Crafts ~ Recipes ~ Our New House ~ Book Reviews

February 23, 2012

Random Photo of the Week, 2

Another random animal photo.


1. Obviously, Griffin,the German Shorthair, is just being nice to Cat (yes, his name is Cat). Perhaps Cat was having a bad day.

2. Cat is loving this extra attention. Although I don’t think he could get away if he wanted to.

3. That blanket was probably crocheted in 1990. Thanks Grandma, Griffin loves it.

February 21, 2012

What to do tonight ? Make Apple Dumplings of Course....

I like to experiment. With recipes. I will try just about anything I have at least half the ingredients for. Tonight I had a bag of apples sitting on my counter....meant to bait a porcupine, but that is another story for another time. If you ever have a snoring porcupine take up residence under your hunting shack, just email me, I've already done the research for you.

Anyway...Tonight I made Apple Dumplings from a random recipe I found. It required the peeling and coring of 6 medium apples,

Then I made a basic pastry crust, wrapped the apples, and put them in a too big pan. Note: if you are going to attempt to recreate these, you must must must must must use an 9x9 pan. Not a 9x13. The smaller pan will keep the juice juicy. Or something.

Don't be scared of the pastry dough was very easy. Some good parchment paper will help as well. This was the finished product after 35 minutes in the oven at 400*. In the future, I will cover these for the first 20 minutes. Also, I will cook them in a smaller pan to enable the juice to remain juicy. Juicy enough or not, they were awesome and even better with ice cream.

Here is the recipe, complete with my after cooking experience modifications.


2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk

Cut together in a mixing bowl until it forms a soft ball. Place 1/2 the ball on a large square of parchment paper, roll out flat, cut each half of the dough into three equal sized squares. 

Peel and core 6 medium apples. Wrap in dough, pinch dough together at the top. Place apples in 9x9 pan. Preheat oven to 450*.

3/4 cup honey
3 TBSP butter
1 TBSP shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl. Melt in microwave, stir well. Pour over top of apples. Cover apple pan in tinfoil, do not seal edges of foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover. Bake remaining 15 minutes. Devour.

Linked with : A Bowl Full of Lemons,

February 19, 2012

Griffin is 5...

Our baby is 5. Let's take a quick trip down memory lane.

We purchased Griffin in the Spring of 2007. Doug had wanted a German Shorthair pup forever and ever. I had only ever had labs. Doug won, because of how unbelieveably freakin' cute pictures of German Shorthair puppies were. We did some research, decided that Shorthairs were family friendly, trainable, and smart, and called a few numbers. Then we waited. Waited. and Waited. Until he was finally seven and a half weeks old, at which point, we drove three hours and picked him up. And proceeded to fall in love.

He was so adorable.

Just look at that face.

                                                                       And that bottom.

                                                      He was just so clumsy and adorable.

                                                              Then he started to get bigger...

                                                                       And just as cute.

                                                          Then he GREW....

And she grew : )

And now he is just our 5 year old old old man. Who likes to nap. Alot.

Now this post makes me want another German Shorthair. He was just so cute. Happy Birth-month Griffin!

February 18, 2012

My Clothes Have Never Been Washed in Tide.

I apologize for the complete randomness of this post. I just watched a Tide commercial and it got me thinking. My clothes have never been washed in Tide. Ever.
Growing up, I was the oldest of four girls. My dad was a teacher and my mom worked odd jobs at random shifts. We were got by. As we got a little older, my mom got a regular job and things got a little easier for my family. As we got older however, we just got more expensive. When I went to college, I couldn’t afford Tide. I opted to spend my money on other things, things that don’t really belong in this post.

Now that I’m married and it’s just my husband and I, I could probably afford Tide. I could probably afford new furniture. Thanks to my wonderful upbringing, I have never even thought about buying Tide, though I frequently think about buying new furniture. Thank you, parents for instilling in me a stinginess that I will never outgrow. Thank you for teaching me to save money and for the difference between need and want.

I have nothing against people who use Tide. This is not a Tide-bashing post. It is simply an observation. Take it for what it’s worth :) .

February 16, 2012

Random Photo of the Week

I love this picture. I think I took it last Spring.

Random Photo Observations:

1. Our cat (truly it’s Doug’s cat) really believes in the depths of his soul that he is a dog.

2. Our dogs tolerate our cat because he is legit.

3. This is the scene on our porch any given morning. They wake up, they do their business, they come back and watch the world go by for awhile.

4. This is their best behavior.

5. Our lawn needs (needed) help.

6. I really believe that our cat was the inspiration for the movie Puss N’ Boots. Just ask my sister.

Oh the joy of pets.

February 9, 2012

Bad Blogger, Good Bread

Bad blogger. Busy blogger is more like it, but whatever. 

No excuses, however, can I just mention how extremely excited I am that I will be done with school in August. Done. Over. Completed. CAN’T. WAIT. 

Anyway, I’ve been busy. That is no excuse, because there are no excuses here. However, I need to get back into a rhythm. A routine, so to speak. I have heard that those exist.

What have I been doing lately. Anyone out there who can remind me? Seriously, the month of January was a whirlwind. Truly. Madly. Deeply. As you can see it ran by so fast that I lost my mind. Not really. I lost a few other things though. A button off of my favorite pea coat, the flashlight that is always by the front door, and my phone charger. Minor compared to my mind, but still. 

So, what to do when you don’t have time to think? Bake. Obviously. Yesterday I made our favorite zucchini bread recipe and it turned out fabulously, as it does every single time. I’m not kidding, it is like impossible to screw this up. I modified this recipe from one I found in my Grandmother's old stash.  This recipe, as with most I make, was fairly basic and fairly easy. I used shredded zucchini that I had frozen last summer.

Here is the recipe:
2 C. sugar                             1 tsp salt                             
1 C. Canola Oil                    1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs                                   ¼ tsp baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract              1 tsp cinnamon
3 C. flour                              2 C. shredded zucchini
Optional: Apples, nuts, cranberries, chocolate chips…whatever you want to throw in. 

Pre heat oven to 350*
Beat oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until blended. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon into sugar mixture until moist. Stir in zucchini and optionals. Transfer batter to two greased bread pans. Bake at 350* for 55 minutes.

I'm linking with these great parties... What's Up Wednesdays, Share the Wealth Wednesdays,Wow Me Wednesday, Show and Share, Crafty Sasse Wednesday, Take A Look Tuesdays, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Ta-Da Tuesdays, Party Time, Craft-O-Maniac Monday, More the Merrier Monday,

January 26, 2012

Merry Late Christmas to Me!

We have been thinking about getting a tablet for quite awhile. I had narrowed down my choice to a Toshiba Thrive about a month ago. Lucky me, Amazon knew I was looking for one and notified me about two weeks ago that they had refurbished models available for about 2/3 the cost of a brand new model. I was all over that.

Actually, I was too busy at work to be all over that, so Doug had to do the ordering. Same difference. It came in the mail today and I have been obsessing over it for the past three hours or so. So many cool features. I can't wait to figure it all out.

Here is what I ordered...

(I am part of the Amazon Affiliates program, all opinions are my own and I was not paid or perked to order this tablet).

January 24, 2012

Observation of the Week

Observations for the day:

1. Grab your jacket when the fire alarm goes off at work.

2. Eat breakfast, in case you are stuck outside without a jacket when the fire alarm goes off.

3. Wear good shoes, even if you don’t expect to be stuck outside when the fire alarm goes off.

It’s a bit chilly to be weathering the elements in regular clothing and slip on shoes :) Hope you are all having a great week!

January 16, 2012

Shelf Love

Sometimes I have the best ideas. Frequently, actually. Although that’s my own opinion only. Anyway, sometimes I have these great ideas. Usually, I forget about them shortly after they materialize. Sometimes, however, I remember to discuss them with my husband.

Speaking of my husband, I have to thank him for this one, my idea would never have come to life without him, not to mention turn out so great. Come to think of it, let's review what this would have looked like without him, had I remembered that I wanted to do it in the first place.

1. The shelf would not have been square. On top of that, it probably would have been nailed together with painters nails instead of grooved and glued together with the appropriate wood glue.

2. The paint would not have been so nice and even. There is a good chance that it would have been globby and drippy and gross, because after two coats, I would have been bored or gotten distracted by a load of laundry. On top of that, I would have never even thought to sand the shelf before painting it.

3. It would not be hanging on the wall right now, because I would be too afraid to put holes in the dry wall right next to my front door where everyone walks. Why be afraid, you ask? Prior experience. Sometimes it takes me several holes to get it right.

I never claimed to be a carpenter, a wood working expert, and definelty not a perfectionist. I married one instead :) But, back to the project at hand...

Quite awhile ago, I was reading Ana White’s blog and saw this great shelf that she made. She makes it sound so simple, I thought it would be a great idea. Of course, I had some modifications in mind, but I envisioned it hanging nicely next to our front door. Cue the husband. I explained it to Doug, emailed him the link, and drew a picture of my modified shelf. 

Six weeks later….ta da… Doug created a solid oak shelf ready to be finished and hung.

First we coated it with a spray primer….

Then several thin coats of Rustoleum Painters Touch Ultra Cover 2x spray paint in Dark Walnut. I love this stuff. To the untrained eye, this paint looks no different than a nice walnut stain, with half the work and none of the clean up.

Finally, we added some cheap hooks from Menards. Doug hung the shelf tonight and I am so happy with it. I think it looks fantastic and it is already very functional. With our house lacking an entry way, any type of storage space at the door is a plus.

I think it turned out great. I am so happy to have more functional space by the front door.

Now that this is finished, I need to get busy and think of something else for him to do. Winter doesn't last forever.

Linked: Polish the Starts, Craft-O-Maniac, DIY link party, Motivate Me Monday, Make Something Monday, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Debbiedoo's Newbie Party, SewWoodsy, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Share the Wealth, Lil Luna, Someday Crafts, Somewhat Simple, Creative Share, Show Off Your Stuff, What I Whipped Up Wednesday,

January 15, 2012

Phabulous Pheasants

Today we adventured out in the cold for a fun afternoon pheasant hunt. We have a great game farm near our house and it is always fun to get out and get some exercise in the winter. And it's a nice change from fishing through a hole in the ice.

We took Griffin, our shorthair, Maisie, our black lab, and Wader, my sister Olivia's black lab. The dogs had a blast. Anytime they can get out and streeetcchh their legs during the winter is a bonus.

Wader and his bird. 

There is a great old farm on the Game Farm property. I thought it looked so neat all snow covered.

Overall, we had a successful afternoon!

January 13, 2012

My Memories Suite

I recently won a free download of My Memories Suite through a giveaway done by Gail at My Repurposed Life. I was so excited. I have never tried digital scrapbooking but I was really hoping that this would help me to be more organized and motivated.

So far, I have done several pages in My Memories and I am loving it. It makes it super easy to organize photos, import them into the predesigned pages, and update pages to your liking. I'm really happy with the results. I have to say, I haven't printed anything yet, but thus far....I love this!

There are tons of great designs available in the download and a whole online catalog of additional designs. On top of that, the website has great information and support. I have only one downfall to note, it slows my computer down, ALOT. However, this totally could be because we just have way to much stuff going on on the computer at one time.

Best thing yet..I have a coupon code for you! Yes, my very first coupon code. If you download My Memories, use this code and get $10 off!! Go ahead, get to work!


If you use the coupon code, I do receive a perk, however...all opinions here are completely my own! 

January 12, 2012

Warm and Cozy Potato Soup

In case you haven’t gotten the hint yet, we like to eat. Don’t take that the wrong way, we don’t like to stuff our faces at  McDonald’s (not often anyway) or even general restaurant food very often, but we do get enjoyment from the food that we cook. Both myself and my husband like to cook and we share the duties frequently. That doesn’t mean we always have an idea on what to make for dinner. There is nothing that irritates me more (okay maybe there are some things, but very few) than when Doug asks me what I want for dinner, I answer, and he responds “oh, no I don’t want that, how about…..” . WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE! J
Vent session over.
Last night was not this situation, we both agreed that potato soup would be a great way to bring in the impending snow storm (yes, you heard correctly, it is January 12th and we are getting our very first Wisconsin snowstorm). I have to admit, I make some awesome potato soup. I promise, it’s easy (pretty much everything I cook is easy….I leave the tough stuff to Doug).
So, here is my potato soup recipe. Disclaimer: This soup does start with a rue…, don’t stop reading now. I promise, from someone who was absolutely terrified of making one for a really long time, it’s not hard. To begin, melt 4 TBSP butter in a soup pot. When butter is melted, add flour, one tablespoon at a time and whisk. Add flour until soft ball forms in the middle. Once it has formed, continue stirring frequently while it cooks for 2-3 minutes. Then add 2 cups of milk while whisking. When this is well blended, add two additional cups of milk. Cook on low for 5 minutes or so. Add 2-4 cups of water, depending on the consistency you prefer. Add garlic salt to taste andAlpine Spice. Then add 2 cups chopped carrots, 2 cups cubed potatoes, and 1 cup cubed ham or small amount of crumbled bacon to taste. Then the secret ingredient goes in, I add approximately 1 ½” of Velveeta cheese cubed. Stir well, cover, and simmer on low for about an hour. When carrots and potatoes are cooked, soup is ready.

January 10, 2012

Review of Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins was a total disappointment in my eyes. I was so excited for this book. Even after feeling that Catching Fire was only lukewarm compared to The Hunger Games, I was hoping for this book to be the exciting, well written grand finale that every trilogy should have.  I was so disappointed.
This book contained so many odd, almost mushy plot lines, unfinished characters, and random twists that it was hard to make myself read every page. The urge to skip over seemingly unimportant scenes or long rambles was hard to resist.
The Katniss that we met in the first book no longer existed in the final one. The characteristics that made me love her, her ability to think on her feet, make decisions, hold her head high, and prioritize were a few of the things that were totally lacking in book three.
I felt that the plot was so blurry in book three that I couldn’t get a grasp on what exactly we as the readers were supposed to be focusing on. The introduction of many new characters with little to no explanation didn’t help the focus either.
I don’t mean to rant on this, but I was really frustrated because I was looking forward to an amazing ending to this story and I was so disappointed. Did anyone else feel like this?
Finally, I just have to add that I feel like book three was so rushed in the writing/publishing aspect. I found so many errors that should have been caught before the book went to print and that just added to my disappointment with the book.
I am now having the feeling of unfinished business which comes when finishing a book that doesn’t tie up all of it’s loose ends. The only way to correct this, in my opinion, is to find another book to read. I’m off to the library to find something else to occupy my imagination.

I still loved the trilogy as a whole, despite the disappointing ending. The whole trilogy is available on Amazon. 

Check it out, get your own and let me know what you think. (I am  a member of the Amazon Affiliates program). 

January 8, 2012

Chicken Provolone

MMMMmmmm…..this is one of my favorite recipes. It is my fallback when I need something delicious but easy. The ingredients are very basic, I usually have them on hand anyway. Prep time can be a little longer for this recipe, about a ½ hour plus 40 minutes in the oven, but it is so worth it.

To begin with, I take a package of boneless skinless chicken breasts and beat them with a meat hammer until they are double their original size.

I then cut them in half. Each piece is breaded in a flour, cracker, and breadcrumb mixture that is well seasoned with Alpine Spice. Each piece is then dunked in an eggwash (one egg beat into ½ cup of milk) and re-breaded. I then brown them lightly in a pan and place them in a glass baking dish ( I usually use a 9x13, but it totally depends on how much chicken you have).

Over the breasts I layer mozzarella or provolone cheese, shredded or sliced, basically whatever I have on hand or was on sale. Over that I pour a large container of regular spaghetti sauce, and dust with a little additional cheese. I cover the pan with tinfoil and bake for 40 minutes at 350*. I serve this over linguine noodles with a side salad. Yum.

I'm linking up!

Alpine Spice

I need to start this out by saying, beware. Once you try this stuff, you will never be able to cook without it, and you will become like me....ordering it in 12 pound shipments so that you do not ever run the risk of running out! My husband introduced me to Alpine Spice seasoning when we were dating. He never cooked without it. I, in turn, became hooked. It is an amazing seasoning made in Montana, he picked it up on a trip out there and has been ordering it ever since. We use this on everything and it generally eliminates the need for salt and pepper, garlic salt, and really any other normal spices. It enhances beef, venison, fish, pork and chicken. I use it on mashed potatoes, in spaghetti sauce, and over steamed veggies. Alpine Spice is a blend of garlic salt, onion salt, pepper, and some other yummy ingredients that make just about everything taste better.

The people at Alpine Spice are great too. They are very willing to answer questions, provide advice, and make sure your order ships at the lowest shipping price possible. Personal customer service is a rarity these days, which makes it even nicer to shop with them. Go ahead, try it out. I do not think you will be disappointed.

P.S. The people at Alpine Spice have absolutely no idea who I am, or even that I love this stuff as much as I do.....I was not paid or perked to write about them, I just LOVE this stuff!!

January 7, 2012

Review of Catching Fire

I finished Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire, the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy. I thought that it was a good follow up to the first book, however, the ending felt very rushed. There was not enough of a rebel sub plot in this book to build up to the ending, in my opinion. Also, the relationships between the characters and the why and how were not fleshed out as well as in the first book. Overall, I would say it was good, but the quality of the first book did not transfer to the second.
I’m now into the third book, Mockingjay, and I am having a hard time finishing it. Any other opinions on this? Anyone who loved it and thinks I must be crazy? I don’t know, I just think that after the first book was so phenomenal, the second should have been just as good or better and it was a bit of a let down for me.