Sunday, June 30, 2013

Blogpocalypse: The End is near (of Google Reader, that is)

With GoogleReader going kaput as of TOMORROW, I know many people are scrambling for new ways to collect and read their favorite blogs. I decided several months ago to try out and use TheOldReader simply because it felt somewhat familiar. However, I'm seeing a lot of creatives mentioning  Bloglovin  as a popular choice so far. If you are leaning in the Bloglovin direction, please don't forget to follow my blog with Bloglovin too.

Goodbye, old friend

However, if you are still undecided here are a few posts that give you more info on some of the alternatives.
Of course, doing a search will yield tons of results. However, do it FAST as time's a tickin'!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Getting to Know Me

I recently became part of the Alabama Women Bloggers community. This week they've prompted members to share a little about themselves by answering a few questions. I realize I haven't shared much personally on here and need to change that, so this is a start.
Alabama Women Bloggers
1. What part of the state do you call home?
I'm way down in L.A. (lower Alabama) in Fairhope. It's just the other side of the Bay from Mobile and north of Gulf Shores.

2. How long have you been blogging?
I've been blogging since October of 2007. So, wow, almost six years.

3. Why did you start blogging?
I started because I saw the communities that were developed around blog genres and because I wanted a place to share my experiences, tips, and whatnot and become a part of those communities. I though blogging would be a nice way to share my life as well.

4. What is your favorite part of being a member of the Alabama Women Bloggers community?
This community is still rather new to me. But, I do like the idea of women from my state (other Southern Gals) sharing ideas, recipes, tips, and spreading the awesomeness of our state.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a hard one for me. I know I'll still be in this area (southern Alabama) maybe in the same house and hopefully a little more successful and maybe even with a pool. . .a girl can dream! But I've never been one to have a five year plan or anything. I always thought I'd be married by a certain age and kids not long after that, but none of it actually worked out the way I envisioned. Now, I'm a free-wheeling, fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl.

6. If you could choose an actress to play you in your life, who would you choose and why?
I've been told by several people that I look like Renee Zellweger with brown hair. I don't see it. In high school I was told I looked like Blossom (Mayiam Bialik) but I knew that was just because we both had long brown hair and I loved to wear hats. But, if I got to choose. . .I'd pick my favorite actress, Drew Barrymore. I just love her really fun personality and her zest for life.

7. Name 5 things on your Bucket List that you hope you’ll check off before you die?
This one has had me befuddled ever since I read this list as all I could come up with were places to travel. That's essentially still the case but here's my list 
1- TRAVEL: specifically relax in Bora Bora, go to Europe (Paris, London, and Ireland are at the top of the list), and take a trip to New York (to see the Statue of Liberty and watch a show on Broadway) 
2- Have a prosperous business 
3- Have child(ren )
4- Write a book (I can't decide if I want to write the next classic novel or a fun children's book, but I better get started either way) 
5- Live on the water (be it a river or the Gulf, I just want to be closer to some water.) 
WOW. . .I better get busy!!

8. If you could be known for one thing, what would it be and why?
My creativity because it's simply a driving force in my life to be creative in my business, my home, and even what I wear sometimes.

9. Describe the best moment in your life.
Realizing that Pat was my soul mate, that I had found the person I was meant to spend the rest of my life with. Oddly enough, it wasn't that far into our relationship, just a few weeks.

10. If you could “be” anything (no consequences, no fear), what would you “be”?
A Mother

11. What or who inspires you to blog?
Other bloggers inspire me. I see their awesome posts and I think, "How can I contribute?"

12. We’re headed to your neck of the woods… what restaurant would you recommend?
Only one!? I can't do that because it depends on what you're wanting to eat. For Bar-b-que go to Ben's, for seafood The Original Oyster House on the Causeway or Wintzell's (any location), for a little fancier fare try Ginny Lane's at the Wharf, and for some on the water dining go to Big Daddy's on Fish River. And if you're feeling a bit tourist-y, Lulu's is a great place to stop by.

13. What’s a southern tradition you and your family have?
We eat gumbo with fresh Gulf seafood for Christmas dinner and I've almost got the recipe nailed. It's been passed down in my family for generations.

14. If you could pick your favorite blog post from your blog this year, what would it be?  
My first instinct was my links on how to add social media buttons to your blog, but on review I also liked my Organizing tips post and my silly post with some items that made me smile that day.

15. We all love social media, tell us your links so we can follow you!
You can use the handy-dandy buttons on the right sidebar, but here they are anyway 

So now y'all know a little more about me. I hope I did this right.
I apologize for the lack of pictures as well. This took a ton more consideration than I thought and I ran out of time to do much more. Thanks so much for popping in!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Time to Use those Hoarded Beads

Lori Anderson of Pretty Things has done it again. She's come up with another brilliant idea for a blog hop. For those who don't know, Lori is the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party. Now, she's hosting a Bead Hoarders Blog Hop.

The idea behind this new hop is to basically use some of those beads that you've got stashed away. You know the ones. . . those beads you've been holding onto forever because they're just too awesome or intimidating to work with or part with. I believe all jewelry artists have at least a few of these hoarded beads. The idea of the hop is to use some of those and post pictures of what you make on July 20th. Easy peasy!
Here are some of my 'Hoarded Beads' that I'll be selecting from.
 
There's still time to participate. Head over to Lori's blog post, grab the button, and sign up!

Oh, and here's a new item in my shop.  . .
Embrace Necklace

What are you waiting for? Break out those hoarded beads and play along.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Meal Plan and Recipe Review

My day seems to be slipping away from me so I'm just going to jump right in to Menu Plan Monday.

Breakfasts: Cereal, Juice, Blueberry wheat pancakes, Breakfast burritos, Cinnamon sugar croissants

Lunches (options): PB&J, Soup w/grilled cheese, Bean burritos, Angel hair pasta with white sauce, Pita pizzas, Leftovers, Snack lunch, Cheese quesidilla

Dinners:
Baked Rigatoni from Dianne's Dishes

Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken from MyRecipes

I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie if you want to see some more meal plans.

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Now for my recipe review of the recipes I actually made last week.

Pasta with Mushrooms:  This was awesome. I couldn't find the special noodles so I just used some linguini. We both had seconds and I WILL be making it again! SO GOOD.

Corn Chowder: This was pretty good. It really made a TON and was super filling. I felt like it needed a little kick of flavor to it though. If I make it again I may add some jalapenos or something similar as well as halving the recipe.

Two Ingredient Cookies: I discovered these on Pinterest a few weeks ago and since we had some bananas that HAD to be used, I decided to try them out. I added some walnuts and a few chocolate chips. As someone who has a texture aversion issue, I should have known better than to make these. Pat said he got used to them after the first bite, but I definitely had some issues. I will say that they are super easy to make though. They're just not for us.

That's it for this week. My tummy's already growling for dinner so I need to stop talking about food and hop to it. I hope your week has something yummy in it!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Focusing on Life Week 25

This week for Focusing on Life, Sally wanted us to finish the statement "You are. . ." with what makes ourselves a wonderful person.

I found the words "You are. . ." tricky when talking about myself so I've made them into "I am. . ."

Yes, I'm lucky.

I may not have everything in my life that I expected to have and I may not have everything I want. But, I have so very much and I have everything I need. I am thankful, I am happy.

I was a little put off a few weeks ago when I received the above 'Lucky' button. I was attending a Bachelorette party and buttons like these were handed out to the attendees. The other buttons had words like "hot stuff", "frisky", "sexy", "flirt", "wild", and "bad girl." Me. . .I got lucky. The girl handing out the buttons even dug through her bag and pulled out several of the other buttons looking for one appropriate for me. Each of those other ones she shook her head at, replaced in her bag, and kept digging. I'll admit that it hurt my feelings a little. But as the festivities wound down, I came home to my house, deposited the button on my dresser, snuggled up to my husband (my soul mate), and realized just how lucky I am.

Check out all the other wonderful participants on Sally's blog, The Studio Sublime.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

ZnetShows June Challenge Beads Received

I've received some more awesome beads in the mail from ZnetShows. Design Team members were offered the chance to be partnered up, pick beads for their partner as inspired by the beach, and design with those beads.

By happy chance I ended up with two partners. . .that means TWO sets of beads for me!

Christine Stonefield of Sweet Girl Design is my first partner.  And here's the lovely selection of beads she picked out.



My second partner is Kelly Patterson of PyxeeStyx~Traveling Sideshow. She picked out a wonderfully eclectic mix of beads and chain.


I've already started designing with both sets of these beautiful beads. Our reveals are to be on or before July 6th as there will be a Blog Hop of all the designs at the ZnetShows Blog on July 6th. As well, there's going to be a GIVEAWAY involved. Make sure to check back for more details!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Food: My menu, PB&J Croissant recipe, and recipe review

It's another Monday and another meal plan from me! I do hope you had a lovely weekend but let's just jump on into this. Oh, since this is a food-related post, I just have to share with you the funky cool baby corn I found while shucking some fresh corn last week.
Isn't it cute?
Now on with the tasty.

Breakfasts: Cereal, Juice, Bacon & cheese omelets, Blueberry wheat pancakes, Cinnamon sugar croissants
Skinny Taste's Whole Wheat Pancakes

Lunches: Tuna salad pitas, Bean burritos, Hummus pitas, Angel Hair pasta with white sauce w/salad, Soup w/grilled cheese, Leftovers, Snack lunch, PB&J
Bell' alimento's angel Hair Pasta with White Sauce
Dinners:
MyRecipes' Bucatini with Mushrooms
Grilled Chicken w/green beans and potatoes
Tacos w/all the fixins
Sweet Pea's Kitchen's Corn Chowder

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Last week I mentioned making PB&J croissants and Kim asked how to make them so I figured I'd share this super simple recipe with you.

PB&J Croissants
Ingredients
1 can of refrigerated crescent rolls
Jelly of your choice
Peanut butter of your choice

Directions:
Gather Ingredients along with some parchment paper, utensils for spreading the PB&J, and a baking sheet.

Pre-heat oven to temperature indicated on crescent rolls. Lay out parchment paper on baking sheet. Unroll  dough triangles on sheet.

Spread peanut butter then jelly on the dough triangles, avoiding the edges as best you can.

Roll up the dough.

Repeat for all dough pieces.

Bake for time suggested on the crescent roll container.

Consume!

Easy peasy!! Oh, and the parchment paper totally makes for easy clean up and helps them from sticking too much.
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Let me review last week's new recipes (the ones I actually made).
PB&J Croissants (above): These were oh, so easy and yummy to boot. For some reason though, I didn't find them very filling. They definitely need to be paired with some fruit or other food item.

Crustless Quiche in a cup: These were tasty and we definitely preferred the broccoli to the previous week's squash quiche. I used some leftover broccoli from the night before instead of blanching it in the morning. Let me also direct you to the Original post of the Crustless Quiche in a Cup as the other link just links to that and I didn't notice until I was trying to make them. I will most likely make them again.

Summer Corn and White Bean Soup: This was fine. Hubs got seconds. I did make a few alterations to the recipe as I only realized at the last minute that I didn't have any ham to use. So I substituted bacon grease for the canola oil and added some pork bullion for the ham flavor. The green chilies gave the soup most of the flavor and a little heat. It was meh. I won't be making it again.

Sweet & Spicy Shrimp with Rice Noodles: We both really liked this. I couldn't find Thai chili so I just used a jalapeno. It worked out fine. I'm not usually big on sweet peppers, but mostly enjoyed them in this dish. I would have liked just a little more than the 4oz of noodles and may use a whole package (8oz) next time. There will most likely be a next time.

Lemon Basil Pasta: The recipe calls for grilled chicken, but I omitted it because it's just as good without it. This Pioneer Woman recipe has become almost a staple in out house. I try not to make it too often, but it's hard not to. It's SOOOOO good! It comes together quickly too. It will definitely be made again.

Enchilada Stuffed Mushrooms: We had these last night and I was so looking forward to them. I did add some jalapenos to them for a little additional vegetable to go with all the cheese. I could have just eaten that stuffing from the bowl. I also made them with large portobello mushroom caps. It was a blessing that I put some parchment paper down for them as the cheese stuffing ran ALL OVER the baking sheet. I don't know what happened. As far as the taste, they were pretty ok. I probably won't make them again though. . .at least not this recipe.
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That's it for me today. Here's hoping there's some tasty in your future too!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Focusing on Life Week 24: Green

I had almost forgotten about this week's Focusing on Life prompt.  Okay, I'll admit that I thought about it each and every day this week when I made my to-do list, but it quickly flew from my mind as soon as the letter N on "Green" was written.

After writing yesterday's Commitment post, I knew my next 'to do' was to be a green picture. Hmmmmm. .  I looked around my desk for something green. I guess I thought something was going to pop out at me. Guess what. Something did.

Remember a few weeks back when youngest niece stayed the week with us? Well, she got to do some crafting. Not just any crafting either, she decided she wanted to make some jewelry like her Hopey (that's what she calls me, so what of it.) Before I knew it, she was in my polymer clay. I gave her full reign over my clay supplies, and she opted to mostly stamp some pendants.

Once we had the pendants baked, we had to let them cool. To give them some time, off to the bead store we tromped to buy beads for her jewelry endeavors. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of just the beads she chose, but you can see some of them in the picture below of our next step. . .painting.

Once the pendants were painted, they had to dry.

The waiting was the hardest part, but she FINALLY got to make a necklace!

And yes, it had to be ALL GREEN. That is her favorite color after all. At some point she wants to sell it on Hopey's website. I'll let y'all know when it's listed. It's her job to help me do that too. I wanted her to see each step of the job. She even got to help take some of the pictures of her necklace. The one below in particular was hers.
Not too bad. I think I've got some competition!

Check out more Green on Sally's blog, The Studio Sublime.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Year of Jewelry Week 24: Commitment

Five days of blog posts IN A ROW!?
It's taken real commitment, but I've actually done it and am pretty pleased with myself. . .it's the little things in life that make me happy.


Speaking of commitment, that's actually this week's prompt for the Year of Jewelry Project. I didn't consciously work on this week's theme but when this necklace was finished today, I knew it fit the bill. Don't ya think?

It had been a simple brass cross. The simplicity of it had left me dumbstruck so I added the acrylic floral piece with some E6000. From there, the design just kinda took off.

I dug through my beads for white, ivory, and off-white beads and a few brass/gold tone pieces. I even did something I hardly ever do anymore, I worked on this piece while I watched a movie with Pat last night. That took commitment. . .

It was no time at all before I finished it up this morning. It's WAY longer than I had planned (guess I got carried away while watching that movie), but just perfect the way it is. You can see more 'Commitment' in the YOJ Facebook album.

I'm going to try to be a little more committed to the Year of Jewelry Project's prompts, but I really can't promise anything. My days and weeks always surprise me. Does the end of the week ever sneak up on you before you realize that you didn't get half the tasks done you had planned doing? This was a good one for me, we'll see how next week goes.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Buttons (For the Blog)

If you're like me and read most of your blogs in a feed-reader, you don't often actually SEE the changes made on actual blogs unless the blogger mentions it. Well, I've recently made a few changes to mine that I've been wanting to make for ages so I thought I'd mention it as well as how I did it. (Oh, and it's mostly button additions, you know how I like buttons! ;)  )

The first change I made was to clean up the social media buttons on my right sidebar. If you remember, they looked something like this.
Ewwwww!

And I was able to re-vamp that into this.
Ahhhhh!


Fabulous right!? I'm guessing some of you might want to know just HOW I was able to do it. Well, with the help of the following.
  1. This post from My Favorite Things on how to add social media buttons. There are actually many, many posts out there similar to this one, but her instructions seemed the most clear and easy-to-follow. 
  2. The links at the bottom of this Moms Make Money post. The post itself has a video with instructions on adding the links if you want, but I just needed some free social button images. (The last link with the cute color icons was the one I used.) 
  3. Photobucket. Basically, that's where you save your social button images so that you have an online link in order to put them into the code.
That's all I REALLY needed to get the changes made, but let me admit the last resource I used

4. (optional) My own limited knowledge of how to work with HTML from my time working at a website design company (though I just wrote the copy for the websites, I DID NOT write the code.) As well, my husband is a software programmer/coder extraordinaire and was able to help me get the buttons cooperate just the way I wanted them to.

Now, that's not all the changes I made.
  • I also added a widget so that you can follow the CraftyHope blog by e-mail. I know that is becoming a popular option lately. Check out the widget just above my new flashy social media buttons on the right. This was super easy to add in Blogger. 
    • From your Blogger drop-down menu select Layout
    • In Layout mode, you'll see several buttons in the middle of the screen that say "Add a Gadget", click that.
    • A new window will pop open. Scroll down the list in that window until you see "Follow by Email" and click into that.
    • From there, it's as easy as clicking save and making sure the Gadget is placed where you want it on your blog layout. DONE!
  • A reply button was also added to my comments section. I've actually been trying to figure out a way to add this little button for MONTHS and finally found this post from Spice up Your Blog that made it way simple to do.
Anyway, that's all the changes so far. I know there are a few others I want to make, but I'm so happy right now just to have gotten rid of some of the clutter that was plaguing my sidebar.

For a final dose of pretty, I listed these earrings today!
Unique Delight Earrings
I hope I was able to help you add some pizazz. . .or just some more buttons. . .to your blog also.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More Baby Conch Creations

I promised last week when I showed off my ZnetShows Baby Conch pieces that I would share a better picture of the pink earrings if I got one.

Well, here you go. . .

Oh, and I also made a whole 'nother necklace with some of the beach glass beads.

Yup, I made one of my JUNK necklaces.

There are baby conchs and real shells in there as well as all kinds of found objects including a zipper pull, Christmas light bulb, old earring, key, bell, and watch face.

What's even more enchanting about it is the sound it makes when it moves. Heavenly!

I'm digging it, but what do you think?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In case you need a smile too

I'm Moody Mooderson today and have been really thankful for the small smiles I've been able to eke out. Just in case you're in need of some smiles today too, I thought I'd share what brightened my day.

**I've had Pandora on most of the day and the song below made me giggle.
Screenshot from my iPad
**Anything Jonathan Coulton will also usually do a good job of turning a frown upside down. It's been a while since I heard this one and it was one of the first songs Pandora played for me today. (How did Pandora KNOW!?)

**I was able to be a little productive and finally finished this necklace that's taken me FOREVER (well, since Friday) to get done.

**I got a bracelet listed in the shop.
Perfect Wave Bracelet

**I'm making this amazing yumminess for dinner. (minus the grilled chicken)
Pioneer Woman Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta

 **And eating some of this for dessert.

Actually, mine will be Mediterranean Mint

**And, most of all. . .THIS made me smile SO MUCH
Bahahahaha!!
I hope something on this list made you smile too!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Meal Plan and Recipe Review

It's been so rainy and dreary here the past two days that I feel absolutely waterlogged. As well, overcast skies don't make me very productive either. Sigh.

My darkened view for the past few days.
At least I think it's finally starting to clear up some and I've got a yummy menu to look forward to (don't you like the way I transitioned there?)

Breakfasts: Oatmeal/Cheese grits, Juice, Crustless quiche in a cup, PB&J croissants, Breakfast burritos
Crustless Quiche
Lunches: PB&J, Hummus pitas, Grilled cheese w/soup, Mexican pizza, Tuna salad sandwiches, Pita pizza, Snack lunch, or Leftovers

Dinners:
Corn and white bean soup
Grilled chicken w/roasted green beans and potatoes
Enchilada stuffed mushrooms w/black beans and corn



I've decided to add my review of the 'new' recipes I try each week. Remember last week's menu? Here are my thoughts on the recipes I actually made.
Hashbrown baskets: I've made these several times in the past, but this time I omitted meat entirely and used 1/2 regular eggs and 1/2 egg whites (oh, as a deviation from the recipe instructions I usually just mix up a batch of scrambled eggs and pour those into the muffin cups since we're not big on non-scrambled eggs.) The half egg white mix worked wonderfully. Will definitely make again.

Creamy curried cauliflower soup: It was pretty good but a bit chunkier than I had hoped. I think the use of an immersion blender instead of my regular blender would help the texture. Might make again.

Chipotle Bean Burritos: These were fine, a lot like the bean burritos we make with regular cans of refried beans. However, the chipotle really did give the beans a yummy kick. Not sure if I'll make again, maybe.

Lazy Girl Quiche: This was easier than I thought, but I do have quite a few comments on it. The recipe called for 2 cups of squash AND 2 cups of zucchini but this was WAY more vegetables than could fit in my pie crust. I would definitely half that. As well, I'm not personally a fan of mushy squash/zucchini and this recipe made it much more soft than we like. I'm just going to use a different vegetable next time (maybe broccoli). Lastly, I recommend putting a cookie sheet under your pie pan before filling it so that transferring it into the oven is easier. On my first try of getting it into the oven, the egg/milk mixture sloshed over into the hot oven (THAT was fun!) I'll admit that I am a klutz and if you are too, use a cookie sheet. Otherwise, the quiche was really yummy and filling. I will most likely make it again (with different vegetables.)

Pasta with roasted tomatoes, white beans, and herbs: I changed the recipe slightly as I didn't get any fresh rosemary so I just used some dried. It worked fine. As well, the hubs isn't fond of chunks of tomatoes so I blended them before adding them to the pot. It was a really yummy meal. I will be making this again.

And for my final trick. . .ha, just kidding. I actually just wanted to let you know that a few items got marked down in the Etsy shop if you'd like to take a look.
Amber Waves Necklace
Cootie Earrings
Easy Peasy Earrings
That's all I've got for now and I think that was plenty. I hope the sun is shining where ever you are!