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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cheesecake Pops

Kat and I love cheesecake!  Topped with strawberries, slathered in caramel, swirled in chocolate.... even just plain is yummy!  So of course, when we started making cake pops Kat's first desire was to one day make a CHEESECAKE POP.  Well, Kat, it's taken me a full year to get the courage to try it out!  But here you go..... your very own Cheesecake Pop!

What you have to do is first buy a cheesecake.  You could make one from scratch, but I'm impatient.  So I bought one.  Costco has lovely huge cheesecakes so you can make LOTS of these pops!  Okay, so make sure your cheesecake is nicely chilled.

Then take your handy-dandy mini scoop -- we like the Oneida cookie scoop pictured above -- and scoop balls of cheesecake, putting them on a plate and then chilling them in the fridge again.  We used only the filling, leaving the crust alone.  Snack for later!

(Click the photo for step-by-step melting & dipping instructions with pics!)

While the cheesecake balls of yumminess are chilling, you will want to prepare your candy melts.  Put a bag of melts into your melting pot, set the pot on "melt" and stir frequently 'til it's nice and smooth.  Switch the pot to "warm".

(Click the photo for a link to video instructions for dipping!)

Then remove the cheescake balls from the fridge, stick the sticks in them, and start dipping!  Tap off the excess chocolate and set the pops in a stand to dry.  They'll dry quickly because they're so cold.  Once they're dry, wrap them lollipop bags and put them in the fridge or freezer.

If you like, you can dip in one color and then dip in a second color.  Add some nuts like we did and then some sprinkles to make them pretty.  Or just eat them right away!  Just remember, once they're dipped, you'll want to keep them in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to enjoy them.

When it's finally time to eat, just pull them out and take a bite!  Mmmmmmm.... cheesecake.....

~ Pia

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baby James Said What?

The "Said What" journal by Coo Coo Concepts is such a great product!  Simple to maintain, bright and cheery to look at, and customizable, this is the perfect place to keep your baby's precious first words and favorite phrases.  Its pages are chock full of journaling blocks where you write down what Baby said, when he said it, and little details such as the date and location.  It's a must-have for every little one's keepsake collection.

This is the back cover.  And what it says is so true!  My kids said so many things when they were just learning to talk that I wish I could've kept a record of -- I would love to be able to read those little phrases now, as I can only remember a few any more.  What's nice is this book is a softcover paperback that will fit in a diaper bag.  So it's super easy to carry with you and just pull out whenever Baby says something you want to keep!

The front cover is customizable with a place to write Baby's name.  You can be as plain or as fancy as you like.  We went for a clean and clear print for Baby James' book and added a little heart for good measure!

The pages contain journaling blocks of different sizes -- small for those one-word or two-word phrases, medium for short sentences, and whole-page blocks for stories (as Baby gets older!).

I like that there's a space to write down who was there at the time.  It's always nice to look back and remember who spent time with Baby!

I don't know about you, but as my kids got older, I found that they loved to ramble on and tell stories that were just precious to listen to.  These full-page blocks are the perfect place to write these stories down so they can read them later.  Maybe even get them to tell you a story, write it here, and then use it as a bedtime story once in a while!

The book is sprinkled with whimsical illustrations of fantasy characters.  Fun!  This sure beats my hodgepodge of notecards and sticky notes!

The drawings are of characters that all little boys and girls like, so you don't have to worry about whether this book is for a boy or a girl -- it's for ALL children!

Visit Casey's website by clicking on the photo above.  You can share your little one's words and phrases, and read about what other little angels are saying, too!

I can't wait to see how my Chrisi fills up her journal, and what Baby James has to say when he starts talking.    If he's anything like his Mommy, it's going to be very entertaining!  :)

~ Pia

Thursday, April 19, 2012

French Toast Kebabs!

This is amazingness....  Definitely gotta try it!  Mmmmm.....

But for ME, not Dad (God rest his soul).  Though you can make it for your dad if you like.  :)

Click the photo to see the recipe.  Enjoy!

Thank you, Martha Stewart!

~ Pia

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An Excuse to Eat Pie

Happy Pi Day!  I am not a mathematician.  I am not really all that into pie.  But I am a homeschooler (I can still claim that title even though all my kids are grown, right?).  And when my son was 7 years old (15 years ago), he found out that March 14th is Pi Day.  He was so delighted that he took it upon himself to try to memorize the value of Pi to as many digits as he could.  He found a website that showed Pi to 50,000 digits.  Ummm, yeah, he had his work cut out for him!  And he decided that we just had to do all sorts of fun things with Pi for school that day.

I don't have any clue as to why Pi held such a fascination for him.  It didn't tickle my girls in the least.  The best thing about Pi Day for them was that they got to have pie that day.  But Ricky was enamored.  He looked up the history of Pi.  He did mathematical calculations using Pi.  And yes, he ate pie -- at 1:59pm.  You know, 3.14159 (3/14 at 1:59pm).  Yes, he loved him some Pi.

Was Ricky a budding mathematician?  No, but he did love computers.  Did he grow to become a statistician?  No, but he kept his love for computers (mostly programming), graduated high school at age 15, and became a Marine at age 19.  Am I a proud mama?  Yep.  Can you tell?  Ha ha!

Why his childhood infatuation with Pi?  I have no idea.  But it was fun watching him learn.  And it's one of my favorite "Ricky" memories.  I don't think he even noticed that today is Pi Day, except for my post on his Facebook wall.  But even if he doesn't keep celebrating Pi Day, I will continue to have a slice of pie on March 14th at 1:59pm each year in his honor.  And one day, I will tell his children the story of when their daddy loved Pi.  And it will be a beautiful page in our family history.  All because of a little boy and his delight with a mathematical concept.

Thanks, Ricky, for showing me just how much fun learning can be.  I enjoyed my German Chocolate Pie from Marie Callender's just for you.  Kat had a slice of apple pie with a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream on top.  But I think that was probably for her own enjoyment and didn't have anything to do with her big brother.  And that's okay, too!

How about all of you?  Did you celebrate Pi Day today?

~ Pia

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grain Free Crackers

I must try these crackers!

I love sesame seeds.  Absolutely love them.  So nutty and flavorful and yummy!  When we get those Pub Mix snacks from Costco, I dive right in for the sesame seed snackers.  But of course, there are never enough for my liking.  So I was totally excited to find this recipe online!

They're crackers made with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, garlic, sea salt, and water.  That's it!  I can't wait to head to the store for my ingredients and then bake up a whole stash of these babies.

Mmmmm, I can almost taste the yumminess now.....

~ Pia

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I Want a Kitchen

Want to see kitchens to drool over?  Click the photo!

I never thought I would be pining away after a kitchen.  I don't cook, really.  Well, I bake.  Cake pops, mostly.  But I do that in a commercial kitchen. Cooking meals at home?  That's almost beyond my comprehension.  Almost, but not anymore!

Home cooking and I have never really been on a first name basis, even though my mom was a dietitian.  I must know how to cook maybe a dozen dishes.  And steamed rice.  But that's in a rice cooker, so does that count as cooking?

We have been eating fast food for almost five months, and are seriously craving real food.  You know, a sit down supper.... mashed potatoes, chicken, corn, salad, bread...... anything besides burgers or tacos or hot dogs.  I would even be willing to learn to cook some of this real food.  Really!  Just let me have a kitchen, ha ha.

We moved into a rental in October -- not a rental house, but a room in a house.  Kat's medical bills have been growing and surgery is a possibility in the near future, so we decided to downsize.  Not a bad idea, and it was for a good reason.  So we moved.  And mostly, it's been okay.  Except for the kitchen -- and the bathroom, but that's another story.  But back to the kitchen, which we have access to only during the day while the family is at work and/or school.  Since we are also at work and/or school most of that time, it is a little bit difficult.  Add to that the fact that one member of the owner's household is allergic to quite a few things (including latex, and I can't do dishes without rubber gloves), we haven't been given a tour of the cabinets so we're not sure that we're even allowed to use any of the pans, dishes, utensils, etc., and everything needs to be back in its place before they all get home, as though none of it had been used, and things get a lot more complicated.  Ha ha, we feel like kitchen fairies whenever we are even home to use the kitchen, which is kind of fun the first time or two.  And then the game gets old.

So it's time to get creative. Your tips on cooking without a kitchen are very welcome!  We have access to a toaster oven and a microwave, and we have a mini-fridge with our landlord's blessing.  Ideas?  Recipes?  Any help you can give will be gladly accepted!

~ Pia

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2012 Academy Awards and a Craftsyble Feature

This year's Academy Awards show is on October 26th, and we are pleased to announce that our business cards will be included in the swag bags that will be gifted to 100 celebrities in the GBK Gift Lounge!  We are so very excited!  This is all thanks to a prestigious organization, The Artisan Group (not in any way affiliated with the Academy Awards), that represents over 700 artisans worldwide.  The Artisan Group is a juried group -- artisans have to be approved for membership -- so you can bet the handcrafted items that are included in the swag bags are top notch!  We are in very good company, and what a fabulous opportunity for our little cake pop shop to be noticed by the wonderful Hollywood crowd!

Because of our participation in the Oscars Gift Lounge, we have been featured by Craftsyble.com!  Please check out our feature here:  Cake Pop Fusion on Craftsyble and if you feel so inclined, we would sure love it if you leave a comment for the author.  :)  For those who are not familiar with the site (I know I wasn't until just recently), Craftsyble is a fantastic resource for crafters and artisans.  There is a wealth of information there, including how to sell on Etsy and how to use social media to your advantage.  I will absolutely be exploring that site more thoroughly!  I am so happy to have been introduced to it!  While you're there, check out the other artisans who are featured.  You will be amazed at their creativity and the wonderful quality of their work!

~ Pia

Friday, February 17, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

Last week, Kat's car had taken to squeaking when we drove it -- a screeching, grate on your nerves kind of sound.  Uh-oh.  Her boyfriend added power steering fluid (and other important car stuff) and took a quick look, and we crossed our fingers that all was well. The squeaking got better, but then the grinding began.  Big uh-oh.  It got so bad that the car had a hard time taking corners.  So we parked the car on Tuesday and I insisted that she get a ride to school for Wednesday and Thursday.  She called our friend, Sam to see if he could check it out for her (he is the awesome guy who taught her how to drive and then offered to look at her car whenever she needs it) and he said to bring it over on Thursday.  That was yesterday.  Her boyfriend gingerly drove the car the couple of miles from our house (we live on a hill!) to Sam's and hoped for the best.

Last night, Kat got home and told me that the brakes were almost worn completely away.  Sam had told her that they were ready to give out completely.  Oh my gosh, that was just too close for comfort, you know?  She said that Sam put new brakes on and we should be good for about a year and a half.  Whew!  And then Kat gave me the rest of the story:  not only had Sam fixed her car, but he did it for free!  Seriously!  FREE!!  She had asked how much we owe him, and he told her that since she babysits for his kids every now and again he was happy to do it for nothing.  Mind you, Kat has only watched his kids a handful of times and they are the sweetest kids ever.  We definitely got the better end of the deal on this one, and we are soooooo grateful to him for his generosity and kindness!

This brings us to the coincidence of the week.... today just happens to be Random Acts of Kindness Day!  No, really!  I opened my computer and was notified of this fact.  What a coincidence!  Sam did a wonderfully random act of kindness for us yesterday, and today is RAK Day.  I love when that happens!

So when were you blessed with a random act of kindness?  Or when have you given one away to someone else?  We would love to hear about your experience!

~ Pia

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wait. WHAT day is it today??

Custom silicone wristbands!

Happy "Don't Cry over Spilled Milk" Day!  Did you know there was such a thing?  I had no idea!  Until I opened up my web news today and saw it, that is.  And then I got excited!

Not because I like milk, mind you.  I don't.  Ewwww.  Milk is gross.  Wait.  Let me clarify.  White milk is gross.  Wait.  I like white milk in recipes and in my cereal.  I like chocolate milk and strawberry milk and banana milk.  I love milkshakes, even vanilla.  But white milk that you make me drink straight from a glass or a carton -- with no flavoring! -- is gross.  At least, to me.

When I was in preschool (or maybe it was kindergarten), my teacher used to make us drink a whole glass of white milk before we could go out to recess.  I couldn't do it.  It was just too much for me to drink.  So I spent a lot of recess periods sitting inside, staring at the plastic "glass" of milk in front of me, willing it to disappear so I could go out to play.  It never did, of course.  And I never got to go out to play.  Yeah, yeah, poor me!  Don't worry, I learned to sneak to the sink and dump it down the drain sometimes when my teacher wasn't looking.  I don't condone that behavior, it's just what I did to "survive".  Bad, bad Pia!  See that glass above?  Picture it in red.  That was the dreaded milk glass (but it was plastic).  To this day, I can't bring myself to drink from cups like this.  Aw, totally traumatized, ha ha!

In elementary school, we used to get cartons of milk with our lunches.  I told the cafeteria ladies that I was allergic to milk, so they stopped putting it on my tray.  But on the days when we had chocolate milk, I was happy to take it.  Hmmmm..... what happened to my "allergy"....?  Must've been only allergic to white milk!  I guess they really knew I wasn't allergic and just didn't push the issue.  If I didn't want to drink the milk, why force me, right?  I loved my cafeteria ladies!  They had my back!

But today is not about literally spilling milk and then crying (or NOT crying!) over it.  Today is about looking at a situation and finding the best in it.  What's done is done.  You can't change it, only move on from it.  In other words, clean up the spill and go out to play!  There is way too much in this world that will drag you down if you let it.  Don't let it.  Look to the bright side of things.  Are you too sick to go to work or school today?  Use your bed rest to dig into that book you've been meaning to read.  Paycheck's all spent and you have no cash to take your kids to the zoo?  Talk a walk in the park with them or play ball in the backyard; all they really want is your undivided attention, and that's free!

Kat bought one of these for her friend's birthday.  Too cool!

They say optimists live longer, happier lives.  I think that's true.  People who look at the bright side have lower stress levels than those who don't.  Stress shortens lives and makes the lives we have left miserable.  I'm not the greatest at being optimistic, but I'm learning.  So I'm going to celebrate "Don't Cry over Spilled Milk" Day and remind myself that no matter what happens today I always have tomorrow to look forward to!

Want to celebrate today?  Click the photos below for some fun milk recipes!

Tres Leches Cake

Caramelized Banana in Coconut Milk

Avocado Milk Shake

Leche Flan (Condensed Milk Custard)

Vanilla Ice Cream and more

Now, maybe I'll go have a milkshake.  ;)

~ Pia

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good-bye, GFC.... Hello, LF!

I opened up Facebook this morning and saw a post from a fellow artisan announcing that Google Friend Connect (GFC) is going the way of the dinosaur in March.  What??  I love my GFC!  But my artisan friend went on to say that there's a new kid in town... Linky Followers.  So even though GFC will be no more, we will still be able to connect with each other and subscribe to one another's blogs.  We just have to do it via Linky Followers.  No problem!  I like the name already!  And it's an easy click, just like GFC.  So here we go!

To subscribe via Linky Followers, just look in our sidebar on the left there.  You'll see this:

Simply click "Follow Me" and we're all set!  Leave us your blog link in the comments section below and we'll happily follow you back!

Thank you so much for being our GFC friends.  We look forward to being LF buddies, too!

~ Pia

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pinterest Yummies

I just LOVE Pinterest, don't you?  Here are a few of the tasty treats I saw there today.  When I have my own home kitchen again, I am going to try these!  Click the photo to be taken to the recipe for each one.  :)

Double Decker Stripey Valentine Cookies

Strawberry Honey Butter

Nutella Ice Cream

Individual Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes

German Chocolate Cupcakes
Have fun!  Let me know if you try any, and what you think!

~ Pia

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feeling Nostalgic

Ever have those moments when you just want to sit and reminisce about days gone by?  This is one of those for me.  Thoughts of favorite childhood things are floating through my consciousness..... so I thought I would share.  Walk with me down Memory Lane!  :)

Ah, the classic Grandfather's Teaching Clock toy by Fisher Price!  I remember playing this soothing song over and over again.  It comes back to me when I least expect it, and it makes me happy.  :)  Want to give it a listen?  Try this:

Thank you to Niihau2000 for posting this on YouTube!  You made my day.

This is an exact copy of my own Winnie the Pooh doll!  The listing calls it "vintage", ha ha.... guess I am getting up there in years!  When I was in 4th grade, my teacher had a ginormous Winnie the Pooh doll sitting on the classroom counter.  The doll wore a tri-corner hat (presumably because that was our bicentennial year) and it was awesome.  The doll, not the hat.  Well, okay, the hat, too, I suppose.  Anyway, all I wanted for Christmas that year was a Winnie the Pooh doll.  And guess what!  Santa brought me one!  Yep!!  My Pooh bear now has a lopsided face -- I always slept with him on the same side, so I sort of smashed his face a little -- and lots of stitch repairs at his seams, but he is loved every bit as much today as he was in 1976.

Tra-la-la, La-la-la-la, Tra-la-la, La-la-la-la!  Who remembers the Banana Splits?  They were a Saturday morning staple at my house!  How about revisiting their TV show with me?

Hmmmm..... this explains a lot about my sense of humor....  Thank you to ShinyPlanet for posting this video on YouTube!

A metallic Christmas tree with a color wheel!  We didn't have the blue ornaments on ours -- we used an assortment of ornaments.  The wheel rotated so that the tree lit up with different colors.  How cool is that?

I got a Tippy Tumbles for Christmas when I was about 5.  I was memserized...

Of course, we had a Radio Flyer red wagon in the house!  I have a photo of myself sitting in it, looking at a record jacket, in front of our stereo.  My most vivid memory of this wagon is the silver stuff that always got all over my hands when I played with it.  :)

And our final stop on this Memory Lane jaunt....

Nancy Drew Mystery books!!  My absolute favorite reading material as a child.  I was thrilled when my eldest daughter fell in love with these, too.  In fact, she read my original set of books!

I wonder what kinds of childhood items my own kids -- all of whom are grown now -- will remember when they get to be my age?

Thanks for coming with me today.  Have a great Wednesday!

~ Pia

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's New Wednesday -- My Grandson!

Chrisi had her baby!  Yes, I am officially a Lola (that's Grandma in Tagalog/Filipino).  Isn't he beautiful?  His name is James, after his father, and he turned one month old last week.  I can't stop looking at him.  That little face..... those beautiful eyes.... that nose & mouth just like his mommy's.... I swell with pride whenever I see him.

James is my very first grandbaby.  I never imagined how wonderful it would be to be a Lola.  Now I totally understand why my mom insisted on spoiling my kids rotten!  I want to do the same for James -- I can't help myself.  Every cute little baby boy thing I see, I think to myself, "James has to have that" or, "wow, that would be perfect for baby James."  

I have the urge to start a Baby James fund so I can buy the fun things I see for him or help pay for things he might need.  I want to send him little cards and letters even though I know he can't read yet.  Yes, I've given in to this urge already.  I want to put away dollar bills to slip him when his mom isn't looking (ha ha, my mom and my own Lola used to do that to my kids when they thought I couldn't see them).

I've already bought his Easter present!  Yes, Easter is at least three months away and his gift is already bought.  Kat and I picked the hat on the right, of course, since James is a boy.  I can hardly wait to see it on him!  Sandie of Knitzy Blonde is sending it to him next week in case Chrisi wants him to wear it in any pics with the Easter bunny and stuff.  Hand knit, custom made, just for baby James!  Nah, he's not at all spoiled... yet!

And I bought these ultra cool bottle bands (in ocean blue) from Swanky Press to put in his Easter basket.  They're reusable, sterilizable, dishwasher safe, and personalized!  And they'll fit most sport bottles, too, so he can use them even when he's outgrown his baby bottle & sippy cup!  So awesome!!

There's more..... I'm still shopping..... Oh my goodness, are all grandmothers like this??

~ Pia