Sunday, December 21, 2008

Congratulations Peter!

What a year this has been!!! This time a year ago...Sara newly engaged, us all anticipating Peter & Gloria's wedding, just after Christmas. We now have 2 weddings & 2 graduations behind us.

Friday was graduation for my designer son, Peter! His oh-so-sweet-and lovely bride Gloria whisked him away for a much needed vacation and time away, visiting family in New Orleans. I just have to say how incredibly proud I am!!! The Creative Circus has been an awesome training ground for both Peter & his little sis, Sara, launching them each into a promising future. . Each has inspired the other, brought out the best in each other and closer together than ever before. I love you guys!!! You make me proud.

Here's a sampling of their work: Sara and Peter.

Thanks Casey for the photography (that's a bit of my kitchen). See more here!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Singer Spills Its Guts

There was a lots of sewing that I'd started and was ready to complete. Tuesday was going to be a super day of finishing up projects and beginning to list brand new things in my ETSY shop. Suddenly the motor locked up in this sound that I hate and it's usually a zipper foot is on and I forget and try to zig-zag or perhaps I accidentally hit a straight pin with the needle. Not this time. Cleaning didn't help although it was overdue. Slowly I began to disassemble, hoping I could fix it myself. WRONG! Called to see what an inspection, repair, etc. would run. Um, no thanks! So the fixer of all broke things, the computer guy, my husband, to the rescue!
He spent the rest of the evening gutting, cleaning, oiling (very important, by the way, trust me on that!), putting back together the part he'd taken apart. I worked the next day on reassembling what I had taken apart with only one little mystery piece. I'm sure that the right screws are not in the right place and the bobbin winder isn't exactly right but it sews! And without strain now that it's had a nice little dose of oil and a good clean'n!

This blanket, above, and burp cloth set, below, were already made before the sudden failure of said SINGER and I was able to take pictures and write new listings today. The most NEW listings in one day since, I can't remember when. Here's to getting back to business --- now go clean YOUR machine!

Also new today, Pink Stripe Flannel Crib Sheet, Diaper Clutch, Sky Miles Bib and Burp Set.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More of Ivy Walk

Here are a couple of more pics of the townhouse at One Ivy Walk. The Lusterstone dining room walls pairs nice with the glazing on all of the wood trim and coffered ceiling.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good Morning Atlanta!

A beautiful spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee here in this new townhouse in Smyrna, GA!
One Ivy Walk is the place where our little team has worked all week on a long list of projects in this beautiful, brand new townhome! Each morning Rhonda leaves her side of town at the crack of dawn, picking us up one by one. The big Atlanta gas shortage didn't slow us down as we carpooled the 2-5 of us each day, loaded with ladders, brushes, woolies, a variety of paint products & tape!!! Lots & lots of tape!!! Ipods, sack lunches & gingersnaps kept up going.
The toughest room was this master bathroom; stripes, sky, clouds, glaze. I love the layout of this space; foyer leads from bedroom into either walk-in closet or to bathroom. His & hers vanity areas, flanking the barrel ceiling hallway, an enormous tub & mirror at the far end of the room. Double walk-in shower with built in bench opposite another foyer type area with built in linen storage armoire that leads to the separate toilet area.
Join the Movement to go Beyond a Cure!
The Love/Avon Army of Women offers a revolutionary new opportunity for YOU to partner with research scientists to move us beyond a cure.
Breast cancer has been around for decades, but it does not have to be our future. We can be the generation that eliminates breast cancer by identifying what causes this disease and stopping it before it starts. This is your chance to be part of the research that will end breast cancer. Sign up for your sister, mother, daughter, granddaughter, best friend, and the woman you met last week.
Help us eradicate breast cancer once and for all. Join the Army of Women today!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Soups On!!! Pasta E Fagioli

To the Mom who I talked to in Kroger tonight, looking for something new for dinner...this is for you! Enjoy!!!

Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli

1 T oil
2 lbs lean ground beef
12 oz onion, chopped
14 oz carrots, slivered
14 oz celery, diced
48 oz canned tomatoes, diced
2 C red kidney beans
2 C white kidney beans
88 oz beef stock
1 T oregano
2 ½ t pepper
5 t parsley -- fresh, chopped
1 ½ t Tabasco sauce
48 oz spaghetti sauce
8 oz dry pasta shells

Sauté beef in oil in large 10 quart pot until beef starts to brown. Add onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce. Simmer until celery and carrots are tender, about 45 minutes. Add pasta to cook about 15-20 minutes before ready to serve.

Makes 9 quarts of soup! Just cut the recipe in half if this is too much.

For more recipes, check out !

Be sure & check out the Moroccan Chickpea Stew.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Going, going, gone!

With the help of Craigslist, Goodwill, Men's Warehouse Suit Drive, a weekend garage sale. You name it!

STUFF that has accumulated over the years is all finding its way out of here & boy does it feel good! I have had enough saving this & that. With Peter & Gloria married, Sara & Casey, married --- beautiful wedding gifts & don't need my old stuff. I've cleaned out closets, cupboards & cabinets, boxes of books in the attic. The fridge, the pantry, the freezer...scraps of wood from a variety of projects. More still needs to be done but I sure got things going & am on a roll.

I still have a few book boxes to go through --- a HUGE box of personal trainer/fitness manuals that needs to go. My YMCA days are over. Retired from aerobics, personal training, etc. Any takers on these things?

Tiffany (warmfuzzies) made this great treasury today with my "Lemon Square Yo Yo Pillow" as one of the items. This fantastic collection of grey & yellow items made the Front Page on Etsy. Thank you to Jill in Utah for snagging my pillow!!! Be sure & check out warmfuzzies and her amazing shop. I especially am loving her Cathedral Window Pillow Covers .

Friday, September 12, 2008

What Shall I Be?

When I was growing up I had a board game called * "What Shall I Be?" ; designed for girls with choices you'd expect; nurse, teacher, etc. There was one that I always would pick but never ever did --- "actress". But the music lessons, choir, sewing lessons certainly shaped the things I do & enjoy today, as well as those jobs that I've had & "retired" from.

I've retired my aerobic shoes and microphone, the personal trainer clipboard...retired are the church organ & piano offertory, wedding & hymn books...

Some days now it's my ladder, a paint brush & faux finishing tools. Other days, garden gloves, a shovel & pruners. Often it's the sewing machine calling my name, something for my etsy shop. I need to spend MORE time working on new recipes, maybe a cookbook. For now, I hope you enjoy my shop, this blog & my other recipes!

PS...don't miss my daughter Sara's wedding pictures & blog!
*Object of the game is to the first player to become a Career Girl.
Players move around the board collecting School Cards, Subject Cards and Personality Cards.
Game ends when one of the players has collected 4 School Cards of one Profession and 2 Subject Cards and 2 Personality Cards that are good for that Profession.
Professions and their respective schools are:
College - Teacher
Airline Training School - Airline Hostess
Drama School - Actress
Nursing School - Nurse
Charm School - Model
Ballet School - Ballet Dancer
(No doctors, lawyers, designers....certainly not Vice President or President!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor of Love, Etsy Treasury

This treasury took me by surprise! Guess I was in the right place at the right time but then there's that box, looking for a title...Labor Day I birthday usually falls sometime during that weekend but this year the holiday came early but we'll use the theme & found some CUTE maternity t's in honor of my mom, laboring away --- we won't say how many years ago! The "Maker Maternity" shirt sold but another was relisted in it's place so check out these great shops!





Thursday, August 28, 2008

Charred Corn Guacamole with Corn Chips

My collection of recipes with southwest flavors just grows and grows. I've been anxious to try this one for a couple of weeks but haven't had the occasion until a couple of days ago. It was a hit even with the non-guacamole eaters so you know that made me happy!
Charred Corn Guacamole with Corn Chips is a Bobby Flay recipe, one of my many fabulous finds on Food Network. The instructions for actually grilling the corn is included but I'd like to add a side note:
Tuesday, when I was preparing the side dishes for dinner the remnants of Hurricane Fay brought much needed rain to drought stricken Georgia! Very happy to have the rain but the grilling was impossible. Plan B....I used my Calphalon Griddle to char the corn & start the cooking, brushed the ears with oil before putting onto the hot griddle. I felt they were not as done as I wanted but not to worry. Onto a plate, 3 minutes in the microwave, covering to steam after cooking, leaving until cool enough to handle & cut from the cob. I'm sure that the grilling would've added even more but as it was, we certainly did enjoy and will definitely make again!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

No Worries, continues...

This was Clinton on his own horse.
A beautiful demonstration, unbelievable control, gorgeous animal!

Just wanted to add a few more pics.

Heading back for the 2nd day, hope to have some more tonight!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

No Worries! ...horsemanship by Clint Anderson

A wonderful day of "innovation, inspriration, & instruction", today in Conyers at the Georgia International Horse Park with Clinton Anderson leading the way!

Looking forward to tomorrow &
thanks to Charles & Suzanne for a great day!
And thanks to Jonathan for most of these pics!
(down front & down under)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Ultimate Mango Salsa

Mango Morning II by Sandra Blazel*

I've made & we've thoroughly enjoyed several salsa recipes that involve a mango! Earlier in the summer when my son Peter & his lovely bride Gloria were giving a bridal shower for his sister, (my daughter) Sara & (now son-in-law) Casey, I needed to make a double batch of to take to the party. So, the birth of this recipe, the combination of two great recipes that I've found on Food Network plus another recipe in a magazine...alas...

The Ultimate Mango Salsa

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
1 cup watermelon, diced small
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup peeled, diced European or English cucumber
1 finely chopped jalapeno
1 inch fresh ginger root, grated or minced
1/3 cup diced red onion
20 blades fresh chives, finely chopped
lime juice
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

Salt and pepper

Combine the mango, watermelon, cucumber, jalapeno, ginger root, red onion, chives, lime juice and cilantro leaves and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Use as a condiment to chips, the Rice & Black Bean Salad recipe, also on this blog, along side your favorite grilled chicken, shrimp or fish! ....which brings me back to Tortilla Soup! I now have a new addition to this recipe; adding a can of black beans & the kernals from 2 ears of corn gave this already great recipe an added bit of color, texture, flavor and took it to the next level....making a note to self AND in my recipe...

*Sandra suggests pouring the salsa over a block of cream cheese and spread that on crackers as is sometimes done with chutney. Great idea from this etsyian in beautiful Hawaii.

Aloha and Mahalo, I hope you all enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Delicious, Nutritious AND Economical Dinner!?!

I'm always looking for all of the above and have to please the less adventurous male eaters in the house but stumbled upon a keeper! We've had black beans & rice before but the addition of the corn and spices, cumin and coriander, update this classic combination.
For me, this was dinner, the salad and watermelon, of course! For the guys, they had to have a serving of meat--- tonight it was pork chops for them, but this salad can stand alone as a complete protein---delicious, nutritious AND economical.
Rice, Black Bean, and Corn Salad

2 cloves garlic
2 onions
2 ears of corn
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspon ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup long-grain rice (not converted)
1 1/2 cups drained canned black beans
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice

Mince garlic and finely chop enough onion to measure 1 cup. Cut enough kernels from cob to measure 1 1/2 cups.

In a small heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring water to a boil with garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in rice and cook, covered, over low heat 15 minutes. Stir in corn and cook, covered, 3 minutes, or until water is absorbed and rice is just tender. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl to cool completely.

Rinse and drain black beans. Stir cilantro into rice with beans, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lemon Square

I finished this little project this morning & hoped to have a new listing in my etsy shop by early afternoon. Problems uploading my images mean that I've got to wait until my technical help makes his way home for dinner. So....I'll post here, just to show that I did something today! And, just so you're not disappointed if you thought there might be a recipe? Keep reading! It's here too!!!
Lemon Square Yo Yo Pillow
A bright modern lemon print by Alexander Henry combined with an old fashion yo-yo technique will add a cheery punch of sunshine to any room. Yellow buttons accent the center of each circle.

This is a 9.25" little lemon square with finished edges of yellow rick rack & white piping. Back is finished with a flap and a removable insert for easy cleaning. Insert was made of super soft fiberfill and is included.

Creamy Lemon Squares

1/2 cup (1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)

4 large egg yolks

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper leaving an overhang on two sides: butter paper.
  2. Make crust: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour, and mix on low just until combined. Press dough into the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan; prick all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set, 25-30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  4. Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 days. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares, and dust with confectioners sugar.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to School

My youngest is now a 4th hard to believe! Isn't it great to have a backpack full of new pencils, crayons, and the classic composition notebook? New NIKE sneakers & don't you know I love TARGET for new school threads?!? Today's lunch won't be the usual sandwich but leftover cheese pizza from Mellow Mushroom---last nights dinner.

These pics are from earlier in the summer in his awesome lemonade stand. The sign was a product of his newlywed-designer-big-sis Sara.

As the bus pulled away this morning I hit the pavement with Charlie & Cesar, back to working on the walk, putting into practice the idea that I'm the pack leader of these 2 canines!

On to the "to-do" list with the house to myself!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It takes a village

and an awesome family & friends to pull off a wedding like this!

Thank you isn't enough for all who helped make Saturday, August 2nd such a fantastic day for my daughter Sara & her new husband Casey.

The picture above in the pasture where the ceremony took place. Antique windows from my daughter-in-law's family property in Cumming, GA set in frames of 2 x 4's, sided with deconstructed wood pallets & scrap lumber. The antique mantel & doors were furnished to us by Ian Keith Henderson at Warehouse Antique Mall, 216 Davis Street, Monroe, GA 30655. He has 2 great shops in Monroe; North building (770)266-6696, South Building (770)207-4976.

The outdoor wedding chapel was built primarily by Sara's dad/my fab. husband, Scott & the groom, Casey with help from little bro, Jonathan, pulling nails with Casey's dad Jeff.

Wedding location at my in-law's in Monroe, GA. They opened their hearts, home, land & life in order to make the dream wedding a reality! I couldn't have hung all those lights without the awesome tractor & its driver! Thanks Charles!!!

Neighbor, Charlene opened her property for parking, church friends Stephanie, Howard & Penny also volunteered their time & energy for the big day. The whole Hanks & Toombs family there & were active participants in so many jobs before & after the event to get the show going & disassemble the aftermath! A million times "THANK YOU!!!" to you all!!! Much love!

In the background but no less appreciated, Mom & Dad helping me make tea & lemonade, moving flower arrangements for delivery, picking up my house while I was in brother Jeff, his wife & my parents stepped in with caring for the young ones during the ceremony & reception. Ron & family for taking care of sound.

More to come! Blogging begins again in earnest!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Custom Canvas Banner or Sign

This is the second table banner for Carole Axium Designs & I'm so pleased with the way that it turned out. She has a beautiful jewelry shop! Used at craft shows, these are a great way to have your logo & name displayed. Each are hand painted (by me) on canvas & come with a canvas carrying bag that I make to store & transport. Below are 2 pieces for Tuscan Sun, a wellness center in Decatur, GA. A table banner that is used at health fairs & a large canvas mounted on board that now hangs in the studio. Contact me with any requests to have a custom banner for your shop!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day & Beyond

Everybody had great ideas for earthday today but I didn't see this anywhere. This is my all-time-favorite-couldn't-live-without tool...
I purchased this tool from a vendor at the Southeastern Flower Show in Atlanta, GA about 8 years ago. This sweet lady is still selling these and I'm told that they also come in a longer handled version (I know what I want for my birthday this year!!!). Sun Garden is in North Carolina. As you can see, mine is well worn! The handle was painted by me to make it easier to see when I set it down in the garden. The Homie Hand Plow, this Korean tool does it all!!! Last time I checked she was not selling on-line but does have a toll-free number 1 (800) 579-1722. Similiar items can be found in a search of
"korean garden hoe" and you may find a similiar tool at an Asian market in your area.
It's a handtool that is great for digging, weeding, hoeing of course!

Viburnum is in full bloom right now while the cherry tree has done it's thing. This cardinal coesn't seem to mind.

More pics from my garden.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Margarita Pie

Tonight's menu was another Southwestern inspired with Margarita Pie for dessert. A pretzel crust and creamy lime filling with bit of tequilla is simple & a make-ahead ending for easy entertaining. More of the menu & recipes here. The Sesame-Ginger Chicken with Watermelon Salsa was the main course. I used a Rachel Ray recipe tonight for the Curry Couscous & Mango Salsa. "Yumm-O!"
Celebration? You bet!!! Date & plans are coming together for my daughter Sara's wedding! Son, Peter & his new bride were here as well. It's all good!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Homemade Granola

Full of dried fruits, nuts, sweetened with honey,
this granola is perfect for breakfast.
I like mine with yogurt! Also makes a great snack.
Homemade Granola
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups nuts
(sliced almonds, walnuts, pecan pieces)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup good honey
4 1/2 cups of dried fruit combonation
(small diced dried apricots*, figs, dried cherries, craisins, banana chips,
trail mix blend also works well)
1 cup roasted lightly salted cashews (add at the end)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, and nuts (except for the cashews) together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan.
Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 40-45 minutes.
Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the dried fruit combo and cashews. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.
* This is my variation of a recipe I found. It called for dried apricots which I LOVE but the preservative used is a sulfate that many of us find as an asthma trigger so read your label and use other fruit if it may be a problem for anyone you may be serving. The original recipe called for 2 cups sliced almonds. I used a combination of almonds, pecans & walnuts to make the 2 cups.

Friday, April 11, 2008

House Beautiful!

Working in a beautiful kitchen this past week, glazing cabinets & trim in the fabulous home. This is the breakfast area, picture is taken from the edge of a very large wrap around island. It's where the sink is along with set of bar stools---perfect spot for after-school or late-night snack, homework, etc.
This chandelier was off-white with the leaves a light green...until I took some paints & glazes to this piece. A closer view is below. With 50+ cabinet doors & drawers, PLUS the crown molding, baseboards, etc., it took the hands of 5 of us over about 5 days to complete. Many hands make light work...OK, not exactly light work!
Stove, hood and island receive a different treatment; painted black & distressed.