Monday, September 30, 2013

Still scrapbooking?

Have a stack of old photos
all of the same subject?
In a pickle as to what to do with them?

Don't throw them away,



For this Christmas tree album page, I trimmed around
the tree branches for a lacy effect,

  then arranged
the tree cut-outs onto a piece of heavy weight, acid free
card stock, cut into the shape of a Christmas tree.
I placed the edges of the cut trees so they
extended over the tree form a little.
Photos with gifts visible go on
the bottom of the layout. 
When I found a pleasing composition, I glued them down.
The "new" tree, made up of many trees, was then put onto
a 12" x 12" piece of scrapbooking paper.

I used the same idea for jack-a-lanterns, 
using a pumpkin shaped base and filling it with
jack-a-lantern photos

with birthday desserts using a candle and flame
shaped form.
(Obviously, this "candle" is stuck in ice cream or whipped
cream, and is beginning to lose its footing.)

This collage of photos creates a novel
page out of a
repetitious subject.
The process reduces that stack of pictures that always get snapped
at annual family events and that look similar year after year.
The one new image, made from years of photos, makes a 
powerful statement about the longevity, vitality and
steadfastness of family and family traditions.

Easy, effective, inexpensive, and fun.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Friday, September 27, 2013

a candid snapshot.... of the piano

posted by jennifer

we have a beautiful antique piano. it was my grandma taylor's... my dads mom. at one point, it was at my childhood home. mom and i both took lessons on it in the early 80's.... and at this point i don't think i could play chopsticks on demand.

in a roundabout way, it ended up in close to my home, in the san diego area. years ago, it was offered to me, and i accepted.

it is most frequently played by my oldest child emma. not formally, but she picks things up by ear quite easily and often plays, and as i write this rough draft, which is now my final draft... my daughter maya is playing. so there. it is used as times.

but it can also be a handy flat surface. this is what you would see on my piano this week.

propped up where some people might put their sheet music, is a page i made for maya yesterday. she hasn't quite got the alphabet down yet, and i had seen a book where the alphabet was written out with each line ending where there is a pause when singing the abc's. simple and brilliant. so i gathered my alpha stickers and a piece of cardstock and there you go.

there are also five generous servings of homemade pudding... like real real homemade. i had milk that had to be used, and recipes to try. the chocolate pudding was super easy. i think it was a tyler florence recipe. i also made butterscotch pudding. it was a little more tricky than the chocolate. i almost burned the caramel when my sister april called... if i hadn't been trying to multi-multitask, there probably would have been zero hiccups.

a package to be returned to costco. i ordered some new "yoga" pants... the weather is cooling a bit, and i need to revamp my cool weather casual wardrobe. yoga pants/tee's/sweater. this is not to be confused with my cool weather fancy clothes. jeans/tee's/sweater. unfortunately, the pants had a strong off putting smell... which i was willing to deal with by airing them out, because they fit so well. but then i went to the full length mirror, and um, hello. major camel toe action. this i cannot deal with.

also, there are some random torn books and broken toys. i picked them up from the fix-it basket at maya's preschool. i'm a handy girl, so ya know.
lastly,a basket of fabrics and notions that will be brought to life in the form of tote bags. i hope to have this batch listed in my etsy shop in the next week. check them out at  i have been feeling so inspired lately with design and projects, that it's a wonder i made the time to make that pudding.... but later tonight, when i am getting the hunkering for something tasty, i am going to be glad i did. cheers!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Children's Art and an Old Ottoman

Recently I made it to a neighborhood rummage sale and had some good luck . I found a quilt, some boxes that I intend to use for paintings, a shoebox full of lace seam binding, a small deer statue that I will be dressing up for the holidays… and this ottoman,
tuffet,       pouffe,        hassock,

One of the things I remember so well from my grandparent’s home was one very similar (the same material and color) although theirs was cylindrical and the grand kids loved to roll around on it......
....I was drawn to it because of those happy memories.

Around the same time someone sent me an article about an artist who combines her artwork with her children’s and then I saw a sharpie on the counter…. And my idea was hatched!

I asked my children if they would want to draw on the ottoman!

I only asked that they wouldn’t scribble, they had to pick out a spot to work and leave space for me because I was part of the project too.  

What is important is happy children and 
for them it should be about  the process not the product.

So I left the room so I wouldn’t interfere. Whatever they would have come up with, I would have been able to work with with the zen-tangle, doodle design that I had in mind. 

So after they did their art, I added mine and here is our finished product.


XO, April

Monday, September 23, 2013

Turning a new leaf

I love a good curb find. 

My house is filled with them to prove it.

And my garden, too.

I scored this former fountain, that was left

for trash pick up, a year and a half ago.

I gave it new life as a planter

in our front garden.

It is the perfect anchor

for the path the letter carrier travels on

six days a week.

I planted this found treasure with

Harvest Lemon Chiffon Coral Bells


Vinca minor vines.

The vinca minor is trailing to the ground after less than a 

year and a half.  Its blue "periwinkle" flowers appear

repeatedly during the spring and summer.

The six inch spikes, on which the coral bells flowers 

bloom, contrast with the cascading vines of the vinca.

Both plants do well in shady areas.

The tiny coral bell flowers invite a stop-and-look,

as passersby step onto the path leading to our front door.

 t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Friday, September 20, 2013

love and marriage......

 .....through the eyes of a four year old

posted by jennifer

my daughter maya is at  that wonderfully sweet age where everything is hearts and flowers... at least that is, when things are as she feels they should be...when she feels there is an injustice...  i am girl hear me roar.   although even then, she is at the age where those roars are quickly replaced by sweet

lately, she has been directing weddings between my husband and i.  this entails her picking some flowers from the yard (today a bouquet of ornamental garlic blooms).... her delivering them to my husband in the sly way only a young child pull off... walking backwards, hands behind her back, and stating that she doesn't have anything.

she will then tell my husband to give me the flowers and to ask me to marry him.

all is well once the flowers are accepted by the bride (that's me) and we kiss.  the wedding complete.

and maya is satisfied that she has orchestrated yet another successful marriage.  to the same couple. for the 6th time that month.

sweet sweet girl.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


In less than a week we will bid adieu to summer and 
Welcome fall.

Today began my welcome for this beautiful season.

“Pumpkin trees” replaced some Eucalyptus
  trimmings on the mantle and next to them are some pumpkin candies in a jar. 

I enjoyed the perfect late afternoon light.

Oh, and fall food! 
Biscotti and Coffee for breakfast and Chicken pot pie for dinner

, April

Monday, September 16, 2013

Garden veggies with pasta and reduction sauce

Using zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, kale, chard, and basil from my garden, I came up with this recipe.
I cook it in my wok.  This recipe is a little loosey-goosey, making it very easy to adjust to the seasonal vegetables available, and to your personal preferences.

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooked pasta  (I use whatever I have, or am in the mood for.  I have used penne, rigatoni, rotini, or spaghetti.  I cook about 8 oz. dry pasta or I use leftover pasta, if I have it.)

Bell pepper
Cherry tomatoes
Snow peas
And/or any other of your favorite vegetables, combined to make about 4 - 5 cups.

2-3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup basil
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. vegetable or chicken broth

Saute the garlic in hot olive oil until golden, being careful not to burn.
Add the basil and cook for a minute, stirring.  Remove the garlic and basil from the wok.

Add about 1/3 of the broth to the wok and depending on which vegetables you are using, add the ones that take the longest to cook first, followed by ones that take less time.  (For me that would be the carrots first, followed by the bell pepper, and onion, followed by the kale, chard, and cherry tomatoes.) . Steam the vegetables, covering with a pot lid. Cook until crisp-tender. When all the vegetables are cooked to your liking, using a slotted spoon, remove them from the wok.  Set aside.

To the broth the vegetables steamed in, add the diced tomatoes, the cooked garlic and basil, the remainder of the broth and salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Reduction takes 15-20 minutes.

When sauce is nice and saucy, put the cooked vegetables and cooked pasta back into the wok, stirring to coat them with the sauce and to get them hot again.

Of course, you can easily adjust this recipe to your liking...adding more garlic, less pasta, more vegetables....

Makes about 3 servings.

I make this for my lunch, as my husband isn't big on pasta or vegetables.  It reheats well, so I cook once and have 3 delicious lunches.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Friday, September 13, 2013

gifting your talent

posted by jennifer

i recently went to a wedding and was faced with the gift question.  it was a friend from my bookclub, and us fellow bookclub women had already showered her with gifts.  so when i was thinking of the wedding gift i didn't want to go empty handed, but yet since i had already given a material gift, i wanted to do something different.  

i decided to gift one of my talents.  and that translated into a certificate for a dinner that i would make and deliver.   in our bookclub we rotate who hosts, and at one of the past bookclubs i had hosted, i made a butternut squash lasagna (courtesy of martha stewart) that had been very well received.  in fact, the said bride had mentioned that if she made it for her then boyfriend, he would probably propose.   well, i can't say that it contributed to the proposal, but i knew they would appreciate it.

the certificate was redeemed this past weekend with the dinner delivered on sunday.

on the menu was:
   butternut squash lasagna
   tuscan kale salad (from true food kitchen) this is another tried and true recipe.  who knew that raw
      kale could be so good?
  a loaf of bread
  a bottle of wine (red always)

the cool thing is that i could tell how much the gift was appreciated and it made me feel more confident about giving a nontraditional gift.... and inspired to take the route more often.

what are your talents that could be made into an unforgettable gift?
    do you have a green thumb?  maybe you could gift a certificate for planting someone's front
      walk with annuals of the season
   are you proud of your photography skills?   maybe you could gift someone with a certificate for
     your skills to be put to use in helping with their Christmas card photo

the possibilities stretch as far as your talents... and you know you have more than one thing that you are good at up your sleeve.  your friends and family will love it... trust me.  plus in my case, i made extra of everything which meant that mondays dinner was taken care of.

happy gifting!  jennifer

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September Tablescape

The inspiration for my September tablescape did not arrive until this morning.  Better late than never!

From top to bottom, left to right:  class photos from 1953 and 1954

                                                   St. Paul High School, Whittier annual 1962,
                                                   School Days Sheet Music
                                                   California High School, Whittier annual 1963

                                                   McGuffey's Third Eclectic Reader Copyrights 1879-1920
                                                   "C" flashcard
                                                   Silhouette of me
                                                    "T" flashcard
                                                    Dean's Intellectual Arithmetic 1861
                                                    Spelling and Anagrams game
                                                    Superman lunch box 1978
                                                    Good Reading Sixth Reader 1928
                                                    Globe bank (can't find date, but still shows USSR Russia)
                                                    Report card 1957

                                                     "A" flashcard
                                                     School bell (I wish you could hear the sound of it. It is loud and has a
                                                     distinct tone.)
                                                     Slate board
                                                     with anagram letters in front.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Monday, September 9, 2013

Memories and plants


Some songs bring to mind a certain person.  Some smells evoke memories. And, for me, some plants tell a tale about someone, who holds an enduring place in my heart.

I always think of my mother when I see sweet peas.  She grew them every year.  Blooming jacaranda trees start a mental rerun of my Auntie Jean's thrill at seeing their purple canopies. She was visiting from England.  Clivias, pyracanthas, alstromerias, eucalypus, ranunculus, Pink Breath of Heaven, moonflowers....all these leafy lovelies, and many more, bring me remembrances.

Oxalis triangularis (aka purple shamrock) will always remind me of my, now 6 year old, grandson. When he was a mere 3 years old, he started calling this perennial "whale's tail". He wanted to pick a stem of it every time he was in my garden, which was often. At times, there were only a few shoots left growing.  He loved this plant!

Times change.  Grandchild #3 isn't in this garden as much as before and when he's here, picking a "whale's tail" isn't a priority any longer. Unimpeded, the plant is now growing as vigorously as my grandson. 

I will forever call this oxalis "whale's tail" and I will always think of a young grandson when I see it.

What plants trigger memory of someone special to you?

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol 

Friday, September 6, 2013

less kincade and more picasso

posted by jennifer

so, as we three who call this blog home were in the early planning stages, july 4th this year, after the fireworks had turned to ash and the smoke wasn't hanging quite so heavy in the air... and the babies were
sleeping, we started brainstorming this blog in earnest.  we laughed a lot... enough endorphins flowing through our bodies to counteract all the carcinogens we had breathed in from the fireworks.

i thought what better way to introduce you to this blog as i see it, than through some of our random thoughts
that eventually got us here, to our first week of posts.  here is a sampling.

  *the cat and her balls of string.   
      the cat being my mom, carol, and my sister april and i being the balls of string.... i know, but it was late, 
      and we were brainstorming and i actually just laughed out loud again rereading it.   not to mention my
      mom's initials are c.a.t.  and my sister and i have been known to come unraveled at times. 

  *downward facing tongs
       i don't even know what to say, but it is written down in my notebook... so someone said it.

  *merry mishmash
       we all loved the word merry, because we mostly are, and mishmash because, well, we are a bit
       mishmashed.  in the best, most positive (usually at least) sense.  you may not know what you will get
       but chances are it will be good.

  *split finger trio
      come winter time at least one or two... or all of us is suffering from split fingers.  english housewife
      hands, by way of my mom's mum.  they can handle a hot cast iron skillet, but a side effect of those
      hard worked hands is apparent.

  *the merry junebugs
     april and i were inspired by a junebug thrashing around the porch light.  it was trying so hard, to do
     what i'm not sure, but it wouldn't give up.  and junebugs always seem so cute and sweet and happy.
     i still love that name.  i think i may have been a junebug in a previous life.

we also talked about what kinds of things we might write about in our blog.  here are some things you can look forward to:
   *cooking... what can i say.  my sister and i had a great role model in the kitchen
   *crafts....oh yeah... she's crafty x3!
   *home cannot be both grand and comfortable.... and we all have welcoming and
     comfortable homes
   *hoodwinking... i.e.  a hamburger patty served with a-1 sauce or ketchup and christened a hamburger
   *humor....see above
   *organization....hmm... well i did just clean my pantry... and it looks great, however, it is never a good
     sign when your go to put groceries away from a costco trip, and groceries from a previous shopping
     trip are still on the pantry floor
    *frugal   i try, and always have the best intentions.  and this month i am totally going to
      stick to the food budget.

well, i guess i've painted a bit of a picture of what this blog may be.. and it is definitely looking less  kincade
and more picasso.  welcome!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Meet Ingrid.

She is my first work to share here. She's a bit shy and I believe she may 
have overdressed for the occasion but she was just so excited! 

(paper mache, paint, ink, paper and objet trouves)

XO, April

Monday, September 2, 2013

Carol's Blog Debut

My daughters and I have tossed around the idea of sharing a blog for some years.  And, as you see, we have finally made it to the first post.  I am feeling shy about writing it and have been asking myself, "Why am I doing this?"

The first reason is because I love to write. I've been a letter writer since childhood, writing in pencil with large lettering. I wrote notes to my friends in high school (when I should have been taking notes on lectures), and then passed the notes in the hall between classes.  I wrote to my betrothed everyday, while he was in the Army.  Everyday!  I am a list maker, an e-mail
writer, and I've been keeping journals since 1970.  
It seems that blogging will be just my cup of tea.

The second reason is that I see blogs as a new way to pass on information, ideas and experiences. 
Are blogs a replacement to the circling of webbed-lawn chairs on a front lawn, with the neighborhood moms gathered in the afternoon, cocktail in hand, to talk about their day?
Are blogs the sewing circles of yesteryear, that allowed comfortable lulls in the conversation, because everyone had some kind of needlework to attend to between topics?
Are blogs the new coffee klutches, where we drink our morning beverage while exchanging ideas, inspirations, and observations?
I think so. 

And, finally, reason number 3 why I want to write this blog.  When I identify a flower, tree, bug or bird, and can call it by name, it deepens my experience with it.   Writing helps me to organize and mentally label parts of my life in much the same way.  Writing helps me lasso, with ink (or pixels), my scattered thoughts and corral them where I can find them again.  

So thank you for the opportunity to let me ID parts of my life in a fresh way and welcome to our blog.