Food from Heaven

Okay, so I don't have a picture {so lame, I know} but I made this Chicken Tetrazzini tonight {by my girl Giada} and OH...MY...HEAVENLY ITALIAN FOOD....this was exactly what I was craving and I couldn't believe how good it was!! I'm pretty sure I passed out because I can't remember all of dinner time. It's a creamy chicken and pasta dish with all kinds of flavor and even a bunch of veggies - you HAVE to try it. For me, it blows the boring Alfredo stuff out of the way. AGAIN...my kids ate it because I chopped up the mushrooms and they had no idea they were there! {how sneaky, aren't I?!}

Um...so is it wrong to be SO mad at Giada for being able to eat all of this Italian food and still be so freaking tiny? She's had a baby already and is still tiny. What the #$%@? That's just not right...


Cooking 101 - Asian Chicken Peanut Lettuce Wraps

Everybody needs at least one Asian dish in their arsenal and this one is NO FAIL! My sister-in-law (the adorable Kristine) came over the night I made these and she woofed it down without taking a breath! Atta girl, Kristine - that's what this family is all about.

AND....can I just tell you the best part about this recipe?! It's SO loaded with veggies and my kids had no idea! AWESOME! It's got a little spicy kick to it, so don't be alarmed - but if your kiddies aren't used to spicy food, they might not touch this. My kids did fine, but you never know.

So...once again this is a recipe I tweaked so I'm going completely by memory. Either way - it's kind of hard to mess this up!

(If you're feeding more than 4 adults, you might want to double the recipe)

4 frozen chicken breasts
1 large carrot
8 whole mushrooms
3 green onions
1 red bell pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 T. oil
1 -2 tsp. sesame seed oil (no substitutions!)
1 head butter lettuce, leaves washed and separated
cooked rice

For sauce: (I got all of this stuff at Wal-Mart, girls - not hard)
1/2 bottle Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce
1/3 c. Asian Toasted Sesame dressing
3-4 dashes soy sauce
1 tsp. dried ginger (or 1/4 tsp. fresh minced ginger)
1 T. rice vinegar
handful of (shelled) sunflower seeds (optional)

Bring chicken breasts to a boil in water with a pinch of salt; cover. Boil for 10 minutes; remove from water and chop finely into pieces about the size of peas.

Meanwhile, finely dice the onion, mushroom, and bell pepper to the same size as the chicken pieces. (My kids DON'T eat mushrooms and they had NO idea this dish had any mushrooms at all!)

Finely grate the carrot; set aside in a separate bowl.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add onions, mushrooms, pepper. Cook 2 minutes to soften. Add chicken and minced garlic. Saute for a couple more minutes. Then add all of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until liquid is reduced and there is almost no liquid left in the pan and the chicken is cooked through. Stir in grated carrot and if you like nuts, I sprinkled sunflower seeds in mine and it was SO good!

**Note: If your mixture is missing something or doesn't taste quite right, you can always add one of two things: a little bit of butter helps neutralize foods, or a small pinch of brown sugar helps neutralize some of the sour ingredients in this recipe.

Serve with a plate of lettuce leaves and your cooked rice - or get creative and cook up some Asian noodles. I used green-leaf lettuce and they weren't strong enough - you'd have to double up on those or use a firmer lettuce leaf.


Sparkly Bead Bracelet Tutorial

I guess everybody wants to make a pretty sparkly because I got so many emails about the one I posted the other day! Great! We all need something sparkly to wear year-round. AND...this is a great activity for the kiddies to do with you. My 7-year-old daughter made a SUPER adorable one-strand bracelet that would surpass those fancy boutique ones.

Now you get to go BEAD SHOPPING and it's like buying wearable candy!! {yay for you!!!} Very addicting!

**Also NOTE: this is a long post with big pics, so if your computer screen is stretched large, try to minimize it a bit, make the screen skinnier, so you can follow the instructions better.

So go gather all kinds of beads in colors you love. Try to get big, chunky ones, as well as medium ones, and even the tiny seed beads. I'm just using what I have here - I have nothing to wear with this bracelet I'm making, but who cares, right?! As long as you love the colors, that's what matters and you'll always find a place to fit the bracelet into your wardrobe - especially if you make a cute necklace or earrings to go with it.

You're also going to need some nylon coated wire, metal crimps, jump rings, and clasps. They should all be in the beading section of your craft store.

Tools you'll need: wire cutters, and needle-nose pliers. I have round-nose pliers pictured here, but you don't really need them.

Cut THREE strands of the nylon coated wire longer than you want your bracelet to be - just to give yourself some room.

On all three separate strands, you're going to put a crimp at the end of each one. Loop the wire inside, pull tight just to give yourself a tiny loop - below.

Using your needle-nose pliers, (or a crimping tool if you have one), squeeze the crimp hard, binding the wire in the metal. Either clip the remaining wire tail or string the beads over the top of it.

Now you're ready to string your beads.

Have fun with it, but as you see in the picture below, make sure you vary the locations of your chunky beads. You're going to braid your three strands together, so you don't want your chunky beads to overlap. Make sure each strand is different in bead placement.

To test your length, make sure you can wrap the bracelet around your wrist and your first and last beads should touch together. You're going to give yourself space when you attach your rings and clasps - it will loosen the bracelet and fit perfectly (hopefully).

Then, add another crimp just like we did in the beginning; clip the remaining tail. If you're super talented, try to feed the wire back down into the beads before you secure your crimp. (it's a major pain for me, so I don't bother...)

With all three strands together, you're going to attach one jump ring to secure them together.

Using your pliers, just open the ring enough to slide your loops inside, as well as your clasp.

THEN - braid the three strands together and carefully slide the ends into another opened jump ring, as well as the other clasp piece. I don't know what it's called - the thing that you hook the clasp into.

And you're done!

Try it on and enjoy your sparkly creation! And when your friends gasp loudly and ask you "where did you get that utterly amazing piece of jewelry?!" you can just smile inside knowing they all desperately want a sparkly pretty and you can grant them their greatest desire. What a good friend you are!


My Yummy Skirts!

So Kadie and I had a sewing day on Saturday and I'm dying from yumminess! Words can't explain how glorious, beautiful, comfortable, and heavenly these skirts are. Notice the wear lines on every single skirt - I didn't even bother to iron them because I need you to see how they've been worn and loved. {aaahhhh!} Could you just DIE?! Aren't they a little piece of fresh heavenliness?! {and they look GREAT on the bod}

Whomever is responsible for this AMAZING pattern over at Altered Cloth, I love you so much. You should totally go on a famous talk show or something.

The thing I love the most about these skirts is that the stretchy waistband can either be rolled up or rolled down - depending on how you like it! These are going to be SO PERFECT for my expansion-ness! If you make one, however, make sure to stretch your knit waistband pretty firm around your mid-section when you measure your width because you'll want it more snug than you think.

Oh, and I had to make a sparkly pretty to match my skirts! I'll show you how when I get some time - SO easy and I love it.

Here's to summer, bright colors, and growing uterusses!


Summery Skirts!

So, um, I'm barely 9 weeks along but I can't fit comfortably into my pants....???? What the? Guess there's more chub on me than I thought FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE. It's summer time and the only comfortable clothes I have are my cookie pants. {scream!!!} I can't wear black cookie pants everywhere because then I'd turn into "Flabby Pregnant Frump Mom" and we all know how socially suicidal that would be. Oh the AGONY.

These women have saved me from unfathomable humiliation and I couldn't be more excited...if only I had more energy, then I'd be ecstatic...

This one here is from Little Birdie Secrets and she got the tutorial here at Altered Cloth. Soft, stretchy knit?! Do you even know how wonderful this looks to me right now?!

This one here is from Make It and Love It and I loved this one so much that I bought the $5.00 pdf pattern from her Etsy store here. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! I'm SO ready to make one!

I'm going to finish out my summer in style and darn it, I'm going to be COMFORTABLE!!! {and cute! hehe!}


Cute Baby Stuff!

I'm always on the lookout for cute baby stuff - and first on my list is the Diaper Bag Diva. ADORABLE stuff there, ladies. There's all kinds of baby gear there and you can get it all matchy-matchy!!! ('cause that's popular nowadays, I hear...) They've actually got a bunch of really cute bags on clearance, too. If you're lazy like me and run out of time to make your friend something for her baby (sorry to my girls out there), just order something way cute from here and you're done! Hey - I'd rather show up with something cute than nothing at all, okay.

Next up - I'm TOTALLY interested in trying these G Diapers out. Kinda pricey, but I abhor regular disposable diapers and I'm not into the whole cloth diaper thing - so maybe this could be a good happy medium?! Anybody out there DISLIKE these so I can change my mind?! What else is there to do? Potty training an infant? Ideally, yes - likely, no. I HATE BODILY SECRETIONS!!!

AND, finally, a huge thanks to Kadie for getting everybody within a 20-mile radius of our town hooked on these amazing Moby Wraps! Oh my gosh - I'm totally buying one! I've seen these in action and they're SO much better than those silly Snuggli things that break your back. Plus, who wants everybody touching your baby?! You just tuck the little one way down in the Moby and you avoid all of those annoying people touching the baby's head, face, and hands - all without the heavy, annoying baby seat we think we need to lug around. GENIUS.

There's just way too much cute baby stuff out there - I need to pace myself...


Monogram Tutorial

So my Fave Crafts link is gone! {aahhh!} SO sorry about that!!! I should have posted the original tutorial on my blog anyway - but I figgered "why do it twice?" So here we are - back to this same 'ol monogram frame - with instructions this time. I'm doing this from memory - so bear with me here.

This is probably the easiest project ever - a child could do it start-to-finish. So here's what I did:

1.) Find a cute font on your computer, type your monogram letter and increase the font size as big as you need it. I'd suggest staying away from curly, intricate lettering - stick with solid, simple ones. Print that out on cardstock, cut it out.

2.) Using the WRONG side of the letter (flip it over mirror-image-like) and the WRONG side of your felt, trace your letter. This way your markings won't show and your monogram will be facing the right way, too. Cut out your monogram.

3.) Iron a piece of fabric big enough for your frame. Using a tiny bit of fabric glue or tacky glue, secure your monogram onto the fabric by putting a little, teeny tiny strip of glue down the center of your letter. You don' t want glue anywhere else because you won't be able to stitch through it, silly. Gently press your letter onto the fabric and let it sit for a minute.

4.) Using 2 strings from some DMC floss or 2 or 3 strings of sewing thread, thread a sharp needle (not the blunt ones). I use the amazing Heather Bailey technique HERE, but do whatever works for you.

5.) Time to stitch! If you have a letter with a circular shape in the middle like "e", or "R" - start on the lower left-hand, inside line of the curve. So you'll stitch the inside edge of your curved section and then move on to the outside edge of the lettering without having to stop. Make sense? Now stitch your letter all the way around.

6.) If you're going to embellish your monogram, cut out shapes - mine was a little birdie - and stitch them on, as well, careful not to create too many layers if you're framing behind glass. If you're not framing behind glass, then pile it on, baby.

7.) Time to frame. Using your frame's glass as a template, cut out a piece of thin cardboard (like from a cereal box) and secure your fabric to the cardboard using spray adhesive or tape on the back. Secure your frame and you're done!

SO easy - now go out there and make a bunch. OH! I almost forgot - you can also make a banner with this technique, too - just sew right sides together with a coordinating fabric, leaving the top open, turn right-side-out, press, top stitch, and string the lettering together using a long string of bias tape.


Busy Summer!

SO sorry for the lack of posting - but it's been a busy 3 weeks! We had visits from in-laws, my husband's brother and cute wife moved in down the street, more visits from more in-laws, and now my house is full of kids and there's nothing except cooking, cleaning, and entertaining little kids. I'm going to be ready for a vacation after my summer vacation!

However! I'm getting SO excited for the 4th of July celebrations and even though I'm not posting anything exciting, there are lots of others who are - so here are some fun 4th of July projects for you.

Check out the Creative Crate - ADORABLE painted flag decor!

Martha Stewart never lets me down when I need a seasonal idea. I'm in love with these Star Medallions here.

And these ADORABLE clothespin pinwheels!