Scrapbooking Recipes

When I started scrapbooking a little over fifteen years ago, I joined some internet scrapbooking communities so I could learn more techniques and connect with other crafters. It was in one of these groups that I meet my friend who showed me there was more to preserving memories than a traditional scrapbook. She had gifted me a recipe album and it opened up my eyes to the different ways we can share our story with future generations. All of the recipes were done like scrapbook layouts. I had a couple of cookbooks but never thought about making pages for my favorite ones, or when a book got ruined, taking out the recipes I used and making a layout to preserve them.

2015-09-26 12.05.12Nowadays, I find myself using recipes I find on the internet more than my cookbooks as it’s easier to find a recipe to use with the ingredients I have on hand. But, sometimes I couldn’t find the recipe again. Either I forgot to bookmark it, my favorites got wiped out, or if I printed the recipe it was getting illegible from using it while cooking and the website wasn’t printed on the page. I kept reminding myself to scrapbook the new recipes so they’d be protected in a protector, and I liked showcasing the recipes with a little of my own creative spin.

recipe crop

My cropping set up for working on the recipe pages.

It wasn’t until we started getting the Blue Apron orders that I knew I had to set aside some scrapbooking time to work on my recipe pages. We were enjoying the recipes from Blue Apron and I wanted to keep them in a binder. Why just put them in a binder when I could make some layouts with them? I’d have to find an alternate method of scrapbooking as the traditional way wouldn’t work as the 8 1/2 x 11 inch cards had the ingredient list on the front and the steps on the back. Pocket style scrapbooking was the way to go. I could see both front and back, and by using 12×12 pages, I could add some decorative touches and comments.

I bought a Fuse, a tool that’ll seal the page protector, so I could create my own pockets. I placed the recipe into the binder, then fused on the side so the recipe stayed in place. I added pattern paper on the top and side of the recipe to add journaling and embellishments. On the side panels on my pages, I noted our favorites and also any changes I’d make the next time we cooked the recipe. There was one where the mint was a little strong for me so I noted “less mint” for the next time.

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West Virginia Craft Week – October 2-11, 2015

WV-Craft-Week-LogoThis is the first year West Virginia is having a craft week, and I’m so excited. (I know that time period equals more than a week, but it’s the official date for the event.) It’s so great to see artisans being celebrated across West Virginia, and the event is also happening in other parts of the US. There are many events around the state where you can get a glimpse at the crafting process and meet some of the artisans in your area. The Tamarack Foundation has a wonderful list of some of the events taking place in West Virginia. Artisan Events in WV.

It’s a great time to find beautiful, unique handcrafted items for your home, as gifts, and you might see a craft demonstration that you’ll introduce you to your new hobby. I already found a place, somewhat local to me, that’s offering knitting classes. I’ve always wanted to knit, and this is the perfect week to find the information as it’s sign of encouragement for me to try a new craft.

This weekend, I plan on attending the Burlington Apple Harvest (as long as it doesn’t get rained out due to Hurricane Joaquin). I look forward to this event every year. It has a great mix of crafters, vendors, wonderful food, and an awesome flea market section. The first thing I always do is look at all the handcrafted items and put together my buy list. After doing my craft shopping, it’s time for a trip back to the car to load up my purchases before getting an apple dumpling and either chili or barbecue chicken. And my day wouldn’t be complete without browsing around the flea market area where I’ll find more handcrafted items, last year I redecorated my new kitchen last year with cute themed towels, Disney memorabilia to add to my collection, and this year I’m on the lookout for picture frames made from recycled wood.

To celebrate the first day of Craft Week, I’ll share some pictures of a few of my favorite projects. Now that I spent some time browsing my handcrafted item pictures, I want to craft. Instead, I must get to my other creative outlet–writing–and work on Scrap This mysteries number 5. (still debating between titles)

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Disney autograph book

cruise 2012 up

A layout of my children parasailing.

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A card I made for a very helpful friend.

Midnight dreary

A framed quote I made for an auction.

The End of a Garden

2015-07-29 17.02.04It’s time to say goodbye to our garden. We’ll be picking our last harvest tomorrow., not that there’s much left. The temperature is cool in the morning and the plants are no longer thriving. I was hoping to have one more batch of tomatoes, but it is not to be. I have enjoyed my time in the garden this summer and am bittersweet at its depature. I love my almost 5-foot tall jalapeno plant and would love to wait it out and see just how tall it could get. But alas, my husband is ready for the last mow of the season, and to prep the garden for next year, so it’s time to get the last of the vegetables and dig up the remainder of the plants (to make it easier for him to mow).

I have plans to make the garden a little bigger for next year because there wasn’t enough space for all I planted. This was our first year gardening and we were told not to worry if some of our plants didn’t take. It happens. Well, we had beginner’s luck and lost only one tomato plant. Okay, we did “lose” all four of our green bean plants but that was because of the rabbits. Baby rabbits are the perfect size to sneak between the holes in the wire fence. And those little rascals love, love, love green beans.

Some of the lessons/tips I’ve learned this year are:

  1. If the recommended planting space is 18-24 inches, go with 24. Once the plants started growing, there wasn’t enough space to easily weed, and I broke a few plants.
  2. Marigolds. Our 4-foot tall fence didn’t keep out the deer. One morning, my husband saw a buck in the middle of the garden chowing down on the tomatoes. He yelled at the deer and it jumped out. We noticed a neighbor still had lovely, red tomatoes in their garden, and had marigolds planted on the corners. Apparently, deer do not like the smell of the marigolds and it keeps them away. I’m not sure about that, but since it worked for them, I’m all for giving it a try.
  3. Four plants of four different types of hot peppers equals an overabundance of peppers. Next year, we’ll go with one less variety. Three of them my husband really liked for making his homemade hot sauces.   2015-09-02 11.07.17 2015-09-12 18.32.17
  4. Add mesh to the bottom of the fence so rabbits don’t bring their babies to your garden to use as a buffet. If I looked out the window and saw the mom and dad rabbits (or maybe they were all moms or all dads) sitting a few feet away from the garden, that meant the offspring were munching away on the green beans.
  5. I have gained a love for eating vegetables. For some reason, vegetables from your own garden taste so good.
  6. Gardening can become very addictive. There’s just something about growing food that is so satisfying. I have to say my most exciting moment was when it was time to harvest the brussel sprouts. I was telling everyone I could that I “made” brussel sprouts. It’s a highlight of my summer that ranks right by there with going to Disney World.


This winter, I plan on learning about canning and pruning so I can enjoy next year’s bounty more.2015-09-12 18.16.11

My Blue Apron Journey Continues: Crispy Catfish with Freekeh

I started a new job so things have been hectic around my house. I’m still working on finding the balance between writing, the new job, and taking an online class, not to mention finding time to enjoy my hobbies. My meal choices are once again reverting back to the standard meals I made when my children were younger and we had sport commitments. The food I’m cooking is good, but I had been looking forward to branching out and making more “elaborate” meals. Thank goodness for Blue Apron. This service allows me to have three days during the week when I can try new recipes and some new foods.

I have a half a shelf in the fridge dedicated to the Blue Apron food so no one uses those ingredients for something else. I group the ingredients for the meals together, placing the vegetables into a storage bag so I won’t have to hunt for them. As I can’t start dinner until later in the evening, it’s nice having everything sorted so I can collect the items needed for the recipe and just start cooking.

2015-09-03 20.14.45From our newest order, our favorite meal was Crispy Catfish with Freekeh. My husband and I had never had freekeh before and I’ll admit we weren’t that excited about trying it and kind of put it into the category of something we wouldn’t enjoy. We were wrong. It was one of our favorite parts of the meal. The combination of the freekeh with the vegetables was outstanding.

My husband usually isn’t a fan of tomatoes, matter-of-fact he avoids them unless they are a part of a Blue Apron meal. The combination of spices and additional ingredients added with the tomatoes (or tomatoes are added to) turns this once hated vegetable into a favorite of my husband’s.

While I was preparing the side dishes, my husband was cooking the catfish. (Sidenote: I have to say my favorite thing about Blue Apron is that it’s turning into a lovely hobby my husband and I share.) He read the directions a few times to make sure the catfish was only to be coated on one side. He’s cooked fish many times and this was the first time a recipe said to only flour one side. The fish turned out wonderful. We both enjoyed having the bottom of the fish crispy while the top remained tender.

I can’t week for our next meals to arrive. Stay tuned for more adventures in what is turning out to be a new hobby. I am thoroughly enjoying cooking again.

SRP Heroine Interview: Aggie Mundeen from Smart, But Dead

Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, I’m chatting with Aggie Mundeen about her latest case, and the woman who is helping Aggie tell the world all about her adventures.

  1. SMART BUT DEAD cover frontTell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Pushing forty and appalled at the prospect of descending into middle-age decrepitude, I blasted off to the local university to study the genetics of aging. I’d find youthful hints for readers of my column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” and I’d learn how to stay young myself.

Despite conflicts with my professor, I was fascinated learning about  human genome projects and  DNA. Then I stumbled upon a dead academic. Detective Sam Vanderhoven, San Antonio PD,  reminded me to avoid the investigation. But dangerously curious and programmed to prod, I  was compelled to find the killer. I wound up the prime suspect and was on target to become next campus corpse.

  1. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Nancy G. West, who tells my stories, heard that genes affect aging and wanted to know more about it. That’s what usually gets me into trouble. As a business and English literature major, she didn’t know squat about genetics. Her last science course was college biology. So she had to rely on scientists to explain genetics. Unfortunately, they speak their own language. She had to decipher what they told her and then put it into language she and I could understand.

  1. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never. While working my way up to vice-president in a Chicago bank, like a squirrel counting nuts, I did think I should be enjoying a more exciting existence. When I had an unexpected windfall, I fled from the brutal winters and moved to Texas.

  1. Who would you say is least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

Detective Sam is appalled when I assist in his investigations. But it’s extremely satisfying to solve crimes and restore justice. He believes that, too, and I like being around him. He’ll just have to get used to me.

For Nancy:

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Weakness: I prefer writing scenes with Aggie and Sam before I’ve completed the research needed for the plot.

Strength: I love writing dialogue scenes with Aggie and Sam.

Strange isn’t it, how our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness?

  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess means to you.

I’d rather die than become a clinging vine. But I’m not ashamed to ask for help when I need it.

  1. What one bit of advice/wisdom would you like to pass on to young women?

Take time to find out who you are before you go looking for somebody you think will make you complete.

  1. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

Determination and perseverance wins. Even if the goal changes or moves farther away (or you’re arrested and somebody wants you dead), you’ve won the prize of being able to persevere.

  1. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Since we’re all multifaceted, our lives have many themes. I guess my song  would be “I Did It My Way”,— with help, compassion and the grace of God.

  1. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? (another book featuring this heroine)

If Aggie and Sam manage to get out of the mess in Smart, But Dead without killing each other, there will undoubtedly be another situation where  I’ll feel obligated to use my sleuthing skills.

Nancy has offered to giveaway an autographed Advanced Reader Copy to one lucky commenter on this post. Let us know about something you’d like to learn more about, and please leave an email so Nancy can contact the winner. The winner will be drawn August 30.

If you like to learn more about Aggie and Nancy, Aggie reveals more at Talk to Aggie on Nancy’s website:

Twitter: @NancyGWest_

Beginning my Blue Apron Adventure

blue apronTen days ago, I saw an ad on Facebook for Blue Apron, a service delivering fresh ingredients and the recipes for three meals to your home. I’ve been wanting to branch out from the standard meals I’ve been cooking (for what seems like forever), and expand our palate a little more. As we live in a rural area, some ingredients are hard to come by so Blue Apron looked perfect for us. I also liked the fact I could order a 2 person or family plan which your choice of omnivore or vegetarian…or you can mix it up a bit. My son is a picky eater, so I knew he wouldn’t eat the fancy meals but they were perfect for my husband and I. It would be a fun way to have an elegant, date night meal at home.

Another reason I ordered was to see the amount of ingredients needed to cook for two people. I have been cooking for 5 or more for such a long time I’d forgotten how to cook small. Most of the time we had so many leftovers, the same meal was eaten for lunch and dinner a few days in a row, unless it was something that could be frozen and remain edible (note: cucumbers do not freeze well). Also by having so much food available at mealtimes, I was encouraging huge portion sizes.

I hadn’t realized our mind-set until I made the first Blue Apron meal for my husband and myself. As I was preparing it, we both thought the protein (meat) included was rather small for a two-person meal. There was no way we’d be full after dinner, even taking into account the vegetable part of the meal. Much to our surprise, not only were we full but we had some of the vegetables left. We made the second meal yesterday, and again, discovered that the meat portion was exactly what we needed and not on the skimpy side. I’m looking forward to making the spicy meatballs tomorrow, and getting my next shipment in two weeks.

And a huge shout-out to Blue Apron for making it so easy to skip a delivery. In the delivery schedule, the next five weeks of meals are listed and I can choose which ones I’d like and the ones I prefer to skip. It’s so convenient to look at the menus and schedule the next couple of weeks at once rather than having to remember to check every week. I’m really looking forward to week when shrimp and grits is one of our recipes.


SRP Heroine Interview: Marian Frances Selby from Brilliant Disguise

brilliant disguiseI’d like to thank Marian Selby for stopping by the Self-Rescue Princess.

  1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? I was married to my high school sweetheart, Lee, for 19 years. When he died 11 years ago, I swore there would never be another man in my life. I mean, he was the love of my life. Then, Detective Charlie McClung stepped into my life, investigating the mysterious death of my next door neighbor and friend, Diane. Now, I’m struggling with my feeling for him and at the same time trying to figure-out who killed Diane.
  2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor? Diane was like the little sister I never had. And when the chief of police closed the case as a suicide, I knew I had to get involved.
  1. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime? No. I never imagined anything sinister happening in my life.
  1. Who would you say is the least pleased about your sleuthing? Detective Charlie McClung. He knows this situation is a tangled web of deceit, corruption, and complicated shadows and doesn’t want me getting hurt.
  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses? I think my strengths, besides being a good cook, are being observant and discerning. My weakness, I sometimes forget to watch my back.
  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you. It means I can survive without having to depend on anyone else but smart enough to get help when I need it, surrounding myself with wise and trusted friends who will always be there for me. Does that make sense?
  1. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women? It’s great to be self-reliant but never forget you are a woman and act like a lady. Call me old-fashion.
  1. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life? It’s good to have a real man in my life. Not just any man but a dependable gentleman.
  1. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be? In My Life by The Beatles
  1. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? Let’s just say, I’m always available, willing, and able.

If you’d like to get to know Marian better, you can find her story at:


SRP Heroine Interview: Ivy Meadows from The Sound of Murder

sound of murderWelcome to the Self- Rescue Princess, Ivy, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

Though I’ve been pursuing my acting and P.I. careers, it’s been a little crazy since my apartment caught on fire (did you know that firefighters won’t let you back in your apartment to get your clothes? Not even your undies?) But things are looking up: I met the nicest fireman, got a great housesitting gig, and landed my first P.I. case, a suicide in the retirement community where I’m housesitting. My acting career is really taking off, too. A big New York producer is coming to Arizona to see me in the world premiere of The Sound of Cabaret (singing nuns AND Berlin burlesque).

Now if I could just get over my little fear of singing in public. And stop worrying about my cast mate, Marge, who seems awfully forgetful lately. And fix my car, which seems to be catching on fire even more than usual. And ditch the posse member who’s following me. Then I have just one more thing to do–figure out why all of this seems to be connected to that one simple suicide case…

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No. But when my friend and fellow actor, Simon Black died of an apparent alcohol overdose during a production of Macbeth, I knew something wicked this way came. After all, Simon had turned his life around. I knew he wasn’t drinking any more, no matter the evidence. My Uncle Bob—a P.I., my part-time employer, and the nicest guy in the world—agreed to investigate. But after someone poisoned my uncle’s Big Gulp, it was up to me to find the killer (you can read about the case in a book called Macdeath).

During that adventure, I discovered a taste for detecting. And though I’m still mostly on admin duty at Uncle Bob’s P.I. firm, I’m really excited to work my first case. I know I’m going to be a great detective. After all, it’s in the genes.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

I love that term—a self-rescue princess. I was always annoyed at those fairytale characters who waited for something to happen to them. “Go out and make it happen!” I wanted to shout. I made my life’s dream come true. When I decided to make theater my profession, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled (my parents aren’t thrilled with me in general, but that’s another story). There was no money and no support. But I made my way. Sure, I’m still driving old cars and eating lots of beans, but I am an actress!

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Channel one of my heroes, Helen Keller, who said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Be daring.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

“I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews/Maria may skip and swing her guitar case, but she’s singing to give herself confidence before a big adventure. That’s me—a little scared of leaping into the breach, but confident that things will somehow turn out all right (you can see why my #2 theme song is “Cockeyed Optimist”)

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Funny you should ask. My uncle just got a call from Get Lit!, a book-themed cruise line (they’re the ones who had the husky incident on the S.S. Jack London). Seems there’s a theft ring onboard the ships, and they’d like the pair of us to go undercover on their Charles Dickens-themed boat. My uncle will pose as a wealthy guest, while I’ll work as an actress, playing Nancy in Get Lit’s version of Oliver Twist. It’ll be like a paid vacation with my favorite person in the world, plus a lead role, AND a $10,000 bonus if we crack the case. And we’re just talking about theft, so the job shouldn’t be dangerous…right?

If you’d like to read Ivy’s adventure, you can pre-order The Sound of Murder at these places (release date is Oct 6, 2015):


Barnes & Noble:



And if you’d like to read Ivy’s previous adventure, you can get Macdeath at the following places:


Barnes & Noble



What’s Next aka the Battling Plots

Midnight drearyWhen I finished writing Framed to Death, the first thing I did…okay the second after celebrating typing The End…was start working on the outline for book five in the Scrap This series. I always enjoy the first week after completing a book as I’m contemplating the different twists that could occur in Faith’s life. What will happen in her personal life? How about her professional life? How about her role/standing in the community with her role as the go-to-girl when someone has been wrongly accused? How does Faith, or someone in Eden, have ties to victim in the book? Will Faith’s sleuthing cause friction and heartaches in her relationships? These are usually the first questions I ask before I start working on the motivation for the crime, and the suspects in the story. I have to know what’s going on with Faith’s life, and in her community, first and from that point brainstorm a few ideas on what the catalyst for the crime.

I have tried plotting a book by deciding on how the murder would happen and where (plus, I always have two strong suspects but I don’t know which one it will be until the end of book), but the story didn’t really come together It felt too clinical, as I was relating everything to the murder and it took away the personal feel that I love about traditional/cozy mysteries. For me, I needed an underlying theme to focus on for the book to have the necessary ‘heart’ to connect Faith, and the reader, to the story.

It’s always a fabulous day when I have all the answers to my questions and can start outlining the book. I had found just the perfect idea for the book and started working on the outline, happy with how the plot and subplot were interconnecting. There was a bump or two I still needed to smooth out, but I knew I’d work it out once I started writing the actual book. My wonderful editor returned Framed to Death so I put the new book aside and began work on Framed (I must say I love…capital LOVE…editing time).

As I drove to the grocery store on Friday, a scene popped into my head for the new book. Usually that is wonderful, but this time the scene had nothing to do with the book I planned to write. This was a new idea. A different setting. Different key secondary characters. Different theme. Different motive. Different future, and hope, for Faith. And today on my way home from the auto repair place, I ‘saw’ the murder with two different scenarios on the when and how it could happen in the story. What is an author to do? And, also had to admit to myself that the new idea worked so much better with the working title.

Dare I start on this new path rather than stick with the old? I have a plan. It’s a good plan. But, this new one excites me with the future it holds for Faith, the simple…yet complexity…of the motivation of the killer, and most importantly the opportunity to show a truth I believe in strongly. Can I be brave enough to write this new idea? I put a little bit of me into every book, I believe every writer does, but I’ve always made sure what I included wasn’t too personal and didn’t give away too much of me.

Maybe it’s time I did?

Maybe, it’s time I did.

Autograph Books for Disney Trip

2015-06-05 10.35.08For our trip to Disney World (we’re doing 3 character meals), I made autograph books for the little ones. I usually buy them at the parks, but I wanted them to have one that was a little unique. I chose some chipboard covers that were similar in size to the autograph books sold at Disney. I had originally planned on using a larger size but figured they’d be bulky to carry, and maybe the characters had a harder time holding square shaped books as the ones I’ve seen were always rectangle.

After I settled on the size, I went to planning the design. I saw a lot of examples that I loved on Pinterest and pinned a few. I loved the designs where multiple colors and patterns of paper were used to decorate the front. I gave it a try at this and for some reason couldn’t get my papers…even though they were from the same line…to coordinate in the Disney style I wanted. I was starting to get frustrated then thought I’d use my collection of Disney washi tape.2015-06-05 11.24.33 I love Disney. I love washi tape. Why not used the beloved tape on the covers of the books? I love washi tape so much I even gave the product a starring roll in my novel Designed to Death.

The first book I made was going to be for a little boy and have his favorite character, Sully, on the front. I chose to use different tapes for the strips with the Disney word tape in the middle and at both ends. I wanted to make sure the inside of the back and front of the covers were decorated so added a die cut Boo and Mike to those pages. 2015-06-05 10.40.05The step that took the longest was cutting out the autograph pages as I wanted them to match the shape of the book.

I traced the cover on a heavy weight cardstock, folded it in half, then cut the pages out. Each book has 20 pages…enough pages for 40 signatures if each character uses a separate page. I used rings to hold the pages together because it would be easy to add more pages if needed. The pages looked a little2015-06-05 10.35.34 plain (and I couldn’t erase all the pencil marks off), so I inked the edges.


For the two girl books, I decided to go with alternating the tape designs and using the Disney word tape as the starting point by putting it in the middle of the book. For these books, I used Elsa and Anna as the cover character and then a word phrase and Olaf on the ‘inside’ back cover.2015-06-05 10.36.15 2015-06-05 10.40.10


Earlier I mentioned making the pages took the longest amount of time with this project and that’s because I have a box of die cuts. I find using the Cameo and Cricut relaxing so the days where I want to craft but not make scrapbook pages (and I’ll even do this at retreats), I cut out characters and phrases and put them in my box for later.2015-06-05 11.25.44 Sometimes, I’ll use them on pages or another project, and there have even been a few times I’ve let the little ones play with the ‘paper people’. Like me, they love Disney so prefer the Disney characters over the other ones in the box. It’s probably why my box is mainly filled with Disney themed die cuts…and the fact that last few times we’ve taken large family vacations they’ve been Disney related.

I can’t wait to get to Disney and our first character meal and give the little ones they’re autograph books. I kind of wish I made one for me.

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