Tuesday, March 31, 2015

T Stands For Trying New Recipes

Hi Everyone! Quite a bit of snow has finally melted, but I think it is still going to be a white Easter this year.  As you may know, Easter is a holiday that floats around on the calendar--it can sometimes fall near the end of April, so this year it is an earlier date. Usually by Easter, I like to have at least the front yard raked up so it looks nice, but that won't be happening this year!

I found a very cool recipe book by accident while looking around our public library's website....
This is the neighborhood where my husband grew up! As well as having mouthwatering recipes (especially if you are Italian) from the different store owners, it is a very comprehensive look at the area. From the local church to the histories of many generations of families that have run the same stores....it is a gem to us. There is one store that we know the owner of very well--he was my FIL's best friend. My FIL used to take our DD when she was a toddler over to the store to watch him make the mozzarella cheese. Within 30 minutes of opening this book, I was scouring the internet and bought us our own copy! 

Here is the first thing I made...
Homemade gnocchi with a Mediterranean style sauce with olives and capers. My Mother used to make gnocchi (potato pillows) although she called them cavatelli which technically they weren't since she made them with potatoes.  Dennis & I were just talking about gnocchi since his mother made them too, and I was saying how I wanted to try making them.  After looking for recipes on the web, they seemed way too temperamental and complicated. I think some of the more well known chefs get carried away sometimes.  Anyway, these were very easy to make--yes, time consuming to roll and cut by hand--but that is some of the pleasure for me.  I can still see my Mom sitting at the table making these with love. The sauce was so good that I will be making it this Saturday night with manicotti (not homemade pasta) when our DD and her boyfriend come for Easter. Bleubeard and Elizabeth's T group will see my beverage that night was wine.

Do you ever read a book and love it so much you have to purchase your own copy?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

APC #27

Hi Everyone! I can't believe it is the final week of Claudine's Altered Playing Card Challenge! I am so proud of myself to have keep up and completed every single week!  A big thank you goes to Claudine for all the wonderful techniques and tutorials--I really learned a lot! This final week was about embossing; something I know I can do, but did not really turn out well on my cards.
One reason may be that I have a limited, rather old supply of embossing powder. Another could be what I used as the background.  I let them dry for hours and even gave them a blast with the heat gun, but....
the embossing powder still stuck all over the place on this first card.  It wasn't all that bad, but since I did not really like it, I covered it up as much as I could. The huge stamp helped cover up the worst of it and complimented the background color.  The shell heart was cut from a jewelry company catalog--it's funny, I never realized it was a mosaic of face parts until I used it in this piece.
I liked my second card a lot better! The oil pastel frames the stamps nicely and the cut out birdie I had sitting on my desk for a few weeks--he just jumped in!

Here is a quick look at all my cards together:

Thanks for visiting and all your kind words and encouragement during this challenge.  You helped me to keep going!

Monday, March 23, 2015

T Stands for Another Tea Journal Page

Hi everyone! Well, look at me...I am actually early for tea this week! As you probably know, I usually post on a Tuesday, but the link is open starting late Monday afternoon to allow those "across the pond" a chance to participate, too. Elizabeth is just thoughtful like that. Go here to see her post for this week and take a look at her awesome art and tutorials.
I had a chance to play in my altered tea journal. I was stuck for a good quote to use, but once I loosened up and decided it did not really need to be a "famous person" quote, I found just the one: "Life is like a cup of tea...It's all how you make it!"  I let the quote guide me and just played.
I used some torn mulberry paper as the background and then started adding whatever I came across in my hoard. The tea bag rose at the top left corner was simply made by cutting many layers from the tea paper (at the same time), rotating them and adding a rivet in the center with my crop-a-dile. I found a variety of directional words and decided to put a positive optimistic spin on all of them. My cup of tea today was French Vanilla Chai--YUM!
The opposite page holds the rest of the quote, as well as, another tea bag flower, and perhaps my favorite element--the key!

Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, March 20, 2015


I made it just under the wire again to finish my altered playing cards for Claudine's challenge. This week was eaten up by several full days out, so I was glad the theme was an easy one--monochromatic, which I know you already know means using just one color in various shades.  White and black are also permitted.
My cards are pretty simple so I'll only make a few comments.
This was one of the cards that I had created some texture on, so after covering with the lighter aqua color, I used my finger to lightly rub the darker highlights just on the "hills".  I did the border the same way.  My moose punch came in handy this week as did a piece of washi tape that is truly aqua but looks greyish in my photo.  I added some highlights on it with an aqua marker and also circled the quote.
A metal stencil, acrylic paint, and a paintbrush was used to make the sunflower design. It is quite messy when I removed the stencil, and I covered up as much as I could with my favorite white pen. The quote just came to me as I was listening to the weather forecast of 2-6" of snow today! Really?! I rubbed darker green around the card's border with my finger as I did on the first card but neglected to take a photo.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy First Day of Spring! Have a happy creative weekend everyone!

Friday, March 13, 2015

APC #25

Hi Everyone! It has been a ridiculous week here of internet connectivity problems in the part of the house where my laptop resides, which I hope are all sorted out now.  In the end we upgraded our internet to the highest speed for a smaller payment for month (figure that one out!) and added a signal booster.  That kept me from visiting much this week--I'll try to catch up over the weekend, but for now here are my altered playing cards for this week's challenge.
I wound up having a lot of challenge with this set of cards, mainly because I was again substituting what I had in my stash for what Claudine used. She used glossy paper this week with reinker ink to make awesome backgrounds. I used:
because it was the only glossy paper I had other than some blank glossy cards that I wanted for their original purpose. They were also rather thick.
Since I was using some kind of "generic liquid color" (not sure if it is ink or dye) that I had available in 3 colors, I decided to go with a floating medium since I was not sure alcohol would work.
I came out with two nice papers to use, along with a few book pages to use in later art. What I did not realize is that if you swipe through the paint with the glossy side of this paper, it does not dry. No really, not by the next day, and not even after I smooshed a lot of it off making a pattern.  I found this out because I actually used what I thought was the wrong side when I made the green one. So I remade the red one, seen above and glued them to my playing cards.
For this first card, I pretty much followed Claudine's technique, trying to make stenciled stars with my not dark enough ink pad ink. A little outlining later and at least I knew where the stars were.  The houses were cut from various scrapbook paper and doodled. Despite pressing the papers between books, I still could not get them to apply to the cards and stay flat.
The wrinkles are more evident in this second card.  At this point I was so frustrated with all the time spent working on the internet that I just wanted to get the card done.  Some hasty grass was drawn, bugs outlined, washi tape applied and then the frog. The frog is a rub on--an old one I might add that I had the good sense to try to rub on a piece of white paper that I planned to fussy cut and glue on.  No amount of rubbing made it come off so in the end I just cut around it and glued it on with gel medium. Since the visible side is actually the one that would be adhered to the paper I plan to put another coat of gel medium just over the frog so hopefully it won't come off or stick to anything.

Phew! What a week! Thanks for stopping by and sticking with this long-winded post! Have a happy creative weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

More Tea Journal on T Day

Hi Everyone! It seems like we might have turned the corner on our weather here.  It has warmed up nicely so far, and I can smell Spring in the air.  I've been inspired by butterflies this week and had a chance to work in my Tea Journal again.  I may have gotten a little carried away....
Pink is not usually a color I craft with, but I built this spread around using the checkerboard background on the left side.
This was a lovely piece of artwork that I received in a giveaway about 4 years ago.  The artist created this piece by handwriting my choice of words and weaving it together with my choice of color.  I chose our wedding song and was really happy with how it came together.
Some of the paint from the previous page leaked over so I attached two butterfly stickers that just happened to have the same color, and it almost looks like it was meant to be there.
The other side of the spread holds the quote by Balzac, some herbal tea wrappers, flowers, and more butterflies!

Once I got started with the butterflies, I kept going and made some beaded ones this week, too!
A fantasy butterfly in black, lavender and aqua.  I guess the colors in the tea journal were reflected in this butterfly as well.
And, a monarch butterfly!

Thanks for stopping by today! I'm joining up with Bleubeard and Elizabeth for T Today. Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

T Stands For Tea in the Afternoon

Hi everyone! I switched things around and had to post my T Stands for Tuesday this afternoon since I was out running some errands this morning before the next batch of weather hits us.  Can you believe this winter? We had another 8" this past Sunday, and this afternoon the next storm of snow, then sleet, then rain, then back to snow again is supposed to start any minute and last until Thursday.  Totals? Glad you asked! Another 4-6"!
We are running out of places to pile this mess!

Anyway it is a good afternoon to sit down with a cup of tea:
All the flavor and none of the calories that are in those wonderful Samoa Girl Scout Cookies.  My DD and I came across this tea while she was home on Saturday and we decided to give it a try. It has good flavor without tasting artificial.

Since I finished my DD's hat and scarf while she was home, I'll be working on my scarf this afternoon.  Some of you might remember that this is the recycled silk yarn that I spoke about in previous posts.
Well, not the exact same yarn.  I was having breakage issues and so wrote the the company, Mango Moon Yarns, for advice. This excerpt from their website explains their mission, " At Mango Moon, we think knitting should be fun, and that we should try to leave the world a little better than we found it. We work with the Nepali Women’s Empowerment Group and a spinners’ co-op in Indonesia to bring you yarns that are colorful and fun, and that help improve the lives of the artisans who spin it."

Apparently, the (expensive) yarn that I had picked up at an Estate sale was at least 15 years old!  The owner, who had actually taken over the company from the original owner made it her mission to make me happy.  She not only contacted me personally, but she replaced my old, sad yarn with this new yarn at no charge! That is great service and the measure of a good company in my opinion! They offer yarn, kits, supplies, and patterns--some of them free.  The yarn is top of the line, and if you are looking for excellent quality and service, you may want to visit their site.
Here is how my drop stitch scarf looks so far!

Disclaimer: Although I did receive free replacement yarn, it was not in any way contingent on a blog post. This was solely my idea and my way of thanking the owner, Laurie Cook, for her kindness and generosity. Too many times we only hear about complaints; I like to give praise where due, too.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like to see what everyone else is up to, visit our host, Altered Book Lover for the links.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Second look on the Second

Time for another second look on the second. This post was titled "The splendor of Switzerland!" and originally posted on 8/27/07.  This was the year our family went on a huge European trip, visiting 10 countries in 24 days.  These are some of my favorite posts and I hope to share a few more of them. Considering we received yet another 6+ inches of snow between yesterday and last night, I enjoyed looking back through these vacations posts. Thank you Bleubeard and Elizabeth for hosting.

Ah, Switzerland, a place that was easy to fall in love with!

Our first stop was a visit to the Lion Monument in Lucerne. It honors fallen Swiss Guard soldiers who were protecting King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and their children from angry mobs trying to storm the palace. Unfortunately, hundreds of soldiers were killed, and the royals had already left the palace. Notice the Swiss Cross on the shield by the lion's head. It is at the same time a beautiful and heart-wrenching tribute.

We also passed near the town which traditionally fills the ranks of the Swiss Guard. Everywhere we turned there was so much to learn. For example, there were several factions of Swiss Guard-bodyguards, mercenary,palace guards, etc., all known for their discipline and fierce loyalty to their employers. Only the Papal Swiss Guard remains today. Later on in the trip, we did see two in their red,gold & blue striped traditional uniforms at the Vatican.

En route to our hotel, we had a quick stop at the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen. If I remember correctly, these are the largest falls in Europe. They are still dwarfed by Niagara Falls in upstate New York!

On to Engleberg, a beautiful ski resort town. It is impossible to express how beautiful it was to walk out onto our terrace at our hotel and have the massive snow covered mountains right there! Actually, they were many miles away, but their size made them appear close. If you looked in one direction, you could see a cog railway going up the mountain. You can just see the red car in the 4th photo. I assume this was to allow people to get to homes in the foothills. Another direction gave stunning views of the mountains and ski lifts--not operating in July, of course! I have to mention that on the way there, we passed through towns where every house had window boxes overflowing with flowers--mostly geraniums which they say repel the mosquitoes that are common in this area.

Thanks for visiting today! It is always fun to reminisce and look back on favorite places and projects.