Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bigz Die, Embossing Folder, and Clear Stamp Set Storage

I was in Target a couple days ago and saw these cute media boxes.  I bought these two, intending to use them to organize my Nestability die cuts.  But when I started playing in my craft room, I realized they were a perfect fit for my Bigz Dies, my embossing folders, and my Stampin Up clear stamp sets.
I know you can't tell from the neatly organized boxes, but I really DO hate organizing!  I actually find it completely paralyzing.  But, I always feel better after I do a bit...........even though "a bit" is usually in VERY small doses (unfortunately).  One of these days I would love to be totally organized, but not sure if that will every actually happen.
These were the last two butterfly boxes our Target had, so tomorrow I'm road tripping to another Target in hopes of finding two more.  Still need to store those other die cuts (Nesties and Quickutz).
Hope my little idea will inspire someone out there in blog land. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Halloween Gift Bag by Hero Arts

Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce

I made this dish last week.  It is simple and easy to pull together on a school night.  Plus, it is yummers.  I used ground buffalo, instead of ground beef, and you couldn't tell.  If anything, I like the buffalo better.  Hope you enjoy this if you make it at home.

*From Food & Wine


  • 1  tablespoon(s) cooking oil
  • 1   onion, chopped
  • 1  pound(s) ground beef
  • 2  cup(s) canned chopped tomatoes, drained (from one 28-ounce can)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/2 cup(s) store-bought or homemade pesto
  • 3/4 pound(s) medium pasta shells
  • 6  ounce(s) mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup(s) grated Parmesan

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Oil a large baking dish (about 9 by 13 inches).
  2. In a large stainless-steel frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the ground beef and cook, breaking it up, until the meat is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Drain off any excess fat.
  3. Add the tomatoes and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pesto.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the shells until just done, about 10 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce. Put half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with half the mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining pasta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Bake until bubbling, about 15 minutes.
  5. Wine Recommendation: This robust dish with its meat and tomatoes calls for a gutsy red wine from Italy. A Chianti Classico Riserva's medium body, dried-cherry flavor, high acidity and moderate tannins will fill the bill perfectly.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spiced Sweet-Potato Cake with Maple Brown Sugar Icing

This blog post should probably be titled, "Sift your powdered sugar like your momma taught you!"  For realz.  As you can tell...I did NOT.  I thought I could skip that step.  I mean, really...who sifts their sugar?  Apparently...everyone, lol.  OK, I will next time.  I hope you enjoy the recipe on this beautiful fall day.
*From November, 2000 Bon Appetit (but I made a couple adjustments)
  • 4 8-ounce red-skinned sweet potatoes(yams)
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/2 t cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract


For cake:
Pierce sweet potatoes with fork. Microwave on high until very tender, about 8 minutes per side. Cool, peel and mash sweet potatoes.
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray, then generously butter pan. Sift flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Measure enough mashed sweet potatoes to equal 2 cups. Transfer to large bowl. Add sugar and oil to sweet potatoes; using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Beat in vanilla. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes. Using small knife, cut around sides of pan and center tube to loosen cake. Turn out onto rack; cool completely.
For icing:
Sift powdered sugar into medium bowl. Stir brown sugar, whipping cream and butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Boil 3 minutes, occasionally stirring and swirling pan. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour brown sugar mixture over powdered sugar. Whisk icing until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Cool icing until lukewarm and icing falls in heavy ribbon from spoon, whisking often, about 15 minutes. Spoon icing thickly over top of cake, allowing icing to drip down sides of cake. Let stand until icing is firm, at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eli's 3rd Grade Science Project

I thought it would be fun to show off Eli's 3rd Grade Science Project on my blog tonight.  He was required to find at least 6 insects, label them, and put them on a nice display.  He wrote three of the labels, and I helped with the rest.  He has a hard time with hand writing, so I am allowed to help if he gets tired. 
The insects are in a shadow box.  I bought some Styrofoam and cut it down to size.  We had to insert the foam upside down because there is glass on the other side of the shadow box, and it just wasn't quite deep enough.  It would have squished the bugs if it was right side up.  PLUS, it is 3rd grade, and it doesn't have to be perfect!
The Cicada Killer and the Praying Mantis were caught in our backyard.  All others were caught in Fort Scott.  Matt and Eli caught the insects.  The scorpion is not an insect, but we thought it was cool, so we mounted it anyway.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Holidays Card Workshop by Hero Arts @ Archiver's

Hero Arts Stamps:  Hanging Christmas Ornaments, Joy to All, Merry Christmas Trees, Sending Holiday Cheer, Starry Night; Ink:  Ranger Tinted Embossing Pad, VersaMagic Green Tea, VersaMagic Royal Blue; Embossing Powder:  Ranger Bridal, Ranger Gold Detail, Ranger Lettuce, Ranger Roman Gold, Ranger Snowflake Tinsel, Ranger Silver Detail; Copic Markers; Paper:  Bazzill Coconut Swirl, The Paper Company Shimmer Cardstock (Antique Gold, Arctic Gold, Arctic Snow, Bluebell, crimson, Kiwi); Stickles; Mark Richards dots and gems; Glossy Accents; AC Ribbon; QuicKutz dies; Corner Chomper (deco); Krylon gold and silver leafing pens

I took the Holidays Card Workshop (by Hero Arts) class at Archivers night before last.  These 4 cards were designed by Archiver's.  All I did was assemble, emboss, and color!  It took 2 hours to make these cards.  Most of the time was spent on the ornament card and the gingerbread house card...lots of coloring.
It was a great class!
A very cool thing I learned was embossing with two different embossing powders on one stamped image.  I never thought to do that before.  (Note the tree on the LH side of the tree card.)  I poured "lettuce" embossing powder in the middle of the tree...shook the powder off...then poured Roman Gold embossing powder on the top and bottom of the tree.  Very cool.  The other thing I learned was outlining two of the cards with the Krylon pens.  I probably won't use this trick at home.  Can't decide.  Yes, it looks elegant.  Plus it is very easy to do (and dries super fast).  But I'm a little concerned the look is too "hand-purchased stationary".  I like things to look home-made, of course!
I think my favorite is the ornament card.  I love white on white - plus I love the Glossy Accents!