Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crafts :: Pattern Review and Giveaway

Good Morning!

Earlier this year, Madelyn and I played around with soft toy design. I came up with what I thought (lol) was a cute owl pattern, and she designed this most adorable hippo (as well as several other designs that are in the various stages of pattern creation). I got a copy of  the Henrietta Hippo pattern when it first came out and whipped up a couple right away. Madelyn's pattern writing style makes it very easy to follow along to make your very own cute little hippo. I tried one in felted wool (a thrift store scarf that I washed in hot water and put in the dryer) and another in cotton. I much prefer working with the felt for this particular project. It was so nice not to have to worry about raw edges at all! And, it makes for a cozier softy.

If you're a fan of the cute, why not head over to Madelyn's etsy shop, 529 Mason Street! There are always a few patterns in the shop! Once you've made your own little hippo, you can add it to the Flickr group as well.

Let's show the hippo some love! Madelyn is giving away 3 Henrietta Hippo patterns on my blog this week! To enter, all you have to do is visit 529 Mason Street and add the shop as a favourite then come back here and leave a comment. Tweet and/or share this giveaway on Facebook for extra entries. Be sure to leave another comment letting me know!


Here's the hippos I made... chilling out on their handmade quilt.

If you're into knitting, Madelyn has also designed an adorable newborn Owlet Beanie pattern! This one's a freebie over on Ravelry! I made one of these as well, and found the pattern to be well written and easy to follow... and just so stinkin' cute!
The contest will close on Friday November 4 sometime between supper and craft night! Enjoy the rest of your weekend! I'm still drinking lots of meyer lemon tea with honey and trying to get over a nasty cold.

*** And, the winners are... Gladys and Amy! Congratulations! We'll be in touch by email. ***

~Cindy

Friday, October 28, 2011

Recipe :: Spicy Carrot and Sausage Soup

Hello!

Carrot and Hot Italian Sausage may seem like an odd combination for soup - and I guess it is - but this was so flavorful with just the right amount of kick! This soup is a combination of two Pioneer Woman recipes. I combined her Carrot Soup recipe with the filling from her Stuffed Mushrooms!

Spicy Carrot and Sausage Soup


8 whole Large Carrots, Peeled And Sliced
1-½ cup turkey stock
2 cloves Garlic, Pressed
The zest and juice of one lemon
1 cup 1% milk

1/2 cup whipping cream
pinch of Nutmeg

Simmer carrots with turkey stock, garlic, and lemon zest for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.
Use an immersion blender to blend carrots and stock until smooth. Add in milk, cream and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside.

10 White Button Mushrooms
⅓ pounds Hot Pork Sausage
½ whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
⅓ cups apple juice
4 oz Cream Cheese
1 whole Egg Yolk
1/4 cups Parmesan Cheese, Grated
Salt And Pepper, to taste

Squeeze the sausage meat out of their casings into a frying pan. Scramble fry until fully cooked. Remove from heat, cool. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Add to carrot soup mixture and heat through. It's a very creamy, zesty soup! Perfect for fall.

~Cindy
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recipe :: Southwest Chicken Salad

Hello!

I've made a version of this salad many times now, but my most recent one, I'd have to say, was the best! So... I thought I'd share my tweaks with you.

I served this salad at Thread. Paper. Scissors. (the fall craft day at our church).

Pin It


Southwest Chicken Salad for a Crowd
-4 kg Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts marinated in taco seasoning, lime juice and olive oil then seared on a hot frying pan and roasted in the oven in a large roast pan, covered at 350° for an hour. I sliced it into strips after it had cooked and rested.
-2 cans black beans, rinsed
-2 cans corn
-2 bags of restaurant style tostitos chips
-2 bags of shredded tex mex cheese
-2 boxes of spring mix greens and 3 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped.
-3 diced red peppers
-1 bag of key limes
-3 ripe avocados, diced
-3 large tomatoes, diced
-2 large red onions,  diced

Cilantro Ranch Dressing


-1 packet (powdered) Club House Ranch Dressing
-Large handful of fresh cilantro
-Juice of 5 key limes
-Zest of 2 key limes
-A few shakes of hot sauce
-1 tub of medium fresh salsa (Fred Meyer)
-1 large container of sour cream
-1 tsp ground cumin

Purée the dressing ingredients with an immersion blender or food processor. If it's not runny enough, you can add a bit of milk. I didn't need to this time.


Such a fun, colourful lunch!
The leftovers from this salad made excellent soup! I threw everything (except the lettuce, dressing and chips) into the crockpot with some turkey stock and a cup of salsa and let it simmer for 4 hours. Just before serving I squeezed in some fresh lime juice and served it with sour cream at the table. Soooo good!




~Cind
y


Friday, October 21, 2011

Shutterfly Winners Announced

Hello!

Sorry to have missed my 31 Days of Holiday Baking post today. I was busy preparing food all day, but no time to take pictures or blog the recipes! I promise to get all caught up on Monday, so please be sure to pop back then. I have some wonderful holiday recipes to share, a guest blogger (my niece!), and another great giveaway coming up!

Tomorrow is our Thread. Paper. Scissors. 12 hour crafting event! It should be lots of fun.

The 3 Winners of the Shutterfly Holiday Card giveaway are....

1. lisawilki
2.  Nadia Cécire Chougui
3. Highland Ghillie

Please email me to claim your prize!

Have a fun weekend!


~Cindy
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Holiday Card Giveaway

Image taken from Shutterfly
Last year, Shutterfly had a great promotion on holiday cards so I took advantage of it and ordered some for Christmas. I used to make all of my own cards and really enjoyed the process. Plus, it feels great to give something handmade. With Shutterfly, you get to be involved in the design of your own cards so the feel good factor is still there, but its a lot more affordable and takes A LOT less time to order them than to make them yourself. There are people who will say it's cheaper to make your own cards from scratch, but I've been there and know the truth. lol

Shutterfly has hundreds of card styles available and each design appears to be fully customizable. You can choose the card size, the fold, the colors. They even do photo cards, which is really neat.

For our Christmas cards this year I plan to order a 5x5 (I LOVE square cards, always have!) folded photo card with a black and white photo of my girls. And, since I'm on a major turquoise kick, there will definitely be some of that colour in the design! Probably with a little pop of red.

Although all of the opinions expressed in this post are purely my own, I have been compensated with some free cards!

Giveaway


Shutterfly is giving away 25 cards to 3 lucky readers! Includes free shipping to the USA or Canada!

How to Enter:

1) Leave a comment on this post.

2) For an additional entry, follow this blog on Google Friend Connect (over there on the right ----->). Leave another comment saying you're a follower, please!

3) On Twitter: RT to enter!  Holiday Card Giveaway 

The 3 winners will be announced tomorrow evening.

Are you a blogger? Want a chance at 25 free cards this holiday season? Register here: http://goo.gl/DDw7Q

~Cindy
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31 Days of Holiday Baking - Day 20 :: Cranberry Lemon Loaf

***Update - October 30/11 - This is the last post in the "31 Days" series. Yup, I'm ending it at 20 days! lol I've been sick with a nasty cold/flu bug for the last week and am still not fully better so I will end it here, but I'm sure I'll have more holiday baking recipes to share with you as we get closer to Christmas and I start doing Christmas baking with my girls! I truly hope you've enjoyed this series and found some inspiration for your own holiday celebrations. ***

Hello!

Today in my kitchen, I'm whipping up a double batch of Cranberry Lemon Loaf. I'll pop the loaves in the freezer and take them out Saturday morning to serve the crafty ladies for breakfast. Last year I made several of these and gave them away to neighbours. They were very well received! I might as well make it a tradition and do it again this year.



If you were going to a kid-free, all meals provided, 12 hour craft day... what would you work on? I'm still undecided. I have several UFO's (partially finished quilts, purses, scarves, afghans, etc!), but it seems like a lot more fun to start yet another new project! The simplest thing would be to work on my Little Birdie Stitches quilt. It's already packed up conveniently in a container and ready to go.



Cranberry Lemon Loaf

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
Juice of 2 lemons and water to make 1 1/2 cups

4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Grated zest of 2 lemons
3 cups fresh, chopped cranberries

Combine butter, sugars and eggs in mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in juice/water.

In second bowl, measure flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in lemon zest and cranberries. Add to batter, stirring just until moistened. Scrape into greased loaf pans. I used 2 large loaf pans and one small and filled them each just over half full.

Bake in 350° oven for 1 hour. Test with toothpick. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on wire rack.



Now don't you wish you were coming to the craft day on Saturday? There's still one more spot available!




~Cindy

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days of Holiday Baking - Day 19 :: Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Sauce

This came out of the oven before 7:30 this morning! I thought I might as well get busy bright and early so I could cross some things off my to do list! With this one recipe I made a bundt cake and 24 cupcakes! The cupcakes will be frosted with cream cheese icing for the craft day this weekend (They're in the freezer until then! Don't worry, I am anti-mould). I even used real, live, fresh pumpkins in this!

Tonight I served my family some of the bundt cake with a little smudge of homemade dark caramel sauce and a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream. The pumpkin cake recipe was given to me by my sister-in-law Janet just after I married her brother.

So, onto the recipe! It's a very moist and tasty cake. Please put the leftovers in the fridge/freezer as pumpkin baking tends to mould quickly if left out.

Pumpkin Cake 

1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups pumpkin purée
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all cake ingredients until smooth. Pour into 9"x13" pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° F for 40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack.

This recipe makes excellent cupcakes, too!
I frosted these with spiced cream cheese frosting.
Yum.
Caramel Sauce (a Michael Smith recipe)

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla

Pour the water into a saucepan then pour the sugar in a pile in the middle of the water. Turn the heat to medium-high heat and begin cooking without stirring. The sugar will dissolve in the water and begin to boil. The water will evaporate, leaving behind a pure sugar syrup that will then begin to rise in temperature, past the boiling point of water, and into the flavour zone.

When the sugar begins to lightly brown here and there, gently swirl the pan until all of the sugar is a deep golden brown. Don't get distracted by facebook at this point or it could get a little too darkCarefully pour in the cream and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Cool until thickened or serve hot!


~Cindy
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Pinterest Popsicle Sticks

Inspired by Pinterest.
Hello!

Who knew that playing with popsicle sticks could be so fun?! (Other than the multiple glue gun burns, that is). As part of our crafty weekend last weekend, my sister, my girls and I made these (and more!) snowflakes and tree. Yes, popsicle sticks are generally for kids, but these were so fun! I wouldn't let the kids use the glue gun because it's just too stinkin' hot, so they used regular white glue, which did not work as well due to the drying time. We used a canning jar lid for the center of the snowflakes and painted the entire thing - both sides and then sprinkled with glitter while the paint was still wet. When I said I was ready for Christmas, I wasn't kidding! I'm baking up all the pumpkins in the house just to move on from the fall decorations and it's not even Halloween yet!

The next step for the popsicle stick tree is to make little boxes and hang them with ribbon... click through to the link below the  pic to see what I'm talking about.

We also made popsicle stick bracelets by boiling the jumbo sticks in water for an hour and then bending them and shoving them into jars. We let them dry overnight and then painted them the next day. I can't find them to take pics, though!! Here's where we got the idea.

Inspired by Pinterest.

Have a good day! I'm sure I'll be back in awhile with a recipe or two.

~Cindy
.....................................................................................
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 Days of Holiday Baking - Day 18 :: Semi-Sweet Chocolate Brownies

Hello!

This week's been a little busy, but in a good way! There's lots of baking, shopping and cooking going on in preparation for a 12 hour craft event this weekend! The recipe for these yummy brownies came off the box of Baker's Chocolate.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Brownies
1 pkg. (8 squares) Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
1/2 cup  butter
2/3 cup sugar
2  eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup  flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 6 of the chocolate squares and the butter in large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add sugar; mix well. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and pecans until well blended.

Spread into greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.

Bake 22 to 25 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. 

Caramel Fudge
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
1/8 cup whipping cream 
1 cup icing sugar

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the brown sugar and cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, let cool and stir in the icing sugar. Beat with wooden spoon until smooth.

Pure Chocolate Drizzle

Melt remaining 2 chocolate squares as directed on package. Drizzle over dessert; let stand until firm. 

Tips:
-Put the melted chocolate in a piping bag or ziplock bag with the corner cut off before drizzling it over the iced brownies.
-Use parchment paper to line your pan before baking. Not only does it leave you with a perfectly clean pan, but it also allows you to easy and neatly get the brownies out of the pan! 
-This caramel fudge recipe is the same one I used on the Caramel Apple Brownies, the Pear Mini Cupcakes and I also used it as a dip for apples. As you can see, it's very versatile! 

 ~Cindy

5 Simple Solutions to Organize Your Ink Pads, Ribbon, and Punches!


Butter Chicken with Lisa

Lisa, standing guard over the butter chicken.

We started out with the Better Butter Chicken recipe by Greta and Janet Podleski from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, but very quickly got way off track due to the lack of low fat ingredients, and other essentials. And yet, I will make it my way next time, too!


6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
Lawry Salt, Pepper
3 tbsp olive oil


2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves minced garlic
1.5 tbsp grated gingerroot
1.5 tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tbsp peanut butter

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, drained, puréed 


1.5 cups turkey stock from the freezer


Cook cubed chicken in a large frying pan with olive oil until nicely browned and cooked through. In a separate saucepan add the next bunch of ingredients. Cook until bubbly then add sauce to the cooked chicken in the frying pan. Throw in the turkey stock and bring to a boil. Simmer with the lid off until the sauce has reduced to a nice, thickened consistency. Serve with rice.


~Cindy

Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Days of Holiday Baking - Day 17 :: Comforting Peach Crisp

Good Morning!

It's Monday and another beautiful fall day here. Perfectly sunny... a nice day for a walk. Are you looking for a yummy, fall week night dessert for your family? Here's what just came out of the oven here...

Comforting Peach Crisp


3 fresh peaches
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cold butter
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Blanch the peaches by immersing them in boiling water for 40 seconds and then immediately putting them in a bowl of ice water. Once cool enough to handle, remove the peels with your hands. They will just fall right off. Slice the peaches and place in a small baking dish. I like to use this small baking stone from Pampered Chef.

In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients with a pastry blender until the butter is nicely chopped into little bits and evenly distributed.

Sprinkle mixture over peaches and pack down firmly. Bake at 350° for approx 35 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

~Cindy













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Sunday, October 16, 2011

31 Days of Holiday Baking - Day 16 :: DIY Stencilled Drop Cloth Gift Bags

Hello!

How was your weekend? Ours was busy, creative, sunny and fun. All in all, a great weekend! Today I thought I'd share a little tutorial about how to make a cute stencilled gift bag out of canvas painter's drop cloth and jute. I made 25 of these and filled them with fun goodies for an upcoming ladies event, but you could just as easily fill them with Christmas cookies or, if you're in the USA you could make these as Thanksgiving party favours and put a few slices of Caramel Apple Brownie or some Poppycock in them to send home with your dinner guests.

There are many more elaborate ways to make bags from drop cloth, but this is a quick, simple method that is ideal if you want to make a lot of them.

Step by Step:

1. Cut a piece of drop cloth 7" x 14".
2. Fold in half. Folded it will measure 7" x 7".
3. Sew up the long sides, leaving the top open.
4. Turn right side out.
5. Leave the top edge raw (not sewed).
6. Place the stencil wherever you want it on the bag.
7. Dip a round Martha Stewart stencilling paint brush black acrylic paint.
8. Wipe excess paint off on a scrap of drop cloth or newspaper.
9. Pounce the paint brush up and down over the stencil to create a soft and slightly smudgy looking image.
10. Fill your cute gift bag with treats and tie with jute. Finish it off with a stamped tag! If you're putting food in the bags, I'd recommend first wrapping them in plastic wrap or a ziplock bag.
11. And, just for fun, make some out of burlap, too!

Happy Crafting!

~Cindy
.....................................................................................
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  UndertheTableandDreaming
 

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

31 Days of Holiday Baking - Day 15 :: Heaven on a Baguette

Hello!


I hope you're enjoying as lovely a weekend as we are! My sister is here (yayyy!) and we're spending lots of time crafting, cooking and enjoying the sunshine. Today, I thought I'd share a quick, easy, but TO DIE FOR appetizer recipe! It's perfect to take along to a Christmas party or to add to your New Year's Eve appy buffet. I'm calling it Heaven on a Baguette because that's what I thought when I bit into it. It's that good!






Heaven on a Baguette (Smoked Salmon Spread)


2 cups smoked spring salmon
1/2 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise (or more if it's too dry)
4 oz. cream cheese
1 tbsp Epicure Selections Lemon Dilly Dip mix
1 tsp lemon juice


Combine all ingredients gently with a wooden spoon. Serve on baguettes (either toasted or not), or crackers.


~Cindy
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5 Simple Solutions to Organize Your Ink Pads, Ribbon, and Punches!
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Linked to LifeinGrace Christmas Cheer Appetizers Link Party

Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Days of Holiday Baking - Day 14 :: Pumpkin Patch to Pie

Good Morning!


Have you ever wondered how to take a glorious pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and make it into a pie? I'll take the mystery out of it for you in three words: bake. purée. sieve. Why would you do it yourself when you can buy it in a can? A couple reasons! 1) It tastes fresher and much better. 2) It's way cheaper. I purchased Sugar Pie Pumpkins from Wisbey Veggies for only $1 each and each one makes about the equivalent of 1.5 large cans that you'd buy in the store. The last time I looked at cans of pumpkin they were $3.59 each!

When you're buying pumpkins for eating, the smaller the better. Ask at the veggie stand or pumpkin patch which pumpkins are for pies and they'll be able to tell you. The ginormous ones are generally grown for decorating and the small darker orange ones are better for eating. 


The how to:

  1. Wash all the dirt off your pumpkins.
  2. Cut them in quarters.
  3. Remove all the stringy stuff and seeds. Save the seeds for roasting.
  4. Put the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet (with sides as there could be quite a bit of liquid!).
  5. Cover with tin foil and bake at 375° for about an hour and a half or until the pumpkin is very tender.
  6. Cool.
  7. Purée with a food processor or food mill.
  8. Push it through a sieve to ensure it is completely smooth and lump free.
  9. Another tip suggested by Susan is:  put a cheese cloth in a collander and put the cooked and puréed pumpkin in that and set it over a pot. Let the excess liquid drip overnight. When you let that extra water drip out it is closer to the canned pumpkin and you can substitute in canned pumpkin recipes.
  10. Use in recipes that call for pure pumpkin!
  11. Freeze in measured out portions in freezer bags or plastic containers.
A few recipes to try:





This circa 1994 Costco TV cabinet was looking
tired, worn and let's face it, hideous! I gave it a
fresh coat of Sherwin Williams Halcyon Green
paint and it's as good as new!
Our favourite pumpkin patch!
Pumpkin Scones
Pumpkin Pie - this can also be made in store bought or homemade tart shells or even in mini canning jars like we did for Thanksgiving.



While you're being all domestic, why not plan to fill your freezer with turkey stock the next time you cook a turkey? I did that the other day with the Thanksgiving turkey carcass! I'm going to use some of that stock in my Christmas gravy. Yum. If you're not into cooking turkeys, you can make stock out of a rotisserie chicken carcass. 


I'd love to know if you give pumpkin puréeing a try and how it turns out!









~Cindy 
.....................................................................................
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