Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I am blessed ...

I'm not going to lie....some days are rough. Today is one of those. Didn't sleep much last night and really struggling with pain today. It could alway be worse. I have a wonderful husband who gets up and goes to work everyday so that I can be home and take things easy on days like today. I have an amazing family who are a never ending source of joy! I know how blessed I am. Every minute of every day is a gift from God and we can choose what to make of it. There are things that I just can't do today, but I can sit on my couch in my jammies and do a bit of cross stitch. I am thankful...I am blessed....

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's all in the cards...

I don't really know when I started making cards. I guess I made my share as a child.You know the kind - a piece of notebook paper folded in half and a hand drawn picture for your mom :) I've always loved art in many forms. I've tried my hand at so many different things and although I can't say that I'm a master at any of them, the only thing that really stumped me was knitting. I was ready to stab myself in the eye with my knitting needles by the time I finally gave up on knitting. I admit defeat...I'll take the zero. Luckily for me there are alot of other crafty things to fill my time with and I'll leave knitting to the people who are good at it :) Card making is really just another opportunity for me to use my scrapbooking supplies in a fun way. I've learned alot of fun techniques from watching tutorials on YouTube. Believe it or not you can learn how to do just about anything on YouTube. Who knew? So here are a few of my cards (the ones I actually remembered to take pictures of )

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Only 16 more Saturdays until Christmas!

Back in the days when I spent my days behind a desk, I used to count the Saturdays until Christmas because I knew that Saturdays were my only days to get things done. Monday - Friday were busy enough and Sunday was church and family day. I tried to get my projects done on Saturdays and for the most part, I did pretty well. I shopped online and had most things delivered to my office. I got to know the UPS driver by first name :) Since I'm a full time stay at home wifey these days, one day seems very much like the next and with my fibro, I can have the best of intentions to do something the next day and wake up feeling miserable, so those plans get nixed. I realized that making a list of crafts that need to be finished for Christmas wouldn't be a bad idea. I have 11 sewing projects and 10 birthday cards to make between now and Christmas. It's nice to have a list. I was able to check one item off my sewing list yesterday. I would love to post a picture, but I'm not really sure if my sweet daughter in law reads this blog or not and I don't want to spoil the suprise. I will post pictures of the orange dinosaur for David and the stacking rings for Gabriel as soon as I finish them. The 2 russian dolls that I am making for my mom are almost done too! So in the meantime and to get into the Christmas spirit I will share the Hazelnut Cake recipe I made for Christmas Eve last year. Super yummy and I got it from a calendar I bought for $1.00 at Michaels!

Hazelnut Cake
1/2 cup butter
2 pkgs (2 1/2 oz each) hazelnuts
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla
Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease bottom only of 10 inch springform pan. In 1 quart pan, melt butter over low heat. Allow to cool.
In food processor process hazelnuts until ground. Reserve 1 tblsp for garnish.
In large bowl beat eggs, sugar and 1 tsp vanilla on medium speed 2 to 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. On low speed, blend in flour, baking powder, salt and ground nuts. Continue beating, gradually adding cooled melted butter. Mixture will be thick. Spread batter evenly in pan.
Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove sides of pan, run a long knife under cake to loosen from bottom of pan and place a heatproof serving plate upside down over cake. Turn plate with cake over. Remove pan bottom. Cover cake with cloth towel. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
In 2 quart pan, heat whipping cream just to boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla. Spread glaze over top of cake and allow some to run down the sides of the cake. Sprinkle reserved ground nuts over the top.
Stand back and admire your handiwork!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stitched with love and prayers :)

I believe that God brings people in and out of lives at different times for a purpose. Sometimes we need help and sometimes we can offer help. In God's perfect plan for us, both people are blessed - the receiver of help, by the blessing of help they received and the giver of help, by the joy they receive in giving to someone else. This week God put someone on my heart that needed something that I was able to provide. This sweet young woman has had her share of trials in her life and you would almost expect her to be angry with God. But she doesn't lose her faith. She keeps on moving forward and what an amazing example to her children! I made this apron for her and prayed for her as I stitched it. I wanted her to know that when she wears it, that she is reminded that she has others who care for her and her situation. One of the verses that has really stayed with me recently is Proverbs 3:27 "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act." Is there someone in your life today that could use your help?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mug Apron :)

I've been trying my best to make things for these apron swaps that I am in, that my partner can actually use, not just something cute to include in the box. I came across this pattern and fell in love with it. I've always wanted to try my hand at quilting and in this pattern, you have the option to quilt the fabric, which was fun and I liked the way it came out. I know it's a far cry from making an actual quilt, but I'm taking baby steps :)
I used patriotic fabric again to keep the theme going that I started for this swap. Hope she likes it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

Around here cake is not just for birthday parties. It's part of every day life. When my daughter and son-in-law lived next door, he would have her call me in the evening and subtly ask if we had any "snackie treats" over here :) When I think back to my childhood, my mom always had something baked for my dad too. I'm sure that's where I get it from. It's one of the ways I show love to my family. After dinner my hubby will give me that look - that look that says "Is there any cake?" It's no suprise that I have a plethera of cake pans and recipes (mostly involving coffee, dark chocolate and almonds). A few years back when I was
cookbook was mentioned. The Cake Doctor is an
amazing collection of recipes that take ordinary boxed cake mixes and turn them into something extraordinary. This recipe is one of our favorites. A couple times a year Stater Bros. has cake mixes on sale for 79 cents, so I buy 10 boxes of the ones I use the most and keep them in the pantry. This cake is so moist and wonderful all by itself or you can top it with fresh strawberries when they are in season....mmmm.

Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake
1 pkg butter recipe yellow cake mix
8 oz cream cheese at room temp
4 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist 10" tube pan with oil.
Place cake mix, cream cheese, eggs, water, sugar, oil, vanilla and almond extract into a large mixing bowl. Blend with mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more. The batter should look well blended, not lumpy.
Pour batter into prepared pan and place in center rack in oven.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or intil the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Cool for 20 minutes.
Pour some coffee for yourself and try to wait until the cake is cool enough to eat :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bacon & Egg Breakfast Pizza *YUM*

I have to admit.....I'm a magazine addict. There...I said it out loud. I love to look through magazines. If it weren't for the expense,
I would probably have alot more subscriptions. I do justify the ones I do have delivered to my home (Country Homes, Better Homes & Gardens, Creating Keepsakes) by making sure that I cut out the recipes that I like and tearing out the articles about craft projects I want to make someday. So this pizza is one of our favs and I found it in a magazine. I will suggest to anyone who wants to make any kind of pizza that you invest in a pizza stone. I've also learned that you need to put the pizza stone in the oven and allow it to pre-heat just like you pre-heat the oven. Your crust will be amazing! I make my pizza crusts by first forming them on parchment paper placed on a pizza peel and then when the oven is hot enough I take the pizza peel and slide the pizza, parchment paper and all onto the hot pizza stone. And later when the pizza is done cooking, you just lift the corner of the parchment paper and slide your peel underneath and pull the pizza out. You can leave the stone in the oven until later when it's cool. The parchment paper can stand up to 500 degrees and you won't be scaping burnt cheese off your pizza stone. It's a win win! You'll never get a great pizza on a cookie sheet. You can get pizza stones and pizza peels at good prices on Amazon. So anyhoo.... here's the recipe -

Bacon & Egg Breakfast Pizza

1/2 lb bacon ( fried then crumbled )
1 can 8.5 oz refridgerated crescent rolls
1 cup frozen hash brown potatoes (thawed)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs lightly beaten
3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp each diced red & green bell peppers
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tbsp shredded parmesean cheese

Preheat oven (with pizza stone) to 375 degrees.
Seperate crescent rolls into 8 triangles. Place on parchment paper with points to the center and press together to form a circle. Turn edges over to form a slight rim.
Sprinkle crumbled bacon over crust. Top with potatoes. Add peppers and green onions.
In a small bowl stir eggs, milk, salt & pepper. Pour over vegetables.
Top with cheddar and parmesean cheeses.
Bake 20 minutes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

All God's Creatures...big and small

So on Monday morning I took Barkley for a walk in the neighborhood (although I really didn't feel like going for a walk) and out of the corner of my eye I saw something yellow in the middle of the intersection. I got closer and realized it was a HUGE butterfly just sitting there! I thought for sure it would fly away as soon as I got too close, but it just stayed there. I put my finger close to it's head and it walked up onto my hand! It came all the way home with me and into my house while I fumbled around to get my camera. Then I went back outside (better lighting) and tried to balance my Canon in one hand and press the shutter. Couldn't really focus with this lovely creature on my hand. I ended up placing it on my morning glory vine and taking a few better shots of it before I had to leave to go shopping. When I got home it was gone. I was glad to have the photos. My hubby is quite the "bug enthusiast" so we went online to try and figure out just what kind of butterfly it was. Turns out it is a Giant Swallowtail. The largest butterfly in the US! Who knew? It has a wingspan of 6"! You can tell it's a big guy by the size of it compared to my hand. I love it when God gives me unexpected gifts....even if they are temporary :) Then on Tuesday, Jose came inside the house with this lovely little lizzard! I have to admit I do have a soft spot for little lizzards. What is it about tiny things that are just so cute? I mean if this little guy was the size of a Pagoda Dragon I would have gone screaming through the house looking for a weapon, but because it's so tiny I just wanted keep it. God has such a wonderful imagination to come up with so many wonderful creatures...big and small!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Busy Tuesday :)

So today I did the finishing handwork on my "Back to the Future" apron. I went with a vintage 50's pattern and used patriotic fabric because my partner loves this country and I think she'll enjoy wearing it. Besides some sewing, it was laundry day here at the Torres household and I decided to make Tortilla soup (yum) as well as cook some chicken breast to cut up and freeze to use in recipes later. Whenever Foster Farms chicken breast are on sale for 99 cents a pound, I buy 15 pounds and cook it and freeze it. It really helps stretch the budget. So here is the recipe for the Tortilla Soup. This recipe will seriously make enough to feed like 10 people (with some going back for seconds!

Tortilla Soup

9 Tblsp Vegetable oil
18 - 6" corn tortillas -cut into strips
12 - 6" corn tortillas - cut into bite sized pcs
1 medium onion - chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro - chopped
6 garlic cloves - minced
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
12 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tblsp groung cumin
1 tblsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups montery jack cheese or mexican blended shredded cheese
2 avocados
sour cream

Heat 6 tblsp oil in large pot over high heat. Add tortilla pieces ( not strips - those are for later) , onion, cilantro and garlic. Saute about 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes with juices and bring to a boil.
Add broth, cumin, and chili powder and return to boil.
Reduce heat, add chicken. Simmer until chicken in cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Remove and transfer chicken to a plate. Shred chicken breasts and return to soup. Add in the corn.

Use remaining oil, you may need more , to a large skillet. Add tortilla strips a few at a time and fry until golden, stirring constantly. Transfer to paper towls to drain and season with salt.

Top soup with fried tortilla strips, cheese, avocado and sour cream.

(You could also buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and shred it into the soup instead of cooking the chicken in the soup. Either way...really yummy!)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Birthday My Love!

How is it that men just keep getting better looking the older they get? This man still makes my tiddly wink after 34 years......I think I'll keep him :)
I love to watch him playing with our grandsons
and he's always doing something to make me
laugh (even when it's not on purpose :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coffee & Dark Chocolate Brownies

So maybe you can see a pattern forming here. If a recipe calls for coffee and dark chocolate it's pretty much a given that my hubby will love it! That's not to say that bacon doesn't hold a special place in his heart as well..... so here it is:

Coffee & Dark Chocolate Brownies

1 16.5 to 18 oz pkg refridgerated sugar cookie dough

2 eggs

1 19.5 pkg dark chocolate brownie mix

1/2 cup cooking oil

1/3 cup coffee liqueur or cooled strong coffee

1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press sugar cookie dough into bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.

2. In a large bowl combine the eggs, brownie mix, cooking oil, and coffee liqueur until just combined. Spread batter over sugar cookie dough. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

3. Bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy the smell of chocolately goodness while it is baking! Cool, cut and scarf them down!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Christmas in July!!!

Because I've been sewing forever... I have aquired quite a bit of fabric and supplies over the years. But when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about 13 years ago, I was in too much pain on a daily basis to mess with my sewing machine.

All of my "stuff" went into boxes that were stored in the garage. Recently I've rekindled my romance with sewing and have been asking my dear hubby to get my boxes down so I could go through them. Last Saturday, during our yard-sale, I was finally able to browse through my boxes in between yard sale customers! I was so excited to see what had been locked away in the garage all these years! These photos are just a glimpse of what I found! Fabric, thread, seam binding, ribbon, patterns, buttons, zippers.....OH MY! Better than Christmas!
I gave away over 100 patterns and have probably 200 still in my collection.

Some patterns are just classic and stand the test of time, while others......let's just say that even if MC Hammer pants come back in style, I don't know anyone in my family that would want a pair :) I've spent the past 4 days sorting and organizing my treasures. Feels like Christmas and my birthday combined! I am a happy girl :)