Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Flowers

Mirror, Mirror

When I was visiting a yoga studio in Austin, I was fascinated by the strands of mirrors they had hanging from the outside windows. The reflected light played both inside the room and outside in the trees. Very cool! I also thought, "I could do that, too!"

So I went to Michael's and I bought brown silk cord (10 yards, $1.87), mosaic adhesive glue ($5.99), and 2 packages of mirrors - 1" circles and assorted squares. (25 for $1.99) The glue has toluene, be sure to use in a ventilated area!

I spaced the mirrors wrong side up about 2 inches apart, put a dot of glue on the back, laid the silk cord on top and then covered with the backside of another set of mirrors - wrong sides together. The glue does make them slip and takes at least 24 hours to set and dry. Use that to your advantage to straighten and center the cord. And do this project on a piece of cardboard you can pick up and move to a protected area to dry. The long side piece of the cardboard from a case of Dr Pepper was the perfect length and stiffness to work with.

I love the way it turned out - tied to one of the branches of my crape myrtles, the morning sun hits it perfectly and just the slightest breeze makes the cord twirl and the mirrors light up and dance. I need to make more!

Update 10-8-11 - Here's the link to the post with the video. I made three more strands. I was trying to capture the sunlight dancing.

I'm heading back to Michael's - I remember seeing a package of mirrored copper squares in the mosaic tiles next to the mirrors. I think that would be fun and pretty to intersperse with the silvery mirrors. The other Michael's I went to was out of the copper, but I also found multi-colored black irridescent squares. I'll post more pictures over the weekend.

Did you know Michael's now has an app for your smartphone? Imagine being able to pop in there and not having to smack yourself upside the head for leaving that 40% off coupon at home!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Oregon Chai "Dreamscape" Herbal Chai

Cost: $3.29 at Kroger

Number of teabags: 20

Caffeine: No

Type of tea: Herbal/Rooibos

Steeping time: 6 minutes

Add ins: A little bit of fat free condensed milk. I'm thinking next time just using 2% evaporated milk with just a little bit of honey. It was really sweet, even with just a little bit of the condensed milk.

Teabag fragrance: Cinnamon/clove

Ingredients: Organic Rooibos, organic Honeybush, ginger root,* clove bud,* cardamom seed,* cassia bark (cinnamon).* (*all ground)

Opinion: It's Fall!! Or trying to be in Houston. Time to pull out my favorite Chai's and try new ones. I like this particular chai blend, it's not hot nor peppery like some other chai's. I can really detect the cinnamon and clove. And the rooibos/honeybush makes it smoothly sweet.

Rating: 4

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Michael Buble' - "Hollywood" - 4:13

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Golden Girls

The school year is now in full swing. If you have a daughter, please take a moment and read this. With all the activities vying for your family's time, consider the Girl Scouts. Programs begin as early as Pre-K - Daisies. My daughter began her "tour" as we called it, as a 2nd grade Brownie, culminating in earning her Gold Award when she was in the 11th grade.

I've posted her Brownie, Junior and Cadette/Senior/Ambassador uniform vests earlier - (click here and here and here).

She was the first in her school's 55 year history to earn the Gold and to be able to proudly wear that gold trefoil pin (yes, it is real gold!) on her graduation gown. I also feel the Gold Award was a major factor in the college application and acceptance process. Colleges and universities seeked her out and encouraged her to apply to their institutions. In an ultra-competitive high school, she was the only student in her graduating class who was accepted into all eight private and public colleges and universities. The Gold continues to shine on in college, too, in her application acceptances for various campus organizations and student life leadership programs.

But it's not all about the badges, patches and pins and the cookies. Please read the following article which appeared in the Houston Chronicle. And in 2012, Houston/San Jacinto Council will be hosting the 100th anniversary birthday annual meeting celebration! It will be a great year for the Girl Scouts and your daughter!

When Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912, women were less equal than men by law. While it was a very different world back then, the values she sought to instill in girls and young women remain as relevant today as they were then — courage, confidence and character.

From its very beginning, Girl Scouting taught girls to become the change they want to see in the world. The Girl Scout experience gave girls, then and now, the confidence and the tools to lead — to find inside the uncertain girl, the citizen who will become a catalyst for action and change.

I am proud to say that I am a Gold Award recipient. Winning this award is something I am still proud of to this day. It is a highlight and a milestone in my lifelong journey to become the best woman I can be.

You see, the Gold Award is the highest honor a girl can achieve in Girl Scouts. This award is the Girl Scout's equivalent of the Eagle Scout for Boy Scouts. Someone once described the Girl Scout Gold Award as being “what you really want to be remembered for” in Girl Scouting.

For many, the leadership skills, organizational skills and sense of community and commitment that come from “going for the Gold” set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship.

Less than 5 percent of girls who join Girl Scouts earn this recognition — a significant honor that requires recipients to demonstrate outstanding leadership skills, career planning, community involvement and personal development.

It takes more than 100 service hours and two to three years of intensive work to complete the award requirements, which include planning and completing a project, which is the culmination of all the work a girl puts into “going for the Gold.”

In the course of this time, I was often tempted to just quit. With all the distractions that high school brings to any girl, the commitment to this project was in itself a test of perseverance. It is something that a girl has to be passionate about in order to complete — in thought, deed and action. The project is something that helps you grow as an individual and fulfills a need within a girl's community (whether local or global), creates change and, hopefully, is something that continues to move you to do more. That's what this award did for me.

I became a Girl Scout Brownie at age 7, in my hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. My favorite memories are of the fall campouts, which provided me, as an only child, a way to foster my sense of independence, learn the value of camaraderie, and make lifelong friends. I have a picture in my office of two girls who were in Scouts with me. We've been friends ever since.

Scouting was even more meaningful as I got older. I realized that the Girl Scouts had prepared me by teaching leadership and self-reliance, and showing me that there are things out there that are bigger and higher than me, and we need to look at life in the big picture.

With Girl Scouting experience on my college applications, I was accepted to multiple schools on the mainland of the United States, and ultimately chose Syracuse University, for its strong marketing and communications programs. All the colleges and universities I talked with were impressed by my awards and longevity with Girl Scouts. If I had not had that experience, it may have been much tougher for me.

As Girl Scouting approaches its 100th anniversary in 2012, now is a good time to reflect on how far the organization has come and how far it has brought the generations of girls it helped form into leaders. If you were a Girl Scout growing up, you're still one today. Join the alumnae organization. If you have a daughter, as I do, give her the opportunity to succeed in life by getting her involved in Girl Scouts. If you didn't have a chance to be involved in Girl Scouting growing up, it's never too late. Become a volunteer. We as a community can help our young people fully develop the moral and ethical values that will serve them—and all of us—well for generations to come.

Rosa Hernandez, a Girl Scout alumna and volunteer, is vice president of market development for the Houston Astros Baseball Club.

(This appeared in the December 19, 2009 Houston Chronicle )

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Maple Pecan Bread

It took two tries, but it was worth it. Even though the recipe said you could use the rapid bake cycle, the inside was not done all the way through.

This is the modified Nutty Whole Wheat Bread recipe from the Cuisinart Bread Maker booklet. I thought pecans would go really well with maple syrup (they did!)...and I also increased the amount of maple syrup. Try to find the real deal "good stuff"! I used the Vermont dark amber grade. The instructions called for the whole wheat cycle, but next time I am going to try the regular cycle -- especially if you are using the less hearty/grainy white wheat flour. 4 1/2 hours is a long time to wait!

For a one-pound loaf you will need. . .

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 cup bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast
2/3 cup shelled pecans - break some in half, leave some whole

Place all ingredients except nuts in order listed. Add nuts at mix-in signal.
Tastes really great served slightly warm with a little bit of butter and maple syrup - yum!

Other mix-in options include walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Friday, September 23, 2011

First Day of Fall Friday Flowers

Field Flowers From Whole Foods!
Today's post was brought to you by the letter "F"...!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Yogi Ginger Tea

Cost: $3.09, on sale this week at Super Target/Target. Regular price is $4.39
Number of teabags: 16

Caffeine: No

Type of tea: Herbal

Steeping time: 6 minutes

Add ins: A little bit of fat free condensed milk

Teabag fragrance: Ginger mint
Ingredients: Ginger root, lemongrass, licorice root, peppermint leaf, black pepper

Opinion: The ginger plays nicely with the peppermint. Brewing to a pretty ginger gold color, it's an interesting and pleasing combination of all the ingredients. I like to drink this after supper, or really any time. And ginger has a lot of health benefits, too. This is an easy and tasty way to enjoy and add it to your day. The only drawback? I've already brewed half the box this week -- I went back to Target and picked up another while it was still on sale! Save yourself the extra trip and get two boxes when you find it there or anywhere else.

Rating: 4.5

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Foster the People - "Pumped Up Kicks" - 4:00

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cardamom Cookies

These are from the September 2011 Issue #85 of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, page 99. Cardamom Cookies with Frozen Yogurt and Mango

I added some Penzeys Baking Spice to give it a more spicy-sweet taste. I give them a solid "B" - they were good, but thought they were a bit salty for some reason. Next time I will decrease the cardamom to 1/4 teaspoon and add a little bit more of Baking Spice (which has two kinds of cinnamon - Ceylon and Cassia, anise seed, allspice, mace and yes, cardamom). And by making smaller, marble-sized balls, I was able to get 23 2" cookies instead of 10. I also subtracted 2 tablespoons of butter from the called-for stick. I find that I can easily do that with most of their recipes, thereby reducing the fat and the calories while increasing the enjoyment knowing they are missing! Click the link in the first paragraph for the original recipe.


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter -- minus 2 tablespoons, room temperature

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon Baking Spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all purpose flour

Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add cardamom, and salt; beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour and mix until combined.
Form dough into 1" balls and place, 2 inches apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. With the bottom of a glass or measuring cup dipped in flour, gently flatten each ball. Bake until cookies are golden around edge, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely, then dust with confectioners' sugar.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Pitbull (featuring Marc Anthony) - "Rain Over Me" - 3:52

Appropriate - we finally got rain!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I was so bummed I missed out on the first "retro" Whataburger Classic Cup! For the next four weeks, you can get a medium-sized drink cup in a keepsake Whataburger nostalgia logo from the 60's, 70's, 80's and today. I checked four Whataburgers and they were sold out. The manager at one location told me they only get three cases of each design.

I like how they will be donating 5 cents per cup sold to The Fisher House, which helps support military patients and families during their treatment at military and VA hospitals. The cup is free with the purchase of a medium-sized drink, and the new one for each week goes on sale Monday.

For such a worthwhile cause, I wish they had made more.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Penzeys Free "Forward" Coupon

The latest Penzeys catalog - Fall 2011, has a coupon for a free 1/2 cup jar of their new "Forward!" blend.

And on the back side of the mailing label wrapper, Penzeys is also offering with any purchase, a coupon for a free "Teachers Gift Box". It has a 1/2 cup jar of "Forward", 1/4 cup jar of Cinnamon, a Teachers Care bumper sticker, a colorful "Teach!" pin and a Teach! book of stories and recipes celebrating the spirit of kindness. What a great gift for your favorite teacher!

Of course, inside there are lots of yummy-sounding recipes like Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie, Oatmeal Chip Bars...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Flowers

Dark purple, light purple and white Stock from Whole Foods. They smell great!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Celestial Seasonings Black Cherry Berry

Cost: $2.24, currently clearanced priced at Target for $1.90

Number of teabags: 20

Caffeine: No

Type of tea: Herbal

Steeping time: 6 minutes

Add ins: A little bit of fat free condensed milk.

Teabag fragrance: Cherry-floral

Ingredients: Hibiscus, rosehips, roasted chicory, blackberry leaves, hawthorn, natural black cherry flavor with other natural flavors (contains soy lecithin), chamomile and sweet cherries.

Opinion: Usually I am a little leery of cherry, to me it can remind me too much of cough syrup. But this does not. And also anything berry, as I am allergic to strawberries. But the only "berry" in this are cranberries (I think-look at the bottom right corner of the box) and blackberries as the flavor and leaves. Slightly sweet, not bitter or sour like some other teas with hibiscus. Bonus it did brew a little bit pink - how fun! I liked it and am tempted to go back and get another box.

Rating: 3.75

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Missing Missoni

Boy, both of my go-to Targets were cleaned out of Missoni by Tuesday afternoon! I don't know if they will be restocking.

While not exactly what I came in for, I did find, like and buy these --

Princess Pink Mesh bra #020-04-7173 $19.99

(you may want to go up a cup size - gotta love that designer vanity sizing!)

Pencil box set of 8 pencils in a cool fabric covered box I will definitely be repurposing in the sewing room #081-01-0847 $4.99

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Corn Bread Muffins - Cooking Light

These are from the All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook (2006, ISBN 0-8487-3023-2) Page 76
I was trying to find a low-carb cornbread muffin for a good friend and tried these. The recipe says it makes 6, but they must be huge! I was able to get 10 "cupcake" sized (and one was plenty big enough!) muffins, reducing the carb count to 19.2g (my friend did the math, so it's right!). Because they are smaller, start checking for doneness around 15 minutes.
My new go-to cornbread muffin recipe!


1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly spoon cornmeal and flour into measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter and egg. Pour buttermilk mixture into cornmeal mixture, stir just until moist. Spoon batter evenly into cupcake paper-lined muffin tin. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes (20 minutes if going for 6 in paperless muffin pan) or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan immediately, cool on wire rack.

You can also use this recipe for corn sticks or a pan (mini loaves, too!) of corn bread.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Sewing is Sharing
3-Day Pattern Sale - September 15/17
$1. 99 McCall's
$3.99 Vogue

Coupon Commotion - September 18/24
99 cents Butterick
And lots of 40% off coupons!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Mighty Leaf Chocolate Mint Truffle

Cost: $7.99 at Whole Foods, goes on sale for $5.99 frequently, sometimes with additonal $1 off coupons

Number of teabags: 15

Caffeine: No

Type of tea: Herbal/Rooibos

Steeping time: 5 minutes

Add ins: A teaspoonful of fat free condensed milk

Teabag fragrance: Spearmint with hint of chocolate

Ingredients: Rooibos leaves, spearmint, cacao nibs, natural flavors

Opinion: Brews to a beautiful dark amber color. A very smooth minty chocolate taste, due to spearmint versus peppermint leaves. A bit pricey, but worth it - especially if it keeps me from jonesing for something sweet during the day or dessert after dinner. This is my new favorite Mighty Leaf tea!

Rating: 5+

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Quilt Across Texas

I just received from Creations, my "Quilt Across Texas" panel by Sara Khammash for Moda Fabrics - Pattern #32510. It is approximately 24" x 44" and sells for $7.98. Click here to order this and the other fabrics created by Moda especially for the First Annual Quilt Across Texas Statewide Shop Hop.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Carrot Cake Pancakes

I made the Carrot Cake Pancakes from the Whole Foods "The Whole Deal" Back to School August 2011 issue, page 2. Hopefully maybe even healthier, because I used Bisquick Low Fat mix, skim milk and less than 2 tablespoonfuls of canola oil - 1 in the mix, 1 in the pan. I also inadvertently reduced the amount of milk by 2 tablespoons, I just noticed that as I was typing this. And because of the moisture from the pineapple and carrots, it wasn't even missed. FYI, if you buy your raisins in bulk, a 1.5 ounces of a box of raisins is a little over 1/4 cup per my food scale.

These pancakes were excellent and very filling. Two will do you just fine. I froze the extras for a quick, on-the-run breakfast during the week.


1 1/4 Bisquick Low Fat Mix

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used Penzeys China Cassia)

3/4 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon canola oil, additional to be used in pan while cooking.

1/4 cup raisins, heaped

1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained well

3/4 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans

In a large bowl, whisk together pancake mix and cinnamon. Add milk and 1 tablespoon oil and whisk until combined. Stir in raisins, pineapple, carrots and pecans until well combined. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brush lightly with some canola oil. Working in batches, form each pancake by dropping 1/4 cup batter onto the skillet. Cook until bubbles start to form/golden on the bottom, 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes 8-9 pancakes.

Top with leftover crushed pineapple, with a dusting of powdered sugar to make them look even prettier or pure maple syrup. Both versions tasted great!

Monday, September 05, 2011

New Sandra Betzina Patterns!

I was able to grab Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit Vogue 1260 and 1262 yesterday at Jo-Ann's Labor Day sale for $3.60; with an additional 10% off.

(and 1204 Issey Miyake, too! Which someone had conveniently left on top of the pattern drawers.)

I love the detailing and the fabric Sandra used in 1260's View B. And Sandra does know and do coats well, even if I'm sweating in 100+ heat, I can still dream of a cooler temperature and climate.

Saturday, September 03, 2011


Stitched, The Film will be shown in the Houston area on Channel 8 on September 19 (7:00-8:30 PM) and September 24 (8:00-9:30 PM). It's a fun documentary about three quilters racing to complete their entries for last year's 2010 Houston International Quilt Festival.

Update 9-24-11: I just checked Channel 8's schedule and it is not on it tonight. On the website it said it was on at 8:30 AM. Darn!

Can't wait? There will be a screening in Stafford, Texas at 9 AM September 9 and September 10 during the The Quilt Guild of Greater Houston's “2011: A Quilt Odyssey” at The Stafford Centre. Click here for more details.

And this year's Houston International Quilt Festival will be November 3/6 (Wednesday, November 2 is Preview Night).

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Thursday Tea Time

This week, Tazo Vanilla Rooibos

Cost: $7.99, currently clearanced priced at Super Target for $2.04 (they are no longer carrying the Tazo tea tins, but are still selling Tazo Tea in the boxes.
Number of teabags: 15
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal/Rooibos
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Add ins: A little bit of fat free condensed milk made it way too sweet. I tried 2% evaporated milk instead without any added sugar -just right!
Teabag fragrance: Honey and vanilla
Ingredients: Rooibos, licorice root, blackberry leaves, cinnamon, apple pieces, peach pieces, vanilla extract, chamomile flowers
Opinion: I usually order this in the winter as a hot tea latte at Starbucks with skim milk and 1 raw sugar. It is very sweet with a very unique flavor. And brews into such a pretty color! Makes a great iced tea, too.
Rating: 3.5

Lavender Garden Pick Me Up (and Plant!)

Some of my flowers in the front garden are literally uprooting themselves from this unrelenting heat (maybe tomorrow the high will only be 95!)
These were still going strong at my favorite garden shop, Another Place in Time, so there's a good chance they will continue on in my garden. Coinky-dink all in my favorite color purple?
Left to right -- Melochia Tomentosa in orchid, "Graffiti Violet" Pentas and "Deep Lavender" Vinca.