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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

always a crowd pleaser.

whenever we get together for a family party (& i use the word family loosely... growing up far from "immediate" family, our friends and neighbors quickly became our family). anyway, as soon as the party is announced, the first question anyone asks is if larene is bringing hot fudge. warm & thick, oo-ey & goo-ey, on top of ice-cream or all on it's own - it's seriously is the best way to end a meal. so seeing as i'm packing by bags, & heading up to see friends & family at THIS fabulous party, i'll leave you with the famous hot fudge recipe. (& if you too are going to be in town, drop me a line, i'd love to meet!)

marilyn's (larene's mom) famous hot fudge

3 sticks of butter
1 large can of carnation evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
12-14 tablespoons of cocoa
2 lb. bag of powder sugar

combine butter, milk & vanilla in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until butter is melted. then add cocoa & sugar & mix. once it is mixed well, pour it into a blender to mix out all the chunks.


image via flickr.

Monday, April 28, 2008

etsy to the rescue.

remember THIS post? remember how badly i wanted a different bracelet for every day of the week? remember how i was lamenting about how expensive they were & was even considering trying to make my own? thankfully, i no longer have to consider going to such extremes. i tell you, my fairy god mother must have been listening. yep, it's true my fgm (fairy god mother) really does exist, & i have proof... she sent me the lovely caroline, via etsy, to grant my wishes. i've just placed my order for a pair of her beautiful words on your wrist bracelets. as soon as i saw the bracelets in her shop, i knew i had to have them, so i snatched them up, quick as quick can be. as i type, i'm imaganing how cute they would have looked with my outfit today. actually i'm sure they'll will look cute with just about every outfit... i might be wearing them every day. wanna get your own? shop HERE (she's got lots of other, loverly things for sale as well).

image via caroline.

Friday, April 25, 2008

no one has to know you didn't take a shower.

seriously... that's why hats were invented. although, some people (such as myself. i swear i shower, almost daily) find hats another quick and easy way to accessorize another boring (meaning my standard t-shirt & jeans) outfit. here are some of my current wants, you know, in case my fairy god mother is can find them HERE, HERE & HERE. or how about a classic baseball hat? that will definitely do the trick as well.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

cowboy up.

thought i'd take a moment to document one of my more recent adventures in quilting (click on picture to enlarge it). the fabric for this quilt have been sitting in my closet for over a year. luckily, some gals & i threw a cowboy themed baby shower & that was all i needed to get my butt in gear & whip this bad boy up. although, i did experience a few minor set-backs. for example, while cutting my fabric i realized i didn't have enough of the main "cowboy" fabric. fortunately for me, at that exact aha! moment, a girlfriend was visiting of of the fabric meccas of the world. unfortunately though, they didn't have my exact fabric, so i crossed my fingers, said a little prayer, and told her just to pick me up any cowboy fabric that had some red it in. amazingly enough, it all worked out in the end. now, i just have to keep the scissors out of gavin's hands.

making a statement.

i've been loving THESE bracelets forever. i'm not a big dresser-upper (although i secretly wish i was). but i find running after kids & cleaning up spilled milk is simply more comfortable in jeans & a t-shirt. but i do insist on good accessories... they can definitely add a little pizazz to any outfit. with so many quotes & phrases available i want one for every day & every mood. the ones i'd request from my fairy god mother? never, never, never give up, truly fabulous people never get dressed before lunchtime, are you a good witch or a bad witch, supercalifragilisticexpalidocious, & frankly, my dear, i don't give a damn. although chanel has done a pricier knock-off, i'm waiting for a cheaper version. until then, i might just have to resort to making my own DIY knock-off.

i'm sure it's not the first time...

that a darling young child decided to flush his big boy undies down the toilet. hopefully we won't have to call in the professionals to take care of this one. life is full of surprises when you're running a household of boys.

creamy chicken roll-ups

to be honest, i don't even know where i got this recipe. but i was flipping through my folder of favorites & saw this scribbled on a post it note & i knew immediately what i was making for dinner tonight...

creamy chicken roll-ups

phyllo dough
cooked chicken, cubed (i usually use about 1+ per person)
1/2 onion, dice
1 package of sliced mushrooms, dice
1 package of cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup


1. thaw phyllo dough according to the directions on the package (usually overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for 5 hours).
2. cook chicken (usually i boil it, but if i'm really thinking ahead i put in the crock pot) & then cube it.
3. in a separate pan saute the onion & mushrooms.
4. combine chicken, onion, mushrooms & cream cheese to make your "creamy" filling.
5. once the phyllo dough has thawed, remove 2-4 sheets of phyllo and place on a sheet of was paper. brush each with butter or spray with a non-stick cooking spray.
6. spoon a large amount of your creamy filling in a log shape along one end of the phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border. fold phyllo over filling, tuck in ends & roll-up... burrito style. brush the top with butter, or spray with a non-stick cooking spray.
7. repeat with remaining phyllo sheets & filling.
8. bake on 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
9. top with warmed cream of mushroom soup.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

i'm a sucker...

for shoes. more specifically red shoes. even more specifically, mary-jane flats. so when i saw these i immediately fell in love. you can never have too many pairs of red shoes. but these ballet-inspired flats are also calling my name... so dainty & cute. already, i'm planning outfits revolving around both pairs. if only the shoe fairy would send them my way. (in case she's listening, i wear a size 8 1/2.)

overheard in the bathroom stall.

let's say you just happened to be at disneyland on saturday. &, let's say you just happened to be using the "facilities" in adventure land around 9-ish that night. well then you probably heard gavin loudly exclaim (because we haven't quite mastered the art of the "quiet voice") "mom, let's get outta here. it's really stinky." what can i say? it was his first experience, since we've been potty training, in a really public bathroom. but, he was speaking the truth... it was kinda stinky in there.

Monday, April 21, 2008

life is good.

i'm not saying life is perfect, but i'm doing okay, i'm hanging in there... thanks to everyone's thoughts, comments, phone calls & prayers. everyone struggles, i know and accept that. if we never experience the hard times, then it's difficult to appreciate the good ones. so each & every time i feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, i need to take a step back & just breathe... each & every time i feel alone, i need to remember that i have friends and family who love me... each & every time that i feel like i'm not good enough, or that what i'm doing doesn't make a difference, i need to remember the words of a wise man - gordon b. hinckley:

i have discovered that life is not a series of great heroic acts. life at its best is a matter of consistent goodness and decency, doing without fanfare that which needed to be done when it needed to be done. i have observed that it is not the geniuses that make the differences in this world. i have observed that the work of the world is done largely by men and women of ordinary talent who have worked in an extraordinary manner.

Friday, April 18, 2008

tales from the crib giveaway.

oh heavens! where has my mind gone? i almost forgot to tell you about a fabulous giveaway featuring moi. so clickety-click your way over to tales from the crib for all the wonderful details. but hurry though, it ends tonight! many many thanks to all the lovely ladies over at tales for hosting, i'm much obliged... merci!

mentally, i'm taking a vacation day.

if i could, i'd pack my bags & run off to some exotic, luxurious resort (i've heard australia's nice), where i'd lay on the sand, listening to the roar of the waves & the wind rustling through the palm trees. i'd drink a cool, frothy drink & my massage would be scheduled for later in the afternoon. & as the twilight hours approached, i'd soak in a warm, bubbly bath watching the sun set over the ocean. but, as alexander knows, running away isn't usually the answer, because days can be like this, even in australia. so instead, i'll turn on some island tunes, fill a frothy glass with crushed ice & a strong cherry coke, climb into my own warm & bubbly bath (and although my tub isn't in a setting as beautiful or relaxing as my aunt's outdoor tub is, it'll have to do), and pretend i'm elsewhere, listening to the waves crashing on the sand... all the while trying to ignore all thoughts running at lightening speed through my mind.

unfortunately it's not as easy to turn off those thoughts as i'd like. as i've mentioned before, i'm not one to talk about my feelings, i tend to keep things bottled up inside. for example, if we had talked yesterday, and you asked me how i was doing, i would have simply replied "fine" & conveniently forgotten to mention all the silly little details of my life. the problem with bottling it all up inside... sometimes you tend to explode. now we wouldn't want that to happen now would we? (it could get messy & another mess to clean up could put me over the edge.) because of this inability to express myself verbally, i find it imperative that that i write. i write to document my life. i write so that i can remember the lessons i've learned. i write so that one day, hopefully soon, i'll be able to look back, & laugh.

lately i've been thinking alot about something thomas jefferson said: "when you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot & hang on." so this is me, tying my rope and hanging on. because as they say: "everything will be okay in the end. if it's not the okay, it's not the end."

& i'm happy to report that today was a definite improvement over yesterday. in fact it was a pretty typical day: i accidentally flashed the entire neighborhood, my mortgage company sent me a notice stating that my payments will be going up in four months & i found out that gavin didn't get in to our pre-school of choice (blast those people who signed up when their child was still in the womb! i honestly thought it was a joke when people said you had to put your child on the pre-school wait list immediately after conception. oh well, i guess the joke's on me). oh happy day! no accidents involving bodily fluids, no beautification attemps (hopefully i've learned my lesson) & everyone ate their dinner.

so i'm hanging on & holding tight, because i know the sun is going to come out tomorrow, or at least i hope it will. until then, i'm on my island paradise, if you need to reach me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

it's been an "alexander" type of day.

lately i've been fighting the blues. i just kinda feel like i'm slowly drowning. but i try not to let it show... that's what i do, what i've always done. i like to build a wall or fortress around myself, slowly shutting out friends, family & the world. i can feel it happening. so i'm trying hard to combat it. each and every day i wake up & try to put on a brave face. i try to think of all the things i'm grateful for, for all of the wonderful blessings and opportunities i have & have had throughout my life. and most days i manage to come out on top. but not today.

this morning i woke up early, after a completely unrestful night of sleep. during my morning run my nano was unsuccessful in performing it's one duty: helping me zone out. instead of jamming to my tunes, my mind was filled with thought & worries... mostly revolving around the fact that my job, that provides our only source of income, is more than likely going to be "cut back". sure i'll still have a job, but my pay & hours are going to be cut in half. super great! but i was also worried and wondering about jeffy & his newest business venture, as well as the trials and tribulations of several of our close friends and family.

after dealing all morning with two cranky little boys i brilliantly decide to cut my own bangs - yeah, not one of my brightest ideas ever. later on, gavin conveniently forgot that we (& i say "we" because everyone knows it definitely is a group effort) were potty training, & decided to go in his underwear. he did remember to tell me that he was stinky, so i guess that's better than nothing.

i made a quick trip down to the post office. (why is it always so busy?) thinking i was smart, i waited in the line to use the automated machine, only to reach the front of the line & realize that my packages were too big. so then i had to go get in line once again. i then drove down to an out-of-the-way yarn shop, hoping to pick a few pointers from a crochet guru. unfortunately, no one in the entire store, knew how to crochet. they were all knitters, but they suggested i could come back tonight.

i got home from my errands. walked in the door & looked in the mirror for the first time since the bang incident & realized i totally had raccoon eyes. (mental note... i really need to find a new mascara. recently my BADgal just doesn't seem to be doing the job anymore.) i then started getting dinner ready, i was taking dinner over to a girlfriend who just had a baby. about halfway through my preparations i realized i hadn't gotten enough cream of chicken soup. i knocked on all my neighbor's doors, & came up empty-handed. so, i'm crossing my fingers hoping dinner tasted okay. while dinner was cooking, gavin once again had to use the "facilities". unfortunately, he didn't quite make it in time, so he left a big puddle in the bathroom (at least he made that far, that's progress). however, owen, being the typical younger brother that he is, was quick to follow gavin. he stepped in the puddle, & then slipped and fell into it. while i was cleaning up the mess, owen must have decided that my cell phone needed a bath because i found him washing it in the sink. in the meantime, gavin tried to flush owen's paci down the toilet - luckily i caught him in time.

we arrived home from delivering our dinner, a very pleasant car trip, complete with screaming children & my two year old crying out "what the hell". (okay seriously, i don't say it that often.) our dinner was a big hit... both boys dumped their entire plates on the ground. gavin wanted chocolate milk in his new spiderman cup (the one i bought without realizing it didn't have a lid), so it really came as no surprise when owen turned it upside - yet another puddle to clean up. by 7:30 pm i was ready to put both kids in bed (something that doesn't usually happen until at least 8 pm, & that's on a good day).

so just like alexander, i've had a terrible, horrile, no good, very bad day. i think maybe, i'll move to australia.

on the bright side... chelsey brought me a candle that smells mm! mm! good. okay, so i guess it wasn't all bad.

some free advice.

next time you're having a crappy day (although this advice would pertain to just about every day), do not, under any circumstances attempt to cut your own bangs. it doesn't matter how well you cut fabric, or how easy the "professionals" may make it look... what ever your reasoning, in the end you'll definitely regret it. take me - i've been going for the stick straight, hopefully a bit reminiscent of heidi klum, bang look. they've been getting a touch long, & this morning i decided i would just trim them up. scissors in hand, i began to cut. a little snip here, a little snip there, some evening up the straglers & suddenly i realized i had cut way more than i had ever planned. they are still pretty uneven, but i don't dare touch them again. this is definitely something best left for the professionals, hopefully i've learned my lesson. i guess i'll be sporting a hat for the next couple of days, maybe even weeks... at least i won't have to worry about fixing my hair.

start tomorrow. just "one bulb at a time".

somedays it's hard to be a glass half-full kind of girl. life isn't always perfect. with the hustle & bustle of everyday life, sometimes i get a bit overwhelmed & am no longer my happy little self. recently, while trying to get myself out of recent "funk" i came across a favorite old story. reading it immediately put things in perspective for me, maybe it can do the same for you...

several times my daughter, julie, had telephoned to say, "mom, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." i wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from my place by the beach to her lakeside mountain home.

"i will come next tuesday," i promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. the next tuesday dawned cold and rainy. still, i had promised, and so i got in the car and began the long, tedious drive.

when i finally walked into julie's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, i said, "forget the daffodils, julie! the road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and the children that i want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

my daughter smiled calmly, "we drive in this all the time, mom."

"well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears and then i'm heading straight for home!" i said, rather emphatically.

"gee, mom, I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car," julie said with a forlorn look in her eyes.

"how far will we have to drive?"

smiling she answered, "just a few blocks, i'll drive ... i'm used to this."

after several minutes on the cold, foggy road, i had to ask "where are we going? this isn't the way to the garage!"

"we're going to the garage the long way," julie smiled, "by way of the daffodils."

"julie," i said sternly, "please turn around."

"it's all right, mom, I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

after about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. on the far side of the church i saw a hand-lettered sign ... "daffodil garden"

we got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and i followed julie down the path. as we turned a corner of the path, i looked up and gasped. before me lay the most glorious sight. it looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. the flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

five acres of the most beautiful flowers i had ever seen!

"who planted all these?" i asked julie.

"it's just one woman," julie answered, "she lives on the property. that's her home," and she pointed to a well-kept a-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

we walked up to the house and on the little patio we saw a poster ...

answers to the questions i know you are asking

50,000 bulbs
one at a time
by one woman
2 hands, 2 feet
and very little brain
began in 1958

there it was ... "the daffodil principle"

for me that moment was a life-changing experience. i thought of this woman whom i had never met, who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun - one bulb at a time - to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top.

still, this unknown, old woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. she had created something of magnificent beauty, and inspiration.

the principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration:

* learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time, (often just one baby-step at a time)
* learning to love the doing,
* learning to use the accumulation of time

when we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. we can change the world.

"it makes me sad in a way," i admitted to julie, "what might i have accomplished if i had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years. just think what I might have been able to achieve!"

my daughter summed up the message of the day in her direct way, start tomorrow, mom," she said, "it's so pointless to think of the lost hours of our yesterdays. the way to make learning a lesson a celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask ... "how can I put this to use today?"

Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards
, Author

for more information about this real garden, visit HERE.
image via flickr.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

pucker up... a little sweet, a little sour.

lemon freeze with raspberry sauce

*this recipe needs to be made at least 24 hours in advance

preheat oven to 350 degrees

for the crust mix together:
1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. sugar
6 T. butter, melted

put into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. (you can also use a 9" x " square or glass pan, just be sure to spray the bottom with pam.) bake for 10 minutes. cool completely.

for the lemon cream filling mix:
3 c. heavy whipping cream
all the lemon zest you can get from 2 large lemons, very finely grated (no white part)
lemon juice from 2 large lemons
1 1/2 c. sugar

first grate the zest off the lemons, before you cut & juice them. take out the seeds & pulp from the lemon juice. using an electric mixer, beat the above ingredients until blended & slightly thickened. (you do not want to make whipped cream.) pour into springform (or pyrex) pan over cooled graham cracker crust. cover with foil & freeze overnight, or up to a month.

do not thaw before serving (unless using the pyrex pan... then you want to let it thaw just a touch, so that the graham cracker crust doesn't stick). when ready to serve, make raspberry sauce. remove sides of springform pan & cut into pie slices & drizzle raspberry sauce over individual servings. serves 10-12.

raspberry sauce:
(best if made immediately prior to serving)
1 (12 oz.) bag of frozen raspberries
3/4 c. water
3/4 c. sugar

put all of the above ingredients in a blender & puree.

yum! yum! yum!

Monday, April 14, 2008

have you checked your calender lately?

because mother's day is fast approaching! may 11 is just around the corner. & while i'm sure you all have been dropping hints to your hubby's about ordering something from my shop (wink, wink! nudge, nudge!) what do you have planned from your own mothers, mil, etc. etc.? although i'm sure they too would appreciate a nice piece of jewelry, i think it's fun to give something your kiddos can help create. last week a couple of girls & i got together with our littles to create mother's day frames, perfect for framing a sweet picture of the kids. the frames turned out great, & my mom (who received hers as a birthday present) loved it (so she says). anyway, i thought i'd share the idea with all of you. (& to be honest, they'd really be great for any recipient, or holiday... father's day, birthday's, christmas, you get the idea.) what do i love about this idea? it's totally personal, your kids can help, it' super cheap, & really easy.... anyone can do it.

supplies needed:
an unfinished frame (we used the dollar specials we picked up at michael's, but i'm sure any craft stores has the exact, if not similar frame), wood stain, a piece of plain colored card stock paper (larger than your frame), water colors/ crayons/ colored pencils... or what ever "medium" your little one prefers, a jar of mod podge, a sponge brush aplicator, a tiny bit of sand paper & a razor blade or exacto knife.

1. assemble all of your supplies & set up your "work space". mod podge, water colors, wood stain... this could definitely get messy.
2. stain your frame. you don't have to stain the entire frame, just the areas that will be visible after you mod podge the paper to the front... that means you will be staining the back of the frame, the outer sides of the frame as well as the inner sides (near where the picture will go) & don't forget to stain the dowel that you will be using as the stand.
3. while the stain is drying, get out the cardstock & let your little one go to town on it. encourage them to have fun & be colorful. our kiddos are just wee little ones, so we tried to push the finger painting. if you have older children, just make sure they realize that some of the paper is going to be cut away... you don't want to cut away vital parts of their picture!
4. once the kids are finished with their masterpieces, if necessary, let it dry.
5. when the frame & artworks are dry, it's time to get your mod podge on! (if your artwork has warped at all, as ours did, i'd suggest ironing it between layers of a dishtowel...)
6. the first step to the art of mod podging is to apply a light layer over the entire surface to be mod podged (the front of the frame) & let it dry for about 30 seconds or so. the timing isn't setting in stone, you just want it to set-up a touch.
7. next, you apply another layer of mod podge & then position your child's artwork on top of the frame (pay careful attention to any particular areas that you don't want to cut away & steer those parts away from the center or edges of your frame).
8. press the paper firmly to the frame, smoothing away any air bubbles that may form. (it's kinda like wall papering... i found it helpful to use an old credit card to help smooth the paper out.)
9. once the paper is set in place, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then recheck your frame to see if any more bubbles have appeared. if there are, press the bubble down again. if it still doesn't stick, take a straight pin to release the air under the paper & press it smooth.
10. once your frame is dry, put it right-side down on a cutting surface & using your razor blade or exacto knife, trim off the extra paper from around the edges & from the center opening of the frame.
11. using your sand paper, sand all of the paper edges (that you just trimmed) to ensure that they are smooth.
12. once your paper trimming & sanding is all done, apply at least 2 more layers of mod podge on top of the artwork.
13. when everything is good & dry, at this point you are pretty much done & your frame is ready for a cute picture of your little one(s). however, if you so choose, using a paper towel or cloth & just a touch of stain, you can "vintage-ize" your frame by rubbing just a bit of stain on the exposed edges of your paper. but, like i said, this step is totally up to you & not at all necessary to create your incredibly personalized frame, that i'm sure it's recipient will love & be thrilled to receive.

click on the pictures for a step-by-step pictorial, & if you have any questions, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email!

have fun!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

i think i'll be calling the carpet cleaners.

so i wasn't going to post about this. i don't know why. probably because i'm sure all of you out there think i'm "practically perfect" in every way & i wouldn't want to tarnish that image i've worked so hard to get. but then i remembered why i blog... to record the ins & outs of my daily life, which means everything - the good, the bad & in this case, the gross. some of you might read this & squirm; others might think i'm a crappy mom for even letting it happen; but most of you will probably just laugh & be thrilled it happened to me, & not you.

so here's how my story goes... early saturday morning i was getting myself beautified for a luncheon with the gals. i was already running behind because i had woken up late. (my little pal owen had woken up from about 4am-6am for a brief play date with good 'ole mom. i guess he figured we needed a little one-on-one time. or, maybe he's finally getting some more teeth. would you believe he is almost 1 year & a 1/2 and he only has 6 teeth?) anyway, on with my story... so i was in the shower, lathering up my hair with shampoo, when owen walks into my bedroom & pulls off his diaper. i tried to yell for jeff, but he didn't hear me over the running water. with the shampoo already dripping in my eyes, i decided the best thing to do would be wash it out real quick before i got out to chase him down. when i opened my eyes next, i noticed owen squatting in the middle of the floor. he then looked straight at me, gave a little laugh, stood up & ran away. leaving me a nice little present, totally ground into the carpet. yep, GROUND into the carpet... he must have stepped on it as he ran away. i then i had to jump out of the shower, dripping wet, & hustle after him as he left a cute little trail of brown colored foot prints down the hall.

i seemed to have gotten it all cleaned up, but i'm definitely calling in the professionals on this one, it still makes me gag just thinking about it. but what can i say? that's life with boys.

Friday, April 11, 2008

farmhouse chicken.

while perusing on of my favorite recipe blogs i came across this recipe. it was so good, just how i like it - home style cook'n. creamy with just a bit of crunch in all the right places. i liked it so much i even ate the leftovers for lunch the next day (& let me tell you, i'm not a leftovers kinda gal... those are usually reserved for jeffy.)

farmhouse chicken


4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cup milk
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
4 celery ribs, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 ounce package of stuffing mix

1. saute onion, and prepare stuffing mix according to package directions and set aside.
2. in a medium sauce pan, melt butter and then add flour. stir until bubbly, then cook one minute. slowly add in milk, stirring continually to avoid lumps.
3. add chicken, celery, onion, salt and pepper. cook and stir for 5-10 minutes, until chicken is done and celery is starting to get tender.
4. pour mixture into an 8x8-inch casserole dish. top with stuffing. bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

polka dots & flowers, is there anything better?

here's a sneak peak of a custom order that went out last week (click on picture to enlarge)... an apron collection for a quartet of little girls. all of the aprons are similar, yet slightly different. two aprons were styled after my june apron, named for my grandma, & the other two aprons are what i like to call "diner style" because they remind of what a waitress in a little mom & pop diner might wear. each of the aprons feature my favorite "flower power" fabric on the front, paired with either an aqua & white polka dot trim, or periwinkle & white polka dot trim. all of the aprons are totally reversible, with a solid orange back, "flower power" pocket & polka dot trim.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

are you kidding me?

this is so not the sight i wanted to see. earlier today i ran to the grocery store to pick up a couple of lemons, & when i say "run" i mean literally. can i tell how surprised i was? i really wasn't expecting to find a total & complete lack of lemons. it has never even occurred to me that the grocery store might be out, aren't they supposed to be able to foresee my every whim?

getting my hands dirty.

last week we planted a garden of sorts, thanks to lots of encouragement & help from a few friends. although, from my past experience, i don't exactly have the greenest of thumbs. so, instead of setting myself up for a heartbreak, i didn't get too committed. rather than putting all the effort into a huge garden plot, i've started small... just a lot of pots that have been filled with dirt & my dreams of being able to eat something i've actually grown. the best part, for me anyway, of this entire gardening experience, is seeing how excited the boys are about it & how much they want to help. so when i came across mini flower pots & seeds in the dollar bins at target i knew i had to get them for the boys. so yesterday, gavin, o & i planted tomatoes, sunflowers, marigolds, oregano & zinnias in these itty bitty pots, perfect for my windowsill. i'll let you know how they do. maybe, deep down, i'm a gardener after all.

image via flickr.

can you hear the ocean calling your name?

putting together "hawaii in a box" has been too much fun... i definitely can't do just one! i'm feeling the need to spread the hawaiian goodness a little further. so, i'm please to announce that we have three additional winners. now you aren't winning the "grand" prize... that's reserved for shannon, so think of it more as "hawaii in a big fat envelope." but hey... you don't get to be picky, & the way i see it - any amount of hawaii is a good amount. that being said, would the following persons please email their "particulars" to mary elizabeth, lindsay, and erik&shannon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

i'm preppy, i'm proud & i love me a good argyle.

i've been loving THIS sweater ever since i first saw it. but it's price tag doesn't exactly "fit" my budget. luckily i came across THIS sweater on a recent trip to target, with over a hundred dollars in savings, i knew i had to have it right away. so maybe it's made from 100% cotton instead of "luxurious italian cashmere", otherwise, it's practically the same sweater. who needs j. crew? target suits me just fine.

nymcn wrap up

once again, not your mama's craft night (nymcn) was a HUGE success. (we were crafting into the wee hours of the morning. the last "crafters" leaving around 1:30 am!) i think we've definitely addicted at least a few, if not many, newbies, to the wonderful-ness that is mod podge. (what's not to love?) we seriously mod podged EVERYTHING in sight... tea pots, diaper cases, frames, magazine holders, clothes hangers, tin containers & even a root beer bottle or two! if you've never "worked" with mod podge, you gotta give it a try! just cut up your fabric or paper, slop on a little "podge" & go to town! can't wait to see what next month's installment of nymcn brings. suggestions anyone? (thanks chelsey for the pictures. click on them to enlarge... check out some of the projects up close & personal.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

and the winner is...

shannon, who said:

i'm in... i think the force is strong with me? :)

it must have been, because "hawaii in a box" is coming your way! congratulations! email all your particulars to me at & i'll get your package in the mail!

mahalo! to everyone else who participated... hope you have a great monday!

image via flickr.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

everyday italian.

if every one of giada's recipes taste this good, we may find ourselves eating italian nearly every day of the week. i have to admit that i've had a total crush on miss giada for some time now. she's beautiful (& very well dressed), everything she cooks looks delicious & she just seems like the kind of gal i'd want to be pals with. anyway, forever ago i saw her recipe for baked tortellini HERE, & i've finally gotten around to trying it. & let me tell you, it was yummy. everyone licked their plates clean. i'll definitely be cooking up more of giada's dishes in the future.

giada's baked tortellini

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 lb cheese tortellini
2 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

* or you can totally cheat: instead of all the fresh herbs and a plain marinara sauce use a sauce with herbs. or, if you've totally forgotten that you are all out of any kind of sauce (as i did) use a can (or two) of stewed or chopped tomatoes & add whatever herbs you have on hand (in the convenient little jars i call my herb garden.)

preheat oven to 350ยบ.
lightly oil an 8 x 8" baking dish.
whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend.
cook tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes, drain.
add tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat.
transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish.
top the mixture with the mozzarella and parmesan.
cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt, about 30 minutes.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

it's our thursday ritual.

each & every thursday the boys have swim lessons - often the highlight of their week. and each & every thursday, we stop at our local greasy spoon for the highlight of my week.... grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough, french fries & a large mr. pibb with LOTS of ice. what's so great about this local dive that i insist on frequenting it at least once a week, if not more? they have crushed ice. & for a girl with an ice fetish, that's a dream come true.

because i was bored.

a couple of nights ago i couldn't sleep. but i didn't really want to watch tv... so i thought i'd tackle a couple of craft projects i've been wanting to do for awhile. (click to enlarge the pictures.) i found a pattern HERE for the diaper case. although, if you know me at all, you know that me & patterns... we don't get along so well. so, after attempting to understand what is a seemingly easy pattern, i ended up making lots of modifications & pretty much making up a new pattern, then playing around with my diaper case until i got it just right. after that i moved on to the wipes case. & although i'm sure there are zillions of tutorials out there, you don't even need one. basically, all i did was use mod podge to glue the batting & fabric to the wipes case & then i "hid" the raw edges of the fabric with the trim. presto! chango! i've got me a diaper & wipes case to be proud of.

you could win an all expenses paid trip to hawaii.

although you aren't going to win it here. but don't be sad... i am giving away a hawaiian vacation in a box. all you have to do is say hi (via a comment on this post) & you will be entered to win. aloha! & may the force be with you...

so here are the rules of the game:
* you have until midnight PST on friday, april 4th to enter.
* simply make a comment on THIS post to enter.
* anonymous comments will be ignored unless accompanied by an email address.
* please, just one entry per person.
* the winner will be randomly picked & announced monday.

image via flickr.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

i'm a little tea pot, short & stout.

getting ready for the april edition of not your mama's craft night. this month's projects revolve around mod podge, the featured project being these mod podged tea pots (although we have quite a few other projects up our sleeves). can you believe chelsey saw similar tea pots at anthropologie for $130? ouch! as much as i love my newly mod podged tea pot, i don't think i could ever shell out that much for it! anyway... as always, feel free to craft along from the comfort of your own home!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

why i ran this morning.

so i could eat last night's dessert for breakfast. (i'm hoping there's enough left over for lunch & dinner too.) one night, while we were staying on the north shore, we had bread pudding for dessert. it was so good, we went back the next night for more & then, i even sweet talked my way into a plate for breakfast the following day. ever since then, it's been on mind, so i figured i better make some.

old fashioned bread pudding & vanilla-caramel sauce

pudding ingredients:
4 cups (8 slices) cubed white bread (although i used french bread)
1/2 cup raisins (i don't like raisins, so i always omit them.)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

sauce ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla

heat oven to 350°F. combine bread & raisins in large bowl. combine milk and 1/4 cup butter in 1-quart saucepan. cook over medium heat until butter is melted (4 to 7 minutes). pour milk mixture over bread; let stand 10 minutes.

stir in all remaining pudding ingredients. pour into greased 1 1/2-quart casserole. bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until set in center.

combine all sauce ingredients except vanilla in 1-quart saucepan. cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and comes to a full boil (5 to 8 minutes). stir in vanilla.

to serve, spoon warm pudding into individual dessert dishes; serve with sauce. store refrigerated.