a cup of that

1 Cup of Love, 1 Ounce of Time…

koolaid slushies (5)


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DIY Slushies

koolaid slushies (5)

After a long morning and afternoon I decided it was time for a quick treat but I didn’t have time to bake any goodies. So, I decided to go with a simple slushy.

If you have kids, you probably have Kool-Aid in the pantry somewhere.  We don’t often have it because my kids actually prefer water or milk as their drink of choice, but on occasion I like to whip up a pitcher myself since it reminds me of childhood.

I usually end up picking up those individual packets they sell for .20 for the times we feel like something other than water.  I’ll tell you one thing, there are way more choices for Kool-Aid flavors out there now than there was when I was enjoying the stuff as a kid!

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As you can see, I mixed a few different flavors for these slushies to make things more interesting.  The colors sort of infused together by the end of it and they tasted great mixed together.  So fun and colorful too!

Here’s a tip though.  Making crushed ice in a blender is extremely noisy so if you have kids who are napping, wait to make these until everyone’s awake.

I started to make these things and as soon as I started the blender it woke up my napping child immediately.  After soothing him back to sleep I was then forced to take the blender out to the garage to finish getting the ice crushed.  Pretty funny.

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So these are simple and can be made in about 15 minutes; Even quicker if you go with Method 3 and use only one flavor of Kool-Aid.  I know…I like to be quick yet I took the time to add multiple flavors.

 

Ingredients (Makes 2 Slushies):

  • 3 cups ice, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 4, .22 oz packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix in a variety of flavors (or one 1-2 packets of your favorite flavor- just depends on how tart you want your slushy)

Directions ( A few methods to do this):

Method 1 – Creates swirled or marbled look of colors and flavors – More of a Slushy Drink (as shown in photographs):

Take 4 tall glasses, pour half a packet (roughly .11 oz) of Kool-Aid mix into each glass, add 2 tablespoons of sugar to each glass, fill the glasses with water and stir.  Crush all of the ice and fill the bottom of two glasses with ice. Pour a layer of one flavor of Kool-AId on that layer of ice, add another layer of ice and pour the next flavor of Kool-Aid over that layer. Continue on with adding ice and other flavors until glass is full.

Method 2 – Creates defined spectrum of Kool-Aid colors and flavors:

Blend a 1/2 cup of ice, sprinkle in some Kool-aid and sugar, blend and pour the contents into two glasses and repeat this process with more ice and Kool-Aid for each flavor to create more defined layers of color and Kool-Aid flavor for your slushy.

Personally, I would have preferred taking the time to do it this way, but I didn’t have the time.

Method 3 – The one flavor suits all way – complete slushy texture (the quickest method of all):

Crush ice, pour in sugar and your one and only favorite flavor of Kool-Aid, blend and pour into a glass.

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The method you choose to make your DIY Kool-Aid Slushy is totally up to you.  Have a great day!

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Oh, and don’t forget to cook, bake and eat life up while you’re at it. ;)

Jackson


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10 Tips for Grocery Shopping with Toddlers

JacksonChildren are lucky they’re cute.  I mean, one would think a child who looked so adorably angelic would be nothing but sugar, spice and everything nice…but oh would they be wrong.

Now, we can’t blame the little ones for the many things they do that can “create a scene” in public places; Especially when we haven’t taken the steps before going into public to prepare them for such an event.

I have dealt with my fair share of tantrums and with my youngest child, this is just the beginning of this phase.  Tantrums are totally normal, especially for children between ages 2-4 since they are only just learning how to communicate effectively.  We, as parents, must keep in mind that this phase should and will pass.  The key to getting through these years is patience and preparation.

Here are some tips based on what I’ve learned thus far on how you can make sure you have the patience you’ll need when taking your toddler out in public and the preparation to help things move as smoothly as possible while you’re there.

10 Tips for Grocery Shopping with a Toddler

  1. Don’t wait until your pantry is bare to re-stock. When you still have food at home when you need to re-stock on a few items, you have more options.  You can wait to shop when someone is available (like when your husband gets off work or on the weekend) to help by going shopping with you or help by watching the kids while you shop.  You never want to get to the point of not being able to feed yourself and your kids because you waited until everything had been eaten up to grocery shop.  If you do so, you’re then forced to venture out with children (who are likely hungry) without help or a well-thought out plan prepared.
  2. Eat First.  This ties in with #1. When your kids are hungry, they are grouchy.  When you are hungry (if you’re like me), you are grouchy too; And, if you’re grouchy, you will have less patience with your kids while trying to grocery shop on top of dealing with their grouchiness. You must take measures to ensure you, as a parent, are full and well so that you can handle your kids the best you can.
  3. Nap First or shop way before nap time.  Chances are, your toddler still requires a daily nap.  Make sure you don’t bring a tired toddler out to run errands with you because those stories never have a happy ending.  Shop early, right after breakfast if you can, but make sure it’s before nap time is near.  Or, shop in the afternoon, after your little tike is well-rested.
  4. Make a grocery list and follow it. Take some time before you venture out to create a solid list of the grocery items you will need for the week.  Check the refrigerator and the pantry as you think and write things down to make sure you don’t leave anything off.  Having a list will help you stay within your weekly grocery budget, will make the trip much smoother because you’ll know exactly what you need, and will help when your kids ask for random things – That’s not on our list – Sorry kids!  Most importantly though, it will make grocery shopping quicker.
  5. Bring your husband/partner/family member/friend to help.  This may be unrealistic at times, but if you have several children and are trying to tackle a grocery list while leaving a cart with your purse in it to chase after little ones who have taken off, full sprint across the grocery store, you may want to ask for someone to come along; Or at least for someone to watch over the kids while you make this short trip.  I am fortunate because Ryan and I usually wait to grocery shop together.  While one of us has that cart and focuses on grabbing everything from the list, the other is walking around, entertaining the kids along the way.  Now, one of us could also just as easily stay home with the kids while the other goes out with the grocery list, and we do at times (when Jackson is napping or needs to nap), but grocery shopping is an opportunity to learn for kids and you should take them with you as much as possible to teach them appropriate public behavior.
  6. Split up.  This ties in with tip #5.  Another great thing about having your partner/friend or family member along is that when the kids get antsy or out-of-control, you can take off one way with the cart and grocery list and knock-it-out while the other person heads to the toy section to keep the kids entertained. When you’re done and that cart is full, check back at the toy section and tell your family you’re all set to check-out. You could even check-out yourself, load up the car and call or text your partner to let them know that you’re out in the car and ready to go home.
  7. Bring a few toys along.  Now, if by some chance your toddler actually sits in the cart without screaming or trying to climb out (like mine does), he/she may stay entertained as your shop with a few small toys to play with as you stroll along.  This worked well for me before my son became a toddler and began feeling compelled to be on the go and moving all the time.  Each kid is different though, so give it a try!
  8. Have your children help find items on the list and put those items in the cart.  Now, obviously my little guy has no clue what half the things on our list are, even if I say apple, he has no clue…but my 5-year-old daughter does.  When I allow the kids to walk along-side me as I push the cart (Ryan is usually right there to keep them in-check) I will tell my daughter what we need to find next and she will lead Jackson to the item and point to it.  Jackson understands then that it’s what we were looking for, grabs it and puts it in the cart.  He also usually claps for himself afterwards. =)  If you have older children, give them a mission that will be fun for them and will also be a great help to you.
  9. Take a breather & step outside with your toddler.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you’ve done to prepare, how precise you were with the list or how quickly you were moving through that store to get the job done, your toddler is just feisty, hard to handle and ends up on the floor, arms flailing, legs kicking and screaming loud enough to alarm every other person in that place.  In situations like this, you may have to take a breather to calm your toddler (and yourself) down.  Step outside to soothe your toddler; Or sit in your vehicle and let him/her wail it out.  If you’re with someone you can have them step outside with the child while you continue to shop or vice versa. If you’re alone, you can ask a cashier or store manager to look after your cart for a moment while you deal with your child.
  10. Ignore the stares when your toddler behaves poorly in public.   When your child is running down an isle with no regard to instruction and you have to sprint to catch the little booger, people will stare.  When your child is crying because he/she wants out of that cart or wants to reach over and grab things off the shelves and you won’t allow it, causing them to scream and cry even louder, people will stare.  When your child is on the floor of the store, kicking and screaming loud enough for the Martians on the moon to hear (if there were any), people will definitely stare.  They will judge you and your child.  Let them.  In fact, ignore it and focus on your child and the task at hand.  Either they haven’t had experience with children or they have simply forgotten all about what it was like to lug a toddler around in public to run errands.  You’re better off not worrying about what other people think because their opinion won’t help you or your toddler.  Smile at them, if you want to, then tend to you tantrum-throwing toddler.

 

Hopefully, these tips will help all of you mothers with toddlers get through the tantrum years while still being able to run those errands.  You learn as you go so take it easy and don’t be too hard on yourself or your kids.  After all, the toddler years don’t last long and soon enough, you’ll find yourself laughing about all of the commotion your little one caused when they were younger.

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy! ;)

Lemon-Herb Chicken (6)


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Zesty Lemon & Herb Chicken

It’s time to get motivated because there are so many things I have to finish doing and other things I would like to finish up.  We’re moving two weekends from now and although we have accomplished a lot of packing over the past month, it still feels like there’s so much stuff that needs put away.  I’ve already packed up the kids clothes (aside from what they will wear for the next two weeks) as well as most of mine, but the main thing I see every where are the most random of things like little lamps, games, books and folders and about 310 toys that vary in size.

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It’s easy to procrastinate when I allow myself to feel overwhelmed, which is even easier to do when I stare at everything and think about all the work the job entails.  It’s like I can imagine every step of the job that needs done and exhaust myself mentally, almost to the point I feel like I’ve actually done the work and then I’m exhausted.  Exhausted only by the thought of it and that thought gets pushed aside as something I’ll tackle another day.

Some days I’m so on it.  I get up, get myself and the kids ready to go and I get a move on.  They are served a quick breakfast and given things to occupy themselves with for a bit.  Things get tossed into bags and boxes and rooms begin looking bare, but then I come back downstairs and the living room, dining area and kitchen floor is covered in things that were formerly packed neatly into open bins.

Thank you my dear children.  You are always the best little helpers. =)  I’ve been feeling like this whole packing business has felt like deja vu and that’s because I’ve spent so much time packing things up that have already been packed up a time or two before.  Lovely.

Even so, they are incredibly lovable and they fill my days with joy in many ways.  The other things can be taught and things will become more orderly and neat in time.

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Over the weekend I had the time to make this zesty lemon & herb chicken, which was pan seared in fresh squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest and a few different types of herb.  The photo above followed after the pan searing portion, but before the dish was baked until the chicken was fully cooked throughout.  The house smelled wonderful the entire time this dish cooked.  There were a variety of different scents, but I would say the most prominent of them was the lemon; Those lemons overpowered the herbs in taste and smell.

Ingredients: (makes 10 chicken thighs):

  • 8-10 chicken thighs (skin on but you can make them skinless if you would like)

    Lemon Bars (4)

  • 1 lemon squeezed/juiced + zest of 1 lemon (+1 lemon sliced for garnish – optional)
  • 3 tsp dried or fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tsp dried or fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp course sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Set aside a 9 X 13 inch baking dish.  Heat olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium high heat.  Add chicken, about 4 or 5 should fit in the large pan at a time, and sear both sides for a few minutes to get the skin slightly crispy and lightly browned.  Next pour in lemon juice, drizzling over the chicken and around the pan and continue to cook, turning frequently for a few minutes more.  Sprinkle on the lemon zest, herbs, soy sauce, and garlic while stirring into liquid surrounding the chicken.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes, turning frequently to get that lemon/herb flavor on the chicken.  Transfer seared and seasoned chicken to baking dish and repeat searing process with the remainder of the chicken – now that lemon/oil mixture is already full of flavor you won’t need to add more seasoning to the frying pan.  Turn heat on stove-top down to a simmer and add 1 tablespoon of flour to the seasoned drippings leftover in the frying pan, stirring the whole time to form a seasoned sauce for the chicken to bake in.  Allow to simmer for a few short minutes and remove from heat.

After all of the chicken thighs have been seared and seasoned and have been placed into the baking dish, sprinkle them with 1 tsp of course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (on both sides).  Drizzle the sauce from the pan over the chicken, making sure it surrounds the chicken in the pan as well.  Add a few slices of lemon on top of each or every other piece of chicken if you would like and bake, uncovered for 35 minutes (or until chicken is cooked throughout).

 

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We really enjoyed this dish, which I served with steamed white rice.  The chicken had so much zest and flavor that the plain white rice paired well.  I actually prefer chicken over many other types of protein, especially if it’s organic, but it’s definitely is not Ryan’s protein of choice.  After having this well-seasoned bird he decided it was the best chicken he had ever had, with the addition of stating that he normally doesn’t care for chicken much.  That’s great for the rest of us who dine with him daily! =)

Well, I think it’s time I get a move on tackling some of this busy work that must be done.  I hope you all enjoy your week! The weather here has been amazing and I hope it lasts a while.  Thanks for stopping by!

 

http://www.asylumapps.com


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Asylum Apps – Make a game out of making money…literally.

So I wanted to fill everyone in on something I do aside from raising a family, dabbling in photography, art, cooking/baking, writing, and blogging (among many other things) that is a great opportunity for making a residual income.

Or, who knows…maybe you’ll create the next big game (like Candy Crush) and you’ll be able to quit your day job and live off that income.  Sounds wonderful to me!

There’s a new company called Asylum Apps that’s an internet co-op for gamers and game-makers alike.  But, it doesn’t stop there.  Asylum Apps is for anyone from stay-at-home parents to certified programmers or graphic artists. Anyone can join this co-op, which is totally free and you always have the option to opt-out of the company at any time, so there’s no need to worry there. I won’t go into every detail of how this co-op works, but if you are interested in learning more just click on the image below and you’ll be directed to the Asylum Apps website.

So this week Asylum Apps has been launching the games its members have created themselves, from the comfort of their own homes.  As a member myself, I’ve been asked to help with several of these games because of my artistic ability (drawing/sketching) and I have had the privilege of creating some of the graphic artwork/logos for some of these games.  Just another example of how various people with various talents can bring something to the table in the world of game creation.

I have also been working on a game that I plan on launching in the near future called: “Super Chip Saves Cookie Kingdom” (cute, huh?).  It’s a challenging, yet family friendly game that I believe grown-ups and kids will both enjoy.  I also love that it involves little characters made of food (since I’m a total foodie) that I drew and digitally colored myself.  In fact, everything you see on this game was created by me.  Ryan was kind enough to take care of the coding portion (which was self-taught via books and tutorials) which makes it easier as each job individually is a process in itself.

Meet the main characters of “Super Chip Saves Cookie Kingdom”. =)

 

So, back to the launch of some games Asylum Apps has already created.  I’ve posted a few on A Cup of That on Facebook, but for those of you haven’t seen them there, you’re in luck.  Here are some demos you can check out.  Keep in mind that many of our games will be posted on Google Play to download and play totally FREE!  That’s always a perk.

Tooter Scooter Logo

tooter scooter

Brief Description: A little raunchy and a lot of fun!  Toot (by bodily gas propulsion) your way along on a scooter to play.  Check out the free demo to see more about this new game Tooter Scooter, by Asylum Apps.

Link to free YouTube DEMO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-nxeuz78ZU&feature=youtu.be&hd=1

Here’s the game in GOOGLE PLAY: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.AsylumApps.TooterScooter

Frogman2

frogman2

Brief Description: Swim with the fishies and avoid the sharks! If you can. It’s not very easy so you might want to save a dollar and download some other game. Like Tic-Tac-Toe. Ha ha.

frogman 2

Link to DEMO on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-nxeuz78ZU&feature=youtu.be&hd=1

Link to Game on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.AsylumApps.Frogman2

Hungry Hungry Spiders

hungry spidersBrief Description: In this game, you’re a fly caught in a web and you have to crawl around dodging the spiders. And I do mean the plural, because every second or two another spider appears. And they are all very hungry, and it looks like you’re on the menu!  Side note, this game was made by one of members who recently became a teenager.  How cool is that?

hungry hungry spiders

Game Download on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.AsylumApps.HungryHungrySpiders

So there you have it.  I’ll be doing the occasional post providing updates on this whole game creation experience and the work that I’m involved in for Asylum Apps.  There are a few other games that are approaching the final stages so keep a look-out for those!
Have a great day everyone.  Play some games or cook, bake and eat life up!

I’ll leave you with some characters for some upcoming games that I’ve been working on.  There are a few rough sketches and one complete with digital color.  Enjoy!

See you next time and thanks for stopping by! I hope you check out Asylum Apps and these new game apps.

The Best Lemon Bars


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Tasty & Tart Lemon Bars

I Heart Lemons

Have I ever mentioned that I love lemons?  It’s one of those things I don’t have around often, but my love for them remains true and I especially love them when they are used for lemon bars.  I love everything about these things, the tartness, the vibrant color of them, the juicy and smooth texture, and especially the fragrance of a lemon.

I was at the market the other day and filled a bag full of the most vibrant and fresh looking lemons with a lemon-herb chicken dish in mind, but ended up making two dishes with these beauties by day end.

Needless to say (but I will anyway) that yesterday was a day of all things lemon in this household.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful citrus aroma that filled the house and even after washing my hands, the remnants of lemon scent was strong for most of the day.  It’s one of my favorite scents and reminds me of both spring and summer days.  There’s something so fresh and clean about the smell of a lemon that has this power to invigorate even the most stagnant of places.  This is probably why many cleaning products are scented with this amazing citrus fruit.  It may be small, but it’s fragrance and flavor is one of the mightiest of its kind.  Just another of the many reasons to love a lemon.

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I’ve been eager to make lemon bars for what seems like a year now, but I must say it was worth waiting for the appropriate season.  There’s nothing better than a tart, yet sweet and fresh treat on a hot summer day…or a day in the upper 70’s with the occasional cool breeze blowing through the windows.  Rain is on its way tonight, so we’re losing some of the humidity as the cooler winds blow in.  That’s probably another scent that’s hard to forget; The cool breeze that presides just before a rainstorm in the summer-time.

There are many beautiful things one can enjoy when you allow your senses to take over.  Take a bite of a tangy and tart lemon bar, close your eyes and breathe in that cool summer breeze – let your senses take over.

Ingredients & Directions (makes 16-18 bars):

For the Crust:

  • baking spray with flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, 2 tsp for garnish as well
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced or cubed

Directions for Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9 X 13 inch pan by lining it with foil (make sure there’s a slide overhang up all sides of pan) and coat evenly with baking spray.  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and knead together with fingers, pressing butter into bits of flour and sugars until mixture forms a flaky dough (about 10 minutes).  If you have a food processor you may use that as well to combine ingredients.  Press into pan evenly, being sure to form a little ledge up the sides of the pan to keep filling contained.  Bake for 25 minutes and remove from oven.  Reduce heat to 300 degrees F, but leave the oven on. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

For the Filling:

  • juice from 4 freshly squeezed lemons
  • zest from 4 freshly grated lemons
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks

Directions for Filling:

Combine all ingredients in medium size bowl and whisk together until well-combined.  Pour into pan over cooked crust and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool before covering and then place entire baking dish in the refrigerator to set/chill for at least 2 hours.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar before slicing into bars and serving.

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These lemon bars are full of zesty and tart lemon flavor.  The little addition of salt and sugar help to create the overall deliciousness of this special treat.  Some may prefer a more subtle lemon flavor, but that’s not what you’re going to get with this recipe.  The zest of these bars will dizzy your taste buds and leave you wanting more.  It was the perfect addition to beautiful summer day and would be a great addition for any summer gathering.  Also, they’re not so bad to look at either, with their beautiful and vibrant color.  After sprinkling them with confectioners sugar I was reminded of Daisies, which are my favorite flowers.  They really do seem like the happiest of flowers and these lemon bars appear to be one of the happiest of desserts. =)

 

Thanks for stopping by again – It was wonderful seeing you.  Have a wonderful evening wrapping up the weekend and stop by again sometime soon.  I will be posting the recipe and photographs for a fabulous zesty lemon-herb chicken dish sometime this week.  If you get a chance, don’t forget to cook, bake and eat life up a little this week!

Lemon Bars (1)

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