Monday, May 25, 2009

Ragamuffin Garland....Finally!

I am officially the worst contest winner...EVER. If you've been visiting my blog for the last year, you remember this. Last summer, (yes, as in the summer of 2008), I won the Nester's giveaway for a black & white fabric ragamuffin garland kit. It's been so long, I'm not even sure the Nester herself remembers. Way back then, I promised that I would post photos of the finished garland. And, I'm a girl that keeps my promises. Even if those promises are fulfilled late. Embarrassingly late.

Here is my very own ragamuffin garland in all its glory. The white and black fabric stash that the Nester pulled together for me, that also happened to have little pops of red, came together into a fabulous garland that works perfectly with my very red couch. It was meant to be.

I used jute twine as the base for my garland, with knotted loops on each end for hanging. It's true what the Nester says, ragamuffin garlands are easy to make. It's a fail-proof project that you just cannot mess up. Honest. And all the tying makes your fingers feel like they might fall off. But you get a fun finished project that is worth all the tying. Tie while you watch TV. Be prepared to vacuum the entire area in which you work. The couch, the rug, the table, the floor. The threads cannot be contained in the creation of the ragamuffin masterpiece.

The ragamuffin garland moved around as I tried to find just the right spot for her. She landed on the knobs of the sofa table that sits in our entry, just behind the red couch. She is the perfect camouflage for the shoe basket that lives under the sofa table and corrals our shoes when we come in the door. Since settling into her home a few months ago, the garland has gotten many compliments from visitors to our home, admiring her whimsical beauty.

I think ragamuffin garlands are the perfect accessory for a kid's room or nursery. Someday, I'll definitely be making one for my child's room...hopefully a very girly, pink one. For some inspiration, check out some of the crazy cute ones the Nester has made here.

Pull out your fabric stash or gather your scraps and make your very own ragamuffin garland. And go visit the Nester. Tell her I said hi. That is, if she's still speaking to me.

(This is my 100th post! In honor of this blogging milestone, I'm going to host a giveaway of my very own! Check back later this week to enter!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Food for Friday: Asian Chicken Pasta Salad

I first made this dish at a women's group cooking night with some friends from church. It's healthy, has a great Asian flavor and is a good dish for getting several servings of veggies. It's in the regular rotation at our house and the leftovers are even good as a cold pasta salad. (If you want a super quick dinner, chop the veggies in advance and it will take less than 20 minutes to prepare! You could even boil the noodles ahead of time.)

olive oil
4 person portion whole wheat angel hair pasta
2 cloves garlic
2-3 cups cubed chicken breast (2 large breasts)
2 tbls. sesame seeds
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use Kinkoman's low sodium soy sauce.)
2 tbls. sesame oil
2 cucumbers
2 carrots
3 green onions (optional)
a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts

Boil water and cook pasta according to instructions on box.

Peel and slice the cucumbers. Remove ends from the bean sprouts. Peel the carrots, then use the peeler to shred the carrots into pieces. Chop peanuts.

Spray pan with olive oil and sautee two cloves of minced garlic in the oil. (I use my garlic press to add the garlic to the pan.) Add the cubed chicken and 2 tbls. sesame seeds. Stir fry until chicken is browned and cooked through.

Add 2 tbls. sesame oil & 1/2 cup soy sauce to chicken and simmer.

Add the veggies and mix well. Let simmer so veggies can soak up the sauce and until they reach your desired tenderness.

Add the drained pasta noodles and mix well. Let simmer for a few additional minutes.

Top each serving with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fabric Coffee Cozy

I bookmarked this project several months ago, and recently pulled out my sewing machine to give it a try! I thought these re-usable fabric coffee cozies were a very cute (and green friendly) alternative to the brown cardboard ones that you receive at coffee shops. I just stick mine in my purse, so I have it on hand if I decide to stop in for coffee.

I followed this tutorial and the photos & descriptions are so helpful! The directions were fairly easy to follow, even for a beginner sewer.

I used fat quarters of fabric and could cut several patterns out of each. I chose two fabrics that complimented each other...a solid for the inside and a patterned fabric for the outside. I tried out several different combinations of fabric and loved the variety of patterns & colors!

I used Insul Bright as my insulation. (You can buy it by the yard like fabric at a fabric store. I purchased mine at JoAnn's.) It will keep both hot and cold in, so it's perfect for use on iced drinks as well as coffee.

I did run into one trouble spot with the tutorial and made a modification. I photographed just the steps that I changed. (I apologize for the poor photo quality. I tend to always be working on projects at night when it's dark and the lighting is poor!)

In making my first cozy, I had problems tucking the fabric in and over the Insul Bright layer, hiding it, in the step where I flipped it inside out and sewed the end closed. My solution of cutting the Insul Bright layer a bit shorter than the other two made that step much easier and allowed me to get a cleaner seam when I closed it up.

After pinning my three layers together, I cut one end of the layer of Insul Bright about 1 centimeter shorter than the 2 fabric layers. (See photo above.)

After it is flipped inside out, it will look like the photo above. This was the only step that I changed. Otherwise, the tutorial worked perfectly!

I liked the width of my coffee cozy to be a little wider, so after I used my initial pattern, I widened the pattern on the top and the bottom. It's easy to adapt your pattern and I would recommend sewing one complete cozy, then deciding if you would like to modify your pattern at all before cutting any more.

As a final step, I sprayed the finished cozy with Scotch Guard fabric spray to make it easy to clean. If I get any coffee drips, it will be easier to wipe them right off with a damp cloth with the layer of Scotch Guard protection.

I am really happy with how they turned out! I sent one as a surprise to a friend and she really liked it. I think they make fun little gifts!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy 2 Year Anniversary!

Yesterday was our 2nd anniversary and we had a day-long date to celebrate our first 2 years of marriage! It was so fun to have a day to enjoy each other's company, reflect on our last 2 years of life together as husband and wife, and celebrate all the sweet joys that we've been blessed with in each other.

For months now, we've been meaning to find this colorful Austin "postcard wall" near downtown. We started our morning off searching for the Greetings From Austin mural and I laughed so hard when Truman had to run back and forth across the street to hit the timer on the camera and join me in the photo. It was appropriate that we finally found it on our anniversary since the first two years of our marriage have been spent here in Austin. (If you're in Austin and want to visit, it's on the side of a building at the corner of 1st St. & Annie St. south of downtown.)

We then headed to nearby Flip Happy Crepes for brunch. This cute retro trailer prepares fresh made-to-order sweet & savory crepes and has been featured on the Food Network. Friends have been talking about Flip Happy for months and we decided to finally check it out yesterday morning. It was every bit as good as we'd heard!

Parked in an empty lot, the trailer is surrounded by brightly colored picnic tables and chairs tucked under shady trees. The hand written menu changes regularly and features gourmet ingredients in interesting flavor combinations. The hours are random, so check the blog for that day's hours before you head out. It's not an Austin secret any longer, but the local character adds to the charm. Our crepes were delicious!

After enjoying our crepes, we headed to an afternoon matinee of the Soloist. I took a much needed afternoon nap and we got ready and headed out to a early celebration dinner at Flemmings.

Truman and I both love a good steak dinner and Flemmings did not disappoint. The chipotle mac & cheese was a delicious complement to our steak and the service was outstanding. It was a special dinner and the chef even prepared a box of chocolate truffles for us to take home in honor of our anniversary. They were so decadent!

After dinner, we headed to the theater for Rent. We both love Broadway and have season tickets for this years series. It worked out that our tickets for Rent fell on our anniversary, and it was a fun way to end our evening!

Happy Anniversary Tru! There is no one else that I'd want beside me for this journey of life. I am so blessed by your love and you have brought such joy to my life! Thank you for your gentleness, your love for me and for the Lord, for making me laugh every single day, and for all the ways you serve me & care for me every single day. I am continually thankful that God gave you to me. I look forward to many more years of life & love with you!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Week of Endings...

We had an extra busy week last week! The weekend kicked off with the airing of our Home Made Simple episode. We had a full house with two groups of friends coming over for viewing parties and had a lot of fun laughing and watching together! Here are a few photos from Saturday...

We had to include our yellow Home Made Simple aprons that we wore throughout the show.

And with the airing of our episode, our Home Made Simple experience came to an end! I'm so thankful that I still have an organized craft room to enjoy! (A few of you missed the show and asked if would be re-airing. They usually repeat episodes during the re-run season, but as far as I know, it isn't scheduled to air again anytime soon. I'll let you know if I see it scheduled to re-run in the future!

This was also our last week of ministry for the school year, which meant a full schedule of meetings, evaluation and planning for the fall, our last staff social of the semester, meeting with students, and an end-of-the-year party to recognize the seniors in our ministry and send our students off for the summer!

Two of the girls in my bible study asked if I would bake the cake for our End of the Year Party. I decorated it to reflect the Hollywood theme of the Senior Recognition night and made my signature almond cream cheese icing for the rich chocolate cake. I was really happy with how fun it turned out!

I will be sad not to meet with these sweet girls to study the Word together every week! Three of them are graduating and off to their next adventures! Three of them are heading off on summer mission trips to East Asia. I am so excited to hear their stories of how God is at work in and through them this summer!

With the crazy schedule of last week, I didn't have many chances to post! My hubby was at a planning retreat for part of the week last week and he had the camera with him. Now that our busy end of the year schedule has come to a close, I have several projects I am excited to share with you!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Food For Friday: Royana's Bowtie Pasta

This a wonderful, light, summer pasta dish. Instead of a heavy cream or marina sauce, a light coating of olive oil provides a base for the other flavors to shine through. I love to make this dish for guests and prepared a big batch for an end-of-the-year celebration dinner I hosted on Monday for my small group girls. Add a salad and a loaf of crusty garlic bread and you have a delicious dinner!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. Bowtie Pasta
1/2 lb. Lean Bacon, chopped up into small pieces
3 Grilled Chicken Breasts
Chopped Garlic (to your liking...I use 3 large cloves)
Cayenne Pepper (to your liking...start with a little)
2 Avocados
Basil, fresh, chopped (approximately 6 tbsp.)
3-4 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Grill chicken or brown it on the stovetop. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

In a large saute pan, fry the bacon until crispy over medium heat. (I use a papertowel to absorb some of the bacon grease at this point, but you can use all of the bacon grease for flavor if you would like.) Add the onion, garlic & cayenne pepper and saute until the onion is browned and soft.

Add the basil and olive oil. The idea is to have enough olive oil to cover all the ingredients & pasta once they are put together, but not too much oil. You can always add more later if needed, so error on the side of not enough oil. I never measure, but add maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a cup?

Stir in the cooked pasta and mix to coat. Mix in the chicken and tomatoes and toss together. Throw in a generous handful of fresh parmesan and mix in, allowing the cheese to melt. Pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and mix in the chopped avocado. Enjoy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's Here!!!

It's here! It's been almost 4 months since the Home Made Simple crew invaded our home and spent 3 days working on projects around our house, teaching us a few new recipes in the kitchen, and blessing us with a one-of-a-kind experience. Now, it's finally time for our episode to air! Watch TLC at 12 Noon EST/11 CST (Saturday) to see us on Home Made Simple!

Here's a sneak peak at some of the projects that we'll be doing on the show:

We are having a bunch of friends over for a viewing party and to laugh together as we watch the show. I'll be back with more photos tomorrow!