Monday, January 30, 2012

XOXO - More Valentines Day Fun

I wanted to find something to do with the paper I had left over from my "Love" plaque project.  Thank you to The Hybrid Chick for the perfect solution!  Her design is simple, yet stylish.  Plus, it's going to help tie together our whole living room.

All you will need is 8 strips of double-sided paper, cut to 2 x 11", a 28" piece of ribbon, and some kind of adhesive.  I recently bought a new glue gun - so I use it for everything I can!!

Once you have your pieces of paper lined up in the order you want them, fold them in half like this:
Next you want to fold the ends inward so that the outer edges are touching.  This should form a heart shape - but you may need to bend it a little to get the shape you want.  Using the hot glue gun, I found that the easiest way to glue the edges together is to hold them in place and place the glue in between, otherwise the glue would cool and dry too much before I was able to attach the other edge.
Once you have 8 hearts, start attaching them into pairs.  You want to attach them at about the same distance down as the center point of the heart.  This will give you 4 pairs of hearts.  Glue two sets together, and then the other two.  Now you need to decide which half is going to be the top of your wreath, and attach your ribbon to the other edges of that half.
Finally, attach the two halves and you will have a complete wreath!
I still had some paper left over.  So I decided to try making a smaller wreath, also.  I ended up making two, so that I could hang one on each side of the bigger wreath.  For these, I used 1 x 5 1/2" strips of paper, and a 15 1/2" piece of ribbon.  They WERE a little bit harder to make because the smaller pieces of paper were harder to work with.  But they were worth it in my book!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chili

Yumm.  This chili is the perfect way to warm up during the cold days of winter.  It is really easy too.  I threw everything in the crockpot before work, and it was ready when I got home in the evening!  This recipe came from Plain Chicken.

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chili
-adapted from Plain Chicken

1 can reduced-sodium black beans
1 can corn, undrained
1 can Rotel, undrained
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 Tsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 8 oz. package fat-free cream cheese
1 8 oz. chicken breast

Place chicken at bottom of crockpot insert.  Cover with corn, rinsed and drained black beans and Rotel (I used the Mexican lime and cilantro variety - but original works too).  Top with ranch mix and seasonings, then stir.  Place cream cheese on top, cover with lid and cook for 6-8 hours on low. 

Prior to serving, shred chicken using two forks and stir in to chili.

For Weight Watchers members: assuming one batch is 4 servings, each serving would be 6 points+.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Money Saver!

I am pretty excited about this new blog I found.  If you haven't heard of The Frugal, you should really check them out.  They have all kinds of ideas on how to save money on everyday items - such as homemade shampoo, laundry detergent and cleaners.  They also advertise deals and offer various giveaways.

My new favorite: How to save money on dryer sheets.  All you do is cut the sheets in half!

I am definitely going to try this.  If I decide it doesn't quite do the job, I can always just throw them in two at a time.  But - if it works out, that box of dryer sheets is going to last twice as long!!

Let me know if you find other good deals from The Frugal Girls that are worth sharing!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Marinara Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This week I started a new challenge - 15 pounds in 15 weeks.  I realized earlier this week that it was exactly 15 weeks until my birthday, which is perfect motivation for me.  1 pound a week is completely do-able . . . but it is going to take some work.  I have written into my planner a different "mini goal" for each week along the way.  For example, this week is no coffee drinks.  Other "mini goals" include drinking 8 cups of water every single day, and earning a certain number of activity points through Weight Watchers during the week.

Today - I ate lots of fruit, had a salad for lunch, spent an hour at the gym and made a yummy dinner that totaled only 8 Points+ : Marinara Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  Broken out, the marinara chicken is 5 points, while a serving of the mashed potatoes is 3 points.

Marinara Chicken:
2 Chicken breasts (8 oz. each)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Cup marinara sauce

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
3 Russet potatoes (large ones!)
1/4 Cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
1/2 Cup (4 oz.) fat-free cream cheese
2 Tsp minced garlic

Okay - I might skip back and forth between steps for the chicken and potatoes.  Hopefully, following the steps this way will allow your meal to be done at about the same time.

First, preheat your oven for the chicken to 400 degrees.  While the oven is preheating, peel your potatoes and cut them lengthwise into quarters.  Then, chop them into 1-2" chunks and place the pieces into a pot.  I used a 4 quart pot, but you may want to use something slightly bigger - it was barely big enough!!  Once your potatoes are chopped, add just enough water to cover them, and put them on the stove, set on high.

While waiting for the potatoes to boil, you will want to prep your chicken.  After spraying an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray (I like to use the olive oil kind), cut each chicken breast in half so that you have four 4 oz. pieces, and lay in baking dish.  Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and pepper to taste.  Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, your potatoes should be boiling, or close.  Once the water begins to boil, turn down the burner to medium-high and boil for 10-12 minutes (or until potatoes are soft).  Set the pot of potatoes aside when done to keep them warm while chicken cooks. 

When the chicken has about 10 minutes left, add marinara to a small saucepan and heat on low until chicken is done, stirring often to heat through.  I used Prego Heart Smart Traditional sauce - but feel free to create your own or use something else (however, if you are concerned about the points value, know that this could alter the total points).

Also, you can drain your potatoes now and then transfer them to a large mixing bowl, along with the butter.  Using a hand mixer, mix until all the large chunks are broken up and the butter is well mixed in.  Next, add the cream cheese.  I suggest adding it 1/4 cup (2 oz.) at a time - it makes it easier to blend.  Also, you can add the garlic at this time.

Mix until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.  You can add additional cream cheese or garlic to taste.  I also added a little bit of black pepper.

By the time you have mixed up your potatoes, the chicken should be about ready.  After taking the chicken out of the oven, I layed it out on a paper towel for a minute to soak up any excess olive oil.

Now - the best part - dish it on up!! One serving equals one 4 oz. piece of chicken, topped with 1/4 cup of marinara and 3/4 cup of garlic mashed potatoes.  We finished off our meal with corn, but grilled veggies would be a great way to round it out as well.


Valentine's Day "LOVE" Decor

Although it seems like we just celebrated the New Year, Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  I have decided to begin to get ready by putting together some decorations.  I had so much fun wandering through Craft Warehouse last weekend finding various items that I could pull together!  Here is what I came up with:

To replicate this, here is what you will need:

1 unfinished wood frame (6 3/4" x 20") w/ pop-out wood tile (see left side)
1 wooden heart
4 mini clothespins
7 sheets of assorted paper (I used the Echo Park "Yours Truly" collection)
"Love" vinyl
Black ribbon (54")
Pink acrylic paint
Black acrylic paint
Pink glitter
Mod Podge
Foam brush
Hot glue gun

The first step is to paint the frame, heart and clothespins.  I used pink acrylic paint for the main frame, and the black acrylic paint for the heart, clothespins, and edges of the wood tile.  On the main frame, I would start with the inner edge, then move to the front side.  Do not worry about paint the outer edge, as you will be covering that later with the ribbon.

It will probably take 2 coats of the pink paint, and 3 of the black to cover adequately.  A couple notes - I painted the sides of the heart and covered all sides of the clothespins.  You can paint as much or little as you want.  While the paint dries, you should cut the paper to the following sizes:

*4 pieces 5" x 3" (for the letters)
*1 piece 5 1/2" x 5" (far left section of frame)
        --you will also need to cut a 3 1/8" x 3 5/8" square, centered vertically,
           from the right side of this square in order to fit it around the pop-out
*1 piece 5 1/2" x 12" (right section of frame)
*1 piece 5 1/2" x 1 5/8" (to complete right section)
*1 piece 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" (pop-out tile)

Next, you can apply the vinyl letters to the appropriate pieces of paper (follow the application instructions that came with your vinyl).

The heart is probably my favorite part of this project! Once the black paint has dried, use the foam brush to apply a very thin layer of Mod Podge (if you haven't worked with Mod Podge before, a little bit goes a long way!).  Then, cover the heart generously with pink glitter.  You can then shake off any excess glitter onto a sheet of paper, and add it back to the bottle.

At this point, you should be ready to assemble what you have done so far.  First, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the inside of the frame and attach the background paper.  Remember - thin layer - using too much will cause the paper to bubble.  Use the same technique to apply the square to the pop-out tile.  Once you have glued down all the background paper, you can also use the Mod Podge to attach the heart to the pop-out tile.  At this point, your project should look something like this:

The last two steps you will need your hot glue gun, or some other strong adhesive.  Starting with the bottom outer edge of the frame, apply a small amount of glue and press on one end of the ribbon.  If you are using a hot glue gun, it should only take a few seconds to hold.  Apply addition dots of glue every 2-3 inches, pulling the ribbon tight before attaching.  Once you have gone all the way around the frame, place a final dot of glue on the end you started with to attach the end of the ribbon.  You will probably have a couple inches of ribbon left over, so just cut off any excess.

Finally, you are ready for the final step.  Clip the clothespins onto the letters and space the letters out how you want them along the frame.  Put a small amount of glue on the back of each clothespin and attach it to the frame.  Here are a couple more pictures of the final product:

I hope you had as much fun pulling this together as I did.  Feel free to apply your own twist and personality - I would love to see what you come up with!

Go check out "14 Days of Love" at Cherished Bliss for other great Valentine's Day ideas.
Cherished Bliss

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Beginning...

After months of consideration and weeks of brainstorming, I have decided to start my own blog.  I have spent countless hours exploring blogs found on Pinterest relating to cooking, decorating and crafts and decided to try it for myself.  I have lots of ideas for what is to come and am open to suggestions as well.

I am not sure what this will look like over the next few months - as those who know me know, I will be ramping up my work week due to tax season - but hopefully I will still be able to get in a post or two a week.

For those who have taken the time to check this out - THANK YOU!!  I can't wait to share my journey with you.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...