How to Shred Chicken Perfectly and FAST!

Wanna hear a secret? My friend Karen tipped me off to the best trick EVER for shredding chicken for chili and other yummy things.

The Stand Mixer with the paddle attachment will shred 2-6 boneless breasts beautifully.

Shred Chicken

Just throw your cooked breasts in your stand mixer bowl, put the paddle attachment on, and turn it up to 3 or 4. Then watch the magic happen.

I will NEVER again shred chicken by hand. This does it so fast, and perfectly! I have done with just two and as many as six. It comes out better than if I had done it by hand.

Chicken and Black Bean Chili

Chili Chicken and Black Bean

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
2 cans black beans
1 can tomato sauce (14 oz)
2 cups chicken stock
1 medium onion diced
1 green bell pepper diced
1 orange bell pepper diced
1 T olive oil
1 T chili powder
2 t cumin
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. When the olive oil is hot, add the chicken breasts, and turn them once after the breasts have browned nicely. While the chicken is browning, chop the vegetables. Add them to the pan where the chicken is browning and cook for a couple of minutes until the onions are translucent.
Then transfer the chicken and veggies to your crock pot.
Drain and rinse the black beans, add them to the crock pot with the chicken stock, tomato sauce, chili powder, and cumin. Heat on low for 8 hours.
When you are ready to serve, take the chicken out, shred it, and then add it back to the pot.

Serve with Corn bread or tortilla chips. Top with cheese, sour cream, or cheese and sour cream. ;)


Using Patterned Papers With Your Layouts

So if you have spent any time at all looking at my scrapbooking pages, you will notice that I LOVE using patterned background pages. I started doing so in earnest after reading a blog post about it. (That designer/scrapper no longer has a design blog otherwise I would link it.) It’s to the point now where I don’t think I physically COULD just use a solid colored background paper. One time when I wanted a second opinion on a layout I was working on, I asked Cheryl (aka GoneWithTheWind) how to improve the persnickety layout I was working on, and she suggested using a solid background paper. Now, I had a lot caffeine that day, so the heart palpitation I had at that moment may well have been a coincidence, but I don’t think so.

I LOVE patterns.

So today I am going to walk you through using a patterned background and even MIXING patterns. I know this causes hear palpitations in some scrappers, but seriously, if you follow the rules, you will be fine.

You may be asking yourself, “Wait a minute, hold the phone, there are rules?”

My husband adores me more than some people find plausible. But when he asks me why we have to do something a certain way and I mutter, “It’s in the rules,” he just sighs and does what I ask him. Yes, there are rules. Some of them are unspoken, some of them are standard visual layout rules, and some of them I am seriously just making up on the fly from the seat of my pants.

1. Patterns, papers, and heck even font types like to hang out in odd numbers. Choose, 1,3,5, or 7 papers to work with. For whatever reason, this REALLY helps things to be more visually pleasing. I don’t know why it does, but this is seriously in the rules. (The real ones, not just the ones I am making up on the fly.)

2. Mix your papers up as you please, but you need a visual break between your patterned paper and your photo to draw your eye to the photo.

Bug Town by the Scrap Orchard Designers and Number Templates by Scrapping with Liz

Bug Town by the Scrap Orchard Designers and Number Templates by Scrapping with Liz

Amber Shaw’s Call Me Sweetheart and Fuss Free: Shake It 5 by Fiddle Dee Dee

Notice that even though Alton’s First Birthday layout uses 5 (odd number 5!) different papers, it doesn’t look too busy? It’s because the star burst paper on the edges draws your eye in to the adorable photos. The photos which I used a white stroke on to break up the patterned paper and the photos. Same thing on Lottie’s 52 Weeks layout. The white Polaroid frames set the pictures off nicely.

3. Be aware of the scale or the patterns you are mixing. Sometimes big and little patterns can play nicely together. Sometimes they don’t.

Sweet Ride by Down This Road Designs and Folded Templates by Scrapping with Liz

Sweet Ride by Down This Road Designs and Folded Templates by Scrapping with Liz

See how the polka dot and the stripes are about the same size-ishness, and the arrow circles and the diamond papers are about the same? They all kinda go, and the shapes compliment each other nicely. (And for those of you counting right now, my 5th paper is the turned corner teal on the right there. ;) )

4. When in doubt of what to mix with what, go with the classics. They are classic for a reason.

If you are unsure what patterns play well, here is a list of my suggested pairings:
Florals with stripes
Plaids with polka dots
Chevrons with polka dots
Damasks with stripes or diamonds

These would be some of those unspoken rules I was talking about earlier. I am not sure if they were written down anywhere before, but now they are here. :)

The bottom line is, don’t forget to have fun. These are YOUR MEMORIES. And if mixing an argyle paper with chevrons makes you happy, DO IT! Just make sure you scrap often and journal well, because someday, your grandkids will look at your scrapbooks, and they won’t care what background paper you used, they just want to see pictures of their mommy or daddy wearing naught but a bunch of birthday cake and their birthday suit. Go forth and scrap!

If you found any of this humorous or even helpful, leave a comment. I LOVE comments!mysiggie-1

Rain-aggedon 2014

So we live in Southern California, and we are in the midst of yet another drought. Today however it is raining. Well, sprinkling with purpose really, but as far as we poor Southern Californians are concerned, it’s raining. I love days like today. They are perfect for making bread and homemade soup. So that’s what I am doing today. I am making my honey oatmeal wheat bread and I am making a variation of my friend Diane’s chicken vegetable soup. The last time I was at Trader Joe’s, they had parsnips available in the root section, so I snagged those and I added them to the soup. I have never in my life knowingly eaten or prepared a parsnip, but my preliminary judgement is that it seems to be a slightly porous white carrot. When I peeled and chopped it, it smelled just like a carrot, but instead of sinking to the bottom of my stock pot with the potatoes and carrots, the parsnip chunks are bobbing on top.

Lottie is on day four of what we think is a case of Roseola. We thought her fever broke, so we ran to Panera and Starbucks for a birthday treat this morning. But she then proceeded to take a 4 1/2 hour nap.

Well I think I will go snuggle my cuddle muffin and then go chop some chicken for my soup….

How I Title My Scrapbooking Page Files

So there are many ways to save your files names. After lots of trial and error, this is what I do. Each layout is saved with a two digit year, 2 digit month, and then 2 digit day code. Then if my layout has a title, that goes after the date code. So this layout I made of my son’s first birthday was saved as 080621 Cake!

080621 Cake! web

Celebrate Grab Bag by Amber Shaw and Fuss Free: Celebrate by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

I do this for a couple of reasons. When I (finally!) get my layouts printed at Persnickety Prints, they print the file name on the back of your premium archival quality print. So each and every layout will be dated, even if for some reason I don’t have the date on the front. Also, I don’t scrap in order, so it keeps my layout archive in chronological order, so that when I go to put layouts in albums, I have a handy dandy cheat sheet to ease putting my layouts in order in my album.

File names

How do you title your scrapbooking page files?

Nifty Little Scrapbooking Trick

Okay, so I feel lame even calling this a trick, but it is so danged helpful to me, that I felt I needed to share it.

I use templates a lot. Like every time. I don’t remember the last time I scrapped without one kind of thing. I also use a TON of different ones. I can always tell which designer I used a template from, but I almost NEVER remember which template set I used if it’s not a new release that I am specifically scrapping with for an assignment.

This weekend I scrapped eight layouts for the Scrapper Bowl!  That is a lot. And I could not for the life of me remember which templates I used when I went to credit in the gallery. So I thought to myself, THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY!

And I figured it out. Once I have dragged my background paper onto the layout and positioned it, I got to the layers menu, and RENAME my background paper the name of the template designer and the template pack. Now when I go to my credits, if I don’t remember the name of the template I used, I can just open my TIF file and VOILA! There it is. 


Family Night: “P” is for Pizza, Pool, Proverbs, and Prayer

So at my church’s young moms group, we had a speaker last year named Samantha Morey. She spoke about family night, and the importance of having family rituals. One point that she made that stuck with me was that she wanted her two girls to enjoy Family Night so much, that after they went away to college and moved out on their own that they would WANT to come home for family night. I realized that I wanted that too. I did not want to rely on motherly guilt to get my kids to come home, but I want them to feel a longing and a desire to be with our family that stays with them even after they are eventually out on their own. Please note Alton and Lottie that you may not go to college across the country, and you certainly may not marry someone who lives on the East Coast. ;)

We had recently started having a regular family night before Samantha spoke, but her talk gave me some ideas that I wanted to incorporate. We were doing a lot of dinners at home followed by a family friendly movie, with the occasional Bible story thrown in. I wanted to make the Bible lesson more central for us, and to expand our repertoire of activities. Here is a general outline of what we do now:

I try to have a unifying theme. Like P night (activities that start with the letter P), Hawaiian Night, or Fish night. Here is our agenda for “P” Night:
P Night verse

Activity: A trip to our gym’s Pool (Our gym has a TERRIFIC kids pool that is large enough for adults to enjoy as well.)
Meal: Home Made Pizza for dinner (Everyone gets to top their own…)
Dessert/Snack: Popcorn for after dinner snack
Bible Point & Prayer: We read a few Proverbs as well, but the one we started with was

Proverbs 23:24 (NIV)
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
At Alton and Charlotte’s age, we aren’t looking to have them necessarily memorize Bible verses, (Although, this one as short as it is, my six year old should be able to memorize this one.) but we want them both to grow up comfortable navigating God’s word and having the ability to find themselves a verse for all situations.

We always end Family Night with prayers and we go around and ask if anyone has any prayer requests, or something that they are thankful for that they want to thank God for. Lottie doesn’t talk yet, and Alton doesn’t quite yet grasp the concept of asking God for help, but he DOES understand thankfulness, and he is quick to thank God for his friends, his family, and the fun things we do at Family Night.

I don’t have a picture, but if you want a good pizza crust recipe, here is the one I use, from The Williams Sonoma Essentials in Baking Cook Book… it’s for Pizza Margherita, but you can add any toppings you would like.


For the pizza dough:

  • 1 Tbs. (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. lukewarm water (105°F)
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

For the topping:

  • 7 oz. mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 8 fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped,
    or canned plum tomatoes, drained and
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil


To make the pizza dough, in a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let stand until slightly foamy on top, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 3/4 cups flour and the salt and form into a mound. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture to the well. Using a fork and stirring in a circular motion, gradually pull the flour into the yeast mixture. Continue stirring until a dough forms.

Lightly flour a work surface with some of the 1/2 cup flour and transfer the dough to it. Using the heel of your hand, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball.

Brush a large bowl with the olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat an oven to 450°F. If using a baking stone or tiles, place in the oven now.

Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with the remaining flour. Punch the dough down and, using your hand, begin to press it out gently into the desired shape. (If you want to make individual pizzas, divide the dough into four equal-size pieces and shape each one.) Place one hand in the center of the dough and, with the other hand, pull, lift and stretch the dough, gradually working your way all around the edge, until it is the desired thickness, about 1/4 inch thick for a crusty pizza base and 1/2 inch thick for a softer one. Flip the dough over from time to time as you work with it. (Or roll out the dough with a rolling pin.) The dough should be slightly thinner in the middle than at the edge. Lift the edge of the pizza to form a slight rim.

Transfer the dough to a pizza peel or baking sheet, cover with a cotton towel and let rise again until almost doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Cover the dough with the cheese and then the tomatoes. Scatter the basil over the top. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle 3 Tbs. of the olive oil over the top. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F and bake until the crust is golden, about 10 minutes more. Drizzle the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over the top and serve immediately.

Serves 4
I will be posting more Family Night Themes soon, if you like this post, or use the ideas, please leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear how your family enjoys family night.

There Are Never Too Many Sleeping Baby Photos

Is anyone else addicted to taking pictures of their sleeping children? I will admit, I have a small problem with it. However, Lottie is a VERY light sleeper, so it’s not often that I get to take a picture of her while she is still asleep.


Every good picture needs a kit to scrap it with. I used this one:

The Dreamer – Mini by WM[Squared]

Project 52, Week 1: Alton Edition

So I actually completed Project 52 last year with pictures of Charlotte. Alton was a wee bit jealous that I hadn’t done the same thing for him when he was wee, so I decided to do PRoject 52 of him this year. I hope to keep up on getting the picture scrapped quickly, so I don’t get behind. Since he is not a vampire newborn, I am pretty sure I will keep up. ;)

Here is the first layout:

Week 1: Currently

I made it with this FANTASTIC collection by Amber Shaw
Currently Collection by Amber Shaw

It’s Cute. Will It Make Laundry More Fun?

Like most American women, I struggle with keeping on top of the laundry. We are only a family of four, but heck, I struggled when it was just me and my hubby. I used to do one big laundry day where I washed and dried 6 loads in one day. That part was nice, in that I didn’t have to deal with laundry for the most part, I just had the one day. But the sticky wicket came when it came time to fold it and put it away. More often than not, the clean laundry would remain unfolded in an assortment of baskets throughout the house. In fact, the unfolded laundry would get that lovely, “I’ve been forgotten and relegated to this plastic basket forever” patina that would often leave the contents of said baskets frozen into the shape of the basket.


We’ve all been there.


One day I was once again talking about laundry to some girl friends on Facebook. Cheryl, (my scrapping and laundry hero) mentioned that she didn’t mind laundry, and that she had a system that kept it quite manageable. I asked for more details, and she told me what she does. She also has a family of four, and each member has their own basket for dirties. Each family member get’s a day and that one load is washed, dried, folded and put away, ALL ON THE SAME DAY!!!!

If it wasn’t such a novel idea, it might be crazy.

So over the last couple of years I have more or less embraced her system. I have modified it for our family, and to accommodate our cloth diapers, and it works for the most part. There is still that sticky wicket of folding and putting it away, but when there is only one load a day, it’s not nearly as bad.

I occasionally (well, often.) forget to do Alton’s laundry. I don’t have to go in his room, so I don’t see it. Out of site, out of mind and all. Also, my husband continues to act like washing our daughter’s cloth diapers is a mystery that is cloaked with Top Secret government clearance that he has no hope of EVER getting cleared for.

So I decided to make a chart. A chart that outlines the schedule, includes washing instructions for everyone’s laundry, AND has the mysteries of cloth diaper washing spelled out so that even the six year old could wash them if we believed in child labor.

Chart Laundry Web smaller

I of course used digital scrapbooking supplies to make it.

I used

A Perfect Mess {Kit} by Kristin Aagard Designs

It is now laminated and posted above the washer and dryer for all to see. Let’s hope I keep on top of folding this year. :)