Friday, January 23, 2015

Made With Love....Simple Ideas for Valentine's Day Gifts and Decorating

When my girls were younger,
we had barely put Christmas decorations away
before we started decorating for Valentine's Day.  
Hearts were everywhere, and we were already thinking of
what Valentines to make and what would be on our 
Pink and Red Menu for Valentine's Day.

The past few years we've kinda let it go.
Life just got more busy, you know?
Until a few days ago, when my 12 year old niece Macy
wrote to show us pictures of how she had decorated her room.
I think she did an AMAZING job!
She finished by asking how we were decorating this year.
Ummmmm..........well,  I wasn't sure if we were.
UNTIL that email from her.
Until I was inspired by a young girl's festive spirit.
So I went online and I walked around the house,
 looking for ideas.
I found a few things I had made and tweaked them a bit
to make them work for Valentine's Day, either as a
decoration or as a small gift.
See what you think........
Valentine's Gifts to Make

1.  Candy hearts look adorable in a Mason Jar pedestal.  At least I think so.......
but then, I love these candies so I would think they look great in ANYTHING!
And these are really easy to make, using a mason jar, candlestick and E6000 glue.

2.  Painted Mason Jars and Milk Bottles hold anything you can think of,
and would be a beautiful way to hold flowers, candy or special messages.

3.  Bejeweled Mini Mason Jars.......Strips of lace or burlap glued around a jar, embellished with a jewel and/or flower.  These look cute gathered on a table top and make
AWESOME gift containers!  No wrapping necessary:)

4.  Heart Garland.......dollar store craft!  

5.  Heart Pencil Toppers........Again, the wire and pencils were bought at the dollar store.
Simply twist a piece of the wire into a heart shape and wrap on the pencil tops.
These heart toppers are also fabulous on a longer stick and used as bubble blowers!  

Thank you Macy!
Without the inspiration from you, we might've been lazy and let this Holiday slip by:)

A few other decorations I found were these:
A heart wreath.......paper hearts glued on a wreath or any round form.
Paper heart wreath

 Pom Pom Monsters!
How cute are these?  Pretty dang cute if you ask me:)
Pom-Pom Monsters

Heart Rag Wreath!  Super cute and EASY!

Yarn wrapped letters or hearts.  This is such a simple project that
will be a real eye catcher!

Well, why NOT a heart tree?  
You could write little messages on them or leave as is.........
cute either way!
  Remember the heart garland I mentioned above?
You could tie them on branches outside.  Awesome!

Alrighty then, I think that's about it.
Check back soon.......I have other ideas to pass on but didn't want
 to bombard anyone:)


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

BLT Mac n Cheese, Chocolate Chip Raspberries and MORE Good Stuff!

Well hello there!
I stumbled on a recipe today that has me curious.
BLT Macaroni and Cheese!
I mean, talk about a double whammy of comfort food.....
Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich and Macaroni and Cheese.
Love 'em both!
I haven't made it yet but I think maybe one of these days soon I will:)
BLT Mac n Cheese
BLT Macaroni-n-Cheese   
1 loaf (32 oz) prepared cheese product, cut into large cubes
1/4 cup butter
4 cups whole milk
* 1/8-1/4 tsp ground mustard (optional)
1 package (16 oz) elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
2 cups small cherry tomatoes
1 bag (9 oz) fresh spinach (or lettuce of choice)
1 lb bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1 cup plain or Italian-style panko crispy bread crumbs
* * Personally, I will saute chopped onions in a bit of butter to add to this dish.
1.  In microwavable bowl, place cheese cubes, butter and milk. Microwave uncovered on High 8 to 10 minutes, stirring with whisk at the 4 minute interval.   Stir again after 8-10 minutes; repeat microwaving until all cheese is melted and mixture can be stirred smooth, 
a total of about 15 minutes.  Stir in ground mustard if desired.
 * If you prefer, melt cheese on the stove top.  
2.  Heat oven to 350°F. Cook macaroni in boiling salted water 3 minutes less than directed on box (macaroni should be firm). Drain; place in 15x10-inch (4-quart) glass baking dish. Pour melted cheese sauce over macaroni; mix well. Stir in shredded cheese, tomatoes and spinach.
3Cover dish with foil; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle bacon and bread crumbs evenly over top. Bake 5 minutes longer or until top is lightly browned. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
source: adapted from a recipe found on Betty Crocker

don't stop here!
after this munchkin you'll find one of our favorite treats.......
mini bulldog puppy

Chocolate Chip Raspberries!
white chocolate raspberries
Pretty self-explanatory.......
We used white chocolate chips but have used dark and milk chocolate also.
All three are Goooood!
Just clean the strawberries, place a chip in each and pop 'em in!
(I've probably shared this on here but it's worth repeating:)

Hmmmmm....what else can I pass on.......
Got it!
If y'all are like me, you get MAJOR cravings!!!!!
What to do, what to do!
How about this?
Cure Cravings
Cure cravings and get water for me.
At least, I hope it does!!

I leave you with this little gem from the beloved Dr. Seuss.
(i think he's genius:)
Dr. Seuss Quote


Monday, January 12, 2015

Questions and Answers on Goals, Change, Aging and Style.......

We have a really gray, rainy Monday going on,
which suits me just fine.
I've worked hard organizing a few rooms lately and just feel tired.
And lazy.
So on this dreary Monday, 
a blog post might be the most ambitious thing I do:)

My blog challenge topic today is to answer a few questions, so here goes.......
Question #1.  What is your #1 goal this year?
have less stuff and more adventures...a great goal
Goal for 2015
I didn't mention this earlier because I only just thought about it.
 And by "adventures", they don't have to be BIG to be an adventure.

Question #2.  What is your philosophy on aging?
Well, I believe it is part of life.  We can fight it or figure out how to make the best of it.
Some days I believe this more than others, but basically, that's it.
I spend a lot of time thinking of ways to enjoy life in the coming years
and be useful and happy.  Worth thinking about, right?
Re: looks......I have my crappy days for sure,
but overall, I would like to think I don't go crazy fighting the process.
Laugh em!
Wrinkles from the sun?
Yes.  Wish I didn't have so many and that I wouldn't continue getting them,
but for much of my life I worked HARD for that tan. 
Like I said to my girls when they were younger,  (Sometimes I still say it:)
"You get what you get and you don't throw a fit".
I asked for that tan and therefore these wrinkles.
At least I enjoyed getting them.

I love Jamie Lee Curtis' thoughts on aging.
Jamie Lee Curtis on AgingJamie Lee Curtis on Aging
I like her look too.......especially her hair!

Question #3.  Can people change?
I believe they can.  I believe I have.  In many ways.
I believe there are aspects of us that must change the longer
 we live and the more we learn.
I believe we need change in the world and we need to be open to change sometimes,
because it will happen.
But I also believe some people can't.  Or rather, won't.
Whether they are conceited enough to think they don't need to, or just
plain stubborn enough to refuse to, some people will never change.
We all know people like this.
Which is why I BEG my girls not to marry someone, thinking they will
change them.  Better know it's just not gonna happen.
It may for awhile, and you may get that special person who does,
but it's too much of a gamble when talking about marriage.
Changing others
Good way to look at it.......
Sometimes this is the truth.

 Question #4.  What is your favorite accessory?
This one's easy!  My daughter is a "Stylist" at Michael Kors Lifestyle Store.
(that's what they call sales associates:)
Anyway, I've always liked his bags but I have since come to LOVE his watches.

I love Michael Kors watches
Before this, my favorite accessories would have been bracelets, 
but now I have to say watches.
They're a good look for me and quite reasonable.
What I REALLY love is that he likes mixing metals.......I do too.
And he believes in layering bracelets with the watch.........I do too.

So we are a perfect fit:)

Have a great day!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mmmmmm........Slow Cooker Sweet-Spicy Chili

Confession time........
I've made the same chili for years.
AND, it partially comes from a box.
We like Two Alarm Chili, which comes with all the seasonings you need.
Of course, you add the meat, tomatoes, beans........

However, we had a CHILLY day this week and wanted chili.
But I had no car to go to the store, so that meant I had to make it from scratch.
Whoa.......grown-up chili! lol
I found a recipe from Betty Crocker and figured, basic must be pretty good.
AND, it was a slow cooker recipe.......even better.

After reading the reviews, I tweaked it a bit (kinda proud of that;)
Rather than being a hot, spicy chili,
it was more of a spicy~SWEET chili, which was totally okay
with us.  (We love Cincinnati chili which is sweeter)
If you don't mind your chili with a bit of hot and a bit more sweet, give it a try.
My 17 year old ate so many spoonfuls while it was simmering, she hardly wanted dinner.
THAT good.
My 20 year old came home from work at 8:30, wasn't sure how hungry she was, 
devoured a bowl.  I imagine young children would LOVE it.  Husband loved it, I loved it.......all in all a great cold-weather meal.

20 minutes prep in the morning = a bowl of chili when you get home from work!
Adapted from Betty Crocker

Prep Time 20 min  Total Time 6 hr 20 min  Servings 8
2 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (16 oz) chili beans in sauce, undrained
(* 1 can red kidney beans.......if you like more beans)
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
3-3 and 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 and 1/2-2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 cup brown sugar (trust me)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
* * * I didn't have garlic cloves so I used garlic salt in place of regular salt.

1. In 12-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes,
 stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain.
2. In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, mix beef, onion and remaining ingredients.
3. Cover and cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.

It was different for us, but apparently a welcome change since we devoured it:)


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Things I wish I Knew How To Do.....And AMAZING Bourbon-Less Chicken.......

I suppose we all have things we wish we knew how to do.
My list would be a long one if I really thought about it.
Today's writing prompt is to list one or two things I wish I knew how to do,
so I'll go with the first few that popped in my head.

I wish I knew how to crochet.
A year or so ago, I actually found a yarn store and signed up for a class.
I didn't realize that it was ONLY knitting.........the owner didn't care for crochet.
But that was ok.......close enough.

* * * Note to yarn store owners..........
When you have a first time student, please don't scour your store for the
U.G.L.I.E.S.T color of yarn EVER.
There really are people like me who like color......... a lot of it.  And pretty color at that.
So to start with, I already hated my project.
Then, the other 3 ladies apparently were old friends/long-time customers
because y'all knew everything about each other.
So you sat and talked to them the whole time and barely remembered that I was there.........
fighting with my grotesque yarn to do the right stitches,
until I got up and came to ask you for help.
And you were only two seats away from me.
That was my one and only "class experience".   And by the time I got home,
I had forgotten how I did anything at all.
Next time, I will try to learn with online videos.
At least I can pretend they are paying attention to me;)
After all, I have so many important pieces I want to crochet
for my grandchildren someday.......
Sources:  Click on each link.....Booties,  Indian Headdress, Elsa Hat "Frozen",  Cowboy Hat and Booties
See?  SUPER important things I need to make them:)

The next thing that popped in this ol' head was this...........
I wish I knew how to ice skate.
Oh, we used to skate as kids but I can't remember that.

I think it would be a fun way to get a bit of activity in, especially when it's so blasted hot outside here, which is pretty often:)
Therefore, I start ice skating classes in February.
And I can't wait:)
Just hope I don't look like this on my first day!
I probably will, but that's okay.
I'm still really excited.
Because deep down, I think I could've been a really good skater;)

I started to learn to speak French,
before we went to Paris.
I learned a few phrases, but I think it's such a beautiful sounding language that I'd
like to learn to speak it more fluently.

Lastly, I have a Canon rebel camera that I want need to learn to use.
Then maybe I could stop practicing how to take selfies.
Yes I'm 50.......not 15:)
There you have it!
Things I would love to know how to do.

Moving on,  my niece visited over New Year's and told me about a recipe (and food blog)
that she loved.  The recipe is for Bourbon-less Chicken
and the blog is Jamie Cooks it Up.
Wow.......what a find.

Tonight I made it using Jamie's recipe,
and I could have eaten the whole pan all by myself.
In fact, just writing this makes me wish I had tripled the recipe!
You have to try it out.  For real!
Feel free to add some stir friend veggies, but make sure you increase your liquid amounts.
In fact, I increased my liquid anyway because I like my rice floating in sauce:)
5 chicken breasts
2 T oil
1 t minced garlic
1/4 C apple or pineapple juice
1/3 C brown sugar
2 T ketchup
1 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 C water
1/3 C soy sauce
pinch red pepper flakes

1 T cornstarch

1. Cut your chicken into small 1-2 inch pieces with some kitchen scissors. 
2. Heat up a large skillet over medium high heat. Once it is hot, pour 2 T Olive Oil into it. 
3. Add your chicken pieces to the pan and let them cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
4. The chicken will start to get a bit juicy and bubbly. 
Put the lid on the pan, slightly tilted and drain the juices out into the sink. Return the pan to the stove top and continue cooking over medium high heat. 
5. Into a medium sized mixing bowl combine 1 t garlic, 1/4 C apple or pineapple juice, 1/3 C brown sugar, 2 T ketchup, 1 T apple cider vinegar, 1/2 C water, 1/3 C soy sauce, a pinch of red pepper flakes and 1 T cornstarch. Whisk it all together until the cornstarch is dissolved and all ingredients are well combined. 
6. When your chicken has a nice brown sear on some of the pieces…
pour the sauce into the pan. Stir it around to cover all the chicken pieces. 
7. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pan with the lid at an angle to allow some of the steam to escape. Let this baby simmer away for about 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times during the cooking period. 
8. Serve over white or brown rice. 

I can't wait to try more recipes from Jamie Cooks it Up!
Guess that's it for today.
Is there something YOU wish you could do?

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