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!

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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**

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! 


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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pumpkin Bread (Starbucks Copycat )

Happy Thanksgiving to All!  May your day be full of family, friends, and wonderful food! :)

Who doesn't LOVE the rich, moist pumpkin bread that calls to us from the bakery shelves at Starbucks this time of year.  I usually buy it once a year just because it is so good,.  But I may not need to do that anymore because this recipe is a great copycat.  It is moist and it is flavorful and that makes it oh so good!

Pumpkin Bread (Starbuck's Copycat!)

adapted from Something Swanky

4 eggs
1 c. organic cane sugar
1/2 c. organic light brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. canned organic pumpkin
3/4 c. vegetable oil (I used 1/2 c. applesauce and 1/4 c. oil)
1 1/2 c. flour
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. baking soda
1/2  t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Mix in the pumpkin and oil.

Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Gently fold into the wet ingredients using a rubber spatula.  Stop mixing once the batter is blended.  Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake 55-70 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.(start testing at 55 minutes).

Let cool in pan for at least 15 min and then cool on a wire rack.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Heavenly Hawaiian Bread - OMG!!!

I have to admit have been eyeing this recipe for a long time. I love the light sweetness of Hawaiian bread, rolls - you name it.  It is always so tender and fluffy and just plain wonderful - not to mention irresistible. 

I think I was almost afraid to try this recipe because I was afraid that my efforts would fall short of my expectations.  Oh why did I wait this l long?!?  This turned out fabulous and blew my expectations right out of the water.

This recipe makes 3 beautiful round loaves or 2 loaves and about a dozen large dinner rolls.  I can just imagine devoting this entire recipe to Thanksgiving dinner rolls.  It would be so perfect for a hungry crowd and definitely memorable.  YUM!!

Homemade Hawaiian Bread

adapted from Butter with a Side of Bread

6 cups flour (I used bread flour and it worked just fine) and 1/2-1 cup additional flour
3 c. pineapple juice
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. ginger or apple pie spice (I was out of ginger so chose the apple pie spice)
1 t. vanilla
2 pkg. Red Star platinum baking yeast
1 stick butter, melted

Beat eggs lightly, then add pineapple juice, sugar, spice, vanilla and melted butter.  Stir until combined.

Place 3 c. flour into a stand mixer (I love my Bosch for kneading bread) and add the egg mixture and mix until well combined.  Sprinkle in the yeast and mix well.  Add the other 3 c. flour and mix on low speed for about 2-3 minutes.  (**it was a rainy day when I made this, so I needed an extra 1/2 cup here to help the dough hold together. you may not need it - just go by the feel of your dough).  It was still a very soft dough.

Once kneaded, place the dough into a large greased bowl, cover with a clean cloth and let rise for an hour in a warm place.  I have a proof setting on my oven so I use that for all bread recipes - it works perfectly.

The dough after its first "rising"

Remove the risen dough from the bowl and knead in an additional 1/2 cup flour just until combined.  Divide the dough into thirds, shape into a ball and place each into a greased cake pan.  Cover with the cloth and let the dough rise for another hour.

Dough after kneading

Divided into thirds

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Brush with melted butter to give it a beautiful sheen and taste.

Perfectly baked - pre-butter glaze

After the butter glaze - is your mouth watering yet???

And the scrumptious pan of rolls!  I think I need another one......NOW!

You will want to make this again... and again... and again...!

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Happy Halloween and Sweet Sixteen! (a late share!)

This card was one of the most fun I have made in a very long time - and totally out of my comfort zone - as far as themes!!!  But this is what my oldest granddaughter loves, and with her birthday falling the day before Halloween, I have always tried to tie the two occasions together. I was stumped this year because I thought it was time to leave Halloween behind and just focus on her sweet sixteen birthday, but her Mom came to the rescue with this idea and it all fell together.

Here is the initial result using a file from SVG Cutting Files.  The cardstock
is a smooth glittered paper from American Crafts (both the black and silver glittered paper)
and I decorated the skull with a variety of gemstones. The hard part is knowing when to stop!

To add a feminine touch to the skull, a Prima flower from my stash
was accented with Distress inks to complement the card base.

                             The Happy Sweet 16 greeting is drawn in the SCAL software with the pen tool.
A label was drawn around that and then the whole thing was shadow cut. 
The pen tool makes it so easy to write whatever you want.

The final touch of the gemstone eyes was honestly so much fun and seemed to give this card and image so much character.  The best part is that she thought it was "super cool" and loved it. That makes every bit of work SO worth it!! 

Happy Sweet 16, Kendra!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Rocky Road Ice Cream - No Churn

Well it's election day across the country and no matter how you feel about where things are headed politically, it's always a great day for ice cream...right???

And if you are living in Southern California, it's even a better day for this frozen delight because Fall has decided to go into hiding for a few days as our temperatures soar into the 80s!  YEP - that's not a typo - low 80s today and high 80s tomorrow ON THE COAST!!  I am so NOT a fan of warm weather in November.  I want to put my socks and sweats on and get comfy.  Guess I have to wait a while for that.

So I will make myself feel a little better with a cup (or more) of this taste treat!  And since we will have warm weather for a while, be prepared for more delicious and easy ways to cool yourself off and feel nurtured all at the same time!

Rocky Road Ice Cream - No Churn

adapted from Oh Nuts

2 c. heavy cream, chilled
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c. miniature marshmallows
3/4 c. roasted almonds (used Trader Joe's roasted honey almonds)

Coarsely chop the roasted almonds (you don't have to use the honey almonds that I did, but I love the flavor and texture they added).  You want them sized so they are easy to eat - no large pieces!

At least several hours before making this recipe, place a medium mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer.  I usually leave them in overnight to get them icy cold and make the whipping process even easier.

In a separate bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and the unsweetened cocoa. Whisk well until blended and well combined.  You should have a shiny, smooth, rich chocolate mixture.  Add the mini marshmallows and chopped almonds (reserving a few of each for the top) and gently fold into the chocolate mixture.  You will be tempted to stop now and just dig in with a spoon, but if you can hang on until you have finished all of the steps, this ice cream is worth the wait.

Now pour the heavy cream into your chilled bowl and beat about 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form. Fold in the cocoa mixture until well blended and no streaks are showing.  Pour into a freezer storage container  and top with a few remaining mini marshmallows and chopped roasted almonds.

This is delicious served in a bowl, a cone, or right out of the container! (I won't tell)!

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

October Anniversary - five years already!

It is unbelievable to me that five years have passed since Scott and Megan were married and now they have a beautiful son who will be TWO years old in a few months.  And this post is a couple of weeks late because, once again, life got in the way.  Why does that happen ?  I have the best of intentions, but I get derailed a lot lately. So going to try to get back on track with the rest of my October cards and some new ice cream recipes. It is warm again here in southern CA, so my freezer is once again full of ice cream (even pumpkin pie ice cream and it is delicious!)  Just  a little teaser for you. Wish I could pass out samples - you would love it. But other flavors stay tuned!

Back to the anniversary card.  This is from Paulo's FREE collection online (Lacy Heart) and I love the detail in many of his files.  This seemed quite perfect for a five year anniversary.

    This is the basic design. The love bird stamp from VERVE
was embossed with silver. Used the MISTI for positioning.
 I love all of the detail in the heart.

This is the final result. I love it!  I added itty bitty pearls to add to the larger heart cutouts.
Five white rosebuds were added to honor the five years!
It is simple, but elegant.

If you have not checked out his files (link above) in a while - you need to do that!!

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fun Cards for October Birthday Ladies!

It has been a while since I have posted, but sometimes life just gets in the way!  I still have some yummy ice cream recipes left over from summer to share (it was in the 80s here as recently as last week!).  And it was cool enough this week that I did a little baking and have some delicious breads to share soon - but first I have these October cards.

These cards were so much fun to make - one for a dear friend and one for my daughter in law.

The first is using an image from Paulo.  He has not posted designs since 2012, I believe, but there are literally hundreds on his website and they are amazing - and FREE.  Some are simple and some are intricate  - but they are unique from the average SVG file you can find on the internet - and I love that.  They also cut beautifully - an added bonus.

So the first card:

This is the songbird doily design from Paulo's website

The second is a technique/style I have not tried before.  My inspiration (even though this type of card has been on the internet for years) was based on a similar card that I received..  So I grabbed a sheet of firm acetate, scored it, and went to work with the image on the outside and the smaller card with the sentiment on the attached inside card that was also embossed for interest.  It was such fun to make and I hope to come up with variations in the future.  I hope some of you will try it too - if you haven't already.

And for my daughter in law.,.

A stenciled design cut out with the dry embossed backing...

It's really difficult to photography the clear card, but it's to the left of the
embossed green cardstock...The colored card will go inside the clear card.

And here is the card assembled with all of the parts - isn't it fun?
The design is on the outside of the acetate and the card with the message is on the inside

The final result.  I cannot wait to try this again!

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

And the Cards Keep Coming!

This was a week of two quick and relatively simple cards and one that took a bit more time, but a comfort technique for me.  So with two birthday cards and one "thinking of you" card needed, this is what I came up with.

I love this design from Mamaw's Legacy (she no longer sells her files, but they are loved by those of us who followed her).  My neighbor's birthday is exactly one month after mine and he loves boating and the ocean, so this seemed perfect for him.  As I said, it's relatively simple, but was just right for him. 

His wife had some personal hurdles the past week so I wanted to let her know I was thinking about her.  This card was all about being bright and cheer.

The background paper has rows of glitter that makes it fun. The originally
white flowers were painted with Spectrum Noir Sparkle pens. (the color saturation is rich).
The little tag was cut out on the Silver Bullet then stamped with "Hi".
The colors made me happy.

And finally, a birthday card for a dear friend who is a real artist. I am always intimidated when I make something for her, so I returned to one of the first techniques I learned in Dutch paper crafting - iris folding. I love picking out the colors that will complement the design.

The iris folding piece ready for its place on the card.

This is the back side of iris folding.  The paper pattern is underneath,
so it's just a matter of  choosing the color, folding then, and taping them in place.

A side view to show the dimension.  The square is attached
with foam tape to let it stand out and be the focal point.
I wanted to incorporate some fall colors too, even though
the weather here is definitely not fall...yet!

Here is another view of the completed card.
There is holographic foil in the center.

I hope to do more card embroidery, paper pricking (ornare) and dry embossing on parchment especially for holiday cards. It can be so elegant. I want to work on my quilling too - have really let that go - so we will see what I can manage to produce. Lots of ideas in my head.  And I plan to work with more pen drawings on the Silver Bullet. I love how easily I can write and draw whatever I need, so look for new ideas from the Silver Bullet and the FoilMaster. I am so excited that all sorts of fun ideas are popping into my head.  I am going to push myself into new areas so hopefully I can inspire some of you to stretch your wings as well and join me! Pin It Now!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lemon Blueberry Bread

This is the time of year when lemons and blueberries are abundant, and they make such a great combo.  The lemon adds a brightness and zip to the sweet blueberries and together they are just so good.  Whenever I make anything combining the two flavors, I always receive rave reviews.
This recipe is no different!!

Lemon Blueberry Loaf

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 c. organic cane sugar
2 T. lemon zest
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. coconut oil
2 eggs, whisked
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. fresh blueberries

(the original recipe uses a lemon glaze on top of the cooked bread, but I opted not to add a glaze. I like it simpler.  A recipe for the glaze is on the link above under the recipe title).

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour a loaf pan and set aside. (you can also use cooking spray, but I like to use the real thing).

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt by whisking together gently.  In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar and the lemon zest and mix together with fingers or a spoon until the sugar and lemon zest are incorporated and fragrant ( heavenly citrus!).   Mix the lemon sugar into the flour mixture and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, coconut oil, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, combining slowly. Gently fold in the blueberries.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. 

Bake the loaf for 60-70 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and let cool for about 15 minutes.  Loosen the sides of the loaf with a butter knife and carefully remove the loaf from the pan.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

If you choose to add a glaze, you can prepare it now while the loaf is cooling and drizzle it over the loaf when it is cool.

This is so delicious.  I recommend that you keep it well wrapped in plastic wrap and out of sight or you will want to snack on it every time you pass by the kitchen.  It is so moist and THAT good!

This is one lemon loaf that is well populated with big fresh blueberries!
The two flavors together are the essence of summer.

This is so moist - almost like a pound cake but not as heavy.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Zucchini Banana Blueberry Muffins

This is a great time of year when zucchini and blueberries are plentiful and reasonably priced and what a great way to utilize these fresh flavors.  I don't think I would ever have put all three together so I am thrilled that someone else tried it first with success.  These are not only tasty, but they are healthy with no butter (just coconut oil) and very little sugar.  And moist?  They are incredibly moist and flavorful and you honestly forget that they are healthy because all you taste are the bananas and blueberries exploding with flavor with each bite.  These are great for breakfast but also as a midday snack.  And they freeze really well.

You will be SO glad you tried this recipe - I am!

Zucchini Banana Blueberry Muffins

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod


1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
3/4 t. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (will yield 1 cup)
1/4 c. organic cane sugar
1/4 c. organic light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/3 c. melted coconut oil, cooled
1 t. vanilla extract (I use Vanilla Bean Extract Crush from King Arthur Flour)\
1 c. shredded zucchini
1 c. fresh blueberries
Turbinado or Demera sugar for topping


Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin pan with paper liners.  Set aside.

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

In a large bowl, mix the mashed banana, cane sugar, brown sugar, egg, coconut oil, and vanilla.  Stir until well combined.  Add the flour mixture and fold gently until all of the flour is incorporated. Don't over mix. Place the shredded zucchini in a couple of paper towels and squeeze to remove most of the excess moisture.  Fold the zucchini into the batter and then fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, about 3/4 full.  Sprinkle the tops with turbinado or demera sugar (optional).  Bake 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean..  Cool muffins on a wire rack.

Blueberries and zucchini visibly throughout
with the subtle flavor of the banana in the batter.

Definitely good enough to eat - guilt free!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

And Even MORE Summer Cards.....

It has been quite a month for card making! And there are still more on my to do list.

Love the soft colors with the vibrant flower.  Dominic's files cut beautifully.

The first card  is another birthday card.  The file is from Crafty Vectors (Dominic) and those of you who know me know I love his files.  Each of his beautiful floral designs have options to make several different cards.  I am partial to the flower in frame design because it just looks so clean and finished.  And his files are so well made that I can always use the remaining pieces to create another card.  That's a win-win!

And the second card was for my daughter in law.  She has been a special education teacher , served the past two years as an assistant principal, and was just promoted to principal of a new school that she helped open two years ago.  This is such a well-deserved honor (albeit an increased work load) but she has worked hard for this and I am so happy for her.  The teachers and children are the real winners here.

You can see the detail of those tiny circle patterns here - so perfect!

So I wanted to make her a card to express how happy I am for her.  This was from a jpeg online that I used as a sort of stencil, cutting the design out of the card front and letting the contrasting color shine through.  Gold stars were popped over the larger stars to give it some dimension .  It's really a simple card, but I love how it came out.

Added some gold stars a little off-centered from the red star background. 
Gold dots are brads with the ends snipped off.
Congratulations is P-Touch labeler TZ tape in gold.

And here is one more birthday card - with a simple birthday wish. This was also a stencil image that I created with a shadow image, tied the flower with simple variegated floss, and added some clear dew drops to add a little interest.  The Happy Birthday was printed through SCAL and then cut out using a tag from the software library.  Remember, when you do a print and cut, be sure to hide the text layer while cutting out the shape or this will happen!!

This is what happens when you forget to "hide" the text layer -
the machine sees it as a font that needs to be cut! Totally user error!

This was a silly mistake, but one I seem to make repeatedly when I haven't done print and cut in a while.  And even though I didn't mean for it to happen, look at the detail of the cuts (before I stopped them!)  My Silver Bullet continues to delight me with its ability to do whatever I ask of it - even if it's ultimately the wrong thing!

And here is the end result when I pay attention to what I am doing!

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