Friday, November 11, 2011

{flashy} the details

Oh hi there!

I remember you. Do you remember me?

No? Oh. 

Well, I suppose I can't blame you for that one. 

Have I mentioned that I am a wonderful procrastinator? So good in fact that I don't do, at all, what I am procrastinating to do. I think that made sense...

Growing up in southern California we never really had true seasons. It was a very welcomed change when we moved to Oregon last year. I have been relishing in the changing colors as fall has come and seems to be quickly heading back out. 

I so often find myself just lost in my surroundings, taking in all the beauty around me. We live in a truly spectacular world. 

I try not to dismiss the little details. It's the details, the beauty, the wonder, the awe, that makes small moments so joyous. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

{off topic} Changes

I'm totally rollin' with 'em.

A lot has changed in the last, oh 45 days, or so. On July 24th my husband and I wrote an offer on a house. We saw the house the day before, and within minutes knew it was the right place for us. Granted, neither of us really expected to purchase a house this year. And not just A house, our first house. We have been saving for it, and occasionally looking, but we felt that we wouldn't find "the" place until after I came back from Cambodia. Then we found this place. I didn't expect to like it from the listing pictures but was really surprised when we walked in to find that it had everything we have been looking for. A spare room, closet space, a pantry - let alone a walk-in pantry! and it has a yard. It wasn't exactly the cute house with a big yard I was hoping to find, but it had what we actually needed and at the asking price, it was hard to walk away! So, as I said, on July 24th we wrote our offer. Since it was a Sunday it was submitted the next day. On August 26th we were signing! 31 days. That's fast! Everything fell in to place as it was meant to be. My husband had to leave town for a week for work just two days after we signed, so we officially moved in to our new house this past Monday. It feels great to finally be in a space we can call our own. We already have big plans, for much later on down the road.

On top of that my little man started pre-school today. Preschool!? How did that happen? He is going 3 days a week, for 2.5 hours each day. I think its just enough time to give him a break from mommy. And mommy some time to craft, or who knows, maybe even read :-) At this time last year he was terrified at the idea of going to school. He has changed so much over the course of a year, he is definitely not my little baby anymore. This morning was all smiles and hugs getting ready for school. He had a wonderful time, and is even excited to go back on Monday.

The craft show I am doing in October is fast approaching! I am nowhere near ready. I would love to get another 10-15 items done before then, as well as a ton of vinyl wall sayings. I will have a new craft space in our spare room so lets hope that, combined with some free time now, I will push on through. I am still praying for a good turn out. I would love to get my name out there and start a little side business. And of course, selling a few items would be great too! It would be a nice addition to my Cambodia fund.

The Pastor of my church has been speaking more of Cambodia, and Cambodian people, in the last several weeks and it always leaves me in tears. As well as excited for the opportunity to go and make a difference in their lives. Our church has a great vision to help the people of this country, the pure outpouring of love just leaves me in awe. It really is nothing short of amazing.

I have been blessed in this life with some truly wonderful friends. My dear friend Stephanie still has a Scentsy fundraiser going for me until the end of this month. She has graciously offered me 100% of her commission from this fundraiser! If you are interested in some great Scentsy products for a good cause, you can buy directly from here. Many awesome new items were released this month! Another friend of mine, Liz, has offered up a fundraiser as well! She makes some GORGEOUS hairbows and headbands, and super cute jewelry. And they don't just have to be for your kids! I have purchased from her to send gifts to friends. I wish I could pull off a fancy headband myself, but it just isn't happening. I am hoping to have more details about this soon! I have struggled with guilt since I began fundraising for my trip. I have certainly never been one to ask for handouts. Though I am learning that God has set me on this path, and it will fall in to place as it is supposed to. I will not push. I will not hound. I will, however, take an opportunity to talk about God's plan in me. While I do not want to phish for donations, I do want to give everybody a chance to support a cause. Giving is such a wonderful feeling, I certainly do not want to deny anybody the opportunity. If you would like to support me on my trip you can absolutely do so.

Make checks payable to Horizon Community Church - its tax deductable!
Write "Amanda De Jong Cambodia 2012" in the memo line

Mail to:
Rick Meacham
Cambodia Mission Coordinator
23735 SW Ladd Hill Rd.
Sherwood, OR 97140

I am deeply grateful to my family and friends that have supported me. In contributions, fundraiser purchases, prayers and kind words. It all means so much!

In the last several months I have thought a lot about my "greater purpose" in life. That amplified quite a bit when I decided I was going to Cambodia. I love being a wife and mother, supporting my family's needs and just being there for them, but I wondered what more I could do or that I should be doing. I don't know what exactly my calling is, but I do absolutely feel it growing in my heart to help not only these children in Cambodia but locally as well. I have registered to walk a 5k next weekend, and have also volunteered to help with the event, through Stop Child Trafficking NOW. These walks are happening nationally. I encourage everybody to look for one in your own neighborhood! This organization doesn't just wait to help victims after the fact, they are working to remove the source. Their mission:
"SCTNow exists to stop child trafficking by targeting the source of child trafficking: predators who drive the sex industry everywhere in the world, including in your local community. SCTNow has partnered with specially trained operatives familiar with what it takes to infiltrate, investigate and bring to justice the predators victimizing children worldwide." 
You can check out their events here. While it is absolutely free to walk, I have a personal goal of raising $200 to sponsor my walk. If anybody is interested in sponsoring me, please click here.

If you made it to the end of this post. I totally applaud you. I really need to keep up more often so my posts aren't always a big jumbled mess.

How about I leave you with a picture?

Friday, August 19, 2011

{crafty} Baker's twine giveaway!

Baker's twine is so much fun to play with! I haven't been playing with twine for very long and so far I have kept it pretty simple, but I have seen so many wonderful things done with twine! Visit The Twinery for a chance to win more twine than you'll know what to do with! Make sure to check out the rest of their giveaways from this week as they celebrate their 1 year anniversary. Giveaways all end tonight!

my most recent project with baker's twine

Monday, August 15, 2011

{off topic} Not in a Rut

No, not a rut exactly.

A funk? No, not that either.

Busy? To a certain degree.

Overwhelmed? Yep, I think that's the one.

I feel like I get in this overwhelmed state more and more often these days. There is so much I want to be doing with my time that sometimes I find myself doing none of it, because I can't decide which to focus on. When I sit down at my computer I think of all the things I should be doing. Going through pictures, editing, blogging, perhaps working on a fan base for my Etsy shop and Facebook fanpage. And all I want to do is browse Pinterest and play Cityville. Ok, forget I mentioned Cityville. I'm not proud.

So what have I been doing?

I have been getting my craft on. Albeit, not as much as I would like. My "workflow" is to pretty much start every project I can possibly fit on my desk at one time and then hop around until something is finished. Right now my started-but-not-completed pile is up to 8 projects ranging from frames to printer trays.

I will be selling at a craft fair through my church in October so I am trying to get a move on so I have a decent number, and variety, of items to sell. I am praying for a good day as anything I happen to make from it will go towards my Cambodia missions trip.

Believe it or not, I have been taking pictures. Apparently, not of my new craft items.

Some from my Nikon D90

Others with some fun apps on my Droid

While I haven't been too adventurous in the kitchen, I have made some delicious recipes. Like Blueberry Cardamom Scones, delish! The Pioneer Woman's Dr Pepper Shredded Pork. Two of my favorite things, how could you go wrong? And most recently Roasted Squash with Lentils and Goat Cheese from Smitten Kitchen. Of course, I also have a long list of recipes I have been dying to try like Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Brownies from Jessica at How Sweet It is. Or Knock You Naked Brownies from The Pioneer Woman. And Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough brownies from Brown Eyed Baker.

I suppose you can see where my mind is.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

{flashy} dual purpose

The last several weeks I have put a lot of my spare time in to getting new items up in my Etsy shop. I love crafting. I love creating. I do not feel like it has ever been something that has come easy to me though. My passions have always been drawn to creativity, but I really have to push myself to find it. Whether its papercrafting, cooking, photography, editing, graphic design, interior design, you name it, I love it and want to make it work. I have managed to start 7 new crafty projects in the last few weeks and so far finish 2. But, it will all come in time. 

I welcome a change of pace. I think this is why I start so many things without ever finishing my last "to-do" item. Last Wednesday when my son said "Its such a great day for taking pictures!" I rushed him outside and followed him around with my camera as he took pictures with his. Even better, he had just gotten his haircut about an hour before. No "grooming" required. 

 This little guy just turned 4. I still can't quite believe it.
His smile lights up my day.

I am so blessed to be able to stay at home with him and watch him grow into a little man with such a big personality.

Some days may be hard, but we always make each other laugh

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time To Get Personal

Since moving to Oregon last summer my perspective of life has changed in so many ways. I have met some amazing people over the last 12 months. Amazing people with such deep devotion in Christ that led me to evaluate my own faith which I let go of many years ago. After a lot of conversation and thought I started attending church. Several weeks later, honestly somewhat to my surprise, I found myself with an overwhelming urge to give myself to Jesus. And I did.
I am a new believer in Christ, with so much to learn and experience. The last thing I want is to tell somebody I am Christian, then only go to church on Sundays and never truly ‘practice what I preach.’ So I am putting this out there for all my friends and family, believer or not, accepting or not, this is now a part of who I am.

As I have gone on this journey I have started to see events in my life as God’s doing, not coincidence or chance. Josh and I were meant to be here; together, in this place, in this city, with these people we have met. It has all brought us closer to God. 

Two nights ago I was talking to Josh about supporting a friend who is going on a medical mission trip to Cambodia. This discussion of giving some money to help quickly turned in to me going as well. For far too long I have felt myself become emotionally overwhelmed by stories of child abuse, malnourishment, sex trafficking, etc. only to walk away from it and forget about it. It can be so easy to separate yourself from something you do not see first-hand. I have always admired those who step up to be a voice for these people but never put myself into a situation where I can make a difference. I think it is time for a change. Two nights ago I planned on giving money to a friend so that she can help those in need. Today I am writing to tell you all that I will be going to Cambodia as well.

In January our group will be heading in to villages in Cambodia that have no means of medical or dental care. Children here are sold into slavery, the girls into sexual slavery, to pay for their families medical needs. They cannot even afford the most basic of needs, like aspirin or vitamins. How can I not be a part of this? I obviously have no medical background, but I can be there to assist and support in any way that I can.

I believe this will change my life. It will deepen faith. Open my heart and show me what it is like to really serve and make a difference in this world. It will change the lives of the people in these villages.

I am asking for prayer. Pray for a safe trip. Pray that we can reach, spiritually and medically, as many people of Cambodia as humanly possible. Pray for change.

I still can’t quite believe that I am doing this. It is so beyond me at this point. Now if telling you all this isn’t enough, I have to do something else I never saw myself doing. Our team needs financial support. We must buy all the medical supplies necessary. We have been told to pack as little as possible so that we have room to transport these supplies. I wish I was in a place where I could pay my way and be done with it but now I am asking my family and friends, in addition to prayer,  for support to help send me on this journey. If all you can offer is your prayers, believe me, I will take it. Please do not feel obligated. This is an opportunity for us all.

Support can be payable by check to Horizon Community Church with “Cambodia 2012 Amanda De Jong” in the memo line and mailed to me. If you do not have my address you can contact me through my Blogger profile.

A great friend of mine has also started a Scentsy Fundraiser for the cause. Just click on the “buy from party” link next to “Cambodia Medical Mission” She has graciously offered to donate 100% of her commission from sales of this party.  If you aren't familiar with Scentsy feel free to ask me about their products!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mommies Funding Research

Over the last several years, since I became pregnant with my son, I got to know many wonderful woman through I was part of a birth club of woman that were all due in the same month as I was. Sharing our experiences and helping each other along the way. Two woman from my birth club gave birth to beautiful, strong, inspirational children that fought every day of their lives before passing away due to genetic disease; Hannah from MPS, and Sawyer from SMA.

Tonight, at midnight, starts the 4th annual online auction that was started by a group of Babycenter moms to raise funds and awareness to cure both MPS and SMA. Please check it out! All items have been donated by individuals both on and off this online community. They range from gift cards to handmade items. One of the great things about this auction, is that you send your winning bid directly to the research organization specified on the item. You don't have to worry about money switching hands or where its going, which lets face it gives some peace of mind.

There are a lot of great items up for bid this year! The auction will continue through July 7th. Instructions for how to bid are on the homepage of the auction site towards the bottom.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, June 17, 2011

{tasty} BLT...BAS?

I have a problem.

If its not already evident by the recipes I have already posted, its somewhat a theme, I LOVE bacon. but that's not actually the problem I wanted to talk about...

I am downright terrible at measuring ingredients. You would think if I intend to share a recipe that I would take the time to measure, but I like to make things up as I go along. And if I DO measure, its a pretty safe bet to say I don't write it down. So a month later, when I'm finally ready to post the recipe, I have no idea what I used or how much of it went where. 

This recipe however is so simple that its pretty easy to recall. So simple, that I almost feel silly posting it. But I have to. Its too delicious not too. You'll thank me for it. 

This bacon/lettuce/tomato is actually a bacon/arugula/sun dried tomato spread. and every bit of deliciousness. 

You can make the spread ahead of time. The flavors develop wonderfully. You would, at least, want to make and refrigerate it prior to starting your bacon.

Sun Dried Tomato Spread:
2/3 cup mayonnaise -I happen to have found and love this black pepper mayo. If you use the regular stuff I suggest adding a nice spicy dash of pepper to the spread.
14 sun dried tomato halves
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic -yes, I totally go the convenient route, but fresh garlic for this would be great!

Add all ingredients together in a small food processor and blend until well incorporated. It will be a little chunky. 

this is pre-refrigeration. I wouldn't say its the prettiest picture, but it brightens up nicely while it sits.

For the rest of the sandwich you will need:
16 slices thick cut bacon
14oz Ciabatta flatbread loaf
8oz sharp white cheddar cheese, sliced
additional balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Cook the bacon until crisp, cut in half, set aside

Cut a 14oz ciabatta flatbread loaf in to 4 equal pieces across the short side. Then slice each across through the middle. Brush each piece with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toast in the oven until lightly browned. 
You can use ciabatta rolls for this, but the flatbread gives you a little more surface area to pile on all the good stuff.

Slather the sun dried tomato spread on all 8 pieces of bread. Don't be shy. Starting with the bottom piece of bread, pile on a large handful of arugula, followed by 8 half slices of bacon, then several slices of the sharp white cheddar. top with the other piece of sun dried tomato laden ciabatta and enjoy!

Serves 4

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Oh hi there.

Did you know I have a blog? Because apparently, I didn't.

Every day that I sit down at my computer I stare at my blogger bookmark and try to talk myself in to clicking on it. I think part of me is feeling too overwhelmed, trying to work on the piles of projects I would like to do, to focus more attention on editing pictures and writing enough to sound a little interesting.

I do have a recipe to share. I will do what I can to get that posted tomorrow.

So back to where I was,
Oh hi there!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

{crafty} new pictures = new layouts

I am admittedly terrible at printing my own photos. I have a large stack of pictures printed from Carson's birth to about 2 years old and have ever so slowly worked my way through to scrapbook them. For whatever reason, creating pages with old pictures is terribly difficult for me. Its hard to get inspired. Maybe its because I have grown in my photography so all my old pictures seem so...blah? But then there is a flip-side to that. I have gotten horrible at taking snapshots of my son. I have some portraits that I love, but I no longer capture the day to day like I used to. I suppose it goes that way for a lot of people when you get out of the new mom/baby stage.

I wanted to create some new pages so I decided to print out some recent pictures.
Its inevitable. That stack of 3 year old photos is doomed to collect dust. It is just so much more fun to create pages with fresh pictures. 

For the first layout I wanted to focus on one larger image. I am still in love with this picture from our first real snow. I didn't really want to create something wintry so I chose to go with these gorgeous papers from the My Minds Eye So Sophie collection.

I used my CTMH edge distresser to rough up the pattern paper and to tear larger areas to allow the  background to peek through. 

I think my favorite part may be the tree. I glued down the large die cut tree and then layered the smaller sticker tree over the top with glue dots.

A little trick for using stickers this way; I stick it down on cardstock first and then cut it out. This gives you a little freedom to move it around the page and also lets you pop it up without leaving any stickiness exposed for things to get caught on. 

Supplies Used:
Bazzill cardstock
MME So Sophie papers
MME So Sophie & Quite Contrary diecuts/stickers
CTMH rub-ons
Sassafrass Lass chipboard
Prima flowers
Martha Stewart Optic Dot punch
Grey and yellow seems to be a popular color combo lately. I, for one, love it! I wanted to give it a shot on a layout and love the way it turned out. These pictures are from a walk my son and I recently took around our complex. He found a large stick and called it his super hero stick. It protected us from bugs and brushed leaves out of our way. So sweet, that boy is. 

The pattern paper is much more an accent in this layout. Using as much patterned paper as is in the first layout is actually rather new to me. I have always been afraid of that much print, despite loving it in other's work. If you flip through my scrapbook albums you would definitely see a re-curring theme; solid cardstock as a base. 

Supplies Used:
Bazzill Cardstock & borders
My Minds Eye So Sophie paper
American Crafts Thickers
Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist
CTMH rub-ons & embossing powder
Crate Paper chipboard
Martha Stewart checkerboard border punch
EK Success binding edge border punch

Thursday, May 5, 2011

{crafty} Little Princess Frame & Etsy

I am in love with this frame! I wish I had a reason to keep it for myself. 

This cute little frame has a temporary home in my new Etsy shop! Awesomely enough, Etsy has a mini version that perfectly fits in my sidebar! à

Ahh the little things that excite me. I am hoping to start filling it with items soon. I have lots of ideas in mind, I just have to make them come to life! I am going to have to start giving myself deadlines.

The Basic Grey Olivia collection has been so much fun to play with that its actually been a little difficult doing more boy stuff lately.

I took a 7x9 solid MDF frame and first painted the sides in a dark teal color. I used mod podge to adhere the paper, and then did another coat over the top to seal it.  

The bunny chipboard piece was accented with Glossy Accents. 

The label chipboard piece was stamped with a small flower in Ocean blue, both from CTMH. And layered with a felt sticker from the Olivia collection, and a chipboard banner from My Minds Eye Fine & Dandy. And of course, the ball fringe, have I mentioned before how much I love this stuff? Its too fun and too cute to resist!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

{tasty} Grilled Polenta w/Roasted Veggies

If I have zucchini and bell pepper on hand, chances are I am going to chop them up and roast them.

When I roast vegetables I will want to flavor them further with balsamic vinegar, because its just the right thing to do. 

And chances are if I have a lovely, delicious, bright, colorful vegetarian dish like this I will have to add Italian sausage, because I can't leave well enough alone. 

Ok Ok, Enough with the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie throwback...

There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but luckily they are all rather simple. I love the flavors of this dish, I may be a little obsessed with balsamic vinegar. Can you blame me?

  • ½ cup ground cornmeal
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp salt

Balsamic Veggies & Sausage
  • ½ pound Italian Sausage
  • 1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and  coarsely chopped
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • ½ can artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt, divided

You will want to make the Polenta ahead of time so it has time to firm up before slicing and grilling.

In a medium sauce pan bring broth, milk, and bay leaf to a low boil. Slowly add in cornmeal while whisking to avoid clumping. Turn heat to low and cook about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat and add salt and Parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then dallop it all down onto a large piece of plastic wrap and roll back and forth forming a log. If you want to simplify it a little more you could easily mold it into a lined loaf pan. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine zucchini, eggplant, onion and bell pepper on a lined baking sheet and toss with 2tsp olive oil, vinegar and ¾ tsp salt. Roast for about 15 minutes; toss and continue roasting until nicely browned, about 30 minutes more.

While the veggies are roasting, combine tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, 1 tsp olive oil, garlic, remaining salt, parsley and basil in a bowl; toss to coat. Set aside and let all those wonderful flavors marry in to each other. 

Remove the Polenta from plastic wrap and slice into ½ inch slices. Cook on a greased grill pan on medium high heat for about 3-5 minutes per side.
While polenta is cooking brown the sausage in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Once browned add the roasted veggies and cook for about 2 minutes longer. Turn off heat and add the tomato mixture; toss well. Serve over polenta. 

Serves 4. *Adapted from Weight Watchers*

Thursday, April 28, 2011

{tasty} Today

Today, I slow cooked a brisket in nothing but this...

and I quite liked it. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

{crafty} Blast From the Past Blog Hop

Welcome to Taylored Expressions Blast from the Past Blog Hop! The theme this month is CLEAN & SIMPLE. How is it that simple can be so difficult? This card came together quickly but I can't help but look at it and want to add more.

I used kraft cardstock for the base, all other papers are from TE's November '10 monthly kit.

I used the TE Scallops & Circles impression plate on the blue cardstock and inked the edges. 
I stamped the coffee cup, from the Sprinkled with Love stamp set, onto the polka dot paper twice and used pop dots to create some depth. I stamped it once more on cream cardstock and cut out just the cream and again popped it up. 

A chipboard label covered with cream paper is home to my sentiment from the From the Heart Funnies set. And finished off with a sheer blue ribbon.

This is a truly simple card for me, but I think the color combo gives it a nice little pop and this cute little coffee cup has me craving a cup now!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

{crafty} Canvas wall hanging

I have really been enjoying playing with altered items lately. I found that it comes a little easier to me than creating scrapbook layouts and cards. It is a little difficult for me though to create something without having a purpose for it, or knowing who it will be for. I just keep trying to get out of my comfort zone, and luckily, Im always happy with the results.

I made this wall hanging with 3 thin 5x7 canvases and the My Minds Eye Fine & Dandy collection. I started with the "Dream everyday of your life" chipboard piece and continued the theme for there. I wanted it to be an inspiration and hopefully, wherever this item ends up, that is exactly what it will be.

The flowers are simply made, but I love the look. I cut several circles out in different sizes and papers, inked the edges and then roughed them up with a paper distresser. I layered them and finished off with brads and buttons, using ribbon as the stems. Also used on this canvas was glimmer mist, Fiskars scalloped border punch, brown ric-rac and staples. 

While searching through my rub-on stash I found this "Dream and then make it happen" from CTMH. I had them both in white and brown which worked out well to contrast off the chipboard clouds. Also used glimmer mist, Martha Stewart Optic Edge border punch, Crate Paper chipboard, silver pearls, and ball fringe. 
I LOVE ball fringe!

For the last canvas piece I created a banner. I totally cheated and used my Cricut for this. I think it probably would have been faster to just cut them myself, but I'm not the greatest when it comes to keeping a straight line. The letter stickers are from the Pink Paislee "Fetching" collection. Also used on this piece: glimmer mist, Basic Grey "Cupcake" rub-on, Ek Success border punch, and silver pearls.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

{tasty} Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread

Beer bread is something wonderful. Its fool proof, and sometimes thats exactly what I need. I have been trying my hand at home made bread lately and honestly haven't had that much luck. One thing I have most definitely learned is that you cannot go by a set amount of time when it comes to allowing the bread to rise. And yes, I learned that the hard way. It all comes down to temperature. For rising and baking. Slowly but surely I am working out all the kinks.

With beer bread, however, that is not an issue. And better yet, it is SO simple and super versatile.

Basic Beer Bread
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 12oz bottle of beer

See? Simple! You can even omit the baking powder by using self rising flour.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can season it however you want. Whatever flavor calls out to you, just go for it. Also try different beers, as that will change the flavor profile as well. The first time I played with it I came up with this bacon cheddar version and its so good I just don't want to try anything else. I have used the Guinness as I did here. An IPA, which truth be told was not my cup of tea but my husband loved it. And more often New Castle.

To the basic recipe above, add:

  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 375° and grease a loaf pan. Combine all ingredients, except beer, in a large bowl and mix together. Slowly pour in beer and mix until combined. Spread in to loaf pan and bake until golden and toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Bake for 20-25 minutes if doing muffins.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minute, remove from pan and cool 10 minutes more. Serve warm, or room temperature.

And let me tell you, this bread is so moist and tasty that you don't even need butter.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

{tasty} Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I love my slow cooker. If I had the space it would probably have a permanent spot on my kitchen counter. My absolute favorite thing to make is pulled pork. It is easy. Nearly effortless. And downright delicious. Not to mention the leftovers. First things first, leftovers always start with pork & potato tacos. Always. Well, unless in this case where this delicious pork hurried out my door and off to my husbands work for a slow cooker cook off. 

This simple rub is wonderfully earthy and compliments pork nicely. 

Coffee Rub
  • 3 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tbsp Salt
  • 1/2 tbsp Pepper
  • 6 tbsp finely ground coffee

Trim large fat pads from a 3 pound pork shoulder and lightly rub with oil. Work the rub in over the whole roast. You want the sucker totally covered. When you think you have saturated it enough, add whatever rub you have left and saturate it more. Throw it in the crockpot and cook on low for 10-12 hours. Because of the fat content of the pork shoulder you do not have to add liquid. If you use tenderloin, add about 1/2 cup of stock or water. 

When the pork is done use two forks to shred it to pieces. 

Here is where it gets tricky. Its time to add some sauce. But please, do not douse this deliciously earthy pork in your traditional store bought tomato based BBQ sauce. Im begging you. It will be the worst mistake of your life.

It wasn't until recent years that I discovered that other parts of the country consider BBQ to be something totally different than what I grew up with. What I grew up with was nothing more than terrible in a bottle. It rivals Miracle Whip.

The first time I made a vinegar based sauce I fell in love. Its tangy, zippy, a little sweet and surprisingly enough really allows the flavor of the meat to come through. I don't believe I have ever made this sauce the same way twice, but the basics are always there. Apple Cider Vinegar, Mustard, and Brown Sugar. As far as I know this is a Carolina style BBQ sauce. Although it seems this varies a lot region to region.

I have made this pork twice, with 2 different sauces and loved both

Sauce #1
2 cups
 apple cider vinegar

1 cup mustard, just plain old yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, fine grind, or to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon your favorite hot sauce, or to taste

Combine in a saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes. Do not boil. Makes 4 cups. 

Sauce #2
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup applesauce (could use apple juice as well)
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp honey
hot sauce, to taste
black pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Sadly these are all approximations. I threw this sauce together quickly and didn't measure anything. This was actually my favorite sauce with this pork. I will definitely have to make it again and hopefully find that I got this right.

Add your sauce to the pork and cook on high for about 15 minutes. Serve up on buns with Pepperjack cheese. Yum!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

{crafty} decorative letters

I have been wanting to try my hand at more decorative altered-type items for a while. I recently picked up a bunch of canvases and wood frames and such that would be great for altering. I am currently working on a canvas project that I am really excited about. I hope it comes together like I envision it.

In the meantime, I have a letter that I  altered. A good friend of mine recently moved in to a new home and her daughters were able to move from sharing a room to having their own. My idea was to make these for the girls' doors kind of as house-warming gifts, to celebrate their new individual spaces, but I admit I am not always the most timely. Now I have one down, and own to go. Lucky for me the little girl I made this for happens to be having a birthday next week, so at least its good timing for something! Her older sister has a birthday coming up too, so now I have a new deadline for her letter.

I painted the letter black and then used Mod Podge to cover it with this bright grungy pink paper from Basic Grey Olivia- Kembrie.

I love accordian flowers. I made this one with the reverse side of the Olivia - Kembrie paper. I punched and distressed a small circle of scrap paper that I had and then topped it with a cute little felt flower, also from the Olivia collection, for the center of the flower. I layered it over a Making Memories rub on accented with a little green bling.

The paper ruffle is Florence, from the Olivia collection. I simply punched a strip of this paper with the Fiskars scalloped border punch and then pleated it, holding down each pleat with glue dots and then glued the whole thing to the back of the letter. I added a few buttons, ribbon, pearls and a BG Olivia chipboard flower with a little glossy accents in the center and called it a day. 

I'm having fun getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that aren't just for me. I love being able to do girly, flowery stuff every now and then!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

{flashy} Color Inc. Giveaway

Rita over at The Coffee Shop Blog is hosting a fabulous giveaway for a framed gallery wrapped canvas. Head over here to check it out!

{flashy} Snow Day + I Heart Faces entry

Growing up in sunny southern California we never got to experience snow unless we jumped in the car and drove an hour away to look for it. I have memories of playing in the snow with my family when I was young, but in recent years those experiences were few and far between. About 7 years ago (geez has it really been that long?) I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving and while up late spending time with my family we realized it was snowing. I was so excited and so in awe, you would have thought I had never even seen snow before. I think I spent the entire next day sitting on their couch staring out the window, watching the snow fall. Much like rain, I find it to be so peaceful for me. It makes me smile. It makes my soul sing.

When we moved up to the Portland, OR area last summer one of the things I was looking forward to most was winter. Or to even have real seasons at all. The area we live in is no stranger to snow, or so I was told, but I quickly learned that our weather is totally unpredictable. Throughout the winter months we had snow forecasted quite often but rarely did it ever show. And when it did, it was very short lived and never amounted to anything.

Finally, last week there was talk of us being hit with the worst snow storm of the season and I started getting antsy. In the back of my mind I doubted it would happen. Thursday morning we woke up to a beautiful white blanket of snow, and better yet, it was still coming down. Here we were, in the last few days of February and now we have snow.

Carson and I ate breakfast and then went outside to play. I snapped some pictures first and then put my camera away to play in the snow with my son. Within a couple hours the snow had nearly completely melted away. We watched it snow off and on for the rest of the day, never again sticking to the ground.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the day, and that I've taken in recent months as well. It makes me smile. This is what I have been ever-so-impatiently waiting for.

I've come to realize I have a hard time sharing without story telling. This whole entry started because I wanted to submit this photo for this weeks I Heart Faces photo challenge.

So there you have it. A photo, and its story.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

{tasty} Bacon Biscone

Im just going to put it out there.

We are a family that loves bacon.

Its true. Even my son will jump for joy and shout "bacon!" when he finds out I'm making some.

As much as we love bacon, we do try to limit our intake of pure bacon goodness to about once a month or so. And when we do have it, I love to bake with it. Sweet or savory, bacon makes everything better.

My husband requested I make scones with bacon, cream cheese and green onion. It was totally his idea, but heck I did all the work! I made 3 dozen of these biscuits? scones? I suppose its a biscone. I enjoyed a couple and sent the rest off with my husband to work. Im pretty sure they were gone within a day and a half.

First things first, you have to cook the bacon. I usually bake mine on cookie sheets. Its pretty effortless and they cook up great! Take cream cheese and butter out to soften slightly while bacon is cooking

Allow the bacon to cool, and roughly chop. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cube butter and coarsely chop the cream cheese. My idea behind freezing the cream cheese is similar to why you use frozen butter. I wanted pockets of cheese and not so much melted throughout.

Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cube frozen butter and cut into dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender until the butter is the size of peas and some larger pieces. Gradually add in the cold buttermilk until it is just combined. Coarsely chop the cream cheese and 4 green onions, fold in to the biscone mixture, along with the chopped bacon. 
Using an ice cream scooper, arrange scoops of the biscone mixture onto a lined or greased baking sheet. Bake, until the tops are starting to brown, about 20 minutes. 
While these are baking, melt about 2 tablespoons of butter and combine with 1 clove minced garlic and 1 green onion, finely chopped. 
When biscones are slightly browned brush or spoon butter over each one and bake until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes more. 

Bacon Biscones: makes 12

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cold/frozen butter, cut in cubes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups cold buttermilk
  • 4oz cream cheese, frozen
  • 8oz bacon, cooked crisp
  • 5 green onions, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Friday, February 25, 2011

{flashy} Beacon Rock

Pioneer Woman's Sunshine action
When we first moved to the Portland, OR area last summer we tried to spend a lot of time driving around the city discovering new areas and checking out all the city has to offer. Its been a while since we had done this. I suppose the winter weather deterred us a bit. This past Saturday, however, was a gorgeous day. It was about 45 degrees and sunny with blue skies. We decided to hop in the car after lunch and started driving north. We talked about maybe heading in to the Vancouver, WA area so I pulled out my phone to see what there was to do. I found out about a small hiking trail that takes you up to the top of the core of a volcano and once you get there, rewards you with panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge. I'm in! An hour later we arrive and I stood at the base of Beacon Rock thinking "are you kidding me?"

I knew it had to be high to provide the views that were promised but standing there, staring at it, I started to think it wasn't the best idea. The trail was labeled as easy to moderate though, so we set out on our way. My, what felt like 20 pounds, camera bag on my shoulder and my husband carrying our 32 pound almost 4 year old. Let me tell ya, that hike would have been a lot easier without all the extra weight, and for once Im not talking about my own! My camera bag was killing my shoulders, but this was not the time to leave it behind. We made the 800 foot elevation climb and as soon as we made it to the top I started snapping away. It was a gorgeous view on a gorgeous day and some much needed family time outside of the home.

As we entered back in to OR territory the sun was setting amongst a gorgeous sea of clouds rimmed with golden light. I pulled out my camera, rolled down my window, and started shooting. This is one reason my husband always drives!