Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's a picnic without burgers?

Welcome to Yummy Monday on Tuesday!  Today we begin our series within a series:

where we journey the Internet over to find the best burgers to tantalize your taste buds!  Because what's a picnic without a burger??  Well, ok, that's not true.  You could have a picnic with like fried chicken and potato salad.  Or sandwiches.  Or chicken salad.  Or lots of other stuff.  BUT one of the BEST things to eat on a picnic is a BURGER!

Today I bring you this pretty little number:

Mmmmmm.  And some other great fixin's.  

Alright.  I first discovered this recipe on About.com (barbecues and grilling).  The original recipe really is just a simple burger with bbq sauce.  In the directions, however, it was stated that you could add cheese as well to really make it stand out - so that's what I did.  I added cheddar.

The recipe:

1 1/2 lbs ground round
1/2 C cooked and minced bacon
1/2 C BBQ sauce 
1 small minced onion
French fried onions
Your favorite hamburger toppings
Crusty bun

Mix ingredients together.  Shape mixture into patties.  Cook it in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 7-8 minutes per side for well done.  Butter the bun and toast it.  Place the patty on the bun and top with french fried onions and other toppings.

Tasty, tasty, tasty.  Delicious blend of flavors.  Goes well with lots of normal toppings - ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo - you name it.

Challenges?  Changes?
Yep, yep and yep.  The recipe clearly stated that you could add cheese to the mixture.  Don't do that.  It makes the whole thing crumble to pieces - no adherence at all.  Maybe I should have known this.  But I don't really do burgers - as with all good marriages, that's mr's domain.  If you want cheese in your burger, separate the patties and stuff the cheese inside, then seal the pieces of the patty back up.  DON'T mix it in.  Or, do like normal people do.  Lay the cheese on top.  

Overall Assessment:
Flavor-wise this is a great little burger to go with if you want something simple with just a bit of kick.  It's basically a great ALMOST blank canvas.  It was simple to make and took very little time.  It would be even easier if you used the microwave bacon - which I didn't.  I will try this again for sure - but WITHOUT mixing the cheese into the meat.  

And now, for some fixin's.  Today I bring you:

Super yummy

Summertime Pasta Salad
1 lb uncooked rotini
1 head of broccoli
2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 C miracle whip
3 T vinegar
1/3 C sugar

Cook the pasta, drain, rinse and cool.  Chop the broccoli into small florets and put them in a bowl with the cheese.  Add the pasta.  Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl.  Pour this over the pasta mixture, and mix well.  Chill and serve.

Oh, I know.  It's a repeat... do you remember it from the Döner Kebabs?  Well, it was so yummy I made it again.  Plus wouldn't that be great at the family picnic?  That's what I thought.

Would you like some dessert?  Ok.  Unfortunately, this is all you get:

Yeah, we were too busy eating to take pictures.  This is my all time favorite Summertime family gathering go-to dessert.  It is sooo tasty.  I originally found this recipe in the Kraft magazine. I've made it so many times, that I've tweaked it here and there to make it extra yummy.  Here it is:

Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl
1 package fresh strawberries
3 T sugar
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese
1 1/2 C cold milk
1 small package french vanilla instant pudding
1 pound cake (frozen, store bought or homemade) cut into small cubes
Small carton heavy whipping cream
Chocolate Magic Shell

Wash and cut the strawberries and put them in a bowl.  Sprinkle the sugar on them and mix. Place them in the fridge until ready to use.  Beat the cream cheese until creamy.  Gradually beat in the milk.  Add the pudding mix and beat well.  Set this aside.  Make your heavy cream into whipped cream.  Put it in a mixing bowl and beat it well - for a long time - on high.  When it begins to thicken, add granulated sugar - about 1/4 C - very slowly.  Make sure to add it a little at a time.  Then keep beating until it gets really thick.  Place half of the cream cheese mixture in the bottom of a glass bowl (I use a trifle bowl).  Put the cubes of sponge cake over this, then spoon on the strawberries and juice. Put the rest of the cream cheese mixture over the top.  Top it off with some whipped cream and drizzle the chocolate magic shell over the whole thing.

Trust me - it's delicious.  I've tried all three different kinds of pound cake, and my favorite way to make it is to buy the pound cake from the bakery at the grocery store.  It's almost as good as homemade, but you don't have to take the time to make it!  Take this to your next picnic and wow them!

If you have some good picnic recipes, don't forget to link them up to the "Life's a Picnic!" Linky Party.  I can't wait to see your good ideas!

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vote bugaboo!

Well, with the holidays and photo linky party and picnic linky party and crazy weekend and losing my mind, I almost forget to post this!

One Month To Win It

Did you know I was in this season??  I am!  Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best...

Go vote today!  First round projects are totally UP!  

(And don't forget to link up at those parties up there, peeps!)

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

"Life's a Picnic" Party!

It's here!  The official "Life's a Picnic" Party!  The one-stop shop for all things picnic-y!  Summer is fast approaching (and I mean Chariot's of Fire fast) and what better way to celebrate than with a picnic?  Picnic's SCREAM summer.  They SCREAM fun, sun, family and carefree...

So.  Do you have anything picnic related that you'd like to share?  Perhaps you've created the perfect picnic tote.  Maybe you've made a stellar basket or a fun blanket you take picnicking all the time.  Are there some "go-to" picnic recipes in your arsenal?  Do you have a favorite place to picnic or picnic photography to share?  Maybe you'd just like to post about the best music to listen to on a picnic, or the best clothes to wear, of how to make picnics extra cozy and comfy.  Do you have tips for making picnics fun and easy for younger kids?  Older kids?  Grandma?  Do you know some fun games or toys to make/play while you are picnicking?  


That's right!  Anything that's remotely picnic in its scope should be linked to this party.

It will run from today (May 30th) through Tuesday, August 30th.  I will choose posts to feature about once a week.  

All I ask is that you display the "Life's a Picnic" button on your blog somewhere.  Anywhere.  That's it!  So come picnic with me!

<center><a href="http://bugaboominimrme.blogspot.com/"><img src=" http://i799.photobucket.com/albums/yy276/kbmueller/picnic-1.jpg" /></center>

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

ATW Linky #12 - Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Welcome to "A Thousand Words" - A Snapshot Linky Party!  Get all the details RIGHT HERE!
It's finally here!  Again, sorry for the delay.  See here for details if you missed it...

Last week, our title was "I'll Take a Crack at it."  Here's my favorite photo linked:

by Nikki
This is a purple violin.  PURPLE!  Awesome, right?  Nikki shared her story of planning to learn how to play.  I love that she's taking on a challenging new hobby.

Here's your button, Nikki!

<center><a href="http://bugaboominimrme.blogspot.com/"><img src=" http://i799.photobucket.com/albums/yy276/kbmueller/favoritebutton-1.jpg" /></center>

Loved the other links as well!  Great job, guys!

Our title for this week is

"Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder."

What do you find beautiful?  Do you see common things in uncommon ways?  Have you ever captured someone else enraptured with something beautiful - whether you think it is or not?  Can you turn something ugly into something beautiful?  Lots of ways to look at this one! 

Here are my two ideas:
Firstly, mr LOVES cool architecture, and he is amazed by skyscrapers.  He definitely loved walking around Chicago and in his eyes, the John Hancock building was pretty beautiful.

While I definitely preferred architecture with a lot of history and charm.

My other version of this title is bugaboo.  He's such a funny boy... he loves to pick me bouquets of "flowers".  They may be weeds by other people's standards, but to him they are beautiful.

Oh, and one more picture, but this one's just for fun.  Because I love this girl.

And now it's your turn!

1. Link as many photos as you like - you can put them in one post and link once or put them all in separate posts and link them all.  It's up to you.
2. You are strongly encouraged to use the title as a prompt for snapshots this week.  However, if you can't, you can't.  Linking up archived photos will NOT be frowned upon.
3. You don't need to follow me, but you do need to display the "a thousand words" button proudly.  You can find it on the left sidebar. 
4. Visit loads of people and comment.
5. By linking up you're giving me permission to include your linked photo in any features I do in the future.   I will never link to your other photos, just the one you put in the linky.
6. This is a week long party, it runs from Sunday to Sunday.
7. Be sure to come back next week!

Next week's title: (suggested to us by Emily from Insanity Rules) "Good Things Come in Small Packages."  (thanks, Emily!)
What tiny treasures are there in your life?  Can you find small packages that pack something GREAT?  Your kids?  Pets?  Little snacks you're fond of?  You decide...

Check back to link your versions, see my version and view the features from this week's linky.

If you have ideas for future titles, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.  Thanks!

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

I don't want to grow up.

I will begin with the apologies.  First off, sorry my snapshot linky is late.  My bad.  But not REALLY my fault, because mr surprised me with a fun date to make up for missing our anniversary.  Which leads me to my second apology: sorry to my two super awesome friends, El and Jaime.  If I had known I was going to be in town, I would have at least called you.  But it was a surprise, you hear me?  A surprise!  And we were literally only there long enough to see the show and leave...

Oh, you want to know what that's all about, huh?  If you've been reading for a while, you know that mr was in Argentina during our 5 year anniversary, and was gone for a grand total of "I have no idea how long it's been because these kids have driven me well past insanity and back and will he PLEASE come home already?" days.  Not to whine again, but it was hard.  So on Saturday, mr took me to see Peter Pan in Chicago!  And let me tell you, it was seriously one of the most amazing things I've EVER seen.  Think Peter Pan's just for kids?  You're wrong.  This particular version was produced by a touring company from London called 360 degrees.  They perform in a temporary "tent" - the coolest tent I've ever seen - and the production included all  kinds of different art forms - dance, aerial dance, music, singing, fight choreography, acting (of course) and 3-D projections.  

The upper walls, or dome area, of the tent became a huge projection screen - which made the entire play a combination of IMAX movie and live theatre.  To say it was magical would be an understatement.  This is all aside from the fact that Peter Pan holds a special place in my heart - being a longtime childhood favorite AND one of the first leading roles I played in high school.  Well, that was a long explanation - but simply because of the amazing-ness of the date, and the thoughtfulness of the hubby, and the much needed break from children, I knew you would be understanding about my late snapshot linky.

Before I get to that post, though, I wanted to share my scavenger hunt photos!

Classic Still Life
Nothing stiller than this cat napping.  Trust me.  
Self Portrait
Relaxing in the Spring grass.
On the Floor
mr napping on the floor while mini tries out his flip flops.
The 'L' Tracks in Chicago.
Nothing better than a fresh, sunny Spring afternoon, and lots of fresh sprinkler water!

I also wanted to share my photo for KatEye View's Exploring with a Camera prompt, which is "Form." 

I had a super hard time with this.  I still am not convinced this is a stellar depiction of form, but it's the one I'm going with.

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Flowers for Mother's Day... oh come on. It wasn't THAT long ago.

Well, Mother's Day was almost a full month ago, so I figure it's time for me to show you something I concocted for the ladies in my family.  You know... I don't want to be TOO late...

No tutorial here, but some very easy projects that my mom, sister and sister IL all really liked.  First of all, check out these roses, here at frugallife.

I happened upon these flowers and the corresponding tutorial linked in the post on frugallife and knew I had to make them for SOMETHING!  Now, of course, you've seen them all over the place - wreaths, shoes, fabric versions, etc, etc, etc.  If you want to make some yourself, you couldn't follow a better tutorial.  

I made my roses out of felt and created three different looks based on the taste of my family members.  The only change I made (from the tutorial) was using hot glue instead of glue dots (you know, since I used felt and not paper.)

First, a simple felt flower brooch for my mom.

Neutral with a pop of color - she loves yellow and it's perfect for Spring.  (Sidenote: Do you think it's funny that my mom, sister and I all have the same favorite color?)  I just grouped three rolled flowers on a piece of felt and hot glued a pin on the back.

Here was my sister's present:

For this one, I upcycled a broken necklace.    It's a really long chain - like 30 inches - and I simply took it apart by unclasping a link.  I made the bright and cheerful row of flowers - my sister LOVES color.  I grouped them in a soft curve on a piece of felt.  I glued a black beads from the necklace onto the flower piece.  Then I simply glued the ends of the chain to the ends of the flower piece.  I then hot glued a felt piece over that - sandwiching the ends of the chain in between.  She wears it with the chain doubled and the flowers on the side (wish I had a picture of that... but take my word for it that it's super cute...)

And finally (and I do believe my personal favorite), a headband for my sister IL:

She's a fan of orange and wears it often in the spring and summer.  I really like the tiny buds on this one coupled with the larger blooms, the colors put together, and the sparkly headband.  Obviously, I made this one in the same way - I hot glued the flowers to a piece of felt, hot glued this to the headband, then hot glued another felt piece over that - sandwiching the headband between.  

I'm a huge fan of how you can take one project and create so many different looks - not just the physical item (be it headband, pin, necklace, etc) bit the way it's put together and the colors used... it can be bright and cheerful, elegant and understated, a statement piece, or just plain fun!

Just a little something.  You know, to say Happy Mother's Day.  Like a really long time ago.  Cuz that's how I roll.

(PS, I did actually give these to them ON Mother's Day... I just waited to post it...)

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Honeymoon Story: Part Dos

If you haven't been following along, you can read the thrilling 

A Honeymoon Story 
 The First Episode of a Longstanding Tradition in Unlucky Travels and How I Came to Appreciate American Soil 
The Mexico Debacle

After an uneventful night in Houston, we finally made it to Cancun, a day late and a dollar short - literally.  And NOW nothing would stop us from having the most perfect time on our honeymoon!
We took the airport shuttle over to Thrifty car rental without incident but once there, were informed that we couldn't rent a car in Mexico without insurance. This means we would need to put a hold on our credit card for $4000.  This would be perfectly acceptable - if we even owned a credit card.  We did not.  And we certainly did not have $4000 on our debit card.  
If we had been staying right in Cancun at an all-inclusive resort we wouldn’t have needed a car at all.  But we weren’t.  We were staying in a little village called Tulum in a tiny cabana on the beach.  And just for the record, Tulum is about an hour and a half south of Cancun.  A little too far to hike.
(unrelated - I think it's hilarious that there are more McDonald's in this area of Mexico than any other restaurant.  And even more hilarious that they are all listed on a map of local attractions.)
At that point, we ran into an American couple who gave us the tip that we should take a bus, and it would only run us $60.  We could handle that.  Who needs a car in Mexico anyway?  But when we got back to the airport, we were flagged down by a friendly Mexican guy before we could find a bus.  He offered us a deal on a rental car.  It seemed a little shifty so we told him we’d just take a shuttle.  
But he wanted to make a deal, BAD.  “How about $300?” He said.  “No,” I responded, “Because we don’t have any money for insurance.”  “Is included!”  He said. Then I told him we didn’t have $300 to spend on a car.  He thought we were playing hard to get, but I was just being honest.  It’s easy to bargain with people when you really don’t have any money, I guess.  
“Ok. $250?” He asked.  “Insurance too?”  I asked, in disbelief.  He assured us again that it was included.  mr asked if there’d be a hold on our debit card.  “No, no,” The man explained, “I don’t want your card, I only take cash.  No hold.”  It was either too good to be true, or too good to be legal.  We weren’t sure which, but we WERE pretty desperate.  Plus, both of us have a hard time saying no.
All we had were traveler’s checks and the debit card.  We had to get to an ATM so we could pay in cash.  The Mexican guy, who told us his name was Nacho (short for Ignatio I guess), took us into the airport and introduced us to his brother, Jaime - who spoke MUCH less English - and promptly left us there.  Jaime showed us to the ATM, which we couldn’t get to work.  No matter what we tried, it kept telling us we had no money.  Which was ludicrous.
Every time things started to go right, something else came up.
Now we had no car AND no cash.  We couldn’t figure out why our card wasn’t working and we needed to call our bank.  But (as you'll remember from our previous episode), we had no cell phone.
Jaime was nice enough to lend us his phone to make the expensive international calls.  (These brothers are either very nice or very desperate for some renters...)
The next 20 minutes were a blur of phone calls, panicked conversations, worried looks and sinking feelings in the pits of stomachs.  When mr finally got off the phone, we had news.  And it wasn't good.  Through miscalculations, forgetfulness and a little carelessness we had inadvertently left the country with no money in our bank accounts.  None.  The bank would let us apply for more credit, but we wouldn’t hear back until the next day as to whether we were approved or not.
So, here we stood with Jaime - no phone, no way to the cabana and only $60 in cash and $150 in traveler’s checks - and our situation was starting to look a little dire.  As I turned to Jaime to explain the predicament, I was mentally preparing myself to spend 10 days in the airport subsisting on ketchup and saltines, a la Tom Hanks in “The Terminal.”  I sadly filled Jaime in and let him know he needed to find other customers - preferably some that could pay him.
And this was his response: “Hey, no problem.  You can fill out the paperwork, take the car today and pay me tomorrow.”  When mr pointed out that we weren’t staying in Cancun,  Jaime said again, “No problem!  You take the car and I will come pick the money up in Tulum tomorrow.”  Again, it seemed too good to be true.  
And at the same time, completely irresponsible.  Why would we make a deal with a complete stranger in a foreign country that is known for some shady stuff when we didn’t even know if we could, in actuality, uphold our side of the bargain in the end?  Are you holding your breath for us now?  Because you should be.
So we did it.  Jaime took us to the shop, gave us an old beater of a car, we signed our money away (money we didn’t even have) and we took our luggage, our maps and our English to Spanish dictionary and drove away.
Don't judge us... we were newlyweds who only wanted to enjoy our honeymoon, trying desperately to make that happen in any way we could.  You do crazy things for love, right?
This would not be the last crazy thing we did on our trip.

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!
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