Monthly Archives: July 2013

I’ve lost my marbles…

Ok, maybe not lost them, but they sure are broken!

I picked this week’s Pinterest project, because it’s going to be a good building block for several other projects and it was a very quick project that didn’t involve any of my other crafting supplies, which I have finally had to pack away in preparation for the last stage of our impending move.  As you may or may not be aware, we are in the process of a huge upheaval.  We are moving from New York to Ohio, from a tiny single room to an entire 3 bedroom house, from one master’s program to a completely different course of study, from being a homemaker/full-time student to working full-time and going to school.  This is going to be such a huge set of changes, and part of me is really excited, but the rest of me is dreading it.  I really want it to be over with, and to have everything settled so that we can get started on our new path.  Eh, enough of my rambling… back to trying to maintain some semblance of my normal in my life while all the changes swirl around me.

So, this week’s project is Baked Marbles.  I love the way the cracked glass looks in the photo on Pinterest, so I decided to try and make some to use in a couple of other projects I have pinned.  I followed the instructions and went with solid colored marbles, but I chose a set of mixed shaped decorative glass marbles.  Some were small and round, others were iridescent and flat on one side, others were cloudy and oddly shaped.

Once I had purchased the marbles, I gathered the other supplies I’d need for the project – a metal bowl and baking pan.

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I then opened the marbles and spread them in a single layer in the baking pan, while I was preheating the oven to 500 degrees.

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Man was my kitchen warm for the 20 minutes they were in there heating up.  While they were getting hot, I put the metal bowl in the fridge to cool off and gathered some ice cubes to make the water as cold as I could.  About 30 seconds before the timer went off, I pulled the bowl out, added the ice and filled it with water.  As soon as the timer went off I pulled the baking pan out and dumped the marbles into the bowl of water.  As they were falling in I could here a series of odd cracking sounds.

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I let the marbles sit in the water for about 2 minutes to cool off, before I drained the water.  Once I had them dried off I checked out the finished product.  What do you think?  Next time, I think I’m going to try a darker colored marble and see if the cracking is more noticeable.  I’m also going to try and find a way to make the water colder.  The drastic change in temperature is what makes the glass crack, so the colder it is the sharper the cracking.

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Any color suggestions?  Any ideas of what to do with the marbles now that I have them?

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Filed under check-it-off-the-list, family drama, hunting for a new home, mixed up crazy world, projecty type stuff, self improvement

Tasty Tuesday – Chopped Chicken Taco Salad

It’s finally cool enough out to use my stove, and what does my family request?  Tacos!  You all know how much we love our tacos (we even make our own Taco Seasoning), but I’m always looking to find a bit of change, so this week’s Pinterest kitchen experiment was Chopped Chicken Taco Salads.  Now, I can honestly say that I didn’t really follow this recipe very well.  I didn’t make the dressing, I didn’t make the quesadillas, and I changed the dressing…  So, I guess that means I created my own recipe for this one.

First I gathered my usual taco subjects (lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, chicken, homemade taco seasoning, shredded cheese, sour cream, and black olives) then I add some tortilla chips into the mix and I had all of my ingredients.

Once I had everything together, I set about chopping everything into bite size pieces.

onions

onions

avocados

avocados

chicken

chicken

tomatoes

tomatoes

Once everything was prepped, I took the chopped up chicken and sauteed it and added a couple of tablespoons of our homemade taco seasoning and half a cup of water.  I let it all simmer together for about 10 minutes to thicken and absorb the spices nicely.

When that was all set, I assembled the salads – lettuce on the bottom, then crumbled tortilla chips, then avocado, tomato, chicken, cheese, and some black olives.  Once I had the salad built I took some of the left over taco sauce and mixed it in with some sour cream, as a dressing for the salads.

They were very yummy.  We served them with some refried beans (which I really don’t like).

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A quick and easy weeknight dinner and a more portion conscious version of Tacos for my family.

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Filed under self improvement, tasty tuesday

Snapshot Saturday – Looking Up

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This week I went with something metaphorical, to symbolize the way my life has been heading in the last month or so.  It was really rocky right after my father passed away in June, but since then it has only shown real signs of looking up.  I’m happy, healthy, surrounded by people I love and who love me, and making strides in the right direction!  My dad is looking down on me and mine and I am happy to show him how his blessings have given me the strength to get myself back on track and looking up!

This is a photo of the Dale Chihuly glass ceiling at the Bellagio is Las Vegas, NV.

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Filed under bucket board, check-it-off-the-list, family drama, mixed up crazy world, self improvement, snapshot saturday, travel

Quest to Read Them All – Hidden Agenda

This installment on my Quest to Read Them All is a bit of a stretch for me in so many ways…

I absolutely couldn’t resist the opportunity to review a new book as part of this series for my blog!  It was something new for me, and I absolutely wanted to embrace the opportunity to step outside of the box and try something different, so I chose a book that was also slightly outside my comfort zone and I can honestly say that I’m completely excited about my choice.

The book I selected to review was Hidden Agenda by Peter S. Berman.

Now, while I’m not much of a murder mystery fan, I have to say that this book was definitely worth the read!  It was fast paced and gave the reader just enough to keep us on the edge of our seats.  While the introduction seemed a bit out of left field, it ended up being woven seamlessly into the fabric of the story.  The tale of a LA Deputy District Attorney, his married high society lover, and the murder of her abusive ultra wealthy husband was compelling and dynamic.  The characters were engaging and just realistic enough to draw the reader in and have us routing for their successes (or failures) and their relationships.  Berman has also introduced several characters that I, for one, would love to see come back if this were to turn into an ongoing series.  Gibby and Donahue, RHD Detectives could very well be the next Rizzoli and Isle!

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Filed under books-books-books, check-it-off-the-list, read them all

Time to Spice Things Up…

This week’s Pinterest project is actually an ongoing kitchen experiment…  A while back, in my Tasty Tuesday – Tacos post I mentioned that we use a homemade taco seasoning instead of the store bought packets.  I promised you all that I would share the recipe that I use to make this seasoning mix and this is the week I’m going to hold up my end of that bargain.  Now, I’ve found dozens of different recipes on Pinterest for all types of kitchen seasonings and while I absolutely love to play around in the kitchen, I really don’t like to use anything prepackaged if I can avoid it.  I’m also in the middle of a huge move, so my time is very limited, but we do have to eat and while in circumstances like these take out is easier it is also stupid expensive and not very healthy.  That being said, I couldn’t just make the Taco Seasoning when we ran out, I had to try 4 other recipes while I was playing mad kitchen scientist.

This week I put together our regular Taco Seasoning, tried out an alternative Taco Seasoning, made Outback style steak seasoning, whipped up a variation of Onion Soup mix (that I’m not so sure about – the recipe called for sugar, so I’m a bit put off and may have to play with it next time around) and finally after hunting down dried buttermilk mixed up some Ranch Seasoning.  I got each of these recipes from Pinterest, and can’t wait to use them and figure out how I can tweak them to become more my own, because we all know how well I do at following directions and measuring exactly.

The recipes are usually very straight forward.  Take some of these different spices and put them in an empty, clean, dry jar (I use small mason jars).  Once everything is in the jar seal it and shake the jar to combine the spices.

First I washed all my mason jars, and gathered my ingredients…

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Ranch Dippy Mix

Ranch Dippy Mix

Onion Soup Mix

Onion Soup Mix

Taco Seasoning - Experimental Version

Taco Seasoning – Experimental Version

Outback Steak Seasoning

Outback Steak Seasoning

Taco Seasoning - Our Standard Version

Taco Seasoning – Our Standard Version

Once I had everything all sorted out, I started measuring each of the ingredients into the corresponding jars.  Like I said this is a ridiculously easy project and so much better for you than all the prepackaged chemicals and preservatives.

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Then I shook the jars to mix it all up and stored the new made mixes in my pantry.  I had an alterior motive to doing this project this week, I needed to make sure that we had enough Taco Seasoning for next week’s Tasty Tuesday Recipe!

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Filed under check-it-off-the-list, hunting for a new home, organize that, projecty type stuff, self improvement, tasty tuesday

Tasty Tuesday – Bacon Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken Strips

We’re back out by the grill for this week’s Tasty Tuesday experiment.  I found a recipe on Pinterest for baked honey mustard chicken wrapped with bacon, that sounded amazing.  The only problem, it’s the middle of summer and my oven is on vacation until September when I have to start making Birthday Cakes.  So, that meant I had to modify a recipe a bit.  I know you are all ridiculously surprised that I would actually do such a thing, but alas I did and let me tell you it was so totally worth it!

The original recipe was intended for young children, but there aren’t any of those in my house, so I went with a spicier option.  I took a regular sized bottle of spicy deli mustard, image (37)

added about 4 oz. of honey image (36)

and 2-3 tsp. of Worcestershire Sauce.  image (35)

Once those were all in the bowl I poured about 2 tbsp. of red wine vinegar into the mostly empty mustard container image (49)

and shook it up to get some more out and added that to the bowl and whisked it all together.

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Time for a taste test, it needed something, so I added a bit more honey and stirred again.

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It took less than 5 minutes and man did it taste yummy.

I put my quartered boneless skinless chicken breasts in a giant resealable plastic bag

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and added half the honey mustard sauce.

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Then I smushed it all around and stuck it in the fridge for a few hours until it was time to make the rest of dinner.

Once it was nice and marinated, and everyone was home, I took the bag out and set about wrapping the pieces of chicken with bacon! image (44)

I used 1 pound of maple smoked bacon to wrap the chicken strips and I had 2 pieces leftover. (They were grilled, crumbled and thrown into the salad.)

Then it was off to the trusty stove of summertime, and a medium high heat for 6 minutes a side.

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With little to no poking or prodding.  Just a few minor bacon draping repairs when I flipped them, and a nice basting with the reserved sauce from earlier.

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Once everything was cooked all the way (no raw chicken at my table, please) we sat down to eat.

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I was a big hit.  Some of the gang even plan to take the leftovers for lunch!  Definitely a success.

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Snapshot Saturday – Sunset

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I chose this week’s photo because I am feeling a bit sentimental.  This weekend marks the close of a huge chapter in my life.  I’ve left and come back to Holbrook, NY about a hundred times, but this is my probably my final goodbye.  I’m not one to say never again, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to stick this time, as the main siren calling me home is no longer here.  I’m going to miss some of the people, places, and traditions that we’ve been surrounded by, but I’m so ready for the next step and what a step it is!

Oh, by the way that’s a picture of the sun setting over the Grand Canyon from our 50 States Road Trip…

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