Friday, October 30, 2015

Food on Friday

We have a couple pumpkins to carve.  A Where's Waldo shirt to stripe up.  A dinner to cook.  A couple loaves of banana bread to bake to use up the past-their-prime bananas.  Some family friends in town to say hello to.  And a morphing Sunday afternoon.

The last couple of weeks I've been trying to cook my way through my over-stuffed freezer.  My goal was to not purchase any meat, but to use what I have on hand.  So far so good, though it doesn't look like I've made much of a dent.  My left-over-filled refrigerator (and an "I'm done" run to Taco Bell) had me shuffle a couple recipes off this week, onto next, which is just one of the beauties of planning a menu.  If you're looking for a meal for the weekend, or to plan next week, look no further.

One thing I had too much of was chicken, so Romano Chicken Supreme was a good way to use some up.  I opted to use boneless-skinless thighs which I like better; more flavor, more moist.  The mushrooms never made it into the dish, but otherwise I cooked as listed.  It was really good.  Moist, tender, good flavor.

I have Butternut Squash on my list for the garden next year.  I've only cooked with the frozen puree, and though it best to recipe test it before planting it.  I liked the sound of this Maple Butternut Squash, plus I stink at preparing side dishes.  The only thing I didn't have on hand was cardamon (I know I had some, but I think it got tossed in the Great Seasoning Clean-out.)  This would be a good Thanksgiving side, but it's easy enough to do on a weeknight.

I was shuffling things around in the freezer and found I had a way more tortellini than one needs, even with keeping it as a staple.  Enter Creamy Tomato Tortellini with Sausage.  I opted to use the Smoke Kielbasa I also keep on hand, but it would be good with Italian, too.  It was warm, creamy and comforting.  If you have leftovers, reheat with a touch of milk, the sauce will thicken.  Actually, if you like it a little saucy, add a splash to the pan as well. 

I've had pumpkins on my garden list for, well, ever.  I took the same approach with pumpkins as with the squash, if I'm going to grow them, I better try my hand at them.  In this case, Roasting Pumpkin, to make and freeze my own puree.  I picked up a Pie Pumpkin at the store and it's cooling now.  It'll be interesting to see how the taste varies and how much I get for the $2.99 I paid for it.

We have officially entered Hot Drink territory for my 16 y.o. son, though I don't mind a hot mug in the evenings, either.  His drink of choice is generally hot chocolate.  I've got a few mix recipes pinned.  We've tried and loved this Polar Express version, but today it's this Hot Chocolate Mix, which has white chocolate chips in it.  He's home sick with strep today, so I'm hoping I can get him to give it a try later.

I have to say I'm enjoying mixing up creamers with milk/cream instead of sweetened condensed milk.  I mixed up this Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer this morning.  Super fast, super easy and I can convince myself that the pumpkin in it makes it healthy.  Plus it's quite tasty.

A lot of down time this weekend, with a little chaos mixed in tomorrow night (getting home from Mass before the trick-or-treaters hit, plus we have to get our own little Storm Trooper out.)

Happy Friday.

Croptober - Day Ten

So, I made the mistake of typing "Autumn Decor" into the Pinterest search and. . .yeah, way too much eye candy for one who L.O.V.E.S. fall.  Talk about falling down the rabbit hole, so many great ideas and colors, so short a season.  

I saw the above photo first off, but kept scrolling in my autumn-fever.  I did finally force myself to look away and focus on what I was there for. . .find inspiration for paper creations, not how to decoupage fallen leaves on to a mason jar, or 25 ways to decorate a pumpkin without carving it, or knitting something cozy for the couch.  I followed the link to the Sugar Pie Farmhouse blog.

Croptober's final challenge involves this picture.  Halloween is certainly not the end of fall - there's all of November.  In my house I pull off the spiders, glittery "Boo's" and witches shoes that are all about Halloween and leave behind the pumpkins and leaves that just move my home into November.  This photo makes me think I need more galvanized steel in my decor, but I digress.  As much as the photo inspires my home decor (which I could totally incorporate paper creations into), it also reminds me how much I love fall activities and documenting them.

There's the obvious inspiration - the pumpkins - papers, embellishments or even a chipboard mini album.  They are round so I think buttons and brads.  But it could also remind me to incorporate round into my layout or card.  The metal bucket might remind me I have a jar full of metal embellishments - clips, tiny plaques, pins, gears, flair, etc.  The branches make me think of several lines found in kits that have tree/leave/branch graphics and to go find them.  But it could also point me towards my smaller stash of wooden pieces - journaling cards, clothes pins, buttons, arrows, hearts, etc.  I love the old lantern in the back - the light makes me think rhinestones and pearls.  There's the stone chimney and wooden mantel to think about, too.  Then the overall warm colors of: pumpkin, steel grey, chestnut and cream.

So much to think about to inspire my next paper project, be it layout, card or something for the house.

If you feel inclined to share a link to your creation, please do so in the comments.  Inspiration is always welcome.

Go.  Create.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Croptober - Day Nine

Sometimes it's colors that inspire me.  Since I start with the photos, it's the colors in the photos that drive my kit selection.  I have a whole board full of color pallets, because I don't always remember my color theory (if you don't either check out the series starting HERE.)

Today, sift through your stash looking for this color pallet.  Look for patterned papers containing the colors.  Try creating a layout or card strictly from cardstock in these colors.  Or, as with other challenges using these pallets, draw inspiration from the accompanying photo - look for paper with leaves, or leaf embellishments (buttons, chipboard, velvet, paper.)  Find paper with pumpkins and apples.  Go for pumpkin or apple embellishments either the actual shapes or the colors.  The mug of cider could remind you of epoxy embellishments or to use your diamond dust or mists.  The wooden bowl can point you towards wooden buttons, cards or clothes pins.  Even the raw linen towel could point you towards burlap flowers or leaves, remind you to distress your papers, edges or a journaling card.  

All that great color and texture. . .from a simple color pallet.

If you feel inclined to share a link to your creation, please do so in the comments.  Inspiration is always welcome.

Go.  Create.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Croptober - Day Eight

If you didn't want to delve into the black hole that is Pinterest, these Croptober challenges are not helping.  And today will be another fail in staying away from Pin Boards, because that's where this cute card comes from, and leads to the Simply Stamped blog.  I must say, the key on Pinterest, is to go in knowing what you're looking for.  Scrolling through your feed, well, you're done for before you start, but searching for something specific and you're much better off.

Like these little guys.  My search was simply "Halloween Card" and I wanted something simple, so I scrolled quickly until something caught my eye.

Turn this simple card into a card yourself, or a layout equally simple.  Or frankly, how cute would bigger spiders with pipe cleaner (sorry I'm a child of the 70's) or chenille stick legs be, hanging from your window, door, mantel or mirror?

Dangle these guys from the top of your layout and/or down the sides.  Add more and dance them off along the bottom of your page.  Take them off their strands and plop them around your layout.  Use them as a substitute for the letter "O" in your title.  Make bigger ones to insert into a pocket - make it interesting and trim them to fit.  Remember that card from Day Three, put this trio in the pumpkin's places.  If that fails, there's always the colors of Pumpkin, Fuchsia and Spinach to mess around with

Go.  Create.

We Are

What a difference a week makes.  A week with little going on. . .or rather, little that seems worthy of photographing.  Well, at least not here at home, it was quite a hopping week for my daughter.

I've also discovered my 17 y.o does know he has a camera on that iPhone of his, and he knows how to use it.  On Snapchat.  Boom, now mama's following him and screen-shooting his pics - though I'm sure there's some other way of saving them, but this works.  He doesn't post often, but it's a start!

  • We They are quite annoyed and now having to play Sherlock to find the Candy Bowl Snatcher.
  • We They are happy to have had the bowl returned, along with a pumpkin as some form of restitution.  Word on the floor is they are pretty sure they know who filched the bowl, but are letting it go, since it was returned.  (My daughter's production of graphics and signs makes me wonder how much down time she has and whether it would be better spent studying.  That or my Girlie needs to get out more.)
  • We are sending a big care package up to the Girlie, via hubby when he makes a trip north, to Cheyenne.  (Her photo, because I didn't think to snap a pic before sending it off.)
  • We are sending up some supplies for creating recipes I found that can be made in the microwave, mostly via a mug (gotta love that.)  Who knew that would be such a challenge, though?  I can give her all kinds of recipes on the cheap, but I'm limited because she has limited freezer/'fridge/storage space.  Now it becomes crazy hard.  I will not stop though, I will find more!!
  • We are enjoying Illegal Burger (and their totally amazing fries!) Plus they put WikiSticks in their kids meals.
  • We are getting out for a walk on a beautiful fall afternoon.  It also confirms that there are some family-tradition things that are just as hard as I thought they'd be without her.
  • We aren't having the Pumpkin Patch experience I wanted, or that we normally do, but it was a nice walk to the store bins and back home.
  • We have proof of two things - we got the right costume for the 7 y.o., since he can't leave it alone and that the 17 y.o. does take photos!  
Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Croptober - Day Seven

You can find inspiration anywhere.  Everywhere.  You just have to train yourself to look and then take it apart.

Like this picture, showcasing a fun Halloween sign for your yard, found on Pinterest from Real Housemom's blog.  But could you hang it on your door?  Or on your wall?  Or in your windows?  Totally, you may need to think about the base material, it's wooden planks, but you can go light-weight wood, poster board or even paper.  Paint it, letter it and boom, inspiration leads you to someplace else.

What else?  You could recreate the signs (note their different shapes) for your layout, a card or even tag on treat bags.  Use scraps of patterned paper (small designs) and stickers or black pen.  If you've got a paper cutting system you could go to town.

What else?  Let the colors lead you to your paper choices.  The black and purple stripes could have you digging through your ribbon stash to border your page or card, or maybe tie off those treat bags.  The pumpkins are easy - pumpkin motif on papers, pumpkin brads, orange buttons or brads.

Anything else?  The lettering on the signs makes me think of changing up the font in my title, sub-title (if I've got one) and journaling.  Use a readable font when doing journaling, but replacing one word or two in my journaing with a different (yet readable at a smaller scale) font can be fun.

I didn't even touch the flowers and plants.  What can you find in this photo for inspiration in creating today?  That's your challenge.

If you feel inclined to share a link to your creation, please do so in the comments.  Inspiration is always welcome.

Go.  Create.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Croptober - Day Six

Apron Strings kits, the Smaller one in particular, are great for pocket pages (aka Project Life®.)  It's super easy to cut down paper to either back your photos, fill in space next to photos or fill empty blocks.  Plus pocket-pages weave in with traditional pages really well.

They can also provide inspiration.  Take this one found on Pinterest, that led me to Kerri Bradford Studio's blog (she has other pockets on this post you can check out.)  

Today, you'll use this pocket page to prompt your creation.  Use the colors.  Use the theme.  Let it be your reminder to dig out that diecut overlay you have (here, it's the spider web.)  As a reminder to make a banner.  As a note-to-self that properly placed embellishments can hide distracting objects in photos - i.e. a photo bomb, a weird body part left over from cropping a photo, a sign, etc. (the bat in the center-right photo, the flag banner on the bottom photo.)  That simple embellishment is powerful - adding mini brads to points between banners on the "Let's Party" card; over a spider on the upper left journaling card, the hand-cut stars and spider placed on the spider web.  Shoot, even the layout, go grid-style on a traditional page, filling in photos and patterned paper where it works best for your page.

If you feel inclined to share a link to your creation, please do so in the comments.  Inspiration is always welcome.

Go. Create.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Food on Friday

It was a mostly cold and rainy week, and fairly low-key schedule-wise for us.  I was expecting that hubby would be out of town on a hunting trip, but some plans were changed and now he'll be home for the weekend.  The weather is supposed to improve, so I'm hoping to get a couple things on my outdoor list done completed, one of which is getting pumpkins.  At this point, I don't care if we pick them out of the patch or pluck them out of the bin.

When planning the week's menu, it's nice to know the weather (comfort food or grill), along with your weeknight schedule.  But if you're winging it, here are a few things I've cooked this past week.  If you're looking for more tried and tasted options, you can check out this Pinterest Board.

I had found a bunch of  Coffee Creamers recipes that didn't require sweetened condensed milk (which can be as expensive as the fake-stuff creamers I'm trying to wean myself off of) and tried the French Vanilla version.  It's nice because it makes just two cups since I'm the only one who uses creamer.  It's not as vanilla-y as I was hoping.  I used half-and-half, but that shouldn't affect the flavor.  Still, there are several other versions to try, plus I wasn't a great recipe-follower.  Note-to-self, read BEFORE just throwing everything together.

I said it was cooler this week so Hearty Beef and Sweet Potato Stew sounded good.  I had never had parsnips or turnips, so it was a fun to cook with something new.  My pet-peeve over cuts of beef, or rather their names came up when I couldn't find Beef Chuck Steak, but we had Beef Chuck Pot Roast, which looks a lot like a steak, so that's what I used.  I knew, at least, that Pot Roast was a good thing for long simmering.  It was warm, hearty and flavorful.  The parsnips, if you've not had them have a sort of earthy-spice to them; even my kids ate them.  My only change would be to cut my sweet potatoes bigger.  The parsnips and turnips were well cooked, where as the sweet potatoes were very soft - not bad, just soft.  

I served this Easy Homemade Chunky Apple Sauce with the above stew.  It was really good.  Just the right amount of sweetness and I loved the almond extract in it.  Plus it was super fast, which will make it a perfect anytime-side.

The last couple times the Girlie was home, she came home on Saturday and left by Sunday afternoon, which didn't give me time to cook for her.  She was running her half marathon this time, so I knew she was carb-loading, which is why I made these Pumpkin Donuts.  They count, right?  I mean pumpkin is good for you.  I have one of those little donut makers and so baked donuts are a piece of cake - hahahahaha - and these were delicious!  Moist, Pumpkin Spicy.  Perfect.  Just drop the hot donuts into the sugar right away, or it won't stick.

Cornbread is one of those easy to make, goes with a lot of things sides.  But it can be tricky to find a version that works for you.  Some are sweet  Some not so much.  Some are drier.  Some are moist, or as moist as cornbread can be.  Well, I can stop my searching because this Everyday Cornbread was awesome!  It's on the slightly sweet side and is nice and moist.  I did reduce my cook time to 15 minutes - for baked goods I usually go five minutes under the lowest time to be sure I don't over-bake something, since we're at altitude.  I served it with chili and had a couple slices left over and it even stored well; sometimes it doesn't keep, it just dries out.  The blogger has a sweet potato version I can't wait to try.

I have been trying to work this Caramel Apple Strata into the menu for a couple weeks.  It was, eh, it was okay.  I may try a couple things.  First, I didn't let it sit overnight, but since I was making it for dessert at night, I made it up early in the morning and figured by the time I baked it, it was like sitting overnight.  Second, the top got way too brown - I'd cover it either at the start and take it off to finish the browning, or start out uncovered and cover it later to keep it from over-browning.  Third, the two layers didn't really "meld," which might be because the top layer was too toasted.  I'll try it again to fix the over-browning and if I still have the issue, I'll cube the bread.  Finally, the caramel sauce.  Though I followed the directions, it was more a caramel candy block than a sauce, so I'll either cook it by sight (looking for it to thicken regardless of the timer), use another sauce I know works, or go jarred.  It was good enough to give it another try.

Some nights you just want easy, so Chicken Pesto Sandwiches it was.  And they were easy.  And they were good, lots of flavors fresh flavors working well together.  The hardest part was finding Italian bread that was sandwiched sized.  Hubby ended up finding some roasted garlic Parmesan cheese bread, which sounded good, so I went with that.  I also didn't have the pesto I thought I had, but I had a bunch of fresh basil in the garden that was about to freeze its leaves off, so homemade it was.  These were really good, I think even more so because of the bread, but plain, buttered and toasted bread would work well, too.  They would be great with tomato soup later this winter.

Other than In-Law Dinner tonight, I have no set plans.  Wonder what I'll end up doing?

Happy Friday,

Croptober - Day Five

Simple is good.  Simple is not spending time over-thinking things.  Simple is done.  And that's what today's layout is all about.  Simple, but with impact.

This layout comes from, of course, Pinterest, but linked from Creative Cucina's blog, a digital scrapbooker.  I mean, seriously, break this layout down and it's four photos, two large circles, the title and the journaling.  It's a paper hoarder's dream.  

I love that she used a patterned paper for the back, so often I gravitate toward cardstock.  The pattern works because she mounted her colorful, activity-filled photos on the mostly solid orange circles; they have a small monochrome pattern.  There are no embellishments, but you could certainly add them if you'd like.  Even the title, make the circles into banners, triangles or squares, you choose and go for it.  Whole layout could be done in under an hour.  30 minutes maybe.

If you feel inclined to share your work as inspiration for others, leave a link to your work in the comment section.

Go.  Create.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Croptober - Day Four

I followed my fingers to Corri Garza's blog after finding this Banner on Pinterest.

Banners aren't just for hanging in your home, though they are super cute.  They offer great inspiration. They can be a tutorial if you struggle in the grouping/layering department - whether on your pages or your cards.  Take a close look at the banner on this frame - the frame itself it adorable and an off-the-door (or wall) alternative to a traditional wreath.  There are buttons, cobwebs and bats.  Two of the banners are matted on black.  The banners are all different shapes.

Use this banner as your inspiration for today.  Mix papers.  Use twine.  Layer.  Love on the colors.  Shoot, try making your own rosettes - those sweet (maybe time consuming) folded circles (look in YouTube or Pinterst for tutorials.)

If you feel inclined to share your work as inspiration for others, leave a link to your work in the comment section.

Go.  Create.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Croptober - Day Three

Another day, another Pinterest search.  Today I found this super cute card and followed the link to the Poppy Paperie blog.  

This is your inspiration today.  I'm a big fan of Kraft.  It's awesome on its own, but it's also my go-to choice when black is too dark and white is too stark.  And I love those little pumpkins peeking out.  

You can copy the card exactly, change up the colors, stamp and sentiment for a different take - like birthday cake or balloons, baby paraphernalia, Easter themed, etc.  You can also use the card to jump off to create a layout.  Use that pumpkin strip down the side of your layout, or across the bottom.  Use stickers, diecuts, even patterned paper or photos, or a mix, in the strip.  Shoot, you could use the strip, larger (much larger) and create individual blocks, notch the bottoms and create a banner for your door, window or mantle.

If you feel inclined to share your work as inspiration for others, leave a link to your work in the comment section.

Go. Create.

We Are

Well, Fall came flying in today.  Highs only in the 50's, with rain all day.  Can I get a, "Right ON!"   It's lovely.

The good thing about a busy weekend, lots of fun things to take pictures of:  A Move, A Picnic, A Party, A Race and A Rocket.

  • We are thinking her dorm room bares are striking resemblance to her room at home - though she doesn't seem to see it that way.
  • We are loving this view is in our own front yard, literally.
  • We are showing Papa the ropes of playing Battleship.
  • We are She is ready.  Sort of.  Maybe.
  • We are rollin'. (already ejected the 17 y.o.)
  • We are finding too much hilarity in someone else's terror.  We all were, he did not want to be on there.
  • We are finding there's physics involved if you want to attain maximum spin
  • We are not allowed to say the words "Tilt-a-Whirl" anymore, or even hint at riding anything like it, for the rest of the day.  Therefore. . .
  • . . .We are riding a Banana
  • We are taking a lot of convincing to get in the Paddle Boat Swan, given we are not over the trauma recently experienced.
  • We are surprised this was their only ride on the zip line.  Maybe it was the "landing."  Or maybe it was the harnesses.  Both?
  • We are not so much rule-followers when playing mini golf.
  • We are forcing him to ride, which will negate our chances of winning parents of the year.  Tears before the ride even starts, turn to happy smiles when he realizes, "Hey, this is fun."
  • We happily pick several other rides more his style.  No thrill seeker, he.
  • We are waiting in the only line we had all afternoon
  • We are told afterwards, that the 7 y.o. white knuckled the ride, but smiled through it.
  • We are thinking maybe "no" on the 15 y.o. getting his permit.  He seems far to comfortable at racing - he was pretty good.
  • We are only up in the pre-dawn hours on Sunday morning for one reason - to cheer for a child
  • We are She is on her mark.
  • We are She is DONE!  Personal best time.
  • We are so proud.  
  • We are finally launching.
  • We are spending a lot of time with our eyes to the sky - luckily it was a gorgeous, no-wind, afternoon.
  • We are part of the Color Guard on Monday morning and "excited" doesn't cover it.
  • We are wondering why there was no one there to remind me, when I was buying 85 bulbs, how much I hate gardening.
  • We are ignoring the fact that we were told to "Rake them."
Happy Wednesday,