything that wasn't nailed down. 

I'm so excited to get more to do this with - it's given me even more anticipation for each of my incoming subscription boxes! 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Summer Activities for Kids: Awesome Life Friday #160

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

So, now the best part of Awesome Life Friday -  the FEATURES!

Can you believe that school is nearly out for the summer already?! Here are a few ideas to help keep the kids busy and interested in their world as they spend more time at home:

Unicorn Popcorn - A Tasty Treat for Parties // 5 Minutes for Mom
"Unicorn Popcorn is seriously so simple to make. All you need is 4 bags salted only popcorn, 2 cups of pink candy melts, and 2 cups of blue candy melts."

DIY Avengers Infinity Stones Crayons // Comic Con Family
"These are fun for kids to use and they also make a great gift idea when you package it together with some other items, like Avengers coloring books."

Color Changing Slime // Our Unschooling Journey Through Life
"We talked about what thermochromatic meant and how it worked. Alec immediately told us that thermo was temperature like thermometer and I explained that chromatic meant color.  So this meant our slime would change color based on temperature."

Latticed Learning - Time // Syncopated Mama
"This week's theme has plenty of activities to go along with it - keep reading to find out more!"

Easy DIY Summer Activities Board + Free Printables // DIY Adulation
"Summer will be here before you know it. It is easy to forget about in all of the end of the school year chaos. Get your summer activity plan in place with an easy DIY summer activities board."

Easy Science Experiments for Kids // Gluesticks
"Sidewalk paint rockets, colored carnations, fizzy water, bobbing raisins, balloon rockets and more! This collection of easy science experiments for kids is a great way to spark curiosity and creativity during the summer months off of school!"

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Strawberry Asparagus Spring Salad #fantasticalfoodfight


I've never been one to make a particular planned tossed salad - salad is some lettuce and whatever you have on hand to go with it, right?  So, when I signed up for May's salad-themed Fantastical Food Fight, I didn't have anything in mind - I'd just knew there would be several salads showing up on our table, and one of them would be the right one to share.

Check the link up below to see the salads everyone shared!
For the past several weeks, we've been getting a weekly delivery of local fresh produce from the Virginia-based company, Seasonal Roots, so we've been enjoying their fresh, in-season bounty quite a bit.  A couple weeks ago, along with some potatoes, radishes and fresh herbs, my box had a large basket of gorgeous ripe strawberries, some fat succulent asparagus, and a big bag of spring lettuce mix.

I'd found my salad.

I added pan seared salmon to this to make it a main dish salad - that could be switched with steak slices, chicken, or left off entirely. 

No matter how you do it, if your produce is as flavorful and fresh as mine was, this is a salad you will dream of after you've had it.

Strawberry Asparagus Salad
Serves 2 with leftover salad

1 bunch fat asparagus
Olive Oil
Coarse salt

Spring lettuce mix, washed and chopped
1 pint fresh strawberries
1/2 cup feta cheese

2 salmon filets
olive oil
Pepper, Salt
Lemon juice

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
Pepper, Salt, garlic powder

Prepare the asparagus by snapping or trimming the woody ends.  Cut into inch-long pieces and lay in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, turning the asparagus to coat.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Roast asparagus at 400F for about 20 minutes, or until tender to taste.  Set aside to cool.

While asparagus is cooking, de-stem and slice strawberries into a bowl, set aside. (If yours aren't very sweet a small sprinkle of sugar can be added but don't be heavy handed with it.)

Wash lettuce, and put into a large bowl.

To make the dressing, use a jar, combining all ingredients and shaking well before serving.  I have a jar with markings for several dressing formulas for dressings around the sides and it makes my life very easy.

Sear the salmon in a hot skillet with olive oil, beginning skin side down and seasoned with salt and pepper. When the salmon is opaque and flaky, give it a squirt of lemon and remove from heat.

To plate the salad, place some lettuce in each bowl, top with a generous serving of asparagus, then strawberry slices, then feta cheese. End with some pieces of salmon.

Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette to taste.


Let's see what wonderful salads others are bringing to this food fight!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Party in the PJs #208

Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda's Features!

 Make sure you head over to the other members of Party in Your PJs
 to see their features - we each pick our own!

All links are pinned to a Party can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiratioPn to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Gulaschsuppe: May Family Favorites Recipe Hop


This month, we're joining with these wonderful bloggers to share one of our family favorite recipes!

My Husband Has Too Many HobbiesAcross the Blvd
Cookies, Coffee & CraftsTwo Chicks and a MomSimply Inspired Meals

I'm sharing a delicious rich soup (almost a stew) that I've been working on for decades - ever since I first tasted a bowl of the beefy paprika-filled stuff at a Gasthaus in Germany.  Over several years there, I tried it again whenever I could, noticing the variations from one cook to the next, and modified my own over time until it is (to my taste) just perfect.

Should you like bell peppers, adding some diced peppers to simmer with the meat would be perfectly traditional.  I can't eat them and fortunately for me, leaving them out is traditional, too.   Potatoes can also be left out - but don't.  They soak up all that savory goodness and should not be missed.

Serve this with some thick crusty bread rolls to sop up every last bit of gravy, and make plenty - the leftovers are even better than they were the first night.

While this isn't at all hard, do have patience and let it cook for a good long time - the meat will practically melt into the gravy and be lusciously rich and tender.

Serves 4-6

2 T. olive oil (or tallow, coconut oil, etc)
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 lb beef, cubed into bite sized pieces
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup red wine 
6 med thin skinned potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite sized pieces
32 oz beef broth
3 bay leaves
2 T. caraway seeds
1 T. hot Hungarian paprika
2 T. sweet Hungarian paprika
1 small can tomato paste 

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion is caramelized.  Scrape pot and add beef, browning well .. the crusty bits add to the flavor. (Don't burn.)  Scrape the pot again and add the wine and balsamic vinegar, which will deglaze the pot - let it simmer on low until the wine has almost entirely evaporated.

Add broth, bay leaves, caraway seeds and paprikas, and let simmer for as long as you've got time for... I like to give it at least an hour, but less is fine, as long as you let it cook long enough to tenderize the beef.  

Add potato cubes and enough water to cover plus about 1 inch above, and bring to boil.  When potatoes are tender, add tomato paste, lower to a simmer and let cook for about another 15 minutes.

If you like, give it another splash of wine just before serving.

Friday, May 11, 2018

How to Roast Garlic in the Instant Pot


I have had roasted garlic, at home at least, once ever. Probably about 10 years ago, my mom made a dinner of good-luck foods and yummy appetizer type dishes for New Years Eve. Among them, was roasted garlic. 

Put the kids to work making garlic butter!
I had no idea it was a thing, and it was so delicious! You could pop a clove right in your mouth, or easily spread its buttery soft goodness on a cracker.

I don't know why I never attempted to make it. I know it takes forever to cook, but there isn't any real work involved, just patience.

Well, for my husband's birthday, he was adamant about wanting to try cooking crab legs for the first time. 

Can't have crab legs without garlic butter! 

Over the last month or two, we've been making our own butter for a few reasons. It's healthier, we also end up with fresh buttermilk, and the kids really enjoy shaking the crap out of the butter maker.

So to make garlic butter, we had to add 4 smashed garlic cloves to the shaker. Which means, I had to figure out how to roast garlic! 

During my research I found the most amazing information-- I could do it in my Instant Pot! For a fraction of the time it would take to do in the oven.

That's my kind of project!

Instant Pot Roast Garlic
makes one head

Full Garlic Bulb
Olive Oil
1 cup of water

Carefully cut the top off the bulb of garlic, exposing the cloves.

Place bulb on trivet with a cup of water in the bottom.

Cook on High for 8 minutes (be sure to seal vent!).

Natural Pressure Release for about 5-7 minutes, manual releasing any steam left.

Remove bulb of garlic and place in a baking dish or cooking sheet. Drizzle olive oil generously.

Broil for 3-5 minutes to brown, and enjoy!

I plan to do this quite often now, and smash it into mashed potatoes, pasta, hummus, oh the uses!! 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sweet Brunch Treats for Mom! Awesome Life Friday #159

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

So, now the best part of Awesome Life Friday -  the FEATURES!

Mother's Day is just a couple days away here in the US and there's still time to do a little something special for the day!  How about a sweet treat for a Mother's Day brunch? Check out these lovely possibilities.

Strawberry Daiquiri Mocktail // A Fireman's Wife
"I love having this fun drink that I can also include the kids in every year."

Fresh Strawberry Muffins // Home Made Lovely
"There's nothing quite like fresh, homemade baked goods. And this fresh strawberry muffin recipe is perfect for National Strawberry Month (which is May) or anytime!"

Glazed Cinnamon Bun Baked Donuts // Home Cooking Memories
"This Glazed Cinnamon Bun Baked Donuts recipe is baked in the oven, includes two delicious icings and a cinnamon topping that will make you swoon!"

Baked Oatmeal Cupcakes // Recipes Worth Repeating
"Full of the nutrition your body needs, these tasty cupcakes are easy to make and full flavor! And, these little cups are naturally Gluten Free!"

Carrot Cake Egg Crepes // Looney For Food
"Crush your carrot cake craving with this high protein, low carb treat. These carrot cake egg crepes pack a mighty 20 grams of protein and zero fat. In addition, you get all this for only 141 calories."

Strawberry Banana Breakfast Oats // Busy Being Jennifer
"And as much as I love my overnight oats, and I really, really love my overnight oats, some mornings just call for a warm and cozy sort of breakfast to start the day! This Strawberry Banana Breakfast Oats recipe is just the ticket!"

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Traveling Stuttgart: Pigs, Cars & History


The best way to travel, for me, is to give only passing attention to an area’s tourist attractions. They’re almost always disappointing after the build-up they get.

I will certainly go to see them , but the best times I have are spent with locals. Drive down the neighborhood streets. Notice schools and churches, eat at the local diner or pub. See those things that are the daily lives of the people who live where you are only passing by.

Our recent trip to Germany took us to half a dozen towns, villages and cities, where we accomplished just that. Lynda and I stayed with family on a US Army facility in Stuttgart, and used that as home base for traveling out to other towns within a few hours' drive.

This trip was a first for me—I’ve been to Canada and Mexico a couple of time each, but never to Europe. (Lynda has lived in Germany twice. Since our return, she’s remarked several times on how much fun it was for her to see it through my eyes.)

 While we left the city a few times to see other locations—Heidelberg, Rothenberg and Trier, along with Lynda’s high school hometown Zweibrucken—Stuttgart itself has a lot to offer. These were a few of the highlights I enjoyed:

The Schweinemuseum (Pig Museum): This was our very first stop as tourists in Germany, selected nearly at random after a quick Google search, and without doubt it was the most bizarre. The Pig Museum features statues, figurines, paintings and other paraphernalia all about pigs. It even has a small exhibition of pig-based erotica (no joke.) I was expecting something much more on the agricultural side rather than the bizarre, and ended up enjoying it more than I had expected to.

I sent a few of the odder pictures to an American friend whose husband is German, asking her to ask him why Germany would devote an entire museum to the subject. His response: “We like pigs.” What more can you say, I guess?

This continues to be one of the more memorable stops we made and should you find yourself in Stuttgart with a couple hours to kill, I recommend it!  The attached restaurant is a great place to stop for lunch - they specialize in, you guessed it, pork.

Porsche Museum: Stuttgart is the world headquarters of Porsche, and the exhibits in this museum track the company’s history from the late 19th Century forward. The cars on display here cover the company’s presence in motorsports, military applications and consumer sports cars. It includes a piece of the world’s first electric car, developed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1898. Even our granddaughters, who are not into cars at all, were entertained walking through the museum.

The Pink Pig - they really do like pigs.
Birkenkopf (Rubble Mountain): According to Wikipedia, most major cities in Germany have at least one of these hills made from World War II debris. At 130 feet above surface level, Birkenkopf is a mid-sized one.

My son-in-law Danny and I climbed it (“climbed” is a bit of an exaggeration, really—it’s a paved and easy walking path at about a 45-degree angle that spirals up the hill.) Most of the rubble is buried under soil, but at the top there are piles of stone with recognizable features as pieces of buildings that were destroyed by Allied bombs.

The weight of history is heavy up there if you pause to let it be.

Fernsehturm: Fernsehturm Stuttgart claims to be the world’s oldest TV tower, and truly is a Stuttgart landmark (you can read about Jackie's visits to it here). It rises 217 meters above Stuttgart, and features an observation deck and a café with spectacular views of the surrounding area. It was rainy the first time we tried to visit, but the second try found perfect viewing weather and the whole family took the elevator up.

From the observation deck, you can see the entire city, and the land for miles around. The deck is encircled with a rail marking compass points and degrees, so you can know which direction you’re looking with some precision. Other than the city itself, I didn’t really know what I was looking at, but it was breathtaking all the same.

We ended the visit with a pleasant dinner at the restaurant just as the sun was setting, bathing the room in rosy late-day light.

Individual points of interest aside, I felt a curious mix of discovery and familiarity in Stuttgart.

Aspects of it were foreign to me, reminding me I was on a different continent, in a different country than home. And yet, other than language, in many ways it didn’t feel that much different. American culture has some of its deepest roots in Europe, and over the centuries, as cultures diverged, America has returned to influence Europe. Subway sandwiches and Domino’s pizza are common in Stuttgart, competing with local restaurants serving traditional fare—which no doubt seems exotic to the locals.

My biggest takeaway is that I definitely plan to see to it that we visit again as soon as we can, armed with a little more knowledge about how to get around and enjoy the sites while taking life easy.  Coming soon, I'll share some of what I learned on this trip, provide some practical tips for the first-time European visitor, and give one serious warning I wish I'd known. Watch for it!