Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Comforts of Winter: Cooking Class Week 2


Our second week of cooking class was an Indian Feast. Before we tasted anything, Tom Hudgens, our instructor, started grinding spices in a small grinder and the aroma was amazing.  By the time we sat down to eat I think everyone in class had worked up quite an appetite from the tantalizing aromas alone.

Kohlrabi, cilantro, celery root and butternut squash.

We peeled and diced and cubed a variety of vegetables that I don’t have much experience with: fennel, celery root, butternut squash (I love it but don’t fix it that often) and kohlrabi which I don’t think I’d ever had.  It is in the upper left of the photo, above.  The peeled flesh of the kohlrabi is something like broccoli stem though a bit milder and more sweet.  These were all combined in a Winter Vegetable Dal with Coconut Milk.

Green garlic

We also prepared a chicken curry dish with green (or immature) garlic and spinach.

Ingredients for two curry dishes

After getting all the ingredients ready, Tom started cooking.

Stacks of freshly fried papadums

Purchased papads or papadums fry up in seconds.  The crisp, lentil wafers were delicious and I found it hard to resist snacking on them as the rest of the meal was completed.

Indian Feast

A crisp papad at the top of the plate, and next moving clockwise: Chicken Curry with Green Garlic and Spinach, garnished with thin slices of red onion and lemon.  Basmati rice  combined with red quinoa is in the center of the plate with the Winter Vegetable Dal on the lower left with a dollop of  Yogurt Mustard Seed Raita.

Blood Orange Gelee

Blood Orange Gelee was the lovely finale.  It is a sophisticated and elegant combination of blood oranges with their juice and zest with whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods plus orange flower water in a softly-set gelatin. NOT the Jello we grew up with!  Here is the whole menu:


Be sure and visit Tom Hudgens site, Whole Hog Blog, where you can find all the recipes for these dishes and many more!

I have been having so much fun in cooking class that I prepared dinner for my parents using some of the dishes we’ve made in class: Bitter Green Salad with Roasted Beets, Feta Cheese and Pecans (instead of the walnuts as we used in the class), Basmati Rice with Red Quinoa, a Chicken Stew with Winter Vegetables (after a recipe in his cookbook), Orange and Red Onion Relish and the delicious Fresh Ginger Cake from week one plus Honey Vanilla Ice Cream (also an adaption of one of Tom’s recipes). No pictures though – I was too busy cooking!


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Art From The Heart

Felted Wool Chocolates

This and all of the following wonderful creations are Valentine projects that my sweetheart and I have crafted for each other. Rem came up with “Art From The Heart”  for a name to our ongoing project and it really is.  He got the idea 9 or 10 years ago after reading an article about a man (one of his coworkers at the time) who made clever Valentine projects for his wife.  Many were made from recycled materials and were created in a clever, whimsical style.

We decided to give it a try and a tradition was started.  Both of us have a lovely display on the wall by our bed, mine to him on his side and his to me on my side.  So here is a gallery of many of the items we have made for each other.  No instructions,  just some details on the various items.

You can click on the little pictures if you want to enlarge them.

Needle Felted Chocolates (above at top of post): This was fun to work on because I needed models to work from (of course).  I’m very pleased with the results.

Heart of the Tree: Rem picked up the piece of wood when we cut down our Christmas tree one year.  It is a slice from the bottom of the trunk and he sanded and polished it up, varnished it and added red glass pieces in the shape of a heart.

Music Box Heart

Music Box Heart: SCRAP in San Francisco is a wonderful nonprofit: a creative reuse center that receives materials from businesses that would otherwise go into landfill and makes them available to teachers, artists, organizations, etc.  I picked up this music box there and decoupaged and decorated it.

Recycled Spaceship

Recycled Spaceship: Parts from a plastic storage box, a milk jug and other bits and pieces came together with stickers and foil in this spaceship that Rem made.  The love story that accompanied this Valentine project made it even more special.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Home Is Where The Heart Is: I made this small  cardboard and paper house one year for Rem, my happy homemaker. The brown house is covered in a patchwork made from Trader Joe’s grocery bags.  The red heart on the front of the house, and the blue shingles on the roof were made from pieces of boxed products we use around the house (cereal, Kleenex, pasta, tea, etc.)

Puppy Love

Puppy Love: Rem soldered this little puppy bookmark from found parts for me but it was a bit heavy for a bookmark.  It looks wonderful on the wall with the other Valentine projects. I love the little heart nose.

B mine

B mine: A letter B from Michaels is what I started with for this one and then painted it blue and added swirls, charms and letters to spell out “mine”. The B stands for both “be” and “Boo”, one of Rem’s nicknames.

Red wire heart on copper

Heart Wired: This one from Rem just knocked my socks off.  Copper and aluminum with soldered hearts on the corners and a big fat heart in the center made from bundles of red wire.  Tough materials transformed into a sweet token of love. Awww.

“Things I Love” Altoids Tin Closed





















Things I Love: I saw versions of this project online and had lots of fun making it: a little book that fits inside an Altoids tin then accordioned out with decorated pages about some of the “things I love” about Rem.


Heart in the Sand

Heart in the Sand: Rem did a photo project last year: a photo a day, every day, for the whole year!  In keeping with this enterprise he went to the beach, drew in the sand and took a picture of it for my Valentine.

Love Book






Love Book:  This little book was one of the first projects that Rem made.  He used scavenged HVAC metal, complete with little charms and a copper heart on the back.

Morse Code Valentine

Detail of Morse Code Valentine

Morse Code Valentine: I wanted to make something for Rem that included Morse code as he is into HAM radio (and uses Morse code for that).  I punched dots and dashes out of foil and included a foil-embossed design from a rubber stamp.

Altar di Amore

Altar di Amore: More scavenged metal parts (a CD cover and a cake tin) wired together by Rem to create a love altar.  I added little trinkets including a few from Folk Art Gallery in San Rafael and a heart-shaped piece of coral from a friend.

Kinetic Hearts

Kinectic Heart Close-Up

Kinetic Hearts: This is the Art From The Heart for 2011 from Rem and it was another one that really wowed me.  It is like a kind of a mobile but instead of hanging from the ceiling, it hangs from a bracket that comes out from the wall.  A strand of red wire is strung with three thin copper hearts that have a hammered texture.  Fishing line swivels are interspersed with the hearts along the wire so the hearts turn slowly as they are moved by air currents.  The hearts seem to float in front of the wall.

Carved Tree Trunk

Love Note

Tiny Love Letter

Heart Engraved Tree Trunk: My creation for 2011 is this tree trunk with our initials “carved” into the wood (crafted from cardboard, paper mache, paper, string, ink, glue and paint). Hidden under a knot on the lower left is a secret space for a tiny love letter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at our creations.  Have you got your own “Art From The Heart”?  If so, please send me pictures so I can post them. If not, maybe these projects will inspire you to craft something special for someone you love.

Thanks for stopping by.  Your comments are welcomed and encouraged.


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The Comforts of Winter: Cooking Class Week 1

Fresh Ginger Cake with Meyer Lemon Cream

I have the good fortune of assisting with a cooking class. It is a 3-session series called “Creative Seasonal Cooking: The Comforts of Winter”.  The teacher of the class, Tom Hudgens, is a friend and colleague and is also the author of The Commonsense Kitchen cookbook and The Whole Hog Blog where you can find all the recipes  from the class.

One of my tasks is class photographer so feast your eyes on food from last weeks class and then take a look at Tom’s blog.

Dark red and gold beets

Winter Greens

The colorful seasonal menu is loaded with flavor and has inspired me to eat more winter salads this week.

Sliced Young Red Onions

Orange Red Onion Relish

The orange-red onion relish was the perfect addition to a chicken dinner this week and was pretty made with Cara Cara Oranges with their pink flesh.

Fresh Ginger Cake in the pan

The fresh ginger cake was topped with lemon curd folded with whipped cream but is delicious on it’s own.

Colorful Winter Dinner

Here is the whole menu:




Click here for the recipes.  Thanks for stopping by!

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Masterboard Valentine Tags

Masterboard Valentine Tags

Creating a masterboard is one way to make multiple card pieces relatively quickly. If you have a lot of sweethearts on your Valentine list you can make eight of these tags in a reasonably short time.  They will all be unique and easier to produce than eight separately crafted ones.

A masterboard is simply a piece of card stock that is first covered with your design (in this case, layers of rubber stamped images) before cutting into smaller pieces to use on your art work.  In the future, I’ll post other projects using masterboards.

The Winter 2011 Issue of Take Ten from Stampington & Company inspired this project in several ways. First I noticed decorated paper luggage tags by Cynthia Otto.  Then an article on masterboards with samples by Teresa Abajo and finally the cute cover art (brown paper packages tied up with string) by Vanessa Spencer.  I mixed them all together and I had my Valentine Tags!

As usual, it’s a good idea to read through all the supplies and directions and look at the pictures (click on photos for close-up view) before you get started on this project.


(each sheet of card stock makes eight tags)

1 sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inch page card stock in a light color such as pink or lavender (my sample in some photos is cream to best show the designs).

Large background rubber stamps (all-over patterns such as text, harlequin diamonds, musical notes, flowers, paisley, etc. – mine are from Stampin’ Up! and each stamp is about 4.5 x 5.75 inches each.

variety of different size and designs of rubber stamps such as swirls and hearts

variety of different color ink from lighter to darker in tone (such as pale pink on through deeper pink until you reach a deep rose red)

greeting rubber stamps if desired

scraps of card stock and decorated paper

heart punch (mine is about 1 5/8 inches)

half-inch circle or small flower punch

double-sided adhesive

paper cutter, scissors

hole punch (Either a standard office size , 1/4 inch, or an 1/8 inch will work fine)

wavy edge or other decorative scissors

cord, string or narrow ribbon

Optional: self-adhesive glitter dots and crystals

other embellishments and glue dots to adhere them as desired/needed


  1. Start by creating your masterboard. I prefer having my designs right side up so I decide which way my finished tag will be and stamp images with that in mind.  For example, I don’t want a bird to be flying upside down.
  2. Script layered over pale pink diamond pattern.

    Using a large background stamp, ink it up with one of your lighter- colored inks and stamp on the 8 1/2 x 11 inch card stock. Re-ink and stamp until you cover the page.  It’s o.k. if there are some gaps or overlaps and it can be at an angle. Be sure to go all the way to the edges since you will be cutting the paper into smaller pieces. You can repeat this step with another large background stamp and a different color as I did in my example.

  3. Choose a smaller stamp and medium color of ink and randomly stamp that design on the page.  Stamp more than once before re-inking to get another tint of the color.
  4. More layers have been stamped on the masterboard.

    With smaller stamps and deeper color ink, keep inking and stamping until you have a layered pattern you are pleased with.

  5. Cutting the masterboard page in half.

    Cut the paper in half at the 4.25 inch mark.

  6. 1 Masterboard = 8 tags

    Cut each half into 4 rectangles at the 2.75 inch mark so resulting pieces are 4.25 x 2.75  inches each.

  7. Snip off the corners to create the tag shape.

    With scissors cut off the top corners of each rectangle to create tag shape (see photo).  I cut the first one and use it as a pattern for each subsequent tag.

  8. Cut strips from decorative paper of about 3/4 to 1 inch wide and long enough to go down one side of a tag (or across the bottom of the tag).
  9. Cut each strip into two narrower strips using wavy-edged scissors.
  10. Adhere paper strip along one side or bottom of tag.

    Adhere a strip to each tag along one side or along bottom.

  11. Punch half inch circle or small flower from paper and adhere to the top of the top center of the tag.
  12. Punch a hole in circle or flower shape with hole punch.
  13. Thread baker’s string, narrow ribbon or cord through hole and tie in a knot.
  14. Punch heart shapes from decorative paper and adhere to tag.
  15. Put on the finishing touches.

    Add embellishments if desired.

  16. Stamp or write greeting on reverse of tag and give to your Valentine.

Here's a finished tag.

Beautiful tags made by a 13-year-old. Some haven't yet been embellished.

Masterboard Valentine Tags: ready and waiting for cupid-delivery.

Card stock, ink, flower punch and background stamps by Stampin’ Up!

Swirl Heart Open stamp by Rubber Stampede.

Postmark stamp by Inkadinkado.

Mini Key Heart stamp by Stampendous!

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Share the love

A little post about love and chocolate. I love hearts and as you may have guessed I especially love Valentines.  Today I spent the afternoon with my sister Kathleen and her little sister Ariel making Valentine Tags.  They’ve been matched for about three years through Big Brothers Big Sisters and hang out together most Sundays.  This is our third year making Valentine’s together.  Ariel is Kathleen’s second “Little”.  Her first is a wonderful woman with three young kids and a great husband.  I think Kathleen’s influence on her life had something to do with how well her first match has turned out.

So – back to our Valentine crafting.  We had a LOT of supplies so it was a good thing we had a big table.

We could have been watching the Super Bowl but we’re not fans. Maybe we should have been outside enjoying the balmy day but we had the windows open to enjoy the sunshine and breezes.   And if we’d been out we may have missed it when a friend and neighbor, Deborah, stopped by with chocolate lollipops for us!

Chocolate Valentine Lolllipops

Deborah was inspired by the Barefoot Contessa and her recipe for White Chocolate Lollipops with dried cherries and cashews.  Instead of the white chocolate Deb used microwavable candy melts in dark cocoa  from Michaels and a combination of conversation hearts and cinnamon hearts. Yum!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about romance, Hallmark cards and overpriced roses.  It can be about crafting with your sister. It can be a card for your teacher or the members of your swim team or choir.  It can be about chocolate lollipops for your neighbor.  You’ve still got time to make a batch of one or both.  Share the love.

Puppy Love - (Ariel's dog, Allie)

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Tri Shutter Card – another look!

Happy Birthday, Princess!

When you are friends with a princess, only the very best will do! I made this Tri Shutter card for a friend who may not be a princess by birth but is certainly one in spirit. Happy Belated Birthday, Princess!

For a closer look at the card, click on photo.

If any of you crafty card-makers make this card (or any of the other cards you’ve seen here), please send me a photo and I will post it! Send to

I used sheet music for some of the layers along with bird-themed rubber stamps, buttons, flowers, glitter stickers, adhesive crystals and Dianne dots.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sweet details.

Most stamps, ink, some adhesive and some paper:  Stampin’ Up!

Remaining paper and embellishments are  from my collection and could be from any of the following stores or sites: Paper Source, Scrapbook Territory, Joann, or  Michaels.


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