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Break the Rules with Coloring

This past spring, I published a coloring book of floral mandalas called Flowers All Around. (It’s available NOW on Amazon!) I had so much fun drawing these designs. I can honestly say it was one of my favorite personal projects I’ve ever done.




Mandala designs are popular in adult coloring for their repetitive and intricate nature. I like to draw them using floral elements because I’m obsessed with drawing flowers and patterns. I’ve created floral mandalas with a variety of media—paint, pencil, ink, digital, etc. I often draw them when I don’t know what to draw. So I had a lot of practice before I got the idea to even make this book.

Adult coloring books are a great way to relieve stress and create works of art in the process. These aren’t the brand of coloring books you used as a kid. These designs are often very detailed and can be beautiful and sophisticated—though there are some fun quirky ones as well. There are adult coloring books for just about any subject matter you can think…

Easy Macaroni and Cheese

 

When I was single, I shared a house with my two sisters. We were pretty good at sharing in the responsibilities that come with running a home. Eventually, we settled into certain habits, and we each had our own specific chores that we generally did—my sister Shannon took care of the cats, and I usually did the dishes. My other sister, Dani, was the cook. And she’s a really good one, too. :)

Once I got married, I had to get used to a whole new routine. I’ve had to make my peace with the fact that unless I wanted to eat Chinese takeout and pizza for the rest of my life, I was going to have to get back in the habit of cooking meals. The hard part has been finding meals that are a) quick and easy for busy weeknights and b) appealing to both me and my husband. A few of the staple meals that I’ve been making since I was a teenager have gotten less-than-enthusiastic responses from Mr. Sturk. One dish that he LOVES, though, is macaroni and cheese. I’d never really made it that often before, but I did it one night at his request. I looked up several recipes online, and referred to the ones written on the pasta and cheese packages. There are so many variations out there. It got confusing. In the end, I didn’t really follow any one recipe. Instead, I kind of developed my own recipe that suited my needs. I made the measurements simple so that I could memorize them, and the ingredients are simple as well. It works every time, Nathan loves it, and it’s EASY. So here's the recipe. Printable downloads are below.

Niki

Easy Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

8 oz. of macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked or half of a 16 oz. box)
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups of milk (I prefer whole milk. If you want to get really crazy, you could combine 1 cup milk and 1 cup of heavy cream.)
2 cups of shredded cheese (A typical 8 oz. package equals 2 cups. A good sharp cheddar is always good. I found a store brand “Mac & Cheese” blend that works pretty well, and it seemed like a no-brainer.)
garlic salt and pepper for seasoning

For topping:
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs




Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot (I like to use something oven-safe, such as a Dutch oven.), melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes. 
  4. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Cook mixture for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and bubbles. Stir often. 
  5. Turn off heat. Add cheese and stir until melted, then add the cooked pasta. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. (At this point, if you are not using an oven-safe pot, transfer to a 9x13 casserole dish.)
  6. In a small bowl, melt 2 Tbs. butter. Stir together with breadcrumbs and add mixture on top of the dish. 
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes until bubbly and the topping has browned.







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