Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wine Cork Place Card Holders

I was quite the busy little beaver today.  I had a list of unfinished projects that I checked off one at a time.   I have such a feeling of satisfaction.

Among the projects today was to finish a birthday present.  I actually started this project back in February when I put a plea on FB for wine corks.  It took a few mentions, but sure enough they started pouring in.  My friend Amy mailed them to me, and another local Oneonta friend handed me a whole bag full of corks. 

So what was my project?? It was actually two fold.  First I was making a trivet and needed eight corks for that.  Secondly I was making place card holders. Place card holders??? Let me explain.

I have a relative who shall remain nameless, that sets a beautiful holiday table.  After setting this wonderful table, our seats are designated with post-it notes.  Yes, those yellow sticky notes.  Sigh....so I saw these really really cute place card holders made from wine corks.  I believe I saw them in Williams-Sonoma (one of my favorite stores).  The only catch was, they were $4.95 a piece. 

I needed at least a dozen, and no matter how cute they were, I couldn't rationalize spending that.  This is how I came about asking, begging, pleading for wine corks (the one's made of real cork).

After collecting my stash, it was quite simple to do.  I took craft knife and sliced a thin amount off the bottom to make it flat.  This way the cork won't roll around on the table.  Then very carefully and with patience, start to make a slice in the top of the cork.  This is were the card stock will sit.  You want to work in small cuts, being careful not to split the cork in half.

 After scoring it deep enough and carving out the cork slit, test it with a piece of card stock to make sure the card will stay in place. I printed names of our family and left a few blank ones as well.  I really hope she likes it :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Another blogging year has passed and My Little Blogspot is changing it up again.  Say goodbye to Cookie Corner and hello to Project Pie.  This will be a journey we take together because truth be told, I am not a great pie maker.

I can do a standard apple pie, I have Tracy's strawberry pie in my arsenal, and a few cream pies.  Yup that is just about it.  Pie is the one baked good that has always eluded me.  Sounds silly right?  Actually making a really good pie is an art.  In fact, an art that our grandmother's have cornered.  Nothing really compares to grandma's pie.

The first pie to be featured is a creamy peanut butter pie.  A very good friend of our family, Mrs. Krieger, gave me this recipe about 18 years ago.  She used to make it for her late husband, almost weekly.  (She's also the source of my easy peanut butter cookies.)

This pie is so super easy.  It took about 5 minutes to prepare, and a few hours in the freezer.  All you need is a large bowl and a hand mixer.  Go ahead and give this a pie a try ;)


4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. powder sugar
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/4 c. milk
8 oz. container of whipped topping, thawed
1 graham cracker crust, store bought or home made

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, powder sugar, and peanut butter until smooth, using a mixer.  Slowly add the milk, blend.  Next fold in the whipped topping until well blended.  Pour filling into the pie crust and place in the freezer for several hours.  Allow to thaw about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

filling before folding in whipped topping

**If you want to get extra fancy, drizzle with chocolate syrup and whipped cream**

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Project Riverside Elementary

Most of the time I use my blog to vent frustrations, silly quirks, or just plain harass my husband.  He's normally a good sport about it.  Today, in all seriousness I have to say I am very proud of Jay.

Every summer Lowe's Heroes does a community project.  In previous years they have donated playgrounds and help to build rails for a therapeutic horse academy.  This year the project is very personal.  Lowe's Heroes built an outdoor picnic area for a local elementary.  It is personal because this is the new school my boys will attend in the fall.

With a collaborative effort from Riverside's principal, Melinda Murdock, and a creative team at Lowe's this project came together nicely.  The original request was for picnic tables.  That would have been simple enough, but Lowe's wanted to do more.  So it was decided to make a 24'x24' patio, fitted with four canopies, and 6 picnic tables.  Enough space to enjoy an outdoor lunch for a class or two, or a workspace for an activity.

This morning the Lowe's delivery truck made its appearance to drop off all the supplies.....

Say Hi to William (delivery truck driver)

digging out the patio area

painting the picnic tables

Adam helping load the stones

laying the patio block

building the canopies

coming together

After the picnic tables are finished drying, Riverside's new outdoor picnic area will be good to go!  I also need to mention all the volunteers worked through down pouring rain!  Lowe's will also be donating curtains for the windows in the gym.  This way assemblies can be held in there without the intrusion from glaring sun.

Another note:  Greater Plains Elementary won the $5,000 grant from Toolbox For Education.  Next weekend they will be building a garden area. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lowe's Heroes Will Pay A Visit To Riverside Elementary

I have blogged over the last few months about the school budget crisis in our town.  In the end, the tax increase needed to keep Center Street Elementary open was voted down.

I have to give credit to all the teachers, staff, and parents for making the last days at Center Street truly memorable for the kids.  There were fabulous activities planned, and everyone enjoyed themselves.  Now we are moving on to a new school and a new adventure.

My boys were assigned to Riverside Elementary.  We found out Adam will have a male teacher this year.  We are excited, especially seeing Adam wants to be a teacher himself one day.  We are also excited for Brandon to begin kindergarten.  While I have mixed emotions about my baby going to school, I am looking forward to all the great memories he will make.

So far, we are very pleased with the introduction we have received at Riverside.  The principal is very "hands-on" and welcoming to questions and new ideas.

As many of you know, Jay is the store manager for the Lowe's in Oneonta...... that is what brought us to this town.  Every year Lowe's Heroes runs a volunteer program to improve the local community.  This year, Lowe's will be paying a visit to Riverside Elementary.  I don't want to spoil the surprise as to what is coming, but I will give a hint.  It involves improvement to the outdoor area of the school. 

The project is set to be underway in a few weeks.  After it is done I will post pictures and give more details.  We are so excited to be a part of this great idea!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Brag About It

Last year, my friend Amy told me about a shop on Etsy called Brag About It.  This very sweet woman, Melissa, makes hand stamped, personalized jewelry.  So, I checked it out.  Very cute things. 

Amy had ordered a few pieces for herself and gifts for the holidays.  She was very happy with her purchases.  I totally trust Amy's opinion on things like this.  First of all, she is very honest, loves a good deal, but not if it sacrifices quality.  So, if she said it was good, it must be ;)

Well, I have been browsing the site every now and then.  I liked the Face Book page too.  This way I get updated on new designs or sales.  Yes I said SALES!!!

About a month ago, I took the plunge and ordered myself a necklace.  I fell in love with her design called "My Boys"...how appropriate, right?!  I had an Etsy conversation with Melissa to do some tweaking to my order.  I added a longer chain and birthstones.  The additional cost was minimal.  I also placed the order during a sale, YIPPEE!

I received my piece, and it is wonderful.  I can wear it casually with jeans, shorts, sundresses etc.  I was so pleased, that I placed an order for someone on my holiday gift list.  I'm pretty sure she doesn't follow my blog, but just in case I won't mention who;)

I highly recommend following Brag About It on FB to catch the sales.  Also don't be afraid of changing an item listed, to make it truly yours.  The owner is great to work with.  Happy Shopping!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Classic Blueberry Muffins

Last night a vote was cast for breakfast.  On the menu was toads, snails, or blueberry muffins.  While Adam's little friend voted for toads with ice cream, blueberry muffins won.  So this morning, I whipped up a batch of classic blueberry muffins.  However, I did experiment with my new trio of vanillas.

While I was in Buffalo, I visited one of my most favorite stores, Williams-Sonoma...sigh.  I could spend hours there.  If only I had that million dollar inheritance, I could afford a lot more there too.  I did splurge on the trio of vanilla.  For years I have used the Madagascar Bourbon, and I really love the taste of it.   For today, I chose the Tahitian vanilla.  It pairs nicely with fruit items or non-baked foods, such as whipped cream. 

For the muffins, I bet you have all the ingredients in your pantry and freezer.  It is really simple, but that is why this recipe is so nice.  The blueberries and vanilla really have a chance to shine.

recipe (12 muffins)

2 c. flour
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
2 eggs
6 tbsp. melted butter, cooled
1 c. milk
1 c. frozen blueberries
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a standard muffin tin with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a large measuring cup whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly pour in milk mixture.  With a spoon or spatula, carefully mix batter until just combined.  Fold in blueberries.

Scoop batter into the muffin tin.  Fill about 3/4 full.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  Allow to cool on a rack.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nowak's Take Manhattan (Part Deux)

While I was on blogging hiatus a lot happened.  I kept taking pictures, writing recipes, and journaling so I would be able to share. 

Back in December we took the boys to New York City for the first time.  You can check out this post: Nowak's Take Manhattan to see all of our first adventure.  Well, for Mother's Day, Jay surprised me with another trip to New York City.  We had already talked about taking the boys back in the spring or fall sometime, but I honestly wasn't expecting another trip so soon.

This trip was wonderful.  We learned from our first experience.  To eliminate Jay suffering from what I term "GPS Brain", I drove.  We made it to Poughkeepsie, in one piece and a bit early.  I overcame a fear of driving on bridges, and I managed to find the parking ramp on the first try (instead of driving in circles for 30 minutes). 

Arriving at the hotel, was like coming home, well to a second home.  Jay and I have always fantasized about buying property in the city.  After scouting out possible areas I would like to live, I have discovered it will remain a fantasy, unless I inherit a few million dollars.  Anyway, we settled into the hotel for the night.  The next morning, to save on money we ate breakfast in the hotel room. I packed shelf stable milk boxes, cereal, granola bars, etc.  We chilled them overnight in the fridge, and voila....saved about $25 on breakfast.

So let the adventure truly begin!  Jay was off to the visit the World Trade Center Memorials, while I took the boys to the American Museum of Natural History.  We ventured to our subway stop together.  Jay checked the train we were to get on, and then went the opposite direction to his destination.  Seems great right??  Well the hitch was the B train was not running.  So I punted and got on another train going the same direction.  This would have been OK, but I got on an express.  So as we were cruising by our stop, and then the next 6 to 7 stops, I started to worry.

Where did we wind up??? In the Bronx :)  A wonderful local girl in her 20's got us going on the correct train, and we made it to the museum just as they were opening.  We enjoyed the planetarium show and the dinosaurs. 

In the meantime, Jay was trying to get ahold of us to notify me of the subway change.  Yeah, I couldn't get reception in the museum, so we were without communication for about 3 hours.  After finally, getting ahold of us, we met outside the museum and headed to Central Park.  I did ask Jay what he was going to do if he couldn't find us....he replied with, " I was going to get a hot dog, cause I was hungry, then I would have called the police."  Thanks Jay, your stomach comes first ;)

At first I wasn't going to confess our subway mishap, then Jay told me about his little trip.  After changing trains, and going in the wrong direction, he wound up in Harlem.  See the great adventures we have!

On to Central Park.  It's beautiful and the boys loved playing there.  We even took a few rides on the carousel.

After our glorious day in the park, we took the boys to Time Square at night.  Brandon was convinced it was still daytime.  The next day, we sailed around Manhattan for a Mother's Day brunch cruise.  The food was fabulous, I experienced my first mimosa, and the boys were on their best behavior.  The perfect Mother's Day :)

So is our New York City adventure complete??? Not quite yet.  We are going again in September, except this time Jay's parents will be joining us.  We are going to do our best to show my father-in-law how much New York has changed since the 1970's.  Stay tuned for the tale of New York City Meets The Parents ;)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adam's 7th Birthday

The kids and I are back in Oneonta today.  We had a relaxing couple weeks in Buffalo.  Although I did spend some much needed time "relaxing", we also managed a few visits and celebrations.  Adam celebrated his 7th birthday Harry Potter style.  He had two parties, one with a spell book cake and the other featuring golden snitch cupcakes.  Here are a few pictures from his special days.

hat & broom made from tootsie rolls and glasses
from chocolate, then book edges sprayed gold

wings made from color flow

Now I am off to spend some much needed time with Jay :)