Monday, December 31, 2007

Handmade ~ Giving and Receiving

Quite of bit of crafting went on for Christmas Presents this year. Here are some of the highlights...

~These are some of the things I made~
Aromatherpy Rice/Flax Bags, made out of flannel with a fun applique, complete with a tag of instructions. These are great for warming up in the microwave, and laying on that aching head after experiencing the Holidaze..

Arsty Clutch for my Sister-In-Law, pattern is from Amy Karol's "Bend the Rules Sewing" Book. I added some simple embroidery and a fabulous vintage button.

Here are some of the things My Amaziningly Creative Mother made for us.

The Christmas Tree Necklace, there are earings to match to..

A Brillant Pendant, which there is a name for these beads, that I can't recall, Mom, help me out.

I call this the Crystal Ball Necklace, it looks much more beautiful in person. Its made from Swarovski Crystals, that are strung together with needle and thread, and each hole is the shape of a star. It was to hard to get that on film.

I love this...Its a hand knit Alligator Scarf for cute.

These are sparkly Pine Cone Ornaments that Chloe and Blake made at school..

Complete with lovely hand drawn wrapping paper from Chloe... a joy to open up on Christmas Morning!

My Friend Annie, made this Candle holder, she works with Mosaic and does a beautiful job...

This is one of my favorite gifts, although it is not handmade, it is a gift card for my favorite store of all time... Anthropologie. Thanks to My Hubbie...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Solstice Tree

Last Sunday, amidst the craziness of the Holiday Rush, we found a moment just before sunset to revel in the falling leaves of our neighbors beautiful tree. It finally dawned on us, after 4 years of watching the leaves change color and then fall, that this tree always drops its leaves on or very close to the Winter Solstice. It was a brief and wonderful moment for us. Somehow knowing that connection calmed my soul just for a short time, until I had to go back to the marathon of Christmas work ahead of me. The funny thing is, for a few weeks now, I kept looking at that tree and wondering when the leaves would turn and go. That morning as I drove away to the Farmers Market, I noticed the color had changed a bit, and when we got home 5 hours later so many of it's first leaves had dropped. I tried my best to capture the beauty I was seeing in these images, but looking at them now, they barely look like it did at the time...

We came back to that tree again on Christmas Day. More images..

Looking back to last week, as some of you know, Christmas was hard for me this year, on top of all the work it took, lack of sleep, and a monthly visitor, I had a major meltdown, and I was not myself during Christmas Eve, and Morning. It all just seemed to be way to much for me to handle. But, their were very small moments that brought me out of it, the solstice tree, family and friends that helped me through it, and of course the pure joy and happiness, and laughter that came out of Chloe and Blake. I am glad its over, but thankful for the many blessings I have, and the extra sleep I have been catching up on! Soule Mama could not have described the feelings of the Marathon of the Holidays better in her merry merry post. Check it out.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Cards

We did a photo shoot with Ashley from Ventana Kids a week ago, to create an image for our Christmas Cards. I wanted to do something different, so Ashley suggested we head down to Barrio Logan and go for an Urban Look. We found some great colored garages and walls for our backdrop.

We narrowed it down to a few images. Now, I just need to decide which one to use. Any thoughts ? Yeah, I know the cards will go out late, but I like to go with the motto, "better late than never" !

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dip n Drape

As I work on handmade gifts and decorations this week with Chloe, I was remembering back to when I was young and made things with my Mother. She worked at a very cool independent Craft Store, with some very nice ladies, (this was before the Micheal's of the world put the small craft store owner out of business). It was called Weatheralls. I know this job made my Mother very happy, she was always making things, still does to this day... (beautiful things I might add). They taught classes there and one of the one's I took was called "Dip n Drape". I can't recall any other classes I took, but I do remember that I made a macrame purse, which I wish I still had, because it would be the perfect one for me right now. I also did alot of "rug hooking". Remember that ??

So, I asked my Mom to take some pictures of what she still has around from my younger days of crafting. She sent these two. Christmas Carolers that she still decorates with till this day... Dip n Drape is basically using some type of glue and water, in fact, the product used might even be called that name. I still remember the stickiness and the smell of it. Anyhow, we started with Styrofoam balls, and various fabrics, dipped them, and then draped them on the figures. This took a period of weeks, because we had to wait for each layer of fabric to dry. We then painted on faces, and here they are in their glory. I must say, they have held up pretty well, considering they must be about 32 years old or so...

Thanks for sending the photo's Mom...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Beginning to look like Christmas

Slowly but surely we are decorating around here. I wish we had more time to do it, but we have to settle with bits and pieces here and there. Funny thing is.. I wish I could just hibernate with the kids for these next few weeks. We would spend our time, making things, decorating, wrapping gifts, drinking hot tea and cocoa, reading Christmas Stories, baking cookies and cakes, taking walks during the warmest part of the day, planting bulbs in the garden, then taking naps. I am sure I could add alot more fun things to that list, but I need to get back to reality...

Here are some photo's of our work so far...

Chloe's handmade Christmas Tree

Have to have snowflakes on the windows..

Chloe cut these herself..

Orange Spice Balls, with cloves and oranges...

Chloe's handmade felt ornament

Blake helped with this one...his first stitches

Even Budda got a bit of tinsle !

Hope you are enjoying your Holiday Creating...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sledding ~ California Style

We went to the Beach after school yesterday to see the Huge waves, but found a sand hill, new friends and a frisbee, that was way more exciting !

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Leftover Chili

Mmm... There is nothing like leftover chili for lunch on a crisp cold day.

This past Friday we had a beautifully long rainy day and night. It was cold...and wet, and I was so happy to know that everything was being washed down, and soaked by tons of rain. I of course, could not find the umbrella, and didn't have a rain coat, but that didn't even bother me. I kept finding myself saying giddily.."its not everyday that I can get really wet from a rainy day!" By dinner time it seemed obvious to me that the only thing to make was a nice warm pot of vegetarian chili. How satisfying that was, cutting up the vegetables, sauteeing the onions, and garlic, adding the spices, and the slow simmering of the chili. I think my favorite part of the whole process is cutting up the green onions and fresh cilantro that we used for toppings...right before it is time to dish out the chili. Or maybe it is opening up the Bottle of Vino that we will drink with our dinner...

Over the years my chili has evolved into a mixture of various recipes from my very beat up and worn out version of "The New Basic's Cookbook".They have at least 6 different chili recipes...they are all great. I bought this cookbook years and years ago, when I first starting cooking on my taught me quite a bit.., and there is not one recipe that I have used that did not turn out wonderfully. I have often given this book as a gift in the past..

So here is my version of Vegetarian Chili...
The main meat ( so to speak) of the dish is beans, and peppers (sweet ones).

3 to 4 Garlic cloves minced
1 Big Sweet Onion
1 to 2 Zucchini
4 to 6 Red, Yellow, and Orange Bell Peppers chopped, (not to small though)
2 cans (big ones) of crushed tomato's
2 cans of Black Beans
2 cans of Kidney Beans
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup vegetable broth or water (sometimes I add more)
2 to 3 tablespoons of good chili powder
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of dried basil
1 tablespoon of dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
2 tablespoons of brown sugar

For Toppings;
4 green onions or scallions chopped
4 tablespoons or so chopped fresh cilantro
Grated cheese ( we use blue, but you can use whatever you like)
Creme Fresh or Sour Cream

Heat about a half cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and saute just until tender. Transfer it to the pot you will be simmering the chili in. (Note, I have simmered this recipe in the crock pot all day to...yummy)

Heat about 1/4 cup more of oil in your skillet over low heat, add onions, garlic and peppers and saute just until wilted. This is when I like to put all the chili powder and the dried red pepper flakes. Transfer the mixture into the pot with the Zucchini. Place the pot on low heat and add the rest of the spices, tomato's, brown sugar, vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Cook uncovered, stirring often, for 30 minutes.

Stir in the beans, and cook for another 15 minutes, also adjust your spices. If you have fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, you can chop that up and throw it in as well.

When you serve up your chili, make sure to top with Fresh Cilantro, cheese, scallions and cream...then mix it all together and dig in. I also like to serve big blue corn chips or a fresh loaf of bread to go with...

Sometimes, I really need to have a chili that has some meat in, I will use this same recipe and add about a pound of ground turkey, and about 4 long strips of cut up crispy cooked bacon. Equally yummy..