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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Inspired by... quick and easy


I love to cook, but most days I don't have the extra 1-2 hours available to spend in the kitchen indulging in my culinary love affair. As a result, I'm constantly on the lookout for quick and easy, healthy recipes to serve my family.

When you get a request to make the same meal twice in one week, you know you've found a winner!


What's cookin' tonight?



Baked Ziti with Sundried Tomatoes and Asparagus

Inspired by: Cooking Light's Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies, July 2011

4 ounces uncooked ziti (your favorite pasta or gluten-free pasta)

1 T olive oil

2-3 cups asparagus, chopped (coarse ends removed)

5-6 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted and sliced (not oil packed)

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

2 T fresh basil, chopped

2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

3/4 tsp salt, divided

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, optional

1/4 cup (2 ounces) sour cream

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Cooking spray

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. 2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  3. While pasta is cooking, head a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan.  Add asparagus and onion, sauté 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic, sauté 3 minutes.

4. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper.


5. Combine sour cream, remaining salt, and egg. Stir into pasta mixture.


6. Spoon into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.  Yield: 4 servings (serving size about 1.5 cups)




So what's cookin' at your house this week?

I'd love to hear about your quick and easy recipe favorites!





Recipe notes: This recipe is gluten-free if gluten-free pasta is used.  Substitute seasonal veggies for the asparagus and sundried tomatoes. Good subs would be yellow squash, eggplant or zucchini. (This recipe can handle 2-3 cups of veggies proportionately.) Remember, purchasing seasonal produce is less expensive and more nutritional! Kick up the heat by using 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper.


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Nap-Time Creations Tidy Mom

Inspired by... Aslan


Our Texture Tuesday theme this week is orange.

With an orange tabby constantly demanding my attention (I swear he has Siamese in him. The only time he isn't talking is when he's sleeping. LOL!) my "subject" for this photo challenge was pretty much decided for me.

Aslan_Orange I used Kim Klassen's pumpkingrunge texture on vivid light 40% and her youaremysunshine brush.


I encourage you to stop by The Cafe and see what everyone else came up with this week!

Since we're on the subject of Aslan... he recently escaped his halter and did this:



Yes, in case you're wondering, he is at the end of the road, er, branch as far as the top of the tree is concerned. My new grey hairs are all from this precious one.


I don't recall if I've mentioned it before, but we also have a Blue & Gold Macaw named PiliAloha. Hubby thought it would be fun to put them in the tree together.




I had to post this last one, lest anyone reading this was afraid for the bird. Trust me, if anyone is in danger, it's Aslan! (You guessed it! More grey hairs as I worry about Aslan trying to escape the bird and falling out of the tree in the process!)

And, since we're on the subject of orange, here is a LO I did today using Groovy Girl by Designs by Krista.


The caption is pretty much what my brother would say if he saw this layout. LOL! These are a couple of my favorite photos of him and of course I had to include his orange Willy's Jeep!


So, I'm curious, do your pets do anything to give you grey hair?





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kimklassencafe and then, she {snapped}

Monday, August 29, 2011

Inspired by... a mother's heart



Open my eyes, Lord

I want to see Jesus.

To reach out and touch Him

To show that I love Him


As we sang this song in church yesterday, it struck me (profoundly) that we were. We were (are) seeing Jesus.

"Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 19:14)

We are seeing Him, glorified, through the actions of our Pastor and his wife who just received into their home two precious baby boys who they are fostering (to adopt). This is God's answer to literally thousands and thousands of prayers as they have sought God's will for their lives re: children.

We are seeing Him, glorified, through the actions of another "mother" in our church who is fostering a little girl. And who, through recent develops is seeking God's will to move forward with adoption of her and two of her siblings.

My Scripture and a Snapshot today honors these two mothers.


There are 32,000 children up for adoption in the state of Texas. Just.in.the.state.of.Texas!  I don't know about you, but when I stop looking at that as a statistic, a number on paper and think about the individual lives, thirty-two thousand children who haven't known the warmth of a mother's touch or the security of a father's arms, my heart breaks into 32,000 pieces.

When I focus on what God is doing in our church, my heart overflows with hope and thanksgiving. We're a small church, less than 100 attendees. Yet we are making a difference in three (possibly six) children's lives. These three precious babies are now in safe, stable homes and have a church family who will love and pray for them, for the rest of their lives.

Something to pray about: there are more than 32,000 churches just.in.the.state.of.Texas.


Open my ears, Lord

And help me to listen.

Open my eyes, Lord

I want to see Jesus.


I think it's important to be reminded at times that the issues that make the front page news on a regular basis are not necessarily the issues Jesus would care about if He walked the earth today.

He does walk the earth today. In the hearts of Believers.

What are we listening to? What are we caring about?

What are we doing about it?

I invite you to join me in opening my heart and ears to listen to what God is calling me to in my life and what He is calling you to in yours.




Credits: "Open My Eyes, Lord" by Robert Cull; texture used on photo: crackerjack, by Kim Klassen


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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Inspired by... serendipity


Welcome to another...


I hope everyone had a great week!  Mine got a little hectic toward the end, but that's okay because it was due to the first unexpected and wonderful thing I want to share with you this week!

My Pastor and his wife  have been praying for the perfect opportunity to adopt and that opportunity came this week in the form of two precious little boys!  So there was suddenly a baby shower to prepare for! Whoot!  I can't share with you what I made just yet (I'm sure the new mamma is far too busy to read this 'ole blog, but still, it's only right that she see it first!) but I'll be sharing the cuteness with you next week!

You may remember when I shared my Lemon Cake recipe with you that a friend had loaned me her Kitchen Aid mixer and I was looking for excuses to bake.  Well, this week she arrived at my home with another "accessory" for the mixer.


The BOW is the new "accessory" !!!  She decided to give me her mixer! Wow! I'm still in shock. I'm completely thrilled, and yet deeply humbled by her generous gift. It's not nearly enough, but, thank you, Susan. (And I hope I got my comma usage correct in that sentence!)

I may not have won the Raspberry Artisan that Sweetopia was giving away, but truly, this is so much better!  I will think of, and be thankful for, my dear friend every time I use it!


Finally, it's always unexpected when the babies fledge!!


Baby #3 was born about 4-5 after his brothers (no, I don't really know their sex, but don't they just look like boys?) and it was so cute to watch his big brothers hide and protect him whenever the big, bad human came near!

Swallows_3Babies I can't help but crack up every time I look at them.  Their markings make them look like little frowning bandits!  I will enjoy my last few days with them.  Soon they won't be returning to the nest.

Of course, I'm not the only one who's been watching them...

Aslan_Door There is so much "cuteness" at my house, I can hardly stand it sometimes!


What serendipitous finds did you have this week?




Thursday, August 25, 2011

Inspired by... moss

I saw this post on Thrifty Chick in May and fell in love with the 'mossy goodness!'
Our mantle/fire place is constructed of limestone and I just knew a chunky moss letter with look fabulous against the creamy yellow and brown tones.  I decided to go with a bit smaller, medium size letter, since I wasn't intending to dominate the space.

There it is on the right... I really love how it turned out!


I used rolled moss, rather than sheet moss. The rolled moss was the perfect width for the front of the letter. It has a lot of wire in it, so it's more difficult to cut, but the wire makes it easer to form.


If you've ever worked with moss (of any kind) you'll know how messy it is. For this project, I actually didn't mind the mess, because I used shedded the moss to cover the places where the wire showed through more than I liked. Worked great!  I liked working with the rolled moss. It was very easy to seam together.


I couldn't resist adding this little guy, from my stash. He looks cute perched up there, don't you think?


I like the way the letter personalizes the space. You should be able to find letters in several different sizes  and materials at your local craft store.  I have some ideas for using letters in other parts of the house that I will (hopefully) be sharing with you soon!

Right now this mossy M is adding just the right amount of texture and color to our mantle. And I think it will work in well with some of the fall decor I have planned.  Despite the fact that our summer has been unseasonable hot and dry, I'm still resisting the mad rush into Fall. (I realize I am in the minority here)


What about y'all, in a hurry for Fall?

Seen anything around blog land lately that you've been dying to make?

Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear!


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Tidy Mom

Inspired by... making it fun {freebie}


A couple of months ago at our Women's Ministry luncheon we learned how to (de)bone a chicken.

Let me pause to assure you that culinary procedures are not what we normally, uh, discuss at our Women's Ministry meetings. We are normally mining the scriptures and growing in the Word. Occasionally however, we venture into more hands on, creative activities. Such was the case this day.

And this lesson was most assuredly hands on! (I volunteered to take notes) The rest of the ladies got to follow along as another member of our church took them through the process. (there was more than one naked chicken in the room)

You will thank me that I have no pictures of this shocking display of raw flesh.

I do however, have the step-by-step process for you, as a free (fun) printable, today:


Click on the image to get the full-size printable, then right click to save it to your computer. It is formatted to print on letter size paper (8.5 x 11)

Kit used: Master Chef by Trixie Scraps


After boning, the chicken can be stuffed with your choice of ingredients (rice, vegetables, etc.) and roasted. Once cooked you'll be able to slice the chicken, just as you would a loaf of bread! Since purchasing a whole chicken is cheaper than boneless chicken, this is a very economical way to feed your family.

This method of boning is also used when preparing Turducken, a dish which consists of a boned chicken stuffed into a boned duck stuffed into a boned turkey (can you imagine!). What could be more fun that setting the turkey in the middle of your Thanksgiving table and watching the look on your guests faces as you begin to carve!

Roasts of nested birds have been around since the 18th century, but in this country Turducken's roots are decidedly Cajun! (Which just makes it that much more fun, don't you think?)

I first learned about Turducken when doing research for one of The Books. Sometimes you just never know where a story might lead you!

Have you ever made Turducken? Or had the pleasure of eating one?

What about boning chicken? Up to the challenge? or do you already use this method to save money?






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HookingupwithHoH Somewhat Simple Tidy Mom

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Inspired by... doodles


Hi everyone! Happy Wednesday!

I've seen quite a few bleach pen T-shirt examples floating around blog land lately. But when I saw what Kim over at Take Your Vitamin C did to her shirt, I was hooked.

Doodle_Tshirt Don't you just love her free-hand doodles! So talented!


I'm not nearly as talented as Kim (seriously), but I love the idea of personalizing t-shirts this way. We had a couple of shirts my hubby had purchased that ended up being too tight in the shoulders for him. (Yup, he's the broad-shouldered type!) The shirt is huge big on me, but I figured it was a good one to try my test run on.  I Googled "doodles" to give me some visual inspiration, and here is what I came up with:

Bleach_Tshirt_Front Front




I'm still learning how much bleach to use, how long to leave it on (I let my dry before washing) and how much it will spread, etc. But overall I'm pleased with my first attempt. I think it would be fun to use the bleach pen with stencils. Maybe even do this on some (sale!) fabric (with or w/o a stencil pattern) and then make it into pillows, or even a skirt! I saw on one blog (TT&J) they were stenciling on fabric with paint (the new Martha Stewart colors, no less!) and then making pillows, so why not bleach patterns?

Why not, indeed! I think I'll try it!

Played with a bleach pen lately? How about stenciling on fabrics?

I'd love to hear what you're up to this week!





PS I've got a fun (cookin') freebie for you tomorrow! Be sure to stop by and check it out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Inspired by... textures



I think this is only the second time in my life that I've pulled together a group of objects with the express purpose of photographing them. I had a lot of fun with this!

This week's Texture Tuesday challenge is 'Back to School' using at least two Klassen textures. I used 123 (hardlight 78%) and Stamped Softly (multiply 47%), then masked some of the apple back in.   

Although the majority of the world seems to be going back to school this week, there is nothing remotely back to school-ish at my house. Except maybe this apple and ruler!

For those of you who do have kids going back to school, know someone who does or are just interested in school stuff, here are a few of my favorite back-to-school posts from around blog land:


Ruler Wreath from The Polkadot Chair



Back to School Treat from The Blackberry Vine



Teacher Gift from WhipperBerry



If you had kiddos in your house going back to school, or starting school for the first time, I'd love to hear about some of the things you did to make it special and exciting!


Whatever you find yourself doing this week – do it with JOY!




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