Thursday, January 8, 2015

Great Soup Recipes and a Celebration Banner

The not too fun part of Christmas Break - injuries at a trampoline place. We go to the orthopedist today after 8 days of pain and misery. At least x-rays show no broken bones.

 The creative fun last Friday was hosting a luncheon for my friends from Germany who were here for a wedding and a visit.
Its been a hard last few months for their family, as the mom is going through breast cancer. One daughter was in the Philippines on a mission and the other going to school in Utah. So, to be all reunited for the 3 of them was wonderful both for them and for us. It was casual but snowflake themed, since we had a lot of little snowstorms all break. I don't think we ever got up to 8 inches of snow total, but it was cold a LOT!
This red tablecloth I folded in thirds and used as a table runner, as it was too small for all the leafs in my table. The candles were flameless and operating and with all the bowls and plates and goblets, I wanted to keep the table simple but festive. My friend left me this beautiful infinity scarf from Germany. . . only wish she could stay longer.
Soup seemed liked the best thing to serve. Mom helped me make them. I made whole wheat rolls and guests brought salads and dessert.  Here are the soups we served. All were yummy.

Boulder Black Bean Soup
  from Simply Colorado Cookbook

2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried whole thyme
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 c. low-sodium chicken broth

2 tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped onion, and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese can be used for optional garnish

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Stir in seasonings and cook one minute longer. Add beans. Use an immersion blender to puree about half of them, leaving several still whole. Bring to a boil over medium heat then simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  May add more chicken broth if needed. We also doubled this for a crowd and I had enough left overs to feed my family that night.

Nordstrom Tomato Basil Soup
  from Serious Eats website

6 T. olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, sliced
1 T. dried basil
3 - 28 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
1 quart chicken broth
1 pint half and half ( recipe calls for heavy cream, but I opted for half and half instead)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil until shimmering in large pan. Add carrots and onion and cook about ten minutes.until beginning to soften. Then add basil and cook another five minutes more. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil,  then reduce heat and simmer between 20-30 minutes, or up to 45 minutes. Let cool for a bit then begin to puree everything with immersion blender. Add half and half and season and mix well. Note* I use a small amount of salt and pepper for my health needs, but a couple of people added quite a bit of salt. I found out later one has severe lack of salt so she does this to everything. Nevertheless, adjust to your liking and enjoy. Everyone who had it really seemed to like it. We didn't double this, but still had plenty left overs.

Chicken Vegetable Soup
  my easy recipe

Chop 2 chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. Place in large pan.
Chop 4 carrots, 1 onion, and 4 stalks of celery into medium sized chunks. Add to pan.
Cover all with chicken broth plus an inch more.
Throw 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. dried parsley, 1/2 tsp. dried sage, and 1/4 tsp. dried thyme and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer for half an hour in a covered pot.
Then add 2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes and let it continue to simmer, adding water as needed for another half an hour. Check your seasonings and add more if necessary. I doubled this.

I almost forgot to show you this easy banner. I made it in colors that will work with my house all year round - red, black, and burlap.  I found the burlap/polka dot background with black letters on it on Pinterest. It was a free download. I copied each letter onto some small cardstock I had in my printer, then cut them out, and put them on 4 x 6 inch ruby red triangles. I punched 1/8" holes in the tops of both sides, and added torn white strips of fabric and some black stitched ribbon and tied them together, and easy as can be, it was done!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Post Christmas Creations

We changed things up a lot this year. 
Maybe this will be a new tradition?
On Christmas Day we went on a hike.
Up to the top of Castle Rock, (a town named Castle Rock with a big rock in the center of town, that has a large star on top.)
It was about a three mile hike, and just perfect for a Christmas afternoon.

Then the day after Christmas instead of hitting all the sales, we spent a while in the basement playing our instruments together. We had: organ, piano, cello, viola, guitar, and jingle bell. It was awesome :-)

 Today between the fun and the chores I got my thank-you cards made. Always fun to squeeze in a little paper crafting over the holidays too.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Craftiness

Less than a week now! 
Just wanted to share some of the creative fun going on at our house.

MyGirl decorated these brownies and gave them to friends. She also shared them last Sunday after Sunday dinner. They were a big hit everywhere.

 While you can't tell from this photo we limited the ornaments we put on this year.
The criteria were hearts, representing me and Mike, stars, representing our children, and nativities. Plus a couple my mom made through the years which are part of our heritage. 
My goal for when the six of us are all together for Christmas are that we will enjoy the simple things, be Christ-centered, and have family-filled-fun!
 These are the cards we sent out. When I got my photos back from Costco, I realized they weren't going to fit into the cards I had already planned, had all the pieces for, and just needed to assemble. This was back in November. Sooooo, I designed this simple greeting to go on the left of the photos, and on the back I had printed our greeting. And I put them all together while watching a Christmas movie on TV one evening. Fortunately, the dimensional star fit the post office's criteria for small enough, and they were off.  I like this collage because it shows something each member of my family thinks is fun
Littlebuddy - being outside and on vacation
BigBuddy - eating the fish he caught
Cowgirl- holding onto her puppy and coming to visit
MyGirl - going to work
Mike and I  - just hanging out together.
 I bought this pattern from one of my favorite quilt companies, Sweetwater, and several of the kits to make them. So far I've given away two for gifts, and have mine to still make and another for my friend who has a winter birthday, so she's getting hers after Christmas. Its only 11 x 14, and when I gave the last one away, it came with a plate of goodies too. I love that the snowman is looking at the star above, and you must know by now that my favorite symbol of Christmas is the star.
 These sugar cookies with peppermint kisses were inspired by the photo above. I made Kulaches, Magic Cookie bars, cut out sugar cookies, caramel brownies, and these kiss cookies or frosted peppermint sugar cookies (for the leftover dough when I ran out of kisses) all in 24 hours, and delivered them too. Its fun to do one day a year, and then I'm done. Fortunately there are enough leftovers when the big kids come home to have them feel like Christmas is here.
 Another project I made for others, and am enjoying myself is bright Christmas ruffled dishtowels. Here is the one in my kitchen, with those leftover cookies to the right.
 I made each of them a little different. Mine has 4 ruffles, and is somewhat heavy. So, the rest I made have only two rows of ruffles and different colored ribbons. I also have some red towels which I got on sale at Williams Sonoma. I made these in the summer, and just had to finish the ribbon in December, so that was a fun, crafty project also. 
In whatever stage of Christmas preparations you are at, I hope it will be simple, fun, and Christ-centered for you also. I'm singing and playing the piano Sunday in our church program and am grateful for the beautiful Christmas music that helps me feel the true spirit of Christmas. 
As my son mentioned last night as we were out delivering treats, its when we give we feel the closest to the Savior, but I was reminded by a friend, that the true joy of Christmas is what we receive - the infinite and eternal love and blessings from our Savior, who was born that Holy Night. He is the Great Gift of Christmas that we can all receive!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2105 Scrapbook Pages

In all the busyness of getting ready to Christmas, this is a project I started in November. I finally finished it last week, when I needed a break from Christmas cards, sewing, wrapping, etc. Remember to double click if you want to see any more details. As usual, I set rules for myself. It makes it a lot easier to get a large project like this done, and they were:

1)use up brads - yes they're old school, but I have a lot that need to be used

2) Stick with one paper packet from CTMH if possible. (Since I'm retired from that company and won't be buying it like I used to, I wanted to remember how great their products are. Most are retired paper packs. Only 4 are still orderable.)

3) Use a CTMH stamp 

4) Use the month-of-the-year circles I got from Archiver's closing out sale.

5) Use CTMH chipboard - I have a lot that needs to be used up. Some I colored with ink, some was left plain or stamped on

6) Use only neutral backgrounds - whites, shades of brown, greys, black

7) Use at least one button

Snowhaven Paper Pack
Neutral:  Whisper Grey

Heart Strings Paper Pack
White Daisy neutral

Skylark Paper Pack
Neutral: Kraft
Used rub-ons instead of stamps here

Balloon Ride
Neutral: Cashmere
Ivy Lane Paper Pack
Neutral: Colonial White

Jubilee Paper Pack
Neutral: Kraft

Timberline Paper Pack
Neutral: Bamboo

Seaside Paper Pack 
Houndstooth Fundamentals: CTMH Paper Fundamentals Basic
Complements are from Chalkboard Line
Neutral: Colonial White

Scholastic and Baby Cakes Paper Packs
Neutral: Slate Grey

Moonlight Paper Pack
Orange (a retired special)
Neutral: Black

Ariana Paper Pack
Neutral: White Daisy

Yuletide Paper Pack
Neutral: Champagne

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chuhily at Night

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. One of the highlights of the long weekend was a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens. They were hosting some glass art by Dale Chuhily, which was all lit up at night, and required special tickets to get in. Although this exhibit started in June I ordered our tickets in October, and it was sold out a couple of days later for the whole rest of the year, so I'm grateful I acted when I did. We missed seeing his museum when we were in Seatlle earlier this year, so I was so happy to get to go now. The weather was lovely, for being Colorado in late November, and the glass sculptures - AMAZING! Here are a few photos to share the variety of color and texture. Many of these are very tall also. It really was so creatively inspiring. We loved it!

 This one below is a good example of how stunning they were when they were in the middle of a pond. Just stunning!

 I had a really hard time capturing a good photo of this one for some reason, but it was one of my favorites.

Just makes me want to create something unique and shiny! :-) Happy December!