Thursday, February 28, 2013

Single Word Journaling...

Another homework assignment!  I'm actually caught up on my journaling class BEFORE the next assignment posts (in a few hours...but still...caught up!).  One of the things this class talks about is doing pages with the STORY first instead of pictures first.  Point being, there are lots of things that probably wouldn't make it into the scrapbook if you were scrapping only from pictures.  If you think of stories that you want to include, then you can go looking for a picture that reminds you of the story, or somehow relates to it, AFTER you journal...or maybe even do a page without pictures.  Anyway, since I'm coming up on another fabulous scrapping weekend at Heather's, it seemed appropriate to do a page for weekends past.  We always have a good time, but there's not always specific scrap-able events, plus we're awful about taking pictures when we get together.  Sooooo...I just wrote up some words that made me think of those weekends and yanked a picture from Facebook (with permission, of course), and here we are...a cute page to commemorate scrapping and bitching and drinking too much wine...woot!  (P.S.  I'm obsessed with the camera template I misted/inked into the background...ah-ma-zing).  Plus, in the name of my OCD-ishness, it's a little matchy-matchy with yesterday's page in the colors and the friend theme, so it makes a complete layout for my homework album :)  Happiness is a place for everything and everything in it's! 

Anyway, that's all for tonight.  T-minus 20 days till I'm in Michigan...woot!  G'night all :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Journaling With Numbers...

Well, part of this week's journaling homework was journaling with numbers.  I've gotta say, this workshop is giving me tons of ideas to scrap old pictures I've had laying around for that I've always liked, but never found a place for, because they didn't really go with anything else.  Anyway, so I've had this pic of my friend Ryan for ages (probably almost as long as I've known him), and when I was flipping through my box of pictures, I just knew it was the picture for this assignment.  Weirdly, while I'm a numbers-oriented person as far as math/statistics go, I had a really hard time reconciling that with my crafty side for this project.  I think maybe I need to put more stock in that whole left-brain/right-brain dominance thing.  I must've went through a dozen scenarios with different numbers, and they just didn't seem to relate to each other enough, or seem important enough to go on the page...I finally settled on a less-is-more approach, and I think it turned out pretty good.  I added another handlettered title and a doodled band/border for my doodling workshop.  I'm sort of obsessed with the doodled band...I'm going to be doing that one on everything for a while, I think ;)   Here's the end result:

Also in this journaling workshop, our teacher keeps talking about a favorite pics album that she keeps.  I'm thinking that's a brilliant idea.  Pictures that aren't necessarily in chronological order...or that don't go with any particular theme, location, date, etc...just pictures that you like, and you want to keep in one place to enjoy.  I think that's sort of what my "homework scrapbook" is going to turn out to be, because I've just been gathering up pictures that I like that have been homeless thusfar.  Anyway, I best be getting to bed...more homework tomorrow unless I'm totally slacking!  :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Journaling Homework...

Well, thanks to a snowstorm that got my store closed early, I had extra time to scrap tonight and work on my homework for my journaling class.  Woot!  Hooray for snow days!  (Note: I probably won't be feeling that way when I'm digging my car out in the morning, but alas...I'll enjoy it for the moment.)  Anyway, this first one was for journaling in the style of a quiz.  I had the hardest time thinking of what to do.  I finally wound up writing the quiz first after stumbling across a "Would You Rather..." reference on TV the other day.  I took a few applicable questions (that weren't too ridiculous or that game is prone to being), and then dug through my bin of random pictures and found a picture of myself from a couple of years ago at a work meeting (yes...I'm wearing a tiara and wand at a work meeting...I work at a scrapbook store  I'm still doing my doodling/lettering for my handlettering class too, so that's featured again.  I think it turned out pretty darn cute...I don't even hate the picture of myself (which is weird, cuz I NEVER scrapbook myself). 

And then the other assignment was journaling in a single sentence.  I've had these pics hanging out on my computer for a couple of years of my sister and I from a trip to St. Louis.  I never had much in particular to do with them (besides post them on Facebook, obviously), because they didn't tell much of a story...except that we're dorks and spend too much time taking pictures of ourselves making ridiculous faces at the camera when we're bored in a hotel room.  lol :)  Anyway, I'm liking it, I think...even if that does mean I'm featured on TWO whole scrapbook pages in recent history...weird!  I'm particularly obsessed with the little Maya Road houses on the bottom...I colored them with some Slick Writers and I'm in love with them!

So that's it for the craftiness tonight.  In other news, I'm a sucker, and when I got an email this morning, reminding me it's the last day to sign up for the Technicolor Doodling workshop on Creative Passions Classes, I clicked right on through and signed up.  Argh.  I promised myself I wouldn't sign up for another one till I was done with the first two!  Whoops :) 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

House Mouse Monday Challenge (HMFMC138)...

Well, after much talking about blog challenges at work, I got to thinking it was a pretty good idea to start getting my creativity working by trying one out.  All this crafting with prompts with my scrapbooking workshops has been a new experience, so why not apply it to cards too?  Anyway, I'm obsessed with House Mouse stamps, so I figured that was as good a place to start as any!  So I'm starting with the House Mouse Monday Challenge - HMFMC138 - I Love You *Sew* Much, in which you're supposed to either use stiching, faux stitching, or a stamp that relates to sewing in some way.  I went to dig out my stamping supplies tonight, since I've been doing mostly Project Life stuff for the last few weeks, and nearly had a stroke thinking I lost my FAVORITE acrylic block for stamping.  Nevermind that I don't actually need an acrylic block for this project, since the stamp's mounted on a wooden block already.  Don't worry...the crisis was averted when I found it hiding with some washi tape in the wrong drawer of my craft center...tsk...bad acrylic block! So yeah... I think it's possible I may have a bit of a crafting problem...soon I may need an intervention of some kind...but until then, here's what I came up with for my first challenge!

Okay, so I haven't decided yet if I'm totally in love with it, but it's cute and it was fun to get out my colored pencils and gamsol for the evening. I can't ever seem to get House Mouse stamps to look right with Copics...the lines are too fine, and I'm apparently a bit of a bull in a china shop when it comes to coloring fine line images. But I love the results I get with pencils, so I'll stick with that. I used random scraps of paper I had lying around (hooray for using up scraps!), gems, twine, and some buttons from my gigantic stash that I hardly ever use. All in all, a productive use of supplies that I haven't touched in a while. Everyone have a good night!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Journaling Workshop - List Style...

Another combined homework assignment!  In this one, I combined the list-style journaling assignment from my Grammar Free Journaling workshop (on Big Picture Classes) and the embellished title assignment from my Hand Lettering workshop (on Creative Passion Classes).  I wanted to make yesterday's page into a full layout with all the pups, so I did a page with Daisy May, the newest addition to the family.  Her name was a helpful inspiration for the embellished title.  Aside from that, I did it in a similar style with doodling so layout all feels like it goes together.  The paper is Studio Calico Snippets.  I gotta say, these doodling pages are a lot cheaper to do than my other :)  Anyway, that's all for tonight.  Catching up on Project Life tomorrow, and maybe submitting a card for a challenge on the House Mouse blog!  Woot!  Yay crafty-time!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Inspiration Strikes...

I'm bringing craftiness back to the blog!  Obviously, I've been doing random crafty stuff since I last posted anything on here about it.  However, it's been a bit of a struggle for a while.  I hadnt had motivation to scrapbook in ages and I'd even lost momentum on my stamping projects (on the actual stamping...not on the buying of  The good news is, since I moved to Iowa, I've been getting more involved in scrapbooking and crafting again.  My friend Heather inspired me to actually start my Project Life scrapbook (for real this time), and I've actually been doing a good job of keeping up.  I went and took a workshop about doodling at Memory Bound (another local scrapbooking store), and had so much fun.  And now, thanks to Teresa (one of the gals at work), I'm getting involved in some online classes too.  Right now, I've got a handlettering workshop and a journaling workshop that I'm participating in.  Because I've got all that, plus St. Patrick's Day cards that I'm working on, I decided to combine a couple of my assignments this week.  This page has a handlettered title for my handlettering workshop, and it has comparative lists for my journaling workshop (plus doodling, because I'm a little obsessed since I took that class a couple weeks ago).  I'm pretty happy about how it turned out :)

Anyway, that's all for tonight.  I'm excited that I'm getting motivated and inspired again, so you can expect to see more soon! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins...

Well, it's been a while since I've cooked with oatmeal.  I saw these muffins and they looked pretty delicious, so I thought I'd give it a go.  The comments on the original were full of people that substituted half of the ingredients and then were irritated that it didn't turn out right.  Aren't those people annoying?  I mean, someone tested a recipe, discovered it worked, and posted it as they made it for your convenience.  Please do not complain when you changed the ratios and ingredients and then it didn't turn out...that was NOT what they posted.  *sigh*  Anyway, I made it as posted, and it turned out just fine.  I always try to make it as posted at least once, and then I can tweak from there the next time I make it, since I know how it's SUPPOSED to turn out.  Maybe next time I'll use the vanilla greek yogurt...or add some honey...we'll see.  Anyway, the original can be found at c&e if you want to check it out.  Here we go:

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins
12 muffins - 157 calories each

2 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. plain greek yogurt
2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 ripe bananas

Pulse the oats in a food processor till they get to a more flour-like consistency and then pour into mixing bowl.  Pulse bananas in food processor until smooth and then pour into mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until well-mixed.  Divide into greased muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  And that's it :)

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins...

Holy chocolatey goodness.  This recipe has been making the Pinterest rounds for a while, and I've had it bookmarked for ages.  It's pegged as being my case, they're really not any better or worse for you than the just-add-water muffins I usually make.  HOWEVER, it's hard to find a just-add-water variety that is chocolate.  Blueberry...yep. betcha.  Banana nut...sure, why not?  Chocolate...NO!  The added bonus of this is that it doesn't take eggs (which I sooooo rarely have either a) on hand, or b) that aren't expired).  And it DOES take pumpkin, which I almost always have on hand (those of you who know me, know that I keep it on hand for my dog...but who says I can't borrow some for muffins, right?).  Anyway, this was super easy, and EXTREMELY moist and delicious (yeah, I snuck one when they got done cooking...they looked/smelled to good to pass up, and it was all I could do to not scarf down 3 more...yeow!  You really can't taste the pumpkin at all...just delicious chocolatey goodness).  The original recipe can be found at Sweet Verbena if you're interested.  Here goes:

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins
12 muffins - 172 calories each

1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 - 15 oz. can pumpkin
1/4 c. milk

Mix all ingredients together.  Divide into cupcake tin.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  And that's it!  Enjoy :)

Confetti Mac & Cheese...

Why don't we just go ahead and say this recipe wasn't exactly what I expected.  I'm notoriously awful at estimating appropriate serving sizes for pasta when I'm looking at a dry quantity.  So, I mistakenly expected that based on the measurements in the original (they didn't have servings listed), that this would  probably get me 6 servings or so (silly me...usually I err in the opposite direction... i.e. spaghetti for one?  Go ahead and invite the army, cuz I made way too much!).  Anyway, when I got going, I realized there's no way in hell that this is going to make 6 servings.  In actuality, it's really only enough for 4 max (in my opinion), but I stretched it to 5 on account of keeping the calories semi-reasonable.  And honestly, I'm not even totally sure about the calories as they're listed, since I had to add way more milk than I expected.  The cooking times were also pretty whacked out...which may or may not have something to do with altitude and/or cooking on electric instead of gas.  All in all, it was a bit of an ordeal.  On the bright side, it smells amazing and the spoonful I snuck when I was portioning was delicious.  The original recipe can be found at Peas and Crayons.  Here it is:

Confetti Mac & Cheese
5 servings - 490-ish calories each

12 oz. evaporated milk
1/2 to 2 c. regular milk (you'll be adding it a little at a time, as you need to.)
2 c. small shells pasta (according to comments in the original, this can NOT be substituted for other pastas without major ramifications in cooking time and liquid content)
1 c. vegetables of choice (I used half and half of petite frozen peas and shoepeg corn)
1/4 lg. onion, diced
2 T. bacon bits
1/4 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic flakes
1/2 c. gouda, shredded (I used apple smoked gouda)
1/2 c. sharp cheddar, shredded
1/4 c. parmesan, shredded
Seasonings, to taste

You really need to prep everything first on this one, because once the pasta goes in, you'll need to be dealing with that pretty much non-stop until it's done.  Soooo....saute vegetables with bacon bits and seasonings, then set aside.  Make sure all cheeses are shredded and ready to go, then set aside.  Make sure your regular milk is on the counter next to the stove, ready to go.  Put pasta and evaporated milk in a pot and turn heat on medium-low (the original suggested a setting of 4 on a numbered dial...I think if I do this again, I might crank it up a little, because this took forever).  You'll need to stir the pasta nearly constantly to keep the milk from burning, adding regular milk as needed to keep the sauce from getting excessively thick.  The original recipe said it should be done in 10-15 reality, I was at my stove for almost 35 minutes, stirring away.  When pasta is tender (try a piece to make sure!), add vegetables and cheeses.  Stir to melt and add milk as necessary to adjust consistency of sauce.  When everything is heated through, you're all set and ready to serve.  I'll let you know how it turns out when I do the recipe update in a week or two!

Cheese and Nut Stuffed Shells...

Well, I'm back to giving a vegetarian option a shot.  I do that once in a blue moon.  And once in a blue moon out of THOSE blue moons, I actually don't miss the meat.  I have a feeling this is gonna be one of those times :)  I found this on...drumroll please...Pinterest.  I know, I know.  Shocking, isn't it?  I've never made stuffed shells, because I always thought it sounded like a major pain in the butt.  In reality, it was an extra step, but it really wasn't all that much hassle...I'd deal with it again if this winds up tasting as good as it looks :)  The original recipe for these stuffed shells can be found at Better Homes and Gardens.  Here goes:

Cheese and Nut Stuffed Shells
6 servings - 549 calories each

24 dry jumbo pasta shells (make a few extra, in case some tear when you're cooking them)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 - 15oz. tub ricotta
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
1 c. shredded parmesan
1 c. walnuts
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
Seasonings, to taste
1 - 26 oz. jar pasta sauce (I used a Vodka sauce...yum!)

Cook shells according to package directions.  When shells are done, drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, ricotta, 1 c. mozzarella, 3/4 c. parmesan, walnuts, and seasonings.  In the bottom of a 9x13" pan, pour about 1 c. of the pasta sauce.  Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of filling, and then place in pan.  Pour remaining sauce over shells, and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovering for the last 5-10 minutes.  This looks soooo good...can't wait to actually have some.  I'll make sure to let you know how it turns out when I do the recipe update in a couple weeks!

Spicy Tuscan Soup...

Okay, I love Olive Garden.  Reasonably priced Italian with portions big enough to save for another meal when you get home and breadsticks to die for.  (If you can do bread right, you pretty much have my vote  Anyway, when I was scrolling through Pinterest, I saw this soup that looks suspiciously like Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, that I adore (unlimited soup, salad & breadsticks anyone??).  So, I decided I must make it.  The original recipe can be found at Tasty Kitchen if you wanted to check it out.  It was pretty easy to make, and should reheat pretty well, since there wasn't much cream in it.  The recipe is as follows:

Spicy Tuscan Soup
6 servings - 522 calories each

1 lb. breakfast sausage
1 med. red onion, chopped
2 slices bacon, diced (I just used bacon bits...yep...lazy)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 russett potatoes, cut in half lenghwise and then in 1/4" slices
4 c. water
3 cubes chicken bouillon
1/4 bunch kale, roughly chopped (I wound up getting a box of baby kale, because I couldn't find the regular anywhere)
1/2 c. heavy cream
Seasonings, to taste

Brown sausage in pot over medium high until done.  Drain and set aside.  Add onion, bacon, and garlic to pot and cook until onions are tender.  Add water, potatoes and bouillon cubes.  Simmer 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are nearly done.  Add kale, cream, and the sausage you set aside earlier.  Simmer another 5-10 minutes until potatoes are done and everything is heated through.  And that's it...easy peasy, right?  Looks like Olive Garden!  I'll let you know the final result with the recipe update in a week or two :)

No Peek Beef Tips...

Finally!  New meals again!  Things in Des Moines are finally settling in...I've got some semblance of a routine, I'm figuring out where things are, I'm getting my budget locked in...we're gettin' there.  So I've finally had some time to devote to Pinterest again to find some new recipes!  Woot!  First up, No Peek Beef Tips (the original recipe is at Mommy's Kitchen ).  So the big added bonus of this recipe was that it literally took 5 minutes to throw everything together and get it in the oven.  I'm pretty sure it took longer to preheat the oven than it did to put it together.  And it would've taken even less time than that if I hadn't decided to add half an onion that needed to be chopped up.  PLUS, it easily made an extra serving more than I anticipated, and probably could've been split up to get a total of 10 servings if you wanted to add a crescent roll or something.  Here's the details:

No Peek Beef Tips
9 servings - 408 calories each

2 lbs. stew meat
1 packet dry brown gravy mix (I used low sodium)
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 - 4oz. can of mushrooms, drained
1 c. ginger ale
1/2 onion, chopped
Seasonings, to taste
1 lb. pasta (I used Farfalle)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Put meat in a 9x13 inch pan.  In a separate bowl, stir together gravy mix, onion soup mix, mushroom soup, and ginger ale.  Put chopped onion and mushrooms on top of meat.  Add soup mixture and seasonings.  Stir until meat is coated.  Cover with foil, and bake 3 hours (do not open foil during cooking!).  When beef tips are done, cook pasta per package instructions.  Serve tips on top of pasta (or mixed in, if you're going to be freezing and makes reheating a little more predictable).  I'll be doing a recipe update with how everything turned out this month in a couple of weeks.  That's all for this one!

Friday, February 8, 2013

February Menu Plan...

Alright's time for cooking again!  Theoretically, I'm grocery shopping after work tomorrow (ummm...tonight at this point, I guess), and then cooking on Saturday when I'm off.  We'll see if all that really happens, but as of right now, that's what I'm aiming for.  The menu plan is as follows, and I linked the ones I've already made.  Calories (for the ones that didn't have them on the original) are calculated on  Here we go:

Spicy Tuscan Soup - 6 servings - 522 calories each
Cheese & Walnut Stuffed Shells - 6 servings - 549 calories each
No Peek Beef Tips with Fettucini - 8 servings - 459 calories
Confetti Mac & Cheese - 6 servings - 408 calories
Sausage Rolls (6 servings - 334 cal.) with Cauliflower Pancakes (8 servings - 123 cal.) = 457 calories

BONUS - Making new breakfast items this month :)

Oatmeal Banana Muffins - 6 servings (2 muffins each serving) - 314 calories
Devils Food Pumpkin Muffins - 6 servings (2 muffins each serving) - 354 calories

And that's all for coming after the weekend, hopefully :)