Months with Alexa

Thursday, May 7, 2015



We have had Amazon's Echo for months now and I feel like I can finally post an opinion about her.  We first had Alexa in the den.  The first weeks I would ask her to play music so I could listen to something while I cooked or worked.  The problem is Addison complained that it was too loud and bothering him or he would just come in and tell her to stop or play something I did not want to her.  He just loves bugging me.  We also had to unplug her every time the rabbit was out. All of our cords in the den are in PVC pipe because Stefano loves cords especially speaker cords.  He has already chewed thru one laptop cord.  So every time Stefano is out Alexa is unplugged and sometimes stays unplugged for days because we forget to plug her back.  I started feeling like we were not really using Alexa so I had an idea, lets move her to the bedroom.

I have had Alexa on my night stand for 2 weeks now and I love it.  I have found some great relaxation music on Amazon prime.  Now while I am falling asleep I am listening to the sounds of rain and crashing waves.  This is especially really good when hubby is out of town and I can not sleep because I hear every creak and bump in the house.  I have noticed that I am sleeping better and falling asleep faster.  I also use Alexa as an alarm clock to wake me up every morning.  She has a nice tone that is not harsh and loud that slowly wakes my up.  Then I ask her to give me the news report so I can know what is happening in the world that day.  Then I ask her to play something up beat to get me moving.  Some mornings I just need some "Walking on Sunshine".

So far my nights have been relaxing and my mornings have been better.  I am really happy I thought about moving her and she is staying on my bedside table permanently.  Oh and last weekend I asked her to play me some Madonna while I folded laundry.  She played songs that I had totally forgotten about and laundry was actually bearable.  I hate doing laundry.  Well actually not washing it.  I just hate folding and putting everything back up.  Anything that makes laundry bearable gets 5 stars in my book.

I guess I am saying I totally love our Amazon Echo.  Now I just have to get the Phillips Hue so she can turn off the lights in our bedroom.  I would also love her to lock all the doors so I don't have to get up every night to make sure everything is locked.  I know, paranoid much.  :) Well I will be working on all of this soon.

Talk to you soon,
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New Improved Paper and Pi

Thursday, April 30, 2015

As you can tell, I have updated the blog.  I have been in a rut lately and have not been inspired to post anything.  We have been very busy traveling, diving, and with school.  Now I finally have some extra time and I still don't know what to post.  I had a great idea last night.  I thought if I cleaned up the blog it would inspire me to write.  That usually works when I have to craft something and don't know how I am going to do it.  I end up cleaning up the house and viola I have inspiration.  Well I still do not know what to share but I am very happy the way the blog looks.  Please click around and enjoy.  Let me know what you think and what I should change.  And please follow me on Instagram and Facebook.  I might not blog everyday but I definitely Instagram everyday.

Thank you,
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Egg Cups

Monday, March 30, 2015

Since Easter is around the corner,  I have eggs on the brain.  It seems like everyone's Instagram feed is full of brightly colored eggs.  Eggs being painted on, eggs dyed with vegetables.   Addison is too old to dye eggs but I do love to look at everyone's beautiful colorful eggs.  But the more eggs is see the more eggs I want to eat.  I am not talking about hard boiled eggs.  I like my yolks runny.  I like to dip my bacon in a sunny side up egg.  Or a poached egg on top of a salad.  Or a soft cooked egg and dipping your toast in the yolk.

All this egg craving has made me think about egg cups.  The Chosen One has got me a little obsessed with egg cups.  She has decided to buy different types of vintage ones.   I think she is going to have a beautiful collection of them one day.


Her is her beautiful picture of her egg cup.  Doesn't that look delicious? We might be best friends but we have different taste.  The Chosen One is more elegant and refined.  

She would probably love these egg cups:


A Japanese vintage egg cup is perfect for The Chosen One.


This one might be too colorful for her but I think the top is interesting. 


I am more quirky and wild.  And love these:


My version of Japanese egg cups.  LOL!
You can buy them here.


I just love the little chicken feet.  


This one is really artistic.  
You can buy it here.


I don't know if this one would be easy to eat with but it sure is cute.
You can buy it here.


I believe this is the cutest egg cup and bread holder I have ever seen.
You can buy it here.


I don't know about these.  A little too cool for me.  I just think they are for the some to match their modern decor style.

Out of all of them I really love the bird on the branch one or the chicken feet.  Who knew there were so many different types of egg cups.  

Well now I need to make some eggs to satisfy my egg craving.  

Talk to you soon,

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Pinwheels by Paper and Pi

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I know I know.  I was going to start blogging on a regular basis and then I didn't post anything last week.  I got so busy with orders, snow,  and family stuff but I am back.   Yes, it snowed last week. Can you believe it snowed in Georgia?  It was beautiful and not as crazy as last year.  I am happy that Addison got to see snow again since he is a Georgia baby.  We had a snowball fight and relaxed at home for 3 days.  Since school was closed, Addison and I watched a lot of movies.  I thought it would fun to watch all the Oscar nominated movies since we didn't see any of them, except for "The Lego Movie".  I guess that counts.  We watched "Whiplash", "Birdman", and "Boyhood".  The were all good but "Whiplash" was our favorite.  "Whiplash" was amazing!  Addison said it was the best movie he had ever seen.  He watched it twice in one day.  If you haven't seen it, I suggest you watch it.  We believe it should have won Best Picture.  It had Addison sweating and me yelling at the TV screen.

While I was gone I did continue to cook and craft, I made my favorite pork tenderloin dish.  The recipe is from Tyler Florence and you can find it here.  The chimichurri sauce is so good.  I also
made a yummy roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches (of course).  I will share my roasted tomato soup recipe soon.



I purchased the new Baked Occasion cook book and haven't baked one thing out of yet.  I should never be too busy that I stop baking.  I really need to start baking this week to make up for this travesty.  :)




My orders have been actually taking up most of my time.  I love it when people purchase my creations.  I hear people tell me they like my stuff but one can always wonder if people are just telling you that to be nice.  When I receive an order, it really brighten my day and makes me realize I do create beautiful things.  This week has been pinwheels, pinwheels, pinwheels.  I got an amazing custom order to create pinwheels that could be used for table numbers.  What a great idea!  I had so much fun making theses especially since the pinwheels were the colors of the rainbow.  One can not smile when they are creating with colorful paper.  I love the way the turned out.





Since I was in a pinwheel mood, I decided that I need to introduce some more pinwheels to my shop. I try to make different types of pinwheels and think these turned out so cool.  Star Pinwheels!




I am thinking they would be great for Memorial Day or 4th of July.  But I was also thinking I could do them in different colors like black and gold for a birthday party or graduation.  

What do you guys think?  I am wondering what other interesting pinwheels I can create.  Well time to finish up these orders.

Talk to you soon,
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Recipe Cards

Monday, February 23, 2015

I love sharing recipes with everyone. The recipes I have made that I love and recipes that I have found and changed a little. The ones I love the most are recipes from loved ones that have been passed down from generations. It is great to have all these incredible recipes but how can one organize them. I organize my recipes on Pinterest. I am actually very proud of my Pinterest boards. I have a board for each type of meat, fish or seafood to cook. I also have baking boards broken down to with types of baked goods. Pinterest works well for people who don't mind keep all of their stuff on the web, but what about the people who want recipe cards in the kitchen. 

I have decided that all the recipes I post will come with a Paper & Pi recipe card for everyone to print out and cut. Each card can be cut to 4" x 6" dimension. They will be the perfect size to put into a recipe box of your choice. Just click on the picture and download the pdf. I will be slowly updating the recipes on the blog and recipe page.



So where are you going to store your Paper & Pi recipe cards? Well, I found some amazing recipe boxes to hold your recipe cards.

Rife Paper Co. has some of my favorites (of course):




One Canoe 2 Letterpress has a wood recipe box also but I really think the berry box is quite interesting:



I wonder if I could convince hubby to make me a wood recipe box? He loves working with wood and handmade gifts are the best. I will let you all know what he says. If he says Yes, I will have him make two so I can give one away to one of my readers. That would be a cute giveaway.

I hope everyone enjoys the Paper & Pi recipe cards. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Talk to you soon,

How to Make the Perfect Steak

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wow what a crazy week we are having in Atlanta.  School was cancelled Monday and Tuesday just in case the weather turned bad.  The only thing it did was rain.  It was not cold enough for it to turn into and make the roads dangerous.  It did get really icy in the North Georgia cities so I am glad they cancelled school just in case.  We all remember last year, when they did not cancel school and children were stuck at school and sleeping on buses.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  Yesterday was freezing the high was 27 degrees and the low was 13 degrees.  Addison said he wished they would have cancelled school yesterday than Monday and Tuesday.  I agree.  It was too cold to do anything.  I don't want to leave the house.  LOL!

Since it has been cold I have been cooking up a storm.  I love to cook when it is cold.  Comfort food is the best.  I made steak for the family Wednesday and I took some pictures and a video to show everyone How to Make the Perfect Steak. I hope you enjoy it.

How to Make the Perfect Steak

1.  Take your steak out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3.  Salt and Pepper your steak.

4.  Heat up about 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a cast iron pan on HIGH.



5. Wait until the oil and butter are hot and add steak.


While steak is searing carefully spoon brown butter over the steak.




The steak should sear for about 3-4 minutes.  Flip the steak when the steak has released from the pan. Never pull off a steak from a pan if it has not released on its own.

6.  Spoon the brown butter over the steak while the other side sears.  Sear again for about 3-4 minutes.

video


7. Remove from heat and place in the oven.  Check the temperature every 5 minutes.  Take steak out when it is 5 degrees below your ideal temperature.  120 degrees for rare.  130 degrees for medium rare.  140 degrees for medium. 150 degrees for medium well.  160 degrees for well.

8. Take the steak out of the oven and out of the pan and let it rest.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes.

9.  Pat yourself on the back and eat you delicious steak.






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Fast and Easy Chicken Gumbo

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I try to cook at least 3 days a week and also make sure there is enough for leftovers the next day.  Somedays I enjoy braising meat that can take hours.  Other days I just want to make something fast and easy that only takes about an hour.  Last night was a fast and easy night.  The bad thing is most fast and easy recipe end up without a lot of flavor.  Yesterday I wanted a fast chicken recipe so I searched my Pinterest.  I found Martha Stewart's recipe for Half-Hour Chicken Gumbo.  This recipe was fast and easy because the ingredients are a rotisserie chicken and pre-cooked andouille sausage.  I love chicken recipes that call for rotisserie chicken because it cuts the cooking time but still keeps great flavor.

The only problem is I read the comments and people complained that this gumbo was really bland.  I did notice that the only spice in this recipe is 1 teaspoon of oregano, which does not make me think of gumbo.  I thought why couldn't a take a really great gumbo recipe and use rotisserie chicken and pre-cooked andouille sausage.  When we make a Turducken for Christmas we use Chef Paul's Turducken and Stuffing recipe.  He is known for his Louisiana cooking.  I also had leftover Chef Paul seasoning from our Christmas Turducken. I found Chef Paul's Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo.  This recipe has you cooking the chicken and the sausage and takes about 2 hours.  It has you coat and fry the chicken in vegetable oil which is one thing I do not like.  Yes I hate frying.





Fast and Easy Chicken Gumbo

Ingredients

5 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Magic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen, cut okra
8 ounces smoked (precooked) andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1 inch thick
1 rotisserie chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin and bones removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
1/4 teaspoon cheyenne pepeer, to taste
2 cups hot cooked white rice

Directions

In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat chicken stock over medium. Dice the vegetables. Combine the onions, bell peppers and garlic in a bowl and set aside.  Combine Poultry Magic and flour in a small bowl.

In medium, heavy skillet heat up vegetable oil.  Slowly add seasoned flour.  Cook flour whisking constantly until roux is golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat and add the vegetables.  Stir vegetables with the roux until the roux stops getting dark.  Place skillet over medium heat and cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the vegetable mixture to the boiling chicken stock.  Sir until the roux is dissolved. Return to a boil, stirring and scraping the pan bottom often. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the okra and sausage.   Simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes.

While the gumbo is simmering, pull the rotisserie chicken off the bones and shred it.  Stir in shredded chicken into the gumbo.  Warm through for about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and cheyenne pepper.  

Serve over rice.
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Our Week with Echo

Tuesday, February 10, 2015



When I first found out about the Amazon Echo, I wondered if we really needed another electronic device. I watched the videos about it and then realized that this would not just be another voice that answered our stupid question.  I realized the more people use it the more people will hack and make new ways to use it.  Turning on/off your lights, turning on/off your burglary alarm, locking your doors, reminding you of tasks, making a grocery list.

Well it doesn't do all of that right now but it does make a to do list and a grocery list.  If only she could go grocery shopping for me.  I hate grocery shopping.  Mostly this week we have asked Alexa to play music and I love music playing throughout the house.  Addison loves to ask Alexa to play a random song.  The funniest time was when he asked her to play "Turn down for what".  She did and we had a little dance party in the den.  I have asked her to play random oldies so I can educated Addison about music.  I have gone to Biz Markie "Just a Friend" to Positive K "I Got a Man" with just the sound of my voice.  This also happened because of Amazon Prime music so I must mention that it his important to have Prime if you don't want to buy a bunch of music from Amazon.  Prime music also doesn't have every song you can think of but there are also some great playlist on Prime that will have you thinking of songs you haven't thought about for years.  Last night Echo played a playlist for dinner a party.  She played a little  bit of jazz and a little bit of soft rock.  I started imagining a dinner party of pasta, wine, great music and friends.

Alexa does not just play music via Amazon Music.  You can also connect it with I Heart Radio.  I have never used I Heart Radio before but in the past days I have listed to some wonderful streaming music from Beatles to Fleetwood Mac.  You can also choose to listen to radio stations from around the world.  I remember 10 years ago I would stream a radio station from London.  This is where I found Lily Allen and Adele for the first time.  I have not streamed radio stations yet but I am excited to use this feature.  You can also stream podcast which I am excited about it. I would love to listen to some interesting podcast while I am cooking and crafting.

I feel like I have only been talking about using Echo for music but she has also helped me set a timer for cooking,  converted ounces to gallons, and set an alarm to wake us up.  We have only had her for a week so I believe we have just scratched the surface.  I promise to blog another review after we have had her for month.  But if you have Amazon prime and have an extra $100, I say Yes you should get Echo.
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New Year's Resolutions

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hello Again!  How is everyone?  I am doing great and staying busy.  I made a promise to myself that I would start blogging again back in September and then I stopped.  So this New Year I made blogging one of my resolutions.  I got so busy and put blogging on the back burner but that is really just an excuse.  I am never too busy to blog at least 3 days a week.  What really happens is a get use to not blogging and start doing everything else but that.  I make excuses that the house needs to be cleaned, Addison need help with homework or diving, or I need the finish an order.  But I need to remember that blogging keeps me sane, just like cooking and crafting.  It gives me a way to share the things I love and that makes me feel great about myself.  So 2015 I am going to share again things I create, cook, bake, and love.  I hope everyone comes back and I get new readers.  And of course I hope everyone enjoys what I have to share.  Hey it is cheaper than therapy.  :)

Today I would like to share recipe and our 2014 Christmas card.

I made Southernwestern Chicken Soup last night it was so good.  I do not have step by step pictures because I decided to blog about this soup this morning but I promise I will start taking step by step pictures again.  The Chosen One always tells me she loves my step by step pictures.  She actually would tell me to make the recipe again so I could take step by step pictures.  LOL!

I get a lot of my inspiration on what to cook from cooking magazines, cooking shows, Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs.  One of my favorite blogs right now is the Williams-Sonoma blog.  I also follow them on Instagram.  I have been getting great recipes from the Williams-Sonoma website for years but when The Chosen One showed me their blog I knew I would love it.  I have spent many hours pinning recipes to make in the future.

Four days ago, Williams-Sonoma's Instagram showed a picture of this Chicken-Tortilla Soup and I raced over to the blog to pin the recipe.  I thought about it for the next 3 days, purchased the ingredients, and started cooking.  I had one problem though.  Their recipe was made in a slow cooker.  We all know I have a fabulous All Clad slow cooker so this should not be a problem.  But my fabulous slow cooker is at the farm which is an hour away.  I am not driving to the farm just to pick up the slow cooker so I thought what about my dutch oven.  I did some research and found out how to convert slow cooker times to dutch oven times.  For the low setting on the slow cooker, you need to divide by 4 to get the dutch oven cooking time. For the high setting on the slow cooker, you need to divide by 2 to get the dutch oven cooking time.  Oh the oven should be set to 325 degrees.  So the Chicken-Tortilla Soup recipe states cook on the low setting for 5 hours.  I cooked it in my dutch oven at 325 degrees for 1.25 hours or 90 minutes.

I did not just change what I cooked the soup in.  I did change a few things in this recipe.  I browned the chicken before placing tomato, garlic, onion and chiles puree to give the soup some depth of flavor.  I also finished the soup on the stovetop instead placing back in the oven to cook the corn.  When I added the corn at the end I also added some extra stock to the recipe.  I felt like after braising in the oven it needed a little more stock to make it a soup. A lot of the liquid had cooked down.  I also served the soup with Jalapeño-Cheddar Corn Bread which is also a Williams-Sonoma recipe.  You can find the recipe here.  This one of my favorite cornbread to make and with the soup it was amazing.  This cornbread is so much better than plain tortillas.  Everyone got seconds.





Southwestern Soup
Serves 6

1 can (15 oz) tomato purée or crushed tomatoes

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed

2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped

8 cups chicken stock

2 lb. skinless, bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

3 limes

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. ground cumin

3 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 1⁄2 cups (15 oz./470 g) thawed frozen corn kernels

2 small avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Over a medium high heat add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a dutch oven.  Salt and pepper the chicken thighs.  When oil is hot add chicken thighs, brown both sides.

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeño chiles to taste and 1 cup of the stock and process until smooth. Pour into a dutch oven with chicken thighs.

Add the the remaining 6 cups of stock, the juice of 1 lime, the vinegar, cumin, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover and cook in the oven for 90 minutes. The chicken should be very tender.

Transfer the chicken pieces to a cutting board. Remove the meat from the bones, and discard the bones. Chop or shred the meat. Using a large spoon, skim away the fat from the braising liquid. Return the chicken meat to the dutch oven. Add the corn kernels and the rest of the stock, cook on stovetop over medium heat until corn is tender, about 15 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

Ladle the soup into warm shallow bowls. Garnish each bowl with some of the avocados, cilantro, and lime juice.

I hope you guys make the soup and enjoy it.


Now to crafting.  Every year I spend weeks brainstorming and creating our Christmas card.  Do you guys remember our past 3 years of Christmas cards?

Our 2013 Christmas Card:

Front of card

Addison's Christmas picture

Other side of front flap

Inside: Infograph

Inside

Other Flap


Envelope liner


And our 2012 Christmas Card:




And our 2011 Christmas Card:





Well this year, hubby bought me a Cricut Explore.  This has become my favorite crafting machine and has upped my paper crafting game.  I luckily have a Cricut Cake, which cuts fondant but I used for paper also, so I knew how to use the basics of this machine.  Oh but did they improve it.  It did take me some hours to figure out the software and what this machine could do.  But when I finally did I was so amazed.  I fortunately have Adobe Illustrator so I can use this machine beyond it's potential.  Everyday I am learning something new.  So our 2014 Christmas card just scratched the surface of this machine.  I will share more of what the Cricut Explore can do in future blogs.  

Because of my new machine I decided this Christmas card would be all about paper cutting.  I found some inspiration on Pinterest and then had to figure out how to execute it.  I created a design that was made up of holiday words.  I had some difficulty making sure all the words connected together so the card would hold together.  After countless hours, many fonts, and attaching words to the correct areas, I finally had a whole card and just need to cut 40 of them.  Cutting was a problem at first.  I use pretty thick cardstock, from Papertrey Ink, to create my cards.  So I had to figure out the correct pressure so everything would cut well even the small intricate pieces.  Luckily I have a wonderful husband that helped my weed out all the negative space.  He is a pro with tweezers and a exacto knife.  I made the words font top a pocket and glued it on top of a card so I could slide in our holiday picture and our year in review.  The inside of the card has a sweet holiday message.  

Our 2014 Christmas Card:

It came in green

And also red

The pocket on top of the card

Inside of the card

The 2014 Christmas picture

I love the way the card turned out.  I have created many some great cards and invitations with this amazing machine.  I can not wait to share everything.  

Talk to you soon,
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