Friday, March 30, 2018

Food for Thought

I was cooking away a couple weeks ago; this week not so much.  The calendar seemed full, but when the events aren't yours and you don't have to do the driving, it's amazing how blissful it is.

Looking for fast and fabulous.  Got a few below.

I have a couple of these Enchilada Bubble Up Casserole recipes pinned.  I went to see how similar they are and found they aren't too different - the other one is definitely faster, as this one has a couple items made from scratch:  the dough, the enchilada sauce.  You could certainly make those substitutions, but the dough is really good, and pretty simple.  I already had enchilada sauce on hand - leftovers (this is my recipe) and gauging the sauce in the recipe it looked like it would make about 1 1/4 cup of sauce.  I had a smidge more than that (probably 1 1/3 cup), so I just dumped it all in.  It was really good.  Had good flavor and the dough bubbles were tender and light.  It calls for chicken, I used rotisserie, but you could do ground beef, turkey or go meatless and add extra beans.

I made an Italian Wedding Soup found in 365 Slow Cooker Suppers.  She doesn't have it indexed on her website, but can be found in her book (linked above); I received the recipe via her emailed newsletter.  It was super simple, used pre-made meatballs and had a lot of flavor - though I might cut down on the Italian seasoning, or substitute in some fresh.  It was meant for the slow cooker, so the dried seasonings didn't soften much because I just simmered it on the stove-top.  I've made other recipes from her that are good, so it might be worth it to pick up her cookbook.

I hadn't made pizza in a while, so when I saw this Skillet Pizza with Sausage and Chili Garlic Tomato Sauce I figured why not.  I hadn't made a pan pizza before - I have my pizza stones and my go-to recipe.  My only worry was that the dough would be thick and heavy, but I was very surprised how light and chewy it was.  There was a bit of a mishap while it was rising, but even with that, I think the dough would have still turned out light.  We all loved it - except I put in too much garlic chili for the majority of us.  Next time, I'll cut down the amount and put hot sauce on the side for those who like the fire.

Instant Pot recipe.  Are you surprised?  Easy Balsamic Beef Pot Roast.  I have to say I was a bit worried when I opened the pot and it wasn't fall-apart-tender.  It seemed like it was tough and it definitely wasn't "flaking."  I was more than surprised that by the time I'd gotten it sliced that it was tender (I made sure to slice against the grain.)  I only had half of the balsamic the recipe called for but it still had great flavor.  I opted to do mashed potatoes instead of cauliflower. 

Not a big list of recipes this time, but they're good.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Crafting Home

Last year, after some good, relief-inducing news, I treated myself by picking up this kit from Paisleys and Polka Dots.  She has quite a few things I'd love to grab up, hug to myself and run down to to my craft table to assemble.  Her wood decor is adorable, and if you're looking for a card kit to replace Apron Strings, she has a good one.

The kit includes all the wood pieces, papers and embellishments, along with basic instructions.  This kit is a 12-month "HOME" set, where I have the all the letters to spell "home" and then 12 seaonal shapes to either use in place of the "O" or in some other fashion.  I've used the shapes on my mantle with other seasonal decor, but usually I put them with the rest of the letters.

I had managed to get September, October, November and December's shapes assembled to use during those various seasons/holidays, but fell behind and didn't get January's done, or February's for that matter - though I managed to get February done and out for a week before February was over.  But hey, it's ready to go for next year.  As part of my huge to-do list in 2018, I included finishing these shapes.  One weekend I sat down and did just that.  Or, well, almost did that.  I have three months left.

I sort of follow the instructions.  I glanced at the first couple sets and they all say basically the same thing.  I don't customize the paint on individual pieces (to match to papers), instead I paint almost everything white, and then it's just the sides of the pieces.  Nobody is going to see the backs, so I don't bother.  The only other thing I don't paint white are dark-colored pressed board pieces.  I like the look of the dark sides against whatever paper I'm using.

You can see the dark-colored edge of the pressed board on the egg above - in the band and the flower.

Finished January's.  It's ready to go for next year.  He has a lot of thick layers up on the brim of his hat, but the recommended Aleen's Craft Glue and a Wood Glue are doing great jobs of holding it all.

I stopped with May, so I'll have to get back on the ball again and complete the remaining pieces.  I have to say, I'm enjoying a different kind of paper crafting.  I'm enjoying changing up what I'm doing.  The only downside is I have several works-in-progress.

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

We Are

I have shipped off my two older boys.  One back to school in Arizona, and the other to Spain.  With Girlie home, but working 12 hour shifts, it's mighty quiet just me, the hubby and the 9 y.o.

  • We woke to a very wet snow a yesterday.  The affect isn't unlike the scene from Willy Wonka where they were hosed down with white fluff.  Only this prettier.
  • Just the day before, on Monday, I saw at least a half dozen ant colonies working busily.  Not sure how they fared after the snow though.
  • Untamed blooms, while pretty hardy, I don't know survived the heavy snow any better than the ants.
  • Spring is popping up in the house
  • Girlie is doing a bit of changing things up in her room
  • When you have a bit of "some assembly required" redecorating in your room to do and, sweet, your brother is home on Spring Break.
  • Friday Night Lights of a different kind
  • Well, we know he made it to his gate . . .
  • . . . And we know he made it to Toronto
  • A group photo before sending him off.  Girlie was working and couldn't make the send-off
  • So I added her in.
  • She said it was good, but Her Boy (a photoshop genius) could do better
  • Spring is popping up outside the house, too.  These are gonna need covering tonight - snow's moving in - Monday's snow squashed those blooms.
  • Taking a different route for my daily walk.
Happy Wednesday,


Thursday, March 22, 2018

A January Layout, Finished

I'm three months for three months worth of class material.  Back in January I joined the SCT365 2018 class (I had done, sort of, the SCT365 2017) as a way to help me achieve my creative intention where scrapbooking was concerned.  

Every month I get a sketch for a layout and a card, examples for both, cut files (which I have yet to use, but it's in the plan) and access to a Facebook group where I can share, see other examples and get cheered on - and cheer on others.

I started late, so I'm playing catch-up, but it still counts as three class challenges complete. ;)

I did the following layout using Simple Stories Elementary pack.  This paper wasn't part of an Apron Strings kit, rather one I picked up when Archiver's was going out of business.  (Yes, that was a long time ago, but it goes with how old the photos are.  My babies are not this small and I have one more, who wasn't even around yet.)

I stayed fairly true to this sketch, from January.  I also tried to use only the items from the Simple Stories package.  My intent is to use up as much of the kit as I can, before either tossing the remainder or sending it along to the Kindergartners to use.  I will be creating a couple more layouts using the line.  Same photos, too, to create a layout for each kids' albums.  One way or another, I'll be done and over this paper line.

I used up some scraps to create a general card.  It is more "inspired" by the sketch, rather than a direct creation.  But it's a card in my stash.  I've said before I don't put sentiments on my cards, which allows me to use them for whenever and whoever.

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

We Are

I have one son home on break.  I have one son leaving for Spain, tomorrow, during his break.  I have another son who won't be on break for another week.  And I have a daughter, who after doing three 12 hour shifts, will be in definite need of a break.

I hauled out all my Spring decor, lumped it all on the counter and have been trying to figure out where it should all go.  I have a few odds and ends left to deal with, and some tweaking to do, but most of it is out.  Post to follow.

  • In Colorado, it doesn't matter whether the calendar says Spring is here, or near, Winter holds on as long as it can.  We got a good frosting (about four inches) of wet snow that was gone by the following afternoon.
  • Her Sexy pose, aka "What are you eating over there?"
  • On my walk, I caught up with hubby coming back around the lake, and Girlie passed in front of me on a training run - she's running a half marathon in a few weeks.  And she wasn't dead on the lawn.  She looked pretty good to me.
  • They said rain was coming in and dang if they didn't get that right this time.  We got thunder and lightening too!  Loved every thundering second of it.
  • Girlie finished her banner - looks amazing.  She ended up backing it with a navy floral print (you can see the floral HERE), and it looks even better, if that's possible.
  • When you wonder if you have too much stuff, or too many ideas.
  • Then you realize, you might actually need just a bit more.
Happy Wednesday,


Monday, March 19, 2018

Food for Thought

You shouldn't be surprised that these recipes are all made in my new Instant Pot.  Besides the below, I've also made chicken broth in it - using my ingredients and an Instant Pot recipe for the amount of liquid.  I also used the Slow Cooker function to make meatball sliders.  

I original picked this Three-Bean Chili for Friday - the whole Lent-no-meat thing, only to find when I went to actually make it that it has ground beef in it.  I simply left out the ground beef and added an extra can of beans - so I guess it should be four bean chili.  I could have also added quinoa or farro, instead of extra beans.  I didn't have chili powder so I mixed a couple of hubby's chili powders (he has his own stash for rubs and sauces) and, unfortunately, picked one that was far too hot.  At least for me and most of the others around the table, hubby thought it was perfect.  There was good seasoning, despite the heat (which luckily didn't linger.)  I used leftovers the next night on sheet-pan nachos, with lots of cooling sour cream and avocado.

Thought I'd see how rice did by cooking Instant Pot Chicken Taco Bowls.  Even before I started cooking, I knew three cups of rice was a lot.  I cut it to two cups and it was still too rice-heavy for us; next time I'll do a cup and a half.  I also forgot to rinse it, so it was overly sticky.  Those things aside, it was a decent dish - maybe a tad under-seasoned, which could have been, in part, to the large amount of rice.  I would make it again, but have extra toppings and I'd mess around with the seasoning.  

One of the features I love about the Instant Pot is the sautéing, so this Instant Pot Pizza Pasta would have been a one pot meal if I'd had canned marinara and pizza sauce.  I didn't, and don't because I make my own here and here - which I could can, but they are fast enough recipes to do on an as needed basis.  I basically whipped them together while the sausage was browning.  I would chop the pepperoni next time because the slices didn't mix in well. Also mixed in the cheese at serving.  It was good, comforting, and cheesy.  I do have to mention, I was surprised that the pasta didn't get overcooked - but it was perfect.

We were heavy on the Mexican food this week with this Instant Pot Shredded Mexican Chicken. I wanted to see how chicken breasts held up in the Instant Pot, as I usually substitute for thighs for such recipes.  They were okay.  Certainly not as dry as slow cooking can sometimes produce, but not the juiciness of pan-frying, grilling or oven baking; I'll continue with the substituting.  We did crunchy and soft tacos, but would be great on sheet-pan nachos (and it was) or in a bowl.

I needed something different for dessert - we have been hosting my brother-in-law and his family, along with my in-laws, while they are all temporarily living together.  These Blackberry and Cream Biscuits seemed like a quick solution, and different.  They were really good - light with big bites of berries and a bit of sweet from the glaze.  You can even talk yourself into thinking these have healthy qualities because of berries in them, but the amount of cream will wipe that out, unless you consider the amount of calcium in that and then you're good.  The recipe calls for fresh, but you could probably get away with frozen; the fresh berries get a bit crushed in the "folding."  I would also mix it all together, instead of mixing everything and then trying to fold in the fresh berries.  

Happy Monday,


Thursday, March 15, 2018

St. Patrick's Day Mantle, the Long Version

I wouldn't say I didn't care how my house looked - decor wise - or that it didn't matter.  It was more not knowing what my style was.  I knew what I liked, but it was more about cohesion, about what I wanted to make my house feel cozy, comfy and a refuge from the rest of the world.

I'm 50-something, married for almost 30 years with four kids, but it's only recently that I've come to realize what I want in my home, and from my home.  I know I like aqua and red.  I know I like reproduction old stuff in some items - rust isn't something I want to mitigate and chippy paint isn't for me - I like the look of unpainted wood, for the most part.  I know I prefer neutral walls (mostly because I hate picking paint and the whole process of painting) and neutral colors in furniture.  I know I like to bring in color with accessories, window coverings, pillows and such.  It's much less expensive to replace pillows than a couch. 

I think I've always been drawn to older things and a more timeless or classic appeal - contemporary is not for me.  I love the history of places and things.  I enjoy watching period shows because I love looking at the sets, the furniture and accessories.  If the show was actually filmed during a given time, 40's or 50's, and I can see actual pieces from then, it's even better.  A good set designer, with an eye for detail and knows the time period, well, I just love them!  Crazy?   Probably.  

When we were first married, style was hand-me-downs, wedding gift decor and left-over college-life.  When the kids came along, decor focused on how to hide dirt, finger prints and cheerio crumbs, and still look good - plaid hides a lot - and keeping things safe.  Accessories were Little People sitting on tables mixed with tough-to-mess-up picture frames and a parking lot of Matchbox cars.  Anything with value (monetary or sentiment) was out, but up high.  Pillows were various stuffed animals.  Past college life and wedding decor was replaced with kid art and pictures of the kids, scattered with blankets for forts and baskets filled with all manner of kid toys.  My "side table" was a kid-sized table and chairs; we didn't have a coffee table for years because of racing kids and pointy corners.

When Pinterest came along and I was able to put a finger on what my likes were and really identifying what I loved, because I could see it all, in one place.  I could name a style or two that I wanted reflected in my home.  I could define it. 

Now, my kids are older, almost out of the house, save the 9 year old.  I find I am able to focus more on what I like, get it and have it out.  Instagram has helped me solidify what I see in my mind's eye.  To shop my own home.  To flush out things I had, and loved, on hand by looking for more.

In recent years I've taken on changing some areas of the house for a given season, outside of the usual holiday decorating.  It started with multiple sets of dishes, one for each season, and changing them out accordingly (I might have a serious dish obsession.)   Then it moved to the bedroom and getting seasonal quilts for the bed.  More recently it has been areas in the house that get a small make over for the season or holiday.  I'm hoping to work my creative intention for 2018 into some simple home decor projects - I have a list.  

All of that brings me to here.  Decorating for the season and where to reflect that in my house.  The easiest places to decorate for a given season is my dining room table, my kitchen table and open shelves and my mantle - well and the boxes in my front hall, but I'm having a serious block on what to put in them right now.  I'd love to include my bedroom, outside just changing the quilt, but one step at a time.

For the dining room I had a reproduction tray - I don't need to have an old one, but I'll take the look of it - and added a colored Ball jar (can I just say I can't ever have enough jars - and I've finally picked up a few old ones!) and some real-feel white Tulips from Amazon.  I could do real, but $10 for five stems that won't last very long, I just can't do that.  The ones in my own garden are still sound asleep.  The little doll was Girlie's.  The candles are obviously not real, but I like their look and they are on timers, so they provide a nice soft glow after dark.  I initially got them for Christmas, and liked them so much I needed to find a way to use them all year.

The mantle is always a challenge.  The room is tall.  The mantle is all dry walled, which I have always disliked.  A lot.  I have finally come up with a plan for it, and the wall above it, but it will require hubby, some reclaimed wood and a weekend.  For now though, I like to keep it colorful.

I saw someone's post on Instagram where they mixed a couple pieces of copper (they were copper stemless wine glasses) and ironstone - and I loved it immediately.  Copper is another thing I've always been drawn to; I like its warmth.  I had a small ironstone pitcher, and the two cracked green pitchers were my grandmother's.  The large green glass jar was a Target Dollar Spot find.  The large copper pitcher was a Marshall's find, and it was on clearance.  The vintage copper luster ware pitcher was an antique find, that required little thought on whether or not to purchase it.  It needed me.  Besides the color, I love the painted flowers around it, which are also dimensional.

A little shuffling and before I know it, there's a touch of Spring and a nod to St. Patrick's day in my house!

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

We Are

It's been a quiet week.  Quieter than it should be given there are things to do.  Spring Break is looming, with the 19 y.o. coming home at the end of this week.  Then next week, the 17 y.o. leaves for Spain for his Spring Break, which is the following week.  Then we have the 9 y.o.'s Break the week after that.  Nice that they can all be at the same time, you know, so we could maybe do something.  As a family.  

  • Daylight Savings Time kicks us all, but I have to say I love the longer light.  Even if it means summer will be here soon.  #ihatesummer
  • This pup celebrated her 7th birthday with a scoop of peanut butter.  We get asked how old she is because she's already going white in the face, but it's a breed thing to whiten early.
  • Nope, not me on the sewing machine.  Girlie is taking it over this week.
  • I love that she just goes for it.
  • Her finished piece is amazing.  You'd think she screen printed it, but she hand drew it.  I'll need to get a pic when it's all finished.
  • The Girlie and The Boy - she's found someone to hold her hand. 
  • Given she's in health care, and she's on a difficult floor, I think it looks pretty good.  I've seen worse.
  • The skies are pretty, but the wind was ridiculous.  Half way into the walk, I wished I'd stayed home and done laps in the house.  For the record, I've been logging steps and meals for over 139 days now.  I'm impressed.  
Happy Wednesday,