Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Dreams

Ah, I can almost smell the sun, sand and surf :-)

Here's another card for the Splitcoast VSN featuring Bombshell Stamps. This one uses Rise and Shine and Hawaiian Girl.

I flipped the current CPS Sketch upside down for my design.

And also kept with the Cupcake Craft Challenge Summer Delights theme of 'What Summer Means to Me'.

The 45 minute time limit certainly keeps a person reined in.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Boy Am I Rusty

It's VSN weekend at Splitcoast so I thought I'd give it a go and make something. Yikes - my skillz need a tune-up. Spinal surgery will do that to a gal :-)


The challenge was to use your oldest floral stamp (mine was an auxiliary image from Bombshell Angel)
 and some older paper. The butterfly is from the Butterfly Queen stamp set.

I also thought it was a good fit for the Girly Girl Challenge at Quirky Crafts.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dinner's Ready In Two Minutes: Sliders

They don't call 5:00 PM the witching hour for nothing. After making dinner a couple thousand times for your family (in my case I think it's about 3700 suppers since I got married) you need a break. For me, that break is sliders.

They're easy enough to make, freeze well, are infinitely customizable and warm up in less than two minutes. How crazy is that?

Start with ground beef. We usually use 2/3 of a bag (12 patties) of Costco sirloin patties, but if pounds of fresh ground are on sale, I eyeball the right amount.

You'll also need one bag of Costco Dinner rolls. You can use any dinner rolls you like - I'm just going for the easiest possible path here.

Sprinkle your large patties with seasoning - I use garlic salt - and cut each into three pieces. Shape each piece into small patties. If using ground beef you'll have to guess-timate. Your goal is a patty that is about two inch inches in diameter.

Cook to desired doneness. We like ours well done and I cook the burgers indoors on our George Foreman Grill.

See how cute they are:

Allow to cool completely. And I really mean it! COM-PLETE-LY!!!!! If you don't, the meat will let off steam in the bag and your buns will get soggy. I'm terrible at letting things cool so I feel your pain - go paint something, then come back.

Cut a roll in half and slide in some meat:

Put them in gallon sized Zip-loc freezer bags. One dozen fit comfortably in each bag.

Next time you know your day is going to be frantic you can defrost a bag of these (or as many as you need) and that's one thing off your list. You can warm these from frozen as well but it takes about a minute longer.

To reheat: put several sliders on a dinner plate (our plates hold about five), cover in Saran Wrap and microwave on high for one and half minutes. Allow to sit for about a minute until serving.

Serve with: lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, cheese, bacon, stir fry sauce, BBQ sauce - whatever you like.

These are also a lifesaver if you need a lunch unexpectedly and they pack well to school or work.

I failed to take a picture of the actual meal (don't you hate that) because, to be honest, we were tired and frazzled and I was busy being grateful that dinner was ready, not taking well-lit shots.

Linked up with:


Join us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap up party!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Snow and Jelly Beans

We woke up to this:

So I'm going to just pretend it didn't happen and focus on Jelly Beans - yes, jellybeans - because that is how we ended J fortnight.

The kiddos and I dipped our toes into our latest "cookbook" (seriously, only in the very loosest terms would I call this a cookbook; it's more a crafting with food book; which is okay too.) What's New Cupcake? and did some decorating. We made corn:

and pies:

and the boys had fun goofing about with frosting and candy:

But the real truth of the matter came into play when my eleven year old - a sugar hound of the first order - had to take a knife and clean all the "stuff" off his cupcake before it was edible. We just aren't the globs of candy a top ton-o-frosting type.

Here's the review I left at Amazon:

Cute But Inedible

My kids and I have both of the cupcake books and we've made several of the projects from them (corn, bake sale pies, penguins to name a few). While the creations are adorable and get rave reviews for looks - they are too sweet and too piled with frosting, candy and baked goods to be eaten. Take the pies for example, once you add two layers of frosting and jelly beans to a cupcake it's too sweet to eat.

I love to bake from scratch and (call me old-fashioned) I think the final product should be delicious and beautiful; not either or.

This book deserves a 4 for cuteness ( although it's not as fresh as "Hello, Cupcake") and a 2 for eatability.

And since I can't not mention the record breaking snow, here's a lookie-loo at our back yard this morning:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Planters and Mac and Cheese

When I saw Amy at Positively Splendid's planters I knew it was just the thing to spruce up our front porch (remember, the relatives are coming). I had most everything but the largest pots on hand so this came together in no time at all. What do you think?

If you want to make one just click on the Positively Splendid link above; Amy lays it out in easy to follow steps. 

Another neat thing I found was a great recipe for Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese on Monkey See- Monkey Do. It makes my mouth water just looking at it. We've had it twice since Yolanda posted the recipe and I barely got this picture before it was all gone. So delicious!

And finally, we had this one straggly looking tomato that was too feeble to plant outside so I experimented with the sub-irrigation planters:

Here's a close-up:

Ironically, this once near-dead wisp of a tomato is the only one that survived and it's huge now. Yay! In case you're wondering, the penny keeps the water from growing slime. Our youngest loved watching the bottle fill up with roots. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Zippy Laundry Room Decor

Hey everyone :-)

A couple of quick housekeeping things~

* I added picture links to my most popular tutorials along the right side of the page. Now you can find them without having to read through a list. Let me know if you like this better.

* My doc put me on 50% power for the next while. I am allowed to do exactly half of what I've been doing. Not more! So I am going to be blogging closer to 2-3 times a week instead of 4-6. I'm doing less, so there will be less to share. I have a bunch of big medical decisions to face in the next fifteen days so if you could keep me in your thoughts and prayers I would really appreciate it. My DH noticed I had no clear concept of "less" when I started cooking batches of freezer meals so I'd be prepared to do less. Apparently it doesn't count if you just do the work faster.

* I've given up my wonderful positions at Gauche Alchemy and Bombshell Stamps. It just kills me as I love both companies and really enjoyed my relationships with everyone. It's been too hard with me being stuck in bed, too shaky to stamp or make cards and too worn out from pain and meds to think clear enough to participate in a meaningful way. I'm incredibly grateful to the owners for being so supportive through this rough patch in my life. So... I'm just me now. No DT accolades. I can't tell people who scrunch up their face in disgust at my SAHM-ness that I "do design work for two creative companies" LOL. Just Nicole, nothing more, nothing less.

What I can do is wield a mad spray can :-)

My mom, aunt and uncle are coming for a visit and I haven't seen any of them in years. Since we moved into this house three years ago my health has been degenerating and it still has the bland look of a spec house and a barely moved into one at that. I am scrambling (well, 50% scrambling) to add a little personality to our house before they get here. We are working on our six month emergency fund so money is just as tight as it always is so I have to do this on the cheap.

Tip one:

Buy paint (spray or otherwise) in the colors of your decor so you always have it on hand. Since I am keying my accessories off of this fabric, I pick up the appropriately red, green, yellow and blue with those marvelous 40% off coupons - you know the ones I refer to:

My budget to spruce up the laundry room was under five bucks. I was just trying to add a little color. I found cabinet door fronts at Restore (Habitat for Humanity) for a dollar each. They were white so I didn't prime them; I just washed them thoroughly, scruffed them up a bit with sandpaper and spray painted them. I didn't worry about taping off the center area as the blackboard paint will cover the bright colors completely.

Next I painted the inside panel of the door fronts with blackboard paint left over from the Whiteboard Makeover. After conditioning the chalkboard I wrote laundry themed messages on them.

The door hinges are perfect spots to thread with ribbon for a hanger. To finish them off, after hanging I attached a matching bow to cover the bottom part of the picture hanger. 

Now we have a friendlier, albeit still in desperate need of paint, laundry room and it looks like we've lived here for more than a weekend.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Letters to Juliet

We missed the opera Friday due to my back issues. It makes me doubly happy that we have rush tickets for the theater. If you or someone you love have chronic health conditions, rush tickets can be the difference between being able to get out and soak in a little culture and missing it entirely. With rush tickets, you can go to any night of the theater and all you need to do by way of pre-planning is show up about an hour (sometimes less) before curtain. For me, it's impossible to predict how I'm going to feel on say, June 16th at 7:00 PM. But I can tell you at 5:00 PM if I'm well enough to go out at 6:00.  

Since we lost our one shot at the opera, we made up for it on Saturday with a movie. I have been wanting to see Letters to Juliet since the previews came out and it did not disappoint. Here's the blurb:

Letters To Juliet is an enchanting love story --  a tale of encountering new sparks and rekindling old flames.  When Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a young American, travels to Verona, Italy -- the romantic city where Romeo first met Juliet -- she meets a group of volunteers who respond to letters written to Juliet seeking romantic advice.  Sophie finds and answers a letter that has been lost for 50 years, and is stunned when its author Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) arrives in Italy with her handsome but overprotective grandson (Christopher Egan) to find the fiance she left decades before.  Fascinated by Claire's quest, Sophie joins them on an adventure through the beautiful hills of Tuscany searching for Claire's long lost Lorenzo. The journey will change their lives forever, as they discover it's never too late to find true love. 

My thoughts:

Yes, it's a romance so you can predict who will end up with whom. I think even the paragraph above implies as much.

But unlike some romances, each character was drawn so vividly, the location was breathtaking and the acting was superb. I wanted Claire to find her Lorenzo after fifty years apart. I wanted Sophie to have Claire in her life more permanently and to realize her guy wasn't the man she deserved.

Victor (Claire's fiance) was well written to a point. I like that he didn't have to be "bad" for you to see he wasn't for her. He didn't have as much range as I would have liked but frankly, how many guys in their 20s have range? Or girls for that matter? I also thought his last scenes were a little too convenient but that too fit with his character.

I've always wondered who goes to a foreign country, meets fascinating, kind, welcoming people and then heads off adventuring with them. Anyone have this happen in real life? I'd love to hear about it.

This would be a great movie to see with your sisters, mom, girl friends... my DH loved it too, but he likes romances and Rom-Coms.

Now I must go, learn to speak Italian and move to Verona. Ciao!

Rating: PG
Stars: 9/10 stars for me 8/10 for Chris
Objectionable content: None really. The betrothed couple share a hotel room but nothing is implied.  I think someone may have said "crap" ... it's pretty clean and kid safe if they like romance movies.
Overall Opinion: Absolutely worth the two hours and price of popcorn. I laughed, cried and smiled my way through the whole movie. Didn't notice any dull spots and wanted to spend a lot more time in their world. Incredibly well done.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Awards, Features, Memes and Friends

I've been such a bad friend lately. Tons of cool cats and kittens have featured my posts and given me blog awards and I have been rotten about posting them. So here goes ~ 

You can see my Arroz con Pollo at:


My Paper Towel and Burlap Wreath at:

These Magical Years
The Whiteboard to Magnetic Chalkboard Makeover was featured at Craft Gossip and at: 


Heather from Me Making Do passed on this cool Trendy award. She's so sweet.

The Trendy Treehouse

I'm passing it on to:

Michelle @ Dilly Dally and Flitter

These are all blogs I've come to really look forward to reading each morning. Girls, you can get your award button HERE .

Bec at The I Heart Blog (she's a total sweetheart and does the coolest things) gave me this award:

10 Things About Me:
1. We paid off all our non-mortgage debt yesterday. We thought it would take a year or two but we've been fierce and now we have no credit card, no second mortgage, no car payments, no landscaping bills - zilch! Woo-hoo!

2. My favorite movie is the Replacements. And yes, an R rated football movie with strippers seems like an odd choice but it's so romantic and it makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. I've watched it oodles of times.
The Replacements (Keepcase)

3. I won an award once for being able to take apart, reassemble, and shoot a rifle faster than those around me. Kinda funny for this granola chick, no?

4. I plan to be vegan again once I'm done healing. I know the vegans in the world just let out a collective groan of horror but I'm trying to follow my bodies signals right now and meat is on my menu about twice a week.

5. Fight Club is my favorite book but I think it is an unsafe book for men under 30... no, maybe 40 to read. I don't think their testosterone flooded brains can handle the content responsibly.

Fight Club: A Novel
6. I have a hard time reconciling how deeply the writings of Joseph Campbell resonate with my impression of the world, life and faith. That said, it bugs the heck out of me when people describe him as a "Men's Movement" guy. So missing the point (says this Christian Feminist).

The Power of Myth
7. I've written 5 novels. I've submitted 0 novels.

8. I love  Neil Gaimen His writing is the hot sauce on my burrito. Love to have a tenth of his talent.

American Gods: A Novel

Cute story: Avery and I were talking and I told him he was the hot sauce on our families burrito. He thought about it for awhile and told me I was his ghost chili. I think that's the sweetest thing I've ever heard.

9. I'm going to Europe for the first time in my life later this year. All that's holding us back now is my health. So Lord, please fix my back. Thank you.

10. Women in my family suffer really bad health until about 50 and run big-breasted and a little fat. Sometime around 50 their health works itself out, they get skinny and live into their 90's. How backwards is that? I do look forward to being a foxy (healthy) old bird.

And I pass on my versatile blogger award to:

Cheryl of The Ink Trap is frankly one of the most talented and amazing card makers I've ever seen. I have no ideas why she isn't publishing books and being famous for her super portion of creative awesomeness. Seriously. You can even ask my family, they know her work by sight. Love it. She gave me this Sunshine Award and I thank her.

I'm sharing it with:

Speaking of Tara and Mary; they tagged me on a ten questions meme.

Tara's Questions 

1) What is your favorite food that you can cook really well?
Beef Burgundy or Arroz con Pollo

2) If you could DATE a movie star, just once, who would it be?
Craig Ferguson - because Chris has my whole heart, if I had to spend an evening without him I'd want it to be with someone hilarious!

3) If you hit the lottery, what is something you'd do FOR SOMEONE ELSE?
I have a few friends who are in school or are pursuing continuing ed. I am so proud of them an would want to pay their tuition.

4) What is your musical guilty pleasure? (rap? country? show tunes?)
Rap... the nastier the better.

5) Do you have any nicknames (or did you growing up)?
Niki niki tambo nosurambo uma moochi gama gama goochie,
Niksterudle, Niki...

6) What is your dream vacation?
Bora Bora  with my honey.

7) What will they carve on your headstone?
" I told you I was sick!"  
"“While on earth my back was lame, I had to nurse and heed it. But now I’ve gone to a better place, where I don’t even need it.”

More practically:

Loving wife, dedicated mother, chid of God. 

8) What is something you splurge on at the supermarket?
Good dark chocolate. It helps my medication work faster so I have a piece several times a day.

9) Share a memory that makes you laugh every time you think of it.
Chris caught his hair on fire with the candles around the tub on our wedding night. It was hilarious - not scary as all he had to do is dunk under the water. He was barely singed but it let off a lot of nervous pressure.
When Avery was little he discovered trash talking. While beating me at cards he blurted, "So who's your butt now?" 

10) What speed do you drive at when the speed limit is 55?
I don't drive, but if I did, 55.

Mary's Questions:

1) What is your favorite pie?
Chocolate Pecan followed closely by Pecan and Key Lime. I don't really like fruit pie but I'll eat apple pie if I have to. 

2) If you could be a movie star, which one would you be?
Mary is going to hate this answer, but I'd pick Angelina Jolie. She's gorgeous, tough, maternal, philanthropic, a citizen of the world, several shades of awesome and she can totally kick ass. I wish she'd gain a little weight though as she looked better before she got so thin. Otherwise, she's my first choice. 

3) What is your dream job and why? 
Motherhood. Sorry to not be more interesting. I used to want to be a writer but that dream is dying a slow and painful, writhing death. 

4) What talent do you have that most people don't know about? 
Tough question! I really have no idea. I never think of myself as all that talented. I'm best at being a mom but it's not like I'm a secret mom so... I don't know. 

5) What is the nicest thing anyone ever said to you?
My friend MaryEllen has said a number of incredibly nice things about my parenting skills. Can't quote them verbatim but it has meant a lot over the years.

6) Besides world peace, what do you wish for?
I know this is really selfish, but I would really love to have great health, specifically, a healed back. But if I was actually faced with a genie, I'd want a long, happy life for my boys. 

7) What is the most important thing your parents taught you?
Be polite. Respect your elders. Take care of those less fortunate than you. 

8) What is your favorite herb?
Tarlek! Ha! 

For cooking, fennel. 

9) What is your favorite Dr. Seuss character?
The Lorax

10) How ticked are you that I tagged you with these questions? LOL.
Somewhat tickled :-)

I'm tagging:

And my Questions Are:

1. What decade is your favorite (you don't need to have lived through it)?
2. Do you subscribe to any particular philosophic views or doctrines?
3. How many kids did you want? How many do you have?
4. Do you watch TV? What's your favorite show(s)?
5. What song lifts your spirits when you're in a bad mood?
6. What's your favorite body part and why?
7. Do you dance?
8. Cake, cupcakes or pie? Why?
9. What's your favorite quote?
10. Do you like to read? What books have you read lately and recommend?

Now pass on your questions to your friends.


Sorry if I missed anyone. Thanks for all the love :-)