Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions: One Year Later

At the beginning of this year, I posted a scrapbook layout that I did all about my 2010 New Year's Resolutions. In the past, I make resolutions and then I don't do them, nor do I remember what they were one year later. But I didn't want to go that route this year, nor did I want to let down those blog readers who were rooting for me to get each and every resolution done this year. (I'm sure there were blog readers like that out there, right?) I think it's important that I hold myself accountable so I can see where I succeeded and where I failed and try again in 2011, perhaps making my resolutions a tad easier to attain. So here we go:

Resolution 1: Take the physical challenge
I would give myself an A on this resolution. While I wasn't able to do the Fitness magazine half-marathon like I had wanted, I did speed-walk two 5Ks in June, one to benefit my husband's former school district and the other to raise money for a middle school student with bone cancer. And then on our cruise, I did a 5K on the (very wet and windy) promenade deck for Susan G. Komen.

Resolution 2: Memorize a chapter of the Bible.
I hate to say it but I totally failed on this one. The only time I really have to sit down and memorize Bible chapters would be during my morning and evening commutes. And... there are just so many other books that I wanted to read first that I never got around to memorizing that chapter. Although, I did make an attempt one day, but I think my memorization skills are not what they used to be back in elementary school. Perhaps I should retry this one in 2011. Or make it more attainable, such as memorize my favorite Bible verse(s). I can't even remember those, let alone a whole chapter.

Resolution 3: Reduce your carbon footprint in one major way.
Maybe a B on this one? We still recycle, when the Waste Management guys remember to come by our house and take the recycling, but I can't really think of anything else that we do that is green. My parents bought us an eco-friendly shower head. Does that count?

Resolution 4: Learn to cook one mouth-watering dish.
Uh, have you been reading this blog? Check and check. A++++

Resolution 5: Learn to pray in a whole new way.
I wrote in January that I was looking for a good devotional book, but I didn't really find one. Although, I didn't really make much of an effort to look. I think this is still something I should work on for 2011 and probably for the rest of my life, right? A friend just recommended the book Praying In Color, so perhaps I can get that from the library next month and check it out.

Resolution 6: Do something you've been putting off.
For me, that was writing a book. And while I can't say that I've written an actual published book, I did "win" National Novel Writing Month in November. Now I have to take those 50,216 words and turn them into something that could be published. Editing is not something I can put off for 2011.

Resolution 7: Start a new relationship that's not about you.
I really did try to make this happen this year. I signed up to become a Life Book volunteer, someone who meets with local senior citizens and records their stories, then writes them down on paper for the person so that their stories can be preserved for their families. If you know me, you'll know that I've had some scary encounters with seniors, so I figured this volunteer thing would be perfect for resolution 7. Plus, it would be combining my love of scrapbooking and writing with volunteering. Except that you have to go through a training session first and the training sessions are on weekday mornings. Well, I work during the week and I just didn't have enough vacation time to attend a training session. I'm still on the list to receive info on future training sessions, so hopefully in 2011 I'll be able to attend one and get started with this project.

Resolution 8: Do something that freaks you out.
Does going to New York every day in the middle of a bed bug breakout count? No, seriously. Last year my something that freaked me out was buying food for a homeless person. But you know what? I finally did it! Sure it took me all year to do it (December 14 was the fateful day) but I did it. Of course, I always worry that the person is just running a scam and they aren't really homeless. But if this guy was scamming me, then he was totally committed to the cause. The guy had no gloves on and it was freezing outside. My hands were cold and I was wearing gloves. I certainly wouldn't be able to put up with the cold like that just so I could scam a medium hot chocolate and ham and cheese toasted flatbread sandwich from Dunkin' Donuts out of somebody. But if that guy could, then more power to him. However, I don't think he was faking it. And he said thank you. :)

Resolution 9: Reduce as much debt as possible.
We didn't really have any debt, so I wasn't too worried about this one. I think that instead of reducing debt in 2010, we really just reduced the amount of money in our checking accounts. lol Anyone else feeling me on that one?

Resolution 10: Donate your time to a cause that matters to you.
Well, I'm still not donating time to an organization that educates women in third-world countries, but I did sign up to be a volunteer at a nearby food pantry and after the holidays I am meeting with someone there to discuss how I can help out with the pantry's newsletter. And of course, I've already explained to you about the Life Book project, so hopefully 2011 will be full of time donations.

What about the rest of you? Did you make resolutions for 2010? How'd ya do? Are you making new ones for 2011? I'm not sure what else my 2011 list will look like, but I'll keep you posted once I figure it out. In the meantime, I'll have to make a scrapbook page about this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Chance!

  We hosted a little pre-Christmas dinner party at our place last weekend and I just wanted to show off our fabulous MEGA dining room table (two tables pushed together - yeah we really need to go out and buy a decent dining room set) and our Christmas decorations. I strung some lights from the fireplace mantel because we didn't get a tree this year. Yeah, I know. What's Christmas without a tree? And my parents brought me all my ornaments when they visited over the summer. But ya know, we got sort of a late start on the tree buying and the weekend we were going to get it we were really busy and wouldn't have had much time to decorate the tree nor would we have much time to enjoy it with all the running around we've got planned. So it just didn't seem like the wisest of investments. And that's okay. I've been reading many blog posts recently about how the holidays don't have to be perfect. Just let one thing go to ease your stress levels. Don't get a tree. Don't send out handmade cards. Don't make 50 desserts (desserts spelled backwards is "stressed"). Whatever it is that gets you or your family stressed out about the holidays, just don't do it this year. Sit back and lounge on the couch watching your favorite holiday movies and eating cookies that you made with the refrigerated dough. :)

This will be my last post until after the holidays. I think everyone's blogs are taking a break now. There are other more important things to get done than blogging. 

Like... scrapbooking! ha ha! But seriously, if you find some time to scrap between now and December 31, Scrap Outside the Box is giving away an iTunes gift card to one lucky winner who uses cupcake liners on her layout. An iTunes gift card is pretty sweet! So link up your layouts to the challenge post! It's gotta be easier than baking cupcakes right now, right?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last-Minute Gifts

I usually am not one to promote Gwyneth Paltrow's website Goop. Sometimes the tone of that site is a little pretentious. But I happened to click on a link for her site the other day and discovered some really cute and seemingly easy do-it-yourself holiday decorations. There are directions on making a really pretty pine wreath using items you might already have at home or that you can easily pick up at a local craft store. There is also a pretty flower/tea light creation that would make a beautiful table centerpiece. Either one of these items would be perfect to have in your home for the holidays or you could make them as a gift for someone else! (The flower/tea light centerpiece would be a great hostess gift any time of the year.) Christmas is this week, so if you're looking for last-minute crafty ideas, check out Gwyneth's website. She also has a section about food for those adventurous cookers out there. (I like my food to be a little bit easier and less time-consuming to make, but...)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Candied Hazelnut Cupcakes

Katie may be a whiz kid at scrapbooking, but she admits that she is awful at cooking. "I think I put my mom to shame because she is amazing and can make whatever, even without a recipe at hand, but I just catch pans on fire." However, that doesn't keep her from baking every now and then and Katie passed on a recipe from Grace's Sweet Life for Candied Hazelnut Cupcakes that she wanted to make.

Now I'm not going to lie. This recipe intimidated me to no end. Cake flour? What am I going to do with cake flour after I make this recipe? I'm the only one in my family who can eat it! Candied hazelnuts? That looks scary. I never claimed to be a gourmet chef. I firmly believe that baking should not be scary or frustrating. Baking should be fun!

So I improvised on this recipe for those of you out there who are like me.

Adaptation No. 1:
I used the hazelnuts and almonds, but I mixed them in with boxed vanilla cake mix. Save yourself the time and the money. The nuts taste just as good in an 89-cent boxed mix.

Adaptation No. 2:
I used marshmallows instead of homemade frosting. All you do is buy a bag of jumbo marshmallows. When the cupcakes have about three minutes left to bake, pull out the cupcake pan and place one marshmallow on top of each cupcake. Return to the oven for the remaining time or until marshmallows are slightly melted but still fluffy.

(I wish I could remember where I read to do this because it's certainly not my own idea.)

This is so delicious. After the marshmallows have cooled, they add a nice, gooey texture on top of the nutty cupcakes. Really fun! And you can buy marshmallows in different flavors, too, so you could try chocolate marshmallows if you wanted a chocolate "frosting".

Now, if you're feeling adventurous, by all means try out the original recipe. And then let me know how it was. I'll be here, eating my delicious and easy cupcakes.

Note: These cupcakes are not gluten-free. I asked my husband if he would eat them if I made them gluten-free and he wasn't interested. So I did not try to adapt this for those with Celiac. Sorry!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inspiration from Katie!

Are you guys ready to be inspired? If you're like me, you probably looked at Katie's work and went, "That is way too out of the box for me." But it doesn't have to be! You don't have to make your scrapbook pages look exactly like Katie's if that's not your thing. But you can still get great ideas from her while keeping your own style intact.

First off, change up your photos. Katie posted a tutorial on her blog about how to get your photos to have a cool, Polaroid-esque vintage look to them. I am personally obsessed with pictures that look like this and had been searching for a way to Polaroid up my pictures without the need for buying an iPhone and then the appropriate iPhone app. I also didn't want to have to download anything to my computer, as with (which may still only be for Macs), but Katie introduced me to something super awesome and free.

Katie uses,, and photo editing software like Photoshop to alter her photos and create cool-looking vintage vibes. You can follow Katie's tutorial or, if you are like me and don't have decent photo editing software (which is crucial in keeping your picture high-res) you can do what I did and only use Picnik. I went to the "Create" tab and under "Effects" played with the "1960s" feature. It'll give your picture a vintage tint. Apply the feature and then use the "Vignette" feature as instructed by Katie to add the black shaded border. Apply that feature, save and print your revamped high-res photo! It's that easy. (For the holidays, you can also add Santa beards to people in your picture. Fun!)

Here is my final creation with revamped pictures thanks to Picnik. You can see the black shading around the edges. Make the shading as dark or as light as you want.

Second, I let this layout from Katie....

click here to view on Katie's gallery

...inspired me to create this:

Can you see it? It's not exactly the same, but I liked the shape at the top of Katie's layout, so I used a chipboard shape at the top of mine. I also wanted to have something within my shape, so I chose to put my picture there. It's still my style, but it's inspired by something that you wouldn't normally see in my oeuvre. So how are you going to let Katie inspire you today? Link up your work because Katie and I would love to see it!

You can find more of Katie's work on her blog and her gallery. Come back Friday for some decadent dessert!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting Scrappy With... Katie!

click here to view this on Katie's gallery
I currently have six wonderful scrapbookers lined up for the Getting Scrappy With... series. That's six months of this feature, with hopefully more to come after that! I'm so grateful for these ladies agreeing to participate but the tremendous amount of talent makes it hard to choose who to feature next! I decided to go with (drum roll, please) Katie or MissKatie as she's known on Katie posted something really cool on her blog, Telerobotic, a few months ago and I just have to share with you all what it was—but you'll have to wait on that because you won't get to see it until Wednesday. But it's worth the wait, trust me!

In the meantime, let's take a look at Katie's work. To the right is the first page of Katie's that I saw on and it inspired me to create the cover page of my first Book of Me. I just love the speech bubble coming out of her head and the collage of her fave things.

So much of her work is completely unexpected and I love how each page really throws you for a loop. Using a twig on a scrapbook page (see below)? Why not? Katie's unique scrapbook vision has garnered her design team spots with Crazy Daisy Kit Co. and Better Living Through Scrapbooking.

Let's get to know Katie a bit more, shall we?

When did you start scrapping?

The first scrapbook layout I ever completed was when I was 13 or 14 (using shaped, matted photos and lots of decorative-edged scissors, of course!), but I put scrapping aside after that to concentrate on drawing and painting, which is pretty much all I did throughout high school, until about 2006, when I picked scrapping up again in my spare time. From 2008 on it's been pretty much nonstop!

How have your other creative pursuits, such as drawing and painting, influenced the evolution of your style?

I started out pretty simple compared to what I do now. I've always been into collaging by taping/gluing things down, but recently I've picked up embroidery and painting, so a lot of my newer pages incorporate those techniques on top of collage, which I have never strayed from! I'd definitely describe my style as "progressive" though. I'm not big on labels and I am a geek when it comes to researching new techniques and learning new methods of making things, so I'm constantly growing and evolving.

Where do you get your creative inspiration?

Literally everywhere. I'm constantly listening to music and/or watching TV or movies while I create, so color schemes, themes, and even journaling style are influenced by those things. I also spend a huge amount of time looking at artwork, from the classics (Matisse, Magritte, Caillebotte) to contemporary work (Jacqui Oakley, Dolan Geiman, Dana Robson). Then there's always various scrap portfolios and gallery sites.

Do you have a favorite technique that you use on layouts or something that you think of as your signature?

I would say the collage vibe is my signature. I hardly ever go with geometric or very linear layouts. I like mixing things up and am very free form as a result.

Why do you scrap?

First and foremost, it's fun. I'm a graphic design major and am obsessed with design, layouts, and color palettes, as well as just making things look good, so it's kind of a no brainer for me. I'm also a very nostalgic person, though, and I've found that scrapping helps me to both relive my favorite (and not so favorite, but equally important) memories and relax. It's certainly a therapeutic hobby. I'm also interested in the idea of leaving something behind for others to see, even though I'm not a strictly archival kind of scrapper.

Does that mean you often scrap about yourself?

Quite often. I know some scrappers don't, either because they focus on other family members/friends, or because they have a bit of a phobia, but to be honest, I am who I know best. Scrapping has always been a creative, therapeutic art form for me, but it's also about leaving a mark, so I say, scrap yourself—people will be curious to know what you were like at the time you made a particular page.

click here to view Katie's gallery
Where is your favorite place to scrap?

My favorite place to scrap is in my room. I still live at home and have converted my room into my own personal studio space. Lots of hours are spent creating there! I can really create pretty much anywhere, though, as long as I have the supplies I love on hand! I prefer to scrap in the afternoon and late at night. I'm a night owl for sure and just function all around better when it's dark outside. I can stay up super late (or early, depending on who you ask) if I'm focused on what I'm doing.

And what does your scrap area look like?

Chaos! Haha. I try to keep it all put together the best I can, but the truth is that everything kind of goes where it wants to. It is an organized mess, if that makes sense. I know exactly where everything is. So it's organized to me, but probably not to anyone who walks in here.

I've found keeping things separate helps a lot. The piles actually decrease in size once you separate letter stickers from the rest of the embellishments, cardstock from other patterned paper, and so on.

For my readers who might be near your area (Indiana), are there any local scrapbook stores you'd recommend?

Definitely! Sharon's Crop Studio is actually very close to me and totally awesome. Sharon is the nicest lady ever, and her team of teachers is extremely knowledgeable. Plus, their crop space includes the comfiest chairs you'll ever find. Seriously.

And because Christmas is just days away, what scrap products are on your Christmas list for this year?

This year, my wish list contains some practical tools, like the Scotch ATG Gun, as well as some awesome DIY tools, including the QuicKutz Epic 6 Tool/Letterpress and the Teresa Collins Stampmaker Machine. As far as collections go, apparently I'm really into "cute" right now! I love Creative Imaginations' Lullaby Boy Collection—even though I don't have a boy, the vintage nursery rhyme illustrations are too adorable to resist, and the die-cut papers are really innovative. Doodlebug Design's Welcome Home Collection reminds me of Japanese stationery—I really love it! And then there's American Crafts' Dear Lizzy: Enchanted Collection. Because I can never get enough Lizzy.

And we can never get enough of your super creative scrapbook pages! Thanks for being a part of Cook Scrap Craft this week, Katie!


Don't forget to check out Katie's blog and her gallery for more! And come back on Wednesday to see some cool techniques that you can use on your scrapbook pages!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Gift

Real quick, this is my layout for the Noel Mignon challenge. Scrap about a gift: your favorite gift, someone else's gift, the gift of a lesson learned, etc. I chose to scrap about buying a gift for a child through Jersey Cares' Frosty's Friends. The snowflakes are cupcake liners (does that give you inspiration for the Scrap Outside the Box challenge?) and everything else is from my scrap pile. If you want to participate in the Noel Mignon challenge, you have until December 17. The prize is not one but TWO Bedford Falls kits (you have to go to the Noel Mignon website to see them. AWESOME!). If I win, maybe I'll share one with someone. And if you win, won't you share your second one with me? ;) Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Time for Scrapping!

I actually found time to scrapbook during the week this week. Crazy, right? I didn't have the chance to take a picture of the layout, though, because it's always dark outside whenever I'm home during the week and I didn't want the picture to look bad. But I need to snap a photo of it soon because it's for a challenge over at the Noel Mignon blog. I'll tell you more about it when I, hopefully, blog about it here soon.

The layouts you see in this post I whipped up over the weekend. I'm almost all caught up again with my pictures, which means I need to take some more! Good thing we've got plenty of stuff going on this weekend.

"I Win!" chronicles the pulling of the wish bone from our Early Thanksgiving party. I did win the good part of the wish bone, but sort of on a technicality, which is in the journaling. See, Danae suggested microwaving the wish bone to dry it out so it would more easily break. She told me to put it on a paper towel in the microwave for three minutes. About half-way through, she looks in the microwave and goes, "I think you can take it out now." When I opened the microwave, smoke billowed out and there was a burn mark on the paper towel. LOL I had to open the kitchen window to let out the smoke, but eventually the smoke and the smell of it went away. Thank goodness our microwave didn't catch on fire, although we do have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen (NJ law). So anyway, Danae and I were getting ready to pull the wish bone but before we could get a picture of us, it broke right in our hands because it was so dry! It just so happened that the "wish" part ended up in my hand. And there you have it. I entered this layout in a sketch challenge on the Imaginisce blog.

"Boys Will Be Boys" is based on sketch 92 at The Scrappiest. It can also be used as another example of how to do the Scrap the Moments "Around the House" challenge, which is due December 13. When I attended a baby shower last month, (the baby was born on December 4 - welcome Braydon Alexander!) one of our favors was a bookmark. I decided to use the bookmark as an embellishment on the layout. It's a great way for me to use something unique on my layout and put my shower favor to good use.

I'm sure you guys have similar items just hanging around your house. Why don't you use them on a layout? Head over to the Scrap the Moments blog to see how the Design Team members (including me) interpreted the challenge. You could win a great scrapbook kit from Catch the Moments Kits.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gift Yourself

It's the Christmas season and that means a time of gift-giving. To others, sure, but what about to yourself? Well here's a chance at winning a very nice gift that you can keep all to yourself: Scrap Outside the Box's December challenge is up and the winner gets an iTunes gift card!!

The challenge is to use cupcake liners, and to the right you can see what I came up with. I'm constantly struggling to find journaling spots that I like and that go with my papers, but these cupcake liners were the perfect thing! And they gave the layout a nice bit of texture.

You can go here to read all the challenge details and see how the other Design Team members used cupcake liners. This challenge ends December 31 so don't wait to create! We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Speaking of cupcakes, I made a batch of them this weekend... but I can't share them with you until next week! Stay tuned!

(Hint: You can also use cupcake liners on your layout for the Scrap the Moments challenge. Cupcake liners are something found around the house, right? And then you're killing two challenges with one stone! Hey!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We got our first Christmas card in the mail over the weekend! Can you see it hanging up on our mantel? No tree yet but we're going to a tree farm on Saturday to pick out a good one (and take some pictures so I can scrap about it - hehe). It's hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner! This year has really gone by so fast!

Also just wanted to let you know that the deadline for the Scrap the Moments challenge has been extended. So if you weren't able to complete the challenge, you have one more week! Get those layouts in by December 13 and you'll be in the running for an awesome scrapbook kit from Catch the Moments kits! Remember, the challenge is to use something you find around the house on your layout: ticket stubs, business cards, even towels! Whatever you find, use! We can't wait to see what you come up with. Just follow that link up above for the info.

This post is turning into a bit of a hodgepodge of stuff, but that's okay. I have one more thing that I wanted to share with you. It's a recipe for an easy and delicious side dish. You can make it on any regular dinner night or serve it with your holiday meal. It's called Green Beans Almondine and my mom gave me the recipe several weeks ago and this weekend I finally got around to making it. I like it because it's easy but it also snazzes up the plain old green beans from a can. Here's the recipe:

1 can of kitchen cut green beans (or whatever cut you like)
2 tbsp slivered almonds
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp. lemon juice

1. Cook slivered almonds in butter over low heat, stirring frequently until almonds are golden.
2. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
3. Heat green beans in microwave according to package instructions.
4. Pour almonds over beans.

Voila! That's it! At first my husband didn't say anything about it, but after dinner he was all, "What was that in the green beans?" And I told him and he said, "That was really good!"

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book Review: A Year With God

How would you spend a year with God?

     I recently got the chance to read and review the daily devotional book A Year with God, thanks to the website BookSneeze. A Year with God is a 365-day devotional that uses scripture from the Old Testament. (I'm not sure why the book is Old Testament-only. The author, R.P. Nettelhorst, does not explain in the book's introduction.)
    This devotional book is divided into several themed sections, such as Hope and Fear, Love and Hate, and Faith and Doubt. Readers can either start the devotionals from the beginning and do all 365 of them in chronological order or jump from theme to theme based on personal preference. I liked that the devotionals were categorized because there are some days when you might really need to hear God's message on specific topics, like mercy and judgment or companionship and isolation.
      I wanted to be able to fully absorb the devotionals by reading one each day, as the book intends its readers to do, which meant that I obviously haven't made it through all 365 devotionals. I started at the beginning with the 29 devotionals in the Hope and Fear section (and a few in the Love and Hate section). As I read through the devotionals, I felt like using only one half of the Bible was both a pro and a con.
     I'm much more partial to the New Testament, but it was nice to read through Old Testament passages that I haven't read in a few years. On the other hand... I'm much more partial to the New Testament. I feel like the New Testament is more accessible and easier to translate into my everyday life. I think Nettelhorst was trying to do this with the Old Testament passages in this book, but those connections sometimes weren't explained very well. After reading the Bible verse and then reading Nettelhorst's summary of the verse (complete with background information, which was very helpful) and explanation of what the verse should mean to us, often I would find myself going, "Wait, huh? That's what I'm supposed to get out of that?" I'm not sure if that is due to poor explanatory skills on Nettelhorst's part or the fact that sometimes the Old Testament is not very user-friendly and God seemed a lot meaner then.
    Still, there were several pages that I bookmarked because I liked the message that a particular passage conveyed. Such as Job 38: 31-41, which Nettelhorst explains essentially means that God is saying, "Why are you so worried and afraid? You don't know much and can't do much. But I do. I'm God, so relax."

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Challenge Time!

It's that time again! The beginning of the month and lots of scrapbook challenges going down. So if you're looking for a challenge, check out one or all of these:

1. The December Sketch Challenge at the Imaginisce blog. You have the whole month to work on this one and enter for a chance to win $75 of Imaginisce goodies.

2. The Scrap the Moments challenge to use an item you found around your house is still ongoing. You have until December 6. One of the design team members used paper towels to create flowers on her layout!!

3. Inspired Blueprints just posted a new two-page sketch. It looks awesome and I can't wait to try it out!

4. These Are a Few of My Favorite Things is hosting a My Favorite Celebrity challenge. Create a layout about your favorite celebrity, or lack thereof! The winner gets a $20 gift certificate to Deadline is midnight on Dec. 13.

5. There's a challenge at The Story Matters this week to use stamps. I have a bunch of stamps in my arsenal that I rarely use because I tend to forget that I have them! This is the perfect challenge to make me break out those stamps.

6. And PageMaps is having a My Little Shoebox sketch contest, which ends December 12. The winner gets a package of My Little Shoebox scrapbooking goodies.

7. And this is not a challenge, but it is a chance for you to win some Dear Lizzy Christmas items. Catch the Moments kits is having a blog hop. It's really easy to enter and you have until Sunday night to do it!

Hope these challenges inspire you! If you know of any other challenges, post them in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And the winner is....

So yesterday was the last day to enter my CSN Stores giveaway. I had five entries! Thanks you guys for entering!

I didn't realize that you have to pay to use, so instead I used one of's free services: the Sequence Generator. I told it to generate a sequence using the numbers 1–5 (because there were five entries) and the first number in the sequence would be the winner! So here are the results:

Here is your sequence:
Timestamp: 2010-12-01 14:21:39 UTC

Comment number 3 is the winner! So congratulations goes to Sherri! You are the lucky winner of the $40 CSN Stores gift certificate! All I need is your email address so I can give it to the CSN Stores liaison and she'll send you the online code for your $40.

I hate to see everyone else go home empty-handed but maybe I'll do another giveaway soon! Thanks for playing everybody and happy December 1! (24 days until Christmas and 25 days until my birthday!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some Things to Share

One of my layouts is up on the Nikki Sivils blog. I used some of Nikki's products using the Victoria's Street line and Julie Tucker-Wolek (part of Nikki's domestic design team) spotted it on and asked if she could showcase it on the blog. So there you have it! I think it's a layout (a 2-pager) that I haven't shown on this blog so go check it out on Nikki's blog to see it!

Also, in the past two weeks I have injured myself three times:
1. I slammed my right pointer finger in my desk drawer.
2. I accidentally dropped a dining room chair on my left foot (the seat back part was what fell on my foot)
3. I stabbed myself and drew blood with my thumbnail.


Why don't I show you another scrapbook layout? This one features pictures of me and some friends at a baby shower two weeks ago. We played the diaper game, where you melt chocolate bars and put them into diapers and then everyone has to smell them to figure out which chocolate bar it is. Yeah, my table won with 9/10 correct. Our prize? Non-melted fun-sized versions of the chocolate bars. It had been so long since I ate a Butterfinger. The title of this layout comes from the movie Bring it On:

Torrence: Missy's the poo so take a big whiff!

I think you kind of have to see the movie to get it, but anyway... The circular yellow thing on this layout is actually a chipboard shape that I covered with yellow ribbon. That's a really easy way to dress up plain chipboard, especially if you don't have paints or mists.

I also added a photo effect to these photos, which you will find out more about next month during the Getting Scrappy With... series. Can I just say, if you haven't tried out yet, please do. Lots of fun stuff there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Around the House

Happy Sunday! It's been nice having time off, but the work week begins again tomorrow. Humph. 

This weekend I got some scrapping done. This is a layout I did for the Scrap the Moments challenge to use something you found around your house, such as a ticket stub. It just so happened that I had a ticket stub on my desk from the Hanson (yes, Hanson) concert I went to two weekends ago. So here is my layout for that challenge. 

What did you guys do for the challenge? Don't forget to go to the Scrap the Moments blog and submit your layout! You have until December 6 to enter for your chance to win a cool scrapbook kit from Catch the Moments.

And also don't forget about these other great things:
Scrap Outside the Box aluminum foil challenge - enter until November 30
Cook Scrap Craft giveaway - enter until November 30 for your chance to win a $40 coupon code to CSN Stores 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gobble, Gobble

So I didn't make Thanksgiving cards this year. But I did make Halloween cards for next year. So... yeah.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! And if you find that you just can't eat any more leftover turkey, might I tempt you to try this delicious recipe from the blog Feeding Four? This is called Cheesy Mexican Skillet and it is truly delicious. Pasta, meat, cream cheese, sour cream, salsa. All mixed together. It's awesome and really easy to make, especially on a weeknight. My husband really liked it, so I was glad about that because sometimes I try new recipes and then I feel bad if he's eating it just because he's hungry and not because it's delicious. :/ Not the case with this dish! I'm putting it into our recipe rotation!

I think that if you took the pasta out of the equation, you'd have a really thick and delicious chip dip—think Tostitos or Fritos scoops. Yum! I told my husband that and all he said was, "Pastaaaaa!!!" so I guess we'll just be keeping it as a main dish around here.

Happy Thanksgiving again and if you haven't already, go enter my giveaway for $40 to CSN Stores!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roasting Pan Review

I've got another CSN Stores review for you! Back when I got my pizza pan, I also got this Nordicware Oven Essentials 18.5-inch Large Roaster in Red. Yes, a red roasting pan. The color totally sold me!

You can see a little bit of the color in this picture. It's more of a maroon than a bright red, so it looks really classy. It is also very heavy duty. I had a 17-pound turkey in there and the pan was still easy to lift.

You might also notice that I don't have a roasting rack in the pan. This pan didn't come with a roasting rack and I don't know anyone who has ever used a roasting rack before, so I just didn't use one. If you like roasting racks and prefer a pan that comes with one, then this might not be the roasting pan for you. However, you can always buy a separate roasting rack or you can just go without. The turkey turned out fine without one.

This turkey was a very snug fit inside the pan. I was a little surprised. Turns out, I ordered the 18.5-inch pan, but was sent a 14.5-inch pan. Of course, I didn't check this until the day of our party so I just shrugged my shoulders and in the words of Tim Gunn, I made it work. The turkey was snug but it still fit and didn't drip any juices on the bottom of my oven. The turkey also cooked through and in the exact amount of time the turkey package said it should.

This pan was very easy to clean because it is non-stick. You have to handwash it, but it's so easy to clean that it really doesn't matter. I love easy things!

Even though this Nordicware roasting pan turned out smaller than I anticipated, it's still a great pan and I would definitely use it again. I have another recipe (that is not turkey or chicken) that requires a roasting pan, so I can't wait to try it out! You'll just have to wait and see what it is!

I’d like to thank CSN Stores for sponsoring this review! (I was given the product, but was not compensated in any other way for my opinions.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stylish Blogger Award

Hey I won an award! Carrie, over at Everyday Moments, who also happens to be on the Scrap the Moments design team with me, received a Stylish Blogger Award and passed it on to me!

By accepting this award I must complete the following tasks:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded me
2. Share 8 things about myself
3. Pay it forward to 8 bloggers that I have recently discovered
4. Contact those bloggers and tell them about their awards

So here we go!
1. Every Sunday night I do my nails while watching TV.
2. eHarmony rejected me.
3. I like using my credit card reward points to get Old Navy gift cards. (Too bad I can't rack up those reward points faster.)
4. I hate wet sidewalks. I think this stems from being at public pools and the gunk that would get stuck to the wet walkways and sidewalks there. Have you ever looked at a wet sidewalk? Nasty.
5. I've been to London three times.
6. I love the smell of burning leaves. But I don't burn leaves! That's illegal!
7. I just went over 38,000 words for National Novel Writing Month. Not far now from 50,000.
8. I am three pounds away from my target weight, and about four-ish pounds away from where the Wii Fit wants me to be. (Wii Fit does a goal BMI.)

And who will my lucky eight bloggers be?

1. Amber at Hoot-n-Annie
2. Savanna Lea at Carson Cat Family
3. Keli at Feeding Four
4. Amanda at A Few Short Cuts
5. Jill at Blessed Scrapper
6. Stephanie at A Year of Slow Cooking
7. Staci at Creating My Everyday
8. Danielle at Homespun with Heart

(Honorable mention goes to my husband's blog: I Have Nothing Interesting to Say Let's see if he notices! tee hee)

Thanks again, Carrie!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Scrap the Moments challenge

Alright, everyone, it's challenge time! Head on over to Scrap the Moments because there is a new challenge posted.

Your challenge is to create a layout using something that you find around your house on the layout. For example, a ticket stub, receipt, business card, anything like that! You can use a photo as well, as long as you have something else on your page!

I know exactly what I'm going to do for my layout, so hopefully you'll see it soon! More details are at the Scrap the Moments blog! The winner gets a kit from Catch the Moments kits! Awesome! So what are you waiting for? Let's get creative!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Other uses for corn tortillas

Before we get into corn tortillas, may I just remind you all that I've got a giveaway going on??? Click here to enter to win a $40 gift certificate to CSN Stores. You have until November 30 to enter.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

Earlier this year I did a post on uses for corn tortillas. Well, once again we have a package of corn tortillas in our fridge that must be eaten! I don't even remember why we bought them in the first place. Tacos maybe? Anyway, after making myself a chicken salad wrap and a turkey wrap, I found a new recipe that utilizes corn tortillas. Breakfast Tostada. The recipe was first posted on Yum Sugar and involves eggs, a corn tortilla, pork sausage, avocado, and other goodies. You can stick to the recipe as is, leave out a few items (I left out tomato - uck) or add in other ingredients. It's very versatile and really takes no time at all to make.

Here is my adapted version:

1 corn tortilla
olive oil
1/2-inch-thick slice of ripe avocado, mashed (I found it so hard to mash the avocado)
1 oz. (about the size of a 1-inch meatball) of pork breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean is gluten-free)
1/2 cup spinach leaves (and now we have lots of spinach left over...)
chili powder
about 2 eggs, scrambled
salt and pepper

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Rub a few drops of olive oil onto both sides of the tortilla. Toast the tortilla in the hot skillet until lightly browned and crispy on both sides. Set tortilla on a plate.
3. Crumble pork sausage into the hot skillet and stir around until nicely browned, about 3 minutes.  Add spinach, a sprinkle of salt, and a dash of chili powder and stir until spinach is wilted. Remove pan from heat.
4. Spread avocado on tortilla, then top with the spinach mixture.
5. Return pan to heat. Add a few drops of olive oil if there is no fat in the pan, then crack egg into the pan. Sprinkle egg with a little salt and pepper and scramble. Place scrambled eggs on top of tortilla and serve immediately.

I didn't get a picture of this because the night I made it, my bus was late coming home so we were really hungry by the time our tostadas were ready. We both really liked them, too. You can eat them with a knife and fork or try to wrap them up and eat them with your hands. Either way, they are yummy.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oh so much to get through!

Before we get down to business, one quick thing to remind you of: the aluminum foil challenge at Scrap Outside the Box is still going on until the end of this month! Don't forget to break out your Reynolds Wrap (or store brand, whatever you got) and show us how you worked it on your layout! We'd love to see your layouts! Just link them up to this blog post

Okay, now onto business. A lot has been going that I'd like to share with you all, so I'm going to try to do it in one post. Hope it doesn't get too long. 

First off, the other day I got a fun prize package in the mail from Nancy aka Homesclscrapper. I participated in a blog hop and won! She sent me out this really great package of goodies that I can't wait to start playing with.

Second, if you're planning on having people over for Thanksgiving, perhaps you might consider some festive decor. I saw cool, do-it-yourself yarn wreaths featured on the Cartwheels in My Mind blog and discovered the woman behind the idea for the yarn wreaths: Danielle Burkleo. Danielle posted a super easy tutorial on her blog, which you can find and follow here. These wreaths don't have to be fall-themed. You can make a yarn wreath using whatever colors you want. But I copied mine on the wreath with the multi-colored yarn (you'll see the picture at the end of Danielle's blog post) because I thought the colors reminded me of the changing leaves. I was so excited to find similar colored yarn at Michael's AND I found the perfect branch accent. Seriously, it was the only one they had! And it became mine! I wish my flowers had turned out larger, but the only size felt I could find was 8.5 x 11. Oh well. My wreath is 18 inches, but they had a smaller one. I just felt that the smaller one wouldn't be large enough over my mantelpiece. I totally think I'm going to make some of these as presents. I love them!

And last but not least: FOOD. (I think I've gotten "cook scrap craft" all in one blog post! Hey!) Something interesting I discovered at Whole Foods: gluten-free corn pasta. (As if there isn't already enough corn in the foods we eat, but I digress.)

The corn pasta is not as starchy as the rice pasta (nor is it as cheap as Trader Joe's rice pasta) and it tastes just as good. We used it to make Pam Anderson's Shells and Cheese, Gluten-Free (see picture below), which was much easier than the other mac and cheese recipe we had been making and was also very tasty. I like when I find a recipe that doesn't require a shopping cart full of ingredients, and this one also didn't take as long to prepare as our other recipe. Nor did it use up as many pots and pans as the other one. Geesh, I hate cleaning pots and pans.

And then after making this, of course, I went to Trader Joe's and found a box of gluten-free rice pasta and cheese (like the Kraft boxes) for $1.29. So I think that's how we'll be doing gluten-free mac and cheese on weeknights from now on. It's just easier because on weeknights we don't have time to wait 30+ minutes for dinner to be ready. I'm hungry when I walk in the door at 7 and the box of mac and cheese is something that my husband can definitely handle and have ready by the time I get home. Ah, it's almost like old times. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Oh my goodness! There is so much to share with you! I've got recipes, craft projects, and scrapbook stuff galore just waiting to be turned into blog posts. Seeing as Thanksgiving is a little over a week away, I thought that today I'd share with you some gluten-free tips for Thanksgiving.

But first, may I make an announcement? I applied for the Scrap the Moments design team and... I won a spot on the team! I'm so excited to get to work with Devon, owner of Scrap the Moments and the online kit store Catch the Moments, which if you haven't checked out already, please do so, especially if you like Thickers. You should also go visit Scrap the Moments because it's a brand new challenge blog, so if you like to participate in challenges or you're looking for something to jump start your creativity, then this site will help you do that! I'll keep you posted on when there are new challenges. I'm so excited to be a part of a talented bunch of scrappers! 

Okay, now on to the food. 

Last weekend, my husband and I had people over for the third annual Early Thanksgiving. Not only was this my first time making a turkey, but we also had Celiac disease to contend with. So I did some research online and here's what I found:

1) If you're doing a gluten-free Thanksgiving, read the packaging on the turkey you pick. Not all turkeys are gluten-free. And even if they say gluten-free, the included gravy packet might not be gluten-free. I completely forgot what brand of turkey we got, but we got it (a 17-pound bird) at our local grocery store, so you shouldn't have trouble finding one.

2 and 3) It's easy to make your own gravy using pan drippings from the turkey. It's also easy to make your own stuffing using gluten-free cornbread. Bob's Red Mill makes a tasty cornbread mix and then you just need gluten-free pork sausage (Jimmy Dean), gluten-free chicken broth (Progresso), and an onion (or not). The recipes for both the gravy and stuffing can be found here.

4) Also, read this from The Savvy Celiac if you have guests bringing gluten-free items. A lot of good points that I did not think about.


We didn't make gluten-free pumpkin pie because my husband doesn't like pumpkin-flavored things, but if you need more gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes, here are a few helpful links:

And here is everyone enjoying the food:

Oh yeah. I was excited about not ruining my first turkey (more later about the roasting pan):

I hope all of this has been helpful! Just because you are eating gluten-free doesn't mean you can't eat well! 

And don't forget about my CSN Stores giveaway! Go here to find out how to enter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

1st anniversary and giveaway!

Can you believe that my blog has been around for one year? (Technically yesterday was the official one-year anniversary, but whatever.) It's been a lot of fun cooking and crafting with you guys and I look forward to another year of more inspiration!

In honor of my blog's first anniversary, I wanted to do something special, something to thank the loyal readers of this blog. So I'm going to have a giveaway!

Remember me talking about CSN Stores, the online retailer that has everything you could possibly need from a cool new counter stool to dishes, shoes to purses, and pet products to workout gear? Seriously, anything you could be looking for is all at CSN Stores!

And luckily for you guys, CSN Stores has offered up a $40 gift certificate, valid at any of CSN's online stores, for one Cook Scrap Craft reader. Isn't that awesome? How do you enter? All you have to do is go visit, find something that you like, and come back to this blog post to tell me what you'd spend your $40 on. You have until November 30 at midnight to enter. Then I'll use to pick a winner!

Good luck to everybody and thanks so much to CSN Stores for this awesome opportunity!

Note: This giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canadian readers. There may be international shipping fees to Canada that the gift code cannot cover.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shel's Marinade for chicken or pork chops

My husband and I buy meat in bulk - chicken or ground beef, usually. We divide it up, put the divisions in freezer bags, and put those in the freezer. Then it's there for whenever we decide we want meat. When it's time to have chicken, we often stumble upon a conundrum: what kind of chicken?

I'm of the school of thought that chicken has to BE something. Chicken Parmesan. Lemon chicken. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake. My husband on the other hand would be perfectly content to eat plain poached chicken and rice. My ideas require work. His idea is easier. Michelle's idea is a nice compromise.

Michelle has her own garden where she grows fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. "My favorite herb is the lemon basil," she says. "It is this wonderfully lemon-scented delicacy!" So what does she do with this delicacy? "I throw a handful of leaves in a ziploc bag with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and chicken breasts or pork chops. I let it marinade for a few hours and then grill the meat! OMG! That lemon basil gives the meat such a wonderful flavor!"

It is a wonderful flavor! Okay, so we didn't make it exactly as Michelle instructed (We don't have our own herb garden, we don't have an outdoor grill) but we did marinate the chicken breasts (actually tenders because we don't have a meat mallet) in lemon juice (from the bottle - we are lazy), basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. The chicken marinated overnight and then my husband popped them on our George Foreman grill and dinner was ready super fast! Yum!

If you want more delicious dishes from Michelle, go check out her blog, Shel's Creative Emporium. She's been sharing loads of recipes with her readers lately! I love it!

Thanks for joining us for yet another week of Getting Scrappy With... Don't forget to visit Michelle's gallery for lots more scrappy inspiration. And if there's anything else you'd like to know about or see from the featured scrappers, let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Inspiration from Michelle

Welcome back to Getting Scrappy With...! Today I'm going to show you how Michelle's layouts have inspired me.

On Monday I posted one of Michelle's layouts, called "My Chef", and that happens to be the layout that I scraplifted. 

Click here to see this in Michelle's gallery

I really liked the swirl of paper at the bottom and the overall simplicity to the whole layout. Proof that you don't need to go crazy to make a great layout, especially if it's the pictures you really want to showcase and not the supplies. My layout uses pictures I took of the pretty fall trees around where I live. I used papers from Crate Paper, Recollections and Colorbok. The sparkly letters and numbers are American Crafts, as are the sparkly flower shapes.


As you can see, I didn't put a journaling rectangle above the pictures like Michelle did on her layout. Instead, I used one of the brown side spots to journal. I did that mainly because I was using stuff from my stash to create this layout and I didn't have a coordinating journaling spot or extra blank piece of cardstock. So I improvised! That's what's so fun about scraplifting. You can take the general idea of a layout and then change it up to suit your style and your scrapbook stash.

If you've visited Michelle's blog or gallery and used one of her layouts as inspiration, post a link to your work in the comments. I'd love to see it - and I'm sure Michelle would, too! There's something good cooked up for Friday, so don't miss it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Getting Scrappy With...

Click here to see this in Michelle's gallery
It's that time again! Time to Get Scrappy With... Michelle Stankevicius aka Shelstan on Michelle does layouts in all different sizes (12x12, 8.5x11, 6x6) and I love seeing how she changes things up from layout to layout. I don't remember when I first came across Michelle's work, but whenever it was, her layouts really appealed to me and I hope they do to you, too. I've been following Michelle's blog, Shel's Creative Emporium, and not only is Michelle an awesome scrapbooker, but she's an all-around awesome person, too! Check out her blog because she has a whole lot more than just scrapbook layouts—you'll find cute pictures of her kids, pictures of her home decor, and yummy recipes! But first, let's get to know Michelle a bit better.

When did you start scrapping?

I started keeping scrapbooks when I was in junior high. Of course, my style has changed drastically since then, and continues to change with the times! I have taken some art classes and have read a lot of design books, so I think that technically my style has improved in terms of composition and style. I also was trained as a professional photographer at Glamour Shots and another portrait studio when I was in college, so I think my photography has become better over time as well!

Why do you scrap?

It started as a fun way to document vacations and special occasions and has morphed into a way to document my family's everyday lives. I hope my children will want to take "their" scrapbooks with them when they move out and will look back on them as a way to remember the best of times!

Click here to view Michelle's gallery
Your kids are in a lot of your pictures and sometimes I see you on a layout. How often would you say you scrap yourself?

Honestly, I'm not crazy about doing it, but I force myself to do it every once in awhile. If I am trying to preserve my children's childhood for them, I'm sure they'd appreciate a pic or two of their mom thrown in for good measure! Having three kids, I am usually the one behind the lens, but occasionally my husband will turn the camera on me!

What are your favorite scrapbook manufacturers?

I really like companies that provide lots of coordinating elements like: Basic Grey, Studio Calico, Jenni Bowlin, Crate Paper and Sassafras Lass are just a few. I really don't have any ties to any ONE company!

Where do you get your creative inspiration?

I subscribe to all of the different scrapbooking magazines, so I get a lot of ideas there. I also love browsing blogs and I have a group of "friends" that I met through from all over the country and we offer encouragement, challenges and inspiration to each other, too.

Do you have a favorite technique that you use on layouts or something that you think of as your signature?

I love buttons and butterflies!! My daughter always says, "Don't forget to add a butterfly, Mom!"

Where and when do you do most of your scrapping? 

I usually get about two hours a day (if my other two kids are occupied) when my baby naps. I usually scrap at the kitchen table, so I can keep my eye on what's happening in the house. My husband is currently finishing our basement and there is a beautiful corner of the great room with my name on it! LOL I hope to move my scrap stuff down there when it's finished.

Right now all of my stuff is housed in my hall coat closet, and two scrap bags! I have lots of storage containers that are begging to be displayed once our basement is finished. My darling husband created two oversized closets for me in the basement to house all of my scrap supplies and he's creating some built-in shelving for my books and craft stuff. All I need to find is a scrap desk and comfy chair to complete the vision!

That sounds awesome! For my readers who might live in your area or who might be visiting, is there any place you'd recommend they check out for scrap supplies?

Unfortunately, most of the local scrap stores in my neighborhood have gone out of business! :( There is a really great scrap store in downtown Chicago that I try to take a trek up to about once a year. It is called Windy City Scrapbooking. I buy most of my stuff at my local Archiver's, Michael's and JoAnn's. I also order a lot online. (shhh...don't tell my husband!) I subscribe to some kits. (Scarlet Lime and Studio Calico are my faves!)

Well, from reading your blog, it's clear that you have other crafty hobbies aside from scrapbooking.

I love to paint. I have created lots of original paintings for my home, as well as murals on the children's bedroom walls and some decorative stenciling in my bathroom. My mom is super crafty. When I was younger she taught me to crochet and cross stitch, but I haven't done those in years. My mom is still crafty. We sometimes scrap together and she makes some really pretty and unique jewelry too! My other favorite hobby is cooking. I have taken a few classes at SurLaTable and love to try new and unique recipes!

Because Christmas is right around the corner, what's on your Christmas wish list?

My Christmas wish list... I'd love to say it's huge, but then I'd sound greedy, and in today's economy, I shouldn't be asking for anything.'s just a "wish" list, right? So, a girl can dream....haha....I'd really love that Martha Stewart loopy punch. I swear I'm going to make one of those 7 Gypsies Letterblock Printer trays one of these days. I adore butterflies, so I'm always looking for new ones. And I don't have any yet, but I'd like some of the new Echo Park and KI paper lines!

And in un-scrappy news, I'd love Jessica Seinfeld's new cookbook Double Delicious. (I have her first one: Deceptively Delicious and it's pretty good!) I saw her on Oprah this morning, cooking up a storm and it made me so hungry! She made this great looking crock-pot lasagna that I have to try!

Well, I've seen a lot of recipes on your own blog that I'd love to try! Thanks for being part of Cook Scrap Craft this week, Michelle!


If you want to check out some of Michelle's recipes, then head on over to her blog. You'll definitely get inspiration for this week's meals. And don't forget to visit her gallery to see Michelle's scrappy work. Then come back to Cook Scrap Craft on Wednesday for more Getting Scrappy With...!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's getting 'chili'!

The colder weather always signals, for me, that it's time to start making chili. I've always been a fan of chili. My family used to make it and then put cooked rotini pasta on top. It is so good!

For the longest time, I grew up with sort of spicy chili, which I liked (especially with the pasta on top!) but then my mom got a recipe from someone for a sweet chili. You heard that right: sweet chili. It's made with sugar. Oh yeah.

Some advice: this is not something that you can whip up real quick after coming home from work at 6:00 (or 7:00, in my case). It takes three hours to cook and THEN you have to cook it some more to let the water evaporate. (You'll understand when you read the directions.) Give yourself plenty of time to make this. It's a good Sunday dinner.

Are you ready for it?

Ron's Sweet Chili

1 pound ground beef
1 14-ounce can tomato puree (Hunt's is gluten-free)
1 15-ounce can kidney beans (Rienzi is gluten-free and says it right on the can)
chili powder
1 tbsp sugar

1. Brown beef and drain. Place in pot/dutch oven.
2. Put other ingredients in the pot/dutch oven. Sprinkle chili powder on top.
3. Fill pot with water. Cook on medium heat for three hours. Keep refilling with water. When ready to serve, cook all the way down.

Sorry, no pictures. We were so hungry, we ate without taking a picture first.

In other news, I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month (aka NanoWriMo) after a two-year hiatus. My current word count is 8,839 words. I need 50,000 by the end of this month to "win". I can do it! Anyone else participating?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

CSN Review!

Remember awhile back when I told you I'd be reviewing something from CSN Stores? And remember how I also told you we really love Udi's gluten-free pizza crusts? Well, I decided to get a little something to help us out with making our new favorite pizzas. A pizza pan!!!

I've never owned a pizza pan before and had been baking pizzas on a baking sheet. I know you can cook the pizza right on the oven rack, but it's so hard to get the pizza out of the oven. I have nightmares about spilling cheese and pepperoni on the bottom of my oven and then having to clean it. Hence, the baking sheet.

But, as you know, I wanted a crispier gluten-free pizza and I thought a pizza pan would keep the gluten-free pizza crust from getting sogged down by the pizza sauce. And I think this Frieling Round Crisper (that's its technical name) did its job. The holes in the center of the pan allowed heat to get through to the bottom of the pizza and kept the crust from getting too soggy. There was a definite crunch when I bit into the pizza. (I also baked the pizza for the full seven minutes, like I did last time. Another tip, wait to top the pizza with sauce, etc., until right before you're going to put the pizza in the oven that way the pizza doesn't have so much time to soak up the sauce.)

And the pizza came off the pan so easily because the pan is non-stick. You could also use this pan for baking homemade or frozen pizzas in the oven.

Be careful when handling or washing (hand wash only) because the pan does scratch. After we washed it, I noticed a scratch mark on the surface. Is our dishwasher scrubber too harsh? I don't think it will affect the cooking quality, though.

I’d like to thank CSN Stores for sponsoring this review! (I was given the product, but was not compensated in any other way for my opinions.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Christmas List

Back in college, my roommate Kim and I discovered a little made-for-TV movie called The Christmas List. It's one of those so-bad-it's-good movies with classic moments, like the one where two twins (played by impossibly awful actresses) are buying perfume and one says, "But I don't want to smell like my sister." The movie stars Mimi Rogers as Melody, a department store perfume saleslady who has "the nose". She can ask you a series of questions (like, what is your favorite flower?) and instantly know what scent is perfect for you.

image from here
One night, Melody makes a Christmas list. It's just for fun, she thinks, so she puts down crazy stuff, stuff she wants but knows is unattainable (a car) and stuff she wants but won't allow herself to splurge on (pink fuzzy slippers). She then shows the list to her friend and co-worker who yanks the list from Melody's hands and puts it in the "mailbox" of the mall Santa Claus.

After Melody's list is "delivered" to Santa, things start happening to Melody. She starts getting the things on her list, although not necessarily in the ways she had hoped.

The whole thing is super cheesy but Kim and I loved this movie so much that we made it a point to watch it on TV every year while eating pizza and Oreos. We don't get to watch it together anymore and dumb old ABC Family is making it incredibly difficult for us to watch this movie on our own during the holiday season. The Christmas List used to be part of the 25 Days of Christmas programming and then it got moved to the COUNTDOWN to the 25 Days of Christmas programming in November. And now it seems that (according to this blog) instead of airing this wonderful movie, ABC Family is choosing to air ridiculous crap like The Dog Who Saved Christmas (vomit), Home Alone 4 (didn't know they made that many...) and the entire Harry Potter saga (what do those movies have to do with Christmas?). That doesn't mean that The Christmas List won't air. It might, just not as part of this special programming. Last year (or maybe it was the year before) I was home (don't know why - I think it was a Monday??) and I turned on TV to watch while I ate lunch and The Christmas List was on!

Why don't I just buy the movie and watch it whenever I want? BECAUSE THEY DON'T PRODUCE THIS MOVIE ON VHS OR DVD. Seriously. You don't know how much this stresses me out.

Anyway, the point of all of this is this: In the spirit of lame Christmas movies, I decided to make my own Christmas List chockfull of stuff that's kind of unrealistic in terms of me getting it, as well as stuff that I want but just haven't bought for myself.

1. The Christmas List on DVD (Come on already!!!)
2. anything from my wish list:
3. a new car
4. a gift subscription or a scrapbook kit from any of the following kit clubs:
5. nude and black trouser socks
6. a Clip it Up
7. these cute TOMS shoes in a size 7
8. white socks to wear with tennis shoes (Is it sad that I don't buy myself socks?)
9. gold flats (still miss my old broken pair)
10. brown kitten heels
11. new black kitten heels
12. braces/Invisalign
13. trip to Germany
14. more colorful flats!
15. Old Navy/GAP gift cards
16. massage
17. work from home
18. mini curling iron
19. Whole Foods/Trader Joe's gift cards
20. wreath storage holder
21. Dr. Scholl's insoles and heel cushions
22. 12x12 scrapbook albums
23. mailing labels
24. supportive walking around the house shoes/sandals
25. Tupperware containers for cereal, chips, cookies, etc.
26. a remodeled master bathroom
27. new cabinets and countertops in the kitchen - and I want the kitchen painted in Martha Stewart colors, the kind on her Macy's kitchen collection
28. Pur two-stage water filters
29. a new dining room set
30. book reading light - sometimes I get on the bus and the seat light doesn't work, so then I can't read because it's dark outside
31. Catwalk by TIGI Sleek Mystique Blow Out Balm
32. paddle brush (for hair)
33. to win a good Mega Millions or Powerball

So what's on your Christmas List? Go crazy! You never know...