Sunday, September 10, 2017

Back to School "Sour Cream" treats

Submitted by Linda
Anybody remember the sour cream packet that came with a Wendy's baked potato?
As a paper craft, the 'sour cream' treat has been around for quite a while, but I had never made them. I decided that 'back to school' was a good reason to make some. First cut a rectangle of cute paper 4 1/2" by 6 1/2". I then used sticky strip to make a tube, and close the bottom of the tube. I used a crimper to make the bottom look "officially" sealed.
Next, I opened up the top, to scoop in the treat. I used Jelly Belly Jelly beans for mine.

I closed the top with more sticky strip, and used my old crimper to seal the top closed.
Then I added a tag with some school themed washi, and voila! The one pictured below is for our lunch lady at school. Woo hoo for the lunch ladies!
For more detailed directions, and better photos, click HERE.

Another project for the start of school was making tooth pockets for my kindergartners.  My mom and I cranked out 24 of these babies! (The pocket is hidden on the back).
I can't stand the cuteness of them lined up like a tooth-choir! 
And no, I don't sell these but I can connect you to someone who does!

My teaching colleague Denise found an article about starting the first day with homemade playdoh, to give the kids a happy start to their first day of kindergarten. So Nick, Chandler and I made 8 batches. Easy stuff to make, but your stirring arm may get tired. We had a lot of laughs stirring and cooking!
Nick is starting the year as a substitute in my grade level (yes, I'm a happy momma!).  I'm helping him out with some lesson planning, and he gets to do my crosswalk duties in exchange! Ha!
Here we are at the first staff meeting!
We've had a great start to the school year. Here's hoping that you folks are all back in your September routine!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sarah's Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing

Submitted by Linda

Did I mention in my last update that my two adult boys live with us? For the most part this is a good thing, especially when it comes to cooking. Both Tommy and Nick are adventurous cooks and eaters, and usually can be persuaded to help cook and/or shop for groceries. In fact, we joke about the two of them starting a food network hit called  "The Naked Chefs", as they often get up on a Saturday and spend much of the day cooking in their boxers. (This is probably TMI - oopsies. At least I'm not including a picture, right?) The only downsides to having guy cookers are that they can be a) very messy and b) often use every pan in the kitchen.  

On Monday, I was getting my "back to school pedicure" and (since the internet never works at the salon), I brought two magazines from home to read and enjoy. I'm embarrassed to say that I was reading the March 2017 issue of Real Simple. And yes, it is August (I'm a little behind on my magazines).  In one article, people were sharing things they had done which has surprised themselves, and one gal shared that she had just learned to make her own salad dressing. And I was reminded that I've got an amazing salad dressing to share.

Lately we are all obsessed with this dressing, because it is so delicious and fresh. Also, I am not a super big fan of cilantro, but in this dressing it is just right!  Here is what you need:
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (do not touch your eyes or face during or after handling jalapeños!)
1 clove garlic
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (more on this below)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons basalmic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup packed cilantro (washed and roughly chopped)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

About the ginger: Normally I have a firm stance on using fresh ingredients whenever possible. However, I find ginger root to be a pain. It's hard to chop (it's kind of fibery), and sometimes when recipes call for the juice from the ginger, it can't seem to get any out! So shown below is my favorite ginger product! It is ginger paste, and is already prepped and ready! I found this tube at Stater Brothers.
Directions: Place jalapeno pepper, garlic and ginger into food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Pour in lime juice, honey, basalmic vinegar and salt, then add cilantro and pulse a few times to blend.
Turn food processor on, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated into the dressing.
Season with salt to taste.  And Voila!
I served it on a basic green salad - Yum!
Now when I make it, I always make a double recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Living Vs. Existing

Submitted by Linda
Hello all of our dear girlfriends in the blogosphere!

It's true, what they say about time going faster as we grow older and that time flies by before I get to all the things on my to-do list. It's also true that teaching is a never ending job. When I make these types of excuses, I remember that my dad used to say, "We all have the same 24 hours". In other words, use your time wisely. Take care of people. Take care of yourself. Feed your soul. Live, don't just exist!

I haven't posted regularly in about 2 years. Yet my family and I are still cooking and eating. Michelle and I are still crafting and stitching. But somehow getting it posted on the blog has been a challenge.

Recently a friend of a friend mentioned how she has enjoyed using our recipes. Our faithful follower Gaby mentions the blog when I see her in passing, or in a text. And I miss having the virtual archive  of our projects and our lives. So, I am back, for now, typing away.

Here's the update from my past two years:
*my mom got a new knee and I was the chief care-giver during her recovery.
*Nick graduated from college, moved to Portland, moved back, and started his teaching credential program at APU.
*Craig made a big job change, still at APU but in a completely different role.
*We got a puppy (I'm sure I'll talk more about this again - because getting a dog was the best thing we did in 2015!!)
*We hosted our 2nd annual Front Row Friends crafting retreat in March of 2016
*Michelle and I both continued teaching the tiny scholars (though Michelle learned to read and got promoted to first grade, while I'm still in kindergarten).

I still spend several nights a week at my mom's house (two miles away - how great is that?), and we stitch away. I have continued being a 'dishtowel' factory, until I found a bigger project to tackle!! Bareroots Designs has an embroidery pattern for each month of the year, which features a darling little house. The queen of all things 'girlfriends', Susan Branch, speaks and writes of darling houses and little homes and how much the image speaks to us and makes us thankful for the places and people we call home. I love flying this flag with Susan's signature house:

The picture below is my August house. I had so much fun picking out the fabrics, and doing the hand stitching. For the actual sewing machine work, I say " Wish me luck!", then I head to the sewing machine and get 'er done (you may remember that the sewing machine and I are not the best of friends.)
Oh, how I love this little house. It appears like this in every month's design. I can't wait to share the other months with you!

The title of this post is "Living vs. Existing". I have to give credit to my fantastic teaching colleague, Jessica, who recently called me out (in the kindest way) of just existing, rather than living. She inspired me to quit saying, "I'm too tired" or "I'm too old" and encouraged me to fully engage in all that life offers. I hope you can do the same.  Until next time, 


Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Amazingly Talented and Inspirational Susan Branch

I own every one of these books.
photo by Susan Branch
I became a demonstrator for Stampin' Up! in June of 2006 and not long after that I started my first Stamp Club.  It was a way for women to get together and be creative, and for me to generate enough sales to stay active as a demonstrator and support my paper crafting hobby. My clubs started out in the "How To" vein.  I would teach different stamping techniques and we would make cards using our newly learned skills.  Over the years, as I've become older, wiser and busier, my clubs have evolved into monthly gatherings where everyone brings their own projects and we all create, chat and eat (of course!)  It's less work for me and I still get to see my friends and support my hobby.  My latest club began last weekend.  We have 9 members so we're committed to 9 months of fun.  

At our meeting I made several cards using up some old, but beloved, paper designed by Susan Branch.  I have been a long time admirer, follower, collector, lover of all things Susan.  She has written many cookbooks and 3 novels, all of which she handwrites and illustrates with her watercolor images.  Each book is a thing of beauty and includes quotes, notes of inspiration and essays about family, cooking, gardening, and homemaking.  Her novels are based on her life and eloquently describe her home on Martha's Vineyard, her travels to England, and her lifelong belief in fairies, friendship and family.

I'm currently reading this for
the third time.
Susan's earlier years in
San Luis Obispo.  It has a
cliff hanger ending. 
This book picks up where
Fairy Tale Girl leaves off.
It is just out and
devoured it in 1 weekend!  

Susan has also designed fabrics, some of which Linda used to make curtains for my craft room.  It's difficult to find her fabrics these days BUT, Susan recently partnered with a company called Spoonflower and you can now purchase her fabrics here.  
I took the doors off a closet and camouflage all my
stamping supplies with this curtain.
I love the delicate, whimsical designs.  
The valance above my window is the same material.
Susan has also designed calendars, china, scrapbooking materials, stickers, stationary, cards, decorative flags and much more.  I own all her cookbooks, books, some of her china, loads of scrapbooking materials and stickers.  I've been to Martha's Vineyard and have stood outside her home (I couldn't bring myself to knock on the door and disturb her), and when she had a store in Arroyo Grande, I visited every time I was on the Central Coast.  I even got to meet her in 2009 at a book signing in California. I cried (tears of joy!) and she graciously signed all 5 of my cookbooks, each with a different inscription.  

I've tightly held onto and hoarded my Susan stuff for years, but recently realized it brings me more joy to use it than just "have" it.   When Linda and I began making our own journals/calendars, I started using up my Susan stickers.  That was in 2014, and I still have plenty of stickers to decorate my journal each month.  

At Stamp Club I happily used three different Susan Branch papers for cards.
Simple and fun.  
Monogram cards for me!
Susan's gingham paper coordinates perfectly
with the floral wreath.
My Susan Branch stash is starting to get smaller, but it will be a looooong time before it is all used up.  And, thanks to eBay, I can always get more if I want it.  To find out more about Susan Branch or just for a daily dose of inspiration, head on over to her website.  

A few of my most prized Susan Branch possessions. 
I use this cookie plate all the time when I take treats
to the secretaries at school.  
My favorite bud vase.
A little pitcher that brightens up a corner of my kitchen.

The quote painted inside the rim of the teacup says,
"Charm: the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves."
 Henri-Frédérick Amiel

Saturday, April 23, 2016

1st Annual Crafting Retreat

Linda, Carrie and me in our happy place.

It all started last year in November.  Carrie, Linda and I attended a crafting retreat at Roughly Manor in Twenty-Nine Palms.  Along with 25 other women we had an awesomely creative weekend of crafting, laughing, eating and making new friends.  On the car ride home Carrie and Linda came up with the bright idea of the three of us hosting our own crafting retreat for our friends.  Within a week Carrie had found a location and we all were assigned jobs.  Carrie headed up public relations and handled all the administrative tasks.  I assumed the role of banker and Linda was in charge of "fluff" (anything that had to do with cuteness.)

For 3 months we planned and prepped.  Linda made favors, I collected deposits and Carrie communicated with the 9 women who would be joining us.  In February, Linda came to La Quinta for the weekend and worked on her"fluff" projects.
Linda made each person an easel place card. 
All good crafters know you must stay hydrated...
...and moisturized when creating works of art.  
What could be nicer on one's pillow at night than a Ghirardelli chocolate tucked inside an inspiring holder? 

When inspiration strikes, a notepad is key.

Linda even made a banner to welcome our guests.

While Linda worked her magic in the craft room, I got busy in the kitchen, preparing as much of the food that could be frozen.

Linda's Chicken Enchiladas

My Grandma Jilda's spaghetti sauce and meatballs.  When cooking in advance quality control is important, hence the side sampler.  
Meatballs ready to be frozen.  

When the first weekend in March finally came, we couldn't have been more excited.  The house was big, beautiful and well equipped for both crafting and cooking. All the ladies enjoyed themselves as well as the food.  Somehow, we ended up with more pictures of food than people.  
All 12 of us!  What a happy bunch.  
Gathering in the kitchen for snacks. 
 (L-R: Debbie, Nancy, Adrienne, me and Barbara.)
Dessert Tray including Michelle's Lemon Bars, Linda's Kahlua Cake and Carrie's Magic Bars.  
My crafting spot.  I worked on Christmas tags for my annual Tin-O-Tags project.

As an added bonus, we found a cardboard cut-out of Blake Shelton in a closet that was useful for selfies, group photos and hiding in various locations around the house to scare unsuspecting crafters.
I took this selfie in an upstairs location and then texted it to Carrie and Linda, who were crafting downstairs.  It garnered some good laughs.
Barbara and Blake.  I think they make a cute couple.
Linda worships at the feet of Blake while all the others look on in fondness (and Adrienne tries to lick his ear.)

Our first annual retreat was a smashing success, if I do say so myself. And the funny thing is, it didn't even seem like a lot of work because Linda, Carrie and I did it together.  Combining our talents and energy made for a wonderfully fulfilling weekend, and I believe our guests would agree.  That's the thing about allowing only quality people - those who inspire, uplift, encourage, and love - into the front row of your life, it makes the traveling a lot more fun and the load so much lighter.  

And the song, from beginning to end, I found in the heart of a friend. 
 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

P.S.  Some of the food was eaten so quickly that we didn't have a chance to snap a photo.  Here are links to a few of the most requested recipes.