So, You Caught a Fish...

Now what???

Rinse it well and pat dry...

Fill the cavity with butter, salt and pepper,  and lemon slices, then arrange lemon slices on top...

Wrap in foil and grill over medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side...

Eat up!  Easy peasy, right?

I didn't think to show The Big Guy explaining how to remove the bones from our trout, but this guy on YouTube filmed the process!  Check it out!


Tutorial Tuesday!

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Hope Studios

Patio Table Decor

A thrifted Jell-o mold, some soil, and a variety of hens and chicks and a patio table...

Put them all together for a lovely patio table decor!  You can slip the umbrella through the hole in the mold and voila!

They do best in sunlight so they are perfect for my back patio.  This amazing idea was thanks to my friend Joy who gave me this as a birthday present!  One look and I knew exactly where I would display it!


Strawberry Shortcake Cake

I had the perfect Mother's Day dessert in mind this year and couldn't find a recipe with everything I wanted in a cake.  I envisioned a moist vanilla layer cake filled with pastry cream and strawberry sauce, topped with clouds of whipped cream icing.  I wanted it to be called "Strawberry Shortcake Cake", yeah...  Nope, no such recipe that I could find.

I set out to gather recipes for all the imagined components to layer myself.  Here is what I collected:

Vanilla Bean Cake

-Sky High Cakes

3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 whole vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 sticks, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/3 cups milk
5 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350. Butter the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line each with a round of parchment paper, and butter the paper.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend well.

With the tip of a small knife, scrape the tiny seeds from inside the vanilla bean into the bowl. Discard the outer pod or reserve for another use.

Add the butter and 1 cup of the milk. Mix to blend. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until the better is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

In a mixing bowl whisk the egg white with the vanilla extract and the remaining 1/3 cup milk. Add this to the batter in 2 to 3 additions, scraping down the bowl well and mixing just enough to incorporate the ingredients. Divide between the 3 pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cook in the pans for 10 minutes. Then invert onto wire racks, remove the paper and cook completely.

Pastry Cream

2 1/4 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

In medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch.

Transfer remaining 1 3/4 cups milk to heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add pod. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup sugar over, letting sugar sink undisturbed to bottom.

Set pan over moderate heat and bring to simmer without stirring.

Whisk hot milk mixture, then gradually whisk into egg yolk mixture. Return to saucepan over moderate heat and cook, whisking constantly, until pastry cream simmers and thickens, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod, and whisk cream until smooth. Transfer to bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold, about 4 hours.

Strawberry Coulis

adapted from -Sky High Cakes

1 1/2 pounds individually quick frozen strawberries, thawed, with their juices
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 star anise pod  (I omitted this ingredient)
1 inch piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Puree strawberries and juice in food processor until smooth.

Add strawberries and remaining ingredients to saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir to dissolve sugar.

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until visibly thickened and reduced by half.

To check for thickness, place a teaspoonful onto a chilled plate.  Set in freezer for a minute then run your fingertip through the coulis - the track should remain.

Remove vanilla bean and anise pod and cool.

Whipped Cream Frosting

(adapted from)-Food.com
  • 2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 8 teaspoons cold water
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar

  1. In a small pan, combine gelatin and cold water; let stand until thick.
  2. Place over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the gelatin dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat; cool (do not allow it to set).
  4. Whip the cream with the icing sugar, until slightly thick.
  5. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream.
  6. Whip at high speed until stiff.

I made and cooled all of the components then simply layered - cake, strawberry sauce, pastry cream and repeat! After the final layer of cake I coated the entire cake in the strawberry sauce then covered and refrigerated overnight to let all the ingredients set up. The next morning I spread a thick layer of whipped cream icing on top and piped a border around the top. I filled the entire top with sliced berries that macerated in sugar for about an hour.


Tutorial Tuesday!

 Teacher's Gift:

Cereal Saver:

Dip Dyed (Ombre) Skirt:

CLICK PICKS (last week's most clicked links):

#1   DIY Maxi Dress

#2   Vintage Picnic Basket

#3   Lace Pillowcase Dress

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

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Hope Studios


Quick and Easy Baby Shower for Teacher

My son's 5th grade teacher is expecting a baby very soon and the class opted to throw her a baby shower / end of the year combo. party.  The kids were thrilled to surprise her and I think she was touched by how the kids kept the secret.

We had only 1/2 hour in the school day to throw the shower, and no food was allowed, so things needed to be planned carefully to allow the kids to give gifts and have some fun in a short amount of time.

Since the party was a surprise, the parents simply walked in holding balloons and banners.  We set them around the room to serve as last minute decorations.

The students kicked off the party by presenting their teacher with gifts.  She opened them while we got the kids started with some activities.  Many parents contributed money so we purchased gift cards and arranged them on a "Gift Card Tree" (a re-purposed jewelry holder she can reuse).

Next, decorative index cards were distributed and the students were asked to write their Best Baby Advice on one side and an guess as to delivery date and weight on the back.

The cards were tucked into a decorative box and presented to their teacher.  She can re-use the box to hold recipes or keep the cards as a keepsake.

The students then participated in a Baby Diapering Relay Race!

The kids were divided in half and desks were lined up facing each other on opposite sides of the room.  The teams were given a doll and a diaper.  At the whistle, the first student diapered the doll and passed it to their team mate who removed the diaper and passed it to the next and so on...

The winning team!

Next, the students Challenged Their Teacher to a Diapering Duel!  Names were drawn randomly and the diaper race began!  They loved trying to beat a seasoned parent at the diapering game.  The spirit of competition even won over the boys - in fact, a boy was the overall winner!

Last, the kids were given a ball of yarn and had to guess their Teacher's Belly Circumference.  After everyone was ready, the teacher measured her belly with her own yarn then taped it to the board (because no one wants a bunch of 5th grade hands mauling them).

The students lined up to hold their yarn up to the teacher's yarn to determine a winner.

Finally, every student who hadn't won a prize was given a chance to choose something from the prize bag so everyone went home happy.  I found boy and girl baby erasers in the dollar bin at Joann Fabrics that went over great, as well as some yo-yo's, beach balls, Frisbees, and various dollar store junky junk.

And THAT is how we threw a shower for our teacher in under 30 minutes!


Dress Code - Feedback Friday

My local news covered a story this week about a nearby public school district attempting to implement some changes to their school dress code.

The school proposes a revised dress code policy that would make jeans, cargo pants, and sweatpants off limits.  Additionally,  athletic shorts would be restricted to physical education classes only and no sleeveless shirts would be permitted.

The proposed dress code would mandate collared shirts or sweaters, and skirts and shorts no more than 3 inches above the knee. Only tucked in shirts with solid colors (red, black, brown, blue, or gray)  would be allowed. (wtae)

In a statement on the school website: "The purpose of adopting this dress code policy is to enhance school safety, improve the learning environment, promote good behavior, reduce discipline problems, improve test scores, improve children’s self-respect and self-esteem, bridge socioeconomic differences between families, help eliminate stereotypes and produce a cost savings for families,"

The policy can be read in full on the district website.

It's Feedback Friday...

Would you support such a dress code revision in your school?

Is a private school type dress code appropriate in a public school setting?

Will clothing changes create a better learning environment for students?


Entertaining Check List

Last minute entertaining stress can be reduced by having a clear goal - no more forgetting last minute details if you have a clear checklist to work through on your way to preparing.

Check out my own checklist I reference when company is coming. You can print out mine or make a similar one for yourself.

 Laminate it or slide it into a protective sleeve and stash it in a drawer for quick reference next time you need to get ready for company!

Whip up some quick appetizers from yesterday's Easy Appetizer List  and you will be good to go!  What time should I plan to come by?  :)


Easy Appetizers for Last Minute Entertaining

Around my neighborhood, once the weather breaks I get a lot more "pop in's", company that stops by at the last minute.  I like to keep some staples on hand so I can whip up a quick and easy snack to pull out quickly.

Here is my list of ingredients I like to always have around.  I keep the non-perishable stuff in a bin in my Pantry labeled "Entertaining":

Cream cheese
Kirkland's Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (from Costco)
Little crispy breads
Canned chicken
Shredded cheddar
Canned artichokes
Frozen spinach
Block cheeses
Wasabi peas
Mixed nuts
Black beans
Soft drinks

With these basics added to some fresh fruits and veggies, you can pull together a quick spread that is a step above ordinary chips and pretzels.

Cream cheese is most versatile,  you can whip up some things like...

Raspberry Chipotle Cheese Spread:  Place a block of cream cheese on a plate and pour Raspberry Chipotle Sauce over.  (The cream cheese will have a creamy, smoky brie taste.) Surround with crackers.

You can also make a similar spread using cocktail sauce and tiny frozen (thawed) shrimp.

 Easy Fruit Dip:  mix equal parts softened cream cheese and marshmallow fluff + a bit of almond extract.

Stuffed Strawberries:  Fill cored strawberries with fruit dip and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs

Pistachio'd Grapes:

Buffalo Chicken Dip:  I got this recipe from a friend and I swear it shows up at nearly every party.

1 8oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 large can chicken
6-8 oz Frank's Red Hot sauce (depending on how much heat you want)
6-8 oz ranch dressing

Combine ingredients and bake 350 degrees 25 - minutes, until bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips and celery sticks.

Artichoke Dip:  I got this recipe from my sister in law about 10 years ago and still make it several times a year!

1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayo
1 can chopped artichoke hearts
1 med sweet onion, diced
1 clove diced garlic
Bread crumbs

Saute the onions until golden, add the garlic during the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Meanwhile, combine cheese, mayo, and artichokes.

Add the onions and garlic and stir to combine.  Pour into baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Bake 350 degrees 30-40 minutes.

You can alter this recipe to make it a crab dip or spinach dip by substituting 1 cup of either for the artichokes or adding chopped crab or spinach in addition to the artichokes.

Black Bean Dip:  In 5 minutes you can whip up my favorite black bean dip from the Food Network.

1 plum tomato, diced
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot sauce

Place the tomato, onion and cilantro into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the black beans, cumin, hot sauce and salt, to taste, and pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth. Scrape into a decorative bowl and garnish with cilantro sprigs. 

Serve with tortilla chips and carrot sticks.

So, now you are ready for last minute company.  Come back tomorrow for my Entertaining Check List to help you be party ready in minutes!

What last minute snacks do you like to whip up for company?


Tutorial Tuesday!



CLICK PICKS (last week's most clicked links):

#1     How to Sew a Housedress

#2     Retro-Fitted Suitcase

#3     Easy Handmade Mother's Day Gifts

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

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Hope Studios

Team Snack Day

Outline-Flood-Spread-Add Details


I'm Sexy and I Know It

A first grader in Colorado was recently suspended for 3 days after singing the song "I'm Sexy and I Know It" to another female student in the cafeteria line last week.  He was "shaking his booty" near her while singing it.

The boy had been disciplined for singing this song previously, and the school labeled the incident "sexual harassment" under the following school handbook definition:  Sexual harassment “must have negative effects on the learning or work of others.” (abc news)

The child's mother feels that the label of sexual harassment is inaccurate and unfair and his actions did not justify suspension.

It's Feedback Friday...

Do you believe that this incident was an example of Sexual Harassment?

Do you think school suspension was a fair punishment?


The Big Four-Oh!

I turned 40 years old today!  Yikes!

If I closed my eyes and thought about it, I'd say I feel about 25.

Is it just me?  How old do you feel?  How old are you?


Quick Roast Chicken + Pinterest Pass or Fail

It's a rushed Tuesday night. You have baseball practice, guitar lessons, and a baby shower to plan...do you have time for a Roasted Chicken Dinner? Yes!

 I discovered the beauty of butterflying the bird last week and I roasted a 5 lb. chicken in 40 minutes!

The key is flattening out the chicken so it cooks more quickly and evenly, and you do this by removing the backbone.

Get your sharpest pair of kitchen shears and turn the chicken breast side down, girl! Now, beginning at the neck hole, cut along either side of the backbone.  Come on, put some elbow grease into it!

You will end up with a bony strip of chicken you can use later for broth. Why don't you just roast it alongside your chicken, then pop it in some water with veggies for soup tomorrow?

Open up the chicken with the inside facing down and press down firmly to crack the breast bone and it will lay flat on the baking sheet.

Rub with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop it into a preheated 450 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until the breast reads 160 degrees and the thigh reads 180 degrees.

Throw in some Swedish Baked Potatoes from my Cookin' Mama Pinterest board beside the chicken along with some baby carrots and you will have a meal lickety split!

These potatoes are my Pinterest Pass or Fail this week, the recipe originated at Sea Salt With Food blog and they passed with flying colors! They were simple to prepare, pretty on the plate, and delicious.  They had a nice crunch around the edges and were tender inside.

What Pins have YOU tried this week?  Drop me a link so I can check it out!


Tutorial Tuesday!

Eco Fireplace:

Fairy Gardens:
Watermelon Martini:
Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

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Hope Studios


From the Injury Files

Is it just me?

 I always record my boys' injuries with my camera...maybe it comes with the territory when you have 3 boys? Maybe I'm a sick-o? Maybe I want photo evidence of what they put me through someday?

Yes,that is a giant stick of pepperoni he is eating. After 3 hours in the E.R., he could have anything he wanted!

So here is the latest from my middle son's dirt bike crash this weekend.

 Wouldn't you know that the handlebar would find that one 3 inch space protected only by goggles???

Dang boys!


What to Wear - Feedback Friday

This week's question comes from a friend of mine who is shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding. 

It's Feedback Friday and she wants to know...

Is it appropriate to wear sequins to a beach wedding?


Shocking Key West and a Great Grouper Sandwich

Last week I shared some photos of good old fashioned fun on my birthday trip to Key West, fishing, pool jumping, dancing...

What makes Key West so fun is the eclectic mix of tourists and residents who are there to have fun. On a super rainy day of bar hopping from one pool table, dart board, and tv screen to another, we stumbled upon one of the highlights of our trip. The annual Key West Drag Races!

 Plopped in the middle of Duval Street was an obstacle course and many contestants ready to win it all.

Here is one of my favorite "queens" I named, TuTu Man. Here he is in all his blond wig, full beard, pink tutu, and Dorothy shoes glory:

Here are a few queens waiting to run:

A queen crossing the finish line:

Drowned rat Juniper chatting up this blue glory of a queen:

Aside from drag queens, we also found this little treasure just down the street from our hotel, Bo's Fish Wagon:

Looking like a giant pile of rubbish from the outside, inside is an amazing little spot for the best grouper sandwich in Key West!  Bo sold fish sandwiches on Duval street from  this old truck you see rusting into the decor.  25 years later, he has a thriving business!  Worth a visit for lunch or dinner, and don't miss Friday Night Jams for music and dancing.  This was a great find this trip.

So, that's my Key West wrap up!

Your Skin Fix, December Edition