Wednesday, January 26, 2011


OK I Thought I Had Not Been Bitten By The Magnolia Bug

I was, however, wrong . . .aren't these sooooo cute?

Week 89 – My Favourite Things: "

This is a Great Tutorial on How to Spray Paint KnickKnacks

I need to gather up all those cute yet ugly things I have around the house and turn them into a more cohesive collection of items I love because of their unifying color.  Great little tutorial linked below.


Why Don't You...Use Tape To Clean Between Computer Keys!

Why Don't You...Use Tape To Clean Between Computer Keys!: "You know all the cookie crumbs dust between the keys of your computer keyboard? Kind of hard to get out of there...Use tape to pull all that stuff out of the crevices!

I read this then looked at my computer and thought ewwww - Jennifer you are brilliant and my computer keyboard thanks you.

Some Great Snack Ideas

GREAT IDEAS FOR HEALTHING SNACKING:  "The thing about unhealthy snack foods, is they generally give a big overload in calories, for a relatively small amount of food. They aren’t satisfying in the long run, so you’re still hungry afterwards. In other words, they are not calories well spent. " WELL SAID  "I don’t know about you, but I prefer to get some “bang for my buck!” So, what’s the secret to snacking smart?

Try to choose snacks which:
  • Are rich in fiber — no white flour foods, for example
  • Provide a little protein
  • Have small amounts of healthy fats — think mono and poly unsaturated over saturated fats
When you balance your carbs with some protein and healthy fat, it helps to slow down the digestive process, and therefore makes your snack more filling and satisfying.

Here are some ideas for snacks under 100 calories

Don’t forget what I said above about balancing carbs with protein and fat for better satiety. For example, some of the snacks are listed as single items, e.g. 1 cup raspberries, but you could balance this out by adding a dollop of natural yogurt, for example.
1. Fruits and Vegetables
An essential choice when you are trying to cut calories, but also want to choose nutrient packed foods…
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup mango chunks
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe melon
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 ounce of raisins
  • 1 small apple with 1 teaspoon natural nut butter
  • 1 cup broccoli with 1 tablespoon of hummus
  • 1/2 a small avocado
  • 1 cup of mixed salad leaves with 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinaigrette
  • Celery sticks with 2 teaspoons of natural nut butter
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas or corn
2. Dairy
Dairy foods are helpful when dieting for increasing your level of satiety. Studies have actually shown that people with higher intakes of dairy calcium showed greater excretion of fat in the feces, compared to diets which were lower in calcium.
So, a small amount of dairy can be helpful for weight loss…
  • 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese with 1/3 cup pineapple cubes
  • Small pot of low fat natural yogurt
  • 1/2 cup green smoothie (e.g. baby spinach leaves, low fat yogurt, fruit)
  • 1 ounce of reduced fat cheddar
3. Savory
Instead of reaching for potato chips when you feel hungry, here are some options that will not only remove hunger pants, but also boost your nutrient profile…
  • 1/2 ounce almonds
  • 1/2 ounce mixed nuts
  • 1/4 cup seeds
  • 2 cups air popped popcorn seasoned with herbs
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 2 slices extra lean ham, sliced baby tomatoes, rolled in lettuce leaves
  • 1 ounce smoked salmon with small amount of reduced fat cream cheese
  • Celery sticks eaten with 1 ounce tuna and 1 tablespoon of natural yogurt
4. Something Hot
Sometimes a hot snack can seem like a treat when it feels like you’ve been eating salad for the last 6 months. Here are some healthy options…
  • 1/2 cup cooked oats
  • 1 cup vegetable soup
  • 1/2 cup cooked millet
  • 1 cup of hot cocoa eaten with one small apple — weird, but satisfying!"
I hope to find some more recommendations that I can add to this entry.  As I try things and don't like them, I will remove them.  Many of these are offbeat enough in terms of what I normally think of as a snack that I think I will find them satisfying with the end result of feeding my body better.  Win Win.


Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken

Is it a keeper?
YES! This recipe is very easy and very good!  I mixed the ingredients to the sauce together earlier in the week and stored them in the fridge.  Then when I was ready to make the dish, I just added it to the slow cooker.  I love dished that I can pre-assemble a few days in advance!
I served the chicken and the sweet Asian inspired sauce over brown rice with a side of broccoli.  I will definitely be making this again.  And again.  And again!
If you end up trying this recipe (which I highly recommend you do!) post your results here!  I would love to hear how you made out!

Mini Macaroni and Cheese You Can Freeze

Macaroni & Cheese Bites
Makes 4 ~ (12 cup) Mini-Muffin Tins
* 1/2 Pound Elbow Macaroni
* 1  1/2 Tablespoons  butter (extra for muffin tins)
* 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
*2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup milk or evaporated milk
*A few shakes of Tabasco sauce
*1  1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese sheredded
*1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese
* 1 large egg yolk
* 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
* 1/8 teaspoon Dry Mustard
Oven: 425*
Cook and drain pasta.
Spread mini muffin tins with softened butter then sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. (shake off extra cheese)
In a big saucepan melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and whisk in flour over med. heat. Whisking for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cook, continuing to whisk until boiling (about 5 minutes). Add the Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheeses and whisk until melted. Take off the heat and whisk in the egg yolk, Nutmeg and Mustard.
Fold in the macaroni.
Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of macaroni into prepared muffin cups. Pack them gently. Sprinkle more Parmesan on top.
Bake on top and middle third of the oven until browned. (About 10 minutes)
Let them cool a few minutes then use a spoon a carefully loosen the bite-size minis!
You’ll notice this mac and cheese is a little thicker than usual but it helps when you’re putting it into the tins.
Don’t forget to press the pasta before you bake!
The Parmesan Cheese sprinkled inside the muffing tins and on top gives them the best texture…almost crunchy.
You can just pick ‘em up and pop one into your mouth…yum.

Margaret's Hope Chest

I like the way this pattern looks in the black, white and purple.

Margaret's Hope Chest: "

I was connected to Margaret's Hope Chest through Amanda Jean's retreat last summer. I am so impressed with the mission of the organization and the two women who run it. Carin and Carol are just the sweetest people ever and it is so inspiring to see how they have turned a family tragedy into an organization that helps so many people in need.

Alexia's Birthday Quilt

Here are the two quilts that I've donated. This is the second year of their Wrapped in Hope campaign, which gives personalized birthday quilts to children who have parents who are in prison. I made this quilt for Alexia who likes black, white, blue, purple and music. I used this pattern from a quilt I made a few years ago in the color scheme she requested and added some Alexander Henry music fabric for the binding.

binding detail

I finished up this quilt in November after having completed the top at the summer retreat. The pattern I used is the Fair and Square pattern that Amanda Jean designed for Margaret's Hope Chest.

Fair and Square

If you're looking for a great charity to donate to and have extra time to make a quilt, please consider making a quilt for MHC. You can find a list of children who have requested birthday quilts here.


Triangles in a Square Quilt

Triangles in a Square Quilt: "

I'm taking a few vacation days from work here and there to work on projects and school work. It's been nice to get out of the office for a while, and it's even nicer to finish up some loose ends around here.

On Friday I quilted and sewed the binding on my triangle quilt. I don't normally do straight line quilting because accuracy is not my forte. Even though the lines are crooked and not all that parallel, I really love how the diamonds on this are all puffy.

This quilt is going in our living room on the couch. Since everything in our house is either green, blue or brown...this quilt is perfect for our house!

Here are the details:

Original pre-cut block size:

8" x 8"

Four yards of fabric in four different colors are needed (1 yard each color). You will be able to cut 20 blocks from each color.

Then, the 8" blocks are cut in half on the diagonal (40 triangles of each color).

Sew the triangles together to opposing colors. You will have 80 blocks total. Arrange the blocks in 8 columns and ten rows and sew together.

Binding (for 2.5" strips): 1/2 yard

Backing: 4 yards

The quilt is 54" x 68"


Hugs & Kisses

Hugs & Kisses: "
Hey there. I have another VSN mini project to share. This challenge was to use entwined images, so my first thought was to grab these cuddly koalas from Melanie's Cuddles and Hugs stamp set.

I stamped the koalas with Memento Tuxedo Black in and colored with Copic markers, starting with N7 where I wanted the deepest shading.

Added N5.

Added N3.

Then I filled in with N1.

I used my blender pen to push in some highlights.

Used N3 and N5 to make some lines for fur. I kept adding lines, then blending them in, and adding more to give it depth. After coloring, I cut out the image.

For the background, I cut an oval from Pure Luxury Sweet Corn card stock, using my Oval Nestabilities. I used a 1 1/4 inch circle, adhered with re-positionable tape, to mask for the sun. Then I sponged Memento Tangelo.

Removed the mask and stamped the leafy branch, from Hope Grows, using Memento Bamboo Leaves.

I layered with Pure Luxury Tan Leather and used a Sweet Corn card base. The sentiment is from Hope Grows.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great day!


An Ink Catalog

OKAY, SERIOUSLY why didn't I think of this?  I don't like the copic sheet that I have for anything other than when I am going to purchase something and I haven't figured out how to keep track of the SU inks I have.  This will work.  Follow the link to Spotted Canary for this and other great ideas.

An ink catalog is simply a visual display of ink colors one owns, placed in an easy-to-manage-and-use format. And it’s a snap to make!

Let’s go through the steps to creating your own:

  1. Purchase your “housing.” the structure that will hold your ink information. I bought a small, 3-ring binder. I liked this option best because I can use white cardstock for the pages, giving me a true representation of ink color with the paper I usually use for projects. The binder option also lets me manage my pages easily and you can add more if needed.
  2. Create your pages. Create labels to name the color of each page or section.
  3. Fill in your pages. Select a color family and gather the appropriate inks. Using a small, solid image, ink and stamp each color onto the page. I inked once and stamped twice, recording what each color’s 1st and 2nd generation shade is.
    Ink Catalog - Image 1

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Clutter Control for Any Space

Clutter Control for Any Space: "

Post written by Zen Family Habits contributor Mandi from Organizing Your Way.

I could probably write a post every day of the year on how to control clutter in this area or that space, and we still wouldn’t be able to cover every scenario or trouble spot. Instead of trying to cover them all, I want to share with you four secrets for battling clutter in any space:


The first step to conquering clutter in any room of your house is to declutter the space. Having too much stuff inevitably leads to clutter, and it will undercut your best efforts at clearing surfaces and getting organized. This is a hard step to take, but it’s important to take an honest look at the stuff around you and begin to get rid of clutter.

You’ve probably heard this method before, but the easiest way to get started is to take three bags, bins or boxes and label them Keep, Give Away and Trash. Sorting through the clutter will involve some tough decisions, but keep your final goal in mind, knowing that the less stuff you have, the easier it will be to keep surfaces and spaces clutter free.

Here are some additional resources to help you make those decisions:


Once you have decluttered the space, begin to identify the clutter. Are there stacks of paper waiting for you to take action on them? Are there toys and games that don’t have a home in a certain room even though that’s where they often get played with? Piles of laundry waiting to be taken to the laundry room?

Identifying the types of clutter that you battle on a regular basis is an important step to being able to control it. Once you identify what it is, where it comes from and where it eventually ends up, you’re in a much better place to control it.


Ask any organized person, and chances are they’ll tell you how much they love two things: containers and labels. Using containers to group like items is a simple and effective way to control clutter because it keeps things from getting spread out all over the place.

Aby from Simplify 101 recently shared another tip with me related to containers as well. She recommends that her clients use open top containers wherever possible because you’re much more likely to actually use them if you can just toss things in rather than having to pull containers out, open them, put things away and then put the box away. Of course, for things you use less often, a closed container works as well.

Next, be sure to label your containers so that you can find the things you’ve organized. While I love my handy Brother labeler, there are a ton of labeling options depending on your needs, including:

Touch It Once

Finally, once you’ve gotten the clutter cleaned up, it’s important to have a plan in place to keep the area clutter free. One way to do this is with the touch-it-once rule. Most clutter forms when we set something down because we don’t know what to do with it or don’t feel like dealing with it at that moment.

Instead of falling into this trap, commit to taking each item to its home right away. When you get the urge to set something down and deal with it later, think through what obstacles are in the way of putting it away right away.

  • Does it have a home, or do you need to create a home for it?

  • Is it something you need to access later, so you need a temporary spot for it?

  • Are you setting it down to remind yourself of something later?

  • Is it hard to put away?

Create temporary zones — such as an inbox for mail, bills and other important paperwork – for the items you need to hold onto as a reminder, and reorganize trouble spots so that it’s easy to get and put away the items you use most often.

Clutter contributes to stress, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, and while the idea of tackling the clutter can be overwhelming as well, the benefits are well worth the effort!

Read more about productivity, organizing and home management from Mandi at Organizing Your Way, or follow her on Twitter.

3 Ways to Optimize Your Health and Well-being

3 Ways to Optimize Your Health and Well-being: "

Post written by Zen Family Habits contributor Melanie from Dietriffic.

Life can get pretty busy at times, and sometimes our health begins to suffer as a result.

But, as parents we are duty bound to look after our own health, just as much as we are to look after our children’s health. After all, if your health begins to suffer, who will be there for your children, giving them the care that only you can?

We all know that what we eat on a consistent basis has a huge impact on our health. But, often when life gets busy, it’s our healthy eating habits that get pushed to the bottom of that ever increasing to-do list.

So, what areas do you need to focus on for optimal health and well-being?

#1 Strong Bones

People seem to forget about bone health, once they get past their teens. However, you are still building bone mass into your 30s. This means, if you are pre-30′s, there’s still time to boost your bone strength.

A calcium-rich diet is recommended for both men and women. Good calcium sources include plain yogurt, milk, calcium-fortified soy milk, cheddar cheese. Some non-dairy sources include Chinese cabbage, kale, broccoli, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

Weight-bearing exercises are also necessary for increasing your bone density, and reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life. Think, walking, jogging, and step aerobics, etc.

Vitamin D is essential, too, otherwise the calcium in your diet is basically irrelevant. Try to eat oily fish and eggs regularly. Other sources include fortified margarine, and breakfast cereals. Or course, short periods in the sunlight are also important for synthesizing vitamin D in the skin.

If you are over 30 years of age, don’t worry, you can make changes in your lifestyle that will help slow the process of bone loss — all of the above are also relevant for you too.

#2 Fight Fatigue

Fatigue hits us all at times, as we try to juggle work, relationships, and our children. But, sometimes, that fatigue stems from low iron stores, particularly prevalent among women in their 20s and 30s, who don’t eat much meat.

The best sources of iron come from animal protein, such as liver (not if you are pregnant), meats, or chicken, however you can also get iron from plant sources. To aid the absorption from these plant foods, eat them with a vitamin C source, such as orange juice, red peppers, or strawberries.

Non animal sources of iron include beans, nuts, dried apricots, brown rice, fortified breakfast cereals, and most dark green leafy vegetables (such as curly kale).

Be aware that tea and coffee contain polyphenols which can bind to iron, making it difficult for your body to absorb. So, avoid drinking tea and coffee during, and around, your mealtimes.

#3 Lose Weight

Being overweight obviously puts you at an increased risk of health problems. Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick that will help you to lose weight overnight. But, weight gain doesn’t have to be an inevitable fact of life, as we grow older.

It’s true, metabolism does slow downs and you start to lose muscle mass as you get older. But, taking some exercise, and reducing your calorie intake can go a long way to offsetting that.

If you are eating the same, or more, than what you did in your 20s, you probably need to cut back. Take a look at your dinner plate proportions — you should fill one half with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter with lean meats or alternatives, and one quarter with starchy carbs. This is an easy way to control your food portions.

Fiber is also important, as it will help you to feel fuller for longer, which means you take in fewer calories over the course of one day. Some of the best sources of fiber include peas, beans and lentils, fruit eaten with the skin on, berries, high fiber breakfast cereals, and nuts such as almonds.

When you eat well, you feel well. That ultimately means you’ll be able to cope with whatever life has to throw at you… even those tantrums from your two year old!

Read more healthy eating tips from Melanie on her blog Dietriffic, or follow her on Twitter.


The Blind Side Movie Deal

The Blind Side Movie Deal: "

Did you know that you can purchase The Blind Side for only $5.49 at Amazon? (I have Amazon Prime so I don’t have to pay shipping, but if you don’t, it qualifies for Super Saver shipping if you order over $25.) This is a great family movie and a wonderful item to add to your gift closet.

I also keep an eye out for inexpensive movies to keep on hand for our summer vacation travel. I pick them up as I find them and hide them away in the van for viewing this summer.

The Blind Side


Friday, January 21, 2011

12/20 Word Play with a Heart

12/20 Word Play with a Heart: "

Is anyone else just a little busy? Where did all my fun stampin' time go?? I will have to delve into some things I haven't had a chance to post yet. Enjoy!

This is a card that I gave to my brand new Senior Associate at my last downline meeting. The sentiment is stamped with Versa Mark ink and embossed using the Heat Tool with White Embossing powder. I used the same technique on the heart on a scrap of Real Red which I then cut out and popped up onto the card with dimensionals. A simple ribbon tied around the card gives this card the perfect finishing touch.

The inside of the card is left blank with the exception of the lower left corner where I stamped the heart in Real Red ink. So sweet and pretty. This is a nice card that can work for many different occasions.

Have a happy stamping day!!

The Stampin'Up! supplies that I used to create this card are listed below:

Stamps: Word Play, I {Heart} Hearts
Paper: Real Red, Whisper White
Ink: Versa Mark, Real Red
Tools: Heat Tool
Accessories: 5/8' Whisper White Organza Ribbon, White Embossing Powder
Adhesives: SNAIL, Stampin' Dimensionals

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Kay Kalthoff is a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator in Lino Lakes, Minnesota stamping, caring and sharing with customers and demonstrators locally and nationally!