Thursday, April 30, 2015

Throw Back Thursday

We have reached the point in Spring where the skies are crystal blue, the foothills are snow free and starting to green-up and the back country peaks are heavily frosted in snow.  I will never tire of that view.

Today, I've managed both really old photos and a really old kit.  The photos are from 2005, of my now 14 y.o.  The Bo Bunny line is from 2009, but I don't remember the name and I can't find even a sheet online to trace back to the name.  It's one of their vintage Christmas looks, which they rotate in every couple of years.  The sketch came from the PageMaps Layout - Week One class I took.

I had already used this kit on other layouts.  The kit was heavy on paper to begin with (it wasn't an Apron Strings kit, which are always just right on paper ;).  The kit didn't have many embellishments to begin with, so there wasn't anything to use on this page, which is pretty obvious given there are basically none.  There are a few rhinestones in the upper left circle - hard to see in the photo.  

If I'd been at home, I'd have pulled from my stash to do some layering.  Shoot, if I'd planned even just a little before leaving for the crop, and glanced through my kit/photo pairs, I might have seen there were only rhinestones in the kit and tossed in a handful of stash items.

As it was, I worked with what I had.  It was, also, my last layout of the night.  This is one where, looking at the photo, I may break my own habit and actually go back and add something else.  It feels and looks unfinished and I don't like that.  Simple, clean - I can work with that, but this doesn't have that feel for me.

Maybe I can snag a few minutes to fluff it up a bit before I call it done.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

We Are

I've got quite the list of things on my calendar for the next several weeks.  This past week I crossed off the Race for Education.  Work on the 14 y.o.'s project continues to move forward towards his deadline next week.  May Crowning is the end of the week, times two kids.  Prom is Saturday.  I'm not thinking about the quickly approaching last day of High School for my 18 y.o.  She's got her number, and I'm in denial and I will probably camp out here through the summer.

  • We are thinking 24 hours before the official kick-off to the weekend is NOT too early to start drinking
  • We are cheering the first runners - the little ones, including the 6 y.o.  He ended up running 3 miles in 50 minutes.
  • We are two soon-to-be-graduates.  He ended up with 3 3/4 miles in 50 minutes.  She reminisced.
  • We are the out-going eighth graders.
Happy Wednesday,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throw Back Thursday

The weather may just hold out for tomorrow's Race for Education - a big fundraiser for the kids' school - the two younger kids, that is.  Because of the Race the kids will have a half day, which may allow me to, if not be crafty, at least clean up the crafty area - because. . .ugh!

I created this layout the last time I got to play with paper.  I used a sketch from PageMaps University's layout class, Week One.  I'm pretty sure I stayed true to the layout.

Since the kit is Studio Calico's LemonLush from the June '14 Smaller than a Breadbox kit, that's hardly a throw-back.  But the photos are.  My currently 18 y.o. daughter is just 7 or 8 here.  Crazy hard to believe 10 years have gone so fast.  

Anyway, the paper line was just perfect for doing this page, love that apple green.  I'm thinking I only have a sheet of cardstock and a full sheet of patterned paper left.  I may have a few wood veneers, but not much else.  Gotta like that!

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

We Are

I'm getting a calm before the storm feeling.  

My 18 y.o. informed me, via Twitter, that today marks exactly 30 days until her graduation.  Which means it's 37 days until my 14 y.o. graduates from his K-8 school.  It means there's 13 days until the giant Ed Fair project is due.  It's nine days until May Crowning - a big deal for the exiting 8th grade, but I also have a first grader who has a speaking part at his own classroom's Crowning - I haven't even looked to see if that's going to be a conflict in times.   Prom is in 10 days.  Field Day for the first grader is coming up, though the date escapes me.  And the big Race for Education is at the end of this week - weather allowing.  And that's just the stuff I remember.

  • We are waiting for the curtain to rise on the 14 y.o.'s play
  • We are impressed with how good he is - he's so natural and calm and super funny!  He's rockin' Lord Zeek
  • We are in Prom-prep mode
  • We are road trippin' to Cheyenne for the afternoon
  • We are so not getting these...ewww.  Who eats these?
Happy Wednesday,

Friday, April 17, 2015

Snow for the Weekend and Food

Man, if this were just straight rain, we'd need an ark.  As it is, only the snow that fell over night (and is now being slowly melted by the rain/sleet/hail) is keeping streets from being outright flooded.  There is still plenty of standing water on the streets and in the low spots of yards.  The 6 y.o. loves driving though the puddles, making the car drive seem more like the log ride at the amusement park.

It's cold though, and it looks like this weather will be with us through the weekend; which is okay by me.

Tonight we have the eighth grader's, long awaited, class play; he and his classmates have already performed twice for the kids in school this week.  As much as he's enjoyed it, I think he's ready to move on to the next thing on his year-end-getting-out-of-here list - the Ed Fair, which is a ginormous project.  I have the plaster covered counters, filled molds, figurines, models and finished plaster pieces stacked in my dining room to prove it.

Strep has, just when I think we're free, found us again.  It's hit up the 16 y.o. for a second time.  We have the appointment this afternoon to see for sure, but I'll be surprised if the test comes back negative.  Happy, but surprised.

Cooking this week was all Pinterest.  If you're looking for something that's been tried (and is generally easy to prepare, and fairly quick to pull together) you can find what we've tried and like on the I Cooked That board (if I had notes, I put them in the description fields.)

By Monday I had not yet planned my menu, thus had not been to the grocer.  I had Chicken and Mozzarella sausages in the freezer and lots of odds and ends leftovers, including an almost full bag of angle hair cabbage.  Enter the Crunchy Poppy Seed Slaw to serve with the sausage.  Outside of the cabbage, I had green apples (subbed in for the red ones) and I had green onions.  I had no ramon noodles, so those were left out.  I had roasted pumpkin seeds, so those when in instead of the cashews.  I had other nuts (almonds, pecans, pine and walnuts) that would have also worked.  I didn't have Poppy Seed Dressing, luckily the recipe came with a link to a homemade version of Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing.  Outside of cutting down a bit on the mayo next time, this was a really good dressing - it makes a quart.  Because I didn't have a full bag of cabbage, I should have cut down on the dressing added, but didn't so my slaw was swimming a bit.  But it was really good, and I'm not typically a slaw fan.  I'd make it again either as written or with my subs again any time.

I eventually made it to the store, but this Spicy Smoked Sausage Alfred Bake was a recipe I could have almost made from my pantry stock as well.  I don't keep pasta on hand, so I needed that.  This was super good - creamy, a bit of garlic, a bit of heat and I use Hillshire Farms Kielbasa (it's on hand in my freezer at any given time and my go-to when sausage is called for.)  We had it on the first night of cold and snow earilier this week and was just the comfort food needed.

I sometimes worry about chicken dishes with sauces in the slow cooker because sometimes the sauces thin out as the juices come out of the meat, leaving a watered down version of the sauce.  That was not the case with this Slow Cooker Hoisin Chicken.  Holy crap this was good.  Sweet, salty, ginger-y.  I had originally intended to put them in wraps (we use Tortilla Fresca flour tortillas, our Costco carries them - they are awesome.  I will never go back to the prepared ones in the store) and top them with slaw, but I used up most of the tortillas on another night - and I wasn't planning on that.  Instead I served it over brown rice.  Totally a make again!

As I said, come Monday, I had no meal plan, and that included dessert.  I looked for something quick and these Banana Squares seemed to fit the ticket, plus I had all the ingredients on hand.  They were good; I topped them with left over Cool Whip.  My only issue, the cook time.  It was way, way too long.  I should have checked them when I could smell the bananas.  I'm sure it has to do with our altitude and, knowing this, I usually adjust all bake times down.  For whatever reason, I didn't do that with these.  I'll make them again and adjust the cooking time.  

My meatless meal came in the form of this One Pan Mexican Quinoa.  I had totally intended to serve it bowl-style.  But I looked at my ravenous family (the recipe said it fed four - and usually this type of dish will serve all six of us just right) and decided I'd give them the option of bowl-style or as a filling to a tortilla.  They all chose tortillas, which is why I was out of them on Hoisin Chicken night.  I, myself, had it bowl-style and it was quite good.  I made this before going to the grocer for the week, and had everything on hand, save the roasted tomatoes.  Looking back I could have subbed in Rotell tomatoes instead of plain diced tomatoes, but live and learn.  It was still good and super quick and filling.  My avocados were a bit over ripe, so I made guacamole (avocados, salt, lime juice and cilantro) and served it in dollops instead.

I've got dinner in the slow cooker, leftovers for the weekend, and things to do while the snow keeps me inside.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Throw Back Thursday

So, yeah, it's snowing.  Big, fat, water-logged flakes are raining down.  My car has been covered in more than two inches of the fluffy stuff since I parked it, a mere two hours ago.

It's a definite contrast to the super sunny, almost summer day represented on the layout below.  I completed this layout a few weeks ago during my crop outing.  I used a sketch from the PageMaps class that I took; I'm pretty sure it was from Week One.  I paired the photos with Echo Park's A Perfect Summer, which was released in 2013.  The photos are the real Throw Back though with a 2006 date on them.  Look at my little monkeys, who are all teenagers now.  *sob*

I wanted something to fill the space above the photo on the left.  I couldn't find anything that worked.  You know, until I deemed the page complete, and then I found a photo that would have been perfect had I had it when I started laying out the page.  Finding it at the end, when I'm done, I couldn't get it to fit - the scale of the whole layout needed to be just a bit bigger - of course.  

I'm debating whether to scan it and shrink it or just be done.  Right now, it's just done and frankly it'll in all likelihood stay this way.  I have a real issue with going back to pages that are incomplete, which is why they get done the night I do them or they stay like this one probably will - finished with good intentions.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We Are

The past few days have been just gorgeous - sunny, warm temps, billowing curtains, fresh air.  Good stuff.  Tomorrow, or rather late tonight, it all reverts back to winter. . .so they say, with upwards of five inches of snow expected on Friday?  Wait, what?  

The good thing is that the roads shouldn't be too affected since we've enjoyed warm weather the past couple weeks.  It's the budding trees that we'll need to watch and probably shake off.

  • We are on book seven of the Outlander series and trying to figure out how to tote around this 6x10", almost two pound book without needing chiropractic help?
  • We are Senior Prom bound.
  • We are not baking until we have the hat, because we're not a baker without it.
  • We are trying to make people feel sorry for us because we had a rare day home alone.
Happy Wednesday,

Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring is Here, and So Is the Food

I was driving yesterday, along a spot I pass at least three times a week.  It's a known and posted Bald Eagle nesting ground; there's at least one pair there.  I look all the time to see if I can spot the huge birds.  I can see their enormous nest, out on the end of the branches.  I look for them every time, and sometimes I think I see a head or two in the nest, but the trees are a couple hundred yards off the road, and I'm traveling at 40 mph, and then you add my getting-poorer-every-year vision and it's hard to say.  I've thought more than once that I need to bring my DSLR and really big zoom with me and pull off to see what I can see, but never remember to grab the things.  Yesterday, though, one of the birds was sitting at the top of the tree - how do those giant birds not even make the branch bend? - and even though he was just a dark shape, it was amazing.
Seeing the Eagle, I looked around at the landscape and realized that Spring has come.  The grasses are beginning to green up, the bulbs while not budded yet (at least in my yard) are taller and almost there, the trees have leafed out, some trees have blossomed and you can catch the sweet vanilla scent of them.  Many changes will be coming for my family with this Spring, and frankly, I'm not quite ready.  But there's little that can be done, so I'll just brace myself and take them one at a time the best I can.
It was a more quiet week for me, cooking-wise, in that I didn't and won't be cooking for my in-laws; my mother-in-law was sick on Monday and we're attending a wedding tonight.  That doesn't mean I don't have recipes for you, though.
I was hosting 26 people for Easter, so I was going with recipes that either, a) didn't require a lot of prep or b) I could set up the day before.  This Oreo Icebox Cake met the "b" requirement and so it went on the menu.  My daughter and I put it together - it's a build-it rather than bake it dessert.  We didn't have enough Oreos, even with two packages, to make three layers in a 9x13; the first of the mad dashes back to the store.  I drizzled the chocolate sauce over it before serving.  I was quite surprised when I cut into it that I could feel the cookies - I expected them to soften, given you dip them in milk before you start layering. Still, it was good - really good. Creamy, airy with that Oreo cookie-thing - though not crunchy like a stand-alone cookie.  As often happens, the kids and I discussed what we might do different and we agreed that we could do it in a 9x9/8x8 pan for just the family.  We will also do just two layers of Double-stuff cookies and use sweetened whipped cream. . .lightly sweetened whipped cream.  We thought a crunchy topping on top might be good - chopped nuts, chopped cookies, toffee bits - but they'd have to go on before serving, especially with whipped cream, as they would likely get a little soggy.
This Creamy Crock-pot Corn got the most raves of the day.  Not to be confused with Creamed Corn (we couldn't get my dad to even look at, despite the classification - he has a whole creamed corn childhood story going on.)  It was really good.  I doubled the "cream" portion of the recipe and added almost 64 ounces of corn; the amount of corn in the actual recipe is a little unclear.  I would probably put up to 32 ounces of corn with the stated cream mixture, much more than that and I'd look at doubling the cream.  The corn still had a crunch to it, even though it had cooked for a couple hours.  I will make this again - would be great with summer foods.
My mother-in-law wasn't feeling well on Easter.  By Monday evening she was doing better, but not quite up to snuff.  So hubby said, "just stay home" and I offered to whip up this 5 Minute Creamy Tomato Soup to send down to them (I included leftover green salad from Easter and a couple rolls.)  It is made cold, and so seasoning it was a bit tricky because I didn't heat it up here.  It seemed a little under-seasoned when I packaged it up, but heating it might have brought out more flavors.  The recipe makes enough for two, or a large single-serving.  Given its ease of prep and serving size, it would be a good one to freeze. 
Our Star-of-the-Show is always ham on Easter.  When I saw Sunny's Apple-Bourbon Ham Glaze on Food Network's The Kitchen, I knew I had my glaze - hello, Bourbon!  I did not use a spiral cut, boneless ham.  I had a bone-in, uncut ham.  I did score the top, cross-hatch-wise, but followed the recipe as stated; I used a thermometer instead of a timer.  It was really good - next time I'll reserve some glaze to serve on the side.  Hubby said it was the most moist ham he'd ever had, so I'll probably use the cooking technique again, regardless of the glaze that's on it.

Easter was supposed to be gorgeous, low 70's and sunny.  So I planned a lighter fare menu and the Pear and Quinoa Salad was just the ticket, with its Asian dressing.  I ended up tripling the recipe - which was too much, doubled would have been fine.  I did some prep on this the day before.  I cooked the quinoa and added the red peppers and dressing and let it chill overnight.  The remaining ingredients I left out until the day of because they have a "slim factor" if left to sit too long.  So a couple hours before we ate I added the pears (which I didn't peel), the green onions and the spinach.  Just before serving I tossed in the bacon and almonds. 

Time to get moving for the day.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pocket- Pages. . .How it's done

I've mentioned before that my Apron Strings kits (or remnants of) are pretty much all I use, whether I'm doing a traditional page or I'm working on Project Life® pages (I used both full pages and pocket pages.)  I've even done mini albums with them for 30 Days of Thankful and December Daily.

Sous Chef Maria Swiatkowski is also a Project Life® participant and she, as far as I've seen, is strictly pocket-pages - which are by far the easiest, no-brainer way to go.  She's even used scraps from kits to create 3x4 cards for future use.  

Here she's created a two-page spread in a 12 x 12 album, using the Gossamer Blue line found in the March '15 Smaller kit.

She simply slid in the photos she had and cut her paper down to fit the empty pockets.  Easy Peasy, which I think should be the slogan for Project Life®.  That or "No Rules."  Not that there are any rules to scrapbooking, but you get it. . .

Now, she's used up the majority of the kit, including cardstock.  She'll have ribbon and the Flair Button left over, but she makes cards, as well so I don't doubt she'll finish up this kit.  

However, if she had wanted to, she could have wrapped the ribbon around one (or more) of the empty blocks, or even a photo where there might be more white space than you'd like.  The Flair Buttons are a little bulkier, taking off the pop dot on the back can take some of the bulk out, but some people may find they don't want that much bulk in their pockets, in which case you "stash" it for another time or make a card.

I'm pretty sure Maria cuts down her own papers and cardstock into 4x6 and 3x4 sizes, then rounds the corners.  We R Memory Keepers makes 3x4 punchs for Project Life® (they sell them separately, too) if you want to make it super fast. 

And there you go - titles, journaling, photos. . .done.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We Are

Funny how the prospect of 25 people in your home will motivate you to clean and de-clutter. . .even if it is only the main level.  It will even get your kids moving, with little grumbling,  helping out.  Funnier still is how this mentality lasts barely 24 hours after the event has finished.  The shoes on the floor, the backpacks dropped wherever, the coats hung on doorknobs, the dishes not quite finding the sink, only now you have Easter Basket Grass, Peep Sugar and Foil Wrappers sprinkled liberally, well, pretty much everywhere.

  • We are coloring eggs
  • We are making our annual hockey egg
  • We are making a plaid for, duh, Outlander.  We won't discuss the sheer frenzy that came about when it was discovered that the first episode after the mid-season break could be watched early, EARLY I tell you, like at 1:00 in the afternoon (instead of at 7:00 pm, when we'd be at the Easter Vigil.)  Oh, the joy!  It was better than Christmas.
  • We are hunting for baskets Easter Morning
  • We are stuffing ourselves with sugar, while wearing new shoes
  • We are hunters (and supporters of the hunters) ready to go
  • We are filling a bag because our basket ia already full.  It's good to be one of three hunters versus 300 eggs.
  • We are a dentist's dream
  • We are missing someone. . .still a good picture though.
Happy Wednesday,