Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Italian Soup-UPDATE

Same recipe.  The only thing that is updated in the photo.  I've been learning a lot in my photography class.  I still stink, but at least I know why.

There's lots of versions of this soup out there.  Here's my version. 
1 lb. Italian sausage
1-2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 large potatoes-cubed
2 cans of chicken broth
1 cup milk (or cream)
2 cups chopped Kale

Brown Sausage.  Drain and add onions and garlic.  Add chicken broth and potatoes.  Cook until potatoes are tender.  Right before serving add Kale and milk and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Garnish with Bacon bits and Parmesan cheese.

It's quite a bit lighter than the original, and not quite as salty.  I've also learned that by instead of cooking the bacon in the soup and just by sprinkling a few bacon pieces on top, I get lots of bacon flavor, with out as many calories.
This is a great make-ahead meal.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Embarrassing Moment of the Week

After suffering through 2 dumb phones in the past few months, I finally gave in a bought a smart phone.  It is a handy little tool and a fun toy.

My husband is a smart phone veteran, and so I asked him to set up my e-mail accounts so I could view them on my phone. I have one for my blog/etsy store and another for personal use.  

In a fun and flirty way he nicknamed my personal account "Hot Mom". (love that man)

I am the team mom for one of my kid's teams and thought I'd try out my new toy and send out an e-mail to the team about upcoming pictures this weekend.  

So I sent out an e-mail to 9 virtual strangers (I'm a tad anti-social at practices and usually chose to read over small talk) with the subject line "Pictures" from "Hot Mom".

The horror!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

$1- Valentine's Wreath

I never liked my "Bella Swan Lives here Wreath", but it took me 2 years to get around to making another one. 

I just ripped off the paper pinwheels (they were looking a little weather worn) from my Mother's Day Wreath and just started making and hot gluing on a bunch of random scrappy bows and buttons. 

I painted the roof red and used this technique to age the wood

The only thing I bought new was the wooden birdhouse, so the entire project cost $1.  I toyed w/ the idea of adding red burlap birds, but they just didn't look right.

Somehow my front porch has ended up w/ a birds and the bees Valentine theme:) 

Monday, January 21, 2013

How to remove oil-based paint from carpets

Before I painted my craft room desk in my kitchen, I carefully laid down old shower curtains to prevent spills of the black oil-based paint.  After the paint dried, I had my daughter help me carry it upstairs.  Because it was heavy and awkward, we set it down in the living room and several times going up the stairs.  

We finally got it in place and I spent an hour or two rearranging my craft room.  I was so excited with how well everything looked.
When I went downstairs, I noticed huge black  dried paint marks on several of the stairs, and even a larger one in the middle of the living room. 
Apparently, the paint had leaked under the desk and while the top was completely dry, the shower curtain prevented the paint from drying underneath:(
My Aunt Peggy and her friend Sharon stopped by just as I was calculating the cost of new carpet.  The sell doTerra essential 
oils and thought they could get the paint out.  I was doubtful.

Sharon applied lemon and bergamot oils to the carpet and then blotted the carpet with a rag.  It worked!!!!!!

I don't have to re-carpet my house and my house even smelled amazing. 

If you're interested in essential oils and would like to learn more, you can contact Peggy w8tnomore@swbell.net.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

If Juliet was a widowed shop keeper from Pakistan and Romeo was a retired British officer this would be their story.  It is a story about belonging, traditions, good manners, prejudice, social mobility, growing old, loss, and of course, love. The story unfolds slowly and with an abundance of dry British humor.  Some girls at book club struggled at the beginning to get into it, but it completely charmed me.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“The world is full of small ignorances. We must all do our best to ignore them and thereby keep them small.”

“We are all small-minded people, creeping about the earth grubbing for our own advantage and making the very mistakes for which we want to humiliate our neighbors.”

“He had forgotten that grief does not decline in a straight line or along a slow curve like a graph in a child's math book. Instead, it was almost as if his body contained a big pile of garden rubbish full both of heavy lumps of dirt and of sharp thorny brush that would stab him when he least expected it.”

Major Pettigrew takes a few digs at Americans, my favorite: 
“From the nation that conquered the West wearing leather chaps and hats made from dead squirrel.”

What's the best book you've read lately?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

40 by 40 done!

40th birthday yellow orange and lime green 2 tier birthday cake

Even though I didn't complete all my goals, I consider this project 100% successful.  
I graduated from college over 16 years ago, haven't worked full time for over a decade, and I'd be pretty hard pressed to fill up a decent resume.  I am at the point in my life, where I don't really naturally achieve things.  For the most part, I am happy to sit on the sidelines cheering my husband and children on, as they accomplish many wonderful things. 
This was a great opportunity to get myself off the metaphorical bench and score some goals of my own. I published the list on my blog to hold myself accountable, but it had a wonderful side effect. Family, friends and even acquaintances were constantly asking what I was working on, or how many goals I had left. One of the funnest parts of this project was discovering that I had my own personal cheering squad. Who doesn't need that?

In case you missed it, here's what I did:

Just say no to frumpy and 40
1. No ponytails for 30 days (except for yard work/exercise) (Nov 29, 2012)
2. Wear lipstick every time I leave the house for 30 days (March 2012)
3.  Buy eyeshadow (done) and actually wear it (Jan 2012)
4. Get my hair professionally colored (May 1, 2012)

5. Be able to do 10 consecutive push-ups (I can do 0) This is clearly never going to happen.
6. Run an organized 10K race-(May 18, 2012)  I have had a hard time finding a race and a free weekend.  I did run with my husband in the Beach To Bay Relay Marathon.  It was only 4.2 miles, but it motivated me to start running again.  I have been running a few times a week since. I hope to run a marathon in the fall.
7. Complete 12 weeks of Body for Life (started Jan 2, 2012)-failed
8. No sugar for 30 days (September 12, 2012)
9. Eat vegetarian for 30 days (June 30, 2012) (kids hated this one)

10. Create a functional and fabulous craft room more or less complete
11. Create a functional and fabulous laundry room (Jan 26, 2012).
12.  Build something (by myself) out of wood-sort of did it. My dad help me build several things out of wood over the past year.  I needed some wood cut for some various Christmas projects and I did the cutting all by myself.
Bee Mine

13. Create a mommy-command station (Sept 17, 2012)
14. Decorate Master bathroom (I wanted to put glass tiles on the outside of my tub, but I couldn't figure out a way that I was sure was going to work.  I haven't come up with another idea that I am excited about)
15. Decorate half bath (16 May 2012)
16. Paint stairs (Nov 17, 2012)  Not really blog worthy, but I covered up all the finger prints)
17. Eat something I grew myself  (3 May 2012)

18. Install kitchen hardware (31 Jan, 2012)
19. Learn how to hang shelves (Jan 3, 2012)
 click here for tutorial

Because I never have before:
20. Take a hot-air balloon ride (I forgot that I am afraid of heights and so I don't think I'm doing this one)
21. Bake a souffle (Nov 30, 2012) recipe here
22.  Make a 4 course gourmet meal (Dec 2, 2012)
23. Write a fan letter (never really did this-I did e-mail Taco Cabana telling them how much I appreciate their 20% military discount  and how much I love their street tacos, but they are so much better w/ the corn salsa and they should bring that back)
24. Read the Lord of the Rings trilogy(I read the first one and it decided that I am going to skip the next 2-just not my type of book)
25.  Read Tale of Two Cities-I got halfway through
26.  Attend a Bowl Game (Go Cougars!) (Dec 30)
27. Play a round of Frisbee golf (Jan 16)

28. Get a massage (Feb 13, 21012) Thanks Barb for taking care of this one.

Places to Go:
29.  Visit Big Bend National Park (This wasn't really a strong desire of mine, but we planned to go camping over Spring Break. I didn't realize that you had to make reservations years in advance).
30. Visit the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago (26 April 2012)

31. See the Hollywood walk of fame (Oct 4, 2012)

32. See Le Miserables (Jan 5, 2012) No blog post-We forgot the camera
33. Eat cheese in Wisconsin (24 April 2012)
34. Eat Pizza in Chicago (26 April 2012)

35.  Take a weekend in the Texas Hill Country with my hubby (June 29-30) Stayed at a quaint little Bed and Breakfast with paper thin walls.  When you arrived they had complimentary chocolate, water, snacks, and ear plugs.  We had a good time, although maybe not quite the romantic get-a-way we envisioned.
36.  Be a member of a live studio audience (March 17, 2012)
We were also on Leno and even contestants on Let's Make a Deal.

Stuff that's good for me:
37. Take a class on Isaiah (January 19-May)
38. Draw up a will-no excuse why this isn't done.  
39. Meet with financial planner-My husband's military commitment is up in 2 years, and we have to figure out what we are going to do next,before we make any sort of financial plan.  I have been listening to Dave Ramsey:)
40.  Write a thank-you note for every gift and act of service (no one do anything nice for me until 2013) I have a stack of about 5 sitting on my desk to be mailed.  I should have said-"Mail a thank-you note...)

EXTRA Goals:
1. Take a photography class-(Started Nov 28th-I am learning a lot. I even learned how to take ghost pictures.
2.  Buy a crock-pot and find some meals my family will actually eat (my favorites here)
3.  Adopt a family for Christmas

 I am working on 13 Goals to complete in 2013,  Stay Tuned!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bee Mine

Apparently half the blog-o-sphere made large antiqued signs that read either "Joy" or "Noel" last month. I never took a picture of it during Christmas, but here's mine laying on my kitchen counter:

When I was finally putting away my Christmas Decor, I thought I could flip it over and put something Valentinesy on the back.  
If you want to make your own, it's a super low tech project.

1. Step 1: lightly paint your board 
optional: sand it when it dries.
2. I found the bee on The Graphics Fairy
3.  I used the Mod Podge Method from Matsutake here to transfer the image to the wood.  I was pleasantly surprised when it actually worked.
4. I printed out m-i-n-e from my computer (i even used scrap paper) and cut out the letters.  The font is teletype and the size is 550.  Then I just plain old scissors to cut out the letters.
5. Tape the letters on the board and  use paint to fill them in.
optional: sand it (not the bee)
6. I painted the bee with an additional coat of Mod Podge.  After it dried, I used spray polyurethane to coat the entire thing.

Here' it is hanging out on my front porch.

Is it bragging if I say that I kind of love it?


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Photographing Glitter

I saw this below Pinterest. It didn't trace back to the original, but here's the website of the very talented photographer. Super fun site, except for the auto-play music (freaks me out every time).

My daughter and I thought we'd re-create it.  The only glitter the Dollar Store had was graduation, but once I get a little better, I want to try it again w/ glitter that makes more sense.
 I took shoots until we ran out of glitter.  It was hard to get a good one that she also wasn't making a funny face.  I will force her to practice blowing and smiling for the next photo shoot.  

sparkles~ would be so cute for a senior portrait!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cheesecake Factory's Chinese Chicken Salad

I'm in charge of monthly women's social/ meeting at church.   This month our theme is "Wok and Talk" (cute huh?-I stole it here).  Originally, we were going to do stir-fry, but I couldn't figure out how to keep everything hot or if it would even be tasty on a large scale.  I thought instead, I would make an Asian-inspired salad and found one for the Cheesecake Factory's Chinese Chicken Salad here.  Which just so happens to be what I order every time I eat there.  (I'm a sucker for those crunchy Styrofoam noodles.)

I thought I better try it out on my family first, and made it tonight. I was  skeptical, but it actually turned out pretty close. I changed the original recipe up a little bit, b/c I think beansprouts taste like dirt and I ran out of Hoisin sauce. I also like sugar-snap peas better than snow peas. 

1/2 head Iceberg Lettuce shredded
1/2 head Green Cabbage shredded
 1 bunch Green onions (chopped)
3 cooked chicken breasts-choppped

whisk together:
1/2 cup Plum Duck Sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tb fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tb Thai Sweet Chilli sauce
2 Tb sesame seeds
1 1/2 Tb Sesame oil
1 Tb canola oil

Sugar snap peas 1/4 pound
11 oz Mandarin Oranges (next time I'm doubling this)
1/4 cup almond slivers
Won ton Strips fried (just cut a 1/2 a package into strips and fry)
Rice Sticks- fried (here's some tips here-my favorite one was to break them into manageable size in a paper bag so they don't  they'll fly all over the kitchen)

Mix the salad w/ dressing and add the garnishes.  Yummy!

Here's a picture of the plum and sweet chilli sauces that I used. I am not sure if "plum duck" and "plum" sauces are the same, but I didn't feel like driving to the Asian food store.

Now I just need to learn how to make their cheesecake.

UPDATE:  I made this for my Women's group at church.  I thought I would go authentic and so went to the Asian Market to buy stuff.  I bought the plum sauce w/ the most Chinese Writing- "Koon Chun Sauce Factory".  The dressing was missing something and I noticed the original brand had apricots in it, so I added some apricot preserves. Much better. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Oktoberfest Day 1-Rouladen

I love German food and thought I would share a few recipes with you this week.  Rouladen is my absolute favorite.  When you hear the ingredients you may find them a little strange, but trust me, they are yummy!
1 large onion chopped
8 oz dill pickles chopped
Diced Bacon cooked
Spicy Brown Mustard (German senf is the best)
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced beef

Step 1: Chop up onions and pickles.
 Step 2: After pounding the meat flat (use a tenderizer or the side of a plate), spread a layer of mustard on each piece.

Step 3: top with pickles, onions, and bacon pieces (did I loose you-stick w/ me I know it sounds strange, but it's yummy).  Instead of bacon bits, you can use 1-2 pieces of raw bacon for each roll-it's more authentic, but I don't like the idea of all that bacon fat.

Step 4: Roll it up like a burrito and secure with a toothpick. (Apparently after this step, I got so excited about eating the Rouladen that I forgot to take pictures. )

Step 5: Brown the rolls in a little olive oil or butter.

Step 6: Add beef stock . Because I can't let anything go to waste, I dump in any leftover onions and pickles.  Cover and let simmer a few hours.
If you want to be authentic you should add some Maggi (it's kinda like German soy sauce) or just add salt to taste.
Step 7: Right before serving, remove rolls.  Mix a 1/2 cup cold water and 1/4 cup flour.  Gradually add to pan and stir until mixed well and it makes a thick gravy.

Serve with Rotkohl and Spaetzel

I made this a few nights ago and I'm all out of leftovers and this picture is making me hungry.

   UPDATE:    I wanted to make Rouladen but I was missing a few ingredients.  I made some substitutions and I think it was the best EVER! 
I used sweet relish instead of chopped dill pickles
I used Pancetta instead of bacon.
I cooked it in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high.

Linking up HERE.