Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I started scrapbooking many moons ago, long before there were entire rows of embellishments at craft stores. Not to date myself, but back in the day you actually had to use scraps to scrapbook - wrappers from candy, random bits of paper, etc. Since my son was born, I haven't scrapped much, although that hasn't stopped me from buying supplies - much to the chagrin of my husband, who says it's ok to buy the stuff as long as I am going to use it. Trust me, it never got used.
Recently, however, I have gotten back into it. I am back to scrapping my wedding pictures, and my son's baby pictures. Needless to say, I have been buying even more supplies, and to my husband, the only way to justify this is with results - meaning completed pages.
Thanks to my friend Ana (who's blog you should check out if you like to scrapbook), I have been introduced to the world of scrapbook blogs, all of which are filled with a wealth of information. One of which is Sketchy Thursdays. Each Thursday they post a sketch and invite people to show their work.
So for the first time, I made a page based on a sketch. It's far from perfect, but I am working on making better layouts.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meal Plan for the Week

A friend was asking around for some ideas on meal planning, so I shared mine as an example for the week.
I am going to paste the message I sent her so if any of you need ideas, you can steal it!
Here you go:
I usually do my shopping on Thursdays, after the ads come out on Wednesday. I also clean out my fridge on Wednesdays, so I am ready to re-stock it.
Here is my plan for the week. Try to keep a well stocked pantry with staples like chicken stock, canned diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and seasonings, it will make it easier and you can stock up when things are on sale.

Monday: Pesto pasta with chicken - just cook the pasta, toss in store bought pesto (or if you make your own, whatever), bake some chicken breasts and slice them, then toss them in.
Tuesday: Tacos. I usually use chicken, with rice - I cook some brown rice and toss in a can of Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles, and cilantro
Wednesday: Black bean whole wheat quesadillas: Whole wheat tortillas, a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, then smashed with a fork or potato masher, some part skim shredded cheese, fresh cilantro, and whatever else you want, then cook in a nonstick skillet and slice with a pizza wheel.
Thursday: Balsamic chicken with spinach
Friday: Salmon or Halibut cooked in parchment with some sliced squash and zuchinni and lemon (it all cooks together in the parchment), and sauteed spinach with shallots
Saturday: Chicken Saltimbocca - easier than it sounds, and inexpensive, since you only need 6 slices of Proscuitto sliced paper thin:
Sunday: Appetizers and pizza - for the Super bowl, we will just snack all day.

Now, on a normal week I give myself a free day, or a super easy way out meal, something frozen, or something I can do in the crock pot. And sometimes things end up getting switched around depending on how much time I have or whether or not I feel like making a big meal. I also buy a big container of field greens so we can have salad, and I make a quick vinaigrette to go with it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Making Dinner Easy - Prep Now, Save Time later

If you are anything like me, you love to cook, but by the time dinner rolls around, you are tuckered out and not in the mood for the prep, cooking, and dishes to wash. I cook most of my meals from scratch, and have a few tips on how to make the task more manageable. First, I do a weekly meal plan. This way, I only have to think about what I am making once a week, and I never buy more than I need at the grocery store. This was born out of necessity after one too many $200.00 trips to the grocery store, only to find I had nothing to eat.
Also, I prep in advance. I have to do my dishes by hand, and this can become a monumental task if I do them all at once. I am the type of person who eats, and is done for the day - as much as I try to force myself to do the dishes promptly after dinner so I can wake up to a clean kitchen, it never happens. Instead, I generally wake up and stumble to get my coffee, shoving dishes out of the way in a kitchen so messy and full of pots and pans that it looks like the contestants of Top Chef just completed a quickfire challenge in there.
So my solution has become prepping/cooking in the morning or during nap time, so everything is ready to go for dinner with minimal clean-up. I am far more motivated to wash the dishes I use during the day than I am at 7:00 at night, and it helps me to get dinner on the table in a more timely manner, rather than underestimating the prep time of a meal and having it take 2 hours.
You can cut your veggies far in advance, stored in plastic bags or containers for meals you are making that week, wash your produce when you get it home from the store, check your meal plan so you can pull your meats from the freezer to thaw, etc.
For instance, today I am making chicken alfredo for dinner. So this morning I roasted and cut up the chicken. Now at dinner, I only have to throw pasta in a pot and make the sauce. If I am making tacos, I roast or poach the chicken, then shred it and toss it in the fridge. That way, at dinnertime I only have to re-heat it in a pan with the taco seasoning and serve.
For me, it is much easier to find the motivation to do the prep work of cooking at 11am than it is at 5pm, and it makes the dishwashing fly by.
Here's a tip on food safety: If you forget to thaw your meat the night before, and do it in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately to prevent food borne illness. Please do not thaw meats in the microwave and then put them in the refrigerator while they are still raw.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Long Awaited Thank You Cards

So, I finally made them. Don't get too excited - they have yet to be addressed and mailed; however, since today is Sunday and tomorrow is a holiday, I have two days to get it done. Of course I had to go buy new embossing powder, since I am a perfectionist, and of course I ended up using a powder I already had.
I went through several designs, and then ran out of white cardstock. Just as I was about to scrap the whole idea due to not having the perfect paper, I tried it on some ivory cards I had. I loved it! Here is the final design, along with some of the preliminary ones. You can't tell so much from the pics, but the ivory cards have blue embossed snowflakes, and the white have blue/silver embossed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Room I Dread

I finally packed up the Christmas tree and decorations today (yes, I know it is January 12th). If any of you are wondering, no, the thank you cards have not been sent out, since I have once again fallen into my usual trap of waiting to make them by hand. I'll keep you posted on that feat!
I have now decided to turn my attention to the room I dread - the spare room.
It is supposed to be my crafts room, and I tell you what, there are quite a few crafting supplies in there, but by no means is it a craft room. It is the catch all room, and I would like to see if I can get it organized and orderly.
I know, somewhere amongst the clutter lies my beloved Cricut, endless spools of ribbon, embellishments for scrapbooking, and other surprises. Unfortunately, right now it looks like a scene out of the show Hoarders.
The sad part is that this clutter room is in addition to a large storage unit filled with more clutter, and I go back and forth - do I clear out the storage unit, or the clutter room? I need a week and a full time nanny if I want to do both at the same time, not to mention several trips to the dump.
I have decided to take on the craft room, to turn it into a craft haven, all while on a budget.
I'll keep you posted along the road to having a great craft room on a tiny budget.
To begin, this is how it looks now: