Etching Glass is Easier Than You Think

I’m always glad when something I am a little hesitant to try comes out better than I thought it would.  I love working with glass, but usually it involves breaking it or melting it.  I have wanted to try etching it, but that demands chemicals and that always intimidates me.  Especially if the warning on the container says something like “caution it will burn your skin off!”  So, while I was intrigued by the idea of etching glass, I had put off trying it.  However, I recently ran across directions again and thought, “Why not?”  Besides, I just happened to have some glass etching cream that I bought awhile back because it was on sale and because I must have been feeling brave that day.

I have been mulling over what sort of project to do.  I really thought it would be fun to make storage jars for things like coffee and tea for the kitchen, but I don’t have some nice large glass jars saved so that was out.  I did have a few smaller glass jars, and Valentine’s Day is coming up, so I thought, maybe a Valentine’s project.  That would be easy.  My Cricut has heart shapes, so it was easy to cut out the shapes on sticky vinyl so I didn’t have to cut them by hand.  You certainly CAN, or you could buy them precut, but I have to justify having a Cricut.

Anyway, that is why I did this  Etched Valentine’s Day Treat Jar.

Chili and Chocolate in Harmony

I think I’ve established that I like chili and chocolate.  Chili and chocolate together would be some sort of cosmic perfection.  And it is.  I have had it in several different incarnations, but the other evening we needed a dessert to take to dinner at a friend’s home.  I needed something easy to transport that didn’t have wheat (for me) and I wanted something I could blog about.

I searched the internet and found an interesting sounding recipe called Hot Chocolate Meringue Cake.  I had most of the ingredients, and it really doesn’t take that many different things.  We did have to buy extra whipping cream, and I was out of cayenne pepper ( a fluke!) but it was mostly things I usually have on hand.  Yes, I do usually have whipping cream in my fridge, don’t you?

It turned out pretty well, however, it wasn’t very easy to serve.  Fortunately these are really good friends, and we all just laughed.  It was so delicious that no one seemed to care anyway.  But, I thought, this would be easy to change a little and make it into individual servings instead of the large (and granted beautifully impressive) but difficult to serve cake.

So, go to Cook It and check out my version of Individual Hot Chocolate Meringue Kisses.

A Memory Keeper for Visitors

Since we live near the beach, when people come to visit they usually have a few seashells they have collected when they leave.  I searched for inexpensive  snow globes to have on hand to give them to put their treasures in, to remember their  visit, but the ones I found were pretty pricey and large, and were just not what I wanted.  At first I went with vases, to fill with shells, but that wasn’t really what I wanted either, so I needed to come up with something else.

This is easy, and for the most part you can make it with things you might have around the house, especially if you do crafts.  The lid is the most time consuming or difficult part, and you could just buy a cork stopper (you can find them in a craft store in various sizes, although you might have to trim it a bit to fit).  If you do that, save the screw on lid to transport this, so your guest doesn’t get sand and shells all over everything, or put the insides in a ziplock and have them assemble it once they get home.  Also, I cannot say if this can go through airport screening. Who knows these days?

But, they are a cute way to remember a day at the beach!  For step by step directions with photos go to Make it and check out Sea Shells in a Jar.

Chili Like I Make It

Chili is one of the more controversial dishes.  Even the spelling.  Chili? Chile?  Look it up, both are accepted, but people will argue about it.  Who cares.  It’s tasty.  My recipe originally had beans in it, but real chili experts will turn their noses up.  And so does my husband and at least one of my kids.  So, I like beans in it (and it makes it go further and adds fiber) but I’m leaving them out.

It’s a good meal for cold days, but I can eat it any time.  Great for lunch, great for dinner.  Better the next day, make a bunch and freeze some for later.  You’re only limited by the size of your pot.  I could usually make this with things I had on hand, and most of the ingredients can be substituted with something else, except for chili powder, cumin and some version of tomato.  Cumin is the secret, in my opinion, for chili that tastes like chili or chili that tastes like spaghetti sauce with chili powder in it.

And so, without further chatter, let’s go to Cook It and look at my Non-Traditional Chili Recipe.

Quesadillas for Lunch!

I had never heard of quesadillas when I married my husband, but his Mom made them all the time.  They were a revelation to me because they were easy, they were tasty, they were made out of ingredients I almost always had on hand and the boys (and Jeff!) would eat them!  Even better, you could vary what you put in them to suit different palates!  Voila!  The perfect food!  All the years I made them I used flour tortillas, but since I have recently discovered I can’t eat wheat I have also discovered the joys of corn tortillas. So, while today’s version will be with corn, feel free to use wheat tortillas instead.  In fact, I’m sure the wheat version will be more popular.  But for those of you who want something a little different, or who can’t have wheat, try these!  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Head on over to Cook It and check out my recipe for Quesadillas!

Peppermint Stick Cocoa

I know Christmas has come and gone, but cocoa is always good, right?  And peppermint is always good, and I have a feeling you can make this with any kind of candy anyway (like red hots!).  I made these for my neighbors this year, because I wasn’t up to baking, and I had found this recipe and wanted to try it.  It turned out really cute, and got good reviews, so I’m going to share it here.  I had a little leftover but I’ve run out, so I made more today and made enough to send a batch to each of the boys as well.  A few Christmases ago I gave each of the daughters in law a hot chocolate maker and frother.  I had recently discovered that two of them had been broken when they got them, but no one had wanted to hurt my feelings by telling me.  After a little searching, because Crate and Barrel was no longer  selling them, I found them here.

At any rate, it made me want to send them all some of this really good cocoa mix. And make some more for us.I made a few changes in the basic recipe, which I’ll explain.  The original is good, but I like this a little bit better.  I think you could give this as gifts, or just keep it on hand for yourself and your family.  I’m not sure about making a sugar free version, because I’m not sure if there is a suitable substitute for the chocolate chips.  I assume you could make a lower sugar version with Splenda or your sweetener of choice.  Or, you could just splurge once in awhile.

So, to see what I did, check it out on my Cook It page here.

Mom’s Meatloaf

For some reason when you say meatloaf a lot of people make that face.  You know, that bad face that says, YUCK!  And I admit, I don’t like a lot of people’s meatloaf either.  But really, how can you hate what is essentially a big, giant hamburger?  I made it often because my youngest son was not much of a meat eater, but he would eat hamburger in almost any permutation.  I was not willing to serve hamburgers every night of the week, but meatloaf seemed like a real meal, so I ended up with several versions.  All three of the boys would eat it, and it was easy to make an extra one to freeze for later.

Jeff and I went to the store and we bought all the ingredients, because my plan is to make my old recipes and measure and take pictures and write it all down and then post them.  I never cooked with real recipes, I just threw in this and that, and over time they evolved.  I chopped and measured and mixed and cooked.  I photographed and set the table and we sat down to eat.  It looked great.   But…. The garlic mashed potatoes were wonderful.  The spinach salad was super.  But the meatloaf was, bland.  Not my meatloaf at all.

So, I have to go back and try again.  I suspect I didn’t put enough of my normal spices in it, since I was trying to measure (instead of, “hey, that doesn’t look like enough of that!”)  So, I’ll try it again before I post the recipe.

I thought about NOT posting anything and then I thought, no, everyone has cooking disasters.  At least this was edible.  Too bad it was 1 1/2 lbs of bland.  On the other hand, I can crumble it up for chili or spaghetti or something else.  Appropriately we can eat it anyway.

I Was Feeling Crafty

I thought today was a good day to make something.  And I thought it best to start this whole blog thing out with something that looked like something I could accomplish without too many tears and frustration.  I am winging the webpage just a little since my webmaster expert is not sitting right here over my shoulder helping me.  We’ll see what he says when he takes a look later.  Hopefully it won’t be….WHAT DID YOU DO?!

I hope you enjoy the little Pocket Notebook.  I found it on what has become a very favorite place of mine, Stumbleupon.  That’s not exactly a website, it’s more of a way of browsing the web that uses your profile to show you websites that might interest you.  The more you use it, the better your experience becomes.  I had gotten to where I rarely browsed the web, because it had gotten so hard to find anything cool.  But now, I find all sorts of good things.  Like, for instance, instructions for the Pocket Notebook (and we’ll get to that in a moment–honest).  So, I thought it might be fun (for me, maybe for you, we’ll see) to find things I thought looked good, and try them and then report here.  If they work out, great. If not, well, I’ll report that too.  With pictures.

I’m glad to report the Pocket Notebook was a success.

Now, onward!  For steps with photos here you go:

Start At The Beginning

The only way to get started is to jump in.  And as someone else said, the best place to start is at the beginning.  So, a brief explanation is probably in order.  Something I’m not good at.  The brief part.  Bear with me.  I will do my best at that because I hate pages with lots of text to wade through.

My plan is to post what I do.  Originally I wanted to share my recipes, and start with what I used to cook when my 3 boys were growing up, mostly for them, now that they are married.  Just in case they wanted them.  I thought I would enlist my husband and we would make them (so I could actually measure ingredients since I never did before) and take photos.  That’s how the idea of this blog was born.

Then I thought, why not also do the same thing for the other things I do.  I do a lot of random arts and crafts, fused glass, mosaics, paper making, photography, paper cutting, you name it.  Anything that looks cool and fun and messy.  If no one but a few friends and family members ever looks, I guess that’s ok.  I bet my Dad will check it out.  🙂

So, that’s where this is going.