September 28, 2010

Work Wreath works miracles for crafters!

 Poly mesh work wreath: before and after

work wreath is a blessing for those of us who love to create unique wreaths, but do not have time to spend hours making a wreath. This 24" work wreath is basically a wire wreath form with 36 pre-attached metallic wire tips. The  wire tips can be used to quickly attach poly deco mesh garland, ribbon, floral sprays or ornaments to the wreath form, creating your own one-of-a-kind wreath.  It is creative and easy! This impressive wreath was created in as little as 10 minutes!

For a tutorial on creating this fantastic Mardi Gras wreath, watch this video below. You will be amazed to see how easy it is to create this Mardi Gras Deco Mesh Wreath. Simply wire the 21" deco mesh garland around the wreath form twice and the wreath is finished.

The wreath shown here is filled with our 21" wide deco mesh garland (in the Mardi Gras Deluxe Pattern). You could also combine two or more colors or patterns for a designer wreath look with a low cost!  This deco mesh wreath looks fantastic with just the poly deco mesh garland, but you could also add other accents to it. Using the pre-attached wire tips, layer in coordinating ribbon, Mardi Gras masks, floral sprays or colored balls. The possibilities are endless for the combinations you can create.

Both the poly deco mesh garland and wire wreath form are weatherproof and durable, making them perfect for outdoor use. Unlike traditional sinamay, which is a natural product, this poly deco mesh is resilient against heat and humidity.

Christmas Poly Deco Mesh Wreath
Halloween Deco Mesh WreathPatriotic Deco Mesh Wreath

This work wreath comes in a variety of colors to match your school colors, party theme or holiday. These are just a few examples of the wreaths you can create. A similar version of the work wreath is available as a work garland form. Click the links below, to see  available colors and styles in all of these products that coordinate with this wreath form.

Create something unique with one of these fun work wreath forms! Share your creative ideas with us at
Happy Crafting!

2011 Update:
We now have several more video tutorials to help you make Christmas wreaths, garlands, bows, wall trees and even how to decorate your Christmas tree with deco mesh.

Click here to view the entire list.

September 27, 2010

Red Beans and Rice...a Monday tradition!

Red Beans and Rice, a Monday tradition

Red beans and rice is a Monday tradition in Louisiana. Red beans and rice is a simple dish (everyone, everywhere eats beans), but southern style red beans and rice is full of Louisiana flavor and so evocative of home cooked Creole comfort food. It is both creamy and hearty with nice Louisiana spice!

All over south Louisiana, particularly New Orleans, red beans and rice is cooked and served on Mondays. I am sure it is served on other days, too. But tradition dictates it is served on Mondays. The plate lunch special around town and dinner at my house is sure to be red beans and rice on Monday.

The folk tale behind Red Beans and Rice:
“On Dit Que” (it is said that) the tradition of red beans and rice as the customary meal for Mondays evolved because of laundry day. Wash day, long ago, took all day (thankfully this is not always the case anymore.) For the mommas to be able to wash all day and have supper on the table that night, they needed hearty meals that could cook all day with little help from the chef. An easy solution was to use what they had on hand...a big pot filled with the favorite Creole seasoning vegetables (the trinity: bell pepper, onion and celery), the ham-bone from Sunday dinner and a pound or so of red beans. This pot could be left to simmer all day. TADA! Creamy, hearty Red Beans and Rice was born!

About Red Beans and Rice
This delicious pot of red beans is traditionally served over white rice with a portion of salted meat served either on top, mixed in or on the side. The beans in red beans and rice are said to have been brought to Louisiana from the Caribbean. The rice portion of this meal is easy to trace. South Louisiana is filled with rice fields. It is one of Louisiana’s core crops. A lesser known version of red beans and rice is white beans and rice. Same creamy bean dish served over rice, just substitute white beans for the red beans.

Red Beans and rice is made with salted meat used to flavor the beans. A big hunk of ham will work. A large ham bone is even better. Need something to do with the ham bone left over from Christmas? Making a big pot of red beans and rice is a great option. Sauteed down with simmering vegetables and water, a ham bone packs a lot of flavor. Sausage or pork chops are also served with red beans and rice. A common way to see red beans and rice served and the way I like my red beans and rice is with sausage (either whole links or slices.)

How to make Red Beans and Rice
No matter what meat you choose, the key to good red beans is a creamy texture. Crunchy beans are a No-No! The key to this creamy texture is cooking them for a long time. An option to help reduce the cooking time is to soak the beans overnight. Even if you only have time to soak  for a few hours, the beans will soften considerably. I usually soak the red beans for most of the day and then put the beans on to cook in the early afternoon. Cooking red beans (the cooking time) is not an exact science. Some beans need longer, others cook faster. This is a dried product. As with most Creole dishes, the longer it cooks, the better it will taste. You are aiming for the beans to be creamy, but not so mushy they disappear. This sounds complicated. Please don’t be intimidated…after all this dish was invented for hard work laundry day. It is definitely easy enough for modern cooks! So here is how I make my red beans and rice...on Mondays of course.

 Camellia, New Orleans red beansIngredients
1 medium onion-finely chopped
1green bell pepper- finely chopped
2-3 stalks celery- finely chopped
garlic- finely minced
White Rice
Creole Seasoning
Bay leaves
hot sauce
1 pound smoked sausage/ham
1 pound New Orleans style Red Beans


 Red beans soaking before cookingSort and rinse the red beans. (This just means to sort through the beans and throw out anything other than red beans. Also cull any beans that look bad.)

Put the beans in a large bowl. Cover the beans with ample water. The beans will expand and soak up water as they sit so make sure there is enough water in the bowl to keep them covered.

Let the beans soak over-night or all day. Add more water to the bowl as needed.

When you are ready cook, drain and rinse the beans again.

In a large dutch-oven style pot, turn the heat on medium high on stove top.

 Sliced and link sausage for red beans and rice
Saute your preferred meat. Your goal here is to have the meat render some of its fat and seasoning. I like sausage as my seasoning meat. I slice about half of the sausage and I save a few longer link pieces of sausage to serve on top of the red beans. All of the sausage is sauteed until browned. The links are removed from the pan; the slices stay in. If you are using ham, leave it in the pot to flavor with beans.

Add finely chopped vegetables (garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery) to the pan. Saute until tender and softened. The vegetables will continue to cook with the beans.

 Red Beans cooking in the pot
Add bay leaves, red beans, creole seasoning and enough water to cover these ingredients in the pot. Lower the heat down to medium-high. Boil gently for 1 1/2 -2 hours or until beans are tender and creamy. Add water as needed while cooking to keep beans covered.

When beans have been cooking for 1 1/2 hours, add chopped parsley to red bean mixture. If the liquid the beans are cooking in is not creamy enough and the beans are cooked, take a few beans out of the pot. Mush these up. Add them back to the stock to help thicken the sauce.

Cook the white rice.

When both rice and beans are done, remove bay leaves from beans and serve red beans over a pile of white rice.

 Plate of Red Beans and RiceCorn bread and a simple green salad are a great accompaniments to Red Beans and Rice.  My husband likes his corn bread crumbled on the top.

Don't forget your favorite Louisiana hot sauce, to spice red beans up for those who like it hot!

Extra red beans can be frozen if you have left-overs. This recipe does makes a large pot!

Bon Appetite!

Mam Papaul Red Beans Spice Mix
For fool-proof red beans and rice, try Mam Papaul's Red Beans and Rice seasoning blend. The box contains all the secret ingredients for a good pot of red beans. You just need to provide the beans, salted meat and cooked white rice!

September 18, 2010

Football Rice Krispie Treats

Chocolate rice krispie football treats

All the tiny tailgaters will love these little football rice krispie treat. Actually, the adults will  like them too. Who can resist a rice krispie treat?  These football themed chocolate treats are sure to be a hit at your tailgate or football theme party! Here is the recipe:

ingredients for football treats

3 tablespoons Butter
1 (10 oz) package marshmallows (I prefer the small ones but you can use large)
5 cups Cocoa Rice Krispie cereal
White frosting

In a microwave proof bowl, melt butter. Add marshmallows to bowl and microwave until melted. All microwaves are different so I would recommend setting it for 1 minute increments. Test to see if the marshmallows are melted after each minute. Be careful not to scorch the marshmallows.
grease the bowl

Grease a large bowl with butter (so the mixture will not stick to the sides).  Add the cocoa krispies. Pour the butter/marshmallow mixture over the top of the rice cereal. Stir to coat all the cereal. Let cool slightly.
 Pipe the icing on the footballsUse buttered hands to shape the rice krispie mixture into mini footballs. Make the footballs about 3" long. This makes 16-24 depending on how large you make them.

Decorate each football by piping white icing on them for stitches and strings. I use a small Ziploc bag as an icing piping bag. To do this, you fill the bottom of the bag with the icing. Snip a small hole in the bottom corner and squeeze the icing out of this hole. Easy and less mess.
football treats

Down, set, HIKE! You are ready for kick-off with these tasty football rice krispie treats!

We have even more blog posts with football decorations and beads:
Football Door Decoration How-To
Team Sports Beads Guide

September 16, 2010

I ♥ Fall Football !

Fall Football: Cake,Chips, Treats

Just in time for our first home college football game this weekend, the first glimpse of fall weather arrives. Yeah! I love SEC football and all the tradition that surrounds home football games. Every campus has its various tailgate traditions. From the grove to the parade grounds, people in the south love football and the ritual of a home game. In honor of our first home game, here are some of my favorite things about home LSU (Louisiana State University) football games. 

Football Favorites from home LSU games
  1. The sound of the first few beats of the fight song (Da Da Da...Da).
  2. The Golden Band from Tigerland marching up the hill to the stadium.
  3. Sliding down the Indian Mounds  (sadly, not on game day anymore, see .
  4. The sensation of coming out of the dark around the stadium into the bright lights of the field.
  5. The sound of the crowd erupting when the home team takes the field.
  6. Flashes of  poppers going off during the Star Spangled Banner.
  7. Mike the Tiger's roar!
  8. "Tiger Baiting" a rival team tailgater.
  9. Good food, cold beer and a reason to celebrate the "good times" in life.
  10. Finding old friends, new friends and good friends all out tailgating!
Football Photos- To get you in the fall football spirit, I posted these photos of  footballs I've spotted lately. The Football Rice Krispie treats are sure to be a hit with your tailgaters. They were with my little Tigers!
  1. This fun football cake is from our neighborhood Piggly Wiggly. Where else, but the south do we have grocery stores named after a pig? You know we really love our pork products! This cake was not only cute, but also delicious and inexpensive. I paid less than $10 for it. Way to geaux Piggly Wiggly!
  2. Have you seen these yet? Football shaped tortilla chips. So festive and great for tailgating.
  3. Football Rice Krispies® Treats. Great for tailgate parties or children's football themed party. See our Rice Krispies Treats post for the recipe.
purpe tiger hatFor more LSU football inspired products, see the Purple and Gold section at Mardi Gras Outlet. There are decorations, team beads, football shaped beadsspirit shakers and more.
 purple and gold spirit shaker

 GEAUX TIGERS! (Da,Da,Da...Da...I can hear it now!)

September 7, 2010

Jambalaya Paddle Appetizer inspired by traditional Jambalaya

Jambalaya appetizer
Food on a stick is always a hit at parties. Inspired by my recent post on Jambalaya and these cute wooden paddle stirrers,  I created this fun appetizer with all the basic ingredients in Jambalaya. There is no rice in this dish unlike traditional Jambalaya. The Jambalaya Paddles could be served on a bed of seasoned rice. Regardless, these spicy Jambalaya Paddle appetizers embrace the essential flavors in jambalaya. A perfect Creole party food!

Here is the recipe and "how to" for this pretty and delicious Jambalaya appetizer.

Jambalaya Paddles

Mini Jambalaya Paddle StirrerIngredients
1/2 pound chicken -cut into bite size pieces
1/2 pound smoked sausage*- sliced
12 cherry/grape  tomatoes
1 bell pepper, sliced into bite size pieces
1 onion, sliced into bite size pieces
Tony Chachere or Slap Ya Mama  seasoning
Wooden stirrer paddles
Just as I do when making traditional Jambalaya, I start by adding a small amount of oil to the bottom of a dutch oven (just enough so the sausage will not stick to the pan).

Heat on medium-high. Saute sausage* in the pan. The sausage will render some fat and seasoning to help season/saute the other ingredients. * I used a milder green onion based smoked Cajun sausage from Manda, but any smoked Cajun sausage will work.

Add chicken pieces to the pan. Season thoroughly with Tony Chachere's or Slap ya mama creole seasoning. Saute this mixture until chicken is fully cooked.

Add sliced bell pepper and onion. Saute until tender. You want them softened, but not mushy so you can thread them on the paddle. Do not cook the tomatoes.

Remove pan from heat. Let cool down. Once the ingredients are cool enough to handle, thread each on a wooden paddle stick assorting chicken, bell pepper, tomato, sausage and onion.

Arrange paddles on a platter and serve. (I garnished the platter with some fresh basil.)

This could be made in advance. I would cook the sausage/chicken completely. Cook the vegetables slightly, then reheat everything and thread them on the paddles right before the party.

These Jambalaya Paddle appetizers would be perfect for a Louisiana-Cajun themed event or a Mardi Gras party. Let me know what you think of this dish. I hope it is a crowd pleaser!

September 3, 2010

Fall Wreath Ideas

With the warm weather down here in Louisiana, it does not feel like fall quite yet. But the start of school and arrival of SEC football bring fall thoughts to mind no matter the temperature outside. Now is a great time to "fluff" your front porch and/or entryway with a new wreath. I know my spring mossy wreaths are looking pitiful.  Here are a few pretty alternatives for a new fall wreath.

Deco mesh Fall Wreath
Fall wreath with decorative mesh.   
I had all intentions of creating a new wreath for Halloween or fall with this decorative mesh when I stumbled upon this one online. This wreath created by Kristen who writes a blog called, Kristen's Creations uses two colors of the decorative poly mesh in fall colors. I think she is using orange and a burgundy. Any combination of autumn color mesh would look good. Instead of looping the mesh around the wreath in one piece, like I did for the Mardi Gras wreath (see tutorial), she cuts 8-10 one yard pieces and ties them onto a grapevine wreath. Great idea and wreath!
Shop: Deco mesh rolls, to create your own autumn color combination.
How to: for the complete tutorial: Kristen's Ribbon/Mesh Wreath Tutorial

2011 Update:
New! A video tutorial on how to make a fall or halloween wreath with deco poly mesh and a work wreath form. Click here to see it.
Burlap flower wreath

Burlap seems to be on all the blogs I love.
This pretty burlap floral wreath was posted on Craftaholics Anonymous. This blog is full of creative things to do with burlap for the fall and beyond. This burlap flower wreath as created by Kim at 100 Words Photography. The detailed flowers are precious.   I think the burlap's texture and the color combination are perfect for fall.

How to: Sadly, I can't find a tutorial for this one yet. I may try to figure it out on my own. It is too pretty to pass up!

Fall ribbon wreath

I LOVE ribbon!
My last fall wreath inspiration is a ribbon wreath. I found this one at market this summer. This ribbon manufacturer had wonderful designs all made with their beautiful ribbon collection!  I am sorry the picture is so poor. I only had the camera on my phone.  This fall ribbon wreath is done in burnt orange grosgrain ribbon.  The designer is creatively showcasing beautiful jeweled pins on this one. I think this elegant wreath looks amazing.

How to: The wreath is made with a round wreath form, either wire or styrofoam. Pretty ribbon (grosgrain pictured) is tied all the way around- covering the wreath form. A tip: the wider the ribbon, the less yardage you will need. The ends of the ribbons are all cut in tailored V.  

This wreath style can  be tailored to so many seasons! I envision doing a similar style wreath with a pretty Mardi Gras ribbon.

Happy Fall, y'all ! (even if it doesn't feel like it)


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