Monthly Archives: January 2014

Paper Heart Wreath

Paper Heart Wreath

I love to decorate, at least a bit, for different holidays.  Rem and I both like to observe and celebrate things from the mundane to the fantastic. We used to have a seasonal box of stuff that we would put up in and around our apartment for various holidays and occasions. We didn’t always manage to get the Chinese Lanterns or shamrocks in place in time, so now we focus on just a few holidays and Valentine’s Day is one of my favorites.

I’m just a huge fan of hearts. Plump, curvy hearts make me happy.  So here is the first of two easy Valentine wreaths you can make.

Heart Wreath on door

I saw this on Pinterest (I think I’m going to start using “ISTOP” as an acronym for “I Saw This On Pinterest”), my go-to inspiration site.  The one I saw was on oval shape, but the one I made is round.  You may remember some heart-shaped ornaments I made using paper strips.  These hearts are similar…but different.

For this wreath you will need:

8 strips of double-sided patterned paper (or 16 strips of single-sided patterned paper), 2 inches x 11 inches

adhesive to stick the paper together (if you don’t have double-sided patterned paper) – I like Tombow mono adhesive tape runner

mini glue dots to form hearts and stick hearts to each other

hole punch

bakers twine

If you are using single-sided patterned paper, you need to glue the strips back-to-back to make 8 strips of double-sided patterned paper.  I used my Tombow tape runner but a glue stick would be fine.  You’ll want to let it dry for a few minutes before shaping the strips into hearts.  Glue all the way to the edges because when you start bending it, the backside will show if it isn’t really glued together well.

Strips of Paper

Fold each strip in half.  That creates the point at the bottom of the heart.

Folded Strips

On one end of a strip, put three mini glue dots.

Glue dots on paper

Curve the two ends of the strips inward so they meet, forming the curves at the top of the heart, and the heart cleavage. Press together to adhere.  I found it easiest to do this with the paper it’s edge on the table.

Continue to glue all the paper strips into heart shapes.

Hearts

Once you have all eight hearts, put two glue dots on the side of one heart and press it go another,  gluing the hearts together.

I initially tied a ribbon on either side of the top four hearts to hang this wreath, but the wreath started to look distorted. I decided to punch a hole in two different hearts (one to either side of the top, center heart) and string some bakers twine through the hole.

Heart Wreath on Table

Adorable?

IMG_0297

I think so!

Here are a few more Valentine decorations from past posts:

Have you seen this cute, Needle Felted Heart Garland I made? Or this Punched Heart Garland with Vintage Paper?  It is a very simple project.  The rich colors of these Crayon Wax Paper Hearts are beautiful in a window.  One of my all-time favorites are the Heart Strings, which I have up year round.

I’ll post another cute and easy Heart Wreath soon. Thanks for stopping by.

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Home Fries, Haggis & Hearts

Fruit & Pastry @ WOW Cafe

I had such a great weekend!

On Saturday I met an old friend for breakfast, someone I’ve known since we were in grade school.  She was in the area for a memorial service and told me that her aunt, who died at 96 after a battle with lung cancer, told her that no one should cry for her, that she’d had a good, long life. What a positive and powerful message to hear from someone. That is quite a span of years.

My friend and I go back many years which is nice.  We reconnected easily.  We met at the Worth Our Weight (or WOW) Cafe in Santa Rosa.

Worth Our Weight Mission

This is from the website:

WOW apprentices are young people from 16-24 who have faced major challenges in their lives, including foster care, difficulties with the law, homelessness, and significant family disruption. We provide tuition-free culinary and food service  training.

The fruit and pastries in the first photo were presented to us as we were seated, a really nice touch and they were all delicious, including the little pot of grapefruit marmalade.

Lisa had Eggs Florentine with spinach and cheese that came with home fries and she got an English muffin on the side.  The muffin was without any butter, but she shrugged it off.

Eggs Florentine

I chose a vegetable bowl and poached egg with a side of chicken apple sausage.  They vegetable assorted was great, including sweet potato, white potato, chard, kale, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and bell pepper.  It was served with a spicy/sweet tomato chutney on the side that was a perfect accompaniment to the dish.

Poached Egg Veggie Bowl

The cafe ran for five years with a ‘no-prices, pay what is fair’ policy but they had to end that because some people short-changed them.  Although service wasn’t top notch, we both felt good about supporting the program and tipped the young servers well.  They were learning, after all.

The check comes with a little bag of fresh-baked cookies, also delicious.  It is worth a visit.

Check with Cookies WOW Cafe

Driving home I stopped at Michaels for some fun Valentine supplies. That afternoon I sang at the bedside of a choir client, a woman I have been singing for nearly every Saturday for about 4 years, with another choir member. Her smile was warm and she mouthed the lyrics along with us as we sang.  Who can say who benefits the most from this interaction?

Rem and I had haggis for dinner that night, a first for both of us.  He’d seen a link on Reddit for ordering haggis, and since Saturday was Burns Night, celebrating Scottish poet, Robert Burns, when haggis is traditionally served, he ordered one, more for curiosity, I’m sure, than to honor Burns!  I was glad to learn it is no longer made in a sheep’s stomach, or at least not for export, they use sausage casing now.  It was better than I expected and now I can say I’ve had it.

I don’t have a picture of the haggis, suffice to say haggis is not really very photogenic.

Sunday was a day of crafting Valentine’s and I had the pleasure of doing it with a group of women that I’d gone to grade school with. We’ve only seen each other sporadically over the years and had become Facebook friends.  I suggested crafting together and the response was enthusiastic.

Our somewhat tongue-in-cheek name for the event was “Craft & Flash” as we are women of a certain age and hot flashes are ever-present for some of us.

Hearts

Four of us were up to our elbows in paper and ink, embossing powder and heart punches. We had lace doilies, glue sticks, little jewels, washi tape, baker’s twine, and lots of hearts. It was wonderful!

Valentine Crafting

The conversation and creativity flowed.  At the end of the afternoon, we had quite a gallery of beautiful, handmade Valentine’s.

Craft & Flash Valentine's

Craft & Flash Valentines

Victoria had picked up some treasures from Target $1 bins, like this cute owl that she featured on a card with some black lace patterned washi tape and a silver embossed greeting.

Owl Card

Clare worked steadily and managed to create 10 cards, including this one with red lace washi tape, a handful of hearts and a sweet little tag tied with baker’s twine.

Clare's Hearts

We had three sweet dogs keeping us company, including Shorty, Victoria’s rescue pup that she’s had since Christmas Eve.

Shorty

What a cutie, right?

More Craft & Flash Valentine's

Phoenicia made two banners, including a funny one for her daughter with old photos from a magazine.

Mystery Man

and more

She also made a delicious Thai curry chicken vegetable soup (maybe she’ll share the recipe).  We feasted on “Ham and Eggs” – stuffed eggs garnished with bacon, pigs-in-a-blanket, apple slices, grapes, cheese and bread.

My busy weekend was full of friends, laughter, reminiscing, good food, singing, crafting and love.  It was easy writing something for my Gratitude Jar.

Thank you for coming by.

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New Valentine’s Day Cards

A dozen hearts

I was busy at my craft desk this weekend making a bunch of Valentine’s. I really love making Valentine’s and, like last year, I’m not just doing one design over and over.

On Pinterest (of course), I saw some cute card that I wanted to CASE (Copy and Selectively Edit or Copy and Steal Everything or the PC variation Copy and Share Everything).

Before I started my first card, I punched a slew of 1.25 inch squares of paper and hearts with all three sizes of heart punches I have.  Most of the cards bases are 140 lb. cold press water color paper that I bought in a pad of 9 x 12 sheets.  So I cut a batch of cards at a time, trimming each sheet to 8.5 x 11 before cutting it in half and scoring it for finished cards that measure 4.25 x 5.5.

diagonal blocks

This card was inspired by this one.  My square punch is larger and I don’t have the beautiful “LOVE” stamp, but I’m happy with it.

Here is another variation on that idea.

Landscape Diagonal Squares

Here is a simple patchwork of squares.

Patchwork Valentine

This is another pretty card using squares and hearts.  I loved how the little scalloped squares look and treated myself to a scalloped square punch.

6 Scalloped Squares & Hearts

These bird cards were inspired by Button Bird Art from Button Bird Designs.

Purty Burdy

I’ve made multiples of each card.  Not enough that I’m tired of each design and with variations in the paper, embellishments and greetings, they’re all unique.  I especially like these birds, so I made a whole flock.

Flock of Paper Birdies

Turquoise Heart Bird

Sunshine Heart Bird

I have lots of beautiful paper.  This card shows off a piece of it.

Turned Back Corner

I think I’ll try a variation with a little heart under that turned-up corner.

Some cute stamps of vintage items are featured on these cards.

Typewriter Love

Typewriter Card

gramaphone

Full of Love

jar of hugs and kisses

Loads of Love

I also love these two bicycle cards but I don’t have a bicycle stamp.  Yet.

I’m really happy with the color scheme I’m using this year: red, black, white and turquoise.  I’m using silver ink and silver embossing powder with a heat gun for some of the greetings.  It’s a nice, finishing touch.

dotted ribbon scalloped squares

After creating the are for the front of the card, I always stamp and sign the back and stamp a greeting inside the card too.

Made with love

Side note: I made it through my dental appointment today and though I feel pretty tired and a bit tender, I’m not too sore.  I’ll enjoy my busy weekend with friends all the more now that is behind me!

Love & hugs

It is very satisfying seeing the finished cards all crowded together.

Lots o' Cards

I’m off to a great start for my Valentine Production of 2014!

Thank you for your visit.

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Minestrone: A Pot of Comfort

I’m going to share a recipe for Minestrone (my dad’s recipe) but I don’t have any pictures of the ingredients or even a finished bowl.  It is still simmering on the stove and I just didn’t bother to slow down to take any photos. When it’s done, I’ll put some in the freezer and I’ll still be eating it for lunch all week.

But I do have some nice pictures to share because Rem and I took a lovely stroll this afternoon around the campus of Dominican University here in San Rafael and in the unseasonably warm weather we’re enjoying, (high 60’s, low 70’s), things are just starting to bloom.

Magnolia

Why, you may ask, are you simmering soup (and cooking beef in the slow cooker and baking muffins) when the weather is so mild? It is a reasonable question and one I’ve been thinking about this weekend.

After borrowing my mom’s dog, Molly, every Saturday morning and walking with my sister Kathleen and her dog, Ruby, I usually fix lunch and eat it with my mom.  We both enjoy the visit and she likes a break from cooking for one.  I open the door of the fridge to see what I might find and usually put together a salad or something quick and easy, maybe chicken quesadillas.   This weekend I found some leftover kidney beans, and saw all the veggies used in minestrone.  The recipe calls for bacon but turkey ham was a good substitute.  Even on a spring-like day, it was delicious and it reminded me of my dad.

Magnolia Tree against blue sky

His recipe makes a giant pot – or as it says up at the top “for a crowd – makes 4 gallons!” By the time you add the macaroni, the liquid in the pot all but disappears.  If you add a little more water or broth next time you heat it up, you can keep that pot going for awhile!

Anyway, I put that soup together pretty quickly and didn’t let it simmer “for an hour or two,” but the familiar flavor was still there. It tasted pretty much like the minestrone I grew up with.

Mother and Child

Maybe I just need a little extra tenderness for myself this week and baking muffins and simmering soup is one way I know how to provide it.  I’m having some dental work midweek that I’m not looking forward to.  I really dislike going to the dentist and this is a long appointment (I’m getting a bridge: essentially it is like the prep work for two crowns) with another appointment in two weeks to finish the procedure.

Bougainvillea

A nice bowl of minestrone, thick with vegetables, macaroni and beans will be soft, nutritious, and easy for me to eat.  It will also make my lunch prep a cinch.

Pink Flowers

My pot tonight isn’t quite a half recipe.  It calls for a can of kidney beans and a can of garbanzo beans.  I had cannellini (white kidney) beans and no garbanzos.  I also just don’t have room in the pot for more broth.  I’m going to share a half recipe here because it’s still pretty generous, but by all means double it if you are cooking for a big crowd!

Camellia

Minestrone

Slightly adapted from David Faw

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. bacon ends

3 quarts beef broth – dad used bouillon cubes or “Better Than Bouillon”

1 large onion

4 stalks celery

1 tablespoon flour

4 carrots

1/2 head green cabbage

1 can kidney beans

1 can garbanzo beans

1/2 of a small can (6 oz. size) tomato paste

1.5 cups macaroni

dry minced parsley (I don’t have any and didn’t miss it)

season with salt and garlic powder (I didn’t find it needed additional salt with the bacon, and I forgot about the garlic powder)

Directions:

Cut up bacon pieces (I bought thick sliced bacon and it worked beautifully – my dad used to get bacon ends and pieces and this was a great use for them) into small bits. Brown the bacon over medium heat until fairly browned.  Drain the bacon on a plate lined with paper towel and pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat.

Chop the onions and celery and saute in bacon fat on medium heat.  Sprinkle flour over onions and celery and cook for a minute or two, this will absorb fat and thicken the finished soup – like it needs to be any thicker!

Peel the carrots and slice them into thick coins. Chop the cabbage into “soup” size pieces.  Add the carrots, cabbage, beans, broth and tomato paste to the pot.  If you want, you can put the tomato paste and some of the broth into a jar and shake it well to thin the paste and blend it more quickly into the soup.  Bring it to a boil  and then turn the heat down and let it simmer for an hour or two.

Add the macaroni 10 to 15 minutes before serving so it has time to cook.  Stir and watch the soup so the macaroni doesn’t stick and burn.

To stretch, add additional broth and tomato paste.

Forsythia

Once I get through my appointment on Wednesday, I’ve got two nice things on the weekend to look forward to: breakfast with an old friend on Saturday and making Valentines with three old friends on Sunday.

Wrought Iron Gate

Gate Shadow

Speaking of Valentines…I’ve been very busy making a bunch and will be sharing pictures soon.

Plum Blossoms

Thank you for coming on by.

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Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffin

Ever since I wrote my 3rd Anniversary blog post the other night and mentioned how I didn’t write about making 2 Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins, I’ve been thinking about pumpkin muffins.  I’m so suggestible!

Sitting in bed this morning with my laptop, I browsed the Smitten Kitchen site and sure enough, she has a recipe for Pumpkin Muffins.  In my minds eye, I could picture the can of solid-pack pumpkin I was fairly certain we bought the other day and I was ready to bake.  But when I checked (I asked Rem, because he is planning to make pie one of these days) I learned it was pumpkin pie filling.  Drat!

Luckily, I’ve had a perfectly good Delicata Squash on the counter for some weeks and I knew it would be just fine in place of the pumpkin puree.  In fact, Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen suggests making the muffins with cooked sweet potato, another good option but I didn’t have any sweet potato.

I poked some holes in the squash with the tip of a knife and microwaved it for 10 minutes while I gathered the other ingredients. When it was cooked, I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and then scooped out the cooked flesh.  The recipes calls for 1 to 1 1/3 cups of pumpkin and I had a generous cup.

Ingredients Pumpkin Muffins

No, it is not Two Ingredient Muffins.  It is so much better than that.

Pumpkin (or Delicata Squash or Sweet Potato) Muffins (makes 12 average-size muffins)
Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Muffin Papers

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole what flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of allspice

(or use 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice)

1 to 1 1/3 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)  or same amount of cooked and mashed Delicata or Butternut squash or sweet potato – mine were made with 1 generous cup of cooked, mashed Delicata squash

1/3 cup vegetable or another neutral cooking oil (I used what I have which is olive oil and the muffins were delicious)

2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

Topping:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake papers in 12 standard-sized muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a larger bowl, whisk together pumpkin (or squash or sweet potato), oil, eggs and sugar. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined.

Fill muffin cups each about 3/4 full.

Muffin Batter

Stir together sugar and cinnamon for topping and sprinkle over each muffin.

Sprinkling Sugar & Cinnamon

Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick inserted into a muffin comes out free of batter, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Muffins on a rack

The sugar and cinnamon topping makes a nice little crunch when you bite into a fresh, warm muffin.

Fresh Pumpkin Muffins

They’re very good plain and delicious with butter.

Muffin in halves

Rem and I each ate two.

Muffin Papers

Thank you for your visit.

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Three Years of Blogging

As my third anniversary of blogging approached, I’ve been having a nostalgic meander through old posts.  I’m very pleased to report that I’m still happy with what I’ve published.

This blog, which I started after a big nudge from my friend Carson, continues to be both a creative and emotional outlet for me.  It is a way to share not only recipes for food and crafts but to write about the things that make me feel.

Happy Me

One of the things I feel when I write and post here is connected.  Sure, I’d love it if I got more comments, especially from some of you folks far away from California. Aside to Sam: thanks for all the great support from Australia: you’re certainly holding up your end of things, and a shout-out to one of my newest subscribers who is from Trinidad and Tobago.  But I don’t need to hear from all of you.  I can look at my stats to see where my readers are.

When I write, I have friends in mind and some readers that, though we’ve never met, I feel I’ve gotten to know from their own blogs and from their comments. So I feel connected to you when I hit send.  I’m just thrilled more than I can say that YOU, my readers, are all over the world! This year I had visitors from 165 countries!

Box of Dolls

The most comments I received in the past year were for my post about the delicious Chocolate Nutella Fudge and Truffles.  Have you tried this recipe out yet?

Scooping Truffle

Sometimes I feel frustrated that something didn’t work as planned.  Or annoyed at myself for creating big messes and not cleaning up after myself so that when I want to craft I have no place to do it.

Oops

I’ve shared some of the failures and some of the creative detritus.  There are other posts that never made it to publication.

For example, I went without shampooing my hair for 9 months.  A post was planned.  I kept thinking about pros and cons of the “No ‘Poo” method I was using (baking soda to wash, apple cider vinegar to condition).  I did wash my hair, I just didn’t use shampoo to do it.  Sometimes I loved how my hair looked.  Other times I didn’t.  I gave it up, returned to shampoo (although I don’t use the same bargain brand I’d been using) and never wrote about the experience.

I tried so called “Two Ingredient Muffins” which are a combination of a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin.  Have you seen how many ingredients there are in a box of cake mix?  I thought I would make a quick “from scratch” pumpkin muffin to compare and contrast, but didn’t get around to that either.  I can’t say that I recommend the Two Ingredient Muffins.  But here’s a picture and by all means, give them a try if you want.

Cake Mix & Can O' Pumpkin

Oh, yeah.  I thought if you started with cake mix, let’s just be honest and call them cupcakes  So I piped some buttercream on top.  I still don’t think they were very good.

Another recipe that hasn’t made it to print on this site is for Kale Chips.  I’ve made them twice but haven’t achieved what I’m seeking.  It may still work out some day, but I don’t whip them up every weekend.

There are crafts that I’ve made when I haven’t taken the time to get photos (or it was night, and with lousy lighting I got lousy pictures) or crafts that I have taken pictures of but haven’t written a post…yet.  Did I ever tell you how to make a needle felted heart pin?   I don’t think so.  Maybe this year.

This has been a place where I could write about feeling sad and helpless and heartbroken when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and after fighting for a year, when he died.

Mom and Dad's hands

Twenty months later, seeing this picture of his and my moms hands clasped together is still enough to bring tears to my eyes and an ache in my chest.  I’m grateful for the love and support that I’ve received from you, through this channel.

I published 122 posts in 2013 for a grand total, over the three years, of 350 with this very post. In 2013 I had 89,000 views.  To put that another way, I had the equivalent to four days of visitors to the Louvre Museum in Paris, one of the world’s largest museums, view MY blog.  How cool is that?

Although I started my Art Journal before 2013, I did my first blog post about Art Journaling in the past year.  It has been and continues to be a wonderful and creative outlet for me.

Art Journal page of Hearts

In fact, after two years of doing 30 Days of Creativity (30DOC) for the month of June (something creative every day for the month), and deciding I wouldn’t do it again (to save my sanity),  I changed my mind from skipping it entirely to doing 30 Art Journal entries in the month and posting every few days.

I shared what I ate for a week.  What I ate for a week when I was eating MUCH better than I am these days, thank you very much.

What I ate

Sigh.  I need to be eating like that again.

In the meantime, I’m thinking of Valentine cards I’ll be making and sharing with you. I decided to join a Handmade Valentine Swap at Pine & Plum.  Remember that friend who urged me to blog?  Check out her blog and maybe even join her Valentine Swap.

love

I’d like to do a few Valentine clothespin dolls.  Maybe I’ll make another needle felted heart pin and blog about it!

Thank you all.  I’m having a grand time.

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Valentine Time

It is 1/14/14, and Valentine’s Day is 1 month away. I’ve been itching to start crafting Valentine cards.

Washi Banner Valentine

As usual, I look at Pinterest for inspiration.  A cute little Valentine plaque inspired this card.

black bow Valentine

I decided to go with a color palette for all (or most) of my Valentines: black, white, red and turquoise accents.  I’m using washi tape and lots of great paper from various collage projects.  This card with the black polka-dot bow is modeled on this one. The photo doesn’t show it very well, but there is a little dry-embossed heart to the right of the word “love.”  I used this technique last year.

When I was recently at Target, I scanned their dollar bins for Valentine-related goodies.  I found glossy red scalloped cards sold in sets of eight with their envelopes. One dollar a pack!

Cards and rolls of ribbon

This is my first card using the scalloped card for a base:

Doily Card

Here is the card that inspired this design.

There are lots and lots of ideas and spring boards to generate other creative things and I’ve got loads of beautiful supplies.  Plenty more cards to come!

Thanks for stopping by.

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