Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Beautiful Walk and The Day of the Mammoth Lakes Bears

On Monday my little guy and I walked up at Lake Mary while my husband went for his run. We did a little over four miles and, while my little guy napped at least half of the way, I enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. 

Part of the walk is really wooded. 

There are a couple of little streams along the way.

Sign that made me smile.

Isn't the lake gorgeous?

Ironically, as I was walking along pushing the little guy in his stroller, I thought about the fact that this was probably the first spring or summer that I had been to Mammoth and NOT seen bears. There have been years where I've seen lots of them. This year, I hadn't seen a single one. 

About 15 or 20 minutes later, a momma and two cubs crossed the street right in front of me. So what did I do?? I pulled out the camera, of course. :D 

See the second cub lagging behind? :) The one right behind the momma was brown. The one lagging was black and was exploring and getting into EVERYTHING. It was so cute.

That same night around one in the morning, I heard a bear in the dumpster outside our condo. My pictures didn't turn out so well, but Brian (the runner we're sharing the condo with) went outside and got some great ones!

This bear was B-I-G.

It hit the jackpot too. He was at this for a good hour. 
Check out the white markings on its chest. So pretty....from a distance.

This one is my favorite. It shows you how big this guy was. 

I thought it was funny how the very day I'm musing about the fact that this is my first spring or summer trip out to Mammoth that I haven't seen any bears....I ended up seeing four. :) 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meet Courtney from Life These Days

I'm so excited to introduce you to my friend Courtney this morning. She and I met years ago when we were both foot-loose, fancy-free gals living on the east coast. We've both moved, married and started little families since that time. The wonderful thing about blogger is that you're able to still keep in touch with each other's lives. 
I was so excited when she agreed to be Coffee Cups and Crafts very first guest blogger. She has an amazing tutorial to share with you this morning that I'm sure you're going to love! :D 

My name is Courtney & I stay home with my 2 year old son, Berkley and I work part-time for a ministry called Passport.  I have a blog about Berkley, a blog of easy & quick recipes, and a blog about my own life (including any fun crafts I've run across)!  All of my blogs can be accessed from my original blog.
One of my favorite crafts to make is a ribbon wreath, and I was thrilled when Cristan asked me to post a guest blog with instructions on how to make this simple, yet versatile craft! 
Notes Before You Begin:
Buy more ribbon than you think you'll need.  It takes a lot of ribbon.  I'd say to plan on about 10-12 spools of ribbons (including at least 4-5 spools of the widest ribbon).  
It's possible to do this by sewing, but since I can't sew, I use hot glue.  
What You Need:
* Styrofoam wreath form (the larger the form, the more ribbon you'll need)  I've discovered that I like a wreath form that is flat on the front versus a complete cylinder.  It's just a bit easier to work with, but any type will work.
* One spool of wide ribbon for wrapping the wreath form
* 10+ spools of grosgrain ribbon for decorating
* Hot glue gun & lots of glue
* Scissors
* Ruler
* Pencil

Wrap the wreath form in wide ribbon.  This doesn't have to look good since it will mostly be covered by the other ribbons.  But, it makes for a good platform for the glue & ribbons and covers up any stray styrofoam.
I simply wrapped the ribbon and then secured it with a couple of pins at the end (I'm sure hot glue would work just as well.)
Cut ribbons into 4.5-5 inch strips.  I measured the first few of each spool of ribbon and then eye-balled the rest.  They definitely don't have to be exact.
 Place a bit of hot glue on one end of each strip- leaving about 1/2 inch at the bottom. (I found that I could put glue across 3 or 4 strips and still have time to deal with them before the glue got cold.)
Fold each strip over onto itself, creating a loop of ribbon.
Do this with every spool of ribbon until you have piles of ribbon loops.
Now the fun begins!  Spread open the bottom of each loop.  Put a little glue on that part and stick it down on the wreath form!
I started with the wider ribbons and made my way around the wreath.  That way, I could fill in later with smaller ribbons.
On the inside and outside of the wreath forms, just glue down the loops along the sides.
If you look closely you can see that I glued the bulk of the ribbon facing in one direction.
Then I added some more of the smaller ribbons going all different directions.  And I also glued some of the smaller ribbons on the inside and outside of the wreath.  I've discovered that the more ribbon I used, the better the wreath looks.  
I made the above wreath for a baby shower, and the wreath below for my son's 2nd birthday.  I plan on making these for all major events/holidays in corresponding colors! 
So, pick a few colors you like, buy a bunch of ribbon and have fun crafting!

Are those wreaths not AMAZING!!! 
Thanks so much, Courtney, for sharing this tutorial. I want to make a jillion of these! :D 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

I got a text message from my cousin in Texas yesterday saying that she had tried the Curried Egg Salad with homemade wheat bread (YUM) and that she and her husband had loved it! It's one of my husband's favorites as well. He's told me in the past, "Honey, you can make this one once a week." :D 
I love sharing recipes with friends and family. It's one of those little things that helps to span the miles when you live so far apart. :)

I made the following enchiladas for the guys this past week and thought they were pretty good. However, my husband let it be known that these are NOT his favorite. (Yes. He's shy like that. :) He prefers the sour cream enchiladas that I normally make for him. These have a cream cheese base and he wasn't a fan. You'll have to try them out and let me know what you think. My husband feels very strongly that cream cheese does not equal Mexican food. :) So, while I thought they were pretty tasty, this recipe is not going to make it into the "Husband Approved" category. :D 

For those of you still willing to experiment on your own friends or family, THIS IS A GREAT MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE FOR THE FUTURE RECIPE! (Who doesn't need some of those?! :)

You'll need the following ingredients: 
2 T. butter
1 sliced onion
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
2 T. diced green chilies
3 ounces diced cream cheese
salt to taste
1 c. (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
3 T. vegetable oil
4 large flour tortillas
1/2 c. whipping cream


(You'll notice in the pictures that I doubled the above ingredients. I'm cooking for two hungry runners and a pregnant gal. We can eat in this house!)

Melt butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. 

Remove skillet from heat and add the chicken, chilies and cream cheese. Mix lightly and add salt to taste. 
(NOTE: If you're making this ahead, put in a 1-quart freezer bag, label and freeze. Put the Monterey Jack cheese in a sandwich bag and tape to the front of the larger bag. To serve, thaw the filling and Jack cheese and continue on with the remainder of this recipe.)

Heat the oil in the skillet. Dip the tortillas one at a time into the oil and fry for several seconds until they begin to blister and become limp. Remove and drain on paper towels. 

Spoon about 1/3 cup of the filling down the center of each tortilla.  

Roll and set, seam side down, in a 13x9-inch baking dish that has been greased.

Moisten by pouring the whipping cream over the enchiladas. 

Sprinkle with the cheese. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. 

(Well, at least I thought so. :)

Linking up to some of these great parties.

Friday, August 26, 2011

This Week's Little Lonely Post :)

I can't believe this entire week has gone by and I haven't posted a single thing. So sorry for being a slacker but I promise I've been keeping very busy with my little guy. We've been reading, singing, learning to put the right shape in the corresponding hole in his little wooden toy, rolling the ball back and forth and wherever else it might go, etc. etc. etc. 
He's stood without holding on to anything a couple of times now. The first time he stood for about 20 seconds and then started clapping for himself. It was too cute for words. Today after a very short 30 minute nap, the little guy joined me in the kitchen to "help me" finish getting lunch together. His help includes holding on to my leg and hollering or opening every cupboard and drawer available. I was in the midst of whipping up a yummy chicken curry salad (I'll share the recipe next week) when I realized he was not holding on to my leg anymore and I hadn't felt him slide down to sit. I turned to find him balancing in the middle of the kitchen floor! My little guy is growing up. (I don't know whether I want to smile or tear up after that last sentence.) 

Moving on....

Both my boys and my two little furbabies are sound asleep and now is my chance to get in a little blogging.  :) A moment ago I heard thunder in the distance. The wind blowing through the open window is carrying the smell of rain. That is one of my all-time favorite smells. Everything seems very peaceful and I'm feeling quite content at the moment. :) 

Today marks 12 weeks pregnant with our second little one! I can hardly believe it! After a scare early on, things have been going really well. I would post a picture, but I'm about twice the size I was at this stage of my first pregnancy, so I think I'll refrain. :) We're praying for a healthy and happy little one to be a friend and sibling for our little guy. Our little family is growing. We were just slow starters, but we're making up for lost time now! :D 

I'll do my best to be a better blogger next week. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend and squeeze in some time for a nice cup of coffee. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blogger Woes

Google apparently hates me lately. Yesterday morning I noticed that my "Follow Me" button was missing along with all my followers. When I visited other blogs, I couldn't follow them or view their "Follow Me" button. I reported all this to the blogger "help." Last evening my followers were back and my background was missing. Now BOTH have disappeared. Sigh. Please bare with me as I try to work out the kinks. I've already tried to reload the background several times as I realize the text is difficult to read at present. Know I'm working on the problem.

I'm hoping to wake up in the morning and find that my little blog has miraculously righted itself. :) 

Has anyone else experienced this type of problem with their blog or is it personal? :)

Hope your weekend is off to a great start and you're experiencing none of the technical difficulties afore mentioned. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Think I'm In Love....

Oh my goodness!! I ADORE this chevron ruffle pillow by Crazy Wonderful! How gorgeous is this?!! The best part is she gives a tutorial so that we can try to make one too!! This pillow just satisfies deep inner longings, doesn't it? :)

Lil Luna shares how to make this "Count Your Blessings" board. She even did hers in my all-time favorite colors. :)

Another feature that will make you happy just looking at it is this adorable craft space by Craft-O-Maniac. You have to check out her post for a closer look at all the bright and happy cuteness. I know I'm gushing today. It's just my mood. :)

These are just a couple of things I've come across this past week that made me smile and inspired me. Hope they've put a smile on your face as well! :D 
Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend and Count Your Blessings!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Little Helper and Toasted Almond Chicken

I love motherhood. Granted, I think it's by far the most exhausted I've ever been, but oh my goodness! The rewards are beyond measure. My little guy is my constant companion. He's cracking me up right now as he crawls all over the place with one of his daddy's powerbars in each fist. He's been looking quite proud of himself ever since he snatched them out of his dad's bag. :)

Below are a couple of pics of me and my little helper. 
Walking the dogs...

Vacuuming the floors...
(for those of you new to this blog, we are up in Mammoth Lakes, CA in a rented condo for a couple of months. Please do NOT think this is my decor, etc. LOL :)

Making the recipe I'm about to share with you....

 I consider this Southern Living recipe one of my favorite comfort foods. I've changed it up a bit over time. The guys like it and the leftovers always go fast.  As I've mentioned before, this family likes rice. Have you seen the size bag we buy?? This is another dish that I serve over rice. You can also serve it over toast points if you prefer. 
This recipe takes about 45 minutes to make and serves about six.

You will need the following ingredients: 

6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
 1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
3 T. butter, divided
3 cups whipping cream
4 T. orange marmalade
2 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1 (2.25-ounce) pkg. sliced almonds, toasted
Kind of a different combination, huh? 

About 20 minutes before dinner I start my rice. 

The original recipe calls for you to flatten your chicken breasts to a 1/4 inch thickness. However, my family prefers to have it in pieces in the size pictured below. Either way works. 
Sprinkle your chicken with salt and pepper. 
Melt 1 1/2 T. butter in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. 
Add half your chicken and cook on each side until golden.

Sadly, I got my chicken a little too golden the evening my little helper and I made this. :)
Remove chicken from skillet. Repeat procedure with remaining butter and chicken.

Reduce your heat to medium; add whipping cream and next three ingredients to skillet, stirring well. 

Add chicken; sprinkle with almonds, and cook until sauce thickens.
Serve over rice. :)

Note: If this is a bit too fattening for your taste, the original recipe calls for only 1/2 of the sauce that I listed. However, my husband and I found it to be rather dry that way and we like having extra sauce to spoon over the rice. :) 

Linking up to some of these great parties! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Upcycled Jars=Birthday Happy For a Friend

Shortly before returning to Mammoth Lakes I got to celebrate a sweet friend's 30th birthday. I had some jars at home that I had removed the labels from, washed and saved for "something." I did a little sleuthing and, with the help of my friend's husband, found out some of her favorite candies. 

A little ribbon, a little hot glue, some scrapbook paper and mod podge and I had some fun little gift jars of candy to tuck in with a few other "birthday happies." 

Starbursts, Skittles and Peanut Butter Cups. YUM! :D
I apologize for the horrible quality of these pictures. My husband was in Brazil at the time and he had taken our only camera. I took these using the camera on my computer. However, you get the general idea of how they turned out. :)
(I realize this is an exceptionally bad photo, but I was trying to get my son to his Gammy and get out the door for the party. I did, however, want to try to show you the scrapbook paper mod podged to the top. :)

Here's the birthday girl...

and the whole crew...
Girlfriends are such a blessing! :) I can't wait to get back home and see these gals in person. :)

Linking up to some of these great parties. 
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