Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Easter Cards!

It was fun this past week to make a variety of Eater cards for grandchildren and friends.  I relied heavily on the designs from Miss Kate's Cuttables because they are great for "children" of all ages.

First up - cards for the granddaughters...


The designs are Fancy Easter Eggs from Miss Kate's Cuttables The solid card stock is PaperTemptress Mica that was run through an polka dot embossing folder.  Then I added sparkle pen to the dots in a diagonal pattern (in both cards)  I framed the sides of the cards with washi tape which was really fun.  I don't use it enough and it gives such a finished look.



You can see the sparkled dots a little better in the side by side.
And the adhesive pearls on the flowers added a nice little touch.


Then there is Carter - this was his first "real" Easter where he could actually have fun looking for eggs!



This card has a lot of dimension - I love that bunny face and added whiskers just because!  I love all of the bright spring colors.  The polka dot "o" egg (that makes up "Hoppy")
has dots colored over with a sparkle pen.


Not the traditional Easter basket, but he loves cars and trucks, so it was perfect. It was filled with bubble tubes, sidewalk chalk, an Easter book, a "sock bunny" and a few plastic eggs with little Rice Krispie treats inside!


My neighbors have a grandson who is 6 months younger than Carter, and they asked if I would make an Easter card for him.  Of course I was happy to do that!


These designs are from Miss Kate's Cuttables.  I added the "Happy 2nd" greeting and then used Glossy Accents  on the eyes to make them shine and Crackle Accents on the eggs to make the shells shiny and a little cracked!  This was fun and made in the early hours of Easter morning!



I had to include a photo of the carrot tops, cut with the regular blade and share the detail of
these pieces as it still blows me away when the machine can so easily produce such intricate cuts.

And I wanted to make a special card for my neighbors who are so good to me in so many ways.  This was incredibly difficult to photograph since the foil is so reflective, but I tried to get many angles to give you an idea. In person, it is really beautiful.  I plan to do a lot more foiling - the results are just too stunning not to do more of it!


The "Joyful Lilies" on the cross were printed on PT Neenah card stock
on a laser printer. (you need the toner for foil to adhere when it is laminated.)


This is gold spectre foil so it appears holographic as it catches the light. 
The sentiment is from Verve Stamps and was embossed with gold powder.


You can really see the colors in this photo.  It was stunning.


Tried to catch just the gold, but it almost doesn't look foiled in this picture.


I hope everyone had a happy and BLESSED Easter........




Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lost and Found... my Mojo!




For the past month I have really been struggling to come up with ideas for cards.  There was absolutely nothing that inspired or excited me.  So I did a total purge of my craft room that took a couple of weeks and emptied one entire unit of drawers and shelves that covered an entire wall!  It felt so good to let go of  "stuff" and that led to "new hones" for many of the remaining supplies.  Clearing space was a good start, but I was still feeling a bit lost when it came to being creative. 

So... I just took a stamp I had never used, stamped it on a piece of cardstock and started coloring.  I pushed myself to stick with it and slowly I found I was actually enjoying it. (More on that next month!)  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I didn't give up. While trying to come up with the next step, I found a stash of leftovers that were never used in projects, but were just waiting to be used!. And that was apparently what I needed to jump start my card making process.  I was beginning to feel the joy that comes with having an idea and making it come to life.  Yippee!

Unfortunately, this void in my creativity made me over a month late in crafting a birthday card for a friend. So I decided a friendship card would be more appropriate all things considered.  I had saved the negative image from a flower card that I made 3 - yes THREE years ago - so I pulled that from my new-found stash, and brought it to life!  I am so happy with how it turned out.  The original image was from a floral image I found online.  I kept it simple with glitter and just added ribbon and pearls to embellish it. 



Using two shades of glitter was something I had not tried before, but it was easier than expected. 
I worked slowly with little embossing powder spoons to control where it fell. 
I wanted the colors to flow into each other gradually.
Trying to capture the shine of the glitter is tricky, but it was so pretty in person.





Pin It Now!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Changes Are Coming....

In the past, I have been fairly open about different health challenges I have experienced, and things I have tried to help along the way.  I have been doing a lot of reading lately about grain free diets and their benefit. Going gluten free never made a difference for me, but perhaps this "cleaner eating" way of life will. I am have decided to make a concerted effort to stop eating all grain and see if it changes any of the pain and discomfort I have been feeling. No harm can come of this and I have

I have thought about this before but didn't want to lose my "ability" to bake.  I love baking and thought I was going to have to give that up completely, but I was SO wrong..  There are cookbook resources and recipes all over the internet that teach the ins and outs of baking "grain free".  It isn't always easy, it doesn't taste quite the same, and it takes a lot of practice, but I am up to the challenge.  I have made a couple of things already with almond flour and because of the higher than usual quantity of eggs required, the food came out a little gooey and egg-like.I am learning that there are things I can do to make the structure better so I plan to make recipes that not only look tempting, but taste delicious.  I am convinced I can come up with good alternatives. And other than baking, going grain free is not going to be that difficult.  I have been buying grass fed meats and organic range free chicken for years.  I buy pastured eggs and raw cheese as much as possible. And fresh veggies and fruits have always been part of my diet - especially this time of year as the variety of fruit becomes plentiful here.

I am not sure I can do the cauliflower pizza crust or cauli sandwich thins which seem to be the rage now.  But I am a cauliflower convert when it comes to cauli-rice and faux mashed potatoes.  The cauliflower takes on the flavoring of what it is mixed with and it's really yummy!  There are other ways to make healthier "bread" alternatives that fit into the grain free plan, so I have a lot of fun cooking ahead of me!

So those are the changes in my kitchen! I am eager and more than a little excited to share this grain free journey. Stay tuned!


Pin It Now!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Introspection....



Yesterday I found myself sitting across a lunch table from an extremely bright, articulate, engaging woman who I have been blessed to know for years. She is a walking, talking history reference manual about the city where I was born and raised and currently live.  This city has been the brunt of a lot of bad press over the years because it borders a military base.

There were decades,when I was a little girl, when the downtown was not a very pretty or welcoming place to be.We all wondered if anything would change. It was honestly depressing. But…… change has come, albeit slowly, for the better. Decades ago the city began a redevelopment project to give our beloved town a face lift. And over time that has happened in a lovely way. Sometimes, when things are done well, the results outweigh the initial hopes. And I believe that was the outcome here.The facelift had a depth to it – that can be seen and felt by residents and businesses alike. I am so proud to live here and so excited to see all that is happening around me. Every week new businesses are coming to the downtown (affectionately known as Coast Highway, formerly Hill Street). Great little bistro pubs and craft breweries and specialty foods are popping up on every street.There are families wandering the streets morning, noon and night. There is live theater amid it all, and every Thursday part of the bustling downtown closes for a Farmers Market during the day, and a Sunset Market in the evening – with amazing food and entertainment.


I love this city, but not just because of what it is becoming, but because of the people who have come before and not only shared their dreams, but made their dreams a reality for themselves and for generations to come.
We sat and talked yesterday about why I was involved with various organizations here in the community.To say it is because I love it here is just too simple. The reason is so deep that it is difficult to find the words to really convey the “why”.  I had amazing role models. My parents were transplants in the 40s here – my Mom from New York and my Dad from Iowa. I won’t bore you with the details of their time here, but suffice to say they created wonderful lives that were rich with friendships. It didn’t matter what their career or religion was; the common thread was that everyone cared about each other. Together they gave back to this city that had given them the opportunities to chart their own path to success and brought them such a wonderful place to live and love.

It is because of them, of what I saw every day of my life, that gave my life a purpose I never truly realized for many years. The commitment was in my heart and soul, but remained dormant until my Dad passed away. It was only then that I became aware of the importance of the gift they had left me…the deep and unshaking love for my community. Oh, I didn’t realize that easily or quickly. I had to go through a year of darkness, grieving the loss of not only my last parent, but my best friend. I was in my 50s, but I felt like a lost child. Everyone grieves differently and it is a process for sure. But as I started to come out of that black hole, I could begin to accept not only the gift, but the responsibility that was now mine. My parents had created an incredible legacy of support and commitment to this city. And it was now up to me to continue their legacy as best I could. With the help of friends, I began to explore the organizations they loved to see if there was something I could possibly do to help on a small level. Initially it was overwhelming – they had done SO much and changed so many lives for the better. But it was also exciting to hear stories about them that I never knew, and look for ways to honor them by continuing their work in my own way. It was also a time of growth for me. I soon learned that what mattered more than anything was a willingness to be open and to let my heart lead me. And that I did. And surprisingly, the more I opened my heart, the easier it was to embrace the path that had been left for me.

I love Oceanside.I love the people. And I am grateful every single day to be a small part of the heartbeat of this beautiful city. My life has been blessed in so many ways.

Ok – enough philosophizing for one day!
I  hope to have more to share soon! Am planning some new cards and new cooking and baking adventures!

Stay tuned….
Pin It Now!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Zucchini Chocolate Cake - the BEST!

I made this cake a few days ago and almost didn't get a picture of it.  Have had neighbors and family enjoying it (and I snuck a few bites in there as well) and kept forgetting to snap a photo.  So finally grabbed a couple last night and even included one "a la mode".

Actually - that paragraph was written back in December and then life got away from me.  So....... it looked like I needed an excuse to make this delicious cake again - so I did!!  It is unbelievably easy to make and the zucchini makes it so moist that you think it it much more decadent than it is.  Adding the dark chocolate chips makes it a bit "healthier"  - right?? 





Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake

adapted from Mel's Kitchen Café

3 large eggs
1 T. vanilla extract (I use Vanilla Bean Extract Crush)
1 1/2 c. organic cane sugar
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. oil (melted coconut, avocado or canola  - I used coconut oil)
2 c. shredded zucchini
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips (added to the batter with the zucchini)
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips (totally optional but purely divine!)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 13x9" pan with cooking spray or oil and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, sugar, buttermilk and oil until well blended.  Stir in the shredded zucchini.

Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, soda and baking powder. Stir until well combined and no streaks of flour remain. Do not over mix.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the 1/2. c. dark chocolate chips over the top. They will melt in and just add more delicious flavor.

Bake in the oven for about 25-35  minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched and/or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Let cool completely.  You can sprinkle powdered sugar on the top right before serving, frost it with your favorite frosting, serve it a la mode, or just enjoy it plain. It is so moist and good and with all of that zucchini and dark chocolate - it's even good for you!! (well, I can rationalize just about anything!)  You will want to make this again and again! 
(I cut half of it into bars and put them in the freezer.  It helps to keep it out of sight for times when temptation takes over! And it's also a treat to open up the freezer and realize there is a delicious snack/dessert whenever I want it!)



The ice cream takes this moist wonderful cake to dessert nirvana!


It is as moist and luscious as it looks.....





Pin It Now!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lemon Almond Wedding Cookies

These are the first cookies I made in 2017 and they have set the bar high for all cookies to follow.  If you make just one cookie recipe this year - this is the one to make.  I know that is a rather bizarre statement to make when we are only two months into the year, but I just know that nothing will surpass the light lemony goodness of these little gems.

I hope you enjoy these delectable delights and I look forward to sharing more recipes with you in the coming weeks and months.  We will see if this one remains #1 in my kitchen and yours too!

Lemon Almond Wedding Cookies

adapted from The Pioneer Woman Food and Friends

2 sticks butter, unsalted and softened
 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 t. lemon extract
1/2 t. almond extract
1 T. lemon juice
2 lemons, zested
1 c. almond flour
2 c. flour
-------
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted (sifting is optional)

Cream the butter and sugar well with a stand or hand mixer.  Beat in the salt, lemon and almond extracts, lemon juice and the zest.  Mix in the almond flour.  On low speed, add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing just until blended. 

Refrigerate the dough for at least 45 minutes. (you can make this the night before and let it chill overnight).  Just bring it out about 30 minutes before you want to start scooping the dough.  Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325.

Use a 2 tsp. scoop and place the dough onto the parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until done.  Wait a minute or two (no longer) and toss the baked cookies into the sifted powdered sugar and then let them cool on a wire rack.


When they are completely cool, toss them again in the powdered sugar so they are well coated.
Makes about 4 dozen.


These are a little extra work, but soooooo worth it. They melt in your mouth!

I shared a small plate of cookies with each of my two neighbors and they raved for days!  Now that is what I call a cookie baking success!

Just this past week I made another batch, shared with the same neighbors and they were grinning from ear to ear!   I love doing things that make people happy!



ENJOY!!!

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine Fun!

I hope everyone is feeling loved and special, especially today.

The best part about today, for me, is reminding my grandchildren that they are loved.  And making cards for them is a fun way to do that.

I relied on the images from Miss Kate's Cuttables again to create their Valentine cards.

First of all, Carter is totally into trucks - ALL BIG TRUCKS and the noisier the better. He loves trash trucks and dump trucks and bulldozers - well you get the idea.  So when I saw this file I knew it was what I had to make for him.  I hope he likes it!


This is the cute little "digger". I have glossy accents on the
deeper yellow to make it shine and colored little rocks
being picked up.  So much fun to make!


Here is a side view so you can see some of the dimension and shine.


And the final product - I love it!

As for the girls in northern CA, I am really feeling their age gap now when I make cards for them. I used to be able to make similar cards, but now with Kendra (16) and Haley (10), I cannot get away with two too cutesy cards!!  I need to be a little more grown up with the teenager; at least I think I do!

So Kendra's card is feminine and bright and a tad simpler. 


I love all of the dimension and sparkle in this one. I hope it makes it through the mail in one piece!!


I have just recently started adding sequins to cards. They are fun to play with and add a nice touch!

Haley's card is still cute and a bit more playful.  I don't know how many more years I can get away with that!

This little bee has double wings with a layer of vellum over them.
He is really cute in person!


I thought the marbled vellum over the hot pink gave this a bit of a fantasy look and added
to the floating format.

I hope all three of them have a GREAT day!!

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Pin It Now!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 2017 - Carter is TWO!

Where oh where did January go?  The new year has barely begun and I am already a month behind!  Yikes!

I had the best of intentions and I blew it.  January came and went and so many things that I had planned/wanted to do just didn't happen.  I am not going to let myself label that a failure, which is progress for me!  Sometimes life just doesn't go the way you plan.  So you regroup and start anew. And that is what I am doing. It's a new year - a month late!

Happy February! I have been busy baking and card making and m eager to start sharing again. 

First up is the card I made for my rapidly growing grandson, Carter.  He is SUCH a delight and is full of the joy and inquisitiveness (and boundless energy) that are typical of two year olds.  He brings such joy into all of our lives.

His birthday was actually the beginning of the month, but I am playing catch up for a while. Forgive me.

So here is his birthday morning!  I think it is the perfect way to start a birthday - I would just add a nice LARGE cup of coffee (and would definitely stay in my pjs!!)

For his card I used a cake design from Miss Kate's Cuttables to celebrate this second birthday.


I ran the frosting layers through embossing folders to
give them a little interest and added colored brads to
the dotted sprinkles for dimension and interest.



This little greeting was all done on the Silver Bullet.  I used the pen tool with
Staedler fineliner pens (love them) to "write" the message and then
cut the little banner greeting out - all on the machine. Fun and easy!



I got this stamp years ago to put on the back of the cards
that I made my granddaughters.  Now Carter gets it on his cards
too.  I stamped this on a sheet of 2" square labels so I
have them all ready to go!


The only way to start a birthday!






HAPPY SECOND BIRTHDAY DEAR CARTER! 










Pin It Now!

Monday, December 19, 2016

December Birthday Cards




Here it is a week before Christmas and I still have Christmas cards and recipes to share.  I guess I better make a real concerted effort to post a lot in the next week!!  And what's wrong with sharing a few Christmas recipes in January to get a jump start on the coming year - right??  Geesh...... one of these days I will do a better job of juggling all of it. But for now, until the little elves come and give me a hand, I will do the best I can!

I needed to get a few birthday cards made, so I tried to combine birthday and holiday and am really pleased with the results.  I made ornament embellishments for both cards using two entirely different files and designers, but kept the same greeting because it worked so well!


This design is from Craft Vectors (Dominic). It is one of his Christmas Baubles collection.
It was cut out of gold vinyl.

The designs were cut out of vinyl then transferred to adhesive backed acetate to mimic an ornament. Then each was glittered from the back side. It's a bit tricky to stay in the lines (my perfectionist striving self struggled with glitter that went awry), but I still love  how they came out!




This is the end result - after the adhesive acetate has been added
and it has been glittered from the back.


Here is the second design from A Little Hut and is part
of the Poinsettia  Gift Set.   It was cut from silver
vinyl and also glittered from behind once the acetate was adhered to the front.
This is a relatively simple way to get a stunning look.


This was the first card I did with simple sequins added to the card base. 
The sequins reminded me of falling snow.



I used the same font in both, cut out of vinyl but made this ornament a bit larger
and added the glittered bow.

More projects and goodies to come.....stay tuned!




Pin It Now!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats

I love squash, but spaghetti squash is something I had never cooked before and had no desire to try.  I am so glad I stumbled upon this recipe and it gave me the push I needed to venture out of my comfort zone!.
This was so easy to roast  and fun to shred into strands!   And the bonus was that it was delicious too.  This is definitely something I will make again...and again!.  



Don't you love those strands of squash?  Yes, food CAN be fun!

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats     

adapted from Cafe Delites

2 whole spaghetti squash, cut in half and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper
Bolognese or marinara sauce -  semi-homemade (below) or from scratch

Quick Bolognese Sauce:

1 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1  (12 oz.) pkg.  - Aidell's All Natural Caramelized Onion Chicken Meatballs (these are pre-cooked and so incredibly good and flavorful)*
1 (14 oz.) bottle of your favorite marinara sauce
2 T. tomato paste
1 beef bouillon, crushed or 1 t. beef stock base
pinch of sugar to reduce the acidity (I used 1/2 packet of Truvia)
2 T. fresh chopped parsley (divided)
2 t. fresh chopped basil**
2 t. fresh chopped oregano**
o----------o----------o----------o----------o----------o----------o----------o----------o----------o----------o

1 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese or 3 cheese blend
salt and pepper to taste

While the squash is roasting (it takes about 40-45 minutes), prepare the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the garlic until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, tomato paste, chopped chicken meatballs,* crushed bouillon cube or beef base, sugar, 1 T. of the parsley and the remaining herbs.**.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
Reduce heat, cover with lid and simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

While the sauce is cooking, mix the ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese and set aside.

Now is a good time to take the cooled spaghetti squash and create strands from the flesh by running a fork across the squash.  Leave about 1/2" of squash around the edges so the shell remains stable. (I don't know why, but this is so much fun to do and makes the squash totally irresistible!)




Divide the sauce among the four halves; about 2 cups each.  Then top the sauce with about 2-3 T. of the ricotta cheese mixture, followed by 1/4 c. shredded cheese each (if you want to add more shredded cheese, go for it!  In my world, there is no such thing as too much cheese...)


Each squash half is enrobed with about 2 cups of meat sauce.


The parmesan ricotta mixture adds such creaminess to this dish...


And then the cheese....use mozzarella, an Italian blend, or whatever you have on hand.

* You can use 1 lb. ground beef or turkey - just add immediately after the garlic is sautéed and cook until no longer pink.  Follow the remaining steps.

**You can substitute with dried herbs(use half as much if using dried) but the fresh adds SO much more flavor...

Place the squash halves in the center of the oven and broil for about 10 minutes - until the cheese is melted and browned.

Top with remaining fresh parsley and serve.  You will be surprised at how delicious and filling this is - and you will want to make it again soon!  I promise!  And the bonus is that it's relatively healthy too! 



ENJOY!!!




Pin It Now!

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.