Friday, December 30, 2016

As Long As Daddy Is Around Scrapbook Page

The full title of this one is "As Long As Daddy is Around Uncle Mark is Okay". That's because the poor baby did NOT like being held by her Uncle Mark.

But she tolerated him well enough when her daddy was by her side. She's so funny.

I used up some of the last bits of a paper pad that I've had in my stash for awhile. The blue letter stickers are Recollections and the small yellow letter stickers are October Afternoon.

I don't know where I got the heart map pin embellishment, but I somehow have a whole sheet of them in my embellishment stash, and they really seem to go with so much!

The "family" and "precious" word stickers are also from that same paper pad. And so are the circle stickers that are around them. I used my Spellbinders Grand Calibur to cut the picture and cardstock behind it into circles.

And yes, I took a picture of the baby crying. You have to remember these times, too, right?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our Chubby Little Pumpkin Scrapbook Page

These pictures were taken three months ago, and it's like looking back at a different baby! How is the 6-month-old in these pictures now a 9-month-old with a whole lot more hair??? She still sucks her thumb like that when she's tired, though.

These pages were made by mom for my baby bib scrapbook. She gave me coordinating colored cardstock, and I used that to back the photos before adhering them to the pages.

It's amazing how much time flies. I'm almost glad that I'm behind in my scrapbooking because it give me a chance to reminisce while I scrapbook.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Meal Plan Monday - December 26

Happy birthday to me! That's right. Today I turn 33! We are having my traditional birthday dinner of meatballs with rice and green beans.

And that's about all I can tell you. I actually meal planned through Wednesday of this week because I didn't want to be going out to the grocery store around the holidays. So, tomorrow is leftovers (or getting takeout with my parents) and Wednesday is shepherd's pie.

After that, I have no idea. I'll just hit the grocery store on Thursday and see what's on sale!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and happy new year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

In Such Good Company - Review

Fans of Carol Burnett will really like her latest book In Such Good Company. This book is a chronicle of the 11 years that The Carol Burnett Show was on the air.

Last year, there was an infomercial for The Carol Burnett Show DVDs. All of the episodes in their full length, and Carol herself watched all of them and, I think, signed a few copies or did something special for the DVD release. Well, I think she also ended up writing this book.

This book takes you through the show's beginnings (and a little bit of Carol's beginnings, although I think she's already covered that in her other books) and gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at all that fun "in the sandbox". To write this book, Carol said she re-watched all of the episodes, and from that, she writes about her favorite Q&As with the audience, her favorite sketches, the favorite characters she played, her favorite guest stars, etc. There are stories in here that you may have never heard, unless you're a hardcore fan. And there are a few screenshots sprinkled throughout so that, as Carol says it, you can see the chemistry between the actors when they were performing.

What I thought was really interesting was the schedule for the show. They were hardly in the studio! Seemed like a dream schedule and not one you would see EVER in today's film and television industry.

What I didn't like so much was Carol's rehashing of certain sketches word for word. There's something MUCH different about someone telling you, "Here's how the sketch went" and actually watching it for yourself. I really wished that I could just watch the episodes or the sketches along with Carol, like watch the DVDs with Carol's commentary over it. Because I'm sure that these sketches she's printing word for word in the book are HILARIOUS when you see them. But the "funny" is kind of lacking when you're just reading the words on the page.

I think this book would be a great addition to the DVD release (if it's still available) for a fan of The Carol Burnett Show.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Card Wall Tree

So remember how last year I decorated clothespins with glitter so that I could make my Christmas card "garland" on my mantel a little more festive?

Well, this year, I REALLY pared down my holiday decorations and there is no Christmas card mantel "garland".

Instead, I decided to do something that I've seen numerous people do before: make a Christmas tree on my wall and "hang" Christmas cards from the tree.

I don't know what everybody else uses for their trees, but I happened to have FrogTape (green painter's tape) in my kitchen pantry because I use it for EVERYTHING. Yes, painting, of course. But I also use it to label containers of food, the organizational bins in my bathroom closet, etc. It doesn't peel off like masking tape or Scotch tape, which seems to be a problem for me, and it's easy to remove.

Like from a wall.

We have these big framed sections on the walls in our dining room/living room, so I figured the biggest one would be the perfect canvas for this. I just made a triangle shape out of the FrogTape, and then I tear off a small piece of the FrogTape to "hang" the Christmas cards.

Did I measure my tree before putting the FrogTape on the wall? No. I eyeballed it. Because that's just how I roll. But if you want yours to be JUST. SO. then you better break out measuring tape, I guess.

As you can see in the above picture, the baby is super impressed.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Meal Plan Monday - December 19

Happy holidays! We've got one more week until Christmas hits, and here's what we're eating:

Sunday: fettuccine alfredo and Chebe cheese buns (Stay tuned for more on the cheese buns!)

Monday: pepperoni puffs

Tuesday: Gorton's Tilapia, rice, and corn

Wednesday: praline chicken

Thursday: grilled cheese and tomato soup

Friday: lasagna

Saturday: Christmas Eve!

Sunday: Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Monte Cristo-Style Chef Salad

So I first made this salad LAST YEAR based on the Monte Cristo-Style Chef Salad recipe that was in an issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. (I think the magazine changed its name and is now Rachael Ray Everyday?) At the time, I took a picture of my salad and placed it against a picture of the salad from the magazine, and then shared it on Instagram. And wouldn't you know, my Instagram photo made it into one of the next issues of the Rachael Ray magazine!

A photo posted by Laurie (@cookscrapcraft) on

But I guess I never posted about this recipe on the blog! Oversight!

And I actually didn't make this recipe again until last week! I'm not sure why it took me so long to get back to it. Yes, it's gluten-free! But maybe it's because I like it more than my husband. He's not a fan of hard-boiled eggs.

The dressing is really easy to whip up. I left out the shallots and just whisked the apple cider vinegar with the maple syrup and dijon mustard in a saucepan that had been heating up on medium heat for a few minutes.

You can also put chives and pickle slices on top, but I didn't have any chives this time and I don't like the sliced butter pickles. I'm more of a sweet gherkins girl myself. Also, I needed to use more baby spinach. Don't know why I was so stingy this time!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December Daily Sneak Peeks

I talked two weeks ago about doing a December Daily album, and today I thought I'd share with you some of the pages that I worked on in advance. No pictures yet. I don't even have the whole album totally together, but I've got all the paper and embellishments on!

The patterned paper came from a Christmas paper pad that had been in my stash for a very long time. I just did one piece of paper for each page of my mini chipboard album.

The embellishments were extras from my stash. I've been hanging on to them for awhile now, and it was time for them to go!

And I just used some solid color cardstock from my stash to round everything out. Now I'm ready to go for my pictures! I just need to take them and print them!

How far along are you with your December Daily? What strategy are you using to get it done? Share in the comments!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Meal Plan Monday - December 12

So we ate really well last week! And I'm hoping that can continue through this week. There's one new thing on the menu, and then we're basically just using up stuff we have in the pantry and freezer for everything else.

Here's what's on the menu:

Sunday - cheesy baked ravioli

Monday - creamy white bean and bacon soup (New!)

Tuesday - tacos

Wednesday - hamburger stroganoff

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - turkey burgers and fries

Saturday - on our own

Friday, December 9, 2016

Favorite Freezer Staples

There's nothing better than wondering what's for dinner and opening up the freezer to find just what you need. That's why we like to keep our freezer stocked with a few essentials that are perfect for quick weeknight meals, and some can even be used as a main dish or a side dish. The freezer is for more than just ice!

Here are the staples that we always keep in our freezer:

1. Ore-Ida Steak Fries
Or Crinkle Fries. I prefer the Crinkle Fries, but my husband likes the Steak Fries. Whichever one we end up getting, these are a wonderful accompaniment to the chicken tenders listed above or the turkey burgers listed below. We cook them in our toaster oven and it works great.

2. Perdue Simply Smart Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders
Frequently, our grocery store puts these babies on sale, and I always make sure to grab a bag. These are great and very quick to cook up if you need something easy on a weeknight.

3. Against the Grain gluten-free baguettes
These are kind of expensive (I've never seen a coupon), but it really is my favorite gluten-free baguette. We like baking up half of one baguette to accompany pasta, but sometimes we cut one baguette into two halves and use them for Gluten-free French Bread Pizza.

4. Jennie-O Turkey Burgers
This one is another that is rather expensive, but you get a lot of turkey burger patties in one box, so it lasts you through several meals. And sometimes you can find coupons for Jennie-O products at We cook these up on our George Foreman grill. Doesn't take very long and tastes good.

5. Ground Beef, Chicken Breasts, etc.
Any time that bulk meat is on sale, we buy it. We then open the package it comes in and separate it into multiple Ziploc freezer bags. For ground beef, we try to divvy up a three-pound package into three freezer bags with one pound of ground beef in each. And for chicken, I try to do two chicken breasts per freezer bag. Meat and poultry keep great in the freezer, and even though buying the larger portions can be expensive, you're getting more than one meal out of it, so it does end up being worth it in the end. Plus, our grocery store is always having sales on the bulk meat.

What do you guys keep in your freezer?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Raising an Original - Book Review

Whether you've got one kid (like me) or eight kids (like the author of the book Raising an Original), you probably want to raise your kids right.

Whatever "right" means.

And there's the rub. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting.

Each kid is different and unique and so needs a different and unique approach to how he or she is raised. But how do you determine just what kind of approach will work for your kid?

Read Julie Lyles Carr's book Raising an Original! This mother, blogger, public speaker, nonprofit founder, and psychologist gives you the guidelines you need to figure out just what makes your kid special and how you as a parent can help to bring forth that God-given specialness instead of hinder it.

And there are plenty of ways that parents can hinder their kids originality. You might not even know you're doing some of these things, but Carr will call you out on it in this book!

The book includes a little quiz to help you determine which of four personalities your child has (The Director, The Inspirer, The Steadfast, and The Curator), and you can even take the quiz yourself to find out what kind of personality you have. If you and your kid have clashing personalities, this book will help you understand how to NOT make them clash.

This book is all about helping parents realize that they can't make their kids be someone they're not. That the ultimate goal isn't necessarily to raise a child to make a lot of money or be famous or have a prestigious career. The ultimate goal is just to help your child thrive being himself or herself, no matter what that means for their future. The ultimate goal is to see each of your children for who they really are and help them live their lives with the courage to be original.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> 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.”

Monday, December 5, 2016

Meal Plan Monday - December 5

I recently reorganized our recipe binder and was reminded of some really great recipes that we haven't had in awhile. So that's what this week is devoted to. Here's what we're bringing back to the meal plan:

Sunday: Sausage Alfredo Skillet

Monday: Loaded Baked Potato Skins

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes

Wednesday: Monte Cristo Chef's Salad (Apparently, I've never blogged about the time we made this salad. I'll have to remedy that!)

Thursday: Pasta Carbonara

Friday: Chicken Cordon Blue Paninis

Saturday: Cheesy Baked Ravioli

Thursday, December 1, 2016

3 Tips for Doing a December Daily

Is it December Daily time already? Hard to believe that we're in the last month of 2016, but it's true. I plan on doing a December Daily album again this year, and I've got all my supplies ready to go.

I've been doing a December Daily since 2011, and each year I feel like I have a different technique when it comes to getting it done. I always try to adhere to a few basic rules, though. I find that it just makes everything go a little smoother.

1. Pick out your album now
It doesn't have to be a specific December Daily album. Any old album will do. You can probably find ones on sale at TJ Maxx, Marshall's, or Big Lots. Don't forget the scrapbook aisle at Walmart. They always have inexpensive supplies. I actually found a great Recollections chipboard album at Michael's for $4.99! (Binder ring chipboard albums make it really easy to add in Christmas cards that you receive because you can just punch holes in your cards and insert them as regular pages!)

I found this Recollections chipboard album at Michael's for $4.99!

2. Lay out your pages ahead of time
This doesn't always happen in my busy life, but in the past when I've done this, it has been a lifesaver! It will require you to have your papers and embellishments already picked out. If you have scrap paper and leftover embellishments from last year's holiday scrapbook pages, then this would be a perfect opportunity to use those up. (That's what I'm doing!) December Daily albums are generally smaller albums, so you don't need full-sized paper.

A December Daily album is a great way to use up the Christmas scraps from last year's Christmas scrapbook pages!

3. Don't Stress About Taking a Picture Every Day
Not every day is going to be a day where something holiday-themed happens. And that's okay. The album is more about quickly jotting down the holiday memories that happen throughout the month. So if you have a holiday cookie exchange on a Monday but then don't go ice skating with the kids until Friday, don't sweat it! The holidays are already a stressful time. The December Daily doesn't have to be part of that!

My very first DD! I do them differently each year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Run in Color Scrapbook Page

I did The Color Run again this year, and I got the pictures from it scrapped the other day using up some extras from a page kit. I had used the other parts of the page kit to scrap my half marathon pictures and last year's Color Run pictures.

I did add some other embellishments just to spice things up a bit. There are two stickers on here from my stash, and the blue patterned paper in the background is also from my stash. It came from a giant paper pad that I really never use, but the color seemed to fit with The Color Run colors.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Host a Cookie-Decorating Party

Over the weekend, we had some kids over for a cookie-decorating party. It was the first time we'd ever done this, so I didn't really know what to expect. Do I buy refrigerated sugar cookie dough? What kinds of decorations should I get? If you're thinking of hosting a cookie-decorating party this holiday season, here are a few helpful hints!

1. Make your own dough!
Sure, it seems like buying the pre-made refrigerated stuff would be easier, but depending on how many kids (or adults) you have, it could get expensive. Plus, I did some research online and apparently the pre-made stuff doesn't work very well if you're making cut-out cookies. You have to add extra flour to the dough or something, and I didn't think I wanted to experiment for this party. I just wanted sugar cookies that would turn out right so that the kids wouldn't be disappointed.

So I found a sugar cookie recipe in the December issue of Family Fun Mag. The recipe isn't available online, so head out to your newsstand and pick up a copy! The recipe uses cream cheese, something I've never added to a basic cookie recipe, and it's so easy! (It is NOT gluten-free.) Just make sure you leave enough time (30 minutes) for the dough to chill in your fridge before you get started. The recipe makes two to three dozen cookies.

2. Have a few cookies already made!
I baked seven cookies (one was for me to eat - I had to make sure they were okay!) so that the kid wouldn't have to wait for their cookies to bake before they could start decorating. We put the cut-out cookie dough in the oven, and then I brought out the already-baked cookies and let the kids decorate those while we waited for the other cookies to bake and cool off.

3. Cover your workspace!
You're dealing with a lot of toppings and icing and kids, so things are bound to get messy. What I really wanted to do was cover our dining room table with butcher paper, but God only knows where I'm supposed to go around here to find butcher paper. So instead I spent $3.50 (!!!) for a disposable tablecloth. And then I used painter's tape to adhere freezer paper to the top of the tablecloth to give the kids space to roll out dough and decorate. I used freezer paper because the painter's tape wouldn't stick to parchment paper. And I used painter's tape because, well, we didn't have masking tape.

4. And about those toppings...
We kept it pretty simple in terms of decorative toppings for the cookies. Just a few colors of icing, sugar sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, and red and green M&M's. If you want your guests to help out and bring something, ask them to bring some of their favorite cookie decorations.

5. Make it easy for your guests to take their cookies home!
I bought holiday-themed plastic containers at the Dollar General to package up everyone's cookies for easy transport home. Whatever type of container or packaging you want to use is great!

And, of course, have fun! We had kids and adults decorating cookies at our party, and it was really fun! The cookies don't have to look perfect. You are going to eat them, after all. It's just a fun way to get together and share in a little holiday celebrating.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Meal Plan Monday - November 28

After yet another break, the Monday Meal Plans are back! Here's what we've got on the menu this week:

Sunday: grilled cheese and soup

Monday: cheesy potatoes and chicken sausage

Tuesday: chicken caesar salad

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: turkey burgers and fries

Friday: tuna sandwiches

Saturday: chicken tenders and potatoes

What are you guys eating this week?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Just a Few Weeks Scrapbook Page

This little munchkin is what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving. I got the inspiration for this layout from one that I saw on Pinterest. It contrasts the baby at a certain number of weeks old in an ultrasound image with a picture of the baby at that same number of weeks old post-birth.

So on this layout I have our 21-week ultrasound (when we found out she was a girl!) with a picture of the baby at 21 weeks old outside of the womb.

I loved the background paper, with its "You'll never dear how much I love you" sentiment. It was part of an American Crafts paper pad that I purchased a long time ago. And I just happened to have another hot air balloon embellishment to match.

I just kind of went crazy picking out random embellishments from my stash that I thought would go with this layout. The "weeks old" stickers were from an Echo Park sticker sheet that my mom gave me.

I really wanted to keep this layout simple, but it looked a bit plain on its own, so I added in coordinating patterned paper strips from the same American Crafts paper pad to add a bit more color. The letter stickers are from the Target $1 Spot.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Rice is Nice Scrapbook Page

I seriously wasn't kidding about the circles, you guys! I love the way this layout turned out. And I love that the smaller circle die was big enough so that I could use the larger circle die to back the photos.

At 4 months, we were given the go-ahead to start the baby on rice cereal. Because we had to go buy bowls and spoons and then wash them in the dishwasher before using them (which is hard to do because our dishwasher is always filled with bottles) and then the baby got her first cold for about 10 days, I didn't actually start her on the cereal for real until she was almost 5 months.

The rice cereal is kind of blah, and I think she mostly just liked trying to eat the spoon. But she was eating!

This layout used up the last of my Basic Grey stash. Yay! Another drawer cleared!

Friday, November 18, 2016

#Joy Scrapbook Page

Here's another baby page to finish off the week! This one took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do with it. I was using up some American Crafts patterned paper from a paper pad, and I had that vellum sentiment that I really wanted on this page, but I just couldn't immediately visualize how I wanted everything to come together.

Obviously, it did or I wouldn't have a scrapbook page to show you! I was able to use up some VERY old American Crafts Thickers on this layout. And that used-up letter sticker sheet made its way to the trash. Out with the old and in with the ... well, nothing. I haven't bought any new scrapbook supplies in awhile.

Because one of the patterned papers had mason jars on it, I thought it would be cute to add two mason jar embellishments that I'd had in my stash. It's kind of random but it goes. And as the hosts of TLC's What Not to Wear always said, "It doesn't have to MATCH, it just has to GO."

And then here's a close-up of what the middle sentiment reads. I backed it on light pink paper. I wish I had vellum tape. I'm not a fan of using tiny glue dots on vellum because you can still see the adhesive!

Once again, oh well!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bumbo Baby Scrapbook Page

Here's another baby scrapbook page that was super easy to put together because I had already laid it out before the baby got here! All I had to do was add the pictures! That third picture is my favorite. THAT FACE!

I made this one using American Crafts papers and embellishments from its old Neapolitan collection. I think I also used American Crafts papers from another collection, too, because they seemed to mesh so well. And the letter stickers are also American Crafts Thickers. Got those at T.J. Maxx.

Why is it that T.J. Maxx always has interesting scrapbooking finds but you can't find the same type of thing at Marshall's even though they are BASICALLY the same store AND owned by the same parent company?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Braised Tuscan Beef

It's a miracle! The Crockpot made an appearance again last week! I used it to make Family Circle's Braised Tuscan Beef.

This was super easy to put together. Just throw all the ingredients into your Crockpot, cook on low for eight hours (or on high for six), and then add in canned white beans in the last 30 minutes.

This is a really nice combination of flavors, too. You've got beef chuck (which was sold already cubed at my grocery store), Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, rosemary, and a can of white beans. You can find the full recipe at the above link.

The original recipe said to serve this over gnocchi, but I haven't yet found gluten-free gnocchi and I'm not making my own from scratch. So the first night we just had it as is. Sort of like a stew. Or I think it would be a "stoop" as Rachael Ray would put it: soup + stew = stoop. Right?

Then we had it for leftovers served over white rice with green beans as a side. My husband commented on how nice that was.

So I think this one is a keeper!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Readin & Eatin Scrapbook Page

As I wrote about in a previous post, I'm on a circle kick! I'm trying to use more circles on my layouts, and so far, it's working out and a lot of fun.

This layout uses all October Afternoon papers and embellishments. I was so glad to have the papers in my stash because I thought they were perfect for some photos of the baby "reading" her ABC book.

Not everything is from the same October Afternoon collection, but I still like how everything seemed to go together. I wanted to add cardstock to the circular photos for backing, but I didn't have a large-enough circle die-cut for my Spellbinders Grand Calibur.

This just about does it for everything left in my October Afternoon stash. There are a few bits and pieces that I'm saving for scrapbooking our Paris vacation photos (from 2014... I'll finish that eventually), and I still have a few letter sticker sheets that are usable, but other than that... It's kind of nice to clear out a drawer of stuff!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sort of Rocco DiSpirito's South of the Border Scramble with Chorizo and Salsa

Before Pinterest came along, I used to tear out recipes from magazines or copy them down from cookbooks and save them in a binder so that I could eventually make them. Well, I still have that binder full of recipes I meant to make, and last week I decided to pull out a few of them and actually make them.

This one for Rocco DiSpirito's South of the Border Scramble with Chorizo and Salsa comes from his cookbook Now Eat This!

I say that this is "sort of" like his recipe because I followed it as closely as I could. Yes, we used liquid egg substitute, which my husband was wary of. I'm not sure if our chorizo sausage was reduced fat. There was literally ONE variety to choose from at my grocery store. I didn't use cilantro because I forgot to buy it. Our tortillas were just regular corn tortillas because I don't think they make carb-free tortillas that are also gluten-free. And there's no salsa on ours because I thought we had salsa at home but we didn't.

Oh well.

One other thing to note: we don't have a gas oven, so I wasn't able to flame-broil our tortillas. Instead I put them under the broiler. Don't forget to take them out of the broiler or you'll have burnt tortillas!! I don't know why I can never get the hang of the broiler.

Not sure if these will be going into our regular rotation. They turned out well despite the burnt edges, but I kind of like our regular non-breakfast tostadas better. Still, it was nice to change things up!