Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chocolate and Cherries.... Need I Say More??!!



Recently I was craving a good chocolate fix... so I got out a basic Chocolate cookie recipe and tweaked it a bit. I LOVE to take recipes and play with them!! How about you? Do you find yourself doing that too? ...... I think it makes what I make that much more enjoyable..... If you like fudgy brownies, sweet/tart cherries and a little warm tingle on your tongue ....tries these little cookies.... ;)

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( adds just enough heat to these cookies to be warmingly pleasant)
1 bag chocolate chips
1 to 1 1/2 cup dried cherries ( amount to preference)

Preheat oven to 350'. Grease cookie sheets. Cream butter, sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well. Add dry ingredients and mix through. Add the chips and cherries. Drop by rounded spoonfuls. Be careful not to over bake.... you want them to be chewy brownie consistency.. Enjoy!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas to my blog readers, my friends in loving creativity and living life to the fullest!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This Forest of a Life


I had lunch with my friends the other day, and our conversation turned to my blog. One of my friends said that my blog makes everything sound so perfect in my life. We chuckled about it, since, as we all know, no one's life is perfect. Believe me when I say that I have my share of  family and life trials and tribulations. Later that day, I started thinking about when I was a teenager... and I would grab my sketch book and pencils and head out to the forest. I would sit quietly sketching and enjoying all of the nature around me. One of my observations back then was just how imperfect things can be in a forest- broken tree limbs, fallen/ spotted leaves, wilting flowers, erosion. And yet, even with that in mind, the forest and all of nature for that matter, is perfect in all of it's imperfection. Much like life. As long as there is living and ongoing growth, things are pretty perfect. Even if there are blemishes and growing pains along the way.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope that this season finds everyone happy and healthy. There is much to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving Day,  and everyday! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Santa is an Early Bird!



Now through Saturday 11/27/2010 - 20% markdown has been taken on all necklaces in my shop http://www.gardenvibe.etsy.com/.  All ship gift ready in a pretty hand sewn 'Seed bag'  made with cheery holiday fabric and Jute drawstring. 



Monday, November 15, 2010

Autumn is a Cherished Time of Year!



Happy Autumn friends! I hope that you are all enjoying yourselves.... I LOVE this time of year...even though I miss the benefit of colorful leaves.... there is still lots of inspiration for me....... just a post with some scenes from my home to yours..... and a few of my Autumn inspired items being posted to my Etsy shop. It has been an absolute joy making my own pendants and beads from clay..... I hope that you are having the same enjoyment with whatever your creative outlet is.....


















  


Friday, November 5, 2010

'Caul'ing on an Old Favorite for Autumn Comfort


Autumn is upon us in the States and so come the chilly days when we look for the comfort of a pot of soup or a casserole. The following is a Rachel Ray recipe that I have adapted to my own liking. I love to take existing recipes and tweak them to what I know we will enjoy. So, with that said, here is a marvelous casserole that lends a fresh approach  to that Autumn comfort meal you are craving.

Cauliflower Casserole 

Over medium heat,  approx. 1/4 cup of Olive Oil and add in 3 finely chopped Garlic cloves. Place a large pot of water on to boil in preparation for cooking 1/2 lb of Penne Pasta.

 
Finely chop a small onion and add to Oil/ Garlic Mixture and cook until the onion becomes tender.
To the Onion/ Garlic mixture, add in finely chopped raw Cauliflower ( I use my judgement on amount- generally I use about 3/4 of a medium Cauliflower), 1-  14 oz. can of low sodium Chicken Broth, 1- 13 oz. can of chunk White Chicken Breast, approx. 3 tablespoons of Rosemary, freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste.  
Cook on medium heat until the Cauliflower becomes tender and absorbs most of the liquid.
When the Cauliflower mixture is tender, add in your cooked Penne Pasta and gently toss to combine. 




Plate and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Enjoy! :)






Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Reality, and Yes, Beauty of Imperfection


I have been doing some reading on this subject lately. And wanted to share some of my thoughts with you. From time to time I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. But I am learning that although we strive to achieve our very best, we sometimes fall short. The reality is, no one among us is perfect and that's okay. It is the very nature of our humanity. Just as nature beautifully exists with all of it's imperfections, so too do we. The idea is to continue to grow as a person and embrace the light and beauty within yourself and others.  

Ring the bells that still can ring,  Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen

Monday, November 1, 2010

Better Days to Come for Shore No Matter the Season


Gosh..... I didn't realize that it has been as long as it has been since my last post. I tend to clam up when I'm feeling down I guess. My Aunt's death took alot of the wind out from under my wings. And a couple of family members ill has made for a crabby me.......
                                                  

Nevertheless, I know that better days will eventually sweep ashore....................................................................









...............................Have to keep faith that all will be well and .....I'll just ride this tide into a lovely Autumn season............. I hope that you are enjoying lovely days, no matter the season you are in.......  


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Grateful Sapling/ Tribute to Happiness Personified


 Last week I lost someone so dear to me. My beloved Aunt Mary passed away after having lived a long and loving life. She was, for me, a great role model for the kind of woman that I wanted to be as I grew up. I valued being a part of her life, not for things that she gave me, but for what she showed me life could be. Not in terms of vocation, but something much more basic and more important.  She was a happy person. And happiness, in my opinion, is highly undervalued. Kind of taken for granted as a given. Take a moment to reflect on the people in your life who radiate happiness in what they say and do. Don't you feel drawn to them? Yet, we really don't stop to think why we are drawn to them and celebrate that with them.  

 When I was with Aunt Mary, I knew happiness. And there are a million happy things to miss about being with her. The minute my sister and I were with her, she would get out her dresses and let us play dress up. She would tweak our outfits with belts, jewelry, .......let us put on makeup. We would put on her Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdinck records and we would dance around together! Aunt Mary loved goodies! And she always had cake or pie or cookies at the ready. There was always a bowl of candy in her house. She loved snuggly stuffed animals and dolls. She loved animals and picking flowers. She was never short on smiles and laughter. Most importantly, when we were with her, we felt so loved. When she wasn't hugging us literally, we felt hugged just by the way she looked at us, or smiled at us. She was a woman who never lost sight of the joy and happiness that you can derive from the little things. There was a child like quality about her, in that she didn't allow herself to become hardened and jaded over her years of growing into womanhood. And what a gift I received to have had that role model. I'm a grateful sapling for sure. And everytime I play with jewelry, dance to a record, eat goodies, hug dolls and animals, pick flowers..and yes, even smile, .....I will be reminded of who taught me the value of happiness. And just as I will never let go of the memory of her...I will never let go of living my life with happiness in it. I have her to thank. And the satisfaction of knowing that I was sure to tell her, and thank her and celebrate it with her when I had the chance.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Flight of Self-Efficacy > And So Too Should We....


In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.  Albert Bandura

My husband and I recently drove to a nearby beach and stayed overnight. Just a little getaway, that proved to be more than just rest and relaxation. It was so healing to me to see the beautiful wildlife thriving and happy on the Gulf of Mexico! The birds were out in full force and put on quite a show.... I especially love the Brown Pelicans. The images of the affected Pelicans, after the oil spill , were a devastation. So to see them flying about, playing and fishing and having fun was wonderful.
I don't kid myself... I know that there were likely many of them who didn't survive the effects of the spill. And shame on the people responsible for that. If they manage to wheezle their way out of taking responsibility here and now.... they will eventually answer for it elsewhere, in a another time..... Call it Heaven, After-Life, Karma.... their negative vibes will reverberate back to them.... someday.  The riches they obtain in this life will never supercede the richness of having a pure and caring spirit.


Nevertheless, these birds are an inspiration to me. They are rising above the 'inevitable obstacles and inequities of life' as Bandura states. They are going on with their lives... working towards their own health and happiness. They are not allowing anyone to take their happiness from them.


It is a lesson well learned...... Of resilience, of self -efficacy, and the will not only to survive, but to thrive! 


Let's all move forward with wings wide open , and dive right into our future.....The Sun might set on them, but they reach out to a new day everyday....and so too should We....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm a Steam Punk Gardener?!!


Not long ago I received an exciting e-mail from Dave Robertson, Marketing at http://www.rings-things.com/ , a wholesale supplier for Crafts, Crafts and more Crafts!!  I got picked to win an August Blog Partner goodie pack. How cool is that?!! I couldn't wait to see what Dave would send me..... well, yesterday, the mail arrived and with it my goodie pack. I opened it and much to my surprise were Steam Punk findings!! Seriously??! I know Dave follows my Blog, so he knows what I do...I thought at first- my knee jerk reaction was- Dave! Are you serious?!! I'm a garden geek.... a bead lady..... a polymer Artist...... a....  a steam punk garden Artist ?!......I started thinking ( scary I know, LOL...) The ideas began swirling around my head!  I think I can do this !..... What a cool challenge....! This could lead to something really amazing!!... A million thanks Dave for opening the 'Garden' door to something new and exciting! You have sewn the seeds ...... Standby...and let's see what 'grows'....... :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lines in the Sand


There has been so much turmoil in our world these days. It is difficult to not feel powerless in the grand scheme of things. I read the news and think that the only lines that should be drawn in the sand, save that drawn by the wind and water, is a line that encircles us in unity. Not a line that divides us as citizens of our world.  I respect the right of all people to their own beliefs. All I ask of myself, and of everyone else, is that we consider for ourselves whether our beliefs are leading us to be good people. Are our beliefs respecting the rights of other people? If we can say yes, then what a wonderful things that is! If we cannot say yes, then we need to re-examine what we believe and/or how we are believing it. It isn't rocket science. It is simply a core virtue of Humanity.  As in my photograph, it took more than one ocean wave to carve the beauty into the sand. And so it is with all of us. Let kindness and understanding begin with each and every one of us.....See you on shore..... :) 

Monday, September 6, 2010


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”  Maya Angelou

Recently, on a walk through my community, I discovered a  large number of gorgeous Black Swallowtails. They were enjoying the pollen of the Bottlebrushes planted along the entrance. I often walk with my camera because, where I live,  there is always something wonderful to be seen in the wetlands.  Most of the butterflies were being their elusive selves, as I tried to capture their beauty with my lens. I would tip toe into place to take a picture or pull their image in with my lens.....and off they would go.........to the next flower..!!! Bugger! ... But one little butterfly evidently loved the attention and posed for me to my heart's content!

I was not only taken with her beauty, but also with her spirit of adventure in allowing me to photograph her. She didn't seem at all alarmed at how close I had gotten and just hovered in front of my camera, as if encouraging me to photograph her. How thrilling! Not only was she adventurous, but she also remarkably shared the Bottlebrush she was enjoying, with a bee! And I thought, how wonderful to take that lesson with me. And how wonderful to believe that there can be change in our world someday. To believe that a day can come when we can all share this planet we live on with each other, with a sense of adventure, and with civility and respect for the beautiful differences we may have and the common humanity that we share.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Mediterranean Chicken Soup/ Serving up Coziness from the Garden


It's rainy season here in sunny, but subtropical Florida. Like clock work, the big puffy Cumulonimbus clouds, aka Thunderheads, come rolling in off of the Gulf of Mexico, bringing a downpour with them. I'm not sure why, but I love thunderstorms! But only when I'm safe and cozy in my home. And, for me, nothing makes for a cozy, rainy day like a nice bowl of soup. It is so easy to make and a great way to get veggies into your diet! I love this Mediterranean Chicken soup and I hope that you will enjoy making it as well....

I use Chicken tenders to make this soup. I place them on a baking pan, lined with foil, and spray them with cooking spray to seal in the juices. Bake the tenders at 385' until they are cooked thru and lightly golden brown. When they are done baking, just remove from the oven and set aside.  Don't slice them right away. Let them rest, to seal their juices.



Chop 4 cloves of garlic, 2 small onions, and combine with about 16 oz. sliced white mushrooms ( I use fresh, rather than canned)  in a large soup pot. Drizzle with 3 tblsp. Olive oil and cook until the onions become transluscent, the garlic golden and the mushrooms tender, stirring occasionally.

Add two - 14 oz. cans of fat free chicken broth and one-  28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes to the vegetable mixture.


Chop fresh Spinach leaves. I buy 1 salad bag from the grocery and use about 1/2 to 3/4 of the bag. Add the chopped Spinach to the soup.

Slice your chicken tenders to bite sized pieces and add carefully to the soup.

Add a splash of Sherry ( my splash is probably about 2-3 tblsp. ;) ) Add fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
Allow the soup to simmer until the spinach leaves wilt into the soup.
Then add frozen Tortellini carefully into the soup. ( Use your judgement on this. How many you add  depends on the size of your frozen Tortellini, and realizing that the Tortellini do become larger when cooked.) 
Continue to cook the soup until the Tortellini cook thru and become tender. They will float to the top of the soup when cooked thru.


  That's it!! My husband loves this soup! The spicy 'nose' of the Sherry in this soup, goes so well with the chicken and mushrooms. So delectable! Pop open a bottle of Pellegrino or a wonderful Cabernet, or how about a spicy Syrah and have a romantic meal with your sweetheart! If it's rainy and gray outside....it's a good excuse to light a little candle on your table..... and have a cozy dinner! :) Enjoy!!

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