Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals: May

I'm so excited because today I finally get to reveal the contents of my Foodie Pen Pals package!
This was my first month participating in the Foodie Penpals program and I was beyond excited! Everyone gets one person to buy for and one person to receive from. I received my package from Bailey who blogs at 'Onederland or Bust' and I sent my package to Jenn.
I have so enjoyed the opportunity to get to 'meet' new friends. I always love adding new blogs to my reading list and I'm keen to follow Bailey's journey to her 5km next month (GO Bailey!! Go Bailey!!) and her weight loss journey too - she has such an awesome, upbeat way of writing.

Now onto the goodies! Bailey put together an awesome package for me.
  • Larabars - are always a favourite of mine but I got to try out a flavour I hadn't had before - the peanut butter choc chip.
  • Apple Butter made from her local Ontario Apples - this sounds fab (I've never had apple butter, but suddenly there's a pressing need to have a croissant for breakfast to smother this all over!).
  • Tomato & Basil Dip Mix- made from a lady at her local market which comes with the Bailey seal of approval.
  • Herbal tea (an interesting combination of lemon balm & honey which I've yet to try out)
  • Iced Vanilla Latte mix which sounds perfect and indulgent for a hot day (and hopefully we'll be getting a few of those soon enough!)
  • Chocolate - which disappeared within 30 minutes of opening the package - dh and I were needing a sweet snack after our day at work so it was pretty perfect timing!
  • Rice Chips - Yum-O!! Loved these snacks
Here’s a quick recap of what the Foodie PenPals program is:
  • At the beginning of each month, bloggers and blog readers receive their penpal pairing.
  • You have until the 15th of the month to send your package, and on the last day of the month you reveal the goodies you were sent :)
  • Packages are to be filled with foodie related items with a spending limit of $15. The box must also include something written.
  • As a penpal you are responsible for contacting your penpal regarding any dietary issues/concerns. (i.e. vegan, gluten-free, peanut free).
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian, and UK residents. US residents are paired with US residents. Canadian residents are paired with Canadians. And UK residents are paired with UK residents. That way there’s no delay dealing with customs and everybody (hopefully) gets their package on time.
Want to join? Head on over to Lindsay’s blog and you’ll find more details and a sign up form for the Foodie Penpals program.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Inspired Journey

I spent the last weekend in Los Angeles on an Inspired Journey, organized by the wonderful Ginger Nelson and Teresa Collins. I had been to their other big event - Inspiration Unlimited (IU) back in 2010 and now there's a huge wait list to get in again, but to help accommodate some of those poor wait list souls they introduced a brand new event - Inspired Journey. It was a third of the size of IU and held in Manhattan Beach, CA. We had 4 great classes - 2 by Teresa Collins, one by Sande Krieger and 7 Gypsies and finally one from Rebecca Cross of Pink Paislee. They were all so wonderful and different it would be hard to pick a favourite!

It's always difficult to explain to my family and non-scrapbooking friends what 'the point' of these events is. This event we took 4 classes. The teacher creates a complete project with instructions, we get given a class kit with all the supplies (papers, embellishments, stickers, ribbons etc) and we follow along in class. Sometimes you learn a new technique, more often it's playing with a new style - frequently I've created something totally out of my regular style and comfort zone and ended up loving it and using the concept again and again! What's so nice is that you come home with completed projects (well, in theory you do. There's often so much to put together we don't finish in class. Or you want to add photos later so you don't stick down all the embellishments until the photos are done!) One particularly great thing is getting to see and play with some of the latest releases from the manufacturers (many companies will bring out new lines twice a year) and of course the opportunity to shop at the on-site store!!. But the biggest 'point' of these events is the people. This is my fourth big scrapbooking event - I've been to Houston, Phoenix, Vegas and now LA over the last 5 years and by far the biggest and most important reason to keep going back is the friends I've met. I've met some wonderful, creative people who I stay connected with via the internet throughout the year, but there's nothing like catching up face-to-face. This year I realized that Anita and Paula who we sat with in class this year were actually at the event in Phoenix in 2009 and we'd participated together in some of the same swaps and corresponded on the event message board - this year we actually met in person!!

None of my projects are completely finished but I have plans and ideas brewing!!

This was the the class sample of the home decor piece that we created in Teresa's first class.
We had the blocks of wood and stuck them together, painted and decorated however we wanted (there was a full rainbow of paint colours, glitters and patterned papers so they all ended up different!). Then the original concept was to be a calendar display, so we also had the calendar pages and embellishments to decorate exactly as per the class sample. Once I saw the project I quickly decided I would want to use it as a mini chalk message board either on our kitchen counter or entryway table. So I painted mine black.I plan to distress it up a bit then paint one side with chalkboard paint. The other side I stuck pretty much to the class plan and cut out the calendar pages which then clip to the top. I've yet to embellish, and I might also use it to display a favourite photo or quote. But you get the idea. I loved wandering the room to see the variations on the theme - with the same 4 blocks of wood it's amazing just how different each one was turning out! It could seem easy to offend the teacher to want to do something different to the class sample but Teresa is so fantastic; she wanders the class gushing over all the variations and encourages everyone to 'make the project their own' - this one we had so much scope. Mine seems pretty boring really!!

The next project was by Sande Krieger using 7 Gypsies products. I've always loved their products - it's all vintage, steampunky style, but on my own I never know what to do with it all! Left to my own devices I'm a pretty clean and simple girl so layers, vintage, and messy inky edges just don't sit well with my OCD tendencies. However, here is someone that will lead me through making a completely gorgeous cute mini book perfect for a travel trip (uh, hello China trip?!) I LOVE it. The class was crazy fast but I hung on by the skin of my teeth, and finished off the hole punching in my room later that evening. Seriously this baby is ready to go...Now I have no excuse not to create a complete little mini book on our China vacation (and to think I was just about ready to not bother this year!) Just print the photos and stick on in...(Here is the link to the completed book that Sande did - it's so awesome!!)

On day 2 we had our second class with Teresa. It was a 7x9" binder with lots of decorated pages. Her favourite 'pink' made it's appearance.; truthfully it's not my style (can you imagine Chris and his bike on a nice pink page?!) But, again with a little playing around I picked out the blues and yellows, played down the pinks and ended up with yet another super cute mini book. (Oh, and the fact I'm going to be a furry parent to a beautiful little girl puppy dog in six weeks time will make the pink pill easier to swallow from here on in!!) So Meli's 'baby' book is waiting for her - all I need are the photos (well the puppy first I guess!!)

The inside pages;

Finally was a class project by Rebecca Cross from Pink Paislee. I followed this project to the tee. It was so different to anything else I've made. We used a file folder as our base then added in extra file folders cut into pieces to make extra flaps and pages. Difficult to describe and the photos don't do it justice - it's one of those great projects that you have to have in your hands to explore all the 'nooks and cranny's and textures! Again - finished except for the photos, and in our project kits a bunch of extra embellishments to bring home to add on when the photos go in for that finishing touch!

Finally, like I mentioned above. These events are about the people and the friends I've met. I'm amazingly bad at taking photos at these events so this is the only shot I've got. At the end of the evening, on our last night, after a few cocktails on the Hermosa Beach pier - Good times!!
Paula, Anita, Me, Florence & Melannie

Monday, May 7, 2012

Crockpot Pulled Pork

I've been in love with BBQ Pulled pork since our travelling days. We spent a couple of months in 'the Deep South' and I had some of the best, juicy exquisite pulled pork sandwiches known to mankind. The one that totally sticks out in my mind is Leathas in Hattiesburg, MS but we tried others along the way. Not owning a slow cooker for all these years stopped my own pulled pork making in it's tracks. But no more! I wanted to try and find a simple recipe that didn't rely too much on shop-bought sauces. And this one seems pretty good - and it's all stuff I had in the pantry anyway. It wasn't  really BBQ-y but it was certainly full of flavour. This time we served up a generous portion of the meat mixed with a little natural BBQ sauce (from our farmers market) onto wholewheat ciabatta buns and some homemade Asian red cabbage slaw on the side (only because red cabbage was all I had to hand!) Next week I've got Pork tacos on the menu so I'll skip the BBQ sauce and add some fresh salsa instead.

Dry Rub Ingredients (Do this the day before!)
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 pork tenderloin

Mix together all the dry ingredients and apply generously to the tenderloin. then refrigerate overnight.(I add all my dry ingredients to a large zip lock bag, give it good shake around then add meat, shake a little more and press rub into the meat - so easy and saves washing up!)
Sauce Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
Add all the sauce ingredients to the crockpot, together with your pork tenderloin and any leftover rub ingredients and cook on low for around 6 hours. It's good to go when you can easily pull the pork apart with a couple of forks.

So good and so easy!

*updated 15/5/12 - I had previously listed 3/4 cup cider but I made it again last night and that seems too much so I've reduced it and updated the recipe above - guess it depends on the size of your hunk of meat!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Project Life Blog Hop (& weeks 15 & 16)

Once again this month I'm participating in the Project Life Blog Hop hosted by Jill. Once you've visited here, your next stop on the blog hop is Jennifer
I'm not very good at remembering stories and writing them in - I'm still in the mindset that it needs to have a photo - which of course it doesn't! It's something I want to focus on in the coming weeks and months - record the stories and memories and stop sweating having the photo to match. Funnily enough Chris and I were talking only this week about the pressure to take photos. This is completely self-imposed pressure (and as a scrapbooker I think we're worse!) that we have to get 'that shot' and file away the memories. Right now our neighbourhood is amase of blossom in the fruit orchards (you name it we've got it here - apples, pears, cherries, peaches) Anyway...I'm driving through it every day to and from work, and I keep thinking that I must stop and take some photos while it's here. But really NO. I see it every day, God willing I'll see it every day for the 2 week window for many, many years to come and what's important is loving it and living in that moment and appreciating it every day I clap eyes on it. That's not to say photos aren't great, and I have some awesome blossom photos taken over the years. But if I'm not inspired or motivated to stop and take photos, then I need to let it go. It shouldn't be a 'chore'. What I do know is I appreciate and love it every day. And that's good enough for me. (And maybe, for a change write down my thoughts rather than take the photo. When we look back on these PL albums a good old fashioned 'story' or memoir mixed in with the photos will be quite lovely.)

Anyway, that's just my little rambling thoughts there. Fairly unrelated to the next couple of weeks of PL. Without further ado here are weeks 15 & 16 (I'm running about a week behind right now, which I'm completely cool with!)

Week 15

What can I say? I still LOVE this project. Some weeks I'm finding it harder to 'fill' - my week 16 spread is a case in point. (Notice there's a few filler pockets with some PL cards and patterned paper.) I find that the Smash journal cards are awesome fillers. I have the entertainment themed pad and there's some great pages to jot down favourite music, blogs, playlists, restaurants - a great way to get some of those items recorded in a fun and easy way - AND a great filler when you're short on content! - Fun to look back on those sort of things and see how much your tastes change! (although actually the music I've listed on my note here I don't think has changed in the last 2 decades - I'm pretty old school when it comes to my music - seriously Purple Rain was my favouorite ever song back in my University days and the Eric Clapton concert was at the Royal Albert Hall in London. (My Uncle and Aunt had got tickets months in advance, but when the time came my Aunt had got pregnant and wasn't keen on going anymore so I went instead - my cousin is now 18!) Anyway, it's a good idea in theory...!

Week 16
And if you have the time stop by all the participants on the blog hop; for some more PL inspiration!;


Thanks to Jill for hosting!
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