Friday, February 24, 2017

The Best Seat in the House Scrapbook Layout

For Christmas, my mom gave me this cool scrapbooking tool that makes it easy to create neat scrapbook layouts. It's a stencil that you can use in a variety of different ways.

Here is the stencil next to my finished layout. I just followed a sample picture to create this specific layout, traced and cut out the pictures and patterned paper where it needed to go, and adhered everything to my background paper.

I did a practice page first with my mom, and then I tried it out on my own using pictures of the baby. This ended up being a good way to get multiple pictures on one page!

I used Recollection patterned paper (both the tassles and the butterflies), blue cardstock from my stash, Basic Grey small letter stickers, and American Crafts foam Thickers. (The Thickers were on sale at Michael's last month!)

Scrapbooking with the stencil definitely takes a little bit longer, but I think the effort is worth it. And really once you get the hang of it, it's not hard to do. And I like that I can configure different looks. Come back next week to see another way I used the stencil!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

SK-II Signs Eye Mask Review

It's been awhile since I've participated in a BZZAgent campaign. I think the last one I did was for SK-II products back in 2015! So I was really excited to receive an email inviting me to participate in a brand new campaign for SK-II. (And, of course, I said yes!)

If you don't know, SK-II is a beauty brand (a pretty expensive beauty brand) that is used by actress Cate Blanchett. She's actually been a user of the brand for 13 years, so I'm going to assume that it works for her and she's not just in it for the money.

So, can you hope to look just like Cate after using these products?

Well, probably not, but your skin might look better! I received a two-week supply of the SK-II Signs Eye Masks. These easy-to-wear masks are "essence-drenched cloths" that are designed to reduce the signs of aging and dryness around the eyes. I was intrigued by the claim that it makes the skin under your eyes lighter and not so dull, while also making your eyes look brighter.

The masks are pretty easy to wear. They come two per package in little plastic trays, and you just remove one, stick it under an eye, and remove the top layer of film. (I actually removed the top layer of film before putting the eye mask under my eye because I found it difficult to remove the film when the eye mask was already on my face. I actually ended up dropping one of the masks in the sink trying to get the film layer off.)

Once the eye masks are on your face, leave them on for 10 minutes, and then remove. The instructions on the package don't say this, but you're also supposed to massage in any leftover residue.

After two weeks of doing that every night, I compared what my eyes looked like before and what they looked like after, and here's what I thought.

The effect wasn't so noticeable that I could tell a difference just by looking in the mirror, but I think that looking at these close-up pictures you can tell that the skin under my eyes looks smoother and perhaps a little brighter. Maybe I am also just lucky to have pretty good skin. I've had dermatologists tell me, "You don't go outside much, do you?" NOPE.

You can buy your own two-week set for $115. That's right. Kind of pricey, right? For me personally, these are not worth $115. But if you are concerned about the appearance of your eyes and have tried everything else with no luck, then the SK-II Signs Eye Masks might be the next best option for you.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

I have never had Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup, so I can't compare this recipe to the restaurant's. But I did think the soup looked delicious when I saw the recipe on Pinterest, so that's why I decided to make it the other week.

This was very good - even as leftovers!
Slow cooker dinners are so easy to do, especially when you're home with a baby all day. I work from home twice a week, and I like to try and use the slow cooker on those days because you just throw everything into the slow cooker, set it, and forget it! (And it makes the house smell delicious all day long.)

This recipe comes from The Chunky Chef, and you can find the original recipe here.

But I'm sharing with you a few tips and tweaks that might be helpful.

First, you're supposed to use all Italian sausage. But I had about half a pound of ground turkey and two sweet Italian sausage links in my freezer, so I just cooked both of those up and put them in the soup together. As far as I know, it didn't affect the flavor of the soup at all, and it was a nice way for me to use up stuff we already had instead of going out and buying more meat.

Second, the original recipe suggests using a 7-quart slow cooker, but my 6-quart slow cooker worked just fine.

Third, make sure your chicken stock is gluten-free. I like the Kitchen Basics brand.

Fourth, you'll need to substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour. I like Bob's Red Mill brand.

And yes, the Simply Potatoes diced potatoes and onions are gluten-free! It says it right on the bag! Very convenient.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hey There Scrapbook Page

Here is the other set of photos from the baby's 6-month photo shoot. I love these pictures of her in the tub! She's so mesmerized by the rubber duck.

The patterned papers are Recollections. They were in the kit that I made my mom for Christmas, but I had to go back to Michael's and get some for myself. The yellow cardstock is Bazzill Basics. And, as you can see, I broke out the sheer pink ribbon AND yellow ribbon on this layout!

The panda sticker came from Walmart! I was browsing the scrapbook aisle there because sometimes you can find Project Life albums for cheap, and I saw this pack of stickers. The baby's nursery theme is pandas, and because she was wearing her panda hooded towel in one of the pictures, I thought the sticker would be a good fit.

The 100% adorable embellishment came from some scrapbook supplies that my mother-in-law gave me last year.

And I think the "Hey There" sticker is from Me & My Big Ideas. It seemed like the perfect sentiment to go along with the look on the baby's face when she saw the rubber duck on the tub.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - February 13

Happy Valentine's Day a day early! We don't really do much to celebrate, especially because it's on a Tuesday this year and we both work. We'll probably have soda with dinner or something. Woo! Special!

And here is what we'll be eating this week:

Sunday: Italian Sausage and Potato Roast

Monday: scrambled eggs and ham steaks

Tuesday: pasta with ground beef and salad

Wednesday: Loaded Baked Potato Skins

Thursday: French Bread Pizza

Friday: on our own

Saturday: grandma's birthday dinner

Friday, February 10, 2017

Guilt-Free Ways to Eat Chocolate

Valentine's Day is synonymous with love, red roses, and CHOCOLATE. But seriously, how many of us need any of the chocolates in the Whitman's sampler? So in honor of this month of chocolate, here are a few of my favorite chocolate hacks that allow you to still eat chocolate but with less guilt.

You've got dried apricots (which I love) and melted dark chocolate. These make a wonderful grab-and-go snack once they're made. And you're feeling good because you're getting potassium from the apricots and anti-oxidants from the dark chocolate! If you need to make these gluten-free, just make sure to read the packaging on both the fruit and the chocolate.

And speaking of apricots - use up any leftovers that you have from making the chocolate-covered apricots and put them in these chocolate chip cookies! Fruit and nuts in a cookie? That's got to be healthy right? This recipe isn't gluten-free (I made them for other people, not my husband), but you could use gluten-free all-purpose flour and just check the packaging on all of the other ingredients.

3. Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you're longing for some regular chocolate chip cookies, try this recipe from Fitness magazine! It substitutes canola oil for the butter! Again, to make these gluten-free, just sub in gluten-free all-purpose flour, like from Bob's Red Mill. (I can't believe I first made these cookies all the way back in 2009 before the Celiac diagnosis!)

4. Gluten-Free Fudgy Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies
These are based on a Hungry Girl recipe, but I used Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Devil's Food Cake Mix to make them gluten-free. So easy and only two ingredients!

Enjoy your chocolaty indulgences this Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Little Miss Scrapbook Page

So we took the baby to have 6-month photos taken, and four months later I finally got around to scrapbooking them! We did them at JCPenney because we found a good deal on GroupOn. Advice to all parents, check GroupOn for photo deals!

I purchased these papers for my mom to make a kit for her for Christmas, and I liked them so much that I went back and bought them for myself. Turns out, they were just the perfect colors to go with these pictures!

The pink cardstock is Bazzill Basics, the butterfly paper is Recollections, and most of the embellishments are Me & My Big Ideas. I just loved that "Hey Little Miss" glitter embellishment and thought it worked perfectly for this layout.

AND I even broke out some ribbon from my stash for this page! If you look at the first picture, you can see a sheer pink ribbon going across the bottom of the page. I'm really working on expanding my scrapbooking beyond the basics and getting back into using up lots of different materials! I have them, so I might as well use them!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - February 6

I've been sick since Wednesday, so when I tried to make up our meal plan last night, my heart just wasn't really in it. We keeping things simple this week and trying to use up stuff that we already had.

Sunday: sloppy joes and fries

Monday: tacos

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: pasta and salad

Thursday: chicken caesar salad

Friday: turkey burgers and fries

Saturday: chicken alfredo (Did you know Barilla now makes gluten-free fettuccine??)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Gluten-Free Turkey and Vegetable Meatloaf

A few weeks ago I put Turkey and Vegetable Meatloaf on our meal plan because ground turkey was on sale at the grocery store, and I thought the recipe looked good and HEALTHY.

A healthy meatloaf? Say what?

All of THIS goes into your meatloaf!
And it was good and it is healthy. Plus, I didn't have to do too much to make it gluten-free!

The original recipe comes from Eating Well magazine and you can find it here.

But I've got just a few tips and tweaks that you may want to know about.

First, this makes TWO loaves. And that's great because then you'll have one loaf for leftovers another night! The only thing is, I wasn't impressed with it as leftovers. The first time it was GREAT. The second time it was "eh". I think I might cut the whole recipe in half next time so that we only have one meatloaf.

Second, the recipe calls for whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs, but obviously those are not gluten-free. So I just used regular gluten-free bread crumbs. The 4C brand makes a good version of gluten-free bread crumbs.

Third (and fourth and fifth), I left out the shallots, used whatever percent milk we had in the fridge, and diced up a green bell pepper instead of a red bell pepper because green was what we had in the fridge.

And finally, the instructions don't say to but I peeled the skin off of my sweet potato before dicing it.

This is not a quick weeknight dinner to whip together once you get home from work. You'll need time to prep everything and cook everything. But if you want a hearty and healthy Sunday dinner, then I suggest you run out to your grocery store and get all the ingredients you need to make this one this weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Love Scrapbook Page

It's February, the month of LOVE! So to kick off that month, I'm sharing a family photo that was taken last fall.

I had the word patterned paper in my stash, and when I saw it a few months ago, I set it aside because I knew that I would want to use it to scrapbook pictures of the baby. I have no idea who the manufacturer is. I think this was paper that someone gave to me.

Anyway, I matted the photo onto black cardstock, and then used some chevron-patterned paper from an old American Crafts paper pad to go behind it and offer some contrast with the word paper. I just cut along the chevrons to give the edge that spiky look.

The letter stickers were in my stash, and I had gotten those in the Target $1 spot awhile ago. I also had the yellow banner in my stash and the heart embellishment in my stash. Oh, and the typewriter journaling spot.

I used up a lot of stuff from my stash on this one! You know, sometimes I feel like I have a bunch of random paper and embellishments, and none of it actually goes together, but then I put together a hodge-podge layout like this, and I'm pleasantly surprised. Does that ever happen to you?