Friday, February 24, 2017

Food for Thought

I'm, seemingly, back in the saddle for menu planning -it's always a struggle for a few weeks after the holidays are cleared away.

I needed a side for the Tri-tip Steak hubby was smoking for dinner.  What goes better with steak, than potatoes, so Salt and Vinegar Roasted Potatoes with Smoky Garlic Mayo seemed like a good pairing.  And it was.  The potatoes were crispy and the mayo had a nice zip.  I didn't get a lot of vinegar, though.  And frankly, I don't know if I'm supposed to get a tang from it or not.  I did cook about a half-pound more than the recipe called for (was serving eight), without altering the vinegar, so I don't know if that mattered - but they were good nonetheless.

I wanted a dessert that worked with what I had on hand.  I have frozen bananas - enough for a zoo-full of monkeys - so Monkey Squares fit that bill.  I opted for the 9x13 size and they were moist and banana-y.  The browned butter frosting was sweet with a bit of salty-nuttiness that worked well with the bananas.

I mentioned I'm trying to get more fish on the menu, at least a couple times a month.  With Lent coming up I'll have plenty of weeks with fish, but it's the non-Lenten weeks I'm trying to get a handle on. So when I scrolled up to Chili Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Salsa, it went on the menu.  I loved the sweet and spicy rub (use a heavy hand and pack that rub on) with the richness of the salmon and the avocado salsa was cool and creamy, just the right topping.

Our multi-schedule night needed something that cooked up quickly for those leaving early, but was good later for those late arrivals.  This Chicken Chilaquiles worked on both counts.  It was quick to pull together, even with making the chips.  I used salsa verde, rather than a chile verde sauce - I like the chunkier texture.  I topped with sour cream, and would have loved some avocado.

I made Crock-Pot Citrus-Soy Chicken Drumsticks for a night when both boys had a Confirmation meeting.  I figured it would hold until they got home, but their meeting was cancelled, so we enjoyed an unexpected meal together.  The drumsticks were not only easy to set up, but were tangy with a bit of citrus and fell off the bone.  Taking the lid off, as noted, lets the sauce thicken a bit.  I served it up with a side of Pioneer Woman's Simple Sesame Noodles.  I was planning to use linguini noodles, but someone has been enjoying them raw.  So, my only other thin-noodle option was egg noodles.  They worked surprising well - I like the wide, but short noodle and the sauce is amazing!

We have a weekend full of activities.  After a couple weekends of fantastic weather and nowhere to go, we'll get to do our running around in freezing temps.  yeah.

Happy Friday,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

We Are

It was a week of fantastic, if highly unusual weather, hockey games galore and plugging along through life.  

  • This stance comes with a rapid prancing of the front paws as she braces for the throw
  • Her peace
  • His passion
  • To be honest, she only goes to school looking like this
  • The hockey version of a pre-game scrum
  • Yep. . .she hates us
  • When you're trying to pay for school, but your hours get cut
  • Or not
  • Eight games over three days - one win, a couple close ones and some not so pretty ones - he had two shots on goal, some good passes, several steals and an overall "scrappy" performance - minus a game or two where he may have been asleep.
  • Crazy warm weather means a return to yard work
  • When you think you're ahead and find, yeah, not so much
  • When all your toys are finally out of the dryer
  • Class selection for next year and the line to infinity, you're at the end and there's a rapidly ticking clock marking how long you've got left on your off-block 
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tackle It Tuesday - Organizing Your Space Part 6

Even with the three-day, eight game hockey tournament, I managed to be pretty productive at home.  Not always in ways I'd like, but productive nonetheless.  Which is what it's about.  You might find you wish you were sorting your paper in your space, but instead you get hung up unraveling lengths of ribbon and trying to find the best storage.  The point is, just keep swimming.  You can find parts one, two, three four at their links.

REPOST:  January, 2013

It's time to get down to the nitty-gritty of it all.  The flights-of-fancy, the impulse purchases, the bane (sometimes) of our scrapbooking worlds - I'm talking Products.

First, you need to admit to yourself that you possess products that no longer work for you.  They no longer inspire you.  Maybe they never did.  And you know what?  Both scenarios - the products that have lost that loving feeling and products that never had it - are okay, so long as you are okay with letting them go.

Determine what you have that works. . .and what doesn't - that includes any current system(s) you may have in place.  No point in messing with something that works.  Be honest with yourself - yes, you spent money on the items, but if they're not inspiring you, it's perfectly okay to let them go.  If all they do is bog down your selections when you do sit down to work - let them go.  If you consistently pass over them - let them go.  Keep the items that speak to you.  That get you excited to create.  And this includes organizing methods you already have that are working.
Knowing how you work and how you think about your work, it's time to think about how you're going to organize the items you're keeping:

  • Color - if you think in terms of colors, maybe sorting all your items by color will speed up your process and keep you motivated.  Putting all your blue buttons, brads, ribbons, etc. in one large container may be your ticket.
  • Activity - this method is keeping all items to one activity together.  Maybe you have a station for all your stamps, ink pads, etc. on specific shelves, or occupying a specific space.  Maybe you have a cutting station where all your punches, trimmers and diecuts live.
  • Manufacturer - if when you sit down you think, "Basic Grey has a great line for this," or you reach for your favorite manufacturer every time, or maybe you buy full lines of products, then sorting in this way could work for you.  Keep all the items from a given manufacturer in one container.
  • Topic - this is sorting and storing by themes:  seasons, holidays, travel, birthday, masculine, feminine, baby, etc.
  • Project - taking on Project Life, or your trip do Disney?  Put all the items - paper, stickers, album, special tools or stamps - you think you want to use in a container sorted by these projects.
Sort and purge.  Yep, it's that time. This is why, before you began this process, you identified people or places to send off the products that are outdated or uninspiring (to you - which doesn't mean they won't be perfect for someone else).  LET GO!

Store and, if you want, display - this goes back to what sort of personality you have as a crafter.  See this POST.  After purging and organizing, this is my favorite part.  Now remember, if you have storage or systems that are working, keep using them.  Don't complicate it.
  • Hooks - If you're a Visible and Open person this might be the ticket.  Group your items according to the organization method you've chosen and hang on hooks, using rings or dowels.
  • Altered Trays - Trays are big:  printer's trays, artist's trays, even food trays.  They're big and flat or big and compartmentalized.  Change up their look - paint and paper - and sort your goodies away.  Trays can also be portable if you're, say, working in your kitchen - store the trays in a dedicated cupboard and tote them to your work space.
  • Glass Jars - If your a Closed but Visible crafter, these are great and inexpensive ways to store everything from stamps to buttons.  Mason Jars come in a ton of sizes and are an inexpensive option.  Save your jelly jars.  Shop thrift stores.  Upcycle away.
  • Lidded Boxes - whether they are see-through or not.  Lids protect contents from spilling out (when such a thing would be uninspiring to your creativity) as well as protecting your goodies from dust and light.  

How this works for me:

I use a couple different methods depending on the product.  I've already said I'm a Visible and Closed container person - so jars work for me when sorting my small embellishments:  buttons, brads and ribbon are by color.  Then like items are sorted:  photo corners, florals, pins, chipboard letters.  Sometimes I wonder if I should sort all my embellishments by color, no matter what they are.  I may try it and see how it goes, but right now this works for me.
My paper is pretty much all in kits, which are stored by themes - so seasonal, holiday, travel, etc.  I do have two favorite manufacturers and those items are sorted that way - anything October Afternoon is all in one place, papers, embellishments, stickers, etc. 
When I can eek out no more from a kit, I've created all the layouts I can and made all the cards from the scraps, I sort out any leftover embellishment accordingly and toss the rest of the paper - this does not include a full sheet or paper bigger than 6x12, those go in the giveaway box.  I do not keep scraps.  They don't work for me.  I don't think of them.  They clutter my space.  Away they go. 
Every so often I'll create a layout with a kit and I'm just not feelin' it with the papers enough to create anything further from them.  When this happens, the remainder of the papers goes in the giveaway box to the kids' schools. 
My stamping products (stamps, ink, tools, etc.) are all stored in one cupboard - behind closed doors.  My Cricut sits on the window sill.  Pens, pencils, everyday reaches are stored in a caddy.

As with all the posts in this series the ideas presents are inspired by "The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker" by Wendy Smedley and Aby Garvy

Monday, February 20, 2017

Shop the Sale @ Apron Strings

Today, if you're lucky enough to have President's Day off, shoot even if don't, you can browse the aisles at Apron Strings and snag lots of great savings on TV Dinners,Embellishments,  and Past Scrapbook Kits and Card Kits, where you'll save 20% to 60%, or more. 

As a BONUS pick up four Second Helpings of paper and get a fifth (our choice) for FREE

Shop early for selection, but save all day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We Are

Last week, hubby took me on the second of his surprise road trips.  This time we headed to Waco, Texas and the Magnolia Market.  If you watch HGTV, you may be familiar with Fixer Upper and the hosts who purchased huge grain silos, renovated them and opened up shop.  That was our destination, while the kids held the fort at home.

  • 7 PM, your husband (who has "run up to Cheyenne") calls, breathless, to tell you he's in trouble.  After a multitude of scenarios run through your mind, he tells you he's gotten himself high centered in a-middle-of-nowhere shortcut Google Maps provided him.  Flash forward to three people, a truck, shovels and several hours after a hair-raising-off-road-where's-the-ehfing-road-blood-pumping-WTH-was-he-thinking drive in an attempt to not only find him, but un-stick him.  We'll leave it at we finally arrived back home at 3 AM - the day we were heading to Texas.
  • Our route to Texas, took us back through our alternate route home from Oklahoma last month.  Without the white-knuckled snow and ice drive, there was some great scenery.  Including this extinct volcano.  The only thing of elevation for miles and miles.  The ancient lava flows stretched equally as far.
  • We hit a town in Texas, I forget where, and there were huge flocks of geese.  I've seen big flocks in Colorado, but this was insane.
  • Colorado sunsets are awesome, but there is something about  ones that streatch across flat land
  • Meanwhile, back at home, we were heading for a record breaker day - with 67 degrees early in the morning
  • Everyone was enjoying the 80 degree February afternoon.  F.E.B.R.U.A.R.Y!
  • Some were salty they didn't get to enjoy the afternoon at all.
  • Those who were salty did enjoy a birthday evening with friends, sushi and key lime pie.
  • Then there was weekend hockey, though not a tournament - that is this weekend - which made it a bit easier for grandma and grandpa.
  • Then and Now - far nicer views
  • Then and Now - I have to say, Cadillac Ranch was far more interesting in the ice and snow.  We opted not to get out and see it up close, because frankly, I think it would have been a disappointment.
  • I fan-girled it around the property, did some light shopping and we snagged two cupcakes, from their bakery, to enjoy later, after dinner.  He's a fan of the show, but he'd certainly never make a pilgrimage. ;)
  • Feet out for sleeping
  • When you can't roll out of bed, into leggings and out the door.
  • Cupid's arrival
  • The 8 y.o. showed great restraint in the icing and sprinkles departments.  Some fellow classmates. . .not so much.
  • Iced coffee - homemade
  • Sitting next to your BAE
Happy Wednesday,

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tackle It Thursday - Organizing Your Space Part 5

Most of my time lately has been spent merely keeping up - there hasn't been a lot of forward motion.  But that happens.  Sometimes you get stuck, and you need give yourself a break about it.  If that's happened as you've worked through your creative space, it's okay, come back to it and take smaller bites, dedicate smaller amounts of time, until bigger blocks are open to you again.  If you haven't read previous posts in this series, check them ou read part one, two and three.

REPOST:  January, 2013

This post and part four's really go hand-in-hand, but I was long winded enough last time, so I figured I'd just break it into two posts.  Again, the inspiration from this series comes from "The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker" by Wendy Smedley and Aby Garvey.

I'm sure we all collect it.  Pinned it to our bullet boards as teenagers, stuffed it into hope chests or shoeboxes as young adults and crammed it into box after box as new parents.  I'm talking of memorabilia.  Those little bits, bobbles and pieces of our lives:  tickets, cards, notes, scraps of fabric, flower petals, corks and the glittered creations our kids bring home.

To tackle it start by determining what memorabilia means to you and your scrapbooking.  Maybe you'll display pieces.  Maybe you'll have a good system for photographing all the pieces and including them with layouts.  Maybe you'll have a whole book dedicated to it.  Or maybe you'll determine to just box it.

Once you know what you're going to do with it, you'll need a way to store it:

  • Long term storage - even if you're too close to certain types of memorabilia to sort and perhaps purge, you can still get it organized.  Sort items into large categories like high school, pre-marriage, per child, etc.  Look for boxes/containers that are sturdy and water/humidity resistant depending on where your storage space is; basements flood or are subject to higher humidity but sometimes that's the only storage available in your home (like here in Colorado, attics reach well into the 100's in the summer).  If so, protect your items accordingly.  Put highly valuable items in fire proof storage.
  • Copy your photo systems - if you're intending to include memorabilia in your scrapbooks, the easiest way to store the pieces is to follow the same categories you have for your photos.  
  • Rotating system - there are some items that are just special, that maybe you've determined you want to see regularly.  Including these items in your home decor is certainly a way to do that.  Maybe you pull items out seasonally, in which case you'd want to store and label accordingly.  Maybe there are those shadow-box items you've been meaning to deal with. . .now's the time to pull them together and just do it.
Now, show that stuff off.  Put notes with your photos to remember the memorabilia you've set aside.  For small collections think about glass jars.  For those love notes from both hubby and kiddos, tuck them into little baskets - maybe bundle them up with pretty ribbon or twine.  Rotate kids' artwork on over sized clipboards, or a special "frame" on the 'fridge.  Small cork-boards or magnetic surfaces make it easy to display and rotate any number of items.  Group items on shelves in your room, or your kids' rooms.

How this works for me:

I'm horrible at including memorabilia of any kind into scrapbooks.  I have the odd shots of the kids' creations that I included on a page or two, but not enough to call it a habit.  Most of their creations are boxed and stored in the crawl-space.  Put there when the emotional connection was too much to sort and/or toss, and now it just sits there because it's out of my sight.  The sheer volume created by my children when they were young is insane, then you add my own pieces and it's just an avalanche of items.  I'm sure as I work my way through my perpetual calendar's decluttering schedule I'll hit pockets of the stuff and I'll have to deal with it then.  At least I have a plan. . .

I do have a couple systems:  the kids' early school work is all boxed and stored in the crawl space:  art projects, paper work showing their handwriting progression, papers with subjects they struggled in and papers showing where they excelled.  As the volume of items decreased (and I figured out what was important - to me - to keep), I started to keep their pieces in plastic folders and the drawers in my studio space.  Does it need going through. . .'fer sure, totally!  This is just their school work, too.  It's not the stuffed animals they loved when they were little, or the clothing that had special meaning.

I have a few items that I put out, or are out all the time, in my home.  I have a doll from my childhood that sits permanently in my studio.  I have some other dolls that are dressed in holiday attire that come out for that particular holiday.  The thought just occurred to me that two of my children had bunnies that were their constant companions when they were young and it would be fun to include in my Easter-mantle decor.

A little thought and all those pieces that meant so much to keep will have their time in the spotlight - just think outside the box a little.

You know what's next - organize it and purge it down.  Sometimes some distance in determining what to let go of is key. . .if this is you, don't try to pare down right now.  However, if you're ready to dig in and let go, determine what's important - do you have several pieces of artwork that reflect the same time period in your child's life?  Select certain pieces that cover a range of time - or show their growth.  Scaling down your memorabilia is not only freeing, it lets you appreciate what you do keep.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

We Are

It's been a rough couple of weeks, well months really - since Thanksgiving - with my in-laws.  My father-in-law's recovery has been slow, with a few set-backs.  My mother-in-law has had her own challenges, and a couple hospital visits, the most recent is still ongoing.  These events definitely spice up the everyday, and not in a positive way.  But. . .they are both moving forward and that's what matters.

You add their difficulties to some nasty, sticky congestion making it's way through our family, my mother's "Worst Lungs of the Day" awarded by her doctor for her own sticky, nasty thing, the 8 y.o.'s strep diagnosis (with nothing but hives presenting) last week, and he's home again today with a fever, plus the daily things of family life and we're a bit rough around the edges.  Hubby, who woke with a new and interesting cough this morning, and I are due to leave town again soon (the second of his surprise trips) and I can't help but wonder if these are signs we maybe should rethink things.  However, I'm not sure there's anything that will dissuade him from plans.

  • Catholic Schools Week and Parent Appreciation Day - started with breakfast burritos handed out in the drop-off line, finished with skits, songs, poems and cheers honoring parents.
  • Nobody said following your dreams would be easy, but it will be worth it
  • When your 16 y.o.'s social media feeds are filled with astrological ephemera
  • I love it when he plays - too bad he doesn't do so in the public spaces of the house more often
  • The things we make her do for a treat. . .pretty sure she hates us
  • When Family Game Nights dissolves into searching for, finding and watching ridiculous videos of songs the kids found when they were much younger.  It's even worse when you remember the lyrics, such as they are.
  • Celebrating with Samoa Blondies and Samoa Pie, topped with 20 candles
  • What happens when the party's over but you left your phone unattended
  • How can this Sweet Pea be 20?
  • When your friends SnapChat their stalking around your house at the crack of dawn and you are afraid to go outside, but you find these instead.  #theyremembered
  • There are times being up early is worth it
Happy Wednesday,