29 February 2012

Welcome, Let's Scrap Blog Hoppers!

Please note that this is a "sticky" post which will remain at the top of my blog for the month of February. Please scroll down to see newer posts. Thanks!

Greetings from Iowa, right in the center of the United States! Welcome to your next stop (#44) in the Let's Scrap Blog Hop! 

If you came here from Kim's blog, then you are in the right place! If you did not, Mindi Brown is the first stop on the hop. She also has the complete hop order to help you find your way. Although you can start at any blog along the route, you don't want to miss any of the fun!

 From the name of my blog, you may have guessed that I love both crafting and kitties. My cats quite often assist me with projects, especially those involving ribbon, their specialty! :)

I am very excited to be a blog host for such a large and international blog hop. I love the idea that crafters around the world will be getting to know one another and sharing ideas! And what a privilege it is for me to be the HOP STOP between Kim and Carla, two very talented crafters from Australia and South Africa. You are sure to be inspired by their beautiful creations!

Here is the sketch I am showcasing for the hop:

This is such a versatile sketch that I know I'll be using it over and over, and I'm sure you will, too! This sketch is perfect for using up little strips of coordinating paper.

My first card was made primarily with October Afternoon products, mixed and matched from a few different lines. I started with the basic shape suggested by the sketch and built from there, choosing a soft color palette to work with the "memories" theme of my card. 

 Of course, I had to include a bit of twine, one of my favorite products at the moment! 

My second card was created completely from scraps, something I often challenge myself to do. As I was looking around my EXTREMELY TIDY desk (ahem!), I immediately spotted the leftover "You're a hoot" text from a recent We R Memory Keepers project, so I decided to make an owl card. (I love owls even more than twine!) I grabbed a few paper scraps in fall colors -- including some of my very favorite striped paper -- and one of my many owl stamps. To make a perch for the owl, I used my Tim Holtz Movers and Shapers twig and leaf die set.

 I added a button tied with a bit of natural twine, as well as a strip of cardstock punched to look like notebook paper -- a subtle nod to the notion of a "wise old owl". A bit of embossing and inking, and another card was done!

And now for the fun part! Here's the little prize package I'm offering for my random drawing -- a mix of October Afternoon goodies, including an adorable chipboard house album, rub-ons, rubber charms, an assortment of pretty ribbon, and a few other surprises, too!

It's easy to be eligible for my random drawing! Here are the 3 things you need to do:

1) Make sure you are signed up as a follower on my blog. Scroll up to the right-hand corner of this page and click on the JOIN THIS SITE link.

2) Join the Let's Scrap website. It's free, simple and quick! Click HERE to join right now!

3)  Leave me a comment on this post! In your comment, please share your favorite tip for organizing crafting supplies! This will enable us all to gather some great ideas throughout the month of February!

If you would like a second chance in my random drawing, here's what you need to do:

1) Make a card from the sketch I have posted and upload it to the gallery at Let's Scrap. Please tag it like this: 

5-5-11, LEAP44   Note that there is a space after the comma and LEAP is all capitals. There is no space after LEAP.

2) Leave a comment on my blog with a link to your card on Let's Scrap.

Remember: The hop ends at 11:59pm Central Standard time on February 29th, which you will be able to track using the clock on the main page of Let's Scrap, so be sure to do all of the above by the deadline! Prize winners will be posted and notified on March 3.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you'll come back regularly! Can't wait to read your comments and see your beautiful cards!  

Your next stop will be Carla's blog at Sweet Scrappins. 
Have fun!


27 February 2012

Recipe: Southwest Meatballs

Today I'm sharing a recipe which I've actually made successfully a few times: Southwest Meatballs. This recipe comes from Clean Eating, a magazine I'd highly recommend if you're interested in cooking with fewer processed foods. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be made in one big skillet -- a very nice feature for someone like me who tends to make big messes when cooking.

Before you get started, you must remove all kitties from the kitchen! For some reason, kitties seem to gravitate toward ground turkey. As you can see, Tinsel was not too pleased that she had to be sequestered in the basement!

As indicated in the recipe below, you'll first need to form the meatballs. This is a gunky process, but it goes fairly quickly. The recipe creates enough meatballs to stretch over two dinners at our house.

Next you'll want to brown the meatballs so they get a nice crust.

Then you'll add the remaining ingredients -- corn, tomatoes, black beans, broth, and spices. It smells SO GOOD! I stepped outside and came back inside a couple of times just so I could smell dinner cooking! :)

Finally, you'll add cilantro for an added kick of flavor and a bit of color. Serve over brown rice for an easy one-skillet dinner!

Southwest Meatballs - Clean Eating magazine

1 pound ground turkey breast
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup frozen yellow or white corn
1 15-oz can low-sodium black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups diced vine-ripened tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1) In a large bowl, combine turkey, egg whites, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Shape into 16 meatballs, each about the size of a golf ball.

2) In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add meatballs and cook for 3-5 minutes, turning frequently, until browned on all sides. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, broth, lime juice, and cumin. Mix well. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Stir in cilantro and serve.

24 February 2012

Feline Friday: SNOW!

It's been an unusually warm winter around here, so I was (secretly) a little excited when we received a few inches of snow last night. It's a heavy, wet snow -- the kind that somehow coats each tree branch.

The kitties always look at the snow with amazement, so I scooped up a bit of it and brought it inside for inspection.

As expected, Tinsel eyed it with suspicion.

And also as expected, Lily came running immediately and stuck her nose in it.

OOO! Dat wuz COLD, Mommie!

Tinsel would have nothing more to do with the cup of snow. Instead, she decided to pose for a winter glamour shot!
Now THAT was much more pleasant!

17 February 2012

Feline Friday: Squirrel?

Okay, Lily knows she is not supposed to be up on the kitchen table. And she is not supposed to help me make kits for classes, either. But it's not often that I catch her sitting up like a squirrel!

So for the sake of cuteness, I'll allow it just this once. :)

15 February 2012

Super-Easy Salade Nicoise

This super-easy Salade Nicoise is one of my very favorite dishes. I love "all-in-one" dishes like this because they make a great lunch or dinner all by themselves. Here's how I made this pretty and healthful salad:

Super-Easy Salade Nicoise
Mixed greens/lettuce
New potatoes
Fresh green beans
Fresh mushrooms
No-salt tuna (packed in water)
A few kalamata olives (surely one of the best things on earth!)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Lite balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Wash and cut the potatoes in half. Wash and trim the beans. Steam the potatoes and green beans, just a handful for each salad you're making. Let them cool to room temperature.

Spread lettuce on a plate. Arrange the potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, and olives on top of the lettuce. Add a few chunks of tuna. Add salt (if needed) and freshly ground pepper to taste. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and ENJOY!

13 February 2012

February Happenings

 January was sort of a blur and February has been much the same. I am continuing to keep busy with a variety of projects, with hopes of finishing up quite a few big ones this month! I have not touched my short list of New Years' Resolutions -- and that needs to change!

During February, I'm one of 50 hosts for the Leap Around the World blog hop sponsored by Let's Scrap, an online crafting community. The response to the blog hop has been great, and it's been a lot of fun to "meet" crafters around the world.

For the past couple of months, I've also been recruiting volunteers to help with the upcoming state Academic Decathlon tournament which our local high school will be hosting on March 2 and 3. This has proven to be a big task but the community has been great in responding to our needs. We're all looking forward to a successful event!

Meanwhile, I just finished up a card set for Memory Bound using papers from the fun Kaiser Craft Bubblegum collection.

I've also been preparing for several classes and making samples for our upcoming wedding and graduation open house events at the store. There will be many inspiring ideas for both! I also just finished up the newsletter for March and April -- click here to see everything we have planned for the spring!

I've been writing for retail trade publications for a few years now, something I really enjoy. I have a regular column in Creative Retailer, which is a wonderful new publication aimed at business owners and others involved in the crafts industry. My column focuses on various aspects of teaching classes. I firmly believe that the "HOW" is just as important as the "WHAT" when teaching, so I enjoy addressing topics which can make all of us more effective in educating our customer base. I am excited that my article about class kits is listed on the cover of the next issue! 

The balance of my month has been filled with working on several projects for a Halloween publication due out this summer, tending to our lovely kitties, and trying out a few new recipes...including one that failed big-time! But more on that later...for now, it's back to work!

10 February 2012

Feline Friday - Table Decor

I arrived home yesterday to THIS:

This basket WAS used to hold a baking dish! 

Upon closer inspection, it appears that somebody is larger than a 2-quart casserole:

Still, it must have been a good spot for a nap. :)

Posted by Picasa

07 February 2012

Tabby Tuesday

Lily has a "secret" hiding place in the back of the closet. I'm not sure why she thinks it's all that secret...she's managed to commandeer two blankets to outfit the corner just to her liking, so obviously SOMEONE knows it's there. :)

Nevertheless, it's an excellent napping place. Quiet and comfy...away from the stresses of the world.

06 February 2012

Crock Pot Recipe: Pork & Green Chile Stew

We tried a new stew recipe last week and deemed it a keeper. I found this one in a Taste of Home magazine. I cut the recipe in half (only because my crock pot wouldn't hold a full batch) and still had leftovers! If you're worried about the chilies, you could always cut back on the amount, but I made it as written and it didn't seem overly spicy at all. This is a great stew for a cold winter evening!

Pork and Green Chile Stew
Taste of Home magazine

2 lbs boneless pork shoulder butt roast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 cups water
1 can (16 oz) hominy, rinsed and drained
2 cans (4 oz each) chopped green chilies
2 T quick-cooking tapioca
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup minced fresh cilantro
Sour cream - optional

In a large skillet, brown pork and onion in oil in batches. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 4 quart slow cooker. Stir in the potatoes, water, hominy, chilies, tapioca, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours or until meat is tender, stirring in cilantro during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Serve with sour cream if desired.

03 February 2012

Feline Friday: A Little More TLC, Please

This time last week, I had just taken Lily to the vet with what appeared to be a urinary tract infection. She was given a two-week course of antibiotics and appeared to have fully recovered...until yesterday, that is. Her litter box woes returned, so back to the vet we went.

The first order of business was an X-ray to determine if the cause of her trouble could be bladder stones rather than a UTI, as the symptoms are similar. The X-ray showed no strong evidence of stones except for two teeny tiny spots smaller than the head of a pin. The vet recommended that she try prescription canned food for a week. It is formulated to actually help dissolve certain kinds of stones and sooth irritated bladders. Awww, poor Lily! :(

So in addition to a very groggy kitty, I brought home a case of delicious "Urinary SO". The vet instructed Lily to eat up to three cans a day! As you might imagine, Lily was thrilled with this homework!

When we got home, Lily sat and looked at her new food for the longest time. She could not believe her eyes!  

Three cans every day? All for me? YIPPEE!

 I guess going back to the vet wasn't so bad after all, Mom!