Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thinking About Christmas?


OK, I can hear all the sounds of discomfort now, all the oh no's, and all the gasps. After all, it's only late August. But I would also imagine there are a lot of you out there that think there isn't enough time between now and then. Many of my friends are preparing for Holiday craft shows, and some are making Christmas presents and tucking them away.

I personally fall into both categories. I don't do Holiday craft shows but I've been working on some new Christmas pattern designs to introduce in my shops. I'm also working on a new free blog tutorial that would be cute for decorating, or gift giving. I've also got a little start on some gift making.

It seems as though my Internet life has taken a backseat for a while. My blog posts are further apart, and I rarely make to the Etsy teams. As for facebook, my business fan page is pretty much non-existent, and my personal one I just hop on occasionally to see if there are any new pictures from family and friends. 

So, how do you all feel about Christmas? Are you like me and think we need more time between now and then, or are you just waiting for the season?

Photo, bottom left: That quilt was just waiting to be hung on the wall. Yes, I waited until Bubba's nap was over.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Make Your Own Instant Mixes


 Brian and I love our banana nut muffins! While I watch the fat and calories, he's more into watching the salt and sugar. They really don't take very long when making them from scratch but when you are a busy person, you want to make them even faster! Especially when you want to throw in a batch so you can have one before leaving the house for work at 6:45 a.m.

I've thrown the dry ingredients together many times the night before so it would be quicker in the morning. I recently got this idea to make up several Ziplock bags of the dry ingredients, mark them, and store them in an air-tight container. This has worked so well! I always have ripened bananas in the freezer. I just put them in the microwave for a couple minutes on a very low (about 20%) power. Simply add the moist ingredients, and they can be thrown together in about 5 minutes, and cleanup is next to nothing.

This will also works well with cookie recipes, brownie recipes, and quick bread recipes. Between making up the bags and cleaning the mess, it took less than 45 minutes to make up four bags of his, and four bags of mine.

I recently posted my low-fat banana chocolate chip muffin recipe here at my blog. The link is here if you missed it.

If anyone is diabetic or has a loved one that is, I'll share the sugar free banana chocolate chip muffin recipe in the near future. Just let me know in the comments.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Walk in the Country


I love weekends! One of our favorite ways to spend quality time together is by taking our hikes and walks. We didn't feel like hopping in the car and driving to the Dunes or other trails, so we took a walk on one of our favorite routes near our home. This particular one is about a four mile walk. It takes us an hour to complete which is exceptional since some of the roads take us up some steep inclines. We live in a tiny little subdivision surrounded by country roads. This walk has lots of greenery and barns. There are also some beautiful properties where you see rolling hills between and behind the homes. 

If we take the roads to the west side of our home we will walk past farms where we will see horses and cows. Maybe we'll do those next.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Craft & Sewing Tip - Don't Rush!


It's probably one of the first things we learn but it's also the mistake we make most often. The photo above shows what can happen when we rush. I remember the moment exactly.

I thought I'd quickly finish up some bags while waiting for our homemade pizzas to bake. Yes, mine was healthy. Anyway, all I had to do was add the embellishments after they were completed. It was the final step. I grabbed my paint and didn't shake it very well, I didn't have much time, because I was in a hurry. I also didn't take the time to test the paint on some scrap fabric before applying it on my little bags. BIG MISTAKE! Had I waited until after dinner when I wasn't so rushed, I would not have ended up with the face you see on the ghost to the left. Needless to say, I had to make another bag, with another hand appliqued ghost later that evening. So my rush to finish the job quickly actually took about an extra hour and a half.

Have you ever flubbed like that because you were trying to SAVE time?

Witch grouping in the image above can be be found in my "Halloween & Fall Graphic/Clipart Set" that is available at my Website, Etsy Shop, and Teacher's Notebook Shop. Links at the right.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How You Want It Honey Mustard Dressing


I call this recipe my "How You Want It Honey Mustard Dressing" because you can make it low-fat, high-fat, or non-fat by simply using the mayonnaise of your choice. I always use the Kraft brand but you can use any brand you like. I first came up with this recipe some twenty or so years ago when I was looking for a good tasting fat-free honey mustard dressing. I could never find one that didn't have an aftertaste, or that was even close to delicious.

I've made this all three ways and it's delicious every time.

1/2 cup of mayonnaise (regular, non-fat, or reduced fat)
1/4 cup of Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of honey
1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar (actually white will work fine too)
1/8 tsp. paprika (I don't measure, I just shake and taste)

It will be less lumpy if you whisk your Dijon mustard and your honey first. Then whisk in the mayonnaise, followed by the remaining ingredients. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

SCORE! Mega Mushrooms


We made our usual weekend trip to the Dunes, but this time we changed things up a little. We decided to start on Trail 7, take it to the beach, walk the beach, then climb up the GIANT dune that takes us to Trail 9. What a smart move! Not only did we get a killer workout, I found that beautiful, big mushroom. I would definitely call this day a "Mushroom Search Success." The large one was at least 18 inches across. We found that one on Trail 7. I did have to climb down a little embankment to photograph it, but it was worth it. The smaller ones on the logs are actually in my own subdivision.

As you can see in one of the photographs, there was a big and steep hill we had to climb, and what you are seeing is only about a quarter of it! I have however, come to the conclusion that every dune or hill I climb, gets me that much closer to my goal of mastering Trail 8 once again.

I'm trying to remember to take more video lately. Photos are nice but sometimes it's nice to look at life in motion. Below is a super short, little video of the Lake. It sure was a nice change of pace to actually go down to the beach for a little ways. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Crafts 'n things" Feature - Trick or Treat Bags


The September/October issue of Crafts 'n things magazine is out. If you turn to page 16, you will find my Halloween Trick or Treat Bags. The bags are fully lined so they are nice and strong to hold lots of candy on Halloween night. After the night is over and the candy is gone, these make great little travel bags for kids! You can even make them out of plain fabric for all year round! Everyone who knows me well, knows that a it's my personal opinion that black cats are all year long! Just ask Punkie!

This magazine is also packed with so many fun Halloween and fall projects. I'll be heading out to pick up some polymer clay this weekend because I'm going to make the little "autumn owl pins" that I saw on page 31. I think I'm going to put magnets on the back of some as well.

If you want to make my trick or treat bags, super cute owl pins (looks easy too), or any other fun projects, pick up your copy at a magazine stand near you!

They also have a great website if you want to visit it:

Well, I'm off to hit the elliptical. Gotta get my 45 minutes in!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Beautiful Lake


Wow! What a stressful day! Instead of sharing all the details, I thought it would be fun to participate in Wordless Wednesday, and share a picture of something that reminds me of a happy time.

Above is a photo of a lake that we passed on our drive through the mountains. We were leaving Yosemite National Park (for my daughter's wedding) and heading back to the airport in San Francisco. I couldn't get over how blue it was.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thank You Pattern Testers

I want to say a big THANK YOU to my pattern testers! These five ladies took the time out from their busy schedules to test my most recent pattern which is now available on my website, at Craftsy, and in my Etsy shop (links at the right). The pattern is for three different drawstring bags that can be made in three different sizes. The smallest is perfect for a small gift, party favor, or treat bag. The largest would hold a nice sized gift. Below are their versions of my pattern. Be sure to stop by the blogs and shops of these talented ladies.

 LeAnn from Pasque Flower Creations



Kim from Tall Giraffe


Sarah from DeMoss Designs


Val from Valerie Daisy


 
Alexis from Hugs and Stitches




Friday, August 3, 2012

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins - Low Fat


This is one of my favorite healthy recipes! I've been making these for years. I can probably make them blindfolded!  They are so good and guilt free. They have about 220 calories each and the only fat they contain comes from the small amount of nuts and chocolate chips. But don't leave them out, for such a small amount, they add a lot of flavor! 

They also freeze very well.  As you can see, the recipe is so easy to half, which I do a lot. And if you're going to make them, be sure to eat one fresh from the oven. Yummmmmm! They are great for breakfast, as a snack, or with soup or salad. Enough talk.....

2 small to medium bananas
2 eggs
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. choc mini chips
6 Tbsp. chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 325.  Mash bananas.  Whisk in egg, water, sugars.  In small bowl combine flour, soda & salt.  Add to banana mixture.  Fold in choc & nuts.

Bake 25 - 30 minutes.  Makes 12

Images in the scrap page are from my Latte Cart Graphic & Clipart Set which can be found at my Etsy Shop or my Teacher's Notebook Clipart Shop.


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