Friday, April 29, 2011

Look what came from the wonderful folks in little brown shorts (aka UPS)?

My new Cricut Expression E2!!! I ordered Monday night at 5pm HST and it arrived by the end of the day on Thursday. I'm officially a HSN fan for at least the next five minutes as I was not charged for express shipping, only standard shipping, which I attributed to being in Hawaii (and thus not special enough to get free shipping). Before the end of the official launch on Tuesday (and even well before the E2 sold out, I think around dinner time EST on Tuesday), I had received the shipping notice that my new E2 was on the way!

Here it is out of the brown shipping box. Look for more pictures to come tomorrow morning. If you can believe it, all I've done so far is take it out of the box to look at the FOUR new pre-installed cartridges.

Here the mini image sheet. For whatever reason, I'm having trouble grabbing image sheets for the other cartridges. The Cricut Decal cartridge has a whole line of Cricut bugs which are unbelievably cute and will definitely be making an appearance in vinyl very soon. The Just a Note cartridge was designed by Cosmo Cricket (a maker of yummy paper collections and other popular scrapbooking products), and has some neat tri-fold cards on it.

Thank you so much, Maryann!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Supper Series #15 - Chicken Fried Rice

Fried rice seems like such a decadent treat, but depending upon whether it's a side dish or main dish, how much fat and salt you use, it may be a fairly nutritional meal. I tend to make it to use up leftover brown rice, meat, and/or veggies. As you will see, the recipe is super simple--mix it all up in a pan with soy sauce, pepper, some sort of fat, and an egg or two to bind it all together. How simple?


.5 - 1 lb uncooked skinless chicken breast or thighs, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c cooked rice (I use brown, but white will do)
1.5 c broccoli, chopped
~1/4 c soy sauce, divided
Fresh ground pepper
1 egg
olive oil
1 tbs butter, if desired (alternatively a splash of chicken broth)

In a large skillet with a high rim, saute carrots and onions in olive oil until they begin to soften. If using uncooked meat, push veggies off to the side and cook chicken sprinkled with a tablespoon or two of soy sauce in the center of the pan, adding the minced garlic, and stirring the mix together when the chicken is browned on one side.**

When the meat is cooked, add broccoli or other uncooked veggie and stir mixtures together until veggie begins to soften. Sprinkle with pepper.


Pour cooked rice on top of meat and veggie mixture and liberally season with another couple of tablespoons of soy sauce. (My rule of thumb for making fried rice is to use a little more soy sauce than I would put on white rice that I would eat as a side dish. If you are unfamiliar with soy sauce, start with 2 teaspoons at the first step and 1 tablespoon at the second step. You can always add more at the table.) Add butter or splash of chicken broth and mix together.

Add egg, slightly beaten to rice mixture, mixing well to coat. Cook on medium for another 5-10 minutes until egg is done. (I like a little crust on the bottom of my fried rice.)

Serves 3-4


If you are using cooked meat and veggies, saute onions and carrots until softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic in last minute of cooking. Add cooked meat and veggies, season with a tablespoon of soy sauce, and cook a few minutes until heated through. Then proceed to follow the rice and egg steps.

Happy Easter Bunny Cards

Good morning, everyone! Happy Easter!

If you're still wondering what to serve for Easter dinner or what to do with all those ham leftovers, hop over to my food blog for some ideas.

Despite my best of intentions, I ran out of time and made a whopping two Easter cards this year. I did mail them on Thursday, so since the federal government no longer observes Good Friday, there's a decent chance that they made their way to their destinations. I used the Create a Critter bunny that is just too cute. I considered, and actually cut out, bunnies from the Doodlecharms cartridge because they look a little like the popular marshmallow bunnies, but when it came to assembling the card, they just didn't work. Featured in the first card is the Martha Stewart Garden Trellis punch, which took awhile to get to me after I ordered it nearly a month ago, but it's perfect for those garden cards, so I highly recommend it.

Here's the cards:


Create a Critter (bunny)
Simply Charmed (eggs)
Doodlecharms (basket)
MyMindsEye Stella & Rose Gertie (pattern paper)
Stampin Up (cardstock for base, colored and white is scraps)
Papertrey Ink (twine)
Misc ribbon (I think it's from a local store in HI)
Distress Ink - Antique Linen
Martha Stewart Garden Trellis Punch
Sizzix embossing folderc (Diamond & Tropical Paisley set)
My Pink Stamper Happiest Moments Stamps (Happy Easter)
Basic Gray Easter stamps (inside stamps shown below)

Some closeups and insides




Lamb and Ham Recipes from the Archives

Happy Easter, everyone! I will post the Sunday Supper Series a little later in the day today. Since I'm traveling to see my husband, I will not be cooking this Easter. However, I wanted share a few recipes from the archives that you might want to make this year or next. I absolutely love lamb, and eat it in variety of ways. As for ham, I get a craving for it as a main dish about once or twice a year, which is quite the improvement from when I was younger, but it works great in sandwiches and other dishes with the leftovers.

"Traditional" Easter dinner dishes
Leg of Lamb with Herbs and Mustard
Mustard-Sugar Glazed Ham

Fun lamb dishes for anytimee
Slowcooker Lamb with Dried Plums
Lamb Tagine
Braised Lamb with Tomato Reduction
Irish Lamb Stew (from Eating Well)

What to do with all that leftover ham
Garlic Alfredo Ham and Veggies
Ham and Spinach Pasta

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pecan-Cherry Granola Bars

A couple of months ago, I was thrilled to share this recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Granola Bars as a suitable alternative to spending lots of dollars a week on store-bought granola bars for my husband to snack on that had goodness knows what sort of preservatives in them. That recipe is modified from one posted at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures. Many batches later, I've added cranberries, cherries, raisins, pecans, and almonds, but you could add just about any sort of fruit and nuts (or chocolate chips), as well as wheat germ to up the nutritional ante. Here's my latest rendition, which was a hit at work this week:


1/2 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
2 TBS honey
2 TBS corn syrup
1/2-3/4 tsp salt
2 c oatmeal (I use quick oats, but regular would work)
1/4 c wheat germ (can omit and use more oatmeal instead)
1/2 c nuts of choice
1/2 c dried fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and honey over medium heat. Stir in oats, fruit, nuts, and salt.

Spread evenly into an 8" square pan that's been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 22-25 minutes until golden brown. (Note: I use a ceramic dish. A metal pan might brown faster, so check at 20 min).

Cool on wire rack in pan for 10 minutes before cutting. (I then leave in the pan to cool completely, but you could pop out on wire rack. It is, however, necessary to cut before completely cooled).

Makes 12-16 bars.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

TGF Flirty Anya Thank You Card

Happy Sunday, everyone! I wanted to share this card before I put it in the mail this week. I love this little lady from the Greeting Farm. The weekend I organized all my Greeting Farm stamps (see that post here), I knew that I wanted to make cards with the Flirty Anya stamp. She's so bright and cheerful. I was also super excited to use my new Sew Easy from We R Memory Keepers which I hope to use often. I ordered it back in January from an Ebay dealer when all my normal online sources were out of stock. Now I understand that its back in stock at most places, so I might have to look into getting more accessories for it. Basically, it allows you to do stitching without a sewing machine and without worrying about evenly spacing your hand stitches. Very neat. Anyway, have a great Sunday and here's my card:



The Greeting Farm - Flirty Anya
Copic markers
Paperytrey Ink cardstock and ribbon
DCWV Summer Designs matstack
Cake Basics Cricut cart for the scalloping
Stampin Up - So Happy For You stamp collection
bling and twine from my stash

Sunday Supper Series # 14 - Slowcooker Shoyu Chicken

Hi everyone. Today's dish is an awesome recipe for shoyu chicken that can be made in the slowcooker. This dish whips up with minimal effort, cooks quickly, and yields a tasty result. Hmmm, cooks quickly, you say? I thought the point of a slowcooker was so you could set it in the morning and have dinner waiting in the evening. Well, it doesn't work that way because chicken cooks far too quickly (this dish is done in 4 hours). However, it's perfect for that weekend dinner where you don't roll out of bed until noon, have a bunch of errands and other things to do during the day, and still want a home-cooked meal waiting for you that evening with minimal effort.

I found this recipe posted on a few blogs, including Lynn's Kitchen Adventures and Full Bellies, Happy Kids as Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken. I renamed it for a couple of reasons. First, I didn't do the second step that makes the chicken "sticky" and entails putting the cooked chicken under the broiler with a sauce that I didn't make. Second, if you grew up in Hawaii and I served you this dish, you would immediately call it Shoyu Chicken. ("shoyu" = soy sauce). This dish reheats very nicely, as well. As you can see from the picture, I turned it into a box lunch for work. Enjoy!


1.5 - 2 lbs chicken pieces
1/4 c brown sugar
2 TBS soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground ginger

Place chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Turn chicken a few times to coat. Cook on low for 4 hours, until chicken is cooked through.

So long as you don't cook it too much longer than necessary to cook the chicken, it will stay in one piece when you remove it from the slow cooker.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Pink Stamper Anything Birthday Challenge

Okay, this post is nearly a week overdue, but if it counts, I made these cards over the weekend. Somehow time slipped away and thus am only getting around to posting them now. This post is linked to the My Pink Stamper Anything Birthday Challenge. When I saw the challenge, I knew I had to use my new Life's a Party cartridge and one of the new My Pink Stamper stamp sets. Surprisingly, I thought I would use the Sweetest Cupcakes set because there are a lot of baking-themed fun phrases, but the size of the birthday stamp from Fabulous Phrases set just fit the bill.

Here are the cards I made, all A2 sized:


Stampin Up cardstock
Basic Grey "Life of the Party" pattern paper - this collection has a wood theme, which is neat
My Pink Stamper Fabulous Phrases stamp set
Martha Stewart Happy Birthday Punch
Stampin Up Scalloped Edge Punch
Glossy Accents
Misc twine, gems, ribbon

More pictures . . .








Head back to My Pink Stamper to check out other fantastic birthday cards.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Honey Wheat Bagels

It's bagel time! Yes, I've been saying that I wanted to make bagels pretty much since we moved in to our current November! Well, over the weekend, I finally got around to it, with a little help from my trusty breadmaker. I followed this recipe from the blog This Chick Cooks, except for the final baking which I took from a recipe I made a couple summers ago. The original recipe called for broiling the bagels, which I didn't think would result in a lovely golden brown.


1.5 c warm water
2.5 c whole wheat flour
1.5 c all purpose flour
3 TBS honey
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2.25 tsp yeast

1 egg white

Combine all ingredients except for the egg white in your bread maker in the order according to the manufacturer's instructions. My bread maker calls for the order listed above. Set to dough cycle.

When dough cycle is complete, divide dough into 12 round balls. Use your thumb and a hulu hoop type motion to make a hole. Cover with a towel as you make each bagel shape. While forming bagels, bring a large pot of water to boil.


Boil each bagel for 2-3 minutes. Drain on a rack while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees.


On a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, place bagels and brush with egg white.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Supper Series # 13 - Our Best Bites Chicken Cacciatore

Welcome to another Sunday Supper Series post. I'm excited to share this recipe as it's modified from the Our Best Bites' cookbook, which I purchased from Amazon. If you're not familiar, Our Best Bites is an awesome food blog run by two moms. The book is simply gorgeous--plenty of colorful pictures, tips, and alternative instructions. Just on my initial read, I tabbed at least a dozen recipes to try.

For my first recipe, I tried their Chicken Cacciatore. I really have no idea whether this is a traditional cacciatore or not, but it turned out yummy which is all I care about. I did make some modifications from their recipe, namely that I did not puree the onions after I cooked them, although I did make an effort to cut them as thinly as possible. I also decreased the amount of apple juice called for, did not deep fry my chicken, as more or less directed by the 1/2 c of olive oil called for in the original recipe, and added my mushroom and peppers before simmering. Here's what I did:




1.25 lb boneless skinless thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, minced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 c chicken stock
1/2 c apple juice
1 TBS white vinegar
1/4 tsp thyme
14 tsp majoram
1 bay leaf
6 oz tomato paste
1 med green bell pepper, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
olive oil


Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a plastic bag. Shake chicken until well coated. Brown in olive oil, and then remove from pan.

Drizzle another coat of olive oil and saute onions until tender. Add garlic in the last few minutes.

Add tomato paste, thyme, majoram, bay leaf, vinegar, chicken stock, and apple juice to onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir until well combined.

Return chicken to pan, along with mushrooms, and green bell pepper. Heat to a near boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for at least an hour. Adjust seasoning.

Remove bay leaf before serving over pasta. Alternatively, cook pasta a little short of al dente, drain, and add to cacciatore for last few minutes of cooking. This will allow the pasta to absorb some of the excess liquid.

(NOTE: I did add the pasta directly to the sauce, but I did not undercook the pasta first. This resulted in the pasta getting a bit mushy, which affects only the texture, not the taste).


Serves 6

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Raspberry Oatmeal Crumb Bars

These gooey bars are the perfect little sweet treat and whip up super quick. You could also turn this recipe into strawberry bars, apricot bars, etc., just by changing what sort of preserves you use. I slightly modified a recipe found on the awesome blog Sage Trifle, basically to add more preserves. I took them to work where they disappeared well before lunch time. Yay for happy snackers! (Sorry for the poor pictures. It seems that I need to bring my sun lamp into the kitchen when photographing at night. :)


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
12 oz raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8-inch square baking pan by spritzing with cooking spray.

Combine brown sugar, flours, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats. Stir in softened butter until you have a crumbly mixture. Press 1.5 - 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the preserves in an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press until even.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.


Makes 16 squares

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Greeting Farm Collection


Just like my Cricut, which got me into obsessive paper crafting (rather than just once a year cards), the Greeting Farm got me into stamping. I am still far from an expert colorer and have dozens of stamps that have never graced the face of a project, but I love collecting them! Be sure to check out my wishlist, before you go.


Here's the list of my collection so far, colored pictures to come:

Anya and Ian
Fancy Anya - finally bought last week!
Flapper Anya
Fleur Anya
Flirty Anya
Hippie Anya
Oh Boy! Ian
Rain Snow Shine (teenage Anya) - just got this yesterday!
Rockstar Anya
My Guy Ian (teenage Ian) - just got this yesterday!
Rescue Ian
Rockstar Anya

Cheeky Cherry
Cheeky Rockabilly
Cheeky Mate

Oliver and Amelia Collections
OA Journey
OA - Just for You


Wish List
Cheeky Chat
Cheeky Cherry Pie
Cheeky Glamour (a Marilyn Monroe kind of gal)
Surfer Anya

Martha Stewart Punch Collection

Laura from Following the Paper Trail got me (and her many other viewers) hooked on Martha Stewart punches. For me, I'm hooked specifically on edge punches, which you use to make decorate borders and strips for cards and scrapbook pages. I can cute some of these images using my Cricut, but often the more intricate images won't cut cleanly unless I constantly have a new blade. Plus, with most of my cartridges, I'd have to use my Gypsy to get a border look that will fit my cards.

Yeah, I'm making excuses to justify my addiction. Here's a shot of the ones I got for my birthday.


The list:
(Pictures to come later)

Arch Lattice
Botanical Scallops
Doily Lace
Drippy Goo
Flower Patch
Garden Gate
Happy Birthday
Holidays - Spiderweb
Iron Gate
Scallop Dots
Scroll Lace
Swirling Lace

This is my latest trick. It's similar to a paint chip collection and it's a good way to use up scraps. Each strip is about 5.5", just the width of an A2 card.

Sunday Supper Series #12 - Parmesan Chicken Tenders and Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

I can't believe this is my the twelfth Sunday Supper Series post. Three months, whoo-hoo! Okay, I know one post a week isn't too thrilling, especially since I once posted almost every day, but oh well. Since it's the twelfth post, today's recipe is a two-for-one. Two simple recipes in one post, both modified from recipes in a recent Everyday Food magazine. If you don't like brussels sprouts, You could substitute green beans.


For the Parmesan Chicken Tenders
1.25 lb chicken tenders (skinless breasts cut at about 1")
1/3 c panko bread crumbs
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp dried thyme
salt, pepper, olive oil

For Roasted Veggies
8 oz button mushrooms, halved or quartered
1/2 lb brussel sprouts, halved or quartered
1-3 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp thyme
salt, pepper, olive oil


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Chicken Tenders
Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and thyme. Place in a single layer in the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish or jelly roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil.

In a small dish, whisk panko breadcrumbs and cheese. Sprinkle over top of chicken. Drizzle another bit of olive oil.

Bake on the top rack, uncovered, for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and top is golden brown.

In another 9 x 13" baking dish or jelly roll pan, place veggies in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and spices. Toss together.

On the bottom rack, roast for 20 minutes until veggies are tender and are beginning to brown. Check after 15 minutes and turn if you want to avoid charring (I like, however, like the bit of charring :).

Remove from oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.

Serves 4

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Peachy Keen Stamps

Peachy Keen Stamps is another company that came to my attention through the compatibility of its products with Cricut cartridges such as Create a Critter and Everyday Paper Dolls. Their best-selling lines are various faces for any and every di ecut you could imagine. Something I really like is that they are expanding into the childish, oval/dumpling-type face, rather than the strictly round sets. These work well with the animal cuts, as well as the Once Upon a Princess cartridge (which I don't have yet) and really make you want to pinch some cheeks. They feature a bunch of other cute images besides faces, too. I only have a few of those, most of which were Christmas or holiday themed.

For now, I'm posting the product image so you see what you get, but will hopefully replace it with samples of my work. Hop over the Peachy Keen Stamps to check out their samples. If you type the product name into their search box (or even in Google), you'll go right to the product page.

Face Stamps
PK-754 Critter Faces SET A Medium

PK-490 Everyday Character Face Assortment

PK-573 Basic Paper Doll Faces

PK-500 Snow Cutie Face Assortment

PK-640 Princess Face Assortment

PK-643 Boy Mates 1 1/8"

PK-450 Wide Eyed Kids Face Assortment

Other sets
PK-408 Gingerbread Doll Set

PK-416 Lorie and Al Gingerbread Set

PK-407 Ginger Baby Oven Mitt

Check out Peachy Keen Stamps!

My Pink Stamper Stamps

At the moment, I have 7 sets of Robyn's (aka My Pink Stamper) stamps. Originally designed to coordinate with Cricut images, most of the says are clever little puns ("punny") and tend to be more fun than stock greetings like "Happy Birthday" and "Have a Great Day," although she has those too. Like all the other folks on the internet, she advertises them as "high quality photo-polymer." I must admit that they are thicker than many of my old Hero Art stamps and definitely more so than generic acrylic stamps that I have. Still, for me, the big selling point is the cleverness of the compilations. You can check out all her stamps on her products page here. I have bought or received most of the sets in my collection from Custom Crops, however a couple have come from Hallmark Scrapbook and Crafts to Favor. I recently discovered that they are also available on Amazon from CrafteCorner's Amazon store, which is awesome because I could use my Amazon gift certificates.

As of now, I have:

Fruit and Veggie Puns

- She released this stamp set with the Create a Critter cartridge and it was a HUGE hit that was widely imitated around the net. It is possible that she copied the idea first, possibly from Provocraft who includes numerous puns in their word art. Nonetheless, this stamp set is awesome and its popularity spawned a bunch of others around the 'net.

More Punny-licious
- Following the success of Punny-licious, this was her next set of funny phrases that go great with multiple cartridges.

Even More Punny-licious

Spooky Puns
-I made more Halloween cards than ever last year with this set.

Winter Punnies
- This is a great Winter set, not really Christmas-y at all.

Happiest Moments
- Great all-occasion set.

In the mail, ordered from Craftecorner via Amazon, are:

Sweetest Cupcakes

Fabulous Phrases

Sweet Baby

Buggy Punnies