Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thank You Card for Special Neighbors

I really do love the condo development where I have settled. Being across the street from the beach certainly has its perks and that is amazing. But in addition to being surrounded by the beauty of God's creations, I have also met some of the nicest people ever.  This development is a mix of owners who live her full time and people who come for varying lengths of time to get away, a month at a time. Many of the people who visit come year after year, so even tho they are only here for a month or so, friendships are formed.  It is really pretty wonderful.

One of my part time neighbors are also owners, but they rent their condo about half of the year and when its not rented they come and stay a few weeks at a time.  They are a great couple who hope to retire in about five years and live here full time.  He is the cook in the family and is always appearing at my door with a new creation to share.  He and his wife are so thoughtful. The last time they were here, they brought be a beautiful orchid plant.  So I made them a special thank you card that was decorated with a lovely orchid designed by Marcella at Power Poppy!

I am still working on my coloring skills with pencils, markers and watercolors, but am determined to color more and accept the imperfections in my work as I learn.  That's a big step for me! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Chocolate Crinkle Sprinkle Cookes

These cookies were made as a special treat for my grandson, Carter.  When it was my oldest son Scott's birthday, we met for dinner at a fabulous Mexican restaurant in San Clemente which was about half way for each of us. And I just didn't see how I could show up empty handed, so after dinner we made a trip to the car to get the surprise for Carter!!  He was SO happy!  Scott didn't quite understand why HIS son got the special present, but he felt better when Carter shared!! :)

adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 c. (142 g) flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. (42 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c. organic cane sugar
1/3 c. vegetable oil (I prefer to use Spectrum canola and coconut blend)
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract (I like to use Mexican vanilla in chocolate recipes)
1/2 c. rainbow sprinkles (or more depending on how generous you are with the sprinkles!!)

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Set aside.

Beat together the sugar, cocoa and oil until thoroughly blended with an electric mixer.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat thoroughly.  Beat in the vanilla.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour a little at a time, just mixing until combined.  Stir well with a rubber spatula to be sure all of the flour is incorporated.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment and place the sprinkles in a small shallow bowl.

Shape the dough into one inch balls.  Roll each ball in sprinkles and place on prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart. Gently press down on the cookie before baking.

Bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies have spread a little and appear set.  They will remain soft and chewy in the center. Do not overbake.

Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet before removing them to a wire rack.  They will keep up to one week in an airtight container.

These were a huge hit with my grandson!!  Score two points for Grammy! :)  Definitely fun to make as well and you could use a variety of colored sprinkles to fit any occasion imaginable!

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Granddaughter's Graduation Card (how could that be??!!??)

This week my granddaughter, Kendra, graduated from high school.  I can still SO vividly remember the day she was born and holding her in the hospital when she was just hours old.  Where in the world has all of the time gone?

Kendra graduated "young" at 17, but she is ready to conquer the world. I love talking with her about what she wants to do and how excited she is about college.  I hope she will never be TOO busy to stop sharing some of her experiences with me. And now that she has her driver's license, I am hoping with all of my heart that she will be able to drive down here during the summer and spend a week with me at the beach. We would have so much fun!  I can dream........... :)

I wanted her graduation card to be different than the run of the mill graduation cards and I hope I achieved that. I think it is one of my favorite cards for sure!

I love the saying - it is from the Flutterby collection from
Crafter's Companion

I made a rounded mat and centered the butterfly on the mat and cut out just the inside. Then I cut the full butterfly out of incandescent card stock in black to use as an outline when I was done.  I put a piece of  contact paper (double sided adhesive works well too) behind the cut out butterfly and glittered each portion using a straw so I could pick up a small amount of glitter at a time. 

Congratulations, Kendra. I am so proud of you!

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Sympathy Card

Several weeks ago,  a very special lady and friend lost her battle to cancer.  She had been running the ShareaCard organization that I have been involved with the past 20 years.  She took over 14 years ago when the founder passed away - also from cancer.  Kath felt that it was her responsibility, but more importantly, her privilege to take over and make ShareaCard all that it could be.  And she did just that.  Because of her dedication, we have touched the lives of many seriously ill adults and brought them happiness through thoughtful greeting cards.  Both Suzanne, the founder, and Kath lived in PA - and the rest of us are scattered all over the US, as well as all over the world.  And now, her daughters are going to continue the work of ShareaCard in memory of their mother.  They grew up watching the dedication, love and unselfishness of their mother. They are going to follow in her footsteps and continue to help bring cheer to those in need.  I am so proud to be part of such a wonderful organization.  You can learn more about it at

I let almost a week go by before starting to make a card for Kath's family.  I was in such denial that this disease had taken her from her family and all of us.  I wanted to make a card that somehow depicted who she was to me - someone with grace and beauty and gentleness.

Here is a closeup of the gerbera daisies stamp by Sheena (Crafter's Companion).
It is embossed with a silver white embossing powder that sparkles 
beautifully in person.  And the pearls and sequins add a nice touch.

The photo below gives a slightly different view of the front of the card - and all of the detail in the stamp.  I love how it turned out.

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Bright and Fun Congratulations Card

I am so lucky to be involved with many organizations that do so much good in our beautiful city - particularly for the youth.  One of my passions is working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside.  They do such amazing work for the youth in our community and I am truly honored to be a part of that.  As a side note, it is interesting how things come full circle in life.  In the 1960s, my father was part of the group of businessmen who started the Boys Club in Oceanside (back then it was just for males!!)  And he stayed involved most of his life.  So how special is it for me to now be on the board and help follow in his footsteps and also follow my own passion - I am all about the youth in our community and exposing them to as much as we can.  I want them to know that they can do whatever they want - they only have to reach for it.

Every year in our club (and in most Boys & Girls Clubs), a youth of the year is chosen.  That youth goes on to compete in the county competition against other youth in the area, and then the winner goes on to State, then Regional, then National.  It is an amazing opportunity and at the National level, there is a lot of scholarship money available to the winner.  Last year our youth of the year won the County and then became the California State Youth of the Year.  This year, we did it again!!!  Our 16 year old incredible young woman won San Diego County and then recently won the State competition.  We are so very proud of her.  She will go on to the regional completion and compete against youth from Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and a few other states I cannot remember right now!!  So exciting for her and what an opportunity for growth, win or lose.

She was planning to attend board meeting last week, so I wanted to make her a card from the Board to let her know just how proud we are of her.  This was super fun to make because it was different than the get well or birthday cards that I usually do.  I am super happy with how it came out. I hope you like it too!

Here you can see a closeup of the glitter and foil - 
both challenging to capture the sparkle beauty!

The background foiled image was actually a negative piece left over from another project. I had used Gina K's Foil Mates with the stars, so this was fun to add to the feeling of celebration - and the fact that she IS a star!!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Chicken Tortilla Soup...... a new FAVORITE!

I was definitely on the fence about Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I didn't hate it - I just wasn't sure that I liked it enough to make it.

Well....... I have followed Carlsbad Cravings for several years, and all of her recipes are always fabulous.  And Carlsbad (the city) is literally next door to where I live - just 5 minutes away.  So......
I am a fan for many reasons.  I knew she would not steer any of us wrong on this recipe , and I was SO VERY RIGHT!

You need to make this  -- and you need to make it soon.  You will not be sorry!!


adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

2 T. olive oil
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
1 medium onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped (I LOVE these peppers - so good and not too hot)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tsp. each:  chili powder, ground cumin, chicken bouillon or broth powder
1/2 t. each:  smoked paprika, oregano, salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 small (4 oz.) can mild green chilies
2 - 15 oz. cans fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 - 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag Trader Joe's frozen fire roasted corn (i can of sweet corn can be used, but this is SO much better)
1 - 10 oz. can mild enchilada sauce
6 c. low sodium chicken broth

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add chopped onion and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add bell pepper and poblano pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add garlic and saute briefly.

Add all remaining soup ingredients (except the lime juice and cilantro).  Cover soup and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over medium low or low heat.  Simmer 20-25 minutes or just until the chicken is tender (check for temp of 165 to be sure).  Remove the chicken from the pot and let rest about 5 minutes.  Carefully shred the chicken (be careful - it will be hot!)

Add chicken back to pot along iwth the lime juice and cilantro.  Taste and season with additional salt and live to taste.  Stir in additional chicken broth if you want a less chunky soup. (I like it chunky!)

Top individual servings with baked tortilla strips (below) and garnish with cubed avocado, shredded Cheddar cheese, additional chopped cilantro (and anything else you like).


To add later:
1 T. lime juice (and extra lime slices for serving)
1/3 c. chopped cilantro


Homemade Tortilla Strips:
8 - 6 inch corn tortillas
1 T. vegetable or canola oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 for the tortilla strips.

Cut tortillas into 1/2 inch strips.  Using a pizza cutter can make it easy to create the strips.  A few can be stacked at a time and cut to make it easier.

Line a half sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper and .  Toss the strips with 1 T. oil and spread over the pan, making sure to arrange the strips in a single layer.  Grind pink Himalayan salt over the top.  Bake for 12-15 minutes in the oven until light golden brown. Set aside to cool and crisp.

This soup is delicious - REALLY scrumptions!  I served this to my neighbors who love tortilla soup and they said it was the best they had EVER tasted - and they have tasted many!  Needless to say, that made me one happy girl.

The added bonus was that this soup was super easy to make.  I will definitely be making this more often!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Special Card for Courageous Friend

I have a very special friend who has been fighting the dreaded "C" disease for the past several months.  She is a pillar in our community and loved and respected by all.  But cancer doesn't care how wonderful she is - and that is just one of the MANY things I hate about it. :(

I wanted to send her a little sunny encouragement and I hope this card helped.    I have been stretching to learn new things and/or use techniques that I have not used in a very long time - like distressing.  The Coredinations card stock is great for that because the white core comes through the color when lightly sanded - and I love that look with this card.

The digi image is another beautiful flower from Power Poppy - Climbing Clematis.I used the Spectrum Noir color blend pencils and gamsol to blend the colors together.  I had forgotten how incredible relaxing it is to color with pencils and I am determined to do more of it.  I just need to make more time.  I traced the image in SCAL and cut it out with the Silver Bullet and purposely left a bit of a shadow around it.  The "thinking of you" is a Hero Arts stamp, colored with a Zig Brush Marker to complement the background.

Love the closeup of the butterfly and all of the colors. The rhinestones
give the butterfly that little bit of sparkle and pop!

I highlighted the center of the flowers with Color Technik glitter gel pens.  I love the way they color - so smooth and sparkly. They are my "go to" gel pen because of the wide variety of color choices.  Well, I really love the Sakura gel pens, but they are limited in color - so I use both.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Roasted Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

For Easter Brunch this year, I was asked to bring a "fun" ice cream.  I wasn't sure what that meant (isn't ALL ice cream fun?!?) but later it was clarified that strawberry cheesecake ice cream would be great. So that is what I made and it was delicious!

adapted from Handle the Heat

1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
3/4 c. raw cane sugar, divided (1/4 c for the berries; 1/2 c. for the ice cream mixture)
1 T. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
3 tsp. lemon juice
2 T. Lyle's Golden Syrup (or corn syrup)
1/4 t. fine sea salt
2 t. vanilla bean paste
4 whole (rectangle) graham crackers, chopped

Preheat the oven to 300.  Line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

Mix the quartered strawberries with 1/4 c. sugar and the tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.  Spread the strawberries over the parchment paper in one layer.  Roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until they are darker in color, soft and the juices have released. (and they will smell heavenly!)  Transfer the strawberries to a medium bowl and mash until only small pieces of fruit remain.  (I used a hand blender so they were chopped probably a bit more than they should have been.  But it was still delicious!!)  Chill the berry mixture in the refrigerator about 1 hour, till completely chilled.

In the meantime, blend the remaining ice cream ingredients (except the graham crackers) in a food processor until the mixture is smooth.  I pulsed for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover tightly. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to one day.

When ready to churn, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker.  Freeze according to manufacture's directions.  During the last 5 minutes of freezing, add most of the roasted strawberries and chopped graham crackers. Pour into an ice cream container and press plastic wrap or parchment against the ice cream.  Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

*  I put about half of the ice cream into the container and added a layer of roasted strawberries and then garnished the top with a few more strawberries and chopped graham crackers. 

I let my machine churn a few more minutes so the strawberries blended a bit more than they "should" have, but the end product was delicious and tasted like wonderful strawberry cheesecake..

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Happy Easter - a Little Late!!!

With Spring arriving so late in parts of the country, I figured I might be able to get away with posting a "bleated" Easter card.  This was actually delivered in time, but I was busy packing for a trip to New York so all things got pushed to the bottom of my priority list.  I have returned and am exhausted and jet lagged, but had a GREAT time. Will share more of that trip once I catch up on some posts!

It is hard to believe that Carter just celebrated his third Easter and family gathered around to help him enjoy the festivities with Easter brunch and plenty of Easter Bunny goodies. (post on my ice cream contribution to follow soon!)

I just realized as I am writing this, that his card was a bit more grown up than it should have been.  Not sure what I was thinking, but I definitely could have made it more little boyish - not that he cared. He was definitely more interested in the goodies in the Easter basket that we delivered!

And it was nice for both of the grandmothers to be there along with other family members and share in the fun over brunch.

This was a stamp I got years ago that I have been putting
on the back of the cards made for my grandchildren.

I hope you all had a blessed and happy Easter and are ready to enjoy a beautiful Spring.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Shrimp Parmesan with Homemade Bucatini Pasta

I don't cook shrimp often because it can be finicky - ok so I am the one who is the problem here.  Shrimp takes so little time to cook that I often get distracted and end up with a less than delectable rubbery shrimp.  Not a good thing.  So this night I was determined to keep my eye on it and cook it quickly - and lo and behold - it was perfection.  Fear of shrimp - gone - or at least diminished!

I have also been enjoying making my own pasta - not sure I will EVER buy another bagged or boxed pasta unless I need a shape I cannot substitute. What amazes me after all of these years of being afraid to make pasta, is that it is SO easy and so delicious.  There really is nothing like FRESH!!

The recipe called for linguine, but I wanted to try the bucatini die in my Kitchen Aid pasta maker because it looked like fun - no other reason - why not make it all about the fun?!?  So I made the dough in the mixer and ran it through the pasta extruder and let it sit while waiting til it was closer to dinner.  I wanted to have it ready in advance so I could just add it to the sauce easily and not have my timing off.

Just look at those beautiful strings of pasta -

The pasta strands are resting on a floured sheet of parchment 

So back to the shrimp.  I sautéed it in a mixture of butter and olive oil until it was done (literally about 2-3 minutes) and put it in foil to keep warm.  The rest of the details are below.


adapted from Cooking Classy

8 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
3 T. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 c. water
1 c. half and half (or 1/2 c. heavy cream and 1/2 c. whole milk)
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese (freshly shredded is the BEST)
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
12 oz. pasta (your favorite - recipe for Bucatini below)

Melt 1 T. butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally and watch carefully.  As soon as the shrimp is opaque, transfer it to a piece of foil and wrap it to keep it warm.

Add the remaining 2 T butter to the skillet and melt. Add the chopped onion and cook for 6-8 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the water,hald and half, noodles and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a gentle boil,, stirring frequently until the noodles are cooked.  If using fresh pasta, they will cook in 3-5 minutes. Keep stirring as the sauce will thicken. Remove from heat when the pasta is cooked and add in the shredded Parmesan cheese.  The cheese may clump initially, but continue stirring until the sauce is smooth again.  Thin with a little half and half or milk if needed.  Add the cooked shrimp, toss gently and sprinkle the chopped fresh parsley on top.  Serve immediately.


from the Kitchen Aid website

Love how this photo shows the holes in the bucatini - 
so this pasta can really soak up a sauce!

4 large eggs
1 T. water
3 1/2 c. flour, sifted
1/2 t. salt

Using the flat beater (paddle) of the mixer, mix all of the ingredients in a stand mixer at the speed of two for about 30 seconds.

Exchange the paddle beater for the dough hook and continue mixing on speed 2 for two minutes.  The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If not, add 1 tsp of water at a time and knead a bit before adding more. The dough should be pliable, but not sticky.  You should be able to pinch a small piece in between two fingers and it should stay together when pinched, not stick to the fingers or be crumbly and fall apart.

Take the dough out and hand knead it for about 2 minutes. Cover in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 minutes.  Follow manufacturer's instructions to make the desired pasta shape.

Good enough to eat??  You bet!!  Try this soon...

I am so glad there were leftovers because it was THAT GOOD!  Sent a serving home with Rob and have enough left over for my dinner tonight.  I usually don't get excited about what's for dinner, especially when I am eating alone, but this dish I am eager to eat again and think it will be on the repeat menu soon!  (Well after I wrote this I took the leftover down to my SHE enjoyed what was left.  Hence, no beautiful pic of just one serving but will do that next time.)  Will definitely be on the spring and summer menus!

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About Me

My photo

I am a mother to three and Grammy to two beautiful granddaughters and one very handsome little grandson.  Was born and raised in southern California and am happy to call it home.  I fill my days with volunteer work, paper crafting, needlework of all kinds and cooking and baking.   I am blessed with wonderful family and friends who fill my heart on a daily basis.