Spring is in the air! We’ve passed the dreaded lost hour of sleep and are moving nicely into a spring that I hope will be full of lovely wildflowers, new recipes to try, and lots of fun samples. Are you starting to see some wildflowers yet? We are (though no bluebonnets just yet), and I love seeing all the lovely colors when I’m out and about. I’ve had a great week with lots of things that I’m bursting to share, so let’s not waste any time.
Through Wednesday, you should be able to buy a Starbucks espresso drink before 11 AM and return with your receipts after 2 PM for 50% off another espresso drink. If the weather’s not at nice where you are, this could come in very handy.
On the free sample front, you might want to check your Kraft First Taste account. (Discussed here.) I’ve heard a lot of chatter on the blogvine and seen in my own account that there are new coupons available. Personally, I had the opportunity to print a coupon for $1.50 off Philadelphia Cooking Creme and get a coupon mailed to me for a free Kraft Fresh Take (a pouch that includes cheese, spices, and breadcrumbs). According to the site, they are launching 4 new flavors of the cooking creme: Savory Lemon & Herb, Creamy Pesto, Reduced Fat Italian Cheese & Herb, and Reduced Fat Savory Garlic.
I got to watch Larry Crowne recently and found it to be an enjoyable movie. The premise was a little different from what I was expecting, but I did enjoy watching it. My beef with it was that *Semi-spoiler alert* Julia Roberts’ character was married while she was showing interest in Larry. The movie is PG-13, so they did include some completely unnecessary (as it always is) cursing and somewhat suggestive language. Overall though, the story line was engaging and the characters had some great developments and chemistry.
I also wanted to tell you about a great book that a friend kindly loaned me (Thanks JC!), and which I thoroughly enjoyed. As you may have noticed, I like to read a LOT with a lot of variety. One genre that I turn to often is children’s books. I enjoy reading them, and there is the plus of not (usually) having to worry about coarse language or sex scenes. The Borrowers is a great example of a children’s book that can also be enjoyed by adults. I had never read this book before, and I really enjoyed reading about the Clocks and their miniature world.
Another new thing I got to try recently was making my own wrinkle releaser. I am not a fan of ironing, so when Downy first came out with their wrinkle release spray, I became a big fan. I like to take my clothes out of the dryer right when they’re done, so usually I just need to get rid of some creases from where they’re folded. A long time ago, I bought a pretty large bottle, but lately it takes a while to get anything to come out. I put it on my grocery list, but then decided that I should see if I could make my own (after all, it’s not cheap). I looked it up on Pinterest and found several blogs that all contained the same easy DIY recipe: 1 tsp. of liquid fabric softener + 1 c. of water (preferably distilled) = wrinkle releaser. Once I read the recipe, I figured that I had nothing to lose, I picked up some distilled water (92 cents) and used a liquid fabric softener sample that I got a while ago. So for less than $1, I completely refilled my bottle of wrinkle release spray. I tested it on a very creased undershirt, and found that it works perfectly. All you need to do is find a cheap fabric softener with a scent that you like and you’ll be on your way to fresh, smooth clothes.
I am truly blessed to belong to a wonderful church that has introduced me to so many wonderful people that have become dear friends. One of these dear friends (Thank you SE!) recently gave me her “old” Kitchenaid mixer. Her husband was getting her a new one, so she decided to give her old one (that works great) to someone she knew would use it often. In case you’re still wondering, she gave it to me, and I am SOOOOO grateful that she did. I’ve wanted a Kitchenaid for a while, but it just wasn’t in our budget yet. While I do plan on picking one out for myself some time in the future, I will enjoy using this one for as long as possible. I wanted to thank her for such an amazing gift, so I whipped up a batch of delicious, crispy, chewy chocolate chip cookies from my favorite blogger. I’ve made them before, but they were even easier to whip up in the Kitchenaid. (And in case you’re wondering, they are indeed crispy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. They’re the hubby’s favorite recipe!)
Crispy, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Smitten Kitchen)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. melted butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a couple cookie sheets. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugars til well blended.
2. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and yolk til the mix is light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients til just blended.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart on your prepared cookie sheets.
4. Bake 10-12 minutes or til the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on the baking sheets a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
And last, but not least: another installment of our movie and recipe pairing. This week’s movie selection was Hitch (trailer here). This hilarious movie is about Alex “Hitch”ens (Will Smith) who works as a dating consultant. While working on his hardest job ever – pairing a geeky accountant (Kevin James) with a sophisticated heiress (Amber Valetta) – he meets his kryptonite in gossip reporter Sara Milas (Eva Mendes). This movie is so hilarious that I had a difficult time not including the entire script as my favorite lines. I finally paired it down to these selections: “Life is not the amount of breaths you take; it’s the moments that take your breath away.”; “That was shockingly awful.”; “Do you have a pen?” “Yes, yes, I do.”; “What if fine isn’t good enough? What if I want extraordinary?”; and “90% of what you say, isn’t coming out of your mouth.” There are also a number of really great scenes that have too many lines for me to give you. If you get a chance to watch it, pay special attention to: the opening scene, the scene when Alex and Sara first meet, Alex asking Sara for a date, Alex teaching Albert to dance (hilarious!!!!!), and the wrap-up at the end. There is some mild language, but on the whole it’s a great movie. I also love how Eva’s hair is done throughout the movie.
Since this is another movie without a lot of food scenes, I decided to do another mocktail recipe. I still had some pineapple juice from last week, so I decided to a virgin pina colada that corresponded to the warmer weather we’ve been experiencing and the summer feel of the movie. I am so glad that I did; this drink is delicious and a great treat at the end of the day (kudos to whoever came up with the idea of mixing pineapple juice with cream). The recipe is easy (especially if you blend it with your handy-dandy immersion blender) and quick. I did tweak it just a little. I didn’t have heavy cream, so I used sweet cream flavored coffee creamer; I also didn’t add in the sugar since I thought it would be sweet enough without it (and I think I prefer it this way). While it’s completely delicious as is, I think it would be fun to try it with coconut milk instead of regular milk. I hope to make it many more times as the weather warms up, so I’ll let you know.
Virgin Pina Colada (from AllRecipes.com)
1 c. ice
1 1/4 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender til smooth.
P.S. – I also put mine in the freezer for a little while and found it delightfully slushy after a couple hours. Enjoy!