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