Thursday, May 31, 2012

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Pitbull - "Back in Time" - 3:26
From "Men in Black 3"

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Tea Forte' Herbal Retreat "Cherry Cosmo" organic relaxation tea
Cost: $5.99 at Central Market
Number of teabags: 15
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:  Herbal
Steeping time: 5 minutes

Add ins:  As is (awful), a bit of Stevia (astringent and sour), a teaspoonful of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's fat free/sugar free vanilla powder (yuck!)
Teabag fragrance:   Disconcertingly odd
Ingredients:  Organic rose hips, hibiscus, apple pieces, natural cherry flavor, raspberries and other natural flavors.
Opinion:  For starters, a pretty tin box and hence the .5 on the rating. The silky teabags were filled with bits of fruit and looked promising, but the scent was...oddly musty?  Hard to describe.  Like the house of a crazy old great aunt you didn't like to visit?  If she were to offer you tea, this would be it. Blech!  It held such promise, I liked all the ingredients.  It brewed to a pretty deep pink.  Maybe it might be better iced, with lots and lots of sugar, which eliminates it from my running.  "The deliciously relaxing taste of sweet plump cherries with a fragrant delighting of hibiscus blossoms and faint whispers of raspberry."  The pretty tin box lied.
Rating: 0.5

Happy Birthday to my Sweetie!

"Owl Always Love You!"

Print from 3 Bears Studio

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Cowboy Troy - "I Play Chicken With The Train" - 3:18
I loved the freestyle dance that Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd did to this song on "Dancing With the Stars"

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Flowers

A bouquet of my "Pink Promise" roses!  Not only long-lasting and fragrant as cut, but I love the different variations of pink.  Pink roses are my favorite, red is too predictable.  But pink, they are just happy.

All that is missing is the moon. . .

The sun, no moon, and the stars
Sunflowers and stargazers.  Wish my moonflowers were blooming!

S'more Peeps Please

The "secret" ingredient!
Alas, this was my last package, but what a send off to the Peeping season.  These bunny Peeps lent themselves quite nicely and pinkly.    All you need is a package of Peeps, a package of graham crackers, Ghirardelli brownie mix, and a touch of sprinkles.
Step 1 - Line a square baker with graham crackers.  The non-stick rubber ones work great for this recipe.
Step 2 - Prepare brownie mix according to directions, spread half over graham crackers and place Peeps on top
Step 3 - Spread remaining brownie mix on top of Peeps
Step 4 - Crush/crumb extra graham crackers and sprinkle on top (colored sprinkles optional),  and bake according to brownie mix directions

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

Cool tea bag presentation
This week - HEB My Cup of...Serenity Spearmint Lavender

Cost: $4.99 at HEB and Central Market
Number of teabags: 15
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:  Herbal
Steeping time: 5-7 minutes*
Add ins:  As is (good), half a packet of Stevia (better), a teaspoonful of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's fat free/sugar free vanilla powder (best!)
Teabag fragrance:  Wrigley's Spearmint gum with a touch of lavender potpourri
Ingredients:  Spearmint, lavender petals
Opinion:  A nice minty change of pace from peppermint tea.  You can notice the lavender just a little bit, and the flavor of both sticks around in your mouth afterwards.  That's the most accurate but probably not the best way to describe it.  Colgate or Crest should add lavender to one of their toothpastes.  Seriously.  Brush your teeth and pleasant dreams!   Bonus it is an herbal tea, and *I can leave the teabag in the mug like all the cool tea drinkers do.  Truthfully, I was a bit leary of the lavender, but it stays in the background and makes for an interesting combination.   And a pretty box.  I would definitely buy this again.
Rating: 4.5

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

O.A.R. - "Heaven" - 3:31

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Work in Progress

"in progress," yep.    At least you can see the cute scarf I bought last weekend at the Austin Renegade Craft Fair from Little Minnow.  And the totebag of other goodies I found which I will blog about later.

What you make of it. . .

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lotta Savings

Looky at all the stencils you get!
This had me at the purse!

Holy cow!  If you live in Austin, run over to Nordstrom Rack in Sunset Valley and grab (with the convenient twill handle yet) the Lotta Jansdotter "Lotta's Printing Studio" kit.  Originally priced at $19.95, Nordstrom Rack somehow got a hold of this and is selling it for $6.97!!

Look at all the stencil designs you get, plus sponges, carving knives and a 48-page booklet with project photos and how-to's.  What a deal!

You'll find it in the clearance section next to the scarves on the right hand side of the store.  There were 4-5 left as of last night.

Ditch the planner. . .

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Raspberry White Chocolate Almond Blondies

Obviously did not wait to let cool before cutting!

(Originally "Raspberry Blondies" from My Recipes/All You)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A dash of almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
1 cup fresh raspberries


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty foil (the Reynolds non-stick kind is perfect for this recipe), leaving at least a 1-inch overhang on all sides.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Turn off heat.  Stir in brown sugar until moistened. Let cool slightly.  Whisk in egg, vanilla and almond extracts. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in nuts.  Mix in a few white chips.

3. Scrape batter into baking pan, smoothing top the best you can with a spoon, or use a spatula. Scatter berries and remaining chips over batter. 
Ready to bake!

Add a few more chips if you have already snacked on the premeasured amount and to make it look pretty.  Eat a few more from the bag because you are baking in the afternoon before dinner.   And damn, these chips taste way better than those white "chocolate" Easter bunnies which appeared in your basket year after year while your sister got the chocolate ones.  "We thought you liked them!"  "No!"  

Bake until blondies are set in center, about 30-35 minutes. 
Cool completely in pan on wire rack (good luck, reasoning it is now time for fruit after all that chocolate)

4. Grasping overhanging foil on opposite sides of pan, lift out blondies and place on cutting board. Cut into 16 squares and serve.

For easier cutting, cover and refrigerate blondies for at least 1 hour before slicing into bars. 
(If you can wait!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Flowers

Are not flowers the stars of the earth?  Are not our stars the flowers of heaven?"
-  Clara L. Balfour

Netflix Stars - The Vow

1.5 stars - "The Dud"   The only parts that were cute were the wedding ceremony and vows, and Channing's behind.   Other than that, the script from real life to movie screen lost our connection.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Bigelow Pomegranate Black Tea
Cost: $2.49 at Kroger and HEB
Number of teabags: 20
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:  Black
Steeping time: 1-2, I did 3 minutes
Add ins:  CBTL's Fat free/Sugar free Vanilla powder.  Also with just a touch of Stevia.  All good.
Teabag fragrance: Indiscriminate yummy fruity.
Ingredients: Black tea, natural apple and pomegranate flavors, licorice root, hibiscus, rose hips and pomegranate peel.
Opinion:  I needed an afternoon pick me up, and herbal/green/white teas were not going to cut it.  This definitely helped.  It is a little unusual to find pomegranate and black tea together.  Good thing I found this.   The apple flavor mellowed the pomegranate so it wasn't so "pomegranate-y" and the licorice provided a nice kick to boost the caffeine re-energization to carry on with the rest of the day.  Plus you get the bonus of the pomegranate's current super fruit status.  All good.
Rating: 3.75

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Nick Drake - "Northern Sky" - 3:44
Serendipitous it keeps popping up on my rotation?
Haha, it was the closing song from "Serendipity" - a pretty good movie and one of my favorite words!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

May 20/June 9
40% off Gutermann thread
30% off Gingher scissors (and rotary cutters/blades!)

Memorial Day Sale - May 25/28
Simplicity - 5 for $5
50% off all buttons

May 30/June 3
McCall's - $1.99
Vogue - $3.99

June 7/9 
Butterick $1.99

Netflix Stars - Friends With Benefits

4.5 stars - Cute and funny, yet touching movie.  Great chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis.  Love all the supporting characters and cameo appearances, too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Friday Flowers - After Mother's Day edition

Seeing double, half off!
How could I refuse this deal - 4 orchid stems for only $4 - after Mother's Day sale at Kroger?
And how much fun did I have trying to take this photo in the bathroom?!

Kitchen Garden - May 2012

My purple basil reseeded and landed in front of the border this year, so I planted flowers where they used to be.  It is nice to see a touch of color and variety, and so far these seem to be doing quite well.  The purple oxalis and "Midas Touch" gold lantana not only survived the summer drought, but wintered over and came back with a vengance.  The red are salvia and the white flowers, angelonia (which is also called Summer Snapdragon)

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

EMF - "Unbelievable" - 3:30
Fun and fast for skating and swimming!  Whee!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Netflix Stars - Tower Heist

5 stars!  We really enjoyed this movie!  Well written and funny.  Great all-star cast, too.  I think this is another case of doing better in DVD versus the theaters.  It didn't last long in our local ones.  Give it a try!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I Love Lilacs!

"In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
with many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle - and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break."
-  Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Pretty poster this year!
My two Rochester friends, Donna and Lori, sent me lilac photos, my favorite flower.  Highland Park in my hometown of Rochester, NY  has the world's largest Lilac Festival, going on now May 11-20

Begin each day. . .

Nice sentiment, and the colors are pretty, too!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Vive La France!

Fill it up!
Central Market is celebrating France this month, May 9-22.  Check out these two cool bags for only $2.99 each.  I love red and turquoise together, and this design on the side was a pretty surprise.  The red plastic'd bag also comes in orange and yellow with different designs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Tea Forte' White Ginger Pear

Cost: I can't remember exactly, I want to say around $6.99 at Central Market
Number of teabags: 16  (regular teabags, not the pyramid style shown on the website)
Caffeine: Very little
Type of tea: White
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Add ins:  OK as is first sip, I tapped a bit from a packet of Stevia to try and bring out the pear a little bit more.  It helped, but not much.
Teabag fragrance: Ginger
Ingredients: Organic white tea, organic lemon balm leaves, organic blackberry leaves, organic ginger root, natural pear flavor, natural apple flavor and organic mallow flowers.
Opinion: While I liked the interesting combination of ingredients. I was disappointed.  It's not a bad tea, but I wouldn't seek it out again.  I thought there would be a stronger overall flavor.  I'm going to try two tea bags the next time*, but for the price which was a little high for only 16 teabags, this may not be worth it except to finish the box.  The ginger overpowers the pear, which appears as an after note, albeit nice but faint.  As far as an iced tea, it is just too weak to stand up to ice. *Update:  Two teabags work much better!
My conclusion is the Celestial Seasonings Perfectly Pear White Tea has a better pear flavor and a better price.
Rating: 2

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Wednesday Work In Progress - Burda 5223

"Old Reliable" Burda 5223 --  You can see the date I first made it, May 1993!   The original published date is 1989!  I really loved the old-school Burda with the green tissue sheets and you had to add the seam allowances.  A true testimony how sturdy and how much I miss that almost waxy pattern paper.   I have lost track of how many times I've sewn this kimono wrap robe pattern for my hubby in all types of fabric - including cottons, fleece and knits.  (click here for a link to some of them) The cotton seersucker fabric was on sale at Jo-Ann's a few weeks ago.  While I love the pattern, it is a fabric hog - I need 5 yards!  And I usually get 5 1/2 especially in cotton's narrower fabrications and shrinkage.  The sleeves are usually wider than the fabric, and they alone crunch up almost a yard right there.

"This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you"

From "The Gift"

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Jack Johnson & Eddie Vedder - "Constellations (Live)" - 3:30

Reality Bites

What it is supposed to look like!
This is the recipe I saw on page 75 when I bought the new Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast 24/7 cookbook the other day at Costco.

Step 1:  Don't use French bread the recipe calls for and instead bolillo buns.
Trim off tops and bottoms and think this is a good substitute.  Pat self on back for using a couple of whole wheat ones!
Step 2:  Quick, think!  BAKED French/Bolillo Toast!
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, until slightly crunchy on top.

Her heart is in the right place!
Step 3:  Top with remaining apples and sauce.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar (just like the cookbook picture, which is the only resemblance to the pictured recipe) and eat!

Ready to eat!
Overall, a great save.  I will probably purposefully make it this way again.  Especially in the Chantal heart-shaped baker, I think it actually looks pretty.  And delicious!


Cinnamon apple filling
4 (1 ounce) slices diagonally cut French bread, about 1" thick
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
cooking spray
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1.  Prepare cinnamon apple filling.
2.  Cut a horizontal slit through the side of each bread slice to form a pocket.  Stuff 3 tablespoons cinnamon apple filling into each pocket.
3.  Place milk, vanilla and egg in a shallow dish; stir with a whisk until blended.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
4.  Dip each side of stuffed bread in egg mixture to coat.  Add stuffed bread to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, top evenly with remaining filling.

Calories 230, fat 7.9g (sat 4.2g, mono 2.2g, poly 0.7g), protein 6.2g, carb 34.6, fiber 2.2g, chol 69mg, iron 1.4mg, sodium 259mg, calcium 73mg 

Cinnamon Apple Filling

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped unpeeled Gala apple (4 small)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add remaining ingredients, saute' 3 minutes or until apples are golden.
Serving size 5 tablespoons

Calories 115, fat 5.9g (sat 3.7g, mono 1.5g, poly 0.2g), protein 0.2g, carb 16.9g, fiber 1.5g, chol 15mg, iron 0.2mg, sodium 44mg, calcium 16mg

Monday, May 07, 2012

Daisy, Daisy. . .

Give me your answer, true. . .

(I'm loving the new Picasa editing options!)

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Seis de Mayo

Meet "Pedro" - a pinata I sewed to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but I finished him the day after.
He's 5" tall and wide and adapted from a design featured on Feeling Stitchy by Mollie Johanson of Wild Olive. I enlarged and reversed the original drawing, using the neon bright Mettler Poly Sheen 40 wt. threads I found from the sewing room reorganization.  I still contend that the Viking Husqvarna 1100 makes the best and tweakable satin stitches (A 14-16).