Wednesday, January 17, 2018

We Are

It was a week of getting back into regular routines.  Seems like MLK marks the official end of the holiday season, which starts at Halloween.  The rush is over.  The constant flow of decorating is over - though mine isn't quite put away, it is down.  School is back in session.  The winter cold (though we haven't had that or snow) keeps things slow as we recover.

This past week marked us taking our 19 y.o. down to school and the goings one while we did that.

And like last week, I loaded these photos in reverse order.  Maybe next week will be the week I'll catch that.  I wouldn't count on it, but there's always the hope.

  • We've got the cold.  Now if we could just get the snow, we might be persueded to think it was winter.
  • Obstacle course adventures.  When he wonders if he can do it, remind him he did rock climbing and then he remembers he's a monkey and can do anything.
  • Bouncing off some energy
  • I'm pretty sure it's nuts to go here on a day off from school when it's snowing.  Sort of snowing.  But it wasn't too bad.
  • North-western New Mexico.  In case you ever wondered where Cars got its backdrop.
  • Arizona.  Coco's.  Total throw back.  We had one of these here in town.  It closed in the 80's, but I'm pretty sure this is the exact decor from then.
  • This is an actual college-level course.  If they need taste testers the Girlie and I are in.
  • Letting go.
  • Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. . . 
  • . . . on Route 66.  I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, following some of the remaining Route would be on it
  • Meanwhile, back at home
  • Northern New Mexico has a desolate beauty
  • Things seem normal at home
  • Concentration for High School students seems to be on point
Happy Wednesday,


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Food for Thought

A few days later than planned with this week's recipes, but we were taking our 19 y.o. down to school.  He has chosen, and obviously admitted to, Northern Arizona University.  We left on Thursday at o-freaking-before-the-crack-of-dawn and came back home Saturday, well after sunset.  He's settled into his dorm, has wandered around campus and is now just waiting for classes to start today.  At breakfast before we left, we asked him what he wanted in a care package, to which he answered dinner rolls and chocolate chip cookies.  No big surprise there.  My boy loves his carbs.  I asked if he was at all interested in doing some of his own dorm-room cooking, because I'd send him some easy mug-meals if he was.

Mug-meals were not part of this week's menu.  If you're menu planning give the below a try.

This Enchilada Meatball Bake was really good and really easy - two things that score in my book.  The meatballs were flavorful - I left out the jalapenos and used this enchilada sauce.  Now, this is recipe was one I cooked a while ago, but feel in the black-hole of non-posting.  I don't remember what I served these with, I seem to recall, just tortilla chips and toppings, but it would be great as part of a rice bowl, with the toppings.

I've made a different Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars recipe, but I think I'll use this one from now on.  Moist and lightly flavored with vanilla and cinnamon and a quick dessert to pull together.

During one of the few cold snaps we've had - it was 50 today - this One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese made an appearance.  It was flavorful, with just enough heat, and filling with lots of protein.  And who doesn't love a one-pot meal?

Outside of the zucchini-hating son, who did try the zucchini, everyone liked this Crispy Parmesan Garlic Chicken with Zucchini.  It was a warm comforting meal - love crunchy chicken, but light as well.

This Creamy Mexican Corn Chowder is just packed with flavor and creamy goodness.  Diced avocado is a definite must on top!  It reheats marvelously the next day.

At the time I made this One Pan Creamy Tortellini with Butternut Squash Kale and Bacon (which was a while ago) I didn't know there was a lactose free half-and-half, so I made a light roux to thicken up this dish.  It was good, but the roux made it goopey as it sat.  Now I have lactose free half-and-half and will make this dish again - goop-free.  If you haven't tried Kale, this is the dish to do so; lots of good stuff going on in there.

Healthy eating kick aside, sometimes you just need some gooey-fried-thing on your plate.  Here comes Chicken Parm Sliders.  And they were so worth every extra step I had to take to eat them!  Gooey and saucy and crunchy chicken.  I can, and will, lighten up some of the excess calories by grilling the chicken, or using rotisserie, reducing some of the sauce (it really is a lot) and putting on less cheese (mozzarella gets plenty stringy) and it would still be a yummy dish!

After you have Chicken Parm Sliders, breakfast should probably get you back on the wagon, so I made these Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies.  I didn't expect any crunch, and didn't get any, but I got a nice chewy thing with the oatmeal.  Plus it had chocolate chips - so winner!  they weren't as delicate as I expected, either.  One cookie kept me feeling full longer than I expected.

Happy Monday,


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We Are

I like having a look back at our week - and my kids' when I snag photos from their social media.  And because I loaded these photos in reverse order, you are looking back.  Yes, I'm too lazy to drag the photos around the page to rearrange them, or to start over re-upload them.

  • 'Tis the season for Cherry Hearts!  They have been hard to find in past years, but these were fresh on display, so naturally I had to grab them.
  • I mentioned in my New Year's post that I've started walking - I'm as surprised as anyone that not only am walking, but that it's a regular habit now.  And yesterday was a gorgeous day for a walk.
  • When you had a tooth pulled and haven't had your weekly treat in weeks, you'll even lay on the new bed you refuse to use to get said treat.
  • Our Golden Rocket recipient
  • The 17 y.o. finally got his license, just before Christmas break.  I knew he liked being to school early, but. . .
  • We gave girlie Capture Your 365 for Christmas, and this is one of her assignment pics.  She's a good photographer, but wanted to get to know her camera more.  Nothing acquaints you with your equipment like practice.  365 days of practice.
  • Cherries.  Cherry anything is my favorite.  About the time Halloween rolls around I start craving Cherry Cordials - which don't come out until around December.  This year, I only found two boxes around Christmas-time.  I snagged them, but someone (ahem, 9 y.o.) ate them.  All.  I knew they were usually produced from Christmas to Valentines, but finding them is difficult.  So, when I came upon this stash, well. . .I'm sure you can imagine.  The 9 y.o. is banned.
  • The 19 y.o. is making good use of his time, now that he's left his job, in preparation to head to college in just a couple days.
  • Like I need towels (see previous post) but I couldn't help myself when these went on sale at The Vintage Home Studio.  Uh, she has Valentine's one being posted really soon.  I think I may need to go through my current towels and make some room.  I'm sure there are some that need to see the rag-bag.
  • If the blueberry juice smiley face is an indication, his pancakes will be awesome
  • A fun assignment each of the kids did during their Freshman year, and received heading into their Senior year - A letter to their future self.
  • When it's too nice an afternoon not to take the 'Stang out for a drive.
  • Super Moon - the morning after
  • When you've been wanting a vintage-style refrigerator, but the ones you've seen are too small, by a lot.  So, you go buy some modern monstrosity.  Then . . then, naturally, you find this!  Just like, exactly like, the modern monstrosity but with all the vintageness you were craving.
  • Because having the car you just drove across the parking lot, to the gas station in the same parking lot, not start when you're done filling it up is a super fun way to end the day.  Dead battery.
Happy Wednesday,


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Intentional Creativity

When I posted a week or so ago about my intentions, or goals, for 2018, I mentioned intentional creativity.  Meaning, I want to be creative and do so as part of my days and weeks, as opposed to something I reward myself with. 

I think we humans, probably a lot of women in particular - moms especially - tend to reward ourselves with things we enjoy:  reading, manis and pedis, crafting, going to a store for no particular reason other than wandering - alone.  Like unless we do x-y-and-z we don't deserve to take the time to do the things we enjoy.  And yet, those are the things that feed us - I know they do me - as much as a clean house and cooking for my family does.  Probably more.

To help me be more successful in this particular endeavor, I have cleaned up my studio - no mean feat.  I have, on my to-do list, several items that pertain to continuing the organization down there.  However, those items are not as necessary as the whole "where's my desk and table" issue, but things that could make it easier to be down there.  I've also joined two monthly clubs.  I joined Ali Edwards' Stories by the Month and Sweetwater's Sweet T Towel club.

My thought process was that if there were things coming in that needed doing, I'd be more likely to do them.  So far so good.  I have received two month's of towels - which are a really nice heavy linen with a graphic that pertains to the season.  You can use them as is, but what drew me was the chance to embellish.  


The "Baby It's Cold Outside" towel I simply embroidered a straight stitch around the edge and an over-sized straight stitch on each of the arms of the snowflakes, topped with a triple French knot.  At first, I thought the snowflakes would be enough, but it needed something else - the trim!  I did this in one evening - just a couple hours actually.

The Home Sweet Home towel came before Christmas, hence its more "used" look.  This towel enabled me to break out my brand-new-never-out-of-the-box sewing machine.  I bought it two years ago.  I know how to operate a sewing machine - my new machine intimidates me, which is why it took this long to get it out of the box.  I know how to sew, though I'm no seamstress.  I've made several costumes for the kids over the years.  I even tackled a "quilt".  I put that in quotes because I had no idea what I was doing, and it was so not a quilt.  But it covered our bed in the early years of our marriage and it was warm.  It was also something totally out of my comfort zone, much like my new machine.  To take that first step, I simply embellished this towel by stitching on two lengths of ribbon.  Who knows what  I'll be trying by the time the last towel of the year gets here!

I have a few Project Sweetwater Kits that I've purchased from Sweetwater and hope to tackle those projects over the year, well.  I like that they send the fabric and notions to complete your choice of projects (from several options) with each kit.  I think there's like four or five options and you can get, maybe, three from the supplies they make.  I haven't looked at the kits in a while and they are not part of the subscriptions I'm receiving this year, though I wouldn't mind one.  Once my sewing machine and I have gotten to know each other that is.

That concludes the sewing portion of what I want to accomplish for this year.

Happy Tuesday,


Friday, January 5, 2018

Food for Thought

I always enjoy the beginning of a new year.  All kinds of plans.  A slow down from the holiday season.  Decluttering, even if it's just taking down Christmas stuff.

This year, thanks to helping move his brother, hubby is on a huge kick to finally get rid of some of his stuff.  Frankly, he wants to pitch it all, and I'm not stopping him . . . he just needs to stay away from my stuff, or the kids'.  We, the kids and I, go through stuff on a regular basis.  LOL, he just never notices unless there's something he sees and decides to keep.

Purging items is always on my list, but big purging is definitely something I need to be in the mood for (like the pantry) - and I'm not there yet.  However, hubby's in the mood and more power to him!  We've already made one big trip to a local recycling place that took the ton of electronic stuff we had.  The boys took a big load of clothing and housewares over to the local give-away.

Anyway, new year.  New list of things to do and try.  And if you've seen my Instagram feed this morning, you'll see it's quite the list, too.  To stay on top of the list, I need to have menus in place so I don't have to think about dinners. 

Part of that purging is getting these recipe posts up and out to you, in case menu planning is on your 2018 list of things to take on.  Truly, it makes dinner time so less stressful if you know what you're making and you've got everything on hand.

Bacon, plus 30 minutes equals Brown Sugar Bacon Garlic Chicken.  This was really good.   Bacon kept it moist and that sweetness from the brown sugar, with that bit of bite from the garlic was just right.

This Pumpkin Monkey Bread got raves all around the table. It was soooo good.  A little crunchy from the caramelized sugar, gooey from the brown sugar sauce.  The only downside was it rose so much while cooking it puffed up and out of the pan and made a disaster of my oven.  I used the bundt pan option.  Next time I'll try a 9 x 13 (and maybe an additional smaller pan), plus I'll but sheet pans underneath to catch any escapees.

I love pineapple and chicken, so I enjoyed this Skillet BBQ Pineapple Chicken meal.  It was good.  Against my better judgment, I used jalapenos - which I don't like - and as expected were too hot for me.  Be sure to check the salt level in the sauce before serving.

Last year, a goal, was I wanted more meatless meals on my menu - and fish - and managed pretty well on the meatless part.  Fish, not so much.  But these Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas were good.  Flavorful and filling without feeling overstuffed.  I don't buy red enchilada sauce anymore, using this super fast 5-minute recipe instead.

These Apple Cider Mules . . . oh my, so good!  I'm not a huge fan of ginger beer - some brands are pretty strong - but in here, it was great!  If you're not a fan either, change the ratio and go for a splash of ginger beer and more sparkling cider.  

2017 was the year I came to adore the sheet-pan meal.  This Autumn Sausage Veggie and Apple Sheet Pan Dinner was just one of many.  I usually go with whatever sausage I have on hand, and we always have sausage on hand.  We just eat these bowl-style, with some sort of crusty bread, but you could certainly serve it over something - barley, farrow, quinoa, rice (white or brown.)

I had not tried lentils, to my knowledge, before this One Pot Cheesy Mexican Lentils, Black Beans and Rice.  The meal was not only meatless, but good.  Filling and warm with lots of flavor.  Definitely a bowl-only meal, though I served it with some tortilla chips.  I had heard there was lentil pasta, and have found it in my local store, and would like to try it for the nutritional boost, but the cost is a significant increase.  

I'm off to tackled pieces and parts of that large list.

Happy Friday,


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year

It's been a LONG TIME since I posted.  I didn't intend to take the break.  It just happened.

I'd like to get back into it, even as I shutdown Apron Strings Kits - yep, still working on that.  That four month break because of the website crashing, didn't help.

Speaking of which, you can go over and shop, and save even more on the already discounted items.  When you checkout, use the code:  blogsavings to save an additional 20% on your entire order.

A brief catch-up on what's been happening at home:
  • I have several menu planning posts waiting to be edited and posted, so if you're looking to be more intentional about meals in 2018, you'll see lots of recipes.  I've cooked them all and have my thoughts about them.
  • I took up Yoga.  Then dropped it.  Started walking - I know.  Am still walking two months later - I KNOW!  Still think about going back to Yoga.  Think about looking for free online Yoga (or App) to do at home.  Think about where I would do that, in private, at home.  Then I decide to go for a walk.  I've even been walking around my house when it's too flippin' cold to go outside.  What the what??
  • I am making a concerted effort at losing some weight.  I'm using My Fitness Pal to track my daily calories, which syncs up to my Fitbit.  I'm down over 10 pounds.  Some days I notice it and some days I don't.
  • Girlie completed her Associates degree, has applied to her nursing schools and got a new job as a CNA at St. Anthony's on the Neurology floor.  I think that's the floor.  The code I saw on her badge last night has me confused.  But, girlie, new job, in a hospital, doing her thing!
  • 19 y.o. son was accepted to NAU (Northern Arizona University) and will be starting in the Spring semester.  Actually, we haul his butt down there next week.
  • 17 y.o., finally, got his driver's license.  I try not to think about that, or look for him on the roads.
  • 9 y.o. continues to do his thing, which is be all into cars and playing video games with whichever brother will give him the time of day.  He was super psyched when my car wouldn't start and he came out with his dad to rescue me and trouble shoot the issue.
  • Our holidays were a bit different.  We changed up our celebrating because half my family was in Hawaii over Christmas.  We changed up what time Mass we attended.  We changed, a bit, our Christmas Morning rituals.  Even our New Year's Eve tradition was changed up - two kids were out with friends.  As the kids get older, I think this is our lot to deal with now. 
  • I have my list of intentions for 2018:  Continue to walk.  Think about some other form of moving.  Continue to work on eating smarter.  Read more.  Be intentional about being creative, whether it's scrapbooking (I am enrolled in SCT365 again), making cards, sewing, embroidery, home decor, etc.  The lis is nothing earth-shattering, but should be doable.  I even cleaned up my craft studio in the hopes it will give me a place to leave things out and work on a regular basis.  I have several projects (that I should probably write down) lined up.  It's clean enough, with enough floor space I could, potentially, do Yoga down there.
I'm sure there's bits and bobs more of things we've done in the last couple months, but those are the highlights. :)

Happy Wednesday,


Friday, November 24, 2017

Shop Black Friday

You've spent the last couple days chopping, prepping, cleaning and planning to create the perfect feast for family and friends.  Hopefully you took advantage of a shortcut or two during the whole process to save yourself some time and energy.

Such is the case using kits to create stories in your albums.  Nothing wrong with having everything selected for you, creating a nice shortcut in getting your pages complete.  Today, save 20% on already discounted TV Dinners and Past Scrapbook Kits.  That's not to mention all the other items on the site that are marked down, at least 50%.  So, like saving room for dessert, have your Kits but save room for some other goodies, too.

Enter code:  BLACKFRIDAY to save an additional 20% on TV Dinners and Past Scrapbook Kits.  Coupon discounts TVDinners and Scrapbook Kits in your cart.  Coupon good today only.  Code must be present at the time of checkout.  Refunds cannot be given for missing codes.