Saturday, March 17, 2012

Getting Crafty

I have never been known for my artistic or creative abilities. I am cursed with the ability to envision beautiful things, but unable to actually produce results. So, I decided that curse would no longer stop me from at least attempting a craft project. The end result? I'll let you decide!

I made this gorgeous wreath!!! My front door has been bare since Christmas, since I had given away most of my wreaths after they had been in storage for 2 years during graduate school. I was fed up! A true Southern belle always has a wreath on her door to welcome family and guests. I saw this particular wreath on Home Stores A2Z. I saw it first on Pinterest, of course. I chose the colors to match our orange and white University of Tennessee welcome mat. I know it looks a little fall-ish, but oh well. I love it!

So, here's what you'll need:

Yarn for base color
2 colors of ribbon, at least 9 ft. each
8-12 squares of felt 
Little doo-dads (optional and totally can be picked to go with any theme)
hot glue gun

First, wrap the base color of yarn around the wreath. Just wrap and wrap and wrap until you feel sick of the world and are thinking "Why did I pick this stupid craft project? I quit." That's about when you'll be finished. 

Second, wrap the other colors of ribbon around the wreath. I chose to do an "X" pattern with the orange and a simple wrap with the white (it had more texture and I didn't want it to be a focal point). I picked ribbon that was on sale - there are no strict guidelines here!

Next, make the felt flowers. Check out Home Stories A 2 Z's blog for a short 8-minute video on how to make the flowers. I was intimidated at first, but she explains it step-by-step for us crafting dummies. You'll simply cut a square of any size out of the felt; then cut a circle or oval shape (doesn't really matter); then cut a spiral out of the round shape. As you make the spiral, make it wider and wider. Once you have the spiral completely cut out, simply start to roll the fabric in on itself (little end to big end). Use the last little bit to secure the flower (this is where the hot glue gun comes in).

Make the flowers in varying sizes. To make the two-toned flowers, simply cut a tiny square, then cut it and roll it like normal. It will make a tiny little flower that will fit nicely down inside a larger flower. Glue in place. Once all your flowers are made (however many you like), simply hot glue them onto the wreath. Add the doo-dads and presto! You finished a craft that you can be proud to hang on your front door!

Total cost: $16 at Hobby Lobby. Labor Hours: Probably more than it would take a talented person (about 4.5)

Happy crafting!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

All thanks to Southern Living

My new favorite, go-to, easy recipe came out of the March 2012 Southern Living magazine. I noticed it right away because the picture had some of my favorite foods: chicken, rice, and lots and lots of veggies. So, I attempted making risotto for the first time and I'll never look back! This recipe takes some cooking time, but it is so, SO easy. I halved the recipe because I'm cooking for one. I had leftovers for 2 days, so this will work nicely for 2-3 people. Make it this weekend!

Here's what you'll need for half of the Chicken Risotto with Spring Vegetables:

2 C chicken broth
2 C water
fresh asparagus spears
1-2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 t. herbes de Provence (if you have it; I didn't and it still tasted great!)
1-2 T butter, divided
2 T. olive oil, divided
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash (or 2 zucchini, I just love the color of yellow squash)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 C uncooked Arborio rice (short-grain)
1/2 C dry white wine
1/2 C freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 C freshly grated fontina cheese ( on my second batch, I used only fontina cheese and it was delicious!)
salt & pepper to taste
fresh parsley to garnish


Bring chicken broth and water to a simmer in a pot. Prepare veggies.
Slice chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper or herbes de Provence.

Melt 1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat; add chicken, and saute for 5-6 minutes until done. Remove chicken; cover and keep warm.

Melt remaining butter in the dutch oven; add zucchini, squash, onion, and asparagus. Saute 3 minutes until tender. Remove vegetables; cover and keep warm.

Saute rice in remaining 1 T. hot oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium. Add wine and salt. Cook, stirring often until liquid is absorbed.

Add 1 cup broth/water mixture; cook, stirring often until liquid is absorbed. Repeat with broth/water mixture one cup at a time until it is all absorbed. (Total cook time may be 30 minutes)

Once risotto is ready, add in the cheeses, chicken, and vegetables. Stir until creamy. 

Serve immediately with a garnish of parsley and/or pepper. 

Happy eating!!!

Thankful Thursday

Wow, it's been a sort of challenging week to find things to be thankful for. I'm not sure why... no particular reason. I guess I've just been mired down in "real" life. So I was glad to take some time to be grateful. I've been enjoying some stress-free yoga sessions and morning quiet times. I think those have been my saving grace. I've watched how God has protected me, even cause joy, in the midst of some hard situations.

I'm also thankful for:

The hope of June/July and all its changes and adventures.

My friend Jenny who has helped me navigate the TriCare system.

New recipes.

Days at the beach.

Yoga workouts found on YouTube.

Mini Snickers bars from a co-worker.

My Coastie's voice when he calls me late a night.

Be thankful today! Spread the gratitude to others!