Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Ten from 2010

I've seen the 'top ten' post over the net the last few days, and I loved reading them, so here I go...
These were (some of) my top 10 favorite (craft related) post from 2010.  Some were influenced by the number of responses, some I just loved for personal reasons.  In no particular order, because 'orderly things' really aren't for me....
1.  Mini Caramel Apples

Is there anything better than mini and sticks?  I think not. 
2.  Cinnamon Buns On-A-Stick
I love things on sticks so much I had to create a label for this line of post.  I'm planning a week of 'stick' related projects next year.  That's the plan at least, assuming the guys with the straight jacket can't catch me.
3.  Cowgirl Baby Shower

I thought about throwing my Twilight Party up, but I decided this was probably sweeter b/c it's for Alexis' Mom, and in the end, they trump Edward any day of the week.  I'm planning a few more parties this year as well....both Twilight and baby themed.  You'll be glad to know they won't be overlapping.
4.  Cake in a Jar

This an idea I've adapted quite a few times after running across the instructions on the net.  I'll be throwing a week of jars up at some point too, but I can't promise it'll be next year....I mean, a week with sticks will take awhile to recover from.

I heart this tablecloth of Mary's, and I want a time machine so bad.  Michael J. Fox and I would head back 30 some years in my life, and we'd rig one of these up so I could run my fingers along my family's signatures. 
6.  A Week Of...
I've started the 'week of' this year, and I really like blogging in themes.  It takes some planning ahead.  I don't actually sit down and make 9 gingerbread projects in one week, but it's fun to throw them up all together.  I have some already planned or finished from past projects I didn't post in the past.  From Valentine's Day, to Mardi Gras, and I've already got a line of Christmas gifts set to post that I didn't throw up this year b/c I had not given the gift yet.  I guess I'm planning on staying around for awhile longer, and blogging, from time to time, in themes. 
After seeing this idea on the net (all my sources, as always are linked to the original post), I made a few versions of this over the last year for cute kiddos I know....I have one more hula hoop, and sheet set ready for 2011. 
I love my dogs, the slew of dog related treats I make probably make that obvious, the 4 hours I spend discussing them with anyone who will listen cements that. 
Yum
10.  Cupcakes
Cupcakes never get old.  I'm planning a week of non cake related cupcakes this year too.  And then I'm planning on starting a support group.  I'll serve cupcakes at all our meetings.  I'm not really good at support groups, but I'm pretty good at serving cupcakes.
Linking To: 

New Year: Low(er) Fat Macaroni and Cheese


The New Year's always brings along those resolutions....and I'm a resolution girl. I think there is only one year in the recent....or distant past that losing weight wasn't on my list, and that was only because I was ALREADY on a diet with the New Year began. It'll be there again. I have been pretending to TRY to eat healthier/lose weight for awhile now...and when I say "awhile"...I mean 18 or 19 years. Ha....oh well....goals are good. In recent days :cough years cough: one of my friends and I have been hanging out at some meetings with that as the end goal, that organization includes access to some recipe favorites that are lower caloried. I'd say names, but I think you can fill in the blanks, and I know 'they' aren't so happy about you sharing stuff other people have to pay for, but...I need to get my money's worth somehow, so I'll share one of the recipes I essentially BOUGHT...and it would probably be working too if I didn't insist on following up said recipe with cupcakes, cookies, and a general lack of self control from 8 am....well....'til about 7 am.
The whole point of this recipe is that you can still have your favorites things, just lighten them up a bit so you (and by 'you' I mean my alter ego) can still stay within a reasonable calorie range. The other point I'd like to make, you should ignore everything I say at all points, except this-this is a pretty good 'diet' recipe, without the weird diet after taste. I'll probably add a few more seasonings next time....more salts, maybe season all?... or something.
This recipe cuts the normal calories for this indulgent dish almost in half. And when I say 'normal'....I'm from the south where butter is a food group. 
Baked Macaroni Instructions
Boil 12 oz of elbow noodles as instructed on the box. Drain.
Mix noodles and 1/2 c. fat free sour cream.
Heat 12 oz can of non-fat evaporated milk in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. When small bubbles begin to form along the edges of the saucepan, add 8 ounces of low-fat cheddar cheese (watch in closely or the bottom with burn if it boils without your attention). Stir until melted, and then whisk an additional 2 minutes with a whisk on low.
To the cheese mix add:
Add 1 T Dijon Mustard, 1/4 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper, 1/8 t. nutmeg.
Pour cheese mix over noodles, and stir.
Place macaroni mix into a casserole dish.
Mix 2 T of bread crumbs, and 2 T. shredded Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni dish.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
*I used Italian bread crumbs, b/c it's what I had on hand, but it added some different flavors with the seasoning, and I really liked the saltiness the Parmesan cheese brought to the dish.
Linking To:  Sugar Bananas

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year: Party Hat Trail Mix

I saw a tutorial using bugles to make Santa Hats over Christmas, and I thought this would be easily adapted to a New Year's Eve party hat. 
To make the hats, the tutorial suggest getting one of the candy coated Bugles, like caramel, it makes the bugles sturdier for dipping, and tastier for eating.  This is what I grabbed to make the party hats. 
Bugles, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and sprinkles.  You could certainly use various chocolate chips, or sprinkles to make an array of hats, but I had a time table I was working under. 
I dipped the bugles in the melted chocolate (I melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave for 30 seconds stir....repeat one more time if necessary....it depends on how hot your microwave runs).  I pushed a marshmallow on top, and let it harden on wax paper. 
When it tried, I reheated the chocolate, and dipped the bottom in chocolate again, and then dipped it in my sprinkles. 
I let it dry (again), and then I used the rest of my chocolate and poured it over pretzels, and chex. 
I'd probably go with white chocolate next time, but I was pretending to be frugal.  I tossed in the rest of my sprinkles, and coconut to look like confetti. 
Normally, I would have added M&M's and peanuts, but I was giving this to one of my friends with a little kiddo, and I didn't want there to be any surprising choking hazards (she's Jewish, so Christmas was out, Hanukkah is over, but she's in town, so I'm going with "New Year's"
I had some left over I might throw out on New Year's with those M&M's and nuts and serve them in these lonely champagne glasses. 
Linking To:  Somewhat Simple Hoo's Got Talent Fun to Craft Crafty Soiree Sassy Sites

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year: New You Pink Lemonade Hand Scrub Party Favor

Maybe I'm the only one, but when I enter the New Year, I want everything to be fresh.  I clean my house, I take a super long shower, and scrub all the grime from the last year away, I clean out my fridge, I make a new list, I delete all the numbers of my phone I should have deleted 11 months, and 30 days ago, I delete all the bad memories...OK...maybe not, I save those up for a therapy couch somewhere. 
I actually made this scrub as a gift for someone over the Christmas holiday as well, but I decided to save it and share now as a New Year's party favor idea...new skin for the new year.  It's really inexpensive to make, and there are about 13,000 ways you can make this scrub using things you already have in your house, including the jars.  I've seen these great little scrubs all over the net, but last year I saw a recipe via Under the Table and Dreaming that seemed really easy and doable using lemon's.  I decided to go with pink lemonade because I had some, and, well, I'm a fan of pink. 
I saved a glass cherry jar from my 7,865,234th project of the week (along with olive jars, pimento jars, and jam jars).  I used some scratch paper to trace a circle on the paper, and glued it down to the lid (which I painted the side  of with white paint).
To make the innards, I mixed 2 1/2 C. of sugar with 1 C. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a little container of pink lemonade mix (the Walmart version of Crystal Light).  I also added a few drops of lemon juice to pump up the lemon scent.  You can use any natural scent including brown sugar, vanilla....whatever.
You stir it all up, and get a nice scrub to wash away the old. 
I'm always out of ink in my printer, so I used some stamps for the tag....I always forget this until I'm desperate, but you can actually color stamps with markers, and they stamp just as well as a pad, and you don't have to find a home for 27 different stamp pads.  This part of the post is for my benefit, I keep forgetting these things I figured out at some point, so I'm reminding myself below....
I tied the spoon (left over from a thrift store find, and a failed metal stamping attempt) on with some pink ribbon along with my tag.  Please add tags to the list of things I'm mildly obsessed with...and I use the word 'mildly' only because in some 7th grade world it's opposite day. 

And now....a fresh way to scrub off the old year....assuming it left some dust on you too.
Linking To:
Topsy Turvy, Tip Junkie, Sassy Sites

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year: Cupcake Wand

I've been wanting to make cupcake wands for awhile (they look suspiciously like my corn dog cupcakes).  This seems like a good chance.  I'm going to mix up my next wand attempt with some friends of the cupcake (like fruit).  In the meantime:  Sprinkles in the batter, sprinkles on top, I think it covers the 'festive' atmosphere New Year's Eve brings with it.  One suggestion-putt some melted chocolate on the stick to hold the cupcakes in place as you slide them on. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year: Count Down Numbered Glasses

I don't know what my obsession is with wine glasses.  I don't drink wine.  Up until a few months ago, I owned a few champagne flutes, 0 wine glasses, and I didn't even own a wine opener.  All of the sudden I discovered chalkboard paint, and painted everything that stood still look enough to grab a layer, including a set of wine glasses, which I blogged about here.  Next,  I saw some like this (1-10) for a New Year's champagne toast on Martha....so cute!   These inspired this little craft.  I took some etching paint (which I'm still not entirely sure how to use), cut out some 2 inch numbers with my cricut. 
Taped them to the glasses, and painted with the etching paint. 
I'm going to jazz these up for a gift in the not-so-distant-future, but for now, I have number glasses, which is a fun twist on the "Which glass is mine?" game or a holiday like NYE.  This is not the last I'll be posting about these glasses.....there is a fun, and colorful forecast in their future, but I decided to share the beginning since it might be fun to throw these out in champagne flute style, or wine glasses this NYE.
Linking To:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Year: Appetizer Ideas Parmesan Bites

New Year's has always been about appetizers for me.  I rarely sit down and enjoy a big meal all at once, nope, I get in trouble nibbling on lots of little dishes, and this is the perfect time to indulge...or get in trouble, whatever your version of this story.  This is an appetizer recipe, Jennifer at work shared a few years ago, and I finally found an excuse to try it out!  She got this recipe from kraftfood, and I remember loving it when she brought it....anything that starts with bread, and cheese is right up my alley!
Ingredients: 
8 oz of cream cheese, softened, 1 c. grated paremsan cheese, divided, 2 (8 oz) cans of crescent rolls, 1 c. of chopped red pepper, 1/4 c. fresh parsley. 
*You can substitute the fresh peppers for drained, roasted red peppers, pepperonni etc
Instructions:
1.  Beat Cream cheese, and 3/4 c. of paremesan cheese. 
2.  Chop parsley and red pepper. 
3.  Roll out dough, break apart pairs of crescent traingles, and press seams to make a rectangle.  Place three T of cheese mix, and sprinkle with peppers and parsley. 
4.  Fold and press edges together, and then slice into 4 equal pieces.  Sprinkle with the last 1/4 of parmesan (I switched to the bottled kind at this point....I just like it better as a topping, but do whatever floats our cheese boat). 
Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes.  32 servings total. 
For other appetizer ideas I love (and I should know), I created an appetizer label to click on below this post, they should pop up. 
Linking To:
Mother of Pearl

A Week of: New Year's Eve Ideas

It's the 26th...that means we have exactly 6 days left to eat whatever we want before New Year's diets begin....right?  That is how this whole thing works....or is that Mardi Gras? 
Whatever...
I'm stretching my box a bit, but I've got a week of  "New Year's" kind-a-ish post to throw up on my computer this week....it'll probably be a slow week for bloggers/and readers, but....I'll throw them up anyway....for anyone that needs a little reading while you shuffle in the contents of your stocking!  And when I say *you*...I mean...hi future, Me...save me a skittle! 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Traditions

I love Christmas.  I don't think I'm alone.  I love pulling out each ornament, remembering where I got it, or the story that goes behind the ornaments from years before my memories begin. 
I love going to Kuby's, and picking up sandwich meat for our Christmas Eve meal. 
Something a little lighter to leave room for a stocking full of candy, and a big Christmas lunch the following day. 
I love grabbing cookies at Stein's. 
Second ONLY to my grandmother's sugar cookie recipe (thanks to my cousin, this year). 
And then there is 'the cup.' 
This was the free gift that came with a 25 dollar purchase at Hilo Hattie's in Hawaii.  My Mom and I had pulled our souvenirs when we 'earned' this treasure, and we couldn't decide who 'got' to keep this.  We've been wrapping it (and adding a small gift inside) and passing it back and forth for more than ten years now.  It goes back and forth for each holiday.  At some point, as I'm unwrapping gifts I pick up this little cubed box and I re-remember....ugh, it looks like it's my turn. 
The thing about traditions, apparently I'm not the only one that has them. Kuby's is standing room only, you have to take a number at Stein's bakery, and there's lines at the restaurants, stores, and specialty shops all over town.  But 'our' family traditions make me feel a little closer to people who aren't here anymore that started these traditions.  I know in heaven today they enjoyed a feast, maybe exchanged a ridiculous coffee cup, and sprinkled some sugar cookies, and I miss them, but also feel closest to my family, here and away, than any other time of the year. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Date in a Box

One last gift before Christmas.  My friend, Kelly, called me up last week in desperate need of some ideas for the guy in her life. 
He doesn't live in town right now. 
He's a romantic. 
She's new at being with a romantic.  I'm glad she found a romantic, but....I want to throw up a little bit just hearing about it, but I helped her anyway.  ;o) 
After much brainstorming, and working until 3 am, we put together a Christmas Date-In-A-Box (long distance).  It's a little late for anyone else, but I guess there is always Valentine's Day. 
She included two cards, one with instructions on how the date went, and the second was attached to a cute frame she made for future Christmas dates they'll have together. 
Date One Included: 
  • A CD she made of her favorite Christmas songs. 
  • She left instructions to plug this in so 'now they'd decorated for Christmas.'  The cord was dangling out of the lid. We screwed down after filling the jar with lights and bulbs.
  • A warm blanket to snuggle down in and enjoy the date. 
  • Hot cocoa with all the fixings, including the mug. 
  • A matching plate, and some 'dinner' a la Hickery Farms (safe or shipping). 
  • And red velvet cake (his favorite) in a jar for dessert. We layered the cake between two levels of icing, and she took it to ship the very next day, and sent it priority.   I'm pretty sure he lived to tell about it, so I guess red velvet is safe to ship. 
 Apparently he loved it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vintage Book Package Shred

So...a few months back I went to Canton (a mecca for crafts and antiques), and I saw this one booth selling vintage book shred in packages like the above.  Huh?  I was fascinated by it b/c it was something I never would have thought to use for anything but a litter box, but it appealed the the gift wrapper in me.  I used a book I bought for 80 cents at a discount book store last week to make a wreath. 
I chose this particular book b/c it was the biggest, and the cheapest.  I felt a little guilty ripping it to shreds, and I wish I had truly 'icky/old' books to do this to, but I try to get rid of that asap.  It seems pretty obvious.  Rip the pages, and run them through a shredder, but I'm really looking forward to using this book shred for the filling in future packages.  I made this previously for a wreath, and after shredding this up for packaging, I had enough left to make a spell book.  I'd say I got my 80 cents worth.   You know what they say, one man's trash is another man's gift wrap material.  ;o)  That is how the saying goes, right?  Anyway....I'm using this as some box fillers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Light Cupcakes

I had some mini cupcakes I baked for a project that didn't happen.  I decided to throw together a string of lights instead.  They kinda look like oranments, but the string of licorice makes them lights, OK?  I would be fun to string these across a dessert bar.  I popped on some chocolate chips, and called it a day. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cheese Soup


My cousin's wife introduced this to our family one Christmas. It's a traditional soup her family enjoys every season. I'm glad my cousin married her because she's sweet, and fun, but this just increases that gladness. It is now part of our Christmas Eve tradition as well. I promise you won't regret trying this out! I file this in my recipe box under "Yum."
Ingredients
•6 cups Water
•4 cubes Chicken Bouillon
•2-½ cups Potatoes
•1 cup Celery
•1 cup Onion
•20 ounces, weight Frozen Vegetables (Carrots, Cauliflower, And Broccoli Mix)
•2 cans (10.75 Oz. Can) Cream Of Chicken Soup
•1 pound Velveeta Cheese
Preparation Instructions
1. Boil water, bouillon cubes, diced potatoes, chopped celery, and chopped white onions for 20 minutes in a large pan.
2. Add frozen veggies and boil for 10 more minutes.
3. Add soup, and cubed cheese. Cook until cheese is melted.
4. Serve with French bread or in sourdough bread bowls.
Linking To: 
Funky Junk Fun to Craft Sugar Bananas House of Hepworths

Monday, December 20, 2010

Article #2: Sharpening College Career Tools

     My second article ran this past Sunday in the Dallas Morning News.  Here it is.
     There are so many great teachers and parents out there, but there are still a few that don't look long term....there is a definite link between who we are in 2nd grade, what we are held accountable for in 4th grade, and what habits we form in 5th grade that can make or break the next 7 years. 
     The abrieviated back story is:  I watched my Mom complete her college courses throughout my childhood, and I attended her graduation when I was in junior high.  She was the first woman to complete college in our family....and after seeing the sacrifices she made to further her education, and even being included in some of her class assignments, and watching her wade through paper writing....I was proud of her, and there was no doubt in my mind I'd go to college, and I knew what it would look like when I got there. 
     College isn't the path for everyone, but it was the path for me, and I'm sure glad someone prepared my way, and knew the ropes when it came around to being ready to head down that road. 

Naughty? ...or Nice? Sugar Cookies

I made this tray of cookies for small Christmas gifts (yet to be named because they are yet to be given).  It's for a group, so....decisions need to be made...who's feeling naughty?  Who's feeling nice this Christmas? 
I saw this cute little gift cookie cutter awhile ago, and I thought it would be great because with one slice of a knife, gifts turn to coal. 
I baked up my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and then whipped up some icing.  Not to be a broken record, but if you add 1 T. of karo syrup to 1 c.  icing, it will harden after about ten hours, and you can package it up. 
I left the gift icing white, and then just dipped them in sprinkles. 
I dyed some icing a reddish color, filled a ziplock, snipped the end, and piped on ribbon. 
I dyed the coal icing gray (so any part that wasn't sprinkled would look darker), and repeated the process, minus the bow.  Naughty people don't deserve bows. 
I printed off some labels, slipped my cookies into baggies, and tied on the messages.