Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Fever Crafting

The Spirit of Art and Craftiness Has Taken Over!

Hello, all ye who stumble upon (or actually "follow") my blog.

I do not usually boast about what the heck I am up to 'round here...  Mostly, I'm an adviser, or a critic, per say.  I'll let ya know which restaurants piqued a "Sunny" interest, or how to be a successful Savvy Spender, or even which recent Hollywood attempt is worth your time and money.  But, this blog will be a bit different.

I'm certainly a busy little bee; being a diligent wife to my gorgeous, hard-working, good-humored, cycles-to-work-and-back-everyday, craftsman Husband... a devoted mother of two beautiful, intelligent, emotional, sensitive, curious, make-me-laugh, keep-me-on-my-toes daughters, (age 10 and age 17 months.)  And, oh yes, I'm the chauffeur, the chef, the calendar, the alarm clock, the task master, the maid, the organizer, and the English professor...  Oh!  AND the hair stylist!  (Oh yea... I have a state license to be that one.)  Not to mention... my feeble, albeit noble, attempts to be Queen of social media.

So, when do I have to time to remember how to be... an artist?  To self: "You remember, Sunny.  That thing you used to be..."

Well, recently, I've MADE some time.  And, thanks to the lovely platform, Pinterest, I've definitely had no lack in inspiration.

And without any further procrastination, (God knows how awesome I am at procrastinating,)  here are some photos of what I've been up to in these warmer temperatures while the back door's been open and the sun's been shining and the kitties have been lazily coming and going from in to out and in and back out again.

It all started with my eldest daughter's science project for school.  She did the entire project's research herself.  Heck, she even typed up all the work herself!  (She's an excellent typist for 10.)  But, as any good mom would be, I was in charge of the project's board and layout.
Well, after having to be so clever and cute with an incredible project featuring CATS, (and, who doesn't know how much I love cats!?)  After stamping on kitty paw prints in green and purple metallic paint... And after I couldn't get my eyes off the completed product...  It hit me:  I MISS PAINTING!  I MISS BEING CRAFTY!

It wasn't long after that, I'd made the decision to start a craft project I'd been wanting to do and actually had been collecting the supplies to do!

First... decorative wine bottles.
I got the idea from Pinterest,  ( Yarn Vases ) but also thought to combine it with yet another Pinterest idea...  and make the finished bottles into patio tiki torches! (How-To here: )

I started out doing an entire bottle in natural Jute.  Got that at Hobby Lobby for around $3.  Then on the next one, I added some green yarn I already had.  (First, I tried JUST using the green yarn, but it was entirely too soft to work with around the glass using only white school glue, so using it WITH the jute made it easy because the jute is coarse and more durable.)

 And, it's pretty simple really!  You just keep adding glue to the bottle as you wind the twine around it, working from top to bottom.

On the third bottle, I used a different green colour and by the fourth, I was feeling so brave, I used BOTH greens between the jute.  (This took much longer and was more difficult because of the softer textures of the yarn and having three strands of stuff to work with all at once.) 

The wrapped bottles look nice as decoration on my patio table as they await their true fate in becoming tiki torches.  Hopefully, my husband will be helping me with that SOON. ;)  But, for now, I'm still enjoying them.  
(See those naked Mason jars with the little LED candles inside?  Well, I couldn't let those be naked like that forever, now could
I?  But, we'll get to that later.

After such successful results and the beginnings of making my back patio just fabulous for spring, I knew it was definitely time to start painting rocks again.  That's right... rocks.
I started painting rocks many years ago and hadn't really had a chance to paint any since my baby had been born.  You know... babies are really ALL-CONSUMING aren't they? Duh!
Anyway, last weekend, I asked my husband if I could do some painting and pleaded my case, (as if I needed to,) about "how long it's been," and how badly "I need a break."  Wonderful man that he is, he agreed to take charge of the baby's needs/entertainment and let me do my thing!

I started out being quite clever, (I think,) and all without a fine-tipped brush!?  *sigh*  Got all my paints and brushes out, laid the newspaper down, brought over the cups of water... and no small brushes?!  Wait a minute... no BLACK PAINT EITHER!????  Dang it!  Who wants to go to the store to get supplies when you've already set up to do your project?  Not me.  So, I used a Sharpie for black and toothpicks for the fine details.  
The first day of painting had been so productive, the next morning, Hubby let me go to Michael's to pick up the missing supplies.  (Such a sweetie.) <3   Older daughter and I went rock collecting when I got back, too... so she could paint some also!  
Needless to say, I was a whole heap more productive THAT day.

Here's our family of ladybugs.  Emily painted them a baby. :D

I painted some fish...

A dream catcher.  Some strawberries...   Some pretty sayings and words...

An owl...

Some lyrics...

Touched up some older work that had gotten a little dinged up from many moves...

 By day three, I was painting just to keep painting.  And, I made these labels for my new plants...

I even got my little one to let me paint her hand and have her place it on a rock...  What a great memory!

While at Michael's, I picked up some googly eyes to make these funny rocks for the kids.  My 10-year old doesn't find them nearly as entertaining as my 1-year old. 

And, the painting continues...  I have about 4 other rocks I'm still working on even now!  Isn't my family awfully generous to grant me such delights?

And, remember those naked Mason jars from earlier?  Well, as promised, they got some Bohemian Country Glam... (Kinda would describe myself that way, too... and my style: Bohemian Country Glam.  Yea.  That's me.)  Just did these today actually.

Well, aren't they cute?  Some lace, ruffled elastic trim and natural jute twine and voila!  Adorable mood lighting.

I will never be spend so much time in that ol' not-being-an-artist-anymore period again.

I just love this stuff too much!!

What inspires you?  Are you working on anything at the moment?
Let me know!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sunny's Savvy Spender Suggestion #3 -a review-

Don Julio

I always passed these products in my grocery store, one reason because I didn't recognize the name and two because they were always so cheap.  At my favourite store, Smith's, they always have huge bins of the chips listed at 10 for $10!  $1 per bag?  How could dollar chips taste good?

Well, low on money one week and needing tortilla chips to go along with a meal I was cooking that night, I grabbed up a bag of these miraculously cheap chips.  (Hasn't the price of chips gone sky high?  CRAZY!  But, that's another rant altogether.) 

Since that night, I have purchased these chips again and again.  I tell you, they are REALLY GOOD!  My fave is the White Corn rounds.  I have to say they are the best tortilla chips from a bag I've ever had... and they were A DOLLAR!!?

"The Don Julio Promise" right on the bag states that they are "made locally from the finest stone-ground corn, cooked to perfection, and distributed fresh to your local store."  (And they MUST be fresh because the Use By Date is never too far away, unlike other preservative-packed chips.)  The promise ends with how proud they are of their growing family of products and the certainty "that you will share in our enthusiasm."

Well, I'm convinced.  I share that enthusiasm.  These chips are dang yummy!  Crispy and full of good corn flavor.  Will stand up to chunky salsas and thick dips.  A perfect compliment to any Mexican dinner for sure.

I enjoyed these so much, I had to do a little research.  Heck!  I'm writing a blog about chips!
Don Julio Foods is a local company based out of Clearfield, Utah.  They are father and son owned and have a growing list of products and brands including Clover Club Foods which was originally a local Utah company, too.

If you don't live in the western region of the U.S. you won't see these in your store.  And even if you DO, you still may have never heard of them or at least passed a wandering eye right over them and not known the deliciousness and value that lies therein.  But, don't worry, they're expanding their market and maybe with enough support they'll go national someday.  I know they have MY support!

How is this a Savvy Saver Suggestion?  Well, this is a great product for a reasonable price.  Lesson?  Don't pass up on trying something new just because it's cheap.  There might be a decent surprise in store for your brave efforts.  

So, try a lesser known, less expensive brand this week... and tell me about it!  I'll want to try it, too!  It's a wallet-friendly challenge.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sunny's Savvy Spender Suggestion #2

Buying meat in bulk and still being able to use it all before it spoils...  Yes, you can do it!  It's simple.
Most stores offer a discount if you buy their meat in larger quantities.  Some stores label them as a "Family Pack."  But, how can you consume all that meat before it goes bad?  Freeze the whole package and... well, what a mess trying to separate icy chicken breasts or break off frozen hamburger meat when you only need a pound or two.
*Just like my previous blog about freezing bread, this will take a bit of time, but it's definitely worth the time spent.
Solution?  Go ahead.  Buy meat in the large packages.  When you get it home, divvy it up and freeze it in parts.

Here are a couple of ideas...


 The majority of the time, I purchase hamburger in a 5-lb roll like this one.  No, it's not the leanest of beef.  It's not organic. But, when you're on a super tight budget, you really can't be so picky.  Feed your family the best you can.

 I like these rolls because they're cheaper than the packages of single pounds AND usually, they're conveniently marked by 1/2-pound measurements on the side.
After getting your groceries home, unload and put everything away except your meats.  Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice the roll in 1-pound increments.  Just slice right through the plastic... it won't hurt anything, (that's why the serrated knife is necessary.)
 Invest in some storage bags of different sizes.  You'll need them.

Place each pound into a quart-size storage bag.  Keep some paper towels on hand to wipe any meat or blood that may end up on the outside or on the zipper of your bag.  You don't want to spread anything yucky to the rest of your freezer goodies.
 And... tada!  There you go.  Five servings of hamburger meat already separated and ready to be thawed individually.


 I like to buy the butcher-cut breasts in a large package.  Store brand is almost always cheaper than a name brand.

Simply place one or two breasts in a storage bag.  I store two to a bag because that's usually plenty for a nice meal requiring chicken, i.e.: chicken tacos, enchiladas, chicken and pasta dishes, etc.  And, with only two per bag, it's a much faster thaw time.
 And... there we are... three nights of chicken safe in my freezer, safe from spoil, and convenient as all heck!

*This method can be used with other meats, too.  I do this for steaks, pork chops, chicken thighs, ribs, and more. 


**Helpful Hint: Do all your meat cutting and prepping on a large cutting board.  This makes cleanup a cinch and a lot more sanitary.  "I just love animal blood on my countertops," said NO ONE EVER!

Well, get to shopping, folks.  And, don't pass up those bulk packages of fresh meat.  Now you know how to make them work for you!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunny's Savvy Spender Suggestion #1

Always wonder why bakery bread costs less than big name brand breads?  Well, you're paying for the preservatives of course.
Don't you hate when you buy a fresh loaf of yummy fresh-baked bread from your grocer's bakery and it starts growing that notorious white/green fuzz indicating you didn't consume it fast enough?  Money wasted and food spoiled.
Well, with this quick and easy tip, you'll be able to send your kids sandwiches every day made with that delicious bakery bread instead of the more expensive, preservative-packed kind.
It's a cinch!  Buy two loaves of your bakery's pre-sliced bread.  When you get it home, pull out the sandwich storage bags and simply start packin'!  Place two slices in each bag and FREEZE.  That's it!  It's that simple!
When it's time to make lunches, pull out the number of bags you'll need, make the sandwiches using the frozen bread and place them right back into the bag.  Making the sandwich with frozen bread will keep it cool until lunchtime.  (If you're worried about that, just set the bread out the night before.)
I freeze a lot of bread.  It's always good when thawed... just like new!  But, don't ever put your bread in the refrigerator.  Did you know it actually causes the bread to go stale faster?

* Starch tends to crystallize at cool temperatures, and this process, sometimes called "retrogradation," happens about six times faster at refrigerator temperatures than at room temperature. Loss of water also speeds up this process, so you want to keep bread in a container that stops moisture from escaping.
You can freeze bread, which might not sound like too good an idea, but if you do it quickly, the bread doesn't spend too long at temperatures that favor retrogradation. 
*Courtesy of

Buying bread on the "Marked for Quick Sale" cart isn't a bad idea either.  Just get it home and pop it into the freezer ASAP.  I do it all the time and I'm VERY picky about the taste and appearance of the bread I serve on my table.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

True Sushi Company- Truly a Winning Choice

It was definitely a happy birthday for me this year, especially being able to partake in my favourite cuisine... SUSHI. Last year, I was a ripe watermelon about to burst with my second child, and as all of us female sushi lovers know, and much to our dismay, it's a forbidden meal while pregnant.
And, as it has become habit for our special events, my husband made us a reservation at our favourite place: True Sushi.
Our reservation was for later in the evening, however, our earlier plans had fallen through and with a simple phone call to the restaurant, our reservations were changed to a much earlier time and we were welcomed to come any time.
We were the only patrons when we got there due to our early  arrival.  Fine with me!  I don't enjoy crowded places.  The hostess said we could sit anywhere, so we picked the best booth at the front of the restaurant by the only outside window.

The restaurant's interior from the front booth

Since we were just enjoying our time alone and being out minus the kiddos, the hubby and I ordered some Sake. (We like it hot.) At True Sushi you can order a large hot sake for around $10... and believe me, it's plenty for two.

Hot Sake and complimentary Miso Soup 
while we surveyed the menu
We definitely knew we had to have the amazing appetizer we'd tried on our very first visit: Heart Attack.  It's incredibly delicious.  Fresh jalapeno halves stuffed with tuna, fried in tempura batter and topped with spicy mayo and Sriracha.  Oh my goodness, let me just tell you... these things are so yummy, you may want to order a second plate of them.
The Heart Attack
In summary, the evening was a great success... and I was full and content.  The sushi at True Sushi is by far my favourite in the city.  Hayashi: overpriced.  Sushi King:  well, even though it's the EXACT same menu as and the predecessor of True Sushi, the atmosphere is much different and I don't feel as appreciated there.


Lady in Red ++
Tiger Roll
Philadelphia Roll
New Mexico Roll +
Crazy Roll +++
Tako (Octopus) ++

To top off my third and most excellent experience here, when I asked our server to thank the sushi chef and compliment him on a yet-again fabulous meal, with his return thanks, he sent over a complimentary (and quite ADORABLE) dessert. 

Sliced orange with fresh creme and chocolate sauce

True Sushi is family-owned, tasty, tidy and well-run.  The staff is super friendly and polite.  From our first experience nearly one year ago on Valentine's Day to our massively-huge take-out order for our Wedding Anniversary picnic, True Sushi has come through for us on taste, presentation and efficiency.  My husband and I just wish we could frequent the joint more often.  We plan on returning for V-day again this year.  I can't wait!!

Our Anniversary platter, complete with two salads they added free of charge... just because it was our Anniversary.  As you can see... my husband had already been attacking the rolls before I could snatch this shot.  Soooo good.

True Sushi is perfectly located right off I-25 directly across from Cinemark Century Rio 24.  So, have a lovely time dining at True Sushi Company then head across the parking lot to catch a flick!  What could be a better combo?

True Sushi Company on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Five Guys Who Got it Right

This will be a quickie. But, I just have to recommend Five Guys Burgers & Fries!

A few months ago, the family and I headed over to our neighborhood Five Guys. I had never eaten there before and I'd been reading such rave reviews.


All the feel of a Fifties-ish diner and one of the best burgers you'll ever eat. Cheesy, meaty, savory excellence on a bun.

Try the jalapenos on that burger... guess what? They're fresh! Not the soggy, pickled things you usually get.  Onions are the perfect size and flavorful.

Fries were good, (not perfect,) and they sure don't skimp on the serving size.  My baby sure liked them.  We had an order of regular fries and an order of seasoned fries.

 The family was happy.  I was happy.  Great place.  Certainly a stop everyone needs to make eventually.

Happy kiddos. 

If you've eaten here... let me know what YOU thought!  If you haven't yet... make sure you try it soon!

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon