Thursday, January 30, 2014

Love Letter - Altered Cabinet Card

Isn't he a handsome devil!  Wouldn't you love to be his one true love?  
This is my altered cabinet card for a BlissfulART swap.  I wanted it to be al things romantic, roses, lace, love letter and the heart is made of red seed beads. 
My favorite part of this creation is my handmade rose.  Isn't it just gorgeous, almost as soft and lovely as the real thing.  I made some extra and you can purchase them in my Etsy store or make your own from some of the seam binding I have in my shop.
If you are visiting from the Grow Your Blog Hop, thanks so much for stopping by.  You can view my original post HERE.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Munchies: French Onion Steaks and An Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

Welcome to Monday Munchies where I share my experiences with various cookbooks and magazines.
If you are visiting from the Grow you Blog hop, welcome!  My Grow Your blog hop with a giveaway is HERE.
Today I am going to share a success and well, a not so pretty success out of my Cuisine at Home magazine.  This is their free sample issue, which did it's job, I have now re-subscribed.
 French Onion Steaks with Cheese Toasts
This is an updated version of Salisbury steak that was very simple and earned 4 stars from all family members.  The girls didn't eat the onions but that was fine with Mr. Glitter Tart and I, we loved them.

For the Steak-
1 1/4 lb. ground chuck
1/4 cup mined fresh parsley (I substituted dry)
2 Tbsp. minced scallions (I used regular onion chopped very small)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
For the Sauce-
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 cups sliced onions
1 tsp. sugar
1Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. tomato past (mine had Italian seasoning in it)
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup dry red wine (I used Cabernet sauvignon)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
It also called for Minced Fresh parsley and Shredded parmesan as a garnish, I omitted these.
Combine ground chuck, parsley, scallions, salt and paper.  Divide evenly into four portions and shape each into a 1" thick oval patties.  Place 2 Tbsp. flour in a shallow dish, dredge each patty in the flour. (reserve 1 tsp. flour)
Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add patties and sauté 3 minute son each side or until browned.  Remove from pan.
Add onions and sugar to the pan and sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and tomato paste and sauté until paste begins to brown (about 1 minutes).  Sprinkle mixture with reserves 1 tsp. flour and cook 1 minutes.  Stir in broth, wine, salt and thyme.
Return meat to pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Serve steaks on cheese toast with onion sauce ladled over. 
Our favorite part was the Cheese Toasts.
you will need
4 slices baguette cut diagonally
2 Tbsp. butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
Pinch of paprika
1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place bread on a baking sheet.  Combine butter, garlic and paprika and spread on the bread.  Sprinkle each cheese evenly over the butter and bake until bread is crisp and cheese is bubbly.  about 10-15 minutes.

 While the French Onion Steaks were a success the Old-Fashioned Cake had some serious issues.  I knew right away that there were a few things wrong with the recipe but decided to follow it to the t simply to share the final result here.
You will need:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. table salt
2 cups hot water
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used butter)
2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the center.  Spray two round cake pans with nonstick spray.
Combine together water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Whisk together (I used a mixer) flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and alt.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.  Divide the batter evenly and bake 30 -40 minutes.
Cool cakes on a rack for 15 minutes. (here is where things went south) Then invert them onto a rack.  Leave the cakes upside down (this supposedly flattens domed cakes (NOT) to cool completely.
As you can see from the image below the cakes cracked badly and then never got "flattened".  My suggestion is to cool then place on rack right side up and slice off the extra to make the cakes smooth.
 The next issue came with the frosting.
Glossy Chocolate Icing
1 Stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream (I was out so used Greek yogurt)
1 tsp. instant coffee granules
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa and salt.  Combine heavy cream, sour cream and instant coffee in a large measuring cup, mixing until smooth.  Gradually add cream mixture to chocolate until blended and smooth.  Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch, 6-8 minutes.  Do not boil.
The problem with the 6-8 minutes is that the frosting never gets thick enough. 
Off of the heat add the vanilla and cool icing to room temperature until spreadable 2-3 hours. 
After 3 hours my frosting was still in the pourable phase, so that's what I did, I poured it over my lumpy cake. 
Despite the cracked cakes and runny frosting the flavor was there.  Next time I will cool my cakes my way and heat my frosting until it has thickened (then probably whip it a bit also).
So what have you been cooking?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grow Your Blog 2014 ~ With a Giveaway!
Before we get started I would like to thank Vicki for hosting this wonderful blog hop.
Hello and thanks for stopping by my blog. 
I'm Caroline, a jack of all trades, I share that here on my blog.  My post are a smattering of art, food and book reviews, my three loves.
 Today I am giving away this wall hanging.  I created it just for this hop!  All you have to do is leave a comment and a way for me to contact you. 
I will draw a name on February 15th..
 A little about my art.  I love to share my creations and offer many of them for free in my Etsy Shop.
 I am not dedicated to a particular style, I like to try new things and mix it all together.  This year I am trying to make a video tutorial every month.  You can see all my video tutorials on YouTube. You can also click on the Tutorial Tab and it will take you to all of my tutorials.

When I'm not in my studio or reading I love to cook.  This year I have started a series of posts that I'm calling Monday Munchies.  These are not original recipes (which I do share also) but reviews of recipes from the plethora of cookbooks I have in my home.  I offer tips and tricks to making them work or just flat out changes.  
I would love it if you joined by just leaving a comment. 
And that brings me to my passion for books.  I read and review all different genre's and am a member of two book clubs. 
Well that's me in a nutshell.  Please follow me on my blog, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter
 Thanks for stopping by, I look forward to meeting you.

Friday, January 24, 2014

They Danced by the Light of the Moon by Tempa Pagel

Andy Gammon, a former Detroit social studies teacher living in (but not always fitting into) a quaint New England town with her Yankee husband and two children, can't help getting involved whenever history meets mystery. Add in a couple of prime specimens of 19th century architecture-Andy's other passion-and she can't resist sneaking through back hallways of a Victorian grand hotel and crawling through the underground tunnels of a derelict Gothic insane asylum as she seeks answers to why a woman was killed at the Grand Hotel of the Atlantic on the night of the reopening gala, why another woman disappeared from that same room a century ago, and what connection may exist between the two.

They Danced by the Light of the Moon is Tempa Pagel’s second book in the Andy Gammon series. If you enjoyed Here’s the Church, Here’s the Steeple, you will love this one. The story, brimming with haunting intrigue, memorable characters, and a wealth of expressive detail, travels back and forth between the familiar, modern world and an early 20th Century coastal New England brought uniquely to life.
Pagel takes the reader back to 1901 when Marguerite Miller, torn between family duty and a keen desire for independence, is sneaking out of her room in an elite New Hampshire hotel. A quick shift to the present sees Andy attending the grand re-opening of the hotel over a hundred years later. Echoes of Marguerite’s legendary disappearance begin to haunt Andy, a onetime social studies teacher and now frequent sleuth, and her mother-in-law sidekick. In no time these two stumble onto a murder that takes place in the very room from which Marguerite disappeared.  Too much of a coincidence? The sleuthing duo thinks so – and quickly become haunted by the past and its now disputed cultural beliefs, as they struggle to understand its imprint on the present day murder.  The plot is stimulating; the writing, perky and well-paced in the present, is almost dream-like in the past making for enigmatic transitions.  Pagel effectively weaves the mysterious past with an old fashioned, present day whodunit for a very satisfying read as perfect for a dreary winter day as it is for a visit to the beach. 
This review is by my mother.  I read Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple, a number of years ago and enjoyed it.
"The scent of Lady Frederick's perfume lingered behind her, as pungent as crushed frangipani petals, in the confined cabin.  Shaking his head to clear it, like a sleepwalker slapping himself into wakefulness, Alex forced his attention to his writing desk..."
Page 56 of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. This is book 6 in one of my favorite series, they don't have to be read together.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sea Siren's Journal Entry

 I was doing a cleaning up on my camera's memory stick and I found these pictures.  How could I have forgotten to post about Penny's Journal?  Well, better late than never right?
 Penny wanted everyone to create a sea themed page.  You know I loved this one!  So I dove right for my favorite images from Alpha Stamps, these images are from the Caribbean Blue Mermaids Collection.
 I was not and still am not pleased with how the background color turned out.  I was trying to match the color in the images but never got it quite right. 
 I love it when I can use things that have been sent to me by group members.  The Glittered Swirls were a gift to me by our fearless leader.
 I made a few seam binding flowers, using real shells for the centers.  You can purchase seam binding in my Etsy store.
 To complete my page I added some stones, leaf ribbon and a few paper fish. 
 We've already started our next journal rotation.  Mine isn't much to look at yet.  This year I decided to create a shadow box that everyone could add to.
I didn't do anything real artistic, just added the paper, ribbon and these flowers which I did age a bit.  I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone adds and what direction this goes.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No Sew Ribbon Doll Tutorial

 You've seen then around, Ribbon Dolls.  Today I am going to show you how to make one without breaking out needle and thread.
 All the supplies I used to create this Ribbon Doll Wall Hanging can be found at Alpha Stamps.
There is a complete list of supplies and tools needed to create this piece on the video.
She is available in my Etsy Store along with many shades of Seam Binding

Thanks for stopping by. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Munchies: Shrimp Gumbo

Mr. Glitter Tart had a hankering for Gumbo last week.  I've never made Gumbo so it was off to the internet to search out the best recipe. We decided on an Alton Brown, Mr. Glitter Tart's favorite food network chef.
But when I got into the cooking process I realized that I wasn't following his recipe at all.  I did however make my roux the way he suggested. I say make, not the same ingredients.
For my roux:
4 oz butter
4 oz flour
Place the butter and flour into a 5 to 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process.
This is the color of my roux at the end of the cooking time.
Gumbo Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds shrimp (I had to use frozen it's all that was available) 
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced green peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I didn't need this because my chicken stock was homemade)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 pound okra cut into bite sized pieces

Once the roux is done, remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, green peppers and garlic and cook, moving constantly for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Gradually add the broth while whisking continually. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Add the shrimp and sausage and stir to combine.  Cover and let cook on low for a while, I did about 2 hours . Turn heat up and add the okra, cook for about 30 minutes. Serve over rice.
Mr. Glitter Tart 5 stars
Me 4 1/2 stars (a bit salty for me)
Kudzu 4 stars
Stinkabeth did not eat it, took one look at it and decided "ewww"
So what have you been cooking?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

True Love - A Postcard?

 It's postcard sized so that's what I'm going with.   However, you can't drop it in the mail or write a message on the back (not a long one at least).
 The heart is ice resin so you can see right through it. I used the same process as I did on my Perfume Bottle Resin tutorial but instead of little glass spheres, I added some flecks of silver to spice it up.
 The bird is paper clay, painted white and glittered, after all what bird doesn't want to be coated in glitter.  It is meant to look like he is holding the "True Love" banner.
 Of course it has a fabulously romantic couple (True Romance Collage Sheet from Alpha Stamps).
This is the back, just enough room to write your lover a little message.
I made two of these (because I am always worried about how the ice resin will cure) and they both turned out so I have this one for sale (super cheep) in my etsy store along with some other Free Valentines day art.  So please stop by.
I'm linking up with Manopopjes Paper Saturday, come check out all the wonderful art.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church's red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.

Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter.

As the story moves back and forth in time, through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, the ever inquisitive and tender-hearted Sylvie pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night, as she comes to terms with her family's past and uncovers secrets that have haunted them for years.
I can't quite put my finger on this book.  It could be classified as a mystery, Gothic thriller or general fiction.  The fact that this book could be classified in so many genres might have something to do with why I don't really know how I feel about the book.  There are just too many different things going on and I don't think any thread was particularly well developed.
The story is told through the eyes of a sixteen year old girl, Silvie.  There are two storylines, the present day and everything leading up to her parents murder.  She has a strong voice but I don't feel like she grew in any way.  That may have to do with all the jumping back and forth in time.
I had the opportunity to chat with the author and learned that the book is loosely based on the Warren's.  I knew nothing about this couple so it was fun to learn something new.  The Warren's are the family that the movie The Conjuring was based on. 
My need to find out who murdered Silvie's parents kept me reading, without this element I'm pretty sure I would have put the book down.  Once I start a mystery I just have to know 'who done it.' When the book finally got around to this it felt rushed.  Many of the elements that pulled it together seemed outlandish and unneeded to make the story believable. 
In the end there was just too much left up in the air for me.  There was never a definitive answer on any of the paranormal aspect of the storyline.  It was left up to the reader to decide what they believe. 
I'm linking up, come join us! 
 photo ArtatHomeButton_zps18898da7.jpg
I started Gone Girl yesterday.  I'm not thrilled that this book was selected by our book club.  Last year I read He's Gone and didn't care for it much.  Many of the reviews of He's Gone said it was just a re-write of Gone Girl.  But I'm giving it a try.
 I'm using this book to participate in
"I like to think I am confident and secure and mature enough to know Nick loves me without him constantly proving it.  I don't need pathetic dancing-monkey scenarios to repeat to my friends; I am content with letting him be himself."
From page 56
So what are you reading?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Love Letter Writer

I've created some more pages for the Alpha Stamps Lovesick-A Sweetheart book Swap.  There is still plenty of time to join. 
I am absolutely head over heals for the Love Letters Paper set.  There are so many lovely images that the paper seems more like a collage sheet to me than decorative paper.
A complete list of the supplies I used can be found HERE
Don't forget to check out my Etsy Store.  I've got new seam binding colors uploaded and will have some more art in there soon.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Happy List: First full week of the New Year

It's the first full week of the New Year and mine is starting off pretty good.  Girls are back in school, it's freezing and I'm catching up on some work.  While those things all make me happy there are a few things that really stand out this week. 
1.  I received a FREE issue of the latest Cuisine at Home magazine.  Of course I received it because they want me to subscribe again but hey, I'll take it.  I haven't had a chance to sit down and crack the spine but the easy-to-prepare midweek meals sound right up my alley.

2.  My oldest leveled up in her reading again!  The whole level thing kind of has me confused.  She is now on level H and the goal for students at this point in time is a G.  So yahoo she is ahead of the game!
3.  I'm going to get a year older this week and Mr. Glitter Tart keeps teasing me with an "blow your mind" birthday present.  I can't wait to find out what it is. 
4.  I received a birthday card from my oldest friend!  I love that she still remembers when my birthday is, it makes me feel so special.
5.  I finished another pretty decent book.  But the really cool thing is I am going to be chatting with the author this week at the library book club I am a member of!
6.  I have been accepted to a new swap hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps!  A Book swap with bloggers.  I've done a number of book swaps but never with bloggers.  I am excited to get to know the other bloggers taking part.  Now I need to go spruce up my wish list.
All in all I'd say I'm a pretty lucky girl to start the year off like this.  What has made you happy?