Monday, February 28, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Herbed Cheese Spread

I think my favorite herb is marjoram.  I hadn't ever tried it until I found a recipe I wanted to try that had marjoram in it.  I decided to bite the bullet and get some.  It was love at first taste.  I also love cream cheese spreads so this recipe was perfect for me.  Serve it on crackers or melt 1/2 batch of it into 2-3 cups cooked green beans.  Yummy!

Herbed Cheese Spread

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon each: basil, dill, marjoram, thyme, black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process till smooth. (I just mash it with a fork until it's mixed thoroughly.)  Serve on crackers or raw veggies.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Determined Bear

I don't know who took these or where- my sis-in-law emailed them to me...

I have only two questions:
1. What was in that bird feeder that the bear wanted so badly?
2. What the heck was that line made of?


Friday, February 25, 2011

Will it ever stop!?!?

Okay, we live in the mountains, so we expect a fair amount (ok, a lot) of snow here in Teton Valley.  But this year it has gone beyond a lot of snow.

This is my oldest daughter (she's 5'8") standing in front of the tallest drift in our yard.  It's right in the corner of the sidewalk so I couldn't get any farther away from her to get a better perspective.  It goes right up to her shoulder.

It's also up to the hood of the Suburban.  This drift is actually a lot closer to the car than it looks here.

Here's Kjeri standing on the trampoline.  You can barely see the outline of it in the snow.

The swing set.  All of the swings were buried months ago but now the slide is gone as well.  That fence back there is a little higher than my waist and it's about gone too.  The part down in front is the rail of the deck and it's pretty much buried as well.

And... it's STILL SNOWING!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quote of the Week- Pride and Prejudice

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters. 
So begins the infamous work by Jane Austen and so begins my (hopefully) weekly feature where I share some of my favorite quotes from some of my favorite books and authors.

Share some of yours in the comments below...


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

PCC Challenge

They've got the February challenge up over at Polymer Clay Central and I've entered something again.  There are a ton of great projects! So, head on over there and vote.

Awesome Etsy Artists!

International Friendship Week ends today and in honor of this, I created a friendship-themed Etsy treasury:


Monday, February 21, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Blueberry Wedding Cake

Okay, I know I was really bad about blogging last week but I've been working on a plan and hopefully I will be able to improve from now on.  (By the way, my excuse is that we were out of school all week and I was too busy taking the week off to blog...LOL).

So, the recipe this week is a dessert that I call Blueberry Wedding Cake.  I didn't make up this recipe- someone told me how to do it years ago and I've just never forgotten (not that it's that difficult).  The reason I call it Blueberry Wedding Cake is because that is what we served the guests at our wedding nearly 15 years ago.  FYI, it looks nothing like a wedding cake.  You can also make Cherry Wedding Cake by substituting a can of cherry pie filling for the blueberry.

I don't have a picture of this because it was gone about 10 minutes after I made it last week.  That's what happens when you have 8 people and one cake.

Anyway, enough rambling- here it is:

Blueberry Wedding Cake
1 white cake mix                             1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 8oz cont whipped topping            1 cup powdered sugar
1 can blueberry or cherry pie filling
Make cake according to package directions in 13x16 pan.  Bake and cool.  Beat cream cheese, whipped topping, and powdered sugar together until smooth.  Spread over cooled cake.  Top with pie filling.



P.S. NOT a good recipe for those on a diet!  Although, substituting fat-free neufchatel cheese and whipped topping will help.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spiritual Thought for Sunday: Adversity and Getting Back to the Basics

As you may or may not know, Rock has been unemployed for almost 2 years now.  He was laid off from his last job 1 week before our youngest daughter was born.  It's been quite the struggle.  A little over a year ago we started our own computer repair business in an effort to keep our heads above water financially but it's just not working.  We've been able to pay the rent about half of the months since. We've had to have a lot of help from others.

I'm not telling you this to get sympathy.  One of the speakers in church today was talking about getting back to the basics spiritually.  He said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "When faced with times of adversity, we need to get back to the basics."  I thought about that for a few minutes and realized that is probably exactly what is missing in our family right now.  Rock and I are both struggling with depression, as is our oldest daughter (who is old enough to feel the stress).  A lot of things have seemed to be falling apart for our family lately.

So, I got out the notebook I keep in my scriptures for just such occasions and I made a quick list of the absolutely most basic gospel activities that we need to focus on in our family:

  • Church attendance- It's hard to get up and get going early enough to be on time, especially with a teenage daughter who doesn't want to go at all.  We're going to work on that.
  • Family prayer- It's such a simple little thing that only takes a few minutes but it has been sorely neglected in our house.  It should be easy to get back in the habit if we concentrate.
  • Family scripture reading- I know a lot of families struggle with finding the time for family scripture study but we are together all day every day and we don't have all of the extra stuff that some families do.  Again, we just need to focus on remembering to do it.
  • Last but not least, family home evening- We actually have been doing better at this in recent months.  We have a discussion on a gospel topic during Sunday dinner and then during Monday dinner, we review what we talked about the day before and have a fun activity and, of course, a treat.  The kids beg to do it so it is getting easier.
Anyway, I know that some of you are not LDS (Mormon) but I think that some of these things can be implemented in any family, no matter what your religious beliefs.  I know that doing these things in our house will help strengthen our family bonds and help us endure to the end of this particular trial.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Polymer Clay Studio

So, for some reason, I have this fascination with people's workspaces.  I love to organize stuff but I can't seem to keep it organized.  I also love to see all of the various ways people come up with to organize their stuff.  Someday, I plan on having my garage organized in such a way as to allow me to actually park at least one car in it.  (I have a LOT of stuff.)

Anyway, I decided it was time to show off my studio space- not that there's much to show off.  It's way more functional than attractive.  And, it's constantly evolving.  I'm always rearranging stuff and adding/taking away various decorations.

So here it is from the doorway:
It's not fancy but it's home.  (Well, it's where I spend the bulk of my afternoons anyway.)

 My shipping station.  I got the postal scale at the thrift store for a couple of bucks.  It's all computerized and fancy but I just use it to weigh packages for shipping.  That's part of my food storage holding up the "table."  You can see one of my Christmas decorations waiting to be mended there on the old T.V. stand that is holding up everything else.  And of course, the paper shredder down in front.

Next to all of that is my clay table- or, as it's known to the kids, "the brown craft table."  My clay is organized by color in all of those little white baskets which are organized into an old cardboard shoe holder I got from my grandma.  My work surface is 2 glass panels from an old entertainment center over a fabric cutting mat.

The other half of my clay table.  I mounted some of that foam stuff they use in shipping on the wall to stick anything sharp and/or pointy in for storage.  I keep the computer handy for watching Netflix movies when I'm doing something brainless.  The drawers underneath hold all kinds of stuff related to clay.

A couple of sets of shelves under the window.  On top are various glass and wood things waiting to be covered with clay.  The little drawers are full of canes, and below that are bins with more clay in them.  The right side holds my baking pans, stuff waiting to be baked, more clay, and my box of ribbon (for tying up packages) on the bottom.  The bigger drawers on the right are full of more clay tools and supplies.  That unit just kind of drifts around the room wherever I need it.  I love the big window in my studio.  There's a gorgeous view of the farmland across the street and mountains in the distance.  (Unfortunately, not the Tetons... they're out the other side of the house.)

Here's my bookcase with all of my clay books, surplus school supplies, and other craft stuff I need handy but don't use a whole lot.  (I've got tons more craft stuff in the aforementioned garage.  I've done a bazillion different crafts and I've got a lot of supplies to show for it.  Luckily, we homeschool and much of that stuff is needed at some point or another.)  You can also see the left side of my finishing station.  More on that in the next photo.

So here's where my clay stuff gets "finished."  Sometimes I clear-coat stuff.  Sometimes I sand and buff.  This is also the place where I add the charms to my pens and occasionally assemble jewelry.  The sewing machine stand was my mother-in-law's and eventually will go to one of my girls.  The plaque you can see on the wall above the stand is one I painted when I was working for a ceramic studio after high school.  The lady that owned the shop entered a bunch of my stuff in a state ceramic show (unbeknownst to me) and I won several prizes.  That one recieved a first place and a best of category.  I love it and it doesn't really "fit" anywhere in my house so it's in the studio...

Now for the photography station.  Everything I do for my Etsy shop is fairly small so I can do it in a lightbox.  I prefer to do my photography outside in the lightbox on a sunny day but winters in Idaho are pretty long and seldom sunny.  So this is my setup until the weather warms up.  I seldom use my ironing board for ironing but if I do happen to need it for its intended purpose, it's easy enough to clear off.  The basket underneath currently holds things the kids have broken and need their dad to mend.  He doesn't get to that job very often.  The black box to the left of the lightbox is my entry for the Polymer Clay Central Challenge this month and I didn't want to give it away so that's all the hint you get. :)

This is Rock's personal workspace.  Just the left half of the table.  (It's a mess 'cause I refuse to clean up after him.) Okay, so he can use the whole thing if he wants to but he seldom does any work in here.  I set the table up for him to fix computers on but he mostly does that at the desk in the living room.  So here it sits, usually collecting clutter.  Anyway, I store my shipping boxes and stuff under it and he keeps his tools under there as well.  It's also a place for me to get out my sewing machine when I want to do a quick project or some mending.  The floral arrangement is one I did several years ago to match my living room in another house.  There's no where to hang it in the living room here so once again, in the craft room.

Just two more pictures to go.  I took the corner brackets from some storage shelves (that I lost some of the parts for and can no longer put them together) and mounted them on the wall for holding my "thin" work- you know, ACEOs and such.  I hope to get them full enough that I'll be wondering where to store this stuff while I wait for it to sell...

I also have a pegboard to hang all of my beads, pens and pendants on when they are finished (with more brackets underneath).

Anyway, I hope you got through all of that.  (Maybe there IS such thing as too much information...)  If you didn't, that's okay too.  You can probably tell that I've spent very little on my "organizational supplies."  But that's okay.  It's fun to find something and go, "Wow, I could use that to organize my...!" 


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Weight Loss Plan

Okay, so this is something I've been meaning to blog about for a while now.  I have been struggling with my weight ever since my first daughter was born (14 years ago) and have never made a really serious attempt to lose it.  I've watched my mom try every diet and exercise program in existence for as long as I can remember and she never seemed to me to need to lose much weight.  I didn't want to be like that.  When I got to 200 lbs, I realized that it was probably time I did something about my weight but still didn't really take it seriously. 

Anyway, for Christmas this year Rock got me the Wii Fit Plus and I started using that.  When I realized that I'd finally found an exercise program that would work for me, I finally decided to get serious about my weight loss. 

So, here's what I've been doing (and I've lost 11 pounds in the last month!):
  • First thing in the morning I eat an Access Bar (from Melaleuca- remind me to tell you about this awesome company later...). Since it has to be eaten on an empty stomach, I'll eat breakfast later.   These bars are awesome!  The first 30 minutes that you work out, you are burning sugar; after that you start to burn fat.  That's why you get a "second wind" after about half an hour.  The Access Bar gets you burning fat right away if you eat it on an empty stomach and it will keep working for 2 hours.  (Anyway, that's what the company claims and I can tell you that if nothing else, it gives me a lot more energy to work out.)
  • I check my email while I wait for the bar to kick in (about 15 minutes) and then I go turn on the Wii Fit.  I workout on various games there until the clock hits about 30 minutes (which actually takes about 40 minutes for load times and stuff). 
  • Then I switch over to the "Dance on Broadway" game that I also got for Christmas.  This isn't a workout game but it works that way anyway.  You just follow the dancers on the screen with the Wiimote in your hand and you get a score based on how well you follow.  It's fun and it gets me moving.
  • After that, I usually do a few yoga poses and some crunches to get some of those areas that may have been missed by all of the other jumping around I just did.
  • For breakfast, I have a SlimFast shake.  I know a lot of people say they couldn't live on shakes but I really hate breakfast so with this I'm actually adding a meal to my day.  Otherwise, I would just skip breakfast. 
  • For lunch I eat a Special K meal bar (they're cheaper than the SlimFast ones) and a handful of Baked Lays or a couple of crackers with some cheese slices.  I've got to have something to break up all of that sweet stuff and the crackers or chips seem to do the job.  You'd think I'd be hungry after so little food but I'm really not.
  • At dinner, I just eat whatever I've planned on the menu- and I don't always cook healthy.  I like to cook what my family likes so it's seldom super low-fat or anything.  Not that it's all fried stuff or anything (as a matter of fact, I almost never fry anything)- it's just good food.
  • I've found I can even eat ice cream or regular potato chips and stuff after dinner as long as it's not too much or too late or every night.
Anyway, as I said before, I've actually found (created) a program that works for me.  I've always believed that all of those weird diets where you can only eat certain things or you had to take a ton of pills had something wrong with them.  It seems to me that unless there's an underlying physical or emotional/mental problem, eating moderately healthy (and avoiding too many chemicals in food) and exercising should do the trick.  I'm not an expert and I don't claim to be but that just seems logical to me.  If it doesn't work after some serious effort, then maybe more drastic measures need to be taken.

I hope I don't offend anyone with my comments and opinions, I don't mean to...  Just want to share my thoughts on the subject.

I read somewhere that telling others your weight changes kind of makes you more accountable and want to work harder.  So here it is:  I am 35 years old and I weigh 232 lbs.  My ultimate goal is to get to 136 lbs but I'd like to get down to 200 by the end of the summer.  If you'd like to follow my progress, I will be posting my weight loss once a month in the right-hand side near the bottom of my blog.

Share your goals and progress in the comments below.  We can support and encourage each other.

Good luck!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Polymer Clay Enthusiasts

Hi all,

Just doing a little promotion for my Etsy polyclay team.  If you'd like to see some really great polymer clay works, just head on over to the Polymer Clay Enthusiasts blog and take a look.  (Clicking on a photo will take you to the Etsy shop the item is listed in.)

If you like what you see, spread the word on your social networking pages...

Thanks a bunch!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Polymer Clay Valentine's Magnet Tutorial #3

This is the third and final tutorial for my Valentine's Day magnets.  You can see the first one here and the second one here.  I think this one is my favorite and it was the most fun to make.  I love using texture in my clay work but for some reason, I don't use it very often.

Anyway, here goes:

Valentine's Cut-Out Heart Magnet
Supplies Needed:
gold metallic clay
pink clay
gold metallic powder
iridescent glitter

Tools Needed:
pasta machine
tissue blade
small heart cutter
ripple texture sheet
basketweave texture sheet
stamp with the word "love"
     or blunt needle tool

Step 1: Prepare your elements.
Condition your gold clay.  Run it through the pasta machine, fold in half and run it through again several times to align the mica particles.  Rip your sheet of clay into a bunch of little pieces and pile them on your  work surface:

Condense your pile of clay pieces and mash it until you can put it through the pasta machine.   

 Run it through the pasta machine on a medium-thin setting. (The tearing and mashing should have made a cool random mica shift design in your clay.)  Cut out a 1 1/2 inch square.

Cut a heart out of the center of your square.  (Turn the cutter a little so it's not perfectly symmetrical.)

 Now, condition and roll out your pink clay at the same thickness as the gold.  Cut a heart out of it.

Use the basketweave texture sheet on your heart.

Step 2: Prepare the base.
 Roll out some more pink clay at the thickest setting and cut out a 2-inch square. 

Texture your sheet all over using the ripple texture sheet.

 Lay your gold square over the background (turned about 45 degrees) so you can see where to put the letters.

 Stamp or carve the word "love" in the space inside the heart.  (You may need to move the gold square for a moment to do this.

 Next, get out your gold metallic powder (I'm using PearlEx- I think it's the antique gold.)  and very gently touch the surface of the powder with your index finger.  You just want a micro-thin layer of the powder on your finger.  Touch the pink clay with your gold-plated finger a few times.  Keep touching the powder and then the clay until you have a sort of splotchy gold design on your pink clay.  I made the gold fingerprints a little thicker around the letters to make them stand out more.  Do this to the pink heart as well.  (I added some clay where the corners of the gold square will hang over to support them during baking and give them added strength.)

 Step Three:  Put it all together.
Lay all of your elements on the base and press down gently to get it all to stick together.
Now you get to add the glitter.  See my notes about the glitter here.  (Scroll down about 3/4 of the way.)

Step 4: Bake and finish.
Now it's time to bake.  Put your piece on something flat (I have several pieces of broken stone tile that I can bake small things on.)  and bake at 265 degrees (or whatever the clay manufacturer recommends) for about 30-45 minutes.  I like to err on the side of caution and bake longer than may be necessary.

So now you're ready to add the magnet to the back.  I'm just using what I have on hand, which is some of that thin, flat, rolled-up magnetic strip with the sticky back.  This is not my first choice but as the magnets are light and I seldom hang stuff on the fridge with my magnets, it will suffice.  I cut a piece slightly smaller than the back of the magnet, peeled off the paper, and stuck it on.  If I were to sell these, I would use the stronger round magnets and adhere them with a suitable glue.

 Reverse side:

There you go!  Make a bunch and give them away for Valentine's Day or keep them for yourself.  If you do, feel free to send me pictures and I will post them here.  I think I might give mine to my sister who has a magnet collection dating back to her junior high school days.

P.S.  Do yourself a favor and don't sell any of the stuff you make from my tutorials.  When people buy handmade, they want a story and "I followed some instructions online" is really a lousy story.  Do feel free to use my ideas as inspiration or a "jumping-off point" for your own creations.  Besides, if anyone is going to make money off my ideas, shouldn't it be me?  :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Beef Stew

It's time again for my recipe of the week.  Beef stew has always been a staple in our house.  I started making this not long after Rock and I were married and it has evolved a little (but not much) in the years since.  All of us love it on a cold winter day with some warm rolls and butter. 

It's completely different from what my mom always called beef stew.  Hers used ground beef (that's all we could afford), was not thick at all and included corn and green beans (which I can't stand mixed into anything).  I couldn't figure out why mom's beef stew wasn't anything like the canned stuff.

Anyway, if you've never heard of "Kitchen Bouquet,"  you be glad I told you about it.  :)  Not long after my mom and dad were married (and dad complained all the time that mom's cooking was nothing like his mom's), my mom asked her mother-in-law what the secret was to getting here gravy so nice and dark brown.  She thought grandma would come up with some complicated method or something and was very surprised when grandma reached into the cupboard and pulled out a little bottle labeled "Kitchen Bouquet."  That was grandma's secret- a couple of tablespoons from that little bottle in her gravy.  The rest is history.  Mom's been using it ever since and it's now one of my favorite seasonings.  You can usually find it near the bouillon in the grocery store.

So, enough rambling- here's the recipe:

Korrina's Beef Stew
1 pound stew meat, browned                    2 beef bouillon cubes
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks      4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 onion, chopped                                  1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce         2 tablespoons Kitchen Bouquet
1 teaspoon curry powder                         2 packages brown gravy mix
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the stew meat in a little oil in a big saucepan.  Peel your carrots, potatoes and onion.  Slice the carrots and mushrooms, chop the onion, and cut the potatoes into chunks.  Put everything in the saucepan and add enough water to make everything just barely start to lift off the bottom of the pan (you know, when the potatoes just start to float).  The mushrooms will shrink and you will have more gravy in there than it looks right now- you can always add more water later.  Turn the heat on and get it all boiling.  When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot.  Simmer your stew for about 2 hours.  This will get everything nice and tender and blend all of those flavors together.  When it's done you can thicken it a little more by mixing a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch or flour with a half cup or so of cold water.  Turn the heat up and add the mixture to your stew, stirring constantly.  Keep stirring and cooking until it is the thickness you want.  Serve with hot buttered rolls for dipping.

(Sorry, no photo this week...)

January PCC Challenge- 2nd Place!

Once again, I won a prize in the Polymer Clay Central Challenge seen here.  I love doing the challenges because the themes force me to expand my horizons and try something I may not have otherwise done.  I keep saying I'm not a jewelry designer but maybe I'm not as bad as I thought I was.  The idea came from a photo of broken sea ice I saw on Google.  I think I may make another one like it in a different color and make a tutorial for it.  I've actually considered making tutorials to sell in my Etsy shop for some of the more intricate work I do.  (They take too long to do them for free...)  Anyway, here are the photos of my 2nd place-winning entry:

I really enjoyed making this piece but it took a long time and I'm not sure I'd want to repeat the process too many times.  That's why I think a tutorial might be a good idea.