Saturday, January 30, 2010

American Wife and a Huge Sandwich

"Certainly picturesque towns can be found in New England or California or the Pacific Northwest, but I can't shake the sense that they're too picturesque. On the East Coast, especially, these places - Princeton, New Jersey, say, or Farmington, Connecticut - seem to me aggressively quaint, unbecomingly smug, and even xenophobic, downright paranoid in their wariness of those who might somehow infringe upon the local charm. I suspect this wariness is tied to the high cost of real estate, the fear that there might not be enough space or money and what there is of both must be clung to and defended. The West Coast, I think, has a similar self-regard - all that talk of proximity to the ocean and the mountains - and a beauty that I can't help seeing as show-offy. But the Midwest: It is quietly lovely, not preening with the need to have its attributes remarked on. It is the place I am calmest and most myself."
- American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld

You HAVE to read this book. It is sooooooooooo good. I just finished it today and I loved it! It's all about the life of a first lady and it's loosely based on the life of former first lady Laura Bush. I had to Wikipedia her after reading this book and I discovered that a lot of what was in this fiction book is indeed TRUE. The details surrounding certain events, however, have been fictionalized but my oh my. I can't even tell you about one thing that I never knew actually happened to Laura Bush b/c it would ruin the story for you when you read the book AND YOU WILL READ THIS BOOK!

In non-book news, Danae and I met for dinner Friday night after work to clog our arteries and gain 50 pounds. This is the Something Different sandwich at Junior's: roast beef between two potato latkes and au jus sauce (or gravy, if you wish) for dipping. The thing was bigger than my mouth. I finished one latke and all my beef, while Danae finished both latkes and took home her leftover beef. Delicious? Yes. A once a year (heck, maybe every five years) occurrence? Oh yes.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Scrapbook Company in Town...

... and you could win products from it! Just head over to Red Oak Lines and leave a comment stating that you are a fan of Kiki Art. That's it! So easy! For more chances to win, link this giveaway on your blog!

Even if you've never heard of Kiki Art before (like me), comment that you're a fan anyway because you'll definitely become one. Check out all the cool stuff at the Kiki Art website.

Hurry! You have until 1/28 to enter!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Month, Another Allure Magazine Prize



You got that right! I won that super cute eco-friendly make-up case (from Alicia Silverstone's line!) just by entering a contest in Allure magazine. Every month, the magazine does about five days of giveaways. All you have to do is be one of the first 500 responders to enter at 12 p.m. EST on the Allure website. I've won so much stuff from entering the contests! It also helps that my job requires me to be in front of a computer every minute I'm there, so it's super easy to just log on real quick at noon and enter the contests. :) You guys should check it out! Just, ya know, don't enter before I do. ;) Thanks.

In other news: I just wanted to showcase some recent scrapbook layouts I did using templates from Ideas for Scrapbookers.




I just love the inspiration I get from that site! And the templates are so easy to print out and use! If you can trace and cut, you can use the templates!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Romancing the Stone on a Friday Night

While I have yet to get my hands on a cool Mosh Posh scrapbook kit (they sell out so fast and I'm trying to cut back on my scrapbook spending), I am a follower of the Mosh Posh blog. It showcases a lot of neat things, including sketches. I tried my hand at the January sketch and this is what I came up with:





I took what was a one-page LO and turned it into two by rearranging the sketch for the second page. I'm quite pleased with the way this turned out. And even more pleased that I was able to use up some stuff that had been sitting in my stash for far too long. Like the letter stickers - try as I might, I just can't throw out letter stickers. Even if I have no more vowels left, I think, "Well, maybe I can make something with this..." Like what??? You can't make words without vowels unless you are Welsh! So I should just throw this stuff away! (I actually had thrown away the blue 3 and its accompanying letters and numbers, but fetched it out of the trashcan because I knew it was exactly what I wanted on this LO. Will it go into the trash again? Well, I have enough numbers to make "2010" so maybe that will come in handy in the future...right? Gah!)

Anyway, I need to be better about getting rid of unused stuff in my scrapbook stash because when it comes down to it, I just don't have room for it all. And when my husband and I move to a place where I will have more room, do I really want to be lugging all this crap around still? So I either need to finally use it or get rid of it. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Any suggestions for just letting go of stuff and moving on?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where are all the crafts?

So I know lately I've been doing mainly cooking and scrapbooking blogs. Where is all the crafty stuff, you might be wondering? I do have some projects on my list of things to do, but I just don't feel like starting them yet for a variety of reasons. First, I really have no room to hang or put anything new that I might make. Second, since my husband and I are trying to sell our place, we need to keep it looking spotless - basically as if no one were living there - so a craft project might just create all sorts of new clutter. I don't think there is a third reason, so I'll just say, if you want to see more craft projects, then pray that my husband and I can sell our current place in a decent amount of time so that we can move into a new, bigger place!!!

Speaking of things I wish I had room for - check out this gorgeous fireplace that Erin (and her hubby) over at Rare and Beautiful Treasures put together. Oh how I would love to have a fireplace and mantel!



They found the mantelpiece at a scrapyard, then repainted it. They also adhered those neat tiles themselves and added the mirror up on top. Fantastic!

Now that's a true do-it-yourself project! Have any of you undertaken anything similar? I'd love to see the results of your hard work!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marshmallow Cereal Bars



I made these for book club tonight. Only problem is, book club was canceled. Oh well. More marshmallow cereal bars for me! (We were reading The Remains of the Day, in case you are interested. I wasn't so much a fan.)

I've never really been a reader of Slashfood. Until, that is, I came across the Marshmallow Cereal Bars recipe posted on the site (it's actually taken from the Cheerios website). And because I had a surplus of mini marshmallows and Honey Nut Cheerios in the pantry, I decided to try out the recipe!

Well, it wasn't AS easy as it seemed. I don't really remember making Rice Krispies treats as a kid (Mom, did we ever??) and I certainly never made them as an adult. So I didn't really have a point of reference going into this recipe. If I make it again, which I probably will, I would do at least one thing differently: make more. My mixture didn't even fit a whole 9x13 baking pan! I'd probably double the recipe next time to remedy this. I mean, I want nice and thick cereal bars. But to spread the mixture out evenly throughout the entire 9x13 pan would have given me super skinny bars. No thanks.

Even just making the recipe as is, I also thought that 5 cups of Cheerios seemed way too much. I stopped at 3 cups. So if I doubled it, I'd try 6 cups and see how that looked. It just didn't look like there was enough marshmallow mixture to go around all of those Cheerios.

Oh, and I used Honey Nut Cheerios, not plain Cheerios. So... yeah.

Also, when the directions say to quickly put the Cheerios into the marshmallow mixture - DO IT FAST! Don't even take time to read. Measure out your Cheerios while the marshmallow mix is in the microwave so that you are ready to go ahead of time. That marshmallow stuff starts to harden real quick.

Alright, ready? GO:

Cheerios Marshmallow Bars
(from the Cheerio's website)
3 tbsp butter
4 1/2 cups (about 1 package) mini marshmallows
5 cups plain Cheerios

Grease or butter a 9x13-inch pan and one side of a large sheet of wax or parchment paper.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and the marshmallows. Microwave on high at 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until smooth. Quickly fold in Cheerios and pour into prepared pan.
Press into place using the greased wax or parchment paper, making an even layer.
Allow to cool before cutting into 20 bars.
Makes 20.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm a Winner!

Okay, do you feel like you're being overloaded with posts? I've been on here every day for the past, like, four days! I know!!!

But I had to get on here again to, again, toot my own horn! Just found out last night that one of my scrapbook layouts was chosen as the winner of a challenge over at the Twisted Sketches blog! Yahoo! That means that at some point in the coming months, I'll get to be a guest "sister" designer on the blog. Totally honored.

The layout I did was for the Ephemera challenge. Basically we had to do a layout using the provided sketch and incorporating ephemera - tickets, pamphlets, postcards, etc. I chose to do a layout using all of my husband's doctor things from when he was sick on our honeymoon. Instead of using actual scrapbook papers, I used the doctor's forms as the paper. I got to use a really cute "prescription" journaling tag from 7 Gypsies. I thought that tied things together nicely. The end result turned out decent considering the doctor's papers I had to work with were all a yucky yellow color. But I did manage to use my ephemera in a unique way, I think. And like I said in my original entry - if you get sick on our honeymoon, I will save EVERYTHING.

Check out my LO here (scroll down to sketch #27) and see all the other winners from the past several challenges. Lots of really nice work!! So honored to have been picked!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Scrapbook Challenge!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr day! Is anyone off of work today like me? Well, I just popped on here right quick to let you know about a scrapbooking challenge over at Candy Shoppe Designs. It's the In With the New challenge - use new or new to you stuff in your scrapbook stash. Anyway you want! Super easy and a super way to use up some stuff that's been sitting around before you go out and buy new stuff. Deadline is January 31, so get scrapping! Here's what I'm entering into the challenge:


Cheesy
by PopGoestheLaLa
Scrapbook.com

Used up a bunch of new stuff and old stuff and got some inspiration from a LO on the American Crafts blog. They've been posting some really cool 30-minute LOs lately.

Alright, back to reading a book for book club, making Rice Krispies treats using Cheerios, and scrapbooking while watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents on our Roku! Have a great day!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins = Yum!




The above ingredients are just a few that you'll need to replace traditional flour in this delicious recipe for gluten-free blueberry muffins!

I stumbled upon the blog for the Gluten-Free Girl and was checking out some of the recipes she's made when I saw one for blueberry muffins. It didn't look that difficult, so I thought I'd try it out and my husband and I could have gluten-free pancakes, scrambled eggs, and blueberry muffins for dinner! And it wasn't that difficult! And they smelled so good baking! Try it out for yourself by accessing the original recipe here or go by my adapted version below:

10 tablespoons unsalted, soft butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups plain yogurt
1 cup blueberries (frozen are fine)
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375.

Combine all the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together, until just creamed. If you leave the stand mixer running as they are creaming, these muffins will not rise. Simply cream them until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg.

Add one half of the dry ingredients, mixing well. Add one-third of the yogurt and combine until well mixed. Add one-half of the remaining dry ingredients to the mixture, and combine. Continue this, alternating the yogurt and dry ingredients, until you have mixed both of them in, completely.

Add as many blueberries as you can.

Oil a muffin tin well, then sprinkle a little cornstarch or white rice flour on the bottom of each cup. Fill each space for muffin two-thirds full. Sprinkle the raw sugar over the top and set them in the oven.

Bake the muffins for about 35 minutes, or until the tops have browned and started to harden, and the entire house smells of warm blueberry muffins. If your sweetie wakes up from the smell, the muffins are done.

Makes 18 muffins.



Don't they look good? My first batch ended up kind of burnt, so I cooked the second and third batches for less time (25-30 minutes) than the recipe called for and they turned out fine. Just keep an eye on them until they look how you want them to look. I thought they tasted great. My husband said they reminded him of corn muffins. Either way, they are sweet and soft. Just perfect!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's a new year!


Can someone please tell me why Blogger posts some of my horizontal pictures vertical and how I can fix this? Thanks. Take the above picture, for example. ????

Anyway, that picture is of the way awesome RAK that I received from Sarah de Guzman over at Red Oak Lines. I won a random giveaway on her blog and this fun stash came in the mail this week! You should really check out her blog because she does giveaways quite often. And she's an awesome scrapbooker so you're sure to find some inspiration.

In other scrapbooking news, I whipped up a quick LO about my new year's resolutions this week. Yes, I know it's already mid-January but better late than never, right? Last year, I did poorly on my resolutions and was going to recycle them again this year, but I happened upon an article in Relevant magazine that suggested 10 resolutions to make this year. So using up some scraps, some new American Crafts sticker letters, and a picture of me that I had to have taken upon entering a building for a meeting (yes, I saved it for the express purpose of using it in a scrapbook LO... I'm a nerd), I created a LO listing those resolutions. Take a look:

1. Take the physical challenge. The article suggested that instead of saying, "I'll exercise more," you should give yourself a goal. Like running a marathon. I would really like to do the Fitness magazine half-marathon in April (but I'm going to a concert the night before so I'm not sure if that will work...) or at least find more 5Ks that are happening in my area. I love doing stuff like that, especially if it's for charity.

2. Memorize a chapter of the Bible.
I was thinking of 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 because it contains one of my most favorite verses (which I don't even know by heart. I have to look it up): "And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it."

3. Reduce your carbon footprint in one major way.
Ever since I read the book Hot, Flat, and Crowded, I've wanted desperately to get involved in more than just recycling. I'm still not sure what one major way I'd like to attempt, but I'm hoping that I can figure it out soon.

4. Learn to cook one mouth-watering dish. I'm kind of already one step ahead there.

5. Learn to pray a whole new way. I need to learn how to pray in a way that won't allow me to get distracted. I'm so bad at focusing! I'd love to try out a prayer book or something. Anyone know of any good ones?

6. Do something you've been putting off. How about writing a book? Or just writing anything for myself, actually. I've become that journalist in the movie Michael, with the manuscript tucked away in his desk and he doesn't do anything with it. Don't you like my 1990s movie reference?

7. Start a new relationship that's not about you. The magazine suggested doing Big Brothers/Big Sisters, which I did for a short time in high school, or volunteering at a camp, but I'm not so big on kids, although maybe that means I'm being too selfish. Hmm.

8. Do something that freaks you out. Offering food to a homeless person on the sidewalk? Maybe this year will be my year.

9. Reduce as much debt as possible. My husband and I are actually a-okay on this front. We kind of have to be debt-free, especially if we want to get pre-approved for a new home soon.

10. Donate your time to a cause that matters to you. I would like to do more than just giving of my money and volunteering. I would like to donate ALL of my time, particularly working to provide women in other countries with education because when you educate a woman, you help a village. Please read Half the Sky or even Three Cups of Tea. Or The Blue Sweater .(Mom, do you still have my copy?)

Alright, now that I've put those out there, maybe all of you can hold me accountable. What are your resolutions for 2010?

I'm off to work on resolution #4: gluten-free blueberry muffins FROM SCRATCH! Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gluten-Free Dessert for Everyone!

One positive of a gluten-free diet is that there are many foods out there that are naturally gluten free! That means that you don't have to buy expensive ingredients or sacrifice any taste. Take these Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies from the Gluten Free Everyday Cookbook by Robert Landolphi. The combination of peanut butter, Reese's Pieces, and chocolate chips minus any need for flour makes these cookies delicious and perfect for those with a gluten allergy and those without!

EDIT: I had posted the directions, but I'm not sure how copyright applies, so if you want to check out the recipe, go buy the book or check it out from your library or hit up Borders.com and you can read a sample (a very large sample) of the book from the Borders website, including this recipe!


These cookies are super good, super cheap (you might even have most of the ingredients already in your kitchen), and super easy to make, something that makes me very happy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fondue!


That's me spearing some bread in cheese fondue. I had my grrrr face on.

Tonight I ate at The Melting Pot for the first time EVER and it was DELICIOUS! Cheese fondue, a salad, meats, dessert fondue. Fantastic and filling.

I made them hold up their fondue forks. Yum, yum, yum!

Speaking of yum - just finished baking some gluten-free chocolate peanut butter cookies. Stay tuned for pictures and recipe!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Living Gluten Free

Yesterday afternoon we found out that my husband's blood work tested positive for Celiac Disease and the only way to treat this disease (it's really a food allergy) is to go on a gluten-free diet for the rest of his life. That means no wheat - bread, pasta, cereal, etc. - unless it is specially made to be gluten free—for the rest of his life. So basically, all of our grocery shopping will be done at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods from now on (and in the organic aisle of Stop 'n Shop when we're in a rush) and we'll either have to make certain foods from scratch (ever heard of rice flour and xanthan gum?) or shell out a few extra dollars for pre-made gluten-free bread so that my husband can continue to have pb&j sandwiches for lunch.

Judging from this blog, I'm sure you guys have guessed that I love to cook, so costs aside, I'm kind of excited for our new venture into more organic eating. I just bought a cookbook this morning (thanks for the coupon, Borders!) called The Everything Guide to Gluten-Free Cooking. It has a bunch of recipes that seem easy to make and will allow us to eat some our favorite foods but in new and healthier ways.

We are going to a nutritionist soon for help transitioning from eating a "normal" diet to a new gluten-free diet. This is a big lifestyle change for my husband so we need all the help and guidance we can get. (Last night we had to Google if he could eat products with whey and Reese's Pieces - he can.) After two months of being on the diet, my husband has to have an endoscopy and that will tell us for sure whether or not it is Celiac Disease.

I plan on sharing some of the new recipes we make on this blog (and I'll probably have to make a scrapbook page about it!!), so wish us luck these next two months as we go gluten free for good!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Featured Scrapper!

Just wanted to get on and talk about me real fast! This weekend I found out that I won the random giveaway at Red Oak Lines and will be receiving some fun new scrapping goodies soon. And the founder of Ideas for Scrapbookers emailed me and asked if she could feature some of my scrapbook pages on her blog because she liked the way I used some of her templates! So exciting and flattered that she liked what I did because I LOVE what she does! Go here to see my pages and a really cool Christmas card made by another scrapbooker. :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Don't Throw Away Those Christmas Cards!

Hohoho
by PopGoestheLaLa
Scrapbook.com

If you are like me, the Christmas decorations came down this weekend. And that included the Christmas cards that I put on display. Every card we received was attached to our twig for all to see! I like saving my cards and putting them in my scrapbook, but when you receive 20 cards, that can take up a lot of space in a scrapbook! So this year, I cut my Christmas cards into 3x3 squares and cropped my Christmas pictures to 3x3 squares and then placed them all on a page together. It's a great way to showcase and remember the cards you got. Plus, it's a money-saver. I didn't have to go out and buy more Christmas scrapbook stuff. The cards became the "paper" and embellishments. Just an idea if you still have a pile of Christmas cards but don't know how to save them. And if you already threw out the cards, well, just bookmark this blog entry for next year! Or use this idea for other holidays and occasions - Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, birthdays.

I hope everyone is having a great and crafty 2010 so far!