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!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Look Ma... 2 Hands Scrapbook Page

Here's another layout of the baby from the bib scrapbook that my mom made me.

When this kid learned to hold her own bottle, that was a game changer! It made feedings so much easier!

Because this page came from my bib scrapbook, there wasn't a whole lot I had to do but add the pictures of the baby in her panda bib. My mom gave me the scrap pink paper, so I used it to back the pictures.

And then I added the black letter stickers, which came from deep, deep, DEEP in my letter sticker stash. Seriously, I have a letter sticker problem. I just want to use them all!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

32 Scrapbook Page

It's so weird to me that I'm scrapbooking pictures from December 2015 and here we are in November 2016 and the giant baby bump that I had eight months ago is now gone and there's a baby here! So much time has passed and so quickly!

As you can tell from this layout, last year I turned 32. (So this December I'll be 33. Yikes!) My husband and I always said that we wanted to have a baby when we were 32, and that's exactly how it happened.

This is another layout that uses the Crate Paper birthday-themed papers that I picked up at T.J. Maxx a long time ago. The number stickers are American Crafts Thickers, which I believe I also got at T.J. Maxx.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Not In Sync Scrapbook Page

My parents were up for a visit over Halloween weekend, and my mom brought one of her scrapbooks for me to look at. She used a lot of circles on her pages, and it really got me inspired to start using more circles on my own pages. (And using that Silhouette die-cutter that is collecting dust on my desk!)

So that's what I did with this layout that uses Crate Paper patterned paper that I got as a large paper pad at T.J. Maxx a long time ago.

These pictures were taken last year at my brother-in-law's birthday dinner, which also serves as an early birthday dinner for me. He was born on Christmas day and I was born the day after. Usually we blow out our candles at the same time, but last year we just couldn't get it together. I ended up blowing out half the candles first, and then he blew out the rest by himself.

The cupcake embellishment didn't totally match these papers, but I didn't care. I just really wanted to use it because the patterned paper behind it had cupcakes on it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sausage and Rice for Dinner

I haven't been posting meal plans, and that's partly due to a lack of time to post them but also because I haven't been feeling as inspired lately. We're trying to eat healthier, which is hard to do when you're also on a budget, and we also need meals that are easy to make on work nights. 

So the other week I literally just went to the grocery store, searched for things that were on sale and then came up with meals we could make based on those right there in the grocery store. That's how I came up with our sausage and rice dinner the other night.

I received a bag of Carolina brand yellow rice at the Gluten-Free & Allergen Friendly Expo last month. Did you know that it's gluten-free? I thought it would go well with sausage, and there was some chicken sausage on sale. Red potatoes were also on sale, so I thought I'd make our new favorite side dish, Roasted Smashed Potatoes. And then I had a can of organic green beans in the pantry, so I added those to our meal.

This was not a meal that I made on a worknight. The Roasted Smashed Potatoes take a long time to cook, so save this one for Sunday night or, if you're like me and have days during the week when you work from home, then you can make it on one of those nights.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Candidate - Book Review

If you think this election season has been crazy, just wait until you read about the one in Lis Wiehl's latest novel (written with Sebastian Stuart) called The Candidate. There are bombs, murder-suicides, and people who aren't what they seem.

Erica Sparks is a popular journalist with her own show on the cable news network GNN. She prides herself on having integrity and doing her job the right way no matter what. Her network sends her to cover the Democratic candidates for president. It's a routine job, right? But Erica soon becomes embroiled in something bigger and her journalistic instincts just can't let it go. There's just something off about candidate Mike Ortiz.

The more Erica seeks, the more unsettling her feelings about Ortiz. But how far will she go if it puts not only herself but her daughter and her new beau in jeopardy, too?

This book is part of a series called Newsmakers, and I haven't read any of those, so I don't know what they are about, but I did feel like maybe they covered some backstory that would have been helpful for me to know. A few times in the beginning of the book, references were made to Erica's earlier life and some investigation she lead at GNN, but I had no idea what any of it meant. (It was further explained as I continued reading the book.)

But still, this was a really fascinating read with a lot of different elements and storylines. I was a bit skeptical at first because the author is a commentator for the Fox News Channel, so I expected it to be full of things that offended me. Not the case! (My favorite part: when the author throws in a random insult to Donald Trump.) But if descriptions of violent acts offend you, then you might want to steer clear of this book or ask me what pages those parts are on so you can mark them as pages to skip over.

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.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What Color is Your Parachute? 2017 - Review

It's a whole new world for job hunters. We've got Google and social media that employers are checking. We've got job-hunting websites. And we've got job reports that tell us not enough people are getting hired but that there are MILLIONS of jobs available. So if you're about to graduate college, laid off and looking for a new job, or looking to switch careers, then this updated version of the book will be your go-to.

Written by Richard N. Bolles, the new What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017 helps you take your job search and go at it in a new way. You've probably been sending out resumes and waiting to hear back, right? Well, that's one way to do it, but that's not the only way. Using the book's self-inventory chapters, you'll discover more about yourself, which will ultimately help you discover more about the kind of job you want so you can more easily go out and get that job. It's kind of fun to fill out the seven petals of your flower. (Although, I did get stuck coming up with seven stories for petal three's The Parachute Skills Grid. None of my "challenge" stories can compare with the example of the guy who basically re-built his car into a camper. Uhm, what?)

There are also tips about salary negotiation and interviewing skills, which are must-reads.

This book has apparently been very helpful for everyone who has used it since it was first published in 1970. It continues to be updated every year to reflect what's happening in today's society and job market, so it must be doing something right. If you've tried everything else to land a job and don't know why you're not getting a job, then you might want to take a look at this book.

I received a free review copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.