Thursday, July 22, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake dreams

I had a request I GLADLY accepted. A client wanted a Strawberry Shortcake invitation for his little girl.
As always I gather my research and design ideas by looking at the characters on the web.
Strawberry Shortcake holds a VERY special place in my heart!
I loved her growing up.. and all her friends.
I had the small dolls, the big doll, the kissing baby, audio cassettes and storybooks, clothes, costumes, sleeping bag.... need I go on?
That is why I jumped at the chance to do this!
I have 3 boys whom I more than adore but I dont get to relive my childhood toys with them like Tom does.
This was my way to relive it.. I thought.
So after doing my research, I came out prepared to do this invitation but left feeling empty.
I guess I really do want a baby girl.
Too bad that will never happen :(

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pickled What? Watermelon Rinds?

Yes, I am serious! 
These are awesome!
I know most of y'all have never heard about pickled watermelon rinds and the concept sounds totally bizarre.
As with most oddly intriguing foods, it's a southern thing apparently.
If you forgot (or are new), I am originally a northerner. And not just any northerner - A New Yorker!
So, we never heard of pickled watermelon rinds either.
Don't forget, it's all about time in NY.
There is never enough so there are no homemade biscuits made with pride or amazing fried chicken or sweet tea... all are too labor intensive or take too much time for a Northerner's schedule.
We moved down south more than 4 years ago (but I always said y'all).
OK, I can babble about anything apparently. Back to the pickles. Besides the fact that they are kinda unusual (which makes for wonderful gifts), they taste amazing AND are cheaper than cucumber pickles to make!
My house always has pickles. My hubby and all 3 boys adore pickles. Hubby is always coming home with more. Generally a locally made brand, Mt. Olive Pickles (which are very yummy, so go look for them next time you're out). Hubby wanted to show the boys how to make pickles. I should rephrase that. He wanted the boys to see how pickles were made. I rephrased since I'd be the one actually showing them :) So we saved our Mt. Olive pickle jars for "one day".
One day arrived. I had a plan. I bought the kidlets a seedless watermelon. I cut off all the rind and cubed the melon for them. I saved the rind. Here's the recipe I used....
B Sunshine recipe for Pickled Watermelon Rinds
Adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

  • 2 quarts watermelon rind (equal to one medium-sized melon)
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 3 quarts water
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon dried lemon peel

Trim most of the pink flesh from the rind (leaving a trace amount adds a nice color to the pickles). Cut rind into long 1/2"-1" long strips. This makes it easier to the get the green part of the rind off. Take a vegetable peeler and peel the green off. Cut white rind strips into 2" pieces (so they are about 1/2" by 2").

Combining 3 quarts water and 3/4 cup salt make the brine. Refrigerate for at least five hours but prefer overnight.

Drain; rinse. Cover the watermelon with water and bring to a boil; continue cooking until fork-tender, about another 5-7 minutes. Please note, overcooking will cause the rinds to become rubbery. Drain.

Combine sugar, vinegar, water and spices. Boil 5 minutes and then pour over watermelon. Refrigerate as little as 3 hours (if you have time, overnight works wonderfully).

Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling; reduce heat to medium-high and 15 minutes and pack into hot jars. Cover with boiling syrup. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space (if needed). Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel and seal.

Note: Since we reused commercial jars, the heat sucked in the seal (hot jars+hot pickles). Not that we needed a seal, once they cooled in the fridge, we ate the whole jar!!!

They are cute aren't they? I will make these again next week and make sure to leave a little pink of each piece. They look best that way! :)

A blogger I follow, Cupcake Project, just posted about watermelon today! Her post was how to make Watermelon Syrup from the juice and using the pulp of the watermelon to make Watermelon Butter (like a summer apple butter). So, there is like NO garbage! Use the pulp for butter, the juice for syrup and the rind for pickles! Talk about economical! Add on that fact that one of my favorite foods/flavors/smells is Watermelon, I am in heaven!!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Seriously, Fisher-Price? That's it?

Fisher-Price had a nice Rain forest Pack N Play.

We bought it for when O was born (since we sold our other one presuming we were done having kids). I had his room in the FP Rain forest theme and I had to have the matching pack n play for downstairs. We had the bouncy chair and the jumperoo and as I said, his bedroom was done to match as well as diaper caddies and anything I could find!

In July of 2008, i went to lean over to get my son out (he was 5 months old) and th side gave way! Yes the 170 pound me collapsed on top of the bent metal side which was on top of my 5-month old! I was fine but he was screaming for a long time after that. He was ultimately fine (no major injuries) but a little cut and some bruising.

I sent FP an e-mail to let them know. I didnt hear back. I kept the crib hoping one day I would be able to fix it. It went into the crawl space in the garage and it sat there - forgotten.

Then they recalled them! Apparently, I should have complained more to Fisher-Price about this issue because it was recalled because of the same thing that happened to us! This is December 2008/January 2009.
I immediately went to try and contact them. I explained how mine had collapsed and I still had it. I was advised to do the online refund form. Apparently, they didn't care that mine actually broke and my baby was crushed. He didn't die so why should they care? I could get a refund just like every other schmuck. Yay me.
So I fill it out and get the e-mail back saying to cute the side panels out and mail back with a prepaid label. I e-mailed back and asked if they wanted the whole thing (in box) since mine was one of the reasons they were recalled. They said to further assist I could call. Calling Fisher-Price during and right after Christmastime is insane. I tried a bunch of time but I cant be hold for HOURS when i have 3 small kids. Sorry. I tried and I tried to e-mail again where I was told to mail the 4 panels.

I kept meaning to contact them again and see if they cared my baby was hurt. I e-mailed them around June of 2009 and they said same thing, side panels. I got sucked up into my life again. It happens. I am a mom of 3 hyper boys who runs a business form her home and, to be honest, gets a bit scatter-brained quite often (thanks to my severe PMDD). Anyway...

Fine! All  4 panels were mailed back. I made sure that was all they needed and then discarded the broken POS  (I did keep it for a year and a half - broken just waiting). That was February 13th. It arrived at FP on February 16th. Apparently, March 23rd they called here (they did? they didnt speak to anyone in this house!) saying they were missing a panel piece. I had no clue.

Then fast forward to June 2010. I e-mail them and ask what was up with our refund. They called me back (yay, I speak with a human!) the next day. The lady was nice/ But said I can only get $75.00 back since I am missing a side panel. Excuse me? I KNOW for a FACT I had all 4 panels in a ziplock bag that was mailed back. I KNOW they were all there! She asked if I had the other panel. UHm.... NO! I told her I discarded the crib in March and just threw out the box 2 weeks ago! She told me I should have never thrown it out until I got the refund... Hello?! McFly?! I mailed the pieces 5 months ago! How long do you want me to keep a broken, useless crib? I me mentioned how mine was one of the ones that collapsed and how I held onto it and stuff. She didnt care and proceeded to tell me I can look for the other panel and mail it back. Again, explaining it was all mailed and the rest is long gone, I had to accept $75.00instead of the full $100.00 which in my opinion is ridiculous since my son was hurt and they were notified of this.

So here I am. Granted my son is fine. Granted I am fine. That's all that matters. But I can't help but be angry that they didnt care about what happened. They gave more money to people who had no problems them to me who had a problem. Makes me glad O is our last... we dont have to purchase anymore Fisher-Price Baby Gear products because if I had the choice, I'd avoid them for another child (and will recommend against an expectant mother on getting FP Gear).

there.. said my piece... I feel slightly better now.

This was a week and a half later.... You can see the darken-ness on the right side of his belly.
It was just about unbruised.