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Friday, March 30, 2012

Last Call

I just realized that it’s almost April!  Which means I need to get busy planning what little tricks I’ll play on the hooligans on April 1, but also it means that SALE-A-BRATION at Stampin’ Up! is ALMOST OVER!!!!
If you’re in need of stamps, supplies, or inspiration, pop on over to my website and do a little shopping…before midnight on March 31, if you want FREE stamps and supplies, that is.  Just a reminder that the 2010-2012 In Colors will be retiring (gone, not availalble, never to be seen again) as of June 1, 2012.  Those colors are Concord Crush, Pear Pizzazz, Poppy Parade, Blushing Bride, and Peach Parfait.  I’m particularly fond of Pear Pizzazz and Poppy Parade, so I’m going to stock up on papers and ink refills.  Oh, and ribbon in those colors.  That’s my hard sell for Stampin’ Up!…now to show you a couple of Easter cards to whet your stamping appetite!


Supplies: Well-Scripted stamp set(retired)
Whisper White, Melon Mambo, and Pretty in Pink cardstock; Retired Welcome Neighbor DSP
XL Oval, Corner Rounder, and Scallop Circle punches; Big Shot and Embossing Folder

I apologize for using so many retired and/or non-Stampin’ Up! products on this card.  It’s easily adapted to what you already have, though, with other papers and embossing folders.  You could even print out the sentiment on DSP in whatever font you like from your computer.  I just like the way you get a peek of the ovals so they appear to be egg-shaped.

This could also be a birthday or anytime card with peeks of presents, stamped flowers, or balloons.
The other Easter card I made this week is a total CASE (that’s stamper-ese for I copied it from someone else) from Jason's Stamping Pad.



How cute is that?  He has a list of all the supplies…uses the Everyday Enchantment DSP which is only available as a Sale-A-Bration item, so if you want it, place an order ASAP!  I made it from just the list of supplies, without specific directions, and it really wasn’t difficult to figure out. I mean, once he’d done all the work and I just had to copy it!

Now I’ve got to get busy figuring out my April Fool’s tricks.  Jello in a juice glass with a straw is always good, as well as putting food coloring in the bottom of a glass or cereal bowl, so the milk changes color as you add it.  I’ve also made “grilled cheese” with slices of toasted pound cake as the bread and orange-tinted icing as the cheese.  Oh, and the ever-popular cupcakes made of little meatloaves with tinted mashed potato “icing” on top.

Have fun, and I hope you don’t get fooled!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stamp Those Cookies!

Last fall, Stampin’ Up! introduced Sweet Pressed Cookie Stamps.  I was skeptical of how crisp the images would remain, but I kept seeing the same concept in various kitchen catalogs such as Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel.  So I thought it must be possible.  But how easy would it be?  I ordered both the holiday and the occasions sets (because why go halfway when you’re unsure about something?).

We made some shortbread cookies with hearts on them for the hooligans’ great-grandma for her birthday, and they turned out pretty well.  They stuck a little as we stamped, though, so I wasn’t all gung-ho about trying them again.DSC_0025
Princess Thundercloud really wanted to make cookies today, so I decided to give the Easter ones a try.  I followed the recipe that came with the stamps to the letter, and these worked beautifully.  Well, they didn’t stick, anyway.  Thundercloud helped decorate them, so I’m not sure “beautiful” is the adjective to use.

The steps, in case you can’t figure out how stamping cookies would work.

Switching out the stamps was super easy…even a three-year-old can do it!

She was pretty proud of her abilities!

I think these got a little too brown, but they still taste yummy. The images really are very crisp on the cookies, in real life.

We decorated them using by painting on corn syrup where we wanted sugar pearls and colored sugar to stick.  The colors are just water with food coloring that we also painted on.

All in all, while not professional, they do look very spring-y and handcrafted!  They really didn’t take long, either…no chilling of the dough or waiting for icing to set.

Here’s the recipe.  It’s a good shortbread, even without stamping on it!

Sugared Shortbread (recipe from Stampin’ Up!)

1 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cornstarch
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add vanilla, cornstarch, and flour and mix well.  Dough should be soft, but not sticky.  If it’s sticky, add a bit of flour, 2 Tbsp at a time, until it isn’t.

Roll dough into 1-1/2” balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and press with cookie stamp.  Place 3” apart.  Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until bottom is slightly brown but top is not.

Makes approximately 18 cookies.

By the way. Chrissy over at The Taylor House blog is hosting her first linky party...check it out for some fun ideas and inspiration!

The Taylor House

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easter…Not Really About Bunnies and Chocolate?

Lest you think from all my Easter crafts that we are complete heathens who just care about the competition of egg hunts and biting the heads off chocolate bunnies, here are links to a few of the meaningful preparations we do for Easter. I could do tutorials of my own, but since someone else already did, why not give them the credit for being inspiring?
Resurrection Eggs are a favorite every year at our house. My mom gave me the instructions for making these back before I even had kids, and I made them for friends and such. This is a great visual aid to reinforce the story of Easter, for kids and adults alike. The 12 day countdown starts today, so you still have time…I bet you have all the supplies right in your home already!
image Resurrection Cookies are another great (and tasty) way to visually experience the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. They’re a meringue cookie that has various ingredients symbolic of parts of the Easter story, and are left in the oven overnight to finish…then the inside is empty, as was the tomb. So make these the night before Easter, since they sit overnight.
imageMy sister-in-law taught me years ago about the tradition of Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. The icing cross on top reminds us of the crucifixion and Jesus. In past years, I’ve used a mix from King Arthur Flour that is delicious, but this year I’m making them from scratch, although still from a King Arthur recipe.

As with so many Christian traditions, hot cross buns can be traced to a pagan celebration that was replaced with a Christian one as Christianity spread. The four quadrants the icing creates represent the four seasons and the goddess Eostre. Really. I looked it up on Wikipedia. No, I'm joking. I did actual research.

Our eldest child is making his First Communion at the end of April, so this is an especially meaningful Lenten and Easter season for us. I’m sure his religious ed teacher thinks we’ve taught him nothing, as he comes home from class amazed each week. Hopefully she realizes that it’s a case of him finally believing when any adult other than his parents tell him things. He continues to think we’re not too bright and lucky to have him to teach us stuff.
Last night he told me about the soldier forcing Jesus to take the sponge soaked in wine (vinegar is the way I learned it growing up) and he was surprised I knew about it already. Oh, well, if it makes him happy to “discover” this, it makes me happy, too! I may have to start acting like a dumb blonde, so he can educate me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Berry-best Chicken Salad

Can you tell we watch a little too much Strawberry Shortcake around here? Of course, that threshold is not too hard to surpass. But on with blog business.

I have a confession to make. I do not like salad. I know, it’s shocking. I should say I don’t like lettuce. I love chopped vegetable salads, and I like main dish salads that are heavy on vegetables other than lettuce. And yes, I’ve tried all kinds…it’s not that I tried Iceberg and didn’t care for it. Although I did and didn’t.

Since moving to Wisconsin, we have become Culver’s Butterburger and Custard fans. If you’ve not tried either, they are da bomb. As the kids say. (I know they don’t really say that anymore, but I like to sound hip.) Occasionally, though, if I really want custard after my meal, I order one of their chicken salads instead of a Butterburger. It’s really pointless, since I looked up the nutrition info online and the salad is basically the same as a burger, but I feel virtuous about it.

They do make a darn tasty Strawberry Fields Chicken Salad, and here’s my home version of it.


Chicken Salad with Strawberries

2 boneless chicken breasts, about 6 oz. each

1 heart Romaine lettuce, chopped

2 cups strawberries, chopped (about 4 whole berries per salad)

1/2 to 1 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup green onions, sliced (green parts only)

1/2 cup chopped roasted pistachios, pecans, or almonds (we prefer pistachios)

Raspberry or Cranberry Vinaigrette, store-bought
Strawberry-Balsamic Dressing: Whisk together 1 Tbsp strawberry jam, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil.

1. Pressing down on a chicken breast with one hand, slice horizontally through the center to make 2 thin fillets with each breast. Alternatively, you can buy the thin-sliced ones, but where’s the fun in that?

2. Salt and pepper them well, and place on very hot grill or grill pan. I use a cast-iron grill my GI gave me for Christmas…it works fabulously. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on first, then heat over medium high. Reduce to medium when you put the chicken in, and leave it alone for about 5 minutes, until it turns loose on its own. That means it’s ready to turn over. Cook on the other side for about 3 minutes, until it also turns loose. If you're grilling it outside, I'm sure you know how to cook a piece of chicken, so I won't boss you about it.

3. Remove the chicken and let it rest while you assemble the salads. Divide evenly among 4 chilled plates the lettuce, strawberries, onions, nuts, and cheese. Slice chicken diagonally and arrange prettily (as I did not in the photo) on top of salad, then drizzle with dressing. The strawberries are so juicy and the salad so flavorful, it doesn’t need a lot of dressing.

This comes together in no time…you can easily cut up the lettuce, strawberries, and nuts in the time it takes the chicken to cook. We can sit down to dinner a half hour after I decide to make this. We usually have some sort of French or Italian bread to accompany it…after all, we’re not having custard for dessert when we eat at home!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

So Very Kool (Aid)

I’ve noticed several examples of coloring eggs using Koolaid, and I really wanted to try it. I love the smell of vinegar in mixed in regular Paas egg dye…I’m immediately mentally back in my mom’s kitchen, coloring eggs with my brother and her. We often travel for Easter, though, and it’s hard to color eggs in our hotel room, even ones with a kitchenette, when you have to take vinegar along on your vacation.

With Kool-aid, you just mix a packet of non-sweetened powder with 2/3 cup water in a coffee cup, and, Bob’s your uncle, your dye is ready! The packets are 20 cents each, so it’s about the same cost as regular dye tablets. I wasn’t able to find as many colors, and I read that grape winds up gray, so I’m mixing blue and cherry to make it. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I wanted a vase filled with eggs in graduated shades to use as a centerpiece. First, I blew out 36 eggs. I know, it’s a ton. I only did 18 at first, but that wasn’t enough to fill my vase. Actually, I’m using my trifle bowl. See?

My GI came home as I was starting the second 18 eggs, so I was happy to share the experience with him. I poked the holes and scrambled the insides, and he blew out most of them. I tell you this in case he reads this post and expects credit.


As you can kind of see, it’s half “strawberry” eggs and half “lemon-lime.” To get the graduated effect, I left 6 eggs in for a minute and a half, 6 for 30 seconds, and the last 6 I just dipped in to cover, then immediately out.

DSC_0022 The lemon-lime ones are most noticeable graduated, but they’re both pretty.

I colored the strawberry ones using my fingers to submerge the eggs. Apparently Kool-aid is quite strongly colored…it took many, many hand-washings to get it off my fingers. I felt really virtuous that my kids have never had it (at least not at our house), so I'm not responsible for turning their intestines weird colors.

With the green, I used the tines of a fork to submerge the eggs, and my fingers were glad of it.

And what to do with all those blown out insides? I made a yummy Roasted Vegetable Frittata with some. It’s adapted (a bit) from Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That? cookbook. I love her recipes. I’ve never made anything from her that wasn’t superb.

Roasted Vegetable Frittata
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch slices--halved (aiming for bite-sized pieces)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and 1-1/2 inch dice
1/2 red onion, 1-1/2 inch dice
3 Tbsp good olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
9 large eggs
3/4 cup fat-free half-and-half or whole milk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 green onion, diced

1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
--Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and spread zucchini, red pepper, and red onion on it. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Roast 425°F for 15 minutes; add the garlic and roast for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and lower heat to 350°F.
--In a medium bowl, whisked the eggs, half-and-half, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
--In a large oven-proof skillet, melt the butter and cook green onion for 1 minute.Add roasted vegetable, cook for a minute, then pour the egg mixture over the veggie mixture. Cook on stovetop, without stirring for 2 minutes, then pop it right back into the oven for 20 minutes, until the frittata was nice and puffed up. Sprinkle cheddar (or whatever kind of cheese you have on hand) to the top, bake for another 3 minutes until the cheese was melted. Serve hot. This served all of us, with a lunch leftover.

We had it with ciabatta cinnamon toast and cut-up strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and pineapple.

To make the cinnamon toast, I mixed 1/2 cup softened butter with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon. Then I split some ciabatta rolls from Costco and cut them diagonally, spread them with the butter mix, and baked them at 350 for 8 minutes. Lastly, I broiled them for about 2 minutes, until the top was crunchy.

I know this sounds like an involved meal, but it took less than hour, even roasting the veggies. Most of that was not hands on time, either. I spent about 5 minutes prepping the veggies, 5 minutes mixing the eggs and sauteing the green onions, and 10 minutes on the bread and fruit. So 20 min of hands on time isn’t bad for such a satisfying dinner!

An egg is roughly 1/4 cup. I blew mine into an 8-cup measuring cup/bowl, then just measured out the amount I needed for each recipe. I also made an Asparagus Sourdough Strata from King Arthur Flour and Blueberry Stuffed French Toast and put them in the freezer for some future breakfasts or dinners. Then I had to go take some ibuprofen to get rid of the massive egg-blowing induced headache!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Layer It In!

It's so fun to give someone a mix rather than the actual cookies, bread, or soup already my opinion, that is! Being the kid of teachers, I remember how inundated our house was on holidays with homemade treats. It was great, but it would have been nice to have some of them a few weeks later. Don't get me wrong...teachers are appreciative of anything you give them...Heaven knows they deserve it!

I saw these cute Easter carafes at...guess which of the 4 places I shop? Yes, Target! I imagine my family as one who sits down to a full breakfast every morning, with pancakes, bacon, and eggs dished up on the table and a carafe of freshly-squeezed orange juice. Instead, I pour Tropicana's best directly from the carton into our glasses. But wouldn't it be wonderful to be a carafe-style family? Aahhh, someday.

Until then, this carafe makes a great container for a layered cookie mix, using pastel M&M's. It would be a perfect teacher, hostess, or friend gift. Most layered cookie recipes fill a quart jar, or 4 cups. This carafe is larger, which is a good thing for juice because our family of 5 needs more than a quart of juice.
Since I had so much space at the top of this carafe, I filled it with edible Easter grass (also from Target, of course). When using a Mason jar, I usually crumple up wax paper just to fill the space at the very top, in case someone (like my hooligans), decides to upend the jar on the way to the recipient. In this case, I cut a circle of wax paper the same diameter as the carafe, just to separate the M&M's from the edible grass. This would become all mixed up if turned upside down, though, so don't give it to a hooligan to deliver.

M&M Cookies
In jar, layer the following. Use the end of a wooden spoon to tamp each layer down before adding the next layer.

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar(spoon it in, so it doesn't go "whomp" and make the white sugar uneven)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup M&M's (whatever colors fit the occasion)

Embellish as you wish. I used my Big Shot and the new Framelits to cut a label out of chalkboard decal paper. That way, they can erase the greeting and write the contents on the carafe later. I tied the directions on using Stampin' Up!'s new Pool Party Bakers' Twine.

Speaking of directions, here they are, so people won't think you just gave them a carafe of random ingredients.

M&M Cookies

3/4 cup butter , softened
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Empty container into a large bowl.
2. Add butter and eggs. Stir by hand (so you don't break the candies) until well-mixed.
3. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are browned.
4. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for 1 minute. Remove to wire rack and let cool completely. Or eat them warm with milk...that's the best!

Makes 3 dozen or so

Now I'm all ready to be invited somewhere that requires me to bring a gift. Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? But first, I'm gonna share this project over at Frugal Girls Chic and Crafty Party...have you checked it? So much inspiration every week...just click on the button below and browse away!

Taking It Easy

By taking it easy I mean I’'ve made some super simple stuff lately…fabulously easy cookies and a cute little tiered stand to put them on.

Actually, this particular stand is one I made last year; it’s more spring-ish than my latest one, so it’s the one I’m showing you! I found myself with a few mismatched juice glasses and didn’t want to just throw them out, but didn’t really have cabinet space for them. In addition, every time Target has new melamine plates, I crave them. Alas, I already have plenty of non-plastic plates, so I really don’t need more. We have lots of different melamine ones the kids use for holidays, too. I put on my thinking (also known as my justification for more plates) hat and came up with this use for them.

All you do is use E6000 (yes, I should be their paid spokesperson) to cement the plates together with the glass as a pedestal. Glass candlesticks also make a great pedestal, but mine are still in unbroken pairs, so I used what I had. I wash this by hand, but it’s holding up perfectly so far…and it’s made it through a cross-country move

I think I’ve mentioned that I send treats in every Friday with my GI Joe. More often that I care to admit, I remember this at bedtime on Thursday night. This happened last week, so I was madly searching my pantry. I found a box of Krusteaz Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookie mix from Costco, which was perfect but not enough for the whole office.

Then I remembered a recipe I came across on Pinterest called “HolyC#$%TheseAreAmazing Cookies.” Who wouldn’t be tempted to try those? The original post can be found at the Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy blog.

HolyCowTheseAreAmazing Cookies

(aka Peanut Butter Cornflake Balls)

(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 jar (18 oz ounce) peanut butter, crunchy or smooth (I like creamy.)
  • 6 cups corn flakes
  • 3 oz good quality chocolate of your choice (OK, so I used Nestle semisweet chips ‘cause that’s what I had and it was bedtime)


  1. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in the whole jar of peanut butter. Mix well.
  2. Add corn flakes to a large bowl. Pour peanut butter mixture over corn flakes and mix well, taking care to coat all of the corn flakes.
  3. With a tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop out and form into 1-2 inch balls, depending on your preference, and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
  4. Put the chocolate in a Ziploc and melt in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Smoosh it until it’s smooth. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies.

It’s a very good thing I made these at bedtime, or I probably would have eaten a large portion if not all of them. They were…yes, amazing!

Hope you have a take it easy kind of day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shrimp-ly Yummy

Being a recipe addict has a major many recipes, so little time. We rarely have the same thing twice, unless my family really emphasizes to me how much they love a recipe. It's pretty funny, how well trained they are. Even the littlest hooligan will say, "This is the best meal gots to make this again!"

Add to this my dislike for hot shrimp, which is, I know, odd. The rest of the family loves shrimp in hot dishes, so I really should make it more. This recipe is one I used to make often, back before kids, then I forgot about it until we were in Savannah and I remembered that I do like shrimp and grits.

I have no idea why this photo is so Photoshop, it's clear, but when I uploaded it, something happened. Sorry about that. Anyhoo, this is a lightened shrimp dish, and takes very little time (as do most shrimp dishes). I generally have the ingredients on hand, with shrimp in the freezer, so it's a good oh-my-gosh-I-forgot-to-thaw-anything dinner. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Shrimp with Orzo
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 14 oz can diced tomato, drained
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Coat casserole pan with cooking spray.
3. Cook the pasta in boiling water 5 minutes, omitting salt and fat; drain. Place the pasta in a large bowl. Stir in 2 teaspoons oil and next 7 ingredients (2 teaspoons oil through pepper). Place the orzo mixture in prepared dish. Combine shrimp and basil. Arrange shrimp mixture on orzo mixture. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until the shrimp are done.

Crazy easy, right?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You Send Me Soaring

A couple of weeks ago, Stampin’ Up! held a regional conference right here in Milwaukee. I was thrilled to go, and I learned so much…I’m still sorting through all the photos I took of cards and ideas. Today I wanted to show you a couple of cards we made there, as well as a fabulous trick with a circle punch.

Supplies: Send Me Soaring stamp set (from the Occasions mini)
Calypso Coral, Crumb Cake, Whisper White cardstock; Berry Blossoms and Sweet Shop DSP
Calypso Coral, Lucky Limeade, and Pool Party Classic Inks; Calypso Coral marker
Uniball Signo Gel Pen; Pool Party Ruffled Ribbon; Bitty Buttons
Blossom Bouquet, Scallop Edge, Small Heart, 1-1/4” circle, and 1 3/8” circle punches

This card shows several nifty tips. The polka-dot flower center is made by stamping a kite image from the set in Calypso Coral on Whisper White paper four times, then punching out small hearts. The leaf is also the kite stamped in Lucky Limeade, then cut out using the 1-1/4” punch. Or you could just snip it with Paper Snips.

But here’s my favorite tip of the day…rounding corners using the 1-1/4” circle punch. Yes, I know it’s life-changing.

It’s so simple…just slide the corner of your paper into the punch from the bottom, into the slit between the upper and lower punch blades, and punch. Ta-da!

The other card is pretty complicated, only because of the placement of the kite wheel, so I’m not really giving instructions. It’s so super cute, though, I have to share.

Supplies: Send Me Soaring stamp set
Basic Gray, Lucky Limeade, Pool Party, and Whisper White Cardstock; Berry Blossoms DSP
Basic Gray, Calypso Coral, Lucky Limeade, and Pool Party Classic Pads;
Calypso Coral and Lucky Limeade Markers; Lucky Limeade Bakers’ Twine; Neutrals Brads;
Scallop Edge, Small Heart, and 1-1/4” Circle Punches
Big Shot and 3” Circle Originals Die

Basically, there’s a small brad attaching the 3” circle at a spot about halfway between the sentiment and the circle for the kite. The entire front white panel is popped out on Dimensionals to give the circle room to spin. See…

We used the Mat Pack template to make the dot borders using markers. Those Stampin’ Up! designers are just so clever. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to be paid to create wonderful projects like this?

I thought I didn’t need this Send Me Soaring set, but I think I may. It’s just so stinkin’ cute!

Don’t forget Sale-a-Bration is going on until the end of March…and that means FREE stamps or accessories with every $50 you spend on products. Check it out on my website if you feel the need for some new supplies and inspiration!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rollin’ in Dough

My GI, while absolutely a great dad almost always, has a Playdough phobia. He hates it…even outside. Sometimes, though, I just need the hooligans need to work on their fine motor skills. And thus, we need to shape some dough.

We never have actual Playdough in the house (see reason above) but I do always have baking soda and cornstarch, the two main ingredients in this wonderful stovetop modeling clay.

DSC_0003My mom and grandmother were both art teachers, and we did lots of crafty stuff growing up…including tons of salt dough creations. I remember that being fun, but with Oklahoma’s humidity, they never lasted long.

I’ve not tried drying out this dough…my kids like to play with it too much. It has lasted about 6 months, stored in Ziploc bags in the (garage) refrigerator. Shhhh…I don’t think the hubs knows it’s there. I like the texture of this dough, and it’s white when it’s done, unlike other doughs. That makes it easier to color.

But enough rattling on…here’s the how-to.

Stovetop Modeling Clay

16 oz box baking soda

1 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cups water

Liquid food coloring

In a saucepan, stir together baking soda and cornstarch, then whisk in water until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble up and get thick and lumpy. Continue cooking and stirring until it’s really thick and smooth, about 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and turn out onto a plate. Let it sit until cool enough to handle (for you, not your kids!). Divide into four equal portions, then add a couple of drops of food coloring to each ball. Knead it like bread dough for a few minutes, until the color is evenly distributed and as dark as you’d like. Wash your hands between each color, to keep colors true.

Let the colored dough sit, loosely covered, until completely cool. Store in Ziploc bags in refrigerator (separate colors in separate bags). Once it’s blended, we’ve never had problems with colors coming off on our hands or tables.

Like Playdough, if little bits fall off as you play, you can easily sweep it up when it dries.

I think this would make a great addition to an Easter basket, the colors are so spring-y… tomorrow is the first day of spring, after all! And when isn't it a good thing when you make a toy at kids always get a kick out of that. Enjoy!

Skip To My Lou

Friday, March 16, 2012

Our Favorite Irish Feast

Before you start emailing to tell me that people in Ireland never eat our version of corned beef, let me assure you I know that. I’ve made pork roast in the traditional Irish “corning” way, and, though tasty, it’s not what we crave when we want corned beef.

Here’s the way I make it, and I’m pretty sure GI Joe could duplicate it if I were ever incapacitated when March 17 rolled around. I also make it a few other times each year, but it’s a non-negotiable on St. Patrick’s Day. By the way, friends who think they don’t like corned beef love this version. The texture is more like pot roast than boiled meat, which is a very good thing. Still think you won’t like it? Try it, try it and you may, I say!

Corned Beef and Vegetables

3-4 lbs corned beef flat, as lean as you can find…but they don’t come very lean

1 lb carrots, peeled and in 3” pieces (yes, I usually buy a bag of baby carrots and dump them in)

6 medium red potatoes, cubed

1 onion, cut in wedges

1 head cabbage, cut in 1” wide wedges

1. Place the vegetables, except cabbage, in the bottom of your crock pot, then rinse the corned beef and lay it on top. Sprinkle with the seasonings, and add enough water to almost cover. Cook on low for 8 hours.

2. About 45 minutes before serving, remove 2 cups broth from the crock pot and put it in a deep skillet with a lid. Add cabbage and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, until tender.

We serve this with Irish Soda Bread. This recipe is a compilation of several that I’ve adapted over the last 20 years of making it. This photo is not very good, I realize. I made the bread into muffins for my husband’s office today, so they didn’t have to deal with cutting and buttering. The muffins were tasty (you didn’t think I’d send them in without tasting, did you?) but I prefer a loaf, sliced with Irish butter.


O’Donnell’s Irish Soda Bread

1-1/2 cups golden raisins

1/2 cup orange juice

3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1-3/4 cup lowfatbuttermilk

1 egg, beaten (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)

1/2 cup applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a large loaf pan.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, place raisins and orange juice, and macerate until raisins are plump (about 10 min).

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Drain raisins and add them to the batter.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 1 hour, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm (with lots of butter!) or cool and wrap in plastic wrap. Stays fresh for about 3 days, if it lasts that long!

Wishing you all a very, very lucky St. Patrick’s Day!


Blessing Printable from A Night Owl blog

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Those Leprechauns Can Be Crafty!

While the leprechauns create mischief throughout the house, they also leave a little gift for the kids.  The boys are getting some special edition St. Patrick’s Day Hot Wheels (that I bought last year and forgot about, then happily found when I got the decorations out).  For Princess Thundercloud, I made this little pendant.

DSC_0017-2 It cost about a $1.28 or so, so it’ll be no big loss when she loses it.  I’m sure she will, and I’m okay with that.

domino-and-ruler It started when I found this Spongebob domino in my car.  One of the hooligans had a whole set of these, from the Dollar Spot at Target.  But that was in Washington, and who knows where the other 542 of them are.  There seemed to be that many as I’ve found them throughout the year in various spots. But this one was destined for greatness!

DSC_0018-1 First I cut out two pieces of Designer Series Paper to fit the front and back.  Using a very light coat of Crystal Effects (a clear craft varnish from Stampin’ Up!) I adhered one piece, then put a thick coat of Crystal Effects on top to make it look fancy.  That needed to dry for about 6 hours, or overnight. The I flipped it over and repeated with the other piece of paper.

DSC_0019-3 See how shiny and pretty that is?  To make it a pendant, I attached a bail (yes, that’s what it’s called) using E6000 and let it dry for a few hours.

To finish the front, I used some green seed beads and more E6000 to make a sort-of shamrock.

She’ll love it. 

Here’s another cute craft I made last year for the hooligans.

IMG_2942 I just used my Big Shot and punches to make it…nifty, eh?  I CASE’d it from someone last year, so I’m not trying to steal anyone’s thunder…let me know if it was you!

That winds up my week of St. Patrick’s crafts…tomorrow I’m posting our favorite recipe for corned beef and cabbage, as well as Irish soda bread.  I hope you’ll check them out…and even better, try them on Saturday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Easy as 3.14159

You might not know this about me, but I’m a total math geek. Someday when I grow up I want to be a high school math teacher. I thought I wanted to be a chemical engineer, and studied to do that, but instead I’m an Army wife. That totally rocks, most of the time, but doesn't involve a whole lot of complicated math.

My obsession with equations is probably only equaled by my obsession with pie. Any kind, really. Except ones involving a lot of chocolate. So this is kind of my own favorite day of the year…March 14, 3/14, Pi(e) Day!

DSC_0019 We had Hash Brown Pie for breakfast, and I’m making Chicken Pot Pie for dinner…but here’s my very favorite pie, anytime I can find enough fresh blueberries at a price that doesn’t mean I have to sell a kid.

When we were young and went on adventurous vacation (intentionally adventurous, not the kind of unplanned adventure you tend to have when traveling with the hooligans), we spent a couple of weeks blue-tarp camping in Maine. We cooked a few meals on the campfire, but mostly just enjoyed the local offerings. I particularly remember brown butter lobster pasta and blueberry pie.

I’ve never tried to duplicate the pasta, but this recipe comes very close to our memories of that fabulous pie.

Maine Blueberry Pie

1- 9” pie shell, baked

4 cups fresh blueberries

1 – 1/3 cups cold water

1 –1/3 cups sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

2 Tbsp amaretto liquor

Whipped cream

1. In medium saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch together, add the sugar. Squash about 1/2 cup of the blueberries and add.

2. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil. Stir constantly until thickened, about 1 minute. Add remaining blueberries and amaretto. Pour into the pie shell and chill at least 3 hours, until serving. Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream.

Unfortunately, I had to cut a slice to entice you to make your own, through the magic of photography. I can’t let it go to waste, so I’d better go brew a cup of coffee to go with it.

Here’s a link to another pie I debated making for today, but decided against when I saw fresh blueberries at Costco. It’ll probably make an appearance on our dessert menu very soon, though. Doesn’t it look delish? (I can overcome my aversion to chocolate when it’s balanced with peanut butter!)

Peanut Butter Cup Pie


Happy Pi Day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fun with Alcohol

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an amazing project on Martha.  The TV show, I mean, not the person. The theme of the show was a Purple Party…what’s not to love about that?  They made some adorable T-shirts for little girls using just Sharpies and alcohol. Really. Look.


The ones on the show were, naturally, pink and purple, but I wanted something Irish-y, so I used green and orange.  It’s not as cute, but since it’s a pack of 5 t-shirts, I can make other colors later.  You’ll probably be forced to look at those, as well!


After laundering the shirt, place a piece of wax paper inside it, so the markers don’t bleed through. Then draw a simple dot flower wherever you’d like.

DSC_0023Using an eyedropper, drop five or six drops of rubbing alcohol into the center of each flower.  If you use too much alcohol, it becomes too saturated and doesn’t spread out correctly.  Trust me. Martha did not mention that and I really only have 3 shirts to work with now.

DSC_0024 The alcohol evaporates in a few minutes, so this would be a great party project, since your guests would not be taking home shirts with wet paint on them.

According to Martha, they are colorfast and can be laundered as usual.

How cute is that?

Monday, March 12, 2012

St. Patrick’s Week?

Yes, at our house, St. Patrick’s Day is a really big deal. I’ve decided to devote the entire week to ideas for celebrating…but I’m not pressuring you to go all overboard with it like we do!

My little hooligans start planning their leprechaun traps as soon as we pack away the Christmas decorations. Who am I kidding? They start on March 18 of the previous year! Leprechauns are pretty mischievous in our house. They turn the milk, orange juice, and, of course, water in the toilets green. They sometimes make a mess in the kitchen with flour or oatmeal. That’s usually only if I need to clean the kitchen anyway…leprechauns know better than to mess with a clean kitchen!

They always escape our trap, but drop a few gold coins on the way out the window or door. Oh, and they often leave green rubber snakes around, with a note about not trying to trap them again. This year they’re going to decorate the bare branches of a tree on the patio with foam shamrocks and rainbow wind spinners (they found those at the dollar store…leprechauns are thrifty with their gold coins!).

Today, I’m showing off some appetizer picks I made, using various green and gold beads and 12 gauge wire (I think). I just picked up the beads and the wire at the craft store. The wire needs to be stiff enough to resist bending, but not so thick you can’t cut it with wire cutters. It’s usually over in the floral design department, hanging in 12” lengths in a plastic bag.


To make these, I cut the wire in 4” lengths. Using E6000 (they really should pay me for hawking their product, but they don’t…it is my favorite all-purpose, extra-strong adhesive), Put a tiny dot on one end of the wire and start putting beads on. Each pick has about 1-1/2” of beads, then for the last one, put a dot of glue on the next-to-last bead and wire, then slide the last bead on snugly.

That’s all there is to it. My kids like using them for dipping fruit. For breakfast on St. Pat’s, I plan to make a platter of fruit, shaped like a rainbow, with some vanilla yogurt for dipping. I saw the idea on…say it with me…Pinterest.

image From

Enjoy your first Monday of “new time” as we call it here…we’re off to a rough start, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to require lots of coffee this morning! I’d best get to it, though…I just realized it’s almost 10:00 and I’m still in PJ’s. See you tomorrow!

Friday, March 9, 2012

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor

I’ve been very neglectful of my Stampin’ Up! business, really ever since we moved last summer.  And despite my husband’s opinion, it is a business!  Granted, I’m my own best customer, but I really appreciate the orders you’ve placed with me when I’m way over here in Wisconsin and you’re way over there on the edges of the country.image

I’ve mentioned that Sale-a-Bration is going on through the end of March.  What the heck does that mean, for you non-stampers?  Well, for every $50 you spend on stamps and supplies, you get a Sale-a-Bration item absolutely FREE!  There are some super cute, amazing items to choose from, people. 

Also, if you’re interested in becoming a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, this is the best time of year to sign up.  In addition to the getting the fabulous Starter Kit (more than $345 value, usually $175) for only $125, you will also receive a free pack of Designer Paper ($10.95 value) or digital downloads of paper each month for the rest of the year!  Contact me if you’d like to know more.  You can easily sign up right on my website. I think my keyboard is out of exclamation points from all of my excitement.image

As if that were not enough excitement, Stampin’ Up! also announced changes to the catalog program at our Leadership Conference in January.  Perhaps most importantly for you to know, the current Idea Book and Catalog, scheduled to end June 30, 2012, will be ending May 31, 2012.  This is because there will be a BRAND NEW ANNUAL CATALOG starting June 1, 2012.

The Minicatalog schedule is also changing.  Starting in June, we will have only 2 minis each year, each lasting 6 months.  Stampin’ Up! feels this will benefit you because catalog items will be available longer.  The minis will be larger and have more pages.  Woo-hoo!

The new catalogs will offered to demonstrators at over half off the old price, so we will be able to give them to customers instead of you having to buy them.  But don’t worry…they’ll still be just as packed with ideas for you and stamps will still be shown at full-size. 

The Decor Elements and Simply Adorned product lines will be discontinued as of May 31, 2012, however.  If you’ve been hankering for anything from those lines, now would be the time to get it, during Sale-a-Bration.

And now that I’ve come full circle in my rambling, I’ll conclude.  I just wanted to keep you apprised of Stampin’ Up! happenings, and encourage you to take a look at my web site, if you’re interested in any of the aforementioned. The link is in the right margin, if you’re looking for it! As always, if you don’t want to set up an account online, you can email me the order along with credit card info (or I’ll call you to get the info, if you’re not comfortable emailing it) and I can place the order for you. I know, no thanks are necessary for enabling you to shop so easily! 

Happy Stamping!