Just a Reminder

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Here is a recent project from Craft Gym at Once Around in Mill Valley.

It was only last week that I realized the Craft of the Week page has directions for the crafts! So even if I miss one, I can still go to their site and get directions.  The directions are posted 1 week after they’re offered in Craft Gym.  This one took awhile to download, but others have been really fast.

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Rem is a little bemused with these two stitched decorations.  I think it reminds him of a “Home Sweet Home” needlepoint. I haven’t figured out where I’m going to hang them up, but I think it’s good to be reminded that we’re all loved.

I didn’t finish them in class.  I decided to go on YouTube to get some tips on stitches.  The satin stitch used on the heart and leaves has other stitches underneath to add some thickness to the shapes, and I used a chain stitch on the small hoop heart.  I don’t know that I want to start any large needlepoint or embroidery projects, but I found the act of pushing the threaded needle in and out of the fabric to be very soothing and relaxing.

The embroidery hoops are fairly inexpensive and I’m going to use them as the frames when I hang them up.

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Thank you for your visit.

Coming soon: cobalt and magenta Valentine’s.

 

 

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Castle Card

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Along with making Valentine’s last week, I had a birthday card to make.  Not just any birthday card either, but a birthday card for a Princess.  What does every Princess need? A castle! So I made a castle-shaped card.

Although I saw several different castle cards on Pinterest, I didn’t find one that was fitting my mental picture, so I just sketched out what I wanted with a pencil, and starting cutting it out with scissors and an Exacto knife.

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This shows it unfolded all the way, which shows both the front of the card with the big medallion (sticker) on the front door, but also the birthday greeting on the inside

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The flip side includes a strip of vellum on the far left  (it added stability to the tall tower).  When the card is folded, the doors open to reveal “Welcome!”

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It was fun using little scraps of paper for the turrets and rooftops, and than using different pens to add even more details.  Sparkly glitter tape is perfect for a banner on either side of the entrance.

To go with the Castle Card, I made a little garland of needle-felted wool hearts in ombre shades of blue.

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A few years ago, this is the  card I made for this friend:
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Thank you for taking time to stop by.

 

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Bad Day/Good Cookies

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Tuesday, January 20th, was the first day of the spring semester at College of Marin, where I work.  It is usually a very busy, stressful time with classes getting changed, students getting lost, and a good amount of panic, misunderstanding and poor communication.  By Friday, all I wanted to do was eat peanut butter and chocolate. For dinner.

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I know I ate something more sensible than that, though I don’t remember now what it was.  What I do remember is the cookies I baked after dinner. I’d enjoyed them at my friend Maria’s house on the Monday Martin Luther King holiday when we were crafting Valentine’s with her daughters and remembered their rich, crumbly peanut buttery goodness, loaded with chocolate chips.  Happily, Maria had the recipe on her phone and sent it promptly.

Maybe it’s just me, but I found it a little strange that Maria’s recipe came from King Arthur Flour and it is a no-flour recipe. It doesn’t matter though, because this recipe makes a wonderful cookie and I certainly didn’t miss the flour.

No-Flour Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

From King Arthur Flour (and Maria)

Ingredients:

1 cup smooth peanut butter (I didn’t have enough smooth peanut butter so used part creamy and part crunchy and they were delicious)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips (when I made them, I used a generous hand with the chocolate chips and felt it was a little too much chocolate for the peanut butter, so next time I’ll stick with the recipe as written)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine the peanut butter, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl and beat together with a mixer at medium speed, until well-blended.

Add the egg and vanilla, and blend on low-medium speed until incorporated.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop dough by rounded tablespoons (use a tablespoon cookie scoop if you have one – I don’t and just used a soup spoon), making them about the size of a walnut.

NOTE: I used natural peanut butter which the King Arthur site warned against as it makes a more dry, crumbly cookie.  The dough was very crumbly but I could scoop it with a spoon, gathering the crumbly dough and roll it in my hands to make balls.

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Press the top of the dough to flatten just slightly.  I forgot to take a picture until they were already in the oven but I didn’t press them down much.

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Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the pan. The tops should be slightly crinkled. Pull them out before they begin to brown on the edges.

Yield: 20 cookies.

Less than a minute until the cookies are done.!

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I know that eating cookies isn’t the answer to stressful situations. I was also walking my 10,000 steps every day and I’m not going to get worked up about baking a batch of 20 or so cookies.

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Thanks for your visit. Here’s to good cookies AND good days.

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Little Paper Houses

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When it comes down to it, I’m a big homebody.  I enjoy the warmth and simple pleasures of home.  I haven’t traveled that much but loved it when I did, but I also am very happy to come home. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to these sweet Little Paper Houses, and my recent Art Journal: Home page.

I made these for my mom for Christmas.  I know it’s it’s a little late but these are too cute not to share. They have battery operated votive lights inside so they are really house-shaped Luminaries.

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I saw them on Cathe Holden’s fabulous site Just Something I Made. She has several variations, but these ones with vintage-style paper and button embellishments were what caught my eye.

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I enjoyed changing things up a little bit by using different paper for the walls and roofs, cutting different windows and doors and using different embellishments.

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I found another site (Little Glitter Houses) that had a pattern for a steeple.  The first one I made for a friend was a little bit too large in scale for the rest of the building.  I also cut the slot for the roof a bit too wide so the steeple was a little wobbly.  Luckily it was only made of paper so it wouldn’t have hurt anyone in the case of an earthquake.

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I scaled it down a little and my second church worked out better.  I still think there’s room for improvement but for now I’m finished with paper house construction.

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Little clips on the roof of each house come off to give access to the votive light.  I included embellishments on the back of the buildings as well.

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My initial trial didn’t work out because I made the mistake of using double-sided paper.  Unfortunately, it hadn’t occurred to me that when you put a light inside, both sides of the paper would show through.  But I’m very happy with these completed Little Paper Houses.  I’m also content to be at home, crafting and writing blog posts about it.

Thank you for coming over to see my post.

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Valentine Craft-O-Rama

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Yes, folks, 2015 Valentine Production was in full swing today and we had all the makings of an excellent crafty day. Craft supplies were abundant and the table was spilling over with paper, paper punches, rubber stamps, ink, adhesive, embellishments, scissors, embossing powder, ribbon and washi tape.

It was the first time for me to craft with Maria and her daughters Margaret and Elizabeth.

Here is Margaret, already an expert with the bone folder, scoring hearts to fold and staple for a Fluttering Hearts Valentine.  We also made Paper-Strip-Heart Valentines.

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When she wasn’t using the heat tool to emboss greetings, Elizabeth was using the microwave for a Brownie-in-a-Mug for each of us.

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As far as I’m concerned, chocolate is one of the important supplies for a great day of crafting.

A scoop of local Three Twins vanilla ice cream was the perfect topping for the brownies.

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Maria, who had already baked a batch of cookies and had pot roast in the slow cooker by the time I arrived at 10 am, worked to keep the paper and other supplies from completing taking over the table, put out a platter of sandwich makings and created a fabulous Valentine garland from recycled materials, craft paper, bakers twine and double-sided tape, but I’m afraid yours truly didn’t get any good pictures of it.  All that and she also made some Valentine’s.

Garland supplies included packaging from a box of cereal, a box of tissues, some old calendar pages, and a few other items.

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The lighting was challenging – it was much cuter and more colorful than it looks in this photo.

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Some of the finished creations.

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We decorated envelopes too.

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We even had the assistance (or at least the company) of Flora the kitty.  Pip Squeak the Guinea Pig seemed neutral about the whole operation.  Kitty #2, Fauna, made a very brief appearance. She wasn’t interested in any level of participation.

The Roomba cleaned up the floor after we were done.  A good time was had by all (except maybe Fauna).

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Thanks for checking out my blog today!

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Foggy Sunday Drive

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It was a foggy today, in the middle of a three-day weekend, and perfect for a Sunday drive.  I went to the Farmer’s Market and had a walk before we set out, heading for the small town of Graton in west Sonoma County.  It is located between Sebastopol and Occidental.

First stop: Willow Wood Market Cafe.  A friend recommended Willow Wood a few years ago and we had good memories from our first visit. We put our name down for a table then took a look at a few of the sculptures at Graton Gallery, a few doors down.

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Once seated at Willow Wood, it wasn’t hard for me to decide what I was going to have. One of their specialties is polenta.  It shows up on the breakfast menu with butter and maple syrup (yum).  It was even more enticing on the lunch menu with sauteed spinach and coppa, cambazola toast (a creamy blue cheese that is like blend of brie and Gorgonzola), the polenta, roasted tomato and (not very) soft boiled egg.

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I ordered that and went on to say “I’d like some whipped cream” when what I meant was hot chocolate with whipped cream!  It was served in a big bowl.

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After our late breakfast, we strolled around Mr. Ryder Antiques, a shop with a nice variety of art, vintage items and antiques from several different dealers.  It is where we found the star for our Christmas tree a few ago and the beautiful old book that became my first Art Journal.

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This time, the only item I bought was a card of old mother-of-pearl buttons.

To support my renewed efforts to get 10,000 steps in every day, Rem agreed to a stroll on the nearby West County Regional Trail.

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We saw other walkers including several with dogs, a barking beagle in a backyard adjacent to the trail, a guy on a skateboard, a number of people on bikes, a squirrel,  a robin and a woodpecker.

And an Old Crow (bottle) in a tree.

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Next we drove through some pretty scenery and on to Occidental.  We searched unsuccessfully for a geocache, but found this group of turkey vultures.

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In town: more browsing through shops.  Although I saw a variety of beautiful objects, I wasn’t tempted to buy anything to take home.  This striking mural is painted on the side of a building.

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If you’ve ever driven through the Sebastopol area, you’ve probably enjoyed some of the fun and funky metal sculptures made by artists Patrick Amiot and Brigette Laurent.  We saw several of their pieces in Occidental, including this guy on top of a downtown trash bin.

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I surpassed my 10,000 steps* for the day as we walked around Occidental, past several of the Italian restaurants known for their family style dining and extensive menus; the Union Hotel and Negri’s.

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Our final stop before heading home was the Wild Flour Bread in Freestone.  They’d been closed for their Winter Break from December 30 to January 15.  I’m glad they were open today, because their bread is really delicious.  We got some biscotti for the drive home, Herb Goat-Cheese Flat Bread to eat with soup for dinner, and a loaf of Egyptian (Pear, Fig, Candied Ginger) to start the day tomorrow.  They have a wood-fired brick oven and offer generous samples of their goodies so you can try before you buy.

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Thank you for your visit.

* 7-day step total: 74,466

 

 

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Fourth Anniversary Blog Post!

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Today is my 4th Blog Anniversary.  Wow!  I’m still writing posts and you’re still reading them.  Thank you!

I haven’t fit in as many blog posts as I would have liked, 69 since last anniversary, but it’s been a good year. This Coffee Sundae with Peanut Caramel sauce was delicious.  I made it last year while we are at Sea Ranch.  I need to make it again.

WordPress sends out stats every year and this year my annual report said that Madison Square Garden seats 20,000 people.  So my 68,000 views in the past year was more than three sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden!  This post makes my 415th ever.

A warm word of greeting to my international readers with people from 168 countries having a look at my blog in the past year.  Of course that interesting statistical spike of readership in Bahrain can be explained by my niece, Caitlin, living and working there for four months. When she travels to Japan in the spring, I may see a similar jump in numbers.

Speaking of jumps, 2014 was the year Rem and I jumped out of an airplane.

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Yup.  Take a close look at my hand and I think you will see I am truly white-knuckled with fear.  Fear and adrenaline and goggles that slipped up and mooshed my eyes closed.  But hey, I did it and I survived.

We’re talking about a mellower outing for my birthday in March: zip-lining!

Looking back through the years blog posts I’m proud of the crafting I’ve done. I enjoy looking back at projects like my Gratitude Jar, lots of Art Journaling, these cute Birdhouse Cards, and always Valentine’s cards and crafts.

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As was the case last year, there are posts that didn’t get written and crafts that didn’t get made.  I purchased felt to make an Autumn Leaf Garland similar to this Shamrock Garland.  The felt is in a drawer.

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I’ve been making and drinking homemade kefir and kefir smoothies for a few months.  But just when I think I kind of know what I’m doing, the kefir acts a little weird and I decide to wait before I write about it.

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Crafts have been made that don’t get shared because it takes longer to stop and take pictures.  Or sometimes I get pictures but choose to spend just a few more minutes crafting and the blog doesn’t get written.

Another thing I’m spending time on is walking and hiking.  In 2014 I got my Fitbit. I’ve recently earned my “Italy Badge” for walking the distance equal to the length of Italy.   After a holiday (and healing toe) break from physical activity, I’m proud to say this week I’ve managed to get 10,000 steps in every day.  It hasn’t been easy with shorter, darker days and colder weather, especially compared to the summer when I first got the Fitbit, but it feels good to be moving around again.

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I’ve got plenty of ideas for future posts.  I just wish I had more time to write them!

Going back to one of my earliest posts, Brownie in a Mug, I tried it again the other night subbing in coconut oil for vegetable oil or butter.  If you like chocolate with coconut, you should give it a try.

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It hasn’t all been cut-out-hearts and chocolate, but I can look back at 2014 and my fourth year of blogging with gratitude.

Thank you for being such an important part of it!  If you’d write a comment, I would be even more delighted.

 

 

 

 

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