Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's for dinner?

Isn't that the question that every Mom in the world gets! 

I work all day outside of the home as well as blog and help kids with school projects etc.  I am lucky enough to have a spouse who is very supportive and helpful but when I get home at 4:30 I still get the hey what's for dinner question. 

I 'try' please note I said TRY here.. I try to have a meal plan scheduled ahead of time.  I've even done that service where you pay $25.00, bring your Ziploc bags and in an hour you make 5 days worth of meals.  I've been to home parties where you bring your meat, chicken etc. buy the spices from them and Ziploc it all together for the crock pot.  They are great in theory but it falls apart on me after a couple of weeks.  I do try to grocery shop with a meal plan but sometimes even that goes to HE double toothpicks in a hand basket quickly.  Or I get the, "I don't want that or I don't like that." 

I do have some 'go-to's' that I use when all else fails and this recipe is one of them.  It is quick and easy, which is what I love the best.  Even my picky eater loves this one, (and isn't THAT a bonus!).

You will need the following:

Chicken - I cubed mine
Italian Seasoning - or any spice of your liking
1 jar of Alfredo sauce - your choice of brand (I used Paul Neumann)
Bacon - you can use bacon bits or real bacon that you cook
Noodles - any kind you wish

De-thaw your chicken
OPTIONS - I've done this both of these ways.... you can stir fry the chicken in Italian Seasoning (or other spices), OR you can boil the chicken in Italian Seasonings and chicken broth or cubes. 
Either way - cook your chicken thoroughly.  Then either cube it or shred it.

While the chicken is going, cook your bacon - I cook mine in the microwave.  Then tear it up into small pieces.  Cook as much or as little bacon as you want. 

Also while the chicken is going,  cook you noodles per the package instructions.

In a large pot dump the jar of Alfredo sauce in and place on low. 
When the bacon is done add all but a handful (to be used later for garnish) to the Alfredo Sauce. 
Add the cooked chicken to the pot
Add the cooked noodles to the pot
Stir well and cook till the Alfredo sauce begins to boil.
Serve with the remaining bacon as a garnish.

I love this recipe because it is fast and easy and you can substitute sausage, kielbasa or anything if you aren't a bacon fan.  You could use meatballs or shrimp instead of chicken.  I will also change the seasoning based on the meat I'm adding, so if I make this with meatballs I may add a dry steak seasoning, shrimp I add Old Bay.  Oh and as always, add salt and pepper to your taste. 

I will serve this with warm bread, rolls or garlic bread.  It is delicious. 

Let me know if you try this and how you like it. 
Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great weekend.  Stay safe. 

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Monday, April 28, 2014

The great American West

I hope everyone had a great week last week.  My mini vacation was to say the least, AMAZING! 

I live in Colorado, along the front range which is east of the mountains where they meet the plains.  Still it is not spring here just yet.  I live in what is considered Alpine Desert.  High enough in elevation a bit over a mile high yet far enough south that we are more dry.  Spring comes late here at 6800 feet above sea level.  I live at the base of Pikes Peak (America's mountain).  Where a woman, Katherine Lee Bates, visited and when she came down from the mountain she wrote a poem and called it, "America the Beautiful". 

I can tell you that the mountain is simply beautiful and I enjoy looking at it every day.  Today it is covered in snow.  Yes snow.  Still not spring here yet.  Anytime of the year is a good time to visit Colorado, there is something for everyone during every season, (heck we can have all 4 seasons in one day!).  But spring is a great time to visit the southwest corner of the state, aptly named Four Corners as it is the only place in the continental US were 4 states meet.  This is part of the 'Grand Circle' of the southwest.  If you go farther south into Arizona or New Mexico you get a hotter and drier climate all year round.  But again, spring is a great time to explore this area. 

I was asked by a client to take some photographs of the American Southwest for postcards and I jumped at the opportunity.  I have always wanted to see Monument Valley, Arches and Canyonlands National parks and The Grand Canyon so I was very excited. 

The first problem was time.  I only have a week and my husband wanted to camp and do some biking and 4 wheeling in the Moab, Utah area so we limited our trip to Monument Valley, Arches and the Moab area.  If you ever get a chance to see these areas I highly recommend it.  Beautiful and simply stunning scenery awaits you.  I promise that you will feel like you are in a John Wayne movie (many were filmed in this area) and the grand scale of everything is amazing.  This is what people think of when they think of the American West and it won't disappoint.  CAUTION!  you are in the desert - make sure that you have plenty of water (even in the spring and winter!) as we have a VERY dry climate.  Sunscreen is a must all year long.  I would also not venture a visit in the middle of the summer.  It was 78 every day we were there in April and in the desert the temperatures can easily rise to over 100 in July and August. 

Now, on to the pictures.  I hope you enjoy them! 
First up is Monument Valley.

And yes, I stood in the middle of the road....

Monument Valley is on Navajo land and it is only $5.00 to get into the park and get the view up close.

This viewpoint is called 'John Ford overlook'.  John Ford was the director of many westerns that starred John Wayne and were filmed in Monument Valley.  One you may remember is the opening of the movie, "Indian Jones and the Last Crusade"
 Yes, that is a real man and a real horse out on the bluff. 
The dirt road into the park can be done by a car but the Navajo's also have open air trucks that will take you. 
Monument Valley has been on my 'bucket list' for a long time and it didn't disappoint! 
The next stop on our tour was Dead Horse Point State Park.  Not widely known but spectacular.  I picture The Grand Canyon to be like this just deeper and wider. 

 See that off-road down there... way down there....
 This picture is the quintessential picture from Dead Horse as the Colorado River meanders and carves the canyon. 
Pictures do not do this place justice. 

Next is Arches National Park. 
This area is called Park Avenue because of all the tall walls.
 This is the Windows area of Arches
 You can see how large they are - do you see the people! 
This arch below is called Landscape Arch. 

And finally - Moab where we bikes and road 4-wheelers and camped and relaxed a bit.
Moab is known for Slick Rock and other Jeep only trails where you climb over the rocks with either your bike or if you are really brave your Jeep. 

 We climbed a set of rocks and watched vehicles traverse the dirt roads to other trails - see if you can spot the vehicle in the photo below. 
Yep, I climbed the big rocks and looked north...

 Then east - these are the La Sala mountains in Utah. 
And finally we watched the sun set.

All in all a great time. 
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Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good mid-week.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Door decor

I have hung many things on my front door over the years, mirrors, plates, baskets of flowers and the occasional wreath to name a few.  I think your front door should be welcoming and let guests get a glimpse of what lies inside.  I think of the front door like the cover of a book.  It should look interesting so that the guest will want to read the rest. 

For spring, I currently have a wreath made of willow branches and decorated with hydrangeas and ivy on my front door. 
You can get the directions on how I made this here....

I love the wreath but decided I wanted something different for the summer months coming. So I made this...

I had a real difficult time with the 'D'.  I glued it on, it fell off.  I hot glued it on, it fell off.  Finally I came up with using a bit of ribbon and stapled it to the back to get it to stay.  That sucker isn't going anywhere now. 

You will need:
A piece of canvas.  I used flat canvas that came in a 3 pack. You could use any kind. 
Faux flowers
Ribbon of your choice - I chose light beige and dark brown
An initial
Scrapbook paper of your choice
2 strands of pearls or other embellishments
Modge Podge - or glue and water mixed in equal parts
A sponge to paint the 'glue'
Hot glue gun & glue

I chose all my colors to coordinate with one another.  You can choose anything you like.

Step 1 -
I took the initial and traced it out on the blank side of the scrapbook paper.  So upside down and backwards.  When you flip it over right side up the color will be in line with the letter.

Step 2 - Cut your letter out.
Step 3 - Using Modge Podge cover the wooden letter with the glue.  (Modge Podge is just white glue and water mixed in equal parts).
While the 'glue' is still sticky carefully place the scrapbook paper down on the surface.   Try to line it up as best as you can.  Doing this while the glue is still sticky makes it easier to work with. 
Step 4 - Using the glue paint the scrapbook paper.  This will give it a shiny look and protect the paper.  Don't worry if the paper buckles a bit you can flatten that out as you go.  The glue will dry clear.
Step 5 - Now you need to embellish your canvas.  I used pearls.  You can use any kind of jewels you like and in any color (s), the options are endless.  I used a craft glue that dried clear.  To get it fairly evenly spaced I glued my pearls on all four ends, then in the middle on each side.  Then I took half again and so on. 
I did this all around the canvas until I was satisfied with how many pearls I had on it.  I used 2 strands. 
Step 6 - I decided that I wanted to put pearls on my initial as well.  I have a really hard time with Modge Podge - it always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS buckles on me.  So to hide these imperfections I put pearls on the initial. 
Step 7 - After the pearls fully dried and the glue was clear I hung my initial on the canvas.  This is where I got stuck for 2 days.  I used craft glue, the initial fell off, I used hot glue, the initial fell off... I was almost ready to throw the project away when I came up with the brilliant idea to just hang the initial with ribbon.  BRILLIANT! 
I measured out how low I wanted the initial to hang and looped the ribbon around the back of the canvas and stapled the ribbon to the back.
Step 8 - Next I pre-arranged my flowers.  I laid out where I wanted them to be and how I wanted them.  Then I hot glued them all down.

Step 9 - I then made a long loop with the ribbon for hanging.  I stapled that ribbon to the back of the canvas as well.  I also made a bow as I thought it just looked finished with the pretty bow. 
Here are my directions on how to make a bow...
That is it!  I really love it.
If you have any questions on how to make this, just drop me a line!  I'd be glad to walk you through it and answer any questions you may have. 
I really like this idea with the canvas.  You could frame a smaller picture and hang it the same way.  The ideas could be endless. 
This will be my only post this week.  I am taking a little vacation and going to see Monument Valley AZ - a place I've been wanting to see since we moved west 20 years ago!  I can't wait.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy week.  I'll be back next week and sharing pictures from my trip. 
Stay safe!
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It's April and it is still snowing....

Well that is my excuse anyway.

Today I was 'supposed' to show you a cute little front door plaque that I am making out of flat canvas, a wooden letter, some pearl beads, flowers and craft paper.  Problem.... I can't get the wooden letter to stick to the canvas.  I tried craft glue - the letter is too heavy.  Now I am on to hot glue.  It is a present for my In-Laws that I plan to give them on Easter Sunday so I must finish it this week.  I am hoping to have this resolved tomorrow and can share step by step on Friday... we will see! 

In the meantime  - oh yes, it is snowing here in Colorado.  It turns out that April is our snowiest month along the front range.  We normally don't get 'spring' till mid-May.  I don't plant anything outside till at least after Mothers Day otherwise I risk losing it to the snow and cold. 

I do have planting plans.  I have a nice size garden in our backyard.  I have Dalia's and wildflower seeds to plant, as soon as it stops snowing at least.  For the front yard I want to make some planters for the front porch and possibly create a path through my front lawn to the sidewalk....
I'd love to do something like this -

Aren't these beautiful!  The problem is I bet they take a lot, a LOT of time to do.  I don't think I am that patient. 
We will probably end up with something that is more realistic like this...
I like it, simple and it will go with our house..

So it is still snowing here, didn't I say that already?  Yep snowing. 
Now to the point of this post. 
A few weeks ago I was in Home Depot.  I've been eyeing a Martha Stewart sunburst mirror and it is now on clearance.  Get it while you can!  Anyway I saw these great bulbs in a large pot.  They were blooming already but the hyacinths, tulips and pom-pom daffodils were just beautiful.  I was talking with the bulb lady there (did you know that the folks in the garden center aren't permanent HD employees?  Nope they work for a nursery that each HD brings in with the flowers).  Anyway, I was chatting with the bulb lady and she said that I can make the already bloomed bulbs think they have been dormant and get them to bloom again. 
I was intrigued. 

This is what she said to do.
After your blooms are spent -

 Remove them from the soil
Next -  cut off the ends and a bit of the bulb itself.  The opposite end from the root system.

Then place them in a paper bag and put them in your refrigerator for at least 3 weeks.  After that re-plant them, give them plenty of water and sunlight and they will bloom again.  The bulb lady said that the cold and the cutting will make them think it is winter and when you replant and they get water and sun they will think it is time to bloom. 

Mine are still in the refrigerator - I'll keep everyone posted on how it goes.  I won't be able to plant mine outside till mid-May.  In the meantime my daughter keeps asking me why there is a brown paper bag full of dirty bulbs in our refrigerator! 

Next week I will only have 1 post as I'm taking a little vacation to see Monument Valley.  I can't wait to see it in person. 
Thanks for stopping by!  I will keep everyone posted on how and if the bulbs re-generate and bloom again.

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