Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homemade Ice Pack

I made ANOTHER thing from Pinterest! I am really on a roll with making crafty projects, food, and now a homemade ice pack, courtesy of Pinterest.

After I stretch, I have to ice my hip/thigh.
The homemade ice pack seemed like a good idea to me because a) we didn't have an ice pack to use for injuries and b) I had pulled my IT Band, which I guess is a muscle in my thigh that runs from my hip to my knee. Part of my at-home physical therapy was to ice my leg every night for 15-20 minutes. Kind of hard to do with a lunch box cold pack. SO, I made my own large ice pack.

All you need is 1 part rubbing alcohol to 3 parts water inside a freezer bag. (To fill my bag, I did 6 parts water to 2 parts rubbing alcohol.) The rubbing alcohol gets cold but it doesn't freeze hard, which allows you to manipulate it. Science! My ice pack is green because the rubbing alcohol I purchased was green. It was green because it was for massage and contained menthol or something minty. I just picked it up and went with it. Now my ice pack smells minty, which is nice to smell while I'm lying on my side on my yoga mat for 20 minutes.

Click on the picture below for all the easy-peasy details:



And don't forget to follow me on Pinterest for other great crafts and homemade projects!
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quesadilla Casserole - Freezer Meal

I pinned something on Pinterest a few weeks ago that had the top 5 freezer meals. Because I was interested in starting to rely more on freezer meals during the week, I checked it out to see what those top 5 meals were. Then I made some of them! The first one we had was Quesadilla Casserole. And it was really good. The recipe comes from Joyful Momma's Kitchen, and you can find the other top 5 freezer meals at that link.

I didn't have to do too much to make this gluten-free. Instead of flour tortillas, we used corn tortillas. And I think they were six inches instead of eight inches as the original recipe calls for. Everything else is a spice/herb and then there's ground beef. It's very easy to put together, you freeze it, and then you thaw it and bake it in the oven. That's it!

Do you guys make freezer meals? What are some of your favorite recipes?

And don't forget to follow me on Pinterest to find more great freezer meals and other recipes!
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chicken Sausage and Rigatoni

Technically this recipe was supposed to star Johnsonville Three Cheese Italian Style Chicken Sausage. Here is why it doesn't: that sausage is not gluten-free.

So then it was supposed to star the gluten-free Johnsonville Pork & Chicken Sausage. Here is why it doesn't: my local A&P doesn't carry that kind of chicken sausage.

So here is what it DOES star: the always-gluten-free Premio Italian Style Chicken Sausage - Sweet. I love Premio sausage.

The recipe is also supposed to include a chopped red bell pepper and cooked broccoli. Well, I don't like cooked broccoli (give it to me RAW) and I'm not especially fond of eating peppers.

So here is what my very adapted recipe does include:

8 ounces of gluten-free pasta (rigatoni, penne, swirly kind - just not spaghetti or fettucini)
1 package of Premio Italian Style Chicken Sausage - Sweet
1/2 cup Italian dressing (we like Ken's)
grated Parmesan cheese

And here is how you do it:

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2. In large skillet, combine sausage and Italian dressing. Cook over medium heat until heated through.
3. Drain pasta. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Add the sausage to the pasta and toss.
5. Sprinkle with cheese.

If you want to sprinkle in some red pepper flakes at some point during the cooking process, be my guest. In fact, that's what I did, and it saved me time cutting up and de-seeding a stupid pepper.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Freezer Meals!

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen a picture I posted of me cooking freezer meals on a Sunday night. What are freezer meals, you ask? Freezer meals are meals you prepare all at once on Sunday night (or whenever you have time over the weekend), and then you put them in your freezer. During the week, your meals are already prepared and all you have to do is pop them in the oven!

I've pinned a bunch of freezer meal recipes on Pinterest, so that is where I started when I was looking for freezer meals last week. Now, before you get too excited, I was not very ambitious last week. On Sunday, I prepped one non-freezer meal (just cutting up chicken sausage) and then I did two freezer meals: Spinach Lasagna and Quesadilla Casserole. We weren't going to be home for dinner one night, and the other night we just had a very easy pasta recipe. So that was Monday through Friday taken care of!

One thing I know for sure is that I need to get some smaller baking pans so that I can cut these recipes in half and make two batches for freeze: one for the week and one for later!

I'll share more specific recipes with you later this week, so you too can start making freezer meals!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Party!

I can't express to you just how much I love love love love page kits. They make scrapbooking so easy. Everything is together, everything coordinates. EASY EASY EASY.

I made a "party" page kit a few months ago using items from my stash. I figured that if I found stuff that went together, I'd easily be able to scrap pictures of birthdays or, in the case of this layout, bachelorette parties.

This was a cute bachelorette party, and the matron of honor (the bride actually called her the Best Woman) really went all out to plan it. We did a scavenger hunt through a town in New Jersey, going store to store to find clues that would lead us to the next spot. Along the way, there was a free wine tasting and prizes that everyone who went to the party divvied up at the end. (I ended up with a cute yoga tank top and silver Bobbi Brown eye shadow. Yep, we went to Bobbi Brown's makeup studio.) The end was probably my favorite part - a chocolate tasting!! We sampled different chocolates from around the world, and each chocolate was supposed to be eaten a certain way. For example, one chocolate we had to just let melt on our tongues. It was delicious! There was a dinner after that, but I couldn't go. I'm sure it, too, was delicious!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ain't It Grand

I can't take any credit for the following two scrapbook layouts of my visit to the Grand Canyon. Why? Because I used a page kit and just EXACTLY copied the suggested layouts on the back of the kit. It was so easy. I probably got these two pages done in 20 minutes. Oh, and the page kit was only $4 at Big Lots. Man, I heart that place.





Monday, September 17, 2012

Scrap Space - Work in Progress

I've been seeing a lot of scrap spaces on the scrapbook blogs I follow, so I thought I would share my scrap space! It isn't very conducive to scrapbooking right now because I am still in the process of removing wallpaper, and a lot of the storage units I use are broken and in need of repair. Hopefully, when all the wallpaper is off and a fresh coat of paint is on the walls, I can really put this room together as my own space.



I have one wall of wallpaper fully removed, and, as you can see, I'm about halfway done with the second wall. That only leaves two more walls! The wall in this picture is behind my desk, and what I want to do with it is make it a chalkboard wall so that I can write sketches and titles and other notes to myself without having to use up paper. I have piles and piles of paper with sketches and notes, but it's all so disorganized and then I forget about them because I don't see them. A chalkboard wall would be super helpful, and we can keep it up if we ever have to change this room into a nursery/child's room. The rest of the walls I want to paint a sort of minty green, which is also a good neutral "kid" color.


Here's the first wall that I finished and the closet. Everything you see inside this closet has to go. We need two new filing cabinets because the ones we have (that we inherited with the house) don't have full sides inside the drawers. So you can put file folders in the drawers, but they don't stand upright because the tops of the folders have nothing to hang onto. We need REAL filing cabinets that hold file folders. 

I also want a white bookcase for putting scrapbooks that I'm working on, my books about scrapbooking, and my VHS collection. (I like watching videos while I scrap.) Right now, all my scrap supplies are in (broken) Rubbermaid containers. The big one you see in the closet has been with me since college, and it is not doing so hot. The smaller ones on top of it are fine and could easily fit on my desk. I've got some pins on Pinterest for office/scrap room organizing, so hopefully I can implement a bunch of those once this room is ready for that.

What's going on in your scrap spaces?


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Simply Stated

A few months ago, I entered Real Simple's Simply Stated Blogger Contest. For the contest, I had to write about something difficult that I gave up in order to balance my schedule. I chose to write about cleaning or rather NOT cleaning. I didn't win the contest, but you will still be able to read what I wrote right here! So keep reading, and keep in mind, that I did just vacuum the floors today, so... there.




My mom once asked me, “Are you okayliving like this?”

What she meant, in that “loving mom”way, was: “Your house is kinda messy.”

I clean. But cleaning was getting in theway of me enjoying my free time, so I gave up worrying so much aboutkeeping my house clean.

My husband and I have schedules thatcontribute to the growing number of dirty dishes in the sink and dustbunnies under the couch. I leave at 6:30 a.m. to go to work, notgetting home until 7 p.m. My husband, a teacher who leads severalafter-school activities, gets home at the same time. On weekends andweeknights, the last thing we want to do is clean!

When we moved into our three-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse two years ago, I knew trying to clean thewhole house in a weekend would be impossible, so I created a chorechart, assigning certain chores to certain days—cleaning thehallway bathroom on the first Tuesday of the month, for instance. Iplaced the chart on the fridge and used a magnet to mark what day Iwas on. The day the magnet fell off, landing out of my reach underthe fridge, I fell off the cleaning bandwagon.

But I realized that our house doesn’thave to be spic and span every day. We clean the dirty pots and panspiled up in the sink when we have time. Sometimes I want toscrapbook instead of wash the kitchen floor or see a movie with myhusband instead of scrubbing tubs. I want to spend my limited freetime doing things I love with people I love.

But don’t fear for your health uponentering our home. We’ll make time to clean before you get here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We're Growing!

Growums taco kit
We're growing herbs and vegetables! I received two Growums kits through work: one is an herb kit and one is a taco kit. Growums kits are supposed to make it easy for kids to grow their own food, but I thought maybe it would also make it easy for me because I have no green thumb of which to speak. The taco kit seems to be doing very well. Our fireball tomatoes and cilantro are already sprouting, and the jalapenos and simpson lettuce are trying. In the herb kit, well, it's taking a bit longer to sprout. One sweet basil and one cilantro is starting, but the parsley and oregano are doing nothing. So, we'll see. Now, before I started these, I didn't realize I would have to move these things from the tray to the ground. I thought you just grew them in their little tray. So this is probably not the season to grow herbs and veggies outside. But... Oh well! We'll see what happens!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mediterranean Snacks - HummuZ Crispz

A few months ago, I reviewed some gluten-free snacks from Mediterranean Snacks. Well, the company's PR folks saw the review and contacted me about trying and reviewing some of Mediterranean Snacks' newest products. Of course! So they sent me a bag of HummuZ Crispz. These all-natural, gluten-free snacks are baked with real garbanzo beans (chickpeas). One serving of 14 Crispz contains 120 calories. And, according to the company, they are a good source of protein.

The flavor they sent me, Olive Tapenade, is a new one, and while it wasn't my favorite flavor, I did enjoy the HummuZ Crispz lightness and crunch. They crunch like a chip, but have a thicker texture like a cracker. There are two other flavors to choose from: Roasted Red Pepper and Roasted Garlic. I had mine for lunch instead of chips, but HummuZ Crispz would also be good with hummus (obviously) or salsa.

I'm always appreciative of companies making gluten-free foods and giving people who are on gluten-free diets different culinary options.

HummuZ Crispz are available nationwide and in Canada in more than 7,500 outlets including King's, Whole Foods, D'Agostino's, ShopRite, Publix, Wegman's, and more. You can also purchase them online at mediterraneansnackfoods.com, amazon.com, and alice.com. For the full list of grocers and retail outlets, visit the Mediterranean Snacks website and check out all the other gluten-free snack foods this company makes as well as recipes.

Thanks to Mediterranean Snacks and The S3 Agency for sending me the HummuZ Crispz!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tuna Can Candle Holders


I've been pinning things to Pinterest for a few months now, but I haven't actually DONE anything with any of the pins on my boards. Until now.

I saw a really cool craft tutorial that used tuna cans and clothespins to make candle holders! It looked easy and really cool, so I knew I wanted to make some. And because I needed to get my neighbor a gift, I had more of an incentive to actually do it! I already had empty tuna cans and the clothespins, so all I did was attach the clothespins to the tuna can. Then I went to Dollar Place and purchase clear candle holders and mini candles to place in the center of the tuna cans. Pretty cool, huh? Eventually, I'll make some of these for myself. I like the wooden look of the clothespins. These would be great for using outdoors on a porch or deck. So cute and SO EASY.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Saint Clare's Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness


On September 23, my book club and I will be walking in the 11th Annual Saint Clare's Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness. Last year, more than two million men and women in the United States were breast cancer survivors. For more than a decade, Saint Clare's has been committed to increasing the number of survivors with the treatment of cancer in its local community with its comprehensive oncology program, Cancer Care at Saint Clare's. The Saint Clare's Foundation is dedicated to raising funds for Saint Clare's Health System. You can support my book club team and Saint Clare's through donations. You can visit my walker page to find out how to donate. And even if you can't donate money, keep my team, all the breast cancer survivors, and those currently battling breast cancer in your thoughts as we walk later this month to put cancer on the run! Thank you!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gluten-Free at Seattle's Safeco Field

If you're a gluten-free baseball fan, and you find yourself in Seattle wanting to see a Seattle Mariners game, have no fear about where to eat! Safeco Field has a gluten-free food stand. And it is easy to find once you get into the stadium! You can get a gluten-free mariner dog, club sandwich, soup, or hummus platter as well as snacks. The stand also has vegetarian options. While The Natural, as the food stand is called, didn't have a great combo option like at the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Field, we still appreciated that there was a gluten-free option at all.

It has also come to our attention that Yankee Stadium has a new gluten-free food stand. My husband got a gluten-free hot dog and Italian sausage there! No longer does he have to wait 20 minutes for a gluten-free pizza at the gluten-free Famiglia pizza stand. Yeah for fast gluten-free food!


The Natural at Safeco Field - right on the main seating level

Monday, September 3, 2012

Gluten-Free Seattle - Cinnamon Works

One of the places you have to visit when you go to Seattle is the Pike Place Market. Not only does it have lots of delicious fresh produce and beautiful fresh flowers, not only is it home to the original Starbucks, but it is also home to Cinnamon Works, a delicious pastry shop that also serves gluten-free pastries!

For those of you not on a gluten-free diet, might I recommend the pumpkin pie muffin? It was delicious and made me wish that fall was here!

My husband had an apple cinnamon muffin, which he said was good. I was surprised at the size of it. It was the same giant size as my muffin! You don't normally find gluten-free stuff that is normal size. Usually it's smaller than the regular stuff. So I thought that was nice and made the slightly higher cost worth it.

Cinnamon Works had a very large gluten-free selection, too. Cookies, muffins, brownies. There was a lot to choose from and it all looked so good!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Going Out

Here is a layout that I finished before I went on vacation. I had found a sketch online and quickly go to work making it work for this picture of me and some other girls before a friend's bachelorette party. Loved that I had "party" paper in my stash. Wasn't sure how I was going to be able to use that, but I did!


I've used this same sketch on another layout. You can turn it on its side if you want, change up the position of the title and the journaling, use two images instead of one, or however you need to do it to work with what you've got. Make it as simple as you want or get a little bit fussy. I love sketches that are easy to work with!