Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Sweet Baby...and a Big Pot of Beans

Happy Saturday! Hope you're all having a wonderful day with family. We've had fun today--hardly home at all. I love busy days, but I DO love being home...especially on days like today. Suddenly, it really feels like fall! It's chilly, and even my cozy flannel shirt wasn't warm enough today at my daughter's soccer game.

Just got one project to share with you today, I've got more in the works (too many more!) but nothing ready to show you yet!

I love these new Vintage Postcard Kits from Crafty Secrets--what's not to love?!!! This one, "Baby Girl", is just filled with precious, vintage images. This one is especially dear to me--looks just like the cover of my old, satin-covered baby book. Wish I could find's around here somewhere!

I sponged the edges with my favorite "Vintage Photo" ink, surrounded the chipboard with pink pom-pom trim, added just a touch of Dazzling Diamonds to the star-shaped image at the bottom.

Here's a close-up of my favorite part--I just thought to add a little sentiment in the old-fashioned looking baby name beads and to put them on safety pins. Love the way it turned out! Then I added another vintage touch--those sweet paper flowers I remember so much as a little girl. I used to love these, and had a little basket filled with them.

Now, I'm off to fix dinner. Been cooking pinto beans today, and we'll be having huevos rancheros for dinner. We like to do breakfast dinners once in a while--a fun switch!

I'll share my Grandma Smith's bean recipe with you--very simple, and SO delicious!
Here's a young picture of my beautiful Grandmother--LONG before she was a grandmother... I just love this picture, so thought I'd add it here.

Ruby LaPriel Riggs Smith

My Dad tells me that almost every Friday, she would cook up a big pot of pinto beans, and then they'd have a simple meal of deliciously soft and warm corn tortillas, the beans and some homemade chili, which I usually prepare with it. I'll share that with you next time I make it.

I love cooking traditional family meals for my family--helps me to feel connected with the generations past. This is one of those for me--simple, but special, and I think of my Grandmother each and every time...

Here's what you do for some of the BEST beans you will ever eat!

Take a 4-lb. bag of pinto beans--rinse them well and add to a large pot of water. Add a fair amount of salt (a few shakes!) and let them soak, covered, overnight. As soon as possible the next morning, bring them to a boil. Add a stick of butter--yep, that's the secret! Then, just let it simmer till the beans are nice & soft. Heavenly!

(You can obviously use a smaller bag of beans--I just do a big bag as my family loves Mexican food, and we'll probably use the beans for 3 different meals throughout the week.)

My husband likes to take some of the beans, mash them up and make refried beans--I let him do this part--makes him happy!

Well, that's it for tonight. Hope you have a wonderful evening with those you love. I'll be back soon with something new.

***Funny how things all seem to be connected.....I was just reading over my post to see if I'd messed anything up in my hurry to get it done, and I thought of my Grandma Smith again...and remembered my Mom telling me this little thing... This won't be interesting to anyone else but my family, probably, but I really wanted to add this here.

I was the first grandchild born to both sides of the family--a big deal was made, of course! Once, my grandma convinced my young parents to leave me with her for a while & go do something together--don't recall what they did, but after they left, she called & arranged for a photographer to come to her home and take portraits of me. I have probably 3 or 4 sheets of proofs from that day--I love them! Here's one I'll post, taken on my grandparent's bed, all those years ago. They are both gone long ago, Grandma when I was only 3 1/2 years old, but I still have a little girl's memories of her...So a "sweet baby" and a pot of beans have a connection after all...and I started this post thinking they had nothing at all in common.....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Very Plaid Christmas

Just a short post today--about to leave for my daughter's soccer practice.

I participated in Splitcoast's Sketch Challenge again today, and had a really good time with it. Chose some beautiful Christmas plaid dp I ordered a few weeks ago by June Bug, called "Vintage Plaid", and used Night of Navy and Real Red cs.

This adorable image is from Crafty Secrets' "Christmas" Images & Journal Notes booklet--I realize I'm using it alot, but I just got it last week--I'm having fun! Added some lovely lace, this gorgeous antiqued trim I found a while back, and I used one of my Big Shot snowflake dies. Lots of my German gold glass glitter, an old brassy button, and that's it! Loved the rich colors of this one--fun to put together!

Hope you're having a wonderful day! I'll be back tomorrow with more.....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Favorite Brownies, a Snowy Morning & a Rainbow...

Good afternoon! Hope everyone is having a wonderful day!

I was just settling in to the quiet of the house after doing all my running to school and back (twice!)...making a card or two, when the electricity went out. It really is amazing how many things we do in the course of a day that involve electricity. I kept thinking, "That's okay...I need to do this anyway..." and would realize that it ALSO required electricity!

So, I resolved to actually sit & read, when the most horrid, piercing sound filled my house! Apparently, the smoke alarms need their batteries replaced! I didn't have the proper I went outside and tried to wait it out. In about an hour, the electricity came back on, the unworldy screaming stopped, and the universe made sense once again!

I suddenly felt like baking, as soon as it was actually possible, and decided to make our favorite brownies. I have never really been tempted by brownies. I used to make them for my family knowing that I wouldn't probably eat them. That all changed last year, when I decided to try this recipe found in a Gooseberry Patch Christmas cookbook. Oh. My!

There's really nothing else to say right now, so I'm just going to show you what they look like and give you the recipe. You won't be my friend anymore after you make these, because you won't be able to stop eating them. I mean it! They're almost like fudge...YIKES! And the frosting.....double YIKES!!! I thought I was done talking...


2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips (I just add the whole darn bag, cuz why not???!!!)

Cream butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl; add eggs and vanilla. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips; spread into a greased 13" x 9" baking pan. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. (I only bake for 20 minutes--kinda gooey at first, but they stiffen up--very fudgey and fabulous!)
(from Gooseberry Patch "Flavors of Fall" cookbook)

Now for the frosting--and this may possibly be the most delicious chocolate frosting I have every had. Really.


2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Melt chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; remove from heat and add milk and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar to desired consistency. (Thick, please!!!) Makes 1 1/2 cups.
(From Gooseberry Patch's "Christmas all through the House" cookbook).

I usually double the frosting recipe to make sure the brownies are covered to maximum frostiness. This is very important!


Now for things with absolutely no calories whatsoever!

I did this first card for a Color Challenge on Splitcoast. Never participated in one before--I'm trying to expand my horizons a little! This was a beautiful color combination, I think--Kraft, Mellow Moss, and White. I knew I'd seen a beautiful image in my new Crafty Secrets' "Christmas" Images & Journal Notes booklet that I thought would fit this nicely, and here's what I came up with:

I made the snow with my new favorite toy--"Snow-Tex"--basically textured white paint--to which I have to, of course, add glitter! So much fun, and it dries pretty quickly. Touched up the icicles overhead with my trusty glue pen and some Dazzling Diamonds, and popped up the two little birdies with the other half of the image from the booklet--a smaller journalling piece that I wasn't going to use, and I noticed the exact same two birds on it, so of course I had to cut them out & pop them up!

I got those two little antique-looking brass bells while at my Mom's this summer--they felt perfect for this.

Apparently I still have a little Springtime left in me, because for this week's Crafty Secrets' challenge at Splitcoast, I decided to use this image. It's from CS's "Childhood" Images & Journal Notes booklet--I've loved it forever & just hadn't used it yet.

Lori Lynn is hosting the challenge this week, and has asked us to "make it shiny!" Embossing was suggested, which I was going to do, but decided to gloss up the rainbow with Inkssential's "Glossy Accents" and then douse it with Dazzling Diamonds. Love the way it turned out. Of course, the colors in the rainbow don't show up nearly as vibrantly in the photo as they do in real life, but I'm happy with it!

Well, that's it for to pick up my youngest daughter then head up to Gilroy for my middle daughter's Field Hockey game--they are our big rivals, so keep your fingers crossed! See you all tomorrow.

Now, go make some brownies!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Soup to Warm Your Soul, Sammies...and a Card

Good evening, everyone! Just a few things today...been a busy for the week & a birthday lunch with my friend, Loretta. A good day!

First off, I have some soup to make you swoon! I tried this at a restaurant in Monterey that my husband & I love. It was so good that I took some notes in my little notebook, went home & tried to make my own version the next day. I have to say, upon a repeat taste at the restaurant, that I like mine better! It's easy peasy to make--seriously, maybe 5 minutes to put together, then just let it simmer till dinner!

Here's my recipe for TOMATO BASIL BISQUE:

3 large cans tomato soup
handful fresh basil
about 5 cloves fresh garlic (you can vary this depending upon your love of garlic!)
Fat-Free Half & Half
2 Tbsp. butter

Empty 2 cans soup in pot. Fill one can with water & add to pot. In blender, put 3rd can of soup and fill empty can with the half & half. Add hand ful of fresh basil and the garlic. Blend till smooth. Add to pot with the rest of the soup. After well heated, add 2 Tbsp. butter, and let it simmer away!


Next, we love this with it--my sister Becky's decadent ham & cheese sandwiches that she calls "SAMMIES"--here they are:

These are super easy to prepare, as well--the hardest part is spreading on the mayo!
Here's the recipe:

In bowl, melt 1 stick butter
add 4 cloves diced garlic
Heat in microwave until butter is melted. Add to this:
1/2 tsp. (approx.) Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
Set aside.

Sweet Hawaiian rolls are best for this, but any lovely, soft rolls would do!
1 lb. ham
1 lb. Swiss (my family likes Havarti)

Spread a bit of mayo (I use reduced fat) on each 1/2 roll. Top with ham & cheese, and replace top of roll. Put all "sammies" on baking sheet, and top each with the butter/mustard mixture--I use a pastry brush to do this.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Oh, man! Your family will thank you for this one!

Last of all...a card, of course!

This is my first card using Crafty Secrets' Thanksgiving stamp set--love them! I love to do paper piecing for the dimension and did that here. I wont' give too many details right now (my family wants to eat!) Let me know if you want any details. This is also for the Crafty Secrets' challenge over on Paper Craft Planet, hosted by the fabulous Darlene, the challenge is to use orange in our card.

Well, that's it for tonight, and thank-you all for visiting me!