Monday, January 14, 2019

New and Improved Sausage Balls

 I'm the fan of a sausage ball or six.  I made these for New Year's Eve, but I might just whip them out again for the super bowl....because everyone knows that even more important than the game, second only to the commercials, is the spread.  These were really great b/c they have the additional of the seasoning pack from the Red Lobster box.  Garlic makes everything better....and keeps vampires away, so....win win....unless you are a fan of that sort of guy.
Ingredients:  1 box of Red Lobster Biscuit Mix, 1 pkg (16 oz) sausage, 8 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese (shredded), 8 oz block of pepper jack cheese (shredded)
Instructions:  
1.  Head over to 350.
2.  Mix the biscuit mix, seasoning (in the mix box), and sausage.
3.  Add cheese to the mix and combine (this takes a lot of work, squish, squeeze, squish again).
4.  Roll 1 inch balls (I made them about 1 1/2 inch b/c I was trying to save time) and place them on a baking sheet.  T
5.  Coo for 25 minutes.  Cool on a paper towel to soak up some of the oil.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Vintage Valentine Tree

I have a white tree I have out at Christmas, and this year I decided to turn it into a Valentine Tree.  It's something I'll add to as I find the right cards at antique stores as I'm out and about, so it's just the start, but it's  a great way to display the few Valentine's I had already, an get a few more months out of my tree.  
 I had some white felt balls already, and I used some pink thread and felted some hearts and made a little garland for the tree.
 I collected a few more Valentine cards this year, I love the Mechanical Cards with moving parts.
 I want to add more garlands etc, but I'm trying not to rush the process and just let it grow through the years.
 I bought some little heart clips on Amazon I'm using to clip the cards to the tree so they aren't damaged.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Clearance Ornament Craft

 I found little snowball ornaments at Target on clearance after Christmas, and I decided to give them a make over for future years.  I bought two, so you are looking at the first finished ornament.
It was the easiest craft b/c I just bought some buttons at Hobby Lobby I hot glued around the ornament, and I used my scrap ribbons and tied it to the string that was already there.  Ornament two will be shades of gold instead of silver b/c I'm an equal opportunity kind of gal when it comes to my fake precious metals.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Teaching Tuesday: Author's Purpose

 I made this a few years ago using free articles from readworks.  Step 1 is students sort definitions/examples etc of the different reasons author's write stories.  Step 2 is applying that to stories they read. 

Here is a link to the prinatable version.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Clover Rolls

 So, one of my goals NOT for the year, because that would be crazy, but for say....the next ten years, is to work my way through a cookbook.  I won't blog about all the recipes because you can buy the cookbook, but I will blog about a few with some tips and tricks I've learned because lets face it, I wasn't qualified to write the cookbook, so there is a learning curve that perhaps a more proficient chef doesn't realize would be helpful.
For instance, homemade bread.  I wanted to make rolls for Christmas, but...it's Christmas, I also don't want to MAKE homemade rolls on Christmas.  So...my quest was to make THIS recipe for no knead clover rolls, but do it in advance, and...it worked!
I made the rolls two days before.  I did have to punch it down several times until it created a little bit of a hard shell over the top (which was easy to massage out).  When it came to the day of, I pulled the double out and rolled it into the balls as instructed.  I just let it sit around (covered with a towel) for a few hours and it rose again (a lot, this yeast was doing it's thang).  I added butter and they were a huge hit.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 One Little Word Walk Through

Here is the link to my One Little Word Walk Through.

I completed my one little word album for the year.  I scrapbooked my word monthly using the Ali Edwards prompts from 2017, but I chose to use a junk journal I had rather than her supplies, only b/c I need to use up my supplies before I purchase more.  I only make those sort of rational decisions in January.  This is the first year I've chosen to revisit my word monthly, and it really helped.  I think it kept me anchored in a turbulent times.  I'm definitely doing it again this next year and I've already chosen my word.  I'm going to use the other half....err, 1/4th of this journal, so I'll have to dig deeper in less space.  This last year I chose the word "Hope."  It seems like an overused word, but at the end of last year I found myself looking at situations I had prayed about for years and feeling really hopeless.  To be honest, I didn't see huge, life altering changes, though years aren't chapters, so I won't confine hope to this year, but perhaps b/c 2017 was a tough year, and 2018 wasn't that much easier, I needed, even more than usual, to cling to hope so I don't become harden to the whispers hope brings.  Though I took action, there are a lot of parts of the word that require you to be patient and wait.  This next year I'm choosing restore.  I'll share my first few pages and reasons soon, but as this year closes, one last look at hope, which I'll bring with me into 2019.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Snowball Kiss Cookies


One of my favorite cookies is the peanut butter kiss cookies, so when I saw the recipe for these snowball cookies, I had to try it out.  It so easy, and the great thing is this recipe only takes a few ingredients, and makes just a few cookies.  You could double/triple the recipe if you wanted.  It's an interesting recipe to me b/c it doesn't use any eggs, so it would be easy to make this dairy free with a butter and chocolate substitute.   But....I didn't.  I could have, but....hello, it's not the new year yet and I lost all sense of reasons last January 3rd or 4th.
Snowball Kisses
*Makes 10 cookies.
Ingredients:  10 Hershey's Kisses, 1/4 c. salted butter (softened), 2 T powdered sugar, 1 t. vanilla, 1/2 c. + 1 T flour, 1/2 c. powdered sugar.
Instructions:  
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Unwrap the kisses and set them aside.
3.  Mix the butter, 2 T powdered sugar, vanilla, and flour.  (It takes a lot of work, just keep going until they are completely blended.
4.  Pinch off about a tablespoon of batter, flatten it out like a pancakes and place a kiss inside.  Wrap the dough around the kiss and roll into a ball until you can't see the kiss.  Repeat 9 more times.
5.  Bake at 400 for 9 minutes.
6.  Let cookies cool, and then roll them in 1/2 cup powdered sugar until well coated.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Chicago at Christmas

 My friend Kelly had some extra airline vouchers to use up and she asked me if I was interested in going to Chicago for the weekend to check out their Christmas.  I'm always up for an adventure.  I went to Chicago several years back during the summer (in the middle of a longer trip), but I can't say I really explored the city.  Let me just say, while half of my friends were posting from NYC, and the other were posting about their elves, Chicago has some (not so hidden) Christmas charm that is not to be missed.  I LOVED seeing Chicago at Christmas time and it far exceeded my expectations for what I would find!  Starting with the (above) airport. 
 I sat next to a lady who was a native to the land of Chicago, and she gave me some great advice, including pizza at Giordano's.  I had deep dish last time I was there as well, but I don't remember it being this excellent.  We were in a full restaurant at 11, and closed the place down.  I don't even understand how they make this so different and so delicious this was, but Kelly claims it was her favorite part of the whole trip and posting the picture made my mouth water. 
 We stayed at the Drake, beautiful decor, prime locations, and swanky rooms overlooking Michigan Ave didn't disappoint. Again, we got a steal of a deal (less than 200).  We debated several different locations, but this was a great choice.  It is listed an one of the historical hotels in America, which I always trying to explore when given the chance! 
Saturday we got up and we headed out to The Little Goat.  We were able to make a reservation in advance.  It was a super cute restaurant with a fun menu. 
 It's breakfast meets Asia with some funky flavors to try out. 
 After breakfast, we headed to the Christkindl Market.  It's the 'original' German market set that has sort of spread this tradition to other cities, but this is apparently the place to be....and all the people came. 
It opened at 11, and I heard some people talking about how it was better to come early b/c it was wall to wall people later.  We had the opposite experience.  We swung through later as well and it wasn't nearly as crowded as when we were there.  There was a wait to look at a lot of the boots.  It was cold, but it was still fun.  The key....just go with some patience b/c it can be a tight squeeze, which was actually OK b/c it was so cold....I'm not going to complain about body heat. 
 There were a ton of vendors with German foods, nuts, breads, a grocery store with candies, gingerbreads, and drinks.  Ornaments, ornaments, and more ornaments, and lots of German souvenirs. 
 Each year there is apparently a mug that you can purchase with drinks.  The big controversy this year (and last) is that it's not shaped like a boot like all the previous years.  BUT, I liked my first mug just fine, and the innards (hot chocolate). 
There was a place you could eat, but we didn't try that out, but they had tables set around you could munch at after purchasing food from the outside vendors.  
 Can I just pause and tell you my Chicago experience included a lot of cheese. 
 They had pretzels with all sorts of fillings, and these wheels of cheese they set under heat lamps until it bubbled, and then they scraped it off onto your sandwich. 
 After the market, we stopped at Garrett's popcorn.  Mainly b/c every single person who heard we were going told us we had to go here.  There was a line just to get in, but it as worth it b/c A)  It was warm inside.  B)  The popcorn really was good.  I had been told to get the Chicago mix (cheese and caramel).  All the people didn't lie. 
 That evening we took a trolley tour.  We didn't book as early as we should have because some of the most popular tours were sold out, but we still had a good time and were able to see more and hop off at the Zoo and at the Christkindle Market.  You only get 30 minutes at each stop, but you at least got to experience the sites and we went past the city tree on the trip, which was fun to see all lit up.  The other tours may stop for longer, but it was still cheaper than Ubering from place to place. 
 We ended the night in Little Italy at a little restaurant called Rosebud.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  The lasagna was to die for....I mean don't, because then you won't get to experience the rest of your trip, but it's last meal worthy. 
Sunday was our last day.  At the advice of more Chicago folks we went to The Walnut Room at 10.  We were told not to go between 11-4 b/c we would be in a big line.  We were also told breakfast wasn't the star, but....we really just wanted to experience the meal and the tree. 
 We got to sit right under the tree, which was a lot of fun.  The breakfast was good, what you would expect, but our waiter was really great and I'd do it again for sure. 
 The store was decked out inside....
 ...and out....
 The window displays were animated and worth the trip alone. 
 The iconic Chicago sign is also right down the street. 
 We then made the half mile walk to Cloud Gate.  They had an ice skating rink below.
 And I have to say, as a photographer (who did not bring her camera) this was one of my favorite spots. 
 It's worth it!  I had read to go early, and we were there about noon, but I'm OK with other people in my photo. 
We had a few hours before we needed to head out, and right down the road was the Chicago Art Institute.  
 We started out just going into the shop (art shops are some of my favorite places to find souvenirs), but the gal at the desk told us they had the largest collection of Impressionist work outside of the Louvre. 
 I don't 'know' my art like I should, but I know Monet and he was well represented.  If you have never seen a painting up close with the 'gobs' of paint you have never seen art how it should be seen. 
 I was surprised by the number of famous paintings they had on site, and at the risk of filling up this feed, these are a tiny sampling. 
 But my main reason for going was this couple.....
Seriously, how often after I seen this?  Worth it!  After walking around until our feet hurt we headed to the hotel and headed home.  It was a jam packed 48 hours, and I have no doubt that there are 10 great sites I missed, but I can honestly say I didn't really have an expectations, but having gone, I'd recommend it 10 times over, and it makes me want to explore other cities and their Christmas traditions b/c I realized how much I'm missing. But first, I'm off to finish up a few of my Dallas traditions before the clock strikes midnight on Christmas in Dallas.