Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

A delicious take on creamy enchiladas, using sour cream and green chilies.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 6

• 4 chicken breasts
• 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
• 1 lb. sour cream
• 1 lb. Monterey jack shredded cheese
• 4 oz. can green chilies (less if you like it less spicy)
• 12–24 Flour tortillas

1. Boil chicken breasts until done (25-30 minutes).
2. Mix chicken soup, sour cream, cheese and green chilies together.
3. Shred chicken and add ½ of above mixture. Stuff into flour tortillas.
4. Add 2nd half of mixture on top of filled tortillas.
5. Bake 15 minutes at 350 F covered.
6. Remove cover and continue baking for 15 more minutes.


The best part about this recipe is that Brian's the one that discovered it and has made it ever since. I may help out with shredding cheese, or deboning chicken, but other than that, it's all his. And it comes out deliciously! Sometimes we use a rotisserie chicken from the store (if they're a good price). Another shortcut, of course, is to use already shredded cheese (sometimes they don't have just Monterey jack by itself, though we have done a Colby Jack mixture that works as well). Also, the reason for the big difference in tortillas is that it depends what size you want to go with. We've done burrito size down to small taco size. Try it out and see what you like. It's very easy. We also tend to like more green chilies, even though we're not really into spicy, because the sour cream, soup and cheese really tone this down. Then just pair it with some spanish/mexican-style rice and black beans and it's a better and less-expensive meal than you'd get in some Tex-Mex restaurants.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hybrid Crafts: Mother's Day Cards

Mother's Day Card 2009 (Spring Fling V.1)

All Papers and Elements: "Spring Fling" Kit by MissMint
Ribbon: Michaels
Font: Tagettes

Mother's Day Card 2009 (Spring Fling V.2)

All Papers and Elements (except stitch): "Spring Fling" Kit by MissMint
Stitched Framed: "Foxy Lady" Kit by MissMint
Flowers: Heidi Grace
Rhinestones: Jewelry Essentials
Font: Pea Randa

These were done for Peppermint Creative's "Pimp My Page Challenge" #9 (April). Instead of doing a digiscrap LO I turned the LO into a template for a card. I think it works. I really like the way the second one came out. The drop shadows look so realistic. And, except for the flowers and rhinestones, everything else was printed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Saved 70 Percent Today

I'm planning to do a more detailed post in the next week and a half about how I've been saving money on grocery and household items , BUT today was a milestone day -- I saved 70% on my grocery bill (my average has been about 50%). I only did a quick run today because I had some coupons that I knew would match up with some sales, so I wanted to share with you!

How much do you think I paid for these items?

Which included:
3 4-packs of toilet paper
3 herb blends
2 cans of pork and beans
5 pounds of ground chuck
2 pounds of pork chops

I paid $11.

Without sales, coupons or specials, this would have cost about $36. The thing is, that $11 was mostly the meat. The toilet paper and herb blends were free (because of coupons). And I got 7 pounds of meat for less than $10. Because I got meat that was on "manager's special." Basically, it just means I go home and put it in my freezer to use when I need it because it's "expiring." (The other day I got a roast for about $3.)

Anyway, I was very excited and had to share! Thing is, anyone can do this. So, soon I will post my tips and tricks so everyone can do it. No one should be paying retail for groceries anymore!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Writing Wednesday: Words and Writings

(With quick book reviews thrown in.)

I know that the last time I did a Writing Wednesday I also talked about words. But this time I want to focus on words grouped together, by authors, that become, well, prose. (I would address poetry, but I'm not very good at that, so it's just prose, and by extension, fiction.)

I admit, I'm a better writer than a storyteller. And I have found that, in writing stories, my writing skills fall a little by the wayside. I feel that as a writer, I can string together some very pretty words to really make the reader picture what I'm trying to depict. However, I do better at vignettes. Which is why the editing of my novel is so ... behind. It's quite a daunting project, because I feel so much of it has to be rewritten into what my actual style is. I was so focused on getting the story out, that I left "me" behind it. I've only managed to get the prologue redone and one scene. Sad, but true.

One of the books I read recently had very beautiful writing. The author depicted things in a new and interesting way which really kept me intrigued. Just a page in, I was struck by this phrase: "His face was weathered and brown, his eyes set in origami creases of skin." I LOVE that! Origami creases of skin. One of my favorite authors (though I have yet to read a lot by him) is Thomas Hardy. I have never read his poetry, but he infuses his novels with that same poetic beauty that just captures the pretty-word crafter in me. What can I say?

I did a quick search of my writings, and came across one of my vignettes. There's actually a little more to the scene than what I am posting, but when I look at it, I seriously wonder if I really did write it! It's so ... beautiful! *laughs* I'm not really tooting my own horn, more like wishing I could get back to this. I know, practice, practice. I really wish for my old RP days -- they helped my writing SO much!

So, a little snippet of what I once could accomplish:


That was the susurration carried on the wind, painting the evening sky with a thin glaze. Her dusky eyes stopped scanning. Her head tilted, trying to discover the origin of the gentle whisper which was now beginning to permeate her being. Words? No words were carried in the murmuring. Her eyelids slid to close, and she let her arms fall free from their own embrace as she let herself relax. Her breathing slowed, her chest rising and falling softly, and then her eyes opened in deft surprise. "Something," her tone whispered lightly in curiosity. Eyes narrowing for a moment, she caught her lips on a simple smile. "A willow," was all the indulgence her sweet voice caressed. She turned back toward the parapet, leaning out, the violet flecks in her eyes catching the iridescent, ivory fingers of the lazy moon's light.

The silent breeze ruffled against the willow, and her eyes caught the shadows, where she blinked in surprise. Amidst the phantasms of nature, there was something manmade, though wholly unaffected in its own naturalness. This was the something. She envied his position, if it was a "he" indeed. But how could it not? To be self-removed from such a party could only be a man's tolerance.

Her reverie was broken for a moment with a smattering of applause from within, so completely isolated from her now. "Are you the one?" she wondered in a hushed vein, recalling her earlier conversation with Anteak. She smiled mildly. Whether he was or not, the intrigue had been caught. Would they meet? Could they? If the stars allowed. But only wholly as herself. Decency required the staying of clothes -- though they weren't uncommon on her. But her hair, caught in the confines of the pseudo-refinement those inside believed in, was altogether different. More applause. With each swell she removed a pin from her glossy locks, and soon it sighed in relief to be set free, glinting in the surrounding light as it played on the nightbreeze, once in awhile caressing its length almost to her knees.

She held the pins in her palms, staring at them for a moment, before she also set them free, tossing them over the balcony, where they glittered like a school of silvery fish swimming in the ocean of the night sky, on toward their destiny.

With a lull in the breeze, her hair covered her like a warm wrap as she continued to watch the shadows....

And now on to the quick book reviews!

Merlin and Arthur by Stephen R. Lawhead
Oh, Lawhead. You certainly do love changing up the point of view -- no matter if it's in the same book. Overall I thought Merlin was interesting, as there's a lot more to play with, as far as inventing a new story. It was mostly told in Merlin's point of view, but then Arthur changed a lot and I didn't think there was all that much more of an interesting story to tell. Not to mention the ending just kinda ... ended. I know Lawhead didn't think to make this past three books (the first was Taliesin), but there are actually more, so .... It's okay, but I think I may abandon Lawhead. Don't know.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
This was an Oprah book club book, and this is the story from which the "origami creases of skin" phrase came from. Wroblewski's writing was just beautiful. So many "mundane" seeming things were really put into a new light. I like the book up until the "ghost story" aspect was introduced. It was so REAL, so vivid, so retro-feeling that I really empathized with the characters. And then a sort of surreal element was introduced. I don't mind it, normally, especially being a reader of fantasy -- I suspend my disbelief a LOT. But, to turn so drastically. I don't know, I felt a little betrayed. Like he had sensationalize some of it to make it interesting. Overall I liked it. But ... there was just that something that bothered me.

Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
Brian and I are fans of Card (not only because he's Mormon ^_^), and his Ender books are great. So Brian found this and gave it a try. It's a sort of "what if the American revolution didn't quite go as planned and the Native Americans really COULD wield some sort of magic and they weren't run out of their lands" re-telling of history. Apparently the seventh son of a seventh son is especially special, so ... so far the story is interesting, although there are supposed to be seven books in the series and Card has yet to announce when the last one is out.

Sorcery and Cecelia by Wrede and Stevermer
Ah, one recommended to me by my friends. At first I had a little bit of a time getting into it, because it's written as letters back and forth from cousins, set in the Regency period (or close to it) and so you don't have much to go on for character introduction, but I quickly got into it (it's Austen meets magic) and I was so sad that it was so short and quick! I definitely want to pick up the next one, and it makes me wish I could do something like this with a friend (the authors wrote the stories in bits, just like letters, where the other didn't know what the one was writing, and so on, they then got together in the end to flesh out things). So fun!

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
Another recommendation. I wanted to get Beauty, but even though the library said it was on the shelf, I couldn't find it, so I picked this one up instead. Overall I really liked this book, the story was definitely a new one and a very fresh take on the Sleeping Beauty story. However, the first few ... chapters, it seemed like, were world-building, and I honestly feel that it wasn't necessary. I don't mind a little info dump (maybe a couple of graphs), but chapters??? Also, toward the end of the story, the way everything gets resolved seemed a little ... murky. I can't quite figure out how the heroine did what she did. I feel it was poorly written, and a little lengthy to "save the day." I also didn't "feel" one of the relationships. It didn't seem realy to me. But, it gave me enough of the author to make me want to try Beauty.

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
I picked this one up because I love period pieces and felt that something Regency, without being girly, would be refreshing. Maybe I prefer the girly. I don't know, for having been written by a woman, it seemed a lot like a man. Does that sound funny? It's a mystery, with a murder having taken place (and VERY gruesome and perhaps I could have done without some of the imagery), but while the pacing of the whodunit was pretty good, I think the ending was a little bit of a let down, ONLY because, to me, the person that did end up doing, wasn't a character I had remembered very well. Maybe that's good, or maybe not. I had to go: wait, who was that again?? Anyway, I guess I don't think it's my cup of tea, but at least I'm trying new things, right?

As always, I'm up for recommendations (still have some on my list from last time, but finding them at the library isn't always an easy task).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hybrid Craft: Mini Pizza Box

Damaks Mini Pizza Box (top)
Damask Mini Pizza Box (outside)
Damask Mini Pizza Box (inside)

Mini Pizza Box Instructions: Jen del Muro
Papers, Elements: "Damask and Dots" Kit by Shabby Princess
Other: pop dots, white buttons from my button stash
Font: Wellsley

Printed on Epson Premium Presentation Paper Matte

Done for KWerner's Color Challenge #48.

I thought I'd try something a little different this time around, and found this cute mini pizza box tutorial. You can put lots of little nifty gifts, like a couple of cookies, or some pretty jewelry (the one pictured is actually mine, and it is not a gift, but I thought the box would look better with something in it).

OH, and a little "tooting" of my own horn: the last color challenge I did was chosen by Kristina Werner herself as part of the Top 20 of her favorites (there were 214 entries), so I was totally excited to see this! See the Top 20 here. Yay!

Friday, April 3, 2009

First Friday Fanfic: Dream Giver (Part 3)

Parts 1 & 2 Here

(Author's Note: This fanfic takes place sometime during Season 7 of the show -- just in case anyone didn't want any spoilers. Not that they're huge. Well, maybe.... You've been warned. ^_^ As always, constructive criticism is welcome.)

Dream Giver
(a Stargate SG-1 FanFic)

Part 3

After a few miles, the group emerged from the forest onto a wide plain with deep green grasses and majestic mountains in the far distance soaring into powder-puff clouds and azure skies. Several bloom-bearing trees lined paths into the prosperous village with wood and stone homes, with the peaks of more decorative stone and marble buildings showing the heart of the town.

A soft breeze caressed around them, rustling leaves and carrying the sweet scent of spring.

“Wow!” breathed out Jack.

Sam smiled as she inhaled deeply. “I think I could get used to this too, Sir.”

Daphnis smiled widely as she looked at them. “It is beautiful, is it not?”

Daniel raked a hand through his hair. “I wouldn’t mind retiring here,” he chuckled softly.

Daphnis’ eyes grew round in surprise. “You would wish to stay with us, Dream Giver?” she exclaimed with hope.

His smile fell a little, softening as he looked at her after calling him by the title apparently bestowed upon him. “Well,” he began, but was cut off as a small group of people emerged from a nearby building, making their way quickly toward SG-1.

A tall, older man with a large girth and sparse, darker blond hairs on his head led the group comprised of quite a few young girls who looked like Daphnis and her sister Hebe, as well as a few young men with similar light blond hair and eyes of varying degrees of blue.

Daphnis stepped out to greet him with the now-familiar bow of the hands over the lips. “Abaris, we have visitors.” She smiled gently at him, and turned to Jack. “Colonel O’Neill, this is the Abaris of our clan. He is our leader,” and with a hint of pride added, “and my father.”

Jack held out his hand and, after bowing to him, the Abaris took Jack’s hand hesitantly, unsure of what to do until Jack started pumping it.

The Abaris laughed, his darker blue eyes crinkling at the corners. “Well met, travelers!” His eyes scanned the SG team, and stopped on Daniel. He gave a quick glance to Jack, recognizing him as leader. “And these must be your companions?”

After the quick introductions, the Abaris stepped toward Daniel, his eyes intent. He whispered softly to himself: “It seems true.” He then blinked and smiled gently, addressing Daniel. “My daughter Daphnis has told you whom we believe you to be?”

Daniel’s brow furrowed and nodded. “She mentioned it briefly, but, I must tell you, I don’t really understand what’s going on. Could you maybe explain more about this Dream Giver?”

The Abaris pursed his lips briefly, then sighed. “Perhaps it is better if I take you to Elpis. She will be able to tell us if you are truly him. I sent Hebe on ahead to let her know.” Spreading his arm out, he began walking away from the village. “Please come.”

As they walked, the Abaris talked about their village and home, about Elpis being with other young women, picking fruit in a nearby field. The SG-1 team asked varying questions about the climate, their enemies, if any, in addition to information regarding medicines and herbs.

Daniel, normally very talkative with inhabitants of any new world they encountered, curious to find out their history, lagged in silence behind the group. Samantha caught Jack’s eye and motioned him to Daniel, who fell behind, in step with the archeologist.

“So, Daniel, what’s an ‘Abaris’?”

Daniel blinked several times, then looked at Jack. “Uhm, Abaris was a priest of Apollo.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed and he murmured, “Apollo.”

Daniel sighed. “Apollo, the Greek god of the Sun? Also medicine, archery, and music. And also the god of—” he broke off as he noticed Jack yawning. “Anyway, Apollo gave Abaris a golden arrow which was supposed to cure diseases and even spoke oracles.”

Jack scratched under his cap. “The arrow spoke?”

Daniel rolled his eyes at Jack. “Yes, Jack, the arrow spoke,” he quipped sarcastically, but quickly resumed the lecture. “And, it also rendered him invisible and allowed him to ride through the sky.”

Jack chuckled. “Must have been a big arrow.”

“Indeed,” quipped Teal’c, who had joined them while Sam continued talking with the Abaris.

Jack grinned at Teal’c, then motioned in the direction of the Abaris. “So…?”

Daniel shrugged. “From what I gather, the clans or villages of this world have leaders who call themselves ‘Abaris’, though they aren’t necessarily priests, from what I can tell, as I didn’t see any symbols of any particular pantheon. And, since Daphnis didn’t give us his actual name, it would seem that if his name is known, he is usually addressed only by his title.”


“Although,” continued Daniel, now seeming more like his usual self, “all of the names we have encountered so far have been from Ancient Greece. Names of gods or goddesses, or those associated with them. But they don’t really look like ancient Greeks, do they?” He pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. “Actually, if I had to put a race to them, I would say perhaps Nordic.” He shook his head, his eyebrows furrowing. “Very strange.”

“I’ll say,” said Jack, as they caught up to the Abaris, who was being approached by a group of women, some holding baskets of fruit, all with the same fair skin, hair and eyes—except for one.

Hebe had her arms linked with a woman of olive skin, whose long brown hair curled softly, hints of red glinting in the sun. Tilted eyes of emerald-green laced with lashes so dark it almost seemed as if they were rimmed in kohl contrasted with the smattering of light freckles across her nose. The women quickly made their way toward the newcomers, bowing to the Abaris, though the one with tan skin gave him a warm embrace.

The Abaris held the woman and they looked into each other’s eyes.

“Is it true?” her melodic voice asked him.

He merely turned, and the group behind him parted, leaving a path to Daniel. “My daughter, Elpis.”

Her eyes went round and her lips parted as she stood the distance, looking at Daniel. She swallowed softly and licked her lips, approaching him cautiously. Her eyes began to glisten as her lips gathered into a wide smile, a dimple dancing into one cheek as she stopped before him. Her eyes darted over him, trying to absorb every detail.

Daniel shifted on his feet, watching this woman, until his eyes caught hers and held them. He spoke gently. “I’m Daniel.”

Elpis stared intently into Daniel’s blue eyes, and then her smile faded, the unshed tears of happiness now falling down her cheeks in sadness. “You—you do not know me.”

He winced slightly at her tears and shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry,” he breathed softly.

Her face fell and she nodded lightly, before turning and walking back to her father. “By your leave, Abaris.” She gave a quick bow and left hurriedly toward the village, with the calls out to her by her father quickening her pace even more.

The Abaris sighed deeply and turned to Daniel and the other members of his team. “Please forgive my daughter’s behavior. Seeing that you were not the Dream Giver has upset her. I assure you, she is usually the most cordial of many of my people.” He frowned slightly as he watched her form disappear over the rise.

“But Fath—uhm, Abaris,” Daphnis spoke up, “Elpis didn’t say that he was not the Dream Giver. All we know is that Daniel did not recognize her.”

Hebe lit up. “It is true, Abaris. He does look like the drawings!”

A few more murmurs of assent rippled through the small crowd.

The Abaris nodded. “Very true, my people. Very true.” He turned to SG-1. “Regardless of whether you are the Dream Giver or not, we never let visitors go without a meal. Please join us, friends. And perhaps we will settle this soon.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Irish Eyes Now Smiling in Heaven

Brian and I just learned that his great-grandmother (maternal) passed away this morning. She was 96 and had fallen and broken her back a few days ago. She had almost completely forgotten everyone in her life. Most of her time lately seemed like her mind was stuck back in Ireland, where she's from. Her husband passed away some time ago (Brian believes it was more than 10 years ago). While I had seen her several times since I've known Brian, she never recognized me, but that's okay.

I know that she's now with her husband and other loved ones, and that she can now remember everything and she's no longer in pain. And, we know that the next time she sees us she will know us.

Here's a picture of Brian with her taken at our wedding almost 3 years ago -- I absolutely love this picture (taken by Amy Herfurth).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5 Years Ago ...

Brian and I met.

Sometimes it doesn't feel like it's been five years. Other times, it feels like we've known each other for ages. Little did I know that when he first hugged me hello, my life would go in a direction that I didn't think it would. He has taught me the true meaning of friendship, which helped me see those that were truly my friends in my life. He loves to help -- especially me. But he will always be willing to help another, even if he doesn't know them.

I love that we can be silly together (because often we are), and I love how he supports me through my many endeavors (regardless of whether he understands them, or not).

So even though it was an April Fool's Day, I'm glad there was no tricking that day ... since it's led to the life I have now. (I could go on, but I'll save some gushing for our Wedding Anniversary.)

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