Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just a Little Vent Session...

I love facebook.
I love reading blogs.
I love pinterest.

Having said that... While on facebook the other day I ran across a post that confused me.  So I had to do a little investigating, and upon my investigation, what I found really upset me.   A fellow party planner, Creative Juice, planned and put together a Potty Party to celebrate their child finally being potty trained.  Any parent that has successfully gotten their child out of diapers knows what a BIG deal that is and what a huge accomplishment that can be, not only for the kid, but for mom and dad who NO LONGER have to drop $$$$$ on diapers!!!  Whoo Hooo!!!  Now, would I throw my kid a Potty Party... probably not.  We celebrated that milestone by going to Monster Jam.  To each their own.  And her party was amazing.  So cute... All the way from the cute little fondant undies that topped the cupcakes to the toilet paper wreath.  But then, some blogger found her party utterly annoying and disliked it so much that she felt the need to rip her a new one by posting about it on her blog called People I Want to Punch in The Throat.  Why would people even visit a blog with that name?  That is so distasteful!  She went on and on and on about how much she hated the idea of this party and just everything about it, that then other blog readers jumped on her band wagon and went on and on and on about how stupid they thought it was as well.  And if that wasn't bad enough, then they went over to the Creative Juice blog to then comment again about how stupid of a party they thought it was... just flat out ugly, rude, and disrespectful comments.  I just don't get how people can be so inconsiderate of other people's feelings.  What ever happened to the "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" standard or what about "treat others the way you want to be treated"?  I think too often people forget that their words can be so hurtful and damaging to a person's feeling of self worth. 

I guess this all just hit too close to home for me because now that I've got this gig on tv, it just reminded me of how people have NO filters and don't think before they speak... or as now with facebook, blogs, and even pinterest, they can hide behind typing.  People feel they can hide behind their computer screens and just lay it all out there, not even thinking of the damage their rude comments can have on others... when in all actuality, they would NEVER say anything like that to that person's face.  I knew going into this co-hosting job that I would need to get some pretty thick skin, because as hard at it is to believe, not everyone is going to like me.  (I know, crazy, huh?!)  But the first time I saw a rude comment about me on facebook, it stung.  A lot.  And I wish I could say there's only been one hater, but that would be a lie.  People must not think that the person they're bashing and tearing down has feelings, I guess, because I can't think of any other reason why they would do that, like what they have to say and their opinion is more important than the person's feelings they're trashing.  What do they have to gain from it all?  Does it make them feel better?  I know I should just ignore it all, but that's so hard to do.  They say, don't even check facebook... ummmm... do you even know me??  Like that would ever happen.  I know there will always be haters.  I can't control that... but I can control how I respond and react.  And that is something that Mindy of Creative Juice has done gracefully.  She has had so much support from other party gals and even got her party featured on Hostess With the Mostess!  That's amazing! 

So why?  Why even go there?  If you don't like it (or someone in my case), keep it to yourself.  Instead of tearing each other down, how about we give a little praise?  Would that kill ya?  Or how about we just keep our sweet little pie holes shut...
If only the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" were true...
It couldn't be any further from the truth...
Words hurt.  Words sting.  Words suck sometimes.  

So, how about for 2012, we think before we speak.
I'm so thankful that I haven't had any P-n-P haters and I'm thankful for each and every one of my blog followers and facebook fans. They're the best.

So, from now on...
Anyone who feels the need to bash me and say ugly things to me via ciLiving's facebook page or e-mail will get the following response from me... "Bless your heart.  Have a nice day!"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jillian's hello kitty Party

 Let me start this post by saying...
I pulled this party together in 24 hours.

This is the MOST unprepared I have ever been when planning a party and I have to blame the birthday girl.  She kept going back and forth on what kind of party she wanted, so finally the week before her birthday I asked her one final time... and she said hello kitty, so that is what we did!  She kept going back and forth between hello kitty and Barbie, and then she'd throw in a party at a hotel (what?) and then she'd want a Christmas holiday party... so you can see my frustration.  Typical girl.  
So, with a little help from pinterest and my mama, this is what I pulled together!  I think it turned out pretty cute!

{Cake Table}

 I found the idea for these cute hello kitty lanterns on pinterest here.  She made them using poms, but I thought this would be a little easier, and they were!  Cut out the eyes, ears, and mouth and then used black pipe cleaners for the whiskers.

I really wanted a ruffle cake, but just didn't feel confident enough to make one myself and with not a lot of time on my side... I outsourced!  And I think it turned out GREAT!  Lori with Hawthorn Suites here in Champaign made this cake for me and the super cute cupcakes.  The cake was just as delicious as it was gorgeous.  It had a yummy strawberry-bavarian cream filling on the inside!  You can go LIKE her on facebook here and check out some of her other cake creations!  Be sure to tell her Pirates-n-Princesses sent ya!

How stinkin' cute are these cookies from Fairytale Sweets?
Brittany whipped these up for me and I think she did such an amazing job!  I'm pretty sure Brock ate like 3 or 4 of them.  If you are local and have any cookie needs, you should totally look her up!  And even if you aren't local, you can still ohhh and ahhh over her adorable cookie creations here on facebook.

Now... who's seen these adorable crepe paper ruffled streamers out there in blogland and pinterest?  Cute, huh?  Apparently they are not as quick and easy to whip out as other bloggers make it appear.  Me, having ZERO sewing skills, asked my mom to help me with this project, and thankfully she always does, but apparently these are a little more time consuming than I thought they should be.  I had big plans for them to go over a span of two windows, but after 2 hours and only  10 three feet long streamers and party time quickly approaching, we had to go to plan B and put them over the back door, which luckily turned out just fine!  But if you know the trick to making these little puppies quicker, PLEASE share!

Again, thanks to pinterest, found the idea for the treat bags here.  And since we kept her party just family, I only had to make and fill four of them, not that they were hard, these were super easy.

At the kids table I set out some hello kitty crayons and coloring sheets, that again, thanks to pinterest, I found here.  Then each kiddo got to take a little hello kitty stuffed animal home with them.

And what party wouldn't be complete without a balloon or two?

This party was actually fairly easy to pull together since I think I kept it fairly simple.  I used a lot of stuff that I already had at home, so I didn't need to buy a whole lot of stuff, which is always nice.  It was a nice family gathering and at the end of the day when I tucked my sweet birthday girl in her big girl bed, she told me she loved her party and that she had the best time....which makes it all worth it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yummy Lasagna Soup

  (photo via A Farm Girl's Dabbles)

If you LOVE lasagna, you must give this soup I found from A Farm Girl's Dabbles blog a try!  It's amazing and the perfect comfort food for those chilly days or nights!  And it was really easy to throw together, which is always a bonus in my book! 

So, here's what mine looked like, since I couldn't find the noodles called for in the recipe, but these noodles were fun and I'd never had them before, or even heard of them for that matter.

 My version

 Have you ever heard of these???  
Or am I just noodle-sheltered?

And here is proof that this soup is GOOD...
Check out who's eating it...

And I can NEVER get them to eat soup of any kind.
Proof positive that you must try this out tonight!

Lasagna Soup
(recipe via A Farm Girl's Dabbles)

8 Servings
for the soup:
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage (I used 2 pounds)
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta (You saw what I used...)  :)
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves (I just tossed in a few shakes of some dry basil)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (didn't even need any!)

for the cheesy yum:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Overnight Caramel French Toast

Thanks so much for following my little blog and liking me on facebook!  I know with working now that my blog has been on a little hiatus, but have I got a treat for you today!  Awhile back, we went down to southern Illinois to visit my hubby's grandma.  While we were there, his grandma's friend, Charlene, invited us over to her lovely house for breakfast and let me just tell you... it was a SPREAD!  Everything was delicious and why wouldn't it be when Charlene used to own and operate her own little successful restaurant???  One item on the menu was this Overnight Caramel French Toast.  De-Lish.  (And is it caramel or carmel... is there really a difference?  Kinda like tomato-tomatoe??) I guess it doesn't really matter how you say it, because it is amazing!  I finally got a chance to make it this weekend down at my aunt's house in Kentucky for all my family, and it was a hit!  

So, here it is all Pre-Powdered Sugared Up...

And then another glimpse with the powdered sugar.

If you LOVE bread pudding, you will LOVE this french toast.  If you don't like that consistency that bread pudding has, well, you will still like this recipe, just eat the top slice of bread rather than a bottom slice!  It was really easy to throw together, and best part, you can make it the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning.  And, no syrup required for this toast, it's caramel-gooey yumminess takes care of the usual syrup requirement!  Now, those of you starting diets to keep in line with your New Year's resolutions... may want to just drool over the photos, not exactly dieter friendly...unless of course you are going to do a little working out that afternoon!  
You should totally GO FOR IT!

Overnight Caramel French Toast
Caramel Sauce:
1 stick of butter
1 C. brown sugar
2 Tbsp light karo syrup

Loaf of French bread (next time I might try sourdough, or you could even use Texas toast) cut into 12 slices
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 eggs
1 1/2 C milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 C sugar

Grease 9X13 pan.  In a saucepan, bring butter, karo syrup, and brown sugar to a boil and then pour into 9X13 pan.  (I doubled this caramel sauce, but I may try it next time without doing that since I'm not a HUGE mushy bread fan, even though it was good)  Top with 6 slices of bread.  Mix the 1/4 C. sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle on top of bread, reserving some to top on remaining 6 slices.  Put remaining bread slices on top and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar.  Mix up the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar and pour over the top of the bread.  Cover and pop it in the fridge overnight.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top before serving.