Wednesday, June 29, 2016

We Are

We are just rolling right along this summer.  This week my house is in shambles, thanks to several projects going on.  I have no place to rest my eyes that isn't a disaster.  

My laundry room is in my front hall and my stove is in the middle of the kitchen, thanks to running gas pipe for a new gas dryer and range.  There are two very large boxes, and their contents, in my living room awaiting scaffolding to install a new, (supposedly) quieter whole house fan and a new ceiling fan in the family room.  My basement and studio, that was once clean and arranged (an oasis, really), has also fallen victim to the gas pipe installation with everything shoved aside and stacked hodge-podge, and there are three large holes cut into the ceiling.  

I can't even get into my house.  The front porch is covered in soggy rugs and dripping-wet canvas (from covering cars to avoid hail damage, because the garage is torn apart as part of the gas pipe project) after a severe storm rolled through our neighborhood dumping hail and a ton of rain, not to mention the shredded leaves from the trees and the pummeled mess that once was my gardens.  

Add that nothing else can really be put away because of all the other things currently out of place, and . . . I just need a hotel room.

  • When you're playing xBox and notice you're speeding past a monument you recognize, have visited and spent time inside.  Then, in the game you explore and point out where you've been.
  • Finally!
  • The struggle of the hash brown
  • When you're ready to go, but nobody else is
  • When your phone, unfortunately, predicts the incoming weather, and its path, correctly
  • When your 19 y.o. accompanies you to the liquor store and you end up with some sort of glittery "galaxy" drink in your cart.  I have to say, it is a very weird, but cool, thing to look at.  The kind of "cool" that you don't think about how they got it that way when you're drinking it.
Happy Wednesday,

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Food for Thought

My computer didn't seem to feel like connecting to the Internet yesterday.  It was having none of it.  Today, a lovely cool morning start, and it seems happy to be surfing.

It's funny, I was thinking this morning, in the quiet - hubby is off at a shoot, the two older boys are at the Steubenville of the Rockies retreat for the weekend, the Girlie (after surviving her first clinical yesterday) is heading off to an all day shift at Old Navy and the 7 y.o. is talking to himself while playing xBox - how our calendar has changed over the summers.  Summers with the kids home used to mean a fairly wide-open schedule.  Time for whatever we chose - friends, pools, shopping, staying cool in the basement, dinners together.  Now, the only thing that's similar is the kids are all home.  Two have almost full-time jobs, one is also taking two summer courses, one is awaiting news about a job and one is enjoying the boredom of a summer break.  Then, of course, they all have friends to meet up with, events and concerts to go to and time to just be out of the house.  We do our best to eat together as a family, but it's becoming more difficult.  I don't think I like it.

As our lives morph, my cooking does, too.  Now, I look at our schedules and make sure that on certain nights, the food is either good cold, or easily re-heatable, sort of like when the kids were all in sports.  This week I have two posts started for recipes.  Instead of taking the time-consuming route (remember, I have no people in the house and scrapbooking things on my dining room table) and moving them all to one, I've decided to post one and add to the other next week, for a longer post.

My rhubarb is a ways away from being harvest-able - aka, it died, so I'll have to re-plant next year.  We are also growing some at my in-laws that should be ready later this summer, for a short, first-year harvest.  So I grab it at the store when I see it and figure out what to do with it later.  I hosted a breakfast on Father's Day and needed something to finish, and remembered the rhubarb.  Loree's Rhubarb Nut Coffee Cake was the perfect thing.  It's moist and the cake really lets the sweet-tart of the rhubarb shine through.  There is a scrumptious sauce that goes on the cake prior to serving, but I think in the future, I'll serve it on the side.

When hubby asked if we could host his folks on Father's Day, I had already planned on making him breakfast, so it was no biggie to have them over.  My world-traveler son wanted crepes, but I told him it's not his day, but hubby thought that sounded good.  I was looking for a good cheese filling and found Sauteed Cream Cheese Crepes.  With a kitchen already nearing 100 at 9:30 in the morning, there was no flippin' way I was double cooking these, so I just made them standard crepes.  We filled ours with the cheese and cherry preserves.  Whipped cream and a smidgen of maple syrup, more preserves or powdered sugar would have been a nice touch, but my brain had melted out my ears by the time I sat down, so thought was no longer possible.  Luckily they were creamy and just sweet enough, no thought was necessary.

We got back from our Kansas Wedding trip too late on Sunday for me to plan a menu - what with the unpacking and broken dryer to contend with.  Monday, I managed to make dinner with things I had on hand at home.  Sweet!  Friday rolled around, I was still cooking from my pantry and 'fridge, and I was needing sides.  This Copy-Cat Chick-Fil-A Cole Slaw was one of them.  It was creamy, but not too vinegary and not too sweet.

When we travel, we stay in suite-style hotels, 1) because we can get us all in without paying for two rooms, and 2) so we can use the kitchenette to make lunch and snacks from.  This being the case for our recent trip, I had some items we brought home that needed to be used up.  Blueberries were one such item.  The heat was continuing to go up, so I didn't want anything that required the oven on for any length of time.  Shortcake sounded good, so I looked for a sweet biscuit recipe instead of a pound cake.  These Shortcake Biscuits are what I found.  No cutting in butter, as it uses cream instead, a good thing since the cream I had on hand was rear it's expiration date.  They were tall, 1" high before baking, but moist and just dense enough to withstand macerated fruit and juice without falling to pieces.  The recipe says it makes more than it really does - I only got five, so I had to make a second batch.

The heat continued all week, and into the weekend, blah!  Still had no menu.  Still hitting the market for small items.  Hubby grilled brats, and potato salad is a must with brats.  I opted to go for a non-cream based Garlic-Herb Potato Salad.  I picked up red potatoes and the rest I had on hand.  This was really good.  Bold flavors, and red potatoes always hold up so well.  I didn't miss the creamy base.

Father's Day my sister hosted dinner for our side of the family.  She served up grilled pizza.  She's made them before and talked about it.  I've read about them on blogs.  I have, however, not tried them on our grill.  Until now.  I made three.  This Grilled Cherry, Goat Cheese and Arugula Pizza was for the Girlie and I, because we don't mind stepping out of the pizza box.  We both loved the cherries - I used Rainier because they were on sale.  The sweet-tart of the cherries, combined with the creamy of the goat cheese and the bite of the balsamic reduction was just fab!  I couldn't find arugula outside of a bagged mix, so I opted for spinach, that I chopped.

I made a traditional pepperoni pizza, with my go-to Pizza Sauce, but we needed one more, because these are smaller and there were five of us.  So this Bacon Chicken Alfredo Pizza was my third grilled pizza (we could fit two at a time on our grill.)  The Alfredo base was perfect - garlicky and creamy.  I did cook up one chicken breast, but you could totally use rotisserie.  Because the recipe was an "oven" pizza, I simply had all the toppings ready to go when the crust was done, spread on the sauce, topped with the topping and let the pizza go another 2-4 minutes to melt the cheese.  Because everything was cooked, it work like a charm.

NOTE:  All three of my pizzas used this Quick Bread Dough.  I divided the one batch into three crusts.  I followed the instructions for cooking/assembling that came with the cherry pizza.  Be sure to well grease both sides of the dough and the grill.  I think a less round pizza would work well - fewer sides falling between the grids.  The infused garlic oil (the cherry pizza), I wouldn't do again.  It was a step that didn't add any discernible flavor, that I could tell.  The cherry pizza instructions said "medium" grill, which isn't helpful in the least.  We started at 350, but that was too high.  In the end we were around 225 for a crust that cooked and stayed golden within 2-3 minutes.  You will need to find your grill's sweet spot, temp-wise.  It's a little tricky getting the dough on for the first side, but once you've figured out a way that works, it's cake.  I love the thin-but-not-crunchy crust a grill get you.

Easy Sesame Noodles were a simple, and quick side for the drumsticks below.  It was supposed to be a pretty warm day, so I wanted as little time in the kitchen as possible.  These noodles took 15 minutes or so.  They were flavorful, but if you like sesame, I'd add a bit more sesame oil.  Otherwise they had good flavor.  I think they would be good the second day, cold, with or without a protein or added fresh veggies.

I always approach "sauced" slow cooker foods with a bit of trepidation.  The sauce either gets way too loose with the addition of the fats cooking out from the meat (and thus dilutes any flavor), or the sauce cooks away.  This Slow Cooker Honey-Soy Chicken Drumsticks recipe calls for eight drumsticks, but I had 12, so one more reason to worry about sauce.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised.  The sauce remained.  It coated the drumsticks, which were fall-apart tender.  It even reduced, as was called for in the recipe.  The flavor was awesome, too; the orange was still evident in the sauce.

Storms are brewing up and I have done little.

Happy Saturday,

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

I have continued scrapbooking since my giant jump start a few weeks ago.  Nothing quite like that start with 12 pages, but a page or two every few days.  I'm still using the sketches that are coming with the Scrapbook and Cards Today class Easy, Detail, Expert Class (one per week.)  You can still register for the class, which will be entering Week Five, and get access to the sketches released to-date and the Facebook group.  I have not been as prolific using the sketches, creating only one layout, so far, with Week Three's, but I may still go back and try another one.

For this layout, the Apron Strings kit was a Bigger kit from 2010.  The photos from 2006.  The paper is Basic Grey's Green at Heart.  I'm also pretty sure it is the Second Week's sketch.  So far, the four sketches are one-page, and if memory serves, usually not more than two or three photos, so this layout was a stretch for me.  I don't generally do one-page.  I rarely use one photo.  Over-sized embellishments are not something I do.  Looking at it, I probably could have done something to the one photo to give it more weight - matted it or done some embellishing near it, but over all, I'm okay with it.  Plus, it's done - which is always a goal.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

We Are

After the last couple weeks, this week seems inordinately quiet.  It's been hot, too, and I don't do heat.  So, I didn't do much that required going outside, or any movement, really.

  • After weeks (and weeks), finally working for the summer, aka paying student loans.  I know when she's on break because there's a flurry of social media activity.
  • Celebrating Fathers - this one happens to be mine - and utterly grateful for everything they do and provide for their families.  There aren't enough adjectives, and "love" never covers all those bases.
  • What's Father's Day without a water balloon fight?  It was in the mid-90's so nobody was complaining
  • My 15 y.o. making a charge for his older brother
  • My 7 y.o. (burgundy), his 7 y.o. cousin and my brother - who had immunity and a hose (which was taken over by my father.  Never turn your back on grandpa.)
  • My 17 y.o. in retaliation mode
  • Big storms a-brewin'
  • Summer sunsets
  • We replaced our checked-out dryer, by replacing both washer and dryer (the dryer is awaiting hook-up to a new gas line, so it's just me, my new red washer and the laundromat.)  Anyway, the big boxes were irresistible to the 7 y.o. who had plans.  One of which included the "car" that broke down on him.  We don't have car troubles, typically, in our family, so I'm not sure where this stream of conscientiousness comes from.  It cracked me up though.
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Stash Busting

Washi Tape.  This is one of the few products I, 1) have little of and 2) rarely use.  I'm not sure why - it's like ribbon, only better!  It self-sticks.  It's flat (which makes it great for pocket pages) yet provides some texture.  It's bright.  It's festive.  It's versatile.  Like I need a reason to buy more of this cute and easy to use product, I still went in search of ideas, you know. . . reasons to justify purchasing more.

I really like pennants.  They are an easy to use embellishment.  Then I saw these washi tape pennants and decided to hit my local store for several rolls of tape, just to make them.  I have no idea what layout they will land on, but they will make an appearance.  Take it in a bit of a different direction and create the pennant shape (or rectangle, triangle, or square) around a toothpick for flags.

Some washi tapes come in packs of four, or so, coordinating designs or colors.  If you have such a package, this could be a way of using some.  Create a background.  I think there are seven different tapes used on this layout, but you could get away with using less - three or four.

Got naked chipboard or wood pieces?  But the thought of stamping, inking, or the dreaded paper covering, to dress up your piece keeps you from using them?  Fret no more, these may be ornaments, but it demonstrates how easy it is to use washi to wrap your shape and call it done.

Those little mini clothes pins are a fun little bit to add to your page. Dress them up with a bit of tape, whether they are natural or painted.

These frames may be on the wall, but that doesn't mean they can't be transferred to the page to highlight a focal photo.  Keep the ends square, or miter them if you feel the need.  This idea also sparked a thought to outline the edges of a plain journaling card (lay half the tape along the edge, and then fold over to the back side for a thin edge.)

Washi tape provides a simple way to add color behind punched shapes, like this "Happy Birthday" but could also be used behind any shape.

Use the tape as a simple border.  Make it straight, along any edge - embellished ends or not.  You can also create on the diagonal.

These may be thumb tacks, but the idea can be translated to brads, especially if you have brads, but not in a color that works on your layout or card.  

Layer and weave to create corners.

Change up a Corner just a bit to create a chevron pattern.

A few rolls and a few ideas.

Go.  Create.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

A few weeks ago I received an email about a class at SCT (Scrapbook and Cards Today.)  I read about the Easy-Detailed-Expert Class.  I checked out the sneaks.  I kept the email.  I looked at it again.  Then I caught sight of my dust-collecting scrapbook bags sitting under the kitchen desk.  Where, I might mention, they've been sitting since my last outing, how many weeks (months?) ago.  I needed something to get me rolling. . .or cutting.

So, I dropped some money and was determined to do something.  I dragged my totes into the dining room.  Pulled out a kit (already paired with a stack of photos) and the first week's information.  It was a Friday, because I was cooking and thought, "I can play while I make cookies for dessert."  And I did.  Those 10 minute intervals while cookies baked in the oven unleashed a weekend of scrapbooking.  I left my stuff out.  I played between chores.  At night, I played uninterrupted.  Or as uninterrupted as you can be during the summer when all four kids are home.  By Sunday evening I had completed 12 pages and had one in a roughed-out stage.

This layout was based on the second week's sketch.  The paper was Basic Grey's Green at Heart.  The kit was a Bigger kit from 2010.  The photos from 2006.  When I throw back, I throw back.  

This was one of three or four layouts I did using the same sketch as inspiration.  I also used the same kit for two or three more layouts (I added cardstock from my stash when I'd run through what I had in the kit.)  I like the grid on the right.  I've never done something like that.  The sketch was a one-photo thing, and I'm not into one photo layouts, as a general rule anyway, so I used what I needed to capture the event and include some of the details of the sketch.

I would say my stuff runs on the "Easy" side of the class, which comes with cut files that I have yet to use.  Surprised?  No?  Good.  My challenge to myself isn't so much to follow the examples to a "T" as it is to stretch myself into the "Detailed" side of the class, which is more embellished, which is so not me it's scary.  But the point of me taking the class isn't just to scrapbook, but to try something new or push myself a little.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

We Are

Last week we took a quick trip out to Kansas City, KC for my nephew's wedding.  All four kids were involved, in some way, in the ceremony.  It was freakishly hot - in the 90's the entire time - but thankfully the humidity didn't' really ratchet up until the day we left.  It was a lovely ceremony and the kids had a great time at the reception.  Saturday we spent driving to St. Louis, touring the Arch, and driving back to KC where we enjoyed a late dinner with hubby's brother's family, who hosted a post-nuptial dinner.  

Because of being on the road last week, I didn't post, so there's a few things to catch up on.  Brace yourselves.

  • It's like watching a Gazelle . . .
  • Or not
  • With the final Cheetos throw, Field Day 2016 wraps
  • Last Day of Second Grade
  • Somewhere under the five pounds of topping lies a tablespoon of ice cream
  • Two destinations for fishing nets zero fish, and one sign with the closest spelling of your name you'll find
  • An impromptu trip to to the Nature and Science Museum, for a brother to meet an online friend, means strolling through the exhibits.  Water wins.
  • Do Mule Deer hear any better than 7 y.o.'s?
  • You put them down as recipients for your ACT and SAT scores and they like what they see so far.
  • West Kansas plains
  • I am NOT, read NEVER, ready for the heat of summer.
  • I miss road trips in the same car.  More than I even anticipated when we lost the car that fit us all, and decided not to replace it.
  • Two Servers . . .
  • A Ring Bearer . . .
  • and a Reader
  • The Happy Couple
  • During the Father/Bride dance, they invited all the dads and daughters.
  • During the Mother/Son dance, they invited all the moms and sons - our dance looked more like a Rugby Scrum, though.
  • Dancing
  • Lots of dancing.
  • The inevitable crash after a night of hard partying
  • The Arch.  I've been one other time and it's much the same.  Though the experience of getting in has changed a lot.
  • Looking cooler than the 95 degree heat would lead you to believe
  • Afraid to go up, but once up we couldn't get him out of the windows
  • View from the top
  • 630 feet up Group Selfie
  • Scrubs?  Check.  Clinicals coming up.
  • The first casualty of the year.  #RanIntoTheWindow
  • 4 v 4 Soccer nights with friends.  He's still got some skills.
Happy Wednesday,