Saturday, December 31, 2016

A fond farewell...

...and an enthusiastic hello...

It's before noon and I'm on my 2nd cup of coffee. It's definitely winter grey outside and all I hear is quiet with the occasional hum of a leaf blower in the distance. The house is on the chilly side for me but I'm feeling toasty thanks in part to my new faux fur neck scarf & knitted hand warmers. My heart and mind are in sync with a feeling of gratitude and contentment. Tranquility embraces me like a precious hug. I feel safe and secure within the walls of our home. I'm feeling all of this and more that sometimes I think my heart is going to burst. 

Except for a certain election, 2016 was a pleasant year. Unlike years past, there was no turmoil or chaos and no earth shattering calamities of any kind. I experienced moments of creativity and stillness, experienced far off Rome and discovered new to me local area attractions. Welcomed new self awareness that comes with age and aging. For all of this and more, I am grateful. 

Since I don't like anything left over from 2016 rolling into 2017, the photos I'm sharing are ones that just never made it to the blog...for one reason or another. 

My grandson, Erik...
(Big Puffy Heart)

I think in 2017, I'm going too make a more concerted effort to carve more time for creative play in any form...even if it's just 5 minutes. I always have the best intentions and want to do so many things, but get so overwhelmed that I end up not doing anything. Haven't completely figured that one out yet. 
Well, that's not entirely true...
Fear of not doing something right, or failing somehow manages to creep into my brain and then plays head games. I end up with all sorts of questionable self doubt. I hate that.
I am however aware of this..
..and awareness will help restore self-confidence. 

Thanks to a visit with my Aunt M & her recipe for home made Quinoa muffins, I now love to make and eat these goodies. 
Discovered a honey farm not far from here that sells the best flavored honey that pairs perfectly with the muffins.

I'm one mission closer to visiting all 21 California Missions.

For those of who don't know, I raised Monarch butterflies for several years...

 ...Well, I got to visit the Monarch's wintering site in San Luis Obispo during my last visit with Jamie & Erik. 
I can't help but wonder, if any of these 10,000+ beauties could be an offspring of any of mine.  
I was swooning just a little bit to among all these creatures!

I was given a homemade peppermint sugar scrub for the holidays...

I loved it SO much, I scoured Pinterest for recipes and made my own to give out as gifts.

There will more of this in 2017! 

I'm politically nervous for the year to come but I don't want that to inhibit me creatively in any way. I'm just going to keep doing what I love to do and I'm going do it with my whole heart.

I'm wishing you all a healthy and artistic 2017. I hope new opportunities take you to wonderful creative places.
 I look forward to another year here, with such a motivating community that keeps me curious, inspired and energized. 

Happy (2017) snapping!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday is for... cake

Baby it's cold outside...the sun is shining but the wind is howling and it's bitterly cold... 

...perfect baking weather. I was up early this morning and decided to bake coffee cake.
I mean, who doesn't love waking up to the smell of cinnamon in the morning? 

Austin and I have different recollections of when I actually bake this.
My version is that I use to only bake this when we had over night guests so we'd have something nice to enjoy with our morning coffee. Amanda crashed in the spare room...she's an over night guest...hence the coffee cake! 
His version is that I only made it when my mom use to fly out...which Austin says he can count on one hand how many times she actually came to visit. 

He's probably more right than me because my memory isn't so great anyway!
I do however remember his little face and him asking me if I was making coffee cake because he knew whoever was coming over was spending the night. 

Needless to say, Austin was happy, Amanda was happy which made me happy. Austin mentioned how special those memories of me making and him eating the cake are to him.

Are there better coffee cakes out there? Maybe... but I don't even care to try a new one when it's this one that's filled with priceless childhood memories. 

The recipe can be found HERE.
I added about a TBSP of sour cream to the milk for added moistness.
What special memories do your recipes hold? I'd love to hear.

Happy (Sunday coffee) snapping!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016



Ya'll, nothing says the holidays like the smell of cookies baking on a cold winter-ish day.
Last week, I made everybody's favorite...

...Mexican Wedding Cakes for my Mr.

Peanut Blossoms for Austin...

...Ginger cookies for Austin's girlfriend, Amanda. (and me)

Lordy these are scrumptious. Even though I'm gluten sensitive, I can eat one or two or 6 with no issues-Yeah, that's how that big ole bite got into that there cookie...and I finished it of course. Hey, I'm just a girl who loves to eat my props!
If I had one bit of advice for these cookies... buy the big sugar crystals. I've tried rolling them in regular sugar and it's just not the same. The big crystals add texture and a nice visual element.

They stand up perfectly to dunking in milk or coffee.

The best part? I've been told the cookies remind them of loved ones...

...THAT'S a wonderful gift. 


3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use Saigon cinnamon)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sugar crystals for rolling

Preheat oven to 350* Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using an electric mixer at low speed, cream the shortening & sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the egg and molasses and beat until completely incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt and add to the mixture. Stir until combined. Roll the dough into balls about 1-inch in diameter (I use a 1" cookie scoop) and then roll the balls in the sugar crystals. Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly with your fingertips. 
Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Happy Holidays from my kitchen to yours :-)


Thursday, December 1, 2016



My goodness, judging from all the blogs and IG feeds I've visited today, December really snuck up on everyone. I got that same vibe as I was out and about today. 
It wasn't so fa la la-ing and more like bah hum-bugish.  
I wonder if people are still distressed about the November election?

I know I woke up early today troubled about a few things myself. Those worries always seem bigger than life and made worse in the wee, dark hours. It was too early for the paper, so I made my coffee & sat in the quite reading e-mails. How perfect to see Michelle's December notes in my mailbox. If you ever need to get calm and return to center, think about signing up for Michelle's emails. Her tender words have a way of soothing me. She also offers wonderful workshops that really get you to reflect on the simple, tiny, everyday moments.(and some big moments too)
 I for one get easily caught up in the day's routine, so her emails are an important reminder to sit back, breathe and "simply begin." Michelle is big on making lists~as big or as small as you need them to be. I wish I could say it makes all the disquiet disappear, but maybe, somehow seeing all the "BIG" worries down on paper makes them...well...not so big.  It also helps to envision what you want your day, month, or year...etc to look like. So for this holiday season, I'm going to journal, make lists, draw, paint, take pictures, and take care to control me and my day and not the other way around. 
How do you deal with holiday stress or stress in general? I'd love to hear from you.

Happy (candy cane) snapping!

Sharing over at Tamar's today

Saturday, November 26, 2016

I've come a long way...!

It's cold, gray and the much needed rain is falling~I secretly wish it was cold enough to snow, but in reality I know it won't. I just warmed up my afternoon java and I like thinking you might be sipping something warm and toasty while you visit. 
Today, I'm talking cranberry sauce!

If you asked, I could never pick just one favorite Thanksgiving dish~I truly love them all. However, cranberry sauce is right there at the top my list. I scour Pinterest for new cranberry sauce recipes weeks before the holiday. I really, really like the recipe I've been making the last few years. I mean you can't go wrong with cabernet & a quick twist or two of fresh cracked pepper...It could have easily been the last recipe I ever needed to look for. That was...
 ...until this year. 
In Emeril's words, I kicked it up a notch!

What's great about this recipe is it can be made up to 5 days ahead so if it was awful I still had plenty of time to make my go-to back up recipe. I never gave the 1/2 cup of bourbon that was called for a second thought until it came time to actually stir it in~that's A LOT of bourbon! I poured in half, stood there stirring the bubbly, popping berries and said screw it...and dumped the rest in. Even though the recipe didn't call for it, I added the zest of 1/2 a lemon. I also added a good squeeze of orange along with with some orange zest. 
It was a little jewel at the table & it gets more scrumptious everyday as the flavors meld. 
It brings our turkey sandwiches sandwiches to a whole other level!

I was worried about finding frozen dark cherries as I've never had a reason to buy them. It ended up not being a problem and found them at my regular grocery store.

I have to laugh because as a kid nothing made me happier or more excited then when my mom opened that perfectly ribbed, jiggly, cylindrical tin can of gelatinous goodness!
Yeah...I've come a long way baby...
But hey...I wouldn't trade those days of innocence for anything.

Happy (cranberry) snapping!

Cranberry-Cherry Compote


* 20 ounces fresh cranberries
(about 4 1/2 cups)
* 10 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries
(about 2 cups)
* 1 1/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
* 1/2 cup apple cider
* a couple of good twists of fresh black pepper
* 1/2 cup bourbon
* zest of 1/2 lemon (or to taste)
* zest of 1 orange (or to taste)
* good squeeze of  1/2 and orange (or to taste)


Bring cranberries, cherries, brown sugar, cider, and pepper to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in bourbon. Reduce heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often~pushing fruit against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon to break apart slightly, until think and syrupy, about 25 minutes more. Let cool completely.
Sauce can be made 5 days ahead;cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

(Adapted from Epicurious)

Sunday, October 30, 2016




Every year, my IG/blogging friend, Michelle, hosts a wonderful week of reflection focused on gratitude. I've participated in years passed, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes quietly.  Either way, I'm always so happy to get Michelle's email letting her followers know about our time together-it always seems to come at a time when I feel like I need to regroup. 
Saturday marked the 3rd anniversary of my mother's passing. Thoughts of her never wander far from my mind. Somedays those thoughts are closer to the surface than others. Her last year on earth was pure hell and it traumatized my soul, my heart and my very being. 
It's been a slow but steady process that I've been trusting...

...and then there are days when Austin asks for pumpkin he does every year (so grateful he does.) I sift through my recipes cards until I find the one I'm looking for. It's all too familiar now...her handwriting...written in happier times. Her penmanship that's never deviated and so easily recognizable to everyone in the family. My mom and I loved to swap to recipes and on the days she is close to the surface, I'm ever so grateful to have this, and other small expressions of her with me. It comforts me and soothes the rough edges. 

This is not the first time a walnut heart has appeared on a finished muffin...
You can see for yourself here
It's a Mother's Love
So much to be grateful for.

Happy (grateful) snapping!

Monday, October 10, 2016

A morning with...

...the Gibbons

Groupon has become my new favorite app.
I find the best deals and it's where I discovered the Gibbon Conservation Center. The Mr. and I made the drive out there this morning not sure what to expect. I'm not particularly fond of patronizing places where animals are held in captivity. The enclosures are too small, dirty and impersonal. I do however like to support local groups that make an honest effort to conserve, repopulate and reintroduce an animal back into their native environment. 
I was pleasantly surprised at the GCC and what's going on there.

As you walk through the gates you are asked to dip the bottom of your shoes in a large pan filled with what I can only assume is an antibacterial/water mixture. Thats so you clean off and leave behind anything harmful to the Gibbons from the outside. 
We roamed around for about 30 minutes before the guided tour. The guide was very knowledgeable, engaging and funny. Gibbons are apes not I learned something new. 

The guide was telling us amazing stories about gibbons in general and of the families housed at the GCC. They behave in many ways like humans. She went on to talk about the gibbons very distinct songs. Once one starts they'll all start and the tour would pretty much be over because she wouldn't be able to talk above the callings and we'd never hear another word she'd say. But none of us were prepared for what came next. Pretty much on cue, there was a low sort of hooting noise. Then another...and another and literally within seconds there were 42 gibbons "singing" in tones and sounds that were nothing short of breathtaking. To say it was deafening would be an understatement. Combine thunderous, booming, roaring and powerful...then that might come close to what we experienced. We also learned that their songs can be heard 2 miles away! 

Gibbons can travel up to 35 mph and leap 50 ft at a time. 

I would have loved nothing more than getting a little closer to the enclosures to fade out the chain links but Gibbons' arms are 1 1/2 times longer than their legs so being any closer wouldn't be safe for either of us. So I tried my best to adapt and capture these amazing creatures that were beyond my lens' reach. 

What a thrill and an honor to experience a few hours in a day of a life of gibbons.

Do you use Group-on? What deals have you found? I'd love to hear.

Happy (find your group-on) snapping.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Good, Random...


Anytime you find yourself at a museum, especially a modern art museum in downtown LA, it's good, random fun everywhere you look. I continue my day-cations when I can as the school year is well under way, but The Mr. surprised me with a new lens that was on my short list...and what better place to play with a wide angle lens then a museum with lights!

It was high time to visit LACMA and these gorgeous restored Urban Lights. 
I left plenty early and was well rewarded! 

What are the odds, to be that one person in a city of millions that gets to play at such an iconic place all by yourself?

Oh and the lens did not disappoint!

I heard children playing here call it spaghetti but it's really  Jesús Rafael Soto's "Penetrable." It is described as kinetic and op art and is nothing more than 1000's of yellow tubes hanging from metal bars. It's really popular with the kids especially when most art is "hand off" and this is totally interactive.

The La Brea Tar Pits with its bubbly pitch are right next door to LACMA.  Fossils are still being excavated from Pit 91. 
You can walk around the park and watch methane gas escape and make its own "art!" 

I draw the line when "art" becomes...well...a 340 ton boulder that took 11 days for the 105 mile journey to it's final resting place...but does all this make it art? 
Michael Heizer and his "Levitated Mass" thought otherwise and it is a permanent piece for sure. 

I will say it is peculiar standing under something so behemoth knowing full well it's weight and size. 
I had another thought as I happily snapped away. Personally, I love being someplace historic and talking photos where there are as few people as possible~even though people can give the pulse and vibe to a setting. People distract me, from the view. Maybe it's a control thing. I know there are way more times than not when people and their energy are an absolute must in a shot. It's something I think I'll work on and get more creative in shooting.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about people vs. no people in a shot.

Happy Snapping!

I'm sharing over at Tamar's today

And Lisa's