Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Exciting News! I am a card desinger and Instructor for Memory Bound in Ankeny!

July Make and Take card for MB Wednesday 1-6
I have been busy working behind the scenes this past may for Memory Bound, it's a dream come true, a goal I have had for a couple years and it's finally happening! I am a Designer and Instructor at our local scrapbook at Memory Bounds! They have such a great eye for products and design I love going to this store as an Artist's Date, to feel inspired and to just see new products!

Thank you Memory Bound for letting me have this opportunity to create with the best-talented crafters in the Des Moines Area, It's truly an honor!

When I was approached by Memory Bound, I was pinching myself, like seriously is this a real thing? I felt honored to be a card designer for them, and to design some make and take cards for Memory Bounds!  I will stop gloating, and give you all the details on what I have been up too!

The info on the make and takes: come into Memory Bound any time from 1-6 on Wednesdays in July to make a card using a water based media technique, the small fee of $3.00 covers the materials and the instructor's time. Go away with a beautiful card to give, or... frame (can't you see that flower framed in your room without a sentiment?)

July Make and Take for MB Wednesday 1-6

I have designed 4 make and take cards for Memory bound for July!!!! Yes, they are all water-based  Media techniques, and I love every single one of these cards, after about 7 different versions of each card I came up with one to make and take home or display in your home... You are not going to want to miss this make and take!

My process for coming up with each card, was starting with a technique that I thought would be fun to do as a make and take, the technique had to be used with the right colors, size, and then add the embellishments, so although you see butterflies and flowers, you can also use other dies, these techniques that you will learn are so open ended you will be addicted to creating your own backgrounds and card bases!

I love that most of these cards are supplies you will have on hand if you are a card maker if not, each card uses about 3-4 products. I like to keep it simple with an elegant touch.

Painting with distress ink

I am also teaching a Water Based Media technique class! Seriously it's going to be awesome, we get our hands dirty with gesso and distress crayons, we use Scribble Sticks, and I am excited to show you how you can turn your Distress ink into watercolor for a beautiful technique called negative painting! Create four beautiful cards that you can take home. With loads of examples on how to utilize the mediums and tools! Space is limited so please register with Memory Bounds for my class! July 20th 2-4pm $20 for the class, you get to make 4 cards, and some new inspiration to take home! Bring a watercolor sketch journal to class to practice on! 

Resist Watercolor with Tim Holtz Distress Crayons

Gesso and Scribble Sticks with a stamped sentiment

If you are new to my blog I like to add a designer tip: so here is my design tip: Keep asking your self what if I did it this way, or added this color, coming up with 4 completely different cards also gave me a chance to use my creative freedom to say What if I added this color, and took this away, or added this die cut. Asking those what if questions and trying out ways to make your art work stand out is all about playing, and not being afraid to try new things... That's why I LOVE MY SKETCH BOOK!!!  my sketch book is my book to try new things, and not feel tied down to a blank card base.

Happy creating! and I hope to see you at my make and takes, or my class! Comment below if you have any questions on the make and take, or the class!

Links to some of the products that we will be using:

Friday, May 26, 2017

How to cook once and eat 4 times from one cooking session.

I HATE COOKING EVERY DAY! Wait what? Really? Yes really, I would much rather be in my art studio dreaming up my next watercolor project. And who has time for cooking a meal every single day… I get burned out on it! SOOO I don’t. I Cheat. And no one knows about it… sometimes my kids are so hungry and they say so are you going to feed us sometime tonight…. (laser eyes from their mother beams at them) at which point I say if your that hungry make some mac and cheese, but we are having some chicken and _________ to go with our chicken, and supper will be ready in about 30 mins.

MY Friends, it’s all about the prep work… I feel like I have this down to a complete science. (but I am sure someone has found an easier way to prep) if so send that info my way.  

Grocery shopping Tuesday morning at Hy-Vee can feel like a magical place. They usually have meat markdowns up to 70% off, that’s when I feel like a scavenger for the best deals on chicken. No joke, I have gotten a 5lb bag of marinated boneless chicken for $5 all I have to do is sous vide these chicken breasts and add a side to my chicken and dinner is done. It’s that simple. Although those opportunities don’t happen all the time here is what I really do:

When whole chickens are a sale, (about every other month I buy about 4-6 chickens. I know that will get us through the next sale. (this way I am never buying chicken at the full price)

Since I don’t want to waste valuable freezer space with a whole chicken I plan that day or the day after to roast the 4-6 chicken, usually a morning or afternoon… but that’s ok, it’s saving me money and time later.  I usually add some spices, I like to do a rub with Italian seasoning on the inside of the skin to penetrate to the meat.  When I take out the chicken and let it cool I discard the skin, which means all the spices would go with it, and I don’t want that.

Note that since I have gotten a Sous Vide, I use that too for an alternative for roasting.

After I am done roasting the chicken I save the last chicken for supper that night, after all I have been roasting all afternoon the house smells like I am a fabulous cook, and everyone especially my dog wants some chicken.

I shred the chicken. I use it for bbq chicken, or for bbq chicken pizza, stews, soups, chicken pot pie, a creamy tortellini casserole, or I use it for salads. After all the chicken is shredded I place about 2-3 cups of shredded chicken into a bag and have about 4 -6 bags of shredded chicken ready to go… and that is one way I save time in the kitchen.

If you are like me and are like there is no way you are getting me to debone a chicken, DONT I have yet to see it worth my time… or if I do debone a chicken it’s after the cooking process, because I really don’t like handling the raw meat aspect of any cooking.

I BUY BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS when I am on the hunt for Chicken. I will buy sometimes 20lbs of this good stuff. The time savings is in the prep work of freezing. I like to season with a rub and then freeze the chicken breasts, if you have a Sous Vide then it’s all ready to go if not, thawing it and then roasting or grilling it is a snap.  Usually, an extra hour is worth getting 5 meals ready to go is worth it. DO not put a marinade or salad dressing in the bag before you freeze it, it doesn’t taste good and it’s not great for the meat. Stick with just seasoning. That way when you are ready to grill or roast all you do is get it thawed onto a pan and into the heat! Super simple stuff!

I like preparing my chicken this way because I don’t have to think about what is for supper, if I already know what is ready to go in my freezer, I just need some forethought as to what I want to make for supper that morning so I can get it out of my freezer.

Utilize your kitchen for the best Chicken

If you have a convect oven please use the convect roast option while roasting your chicken, you will be glad you did, it does an amazing job with making the outside chicken crispy and the inside of the chicken tender and moist, it’s my new best friend when it comes to roasting a chicken.

Sous vide and chicken were a match made in heaven! Seriously it’s changed the way I view cooking chicken. I love sous vide chicken for a roasted preparation but without the crunchy skin which can be done by searing the chicken, but who has time for that when sous vide is enough to make your pallet happy with the moist tenderness it brings to the table?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Paper flower Recital Bouquet

OH it's that time of the year again for graduations and recitals! I have some perfect bouquets for those special occasions!

Paper roses that have been hand died, to match your daughters costume, like these roses, are perfect for those pictures that you cherish, It makes your daughter feel like a princess! 

Daisies are the Perfect flower for any occasion, and the beauty of making these daisies are that they work well with lots of patterned paper, and they come together quickly while watching youtube tutorials, I mean netflix, or what ever you do on your downtime.... Who wouldn't want a bouquet of these? 

Periwinkle blue Iris's? Yes please!!! I can see Iris's being a very popular paper flower for any occasion, they make every one feel a bit more peace and comfort! Which is what you want your recently graduated Grad to feel right?

Happy Creating, and have fun giving paper flowers bouquets to those you love!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Artists dates preserve your family in this time of chaos!

I love Artist's dates! What you have no clue what I am talking about? Let me explain:

Artists dates for my family and I are simple, you could say that they are more like mommy dates, and they are... but for me, as an artist, it has more meaning to it, it feeds my soul with creativity and culture that helps bring my inner artist out to play. The goal of the Artist's Date is to let the kids and myself have fun and experience new views and ideas about our world.

julia Cameron in her book "The Artist's Way" describes an Artist's Date as a key tool in recovering our creativity. Simply put an Artist's Date "is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend again all interlopers." The benefits of Artist's Dates are numerous but one of our favorites is that Artist's Date feeds our creative well of images which inspire us in immeasurable ways!

Visit a festival, I took my kids to the Des Moines Art Festival and 6 months later they still talk about it. We made so many memories in that afternoon!

Go to a local candy store we like Rocket Fizz in Ankeny IA and get our children's favorite candy, CAN WE SAY JELLY Belly?

Go see a movie with popcorn and candy, I love it when our local theater in town would play the oldie kid movies that I grew up with like ET or Willy Wonka, or my favorite to watch in the theater with my daughter was The Sound of Music, it was truly the best Artist Date that I had with her in a while.

WAVE POOL or any pool, but for me, a wave pool is like heaven on earth!

Make a recipe together, it's usually from the PBS kids cookbook that I love! A good Smore or a superhero lunch date will work wonders for your inner artist!

Play in the sandbox with bare feet
Painting sticks and rocks, check out my blog post about painting sticks  I like this book for inspirations

Botanical Garden, or butterfly garden

Zoo trip, and lunch at the park outside of the zoo

Listen to different music and talk about what you like, I like to introduce my kids to silly 60's songs, Jazz, Classical, and Broadway music.

Plan a trip (research it with youtube, and books) Planning our Walt Disney Vacation had been really entertaining during supper, It made my inner artist come out, and I felt my soul lighter when the day was weighing on me.

Tulip Time in Pella taking a trip to a town nearby that has an educational or cultural feel is always worth the drive, Pella Iowa is one of my favorite places to visit.

Visiting a Greenhouse, we are blessed that we have a beautiful one that is in our School District that has a huge variety of plants, all kinds.

Visit a planetarium, (ok this is really just a trip to the science center) but every time we watch a show in the planetarium I feel elated by imagery and I always come back learning something new!

 I could go on and on, but really an Artist Date with children is an easy way to learn and see the world from a different perspective. An artist date with your kids should help your soul feel lighter and happier. I love seasonal artist's dates, like visiting the pumpkin patch during October, I mean how often are we likely go down that big slide without a screaming elated 7yr old? You start to feel young and carefree! I am so glad I implement this into our family's life, I hope that you can see value in this easy way to help preserve the happiness of raising a family like I have done.

As always I have someone else in the blogosphere that mentions the same thing, check her out:

Mellisa Taylor at Imagination Soup has a great list of ideas and ideas that work for families. (perfect Family Home Evening ideas.)

For other information on Artists Dates, I have a great post on taking time out for yourself here

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hot New Flowers to DIY

Poppies make the world better. So of course I had to design a flower file that, and I am so proud of how it turned out! leave a comment bellow with an email or a way I can get in contact with you and I will send you the Silhouette file for the flower. 

I thought that three blooms worked well in this vase, it makes me smile! The paper is from Michaels, it's duo toned and perfect for flowers. 

These tulips are the perfect gift to make for a friend, and new mom or for birthdays. With a few simple pedals and shapes, you can make a dozen of these in a afternoon like I did for teachers that have taught my kids this year. 

Happy Creating!  paper flowers have always been one of my favorite inexpensive things to make, all it takes is some time and you got a beautiful bouquet for a beautiful thank you gift! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Our time is worth something

Becoming a SAHM  Why you need a Routine on day one

Becoming a SAHM was a very natural transition for our family, but the actual “work” that was so foreign to me, I stay at home, I don’t need a routine, and neither does my baby… HUGE MISTAKE! As soon as you are able; please for the love of all things, get yourself on a routine, it could be as open ended as each day you do something different or as precise as managing your hours during the day.

In my experience, I have found that having a routine, by events have worked well for my kids and for me! For example, I stick to my guns, after lunch, it’s quiet time for my boys. After school it’s reading time with my elementary school aged child, before dinner we pick up our toys, after dinner, it’s clean up and we go upstairs and get ready for bed, we do story and scripture study and then a prayer. My kids know that this is how it’s done and there is no added stress to the day because we have a routine that works for our family. It works so well that I don’t have to tell my kids anymore to do this, do that, they know and they just do it. It’s a sanity saver for everyone in our house.

I came about this very unexpectedly, with most good things, it came from my husband: make a list of everything you do, when you do it, and see if you can’t squeeze in some time for _____ (art). Phooey I said, I don’t want to be on a routine, I am not a structured person by nature, But I did it like a good girl does, and I found that I did, in fact, have a couple minutes here and there to _____ (art around.) When I started to get into a routine that is when I could add more fun things into my life, like watercolor, blogging, playing with my kids on a more regular basis, walk the kids and the dog to the nearby park. It’s such a simple way to add more time into your day. As a SAHM you are going to want all the time in the world to do things that make you happy.

Becoming a SAHM: Time Management
I don’t get anymore me time you say to yourself:
If you are customed to having a lunch break, or your afternoons to do errands and you love that time to yourself, then yes, you don’t get that anymore but if you are able to have a different perspective on it, it might look something like this:

I get to stay home with 3 amazing children that take up all my time during the day. I know I need about 7 hours of sleep, so I get about 3 hours per day to myself. Let’s make it count.
What do I like to do when I am by myself?
What can I make my kids suffer through if I have to do it too? (grocery shopping and cleaning are my two favorite ones that I make them go with.) btw, they still love me.
What fun activities do I like to do, that I can do with my children? For me it’s all things art, walking on a trail, and baking. Which are all teachable moments.

Then when you have a detailed list from each category then you can start to see a picture of what you are willing to do with your kids, and what you want to do by yourself. And what enrichment activities your child/children and you could do together to build a relationship.  

The other perspective that has worked for me is this philosophy:
Do one thing every day that makes you happy. I love my family but I am a creative and I have this crazy need to create. So doing something every day to make me happy doesn’t really cut it for me, I need to incorporate all my creativity into my life to be happy. If you are not a crazy creative like me, then I think doing something for yourself is a good thing. for an example, I read mostly non-fiction.  so I let my kids listen to what I am reading then they are happy with the mommy time I gave them, I turn on a tv show and read to relax before supper and having a relaxing atmosphere before the dinner hour is always a joyful time to cherish.

The best advice I can give is to have a hobby that isn’t about kids, or the house (i don’t consider my couponing a hobby, it’s common sense, and part of being a SAHM that loves art materials.), Get a hobby and do it 15 mins. Here and there, If you are able to leave a project out and work on it when you can even better, (knitting crocheting if you need a couch hobby) for me I leave my watercolors out and dabble in it, or whatever crafting project I am working on out in my studio.

So to all SAHMS everywhere, My point is your Mental well-being is so important and it starts with a routine. There is no trick to sticking with a routine, it's all about follow-through and being consistent with it. Really the best gift you can give yourself and your family is sticking with a routine and following it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why paper flowers are the new way to give flowers

I just completed my first ever custom order for paper flowers, and I am feeling pretty good about myself and my talent of making the paper look amazing.

While making this order my thoughts were turned to why are paper flowers a thing? and more importantly why give paper flowers?

Why is paper flowers a thing?

I believe that there are a maker and creative movement going on. Our world is all about creating When you get some amazing artists that turn ordinary objects (paper) into something stunning (flowers.)  Of course, that is what is going to go mainstream, now, years later this art form has become a beautiful artform to have paper flowers.

As a little girl I would make flowers out of cupcake liners, and tissue paper, ribbon, and even leaves, I was creating my own little happy floral shop as a child. I loved creating with what I had. Paper flowers are a beautiful art form that truly can last for a long time.

knowing that you can custom any flower to any color, any size, you may find yourself asking a paper artist/crafter to make you some flowers you have only dreamed about.

Maybe your loved one is in ICU in the hospital and you need some hope... Paper flowers are allowed to be in the room, unlike real flowers they allow paper flowers.

True story: I learned that real flower bouquets are beautiful for your daughter's dance recital until they wilt and die a couple days later, with crocodile tears and a sad daughter when you throw away the flowers, you think there has got to be a better way to remember her recital... Paper flowers are the answer!

Got a graduate that loves colors that are not quite traditional that you can get at the florist? Yup, I bet there is a paper in that color, and oh yeah I got that hot orange Iris covered... Just saying the possibilities are endless! You can have a lot of fun with paper flower bouquets!

Maybe you just want a special gift for your friend that you can't get at a store, a paper flower can me customized to the color, size, type of flower(s) If you can dream it you can make it!

Paper flowers are so much fun to make and to learn, for me The process is therapeutic, it calms my souls and makes my heart happy!

This will be a perfect mother's day gift, I love paper flowers because you can make them as interesting as the person that is getting them and I really find that these flowers can be designed to have a timeless feel.

 I love the simplistic white and yellow color pallet!

My design tip for simplistic flowers or design, do something subtle in the design process to add an element of wow, for example, my white daisies, I could have done just white card stock, instead, I used a white paper with a small off-white pattern, so the flowers have a bit of texture. Just a small change can really change your project to wow to Amazing!

Happy Creating! and Happy Mother's day!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How to find the perfect Chicken recipe for your family

Are you like me and you love your cookbooks and want to know how to utilize chicken in your recipes? I own lots of cookbooks, I got overwhelmed with all these Chicken recipes and I end up roasting the chicken and for a side dish, I do mac and cheese! Does that ever happen to you? (you say no way, I am a way too awesome for that.) Then it’s just me, right?

I have narrowed my search for good chicken recipes into 3 categories:
Type of cooking method is it fried, baked, roasted, grilled, shredded (slow cooked.) or Sous Vide.
Type of meal is it a casserole or a stand-alone portion.
Prep process does it need to be marinated, or brined, or cooked all day, do I have to debone it before I cook it or can I after.

All of the categories mentioned plays a part in getting the perfect recipe. And don’t worry I don’t always follow the prep part of the recipe, because I know that if the end result is to shred the chicken, then I have that covered from freezing and shredding a couple chickens at once. I just need time to defrost it from my freezer.

The type of recipes can all coexist but I usually can look at the recipe and within 3 seconds know if it’s worthy of my time. When it comes to recipes I know what will work, or doesn’t work in my kitchen.

This is what I do:

Know your audience: I start off with the right cookbook, if I am wanting a family friendly chicken dinner I always go to those Church cookbooks, (the ones that are spiral bound and looks like it’s from your community you grew up in,) then you're in the right place. If you want a chicken dinner to impress you may want an everyday Italian cookbook or even the Pioneer woman cookbook. Knowing who you are cooking for helps a ton when looking for a chicken recipe. Look for cookbooks that have a specific ingredient index, that will help aid in your search.

Start with the recipe title, what clues can I get from the title: Here are some clues that I know right off the bat if my family will eat that or not, or if the recipe is worthy of my time, all the while I am not getting into the ingredient section. Focus on the title of the recipe. Here are some examples:
Baked Chicken: can mean that it’s a bit healthier and fast, but not all the time… look at how long it says it will be ready
Stuffed Chicken Breasts: really mean, more time and energy that I might not have to devote too unless it’s for a dinner party or a special occasion I am not making this for my family.
Creamy x and chicken: really means this is a casserole, perfect for those long winter nights…
Mr perfect chicken salad: really means precooked chicken with salad-like ingredients. That might be worth my time if I have a family picnic, but not as a family supper.
Chicken pesto with pasta: a healthy alternative to a creamy sauce, and easy if you buy pesto, or cheap if you grow your own herbs for pesto, a must try for this family.
Favorite herb Chicken: example: lemon and rosemary chicken, usually a marinade or a flavor enhancer to add flavor, usually a roasted, sous vide or grilled type recipe that is very open ended.

Smothered Chicken: lots of cheese or sauce loaded with seasoning to make it spicy and delectable. (best done at a restaurant and not at my house… (just kidding)) This recipe does take some time to make.

Blackened Chicken: it’s roasted usually with lots of spices on the skin that you can taste through the chicken. This one is also a great recipe that usually calls for roasting, Sous Vide, or baked.

Knowing the title can make all the difference in giving up on finding the perfect recipe, and knowing the dish, the way it’s prepared and having an idea of how labor intensive will help with finding the right recipe.

At first glance of the recipe, if the ingredients are more than 5 ingredients long I usually skip that recipe, I am in it to feed my family, not become a gourmet chef, usually, If I am looking for a more upscale recipe then I can go into the more time intensive recipes.

I have a small rule when it comes to the rest of the recipe, the ingredients need to be one that I can access easy, It should be in my well-stocked pantry or something I can pick up next time I am at the store. It should also be something that isn’t expensive that I may again for a while. Usually, if it’s a spice that I don’t hardly use, if it’s in a small spice jar for about a $1 then I will get it. Be careful with different types of oils, sometimes it’s not worth the extra money, (spices and olive oil that you can make your own for a fraction of the cost.)

Another thing I look at is the brand name of some of the ingredients, I usually substitute brand name items for the store brand if it’s comparable, sometimes it’s not and I end up getting the name brand product.

Finding the right Chicken recipe is a process, I like to think of it as a culinary journey. Most of the time I find a good grilling or marinade recipe that I can sous vide or roast and I am golden for like 6 months, because with one open-ended recipe I can add different sides, I can change up how I present it, (chicken breast, quarters, shredded on a bun, all with one recipe. So it’s not that you need 50 good recipes you need one good open-ended recipe that you can do more with.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Beauty of Coffee Filters DIY Paper Peonies!

I love frugal crafts, Paper flowers are frugal in the fact that you are using paper and glue for the most part. However, the time that is put into a paper flower is a labor of love.

As a little girl, I would make flowers out of tissue paper, and there are florists out that do this as a living, The tutorial/class I followed to make these beautiful Peonies used tissue paper. I had coffee filters, (a bit more frugal) After dying them in liquid watercolor the coffee filters were then dried and then cut into pedals that I could do something with! Cool right? So with about $2.00 in materials, literally the vase I found at a consignment store was more than the materials to make the 5 blooms. Cheap and fun to make, crafts that I love to make!

 I used this lesson on Paper Peonies to make these peonies for a friend that is having a baby girl this month. (which btw there are so many reasons why peonies are so easy to give to friends and family!)

I loved making them, in 5 hours I had 5 blooms ready to give or display to make you smile!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Did you know: Pop Corn, the best frugal snack there is!

Popcorn is that wonderful smell that radiates the house, or the theater when it's popping is one of my favorite smells! To me Popcorn is a comfort food, it can be a healthy snack or meal if you want it to be and you make it right. I love the fact that it's a whole grain and it's easy and inexpensive to enjoy.

Like all good things come I was talking to a friend and she said that she never buys microwave popcorn it's way too expensive she said, But your kids eat popcorn like ever other day I said. from the microwave, I have seen her do it! Ah.... it's because I do it myself... and it's better that what you get at the store... HOW????

I find myself eating a lot more of this whole grain goodness now that I really know... Here is how:

It all starts with this Guy: a microwave bowl cooker, it's awesome! I use it just for popcorn.

If you are like normal people go to the store and buy the normal size of kernels and oil.. or do what I do: Sam's club sells a 25lb bag for like $6 I store the corn kernels in plastic frosting tubs from our local bakery. (it holds like 1/2 the bag, so I got two of those frosting tubs to hold my kernels if you ask the bakery they usually give you the tubs.) I washed and dried the tubs and I was good to go!
Note that the .27 pennies cost is for the regular Jolly Time popcorn and Orville popcorn oil. 
Then you need oil, I use coconut oil sometimes, most of the time I buy the regular popping oil.

put1 tablespoon of the popcorn oil, and a 1/4 cup of kernels in the bowl, and microwave it for about 3 or so minutes, I like to listen to when the popcorn is done popping, so I don't burn it. And there you go! For 27 pennies, you have a perfect snack. and under $10 you have popcorn that will last you for a while! Pretty awesome right?

pop this in the microwave and then you get this golden ready to eat goodness!

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