Sunday, October 14, 2012

Long Time, No Blog! :-)

It's was a busy summer and an even busier Back to School / Fall than anticipated.  I'm sure Hilary will agree with me!

It's time to really get back to meal planning.  I have taken the opportunity to make some double batches of soups and chilis over the last few weeks and I am stocking my freezer like a squirrel preparing for winter. I sure hope that is not a sign of the winter we will be having on the East Coast!!!!

Anyway, I really wanted to get back into the swing of things with blogging and meal planning and some scrapbooking stuff. So, while I have your attention I thought I would share my plan for this week.  

Sunday - Buffalo Chicken Chili with Scoops Chips
Monday - Chicken Tamale Casserole with Black Beans
Tuesday - Hawaiian Chicken over Brown Rice
Wednesday - Bowties with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cream 
Thursday - Pumpkin Pancakes with Scrambled Eggs and Chicken & Apple Sausage Links
Friday - Tacos with all the fixins, previously made and stored in the freezer crockpot refried beans and Spanish rice
Saturday - Chicken Parmesan over Spaghetti with Garlic Knots
Sunday - Cheesy Rigatoni Bake

It looks like out meals this week are shaping up to be yummy ones!

Fall is a busy time of year and this fall is no exception.  In case you didn't know I have been working with a great bunch of ladies over at Inspired to Scrap on creating layouts for sketch classes that the owner Stacey offers several times a year.  

July was my first time on the Design Team and I am now the Design Team Coordinator.  I've been having a great time designing samples, creating challenges and we had an awesome online Fall Crop! 

I thought I would share some of my layouts from the previous sketch classes and challenges that I have done.  Hopefully, they will inspire you!

This is one of my favorites from the July 2012 Sketch Class.  I love that messy face!!!

Here is another one from July.  Who doesn't love to eat....I mean blow bubbles?

I also created a few challenges for the Fall Crop that was at the end of September.  Here is my layout from the Fast Formula Challenge.

And my layout for the Raid the Office Supply Cabinet challenge....

This layout I created for this month. It's my Round the Corner challenge.  The photos are from 2007.  I'm finally catching up.  Okay, sorta, maybe catching up!

There is a new class coming up in just a few weeks and it would be great if you could join us. There is always plenty of inspiration both during the classes and on the forums.  If you are interested in signing up for the November Sketch Class you can get more info here.  Tell Stacey I sent you! :-)

Hope you have a great week and I promise not to let too long go between blog posts again!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Meal Planning!!!

It's been a busy weekend here! Hilary and I spent 3 days in Lancaster County, PA sightseeing and attending the Creating Keepsakes Convention.  Hopefully, Hilary and I will be able to put together a blog post on our cropping and shopping adventures really soon! 

We had a great time but for me it's back to reality! LOL Since I had some time last week before heading out for the weekend I pre-planned and shopped as much as I could for this week.  That's the point of "meal planning", right?

So, for this week this is what I have planned:

Sunday - Enchilada Lasagna with Crockpot Refried Beans and Saffron Rice
Monday - Baked Mac and Cheese with Tomato Soup
Tuesday - Italian Crockpot Chicken over Rotini Pasta
Wednesday - Cheesy Rigatoni Bake with Ground Beef
Thursday - leftover night!
Friday - Zesty Crockpot Chicken with Ciabata Rolls and Mayoless Slaw
Saturday - dinner out! :-)

I've made the Enchilada Lasagna a bunch of times but was never happy with how the layers came together.  This time I think I finally perfected how to layer it so it comes out of the pan and doesn't run all over the plate.  The original recipe is from Taste of Home.  Here is my modified recipe! 

Enchilada Lasgana (adapted from Taste of Home)

1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14 ½ oz.) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce
1 teaspoon (to 2 teaspoons) ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cups (12 oz.) 4% cottage cheese
4 cups (16 oz.) shredded Mexican cheese blend, reserve 1 cup for topping
9 flour tortillas (8 inches), cut in half

In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in the tomatoes, enchilada sauce, cumin and cilantro.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine egg and cottage cheese; set aside.  Grease a 13x9 baking dish. Layer 6 tortilla halves on the bottom of the baking dish. Spread a third of the meat sauce over tortillas. Add 1 ½ cups of the cheese blend over the meat sauce. Layer with 6 more tortilla halves, the cottage cheese mixture, another 1/3 of the meat sauce and 1 ½ cups cheese blend.  Finish layering with the last 6 tortilla halves and remaining meat sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese blend.
Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly.  Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.  Yields 12 servings.

My family really enjoyed this dish.  The key to preventing it from running out all over your plate is really to let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting so don't skip that step!

Hope you have a great week! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

I had originally planned to make Frito pie on Monday and ribs on Wednesday, but I was so excited about this new rib recipe that I found, that I decided to make them last night. It was a little bit more work than your average crock pot recipe, but SOOOO worth it!!  The hubby raved about them and the little one couldn't get enough.  The big one wouldn't even try them, but that's a discussion for another post!  The thing that made them so good was you would never know they were cooked in the slow cooker!  They had a wonderful crispy "crust" from the caramelized rub and sauce.  They will 100% be made again in this house!!  So I had to share it with you.  I found this recipe on Pinterest.  It comes from the blog Mmm is for Mommy.

Easy Barbecued Ribs

3 tbsp paprika 
2 tbsp light brown sugar, lightly packed 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 
S&P to taste (about 1 tsp each is what I used)
3 lbs pork baby back ribs  - leave the membrane on the ribs to help hold them together
3 cup barbecue sauce 
Vegetable oil spray.  

In a small bowl, mix together paprika, brown sugar, cayenne and S&P.  Rub this mixture all over both sides of your ribs well.  Arrange ribs in the slow cooker by standing them up against the wall of the stoneware pot, thicker side down and meaty side against the pot.  Pour barbecue sauce over the ribs, cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low (I did 7 hours and they were perfect).  

Now comes the only stove/oven work involved, we need to reduce the sauce and then brown the ribs under the broiler.  These steps are what turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, so don't you dare skip them even if your ribs already look pretty good.  Once the initial slow cooking is done, very carefully remove the ribs to a baking pan which you have lined with foil and put a rack on, bone side up. 

Strain all of the remaining juices from the slow cooker through a mesh strainer into a small saucepan and skim any fat that has risen to the top.  Bring to boil and allow to simmer and reduce by about a third, approximately 15 minutes.  Put your oven's broiler on to heat up and make sure that there is an oven rack about 10 inches below the broiler element.  When the broiler is preheated, brush the ribs with sauce and broil for 3 or 4 minutes.  Take them out and very carefully flip them over, brush with sauce and broil again, meat side up, for approximately 7 minutes, taking them out once or twice to baste with more sauce.  Serve any remaining sauce on the side with the ribs. 

I can't say enough about how yummy these were served with steamed broccoli and smashed red potatoes!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday 7/8 - a million bags of chips!

My 6 year old became OBSESSED with the Nintendo Wii this past March.  This is his first real obsession.  He was never a paci/blankie/lovie baby and has never really been into any toys (despite having a room full of them) and never even really played with the kids electronic devices we had given him (like the Leapster) so I never imagined that introducing him to video games would end up having such an impact on my life.  Suddenly, he loved something SO much that I had a bargaining chip!  He knew he had to follow the rules or his beloved wii would get taken away from him.  Before, he cared so little about the consequences of actions because the punishment didn't mean enough to him.

Before I can go forward with this little tale you need a little background.  You see the wii was not actually purchased for my son but for my husband.  He has always been into video games - since the days of Pong.  He was thrilled about his son's obsession because now he had a video game play mate.

Several weeks ago we purchased the Game Skylanders for him.  Have you heard of it?  It's kind of similar to Pokemon in that there are a bunch of these creatures that have different powers and can evolve to have more powers as you move through the world of the game doing puzzles and quests. But what makes this game unique is the have a little figure for each of these creatures and the figures interact with the game itself by placing them on a portal.  So, in addition to the game itself, you need to track down all these various figures so you have enough power and abilities to finish the game.  And as with any collectible, some are mass market and easy to find, while others are rare and you could purchase them for $300 on ebay if you were so inclined (I am not!!).

Bottom line is that as much as my son is obsessed with playing the game is how obsessed my husband is with collecting all the figures.

The only saving grace is that my scrapbook nook is in the same den as the wii so we can all be up there pretending that we are having quality together time as the older boys play wii, I scrap, and the little one plays with whatever toy is striking his fancy at the moment.

So what does all this have to do with my meal plan, you ask?  This week Frito-Lay came out with a promotion where you purchased the large variety pack of 20 chip bags and you could send away for one of 4 exclusive Skylander figures.  Yesterday my husband came home from the market with 80 bags of chips!!!!!  Chips we really don't even eat!  Bags too big for me to feel comfortable even putting them in the kids lunch bags for camp.

I decided to find some creative ways to use the chips in our family dinners.  So this week's very unhealthy meal plan is brought to you by Frito-Lay (Ha!)

Monday we will be having Frito Pie.  This is apparently a southern dish that is similar to nacho's but with fritos. Tuesday will be kabobs on the grill. Wednesday I will be making baby back ribs n the crock pot with corn and smashed potatoes. Thursday will be potato chip encrusted chicken with a side dish to be named later (probably something off of Pinterest).  Friday will be baked ziti.

What's your meal plan this week, folks?


Friday, July 6, 2012

Love in a Scrapbook Page

A few days ago I posted a picture that I had taken with my iPhone.  You can see that post here - iPhone Photos.....To Scrap or Not to Scrap?

I used this photo as part of a scrapbook layout that I did for the Sketch Class that is currently going on over at Inspired to Scrap. I used that iPhone picture for Sketch #3 that was posted yesterday.

I promised to post the layout when the new sketch was posted for class and here it is!

Even though the quality of the picture is not the best, I am so glad I chose this photo to work with.  The journaling describes the "back story" of the picture. In case you can't read the journaling this is what it says:

"Some times a picture says it all.  Other times there is a bit of a story behind it. After several weeks of not seeing her brother, Jeremy, Hailey woke up on the morning of March 4, 2012 to find that her beloved brother had come home.  They held each other for what seemed like an eternity. It was almost as if Hailey was telling Jeremy to never leave again. They are brother and sister separated by 8 years but connected by love."
The story behind this picture is worth more to me than the quality of the picture itself.  Actually, now that it is on the page it doesn't look that bad to me.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Wow, it seems like the summer is flying by! How can it be time for 4th of July festivities already??? We are into our second week of camp here and have spent endless hours soaking in the pool.  I've fired up the grill more times that I can count and we've already run out of ice pops.  It's been a hot couple of days here on the east coast!

What have you been up to? 

I have also been working on a bunch of scrapbook layouts for a sketch class over at Inspired to Scrap. Today, the second sketch was posted and and one of my layouts is one the featured examples.  Here is my 3 month old Red, White and Blue Cutie! Okay, so she is two this year but I finally got those pictures scrapped!!! Yay!

It's not too late to join in on the sketch class if you are looking for some scrappy inspiration.  Check out Stacey's website at - hope to see you there!

Have a happy and a safe 4th of July!!!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Meal Planning!

Sunday is my typical day to plan out what my family is going to eat for the week.  I've been winging it a lot lately by just throwing some burgers, hot dogs or chicken on the grill.  Like I said in a previous post my meal plan for this summer is to keep the fridge and freezer stocked with plenty of stuff to grill and lots of fresh veggies on hand to whip up a salad or two each week.

This week is a challenge with the holiday smack dab in the middle of the week.  One of the three kids is in camp this week and we are in the middle of a heat wave baby!  I really don't feel like grilling but I don't feel like heating up my kitchen either.

Last night we decided to go out to dinner to avoid throwing food on the grill but tonight I must cook those burgers before they spoil. I prepped a yummy corn salad yesterday so that is ready to go for tonight.

Here is my plan for this week:

Sunday - Burgers and Hot Dogs with Baked Beans and Corn Salad (recipe below)
Monday - Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches in Crockpot with French Fries
Tuesday - Tamale Casserole with Cilantro Lime Rice
Wednesday - ???, maybe get some steaks to grill
Thursday - Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti
Friday - Breakfast for Dinner Nite! - Pancakes and Hashbrown Quiche with Turkey Sausage
Saturday - ???

And as promised, I am sharing another summer salad recipe! Here is the Corn Salad that I made. Doesn't it look yummy?

Confetti Corn Salad

6 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine corn, bell peppers and onion.  In a small bowl, mix vinegar, brown sugar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper together with whisk.  Pour vinaigrette over corn mixture and toss gently to mix well.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Hope you have a great week and happy meal planning!


Thursday, June 28, 2012


Every mother's worst nightmare!  Those little buggers that infest and are guaranteed to make me paranoid for the rest of my life.  Yes, I mean LICE!!!!  Let me give you a little background first.  About 14 months ago I had the ill conceived idea to cut my hair in a very short inverted bob.  Since then I have been growing it out, regretting that decision.  So after 14 months of not stepping into a hair salon, I decided that yesterday would finally be the day I do something I had been thinking about for years - give my extremely curly hair a brazilian blow out.  I was SO excited.  I spent three hours in the salon with various people primping and prodding me.  When I was all done, I had the long, silky, straight hair I had always dreamed of and was MUCH lighter in the wallet.

Within the hour I was sitting in the parking lot at my younger son's camp waiting for it to be dismissal time.  I was admiring my new hair in the mirror when I noticed some little whitish dots on my hairs.  It couldn't be lice, I mean I had spent all that time with people examining my head all morning.  Surely if I had lice SOMEONE would have noticed???!!!  I decided to have the camp director check my head for me.  I have known her for years and knew that as an educator, she must know what lice really looks like.  Sure enough, she said those dreadful words, "yep, it's lice."  I ran and got my son from his classroom and had her check his head - more lice!  And in an hour when the big kid got off his camp but, I knew I'd find lice there too.

Now, as much of a pain in the ass lice is - having to clean yourselves and all your belongings - I had an additional issue.  That pin straight hair I had spent so much time and money getting was not supposed to be wet for 48 hours!!!  I called the salon to let them know and the hairdressers response was not, "Oh, of course get treated and I will fix whatever damage you incur on the house.  I can't believe I didn't notice it when I spent 3 hours on your scalp!"  No, her response was, "Well you better not get it wet for two days!  Waiting with the lice isn't going to kill you."  ARE YOU KIDDING ME????  Of course I wasn't going to let it fester for two more days!!!

As far as treating the family, I took the easy way out.  I phoned a company called Hair Whisperers to come out and for $95/hr delouse us with a no return for 14 days guarantee.

So now I'm at home, almost 24 hrs later, still trying to put all our pillows, blankets, clothes, towels,and stuffed animals in the dryer to make sure I've killed those suckers.  Thankfully, my hair seems to have held up from the oils and the washing less than 12 hours after being straightened.  And, of course, I still feel itchy all over (even though I wasn't felling itchy before I knew I had the lice!).

I guess this is one of those parenting rights of passage.  I could have done without this one though!


Monday, June 25, 2012

iPhone Photos.....To Scrap or Not to Scrap?

The days of lugging around your camera are gone.  These days most pictures I snap are with my iPhone.  I will say though that the quality of the picture is definitely not the same as that of a regular point and shoot digital Apple people can fight me on that one, LOL! 

As a scrapbooker, I try to make sure I slip my small camera in my diaper bag or purse for those on to go moments.  However, there are those rare occasions when the first thing you grab is your phone.

So fellow you scrap those phone pics?   

I ran into this dilemma recently when I came across a photo in my Photo Stream that I had forgotten about. I really wanted to scrap this picture because of the meaning behind it.  Take a look for yourself.

There is a bit of a back story to this picture and I have decided that to me the sentiment of the photo is worth more than the quality of the picture. 

As a guest designer for the website Inspired to Scrap, I will be using this photo in one of my class examples for the July Sketch Class.  Since I can't share my layout until the actual sketch is released you will have to wait to see the layout and read the story.  I promise to post that as soon as I can!

So, how do you handle those phone photos?  Take a moment and post a comment letting us know how you deal or don't deal with them.  For me this one was a definite keeper!

And don't forget to join the sketch class over at Inspired to Scrap!  Class starts July 1st with a Pre-Class Sketch on June 28th!!!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday 6/24

After all the traveling by my husband and the family over the past couple weeks, I'm looking forward to a "normal" week!  This morning I checked pinterest, my coupons, and my recipe collection to decide what we will be dining on for the week.  

Today, my hubby, an excellent cook in his own right (I know, I'm lucky!) said that he wold make his chicken parm over pasta.  For tomorrow, I decided to try a new recipe I found on pinterest called Salsa Chicken and serve it over rice.  It is a slow cooker recipe, which is perfect for a hot summer day because I won't be heating up the house with the oven or the cooktop!

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts 
1 can cream of chicken soup 
1 cup salsa 
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup sour cream 
shredded cheddar, black beans and scallion, for serving (optional)

Put chicken, soup, and salsa in slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over everything. Cook on low for 6 hours. If shredding the chicken, pull the breasts out and shred; return back to slow cooker. Stir in sour cream and heat just until everything is combined.

As I said, I haven't made this recipe before but it gets good reviews so I'm hopeful!!  I'll let you know how it comes out in the comments of this post.  On Tuesday, the hubby will be out at a dinner meeting so it will be breakfast for dinner for me and the kids.  Wednesday will be slow cooker beef and broccoli, Thursday will be pizza night, and Friday will be burgers on the grill with corn and a caprese salad.

Happy eating everyone!  Let us know what's in your meal plan for the week!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

What Happens in Vegas...

Was a big disappointment!!!  Howdy, folks!  I just got back from 3 hot days in Las Vegas with the family.  We planned this trip surrounding me attending the Creating Keepsakes Convention. This is the first time Creating Keepsakes has held a convention in Las Vegas.  I figured with Nevada's relative proximity to Utah, the scrapbooking capitol of the United States, there would be scores of vendors and I would be so glad for my giant mommy car as I packed all my loot to take home.  Boy was I wrong!!!

There were so few vendors there, I couldn't even find things to buy!  On the top of my "To Purchase" list was an ATG Gun.

I figured finding this, being a favorite scrapbook adhesive, would not be a problem and I would be able to get it at a great price.  No one had it!!!

I also wanted to stock up on paper for the upcoming sketch class over at but there were only 4-5 booth's that had paper and the pickings were slim.  I had my photos all ready to match up to paper and I was only able to get paper for one layout - this adorable On the Go collection from Bo Bunny that will be perfect for my Touch-a-Truck pics.

The last on my list was some dorky, matching scrapbook t-shirts for Deborah and I to wear when we head to the convention in PA in July.  It was a no go on that one too.

So I'm keeping my finger's crossed that the PA convention is a better attended event.  In the meanwhile, I am off to my LSS this week to stock up on paper!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

BBQ Meatballs....Yum!

I have been in the mood for meatloaf for weeks.  Last night I was determined to finally make that meatloaf. Only problem was I was out of most of the key know the recipe you find on the back of the Lipton Onion Soup Mix box? Yeah, I was out of nearly everything including the soup mix!  No eggs, no bread crumbs, no soup mix.  I suppose I was lucky I had the ground beef in the freezer!

Then I remembered that I had watched the Pioneer Woman make these yummy looking BBQ meatballs for her church potluck with oats and milk.  No eggs or bread crumbs required! Yay!

For those of you that follow Ree aka The Pioneer Woman, you know that her food is not for the faint of heart.  I'm willing to bet she could have a "Butter Throwdown" with Paula Deen and it would be a tie!

While I did end up making some slight modifications to the recipe, here is Ree's original recipe:

Pioneer Woman's BBQ Meatballs
Serves 6

1 ½ pound Ground Beef
3/4 cups Oats
1 cup Milk
3 Tablespoons Very Finely Minced Onion
1 ½ teaspoon Salt
Plenty Of Ground Black Pepper, to taste

1 cup All-Purpose Flour (coating For Frozen Meatballs)
Canola Oil

1 cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
4 Tablespoons (to 6 Tablespoons) Onion
1 dash Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes. After 5 minutes, remove meatballs from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour. Brown meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish. Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or crusty French bread.

So of course I had to modify the recipe somehow to make it my own, right? Well, I didn't have an onion so I used that dried minced onion stuff in a jar.  Worked just fine.  And the step about rolling and freezing and dredging and frying? Yeah, I left that out too.  I just baked them in the oven with the sauce poured on top.  I figured that since I was already using 97% lean ground beef that what ever drippings there were wouldn't kill us.  I also had more like 1 3/4 pounds of ground beef so I just added oats and milk to make sure the consistency of the mixture was right.

Like Ree says in her original recipe these are more of a comfort food meatball not an Italian meatball so I chose to serve them over mashed potatoes.  Except I didn't make them from scratch or anything.....I used a box of potato granules!!!!! The horror!  

And in case any of you are wondering my kids actually prefer the potatoes from the box because they think I took the extra time to actually peel the potatoes and that must mean I love them a little extra that day.  :-)

It's been a while since I tried out a new meatball recipe and this one is definitely a keeper!  I might even double the sauce next time since we all seemed to wipe up the remaining sauce from our plates with our fake mashed potatoes! It was that good!  It didn't exactly cure my meatloaf craving but I'll work on that soon! LOL

Hope you enjoy this recipe too!


Monday, June 18, 2012

It's Summer Salad Time!

During the winter I am all about sticking to a meal plan and making sure that the meals I serve are carefully thought out and shopped for.  I plan and prep and it seems like some days are spent entirely in the kitchen or grocery store..

Once the warm weather hits I tend to throw caution to the wind and meal planning goes out the back door so to speak.  The days are longer and spent outside by the pool, so during the summer my fridge and freezer are stocked with burgers and hot dogs, steaks and boneless chicken breasts.  After being cooped up inside during the winter there is nothing better than throwing something on the grill and dining al fresco!

I have tons of "salads" in my repertoire from pasta to veggie to cold noodle to spinach....the list goes on and on.  And each summer there tends to be one salad that becomes our favorite and winds up in our weekly rotation.  

Last summer it was this Tangy Southwest Pasta Salad that I came up with.  My family loves anything with a Southwest or Mexican flair to it so I knew this one would be a hit.  I'm pretty sure I made this at least once a week last summer!

We actually had this last night when we grilled burgers and hot dogs for Father's Day. I also made a super yummy Cucumber Salad (I'll post that recipe later on) and between the 5 of us the bowl was pretty much half gone.  I'd say that's a winner in our house!

Here's the recipe:

Tangy Southwest Pasta Salad
Serves 10-12

1 lb. wheel shaped pasta, cooked and drained
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained (or 1 can works fine too!)
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 small jalapeño pepper with seeds removed, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar (I use the equivalent of a sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, corn, peppers and black beans. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour over pasta mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Doesn't this look yummy???

There you have it, a super easy southwest inspired pasta salad.  Hopefully, you will find time to work this recipe into your meal rotation.

It is important to note that when cutting the jalapeño pepper you should either wear gloves or wash your hands very well before touching your eyes.  Trust me on this burns!  Also, the heat of the pepper is in the seeds so be sure to remove them to avoid something super hot.

So, my meal plan for this summer is to keep the fridge and freezer stocked with plenty of stuff to grill and lots of fresh veggies on hand to whip up a salad or two each week.  Ah.....the lazy days of summer!!!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Normally, Sunday is my day to meal plan for the upcoming week and to go shopping for all the necessary ingredients.  Sunday is a good day to do your meal plan, because you can make your plan around the coupons you find in the Sunday paper!  This, however, is not a normal Sunday or a normal upcoming week.  The hubby is traveling for work through Wednesday and then on Thursday I leave for the Creating Keepsakes Convention in Las Vegas!!  (Look forward to live reports from there later this week!)  So the only real cooking I will be doing this week is on Wednesday.  

Until Wednesday, the kids and I will be mostly dining from my freezer stash (the importance of a freezer stash to be discussed in an upcoming post!)  To welcome my hubby home on Wednesday, I will make his current favorite meal - Mango Peach Shredded Beef Tacos!  This is an amazingly easy, slow cooker recipe that I came up with through trial and error.

Slow Cooker Mango Peach Shredded Beef (for tacos)
Serves 4-6

2-3 lb. tri tip roast (trimmed of most fat)
1 pkg. low sodium taco seasoning
2 (14 oz.) containers Mango Peach Salsa

Place trimmed roast in the slow cooker.  Season with package of taco seasoning.  Pour containers of salsa over the roast.  Cook on high for 6.5 hrs or on low for 10.5 hrs.  After cooking, shred the beef with two forks and pour sauce from the crock pot over the meat to serve.

I serve this beef with all the regular taco accompaniments - hard or soft taco shells, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream.  I use Santa Barbara brand mango peach salsa but if that is not available in your area, Target sells a mango peach salsa in their Market Pantry brand.  It can be found in the produce department refrigerator section.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as mine does! 


Friday, June 15, 2012

A Little Bit of Bling! (Or Maybe A Lot?)

After scrapping for boys for over 10 years I was excited to FINALLY scrap those girly pics! 

During the last sketch class at Inspired to Scrap there was a sketch that I knew I had the perfect photos for.  It used a combination of two large photos and a bunch of smaller ones.  

The photos in question were taken by a fellow scrapper at a dinner during a scrapbooking retreat in July of 2010.  Hailey, who was only 5 months old at the time, and I had stopped by to catch up with everyone.  I love the expressions that were captured in these photos and I don't think I have ever used so much bling on a layout EVER!  Can you ever have too much bling? 

Here is what I came up with for the sketch class:

I love how the colors of the paper and the flowers coordinate perfectly with Hailey's outfit! Some how I always manage to have just the right paper, LOL! And the bling just adds the right amount of sparkle to the layout to capture the light bouncing off her eyes in the photos.

See, you can never have too much bling!!!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Pinterest Obsession

I'll admit it, I'm a Pinterest addict!  I started pinning about 8 months ago because I am one who likes to jump on a craze.  In the beginning, I didn't really understand the appeal or how Pinterest was going to benefit my life in any way.  Fast forward to now and I don't know how I ever lived without it!  I pin all sorts of stuff, from gift and craft ideas to home decorating and books that interest me.  But where Pinterest has really changed my life is in the ares of scrapbooking and cooking!  I have gotten way more layout ideas and sketches then I ever had from my scrapbook magazine subscriptions and the recipe ides are practically endless!  And I'm not trying to brag, but I actually make the things I pin!

For example:
I was working on a "recipe" scrapbook layout challenge on the amazing web site  I immediately went to my pinterest board to find a layout design that fit the bill.  I came up with a layout that was pinned from the Creative Memories blog ( and I was able to adapt it to fit my needs and the supplies I had on hand.  I finally created this:

Scraplifting is ok folks!!  As long as you give credit where credit is due, you can scraplift those amazing layouts you see on Pinteret - no guilt required! 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Divine Pasta Dish!

Besides scrapbooking, one of my passions is cooking.  We recently underwent a huge kitchen   renovation and I wasn't able to even boil water for like 8 weeks!!! Now that I am cooking again I figured I would share one of my most favorite pasta dishes.  My family loves it too. This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman and her Penne a la Betsy ROCKS!  We actually call it Punk Ass Pasta in my house!

Here is the recipe:

Penne a la Betsy

1 lb. shrimp
¾ lb. penne pasta
3 tbsp. butter, divided
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1 (8 oz.) can plain tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
Fresh parsley
Fresh basil leaves
Salt & Pepper
Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, while water heats and pasta cooks, make the sauce. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes, until opaque. Remove to a plate to let cool. Heat 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally. While the onion and garlic are cooking, chop the shrimp into small, bite-sized pieces. Add the wine (or chicken broth) to the pan and allow to reduce for a few minutes. Chiffonade the basil leaves and set aside. Stir in tomato sauce. Add the heavy cream and stir well to combine. Add shrimp back to the skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley and basil and mix well.  Drain pasta and return to pot. Add the sauce to the pot and stir well to combine. Serve.
This is the most awesome pasta dish ever! I have made a few adjustments to the recipe like using crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce and using fat-free half & half instead of the heavy cream. I also use a full pound of penne for my family of 5 and there was still plenty of sauce. YUM!  Try this when you are in the mood for something divine!



First, A Proper Introduction

Who is the Deb in Hil 'n Deb?

Like many of you, I started scrapbooking after being invited to a Creative Memories home class and buying the whole kit and caboodle! I’ve been scrapping now for over 13 years, including some time as a Creative Memories consultant, and while my style has evolved my focus remains capturing the memories in the photos I take. Using my education in design, my goal is to create fun and innovative layouts.

In 2001, I traded in my master’s degree for a hooded sweatshirt and yoga pants and I am now a stay at home mom to three kids ages 13, 10 and 2. When not juggling carpools and planning PTO events, I like to spend time in the kitchen trying out new recipes and of course – scrapping!

I am a collector….okay, hoarder, of all things paper because you never know when you will need that one piece of paper to create the perfect layout. I love using sketches as an inspiration for my layouts and I am excited to be a Guest Designer for the months of June and July at Inspired to Scrap! 

Inspired to Scrap offers great sketch classes to help inspire you to get more pages done. Some of my creations will be featured during July's class. Check out the blog and join the forum at --- hope to see you there!!! 


And the Hil...

I'm another scrapper who started at a Creative Memories workshop.  A good friend of mine was a consultant and now, 13 years later, she no longer scraps but I am an addict!  I love looking back at my early albums and seeing how my style has changed.

In 2006 I was finally able to create those adorable baby layouts I coveted when I gave birth to the first of my two sons, ages 6 and 2.  Now I have the career I always wanted - stay at home mom!

My love of cooking has grown dramatically since being married because my husband opened my palate and I no longer have a diet consisting of macaroni and ketchup!  In the past year I have taken up meal planning.

I hope you'll find what we have to say fun and informative!