Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Journal Your Christmas Dec 22

In which I actually journaled the prompt on the actual day it was assigned.

December 22, 2010

Things still left to do:
  1. Empty living room of all the “stuff” so I can
  2. Rearrange the furniture so we can walk thru to the breakfast area past the tree.
  3. Decorate the tree
  4. Wrap Gifts
  5. Clean House
  6. Prepare Christmas Casseroles
  7. Make Tags

Things accomplished NOT on on the list, but more important

Got Ethan to play outside
Played basketball with Ethan

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not Journaling Your Christmas - Forward Progress

So I have journaled about Christmas I think about 3 days and only one of those journalings lines up with any of the prompts for my class. So I decided I need to take an approach that worked particularly well for me with the Picture Summer photo class that I took. For that class I made a list on my phone of each day's photo prompt and put a * beside it when I had accomplished that photo.

Journal Your Christmas comes to me each day as an email in my inbox. The actual prompt comes as a PDF file and it has lots of ideas and inspiration in it, including artwork... but because of this it takes awhile to read and I don't tend to read each one as it comes in. So I decided I needed a short list. Something I could look at to decide which prompt I want to tackle when I have a bit of time. Then I can jump right in and start writing, or look at the .PDF file for more inspiration. This time I'm making a checklist in Evernote. Evernote is an online place to keep notes & information that you want later. Usually I keep this kind of stuff in Microsoft OneNote (LOVE!!) but I don't have access to OneNote when I'm away from my laptop - so I'm trying to learn to use Evernote more - I have an Evernote app on my phone so I can access it during my weekly 2 hour lobby sit-in during Ethan's Speech & Occupational Therapy appointments - which is when I most often find myself in the mood to work on these things. I'm also hoping for a new laptop for Christmas, so I'm trying to make it easy on myself to get to from the new laptop out of hope.

Even though I am dismally behind on this project, making my Evernote list has made me very glad I took this class this year & didn't wait until Christmas 2011. This is an on-going class. Once you pay your registration, you have access to each year's new edition. This year I am happy to get anything down, but I feel like it is making me more prepared and knowing what to expect next year. I feel like having done THIS year I am more excited about next year and see that this is something I think I can do if I start form the first and work through a day at a time. I feel like just from deciding to take back Christmas this year, I have begun the process of recovery & laid a foundation for an even better Holiday season next year.

And you know Shimelle who teaches the class has done such a wonderful job of making me not feel stressed about it all. Every day's email (even today on December 20th) has these words in it "If today is your first day in class, welcome!" I can't tell you how "OK" that has made me feel.  Today she also said "
During this last week before Christmas, be sure to remember to enjoy the season rather than be ruled by it.  You're in charge: do what you love and let go of anything that is causing you worry.  Let your happy holiday start with you!  Have a great day!" Isn't that great. That is just the kind of thing I need to hear!

Three Things I Learned From Jamie Oliver

  1. Slice your garlic
    all these years I've been pressing it with a garlic press OMGosh what a difference!
  2. Basmati rice works better for fried rice.
    The flavor also goes better with ginger - I've been using basmati for Indian dishes for awhile, now I'm going to start using it with Asian dishes too!
  3. Fresh home-made food is healthier than eating out.
    Here all this time I've been feeling guilty for cooking with cream, but at least when I cook my family is getting fresh recognizable foods instead of a bunch of preservatives and chemicals.
    He said something on his show Food Revolution - something about you want to be eating foods made with ingredients you could have found in your Gran's kitchen. - I love that. I can DO that!
    Thank you Jamie Oliver!

    1 & 2 I learned from cooking Jamie's recipe Sizzling Beef with Scallions & Black Bean Sauce it's in Food Revolution but it's also on the web. I made the fried rice twice, once with Basmati & the second time with long grain rice. The taste & texture of the Basmati was much better!

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    New Comment Handler

    I'm trying out a new comment handler on my blog. It's IntenseDebate. It allows you to subscribe to be notified via email of additional comments on a post (as you always could). The feature I'm excited about is that it allows you to post a reply to a specific comment. It also allows you to subscribe to just the replies to your own comment if you wish.  So you wouldn't get an email to every comment on that post, but you WOULD get an email notifying you whenever someone specifically replies to your comments.  You can also comment & reply to comments via email.

    It allows you to post comments using services like Facebook, Twitter, and OpenID. Or you can sign up for an IntenseDebate profile but you can still simply comment without one as a Guest.
    It is also integrated with Google Reader & Bloglines allowing you to read and post comments directly from your RSS reader.

    If you want to see the details here is the IntenseDebate features site.

    This is brand new to me & I'm still figuring out how it all works, but I think this will be a good thing. Let me know how you like it!

    Update: December 8, 2010 1:32 PM
    To comment from Google Reader install this Firefox Add-On gReader Comments found here: 
    Shoot, it has not yet been updated to work with the latest version of Firefox. :(

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Christmas Wishes Part 1

    One of the things on my Christmas wish list is a spot in this class at Big Picture Classes.

    It's called Yesterday & Today (despite my tendency to refer to it as Then & Now.) It's taught by Ali Edwards and it's a class to help you learn to tell over-arcing stories inter-generational stories. Stories about things that happen over time - instead of strictly event based scrapbooking. I would love to be able to do some of this... the trend right seems to be to talk about the mundane small every day details... but I also find I have a desire to scrap about the big picture. There is a lot of pressure talking about the big picture. The other thing that really appeals to me about this class is that she promises to show us how to scrap about things for which you have no pictures. I think that will be very helpful in telling more heart stories, to not have to have a photo for everything I want to say.

    Ali has posted a teaser glimpse at some of the layouts from the class on her blog.
    Yesterday & Today will run from December 30 2010 - March 30 2011.

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Holiday Classes Part 2

    The second Holiday class I am taking is 25 Days of Templates: Holiday taught by Tiffany Tillman at this class I thought was a great supplement to the journaling class in case I wanted to make some of the journaling into scrapbook pages.

    This class comes with 50 Photoshop Elements Page templates & the instruction is about how to use and manipulate templates to create more customized digital pages. I anticipate that I will complete this content after the holidays are over and with forever access to the materials and classrooms I can always take advantage of them. So far I have watched the instructional videos for days 1-5, not too bad. These daily lessons are mostly about 5 minutes long, so easy to work into the day along with morning coffee.

    My first Journal Your Christmas page was actually made from a template from the summer edition of this class. Summer Template 11 by Tiffany Tillman at Design House Digital

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    What am I, nuts?! Holiday Classes Part 1

    I'm not just taking a class in the crazy month of December, I'm taking two!
    I am always behind at the Holidays. Ethan has a birthday in the first week of December and by the time I can shift my focus from Birthday to Christmas I am already far behind where I should be for holiday preparedness.

    We lost my Mom to cancer in February of 2007. Christmas hasn't felt like Christmas for years... there were heightened emotions & a dread of each year being "the last Christmas" and after she was gone, Christmas felt empty. I'd go through the motions the best I could, but my heart had gone out of it.

    I love the holidays & I want the Joy back. I want to see the charm, again. So I decided to take back Christmas. I thought this one would help me to get into the mind-set & cherish the every-day of December.

    The first of these classes is Journal Your Christmas at

    This class is about a daily journaling prompt from December 1 - January 6 to help collect thoughts about the holiday. There are also daily photographic prompts. You should see the albums that people are forming around the prompts, they are truly spectacular. An added bonus of this class is that Shimelle teaches it every year so you pay your registration once and you get access to it every year & the archives from past years too.

    I'm behind, but I knew I would be and my focus this year isn't to do every single day. It's to bring the heart back into Christmas. That's what I'm after, this year.

    The previous 2 blog posts have been inspired by this class. I've given it a label to make it easy to follow.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Journal Your Christmas: First Page

    I had no Christmas papers so I adapted with what I had. This layout is 8x8.
    Template by Tiffany Tillman. Digital patterned paper from If I Fall kit designed by J Edwards, found at Designer Digitals. Fonts are - Journal Your: Engraver's Edge, Christmas & Journaling: Constantina, December 7: Plantagenet Cherokee

    I will probably update it later when I get some Christmas digital papers & when I get my tree up I will get photos from my own house (since Ethan's Birthday was Monday, I haven't put the tree up yet) this tree photo was taken in the Lobby at Speech Therapy - I needed to get STARTED so I can start getting into this holiday season!

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Journal Your Christmas: December 7

    This is the year I take back Christmas.
    I'm not going to let it rule me.
    I refuse to be a martyr to it.
    I'm won't allow myself to be swept away down a river, swallowing water.
    This season is something I love.
    I'm going to get the magic back.

    sent from my Android phone

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

    I hope you are all having a great weekend with family & friends!
    Happy Holidays!!!

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Recipe Categories

    I've updated my blog so that you can now find recipes by category. The listing is in the right margin and it's called Recipe Categories.

    Here is what it includes right now (for those of you reading via Google Reader or other Blog Aggregation tool.)

    Recipe Categories

    Breakfast (3) Casserole (5) dessert (3) Grill (2) Main Dish (25) Pasta (8) Recipe (51) side dish (13) Soup (1)

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Shrimp Fettuccine with Pancetta & Green Peas

    I made this for dinner, tonight. I just made it up as I went. It was so good I have to share the recipe! If you don't have any, just skip the grapeseed oil & scampi blend, just use olive oil or butter.

    10 oz dried fettuccine (I used fettuccine Florentine some of the noodles are green, it's pretty)
    3 Tbs Garlic Grapeseed Oil (I used Wildtree)
    optional 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Scampi Blend (from Wildtree)
    1 pound of shrimp, cleaned & peeled
    3 oz of pancetta (or bacon), cut into small pieces
    3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
    1/2 cup of white wine
    approximately 2 cups of heavy cream
    2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
    2 teaspoons Sun-Dried tomato paste or Sun-dried Tomatoes(I used the teaspoons out of my silverware drawer, not measuring spoons)
    1 cup of frozen peas (measure them out before you begin & let them sit out while you cook)
    5 oz shredded Parmesan Cheese

    In a cold skillet combine oil & scampi blend. Add the shrimp to the pan and toss in the oil mixture. Heat the pan to medium low and cook the shrimp. When the shrimp are cooked through remove to a warmed bowl & cover with foil.

    While you make the sauce, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water for use with any leftovers.

    Add pancetta to the pan and cook, when the pancetta is cooked add 3 cloves of pressed garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add the white wine & heat through. Add the cream to the pan, add 2 MORE pressed garlic cloves to the pan, stir around & bring up to a simmer for a few minutes. Reduce heat and add sun-dried tomatoes and shrimp to the pan. Mix in Parmesan cheese & peas. Mix in the fettuccine noodles.

    Serve with garlic bread and green salad.

    If you have any leftovers, place in a large container and add the reserved pasta water, cover & refrigerate. The pasta will drink in liquid and you won't have any sauce, adding the pasta water before storing will help with this.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    What is it about Chick-fil-a

    What is it about Chick-fil-a that makes us love it so much? Is it just in certain parts of the country? Is it a Southern thing? Is it the tea? Share the love...

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Watch This Movie!

    Temple Grandin is now (has been for a little while) available on DVD, and has reached both Netflix & Redbox. Give it a watch, it's a great film! Watch the trailer, below.

    You might also enjoy this previous post & video of Temple speaking the things she has to say are so interesting! Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Pumpkin Pasta

    **11/08/10 8:30 AM- Revised ingredient list & expanded directions**

    Just trust me, I know it's a new concept to most people but it's so good! This is one of my family's favorite dishes and I haven't made this for anyone who wasn't won over by it. But don't bother making it if you're going to cut out ingredients... it needs all these components to taste right.
    This recipe is from Rachael Ray 365 my most-used cookbook.
    Check me out I used my tripod & the timer button on my camera to get some action shots!

    2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
    1 pound sweet Italian Sausage (I buy the kind that's just ground meat, not in links)
    1 small onion, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 carton of sliced mushrooms
    salt & pepper, to taste
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1 cup chicken stock
    1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
    1/2 cup cream
    a pinch of cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    2-3 Tablespoons thinly cut, fresh sage
    Shredded Parmesan Cheese, a handful or two (please, not the stuff out of the green can)
    a little less than 1 pound of pene pasta (In my opinion, if you use a full pound, the pasta to sauce ratio is too high. This is why I recommend you don't cook the full pound.)

    Cook the Pasta according to package directions - try to time it so that it is done about the same time as the sauce so it can go into the sauce hot. It's a good idea to save a cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the leftovers when you put them in the fridge, the pasta will drink up the liquid from the sauce when it is in the fridge.
    Heat a very large, very deep skillet over medium heat. My skillet is a whopping 12.5 inches across and 3 inches deep, I love it! Add the extra virgin olive oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add the sausage to the pan, while it cooks break it up into bits with a wooden spatula. When the sausage is almost completely cooked push it to the sides of the pan. Add the onions and garlic to the center of the pan, when the onion is translucent push it to the sides and add the mushrooms.
    Let the mushrooms cook for awhile without disturbing, as they begin to cook down move them around a bit so any uncooked mushrooms can work their way down to the bottom. The less you move them, the better they'll cook down.

    A tip about mushrooms, this one learned form Rachael Ray on one of her cooking shows... you need to cook the mushrooms down, now and do not salt them. If you don't cook the mushrooms enough at this stage, they'll stay rubbery no matter how much longer you simmer them in a sauce or whatever. Also wait until they are cooked down to salt them. Once you salt the mushrooms they will release their liquid, with all that liquid in the pan the mushrooms will steam and not cook down properly. I don't know why it works that way, but trial and error have convinced me she was right!

    When the mushrooms are dark in color and soft then you can salt & pepper them and cook a little longer. Stir mushrooms veggies and meat all together. You can see this is quite a hearty dish. Sometimes my brother is doing the no carb thing, he just dishes up the finished sauce into a bowl before I add the pasta. The finished sauce is so thick that photos can't really convey how much hearty food there is in the final dish. This is a great, stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish!
    De-glaze the pan with the wine. This means add the wine so that sizzles when it hits the pan, and use your spatula to work up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, they will dissolve into the wine and add to the flavor of the sauce. Add the chicken stock and heat for about a minute.
    Add the pumpkin and stir together. It will be thick. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, get warm then...
    Add the cream and stir together. It's ok you can scroll back up and look again (that's my favorite step, adding the cream, it's so silky and luxurious!
    add two generous handfuls of Parmesan - more than it looks like here, I was adding it slowly trying to get the camera to catch the action. The original recipe says the Parm is optional and to pass it at the table. Don't make that mistake. I have found that adding the Parmesan cheese to the sauce at THIS stage, and letting it melt into the whole, is the key to making the pumpkin taste right in in a savory dish. It needs that salty pungent Parmesan flavor. If you just sprinkle it on at the end, the flavors are not going to meld with the sauce.
    Add the fresh sage.
    Add the pasta, stir together & serve while hot.

    You might want to check out my post about how to Reheat Leftover Creamy Pasta

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Chicken Meatballs - Pretty Food

    Cookin' with Kim makes these WONDERFUL chicken meatballs. I was trying to make something half as good as hers. Find Kim on Facebook, here and if you live nearby you can order them from her from time to time. I started with this recipe from Smitten Kitchen - and made my own alterations. The result was tasty but needs to be refined so the recipe isn't ready to be shared but I got some photos that I liked.



    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Spruced Up Blog Elements

    Thanks to Laura at Laura Edwards Design I have an improved blog header & a cute, sparrow divider to mark the ending of posts. Laura does full blog redesigns but I was attached to what I have already and she was able to work with me on that too.

    Thanks Laura!!!

    Check out her other work at Laura Edwards Design and her personal blog at Cameron Crazy Mom.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys - Halloween

    I was doing some of my very best directing here, trying to get the broody cowboy look.
    I made up a whole back story...
    something about someone stealing the cowboy's dog.
    Mostly my attempts at motivation produced smirks like this.
    And a very typical tough boy "punch-in-the-face" shot.

    Pumpkin Shots
    I tried so hard to get a profile shot & finally got one at the Church Carnival
    I love the concentration on his face in this one. He was trying to knock down blocks with beanbags - he hit 5 best score I saw while we were waiting... (bragging Mama)
    This one cracks me up. He's running to get to the next house, but doesn't he kind-of look like he just robbed the Tombstone Savings & Loan?
    This one might be my favorite shot of the night. This is Halloween from a parent's perspective & ya know a cowboy in silhouette, kinda iconic...

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Baking Day

    Date Cake


    Post Updated

    Added dishing up photos to post/recipe for Chocolate Pudding Cake



    I know I've been quiet

    I've been crazy busy. Well at least I've been tied up. My last several weeks have been a survival game. Ethan and I have been repeatedly sick, I was getting ready for a visit from Robert's Aunt, Uncle & Second Cousin from Canada, and during their visit I've been sick. I think this is the 2nd time I've been on my computer since they arrived. Even this little pocket of time I only have because I was too sick to accompany them all to New Orleans this weekend.

    Don't get me wrong, they have been wonderful and it has been so nice to have them, here! I only wish I had been well enough to be a proper hostess.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    It's just the dark Before The Morning

    I've been having a hard time of it, lately. My husband has been working & traveling a lot, I've been struggling with some day to day things with Ethan and on top of that Ethan and I keep getting sick. I've gotten to feel (again) like we're just trying to get through every day. I got a new CD, today & the words of this song jumped out at me and encouraged me. I've listed the lyrics below the video if you just want to read the words.

    Before the Morning
    by Josh Wilson

    Do you wonder why you have to,
    feel the things that hurt you,
    if there's a God who loves you,
    where is He now?

    Maybe, there are things you can't see
    and all those things are happening
    to bring a better ending
    some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

    Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
    that you still have a reason to sing,
    'cause the pain you've been feeling,
    can't compare to the joy that's coming

    so hold on, you got to wait for the light
    press on, just fight the good fight
    because the pain you've been feeling,
    it's just the dark before the morning

    My friend, you know how this all ends
    and you know where you're going,
    you just don't know how you get there
    so just say a prayer.
    and hold on, cause there's good who love God,
    life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
    but you'll see the bigger picture

    Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
    that you still have a reason to sing,
    'cause the pain you've been feeling,
    can't compare to the joy that's coming

    so hold on, you got to wait for the light
    press on, just fight the good fight
    because the pain you've been feeling,
    it's just the dark before the morning
    yeah, yeah,
    before the morning,
    yeah, yeah

    Once you feel the way of glory,
    all your pain will fade to memory
    once you feel the way of glory,
    all your pain will fade to memory
    memory, memory, yeah

    Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
    that you still have a reason to sing,
    'cause the pain you've been feeling,
    can't compare to the joy that's coming

    Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
    that you still have a reason to sing,
    'cause the pain you've been feeling,
    can't compare to the joy that's coming

    com'n, you got to wait for the light
    press on, just fight the good fight
    because the pain you've been feeling,
    it's just the hurt before the healing
    the pain you've been feeling,
    just the dark before the morning
    before the morning, yeah, yeah
    before the morning

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Another Class: Cooking Up A Memory

    I've signed up for another scrapbook class. I should be focused on other things right now, but the class was too "me" to pass up. Cooking Up A Memory and it's taught my Molly Newman at

    In the class we'll learn how to create an album of recipes that includes recipes, photos, and the stories behind the recipes. We are also spending one week learning about food photography (food is HARD to photograph!!! There are a number of recipes I haven't blogged because the food looks great on the table but awful on film!)

    So doesn't that class just sound very "me" I had to take it!

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    What's Your Superpower?

    Today @HomeschoolSue who is also known on her blog as The Homeschool Chick tweeted the following.

    I love that! As a Mom I DO feel like I have superpowers. Sometimes I feel like the superhero's alter ego who doesn't get CREDIT for having superpowers, but I have them. I think that God has endowed each mother with the potential, the aptitude, the giftedness that will be required to mother the particular children that He gives us.

    I find confidence because of the conviction that I am the person chosen by God as the best fit for my son. This is something I have spent time thinking about. I have a lot of super powers, but I think the one that is the unique key to being the right Mom in my family is that I keep getting up.

    You know in the movies where the big villain/bully is telling the little guy he's just trounced to "Just stay down." Well I'm the scrappy superhero who keeps getting up.

    Even when I feel intimidated, or defeated or like I'm spinning my wheels and getting nowhere... I may even have myself a cry, but then I shake myself, I lift up my head, I get up and go at it again.

    And you know, it's the scrappy ones who triumph in the end.
    What's your superpower?