Cherish Yesterday...Dream Tomorrow...Live Today

Monday, December 12, 2011

Neck Pillows and Tasty Toasted Cheese

Good morning and happy Monday!  I am scrambling to get finished with handmade gifts, finishing touches, holiday baking and scheduling my last couple of get togethers to exchange gifts.  Also, I have to send a gift to California this year now that a dear friend has moved so I have to get that in the mail(note to self!).  This is such a wonderful time of year but it is easy to feel a little hectic. 

I have pictured above the two neck pillows I made for my co-workers.  I love mine so much, I thought they would make awesome and practical gifts.  I was able to make these with 2 fat quarters a piece and some matching ribbon and fiberfill.  So far I have made four of them, all with quilter's cotton.  I wonder if they would be better with home decorator weight fabric.  I will have to make one and see.  At any rate, they make reading in bed or watching tv on the couch so much more comfortable.  The girls loved them.

  I also had to share a new take on a classic.  I was watching tv and saw a show that featured toasted pimento cheese sandwiches.  I had to try them so I headed to the grocery store, trying to remember what was in them.  I am only able to tell you what I used.  You can play with amounts because I did not follow an exact recipe.  I used shredded pepper jack cheese, shredded mild cheddar, a jar of chopped pimento with the juice, a dash of Green Tabasco, a dash of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and mayo.  I mixed it together and toasted it between sliced bakery Italian bread.  It was awesome.  I served it with tomato soup.  I love how gooey it got and it had a little kick.   You could always substitute plain jack cheese for the pepper jack to tone it down slightly.  It is a keeper for sure.  This would be perfect for a Christmas brunch.  It really takes grilled cheese and makes it ready for prime time!

I hope everyone has a great week.  Today my grade level is throwing a "frost and decorate your own Christmas cookie" party.  I hope my co-workers enjoy themselves and remember the days when that was an important part of Christmas.  It signalled the beginning of the holiday for me when I was a kid.  Take care.  Nancy

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gift Swap and a Crazy Good Pizza

Happy Sunday everyone and can you believe how fast this month of December snuck up on us?!  I can't wait to share my gift swap goodies with you.  I joined up with the Craftaholics Anonymous gift exchange party again this year and really enjoyed it.  I met a great partner named Kim and we chatted back and forth by way of emails and exchanged hand made gifts made with each other specifically in mind.  Pictured above is what I made her.  Green is her favorite color so I made her a scalloped bag in many fun patterns in green.  I also threw in a wooden snowman pin I painted and crafted and two chenille characters, a Santa and a gingerbread man.

In return, I received a beautiful tote bag, made with amazing attention to detail.  She even included my cat in it!  She put so much thought into it.  She said she thought I could use it to take things back and forth to school.  That is a perfect idea!  I love that she has some hidden pockets in it and the handles are bow ties. 
Mickey couldn't wait to see her likeness on the bag!  She had to get in the picture.  Thanks Kim, I love it. 

To finish up tonight, I want to share an amazingly yummy and crazy easy pizza.  It is a Reuben pizza.  Just take a Boboli or Freschetta pizza crust and top it with a small amount of Thousand Island Dressing.  Top with a can of sauerkraut drained and rinsed.  Pile on deli corned beef cut in strips.  Top with shredded swiss cheese.  Bake as the crust package instructs you to and-ta dah-that's it!  I served it with more TI dressing and we all loved it.  It couldn't have been easier(or tastier).

I hope everyone has a wonderful week.  Take time to smell the roses because this month can overtake you and before you know it, you're burnt out before Christmas.  Take care of yourselves and happy crafting.  Nancy 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Let the Gift-Making Begin!

Hi everyone.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I don't know about you, but I have been busy getting a jump start on my homemade gifts.I love making something that I have thought out with a special person in mind.  I finished and mailed out my gift to my Craftaholics Anonymous gift swap partner.  I can't wait until she gets it.  It was alot of fun getting to know her a little and coming up with some things I hope she likes. 

This is the first of the gifts I want to share with you.  It is my second sprocket pillow that I have made.  I like the colors in this one.  It is a gift for my sister Suzie.  I hope she likes it.  I was really happy with how it turned out.  I liked the fabric so much together, I made a scalloped tote bag that I have seen all over blogland with the same combination of fabric. 
  I got the instructions at See Kate Sew and the directions were easy to follow and I am thrilled with the results.  These are addictive.  You can't make just one!  This bag is for my friend who moved to California.  I hope she will like it.  She makes beautiful tote bags so I will have to send her the web address so she can make some of these. 

  I wanted to end this post with something sweet so here is a slice of chocolate fudge pie that I got from Flour Me With Love.  I had an extra pie crust and this was an easy and delicious way to use it.  Try it and you will be happy you did.  It is like fudge and brownies together in a pie!  Yum-definitely a hit with the family. 

Did you guys notice I have over 100 followers?(101 to be exact!)  I think that definitely calls for a giveaway.  Be on the lookout for that soon.  I have to come up with some great prizes.  Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and leaves comments.  It means alot to me.
I hope you all are having a pleasant start to your Christmas season.  Hubs and my youngest got our outdoor decorations put up this weekend and we will work on the inside ones next weekend.  Take care and happy crafting.  Nancy

Monday, November 21, 2011

Beadboard Gobblers and Slow Cooker Dinner

Good Monday morning to everyone.  I wanted to share my fun bead board turkeys I made for Thanksgiving decorations this year.  These guys were fun and easy to make.  What's really nice is my husband was able to cut them out from scraps he had in his wood shop.  I got the idea from Leslie's Latest Creations.  She didn't give patterns, but they were pretty free form and easy to come up with.  I love the rich colors of Fall and have enjoyed decorating my home with them. 

I am starting to get really busy making all my Christmas gifts that I planned out.  I joined a gift swap on Craftaholics Anonymous and have really enjoyed getting to know my partner.  She seems really sweet and I have had a blast coming up with some handmade gifts for her.  I am almost done and will have them in the mail this week.  After she receives them, I will share them with you.  I was in my craft room Saturday night and all day yesterday and accomplished alot.  I may have a hard time parting with what I made!  After Christmas, I will have to make myself some of these things!

 Now that the weather is getting cooler, I am using my slow cooker more and more.  I made an easy delicious Swiss Steak in my crock pot and I want to share the recipe with you.  Put 2 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast or steak cut into chunks in your slow cooker.  Add 1/4 cup of steak sauce(I used our grocery store's own brand of A1).  Top with 1 sliced onion and 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes-undrained.  Cover and cook 9-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.  Thicken before serving with a flour/water slurry.  It was easy peasy and so good served over mashed potatoes.  The beef I used was inexpensive and usually tough but it was so tender in this dish.  Also, the steak sauce gave it a unique tangy flavor.  I will definitely be having this again. 

I hope everyone has a family-filled Thanksgiving with lots of turkey and the trimmings!  Take care.   Nancy

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall Leaves and Yummy Food

Good evening everyone and I hope you all had a great weekend.  I had a pretty good three day weekend.  I got to do alot of crafting.  Sometimes I think if I had it my way, I wouldn't come out of my craft room!  At work, in the teacher's lounge, someone put a big turkey up and suggested we all fill out colored paper feathers with what we are thankful for.  People put multiple things on their feathers.  I put my husband and sons, my health, my craft room which brings me sanity and my cat Mickey.  You knew Mickey would be in there didn't you? 

Did you notice my leaf garland in the above picture strung along my mantle?  I think I am becoming garland obsessed!  I am thinking about what holiday comes next and what bunting/garland I will come up with.  I just bought some fall colored felt and found some leaf patterns online.  I cut quite a few out and tried to decide what looked good to me as I placed them along the brown double fold bias tape on my ironing board.  I decided to glue the smaller leaves onto the long leaves and hang them in twos.  I sewed them in place and voila, there you have it.  I really like how it turned out.  The colors are very fall-like and I like that it is different.  I am enjoying fall crafting.

On the food front, I have been in the kitchen.  Every year at this time, I get back into cooking and baking heartier dinners and desserts that are a little more substantial than the Summer fare.  I made this fantastic beer cheese bread with my bread maker.  That thing is really winning my respect!  I have really thrown some different ingredients in it, and it has been coming through with tasty bread for me.  I followed this recipe.  I used a shredded cheese blend and melted some with the beer and tossed the rest with the bread flour.  I am not a beer drinker and I am happy to report, the beer taste is not distinguishable.  It was very good.  I will be toasting some tomorrow.                                              

This, my friends, is an amazing frosted pumpkin blondie.  I got the recipe from The Stirring Place.  These are beyond good.  The only change I made in the recipe was to replace the 1 cup of oil with 1 cup of unsweetened plain applesauce.  They were still very moist but much healthier.  I love pumpkin recipes this time of the year and I am such a sucker for any dessert with cream cheese icing!  The family gobbled these up so this recipe is definitely a keeper.                                                      

Thank you Terry, for your recommendation of the Cricut.  I discovered that they are doing a demonstration of Cricuts at JoAnn Fabrics on the 26th.  I can't wait to see one in action! 

I hope everyone has a great week.  My anniversary is Friday-22 years.  Hubs and I will be doing something special.  I just don't know what but we both took the day off!  Take care.  Nancy            



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Turkey Pumpkin and Some Belly Warmin' Chili

Happy Sunday everyone.  The weather here in Upstate NY is chilly but sunny.  I kind of like that Fall weather.  It starts to gently nudge us indoors for movies on a Sunday afternoon, cooking heartier meals, baking yummy desserts, and of course, crafting!  I wanted to share this easy and very Thanksgiving project.  We usually purchase a bunch of pumpkins in October to decorate with.  They replace my potted flowers that edge my front steps to my porch.  We usually make sure we have an extra one to turn into a turkey come November.  My husband just came up with a basic feather shape and cut six of them out of wood.  He drilled a hole in the bottom of them so he could glue in a dowel he had sharpened on one end like a pencil to stick into a pumpkin.  They are pretty secure too!  I painted them very simply, each a different color and the head brown.  I painted eyes and he cut out a beak/waddle piece I sketched for him.  I painted that as you see in the picture.  I glued that on and coated all my painted pieces with outdoor poly so it could withstand the cold and rain of November(sometimes snow!).  Now we use them every year.  I know I have seen inserts for pumpkins in catalogs but I think it has so much more character when you make it yourself. 

Speaking of heartier meals, I made some creamy chicken chili this past week.  It had some kick to it but I believe that is something you could adjust to suit your family's tastes.  I start with a good-size package of chicken tenderloins.  I chop them into bite-sized pieces.  I saute the chicken with a chopped onion and a teaspoon or so of garlic powder in a small amount of canola oil.  When the chicken is cooked, add two 15 1/2 oz. cans of rinsed and drained great northern white beans.  Also add one can of chicken broth and one can of chopped green chilies(the 4 oz. can).  Then add one teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.  Simmer, uncovered, for half an hour.  Take off the heat and add one cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup whipping cream.  Serve with shredded cheese.  Normally I put sour cream on my chili but I felt that would be overkill with the sour cream already in the recipe but you do what you want-it's your chili!  I think I have mentioned that I am not a big fan of hamburger.  I fix it for my family because they all love meat loaf and meat balls, but this chili was something that I could enjoy too. 

    I just had to include a picture of my son in the Sasquatch costume he wore to school for Halloween.  He said it was a hit with everyone.  Now that you have seen it, can you picture it causing a stir in the hospital parking lot where my older son works? 

I have a favor to ask you.  My husband is asking for ideas for a gift for me for Christmas.  I am thinking about the Silhouette machine or the Cricut.  I think there may even be another one out there.  I love crafting and I do alot of wood crafts and I LOVE the vinyl lettering for signs.  I also sew alot and I love the shapes cut out so neatly and uniformly(is that a word?).  Please drop me a line and let me know if you think one is more user-friendly or versatile than the other.  I don't want to just get another piece of equipment that will collect dust.

I hope everyone has a great week and is enjoying the beautiful fall colors wherever you are.  Take care.        Nancy

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Last Peek at Halloween

Hi everyone.  Tomorrow is Halloween.  I wanted to show you a little something I made today as well as show you a few of my other decorations.  My younger son is a senior in high school this year and he is excited to be able to dress up in a costume in school for the first time since sixth grade.  The high school only lets seniors dress up as a perk. He is borrowing his older brother's Sasquatch costume.  I won't even tell you the mischief my twenty year old has gotten into with that crazy costume.  Let's just say, he didn't realize some elderly patient would be looking out the window into the parking lot of the hospital he has worked at for almost 4 years!  Anyway, on to what I made today.  My nephew's two children will be coming for trick or treats tomorrow evening.  I got them each a Halloween book and some candy.  I wanted to put them in something special so I made two fabric goodie bags.  Riley's bag is made with what is left of a pack of the Haunted Mansion by Moda.  I put her initial on it and used eyelets to close it.  This was my first dealing with eyelets and even though I hammered with all my might, they didn't come out perfect.  I had an old starter kit but I have seen the pliers.  Are they easier?

 Isn't that pumpkin guy riding a bike a riot?  I got him last year on clearance at Cracker Barrel.  My husband thinks he is creepy because he reminds him of that Saw movie. 

Tuckers bag has a black candy corn cat fused on it and is tied with ribbon.  He is a little over one year old and I didn't want to put anything on his that could be dangerous.  I made that Frankenstein wooden pedestal.  My husband cut him out of wood and I painted him.  Sometimes I put a big bowl of candy on top but I like to elevate that pumpkin light that he is holding up this year.  It is in my front hall and the light is too small without the boost from Frankie.

Well I hope everyone has a safe and festive Halloween.  I am very anxious to begin working on Thanksgiving projects.  It isn't quite as easy to find good project ideas for Thanksgiving, but I am on the hunt and a few have crossed my path.  Have a wonderful week and take care.   Nancy    

Sunday, October 23, 2011

All About Halloween

 Hi everyone.  Happy Sunday evening.  I am finally getting my Halloween spirit flowing-better late than never.  Do you remember the bunting I made last week with the Moda Haunted Mansion pack?  I had two packs of fabric left so I decided to make a pillow for my front bench.  I just sewed them two by two and then joined them into strips and sewed the strips together until it fit a travel pillow form I had.  I also used pom pom fringe in Halloween colors.  I still have one pack of fabric left.  I am thinking what to do with it.  It may have to wait until next year.  The candy corn pillow couldn't have been easier.  I just sewed white, orange and yellow strips of felt together and cut out two candy corn shapes.  I used black embroidery floss to blanket stitch around the outside and stuffed with fiberfill.  The backdrop are three Halloween tea towels I purchased at TJ Maxx.  I use them as a faux throw over the back of my bench.  I haven't sewn them together yet because I am not quite sure that is what I want them for.  But, for now I think they look cute.

    I also wanted to show you place mats I made several years ago.  These are from a Simplicity pattern.  It is number 8474 which has a bunch of different place mats.  I can't tell you how many of these I have made over the years in different holiday and everyday prints.  They are easy and turn out great every time.  I have given quite a few sets as gifts.  The creepy ghost I made in a ceramics class 25 years ago. My boys were a little spooked by him when they were younger but that is the whole point of Halloween right?  They still looked forward to seeing him every year on our table because he signalled the beginning of the Halloween season and they looked forward to the costume I would make them every year and trick or treating.

 I also wanted to share a decoration I purchased this year.
 Isn't he cute?  His head is chenille and he had a real branch stem.  I am trying to figure out how to make a companion similar to him.  He has dowel arms and legs and a burlap "feed sack" body.  It may not be this year, but I think I can make him a friend. 

Well, I hope everyone has a great week and I hope you are all able to fit in some time to create something in whatever way makes you happy.  Take care.     Nancy

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Halloween Decorating Slowly But Surely

Happy Sunday everyone!  I am slowly getting around to decorating for Halloween.  I am not feeling as recovered as I would like so it is slowing the crafting/decorating process a little.  From talking to others with this crazy virus, I have a long road still ahead of me with the cough being the last symptom to go.  As I mentioned before, my 17 year-old is also hit with this.  He went to the movies the other night and coughed all the way through it. 

Anyway, I finished my Halloween banner and hung it on my mantle.  I kind of winged it, using a big thimble wall-hanging on my craft room wall as a template.  I didn't want the traditional triangle. I have made a couple of those.  I used the Haunted Mansion pack by Moda I received for Christmas from my husband.  Actually, I received three and I have two left. 
Maybe I will make a pillow.   I love the different patterns and colors in this pack. 

  I also wanted to share an unbelievable recipe.  Is it dessert or is it breakfast/brunch?  You decide. 
This is cherry-cheese French toast.  You have to put it together the night before and let it sit in the fridge so allow time for that.  Spray a 12x8 casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Lay French toast bread slices in the bottom of the casserole.  I used 6 slices.  You could use Challah or Brioche.  Whisk 4 eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and a pinch of salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat 12 oz. softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract on medium speed.  Pour half of milk mixture over bread.  Gently spread cream cheese mixture over that.  Spread a 21 oz can of cherry pie filling over that.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sliced almonds.  Top with remaining 6 slices of bread.  Pour remaining milk mixture over top layer of bread.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but it is preferred that it be overnight.  To bake, sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons sugar and some almonds if you want and bake at 325 uncovered for 45 minutes.  Let stand about 15 minutes before serving.  I sprinkled it with confectioners sugar.  It was a-may-zing!  I may have this for Christmas morning although, I would hate to bump my traditional monkey bread down the bench. 

We are having blustery Fall weather here in the Northeast.  It has been really windy and rainy.  The colors are beautiful, however and I do love this time of year.  Have a great week and take care.       Nancy

Monday, October 10, 2011

More Halloween

Hello everyone.  I had a slight relapse of my sickness.  I think this is viral so it won't respond to antibiotics.  My youngest son seems to have it as well but his doctor detected the beginning of an ear infection so he is on an antibiotic and feeling no better than me!  When I was a kid, I didn't get to trick or treat very many times because I was frequently sick most of the month of October.  I think that is why I love Halloween so much. 

I haven't felt up to crafting up a storm as I intended and I don't have all my Halloween decorations up, but I wanted to share this wreath that I made.  I got the instructions from the Better Homes and Gardens Halloween book.  I try to pick up their holiday themed magazines every season.  They have great ideas and patterns for decorations.  This wreath was relatively easy.  It starts out obviously with a grapevine wreath.  My husband cut mask templates out of plywood.  I painted them bright colors and finished them with a clear spray coat that had glitter in it.  I love the dimension of the blue and purple masks. The nose parts had to be glued at an angle.  Then I wired them to the wreath.  I even found colored fine gage wire for many of the colors I used.  I thought it was fun and different. 

I also wanted to share this picture of my favorite purchased decoration.  I picked this up at a gift shop recently.  I just love it.  Every time I walk by it, it makes me smile.  I love the primitive vintage decorations.  You should have seen Mickey when I brought this home and set it on the mantle.  She had to check it out.  It is almost as big as her, but she didn't let it intimidate her.  I almost got a picture of her sniffing it, but she was too fast for me when I got the camera out.  I think she is on to me!  I did however, get a picture of her bottom half when she lost one of her toys under the couch.

She didn't see me coming with the camera in hand! 
I hope everyone has a great week.  Take care.                                                  Nancy

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Halloween Trio and a Gourmet Pizza

Happy Sunday everyone.  It is my birthday today and I have to say,  I am going to be heading out of the "forty-something" status in a few years!  I can't believe how fast the time goes each year.  I remember when I was eighteen and I thought my age now was old.  Ah well,  age is only a number(right?). 

I am very excited because I made my first Halloween project of the season and I am very happy with them.  I say "them" because I made a trio of Halloween characters.  I first saw them here.  I fell in love with the idea so I bought some bumpy chenille stems and added them to my mental to-do list.  What can I say, but-they are addictive! I had a wedding to go to yesterday and I had a hard time putting them down.  One idea leads to another and the accessories are just so much fun.  I just looked around my craft room and went from there.  I am especially proud of the spider Punkinhead is carrying.  I made that with some small pom poms I had and some black wire.  I have more ideas to make even more characters.  The hardest part was finding suitably sized heads for the chenille stem bodies.  I searched vintage Halloween images on line and found the ones I used but I believe the website I linked to above gives you a couple to print out and use.  I also want to be on the lookout for Halloween postcards and greeting cards for more heads of interest.  And of course, I am already thinking about Christmas possibilities.  These would be so cute hanging on a Halloween tree.  I will bet kids would enjoy making these as well.  

I wanted to share with you a very unique but delicious pizza I have been making quite often lately.  I got the idea from a local pizzeria that serves this.  I tried to come up with a good rendition of it and I think I succeeded.  We'll call it Italian Chicken Pizza.  First you start with a Boboli(I think I should get royalties from that brand!), then you brush the crust with a garlic infused olive oil.  I make my own by heating a couple of cracked garlic cloves in some olive oil on the stove.   In this case, I go ahead and add to that olive oil and garlic a sliced bunch of cremeni mushrooms or one large Portabella.  I cook the mushrooms on moderate heat until browned.  I fish out the garlic and brush some of the garlic olive oil on the crust.  I sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top of the oil and then layer the mushrooms, sliced roasted red peppers from a jar, Gorgonzola chunks, and shredded cooked chicken breast meat(usually from a rotisserie chicken).  I bake according to the crust directions. 
After it comes out of the oven, I drizzle with a balsamic glaze.  There are two ways to go with this.  First, make it yourself.  Take a good quality balsamic vinegar and cook it down to reduce it by half and it becomes thick and syrupy.  This takes a bit of time and my guys were so turned off by the smell it gave the house, I had a really hard time convincing them how good the pizza is.  I LOVE balsamic glaze, and I have to admit, the smell was nasty.  The second way(and my way from now on) is to just buy balsamic glaze.  Just be sure it says "glaze",  It is yummy with no muss or fuss and no smell!  There you have it-a delicious and different pizza that isn't difficult but definitely has a gourmet flair to it. 

You know what a cat nut I am.  I found this cat chalkboard at a gift shop on a road trip recently and thought it was too expensive.  So, I walked away and didn't buy it.  Am I the only one that has "I didn't buy it" remorse?  I regretted the decision not to buy it and luckily found it on Amazon.  I ended up paying the same price I thought was too expensive.  Hopefully I learned my lesson.  I am not suggesting that I can afford to grab everything I see that I like, but since I quit smoking twelve years ago, I have managed to be able to save decent amounts of my own money, let's call it my allowance.  So, if I see something I really love, I should just buy it with my own mad money.  Just so you know, I put that theory into play last weekend and came home with a Halloween decoration that makes me smile every time I walk by it.  I will show you next time. 

Well, my husband is taking me out for dinner and he has made a fabulous dessert for me-what a talented guy!  I hope you all have a great week.  Take care.     Nancy    


Monday, September 26, 2011

What a Week!

What a week it was!  I had the flu worse than I have had in years.  I came down with it Tuesday night and it was like a lost week.  My fever was so high at one point, I think I lost about a day and a half!  My husband's birthday was Friday and we didn't get to go away like we planned but we were able to make the trip Sunday.  I am on an antibiotic for an Upper Respiratory infection and I am feeling better every day. 

I took the opportunity to do some sit-down hand stitching on some scrap coasters for my craft room.  I got the idea from that cool felt craft book I got the fox pin out of.  They turned out cute and I had everything I needed to make them.  I used cd's for the shape.  I like a big coaster so that worked out well.  I used scraps from my sewing apron I made.  I love that fabric with the sewing machines, dress forms and most importantly-cats!  How appropriate for a craft room.  I used all blue felt but I like the example in the book where they used different colors. 

I was feeling up to having pizza night Saturday.  I made two kinds.  One was just a very simple Sloppy Joe pizza with ground beef browned with a can of Manwich sauce added.  Put that mixture on a Boboli crust and top with cheese.  Bake according to the crust directions.  It was a big hit with the boys.  The slice on the right was a garlic mashed potato pizza I saw on Joyful Homemaking.  I used caramelized Vidalia onions instead of red ones and I used a pizza blend shredded cheese but it was yummy.  It reminded me of pierogies.  Very different and very delicious.

I also wanted to show you a fantastic warm drink now that we are heading into Fall.  It is a hot malted milk and I got  the recipe from Claire Robinson's show on Food Network.  You just warm 4 cups of milk with a split and scraped vanilla bean.  Add 2/3 cup plain malt powder and 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Stir until there are no lumps.  Pull out the vanilla bean and serve.  I love all those flecks of vanilla flavor.  What I like about this is that you can put the leftover drink in the fridge and warm it in the microwave as you would like it.  It hit the spot. 

I bought the cutest Halloween decoration I have ever seen when my husband and I were away yesterday.  I will take a picture and show you next week.  Normally, I do all my Halloween decorating the first of October but there is a big family wedding next Saturday and my birthday is Sunday, so I am hoping I can at least start it.  I have 2 cute Halloween projects I am working on now and I want to finish them. 

Dancing With The Stars has started up again for a new season and you know how obsessed I become with that!  It is too soon to pick a favorite, but I will be watching tonight.  Have a wonderful week and take care.  Nancy  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chair Rehab and Artichoke Recipe

Happy Sunday everyone!  The weather here in Northern NY is sunny and slightly cool.  I have been bookmarking all the wonderful Fall/Halloween ideas I am seeing on all of the blogs I follow.  You guys are sooo talented.  I am in awe!

I am sure you are wondering what that picture is doing at the top of this post.  This chair was a hand-me-down a couple of times once removed(if you get my drift).  I had no intention of letting it in my house, let alone my sanctuary(craft room).  Well, my husband purchased  a computer for me just for my craft room so I could blog a little easier.  I so appreciated that grand gesture from him, but I had to admit, my beautiful wing back chair that I had been using at my sewing machine, wasn't cutting it as a mobile chair to slide between my sewing machine and the computer.  My husband offered to buy me a new office chair on wheels.  I thought of the above chair and felt that, while enough money had been spent on the computer, I should be able to do something with that chair.  I purchased some heavy duty denim and a can of that awesome Krylon Fusion spray paint in blue.  The frame of the chair was metal, but the bottom was heavy duty plastic.  The paint can said it adhered to both.  I am very happy with the results. 
I now have my comfy wing back chair over by my closet so I can knit or do hand sewing and watch the little flat screen tv that is on the wall.  Sometimes when I am working on something, my boys or my husband come in and sit in the wing back and chat with me while I am in there.  That is nice.  I couldn't really have visitors before.  Also Mickey comes in and curls up and keeps me company.   Now can you see why it is my sanctuary? 

I want to share a great Bisquick recipe with you.  These Artichoke Squares are wonderful as a hearty snack or as dinner with a bowl of soup.  Here is the list of ingredients and the recipe:                       
heat oven to 375 degrees, spray 15x10 pan with non-stick spray
In a large bowl, stir together to form a dough:
3 cups Bisquick, 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, 2/3 cup water, 2 Tablespoons canola oil.
Beat 20 strokes and let stand 10 minutes.  Press dough in pan and up sides.  Bake 9-11 minutes. 
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups mayo, 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, 1 jar(7 oz) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped, 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and 2 teaspoons garlic powder.  Stir in 2-14 oz. cans artichoke hearts drained and chopped.  Spread it over the partially baked crust.  Pop back in the oven 15 minutes.  Set the oven to broil and broil with the pan 6 inches away from the top element until golden brown.  Cut into squares and serve.  They are so good. 

I also wanted to let you know I tried a brioche recipe for my bread machine and it was perfection!  I can never find Brioche locally when I need it for a bread pudding or French toast recipe.  Well now I can make my own.  If you are interested in the recipe, you can get it here.  It turned out so buttery and rich, it was awesome.  The crust was crepey just like the bakery Brioche I have had in the past.  The butter content is not for the weak of heart though, but this is not an everyday "bread with dinner" recipe. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.  Hubs is celebrating his birthday this week.  He wants to visit a casino/resort nearby.  I look forward to the beautiful colors of fall in the landscape as we drive there.  I hope everyone can find the time for some creativity this week.  I have several projects in the hopper.  Take care.                         Nancy 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bacon Makes Everything Better

Hi everyone.  I wanted to jump right in today with an awesome bacon recipe.  This lusciousness pictured above is called bacon biscuit cups.  All you need to make these beauties: 6 oz. softened cream cheese, 1 lg. egg, 2 Tablespoon milk, 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese, 1 chopped green onion, a 10 oz. tube refrigerated biscuits, and 8 cooked bacon slices-chopped.  Preheat your oven to 375.  Beat the cream cheese and egg.  Add the milk and beat until smooth.  Stir in the Swiss and the green onion.  Meanwhile, grease a 12 section muffin tin.  Flatten each of the 10 biscuits with your fingers and put one in each muffin tin, pressing them in the bottom and up the sides as much as you can.  Divide up the chopped bacon evenly among the 10 cups.  Spoon the cream cheese filling over the bacon.  Bake for 22 minutes.  If you wish(and I did), sprinkle more chopped green onions on top and slightly press them into the tops of the cups.  Serve and enjoy!  They are amazing. 

I also had to show you this adorable pin I made to add to my sister's birthday gift.  She and I are true animal lovers and ever since we were children, we have been drawn to whimsical animals as toys and books-you name it.  This picture doesn't do it justice but it turned out really cute. 
I bought this awesome new felt book and there are a million great ideas in there(well maybe not a million, but alot!).  I am going to work on some coasters for my craft room today that are in this book.  Also, there is a cute sewing machine cover that I may make for my serger.  You should check this book out if you get a chance.

I have been on a Krylon kick lately.  I bought that Fusion paint for my plastic Adirondack chair and foot stool.  Now, I felt it was time to try the chalkboard spray paint.  I don't know what took me so long!  I am one of those people who likes to leave reminders and notes all over the place for me and my family.  I had a dry-erase board in my craft room.  I don't know if it was ever pictured in the background on this blog, but it was not working very well.  I purchased it very inexpensively at Walmart.  It was for a high school kid's locker and it was a dark royal blue.  I thought it would look nice in my blue craft room.  The black dry erase marker didn't show up at all on it.  It was already screwed to the wall and I wasn't sure how to fix it. 

Well, with just a gentle sandpapering for tooth, it was sprayed with the chalkboard paint.  Now it is functional.  I love that it also retained the magnetic quality it had as a dry-erase board.  Now, just like the fusion paint, I am searching for something else to make into a chalkboard!  I do have a Halloween project in mind I saw on a very crafty blog-I will show you later. 

Our weather here in the Northeast is becoming a little more fall-like.  The evenings have been cooler which makes sleeping comfortable.  It was wonderful to have my husband remove all the window AC units.  I love having the windows open.  The house just feels fresher, not so stale. 

My thoughts today are going back 10 years, as I am sure many of you are doing the same.  I have no words that could adequately express my sorrow for those who lost a loved one that day.  I guess I can only continue to hope we see no more such horrific acts.   Take care.    Nancy   

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back To School

I hope everyone is doing well on this muggy, humid Sunday.  It is officially back to school Tuesday for me after a couple of staff development days last week.  I had to show my most recent shoe purchase.  While I was ordering my younger son's back to school sneakers, it seemed a shame not to take advantage of the buy one get one half off deal at Famous Footwear.  So, I just happened to find these adorable Aerosole grey suede booties.  You know how I am with my shoes!  I have an upcoming family wedding that I plan to wear a fringed slim grey plaid skirt and I can picture these shoes with the outfit. 

I am particularly happy with a recent project.  I love it when I make something that turns out to be really useful.  I found the instructions for these neck pillows here.  At first I thought they looked difficult.  You can't see it from my picture, but they are three-sided.  That slightly intimidated me.  But they are really easy.  I love how easy they are to position behind your neck with the ribbon handles at the side.  I have a herniated disc in my neck and these are awesome!  They make reading or watching tv in bed or on the couch so comfortable.  I also love that you can choose your fabric to personalize them as a gift.  Sew4Home is a great resource for cool ideas and the instructions make the projects doable.  Check them out. 

I am also quite excited about a recent purchase.  I bought this Food Network bread machine from Kohls of all places.  I got a good deal on it.  I have been wanting to buy a bread machine for some time.  When I was first married I had one and loved it, but I sold it.  I am thinking we needed the money.  That was over 20 years ago and bread machines had just come out and they were over $200.  We were a one income family and I probably got a chance to sell it and thought it was the right thing to do.  Anyhow,  I paid less than $100 for this and I am loving it!  It is staying in my possession!  I have been making bread like a mad woman.  There are so many places to get great bread machine recipes.  I remember with my first one, I kind of stuck to the recipe book that came with the machine.  Now I have found so many on line, including a brioche recipe I am dying to try.  I made a delicious honey wheat bread that was wonderful toasted.    
This recipe calls for 3/4 cup milk, 1/3 cup yogurt, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 pkg yeast.  I substituted sour cream for the yogurt and honey for the sugar.  It was fantastic.  Now I just have to do some rearranging in my kitchen, because I do not want it left out on my counter.  It is quite large.

I hope everyone has a great week ahead.  I am still excited about Halloween this year and I have collected many great ideas from all of you.  I have been hitting the blog link parties and more and more Fall and Halloween ideas are coming in.  Take care.                   Nancy