January Foodie Pen Pal

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What’s a foodie pen pal you ask?  Well, every month bloggers can sign up to participate and will be paired with another blogger.  Then bloggers send each other a box of yummy treats that cost about $15!  The Foodie Pen Pal program was developed by Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean.  Visit her blog for details and to sign up.  It’s super fun!

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What I got: a wonderful card from Krysty, Bobo’s cinnamon raisin oat bar, two Alter Ego miniature chocolate bars, an organic 365 very berry fruit strip, lemon thyme shortbread cookies, fig spread, and a bonus gift!

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One of my favorite things from Krysty was this package of lemon thyme shortbread! Unlike most heavy shortbread, these were light and the lemon gave it a very refreshing taste!  And to top it all off, these were a local item for Krysty being made in St. Paul, MN!

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I also got a jar of Organic Adriatic Fig Spread.  This stuff is amazing!  It nice and firm and bursting with flavor.  I spread it on Spanish Manchego cheese and it was to die for!  I can’t wait to make my own fig newtons!

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Krysty also sent me a super awesome sparkly purple headband!  What I loved about this headband, apart from the color, was how tight it fit on my head.  I went on a two hour hike and it didn’t budge!  Thanks, Krysty!!

Check out Krysty’s blog and see what I sent her.

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Spring Cleaning in January

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It’s not officially spring yet, but it sure feels like it here in Phoenix!  It feels so good to go through everything and give things a deep clean.

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I decided I needed to organize my stuff when one day it took me 30 minutes to find what I was looking for.  I knew I had to get lots of small containers and picked up a bunch of inexpensive ones at Target and the dollar tree.  I also collected a bunch of old sour cream and cottage cheese containers for smaller things.

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The problem was that the lids were different colors and it looked very ugly!  So I spray painted them bright colors.

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What a difference it made!  Now I can find what I’m looking for in a flash.

Side by Side Slow Cooker Vegetarian Quinoa Balls and Meatball Marinara

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In my house we’ve got one vegetarian and one meat eater.  So, to keep both my husband and me happy, I’ve developed a number of side-by-side meat and vegetarian dishes.  This slow cooker marinara is excellent!  I cook the meatballs in the marinara and my husband says that the combination of meat and marinara makes a rich and satisfying flavor.  For my vegetarian Quinoa Balls, I prepare them in advance and then saute them right before we eat.  Delicious with french bread and red wine!

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Meatball Recipe

¼ cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
2 tablespoons skim milk
½  lb 95% lean ground beef

Marinara Recipe

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaf (one for each slow cooker)

Quinoa Balls

¼ cup dry quinoa
½ cup water
½ cup cooked green lentils
¼ cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons freshly chopped flat parsley leaves
2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ egg white
3 tablespoons olive oil

Other things you might need

Spaghetti noodles
Butter or margarine for noodles
Shredded Parmesan cheese
French bread

Meatballs

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In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, egg and milk and stir until well combined.

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Add meat and mix well.

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Okay, this is the gross part if you’re vegetarian.  Using your hands, form mixture into balls.  Add oil to pan and saute meatballs.

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Saute for a few minutes to add color.  There is no need to cook all the way through.  It will finish cooking in the slow cooker.

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Transfer the meat slow cooker.

Marinara Sauce

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Chop onions and garlic in food processor.

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Warm oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.

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Add onions and garlic and cook a few minutes until soft.

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Add canned tomatoes, paste, and sauce to a large bowl.

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Add seasoning and salt.

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Add cooked onion and garlic and mix well.

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Add fresh basil and mix lightly.

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Divide marinara sauce between two crock pots.

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Add a bay leaf to each crock pot and cook on low for about 8 hours.  You should stir sauce a few times to make sure the bottom is not burning.

Quinoa Balls

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The quinoa balls call for cooked green lentils.  If you don’t already have cooked green lentils on hand you will need to make them in advance.  First, rinse your dried green lentils well.  I picked these up from the dry grocery bins from my local Sprouts.  The lentils will expand as they cook, so keep this mind when you measure it out.  I made extra to eat separately later on.

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Add your rinsed lentil to a pan and then add twice as much water.  Bring to a boil and let simmer uncovered.

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Check on your lentils periodically and add water if too dry.  Let cook for 30-45 minutes or until soft.

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Okay, now you can start the vegetarian meatballs.  Start by rinsing the quinoa very well.

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Add quinoa and water to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is soft.  Then let quinoa rest for 10 minutes.

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While quinoa is resting, chop onions and garlic in food processor.

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Cook onions and garlic in oil until soft.

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Add fresh parsley and oregano and cook for one minute.  Set aside until quinoa is ready.

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In a large bowl mix together onion mixture, green lentils, quinoa, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, and egg whites.

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Mash mixture with the back of a spoon.

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Roll mixture into balls and refrigerate until ready for use.

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When you put the pasta water on the stove to boil, saute the Quinoa Balls on low for about 15 minutes.

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Turn Quinoa Balls frequently.  Mix with marinara sauce when pasta is done cooking.

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This is my new favorite spaghetti noodle.  This type is less starchy and the fact that it has extra fiber is an added bonus!  You can use whatever type of spaghetti noodle you like best.  Add butter or margarine to pasta if desired.

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Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.  Remember not to eat the bay leaf, but whoever gets it has good luck!!

Armour Etch–Is it really that easy? YES!

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Armour Etch looks too good to be true, but it’s not!  It takes only 60 seconds to apply and washes clean with only water!  The etching results are permanent.  Amazing!

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I hadn’t tried Armour Etch before, but I’ve seen it all over crafting blogs and Pintrest and I had to try it for myself!

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I bought the smallest size of Armour Etch they sold at Michael’s.  It’s a little expensive, but I used a 40% off coupon.

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The paste was thinner than I expected, but it was very easy to spread.  I was amazed that it only needed to be on the glass for 60 seconds!  Wow!

My Experiment

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I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this experiment, so I just used what I already had at home.  I used two spaghetti sauce jars and made mine own stencil using leftover contact paper.  I printed out an “S” from word and cut it out by hand using a craft knife.

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I followed the directions on the bottle and spread on a thick amount of paste using a craft stick.

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I rinsed off the Armour Etch after only 60 seconds.  Instant gratification!

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I was also surprised at how smooth the glass surface was.  I was expecting the etched area to feel rough!

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I would definitely recommend this product, it works great!  The most important thing is that you have a good stencil.  Contact paper wasn’t sticky enough and paste seeped under it.  Other craft bloggers have use vinyl and a cricket machine with amazing results!  Armour etch also sells stencils although I didn’t like the look of any of them.

PS.  I did not get paid for this review. If somebody out there wants to pay me, I’ll take it! 🙂

Museum of the Month–Cave Creek Museum

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This month’s museum is the Cave Creek Museum in Cave Creek, AZ. I hadn’t heard of this museum until I came across a free pass at my library as part of the culture pass program at Phoenix Library.

I am glad that I came across this little museum because it is charming!  Admission is $5 and it only take between 45 minutes and 1 hour to see everything.  Museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

If you have seen all the major Phoenix museums and are looking for something new, this is perfect for you!  It is located minutes from Cave Creek’s Pioneer Town which has many western shops and restaurants.  It’s makes a great outing for out of town visitors.  I took my parents there yesterday and we had a great time!

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When you get to the museum you will pass through a well maintained desert garden.  As you enter the museum, you will be greeted by one of the museum’s volunteer docents and he or she will orient you with the museum.

The museum is divided into 4 main sections: ‘Trails Thru Time,’ Pioneer Wing, Archaeology Wing, and the outdoor exhibits.

Trails Thru Time

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The Trails Thru Time portion of the museum includes exhibits about desert foothills medical history, vintage photography, Bolo ties, and desert ecology.

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This section of the museum also includes an area with turn of the century office equipment including this dictation Ediphone.

The Pioneer Wing

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This section of the museum includes exhibits about mining and ranching in the Cave Creek area.

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The Archaeology Wing

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The Archaeology wing displays prehistoric pottery, jewelry, tools, and much more!  It also covers the American Indian communities currently living in the area and demonstrates how their ancestors lived off the land.

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Outdoor Exhibits

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There are lots of other interesting things to look at outside the museum including an old gazebo and tons of old mill and farm equipment.

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You can tour the Cave Creek Museum Historic Church.

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Peer into Arizona’s last original Tubercular Cabin.

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The Cave Creek Museum has a gift shop with books, gifts, and locally made jewelry.

DIY Scented Paper Heart Confetti

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With colored crepe paper and a paper heart stamp you can make this elegant confetti for your tabletop or bedspread.

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Materials:

Crepe paper
Heart paper stamp
Thick junk mail
Perfume

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Take a thick piece of junk mail and wrap it around your crepe paper.

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This added thickness will make it easier to get a clean cut from your heart stamp.

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When you punch through the paper you will get three hearts.

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Put crepe paper hearts together and spray with perfume.  Do not spray too close to the paper or you will get saturation marks.

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Sprinkle your scented heart confetti on your bedspread for added romance.  Perfect for Valentine’s Day!!!

Turn an Old Soap Dispenser into a Plant Waterer

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I love finding new uses for my leftover containers and this is so practical!  It allows me to add a small amount of water to my indoor herb garden every morning without spilling a drop!

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Materials:

Empty soap container
Goo gone (if necessary)
Scissors
Rain on me print out
Pencil
Clear contact paper
Glue (I used spray adhesive)

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Clean out your empty soap container.  I ran mine through the dishwasher twice.  I still had some sticky residue on the front and back from the label and removed it with goo gone and elbow grease.

Rain on me download

Click on the above image and save to your desktop.

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Print it in color on regular paper or get it printed at your local printing center.

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Cut out paper to fit your soap container.

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Trace printout on the back side of the contact paper with a pencil.

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Cut contact paper about half an inch beyond your traced circle.

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Peel off the backing of the contact paper and attach printout.

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Trim contact paper if necessary.

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Attach to soap container with glue.  I used spray adhesive.

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Smooth your new label onto the soap container.

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Fill your new watering container with fresh water and you are ready to go!

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