Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Amazing Deals

In case you haven't noticed, I'm in love with finding good sales lately!  I've made it my goal to get my shopping done early this year and along the way, I've been watching out for good deals and sales and I really want to make bargain shopping a part of my normal routine.  It sure won't hurt, especially if I can save a few bucks along the way.

Well, my big deal this past weekend was on Saturday at AC Moore.  I did NOT go out Black Friday shopping. There was really no allure to it for me this year. I also feel that the only time Black Friday deals are really worth it are if you're out to buy electronics or appliances. Even then, the sales aren't always worth the effort you put into it.

Anyway, one big thing left on my Christmas list was Victoria's easel, which we were planning to get from AC Moore.  Last Sunday, they had a 60% off coupon - and my sister-in-law and her husband were going to pick it up for me while they were out, but my printer broke, therefore my coupon was useless because I wasn't able to print it.

One of the 2-day Doorbusters at AC Moore was the easel, normally priced at $69.99 on sale for $29.99. Yes, that's right $40 off!!  Of course, I had to get it then, why wouldn't I want to save nearly 60% off?  While there, we also picked up a Melissa & Doug United States Floor puzzle and a set of magnetic dolls for Victoria since she loves them. 

The Melissa & Doug stuff was BOGO Free, which is awesome. I also picked up two small photo albums, which were $1.50 for both.

The bottom line?  I spent $49 plus change for over $100 in retail value!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday's Featured Blog

Hello there and welcome to another installment of Monday's Featured Blogs!

This week's features aren't going by my usual established and developing blogs theme. Intead I've chosen one blog this week. It's a blog that inspires me to be more giving...after all, 'tis the season!

Cathy's Creations Blog The title on her blog header says it all: Cathy's Creations.. Jewelry with a heart. From the blog, you can link to Cathy's Creations on Etsy and also the Cathy's Creations Facebook Fan Page. Cathy makes amazing beaded bracelets and rings. She does so much to help raise awareness in the forms of donations and giveaways. She's got such a huge heart and her work is amazing! I thought that with the holidays quickly approaching, this might be a great gift for someone or for yourself and Cathy is such a giving person, it's only fitting that I choose her as my featured blog this week. Please go check out her blog, and hop on over to her FB Fan Page and Etsy site if you're interested in some awesome bracelets!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Santa Hat update- Almost Finished!

I'm almost finished with my first ever knitted hat!  The Santa Hat  I made isn't perfect- I can see where my tension was varied and stitch sizes are off from one to the next. But, I was pretty proud that I didn't drop or add any stitches and I followed along with the pattern pretty well.  It was suppose to be for Victoria, but unfortunately, I didn't measure her head before starting and just made the pattern for a "child" size hat with a circumference of 17 inches.  It stretches to fit her, but it's tight and looks silly, so now it'll be for Benjamin and it fits him well.  I've already started on the "adult medium" which should fit Victoria.

The only thing that's left is to weave in my ends and make and add the white pom-pom for the top of the hat.

It's taken me a while to make it, but it's hard to always find time lately with two kids and Derek's nighttime work schedule.  This coming week (starting tomorrow afternoon), Derek and the kids are going to be away, so my TV time will be filled with crochet and knitting projects. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today is Thanksgiving for those of us in the States, so I thought it would be appropriate to show you all the things I'm thankful for.

First, and foremost, I am thankful for my wonderful husband. Without him I wouldn't have the family that I adore. He is so loving and supportive and I'm so happy to call him mine.

Next, I am thankful for the awesome children I have. Even in the midst of the Trying Threes, Victoria ceases to amaze me. Her imagination runs wild and she keeps me on my toes. Benjamin is such a happy boy that he is sure to lift my mood no matter what is going on. He's such a smiley child and there's such love in his eyes. He's also a very laid-back child, which gives me a nice break!

I'm thankful for all the family and friends that I have to support me and be there through tough times. I am especially thankful for my grandparents, who were like my parents when I was growing up - being there for me even when my actual parents were not and providing the love and support that I needed. I'm also thankful for Derek's parents who show the same love and support to our children that I had as a child with my grandparents and great-grandparents. I'm so glad that our kids are getting to know their grandparents and great-grandmothers the way I was able to know mine.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From the Mouth of a Child

Any of you who have children or spend a great deal of time with them can understand that they are so unpredictable, especially during the early years. Victoria provides me with endless examples of how random and spontaneous children are, and sometimes I'm in awe of the things she comes up with.

I thought I'd share a smattering of her thoughts with you today:

"Mommy, did you ever taste Mam-mam's Milk? It's so yummy... it's better than ours" 
Okay- so I can see how this isn't so funny, but the fact that we haven't been to my grandmother's house in about a month, combined with the fact that we both buy the same 2% Milk made me chuckle a bit at the randomness of the comment.

"Did we lose our loudinator?" Me: "What does it do?" Tori: "It makes you sound really loud. I think we lost it, or it was broken"
So, you might have to be a fan of Phineas & Ferb to get this one, but the "evil" Dr. Doofenshmirtz creates an endless array of -inators.  Love that she came up with the loudinator and was actually looking for it :)

"Mommy, you guys fell in love" Me: "Who?" Tori: "You and Daddy and you got married. I fell in love with Daddy too".
She melts my heart. She is so loving and adores her daddy so much and I am so happy that he is such an awesome father, but it's times like this that it can nearly bring me to tears with the amount of love and admiration she has for him - I only wish he would have been home to hear it from her!

WIP Wednesday

My new found joy of knitting has continues to monopolize my crafting time.  Derek's wool scarf is on a temporary hold since we figured out there was no way it would be complete before hunting this year.  So, I've started working on the Santa hats for the kids and I HOPE I will get them done in time to be worn this year.  I haven't found a lot of time for knitting/crocheting/crafting in general of late, but I'm making some slow progress.

The Santa hats-   I started on my circular needles, using Bernat Christmas Cotton:

Then changed to Crimson yarn, which is not as thick as the cotton and I didn't realize what sort of trouble that would cause me with the knitting process.  It was getting too tight to work on the circular needles, so I made the decision to transfer to DPNs and give that a whirl:

So far, so good. It's a little complicated to figure out how to hold it so that all the needles aren't knocking together, but it's a learning process.

Next week, Derek and the kids are away visiting family while I have to work. I'm going to miss them terribly, but I'm going to try to use the time to my advantage to get my projects done. I want to finish up Victoria's Santa hat and try to squeeze in making a purse for her for Christmas, as well as a black hat and a black & hot pink scarf. I also have another purse that I'd like to make for a Christmas present as well and I would love to make some great progress on Teddy's star blanket, so we'll see how much I can get done. Hopefully my WIP post next week will be full of creative goodness!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday Shopping Extravaganza!

Yesterday was a special day for me... my birthday!  I decided to take a day off from work so that I could enjoy my day, but busy as always I didn't really take a moment to relax!  I really wanted to take a day off while Victoria was in school so that I could finish off some Christmas shopping - as she is becoming too wise about things for me to properly shop for her and Ben without her remembering in just a few short weeks that Mommy & Daddy bought these items that "Santa" was bringing.

Our first stop was Target, because they had the Tag Reader Books at Buy One, Get One Free! Now, Victoria already has a handful of books for her Reader, and we have two more waiting in Santa's box but there is a new Beauty and the Beast book that we just had to get her. Why not do it while they are BOGO?  So, we also picked up Tangled as well.  Target had a special on select books as well - $9.99 instead of $13.99, so essentially you could get TWO books for LESS than the price of one.  Unfortunately, since Tangled is so new it was still $13.99, but such an awesome deal to get one free. 

While at Target, we also picked up the Lil' Zoomers ramp for Benjamin for $9.99, marked down from $14.99. 

Then we picked up some stocking stuffers, not on sale but small things we loved - like a ViewMaster and some reels for Victoria.  I had a ViewMaster as a kid and I loved it - I'm so happy to see all of the toys from my childhood reappearing.

We then made the next stop in our journey at Wal-Mart.  Here we snagged the Fisher Price Lil' Zoomers Speedway for Ben, on sale for $4 off the regular price.
After a productive morning of shopping, we celebrated my birthday with lunch at The Cheesecake Factory... I was in heaven!

Monday's Featured Blogs

Hello there and welcome to another installment of Monday's Featured Blogs! My three-day weekend has me a little off and I just realized that it's already Tuesday...oops.

This week's features aren't going by my usual established and developing blogs theme.  Intead I've chosen two blogs that are sure to help you with your holiday cooking and shopping!

First, to help with your holiday and everyday shopping needs - MamaCheaps. I actually found out about Mama Cheaps from my husband - he saw an ad in our local Clipper magazine.  She helps point out deals and coupons on items ranging from every day use, groceries and personal care items, to freebies and holiday specials - even outlining a lot of the awesome Black Friday deals for those looking for a great deal.  Through following her blog, I've saved oodles of money and continue to follow, enter her giveaways and print those coupons she's making me aware of time after time.  If you're looking for a great deal this holiday seasone, or wishing to learn the art of couponing, check out Mama Cheaps!!

Next, to explore new recipes and spice up your holiday and everyday cooking, check out Smitten Kitchen. Be warned, your mouth will begin to water and you'll suddenly have the urge to cook, bake or eat immediately.  I become wise to Smitten Kitchen through a friend, when I was looking for some yummy soup recipes, and since, I've consulted it for all sorts of food ideas.  I wish I had the time to make all the recipes on the site!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Exploring New Foods: Recipe V

In my quest for soup recipes, I requested a recipe from my sister-in-law's mother-in-law (are you following?) Well, along with the soup recipe I asked for, she also included a few other recipes and we decided to try the Taco Shells, a a fun twist on tacos crossed with italian stuffed shells. It was an easy recipe to make... Derek actually prepared it while I was on my way home from work since we had some time constraints today.

Val's Taco Shells

  • 1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef
  • 3oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 16 Jumbo shells
  • Taco Sauce
  • 2 c Shredded Cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Boil shells.
  • Brown ground beef, drain grease.  Add cream cheese, chili powder and salt & pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.
  • Fill shells with beef mixture, place into a 9x13 baking dish. Cover with taco sauce and bake 15 minutes at 350. Add shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • We didn't add the tortilla chips.

Success! I really enjoyed this recipe as a fun spin on traditional tacos.  We were in a hurry today, so Derek made it and that was the whole meal.  Ideally, it would be great served with salad, or keeping with the mexican theme, refried beans or black bean & corn salsa.
The only thing I would consider changing would be to add some taco seasoning to the ground beef, but it was great just the way it is too!

"To-Make" List and current WIPs

I've noticed that I am compiling a long list of things to make, exacerbated by my husband's wish for a wool scarf for hunting JUST as I was finishing up his neckwarmer for hunting. Well, his hunting week is less than 2 weeks away and progress on the scarf is s--l--o--w. He said that I can do my other stuff and he can just have the scarf for winter this year, which takes some pressure off me, but now it's more of a challenge to get it done.  Kind of a hard challenge when I don't always get time each day to work on it - like last night when I feel asleep with Victoria waiting for Derek to get home.

Anyway, I have 2 current WIPs:
On the hook- Teddy's star blanket... as you'll see I haven't made much progress lately.

On the needles- Derek's wool scarf... this has been top priority, but I have a long way to go.

And, on the radar to make in the next month:
On the hook OR Needles (haven't decided)- Santa hats for the kids
On the hook- Queen Anne's lace scarf with my wonderful Alpaca Love wool
On the hook- a christmas-inspired Mandala following Alice's wonderful tutorial

And down the road I have a few more blankets to get working on!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday's Featured Blogs

Hello there and welcome to another installment of Monday's Featured Blogs!
This week, I'm featuring and established blog that is sure to help you with your holiday entertaining and baking needs. The developing blog I'm featuring is also a great read, with plenty of ideas for kids activities and DIY projects.

Half Baked- The Cake Blog is an amazing site that features great party ideas, wedding ideas, cakes and other decorating ideas.  The site is phenomenal - it provided me with some much needed inspiration for my sister-in-law's baby shower when we were searching to find the perfect theme, or perfect the theme we had in mind.  Since finding it, I love to follow the blog and see the cute ideas and help prepare for future parties.  I'll definitely be taking some ideas from the Dr. Seuss themed party for Benjamin's first birthday.  It's an awesome blog- go check it out.

Journal from a Jane of All Trades is a great site by an amazing SAHM.  Alison could be Martha Stewart's twin sister with all her cooking, decorating, creating. She's just made a pretty big move and I look forward to reading more stories of her journey in the coming weeks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Exploring New Foods: Recipe IV


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

1.PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle towel with powdered sugar.

2.COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

3.BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

4.BEAT cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

  • I didn't have ground cloves, and I'm not a fan of the clove flavor, so I skipped it.
  • I didn't add the optional walnuts.

This was a pretty easy recipe to make.  Pumpkin rolls always seem so intimidating to me, I remember my mom making them and getting frustrated with them cracking and a friend of mine making them and they wouldn't roll right.  Well, maybe seeing these things helped me because I wrapped it right away, unrolled when it was still slightly warm and then re-rolled and put it right in the freezer, because I prefer it frozen instead of refrigerated.

Oh my gosh- it was fantastic.  I didn't think it would have the right flavor, but it was pretty good. Everyone says you can't mess up a pumpkin roll, but obviously they haven't tasted some of the pumpkin rolls I've tasted. I love pumpkin rolls. I will definitely be making more!

Hot Off the Needles AND New on the Needles

I finished the camo neckwarmer. It's a bit shorter than it would have normally been, but I ran out of yarn and Derek wasn't too worried about it since this is a backup/trial neckwarmer anyway.  I was pretty pleased with it because it was my first real knitting project.  I used circular needles, stockinette stitch (ie knit stitch in the round), made an eyelet row so that we can thread elastic cord through and add a toggle and I also worked K2P2 ribbing for the last 3-4 rows until I ran out of yarn.  Next time, I'd like to have a larger ribbed section, but again, it was a trial project.

 I love the knit/stockinette look!

And now, New on the Needles, is the wonderful wooly scarf I keep mentioning. The wool is a bit rough to work with but it's so natural it's exciting! the 100% wool and bamboo needles make me feel like I'm doing something great working with more natural materials. The goal for the scarf, or should I say deadline, is to be done by the day after Thanksgiving so Derek can take it hunting.  I hope I get the time to work on it and get it done in time!

Weekend Sale Extravaganza and a Milestone!

This weekend was such a busy weekend, but it was self-imposed busy-ness. I feel that we got a lot accomplished and hit some great sales!

Yesterday, we went to the new Produce Junction that opened near us. It was amazing... fresh fruits, vegetable and flowers at more afforable prices than the local grocery chains. We loaded up on salad, cucumbers, carrots, apples, pineapple, honeydew, a squash for Ben, and more. It was great- our kitchen is full of fresh foods and I love it!

From there we went to Toys R Us, where we snagged a great sale on GeoTrax for Victoria. She already has a set, so we bought an expansion pack for Christmas and saved over 33%, plus picked up a small toy for Ben that was around 40% off. I LOVE sales.

Then another stop at AC Moore produced more sales. My blog from earlier talked about the wool I had purchased, and in addition to the Alpaca Love and Fishermans Wool, I got some Bernat Christmas Cotton and a skein of Crimson yarn - to be made into Santa hats for the kids. I also got a set of DPNs!!! I saved about $15 thanks to the yarn sale they were running plus a 50% off coupon.
The sales continued at the mall, where Crazy 8 was running a sale plus a Friends & Family discount. My favorite purchase there was this awesome argyle sweater dress for the princess:
I love being able to save money on things I'd normally buy anyway.  I got Victoria 3 full outfits and a full outfit for Ben, all for about what I would have paid for one or two outfits normally. I'm loving the sweater dresses for fall and I snagged two yesterday for Victoria.

OH! And the milestone: This is my 50th post!!!  I hope you enjoy reading, because I'm enjoying writing and sharing my ideas, projects and various happenings.

Wooly Goodness

Okay... I have a confession to make: I never really invest a lot of money into my yarns.  Yes, I buy nice feeling yarn, but I never really buy skeins that cost more than $5. I've work with acrylic/acrylic blends and 100% cotton, but not anything nicer/fancier than that... until today!

I've been eyeing the Stitch Nation by Deb Stoller line lately and decided that I'm going to buy it and make myself something nice for a change.  I really don't spend much time making myself wonderfully crafty things, and I REALLY want a Queen Anne's Lace scarf, so I went and picked up my yarn wool today.

I chose the Alpaca Love - Peacock Feather. Photos compliments of the Red Heart website, since my colors never turn out as nice due to lack of natural light! I can't wait to work with it... but first...
I also picked up some Lion's Brand Fishermans Wool for Derek. Well, actually, he picked it up and wanted me to make another neckwarmer for hunting because he was so excited about the 100% wool.  He was so excited about the warmth of the wool that he called his dad who suggested a scarf since it would be more versatile. I really love the Fishermans Wool - even the paper sleeve looks so natural and brown bag-ish. Working with it is a bit scratchy, but it'll be so nice and warm!

I'm sure that working with wool is going to make me want to buy wool and wool blends a bit more, so here's to a whole new world of creations!

Friday, November 12, 2010

And so it begins... a new WIP

I've finally started the star blanket for my newest nephew-to-be.  I asked my sister-in-law if she had any patterns and/or colors in mind and she asked for a blue star with black details.  She seemed to want something different, as she figured she might get normal crocheted or knitted blankets from her husband's grandmothers. She knows I'm able to make a star-shaped afghan, since I had made one before.  I forgot how easy it was to start, once the first round is made.

Here's the blanket after two rounds are complete, it doesn't appear to be a star at this point. Victoria actually thought I was making a flower.

After another two rounds, it's starting to have more of a star-shaped appearance.

I'm assuming that I'll need about 40 rounds, possibly more, to have the proper sized blanket.  I hope to take progress pictures throughout the process.  I'm aiming to have it finished before Christmas, and hopefully before Teddy's arrival!

Finished Objects and a Work in Progress

So, I'm still in a bit of a slump, but I did get two hats off the hook this week. Nothing fancy, and definitely nothing exciting, but it was productive.  I need to get a picture of Ben in his hat because frankly, he's so stinkin' adorable.  But for now - just a look at the hat I made for cousin Joey and the hat I made, of the same color, for Benny Bear. The sizes are quite different, but that's to be expected since cousin Joey has a large head (and he's an adult) and Ben is only 7 months old!

And, my current knit WIP.  I really love the look of the yarn on my needles! I'm almost out of yarn and I'm not getting any more as this was just really a test run and Derek said he's fine with it not being an extra long & bunchy neckwarmer.  I'd be willing to buy more yarn and make it longer, but he already has a crochet neck warmer that I'll be lining with a nice knit fabric to make it extra warm for those winter days in the woods.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Things I'm Loving

My happy little boy - he always puts a smile on my face after a long day at work.

Gynmastics time with my little Monkey. It makes her so happy... and this week was pajama week, which was really fun for the kids.

My amazing husband for all he does for our family...

And all the crafty inspiration I have found since joining the blogging world!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Favorite Hour of the Week

I absolutely love Tuesdays at the Little Gym.  Victoria is so full of energy and loves every minute.  This week was Pajama week and parents were invited to come into the gym for class. (Normally we sit outside and watch through the glass window wall.)  Having me in there seemed to be a bit of a distraction and Victoria stopped plenty of times to run over and give me a kiss, but it was nice to have a great view and the chance to take plenty of pictures. Here are some of the highlights from our happy hour!

A Creative Slump

I think I've hit a creative slump.  You know, Alice over at Crochet with Raymond recently blogged about being in a creative slump, just as many other crafters have in the past.  I never realized what that truly felt like until now.

Actually, I thought I was just tired and didn't have time to relax and knit or crochet.  This weekend I got time to work on the camo neckwarmer I'm knitting for Derek while the baby slept and the princess watched Tinkerbell for the millionth time.  It felt nice and relaxing, but my mind was wandering to different projects.

I picked up my knitting needles last night and thought about starting a scarf for the princess - but after 1 row, I gave up. I just wasn't feeling it. I thought about making a black beanie for her, so that I can attach the hot pink rose that I knitted, but didn't have the motivation. This is where I felt like maybe I was just tired. I had a rough day yesterday... but then I realized I'm just not that excited over any of this stuff right now.  I work best when I'm so excited to start/finish a project.  I just wasn't feeling that... so I guess this is what a creative slump feels like?

I started working on an earflap hat for Benjamin, since I haven't made him a hat yet and the hat that I love of his seems to have disappeared.  I found the pattern for the hat I want to make him here, and I'm doing it in dusty blue, most likely with black and white stripes. Mainly I'm choosing those colors because it's what I had on hand last night and I didn't feel like digging through my stash. If the pattern works up nicely, I'd love to make it in the colors listed on the blog. I only got 3 rounds into it before Victoria insisted she needed to sit with me (it was bedtime though). I'm hoping to get some time to work on it and finish it tonight- maybe that will get me over the slump.

There's so many things I want to work on, but I just don't feel the spark that I usually do.  I need to start the star blanket for my soon-to-be nephew, but as exciting as the pattern is, I'm not in love with the colors. I really want to do a blanket with all shades of blues & greens, but I gave my sister in law the option to pick colors and she wanted a blue star with black detailing, so I got what she wished for and I'm just not that excited about the colors.

I really want to make the Queen Anne's Lace scarf, but I want to go pick out some new yarn for that one. I want to learn to knit more, but the camo is so boring.  It's exciting to see it starting to resemble something, but it's just not a fun color to work with!

Anyone know the best way to get over a creative slump????

Monday, November 8, 2010

Exploring New Foods: Recipe III

I'd like to preface this recipe by saying that I think it has much potential to be a great recipe... if you read it properly.  After a long, busy day at work I came home so prepared to make a wonderful potato soup- one of my favorites. I was very excited to try this new recipe for it too.  Well, my mistake, I used 2c flour instead of 1/4c - well, actually 4c instead of 1/2c as I was doubling the recipe in anticipation of a wonderful lunch for tomorrow as well.
I thought it was a lot of flour, and then it got WAY too thick, but I tried to work with it and thought it would thin out once I added it to the undrained veggies. Boy was I wrong. I make a flour-stew.  I tried to recify it to an edible concoction by boiling more potatoes and making a mashed potato mixture as my grandmother use to for the base of her potato soup, but it still didn't work out too well.  My husband was a champ and ate it anyway- he said he's had worse things and it wasn't too bad. He was just being nice, because I thought it was horrid.

I thought I would share the recipe anyway, and I plan to make it in the future -- the proper way!

Cheddar Potato Chowder
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups diced unpeeled red potatoes
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup cubed fully cooked lean ham
  • In a dutch oven, combine first 7 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Meanwhile, place flour in a large saucepan; gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Remove from heat. Add cheese; stir until melted. Stir the ham and cheese sauce into undrained vegetables until combined.

Monday's Featured Blogs

Hello all! Here's another week of Monday's Featured Blogs. I really hope that you'll enjoy discovering new blogs as I recommend them.  This week, I'm only featuring one blog, as opposed to the previous "developing and established" picks. Part of the reason is that many of the developing blogs I enjoy reading haven't had much activity lately, and the other part is that this blog falls in the middle of developing and established, as the blog has only been around since May 2010 but has the appearance of an established blog.  I hope you enjoy my featured read this week!

Featured Blog: Crochet with Raymond
    First of all, this blog is not about a man who crochets!  Alice is such a cheerful soul who shares her love of wool and her enthusiastic creativity. This is one blog that I read daily and I've actually gone back and started reading from the beginning.  I LOVE her patterns/tutorials and actually just made my first finished knitted item from one of her tutorials! She has a great sense of color and design and her blog is just a delightful way to get lost in creativity.  If you knit or crochet, you most definitely want to head on over and check it out... and if you don't, you should still check it out and look at the awesome pictures she posts of beautiful New Zealand.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First complete knitted item!

I've finally started and finished a knitted item!  I'm working on a neck warmer for Derek, but it's slow going between all my other projects. Then, while I was perusing my favorite blogs, I came across this tutorial for a knitted flower - Crochet with Raymond: Knitted Rose tutorial and decided to give it a try.  Victoria has been asking me to make her a black hat, and I thought that a nice, hot pink rose/flower would be so cute added to it.

So, here it is.  The lighting was terrible and I believe it's hard to see all the detail/stitching, but it's not to bad for my first try.  It was pretty easy to make since it's only knit stitch for 6 rows.  I actually only did 5 rows.  Next time, I'll also start with a cast on of about 50 to make a smaller flower.

And, of course, the camera was out so someone was all ready to have their picture taken...
...she's such a ham and camera fiend!

I hope you enjoyed the rose... I'm planning to make some more and play around with sizes.

Exploring New Foods: Recipe II

Okay, so this isn't so much a new recipe, but it's something I've never actually made before and have just recently started loving.  It's something that my sister in law makes and it's commonly served at parties, yet I've never had a desire to make it at home.  But, it's football season and during football season in our house, I like to make "football foods". You know, the snack type foods that you can pick at all day long if you really want to or pizza/Stromboli or cheese steaks and hoagies.

So, here's my first attempt - kind of following a recipe that a friend gave me years back, and kind of just throwing it all together as I go like my sister in law said she does.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 1 1/2-2 lbs cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup hot sauce/wing sauce 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 8oz shredded cheddar cheese

  • Cook chicken and cube
  • Cube cream cheese
  • In a crockpot, mix together chicken, cream cheese, ranch dressing, hot wing sauce and most of the shredded cheese.
  • Use an electric hand mixer to combine and shred up the chicken
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of mixture
  • Cook in crockpot on high for about 30 minutes and then switch to warm.
Serve with dippers of your choice

  •  I used a 3 cheese blend of Vermont sharp, Wisconsin sharp and New York sharp.
  •  I used Ken's Buffalo chicken marinade/sauce
  • For dippers, we had sliced French Baguette (untoasted) and Tostitos scoops. Celery and Carrots are also good dippers.
It was pretty good. Next time I'll use a bit more chicken or cream cheese to thicken it up - or I'll mix it a little less.  I'd also like to try with Bleu Cheese dressing instead of Ranch- but I'm not a huge fan of Bleu cheese, so maybe 1/2 and 1/2. I also might try shredding the chicken and just mixing the ingredients and letting them cook together- though the electric mixer is so much easier.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lucky Me!

A few days ago, I got back to my desk at work and had a voicemail from the cashier in the cafeteria.  My first thought when I heard her voice was that something was up with my debit card, until I realized I hadn't bought lunch in quite a while.  She continued to say that I won the cookbook giveaway for October.  To be perfectly honest, I'm not a very lucky person and I entered near the end of the month after seeing that only a handful of names were in the basket- thinking that I'd have a good chance.  Plus, with my new crusade to find and try new recipes and cookbooks, I thought it was worth a shot.

The book I won was called A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash: Seasonal Recipes. If you click on the link, it'll take you to Amazon and I think the book has a peek inside feature.  While I'm not a huge fan of squash, I do love pumpkin desserts and breads. I can't wait to try out some of these wonderful recipes!  Don't worry- I'll post reviews as I try them. Look for them under my Exploring New Foods feature!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WIP Wednesday: In the Queue

Since I don't have much on the hook or needles right now, I thought I'd update you on what's in the Queue for me as well as my current WIPs.

Current Crochet WIP: A hat for cousin Joey, it's about half done and needs about 30-45 minutes to finish, I just haven't gotten there yet!  He's so patiently waiting for it, as he's been asking for hats for quite a while now and the last one I made was too tight.

Current Knit WIP: Camo neckwarmer.  It's still not going too quickly, but it has fallen to the bottom of the list.  Between the purse I made last week, the turtle dishcloth that I made on a whim before my sister-in-law's shower and finishing up Brayden's Rectangle, it's just been on my to-do list without really any priority. 

In the Queue:
I've been very distracted lately and hope to get back to working and completing projects soon!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Exploring New Foods: Recipe I

I've decided that I'm going to try one new or very old (not used in a year or so) recipe each week to add some variety to our normal eating "routines". I really want to change it up and introduce new foods and flavors to our palette.  This week, I'm going to try a soup recipe passed along to me by a friend. I LOVE black bean soup. I had gotten this recipe and also found another online that I wanted to try, but this one had chicken in it and that wins Derek's vote.

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup
--1 pound chicken (I used frozen breast tenderloins)

--1 cup dried black beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)

--4 cups chicken broth

--1 cup sliced mushrooms

--1 cup frozen corn

--1 jar prepared salsa (16 oz)

--1 1/2 tsp cumin

--1/2 cup sour cream (to stir in at the end)


  • You will need a crock pot – 4qt or larger.
  • Soak the black beans in enough water to cover and another 2 inches overnight. In the morning, drain the water and rinse the beans.
  •  Add to the crockpot. Put in the chicken, and add the broth and salsa. Pour in the corn and mushrooms, and add the cumin. Stir, but don't disturb the beans---let them stay at the bottom of the pot, closest to the heating element.
  • If you are using beans you soaked overnight, canned beans, or pre-cooked beans, you can cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5--similar to normal soup-cooking time.
  • If you'd like to thicken the broth, you can use your immersible blender to blend a bit of the beans and chicken. If you don't have one, scoop out 2 cups of the soup and carefully blend in your traditional blender. Stir the mixture back into the crockpot.
  • Stir in the 1/2 cup of sour cream before serving.
  • I soaked the beans overnight
  • I didn't add the mushrooms since we don't really eat them
  • I used the sour cream as a garnish and didn't mix it into the whole pot

This was a pretty good soup, and very easy to prepare. It wasn't exactly a "black bean" soup as I had imagined- but it makes sense since it used salsa in it.  It had a nice, taco-esque taste with the chicken and salsa incorporated. I'd make it again.

Monday's Featured Blogs

Hello all!  Here's another week of Monday's Featured Blogs. I really hope that you'll enjoy discovering new blogs as I recommend them.  I love mixing the established blogs with the developing blogs to give you a sense of where you get started and what you can become.  I'm still in the "development" phase and looking for ideas and inspirations for my blog every day. I hope you enjoy my featured reads this week.

Featured Established Blog: Paisley Jade
    Kristy Drake is funny and creative and I love reading about her makings and checking out her cool photography.  Check out her blog and the links to her fun Flikr groups like Craft Nerds Going Public!

Featured Developing Blog: It's Miller Time
   Lisa amazes me. She's so organized and talented - check out her linked blogs for recipes, schedules and home schooling.  See? I told you she's organized. She keeps her house while practically being a single Mum since her husband is away for work most of the time. Lisa, you rock!