Thursday, December 22, 2011

{Recipe} Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

Today I am going to share with you my favorite cookie recipe. These Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies are great for a snack or for a quick breakfast! The original recipe comes from Paula Deen's The Lady & Son's, Too! cookbook. Yes, 2 sticks of butter are used, but who's counting?

What you will need:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature (Use real butter, margarine doesn't work very well, I have tried)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (I just use whatever I have on hand)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (Do not use ground nutmeg. If you don't have fresh, omit the nutmeg)
  • 2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups dried cranberries (or raisins)
2011 12 22 Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies-1
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Get your baking sheets ready by either greasing or lining them with parchment paper.  In your stand mixer, cream the butter & both sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well.  Stir in the vanilla.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt & nutmeg. Beat the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir in the oats & dried fruit.
2011 12 22 Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies-2
Your dough should look like this.

For uniformity in size, I like to use my ice cream scoop to spoon the dough onto the cookie sheets. If you make sure all the cookies are the same size, you will have the same doneness throughout the whole batch. If not, the smaller ones will be dry and the larger ones may not be cooked enough.
2011 12 22 Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies-3

Drop the dough by uniform scoops about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. 
2011 12 22 Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies-4

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. With the pans I use (Pampered Chef Baking Pans or my Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan) and the size of my cookies, it ended up being more along the lines of 15-17 minutes. The outside of these cookies is crunchy and the inside is gooey! Perfection!
2011 12 22 Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies-5

Monday, December 19, 2011

{Cleaning} Old English

I am hosting people three times at my house this week, and, like any homeowner,  I want the house to look as good as possible. I say "as possible" because we've had some plumbing issues and there are still holes in the ceiling of the living room. After that incident, we decided to save up to repipe the entire house with copper. Not cheap. Alas, the holes remain. I suggest you get some of your own; they are wonderful conversation pieces.

Our house is also almost 30 years old, so it takes some major upkeep.  The kitchen cabinets are original to the house. Despite them being old, they are VERY nice classic hardwood cabinets, and they are a great color.  The frequently-used cabinets were a little worn out and grubby:

2011 12 19 Old English-1-2

I had tried everything to get this stuff off: All Purpose Cleaners, Goo Gone, furniture/wood polish, etc.. It was really frustrating that my cabinets looked like that! I like clean!

Today, on my weekly shopping trip, I was in the cleaning aisle (No surprise there. I love it.) when I saw these things:

2011 12 19 Old English-1

I put them in my cart:


I immediately went to work when I got home. I couldn't wait to see what would happen! I was not disappointed! I used the Scratch Cover on the worn/grubby parts and just the lemon oil on the rest of the cabinets and my dining room table. They look refreshed and pretty nice! I suppose we can put the kitchen renovation on hold for now!

2011 12 19 Old English-2

This stuff is now on my list of favorite cleaning supplies. What are your favorite cleaning supplies?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

{Sewing} Class, Part 2

Session Two: Napkins with Fully Mitered Corners Yes, this is the project I made them start with. I know, I am crazy. But guess what? They’re coming back next Saturday and were super troopers for this napkin-making class.

Why did I choose the fully mitered corner? Well, I was going to have them start with the half miter, but the one machine that the daughter is using won’t do a zigzag stitch (it’s my old $200 Singer that I’m not paying $150 to have fixed) to finish the edges of the fabric. I couldn’t bear to have them finish their napkins with pinking shears (not the cleanest look and I can’t stand it!) so I was left with no choice.

I fed them into the fire at day 2.

I do think, though, that the focus of this project is more on exacting measurements and angles rather than actual sewing. I always tell people that sewing itself isn’t difficult, it’s making sure your measurements are spot on so that your project comes together nicely. I believe that my mind for math and OCD tendencies have served me well in sewing.

The girls did splendidly with this project!

Skills they learned:
~Rotary cutter, ruler & mat use
~Pressing up hems using the seam gauge
~Mitering corners
~Stitching a straight line & pivoting

Next session, we’ll be making some felt Christmas ornaments using some hand embroidery & embellishing techniques. It’s not the most sewing-intensive project, but it’s what they wanted to do! (For these sewing lessons, I left the projects up to the ladies--with some guidance of course). They’ll also be bringing whatever of the napkins they haven’t finished during the week. We’ll finish those up, hopefully.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

{Sewing} Class, Part 1

I was asked several weeks ago by someone if I would teach her and her daughter to sew. I’ve been asked this question many times, but no one has been really serious about it. They have just never pulled the trigger on actually doing it. Until NOW! Boy, was I excited! I will blog about each session, so you can follow their/our progress. I have teaching experience, just not in sewing! I’m blessed to have a pair of students who understand this and are willing to give it a shot!

I decided to do a project-based series of classes, using Deborah Moebe’s book, Stitch by Stitch. We’re not working on every project in the book, but it gave me a jumping off point to make sure I teach most of the basic sewing skills. My students having the book will also give them a wonderful reference to look back on when they are not in my classroom dining room. 

During the first session, we reviewed the project/supply list, winding a bobbin, threading the machine, sewing a straight line and backstitching. I almost left out the project/supply list overview, but I am very very glad I didn’t. Why? Because this mom & daughter were not familiar with any sewing items. I’m not sure why I think everyone knows what I seam ripper/seam gauge/etc. is! They found it very helpful that I brought out my supplies and tools to show them exactly what I was talking about. I suppose it worked because they bought all the right things...and came back for session two. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shopping Small { I'm Featured! }

With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday already under our belts, there are only 26 days left to finish your Christmas shopping! Yikes! Personally, for me, this year has flown by. I’ve been looking forward to the Christmas season because I love giving unique, one of a kind items that my friends and loved ones treasure.

I also love to help {YOU} give unique items! It fills my heart up to hear that the items I have created found such wonderful homes. It makes what I do worthwhile.

Today, my new friend Stef has featured me on her blog! It’s Shop Small Tuesday over there and she is featuring my shop!

Stef and I just “met” through Twitter about two weeks ago,and we have a lot in common! She homeschools just like I do! So head on over and check out her blog!

Also, over at Overcoming Busy, is a good list of why Shopping Small is a great idea!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pinterest Wish List for Kids

My husband had the greatest idea ever. He set up a Pinterest page for Kendall (our 10 year old boy) and allowed him to start pinning things that he wants for Christmas and his birthday. His list consists of Nerf & other toy guns and video games. It's not only helpful, it's entertaining! Check out these captions. They were too funny to keep to myself.

Screen shot 2011-11-26 at 3.50.31 PM
Poor Ryan & Eric. They don't know what they're in for. They deserve it. (They are my little brothers!) ***Evil laugh***
Screen shot 2011-11-26 at 3.50.35 PM

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Napkins for My Mom

I've been in quite the festive mood lately. Our trees are already up, stockings are hung (even though I have plans to make new ones) and I've sewn some napkins for my mom with some Christmas fabric she bought last year. She never decided what she wanted me to make out of it, so I made the executive decision for her! I hope she appreciates my assertiveness.

2011 11 26 Christmas Napkins-1
Just look at those sweet snowmen. They say "wipe your mouth on me!"
2011 11 26 Christmas Napkins-2
Yep, these are fancy napkins will fully mitered corners!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Marti Bag for My Mom

Last week I made my mom her third Marti Bag of this type. Her Marti Bags have a boxy bottom, which I altered the pattern to fit this need. I like the boxy bottom better than the regular bags that are in my shop.

The fabric is that of local fabric designer Melody Miller. Her line Ruby Star Spring is made of light linen (from Kokka) and comes on a 62” wide bolt! Whoo hoo! I really enjoyed sewing with this fabric.

I never would have known about Melody had the chance meeting of her friend Allison! I would be missing out! Apparently Allison’s kids and my kid get their haircuts at the same place (Pigtails & Crewcuts, if you’re interested) and we were all there at the same time. Allison complimented my bag I was carrying and I told her I made it, that I have a sewing business, etc. She then told me about how she and her friend Melody were working on a new fabric line and I went home to check it out! Turns out, also, that Allison homeschools her kids, so we are two peas in a pod...homeschooling, fabric-loving moms who take their kids to the best haircut place for kids. Ok, it’s the only kid-specific haircut place here locally.

Anyway, here’s the bag:
2011 11 10 Marti Bag for Mom

It has two rows of pockets on the inside (6 total), a magnetic snap, and a key fob! The strap is adjustable from about 24” to 50”. Whoo hoo! She loved it!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pricing: What goes into an item?

Oodles of blog posts, written by other people, exhaust the topic of pricing in the handmade industry, so I don’t plan on making this a long post. My goal in this post is to show you what goes into making an apron, my best-selling item.

Step 1: Cut out the fabric. 5 minutes
  • An apron is 6 pieces: Two neck straps, two waist ties, a pocket and the apron body.
Step 2: Prepare neck straps & waist ties. 10 minutes
  • Fold under one short end of each strap & tie, press
  • Then fold each piece in half twice, press both times
  • Attach velcro to neck straps
  • Sew neck straps & waist ties
  • Add tag to one waist tie
Step 3: 5 minutes
  • Finish all raw edges of apron and pocket with the serger, adding the straps in their appropriate places.
Step 4: 15 minutes
  • Prepare apron & pocket for hemming. This means I stand behind my hot iron, turning up each finished edge to form a straight hem. I also miter the corners that can be mitered. 
Step 5: 10 minutes
  • Topstitch along the top edge of the pocket.
  • Place & pin the pocket in the appropriate location on apron.
  • Sew pocket down.
  • Hem apron along all the edges I pressed down.
  • Fold nicely and put finished apron in my stockpile.
So the time it takes me to make one apron after a few years of practice is 45 minutes. I wish I knew a way to make it faster, but I don't think it's possible!

Other things that I include in my pricing are:
  • Cost of machines & equipment (computer, camera, serger, embroidery machine, sewing machine, printer)
  • Materials (fabric, velcro, magnetic snaps, etc.)
  • Advertising cost (Etsy fees, business cards, any craft fair fees)
  • Taxes (ugh)
  • PayPal Fees
  • Time for non-production things: Photographing items, answering emails, listing items, planning, ordering fabric, etc.
So if you do the math, you can see that a lot goes in to making an item. I hope this sheds better light on the handmade process and why prices are sometimes higher than you'd expect. We (crafters/artists) are not people who have production lines in China, able to spit out 50 items in one hour that cost $1. We are people who work in our homes, doing what we do because we love it and want to share it with others! Nothing makes us happier than sharing our talents with you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Festive Christmas Aprons!

This year I’ve chosen a wonderfully festive print for my Christmas Aprons! Pink, red and green trees are popped all over a bright white background and are sure to bring some Christmas cheer to your holiday baking and entertaining! Available in both adult and child sizes, the aprons can be purchased individually (adult or child) or as a matching set. You can even add embroidery for a personalized touch!


I also have three adult aprons left in the red fabric below. Get them while they last!

Bright Christmas Trees Adult Apron

Monday, November 7, 2011

$3 Monogramming & Christmas Ordering Deadlines

This week I am offering $3 monogramming through Friday at 9pm EST! You can add a monogram to any apron, bag, coupon clutch, zippered pouch, camera strap cover or laptop sleeve! At a regular price of $9, this is great discount.
Names & Monograms
I also need to let you all know about my ordering deadlines for this Christmas season.

Ready To Ship Items:
(I have about 130 of these and am still making more!)
United States:
Order by December 18--Mailed on or Before December 19
Canada First Class Mail:
Order by December 7--Mailed on or Before December 8
Canada Priority Mail**:
Order by December 10--Mailed on or Before December 11
Everywhere Else:
Order by November 29--Mailed on or Before December 1

Made To Order and Custom Items:
United States:
Order by December 12--Mailed on or Before December 19
Canada First Class Mail:
Order by December 1--Mailed on or Before December 8
Canada Priority Mail**:
Order by December 4--Mailed on or Before December 11
Everywhere Else:
Order by November 24--Mailed on or Before December 1

**Upgrade to Canada Priority Mail can be purchased for an additional $8

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Microwaved! Easy! Chicken in 30 Minutes!

I absolutely adore all things Pampered Chef. In my next life, I will be a Pampered Chef consultant. I have a ton of their products and am completely happy with all of them. They are awesome! I am not a consultant and no one is paying me to tell you about this stuff, I just love it!

Today, I wanted to spotlight a piece in their stoneware line, the Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. Y'all, I cooked a whole chicken in 30 minutes IN THE MICROWAVE in this thing and it was delicious! I've also cooked pork tenderloin (15 minutes) and chicken breasts (10 minutes for 3) in the microwave. The meat turns out juicier than cooking it in the oven. I cannot sing the praises of this product enough. The only drawback is that it only comes in two colors. My consultant told me why and it's a good reason. The product process is long and drawn out and very few pass their quality inspection. I can't imagine the nightmare that would come with more color options.

Ok, so here is what I did: Clean the chicken by taking out the giblets (ick) and rinsing the chicken. Tie the legs together with some baker's twine or dental floss. Then, find some spices you think would be good on chicken:

and rub them on the chicken and put the chicken in the baker:
Put the lid on the baker. Put it in the microwave for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Here's what you get:
It was microwaved!

Winner of Sewing with Oilcloth

We have a winner! #8
Screen shot 2011-11-01 at 6.46.35 PM
#8 is Liz who said. "How cool! That book looks fantastic :)."

Congratulations, Liz! I'll be emailing you shortly to get your address!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coupon Clutches

I had been meaning for a while to make something for myself to organize my coupons, but it took someone asking me to make something like that for me to actually do it. I really should sew for myself more often. I thought a lot about the design of this clutch, even going through two prototypes. Usually knowing exactly how I want an item to function, I can usually design on the fly. Not this time.

Now, I am NOT an extreme couponer. I think it's ridiculous that people hoard stock so much stuff in their homes. I have a family of three people and do NOT need that much stuff! I just look at the ad for a couple of stores and if there is something I use normally, I make a note of it and go get it at some point during the week.

Here are my two go-to sites I use to look at the ads and available coupons:

Southern Savers
Coupon Mom
I designed this coupon clutch to fit 4" x 6" tabbed index cards snugly at the bottom. I added extra room at the top, allowing for ease of filing through coupons. The button/elastic closure allows room to fill ‘er up with lots of money-saving coupons! Included with the clutch is a set of 10 manila heavy cardstock dividers.

~Dimensions: 2” deep, 5.5” tall, 6” wide at the bottom, 9” wide at the top
~Interfaced with heavy duty stiff stabilizer
~Fully lined
Coupon Clutch-13
Coupon Clutch-15
Coupon Clutches by Forshee Designs

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Modern June, Oilcloth, and a Giveaway!

The book giveaway has closed.

Last winter, I was honored by being asked to be a pattern tester for a new sewing book that was coming out! The book is Sewing With Oilcloth by Kelly McCants.
9780470912324_cover.indd IMAG0075
I was asked to test this sweet little messenger bag:
Oilcloth Messenger Bag
It turned out nicely and has a bunch of pockets and sections on the inside. I am probably going to use this bag to hold some of my homeschooling materials here in the office. Last week, Kelly came to Atlanta and had a booth at the Country Living Festival at Stone Mountain Park. A few days before, she was holding a book signing at Whipstitch Fabrics. I couldn't miss meeting one of my sewing/Twitter buddies in real life, so I took my mom and my friend Tara with me to get my books signed!
2011 10 19 Modern June at Whipstitch-4
Mom & Tara 2011 10 19 Modern June at Whipstitch-5
Kelly & Me!
Oh that's right, the title said giveaway, didn't it? Wiley Publishers sent me a few copies of the book, and I got them all autographed the other night. I'm giving a copy away here on my sweet little blog!
The Details/Rules:
1. Open to US residents only.
2. Leave a comment WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS to enter.
3. Contest closes November 1st at 5pm EST.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Red (or blue or black or purple) Velvet Cake

It is no secret that my favorite cake is Red Velvet. There are a couple of variations in recipes, but I prefer the one without cocoa. I also prefer buttercream icing as opposed to the traditional cream cheese icing. I supposed everyone else likes this combination too because they keep asking me to bring these cupcakes. So I do. This past weekend, we hosted our 3rd Annual Chili Cookoff in our cul de sac and I made some Halloween-themed Black Velvet Mini Cupcakes with bright orange buttercream icing.

2011 10 Red Velvet Cake-2
The beauty of this cake is that it can be ANY COLOR. What?!? How fun is that? You don't get that with a chocolate cake! Yes, my wedding cake was PINK velvet! Yes!!! See it?
Want to see it again?
That's what it looks like all over my husband's bald head. Note the laughing crowd in the background!

Click HERE for the Red Velvet Recipe.
Click HERE for the Buttercream Icing Recipe.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apple Picking

On Sunday, we (me, my mom, my dad and my son) headed to BJ Reece Apple Orchards for some apple picking & fun.

2011 10 Apple Picking-1

First, we shot the apple guns. Basically, it's a tube with an air compressor hooked up to it. The nice young men who work there would load them up and all you'd have to do is aim, push a button and watch the apples fly!


Then, we picked some apples. We had to use a ladder to get most of them, but it was well worth it. The apples being picked that day were Rome Beauties. The work was well worth it and you can really tell the freshly picked from the not so freshly picked.

The orchard also has a petting farm with huge turkeys, goats, puppies, roosters & a baby cow! There was also a baby goat that I immediately fell in love with. I've wanted a little goat for a long time (I'm pretty sure my county doesn't allow such residential areas to have livestock, though) and seeing that cute little face just set it in stone. My husband thinks I am crazy.

We then headed to do some shopping. Fried apple pies, cider, local honey (supposedly helps with allergies), and apples (duh) were on my list. I didn't get any cider, though, since it had to be refrigerated, and we weren't going straight home.

After buying all the apples, we sent the boys (my son & my dad) on the hay ride. I wasn't even going to go near that thing...I'd be sneezing for days!

2011 10 Apple Picking-2

Here are some other photos I took that afternoon:
2011 10 Apple Picking-32011 10 Apple Picking-42011 10 Apple Picking-52011 10 Apple Picking-6

Monday, October 17, 2011

Custom Car Bag & Embroidered Birthday Shirt

I am so excited about this bag! My friend Elizabeth asked me to make her a bag with three sections to sit between the two seats in the middle row of her cute new vehicle (I can't remember what it's's one of those boxy SUV type cars) to hold snacks, toys, etc.. She (and her mom) is one of my favorite people to sew for because she is always asking me to do something different. It definitely breaks up the monotony of running the shop, where I make & sell the same things over and over.

I knew I wanted the bag and section dividers to be as rigid as possible so that the bag would stand up on its own. I knew that I would use Peltex for that purpose.  The dividers have two layers of Peltex and the exterior has one. The exterior could have used two, but one was just fine. I used the sew-in kind because that's what I had on hand. I didn't realize it came in a fusible form until just now! Ha! That would have made things easier.

There are only a couple of things I would change about this bag and they are super minor. Over all, this bag stitched up exactly according to my plan! Yeah!

2011 10 Dittrich Elizabeth Car Bag -1

2011 10 Dittrich Elizabeth Car Bag -2

Also, Elizabeth's son Eli (my little buddy) is turning 2 this year and she asked me to make him a birthday shirt on my embroidery machine! It's really cute! I can't wait to see him in it!

2011 10 Birthday Shirt-1

Friday, September 23, 2011

{Homeschool} Education Revelation

Homeschooling has been rewarding, and Kendall is doing much better than he was in public school. I attribute this to keeping focus on the fundamentals such as Bible, Math, Grammar, Science, Reading, History, and Writing.

At some point it got into my head that I should be doing more. Why? Because that's what I do. I always want more and more and more. Yes, I am an overachiever. I always want to do everything, and if someone doesn't think I can't do it, then I want it even more.  So I thought, "I want to teach him Latin. What's one more thing?"

So I purchased the Latin stuff. A few weeks ago, we started doing Latin. It has become the thing that we put off and put off. We are now about 5 lessons behind. It's not that it's difficult, it's that this "one more thing" has become the thing that has fallen off my plate onto the table.

Aside from Latin being the thing we put off, another thing came to pass that pushed me further on toward my revelation. I was grading papers (mostly Grammar & Math) and noticed that Kendall was not doing as well as I expected on his work.  So why should he be doing something extra if he's not performing well in the fundamental classes? He shouldn't.

One of the things about public school that I hate is that they send ALL the kids to Spanish, Art, Music, etc.. Even if they are in 4th grade but read at a 1st grade level. Now, someone please explain to me how 40 minutes of Spanish is better than them spending 40 minutes working on their reading? I digress...

I realized that I was doing the same thing. I was doing it because I thought it would be neat. So, for now, we are going to stop Latin. I may go through the curriculum and modify it so that it can be incorporated in spelling, but that seems like a lot of work at the moment. All in all, it's not more important than fundamentals.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crock Pot Recipes

I was asked about crock pot recipes, so here goes. I'm posting my favorites all in one place! This links to Google docs. If you can't access it, let me know! If you have a favorite recipe, send it to me and I'll add it to the list. Not all of these are specifically written for the crock pot. Basically all you need to do is brown the meat & onions and throw everything in the crock pot.

Santa Fe Soup
Slow Cooker Jambalaya
Ground Turkey Chili Stew
Shredded Chicken
Buffalo Chicken Chili
Black Bean Chicken

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vacation & Homeschool Update

Wow. I haven't posted since July 26. Miss me? Here's what's been happening:

Since July 26, we started 5th grade homeschooling, which is going well. Normally, I give Kendall his assignment, let him finish it, then give the next, let him finish that one, and so on. I think that this might be the reason that we end up doing school for 7 hours a day when it could only take 4 or 5. He has no incentive to hurry the heck up complete his work in a timely manner. So today, I am giving him a time limit on each assignment and whatever he doesn't finish will have to cut into his free time instead of cutting into my time.

Kendall is also joining a bowling league for homeschoolers. It starts tomorrow and I'm looking forward to A) this counting for school because it's PE B) him meeting other homeschoolers his age. While we try to get together with his friends from his old elementary school, apparently it is too much to ask someone to call we're on the frontier of meeting new friends. I can tell that this may be a big struggle. What else can I do? Send him back to PS because his social needs aren't met? I don't think so!

At the end of August, we (my parents, 2 brothers, 2 brothers' wives, and the three of us--that's 9 people) took a trip to San Francisco for a week! None of us had ever been there. We packed as much as possible into the trip: Golden Gate Bridge, Wine Tasting, Alcatraz, Pacific Coast Highway, Redwoods, seeing friends in Sacramento, visiting an aircraft carrier, stopping by M5 Industries (aka Mythbusters) and going to a Giants game.  Here's a link to my Flickr Set of SF photos:  CLICK HERE.

I am already getting busy stocking my shop for the Christmas season. I also have an open house/showcase planned for October 9th at my house (or maybe my mom's house--it's bigger). This is where people will have the opportunity to come over and see my work, have some refreshments and place orders if they wish. I'm really looking forward to sharing my work and hanging out with some people for a couple of hours!

I think that's all. I will leave you with my favorite photo that I took in San Francisco. This looks cool with my regular lens but I bet it would be much cooler if I had a fisheye lens!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts & A Big Mess

First, I would like to share with you that when your cheap plastic sugar container (that holds a 5 pound bag) breaks and spills all over the floor and DOWN THE A/C VENT, your Dyson will vacuum it all up. Dealing with the vent was interesting. Picture a sugar geyser in your kitchen. Did I have the presence of mind to go TURN THE A/C OFF? No. I just stood there and watched it blow like Old Faithful. Oh and you'll have ants for a week, I'm sure. We still have them.

2011 07 26 Stuffed Chicken-1

This happened on the night that I was making the Panko Crusted Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts (or whatever they are called--their title is too long in my opinion). Here it is:

2011 07 26 Stuffed Chicken-2

The whole process was a blur since I was dealing with the sugar geyser. Please excuse my poor photograph also. Again, I was dealing with the sugar. The only thing I'd change about this recipe: I wouldn't pour sugar all over the floor. That is all. It was good.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chicken Caprese Sandwich

First, check out these dudes (or dudettes) that were hanging out on top of the BB gun target. Sorry for the blurriness of the photo, I couldn't get my lens to focus on them very well before they flew away.

2011 07 14 Chicken Caprese Sandwich-1-2
Hawks or Falcons? One of each? Who knows?

Now, for the sandwich. Of course I had to make it because it has my three favorite things: Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella & basil.

2011 07 14 Chicken Caprese Sandwich-1

What I changed:
The recipe calls for Italian bread crumbs. I used plain and it was just fine.
I "floated" my buns, which means I browned them in a pan (set on low-medium) of butter. Think grilled cheese crustiness. Yum. Not healthy.

2011 07 14 Chicken Caprese Sandwich-2

What I should have done:
I should have pounded the chicken breasts thinner. The blandness of a big chunk of chicken outweighs the tomato/mozz/basil combo.

Here's the sandwich! It was delicious! I give it a 5/5.

2011 07 14 Chicken Caprese Sandwich-3

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This Week's Menu

I don't really blog about how much I love to cook, but I do love to cook. I mostly love to cook because it's just another outlet where I get to make things THE WAY I WANT THEM. I really hate going out to restaurants because they are inconsistent and there is no way of knowing how the food is prepared. So I cook.

I like to just choose 4-6 meals each week that I will cook. I'm not dead set on having hamburgers on Tuesday, spaghetti on Wednesday, etc. I just buy what I need for those meals, then pick and choose as I go.

So here's what we're having for the next 4 meals:
1. Chicken Caprese Sandwiches & Homemade Baked Onion Rings
2. Panko Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, Tomatoes & Basil
3. Florentine Shrimp Pasta
4. Sandwiches (Tuna, Ham, etc.--we'll be at the pool for this meal)

I'll try to photograph and blog about all of these. I'm most interested in the Stuffed Chicken Breasts! Happy eating!

Tornadoes in the South

I started this post a long time ago and couldn't finish it. I was overwhelmed by everything involving the tornadoes and had not had time to process everything. Our 2nd home & Kit's brother's home were damaged pretty badly, but all of our family & friends were not injured. I'll follow up with another post soon. This is not a short story by any means!

This week has been very scary and emotional for my family. As you have probably heard, about a billion tornados ripped through the south, killing hundreds and causing who knows how much in damage to homes, businesses and land. Unfortunately, my family is affected by this greatly.

My husband, a consultant, was assigned to a project in Albertville, AL. Where?! Here:

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They were hit by the storms on Tuesday, causing his hotel to lose power. The next day, he tried to find a different hotel and there were none available. So he drives back home. With the storms that were even worse chasing him, one county away. I was scared to death that something would happen to him and that he wouldn't have a safe place to take shelter since there is NOTHING between here and Albertville. He made it home safely.

However, which we did not know until that evening, his hometown was pretty much flattened by the tornados. The destruction is devastating. Here's a link to a photographer from that area with some photos: CLICK HERE

Monday, July 11, 2011

{Homeschool}: Field Trip to Foster Falls

Kendall and I visited Foster Falls today to do some hiking and swimming. We were not disappointed by either activity!

First, the hike. The terrain was super steep and rocky. I would give the terrain a 5/5 on difficulty. However, the hike is short. It's about 0.3 miles or 15 minutes if you measure distance in time like we do here in the south. So overall the hike gets a 3/5 on difficulty. The scenery was to die for. Everything is so lush and green, a stark contrast to the land before walking into the woods.

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I didn't take my dSLR, only my point & shoot camera, much to my dismay. Next time I will take the big camera to get some better photos. Anyway, I think I saw 4 or 5 different types of mushrooms (one was red!), lots of moss and ferns. There were also some different types of evergreen trees. I'm no botanist so I can't tell you the types of plants. As we descended down the steep path, we reached a point where the temperature went from hot (it was about 90 degrees outside) to cold. The cold was from the waterfall's cold water and from the canopy of the trees. It was nice!

Now, the swimming. I stepped one foot in that water and knew that I would not be going in all the way. It was FREEZING so I just found a rock to sit on while I supervised Kendall's swimming & rock throwing time.

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On a side note, how long do you think a pair of Teva sandals lasts? I've had these for 13 years. They've been repaired a few times with some Shoe Goo, but they are still kickin'. I wore these for 3 or 4 lifeguarding seasons at our local water park, Six Flags White Water. They even have my maiden name written on the inside!

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