Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I HEART...Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo

Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!

I love pasta. I should have been Italian! When I was single (and had free time), I even made my own fresh pasta. Yum... I have a lot less time these days, and so dried pasta will do just fine, thank you. I'm a pasta lover. Not a pasta snob!

When you're busy most every night of the week, it's important to have a stash of quick, go-to recipes that you can throw together in a matter of minutes. Breakfast at night is one of my favorites and one I go to often, but here's another that is quick and so good...Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo!

Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo

1 lb fettuccine noodles
8 oz heavy cream
1 stick butter
1 c Kraft Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Allow butter, cream and Parmesan to come to room temperature while water comes to a boil and pasta cooks. Cook noodles according to package. Do not overcook. Drain pasta when done and add cream, butter and cheese. Stir to melt butter and combine well. Season to taste. Sprinkle extra Parmesan on top. Serve immediately.

In the picture above, I served it with grilled chicken tenders, roasted asparagus with tomatoes and garlic bread. I had a little extra time that night. But you could serve just a bowl of pasta and bread. Or I've thawed a pound of frozen shrimp, sauteed them in a little butter and tossed them in. I've also added in artificial crab meat. Leftover rotisserie chicken would be tasty, too.

My family loves this! It's easier than making a white sauce and it's better quality than jarred alfredo! It really is quick and easy. And insanely good!

PS - In the coming days, I'll be sharing how to make the roasted asparagus with tomatoes. I know you don't usually have asparagus just lying around your refrigerator, but it's a really fast dish, too. And great for right now, when asparagus is on sale!


I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Monday, April 27, 2015

Vintage Paper Flower Garlands

Today I'm wrapping up the Miss Manners marathon party posts by sharing with you the craft that we made. Since I was hosting the older group of girls, I decided that we would try our hand at a more detailed project. I had seen something like these on Pinterest when I was planning the party, but I ended up mixing a couple of ideas to come up with the finished project - what I call "Vintage Paper Flower Garland". 

Here they are hanging from the top of my china hutch.
Aren't they sweet?

Side note - You can see my prized and treasured cache' of Friendly Village dishes by Johnson Brothers in my china cabinet above. If you haven't already, you can read about the steal! deal I made on these by clicking here.

I had set up our meal in my dining room, so I used my kitchen table as a craft area. I had everything set and ready to go when the girls arrived.

A place was set for each girl with all the supplies she would need, plus a set of written directions. See the colorful striped and dotted paper underneath the directions? These are just pieces of 12"x12" scrapbooking paper that I had laminated a while back. I used them a couple of years ago as placemats for a party and since they were laminated, I decided to keep them. They were the perfect size to serve as a work surface for each young lady. They protected my white linen tablecloth from the gluesticks, and when everyone was done, I wiped them down again and put them back into storage! I like the color they add to the table, too.

In the center of the table were four clear plastic 3-section dividers that I found at Dollar Tree. I use them a lot when I am crafting and need to keep things organized. They're pretty, cheap, stack to store and can be used in so many ways! A well-spent $4, I must say. These dividers held all the buttons, paper circles, twine, etc., that was needed to complete the garlands.

I used my Martha Stewart Scoring Table to score sheets of scrapbooking paper every 1/2", then I cut the sheets into strips 3" wide. There were seven different patterns. They were then able to easily fold the paper strips accordion style since I had already scored them. This took a little effort ahead of time on my part, but was crucial to allowing the girls to complete the flowers. The folded strips were formed into circles and we then added contrasting 1" and 1 1/2" rounds on top of that to cover the middle. We finished by tying pretty pastel buttons in the center. I had already cut lengths of twine and marked it with a black Sharpie so they would know exactly where to glue the flowers.

We had a smaller group than usual, and while we missed the others, it actually made it a little easier to work closely with the girls until they got the hang of it...which didn't take long! 

They all looked so pretty and Springy in their colorful outfits! Nancy and I had talked with the girls at one of our first parties about the importance of dressing appropriately for a party. We told them that the invitation will usually give clues as to what you should wear (no Sunday dresses at a barbecue, no shorts for a Spring tea, etc.). Often we will put the suggested dress on the invitation if there is any question. The girls really do enjoy dressing up! And the way you dress really does affect the way you behave.

This craft gave us a chance to brush up on threading a needle and sewing on a button.
Always great skills to have!

Even though each girl had the same supplies,
they chose to mix the patterns differently, so each garland was unique!

It took us a little over an hour to complete the craft,
but the girls stayed focused
and were really proud of their finished projects!

My niece, Annie, actually attended both parties that day.
I guess that's a perk when your aunt is Miss Manners,
and your best friends are your older cousins!

Here's a closeup of the finished project. Aren't they precious? Jewell hung hers on her dresser mirror and mine stayed on the china hutch until one of the moms called and asked if I'd tell her how to make them so she could use them for a graduation tea at church. Not only did I take mine down and loan it to her, I gave her the leftover supplies so she could make a couple more to use with mine and her daughter's. I'm glad the leftovers could be put to use! 

By the way - I have written out the directions, and if you'd like them, you can contact me and I'll email them.

Each girl was given a brown paper bag to carry home her garland, gardening gloves and clothespin chalkboard. I also let them pick several seed packets to take home and plant.

The two Miss Manners parties in one day were a tremendous success. Spring was celebrated and flowers were both made and planted!

Our next Miss Manners party is scheduled for June and we're planning a birthday party! I know you'll love seeing exactly what our young ladies are up to, but you'll just have to wait. But don't worry. There will be plenty going on in my neck of the woods before then!


I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

April showers bring May flowers...

We left off earlier this week with me hurrying home from Nancy's Little Miss Manners party to get ready for the older group at my house the same afternoon! When we were planning a few months ago, we had decided that we were going to host two parties in one day, but we really didn't discuss much more about the specifics. It's funny how our parties were so similar, yet so different! I guess great minds do think alike!

I found the graphics for my invitations on Pinterest and was able to have them printed at my local copy shop for less than $5. The flowers reminded me so much of the craft I had planned for us to do, that it just seemed meant to be.

Spring flowers were my focus while planning the party, and luckily, I stumbled onto a lot of cute gardening supplies at Dollar Tree back in February.  Pastel colored gardening tools, seed packets (4 for $1!) and colorful butterflies supplemented  my own plants, wicker pots and watering cans.

I love being able to decorate and set a beautiful table with things I either already own or can use again. It's so practical and economical! I don't feel guilty about buying party decorations when I know they'll come in handy again, like these garden trowels and cultivators.

A pack of pretty paper plates and napkins from Hobby Lobby matched my palette perfectly. (Say that three times fast!) Colored plastic cutlery was also inexpensive, but sturdy enough that I decided to wash it and save it to reuse one day. Classic items, like my recycled Starbuck's mocha frappe bottles and the vintage glass luncheon plates my aunt gave me as a wedding gift, show up at a lot of parties. They are the perfect way to add a little sparkle to a paper and plastic table setting. 

Guess what? As I cleared the table, I noticed that the paper plate "chargers" were spotless since the girls had eaten off the glass plates. I stuck them back in the package and tucked them away into my pantry closet where I keep leftover napkins and plates from the various parties I have. Often I have enough to use for another party or I will just pull out the mismatched extras when the kids want a snack outside.

The wider shot below shows two extra details. One - each girl got their own pair of gardening gloves to take home. They were laid under their napkins for extra color and texture. Two - I made a cute "carrot" for each girl by filling disposable icing bags with Cheetos and then tying it off with a green ribbon. It was part of their meal but I thought it looked so pretty doubling as a decoration!

The party was in the middle of the afternoon, so I didn't want to serve a heavy meal, but what's a party without food? I served party pizzas, fruit kabobs and yogurt covered pretzels along with the Cheetos "carrots". Lemonade is my go-to party beverage. My mom made party pizzas for us as we were growing up and they are always a hit. I've shared the recipe for them before and you can find it here. I've also given you the recipe for my famous "Almost Homemade Lemonade" and you can get it here. 

For dessert, we had individual Oreo Dirt Pies. Nancy made them for the younger girls, too, but while her recipe called for chocolate pudding, mine was a little different. I'll be sharing the recipe with you soon. I found the little clothespin chalkboards and felt flowers at Hobby Lobby. The chalkboards came in a pack of 6 for $1.99! The flowers were mere pennies. The flower pots came in a pack of 4 for $1 at Dollar Tree. With a little bit of time and imagination, decorations can be precious without breaking the bank!

Quick tip - I investigated the safety aspect of serving food in a terracotta pot. It is perfectly safe as long as the pot is unglazed. These were obviously new and unused pots, but I washed them in hot, soapy water. Warning - it took forever to rinse the soap away. The porous pot apparently absorbed the soap. I ended up opening up another pack of new pots.  This time, I washed them in hot water only, and used a clean brush to wash them. I will eventually use the pots washed with soap for planting, although I bet one good rain, and they'll lather up again!

The picture above also shows some trusty table coverings that you've seen before in different applications. Of course I  began with my white linen tablecloth, then I added a pink and white square accent cloth that I made a few years ago by putting a neat hem on a square piece of 60" decorator fabric. You last saw it here paired with red napkins when I made a special Valentine's Day dinner for my family. On top of that, you see a piece of green burlap. It was last used in a baby shower I hosted. You can read more about that here.  

I love the way layering linens looks. It adds depth, texture and color. It's so easy to make smaller cloths yourself, or you may find cloths on sale that are too small to fit your table but that are too good a deal to pass up. I have amassed quite a collection of table linens over time. I keep the napkins flat or rolled (so they don't permanently crease) in the drawers of the antique dresser I inherited from my grandmother. My tablecloths hang in the guest bedroom closet on the hangers you get from the dry cleaners which have a piece of round cardboard with a light adhesive on it to keep things from slipping. Again, it protects my cloths from creases. Someday soon, I'll take you on a tour of my linens so you can see how I manage them.

I hope you enjoyed a look at my tablescape for this spring flower party. I have to admit - It's one of my personal favorites! I'd like to invite you to come back in a couple of days to see the craft we made. It's really beautiful and I'll bet you'll want to make it, too!


I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Garden Tour

Last week, I showed you the specifics from inside the Miss Manners garden party that Nancy hosted at her home. As I mentioned, we had a little time left over before the moms picked up their girls. We decided a garden party wasn't complete without a tour of the yard! Here's what happened outside...

It's always an adventure exploring Dennis and Nancy's beautiful home and outside is no exception! Bunnies and Easter eggs were tucked away all over the yard!

When they bought their home a few years ago, they inherited a well-established lawn with all the trimmings. I think Dennis has told me that he has over 20 nandina bushes alone! Add to that roses, azaleas, daffodils and irises, and there is always something in season! Dennis took the girls around the yard to show them what was in bloom.

As you enter their backyard, you can't help but see what is definitely the centerpiece of the neighborhood. The leaves and ivy give way and you see a huge oak tree, so large it's branches spread over four yards! This tree - that Dennis guesses is close to one hundred years old - has been transformed into something magical...

They placed several garden gnomes and birdhouses around it and added a big "front door". Their two year old grandson loves to knock on the door to see if anyone is home!


The girls decided to give it a try, too. Unfortunately, they didn't get an answer. The gnomes were probably frightened away by all the giggling girls!

Isn't this a precious idea? Jewell has been inspired and has plans to build a fairy village in our pine trees. I'll keep you posted on how that turns out.

Well, it was a wonderful party! As soon as we finished our tour, I headed home to get ready for the older girls who were coming to my house that afternoon for their party. Check back later this week for details on Miss Manners Marathon Party Day - Part 2!


I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Miss Manners Garden Party

Nothing says Spring like a garden party. And what's better than one garden party? A pair, of course!

Nancy and I decided to host parties last Saturday for both the younger and older Miss Manners groups. I think we decided it might be easier to do it all in one day instead of tying up two Saturdays. (We may have quite possibly been out of our minds when we made that decision, but never the less) we planned, prepared and pulled off two parties in one day! Over the next week or so, I'll share highlights of both parties. 

We began the day at Nancy's home with a gathering for the younger group (1st-3rd grades). Nancy's invitation was precious. Her handmade cards are little works of art and such fun to receive. I know I was excited to get mine!

When the girls arrived, they found the carport set up with gardening supplies.

A potting station was set up and each girl had a pot,
gardening gloves and a sweet flower headband waiting for them!

Nancy's husband, Dennis, taught them how to handle the roots and the basic care of potted plants.

The girls each potted a marigold
and made a plant stake for their pot.

They really enjoyed getting their hands in the dirt!

Thanks to the gloves, there was minimal mess,
and after a quick hand wash, we moved inside for our lesson.

In keeping with the potting we just did, we talked about the importance of strong roots and focused on Colossians 2:7 which reads: "Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him. See that you go on growing in the Lord, and become strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught." (Yes, that's me - with my mouth open! As usual!)

After our lesson, we gathered in the dining room for lunch.

Nancy had prepared a box lunch for the girls which included flower-shaped ham and cheese sandwiches, fruit kabobs and butterfly-shaped pretzels. Lemonade and Oreo dirt cakes in flower pots rounded out the meal.

The girls chatted away as they enjoyed the company of friends!

I know you're wondering what was on the chalkboard behind the girls! It is always appropriately decorated for each and every party.

Dennis and Nancy's super talented daughter, Haley Scott, had decorated it for Easter and it worked beautifully for this Spring party as well!

As usual, I got distracted and forgot to take a group picture! I also wish I had taken a shot of what they got to take home. The cute green and white lunch baskets later served as a treasure chest for each girl as Nancy loaded it with their potted marigold, gardening gloves, headband and a packet of seeds.

We were lucky to have such a beautiful day for the party. We actually finished a little early and so Dennis took the girls on a tour of the yard. It was a garden party, after all!

Check back later this week for a peak at Dennis and Nancy's beautiful yard and the fun the girls had exploring it!


I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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