Sunday, July 30, 2006

Vera Bradley

Have you seen these purses?
I know they've been around for ever, but their making a come back these days. I've seen lots of knock-offs everywhere too which are also very pretty...but something about the colors and fabrics Vera Bradley uses make her purses so beautiful.


Lately they peeked my interest so I guess that got me noticing them everywhere now.
Last week I went to find a birthday present for my SIL.
After hours of shopping and coming up with exactly natha, I happened to walk by crabtree & evelyn store and spotted these Vera Bradley purses in the window.
www.verabradley.com
Long story short, I got one for each of us. A shopping trip success in my opinion...

My Mom saw it yesterday and immediately said she needed one too.
I may have talked her into waiting until Christmas because that may be something SOMEONE could get her for Christmas...hint, hint! Hopefully she won't go buy one!
I think I may need more of these purses myself in different colors and sizes. I just checked out her website and her fall colors are yummy.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

whats your design sign?

This is kind of fun…I found this link on the HGTV website... whats your design sign…

http://www.hgtv.com

for me it says
August 23-September 22
Being the most logical sign, you desire an orderly space where everything is kept neat and precise. Shelves for organization are a must, but you also enjoy vintage pieces, light wood and glass accents.
Your colors of choice are light blues, yellow-greens and creams.

Considering what I just did in my scraproom, I think I now know why I love it in there so much.
I know I've posted this picture before, but it really makes sense now...kind of fun huh?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

its hot and Im grumpy, but its not all bad

Its been so hot around the country and I know I shouldn't complain, but up here in Washington there are very few people who have air conditioning or pools. Im not one of the lucky ones...
So when it gets this hot, and stays hot all night long...I get tired and I get cranky, my dogs get overheated and they don't feel very good, and we all are plain miserable.
Thank goodness its suppose to come to an end tomorrow- I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
But I have some good news .. last week I was contacted by Creating Keepsakes requesting a layout of mine for the December issue readers gallery- doing a little happy dance as this is my first time in this magazine, unless you count the Becky Higgins Sketches II book...
It came as such a surprise because I forgot I'd sent this in to them...yeah!
And, Im finally finished putting together my MMM contest entry. Whew! so many forms and finishing touches. I had to have my layouts printed at Costco. They look great. I can hardly tell the difference in the photo layout and the original.
So glad to get this boxed up and mailed off tomorrow.
Im in love with my required entry - This is why I enter these contests. Not because I feel I have a snowballs chance, but because it pushes me to do something I would have never done.
The required layout had to be along the theme of Celebrate life.
I had all 4 of my layouts done and couldn't come up with anything for the Celebrate life...I was going to bag it and not enter, then it came to me as all my favorite layouts do, with journaling.
I started journaling and the idea took shape.
I love how it came out. I hate hate hate sending off the original layout. I don't believe I have a chance at winning this contest, but I hope they publish this layout just because I want it back. If they don't publish it, they keep it :-(
I plan on making a duplicate if that happens....Its just too special to me.

Friday, July 21, 2006

mark the day

Yesterday was my blogs birthday and I thought I would post something to mark the occasion.
I took some time and flipped back through my blog, reading some of the posts from the past year. I kind of got lost in reading it and never did post the birthday post...
This is from my very first post;


This will be a little look into my life and my loved ones. A place for people to catch up with what I'm doing if they would like to. I hope you enjoy, stop by often and feel free to comment at any time :)

and this from Day 2


so here we are on day 2 of the blog ...
still wondering what exactly I will be using this for and what the heck Im
going to talk about that would interest anyone...

I cried as I read my feelings when Justin was going through his Chemo and when he passed away. I felt better again when I read my thanksgiving post, I was surprised to realize how much progress I've made against my new years resolutions, I loved browsing various pictures I'd posted through the year and enjoyed reading the comments from friends I'd met here.

And I realized how much I really enjoy this blog thing :-)

I've never been good about keeping a journal and if not for this blog, so many of my feelings and the events of our lives would have been lost. Im so happy that I started it now and am pleased with what I've gotten out of it.

So heres to another year... and thanks so much for stopping by!


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Don't you just love a good sale?

Since the past few days have been all about food, today I'm changing course back to my other obsession...scrapbooking. Or more specificly, scrapbook supplies.
One of my favorite sites for supplies is Down Memory Lane and Jill is having a super sale right now... http://www.downmemorylaneco.com/shop.aspx

Rush on into the DML store and grab up some goodies at awesome prices before they sell out. So far she hasn't sent out her newsletter announcing the sale so its just our secret.... but hurry!



And just because I haven't posted one in a while, heres a picture I took of Ethan this past weekend...
He's growing way too fast.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

summer dinner salads


Almost Summer Rice Noodle Salad!!!
So good on a hot summer day and the leftovers were just as good for lunch or dinner the next day...Rice noodles, napa cabbage, scallions, carrot, cilantro leaves and roasted chicken breasts.The dressing was so light and salty but sweet.I'm sold on using fish sauce even though it sounds nasty, its not fishy at all...the cilantro gives the salad a bit of zing which was really good. Click on this picture to enlarge it...guaranteed to make your mouth water :-)
We added some crusty french bread and a cold beer and its the perfect summer dinner. It is very versital...I made several changes. She suggests lots of variations, subsituting shrimp for the chicken, you can swap out the cilantro for basil, I left out the peanuts and the chilies but I added eddamame. you could just add anything in your cupboard to this...mandarin oranges, spinach leaves, blanched and slivered snow peas.
so, from Orangettes site to my table...
Almost-Summer Rice Noodle Salad

The recipe makes quite a bit of dressing, so you’ll have some left over; it will keep in the refrigerator for several days and can be used to marinate poultry, beef, pork, or seafood before grilling.

1 pound vermicelli rice noodles (roughly the thickness of linguine)
4 quarts boiling water
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
2/3 cup water
½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup rice vinegar
¼ to ½ cup brown sugar, to taste
1 to 2 hot chilies (red bird, jalapeño, or serrano), seeded and minced, or to taste
6 to 8 leaves Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded or julienned
½ cup tightly packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 grilled or roasted chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. (my box of rice noodles suggested to remove the pot from the heat when the noodles are added. Just let them sit in the pot of water for 5 minutes then drain-it worked great)
Drain the noodles into a colander, rinse with cold water, and then place them in a large bowl.
Place the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to mince. Add the fish sauce, water, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, and chilies, and purée them together. Taste, and if necessary, add more chile and adjust the sweet/tart balance. Pour the dressing into a serving bowl, and set it on the dining table.Toss the vegetables and cilantro with the noodles, and mound the mixture on a platter. Scatter the chicken and peanuts over the top, and serve. Traditionally, this salad is eaten in individual bowls, so invite your dining partners to scoop their own portion from the platter and dress it as they see fit. Serves 4-6.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ginger Pear Upside-down Cake



Well my cooking adventure was a success!
The cake was yummy. The taste was like very moist gingerbread cake with the pear adding so much to it. super good!
Here's the recipe if your so inspired... This was a recipe I found from that website I mentioned in my previous post.
I used a bundt pan rather than the springform one she uses.


Ginger Pear Upside-Down Cake




Adapted from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook

For the topping:
3 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
4-5 medium to large ripe pears, peeled, cored, and quartered lengthwise

For the batter:
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 Tbs peeled, grated ginger
3 large eggs
2/3 cup molasses
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a 9-inch springform pan, and line the bottom with a 10-inch circle of parchment paper.

To make the topping, combine 3 Tbs butter, ½ cup brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat for about 1 minute; then pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan, completely coating the parchment paper. Place the quartered pears on top of the butter-sugar mixture, lining the pieces up tightly in a decorative circle so that none of the bottom shows through.

To make the batter, cut 2 sticks of butter into 1-inch pieces, and put them in a large mixing bowl. Add ¾ cup brown sugar, and cream the mixture on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until it is smooth and a pale tan color. Add the grated ginger, and beat 1 minute more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low speed and making sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding another. When all the eggs have been added, slowly pour in the molasses and beat to fully mix. The mixture will look as though it is “breaking” or curdling, but don’t worry—it will come together when the dry ingredients are added.

In a separate medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to fully combine.

Alternately add small amounts of flour and buttermilk to the batter, stirring and folding with a rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are just absorbed. Do not overmix the batter. Pour and scrape the batter into the pear-lined pan, smoothing the top with a rubber surface. The pan will be nearly full.

Carefully transfer the pan to the center rack of the oven, and bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the cake’s center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cover the pan with an upside-down serving plate; then carefully invert them together. Release the sides of the pan, and lift it away. Gently lift the pan’s base off the cake, and peel away the parchment paper. Allow the cake to cool for a half hour or so, and serve warm, with whipped cream.
Yield: One big cake, likely serving 10-12 people

Saturday, July 15, 2006

a new obsession

I have a new obsession.
Im not sure how Im going to fit it in with my scrapbooking obsession, but I know my husband is so much more excited about this new one. You might have a hint of it from my previous post.

It all started with blogs...scrapbooking blogs.
You know those little links people have over on the side of their blogs?
Well I clicked on one , and that blog led to another that led to another...
Im not sure how many I clicked on before I landed on Orangette... http://www.orangette.blogspot.com/ .
Thats all it took. Dont go there unless you want to be sucked in too :-)

Her writting and her cooking is outstanding...
If she published a book I'd buy it.
So surprised to find she lives right here in Seattle so when she talks of places I know right were she's talking about. I love to read her blog. She's got tons of links over on the right too, but I could just read hers and be happy.

Anyway, I quickly found several recipies I had to try...no second thought to the fact they call for ingredients like light cream, butter, buttermilk...all things I usually avoid. But I could resist no longer.
So now I've been stalking these food blogs for a little over a week or more and have made some of the most delishes dishes ever... my husband is a happy camper. He has no idea whats come over me, but he likes it.
Today on my way home from work I stopped off at the store with another big list...



todays list includes ingredients for 4 dishes. A vegetable tart, a pasta dish, a cold noodle/roasted chicken dish and a cake.
All set to start cooking when I got home, I realized two items which I'd purchased were not in my bag. I called the store and yes, they'd left them out and I could come in a pick them up... not going to happen tonight, I just got home and its hot!
So I put everything away and we went out for fast food...can you say let down?
So today I started again...right now my ginger pear upside down cake is in the oven...made from scratch with lots of yummy stuff in it.
Mine is made in a bundt pan instead of a springform pan. I'd planned on making it in the springform but mine seems to be bent out of shape and Im afraid it will leak...not something I care to test so I tossed it and went with my trusty bundt pan. I love cakes cooked in a bundt pan. Love them. They're so much easier to cut and each peice gets plenty of icing if you put any on.
Im not sure which of the main dishes I'll be making for dinner, but I know I'll have cake :-)
My house smells heavenly right now. Check in tomorrow and I'll post a picture of it for you.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Summer fruit

Im so in love with the summer because summer means fruit.
I love fruit. Fruit of all kinds.
I love to shop for it, I love to bring it home and wash it. I love the bright colors of it.
Every day I usually carry at least 2 kinds of fruit to work with me. One for mid morning and one with my lunch.
This summer Im having a little bit of trouble eating my fruit (especially apples) because of these braces on my teeth, but where theres a will, theres a way. If all else fails, cook it. :-)
This week I made cooked apples to go with some sausages we BBQ'd.
Then theres this...




Cherry Coffee Cake. Can you say mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?
Not so hard to make.
Cherry Coffeecake
For the topping:

1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups cherries (preferably red), washed and pitted
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
Thoroughly combine all of the topping ingredients in a bowl with a fork or with your fingers. Set aside.
For the cake:

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
Either with a wooden spoon or with a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.
Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the batter all at once and mix just until the ingredients are wet. Don't over mix the batter.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. The batter will be a bit sticky and might be difficult to spread but don't worry. Level it off as best you can.
Sprinkle the prepared topping evenly over the batter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
Let cool completely before removing the cake from the pan.
Enjoy!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest


Like about half the planet, we went to see Cptn Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest this weekend. Man I love this movie!
The costumes were amazing. The sets were just what youd expect they'd be...Johnny Depp does such a fantastic job with Cptn Jack again.

I've never been attracted to men wearing eyeliner before, but I'd run away with this Pirate... even with the bad teeth! Holy cow! This is one hot pirate.













A surprise to me was Naomie Harris. She really did a amazing job with her character. Loved her character. She plays a kind of Jamacian fortune telling swamp witch character. And after the way this one ended, Im sure she'll be returning for the next Pirates of the Carribbean. I think she has a thing for Orlando Bloom which should be interesting considering the relationship between Captn Jack and Elizabeth.
They say that Keith Richards will be appearing in the next episode, as Ctpn Jacks father - Sweet!

One warning. If your going to take kids to this movie, please make sure they're not easily frightened.
Its rated PG-13 for a reason people...its got lots of really ugly looking swamp creatures!
There was a couple who brought a 2 year old with them. The kid had to be carried out screaming.
Oh and to the guy in front of me with the cell phone ear thingy that kept blinking a blue flashing light for the first 20 minutes of the movie...turn that dang thing OFF.
This is why I don't like to go to the theater.
Only Cptn Jack Sparrow could get me there...arrrrrrrr.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In my space

Last night I finally got to spend some time scrapping.
Since I put my room back together and rearranged everything it was a little odd at first. Everything is in a new place but Im liking it. I think the fact that it was all different made me want to scrap something different.

So I started by scrapping a page about my new room, then I altered a little box I'd had sitting around for about a year now.
I normally don't ever put a pen to my layout. Doing anyting by hand is a sure way to mess it up. Im scared to death of doodling, stamping or any kind of paint...
Thats why this is outside the box for me. Doodling and paint...yikes!

Loved this little box before. Now I love it more. I think Im going to put inspiration ideas in it...I always think of ideas when I don' t have time to scrap. I think I'll jot it down on a slip of paper and tuck it in this little box. Then when Im lacking mojo, I can look though the box and see if anything inspires me.


and I finished up a layout that I'd had sitting on my desk for awhile. Loved this picture of the flower lady at Pike Place Market....

I seem to be stuck on orange lately.

Loving anything bright mixed with orange.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

summer means flowers!

We're enjoying some perfect summertime weather these days.
Love to garden and work in the yard as long as its not too hot.
Today I was inspired to plant my hanging baskets full of summer flowers.
I usually have at least 15 pots and hanging baskets full of flowers every summer but it just got too much to water them all every day and they dry out so fast when its hot.
I think last year I only had 2 pots of flowers and nothing hanging.
Today I planted three hanging baskets and they look so pretty!
I think I'll stay at just three so I don't have too much to water though...

I prefer to plant Perennial flowers so I don't have to replant them every spring, or worry about them drying out so fast.
As I was watering the front yard with the sprinkler last evening the sunset was hitting these flowers through the sprinkler...I had to run and get my camera. I dodged the sprinkler but managed to catch this shot......
I ran around the yard and snapped a few other flower pictures in the yard while I had my camera out.


This rose smells amazing!!!

I love this flower, really I do... but its name really bugs me....gay feather.
Gay Feather?
Geez.........
Now why would you name a flower that!

Friday, July 07, 2006

name change too


I've been thinking about giving my blog a new name.
Its not always about my happy mess and I think its time for a new name.
So I'm going to be revamping a few other things things, but I decided on the name when I saw this stamp today at Impress.
and so it is...about My life's simple pleasures.
And today the clouds of the past few days have cleared away and the sun is shinning. Its friday, and today my simple pleasure is Philly swirl Italian Ices. So good. So simple :-)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

s'mores


the perfectly toasted marshmallow...
melted herseys chocolate...
Graham Crackers...
mmmm...
S'mores around the fire on 4th of July.
Lots of campfire stories, laughs, family.
Doesn't get any better.
Hope you had a wonderful day with family and fun

Monday, July 03, 2006

New banner!!!

Im excited to finally have taken the time to put up a new banner.
I was really getting tired of my old one but completely forgot how to change it.
So today I figured it out and stockpiled a few while I still remember how to do it...
This one is the lavendar festival here in Washington.
Beautiful fields of lavendar and the smell is amazing.

Not a lot going on right now thats blog worthy so I'll just leave you with a picture or two.
I promised Maria I would try to do better at this so here I go :-)

Last weekend I got my Ikea shelf put together so started loading it up.
It makes me happy to have my stuff unpacked and within reach again.



















And I picked up this little chalkboard/corkboard at Joannes for $3.00
Added some paper and a flower and a few luggage tags. I plan to keep track of some deadlines with this...I hope. But it looks pretty even if it doesn't make me organized huh?