Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pretty Brown Paper Packages

Pretty Brown Paper Packages

It has always bothered me that when I send a gift in the mail I have to wrap it in brown paper with no bows and decoration or I need to wrap it in an extra large box and put my gift wrapped box inside a larger box. One day I noticed this pretty printed brown paper at the dollar store, so now I always keep a stock pile of different prints on hand so that I can wrap my gifts fancy when I send them in the mail. It makes the artist in me feel much more satisfied. 

I then wrap the box as I would normally wrap a parcel with brown paper. I use lots of clear packing tape on all of the seams and edges. Instead of bows I find flat stickers and die cuts to decorate the box to suit the recipient of the gift. I use lots of tape to keep the stickers in place as well. I either tape the card in place with the address or I use a piece of paper. I have a collection of bakers twine that I can choose from to tie the parcel. 

This is such an easy way to make your package look as special as whats inside. Some printed brown paper, a few stickers, scissors, clear packing tape, and bakers twine and a little imagination. Happy Shipping. No more boring packages. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Upcycled Dog Treat Jar to Chalkboard Labeled Storage Container

Upcycled Dog Treat Jar to Chalkboard Labeled Storage Container

Before I say anything let me say how thankful I am to have my own computer back. It died on me about a month ago....right after I said I would be posting on a regular basis. I tried to use my iPad and that just did not work at all for me, and I tried to use my husband’s computer. By the time I got all of my files and programs available and figured out how to get it to work I was just down right frustrated. I am just so thankful to be back to my old trust worthy. But it is probably time to start looking for a new trust worthy one day. Thank you Trina for fixing me up, you are awesome.
I do not know about you but every year as soon as the holiday decor comes down I the New Year and spring bring on that urge to start cleaning and organizing the home. Whether it is downsizing or taking what is there and repurposing. I found this large container that came full of dog bones that turned out to be the perfect size for a bag of wild bird seed. This would be a good time to introduce my grand dog Hank. He is a Great Pyrnees, Wolf and Husky cross. He weighs in around 100 lbs. 

Hank, sneaking on the couch when Grampa is not home. So big he takes up half of the couch.

My youngest daughter moved back in with him last year, and we are just glad she is in a safe place for now. My husband and I buy him lots of treats and my daughter buys his food. Hence the great big bone container that his treats come in. Hank is a big dog, but he thinks he is a lap dog. As dog grandparents we make sure he has his daily quota of dog treats, and what Mom doesn't know about won't hurt either. This is one of my first creative organizing projects for spring this year. I have been fighting a really bad case of vertigo, so I am trying a little at a time, but I am not able to do as much as I would like to. With spring coming I am feeling like I need to get ready for the wild doves that like to hang out around my house.

Original 1 Gallon Dog Bone Container 

 I love to feed them so that they stay around my yard. I do not want an ugly plain container hanging out at my front door. Besides I am feeling a little creative urge. I dug into my scrapbook supplies which ended up being my next few projects. 

Chalkboard Paper from Walmart comes in Fushia, Black, and Green

Assorted Tools Used, Double sided Taper, Glue stick, liquid glue, scissors, Chalk marker

Rhinestones (from dollar store), die cutes (from walmart)

I ended up the next week cleaning and sorting all of my scrap booking supplies. Which brought on a new frenzy which you will hear about in a later post.
So let’s get back to my project. It was so simple. I found a package of chalkboard paper at Walmart which was the base of my design. This gives me the ability to change the contents of my container. I added some paper trim that wrapped around the container, and some florals that added some interest. 

Pre cut Diecuts make great embellishments. I chose to use a bird and a couple of florals. 

I used the card board to cut the corners round on the chalkboard sign in the center. 

To bring the contents to the forefront I added a large bird graphic. The finishing touch is to write your contents on the chalkboard label with a chalk pen. So simple, it is finished at least for now until I decide to change the contents. 

To find a font that you would like to use for your label, just look online, or freehand one like I did. I practiced a little on paper first and then I jumped in, knowing I could erase it and start over again if I did not like it. How I love chalk.
My finished container.
The finished container as you can see has two full page decorations around the top of the jar. I then used a couple of flower embellishments on the jar. One on the front and one in the back where the page decorations joined. I applied the blackboard sign and added a few die cuts to it as well. It has a couple of rhinestones on it for highlights.  The best thing is if I change my mind and decide to store something other than birdseed I can just rewrite the chalkboard sign and I have a newly labeled container.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Broccoli and Mushrooms

Side Dish of Sauteed Broccoli and Mushrooms

We often concentrate on the main course of a meal as the most important component of our meal. I find it nice sometimes to make my vegetable side dish extra flavourful to bring my meal up a few notches. This particular dinner was on an average busy day when I was tired and wanted to make a quick and easy meal. I made boiled baby potatoes and chicken breasts baked in the oven, seasoned with salt and pepper and Italian seasoning. Very simple. But I wanted the meal to come up a level. So I prepped my broccoli and mushrooms to be sauteed.

2 cups of broccoli cut into equal size florets
2 cups of white mushrooms sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
1/2 cup of chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil

Add olive oil to a large saute pan. Heat over medium high. Add red onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and the chicken broth and cook until the broccoli are soft. Do not burn the garlic, as this will make it bitter.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

This is a very simple dish but the flavours of a sauteed vegetable served with a meal rather than the usual boiled or steamed fare is just so nice. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Honey Glazed Chipotle Spice Chicken for A New Year

For the past four days I have been working at getting my second blog post ready for the new year. Unfortunately I have met with that fate that most of us most dread when it comes to the cyber world. My computer crashed and for the last for days I have tried to get it to reboot with no success. Alas I have had to borrow my husbands computer until I can get myself back up and running. Of course it takes time to get yourself set up to use someone else's computer and to adjust to a new format. My husbands computer is a Microsoft touchscreen and it took me a while to find my way. Luckily I took a couple of pictures of the recipe that I wanted to blog to you about on my Ipad otherwise I would be pulling out my cooking pans again too. Please ignore the quality of the photos as this is all I had left and I was thankful I even had these.  I am a little late getting this recipe out to you now as it was served in our home on New Years Day but it will be wonderful to have any day of the year, as long as you enjoy a little extra spice. I thought about skipping this but the chicken was so good I did not want to do that either.

I wanted my meal to be based lightly on Mexican flavours, without being an outright theme. The Honey Glazed Chipotle Spice Chicken is the central Recipe of the dinner. I then served it with premade taquito's from the freezer aisle of the grocery store, store bought homemade salsa, my own homemade guacamole, garlic butter fried prawns, and a vegetable of broccoli stuffed in tomato's roasted in the oven. This dinner was very easy to make and left me free to enjoy our company and to play games with everyone else on New Years Day. If you have ever tried the store bought taquito's you will probably be happy with the store bought too. I am sure homemade are probably better but they are very easy and pretty good. I always make my own guacamole, it only takes a few minutes and the homemade tastes much better. 

Honey Glazed Chipotle Spice Chicken

Serves 4 to 6 servings

4 - 6 Chicken Breasts
1\3 cup liquid honey
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried chipotle
1/2 tsp dried lemon peel
1 tsp mild Mexican spices
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Mrs Dash
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Clean and pat dry with paper towel the chicken breasts. Line a baking pan in a parchment or foil lined baking pan (to make cleanup easier). Place the chicken breasts in the pan. Brush the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a microwave safe bowl mix together the remaining spices, seasoning and the honey. Microwave for one minute and then let it sit to blend the flavours. When the chicken has cooked for 20 minutes brush it with the glaze with a pastry brush. I prefer the new silicone brushes myself for cleanliness. Keep adding more glaze for the next 10 to 15 minutes until your chicken is done. Serve with your accompaniments.

Disfrute de su comida. (Enjoy your meal - according to Siri)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year 2016 Resolution for a New Year

As the new year begins I have challenged myself to get back to posting on my blog anew again. I lost my way for a while when I lost my Mom, but I am feeling my creative self coming back. I can say with all honesty to all of you out there if you still have a Mom, spend as much time with her as you can even if she makes you mad, because when she is gone you will be very lonely for her. My husband and I have both lost our Mom's so we have no one to give a Mothers Day Card to, No one to ask for cooking advice from, No one to kiss our pain to make it go away. No one to buy us clothes we hate at Christmas, but we come to cherish those things over the years. On a better note one of the ways I decided to remember my Mom is with a Christmas Ornament. Every year my Mom would get me a beautiful Christmas Ornament for my tree, so this year I bought one in her name to put on the tree.

It brought tears to my eyes, but it meant the world to me too. Do you have traditions that mean a lot to you. This is a picture of the ornament I got this year.Our tree has always meant a lot to our family as you can read about in this post about our family tradition that circles around our tree that I posted in 2014.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All of my Readers & My favorite Christmas Tradition
I am looking forward to getting back to writing. I recently took a photography course too and need to practice what I learned. Time to pull out the notebook and practice what I learned. I got a new lens for my camera for Christmas, apparently I should be able to see a bump on your cheek across the street. Not quite how it was worded to me but a girl can have good manners right. I really need to practice blogging as this short little piece has taken me hours. I had it all ready to post and went to find the pictures and I had not saved the writing and everything was deleted and I had to start all over again. Frustration. I am sure as I get back into it I will get faster again. The words my Mom would have used save, save, save. Bill and I shared a very quiet New Years Eve ie: we set an alarm for 11:45 just in case we fell asleep, leaving just enough time to share a bottle of champagne. The cork wouldnt go back in so we had to finish the bottle. On New Years Day, we watched movies for most of the day and I planned a nice menu for dinner. I tried a new recipe that I was very happy with the outcome that will be shared very soon. My next post will be my recipe for the chicken we had on New Years Day, spicy and sweet Honey and Habanero Glazed Chicken.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Grilled Cheese with fried tomatoes; a knife and knife necessity

First I want to apologize to my readers for not posting for so long. I have been on survival mode for the last 6 weeks. It started with a bad fall with my daughter’s dog and has progressed to a cracked molar that abscessed severely. I had a root canal done two days before Christmas and then it abscessed more. By Christmas I was in severe pain. Of course I had to take antibiotics which in turn have their own side effects. I ended up with a yeast infection that I could not treat due to the antibiotics and then a bladder infection. I am now back on antibiotics as I still have a little more abscess in my tooth. But this time the pain is manageable. Needless to say I did not gain any more weight over Christmas for a change.

Since the early days of my life I remember by Grandmothers cooking.  A few of her extra actives were, cooking, fishing, telling stories, and more cooking. She would sit and read recipe books for days on end, looking for the perfect recipe. Some of her recipes came with her from her own childhood, and from her family. Taking Grandma to the fresh markets was like watching a kid in the candy store. She would get so excited over beautiful baby beats to make pickles. I know it bothered my mom when we showed up with bags of baby beets, tomatoes, mini onions to make pickled onions. She loved the fresh green beans and the giant cabbage. It really did not matter what the price was or that Mom had to work (She just loved buying vegetables. I loved taking her there and seeing how joyous My Grandma could get. It is always a happy time when you see someone doing something they love. I sure miss my Gram and our visits to the farm markets. Gram loved to teach cooking too all of us too, Even my friends. I have a very special friend who my Gram took under her wing to teach table etiquette. My Gram loved her too. Every week she would invite her over for dinner. She would set a full table and train her in the fine art of eating with manners. My girlfriend’s parents never had time to teach their children manners and many other life skills. A lot of this blog post is about cherishing what you have in life even in the simple things.              
My Gram with her dessert at the end of a seafood feast

My Gram also enjoyed a good serving of fresh shell fish. Lobster, Crab and Spot prawns. In this picture you can see her love of good food in her facial expressions. A little while before my gram passed my sister and I took her out to dinner at a restaurant that used to cook seafood to order. They were able to get a couple of pounds of fresh spot prawns for us, so we ate prawns till we dropped. We have some great pictures from that day.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Tree Trimming Party

Welcome to our very first Christmas tree trimming party. This is collaboration from across many miles. From Canada, the United States to India and France. It is with great pleasure that we invite you to enjoy our selection of Christmas recipes. You will find recipes for breakfast, appetizer, dinner and dessert. You cannot go wrong with a vast selection like this.
My name is Sarah and I’m the French one here ;-) I am delighted and excited and very happy to be part of this Christmas! I blog at The Cook who Photographed and I recently switched my diet to a vegetarian one.  I invent recipes, which are mostly vegan or vegetarian and gluten free. I try to feed myself with healthy organic foods, home grown or local grown foods. I study intellectual property law along with being a food photographer. I love cooking too and all I wish is to communicate my passion for good and healthy food. I come from France, a country where food photography is not as popular as it is overseas. I work with Stock Food and maybe some day, I’ll be able to host workshops and feed my family thanks to my passion.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Tumblr (pretty much everywhere).

Hi I am Anu and my blog is www.easybitesonline.com . Although our beliefs are different, we as a family definitely enjoy the holiday season and Christmas day. As soon as lights go up in the neighborhood, the festive spirit and anticipation of the celebration begins! My daughters love decorating the Christmas tree, writing to Santa and await eagerly for their presents. My younger daughter who is 6 for sure believes in Santa and insists on placing a snack and a carrot in the kitchen ready for his visit :) There have been times when either myself or my husband are at work and therefore don't get to become involved with any happenings. If otherwise however, we tend to invite friends over for dinner, since our families live in India. 

My dishes I'm presenting here are - vegan, gluten-free beverage and dessert - Persimmon Banana Smoothie and a Raw Persimmon Tart. I am so excited to be sharing this with you all. Determining the dishes which had to be vegan and gluten-free was a challenge, however I do hope you will enjoy my dishes. Merry Christmas to you all! Let the party begin!

Please find the links to my recipes below: 

Hello, I am Jayashree from India. I am extremly happy to be part of this party again. Thank you Cherie Chalmers for bringing these events. I am a foodie and I love cooking and trying my hand at new dishes. Its been four years since I started my writing journey. After writing on various sites, I now have my own website www.evergreendishes.com  I also write poetry and a few poems have been published.

Here is the link to my Christmas cutlets recipe

Hi, my name is Laurie Barrie and I have been gluten free all my life. I am a wife, mom, and grandma and love cooking up yummy recipes in my kitchen. I am sharing an appetizer and a dessert for your holiday delight. My first offering is gluten & dairy free honey teriyaki meatballs in the shape of a Christmas tree and my second is a gluten & dairy free dark chocolate cupcake with candy cane whipped frosting. Please stop by my blog at http://www.glutenfreeyummy.com and stay a while. Life's too short to eat bad food, so let's cook up something yummy!

Here are the links to my recipes, enjoy

Merry Christmas my name is Cherie and I blog at www.cheriesforgetmenots.com. I welcome you to our Christmas Tree Trimming party. I have organized this post for all of us as I love Christmas and I am very excited to share our recipes with you. I had plans for more recipes but life got in the way, so my contribution is gluten and dairy free Mint Christmas Tree Meringues and a Chocolate Mint & Raspberry Deconstructed Pavlova Parfaits. As I sit here enjoying my own tree I wish you many memories while you put up your own. Some traditions are just so important to our lives
You can find my post at the following link.

Thank you for joining us this Christmas; I am sure we will be back at a later date in the new year for another special event in our lives. Are you looking for recipes for your Christmas Dinner. Please check out our collaboration from Thanksgiving at the following link.

Have the merriest of Christmas Seasons from Cherie, Jayashree, Laurie, Sarah and Anu

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Tree Meringues and Deconstructed Chocolate Mint & Raspberry Pavlova Parfaits

One of my favorite things about Christmas is to put up our traditional tree. Each of us has a box (or two) of ornaments that we put on the tree. The ornaments are each a remembrance of something special from the year. I search everywhere until I find an ornament for my girls. We started this tradition when my Mom gave the girls a set of porcelain baby shoes for the tree the year they were born.

Each year that has followed I have searched for an ornament that told some of the story of their year. Such as the year my daughter Mandy was in the school play of the Twelve Days of Christmas, she also requested a glass ornament that year because she was a big girl now; I found her a glass pear for her that year. My daughter Trina wanted to be a ballerina when she was little so she got a ballerina. Later she started figure skating and so she almost always gets a pair of skates. After 20 years of skating our tree has many sets of skates and skating dolls. This year I found it very hard to put my ornaments on the tree as my Mom has given me a beautiful ornament every year. With her loss in the spring it made me cry while I put those ornaments on the tree. You can read more about or christmas tree tradition here.
I still like to make the tree decorating night as special as possible, and that is where the idea came for a tree trimming party. I am happy to share this tradition with a group of my blogging friends. I had originally planned on three recipes for this post, but I had a nasty fall this week which has slowed me down and did not allow me to manage so many recipes. The goodies for this year’s tree trimming became a little easier. I used a mix from the store to make my hot apple cider and hot chocolate from a can. The appetizers ended up being premade from the store. Just pop them in the oven. I did manage though before my fall to make my sweet recipe of gluten and dairy free mint meringue Christmas trees. They are great by themselves, but I took them a step farther and made them into deconstructed mini Pavlova Parfaits. I still have a whole platter of meringues for the remainder of the season. I hope you enjoy my addition to the Christmas season.

Mint Christmas Tree Meringues Recipe
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup of berry sugar
½ tsp of cream of tartar
1 tsp of mint extract
½ tsp of Christmas green gel food colouring
1 pkg. of pearl or silver cake decoration balls
1 pkg. of mini star cake decorations

Preheat the oven to 250 F, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of your electric mixer add the 4 room temperature egg whites. For the best volume make sure your bowl is clear of any grease. It is also important to make sure there are no yolks in with the egg whites. Beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar a 1/3 of a cup at a time. You want the sugar crystals to dissolve into the egg whites. Once the sugar has been incorporated, you can add the mint extract and the green food colouring. Beat until the egg whites are glossy and very firm stiff peaks are formed. Pinch as small amount of the mixture between your fingers to ensure that the sugar has completely dissolved into the egg whites.

When the whites are done mixing place them in a large piping bag with a ½ inch large star tip. Pipe the mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheets in a tree shape. 

Start with a 1 inch circle on the bottom and make your circle smaller as you go in a spiral motion to create a tree shape. Leave a ½ inch between each tree to allow for the meringue to expand while baking. Top each tree with a star and add little round cake decorations randomly to represent decorations.

Bake the meringues for about 45 to 60 minutes or until they are dry and cooked through. They should easily lift off of the parchment paper. Check them often to keep them from browning. If they begin to brown turn the oven down a little and increase the baking time. When they are ready turn the oven off and allow them to cool completely in the oven. I like to leave mine to cool in the oven overnight if I have time. Once they are cool store them in an airtight container. Makes 36 to 48 depending on the size of your trees.

You can make them without the mint extract if you wish too. Or you could do ½ of them with and half without.

Mini Deconstructed Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova Parfaits

Once you have prepared your meringues you can use them to create a wonderful mini Pavlova. I made chocolate whipped cream and used frozen raspberries in mine, but feel free to express yourself with yours.

Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe

1 tbsp. cocoa powder, sifted
3 tbsp. berry sugar
1 cup of whipping cream
½ tsp of vanilla extract

Add the whipping cream to the bowl of your electric mixer. Sift in the cocoa powder to prevent lumps. Whip until the cream begins to thicken. Add the vanilla extract and add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. If you over mix the whipped cream you will make chocolate butter.

1 recipe of chocolate whipped cream, prepared
½ cup of frozen raspberries, thawed
Four to six Christmas tree meringues

Add two large spoonful’s of chocolate whipping cream to the bottom of your parfait glass. I used a tall wine glass for mine. The only thing wrong with a wineglass is that it is difficult to get the ingredients in without making a mess of the container. I had to wipe the rims clean when I was done. Add a layer of broken meringues and a little more of the whipped cream. Add a layer of raspberries and finish the parfait with more whipped cream. Fill the top of the container with whole Christmas tree meringues. Refrigerate the parfait until you are ready to serve. This will soften the meringue layer. Enjoy.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A preprinted Santa doll comes to life

I found an adorable preprinted Santa doll at the second hand store. It was almost all put together, but all of the pieces were included. He was missing his legs, but they were sewn and stuffed just waiting to be attached. I very quickly sewed on the legs which were one of the few missing pieces. For some reason I am addicted to finishing unfinished sewing and stitching projects that end up at the second hand store. I find many needle points that are 3/4 finished, and things like this cute little Santa. I could have attached his legs and called it a day but I find the preprinted panels are just asking to be adorned with extra touches.

It was very nice that I found him for all of $1.00. I thought he would be perfect as a Christmas doll for my granddaughter and grandson.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Timing for a perfect Dinner Party

It’s great to have great recipes for a dinner party, but one of the hardest things about cooking a large meal with multiple courses is keeping the timing right. You want your main course done at the same time as your side dishes. You want your appetizers done in time to sit down with your guests seamlessly before your main course.

I always find with a large meal like Thanksgiving