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Friday, June 29, 2012

Favorite June Photos

I have a few favorite photos from this month that just didn’t work into any of my posts, but I really, really want to share them! So here goes.

My hooligans and my very favorite birthday cake…as only my GI Joe can make it!

All the hooligans learned to hula hoop…in just one day.

Gorgeous, unbelievable peonies…I didn’t even edit this photo.  I haven’t had a house with peonies since upstate New York 14 years ago.  I’ve got to get some planted in Washington!

Really not looking forward to the dating years with this one. As one of my friends said, he’ll never be 
able to break anyone’s heart so he’ll have three or four girls all the time. Argh.
I see this as siblings getting along, ignoring the fact that they’re armed.

My GI Joe actually does know how to relax…once in a blue moon. And look, I’m in the photo, too…in the reflection on his shades. It’s a couples portrait!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I’ve Got New Toys!

For my birthday, the hubs knows me well enough to say, “Just order what you want from Stampin’ Up!,” which is exactly what I was going to do, anyway.  The box of goodies came on the last day of school, and, sadly, it took two weeks for me to find time to play with my new goodies.

All Stampin’ Up supplies:  World Treasure stamp set
International Bazaar DSP, Very Vanilla and Pacific Point cardstock
Chocolate Chip, Pacific Point, and Lucky Limeade Markers
Corner Rounder and Scallop Trim Border punches; Pearls, Apothecary Accents Framelits

Isn’t it lovely?  I used a lot more layers than I usually do, and I really like the result.  Since I was already using markers to ink up the flower and sentiment stamp, I just went ahead and used a marker for the exotic border stamp, as well.

This stamp set and DSP, from the top of my wish list, are super easy to create with, combing fabulous colors and patterns.

I’m off to try and sneak a few more designing moments into my day…hope yours is creative (and cool!).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Repurposed Marker Organizer

My markers make me crazy!  They should be stored horizontally, since they are dual-tipped, so one end doesn’t go dry. Like everything else, I want to be able to reach them at any moment while I’m creating (which makes for a very cluttered work area, but so be it.). And, last but not least, I like having them in their Stampin’ Up! color families.

Recycling also makes me crazy.  It seems every glass jar I put in the bin ends up broken before recycle day, and I’m worried one of the hooligans will get cut. Don’t ask why they would be rummaging through the trash. I’m sure it happens.

So I repurposed these spaghetti sauce jars from Costco to make a marker organizer.  I cut a piece of polka dot DSP from each color family 3” x 12” and taped them in place.  I put some E6000 on each surface that contacted another jar when stacked (top and bottom of jars, basically) and wedged the four jars between two stacks of books to dry in this configuration.

After the adhesive was completely dry, I wrapped some hemp twine around several times, mostly because I liked how it looked.  It also helps hold them together a bit. 

This works pretty perfectly for my current craft room.  Who knows what will work when we PCS again, but until then, I’m happy with my solution!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Savory Cheesecake and Chips

This is one of those recipes that I’ve made for probably fifteen years.  The original was clipped from some newspaper, probably the Rocky Mountain News, since I think that’s where we were living when I started making this.  It calls for green chilis, Pepper Jack cheese, and chopped fresh tomatoes, green onions, green and red peppers, and some olives as a topping.

I wanted something red for Independence Day (and because I have a cool star-shaped insert for my springform pan that I completely forgot about until last week), so I made a few substitutions.  I found the red, white, and blue tortilla chips at World Market, but I really had just planned on using blue corn ones and maybe some white, since the star was already red.  The star platter was at the dollar store.

I took about fifty photos and just couldn’t get one that showed how very festive this turned out. SO you’ll have to use your imagination.  I made a half recipe, since I wasn’t filling the whole springform pan, but am giving the recipe for just a round one in a 9” springform pan.  It feeds a crowd as an appetizer and can be made a couple of days in advance.

Roasted Red Pepper Cheesecake

serves 16, easily

  • 1 cup Crushed Tortilla Chips
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • 16 ounces lowfat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, pureed
  • 8 oz (2 cups) shredded sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (regular or lowfat)
  • 1 cup red salsa

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9" springform pan with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the tortilla chips and butter. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and let cool. Usually I just let it sit while I make the filling and call it good.

    2. In a large bowl, blend the cream cheese, eggs,taco seasoning, and cumin. Add the red pepper puree and both cheeses and blend well. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

    3. When ready to serve, spread the sour cream over the top, then spread the salsa over that. Remove the sides of the pan and serve with tortilla chips.


    Click here to print

    Monday, June 25, 2012

    Ready for the Fireworks!

    DSC_0008We’re going to be in Oklahoma for the Fourth (without the hubs…apparently the Army thinks patriotic holidays are good recruiting opportunities or something…whatev), so we made these shirts to take with us.

    DSC_0002The hooligans each made their own, while I made some for the Okie cousins.  

    I first made these back in March after seeing them on the Martha show. Then we used green and orange for St. Patrick's Day (and because Princess Thundercloud needed those colors to match some pants).

    To make them, just make dots with a Sharpie on a white t-shirt, then use an eyedropper to drop rubbing alcohol into the center of each cluster.  It just takes a few drops and spreads out in a very cool pattern.  We put wax paper inside the shirt to keep the marker from bleeding through when we drew on them.

    When the fireworks dried, I drew some sketchy lines with a Sharpie, just to suggest the trajectory for the fireworks.

    Super cool, we think...and with adult supervision and nerves of steel, totally a kid-friendly, instant gratification craft!

    I'm linking this up at a few parties...check them out!

    The Taylor House

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    Tales of the Butterfly Hunters

    One Saturday morning a few weeks ago, we were at the thrift shop looking for a desk I could refinish for the eldest hooligan’s room.  Not only did we find a perfect desk (for less than $20), the hooligans found butterfly nets at the bargain price of $1.49 each.

    We had our doubts about long sticks in their grasp, but took a chance.  They were entertained for hours upon hours, day after day.  Until eventually they whacked each other with the net part and they broke, of course.  I’m pretty sure we got our money’s worth first, though. Oh, and if you were worried, no butterflies were harmed or really even in danger of being caught during this adventure.

    Here’s a scrapbook page I made of the fun they had.

    And these are the photos I used.  The page is designed to be printed in 8x8 or 12x12 format, which can be done very inexpensively at Costco.  Just in case you were interested in digital scrapbooking. If you’d like more info on it, check out my post from November about digital scrapbooking.

    I’m trying to enjoy how sweet they look and forget that their original idea was to use Nerf guns, not nets.

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Personal Patriotism

    I was thinking of ways to decorate for Memorial Day and Independence Day, and remembered all the “patriotic” family photos I love from our life as an Army family.

    The photos were taken at Fourth of July parades and celebrations, my GI Joe’s Change of Command last summer, and most importantly, homecomings from deployments. 

    They’re all favorites, but one I especially love is the one of our eldest taking his first steps…the day after his daddy returned from Iraq after a year-long deployment.  The hooligan was ten and half months old then…so you can do the math and imagine how thrilled I was to have my soldier home safely to join in the parenting adventure.

    I’ve looked high and low for a sign with this saying on it, to no avail.  Then, just last week, a blog I read offered this free printable.  You can get it, too, at The Scrap Shoppe blog. I love the vintage sign feel of it.

    I found the Army Strong sign and the heart wreath made of wood curls at Hobby Lobby.  That’s a definite plus for living in the middle of the country…I missed Hobby Lobby in the Pacific Northwest!

    Now that I’ve printed all these photos, I’m thinking I may need to find a collage frame to display them year-round.  These memories deserve to be enjoyed more than six weeks out of the year!

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    So This Margarita Walks Into a Bar…

    …and makes a really yummy, cool and creamy treat, even without the tequila.

    I recently hosted book club and made some delicious Strawberry Margarita Bars to serve as dessert.  Then we started drinking real margaritas and eating chips and salsa and I completely forgot to serve it. The family has enjoyed it for dessert, though!

    This is my favorite kind of dessert for summer: No baking, very little prep time, and light in taste and calories.


    Strawberry Margarita Bars

    1-1/2 cups crushed pretzels
    1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 can (14 oz.) fat free sweetened condensed milk
    1 cup pureed strawberries
    1/2 cup lime juice(I used bottled)
    1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Free, thawed
    1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

    1. Mix pretzel crumbs, sugar, and butter in 13x9-inch pan; press onto bottom of pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    2. Combine condensed milk, pureed strawberries and lime juice in large bowl. Gently stir in COOL WHIP; pour over crust.
    3. Freeze at least 6 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 min. before serving; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly. Serve topped with sliced strawberries.

    How easy it that, I ask you?  Enjoy!

    Click here for a printable version

    Sharing this over at 

    and The Taylor House

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012


    I recently discovered the secret of everyone getting along in the car…kid books on CD.  I know, I’m late figuring this out, but I didn’t think they would listen, since they don’t listen to me or each other in the car.  It’s amazing how captivated they are! 

    So what’s the connection with pinwheels?  I’m glad you asked. We were listening to a Nate the Great book and at the end are all sorts of nifty little crafts and information.  One segment described how to make a pinwheel, and it sounded super easy. And it was!

    Once I made one, I couldn’t stop.  The kids even made them.  That’s how easy peasy lemon squeezy they are. Yes, I need to stop listening to kids’ books.

    I used Stampin’ Up! cardstock to make this decoration for the front door.  It was, frankly, a bit too thick to bend without creasing.  For the sticks, I wrapped that cool paper tape from Target around dowel rods, then wrapped red and white bakers’ twine around that. To make them lay flat against the door, I tied monofilament line from each stick to a metal clip in the center, above the white pinwheel.  See it?  That’s also how I hung it on the door.

    Then I wanted to make a garland for the mantel, so I raided the kids’ stash of construction paper.  I don’t think these will last through storing them, so it’s not important that they be colorfast.  I thought it was for the ones on the front door, since the sun would fade the construction paper in about 2 seconds.


    How do you make them, you ask?  (Aren’t you just full of questions today?) Here’s how:

    Cut your paper to a square.  The ones on my door are 8-1/2” squares, the garland is 6” square.  Draw diagonally from corner to corner, making an “x".”  Cut from the corners to about 1” from the center.  Punch a small hole (I used a 1/16” punch because I was using tiny brads) in the upper leftr corner, then the next left corner and so on. Also punch a hole in the center.

    Push a brad through from the back of one corner.  Work your way around, tucking each corner under the brad so that the brad goes from back to front. 

    When all four corners are on the brad, push it through the center and open the prongs to hold it.

    To make the garland, I punched holes in two adjacent spokes and used brads to hook one to the next.
    You could also put a cute stamped or printed circle image in the center, to cover your brad.

    Please don't burst my little bubble of happiness and tell me I'm the last person in the world to learn to make these.  Even if it's probably true.

    While these aren’t true pinwheels that will spin in the wind, they’re a fun, summery, inexpensive way to brighten up your d├ęcor!

    Monday, June 18, 2012

    Yay for Daddy-O!

    DSC_0038What a fun Fathers’ Day weekend we had…I mean, the Big Daddy-O had!  And you know what that means…my post today will be a photo one, so our family can check it out.  I’ll post something crafty or tasty tomorrow…I promise.

    On Saturday, we went to the Lego Kidsfest in Milwaukee.  Sorry for the blurry photos…I only had my phone with me, since I needed my hands free to build!  Not really, but I didn’t want to take another camera along.  This Lightning McQueen model was pretty amazing…I think the Master Builder told the hubs it took 4 weeks and something like 600 man hours to build.

    We spent a lot of time at the Race Ramps, building and re-engineering for speed. This one was not speedy, but that blade on the front of it proved lethal to a couple of other racers.

    Princess Thundercloud and I were totally absorbed by the new line of Lego Friends.  They’ve designed quite the intricate backstory on these girls, as we learned in the story book we bought.  These Legos involve lots of pets, shopping, and dessert baking.  What’s not to love?

    Sunday was a pretty laid back day.  We went out for breakfast, then ran a couple of errands (to Home Depot, of course).  My GI Joe worked on the yard for several hours, which gave the kids time to make this Cookies and Cream Fudge Rockpile.  It actually looked a lot more rockpile-ish than this, but we forgot to take a photo before devouring half of it.

    If you’d like to make your own fudge rocks (or whatever shape.  It molds perfectly without being sticky.), here’s how.

    Cookies and Cream Moldable Fudge

     24 oz white candy coating(white chocolate won’t melt correctly)
    1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (we used fat free, but any will work)
    3/4 cup finely crushed Oreos

    1. Place the white candy coating in a large microwavable bowl and melt, according to package instructions. When it’s melted, stir in sweetened condensed milk until smooth.  You may need to heat it another 20 or 30 seconds.
    2. Stir in cookie crumbs and let sit at room temperature for about an hour, until it’s cool and no longer sticky.  I speeded this process up by refrigerating it for about 15 minutes.  Don’t let it cool completely in the frig, though, or it may develop condensation and ruin the consistency.
    3. Then you just make it into a rock shape or whatever.  It’s actually quite tasty, as well as easy.

    Now it’s on to planning the next festivities…we love Independence Day!

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    Dining Al Fresco

    One of my favorite things about summer is having dinner on the deck, especially when it’s a meal we cook on the grill.One problem, though, is all the trips in and out of the house bringing utensils and such.  I swear the bugs just congregate, hovering by the screen, for the second it’s open and their chance to dart inside.

    So I was thrilled to see that Walmart had their wire jar caddies back in stock last week…and they were on clearance, which is a little worrisome, since I want them to be there when I want them! 

    0612-CaddyAnyway, I bought a couple and used one to make this cute, functional caddy to take out the flatware, napkins, and placemats in one trip.  I also added a jar of candies, just to balance out the weight, but that could be replaced with condiments if I needed them.

    Last weekend, we had an almost perfect summer meal (it was missing homegrown tomatoes).  I managed to snag the last package of Copper River salmon at Costco, and we had corn on the cob and baked beans alongside.

    When we lived in Washington state, it was headline news when the Copper River salmon catch first arrived at the airport.  It’s supposedly the best salmon around (apologies to Alaskans), or at least the best available in the lower 48, and can only be found for a few short weeks in June.

    Here’s how I grilled it:

    I sprayed a double layer of foil with cooking spray, then placed the salmon in the middle of it and squeezed a lemon over it.  I mixed this rub:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • …and rubbed it on the top of the salmon.  I sealed up the foil and grilled the packet for about 10 minutes on the top rack of our grill.  The corn, wrapped in foil, was grilling on the bottom rack for about 20 minutes, turning it every 5 minutes. The baked beans, alas, were Bush’s Vegetarian and I just heated them on the stove…but I could have used the grill for that, too!

    Have a great weekend, and I hope you are having weather perfect for al fresco dining! (If that’s what you choose to do, of course!)

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Not Too Shabby for 237 Years

    A question for all you non-Army types out there…what significance does June 14 have?  Flag Day?  Yes, that is correct, but more importantly (in our household’s opinion), it’s the Army’s birthday! And how do we celebrate every occasion, big or small?  With thematically appropriate food!

    Ta-da!  I hope you’re more impressed with this than my hooligans were.  They just went, “Oh, that’s cool.” Not even with an exclamation point in their little hooligan voices.

    So here’s what I did, for you eagle-eyes who noticed that the cut slice is not decorated with writing and blueberries…I’m sending this in with my GI tomorrow, but I wanted to brag  show you how cool it was.  So I took the photos, put the slice back in, and frosted over it.  Then I decorated with icing and blueberries.

    Hidden Flag Torte Cake

    I read her directions a couple of weeks ago and obviously didn’t follow them to the letter.  I made mine the same way I made the rainbow cake for First Communion.  I used 8” pans with a 5” pan in the middle of two of them for the blue.  You’ll see what I mean if you read Kimmi’s instructions.

    I also made a batch of these stamped almond butter cookies. 

    I bought this set of cookie cutters at Williams Sonoma last fall, and then I forgot I had them.  I was digging around in the corner cabinet for my small springform pans to use for the cake and found them.  They worked wonderfully.  I followed the recipe included, except that I used almond extract instead of vanilla.

    I had planned to write U.S. Army under the Happy Birthday on each one, but my family decided they wanted to eat dinner tonight so I had to content myself with some festive dots that took less time.

    You can always celebrate further by belting out the Army’s song, “The Army Goes Rolling Along.”  Here’s the version we favor, since we’re a Field Artilleryman’s family:
    Over hill, over dale,
    We will hit the dusty trail,
    And those Caissons go rolling along.
    Up and down, in and out,
    Counter march and left about,
    And those Caissons go rolling along,
    For it's "hie-hie-hee",
    In the Field Artillery,
    Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
    For wher-e'er we go,
    You will always know,
    That those Caissons go rolling along.
    You can find the “official” version by Googling, but the original was written by a young field artillery officer, so we like to stay true to tradition! Hooah!

    Linking up at The Taylor House

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Much Cleaner Than Their Actual Handprints

    For Fathers’ Day, I wanted to make gifts that were similar to the fingerprint trees I made the grandmothers for Mothers’ Day, but more masculine.  I had seen an idea on Pinterest with handprints cut out of scrapbook paper, then Princess Thundercloud brought home a version for her daddy with her handprints in paint.

    I decided to make ours incorporating a photo of each hooligan.

    I made this much more complicated than I needed to, in retrospect.  I traced each of their hands on white paper and scanned it into the computer.  Then, using Photoshop, I deleted everything but the outline of their hand and pasted it on top of their photo. It would have worked to just print out a photo the approximate length of their hand, then traced their hand directly onto the photo and cut it out. Crafting is a process, right?

    While I was doing the photo piece, the boys painted 11x14 flat canvases with some light turquoise paint.  They’re already primed, so it only took one coat to cover.  They were 3 for about $6 at Michael’s, I think. And I had a 40% off coupon, so dirt cheap.

    After I printed the photos on matte presentation paper (not photo paper) and cut the hands out, I used matte Mod Podge to adhere them to the completely dry canvas and let it dry.  Next, I brushed a coat of Mod Podge over the whole thing, using a 2” brush with bristles (instead of my usual foam choice) and brushing first one way then perpendicular.  It gives the look of canvas on the whole thing.

    Lastly, I used a Sharpie to write the message.  The hooligans signed the back.

    I was planning to give the grandpas an easel with theirs, but decided I’d rather use a ribbon to hang them and finish them off.  My Crop-a-dile easily punched through the canvas, then I knotted the ends of a wide piece of ribbon on the back side of each hole.

    The hooligans also helped me make some “Chubby Hubby” bars to send their papas.  The kids thought they were excellent…I thought they were a bit bland.  Maybe it was too many flavors or not enough of each…they were basically Toll House cookie dough with some peanut butter and crushed pretzels stirred in, spread in a 9x13 pan, then topped with more crushed pretzels, PB chips, and chocolate chips.

    If you’d like to try them, you can find the recipe here, at  Since those are all of our favorite foods, I’ll try them again, bumping up the flavors a bit more.

    Hope you have a “hand-y” day!

    By the way, I'm sharing this over at The Taylor House

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Feeling Bright and Colorful

    LiliesAren’t these gorgeous lilies?  My middle hooligan found these and insisted I see them immediately, and take a photo, of course.

    Their color inspired me to make a couple of cards using the new Stampin’ Up! Floral District Designer Series Paper. I am a collector of DSP and have to be really motivated to turn loose of any of it and use it on a card.  But then I always think, DSP makes it so easy to make a card…I should use it on every one!


    I embossed the DSP using the Fancy Fan folder for a little texture.  The sentiment is from the A Word for You stamp set, punched out with the Modern Label Punch and a circle of Calypso Coral behind it, to echo the circles on the DSP.The background is also from the Floral District DSP set.


    The patterned strips of paper on this are the reverse side of the Lucky Limeade Poppy DSP from Floral District.  To make the rosette, I cut a strip of DSP 1-1/2” x 12” and used the scallop border punch on it.  Then I scored it every 1/4” using my Simply Scored board and joined the ends, adhering the whole thing to a circle of paper behind it. This sentiment is also from A Word for You.

    On both cards, I used my 1-1/4” circle punch to round one corner.  To do this, just slip the corner you want rounded in through the bottom of the punch between the blades, then punch it.

    Now I’ve got to finish Fathers’ Day gifts so I can mail them tomorrow…I’ll be sharing those tomorrow, if you’re interested!