July 1st: Happiness Is…

Hey everyone!

This month I want to get your input about what makes YOU happy! It’s easy, send me an email with what happiness is to you! 

For instance:

Happiness is…


…snuggling with my boy while watching a movie he has picked out. It’s not often that we get to do this anymore now that he is officially a teenager, so when he makes a suggestion you betcha I make a big deal about it(in a cool way of course). I grab some yummy snacks for us, a cozy blanket, and enjoy the time we have together. It brings back memories of when he was a little guy and would curl up on my lap to watch his favorite shows. Oh how I miss those days and cherish the ones like in the picture. ❤️

-Amanda Gayle(Alabama, USA)

Simple! Now, of course you can write as little or as much as I did. The point is, with all the ugly and bad things going on in this world it would do us some good to see some happy things for a change. Send me an email at nightowlkitchen@yahoo.com with the following: 

*Please include your name, State/Provence and country. 

*Include the heading: “Happiness Is…” in your email, along with a short blurb about why it makes you happy.

*You may include one photo. 

*Any recipes need to include a link back to the original site, if possible(unless the recipe has been passed down through your family, which is adored here at Night Owl Kitchen!) Kids are welcomed to get in on this, I know several like to get in the kitchen these days, don’t be shy. Share with us your favorite summer treats! 

*You can share anything that has inspired you: a quote, a song, a book, a movie…keeping it family friendly of course! 😉

Each week I will choose a selection to share. Let’s spread some happiness this month! 

Have a blessed 4th of July weekend!!!

Long Abscence From Blogging…

Hello to all my readers(to those who still follow)! I’m not quite sure where to begin, guess I’ll be honest and tell you all that the desire to write hasn’t been there. Since my last post back in April(I think), the year has been busy for the most part, sad, and depressing. I’ve put off sharing anything on here mostly because I don’t want to be a blogger who airs it all on the web, but neither did I ever imagine I’d become a blogger who would disappear for months on end without a word to my faithful readers. For that, I do apologize. 

The year started off well enough, so what have I been up to?  By the end of March I was asked to teach a 3&4 yr old VBS class at my church and from then on until June I was busy prepping and making decorations for my classroom and no joke that took A LOT out of me. Once VBS started we were swamped every day with fun activities, energetic kids, and I would come home to crash. It was a fun theme though, under the sea, so cute! Below are few pictures of the room my helpers and I decorated(mind you we kept it simple so as not to give little hands too much to mess with).

My son, G, decided to come hang out in my room one morning before VBS started. He played with the play-doh and made a gruesome zombie head. What can I say, that’s G for ya! 😉

This was a fun labor of love project that unfortunately I didn’t get to use. I made a puppet stage out of carboars, expanding spray foam, pain, and hot glue. The sea urchins were my favorite and one of the first things I made. A half ball of styrofoam, qtips, craft glue, and paint. BOOM, sea urchin! Thankfully another church who was using a similar under the sea theme cam in on the last day and took all the decorations to use during their VBS week. Hopefully the puppet stage was put to good use! 

As for the wall decorations, all credit must be given to Party Cheap dot com. They made it possible for me decorate the walls to look we were under the sea. My helpers did an amazing job putting everything up and yes it wasn’t all perfect but the children loved it and that’s what mattered the most! 

The second thing I loved the most was the beach sign! Foam poster board, paint, and hot glue made that possible. And I’m not even an artist, never claimed to be either, but the rustic skills I do have worked well for that old weathered look! On the first day of VBS I had G help me get some sea kelp up that went behind that sign on the lower wall. Wish I had snapped a picture of it, was really cute and helped finish off the wall. 

The third decoration I LOVED making were the jellyfish! Crazy easy! Paper bowls, paint, tissue paper, and googly eyes is all it took. A person with long arms was kind enough to lend his height when it came time to hanging those precious jellyfish up. All the ideas were found through Pinterest and made possible through friends who donated items to me. It was fun but very tiring, not for the faint of heart. It’s the VBS I remember from the 90’s, that’s for sure! 

After VBS was said and done, I went back to sort of helping a friend with her summer class. Fine tuning her weekly lessons, and making sure everything was ready. I admit my mental capability was tapped out for a bit, felt like a vegetable most days. Thankfully I was able to get her summer class announcement finished in time so it could be advertised. She had a Lego theme and all her lessons were centered around Building Godly Character.

 I had saved up 13 boxes(mostly amazon shipping boxes) and wrapped them in tissue paper to make them look like Lego building blocks. Each week she could add the next block to the the previous one and use it as a visual aid for her class. The kids loved it! Of course I don’t know too many kids who DON’T love Legos! And what’s in store for next year?! An Indian Jones theme!!! Queue the theme song…😜

After the summer class ended I had the utmost pleasure in helping my sister from another mister plan for her first overseas mission trip. Spent one weekend helping her organize and price things for her yardsale, which turned out to be amazing! Being able to help her with that was a huge blessing to me, I was able to witness God work lots of miracles! I never tout that I have a lot of faith, I struggle just like everyone else and yet I was constantly being reminded of “faith as small as a mustard seed.” Truly, every single prayer was answered, lots of tears were shed as we both witnessed God working in our lives and seeing people coming together to make this trip possible for her and the group she was going with! Below is a picture of the sign I made for her after we learned someone had annonymously purchased her plane ticket.

I wish I could say the summer ended on high fun note, but sadly it didn’t. The last few months since August 17th have been the pits. I’m not even sure I can share this without crying, so for now I think I’ll stop here and hope this little update finds you all in joyous spirit! Christmas is around the corner and the new year is upon us, 😱☺️<—I am shocked and excited! 

Will write more later, may the rest of your week be blessed! Amanda Gayle❤️🎄❤️

Friday Favorite!

I haven’t done one these in quite a while, and today’s favorite(yes, only one) is a site that I signed up on just this morning! I am no way being paid to write about the following, just a teensy bit excited about today’s favorite! Hope you enjoy!!

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The site is called House Party, and the way it works is simple: you sign up(it’s free,btw!), apply to “parties” you would like to be chosen for, answer a simple questionnaire and agreeing to their terms of service. Once you’ve done that you can then share everything on your favorite social media sites and complete some easy activities to better your chances of being chosen to host! AND PRESTO!

I guess I’m the addicting type, I have already signed up for 5 parties.

  • Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell House Party
  • Women’s Rogaine House Party(need all the help I can possibly get!)
  • HelloFresh House Party
  • Lumination Glow Stick Markers House Party (thinking the kiddos from my Wednesday night church class are going to REALLY love these!)
  • Team Roomba for iRobot Roomba 980 House Party

Which may not look like a lot, after all I will probably not be chosen for any of them. Perchance I am picked to host one of those parties, I am going to have so much fun sharing my findings with everyone here on my blog! Pictures, testimonies, and possibly some videos(yikes,  lol)! I’ve always wanted to do product testing and hopefully NOW I’ll get the opportunity 🙂

 Go check it out, sign up, and apply for some fabulous parties! If you are chosen please ping back to this post so I can see your review, photos, testimonies and ooo and awe over your party!! 🙂 

Have a blessed day!!

If Minecraft were made of cheese…

It would look something like this…

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Cubed cheese is apparently fun to play with 😉 Who knew you could build a little house and pathway?! G–Man was having some issues with the walls not sticking and standing up, so Mom–Mom to the rescue!!

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There’s even a little version of Steve!

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A cute little walkway and an inside view of Steve’s pad.

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But when Steve’s away, the Creepers come out to “play”. Goodbye little cheese house.

And something noteworthy:

G–Man, who is not a cheese fan and has refused all attempts to try cheese by itself, finally ate these cheddar cheese cubes last Friday. He tried a little piece and suddenly he was in love! My picky eater is finally growing up!! I’m even more proud of him when on Saturday he went with my Dad to a Men’s prayer breakfast and actually ate, for the first time, an egg casserole. I had a hard time picking my jaw up off the floor when he told me this.
It doesn’t stop there…on Sunday, he over to a friend’s house after church, I told him to eat whatever is offered to him that he was not allowed to be picky. He did me proud 🙂 He ate a cheesy quiche and fish, saying both were delicious!!! There is hope yet for this child, hehe!

All I can say, is if you have a picky eater in your family please do not give up on them. Keep offering them new things to try, continue to expose them to new foods and eventually they will come around. Hope you all have a blessed Monday!!

Boldly Going…

Today I launched my new Jamberry blog (Jonesin’ For Wraps). Basically I wanted to separate my work fun from my food fun 🙂 I already have a brand new post up, if you get a chance I hope you check it out!

To visit—>Jonesin’ For Wraps

Hope you all are having a blessed Thursday!!

Winter Apocalypse Breakfast

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It was a frigid morning, not a foot print to be seen. People held up in their homes, chimneys billowing smoke reminding everyone it was a blistering cold day. One woman who braved this wintery apocalypse set out on a journey to make her family a simple breakfast with eggs, bread, and milk. Unlike others before her, this woman was a visionary, she would transform those ingredients into a delicious meal with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon! Here, her tale begins…

Just a bit overly dramatic, but I caved today. That’s right, for the first time in about five years I made French toast. Since my Dad is home today with workplaces shut down due to this weather, he put in a request for breakfast and I had to indulged him!  I love French toast, it’s one of those things I give into maybe once a year. Though it has been several years since I’ve made it here at home! I think the last time I made it G–Man was about four or five years old. Yeah, it’s been a while. There are oodles of recipes out there for the perfect French toast…you can bake it, fry it, make it into a casserole, slow cook it in your crock pot(for real), and the possibilities are endless!
There’s quite a controversy about the type of bread to use, and hardcore French toast fans will hold the fort on day old, stale bread. Nothing wrong with that, but in a pinch before the wintery apocalypse hits most folks are going to grab loaves of sliced sandwich bread. Which is what I used today! I don’t have a special recipe for French toast, Alton Brown has a delicious recipe you can check out here. But to keep is simple here’s what I did…

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Winter Apocalypse Breakfast (aka French Toast)

14 slices of loaf bread

4 eggs, whisked

1 cup milk

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4–1/2 tsp cinnamon

Maple Syrup

Over a medium high heat, heat up your griddle.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, add in the milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
Once griddle is hot dip one slice of bread into the egg mixture and place it on the hot griddle. If it cooks up too quickly, reduce the temp to medium or low. You want golden brown results, not blackened. Serve with your favorite syrup, fruit or a light dusting of powdered sugar. 

These were simple, tasty and not overly heavy with cinnamon or vanilla. It wasn’t soggy either, it was cooked all the way through and nicely crisp on the outside. I didn’t use any butter on the griddle which I think helped. But you can use butter if you must.
G–Man could have easily eaten all of them but thankfully he didn’t and Dad enjoyed his with fried eggs. However you choose to eat these you are sure to enjoy the simple pleasure of this wintery storm delicacy! Any leftovers can be frozen for another quick breakfast. Just place a couple of slices in the toaster long enough to thaw and slightly crisp up and enjoyed with a drizzle of syrup or turn it into a French toast breakfast sandwich with a slice of ham and a cooked egg with cheese! 

Stay warm and have a blessed Thursday!!

Off to a Great Start!

So far February has been a great month! My parents celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary on the 3rd…

   and my birthday was on the 7th. I was treated the weekend before my birthday to my favorite Chinese restaurant and my fortune cookie was so promising!

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To take a chance…will see about that 😉

And the next day I received a sweet gift from a friend in the mail!

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The Wednesday before my b–day I wasn’t able to go to church since G–Man was sick again(thankfully he’s better now) and yet another friend, who shares a love for reading and is a kindred spirit when it comes to the types of books we love, was so kind to remember me before my birthday!

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I am just loving that little owl and the bookmark is perfect!!!

The morning of my birthday G–Man surprised me with a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY as I came down the stairs 🙂 And allowed me to catch up on my favorite dvr’d tv shows hehe 😀 And an unexpected gift from a friend is on it’s way here(will share that once it arrives), dare I reveal the geeky side of myself?! Ok, don’t judge, but I do enjoy comic hero movies. I grew up liking the original 1960’s Batman(lol yes with Adam West) and eventually Michael Keaton who reprise the role in the 1989 Batman movie! I have always enjoyed the X–Men, Fantastic 4, Silver Surfer, Thor, Incredible Hulk, and recently Deadpool has made a massive blip on my comic radar.  I personally cannot wait to see the movie next year! Ryan Reynolds who will be playing Wade Wilson/Deadpool is just perfect! He was ok as the Green Lantern, but I’m holding out the highest hope for him as Deadpool. Ok, enough geeking out…the character Deadpool was the inspiration for my birthday dinner. Well, his love for tacos was 😀 So my nephew and I made Mexican beef and chicken tacos for the family. They were such a hit.

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I know how he feels…I will spare you all the number of tacos that were consumed that night but trust me if was worth it. So good!! And then there was cake…oh not just any cake. The Country Cook shared a recipe for a Coconut Cream Poke Cake! Now I had every intention on take pictures but I not only forgot to take pictures but it never occurred to me to take any lol I was enjoying it too much to stop for pictures. But thankfully the Country Cook has scrumptious pictures for you all to feast your eyes on and let me just say this cake is out of this world amazing!! This is one of those cakes that you will not regret making and will actually want to make oh I don’t know, two or three…yeah I just typed that…don’t judge lol!!!

(Yeah, it’s even better than it looks!!)

And I did promise I would share the pictures of the Valentines cookies I made for the 3&4 yr olds class I help teach on Wednesday nights.

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G–Man helped with decorating them and he did an excellent job!! I had no idea, but there is actually a recipe for chocolate sugar cookies. I was shocked, over at Joy of Baking there is a tested recipe that turned out perfectly! To me, it tasted like a brownie. You can use their recipe for the frosting or you can whatever recipe you like. These cookies were a hit the kids loved them! I even found a recipe for strawberry sugar cookies. It uses freeze dried strawberries that have to be processed down into a powder, so someone could get really creative and do a Neapolitan sugar cookie platter! 

How has your February been so far?!

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~Homemade Tang~

Afternoon everyone, hope you’re all doing well. My thoughts and prayers go out to those up in the New England area. Praying you all have enough supplies and stay warm.

Here in my neck of the woods we’ve been inundated with illness. A lot of my friends and their families have been sick with stomach bugs, the flu and the cold. We, ourselves, have the cold going around in our house at this time. Dad purchased a bag of clementines(Halos) and instead of letting them go to waste, I decided to make a vitamin C boost drink to help our immune systems.

With homemade tang? What??!!

Yes, it may sound strange but Clementines(aka Halos, Cuties, pick a name) are 60% Vitamin C. That’s pretty good for a little fruit, and coupled with lemons which are 51% Vitamin C you have a super boosting mix that is sure to shock what remaining cold virus is left in your system! I have run into some conflicting information concerning concentrated lemon juice. While fresh lemons contain 51% Vitamin C, it is said that ReaLemon Juice from Concentrate(which is a brand we prefer) contains 60.5% Vitamin C. I’m not going to get into a debate about fresh or concentrated juices, but I found it odd that one would have more than the other. Could be that ReaLemon Juice is more concentrated than fresh and therefore would contain more Vitamin C. Purists however may opt for freshly squeezed lemons in the end. Whichever you prefer to use  I leave that up to you, I won’t judge you one way other another.

JJ was leery at first of my concoction, I’m not a beverage making gal. He was raised on the powdered tang, powdered gatorade, and powdered lemonade. We’ve gotten away from all those chemical laden powdered drinks since G–Man came along, but on occasion I get to hear how much so and so misses tang and various other flavored drinks. I braced myself for some harsh criticism…

 

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(It’s so pretty! just love the color of it!!)

Homemade Tang

1 cup ReaLemon Juice from Concentrate(or 5–6 freshly squeezed lemons)

7 clementines, squeezed

1 1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw(less if you want it more tart)**

6 cups water

In a 2 quart pitcher, add lemon juice, clementine juice, and Stevia. Whisk to combine and add water. Continue whisking until all the Stevia is completely mixed in and enjoy over ice.

NOK Tips

**Stevia in the Raw– Why not sugar or some other sweetener? It’s a personal preference in my book, feel free to use sugar or other sweeteners that you may prefer. I’ve read the pros and cons about Stevia in the Raw, I’ve also used Pure Stevia powder in the past. To me, the powder was more bitter and difficult to use. However, using Stevia in the Raw takes all the guess work out of how much to use since it measures cup for cup like sugar. Stevia in and of itself is a very alkaline all natural sweetener that is actually good for our bodies. Unlike aspartame, which is synthetic and causes many health issues, Stevia comes from a plant. 
Again, I leave the sweetener up to you. I just find that using alkaline foods when sick actually help to knock out the virus or bacteria more quickly. Viruses and bacteria need an acidic environment to thrive in, neutralizing the body will make it less habitable for the cold and flu survive.

JJ was in love with this homemade tang and is wanting me to make it again!! He said it tastes better than the powdered stuff. That is high praise coming from the powdered drink king 😉
This recipe can be altered to make a Lemon–Limeade. Instead of Clementines, squeeze 5–7 limes and add the remaining ingredients as listed.
For an all out citrus blast, squeeze fresh lemons, fresh limes, and clementines for a NOK Citrus Beverage. Freeze concentrated lemon, lime, and orange juices into ice cubes(adding a little water or another fruit juice to aid in freezing), add fresh slices of each fruit into the pitcher, and serve over ice. Pomegranate ice cubes would look amazing in this drink, just add the juice to an ice tray and freeze. It’s a yummy treat on a hot summer day!

Have a blessed day!!

Frosted Chewy Sugar Cookies

Afternoon all,

Hope everyone is staying warm! Woke up today to sleet, a nice sight considering we haven’t had much of anything this winter other than rain. I would have preferred actual sticking snow, but sleet was just as nice to see 🙂 It’s on days like this I just want to hunker down under a warm blanket, cup of coffee nearby, a little heater aimed at my feet, and get lost in a book. It’s a day to not do anything! However, it’s also a day fire up the oven and warm up the house with some baked goodies! 

Each year G–Man and I set out to decorate holiday cookies and last month I think we REALLY discovered something yummy! I didn’t grow up decorating holiday cookies, Mom and I did that once and never again because of how messy it was. True, it can be very messy and now you all know where I get it 😉 It’s hard for me let my son in the kitchen to help with cooking and baking because the mess seems to grow. But determined to create our own holiday memories, I put aside my angst against messes and let G–Man have at it. Rolling out the dough, cutting out the shapes, sprinkling on the colored sugar. My hand in it is the making of said dough, putting in and pulling out the pans from the oven, and applying the frosting. We always have a lot of fun and actually enjoy ourselves! There is hope for me yet!

Last year I discovered a very tasty cut out sugar recipe. I wanted something that was going to soft, chewy, and yet sturdy enough to hold up to the frosting. And then I wanted a frosting that wasn’t overly sweet, that would have a delicious vanilla flavor and set up in no time. Boy did I get lucky with the recipes and I am so happy to be able to share them with you today! The recipe for the cut out cookies is over at Sally’s Baking Addiction. The only thing I didn’t have for the recipe was almond extract, no bigs I just replaced it with more of our homemade vanilla extract which was a great idea!

Frosted Chewy Sugar Cookies

We decided to keep them simple this year, stars, gingerbread men, and Christmas trees. The year before last we used a store bought icing tubes(red, white, green) and while that did make our first time decorating cookies I wasn’t too impressed with the outcome. So this year I made the commitment to making the frosting from scratch. But first let me brag about Sally’s cookie recipe. Chewy. Soft. Flavorful. Not too sweet. Everything I ever want in a cookie and more! It was an easy enough recipe to make and here’s a trick when cutting them out. Instead of rolling out on a surface and then transferring them to a cookie sheet, I turned a baking sheet pan upside down, applied a scant amount of Crisco to the pan and laid a piece of parchment paper to it. The Crisco helps to keep the parchment paper in place when rolling out the dough. I only rolled out the dough twice before discarding.
reposition the cut out pieces on the pan and bake according to directions. They came out perfect! Once cooled G–Man would move them from the pan to a cooling wrack and we would continue on to the next batch. So fun!

And now for the frosting, I based mine off of the one I found over at allrecipes. But like always, I chose to change it up slightly. See, I don’t like adding milk and vanilla extract to my frosting recipes. It’s too much liquid and the vanilla flavor is never right. I know I’ve shared this many times before, but I like to use flavored coffee creamer in lieu of milk and vanilla extract. That shouldn’t shock anyone but I’m sorry if it does. I am especially fond of the French Vanilla coffee creamer(yes, the liquid stuff). So, here’s the link to the original recipe, but below is how I changed it. Try both and decide which one you like best!

4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 TBLSP + 1 tsp French Vanilla Coffee Creamer
food coloring, optional

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners’ sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the coffee creamer with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.

And that’s it! My youngest nephew was impressed and because he liked them so much I sent the rest home with him 🙂 Of course you don’t have to use French Vanilla coffee creamer, you can use Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Amaretto, Caramel…really the possibilities are endless! Especially around the holidays when there’s white chocolate, peppermint, and eggnog.

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And that’s how this Night Owl does Frosted Chewy Sugar Cookies. I had G–Man keep the decoration simple, just red and green colored sugar. Explaining to him that I wanted the flavor and texture to be “center stage” rather than piling on numerous candies, sprinkles, and layers of frosting.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this cookie and frosting recipe is perfect! Now all I need to get are some heart shaped cutters and red frosting gel to make Valentine cookies for G–Man to give at his Patch Club Valentine’s Day party.

I hope you all have enjoyed this little post and try out these recipes. Hopefully they will become your go–to recipes as they have become ours! Have a blessed day!!!