Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Baskets, Verve and Christmas!

Hi Everyone!

So sorry for the lack of posting last week. I have quite a bit to share with you today; but promise not to keep you very long. I am sure you are as busy as I am. So, let's get started shall we?

First, I have been so very busy crafting; but I just haven't had a lot of extra time to photograph and blog. The first thing I'm going to share with you is a basket I made for a local charity auction that is taking place in November. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of each item individually; but you can get the general idea from the basket. It has 20 greeting cards and envelopes with assorted gift boxes, a 4x6 note pad holder, 2 3x5 note holders; and 3 post it note holders. If you are a crafter, you KNOW how much time some of these little projects can take. It was so much fun to put this all together; but I was definitely happy to have it completed!


Next, I found some time to make 2 cards for weeks 3 and 4 of the Viva La Verve Sketch Challenge. I didn't realize until after I had made them and put them side by side that are complementary in color coordination! I used Verve Stamps from "Poppy Birthday" for week 3 on the left and then I used Verve Stamps "Medallion" and "Circular Sayings" for week four on the right.


Finally, let's talk about Christmas, shall we?! I have been a HUGE fan of Kristina Werner's Holiday Card Series since she began it a few years ago. I try to create as many cards inspired by her creations as I can each year. I have been so proud of the fact that I am keeping up with them pretty well this year. In addition, I am actually making 2 copies of each card because I am going to use one set for my personal use for family and friends and then the other set, I will be sending as part of the Caring Hearts Card Drive that Jennifer McGuire blogged about a few weeks ago. 
I will be sharing all of the cards I made inspired by Kristina starting Nov 28 for 25 days...so it's kind of like doing my own Holiday card show for you.
In the meantime, however, I did receive my November Card Kit from Simon Says Stamp and some extra goodies including the "falling snow" stencil with some texture paste that I was so excited to use for the first time. So, the last card I have to share with you today is this adorable little card, I put together yesterday afternoon. When I saw the release of this month's kit, I also went ahead and order the teal ink pad and the hot lips ink pad as well; and I am so glad I did. They coordinate perfectly with the colors and papers with this kit.

I can't wait to play more with all the fun stuff in this kit! Here is one last picture showing the close up of the texture paste snow and the glitter I added to the trees. 


That is all for me today. Thanks for sticking with me through the end of this very long post today. I will be back again as soon as I can. Until then, enjoy your day! 


Monday, October 20, 2014

What's For Dinner Monday? Chicken and Sausage Winter Stew

Good Morning Everyone!

I hope you have all had a wonderful weekend. The weather is turning a little bit chilly here in Pennsylvania; and fall is definitely in the air. I decided it was finally time to break out a stew recipe. This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray.  As always, I have included a printable recipe for your convenience as well as including the recipe here at the bottom of the post.

This is an easy recipe to adapt to whatever culinary preferences you wish. It could be made with turkey sausage and chicken sausage for those who don't eat pork for example. Don't leave out the beans, they add a nice texture to the soup. 

Also, this stew really benefits from slow simmering on the stove for about 20-30 minutes before serving. Leftovers are also delicious!

Chicken and Sausage Winter Stew

Ingredients: 

  • 3-4 Boneless Chicken Breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3/4 lb Mild Italian Sausage crumbled
  • 3/4 lb Beef Sausage cut into bite size pieces
  • 3-4 Celery Ribs diced
  • 2 small carrots or 1 large one diced 
  • 1 small onion or 1/2 large one diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 15oz can of Cannellini beans drained
  • Seasonings to taste and preference

Directions:

  • Heat 1-2 Tbsp of oil in a large dutch oven style pot over medium high heat. Add the crumbled Italian sausage and brown 4-5 minutes
  • Add the beef sausage pieces and continue to brown both sausages for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the sausages to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.
  • Add the chicken breast pieces to the pan, season with preferred seasonings and brown for about 4-5 minutes. 
  • Add the carrot, celery, onions and garlic to the pan and then continue to cook with the chicken for another 7-8 minutes or until the veggies start to soften
  • Return the sausages to the pan
  • Deglaze the bottom of the pan with the white wine, stirring up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan for all that yummy flavor!
  • Stir in the can of Cannellini beans
  • Add the Chicken Stock. You may not need the full two cups. Just add enough to cover all the ingredients or until its as "stewy or soupy" as you would like.
  • Bring the stew to a low boil for a few minutes and then lower the heat to simmer (I put mine between 3-4 on the number dial on the stove) and let the stew and all the yummy flavors just meld together for about 20-30 minutes, gradually lowering the temperature to 2-3  

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pin It, Make It, Share it: Hello There.

Hi Everyone!

celebrate card by Donna MikasaI Hope everyone is doing well today. I have been busy with many crafty projects; but also knew I should stop by with something to share this morning. Today's card was inspired by the small picture to the right that I pinned to my "Crafty Inspirations" board on pinterest. The original card was created by Donna Mikasa. You can click the picture and it will take you to the original source.

For my interpretation of the card, I used the Moroccan Stencil from Simon Says Stamp with distress inks on water color paper. I blended Crushed Olive, Tumbled Glass, Fired Brick, Mowed Lawn and Peacock Feathers. I sprayed the paper with some water; and then let it dry.

I haven't used this stencil in a while...almost forgot I had it! It was fun to play around with it.
I added the sentiment from Simon Says Stamp "Square Sayings" I added a piece of Bermuda Bay Ribbon from my stash and then put the background piece on to a piece of Vintage Cream card stock folded to a standard size card (4 1/4 x 5 1/2)

One note before I go:

I am not going to be entering any challenges for a little while. I've thought about this for a while and have debated my thoughts regarding it for a while as well.
On the one hand, I think it's great to have a few people from challenges stop by and maybe leave a comment or two. And, you know, let's face it...sometimes they are the only people who stop by and leave comments. I know I'm probably taking a huge risk by no longer linking to them; and my blog traffic will probably plummet significantly.
Nevertheless, challenges are just overwhelmingly time consuming. Finding the challenges, linking the challenges within the blog posts, then linking my card to each individual challenge. I just don't have time for it right now.
So, I hope you like what I've shared. I hope you might have a few moments to share a comment as well.

Thanks for visiting with me, have a good day; and I'll see you all again soon!



Monday, October 13, 2014

Viva La Verve Sketch Challenges Week 1 and 2

Hi Everyone!

So sorry I haven't blogged anything crafty lately! I have been very busy crafting, however...just haven't had the time to get anything posted. I have been working on Christmas cards which I will be sharing with you in December.
I also decided to play along with this month's VLV sketch challenges. So today, I have two cards to share with you.  For the first week, I also decided to use the optional color challenge of Ocean Blue, Orange and Yellow.
I started with a standard sized card base of Canyon Clay and then added a layer of Ocean Tide. I stamped the background image on Vintage Cream card stock using my new "Eastern Delights" stamps from Clearly Besotted. I stamped them alternatively with Iced Spruce, Rusty Hinge and Scattered Straw Distress inks. I used my blending tool with the inks to add some color to the edge of the paper as well. More layers of card stock and then I ran another piece of Vintage Cream through my cuttlebug with the swirls folder. I used Scattered Straw, Rusty Hinge and Iced Spruce with my blending tools here as well.
The butterfly is from Verve's Blue Sky Set and I cut it out using the "All Aflutter" die set and then colored it in with distress markers. I added a coating of shimmer with my Wink of Stella clear glitter pen and then added the sequins.

Challenges for this card:

1. Crafting at the weekend: Anything Goes
2. Treasured Times: Anything Goes
3. Vandicrafts Artistry Challenge: Anything Goes



Well, if you're still here with me, let's move on to the second card for today. This is for VLV week 2 as well as the October Diva Dare Challenge "Pink Power" This was a harder sketch for me; but I finally put together something I liked. I chose a palette of pinks and greens for this card, with the focus on the pink obviously. I used my Inkadinkado Polka Dot background stamp and embossed it with versamark and white embossing powder. I used the Geometric Rings embossing folder for the circle. The banner across the top was cut using Verve's "Award Banner" die cut. I also used Verve's "I heart U" die set and "you and I " stamp set.
I added some sparkle to the heart with some star dust stickles and some white acrylic paint dots to the embossed area of the circle to finish the card.

Since this post is already really long, I'm not going to link this card to any additional challenges.

That is all for me today. Thank you so much for visiting with me. Have a wonderful day, and I will see you all again soon!

What's For Dinner Monday? Baked Tilapia with Fire Roasted Tomatoes.

 Printable Recipe

Hi Everyone!

This week's dinner recipe is perfect for what I like to call a "recovery meal." If you have had a weekend of heavy food or not so healthy options. This meal is a great healthy option to make you feel better. A couple of notes, however. First, you can make this dish with any type of fish you desire. Cod would probably be a good one to try, for example. I use Tilapia because it's inexpensive and we like it. If you are not a particular fan of seafood, then you could use the same recipe with boneless skinless chicken breasts.

As for side dishes to accompany the meal, this is also optional. I always make grits; but I've also served it with roasted potatoes and green beans. The salad used in the picture was a last minute addition to my plate..simply because I had it in the refrigerator. 
My wine of choice with this dish is "Apothic White" it is a nice blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Moscato that goes well with the acidity of the tomatoes in the sauce and with the heat of the tomatoes.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Maternal Reflections: Our no technology week

I have mentioned in the past that we are very much a technology happy family. TV, video games, iphones, tablets etc. I make no apology for the fact my kids play video games and watch TV. I have even been known to turn a blind eye to how long they are playing them...especially on a lazy rainy Sunday.

As part of a fundraiser for their school, this past week the boys accepted the "TV Free" challenge. This TV free week also meant no screen time of any kind: TV, tablets, video games, phones etc. When I asked them if they wanted to do it, my youngest son looked at me like I had grown two heads (he is the techy little geek of the family!) I explained to him that it probably wouldn't be as hard as he thought it would be. After all, he's in school all day, they already have two non video game days, so we would just be adding a couple of more days to it. He agreed, and so did his brother.

The boys do a pretty good job of  playing togethr with their toys and each other; but I also knew they could only take so much of each other.  I also wanted to make sure that I took advantage of the family time this would afford us. I mean, what a crazy concept, right?! So, what did we do?

We played some board games: Headbanz is always a family favorite. So simple and yet at the same time ridiculously challenging. Can I just say, it took me FOREVER to figure out I was a ladder. Needless to say, I did not win the game!
In addition, we had the best time playing Charades! We didn't really follow the rules; but we sure had fun doing it! Some were very easy, some were silly: Jonathan's "ugly green booger monster" was a bit of a challenge to guess! And let me just say you have NOT lived until a member of your family tries to act out "The Wii" by standing sideways and well..."Weeing"

They each did a lot of reading...in fact, this is what they spent most of their time doing when we weren't playing games together.


There were nerf gun wars, card games and we learned how to make Origami Emperor Pickeltine; and many other activities not pictured here. They participated in a skate party last night, that resulted in a need for motrin and ice packs!


So, now that the week is done, what are my thoughts? Honestly, it was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent together; but I sure am exhausted!! It is a true test of multitasking skills and time management to be able to cook dinner, do the dishes and fold an origami project basically at the same time! I am extremely proud of them for completing the challenge however. I thought for sure, my youngest was going to crack around Wednesday night!

It has also made me aware that we need more family evenings together;  that there is room for a balance to be found between every night and no nights at all. We often retreat to our own corners of the house, not really communicating with one another except in quick one or two sentences.  I know this is sometimes easier; but I also know now that it isn't really what is best. It seems so obvious, I realize. However, it is easy to get caught up in the domestic duties of the evening and feel like you just don't have time.  I realized that I do have time, and that one day when my kids are grown and gone, I'll be wishing to have the time again.

Thanks so much for visiting with me today. Enjoy your weekend...do something fun with your family! I'll see you all again soon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Verve Stamps Fall Fancy Inspiration Challenge


Hi Everyone!

Today I am sharing my card for the Verve Fall Fancy Inspiration Challenge. I'm so happy Fall is finally here! When I was putting this card together, I tried to think of the things that I love the most about the fall season.
To me, fall means beautiful warm colors, crisp mornings, good books with cups of hot coffee, cocoa and tea. I gathered up my fall color card stock inspired by the photo in the challenge and the Verve Stamp sets "Sunny Days" and "Delightful and Delicious."


The background of the first layer of Canyon Clay card stock (PTI) was embossed with the polka dot background stamp from Inkadinkado ( I believe this stamp has been discontinued, however) with Versa Mark and clear embossing powder. I stamped the tea cup with Simon Says Stamp Khaki ink and colored it with distress markers. I did the same with the flower as well.

I used this week's Mojo Monday for my sketch inspiration as well.

Since it is late in the day, I'm going to get this posted. Thank you for visiting with me and I'll see you again soon!




Today's Challenges:

Artistic Impressions: Anything Goes
Love to Scrap: Anything Goes
Stamp and Create: Fall/Autumn
The Paper Girls Challenge: Solid card stock
Mojo Monday: Sketch

Monday, October 6, 2014

Simon Says Stamp October Card Kit Video

Hi Everyone!

Today I have my very first video to share with you!!! Let me first make the disclaimer that I am NOT a video taker and I don't have a fancy camera set up. This video was shot using my iphone and as you can see it is all one handed because I had to hold the phone while shooting the video. Still, hopefully you find a little inspiration here. I wanted to try doing a video so I could show you the cards I made using the October Card Kit from Simon Says Stamp. I thought these would be a faster way to share them with you rather than doing individual pictures and posts for each card.
With a little tweaking and learning, I will probably do future card kits in this manner as well. I will be posting individual pictures of the cards at the Simon Says Stamp Gallery as well as Pinterest, so you can see them each in more detail there.
I would love to be able to do some actual card making videos in the future to share some fun techniques and products; but I have a bit of a learning curve to get past with actually shooting the videos before I can do that, so for now I hope this will suffice.

You can watch the video here or jump on over to You Tube and watch it there.


Have a great day everyone, thank you for visiting and I will see you gain soon!

What's For Dinner Monday? Easy Beef Enchiladas.

Hi Everyone!



Click for the Printable Recipe

So sorry for not posting a recipe last week! Hopefully this will make up for it. I make these enchiladas at least once a week and sometimes more. This definitely in my husband's top three favorite dish list. In fact, it's probably his very favorite period! I have been making these for years and no, they are not what is considered to be traditional Mexican enchiladas; but they are nevertheless
 yummy yummy!!

They are also what you will be eating if you are ever invited to dinner at my house. It's funny because every time I ask Jim what I should make for company that comes, he just looks at me and says, "Really? After all these years you're still asking me that?!" Chances are too that if you come back again, you'll have them then too! So I just want to go on the record at this point and say, yes, I CAN cook other food...you may never experience it; but I CAN!

Ok, so here we go. The tip I have for these enchiladas is you must use the ingredients listed. I tried once to use different brands of sauce and tortillas, and well let's just say that didn't work out so well. Now, if you are of culinary talent to make your own homemade sauce and tortillas, by all means. However, if you can do those things, you probably really don't need this recipe!

I don't have any other pictures to accompany this recipe today...sorry about that. When I was looking through the ones I had, I couldn't find any good ones I wanted to share. You should be ok without them, however. It really is a very easy recipe!

Have a great day, thanks for visiting with me and I'll see you again soon!









Thursday, October 2, 2014

Maternal Reflections: I Don't Help my Children with Their Homework

Ok, so I should probably clarify that statement just a bit. It isn't that I don't help my children with their homework. I just don't hold their hands and sit with them, watching them step by step and doing it for them everyday. I see so many of my friends who say homework time is such a challenge for them because they can't help their child with what they have to do. Why do we often assume as parents that they don't know how to do it? Why do we believe that if we can't do it, then they can't possibly understand it either?


Today's children are growing up in a fast paced, technology driven world and I believe that the educational system is adapting to meet those needs. It is a slow process and I would say that the transitional phase will last a while. Unfortunately, many of our current elementary and middle school students are caught in the gap between the old way of learning and the new way of teaching. As a learner of the old way, we are often hard pressed as parents to understand the new ways of teaching. College students currently seeking Education Degrees are doing so under a much different curriculum and skill set than when I received mine; and when a lot of current teachers received theirs. I don't know that I would want to be a teacher now, or if I would want to "learn how to be a teacher" now either because I do believe that for as hard as we try, my generation (X, Y...or whatever those of us who peaked educationally in the 90's are called) is often unable to keep up with the speeding train of computer based, technology centered, "Common Core" train that is whisking our children away.

This doesn't mean that our children are doomed to failure because we can't keep up. I believe that our children are much smarter than we give them credit for in many ways. Children have a genuine desire to learn, and they often thrive in highly challenging areas. Video game developers, toy makers and entertainment industry insiders are aware of this and capitalize on it when developing their products. They know, probably better than we do, that our children have the ability to coordinate thought and action much quicker than we realize. I know that both of my boys have quite the video game collection; but not once have they ever required help or instruction in how to play them. They turn them on; and they figure it out as they go.

The same is true for most of the homework they bring home. Everyday, I ask the same questions: "Do you have homework?" If the answer is yes, the next them I ask is, "Do you need help or can you do it on your own?" Most of the time they tell me they can do it on their own. They sit at the table and they do it.  Occasionally, they will have a question and not understand something, and I'm always available to help if asked. When they ask for help, however, I always ask them "What did you learn in school today?" or "How did your teacher show you how to do it?" Usually with a little push back to the day's lesson and activities in the classroom they remember how to do it all on their own. I believe that by allowing my children the time and opportunity to do their homework independently that I am preparing them for better academic success and therefore stronger future in society.

What are your thoughts? How do you handle homework time in your house? I'd love to hear from you, so leave me a comment! or visit me on Facebook and share your thoughts there.





Simon Says Stamp October Card Kit: Friendship Has Its Perks

Hi Everyone!

I am doing a quick drive by posting this morning to share a card I made using the new Simon Says Stamp October Card Kit. This set is SO MUCH FUN!!! I am glad I finally got a chance to play with it. I have a lot of other crafting projects and organizational projects going on at the moment and hope to be able to share more with you soon. 



This card was easy to put together since everything coordinates so well in the kit. I used Copic Markers BG72 and BG75 to color the mug and although it's hard to see in the picture I added some Wink of Stella glitter pen to the center circle and covered the heart with glossy accents. I embossed the sentiment at the bottom with versa mark and white embossing powder. To achieve the curved edge on the bottom of the pattern paper, I adhered the strips to a scrap piece of white paper, and then used the Curved Edge A2 die from Simon Says Stamp.

No time to add challenges for this card today; but please feel free to share or Pin this card if you like it, just provide a link back her for me! 

Have a wonderful day and I'll see you all again soon!




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