Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two for One Fairy Gardens

Submitted by Linda
Years ago, I attended a women's event where the centerpiece was a 'fairy garden'. In case you've never heard of this, it is a miniature garden in a pot (or tub, or other vessel), which can be accessorized with tiny props. For further details, simply go to Pinterest and type in 'fairy garden'. You will be overwhelmed with pictures!

After the event I attended, I bought the centerpiece (or maybe won it in a raffle), and gave it to my mom. Long after the plants were gone, she stashed away the tiny fence and chair.

Fast forward to this past Mother's Day, when I gave my mom an Armstrong certificate, for the purpose of rebuilding the fairy garden. We went together to pick out the plants, and discovered that they even had a section of 'miniature' plants. However, their clever marketing strategy is to only offer them in pony packs, so you end up with too many plants for one pot.
We realized while we were there that I could use the leftovers to make my own fairy garden! After our trip to Armstrong, we came right home and planted them. I love how the thyme looks like a little tree!
This one is getting it's first splash of water.
I went to Michael's where I found the perfect tiny polished rocks and glass for a pebbly path. Here is my mom's final result: She even had a tiny goose figure to add to her vignette!
So I had my plants, but no cute props. I began searching on my computer, where I found Market Hill's 'fine fairy houses'. I ordered this teeny tiny bike and the rusty metal fence. This website has everything for fairy houses...even crazy things like holiday decorations and tiny croquet sets.
I happened to have the tiny birdhouse in another plant, so I quickly snagged it and added it to my thyme tree area.
I'm so pleased with the whimsical result. Now if I could just keep the plants from growing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Classroom Volunteer Gift

Submitted by Linda
Several weeks ago, Michelle was able to come for a quick over-nighter, which evolved into a bit of a stamping marathon. Because of her uber-busy grad school schedule, we don't have as many 'girl weekends' as we used to. While she was here, we decided to crank out our volunteer gifts.

We both know that our classrooms wouldn't function without the help of our parent and community volunteers, so we wanted a 'thank you' gift that was personal but not costly. We decided to do my favorite 'classic card' style, using some of our favorite designer papers. This is my pile, stacked on the piano.
I love this Raspberry Tart paper.
This card is so simple, with its pretty paper, a ribbon, and a monogrammed scallop.
Here's another color combo. (Forgive me for zooming out, but I just had to get a bit of those hydrangeas in the picture!)
Michelle is Johnny on the spot! She already has hers bagged, tagged and ready.

I think a heartfelt note attached to a handmade gift says the most genuine kind of thanks.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Boysenberry Picking, but not Knott's!

Submitted by Linda
On Saturday we were invited to go to my friend and former student Grace's house to pick boysenberries. She's one of those kids that hopefully I will be connected to for many years to come. We don't just have a kindergarten connection though,as her dad works with Craig, and their family attends the same church we do.

Grace and her family hadn't picked berries for several days, so there would be plenty when we came!
So, Grace's father grew up in Buena Park, right near Knott's Berry farm. Apparently, these berry vines come from the same stock as the real Knott's berry vines. Not surprising, as they were plump and sweet!

Look at these pretty berries!
At one point, I found Grace in a tree!
Later that night, we washed them up, added a few strawberries from my farm box, tossed them with a bit of sugar, and served them over vanilla bean ice cream! DELICIOUS!
Hopefully we'll get invited back to pick a few more berries one day. In the meantime, I'm hoarding the last few for a late night treat.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

End of the Season

Submitted by Michelle

For most of America, the start of the summer season is just beginning. Backyard gardeners are busy planning their summer gardens, (I think this one is particularly cute) and preparing for barbecues galore.  But for me and my fellow desert dwellers, we are about to begin what my cousin Kathy calls, "the weather that makes me want to shoot myself."  Kathy was referring to the rainy weather in New York City; I'm referring to the 100+ degree heat of June, July and August in La Quinta.  With the hot weather also comes the end of our seasonal Farmer's Market.  I wandered over today to see what I could find.  
I thought the star shaped pattypan squash were interesting looking and I liked the stripes on the green zucchini.  I can't ever pass up an eggplant, and the grape tomatoes were a must for salads and snacking.  In an effort to whittle the waistline, I've been eating on the light side lately, so these veggies will fit right in with my weekly menus.  

Today is our final Farmer's Market until September; however, one of the farmers told me that I can still get my organic fix during the summer!  The market is moving to an indoor location in Palm Springs that is equipped with plenty of parking and powerful air-conditioning. Summer seems less bleak with that good news.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Borderline "Cheesy"

Submitted by Linda
I'm almost embarrassed to post this card. But Michelle insists that our followers want to know what we're up to (besides teaching small children!)

I'll admit it's borderline 'cheesy', but the bottom line is, I needed a Hawaiian themed note card, so I pulled out my Hula Girl post-it notes and punched her right out with the Decorative Label punch, backed her with some Spring Fever paper, and voila!
This card won't win any accolades, or appear in Paper Crafts magazine, but I will tell you that the recipient was happy to receive it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Edumacated" Mrs. Wark

Submitted by Linda
Many of you know that Michelle is powering through a masters program in education which will include her earning an administrative credential. Those of us who know her are certain that Principal Michelle will be a force to be reckoned with, and a wonderful administrator.

Amazingly enough, she has been able to maintain her monthly stamp clubs in LQ and C-mont. For our May club, she was determined to make 'easy, quick cards'. Well, they actually were pretty easy to put together, thanks to her creativity and prep. I think the secret is in having the right tools, to make something easy look impressive.

For example: This beauty features the paper doily die and the curly label punch.
The Calypso Coral baker's twine takes the cake on this one. And who wouldn't love that Sweet Shop paper?
This 3D birthday is simply gorgeous with the Edgelits cut and embossed edge.
Maybe our men will support our stamping hobbies in the spirit of having 'the right tool for the job.' One can always hope, right?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Romaine Salad

Submitted by Linda
For many years, this salad has been a 'must have' at our family's Christmas table. Then it evolved into my 'potluck' salad, and the 'company's coming' salad. It's such a standby, and usually loved by everyone, I decided to finally share the recipe.

Recently I made it with a sugar free dressing recipe, and it was just as yummy. The picture below shows it with chicken, transformed into a main dish salad.
The basic recipe started out with romaine, mandarin oranges, and almonds, and over the years we've added cheese crumbles, cooked chicken, red grapes, avocado, and so on.

Romaine Salad


Romaine lettuce (small inner leaves of 2 heads)

Mandarin oranges (2 small cans)

Sliced almonds (6 T.)

Red grapes, sliced in half (1 C.)

Gorgonzola cheese crumbles (or feta, or blue)

Apple or pear, peeled and chopped

Dressing (makes about ¾ cup):

1/3 C. vegetable oil

3 T. white wine vinegar

1 ½ tsp. poppy seeds

¼ C. honey

1 T. minced shallots

1 ½ tsp. dijon mustard (we use Craig’s mustard)

Sugar Free Dressing:

1/3 C. white vinegar

½ C. splenda (substituted for ¾ C. sugar)

1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. onion, grated

¾ C. vegetable oil

1 tsp. poppy seeds

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mother's Day Cards

Submitted by Linda
Yes, I realize that Mother's Day has passed, but in the spirit of sharing card ideas, here's what I gave my mom and mom-in-law on Mother's Day last weekend. The card below was an idea that Michelle adapted for our card club:
This one I CASED months ago (Copy and Share Everything), from Michelle's Stampin' Success magazine.
Both of these could easily be adapted for a birthday or thank you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Flower Fields at Carls"good"

Submitted by Linda

You have heard me say before, that for teachers, May is like December in its busy-ness. It's a month with its usual commitments, plus 47 other activities usually associated with ending the school year (assessments, report cards, student gifts, volunteer gifts, end of year parties). Throw in a couple of graduations and weddings, and we teachers are a whirlwind of activity!

Early in the month, I was able to carve out a mother-daughter day with my mom, visiting The Flower Fields in Carlsgood (as Michelle likes to say, in reference to Carlsbad). We have visited family there on numerous occasions throughout the years, but had never seen the flower fields in their glory. I wasn't sure what to expect, beyond the rainbow of ranunculus, but was pleasantly surprised by all to see and do.

When we first arrived, we looked at the lower gardens.
Then, the awesome floral rainbow!

I couldn't stop taking pictures!
We rode in wagon pulled by an antique tractor around the perimeter of the fields. Here's the view from the top, looking down the rainbow to the ocean.
All the gorgeous colors!
They also had a greenhouse of exquisite poinsettias. This picture reminds me of the old "Frosty the Snowman" movie, where Frosty begins melting in the greenhouse.
This variety boasted the brightest pink I've ever seen in a plant.
So vibrant!
We also visited the orchid greenhouse.Imagine the scent in the 'sweet pea maze'! I was in my happy place!
The children's playground is called Santa's Village. I think that this polka-dotty mushroom is too cute!
So I decided to buy some "shroomy"s at the amazing Armstrong Nursery (you know, the one you must walk through to exit the flower fields).
All in all, it was a wonderful day. Sadly, the ranunculus are about done blooming, but I would highly recommend visiting the flower fields next spring. And be sure to take your mom (or your daughter or your friend) with you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Helms Deep and The Donut Man

Submitted by Michelle
Photos by Linda

Linda and I met over 25 years ago when we were students at Azusa Pacific University. She and my brother Michael were friends, and when I came to Brother-Sister Weekend to visit the campus he arranged for me to stay with her in the dorms. Part of my Brother-Sister Weekend included a trip to Foster's Donuts (now known as The Donut Man.) We didn't know at the time that we would end up being life-long, Front Row Friends. Now, years later, Linda's sons are attending APU and forging friendships that will most likely last a life time, too.

This weekend I am visiting Linda and last night at 9:30 PM, as we were laying on the couches in her living room in our pajamas and talking about our long work weeks, we were overcome by a spontaneous spirit. We decided to put our clothes back on and go visit her youngest, Nick, and his roommates at their newly rented house in Glendora. The guys have nicknamed their new abode Helms Deep. (I had to consult with Lord Google to find out that Helms Deep is a large valley in one of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books.) We knew we couldn't show up empty handed, so we made a stop at the historic The Donut Man for old times sake.All the donuts are made on the premises, and the employees work hard to keep up with the steady stream of customers.
I'd love to know how many donuts these guys make each day.
Tiger tails and jelly filled and glazed, oh my!
During the spring and summer, when fresh fruit is plentiful, you can get fresh strawberry or peach donuts.
Just like the good ol' days, the place was packed.
Linda and I have a long standing joke that she always "comes out smelling like a rose" and last night was no different. The line for purchasing donuts wrapped around the building, but wouldn't you know, Linda discovered a secret window on the opposite side of the building where we could order without having to wait.
Ben took great care of us, filling up the box with all kinds of sugary, doughy goodness!
The residents of Helms Deep were very appreciative of our gift, and Linda and I had a wonderful time reminiscing about time gone by and feeling like we were back in college again. However, we are well aware that women in their 40s shouldn't be giving their homes clever names, though "Green Gables" and "Pemberly" came to mind. I guess we'll leave that to the inhabitants of Helms Deep.