Friday, October 14, 2011

Foodie Friday: Breakfast to Go!

Seems on some school mornings we are in such a rush.  Noah has drumline practice 2-3 mornings a week at 7 a.m., so those days he eats breakfast in the car on the way to school.  (our "breakfast in bed tray" gets a good workout in the van, ha)    I always think about what we'll have for breakfast the night before since many school mornings when I have to wake up at 5:45 a.m. (seriously?) I don't want to have to think about it.  Many days I'll just wrap up a bowl of oatmeal or a biscuit with sausage/eggs.   Here are some of the other things that work for us for a filling Breakfast On the Go -

Bacon/Cheddar Muffins: (pictured)  I made these recently and yum, they are good.  They freeze well, too, so you can just pop them in the microwave.  Great with a banana!  As written, they aren't that spicy, so don't be afraid of the cayenne.

Breakfast Quesadillas:   These are fun since you can put almost anything in them.  Just throw a flour tortilla in a non-stick pan heated on medium heat.  Top with a little grated cheese, scrambled eggs, a bacon slice or two, and finish with a little more cheese (helps the top tortilla "stick") and the second tortilla.  Heat on both sides until the cheese melts.  Other versions - peanut butter, sliced bananas and a little granola;   light cream cheese, strawberries, and bananas;  scrambled eggs, diced deli ham, shredded cheese.   Lots of combos!

French Toast Sticks:   Just make your favorite french toast, but make it with really thick bread slices.  Instead of using the whole slice of bread, slice them into big sticks.  Prepare as you normally would.  If you want to freeze them, just flash freeze them on a cookie sheet first, then throw them all in a freezer bag together.  Heat them in a microwave when you are ready to eat.   Put the syrup in a dixie cup to take it with you for dipping! :)

What other things do you like to make for on the go breakfasts?  
Have a wonderful weekend, blog friends!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Make it Mondays: Layered Fabric Flowers

Many times when I want an embellishment for a project, I'm thinking, "how can I just make one?" I'm not much of a buyer of expensive packaged embellishments that go with paper lines.  Although I love them, I have a hard time paying $6-7 for a few flowers or fancy buttons.   So, today I thought I'd show you how I make some easy layered fabric flower embellishments.

For this flower, I started off with some simple fabric circles in different patterns and textures.  I LOVE burlap.  Love it.  And linen.  So including those two is always fun.  I also have some fleece in there, a textured thin fabric, and a nice Heather Bailey bold print.   I hand cut the circles without measuring.  I'm not much of an exact measurement person, so if it makes you uncomfortable...just measure. :)
Once you have your circles cut, layer them in the order you'd like for them to be in the flower.  Once stacked, take them apart again and cut them so each new circle is a little smaller than the one under it, as pictured.   Totally love that the burlap starts fraying, too.  ♥

You can choose a button, brooch, or any little something to go in the middle of the flower, if you like.

 Now here you can see how these fabrics, just pulled from my stash, will go perfectly with the Farmhouse line by Crate Paper, which I absolutely adore.   Naturals go with just about anything, so always have those on hand.  Then I chose a few bold colors to pull out of the papers (orange and blue).  They don't have to go perfectly, but when you match the bolds, it just works.   Aren't those colors great?
 But what if I want a little more dimension to my flower?  Want it to stand up a bit?   Or want to tone down the colors and just use one good texture?   Here I show how you can cut the circle into "petals," fold every other petal inward, and now you have a flower with dimension in the middle, lots of texture, and it goes with just about anything.  You would just attach the button with thread, which will also secure all of the folded petals.
 Cutting all of the circles into petal strips and then layering them back together creates even more dimension.

What if I want it to be a little more grungy or vintage?   That fabric is just too clean and simple for some. :)

 Simply rub some ink onto the fabrics, and if you're lucky, the edges will fray a bit, adding even more "age" and texture.

But the flower lays too "flat" for you?  Then just use the pinch and staple method of adding height. I simply pinch the middle of the flower into a little fold and staple it together.  It doesn't lay flat anymore in the middle and actually stands up on one end a bit.  That's ok, because when you layer your flowers back together, this will give it height.

The result is a really beautiful, layered flower with so many possibilities for your projects.   Use them on your scrapbook pages or on a hair clip.  Sew them onto a strip of fabric for napkin rings at Thanksgiving.   Make 30 of them and put them together on a wreath for your holiday door.  Adorn the top of a birthday gift box.

The next time you are near your local fabric store, purchase some fabrics to have in your stash - burlap, linen, and bright bold prints in your favorite colors and textures.   You'll be glad to have them on hand!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Foodie Friday: Game Day Appetizers

I love this time of year.   Nothing better than Longhorn Football!  I'd love to have a couple of game watching parties this year.  If we do, we'll probably be serving something on this list...some of our favorite appetizer recipes!

Pioneer Woman's Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeños -  I could eat 20 of these, seriously.  Be sure to bake them on a rack so the bacon cooks all the way around.  Undercooked bacon is gross.

Hot Corn Dip - I saw Trisha Yearwood with this dip (from her cookbook) on The View and thought it looked great.  I made it once and it was delicious, just a little too "greasy."  I'd definitely make it again, just use less mayo.

Ina's Guacamole - Mmmmm, this is the best kind of guacamole because it is chunky and has plenty of garlic and lime.  (I sub lime for the lemon)  A meal in itself!

Southwestern Eggrolls - Made these for New Year's Eve two years in a row and they are DEE-licious.

Sloppy Joe Sliders - Below is a recipe for homemade sloppy joes that I've been using for years.  Just make a big batch and serve them in a crock pot on slider buns.  Don't forget the pickles and tabasco.

Homemade Sloppy Joes
2 lbs. lean ground beef
½ 1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 can Campbell’s tomato soup (undiluted)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 & 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp. mustard
1/2 Tbsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
8 hamburger buns
In a large saucepan or pot, brown the beef and onion over medium heat. Add green pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes until meat is crumbly and browned; drain on a paper towel and return to pot. Add the next 9 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve on buns. Makes 8 large servings.  (or put meat in a crockpot and keep warm on low)

Be sure to balance out your appetizers with some fresh fruit and veggies. :D
Everyone have a wonderful weekend....and HOOK 'EM HORNS!    BEAT OU!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Whatever Wednesdays: Halloween Decor

Halloween and some Fall decór went up yesterday.  O Happy day!   I love the colors this time of year.   They just make the house so warm and cozy.  

I'm not one to completely cover the entire house in decorations.  Instead, I have a few set places around the main living area downstairs that I always decorate and change out with the seasons/holidays.  I place things together into a little area to draw attention to the grouping rather than covering a room with items.   I thought I'd show you a few of the things I did yesterday in our home.  Above is what I put on an antique china cabinet in the living room that holds our movies.  There's an old frame, a spray of fall greenery, some chenille pumpkins, a burlap "Happy Halloween" sign and the curio cabinet project that I just taught last weekend. :)   The light behind the spooky lady portrait will stay on all the time as will the battery-operated candle.  It's nice when the sun goes down and the lights are glowing in the living room at night.

Here are a few things I put on the back of the piano in the entryway.  Just a little more Halloween-focused since you see it right as you come in.  The pumpkin light will stay on all the time as a nightlight.  I love it because it flickers.
I got the "Save the Date" plaque at Marshall's last year as well as the apothecary poison bottle in the kitchen hutch photo below.  Marshall's has a lot of fun Halloween decor for great prices!
 This is the hutch in our breakfast room, right next to where we eat in the kitchen.   I just clear it out each season and fill it up.  The "Happy Halloween" is actually a felt banner.  I cut it apart into two pieces and used two-sided tape to adhere it to the shelf edges.  I liked it better than it hanging up.

 A really fun thing to look for when you want some decor are greeting cards!   This Happy Halloween card is a greeting card with a ghostly looking old couple, made to look vintage... and it has sparkly orange glitter on it.

For our mantle this year, I put an old window as the center.  I've had this a really long time and had put some rub-ons on it a long time ago.  (you can see them in one of the panes)  On the mantle, I've draped some fall leaf garlands and some grey mesh draping (Dollar Tree).   The crow is really heavy and metal. Two two black glitter tree cut-outs were only $1 each...from Dollar Tree.  I love these!   They also have chandeliers and candleabras.  Very fun!   The light up plastic pumpkin is very old and one of my favorite Halloween decorations.  Reminds me of when I was little.  :)

And that's it!   I have a simple fall berry wreath on the front door and will probably add some pumpkins and things out there later on when the weather gets cooler.   Thanks for coming by my blog! :)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Make Something Mondays: Video Tutorial

Hi, friends!    I have posted before on how to dye the bottle brush trees, but today I made a video so you can see the actual steps!   It's very easy and fun to do.  We dyed trees in my Halloween curio cabinet class on Saturday and this is exactly the process we used.

If you'd like to make the cabinet, I have listed the detailed PDF of the project on Etsy!   (see my left sidebar for the link)   Enjoy the video!  :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Foodie Friday: recent recipe links

Happy Friday!  I thought for today I'd share links to some new recipes I've tried and give you our honest reviews.   That's one of the things I love about finding recipes online is that many of them are from sites with a review system, where readers can give their opinions on the recipe. you go!

Ina Garten's Weeknight Bolognese (pictured)- This was really delicious!   I'm not a huge fan of too much oregano flavor in recipes, so I put a tiny bit less than what she used.  Also, I used 1/2 and 1/2 instead of heavy cream and it was just fine and didn't take away from the creaminess at all.

Grilled Chicken Sliders w/Apricot Chutney (pictured) - One of our favorite recent recipes.   Just yummy.   I used my grill pan to cook the chicken and the peaches (couldn't find apricots at the store).  And I cooked the chicken more than 5 minutes on each side.   I'm very wary of undercooked chicken, so I start off with the pan hot to give it a sear, but then cook it longer and a bit slower for the rest of the time.  I wish that I had done the chutney on just a few pulses and left it a little chunkier, just because I think the texture would have added a little extra oomph to it.   But the tastes in this recipe are amazing..and it's light!

Pioneer Woman's Breakfast Sandwiches -  I love Ree, love her show on Food Network, and I'm sure if I had made these exactly how she made them they would have been drippy, gooey, yummy and completely unhealthy, ha.  I made these one morning before school for Noah and he really liked it.  David did, too, especially since his had the jalapenos on it.  But we used wheat bread (I don't buy white Texas toast, although I love it!) an all-natural sausage, and very little cheese.  You have to make the sausage patties BIG because they really shrink up when cooked and will look like that 80's Wendy's commercial, "where's the beef?" with that little pattie in the middle of the bun. :)   So, we liked them but I think Ree's way they'd be even better.

Guittard Chocolate Chip Cookies - Ok, these aren't new to us, but I did make some last week.  It's really hard to beat Guittard chocolate chips!   They aren't waxy or artificial tasting, which I find unappealing about many brands of chocolate chips.  Oh, and they are completely nut-free, which I know is important to many people with nut allergies.  I like to add chopped pecans to them and a dash of cinnamon to the batter.  If you don't want to make a whole batch, make one pan and then make a bunch of dough balls, freeze them on a sheet pan where they aren't touching each other, then when frozen you can put them all in a ziploc freezer bag to use later.  Warm, fresh cookies anytime!

What new recipes have you tried lately?    Have a wonderful weekend, friends. :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Whatever Wednesdays: Music Talk

Good morning!

Probably anyone who knows me knows that I love Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, and any of the old standards singers.  Tony Bennett released his Duets2 album last week and it's so wonderful.   He sings The Lady Is a Tramp with Lady Gaga, and she is amazing!    He recorded the duet with Amy Winehouse just four months before she died.  Her voice is so unique.  And of course, a duet with Michael Bublé is one of my favorites.   They are all so good..I highly recommend getting this.  Listen to some previews on Itunes here!

Some other music I've been previewing on Itunes.  Let me know if you have purchased any of it or have any feedback:

Switchfoot: Vice Verses - Always looking for positive music for Noah to listen to that is also good music.   He's joined the drumline at school so he's getting more and more into music.  Switchfoot has some good, alternative-stylish stuff and this album just came out.  Considering it.

Neon Indian:  I think it's funny how so many bands now have that "80's techno" sound.  I saw Neon Indian perform on Jimmy Fallon (video below) and thought they were fun!  I don't know that I'd listen to the entire album, but I sure liked this song.  They were fun to watch!

Ghostland Observatory: Codename: Rondo - Speaking of techno music...these guys are fun!   I only have one of their albums, but I love it.   Some good tunes on this one, too.   They have a huge following in Austin and David and I want to go see them live.  He went to their ACL Music Festival concert and said it was one of the best times he's ever had!   They had the University of TX marching band on stage with them.  HA, love it!  Here's a video of that:

What music have you discovered lately or what are you favorite stand-by artists?  
Go have a GREAT day!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Haunted Curio Cabinet: Kits For Sale

In less than two weeks I'll be teaching my Haunted Curio Cabinet class in Waco at Crop, Paper, Scissors.  If you are in the area, I'd LOVE for you to sign up and join us.  The Halloween mood will definitely be in the air and we'll spend 3 hours creating this piece for your home Halloween decor.  It's gonna be creepy fun!   Just call the store to register.

If you aren't able to join us for class or live out of town/state, I will have some project kits for sale!   Most of what you need to create the kit will be included, along with detailed instructions and photos emailed to you.  I will be mailing kits the week of October 3rd, after the class in Waco is completed.   If you'd like to order a kit, the details are below:

The Haunted Curio Cabinet
by Jennifer Stewart

It's Halloween, the moon is bright,

The skeletons are out tonight..
Trick or treaters all around,
Spooky creatures can be found!
Make your Halloween decor extra spooky this year with this Haunted Curio Cabinet!   The 12" piece has a glass door and lots of nooks and crannies that we'll fill with plenty of creepy Halloween goodies.   You'll learn lots of new techniques as well, including custom-dyed bottle brush trees, creating dimension, and even a lighted lady portrait.  (yes, I do believe her eyes are glowing!)  

What will you will need at home: Paper trimmer, ruler, pencil, good scissors (micro tip, if possible), strong clear-drying liquid glue, Xacto knife, brown and black inkpads (in as many shades as you like), paint brush, bleach, two bowls, rubber/disposable gloves, paper plates, sandpaper, and pliers.  EVERYTHING else is provided in your kit!

KITS are $38, including shipping (U.S. only).   
I will ship your kit the week of October 3rd.  

Reserve your kit now!
****SOLD OUT!!*****  

Thanks so much and email me if you have any questions!   (Jenyfer28 at aol dot com)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Organizing with divided baskets

I have always loved this basket because it's flat, wide, and has divided spaces.   I got it at Target a few years ago and have used it for many different things.  Today I started a redo of my craft room and now this basket holds seam binding and lace, both rolls and loose pieces.   The colors are inspiring and having it in view helps me use it.  By the get this seam binding by the roll, go to  It's $7.50 for 100 yards!   And good luck deciding which ones you want...there are so many beautiful colors!

I'll share more storage and room photos as I go!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Make-It Mondays: The Haunted Curio Cabinet

I absolutely LOVE Halloween!   We don't do the weird, gory, really awful stuff....just the fun with a little creepy. :) I have several Halloween decor pieces that I've made over the years and now I've created a new one that I'll be teaching as a class! (click on the photo for a larger view)

The Haunted Curio Cabinet
Saturday, October 1st 2-5pm
Crop, Paper, Scissors in Waco, TX

Class Description and supplies:

It's Halloween, the moon is bright,
The skeletons are out tonight..
Trick or treaters all around,
Spooky creatures can be found!
Make your Halloween decor extra spooky this year with this Haunted Curio Cabinet!   The 12" piece has a glass door and lots of nooks and crannies that we'll fill with plenty of creepy Halloween goodies.   You'll learn lots of new techniques as well, including custom-dyed bottle brush trees, creating dimension, and even a lighted lady portrait.  (yes, I do believe her eyes are glowing!)  Come join me for an afternoon of eerie fun!

Students need to bring to class:  Paper trimmer, ruler, pencil, good scissors (micro tip, if possible), strong clear-drying liquid glue, Xacto knife, brown and black inkpads (in as many shades as you like).  EVERYTHING else is provided!

Come join me for this fun class!   You can sign up by calling the store (  Hurry because space is limited!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Foodie Friday: Individual Chicken Pot Pies

(sorry this post is late!)  One of my favorite meals to make is chicken pot pie, the ultimate comfort food.  Usually I make one large one in an oval baking dish, but recently I made 6 individual ones..and it was fun!   I do have to let you know now, though...this is NOT an uncomplicated, finish in 30 minutes recipe.   None of it is hard to do, but it just takes time and has a lot of steps.  But a really great thing is that these freeze so well.  You could make a bunch at once, freeze them, and have pot pies ready to bake that are 1000 times better than Swanson's or Marie Callender's!

The first photo at the top shows the filling items that go in the chicken pot pies.  I kept everything separated because each of the individual pies had different filling choices.  I made these for some picky nephews, so I let them tell me which of the fillings they'd like in their pies - a lot easier than picking out what they don't want to eat.   I roasted different veggies (biased sliced carrots, potato chunks, halved mushrooms), chicken breasts, and then had bags of frozen peas and corn.    After the veggies and chicken were all finished roasting, I put them in one pan together.  (I did not cook them this need much more room than this)   I also made a recipe for a double pie crust.  If you want to use store-bought, that is just fine and it will work.  But homemade butter pie crust is really easy to make in a food processor and tastes so, so good.   I sprayed each of the little pie tins with non-stick spray then cut out a little disk of dough to put in the bottom of the pan.  You could line the entire pie pan with crust if you like, but these were small and I wanted to be able to put a lot of filling in them.   Cut around the upside pan edge with a knife for the top crust.   Put the disc of crust in the pan, fill with the liquid filling and filling veggies/chicken of your choice, then finish with the top crust, pressing down crust edges with your fingers or a fork.   (photo shows Jack's pie...he only wanted chicken, corn and potatoes)  You must have vent holes in the top of the crust so the pie doesn't explode, so you might as well make it fun with a happy face.  :)   You could also do initials, a heart, anything!

Of course, I forgot to take a baked pot pie photo, but they are really beautiful with a nice flaky crust.  Just picture that. :)   If you are going to freeze them, just wrap in tight foil and freeze the unbaked pies.

Other filling ideas - frozen green beans, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli florets (small), or any frozen veggies you like.

Enjoy...and try it with fruit pies, too!   It's fun for everyone to have his/her own pie for dinner. :)

Recipe follows...

Jennifer's Chicken Pot Pie
6 Tbsp. butter
1 c. onion, chopped
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms (optional, but so good)
6 Tbsp. flour
2 c. chicken stock  
1 c. half and half (or whole milk to make it lighter)
2 medium potatoes, skinned, chunked and roasted6-8 carrots, peeled, chunked, and roasted1 c. frozen peas
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, roasted then shredded2 Tbsp. parsley
1 recipe for a double pie crust
salt, pepper, rosemary, sage to taste

extra virgin olive oil
1 egg + 1 Tbsp. water (for eggwash)

Make your pie crusts following recipe above, making sure EVERYTHING is very cold.  I even freeze the butter after I cut it into cubes and will put the flour in the freezer as well.   The colder everything is, the flakier your crust will be.  

Spray a couple of glass baking dishes with non-stick spray.  (or use non-stick cookie sheets and don't spray them)   Dish 1 - lay your chicken breasts down and sprinkle with kosher salt, cracked pepper, drizzled olive oil, and a dash of rosemary and sage.  Pick up and rub the chicken breasts so that they are coated with all ingredients on both sides.   Dish 2 - toss the chunked carrots and potatoes with kosher salt, cracked pepper, drizzled olive oil and a small dash of rosemary.  (a little rosemary goes a long way, so don't over do it)    Bake (roast) at 375-400 until chicken browns and vegetables start to brown.   Set dishes aside.  When the chicken is cool enough, shred it and return to dish.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a large, deep baking dish or at least 6 small pie tins. In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the onions and mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes, until onions are soft and mushrooms start to brown a little.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the flour with a whisk and cook for about 3-4 minutes for a blond roux.  Mixture will look like a paste.  Stir in the chicken stock and bring the liquid up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken. Stir in the half and half (or milk) and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Line the baking pan with one of the crusts or follow directions above for small pie tins/crusts. Ladle the liquid filling into the pan(s), then add the fillings of your choice (chicken, potatoes, carrots, peas, corn). Place the top crust on top of the filled pie(s). Carefully tuck the overlapping crust into the pan and crimp the edges of the crust.  Poke a few vent holes in the top of each pie.  Mix 1 egg with a tablespoon of water and brush the eggwash over the top of crusts.  Place pie(s) on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.  Yum!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Make Something Monday: Crepe Ruffles

I recently taught a really fun Kitschy Christmas Wreath class for a Christmas in July event at Crop, Paper, Scissors. It was SO MUCH FUN. Seeing everyone make all of the little elements on the wreath and then put it all together was so inspiring! I taught the ladies how to make all of the paper elements for the wreath and then everyone worked independently to put their wreaths together. One of the things we learned how to make were the crepe ruffles, like the one you see behind the green pleated circle. I've seen these made so many different ways, but the method I used was great because there is no drying time involved, so we were able to use the ruffles immediately on the wreaths.
For the ruffles, you just need a regular stapler and some crepe paper rolls like you'd find in the party section. You know...streamers! Simply take a length of crepe paper (any length is fine since you can add to it or trim it shorter later) and follow this pattern – gather, gather, gather, staple. You'll start at one end of the crepe paper and keep folding the long end back onto the shorter end, making small gathers/pleats, holding together at the bottom with your thumb and index finger. Once you have a small section of pleats held down with your thumb (as shown), slide your stapler into the middle and staple all of the pleats together. If it doesn't hold, do another staple. You won't see the staples in the finished product since you'll be covering them up. Continue to gather and staple in a circle pattern until you get back around to the start of the crepe paper. If you have too much crepe left, just trim off the end. If you don't finish the circle and need more, simply start a new ruffle and then staple the two together into one circle. Keep all of your staples in the middle. Fluff up the outer edges and you now have a pretty crepe paper ruffle! Using a stapler for this is great because it has a strong hold and you don't have to wait for any messy glue to dry.

I recently listed some Halloween project PDF in my Etsy Shop...just $2 each! I will email you multi-page, multi-photo PDFs to print with downloadable elements, detailed instructions, and even a complete product list so you'll know what I used on my project....or use what you already have in your own stash!

Thanks for visiting my blog today! Have you ever made crepe ruffles?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Foodie Friday: Ditch the Packet

We love our tacos around here! Probably once every week or two I make beef tacos on soft corn tortillas and we pile them with lettuce, tomatoes, diced avocado...all the good stuff. But they are made even BETTER by using homemade taco seasoning! You are probably thinking, "whatever, Jennifer....the stuff in the packet is so much easier." Yeah, probably, but it's more expensive than homemade and it is completely packed with too much salt. Once you try this mixture made with spices you probably already have in your pantry, you'll never go back! One recipe seasons 1 lb. of ground beef. You can also control the heat by using less crushed red pepper and control the smokiness by cutting back on the cumin. Completely your choice. Try it the original way one time, though. You'll love it. Happy Friday!

Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and sprinkle over 1 lb. ground beef. Add 2/3 cup of water and stir. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let Them Choose

Last weekend was the final one before school started for Noah and we wanted to do something fun. So we headed for San Antonio! We spent two nights at the Embassy Suites, all day Saturday at Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park (thank the Lord for the water park area), and Sunday at Malibu Grand Prix, riding go karts and playing mini golf and video games. We let Noah have a vote in all of the restaurants choices, he pretty much decided which ride was next at the park, and we didn't leave the fun until he said he was ready. When we got to our hotel room the first night and he saw the room service menu, he said, "can we please order something? Please, please??" We are the it's cheaper and faster to go down to the restaurant people, but that night we said, "sure!" He was thrilled to have a huge piece of Outrageous Chocolate Cake delivered to our door on a tray with a silver cover. All of these things seem so simple to us as adults, but to a tween kid, they are things he'll remember for a long time.

Splurge, do something out of the ordinary, let your kids decide for you. It was great fun. :)

Make Something Monday: Stitches and Words

Sometimes it's hard to find just the right embellishment for a page or project. I love stitching and I love single words, so creating my own little page accents is super simple.

Stitching: Embroidery floss is so cheap and comes in literally hundreds of colors. Just grab your favorite color and a needle. Find where you want your embellishment to be on your page. Using the needle, poke holes thru the background paper in an evenly-spaced pattern in whatever shape you desire. Pictured here is a heart, but the possibilities are endless. You could even use a chipboard shape as a template. Or how about poking your stitching holes around some big chipboard alphabet letters? You could make a stitched title right on your page. So...thread your floss (I use all 6 strands so it's thick) and coming up from the back of the page, stitch back and forth thru the poked holes. Cut thread and tie off into a knot on the back when you are finished. And there you go...stitched embellishment in your choice of color, size, and placement!

Words: Little words placed on a photo or inside of an embellishment are nice little accents to a page. You can make your own by simply finding a font you like, typing up a page of words you want, and printing the page on heavy cardstock. (I love this site for new fonts) Cut the words apart and they are ready to use. I like to put the little words in jars for storage so I can see them....and it looks cute. :) Try using a theme for your words - Halloween, baby, love, family, etc. I'll get you started with a page of School words here. Just print and cut apart! Note: In Word (doc) format you have to have the fonts installed on your computer for them to print correctly, therefore I saved this in PDF format so the fonts would show up when you print them.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Foodie Friday: For the Love of My Grill Pan

Outdoor grilling is great, but the heat we've been having in TX, who wants to stand outside over a flaming grill? It's not going to be me, that's for sure.

I've been getting a lot of use out of my Calphalon Grill Pan this summer! Simply marinating our dinner meat all day in the fridge and grilling it up right before we eat sure makes dinnertime easier. (and healthier!) It's easy to find marinade recipes online and it kind of forces you to do early dinner prep. A big bonus on busy days!

Some of our favorites from this summer are Tyler's Fajitas (even better than a restaurant!), Tequila Lime Chicken, and BBQ Roasted Salmon (I grill instead of baking). You can even brush the grill with a little butter and grill up some fresh peaches or pineapple slices with some brown sugar and cinnamon for dessert. (great over vanilla bean ice cream or just by themselves!)

I hope this inspires you to grill indoors and try some new flavors!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday: Piles and Piles of Junk Mail

I remember when I first moved into the dorm at University of TX and how cool I thought it was to get mail. Any mail! It was fun to see my name on the label...almost like a contest to see who would walk back to the room with the biggest stack. Now? Not so much. I detest junk mail. I'm not the world's biggest tree hugger, but when I go thru the day's mail and throw away 98% of it? Ugh. Catalogs, coupons, unsolicited advertisements, "please come back to us" pleading letters.... it's too much.

So, yesterday I sat down with a huge pile of collected junk mail with the intention of getting our name OFF of each and every one of their lists. Most of the ads and catalogs were for companies where we had purchased something one time. But that one time gets you on their forever mailing (and emailing) list. Also, if you've ever left a company for another, they will forever bombard you with letters that offer something better. (thank you, GEICO and AT&T)

If you look on the back of some of the junk mail, it will list a phone number to call to be removed from the mailing list. Those were easy enough. But some of them don't have any information, so for those I headed to their company website. Look for the Customer Service or Contact Us links. Most of the time, this is where I either found an email address, an 800-number, or a form to fill out to remove ourselves from the mailing list. Funny, the hardest one to find was for Rack Room Shoes! I bought one pair of shoes there years ago and get frequent flyers from them. There was not a contact number or email address anywhere. I ended up accidentally calling the director of copyright infringement, ha. They had his personal phone number on the website...weird. I just told him, "oh, sorry, wrong number" as I didn't think he'd be the person to ask to remove our address. :D

It took about an hour, but after I was done it felt great to know that in a few months I shouldn't be pulling piles of ads out of the mailbox. The beginning of a new school year always gets me in "clean out" mode, so this mission definitely made me happy! Have you cleared out what you receive in the mail yet? If so, have you noticed a difference?

Thanks for coming to my blog today. :)