Monday, March 29, 2010

Recipe of the Week...Spicy Chicken Pasta Casserole

Happy Monday!  This week's recipe is for a DELICIOUS and EASY casserole that can be prepared a couple of days ahead of time and then just popped into the oven for a fast and satisfying meal in about 30 minutes. (I sound kinda like Rachael Ray, eh?? HA!)  Several of my friends from work make this recipe regularly and their families love it as well!

Spicy Chicken Pasta Casserole


  • 1 package (approximately 7 ounces), pasta of your choice - penne, bowtie, shell, or spaghetti

  • 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken

  • 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded colby-jack cheese, divided

  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 can Rotel

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook pasta until al dente'. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine chicken, 1 cup of the cheese, soup, milk, Rotel, salt and pepper. Drain pasta and add to chicken mixture. Toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. Serve with a salad and hot rolls - delicious!

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Have a blessed day!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

CTMH Miracle Kit and Then Some...

Hi! Sorry that it's been a few days since I've was really nuts this week since my department is continuing to work from 2 separate locations because our building flooded on March 6th. My office still isn't ready to move back into, so I'm still working out of boxes from a cubicle at the back of the building. (For an organizational/neat freak such as myself, this has been stressful to say the least - ha!) It's projected that the furniture will be moved back into my office sometime tomorrow, so then I can move all of my files and stuff back - YIPPEE! It will be so nice to be working in my own office's just the little things that make me so happy!!

My CTMH consultant "Miracle Kit", arrived last week so I've been working on the projects this weekend so that I could share with you what I made. The "Miracle Kit" is the limited time special available from April 15th - May 31st and I must say that I LOVE THIS KIT!!  (Pricing details will be posted on my blog later, but it's a REAL BARGAIN!!)  The kit is designed for you to make two 12" 2-page layouts, but there was enough stuff left over that I was able to make an additional 2-page layout as well as 4 cards and a bookmark!  The pictures below show the scrapbook pages first, then the cards, then a tutorial on how I created the cards!  LOTS of info for you in this post!!

Two page spread of the first layout:

Close up view of the left page:

Close up view of the right page with flip-flaps closed:

Close up view of the right page with the flip-flaps open:

Two page spread of the second layout:

Close up view of the left hand page:

Close up view of the right hand page with flip-flaps closed:

Close up view of the left hand page with flip-flaps open:

Now, here is a photo of the two page spread that I created with some of the left-over supplies:

Here's a close up view of the left hand page:

NOTE: The green, square "jumbo button" is actually made from the negative from one of the Irrestibles Frames. I just inked it; cut one of the circle stickers from the kit into quarters and adhered a quarter of the sticker to each corner. I then punched two holes in the center with my Cropadile and ran a scrap piece of ribbon through the holes and tied in a knot.  Viola! A super cute page embellishment from something that most folks would have thrown away!

And here's a close up view of the right hand page:

NOTE: The blue/tan sticker strips at the bottom of the page topper are actually "sticker negatives" cut from the long end of the sticker sheet...once again using something that most folks would have thrown away!

And finally, here are closeup views of the cards that I created with the rest of the left-overs:

Card one:

NOTE: The letter "B" was stamped using the alphabet stamp set from the CTMH Felicity stamp set. The blue rectangle was one of the sticker negatives from the Miracle Kit that I adhered to a scrap piece of Bamboo cardstock to create this ebellishment.  Trash to treasure!

Cards 2 and 3:

NOTE: The butterflies are created using more "sticker trash" from the negatives again. The butterfly bodies are created with waxy flax.  The "Thank You" sentiment has been stamped on a scrap piece of Colonial White cardstock that has been outlined with, yep, you guessed it, another trash-to-treasure sticker negative! (You'll find an instructional tutorial below on how to create the butterflies!)

Mini card and bookmark:

NOTE: The flowers are created with the sticker flower negatives. The center of the flower on the mini card is created using the square embellishment from the second Irrestable Frame negative, inked in green. The vines are from the Felicity stamp set.

Here is a tutorial on how to create the "Trash to Treasure" cards shown above:

Begin by sponging ink on a standard white card base:

Now, on a scrap piece of cardstock, sponge color of your choice on it...this is what you will adhere your butterfly or flower sticker negative to to form the base:

Cut out the sticker negative and adhere to scrap of sponged cardstock:

Cut around the outer edge of the butterfly.  (Same technique used for flowers!) NOTE: I leave a slight outside border when cutting out images.

Cut a piece of Waxy Flax, approximately 7 inches long. Tie around the center of the butterfly, creating a knot where the head should be:

If needed, slightly trim the ends of the antenae and curl using a pencil or the wooden handle of a paper piercing tool:

Your finished butterfly should look something like this:

Using 3D dimensional dots, adhere the butterfly (or flowers!) to the sponged card.  Add any other embellishments that you like such as sentiments, ribbon, brads, etc.  EASY PEASY!!

Have a blessed day!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Recipe of the Week...Homemade Applebutter - YUMMMM!!!

I LOVE to cook, so I've decided to add a "Recipe of the Week" feature to my blog for those of you out there who enjoy cooking as well!  This week's recipe is for homemade applebutter, and it's DELICIOUS!!  My good friend, Robbie Rader, taught me how to make it many years ago, and I make several batches a year for my family and to share with others! It's very easy to do, and the jars can be decorated cute for gift giving.  These are GREAT to have on hand around the holidays for a last minute gift! Above is a photo of the batch that I made over the weekend.   Another perk to making applebutter is that your home will smell soooo good while it's baking!! Here's how it's done:


  • 4 - 16 oz. cans of applesauce

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar

  • 4 cups white granulated sugar

  • 4 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

  • 4 ounces "red hots" candies

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients together in a large, oven-proof pot. Cook in a 300 degree oven for about 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. (DO NOT COVER POT!) Remove pan from oven and quickly ladle applebutter into sterilized jars to within 1/8 inch of the tops. Wipe rims with a damp cloth and quickly cover with sterilized lids and rings. Invert jars for 5 minutes, then turn upright again. (I use the inversion processing method in lieu of the boiling water bath method). Jars are sealed when lid centers don't pop up when touched.  

Approximately 10 half pint (jelly) jars. 

Enjoy on toast, english muffins, etc.  Also delicious drizzled as a topping over vanilla bean ice cream!!

Have a blessed day!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mother Nature's Not-So-Great Sense of Humor on the First Day of Spring...

Here are some photos that I took around my house/yard yesterday, March 19th:

View of the lovely garden flag in my front flower bed welcoming spring....

View of my front door, with a lovely spring wreath.....

View of one of the many lovely yellow, (my favorite color!), pansies that I planted around my yard....

And here are some photos that I took today, the first day of spring, March 20th:

View into my backyard....

View across the street at my neighbor's houses....

Here in Oklahoma, the weathermen are predicting 10" - 12" of snow today and I'm dreaming of a tropical island somewhere!!!  On the bright side, (being the glass-half-full kinda gal that I am!), I can take advantage of a stay-inside day to bake some homemade bread and work on some crafting projects to post later!! Have a blessed day!


Friday, March 19, 2010

"A Tweet" Easter Card Tutorial

It's hard to believe that Easter is only a couple of weeks away!  Here's a card that I created to celebrate this special holiday, as well as the "how to" instructions so you can make some too!

CTMH supplies used:
  • Buttercup cardstock
  • Colonial White cardstock
  • Topstitch blue dot B&T paper
  • Chocolate grosgrain ribbon
  • "A Tweet" stamp set
  • Chocolate distressing ink
  • Ink colors: Crystal Blue, Blush, Hollyhock, Desert Sand, Garden Green, Sunshine
  • Antique Copper Bitty Brad
  • 3D dimensional dots
  • Glue Dots
  • Blending Pen
Begin by cutting a piece of Buttercup cardstock 5 1/2" x 4" and a piece of the blue dot Topstitch B&T 5" x 3 1/2". Ink the edges of these to give a distressed look and adhere blue dot paper to the Buttercup cardstock, centering.  Using Glue Dots, adhere a 3" piece of chocolate grosgrain ribbon diagonally to each corner of the Buttercup cardstock.  Adhere the Buttercup/blue dot mat to a 5 1/2" x 4" card base.

Stamp bird from "A Tweet" stamp set onto Colonial White cardstock using Crystal Blue ink. Using "Rock & Roll" technique, (rolling the outer perimeter of the bird stamp on the Desert Sand ink pad), align with the Crystal Blue stamped bird image, and stamp so that only the edges are highlighted with the Desert Sand ink color.

Cut the bird out and using a paper piercing tool, poke a hole where the eye should be, insert an antique copper bitty brad for the eye and set aside. Stamp and cut out 3 of the branch images, adhere to card front criss-crossing the branches. 

Stamp 3 large flowers with Blush ink, and using the "Rock & Roll" technique again, apply Hollyhock ink to the outer edges of the flowers. Using a blending pen, color the centers of the flowers with Sunshine ink.

Cut the flowers out and adhere to the branches using 3D dimensional dots. Place a large 3D dimensional dot on the back of the bird. Adhere the bird above the branches, tucking the legs of the bird into the branches. Tie loose knots into two small pieces of chocolate grosgrain ribbon and adhere to corners using a glue dot.

Attach the "Treasure Life" stamp sentiment to an acrylic block, curving the sentiment as shown. Ink with Desert Sand and stamp onto Colonial White cardstock.

Cut around the sentiment, trimming the ends to look like the ends of ribbon, and distress the edges with chocolate distressing ink.

Crinkle up the sentiment and using 3D dimensional dots adhere to the upper left hand corner of the card as shown.  I used the March Stamp of the Month to stamp "Have a Happy Easter" on the inside of the card.

Have a blessed day!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Using Hand-made Cards as Scrapbook Page Embellishments...

Believe it or not, I used to not be a card maker at all!  I was strictly a scrapbooker and had no interest in making cards...then I discovered Close to My Heart and all of that changed! Since becoming a CTMH consultant what I've tried to keep in mind is that there are a lot of people out there who are just like I used to be...not into making cards and strictly scrapbookers.  At one of the very first open houses that I hosted I showed customers how to make a mini card and then use it as a scrapbook page element:

This is a really fun, simple way to show people how to "think outside of the box" when it comes to cardmaking and scrapbooking!  Have a blessed day!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Most Amazing Martin House & Father-in-Law....EVER!!!

Good morning!  Today's post is to show off my incredible new martin house, which was built by my terrific father-in-law, Logan! (Logan is shown in the bottom picture).  Last year the neighbors who live a few houses down from us put up a martin house, and we enjoyed watching the martins flying all last summer. We also enjoyed the fact that we hardly had any mosquitos at all! So, I decided that it would be nice to have a martin house as well!  I enjoy watching the birds, which is why we keep feeders and a bird bath in our back yard, so a martin house would fit nicely into the scene.  I googled "martin house plans", found a really nice plan online for FREE!!  My father-in-law, who is retired, does wood-working, so I asked him if he was interested in building a martin house and he agreed to take on the project if I baked him some pies!  (How can a girl pass up a deal like that???)  Anyway, the martin house is FABULOUS and really, really, big!  It has 8 divided house compartments, a little porch with railings, etc.  We picked up the martin house from him a couple of weeks ago and my hubby, Mike, started figuring out what kind of post to attach it to.  He decided to go with a 16' long treated lumber post, which has
2' buried into the ground in a PVC pipe & then lag-bolted to one
of the main posts of our privacy fence for some extra stability. You
should have seen the two of us trying to raise this VERY HEAVY contraption in the air and get the end of the post down into the pipe that was buried - good heavens!  Well, we did make it happen and now the martin house is sitting pretty 14' in the air in a corner of our back yard!  We'll have to come up with an easier way to do this next year, after he takes it down to clean out the nests...maybe bribe some of our son's buddies with barbequed meat so they'll can come help with this task so that I don't get squashed??  Now I just need to bake Logan some pies...

Have a blessed day!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tutorial for "Bee Yourself" Pocket Notebook & Bookmark

Here are the instructions to complete a cute & easy pocket notebook & a bookmark using the following CTMH products:

  • Garden Green, Creme' Brulee' & Colonial White Cardstock
  • Veranda Bulk & Creative Basics Papers
  • Spring 2010 Petite Perks Stamp Set
  • Creme' Brulee' Stitched Grosgrain Ribbon
  • Chocolate Ink Pad & Marker
  • Sunflower Ink Pad
  • Blending Pen
  • Scoring Tool/Stylus

Other non CTMH products used:

  • 1 7/8" Scallop Punch by The Paper Studio
  • 1 1/4" Circle Punch by Family Treasures
  • Jute
  • 8" x 5" Yellow Notepad
  • Foam 3D dots
  • Terrifically Tacky Tape
  • Personal Paper Trimmer

Score an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of cardstock at 5 1/4" and 5 3/4", (on the long side), to form the base of your notebook. Fold on score lines.

Cut a piece of B&T paper at 4 3/4" x 8" and adhere to cover of notebook.

Cut a piece of cardstock 3 1/2" x 5 1/4" to create pocket.  Adhere a strip of 1/2 wide x 5 1/4" long B&T paper to one of the 5 1/4" sides of the cardstock. Place adhesive on the back of both sides and the bottom of cardstock and adhere to the inside cover of the notebook to form pocket. (Be sure not to ahere the top of the pocket, or you won't have a pocket - ha!)

If desired, stamp image on the top of each page of the yellow notepad and then adhere notepad to the right side of the notebook. (I used Terrifically Tacky Tape to get a good bond!)

Stamp image with Chocolate ink, (I used the large bee from the Petite Perks set, coloring in the body with a blending pen and Sunflower ink), cut out image, and adhere image to 1 1/4" circle punched from Colonial White cardstock. Layer the punched circle on a 1 7/8" scallop punched from Creme' Brulee' cardstock. (Note: I used 3D foam dots between each layer to add dimension). If desired, draw "flying dashes" with a chocolate marker to simulate the bee's flight pattern.

Wrap a piece of 22" piece of jute, which has been knotted on each end around the center of the notebook. Place a 3D foam dot on the upper and lower part of the scallop and adhere to the front of the notebook, centering the jute between the foam dots to hold jute in place, yet still allowing room to shift so it can be tied to close the notebook.

Now for the bookmark instructions...

Cut a piece of Colonial White cardstock 2 1/2" x 6" and taper the top edges. Cut a piece of B&T paper to the same dimensions and adhere to cardstock. Add a 1/2" x 2 1/2" trim strip of B&T paper to the bookmark, placing it approximately 2 1/4" from the top of the bookmark. Stamp a large bee, a small bee, and "Bee Yourself" sentiment with chocolate ink, color in bodies of bees with Sunflower ink & a blending pen, cut out and ahere to trim strip of bookmark. (Note: I used 3D foam dots on these as well for a little dimension). Punch a hole, centered, about 1/2" from the top of the bookmark. Run a 5" piece of Creme' Brulee' stitched grosgrain ribbon through the hole, and then tie a piece of 3" jute, which has been knotted on each end, around the grosgrain ribbon to hold it in place.

Trim the ends of the grosgrain ribbon and place the bookmark into the pocket of the notebook.

The notebook/notepad would be great for grocery could place your coupons in the little pocket before heading out to the grocery store! I hope this tutorial was helpful and easy to understand and I welcome any comments you may have! Enjoy and have a blessed day!