Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sketch #5

Have fun!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hello, world!

I posted a few pics from our ultrasound last week on our family blog if you want to take a look. Here's a peek at one of them: five tiny little fingers waving hello. :)

Marinara Sauce

I'm sure y'all will start noticing that one meal that comes up repeatedly in our lineup is spaghetti. We absolutely love spaghetti with marinara sauce around here. LOVE it. I used to always think twisting open a jar was the only way this meal could be easy, since I had the impression that homemade sauces required hours of tending and stirring. Not so! Over the course of the last year or so, I have worked to develop a recipe for the best homemade marinara sauce possible. After lots of experimenting, this is the one I think I will stick with for the long haul. It is lively with a depth of flavor that belies the fact it only takes a little over an hour to make (with only about 15 minutes of that being active cook time!).

A tip: don't skimp on ingredients. Buy the best canned, WHOLE tomatoes you can find. I love these by Cento. Also, if you can locate it, the Italian tomato paste you buy in a tube is not only absolutely wonderful for its rich flavor, but it is also so much more convenient than having to pop open a can to take 2 tablespoons and leave the rest to spoil at the back of your fridge. (Haven't we all be there before?)

Amy's Marinara Sauce

1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
1/3-1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 (35-oz.) can whole tomatoes
2 tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper (optional)

Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions, and saute until golden, about 8 minutes. (Don't rush this step! Onions that are golden, and not just translucent, impart so much delicious flavor to the sauce.) Add garlic and carrots, and saute 2-3 minutes more, until garlic is fragrant and carrots are slightly softened.

Add wine all at once to the onion mixture. Boil, stirring constantly, until wine evaporates almost completely, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. (At this point, your mixture should be very thick, with the wine/paste thoroughly coating the onion mixture.)

Add tomatoes, basil and oregano to the pot, stirring well. Using a potato masher, crush the tomatoes until sauce is fairly smooth in consistency. Season with salt and pepper. (You can also add some crushed red pepper at this point if you desire.)

Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until sauce is considerably thickened. (It is important not to cook the sauce too fast here; a slow simmer, with just a slight bubbling at the surface, will help the sauce reach its best consistency.)

This recipe can easily be doubled, and leftovers can be frozen in Ziploc baggies to be thawed for quick weeknight meals. Serve with your choice of pasta, and enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Menu Monday

The theme for this week? Easy peasy. Matt has a lot of business travel coming up, but I am going to try really hard not to do my usual and settle for the drive-through routine while he's away. Wish me luck!

Monday - Venison Loin with Twice-Baked Potatoes and Broccoli (We were too exhausted from working in the yard to make this on Saturday like I had originally planned!)
Tuesday - Chopped Steaks with Mashed Potatoes and Peas
Wednesday - Shortcut Beef and Green Chile Enchiladas
Thursday - Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with Potato Chowder
Friday - Frozen Pizza
Saturday - Spaghetti with Salad

This week's groceries are already bought and put away. Love that! I've started a little tradition of picking up a bouquet of flowers to have on the kitchen table each week, and I just had to share this pic of last week's selection. These were the most gorgeous grocery store flowers I have ever had! Stargazers make my heart happy since they were the star flowers in our wedding. :)

Have a great week!

Friday, April 24, 2009

She Would've Adored You

This page was based on one of my sketches for the Sketchapalooza class. I was so happy with how it came out. My Mammo passed away in 1995, but I want to pass her legacy on to my kiddos. Isn't it incredible that scrapping allows us the power to link generations?

I hope everyone has a great weekend planned!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The cat is out of the bag!

Matt and I went in for our big ultrasound this morning, bound and determined not to find out the baby's sex. Actually, we were really laid back about the whole thing, feeling really comfortable and excited about the prospect of waiting till delivery day for the big news. When we walked in for the appointment, the first words out of my mouth were that we didn't want to know the sex. The tech was very receptive to that, and we got everything started. I looked away every time I even suspected the tech was venturing to an area where I could inadvertently see something I didn't want to, and Matt was really great about it, too. We were so good! The scan went very well, and the baby (just one baby!!) is measuring perfectly and looks very healthy.

I got settled back on the table for the second half of the scan after I was allowed to go potty (ooooh, I had forgotten how miserable those 40 ounces feel on a pregnant bladder!!), and the tech commenced to take a few measurements before she started to go over in more fine detail with us what all we were seeing. It is always such a miracle to see those little hands and fingers, feet and toes, and the little heart already pump-pumping along with arteries and veins reaching from one end of the tiny little body to the other. Life is such a precious gift! Buuut, as the tech was pointing things out to us, instead of saying "the baby's" head, or "its" head, she slipped about 8 times and said the gender-specific adjective! At first we thought it could be a fluke, but it soon became pretty apparent the cat was out of the bag. In spite of the slip-ups, the tech genuinely thought the sex was still a big secret when it was all said and done. (She really was a very nice person!) It is protocol at the clinic to send a detailed report of the ultrasound (which includes the sex of the baby) to the obstetrician, so when the tech handed me the envelope to deliver to him, Matt and I both conceded that to "know" with 99.9% certainty what we are having but not to really know would be pretty silly in the grand scheme of things. So, we looked, and it confirmed our hunch. I am thrilled to announce (although I have to say I am more than a little disappointed that the big reveal is now and not a few months down the road) that Jack and Charlotte will be welcoming a brand-new baby


some time in September! A boy and two girls...what a wild, wild time this is going to be! :)

Oh, baby!

There has been a true baby boom among my group of friends of late, and I am finally getting around to putting together some goodies for all of the new little ones. My sewing machine has been quite handy for this purpose! I can't get enough of making these little onesies and coordinating burp cloths. For the onesies I wanted to go with a shabby chic feel, so I opted to leave the edges unfinished as I sewed the layers together. These are absolutely addicting!

In the process of making these, I discovered the coolest way to use my stamps in a fresh way! There is an ink made by Tsukineko called Versa Craft that is permanent on fabric once it is heat set. I found a couple of my stamps that would be perfect for baby, and voila! A terrific accent for these little jewels.

I love this little elephant! I free-handed the shape on a sheet of chipboard to use as my pattern.

Something girly. :)

Burp cloths using Gerber cloth diapers. These couldn't possibly be easier to make!

They are fully lined on the back, with a little bit of trim along the bottom front edge.

And speaking of babies...we will be leaving for our big ultrasound to get our first peek of baby Tres in just a couple of hours. I would be lying if I said I wasn't harboring a slight feeling of terror over the prospect of hearing there are baby Tres and Cuatro in there! More details are sure to come!! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

All through the house

I've been mentioning lately how many little projects I've been tackling here and there for the last few weeks. I finally got around to taking a few pics today!

Weekend before last, I repainted our bedroom in a slate blue/grey that I absolutely love. Amazing what a coat of paint can do to freshen up a room! This photo isn't the best, but it can give you a bit of an idea.

Living in a 20-year-old house has its challenges. The place is old enough to have its little quirks, but it's not old enough that those quirks would be considered charming. ;) Our bathroom was a total mess when we moved into this house. I wish I had had the foresight to take a picture before I started the total renovation project I took on a while back (a year and a half ago...ahem), but here are some of the after photos. We still aren't totally done yet, but I have to say I am really, really pleased with how far we've come. We changed out all of the fixtures, put in new floors (who on earth puts carpet in a bathroom, anyway?!), tore down five (!!) layers of wallpaper down to the drywall to texture and repaint, put in new mirrors and hardware, and, finally, I repainted the cabinets during Easter weekend. Anyone who saw our bathroom before can attest that this has been a huge project!

Spring in Arkansas is absolutely glorious, and we love to spend as much time outdoors as we can possibly manage enjoying the mild days before the summer heat ensues. I decided to make some outdoor pillows to make our outdoor furniture as comfy (and attractive, if I do say so myself!) as possible. There are many sewing projects that wind up being more expensive than just going out and buying the ready-made product, but this was certainly NOT one of them. For all of the supplies for these pillows and the supplies to make about five more with a coordinating fabric, I spent $75! That means I will have spent less than $8 for each of these once it's all said and done. Not too shabby!

I think my nesting instinct has started early this time!!

Sketch #4

Wednesday is here again, and that means it's sketch time! I am really finding myself drawn to distinct linear boundaries on my pages lately, and this sketch is a great example of that. I find adding clean lines with strips of paper, stitching, ribbon and other trims really helps keep the composition of a page clean while also adding an interesting visual element to the mix.

Happy scrapping! And don't forget to share your pages in the comments below so we can all enjoy your work. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stir-Fried Beef, Broccoli, and Yams

This recipe is another discovery from this month's issue of Bon Appetit. I was instantly drawn to it because of the incorporation of sweet potatoes (a family favorite around here) into an Asian recipe, and I have to say I was very happy to have given it a whirl. It is absolutely delicious, and talk about easy! (I was able to find the oyster sauce in the Asian food section at Kroger.)

Here is a link to the recipe on, and I will also post the recipe in its entirety here. Enjoy!

Stir-Fried Beef, Broccoli, and Yams
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons oyster sauce*
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 1-pound flank steak, cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil, divided
4 cups broccoli florets (about 8 ounces)
1 8-ounce yam (red-skinned sweet potato), peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger

Stir first 4 ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set sauce aside. Place beef in large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cornstarch and toss to coat.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large wok over high heat. Add beef mixture; stir-fry until no longer pink outside, about 3 minutes. Transfer beef mixture to medium bowl. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add broccoli, yam, and ginger. Toss to coat; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add sauce. Cover, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add beef mixture. Toss until sauce coats beef, about 1 minute. Serve.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Monday

I'm trying really hard to get into the rhythm of a schedule again. It seems like I never truly got back into a groove after Charlotte was born, and now that Baby Tres is on the way (which, by the way, it simply cannot be moving toward the end of April already!), I know that it's time to get my act together so I don't go into a total tailspin come September. So, as much as I've come to loathe a rigid schedule (I used to thrive on them, but boy did having two small kiddos change that!), I am working on making some changes for consistency in what I plan out for each day of the week. Monday is grocery and my big laundry day, Friday has become my cleaning day (I love a clean house for the weekend!), etc. It is amazing how much more at ease I feel after just a couple of weeks!

So, since I'm back in planning mode, I thought I'd start sharing our menu plan each Monday. I know I sometimes hit a rut when it comes to what's on tap week after week, and I know I can't be alone in that boat! Here's this week:

Monday - Vegetable-Quinoa Pilaf with Salad and Crusty Bread
Tuesday - Lamb with Mustard-Cream Sauce, Asparagus and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Wednesday - Spaghetti with Salad and Crusty Bread
Thursday - Beef Stroganoff with Peas and Salad
Friday - Homemade Pizza with Salad
Saturday - Grilled Venison Loin with Grilled Zucchini and Twice-Baked Potatoes

One thing we're going to try to do is eat more vegetarian meals, especially as the farmers' markets open this week and fresh produce will be so abundant.

A recipe I've been going to a lot lately for breakfast is for delicious oatmeal pancakes that Stacey Lokovic shared on Feeling Scrappy a few weeks back. We all love them around here! And with Arkansas strawberries on the brink of readiness, I can't wait to serve those pancakes with fresh berries in the coming weeks. Yum!

By the way...there is a fun blog party going on this week to celebrate two years of Feeling Scrappy, so you should all venture on over. I know I will!

Just three more days until our big ultrasound on Thursday morning. We are still staying strong in not wanting to find out if Baby Tres is a he or a she, but any stay-strong vibes you can send our way are greatly appreciated!! :)

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A recent discovery

Ok. I am now on a sewing kick. A wanting-to-sew-every-spare-minute-I-can-manage sewing kick. I haven't sat down at my scrapping desk since before our trip to Florida (!!), but I have managed to put together lots of home decor items (photos to come soon - I promise!) as well as to paint our bathroom cabinets and repaint our bedroom in the most soothing shade imaginable. I have never loved my bedroom before, but I really think I might be on the right track this time! It is still a work in progress, but you can be sure I'll share here when I am finished.

But. Back to sewing. Hunting for some project ideas a few nights ago, I stumbled upon the most charming little blog. There are so many project ideas, it will make your head spin. Trust me: after a half hour of looking through these archives, even if you're not a seamstress, you'll fancy yourself one! :)

Sew, Mama, Sew!

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sketch #3

Wednesday is here again, and that means it's sketch time! This week's sketch is nice and simple, with opportunity abounding to add your own personal stamp to the design. I hope you enjoy working with it as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Big Boy Bed

I love using up scraps from my stash. This layout, which is based on one of Stacy Killion's terrific sketches for the Sketchapalooza class, gave me the opportunity to do just that. I had such fun with this one! Jack is so proud of his big boy bed, and it is even more special because the bedding on his bed once belonged to his cool older cousin, Blake.

I hope everyone's week is going well so far - and that you haven't forgotten tomorrow is Tax Day! :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hoppy Easter!

Aren't these two adorable? There are lots more photos and details on our family blog...check it out!

He is risen, just as He said!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

1. Anonymous...something I wanted to be yesterday when Jack decided to tell the salesman at Payless his bathroom was really dirty.

2. Life is a Highway. (Better known in our household as the Lightning song)

3. Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, and then have a glass of wine.

4. Planting lots of happy flowers is what I look forward to most about spring.

5. Who needs therapy when there is chocolate?

6. Reese's eggs MUST go into the Easter Basket!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to doing some deck-sittin', tomorrow my plans include planting lots of happy flowers (see #4), and Sunday, I want to rejoice that Jesus is ALIVE (and eat some candy, too ;)!

Good Friday to all of you, my friends!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pork Chops with Leeks in Mustard Sauce

I thought I'd share another of my recent recipe discoveries, this one from the May issue of Bon Appetit. We love pork around here - more, really, than beef or chicken or fish. Emeril has always been absolutely right: pork fat rules! ;)

So when I saw an entire section devoted to pork recipes in the magazine this month, I was truly excited. This recipe immediately caught my eye, and I have to say it is, without a doubt, the most amazingly delicious pork recipe (and possibly one of the best recipes for any dish) I have ever put in my mouth.

If you haven't had any experience before with leeks, you really must give them a try. Their delicate onion flavor adds so much depth to any number of dishes, as is evidenced by the mustard-leek mixture here. Absolutely mouth-watering!

One tip when working with pork: don't overcook it. Americans tend to think pork has to be served well-done like chicken, but that really isn't the case. Cooked to medium with a slightly pink center is the preferred preparation in our household, but I know many folks like to eat their pork medium-rare. And I promise it's all completely safe. ;)

I will attach a link to the recipe on in addition to posting the complete recipe here. Enjoy!

Pork Chops with Leeks in Mustard Sauce

4 1 1/2- to 2-inch-thick bone-in heritage pork rib chops (our grocer didn't carry heritage pork, but conventional chops worked just fine)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
Olive oil (optional)
4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

Pat chops dry with paper towels. Mix 2 teaspoons coarse salt, thyme, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle seasoning mixture on both sides of chops. Let stand at room temperature 1 to 2 hours or wrap and chill up to 1 day.

Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until crisp and lightly browned. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to small bowl. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chops to skillet. Sear until brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to small baking sheet.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons drippings from skillet (or add olive oil to make 3 tablespoons). Add leeks and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add brandy, then broth and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return bacon to skillet; add sage and stir to blend.

Nestle chops in leeks in skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer 3 minutes. Turn chops over. Cover; simmer until thermometer inserted into thickest part of chops registers 140°F to 145°F, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chops to platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm.

Spoon off any fat from cooking liquid in skillet. Boil until all liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Whisk in mustard, then crème fraîche; do not boil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over chops.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sketch #2

Happy hump day! Just in time for the mid-week blues, a new sketch to help jump-start your creativity. As always, please share your gorgeous pages here if you use this or any of my other sketches. I garner such inspiration from all of you - and I just might have to share your creation here! :)

By the way, thank you for the input you shared on the last sketch and any you share on this one. I will certainly take all of your tips and put them to good use!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You Gotta Wear Shades

This page, another I created for Sketchapalooza, makes me smile. The colors are even more vibrant than I usually go for (and that's really saying something!), but Charlotte in those sunglasses really called for something WOW. :) Nearly 100% of the supplies here are from various Scarlet Lime kits.

In other news...dear me, I have been a sewing fool for the last two days! I've made five outdoor pillows for our deck and patio (with plans for another five in a contrasting fabric) and a new valance for our kitchen. We have French doors leading out to our deck that have been in dire need of a serious makeover since the day we moved in (four years go - good gracious), and I have plans to make some matching valances for each of the doors to cover the rolling mechanism for some new shades I ordered yesterday. There is something about spring that always kicks my project queue into overdrive!

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Herbed Spinach and Goat Cheese Strata

This recipe came from this month's issue of Relish Magazine (mine arrived with my paper just yesterday). When I saw it, I knew instantly it would be incredibly delicious. Every member of this family is a huge fan of goat cheese, and seeing it combined with so many other luscious ingredients sounded way too good to pass up! This would make for a great brunch, but I prepared it for supper tonight, and it was very satisfying as a vegetarian meal option. I served it alongside roasted asparagus and a green salad. Is it sad to admit I'm already eyeballing it for leftovers tomorrow?!

One tip: Don't skimp on the bread here. The Ciabatta (a rustic Italian-style bread) recommended really does make the recipe.


Herbed Spinach and Goat Cheese Strata
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt, divided
Coarsely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed rustic bread, such as Ciabatta (about a 1-pound loaf)
1 cup crumbled goat cheese (6 ounces)
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2¾ cups 2% reduced-fat milk
8 eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Place thawed spinach in colander and squeeze out excess water. Chop finely.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in spinach; remove from heat. Toss bread cubes, spinach mixture and cheeses together in a large bowl. Place mixture in a buttered 13 x 9-inch baking dish or 3-quart gratin dish.

Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard and herbs. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Pour evenly over bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight. (I only refrigerated for 4 hours, which was perfectly adequate.)

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove strata from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and bake, uncovered, about 45 minutes, until puffed, golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Serves 10.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


This is another of my creations for the sketch class. I loved these photos of Jack I captured during a completely impromptu photo session in January. You just have to love a little boy in his undies and boots! :o)

In fun news, I was chosen as the featured gallery this morning in the gallery walk currently in progress at Each day, the moderator of the discussion chooses a different gallery to feature so people can take a stroll through and comment on fellow artists' work. It was such a fun surprise to hear the news that she had chosen to feature my gallery! To further sweeten the deal, one of the ladies from liked one of my pages so much (and the fact that I had linked some of my products back to their store) that she decided to send me a little RAK! So all-in-all, it's been a good day scrappy-wise. :)

I am feeling the need to do something craftsy, but I just haven't had a chance to sit at my table since before our trip to Florida. Maybe this weekend! I would love to sneak in some time while the kiddos are at Mothers' Day Out today, but since I have an appointment with my OB this morning, I doubt it will happen. I'm looking forward to hearing this little one's heartbeat's been a long time since my first appointment all those weeks ago! (I am already 15 weeks along - wowza! September will be here before we know it.)

Happy Weekend Eve!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Something new - Sketch #1!

I have found myself lately becoming somewhat of a sketching fool. At all hours, in all locations, you are very likely to find me with a pencil in hand scribbling like a madwoman on a piece of scratch paper. I decided today to finally make an effort to organize the little collection that's been mounting on my scrap desk, and I have to say that I had an absolute blast creating these little digital versions of the images that have been dancing through my mind. My goal is to share one of these news sketches here each Wednesday, just one addicted scrapper to another, with the hope that you can find some inspiration when you visit my place.

So here you go: the first of what I hope are many sketches that I'll be sharing with you! I would absolutely love to see any of the pages you create with this sketch, so please don't hesitate to share.

Find beauty in this day!