Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ugly Duckling Easter Dandy - a candy craft to do with a kid

It's been SNOWING here these past few days.
Not the springlike weather we would prefer just days before Easter. So the boy and I went to the supermarket to pick out all our eggs to dye with the rest of the family and then we made up these funny candies.

If you've got kids in your kitchen or little people who like play-doh, this is a fun, festive candy.

Vanilla Frosting
Peanut Butter
Powdered Sugar
Plastic Teaspoons
Wax Paper
Cookie sheet
White Chocolate chips
Oil-based food coloring
Frosting or chocolate decorator bag with tips
Mini cupcake liners or candy cups

Mix one part frosting and one part peanut butter and two parts powdered sugar well with a rubber spatula. Remove dough and knead, just like you would a lump of play-doh. Consistency should be like stiff play-doh, not too soft or oily feeling. Add a bit more powdered sugar if you need to. This is an eyeballing it sort of recipe. If you need exact instructions, you can use any peanut butter ball candy recipe-- just make sure your final dough is not too oily, or it will be difficult to dip in the warm melting chocolate.

Once it's smooth, make a ball in your hands and give it to the little person with two plastic teaspoons. He can press into an egg (almond) shape. Kids love this yummy, edible, squishable dough!

Arrange on wax paper covered baking sheet.

When all your eggies are made, pop into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Now it's time to decorate!

Melt white chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave on high, one minute at a time, stirring between minutes. It should only take 2 -3 minutes. Reserve some to color. Dip frozen egg-shaped candy completely in melted chocolate, remove on the flat edge of a butter knife and shake a bit to remove excess. Return to wax paper.

Decorate as you like and place each in its own candy cup. We are not perfectionists, as you can tell, but we had fun making ugly ducklings, funny chicks and rascally rabbits. Hope you do too!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spaghetti Ball? Sixties mod light fixture turns out perfect cottage charm...


I spent a week or so helping my parents as my momma recovered from hip surgery.  Since I arrived home, I hit the ground running with the holidays, etc. My oldest baby girl is dancing 'en pointe' in the Nutcracker Ballet at the INB Performing Arts Center this weekend. I am so thrilled to see her up on the big stage. She works so hard.  While at my parents, I made A LOT of fun freezer meals for them -- like French Onion Soup and Creamy Alfredo Spaghetti Pie.

Speaking of Spaghetti, (nice segue, huh?) I had the most fun transforming this 1960s era spun Lucite spherical spaghetti pendant fixture into this glistening, crystal snow-ball centerpiece.


I found this Lucite shade at an outdoor sale at one of my favorite thrift shops here in Spokane. It had been outside exposed to the elements and was coated in road-grime -- you know that gray-brown city dirt. I thought I'd clean it up and sell it at my etsy storefront, magiebelle, or use it as a garden gazing ball, but inspiration struck and after a long time of gentle scrubbing with my favorite Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, my funky fixture became a sparkling spectrum of crystalline, and orb that makes me think of the Winter Warlock ("just Winter, if you will") who's cold heart was warmed by the the gentle love of Kris Kringle. Ahhh, Holiday Warm Fuzzy Moment!

Magical. Beautiful. Vintage. MagieBelle. What transformational decorating can you create with a little transformational vision?

* Here are the full lyrics to Winter's famous song -- just for fun 

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin' 'cross the flo-o-or
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin' out the door.

You never will get where you're goin'
If you never get up on your feet
Come on! There's a good tail wind blowin'
A fast walkin' man is hard to beat!

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin 'cross the flo-o-or
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin' out the door.

If you want to change your direction
If you're time of life is at hand
Well don't be the rule -- be the exception
A good way to start is to stand.

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin 'cross the flo-o-or
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin' out the door.

If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn
Oh, you do?!
You mean that it's just my election
Just that!
To vote for a chance to be reborn.

You put one foot in front of the other
And soon you are walkin' 'cross the flo-o-or
You put one foot in front of the other
And soon you are walkin' out the door.

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you are walkin 'cross the flo-o-or
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin' out the door!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Carving Curcurbita Maximus, among other things...

Traditions are funny things, aren't they?

Why do we hide eggs at easter, put trees in our homes at Christmas or carve pumpkins at Halloween?

These are things we get to talk about at our house with little people AND foreign exchange students.

Something fun about sharing our home and life with someone from Korea is that we get to try and explain why we do the the things we do around here! Ha! 

Sometimes there's no explanation at all for traditions -- like the lady in the story of the baked ham. For years she sliced off the ends of her ham -- when asked why, she replied, "Well, my mother always sliced the ends off of her ham!" When grandma was asked to what purpose she cut her ham at each end she answered, "My pan was too small, so I had to cut the ends off of the ham to make it fit." 

So when our resident Korean was beginning to empty her pumpkin of all the mushy, stringy guts, she asked, "Why do you do this? Is this fun?"

But by the end of it, she announced, "This is fun!" and took photos of her glowing gourd goblin along with the rest on the front porch!

Sometimes we just persevere through traditions because they are simply fun and simply shared, even if they create for us some extra work.

Next, we get to introduce her to the Famous Santos Pumpkin Roll! We live on a hill, maybe you can figure out the rest...

For lots of fun information on pumpkins I loved this blogpost at ladybug letter written a few years ago... ever heard of ponpoms or pepitas? The "Pumpkin Papers"?

Click to read all about it -- interesting and fun!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Sometimes I can relate to a sparrow, can't you?

I'm not remarkable, really, just a common, variety house-bird.  Sometimes it seems that we're so common and like one another that our chirpings are indistinguishable and our markings and coloring are quite average -- just like everyone else.  We're part of a big flock yet no one carries us -- we have to take to the air with our own wings, so to speak.

I've long wanted to embark on a project to help people see that although we humans are common to one another in so many ways, each one of us has equal value and a unique purpose. I believe that women and girls especially tend to dismiss our value so we don't seem prideful or arrogant, yet in the process of striving for humility, we clip our own wings and never go on the adventure that's before us. 

Perhaps it's a protective mechanism to diminish oneself before anyone else can inflict that upon us. But, I want to tell you, whomever you might be, wherever you might be -- YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE VITAL and you have a message to share with someone who needs to hear it.  Perhaps it's your babies or your neighbors or some random person in the aisle at Target. 

Perhaps it's yourself. 

Flap those wings, sing that song -- don't miss it.

Sometimes I express this in art, in addition to writing. It's not fine art, for I'm not trained whatsoever. But I've found that as I'm engaging in the art of expression, whether it be writing, collage, drawing, cooking love into dinner for my family or enjoying conversation over mugs of coffee, I am practicing the art of using what I've been given to sing out the message of hope -- I am flapping my wings, balancing on the thin stretch of twig between terra and air, I'm feeling the rush of air on my face. I am vital because I'm learning to not be afraid, I'm learning that the art of trusting is connected to the art of doing.
(in progress)

I found a poem by Victor Hugo that inspired the above picture but more importantly better communicates my message today:

"Let us be like the bird, for a moment perched
On a frail branch while he sings.
He feels it bend, but he sings his song,
For he knows that he has wings."

So fellow Sparrows, Let us be like the bird for a moment perched on a frail branch while we sing....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Roasted Tomato Caprese Soup -- Mid Week Wonder

     One of my favorite late-summer salads is the simple, yet amazing Caprese Salad - a combination of fresh mozzerella, garden-fresh basil and vine-ripened tomatoes with a splash of oil and balsamic vinegar.  Mmmmm.

      As summer gracefully bows to autumn, there's still an abundance of tomatoes and this easy roasted tomato soup is a perfect place for the toms to come into their sweet, full, fall flavor.

     Use any variety and a combination of tomatoes, if you like.  You'll also need:

1/2 cup olive oil
5-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 onion cut into eighths
salt and pepper
a bunch of fresh basil, chopped (if you really can't get some, dried will do)
2-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained, optional, but I like them!
Bay leaf
a bit of butter
splash of balsamic vinegar

Cut larger tomatoes and seed them, cherry tomatoes can be tossed into the roasting pan whole. place tomatoes, peel side up, onion, garlic into roasting pan or onto a large jellyroll pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat, salt and pepper a bit.

Roast in 450 degree over for 20-30 minutes or until the skins are soft and the onions look carmelized and garlic is soft. You may stir once or twice if you like during roasting.

Remove from oven and scrape everything from roasting pan into a dutch oven, large pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes or however long you like.

If you have an immersion blender, remove pot from oven, and blend until smooth. If you don't, you'll need to allow the soup to cool a bit and blend in batches in the blender.

Serve with a chunk of fresh mozz and some basil and a handful of croutons. Tasty!

This soup makes a wonderful base for sauces, too. I added a couple cups to cooked, diced chicken breast meat, some asiago cheese and butter and tossed with cooked pasta and almost everyone in the family loved it -- I say almost because I have one kid who still thinks butter-noodles are the best!

Enjoy this easy, delicious, mid-week wonder as we welcome autumn!

(more pics to be added soon!!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Magie Belle Loves Grandma Pearl - even though she never, ever really rode a horse

Southern Lady Vintage hosts Vintage Love Saturday each week and the theme this week is vintage photographs -- here's my pic:

Grandma Pearl Never Really Rode a Horse...

... But she's been married 60 years, had seven kids, loves 21 grandkids and 2 great-grandkids, taught me how to read, introduced me to Jesus when I was four-years-old, watched countless old movies with me and made the best sugar cookies in the world.

She's 81 years old. She's what she'd call an antique. She's my mom.  I love this photo of her because although she's never actually sat on a real, live horse, she's looking quite the pro right here! 

This picture was taken in the early 1950s. Ain't she cute?

Taken at a celebration of the birthday of her Indiana town, she was whooping it up with Lew, the love of her life, who always a clean-shaven swede, grew a red beard just for the midwest celebration.

Mom's having hip surgery in a couple of weeks, and my dear husband is taking a week off of work to handle all of my responsibilities so that I can help mom and dad. Can't wait to see them again (they live very far away....)