Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Berry Beautiful Day...

Santa Barbara Blueberries

When I think of summertime, I think of fresh berries from the vine. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, yes, Yes, YES!!! At my childhood home, we had blackberry bushes that ran along the back fence of our property. I remember picking the delicate fruit from the thorny vines that provided a natural and delicious fence. Good times, good memories!

Today, I visited two U-Pick 'Em farms that are 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara. My first stop was at Santa Barbara Blueberries. Although the peak of the season has passed, there were still hundreds of sweet blueberries waiting to fulfill their berry destiny. I went up and down the rows carefully looking over each bush, picking and filling my bucket as I went along. I was told that snakes can be found on the farm, so I just whistled as I picked, hoping to discourage them from crossing my path. I am pretty sure that whistling is not a snake repellent, but it gave me the confidence to explore. When my bucket was full, I made my way back to the blueberry stand and paid for my pickings. Before I left, I sat down for a few minutes and took in the sights and sounds of excited children as they ran through the fields, discovering blueberries for the first time. So simple, yet so joyful.

My next adventure awaited me at Ladybug Acres, a rambling farm with an amazing bounty of produce such as raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, green beans and melons. Exploring this farm was like being transported to the Country Fair. As I picked raspberries, my favorite berry, I imagined what it would be like to live on a farm, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. I think the 'Little House on the Prairie' side of me would enjoy that life.

I hope to visit both farms again next year. For now, I look forward to baking delicious tarts, pies, cobblers and muffins, filling my kitchen with the sweet smells of baked goods. I will leave the jam making to my sister who lives in Oregon, where berries grow so naturally and beautifully in the wild.

I guess you can say that it has been a berry beautiful day!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Framed Wall Collage...

When I design for my home, I am drawn to a relaxed and comfortable look that expresses enchanted simplicity and whimsical mystique. I like to tell my life story through design, capturing memories in each creation. Staying in theme with my design style, I decided to create a framed wall collage for my pink bedroom. The collage showcases heartfelt memories of a European vacation I took in 2006. I remember taking each landmark photograph as I traveled through France, Italy and many other countries along the Mediterranean coast. Those precious memories live on in my mind and heart, and now in a collage I can enjoy and share with others for many years to come.

The collage is straight forward to make and requires no special tools. You can customize the paper and frame with embellishments if you would like. I thought about staining and stitching the edges of my paper, but decided to keep the look simple and clean, which suits me just fine.

Starting with 9 frames (8" x 10"), I cut coordinating card stock paper to fit each frame. I then centered and adhered each photo to the card stock paper using an acid free adhesive. Once assembled in the frame, I hung the collage on the wall in a grouping. Random placement would be cute as well.

Really, that is it! Give it a try. It is an easy, inexpensive and fun way to cover wall space.     

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crocheted 100% Cotton Dishcloths...

With each passing year, I become more connected to the earth and am inspired to create with my hands. I love to bake and cook, filling my home with the sweet and savory smells of homemade foods that come from my heart. I also have a strong bond to home that seems to grow with time. Although it is easy to buy what I want and need, there is something very special and personally rewarding when I make it myself.

Lately, dishcloths have been the object of my time and attention. It has become my work week project. A few rows here and there gives me creative expression and fulfillment throughout the week and in just a few days, I have lovely dishcloths made from tidbits of time.

I used Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn to create these natural, soft and absorbent dishcloths. The pattern is made using the Trinity Stitch. It requires very little in terms of crochet knowledge and experience. If you know how to “Chain” and “Single Crochet”, this is the project for you.


1 Skein 100% Cotton Sugar ‘n Cream Yarn
“H” Crochet Hook
1 Yarn Needle

Finished Dimensions

9 ½” x 9 ½”


Ch = Chain
SC = Single Crochet
YO = Yarn Over


Trinity Stitch:  (Worked over 3 stitches) Draw up a loop in same stitch previously worked in. (Draw up a loop in next stitch) 2 times. YO and draw through all 4 loops on hook.

Chain 38.

Row 1: Skip 1st Ch, SC in 2nd Ch from hook. In same stitch, begin Trinity Stitch (see above). *Ch 1, Trinity Stitch*, repeating from * to * throughout row.
SC in same stitch (last Ch). Ch 1, turn.

Row 2: SC in first SC (last SC in previous row). In same stitch, begin Trinity Stitch. *Ch 1, Trinity Stitch*, repeating from * to * throughout row. SC in same stitch (last SC). Ch 1, turn.

Repeat Row 2 for a total of 31 rows.

Finish off and weave in ends with yarn needle.

You may adjust the size by decreasing or increasing the beginning chain by removing or adding in multiples of 2 chains.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Black Bean Salsa...

Having had the privilege of growing up in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, where Old Spanish Days is an annual celebration and a taqueria can be found on just about every street corner, it stands to reason that I love Mexican food. Burritos, tacos, enchiladas, posole and tortillas...

YES please!!!

With a three day weekend and abundant sunshine at my doorstep, I decided to make my delicious Black Bean Salsa and served it alongside a freshly made basket of warm tortilla chips, topped with lime salt and Tecate beer. Absolutely wonderful flavors and a perfect January getaway to summertime in Santa Barbara. Life is good.

Black Bean Salsa

10 Roma Tomatoes, halved
2 Jalapeno Peppers, halved (for milder salsa, remove seeds and veins)
1 Yellow Onion, halved
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Lime, juiced
1/4 C. Cilantro
3/4 C. Black Beans, canned
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 t. Salt
1/4 t. Pepper

Place tomatoes, peppers and onion cut side up on a sheet pan, with garlic. Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree oven until carmelized, about 20 - 25 minutes. Place vegetables in food processor, adding lime juice, cilantro, black beans, salt and pepper. Pulse until desired consistency is reached. Serve with corn chips. Store in refrigerator. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fried Chicken...

This morning, I woke up to the beautiful sound of rain, which I absolutely love, especially on the weekend. Over coffee, I decided that soul food would fill my kitchen today. Deep down, honest to goodness comfort and a perfect meal for a cold weather day. Yes ma'am, fried chicken, spicy parmesan green beans and kale, hot water cornbread and my sister's ridiculously good apple pie would be on my menu this blessed Sunday. I once had a co-worker tell me "your fried chicken is so good, the chickens come to your house and say, fry me, fry me". Exaggeration, so be it, but I have been told that I make amazing fried chicken and I give thanks to Wayola, my sister-in-law, who generously shared her love of baking and cooking with me. My memories of her are forever etched in my heart. Below, I have listed "our" fried chicken recipe. There really is no secret ingredient, it is all about the oil type, temperature and cooking time. This is for you Wayola. I have made adjustments to my liking over the years, but you are the original inspiration.

Fried Chicken

Chicken, thighs and wings

Tabasco or hot sauce, to taste
Peanut oil
Seasoning salt, to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

In large bowl, soak chicken in buttermilk and Tabasco or hot sauce overnight. In large pot, heat peanut oil to medium temperature. Use enough oil to float chicken. In resealable bag, add flour, seasoning salt and pepper. Remove soaked chicken from bowl and immediately drop in bag. Shake to coat. Remove from bag and drop in oil to fry. The key to great fried chicken is oil temperature. Too low and it will be soggy, too high and it will burn.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Pink Paper Pagodas...

I love making cards, scrapbooks and creating memories through art. Over the years, I have collected a bounty of scrapbook paper that is now bursting from my craft room. Designing on a dime is easy for me and has become a way of life. Often times, ideas come to me randomly and when I least expect it, as did the pink paper pagodas. If you have been following my blog, you know by now that I have a pink bedroom in my house designed for the little girl in me, sweetly inspired by my eldest daughter. The pagodas were inexpensive and easy to make, adding color, texture and lots of love to my bedroom. And, best of all, I found another use for my paper.

So, here is how my concept came together...

First, I folded sheets of color coordinated 8 1/2" x 11" scrapbook paper in half, carefully tearing the paper into two pieces, each measuring 4 1/4" x 5 1/2". By tearing the paper, I achieved a soft, feathered edge rather than a hard, cut line. Then, I rolled the paper around a dowel rod, working from the bottom (cut edge) to the top (torn edge). Using a glue stick, I secured the torn edge to the paper tube. Finally, I removed the dowel rod, which left a tight and sturdy tube.

The rest is really quite simple. I formed the paper tubes around a square frame in order to keep them straight and just kept building up. Each tube was secured seam side down with a bead of craft glue connecting the ends. In no time at all, the pagoda was finished and in place in my pink bedroom. I added a glass votive and tea light inside for soft illumination, which gently peeks through the colored paper. Note: I used a glass votive that was significantly taller than the candle to prevent the paper from catching fire.

Okay, so they are not necessarily pagodas, but the name sounds cute, right?

Here are some other whimsical touches in my pink bedroom. More to come, with a full room reveal soon!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Every Tree Needs An Angel...

With the holidays behind us and a new year ahead, we are filled with resolution and hope as we look to the future. I would like to pause for a moment, however, to remember Ty, a special, once in a lifetime dog who was taken from our lives far too soon. This is for you little guy...

Dear Ty,
I love you to the moon and back. I put a picture of you on my tree because every tree needs an angel. You are the meaning of love and when I look at your smile, I am reminded that life is a gift worth living to the fullest, with an open heart and without constraint. My resolution this year is to embrace each day with a song in my heart and a skip in my step. I will accept and love my imperfectly perfect self because it brings joy and laughter to others. This is how I will honor your legacy. Thank you beautiful boy, "TY". 

I am smiling back at you...

To learn more about Ty's Story, please visit The Lucky Fox.