What I Designed Today: Custom Penzey’s Spice Jar Labels

My trip to Omaha over Spring Break was very fun — and very exhausting.  Now I’m back home in Bartlesville and there’s a zillion things I should be doing right now OTHER than making custom spice jar labels.  But I went to Penzey’s.  And I bought these cute jars with yummy spices (e.g., celery salt that actually smells like celery and salt).  It makes complete sense, right??  Right!  It just makes me feel better.  I’m attaching links to the file as a pdf and png, shown below, but if you’d like the original Illustrator CS5 file, just shoot me an email (the fonts used are Alex Brush and Zebrawood).  I hope it makes you “feel better” too.  Priorities, people.

PDF DOWNLOAD:  penzeysspicelabels

This pdf file is set up for HP Restickables (a sticker I highly recommend that is more like a post-it note that you can remove and reposition many times) – it’s from a really old stash and I don’t think anyone sells them anymore, but any basic sticker stock would do!  I manually cut out the labels.  Yes, I’m insane.  Who has time to do such a thing?  Certainly not me.  But I did cut them out, one by one, and it totally relaxed me.  The outline isn’t perfect but I’m seriously happy with them anyway.

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Recipe For Faux Oreo Filling

Tastes like Oreo filling!!!

I was making variations on fondue for an upcoming Christmas Eve 70s-themed party and one vanilla version I had altered was too thick. I left it out on the counter and when we got home from church, it had hardened a little into what tastes just like Oreo filling. Even my kids agree! So now I am dreaming of all the wonderful uses for this filling!

Faux Oreo Filling

12 oz vanilla flavored almond bark
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
1/8 tsp salt

Microwave in one minute intervals until smooth when whisked. Let cool then use as desired.

Cheap & Easy: Crock Pot Peanut Butter Granola

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This is one of my teenage son’s favorite recipes. I like it, too, because I can “clean out the pantry” and add things based on what I’m trying to use up: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, chocolate chips, cinnamon, etc., and adjust the recipe accordingly. If you’re like me, you don’t measure things and eyeball it anyway! Should you want raisins, I’ve never tried those but you could stir them in afterwards, although warming the raisins can’t hurt them. I love my slow cooker so much I’ve always had a little ceremony for them when finally break down. They are a definite workhorse in my kitchen. For large gatherings, I use both my slow cooker AND my 9.5 quart doufeu…easiest way I know of to feed a crowd.

CROCKPOT PEANUT BUTTER GRANOLA

1/3 cup coconut oil (I like Jarrow’s unrefined, organic, virgin from Amazon)
1 cup peanut butter, generous
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c ground flax seed
7 cups rolled old-fashioned oatmeal (NOT quick cooking)
honey to taste — usually 1/4 cup
3/4 c brown sugar

Allow oil and peanut butter to soften and stir to combine in the bottom of a large crock-pot. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine well and then stirring every 20 minutes or so until it’s as toasted as you like. I generally stir every half hour to an hour and leave the crockpot on low for four to six hours. You KNOW it’s a good recipe when your kids are a) willing to give up cold cereal for it and b) volunteer to stir it for you. It’s a hit at our house, anyway!

Something Delicious I Just Made Up: Hatch Pepper, Havarti & Cream Cheese Cheesesteak Sauce!

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This was a complete accident. I wanted to make the Homemade Chicken Cheesesteaks recipe from How Sweet It Is but I didn’t have the right ingredients. Sometimes, that’s a blessing. Here’s what I came up with and this is really, really yummy. I’m writing this now so I don’t forget what I did to create it! It was great on mesquite grilled chicken as well as with tortilla chips.

Hatch Pepper, Havarti & Cream Cheese Sauce

3 hatch peppers, roasted on the gas flame (or purchased roasted but in my tiny town, they’re not available that way), then sliced and seeded if you want – we didn’t bother
4 oz havarti cheese, sliced thinly
4 oz cream cheese, cubed or sliced as thin as you can
1 small to medium onion, sliced
6 T butter, approximate
1 T. balsamic vinegar
3/4 c. milk

In a cast iron pan, saute roasted peppers and onions in butter (about 2 T) until the onions are transparent and soft but not carmelized completely. Remove from flame and stir in about 1T balsamic vinegar. It will steam up so be careful — this smells heavenly (hello, fajita toppings!). Salt and pepper to taste. Remove peppers and onions and set aside for now.

Add more butter to the pan (I used 3 to 4 T). While the butter melts, whisk in about 3T flour and add about 3/4 cup milk slowly and keep whisking as it thickens (we used goat’s milk and it added a wonderful tang!). When mixture is smooth and thickened add havarti and cream cheese and whisk together. Return onions and peppers to pan and stir gently — salt and pepper to taste. At this point, I turned off the heat.

I took some out to hubs grilling the chicken and he said, “Man! That’s yummy!” Good sign. I think we’ll be eating this more often around here.

Addicted to Pinterest

It’s almost better than reading books and much more instantly gratifying:  Pinterest.  I love this site.  It’s the new method of flipping through magazines for ideas and putting them all in one place:  quotes, decor, motivation, design ideas, garden ideas, etc.  Now if I could only get OFF pinterest and start working on my own abode…I’m still planning, okay?! This is everything I love all mixed in one.

Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet Cakes

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I was making one but I wanted a backup. I had two backups. Gabe and I decorated THREE cakes and he liked them all so much he wanted to take them all, which was kind of embarrassing (I am a recovering overachiever), but I let him and it was fine. If you click on any of the pics, it will take you to our flickr account so you can see all of the photos. The ganache seeped into the hurry-up chocolate cake and it was divine. The sponge cake was also very good. I don’t think I can pick, myself! Which one is your favorite?

Growing Boys!

I have been swamped with work.  And church stuff.  But I couldn’t resist putting up this great picture of Gabe – he’s skinny as a toothpick but at this rate, that won’t last long.  He was dying to try the Mel Burger from Mega Mel’s Cafe in Tomball.  Great place!  If you finish a Mega Mel (which is even bigger than his) within 2 hours (and the Mega Mel costs $19.95 – 2 lbs of beef, 1 lb of bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc.) you get your name written on the wall.  Fun family night at a greasy spoon.

Yummy & Soft – Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

I made these cookies last year and found this old post. I am so thankful I found it because a) I loved the recipe and forgot where it was and b) I wanted to share it even without a good picture of the cookies!

I am NOT usually a cookie freak, since I just made a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies just last week, but I had some whole frozen cranberries to use up and my mother claims to not like chocolate (really, I met another person who doesn’t like chocolate this week – where are you people coming from?!). I wanted to make a cookie my Mom would like since they are coming over for dinner today {sigh: this year my mother is 1,000 miles away}. These are a great alternative to the popular pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. I like the tart cranberries in there! Give it a try – the recipe is from my tried-and-true vegetable and harvest cookbook called The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash. We have never had a bad recipe from the cookbook.

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 c. pureed cooked pumpkin
2 1/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup cranberries
1 T grated orange peel
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, egg, and pumpkin. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; beat into pumpkin mixture. Halve cranberries (I left ’em whole and they worked out fine!) and stir into mixture along with orange peel and nuts (again, left those out, more kid friendly). Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 375° F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes approximately 36 cookies. Again: I left out the orange peel and nuts and these were still very delicious!

The Aldi Queen – Recipes & Bargain Groceries

I was first introduced to Aldi’s by a good friend back home (thanks, Sheila!). I have yet to actually visit the store but I found this almost-as-good link The Aldi Queen. She’s got some great, budget-conscious recipes.

One Serving Chocolate Cake in 2 Minutes!

Eggland’s best published this one cup chocolate cake recipe in a magazine I was reading the other night. By the time we were done making individual cakes (because everybody wanted one), I could have made a whole cake. Having said that, though, this was really yummy and way more fun. Give it a try! It came right out of the mug! Chocolate cake in 2 minutes. Wow. You can click on the picture for the recipe.

Link Love & Giveaways for a Rainy Wednesday

It’s a wonderfully rainy day in Houston today and I have lots on my plate. Mainly getting my office straightened up – still – so I thought I’d just share with you some wonderful links including great ideas and giveaways. Hope you enjoy them! They’re from some of my favorite sites to visit when the need for inspiration strikes.

Grosgrain Fabulous always offers the most beautiful creations. Now she’s offering a poppy boutonniere, but even if you don’t win, there’s always the tutorial on how to make the beautiful things. Click on her link and be sure to check out the blue one attached to the pillow – gorgeous!

Dudecraft made a bookshelf from an old ladder – I don’t know how practical this would be with children shaking walls and all but it looks fantastic, doesn’t it? And oh so clever. I love repurposed things.

So I’ve been searching for what to put in my kids’ lunch boxes other than the usual fare and I ran across this idea from Bakerella (isn’t that site wonderful?!): pancake muffins. With chocolate chips. Sounds like something my kids would eat and it’s not quite as sinful as a full-on brownie for lunch. Sometimes you do whatever you can to get calories in a child or they would not eat at all.


If you have thousands of extra dollars, be sure to check out Get Back‘s website full of beautiful vintage chairs, tables, you-name-it. It’s a fun reminiscent kind of thing and the restoration of the items has been just lovely. It would be kind of nice to step back in time…but we probably wouldn’t appreciate it like we don’t appreciate our current design trends. Anyway – it is surely fun to look around the site!

The Long Thread has this adorable little house pouch. I just love this cute design.

Design Sponge has the cutest lunchbox creation. And it actually looks like something I could do! But I’m not sure if it’s something any of my B-O-Y-S would carry to school or use. Maybe if I made a camo lunch box out of other repurposed fabric. But I do love this notebook version.

Wool & Hoop make the cutest crewel-work kits. The only crewel thing about it (ha! I crack myself up!) is that I don’t do crewel work. But the work is just gorgeous, no?

Artist Jeni B. Gochnour makes adorable festive fall and Christmas holiday items, doesn’t she? What great faces these characters have!

Cathe Holden of Something I Just Made created these items from pictures of a cherished quilt. What a great way to remember the quilt in a more permanent fashion.

There. I think that’s enough browsing for today. Hope you enjoyed some of the links!

Small Things (and Food) Make Me Happy

Well, small things plus the image of FOOD (it’s all about the food here, unfortunately). I’m giving in to temptation. I am surfing. I just spotted these watermelon bowls on Decor8’s article about Samatha Robinson Porcelain and I am smitten. I don’t even have to own one. Just looking at the picture makes me happy. I think I need to go to the store for a giant Texas watermelon. All of a sudden it sure sounds good!

Two hours later (update): 4:22 p.m. Watermelon purchased and sitting gloriously on the counter waiting to be devoured. All is well.

Grogan’s Mill Farmers’ Market

I’ve been looking for farmers markets (or farms!) close to me that have raw cow’s milk (I see lots of raw goat milk) and grass fed beef. I’ve been having a bit of trouble finding just the right place. I have lots of links left to check out from the Weston A. Price Foundation but I did find that Grogan’s Mill in the Woodlands has a farmers’ market with organic veggies and grass fed beef starting in October through the beginning of December. I’ll have to check it out in a few months! If you know of a farm, please email me.

Farm Girl Barter Website

I do love this magazine out of Idaho…Mary Jane’s Farm. She has a new addition to her extensive website where people can barter for really great things! Check out Farm Girl Barter and you’re sure to find something you would like to have or use it to simplify and clear your own {precious} clutter!

Paula Deen’s Beef Macaroni Recipe

Don cooked dinner a few nights ago and used this recipe from Paula Deen. The kids ate it up! We actually saved money by using organic beef from Costco – we were able to use one pound instead of two (no shrinking with good beef!) – I highly recommend both the recipe and the meat.

1 teaspoon each dried basil, cumin, and dried oregano
Salt and pepper
3 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 lb lean ground beef
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 cup chopped onion
2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb box elbow macaroni
2-3 cup grated cheddar cheese

Cook the macaroni according to package directions; drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a skillet; add the peppers, onion, and garlic, and saute until soft. Add the ground beef and saute until browned. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and the basil, cumin, and oregano. In a large bowl, combine the macaroni and the beef mixture. Spread this mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with the cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

Cook’s Note: Ground turkey or chicken can be used in place of beef, if desired.

Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep time: 8 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy