Friday, July 13, 2012

Orange Julius–Oh Joy!

Step into my time machine, (which looks nothing like a stainless steel sports car…) and head back to 1974 with me.

My memories are scant at that point – my earliest memory is of my third birthday party, after that I have a recollection of my first visit to Disney World early in 1972. After that, it’s a misty blur up until kindergarten EXCEPT for trips to the mall to visit my Aunt, working at the Orange Julius stand. This is probably what catapulted her to most-favored-aunt status at the time.Orange Julius yumm If you’ve never had an Orange Julius you need to make the effort. I haven’t seen an Orange Julius stand around since I don’t know when, but I’ve discovered that they were purchased by Dairy Queen back in 1987. Now you’ll find combo stores or “Treat Centers”. Further investigation at their website has shown me that there is one within about an hour’s drive from me. Next time we’re in the Big City I think we’ll track them down and compare the original with my made-up recipe from home. I don’t have access to the “magic powder” that they use at Julius, that’s what the vanilla pudding mix is for…Orange Julius Knock Off Pinable 
Orange Julius Knock-Off
  • 6 oz. Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
  • 6 oz. Milk
  • 3 oz. Simple Syrup*
  • 1 teaspoon dry Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 2 Cups crushed ice
Whiz the juice concentrate, milk, simple syrup and pudding mix in the blender. Add the crushed ice and blend until smooth. This yields 3 good sized servings.
Grab a straw and brace yourself for a brain freeze because it’s so yummy you’ll drink it too fast.Orange Julius smoothie *Simple syrup is easy, if you haven’t made it before. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water and 2 cups granulated sugar. Bring to a boil, stir constantly and dissolve the sugar. Remove it from the heat and cool completely. Pour into a jar and store in the fridge.Orange Julius knock off This isn’t quite as frothy and delish as I remember the original to be, but it’s a nice knock-off. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

An American Celebration

It’s the Fourth of July in America, normally the time we celebrate our independence, freedom and the birthday of our young nation. But convenience has stepped in and our big “Fourth” celebration is already over here. In fact, it wasn’t even in July! Our city fireworks were Saturday night, June 30. That kind of rubbed some people the wrong way.

Happy 236th Birthday Liberty

The holiday sneaked up on me this year, but we threw a little tailgate celebration together and headed up to the top of the parking garage downtown. We met up with another homeschooling family and ended up parking next to yet another homeschooling family and in front of a third homeschooling family. Yes, folks, we are taking over the world…

Picnic on the parking garageTailgate party on the parking garage

There was a pretty impressive fireworks display that lasted a good 20 minutes, paid for by the local Iranian businessman that owns several Mexican restaurants around here. That’s America.

Fireworks Collage 2012

It’s a little bit anticlimactic, but we’re having an indoor picnic today with grandparents. It’s still too hot to be outside, but those vegetarian hot dogs and burgers never do very well on a grill, (as if we owned one) anyway.  Fourth of July indoor picnicWe’ll still have all the fixins of a great picnic, hot dogs, burgers, coleslaw, baked beans, chips and dip, root beer and cherry limeade, apple pie and more of those cherry filled cupcakes.Fourth of July Cupcakes American Flag Centerpiece for Church Fellowship Lunch

I collected some buckets from Target’s Dollar Spot and made up some centerpieces to use at our church fellowship luncheon last Sabbath. I decided that I’d keep them for myself rather than making them part of the church stock, so I’ll be using them at home sometimes too. If you think about it, there are really a lot of holidays that could use a red bucket for something.Cheap Patriotic Centerpiece

I hope your celebration is filled with family and friends and that you don’t all expire from heat stroke. Patriotic Front Porch 2012Be safe out there today, drink plenty of water and enjoy your independence! (While you still have it…)Patriotic Porch Pinwheels 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

If George Washington Ate Cupcakes…

If Martha Washington made cupcakes for her backyard Fourth of July celebration, I bet they looked like theseCherry Filled Patriotic Cupcake

Well, maybe not. Martha Washington probably had the cute patriotic cupcake papers too. But I’m sure her cupcakes had a cherry filling like these do.

Vanilla Cupcake with Cherry Filling & Patriotic Frosting
Cherry Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with Fourth of July Picks
These are SO easy to make. So easy that I didn’t do any step-by-step photos for you.

  • Get yourself a white cake mix (or a recipe for vanilla cake) and a can of cherry pie filling (or a jar of your homemade cherry pie filling…)
  • Make the cake according to the directions on the box, put all the batter in a gallon-size zip-top bag, and snip off a small corner of the bag.
  • Squeeze enough batter into the bottom of your cupcake liners to just cover the bottom.
  • Using a teaspoon from your silverware drawer, spoon a bit of cherry pie filling (I use Lucky Leaf brand) onto the batter – try to keep it in the middle.
  • Squeeze more batter to cover the pie filling until the cupcake liners are about 2/3 full.
  • Bake according to the regular directions on the box. Patriotic Cupcakes & Apothecary Jars

    The frosting is also very easy. I used a recipe found in the book Simply Sweet Best Cupcakes Ever! (I purchased my copy on the magazine rack at Costco.)

    For a decadent amount of frosting, I made a double batch of the Wedding Cake Frosting recipe.

    Wedding Cake Frosting
    Makes 3 cups
    • 1/2 Cup butter, softened
    • 1/4 Cup whipping cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1/4 salt
    • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
    1. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed wit an electric mixer until creamy.
    2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy
    .Cherry Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with Wedding Cake Frosting
    To get the multicolored frosting look, save 2 cups of frosting aside and leave it white. Tint 2 cups red and 2 cups blue using gel color. Wilton brand is great and you can pick it up at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s or another store with a cake decorating section.

    Grab a gallon-sized zip-top bag – cut about a quarter inch off the corner and drop a 1M decorating tip (with a large star-like opening) into the open corner of the bag.

    Fill the bag about halfway with about 1/4 cup each of red, white and blue frosting. 

    Pipe a generous peak onto each cupcake and decorate with edible glitter, candies or picks. I made my picks using a star punch and some scrapbook papers. Each pick takes 3 stars – 2 of red paper and 1 of blue paper. Trim the blue star into two pieces and adhere the pieces over the two red stars. Stick your stars back to back with a toothpick between them – be sure they’re both right side up – and adhere with liquid glue . When they’re completely dry stick them in your cupcakes.

    I took about a dozen and a half of these to fellowship lunch at church and I was surprised that they didn’t go as fast as some of the other obviously “store bought” cookies and such. I was later told that they looked like they’d come from the store also and so they were passed over – our local China-Mart makes HORRIBLE cakes and cupcakes. But the word got out and there were none left over!

    Patriotic Cherry Filled Cupcake & Jacob
    These are really yummy and moist, and the cherry inside is a nice surprise (if you like cherry…) Your kids will LOVE them and they’re easy enough for the kids to help make without stressing out momma too much.
    Party like the Washingtons and whip up a batch for yourself. They’re so simple you could even make them at the last minute. Fourth of July Cupcakes
    Happy Fourth of July!
    I’m linking to:
    Hip Homeschool Hop Button

  • Sunday, July 1, 2012

    How to Straighten Out Your Teenager (& Maybe Even Your Husband)

    If you hang around here enough you’ll find out way more than you want to know about me and my family. Today’s secret reveal is that in my past life I was a dental hygienist. Yes – the dreaded “cleaning lady” in your dentist’s office.
    When we moved to Texas, nearly eight years ago now, I went on a bit of a sabbatical -- the dental hygiene took a back-seat to the child rearing and homeschooling. However, I still have some very strong opinions and I’m perfectly willing to share them.
    Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an Invisalign Straight Talk Luncheon. Dr. “Bud” Luecke is an orthodontist from San Antonio who Dr Luecke at Invisalign Straight Talkspoke about Invisalign to a room full of moms and bloggers. He uses Invisalign and Invisalign Teen in his practice, Braceland. Don’t you love that name? If you look closely, you can see Elvis in all of his white-pant-suited glory on Dr. Bud’s shirt. His practice sounds like a fun place to me. I caught this photo of him and a current patient, Nick,  with my camera/phone. He’s  demonstrating the “nose whistle”. I even “won” a nose whistle myself during the question and answer portion of the presentation. (Don’t tell anyone… I put it away for a Christmas stocking stuffer…)
    Dr. Luecke gave us a great deal of information about Invisalign. Being out of the daily grind of dentistry for the last seven years, I appreciated the reminder of some of the real-life benefits of straight teeth.
    Awhile back I heard  the opinion of a conservative father I know. He basically said that braces or orthodontic treatment weren’t necessary – God gave his kids their smiles and they’d do just fine thankyouverymuch.
    Well…. okay… but orthodontic treatment isn’t about cosmetic or superficial reasons -- there are a lot of lousy side effects to a messed up bite or “smile”. Number one, in my book as a hygienist is the  increased incidence of poor oral hygiene. Which leads to gingivitis. Which leads to gum disease. Which leads to possible complications with low birth weight babies, heart disease, stroke, and a host of other problems. Research has shown that there is an association between periodontal (gum) diseases and other chronic inflammatory conditions, like  diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. So, treating inflammation in the mouth may not only help manage periodontal (gum) diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions. This often time starts by simply aligning the teeth so they can be kept clean.
    Here’s one tidbit I found fascinating enough to make a topic of research when I was in college; 50-70% of women will have gum inflammation or disease while they are pregnant. Also, you are at greater risk for having  a baby prematurely with a low birth weight if you have gum disease while you are pregnant. Seven times greater! That same risk is 1.6 times higher if you smoke cigarettes while pregnant! You KNOW we give smokers a much harder time about smoking while pregnant than we do expectant mothers that aren’t brushing and flossing well enough… And what can make keeping your teeth in top shape easier??? Yup. Straight teeth.
    It’s really NOT all about cosmetics and appearance, but appearance does play a part in how you are perceived. Click here for another interesting study about how others see you and your smile.
    Invisalign orthodontics uses a series of precision molded, plastic trays to gradually straighten the teeth. The system used to only be used on adults, but recent changes and additions to the system make it a very plausible treatment plan for teens as well. Using Invisalign Teen they can now accommodate the rapidly changing mouth of a teen. AND you’ll only be visiting the ortho doc about once every 6 weeks!
    Of course, the greatest appeal of the Invisalign system is the fact that it’s nearly invisible and you don’t have a mouth full of metal brackets and wires. I love the fact that you can actually remove your Invisalign trays to eat, play musical instruments and sports, and brush and floss! An added bonus: as a hygienist I don’t have all those appliances to work around during your six-month cleaning and check-up!
    The folks at Invisalign are having a sweepstakes right now – they’re giving away $1,500 American Express gift card to put towards an Invisalign or Invisalign Teen treatment. Two runner-up prizes will also be awarded as $150 American Express Gift Cards.Click this link to enter: Invisalign New Smile Sweepstakes
    And even if you don’t win the sweepstakes, there’s a nice Coupon for $500 off Invisalign treatment too.

    I hope you’ll look into Invisalign as a possible treatment to “straighten out” your kids or even yourself (or your husband…) I need to tell you that this is a sponsored post, but all of the opinions are my own. This is definitely the route we plan to go with our kids orthodontic treatments.
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