Monday, December 19, 2011

How I Saved Christmas: Tales of the Half-lit Tree

2011-12-11_15-01-21_781 cropPre-lit tree is getting old. Last year pre-lit tree had some dark patches. This year pre-lit tree has a whole dark middle. I tried to fix it. The man of the house tried to fix it. Even armed with fancy short detecting technology pre-lit tree refused to light.

I tried to buy a new pre-lit tree, but the only trees available at such a late date had purple, black, or orange needles. Think Dr. Seuss.

TreeGetImageSo today as I ate lunch I resigned myself to Christmas with half-lit tree. Once I had resigned myself to the situation, as it generally goes, the creative problem solving side of my brain kicked in. So off I went to the drug store to buy an extension cord & a set of 100 white tree-lights. I got some sets working using the extension cord & the few dark branches that were left got wrapped in the supplement set of lights.

IMG_0559.JPGNow half-lit tree looks like THIS!
Isn't that more like it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

White Chocolate Pop Corn

I first had this as a midnight snack at a scrapbook retreat it was so tasty I knew I needed to try making it. You just need a REAL big bowl (or two.) This was a big hit with my family. They are already offering suggestions of all the different things we could mix into it.
1 bag of microwave pop corn with NO BUTTER (air pop corn would work well too)
3 squares of White Bark Coating
colorful candy decorations (optional)

Pop the popping corn. You don't want any butter or oil, it will make the coating get gummy & not set up properly. Transfer the popped corn into a bowl. At this point I transfer the pop corn by hand to a bowl I will mix in. By doing it by hand you can make sure not to get the un-popped kernels at the bottom of the bowl.
In a microwave dish melt the candy bark. I used 3 squares. Melt the candy 30 seconds at a time when it begins to get soft, stir around with a spoon & continue heating 30 seconds at a time until all of the candy bark is melted.

Pour the melted candy onto the popcorn & toss around in the bowl with two spoons. Once you have mixed in the candy bark, you can mix in your colorful candies. I used cupcake sprinkles, you could also use holiday colored M&M's or, hmmm, I wonder how some crushed candy cane pieces would be.

While the mixture is still soft (it doesn't set up too fast so you have time to work with it) use a large ice cream scoop to portion the popped corn into colorful muffin papers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Lead Me - Music Video

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Am I Up To? - Cooking

This recipe is currently under development.
It needs more garlic, and a different kind of pasta but look how beautifully it photographs.

Inspired by the tortellini that comes with TGI Friday's Parmesan Crusted Chicken & Chicken Evangeline that I ate this Saturday at Babin's Seafood House. And of course I love shrimp more than anything so I have to make it a shrimp dish.


Step by step slideshow of last night's developing the spinach sauce can be seen here

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Tortellini Evangeline

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Not A Scrapbook

I'm at a scrapbook retreat. It's been wonderful, but suddenly...
It's not a scrapbook. It's not a journal. It's a picture capturing how I feel in this moment.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chuck Roast Barbecue

This recipe is from the cookbook Southern Living Our Best Easy Weeknight Favorites - this is an old favorite I'm reviving. It's made in the crock-pot so a perfect recipe for dinner on a busy Fall night.
This make tasty sandwiches, but it's also wonderful served over baked potatoes with sour cream.
Chuck Roast Barbecue

1 (2 1/2 pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed of fat
2 medium onions, chopped
1 (12 oz)can cola flavored drink (1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons beef bouillon (I use one Knorr beef bouillon cube)
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
¾ teaspoon chili powder
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground red pepper (I'm a spice wimp, I use none)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 CUP ketchup
1 tablespoon butter
6 hamburger buns
dill pickle slices (optional)

Place roast in a 3 ½ or 4 quart electric slow cooker; add onion. Combine cola and next 7 ingredients. Remove 1 cup of the sauce, cover & chill the reserved cup for later. Pour remaining sauce over roast. Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours or on LOW 9 hours or until roast is very tender. Remove roast with chopped onion from cooker, using a slotted spoon, and shred meat with two forks. (reserve remaining meat juices to spoon over mashed potatoes or toast, if desired.) I throw out the onions, they add flavor to the roast but don't have much flavor in them by the end.
IMG_0348.JPG IMG_0352.JPG
Combine reserved sauce, ketchup, and butter in a saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated. Pour sauce over shredded meat, stirring gently. Spoon meat mixture onto buns.
Yield 6 servings.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Show Me Your Desktop: October 2011

A photo I took at my Dad's house in 2010.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Inspired By Pretty Things



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Learn Something New


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Isn't It Fall Yet?

The kids have been back to school for a few weeks now, I've been drinking Pumpkin Spice coffee all week. After a record run of 100+ heat (110 if my backyard thermometer can be trusted) and not much rain, I'm ready for Fall. Not to mention I want a good chill that will kill the mosquitoes!
This weekend we finally caught a break, our weather dropped into the 90's and it was heavenly. Last night I actually wrapped a blanket around my shoulders as I sat on the back patio with my husband.

I'm looking forward to some more cool nights so we can enjoy our new patio & this nifty new fire feature that we got on clearance from the patio store. I guess there was not a lot of call for fire on summer nights here in Houston.

I'm just about ready to start making Pumpkin Pasta, again!
How about you. Are you ready for fall? What are you most looking forward to?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Text Fx Class: Vanishing Text

First assignment for week one of Text Fx.
Vanishing Text

I wish that I liked my fonts better. Particularly I would like a thicker elegant cursive, but when I went looking all the ones I could find were quite expensive.
Text Fx taught by Tiffany Tillman at Renee

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sweet Kitties

Having a crappy day? This will help.

Thanks, Jenny, for posting it on your FB page.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Updated Tweetdeck Filters Post

Today I added an update to my post of January 20, 20011 TweetDeck: Using Filters To Achieve Inbox Zero On Twitter this update is in regards to recently changed functionality on TweetDeck.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Tale of Two Camera Phones

Last week I got a much anticipated new phone. I love my original Motorola Droid so much that I got a Droid 3. I love it, I'm in phone heaven. It can do so many cool new things my own phone couldn't, with one glaring exception. It takes horrible photos.

Any insight on a fix for this would be much appreciated, but I think I'm just out of luck on this particular issue :(
Original Droid Photos on Left - Droid 3 photos on the right.
Poppy Seed CasserolePoppy Seed Casserole
Poppy Seed Casserole2011-08-17_18-13-56_902
Poppy Seed Casserole2011-08-17_18-17-09_982
Poppy Seed Casserole2011-08-17_18-28-18_676
It's like the new phone everything has a pink, or beige tone to it. Some photos come out looking as if they were taking in sepia. I'm so sad, my old phone took such wonderful photos and was so good at capturing color.

Monday, August 8, 2011

This tool is great for using with Cricut

Now that more people are using Cricut I'm getting questions about this tool so I thought I'd share it here. This is not adhesive. One end of this tool is sticky for picking up small pieces. The other end has a reversible chisel or pointed tool that I find great for helping me finish punching out or scraping up small pieces from the adhesive cutting mat.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Creamy Chicken Linguine Casserole

This recipe is from Cooking with Paula Deen July/Aug 2011. The recipe is actually called Chicken Tetrazzini, but I tell you I have had a lot of unpleasant dishes called Tetrazzini so I'm giving it a more descriptive name. I've made this twice now, my family gave it a thumbs up and requested a repeat.

Creamy Chicken Linguine Casserole

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 (10 3/4 oz) cans condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (or 1 family sized large can)
1 (5 oz) tub of shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup water (or boil the pasta in chicken broth & use 1/2 cup of that)
1 cup frozen green peas (I use about 1 1/2 cups, I like green peas in creamy dishes)
12 oz linguine, cooked & kept warm (finally a recipe that CALLS for the cheater 12 oz package) I like to break the noodles in half before adding them to the cooking water, this will make them easier to mix, later.
3/4 cup coarsely crushed round buttery crackers (Ritz Crackers 1 1/2 sleeves crush in a zip loc bag)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray (to avoid getting the counter messy with overspray, open your dishwasher, set the dish on the open door & spray, it will get cleaned up next time you run your dishwasher).

Add butter and onions to a large non-stick skillet, sauté over medium heat until soft, add the garlic on top and stir around for a few minutes. Push the onions & garlic mixture to the side of the pan and add the chicken pieces to the center. Sprinkle chicken with salt & pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes moving the chicken around as needed, until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove pan from heat, stir in mushroom soup, sour cream, 1/2 cup of water (or chicken broth) and cheese. Stir until combined then add the frozen peas. Now mix in the linguine and pour into prepared casserole mix. Top with crushed crackers.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Cooking with Paula Deen July/Aug 2011

Purpose: A Quote For Staying On Course.

I find myself in a difficult season of life. I find myself often very sad, very discouraged. This is not the way I imagined my life in the enthusiastic blush of youth. Today I came across this quote by Mother Theresa. I find comfort & encouragement in this reminder that the ultimate result is beyond my control, it is only up to me to do MY best, and to value my best regardless of outcome.

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful
you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway."

— Mother Theresa

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Creating A Tradition: Fancy Toes

Last year when I was in California, Debbie and I went together to get fancy toes for the wedding. You can see that post, Here: We decided to make it a yearly tradition so yesterday we went together again to get fancy toes.
I loved the blue I got last year so much that I did more blue, but more daring this year. Debbie got an argyle inspired pattern.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mexican Pulled Pork

Thank you very much to Ali Bee's Bake Shop for posting this recipe. We love it! This is the easy version I have featured another, fussier pulled pork recipe in the past.
1 pork loin roast
1 bottle of Goya Mojo Criollo (see photo)
1 bottle of mexican beer
taco fixings of your choice.
Start with a boneless pork loin roast. NOT a tenderloin, that's an expensive cut of meat, you just want it to say loin, forget the tender the cooking method will take care of that. Place said roast, fat side up, into an oven safe Dutch Oven with a tight fitting lid. I have a Le Cereucet Dutch oven, my family calls it the magic pot. I got it for my 15th anniversary. It IS magical. I switched out the plastic knob that comes with it, I bought the oven safe one, you can find them at Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma.

Dump in 1 bottle of Mexican beer & 1 bottle of Goya Mojo Criollo, you can find it with the Latin foods, it smells amazing as soon as you open it! I got it at Kroger, but now I buy it at HEB, their price is better. Add water to the pot, enough to cover the top of the roast.
Place the lid on and Roast in an oven preheated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven, if you did it right the sides of the pot will be black, that is where it pays to have a pot that cleans up like magic. Remove the roast to a large cutting board and shred it with 2 forks.

I like to skim off the fat and reserve some of the juices, but I no longer store the meat in the juices as pictured.
You can serve these as tacos, but my favorite way is to serve the meat & juices over cilantro rice & hit it with a squeeze of lime. Delicioso!
People have mentioned crockpots, so I tried cooking it one time at a lower temp of 350 degrees. It didn't get tender, the meat dried out & the sauce didn't reduce, so I can't vouch for what would happen in a crockpot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Do You Know TED? Using Video To Re-invent Education

Have you heard of TED Talks? I discovered them when I stumbled across a video of a talk given by Temple Grandin. TED is self described on its website as
TED: Ideas worth spreading, Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. You can watch talks on the TED website, you can subscribe to them in iTunes as either a video or audio podcast. I watch them and handful at a time on the podcast channel of my Apple TV. Some topics are of more interest than others, but I always find something thought provoking.

I'd like to share this talk with you
Salman Khan: Let's Use Video To Re-invent Education.

TED speaker profile for Mr Khan
Khan Academy

Thanks to Kayla Lamoreaux for bringing this particular talk to my attention!

Friday, June 3, 2011

How Much Is Enough? MY Crafting EQ

The class I've been waiting a year and a half for has finally begun. Library of Memories is now called Finding Photo Freedom.

I thought I'd share with you my EQ (enough quotient) this is about what we can realistically get done. If we can do more that's great, but the idea here is to be realistic about what we can accomplish and eliminate guilt over expecting too much. so here's mine.
Big Picture Classes
  • Digital Housekeeping - 15 min 3x's weekly. This includes importing photos & digi elements & maintaining my Digital organization system.
  • Time in Craft Room - 15 min 3x's or total of 45 min weekly. At present the project is making the room habitable again!
  • Work on primary online class.
  • 1 double page spread, monthly. I'm sick of feeling guilty! Anything else is gravy.
This Year
  • One Little Word
  • Library of Memories / Finding Photo Freedom
  • Start taking photos, again
  • Quit hitting delete on photos of me

  • Display some photos in the house.
    Probably this will be in a digital photo frame, but I need to find a spot for it.
  • I have given myself permission to do whatever I feel inspired to do & nothing more.