Thursday, July 30, 2009

Micro Beads!

Submitted by Linda
With my DH and boys out of town, I had some time to do some uninterrupted crafting with my mom. In the spirit of using up our old supplies, I discovered these tags that were stamped but not colored. I pulled out my watercolor pencils, blender pen, and I came across these micro-beads. I can't remember when I bought them, but they had never been used.

I love the neato bumpy texture that they create!
On this card I just added the beads to the centers of the flowers in the bouquet.

I tend to be a saver of stamps, and sometimes find it hard to part with old sets. Michelle has helped me adopt an "out with the old, in with the new" attitude, but even she would agree that some sets are classics and always appealing. This set is called Living Large and is one of my faves.

Now that these are finished I can move onto a new project!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More 3X3

Submitted by Michelle
The 3 X 3 card holder that Linda and I created over the weekend is so cute that it has inspired me to make more! I'm in love with the Razzleberry Lemonade designer series paper from Stampin' Up! so I decided to use it to create another card set.
The card holder is made with Rich Razzleberry cardstock (a new In Color from SU!) and the Razzleberry Lemonade DSP.
I created 4 cards to go inside using Melon Mambo cardstock (another new In Color) along with more of the Razzleberry DSP and cardstock. The stamp set I used is called Think Happy Thoughts. Each card has a different sentiment: happy thoughts, happy birthday, thanks so much, and friendship.

Simple. Clean. Easy to make. I think the entire project took me about 15 minutes from start to finish.

I liked it so much that I put it in a cello bag, tied it with a ribbon and sent it off to a friend.
All supplies available through my Stampin' Up! website. Click on the catalog in the sidebar if you are interested in placing an order.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup

Submitted by Michelle
Last December I wrote about Tyler Florence's roasted tomato soup with a passion and never thought I would come across another recipe that would equal or surpass it. That was before the August 2009 issue of Gourmet magazine came out. There is an entire section of the magazine devoted to tomatoes!!! The roasted-tomato soup recipe caught my eye since I enjoy a light soup in the summer time and because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, including lots of Roma tomatoes from my farm box.

The recipe is very similar to Tyler's. You start by halving the tomatoes and placing them on a baking sheet with whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour.
Since I live in a crazy hot climate, I roasted my tomatoes early in the morning to avoid heating the house up too much. I didn't use them until the evening and they held just fine all day long in a bowl. (The garlic you see below was peeled after roasting it.)
The same evening I made the soup. It didn't take long at all. I sauteed onion in butter with dried oregano and sugar.
Once the onions were translucent I added 3 cups of chicken stock. (Good thing I made some last week and had it in my freezer!)
I simmered the tomatoes and garlic in the stock for about 20 minutes and then let it cool before pureeing it in a blender in small batches. Cooling is essential. Too hot of liquid will blow the top off your blender.
The recipe then said to "force through a sieve into a clean pot." I almost skipped this step, thinking I didn't really need to do it. I'm glad I didn't.
After stirring and stirring and stirring with a spatula, all the yummy tomatoey goodness was in the pot and I was left with tomato skins and seeds in my sieve.
I stirred in half a cup of heavy cream, added some salt and pepper to taste and simmered until the soup was heated through.
The end result was an amazingly delicious, creamy and light soup.
The soup was gone in a day, but the flavor still lingers in my mind. I'm sure I'll be making this recipe throughout the summer and into the fall.

Roasted-Tomato Soup from Gourmet, August 2009
4 lbs. tomatoes, halved lengthwise
6 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle.
-Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, in 1 layer in a large 4-sided sheet pan and add garlic to pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
-Roast tomatoes and garlic 1 hour, then cool in pan. Peel garlic cloves.
-Cook onion, oregano, and sugar in butter in a 6-to8-qt. heavy pot over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
-Add tomatoes, garlic and stock and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
-Puree soup in batches in a blender, then force through a sieve into cleaned pot, discarding solids. Stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste and simmer 2 minutes.
-Makes 8 cups.

Tart & Tangy

Submitted by Michelle
Last summer Stampin' Up! offered a cute designer series paper called Summer Picnic and it co-ordinated with a stamp set called Tart and Tangy. Linda and I fell in love with all of it and we HAD to have it. We went a little crazy in our ordering, especially when Stampin' Up! retired the Summer Picnic paper, and we now have loads of it on hand.

Linda and I have had a mantra for this summer: "out with the old and in with the new" and it has inspired us to try and use up as much old product as we can. This weekend, while Linda has been hanging in LQ with me, she designed Christmas tags (yes, we like to work ahead) and managed to use up a bunch of old Christmas designer papers.

Along with the tags, we decided to design a note card holder for 3X3 cards using the Tart and Tangy stamp set as our theme.
Despite many attempts of measuring and cutting, I figured out the dimensions for the note card holder, and I think I did pretty well (good thing I only have to teach Kindergarten math).
Notice the 'crystal effects' on the apples and cherries: it gives them a fresh glossy look!
Linda designed 4 different 3X3 note cards. Each holder will have 1 of each card and envelopes.
We think this will be a great hostess gift or birthday present for our friends. And since these cards and the holder use very small amounts of designer paper, we have plenty left over to make more!

If anyone is interested in the dimensions and directions for the notecard holder and cards, please make a comment so that I can contact you. By the way, the Tart and Tangy stamp set is still available in the current SU catalog.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Craig's Halibut ala the "Galloping Gourmet"

Submitted by Linda (at Michelle's house)
So I sneaked away from C-Mont to La Quinta for another stamping marathon with Michelle. Since we are both trying to stay committed to Weight Watchers (or 'dub dub', as Michelle likes to say), I asked her to make sure that we cooked and ate healthy while I was here.

Over a year ago, my DH (dear husband) went on an Alaskan fishing trip, and I still have a freezer full of fish! Not being a big fish fan, I haven't excelled at cooking it this past year.
Don't tell Craig, but I grabbed a package of it from the freezer to bring to Michelle's - I knew that she would have a tasty and healthy plan for it.

This afternoon, she pulled out various cookbooks from her favorite chefs: Mario Batali, Ina Garten, Nigela Lawson, and then pulled out a Graham Kerr Book. Known as the "galloping gourmet", I remember him giving a talk at my church in Oregon when I was a kid. Interestingly enough, Michelle's mom recently heard him give a talk on her travels and bought her a cookbook. The recipe we chose was Grilled Halibut with Mango Chutney.

Now I don't usually have mangoes on hand, and neither did Michelle. But enter her DH Dave, who happens to work at Bristol Farms in Palm Desert. She called him up, and he brought home a perfectly ripe mango. Here is the chopped mango, with scallions, and a chunk of ginger waiting to be grated:

Here is the finished chutney. The recipe called for cayenne pepper, so it has a bit of a kick:
The recipe called for the fish and chutney to be served over a bed of arugula, but chef Michelle opted to saute spinach with a bit of shallot and butter instead.
Here is our beautiful plate: we added angel hair pasta with olive oil and parmesan, and my contribution was the cucumber salad, which is simply cucumbers, sweet onion, rice vinegar, a bit a sugar and a sprinkle of dill. I must say the entire meal was really flavorful!
Here's the recipe, for anyone else who may have a freezer full of fish:
Halibut with Mango Chutney
Mango Chutney Ingredients:
1 (1 C.) fresh mango
2 (1/2 C.) green onions
1 T. peeled, grated fresh gingerroot
1/2 C. fruity white wine (Michelle used Pinot Grigo because that is what she had on hand.)
1/4 t. cayenne pepper (This made our dish pretty hot- we would suggest you use 1/8 t.)

Before you cook:
Peel the mango, then pit and finely dice. Chop the white part of the green onion finely. Grate the gingerroot. Measure the remaining ingredients.

Cooking method:
Combine the mango, onion, ginger, wine, and cayenne in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve. You can make this ahead if you like.

(We grilled the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper, for about 20 minutes. Michelle sauteed shallots and spinach in butter until it was wilted, about 2 -3 minutes. Then we served the chutney over the fish, over the spinach).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cooking With Class

Submitted by Michelle
My niece and nephew have been in the desert recently spending time with their grandma and papa and I've been able to see a great deal of them since they are staying about 5 minutes from my house. While they are in La Quinta they take swimming lessons through the YMCA and last week Max took a kid's cooking class at a local establishment aptly named Cooking with Class.
Monday through Friday for 5 hours a day Max learned about foods from other countries and made several authentic dishes from each country. On Friday David and I attended a luncheon and graduation ceremony put on by Max and his classmates. It was so fun to see where Max had been spending his days and to sample some of the foods he had learned to cook.

We sampled Sticky Ribs (Asia), Mexican Street Corn (Mexico), tossed green salad with Italian vinaigrette (Italy), cheesy garlic bread (Italy) and French Apple Tart (France.) It was all great but the ribs were my favorite and I'm hoping Max will teach me how to make them someday soon.
Here is the kitchen Max got to cook in...
and here is Max with his chef instructors.
Max and his friends had a graduation ceremony where they were given certificates of completion, cookbooks and their toque (traditional chef hat).
Meanwhile, while Max was at "real" cooking school, Anna and I had our own cooking school in my kitchen. Armed with her Mermaid Cookbook, Anna picked out a recipe she wanted to make (Crunchy Bagel Crisps) and did a fantastic job putting them together with just a little help from Aunt Shell.
(The cute Mary Englebreit apron that Anna is wearing was made by Kim,
the former student that I wrote about in yesterday's entry.
Having Max and Anna take an interest in cooking warms my heart because it is a love that I can actively share with them. I can only imagine the fun we will have over the years cooking together and sharing recipes.

Crunchy Bagel Crisps
colored sugar
softened butter
mini bagels

1. Mix sugar (1 tablespoon) and cinnamon (1 teaspoon) in a small bowl. Make as many colors as you like.

2. Have an adult helper thinly slice bagels. (This adult helper cut the bagel in half, and then cut the halves in half.)

3. Butter one side of each bagel and then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

4. Bake on a foil lined baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Bagels will continue to get crunchy as they cool.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Kind of Party

Submitted by Michelle
Once in a great while during my teaching career I have had the opportunity to form a friendship with a student that has lasted far beyond the year or two that she has been in my class. One such friendship is with Kim. She sang in my choir all 4 years of her high school career and long since graduation she has been a constant pen-pal and friend. I am extra blessed because not only has Kim remained a good friend, but her entire family has adopted me. I also taught her older sister Kristin who played piano for the high school choir and went on to Azusa Pacific University (my alma mater!) to study music. Kim's parents, Debbie and Dave were constant fans and supporters of me as a teacher and I have enjoyed many a fun time with their family since leaving high school teaching.
This past weekend Kim celebrated her 29th birthday. Debbie kindly included me in the surprise party and I was so honored because it was an intimate affair for Kim's closest friends and family.

The party began with a luncheon and every attention to
detail was taken care of from the centerpiece
to the china that co-ordinated with the centerpiece
to the place cards and pink sugar rimmed glassware!
We feasted on homemade chicken croissant sandwiches,
spinach salad with bacon and fresh fruit.
For dessert there was a scrumptious assortment of homemade treats including chocolate dipped strawberries, bite sized carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting, lemon pound cake and mini chocolate bundt cakes with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top!!!! (I couldn't resist eating one of everything.)
No party is complete without games and this party had the PERFECT game: create a card and win a prize! Yes people, we got to stamp! Kristin prepped materials for us and we were able to craft to our hearts content.
Here we are letting our creative juices flow.
The birthday girl with her design.
My card.
Our finished projects.
Though the party was for Kim, I felt so special because of all the thought and preparation that was put into the party. And I loved how this party was so up my alley. A beautiful setting, great food, crafting and time with friends...what could be better?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Long Beach Antique Swap Meet

Submitted by Linda
Today I coaxed Michelle into getting up super early to head down to the Long Beach Antique Swap Meet with our stamp club friend Debbie. Michelle was pretty certain that she wouldn't find anything to buy, but ended up scoring some great deals! This swap meet is held on the 3rd Sunday of the month, and has many interesting people and wares. We saw vintage china, linens, clothing, toys, jewelry, and things we would never expect to pay good money for! We found ourselves saying "one man's wine is another man's vinegar" again and again, and agreed that we saw a lot of "vinegar". But it was also fascinating to see old things that we grew up having around our homes. The picture below is of some of the ephemera at one booth- they had monopoly pieces, marbles, scrabble letters, etc. You name it - they had it.
This booth was full of old tins and containers. We were amazed that this vendor has to set up this display each time they open up shop.

It took us about 2.5 hours to walk the entire swap meet and though it was unusually hot and humid, our time was well spent people watching and reminiscing about times gone by.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bonnie's Flowers

Submitted by Linda
I have been part of a walking group for quite a few years now, with several other moms who are dear friends and have children close in age to my boys. As we have walked through the years, we have become great friends as we share life's ups and downs. One member of our group is Bonnie. Bonnie is an artist, known for her dough ornaments that you may have seen in the past at Claremont's Village Venture and the larger craft shows. For a while, her ornaments were selling at Macy's. She is in a Michael's book, and has even been featured on HGTV. It's amazing to imagine her making thousands and thousands of ornaments in her home and shipping them out! As time has passed, Bonnie has added other products to her line, including this charming and beautiful nativity set.
She sculpts each character and adds the pretty glaze and fires it. I love the gold accents!Well, last week our group decided to meet for coffee, and Bonnie brought everyone a couple of these ceramic flowers! Cute, cute, cute!!!! Every time I pull into my driveway now, I am greeted by these two!
If you'd like to see more of Bonnie's products, check out