Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy GAL-entine's Day!

There is no official GAL-entine's Day. I just saw it in an episode of Parks and Recreation last year and thought it would be fun to recreate in real life. Essentially, it's a day in the month of February for the ladies to get together and brunch. So that's what I did yesterday morning.

I met up with my friends Lauren and Danae for brunch at a place called The Turning Point. Great views of New York. The place is right across the river from Manhattan.

It was a nice day out. Kind of cold, but very sunny. So I didn't mind the 20-something-minute walk from the train station to the restaurant. Lauren's ears sort of did, but... we were warm and inside and eating delicious food in no time.

And here is something else fun:
Outside my window: Well, it's dark outside now so I can't really see anything. There are probably deer wandering around leaving footprints in the snow.

I am thinking: about how much I enjoyed the movie Easy A. And also how cool it would be if Liz Lemon was a real person so we could talk German to each other.

We are learning: about the stuff happening in Wisconsin. Best quote: "Scott Walker for president... of Libya."

I am thankful for: WebMD, but not for making everyone completely paranoid.

From the kitchen: My husband made us hamburgers and fries tonight for dinner.

I am going: to get a massage tomorrow and eat at Panera (St. Louis Bread Co. to the cool people) using gift cards for both.

I am reading: Well, I just finished reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave. It was pretty good, but a little violent.

I am creating: a birthday card to have around for the next person's birthday and a scrapbook layout about GAL-entine's Day

I am hoping: that we win the lottery tonight!

I am hearing: LCD Soundsystem

Around the house: There is a laundry basket with folded clothes at my feet. I'll bring it into the bedroom eventually. I also need to find a better home for my snow and rain boots.

One of my favorite things: Chocolate chip pancakes

A few plans for the rest of the weekend: Buying milk, playing video games with my husband, chilling out, doing my nails, watching TV

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Rocket Summer mini book

I don't know if I've mentioned on this blog how much I enjoy the band The Rocket Summer. Or how much I desperately want this T-shirt. I had hoped to put it on my Christmas wish list, but alas, it wasn't available to order online at that time because the band was still touring and you could only get it at the shows and when I went to a show I didn't have any cash on me to buy it. But now it is available at The Rocket Summer's online store and oh how I pine for it in a size small. :) [My husband just told me that I never buy anything for myself so I should order this shirt right now. Hmm...]

In the meantime, I'm showing my enjoyment of The Rocket Summer by making a mini album of my favorite Rocket Summer song lyrics.

I can't really remember where or when I got this little album. I think it was in a prize pack that I won. At first I wasn't sure what to do with it. It's a tad small to put photos in and, unlike some other scrappers that make themed mini albums for their kids' birthdays or holidays, I do not have children and my husband refuses to have his picture taken so I can't make a themed mini album about his birthday. Instead, I thought it might be fun to do an album full of quotes, and, because I was listening to The Rocket Summer's last album non-stop at the time, it made sense to use those lyrics in the album.

This was a great way to use up some scrap paper and random embellishments. I typed up the lyrics in Word using the Typewriter font and then printed them out and cut them up. I'm planning on tying a ribbon to the album and hanging it from a bulletin board. But first I need a bulletin board. And before that we need to redo the office. All in good time. 

How do you use mini albums?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Honey Citrus Glazed Chicken Breasts

Found a new chicken recipe that I wanted to share with you all! It's Honey Citrus Glazed Chicken Breasts and I got the recipe from A Few Shortcuts. It only requires a few ingredients, which you might already have: honey, lemon juice, orange juice, salt.

I have to say, I actually hate orange juice. So after I decided to make this, I thought to myself, "Why?" But make it I did and it turned out great! The chicken was very tender and sweet. We had ours with Trader Joe's corn and warm potato salad. Gotta love naturally gluten-free dinners!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Valentine's Day recap

Wow, I've been pre-scheduling posts for so long, it feels weird to write a post in real time. But here it goes...

This is a layout I did for sketch 65 at Inspired Blueprints. I won some Bo Bunny papers through a blog hop at Scrapbooking from the Inside Out and was excited to use them for these pictures of our Valentine's Day weekend.

We had tickets to a Knicks v. Nets basketball game on Saturday. Unfortunately I had to work on Sunday, so we got a hotel room near public transportation to make it easier for me to get to work and get enough sleep, which I didn't get because NJTransit sucks. Anyway, Monday (Valentine's Day) I got home from work at 8:30 and my husband had bought me flowers! Yay!!!!!

Hope your Valentine's Day was good!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Praline Chicken

I've been making an effort to use our slow cookers (we have a six-quart for bigger things and a two-quart for smaller things) more often. Today's recipe utilizes both the stove and the slow cooker and is super easy to put together. The recipe is called Praline Chicken and it comes from the website A Few Short Cuts. I like this recipe because it's a fun new way to cook chicken and it requires few ingredients, many you probably already have in your fridge or pantry. The original recipe makes six servings but I halved everything because there's only two of us. I also used our two-quart slow cooker because this was a smaller meal. If you're making all six servings, you'll probably need a four- or six-quart slow cooker.

Here's what you need (remember, these measurements are for three servings):
1.5 chicken breasts cut into chunks
Creole seasoning (I couldn't find this at the grocery store so I bought Cajun seasoning, which I figure has to be close to Creole. Aren't they both from Louisiana?)
1 tbsp oil (I used vegetable oil because it was what we had on hand.)
1/4 cup maple syrup (We had just bought some of this a few weeks ago for gluten-free pancakes!)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

You can find the full list of directions at A Few Short Cuts. But here's a quick rundown. You simply coat the chicken chunks with the Creole seasoning and then brown all sides of the chicken in a skillet. Mix the maple syrup, brown sugar, and pecans in a bowl. Put everything into a slow cooker and cook on low for three hours or on high for 1.5 hours. (My times are different, too, because I was doing three servings instead of six.) That's it! We had ours with white rice and corn, but Amanda at A Few Shorts Cuts recommends serving on a bed of spinach with sweet potato fries. (The sweet potato fries recipe is in the same blog post. I married someone who does not like sweet potatoes, otherwise I would have totally made them because I LOVE them.)

This is one of A Few Short Cuts' Meal Deals, meaning you're not going to end up spending a lot to make this meal. And because everything cooks in the slow cooker, you're not going to spend as much time making it. That means more free time for scrapbooking! ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CSN Review - cell phone cover

So last month I went to AT&T to get a free phone upgrade and got myself a snazzy Pantech Link. It has a QWERTY keyboard and 3G network, which really means nothing to me because I do not have a text or data plan. But hey! If I ever get one I'll have the phone to go with it. Of course, by that time, the phone will be outdated, but whatever. That's not the point. The point is I wanted to keep this snazzy phone protected while being carried around in my purse every day. So when I was offered the chance to review something from CSN Stores, one of the things I chose was the Sabine Smart Phone Bag in purple from Golla.

I got the bag in three days and it fits my phone perfectly. (Don't forget to measure your phone so you know what size bag to get.) The color is pretty and I really like the flower design. There are small pockets for holding ID or credit cards and a carabiner clip so you can wear it on your belt loop or hook it to a backpack. If I had had this thing in college, it would have become my wallet/purse. It also comes with a removable lanyard if you want to wear the bag around your neck. The bag is soft, so I know that my phone is padded and won't break while in my purse.

There are several other colors to choose from, such as brown, black, green, and red. If you've got a new phone or are looking for something new to put your phone in, I would highly recommend this nifty little bag.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Non-Holiday Holiday Layout

I know the holidays are very over, but some of you might still be scrapping those pictures or some of you might have Valentine's Day pictures to scrap. Whatever holiday you're focusing on now, here's a tip: you don't have to use holiday-themed paper. Check out my layout to the left. This picture was taken in December, but I didn't use Christmas papers or even winter-themed papers. At the time, it would have involved me going out to the store and buying new supplies. Instead, I merely worked with what I had. I think the springy papers and embellishments create a happy-feeling layout, which is what I want to convey. How about you guys? Do you always stick to themed paper?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cheesy Meatballs

No picture to share of these meatballs—we ate them too fast! Hopefully you enjoy them as much as we did.

The original recipe, from a past issue of Fitness magazine (and apparently unavailable online) is for Cheesy Turkey Meatballs. I only buy the meat that is on sale and, unfortunately, ground turkey was not as much of a bargain as the Family Buy of regular ground beef. So my version is a tad different than the original. You use whatever ground meat you wish.

Here are the directions for my improvised version:
1. Mix 1/2 pound lean ground meat with 1 shake of the onion powder container (sorry - no exact measurements for that one), 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 egg, 1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. (It's messy but using your hands to mix it all together works best.)
2. Form eight meatballs (I got nine), placing a 1/2-inch mozzarella cube in the center of each. (I used slices of mozzarella cheese—just divide two slices into four pieces each. Each meatball gets stuffed with one of the smaller pieces.)
3. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish (I use vegetable oil) and place meatballs into dish.
4. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

The original recipe wants you to serve the meatballs with chopped zucchini and whole wheat orzo. Well, orzo is not gluten-free and I don't have time for zucchini, so we just had our meatballs with white rice. What I'd like to try next time is serving the meatballs over a bed of gluten-free spaghetti with red sauce. In fact, I might just use my favorite Italian meatball recipe (from Ragu) and put mozzarella cheese in them. Yummy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kerneless Caramel Corn

The featured recipe for this Friday is for Kerneless Caramel Corn, courtesy of KariAnn. Now, I wasn't able to make this one for myself. I had difficulty finding Puff Corn at my grocery store. I wanted the Frito-Lay Chester's Puff Corn because it is gluten-free but they didn't carry it! Boo!

Anyway, KariAnn highly recommends this as a snack to bring to picnics or scrapbook crops. So if you make it, let me know! Enjoy!

Kerneless Caramel Corn

2 bags Puff Corn (in chip aisle)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups semipacked brown sugar
1 c butter
1/2 c dark corn syrup
pinch salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Put Puff Corn in large roasting pan.
2. In a saucepan, mix everything except the baking soda. Boil for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat. Add baking soda.
4. Stir mixture over Puff Corn and bake.
5. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
6. Cool on baking rack or wax paper.


And thanks again to KariAnn for being a part of Cook Scrap Craft this week. Don't forget to share with us your layouts so we can see how KariAnn inspired you! And be sure to visit her blog and gallery for even more inspiration. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Inspiration from KariAnn

I really wanted to try to make some clean and simple layouts based on KariAnn's work. Sometimes I get too overwhelmed with adding just one more thing and then just one more thing after that. But I don't need all of that stuff! So here is a layout from KariAnn that I used as inspiration:

Super simple and easy to put together. Here is one more:

Both layouts took me maybe 20 minutes to put together. So if you have tons of pictures to get through, why not try this technique? Let KariAnn inspire you this week! There are tons more layouts on KariAnn's gallery and blog, so check them out. Share your layouts with us in the comments!

And come back on Friday for a fun snack recipe!  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting Scrappy With... KariAnn

I'm happy to introduce you to another one of my favorite scrapbookers, KariAnn Sweeney. I came to know KariAnn's scrappy work from her gallery, where she goes under the username KariAnn. From there, I began following her blog, It's a Wonderful Life, where she shares her scrapbook layouts, including her work for the Scrap Freak design team, and so much more. What I love most about KariAnn's scrap work is the non-fussiness to it. Her layouts are clean, neat, and beautiful. Some of them are very simple (perhaps one photo and a few strips of patterned paper) but they carry such an impact. Check out KariAnn's blog and gallery and keep reading to learn more about KariAnn.
click here to see this on KariAnn's blog

When did you start scrapping?
1994 with construction paper and puffy paint. Wow, have things changed! My style has evolved from busy two-page layouts to a more clean, linear look. My work tends to be simple and clean with the focus on the photo. I love layouts with white space and an uncluttered look. To me the photo(s) should be the focal point of the layout with the journaling as a compliment to the story. I like to find a way to use product/embellies in a way that doesn't overpower the subject but highlights it at the same time.

What are your favorite scrapbook manufacturers?
I love Jillibean Soup, October Afternoon and American Crafts.

Where do you get your creative inspiration?
I find most of my inspiration through online scrapping galleries, magazines and television.

How often do you scrap about yourself?
I make a conscious effort to scrap photos of me. I think it's important. A couple of years ago I started a Book of Me and create at least one layout a month for that album.

That's great! Where do you get all your scrapping done?
I scrap in my "office", which is my dedicated space in my basement. It's not a huge space, but it's mine. It's located right off of our family room so I'm able to create while the kids play.

I prefer to scrap in the morning but with three kids under age 5 it's not always possible. Lately I'm creating at night once the girls go to bed. 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there.

Any tips on keeping scrap supplies organized?
click here to see this layout at KariAnn's gallery
My organization strategy is always evolving. I do a clean sweep every three months of my scrap supplies. I organize my supplies into three piles: Keep, Store, Donate. The Keep pile contains those items I want to use sooner than later. I keep these items at close reach. The Store pile contains items I want to keep but may not use right away such as mini-albums, cardstock, etc. These get stored out of sight. The last pile, the Donate pile, contains all the things I know I won't use.

That's a good system. I really need to do that! Alright, last question: Why do you scrap?
I know everyone says it, but scrapbooking and crafting truly are a passion of mine. There is something intrinsically selfish about scrapbooking and making things by hand that I just love. It's such a rush of warmth when you give a gift that you made and see how it makes the recipient feel. I'm proud to admit that I've been known to dream about scrapbook layouts to the point where I'll wake up to sketch something or write down a title idea before going back to bed. I scrapbook because these everyday moments are important enough to remember.


Thanks for being a part of Cook Scrap Craft this week, KariAnn! Don't forget to visit KariAnn's blog, It's a Wonderful Life, and gallery and then come back here on Wednesday to see more of KariAnn's scrapbooking!

Also, if there are any scrappers that you'd like to see featured or any specific questions you have for the featured scrappers (both future and past), let me know in the comments!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Easy Snack

I love dried apricots. Not the organic kind from Whole Foods. Those are gross. I know they are like that because they are not made with nasties, but the nasties are what make dried apricots so delicious (and orange) to me. So I will eat them that way. Plus they are cheaper than organic.

Anyway, I saw a quick and easy recipe in the latest issue of Fitness magazine for Dark Chocolate Pistachio Apricots, which I immediately cut out because who doesn't love anything dipped in chocolate? Lucky for me, dried apricots were on sale at the grocery store so I picked up a bag along with a bag of Hershey's dark chocolate chips and got to work making this scrumptious and healthy snack. (Yes, it is healthy. Apricots are a fruit and dark chocolate contains anti-oxidants.)

It's really easy. You melt the dark chocolate (The Hershey's bag had instructions on how to melt the chips in the microwave or stove top. I did mine in the microwave.) and then dip one half of each apricot (I used the whole bag of apricots.) into the melted chocolate. Set the apricots on a wax paper covered baking sheet and place in the fridge for awhile to let the chocolate harden.

You're like, "Wait! Aren't there supposed to be pistachios on these?" Uhm yes, but I didn't buy any. I actually discovered some chopped walnuts in the pantry so I think next time I might try sprinkling some of those on the apricots, but they taste great without any nuts. If you do go the nut route, after dipping one half of an apricot in the chocolate, sprinkle it with the chopped pistachios.

In scrappy news, the latest challenge is up on Scrap Outside the Box. You've got to use popsicle sticks. I had a layout all sketched out but I couldn't find any popsicle sticks at my house or at the store! Hopefully you can find some (hint - did you save the popsicle sticks that came in your rub-ons packaging?) because if you participate in this challenge you are eligible to win an iTunes gift card! Sweetness! Link up your layout here so we can all see it! Good luck!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Promises She Keeps - Book Review

Is it possible to achieve immortality? Could there be someone out there who is immortal but doesn't know it?

In The Promises She Keeps by Erin Healy, Porta, an art gallery owner, believes that art saves lives. But what she really wants is for something or someone to save her life, to keep her from dying, to keep her alive forever. Porta discovers a young woman named Promise, a singer with Cystic Fibrosis who has survived a series of freak accidents. To Porta, Promise is the one. But then there is Chase, an autistic artist who falls in love with Promise and knows he must save her from dying.

The book started off kind of random for me. It took awhile for connections between all the characters to be made. Once I understood the relationships better, I did enjoy the story. It's sort of Christian sci-fi. There's a little bit of religion thrown in with a little bit of supernatural. I was left guessing at how the book would end - definitely not how I pictured it! If the sci-fi genre isn't your thing, I wouldn't recommend this book. Parts of the story can come across as just plain weird. But it's an interesting novel concept with an interesting message in the end.

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.”