Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dominic's Daisy - Tripled!

I have so needed to make quite a few birthday cards, but have been busy with some fundraising events and time was just not on my side.... until this past weekend.  I sat myself down and just said "knock it off!  You have things you need to do so focus!!"  Nope -  that was a great idea in theory but fell flat. I don't listen to my own lectures very well!  Sometimes the creative mojo is just NOT there and it has been doing an exceptional job of hiding lately.  I have searched through card sketches looking for inspiration - and found none.  I tried blog after blog after blog. I loved all of the wonderful creations out there, but none moved me enough to try to make one like it.  The more I looked the more discouraged I became.  And the more discouraged I became the less inclined I was to even try to think of something  to make.  Then it happened - the undeniable tick of the clock reminding me that the time was upon and the cards were needed NOW.

After a mild panic, I fell back on one of Dominic's designs - I love how they cut and they always make me look so clever - but it's really ALL him. I love his flower series and have used many time and time again.  I decided it was time to make the daisy again - so I not only made it once, I made it three times!  I know.... I never..... well almost never make the same card twice.  And even though I  used the main design three times with basically the same paper, each card has a character all its own. I really am happy with how these turned out and even happier that it has led me to work on other projects - to be revealed over the next few days  I hope.

I am hopeful that the creativity is returning, albeit s--l--o--w--l--y!!!  But it's okay - I can wait patiently and hope I can nurture it and keep it going.  My fingers are crossed!

So here is my trio of Dominic's daisies. And even though I cut the positive/negative image, I decided to just stick with the main file and play around with that.

I love showing the positive and negative images. 
This time I didn't make a card with the negative image...yet!

Paper Temptress Pop Tones Grape Jelly card base
Paper Temptress Parchment pink
Bow Easy for perfect bow making!
A simple and easy card.

Paper Temptress Sparkle Blanco card base
Coredinations background showing in the corners
Paper Temptress Luster Canvas behind the daisy
Seed pearls glued in the center of the flower.
A bit more detailed but still simple.

Paper Temptress Pop Tones Grapesicle with daisy cut out.
Back of Bo Bunny patterned paper showing through the daisy for contrast,
Star Dust Stickles in the openings of the flower center

All of the cards use Bo Bunny dotted patterned paper that has a solid color on the reverse side. It cut beautifully with the Silver Bullet Professional Cutter as did all of the papers, and it was fun to use something a little different.    Details are under each card. I hope you enjoy them!!

Stay tuned for more creativity from the craft room and the kitchen!! Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Turning Sixty...

A couple of weeks ago I hit a sort of benchmark age that definitely gave me pause.  Sixty - dare I say it???  I have whispered it for months knowing that it was waiting for me round the bend, then I went into denial as the date came closer, cringed on my actual birthdate, and then.......suddenly...... it was ok!  Really  - as if someone snapped their fingers or made a secret wish... all of the negative connotations vanished.  And there is more .... I actually embraced the age.  If truth be known, I worked darn hard to get to this stage of my life and I deserve to enjoy it, not run from it!!  And I am still working on making that my TRUTH!!

In the months approaching my birthday, I heard all of the cliches - it's just a number, it's the new FIFTY, it's the new FORTY, you don't look a day over ______ (they kindly inserted an insanely young age!) and more...   I shrugged my shoulders and just felt OLD........I mean O......L.........D!!! And the closer my birthday came, the older I felt.  It was as if I was aging months with each passing day.  My mind was playing horrible tricks on me and I was believing the worst of this ominous age.

But as quickly as it came..... it went.  And you know what?  I am just the same as I was a few months ago.. What has changed dramatically is my attitude about a lot of things.  Could I finally be growing up?  Maybe there really is hope for all of us!!

Here is what I have learned/realized in the two weeks that have passed.....

I love my  life.  Is there anything I would change?  Of course, I would wish for perfect health instead of having to deal with some challenging health issues. Yet I am so very aware that no one escapes unscathed; we all have personal struggles - some are more visible than others, but no one has a "perfect" life. But, for me, I know it could be so much worse. I am still independent and do not have to rely on others for daily tasks.  I can read and craft and love my dogs and bake and do needlework and so many things that make me happy and fill my soul.

I can live, free of fear, to make choices for myself. I can explore new interests and learn new skills. I can choose to do whatever I want, within reason!  There is so much ahead of me that I long to experience.  I realize, now more than ever, just how precious each and every minute is.  And I don't want to take one  of those minutes for granted.

I am blessed with three wonderful children who have grown into very special adults.  I have two beautiful granddaughters and look forward to more grandchildren in time. (my youngest son is not married yet so there is definitely time!!)  I am living out my life in the city where I was born and raised. And even though my parents are no longer here, many of their friends still are And their friends are now my friends. And my parents set a clear and wonderful example about how to be an active and caring member of a community. Yes, I am still trying to make them proud.  But I am also finding my own way to give back to the city that I love, embracing some of their passions and finding my own.

My life is rich in all of the ways that really matter - with incredible friends and family.  I am an only child and always wanted a brother or sister.  I now realize that I have all of that and more in the friends who bless my life.  They are sisters and brothers who I love with all of my heart.  Sometimes I sit back in awe of the amazing people in my life and wonder what I did to be so unbelievably lucky!

So..... is turning sixty all that bad??  No.. not at all.  It is a passage into a new journey with a heightened awareness of the beauty of life all around me.  It is time to be grateful for the life path that brought me to this age and stay open to the opportunities ahead.  It's as if I approached a fork in the road and there were two very distinct choices.  I could go one direction and bitterly and begrudgingly move into this "senior" phase of my life and let my struggles dictate my days and basically give in to the aging process. The other direction was a bit more uncertain and uncomfortable as it required trust and faith - faith in myself.  But this direction had so many more possibilities and opportunities - I could feel the excitement even though I could only see a few steps ahead of me. The emotional pull was evident. This is where promise for the future and fulfillment  would prosper. This is where I could decide who I wanted to be and how I wanted to embrace each day.  This is where the only limitations would be self-imposed.  So it was an easy decision for me -  I want to dare to experience all that is available.

Each birthday is a gift in itself .  And this one, in particular, was overflowing with love and gratitude.  Perhaps it felt more special because I finally opened my heart to receive.

I could not be happier and I wish that for everyone reading this.

A surprise family dinner!!! BEST Birthday EVER!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus - Party Time!!

The time has come and I have moved into a new decade of my life - ouch!!

I knew that some of my kids were coming over to take me out to dinner to celebrate, so  I needed a quick appetizer beforehand.  I had seen a lot of different recipes for hummus and decided that this was the time to make some. And all I can say is I will never buy it again - it is just TOO easy to prepare and oh SO good!

And there is A SECRET to the smoothest hummus ever.  Ready?  Remove the skins! Simple right?

The Secret..... The Skins!!!

First of all,  I should now admit that I had no idea garbanzo beans had skins!!  Did you?  And they are not tedious to get off - you just hold one and sort of pop it off!!  I even took a photo of the skins to show you how they come off in one piece.  Now I suppose you could say I have way too much time on my hands if I am "peeling" garbanzo beans.... and there are times you would be right, but not this time!  I wanted to be sure I could make creamy hummus as I was missing the tahini paste that supposedly adds flavor AND creaminess.  So I did some online research and discovered this cool secret.  And the verdict from all who tried it was a resounding YES - it was worth it - and it was delicious!!!

The prep - yummy dippers, simple ingredients


Adapted from Table for Two

1 can garbanzo beans, drained (reserve liquid)
1/2 - 2/3 cup roasted red peppers
1 tsp. Borsari salt or a high quality salt combination
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp. reserved bean liquid
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. paprika
juice of one lemon

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until well mixed.  If you have time, refrigerate for 1-2 hours so the flavors can meld. You will LOVE this!!

The finished product......So incredibly delicious (and don't you LOVE those napkins???)

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Peach Maple Breakfast Bread Pudding

This time of year I tend to overbuy fresh fruit.  I cannot get enough of it and forget that one person can just eat SO much fruit until I get home from the store and start to put it all away into the bins that are already brimming with fruit! What was I thinking?  But it looks SO good and smells SO good, I just cannot resist it.  I think subconsciously I realize that in another month or so the pickings will be slim and it will be back to just apples and berries!  So....... time to use up some peaches.

I usually make my own bread, but have not yet ventured into the world of challah or brioche so I cheated and bought it. I plan, during the cooler months, to experiment more with my bread making and master at least one of those.  It's just dough - right?  How hard can it be??

Peach Maple Breakfast Bread Pudding

adapted from Piece of Cake

1 (1 lb) loaf of challah or brioche, cut into 1" cubes
6 large or extra large eggs
*2 cups vanilla coconut milk (or regular milk - your choice)
3/4 cup Coffeemate Girl Scout Caramel and Coconut
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (use grade B for the most intense flavor)
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups cubed, peeled peaches (2 medium size)

* The original recipe calls for 2 3/4 cups milk - I just split the difference between the coconut milk and the CoffeeMate creamer.

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 13x9" pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, creamer, maple syrup, almond extract, and salt and whisk until well blended.  Add the bread cubes and gently blend using a rubber spatula, coating the bread cubes. Then fold in the peaches.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and let sit for 10 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the liquid.

Bake uncovered for about 50-60 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown,  and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting.

Reheats well the next day!

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Needing Sympathy Cards :(

Unfortunately I have had to make two sympathy cards of late.  Both were beloved long standing members of our area who helped make it a better place to live.  God bless them and their families.

I went for simple cards... used a stencil design that was turned into a cut file and even though not planned, the negative image from the cutout turned into the perfect second card.

I did learn a trick when transferring the pieces of the cross (on the right below) so I wouldn't have to move each individual part as I have always done.  I took some of my transfer tape and placed it over the image, brayered it and slowly pulled it off. I was  a bit worried that the paper would adhere to the tape and not release, but the tape held just enough to let me align it to the silver shadow after coating the back of the cross with glue, and then I adhered it to the shadow piece and very gently pulled the tape off.    I am so glad I learned this little trick. It will make piecing complicated designs so much easier!!

Positive and negative cut images.

The stenciled cross with a silver shadow under it to show the detail.

A damask embossing folder enhancing the Paper Temptress luster paper.

The negative (leftover) image after the cross pieces were removed

Finished card with the original image on pop dots.  I love the embossed background.

The second card -  love the simplicity of it

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Dated" Brown Sugar Banana Bread

Oh that was bad - but it got your attention - right??!!??

I had planned to make a  new recipe for banana bread today, but I never thought about how important it was to have that cup of coffee first.  Lesson learned - I hope.

I was measuring my dry ingredients and needed 3/8 cup.  No problem. I knew I had a 1/8 cup measure and a 1/4 cup so I was good.  The math worked fine.    Where I failed was in reaching for the measuring cups without checking.  I thought I had the right sizes and moved right along - flour, brown sugar blend, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. I was whisking away and was about to go to the next step when that delayed sip of coffee aka caffeine shot kicked in.  I looked at the measuring cups and literally said out loud "OH NO!!"  My dogs looked at me like I was telling them that they were not going to get breakfast!!
But no -- the gasp was not meant for them.  I realized that I had pulled out a 1/4 cup measure AND a 1/3 cup measure!!  I might have been able to fudge a little had I just used the 1/3 cup - but no - I used both and knew that it was way too much sugar for the recipe.  So that bowl of flour mixture went straight into the trash .  I gulped a few more swigs of coffee and proceeded to remeasure and get the correct amounts into the bowl!!  Good grief!

So what was I making??  Here is the recipe, thanks to another blogger and a great cookbook.  Used a bit of inspiration from both!   And the second time around it turned out perfect!!!

Brown Sugar Banana Bread with Dates!

adapted from Cookies and Cups and  The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook
2 cups flour
3/8 cup Splenda brown sugar baking blend
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking spice (Penzey's Spices)
1/4 c. chopped dates
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (4 small)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used Trader Joe's vanilla bean)
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray (I use EverBake from King Arthur Flour - love it and it never fails me!).  Set aside....

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar blend, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and baking spice.  Mix in the chopped dates. Whisk til well combined

In a separate large bowl, mash 4 small bananas (that is what it took for me to get 1 1/2 cups -).  Add yogurt (can substitute with sour cream), eggs, melted butter and vanilla.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine until just blended.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan.  OPTIONAL:  Sprinkle several tablespoons of the brown sugar blend over the top of the batter. It will form a nice crust as it bakes..

Bake for 45- 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan after running a knife around the edges to loosen.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

So when you forget to take a picture before it goes in the oven......

Oh I wish you could smell this...

It was SO hard to wait for this to cool!

Look at that crunch brown sugar topping!!!  So Yummy!

Tried a new spotlight feature on this picture - highlights all of the moist ingredients.

A closeup of the bananas and dated scattered throughout!

Ready to eat?  Breakfast anyone?

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy Birthday to my Youngest Son!!

My "baby" is turning 24 today.  How did that happen?  I can still remember bringing him home when he was two days old. His sister was 11 at the time and his brother 14!  Yes there is a huge gap, but this special young man was very much wanted and planned for.  He is adopted and a very special gift.

I have three wonderful children and they are each different and unique. Only my youngest is adopted but he is the one who really taught me about love in an unexpected way.

By entering my life, he taught me that it doesn't matter how you enter someone's life, only that you do.  Love truly knows no bounds.   Children are born in your heart.  Nothing else matters.  He is a product of my heart as are each of the other two.  I gave each of them my heart the day they were born and the amazing thing about that, is that somehow, the heart manages to grow as big as you need it to grow to meet the demands placed upon it.  It allows you to love until you feel it might burst, but it never does.  It pours out love in infinite abundance.  What a miracle that is!!

Good thing he doesn't read my blog - he would be embarrassed!!

Ok - card details.  I used the Silver Bullet Professional Cutter and SCAL to do a simple print and cut.  I loved the expression on this policeman!  The rest just seemed to come together. The stop sign is on foam tape as is the policeman so he stand out a little!  The card stock is from Paper Temptress (PopTones) and the yellow was embossed with an M-Bossabilities folder - Bricks!  I like the little bit of texture.  This is really quite simple - I just wanted it to be fun.  The "celebrate" text was printed in Microsoft Word with a border. Yes I went back to basics on this one!!!

So today, on the 24th birthday of my youngest son, I wish him all that life has to offer.  He has a college degree but that has not transpired into a "real" job, so he just completed classes to become a security guard, thus the policeman on his birthday card - it was the closest I could get!!


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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Blueberry Crumb Bars - Low Sugar

I am sure you  have noticed -I cannot seem to get enough blueberries over the past few months. Every time I go to the store they look and smell better and are bigger and brighter?  How is anyone supposed to resist?  Clearly I haven't!

So armed with a fresh supply of these juicy morsels I happily baked - and have a stack of things to try over the rest of the summer as long as the weather isn't too sweltering here in CA!

The prep was fun and easy!


adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker


3 cups flour
1/2 cup Truvia Baking Blend (or 1 c. sugar, Splenda or Truvia)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup cold, unsalted butter,cut into cubes
1 egg


4 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup Truvia Baking Blend  (or 1/2 c. sugar, Splenda or Truvia)
4 tsp. cornstarch
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease a 13x9" pan.

(The original directions called for using a pastry blender and feel free to do that. But I used a food processor and it came out perfectly crumbly!  So those are the directions I am using!)

In a food processor bowl (at least 9 cup capacity), add flour, Truvia Baking Blend, baking powder , salt and cold butter in cubes.  Quickly pulse the ingredients just until it seems blended and then add the egg and pulse a few more times.  If you overprocess, it will come together like a dough!

Press  half of the mixture (about 3-3 1/2 cups) into the baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining Truvia Baking Blend, cornstarch, and lemon juice.  Then fold in the blueberries and lemon zest and gently mix until the berries are coated.  Spread the blueberry mixture over the crust, distributing the juice over the filling too.  Crumble the remaining mixture over the top of the blueberry filling. (I sprinkled some mini cinnamon chips over all - purely optional).

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is light golden brown.  Cool before cutting into squares.


And the finished product was even better!!

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