Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Visiting State Capitols and The Capitol Collection

During our October trip, we toured the Capitol buildings in Maryland, DelawareNew Jersey, and Pennsylvania. This brings the total number of Capitols we've visited as a family up to 15, all in the last four years! Before we started visiting them, I expected that the Capitol buildings would be more similar than different. Large, rectangular, white, dome on top, grand staircase... that sort of thing. Some do look like that, but plenty don't. We really enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between the different Capitols. It's fascinating how much they vary in size, style, function, public access... and level of security!

Here we are at all of the Capitol buildings we've visited in the past 4 years, starting with our own. 

Sacramento, California

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Denver, Colorado

Salt Lake City, Utah

Juneau, Alaska (closed for renovations)

Boise, Idaho

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Phoenix, Arizona

Des Moines, Iowa

Lincoln, Nebraska

Carson City, Nevada

Annapolis, Maryland

Dover, Delaware

Trenton, New Jersey

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

It wasn't until we'd been to a handful of Capitols that we thought about a way to keep track of which ones we'd visited. I didn't want to start a separate album - some sort of small book would be better. In Iowa, we discovered The Capitol Collection at the gift shop. Perfect!! 


This small, spiral-bound book is lightweight and easy to carry on our travels. There is a 2-page spread for each state, with information about that state and a place to stamp the book during each visit. We bought the book after we'd been to quite a few Capitols, some of which we were unlikely to ever revisit. Would those pages remain blank? No! What I love most about The Capitol Collection is that once you buy it, you can request a sticker version of each of the stamps that you are missing. Just supply the date you visited and the stickers come in the mail. Here you can see the California page. I've attached the California sticker; the Wyoming, Iowa, and Utah stickers are ready to stick in place. 


You can buy The Capitol Collection at some Capitol's gift shops, or at thecapitolcollection.com. No affiliate link, unfortunately, because I've recommended it to a lot of people and now I'm sharing it with you all! It would make a neat gift for kids, retirees, or anyone who enjoys travel. 

Visit my US Travel page to read about our family's travels to the Capitols and other places in the United States. You'll also find gift recommendations for travelers, crafts inspired by each state, and ideas for documenting your own travels.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Paper Plate Artist's Palette .... For Dinner!

I believe whole-heartedly in making everyday activities fun. And when crazy ideas pop into my head, like eating dinner off of an artist's palette, I go with it. 



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Paper Plate Artist's Palette


Materials: 

  • paper plate
  • scissors
  • food


Steps:


Prepare the plate by cutting an arc into one side. Poke the scissors into the plate to cut a thumb-sized hole near the arc. 


The example above is for a lefty (like me) to hold in her right hand. My right-handed family needed palettes cut the opposite direction, so they could hold them with their left hands and eat with their right. 


Now load up the food! Choose items that don't need cutting. Here, Trevor has chicken (cut into bite-sized pieces), red peppers, zucchini, black beans, Mexican rice, sour cream, and corn tomalito.  


Just another dinner in the deRosier house!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

We've finally had some cold weather here (cold being relative, of course) and cold weather means soup. Actually, I'm a fan of soup no matter what the weather. I don't think I've ever mentioned that Steve and I wanted a soup bar for lunch at our May 2004 wedding reception, but we couldn't find a caterer who could/would do it. I haven't asked around in almost 14 years, but as far as I know there's still a hole in the market for someone to fill.  

I love making soup because it is easy and forgiving. I can dig around in the refrigerator and/or freezer and come up with something yummy that works well in soup. In this case, it's Broccoli-Cheddar Soup. We keep broccoli on hand because it's one of Trouble's favorite foods and we keep cheese on hand because it's one of my favorite foods. 


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Broccoli Cheddar Soup


                                       1/4 c. butter                                     2 c. milk
                                       1/2 onion, chopped                           3 1/2 c. shredded cheddar
                                       1/4 c. flour                                       1 c. finely chopped cooked broccoli
                                       4 c. broth (chicken or veggie)

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for five minutes, or until tender. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. It should be completely combined with the onion. Add the broth, stirring constantly. Let that cook for a minute, then add the milk. Bring the mixture just to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender until the soup is smooth. Whisk in the cheddar until it is completely melted. If it does not melt completely, heat over very low heat for a minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the broccoli.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Pfeffernüsse: German 'Pepper Nuts' Cookies

Pfeffernüsse are traditional German cookies. The name translates to “pepper nuts,” as they traditionally contain both pepper and nuts. My grandmother, Elfrieda Reifenberger, made them every year at Christmas without fail. She made them without nuts, so that is the version I make.



Pfeffernüsse



                                        4. c. flour                                              ¼ tsp. black pepper
                                        ½ c. sugar                                              ¾ c. molasses
                                        1¼ tsp. baking soda                                ½ c. butter
                                        1½ tsp. ground cinnamon                        2 eggs, beaten
                                        ½ tsp. ground cloves                               powdered sugar
                                        ½ tsp. ground nutmeg


Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and spices. In a saucepan combine molasses and butter; heat and stir until butter melts. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in eggs. Add molasses mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Wrap and chill several hours or overnight. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on a Silpat-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350º for 12-14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar. Makes about 5 dozen.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pantone's 2018 Color of the Year

Each September, Pantone announces the Spring Color Palette for the upcoming year. I love to see what colors are on the horizon and think about how they will be manifested in the craft industry. 


I also love to predict what Pantone will choose as the Color of the Year. My personal favorite is Meadowlark, but I was fairly confident Pantone would select Ultra Violet or Emperador. I've been anxiously awaiting the announcement, usually made the first week of December. Finally, after refreshing their page at least a hundred times a day for the past week, the Color of the Year for 2018 was revealed: Ultra Violet!


There is a full explanation of the color on their page, but this portion struck me:

".....Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets..... The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world."  
I'm very happy with Ultra Violet (frankly, anything besides the ridiculous twin Colors of the Year in 2016 would be fine). Purples don't usually play a big role in crafting, so I'll be anxious to see if Ultra Violet is evident at the Creativation trade show. I might have to do something fun like I did with Marsala.

What are your thoughts about Ultra Violet?