August 31, 2016

Joy in a Jar! | Mason Jar Salads

Here's a sad truth.  Most days, as I am trying to crunch eight hours of work into a five hour day, a few things go to the wayside- like a semi-healthy lunch.  I have been know to go without lunch-or have cold coffee from the morning along with whatever candy or cookies I could forage from the school snack drawer or just have cereal.  It's not a pretty picture- and I'm sure borders on looking a bit cro-magnon. This is not brain food- and is most certainly not happy food.

So, I decided to bring a few on my Pinned recipes to life, and jump into the world of Mason Jar salads.  To really understand how I tackled this- you need to know this about me- I loath vegetables. Since forever- I really REALLY can't stand veggies and most definitely can not eat a a leftover salad.  With any hint of wilt- I am losing my cookies- so, I thought finding joy in a mason jar salad would elude me- like a pretty, layered, healthy unicorn...

Ah, but friends, I was wrong! Yummy, crisp, kind-of veggie free mason jar salads do exist- and they are in my fridge right now! 

I have only been at this for a few week- but here are some tips and tricks I have learned-

If you are just making a salad for you- go with the pint and half jars.  ( I got mine for a great price at Target) If you are going to share the salad (sometimes I pull out a ready made masterpiece at dinner-) the go with the quart size.  Yes- all the jars you see on Pinterest are quarts- but trust me on this- it's really a lot to eat for one. 

Don't make a million at once.  These guys stay crisp, bright and awesome for four days.  By day five- meh. 

Make two types at the same time.  Anymore will be a crazy hot mess in the kitchen.

Clean your counters and set aside about 20 minutes to prep- (make sure your jars are cleaned and dry before you begin.)

Pay attention to you layers. Many images of salad jars you see on Pinterest are not in the right order.  This is not an OCD or aesthetic issue- layering the right way is what keeps your salads flavorful, crisp and fresh.

The correct order to layer is this:
  • Dressing goes on the bottom
  • Crisp items you want to marinate in the dressing go next- (think: tomatoes, red onion, peppers, celery, olives, - these form a barrier to protect the other items from getting soggy. These goodies will marinate in the dressing and pick up alot of that flavor- 
  • Next- less crunchy goodies- like beans, artichoke hearts, corn, mushroms, fruit, avocado, guacamole, sliced eggs
  • Pastas and grains go next if your using them
  • Then proteins- you need these to make the salad filling.  Think: beef, chicken, tuna, cold cut pinwheels, cheeses
  • Finally, lettuce.  I really like iceberg or the chopped bag salads that have cabbage, Kale, carrots, radishes in them.  I haven't loved spinach salad or oft lettuces because I think they get a little mushy.  But that's my personal taste. The lettuce always goes on top. Don't trust any photos you may see saying otherwise. 
Here's a helpful image I found on The Two Bite Club blog (here) 
To date, I have made four different salads- and the trick is to make 2 at a time, and have everything chopped and in baggies before you start. This way, you can have an assembly line- and bag up any leftovers easily.  I cook up one pack of beef for my taco salads, and about 6 chicken tender strips for salads that have chicken.

Macho Taco Salad with Guacamole
sothwest ranch dressing
chopped cherry tomatoes
black beans- cold from the can
guacamole (topped with a splash of fresh lemon juice)
corn cold from the can
cheddar cheese
cooked taco beef- well cooled
tortilla strips.

*the guacamole stayed bright and happy with the lemon juice.  And no- I didnt mind the meat cold- it was really yummy!)

Chef Salad
creamy blue cheese dressing
cherry tomatoes chopped
sliced hard boiled egg
ham and turkey- sliced thin rolled into a log together and cut into pinwheels
pumpernickel croutons

* I liked the blue cheese- but may play with a vinaigrette next time

Chicken Apple and Poppy-seed Salad
poppy-seed dressing
green apples topped with a splash of fresh lemon juice
red grapes, halved
crumbled blue cheese (*goat cheese or cheddar could work too!)
chicken- grilled, cooled and sliced
chopped pecans

Chicken Cobb Salad
Blue cheese vinaigrette
chopped cherry tomatoes
chopped celery
chicken- grilled, cooled and sliced
bacon- cooked and chopped
blue cheese crumbles

* I might add sliced avocado next time

Finally, keep in mind, these photo's were taken when I used the big jars- now I am using the pint and a half jars- and my salads look like this:

Next up- I will make a Mediterranean tuna salad- and I'll let you know how that goes ;)

If you guys would like to see a video of this beautiful mess process- let me know in the comments and I will put one together for you!

August 12, 2016

Pushing pause on Summer | My August Bucket List

It's August.  The back to school supplies have been bought, I see a few leaving already dropping from the trees in my backyard and the Pumpkin pins have already popped into my Pinterest feed.  There's no denying that these are the last few days of summer vacation. But you know what- I'm NOT going down without a fight, because folks, as the great Yogi once said- "It ain't over till it's over!"

At the risk of seeing a bit manic, I have decided to pull together a bucket list of things to do to hold on to these last days of slowed down bliss before the fast pace of September:

  • Ambush the boys with an all out water-balloon WWIII ( I have about 300 ready fill balloons that I refuse to carry into the winter as memories of I wish I had... I am filling those babies up!)
  • Tie dye some shirts as souvenirs of summer 2016
  • Make a time capsule and bury it to open next summer
  • Start a new habit this month that will make the next few months easier
  • Check out a summer movie in the park or catch a scary midnight movie- or both!
  • Squeeze in a few more beach days
  • Wear my favorite summer outfits for no reason at all- that pretty shirt shouldn't be shut away waiting for next year's parties! I'm going to celebrate today! 
  • Have ice cream Sundays for dinner
  • Ride a carousel
  • Do everything the little guy does for a day- get in the pool, run through the sprinkler, draw on the sidewalk, blow bubbles and just be silly
  • Enjoy a glass bottle of Coke
  • Have a photo scavenger hunt
  • Do a random act of kindness
  • Go for a midnight swim
  • Catch a summer carnival
  • Check out the summer sky at the local planetarium
  • Have a summer movie all night marathon
  • Fill the house with bright happy sunflowers
  • Have a picnic, bring bubbles and comics and just watch the clouds- maybe bring a stuffed friend for one last teddy bear picnic before the little guy gets too old.
  • Have dinner out with the big guy before he starts college. *sigh*
  • Make summer recipe I haven't tried yet
  • Get a HUGE canvas and paint outside
  • Wear Hawaiian shirts and go bowling
  • Drive to a new farmers market and get the last of the sweet corn
  • Print out my summer photos so I can relive these sweet memories again and again

How about you? Any things you home to do before summers turns to crisp Autumn? I'd love to hear them- and maybe add a few of your ideas to my list!

August 5, 2016

NEW in the Shoppe | SLOW & STEADY

Around here, the turn of the calendar page to August can't help but remind me that summer is winding down. *sigh.  I am working hard to get the days to last a little longer before we get back to the fast pace of school days, and that sentiment has worked it's way onto my drawing board this week in the new collection SLOW & STEADY.

It's full of sweet little turtles and sentiments to remind us that slow and steady really is the way to go when you want the joy to last just a bit longer. 

You'll find the papers and pretties separately as part of the beautiful BYOC collection at the Lilypad this month- and can enjoy Buy More Save More savings- but I've given my fans another way to save as well!  Since the Quarterly sale is just a week away- and the whole shop will be 30% off- I wanted to be sure this was the very best time to add the new design to your supplies.  So, I have bundled the pieces together in a hidden page and discounted them to 35% off this weekend only! 

*To shop the bundles savings  [ click here ] - to see the pieces separately, click on the graphic below. 

and- here's a peek at what we have in store for you this month at the Shoppe!

July 24, 2016

BEHIND THE DRAWING BOARD | Getting (emotionally) ready for college

I'm a the type of person that is pretty easy to read.  Pretty much because I leave a trail of emotional breadcrumbs all over my art boards and will pretty much spill out my heart to all who care to indulge me ;) 

These days, I have been very mindful that in just 2 turns of the calendar page, my older guy will be starting college.  One day I will be on cloud nine with excitement for all the wonderful stories and journeys he is about to have- and the next, I may be hurting a bit for my little boy lost. And, lets be honest, a few days I have an inner madwoman raging inside who wants to squash the teen beast that cant seem to put clean clothes in his drawer- let alone a separate pile away from the filthy ones on his floor. I am, to say the least a multifaceted emotional mess- but it all comes from a place of love, right? 

This week, while at my drawing board I was definitely feeling the love for the new adventure we are about to embark on as a family.  Hidden in the design (called LOST AND FOUND) is a message of enjoying the journey, even if you don't really know where its going to lead you.  Getting happily lost is an awesome way to find things! So, even though we have been writing hundreds of lists as we get ready for school- I wanted my guy to know it's absolutely fine not to plan for everything- and to know that sometimes the side roads have the best views- to be an adventurer, a happy, enthusiastic, live in the moment with eyes wide open adventurer the next few months- and to encourage my little guy to hold on tight to the wonder he has. It's the joy of youth- for sure, and I don't think you can ever grow too old for it! 

It's not often I make the time to play with my designs during their premier, because there is just so much "business" to take care of in their release.  But this design had my heart- and scrapping is cheaper than therapy! here are a few layouts I made- 

What's next on the drawing board? I'm not sure- but you can bet it will be something near and dear to my heart! 

See you soon!

July 1, 2016

New in the Shoppe | Summertime Blues

July! It's July!! I feel like THIS weekend is the official start of summer! School, graduation and the the accompanying drama is behind me, the pool and beach have become to warm up and the days have begun to slow down.  Good stuff!
It's also Fourth of July weekend, where we here in the States celebrate so many things that we hold dear- and you are bound to catch me tearing up as they play Patriotic songs during the fire works show.  And to all my Military friends and family out there- here is a big huge thank you for all you do and sacrifice to help keep this the beautiful land that I love! 

So, wondering what fun I have planned in the shoppe this weekend? There is a terrific BYOC going on at the Pad- and I have a new design called SUMMERTIME BLUES- which is ironically,  a very upbeat design! But the blue batik patterns deserved a call out of there own- so there it is!

It's being introduced in the ForeverJoy shoppe at 20% off list price today through Sunday evening and is part of the Buy-More Save More BYOC promo- but I have another option for you as well. You can purchase the design bundled together as a kit here FOR JUST $4.99, which is more than 30% of the list price!   In fact- the savings go on! I have put ALL ForeverJoy Summer Kits on Sale this weekend! *Just keep in mind, the Summertime Blues kit and other Summer Kits on sale are not part of the Buy More Save More promo.

New in the Shop | Patio Daddy-O

Just in time to celebrate Dads, Grill-masters and good times around the BBQ, PATIO DADDY-O is cookin' up some retro styled fun in the shoppe! It's full of retro styled fun and Word Art that are sure to become a Summer stash fave!