Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter Monday!

Submitted by Linda
I heard from Michelle that in Denmark, folks celebrate Easter Monday! That sounds like a great idea to me. I'd vote for a day off after any major holiday!

My family celebrates Holy Week and Easter, and I love the concept of the new life that it brings. And just yesterday, Craig discovered a nest right up in the grapevine and twinkle lights by my front door. I can't wait the hear the cheep cheep of baby birds! Spring has sprung!

I simply had to create a little goodie for my friends at work, and once again, the Fancy Favor bag made it's appearance. I can't resist using that die! I love how the Melon Mambo ribbon matches exactly. The darling silhouette girl is from the Easter Blossoms set, which Michelle thoughtfully added to my birthday box in March.
After finishing the pink ones for my friends, I decided that Craig should have some to take into the ladies he works with, so I added some made out of the old Soft Sky. I filled them with a bit of shred, kisses and Hershey's miniatures. Again, so cute, if I do say so myself!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Kitchen Makeover: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie....

Submitted by Linda
You may remember this photo of my dear friend Heidi looking at fabrics with me at Calico Corners during her quick California getaway in January. Well, it is now April, and I'm finally ready to unveil my 'minimal, simple' kitchen makeover. By simple, I mean that I didn't want to change my paint, or the color scheme. Rather, I wanted to upgrade my fabrics, pillows and window treatments. Piece of cake, right?
My first objective was to keep this quilt as my focal point, made by my grandma in the 1920's, and the yellow paint that coordinates with it.
For those of you who know the Laura Numeroff story, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, you remember that he's going to need a glass of milk, and so on and so on. Well, I believe that this story hold deep truths for anyone doing home improvement (you replace the doors, now the molding looks wrong), cleaning (you clean a pantry shelf, and now the rest of the pantry looks terrible), or decorating (you change your fabrics, and now some of the pictures or knick knacks don't work).

The original issue was, the fabric on these chairs needed to be replaced. In fact, after having numerous teenagers sit on these chairs, you can see that we were down to four from the original six chairs, and these four were shaky beyond repair. Be sure to notice the old rocker to the right of the couch - it will be transformed later on.
Despite my navy leather couch, I decided to add black to my color scheme. We found new black chairs at Ikea, but they didn't have upholstered cushions, just a wooden seat. Because of all the time we end up sitting at our kitchen table with family and friends, I really wanted them covered with fabric and thick foam, rather than having a 'tie-on' chair pad. After experimenting with different widths of foam, and using an electric knife to 'carve' the foam, Craig worked his magic and covered all 6 chairs.
I think he did a beautiful job! The next step was to replace the window valances in the kitchen and over the slider. I have really enjoyed having this bright fruity fabric, but if was definitely time for refreshing.
For the windows we chose a Waverly french country print with florals and roosters and a coordinating plaid. My friend Diane came over to help me decide what type of window treatments to do (since dear Heidi was back home in Chicago), and we decided on a "rolled stagecoach" valance. After another trip to Calico Corners to look carefully at the sample valance and it's installation, my mom and I went to work, measuring, cutting, sewing, laughing, with my dad at the ready to hang it once we were done. I put my mom to work on the sewing machine while I cut, pressed, and made iced tea.
Remember the "quick and simple" strategy? Figuring out and creating that valance took us one whole Saturday! Here is the fruit of our workmanship:
Next up, the valance above the slider. Here's the 'before' picture: and yes, that is a birthday balloon on the left.We tackled this 2nd valance on the Monday of my spring break. Though we had figured out some of the logistics on valance #1, the dimensions were different, and we needed to piece the fabric so that the design lined up. I didn't realize that the fabric had a specific repetition to it, but as we were working, we had to be very attentive to the placement of the rooster, etc. By the end of Monday, valance #2 was up. You can see drink dispensers in the background on the patio - yes, we're hosting another gathering soon!
On the Tuesday of my spring break, my folks were back to tackle this sweet little rocker. My parents had bought two of these when they had moved from Nebraska to Oregon, around 1962. I remember my mom changing the upholstery on this chair over the years, and when they scaled down, I nabbed one. The other one is still in my parents' bedroom.
Here you can see the contrast between the old fabric and the new. Notice my cute beehive pincushion, which also has a tape measure hidden inside.
Again, in the spirit of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, when we disassembled the rocker, we discovered that the webbing under the seat was tattered and torn. I shouldn't have been surprised....the chair is practically 50 years old! I was able to find new webbing, and my dad got right to work - out with the old and in with the new.
Because I am known for sticking with a color scheme for a long time, I said to my dad, "Next time I change my fabrics in here, you'll be a little old man and won't be able to help me, so I'll have to hire someone to recover it!" His response, was "Next time it needs to be recovered, throw it out!" (My dear dad is not a big fan of antiques). But in the spirit of remembering our fun time working on it, I grabbed a black sharpie and wrote our names and the date on the underside of the chair - it says Linda, JoJo (Michelle's nickname for JoAnn), and Norm, with my trademark heart.
Here it is! I love, love, LOVE the tassel trim along the bottom of the ruffle. You may notice that we gathered the ruffle rather than making pleats like last time. I used the two valance fabrics, and incorporated the black and tan checked fabric from the chair seats.
The back cushion was a remnant that I bought for $1 at Calico Corners, and the design is roosters and chicken wire! I love the way the different fabrics all work together.
Silly me! I didn't take a before pic of this darling yellow chair. This chair was in my sister-in-law Renee's room when she was little, and I snagged it from her parents (my in-laws) years ago. I think she may want it back someday! It needed a bit of repair and repainting, which Norm and Craig handled. Then we added the sweetest toile fabric cushion with a polka dotty trim and small pillow with black dingle balls. What's not to love about dingle balls? You may remember that needlepoint rooster pillow from our very first outing in January.
So, except for a few minor details, the kitchen is officially refreshed! I love the new look.
I'm so grateful for the folks who helped me along the way- I could have never done it alone. Thank you Heidi, Diane, Craig, Norm and JoAnn!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Teresa's Pasta Salad

Submitted by Linda
I had some trouble on Iphoto trying to crop and straighten this picture. But trust me, the salad is amazing!
When I was planning the big bbq for Nick's dorm-mates, one idea I had was to make a pasta salad, because (like the cole slaw) it could be mostly made ahead. When I dug through my recipes, I came across this one, called Teresa's Pasta Salad. It is written out by hand, on unfamiliar stationery, and I know I've had it for years.

The problem? For the life of me and don't remember who Teresa is! It is possible that she is someone who brought it to a church potluck years ago, or served it to me when I was out of town with Craig, visiting alumni. Or was it a parent who brought it for a 'staff appreciation lunch' at school? Either way, I know that if I had asked for it, then saved it, it must be good. And boy was it!! Everyone raved about it, and the leftovers where yummy all week long. Teresa, if you're out there, please chime in so I can give you credit!

I used 5 pounds of pasta, so here is Tommy helping mix up the first batch in my big drink server (I didn't have a mixing bowl that was big enough).
Tommy is turning into a foodie, partially because of Michelle, but also because he is a food network addict. So I enlisted his help for the big stir!
When I decided to cook the pasta the day before, I asked chef Michelle how to prep the pasta so it would be nice after being in the fridge all night. She told me to simply rinse the pasta, then put a bit of olive oil on it, and put it in a zippy bag. It worked like a charm! All week long I used that pasta and the texture and taste was great!

Here's Teresa's recipe:

Teresa's Pasta Salad
Dressing Ingredients:
1/8 teasp. pepper
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley or 2 T. dried parsley
1 teasp. honey
3/4 teasp. salt
1/3 cup vinegar: use half basalmic and half red wine vinegar
1 T. dijon mustard
1 1/2 teasp. basil

Dressing Directions:
Blend all together in blender. (It lasted nicely in the fridge for several days.)

Salad Ingredients:
1 - 2 pounds bowtie pasta
red onion, chopped
kalamata olives, halved
sundried tomatoes, chopped
feta cheese, crumbled
cucumber (this was my addition)
Salad Directions:Cook pasta as directed, cool, then add other ingredients and toss with dressing.

If you're making it for a large group, I found a large jar of sundried tomatoes, as well as crumbled feta at Costco, and found a large jar of kalamata olives at Smart and Final. Smart and Final also had tri-colored bowties, which added some nice color.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Michael's Cole Slaw

Submitted by Linda
You may remember last year at this time (and the year before) I was in the throes of planning graduation parties for my two sons. My menu for Nick's party was an "upgraded" picnic, and it included this cole slaw recipe, which was a big hit. (Click here to see Nick's grad party menu.)

So last fall, he went off to college (only 15 minutes away), and I have been pressing him to invite some friends over for a meal. As someone who has completely enjoyed his freshman experience, he hasn't been home much and has been involved in all kinds of crazy activities. Since the school year is almost over for him, he finally set up a date to bring friends over, then informed me that he had invited the entire wing of his dorm. "How could I not include everyone?" he said! I love that inclusive attitude, and he knows we like to "go big or go home" at the Wallace house, so I started cooking and planning.

We ended up with only 25 or so (it could have been up to 40), and the students really enjoyed some home cookin'.

This recipe was given to me from a colleague at my school and the recipe is a combination of recipes, including Tam O'Shanter, Thai Slaw Salad, and 'Nat's King Cole' Coleslaw. For me, the peanuts make it!

Michael's Cole Slaw

6 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup chopped green onions, including tops
1 cup celery, cut diagonally
fresh basil, shredded (optional)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/8 cup honey
2 teasp. dijon mustard
peanuts, chopped (add as many or few as you want)
salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, and mustard in small bowl. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, onions, carrots, celery, (optional basil), and peanuts. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Add dressing and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Linda's Note: I rediscovered my food processor and shredded my cabbage and carrots, as well as chopped the peanuts with it. This is a big time saver if you are making it for a large group. Also, Smart and Final sells a 5lb. bag of shredded cabbage, with the carrots and red cabbage included.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Welcome Baby Sawyer!

Submitted by (Great Aunt) Linda
Remember this? (Click here to view Courtney's shower)
Well, Baby Sawyer finally arrived on time, despite his early labor and breech position! Courtney has been a big part of our lives since she was in our wedding, and then became a 'nanny' to our two boys. As a little girl, she loved babies, and was an amazing babysitter. As other kids have joined our family, I have often told my boys that their job is to keep the little kids happy, as payback for all the times Courtney entertained them.

As time marches on, I love how things can go full circle. Here is Courtney with Tommy as a Toddler........
...and here is grown-up Tommy holding her precious newborn, just one day old.
In this picture, Courtney is on the far right, holding my Baby Nicholas, with her sisters Tiffany (who is now a mommy of two), and Kari, who just presented her APU senior art exhibit.
...and here is grown-up Nick holding Baby Sawyer!
Great Aunt Linda finally got a turn. I think he is positively yummy!

We had a laugh over this next picture being our Christmas card pic....but it looks like 40-something Linda and 50-something Craig had a late-in-life baby! I think we'll just enjoy Sawyer and save the hard work of raising babies for the next generation.
I completely forgot to take a picture of the proud parents with Sawyer.....but isn't that how it is when a beautiful baby enters the world?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Veined: Kari's Art Show

Submitted by Linda
I had the privilege of attending my niece Kari's senior solo art exhibition at Azusa Pacific University last week. APU is near and dear to my heart as an alum, but also as someone who has many family members who are on staff , or are students (including my two darling boys). Back in the day (doesn't that make me sound old?) when I was a student, the art program was very limited, and certainly didn't offer degrees in a wide range of mediums. I love to see such great progress in my alma mater, and also the growth of a beloved niece.

Here is a glance back at the old days. Kari was the cousin closest in age to my boys, so they share lots of memories, including this one at Newport Beach.
Here is the entrance to her exhibit, entitled Veined:
Kari's emphasis is on textiles (I love textiles!) and she created her own fabric using threads and yarns and laces. She worked on it for about 6 months.
It draped all around the room, and sections of it were very different. In ways, it was chronological (Kari could point out good times and bad, based on her designs), but it also represented the bigger concept of living in community with others, and how our lives intertwine.
This explanation was written on the wall out of yarn and lace. I love the concept of being woven together with others!
Here's Tommy and his 2nd cousin Zeke, enjoying all the fibers.
Congrats Kari! We are all so proud of you!....and keep on creating!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lisa's Chicken Tortilla Soup

Submitted by Michelle

5 years ago, when Celeste was in Kindergarten, I first began my tradition of Family Lunch. I stole the idea from my good friend Laurie who wanted a way to get parents involved at school in a non-threatening environment, particularly for those non-English speaking parents. Her idea worked wonderfully and I wanted to give it a go in my classroom, too. Each month I set the menu and the parents brought all the food and then shared the meal in the classroom with us. Our monthly potlucks overwhelmingly became the students and parents favorite activity.

Lisa, Celeste's mom, was always a HUGE supporter of family lunch. Not only did she cook for it, she would come early to help with set up and then stay late to clean up. During the month when the designated menu was soup and sandwiches Lisa brought her chicken tortilla soup. I loved it and have been making it ever since. It is tasty and so simple to make. I think you'll love it too.

The recipe is a little loosey-goosy in that you can adjust the measurements and the ingredients to your liking. I start by sauteing a sliced onion with some garlic in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt. You could chop the onion if you prefer, use less if you aren't a big onion fan, or even omit it if you don't like onion at all. See what I mean by loosey-goosey?
I've never done this before, but when I was making the tortilla soup this time around I thought a sprinkling of dried oregano might be nice, so I threw that in the pot too.
Once the onion is translucent I stir in 2 cans of Rotel and 1 can of diced green chilies.
I let that cook for a minute or two and then toss in my cooked chicken. I happened to have shredded chicken on hand but you could cube the chicken or used grilled chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and use that. Again, loosey-goosey is the theme.
Once the chicken gets coated in the onion, tomato and green chili mixture, I add chicken stock. I had homemade but you could used boxed or canned or even water, though I think water wouldn't pack as much flavor. I know that Lisa poaches her chicken for this recipe and uses the poaching water for the soup.
I let everything come to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes or so and ta-da! Chicken Tortilla Soup! I serve mine atop of bed of tortilla strips and then garnish it with fresh cilantro and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. But again, pepper jack might be nice or cotija or queso fresco or...well, you know, the possibilities are endless and it's totally up to you.

Lisa's Chicken Tortilla Soup
All measurement are approximations. Adjust according to your own taste buds.

1 medium yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (for sauteing)
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cans Rotel Mexican Lime and Cilantro Diced Tomatoes
1 can diced green chiles
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (though dark meat works well too)
8 cups chicken stock
tortilla strips

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Crazy for Quilling

Submitted by Michelle
I'm a putter-er. I admit it. I find such pleasure in being in my home and doing exactly what I want when I want. This probably is a direct result of being a teacher. I live by a bell schedule 5 days week and so on weekends and vacations I glory in not paying attention to the clock. Another teacher and stamping friend, Nancy, even goes as far as not wearing a watch on her days off. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Today marks the half way point of my Spring Break and I am in full puttering mode with my only goal being to perfect my new found obsession: quilled flowers. Tara, a fellow Stampin' Up! demonstrator has a great blog and she recently posted a video about quilling. Not only did I watch it, I immediately ran out to JoAnn's a bought a quilling tool so I could give it a try. I'm a pretty quick learner, don't you think?
And whilst I was at it, I copied a layout of one of Tara's cards and created a few for myself using my pretty and sparkly flowers.
This next card has nothing to do with quilling, but since I'm admittedly writing a blog post whilst in putter mode I figured it would be OK to add a completely and unrelated design that I recently made and wanted to share.
The idea came from the Stampin' Up! Idea Book and Catalog (page 54). I've been wanting to make a card with a banner on it and the idea of using a stamp set with party hats and then turning them upside down was winner.

I'm off for more puttering but this time in the kitchen. I'll keep you posted on any great creations that arise.