27 July 2010

Works in progress

Here is a little sneak peak at what I've been working on as of late.  A few sets of beads basking in the sun.  These lassies have all been sanded using 400 and 800-grit sandpaper, glazed 3 times and are now ready to be strung.  I'm just awaiting a few more essential findings. 


14 July 2010

Where i've been

Oh my, it's been over one whole month since I've posted.  Yikes!  My only excuse is that I have been busy- very busy doing lots of things to post about.  

First off, I got accepted to my very first craft fair!  When I read the letter of acceptance, I was literally jumping up and down with giddiness.  I don't think I had been that excited since I found out I was accepted into graduate school five years ago.  But my excited spirit was quickly upstaged when reality sunk in- I had a lot of work ahead of me.  I'm talking an insane amount of work.

For the past few months I've been hard at work making beads for my polymer clay jewelry, working out possible designs in my sketch book, creating a bracelet for a friend of mine to wear on her honeymoon, reading as much as I can about selling at craft fairs and cutting up fabric for the totes and bags I plan to sell.  

Until this fair is over, at the end of August, our apartment is off limits to guests.  Polymer clay, beading supplies, a sewing machine and a huge tub of fabric have taken up permanent residence in our tiny living room until then.  My dad came to visit a month or so ago and I was ashamed at the cluttered living room but really, where to put it all?  

Despite my anxiety in getting everything accomplished, I am really looking forward to this event.  It is a Celtic Festival at Spyglass Ridge Winery, a winery nestled in Pennsylvania's picturesque Susquehanna River Valley- just a short distance from where I grew up.  I attended the festival last year as a guest with my parents and family friends.  We spent the day tasting great local wines and listening to very talented Celtic performers.  I thought the venue, which also hosts many craft vendors, would be a good one to start with.  Keep your fingers crossed in the hopes that I was right.

I also sneaked a little traveling in.  Dan and I took a road trip to Lake Lure, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, to spend a long weekend with my parents who were vacationing there.  After ten hours of driving, a six hour stop in a hotel to sleep for the night, and our first Waffle House ever, we arrived.

And we had a really lovely and relaxing time at a gorgeous lake where, among other movies, Dirty Dancing - one of my all time favorite movies - was filmed.  Yes, I channeled my inner Francis "Baby" Houseman for this trip.  

I'd like to share more photos from our holiday but I don't want to overload you with images- I'll save them for another post.

A few weeks later I took a much needed visit to Pittsburgh to see my younger sister. 

She took me to my very first weekend long music festival. (Yes, I am a depraved near-30 year old woman) The weekend was hot- we donned huge sunglasses, sun dresses and floppy hats- but it was  an incredible time where I met her wonderful friends and listened to some very talented musicians.  I will have more photos to post of this weekend as well once I get my D.I.Y. 35mm rigged Diana photographs developed. *fingers crossed they turn out well* :)

13 July 2010

Chicken Taco Casserole

For sometime now, and I am sure it is due to the five heat waves we've been hit with, Dan and I have been craving tacos.  I wasn't in the mood to deal with all of the prep work involved in making tacos (which, to be honest, is minuscule), so I set out to make a little chicken taco casserole, inspired by this recipe I found after doing a quick Google search.  The photo looked very appetizing but it was the  6-ingredient list that sold me.  So, I made a mental list of all that I needed and headed off the the grocery store.  I intended to replace the jar of pasta sauce (which is probably tasty but seems sort of strange to me to be in a Mexican dish) with some sort of prepared enchilada sauce. Unfortunately, the can of enchilada sauce was nearly $5, so I grabbed a can of tomatillos and figured we'd work something out.

Chicken Taco Casserole 
inspired by this Cheesy Chicken Taco Casserole

1.5 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Taco seasoning of choice 
Salt and pepper 
9 (5-inch) corn tortillas (or 6, if like mine, yours are larger)
1 cup chopped cilantro
Taco Sauce (recipe to follow)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese (8 oz.)
2 tomatoes, sliced

1 can of tomatillos, drained
1/2-1 cup of your favorite salsa
1/3 cup of sour cream (more of less to suit your taste)
zest and juice of one lime
1 tablespoon of chili powder (again, more or less to suit your taste) 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper and 1/4 of taco seasoning package. Place in a skillet and add cold water to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, turning once or twice, until opaque and firm, about 10 minutes. 

While chicken is cooking, make sauce. In a blender, puree tomatillos, lime zest and juice, salsa, sour cream, and chili powder.  Taste test and experiment with ingredients until you reach the flavors desired.  Set aside.

Once chicken has finished cooking, remove (reserving approximately 1/2 cup of seasoned water), let cool and cut into small pieces or shred. You should have about 3 cups cut-up chicken.  Pour chicken back into skillet with the water you reserved and add your remaining package of taco seasoning.  Mix together.

Spread one-third of sauce over bottom of a 7-by-11-inch baking dish. Arrange 3 tortillas, slightly overlapping, on top. Sprinkle one-third of chicken and cilantro over tortillas. Top with a third of cheese. Make two more layers of sauce, tortillas, chicken, cilantro and cheese. Arrange tomato slices on final layer of cheese. Cover with foil and bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook until top is lightly browned, 10 minutes more.