Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Get Boo-ing 2020

 It's my favorite time of year.  Halloween!  You know me and costumes!!  And being extra!!!  And gift giveaway planning!!!!

All these factors combined, obviously I can't wait each year to kick off the boo-ing tradition my neighborhood.  If you're not familiar with the boo concept, here's the summary:

There seems to be a relatively good boo basket participation in my neighborhood, though in 2019 I never got a basket myself (whomp whomp - oh well).  Since I love giving these out, I could care less though if I get anything in return.

Here's the two baskets I pulled together for 2020.  I bought the tin boo buckets at the end of 2018 on clearance not thinking about the fact that I can't use them on the same people that I've already "boo'd", so I had to skip using it for one of the two houses.

The second gift, in the orange bag, was supposed to be a transplanted aloe in a skeleton head planter, but I've been having an issue with the plants in my house (we apparently picked up fungus gnats from a new plant we added to our collection late spring/early summer - a super huge pain in the ass).  Rather than gift the plant and potentially spread that issue to someone else's house plants, I added a note to the gift that the plant would come later.  Hopefully before month end I will have a transplant aloe I can gift them.  If not, I will empty and sanitize the planter and fill it with a new plant from the local nursery.

Now I wait to see ... did my excitement catch again this year?  Will boo-ing spread through the neighborhood?

If I get a boo basket myself, I'll be sure to update!  :-)


Do you boo in your neighborhood?  What kind of basket do you build?  Add your comments below!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Art Journaling

With everything going on these days, lately I've been feeling like ... I need something else in life.  

Being stuck at home is stale.  Granted my state is open for most things, but I am not about to join the masses who are choosing to self sacrifice right now.  

Things feel even more stale on days where it's super hot or rainy outside and I am stuck indoors.  And being it's summer in Minnesota, that happens quite a lot.  Not that I am complaining, I would take summer over winter right now, that's for sure!!!

After a couple of weeks of that good ol' stale feeling, in June I started looking for another creative outlet besides cross stitching (and no I don't mean self barbering - which yes I am doing for my entire family including myself).  This is how I ended up challenging my sister's kids into art journaling.  

Here's how it works:

(1) Each week, one of the three of us comes up with a theme word.  Then, we create.  

(2) Since I'm Auntie, I get to make 2 pieces (one for each kid).  I've been making most of my works on textured card stock that I had left over from ... true story, making stuff for my wedding about 15 years ago (face palm).  The card stock is 8.5x11", and I slice each sheet in half for a finished work size of about 5.5x8.5".  Mediums used each week vary based on my mood and the theme, but mostly I use acrylic paint, watercolor, marker or colored pencils.

(3) I throw my finished works in a mailer when I know the kids are close to completing their works.  I use this envelope as an inner to protect each work, and just for fun I close the inner with a wax seal.  I use this envelope as the mailer.  USPS confirmed that I can use 3 standard forever stamps to put this in the mail, in case you're curious.

(4) When the kids finish their works, it's time to unveil what came in the mail.  Though I've been told it's quite a process opening my works, as the kids try to salvage each wax seal LOL.  Once opened, each work slides into a plastic protective sheet in a mini 3 ring binder, and a printed label with the theme word is affixed to the bottom right of the plastic sleeve.

And that's it - pretty easy!

While I may not be making 100% original works, since I use Google and YouTube for inspiration, the new creative outlet has helped improve my mood and gives me something new to look forward to each week.  And since I'm crafty, my investment has been minimal, as I already have a ton of art supplies in my house.  So, the real win is, I can finally brush the dust off my supplies and put them to work again.

With the above explanation complete, let's get to the fun part of this post.  Here's what I've made so far, with theme noted above each picture.

And before I go ... if this inspires you and you begin to do something similar, post links to your finished works in the comments below!


Watercolor, Marker & Colored Pencil


Acrylic Paint


Sharpie Marker


Acrylic Paint


Acrylic Paint / Tutorial on YouTube

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Current Stichin' Projects - Winter/Spring 2020

Since early 2019, I've been quite prolific in creating cross stitch works.  You've already seen some of what I've made in previous posts, but today I've got more to add to the collection (in rough chronological order).

Before I bombard you with photos - yes, I would be happy to make something via request ... pending size and subject matter.  Meaning: I don't want to take on anything too huge, and want to make sure it would be something fun for me to make as well.  

If you have something in mind, let's chat!


Wrapping up with Valentine's Day, I finished a cross stitch for my husband.  Usually I don't give him stuff like this, but I ended up with a 2020 copy of Cross Stitch Magazine and this pattern was in it, so I couldn't resist.

After completing the above, I had some various scrap threads and a hunk of fabric left over.  Knowing I had to mail a payment to a tour guide for an upcoming visit to Salem, I threw this in the envelope.  Of course, things have changed quite a bit since I mailed this, and my trip was totally cancelled, but ... the art remains anyway!  :-)

Still behind in my abstract horse, I took a break on that and made a bookmark gift for a Reddit exchange.

Then I finally got around to killing that damn horse project (every crafter out there knows how much fun it is to start something new, but sometimes the loss of focus that happens when you're close to finishing).

Of course, I finished the horse MOSTLY because this wonderful thing called "stay at home orders" surfaced, which means I had nothing but time on my hands ... queue me pumping out a backlog of squirreled away patterns.

I particularly like how Rosie turned out, because her back stitching details were so intricate.

Foot note: the white knots on her headband were my later addition, I felt like she just wasn't quite Rosie without them.

Among the above, I also started my largest project to date, a gift requested by a coworker of mine.  While I've made it abundantly clear it will be done no time soon, here's my progression so far:

And that's about all for now ... lol, like the above was a small feat.  Ha!  More updates to come, as isolation doesn't seem to be ending any time soon!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Recipe: Delicious Breakfast - Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

While most of my recipes on this blog are fairly healthy, I'm going to post this one with the premise that it is obviously ... uh ...

As I mentioned in the pizza crust post, we are now the proud owners of a slowly consumed 2 lb block of yeast.  And being stuck in isolation during both my son and my birthdays, I simply decided to make the best of this hoard stockpile.

In the process, the below has likely become a new family tradition - fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast on your birthday.  Since most of the prep is done the night before, it's really not too intimidating to get up a little over an hour ahead of time to allow for final rise and bake time.  Hopefully this new tradition sticks for our family.



Overnight Cinnamon Rolls


  • 1 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees, this is important so check!)
  • 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 cups + 2-4 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided and melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon Filling
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add warm milk and sprinkle with yeast.  Let sit uncovered for 7 minutes at room temperature.  Add 1/2 cup flour, and 2 tablespoons sugar, whisk until blended.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 35-45 minutes (or in a 100 degree oven for 25 minutes - do not over heat or you will kill the yeast).  Mixture will look puffy.

Whisk in egg, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Using the dough hook on speed 2, add flour 1/2 cup at a time, letting it blend with each addition.  After 2 1/2 cups, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time just until dough is no longer sticking to fingertips or the walls of the bowl as it mixes.  Knead for 10 minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours (or in 100 degree oven for 1 hour).  Dough should double in size.

Generously dust flour over a clean work surface and place dough in the center.  Sprinkle dough with flour (just enough to keep rolling pin from sticking) and roll into an even 17"x10" rectangle.  Dot the top of the dough with 6 tablespoons of softened butter and spread it out gently with a spatula. (TRUTH: I suck at this and always damage the dough, so I cheat and melt the butter in a microwave, spreading with a cooking brush.  This does cause the filling to become a little sloppy at roll up time, but it's not terribly unmanageable if you keep the bulk of the mixture away from the final roll edge, and quickly transfer the rolls once you cut them).

Stir together 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon and sprinkle all of it evenly on the buttered dough.  Roll the dough up starting with one of the longer sides, keeping a tight roll.  Once it's rolled up, push ends in slightly to make them more uniform then slice into 12 equal sized rolls.  (Note: some people claim using unflavored dental floss makes this process easier.  I hate that crap, it usually just makes more mess for me.  Instead, I gently cut with a serrated knife, trying to avoid pushing too hard and "crushing" the roll.  Also, since you want evenly sized rolls, cut as follows: slice entire roll into 2 halves, then those portions into 2 halves again - for a total of 4 sections ... then slice each of the 4 sections into 3 rolls each.  It's much easier to make 12 evenly sized rolls this way.)

Butter sides and bottom of a 9x13 baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter and evenly space rolls in pan.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (up to 18 hours).

When ready to cook, remove rolls from fridge and keeping them covered, let rise at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours (or in a 100 degree oven for 35 minutes) or until puffy.  While this is in process, don't forget to pull out the butter and cream cheese for the icing, to allow it to soften as well.

Before baking, brush tops with 1 tablespoon melted butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 22-24 minutes or until tops are light golden brown.  Let cool in pan 15 minutes then frost warm buns generously with the cream cheese icing.

How to make icing: cream together 4 tablespoons softened butter and 4 ounces cream cheese.  Once creamy and smooth, add 1 tablespoon vanilla and mix again.  Follow with 1 cup powdered sugar and mix until fluffy (3-4 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Recipe: Delicious Breads - Easy Pizza Dough

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I've taken in an exchange student through the end of the school year 2020.  She is scheduled to be with us through mid June.

The below is one of many new discoveries I will post during her stay in my home.  This one, of course, is thanks to the stay home orders and having nothing but time to bake.  Thankfully - or I think thankfully, I am not quite sure - my husband found an online wholesaler of yeast.  So while we were without for about a week once the food shortages started here, we eventually became proud owners of a 2 lb brick of yeast.  Um ... hooray, I think?!

And credit to my student, as she's the one who proposed the recipe to try.



Easy Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F - this is important, so check the temp!)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


After checking for proper temperature, pour water into mixer bowl and sprinkle in yeast.  Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes or until dissolved (as long as the yeast seems active, it is OK to mix the yeast until dissolved after the 5 minutes are up).

Add salt, sugar and olive oil to yeast mixture and gently whisk.

Starting with the mixer's paddle attachment, add flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix at level 2 until fully incorporated, scraping down the bowl if needed.  When the dough starts to form, switch to the hook attachment and continue adding flour until full amount is mixed in.

Knead dough on level 2 for 7-10 minutes, or by hand.  The dough should be  a little sticky or tacky to the touch when done.  If too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour.

Remove dough from mixer bowl and spread a thin later of olive oil over the inside.  Place dough back into bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 2+ hours (or place in your oven on the "dough rise" setting for 1-2 hours).  Dough should double or triple in size.

Remove dough from oven if you are proofing there, and begin preheat to 450-475 degrees for pizza cooking.

Sprinkle a work surface with flour, turning the dough to coat.  Divide dough into 2-4 pizzas, depending on volume of rise and your desired finished pizza size.  You can let the divided portions rise for another 15 minutes if you like, or proceed immediately to the next step.

One portion at a time, hand stretch or push the dough into a round shape with a rolling pin.  Sprinkle all surfaces with flour as needed to avoid sticking.  The dough will stretch and contract several times before it holds shape - take time to allow this process to happen.

When desired size/shape has been achieved, transfer dough to pizza pan and top with sauces and toppings.  Bake fully dressed pizza in a preheated oven at 450-475 degrees until edges and toppings have slightly browned, 15-20 minutes depending on size of pizza and volume of toppings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Recipe: Delicious Soup - Easy Carrot Soup

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've taken in an exchange student through the end of the school year 2020.  She is scheduled to be with us through mid June.

Her mild food allergies have inspired me to get back on track and cooking using fresh ingredients.  It's also has challenged me to find new recipes that meet both her needs and my family's pallet.

The below is one of many new discoveries I will post during her stay in my home.  It, in particular, was inspired by some of the things I purchased specifically to keep my pantry stocked during stay home orders ... and to cover for a mistake where I somehow kept buying bags of baby carrots every week and suddenly discovered I had 4 or 5 different bags in my fridge. 



Easy Carrot Soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 5 cups chopped carrots (or one large bag baby carrots, in my case)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup half-and-half (optional - we used non dairy)
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


Saute butter, oil, onion and celery in dutch oven until vegetables are softened / around 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper, cooking until fragrant / about 1 minute.

Add in carrots, water and chicken stock.  Bring to a "lively" simmer over high heat.  Reduce heat but maintain the "lively" simmer for 25-30 minutes.  Carrots should be cooked through and very tender.

Remove pot from heat.  Use an immersion blender to cream the soup.  Stir in cream with a spoon, then blend a second time to incorporate, at the same time ensuring you've blended any stray chunks.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste prior to serving.