Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Monday

The cooler weather is making for some delicious dinners around here.  I love soups from my crock-pot combined with fresh baked bread.  Wonderful way to warm up a wet, chilly fall evening.  Today I made one of my faves - Wild Rice and Sausage Soup.  Of course I had to try it for lunch.

Wild Rice and Sausage Soup

2 cups diced turkey sausage (replace with your favorite sausage or cooked ham)
1 cup juliened carrots
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice (I like a mix of rices & wheat berries)
1 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 can cream of celery soup
ground pepper to taste
1 cup half & half
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Add sausage, carrots, rice, stock, cream of celery and pepper into crock-pot.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Stir in half & half and dry sherry then turn on high and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle almonds and parsley on top to serve.

This soup goes perfectly with fresh baked bread and my personal favorite to serve is Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread.  You can add herbs, like basil or rosemary (dried 1/2 tsp. or fresh 1 tsp.) to the recipe but I love it without.  I love my bread machine and this is perfect for it.  This recipe is for a 1 1/2 lb. loaf.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon dry yeast

Put all ingredients into the bread machine pan in the order given.  Set machine for 1 1/2 pound loaf and go.

The menu for the rest of the week includes more soups, homemade potpie, crockpot pork chops and roasted chicken.  I've also have plans for Colonial Oatmeal Cookies, apple crisp and pear tart this week too.  Love fall baking and cooking.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sewing, Sunflowers and Art Kits

I think the warmer part of fall has passed now.  Cold and wet weather is the forecast for the next week or so.  I don't mind the wet and I don't mind the cold but I do mind when they are together.  As long as we get a bit of sunshine here and there it'll be fine.  I need to get my walks in regardless of the weather so I'll be heading to the mall to walk if it gets too bad.

Since I have the big sewing machine out and ready to go I might try my hand at creating doll clothing for DD's American Girl doll.  DD has some cute outfits that might translate well into doll clothes.  I also might make some nightgowns for DD and her doll out of worn king-size flannel sheets.  I might have enough time to start tackling it this weekend.

I unearthed my Painted Sunflower Frame this past weekend.  I love the touches of metallic copper acrylic paint in the leaves in flower centers.  This might work well on a "Welcome" plaque design I have in mind.  Another thing I might tackle this weekend.

Hand-painted Sunflower Frame
Inspiration kits have really been catching my eye and inspiration lately.  I love seeing what can be put together, mixed and matched.  Lots of little pieces, scraps of papers, tags, metal embellishments, doo-dads, and such.  Since I have lots of that type of stuff on hand I decided to put together a few kits for myself.  I usually create kits for projects or pages that I'm working on but not just for inspiration.  It was fun and really interesting to gather things without a real purpose.  I have no idea what to do with this kit yet but another one is already in the works.

Art Kit #1 - all packed up

Art Kit #1 - look at all the goodies

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creative Kits

Plenty of stuff going on around here lately.  Kids activities, household chores, baking and some creative stuff too.  I'm still trying to use up more of the pumpkin so I made our favorite Pumpkin Crumb Cake.  Kids love it for breakfast, which is great since it is tasty and good for you.  I've also baked some cookies, chocolate chip and oatmeal scotchies.  I think I've got after-school treats covered for the week.

I have a few creative projects in the works, some for myself and a few for others.  I've got three scrapbook pages finished for a tribute album I'm doing for someone.  I've also got a page kit ready to go for a class I'll be teaching next month.  There are a few pages I'd like to do for myself too.  An hour or so each day will be spent on scrapbooking this week.  Time to get a few more kit pages together.

Page Kit

Mini albums are so fun to create and I have quite a few.  I like putting together kits from scraps of other projects for these cute little books/albums.  I also do mini albums/books for classes since they are small, less time consuming than an entire album and a great way to introduce a new technique on a small scale.  I just found a few kits, from classes I've held or was planning, hiding in a box on a shelf in the utility room.  One of my favorite from a class last year is a Christmas ornament one.  It was fun to design and the class had fun making them too.  I have some ideas for a few and lots of scraps to get some kits together.

Ornament Mini Album Kit
I'm also participating in a swap on Mixed Media Art - an altered tea box.  My first challenge/swap and one I just couldn't pass up.  I was just thinking about altering some of the tea boxes I have, since they are cute.  I was matched up with a partner, Patti (Bungalow Gals), to swap with and can't wait to trade with her.  The tea box is getting ready to have the final touches added in the next day or two.  I had a blast gathering all kinds of fun 'stuff' together for the project and hope that Patti will enjoy the box and the 'treasures' I'll be stashing inside.

Altered Tea Box Project

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Turkeys, Light Houses and Badges

We've had some new visitors the last few days around here in the mornings - wild turkeys.  These birds are large and quick.  And they left sticky, smelly, yucky "presents" for us in our driveway a few times too.  The kids are fascinated and can't wait to look out our front window each morning to see if they are around.  I barely managed to get photos since they sprint away when the curtains go up.  I'm not sure how much longer they'll be hanging out in the neighborhood but it is fun to see them gathered around the neighbor's bird feeder and trotting across the front yards.

Wild Turkeys in our neighborhood.

I got some decent photos of a historic light house while we were on our recent color tour.  The sun was not in a great spot for the view I wanted to capture so I had to move around a bit.  Most of the shots were from close to shore looking in-land.  Next time I'll remember to get the photos in the late morning so that there will be a hint of beach.

Tawas Light House
My DD is having fun participating in Girl Scouts as a second year Brownie right now.  She has earned a bunch of Try-It and activity badges.  We are sewing them onto her vest, a few by hand but most by machine.  DD thinks it is so cool that she gets to sew them one herself.  She has started designing clothes she'd like to make now that she is sewing.  I loved sewing with my mom and this brings such lovely memories from my childhood to me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Baking and Trips

I've been spending much of my spare time baking lately.  Treats, cookies, pies, rolls, muffins and other goodies.  Since pumpkin is in season we have more than enough on hand to keep the entire family in baked goods, especially their favorite Pumpkin Crumb Cake.  I've even made a double batch of Pumpkin Bread using some mini-bundt pans, yummy stuff.

The leaves are brilliant right now.  We took an all day color trip to enjoy the weather and sights.  The traditional stop at the cheese store for "Squeaky Cheese" and crackers to munch on during the drive was even better with yummy samples of cheese and cider.  We stopped to watch some fishing and saw a huge salmon hauled in, the kids first sight of one.  Everyone trekked down and back up the many steps of Iargo Springs and Lumberman's Monument.  My legs ached the next day.  But the views were worth every step.

I took a ton of photos for inspiration.  So many shapes, colors and such that have loads of ideas brewing in my mind.  I have plans for a fall bunting to hang on my bookshelves, some pretty twig and leaves decor for the kitchen table and even a cute scarf for DD to wear with her jean jacket.  Now if I only had a few more hours to tackle it all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Love Fall.

The weather has turned cooler, the leaves are changing and I am loving autumn.  The smells, sounds, sights, textures and tastes of fall are some of my favorite things.  Walking in the nature reserve most mornings has given me a better view of how quickly fall hits around here.  In only two days the woods went from lush undergrowth and green leaves with just touches of autumn creeping in to vibrant jewel toned leaves on the trees, rusty rustling ferns, trails strewn with acorns and plenty of scurrying critters to watch.  My favorite cozy sweaters are out of summer storage and ready for wearing.  The scents of baking waft through the house as the family enjoys apple crisp, pumpkin scones, freshly baked bread and homemade chicken noodle soup.  Yep, I LOVE fall.

Pumpkin Crumb Cake for brunch.

So I've lost 10+ pounds at this point and am feeling pretty good.  Eating good food, trying out new recipes and getting in an hour worth of walking almost every day is paying off.  I need to keep it up and stay positive.  I'm already having issues with clothes not fitting, which feels fantastic.

I haven't been creating much at the moment even though I've been feeling really inspired.  There are tons of ideas floating in my head and written down in my "project" notebook that I could be working on.  For some reason I feel like I'm not at home much which isn't really true.  I guess the days go by quicker when the kids are at school and I do spend more time in transit running for kids functions right now.  Seems like I've got to schedule my days a little better so I set aside time to actually work on some projects rather than just think about them.