Monday, March 31, 2014

Meal Plan and Recipe Review (3/31)

After consuming almost half the pan of Homemade Cinnamon Rolls yesterday, I did something I've never done before - trail riding!

Well, I did something close to trail riding. I rode my bike in the woods on flat surfaces and then pushed it up and down hills in Blakeley State Park. It was quite the workout. I'm sure I burned off all those cinnamon rolls. At least I hope I did.

Now, I'm planning for the week ahead.

Breakfasts: Smoothies, Cereal, Oatmeal/grits, Hashbrown baskets, Waffles

Lunches: Cheese quesidillas, Simple sesame noodles (crack noodles), Turkey sandwich, PB&J, Tuna noodles, Soup w/grilled cheese, Leftovers

Dinners:
Black bean burgers w/sweet potato fries
Vegetarian chili over rice
Grilled Chicken w/sweet potatoes & Caesar salad

I'm linking up my meal plan for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.
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Recipe Review

Baked Tofu:  This was a pretty easy recipe and tasted alright. I might make it again, but I just might make my own variation on it.
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Before I close, here's a heavenly necklace that I just added to the CraftyHope Etsy Shop.
Cloudy Skies Necklace
 Here's hoping Monday treats you well!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kitchen Adventures: Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls


I've had this roll of Pillbury Thin Crust Pizza Crust in the back of my fridge for longer than I want to admit.

Since I finally realized we weren't going to use it for pizza, it hit me to experiment with it to make some cinnamon rolls.

I rolled out the pizza crust onto some wax paper (for easy clean up) and then set about melting butter in the microwave (here comes the adventure part). Ten seconds into my 30 second cycle; I heard a POP and a FIZZLE, saw some crazy orange light bouncing around the microwave, and quick as a flash stopped the thing. It's now unplugged, cleaned off, and waiting to go to the dump. I was a little shaken to say the least. Oh well, I had to move on and melt butter the old-fashioned way (below).


Using  a pastry brush, paint the butter onto the dough before liberally sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on it. Use any remaining butter to coat your baking dish.
I thought the dough looked somewhat Alabama-shaped, Pat disagreed.
Roll your dough up into one long log (kinda how it came out of the package). Be careful not to handle it too much or it will start to stretch longer and longer. Press down on the edge a little to make sure it sticks.

Use a knife (mine was serrated) to slice the log into smaller rolls. Mine were about 2 1/2 inches long.

If you didn't have enough butter to coat your baking dish, coat it now with some non-stick spray. Then, place your rolls in the dish and pop them in a 400 degree oven.

While they are cooking, pour your glaze ingredients into a bowl.

Mix them with a fork until smooth and creamy.

Once the roll have browned nicely (15-20 minutes), pull those babies out.

Drizzle your glaze over them.

Continue to add the glaze until you are happy with the gooey-ness. (I had WAY too much glaze and will likely half the ingredients when I make this again.)

Ingredients (makes about 9 rolls):
~For rolls~
1 can Pillsbury thin pizza crust
2 Tbs. butter (melted)
Cinnamon and Sugar to taste

~For glaze~
1 C. powdered sugar
2 Tbs. half and half or milk
1 tsp. vanilla

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
-Roll out dough
-Brush most of butter onto dough with brush
-Spread remaining butter on bottom and sides of baking dish
-Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar liberally onto dough
-Roll dough into log
-Slice log into smaller logs (about 9)
-Place rolls into baking dish, pop dish into oven, and bake 15-20 minutes
-While baking, combine glaze ingredients
-Remove rolls from oven and drizzle with glaze

Enjoy!

Obviously, I know you could just buy the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls too, but this was a great way for me to use that pizza dough.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Liebster Award

Beth over at Love You Munches was so very kind and nominated me for a Liebster Award. Thank you so much for the honor!

Apparently this type of award helps bring awareness to blogs with less than 3,000 followers through a chain-mail-like-Q&A-blog-hop-thingy.

Here are the questions Beth posed to me:

1. What is your biggest life goal or dream?
Geez, I don't even know. I definitely would like to live on the water one day, or at least have a pool. I guess I better have a super-successful jewelry business in order to achieve either one of those!


2. What are you obsessed with?
Right now? The internet. . .I can't seem to pull myself away from my laptop at night. Next week it'll be something else I'm sure.

3. What is your favorite thing about blogging?

Making connections with others and having an outlet for my need to write. (That's two favorite things, but y'all don't mind do you?)

4. Who do you cheer for?
If you've read my blog at all you know this answer, it's The University of Alabama - - - ROLL TIDE!!


5. How do you get yourself through bad days?
Sometimes I take a nap, sometimes a good cry helps, sometimes it's food/chocolate/beer, sometimes I just tell myself that it'll be better tomorrow.

6. How do you celebrate particularly good days?
Good days are a reward within themselves, and I'm not sure that I do much at all to make them any better.

7. Who is your favorite Disney princess?
That's a real tough one as I do love me some Disney. I'd have to say Ariel simply because of the water.

8. What’s your favorite type of writing instrument?
I'm partial to Pilot Precise pens and recently became addicted to the retractable ones. I always have a good pen on me and am very protective of them.

9. Do you binge watch any Netflix shows? Which ones?
I do binge watch. While the hubs was out of town last week it was Glee, but I'm also working my way through Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the hubs and I are on a Star Trek: The Next Generation kick right now too.

10. What would you want your last meal to be?

I'd definitely have to go with my favorites: boiled blue crab, a really good macaroni and cheese, roasted broccoli, a fabulous salad, and tiramisu.Those might not work together at all, but I would consume ALL OF IT!

11. What are you looking forward to the most about warmer weather?
Getting in the water! The cold snaps have kept the water too chilly for me so I can't wait for the bays, rivers, gulf, and pools to be warm enough to swim, kayak, sail, splash, and float in.


Here are the rules for the bloggers I'm tagging:
  • Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and answer the questions they presented.
  • Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  • Copy & paste the pink Liebster Award logo to your blog.
  • Nominate 5 blogs to receive the award who have less than 3,000 followers. Create a new list of 11 questions for them.
  • Inform them of their nomination.
Now, as for who I'm tagging. . .that was the toughest part of this award. First of all, I really don't know how to tell if a blogger has more than 3,000 followers. Secondly, I know so many amazing bloggers that it's hard to choose just five. So. . .I basically closed my eyes and pointed at names on my feed reader to come up with this list of totally deserving, wonderfully awesome, lovely ladies.

Alice at Alice Dreaming
Kim at CoziNest
Lorraine at Clamco
Tammie at TTE Designs

I hate to leave anyone out, but I couldn't name you all. So, if you're not one of the five above and want to play along, just answer my questions and leave a link to your post in the comments.

Here are my questions:
1. What is your nickname?
2. What's the most important thing for you to accomplish everyday before you go to bed?
3. What are you most looking forward to this Spring?
4. Who/what motivates you to get out of bed every morning?
5. What are five of your favorite movies?
6. When you get a chance, what's your favorite way to relax?
7. Where is your favorite place to eat out?
8. What's the first album you remember owning?
9. What inspires you?
10. What book is closest to you at this very moment?
11. Do you collect anything? What?

So that's it. I can't wait to see how y'all answer these and who YOU tag!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meal Plan and Recipe Review (3/24)

With Pat back in town, we spent the weekend enjoying each others' company and some wonderfully yummy food.

We tried out a few new restaurants (Cornerstone Kitchen that I reviewed yesterday and ACME Oyster House that I might also review.) and grilled out a little to boot. Now that he's home, it's time to get serious about the food and stop re-heating leftovers. So here's what I've got planned.

Breakfasts: Smoothies, Conecuh sausage and mushroom omelet, Cereal, Hashbrown baskets, Cinnamon rolls (pizza dough experiment)

Lunches: Cheese quesidillas, Pizza (from freezer), Tuna noodles, PB&J, Bean burrritos, Soup w/grilled cheese, Leftovers

Dinners:
Baked Tofu w/green beans and red potatoes
Spaghetti w/salad
Black bean burgers w/sweet potato fries
Crockpot ham w/cauliflower & field peas

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Recipe Review

Enchilada Lasagna: As soon as Pat took a bite of this he said, "Mmmmm, that's good." Now, as always, I altered the recipe. To begin with, I used whole wheat flour tortillas (fajita sized) instead of corn. I also did NOT use 5 1/2 cups of cheese. That seemed a little redonkuous. Instead, I used one 8oz bag of shredded Mexican cheese. As well, instead of sour cream I used plain Greek yogurt. Lastly, I seasoned the chicken with some chili powder, granulated garlic, and adobo as well as the salt and pepper before cooking it in coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. There's a good chance I will make this again with the same alterations  since the hubby liked it so much.
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I've failed to mention in my last few posts that I've got a few new items in the Etsy shop - specifically these wire and bone earrings that I adore
Caged Bones Earrings
and this necklace/bracelet that apparently just didn't photograph well.
Subtle Warmth Necklace
Now it's time to start kicking butt and taking names. . .or just getting stuff done. Yeah, that'd be good. Happy Monday y'all!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Local Restaurant Review: Cornerstone Kitchen

We're big fans of Dragonfly Food Bar here in Fairhope so when we heard that owner Douglas Kerr opened another restaurant in Foley, we were itching to try it. That opportunity finally came, and we were not disappointed.

The new place is called Cornerstone Kitchen and is literally situated on the corner of Laurel (Hwy 98) and Pine. The actual address is 246 W. Laurel, Foley, AL 36535.

The place has some indoor seating, but the majority of their tables are in the large outdoor area.

The decor was tasteful, airy, and comfortable. Inside, I was smitten with these light fixtures made from mesh wastebaskets.

Outside features a stage where local musicians perform.

There's also a fun, tin-roofed bar and a fireplace outside.

Cornerstone Kitchen's menu is reminiscent of Dragonfly's with an eclectic mix of ingredients in each item. It's a small menu that consists of Small Plates (appetizers), Salads, Tacos, Sliders, Burgers, and a few sides. There were also some specials and a great selection of beer. (I'm sure the wine selection was great too, I'm just no expert in that area.)

Pat ordered a couple of the day's special Pork Tacos and one of the Kung Pao Chicken Sliders. He raved over them both, but especially enjoyed the slider.

I opted for the Pork Nachos (from the small plates) and a Veal Slider. The nachos were fabulous. The chips seemed to be made from puff pastry or something similarly yummy and the crispy jalapenos were delish! I also enjoyed the slider, but it was all about the nachos for me. Even with Pat's help, I didn't finish them.

We definitely recommend Cornerstone Kitchen if you live in or are traveling through the area.
We'll be making the short drive to Foley to eat there again for sure.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Changes to My Blogger Blog and Tips for You (custom url and favicon)

I just have to shout a WOOHOO. If you would, please take a look up at your address bar above. Go on, I'll wait. . .

Do you see it? It no longer says CraftyHope.BLOGSPOT.com. My blog is now simply CraftyHope.com!!

We've owned the url for a while now and just used it on my Tumblr because they had free hosting. Well, while I was at the blogger's conference on Tuesday, Debbie of Flower Child Designs mentioned that she has a Blogger blog and only pays a minimal amount to have her own URL on it. With further research, I realized that I too could have Blogger direct my blog to the url that I already own. WHAT!? I was able to do this by going to the basic settings page for my blog and adjusting the publishing option.
See the 'edit' button circled above? I clicked it and found complete instructions for changing my blog address. It did involve going into the site where we pay for the URL and filling in some info, but Google (Blogger) provided that info. I will admit that Pat helped me with it as I already had a headache, and he's much better with tech speak than I am. However, it was an extremely easier process than I had anticipated.

Now, let me apologize for the hokey welcome sign above, but I wanted to work in the little flowers as those are now my favicon. What's a favicon you ask? According to Google, it's "an icon associated with a URL that is variously displayed, as in a browser's address bar or next to the site name in a bookmark list."

To me, they are just the cute little pictures next to the site names in my browser. To illustrate:
I circled all the favicons in my open browser. At the far right is mine. It's hard to see because favicons are only 16 pixels by 16 pixels, but here's what it looks like enlarged.

Yup, it's a cute daisy I created in Photoshop and added to the favicon option in Blogger. You'll find that option at the top of the layout page of blogger.
Basically, you just upload a small image there and it becomes your favicon. Since you have such an EXTREMELY SMALL area, you'll want to use a pretty basic image.

And that's that.

I've got some other changes I want to make on the blog, but Blogger's not cooperating right now. I think I might have given it whiplash or something. Oh well, tomorrow's another day and predicted to be a rainy one at that. I might get even more accomplished. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bead Table Wednesday: 3/19 (from the couch)

Pat is out of town for a few days, so I get to figure out who I would be if I were single. So far I've realized

Yeah. . .I don't watch much Glee while he's at home. Since I knew I'd be bumming it on the couch for almost endless a few hours, I made up a tray of work to do in front of the TV.

In fact, it's sitting there now waiting for me to watch some more Glee this evening! I can't wait to get to work.


So what's on your bead table (or couch) this Wednesday? 
BTW was originated by Heather of Humblebeads.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Overcoming Fear in the Face of. . .Other Bloggers

I couldn't sleep last night. I tossed and turned, worried and fretted. For one, I knew I had to get up early and didn't want to oversleep. Secondly, I was going to meet some other local bloggers IN REAL LIFE. After a while I couldn't stand it anymore. I simply got out of bed and started to prepare myself. I felt sick to my stomach, and it wasn't the coffee. Meeting new people (without the safety net of someone I know near me) is usually the perfect reason for me to panic. So panicking I was!


See. . .Kim of Cozinest, another Fairhope gal, arranged a get-together she was calling the South Alabama Bloggers Conference, and I had registered to attend. I'm not sure exactly what I was looking for in this meeting, but I knew that I needed to be there. Well. . .logically I knew I needed to be there. Emotionally, I was a wreck! Once I registered, Kim sent me a welcome e-mail and I responded by explaining my social awkwardness. She reassured me and encouraged me to come. In addition, Pat was adamant that I attend. (That man is such a blessing in my life, seriously.) Fortunately, it was at Page and Palette, only a few miles from my house. Before I could turn back, I was there! Kim greeted me in the upstairs meeting area, I found my name tag, and I took a seat.


As everyone began to mingle, I found myself talking aloud...to others (though aloud to myself is NOT uncommon.) I even recognized a few people. The meeting started with each of us introducing and saying a little something about ourselves. My mind and my heart raced as the others poured out their stories. I was second-to-last in line, and I think my 'story' came out as fast as I could get it out of my body. But, I did it! After that, it was much easier.


Kim had prepared an agenda. We touched on only a few of the many awesome topics she had on it and planned a date to meet again. As the meeting broke apart, most of the attendees headed out for lunch together. I fled the scene to run some errands, catch my breath, and revel in my accomplishment. I met new people without a security blanket! I spoke out loud to a room full of people I'd never met before. I don't think I said anything stupid, inappropriate, or silly. I only interrupted one or two times. I got through it! I should sleep much better tonight. (despite all the coffee I had today.)


Before I go, I want to share with you the bloggers I got the privilege to meet:
Wade of Wade on Birmingham (and many more blogs)

Each of these individuals (along with the two guest speakers) brought something to the table(s) today. They are all full of ideas, creativity, and insight. It was really an amazing experience to spend the morning with them. I can't wait to meet up with them again next month!

Monday, March 17, 2014

ZnetShows' Creative Spark 2014

Many of you might not know it, but I'm currently the Social Media Manager for ZnetShows. Part of this job includes the quarterly publication of our online magazine, "Creative Spark." The Spring issue was released just this morning, and I'd love it if you took the time to see what the designers and myself have worked so hard on over the past month or so.


Let me know what you think!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Possibly Ending Monday's Mania and a Meal Plan/Recipe Review

I'm forever looking for new 'methods' of working efficiently, gaining inspiration, managing my time, cleaning the house, eating healthier, etc. Over the weekend, while plowing through my feedreader, I found this blog post from Marie MacMillian on how she manages Mondays. She mentioned 'filling her idea basket'. It hit a chord with me. I really loved the notion of pulling together some general pieces and then giving yourself time to process what direction/materials you want each of those pieces to take. I knew today would likely be a little hectic for me and had some time yesterday, so here's what I did.

I grabbed some deep, stackable plastic plates (this was all I had, I may need to get more or find some other containers for this task) and picked out a few focals.

From there, it was a matter of taking a long, hard look at each of the focals and deciding what direction I wanted them to take.

I can see using this process with any number of materials; random art beads that are begging for attention, a neat clasp, a collection of bezels, or whatever. In my case, I have a couple bowls scattered around that craft room that contain focals begging for designs.

How perfect would it be to start out each week with a clean desk like Marie and a stack of ideas already simmering? It would absolutely ease that Monday struggle of "Where do I start?" At least I struggle with it. I think it's the bowls full of stuff that get to me.

I was so excited about this new method that I've already completed one of the designs.

Make sure you read Marie's Monday post so you can get the full gist of what her method is.
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Menu

And, since it is Monday I did go about my usual procedure of making a meal plan.

Breakfasts: Skinny Banana Blueberry Muffins (leftover), Cereal, Smoothies, Omelets, Hashbrown baskets, Waffles or pancakes (from freezer)

Lunches: (OPTIONS) Sandwiches, Cheese Quesidillas, Cheese pizza w/salad, Tuna noodles, PB&J, Bean burritoes, Soup w/grilled cheese, Leftovers

Dinners:
Taco Soup
BBQ tofu pizza w/salad

As always, I'm linking up with Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.
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Recipe Review

Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup: This was so, so good. I threw it together for myself while the hubby was out playing a gig. The ingredients just sounded yummy together, and they were! The fact that the recipe is from Skinny Taste is a big plus. I'll definitely make this again.

Crunchy Garlic Chicken: This is a Jamie Oliver recipe that I've made this several times, and it never fails to taste great. I do have some issues with it in the breading of the chicken. Granted, I used a bit more chicken than the recipe calls for, but I tried to compensate by adding more of the ingredients to make the breading. I still didn't have quite enough. I think the butter in the breading mixture causes it to lump up and not spread evenly. I will admit that the butter in the ingredients does make the chicken more juicy, but causes the breading to be more of a paste. I left the butter out of the next batch of breading I made to cover the rest of my chicken, and it was just fine. I may make this again, but with my own substitutions - mainly using Parmesan instead of butter.

Paella with Soy Chirizo and Edamame: Weirdly, I'd never had paella until I made this and then over the weekend some friends made it for a party. (TWO paellas in one week.) Those guys are experienced cooks so I knew their version was closer to the real stuff. While this recipe was indeed tasty, it seemed to be more of a risotto than a paella. We liked it either way and I'll probably make it again.

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup: WOW! We both really loved this. I cut back on some of the half and half and Parmesan as it sounded WAY too rich with the whole amounts of those. I may cut back even more on the half and half next time too and just add more vegetable broth. If I hadn't made a salad to go with this, we could have easily eaten the whole pot. I will definitely be making this again.

Mushroom Bourguignon: I felt like I had way too many mushrooms when I bought all of them (it was a good thing they were on sale last week!) Once they cooked down, it made much more sense. I never could get the sauce to thicken much at the end, so we ate it while it was still a little liquid-y. That didn't hurt the taste one bit, it was yummy. We had more than enough leftovers so I'll probably half this recipe the next time I make it.

I think I've inundated you with enough this Monday. I do hope you're enjoying the extra sunshine in the evening that comes with Daylight Savings. I know I am!!