Monday, September 29, 2008

Decorating-Edible Arrangments

I love a pretty centerpiece...and I especially love the ones that are also edible! I bought this bag of apples at Sam's and just threw them in this beautiful red bowl and VOILA! Its a lovely arrangement to display...not to mention I can easily grab one on my way out the door.

I am typically a green apple kind of girl, Granny Smith to be exact, but my husband wanted red so here you go. This would look nice mixed with green apples or even lemons or any other bright colored fruit.

Since I am doing this boot camp fitness camp, our nutrition lessons tell us to eat 5 meals a day, basically 3 smaller meals and 2 snacks. Well, your snack needs to have a protein, a crab, and a fat. I like to take one of these apples and snack on it with some slices of good cheese and a few pecans. Apples and peanut butter would also work.

I also really like this way of displaying food because you don't have to make room in your pantry. When we were building our house, we did a custom design and made our pantry 5 feet by 5 feet. (I would have preferred bigger, but that would have taken away from my nice big kitchen...the two biggest rooms in our house are the kitchen and master bedroom, the master bath runs a close 3rd...can you tell where our priorities were? Needless to mention that we didn't have kids yet, although I was going through in vitro) Anyway, our realtor and design consultant kept trying to tell us that we should make that pantry smaller...we said no way and I am so glad we did. There are plenty of times I wish it was bigger. In fact, in my dream home, I have a large room under the stairs that is a hurricane room and a food storage room and a craft fact I want one whole wall full of drawers for me to store stuff...and in my ultimate Utopia, everything is labeled and in its place. Yep, I am one of those girls who wants a label maker for my birthday!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Recipe: The Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup

I made this soup tonight...doesn't it look YUMMY!

This is a take off of Tyler Florence's Ultimate chicken Noodle Soup Recipe. I watched his show on the Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup and decided I would make my own version. This is what I did...

2 small onions diced ( I use sweet yellow onions, like walla walla, or 1015)
10 button mushrooms
1.5 cups of carrots chopped into rounds
3 boxes of low sodium chicken stock
3-4 cups of cooked chicken ( I use white meat)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon of Mrs Dash
1 small bag of cheese tortellini
1 cup of chopped up fresh spinach (frozen would work just fine)
2 Tablespoons of butter

Put butter in large soup pot and melt on high, when almost melted, add onions. Store onions until they are translucent and starting to caramelize on the edges, add carrots, stir and let them cook and caramelize a little as well. Add the mushrooms and stir. Add Salt. pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Add in chicken stock and set to high temperature so it will boil. Add in the chicken and spinach and stir. Once the soup is bubbling, add the tortellini and boil for about 10 minutes (or whatever package says). Add more salt & pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, just add some water or broth until its the consistency you like. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or however long you like. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

I think adding some fresh herbs at the end would also be a nice touch, like some basil, but I didn't have any!

Kitchen Basics--Knives

You know, it is really important to have good knives in your kitchen.

Did you know that most kitchen knife injuries happen with a dull knife? Its because people are trying to force the knife and it ends up cutting them too!
So, I needed a new knife because mine have been getting dull. I will take them to get sharpened here soon but I also needed one of these knives, kind of like the one Rachel Ray uses on her show. I was at Kohl's and they had this on sell. Its about a 4.5 inch blade I believe, so in between a paring knife and a chef's knife...good for most anything medium and small sized. I really like this knife and I love that it is nice and sharp! This was on sale and only like $12.00....I think it was 50% off...they were having a big sale and most things in the store were on sale.
So do your still attached fingers a favor and keep your knives sharpened or save up and get some good quality knives. Watch for sales like this one...this is a Kitchen aid knife so it should be a keeper!

Decorating--Welcome Autumn!

Hello All--

Sorry to be MIA..its been a busy week...well, really 3 weeks and I am ready for September to be OVER! This month has been quite a doozy! Things are now getting back to normal post Hurricane Ike...most of the evacuees have gone home or at least are heading in that general direction. There are still some cities without electricity and Galveston is possibly still months away from getting their full utilities back. Because of this, our university campus in Galveston has shut down for the semester and they have moved those students and faculty up to our campus. this has been a tricky thing to undertake and these poor Galveston students are used to a student population of 1,700 and now they are mixed in with a student population of 46,000. Quite a difference! We are doing what we can to help them get settled but I am sure they are anxious and probably overwhelmed. In fact, today was the first day that they could go down to the island and get on campus to retrieve their belongings. Many of them left with a suitcase or a backpack and left much of their stuff there only to be told that they cannot go back and get it until today. The island itself just opened up this past Wednesday and campus was open today for people to come retrieve their items for something like 6 hours. Luckily, there was not much structure damage done at all to the campus itself, its the fact that the pipeline that provides utilities to the island was severed and you can't have school without those basic things like running water! So anyway, work has been busy handing all of that plus my boot camp is still going strong so I just plain haven't had much time to post. Sorry! I will try to be better!

So anyway...WELCOME AUTUMN! This is one of my favorite times of years...I love all the colors (except that burnt orange color) and the cooler weather is wonderful! I also love football season...even though it brings with it my busiest time at work...I still love the game!

So, its time to pull out those pumpkins and add a little cheer! I am an Autumn/Fall/Harvest type decorator. I really don't do Halloween decorations very much, I go for more of the scarecrow and pumpkin type themes over vampires and bats...but each their own! My sister is the opposite and goes ALL OUT for Halloween...she even has a 7 ft spider that lurks in her yard every year for Halloween.

So, be festive with whatever holiday you prefer and have fun! Places like Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and other craft stores have already begun to mark this stuff down so now is a good time to buy a few things if you need to. I also LOVE to buy the really unusual pumpkins. They orange ones are fine but I really love the white and blue ones and odd shades and specles!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Boot Camp--Continued

Yep--still alive and making it through this Body Boot Camp! Its been great! I am getting used to being sore all the time...but you know its good to know that you were actually doing something healthy! It hard but its fun at the same time! My scale today showed I had lost a pound and a half so I am pleased with that.

I went and bought some of these new fangled worout clothes on Monday...the ones that do the special wicking and are called something like dry-breeze or something....they are way cool! They really do keep you cooler!

Craft-Oatmeal cans to cute container

I love to take ordinary objects and make them into something new and extraordinary! Here is an example. This is just a plain old Quaker Oats Oatmeal can but I took scrap booking paper and my circle and scallop punches and made a super cute container! This would be a fab container for a gift for sometime. You could fit a t-shirt in this, some candy, jewelry, scarp booking supplies...lots and lots of options!

I am one of those people who believes that when you give a gift, the packaging is part of the I think the packaging should be spectacular. To me it shows that I cared enough to make it really special for that person...and my gift wrapping is always noticed and I know it works!

So, anyway, this could be the cutest little pencil or marker holder ever or whatever you can think up in that beautiful head...but turn a bland old item into something GREAT!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Recipe-Paw Paw's Taters

Now, my mother would tell you the name of this dish is Party Potatoes....but the kids in my family call it Paw Paw Tater's!

Why you ask? Because one year for either Thanksgiving of Christmas, we went to my grandparents house for lunch to have the traditional meal. Well, my grandmother's health had started to deteriorate but that did not stop them from hosting this fabulous dinner. So, what did my wonderful grandfather do??? He made everything HIMSELF! Now, I am not shy to tell you that I have NEVER seen my Paw Paw in the kitchen, much less the fact that he went to the effort to prepare almost the entire meal is just astounding to me...and to top it was UBER YUMMY! Really, my dear old Paw Paw made a feast for the ages....and Paw Paw's Taters were born!

Its simple....

Pretend like you are going to make regular old mashed potatoes (which, by the way, you will never want again after you have them Paw Paw's way). So, take potatoe pearls, potatoe flakes, or actual real potatoes and cook 'em up! Now, all you do is add a block of cream cheese (use Neufchatel if you want 1/3 less fat) and a medium sized container of sour cream (fat free or lite is a-okay as well!) and mix them up with the potatoes. If you are making a wee amount (aka, single or double serving) then use far less this would probably be enough for an 8X12 pan. Now that it is all mixed and fabulous...add salt and pepper to taste and then put in the dish and spread out. Now top with some pats of butter and sprinkle with paprika and put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It is SO YUM! In fact, I may need to run home and make some tonight! (By the way, I know I spell Potato(e) the old fashined way, but I just like it better that way!)

I also have started adding about a tablespoon of Mrs. Dash when I am mixing it together and calling it Herb Party Potatoes (in the formal setting) or just Herb Paw Paw's Taters.

Other variations....
add some shredded cheese for Cheesy Taters
add some mashed sweet potatoes for Potatoe Delight Taters
add some bacon bits, cheese and chives for Twice Baked Taters
really, the possibilities are ENDLESS!

I will try to make the above mentioned dish and post a pic soon!

UPDATED TO ADD--Add Butter too! I usually put a few pats of butter on the top before I bake it! (Thanks Linz)

Cooking Tips-What the heck do you do with plain yogurt?

I admit...I am cheating a little on this one....I found this link and just want to share, I thought these were some great ideas. This is from The Pioneer Woman web is a page that I love and wanted to share. You can check out these tips for how to use plain yogurt and also check out her recipes....she has GREAT recipes and shows pictures and gives full instruction. She is the arsenal you want to have in your back pocket when you need a good recipe.

I always buy plain yogart for a specific recipe and then don't use it all and it just sits there unless I throw it in a smoothie or something. She has the same issues so I thought her ideas were great!

So, I hope you enjoy her and her sense of humor as much as I do...

Here is the link for the plain yogurt

And here is the Main Cooking Page of The Pioneer Woman


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Update--Body Boot Camp

Well, its day 2 after the first time I went to Body Boot Camp. Am I betcha! I worked out just a little bit last night and did a good 45 minute work out tonight. I think I am going to try to go to the boot camp again on Monday. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful between me and exercising!

I already feel better and the soreness reminds me that I actually did something and that there are muscles under those layers of infertility! Some people have to work off their "baby weight" after having a baby--for my that was no problem, I lost that quickly (but I was also Gestational Diabetic so I was on a strict diet and only gained 16 pounds at 33 weeks, after that I got pre-eclampsia and gained a bunch of water weight but that left after my son was born). Anyway---I digree...I had 6 years of infertility treatments and drugs that make you fat and bloated...I still have clung onto those pounds but I have decided to sever that relationship for good and say So Long, Farewell, Adieu, and Au Revior to those pounds!

Now---off to bed, hopefully!

Craft-Lunch bag Scrapbook-an new one

Yep--Still awake!

Here is another lunch bag scrapbook that I did, I took pictures this time before I gave it away. This is one we will be doing for our super craft day our church. I mainly used Bella Rose Designer Paper from Stampin Up and then just a few accents here and there. Its not overly fancy because...well, it was after midnight and I think my fancy juices just plain ran out! But anyway, I needed to get it done so it could go on display tomorrow at church, so its done for now. There will also be a more "boyish" version where I will use Muirfield Designer Series Paper from SU and that will replace the reds and pinks with blues and greens.

This is the cover

One layout--it is supposed to look like presents/gifts and you can put your picture in the middle or journal.
Another layout..have you noticed I love the color chocolate chip?
I think these colors are tres cute!
Just cut the paper in a diagonal and voila! (See, I told you my creative juices were running low)
And the back cover...

I wanted it to be Christmas-y for those who wanted to use it for Christmas but also versatile enough that it could be used for something else. Was I successful? Well, I think so but like I said, its 2 am...what do I know?! I may totally hate it by sunrise!

Organizing-Scrapbook Bag

Hello Friends--Its 1:55am and I cannot sleep...must have been the guilt from not having blogged in 2 days! Really, its probably because I fell asleep on the couch from 5:30p-7:30pm...nothing like a good nap to get you ready for bed! Anyway...its football season which is my busiest time at work and today was a football Saturday (we lost an abysmal game...very depressing!) so I was at work most of the first half of the day. Anyway---that is my excuse for not sorry!

So anyway...down to business...This is a bag I just got today for my birthday (my birthday was a few weeks ago but this was a late arriving present). I LOVE it! Its a bag for organizing stuff....the purpose of it is for scrap booking but I am going to use it for my church bag as well because I love all the compartments and there is a perfect pocket for my lesson manual for my Primary class. Plus, I usually have a little craft for my class and this makes it perfect to tote that stuff around too. I will post a picture tomorrow of the craft we do, its nothing earth shattering but its still cute and they really like to do the little, I admit that it is total bribery, because they know that if they do not behave in class then they don't get to do a craft. That is probably morally wrong...but I don't care.

Anyway--here is my new bag!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Home Decor--Wall Art Part 2

Hello People!
I just added some new wall art and I thought I would share. Its one of the vinyl designs that you just rub on. This particular one is from Stampin Up Decor and it is the Long Stemmed Silhouete Medium Sized It is a simple addition but I really like it. I may buy the larger sized one and put it next to it. This wall is in my bathroom on the wall that I face when I take a bath. So, after I have starred at it for a while then I will figure out what else I will add to it. I am pretty excited about it! I also think I am going to buy some of these wall decor things and put them on my fridge. I have a black fridge and I think some white swirley things would look tres chic!

Fitness--Boot Camp

While I think exercise is important, I don't do it nearly fact, if you looked at me you might not think I work out at all....and you would be right a lot of the time. I go through phases where I am really good and then I have the stage that I have been in for about 2 years....did I mention my son is 2 years old?

So, my friend Angie is doing a Fitness Boot Camp. Its a month long program where you work out 5 days a week for a month with these fitness gurus and you get in shape and learn about nutrition and all this good stuff. She can invite a friend for free so I am her friend tonight. I am really interested in doing this, I am just not sure I can swing it with my schedule but I am going to try. Its a little pricey but if it gets me off my hiney and jump starts so good fitness, it will be worth it! Plus, if I do it with friends, I think it will be more of a motivation to actually go. Plus, for every class you miss you have to do 20 push ups or something....did I mention I hate push ups? The classes are at 5:30am and 5:30pm, so I am trying to work my schedule where I can do one of those. We will see!

So, I am going to go here in a little while and expereince this boot camp....I am thinking it is something like Biggest Loser without living there, so we will see!

So, let's get fit! I want my outside to match my beautiful insides!


UPDATE 11:30 pm

Well I went and had a good time. I am sure I will be sore tomorrow since I haven't really worked out much lately I mean in forever. We did basic things, it was at a park and the weather lately (since Hurricane Ike left) has been lovely so it was a pleasnat time. I cannot imagine doing this in August in Texas at 5pm...that is like...scorching hot and humid time!

Anyway, for warm up we went up and down an incline/hill at the ampitheatre at the park. We did high knee jogs, lungs, hurdle leg thingies, and such both up and down the this point I was already a little out of breath! Then we did some tricep ppush up things on a park bench and squats, then we did some weights with our exercises, then we did abs and then cooled down. It was a good workout and I thought it was a painful kind of way...but hey, it got the old ticker going and made me feel good...gotta love endorphins! my friend and I are thinking we could do this with a group of church friends. It would be cheaper and more fun since we would be with friends. We could take turns leading it, develop friendships, and get in a good workout all at once.

So, get off your tushy and do something good for your body! I know that I feel great and when I am sire tomorrow I will know that I was doing something good and that I should continue!

If you have an exercise group with your lady friends, let me know how it works and how you coordinate it. I am all ears!

Good night!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Food--Cucumber Water

I was at this fancy shmancy place the other day and at the "water bar" you had your choice of what to put in your water...lemons, limes, oranges, or cucumbers?! I had never seen oranges or cucumbers so I gave the old cucmber water a try....I don't generally like cucumbers that much but they are refreshming and I really liked them in my water. So, when I was at the store this week, I bought me some English cucumbers so now I can be fancy shmancy at home whenever I want. Give it a try, you may be surprised!

Cooking--Dinner in 12 minutes

Tonight I decided to use these bags that I saw on "The Biggest Loser" last season. We bought some on sale at the store and I had yet to use them. Well, my husband had to go out to one of his old farms to help a friend out so it was just me and my son for dinner. I wasn't in the mood to slave over anything so I thought I would give these a try. Seriously, dinner was ready and good in 12 minutes...I can't even get to a drive thru in that amount of time.
Here is what I did....I took these frozen fish fillets...I just bought this at Sam's so I am sure this or something similar are available elsewhere. I put some Old Bay Seasoning (good on any seafood) on it while its still frozen and some Mrs. Dash and a little salt. (I heard once that pepper can burn in the microwave so I always put pepper on after I cook in the microwave.) Then I put it in the steamer bag and put it in the oven on normal strength for 5 minutes.

While the fish was cooking, I found 2 new potatoes and some red bell peppers, I chopped them up quickly and roughly and put the same seasonings on them and put them in the bag. When the fish was done, it looked like this....
So, I put the veggie bag in for 5 more minutes.....then once it was done I threw a can of green beans in a bowl and microwaved it for 2 minutes...

VOILA! A beautiful and yummy dinner!

I just added on a piece of bread and I have to tell you it was good! Way better and healthier than fast food and so easy!!!

The bags even say you can do the same thing to a frozen chicken breast! Wow!

I am telling you, it was good, it looked nice, and it was healthy! You can't beat that with a stick!

Craft or Card Making- Bookmark: Faith is like a Mustard Seed

This is a little bookmark thing that I gave to my Primary Class (10-12 year old girls) a few weeks ago. This uses the whole "faith is like a mustard seed" scripture reference. These bookmarks are super cool because the mustard seeds move around when you shake it. You can do other techniques similar to this one with glitter or beads or whatever. I will try to demo how I did this. It is with another card but you can at least see the goes...

Here are the general supplies...note that on this one I am using salt instead of mustard seeds, I want to give the effect of snow...but you could also reference it to a scripture about salt!
Salt/Mustard Seed/Glitter (Whatever you want to be in there that will move)
Double sided thick tape (green and white)
Super Sticky Thin double sided tape (red roll seen here)
Small piece of acetate or transparency to cover the punch out
Paper (2) whatever size you want the final to be

#1. Take the paper and make the punch. In this case I used a scalloped or flower punch. I thought it kind of went with the snow flake theme.
#2. Take the super sticky small double sided tape and place it around the punch so the acetate will have something to stick to.
#3. Place the acetate on the tape once you peel back the second side of the tape.
#4 Place the double sided thick tape on top of the acetate around the edge of the punch out so that you cannot see it through the acetate. Note--Keep the second side of backing on the double sides tape until after the next step...I didn't...what a dork!)

#5. Take the salt (or whatever you are using) and place it in the center of the acetate. Use however much or little as you want.

#6. Peel off the backing of the thick double sided tape.

#7. Glue around the outer edged of the 2nd sheet of paper and place the back of the bookmark on top of the other sheet matching up the edges. Press firmly to make sure the glue sticks and the double sided tape is adhered completely.

#8. Now you can could also have decorated before you ever did any of this stuff, its just your preference!

Once I get the card finished, I will post the finished product. I want it to be a snow theme, I am just not sure yet what I want to put on it. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pretty Storage

Okay--back to business....

Storage does not have to just be utilitarian or ugly, there are LOTS of ways to have pretty storage. Here are a few ideas....

I have lived in some tiny houses and so for a while I was the queen of storage...if you looked under anything, there were things stored under it....

This first one is a very pretty toy box. This has been in my living room and also in my office. If you were to open it, you would find train tracks, trains, toys, etc. This is a toy box that I didn't mind being out in the open because I think it is stylish and vogue and I just love it. Think of traditional items that you can use in an un-traditional way, you might be surprised how much you can hide behind or in something!

And this is just a pretty basket...I have it on my computer desk and I have tons of random papers and such stored in it. It looks nice, even if the stuff in it is just random!
And this is my printer table, its just one of those $9 tables you can get at Wal Mart or just about anywhere that carries that type of thing. It is a circle table with 3 legs, I have thrown a lovely tablecloth over it and you can store any number of items under storage included!
So, be creative and use beautiful things to hide the ugly! Most people will never know what you have hiding in there!

Have a beautiful day!

Things to do before a Hurricane

Since Hurricane Ike was heading our way, we were doing our typical Hurricane "to do list" as we watched the weather channel 24-7 and wondered if it really would come or if we would get lucky again (like Rita) and it would miss us....unfortunately with Rita, it missed us and made a b-line for my sister's town and did a number on Nacogdoches! I woke up at 1:30am on Saturday morning and was on hurricane/tornado/bad storm watch most of the night. It was still hours away, I think it made landfall in Galveston at 2:10am, but I wanted to be sure I knew where he was going and if he was heading our way. At the time, he was....but he veered a little more eastward as he got closer so we were only hit with the outer band on the west side which was the better or lesser side of the hurricane. Hurricanes are no fun...I couldn't believe that 40% of Galveston did not evacuate...I can't imagine why they didn't leave.

Anyway, we were among the lucky ones. When the weather channel showed pictured of our town, it was just a few downed trees and fences, nothing major. But people within just an hour or so from us lost much heart bleeds for them and I hope they can find peace during this terrible time. is our have to get everything out of your yard and off your porch...or it may become a flying object!

These are our 72 hour backpacks....enough food water, general supplies to keep us going for 72 hours...we had them out and ready to go just in case.

This is my son...isn't he cute! He thought going through our 72 hour kits was fun and he liked the playing with Winnie the Pooh and sitting on his pillow that was in his backpack. Its always good to have things for the kids to play with in their backpacks, we had this bear and a few other that he has probably outgrown and we realize we need to replace, but he still thought they were fun for a good 15 minutes on Friday!
This is all my fresh fruit and veggies..I washed it and made sure it was ready to eat in case we lost water.
This is some spare bottled water. I keep all the gazillion juice bottles we go through and store them for a day like this, when I fill them up with water so that if we loose power and utitlities in general, we will still have water.
The last part is easy---watch the weather and pray a lot!

We made it through without a scratch this time, for that we are very thankful. However, hurricane season still has 2 more months left so you never know when the next one will have your name on it. Luckily, we are far enough inland where we usually just get wind and rain, but sometimes they retain strength, like Rita did, and wreak havoc on into the interior of the state. I think we had something like 50 mile and hour winds and lots of rain. We did loose power for an hour but that is nothing.

I have friends in Houston and more south that don't have electricity and may not for a month....their jobs are in question and their neighbors homes may be I pray for them all!

I hope you are all safe and doing well! God be with you!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to work!

Well, we made it through Ike with just a lot of wind and rain, we were on the west side of the hurricane and it went further east than expected so we only got hit by the outer bands. It was hours and hours of wind and rain and we lost power for an hour, but really it was equal to a bad thunderstorm like we get fairly often here in South Central Texas, but the wind was somewhere in the 30-60 miles and hour range so that is pretty gusty!

I will try to post sometime today if I get a chance and get back o business!

I hope everyone out there in Ike's path faired as well or better than we did, although my thoughts and prayers are with the people in Galveston/Beaumont/Surfside area, they have a lot of devestation to deal with.

Take Care,


Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

I also want to say how proud to be an American I am on this day. I remember September 11th vividly as I watched it unfold at home and then listened on the radio and then immediately put the tv on up at the hotel desk and consequently watched all the devastation of those towers crashing down. It was surreal and frightening and baffling all at once...and it forever changed my world and yours.

Thank you to all the first responders....those people who are the ones running in when we are running away. To all those people who gave their life so that others might be saved. To those soldiers who fought years ago to create our freedoms and preserve them and to those today who raise their fist at terrorists and say "We will not let you break us, our Spirit, or our our country!"

And to those innocent victims of 9-11, those people who got up that day and drank their orange juice just like any other day and went to work and never came home. Our hearts bleed for your family members and loved ones and their loneliness and terror as they realized their lives were just ripped apart in a head on crash with reality. We pray that you are cradled in God's palm yesterday, today, and always...because every day will be a memory and every day will have some ache of times gone by and time lost.

Our world was shattered that day, but we have grown stronger from it and we will persevere and continue to fight for our freedom and our children's freedom.

Because we will never forget....

My Hurricane Ike Survival Kit

Well, as I sit here Thursday night at my house, I am getting ready to go to work tomorrow as one of those "essential employees" who are basically always at work, even when almost everyone else is at home. The university has closed but my building is on stand by as a tornado shelter in the event of tornadic activities. There are 2 other shelters on campus for evacuees so there are plenty of other people working as well. Our building is mostly going to be closed and locked up, but we do have one wing with 29 hotel rooms and a few on campus residents living in it, so we are monitoring them as well. so, basically, I will be at work for at least 8 hour shifts with not much to do but watch the weather and keep apprised of the situation, so I have attached below my version of a good survival kit.....yes, those are scrap booking supplies. I figure a few hours of free time with nothing to do, I might as well be productive right? I may not even have a chance to open it but I would like to have it there just in case!

...and don't worry, I also have a packed bag with other essentials and we have food on the premises!

We sure hope this is a non-issue and we are not badly hit but with a storm that is currently almost the size of Texas and 525 miles across, the odds are we will at least be hit with lots of rain and 50-60 mile and hour winds. My boys will hunker down at home without me and I will join them when I can.

So, to all you people in the Ike safe! To those who are not, I will be back with you in a couple of days baring no major problems. If our electricity maintains, then I may be able to post here and there.

Take Care!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Howdy Folks--

I haven't had a chance to post any today. We are all watching Hurricane Ike to see what path he will choose. He currently is heading for the Texas coast and the university I work at is housing some special needs evacuees and we are busily trying to work out all the other arrangments that go with, needless to say, I have been busy! Plus, there is still a chance that he will come visit us as well....ahhh, the fun of hurricane season!

So, bare with me while I take care of some other needs, I will still try to post when I have a moment, it just may not be every day for a few days!

Take Care!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lunch Sack Scrapbooks--Update

Howdy all,

I wanted to give you some extra info on the lunch bag scrapbooks that I posted here.

We are doing them for our big Craft Day this Winter so I have been putting together prices and I actually made one last night as a gift for a pregnant friend of mine. It really doesn't take long if you have a good paper cutter that is accurate and fast (but not so fast you loose a finger!). I probably made mine last night in a little over an hour, start to finish, including the sewing of the sacks together, which is just one pass down the middle of them all with the sewing machine.

Here is a general price list and recipe list for what you will need:

I chose to use 4 of the paper bags, the regular old brown kind. I found these at Target for $1.40 for 50. They also had the choice of a solid color lunch bag in white or red and those were $1.40 for 40. Either one is a great deal, so they end up being either $0.03 or $0.04 each bag, and you need 4, so a whopping $0.16 per scrapbook.

For the paper, you will need something close to 5X5 paper and you can get 4 squares of that out of a 12X12 sheet (plus leftovers). Like I have said before, I generally use Stampin Up (SU) products because I like how everything matches and is true color matching, the ruby red ribbon matches the ruby red paper, my prices will be for SU products. Anyway, you would need 8 layouts for the whole book including the cover and each layout is 2 of the 5X5 papers, so a total of 16 squares of the 5X5 paper, which would be 4 sheets of 12X12 paper.

I like the "designer series" of papers by SU because they are card stock, double sided and you can fold over a side and show the other design or flip one side of the layout and you know it will still match the other side, etc. Plus, the designer series papers have designs on them, they are not just a solid color. So, I figured we could use 2 sheets of designer paper and 2 sheet of solid colored card stock.

Designer Series 12X12 paper is about $0.83 each, so 2 sheets would be $1.66 total
Card Stock 12X12 paper is about $0.37 each, so 2 sheets would be $0.74 total

So, your total costs up to this point for the paper bags and the paper to cover the "pages" is $2.56. Pretty economical!

And now for the other fun stuff. If you wanted to add embellishments, I was guessing we might add brads, buttons, paperclips, and ribbon.

Brads are about $0.05 each
Buttons are about $0.09 each
Assorted Clips are about $0.29 each
the 1/4 inch grosgrain ribbon is about $0.33 a yard

So, I guessed we would use ....
10 brads totalling $0.50
8 Buttons totalling $0.72
2 Clips totalling $0.58
2 Yards of Ribbon totalling $0.66

So, the embellishment total is $2.46

And the total for the book, paper, and embellishments is $5.02

Now, I know you can find fun papers and accessories for cheaper, so you can cut that down even more, I just love the quality and richness of colors that SU offers.

So anyway...that is the scoop....about $5 or less per book for everything!

If you did some punches or cut outs, those would be inexpensive because you can get a lot of punches out of one sheet of paper, so keep that in mind as you shop. Stickers are also economical.

You will probably want to personalize it and add even more, this is just the basic costs for a reference for you. For instance, you might want to put some pages in there that had little pull out cards on them so you would need more paper for that. Since the open ends of the bags make for natural little pockets, you could further embellish those areas and have more places for photos or what not.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

Recipe- Chicken and Rice

This is a really basic recipe and you can double it easily. It is a freeze ahead meal for those days that you do not want to cook dinner, you can just throw this in the oven and let it bake! Our ward has gotten together on a Sisters night and made a bunch of these and some lasagnas and then we store them in some one's freezer and use them for when babies are born or people need meals brought in. Its super basic and simple, but still a nice meal. Just add a veggie!

Chicken and Rice Casserole--Freeze Ahead Meal

1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 1/2 c. raw rice (Uncle Ben's is best)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
4 c. boiled, boned, cut-up chicken or turkey
cornflake crumbs

Put butter in 2 1/2 quart casserole and melt. Mix all other ingredients together and stir in butter. Top with cornflake crumbs. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 hours. You can fix this ahead of time and freeze. This freezes well. Make 2 or 3 at a time to have on hand.(I think I would add some frozen peas for color)

One year for Christmas I gave my sister "The gift of Time." She is a super busy Mom and Relief Society President and sometimes she just needs a little more time on her hands, so I made her 6 make ahead freezer meals and this was one of them. All she has to do on those hectic days is throw this in the oven!

I love freeze ahead and make ahead meals, so if you have some good ones, please share!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Book Club-Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg

Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg
For me, this book was laugh out loud funny at times and heartwarming and lovely at other times. If you have ever lived in the South, know Southerners, or are mystified by the Southern way of life, this book shows a funny and entertaining view of thing that happen in the South. I fell in love with the family and then all their friends. You will probably realize that you have friends like many of these characters. One of the central ladies in the story has a radio show that she does out of her house daily and she reaches across the nation to help homemakers learn a better recipe, cope with things, and be a friend to those in the rural areas who rarely ever get to see a friendly face. The era in this book is an era long gone but one that I think I might have enjoyed. When she meets a family of gospel singers who travel across the nation to sing, they bring a whole new view of life on the road.
This book is silly, funny, touching, and an easy read. Sometimes I like these kind of books that transport you through time and don't take a whole lot of brain power, you can just sit back and enjoy the characters. We read this for a book club and I have read it once since then.
If you have a favorite book, please let me know. I am an avid reader always looking for a good read!

Craft-Simple Scrapbooking Layout

Happy Sunday to all!

Tonight I just wanted to post a simple scrap booking layout that is so easy and you can use it for virtually any theme or occasion. I used this one as a "filmstrip" kind of layout where each picture is a moment in time of a series, but you could really just use any event or whatever you were wanting to scrapbook. This layout was done at a Scrap booking retreat and it was either Lindsey or Leah's idea (you can see their blogs at the links to the right).

For this I chose 3 colors and used them over and over again: Chocolate chip brown, vanilla, and either bashful blue or sky blue. You cut each of your pictures to be a square and just line them up across the page. My pictures are 4X4 so 3 of them fit across a 12X12 page, and I have a 2 page layout, so 6 pictures total.

he title "The Remote Control" is stamped on with chocolate chip brown ink and the rest is paper and ribbon. The polka dots are the "au chocolate" series from Stampin Up that I LOVE but has been discontinued, although they have a new series out now that I might just like better!

I used this to show the action my son would take in trying to steal the remote control. He knew at a young age where the power of the household was held! The brown rectangles are for journaling. This page is so basic and of the reasons I love it plus its SUPER versatile. You could easily switch out the blue for pink and do a baby girl page or go for primary colors and do something completely different.

For a change, you could also scallop the border papers, make flow-y waves, or use some fun scissor cuts. The possibilities are endless!

Sorry that these are not the best shots of these pages. I hope you can get the idea!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Recipe-Garlic Basil Shrimp

My friend Jenn posted this recipe on our recipe blog at and I wanted to share it over here.

It is REALLY good and versatile as well. I have made it with shrimp, I have made it with chicken, and I think it would be yummy vegetarian as well. I added in some fresh spinach leaves when I add the tomatoes to pack an even more nutritional punch. This recipe is from Ellie Krieger on Food Network, she is the nutritionist with a healthy show, so its healthy to boot! (always a plus!) I also used fresh crushed red pepper paste instead of red pepper flakes (its one of my new fave spices!). I have also made it once with the white wine and once with white grape juice and they both tasted great, not sure I could tell a difference. I have served mine with whole wheat angel hair and whole wheat egg noodles, both were de-lish! Its it also a quick dish to make, I love that!

Garlic Basil Shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp (20 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes, or more to taste

3/4 cup dry white wine (i used white grape juice)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.

Add garlic and red pepper flakes to the oil remaining in skillet and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add wine and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Stir in basil and tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Return the shrimp to pan and cook just until heated through.

Serve with orzo, pasta, rice or crusty bread.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Decorating-Covering Books

I came across this picture in the September Issue of Veranda Magazine. I love this magazine, I came across it one day when I was splurging and getting a pedicure and I grabbed this magazine to look at while I was sitting in one of those fabulous massage chairs while these wonderful people make my feet look so cute and summer fun-ish! (I even got little flowers painted on my big toe nails!)

This magazine is my style...if I had a million dollars to decorate my house, a housekeeper to keep it clean, and a fabulous view out every window. Basically, it is my style if I had an unlimited budget...which I don't! However I love to look at these magazines and take little snipits of their style and use it in my home.

I really love the way these books look with these covers, they make the room colors look in harmony and have a similar color scheme. I admit that I would have to still have their titles printed on the spine so I could find the book, but I like the overall look of this, because lets face it, not all books are pretty or match your decor! I could see doing a series all in the same paper so that you knew it was that series and could easily locate it. I think the most economical way to do this would be to buy rolls of wallpaper (the kind without adhesive on it) and use that to cover the books because you would get a large amount of paper and they would all match. You could also use fabric, wrapping paper, or butcher paper if you wanted to make your own design with stamps or something. Anyway--I think this is a nice way to make your books match and it will probably help keep the cover of your book in better shape since it is protecting it.

I have also seen some wall papers that are beautiful enough to frame and hang on the wall, so that is another way to coordinate your colors. You could also use the wall paper as a mat on a frame.

My father was a professional wall paper-er for a while during his life so we always had spare rolls of wall paper around. We used that stuff for everything from wrapping paper, to decorating, book covers, you name it! I even wall papered a desk once in my life...and it looked pretty good!

So, here is the picture of the entire room and then a close up picture. Enjoy!

You should try to have at least one beautiful space that is yours...a space where you can go and relax and think and just feel good. If that place is sitting on your back porch in a swing or in a sitting area in your guest doesn't matter, just have a place where you can go and feel peace and think. A place where you can feel like you again, if only briefly.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Decorating--Wall Art Vinyl Style

I just love the new trend in vinyl lettering and wall art. It is especially great for people who live in an apartment or rental because they can apply it and take it off without damaging the walls. I think its a fun way to make a statement and decorate, especially because you can have whatever you want made into a quote that you can put on your wall.

Stampin Up has their own version of this, you can see it at
I got a few of these pieces for my birthday and I am wandering around my house trying to figure out where they will look fabulous.

We also use the same vinyl art technique in some crafts we did at our Super Craft Thursday last year in our ward. We mainly used them on things with your last name or Family home Evening boards and such and they turned out so nicely. We have a lady in town whom you can order vinyl lettering from but it seems like a really popular thing these days so you might check the Internet or your area listings and see what you can find.

These are really easy to make and yet so elegant. I love things that are personalized and they make great gifts. Honestly, all you do is take off the back layer of the paper, center the word that you are working on and place it where you want, then you take a tongue depressor or similar and rub firmly on the backside of the vinyl transfer. Once you have done that and are sure there are no bubbles and the vinyl has transferred, then you peal off the backside and there you have it. If you are doing it on wood with 2 layers of words, do the back layer first and then the top layer, for instance on the wood one below, you do the surname first and then the other word second so it shows up on top. If you are doing it on glass for the black frame below, then you would have to figure out if you want the lettering on the inside or outside of the glass and figure out of you need to have the name revered so that when it transfers, it is correct. The glass ones are nice because the wall color comes through the glass since it is see through!

The "Christ is the center of our home, a guest at every meal..." one is just transferred onto a kitchen ceramic tile, one of the rough ones that look like a natural stone. I gave this as a gift to a friend of mine and she loved it.

If you are interested in seeing the other projects we did last year and the costs, you can check out this web page

we created this web page and then never used it, but it shows you our examples and the prices. As a side note, we only charged people cost on these items, we did not make any money, we wanted people to be able to get them for the cheapest price possible!

Beautiful Basics

Life is about a journey, and you are the only one who can make yours... So, embrace life: the good, the bad, and the is the only one you've got.

Here's to being Beautiful, inside and out!