Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Craft Show Ideas

I am so excited!  I applied for my first craft show booth this past week.  It is for a popular Christmas show in a small town near home.  My mother is going to share the booth with me and my son wants to make a few things too!  I have very fond memories of my parents and their friends doing this same show when I was in elementary school.  It was so much fun to play in the park, eat the great food, and help with the customers.

Now, the work starts!  I registered my business name and received my Texas State Sales Tax license! Woohoo…I’m official!  I have also been working on my business cards.  I think this will be on the front (to match my blog header):CI Business cards 3Next, we have to get the inventory going.  I am still deciding what I really want to offer at the show…I keep coming up with ideas! It is so hard to narrow it down and just focus on a few things.  Anyone else have that problem when it comes to crafting/creating?

My parents and I brainstormed a little this past weekend about how we are going to display everything…rain or shine.  We came up with a few ideas, but I decided to do some more “research”…on Pinterest, of course!  I now have a board entitled “Craft Show Ideas”.  It is the start of a small collection of booth displays, cute set-ups, and show advice.
Have you ever done a craft show?  Do you have some great advice or tips to share?
Please share your ideas with us in the comments section! 

Happy Fall!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Make-Ahead Cooking?

Yes...I am showing you my freezer. 
How many of you have pinned some of those “cook once-eat for a month” or “freezer dinners” pins or Pinterest?  I know that I did and so did several of my friends; however, I don’t actually know anyone who has done it. Well, I decided to try it out this past April (see post and recipes here) on a small scale.  I only made meals that went from the freezer to the crockpot. (These were all raw meats and ingredients, so there was no taste-testing.)  The honest truth…it wasn’t that great. We LOVED the Salsa Verde Beef and still make that one, but the rest…eh.  All of the recipes tasted “okay”, but we only ate one twice and I ended-up throwing most of the food away. 

Why would I pin the idea again?  Well, I still like it and I think the concept is great…I just needed better recipes.  Also, I just changed to a Monday – Friday work week (after 6+ years of a 3 day work week) this month.  It is quite an adjustment.  While I love to cook, I do not like to spend my entire evening in the kitchen, esp. now that I am getting home at dinner time.  The “make-ahead” idea seemed like a great way to guarantee that I have a few go-to meals or entrees in the house with minimal effort.

After reading-up and checking out several “pins”, I opted to order a couple of cookbooks that got rave reviews:  “Don’t Panic: Dinner’s in the Freezer” and “Don’t Panic: More Dinner’s in the Freezer”.  I looked through them both when they arrived and found a lot of recipes that I want to make!  Bonus:  They are both only ~$8/each!So, I made a grocery list based on 7 recipes (6 from the cookbooks and the Salsa Verde Beef from above).  There are only two of us and I do not have a deep freezer, so this is really about all I can store.  I spent several hours (it would go faster if you recruit a helper!) prepping and cooking over two days this weekend, but I wound-up with 60 servings of food in my kitchen!

The two “Don’t Panic” cookbooks give lots of great tips, advice, and instructions for shopping, cooking, and storage,.  Everything was really easy…and the whole house smelled YUMMY all weekend!  Note: I did substitute a few things: chicken and turkey sausage and bacon for pork and fat-free dairy products for their full-fat counterparts.
I was sure to write the re-heating instructions on the packaging!
The filling for Chicken Cilantro Enchiladas! 

I intended to take great pictures, but I forgot…more than once.  My hands were either covered in something or I was busy stirring…oh, well, I think you get the idea.

The recipes I made were: North Woods Wild Rice Soup
Chicken Cilantro Enchiladas
Pork Chops a la Orange
Cranberry Chicken
Chicken, Sausage, & Shrimp Stew
Baked Penne with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
Salsa Verde Beef

We invited my parents over on Sunday evening for the stew.  It was wonderful (and perfect for one of our rare rainy days here in South Texas)!  I am really excited this time around because I know the food is good (I’ve tasted bits and pieces along the way) and it is going to make those busy evenings so much easier.  My son and I can still have a healthy, home-cooked dinner on the table and I don’t have to stress about the time or if I have the ingredients on hand for dinner-on-the-fly.

Pork Chops a la Orange..yummmmm.

If you have done this or are thinking about it, please comment below and tell me what you think!



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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Legos Everywhere: A Storage Solution

Do you have Legos everywhere?  I found a tiny piece next to my toaster this morning, a few in the laundry last week, and well,…..there are always Lego creations in various states somewhere in the house.  LegoStorage with Label
My son had three boxes to store his Legos: a Lego-brand box (a hand-me-down from his Uncle’s old Lego collection),  an Artist’s Tacklebox (a hand-me-down from me), and a set of small drawers (see pic below).  DSCN9197These work for small collections, but he has outgrown them.  T also likes to keep some things assembled for awhile to play with again, but I don’t like them laying around the house.  He was also complaining about not being able to find certain  pieces to complete his projects or that it took too much time to dig through his boxes to find the pieces.

Our Mission:  Build or buy an inexpensive storage piece that could house his Legos neatly and provide a space for display.

I started by cleaning, re-arranging, and re-organizing his room….finding a lot of Legos along the way!  I had pretty much decided that I was just going to buy a small bookshelf and a bunch of bins when inspiration hit….or maybe it was that I was too tired to think about another trip to Walmart.DSCN7576I purchased this weird piece of office furniture months ago at the Habitat Store.  It is an office system….laminate outer cabinet with a moveable plastic drawer system.  They were obviously used in an insurance office for forms (there were a few drawers with labels on them). They had two of them the day I stumbled on them, one large (that my mother purchased) and one small (mine).  As soon as I saw them, I knew they would be perfect for my mother’s paper storage (she is a CTMH consultant and paper crafter).  I let mine sit in my garage for awhile and finally put it in my craft room closet awhile ago to hold paper.  It works great for that but it was really wasted on my paltry paper supply.  But, re-purposed into a Lego storage unit…perfect!!DSCN7579Using a can of spray chalkboard paint (leftover from my Chalkboard-footed Wine Glasses), I spray-painted all of the drawfronts….two coats.  DSCN9200The next day, I rubbed all of them with chalk and wiped them off.  DSCN9202After organizing the Legos by color/styles, I put the Legos in the drawers and labeled each drawerfront with chalk.DSCN9208The only issue for using these drawers for Legos is the holes in the bottoms…but nothing a little duct tape can’t fix.
DSCN9205May not be fancy, but what does my 10 year-old care if there is a square of duct tape in there?

T loves his new storage and how easily he can find things.  I love that his Legos are picked-up.  And, we both like having an area where he can display a few creations too.DSCN9212
DSCN9213DSCN9209I don’t know if these systems are still available or how expensive they are to purchase new, but it may be something to be on the look-out for at your local thriftstore or used office furniture place.  You never know what you could re-purpose that piece to do in your home.DSCN7580
After attending LegoFest with my son last weekend, I realized that the sets only get bigger and more complex….and some people play with these things FOREVER!  We were quite impressed with some of the complex builds they had on display.  Hopefully, this cabinet will provide enough room to store my son's Legos for awhile.

Happy Re-purposing!

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blog Design & Labor Day Weekend

So, what exciting things do you have planned for this long weekend?

I spent most of the morning "playing" with my blog design.  I think I like the new header.  I designed it myself using a digital scrapbooking software....super easy way to do this BTW.  I figure we rearrange our furniture in our homes, so why not our blog backgrounds?!?  Quite a few blogs that I follow have been giving some great blogging design tips out and I am having fun experimenting with a few...nothing fancy yet but we'll see.

Tomorrow my son and I are headed to LegoFest!  We are so excited to see what is in store for us there.  It is a 10-year-old boy's dream-come-true to be in a convention center filled with Legos!

Hope you all have a very happy Labor Day Weekend!