06 August, 2012

Removing Moles with Apple Cider Vinegar?

*Consult your doctor first, and get your moles checked out to make sure they are ok to remove.

Every since I remember really caring about what I look like, I remember becoming more and more self conscious about certain things.  Some people struggle with weight, body image, wrinkles, stretch marks, etc.  Sure, I do too.  But some things just bugged me even more.  Moles.  I come from a "moley" family...is that even a word?  Every few years the doctors would check my body, looking for anything out of the ordinary, and only once has any of them caused concern.  I had a pre-cancerous mole removed on my back in college which left a significant scar that I've learned to accept. 

Through the years, as I've grown older, there have been two on my face that I have never liked, and a skin tag on my throat.  There is one on my forehead near my hair line, which always gets hit when brushing my hair, and another on my cheek which many refer to as a beauty mark...not me.  It was big and dark and I just didn't like it.  I've asked doctors over the years if they'd remove them, and they said yes, but warned that I'd have scars on my face, so I brushed the thought aside.

Until recently.  I was on the Internet (surprise!) and came across an at home remedy using Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for removing moles.  Really?  Could it be this simple?  No lasers?  No scalpels?  I was intrigued, and started reading all the forums I could find with success story after success story on using ACV.  Some warned that you will most likely have a small pink scar area after it's all said and done, but heck, that covers with make-up!  So, I gave it a try...and it worked!

Now, as my husband said, you might not want to start on your FACE!  Try another area that you can cover to see how your skin and body react.  But I was determined to get rid of these things, so I started on my face.  :)  Here's what I did.

1.  Scratch the surface of the mole with something like a pumice stone, needle, emery board, etc.  Just a little, not 'till you're bleeding!  You only need to do this one time...never again in the process.

2.  Put Vaseline around the mole, not on the mole itself though.  We're trying to protect the skin around the mole.  Do this every time you're going to apply ACV.

3.  Dip a Q-tip into ACV, then hold it directly onto the mole for about 2-3 minutes.  You'll feel stinging, it's worth it.  Rinse the area when finished, and repeat 4-5 times a day.  Leave it alone overnight (some people keep a cotton ball on it overnight, but I think that's overkill).  For one more day, do the 4-5 applications of vinegar, so to sleep.  On day 3, your mole should be dark brown/black and scabbed over.  LEAVE IT ALONE!

4.  You'll notice on about day 4 or 5, that you'll get out of the shower, and the scab will have loosened and fallen off by itself, or would be easily taken off, you shouldn't have to force it.  As soon the scab comes off, you'll want to keep it from scaring the best you can.  I used Helichrysum essential oil.  Some use honey and other scar remedies and ointments, but my "wound" is healing better than expected using the oil.  Every time I wash my face, I put a little oil on the marks and leave it.  I also leave it on overnight.

I'm on day 8 of the whole process, and the one on my forehead is almost completely healed, my cheek is getting close and my neck skin tag is non-existent.  This has been amazing!  Again, check to make sure your moles are normal, and then if you want, give it a try.

04 August, 2012

An End to Cursive Writing?

As my son prepares for another year of school, I've been working on his handwriting skills over the summer.  I love nice penmanship.  As his manuscript became better and better, I decided to start the skill of cursive writing.  I was so excited to teach him, as I remember loving cursive in school.  We sat down, we went over letters "a" and "b", and he mastered it in his first try.  I was so proud of him that I took a picture, posted it to Facebook and we even showed grandma and grandpa via Skype.

However, my parade was rained on when grandma and grandpa told me that cursive is no longer part of the Utah curriculum since 2010, and they aren't in the minority.  Districts all over the country are dropping it from curriculum, as keyboarding skills become increasingly important.  Really?  You're just going to drop writing?

I'm torn on this subject.  Cursive is beautiful.  It requires coordination, motor skill development and the use of the left and right sides of the brain.  It looks pretty.  People love getting mail addressed in cursive.  There's just something special about it.  And now it might be gone. 

Apparently Utah schools will decide for the upcoming 2013 school year, whether or not cursive will be brought back into the core curriculum.  Here's hoping so.

Where do you stand on the cursive debate?

23 July, 2012

Chicken Nuggets Your Kids Will Love

This recipe has become an all time favorite in our household.  My kids beg for them, and tell me they are better than any other nuggets they've had.  I hope yours feel the same way!

Preheat oven to 350F


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
seasoned bread crumbs
butter (for 4 breasts I use about 2-3 Tbs)
milk...room temp.
Parmesano Reggiano

1.  Cut your chicken into good size pieces or strips...however your kids will eat them.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together equal parts seasoned bread crumbs, panko and Parmesano Reggiano...enough to coat your chicken.
3.  Melt butter, then add 1/4 C. milk.
4. Throw a bunch of chicken in the butter/milk bowl, swish it around, then dump into the bread crumb mixture.  Get your hands nice a dirty...cover them completely, and place on a cookie sheet.  Continue with the remaining chicken.
5.  Bake for 10-15 min...depending on the size of your chicken bites, flip, and continue baking for another 10-15 min.


Pumpkin Apple Soup

It may be the middle of July, and it may be hovering around 117F here in the UAE, but that doesn't stop my six year old from asking for pumpkin soup.  I've been reading different recipes, loving parts of each, but no one recipe really grabbed my attention.  So, once again, I have combined them until coming up with something we all loved.  Here it is.


4 C. Pumpkin Puree (pure, not flavored)
2 apples, peeled and chopped
3 Tbs butter
1/2 large onion
4 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6-8 C. chicken stock
1-2 C. white wine or sherry
3-4 C. heavy cream (this will also add some sweetness at the end)
1-2 tsp cinnamon (to suit your taste)
1-2 tsp nutmeg (to suit your taste)
salt & pepper (gradually add throughout the simmer process to your liking)

1.  In a pot, saute the butter, garlic and onion just slightly.  Add the chopped apples with 1/2 C. water, cover and simmer until apples are tender enough to mash.
2.  With a potato masher, gently mash the apples and onions together.
3.  Add the pumpkin puree, 6-8 C. chicken stock, bay leaves, wine, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and salt.  (Slowly add the stock to get the consistency you desire.  This will simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, so you can add as you go to reach what you desire.)
4.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Watch your consistency, if you want a thicker soup, don't add too much water...you'll be adding cream later.  Taste your soup as it simmers...if you need more seasoning, this is the time to add it.  Everyone has a different tolerance for cinnamon and nutmeg...so I always say add as you go.
5.  Take the soup off the heat, add the cream, again, getting it to your desired consistency.
6.  Garnish with a bay leaf on top or with chopped apples.  Serve with a good dipping bread.


29 June, 2012

Cinnamon Kissed Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

You may wonder if we ever eat anything else other than confectionery delights after seeing all my posts on my latest treats to share with you!  I can assure you, I love to bake, but I love to give it away.  I eat very little of what I've made...the fun is in watching the faces of others enjoy what I have made.  Here's another one for you that's sure to please.  They are moist and more muffin-like than a dense bread.

Yields 24 Muffins


3 C. of flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 overly ripe bananas (not ones you've ripened in the microwave...really counter ripened! The sugar the bananas make helps.)
3/4 C. white sugar
3/4 C. brown sugar
2 eggs...do not over whisk, just beat lightly
2/3 C. melted butter (substitute a little applesauce for a portion if you want a healthier version)
1/2-1C. chocolate chips (more or less depending on your sweet tooth)
*for topping, think cinnamon toast...mix a little cinnamon with a little sugar and sprinkle on top before baking


1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin tin with papers or grease.
2.  In one bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3.  In another bowl, mash bananas, then add both sugars, whisked egg and melted butter.
4.  Gently pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and begin to fold...don't stir!  And don't go crazy with the folding...only until everything is combined and moistened.  
5.  Add your chocolate chips, give one more fold, and pour into muffin cups.
6.  Sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar mixture and put in the oven for 15-18 minutes.  Use a toothpick to test.  Most people OVER bake, thinking they aren't cooked all the way through.  This creates a dry and sometimes burned muffin.  
7.  Enjoy!

19 June, 2012

Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroons

I've always had a thing for coconut.  The smell of suntan lotions, surfboard wax and tropical drinks.  Something about the smell of coconut sends me to vacation mode, if only for a moment.  Add the sense of taste, and I'm in heaven.  Mounds and Almond Joy candy are my first picks when in the grocery store candy aisle.  And then there's the supreme coconut macaroon.  This past weekend I allowed myself to pay $4 for one macaroon at a Nestle Toll House Cafe.  Yep, $4.  After the moment was gone, I decided I was going to make a tray of them for that $4.

If you're a regular reader, you know I always bend and twist recipes I find, in order to try and make them just a little better...in my opinion. Here's what I came up with for making them yourself at home.  Quick and easy!  Here's what you need:
  • 16 ounces sweetened flaked coconut (you might add more if your mixture is too "runny")
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbs mixture 1/2 heavy whipping cream 1/2 milk (you might need to add more depending on consistency) 
Directions for macaroons:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper. (no, parchment paper is NOT waxed paper)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix coconut, condensed milk and vanilla.
  3. In a small bowl, whip egg whites and salt on high until you get medium hard peaks of egg.  Fold the egg white into the coconut.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoon size balls onto the baking tray. They don't need to be perfect balls, I like the look of mounds instead of a ball.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown...watch carefully that they don't burn...lots of sugar in there.
  6. Remove and cool.
Directions for chocolate drizzle:
  1. Stir the chocolate and cream over medium heat until melted smooth.  Remove from heat.
  2. Spoon the chocolate ganache mixture over the tops of the mounds of coconut, allowing the chocolate to ooze down the sides.
  3. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set, keep in refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to serve.

Trista Sutter on Traveling With Kids

It looks like everyone is excited to read about The Bachelorette's Trista Sutter and her travel tips for families!  Have you taken a peek at how she plans for vacations with her kids?  Get some tips and ideas on places to go with your family when traveling this summer!  Head over to Travelingmom.com.

11 June, 2012

Hello Kitty Party For Two

This year, my girls wanted a Hello Kitty party.  Hello Kitty is big over here, featuring a Sanrio store in every mall and Hello Kitty guest appearances quite often.  They didn't really know who Hello Kitty was before coming here, but now, they are in love with her.

It's been a challenge for me to let my creative party planning juices flow over here.  We don't have a Michael's, a JoAnn's, a Target or even a real Dollar Store.  Even tissue paper can be hard to find and expensive if you do (although I now know Paper Chase carries it, 15 AED for 5 sheets...roughly $4.)  I can't go to garage sales and stock up on mismatched shabby chic items, or vintage dessert bowls and cake stands.  And with my kids' birthdays falling in some of the hottest months of the year, June and September, I'm left with indoor options for hosting.  Combine all these elements, and I'm put to the test.  Sadly, for the first time, I was left with hosting a party at a local venue.

*Note to OCD party planners...using a venue means giving up control and not bringing in your own confectionery delights!  Prepare to have something not falling into your exact wishes and desires.

I chose to have the party at the golf club here in town.  They have beautiful green lawns with a full playground for the children to keep busy, we had indoor and outdoor options for entertainment and seating, and someone else would cook, clean and I could relax.  The girls colored Hello Kitty pictures, they played on the trampoline and swings, we had a pinata custom crafted by a local company and plenty of giggles.
The tables and chairs were all decked out in white linens with bubble gum pink satin running down the middle.  White china graced each setting, perfect for a little girls tea party.  I placed a Hello Kitty water bottle at each setting, labeled with the girl's names that I fashioned, as well as a hat and party blower.  A pink lemonade with a pink straw also awaited the girls.  In the center of the girls table, I placed the tissue paper flower bouquet I made using skewers.  On the cake table, I placed individual party favor bags, which I designed after my girls' party dresses and put together, and filled them with Hello Kitty silly bands and Hello Kitty Jelly Belly candy and topped with pinwheels I made as well.  I even made a sign to match the invitation to place above the cake table.  I wish I could have made cake pops and had a pink and white dessert table, but when you use a venue, you typically can't bring in your own food.  However, it really did look sweet and perfect.  I was impressed so far...most of my vision had come together.

But remember that note about being OCD and giving up control?  It was time for lunch to be served. Here, you're dealing with lots of different languages, always trying to make sure you understood what was said, and hoping you have the same interpretation in meanings.  I thought I had relayed my messages about the menu clearly, even providing pictures from my inspiration board for the staff to use as visuals!  However, we ended up with some interesting versions of our food.  Instead of petit peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we had monstrous peanut butter and Jell-O sandwiches!  Instead of yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit, we had yogurt parfaits with jelly...the jelly meant for the sandwiches.  I think a few bites of each were taken by the girls.  But the adults, they laughed, took pictures and thought it was a classic memory.  They even joked that peanut butter and Jell-O sandwiches are going to be all the rage soon!

The cake.  Those of you who know me know I always make my cakes.  But I wasn't allowed to bring in any outside food.  So, in my effort to get exactly what I wanted, I drilled in the fact that I HATE fondant, and I want butter cream ONLY.  I wanted bright red and pale pink with white to match the invitation and my girls' dresses.  Again, I provided a picture from the inspiration board.  Out came the cake, and my face dropped.  My disappointment showed to my guests.  The cake was fondant.  The red was a burnt, deep red (I enhanced the red in the above picture for my pleasure.)  The cake...was frozen.  It wasn't my vision.  Overall, my friends were having fun, regardless of the food and what was supposed to be.  The little girls didn't care.  I was the one who knew what I ordered, not them.  But I was the one who felt the need to disclose the mistakes.  Hostess party foul number one.  Don't show your disappointment.  Chances are, no one even notices but YOU!

My girls?  They LOVED the party.  They profusely thanked me for it.  Other little girls told their moms' that they wanted to have a party like it at the gold club too.  I guess if people talk about it, loved it and want one of their own, you can consider it a success, no matter how much you beat yourself up for the mistakes.  In the car on the way home, I was actually able to truly laugh about it and get over it.  Not easy for me, but the grins on my girls' faces was all that mattered.  Not some crummy old fondant cake.

21 May, 2012


Enchiladas are a favorite in my house, but I often feel "weighed down" by all the ingredients and sauces used.  I wanted to feel a little more guilt free after eating one of my favorite dishes, so I came up with an altered version of the classic...Fajitaladas...Fajita Enchiladas.  I don't often give exact measurements for dishes that are all about personal taste...so add enough to feed your family and satisfy your palette.

Preheat your oven to 350...pretty standard for most things, isn't it?  After slicing your peppers, saute them with onion in a small amount of olive oil until slightly tender.  Add some crushed garlic, and saute for one minute.

Just when you think everything smells super delish, add your ground beef, ground turkey or chicken.  Continue cooking until the pink is just about gone...about 4 minutes. (Beef note: for my Middle East readers...I used to only buy the Australian or Brazilian beef here...thinking it was "safe"...whatever that means.  However, my eyes have been opened to the "Local Beef" section.  What a difference in freshness.  I mean if you think about it...how long is that Australian and Brazilian beef in transit before hitting the shelf?  We now choose the beef we want, and ask for it to be ground or in a specific cut of beef.  We don't even buy the pre-cut and packaged local beef...we get it as fresh as possible.  They also trim it to my liking.  Go ahead, if you haven't already, try it out.)

At this point, add some salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika and if your crowd can handle it, cayenne.  Mix, and add the black beans.  I'll admit it, I just use the canned ones...but organic.  For some reason, the "organic" label just makes me feel better.  Great marketing.

(Spice note: Don't be afraid of your spice rack...don't let them sit around forever.  Make sure you replenish your spices with fresh ones every so often.  Also, take stock of your supply...I've been known to over-buy some spices, leaving me with more than I know what to do!)

In a casserole style dish, coat the bottom with one of three choices: canned enchilada sauce, jarred salsa or my option of choice, "homemade" enchilada sauce.  I say "homemade" because it would be so much better if I took the time to dice and crush tomatoes and gently saute over a low heat until they were nice and cooked, as if making a spaghetti sauce from scratch.  But I have a family of five, a full time job, a few side jobs and the desire to see the outside of my kitchen once in a while. So, I take the short cut...Pomi Crushed Tomatoes.  To this, I add salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder and a bit of sugar.  Voila..."homemade" enchilada sauce.

Fill a flour tortilla with some of the filling and add a little cheese...or no cheese if you're watching your figure.  (Cheese note: I will almost always choose a medium or sharp white cheddar over a yellow cheddar any day.  I love the flavor, and think it really compliments most dishes.)

Roll up and place seam side down in the dish.  Roll and fill until all of your ingredients are gone.  Top with the rest of your enchilada sauce, and then some cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered.  Enjoy!

04 May, 2012

Woody's Roundup Birthday Party

My son was turning five and moving out of the country.  This meant saying good-bye to all his friends and everything he knew as "home."  So, I felt that I needed to throw him an amazing party where he and his friends could create some final memories together.
Enter Woody and the gang!  We transformed our neighborhood park into a Toy Story themed play zone.  The food was was nostalgic and somewhat named after characters, the games too!  We had cherry bites, lemon heads, laffy taffy, Mr. Potato Head's Chips, Rex's Chex Mix, Jessie's Haystacks, Alien Limeade, Cow Tales, hard candy sticks, licorice and more.  For cupcakes, I created grass looking cupcakes with toy soldiers hiding in them.  A smorgasbord of confectionery delights for children to devour, get hyped-up and send home with their parents.  LOL!  
The games included Toy Story Flying Saucers for distance, Pin the Tail on Bulls-eye and other relay games centered around the movie.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves, acting out scenes from the movie and getting into character.  It helped that the local Dollar store had everything we needed for the games...they seemed to carry quite the selection of Toy Story toys perfect for party favors and games.
Chickadee Prints made everything for this event, down to the Woody invitation.  My son was thrilled, and still talks about it all the time.  For some reason, the boy themed parties are harder for me than the girls.  It's hard to top this one, but I'm still trying!

28 April, 2012

Hello, Cupcake! App

Have you downloaded it yet?  Have you?  Have you?  The Hello, Cupcake book just got even better...it's now available in app form.  You can bring the cupcakes to life wherever you are, any time of day.  With stunning visuals and step by step instructions on your iPad and iPhone, you'll be able to create all your favorites.
You are in charge of how fast or slow the instructions proceed, giving you time to master all the techniques and turn out your perfect cupcake for that special someone (or yourself!).  There's even a baking tray to keep all the cupcake projects you want to work on for easy finding.  The app starts you off with ten great cupcakes, and then for only .99 each, you can buy more libraries of cupcakes just waiting to be brought to life.

 You think this is just for you adult cupcake enthusiasts?  No way!  Hand the app over to your kids.  They can watch all the cupcakes "play" using animation.  My kids could sit for hours just watching these, as they giggle away, especially my little animal lover. 

You know me, I LOVE to bake, and ALWAYS make my kids' cakes and cupcakes.  This app just helped me step up my game, and I'm so excited to start baking now.

My favorite things about it
* It's portable.  I can be in the store selecting all the items needed while referring to the recipes.
* It's full of vibrant photos and videos to keep me entertained and wanting more.
* It's kid friendly...I secretly hope my kids get my addiction for baking, and I think this might help.

22 January, 2012

One Mom's Solution - Electronics on Vacay

Tell us what you think...how do you handle electronics on vacation?