New Orleans Pasta

Friday, August 31, 2018 No comments
     About August, when I head back to school, I start dreaming of snow days.  I seem to think that if I fill my pantry and freezer for a snow day (which we haven't had in three years).....or a snow week (which has happened exactly one time in almost 4 decades of living here in Texas) that it will happen.  BUT, in order to fill the freezer, I must first empty it of last year's snowy dreams.
      So.....the first few weeks have been about using the frozen meats in my supply, which has me hunting down recipes to try, and when I saw this really simple recipe from mustlovehome, I had my doubts of how flavorful it could possibly be with so few steps.  It turns out it was soooooo delicious!  So, time to go stock up on sausage again b/c this is one I'd love to get stuck at home with on a snow day.
New Orleans Pasta
Ingredients:  12 oz of packaged smoked sausage (cut into thin, round circles), 8 oz of bowtie pasta (cooked according to package instructions), 2 c. of whipping cream, 1 T garlic (minced), 1 T Cajun seasoning, 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese (shredded)
1.  In a large skillet saute the sausage sliced until browned around the edges.  
2  Add the garlic to the browned sausage and cook for another minute. 
3.  Add the cream and Cajun seasoning.  Stir until blended and bring the cream to a boil  
4.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes (until the cream mix has thickened).
5.  Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan, stir until mixed and melted.  
6.  Add the pasta to the pan, toss to coat.  Serve warm.  

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 No comments
 I've been working through a list of 40 things I wanted to do in the year before I turned 40.  One was to make homemade noodles.  That experiment definitely needs to be redone.  Maybe the problem was I kept feeling like I was playing with playdough, and those it reminded me of what I imagine playdough taste like.  I can't confirm that...I probably ate it as a child, but I don't remember.  But....whatever those  pasta making issues were, the sauce I made to go on top WAS on point and I wouldn't change a thing!  It's almost an exact match to The Pioneer Woman's sauce, but this is how I did it (just a few additions).  I can't wait to try this out with some lasagna.  It was worth the simmer time!
Marinara Sauce
Ingredients:  1/4 c. olive oil, 1 yellow onion (diced), 5 cloves of garlic (minced), 2 large carrots (peeled and diced), 2 cans (28 oz each) whole tomatoes, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. black pepper, 4 t. sugar, 1 small can of tomato paste,  2 (heaping) T Italian seasoning, cooked pasta, fresh Parmesan cheese
1.  In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium.  Add the onion, garlic, and carrots.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  
2.  Pour tomatoes and juice into a bowl and use your hands to squish the tomatoes so the juices are released and they are broken into smaller chunks.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste to the onion mix along with your salt, pepper, sugar, and Italian seasoning.  
3.  Simmer for 1 1/2 hours (uncovered).  Stir occasionally.  
4.  Toss with pasta.  Top with cheese.  

Ephemera: Dance Cards

Monday, August 27, 2018 No comments
 I love all things ephemera.  As a crafter, I know when I'm working with 'vintage' scraps of paper like this, they won't last the length a 'fresh' piece would, but I just am in love with antiques.  I recently found this little set of dance cards at an antique store in Galveston.
 I have some of these from my great grandmother that are one of my favorite things b/c my great grandfather's name is scrolled across a line or 4.  I just love the idea of the ladies wearing these little cards on their wrist and etching in the names of gentlemen.
 I'm not sure what I'll do with these dance cards....something scrapbook-ish eventually....or maybe just some fun decor under a bell jar.
 But in the meantime....I'm going to let them tell me stories.

Sweet and Salty Trail Mix

Friday, August 24, 2018 No comments
 Years ago I had this particular mix of 'stuff' in a trial mix at a staff development.  I made it a few times afterwards, and every time I was asked for the recipe.  It's a strange sounding mix, but it really is the perfect mix of salty and sweet!!!  This week I wanted to take a little something to some of the gals I've been teaching with FOREVER to celebrate another first day, so I threw this little vintage mix together...
 Sweet and Salty Trail Mix:  3/4 of a bag of fritoes, 1 bag of gold fish crackers, 1 can of mixed nuts, 1 cup of raisins, 1 c. of coconut flakes, 1 bag of peanut butter m&m's (8 oz), 1 bag of crispy m&ms (8oz).

Pom Pom Fall Wreath

Wednesday, August 22, 2018 1 comment
I recently made this wreath for my friend.  I have about 17 million extra wreaths at my house, so when I was thinking about making some fall d├ęcor, I called up my pal Kelly and asked her if she would use this on her door.  I've been really into pom poms lately, so....which not make a million of them, tie them to a wire wreath, and call it a project?  When we chatted, she mentioned interchangeable decorations, and so I made some vintage cats and leaves and added clothes pins to the back so they can be attached....
 It really was a super easy project, it just took some time to make all those pom poms, but....that's what tv is for, right?  I wrapped and vegged.  I used this brand and a color called burnt pumpkin.  It did end up taking two rolls of it.  I bought it at Hobby Lobby (not sure if they sell it everywhere, but....just to save on searching).
 I just used some super cheap felt and cut out some leaf shapes and cats and added some decorations.  I hot glued the clothes pins and then put an extra square of felt across the back to secure them further.
 I really think I'm going to make a few more of these for different seasons b/c I'm a fan!

Baby Boy Gift Card

Monday, August 20, 2018 No comments
I TRY to make homemade cards as much as possible.  When I'm on top of my game (all both days of the year), I'll make them in advance and have them ready to address when the announcements start rolling in.  I recently made some pink baby cards, but I realized everyone won't necessarily be having girls (though it currently feels that way), so....I put together a few boy cards for my collection.  I had these polka dot cards from Hobby Lobby (and the polka dot scrapbook page, and crocheted flowers (a line called Poppies and Paperie).  I took some scrap fabric and sewed in to the card using a zig zag stitch and then attached the other pieces with glue.
Next up....more birthday cards b/c these people just keep on insisting on celebrating their birthdays.….

Orange Rolls

Friday, August 17, 2018 No comments

I recently got the Magnolia Table cook book for my birthday.  I saw a recipe for Orange Rolls using canned crescent rolls, and I thought NO WAY.  If you have ever slaved away proofing cinnamon roll dough, you'll understand my doubts when it came to this short cut, but you know what?  These.  Were.  Amazing.  Seriously, so delicious that when I tell you my mouth is watering, it's not just b/c I don't know how to describe the level of flavor, it literally is water.  The hardest thing about the recipe was zesting an orange....and that wasn't hard.  I can't wait to try these out with different flavor combinations.  Forget that.  I can't wait to just try these out with oranges.  The only adjustment I made was I used 3 large oranges (instead of the 5 'oranges' size given).  I didn't actually flip out my rolls, so there was also a LOT of butter swimming in the pan.  I mean, is butter ever a bad thing?  BUT if you don't do that step, cut the butter back.   I also always buy a name brand crescent roll b/c I have found some of the off brands don't taste as good.    But I might try and cut back to one stick next time.  I'm going to write the recipe as I made it, and adjust that later if it works.  I can't WAIT to try out some more recipes in the book.  
Magnolia Orange Rolls
Roll Ingredients:  12 T of salted butter (1 1/2 stick at room temperature), 3/4 c. packed brown sugar, 4 t. packed, finely grated orange zest (I just zested 1 large orange), 1 t. cinnamon, 2 cans (8 oz) canned crescent rolls, 1 c. chopped walnuts
Glaze Ingredients:  2 c. powdered sugar, finely grated zest of 2 (large) oranges, 2 t. vanilla, 1/2 c. orange juice (I used the ones I zested)
1.  Preheat oven to 375.  
2.  Mix the softened (not melted) butter, brown sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon.  Use a fork to mash it together and make a paste.  
3.  Open one can of dough and unroll onto a work surface.  Press perforations closed to make single rectangle.  Spread half the butter mix evenly over the dough.  Scatter with half the walnuts.  Start with the long side and roll up to form a log.  Cut into 6 equal pieces.  
4.  Repeat with second can of dough.  
5.  Place into 8 inch round cake pan (I used an 8x10 inch rectangle pan and it worked great).  
6.  Bake for 30 minutes (until they have a deep golden brown color).  
7.  While it's baking, make the glaze by mixing all the ingredients.  
8.  Invert the rolls into a serving plate.  Let them stand for 5 minutes and then drizzle with the glaze.  
9.  Serve warm.  Store up to 2 days in an airtight container.  

Baby Girl Card

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 No comments
I threw a shower a few weeks back.  I had two bags left over from the cookie bar.  I started to put them in my stash of 'stuff' to use someday....but then I got to thinking, I needed some more baby cards (I keep a stash-ready to roll with the babies start showing up)-I decided these would be cute sleeves for a card instead.
I glued down the back of the bag so it won't flap up, and then I made a little slide in tag using some papers from Hobby Lobby.  I added some bows and jewels (also from Hobby Lobby).
Once these have a destination, I'll add the Mom's name to the front.
I bought some envelopes for half off as well so I can mail these.

Pom Pom Cupcake Toppers

Monday, August 13, 2018 No comments
 I recently brought these little pom pom cupcake toppers to GMT.  They are such an easy addition to some cupcakes for a football party...or really.....add some google eyes and make them purple and green and you have monsters for Halloween.
 I took two colors of this yard I got for a dollar at Hobby lobby.
 I wrapped it around my three fingers 20 times.
 I took another piece of yard and tied the middle.  Then I cut the loops.
You can trim down any pieces that are a little longer, but use your tie to attach these to candy pop stickers (sold at the craft store-or even in Walmart's party section).  Then decorate your cupcakes.

Bible Journaling Gift Idea

Friday, August 10, 2018 No comments
 My cousin's daughter loves art, and she's old enough now to really be able to get into more intricate work.
I always start my Christmas shopping in January to try to help with the pocket book.  As I think of ideas, I pick them ups, so gifts are ready to roll come December.  There are also a ton of birthdays in the fall, so this has kept me afloat.
This year I'm putting together a beginner Bible Journaling Kit.  I made her a personalized pencil pouch and got her the basic supplies (map pencils, water color, pens).
I also used a coupon at Hobby Lobby to pick up this bible journal bible.  It has some pages with pre-drawn pictures and words you color, and some are blank for creative interpretation.  My plan is to do a few with her to get her excited.  Now....on to the other 9,567 gifts.

Princess Baby Gift

Wednesday, August 08, 2018 No comments
 One of my good friends just had baby #4...and it was a girl.  She has three adorable boys, so we are all pretty excited they get a sister.  She also happens to be a Disney fan.  I went on a hunt for Disney themed gifts, and then made a few crafts to go with them.  I found this romper on eBay.  Her favorite movie is Snow White.  Then I made a little felt bow using this tutorial.  I also bought some elastic baby headbands from eBay.
 She named her baby Aurora Rose after Sleeping beauty, so I had to do a pink theme.  I made this name banner and a onsie with her name on it using my embroidery machine.
 I found a mirror rattle on Amazon and a little crown clip at Hobby Lobby.
I made a few other bows and sent this off.  Incidentally, this was the second package I've sent in less than three weeks...I'm all about the spoiling.  

2 Cheese Sausage Balls

Monday, August 06, 2018 No comments
Maybe it's just me, but when I've made sausage balls in the paste, the bottom 1/4 of the mix can be a little dry and sandy.  I recently ran across a recipe on allrecipes that used cream cheese.  This was the first time I've ever been able to use every last bit of the batter and bisquick.  Side note, they were still (if not more) tasty than the original.  So, if you too have guilt over wasted bisquick.....or just like cream cheese, try out this combo.  
2 Cheese Sausage Balls
Ingredients:  softed 8 oz cream cheese, 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese, 1 lb sausage, 2 c. bisquick.
1.  Mix sausage, cream cheese, and bisquick with a mixer, or your hands.  
2.  Add in cheese.  
3.  Roll into balls (about 1 T)-this makes about 60 balls.  
4.  Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to let the cream cheese harden a little.  
5.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  

West Texas

Saturday, August 04, 2018 No comments
I have lived in Texas my whole life.  I have had Big Bend National Park on my list of places to see for years, but I've never made it a priority.  This was the year.  Big Bend's peek is Thanksgiving and Spring.  I have to say, I pretty much had the park to myself on this visit (we were the ONLY group at all the stops and lunch).  It is, in fact, the desert, so it was pretty toasty,'s pretty toasty back in Dallas right now too, and I loved getting to see the sites without a crowd.  The mountains really felt nice, even midday, the canyon area was hot, and I don't think I'd do too many hikes (that's what this park is known for) during the summer, but I really just don't think there is a bad time to see the park.  I put it on my list to check off, but I definitely feel like I need to add it back to explore in a different season.  
 On the way down to Big Bend, I stopped in Big Spring at the historic Hotel Settles.  I stopped here last year.  It's about half way, the rooms are great, the restaurant is delicious, and they have a great pool and hot tub.
 Day 2, I headed to Fort Davis, home of the McDonald Observatory.  This is a trip unto itself.  They have night star parties, but I wasn't there on the right night, so I took part in a sun watch where we got to see solar flares and dark spots.  This is one of only 6 'dark sky' areas in the US, and this one has places that are close enough to stay to make this star gazing more convenient.
 As a bonus, we stopped at For Davis National Historic Site.  It's an old army encampment.
 We also had a lot of tasty meals, despite the less than promising sign....or maybe the sign overselling the sheer number of items available, I can't tell you there was a bad meal anywhere on the road.  Just ask a local.  They are friendly, helpful, and full of great tips.
 We also swung through Marfa.  Marfa has housed some pretty swanky movie stars throughout the years and is a stop on it's own.  This is also home of the famous "Marfa Lights."  Aliens or highway lights?  Regardless, there is a spot to watch and discern the truth along the road.
 I spent several nights in the CUTEST hotel.  The Gage Hotel is in Marathon, Texas.  These towns are LITERALLY in the middle of nowhere and I just can't believe how much they have to offer.  The closest Walmart is 60 miles away.  Most things are closed on Monday (and Tuesday), and there isn't much TO be closed, but what is open (stores and a restaurant at the hotel) far exceeded expectations.
 I don't know that I could do this hotel justice in this post.  Every little nook and cranny is filled with adorable, personalized, and unique details.
 Our rooms overlooked the courtyard with great seating in front of the room, and behind the room on a private patio.
 There are so many flowers and decorations all throughout the grounds.  Look it up, I don't want to fill up *your* device with too many pictures, but this is as much as I can narrow down hotel details for now to even give a taste of what it was like to get to hang out here for a few days!
 There are several entrances to Big Bend.  This one was about 40 miles from our hotel.  Some of the visitor centers were closed for the season, so it was probably an hour or more before we encountered some of the larger visitor centers.
 We only had a day, so the goal was to hit up one of the mountain views (Window View).  This is also where they have a restaurant overlooking this view and lodging for folks staying in the park.
 We took a 40 mile scenic drive called Ross Maxwell.  You wind through the dessert with overlooks at nearby canyons and mountains.
 The final destination on the drive was Santa Elena Canyon.  There is a short walk on a boardwalk to where you can go and stand at the mouth of the canyon where the river runs.
 Big Bend is a birders paradise and we saw our fair share of road runners and all their friends throughout the park (I'd need to do some real studying up to do them justice).  There are a lot of really unique cactus,  friendly looking trails, and again-great star gazing throughout the area.
It was just enough of a preview to let me know I'd definitely love to go do it again now that I know what I'm doing.  Above is a little quirky building I passed halfway between Alpine and Marathon.  It didn't appear to be open for business, but there is apparently the world's smallest Prada store with actual items for sale for everyone!