Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kilts and Togas

Up and out this morning to the sight of snow, a lot of snow in the high, back country; at least 10,000 feet and up.  I couldn't see Long's Peak for the shroud of clouds around it, but I suspect it'll be just as snow covered as the others.  

Down here along the front range, it was cold and rainy yesterday.  Today is cool, but sunny.  Tomorrow we are supposed to be cold, with more rain.  All this just in time for Homecoming Week for my two High Schoolers.  My daughter will be playing in the Powder Puff games tomorrow afternoon - I'm guess it'll be more mud-bowl than a flag football, but she's still excited.  I'm just praying for nothing broken, bruised or twisted. . .'cause "flag" doesn't mean squat.

It was a fairly quiet and uneventful weekend.  I spent a fair share watching Outlander, reading Outlander and fantasizing thinking about what I'd seen and read.  We enjoyed a dinner out on Saturday to say good-bye to my sister-in-law, who the week before had dropped off her daughter before heading to Raton, NM for a week of shooting and survival skills.  Sunday the 6 y.o. and I headed to my sister's for some crafting time.  We came home with a haunted house, a banner and a very satisfied with himself 6 y.o.  I dropped a few stitches on some cross-stitch ornaments.  I stood in the fabric line at JoAnn's with a bundle of fabric for Spirit Day, where Seniors are in Togas, wondering, like the four other mothers with similar bundles, "aren't togas made from bed sheets?  Cheap-we-already-have bed sheets?"  We reminisced about days gone by, or rather togas gone by, that didn't require fabric suited more for NY Fashion Week than for togas.  Otherwise I was pretty unproductive.

Happy Tuesday,

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thursday Night Lights, Food and Men in Kilts

It was over 90 degrees yesterday.  Yes.  90.  You know how thrilled I must be by this weather episode.  It's been in the upper 80's all week.  Today doesn't sound like it will be any different.  It's the end of September people!!
Given the temps during the day, I figured the evening would be lovely; cooling down this time of year isn't an issue.  Hubby had returned home after being gone since Monday.  The High School football game was a Thursday Night Lights affair.  It seemed like a perfect equation for hitting the game ourselves.  So we did.  I sat in my tank top well into the second half before starting to feel the need for my sweatshirt.
The game, while a win, wasn't much of a thrill with a final of 43 - 9.  RV took the lead early and stayed there.  Go Mustangs!  The evening was also special as the student body and parents honored a player whose mother passed away after last week's game.  It does a soul good to see such an outpouring of support in a community. 
With the hubs being gone, I wasn't much for cooking.  I didn't even menu plan.  My menu got shuffled around the week before, with some recipes going uncooked, so I just moved them to this week.
Last week, for In-law Friday I cooked up these Salted Caramel Apple Cups.  The fall just screams "cook with apples or pumpkins," so I do.  These yummy little things were just the fall-ticket.  Tart, sweet, crunchy, buttery.  A definite do-over, in spite of the multiple steps.
This Kielbasa, Pepper, Onion and Potato Hash will be a good meal to remake when it's cool.  It was quick and, luckily, when I made it we were down a diner.  It makes a good amount, but would not have fed hubby too, had he been here.  I'll make it again, but I'll double it.  The blogger who made it talks about making it in two pans, to keep the potatoes crisp.  Hubby's gone, I don't have to cook, I'm not using two pans.  I crisped up the potatoes, sort of shoved them aside to brown the sausage.  Shoved all that aside to soften the onions and peppers and then tossed it all together.  In the end the potatoes had that golden, caramelized flavor, they held their shape but had softened a bit.  I was okay with that.  They weren't soggy, just soft, but with flavor.
This pin for Hot Ham & Cheese with Bacon and Caramelized Onions was down a ways on my board.  It made me wonder if I'd pinned it when the kids were still playing sports.  It's a good meal for doing ahead.  They'd be great served up with soup.  You could probably even set extras in the 'fridge or freezer for reheating.  Add some scrambled eggs and you'd have a good grab-and-go breakfast.  I didn't use the Hawaiian buns, but made these 40 Minute Hamburger Buns instead.  They were really easy and super soft. 

This was last Friday's main dish.  The Honey & Spice Baked Chicken was good.  Only getting a "good" rating was mostly my fault because I  used chicken cutlets and overcooked them just a bit.  Next time I'll either use full sized breasts, cook a cutlet less time, or sometimes I like subbing boneless-skinless thighs, which stay juicy.  The sauce was good and the in-the-oven baking meant less time over the stove.

I served the Honey & Spiced Chicken with these Mashed Potato Patties with Tapenade Cream.  This recipe has tons of options for flavor mix-ins; the cream topping does too.  I did a cheddar mix in with a Cumin Cream.  They were good, but a little too soft.  The crust just didn't get as crispy as I'd have preferred.  They did have to sit for a bit, which might have contributed to the problem.  Next time I'll use Panko crumbs instead and keep them on the skillet until we're ready to sit down.  Any leftovers would be good with an egg the next morning.  Just use a little butter in your pan to add a bit of crisp back into them.
We have an open weekend in front of us.  The weather should be pretty good.  Hubby may hit the lakes again.  Pre-season hockey is on TV.  We are I am now the happy viewer of Starz - bring on the men in kilts.  Or rather the one man in a kilt; I may not leave the couch all weekend.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Super Stash Busters Challenge #3

It's been a quiet week, once I'm home, with hubby out of town.  You'd think my crafting time would be off the charts, but no.  

It's been quite a while since my fingers even grazed a craft supply.  I can't even fall back on a child's school project as craft related - unless you count cutting out a paper die to assemble and play a math game with.  I can stretch my kids' craft related activities to pseudo make them into crafting time for me, but even I can't go there with that one.

I do have this layout to share though, from a few weekends ago now.  I used Challenge #3 from the Super Stash Busters class I took at Big Picture.  I used the Simple Stories Hey Pop! line found in the June Smaller kit

The Challenge involved repeating elements.  A cursory glance through a couple jars told me I wasn't gonna find too many multiples of a given element.  Add that I wasn't much feeling like digging into my stash to begin with, and I just went with the kit and luckily it had an Arrow paper - looked repeating enough for me.  There's a bit of repeating with the chevron shape, in the background paper and on the small strip at the bottom of the journaling card.  If I wanted to stretch it, I repeated the use of the Tangerine Mini Brads - but that's really pushing it.

Once I settled on the paper, I did look for some arrows to reinforce the theme, but either the colors didn't work, or I just couldn't make the ones I had work.  In the end, I think it was because of the busy-ness of the photos and then the papers themselves.  I messed around with removing strips of arrow papers, adding arrow papers, combining the number of strips with the arrows I had and I just couldn't get it to look right.  The resulting layout was, ironically, where I started before I messed around for way too long.  In the end, my first set-up was what worked the best.

I did follow the sketch, with the exception of the title being on the journaling card instead of to the left of the photos.  I do need something over there to balance the layout.  Maybe one giant arrow.  Naturally, I think of that now!  Today, though, it's a completed page - arrow or not.

Happy  Thursday,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

We Are

I was up and out this morning under crystal clear skies.  Not a cloud or con-trail in sight, save the two hot air balloons that seem to be "regulars" on these autumn mornings - sometimes there are three of them.

The peaks to the west are almost void of all snow, minus the glacier fields - a sure sign that we've come through summer and are just waiting now.

The birthday-palooza that is September for our family continued this past week.

  • We are surprised by a visit from my daughter and her friend bearing a PSL and bouquet on my birthday.
  • We are hooked on Outlander.  The Starz series, the book series - it's all good.  I received the first three books as a gift.  Watched the first three episodes and yeouch. . .who knew there'd be so much good in watching a man in a kilt?
  • We are so proud of this 14 y.o.'s speech and subsequent election to the Student Council. 
  • We are celebrating with a donut cake, an almond cake and cupcakes - per requests.
  • We are moving into "clothes as a gift" territory.
  • We are receiving a new stock of reading material.
  • We are getting our birthday recognized for the last time at this school.
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September's Sketch

Can you believe we're down to the last full week in September?  This time of year seems to fly, but I can't figure out why.  Maybe it's simply because I adore this time of year and the leaves change and are gone too quickly, for me.

But there's September kits to look forward to and play with.  If you haven't cracked into your kit yet, it's high time to do so.

This month's sketch from Becky Fleck, from PageMaps, has a whopping nine photos.  NINE.  That's my kind of sketch, folks.  And it's a grid-style layout which makes moving things around really easy.

Now, remember you can use either side of the sketch, if you need less photos.  You can rotate the sketch, or either side of it, to accommodate the orientation of the photos you have.  Decrease the number by combining photo blocks into larger single photos, or simply removing certain photos and replacing with patterned paper or embellishments.  Make room for even more photos by dividing photo blocks.

Here we have Kristin Perez's take on the September sketch, using the My Mind's Eye Jubilee Wild Berry line found in the Smaller kit.  She has nine photos, but has made her photos along the bottom of the layout larger (instead of several smaller photos in the sketch.)  She also included a photo on the right, where journaling would have gone.  Doing this altered the space for journaling, and she left it off.

Here Nancy Longo also included nine photos (she used the October Afternoon Milk Money line found in the Bigger kit.)  Her photos on the right side of the layout are larger than those in the sketch (her photos on the left are per the sketch.)  Because of the larger sizes on the right she moved her journaling down to the left side of the layout, which adds some weight to the left and helps balance the larger photos on the right.

Maria Swiatkowski was quite the rebel and used a loose interpretation of the the sketch to create her layout.  She has six photos.  In the lower space, on the right side, she opted to cut apart one of the patterned papers into blocks and put the blocks in place of photos (she used the October Afternoon Milk Money line found in the Bigger kit.)  She, too, has a photo where journaling was shown.  She moved her journaling down and balanced it with another block of patterned paper on the left.

Finally, we have Jennifer Halleck, who stay pretty true to the sketch.  Her only change, was that her journaling became a sub-title.  She also toned down the embellishments - the paper was busy enough.

Happy Tuesday,

Monday, September 22, 2014

He's 14

He is fast, really fast.  Has been since he needed just three hours to make his presence know in this world.

He'll put up a fuss about leaving his sitting position on the couch to, ironically, sit on the boat, but once he's out there he has fun (he admits to that less these days than he used to.)  And if there's a fish, particularly a Pike, on the end of his line, he's really happy.

He can enjoy the simple pleasures found in life, or at least in a boy's life:  flooded gutters, bonfires, skipping rocks, digging in the dirt.

He was my youngest for eight years, but had to figure out his new place in the family (and life) when his little brother arrived.  Turns out, he's a really good big brother.  And the life-stuff, he's figuring that out, too.

He's athletic.  He's adventurous.  He's competitive.  If he's pitted against (or pits himself against) something or someone, he's all about the win.

He's sweet - though he these days he tries to hide it.  He's an original thinker.  He's creative.  He still let's me hug him, even in front of his friends. 

Today he's 14.  14!

Happy Birthday, my Jo-Jo-Binx.

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's All About the Food

It's been a busy week with birthdays (two, with one more on Monday), youth groups, school meetings, homework, concerts, speeches, school pictures and dudes caulking windows and blowing insulation into the attic.  And there's the usual house work, laundry and daily drop-offs and pick-ups, and such going on.
Creative time this week was pretty absent, and again, wasn't a project of my own.  This week the closest I got, was arranging a couple bouquets of flowers and printing photos of animals for my 6 y.o.
It was a week of Pinterest for meals though.
Banana Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies with Whole Wheat, Oats, and Dried Blueberries  Now that's a mouthful for a recipe name.  I picked them because I have a high schooler whose not a fan of traditional breakfast foods, which makes it really fun to figure out something to make that she can run with.  These turned out really well.  They are filling; great with a glass of milk or juice.  I've had one for lunch a couple days this week because of the running around.  Switch up the dried fruit for your tastes and you could add a tablespoon of Flax or Chai seeds to up the nutrition.

I'm on a quest for a quick and easy granola bar.  This is the second recipe I've tried lately.  The first was Here.  It was a bake recipe and good.  This No-Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars uses a boiled mixture to hold it together.  Don't fear the liquid sugar.  I followed the time and it turned out well.  I had to do the full-sized pan and squash everything to one end.  Really pressing it down and making them thick enough is key - I used the bottom of a glass to press them down; my fingers, even greased, kept sticking.  They are soft without being crumbly.  I keep them stored between parchment paper. 

This Banana Bread Crumb Cake is A.Mazing.  It's really moist, without being wet, like some banana recipes can get.  The crumb topping is crunchy.  It.  Is.  Good.  Makes a good dessert (as I used it for) or on a brunch table or just with coffee.

I love Salisbury Steak, so when I saw them in meatball form, I had to try them.  Pioneer Woman did up these yummy Salisbury Steak Meatballs and serves them up on noodles.  My only want was more gravy, because it was sooo good.  This was a perfect comfort dish on a cool-ish day.

Birthday People in my house get their fave food for dinner.  Sometimes that means going out, sometimes it's something I make.  For the six year old, it's McD's cheeseburgers or pizza.  Well, he had the burger for lunch, so . . . pizza it is.  I found this recipe when I didn't have enough time to make my usual bread-machine version of pizza dough.  This Quick Bread Dough recipe is ready to go in about 20 minutes.  I was crunched for time and my go-to Quick Marinara wasn't going to be quick enough, so a search provided me this no-cook Homemade Red Sauce.  An informal poll, taken while the family was stuffing their faces with pizza, revealed they prefer this dough to my, now former, bread machine version.  I love that the dough also works for cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls.  It's a keeper.

I had two other recipes that will be moved to next week because of a change in evening plans.

I'd better get a move on my day.  Friday Night In-law dinner is up and I've got a dessert to make, potatoes to cook and some odd tidying to do.  If the evening works itself out, I'll be heading to my sister's to take in a few episodes of Outlander.  My daughter is running the Color Fun Fest 5K on Saturday; and it'd be fun to go depending on what wave she's in.  There's a party on Sunday for the birthday folks.  And hubby is getting ready to leave for a week.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TBT - Super Stash Busters Challenge #2

I had a good day yesterday - flowers and coffee from my daughter, dinner out and received the first three books in the Outlander series (dang those suckers are thick.)  The only thing that would have capped it off would have been a little time at the scrapbook table.  But, I'll take the day the way it was.

I did spend some time with my supplies this past weekend.  I used an Apron Strings kit, combined with the Super Stash Busters Challenge #2 to complete this layout.  This Jillibean Spotted Owl Soup line was in a Smaller kit, back in 2011 - so it's a Throw Back Thursday, too.

The challenge itself talked about how the use of grids can help use up a variety of papers and embellishments.  The sketch was a one-pager and included 15 slots for photos and/or embellishment blocks.  I would have liked to include more, but couldn't crop my photos down enough.  In the end though, I like the balance and the snapshots captured this day (my now 13 year old's - 14 on Monday - fifth birthday.)  I would have liked to embellish the paper blocks a bit more, but the paper was busy enough on its own.  

Another challenge down.  Another kit gone.  Well, almost, I have some patterned paper to use to make a card or two.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Birthday, Your Gift

My six year old, while chatting with his teacher, mentioned my upcoming birthday.  When the teacher asked my age, my sweet-getting-extra-ice-cream boy said he thought (with his hand on his chin) that I was going to be 29 or 30.  Gotta love it when they have no concept of time.

So in honor of what age he thinks I am, I'm offering 30% off your entire order.  TODAY ONLY.  Enter code:  BDAY30 
(Code is good for a one-time use and active today only, 9-17-2014.  Code must be used at the time of purchase; refunds for missing codes cannot be given.)

Go. Shop.

We Are

Wispy clouds over a deep blue sky are out this morning.  So is the heat. . .we're back to the 90's.  Only in Colorado will you have your furnace on one day and your air conditioner on the next.

Last week was a quiet one, as is evidenced by the whopping amount of photos I took.

  • We are getting out blankets for the cooler days . . . it's a good day to be a dog.
  • We are being recognized for our birthday
  • We are such a goofball, and can hardly wait to open a present.
  • We are celebrating our birthday with a box of black licorice (yum) and future Panera goodies.
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Six Years Ago

Six years ago, after flying down the highway, running out of gas a good 20 miles from our final destination with contractions about three minutes apart, we welcome our newest model.  We call him our "green" model.  He, unlike his older siblings, was nameless for two days.

We finally decided on his name, Matthew (after nixing Axel.)  His name means "gift from God," and he most certainly is.  He was the gift we never knew we were waiting for.  We also found that his name means "game changer."  And boy was he ever.  He came into this world the same day the stock markets came crashing down. 

When he is happy . . .he is very happy.  We he isn't. . .nobody else is either. 

He is probably the most independent of the bunch.  He's outspoken. . .always has been, his very colicky beginnings are proof of that.  He's energetic.  He's outgoing.  He's my keeper-upper.  

He's loving.  He's full of hugs.  He's cuddly.  His joy bubbles out and is infectious.  You can't help but see the world through his eyes.  His "I love you's" are unsolicited.

He's my fourth child.  My third son.  And today, he's six.

Happy Birthday, my sweet game changing gift.