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Thursday, July 29, 2010

BLT Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese

Dinner today was rather tasty so I thought I’d share the recipe!  This one comes from the Rachael Ray Magazine website and is a 30 minute meal.  There’s a chance it actually took me 20!  I’ve made a few changes to it – most importantly I cut it in half, so if you want the original you can find it here.

Makes 3 Servings


  • Salt
  • 1 cereal bowl full of mini shell pasta (somehow we figured out that when cooking for the two of us, if we measure the dry pasta in our Fiesta cereal bowls that plenty for us plus some leftovers)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 leek—trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise and rinsed in cold water
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1 cups shredded asiago, grana padano or parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups spinach


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.

  2. While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the leeks and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute. Stir in the cream cheese until melted. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, most of the shredded cheese  and stir until melted together. 

  3. Add the pasta and spinach to the sauce and toss until the spinach is wilted.

  4. Optional: Pile into a casserole and top with the tomatoes and remaining shredded cheese. Bake until browned on top, 7 to 8 minutes.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!  If you try it, let me know how it went!

Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama

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Monday, July 26, 2010

What’s To Eat This Week?

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How do I plan my meals?  There are two websites I always check first.  I am a huge Rachael Ray fan.  About 5 years ago I started watching 30 Minute Meals and it has changed my life.  I learned how to make quick meals that were all from scratch – good bye mixes and cream of soups!  By watching I also learned about vegetables and spices I had never head of and learned how to chop everything in a jiffy. 

It made cooking a complex meal easy to do because you could watch how she multi tasked and had 3 pots going at once.  Better yet?   How to make a meal and not have to worry about coming up with 2 other sides to go with it – these meals had it all built right in. 

Since then I’ve really leaned what I like and how to swap things I don’t like out for things that are more to my tastes.  So the first two places I always go are two RR weekly meal sites to see if anything good pops up: 

Weekly Grocery List – on her day time talk show she always cooks something.  This list gives you the ingredients you’ll need to cook along.  They don’t post the recipe until the day of the show, so it’s  a bit of a mystery on what you’ll be cooking.

Weekly Menu Planner – Each issue of the Rachael Ray Magazine always has a section that is a weekly meal plan.  On the magazine website they also have a different meal plan for each week.

After that?  Well then I go through other recipes I’ve pulled from other magazines and websites.  If I don’t have enough for the week I go to my trusty recipe binder.  Each time I find a recipe that we really like, it gets numbered and catalogued into my binder.  Yes it involves a spreadsheet – I’m a nerd like that.  But that way everything is in a random order and I can just open it up to the middle somewhere and take the next 3 recipes in the book and be done with it.  And yes, if I’m looking for something specific I can sort my spreadsheet alphabetically, by category, by type of meal and by main ingredient – no joke – I’m that much of a nerd.

So here’s where that brought me this week!

Sunday – Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Parsley Potatoes and Johnson Family Corn
Monday -  Meatloaf with Cheesy Cauliflower
Tuesday – BLT Mac & Cheese
Wednesday – Chicken and Ham Rolls with Spinach
Thursday – Warm Provencal Chicken Salad
Friday – LMM’s day off :)
Saturday – Date night – Steaks, Fried Ravioli and Creme Brulee

Cooking I did last week that you might be interested in:

  • Dill Pickles
  • Spaghetti Sauce (back from the Spaghetti Sauce Adventures of 2008!)
  • Peach Cupcakes

Which recipes do you want to see??


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who has forgotten about the fact that she has a bolg??

ME!!!!!  I have been so absorbed in work and summer and you know … that baby on the way … that the blog has been severely neglected.  Not for long!  I finally have some creative mojo again – so be prepared!

What’s to come?

  • Big shop announcement (unless you already heard the news on Facebook …)
  • More adventures in cooking – if you are really lucky I’ll get back to Meal Planning Monday blogs so I can share what we’re eating for the week
  • New store products
  • Baby updates

Anything else you want to read about?? 

Until the next time (soon!)…
The girl behind the lama

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

I need your help!!

Eek!! I’m leaving for Ireland in just 4 days and I need books to read!!  It’s going to be a long drive to Chicago and flight to Ireland and back and I need some reading material and am coming up uninspired … what should I read??

When I get back I’ll make sure I post on all my book findings as well as all the fun adventures in Ireland!

Until the next time …
The girl behind the Lama

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baby Shower #1

Can you believe I’m 25 weeks pregnant already??  According to my weekly email he is about 13 1/2 inches long and weighs as much as a rutabaga.  A rutabaga??  I don’t even know that I have ever seen a rutabaga let alone know how much it weighs!  According to it’s about a pound a half.  Now you know …

We had our first baby shower this morning and got so many great gifts!  I am super excited to have a crib and bedding set … now if only I could put it all together.  Our master bedroom is still a work in progress so hopefully in a few weeks we’ll be able to move back in and get this baby’s room started! 

I can’t tell you enough, how impressed I was with the entire party and how much work my mom put into it.  Now I’m a crafty girl, but I had to get that from somewhere right?  The apple does not fall far from the tree at all.  She has been having a lot of fun taking different classes and using the Slice so she came up with all sorts of fun ideas!  Did I mention that she also knitted a hat and sweater??  She might work harder than I do!  THANKS MOM!!!

Enjoy the pictures from the party!  Thanks to my sister in law for taking such awesome pictures!

Until the next time…
The girl behind the lama

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Carry On Campaign

I am happy to report a very successful opening year for the Carry On Campaign!  As some of you may remember, my friend Matt is a singer/songwriter who performs concerts in the Milwaukee/Chicago area to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  Each year he has the big Concert For Life,which is his main event.

This year marked his 10th concert and even though we could not attend, we heard it was a great success!  This year he raised $43,000 bringing his 10 year total to over $271,000!!! 

At last year’s concert, he challenged us to join him in the Carry On Campaign and find a unique way to raise $100 over the course of the year.  It wasn’t about writing the ACS a check, it was about community and getting those around you involved and aware of all the wonderful things the ACS has to offer.

At the time, my shop was just starting and I had a sale or two every month.  With what my current sales were I decided that if I donated 10% of my sales to the cause, I might … just *might* hit $100.  Well, I’m happy to announce that not only was the campaign a success, but Lamaworks has become a much larger success than I could have imagined in just one year.  I was able to raise $552!!!


The group of 18 volunteers had pledged to donate $1,800 and surpassed that immensely!  The grand total for the Carry On volunteers was a whopping $4,810!!

I am so proud to have been part of this group and can’t wait to see what it turns into next year!  Due to my success and a few other changes with the shop I am still pledging to donate, however I have had to change my donation to 5% of my sales, making it more of a challenge for myself – one I look forward to!  So far my sales from March and April have brought me to $48, so I’m almost half way there! 

Thanks to all for the support!
Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama …

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Me??? In the Storque?!?!?!?!?

So I just sat down to look through my blog list for the day and I’m scrolling through the Storque post for today.  It’s just lovely!  All about weddings.  Not only do I love weddings,  but I’m trying to get my wedding invitations and paper goods to take off ….

Low and behold as I’m scrolling through the lists of beautiful wedding products – there are my table numbers!!!!!!!  Me??? In an Etsy feature?!?!?!  How cool!!!

Here is the link:


Maybe this little shop is really going to go somewhere!


Until the next time…
The girl behind the lama
~LMM and baby boy growing more and more every day!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

A World of Bud Vases!

2 years ago I was planning my own wedding. That was where the bud vase madness started. We were planning a wedding for 300 guests, which is not a cheap endeavor. I decided to make a few things myself to save a few bucks. It started with the invitations and programs. So how do you make inexpensive favors for 300 guests? I combined a few ideas I saw online to come up with some wonderfully cute bud vases.

I had no idea at that point, that I would start selling these and that people would love them! Since then I have sold over 1300 of these little guys! They have been at weddings, corporate events, bridal showers, baby showers and even private dinner parties. Here is just a sampling of some of the great projects I have been able to work on:



Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama …

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Baby Update!

I told my husband that I keep waiting for pregnancy to be blissful. I want the “glow” you know? Between the heartburn, the hurling, and the aversion to raw meat (which makes it really difficult for one to cook ..) it has so far definitely been far from blissful.

Last week changed that a lot – I started to feel the baby move! I was just over 14 weeks when I felt the first few flutters of movement and I must say it’s pretty cool :) It’s not often, but I usually feel it every day and it almost always makes me laugh because it tickles so much. It definitely makes pregnancy a little more blissful than the first few months have been.

On other news I’m craving fruit like you wouldn’t believe. It started very innocently with me eating a few apples and clementines a day. Now I have moved on to melons. I’m not exactly proud of it but on more than one occasion I have eaten half of a melon. That includes but may not be limited to both cantaloupe and watermelon. Last night my husband got sick of cutting up melons so he literally gave me half of a cantaloupe and a melon baller which I used as a spoon. I will not be ashamed – there is nothing wrong with fruit. I do of course have the occasional Oreo and Chex Mix binge, but I’m definitely all about the fruit. Having a girl maybe???

To all you moms – what did you crave when you were pregnant??

Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Enough is Enough!

I am back to being an active member of the world again!  I think I am finally feeling more like a human being for the first time in awhile!  Where have I been?  Miserably curled up on the couch. I have been A) Pregnant and B)Sick.  One or the other alone I think I could have handled, but throw the two together and it just destroyed every ounce of energy I had in me. 

I had this sinus/respiratory infection thing that I just couldn’t kick.  My sinuses were clogged yet draining which meant I hacked up a lung all day but also couldn’t breathe.  They ruled out walking pneumonia and decided I just had a bad cold – which when pregnant you pretty much just have to deal with.  Now add that to my already queasy and exhausted pregnant state and I was completely wiped out.  My doctor finally gave me a Z-Pack last week and it has just been a wonder drug for me!  Within 48 hours I felt my energy pop back in and now a week later it’s safe to say that I’m almost done coughing (I hope) and I can breathe with ease once again. 

We also have renovations going on to my office/sun room so most of my supplies are either hard to get to or hard for me to find.  The walls are painted, the new carpet is in, and the desk cabinets are well on their way so hopefully in another week or two I’ll be back in business with my workspace.  I’ve got a bunch of new things I’ve either been working on or dreaming about so stay tuned!!

Until the next time …
The (healthy) girl behind the lama…

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Etta the Meerkat Visits – With BIG News!!!

There is excitement abound at LamaWorks this week with the arrival of Etta the Meerkat.  Etta is making a journey around the world to tour the workshops and cities with different members of the Etsy Treasury Team.  She started her journey in England where she was born, with Heather of NiftyKnits.  Since then she has visited Jacqueline of  Mozo in Oregon, Jeannie of Beadstylin in Kansas, and both  Mary Ann  of LindenAvenueDesigns and Lindi of Lindesigns and Lindenleafstudios in Texas.  Today she arrived to spend some time with me in good old Quincy, IL!

First on the agenda was to make sure she was friends with Luke, our ferocious Puggle. 


“Mom??  What is this thing?”


“I’ll give it a sniff ….”


“I guess we can be friends ….”


“Mom??  Can I go back to bed now?”

Success!  Friends they are as I knew they would be.

Etta couldn’t have arrived at a better time because I had a LOT of work to do!  Wedding season has begun and I’ve got the task of making 450 bud vases this week!  I definitely needed some help. 

We cut paper, scored it, printed out the bride to be’s wedding logo and cut the holes for the vases.


Etta tried and tried to help me glue the last batch of them together, but I’m afraid the glue stick was just a little to big for her. 


The vases were just her size though, so we made a great team getting the final assembly ready to go.


With the last of them packed up and ready to ship – I’d say we had a pretty successful day – Thanks Etta!

Day two in the shop Etta and I spent working on some new stationary.  I just got a shiny new Cricut cutting machine a few weeks ago and just loved the images that I was able to get from it so we decided that today was the day to put them together into stationary!

Which one is your favorite Etta??


The bird?


The Leaves?


Maybe the bird on the branch?


No wait!  The owl for sure!!


Etta’s vote??  Her favorite was the delicate butterfly – good choice Etta!  Wait a minute … I know all of those cards are blank on the inside, but I think that one says something on the inside.   Hey Etta – What does it say??


That’s right!  The girl behind the lama has a baby on board!!! We are so excited about the news!!  We just had our first Dr’s appointment today and all is going well.  I am about 12 weeks along and our little bundle of joy should arrive around August 25th!  Our ultrasound showed a little jumping baby that wouldn’t sit still, arm and legs moving all over the place.  Mom and Dad fell in love at first sight for sure.

I definitely can’t top that, so as sad as it may be, I packed Etta up with her treasures from along the journey including her favorite stationary from LamaWorks and she is off to the next leg of the journey to visit  Jaci at BytheWay.

Thanks for visiting Etta!!
Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama – plus one!

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Does it bother you if …

We all have our own obsessive compulsive tendencies right??? I’m not alone am I?? It’s just little things.  The toilet paper has to spin in a certain direction.  Your books all have to be alphabetized and in my case that also applies to your spice rack.  My friends at this point are all shaking their heads and remembering how they used to swap two of my spices and see how long it would take me to freak out and swap them back. 

I consider myself a bit of an organizational freak.  My house is never ever spotless, but I absolutely LOVE to organize things and pretend that it is.  Love the label maker.  Love baskets.  And yes, my yarn is all organized first by type, then by color.

Today I was baking cookies and came across another organizational thing that bothers me that I’m really hoping some of you can relate to so I know I’m not alone.  Does anyone else have to have equal numbers of cookies in rows and columns on a cookie sheet??  I seriously tried to rearrange my cookies today because the corner of parchment paper was ripped off and I couldn’t fit that one very last cookie on the sheet to make the perfect rectangle to cookies.  What’s wrong with me?

I noticed the same thing happened when I made meatballs a few weeks ago.  I had one row that had 2 fewer meatballs than the others and it actually bothered me.  Not enough that I did anything about it, but I did pause to make sure there weren’t enough scraps left to put together two more.

What little things drive you crazy??

Until the next time
The girl behind the lama

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The wonders of a new computer

I’m still exploring this new computer but I’m finding thing I like about Windows 7 more and more each day.  Like the program I’m using right now!  Anyone out there use Windows Live Writer???

I love it!  It’s like I’m writing something in Word.  An easy click of the button and  I change fonts or colors all just like I would in Word.  Ctrl+K and I add a hyperlink … Ctrl+L and I add a picture.  Then I’m done and I hit Publish and voila it appears in my blog! 

So much better than working in blogger!  You have no idea how long it used to take to import pictures.  They all come to the top of the post and then you have to drag them down because Copy and Paste don’t work.  Now I can import them right where I want them to be and I can even edit them right there!

I’m also a huge fan of having sticky notes on my desktop. Especially during the holidays it was so nice to have a running list of all the orders I had to fill and the order they came in on so I didn’t have to run to Etsy.  It was nice to have a separate list for the orders that I was waiting on the yarn to come in so I could give better shipping time estimates.

My other favorite?  Having a little weather icon.  I have two actually.  One for where I live and one for where my parents live.  It makes me feel a bit more connected to home and gives me a good reason to call and complain that it’s colder here than it is in the frozen tundra of northern Wisconsin.

So there … Consider me a fan of Windows 7!

Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Welcome little flowers!

When something new comes into the shop, I rarely can take credit for the idea.  I have a lot of people that come to me and say, “Hey I really like product X, can you make it but change XYZ??”.  Thus the birth of a new product for the shop.

This new one comes with many thanks to my sister-in-law. For Christmas she really wanted a knit ear warmer headband with a flower on it.  Not something I carry in the shop, but I can work with that right?

Well the ear warmers are coming soon, but the flowers have premiered today!  I used some more great yarn from Knit Picks that comes in … get  this … over 80 colors!!!  Knit up some petals … sew them together … add on some beads and voila!  A super cute flower pin! 

IMG_1751 IMG_1747  IMG_1742

Now available with free shipping to all of you blog readers!  By the way, I have to share … I received an order earlier this week and she mentioned that she loved my blog and it really made my day.  I always love reminders that more than just my family read my blog :)

Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

All the Best in the New Year!

Well I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed taking 3 wonderful weeks away from the shop.  True I spent the first week finishing up orders and Christmas presents and I spent the last week curled up on the couch with a pretty bad cold, but all in all it was a wonderful vacation!

I got to spend time with my family and friends and that is what’s important during the holidays right?

I was just complaining that I had absolutely nothing to write about.  I’m just blank. Drained from the cold.  Nothing exciting in life other than cold and snow.

Then the events of today transpired … 

It’s a  normal Saturday – my husband’s birthday actually.  Happy Birthday sweetie!!!!  I was just getting ready to bake him a cake and I thought I’d check my email.  Look at that an order!  Exciting yes, but who knew what that order could do for my day?? 

In the “comments to seller” section it said “Love the gray merino wool cable knit hat!  Saw it on the Lucky Magazine blog.  Thanks!”

Lucky Magazine?????  What??? As in the fashion magazine???  You know the one that is published and sold on news stands everywhere???  Back up the truck!

Lo and behold I went to their blog and there I was!!! I don’t think the model is actually wearing my hat exactly, but it looks like my hat and more importantly it’s my hat that’s pictured below and is linked to my little Etsy shop!!!



Woah!!! I have no idea how it got there or how they found me, but they did!  This is so surreal to me!  I’m just a girl that knits.  A girl that sits in her comfy chair, watches the Today show and Rachael Ray and knits most of the day away.  I don’t put a lot of money into marketing.  I’m active in the Etsy community and I have some great friends and relatives that talk me up around town, but other than that I’m just a simple girl with knitting needles and a love of yarn.  Who knew? 

We’ll have to see what comes of this, but I’m hoping this isn’t the end!!

Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama

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