Burlap and Blooms Wreath Kit

I’m just a little enamored of this new Burlap and Blooms Wreath Kit from Stampin’ Up!’s Occasions Catalog. I’m kicking myself a but that I didn’t get it put together before my Stampin’ Up! workshop, so that everyone else could have seen how cute it truly is.

Here it is on my front door, layered over a colorful egg wreath from Target.  After Easter, I can easily just have the wreath on the door (it’s protected from rain and wind).Wreath-Title-ChaosServedDai

For some reason that I still can’t fathom, the hubs and the hooligans spoiled me last weekend. Saturday, they woke me with breakfast in bed (which I don’t love, but it was a sweet gesture and I sucked it up and ate my pancakes in bed, balancing the tray on my knees).  After that, they pretty much amused themselves all day and left me to play around in my craftroom…so I finally had time to take all the pieces for this kit out of the packaging.

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The flowers were all simple to assemble, and I spent a happy hour putting it all together.

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When I finished it, I kept moving it around the house, trying to decide where I liked it best. My living room, kitchen, and dining room are decorated in the colors of the wreath, so it looked great no matter where I put it!

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You could arrange the flowers in anyway you like, of course, but I chose to follow the directions pretty much to the letter, so I could see how easy or difficult the process was. I believe it was simple enough that anyone with basic papercrafting skills could wind up with professional results.

See, I told you I was a little enamored!

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A Bit of Spring Sunshine: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

One of my favorite desserts as a kid was Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  My mom made a great one, and so did our babysitter.  She watched us at our house, before we started  school, and I remember my mom asking her to make the cake in our cast iron skillet.  I don’t know why, but it seemed to taste much better that way!  So when I make it now, I always use a cast iron skillet…not only does it taste better, it turns out of the pan much better as well, it seems, since it’s so well-seasoned. The skillet, not the cake.

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I love this cake because it’s as though it’s already frosted for you, with the ooey-gooey caramelized butter and sugar surrounding the bright gold pineapple rings and vibrant cherries…and who doesn’t love maraschino cherries, I ask you?

I’ve tried using fresh pineapple, peeling it, cubing it, and caramelizing it, but it’s nowhere near as pretty when it’s not rings, and THERE ARE NO HOLES FOR MARASCHINO CHERRIES!  So why bother?  And it tasted pretty much the same, and I worked a lot longer on it than a canned pineapple one.

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour, my go-to for no-fail, from scratch recipes (as you may have noticed!). I don’t put nuts in mine, but go right ahead if you’d like them in yours!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Topping
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 20-ounce can pineapple rings in juice, drained
  • maraschino cherries
  • diced pecans or walnuts, optional
Cake
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan.

2) To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.

3) Space the pineapple rings atop the brown sugar mixture. Place a cherry in the center of each ring. If you’re using nuts, scatter them in any empty spaces.

4) To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.

5) Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, vanilla, and coconut flavor.

6) Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.

7) Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan. It may not cover the pineapple entirely; that’s OK.

8) Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

9) Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate. Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.

10) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

You can mix this up and bake it in less than an hour, and, on yet another rainy Northwest day, it’s a bit of sunshine for a weeknight dessert splurge!

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Simple Washi Tape Storage

I admit it…I have a problem. Well, lots of them when it comes to collecting craft supplies, but today I’m specifically admitting to an ever-growing washi tape stash.  A quirk of mine is that I want to have everything within my sight in my craft room…which makes for a messy room, and then I feel too overwhelmed with messiness to be creative. Aaahhh…what to do?

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Fortunately, my craft room has a walk-in closet, and I have all my paper punches (bought before punches were made to store flat) in a hanging shoe rack on the inside of the door.  These thread racks from Joann’s fit washi perfectly, so when they were on sale for 50% off, I bought a couple.  Well, okay, I bought one, brought it home, and realized I had way too many rolls of tape to fit on it. So I had to buy another the next time I was there.

Anyway, we had this over-the-door peg rack from our bathroom in Wisconsin, and didn’t need it in this one, so I hung it on the outside of the craft room closet door. I hung the thread racks on it, and wired them in place to be sure they didn’t slide around and throw washi everywhere.

It makes an easy, and even somewhat attractive, way to organize all those little rolls of tape, and I can see exactly what I have in what color. So I can buy the ones I don’t have, of course.

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April Fools Day Fun

My hooligans anticipate April Fools Day for months. I kid you not. They love all holidays, and with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and sometimes Easter in February and March, you’d think that I could slide by on April Fools. But no.

And they remember what I’ve done in the past…that’s the hard part.  Last year I surprised them with these “grilled cheese” sandwiches for a snack.  They’re just toasted poundcake (I bought it frozen) with orange buttercream frosting between two slices.  Then I squished them a little to make the “melted cheese” ooze a bit.

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And here are 10 more ideas I’ve done in the past (very few were original…most I found at Family Fun, but I honestly can’t remember all the sources to credit).

1. Paint gel food coloring inside their bathroom faucets so the water is colored when they turn it on. Last year, April Fools was during spring break, and no one found this trick until two days later. Really?  No tooth brushing or hand washing for two days?

2. Jello in a juice glass with a straw, so it looks like real juice.

3. Meatloaf made in muffin cups and iced with tinted mashed potatoes, so they appear to be cupcakes.

4. A spaghetti and meatball cake…the spaghetti was strands of buttercream frosting, the meatballs were homemade truffles, and the sauce was seedless raspberry jam. Yeah, that was a lot of work. But I made it for a wives’ coffee back before I had kids.

5. If your kids sleep soundly, switch them around in each other’s beds during the night.

6. Freeze balloons filled with colored water (if it’s cold outside, too) and place them outside like a giant marble game. Yep, this one worked better when we lived in Wisconsin than Washington.

7. Put cereal and milk in bowls the night before and freeze them. Their little faces are priceless as they try to scoop up a bite with their spoon!

8. The classic shortsheeting is fun, but my kids don’t use top sheets, just comforters, so that won’t work for us.

9. Put googly eyes on all the fruit in the fruit bowl.

10. Add a few drops of food coloring to the milk jug (blue or green work best). We don’t do this because the leprechaun always turns our milk green, so I don’t want the hooligans thinking I know how to do it, too, to prank them.

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Stampin’ Up Fun

So, finally, after almost three years, I had a little Stampin’ Up! get-together.  Why did I wait so long?  We had such a good time, and I had forgotten how much I loved creating projects, catching up with friends, and sharing my love of stamping!

We made three cute (IMHO) projects…two cards and a gift bag.  Take a look!

I think this is my favorite. But maybe the next one is…or the bag. I’m so indecisive.SU-Happy-ChaosServedDaily

Supplies:  Hello, Lovely and Hardwood Stamp Sets; Soft Sky and Whisper White Cardstock, Island Indigo Marker; Watercolor Wonder DSP, Island Indigo Twine; Calypso Coral Ruffled Ribbon

I am loving the look of the Hardwood background stamp, using a dark shade of the cardstock color.  I’ve seen a ton a cards made with this, and every one is gorgeous.

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Supplies:  Gorgeous Grunge, See Ya Later, and Banner Blast Stamp Sets; White Notecards; Whisper White and Summer Starfruit Cardstock; Coastal Cabana and Rich Razzleberry Markers; Banner Punch

I wanted to use a couple of my favorite Sale-a-Bration products in this card, so the See Ya Later and Banner Blast stamp sets, along with the Banner Punch, helped me whip this up in no time.

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Supplies:  Another Thank You (photopolymer) Stamp Set; Whisper White and Tangerine Tango Cardstock; Epic Day DSP; Pearls; Decorative Label and Bitty Butterfly Punches; Mini Clothespin; Tag a Bag; Linen Thread; Gumball Green Satin Stitched Ribbon

I also wanted my friends to try stamping with the photopolymer stamps…I’m a little addicted, I have to admit.  They cling to the block so well (I occasionally have trouble with the rubber “clear stamps” letting go just as I stamp something). The image is not quite as crisp, it seems to me, but it’s probably not noticeable to anyone but me!

So there’s what we made…along with lots of laughter, conversation, and creativity.  Just a reminder that Sale-a-Bration ends March 31, so if you want to stock up on paper, stamps, or supplies, you’ll get FREE stamps or other supplies (like that nifty Banner Punch) with every $50 you order!  Check out the great selection of Sale-a-Bration products at my Stampin’ Up! website anytime…but make it quick!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I decided that today I’m going to share a few things that have made me smile lately…because I have Irish eyes and they really ought to be smilin’ today!

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Two things make me smile about this photo:

1. Daffodils are my favorite, and they’re around for such a short time…but I found these at the grocery store Wednesday, and they’re still gorgeous today!

2. The scrollwork on the back of this secretary desk just had to be repaired…from our move last summer, when the dunderheads snapped off the whole rounded part of the middle, splintering the scrollwork. The guy who repaired it carved matching pieces by hand. Pretty amazing, right?  It gives me hope for my grandmother’s buffet that the same company is carving a replacement claw foot for right now. Of course, this damage all happened 8 months ago and we’re just now getting things settled and repaired..but on with the happiness!

3. The middle hooligan is making his First Holy Communion in May.  Last week, his class led the Stations of the Cross, and he ended up being one of the readers. With no prep at all, he spoke clearly in to the mic, while reading some pretty difficult (sometimes even for the adults) text…yay for him and his self-confidence!

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4. Watching the oldest hooligan construct his science fair project…comparing pulley systems. It’s great to see him get involved in something other than Legos or Minecraft.  Of course, I’m sure getting to use power tools helped!

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5.  Princess Thundercloud had building a leprechaun trap as a homework assignment…you gotta love that teacher!  The pesky leprechaun was in their classroom every night last week, creating havoc and building their anticipation.  She could not wait to get to school today to see what he’d done…and to share the hijinks our leprechaun perpetrated last night!

6. And one last thing…I’m a two and a half months in my 6 month college term, and I’ve completed 12 hours…woohoo!  I’m trying to finish 9 more hours by the end of May, so I can spend June on end-of-school stuff for the hooligans and helping the hubs transition out of the Army (he’s retiring after 25 years!).  I was really nervous about being back in school after so long (also 25 years), but look forward to my study time every day…so far!

So there’s my happy bragging out of the way for awhile…now I’m going to go pop the Irish soda bread in the oven and get the corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot.  Hope you day is filled with the luck o’the Irish (or at least some of their beverages!)!

Happy Pi{e} Day and Peanut Butter Cream Pie

So it’s finally here…3.14, March 14, Pi Day…possibly my favorite day of the year, combining my math geekiness with my love o’pie!

As Pi(e) Week comes to a close here, I think I’ve saved my favorite for last…Peanut Butter Cream Pie.  Of course, I say that about almost all pies, so take it with a grain of salt (and check out the links at the bottom for all my OTHER favorites!). But, if you love peanut butter and chocolate, this is a marvelously flavor-packed pie. We eat peanut butter more than any other food at our house, I think.  Even though we’re not big chocolate fans, it does serve to help the spotlight shine on the peanut butter in this recipe, so we love it.  I hope you do, too!

This is a lightened up version, so feel free to substitute the “real thing” for any of the lower fat ingredients if you’d like. I love that it makes two fluffy pies, so you can share the Pi Day love with a friend! Or one yourself before your kids get home from school. Not that I would do that. It’s just an idea.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup natural peanut butter
14 oz. can Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
12 oz Cool Whip Free
2 chocolate graham (or Oreo) pie crusts
2 cups mini peanut butter cups (the really small ones…mine were from Trader Joe’s)
About 6 Tbsp chocolate syrup(3 Tbsp per pie), for drizzling

1. With an electric mixer (yes, I used a wooden spoon), blend together cream cheese, peanut butter, and sweetened condensed milk until completely smooth.

2. Fold in Cool Whip until blended.

3. Divide evenly between the pie crusts. Top with mini peanut butter cups and chill for at least 8 hours. The pies can be frozen at this point, if you think that will slow your consumption of them.

4. Just before serving, drizzle with chocolate syrup. Then enjoy it!

Click here to print the recipe

And if you’re thinking this looks familiar, I posted it a couple of years ago…but it still is just as tasty every time I make it!

Just because I am addicted to pie, and only feel justified rhapsodizing about it once a year, here are a few of my other favorites among the many pies I’ve blogged about…just click on the photo to open the link!

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Rasp-Cream-ChaosServedDailyHappy Pi{e} Day!

 

TBT: Balsamic Raspberry Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Do you know how hard it was for me to narrow down my four favorite pie recipes to blog about this week?  Well, it was quite the task, and I had to make a lot of pies in order to recover from the stress. Anyway, here’s another favorite from last summer…Balsamic Raspberry Strawberry Rhubarb Pie…it can be made with frozen rhubarb, berries, and premade pie crusts, so don’t think it’s an all-day, only in-season event!

I’m not blathering on today about how the flavors of this pie meld together in an explosion of yumminess. You just need this in your life. It’s perfect for Independence Day (or any day you happen to find rhubarb in your flower beds and do a little happy dance, as I did), and you’ll make people smile if you make it. So do it already.

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Balsamic Raspberry Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  • 2 Piecrusts for a 9” pie pan
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar (1-1/2 cups if you’re using raspberries instead of Jammy Bits)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups lightly packed diced rhubarb, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups hulled, quartered strawberries, fresh or frozen (it’s easiest to cut the strawberries when they’re only slightly thawed, if you’re using frozen)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raspberry Jammy Bits (from King Arthur) or 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • coarse white sparkling sugar, to garnish

1. Line a 9” pie pan with one crust, crimping the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

2. To make the filling: Whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt.

3. Toss the rhubarb and strawberries with the vinegar, then with the sugar mixture. Stir in the Jammy Bits or raspberries. Spoon the fruit into the pan, filling it about 3/4 full and mounding the filling a bit in the center.

4. Place dabs of the butter atop the filling.

5. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

6. Roll out the remaining crust, and cut it into star shapes.

7. Place the pastry stars atop the filling. Brush with water and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.

8. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust nicely browned. Cover the edges with foil if it starts to get too brown.

9. Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool. The pie really needs to cool for at least three hours before serving, or it will be really messy. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Click here for the printable recipe

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Easy, Breezy Millionaire Pie

You may have seen this on my friend Chrissy’s blog last summer, when she was nice enough to let me guest post there. But, since I haven’t shared it here, I just had to include this fabulous Millionaire’s Pie during Pi(e) Week!

Growing up, our nearest “shopping” was a 45 minute drive away, in Tulsa. Occasionally, my grandma would go with us (I think she had to have time to forget what shopping with my brother and me was like, so she didn’t go often). Her very favorite place for lunch was a cafeteria called Furr’s. They may still exist in the South…I haven’t been to one in years, despite my mom’s best efforts. “Let’s go to Furr’s and just have trays full of vegetables,” she’ll say. I think she forgets that the vegetables had pretty much every nutrient cooked out of them during their prep for the steam table, so I never agree to go there.

Anyway, one thing I do remember loving from Furr’s was the Millionaire Pie. You can find many (maybe millions!) copycat recipes for the pie online, but this is the one my family makes. It’s almost like cheating when you say you’ve made a pie with this recipe…it takes less than ten minutes, and you never have to turn on the stove or oven. It’s like a mouthful of springtime, with fresh, bright flavors, and when hot summer days arrive, it’s an easy-to-make, refreshing dessert.

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I have this, let’s say. quirk about pie.  If it’s a fruit pie, I want it to be warm when I eat it, so I usually don’t take those to a potluck or whatever. This pie, however, can’t be served until it chills for a few hours, or even overnight, making it perfect for taking somewhere or to make early in the day for dessert that night. Enough blathering…here’s the recipe!

Millionaire Pie

  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple, well-drained
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk (lowfat or fatfree work as well)
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 8 oz whipped topping (or 1 cup whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks)
  • 9”graham cracker crust (or shortbread or chocolate crust)…you can also use two crusts for a flatter pie

1. Stir together all ingredients (except crust) and let sit until slightly firm, about 5 minutes or so. Spoon into crust, mounding in center. Or, divide evenly between two crusts for a less thick pie. But where’s the fun in that?

2. Refrigerate three hours, or until firm.

Click here for the printable recipe

You’ll notice I’ve included the directions for making this into two pies, less full (obviously) than just one would be. Let your conscience be your guide.

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Fresh Blueberry Pie

So are you enjoying Pi{e} Week so far?  We certainly are. Today’s pie, Fresh Blueberry Pie, is one we anticipate all fall and winter, waiting for fresh blueberries to appear at the market.  Happily, Costco had beautiful ones this week!  I realize I could just use frozen blueberries anytime and make a traditional fruit pie, but I find blueberry pies like that to be cloyingly sweet.  The fresh blueberries in this pie don’t get all mushy like baked ones do, and taste so much, well, fresher!BLueberry-Pie-ChaosServedDa

Once when the hubs and I were young and went on adventurous vacations (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.

Enjoy it!