Duck, Duck, Baby Shower

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I am helping my demonic offspring plan Ms. K’s first birthday party.  Wow it’s been almost a year since we were graced with a granddaughter.  I have been trying to teach her the important things in life, for example: when chewing on a severed hand it is not polite to use the hand to hit people.  She also likes to push the hand along the floor like it’s a toy car.

Helping to plan Ms Ks birthday party reminded me of the baby shower I threw for my daughter. She choose rubber ducks for the theme. I have this thing for rubber ducky’s. I love them. If you take a tour through my home, every room you enter is decorated in dark and evil things. But go into the bathroom and…bam. Bright yellow walls, rubber ducks lurking about everywhere and a rubber duck shower curtain. Surprising huh? So I was pretty darn excited about that shower.

Pinterest, Amazon, and the dangerous mind contained in my skull came up with the following.

SAMSUNG

Ducks ducks and more ducks

Ducks ducks and more ducks

ducky

Stuffed ducks came from Amazon, Wal-Mart and Dollar General. Now not all were ducks, some were little chicks. It was close to Easter so chicks were everywhere. We made them work.  Ducky gift box with bag, rubber ducks, blue rocks and glass bowls came from dollar store.

Ducky S’mores (take home treat for guest)

Yes I know the peeps are chicks but I had a stern talk with them. After our talk they were okay with being ducks for the day.

To make the Ducky S’mores you need:

Marshmallow Peeps

Graham crackers

Small Hershey bars

Small clear treat bags

Ribbon and printed cards for decoration.

Ducky (no longer chick) S'mores

Ducky (no longer chick) S’mores

I would tell you how they tasted but everyone snatched them up before I had a chance to get one.  Actually, half way through the baby shower I had to run to the kitchen and assemble more.

That day was a great day. The demon I birthed was soon to birth her own. Yes little Ms. K is a little demon, I have pictures to prove it. You can look at those eyes and see she is plotting evil things.

Little Ms. K plotting evil.

Little Ms. K plotting evil.

 

Toasting Your Nuts…How To Toast Coconut

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This will be short and sweet. Today I toasted coconut successfully for the first time. There was one attempt in the past that did not work out well. I blame Tim Burton and Jack Skellington for that disaster. I tried the oven method of toasting coconut. I put the coconut in the oven and from the living room I hear Jack singing while visiting Christmas Town. I had to go sing along with him. Who knew you had to stand watch over the coconut because it could burn quickly? I didn’t know. Billowing smoke from the kitchen alerted me to the disaster.

Five years later I’m ready to try my hand at toasting coconut again. This time with the stove top method with no television on. Saw this on Pinterest. It was so damn easy and was over in no time. I needed the coconut for a rum cake which I will share in the next few days.

Toasting Your Coconuts
In a dry pan on medium heat. Toss in your sweetened coconut flakes. It will take a few minutes before the toasting to begin. Once it does, keep stirring and don’t walk away because things happen pretty fast. Wham bam before you know it your coconuts are toasted. Now throw them tasty things on some wax or parchment paper to cool.

Here is the toasted coconut pin.

My toasted nuts:

Easy yummy toasted coconut

Easy yummy toasted coconut

Cooling down on wax paper

Cooling down on wax paper

Thanks for stopping by to join me here at The Pinteresting Life of Gotha Stewart.

I Give Good Bread

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First off, please forgive the title. It’s been a long day and lack of sleep is catching up with me.

Awhile back the hubby and I were out shopping. I decided to buy a wax burner for scented wax. Here is the conversation the hubby and I had in the store.

Me: “I’m going to buy this to melt scented wax since I know how to get the used wax out now.”

Hubby: “Oh is that something else you saw on Pinterest?” This was said dripping with sarcasm and ending with a dramatic rolling of the eyes.

Me: “No, it’s has instructions here on the box.” This was said in the tone of voice that clearly translated into, ‘you’re an asshole.’

Hubby: “humph.”

I stood there in the store thinking to myself, “Self do you think maybe you Pinterest too much?”

Self replied, “hell no.”

I then giggled out loud.  The hubby stared at me like I had just jumped on the crazy train.

Me: “Let’s hurry up and get home.”

Hubby: “What’s the hurry? I thought we were going to get coffee.”

Me: “Not now, you got me wanting to go home to get on Pinterest.”

Hubby: I can’t put down his reply. Just know it contained strong language.

He is not always anti-Pinterest. He is extremely pro-Pinterest when I’m trying out a recipe I discovered while at that much loved site. Like last night when I found a new banana bread recipe. (As you have read before, my dad is always bringing me bananas) Normally I use my go-to banana bread recipe that I got from my Aunt Betty…Crocker. But with the over abundance of bananas I had this week I had used up all of the box mixes.  So when I saw a Pin that said the bread was so good people drove for miles to eat a slice, how could I not try it?

I gathered everything I needed. I began to doubt this recipe when I realized it did not call for water or milk. Just oil and eggs. But life is not about playing it safe so I went with it. The only thing I added that was not in the recipe was pecans. How can you not have nuts in your banana bread? That is insane!

Here is the recipe. I do not give a measurement on the pecans because I don’t measure them myself. I just throw some in. Okay I throw a lot in.

This is the link that will take you to the Banana Bread pin.

Banana Bread

Dry ingredients:

1 ¾ all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp salt

1 ½ cup sugar

Wet:

3 lg. eggs

¾ cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)

2 mashed bananas

Pecans or walnuts. Hell both if you want. Remember the nuts are optional. Except at my house, here it is a must.

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Butter bottom of your bread pan.

Mix your dry items in a bowl. In another bowl mix your wet.  The recipe said to mix the bananas in with the oil and eggs until smooth.  In all the years I have made banana bread I have always added the bananas at the end after you mixed the batter. So I beat the eggs and oil together. Now you pour that in with your dry items. Mix. Add the bananas, mix some more. Now add your nuts. As much as you want, don’t be afraid to go nuts with them. Put in over bake 60 to 70 minutes.

Now let me tell you how this went down. Most breads I bake, I bake them between 375 to 400 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Never had an issue. But I followed the recipe. 50 minutes into my bake time I began to smell the bread burning. Hey must be done, I thought. Fork tested it. Nope not done. It took the whole 70 minutes. The top and edges were very darn close to burnt. My bread loving soul was not happy. Once it cooled I sliced us a piece to try. The hubby loved it. It was pretty good. Close to being just as good at Aunt Betty’s. This is a dense bread. If you want a lighter more fluffy bread, this is not for you.

The burning was totally my fault, I know my oven. I should have sided with my oven and not the recipe. I will make this again but will adjust my temperature and bake time.

Here is a photo. You can see that the bread is extremely well done. Don’t let my photo turn you off of this recipe. It is really good.

My pretty-damn-close-to-burnt bread

My pretty-damn-close-to-burnt bread

Banana Bread from Pinterest

Banana Bread from Pinterest

Thank you for joining me in my Pinteresting addiction.

Dark Days Ahead

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Words to live by: IT IS NEVER TOO EARLY TO PREP FOR HALLOWEEN

With that being said let me share a little photo from my garden this past Fall. This is one of my all time favorite photos. When I see it pop up as my computer background my normally non-beating heart gives a little jump. I love Halloween, every aspect of it from the whimsical to the horrifying. The hubby and I are renters so I am unable to go all out on my gardening or my Halloween decorations. My landlords are very religious so I must respect their beliefs while celebrating my favorite holiday. In a neighborhood of thirty plus homes my house is the ONLY one decorated for Halloween. Which has all the neighborhood kids coming to look at the yard all October long. Most are young kids so between my landlords and little children I tone down my scary outside decorations. I’m okay with that, the scary is inside my house year round. Just ask my cable guy. He says when he sees my address pop up on the days rotation he is so excited he tells everyone he is going to the “Zombie House”.  Sad that I have so much trouble with my cable that he has to visit regularly. Okay now that I’m done rambling here is the photo.

My Happy Place

My Happy Place

Oh Halloween, how I miss you so.

Back to what today’s blog is about: Halloween prepping. Even though it is only March I use this time to stalk Pinterest for Halloween pins. Costumes, decorating ideas, projects, food, etc. Today I searched Halloween treats. Bite size candy apples caught my attention. There were several pins, I looked at them all. One common theme: everyone was having trouble with the candy coating not sticking to the bites. Seems it would just slip off the apple bites. If I would have had all the ingredients handy I would have tried it anyway. I think maybe caramel would stick better, sadly the only caramel I had was caramel sauce for ice cream. Yes I could have broomed it down to the store to buy what I needed but that would require me to change out of my spooky cupcake pajamas. Wasn’t going to happen.

Now I did have chocolate candy coating items on hand. Apples and chocolate? I have never tried it but I like apples and I adore chocolate. Why not?

What you need:

Apples (I used Granny Smith)

Lollipop sticks

Chocolate for melting (I used Wilton light cocoa candy coating)

Melon ball scoop

Tiny cupcake/candy liners (optional)

Sprinkles (optional)

Wax paper

Here we go:

Wash and dry your apples

Lay out your wax paper on counter.

Use what ever chocolate melting method you prefer. I used the double boiler method. Pot of simmering water with a glass bowl sitting on it.

double boiler method

double boiler method

As the water is heating go ahead and scoop you out some apple balls. Put peel side down, stick in lollipop sticks.

Scoop those apples

Scoop those apples

Once chocolate is melted, get to dipping.

After dipping I put some of the apple bites into the cupcake liners. A few I just sat out on the wax paper and tossed on some sprinkles before the chocolate set.

I was also working on another pin project that required the caramel sauce (holy giant pumpkin that pin turned out awesome).
For the photos I took one of the apple bites in a liner and covered it with caramel sauce. Looked nice for the photos, trying to eat that one caused a major caramel sauce incident. Which resulted in me having to change out of my spooky pajamas and into something not covered in caramel sauce.

Yummy apple bites

Yummy apple bites

Gooey goodness

Gooey goodness

One of the original pins: Candy apple bites

I must say that now having tried apples and chocolate together, I am a fan. I will be adding this to my Halloween line up. I would tell you what the hubby thought of the apple bites but my dad came by and we ate them all before hubby came home from work.

Candy apple bites are not something you should make a day ahead. I would make them a couple hours before any haunted events.

I think I will make these for the family trip to the pumpkin patch this year. I’m sure my little devils would enjoy them as a snack.

So this Pinteresting project turned out very well, very well indeed. I do plan on trying the apple bites with candy apple coating and the caramel coating. I will share that Pinteresting adventure with you.

I will be doing more Halloween prepping pins throughout the next few months. I also have a Halloween pin project from last Halloween to share. See you soon, same Pin time, same Pin channel. (Sorry had a flashback to my young days of watching Batman after school).

A Zombie Apocalypse Easter Egg

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Not a big fan of Easter. To me there is something disturbing about a bunny hiding eggs to lure kids behind bushes with the promise of candy. But I have to put away my Easter Grinchness for the kiddos.

I saw a Pin about string Easter eggs. Some just for decoration and some with treats inside for children. One Pin used a fabric stiffener on the string another used a flour/water mixture. I happened to have flour and water so I went with that Pin.

Here’s the plan.
1: Gather the supplies: flour
water
Bowl
Balloon
String (I used embroidery floss/thread)
Wrapped candy
Canning jar lid (this was not in the original pin but you will want to use this)
what it takes egg
2: Mix flour and water.
3: Cram candy into deflated balloon.
4: Blow up balloon to desired size. Go small.
5: Soak a long piece of thread in mixture.

Okay let’s take a moment. The pin looked like after soaking the thread you just start wrapping it around the balloon. Yeah…didn’t work for me. The thread just kept sliding off the balloon causing a chorus of bad language to spew forth from my mouth. So I spot a canning jar from another pin project. A light bulb moment: the lid will make a perfect stand to hold the balloon.

Revised plan:
6: Sit balloon on lid to free up both hands.
7: Take soaked string and just randomly cover balloon. I was only able to do one side at a time this way. Give the wet section a little time to dry before rotating. Remember once you pop the balloon and remove it you will have candy inside so make sure all your holes are small enough to keep the candy from falling out. You might be asking why I glooped (technical word) so much flour paste on the thread. That was the only way I could get certain parts to stay put.
8: Let it dry.
9: Wait forever to let it dry.
10: Watch Resident Evil while you wait for the string egg to dry.

The messy process

The messy process

So I’m watching one of my favorite Zombie movies while the drying process drags on. While watching I think about this past Fall when I planted a Zombie and Halloween night where I became an Umbrella Corp scientist cooking up the dreaded zombie virus. While we wait for the egg outcome I will share these two projects with you.

Planting a Zombie
While on Pinterest I stumbled upon a cute little pin. It was a little flower pot with a zombie hand planted. I said to myself, “Self, you can do this but it needs to be bigger.” I totally agreed with myself.

Here is the Pinterest zombie planter:

Zombie plant from Pinterest

Zombie plant from Pinterest

Here is mine. Yes it is true. Bigger is better.

My Zombie planter.

My Zombie planter.

Unleashing the Virus:
Every Halloween I dress as a zombie. Do my own make-up. Go to work covered it latex pieces I made with itchy blood and make-up on. So I awake at 4 a.m. to apply make-up. Wear make-up until eleven that night, sometimes even later. This Halloween I decided that was more then I wanted to commit to. So If I wasn’t going to be a zombie I was going to be a zombie creator. Off to Amazon I went, a week later my lab coat arrived followed by my Umbrella Corporation patches. A little ironing, some safety glasses and a security pass…Ta-da! I am a scientist that creates the zombie virus that wipes out mankind.

Resident Evil scientist costume

Resident Evil scientist costume

So for the moment you have been waiting for, the Pin outcome.

Getting candy out of a balloon that’s in a string egg is not a fun time. I tried to cut the balloon in half to get the candy out in doing so I managed to cut the wrapper off of one the candies. It seems flour paste was not a great choice. The string was now a dull flour coated mess. The egg is fragile, handle with care. I do not have any photos of the balloon removal process. It was late at night and all my concentration was on not breaking the damn egg. Somehow during this time I fell over the kitchen chair.
The crashing noise woke the husband, he raises his bald head off the pillow and asks, “Is someone attacking you?”
“No.”
“Good cause I wasn’t getting out of this warm bed to come save you.”
That people is true love at its finest.
In his defense if I was being attacked by a person and not an evil chair he would have helped me fight off the attacker…I think.

The eggish thing I made

The eggish thing I made

I used the four/water method because I did not have any fabric stiffener. Going to buy some for just one little project is just insane. Would I do this project again? Sure if I ever have some spare stiffener lying around.

Now I have this pack of balloons looking at me, begging to be used. I have the perfect Pin for those bad boys. So off on another Pinteresting adventure I go. Until next time, may the Pin be with you.

These Bananas are Driving Me Bananas!

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I thought I would start this out with a funny story before getting to my recent Pin recreation. Turns out the Pin I attempted ended up being the funny story.

If my dad is at the store and bananas are on sale he will buy them. Not for himself, but for me and the hubby. So every few days dad is popping over with a bag of bananas. A WHOLE bag. So today I have twelve over ripe bananas needing to be used. Two loaves of banana bread later I still have a boat load of bananas left. So Pinteresting I went.

 

I found Lazy Morning Banana Cake after a quick search for banana recipes.

Simple, easy to follow directions. Where did this go wrong? Or did any of it ever go right?

I had all the ingredients. Thought I understood the recipe and instructions. Problem number one: I could not find my measuring spoons. So I guess-a-mated. Problem number two: was I suppose to use all purpose or self rising flour? I only had self rising available. I had a fifty percent chance of using the right flour. Problem number three: I poured the batter into the pan. To me it seemed like way to much for one round pan. But the recipe used one. I trusted the recipe. Problem number four: I forgot to add the butter to the batter. The cake was already in the oven by then so I was committed at this point. Or should have been committed.

Thankfully I put a pan on the bottom rack just below the cake in case there was too much batter. I will let the photo tell some of the story.

Serious cake overflow

Serious cake overflow

The bake time was suppose to be twenty-five minutes. TWO sets of twenty-five minutes later and the cake still wasn’t done. Skelly was sitting at the table with his mouth hanging open. I believe that bony fellow was laughing at me. I was not in a laughing mood. There was also another pin going wrong during this time. Maybe I would see the humor in all of this later. Much later.

On a positive note the baking cake was smelling pretty damn awesome. So after seventy minutes bake time I took the cake from the oven. Was it done inside? I didn’t care at this point because the top was beginning to burn. After letting the cake sit a few minutes I worked up enough nerve to perform the fork test. Woohoo ! The fork came out clean. The cake was done. Finally. As you can tell by the photo that cake was not going to come out of the pan without a fight. The battle was epic. Ballads will one day be sung about this battle. In the end the cake did come out of the pan (not in one piece) and all that awaited was the taste test. I let the husband try it first. With some urging from him I finally took a bite. Oh my goodness. This disaster of a baking experience resulted in the best tasting banana cake EVER. Would I bake it again? Hell no! I’m still trying to get that damn pan clean. By the way I do realize my mistake now. I should not have used the baking soda with self rising flour. Okay that wasn’t my only mistake but it was where everything began to go wrong.

The cake

The cake

But you should give it a go. Just use a measuring spoon, maybe all purpose flour and divide the batter into two pans. Oh and don’t forget the butter. Let me know how it turns out. As I’m sitting here trying to decide how to finish off the bananas I still have left I see my dad walking to the door. Guess what he has a bag of?

Here is the original pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/314337248963963121/

Lazy Morning Banana Cake

Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour pan.

Mash up the bananas.

Mix everything but the bananas. After mixing fold in the bananas. Pour into pan (or pans if you screw up the batter like I did) Bake for twenty-five minutes. Done when you can insert a fork and it pulls out clean. Good luck and may the cake gods show mercy upon you.

Thanks for joining me on another Pinteresting adventure. Here is a photo of the Banana Bread. I will share the recipe soon.

The Amazing Rock Your World Banana Bread

The Amazing Rock Your World Banana Bread

 

Monsters, Cookies, and Angel Food

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Here are a few of my baking Pins from this winter. Cookies and a cake. The Halloween decorations are year round’ and the monsters are my babies, they‘re twins. Poor fellows have no names.

I was baking a lot of cookies experimenting for Christmas gifts. It was a cold night so I made me some hot chocolate with marshmallows. As I was pouring the marshmallows from the container to my mug I got the idea to add them to cookies. I have tried regular marshmallows in the past but once the cookie was baked the marshmallow disappeared. Did it baked into the dough completely? Leak out and poof? Or was there some sort of marshmallow stealing monster living in my oven? I just didn’t know. But the marshmallows for hot chocolate are dried. Would they work? I was going to find out.

cookie mix

Simple recipe. Follow instructions on box, once mix add the marshmallows. However much you want. Then just bake. This I did and once done I took them from oven and let them cool slightly. Still warm I took a bite. YES I had marshmallows in my cookies! Take that evil oven monsters!

 IMG_1011

 Next cookie I baked I call Grinchers. I just added green food color to the dough. Easy as pie or in this case, cookie. The twins were excited to be in the photos.

 

IMG_1092 

As you know I have given up artificial sweeteners but when I made this I was still in heavy with my diet soda addiction. Today I would use regular soda. This is another simple recipe. Take your angel food cake mix and instead of water just use soda. Bake according to box. I actually ended up making this three days in a row because everyone would keep eating all the cake and I wouldn’t get any. It is that good. Everyone should have a few boxes of angel food cake mix handy. You can add so many things to it. Instead of water add a can of crushed pineapple instead of water. Bake in a large pan. One time I put strawberries in blender with just a little orange juice blended it till was liquid and used in place of water. Any soda you like will work. I also use angel food mix as the topping on my cobblers. I’m actually eating a piece of pineapple angel food cake right now.

IMG_1062 IMG_1072

 

Evil Queen Apple Cobbler

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Evil Queen Apple Cobbler

So this week is zombie apocalypse week at our house. You know after a while your cabinets get overcrowded with canned and boxed foods. When that happens here at the crypt we have zombie apocalypse week. Which means we survive on what we scavenge from the cupboards. Everyone should do this every so often to keep things up to date. Canned food does have an expiration date. You don’t want to be suffering from a terrible cold one day only to discover that the only can of chicken soup you pull out of the cabinet is out of date. Been there, not fun. Not at all.

So for the rest of the week the husband and I will survive on soups, tuna, vegetables and what ever boxed meals are hiding out. Maybe use up some of the frozen meat from the freezer too. We are about to enter the danger zone: the place where too much salt intake is just one can of green beans away. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. You learn to be creative with your meals. Did you know crushed up cheez its make a great topping for pasta salad?

Tonight we dined on canned potatoes, a huge can of green beans with a hearty black bean soup. Not the best meal we have ever had but still better than a fast food burger. Dessert was an awesome apple cobbler I baked. Breakfast tomorrow will be pumpkin banana bread. So today’s tally of pantry items used: two cans of potatoes, one can of green beans, two cans of black bean soup, a can of pumpkin puree, a box of pumpkin bread mix and a half bag of unused cake mix. I’ll explain the cake mix in a minute. I also used up four apples that were on the verge of mutiny and two extremely over ripe bananas. Lunch for work tomorrow: The husband will be taking canned Ravioli and I will take pasta salad. Two more items gone. I have two jars of spaghetti sauce, so tomorrow nights dinner will be meatballs cooked in the sauce. With some canned veggies for side dishes. Followed by a nice big ole blueberry muffin. I have several boxes of those. They were on sale last month, I couldn’t resist.

I am going to share with you a secret about baking a cake from a mix. When you grease and flour you pans…..drum roll…..wait for it….use some dry cake mix instead of flour. You don’t have to worry about your baked cakes having that floury taste along the edges. I just keep a bag of mix in a baggy, using it to flour the pan whenever I’m baking cakes. Tonight’s half bag along with the four need-to-use-soon apples gave birth to this amazing cobbler recipe I’m about to share, called Evil Queen apple cobbler. Why is it called that you ask? Apples make me think of evil queens and their poisonous ways. I just adore evil queens. I think it’s because they wear so much black.
I did not have enough apples to fill up my cake pan or pie dish so I used two small bread pans. The amounts aren’t set in stone.

Evil Queen Apple Cobbler

4 apples, peeled and cut to bite size pieces. I used granny smith apples.
Butter, 8 tbsp-ish (for the filling)
Butter, 2-4 tsp for topping, softened
Cinnamon (to your taste)
2 packets of Truvia (or sugar, 2 tsp)
1 cup of white or yellow cake mix

Since I used aluminum pans I did not butter the pans. If using metal be sure to butter the bottoms of the pans. I peeled and chopped the apples. I put down a layer in each pan. Put two ‘dollops’ of butter down. Sprinkled half a packet of Truvia and sprinkled cinnamon. I like a lot of cinnamon, again use as little or as much as you prefer. Add another layer of apples, butter, Truvia and cinnamon.

Layer 1 and 2

Layer 1 and 2

Now in a bowl combine your cake mix and softened butter. Start off with 2 tsp of butter. You are making a crumble type topping. You don’t want a batter. Add more butter if needed. This should be dry enough where you can apply the topping with your hands.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

I then popped those little pans of happiness in the 350 degree preheated oven on a baking sheet. Since the apples are fresh bake forty to forty-five minutes. Test apples with a fork to see if they are cooked through. If you are using a canned pie filling thirty minutes of cooked time should be enough. I served my cobbler in a dish with ice cream. My husband just ate his out of the pan. Again the amounts are not set in stone. If you want more sauce in your cobbler add more butter between your layers, if you want it sweeter add more Truvia or sugar.

Baked

Baked

Time to eat !

Time to eat !

Once zombie apocalypse week is done and the cabinets are bare or almost I am going to try a pin I saw about slow cooking everyday. The pin is linked to a site where your are given list and instructions to prepare a weeks worth of meals. We shall see how that turns out. I also have a pin I am dying to try out. If it works my husband will worship me till his dying day. So come on back and share in the Pinteresting life of Gotha Stewart.