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A New Year and a New Line of Fun Drawings

The day before yesterday – insanity wolf.”    -By Eric BakerGoogle

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are having a great start to your new year.  I know I haven’t been here in a long time but life got quite busy and I had to let some things go.  Not that I anticipate 2013 any less busy, but I’ve missed sharing and writing.  So here I am in the new year hoping to do more of what I enjoy.

One of the things I am so excited about sharing with you is a new line of animal drawings.  My son is a young man who has had a love of drawing since he was a wee little one.  He has recently committed himself to drawing and sharing 365 different animals, both real and fictional.  He is doing what is called “rough drawing”, where there is no preliminary or refinement techniques in the final sketch.

He first picks an animal, many of which come from suggestions from the public.  Secondly he does a few gesture drawings to get the pose right.  And thirdly he starts the final piece and sticks with whatever he comes out with.

I hope you will enjoy his drawings as much as he enjoys making them.  Till next time….

Cupcake Fun

Recently I took a course in decorating cupcakes from a local cake and candy supply.  Not only did I have a blast but learned so much in a mere 2-hour class. Everyone who saw my cupcakes thought they were pretty cool and my kids were delighted to eat them. They want me to take more classes, lol!

My cupcake creations.

Spaghetti & Meatball

This spaghetti and meatball cupcake was decorated using a #4 tip for the ‘spaghetti’. The ‘sauce’ is a raspberry sauce that they sell at the shop, they also carried a strawberry flavored sauce.

The "meatball" for the spaghetti and meatball cupcake.

Isn’t this a great idea for the “meatball”?!  Just unwrap and cover with sauce.

Mini grater to grate chocolate "cheese".

We used this mini grater and a white or cream-colored chocolate disk to grate the “cheese” on top. You can find this little grater, inexpensively, at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Chinese Noodles Cupcake

This delightful chinese noodle cupcake was pretty easy to make. The noodles are piped using a bigger holed piping tip, #6. The pink “shrimp” are a Starburst candy piece that I shaped into a “sort-of’ shrimp” shape.

Candy needed to make the broccoli.

To make the adorable broccoli you simply use the above wrapped candy.  Unwrap it and with scissors cut it almost in half lengthwise to create the two-headed broccoli shape. Dab a bit of green frosting at the tips and dip into green “jimmies/nonpareil” like the tiny little balls you can see in the above picture.

Can you see the tiny little slices of celery?

To make the celery, use the green apple licorice like the one in the photo. Simply do a thin slice at a diagonal and voila, you’ve got sliced celery. You can find the green apple flavored licorice at a Henry’s or Sprouts. Winco is also a great place to buy candy inexpensively and they sell it in bulk so you can scoop out just the amount you need.

Two good tips I picked up on cupcake baking is:

1. 325 degrees is the best baking temp for cupcakes.

2. Use a tin pie pan or something similar, with water in it, placed under your cupcakes as they bake. This will help to bake them moist.

In an upcoming post I will go over the other cupcakes and show close up pics. Hope you get inspired to bake up your own cupcake fun!

Wild For Wildflowers

I'm lucky enough to have this view from my kitchen desk window.

Before, I never used to appreciate wildflowers much less think much about them. Except perhaps the ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ whom I used to admire growing wildly from the sides of the freeway off-ramps. When my second son announced that he wanted to grow wildflowers I was a bit dubious as the ‘weeds’ are not very attractive. I would always get on my hired gardener about making sure that he always removed any weeds. When I showed him which ‘weeds’ to leave alone, he even looked dubious. He was like “Those? You don’t want me to touch those? Okay….”

Well thanks to my son my eyes have now been opened to this beautiful part of having a garden. I not only appreciate wildflowers but strongly believe that there is a place for wildflowers in every garden.  I am so thrilled to be able to go out every couple of days and pick flowers to arrange around my house. And the array of color is just breathtaking.

So pretty in pink.

I will now always cherish wildflowers. Not just for the delight they have brought me, but because they are part of my son and his love of God’s handiwork.

I love these pretty white ones growing shyly in the back.

Our cat thinks it's a beautiful place to relax. It is one of her favorite spots.

I love it that I have these pretty flowers to brighten the inside of my home.

Even Mrs. DeVine in the Fancy Nancy books has a wildflower garden. 😉

In the children’s book Fancy Nancy “Explorer Extraordinaire” there is a one page introduction to wildflowers – with fancy names! “Oooh-la-la”!

One reason I love the Fancy Nancy books is how the author incorporates real photography and facts in the stories, making the books educational as well as adorable.

Why Teach Kids To Sew?

It used to be that just about every household had a sewing machine.  Or if not, it was easily accessible from either grandma, an aunt or a good neighbor.  It also used to be that children would learn basic sewing from either mom, grandma, etc.. or at least in school.  Sewing was considered a useful and often times necessary  skill to have.  If a sock got a hole in it, or a button popped off a shirt, an older child or teen would certainly know how to take care of it.

Not in modern times, today most children grow up without ever seeing a sewing machine in person.  ‘Hole in a sock? Fix it by darning it? Are you crazy?!’ Just toss it.  ‘Shoot, shirt is missing a button – guess I can’t wear that shirt anymore’.  Any of my scenarios seem familiar? Maybe a little exaggerated – but really not by much.   With mass production, ready-made clothing can be bought reasonably inexpensive, albeit, low quality. And now a days sewing at home can actually be more expensive than store-bought clothing.  So why teach kids to sew?

My biggest answer would be for the creativity and sense of accomplishment it develops.  It’s so neat when kids get to pick their own fabric and see it go from just flat fabric to something they can handle, feel, it’s useful – and they can wear it! And how awesome that they made it themselves!  In sewing they not only get  to spend time with a person that cares about them but they work on just some of these useful skills: following verbal directions, following visual directions, trouble shooting, decision-making, math, fine motor skills, and patience.

Recently I signed up my daughters for a sewing club/class.  It meets just once a month and we love it. It is our fun and special time together.

Look at the super cute "kitty" print she picked out.

Notice the blue painters tape on the sewing machine. This is a great guide to help the beginner sewer keep straight stitches.

This is daughter #2 working on her skirt. I get a chuckle out of this picture because it reminds me of how much "patience" she had to practice with her project. Being a perfectionist she did not enjoy making any mistakes and most of all having to correct them, lol!

'Ta-Dah'! Made her first skirt ever. Notice the coordinating rick rack on the bottom edge.

Beauty & Charm – My Title Inspiration

I love all things vintage, and I love to read.  Combining the two, I started to collect vintage magazines.  My favorites are women’s, children and homemaking magazines.  I love the graphics, the pictures, the stories of eras past. I enjoy a peek at what life and issues were like for other women and families in our country.  I especially love the fashions of the past.  One of the magazines I had in my stash was this one:

As I was enjoying looking thru it, the following ad caught my eye:  ‘Ooooh, wouldn’t it be neat to be able to actually look thru that book?!’

So I started to search for it, and yay, I was able to acquire a copy!  I couldn’t believe my luck! Oh my I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

I have had it now for a couple of years and I just love it. Every time I pick it up I come away with something new and positive. I especially enjoy it because it’s not a shallow beauty book at all. If anything it is filled with tips and advice that can be applied to today’s lifestyle as well as from the 50’s. The core of this book is making the most of the assets you were born with, making the most of what you have – for giving and sharing with others. No matter what season in life you are in you can appreciate it, develop it and embrace it.  Thus you will be giving the best of yourself to those around you, touching and blessing them. And c’mon, it’s a vintage beauty book – what’s not charming about that, lol?!

Here’s a bite-sized sample from the book, hopefully you’ll see what I mean:

“Developing the feeling of beauty.  Some things that create and bolster it: 

Enjoy being alive:  Make a conscious effort to enjoy living – the actual life processes of eating, breathing, walking, sleeping. Stretch and relax, breathe deeply, and think yourself into being a complete physical entity – resourceful, happy, glad to be alive.

Be sensitive to beauty:  Respond fully to the world about you – let life touch you through your senses – smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing.

Enjoy new experiences:  Look at everything, and do things as if you had never seen them or done them before. Talk to people and listen to them, enjoy them.

Do sweet things:  The act of giving – whether it be a smile, good advice, writing a letter, or an actual gift – does more than a lipstick to bolster the feeling of beauty.

Talk beauty:  Open your thoughts to others – because only through human relationships can your inward beauty develop and grow. Allow others to know you and get to know them – it will help you to know yourself.”

My wish is that when you come and visit my blog you will be encouraged to find beauty and charm in the simple things in life.