Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mashed Potato & Chicken Casserole

This photo does not do this dish justice. I forgot to take pictures until there was only a little left over! (and it had been refrigerated over night) Guess it goes to show that it was a hit in our house! This is a great recipe for leftover mashed potatoes. It calls for chicken, but you can use ground beef or whatever meat you like. I used ground turkey this time, and it was just as delicious. It reminds me of Shepherds Pie.

3 large potatoes (mashed)
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Can of French fried onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite size pieces (or 1 LB of cooked and drained ground beef/turkey)
10 oz. (or 12 oz) bag frozen mixed vegetables

1. Preheat oven for 375 degrees.
2. Make mashed potatoes and stir in 1 cup shredded cheese and French fried onions (most of can, to your liking, and save some for the top).
3. Spread potato mixture into medium greased casserole dish. Spread it up the sides of the dish, leaving an empty space in the middle (I used an 8x8 inch glass pan, and it was piled a little high, but baked down a bit)
4. In separate bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, milk, ground mustard, garlic powder and pepper.
5. Stir in chicken (or meat of choice) and frozen vegetables and coat with mixture.
6. Pour chicken & veggie mixture into center of potatoes and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and sprinkle more shredded cheese and French fried onions on top and bake for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

A few of my favorite things...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Today, I hope that you were blessed to be surrounded by family & friends (and delicious food). "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." 1 Chronicles 16:34

God has truly blessed me, far above and beyond what I deserve. I have a wonderful husband, who loves me, unconditionally. He fills my life with so much joy and I am so thankful to have him by my side.

I am also blessed with the love of family. I cherish all the times we spend together and the memories I have of each of you in my heart. I'm so glad that God made us family!

I also have two crazy cats that drive me nuts, but fill our home with life and make us laugh. And yes, I love them too. (Don't let them fool you, they look like perfect angels in these photos!)

These are just a few of my favorite and most precious gifts that I am so thankful for today, and every day. I didn't even mention my dear friends that I love so very much. I am counting each of you in my blessings too, you know who you are. I am one lucky (blessed) girl!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hobo Bag

After learning how to sew tote bags, I wanted to make a bag with a little more personality and detail. I came across this tutorial for a pleated hobo bag at Ruffles And Stuff and I followed her basic guide to made the bags shown above. I even got a little fancy and added a pocket inside. I like to use a semi-heaver fabric for the outer shell and a corresponding lighter weight fabric for the lining. I really like the thick straps and size of these bags. The ruffled detachable fabric flower is my favorite signature addition. They do take more time to sew than a tote bag and the steps are a bit more involved, but the end result is worth it. I get many compliments when I'm carrying it around. I sold the one on the left and I currently have a custom order. They make nice gifts and are a great purse! If anyone is interested in ordering one, send me an email. You can never have too many purses!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wegmans Slow-Cooked Beef Minestrone

I made Wegmans recipe for slow-cooked beef minestrone over the weekend, and it was delicious! (Photo from The recipe was pretty easy, with all of the prep work done in the first 20-30 minutes. Then it cooked in my slow-cooker for about 6 hours. I added the remaining ingredients during the last 1/2 hour and it was perfectly ready by dinner time. I highly recommend it for a great family meal. I am still enjoying leftovers!

Click here for complete recipe.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Window Valances for My Friend's First Baby

I recently had the privilege of helping my dear friend Kristy decorate her soon-to-arrive baby's room (she's due any day now!). Kristy and her husband have decided to wait for the surprise of finding out if their little one will be a boy or a girl, until he or she arrives. Thus, they wanted the colors to be neutral (the suspense is killing me!). The design was based around her crib set fabric. First we selected colors for the walls, a happy green and a nice warm light yellow border, to go above the existing white wainscoting. Didn't they do an excellent job painting? Nice work.

To pull it all together, I convinced Kristy to let me to sew these adorable window valances (with her help of course). I have been wanting to try my hand at a project like this, so what a perfect opportunity! I wish I took some photos while we were actually making them, but all you'll see is the finished product. We started by removing the elastic and hem from 3 fitted patterned crib sheets. Next, we measured and cut the sheets to the size we wanted. Then we measured and cut strips of brown silky fabric for the trim. I was hesitant to sew such a silky fabric to a cotton fabric, because it was quite challenging to cut, as it kept sliding off the table (great choice Kristy!). But it ended up turning out beautifully and gave the valances such a nice finished look. We used a heavy white fabric for backing the valances to minimize light.

I basically sewed them like a giant pillow case, sewing the bottom and two sides (inside out, then turning it right side out). Then I folded over the top, toward the backside, to make a "tunnel" for the curtain rod. I love how they turned out.

Here are a couple more photos of the room. Don't you love the furniture? Kristy and her Mom recovered the rocking chair and ottoman with brown fabric to match the room. Nice!

The whole room looks beautiful! Kristy,thank you for letting me be part of welcoming your sweet little baby into his or her new home! I hope he or she will love sleeping and waking and playing in this adorable room. Can't wait to meet him or her!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Writing Is On The Wall: How To Make Your Own Wall Letters

For a while, I have wanted to display some letters on my kitchen wall. I think it gives a room a personalized feel. Especially since I have a love for typography (it's in my graphic designer blood). But you've seen the wooden letters that are out there, some are in "little kid" font a.k.a "Chalkboard", "Good Dog", and even worse, who decided that "Tekton Pro" would look good on anyone's wall? I just wanted a simple serif font in caps. So I decided to make my own letters out of foam core/board and scrapbook paper. You could write "Home" or "Family" or whatever you like.

I started with a piece of white foam board that you can find at most dollar stores, Wal-mart, or craft stores.

Then I typed out the letters I wanted on the computer (I used Adobe Illustrator, in outline type mode to save ink), and fit them to 8.5x11 paper, so I could print one letter per page.

Next, I cut out the paper letters, using an X-acto knife and a metal ruler (wooden rulers tend to get sliced by the knife). Each paper letter became a stencil that I used to trace onto the foam board.

After tracing each paper letter, onto the foam board, I cut out the foam letters, using my X-acto knife and ruler. This is the most difficult part, and where my old sign shop skills come into good use. This part takes me back to the days when we used to cut out foam core letters by the bushel full, then spray paint them or apply vinyl. I miss those sign shop days with my fellow artists, making everything by hand. We had a lot of fun!

Here are a few tips for effective foam core cutting:
1. Make sure you have a good cutting mat underneath your work area.
2. A new sharp blade in your knife is absolutely necessary.
3. Cut straight lines with a ruler.
4. Make sure to apply a good amount of pressure to cut completely through the foam.
5. Try not to "saw" through the foam, it will create jagged edges.

After your foam letters are cut out, select your scrapbook paper, and glue each foam letter onto the back of the scrapbook paper. A regular glue stick works well.

With the glued foam letter face down, cut around the foam letter with your X-acto knife, trimming off the excess scrapbook paper. Ta-da! Now you have a set of letters to display on your wall or on a bookshelf. These letters are light enough that I attached mine to the wall with some sticky-tack.

What do you think? Cute right? Next time I may use more contrasting scrapbook paper, since my wall is red. Home Sweet Home.