Monday, December 29, 2014

A Chinese Feast for your New Year's Party

My family has always been big fans of homemade Chinese food.  If we invite you over for a homemade Chinese feast, it means we really like you!  Christmas Eve was made even more special with this delicious dinner that Cody and I prepared together.  I think you should make this for New Year's Eve, I promise you won't regret it even if it is all fried and can work on that the next day!

First up--Mafa Chicken.  Have you ever heard of this before?  We have been making it for years and I don't know anyone who doesn't like it.  If you are making this meal for New Year's Eve, I suggest you start the chicken the day before because the longer it marinates, the better.  Here is what you need: 
*4 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/2 cup soy sauce
*1 egg 
*5 cubes funyu or bean curd
 (found in the refrigerated section but 
you can omit this if you can't find it.)
*1 tsp ginger
*1 tsp garlic powder

In a bowl with a lid, combine sugar, soy sauce, egg, funyu, ginger and garlic powder.  Add cubes of chicken and shake to coat.  Place in refrigerator and shake it every once in awhile.  Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight.  When ready to cook, drain marinade off of chicken and dredge in seasoned flour.  Heat oil and fry chicken in batches until golden brown.  This is amazing the next day eaten straight from the fridge!
Fried Rice
*3 cups cooked and cooled white rice
*Soy sauce
*4 pieces of bacon chopped and cooked
*6 sliced green onions
*2 eggs, scrambled

After frying the bacon, remove to paper towel but leave grease in the skillet.  Place cooled rice in skillet and warm through.  Add soy sauce until rice takes on brown color.  Add bacon back in.  Scamble the eggs and add to rice mixture.  Right before serving add green onions. 
Fried Shrimp:
*1/2 pound cooked, de-veined shrimp
*Package of Shrimp Fry

Follow package directions on Shrimp Fry to coat the shrimp.  Fry these last so that your other food doesn't take on the taste of shrimp. 
Sweet & Sour Sauce:
*1 TBS oil
*1 cup pineapple juice
*3 TBS cornstarch
*1/2 cup water
*2 TBS soy sauce
*2TBS vinegar
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 TBS ketchup

1. Heat and bring to a boil oil and pineapple juice.
2.Mix together cornstarch and water until dissolved.  Add to pineapple/oil mixture.
3.Mix soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and ketchup.  Add to other mixture.  Cook until sauce thickens making sure to stir constantly.  

*1/2 pound ground sausage
*6 sliced green onions
*Won-ton wrappers

Fry the sausage and drain grease.  Add in sliced green onions.  Place a teaspoon of sausage mixture into middle on won-ton wrapper and seal edges with water.  Fill as many won-ton wrappers as you have filling.  These can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator covered with a damp towel until ready to fry.  Fry these first in the oil and keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest of the food.
 I am telling you, make this meal and all of your friends will be super impressed!  It is the perfect meal for any special occasion or just when you feel like making an amazing meal.  Happy New Year!

Our Christmas

How was everyone's Christmas?  I didn't ever really get into the Christmas spirit this year for some reason.  But I still can't believe that it has come and gone already!  I have been off of work since the 19th and I am enjoying every last minute.  The Monday before Christmas I got to watch my handsome little nephew.  I love him soooooo much!
Here he is on Christmas day, posing in his new wagon.  When I watched him, we made ornaments for my brother and his wife as well as for my mom and dad.  Fischer wasn't too sure about having his hand pressed into the salt dough, but we got two good ornaments!  They all loved this special gift from this adorable little man. 
Speaking of ornaments, my mom made us all these tie angels.  My grandpa was a produce man and wore ties to work everyday.  My grandma gave all the ties to my dad but since my dad doesn't wear ties they didn't know what to do with them.  My mom wanted to find a way to use them and found this idea to make angel ornaments out of them.  She had enough ties to make one for grandpa's 3 kids, 8 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild.  Now we can all have a piece of our grandpa on our Christmas trees every year! 
I was also commissioned to alter some playing cards for a Premier Design Jewelry consultant.  She had custom made cards that she wanted blinged up.  I did my best with the small budget I had and came up with these.  Hopefully all the consultants liked them! 
Cody and I decided to spend Christmas Eve by ourselves this year.  We made a delicious homemade Chinese food dinner, watched Christmas Vacation and opened presents.  I will be sharing the recipes for this amazing meal on my next post.
Cody got me a Kitchen Aid Mixer because he knows how much I have wanted one and that I would use it all the time!  The next day we went to my parent's house for Christmas and what do you think my parent's got me?  A Kitchen Aid mixer!  I go from not having one to having 2.  The one Cody got me is brand new.  The one my mom got me is used-she found it at an estate sale this summer for $10 and just had to buy the bowl and attachments.  I obviously can't return the one she got me but returning the one Cody got me means we will have all that money back.  I can't decide what I am going to do...maybe I will just have 2 now?!  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas in the Kitchen Swap Goodies

I love participating in swaps.  It's fun to create things for others and then get something in return.  I joined Erica's Christmas in the Kitchen Exchange over at Golden Egg Vintage and was partnered up with Betty Jean at Shabby Tea Party.  We were to create 2 kitchen themed ornaments, a tag or card, a recipe and throw in some goodies.  Here is what I made for Betty Jean.
 I went to World Market knowing that they had these tiny little graters.  It is the perfect size for an ornament.  I blinged it up and added a sweet little gingerbread man to it.  
 I also picked up a mini whisk.  I wrapped the handle, added a Santa ornament to the top and finished it up with some red ribbon and beads.
 Even though this card isn't kitchen themed, it is perfect for Christmas.  Aqua bingo card all dressed up in red, French and vintage touches.
 I also sent along a pack of red paper straws, a gingerbread man with bakers twine, socks, peppermint bark and cupcake papers.  I hope you liked your goodies Betty Jean!
 Betty Jean made this amazing smelling gingerbread man that is covered in pretty glitter.  I wish you could smell him!
 And isn't this gingerbread house the cutest?  It is covered in glitter and has a sweet bottle brush tree.  It sits on an electric candle and is so adorably cute.
Here is the tag she made me...I love how she did everything in a gingerbread theme.  The tag has a vintage teaspoon and the tiniest gingerbread man cookie cutter tied to it.  The recipe is for Frosty Date Ball Cookies...I think I will have to make these for Cody since he loves date cake.  She also sent along some candy but Cody stole the Almond Roca as soon as he saw it, I enjoyed the peppermint bark chocolates and I used the mini chocolate Santa's to decorate cupcakes this week.  Thank you so much Betty Jean...I love all of my goodies!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Party Recap

My work holiday party was last night and it was a big success!  I wanted to share with you the centerpieces that I finally decided on.  There were 18 all together and I made 3 different kinds.
We also had blue uplights that really made a dramatic effect.  These colors are my favorite! 
 The theme was Winter Wonderland/Two Turtle Doves.  I bought these two turtle doves from the dollar store, glittered their wings, stuck them in a large glass vase with Epsom salt, a candle and snowflakes and they sat on the beverage table.  Everyone loved it!
 I also painted some tree branches white and then added silver glitter to them.  I stuck them in a vase with clear glass beads.  This sat on the check in table.  The aqua garland went around the base of all the vases and the caterers even used some to decorate the food tables.
And here is a picture of the set up before people arrived.  We had about 160 people in attendance and we got rave reviews over the food and the decorations.  I think everyone enjoyed themselves! 
My first big event is now under my belt...I think I am going to LOVE my job, in fact I already do!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Yarn Crafts for Christmas

I wanted a different wreath for my front door this year.  I wanted it to be bright and whimsical and different from what I usually have.  While wandering around Michael's trying to figure out what I was going to do, the yarn seemed to reach out and touch me.  I don't usually do anything with yarn and always overlook it.  So glad I didn't overlook it this time because I just love my new yarn wreath!
I bought a chip board wreath frame and red, white and green yarn.  I spent the next few nights wrapping the yarn in sections around the form.  Felt roses were next followed by a vintage Santa figurine, a mica flake bottle brush tree and some tiny little presents.  It was exactly what I was going for and it looks great on my front door!
I had a lot of yarn left over so I decided to make some yarn pom poms.  They are really easy to make and turned out very cute.  This pom pom garland looks so festive on my mantle! 
 I am keeping all of my Christmas decorations pretty simple this year and I am not bringing all of it out.  I did add some new things however.  I found these vintage Santa mugs at a yard sale this summer.  They fit perfectly on my candle sticks and the bottle brush trees are such a fun touch.  Not sure if I will leave them plain or decorate them...

 I still have a lot of yarn left so I am not sure what I will be making with it.  I just know that it is very fun to use in my crafts and I am glad that I didn't over look it like I have in the past! Can you see the cute stocking holders?  The fabulous Miss BJ from Sweet Nothing's sent those to me last year.  I love them and can't wait for the new stockings I ordered to get here so I can hang them.
My mom bought each of us girls one of these holiday signs at a craft fair recently.  I love how it looks sitting up against my mantle.  Thanks momma!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Decorating at Work

Even though I am no where near done decorating for Christmas at home, I am done at work!  I took the last two days to make our home away from home extra festive!
We don't have a Christmas tree but our bookshelf down stairs is the perfect shape for a tree.  We strung some purple lights on it and hung a few ornaments.  We even put a star on top! 
 The mantle has some garland and ornaments.  We may just have to get some stockings to hang.
 The staircase is probably my favorite.  It is the perfect place to put garland and ornaments in our school colors of course!  I walk up and down these stairs multiple times everyday and it is nice to have them looking so lovely!
 This old house really is just made for decorating for Christmas!
 One more look at our make-shift pretty!  This bookshelf has first edition books on it from as far back as the 1800's.  So many treasures can be found in this old house!
And last but not least, I wanted to share this photo with you.  I was asked by my veterinary clinic to take their office picture for their holiday card.  We went out to a horse farm and got to take pictures with these lovely draft horses.  They are sisters named Dove and Dawn.  Dove is 24 and Dawn is 22.  They were beautiful and thanks to the snow that fell that day, we got some perfect wintry photos!

On December 13th, I will be taking pictures at the veterinary clinic of animals with Santa Paws.  I hope Cody will bring my dogs in so they can have their picture taken too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Romantic Homes Magazine sale

Treat yourself to an early Christmas gift!  Romantic Homes magazine is having an amazing sale for a years subscription to their fabulous magazine.  I can never justify paying full price for this in the store, so I glance through the pages while I wait in line.  For only $17.95, I will get to have my own copies to pour over for a year.  I am getting nothing from this but I wanted to share this with you just in case you wanted to give yourself an early gift that will treat you all year long!  Just click on the picture to go place your order.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Centerpieces, centerpieces!

 One of the fun things about my job is party planning and coming up with ways to decorate for parties.  Our college Holiday party is coming up very soon and I have been brainstorming centerpieces for the tables.  The theme is Winter Wonderland and here are the invitations that I created and sent out both physically and electronically.  
Here are the 2 centerpieces I have come up with.  This first one has hot glue snowflakes around the candle.  Most likely the candle won't be lit or we will get electronic ones.  It is sitting on a silver tray and has an icy white garland around it.

This is the second one.  It has a little more height to it but doesn't have a candle.  The thing to remember is, I have to use what I already have on hand and I can't buy anything new.  Our school colors are purple and gold so the fact that I have the least little bit of white, silver and aqua is amazing!  Do you have a favorite or should I do both?  I will be making 17 of them!
 Here are some other centerpieces that I have made.  This one was for an admissions event held at a local winery.  I hear they were a big hit!
 This one was for a grand opening of a new building on campus.  It was in the middle of summer and the lemon slices were the perfect accessory.
 These fall ones have been used several times this year.  Unfortunately this is the only fall stuff we have so hopefully I will get to do some shopping soon for more.
 And this one was for a lecture that had to do with music.  I bent gold wire into a treble clef and made a rosette our of sheet music.  The paper in the vase is shredded sheet music too. 
I have our biggest event of the year coming up in February-our scholarship gala.  We expect about 450 people to be in attendance and I will have to create about 60 centerpieces.  This years theme is literature so I am constantly on Pinterest trying to find ideas that involve books but don't involve us having to carry tons and tons of books to the venue.  It will be here before we know it!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pallet Signs

For some crazy reason, I told my friend that I would do a craft show with her next weekend.  What was I thinking?!  My weekends are so precious and the last thing I want to do is spend my whole Saturday sitting at a craft fair.  But I never spend anytime with this friend and I have so many creations that I should probably try to sell.  I am sure I will have so much fun when I am there and maybe I will make a little extra money too!
Luckily I have a lot of things already made up but I wanted to make some new things too.  Cody brought a few pallets home from work and I put him to work cutting them up for me.  These simple signs are just a piece of the pallet that I painted with a bit of watered down paint.  The "o" in LOVE is a felt rose.
 The lace and pearl trim take these signs from just rustic to rustic and romantic.  I just have to decide if I want to make them hang by pearls or something else altogether.  I love these signs and would totally buy one so hopefully others will too!
I will have to take pictures of all the things I am going to be selling.  I really do have some great things! 
And I just had to share these adorable little ceramic pilgrims.  I bought them at a thrift store for $1.50 and I just adore them.  I think that someone must have painted them at a ceramics shop because there are no markings.  The person who painted them did an amazing job!  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays so my house is all decked out in the few Thanksgiving decorations that I have and these just might be my favorites!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Missing in Action--that's me!

I have been seriously MIA lately but I have good reasons why!  I have been spending a lot of time with my handsome nephew and I always like to take as many pictures of him as I can!
He has already been introduced to one of my favorite Fall traditions--watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" He loved it and wiggled around to the music.  His Uncle Cody has also made sure that he will be a San Diego Chargers fan just like him and got him this super cute beanie to wear when they watch the games together.
I have also been busy taking family pictures this fall.  It seems like this time of year is my busiest time, just like any photographer!  Of course I took family photos for my brother and his cute little family.  I can't get enough of my little Fish! 
Here is another cute little family.  He works with my brother and after seeing their maternity photos, asked if I could do some for them.  They are expecting a new little boy sometime this month.
This is my friend and roommate from college.  Her cute little toe-headed kids were so much fun and have the cutest personalities!  
Another college friend of mine had me take some pictures of her son's baptism.  The lights in the chapel would not turn on so that was definitely a bit of a problem but the photos turned out great!
I also found these amazing new pans while out grocery shopping a few weeks ago.  I instantly fell in love with the color and wanted all of them.  At only $6 per pan, it was a steal of a deal even if Cody did have to talk me into buying them.  So glad I did because I love them!
I also got a new car.  I drive over 300 miles to work and back each week and needed something more reliable than the Honda I was driving.  So I traded in my gas hog 4Runner and got this Mazda Tribute.  It isn't as good on gas as the Honda but is better than the 4Runner.  I kind of like it!
So that is what I have been up to lately.  Definitely keeping busy!  I hope to find some time soon to get some crafty projects in so I can share them with all of you!