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Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things...

It's official! Fall is really here now! This week I have realized I don't decorate enough for fall. I mean, I usually put out my fall decorations a week or so after Labor Day and they stay out until the day after Thanksgiving.

That is a loooooonnnnnnggggg time! And while I put up some decorations...

I have decided that when all things fall go on clearance I am going to get more for next year! I mean, if I am going to leave decorations up for a longer period of time than I do my Christmas decorations then I think they need to be a bit more substantial! Or maybe that's just my excuse to go hunt down some fabulous finds!

Last week was my birthday and I began celebrating a little early (okay...maybe a LOT early)! One of my favorite (and extremely altered) Pampered Chef recipes had been on my mind so I just had to make it along with a fabulous Strawberry Almond Spinach Salad that a friend of mine had shared with me several years back. They were so yummy I thought I would share them here! Seriously super easy and a quick meal for those busy fall days! Plus the variety you can do with this is endless! I'm thinking about trying a breakfast one for Christmas!

Chicken Gruyere Crescent Ring
2 cans crescent rolls (I think Pillsbury gives the best results)
2 regular size cans (or one large) white meat chicken (drained)
1 can Ro*Tel tomatoes (buy the diced ones) (drained)
1 can Cream of Chicken & Mushroom Soup
3/4 to 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Lightly spray a large round cake pan (I use the round Pampered Chef Stone Baker Pan but I don't see why any large round wouldn't just needs sides on it).  Unroll one can of crescent rolls and place the triangles around the edges of the pan forming a circle with the pointed sides hanging off of the edges onto the counter. Unroll the second can of rolls and place them in the exact same direction as the other ones but in-between each of the previous ones . The overlapping bottom edges make a donut shaped bottom to the dish (you know...with a hole in the middle as in the picture above).  Next, mix the remaining ingredients together and scoop into bottom of crescent ring. Finally, take each point of the crescent rolls and gently stretch them up and over the top of the filling tucking the point underneath the edge of the center of the bottom. Place in the oven and bake at 400 degrees until brown and bubbly. For me, that is 20 to 30 minutes!

That gives me just enough time to create this salad! Of course...with this recipe you can make all the changes you want for your own taste but this is my all time favorite salad!!

Strawberry Almond Spinach Salad
Baby Spinach
Sliced Almonds
Crumbled Feta Cheese
Sliced Strawberries
Low-fat Poppyseed Dressing
Mix together and enjoy! Yum!

Having a chef for a son is really nice on your birthday! These are what he blessed me with that morning! These Maple Nut Bars are the exact recipe found here but dipped in nuts after the icing is applied. WOW! They made the perfect breakfast! My husband also made a fabulous dessert table for the family but I will share those recipes another time...

Until next time...Blessings and Happy Harvesting!!!  
 <><  ><>

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Three F's...Fall, Family, and Food!

Yes, I know, Fall hasn't "officially" arrived but school is in full swing again, we've been blessed with cooler weather, the stores are all decked out in fall colors and I know the foliage in NW Arkansas will turn brilliant colors in the next few weeks. So...for me it's FALL!!!!
Inspiration Point, AR
This weekend we had the opportunity to go "harvesting" to some great places around Eureka Springs, Rogers, and Springdale. I have recently acquired a couple of vintage Starburst pattern glasses that my mom got from oatmeal when I was a child and now I am obsessed with finding more! Today I feel I hit it big and found these!!

While I know these aren't super valuable, I'm so excited to begin this collection. They just give me a great feeling of family heritage and childhood memories. I can't wait to find more!!!

Now that I'm in the spirit of Fall, I had an overwhelming desire to make something with apples, cinnamon and caramel! Inspired by a recipe I found on Pinterest (of course!) I made these yummy and super easy Caramel Apple Walnut Cinnamon Twist! They were A-MAZING...or so my husband proclaimed! So here is what I did...or some would call it my "recipe." I prefer to just call it a guide because you can make it your own very easily! :)

Caramel Apple Walnut Cinnamon Twist

1 can Pillsbury Caramel Rolls
1 medium apple (pick your favorite)
1/4 c finely chopped walnuts
1/2 c brown sugar
1/8 c water
1 T. brown sugar Karo syrup
Extra fine sugar (or regular would work also)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop apple into small pieces. Place chopped apple, walnuts, brown sugar, water, and Karo into small saucepan and cook until the mixture thickens (I probably cooked it 10 minutes at a pretty good boil) stirring almost constantly. When this is done set it aside and butter or spray a 12 cup muffin tin. Divide the apple/nut mixture evenly into the prepared muffin tin. Open the can of Pillsbury Caramel Rolls and set the caramel aside. Unroll each roll and pinch off about 2 1/2 inches or so from each roll to enable there to be 12 rolls instead of the eight given in the package. Take each unrolled piece and twist it like you would a bread stick and place it on top of the apple/nut mixture. Piece together two of the pinched off pieces to complete each of the last four muffin tins. Sprinkle cinnamon and extra fine sugar (just however much you would like...depends on your taste) over the dough and bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Let cool for 5 minutes and invert onto a large platter or do like I did and just use foil! :)  Divide the caramel icing among the 12 muffin twists. The warmth of the rolls will melt the icing! 

This was my variation...I am sure you will put your own twist on this and I really hope you will share with me when you do! 

Happy Harvesting!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's Been a Cupcake Kind of Week!

This week has been CRAZY! All my teacher friends can relate. New school year, new students, and, thanks to the new Common Core Standards, a new way of teaching high school Algebra 1. I don't know about you, but when life gets stressful I turn to cupcakes! I mean...who can resist that tiny piece of heavenly manna?!? After all, it's just 1/24th of a cake and a serving is actually TWO of them!!!

Around where I live there are two cupcake places I like to frequent. Savoy Tea Company and Bliss Cupcakes both have amazing cupcakes that I like to indulge in on my "off my normal diet" days. However, I love to make them myself and have a hard time staying out of them when I do! Solution? Well...I give them away! Quickly! Over the last two weeks I have made Caramel Apple Cupcakes twice and quickly shared them with my team at school and our very sweet next door neighbors to celebrate the new school year! I think they were a hit so I thought I'd share my version of the super simple "almost homemade" recipe! :)

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

I used one box of Duncan Hines Caramel Cake Mix

To the mix I added:
1 cup water
3 eggs
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 jar of Musselman's Chunky Applesauce

I mixed it with a whisk until the mixture was thoroughly mixed but I was careful not to break up the chunks of apples from the applesauce 'cause that's the best part! :)

I divided them into 24 cupcake liners, cooked them according to the package directions and let them cool.
After they were cool I mixed cinnamon into the store bought cream cheese frosting, frosted the cupcakes and drizzled them with Hershey's Caramel Topping and a sprinkling of walnuts. THAT"S IT!! Sooo easy!!!

So now I must get back to keeping my focus on teaching...I wonder if I can teach Algebra with cupcakes????

Come back soon to see what I am harvesting next!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Old is the New Must Have!

My newest hobby seems to be recycling. I have found a passion in finding old things at treasure stores (i.e. flea markets and junk stores) and transforming them into something I find beautiful. I have taken something really simple, such as an old window and painted a sort of family tree on it as seen here:

And…from the inspiration of pics like this from Pinterest

I have taken a very old screen door and transformed it into my pantry door. I thought I would post the step by step instructions in case you might like to do the same! It was such fun but I must say I couldn't have done it without some brainstorming with my son and my awesome husband who provided the grunt work! J 
In the red one you can see inside the pantry but since I didn’t want people to see inside my laundry room we came up with a shelf box that would appear to be a pantry but really just allow me to display some of my “treasures.” And  the bottom of my door was inspired by the white door.

I just absolutely LOVE the transformation! What do you think???

Here is how it was done...

The first step was to remove the old screen. It was rusty and in no condition to be in my kitchen. To do that we just carefully took the back off of the screen and took all the nails out that held the screen in place.  

Next I sanded off most of the old paint. I left some of it to give it an aged look. 

Then I painted it all brown (for depth of color) with some old paint I had lying around....

and finally I whitewashed it using a watered down version of the same paint we had used for the kitchen remodel. 
 I found some really cool trim board at my local Home Depot (on clearance!!!!) and attached it to the front top of the door with frame fasteners.
Then we added some new screen. 
To give the front of the door some interests, I added the little medallion piece that I found at Lowe’s.  
For the bottom of the door I painted boards with chalkboard paint, attached them and re-trimmed the bottom of the door so that it would look complete even from the backside!
 While I was working on the door my trusty sidekick (husband) was working on the “pantry” box. He basically created a bookshelf and I painted it with the same process I used for the door. 

After it was dry, he attached bead board we had left over from the kitchen remodel. 
 We attached the shelf/box to the screen door with a piano hinge. It stays closed with a couple of hasp closures.

 Finally I couldn't leave well enough alone so I decided I wanted to create a magnetic board for the back of the box so that I could put all of my collection of travel magnets on it. Let me tell you that coming up with a piece of metal to help me accomplish my vision was not easy but thanks to Pinterest (again) I found an oil drip pan at Wal-Mart fit my needs perfectly.
After cutting off the sides (with kitchen shears of all things) my husband nailed to to the box.
FINALLY, I Mod-Podged the entire back side with scrapbook paper, attached some lettering, and VOILA, the magnetic board was complete and so was my door!!!
Now I am working on finding just the right items for inside the display box. But that just gives me a great reason to go harvesting! I am thinking that this is that perfect weekend to go…

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cool stuff...

Today is a great day to be a teacher! One of my new favorite teacher stores is running a great sale! I scored some amazing new activities for my Algebra 1 classroom here. A lot of it was even FREE!!! Yes, you read that right! Let me know what you find too! :)

When I am searching that store I inevitably start chasing those little rabbits that lead me to other thing that lead me to other things that lead...well, you know...Today I ran across this from

Isn't that great?!? We all need to learn to keep this in mind! But I am definitely printing it out and hanging in my room. That website has many other great signs you can print out and hang up, too! Check it out!

Check back soon...I'm on my way to harvest more ideas to share!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cabinet Remodel

So instead of going on vacation this summer, I spent the summer being crafty. My number one goal was to remodel both of our bathroom's cabinets and, if that went well, I would redo the kitchen ones as well. After several weeks of sanding, priming, painting, glazing, and applying a final coat of polyacrylic, I am super duper excited about how they turned out! What do you think? 

Here I go...

Seriously...been thinking about doing this for a while! After being challenged by one of those motivational speakers from our latest round of teacher's inservice to begin blogging, I thought I would give this a shot. I am sure it will be riddled with errors but like I tell my students, "Mistakes are proof that you are trying." So here I go...