July 31, 2009

I love bags. I just don't love paying $15 for a pattern. So when I came across DIY Bag Lover the other day I was so excited. This site has a whole bunch of bag patterns and tutorials on one page. The best part - they are all FREE! Go ahead, check out the site. I'm going to make the Buttercup bag this morning.

July 30, 2009

A while ago I subscribed to The Pioneer Woman's blog feeds. She's one amazingly talented woman. Her photos are beautiful and her tutorials and actions for Photoshop are wonderful, but what gets me is how much this woman cooks. Reading her blog posts about food almost always gives me cravings. And I don't think it's just because of pregnancy. I blame her pictures too.

So on the Fourth of July after we'd planned to have friends over, changed our minds as they were all out of town, booked a weekend away, and cancelled that when I got sick, we ended up having a small BBQ with 3 of our friends. It was fun, and I couldn't help but try some of Ree's recipes.

The day I saw these I had to have them. I craved them. I'd never even had them before and I wanted them like candy. So I made them. Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies is one of my new favorite appetizers. I can't believe how simple the recipe is and how divine they are. I must warn you - do not nibble at these, take good sized bites (3 minimum) or you'll really feel the heat of the jalapeno. It you take bigger bites you won't feel the heat so much because you'll have more cheese. I must also warn you: Use gloves so you don't kill your hands, and anywhere you touch after (eyes do not fare well when rubbed with jalapeno oiled hands, just saying). The seeds and membranes are the hottest part so for less heat really get it all out. And lastly make sure your Bacon isn't too thick to bend and wrap, you want the thinner stuff.

Oh - and if you don't like Jalapeno Poppers - never fear. I don't like them either, or cheese-sticks for that matter. So please still give them a try. I've been craving these ever since I had them.

Monkey Bread is one of those things on the bottom of my list to make. Why? Well, I usually make the bread for something else first. Like rolls, loaves, or whatever. There's usually not left over dough. If there was, and this happened probably twice in my life, I made Cinnamon Buns. So when I discovered Ree's recipe for Monkey Bread I had to try it. I must warn you, it's not a recipe for dieters. My husband loved this recipe even more than me. If it wasn't for the heat of summer I'd be making him more. (Sorry, it's just too hot to cook right now.) So for those of you willing to try this here's what I did wrong: everything. OK just kidding, I think two things were what really threw it off. I used 3 of the Buttermilk Biscuit tubes, but the big ones. I think it's meant to be the smaller tube. I also used flaky instead of non-flaky. I'm not sure why that's important. It might have worked with the flaky had I used the right sized tube. I'll let you know once it's not too hot to cook.

Lastly, I finally discovered the secret to Dill Dip. I love dill flavored stuff. Dill Pickle Potato Chips, Dilly Potato Salad, Dill all over my vegetables. So it's no wonder I came up disappointed every time I made Dill Dip at home. It was never right. Not even most of the special Dip packages from specialty shops were just right. So I went online to figure out what I was doing wrong. That's when I discovered Pickle Juice was the missing link. I tried out this recipe for Fresh Dill Dip and fell in love. The flavor was amazing and of course, the fresh dill from my garden made it even better.

I know some of you probably have no desire to eat some of the things that I love. But I don't care - for those of you who love food as much as I do, and particularly, think you'll enjoy the recipes above - Happy Cooking and Eating.

July 24, 2009

Have you ever seen a jelly fish up close? I got to this weekend! While we were out walking along the beach one of our friends spotted a jelly fish and wanted to know if he could catch it. He did and brought it over for all to see! He was pretty sure it was a Moon Jelly Fish.

July 22, 2009

There are so many crafty blogs out there. So many talented women, I'm amazed and inspired by. I'd like to think that some people get inspiration from my ideas and projects too. At least maybe just a little.But the one thing that I don't want anyone to think is that because I have talents or seem to have it all together that I'm one of those uber-wonder-women. I'm not. I do break down and cry sometimes. There are nights my husband comes home and I go take a nap. Dinner is not always on the table at 6 or 7, sometimes we just eat sandwiches for dinner. I'm not trying to say I don't love my life. I do. I have an awesome husband and an adorable son, and I love the home that we've created. What I want you to know is that I am not perfect. I'm just plain old me.
Crafting is one of my many outlets. It helps me take the break I need and makes me feel in control. Perhaps that's why yesterday after one particularly crazy phone call I broke out the fabric and cut out 2 quilt tops and a pattern. That was, of course, after a good long bawl.

July 21, 2009

Are you interested in making a Young Women's Plaque for yourself, your own daughter, or as a Young Women's activity? Here are the instructions on how I did mine:

1. I had a plaque from Value Village on hand. I painted the front cream. You could use a frame, a tile, or anything that you can come up with for this project.

2. I cut a cute piece of scrapbooking paper to the size of the front, coated the front in Mod Podge and pressed on the paper.

3. I used Vinyl Lettering my Mom gave me last year and cut "Virtue" on the Cricut in black Vinyl. I was too impatient and cheap to get the matching font. At the end I've listed a few sites you can order your own YW's vinyl. It's different from the one I used, but super cute too.

4. Once the Mod Podge behind the paper was dry I applied the Vinyl. I didn't coat the front of the paper with Mod Podge or a finishing spray as the paper had a pretty sheen to it I didn't want to mess up.

Where to buy Young Women's Themed Vinyl:

July 20, 2009

I know there are many recipes out there for Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken), it does happen to be a very popular dish. I love it. Just two years ago I was given the wonderful gift of Dream Dinners after our son was born. It was a miracle, a life-saver, and I don't think I've ever fully thanked our friends enough for the wonderful gift. One of those meals was Arroz con Pollo, and since then I have craved it, dreamed of it, and even tried my own hand at it: Mexican Cheesy Chicken and Rice Recipe. While that was yummy (alright, I confess, I love it too), this recipe is to die for!

I finally got the Dream Dinners Recipe book from our library. I've heard so many mixed reviews on it that I couldn't bring myself to buy it. First I learned that most of their recipes are not their popular make-and-take dishes. Then I read how many mistakes that book has (and saw for myself the corrections list on their site) and to top it off no pictures?! I figured free library use versus purchasing it was a brilliant option. That and I do need some freezer dinners now that our second son is on the way. (10 more weeks, but who's counting?) Now, after
discovering the fact that one of my favorite all time recipes is in the book - I will sing it's praises. Alright, I'll let you know how I like the other recipes.

Can I tell you one last thing before I share this recipe? Good: It's dairy free if you omit the cheese topping. And it is just as easily gluten free if you purchase the right products, which for this recipe isn't hard.

OK so, without further ado:

Arroz con Pollo

1 cup uncooked rice (This annoyed me: the instructions tell you to cook the rice, if you have any left-over rice you'll need about 3 cups cooked rice)

1 cup black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn (or canned corn, drained)
6 (4oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

½ cup chicken broth
1 cup salsa
1 cup marinara sauce
½ cup red bell pepper, sliced
½ cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup shredded cheese

Spray 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare the rice according to package directions. Spread the rice over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Layer the beans, corn, and chicken over the rice and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients minus the cheese. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle with cheese.

Serves 6 (So I'm going to make one recipe and freeze half for my little family)

For dinner tonight... Preheat the oven to 350 F (175C). Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the internal temperature of the chicken breasts reaches 165F.

If you want to freeze it for later... Before baking, cover the dish with foil. Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking as directed above. (A good idea is to double the recipe, or half it depending on portion size needs and cook one for dinner while freezing the other.)

Tomorrow the left-overs are going to be cut up, warmed up and wrapped inside a soft tortilla with avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese and a squirt of lime. Oh so divine!

July 17, 2009

I've been a little busy with a sick toddler. I can not tell you how much more laundry there is lately, how messy the house has become, and how crazy life can get when one person in the house is sick. But I know many of you completely understand. Try having a sick one for 4 weeks, with very little rational explanation as to why he's sick. Today he's getting allergy testing again. We're hoping it will give us some answers.
I have had time for a few projects but no time to show them to you. Hopefully soon.
I do have to take a quick moment however and brag about my wonderful husband. Not only is he the one doing 80% of the cleaning and laundry around here. He also just finished a website for a friend of ours. I think it turned out fabulous. All their (my husband and his friend) hard work together was worth it to see our friend so happy with the site, and especially to see him getting more business. I had the lucky opportunity to help out here and there. Mostly giving design advice when asked for, and taking the photographs for the site.
So to my wonderful husband who does so much work - I love you! And for the rest of you - if you want to see the site, or if you're in need of carpet cleaning and live in the greater Seattle area check this company out: Ryan's Restoration. He really will do a fantastic job. Trust me, I've seen his work.

July 11, 2009

So I used Random.org to provide me with an unbiased random selection. Of course, with so few entries the chances of winning were high for both people! The random integer was:

The winner was the first commenter: Colleen!

She said: "I think my favorite value is Divine Nature. Knowing that I have a divine nature is linked to my faith, helps me value my individual worth, encourages me to gain knowledge, helps me appreciate my choice and accountability, motivates me to do good works, and gives me a true reason for having integrity and protecting virtue. My daughter will be a YW in 3 years and I hope she will see by that age that she is truly divine and want to have these values in her life."

Congratulations! I will have this on it's way to you shortly. I'm sure your daughter will enjoy it!

July 10, 2009

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my camera and how much I love Photoshop? Yes? Well, let me mention it again. I LOVE them!

Here's my SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) shot of the Space Needle:

And here's what I was able to do with it after 5 minutes in Photoshop:

5 minutes and I have a cool vintage look to my photo. Is that evidence enough for you? A good camera is worth every penny. Then there's Photoshop. It is so fun to play with photos in that program. I could spend hours, but luckily I don't have to.

Tonight's your last chance to enter the Give Away.

July 9, 2009

This week I started an online Photoshop Frame-Ups and Special Effects class from Jessica Sprague. Why? I've been interested in her classes for some time, but I'm always skeptical about spending money for something I can't really evaluate beforehand. I like to read the reviews on products before buying them, or check it out in a store first. So up until a couple of weeks ago an online Photoshop class was definitely not on my to-do list.

So what does my love of free things have to do with Jessica Sprague's class? When I saw she was offering a free class I jumped all over it! Here was my chance to truly evaluate her classes, and experience first hand, for free, something I was skeptical about. I completed my second assignment this morning. I'll confess, I wasn't overly blown away by the class (as in, I already knew 70% of the material) but what I did learn were short-cuts, easier methods, and I've got a better understanding of the why behind the how. I'm already glad I'm taking the class.

Could it get any better than that? Honing my photoshop skills for free? Yes? Oh, did I mention free Photoshop Frames, Brushes, Word Art, Masks and Texture Overlays? Yup, throw in a few of each of those for free! Ha. I love free!

Here's Project #1 working with PNG Frames and Word Art:

By the way - while working in Photoshop (CS3) I got stuck. I'd changed all the settings as suggested for the class and then all of a sudden I couldn't do a thing. Photoshop would let me select any tool, but I couldn't use it on the photo. All that showed up was the hand tool. Closing and re-opening the program didn't work. Finally, a quick internet search gave me the answer: I found the topic discussed here, and someone replied with this answer: Go to Edit>Preferences>Reset all Warning Dialogs. Thank-you Internet and dev47 for a quick resolution. I was able to move on.

Here's to Free Stuff! Don't forget to enter my Giveaway.

July 4, 2009

This post marks my 100th Blog entry. I know it's been over a year since I started this blog, and that it's changed drastically since then. What started out as a family blog turned into a way to share my creations and thoughts with my friends. It seems fitting somehow that as I change and grow my blog does too.

This week I'm so lucky to be able to celebrate the remarkable independence of two countries: my native land, Canada, and my home, the U.S.A. I'm proud to be part of both places. I'm grateful to live in a free land, to be able to believe and live as I do, and that is truly what I wish to celebrate.

So on this lovely 4th of July I want to show my appreciation to my friends, family, and readers with a give away that shares a small part of my beliefs!

This is a unique item, and is specifically for young women. The values listed on this plaque are the values of the Young Women's program for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I believe that these are values that should extend beyond that program, however to all people. If we all knew about, understood, accepted, and acted upon these values there would be much more cause for celebration today! I love the fact that in November 2008 Virtue was added as a value to the program. (Hence, I was not able to get the matching font for the last word as I got this prior to the addition. I think it actually works well though, highlighting the newness and importance of the new value.)

This is for all those of you who have a beautiful Young Woman in your home, whether part of the LDS Young Women's program or not, or if you know of a Young Woman who could benefit from this special gift. Please enter.

How to Enter:

1. Post a comment below sharing your favorite value and why. I have comment moderation on so your post will not show up until after I approve it.
2. Only enter if you live in the U.S. or Canada, I will not ship anywhere else.
3. Give Away ends Friday, July 10th at midnight PST.

The winner will be chosen randomly and announced by Monday, July 13th. If I know you I will directly contact you when I post the winner, if not, I will need you to email me using the link in my profile.

*For those of you interested in making this project I will post instructions later this week.