Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Another Successful Kitchen Experiment

 I love to cook.  Recently I read an article with a recipe that included polenta.  I'd never eaten polenta and was intrigued.  Then, on our local PBS station, America's Test Kitchen did a segment on how to prepare polenta.  It's terribly time consuming and really didn't seem like it would be worth the effort.  Toward the end of the segment they mentioned that you could buy pre-cooked polenta so I searched until I found some to try.

There were two different types of polenta available.  One was a plain unseasoned polenta and the other was basil and garlic polenta.  The second one sounded like it would be good in some sort of Italian dish, the plain one would work in the Mexican dish that I'd seen in the magazine, so I bought them both.

Today's kitchen experiment is now in my "keep this one" recipe file.  It's super simple to make and even Fred said he liked it!

I placed layers of zucchini, thinly sliced grilled chicken, jarred tomato and basil sauce, good grated Parmesan cheese, and thick slices of polenta that I'd browned in butter and baked the dish for about 45-50 minutes.  That and some good artisan bread with garlic butter was our supper this evening.

Don't use too much sauce since the zucchini releases so much liquid when it cooks.  I think this would also be delicious if you substituted beef or Italian sausage for the chicken.

This year there are several zucchini plants in my little vegetable garden out back so having a new recipe to use some of it will come in handy. 

Zucchini and Polenta Casserole
1/2  jar Classico tomato and basil sauce
1-2 zucchini sliced into rounds
1 grilled chicken breast, sliced thinly
6 slices garlic and basil polenta
Good Parmesan cheese

Spray casserole dish with Pam.  Layer zucchini in bottom and top with a few spoons full of sauce and some grated parmesan cheese.

Next layer the thinly sliced grilled chicken breast, more sauce and cheese

Lightly brown the polenta slices in butter and place on top of the chicken.  Spoon sauce over the top. 

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 350°.  Uncover, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes to evaporate some of the juice from the zucchini.  Top with more grated parmesan cheese and bake until cheese is brown.

Friday, March 23, 2012

You're Tweet

Just had to play with 3 Birds on Parade this afternoon.  I made a dozen of these using different sweet treat printed background paper from some kitchen themed stacks that I've had on hand for some time.

Masculine Card

My friend, Robin Bogle, sent me the horse stamp.  It's stamped with rich cocoa Memento ink onto cream colored cardstock and colored with Promarkers.  The plaid paper is from the Paper Studio stack named Yee Haw!  Using Design Studio and George cartridge, I cut an oval large enough for the stamp to fit inside.I added a knotted piece of baling twine for some dimension. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tulip Card

A friend from stamp club sent me the instructions to make tulips using a Stampin' Up five petal flower punch.  It intrigued me enough to try my hand at doing it.  You punch the flower and then just remove two of the petals and fold the lower one up to make the outer petal.  It's not difficult to do at all.  Adding some ink will give the petals dimension.

The flower stems and the bird are also a Stampin' Up punch.  I used Design Studio and my George cartridge to cut the oval mats.

Pastel Spring Card

The colors on this one remind me of spring!  The pinwheel is made with two 1 3/4" circles that were cut in half.  I added a big dot of yellow Stickles for the center.  The leaf was done with a Cuttlebug die and stamped.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Plaid Butterfly Card

When Northridge Publishing emailed me with an offer to do an online subscription to Cards magazine, they were running a special "back issue pass".  I think the fee was only about $12.00 and it gave me access to all their magazine's back issues.

Online subscriptions are great for me.  I love getting ideas from magazines but don't have a lot of shelf space to keep them.  When a new issue comes out, I download it onto my computer so that I don't have to be online to access it.  Then, when I get stumped for a card idea, I just "click" my way through the issues until I find one that strikes my fancy.

This card was inspired by one seen in the December, 2008 issue of Cards.  The papers came from a mark-down display at the LSS. 

I used Elegant Edges for the butterfly and Cindy Loo for the scalloped border.

With no sentiment on the front, it can be used for any occasion.  I hope the Operation Write Home soldiers will like it.

Color Play

Today I pushed myself to combine colors I don't generally use.  It's difficult for me to combine different patterns too so, I'm really pleased with how this card turned out.

My inspiration came from the geometric patterned paper in the center.  This is a super simple card style that would be easily adapted for any occasion by changing the papers and sentiment.

I cut three pieces of patterned cardstock 4 1/2 x 1 1/8.  Using this size leaves a generous border for the base cardstock to show.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cameo Card

The embossed ovals were done with a Stampin' Up embossing folder that I got during the Sale-a-bration sale as my free item.

I don't have the matching die to cut the shape so I used Design Studio to cut an oval that fit their folder just perfectly!

The silhouettes are from A Child's Year.  I also used Design Studio to resize them to fit the ovals.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Raised Bed Gardening

 My plan for today was to get the raised beds out back prepped and to put out some flowers in containers.  Having a few warm, sunny days means I get anxious to start prettying up our yard.  I know, it's not spring yet, but I just had to get my hands dirty!  I broke up the soil and cleaned out some debris from our last garden, then added some composted manure to augment the soil.  Then I planted three varieties of tomatoes, two types of lettuce and some marigolds in the larger beds.

Yesterday, I went to a nearby garage sale and found these empty grape boxes.  Today I over-planted them with bedding plants to add some color to one corner of our patio.

It's sort of overcast today, so of course, as soon as I snapped another photo, the clouds covered the sun!

Our land has a very shallow layer of topsoil covering a vast shelf of sandstone.  In order to have a garden of any type, we have to build raised beds.  Our lawn is primarily bermuda grass, which is as invasive as kudzu, so having the barrier between the lawn and the plants helps out too.

Two years ago Fred built the long narrow bed that sits parallel to the fence.  It will be planted with moonflowers to grow up onto strings.  I have ordered some wave petunia plants to put along the front edge of the bed.  The moonflowers have pretty foilage and blooms up to 8" in diameter.  They're a member of the morning glory family.  The blooms open at night and have a wonderful fragrance.  I'll be planting them in another raised bed on the west side of our patio to provide shade there.  We enjoy sitting out there in the evening enjoying the smell of the blooms and watching luna moths as they get nectar.

The smaller raised bed had strawberries in it for the past two years.  Our awful drought and heat last summer killed all the plants.  This year, I'm putting cucumbers in it.  I'll leave the frame over the top and train the vines to grow across it.  That will make it easier to harvest the cucumbers.

The two 4' x 8' beds are for tomatoes, squash and lettuce.  Since I started so many squash plants from seeds in empty K-cups, I'll have to plant some in containers too.   We should have enough squash to feed the entire neighborhood!

The yard doesn't look like much right now but I'm expecting an early spring this year.  It will be greened up and needing to be mowed before we know it.

Now that I've finished this job, it's time to get serious about building my dragonflies and get them up on the fence.  They'll be placed between the long narrow bed and two smaller planters that sit near it to add some much needed decoration on the wood fence. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Facebook Card Challenge

Amy Pickeral challenged us to make a card from the ones she's saved in Pinterest.  Here's my version of one I saw on her board.  The original has three leaves mounted on squares where mine has the horse shoes.

Overall Card

This card was fun to make.  I had to sketch out the overalls and the pocket and cut them by hand.  Then I added the pen stitching with a white gel pen.  Using a pair of pliers, I snipped off the prongs from some brass brads and used mounting foam to add them for the overall buttons.  The bandana is a clip art image that's been cut out and slipped into the pocket.

Inspired by a card seen on Splitcoast Stampers


Friday, March 16, 2012

Plaid Card

Definitely "Nothin' Fancy"!  A Stampin' Up stamp and some silk flowers with a few Pearl Pen dots.  The paper is some that Shirley and I bought at Tuesday Morning.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sunflower Card

Thanks, Nancy Riley for the inspiration! 
Quick card made using a Stampin Up punches.  The flowers are the 1 3/4" scalloped circles, the leaves were made with their Five Petal Flower punch, the centers are 3/4" circles.

My Utility Room Hanger

DH put this up for me in the utility room.  I wanted a sturdy hook to hang clothes on as I take them out of the dryer or if I need to let something air dry.  There was nothing like what I wanted available in the local hardware store.  When I saw the big hooks to hang bicycles on, I knew I'd found the solution! 

It cost about ten percent of  the drying racks seen in catalogs and does the job just fine! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Latest Addition to My Craft Room

I love it!  It's a kitchen cart from QVC and it's perfect for my Scor-Pal and Cuttlebug.  The cart will fold down to about 5" thick to store it too!  When we slid it out of the box in the kitchen, it was hard for me to decide whether to leave it in there or bring it back to my craft room.  The color of the cart matches my kitchen cabinets perfectly!

QVC has shown this many times and each time I'd see the presentation, I wanted to order it to use as a kitchen island when I'm baking.  The last time I saw it on air it dawned on me that it would work great as a replacement for the ironing board I've been using for my Cuttlebug!  LOL!  I decided it was a win-win situation.  It could be used in the kitchen or in my craft room. 

Hmmmm....now I'm thinking maybe I should buy another one to leave in the kitchen! 

Butterfly Birthday Card

Thanks to designer Jennie Harper for sharing this card layout.  It's a great one to make multiples and utilize some of your scrap papers.

The sentiment was printed using card making software; the butterfly was embossed with a Cuttlebug folder and punched with a Martha Stewart punch; some black Pearl Pen dots were added to the rectangles to balance them on the card front.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Great Fried Pie Fiasco

I love to cook and am one of those people who read a new cookbook like most women read a trashy romance novel: front to back and the good parts twice!  

There are cookbooks in several rooms of my house, including the bathroom.  ***  I figure a cookbook is kind of like the Three Minute Bedtime Story book.  A recipe is something you can read in a just a few minutes and there's no reason to waste that time in the john!***

Well, I gotta quit reading those recipes.  

Today is a great example.  I read a recipe for fried pies and decided to make some.  Fred and I both enjoy them and it's something I haven't done in years.  My favorite flavor is apricot, with pineapple being a close second.  There were no apricots in the pantry so I sent Fred to the store to get some while I was making the pie crust and preparing a pineapple filling to use.

Since I haven't done fried pies in so long I did a little research online for a crust recipe suitable for fried pies and found one that sounded a lot like my regular pie crust recipe so I decided to give it a try. 

The online recipe was a disaster!  I managed to get two pies done and cooked before I scrapped that idea.  The dough was so stiff it just would not roll out!  The two pies I made with it never did get the golden brown color I wanted so, I scrapped that idea and made a batch of my regular pie crust.

My crust recipe is evidently not intended to be fried!  I prepared two pies, dropped the first one into the hot oil, and watched the crust literally disintegrate!  Fruit filling spilled out into the hot oil and made a wonderful sizzling and popping sound while the hot oil splashed all over the stove top.  I managed to get most of the filling scooped out and tossed the pie onto a paper towel.

By this time I'm totally frustrated with the whole fried pie idea.   But, I have a pan of apricot filling as well as a pan of pineapple filling that I don't want to waste.  I decided to salvage what I could and just make traditional pies with the fillings instead but there's not enough of either to make a full sized pie.  So I had to search the cabinets to find dishes that could be used to bake small pies.

I had just put them into the oven to bake when Fred came in and asked if I'd given up on making fried pies.  I think he was a little worried when I told him, "Yes, I gave up and just made one big apricot and one big pineapple pie and they're in the oven."   I'm pretty sure he envisioned fried pies the size of a medium pizza!

So, another afternoon was spent on a kitchen adventure.  It wasn't the first and hopefully it won't be the last!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Simple Butterfly Card

 The butterflies were done with a Martha Stewart punch and the sentiment was cut with Cursive 101.
The butterfly mica paper is from SEI, the solid is Coordinations and the stripe is from Momenta.

Inspiration for the card is from one seen in Cards magazine.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

VersaMarker Shadow

It may be hard to see in the photo, but using the VersaMarker to create a shadow around the Cricut cut doily and on the blue lettering makes a big difference in the dimension on this simple card.

The doily is from Art Philosophy and the words are from Cursive 101.  The card layout was inspired by one I saw in Cards Magazine.

A New Technique With VersaMarker

I ran across this idea of using a VersaMarker to shadow stamped images.  It's one of those "how come I didn't think of that?" techniques.  That's why I rely on Stampin' Up demonstrators and other bloggers for inspiration and ideas...because I just don't come up with much on my own!

 On this one I used SU Whisper White craft ink to stamp the background flowers and then the VersaMarker to add the outline for the shadow.
The yellow flowers were done with Mixed Bunch stamps using Memento Dandelion yellow ink and punched with a Blossom punch.
The flower centers are from SU Button, Button stamp set and stamped with the same white craft ink. 
I used a 1 3/4 x 7/8" oval punch for the leaves and just trimmed the edge by hand after I embossed them with a Cuttlebug folder.

Then I added some doodle lines to fill in the blank space and using a straight edge, I put a shadow border around the outer edge of the card front.

The flowers and butterfly on this one are from Flower Fest stamp set.  The sentiment is from Heard from the Heart.  They were stamped with the same ink and shadowed with the VersaMarker pen.

This was very simple and fast to do.  It's an idea I'll probably use a lot on my cards.

You need to test your background cardstock to be sure that the marker will show up on it.  It won't work on all colors and of course, darker colors are best.

 This is the Versamarker pen I used.  It has a fine tip and a brush tip so you can choose which width of shadow to use.  It's available from Stampin' Up.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Another Chore Finished---(well, almost!)

My neck hurts, my hands hurt and my butt hurts from sitting back here hour after hour reorganizing and cataloging my stamps!

Here's what I started out with:

Clear CD cases are wonderful to store acrylic stamps! Until you get so many stamps that you just run out of room!

I went from having some stamps stored this way, some in Stampin' Up stamp cases, some still in their plastic wrappers and some stashed in drawers........

to this!   There are 60 Stampin Up stamp cases on a single shelf.  ***notice there's a "little bit" of room left? LOL! 

Each case has a number on it so I'll know exactly where it belongs on the shelf.

 This is a photo of the front of the stamp case.  I cut a piece of paper 7 x 4 3/4" to fit inside the clear overlay and then stamped the images onto it and placed it inside so I can easily locate the stamp I need.

This is the back of the same stamp case.

I laid the stamped pages side by side and made a copy and numbered each of these pages.

The pages were put into a 3 ring binder inside page protectors.  Now, when I want a stamp, I can just flip through my catalog, find the image and take the numbered case off the shelf.

Until I did my catalog, I was constantly flipping through the CD cases to find a stamp I wanted to use.  

I know I could have kept them in the clear CD cases and just made the catalog, but, I replaced the carpet in my craft room with commercial tile.  Every time I drop one of those hard plastic cases on the floor, it breaks! 
There are a few stamps still needing to be cataloged.  I ran out of stamp cases---and motivation, for now!  Next time I get an invitation to a SU party I'll order about a dozen more and will get those done too.

Even thought it's taken me three full days to get this project done, I think it's going to save me so much frustration when I'm looking for a certain stamp.  Also, now I can "shop" for inspiration with my catalog!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Been Gathering Goodies

After taking care of some business this morning, I took time to hit a couple of thrift shops in search of some metal objects to incorporate into my dragonfly project.

These odds and ends are going to be converted into dragonflies that will be hung on our back fence.  We have a wooden privacy fence surrounding our back yard and it's boring.  My plan for the spring is to decorate it with the dragonflies and some other metal items.

The turned wood pieces from salvage yards willl be used for the bodies of the dragonflies. The fan blades will be the wings.  I plan to embellish the wings with some trim pieces and cut some openings in them with a Rot-zip saw.

When I found these metal "legs"  I immediately saw antennas!  LOL!  Fred will have to detach them from the circle part and then I can put a curve in them with a metal bending tool he has. 

It was so weird, I found one set in one thrift shop and the other at another I visited later in the day!

 As soon as they're completed, I'll post some photos!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Great Expectations!

We've had a few days with temperatures in the 70's and plenty of sunshine.  They've made me itchy to get outside and start working in the garden but, living in Oklahoma, I've learned the hard way that you do not put out any plants that can't tolerate a frost until after Easter.

This year, I decided to buy organic seeds and start my own flowers and vegetable plants.  I've been saving the empty K-cups from the Keurig coffee maker to use instead of buying peat pots.  They fit perfectly into some plastic shoe boxes I had stashed in the garage.  Using the shoe boxes will make it simple to bring them inside at night and to keep them covered so the soil won't dry out before the seeds can sprout.

Today it was just too pretty not to do something yard related!  So, I put my seeds into the little cups to get them started.  Since it's only four more weeks until Easter, I think I've timed it just about right.


Here's a portion of my future garden!

 I'm starting yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, Genovese basil and Moonflowers. 

Moonflowers are my absolute favorite vine to have growing on the west side of the patio to provide evening shade.  The blooms are about 8" across and have a wonderful smell.  They attract Luna moths!  The first time I saw one of those moths, it was out of the corner of my eye and I thought it was a bat!  They're huge!
The land surrounding our house isn't suitable for "in the ground" gardening so Fred built some raised beds for vegetables as well as a couple of  huge planters in the back yard.  This year we'll put out just a few tomato plants and hot peppers in addition to the plants I'm starting from seed.  Last year, he was recuperating from the fall he took off the ladder and we had no garden at all.  How I missed having some home grown tomatoes to enjoy!  I'm really hoping that we have some rain this year in Oklahoma and my little garden does well!

Watering Can Card

You may be surprised what you'll find if you start really looking at the images available on Cricut cartridges!  Who knew that Plantin Schoolbook had such a great grass cut on it?  I certainly never would have known without having done my list of cut files in an Excel spreadsheet.  Now, when I need a certain shape, I can just scroll down through the list and see which cartridge to use.

The flowers and water can came from Walk in My Garden. The flowers were resized in Design Studio.  I inked the petals and the edges of the centers.  The faces are Peachy Keen stamps.  The sentiment was computer generated.

There are a dozen of these, completed and ready to go into my box for Operation Write Home.  I had planned to get the box sent during February but just couldn't get enough cards done to fill it completely.  This shipment of 264 cards brings my total sent this year to OWH to 841.  My goal is to ship a Priority Mail box each month as long as they need cards to send overseas.

If you're not familiar with OWH, check it out here:  Operation Write Home
It's an online group that makes and sends cards to active military for them to write home. 

Inspired by card seen online

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thinking of You Card

This butterfly came from the Paper Trimmings cartridge and is cut from mica paper.  I added some Pearl Pen dots for accent.

Today I've been making some super easy, quick cards so that I can completely fill my Priority Mail box for Operation Write Home.

Rainbow Card

For the image on this card, I downloaded a free clip art image of a rainbow, imported it into a photo editing program and cropped it in half.  After I printed it, I added some bling to the rainbow with a Gelly Roll pen and a black border around the outer edges.

The clouds were cut using Design Studio from the Hello Kitty Greetings cartridge.  I embossed the clouds and the background using Cuttlebug folders.

The sentiment was printed using my computer and card making software then punched with a Stampin' Up punch.

Inspired by a card done by Jodi Collins

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring Card

Lovely Floral was used to cut the flower.  Then a Cuttlebug folder was used for the embossing.  The ladybug is done with circle punches.

Inspired by a card by Georgeanne Manning

Inspired by a card seen on Pinterest by Georgeann Manning.