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Friday, February 24, 2012

Upcycling Jeans

My hooligans are horrendously hard on the knees of their jeans. The kindergartener just outgrew a pair, and since the knees were ripped out, I thought I’d upcycle them for Princess Thundercloud.

DSC_0020-1 I may have mentioned a time or thirty that rainbows rock at our house. Oh, and Thundercloud was not actually skateboarding without a helmet…she stood on it for like 10 seconds while I took this photo. And I probably could have caught her if she started to slip. She’s much more coordinated than her brothers, though, so she rarely falls, which is a nice change.

DSC_0017-1 I had this t-shirt material in my stash, bought for who knows what who knows when. I just cut a couple of 4” wide strips from it for the ruffle. I cut the legs off the jeans just above the crotch and far enough below the back pockets that I wouldn’t sew on them, about 1/2”.

First I sewed the two ruffle pieces together to make one long strip. At this point, a prudent sewer would stitch a running stitch along the top and carefully gather it into the correct length ruffle. As a general rule, ruffles take about 1-1/2 times the finished length you need. Being impatient, and only having 30 minutes for this project before picking up the Princess, I gathered the ruffle material onto the cut edge of the jeans. I stopped when I was about 6” from the end, estimated how much I needed, and cut off the rest of the ruffle strip. I sewed the ends together, then finished ruffling it onto the jeans.

I hemmed it using a zigzag stitch, just to be a little decorative. I was even using rainbow thread. I’m the coolest. Just ask my kids.

Just as a heads up, I may or not post next week. The GI and I are headed to an Army conference and my mom will be here with the hooligans. Say an extra prayer for her and her sanity! If I can figure out how to blog on the iPad, I might do a post or two. Don’t hold your breath, though.

Now if I could only get the housekeeping and laundry fairy to show up so I could take a nap…the snowplow rudely awakened me at 2:30 this morning. When we got home from swim and ballet lessons last night, there was not a bit of snow or rain. By the time the plow came, I was shocked to see about 6 inches on the ground. I’m certain the forecast at 6:00 last night said no more than a trace! Oh, well, I’m happy to see it, even if it is two days before we fly to warmer climes.

Have a fabulous weekend, snow or sun, and be green…or rainbow-ish…and upcycle something!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Little Bit of Handmade

While I neither practice nor advocate making handmade cards for kids (unless it’s a relative or other mom that I know will notice and appreciate!), I do like to attach a handmade tag to gifts.

I picked up some cute glitter stickers at Michaels this week, on sale no less, and thought they’d make quick and easy tags.

DSC_0018 I cut my paper in half, to make two 8-1/2” x 5-1/2” sheets, then in half again for four 4-1/4”x5-1/2” sheets, then again for a total of eight pieces, 4-1/4”x 2-3/4”. It’s really economical, too..8 tags from one sheet of cardstock. I rounded and notched corners, stamped a greeting, and added a punched scallop circle.


Put the stickers on, punch a hole at the top, and you’re ready to tie one on! That cute Happy Birthday sentiment can be found in the Sweet Cake stamp set in the Occasions Minicatalog from Stampin’ Up!, if you need it.

This idea, of course, would work for your adult friends, as well. I try to keep a few tags on hand, for wine bottles, flowers, bread, or any other gift that doesn’t really require an entire card.

Stamp a little, create a litte, but most of all, I hope you find time for a little fun today!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Drop by for Drinks and a Bite!

What a bad Catholic I am…here it is Ash Wednesday, and my post today is about wine and indulgent appetizers. Of course, no meat is involved, so perhaps it will be forgiven.

plate If you read this today, it will give you plenty of time to plan for the weekend and a little wine and cheese.

glass I like the little wine charms that have been everywhere for the past few years. However, I always forget to buy any. Here’s a great idea to help guests keep track of their glass.

coasters I used a large flower punch (from Stampin’ Up!, of course), then a smaller (3/4”) round punch to make a hole in the center. Then cut a slit from the edge to the center, and you’re done. If you wanted them to match a party theme, they could be the same paper, but use a silver Sharpie to jot down a name. Of course, it’s up to your guests to refrain from imbibing so much they forget what color they had!

app The other night, GI Joe and I were craving a salty-sweet snack. After rummaging around the kitchen I wound up with these tasty baguettes with jam and cheese.

Bleu Cheese and Fig Jam Crostini


Bleu Cheese, crumbled

Fig Jam

Butter, softened

Split the baguette lengthwise and butter lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Cut into 1” diagonal slices. Spread about 1 tsp fig jam on each slice, then sprinkle with bleu cheese. I found the fig jam at World Market…I’m always seeing recipes with fig jam and needing it.

These ideas should help you be ready for your next impromptu cocktail party, since both are super quick to do. A little touch of details, though, will make your guests feel extra special…even before they start drinking!

I'm linking this up to the Tip Junkie's Tip Me Tuesday...come check out all the great ideas there!

Tip  Junkie handmade projects

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Manly Card for the Manly Man

Here’s a card I first made a few years ago, when this set was brand spankin’ new. I’ve used the layout several times with other stamp sets, I like it so well. To those of you who were in my stamp club when we made this, I apologize…but maybe your life is as chaotic as mine and you’ve completely forgotten it! In that case, enjoy!


All Stampin’ Up! supplies: Totally Tool stamp set
Crumb Cake, Whisper White, and Night of Navy Cardstock
Chocolate Chip Classic Ink; Watercolor Crayons
Plaid DSP from a retired set; 1” and 1 1/4” circle punches; Cutter Kit

This stamp set still makes me grin, and I think I’ve had it for about 4 years. It’s a great manly set, and can be used for all sorts of occasions. The only non-self-explanatory part of this card is probably the distressing. I used the distressing tool on the Cutter Kit to rough up the edges and give it a little texture. Neato, eh?

Now you’re ready to make a card for a man who will appreciate it…and by that I mean save it forever because you took the time to hand craft it!

Sorry this post is so short, but everyone’s been home to keep me company for the last four days, and I’m so far behind I can’t even see today’s to-do list. Hopefully I can get caught up and have time to work on what’s important…keeping you entertained and crafty!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Laissez les Bons Temps Roulez, Y’all

In our Army wanderings, we found ourselves stationed at Fort Polk, LA for about 3 years. While we were still four hours from New Orleans, the entire state celebrates Mardi Gras in one way or another. Growing up in Oklahoma, I knew plenty of people who went to Mardi Gras, but I never realized all the traditions until we were at Polk.

I converted to Catholicism while there, as well, which probably contributed to my appreciation of Fat Tuesday…I had never sacrificed anything for Lent or experienced meatless Fridays (on purpose), either. If you’re Catholic, I’m sure you can relate…year-round, we eat meatless meals two to three nights a week in our family, but as soon as Lent arrives, you can bet all we want on Fridays are steaks and burgers! But I digress (imagine that).

DSC_0039 One Mardi Gras tradition we always observe is having jambalaya and King Cake for Fat Tuesday.

DSC_0030 This year I found a King Cake kit at World Market. In the past, I’ve made it from scratch or ordered King Arthur’s kit. Of course, when we lived in the South, every grocery store had them, so I just bought them.

I was a little skeptical of this cake once I read the directions. It came with a heavy duty Ziploc bag, and we were instructed to mix and knead the dough right in that. So we did, and, much to my surprise, it worked wonderfully. It rose the first time in the bag, even.

DSC_0034 After it rose, I rolled it out, mixed up the filling, and spread it on. If you’ve never had King Cake, it’s a little like a cinnamon roll ring, sliced to serve. It’s so much better than cinnamon rolls, though. Really.

DSC_0035 I rolled it from the long side, then the hubs helped me move it to a baking stone. After shaping it into a ring, I let it rise again for about 30 minutes.

Another thirty minutes in the oven, and it was perfectly golden brown.

The kids helped decorate it, and I’ll stick the baby in just before serving. Although, really, who in our house is going to throw next year’s party if they get the baby? Yeah, it’ll be me, no matter what!

If you can’t find a mix nearby, here’s a link to a tasty from-scratch recipe. You’ll just need to pick up purple, green, and yellow sanding sugars…and a plastic baby to stick inside!

My recipe for Jambalaya came from a friend at Fort Polk who was born and raised in New Orleans. I was amazed at how tasty and easy this is to prepare. I’ve taken out quite a lot of fat (the original recipe had a whole stick of butter in it), but it’s just as delicious as Lindsay’s. I serve it with French rolls, honey butter, and a salad.

By the way, there’s no photo because it’s not all that pretty…jambalaya means a mishmash, after all. But what it lacks in looks, it sure makes up for in flavor!

Louisiana Jambalaya

2 cups Uncle Ben’s converted rice

1 can condensed French onion soup

1 can double strength beef broth

1 soup can water

8 oz tomato sauce

1/2 cup green onions, sliced

2 onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

12 oz reduced fat Jimmy Dean sausage

3 boneless chicken breast, in 1” cubes

1 lb smoked turkey sausage, sliced 1/2” thick

1) In a large Dutch oven, brown all meats together.

2) Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.

3) Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check it at 1 hour…you may need to add 1/2 to 1 cup water if it seems dry.

You can also add shrimp, crawfish, or ground beef, instead of chicken. You just need to end up with about 2 lbs of meat other than the sausage, in whatever combination works for you. If you’d like it spicy, substitute hot sausage for the Jimmy Dean’s.

Enjoy your Fat Tuesday, and Let the Good Times Roll!

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Couple of Random Things I Did

I admit it…I have nothing cohesive to blog about today. But I did make a couple of things this week that I want to show-n-tell…I took the photos, now you’re being forced to look at them! At least I can’t hear you, so you’re not required to “oooh” and “aaah.”

DSC_0018 These are some extremely delectable Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies I made for the GI Joe’s office. I found them on…where else…Pinterest. They’re from the blog, The Novice Chef. She has some amazing ideas there, made with ingredients pretty much anyone has (or can obtain easily).

DSC_0023 This horrible photo badly shows this week’s addition to the organization of my craft room. This is a chalkboard decal from Stampin’ Up!’s Decor Elements line. It’s a couple of years old and no longer available, but you can easily find similar ones at craft stores or at Stampin’ Up! I’ve been wanting chalk markers (like restaurants use on their menu boards) for a while, and found myself at Hobby Lobby with a 40 percent off coupon yesterday, so I bought them,

They work excellently, and don’t just rub off and smear like regular chalk does. The do come off easily when you want them to, however, as does the chalkboard decal. That’s important because I’m sure my next craft room won’t configure the same way and this side of my cabinet will be against the wall or something. It’s Murphy’s Law.

So there’s my Friday wrap-up for the week…great reviews for both the Red Velvet Brownies and the Chalkboard Decals and markers. I call that a good week…two explorations that worked!

Enjoy your weekend, if that’s what you choose to do.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Giving Up on Winter

I’ve decided to accept that our first winter here in Wisconsin will not live up to our snowy expectations. Today it’s a balmy 45 degrees, and I can see the gravel on my driveway again, since the snow has melted.

After taking down the Valentine’s decorations, my front door looked naked, so I decided to make a wreath. grass-wreath Cute, huh? I copied from one I saw on Pinterest, at Capture the Details. Mine’s not exactly like hers, but pretty close, working with what I had on hand.

wrapping This wreath was at Dollar Tree, and a little large for the project, and, amazingly, I bought this eyelash yarn years ago (really, probably 4 years ago or more) to use when gift wrapping or for a little texture on cards. I’ve used a bit of it, but the remainder was plenty for the wreath. I tied it around the wreath and started wrapping, pushing each wrap against the previous. It sounds tedious, but took less than 30 minutes. I was watching Martha at the time, so it didn’t seem like long!

After I finished wrapping, I tied it again before cutting it. I rummaged through my craft stash and found some tiny paper flowers in a Stampin’ Up! Pretties Kit, and the felt flowers are from a Stampin’ Up! Floral Fusion set. I had various size pearl beads that I glued into the center of each flower after I glued the flowers to the “grass.”

For the tag, I printed the saying from my computer and notched the corners to make a tag. To distress it, I wrinkled it all up, smoothed it out, and rubbed some distressing ink over it. To finish, I put in a jumbo eyelet and tied it to the wreath using Early Espresso baker’s twine.

Then I hung it on my door and hoped it will jinx this early spring we’re having! I know, I’ve not really accepted that we won’t have the Blizzard of the Century yet this season. A girl has to have dreams.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Rocks!

As I’ve said before, my hooligans, troublemakers though they are, will eat just about anything. Each has a couple of quirks, so although I do force them to try whatever it is once in a while, I mostly let them avoid those few foods. For the oldest, it’s oatmeal. I think it’s a texture thing. For the middle one, it’s nothing. That kid eats everything and anything that’s not nailed down. The youngest doesn’t like spinach, but she will eat a few bites of it.

This is one of their favorite meals, and it’s really pretty healthy, not to mention quick to prepare. I decided last week to make this, having everything on hand, and it was on the table less than 30 minutes later.


Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage and Spinach

1 spaghetti squash

1 lb bulk turkey Italian sausage

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more for topping

12 oz spinach

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp water

drizzle of balsamic vinegar

DSC_00181) To make the squash: Cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place cut side down in a shallow microwavable dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 15 minutes, until it gives a little when you squeeze it (using a hotpad). Let it cool for about 15 minutes…I just leave it in the microwave while I cook the rest of the dinner.

2) Brown sausage in a large skillet with a lid. Don’t cover the sausage, but you’ll need the lid when you cook the spinach. When the sausage is well-browned, remove from pan and keep warm.

3) To cook the spinach: If you don’t have about 2 Tbsp of oil from the sausage, add enough olive oil to make 2 Tbsp to the skillet. Over medium high heat, add spinach and toss to coat with the oil. Add the 2 Tbsp water, and put the lid on it. It’ll take just a couple of minutes to wilt. After it wilts, turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar.

4) Finish the squash: Hold a half in one hand and use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti" inside. Repeat with the other half. I scrape it right into the same dish I cooked it in...why get another dish dirty? Toss with 2 Tbsp butter and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5) To serve, place squash on plate and top with sausage. Serve spinach alongside, or under sausage. We mix it all together when we eat…extremely tasty! This serves our family of 5, but with no leftovers.

If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash, you should consider it. We like it substituted for pasta with almost any sauce. Obviously, mac-n-cheese still requires the pasta, so don’t try that on your kids and blame it on me!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Scrapping Valentine’s Day

We love to celebrate holidays around here, but I do think Valentine’s Day, along with many other holidays, is becoming way over-commercialized. I heard on the news that the average that each American will spend for Valentine’s Day is $125 this year. Really?

So I’ve tried to keep it handmade this year, for the most part. The hooligans got a few little handmade Valentines from us, and we made the ones for their classmates. Teachers just got a few chocolates, which the kids wrapped in decorated paper. The hubs did leave roses for me this morning, which was super sweet, along with a card and my favorite coffee. I’m pretty sure he didn’t make any of it, but he’s busy saving the world every day, so that’s understandable!

As one of my wise friends said on Facebook today, (paraphrasing here) I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day, and are appreciated for the love you give, and not for the overhyped gift expectations for the day!

Vday-SubwayJust so I’m not remiss in posting something creative today, here’s a digi-scrap page I made for our albums…nothing makes my heart happier than a happy family! (and my GI is happy, he’s just not pictured on this particular page!)

Enjoy a love-ly day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Filling a Football-less Sunday

Everyone at out house seemed to be adrift yesterday, the first Sunday without football in a very long time. Not that we’re total fanatics…we usually don’t turn on the television until 3:00 or so. I’m not sure why everyone was so aimless.

We go to Mass on Saturday evenings (because that’s when our kids are the least ill-behaved), and usually try to keep our Sundays as a day of rest. Their dad takes them swimming at the YMCA, or we go for a hike, or just stay home and sled. None of that was appealing yesterday. So I needed to kickstart our day a little, and these doughnuts were just what we needed.


Cider Doughnuts

(modified slightly from King Arthur Flour’s)

  • 4 tablespoons butter, almost melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Penzeys baking spice (or cinnamon)
  • 2 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Glaze: 2 cups powdered sugar; 2 Tbsp boiled cider; water to loosen if needed

1) To make the doughnuts: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a standard doughnut pan. I bought one at Target a couple of weeks ago. They had round or hearts then. I’m a little addicted to these baked doughnuts, especially since it’s over half an hour to Dunkin’ Donuts.

2) Beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and spices.

3) Beat in the boiled cider, then the egg. I really like this boiled cider. It’s just concentrated cider, but much better than using frozen apple juice concentrate. We also put this on our waffles, with a little peanut butter…yum! Anyway, then scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

4) Whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Or do what I actually do and just put them on top of the wet ingredients and stir it all together.

5) Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour.

6) The directions for the pan say to spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing the tops. The first time, I found this difficult to do neatly. Now I spoon the batter into a Ziploc, close it, and cut off a corner. Then I can just pipe the batter into the wells easily.

7) Bake the doughnuts for 10 to 12 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into one comes out clean.

8) Remove them from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. Put a piece of wax paper under your wire rack, to catch the glaze drips later.

9) Mix glaze ingredients in a flat-bottomed bowl, then dip the doughnut tops into it. Set back on wire rack to cool. Sprinkle them with whatever you’d like, if your Sunday is in need of excitement.

These doughnuts are very tasty, but don’t taste like old-fashioned, fried doughnuts. We actually like them better…they’re a bit like a muffin, but more moist and dense. And, by the way, I made fruit salad and Egg Beaters with cheese to round out our breakfast.

Soon after eating, the hooligans were ready to tackle the outdoors. The temps dropped into the teens Saturday night, so it was quite chilly out.


They sledded for awhile, then somehow they were persuaded to haul wood in using their sleds. That GI Joe of mine is pretty clever sometimes!


DSC_0028Then the big one and the little one decided sledding down the stairs would be a good idea. I think they got this idea from their Papa Colorado, who told them he used to ride his bike down the building stairs in New York. They don’t remember anything else he tells them, but he mentioned this once and they’ll never forget. I stopped them right here, so no one actually traveled down the stairs.

We do still have three hooligans, but the middle (and smartest) one was back inside, having warm peppermint milk and leftover doughnuts. He had been kicked in the head by a sibling while sledding and needed a little comfort.

Everyone ventured back outside after lunch, and I managed to come up with a couple of ideas to entertain them. First I filled some old spray bottles with food-coloring tinted water for them to paint on the snow. That worked for about 20 minutes, then of course they started painting each other.

In the meantime, I boiled pure maple syrup for about 6 minutes, to hard crack stage, in a saucepan over medium high heat. It really boils up, so use a much bigger pan than you think you need. I boiled about a cup. When it reached hard-crack, I took it outside and quickly poured it in a thin stream on a patch of clean snow. It hardens almost immediately, then the kids can pick it up and eat it! It’s like maple hard candy. I’m pretty sure I saw some squirrels out this morning acting even more hyper than usual, so I think the kids didn’t get all the sugar out of the snow!

I read both these ideas years ago, but after we left Ft. Drum, NY. We haven’t lived anywhere snowy and/or cold enough since, so I’m glad we got a chance to try them out!

They sledded a bit more, then came inside as I was starting to make dinner. I fed them Miso Soup to warm them up this time, instead of hot chocolate or anything sweet. They love miso soup, so didn’t even complain…except that I only made them one bowl each!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cherries and Chocolate…and Digi-Scrapping

DSC_0030 So I made this amazing chocolate cherry pound cake to share with you today. Then I sent it off to the office with the hubs. Without checking the photos I took last night. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but you’ll get the idea. It turned out to be a dense, moist, rich, dark chocolate bundt cake that really needed no frosting, so I just dusted powdered sugar on it. If you felt like it, a chocolate ganache glaze would be excellent, I’m sure.

Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp instant espresso powder

3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar

1 Tbsp cherry juice concentrate

5 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup dried cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan (this is a really important step!).

Whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well after each addition, then add the cherry concentrate. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

When well-blended, fold in chopped dried cherries. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for an hour and twenty minutes, until wooden skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto cake plate.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving. If you have fresh cherries, they make a pretty garnish alongside on each plate. I don’t have fresh cherries here in the upper Midwest this time of year, so a maraschino cherry had to stand in for the photo.

If you’re looking for cherry concentrate, I love the one King Arthur Flour sells. I was thrilled to discover in our local grocery store,with the large selection of cherry products. Really. Although it seems a little pricey, one bottle goes a long way. I use it for sodas, cakes, frostings, salad dressings…every chance I get! Find it here.

I’ve also been scrapbooking a bit this week. Here’s a scrapbook page of our family on a winter walk. I’m not sure of the correlation to chocolate pound cake, it’s just a reminder to scrap the moments, not just the events…to myself!


I’ve just thought of yet another benefit of digital scrapbooking…you can eat chocolate cake without fear of getting it on your pages. Keyboards can always be cleaned, after all.

Enjoy your weekend…we’re getting snow today. so perhaps we can go sledding. And by that, I mean the kids can sled while I watch from inside by the fire while reading. Or surfing Pinterest.

One last note...I added a search box up on the right sidebar, so you can "Search the Chaos" for certain recipes, crafts, etc. Sorry I didn't do that sooner!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Be Kind and Happy Today

Today I have a couple of cards to share that just make me happy. I read a study recently that by being kind to someone, you actually release a chemical in your own brain that makes you happy. So it’s a win-win, scientifically proven.


All Stampin’ Up supplies: Heaerd from the Heart and Hello Doily stamp sets
Pool Party, Lucky Limeade, and Very Vanilla Cardstock
Everyday Enchantment DSP and Brad; Pool Party and Lucky Limeade classic inks

As I’ve said before, I send more thank you cards than any other type. I think this means I should consider myself blessed to have so many friends and family that spoil me!

This is a super simple card, just stamps, ink, paper with a brad added. One of my favorite things about Stampin’ Up! supplies is that our papers, inks, and embellishments are color-coordinated, so you know everything will match. When you stamp paper with the same color ink, the stamped image will just be a shade darker, making a great background, as with the Hello Doily stamp. I like easy when I stamp! Or do anything, for that matter.


All Stampin’ Up supplies: Mixed Bunch and Pursuit of Happiness stamp sets
Very Vanilla, Pool Party, and Lucky Limeade cardstock; Blossom and Corner Rounder Punches
Everyday Eanchantment DSP and Brad; Calypso Coral and Lucky Limeade classic inks

The sentiment on this card could be used for any occasion and, again, it’s a quick and easy card. It’s another stamps-ink-paper card with a brad added and a paper punch to add a 3D element.

I stamped an image from the Mixed Bunch stamp set, then punched it out and punched a solid Pool Party blossom as well. The layering gives it interest, especially with the brad and using Dimensionals to pop it out a bit.

You can’t really tell in the photo, but the entire front piece is popped out, as well, with the corners rounded. It’s a pretty simple, yet polished card. In my opinion, of course. Yours may vary.

By the way, I used several products that were FREE through the Sale-a-Bration promotion going on now through the end of March at Stampin’ Up!, of course. The Everyday Enchantment DSP and the coordinating Brad and Ribbon set have such great colors…they work for late winter, spring, and summer projects. I’ve been less than enthusiastic about the new Calypso Coral In Color, but I really like the pop it provides in this color palette. OK, that’s enough pitching Stampin’ Up!…you get the idea. And I’m sure you know you can shop 24/7 on my Stampin' Up! website, or you can email me with an order.

I hope you have time to be kind and make a card…and make your brain happy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Few More Sweet Valentine Ideas

Before I run out of time before Valentine’s Day, I have just a few more ideas to share. And, if my sister-in-law is reading this, you really should stop now, if you want to be surprised!

DSC_0017This is a gift for one of my friends, who loves chocolate. I wanted to fancy it up a bit, so I printed a digital scrapbook paper on a sheet of address labels. They perfectly wrap around a Hershey’s Nugget. Some of these are a bit off because Princess Thundercloud insisted on helping…the friend we were making these for totally spoils her, so she wanted to return the favor. I bought the little paper purse for next to nothing, so it made a perfect container.

DSC_0032 My kindergartener’s teacher sent a paper heart home and asked for the parents to decorate it and attach a little message. They’re to be hung in the hallway at school. The instructions said to be as creative as you like, and use lace, buttons, glitter, etc. Being a boy, he’s not going to be happy with something girly, and he loves rainbows, so I thought of this.

I’ve been wanting to try this glitter technique I saw on the Martha Stewart show…demonstrated by a very nice woman from right here in Wisconsin. She made ornaments at Christmas, but I thought nothing goes better than glitter and Valentines!


To do this, you just need a sheet of double-sided sticky paper (from the craft store) and a bunch of glitter. As I mentioned the other day, I have a set from Martha that doesn’t get enough use. First, cut out a piece of sticky paper the same shape as your heart. Then use a rule to draw lines on the liner. I made 12 segments, since I wanted to use 6 colors and have it come out in the right pattern. You could also just use strips of sticky tape, if you wanted a striped pattern.

Cut one wedge at a time and peel off one side to attach it to your paper heart. Peel the other side off and glitter that piece. DSC_0026Just continue to cut, place, and glitter each piece until you’re done.

I cut out a heart to write the sentiment on and added a ruffle made of Stampin’ Up!’s Silver Waffle Paper. It is so much fun to work with…I need to use it more. This took about 30 minutes, start to finish. Of course, I now need to make glittered Valentines for the other two hooligans so I won’t be accused of favoritism. But that’s okay…I love glitter!

I also wanted something with a little meaning for my husband. I think this framed art for his desk or nightstand works well.

DSC_0019This photo has been edited with different dates pasted over, but on the actual one, I typed the dates of our first kiss, our wedding, and the dates of our kids’ births. You, of course, could use any dates that are important to you and your love story. And, on a completely unromantic note, it’ll remind him of those dates and he’ll have no excuse for not getting you a gift.

Now I’ve got to get my mind off Valentine’s Day…we have all our classroom Valentines made, and our packages are ready for the mail tomorrow. Thundercloud and I are going to go explore a nearby town today, I think. I read on Martha’s blog about a candy store with amazing caramel apples…I can hear them calling my name, even from 20 miles away.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sometimes, You Just Don’t Want to Stuff Cabbage

And that’s the perfect time to make unstuffed cabbage! It’s a great comfort food (have you noticed my life requires a lot of comfort foods?), and one of my favorites to take to friends when they need a break from cooking or daily life in general.

This is a recipe I first saw in either Family Circle or Woman’s Day, about a year ago. However, I couldn’t find it again by searching online, for whatever reason, after the first time I made it. This is the recreated version…I think it’s pretty much spot on, and, even the things I’ve changed only make it better, I think!

My mom made stuffed cabbage frequently for Sunday lunch at my grandmother’s house, getting up early and letting it cook while we were at church. Looking back, I realize it was a little odd that the small town in rural Oklahoma where I grew up had a rather large Lebanese population. In the steakhouses there, cabbage rolls are served as an appetizer, and so delicious. My mom made entree-sized ones, but they were just as tasty, if not more so!

This recipe has most of her ingredients, minus rice. That’s because I serve it over mashed potatoes, so it doesn’t need a starch in it. Enough blathering and ‘splaining myself…just try it, you’ll like it!

DSC_0019-1 Unstuffed Cabbage

1 lb ground beef

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

2 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or any diced tomatoes)

1 1/2 cups water (I fill a tomato can about 3/4 full)

1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)

1 Tbsp oregano

1 Tbsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

12 oz bag coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)

Brown the beef and onions together in a Dutch oven. Add garlic and cook another minute or so. Stir in remaining ingredients, except coleslaw mix. Bring to a simmer, then add coleslaw mix, making sure it’s all coated with the tomato mixture. Cover and bring to a boil. After about 5 minutes, stir cabbage down into tomato mixture. Cover and simmer for about an hour, until the cabbage is soft.

Serve over mashed potatoes, with steamed green beans as a side. Or whatever you want. I’m certainly not the boss of you and your sides! For our side in this photo, I steamed fresh green beans, squeezed half a lemon over them, drizzled on a little olive oil, and seasoned them with salt and pepper. It’s our favorite way to eat them!

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Cards, Hangin’ Around

After I design a card, I usually put it in a basket of samples on my work desk. Then I forget how much I liked it until I’m rifling through the cards, looking for a layout to reuse. So I decided that I need a bulletin board type display area, on which I could easily swap out cards as I design. I don’t want to put holes in my cards, though, with tacks or metal clips, so I wanted to use clothespins.

I bought the largest barnwood open frame I could find (at Hobby Lobby with a 40 percent off coupon) and thought I was done. But then I remembered that I have a whole kit of Martha Stewart Glitter in about 20 colors that has been woefully under-utilized as most of my paper-crafting is done with Stampin’ Up! supplies. I immediately set out to rectify this!


I first covered one side of each clothespin with imitation Sticky Strip, 1/4” wide. I thought it looked better to do two short strips, leaving the spring arm exposed. It really was a quick process. Then I glittered them, four at a time, on scrap paper. After each color, I used the scrap paper to easily funnel the excess glitter back into the container. I used 6 colors of glitter and 24 clothespins…not the smallest I could find, but not regular clothespins, either. I found these at Michael’s in the unfinished wood section, about $3 for 24. They’re not quite 2 inches long.


To finish the frame, I stapled heavy hemp twine across, as tautly as I could get it, and tied each end in a knot around the staple. I dabbed a bit of E6000 on the knots and let it dry overnight.

card-clothesline I used a wide striped ribbon to hang it, wrapping it around the front of the frame and stapling a couple of times. GI Joe thinks it will stretch and I’ll be unhappy with it, but I can always fix that if I need to. Without being that unhappy.


I have way more glittered clothespins than I need, but wouldn’t they look cute holding a paper gift bag closed? Or a wrapped bouquet of flowers, attaching the card? Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.

This frame is one more aspect of my craft room to be organized. I’m pretty sure I’ll get the whole shebang just as I want it eventually. Most likely the week the movers come to pack us up for our next move. But a girl can dream!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Long Day at Home

Today my hooligans all get to spend the day with me. Yay. It’s above freezing here, but barely. Enough, however, that if I kick them outside, they’ll come in coated with mud from head to toe. So we’re thinking of inside activities.

I do love making Valentines for school, though, so that’s what we did all morning. I’m sure you’ve seen all of these ideas in one form or another, but I think each fits perfectly.

DSC_0018 The oldest got to choose what to make, and after (painful for me) deliberation, went with “You Rock” attached to Pop Rocks. I found the guitar valentine at The Fickle Pickle blog. I just copied and pasted it to Photoshop Elements, added the hooligan’s name for the “from” part, and added a snazzy polka dot background. Quick and easy. All he had to do was write each classmate’s name and staple the card to the Pop Rocks. He’s all about using the stapler, so happy to do it!


The kindergartener agreed to making rainbow fish crayons and coloring this “fin-tastic” stamp for his 22 classmates. I know my time is running out for him to tolerate these puns on his name, so we spent a little more time on his. He did a great job coloring and then writing each classmate’s name, I thought. We put them in a small ziploc bag decorated with hearts. I found those at Dollar Tree.


Princess Thundercloud had these 3D Valentines last year, as well. She was much more cooperative while taking the photo this year, which was a pleasant surprise. These are fairly cheap…I added the sentiment with Photoshop Elements, then printed wallet size photos at Costco. They’re $0.39 for 4, then the lollipops were from Walmart and inexpensive.

There are tons of ideas online, if you’re still looking. I heard a newsperson say Google searches for handmade Valentine ideas is up three thousand percent over last year. Wow! They are a fun activity to do with your kids, and I look forward to it every year!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Game Day Snacks with a Twist

You knew I wouldn’t let the Super Bowl pass by without a few tasty snack recipes, didn’t you? These are not necessarily the processed fatbombs my GI Joe would choose, but he does really enjoy them. I think they’re immeasurably better than his choices, though, and I hope you will, too.


Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears

2 pears, cored and cut into 12 wedges

4 wafer-thin slices prosciutto

12 small basil leaves (or 12 pieces from larger leaves)

Balsamic Vinegar, for drizzling

Shaved Parmesan Reggiano (I use a vegetable peeler to make shavings)

Cut the prosciutto into 3 long pieces per slice. Holding a basil leaf on a slice of pear, wrap 1 piece of the prosciutto around. Repeat until they’re all wrapped. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, then brown the wrapped pears in it, turning after a couple of minutes to brown each side.

Place on serving plate, drizzle with balsamic, and sprinkle with Parmesan shavings.

This is excellent with fresh peaches, too, when they’re in season. Pears are so juicy right now, they work well this time of year.

Carmelized Onion Dip

2 cups thinly sliced onion

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp butter

2 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tbsp black pepper

8 oz light sour cream

8 oz light cream cheese

In a medium skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and sprinkle with sugar. Stirring frequently, cook over medium-low heat until caramelized and golden. Add balsamic vinegar and black pepper, stir, and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature.

Cream together the sour cream and cream cheese, then stir in onions. Chill until 30 minutes before serving. Serve with classic ridged potato chips (I used baked, and they taste great with it!).

Buffalo Chicken Salad Sliders

3 cups chicken breast, cooked and shredded or diced fine

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled

4 celery ribs, diced

2 Tbsp Frank’s Hot Sauce (or your wing sauce of choice)

8 slider buns or dinner rolls

Mix all except buns in medium bowl. Put about 1/4 cup chicken salad on each slider roll bottom. If desired, top with blue cheese dressing, more hot sauce, or provolone cheese. We like them with just the chicken and bread, though.

I’m also going to make these Cranberry Feta Pinwheels, which I found on the Food Network site. For drinks, we’ll have the standard beer, but also a couple of other drinks for the kids and me. Can you guess which is for whom?

Cherry-Almond Cream Sodas

(per soda)

1 Tbsp concentrated cherry juice

1 Tbsp Almond Syrup (such as Torani)

2 Tbsp fat-free half and half (optional)

Plain Seltzer water


Put ice in glass, add cherry concentrate and half and half, and fill rest of glass with seltzer. For an adult version, add 2 Tbsp amaretto, as well.

Oatmeal Apple Shandy

6 oz oatmeal stout

2 oz apple cider

Just put them in a glass together and enjoy! It’s super smooth and delicious. This is the one for me, in case you were wondering!

So no matter who you’re rooting for (our two favorites didn’t make it, even!), enjoy the game, the ads, and most of all, the snacks!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Knitted, I Felted, I Organized

I have a cute little clutch to show you today that I made by felting a piece of knitting. I wanted something to keep my knitting odds and ends in…scissors, yarn needles, emergency candy. You know.


Being a fairly new knitter, this was a technique I’ve long admired. Imagine how happy I was when it turned out the way (and size) I planned!

To make it, I first knitted a piece about 11” wide by 14” long. I used Paton’s Classic Wool in a variegated shade and size 10 needles, 16 stiches=4” in stockinette stitch (knit on right side, purl on wrong side). I cast on 56 stitches, began with a knit row, then purl row, and so on until it was 14 inches long.

DSC_0003-1 I washed it twice in hot water with a couple of towels.

DSC_0002-1 I dried it in the dryer the first time, but just blocked it to straighten out the edges and let it air dry the second time.

DSC_0006I found myself pretty fascinated by how it changes through washing. So I took a bunch of photos.

After it’s completely dry, use the yarn and a yarn needle to blanket stitch the edges together and outline the flap. I started at the fold on the left side and stitched up the side, around the flap, and down the other side. Here's a great tutorial on how to blanket stitch, in case you’re like me and forget from one time to the next.

After it’s stitched, cut a slit for the button in the center of the flap and sew your button to the bag part. There you are, a pursemaker! How about that?

This was pretty quick and easy. It took a couple of evenings to knit, then time to felt (but not hands-on), and about half an hour to finish it. The final measurements are about 5" x 8".

I’m sure you have something that needs to be contained, so you should make one. It would be a super-cute crossbody bag, as well, if you put a cord on it, either an i-cord you knit or something from the fabric store. Or 550 cord, if you’re military. We always have that lying around!