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Friday, December 11, 2009

Suncatcher Tissue Leaves

I made these "leaves" for window hanging with my son's 1st grade class.   I'm thinking I'll make similar ones in ornament shapes for Christmas.  They are super simple to make.  Just place cut up tissue paper on one half of a sheet of clear contact paper (sticky side) and fold over the other half.  I used a mixture of regular tissue paper and shiny celophane.  Cut out the shape.  Punch a hole and add string!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Like Mother Like Daughter

I walked in my studio workspace yesterday and found my 3 year old playing "artist."  My first instinct was to panic thinking she had actually opened my paints and was painting on something.  Once I got over that I was so proud (hehe).  I guess it's true what they say "like Mother like Daughter."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good Ole' Chicken Soup

I've been making different variations of this chicken soup for years.  I made this one a few days ago when we had a little blast of "cool" weather (below 70 is cool down here).  So yummy.
Saute a stalk of celery, 1 carrot, and 1/2 onion (because that's all I had), and about 1 cup of chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley in olive oil.  I pulled this parsley from my garden but you can certainly use dried.  If using dried, put in about 2 tablespoons.   Sprinkle with salt, pepper and McCormick All Purpose Seasoning.  (This is my secret weapon.  I use it on everything.)

Three chicken breasts (bone-in gives the best flavor but use whatever you have), salted and seasoned with the All Purpose Seasoning.  Brown the chicken breasts with the celery, carrot and onion.  Add 2 boxes (32 0z. each) of chicken broth.  I favor Pacific brand but use what you like.  Bring it to a boil then reduce heat and cook on medium-ish until the chicken pulls off the bone easily.  I usually cook mine for 1 1/2 hours or so.  Oh, and add some more of that seasoning (yes really) and any more salt and pepper if necessary.  Your house will be smelling really good at this  point.

I don't have pictues of the next step, but pour the whole pot through a colander sitting over a large bowl or pitcher and strain the stock.  Pour the stock back into the pan and bring to a boil.  Add chopped carrots and let them cook for about 15 minutes.  Then add half a bag of egg noodles - a cup of rice works well too.  If you need to, add a little more liquid.  Either more broth or some water. 

Boil the noodles until they are tender then reduce heat to simmer.   Add in the chicken (that you strained out earlier) pulled apart into bite size pieces.   Eat and Enjoy!  This is a basic recipe and I've mixed it up with things like canned tomatoes, hot sauce, vegetables for stew, and creole vegetables. 

Chest with red flowers-Homegoods

I saw this painted chest at Homegoods - love that store.  I took some pictures thinking I would paint my old  oak chest- of- drawers with a similar pattern to put in my entryway.   In a perfect world I would set aside an entire day of sanding, priming, and painting with all my furniture projects neatly organized on dropcloths in my backyard.   In reality I usually have a piece of furniture sitting in the yard half-painted for several days because I've run out of cans of spray paint and can't get to the store to buy more. 
 Oh well, it gets done eventually. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas decorating . . . where do I begin!

Thanksgiving is over (whew) and as much as I look forward to it I'm always exhausted by the end of the weekend.  Could it possibly be that my 3 & 7 year-olds are home 24/7, inviting family over to watch 3 different football games, and my nephews' birthday celebration are all crammed in a 3 day period? 
Anyhoo . . .

I'm ready to get the Christmas decor out and start some crafting, cooking, painting, and panicking!   My head is swimming with "to do's" and "to make's."  Let's see.   This morning I decided I would make a Christmas door mat similar to this floorcloth I made a while ago.   I'm feeling really ambitious! 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever

I made this for Thanksgiving dessert. It is a truly awesome cake. Thanks so much to my old across-the-street neighbor and good friend C.!   Also known as Morningside Mom. Recipe follows below.   Enjoy!

                                One box Devil's Food cake mix

1 large box instant chocolate pudding (or 5 single packets if that's what dear hubby bought)

4 eggs

1 regular size container sour cream, 1/2 cup of water,  1 cup vegetable oil

1 bag chocolate chips


Lick spoon of course

Bake in a Bundt pan at 350 degrees-50 minutes to an hour (depending on your oven)

Decorate!  I used powdered sugar for this one

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Leaf Painting

These giant leaves are from the beautiful Sea Grape trees around my patio.  They are the coolest leaves. When they fall from the branches and subsequently dry they are like paper plates - at least my kids think so. I have looked at them for a while thinking they would be great for making some type of stamp or print.  So yesterday I got the paints and brushes out and let the kids go for it.  I'm thinking this would look cool on a piece of furniture as well . . .stay tuned.

                                           Gather the leaves

some paint and brushes

Paint the leaves    

Press the leaves on your surface

Saturday, November 21, 2009

French Toast

I made french toast with the kids - this is their favorite part when they can break the yolks and just stir up a big mess . . .yummy.   We make a big batch and then I refrigerate the leftovers for school-morning breakfast. Just pop it in the toaster oven and it comes out great.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Children's Garden in Sarasota, Florida

This is such a cool place.   It's hidden away just on the edge of downtown Sarasota and is an actual garden that's been designed for kids (and grownups too).  There's a wooden pirate ship, a rubber tire pyramid for climbling, a big stage for performing, misty hoses that wrap around trees and pathways that lead to secret hideaways.  All of this in the middle of a huge garden.  

Just at the entrance you'll find a little shop with books and gifts and an entire room devoted to dressing up and children can choose anything they want to wear.  

On Sunday, November 22, is the Sarasota Annual Reading Day and you'll be able to visit for FREE and get a book for your child too.  I've posted the info below.

Nov 22, 2009 (Sun) 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

:: 3rd Annual Children's Reading Day at The Children's Garden
 1670 Tenth Way,  Sarasota Fl

This is a very special day where we promote reading with local children's book authors.  This is a great opportunity to have your books signed by your child's favorite author. Lots of family fun with tons of activities, stage events and food and drink. This is a FREE ADMISSION DAY to the garden. So let's unplug our kids and read and come out and support our local children's book authors!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Seashells and Seaglass Mirror

I saw this great mirror in the bathroom of a little art gallery in Venice, FL and had to take pictures so I can make one for my house!  (sigh) . . . one of these days.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fresh Produce and Pies at the Amish Market

Amish in Florida?  Go figure.  But it has proven to be a fascinating learning experience since we moved here to sunny Sarasota.   There is a small pocket of town called Pinecraft, an Amish and Mennonite Community,  largely populated during the winter months when they come down from up North with the rest of Sarasota's seasonal visitors.   They are well-known for their restaurants and produce markets. 

This is where we go to do a lot of our fruit and vegetable shopping.  Or when we want to eat Dutch family-style.  My kids think they are in some sort of theme park whenever we go so everyone benefits. 

Oh, and did I mention the FANTASTIC pies? Peanut Butter Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Banana Cream, Coconut Cream, Chocolate Cream, Mom's Egg Custard, Southern Pecan, Dutch Apple Crumb, Pumpkin, and Strawberry Rhubarb to name a few.   People reserve pies for the holidays and the pie window pickup- line travels out into the parking lot.  I kid you not.   I remember driving by the restaurant one day and wondering what all the people were waiting for?  Was a politician or celebrity visiting Yoder's restaurant?  No - they were waiting to pick up PIES!   See the Food Network video link below . . .

See the Man vs. Food Video here . . .

Friday, November 6, 2009

Woman's Exchange in Sarasota FL - Fantastic Finds!

Being a resort town for snow birds, Sarasota has hordes of seasonal residents with second homes here, which results in a large amount of extra stuff that gets sent to consignment and resale stores.  I've never seen so many goodwill dropoffs anywhere else. 

This is one of my favorite places to go furniture scavenging and get inspired. 

                                                          Great Birdcage!

HUGE Chandelier

Red Asian Cabinets

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Funky Sparkly Bracelets for Kids

I made these funky little bracelets with my preschool art class.  They are so sparkly and fabulous.  I am in love with chenille pom poms and pipe cleaners and if you are too, then definitely check out for the directions and some fun projects for the little ones.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Feather Boa

I made these little feather boa bracelets for Ruby's dress-up box.  I just cut it to fit her wrist and tied satin ribbon on either end and made a bow.   So Girly! 

Monday, November 2, 2009

New Orleans Style

I have to share a book I am in love with - Creole Thrift by designer Angele Parlange from New Orleans.  She is eighth generation raised at Parlange, one of Louisiana's most famous plantations.  New Orleans has to be one of my favorite cities - hands down. 
Originally I picked the book up from the library and then had to buy it.  It's one of those that inspires you to get up off the couch and do some eccentric decorating.  Who cares if you have ostrich feathers trimming your windows?  Being a born-and-raised Southern Girl I loved this book with it's southern culture, flamboyant decorating ideas, and the personal memoirs behind each design idea. 

Beach Towel Slipcovers

"You should start a blog with all this stuff" said my friend visiting during Adam's birthday party a few weeks ago.  She was prompted by the beach towel slipcovers my Mom and I made for my patio cushions.   I picked up a retro wrought iron patio set a few months ago that was white, rusted, and had faded & dirty cushions.   And, yes - they go right in the washer with bleach.  Quite important when you live in South Florida's tropical climate.

                                                               Yucky Cushion before . . .

                      A few cans of black spray paint and some white beach towels later and . . .voila!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Candy Fights & Halloween Wreaths

So I've decided to start my first blog the day after Halloween. All day has been a constant argument with my 3 year-old, Ruby and my 7 year-old, Adam about eating candy. The HUGE grocery bag of Halloween loot was tossed onto the front porch this morning- next stop the outside garbage - unless breakfast was eaten. It was eventually brought back inside in order to dole out an after-lunch treat and now sits on the uppermost shelf in my studio/office. I could hear my children roaming through cabinets and closets looking for it while I dozed off this afternoon . . .

Tomorrow will be "de-decoration" day for all the Halloween stuff. Halloween is BIG deal at our house - it is my favorite holiday for decorating. This year I made an impromptu wreath with one I found thrown out in front of my neighbors' house (yes I admit it). It was covered in "autumn" cheesiness such as fake flowers & wired ribbons which I stripped off. It now looks like this . . . maybe not the greatest thing I've made but not bad for about 30 minutes of work!