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March 2009
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Recipe: Cranberry Chicken

This recipe has made it past the food critics in my family, and has been invited back to our family crockpot.

Cranberry Chicken
From Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, edited by Dawn Ranck & Phyllis Pellman Good

3-4LB chicken pieces (I use a bag of frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts)
1/2t salt
1/4t pepper
1/2c diced celery
1/2c diced onions
16oz can whole berry cranberry sauce
1c BBQ sauce

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cover & bake on HI 4h, or LO 6-8h.

My slight adaptations

2.5LB bag of frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1/4t salt
1/4t celery salt (instead of the diced celery - my family isn't big on the 'crunchies')
1/4t pepper
1T minced dry onions
16oz can whole berry cranberry sauce
1c BBQ sauce

I nuke the cranberry sauce in the microwave for 2 min to make it easier to combine with all ingredients - Cook on HI 1min, stir, then cook another min.

Made with 2.5# of chicken breasts, the recipe serves 5, at 9 WW Points each.

Recipe: Spiced Tea Mix

This is a great mix to have ready for quick gifts-in-a-jar or sick days at home.

1c orange instant breakfast drink powder (aka Tang)
1c instant tea powder (I use lemon flavored)
1/2c sugar
3oz package pre-sweetened lemonade mix
3/4t pumpkin pie spice
red hot cinnamon candies (~1/2c, or to taste)

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.  Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Good for up to 2 months.

To serve:
Stir mixture before measuring.  Place 2T-4T (to taste) of mix in coffee mug.  Add hot water & stir well.  Resulting tea will be slightly cloudy, but tasty.  ;)

Note: I have experimented with making this as sugar-free as possible, with SF Tang, and SF lemonade mix, and Splenda, and it turned out pretty nasty.  Stick with the regular-sugar version.

Mini Book Review: Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse Mystery #6)

Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery, Book 6) Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to say - I didn't like this one as much as I've enjoyed the other five books in the series. Not to say it's not worth reading - it definitely is, especially if you're working your way through the series.

But the book started with mention of an event, speaking as if it was an already known fact. A friend of mine commented that she actually thought she'd missed a book in-between, because it was kind of abrupt - just kind of off. I thought the same thing later, during the battle scene near the end - I was like, wait, why did a war just break out? I had to rewind the audio (I listened to the audiobook, downloaded from NetLibrary) to see if I missed some instigating event, but I hadn't.

I also didn't like the revelation Bill made in the middle of the book. I didn't think it was necessary, at least at this point in the story arc. I'd rather think well of him, and don't care to have Sookie's feelings color my impression of him. So there.

Other than that, I did enjoy the book, simply for its place in the series. We got to know Quinn a bit, which is a good thing. I think I'd quite like to see his big grin "in person" - I'm sure it would be entirely disarming.

Have you read the 6th Sookie book?  What did you think?

View all my GoodReads reviews.

Housewarming Gift: Crochet-topped dishtowel and washcloths

A friend of mine is going through a divorce, and just got her own apartment, so I thought I'd make her a little housewarming gift.

I got a set of kitchen washcloths, and did a crochet blanket stitch across the top of one, poking the holes through with a tiny steel crochet hook.  I made up the topper pattern, based onTheresa Grant's "Oh So Soft Baby Washcloth" pattern.  I just decreased by one each side until I decided it was 'time' to make the loop. I'll admit, it didn't look that great close-up, but when I hold it up now, the decreased sides just fold back behind on their own.  Thank goodness for unexpected crafting miracles!

I adapted the top loop from Marlo's Lacy Kitchen Towel pattern.  Sewed on a button, and elle est finie! (she is finished!)

I packed the formerly-washcloth-now-towel with the rest of the washcloths in a cute little tin bucket I picked up at Target.  Pretty cute little housewarming gift, I'd say!  And QUICK!  Finished the towel topper while watching Heroes on DVR tonight with the family, about an hour and a half total.  Just enough to let her know I'm thinking of her during this rough time of transition.




Charity Baby Hat Makin' Machine!

I have kept myself very busy making baby hats for a couple of charities over the past month or so.  I made two for Operation Top Knot in February, then five for Newborns in Need in March and April.  They are just so tiny and sweet to make.  And since they're preemie/baby size, they just fly together.  Very gratifying to use up some stash AND complete a project in an evening or two!

Granny Skull Cap pattern - crochet

Rolled Brim Preemie Hat - knit

Windowpane Skull Cap - crochet

I also made a sweet bunny hat for my 7-month-old niece for Easter - which her 3-year-old sister promptly placed on her doll, of course.

Lil Bunny Cap - crochet

And some bunny toys for the 3-year-old niece - two finger puppets and an amigurumi bunny egg cozy (though I just stuffed mine with cotton balls).

What fun projects have made you smile recently?

Digital Scrapbooking Layout: Joker & Son

I took some time to actually do a layout this weekend - for no 'good' reason other than I felt like it.  What a novel idea!

I recently made a challenge to myself to 'delete' the time-consuming behaviors I often associate with scrapbooking, and just scrap.  I took my own advice - I found a digital scrapbooking quickpage I liked, chose an appropriate photo, slapped together a few elements, journaled, and was DONE. 

I'm pretty pleased with myself - sometimes just doing something all it takes. Forward motion. The easier you make it on yourself, the more likely you are to do something.  Take out the guesswork and the time-sucking nature of a chore, and suddenly it's not so much of a chore.  And each successful completion of the task encourages you to get more done.

That said, here's the layout.


Comics & Bubbles QuickPage by Pouyou Designs
Comics & Bubbles add-on by Cardamome
Collage Edge Layer Style by Debra Tope
Serious Wordart by Elegant WordArt
Font: SF Wonder Comic

Scrapbooking Simplified

Busyscrapper-courtneywalsh F+W Marketing Manager Ginger Rohlfs recently sent me Courtney Walsh's new book, The Busy Scrapper, to review.  And the book has me thinking.

While I'm only on page 36 (of 128) so I can't offer a real review at this point, I wanted to comment on what I've read so far.

Courtney's tips encouraged me to consider why I don't scrapbook often.  Sure, one reason is *probably* being disorganized and not being able to see the worktable surface in my scraproom/office.  Another reason is undoubtedly time - a full-time job, two kids, a husband, and a horse of a dog do eat up most of my waking hours.  But another reason, I'll freely admit, is self-paralysis.  I know many people suffer from this, in various forms, and not just related to scrapbooking.

The self-paralysis has to do with expectations and assumptions, I think.  Assuming that you have to do something a certain way, and all at one sitting.  Assuming that your results should turn out as well as someone else's.  Expecting those results to be just-so.  Expecting everything to go smoothly in each step of the process.  And honey, that's just not the way Real Life is.  Whether we're talking about scrapbooking, or knitting, or organizing your closet, or dealing with co-workers.

OK - end Life Lesson.  Paging through Courtney's book has me excited about scrapbooking again.  Has me thinking, "I can *do* this!" Because her tips and comments are empowering, yes, but also reminders that have the ability to slap you upside the head, even in their simplicity.

Like this tip from the Making Art Faster chapter...

Continue reading "Scrapbooking Simplified" »

Fortune True Re-Usable Bags

Over the past year or so, I've become more interested in reusing and recycling. I've blogged a bit about various related activities, such as experimenting with 'plarn', and crocheting a sturdy re-useable grocery bag.

So I was quite pleased to see digital designer Clara Wallace's new venture, Fortune True Re-Usable Bags "of delightful design".  I was even more pleased when she sent me a handful to 'test drive'. 

The bags came out of the package in a rainbow of color was indeed delightful.  The pink, blue, and green are so bright and vivid - just make-you-smile springy colors.  The black zebra print is very cocky and sassy, while the black damask is very stylish and classy.  Clara's bag designs are just as happy and professional as her digital scrapbooking design work. (her chick graphics are legendary!)

The bags are very sturdy, with strong straps that can handle a good yanking.  They are obviously suited for carrying groceries, but I also use them for corralling knitting supplies, and toting my "digital scrapbooking ambassador kit" to crops.  Very roomy, with an extra little pocket on one of the outside side panels, great for a spare key or cell phone.

I'm thrilled to add these bags to my reusable arsenal - I'm armed with 'delightful design'!

(will edit to add photos as soon as I can!)