Running Made Pretty

IMG_7567My Susie side struck at the race expo last month. While admiring the newest colors and styles of headbands with my best friend and our moms, my alter ego took over.  The headbands retail for $15 and I could have easily found three or four to add to my collection. (I already own five) But why buy what you can make. This was fueled on when my best friend’s mom noticed that the headbands were made of two different types of ribbon and elastic. It sounded too easy to be true. So why was the booth packed with runners? People could be making their own. It’s probably because of the number one excuse I hear: I don’t have time. I do understand how this can be the case, but this one was worth the five minutes it took to assemble and the $13.50 in savings. Even better is that they stay in place while you run.



16″ of sparkle ribbon (or any decorative ribbon)

16″ of velvet ribbon (found in the cut-by-the-yard section of the craft store)

7″ of 1/4″ elastic


1. Pin the wrong sides of the ribbons together leaving about the last two inches free. Fold under about one inch of the right sides of the ribbons.

IMG_75632. Insert the elastic about an inch in.

3. Sew across this seem.

IMG_75664. Turn and sew on the outer most edge of the ribbons until you get to the last inch at the bottom.

5. Fold in the right sides of the ribbon as before and insert the elastic. Sew this edge.

6. Finish sewing up the side. I did reinforce the elastic ends with an additional seem.


How to Wow Your Friends with Frosting

15 - 4About seven years ago, my husband and I were out to lunch when we discovered our favorite frosting. We had stopped at local hot spot, known for their over sized sweets. As we were finishing up lunch they restaurant was handing out samples of their newest cupcake flavors; chocolate cupcake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting was one of them. The taste was heavenly and stayed with us the whole ride home. As we are known to do we started trying to figure out the recipe just from taste. (I’m told “normal” people don’t do this) It’s hard to remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure my Susie side took over within the next few days trying to recreate the frosting.

Now seven years later it is still my most requested frosting and my own personal favorite. In my busy month of February I made up at least two batches of this for different functions. Usually I’ll put it on a chocolate cupcake because the two flavor complement each other without overpowering the other.Cupcakes work well in supplying an equal amount of frosting to cake. I have put the frosting on a whole chocolate cake before, but personally prefer the cupcake better. IMG_0238

You don’t have to limit this frosting to chocolate cupcakes either. Because of the light texture it can also pair well with banana or even carrot cakes. I had some leftover once and put it on top of store bought brownie bites. Even a semi Susie made can add a special touch.

cupcakePeanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz soften cream cheese

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 lb box of 10x sifted powered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 Tbsp milk

1. Beat the peanut butter and cream cheese together at medium speed until light and fluffy

2. Add in the vanilla extra and combine.

3. Slowly and in small batches work in the powered sugar.

4. Mix in the milk until the desired constancy is reached.

This recipe is modified from one on by Anita Harris. I just use more powered sugar.

Where’s Susie Been? -Celebrating and Running

I don’t know about you, but February is always a crazy month in my house. Maybe it’s because the month is actually short or the warming Florida weather leaves me wanting to be outside. It could be because we have so many things to celebrate with Valentine’s Day, my sister’s birthday and my birthday all in a twelve day stretch. Whatever the reason my Susie side has been busy and now it’s time to share. 

IMG_7871Adding to the fun, this year I ran the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge. A two day event where you run the Enchanted 10K on Saturday and the Princess half marathon on Sunday. This was the second time I’ve ran the Princess half marathon and the third Disney race I’ve run. (I’ve also run the Disney half marathon last January). My best friend and I signed up for the challenge together after being inspired by last year’s inaugural event. And my mom decided she wanted to run her first half marathon and got registered for the Sunday race.

15 - 615 - 5Knowing the magic that is a Disney race, we decided we wanted costumes. In the past this was something we only thought about a few days in advance. Several different ideas were tossed around, but running skirts are expensive and we wanted one for each race. Susie to the rescue. I found a great video tutorial on how to make a simple running skirt and we were in business.

15.1For the Enchanted 10K we chose to dress like Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. Partly because I already had the top from my Halloween costume. Since there were three of us for the half marathon we decided to be three of the fairies from the Tinkerbell movies. (Tinkerbell, Rosetta and Silvermist)

15 - 2Each skirt was made pretty much the same way with two side seams instead of one like in the video. But for the fairy skirts we wanted them to have a little more flair so we scalloped the bottom to represent the different fairy. IMG_7564Though this process I learned that the fairy fabric was much easier to work with then the shiny fabric we used for our Frozen skirts. I also found that measuring the elastic tighter around the waste worked better when it came to actually running in these skirts.

We had a wonderful time with the challenge and my mom did an amazing job completing her first half marathon. Our costumes added to the fun of the weekend and each only cost was about $6. 15 - 3

Raspberry White Chocolate Magic Bars

My girls and I had a few friends over to play last week and I wanted to make a sweet treat to share. I had made these for a holiday cookie exchange and figured they would be just about right for a Valentine’s Day treat, too. The bars were a huge hit with the playgroup and my husband was very excited by their reappearance. They also pair well with a nice glass of white wine for when the kids have gone to bed.

Magic bars were a family tradition around my house when I was growing up, and they are now. I was delighted to find tons of fun variations while searching Pinterest. The original post for the raspberry magic bars is good and I have found myself going back to check out what else Trish on “Mom on Timeout” has posted. I did make a few changes to fit my personal preference which is why I decided to share my version.


Raspberry White Chocolate Magic Bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

6 Tbsps melted butter

1 Tbsp sugar

3 cups sweetened coconut flakes

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2- 2 cups raspberry preserves

1 cup white chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar together then stir in the melted butter. Press into the bottom of a parchment lined 9 x 13 baking pan.

3. Layer the coconut flakes and semisweet chocolate chips on top of the crust. Place in oven and back for 20-25 minutes or until the coconut has browned slightly.

4. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the oven off.

5. Spread raspberry preserves on top. Sprinkle the white chocolate chips on top of the preserve layer.

6. Place back in the cooling oven for 10 minutes or until the chocolate is softened.

7. Remove from oven and use a knife to swirl the softened chocolate across the top of the preserves.

Valentine’s Decorations

When I was taking down the Christmas decorations, my 4-year-old started crying when I got to the trees. She said she loved them and they were beautiful and that we should just leave them up all year. I tried to explain that part of the wonder of the decorations was that they were only up for a little while. That this is what makes them special and we’d be decorating for Valentine’s Day soon enough. The compromise we made was that we could turn the little playroom tree into a Valentine’s Day tree. Grammie sent the girls ornaments they could make for decorating the tree and we used a garland we had from last year. So the tree lives on for now. (I do wonder how it will go over at the end of month when I finally take the tree down.)IMG_7657

After the girls and I finished the tree, my mom’s group had a craft night. (Arts and crafts, not craft beer like my husband thought, we did that one last month.) The holiday decorations continued and we made a button heart on canvas as well as word blocks. Many thanks to the talents of our hostess of the event. Now I was feeling inspired to add more decorations to the house. I pulled out the few items we had, but didn’t have anything to use on the fireplace mantle. Having wanted to try my hand at the mesh garlands all over Pinterest and the craft stores this seemed like the right opportunity.IMG_7655 IMG_7656

I read a blog, had studied several of these garlands and wreaths in the stores and all over Pinterest, so I felt like this would be a fairly easy project. Those are always famous last words. I used a store bought garland as the base and attached the mesh with pipe cleaners I cut in half.IMG_7460 IMG_7462 IMG_7466 The challenge came in with bending and bunching the mesh. I started out lining everything up nice and even. First I attached the middle then went and attached both ends and was trying to work in, but wasn’t getting the desired look. IMG_7463So I scrapped all the even measurements and just free-handed it. I used my hand as a basic guide and tried to eyeball the size of the mesh loop.IMG_7465 I think that the problem was that my garland didn’t have the ties already attached and it wasn’t a wire base. My end result doesn’t look anything like the professional ones. Looks like I’ll have to make more as I work on this skill.

IMG_7473Links use:

Word Blocks

Button Heart

Mesh Garland

Valentines’ Day ornaments at Michael’s Craft Store


Seven New Recipes for the New Year

In my last post I shared the new recipes I was planning to try for the new year. Here are the results. All in all this was a success, even if it did have its challenges. There were points I wanted to just make an easy family favorite and call it a night.  Plus I did have to adjust my time frame a little to allow for leftovers. My husband raved about one of the recipes and has requested I make it again. The others were good, but each needed a few changes if I made them again. I’ve listed the recipes below in order of our preference, Number Seven being our least favorite and Number One our most favorite. The rating is based on how much we enjoyed each dish, how kid-friendly it was, if it was an easy weeknight dish, and how likely I am to make them again.

15 - 1#7: Garlic Honey Chicken in the slow cooker– I know that chicken breasts are the go-to health cut of meat, but they just don’t have enough fat to hold up to the slow cooker. The sauce was nice and really helped since my chicken was over cooked and dry. If I made this again I’d use chicken thighs and add a can of diced pineapples to add a little acidity to the party.

IMG_7488#6: Butternut Squash Soup in the slow cooker – I love the idea of soup in the slow cooker. You toss in wonderful vegetables with some chicken broth and let it cook away. We used homemade turkey stock leftover from the holidays and had very high hopes based on the smell as it cooked. In the end it was a very healthy soup, but a little one-dimensional. If I made it again I’d start with a roux (butter and flour cooked, then add in the liquid) to form a thick creamy base for the soup. A roux however does take away some of the simplicity of the toss-and-go method of the slow cooker.

IMG_7532#5: Alton Brown’s Lamb Shoulder Chops with Red Wine- The only reason this one isn’t higher on my list is because my four year old wouldn’t eat it. I don’t think she liked the smell of the rosemary in the braising liquid. The sauce was incredible. I used dried apricots and dried cranberries because that’s what I had on hand and it worked wonderfully together. To be sure, I also used boneless pork chops (because I had them already) and they didn’t have enough fat to stand up to the cooking time.  I should have known better.

IMG_7508#4: Chicken Pinwheels – This was a great way to use food from my refrigerator that my children loved. Instead of canned cranberry sauce I used the leftover cranberry dipping sauce I had made earlier in the week. I did only put the cranberry sauce on half of the roll because I wasn’t sure my girls would go for it. Which did turn out to be a good idea. One thing I learned was that when rolling up it does need be pretty tight in order to make a pretty pinwheel when cut. This would have been easier if the dough was colder. I had it sitting out for several minutes before I was ready to roll.

IMG_7541#3: King Ranch Casserole–  The flavors in this dish were great and it made several servings. However the recipe called for 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 1/2-2 cups of chicken broth. This was way too much liquid. Next time I will only use one of the soups and maybe half of the chicken broth. Assembly and baking were nice and easy for a weeknight meal, plus it was child approved in my house. (And wasn’t bad for breakfast either.)

IMG_7553#2: Baked Bow-tie Pasta with Winter Squash-  What a quick and easy weeknight meal. (If I had followed the recipe exactly) The flavors were great. The two things I did wrong were using fresh squash (which was only wrong because of the time it took to peal, cut and precook it) and I used corkscrew noodles because I ran out of bow-ties. The corkscrews didn’t go as well with the sauce. The good addition I made was adding sausage to the dish. It gave the whole thing a nice smokey flavor and tied everything together. I foresee trying this one again for pasta Thursdays.

IMG_7509#1: Goat Cheese and Leek Tarts– Everything about this one was great. The goat cheese wasn’t exactly kid friendly, but because you are making individual tarts that’s an easy thing to fix. I’ve worked with puff pastry in the past, and not had great success with it. This recipe gives wonderful instructions for getting the nice tart shape out of the puff pastry. I used more of my cranberry sauce on top, just because it was what I had on hand. Next time I will try it with the apricot preserve. And there will be a next time.

If you try one of these recipes let me know how it worked out for you and if you liked it or not.


Menu Planning for the New Year

Before we moved, we had a pretty loose concept of menu planning and grocery shopping. We pretty much went to the store every day or two, or if it got too late in the day and didn’t have a good idea for dinner then we’d go out. Alas, this is not a good solution, and taking two hungry and tired children to the store is not my idea of a fun time. So when I started my adventure as a stay-at-home mom I knew I needed to do something to help me plan meals for the week and cut my shopping trips (and our food budget) down to one or two a week. I plan, but I’m not perfect. And I usually forget something, so I give myself the slack of going back during the week once. After a thorough hunt through Pinterest, I found just the thing for me; a collage frame converted into a menu board. I used scrapbook paper as a background plus letter stickers to add the days of the week. Then I use dry erase markers to write on the glass. On Sundays I plan out our week and do the grocery shopping. The girls get daddy time and I get a few hours of peace and quiet to do the shopping.

After several months of using my board, I’ve settled into a routine:

  • Mondays are my slow-cooker days because my oldest has choir rehearsal until 5:15 and making dinner when we get home is too challenging.
  • Tuesdays I usually try a new recipe since I have a little more time those days.
  • Wednesdays can be busy, so that’s my easy recipe day. I pull from old favorites or use the slow cooker again.
  • Thursdays are pasta days. This is because I’ve used up all the fresh meat I bought on Sundays, and we’re not big fans of frozen meat.
  • Fridays are fish: the hubby usually picks up something fresh from the local market on his way home Thursday night. If not, it’s leftovers.

When planning I keep a list of our favorites by the family calendar. On Pinterest I have two separate boards for dinner, one for dishes to make again and the other for dishes to try. I also take inspiration from one of our favorite shows, “Good Eats,” and any of the number of cookbooks we (Alright,  my husband) has collected over the years.


This formula has served us well, but this December was so busy that I never really tried new recipes and fell back on the easy ones too often — and not always the healthy ones, either.  This leads me to my decision to try seven new recipes for the first week of the new year. I’m hopeful that this will give me more to add to my growing list of family favorites and re-inspire me to try more new things. Here’s the list of new recipes I’m trying. I’ll give a full run down when I’m done. But we do have at least one I’ll be making again soon.

Recipe 1:  Butternut Squash Soup in the slow cooker from the book “Great American Slow Cooker Book”

Recipe 2: Goat Cheese and Leek Tarts (this is the one I’ll be making again soon)

Recipe 3: Turkey Pinwheels (but I used chicken and my left over cranberry sauce)

Recipe 4: Honey Garlic Chicken in the slow cooker

Recipe 5: Alton Brown’s Lamb Shoulder Chops with Red wine (but I’m going to use pork chops instead)

Recipe 6: King Ranch Casserole in the Joy of Cooking

Recipe 7: Baked Bow-Tie Pasta with Winter Squash

This was harder then I thought it was going to be. The challenge I ran into was that so many recipes that sounded great were not things that could be easily prepared with two children biding for my attention on a weeknight. The other challenge was that I do have a great list of favorites. Many recipes I came across were things I already make a variation of regularly (or sparingly as the calories may apply).

I always feel the new year is about trying new things, setting goals, and working towards a better you. I think trying new recipes will help us do just that. As I continue “Try it Tuesday,” as I like to call it, I’m going to shoot for trying foods we’ve never eaten or cooked with before. The market is full of veggies I’ve always been too timid to try and do anything with, but not this year. No need to go out to a restaurant. In this house, we’re making it ourselves.

Hand-Knitted Christmas Gifts

IMG_4838On January 1st, 2014, I decided that one of my new year’s resolutions was going to be to really learn to knit. Up to this point I knew only one stitch; plus I could cast on and off. This meant I could only ever knit scarves. I had friends who were producing amazing hand-knitted pieces, and it inspired me. So thank you Jill Zielinski of Knitterella and Natalie Rush of Barknknit. Without your amazing designs and beautiful handiwork I would have been unwilling to learn the skill of knitting.

After the move, and when life started to settle down, I took a beginning knitting class at my local yarn shop in August. The lovely ladies at Yarn Therapy in Tallahassee, Florida, made learning a fun and relaxing experience. As a teacher, I’m not always the best student, but these women were so knowledgeable about their craft that I was immediately hooked. At the end I was comfortable enough to start reading patterns and got started by searching free patterns on

I love making gifts for my family and friends. A homemade gift is much more personal then something generic bought in the store. Here’s a list of my favorite things to make as gifts. They were easy and quick enough that I could get everyone’s done in time.


Fingerless gloves: These are great for us Florida girls, so I made one for each of my nieces and then added a cute bottle of nail polish to finish off the gift.

Cupcake Mittlets by Shantha Ramachandran

A variation of Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts by Susie Rogers

Easy Fingerless Mitts by Maggie Smith

IMG_7223Pulswarmer Rosemarie by Knitarin-Karin Hess


Infinity Scarves: Since these are all the trend right now and much of my family lives up north these were great to make. I’m looking forward to having time to make one for myself.

Chuck Knit Infinity/Eternity Cowly by Jayna Grasel at JJCrochet

Loose Knit Infinity Scarf by Moira at Devise.Create.Concoct

Triple Play Infinity Scarf by Brenda Bourg at Yarnspirations

Feather Lace Infinity Scarf by Pamela Young


Hats: The guys in my family are not easy to buy gifts for, but I hope they all like the hats I made each of them.

Schneeflocke Hat by Liz Deane

Brandon Ribbed Beanie Hat by Mindy Vasil

Man Thing by Justyna Lorkowska

Dina Hat by Stevie Holcomb


Teachers/Work Gifts: I knitted each a coffee cozy to go around a travel mug packed with treats. After making ten of these I’m feeling really good about my cable knitting skills, a provisional cast on(I learned how from VeryPinkKnits) on and kitchenering. This is a technique for sewing together the ends of a piece.(I learned how from Very Pink Knits on Youtube) the finished product together. I tried a few different patterns, but my favorite was a variation on Pumpkin Spice by Evan Middleton. Instead of putting in the button and the button holes I did a provisional cast on and just started right away with the cable. Then I kitchenered the final piece together.