Creative Spark Winter 2015 Reveal

The fact that I'm getting back on track can only mean one thing: the newest issue of ZnetShows' Creative Spark e-magazine has been released! For those that don't know, I work as the Social Media Manager for (specializing in wholesale beads). ZnetShows makes their own cultured sea glass. They also have a beautiful selection of Chinese crystal beads and glass pearls. Those are their specialties. However, they have have a great selection of gemstones, base metal pieces, and more. Anyway. . .enough about all that. The new issue is out!
Creative Spark Fall 2014 Winter 2015 
The main focus of the issue is using the cultured sea glass to make icy winter designs. However, there are also some easy earring tutorials and designs made with the new cultured sea porcelain. In addition to the designs, there's insight from the designers, yoga for beaders, and some info on how to rock Twitter. It's a great issue!

I'd really love to know what you think about Creative Spark Winter 2015, so feel free to leave a comment here, on the ZnetShows blog, and/or on the ZnetShows facebook page!

Meal Plan and Recipe Review

Whether you've noticed or not, it's been a crazy-too-busy-to-post couple of weeks for me. Once again, I'm getting back on track. Despite not posting my menu the last few weeks, we have had one and been sticking to it pretty well. As such, I've got quite a few recipes to review. You'll find those at the end of the post. For now, let's get to what's planned for this week.

Breakfasts: Cereal, Smoothies, Oatmeal/cheese grits, Yogurt w/granola, Frozen waffles w/bacon, Hashbrown baskets

Lunches: Leftovers, Bean burritos, Calzones, PB&J, Tuna noodles, Cheese quesidillas

Chicken in basil cream sauce w/orzo & green beans
Tacos w/corn


Recipe Review

Monkey Muffins: (pic below) So easy, so amazingly good. 'Nuf said.

Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Soup: This was okay. I'm not sure I'll make it again though; there are other similar soup recipes that we  like better (see bottom of list).

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta: I often make this without the chicken, and it is awesome as always. All the leftovers were eaten!

Cheesy Taco Casserole: (pic below) This was pretty good. It was very 'nacho-y'. I like that the chips stayed crisp in the oven, though I'm not sure how they did as leftovers as it wasn't touched later. It made a TON for just the two of us. I might make it again if I can figure out a way to reduce the size.

Slow Cooker Soy Glazed Chicken with Stir Fry Veggies: This was pretty good. The chicken ended up a little tough but that was possibly my fault for leaving it in the cooker too long. I might make it again.

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Mushrooms: My own recipe; I love it every time.
While the stuffed mushrooms can be made vegetarian with the omission of bacon, I only use one slice per mushroom cap. It really ups the flavor.
Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya: I substituted soy chorizo in this as we had it on hand from another recipe. It was good. However, it was more of a chili-flavor than a jambalaya. We ate it, but not the leftovers. I probably won't make it again.

Sesame Chicken and Noodles: This was okay. It was super simple, but probably not something I'll make again.

Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup: I've made this before and we really liked it. Again, it was a winner in our house.

That's the plan for now. Things may change though. We'll have the nieces over the weekend and some friends will be in town too so you never know. What's on your menu for the week?

WOYWW (a day late)

I have been up to my eyeballs in paperwork and computer work and I haven't even started gathering the 2014 tax stuff yet. I've been so busy, I actually took all these photos yesterday for What's on Your Workdesk? Wednesday but never got around to editing them. So, I'm a day late. Le sigh. Here's what my workdesk has been looking like.
No beads or paint. . .how sad this is.
Now that my big paperwork-y project is close to done, I can hopefully pull out some of these
Paints and pens
Or these
Spray inks and markers
Or some of these
Or some of the fun stuff on this shelf
All kinds of goodies (paints, inks, sprays, powders, etc.)
And, I especially want to play with these!
Beads! Glorious beads!!

I guess I need to stop writing about it and go ahead and get to it if it's going to happen today. Where would you start with all these options?

I'm sharing this late link on Stamping Ground's What's on Your Workdesk? Wednesday (WOYWW)

Thrifty Finds

First off, Happy Valentine's Day!

I can't believe I haven't posted all week. . .well, actually I can. I've been WAY consumed with my paying job and haven't had time for anything else: blog posting, jewelry listing, or even being very creative at all. Sigh. All work and no play makes Hope. . . you know the rest. And, it's Mardi Gras here too. I do plan on taking a break to catch a parade this evening, but that means no Valentine's Day  dinner with the hubby. (He's not a huge Mardi Gras fan.) It's definitely been a balancing act here lately. Anyway, I realized I had some pictures of my recent 'thrifty' finds so I figured I had a little time to pop in and share this stash with you.

As Pat and I were cruising around the back roads, we stumbled on an estate sale where I picked up these goodies.
An alphabet/number stencil and some ink
Earlier that morning, I made a quick run up the street to a yard sale. For a whole buck I was able to take home these bits.
A collection of rubber stamps and a couple of cake tins
Here's a better look a the stamps.
You can't really beat that for a quarter
On a thrift store excursion looking for a baseball bat (to round metal for jewelry), I also picked up a few other scores.
On the bottom of that pile of books is a canvas I've already gessoed. Oh, and the book on the left is full of Chinese text!
And the best? At a couple of antique stores I found these goodies.
The long strand of crystals are smaller than you think. Tiny things are great! The two pads have a list of services at a beauty parlor. The feel of the paper is old and wonderful. And then the two metal stamps. . .not sure what I'll do with them yet, but they were a steal.
What have you picked up lately while out thrifting?

Oh, and I'm linking up this post with . . .
Vintage Inspiration Party at My Salvaged Treasures
Let's Talk Vintage at Bella Rosa Antiques
What's It Wednesday at Ivy and Elephants
Treasure Hunt Thursday at From My Front Porch to Yours
Vintage Bliss Tuesday at Woman in Real Life
Show and Share at Coastal Charm

Washi Tape Valentine's Day Cards (DIY Video)

Valentine's day is just over a week away. Can you believe we're already that far into 2015? I can't! Last week I had some washi tape on my desk that I knew was destined for a project. Ideas for the project have been building up so when the power went out yesterday, I took some time to work on those ideas and came up with these cute Valentine's cards.

I think the results are really fun and super cute. 

Instead of writing up a confusing tutorial, I recorded a (fairly) short video of the process to make the cards. 

Many of the supplies were inexpensive purchases from the dollar store (including some of the washi tape) so they can be made without much cost.
The top two rolls are from the Dollar Tree

Since this is a quick project, you should have plenty of time to make these cards before V-day.

I'm pretty smitten with them myself. What do you think?

Mini War Game

When I was a kid. . .(wow, how old am I now that I start a sentence like that!?) Anyway, our family often played board and card games. We didn't have much money for dinners out or movies or vacations, but we played together. Trivia Pursuit was a favorite along with Yahtzee, poker, Connect 4, Rummy, and countless other games. Pat and I have even had our own game-playing spells. When Pat started watching Tabletop on YouTube (a channel hosted by Wil Wheaton where he and a few other folks play a game in each episode), I didn't really know what to think. However, this spurred me to make a visit to a local store, Mini War Game.
The store is located in downtown Fairhope and deals in card, board, tabletop, and role playing games (no electronics) and encourages you to even play in the store. On my first visit, I was immediately struck by the number of tables arranged throughout the space. I picked up a game that Pat had mentioned and then arranged for our local blogging group, Southern Bloggers Jubilee, to meet there this month. The ample table space, friendly staff, and unique concept made me think it was a perfect spot.
While we held our meeting a few weeks later, we got to learn a little more about this unique space. Jon Mansmann, owner, explained that the store started off in the closet of his office. He and some friends would play games after work. This small group grew to over 30 people, and Jon knew this passion was destined for something else. He wanted to create something different and told us, "You can buy games anywhere, but you can't play them anywhere."
Since opening the shop, Jon and his wife Stephanie feel that they've "cultivated a family" within the storefront. There's a diverse group of individuals that come to the store to play. The ages range from 8-60 and their backgrounds all vary, but everyone gets along over the table.
Each day, on Mini War Game's Facebook page, you can find a list of the games being played. On Fridays, Jon and Stephanie even welcome the whole 'family' to dinner and a game of Magic the Gathering in the store (though, you are encouraged to RSVP if you want to eat).
Just talking to Jon, you can tell that he considers the gamers who come to the store to be more than just customers. He really does encourage a family atmosphere and even reminds the students playing to do their homework too.
I've now purchased two games from Mini War Game and am working on getting Pat up there to play sometime. It'll be just like the good ole days!
Here an article from the Fairhope Courier, April 2013 with more info about Mini War Game.

You should definitely check it out, or something similar in your own neck of the woods. It might bring back those "good ole days" memories too.

Menu, Recipe Review, and Tidbits

After so much chaos for the last several weeks (or is it months now. . .), I have to boast that I did pretty darn well staying on track with the menu this past week. We didn't eat out near as much since our plans didn't change as often as they normally do. Actually. . . writing that out kinda makes me feel like we're settling into a boring routine rather than doing something admirable. I guess I'll get over that soon enough, especially since I should realize that we ate really well.

I actually made the above breakfast over the weekend. Now, if I could only get my butt in gear and get breakfast made/eaten on the weekdays as well. It's always a struggle isn't it? Here's what I hope we'll have this week.

Breakfasts:Cereal, Smoothies, Grits/oatmeal, Yogurt w/granola, Monkey Muffins, Breakfast burritos

Lunches: Leftovers, Hoagie bread pizzas, PB&J, Turkey panini, Cheese quesidilla, Soup w/grilled cheese, Tuna noodles

Shepherd's Pie
Lemon Basil Pasta (no chicken) w/salad


Recipe Review

Since I actually made most of the meals on the menu, I have some recipes to review. Woohoo!

Spicy Peanut Butter Tofu: This has become a staple tofu recipe in our house. Peanut butter and spiciness = WIN!! I did use reconstituted PB2 for the peanut butter and it worked out really well.
Spicy Peanut Butter Tofu (along with green beans and yellow rice)
Portabella Mushroom Cheesesteaks: I'll admit that I was on the fence about these. I'm not a huge bell pepper fan and Pat doesn't really do onions. But they looked so good. I just tried to make sure I got more onions and less bell peppers and vice versa for him. We LOVED these. He went on and on about them. Since they  were so easy, I'll probably be making them again.
Portabella Mushroom Cheesesteaks (with sweet potato waffle fries)
30 Minute Veggie Tortellini Soup: We enjoyed this. That's about all I can say about it. It was a good, healthy-ish soup. I wasn't a huge fan of the green beans in it, but it was a fine soup. I may make it again.

Random Tidbits

Last week I joined up with several linky parties since I had the Easy Calzone Recipe to share. This week, that recipe is a featured post at Claire Justine for Creative Monday!
How cool is that!?

Finally, I fiddled with my blog header over the weekend and would love to know what you think of this new one. Constructive criticism welcome!
Here's hoping your Monday has been kind to you and that you have an amazing week!

Bead Box 18 - Reveal

 Hey y'all! I'm popping in to share the completed jewelry pieces that came out of Bead Box 18 . I've actually already stocked an...