Monday, April 29, 2013

'CASEd' Card #2

Submitted by Linda
Here's the second card we worked during my LaQuinta getaway. This cutie with the polka dots and woodgrain background was our inspiration.  The  card designer is Debra Currier, and her blog is full of cute stampin' ideas.
We didn't have exactly the right supplies, so Michelle tweaked it a bit, substituting the dots from the Sunshine and Sprinkles paper (only available through May). We love that beehive embossing folder, so she used that instead. There's something clean and fresh about that white background!

Thanks for looking!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

'CASE'd Card #1

Submitted by Linda
Several weekends ago I made it to LaQuinta for a belated birthday visit, and I had gone onto Split Coast Stampers to print out card ideas, so that we could 'CASE' them (copy and share everything)! Here is our first inspiration: This card was made by Sharon Cheng.    Stampin' Up is currently selling the die for this cute dress form, however,  I don't want to purchase the (expensive) die since I don't think I'd use it a ton.

Instead I busted out my 'contraband' dress form stamp, stamped it on the back side of the  newsprint paper, and did a 'fussy cut' (cut it out carefully), and Voila! A dress form! I used a different greeting and punch (that's the new tiny scallop), but copied Sharon's colors and used the same asymmetrical embossing folder!  I'm happy with the result!
Thanks for looking! Stay tuned for 'CASE'd Card #2!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mary Had a Little....Chicken?

 Submitted by Linda
 On my final weekday of my Spring break, my pal Liz took me on a fun filled shopping trip which included tea at the Four Seasons Tea Room in Sierra Madre.

Just look at this gorgeous plate of finger sandwiches and edible flowers!
 You probably know by now that we love all things Susan Branch and recently she was showing the cutest vintage lamb vases to fill with flowers during springtime.  So I was keeping my eyes pealed for a lambie vase, when I stumbled upon this chickie vase (actually I think she's a creamer). Either way, when I saw her bonnet with ribbon ties I quickly decided that birds and chickens do just as well for spring decorating, especially when she is sporting such a cute hat! 

Yes, you see sweet peas in there. My sweet peas at home, sadly,  are not doing well, but fortunately they are blooming beautifully in my 'kinder-garden' at school.

In the spirit of chickens and other fowl, I must share the cross-stitched Easter card my mom made for us. She must have been stitching on the sly, since I never saw her working on it during our stitching nights. Just ducky, right?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pesto 101

This recipe was originally posted by Michelle on 12/9/08, but I (Linda) am reposting it. I just made this pesto and it is so fresh and easy to make. I got my "farm fresh to you" box yesterday, and one of my surprises was a bunch of basil. What else could I do but use it up?

Submitted by: Michelle

Three years ago I had a student in my class called Celeste. When I met her she subsisted on fries, chicken nuggets and anything sugary and sweet. She was a very special student whose story I will tell someday in another blog entry, but for now, let me say how glad I am that I have converted her into a full fledged foodie. I regularly see her at school and she often comes to stay with me and David on the weekends. One of her favorite things to do is cook with me! And one of her favorite meals is pasta with pesto.

This past weekend she was visiting and after we took a short journey to Beaumont to meet up with Linda we decided to whip up a batch of pesto using some basil I bought that morning at the Farmer's Market.

It starts with a few simple ingredients: basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

The pine nuts need to be toasted and a few minutes in the oven usually does the trick. You can also toast them in a skillet on the stove. My best tip for toasting nuts is: use your nose! You will smell the nutty scent before you actually see the nuts turn brown. Keep a close eye on them so they don't burn. I toasted extra pine nuts because Celeste likes to eat them as we cook.

Next, put the pine nuts, basil, garlic and pepper into a food processor or blender and whirl away. You are trying to create a coarse paste.

With the food processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Mine is a little loose because the Parmesan that I am going to add next will thicken it up.

Mix in the parm and...

viola! Pesto!
This was Celeste's dinner on Sunday night. I simply tossed the cooked pasta with a few tablespoons of pesto and grated some Parmesan over the top.

Celeste loves farfalle (bowtie) pasta, which is fun to eat and fun to say! (And much better for her than a chicken nugget with barbecue sauce.)

I've made pesto many times so I don't measure anything but I know my non-cooking friends might like some guidance so here is a simple recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. You can adjust the measurements based on your taste buds.

Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (about) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*I don't usually add extra salt since Parmesan is a very salty cheese.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

 Submitted by Linda
 While I was off this week, I had the dilemma of 'over the hill' bananas. I decided to make some banana bread, but was wishing for a fresh take on it. I found this recipe for a Chocolate Marbled version, and it turned out nice. The purists in my family weren't sure they liked the chocolate marble, but I thought it added a nice change to a 'regular' banana bread.  I added some chopped pecans, because everything is always better with nuts. The recipe is below (both the recipe and pictures are courtesy of "Our Best Bites").
 On a side note, I found this pretty platter (for $10!!!!) in my King's Crown pattern at The Huntington Collection in Pasadena. This glorified thrift store, or 'resale boutique', had some great deals and nice things. If you live in the area, it's worth a visit, particularly if you need furniture.
  Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread (Courtesy of Our Best Bites Blog)2 c. flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
¼ c. butter, softened
1 ½ c. mashed ripe bananas (about 3-4 medium bananas)
2 eggs
1/3 c. plain lowfat yogurt or sour cream
½ c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and level. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Cream sugar and butter. Add bananas, eggs, and yogurt, beating until just blended. Add flour mixture. Beat on low until just moistened. Microwave chocolate chips in a medium bowl for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 c. batter to chocolate, stirring until well-combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter (so you have stripes of plain and chocolate batter) in an 8 ½” x 4 ½” loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters with a knife.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes (give or take a little; I’d probably set your timer for 1 hour and 10 minutes to be safe) or until a knife comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy News X2

Submitted by Aunt Linda
You may remember my niece Courtney when I wrote two years ago about a baby blanket and party favors for her baby Sawyer. Pictured below is two year old Sawyer, with his Grandma Renee and his mommy, pictured at Kari's Wedding. Courtney was happy to be able to attend the wedding, but was hoping to deliver her twins the next day. 
Sawyer doesn't realize yet how his world is about to be rocked!

No such luck! She made it 2 more weeks, and had a C-section last Tuesday. (Poor girl. Sawyer's birthday was the 7th, these babies are the 9th, and daddy Jeremiah's is the 11th. April will always be a party month at their house).   But look at these girls! As a mother of boy babies, I always appreciate a 'pink' baby with a big flowery headband.
Ava is on the left, and Mia is on the right. Both girls were over 5 pounds, but Mia is a bit tinier. Doesn't their mommy look fantastic?

We are not these babies' grandparents. We are just aunt and uncle to their mom. But it's safe to say we couldn't wait to get to the hospital and get our hands on these girls.  I love love love the newborn stage, when they're warm and yummy smelling and curling into a ball with their tiny feet and pink skin. (My boys are long past the 'yummy smelling' and 'tiny feet' stage.)

Speaking of tiny feet and pink skin, look at these toes and tum-tum. Her knee is about the size of knuckle on my thumb. Seriously.

I always like to see daddies changing a diaper. Craig joined in to help - he always was obsessed with making sure that everything is clean and 'good to go' in the diaper area. Maybe that's a guy thing.

Craig is notorious for sneaking off to hospitals to see babies while I'm at work, but since I was on Spring Break, I was poised and ready to do my share of sneaking. Here I am with an armful of girly girls!

I  didn't want to appear like the crazy/obsessed auntie, so my strategy was to bring dinners (they'd have to invite me in to hold babies if I brought dinner, right?)

So I brought Kale Soup (our family's comfort food) and French Dip Sandwiches.

The good news is there is usually an extra baby to hold!

Sadly, I'm back to work tomorrow (and I know Craig will stop by and see those girls without me!). I'm so thankful I was able to celebrate these girls' safe arrival into the world.

Happy "Birth"Days Ava and Mia!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Heidi Walsh 1965-2013

Submitted by Linda

Still wrestling with the reality the tragic loss of a true "Front Row Friend", Heidi Walsh. She deserved 'front row' status, as she supported, loved, inspired, prayed for and spurred her friends on in our journey of faith. She had a way of connecting so that time never seemed to have passed, though we didn't see each other often. Most of our times together usually involved laughter and tears, and I always admired her depth and honesty. Though her passing will never be understood this side of heaven, it's a comfort to know that she is in her 'happy place', sitting at the feet of Jesus. Even during the hard times, Heidi trusted God with her journey, so we will continue to trust God with Brennan, Emma, Griffin, Cailley and Bob as they move forward without their beloved wife and mommy.
At the Huntington (our happy go-to place), January 2011.