Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Work in Progress

Cool Moda fabric ("Happy Thoughts" -- Odds and Ends by Julie Comstock of Cosmo Cricket) purchase from Sewtropolis,(Yes, they do phone orders - I saw and fell in love with this on Facebook), ginko leaves applique designs from Mark Lipinski's Quilter's Home magazine, red polka-dotted parchment sheets from World Market for upcoming holiday baking gifting, Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing Kimono Wrap directions, smaller sized watercolor paper, Burda's awaiting shelving for next year's projects.  Oh and bells (!) from Paper Bear in San Marcos. Lots of ideas, little workspace!

Happy Halloween!

Boo! Chantal 2012 Warehouse Sale Dates

No tricks, just treats!
It's the 2012 Chantal 2012 Warehouse Sale this and the next two weekends in November.
Plus if you "Like" Chantal Cookware Corp on Facebook, there is a $5 off coupon for any $15 or more purchase!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Little Clouds

Happy 70th Birthday to Bob Ross!
Click here for a cute video.
We miss you and your happy little clouds, Bob!

(Photo from Willowfolk on Etsy)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Raspberry Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I made two loaves - one with the alternating flaps, the top is just the sides folded together lengthwise

Much easier to alternate folds than to cut in long strips and braid
Raspberry Breakfast Braid From the August/September 2012 issue of Taste of Home on page 61

I modified this to make it healthier and easier.  And basically because I view recipe directions as suggestions, or figure I can do better (or I goofed.)

To start, I used the Heart Smart Low Fat Bisquick and Neufchatel cream cheese and skim milk instead of 2%.  And reduced the amount of butter to 2 tablespoons  I also divided and made two loaves. not only to test different methods to enclose those yummy raspberries and cream cheese, but to make them more manageable to bake and store.  You could also take the opportunity to try two different fruits - for instance, make the other blueberry.  Or with peaches.   I cut back the sugar and oomped up the flavor with a sprinkling of Penzeys Vanilla Sugar over the fruit and cream cheese center before enclosing.   Instead of frosting, I mixed and drizzled confectioner's sugar and milk and topped with a handful of toasted sliced almonds.

I liked the idea you could use Bisquick and have it done much faster than traditional yeast coffee cakes, making this a great go-to recipe for quick weekend breakfasts.  Click on the earlier link for the original recipe, here is my modified recipe. . .

2 cups biscuit/baking mix - Heart Smart Low Fat Bisquick
1 package Neufchatel reduced fat cream cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/4 cups fresh raspberries
Sprinkling of sugar - try Penzeys Vanilla Sugar
1/4 cup confectioners sugar, with approximately 1 tablespoon milk to make a drizzle.

Place biscuit mix in a large bowl. Cut in  half the package cream cheese and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough milk just until moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 8-10 times.
On a greased baking sheet, divide and roll dough into 9-in. x 12-in. rectangles. Spoon raspberries down center third of dough; drop/add remaining cream cheese sprinkle with sugar.
Cut 1-in.-wide strips about 2-1/2 in. into center. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across raspberries; seal ends.  Or fold ends in or cut alternating strips and fold over.
Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly. In a small bowl, combine confectioner's sugar and milk to desired consistency; drizzle over pastry. Yield: 12 servings, depending upon appetite.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

Pumpkin-a-polooza continues this week with Twinings Pumpkin Spice Chai

Cost:  $3.29 at Cost Plus World Market.
Number of teabags:  20
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Just a splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss Sweet Cream turns it into a mug of pumpkin pie.  No fork necessary!
Teabag fragrance:  Cinnamon, allspice and pumpkin!
Ingredients:  Black tea, natural chai, cinnamon & ginger flavors with other natural flavors, natural and artificial pumpkin spice flavor, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove
Opinion:  Right after my first mug I went back to the Houston World Market store the next day and bought two more boxes (bonus I had a 20% off coupon, too!).  In the Houston Galleria-area store, the boxes are not on display as they are in Austin.  In fact, they are in the back of the store, tucked into the upper shelves, so look up!  And stock up!  This is the best I've had so far!  And a black tea chai, too?!  So bonus!
Rating:  5+

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy Food Day!

Today is the second annual Food Day!  A celebration of healthy, affordable and sustainable food.  Check the website to find events in your area, along with ideas for changing the way America eats for the better.

You can also follow along Twitter @foodday2012  #FoodDay2012 and Facebook - FoodDayEatReal

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Bars

They taste as good as they look!

Seriously, the recipes in Southern Living magazine alone are well worth above and beyond the subscription price to this magazine, even if you don't live in the South! And their November and December issues are jam-packed with holiday decorating ideas and even more recipes!   Here's another one that knocked it out of the park.

I used the Kroger brand of graham crackers.  Would you believe not only were they a $1 cheaper than the Honey Maid Low Fat version, but also had less calories, carbs and fat?!  It pays to compare and read the labels.    While still yummy, I found these a little bit gooey.  My pan was a few inches short of the size specified and I think that made it a little bit thicker.  I will try it again in my larger jelly roll pan, bonus it will make more to share!

Salted Caramel Pecan Bars, with the chocolate twist option!
Southern Living, December 2010

1 cup chopped pecans
12 whole graham crackers
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 10 to 12 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
2. Line a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil; lightly grease foil.
(Use the Reynold's Release aluminum foil and skip this step.)
Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in prepared pan, slightly overlapping edges.
3. Combine sugar, butter, and cream in a medium-size heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and pecans. Pour butter mixture over crackers, spreading to coat.
4. Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.
5. Immediately sprinkle with salt, and slide foil from pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely (about 30 minutes). Break into bars.

Try This Twist!
Chocolate-Pecan-Caramel Bars: Prepare recipe as directed through Step 4. Top warm bars with 1 cup dark chocolate morsels. Let stand 3 minutes, and spread chocolate over bars. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 5.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

PSY - "Gangnam Style" - 3:39
Haven't a clue what they are saying, but it's a good beat!

Watercoloring Class - Week 4 - Right Said Fred

This is "Fred"  I snapped his picture last year  at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  It was a cold, crisp November day.

Our class project and lesson this week was to work on landscapes.  Fred would be perfect!
Here's what I completed the first night.  The white/cream shiny stuff is called "Frisket"   It acts as a barrier to the other colors and helps to protect color already painted underneath.  This will keep Fred's feathers white!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cute as a Button...Ornament!

I found this at Cost Plus World Market in Austin.  $5.49 and I had a coupon!  I left the tag on it for the photo so you can find the section, "Alpine Workshop".  The "buttons" are inlaid shell/mother of pearl.  I will display it year-round in my sewing room, before and after Christmas.

I Can, Actually!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Love Is All Around Us

Another semi-regular new feature!

I love hearts, and it is pretty neat to be reminded that love is all around us if you look.  I like how they are even "holding hands".   This is an orange trumpet vine I snapped on a walk in a park the other day.  They always remind me of my father-in-law whenever I see them.  He was a very nice man.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Rooibos

Cost:  $3.99
Number of teabags:  20
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:   Herbal, Rooibos
Steeping time:  7 minutes
Add ins:  Just a  splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
Teabag fragrance:  Cinnamon
Ingredients:  Rooibos, natural pumpkin flavor, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg

Who needs a fork?  And crust?
Opinion:   This seems to be the year of pumpkin tea!  (Head's up and a head start for next week's review -- if you see Twinings Pumpkin Chai, grab it.  If not more than one box.  Check Cost Plus World Market)  First, you can't beat the price for this tea, and it is in those usually more expensive silky "sachets".  Very nice.  Then the tin.  Oh so cute!  I will be repurposing this in the sewing room and my Fall decorating.  It brews to a pretty reddish orange color and looks just like pumpkin pie when you add the cream.  Yum!  The added benefit it is rooibos tea, full of good-for-you antioxidants and caffeine-free.  And that is also the kicker.  It has a more cinnamon flavor and the rooibos does make its presence known, though not quite as astringent-y as some others.  This particular rooibos tea is quite mellow.  The pumpkin flavor is a little harder to detect.  It's there, but if you are looking for a nice/spice rooibos, this would be perfect for you.
Rating:  3.5

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Work in Progress

Partly cloudy
For a busy week, I made pretty good progress on the Burda 5223 robe.  All I have to do is add the bands, hem the bottom and sew the belt.
The colored sheets of paper are from the Target Dollar Spot.  They looked to me like good and versatile basic colors and patterns to add to my universal studio stock.  It's just a head's up to take a swing by there if you haven't lately.  The bins are full  right now with Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving scrapbooking and crafting supplies.

Wild Parakeets

Actually they are Monk Parakeets.  (And also called Quaker Parrots)
They nest usually in power line towers.  There are two nests within a few miles of our house.  We were lucky to see about 20 of them playing on the fence along the back road the other day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today's Sunrise...

...was magnificent and absolutely gorgeous!  People in the Houston area were taking and posting pictures everywhere.  I snapped these around 7:19 AM

Watercoloring Class - Week 3


This is what happens when you sprinkle table salt on wet watercolors!   I love the design it makes.

And then I tried sand - it not only pushes the color aside, but some stays behind, leaving a bonus gritty texture.  Totally random what it will do and where.
I also tried three different methods to make clouds - Wet on wet, wet on dry and lifting.  
Hmmm, notice they are missing from this post.  I need to try/practice those again.  You know how you can  "see" things in clouds?  These were no exception - "Looks like rain!", and "Is that New York State?"  
I will post them later along with other special effects we learned.     

And as you can see, we were also learning how to make black and compliments/tertiary colors. . .

Another practice paper!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Of Monsters and Men - "Little Talks" - 4:27
Fun and peppy song to get you moving on the ground, water and ice!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Moonlight Madness - October 14/20
McCalls - 99 cents

Hard to tell if this is Moonlight Madness or October 14/27.
It was on the back cover fold --
50% off all scissors
50% off all thread

October 25/27
Butterick - $1.99
Vogue - $3.99

Pumpkin Pods

I have no idea what these are called, but I thought they looked like pumpkins!
And very autumnal!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Flowers

I've never seen the Sonoma lily before.  What a pretty and fragrant Fall version of lilies in a creamy vanilla, chocolate and pomegranate color combination.  They look nice paired with last week's mums.
Update:  While they may look pretty, the fragrance after awhile is not.  Hubby came home from work and said the kitchen smelled like cat pee.  We don't have a cat.   We don't have these lilies anymore.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

10, 11, 12

Thank you, Lori!

Thursday Tea Time

This week - The Republic of Tea A Cuppa Romance Tea - Cherry Chocolate. 

Cost:  $11.99 at Cost Plus World Market.  It's a World Market Exclusive Limited Edition.
Number of teabags:  50
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Just a  splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
Teabag fragrance:  Cherry
Ingredients:  Black tea, sweet blackberry leaves, natural cherry and chocolate flavoring.
Opinion:  A poetic blend of pure romance inspired by chocolate cherry cordials.   Who wouldn't want that and to drink this?!  It has a really nice lingering cherry flavor. I was also surprised, and glad, you don't need any additional sweetener. And yes, it really does taste like chocolate-covered cherries.
Rating:  4.5

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Work in Progress

Add another notch to the pattern!
I've lost track of how many times I've made Burda 5223.    This cloud camo flannel (not fleece) from last year surfaced recently from my stash pile/box/closet.  The cooler nights of Fall and apparently last week's Butterick dress have reignited my sewing mojo fire.  The previous one is linked here   Here are the others.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Mark it with a B -- Baking Books

Costco Two-fer!

First, of course - Cooking Light's newest book "Everyday Baking"
$15.99 (published price $24.95) ISBN 978-0-8487-3441-1

Next, "Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook"
$11.99 (published price $19.95)
ISBN 978-0-470-874030-5

Besides my legendary Pavlovian response to anything Cooking Light, this book's recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less.  You've got quick breads, muffins, rolls & flatbreads, scones, biscuits, coffee cakes, cookies, cakes, pies, cobblers...  Doesn't the Cranberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake on page 176 sound good for when the bags of cranberries start appearing in the stores (I may even still have a bag in the freezer from last year, I better go check.  I don't think I want to wait to try it.)

And I've always favorited Betty Crocker..  I have several of her cookbooks, the basic ones which get updated every few years and she changes her hairstyle ones - Some of our favorites don't get carried over from edition to edition.  Of course, there are always new ones added!    But this book helps keep all good and yummy things holiday handy.  Appetizers, candy, bread, breakfast and main courses, desserts.  Even gifts from your kitchen and holiday decorations.

While I hate to push the season, I also like to prepare and plan.  We always try a couple new recipes each year.  I think I may find them in these books.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Watercoloring Class - Week 2

I love how this turned out!
By the time I finished the color wheel, I felt more confident with mixing the colors and water.

I even like and am keeping my color testing pieces!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Butterick 5744 Version 2

Yee Haw, it's Fall!
My second version of Butterick 5744
I narrowed the flounce to two inches so it would fit and look better under/over sweaters and jackets.  I think this is a great versatile and transitional Texas Fall dress, where our temperatures can zing from 90 to 65 in a matter of hours.
(I also finished it with two hours to spare before my meeting!)

Click here for earlier post tracking --
Sunday, Wednesday
Here's the first version!

I hope to make this again next Spring, maybe in a lightweight denim.  This is really a great pattern --  grab it at the next  Jo-Ann's pattern sale for $1.99 October 11/13.

The only thing I would suggest is adding about 1 1/2" to the center front of the bodice tapering back to the sides. Even with staystitching, attaching that ruffle hikes it up.

Netflix Stars - Mirror Mirror

4 stars.  This movie is:  Goofy and imaginative.  Per Netflix.  And me.  An interesting interpretation of "Snow White" as no other I've ever seen.  The special effects were pretty cool.  Stay with it, the casting makes the movie despite its craziness.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday Flowers - How Mumsie

It's a well-known fact as a general rule, I don't like mums.  But I thought these were unusual enough (two-toned!) and pretty to make the cut here for Fall.   This once.

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Columbus Day Sale - October 5/8
Simplicity - 99 cents

October 11/13 -
McCall's - 99 cents
Butterick - $1.99
Vogue - $3.99

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Trader Joe's Organic Spiced Rooibos Ruby Red Chai 

Cost:  $1.99 at Trader Joe's.  It's also available on Amazon.
Number of teabags:  20
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:   Red, Rooibos
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  A splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
Teabag fragrance:  Clove
Ingredients: Organic:  Roobios, cloves, ginger, allspice, cardamon, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Opinion:  Brews to a beautiful brick red color, turning a pretty peach color after adding the creamer. No other sweetener was necessary.  I can drink this almost as a dessert tea after dinner without having to worry about caffeine.  I like the fact this chai blend does not have black pepper, so it is very smooth and not bite-y.  And the addition of allspice is a nice touch.   I've already drank half the box already -- Apparently the word is out on this tea, when I went back to Trader Joe's (their dark chocolate caramel with black sea salt bar is TDF!  Look for it near the checkout registers.)  a few days later, the slot was empty.  Fall is here and this is the perfect seasonal tea to drink in and toast to the cooler months ahead.
Rating:  4

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


I'm starting a new posting series -- WTH?  Only on this blog, in this instance, it means,
"What's This Here?"!

I always have my phone with me and am always finding and seeing cool things to photograph.

I discovered this last weekend on the UTMB campus in Galveston, Texas.  I had no idea those red pods were inside!  Evidently the birds did!