Friday, December 31, 2010

I Resolve...

Every New Year's Eve, I make my list. These are the things that I vow to do in the new year. I typically put things like - "Get Promoted","Lose Weight" or something selfish like that. Please know, I am not an overly selfish person, I have 2 kids and house full of pets, not much time for myself. But I feel like I can give more.

So here are my thoughts on this new year full of promise...
  1. Say "I Love You" more often. To my parents, to my children, and especially to my husband.
  2. Volunteer my time. Make someone, who I don't even know, feel special.
  3. Start a new tradition with my family. 
  4. Be thoughtful in gift giving. In the rush of life it's so easy to buy anything at a store but this year I want to think of the person and what they mean to me. Homemade gifts would be the best.
  5. Eat Healthier - Ok well I can't very well do the things above if I don't at least do one thing for myself. ;)
Happy New Year! May you have a healthy and prosperous 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O' Christmas Tree

If you have a lot of left over hard candy from Halloween, or if you're like us, left over from last Valentine's Day, don't throw it away - make something! I found this idea in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens. {I love that magazine}

"Crush hard candies like Jolly Ranchers to create shimmery ornaments that resemble stain glass. Just line a cookie cutter with foil, spritz it with cooking oil, and fill it halfway with candy pieces. Bake for approximately 7 minutes at 350 degrees to melt the candy, then cool for 10 minutes. Use a hot-glue gun to add a hanger." - BHG

Mine turned out pretty well, and I ended up making 2 or 3 other pieces but this one was by far the best. If you try it, send me a picture. I would love to see how it turned out.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

They look good, don't they?

They are...well, were {grin}. The kids thought they tasted like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but warm. They were originally just cocoa fudge cookies, but I added a bit of a seasonal kick to them. They look like teeth breakers but actually the candy canes soften after a bit.

Cocoa Fudge Cookies {w/Candy Canes}
Yield: 2 dozen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 packages of 12 {or more} candy canes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup; level with knife. Combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2-3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans and cool on a wire rack. This recipe is actually from a Cooking Light recipe, so in case I've made a mistake you can get it here.

For topping {this one's all me}, lightly crush candy canes with a rolling pin in a plastic bag. Pour crushed candy canes onto a shallow dish. Combine powdered sugar and milk to make icing and spread over top of cookie {you don't need very much}. This will act like a glue. So now, either sprinkle candy cane on top of cookie or turn cookie upside down onto plate to pick up the candy canes. Let sit until icing is solid.

Voila! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hunting Season

When you think of hunting season, I bet you don't think of it as a family event. Well not an "everybody and your grandma" event, anyway. But that's just what it is when my family goes hunting. Hunting for our Christmas tree...parents, kids, cousins, uncles, grandmas and grandpas all head out to the great tree farm to honor the yearly tradition. Usually it's chili and hot dogs before, to keep us energized and warm for the trek ahead. And then hot chocolate after, when we haul our "prize" home. 

Once home, the fun begins. Dan relinquishes all responsibility for decorating to myself and the kids. He killed it, we dress it. Sounds fair. In place and smelling wonderful, I notice this tree is tall, it is VERY tall. Now removed from the wide, open air, our perfect tree has magically grown to enormous proportions. "But it was the right size when we picked it!" they exclaim. "It must be magic!" they say. What we thought was only maybe 8 feet at best was 11 feet tall!!!

With "Jingle Bells" in the background, the kids and I set to work. Of course, we needed a little help getting ornaments to the top and to the kids excitement we received it by way of a very tall ladder. My husband's work was not quite done. Even with a ladder, the star still required an extra long arm.

 With night falling and the lights glowing, I think to myself that the traditions are well worth it.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not so Bye-Bye Birdie

Winter is on it's way and while most birds have migrated I still seem to have an abundance of wild birds at my feeders. I'm especially enamored with this Tufted Titmouse, with his little crest that reminds me of a man's 1950's hairstyle.

I set up two bluebird boxes in late summer, knowing I was probably not going to see any inhabitants until early spring. I was pretty excited {and I would never have thought that I would get this way over birds} when I saw two bluebirds going in and out of the boxes like they were touring a home for sale.

Since then, a number of bluebirds have been checking out the neighborhood and I hope they buy. I would love to show you all Bluebird eggs next spring.

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scary Snare

Tiny droplets of water illuminating the delicate strands of a spiderweb. Harmless to us but deadly to unknowing insects who dare to cross.
Muwahahahaha...Happy Halloween

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Addicted to Succulents

Time flies and wonderful things grow. These are the succulents I planted last May. They have really exceeded my expectations. Not only did I keep them alive, they've grown and had offspring! I've been able to split these into smaller plantings and now have a family of succulents living in my house. 

Honestly, I can't get enough. I've purchased a few more little souls that were on sale at the garden center. I want to save them all and wonder what will happen to them over the winter. The colors and textures are so different and enticing. I think I'll use these as subjects for my next watercolor attempt. What do you think?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


In the Spring I bought a Jalapeno Pepper plant from our local farm market. I wanted to start a vegetable garden and I thought since I'm not a major gardener I'd start small to get my feet wet, so to speak. I found an unused pot and started my {small} container garden. I paired my hot peppers with basil in the same pot. I've used the basil almost immediately on everything from homemade spaghetti to bruschetta.

The jalapenos I've had to wait a while but the wait has been worth it. My mom gave me her salsa recipe and we made a mild and a HOT batch. I'm not one for hot foods but this was good. My husband has used it on his pizza, tacos, cheese and crackers...anything he can think of.
So here's the yummy recipe...Enjoy!

3 large tomatoes - coarsely chopped
3 canned or fresh jalapeno peppers - beware!!
3T chopped green onions with tops
1T fresh parsely - chopped (use more as you like)
1 clove garlic - crushed
1 1/2T cider vinegar (I used lemon/lime juice)
1/2tsp. salt
1/8tsp. ground cumin
1/2 small (8oz.) can tomato sauce

Mix all together and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Can be frozen, but becomes watery upon thawing. Just drain if that happens. Use all fresh ingredients for best results.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Assorted Succulents

I thought I'd experiment with succulents today.
They are certainly pretty and hopefully as hardy as they say. 
Keep your fingers crossed.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Looking for Love at the Flea Market

What a beautiful day. The sun was shining, we had money in our purses and the flamingo's were marked down. Let the bartering begin. This is the bi-annual Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio. One of the largest antique and flea market events in Ohio. My mom, daughter and I decided to get there early to beat the crowds and get a good parking space. Well, so did everyone else. But there were still plenty of wonderful objects and deals to be made. 

There are strategies that are taught, written about, and told to help a new flea market shopper navigate the stalls. My first piece of advice is to always negotiate. It's expected and as long as you're nice about it, many will strike a bargain with you and are happy to do so.
My second piece of advice is to bring enough cash. If the great selection doesn't whittle it down, the food vendors will. Either bring snacks or prepare to pay for the fair-like food. It's hard to resist though. Do you know they make elephant ears in french fry form now? Evil. Good thing we walked a lot (I'm sure it wasn't enough, though).

My third piece of advice is..."If you see something you like, buy it. It may not be there the second time around." I ended up doing this with some typeset letters I had been looking for. I found them in a box, but there were a lot of repeat letters with not many vowels. The deal was $1 a piece or $30 for the whole box {which probably contained about 50 pieces}. I decided to go to lunch and then come back. Within 20 minutes half the box had been picked through. I asked again and the offer was $15 for the whole box. I bartered to $12.50 and took home about 30 pieces. Mostly T, U, V, W, X, and Y's. But I found that I had all the vowels but A. So guess what my next search will be for?

One thing I found different from last year and especially from 5 years before was the amount of vendors selling their items in groupings or vingettes, according to the style. Shabby Chic was very popular and smart vendors paired items together that enticed you to buy the whole look and not just one item. There were still the usual chotsky's and most were not my style, but I'm sure it was someone's.

Overall, I was happy with what I found and what I took home. Along with the typeset letters, I found a beautiful Jim Thompson silk scarf with such wonderful saturated blues and greens for only $10. I know these go for $40 and up but I don't plan on re-selling. It was bought because I loved it. 

And I think that is why most of us go to flea markets...looking for love. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Turning Over A New Leaf

Baby steps....I have aspirations of completing a large beautiful watercolor, but I need to practice my technique first before I can commit to something so ambitious. I'm almost afraid to start. First, I'm not sure where to begin and second, I don't want to mess it up. You can't exactly erase watercolors (although there is a technique to fix a mistake - more on that later), or hit the undo button like I'm so used to doing. {Oh, for an undo button on life}

I thought I would cure myself of this fear by having my son do a watercolor with me. Kids just dive in without asking for instructions and they are usually okay with the results. The control freak in me did have to give him a few pointers on how to hold the brush and then started to tell him about mixing colors, but he stopped me. "I know how to do it Mom." I was very impressed that he wanted, and actually knew how, to mix the primary colors to get his secondary colors. He is 5 and this was one of the first lessons he learned before preschool but he's already a pro at video games, I thought he might have forgotten.

We both started by drawing our pictures with a soft lead pencil. I watched him scribble a face on his and I carefully, methodically, outlined a leaf. Baby steps. I squeezed out blue, red and yellow paint for him and told him to wet his brush first then go for it. He was fearless. Not caring if his colors were outside the lines. Not caring if the eyes were too far apart or if the mouth was too big. And it turned out...beautifully.

Mine on the other hand doesn't look bad. But I was so careful to keep within my pencil line. So careful to paint a straight line. I played with the color. Added more water to blend the orange. Used a paper towel to absorb some extra water I had on the red. 

I tried to not to worry that it was not perfect. I am happy with it, as small and clean as it is. But I am going to take my son's lead and paint my next one with a little more abandon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I've never heard of mandalas before I started blogging. I came across a few blog sites written by an artist, an art teacher and novices like me. I was fascinated that this was more than just a lovely form of art. The word Mandala is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean circle, it has spiritual and ritual significance in Buddhism and Hinduism. They have been used as an aid to meditation and trance induction. It gets even deeper than that...The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as a "representation of the unconscious self"...okay. 

I found my first mandala on one of my favorite blogs, daisy yellow. To me, they were beautiful, therapeutic, and could be extremely creative. You could do them in all types of media, which daisy yellow will show you, but my favorite is with Staedtler pigment liner pens. I experimented, very briefly, with my color pens and liked the outcome but I like the black and whites a little more. 

Mine take on a more floral look. Some are more circular and geometric, while some tell a story within it's framework. Check out Stephanie's Mandala art on her flickr site. She tends to create them when she is angry to release stress and help balance her emotionally. 

Start small, and don't worry if you mess up. I have a few that didn't turn out very well, but with practice it helps train your hand and eye coordination. You are essentially creating as you go and there's something to be said for such simplicity and uncontrived design. Have fun with it and maybe it will help you stay focused and balanced in your life. Who knows, it worked for Carl Jung.