Monday, April 20, 2015

Strawberry Tea Time Torte #PourMoreFun #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PourMoreFun #CollectiveBias

Last Saturday, Lynzie, Selah, and I went shopping for some fun accessories for Lynzie's Spring Formal coming up this weekend. We stumbled on a tea shop and I just had to go in. I found an adorable peony and strawberries tea-for-one and knew I couldn't leave the shop without it! Inspired, I came home and created this pretty Strawberry Tea Time torte using the new Kool-Aid Easy Mix I'd purchased the day before.

I found three flavors of Kool-Aid Easy Mix at Walmart in the boxed juice and drink mix aisle. Tropical Punch, Grape, and Cherry are some of the best Kool-Aid flavors, and I can't wait to try out this new way of making an old family favorite. The new Easy Mix is really convenient, as I just add water. Now I can make one glass for myself, or a whole pitcher to share---a refreshing, affordable, summertime treat! Check with your local Walmart to see if there's a demo scheduled for your store.

My torte recipe is a new twist on an old favorite, as well. My family loves it when I make this dessert and, thanks to Kool-Aid Easy Mix, I was able to eliminate a few steps, minutes, and ingredients.

Strawberry Tea Time Torte
16 oz. pound cake mix + ingredients to make the cake
1/2 c. Kool-Aid Easy Mix
2 TB lemon juice
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/3 c. milk
12 oz. whipped topping
3.4 oz. instant cheesecake pudding mix
strawberries and lemon to garnish

Preheat oven to 350º and spray two 8 or 9 inch pans with nonstick spray.  Prepare cake mix according to the directions on the package and spread evenly into prepared pan.  Bake about 20-22 minutes, until done and cool completely.

Once the cake is cooled, slice the tops off to make each piece flat on top. If your cakes are thick, you can slice them in half, horizontally, for more layers.  

Prick the cake all over with a fork and then brush them evenly with the Kool-Aid Easy Mix. Whisk cream cheese and lemon juice together until smooth, then whisk in milk.  Spoon whipped topping over top of this mix but don't mix in.  Sprinkle with pudding mix and then mix it all up well.

Place one cake piece on a serving plate and spread some filling mixture on top.  You can use a decorating tool to make the edges pretty, if you'd like.  Repeat with each layer.  Garnish with fruit, flowers, or herbs.

Once the cake was cool, this torte took just minutes to put together. It makes a beautiful tea time treat. I'm thinking of making one for my next book club meeting. Kool-Aid Easy Mix made it much easier to make and it tastes great too! How will you enjoy Kool-Aid Easy Mix this summer?

Our Dog Adoption Adventure #NudgeThemBack #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NudgeThemBack #CollectiveBias

Sometimes the things of every day life bring the biggest adventures. That's how it was the day we went to pick up our new Yorkie puppy, Mr. Darcy. I've written out his story below, but first let me tell you about his new favorite treats, new Nudges® Grillers. We love to reward Mr. Darcy for obedience and tricks by giving him a nice treat and Nudges® Wholesome Dog Treats come in several different flavors so there's always something fun to choose from.

Selah and I found Nudges® at Walmart. Depending on your store's selection, you can choose from Nudges® Grillers in chicken or steak flavors or Nudges® Sizzlers in Chicken Bacon or Beef & Cheese.

We bought Mr. Darcy the steak variety as steak sounded really good to me at the time. Ha! These have a real meaty texture, look, and smell. There's no reason he can't have some "real food"-inspired treats, right? With meat as the number one ingredient and no artificial flavors or fillers, I feel good about giving him this snack, in addition to his regular nutritious dog food.

I've never really been a pet person. When my husband suggested we get a dog, shortly after our marriage, he was met with adamant refusal from me...and I continued to refuse for the next 13 years. However, though I might have been a match for him then, 13 years later I was no match for him and seven children. Jamie and the kids wanted a dog---an inside dog---and I finally had to give in. Jamie got online and found a Yorkie breeder and we planned a day to go pick him up. 

Adoption day was quite the adventure for our family. It started with our first ferry boat ride across Washington's Puget Sound. We drove our Suburban onto the ferry and everyone piled toward the front of the car as we enjoyed our front row view of the gorgeous 45-minute ride. Then we drove around a gorgeous, wooded bay area, drooling over the beautiful Victorian homes and quaint tea and book shops. I had a feeling Jamie was coaxing me with this beautiful scenery---hoping I'd not totally lose it when he presented me with a stinky, slobbery, fur ball.

I had no idea the adventure we were in for once we reached the breeder's home. The last five miles leading up to her house were densely forested and wound back and forth on themselves. There was not another car in sight and I'd begun to wonder if we'd drove into another dimension---it was definitely Twilight Zone-ish. Finally, Jamie found the home and pulled into a clearing that served as their driveway. The house was large and resembled a mountain resort cabin. I was impressed. Jamie went in to take care of business and the kids and I stayed in the car---thinking he'd just be a few minutes.

It wasn't long before I noticed, through an upstairs window, some activity going on. Curious and bored, I focused in on the window and soon realized that I was watching two older teen boys completely beating the snot out of each other. I've never seen anything like it---well, unless you count weird '80s boxing on tv. Before long, one guy was down and the other guy just kept hammering on him. Finally, he stood up and looked out the window straight at me. Then he turned around and disappeared---leaving the room, I assume. By this point, I had already told the kids to look away and I was starting to fear for Jamie. It had been a good 45 minutes or so and he was still inside. This woman was supposed to have had over 30 puppies, but I'd not seen or heard any puppies---or any woman. Was this an insane asylum we'd been tricked into driving to? Was Jamie the next victim of the murderous man upstairs? I got into the driver's seat, turned on the car, and put it in reverse, keeping my foot on the brake. As much as I loved my husband, I had seven children to protect too---and I was ready to book it out of there as fast as possible if that guy came outside.

Thankfully, Jamie made it out safely---and Mr. Darcy, too. I can't say I particularly like him all the time---but I do love him. He's definitely a part of the family and we're all glad to have rescued him from the crazy house. Mr. Darcy loves his new Nudges® Grillers snacks and the kids love to take turns helping him practice his tricks and giving him a treat when he performs well. We're also planning on looking for new Nudges® Jerky Cuts at Walmart. We love variety in our treats---and so does Mr. Darcy!

Do you have a wild and crazy pet story? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The {Not Just} Homemaking Party: Sugar-Free Homemade Bread

Welcome to the {Not Just} Homemaking Party! Thanks for stopping by! Today my mom is sharing her photo and recipe with us for Sugar-Free Homemade Bread!

The USA is one of the few countries that add sugar to their everyday bread baking. Sometimes I like to make this sugar-free bread. It is especially good to form into a roll and serve french bread style with garlic butter! ~~Christy

Sugar-Free Bread
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
2 TB vegetable oil
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast in hot water, add salt and oil. Add flour, as needed, to work into a soft ball. Let it rise for 2 hours in a greased bowl covered with a towel. Knead again, form into a loaf,  and set dough in a greased loaf pan to rise, covered, for about 1 hour. Bake at 400º for about 25 minutes.