Wednesday, December 21, 2016

We Are

It's busy and getting busier.  Besides the usual daily home things (cooking, cleaning, overseeing homework, etc.), there's getting ready for Christmas (I believe I am finished shopping -- WHOOP!), the high schoolers and their finals, work schedules to coordinate and hockey.  Then, you add those extra seasonal things and boom, you're toast.

  • The Guitar Man (much relieved after performing his solo) and the groupies who came to support him
  • Third Grade Christmas party - because one or two foam stickers will never be enough
  • The Robin who didn't fly south with his friends.  He was puffed out to the size of a softball, trying to eat the berries off the tree.  Berries that were frozen solid, thanks to single-digit temps, and kept popping off the tip of his beak, and zipping away, as he tried to grab them.  He got one while I watched.  
  • Taking (in red) and winning a face-off! 
  • When it's warmer in the rink than it is outside
  • This week's teams
  • A little holiday crafting.  The trees are super cute and we created quite the forest, which is now sprinkled around the house.
  • When the Girlie is out shopping and sends you this, you get the distinct impression it's not going well.
  • The uglier the better?  Or you waited too long to get the sweater you really wanted.
  • When you're called out for missing your day opening the advent calendar door.  #don'tgetonthelist

Here's to hoping I don't find something I forgot to get while I'm wrapping presents.

Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Try it Tuesday

I need some time to myself.  I need to create something, or at least work on something creative.  I need to lose myself in a creative process, which is re-energizing for me.  I need a break.  

The season is partly to blame for my need for a fix and partly outside forces.  In any case, it's time to take time.

If I'm playing with paper, nothing beats a PageMaps sketch.  I picked this one for its simplicity.  All the effect comes from layering paper.  It starts with layering the base.  Simple scalloped blocks, that could be left unscalloped, or torn add another layer.  Look closely, there's really nothing more than that.  Oh, the couple snowflakes could be buttons or diecuts, but the only other embellishment on here is the reindeer - another diecut, journaling card or maybe some seasonal floral.  

The design is easy enough to add a few more photos, or stay with the three, but go bigger.  Anyway you cut it, this sketch, a handful of photos and an Apron Strings kit and this layout shouldn't take you longer than an hour.

The simplest and quickest way to get something done is just to do it.  Everything that needs doing will still be there when you're done.  Spare the hour to keep your sanity and get a page done in the process.

Go.  Create.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Food for Thought

I had to go back to the week of November 14th to see what I'd cooked.  I passed a lot of blank pages where recipes should be.

The week of Thanksgiving I was just trying to clear out my 'fridge because of the prep I was doing, and the leftovers to come (which turned out to be minimal, and we plowed through them in just a couple days.)

The week following that was a lot of simple, but easy-to-eat-whenever recipes, they were also things I'd posted about before:  Cheesy Ravioli Bake, Sausage Skillet Dinner, Pineapple Cranberry Ham.  That brings us to the first full week of December and hubby was out of town.  So if you thought the simple week was simple, well. . .tacos, pizza and baked potatoes topped the menu that week.

And now here we are.  Friday and no real menu to work from.  I've slacked completely.  I'm a potato.  Prick me with a fork, I'm done.

With my father-in-law recovered enough to begin driving again, we restarted our twice a week dinners with them.  I had expected that while he and my mother-in-law were still at their daughter's house convalescing, we wouldn't be doing dinner with them until they moved back home, so I was not prepared.  I pawed through my pantry and found some sweet potatoes and that was all I needed to search my Pins for sweet potato recipes.  We ended up having Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili.  Besides being super colorful, it was tasty, too.  The roasted tomatoes gave a slightly sweet tang to the chili.  We topped ours with cheese, sour cream and avocados.  If you go for cheese, look for something with a bit of "bite" to stand up in the chili.  Something like a sharp white cheddar.

I made this Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf a couple weeks ago when I had a craving for some throw-back comfort food.  It was tasty and I liked the sauce on top.  The meat was a little wet prior to cooking, so it was a bit crumbly when it came out.  I used panko, but I'm not sure that was the problem, but stuffing would have given it a better binder.  I didn't use the called for one and half pounds of beef, but I can't remember if I went with two pounds or one.  It was still good, and reheated well.

This week we had something every night.  Monday, in-law dinner.  Tuesday, 3rd Grade Christmas program.  Wednesday, hockey practice followed by the 18 y.o.'s Guitar concert.  Thursday, 18 y.o.'s interview with his Blue and Gold Officers for the Naval Academy.  With the interview here at the house, I needed something that could sit and be eaten when we weren't interrupting.  This Crock Pot Pizza Bake was the ticket.  I turned off the cooker to keep the sauce from burning - it was nicely caramelized and crunchy where it oozed through the biscuits.  I made this Red Sauce, which is my go-to pizza sauce - it's got a great consistency and is super fast.  I also used Italian sausage instead of ground beef, quartered some pepperoni, left out the mushrooms, and used yellow pepper instead of green.  It was quite good.  My seven quart cooker got the job done in about 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

I have no shopping done and thus nothing is wrapped, dinner again tonight (but no menu), a 3rd grade Christmas party and hockey today.  I need to figure out when I am doing our annual cookie exchange, send an email and find recipes.  Family starts arriving next week.  The only positive, so far, is the house is semi-pulled together and decorating is complete.  Oh!  and the Girlie pulled off a great grade in her Anatomy class.  Woot.

Happy Friday,

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

We Are

We enjoyed a week of bitter cold and prepping for finals.  There was hockey.  There was a Christmas program and Pioneer Day.  There continues to be shuffling of clutter and decorating of home. 

Unfortunately, there is no shopping.  I'm thinking that better happen soon since I've heard Christmas is next weekend.  But, that can't be right. . .I have nothing wrapped or purchased. . .there must be a miscalculation somewhere.  A count-down calendar is off.  Something.  I need more time!

  • I have to agree with her, kicking those clumps off is highly satisfying.  The bigger the better.  The one kick, huge chunk is the best.
  • Lowest heading-to-school temp of the season.  Thank goodness for heated seats.
  • Pioneer Day - Third Grade.  Whirlygigs.  Smiles.  Handmade butter.  Volunteering at the making-games-table.
  • Walking into Sophomore Biology and finding this waiting for you.
  • When Physics and Christmas Caroling combine
  • When threats of taking his electronics for lolly-gagging on the ice, it's amazing how the focus and play ticks up
  • Finals. . .
  • . . . and the accompanying distractions 
  • #longhand  #knowingtheprocess
  • Third Grade Christmas Mystery program
  • "Detective Frank" (right, and mine) and "Detective Thursday"

Happy Wednesday,

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

My husband has been out of town this week.  While I miss him, an odd phenomenon happens when he's gone, which I have yet to be able to explain - there seems less to do.  I mean, I'm still running and/or keeping track of four kids.  I'm still tidying up after them, making lunches, reminding them to make beds, pick-up their backpacks and shoes, and do their homework, but something seems slower.  Maybe because I don't feel the need to look busy (my own issue) when he's home (he has a home-based office.)  Maybe it's simply because when he's gone dinners are pretty basic - pancakes anyone? - so not a lot of thought goes into cooking or clean-up.  I don't know.

Because of these seemingly simpler days, I tend feel like I have an occasion to play.  In the past I've done quick and easy things like cards, Project Life® pages or something like December Daily mini albums.  I've mentioned before they always start with a kit, and while I've completed one in a day, they usually take a couple evenings to complete.

The above album was the first December Daily I'd ever done.  It started with a kit, that included the album.  The kit was all pre-cut pages, including those with their borders punched.  The embellishments and number cards were included, but their assembly was up to me.  I added bling, pearls and snowflakes.  The line of paper, I so badly want to say is Crate, but I can't for the life of me find it to name it.  I pre-assembled the album and added the photos later - because back in the day they needed to be printed outside my house.

This album was pre-cut chipboard shapes.  It's the Authentique Wonder paper line, coordinating embellishments from the line and ribbon.  This one I assembled, with photos as I went, after Christmas.  If I remember right, I did it over the New Year's weekend and I printed the photos to fit. 

This album used October Afternoon's Make It Merry Chapter pages, combined with the Merry Here & Now album.  The Chapter pages are just that, pages that go in an album - no cutting necessary.  I supplemented my patterned paper needs with the 8x8 Stack from the same line.  The kit had chipboard pieces and tags, but I did add bling, some felt embellishments, ribbon and twine from my stash.  I started this album after Christmas, at a crop, with all the photos printed and all the pieces ready to go.  I didn't finish it that night, but made it three-fourths of the way, and finished it at home that weekend.

I've mentioned before that I seldom do anything that doesn't start with a kit, and the Bigger Apron Strings kits are perfect for such projects.  Supplement from your own stash, if you'd like.  Projects like this can be as quick and easy as you want, or have time for.  I've gone super simple and a tad more involved, and all were done within a couple days.  

You can, too.  Just start with a kit. ;)

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

We Are

The cold has arrived.  It's a toasty 9 degrees at the moment, with light snow.  If I were a skier, and this were the mountains, I'm sure I'd be drooling over the powder covering everything.  But, alas, I'm not and while it's beautiful, it'd be prettier if I was watching it from my front window, not driving in it.

  • The LAST box to empty onto the tree.  It's only taken the better part of a week.
  • These cattails caught my eye while waiting to meet hubby.  The 8 y.o. enjoyed his first encounter with pulling the fluff out, aka smashing them on the ground to watch them burst and blow away.
  • He (the 8 y.o.) made himself some lunch - that would be toast with brown sugar and a Nutella and honey sandwich.  We'll call it a pre-workout carbo load.
  • At least someone noticed
  • Enjoying a new view and a job finished
  • Views from St. Nick's day morning
  • She won't say which she wants more, the bone from neighbors, or the Stranahan's
Happy Wednesday,