Stacked and Yummy

I really think last week’s knock on the head jarred some creativity loose in my brain! I’ve been struggling lately to think of fun new stuff to post, and last week, my brain was just buzzing…and I only took Motrin, so it wasn’t some hallucination wherein I think every idea I have is new and the best ever known to man. Or woman. By the way, I think I’m completely recovered. I went to yoga this morning and felt fine, and I didn’t buy anything completely whacko at the grocery store. I rested a lot last week…probably because I bought a bunch of junk food in my befuddled state and my family was so thrilled, they kept quiet and ate it and left me alone!

One night last week, I needed to clean out the leftovers, so I made up this tortilla stack. Since you (most likely) do not have the same leftovers I did, I’ve written it down as regular ingredients. If you don’t have or want to make the Good Luck Salsa for it, a reasonable facsimile would be a can of black-eyed peas, drained added to a jar of red salsa that also contained corn.

Chicken Verde Tortilla Stack

5 large flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
12 oz jar of salsa verde (I used Archer Farms from Target)
2 1/2 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese (no, I didn’t shred my own…sue me!)
3 cups Good Luck Salsa(recipe below and here, a post from 29Dec2012)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, place two pieces of foil, criss-crossed, each about 18 inches long. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Begin your stack:
1. Tortilla
2. 1 cup shredded chicken
3. 1/3 jar salsa
4. 1/2 cup shredded cheese
5. Tortilla
6. Good Luck Salsa
7. 1/2 cup shredded cheese
8 Repeat layers
9. End with just a tortilla on top. Anything else will stick to the foil. You’ll see what I mean. The photo above is just before the last tortilla went on the stack.

Wrap the ends of the foil up and over the tortilla stack, completely enclosing it. You don’t want any of that good stuff oozing out and being wasted!

Bake on baking sheet for 45 minutes, until heated through.

Remove from oven and carefully peel back the foil. Top with remaining salsa and 1/2 cup cheese, and place back in oven for about 10 minutes, until cheese melts.

Let cool for a few minutes, and slice like a pie to serve it. You can garnish with sour cream if you like, but this was delicious as is. I served it with a fruit salad made of blueberries, oranges, and pears. Because it was clean out the frig night and that’s what I had! This served all 5 of us, with leftovers for 2 lunches for the GI.


Good Luck Salsa

2 cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can yellow hominy, rinsed and drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes, fire-roasted or garlic and onion
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 can green chilis (or a small jalapeno, minced)
1 cup fat-free Italian salad dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

In a large bowl, stir everything together. Chill and let the flavors meld for a day or two. This keeps in the frig for up to a week.

You Scratch Mine…

…And find the answer to the question! I’m so excited to show y’all this card…it’s a handmade scratch-off…and it has a maze game on it. So much to love!

Stampin’ Up supplies: Totally A-Maze-ing stamp set
Whisper White, Rich Razzleberry, and Real Red cardstock
2-1/2” Circle, Large Oval, Corner Rounder, and Pinking Hearts Border punches
Signo White Gel Pen; Cherry Cobbler Baker’s Twine; Maze Game
Non-Stampin’ Up: Silver Metallic Acrylic Paint; Liquid Dish Soap; Clear Laminating Sheet

I made these for my hooligans for Valentine’s Day. I think they’ll love them. The process is a bit time-consuming, because you have to wait for the paint to dry, but it’s pretty simple.

DSC_0006To make the scratch-off part, mix 2 parts silver paint with 1 part liquid dish soap. Stir it very gently so bubbles don’t form. Paint that in a thin but even layer on a piece of laminating sheet. Clear contact paper would also work. It just needs to be clear and sticky on the back.

DSC_0007 Let that dry COMPLETELY, then punch out or cut out in the shape you’d like.You can see my paint still have some bubbles in it when it dried. I think I needed to pop the bubble with a toothpick or something while it was wet. I didn’t stir very gently when combining, either. Oops.

DSC_0008 While you’re waiting for your paint to dry, you can make the card. I think this new Totally A-Maze-ing stamp set from the Occasions Minicatalog is so very cool and I love that it’s so simple to use. The Maze Games (4 for $2.50) perfectly coordinate with the 2-1/2” Circle punch, so you simply stamp the background you’d like (or you could use a map or other printed scrapbook paper), punch it out, and replace the backing on the maze game.

The backing pops out easily, but be sure to keep the game upside-down and flat while you do it. Those two little balls are TINY and you’ll never find them again if they fall out! I know this through experience, unfortunately.

After you have your maze game ready, adhere it to your card. Stamp a sentiment on cardstock and punch it out, or stamp directly on the card. Just pick one that the punch will cover up when you apply your scratch-off portion.

DSC_0009You’re almost done! Peel the backing off the piece of painted laminating paper you’ve punched or cut out, and stick it over the sentiment. Ta-da!

DSC_0010 Of course, you wouldn’t scratch yours off…I just did this so you could more easily see how it works.

Now, aren’t those fun? I woke up this morning thinking about what other scratch off designs I could make. And then I looked at the clock and thought, “Holy Cats, I’ve got to put the kids on the bus in 15 minutes!” So I didn’t get to pursue my line of thinking. But I will.

Project Scrap 2011

I’ve been meaning to post this project all month, and I want to get it done today! This is a project I found on The Shabby Princess Blog. The premise is to take 2 photos per week (that you want to scrapbook), then consolidate them into a two-page scrapbook layout at the end of the month. You end up with a 24-page yearbook. They could not make it simpler for digi-scrappers.

Each month there are two free downloads for the templates, which you then make your own by changing papers, embellishments, etc. and adding photos, titles, and journaling. It’s a great way to learn about digi-scrapbooking, if you’re a little interested but intimidated. The blog has tons of great tutorials, as well.

For the past few years, we’ve been giving all the grandparents these books as part of their Christmas gift, so this is perfect for that. I also make three copies of each year for the hooligans to take with them when they move out. I mean, of course, when they are all grown up with families of their own and we’re missing them terribly. Yeah, that’s it.

This is my favorite layout of the year. You can click on the link to see our entire book, if you’re really that interested in the hooliganism that goes on at our house!

May-Single

May-Multi

Our 2011 Adventure Book

According to the Shabby Princess Blog, the new Project Scrap 2012 will be posted tomorrow…I’m so excited to see the great layouts! Oh, and if you do look at their blog, I did not use one of their covers. I just used a standard cover from Snapfish, because I wanted to get them done during Christmas break and not wait until the Shabby Princess ones were posted. I’m impatient that way sometimes.

The last time my GI Joe was deployed, I took a photo a day, for the entire 365 days he was gone. Each Sunday, I would make a scrapbook page of our week, little events and big, make an 8×8 copy at Costco, and send it to him in his weekly CARE package. I sent an 8×8 album with lots of empty sleeves in his first package, so he just slid the pages in each time he got a new one. He loved seeing the day-to-day life back home, and I stayed caught up on scrapbooking!

It also allowed me to be a little more creative than normal with my photography. Instead of just taking photos of special occasions or the kids, I took time to see things more artistically, things that were aesthetically pleasing to me, and that I thought he would miss. Some days, it was a book I was enjoying, or the first pumpkin spice latte of the season. It served as am amazing reminder to appreciate the little things, knowing that he was giving up all those moments and pleasures for the year.

And that’s enough droning on about that. The point I’m trying to make is, record your memories in a way that works for you. Different years, different levels of intensity works for me. We’ll just have to wait and see how I do this year. But, grandparents be warned…you will be getting these books every year, so brace yourselves!

Hearts on a String

Well, actually a ribbon. Here’s another “Love”-ly card I designed using some new products from Stampin’ Up!

It’s officially Sale-a-Bration time, so from now through the end of March, for every $50 in products you order, you’ll get to select FREE STAMPS AND ACCESSORIES! You can view the Sale-a-Bration brochure on my Stampin’ Up! website. In addition to free products as a customer, there are also great benefits for hosting a workshop or becoming a demonstrator.

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All Stampin’ Up! supplies: Outlines Occasions stamp set (free and exclusively Sale-a-Bration)
Very Vanilla cardstock; Everyday Enchantment DSP (also free and exclusively Sale-a-Bration)
Heart to Heart and 1 1/4” Square punches; Blushing Bride Smooch Spritz
Everyday Enchantment Ribbon and Brad Pack (guess what? Yep, SAB only!)
Lucky Limeade, Pool Party, Calypso Coral Markers; Basic Gray and Soft Suede inks

I used a couple of nifty tips on this card. First, to make a perfectly symmetrical banner end, just punch it out using the corner of a square punch. Cool, huh? My background DSP had 2 edges that were printed with the sponged look, so I sponged on Soft Suede on the other two edges to make it consistent.

The ribbon is attached with a rolled up glue dot at each end, then I used a dot of Multi-Purpose Liquid Glue to anchor it in the center. That’s hidden behind a heart. The hearts are all popped out using Dimensionals. To distress the background piece, I just crunched it up a few times and ripped a few little pieces along the edge.

The problem with this card is it has so much dimension, my camera couldn’t focus on all of it! The large hearts are focused, the rest is a little blurry. Oh, well. If that’s my biggest problem today, I’ll count myself lucky!

Speaking of lucky, I think I’m pretty much recovered from my icy tumble on Monday. My vision is no longer blurry, I can turn my head from side to side, and I don’t have a headache anymore. My husband is on an Army trip until Friday and was very concerned about leaving me home alone with the hooligans. He didn’t seem reassured when I said it would probably take a few days for a blood clot to form, then break loose, and kill me. He has no sense of humor at times.

I am joking…everything is just fine here in the sticks. Seriously. Thanks to all of you who were worried about me…I really appreciate it!

Winter Woods

I found myself ALONE at our house last weekend, before the snow was trampled by a thousand little footprints, so I took some photos. The whole time I was thinking of my grandmother’s favorite poem, by Robert Frost. She was a high school English teacher, and I’ve always been amazed at the amount of memorization that generation did. She and my grandfather (and my great-aunts and great-uncles) would spout poetry all the time. Clear up into their 80’s and 90’s…imagine having all that in your memory and in a spot you can find!

I can barely remember nursery rhymes to chant with my kids! Although just last night I whipped out a quote from Shakespeare as I was saying goodnight to my husband. And he was able to identify it. But I did crack my noggin yesterday, so that may have been an anomaly on my part.

Anyway, here’s the poem, and the photos, converted to black and white using Photoshop Elements. And thanks for my grandma for liking poetry that rhymes and is not completely beyond my understanding without hurting my already aching head!

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

BW-Cedar-Shadows

BW-Deck-Rail

BW-Firepit

BW-Garden-Fence

BW-Pine-and-Bench

BW-Pine-Branch

BW-Red-Wagon

BW-Rock-Wall

BW-Stump

BW-Woods

Sometimes, You Just Have to Girly Girl It Up

As I was thinking up things I could make for Valentine’s Day, I found this wooden frame that I got at a craft store for a dollar. With just a little time and embellishment, you’d never know it was such a steal. Never mind how much I spent on the dies and other embellishments…those are non-consumable, so you don’t have to count them in the cost! Really. I’m sure it’s written down in some crafter’s justification rule book.

valentine-frame

Stampin’ Up supplies: Distressed Dots and Festive and Fun stamp sets
Crumb Cake and Rich Razzleberry Cardstock; Brights Collection DSP
5/16” Neutrals Brads; Scallop Circle and Lace Ribbon Border Punches; Hearts and Brackets Die;
Stripes, Perfect Polka Dots, Elegant Lines, and Square Lattice Embossing Folders
Very Vanilla Craft Ink; Rich Razzleberry and Melon Mambo Classic Inks; Dazzling Details

To start, I covered the frame with Very Vanilla Craft Ink, but just rubbing it all over with the pad. I’m high-tech that way. Let it dry…it takes a while…or use your embossing gun to speed it up. Then I stamped the Distressed Dots all over the frame using Rich Razzleberry.

While the frame was drying, I made the rest. For inside the frame, I ran a piece of Crumb Cake paper through the Big Shot with the Stripes Embossing Folder. I dragged the Very Vanilla Pad across it to highlight the embossing. I stamped the sentiment on Crumb Cake, colored it a little with markers, and highlighted it with Dazzling Details. I have to say, I’m a little disappointed in how the Dazzling Details make classic ink smear. It still looks cool, and I use it quite a bit, but I would use it even more if it stayed crisp! Anyway, then I mounted the sentiment piece on Rich Razzleberry and got to work on the frame embellishments.

The border is just punched from Crumb Cake, using the Lace Ribbon Border Punch. For the hearts, I cut a bunch of different ones using the Hearts and Brackets die (which is, sadly, retired). After cutting them, I used various embossing folders on them to add texture. I freely admit I’m a little obsessed with Embossing Folders. They can do wonders to dress up a simple, plain background on a card.

Next came the flowers, which I made up myself and really like.

DSC_0002First, cut 5 scallop circles using your punch.

DSC_0005 Then, for four of the circles,

1) Fold in half, then

2) Fold again to make quarters, and

3) Using sharp scissors, fringe the petals.

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Adhere to the remaining circle. I have it pretty well covered with
adhesive, although you can’t see it in the photo.

DSC_0009Punch a hole in the center, and put in a brad large enough to hide the tips of the “petals.” It needs to be something with prongs, to further hold the petals and base together.

Now make a whole bunch of these, and you’re done!

And now I need to share a little bit of backstory on this post…I wrote most of it last night and only needed to take some photos of how to make the flowers this morning. Just as I finished (but of course before I saved) the power flashed and all was lost.

This morning I was all ready to retype and add photos, but first needed to go salt the driveway. Our temperature got above 40 overnight and it was raining, so the snow was melting, but forming large amounts of ice on the driveway. I couldn’t even drive my car back up the drive to the garage after taking the boys to the bus this morning, it was so slick.

So out I went to salt. After scattering an entire 50 lb bag, cupful by cupful, I walked over to my car to see if I could drive up the driveway yet. Instead, I ended up flat on my back on the ice, whacking my head soundly. I’m fine…my husband came home to deal with the ice, and I took a long shower and several Motrin. I really hope none of my neighbors was within earshot, however. Not to mention eyeshot, although that may have been pretty comical.

As a result, I took these photos post-fall, but I think I’m still a little dazed and they’re not as clear as I would like. But, I wanted to get this posted. I think you can get the gist of how to make the flowers, though.

Thanks for listening to my tale o’woe, and be careful out there!

Hearts for My Sweetheart

cream-cheese-hearts

We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary last weekend. We dated (off and on) for 8 years before that, so, basically, we’ve been a couple since we were toddlers. Or something like that.

Our wedding was a small, hand-crafted affair. I planned the menu and my aunt organized the prep and relatives contributed their specialties; my mom and I made all the flower arrangements and such. We were even cutting edge and printed our invitations on the computer on some new-fangled invitation cardstock. Amazing, the energy we had then!

My husband’s favorite items at the reception (it was just appetizers, cake, and punch…I’m from a small town that doesn’t believe in big, sit-down dinner receptions…or didn’t back then) were the cream cheese mints my aunt made. Hers were pretty rosebuds, with crystallized sugar. This is my version, which I’ve made every year since for our anniversary and Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of silly…he gets two batches of them, a month apart. Oh, well, he’s lucky I still care enough to make them, right?

Cream Cheese Mints

3 oz cream cheese, softened…I use lowfat, like it matters
1 Tbsp butter, softened but NOT MELTED
3 cups powdered sugar
3 drops peppermint oil Gel food coloring of choice

Combine the cream cheese and butter until well blended, then add in the powdered sugar. It will be really stiff, so I usually finishing combining it with my hands. When it’s a heavy dough, knead in the peppermint oil and food coloring. I make some with the white dough, then partially knead in the coloring so it looks marbleized the second time I roll it out. It becomes more homogeneously colored each time you roll the dough. So plan accordingly.

To form the mints, either

1) Use a candy mold made for just such a purpose. Pinch off a small amount of your dough, roll in sugar, and press into the mold. Pop them out and let dry until firm.

2) Roll half the dough to a 1/4” thickness, then use small cookie cutters to cut out. This is the method I use, because I have a cute set of small heart cookie cutters. I bought it the year we were married, but I’m sure Wilton still makes something similar. I line a cookie sheet with wax paper and place the mints in a single layer on the waxed paper. Then I find somewhere I can hide them and let them dry for a few days, turning then over once. Usually the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet is a good choice. Nothing can get to them there.

Lucky me, this is the 9th house we’ve lived in for an anniversary since our wedding. So I’ve been able to explore my creativity by finding new hiding places for the mints in each house! My GI Joe gives and gives and gives, I’m telling you. Of course, that means he’s had to find just as many hiding places for the container. I rarely am offered one, once I’ve gifted them to him. Our kids don’t even know these mints exist.

Now go make some mints for your sweetie…they’ll be greatly appreciated! Probably not shared, but appreciated nonetheless.

More Heart-y Cards

As I was creating cards for my Stampin’ Up! night this week, I came up with these two variations of the same sketch. So I’m putting them both in the post, since I really like both. I’m still not sure which we’ll make Friday night. Have you an opinion? DSC_0016

All Stampin Up! supplies: Candy Conversations and Distressed Dots stamps
Crumb Cake and Whisper White cardstock; Brights Collection DSP
Melon Mambo, Rich Razzleberry, Marina Mist, Lucky Limeade, and Regal Rose markers
Scallop Border punch; Blushing Bride Pleated Ribbon; Crumb Cake Classic Ink

Using markers to color the single Candy Conversations stamp really increases its appeal. It really takes very little time…just color each heart, then “huff” a breath on it to remoisten the ink, and stamp. I love this new pleated ribbon, as well. You can cut it to the correct length, then use Sticky Strip to attach it. No tying, wrapped, pleating, or sewing to get this really on-trend look. The Candy Conversations stamp($8.95) and the pleated ribbon (4 colors, $6.95) are both in the Occasions Mini Catalog, if you find yourself needing them.

THree-Little-Words-Card

All Stampin’ Up! supplies: Three Little Words and Distressed Dots stamp sets
Whisper White, Real Red, and Crumb Cake cardstock; Brights Collection DSP
Rich Razzleberry and Real Red Classic Ink; Word Window, Small Heart, and
Medium Oval punches; Signo White Gel Pen; Red Gingham Ribbon (sadly, retired)

When making this, I punched the small hearts out of the Real Red cardstock so that the Rich Razzleberry stripes show through. You could more easily just punch the hearts out of the DSP and not have to worry about aligning them as you punch. The “I Love You” oval is popped out using Dimensionals.

These are both great examples of easy-to-make, yet polished cards, due to the details. A touch of ribbon, a bit of punched border…it makes the difference!

Hope you are enjoying a creative day and keeping warm. When I was in town picking up from preschool at noon, it was 9 degrees. When I got back home, it was only 1 degree in our driveway…those townfolk have it easy, basking in the warmth there!

Brrrrr…

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This is what I saw from my craft room window this morning. It’s a chilly 1 degree at our house (which, admittedly, is better than a negative number!), so being the good mother I am, I sent my boys off to school (and the Army) with some soul-warming baked oatmeal.

Our eldest will not eat regular oatmeal, because of the texture. He loves this, probably because it’s more like a dense oatmeal cake. Not that sweet, just yummy. The “Wisconsin” in the name comes from the Penzeys spices, maple syrup, and the dried cherries in it…all Wisconsin products. How regional am I?

baked-oatmeal Wisconsin Baked Oatmeal

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp Penzeys Baking Spice (or a combo of cinnamon, allspice, and ginger)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 eggs, beaten)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup dried cherries (or dried fruit of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

I serve it with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt, to up the calcium and protein factor. I mean, my kids have to go a whole 2 hours before they have a snack at school. Then another hour until lunch. It’s crazy, how often they eat at school. And how hungry they still are!

This yields 6 regular servings, or 12 smaller ones. For our family of 5, we had about 2 servings left over.

Enjoy, and stay warm (if that’s what you choose to do, of course!).

Passing Love Notes

I wanted to design a Valentine card that was a little grunged, and, of course, quick and easy.

notebook-front

Stampin’ Up! Supplies: Festive and Fun stamp set (from the Holiday Mini)
White Notecard; Rich Razzleberry DSP; Real Red CS; a non-SU! piece of notebook paper
Full Heart and Small Heart punches; Cherry Cobbler Bakers Twine; Rhinestone
Basic Gray Classic Ink; Blushing Bride Smooch Spritz; Signo White Gel Pen

I started this process on Friday and had absolutely no stampin’ mojo going. So I finally threw in the towel until Sunday, when things went much more smoothly. I blame my husband (who else?) because he was 1) home on Friday for a DONSA (day of no scheduled activity…the Army has such catchy names for a day off, huh?), which always throws my whole plan for the day off a bit and B) it was our anniversary weekend, so I really needed to be finishing his gift. Obviously his fault.

But back to the card. I love Rich Razzleberry…I wear lots of purple and use different shades often in designing, but this is my favorite. It has more red in it so it’s a little edgier and not so sweet, I think. I really like combining Real Red with it, too. inside-notebookThis card does both, plus it used actual loose leaf paper inside, which is a cool grungy touch. I just cut the notebook paper the same size as the inside, crunched it up really well and then smoothed it out…and repeated a couple of times. I spritzed it with Blushing Bride Smooch Spritz. It’s a little darker than I wanted, but so goes life. It’s not as dark as it appears in this photo. Really.

I also used a Stampin’ Up! notecard for the card base. These are really economical…20 cards and envelopes for $5.95. You can make up a bunch of simple thank-you notes or all occasion cards and it makes a snazzy teacher or hostess gift.

The whole card reminds me of high school and passing notes with doodled hearts on them. Not that I would ever do that because I was a model student. Probably because I knew the faculty would narc on me in a second to my mom. Whatever works, right?

Enjoy the day, if that’s what you choose to do!