SCRATCH: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Yeah, I know.  That’s all we need.  Another post/blog/article on what to do with those thanksgiving leftovers.  But let’s face it people, how about making something a little different?  You know, other than turkey soup or open faced turkey sandwiches.  So I posted on my Facebook wall “What can I make tonight with the turkey?” or something along those lines.  Because I knew there would be some people that would absolutely pull one out for me.  Check it out:

Nancy in Southern California suggested Turkey Hash.  She has a recipe that calls for apples, potatoes and chicken.  She told me to use the turkey instead.

Susi in New Jersey suggested Turkey Mushroom Tetrazzini.  It seems like a pasta/casserole type of dish that is mad easy to make.  Love it.

My local people had some good suggestions too:

Tina suggested a cranberry turkey stuffing bake.  That actually sounds pretty amazing.  However I don’t think the boyfriend will go for it.  If I omit the cranberries I might.

Doug, who is an IT pro like myself suggested a stew of turkey and dumplings.  This one I’m absolutely going to do.  Eat some then freeze some.

Mom Mancini suggested Turkey Meatloaf.  That one is an inside joke.  Thanks, Mom 🙂

Sarah suggested turkey pot pie.  I have some pie crusts, but I would probably do a Shepard’s pie first.

And then there’s the other leftovers, such as the stuffing and the smashed taters.  I will probably use the stuffing for the dumplings recipe like Doug suggested.  I also saw some cool little muffin things I can do with the taters.  If I can freeze them when I am done, I will do that.

So who wins?  Susi!  I’m making that dish that she suggested.  Something totally different that I would think of doing with thanksgiving leftovers.  And, it’s lightened up!

So, what do you do with all those thanksgiving leftovers?  ::C

Pictorial: Layered Chain Necklace in less than 10 steps

I recently created a chain style necklace that I found to be pretty popular.  A major component that I used to make this was beaded-chain, or quick links as some people call it.  I finished it up with some cone findings to give it a polished look.  The wonderful part about this necklace is that you can make it in any size you want, and mix this up with any beaded-chain that you want.

This is a great project for a beginner who is looking to bump up to intermediate.  It will take you about an hour or so, only because I took out the guess work.  Let’s get started.

You will need the following materials to complete this project:

Beaded Chain – any color, any length.  As you can see, I folded mine into quarters.  You can do thirds, halves…anything depending on the size of your necklace.

Primary Chain – Whatever layers you want to add on, make sure you have enough length for it.  Make sure length matches beaded chain folds.

Secondary Chain – You can use the same as your primary chain, but I would recommend one single strand that I very sturdy.

Two cone findings
One Alligator Clasp
Three smaller jump rings
One larger jump ring (not shown)
Two oval jump rings
2 pieces of wire (20 gauge-ish), with a loop wrapped around it.  Looping and wrapping this before getting started will save you troubles.
Basic wire working tools – pliers, needle nose, etc.

STEP ONE: Cut beaded chain and primary chain to match the same length.  Take the time to be picky about this.

STEP TWO: Open an oval jump ring and string through one side of the necklace.  This will include all strands to complete one end of your necklace, and one of the wire loops that you created:

STEP THREE:  Crush the oval jump ring with pliers to make it a little more thin so the cone finding can cover it.

STEP FOUR: Slide cone finding over wire and cover the oval jump ring:

STEP FIVE: Time to fire the bullet: wrap the wire out of the end of the cone to start to make a loop:

STEP SIX: Finalize your loop – don’t worry about sloppiness.  That’s part of the charm:

STEP SEVEN: Cut your secondary chain as long as you would like the focal part of your necklace to hang.  I would recommend no longer the just the collar bone.  Swing it around the back of your neck and look at a mirror.  Decide where you want the multi-chain necklace to begin.

STEP EIGHT: Attach your secondary chain using two of the smaller jump rings to the main portion of your necklace:

STEP NINE: Cut the secondary chain in the back.  Attach a lobster claw using your last smaller jump ring.  Add a larger, solid jump ring on the other side to complete the clasp set.

DONE!  This piece can be as versatile as you like.  Do you have ideas for variations?  Let me know.  Open her up, and be as creative with it as you can get.  I dare you ❤

Happy Thanksgiving!  ::C

Post and Run: New Vendor

Happy Turkey Times Everyone!

The Buffalo area in New York got bombed recently with snow.  Funny…did you see my preparation post about a month ago???

We are supposed to be getting some heavy snow, so everything is in place.  I have enough food and turkey fixings (except my fresh herbs!) for Thursday.  I can forage plenty for the next month.  So I’m not worried.  The only thing I am worried about is driving in that horrid weather.

Anyways, a snow bound time makes for good bead smithing and jewelry works.  So I intend to use that time to do just that.  Let me tell you about a new online vendor that I have fallen in love with:

Gifts of Joyhttp://www.giftsjoy.com

Goodness.  This place not only has a wonderful selection, offers great discounts and fabulous prices…but I am completely how quickly they ship your order.  I have been partial to Mountain Fire Gems, but Gifts of Joy is really giving MFG a run for their money.  If you are a jewelry maker and you don’t know about these people – you need to check them out.

Here are some items that I have recently listed on ETSY.

Memory wire with quality glass beads

Stretch beaded bracelets – in Amethyst and Blue Sponge Quartz

Aqua beaded and wired Statement Necklace

Aqua Shell Necklace/Bracelet/Earrings Set – This also comes in ORANGE and PURPLE.  See my site for more:

Lapis Lazuli with bronze Rondelle spacers.  Something I made for a friend.  Now it’s on my regular line:

Christmas is coming people.  So here are some kickbacks:

Be safe during this Turkey Time!  ::C

SCRATCH:: Creative Cuisine: On Plan and On Budget

Before I begin, understand that I strive to eat very healthy.  Not just healthy, but low in fat, calories, blah blah blah.  It’s part of my Weight Watchers (WW) journey.  When I stick with it, I’m extremely successful.  I’ve lost 30 pounds sense this summer – when I started working at the YMCA again after my pretty harsh injury at the beginning of the year (which fueled the weight gain).  Now, I’m down to a size 10.  You want to lose weight reasonably and learn great lifestyle changes?  I highly recommend WW all the way.  I’ll take that to the grave.

I used to not be so into cooking.  I remember when I was living by myself (or married and by myself), I would make the most simple dinners.  A piece of frozen salmon with some steamed asparagus.  I knew just the right amount of couscous to make just for myself.  A lean cuisine (chicken Alfredo was my favorite for this one) with steamed broccoli mixed together in a bowl.  A frozen turkey burger with low fat cottage cheese and lettuce.  Boom.  Quick gourmet meals for the weight conscious.  These are not so bad, and I still have these in my back pocket.  But this all isn’t really “cooking”.  It’s just kind of heating something up.

Now, I love to cook.  I really enjoy cooking for my wonderful boyfriend.  I love making special dishes for us to share together.  Culinary is an art form that you can practice every day.  And it doesn’t have to kill your wallet or your waistline to make it happen.  Interested?  Then listen up…

I have so many of them…but here are some of my favorite dishes that I make (and when I make them)…from SCRATCH!

Salmon Smarty Pants (Tuesdays) – That’s what I call it.  Fresh salmon with a little olive oil, lemon and dill.  Serve with roasted asparagus and couscous.  So simple.

Prosciutto Wrapped Cod (Friday-Monday) – my new favorite white fish.  I sear it in a little olive oil and fresh minced garlic and then bake it in the oven.  Last night I served it with whole wheat pasta and sautéed baby spinach with lemon and caper sauce.

Marinated Pork Tenderloin or Chicken (Monday, Wednesday, Sunday) – make enough of it so that you have leftovers for lunch for your salad tomorrow and the day after.  Remember – no pork intake of any kind at least 2 days before weigh in (WI).

Shrimp Scampi (Friday) – Take uncooked shrimp and throw it in a pan with some EVOO and garlic.  Only cook for two minutes TOPS and just make sure they are pink on both sides.  Set aside shrimps.  Add in light butter (2 tbsp), fat free (FF) chicken broth and a splash of wine.  Make sure you use enough garlic to take out a vampire lair.  Once this breaks down, add back shrimps.  Don’t overcook.

Mussels (Friday) – I usually will get 5+ pounds of mussels from my local fish market.  They are already cleaned and de-bearded.  Just throw them in a big pot with water to steam.  Add others if you want.

There are two essential mussel dishes that I make: mussels marinara and mussels in cream sauce.  Before you are all like “OMG!  I thought this was a weight loss blog!” – wait for it…

With both of these dishes, I take most the mussels out of the shell and incorporate them right in the sauce.  I leave a few intact on the shell for fun and presentation.  The marinara dish is simple – minced garlic in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).  Throw it in some sauce (homemade or store brand), add your own Italian spices to make it yours.

The cream sauce is a little trickier, but it’s not that complicated.  Strain the broth from the mussels and set aside.  Using a food processer, whip up 1 part broth and one part fat free creamer (told you).  Add this into your skillet which already contains the meat from the mussels, maybe 2 tablespoons of light real butter, garlic already cooked in EVOO and a splash of white wine.  Holy shit, this is so good.  However, it’s not very heavy and it’s a very reasonable “hit” to take when eating and trying to lose weight.

Crock Pot Concoctions (Sunday) – I don’t use my crock pot that often.  This is a shame, I really should more often.  The last things that I made were turkey chili and lightened up beef stroganoff.  I wish there were more that I could think of.  But honestly?  I just don’t have time in the morning to put all this crap together.  And, I feel a little safety concerned keeping something cooking unsupervised in my house all day.  It’s silly, I know.  But this is coming from someone who was raised by a family who told her not to leave the house with laundry un attended.  SOMETHING COULD GO WRONG.  A PIPE COULD BURST.  THERE COULD BE  A FIRE.  See?  Yeah, crockpot unsupervised not going to happen.

These dishes that I mentioned can be reasonable on the wallet and you can make them for one two or more.  Just remember – if you got more it’s always going to cost you more coin.  That’s one of the many reasons why I don’t have children.  Good god.

My other random tidbits for you:

  • If you came looking for vegan or vegetarian dishes, sorry.  You absolutely came to the wrong girl.  I love all animals very much.  But they are so tasty and good for you.
  • Whole wheat pasta is available at your warehouse club stores.  Looks for other good starches like QUINOA. Good way to pinch a penny is by buying in bulk.
  • Don’t forget the veggies…for all the love that is holy.  And make sure they are green for god’s sakes.  I strive for 2 cups of veggies on my plate at dinner time.

    Make EXTRA so you will have some leftover.  Set aside and throw them in your eggs in the morning.  You don’t eat eggs in the morning??  Why, I ought to…  It takes about 5 minutes.  Throw them in a container to take with you.  Scramble up one egg and some egg whites from a store brand carton.  So tasty, good for you and will keep you full.

  • Stick with fresh veggies.  Again, warehouse stores are great as is Aldi’s when you can hit them up at the right time.  I’m not going to give you the “eat in season!” lecture because that’s lame.  I hate squash.
  • I always prioritize my portion control: starches (1 cup max.  Period.), sauces, then meats.  Veggies?  Have at it as long as they are bare.
  • Coupons for whole foods (like fresh produce and meats) do not exist.  They just don’t, so stop looking for them.  Coupons that are in style this season are for baking, brothing, frozen veggies, canned soups and cold medicines.  Stock up like it’s the zombie apocalypse.
  • I always keep extras of everything on hand: onion soup mix, canned soup, canned veggies, salsa, condiments.  Just in case.
  • Rice crispy treats and brownies are my quick go-to desserts.  I use sugar free apple sauce in the brownies instead of oil and light butter when making the rice crispy treats.  Get rice crispies while they are on sale and combine with a coupon.  Marshmellows at Aldis or warehouse club.  Same goes for brownies and apple sauce.  Every penny/point counts.
  • I re-use some of my zip-lock baggies.
  • Get a good tupperware set for food storage.  Store your weight loss cabbage soup in a big container right up front so you can just dump some in a bowl and eat with the satisfaction that you are getting in your veggies and will be full.
  • Most simplest way to steam fresh broccoli:  cut of the florets from the crown.  Throw it in a microwave container with a cover (does not have to seal).  Add about 1/2 cup of water.  Nuke for 5 minutes.  Done.
  • When a recipe calls for wine, I use mostly FF chicken broth and a splash of wine.  Saves on the wallet and waistline.
  • Go to a local fish market or get your fish on sale.  Get some poundage of fish.  Save one pound for tonight to cook.  Freeze the other.  Fresh fish frozen is still WAAAAAY better than just those frozen packages.
  • If you want to make a whole mess of food and freeze it for meals later – wow that’s a great idea!  Do yourself a kindness and label/date the stuff.  That way you are not pulling something out a year later going “huh??”
  • Chinese takeout.  Always start out with soup and get steamed with the sauce on the side.  Fried rice or something starchy?  Measure it.

    So, what’s cooking tonight?  ::C

A Pictorial Tutorial!

Awesome idea for earrings! The possibilities are endless.

Fresh Baked Designs

(If you are looking for the Pearls, Pearls, Pearls Blog Hop, go HERE.)

I’ve been asked to get a tutorial up for these fun and colorful Boho-style earrings.

Simple and, hopefully, comprehensible !

So here goes…

With this advisory…be sure to count and recount the beads

on your wire to check your pattern BEFORE you finish

the  final wrapping!

A very painful lesson learned…

I like to mix matte colored seed beads with some shiny

or iridescent ones for visual contrast/interest.

The variations are endless!

Boho earrings

STEP ONE   Gather materials…

Step 1

Step 2

STEP TWO

step 4

STEP THREE

step 5

STEP FOUR

step 6

STEP FIVE

Step 7

Now grab your favorite summer maxi dress or jeans and a t-shirt

and go make yourself a pair…or two or three !

Or you can drop a comment on this post for a chance

to win a ready-made pair for yourself!

Giveaway closes on Tuesday, July 8th.

Winner’s choice of one of these pairs !

View original post 5 more words

A Creative List: Quality Time for Two

This list is inspired by my wonderful partner and lover.  Because of him, I am learning how to live my life to the fullest.  I don’t have to be rolling around in a bunch of money to know that deep down in my heart, I have everything.  I am…indeed…the richest girl in the world.  I love you, Peter.

Let’s face it.  Even the most vibrant and healthy of relationships can get into a rut.  Perhaps there are family issues going on.  Work can be off the chain.  You’re still trying to finish up that degree part time.  Or maybe “things” happen.

Whatever the case, it’s important to always take some time out for you and your partner.  Even if it’s just something small, it’s a chance to share a special moment and perhaps learn something new about each other.  By taking some time for just the two of you, new memories will be created and laughter will be shared.  Most importantly, you will remember why you two are so insanely in love in the first place.

Here’s a great list of different things you can do with your partner, all ranging from $0 – $$$$.  These are activities that could be done in just a few hours to an extended period of time.  Some of them are obvious, some not so much.  Because I am from the Upstate New York, I am going to give some examples in that area.  For those of us living in this area, are we not so VERY fortunate to have so much culture in our area?  I’ve lived here all my life and I still find this amazing and unbelievable.

1) Go to a concert

I don’t know why, but a lot of main stream concerts seem to getting more and more expensive.  Like off the chain expensive.  To offset the cost of this, you can always check out some local bands instead.  Of course, if you look hard enough, you can find outdoor concerts for free.

2) Go to a play

Again, tickets to a decent play can get pretty expensive.  Sometimes you can find a deal with some coupons or if you are part of an “inner circle” of sorts.  However, don’t knock the idea of community theatre.  Here are some local places to check out:

Proctors – http://www.proctors.org/
Capital Rep – http://www.capitalrep.org/
The Park Playhouse – http://www.parkplayhouse.com/

3) Go to a sporting event

I recently got tickets to a NFL football game for my boyfriend and myself to attend.  My friend sold them to me for a discounted price, but those ticket prices were still off the chain.  You can check out local, college and high school events to hit up a cheap, live sporting event.

4) Attend a Cooking Class together

5) Go to a museum

This should not be too hard to find, and reasonably affordable.  Here are some local ones in my area:

The State Museum –  and hit the observation deck in the Corning Tower
Albany Institute of History and Art

6) Take a dance class together

“I started Ballroom here for about a year ago. Its a weekly activity we do as a family every week. Something I strongly suggest for all couples who are looking for a great bonding experience.”bit a. – REVIEW FROM YELP about Lorraine Michael’s Dance Center.

There is a Salsa Club in the Albany area that includes lessons.

7) Visit the local game farm or zoo.  An aquarium is also a really exciting place to visit.

8) Play cards or a board game.  Write down what you want/need/desire from your partner if you win.

9) Go to the Planetarium

10) Build something with some Legos.  This was my boyfriend’s idea.

11) Take a fitness class together

If you don’t belong to a gym, you can usually get guest passes.  Try something fun, yet easy like a body sculpting class or water aerobics.

12) Check out some deals on Living Social

13) Park at the airport.

Bring a thermos of something hot to drink.  Snuggle under a blanket and enjoy the night and lights.  Bonus if you notice drama in the other cars around you.

14) Take a walking tour together

My boyfriend and I did a haunted walking tour in downtown Albany.  An interesting way to get a little activity while exploring the history in the area.  We would do it again in a second.

15) Go for a drive somewhere

You don’t even need a destination.  Make sure you have gas, AAA and a charged phone with service.  Pack a picnic basket with food and drink.  Now, just go.

16) Check out a Butterfly Conservatory

There is something very romantic and enchanting about being in a conservatory with a bunch of beautiful butterflies who pay no mind to humans being around.  Guys with beards, beware.  These winged beasts like to land on the beard.

Joseph L Popp, Jr. Conservatory
Magic Wings

17) “25 Things to do this weekend”

From time to time, our local Times Union will publish an article telling you about all the great things happening in the area for the weekend.  It would be helpful if they posted something up that said “things to do NEXT weekend” as well.

18) Visit a Winery

In Upstate New York, we are very fortunate to have many wineries.  There is some great wine in New York!

19) Check out a new restaurant

Don’t cheat.  For real this time – try a new place to eat that you both have not tried before.  Even better, try a totally different cuisine that you have never tried.  Bonus points if you find a coupon.

21) Better yet, take the dining experience to the next level

How about adding some flair to your dining experience and really make it something wonderful to remember.  Here are some suggestions (again, in the Upstate New York Area or beyond):

Dine in a real castle at Beardslee
The Melting Pot
Take a drive to Medieval Times.  Spend the night and make a weekend of it.
Hibachi!
Dinner and a Movie

22) A luxurious and sensual night in

I know, I know…this sounds SOOO typical.  But sometimes you have to spell out the obvious, so read on:

Get some takeout from your favorite place and dine in by candlelight.  Turn everything off: no TV, no smart phones, no tablets, no nothing.  What’s the matter??  Don’t have anything to talk about?  Play a game of “what’s your favorite???” or something similar.  Do some research on Google beforehand if you have to.  Don’t be ashamed.  I’ve done it…it’s even handy for those long car rides together.

After you are done eating and the minimal cleanup, trade some massages with each other.  Finish it off with a nice long shower or bubble bath together.  Dry each other off and hit the sheets.  This works excellent when you are getting out of the bathroom some moments before bed time.  A little mattress mambo is the best medicine for some solid sleep!

23) Build something together

My boyfriend and I built a little end table together.  We needed a little corner table that was  a little high, where we can throw our keys and stuff on when we walked in the door.  We got the materials.  He cut the wood and put it together.  I filled in the cracks, sanded it and painted it.  When I look at that piece of furniture, I feel such pride that we made this beautiful piece of furniture together.

24) Explore the wonders of your world

Take a day/weekend/extended weekend trip to explore what else is out there.  I can think of a few in New York State:

Niagara Falls
The Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes
Herkimer Diamond Mines
Adirondack Park (the biggest national park in the country)
New York City (the biggest city in the world)

25) Write a love letter

There is nothing more powerful than the written word.  Take a moment to express how you feel to your lover.  Any format works: chances are that your partner will be totally surprised and deeply moved by your notion of thoughtfulness.  If there is one thing that you can do today and right now to share with your lover how much they mean to you – express it to them in the form of the written word.  This way, they have a tangible piece of your heart that they can read and indulge in over and over again.

No matter what you have going on, it’s so important to remember to stop and savor life with your partner.  Sharing new experiences together is a wonderful way to keep your bond strong and your relationship fresh.  My partner and I are so important to each other.  I will do anything to make sure it stays that way.

Stay warm!  ::C