Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like ... Easter!

I broke out the Easter decorations already. We don't have much - some stuffed animals (including a stuffed Peep) and Easter baskets and Easter grass and plastic eggs. I really wanted a wreath to hang on our front door and I found a great one at Target in the $1 section. It was actually $2.50 but it was worth it.


I had actually kind of wanted to make a wreath like this myself, but when I saw this one at Target, I knew I would never be able to make my own egg wreath for $2.50. So I bought the pre-made one! Keep in mind, I have two Targets in the area and only one of them was carrying this wreath in the $1 section. The other Target either hadn't put out its cheap Easter stuff yet or just wasn't carrying them. So if you can't find this at your Target, try another Target. 

What kind of Easter decorations do you have?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Monday 3/28

Well I had hoped to share some scrapbook stuff with you but I kept forgetting to take pictures for a layout I was going to do and so I never got the layout done. Instead, and because so many of my favorite blogs do this, I'm going to share with you what we are eating for dinner this week. It's nothing fancy, mind you. We didn't do grocery shopping this week really. We're just using what we already have in our freezer/fridge/pantry.

Monday: pasta and meat in red sauce
Tuesday: tuna sandwiches
Wednesday: hamburgers with fries (Most Ore Ida varieties are gluten-free)
Thursday: meatloaf sliders
Friday: scrambled eggs

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Once Upon a Sketch


Do you like sketches and scrapbook sketch sites? So do I and there is a new sketch site in town. It's called Once Upon a Sketch, and it's an international sketch challenge blog. On the 1st and 15th of every month, they'll release a sketch with some journaling criteria and you'll have two weeks to complete a layout. Winners will be chosen shortly after each challenge ends.

Sounds pretty cool, right? What's even cooler is that there is a giveaway going on right now. Check out the blog, meet the design team, and find out how you can win a March My Scrapbook Nook kit. The giveaway ends March 30!


Have a scrappy weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Points.com update

Just wanted to give you a guys an update about Points.com. Remember I posted about them a few weeks ago? Well, I did get my Old Navy gift cards in the mail less than two weeks after I redeemed my Continental OnePass miles. It took a week for Points.com to send me an email with instructions on how to redeem my "money" at GiftCertificates.com, which kind of annoyed me at first*, but then I realized that this allowed me to change my gift card order if I wanted to. I didn't change my order (mama needs new clothes!) and just a few days later, my Old Navy gift cards were in my mailbox! I used one of them already and had no problems with it at check-out. So if you're trying to use up some frequent flier miles, then definitely check out Points.com to see what your gift card redemption options are.

*Not gonna lie about the main source of my annoyance ... I redeemed my miles for a $75 Old Navy gift card and when I went to GiftCertificates.com, they didn't have a $75 gift card. They had a $25, $50, and $100. And I was like "This is bunk!" And then I realized that DER I could order one $25 and one $50 card and get my $75. Oh me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Counterfeit Kit

So I came across this cool blog called Counterfeit Kit Challenge. Every month the blog picks a kit from a popular scrapbook kit company and then challenges its readers to create a "counterfeit kit" using supplies you already own. It really gets you thinking creatively and using up scraps! There are a lot of chances to win prizes at the end of the month (blog hop, mini challenges, posting a picture of your kit, etc.) so if you play along, you might win something. 


This month's chosen kit is actually several kits. Studio Calico has five kits available this month (one main kit and four add-ons) and Counterfeit Kit Challenge wants you to make one or all of your own kits based on Studio Calico's.


Because this was my first time participating, I chose to make only one kit based on the Studio 
Calico main kit. Here is what I came up with using stuff in my stash:





I quickly got to work creating layouts and a bunch (a WHOLE bunch) of cards (and that travel ephemera folder that I posted about last week):




You've still got time to participate in this fun challenge! So what are you waiting for? Go through your stash and let the Studio Calico kits inspire you! All the info for March can be found on the Counterfeit Kit Challenge site. It's a lot of fun and I'm so glad that I was able to use up stuff in my scrap stash.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Conversation with God for Women - Book Review

Imagine a real heart-to-heart conversation with God - all your questions for Him, and all His answers for you.


This is the premise behind A Conversation with God for Women by Marcia Ford. All the questions that women have for God are answered in this book in a conversational tone, almost as though you, God, and Jesus (along with some other Biblical folk) are sitting down together over a cup of coffee. I like the way Ford wrote this book, using scriptures from the Bible but putting them in a more modern-day voice.

However, I don't really see how this book is specifically for women. A lot of the questions could be asked by any faith seeker, male or female. Questions like "Do we have to go to church?", "Is there a purpose to life?", and "Why don't you prevent disasters from happening?" are all questions that everyone has asked from time to time. They aren't gender-specific questions. Ford tries to tie the questions and women together in short introductions to each chapter, but it's not just women who do a lot of worrying or wonder if there is a right way to pray. And I think the "What about women in ministry?" question is one that women and men both should read.

I think if you took off the for Women part of the title, you'd have a really great book of faith-based questions that could serve as an introduction for people new to the Christian faith or for people who are stumbling in their faith and need Biblical reassurance in a way that they can understand. Really, this book is for any Christian who has ever stopped to wonder, "Yeah, God. Why this?"

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com 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.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mexican Wedding Cookies

I have a friend who is getting married this summer and her birthday was last month. So I decided to make her Mexican Wedding Cookies as part of her gift. I saw this recipe online (don't know how I found it) and thought the cookies looked good, but they are not gluten-free so I knew I wouldn't make them for us. But for my engaged friend - how appropriate!

Of course, I have no idea if she received the cookies or not. She may have but I also don't know if they were still good. I mailed them a week before her birthday and by her birth date, she had still not received them. Thanks a lot USPS.

Anyway, I tasted one of the cookies and it was good. Kind of nutty and there is powdered sugar on top so they are also sweet. I'm a fan, so hopefully you will be, too. You can find the directions at Pati's Mexican Table. Good luck! Don't mail them USPS, though.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Super Easy Taco Seasoning

Back when my husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease, I made a huge effort to find gluten-free recipes so that we could still eat the foods we loved. One of those recipes was for taco seasoning. Turns out, most of the taco seasonings that come in the boxes with the tacos are gluten-free (at least the ingredients list checks out) but I wanted to be on the safe side. Sometimes we just buy the tacos (they are made from corn, not flour) and use this taco seasoning. And we always have leftover tacos so instead of going out and buying another pre-made packet of seasoning, we just use this recipe. I can't remember where I found it online, but this recipe tastes just as good as the kind from Ortega or Old El Paso.

Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper

Directions:
1. Cook the meat and drain. Return to skillet.
2. Stir in 1 cup of water and the spices.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

We don't use all the spices because there are two of them that we don't have. I'm too cheap to go out and buy spices that I won't use all the time (spices are expensive!), so we just go without and it still tastes fine. I think the two spices we omit are cayenne and cumin. So if you have to leave some stuff out, it's okay! Enjoy taco night!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Vacation Pocket Organizer

I like to save ephemera from vacations: ticket stubs, pamphlets, etc. But I don't really have a good way of keeping everything together and organized. But then I saw a cool tutorial on the Ideas for Scrapbookers blog about creating a pocket organizer for vacations. All you need is a manila folder and scrapbook supplies. Here is my finished pocket organizer opened up:



And here is the cover:


The tutorial goes into a little more detail, but this is all I need for my pocket organizer. Each pocket will hold a day's worth of receipts, ticket stubs, postcards, etc., so that when I return from vacation, I'll have everything organized and ready to scrap! Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

Well, this would have been the perfect treat during football season, but maybe you want to make it during March Madness. Jessica submitted this fun snack recipe, which sounds easy and delicious. Let me know if you make it! And don't forget to visit Jessica's blog and Scrapbook.com gallery for more great inspiration! Thanks, Jessica, for being part of Cook Scrap Craft this week!


FRANK'S® REDHOT® BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

INGREDIENTS:
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup any flavor FRANK'S® REDHOT® Sauce
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cans (12.5 oz. each) SWANSON® White Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained

DIRECTIONS:
HEAT oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.
MIX in salad dressing, Frank's RedHot Sauce and cheese. Stir in chicken. 

BAKE 20 min. or until mixture is heated through; stir. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers, chips or vegetables.



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Inspiration from Jessica

I've got quite a few of Jessica's layouts sketched in my scrapbook sketch books. Here are just two that I've recently scraplifted.


I really liked the design on this one, so I let it inspire me to create....


Many months ago I saw this one in Jessica's gallery:


So I flipped it and did this:


Your challenge this week is to let Jessica's work inspire one of your layouts! Visit Jessica's Scrapbook.com gallery to see her work and pick a layout that you like. (It may be hard because her layouts are all so good!) Put a link to your layout in the comments below so we can all see what you did!

There's more to come this week, so stop by again on Friday for the perfect weekend sports-watching snack.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Getting Scrappy With... Jessica!

Welcome to another installment of Getting Scrappy With... Today begins a three-month stint of scrappers whose names start with J. This month, we've got Jessica Harrington, or Jessica_ as she's known on Scrapbook.com. She's also known as Scrapbook.com's graphic artist and video demonstrator. (Must be a dream job working for Scrapbook.com!) She started scrapbooking after she began working at Scrapbook.com several years ago. I took a liking to Jessica's scrapbook work because she's got a really fun and funky style. I like the layering and grouping she does with paper and embellishments. And hopefully you will, too! You can find out more about her at her personal/family blog and see her work in her Scrapbook.com gallery. But first, let's find out more about Jessica!


How has your scrap style evolved over the years?


click here to see this in Jessica's Scrapbook.com gallery
My style changes with the trends, just like what I choose to wear or how I decorate my home. Scrapbooking is just like fashion... it changes fast! Aside from that fact, in the beginning I would spend hours on one layout, but now, I crank out a 12x12 page with photos/embellies/journaling in 30 minutes or less.


Impressive! Where do you get your creative inspiration?


This is a tough one. Sometimes I think it is just inside of me. But I'm sure what I see on a daily basis has to affect me as well: layouts at Scrapbook.com, commercials, billboard signs, fashion, etc.


What are some of your favorite scrapbook manufacturers?


Favorites right now are BasicGrey, Graphic45 and Tim Holtz.

Do you have a favorite technique that you use on layouts?



I love distressing/inking the edges of paper/photos. I do this almost every time. Another thing I do 90% of the time is edit my photos in some way with photoshop or other photo-editing software.


I've talked before on this blog about different photo editing programs such as Picnik. Those are a lot of fun to use! Where do you like to scrap?


I get the most scrapbooking done when I go to a crop at a friend's house. I also enjoy scrapbooking by myself, oddly enough, on the floor of my "scrap closet".


What does your scrap closet look like?


It's a small walk-in closet where I store all of my supplies, albums/mini-albums and photobooks. I'm definitely not an unorganized slob, but I also don't obsessively organize each little item.
click here to see this in Jessica's Scrapbook.com gallery


How do you stay organized?


I love my clip-it-up unit for stickers/embellishments. I also have a large plastic over-the-door shoe pocket hanger that I store all of my tools/inks/adhesives so I can easily see them.

Do you have any other crafty hobbies aside from scrapbooking?


I am a family/child photographer and I also LOVE home decorating and collecting antiques. And I'm a graphic designer for my "real" job.


That explains why your photos always look so good! How often do you scrap photos of yourself?


I try to do this often because I believe it is very important for history-sake and for self-esteem and self worth. All too often women/wives/mothers "lose who they truly are".


And in general, why do you scrap?


I love documenting our lives and am comforted by the fact that these memory books will stay in my family forever. I feel like a vacation or funny moment or occasion isn't complete unless it is scrapbooked. How will we every remember everything and just how GOOD life really is? I'm so thankful for the life I live with my family. 


***


I'm so grateful that Jessica was willing to be a part of Cook Scrap Craft this week. Don't forget to check out her Scrapbook.com gallery and family blog. And come back to Cook Scrap Craft later this week for lots more!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Three Things

Is it sad that the three things that made me happy this week were all food-related? (88 cent Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell, free editorial staff lunch at Brgr, smoothie with a coupon at Jamba Juice)

I've recently discovered three pretty neat websites that also make me happy.

1. First up is Points.com. I came across this website while trying to figure out how to use my American Airlines AAdvantage Miles before they expired. The American Airlines website said I could redeem my miles for gift cards. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and was taken to Points.com. On this site, you can keep track of your airline miles and reward points and redeem them for gift cards or cash, trade them with other Points.com users, or move miles/points from one account to another.

Of course, there are limitations. American won't let you do ANYTHING with your miles unless you have 25,000 of them or special Elite status. Well, if I had 25,000 miles I would be booking myself a flight...

Luckily, Continental doesn't have ANY restrictions, so I was able to use some of my OnePass miles for a $75 Old Navy gift card. The amount of miles required for redemption varies based on what you're trying to get and what airline miles or rewards points program you're using. I haven't gotten my Old Navy gift card yet (just redeemed my miles for it a few days ago) but I was happy with how easy Points.com was to use and the selection of gift cards. I didn't go in with high expectations, though. I just knew it would be another 50 years before I had enough miles to redeem for a flight with Continental and I really wanted to go clothes shopping.

As for my American AAdvantage miles - expired. I'm not paying $60 to keep them. Now I know what my preferred airline will be from now on.

2. The second website is on Etsy. Poppins Design is a cute little boutique of really fun cards that my friend Lauren makes using her amazing Photoshop skills. Check out the rock concert poster baby announcements! You can use your own photos and have Lauren create custom thank you notes, baby announcements, invitations, and so much more.

3. And last but not least is Jingle Belles. This is a new card-making challenge blog that gets you making one Christmas card per week so that by the time December rolls around, your cards are made and ready to be sent. Prompts at Jingle Belles range from sketches to color challenges. Here is a card that I made using one of the Jingle Belles sketches:


I plan on adding a family picture (as I always do) later, but if that's all I have to do come December, then I'm a happy camper. Check them out and get started on your holiday cards now!

Have you visited/used any of these sites? What do you think of them? Got any interesting websites to share with us? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CSN Stores Review - Waffle Maker

When my husband moved into his first place, his friends gave him a Cuisinart waffle maker. Now that's a good brand and we thought the waffle maker would be good, too. But when it said it was non-stick, it didn't really mean that (see picture to the right). Nor was it easy to clean and the waffle batter oozed out the sides and all over the counter—or the plate, which we eventually put underneath the waffle maker whenever we used it. A few weeks ago I wanted to make gluten-free waffles, so I pulled out our Cuisinart. I opened it up and it still had gluten waffle crumbs in it that were impossible to get out, so I knew from the get-go that my husband could never use this waffle maker because of cross-contamination. Sadness.

But then CSN Stores offered me a chance to review a product and I thought, "Let's get a second waffle maker so my husband can have waffles." So that is what I did. I went with a Proctor-Silex brand waffle maker. It makes square waffles instead of round ones and it also makes two at a time. So let's see how the waffles turned out on this new waffle maker, shall we?


Uhm, AWESOME. (The top waffle is a little deformed b/c I ran out of batter, but the bottom waffle is PERFECT, I swear.) The Proctor-Silex waffle maker says it is non-stick. AND IT IS. Check out the picture below to see what it looked like after making the first two waffles. THERE IS NOTHING LEFT IN THE WAFFLE MAKER. Also notice how there is no spillage. NONE. NADA. This waffle maker also cleans up nicely and folds up for easy storage. And the gluten-free batter worked just great with this waffle maker.
I'm so glad that I got this Proctor-Silex waffle maker. I actually just dumped our Cuisinart one. I tried making regular waffles for me on it and, well, take another look at the first picture. Would you want to waste your time cleaning up after that? I don't think so. From now on we eat only gluten-free waffles in our house!





Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mississippi Mud Brownies... sort of

Yeah, these didn't turn out so hot.

For the superbowl, I decided to make a gluten-free dessert. I found a recipe online for gluten-free Mississippi Mud Brownies at Hey, That Tastes Good. The picture on that blog looked really good. I don't know what happened to mine. But I share with you nonetheless.


Even though they look strange, these brownies did taste pretty good. The bottom layer is gluten-free brownie. Then there is a layer of melted marshmallow. Then nuts. Then melted dark chocolate. The dark chocolate/marshmallow portion didn't really stick very well to the brownie layer, which was what made the brownies look really bad. They were falling apart! Also, the marshmallow layer was super sticky and gooey, while the dark chocolate layer had hardened up. You needed a knife and fork to eat this dessert!

Everyone who ate them liked them (or so I think...). I thought they still tasted good. I mean, chocolate = good, no matter what. I'm not sure what to do differently next time, but I think there won't be a next time. This recipe just didn't work out for me so I'll stick to other desserts that I can make, or I'll make my brownies the Betty Crocker gluten-free way.