Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We Are

We are home today with a sick kiddo.  I had planned to surprise said kiddo by volunteering for his first hot lunch.  Now, no hot lunch (which he is pretty bummed about) and no surprise.  I'll just move the surprise to next week, which was my next scheduled day.  The plus side is I have a big list of things to do, that should have been done, oh, Monday, that I'm doing my best to make in-roads on today.

  • We are looking at a BIG goal for the new Scout in popcorn sales so he can get walkie talkies.  Crap.
  • We are super excited to have found one!  They were sold out online and not to be found in two of the Wal-Marts near me.  It was tough to leave one on the shelf - such a sucker for Bassets, alive or ceramic.
  • We are She is being reminded what it's all about.
  • We are thinking it's time to educate him, or have his brothers bring him, into the world of Star Wars.
  • We are beyond excited to be a Scout, we couldn't wait until getting home to pull on the uniform.  He started putting it on in the car, and proceeded to wear it on errands - tags and all.
  • We are gettin' seriously upset with the play of the home team - this is our "pull it together" face.  Unfortunately, they lost.
  • We are picking up the spare at a friend's birthday party
  • We are attending our first home college football game; unfortunately they didn't pull out a win either.
  • We are out of town for business meetings and this is the ball he gets to play with as part of the group outting.
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Try it on Tuesday

Apparently Fall will be settling in this coming weekend (and I can't wait), but it's not doing to bad today either, with temps only in the low 70's.  The 7 y.o. tested the air by blowing and not seeing his breath, declared it's not Fall yet.

I'm ready for it though - bring on the cooler temps, falling leaves, pumpkin patches, comfort cooking and sweaters.  Which is why today's inspiration has a tinge of Fall color, and the flowers feel "mum-ish" to me, too.  I love mums, which reminds me I need some for the porch.

I love these colors; so rich, so warm.  They almost say, "Go get your sweater."

You'll find this rich color scheme in the Echo Park Made from Scratch line (left) found in the November Bigger kit.

Not far from the Fall-vibe, is the October Afternoon Daily Flash Milk Money line (top) from the September Bigger.

Switching gears just a smidge and you get the Simple Stories Hey Pop! (top) line from the June Smaller  kit.

The color scheme may say sweater-season, but it can come off more generic too, like the Simple Stories Daily Grind line from the January Smaller.

That's a lot of Apron Strings kits to choose from that you could have in your stash.  I myself may have a couple, but if you don't then sort through your papers looking for the color scheme there.  Pick up buttons, brads, velvet ribbons and florals to pair with your papers.

Remember to take some cues from the photo, as well.  The flowers are not only layered, think layering your papers and/or embellishments, but they are also curling and pointed.  Look to distress the edges of your papers, or crumple a tag.  Look to repeat those pointed ends with pennants or other triangle shapes.  There's an ombre look to the orange flower, so mist or use an ink pad to add some shadows to your embellishments or the ends of your papers.

Now, wrap it all up with a PageMaps sketch.  This one is an 8.5 x 11", but it's simple enough to widen it to fit 12x12.  You've got pennants/triangles.  You can increase the layering, by making the subtitle block a little bigger to go under the photos.  Add a larger floral where the flag is on the right side.  Create a two-pager by mirroring the design, but instead of a subtitle block, add more photos.

Even if Summer hasn't loosened its grip where you are, go play like it has.

Happy Tuesday,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Food for the Weekend

Friday, my normal post-the-food-day, just seemed to slip away.  A trip up to see the Girlie, and a stop at the Scout Shop to outfit the 7 y.o. in Boy Scout gear, was enough to get me home in time to start cooking for the evening meal with In-Laws, plus three.

If you're looking for snacks or meals for your menu that gives you food to feed your group and time to feed your creative soul, check out this week's recipes.

Angel Food Cake intimidates me, in much the same way homemade pie crust does.  I have one Angel Food recipe that I've done with success; it's the only one I've tried.  The intimidation factor on that one goes way down because it's baked in a loaf pan. However, boy #2, my usual stack-of-donuts-for-his-birthday-cake boy, decided he'd like to have Angel Food cake . . . duh-duh-dunnnn.  So, I pulled on my big girl pants apron, grabbed this Heavenly Angel Food Cake recipe and baked it up the night before the party in case it totally flopped and I would need to go to Plan B.  Turns out, it turned out great!  The hardest part, besides finding something to do with the 10 egg yolks, was finding a two-piece tube pan.  It was very light and I loved the almond flavor.  Boy #3 loves brownies, so we opted for this Chocolate Sheet Cake for him.  I've made it several times before and it's rich, chocolaty and perfect, every time.

I could probably eat Mexican food several times a week, if you let me.  When I found this Chile Colorado Burritos recipe, it was pinned immediately, but it quickly fell to the bottom of the board.  I rediscovered it a couple weeks ago and added it to my menu.  I opted to cook the meat up the day before.  I didn't shred the meat when I stored it because I knew I'd need the sauce; though I could have made an additional batch to top them off.  I also added cheese to the inside of the burritos and chose to do them all in a pan, instead of individually.  I used Monterrey Jack because it's what I had, but cheddar would have been a the choice, the sharper the better.  I used the Enchilada Sauce from the Chicken Pasta (below.)  The left over meat works great on nachos the next day.  

When hubby went out to visit his brother in Kansas, he came home with Acorn Squash from his brother's garden (they are on my list of starters for next year's garden) and I knew that I'd make Sausage-Stuff Acorn Squash.  It's a super simple, done in the microwave recipe.  Even my kids will eat this one; the cheddar I top them with helps that along.  I use my favorite bulk breakfast sausage, but a Sweet Italian sausage would be good, or go for spicy with Chorizo.  

It's still more summer than fall here.  Temps are still high, but my mouth is looking for comfort food.  Chicken Enchilada Pasta was a nice compromise - comfort food without heating the kitchen unbearably.  I used the Enchilada Sauce link with this recipe for this recipe and for the Colorado Burritos (above.)  I liked the flavor, it was filling and it was fast, but, for us, I felt like it needed a little more.  I liked the sliced chicken breast, but I think I'd like shredded; it distribute better.  Then maybe topped with chopped tomatoes, or mix in some black beans and corn.  I also forgot to taste and adjust the salt before serving.  I didn't serve it with anything, but corn muffins or cheddar  biscuits would be good. 

I pinned these Dark Chocolate and Cherry Granola Bars because they had cherries - my favorite.  I made them for the Girlie's care package.  They were really easy to pull together, basically just dump it all, mix and bake.  When I was pulling it together I thought the 2 tablespoons of cinnamon sounded like a lot, and for me, it was.  Doing 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract would  have upped the cherry flavor.  It also mixed up pretty thin (I used the applesauce option.)  I've learned when you can smell your dessert you should check it, and with 10 minutes left to go, I pulled them out.  They are very, very soft.  I don't know if that's because they needed 10 more minutes (which would have given me over-done bars) or what.  The photos on the post don't lead me to think this is what they should be like.  I have plenty of other bar recipes to try, plus ones I've done that I can alter to include cherries and dark chocolate (because I liked that), so I deleted the pin.

Sometimes I just need simple, and these Chicken Salad Bacon Lettuce Wraps fit that bill.  The recipe calls for an entire rotisserie chicken.  I didn't need that much salad, so I used 4 1/2 cups of my freezer stash (I chop and portion out, in two cup measures, a rotisserie chicken) but didn't alter the onions or celery amounts.  I liked food processing the onion and celery, though I do like the chunks of it, my family gets distracted by it.  I chose to use tortillas (we use the raw ones from Costco.) . The salad is good.  Creamy.  It makes a good snack/appetizer with saltines.

Study snacks for Girlie means trying Apple Pie Muddy Buddies.  I, again, used Quaker Oat Squares instead of the Chex.  I don't think I missed anything not using the cinnamon flavored cereal.  There isn't an actual apple flavor, so it should be called Apple Pie Spiced, but you could toss in dried apple chunks and it would be awesome.

More college-bound snacks.  This Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Granola is for her morning eating.  I liked it because it was baked, and so it stayed chunky so you could just eat it straight.  It was peanutty enough.  It was still kinda chewy at 15 minutes and maybe could have used the additional five minutes to get a little more crunch.  It had good flavor and I'll make a batch for those of us still at home.

Hubby wanted to grill something, so Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes made it to the menu.  The marinade had great balsamic flavor.  The sauce was just the touch of fresh basil and vinegar.  It would be a good sauce recipe to use my garden-frozen tomatoes during the winter.  I didn't do the grilled tomatoes to go with it, but if I'd thought of it would have just done sliced with salt and pepper.

I needed dessert for In-Law + three night, but didn't feel like running to the store for anything.  Everything I was thinking of needed more than the two eggs I had left.  I turned to looking for an egg-less peach cobbler when I happened upon this White Texas Sheet Cake in one of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.  I looked for Gooseberry's pin, but couldn't find one.  This pin, however, is the identical recipe.  It was amazing!  Super moist.  Great almond flavor, which if it's not your thing, sub in vanilla.  I could finish the pan by myself and with hubby heading out of town on business, I just might.

Happy Saturday,

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throw Back Motivation

While I'm pretty productive these days in certain areas - getting into the organizing of my house, staying on top of problem areas, menu planning, even writing notes for next year's garden (what the???  I know!)  However, there are definitely areas in need of some work, like oh, getting on the blog (hence today's title, a nice mash up of Throw Back Thursday and Motivation Monday) or doing my own crafting.  

I have a pile of things set aside for the Girlie's next care package, but would like to pull together one more thing.  With luck, or an empty house, which is highly unlikely to happen, I might accomplish the project I have in my head.  Otherwise, it'll be up to the god of crafting to help me take the time.

If like me you need a little motivation, you're in the right place.  Start with something inspiring, for me it's a color pallet.  I love this one.  It's sort of the scene outside my windows.  Colorado blue skies and varying shades of green and going-to-gold leaves.  It's bright and fresh, yet seasonal.

It definitely speaks the fall language with its paling greens and heathered blues.  The September Smaller kit, from back in 2010 (I'm sure I don't have pieces of this kit left - cough, cough) uses this color scheme and the designers showcased outdoor photos with the My Mind's Eye Quite Contrary Little Boy Blue as their backdrop.  The colors actually become quite a nice neutral.

Think that's it?  Just Fall?  Heck no.  Those brighter lime-greens would support Spring time activities as well.  They would be fantastic with winter activities, too.  In fact, the colors are also found in the Smaller December kit (top pack) in the Little Yellow Bicycle Making Merry line.

So, now it's your turn.  Find your inspiration and get going.  Me?  I'm going to load up my Silhouette and see if I can't get some pieces cut out for that project.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

We Are

We are recovering.  From plan changes.  From parties.  From cake.  From colds.  Things are getting back on track.  Slowly, but they are getting there.  

I did manage to clear out the kitchen desk from the Big To-Do list.  The top needs clearing, but it's one of those horizontal spaces that will just never be empty.  Ever.  Even the basement is holding its own after I tackled it on Saturday.  There was no way I was heading into a big family gathering with it looking like that.

  • We are, and have been, so excited for our birthday.  EXCITED.
  • We are allowed to stay up late on a school night to finish this Lego set.  
  • We are super proud to have built this set all by himself.
  • We are treating myself on my birthday with the first PSL of the season.
  • We are on-ice, where her heart and soul always rights itself.  Her roommates have no idea what they are in for.
  • We are baking up birthday celebrant-specific treats.  My first tube-pan-style angel food cake.  Looks pretty good.  Tasted even better.  See Friday's post.
  • We are baking up a chocolate sheet cake request.  Always delish.
  • We are rolling in Legos
  • We are celebrating
  • We are enjoying this as a back-drop for our drive time this week.  The second soundtrack volume comes out in two days, not that I'm counting.  I need to go get myself the first half on BluRay (since it was not gifted to me, I held off getting it until after birthdays) because the second half comes out in a week or so.  I may need professional help.
  • We are documenting roommate wars.  First strike.
  • We are upping the ante on roommate wars.  Paybacks will be hell after this retaliation.
  • We are not traditional cake people.  We learned years ago, that for this one, a tower of donuts (his favorite dessert) was the ticket.
  • We are giving him his fake ID - shout out to his sister for her forgery skills.  The fake one notified him of his enrollment in driver's ed, which will lead him to his real license.
Happy Wednesday,

Friday, September 18, 2015

Food on Friday

We are two birthdays down, in our three birthdays in six days extravaganza.  We'll celebrate all three this weekend.

My cold threw off, well, pretty much everything this week; cleaning, laundry, cooking.  I did get some unexpected help with my Big To-Do list (aka purging, reorganizing the house) when hubby cleared everything out of the laundry room.  Every.  Thing.  

The dryer has been making this horrid screeching.  I knew he'd be itching to fix it when all the parts have arrived.  I had planned to methodically go through and get things sorted and cleared out today.  But, he got a wild hair, while I was gone, yesterday and plowed through it like a hurricane.  Luckily, he called to warn me what he'd done,because I had stuff everywhere - the machines were in the garage, there were bottles lining the back hall, all the games, clothes and, well, crap that was stacked on the dryer was dumped on my couches.  

But. . .he dealt with the room.  He picked up all the socks, gloves, poker chips and lint that seems to have collected behind the machines.  He scrubbed the floors.  He not only fixed the dryer, but scrubbed the machines down.  Now, I have a sparkling laundry room.  It's purged and organized.  I pass it and just pause and sigh.  And thank him, whether he's around or not.  I have just the shelves above the machines to purge - which is some cleaning stuff, games and my PartyLite collections, so it should be easy to deal with.  After doing my Monday cleaning today, I'm hoping to have enough time to just finish that space and cross it off my list.

As I said, being sick messed with my cooking for the week, though I had a menu, which will now move to next week.  Monday we ate out because I didn't have the energy.  Tuesday was by far the worst day, but I peeled myself up long enough to reheat leftovers.  Wednesday was birthday #1, so it was birthday boy's choice.  Thursday was my birthday and we headed out during the overhaul of the laundry room to satisfy a craving I've had for Chicken Fried Steak.  Tonight, we'll get back on track with our standing In-Law Dinner, so I need a dessert.

I do have two things from last week to share, so if you're looking for a good meal that's quick and allows you back to your creative pursuits, you're good.  You can find other recipes I've tried on the I Cooked That board.


I was looking for something I could toss together on a day when we headed up to fetch the Girle home.  This Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken fit the bill because I could cook it in the slow cooker while I was home in the morning and then keep it warm while we were gone.  All I needed to do was cook the rice when we got home.  It was easy and it was good.  My only change would be to substitute in chicken thighs, which hold up much better in the slow cooker.

I had blueberries on the brink and this Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake helped me use them up.  I don't keep buttermilk on hand, so when I need it I usually have more leftover than I can use up before it spoils.  However, buttermilk freezes great!  So, I use what I need, do my best to find recipes to use more, and then freeze quarter-cup measures.  I use a silicone muffin tin to freeze them and once frozen I pop them out and toss them in a zip bag.  This cake was really good.  That sprinkle of sugar on top, gave a light crunch to a very moist cake.

This weekend is supposed to be a cool and lovely.  I've got my cleaning today.  I'm hoping to brave the pit the basement has become before the party on Sunday.  Sunday's party.  And I think that's enough.  We'll see if I have the energy to finish what's on my list for just today.

Happy Friday,