Friday, December 19, 2014

Shared Post: Sausage-Mushroom Appetizers

Note: This recipe originally appeared on my sister blog, LivingAfterWLS Blog, a site dedicated to the healthy long-lasting weight management of weight loss surgery patients. I thought you might enjoy it here at Crafting with KeepHer and Kaye.

Protein: The "Power" Nutrient
"No matter if you're young, old or somewhere in-between, eating enough protein plays an important role in good health at every age and life stage."
Protein: Power Nutrient

Cheesy Sausage Mushroom Appetizers

A classic appetizer to make, share, and enjoy this holiday season. Taking a cue from the classic Jimmy Dean® cheesy sausage meatballs, this version employs mushroom caps to hold the meaty goodness in a tidy bite-size portion. Adjust the recipe to taste using any variety of Jimmy Dean® roll sausage being mindful of the fat content. 

1 (16-ounce) package Jimmy Dean® Premium Pork Reduced Fat Roll Sausage
3/4 cup all-purpose baking mix
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded medium Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
pinch teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
18 medium-large button mushrooms, stems and gills removed

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Gently mix all ingredients except mushrooms in a large bowl just until blended. Stuff 1 1/2-tablespoons of sausage mixture into each mushroom cap, mounding sausage and pressing into a dome shape. Bake 18-24 minutes or until done (internal temperature 160°F). Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

18 servings (1 stuffed mushroom each)

Mound sausage in mushroom caps as shown above.

Leftovers Hint: Breakfast Skillet
Chop or slice any leftover stuffed mushrooms and warm in a skillet. Add eggs, lightly mixed, to sausage mixture and cook until eggs are done. Serve warm and enjoy a protein power start to your day!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Trekking to the Forest for a Christmas Tree

Hello Friends and Loyal Readers! Thanks for dropping by today. I received a few emails asking if our Peacock Splendor Christmas Tree is real or artificial. It is most positively real, shaped by nature, and wonderfully fragrant. It is a great part of our holiday tradition to make the annual trek to the National Forest designated tree cutting area and select a most perfect specimen. Tall, but not too tall. Bushy, but not too full. Symmetrical but not too symmetrical. We are in search of the perfect tree and hope to find one that's a bit quirky with personality. Oh really, there aren't so many rules, perhaps better called guidelines than rules. Keeping all this in mind we set about the hunt and when we've found the winner? What a thrill! Think about it: thousands and thousands of trees from which to choose. There can only be one winner. 

The Forest Service encourages this tradition and has established guidelines to protect the forest and provide a positive tree gathering experience to be enjoyed by all who are fortunate to experience this nostalgic custom rapt with memory making moments. Jim and I found our perfect tree last week. This 20-year family tradition truly marks the start of our holiday season.

According to the Forest Service "Many families have a tradition of getting a permit then heading to their local national forest to pick out their perfect Christmas tree. Most national forests allow users to harvest trees for personal use firewood and Christmas trees, but you must first have a Forest Service-issued permit and you must follow specific guidelines, which can vary from forest to forest." US Forest Service

Under crystal clear skies Jim pulls the tree through the snow to bring home in the truck. There is less snow than normal in our forest this year which makes tree spotting and harvesting much easier than years when the snow is deep and passage is slow.

 Once we arrive home Jim sets the tree in a stand while KeepHerKitty and I prepare the lights, garland, and ornaments for decorating. Here KeepHer inspects the lights for defective bulbs.

From the moment the tree is placed in the living room until we bid farewell to O'tannenbaum KeepHer considers it her personal shelter and hiding place. Or perhaps she is just waiting for presents? Whatever her reason, doesn't she strike a picture-perfect pose?

To see our tree in full holiday glory: Peacock Splendor Christmas Tree

Thanks for visiting today! Do you have a holiday tree cutting traditon?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Peacock Splendor Christmas Tree

I enjoy a theme in my Christmas decorating and  this year have attempted to capture Peacock Splendor. My vision includes copious use of sparkling ribbons, shiny ornaments, and numerous peacocks. In 2013 my theme was Peacocks in the Snow. Many of the decorations easily transitioned to this year's more opulent theme.

A white peacock looks quite proper amidst the branches and baubles.
A fillable ornament from last year: marabou fluff and peacock eye feather.
A royal blue peacock, one of 12 on the tree.
Teardrop Ornament.
Fancy white peacock.
Branches heavy with glitz and sparkle.
The tree aglow at twilight.
  Warmly glows the tree.
  Peacock Splendor.
Thank you for visiting, I hope you enjoyed this tour of our Christmas Tree.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Oh Stamp!

Several years ago my friend Kim sent me custom postage stamps with a picture of my Old English Sheepdog featured. That is Howard on the .39 cent stamp and a quick check on Wikipedia shows that was the USPS First Class postage rate in 2006. I was charmed with such a clever way to share my beloved dog in an unexpected way.

So naturally, KeepHerKitty was granted her own stamp in 2007 with a face value of .41 cents and again in 2011 with an ethereal image of her amongst the Christmas baubles (shown at left), face value .44 cents. Charvie Dog was not to be left out and he smiles with interest on the .42 cent stamp in 2008. I think Charvie and KeepHer, in these images, look like brother and sister!

I hope those who have received mail from us with one of these adorable stamps have enjoyed receiving it as much as I enjoyed sending it.

Clockwise from top: KeepHerKitty 2011, Charvie 2008, Howard 2006, KeepHerKitty 2007.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Today Inspired: Jewel of Autumn

"Pomegranates have been cherished for their exquisite beauty, flavor, color, and health benefits for centuries. From their distinctive crown to their ruby red arils, pomegranates are royalty amongst fruit. They are symbolic of prosperity and abundance in virtually every civilization. Fortunately, this treasure’s versatility and possibilities are as abundant as the juicy arils bursting forth from within."
~ Pomegranate Council

Enjoy my recipe: 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Give Peace a Chance

Peace on Earth

A common sentiment this time of year.

A wishful unreachable dream when listening to news from around the world. But if we give up the dream what is left? For me and my family the wish for Peace on Earth begins at home. Early in the Christmas planning season I came across a few bloggers who captured the sentiment of Peace on Earth using a globe and those words. Some painted the globe entirely in chalkboard paint and hand scribed the words on the surface. Others crafted banners and bunting displaying them on unpainted globes in homage to the season.

We are fortunate to have a stunning world globe hand crafted by a lapidarist using semi-precious stones indigenous to the area to define nations and countries. Obviously it would not do to paint this likeness of Mother Earth, a precious artwork in it's own right. So I imitated the buntings and banners to make my own statement of Peace on Earth.

Normally the globe sits atop the poker table except when card games are in progress. So it seemed fitting to craft my peace bunting from used playing cards using the Silhouette electronic cutting machine. The letter tabs are cut from the face of red heart and red diamond cards and backed with black card stock. The tag for each letter is cut from the back of red Bicycle brand playing cards.

A small tag placed behind and between each letter tag is cut from the face cards from the same Bicycle deck. I used white yarn to string the tags on and then tied each tag in place with baker's twine. I like how the rich patterns from the face card tags contrasts with the opal oceans on the globe.

To secure the banner to the globe I used Scotch(R) Reusable Adhesive Tabs which will not leave a residue on the globe. After great discussion Jim and I agreed the simple word "PEACE" was statement enough without adding the preposition "on Earth."

Peace on Earth. Perhaps an unreachable dream, but what if we all were to give peace a chance, starting at home. Where might the dream take us?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Exquisite Cranberry Pomegranate Compote

(Note: Also featured on my LivingAfterWLS Blog)

I have been making variations of cranberry sauce for many years now and never quite landed on my "this is it" ideal that I sought in making a cranberry sauce to serve at holiday meals in compliment of the turkey protein. I was looking for something not too sweet, not too spicy, but bursting with fresh wow-in-the-mouth flavor.  This year I think I've achieved my goal thanks to the addition of the "Jewel of Autumn" -- the pomegranate. From the Pom Council:
"You see those glistening red jewels inside? They’re called arils, and they’re full of delicious, nutritious sweet-tart juice surrounding a small white crunchy seed. You can eat the whole arils including the fiber-rich seeds, or spit out the seeds if you prefer." Pom Council

 Here is the recipe as I made my cranberry sauce this year. It may be a bit tart for some tastes, which can be corrected with the addition of more sugar or even honey. Everyone at our Thanksgiving dinner complimented the sauce and I appreciated a few requests for the recipe.  I hope you'll give this delicious condiment a try and include it in many of your high protein meals.

Kaye's Exquisite Cranberry-Pomegranate Compote

Makes 3 1/2 - 4 cups  

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (the seeds)
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup mild white onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup 100% orange juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 sprig fresh thyme
pinch kosher salt
pinch red pepper flakes
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 or 2 star anise

Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pot and gently warm over medium heat. Increase heat slightly and allow compote to simmer 40 minutes until cranberries burst and ingredients are a soft thick mixture. Remove from heat and discard thyme leaf, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Taste for flavor and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If added sugar is necessary return to heat and cook until added sugar is dissolved and incorporated.

Serve at room temperature with poultry, pork, or cheese. Store refrigerated up to two weeks.

Recipe Idea:  For a delightful cheese ball mix 1 part Cranberry-Pomegranate Compote with two parts cream cheese and serve on crackers or toast points. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Stitch: Oh What Fun it Is!

Who would think a grid woven fabric, colored floss, a needle, chart, and rhythmic counting stitch in-stitch out could be so much fun and produce a plethora of objects d'art to suit every skill level and personal taste? I'm talking about counted cross stitch, a crafty pastime that brings me great joy. Perhaps my greatest stitching joy comes in the creation of a holiday piece to be displayed just once a year when the season is right. Remember KeepHerKitty's Halloween Treat Bucket, check it out here: Halloween 2014

Holiday and Seasonal designs are very popular for being on trend while holding the promise of an heirloom in the making. If you've perused a stitch catalog, magazine, or online needlework store you know holiday designs are tops among designers and crafters . I'm not sure which I enjoy more: the act of crafting the holiday stitch or the feelings of joy and freshness in seasonal displays that stay for but a wink  when the season is at hand. Pulling a carefully stored piece from the tissue wrap for holiday display triggers recollections of the creation process, the joy of completion, and the pride of practicing a skill for the sake of adding a home spun touch to our holiday vignettes.

KeepHerKitty for Christmas

 KeepHerKitty for Christmas
This is one of my most favorite crafts projects ever. This pattern is designed by Beverly Johnston for Applejack Art Partners and sold as Kit #03358 by "Weekenders". In Ms. Johnston's original design the kitty is a sweet gray and silver stripped tabby with lime green eyes. As cute as that kitty is I simply could not resist changing out the colors to resemble my little buddy, nothing short of adorable if I do say so! What do you think? Do you see the resemblance? It was absolutely thrilling to watch my little companion come to life in floss, right before my eyes. This stitch worked up quickly in November and December of 2012.
Now, this next project was spur of the moment, started the day Issue 33 (December 2012) of Cross Stitch Gold from the United Kingdom arrived in my mail in late November.. I instantly fell in love with Durene Jones' "Christmas is Coming" on pages 46-51.


Countdown to Christmas!

Quickly I assemble the materials: 14-count white Aida cloth, DMC threads, and a needle and went to task counting and stitching. I was missing a few of the colors Ms. Jones recommended so I made substitutions with what I had without changing the palette. The deep hues were the first thing to catch my eye when I beheld this design and I didn't want to compromise that.  I managed to get the main design done with a few days to spare before St. Nick's arrival. As a shortcut instead of stitching the countdown tags I used die-cut stars and adhesive numbers for the count. To secure them to the stitch I used adhesive Velcro dots and without delay the countdown was underway. We've enjoyed this piece every year since, and I never did return to the project to make the tags as I was happily pleased with the glittery stars. Don't you love the whimsical colors and vivid graphics? Another family favorite in our home that is certain.

Now, as Christmas draws near (21 days don't ya know?) I am scrambling to finish a sweet stitch of two kittens each nestled in their own Christmas Stocking hanging from a bough. As you might expect I've altered the design so one little kitten is the likeness of KeepHer and the other the likeness of our outside cat, Crazie Kitty - a petite tortoiseshell calico with a shy demeanor and a big heart full of love. I hope to show it to you soon! Gotta run - the holiday stitch is calling my name!  Have a great evening, everyone.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Today Inspired: Enchantment

I have always loved the first snow of winter when all at once the world becomes other-worldly in a silent sacred way. What better words to capture this than those from John Boynton Priestley (1894-1984), the critically acclaimed Yorkshire dramatist, who had a particular affection for the passage of time.

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?"

Our first snow came Sunday November 30, 2014, remarkably late in the year for the high desert of Wyoming where September snow is entirely ordinary. Sunday morning, in the heavy still cold air, the kind that heralds the storm's grand entrance, we festooned this wreath around the trunk of "The Grand Tree" in our middle yard. In appreciation the clouds released their giant fluffy vulgar flakes to whirl about waltzing to winter’s soft melody. 

The Grand Tree is 22 years old and for the last ten years it has been our tradition to hang a holiday wreath upon it to herald this most wonderful time of year. Thank you for joining us in this most cherished tradition this year.

Copyrighted Images by Kaye Bailey (2014)
Shot with Canon Rebel XS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens
Exposure: 1/320 F5, ambient outside light, heavy clouds, no flash, compulsory light, ISO 400.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Autumn Home Tour: 2014

So many bloggers are showing off their pretty homes adorned with the colors and textures of Autumn. Taking a look in another crafter's home is so inspiring. In that light I hope you'll be inspired by something I've done with our home for this most lovely of seasons.
Please come in, take a look at my vision of autumn and the season of gratitude.
The living room fireplace and mantel:

The mantel:

 Fall chipboard screen lined with vellum and illuminated with flameless candles (behind the screen).
Crafted with Silhouette Cameo, design file # 46939 by Megan Hardy Designs.
Happy Thanksgiving placard, Silhouette Design ID#65238 by Echo Park.


Autumn Shelf Art: various Silhouette files and stash paper and fibers.

Rafia wreath with cascading leafs and felt pennant bunting,
hanging indoors on the Summer Deck French Door.


Autumnal centerpiece, with potpourri and holiday baubles atop the piano.

Reflections of autumn in the piano top.

Textured everlasting sunflowers.

Thank you for joining me here.
I wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.

The Great Turkey Invasion of 2014

It is officially Thanksgiving Week at our House:
The Turkeys Have Arrived!

In a Thanksgiving world full of chalkboard pumpkins, burlap napkin rings, and spiced pumpkin latte served from the bespoke beverage bar, the least urbane thing one could chose to adorn the banquet hall must most certainly be the honeycomb turkey. Long considered the silly (okay, tacky) table decoration of tasteless drug store shoppers, few bloggers and stylists are willing to let this crinkly-tissue bird of Thanksgiving past roost upon the table.

Call me tasteless. Call me tacky.
I love my honeycomb turkeys and I'm not ashamed to shout it to the world!
If my memory is correct these honeycomb turkeys are the first thing I ever purchased online from, of course, eBay! My flock of six beautiful birds has held a place of pride on my Thanksgiving table now for 18 years. I love pulling them from the storage bin, unfolding the tissue as the sound of crisp crinkling paper heralds their arrival and the advent of my most favorite holiday ever: Thanksgiving!
 The paper tabs that once secured the birds in open stance have long been broken, so I secure their full bloom with paperclips hidden in the folds. Look fast, they are only here for a week or maybe two. That makes their appearance ever so much sweeter.

Nostalgia at its finest: the Honeycomb Turkey.
It's hard to imagine why these honeycomb tissue birds are sadly extinct.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Details: Autumnal Pumpkin Pennant Pillow

Last week I showed you my Fun and Festive Autumnal throw pillow cover on this post:
 Here is another look at the 16x16-inch pillow cover:

The Details:
The felt applique is attached to a homemade denim pillow cover with an envelope closure in the back. I didn't even add buttons for the closure, just your basic envelope closure. I keep a modest inventory of felt on hand for those felt craft emergencies. Actually, I believe one can never have too much felt! I love the texture and how it lends itself to so many crafts be it sewing, gluing, cutting, and/or pinning.
My felt comes from Commonwealth Felt, a division of National Nonwovens. The felt is superior quality, made in the U.S.A., customer service is terrific and shipping is crazy fast.
Check them out online:

It may seem fastidious, but I developed an organizational system for my felt so I can easily create a color palette for a project, reorder a beloved color, and keep track of my inventory. Check out the 4x6" file cards with the product label and fabric swatch:
 On some swatches I've matched DMC embroidery thread to the felt, this also lends ease in planning a project.  On this particular project I used 12 different colors, some came from the scrap pile and with this system I was able to identify the felt type, color name, and product number. This would be most useful if additional material was needed to complete a project.

The pumpkin is done in FiestaFelt (100% acrylic) named "Orange" (I know - obviously right?!), with Loden Green FiestaFelt for the vine and Copper Canyon FiestaFelt for the stem. The background is Mellow Yellow in a 35%-Wool-65%-Rayon blend. I love this color and texture.
I used the same colors on all my autumnal felt adornments used throughout the kitchen-dining-living rooms to lend a cohesive theme throughout.

It would seem KeepHer Kitty approves as she enjoys the
Autumnal Pumpkin Pennant Pillow in her favorite chair!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Today Inspired: Luminous Eyes

My beautiful KeepHerKitty. And I was never going to be a "cat lady"!  Who could resist?
luminous (lō´mə nəs) adj. [[ME < L luminosus < lumen, ]] 1 giving off light; shining; bright 2 filled with light; illuminated 3 glowing in the dark, as paint with a phosphor in it 4 clear; readily understood 5 intellectually brilliant –SYN 1 bright --Webster's New World College Dictionary

Shot with Canon RebelXS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens
1/100 F2.8, ambient light, no flash, ISO 400
Image by Kaye Bailey
Beautiful Creature by God

Friday, November 14, 2014

Autumnal Pillow Cover

This is a quick and easy throw pillow cover to compliment my autumnal decor. I carried on the felt pennant bunting theme with two streamers waving above the freshly harvested pumpkin. I blanket-stitched the 12x12-inch golden felt background to a pillow slip made of denim.  The small touches like this fall inspired throw pillow add cohesiveness as seasonal decor mixes with everyday furnishings.

And it just makes me happy. Who can argue against that?

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