Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Stash Busting

I love doilies, but really have no idea why - maybe because they're just dainty and pretty.  And now they come in more than just white (or gold)!  Though they are still, mostly round, there are smaller sizes, too.  And, like most, I hate to say, nontraditional items in my stash, I either don't use them, or don't have a unique take for them.  Doilies are no different.  I did a quick "doily scrapbook" search on Pinterest, and a Google search for Doodlebug Doilies (because they make the colored variety,) and found some fun ideas.

This layout has instructions in the link - and uses doilies that wer halved.  So gather up all those sitting in a nice lacy stack and get to work.  If you use white doilies, you could ink the edges to help them stand out on the layers.

Okay, this little lamb doily is way too cute.  I know she's on a card, but she could totally move her grove to a baby layout for a boy or a girl.  

I have to say, I would never have thought of using punches on a doily.  But I saw these butterflies, which aren't punched through a doily (I originally thought they were), but thought they could be, to get a pretty effect.  Simple shapes would probably work best, because more intricate punches could catch on the edges of a doily.

Now, you could totally create a banner, heaven knows the Apron Strings kits are good for home dec pieces.  However, this appealed for a couple reasons.  One, the doilies could be folded over the top, bottom or side of a layout.  Two, the doilies are layered with patterned paper and embellished.  Three, doilies could be cut down (or use the smaller ones) to create a similar, but smaller banner to drape across the page(s).

The basic layered doilie layout.  You can stretch what you have by halving the doilies and layering them with cut circles in varying sizes.  You could also mix the layout with stenciled doilies (see below.)

I do have to say, I have used a doily as a stencil. I used it with a mist, but you could dab it with paint, ink, or even a crayon.

It's only because we have a family wedding coming up, that this dress caught my eye.  Fun on a layout for a wedding, or even prom - using a colored doily.

Now this is how I typically use a doily on a layout.  It just goes behind something, but it works.  Cut it in half to create a visually bigger circle.

Go. Create.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Food for Thought

It's been a few weeks since I posted recipes (so this is long), mostly because the last few weeks have just been nuts, not because I haven't been cooking.  When it's not screaming hot, aka Summer, cooking is a sort of escape.  In the summer cooking is just torture.  I'd rather be trying to find a bathing suit I can be seen in public in, than in the kitchen cooking a meal.

Summer is still a ways a way, though, and today temps are nice and cool.  We are even supposed to have some rain.  If you're looking for something for tonight, the holiday or your next week's menu, check out the recipes below, all of which are from Pinterest.

Desserts are probably more than 50% of my Pin boards, sadly.  Cherry anything is a favorite for me, so these Cherry Pie Bites with Vanilla Sugar Drizzle were an obvious choice to pin - then make.  They were super simple.  I only used two of the called-for four cans, and made hand pies with the remaining cherry filling.  What's to say?  They were cherry, they were soft, they were glazed.  All good things, because they were also gone in no time.

I kind of went on a meatball run that ended with these Amazing Chicken Parm Meatballs.  They were moist and flavorful.  I don't really make large meatballs as a main dish, but I will make these again.  I used a 1/4 c measure to portion them out, however, it's been a couple weeks and I don't remember how many that gave me.  These would be good as patties, served on buns, too.  I made up my usual marinara to go with them

We were in a cold snap when I made these Taco Stuffed Peppers.  I'm slow converting my kids into cooked pepper eaters, if not necessarily lovers.  Even my husband, who wasn't ever a huge fan, has slowly come to enjoy the versions I've served up.  These were all taco spices and hearty.  I was serving them on In-Law Night, so I added black beans to the mix, to stretch the filling without adding more ground beef.  Look for smaller peppers, unless you are planning halving them once they are cooked; they are filling.  Can I just say, I loved how colorful they were.  Good stuff in there.

When my 17 y.o. came home from his trip to France and Spain, I asked what was his favorite thing.  It was the food.  I asked if there was a favorite food, and he said, "probably the crepes, but it was all good," until they tried to serve him squash soup.  No bueno.  I made these Blintz Pancakes with Blackberry Sauce for the Mother's Day brunch I hosted for my family, my in-laws and my own parents.  They were something easy to prep the night before.  You can't go wrong with crepes.  Don't be intimidated, you burn, figuratively speaking, the first and after that, it's easy.  I used my 6" non-stick skillet, and less than the 1/4 c of batter.  I was able to eyeball an amount needed to coat the pan, the 1/4 cup seemed too much.  And you will too.

My daughter seems to have become a big fan of biscuits and gravy up at school, so when I found this Biscuits and Gravy Bake recipe, I chose to add it to the Mother's Day menu, for her and my hubby, who is also a fan.  It surprised me how good it was.  It was a bit lighter than the traditional version I've eaten before.  I worried the dough would stay doughy, but it cooked up nice and puffy.  The gravy was creamy, and you can spice it up with all the black pepper you want.

The brussels sprout cravings continue for my hubby, so Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Bourbon and Mustard it is.  These sprouts were not roasted, and since I'm still in my experimenting phase with these little green orbs, I tried this technique.  We agreed that roasting them is better.  Some of that may be due to the fact there were just too many sprouts in the skillet - and it was a 12" skillet - but they just didn't have the flavor we like that comes from roasting, and some remained a bit on the raw side, which doesn't happen with roasting.  I would make these again, but roast the sprouts and then tossed with the sauce, which needed more bourbon. ;)

Working hard on getting more variety to my sides, I made Cherry Cheesecake Fluff Salad to go with the ribs below.  It was easy enough and had good flavor.  I make another kind of Fluff, that I think I, personally, liked better.  I might use vanilla pudding, I'm not sure I liked the cheesecake variety, and changing up the fruits would be fun. 

I pulled out what I thought was pork chops, but instead they were country ribs.  Nothing like finding recipes on the fly.  But these Grilled Country Style Pork Ribs were really good.  The marinade was flavorful enough, that I'm glad I opted not to have hubby brush BBQ sauce on them.

My sister and I co-hosted a dinner after our 7 y.o. and her 7 y.o. celebrated their First Communions at the same Mass.  We split the menu, I made pulled pork (PW has my favorite version), she made pulled chicken.  I wanted a slaw that could be eaten on the sandwiches/tacos or served along side either meat.  This Apple Cranberry and Almond Coleslaw worked for both.  It was crunchy, and the pops of sweet from the cranberries was just right.  I will make a couple adjustments.  I'll use Granny Smith's instead of Gala's - my Girlie actually had this suggestion before I made it, but I like to go with the recipe as is the first time around.  I like the bigger crunch and that slight tang from Granny Smiths.  The color you can get the pops of red from the cranberries.  The dressing calls for honey, but I think it was a bit much, as I tasted a fair amount of honey, instead of it just adding sweetness.  I'll either reduce the amount, or use white sugar.

We had a decent amount of pulled pork leftover from the First Communion party, which I had planned.  Thus there are a couple recipes to use it up.  One being these Creamy Pulled Pork Taquitos.  The recipe comes with a pulled pork recipe, if you need it.  I like that they were baked, but I will turn them over once during the bake.  I put them on parchment, as well, which helps crisp things up.  I also used raw tortillas and wondered how they'd fare without cooking first and they did fine.  The filling was creamy and warm.  I may either half the amount of green salsa (I used a tomatillo) or leave it out for dipping instead. 

My rhubarb is still a season away from being able to harvest, so I've been on the lookout for it in the stores.  When I saw the stalks I grabbed them without know exactly what I'd use them for.  Luckily I have a lot of Pins to choose from, one of which are these Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars.  These were awesome.  Tart.  Sweet.  Buttery topping.  I could have eaten the pan-full.

I had buns left over from the party, but I had them earmarked for Green Chile Chicken Sliders, so this Brie and Blackberry Grilled Chicken Sandwiches wasn't going to be sandwiches.   They are also pan-fried, not grilled, unless you use a grill pan, but you could grill them.  Either way, they are good.  Really good.  I opted to served them on a bed of spinach that I had dressed with balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked the chicken in the pan, removed it to a platter to rest, and let the brie melt while they were resting.  The blackberry sauce was perfect.  It was a flavorful and colorful meal.

This Salmon Pasta and Lemon Cream Sauce recipe I used just the pasta and sauce portion, to serve with the above Chicken and Brie meal.  I used angel hair, because it's what I had, but it can get mushy fast because it's so fine, so I make sure to undercook it as it will suck up the sauce it's in.  It had a nice, light garlic flavor, and hints of lemon - add more zest if you like it more lemony.

This BBQ Pulled Pork White Cheddar Mac and Cheese also comes with a pulled pork recipe.  My roast was seven pounds, but the recipe uses a one and half pound roast, which seems like a lot.  So I just portioned out what looked like a good amount of pork on to the top of the pasta.  I also like the flavor of my pulled pork, so I opted not to toss the pork in BBQ (this is my go-to BBQ sauce) prior to baking it, but did drizzle sauce over the whole dish before serving.  It was warm, creamy with a nice bite of sharp cheese and a sweet dash of BBQ.  Perfect for a rainy night.

Enjoy your long holiday weekend.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

I'm treating myself, again, today with a Starbucks, because it's Thursday.

I took a nap and got seven, or so, hours of sleep yesterday after Wednesday's all-nighter with my 17 y.o., who finished his architecture class with a B.  He didn't say what he got on the project, though.  I am going to have to ask, or look it up myself, because I'm personally vested in it now, so I need to know.

Because it's been busy lately, I've had my studio torn apart, and frankly, because I've been lazy, I've not crafted anything in a long while - unless you count the quilt squares I'm embroidering.  (psst . . . and I've just gotten 12 more.  Cha-ching, yikes, so sshh!)  Anyway, the quilt squares have me thinking alternative uses, because, cough, I don't quilt.  I actually don't really sew.  I know, you're thinking "WTH is she doing with quilt squares?"  Well, that is the $10,000 question.  They are Christmas themed, so I might be able to pull off a table runner, or two.  Towels.  Throw pillows for the couches.  Placemats - which I use all the time.  Maybe an apron, because I'm old school and wear them.  I might be able to pull off a super simple quilt throw.  I don't know.  We'll see.  

Anyway, all that has me thinking alternatives.  So today, we're throwing back to past kits and alternative uses.

Lily Bee's Buttercup line from the April, 2012 Bigger kit was used to up-a-notch an ordinary water bottle.  They had such pretty papers.  I miss their lines.  The little tag for a water bottle with the flavor pack is a cute idea as part of a year-end teacher thank you.  Or maybe a fun addition to a picnic in the park, with a small toy or treat in the pocket.  Throw it over a bottle of wine, or other alcoholic beverage with crackers and cheese instead of flavoring.  Over a milk bottle and you can include a packet of cookies. You're only limited by what you can come up with.

This little altered can - like the kind you'd find bulk pencils, pens or hair do-dads in, also used the Lily Bee Buttercup from the April '12 Bigger kit.  Create a savings place for a movie night, or when the ice cream man makes his rounds in the neighborhood.  Make it a bigger jar for that family vacation.  I have a mason jar that's filled with slips of things to do during the summer - nothing big - water fights, popsicles after dinner, etc.  Make it a simple savings jar for a child's allowance when he/she's wanting a specific toy.

This was just one of several frames (from the Dollar Store) on the table to let diners know what was being served.  The designer used the Basic Grey Aspen Frost line from the Bigger December 2012 kit.  Use a larger frame to list out the menu, with smaller frames denoting the dishes.  Decorate jars or buckets with wide-cut strips of paper to hold utensils.  Wrap utensils up in napkins and secure them with paper napkin rings.  You could even get a larger fram, keep the glass in, and add a seasonal paper behind the glass, using a dry-erase marker make a note board - weekly menus, chores, daily activity, etc.

We Re Memory Keepers' Be My Valentine line, found in the February 2011 Bigger kit was used to decorate this cute little mailbox.  Kristin was the Queen of altered projects, and this, along with the ones above are all hers.  This would also be a good year-end teacher gift, filled with a thank you note from the child and other small goodies.  You could use one to pass sweet notes to your kids over the summer.

It's so easy to find alterable items in stores.  These coat pegs were altered using the We R Memory Keepers Cottontail line from the Smaller March 2012 kit.  Cute.  Easy.  Summer project?

The Fancy Pants Rough & Tough line from the Bigger March '2010 line was used to alter this birdhouse.  The "Wish Upon..." is a rub-on, if memory serves.  This, too, is a fun little project to decorate an outdoor space, a mantle, counter, whatever.  I've seen smaller versions, probably when Christmas stuff hits the craft stores, that you could do more than one to put on your Christmas Tree, but check the "wood" aisle at your local store.

Whether you're using current kits, past kits or scraps, think way off-the-page and have some fun.

Go.  Create.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

We Are

So, last night - or early this morning - I discovered that there is nothing good on TV at three in the morning.  There wasn't when I was nursing my kids years ago, and there's still nothing when I'm, now, providing moral support, mixed with some hands-on help.  On three hours sleep, I'm treating myself to Starbucks for breakfast.  Screw the trying to eat well today.

  • Final project.  You always start out with high energy.  By the time you're done.  You are so DONE.  With everything!
  • Girls mow lawns.
  • Those exercise programs were created with the energy of a 7 y.o. in mind.  Not an almost 50 year old.
  • Big spiritual month for these boys.  It's the 7 y.o.'s turn.
  • He was so excited for this moment.  The hugs and grins were huge all day.
  • When you find empty picture frames and are about to question the 7 y.o., not only for taking out the pictures but leaving the frames and glass on the chair. . .where people sit. . .only to find your 19 y.o. is the culprit.
  • When you find your dog doing this, for like 15 minutes straight
  • And upon inspection you find this. . .that sucker was the size of a quarter.  I kid you not!
  • This is what 3:27 am looks like.  Completed three hours before it was due.
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Stash Busting


There are any number of decorative envelopes out there, many of which have been included with Apron Strings kits.  Maya Road (Kraft above) probably produces the largest variety of non-standard envelopes.  Doodlebug (Teal and Pink above) used to make really cute decorative ones, even minis, but they seem to have moved away from those.  However, they are still in my stash.  The downside for me about envelopes is I don't make a ton of cards, at least not ones that need to be mailed (I don't generally put a handmade card in an envelope when the recipient is local.)  Like most of my stash, I have, pretty much, one way to use something and don't think much off-the-page.

Envelopes, for me, are usually holders of notes, tickets, report cards, letters to Santa, etc.  I don't even do much to the envelope, just stick it down.  I decided it might be time to broaden the creativity where envelopes are concerned.

I searched Pinterest and found these.  They are Doodlebug's, but I think they are homemade envelopes, and not ones you can purchase premade.  They are super cute, from the mini brad that holds them closed, to the simple ticket and baker's twine that adorn them.  If I'm tucking away memorabilia, why not take a moment decorate.

So, I got inspired by this Doodlebug card.  Besides being really cute, and needing to find those mini envelopes, it sparked the idea that with the mini Kraft envelopes in my possession, I could totally translate the mini clothes line of envelopes to my scrapbook page.  I could "fill" the envelopes on my scrapbook page version with journaling, the title or even a photo, or I could simply embellish.

Pinterest was pretty void of ideas for mini envelopes, outside of either templates for making them, or creating a coordinating envelope for a card.  I searched Google and found this cute envelope and bag combo.  Now here, it's being used to give treats, but it's more about how they decorated the envelopes, plus combining it with a small Kraft bag (because I have those, too.)  Plus, even with school winding down, who doesn't need a fast teacher gift?

This countdown calendar is A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E.  First there's the whole idea of a countdown calendar - so cute.  However, it's more about how each envelope is decorated; paper trimmed to fit, buttons, chipboard, ribbon, twine - whatever to decorate the outside.  Done like this, an envelope can become just another element on the page, whether there's something in it or not.

This romantic envelope is another example of simply decorating the envelope.  This is a great way to use up scraps of paper and the odd embellishment or two.

I also found examples of larger decorative envelopes used to create mini albums, though I don't know why smaller ones wouldn't work.  A simple search provided all kinds of examples.  The envelopes don't need to match or even be the same size.  Envelope albums are great for quick travel/vacation albums - receipts and memorabilia on the inside, a photo or two on the outside.  You could even convert a vacation countdown to the album for your trip - create a countdown, like the Advent one above, but specific to your trip/vacation.  Like most minis, gratification is instant and it gives you something to reminisce over while you produce your more traditional pages.   

Go.  Create.