Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkiny Goodness

It's the time of year for pumpkin treats. I love pumpkin bread and everyone loves the recipe I use, but this post is about something slightly sweeter, Pumpkies! They can also be referred to as pumpkin brownies, although they don't have any chocolate.

They're super yummy, though!

I actually made a double batch here, which is why it's more than you'll see in the recipe at the end.

First things first, the recipe says to stir butter until light and fluffy. I'm not sure how they managed to do that, but I edited a bit and mixed it with the sugar. 

 Then I mixed in the egg and pumpkin puree:
It looks a little like tomato sauce, but I promise it's pumpkin.

Now for the dry stuff, the flour and spices. 

Everything's mixed, ready for the pan:

Like I said, this is a double batch, so I'm using a 9x13 pan. It still only took about 35 minutes in the oven, though.

And out it comes, beautifully golden and smelling heavenly.

Your taste buds are watering aren't they? They should be!

As promised, here's the recipe link.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Fun

I wanted to add something seasonal to my wall of pictures that I could change throughout the year to keep things fresh.

I had two open spaces for 5x7 somethings and some space at the top that could be used to help balance things a bit better. So I headed to my favorite craft store with that in mind.

I came home with some of these in two different sizes:

and these (and more paint colors):

And then I got to work. I started out by painting the canvases all one color. Then I broke out the stencils.

I wanted a mix of words and images, so I added some shapes, too.

What says fall more than leaves? I added a bunch in different colors.

The three square canvases turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

I also had those 5 x 7 canvases. After painting and gluing the letters, they ended up looking like this:

A nice little project that I'll be able to repeat when Winter rolls around.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Winter Warmth

The boy knows I like to crochet. Last winter, whilst I was in the midst of a larger project (baby blanket for my Goddaughter's baptism), he asked for a scarf. Well this fall, I finally got around to it.

I didn't follow any particular pattern. I tried to use a technique I found on Pinterest, but it was too difficult with the yarn he'd picked out:

So I ended up mostly doing Hdc in the front loops for the whole thing.

In the end, he loves it and it's warm. And that's all that matters.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Help Wanted - Chefs needed

The other night the boy and I tried a new recipe. It looked promising. A version of lasagna that includes veggies and a cheese sauce. Sounds good, right?

Well, yes, but...
I'll get to that but in a moment.

I started out by chopping up the veggies:

Then we cooked the diced onion with a clove of chopped garlic. Once the onions were tender, we added in 1 cup of ground beef. I admit this seemed like a small amount, but we went with it. Brown the beef, then add in the carrots, celery and diced tomatoes. Now if you read my first recipe post, you know I don't enjoy tomato chunks. So I pureed them again!

Now we've got something that looks like this:

The recipe said to cook this for 30 minutes, and I admit, I skimped a bit and only cooked it for 15 - 20. I guess this is my first question: Would it have made a difference if I had cooked it longer?

So now it was time to make the lasagna layers. Here's the stuff:

The recipe had directions for a cheese sauce, but also admitted that it was complicated and you could substitute a store-bought option. I went with an alfredo sauce that looked good, but I'm not sure that was the correct choice. I'll get to that in a minute.

When we went to make the layers, using the specified 9 x 13 inch dish, we noticed there was no way there was enough meat and veggie stuff. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture. The whole pan full would have been one layer had I had my way. But we stretched it to two.  So I know that if I make this recipe again, I'll definitely be doubling the meat and veggies.

After putting it together, it's time for the oven.

That stuff on top is the entire jar of alfredo sauce.

And here's the final result:

Looks tasty, and it pretty much was. Except for one thing. Can you see it better here?

The noodles didn't get entirely cooked and were, in fact, a bit rubbery if not downright crunchy in places. Oops?

So what did we do wrong? Is it the cheese sauce that was tasty, but too thick or just not enough? Would doubling the meat and veggies add enough liquid to help cook the noodles?

If you have any suggestions, let me know! If we can figure out the correct recipe proportions, I'll post the final results. This one has so much potential!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Android Home Screen Design

I have an Android phone. It's over 2 years old, but it still works great. If there's a good deal at Christmas, maybe I'll upgrade.

To keep things feeling fresh, I like to play around with the look of the home screens on my phone. From what I understand (I've never used one), that's not something that's possible with the iPhone. So, I thought I would share my latest endeavor.

I used a tutorial and I'll link to it at the end of the post (his screen is pretty cool, possibly cooler than mine).

So this is my main screen:

The cool part is that all you're seeing is my wallpaper (created in photoshop). I've used transparent icons such that when you click on the objects, it opens different apps. For example, if you tap the phone, it will open the phone app so you can make a call. Click on the monitor to browse the web, the envelope for voicemail, and the calculator for ... a calculator. No more boring icons.

Screen 2:

I have a number of different camera apps, hence the various cameras. The globe opens Google Maps and the flashlight opens the flashlight app (very handy).

Screen 3:

This one is for news, voice recorder, Soundhound, and MapMyRide.

Screen 4:

I did this one a little differently. There aren't really any desk objects for games. I have a lot of games (most of which I've gotten from Amazon's Daily Deal for free). So I took inspiration from the tutorial and created something I felt was pleasing to the eye. It's still not perfect. I'm thinking of getting rid of all or most of the icons and just doing text because I like that better, but it will take a lot more time. I'll just stick with this for now.

Screen 5 is just a blank screen that I've used for a calendar widget at the moment. It's got a little more space, too, if there's something else I need to add.

Ok, so here's the tutorial I used. It was very helpful and detailed. The hardest part is creating the wallpaper and making sure things line up with where the transparent icons will be placed. But through some trial and error, I ended up with some unique screens!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Book Review - The Ultimate Gift

Our book club has two book selections this month. The first selection, The Ultimate Gift, by Jim Stovall, was very short, so we also chose a second book, Ghost in the Wires, by Kevin Mitnick. I read The Ultimate Gift first, so that's what this review is for. When I finish Ghost in the Wires, I'll write a review for that one, too. I know The Ultimate Gift has been made into a movie, but I haven't seen it and I don't know anything about it. This review is for the book only.

The Ultimate Gift

My Rating: 3 out of 5 bookmarks
Summary from Amazon page: Red Stevens has died, and the older members of his family receive their millions with greedy anticipation. But a different fate awaits young Jason, whom Stevens, his great-uncle, believes may be the last vestige of hope in the family.

My review:
If I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be hokey. Campy and cliché would work as well. Although, somewhat well-written (it did keep my interest for the most part), it was rather predictable. I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes. To say more, I have to get into the details. Read on if you don't mind being spoiled.

Spoilers ahead.

So the deal is Jason has to complete a task every month to the lawyer's satisfaction. He has to learn about 12 gifts that will make him a better person, the first being work. Am I really supposed to believe that a spoiled rich kid is going to go to some guy's ranch and work for a month and come back a changed man? Say we accept the premise, and this month of hard labor changes him. The later challenges aren't really all that challenging. He might as well have just told him to pay attention to the people around him. Multiple times he's sent to observe and come back and report about what he's learned. So because he saw someone laughing, he's realized the gift of laughter? Um... okay.

I think the idea for this story was interesting, but it wasn't executed in the best manner. I would have liked to have seen more experiences (like helping out at the boys' home). I also would have preferred to read it from Jason's point of view instead of the lawyer's. I think we could have had a richer story from that point of view, and it would have been less campy. It also could have been longer and more involved.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sausage, Peppers, and Pasta... Oh my!

We made some tasty goodness the other night. SOOOO Yummy! The peppers, tomato puree, sausage, and cheese all combine for amazing flavor. This recipe is definitely a keeper. 5 Spoons!

You can find the link to the recipe at the end of the post.

It started out looking like this:
See how nicely I cut up those peppers and sausages? It's so colorful! 

Note for next time: When you cut the sausages too large, they'll take longer to cook.

The recipe called for diced tomatoes. I'm not a fan of tomato chunks. I like ketchup. I like spaghetti sauce. I don't like raw or cooked tomatoes. So I used my fun toy to puree them.
This turned out to be an awesome choice. Substituting tomato or spaghetti sauce would have been too thick and heavy. This added just the right amount of flavor and a light sauce.

Then mix in the pasta and CHEESE!

And you're ready to serve, sprinkled with Parmesan. (More CHEESE!)

You can find it here and make it yourself. Highly recommended!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crayon Art

Seems as though anyone paying any attention to crafting things, or maybe just Pinterest, has seen the crayon art that is all the rage lately. I've even heard they're selling for big bucks on Etsy. Crazy. But I happened upon a pin from this page that does things a little differently.

My hyperactive brain needed a project, so I decided I had to try it. You can go to her site to get the details on how it's done, but this is what we ended up with:
Aren't they awesome?

I did the blue and green one first, on my own. I'd planned to do two, so after I was finished, I asked the boy if he wanted to help. He was a little skeptical at first, but I let him pick the colors and he gave it a go.

Turns out, he really got into it! We started out by taking turns, but when we got close to the end, he didn't let me have any more turns. He finished it all on his own. My non-crafty boy made art.

And I even ended up liking that one better than the first!

We have this wall where I hang pictures I've taken. I also collect pins from places I've been, and I display them. A couple years ago, I figured out that displaying them on canvas works well, but I'd run out of room on the two canvases I had. So I decided to use our masterpieces as a place for more.

A closer view:

And on this one I also needed a way to add a couple of key chains:
I used a needle and thread and tied them to the canvas. I think it looks a little better than push pins on a cork board, but you can decide for yourself.

What do you think? Have you ever created crayon art? Do you have any other ideas for displaying pins, key chains, or other collectibles from your travels?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Other STD options

I love that people shorten "Save The Date" to STD. It makes me laugh.

In case you're curious, we had a few other options for our STDs.

The least liked option was this one:

The biggest thing that wasn't liked about this one was the lack of a picture of the two of us. Other than that, I thought it was cute and clever.

Next option:
This was actually the first one that I created, this game being the first that came to mind. But it just didn't have anything special about it and seemed a little boring in the end. Also, rolling the dice has nothing to do with the game, so it bugged me a bit. I just couldn't come up with anything better.

This one was the number 2 choice:
This one was actually the first choice for a couple people, but not mine. It had the biggest picture and people liked the idea of finding the missing pieces.

Which one do you like best? Would you have made the same choice?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Save the Date

We're having a board game themed wedding. Neither of us is really into dancing, so we decided to have the reception at an adult arcade/restaurant. Once we had the venue reserved for our desired date, the next order of business was sending out Save the Date cards. A lot of our families will be traveling for the wedding, so we wanted to give them as much notice as possible. We also wanted to stick with the theme.

This is what I designed using Photoshop and some ideas I found online:

Can you name the game that inspired this design?

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Craft Closet

A good way to start this blog is to talk a bit about my new craft closet. Which I'm totally loving and making good use of!

It started out looking something like this:
Note: I "stitched" 3 pictures together because I didn't have a wider lens on my camera for this picture. That's why it looks a little funky.

This closet is in the spare bedroom (a.k.a. the chocolate room) and was just being used for miscellaneous storage. With my husband-to-be moving in, we needed to make better use of the spare room so we'd each have a work space of our own when needed. I was also getting tired of not having a good storage solution for all my (accumulating) craft stuff and having to work at the kitchen table.

So I did some research on Pinterest and found a lot of ideas for turning a closet into a work space.

Then the parents came for a visit and we went to a few stores looking at various closet solutions, seeing if anything would work.

In the end, I decided to go with the KISS method (keep it simple, stupid), so off to Ikea I went. With the boy in tow, much to his displeasure. (He was rewarded with a yummy cinnamon roll, though.)

Now, I had to do the labor. We started by emptying everything out and taking off the closet doors (thanks, Dad!) and the shelf.

Then I found a nice light green paint to go with the chocolate brown walls in the room.
Doesn't it look pretty? The boy insists it should now be the mint-chocolate room.

Once the paint was dry, it was time to get out the drill and level. It was a somewhat large project, but surprisingly easy to do. 

I didn't add up the final receipts, but I'd estimate the total cost around $250. It's so nice having all my craft-related things in one area and a table to work on. I can leave things half finished and come back to them later without having to worry about not having a place to eat dinner. I only wish I'd thought of it sooner!