Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Local Artist Spotlight: Irie Tribal

Let's get all the legal stuff out of the way before we start.  I was not monetarily compensated nor was I compensated with product.  I have been compensated with a fantastic friendship and a wider view on the world since meeting the artisans behind Irie Tribal.  Oh and they have no clue I'm doing this either.

A little over a year ago my husband and I were photographing an event, remember we have a photography business.  My husband became enthralled with this group of belly dancers.  I became enthralled with their costumes, make-up, and jewelry.  The mastermind behind the troupe is also a costume designer and jewelry maker.

Now I know what you are thinking, umm Mel we aren't belly dancers and we have no need to buy belly dance stuff.  I know that, I get that.  I know not everyone needs a choli.

Some of you though might like to wear one of those as a summer top.  I also get that not everyone needs a pair of pantaloons.  Though I have to admit that I wouldn't mind having a pair of these.  They look super comfy.  These are made with 5 yards, yes you read that right five yards, of fabric.

But I'm pretty sure we all could use a new necklace or have someone on our Christmas shopping list that could.

Isn't that to die for?

Check out the super trendy necklace.  

The inventory is always changing and just because the necklace was there when I wrote this post doesn't mean it's there by the time you get to read it.  To see everything she has to offer check out Irie Tribal on Etsy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Crafting

I love doing hand made things for friends and family for Christmas, really anytime.  With December right around the corner, it is time to get into the sewing/crafting room and get started.  I've got lots of projects planned and I want to share with you.  I figure it is safe since none of the recipients follow my blog or my twitter account.

GNO Group:  I have four girlfriends that I go out with on a monthly basis.  We all work together and these girls have become my sisters.  Really, I don't think I've had adult friendships that were this tight that didn't start at birth.  I love these girls and love to spoil them.  One year I did fleece blankets with homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows.  Another time I bought serving trays and filled them with homemade candies that they could eat or take with them to their gathering.  I thought of it as a time saver for them.  Last year I bought them digital frame key chains and filled them with photos of us, them, and their children.  This year they will get......
Click to Enlarge

Now I am debating on what to fill them with.  It is between flavored popcorn lots of different kinds or bath bombs, scrubs, ect.  What do you think?

Work Gift Exchange:  Each year we do a gift exchange at work.  It can become very competitive when they start stealing gifts.  It's fun though and last year my tin of homemade chocolates almost caused a riot.  So I need to do something great again this year.  This one is causing me some trouble.  I'm not sure what to do, it's got to be different then last year and it's got to be amazing.  Got any ideas?

The ladies I work with: We all share small gifts with each other.  This one is causing me issues too.  Not sure what to do for them either. :(

My secret pal: This one I plan on having fun with.  Little gifts each day, like an adult advent.  Some of my ideas are:
 Tutorial found here  (her name is Joy by the way)
Tutorial found here I think it's just a fun idea!
And so on. 

What are your handmade Christmas ideas?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blog Goals

If you don't follow me on Twitter you've never experienced my feed slam on Monday's during Craftermind's Twitter chat.  This might be a reason for you not to follow, as I know it does annoy some followers however, it has been a wealth of information for me.  This Monday's chat was about our goals for our blogs.  One thing I walked away with was to put them in writing to hold yourself accountable.  So here they are, to share with all of you.

1. Make some money - I know you all think I'm here because I just love doing this.  That's partly true, I love to cook and craft and I love that some find me interesting enough to come here each week and see what I'm up to.  The truth is that I'd like to make a few bucks while I'm at it.  I'm not talking about thousands each month.  I'm talking about enough to pay for a domain and keep a little money in my craft budget.  Let's face it, no one wants to work for free and blogging is a job.

2. Grow my readership - I'd like to have a few more out there reading this stuff.  I'm so thankful for those of you who are here each time a new posts goes up but, one can never have enough friends right?  :)

3. Host Giveaways - When I achieve goal number 2 then, hopefully, I'll be able to give back to all of you by giving away some amazing products.

4. Connect with other bloggers - I want to bring in some new faces to the blog.  Fresh ideas, new sets of eyes will help grow our little group into one rocking group.

5. Use The Blog Frog  - I have a Blog Frog community.  I need to use it more though.  I see the potential of it becoming a way for us to get together on a regular basis.  I just need to figure out how to do all that.

6. Get some perks - I'm insanely jealous of other bloggers who are getting stuff in the mail from some great companies.  The great part is they usually get to share those perks with their readers.  Now, really who of you don't want to get presents on the front door?  (I guess this kind of goes with number 3)

7. Post more - I need/want to post more.  Enough said!

What are your goals?  Either with your blog or in your personal life!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Week of Failure

I came to a realization this week.  It may be next to impossible to give you a new gluten-free convert recipe every Saturday.  Why might you ask?  I can't inflict that much torture on both my stomach and my poor husband's tummy.  I can't keep giving him failure after failure until I hit upon something perfect for dinner.  He's already skinny enough. ;)

Monday I set out to make taquitos.  I'd seen a ton of them on pinterest and none seemed to hard.  I mean really all I had to do was change from a flour tortilla to a corn one.  How hard could that be? I made a yummy filling, fairly basic though, browned hamburger, salt, pepper, onion, and a can of Rotel.  I drained it well to make sure it was a fairly dry filling.  I flashed fried the corn tortillas to soften them up.  They were nice and soft, the filling tasted good, now began the rolling.  I filled them with just a little filling.  I rolled them, pinned them with toothpicks and moved on to the next one.  After doing three of them I got the bright idea to drop them and see how they cooked up.  Welp, the exploded.  I'm talking about blow apart, filling floating in the oil, tortillas flat.  So I scratched it.  I fried the rest of the tortillas to make them crispy and then layered the tortillas and the filling in the pan and put it in the oven.  When it came out the top tortilla was crispy the rest were soggy.  No need for the cheese dipping sauce I had made there was nothing to dip in it.  We did pour some of it over the top, ate our supper of hamburger filling (I let the hubs have the crispy tortilla) and whipped up some Betty Crocker Gluten Free brownies as a I'm sorry treat.

Chicken Fried Steak Photo by Jessica CC picture via Flickr

Tuesday I was going to make gluten free chicken fried steak.  Doesn't that look yummy?  Ok minus the gravy, still not making gluten-free cream gravy.  A start would be a breaded steak though.  I can do this.  I just needed a breading.  Not a problem, I have been successfully breading shrimp for a few months now.  Around here chicken fried steak and fried shrimp have a similar breading.  I remember grandma breading her chicken fries with cornmeal, yep I can do this, or so I thought.  I split the piece of round steak into 3 pieces and tenderized it with my mallet.  Then I dipped it in two beaten eggs with some chipolte hot sauce in it.  Then it was off to be dredged in some cornmeal seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  (Note: I do the same thing with the shrimp, minus garlic powder.)  Then into the fryer they went.  I pulled them when they were golden brown and looking supper yummy.  About 5 minutes.  Then I cut mine.  The breading came off.  It had completely separated from the steak.  The breading came off in two pieces and in between those two pieces was a pieces of beef jerky.  Yeah, needless to say it wasn't supper yummy.

On Wednesday when I called to see what the hubs wanted for supper he said, "Something you know will turn out right."  So I went back to the stand bys.  We had tacos, chili, and pork chops.  Nothing exciting, nothing ground breaking for those who can't have gluten.  I'll try again this week. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gluten Free Thanksgiving

'Tis that time of year.  Time for all those holiday gatherings and parties.  I love it.  I'm not kidding, I really do love it.  It was a favorite time of year in my house growing up.  I have fond memories of my mother in the kitchen prepping for the Thanksgiving feat.  I would come home from school, we went a half day on the day before Thanksgiving, and my mother would be in the kitchen cooking, chopping, working away while Christmas carols played over the radio.  The Christmas tree would be up and breathing so it could be decorated the next day.  On the stove there was always a pot of cinnamon sticks, cloves, and oranges to make the house smell just like the holidays feel.

Making that same atmosphere in my house is a must for me.  It's not the holidays without.  There are certain things that must be on the table or it's not Thanksgiving.  Some aren't gluten free but I've figured out most. ;)
Photo from Another Pint Please on Flickr
Turkey Dinner

1.  The Turkey -  Did you know not all Turkeys are gluten free?  They aren't and it is a must that you find one that is.  Be sure to read the label before buying.  I also brine my Turkey the night before.  The brine recipe uses vegetable stock that can contain gluten.  Off brand veggie stock was the only thing I could find that didn't have gluten in it.

2. Gravy - This one has always been gluten free in my house.  :)  I learned how to make gravy with cornstarch.

3. Mashed Potatoes - Again naturally gluten free.  Potatoes, butter, cream, salt, and pepper.  It doesn't get any better.

4. Green Bean Casserole - Get this I hate it.  I don't like it at all.  It's nasty.  It has to be on the table though. lol  I don't know but that's just the way it is.  This recipe is far from gluten free.  Condensed soup, soy sauce, fried onions are all no nos.  But never free we can still have it on the table.  I thinly slice an onion.  I use my mandolin to get them really thin.  Then I toss them with seasoned rice flour, just salt and pepper and drop them in the fryer.  I let them get brown and crunchy and drain them.  Instead of the condensed soup I use Alfredo sauce.  I use Classico Alfredo sauce that is marked gluten free.  I also saute some sliced mushrooms in butter.  I mix half the onions with a package of frozen green beans (the normal size not the huge one), with the Alfredo sauce and mushrooms.  No need for soy sauce!  Season with pepper and salt to taste.  Be careful with the salt though.  Top with the remaining half of the onions and bake until hot and bubbly.

5. Dressing/Stuffing - I haven't tried it yet.  Hubs didn't want any last year but then found out it's one of his moms favorite things.  So this year, I will be attempting it.

6. Pumpkin Pie - This one is super easy.  The recipe on the back of the Libby's can is gluten free.  The crust?  Well, mine of course!  Top with fresh whipped cream and you are in heaven.

What's missing from the table?  Hot dinner rolls and eclairs.  I'm still working on that.  Any suggestions?

What things are missing from your holiday dinner now that you have gone gluten free?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to Craft and Decorate on a Budget

I know spending money wisely is a concern for many out there.  We still want to be creative, have wonderful decorations, but we can't spend a fortune for the supplies either.  How do we do it?  Easy!

1. Hit up second hand stores.  Goodwill, Salvation Army, ect are all great places to score great supplies for not much money.  Plus, you are helping them continue all of their good work.

2. Discounts.  Did you know JoAnn's gives educators 15% off their entire purchase, including sale items?  I didn't know until the woman ahead of me in line used her card.  You need a pay stub or your contract.  There are other companies that do similar discounts for military, fire, EMS, police, ect.  If you fall into one of those categories don't let the discounts get away!

3. Coupons.  Hobby Lobby does 40% off a non-sale item every week.  USE IT!  JoAnn's emails, texts, and mails out coupons all the time.  Michael's does coupons too.  Use them!  There's no reason to spend full price on something.

4. Facebook.  Like companies you use their products.  They will give away items, coupons, ect. to their fans.

5. Facebook again.  Search for a local Buy, Sell, Trade page.  Many communities now have one.  You can sell your wares, extras and make some cash.  You can also find great deals on craft items.  I've gotten lots of goodies and to date have spent $14.00.  I got a 20 gallon storage tub full of fabric, 3 Wal-Mart bags full of crochet thread, and 2 idea books.

6. Re-purpose.  If you aren't using it, are there elements you could?  Can you salvage the yarn off that sweater with a hole in it?

7. De-Stash.  Either use it or sell it.  If you aren't going to use it, sell it and use the money to buy things you will use.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gluten Free Saturday - Cheesecake Dip

Ok first off remember back this summer when I lost my nice SD card?  My husband found it, buried on the floor in the craft room.  I'm happy that it's back, I'm still being reminded that he found it after I searched for months.

So with the new schedule I'll be posting on Saturday, cooking, and Sunday, crafting and home.  It'll be easier for me.  It'll make sure you are getting more updates.  So we all win. :)  So on to the recipe.

Photo from Taste of Home

So I saw that picture on Pintrest awhile back.  It looked so yummy.  But graham crackers are a no no for the hubs.  While this would be great to take to work pot-luck it wasn't going to fly here at home.  I had to go to the drawing board.  I tossed around ideas and then it hit me, with the help of the hubs.  We had picked up some white corn tortillas, the soft kind.  He cut some up in wedges, fried them, and hand me one to try.  It sucked as a chip, it was too sweet.  So later I did the same thing only this time I sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar and drizzled honey over them.  TO DIE FOR!  I had it.

So here is the recipe from Taste of Home:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • Graham cracker sticks

I followed the directions the first time subbing gluten free vanilla, regular chocolate chips, and the corn chips from above omitting the honey.  It was good but the chocolate chips did nothing for it.  Seriously, the chocolate addicts here picked the chocolate chips out.  Without the chocolate chips it tasted like cheesecake .  At work we bring our own treats on our birthday.  I made a double batch of this, taking a little out for here at home, and by noon it was gone.  People were begging for the recipe.  Also I made the chips for work too.  We had someone diagnosed gluten intolerant just before my birthday.  I wanted to be able to include her without making her stand out as different.  No one except her and I knew that everything was gluten free, they just thought it was supper yummy.

Linked to:
Be Different Act Normal

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I wanted to give you all fair warning that I'll be back into the swing of things very soon.  Like this weekend soon. :)  I'm finalizing a schedule to squeeze in some crafting time.  I've got some great projects pinned.  The holidays are just around the corner so I'll be sharing tips, tricks, and decor ideas along the way.  You'll want to watch out for my Thanksgiving for a complicated family post.  (2 gluten free eaters, a vegetarian, and me)  Also I've found a use for G+ I think.  I'll be using it along with Facebook to share quick projects or tips along the way.
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