Friday, January 29, 2016

Real Hot Chocolate

When my kids were little I often made hot chocolate using a homemade mix. As the kids got older and life got busier it was just one of the lovely things that went by the wayside, replaced by the convenient.

The other day I had a craving for chocolate but it was really humid out and I just didn't crave it bad enough to make me want to walk to the store. Then I remembered the tin of cocoa in the cupboard.

I had forgotten just how delicious homemade hot chocolate is. Here's the recipe I used . . .

Serves 2

2 tbsp and 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 pinch salt
2 tbsp and 2 tsp boiling water
1-3/4 cups milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup half-and-half cream

Combine the cocoa, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn't scorch. Stir in milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 2 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of hot chocolate to cool it to drinking temperature.


Craft Space Get Organized Challenge #5

Organizing your stickers, die cuts and rub-ons is the challenge for Week 5

Stickers, diecuts, and rub-ons are some of the hardest things to organize because the different sizes and shapes pose many challenges. Rub-ons present their own challenges because if they aren't stored properly, they stick to each other, damaging precious supplies.

SORT: time to be ruthless. Consider if you are really going to use these items. If you bought a whole sheet of die cut just to use one or two tags, why are you hanging on to the whole sheet? Those stickers you bought in 1999 were adorable then, but definitely not your style now, are they? So, sort into piles: TRASH, SELL, DONATE, TO KEEP

PURGE: Throw out the TRASH pile. Bag up, and assign a price and your initials to the SELL pile and put them directly into the garage sale box. Make immediate arrangements to rid yourself of the DONATE items.

ASSIGN: The KEEP items need to be divided into categories that make sense to you: by colour, by manufacturer, theme, size, or type.

CONTAINERIZE: Here is an article about storing stickers, diecuts and rub-ons:

EQUALIZE: take a few minutes at the end of each scrap session, and whenever you return from a crop or a shopping trip to put your stickers, rub-ons and diecuts where they belong.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pierced Navel

1 ounce peach schnapps
1 ounce vodka
1 dash grenadine
orange juice

Pour the schnapps, vodka and grenadine over cracked ice in a highball glass.  Add fresh orange juice to fill.  Stir briskly.  

Peach Cocktail

2-1/2 cups diced, fresh peaches
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
chilled ginger ale
fresh mint

Combine peaches, lemon juice and sugar.  Fill fruit cocktail glasses.  Add 1-2 tbsp ginger ale to each glass.  Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Serves 4.

Christmas Candles

Christmas Candles

4" x 4"


Piecings may not be exactly as shown.  Each is individually made.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fuzzy Navel

1 ounce peach schnapps
orange juice
cracked ice

Pour the schnapps over cracked ice in a highball glass.  Add fresh orange juice to fill glass, stir briskly . . . enjoy.

Whole Radishes

Select firm red or white radishes.  Wash and scrub thoroughly.  Leave enough stem on to serve as a handle.  Wrap in a damp cloth.  Chill thoroughly in refrigerator.


Turnip sticks or thin slices of turnip which have been crisped in ice water make an excellent appetizer.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Stuffed Celery

Use only the tender white stalks showing no discolouration.  The inside stalks are preferable.

Wash and leave tips of leaves on stalks or remove leaves from coarser stalks.  Crisp in ide water.  Dry on paper towels before stuffing.

Use a pastry tube or a knife to fill grooves with processed cheese spread.

Garnish with chopped parsley, green pepper, chives, pimiento, or a dash of paprika.  Chill before serving.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Chimney Santa

Chimney Santa

4" x 8"



Piecings may not be exactly as shown.  Each is individually made.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Craft Space Get Organized Challenge #4

It's Week 4 of the Get Organized Challenge . . . Tools & Adhesives

Gather together all of your tools and adhesives into the Big Box, and let's start them!

: one by one, put each item into piles: FAVOURITES, TRASH, TO SELL, STORE, DONATE.

: For the SELL pile: bag up and assign a price and your initials to tools/adhesives that you don't love/use anymore and put them in your garage sale box. Throw out the TRASH pile. Arrange pick-up or drop-off of the DONATE pile.

: Store your most used items in a basket or box or other system right on your desk, within easy reach. Divide the STORE items into categories that make sense to you: cutting tools, pens, punches, templates, etc. 

: This is the time to tidy up your tools. Tools need regular maintenance to keep them efficiently working. As you put your tools away in whatever container (drawers, shelves, boxes, baskets - always ensuring the container is clearly labelled) give them a little maintenance.

scissors - sharpen your scissors using a small scissor sharpener, or have them professionally done. Carefully clean the blades (I like alcohol swabs to remove sticky adhesive)

pens - test pens and throw out the ones that are dry or don't work well.

craft knives - change the blades

trimmers - clean the deck of your trimmers with a damp cloth, and a little cleanser if necessary. Replace dull blades, or cut through fine sandpaper or aluminium foil.

work surface - clean ink, adhesive and paint from the mat.

punches - to prevent punches from sticking, punch through wax paper. Problem punches may need a little lubricating oil such as sewing machine oil, then punch through scrap paper several times to remove oily residue. Dull punches can be sharpened by punching through aluminium foil or fine grade sandpaper (both right side up and upside down)

rubber stamps - stamps should be cleaned after each use, but if there is a build up of ink on your stamps, you should clean them with an alcohol free baby wipe, or paper towels moistened with a mild cleanser (ammonia free/bleach free) Use a soft toothbrush to remove ink stuck in the crevices of a design. Store stamps flat, rubber side down.

: Once you have a system in place for you tools, putting them back in the same place every time will become a reflex, and you will never have to hunt for you scissors again! Take a couple of minutes at the end of each scrap session to put your tools away.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Chicken Stroganoff

Chicken Stroganoff

Chicken breast cooked in a creamy tomato sauce with mushrooms.
4 servings
Preparation 15 min 
Cooking 40 min
310 calories per serving 
  • Good deal this week
  • Can be done in advance
  • Can be frozen
  • Easy
  • Nuts & Peanuts Free
  • Halal
  • Kid-friendly
  • Diabetes-friendly


1 1/3chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into 1x5 cm strips400 g
3 tbspwhite flour (all purpose)24 g
2 tbspcanola oil30 mL
1onions, finely chopped200 g
2 tbspbutter, unsalted28 g
1 cupchicken broth250 mL
16button (white) mushrooms, thinly sliced220 g
2 tbsptomato paste30 mL
1/4 cupwhipping cream 35%65 mL
2 tspWorcestershire sauce 10 mL
1 pinchsalt [optional]0.1 g
 ground pepper to taste  

Before you start

Keep the serving plates in the oven at the lowest setting so they are warm when you serve.


  1. Cut the chicken meat into 1 X 5 cm strips. Coat with flour.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the finely chopped onion a few minutes until traslucent, then take it out of the pan and set aside on a small plate.
  3. Turn the heat up high, add the butter, and brown the pieces of chicken in the same pan. Add the warm brothto deglaze the pan. Put the onion back in. Season with salt and pepper. Start cooking gently, covered.
  4. While the meat cooks, prepare the mushrooms, slice them finely and add them to the pan after the chicken has cooked 20-25 min. Cook an additional 10-12 min.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the tomato paste with the cream and Worcestershire sauce. Add to the pan and cook over very low heat for 3-5 min, taking care not to let it boil. Serve on the warmed plates.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

I love soup when it is cold outside.  I love all the flavours cooked together to make me happy.  This is a really simple and delicious recipe.

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

4 servings
Preparation 20 min 
Cooking 25 min
180 calories per serving 
  • Good deal this week
  • Can be done in advance
  • Can be frozen
  • Very easy
  • Gluten Free
  • Lactose Free
  • Nuts & Peanuts Free
  • Halal
  • Kosher
  • Artery-healthy
  • Heart-healthy


7 tbspgreen-brown lentils (dried) 70 g
1leeks, thinly sliced 300 g
1 clovegarlic, minced or pressed 
1tomatoes, coarsely chopped 120 g
1 stalkcelery, cut into very small dices 70 g
1carrots, cut into very small dices100 g
2/3 cupbroccoli, cut into small florets80 g
5 tspolive oil25 mL
4 cupschicken broth, low-sodium1 L
1 pinchsalt [optional]0.1 g
 ground pepper to taste  

Before you start

It is not necessary to soak the lentils in advance.


  1. Rinse and drain the lentils, then set aside.
  2. Prepare the vegetables: finely slice the leek; mince or press the garlic; coarsely chop the tomatoes; chop the celery and carrot into very small dices (about 3 mm); cut the broccoli into small pieces (about 2 cm).
  3. In a pot, sweat the leek and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat about 3-4 min. Add the remaining vegetables, lentils, and broth, then bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 25 min or until the lentils are tender.
  4. Adjust the seasoning then serve.


The soup keeps up to 6 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Craft Space Get Organized Challenge #3

Week 3: Organize your photos . . .

So, your paper is beautifully organized, your scraps carefully stashed or purged, and your desk is gleaming! Doesn't it make you feel creative? Don't you want to get cropping? Well, you CAN'T scrapbook without PHOTOS!

Our third challenge is to organize our photos. Here are a few articles to get you thinking about how to organize those precious photos before we S.P.A.C.E. them: (this is an excellent article)

Another great article, especially when dealing with old photos . . .

SORT: Gather together all of your photos, and sort them into categories that make sense: TRASH (it's okay to throw out photos with bad colour, expression, composition. Why keep them? You're not going to scrapbook them) TO SCRAPBOOK (the shots you know you are going to use) TO STORE (photos that need to be kept, but aren't necessarily going to be going into your scrapbooks) TO GIVE AWAY (doubles that you want to send to friends and family)

PURGE: Throw out the TRASH pile. Put the TO GIVE AWAY photos in envelopes and mail them to friends/family, or put them in your car so you can drop them off the next time you visit. Do not leave them in your studio, or they will creep back into your organized space.

ASSIGN: Sort the final two groups of photos into a system that makes sense to you:

CONTAINERIZE: Now it's time to decide how you want to store your photos. Perhaps you want to put your TO STORE photos in acid free envelopes or albums. Perhaps you want to put your TO SCRAPBOOK photos into photo storage boxes, or accordion folders.

EQUALIZE: Next time you get new photos from the photo processor, spend a couple of minutes and put the photos where they belong: throw out the bad shots, give away the extras, put the keepers away in their storage, and sort your photos for scrapbooking into their container.

Please take a moment and read this exerpt from Design Strategies for Scrapbookers:

Photo preservation begins with safe storage.  Remove photos stored in the old magnetic albums immediately.  A magnetic album has cardboard pages with adhesive on them and a plastic sheet to cover the photos.  The adhesives and plastics in these albums are highly acidic and can ruin your photos very quickly.

To safely remove photos from magnetic albums you can use:

1.      Dental floss – Slip a piece of dental floss under one corner of the photo and use a gentle back-and-forth sawing motion to lift the photo.
2.      Blow Dryer – Set your blow dryer on low heat to soften the page’s glue and then carefully lift the photo.
3.      Spatula/pan scraper – Use a thin spatula to slowly pry photos loose. 
4.      Undu Adhesive Remover – Undu neutralizes adhesive’s stickiness, making photos easy to remove.  It dries clear and will not damage photos or smudge most inks.
5.      I have heard about freezing the pages first  but I’ve never tried it so use at your own risk.

Use an acid-free photo box with dividers or an archival quality photo album for storage.  Organize photos chronologically or by theme, event or subject depending on how you scrapbook.  Write notes on the dividers or on the back of the photo for later reference.  Don’t use ballpoint pen to write on backs of photos.  Buy a special photo-marking pen or pencil. 

Always save original photos if they are one of a kind and can’t be replaced.  This is especially important with heritage photos.  Instead, scan and print new copies, storing the original for safe-keeping.  If you are determined to use the original, use photo corners to adhere these precious photos to your layouts so they can be safely removed.

I just had a reminder of this rule recently.  I’ve been working on a family tree album and needed some baby pictures.  I scrapbooked all my baby pictures when I first started scrapbooking many years ago.  And that was the problem.  I had cut them all in shapes and used decorative scissors on them.  Not one was complete enough for me to scan and reprint.  My mom and aunt are going through their old photos in hopes they have some originals.  So I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to save original photos.  Scan the originals and have them reprinted. 

Don’t forget to properly store and organize negatives.  Plastic negative sleeves will old 4-7 negatives, depending on brand and the size of film.  If you have older negatives in smaller sizes (such as 110) you can easily create subdivisions in the sleeves with a sewing machine and clear nylon thread.  You can store negative sleeves in a 3-ring binder or folder.  Label each sleeve with the date and/or subject.

Digital photos have their own set of rules.  Always back up your computer files, including your digital photo files because computers crash and hard drives fail.  Store a back up copy of your photos and important documents to an external hard drive.  You can also download your digital photos to CD’s or USB drives although there is some debate as to how long they last.  There are many online sites that you can save your photos to as well.

When you are looking for a safe place to store your memorabilia, photographs, negatives, supplies and albums, keep in mind that they will do best in a dry, cool place, out of direct sunlight.

 Design Strategies for Scrapbookers - black & white edition
Available in colour, black & white or large print

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Special Party Dip

This is one of my favourite dips . . . 

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
2 Tbsp. cream
2 Tbsp. French dressing
1/3 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. grated onion
1/4 tsp. salt

Blend the cheese and cream until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Place in a serving bowl.  Serve with crackers, potato chips or veggies.

Shrimp Cocktail

Clean shrimp, removing black line from backs.  Chill.

Serve in lettuce-lined cocktail cups with cocktail sauce or highly-seasoned mayonnaise.  Finely chopped celery may be added.

Radish Roses

Cut down thin strips of red peel of radishes almost through to stems to form petals.  Place radishes in ice water.  As they chill the peel will curl back like petals.

Radish Fans

Select firm and long radishes.  With a very sharp, thin knife, cut thin slices crosswise almost through the radishes.  Chill in ice water.  The slices will spread fan-shaped as they chill.

Pepper Rings

Image result for pepper rings

Cut off tops of peppers.  Remove seeds and centres.  Cut crosswise into thin slices.  Crisp in ice water.  Dry before serving.

Ham and Onion on Picks

Spear small ham cubes and small pickled onions (or small stuffed olives or cubes of dill or sweet pickle) on picks.

Ham and Cheese on Picks

Alternate cubes of boiled ham and Swiss or American cheese on picks.

Green Onions

Trim washed green stalks, leaving about 3 inches.  Trim onion, removing roots and any loose "skin".  Chill in ice water.

Cucumber Slices

Peel cucumber.  Score it by running a fork lengthwise down the surface of the cucumber.  Cut the cucumber into very thin slices.  Chill in a tray of ice.  Drain and sprinkle lightly with chopped parsley.

Cheese and Onions on Picks

Place a 1/2" cube of cheese, a tiny slice of pickle and a tidy pickled onion on each pick.

Celery Curls

Cut small stalks or short pieces of celery lengthwise into thin shreds, cutting to within 1/2 inch of the leaves or end of piece.  Place in ice water to curl.

Chicken Cutlets a la Ferrer

Chicken Cutlets à la Ferrer

2 servings
Preparation 5 min 
Cooking 12 min
250 calories per serving 


1chicken breasts, boneless, skinless300 g
2 tbspbutter, unsalted28 g
2 sprigsrosemary, fresh10 g
1 tbspwhite flour (all purpose)8 g
1/4 cupwhite wine65 mL
1 pinchsalt [optional]0.1 g
ground pepper to taste

Before you start

Keep the serving plates in the oven at the lowest setting so they are warm when you serve.


  1. Slice the breast horizontally into very thin cutlets. Flatten these cutlets using a rolling pin or meat pounder.Coat with the flour.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the rosemary sprigs whole. Cook 2-3 min, then take them out.
  3. Add the cutlets and cook over medium heat 4 min. Turn, add salt and pepper, sprinkle with the white wine, cover, and cook an additional 3 min. Serve on the warmed plates.

Salmon Croquettes

Salmon Croquettes

2 servings
Preparation 20 min 
Cooking 15 min
400 calories per serving 


2 tbspcanola oil, for the baking method30 mL
1 1/2potatoes300 g
1 1/2 tbsplemon juice, freshly squeezed1/2 lemon
2 tbspmilk, partly skimmed, 2%30 mL
3green onions/scallions, finely chopped45 g
1/4 tspcayenne pepper, or to taste1 g
200 gsalmon, canned, drained and crumbled
1 pinchsalt [optional]0.1 g
ground pepper to taste
1 tbspwhite flour (all purpose)8 g
1egg whites, beaten
2 tbspbread crumbs16 g

Before you start

These patties can be either fried or baked. The Nutrition Facts table on this page assumes that baking will be used.


  1. If using the baking method: Preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F. Lightly oil a baking dish with some of the canola oil (about one tablespoon). Alternatively, for deep-frying: Preheat a sufficient quantity of peanut oil to 175°C/350°F in an electric fryer or in a large skillet.
  2. Prepare the potatoes : Peel and cut them in half, then boil them 20 min until they are very tender. Drain well, then put them in a bowl and mash them until a smooth purée is obtained.
  3. Add the lemon juice, milk, chopped scallions, and Cayenne pepper. Drain the salmon, crumble it then add it to the bowl (including any small bones, if so desired, since they are a good source of calcium). Season with salt and pepper, then mix well.
  4. Prepare 3 shallow dishes: Put the flour in the first dish, beat the egg white in the second dish, put the bread crumbs in the third dish. Form the salmon mixture into small balls (about the size of golf balls), then flatten them slightly into patties. Roll the patties into the flour first, then into the egg white, and finally into the bread crumbs.
  5. Baking: Transfer the patties on the previously oiled dish, sprinkle with the remaining oil, then cook in the middle of the oven 12-15 min until golden-brown, turning them once. Deep-frying: Working in batches,deep-fry the patties about 5 min per side until golden-brown, then set them on paper towels to drain. Serve.