Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl Suggestion: Pigs in a Blanket

Submitted by Linda
You might be surprised that I'm posting a "non-gourmet" recipe like 'pigs in a blanket', knowing that Michelle is such a gifted cook. But let me set the record straight: She's the one that turned me on to these!!!! We've made them for several gatherings, including both men and women, and they get eaten up to rave reviews. Michelle prefers to use the Adell's sausages (in the tiny size), which are available at Bristol Farms. For those of us who don't live near a BF store, these Little Smokies work in a pinch. It's easy to have these ingredients on hand (I always have the sausages in my freezer because it seems like I always have a bunch of high schoolers over).

Unroll the crescent roll dough, and slice each section into 2 skinny triangles.
Roll 'em up - put 'em on a cookie sheet!

Bake as directed (375 degrees, 11 - 13 minutes). Add Craig's Sweet Hot Mustard (see post dated 1/5/09) and you've got a winner!

Two rolls of crescent dough and a large package of Little Smokies made 32 appetizers, with some sausages left over.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Grocery Game

Submitted by LindaHere is a silly picture of my boys this morning, eating breakfast. They had a Late Start School Day today, so Craig cooked them up some eggs and pancakes. I had to include a "food related" photo and this is it!

I want to tell you about "The Grocery Game". This is a nationwide service you can join that takes most of the brainwork and effort out of using coupons for groceries, paper goods, toiletries, and so on. When you join ( I believe you can try it for a month for $1.00! What a deal!) you can choose to get a list from a variety of stores (Von's, Ralphs, Staters, Walgreens, and more). On this list, you'll find what items are at their "rock bottom" prices, and they'll tell you exactly where to find the coupon in your Sunday LA Times. It's easy to start, even if you haven't been saving the Sunday coupons. I don't cut ANY coupons UNTIL the item appears on the list, and then they tell me exactly which coupon section/which date to find it. So there's no cutting and filing coupons. I just put the date on the coupon packets that come in each Sunday paper, than look through them when I need a coupon.

If you go to the website, you can read all about why they say the "List" that they provide really is the cheapest, rather than the "phantom sales" that are sometimes in grocery ads (basically advertising a "sale" which isn't actually the cheapest the item will be).

The founder, Terri, also encourageds you to "stockpile" things when they are at their "rock bottom" price, so that you don't have to buy it until it goes "rock bottom" again.

I can't even begin to estimate how much money I've saved, but I definitely do my menu planning based on what's on the list. It's also fun for my boys to see if any of their favorites end up on the list (for example, I only by Pop Tarts when they are super cheap). Also, Terri says that doing it this way is actually cheaper than Costco or Sam's Club for most things. After the trial period, it costs about $1.25 per week, plus the cost of a Sunday paper.

Click here to check out TheGroceryGame.com and read the fine print. If I've confused you more than helped, send me a comment and I'll try to clarify.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Girl Time!

Submitted by LindaHere's a picture of my niece Courtney and me at the APU Alumni cruise we were on in January. I've already commented about my amazing nieces and nephews - but today I wanted to do a "shout out" for Courtney. We have lots of good memories with "Coco" as a child, but she'd be MORTIFIED if I posted pictures of her at age 8, when we had the great fun of taking her with us to Oregon. Anyway, it has been fun watching her grow into an amazing adult, complete with a husband, job, home, heart for children, and a dream of having one of her her own. And if you ever get the chance to play "Catch Phrase" with her - you'll be inspired by her competitive spirit and determination to beat the guys' team!

One of her gifts (though she would possibly deny it) is to "make things happen". I think I've said something about getting friends together to stamp a jillion times, and she's the one who helps me get it planned and on the calendar. So since Michelle was in town for our C-Mont stamp club on Friday, I prepped the same exact projects for an informal time of stamping. It started with the local nieces, but since Kari's in South Africa, and Katie's in DC, it shrunk a bit and we added some pals (to follow Kari's and Katie's journeys, click here or here. Very Fun!!)

So here's a part of our group: I was so mad at myself when I realized that niece Tiffany left to feed baby Zeke before we took the photo (you can be sure you'll hear about her someday, as well). Pictured below are Carrie, Courtney and Janelle (youth leader extraordinaire). You may be able to see in the pic that I added a little cellophane candy treat bag with a cute header to our project list (the rest of the cards can be seen in detail on Michelle's entry dated 1/23/09).
Now our plan is to send them to Loveland, CO to get the postmark before Valentine's Day! (See blog entry dated 1/8/09 for directions for how you can do it also).

Friday, January 23, 2009

C-Mont Club

Submitted by: Michelle
Tonight is my monthly Stamp Club meeting in Claremont. With a new catalog full of amazing stamps, papers and accessories to promote I thought I'd use items from the Love You Much bundle. We'll be making a regular sized card, a 3X3 card and a tag. The Love You Much Bundle includes the Candy Lane Designer Series Paper, Heart to Heart punch and Love You Much stamp set. All 3 items are in the new catalog but you can purchase them in a bundle for 20% off until the end of the month. Click here for more information.



Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Perks of Creative Friends

Submitted by: Michelle

Last August I attended my first ever Stampin' Up! convention in Salt Lake City. It was 4 days of creativity, inspiration and fun. One of the best things about convention was meeting other demonstrators and beginning new friendships with people who love paper crafting as much as me. Many of the demonstrators that I forged friendships with live right here in Southern California and I've been able to get together with them. One woman in particular, Samantha, has become a great friend and she and I exchange cards when we can. This week I got an envelope in the mail from Samantha and look what was inside!


Aren't they so cute! If you want to see more of Samantha's work, you can check her out here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Banner of Love

Submitted by: Michelle
Stampin' Up just debuted their new Spring-Summer Idea Book and Catalog and I was lucky enough to have pre-ordered the Raspberry Tart Designer Series Paper. I thought it would be great for a Valentine Banner for my home. The paper is super cute so I'm posting some up close shots of each piece of the banner.
I used the new Heart to Heart punch that matches a stamp in the Love You Much stamp set to make the hearts for the pennants at each end of my banner.

You'll need the Sizzix Big Shot and pennant die from SU if you want to duplicate this banner. However, if you live in my neighborhood or are in my Stamp Club you can always use mine! Happy crafting!

All supplies from Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted:
Raspberry Tart DSP
Kiwi Kiss Textured Card Stock
Regal Rose Card Stock
Rose Red Card Stock
Kiwi Kiss Classic Ink
Rose Red Classic Ink
Dazzling Diamonds Glitter
Heart to Heart punch
Chipboard letters from Making Memories
Pink ribbon - generic grosgrain from Michael's.


To order supplies click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My All-Time Favorite Sandwich

Submitted by Michelle
Oh the joy of eating a virtuous meal such as the roasted vegetable sandwich! Packed with flavor and all things good for you, it is by far my favorite dinner particularly in warm weather when grilling is a must.

At the Farmer's Market on Sunday I bought some amazing zucchini, eggplant, red onion, red pepper, basil and bread. I knew I'd be making pesto since Celeste was spending the weekend and wanted some for pasta and Fresh Herb Muffins, so I decided to make grilled veggie sandwiches for dinner.

I started by slicing the vegetables and giving them a sprinkle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
I grilled the veggies, along with the red pepper. I left the red pepper whole and grilled it until it was completely charred black on the outside. Here is a terribly blurry picture of the pepper. Sorry!
Once the pepper had cooled a bit, I rubbed and peeled all the blackness off and was left with the soft yet firm flesh that I cut into strips.
I put all the veggies on my butcher block, along with some freshly sliced tomato, mozzerella cheese, pesto and bread and assembled a sandwich for myself.
David loved it too and along with a salad of mixed greens, we had a healthy feast.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fresh Herb Muffins

Submitted by Michelle
This is my friend Celeste. Actually here name is Celeste Merveille, which means "heavenly miracle" and she is a miracle child in many ways. She was in my kindergarten class 3 years ago and has several disabilities including cerebral palsy, scoliosis, and hydrocephalus. Celeste's handicaps, however, do not get in the way of anything. She has 3 older brothers and insists on doing whatever they do, including wrestling and being involved in whatever rough-housing type activity they are up to. Celeste often comes to my house on the weekend to do more lady like activities with me. One of her favorite activities is cooking.

When I first met Celeste she literally subsisted on chicken McNuggets (McDonald's or Costco brand
only) and french fries. She was a very picky eater but once we started cooking together I was able to get her to try new foods. Now she is pesto eating, pasta loving, Parmesan cheese devouring foodie like me. On Sunday, at her request, we made Fresh Herb Muffins. I first saw the recipe on Claudette Dusoulier's blog, Chocolate and Zucchini. These tasty treats make for a great snack in the afternoon or a wonderful accompaniment to a picnic lunch.
You will need a few simple ingredients: cilantro, Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chives, eggs, parmesan, pesto, flour, buttermilk, baking powder, salt and pepper. I didn't have chives on hand so I used scallions instead. If you want to make your own pesto you can see my December 9 entry for a recipe or you can buy prepared pesto at the grocery store.
Notice Celeste's freshly painted nails. Another favorite activity when she is at Mrs. Wark's house.

You start by whisking the eggs together with the salt and pepper.
Next, add parmesan, pesto and buttermilk and mix well. Finally, the dry ingredients.
Gently fold in the herbs.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. The recipe does not call for parmesan on top, but Celeste and I think it is a nice addition.
Bake for 25 minutes and you'll get a dozen savory treats.

FRESH HERB MUFFINS

A small bunch of fresh, flat leaf parsley, about 25 sprigs
A small bunch of fresh cilantro, about 25 sprigs
A small bunch of fresh chives, about 20 sprigs
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup pesto
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Butter to grease muffin tins OR muffin liners

Yields 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 350 F and butter or line muffin tin.

Rinse and dry the fresh herbs. Pluck the leaves from the parsley and cilantro and chop them roughly. Snip the chives and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper until white and frothy. Pour in the buttermilk, pesto and parmesan, and whisk again. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Don’t over-mix the dough; it’s fine if a few lumps remain. Add the fresh herbs and stir again to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling them to about two-thirds of their capacity. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if so desired) and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool for a few minutes on the counter and turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sweethearts Magnet: Another Cute Valentine Idea

Submitted by: Linda
This "old-school" sweethearts candy box is from 1999. Tommy is now a high school senior! Now the sweethearts boxes have a more updated look - but still have the little window in front. Take out the candy and attach your child's picture inside. On the back of the box, attach an adhesive magnet strip. Viola! The all-time-cutest magnet for your refrigerator!

I do these each February as a gift from my kindergarten students to their parents - and the parents love it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Not A Bad Day At The Office

Submitted by: Michelle
On Thursday 3 firemen from Station 32 in La Quinta came to school to show the pre-school and kinder kids their fire truck. It was a beautiful day outside and the kids loved seeing all the compartments of the fire truck. They also loved having a chance to sit in the driver's seat.
But the coolest thing ever was when they firemen demonstrated how far the water can go.
It was a fun diversion in our regular school day and I didn't mind letting the firemen be the teachers instead of me!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Snowman Soup!

Submitted by: Linda


Here's another fun kindergarten recipe. We are making it in class this week to go with our winter theme!

Snowman Soup

1 Package Magic Powder (hot cocoa mix)
1 Hershey Kiss
1 Magic Stirring Stick (candy cane)
1 C. Melted Snow, heated

Mix powder, kiss, melted snow and stir with the stirring stick. Add snowman dumplings (marshmallows) or a puffy cloud of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chocolate Melting Cake

Submitted by: LindaIt is worth going on a Carnival Cruise just to eat the "Chocolate Melting Cake"! This has been a favorite of our family since we first tasted it on the Carnival Paradise several years ago. The picture above shows the cake with 2 servings of ice cream (don't you hate it when you run out of ice cream before the cake is gone? It's like the cereal/milk dilemma). I have the actual recipe, which is delicious, but I'd like to share the "Cooking Light" version of the recipe, thanks to my front row friend Amy. This version tastes as good (in my opinion), and is better for us. Also, this recipe can be prepped and put into the fridge up to two days ahead of time. And yes, you will want to serve it with vanilla bean ice cream.

Hot Chocolate Fudge Cakes from Cooking Light Magazine (Dec. 2008)

3.4 ounces all purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
2/3 C. unsweetened cocoa
5 teasp. instant espresso powder (I do NOT include this - I'm not of fan of mixing coffee with my chocolate)
1 1/2 teasp. baking powder
1/4 teasp. salt
1/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 C. granulated sugar
2/3 C. packed brown sugar
1 C. egg substitute
1 1/2 teasp. vanilla extract
1 (2.6 oz) bar dark (71% cocoa) chocolate (such as Vairhona le Noir Amer) finely chopped
2 T. powdered sugar

1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour, cocoa, (espresso powder, if you want), baking powder and salt.

2. Place butter in a large bowl: beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars, beating until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add egg substitute and vanilla, beating until well blended. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture; fold in chocolate Divide batter evenly among 10 (4 oz.) ramekins; arrange ramekins on a jelly-roll pan. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.

3. Preheat oven to 350.

4. Let ramekins stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Uncover and bake at 350 for 21 minutes or until cakes are puffy and slightly crusty on top. Sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar, serve immediately.

Yield: 10 servings; serving size: 1 cake

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Katie!

Submitted by: LindaSo here is one of those funny pictures taken with Katie holding out the camera and snapping it of us. I can never do that! Anyway, on Sunday night we helped Katie celebrate her 21st birthday on the cruise ship. We were all glad to be with her, since she's heading for Washington, D.C. in a few days for the whole spring semester.

I really have the neatest nieces and nephews (I'll bet every auntie says that!). They really are such great people, and continue to be very "family friendly". Katie (actually, I think I'm supposed to be calling her "Kate" now) was born in January '88 after our July wedding. Being the youngest in my family, I never knew anyone pregnant, and never was around babies. Along came Katie, and she (along with her 2 brothers) was our newlywed entertainment until niece Kari came along 2 years later. Here's a picture from January 1988 with Baby Katie and big brother David:
David, who was in our wedding, is now a married adult! I won't even go into how OLD that makes me feel.
Anyway, my whole point is to wish Katie a Happy Birthday and let her know how much she is loved by our family!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Too Busy For Girlfriends?

Submitted by: Linda
So here's a blast from the past....this is Michelle and me at my college graduation (May 1987). I had forgotten how grainy pictures used to be before we went digital. We both have some big hair, don't we???
This brings me to a brief article I just read in a magazine. It gave four reasons why our women friends are worth the time and effort, even though life isn't nearly as simple as it was when we were in college, and our time was our own. I found that I agree, and thought they were worth sharing.

1. Girlfriends let us whine. (Need I say more?)
2. Girlfriends take pressure off our husbands. I've heard that women need to use a ton more words each day than men. Even though Craig is in my front center row, he and I joke about my using way too many words, and my habit of making a short story long. I've found that girl friends love to hear the long version of stories, and can empathize with our issues without trying to "fix" it immediately.
3. Girlfriends make us laugh. (For me, this usually happens when we get loopy after crafting all day and night!)
4. Girlfriends ask hard questions. I count on women in my front row to hold me accountable and help push me to do the right thing.

So, to quote the author, Susan Yates: The next time one of your friends calls and wants to get together and you moan about not having time because of all the things you have to do, take a deep breath and say, "Yes". It can be the best present you'll give yourself!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bon Voyage!

Submitted by: LindaEach January, the APU Alumni office invites alumni and friends of the university to go on a quick weekend cruise to Mexico. We've been going for the past 5 years, and it's so nice to have a fun thing to look forward to after the letdown of the holidays. This picture of Craig and me was taken when we were exiting the ship last January. Don't we look relaxed?

Well, we're heading out today for the '09 cruise! Bon Voyage!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Plan Ahead for Valentine's Day


Submitted by: LindaBack when I taught second grade, I did a giant postal unit and I discovered the fun of having your valentines postmarked from Loveland, Colorado. It was so fun and special to send valentines to my family and friends with this special postmark. If you can have your valentines ready WAY ahead of time, you can send them to Loveland, where they will send them out with their Valentine's postmark, which is new every year. The postmarks you see pictured are from 1999.

In 2007, Loveland’s Post Office handled 212,000 cards/letters , from 100+ countries and all 50 states. More than 12 million valentines have been re-mailed since the program started in 1947.

To have valentines re-mailed with the Loveland postmark, enclose your pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes (envelopes should each have 42-cent postage), add extra stamps/postage for heavier/odd shaped valentines, mail in a large stamped envelope to:

Postmaster
Valentine Re-mailing
446 E. 29th St.
Loveland, CO 80538

Deadlines for re-mailing and delivery by Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14:
(I took this info from last year's dates.....forgive me if the info isn't 100% correct).

  • Valentine cards/envelopes destined for re-mailing outside of the U.S. to other countries and international destinations should be in Loveland by Monday, Feb.2.
  • Valentine cards/envelopes destined for re-mailing within the U.S. and outside of Colorado should be in Loveland by Saturday, Feb. 7.

Nothing says LOVE like a card sent with a sweet postmark! If I discover any new information about this as time passes, I will post an update.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What I'm Working on This Week

Submitted by Michelle

This weekend my house will be filled with stampers eager to make cards. I have a great group of ladies who come every month to make a Stamp-A-Stack. For a small fee, they get to come and make 10 cards (5 designs - 2 of each.) This month I've focused on Valentine's Day, baby and birthday.

Linda actually created all the cards for me. We made a deal when I was at her house last week: I would clean and organize her crafting room and she would make card samples for me. As I've said in the past, Linda is great at creating something from nothing, while I am a total copier. So, I told her what stamp sets I wanted to use and she worked her magic and made it happen! And if you read our entry from November 15, you probably remember that I am the tidy crafter and Linda is the messy crafter, so my organizational skills were put to good use in Linda's craft room. Nothing like a win-win situation.

If you are in my area and want to make cards this weekend, give me a shout out. I've always got room for more.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Confectioneryhouse.com

Submitted by: LindaMaybe I'm crazy, but I look for brightly colored cupcake liners every time I go into a kitchen store, or even a 99 cent store. I use them for a certain kindergarten craft project, but I also want them for making cupcakes - those pastel ones are so bland. I was so excited when I found them in a magazine last fall (the magazine actually showed cupcakes that were in red liners that were made to look like candy apples). I ordered the assorted colors and the brown for 2 of my front row friends for Christmas, so I couldn't talk about them until now!! The colors are bright, and the brown look like the type you may find in a gourmet bakery. They have standard and mini size, plus other things you bakers may need. Their website is www.confectioneryhouse.com. The picture above is "borrowed" from the site, but I'm assuming they won't mind, since they may get some orders as a result.

Don't you just love it when you find something you've been searching for?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sweet Hot Mustard

Submitted by: LindaOne of our family favorite recipes is for homemade Sweet Hot Mustard. Despite buying different brands from various places, we haven't found a store-bought mustard that tastes this good! My husband Craig really loves this mustard, and enjoys making it so that we can give it away during the holidays. Here's a photo of him in December 1988 making mustard in our first apartment. (I still like that 80's "Magnum PI" mustache).
Now here's Craig, in December 2008, using the same recipe. The mustache is gone, but the recipe lives on. There is something special about a recipe that stands the test of time.
Here is the recipe:
Sweet Hot Mustard
4 oz. dry mustard (about 1 and 1/5 C.)
1 C. cider vinegar
1 1/4 C. sugar
6 eggs

Combine dry mustard and vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes. Stir in sugar, add the eggs, one at a time, and beat as you add, with a whisk.

Put over cold water in double boiler. Beat until the consistency you want over the boiling water. Pour into jars. Will thicken a little when cool. Refrigerate. This recipe fills 3 -4 half pint jars.

Note: We get our dry mustard in a large jar from Smart and Final. It is way too expensive in the small spice jars from the regular grocery store. Also, I found my double boiler at IKEA and it was inexpensive. If you don't have a double boiler, you can nest a small saucepan into a larger one, but having the right tools always makes a job easier.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Girlfriends Forever

Submitted by: Michelle

"The laughter of girls is, and ever was among the delightful sounds of the earth.
" De Quincey

Georgia, Natalie and Abigail
photo taken by their mom

It was 1984 and we were both members of our high school a Capella choir. Our teacher was Gaynor Trammer and with a name like that, neither Leslie or I could resist making jokes. I think our sense of humor is what drew us together at first - it certainly wasn't our love of singing in German. We became fast friends and though we lost touch during our college years we reconnected in 2005 and were happy to find that we both live in Southern California!

We live a few hours apart so we aren't able to see each other often, but I try to visit Leslie every few months. She lives in LA so it is a treat for me to get away for a day or so and hang out where life moves just a bit quicker and the shopping and dining are much hipper.

This past Friday I made a trip to LA and had a sleepover at Leslie's house. It was such a pleasure to hang out with her family and enjoy good food, laughter and lots of red wine. I had a great time talking with Abigail and Georgia and being an audience for their jokes, singing and dancing, and who wouldn't love the opportunity to hold and play with a cute toddler like Natalie?

Spending an extended amount of time with Leslie reminded me again why we are such kindred spirits. Her wit, quick thinking and intelligence make for great conversations and her love of cooking is right up my alley. She is beautiful, both inside and out, and her top priority in life is to be a good parent, which was evidenced by all the love and structure that she provides for her girls. It made me smile to listen to Leslie explain to one of her daughters why having a rescue dog is just as good (or better) than having a purebred designer dog, as many of her daughter's friends do. I was happy to hear that Abigail, the eldest, was allowed to go to school late on election day so she could have the opportunity to go to the polls with Leslie while she voted. It is clear that Leslie (and her husband whom I have failed to mention thus far but deserves a shout out since he made a run to the store to buy us more wine!) are trying to raise girls who will be well rounded, civic minded, contributing members of society.

Good friends are hard to find and life long friends are even rarer. I'm so glad that the laughter that brought Leslie and I together in high school still connects us now that we're grown up people, and I hope I'll have the opportunity to hear the giggles of Abigail, Georgia and Natalie for many, many years to come.



Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chipboard Hearts

Submitted by: Linda
After all the cooking entries we've posted, Michelle and I thought we should put something crafty up for a change of pace. Michelle was in town for a quick overnighter, so we got busy with her new Stampin Up Valentine's Bundle of supplies. Of course we made cards, which you will see later, but I also made these cute chipboard hearts.

For Valentine's, I usually hang wooden red hearts on this little twig of a tree. This year, I felt like it needed an upgrade so here's what I did: Using a package of chipboard (cardboard) hearts that I bought a year ago, I attached the pretty new paper by running it through my Xyron (a Xyron is a cool tool that allows you to turn anything into a sticker- a great invention!). I then stuck my hearts onto the strip of sticky paper, and then cut around the heart shape. Then I used a sanding block to clean up the edges. I did this on both sides of the heart, then punched a hole and tied the ribbon through. Easy and so cute!
You can see I still hung some of the old red wooden hearts, and I also hung a cute scalloped 'thingy', made from Michelle's wonderful Big Shot die cutter. As usual, if you're interested in Stampin Up supplies, click on Michelle's website listed at the right.