Thursday, August 27, 2015

An Ode to a Wonderful Friend

If we are lucky, there are times in our lives when we are blessed with unexpected angels.  Sometimes they take the form of humans; other times animals....but forever friends regardless.

Today is a day to pay tribute to one such animal -  my special Honey girl.

She was a rescue and came into my life at a time when my other cocker spaniel was dying of cancer, only I didn't  know it then. Four months later, my black cocker, Misty,  was gone and Honey helped ease the pain of that horrible loss.  Honey had led a difficult life. She had been on the streets for over a year, at best guess, and her stomach, skin and ears were a wreck when I got her.  I am not sure she ever had a really totally healthy day in her life, but that little girl had the fighting spirit of a warrior.  She never ever complained no matter what - through pills, blood work, trips to the vet,  different foods to try to ease her problems - she just kept wagging that little tail, gave kisses readily, and always jumped for treats.  She was the happiest little girl no matter how she felt - until the past month or so.

It was a GREAT seven years with her, albeit a bit of a roller coaster ride.  She was only alone with me for a few months when we added Roxy to the family.  Miss Roxy is a character to say the least.  She was 18 months when I got her, also a rescue and she is now almost 9. (somehow that just doesn't seem right because she still acts like a teenager!)  Where has the time gone?

Best friend, Roxy

Roxy and Honey became the very best of friends.  They have been inseparable over these past seven years and I have been so fortunate to have watched them bond.  Roxy was still a bit of a puppy when she came into the house and she taught Honey how to play - to pick up a toy and trot around the house. She showed Honey how to have fun.  They ate together, slept together, explored the yard together, and clearly got in a bit of trouble together, but not too much. - just enough to keep me laughing at the antics.  It has been an incredible bond.

My granddaughters with the girls many years ago.....wonderful memories...


Best buddies...

Inseparable friends... (under my computer desk - a favorite cuddle place)

The past couple of months have not been easy on Honey.  She was having increased trouble eating and breathing. She was coughing a lot.  Her adrenal system has been shutting down and today the dr. confirmed that her heart was working way too hard.  She has had a couple of mini strokes the past few weeks and every time she has bounced back, but it's been harder and harder - on her and on me. Oh that sounds so selfish.  But watching her struggle has not been easy.    A very special friend once told me that  "dogs are about fun. And when they can't have fun anymore, it's time to let go..."So with a heavy heart and a lot of tears, I released her to the angels today.

She had to fight every day of her life.  Nothing was ever easy for her  - not ever. But she loved with all of her heart and soul and she gave it so freely.  She taught me so much about life and living with challenges.  She set the bar for me.  She made me want to embrace life like she did and appreciate every single moment. She took nothing for granted and greeted every new day with all that she had. She was my shining star and always will be.

We should all be so lucky to know that kind of unconditional love, acceptance and appreciation.

I loved her with all of my heart and she will always  have a piece of it.  I pray she is scampering over the Rainbow Bridge, free from pain for the first time in her life and playing with all of the energy she always wanted to have and remembering how very much she was loved - and always will be.

Thank you Miss Honey for all that you gave me. I wish you everlasting happiness.  I am forever grateful.
 I love you.

And I miss you so.............  

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Heritage Ball Thank You

This is the last time.  Yes I have said it before but I am getting old"ER"....... and burned out..... at least with some things!  I have chaired a lot of fundraising events over the years and I love it because I have learned many of the tricks from many talented people over the years and organizing and cheering people on is easy for me.  But.....I am tired.  It takes a lot of time and energy to do a really good job and I am ready to back away. So my last one (so help me, I mean it this time) is now...tonight (Saturday!).  It is a fundraiser for one of the CA Missions which is a remarkable national historic landmark.  It is rare to have historical landmarks on this side of the country, but for whatever reason, it is challenging to raise funds for this 200 year old Mission.  Much of the existing architecture is original  and is just so amazing - historical, spiritual, and magical all in one.  The grounds are beautiful and they are opened up to all of us for the ball that is held outside in the gardens.  The venue is really breathtaking.  The powers that be have decided that this will indeed be the LAST Heritage ball - after a great 32 year run.    (I can remember attending with my parents as a young woman... it was magical even then and is full of wonderful memories...) That is a long time to hold an event and there are now a lot of other organizations and causes fighting for donor dollars from the same group of people. So it is time to move on, go out on a high, and create something new going forward.  So we all put a lot of effort into this black tie event to pull out all of the stops this year, including fireworks!  My fingers are crossed that all goes off as planned - or even better ! :)

So this year the colors were gold and green and the theme was an elegant summer garden. With the heat we have already experienced, we figured it was a good way to go. :)  (and as I write this, we are having an unprecedented heat wave and breaking records.  It will be over 90 in the heat of the day today so flowers will NOT be going on the tables until the last minutes.)  The good thing is that because the Mission is in a valley, once the sun sets, there will be a wonderful breeze through the area and everyone should be comfortable - eventually!

Over the years, when I have chaired an event, I have tried to make the committee a thank you card and mail it out the day of the event so they receive it the Monday after.  I just want everyone to know their help and support has been so appreciated and is not contingent on how well things go that night -  they helped it all come together and worked hard and that is all anyone can do.  We cannot control what happens that evening - we can only set the stage for success.

The print and cut background 

Print and cut flower with shadow layer...

I often do a cut file from the invitation, but this was a bit more challenging as it was a flowing arrangement of cascading flowers. So I ended up doing a print and cut of the background and of one single rose.  Both were backed in a solid color (the green of the theme) and then assembled. The rose is popped up on foam dots for a touch of dimension and interest.  I wanted it to look elegant and I think I achieved that, as much as possible.  Hopefully they will be delivered on Monday and the recipients will feel appreciated. They truly are....

The label on the back with the themed floral - a simple memento

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mixed Berry Buttermilk Cake - YUM!

This is a really delicious treat for a quick morning bite, a snack in the middle of the day or a
"bake ahead and freeze" treat to stretch out the deliciousness over time!  I have one piece left in my freezer that I am trying to forget I have.....  Oh wait!  I think I just finished it yesterday.  :(  Darn it all :(:(  It clearly is not only good - it's irresistible!

If you have an abundance of berries, this is definitely something worth trying while the cherries are still in season and oh so good!  And you could easily use more or less of whatever you have.and highlight your berry or cherry of choice!  Enjoy!

Mixed Berry Buttermilk Crumb Cake

adapted from How Sweet It Is

Cake mixture:
1 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 c. organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, beaten lightly
1 c. Bing cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 c. fresh blueberries
1/2 c. fresh chopped strawberries
2 Tbsp. flour

Topping mixture:
1/3 c. organic cane sugar
1/3 c. organic brown sugar (loosely packed)
1/4 tsp. salt
*1/2 c. (1 stick)  butter, melted
1 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour

*Or use 1 stick salted butter and omit the 1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper and spray lightly (I like the coconut oil spray).

In a small bowl, mix the sugars, salt and melted butter until smooth. Whisk well. Stir in the flour with a spoon until it is all moist and the mixture looks crumbly.  Set this mixture aside.

The crumb topping...

For the cake, mix the flour, sugar, soda and the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and blend on low speed until combined. Add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, beating each until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the mixer still running on low, add the vanilla extract, eggs, and buttermilk. Beat the batter on medium speed for 2 minutes - the mixture will be smooth, fluffy and thick!

In  medium bowl, toss the cherries, blueberries and strawberries with 2 tablespoons of flour (so they don't sink to the bottom).  With a spatula, gently fold the berries into the cake batter.

Look at all of those berries just waiting to be enjoyed!

Spread the batter into a greased square baking pan.  Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture evenly over the top of the batter. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center is set and firm.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove it and let it cool completely before cutting.

I wish you could smell how heavenly the aroma is fresh out of the oven...

This is delicious and freezes well.  I  wrapped leftover squares individually in plastic wrap and froze them and then thaw and /or reheat and taste fresh.

Love this!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

July Birthday Cards.....two for one!

I have had these done for weeks but somehow the time just got away from me. Such is life these days in the crazy making lane - too much to do and not enough time to do it.  I know - I think everyone can relate to that as I am hearing it everywhere.  It seems like things usually slow down a little in the summer, but for whatever reason, that isn't happening this summer!  I have never been busier!

So....... when it came time to make birthday cards for two special friends who share a birthday, is it a big surprise to admit to being late in delivering the cards? (in fact they are still here - shameful ....)  I hope "it's the thought that counts" will still apply even if they are pathetically tardy.  Hoping I can rationalize by saying I just wanted to extend the birthday celebration! :)

So....... this is a super easy and versatile file from Birds Cards  The card with the celebrate trio is the original file.  Instead of putting the detail in the paper behind the "celebrate" I made the cut out fun with the Brushos mix of Turquoise and Lemon on watercolor paper. I really like those two colors together.  Then I took the cut out of one of them, created a shadow layer, and made the second card with a butterfly embellishment file. Both were relatively simple, fun, full of happy colors, and have a little bling to add some sparkle to the birthday theme!

Butterfly is from Mamaw's Legacy, embellished with black pearls

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