Yeasty Mosaic at Disney's California Adventure

Yeasty Mosaic at Disney's California Adventure
Yeasty Mosaic at Disney's California Adventure

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yeasty Photo Safari: Gingerbread Village

A Sweet Display in Downtown Pittsburgh

We happened upon a holiday display of creative gingerbread houses the other day in Pittsburgh, in the Downtown PPG complex. It's amazing what chidlren and adults can do with some crackers and icing.

The houses were on display inside the buildings, which border the city park where a ice skating ring was installed a few years ago. Families and single skaters made their way 'round and 'round the decorated tree, only stopping to have hot chocolate.

Inside, with the sun streaming in the windows, we found our own source for hot chocolate and holiday music, performed by young symphony musicians.

Here are just some of the houses that were on display. I have always wanted to make one of these and for some reason haven't done it. This was quite the inspriation to get it done!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Creative Spotlight

Caps for Kids program

Residents at Sherwood Oaks. a retirement community in Cranberry Township, north of Pittsburgh, have once again covered this Christmas tree with handmade hats they created throughout the year. Using different patterns and yarns, the women knit and crochet hundreds of hats to be given to the local Caps for Kids program, which then distributes them to needy children.

What a lovely way to show caring creativity to children who may otherwise be cold this winter. The crafters also make some scarves and mittens for the children.

A lovely project.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 43

Polka Dot Christmas Balls

Small Christmas ball ornaments waiting to be decorated

I was out shopping the other day and came across small containers of tiny Christmas ornaments that had polka dots all over them. I loved the idea of them and decided I would buy some and put them in some square vashes I have. Voila! An easy, inexpensive centerpiece.

I would need at least three of the containers to fill the vases, and was shocked when I turned one container over to see the price tag: $12. So for nearly $40 I could have that simple, inexpensive centerpiece. Didn't seem right somehow.

I then visited a JoAnn's craft store and found the same little ornaments sans polka dots on sale for $2.50 a container. That's when I had a dangerous idea: Why couldn't I paint dots on these ornaments to get the same effect?

So that's what I am doing. I already had white paint and decided I could use mini muffin pans filled with tissues as a drying rack for my little gems. I am using an old rounded embossing tool to make the paint dots but you could use a paint brush or anything else that will make a dot.
I can only paint dots on one half of the balls at a time for obvious reasons. I will let these dry overnight and then paint on the other side. I will then have 24 decorated balls when I am done with this first batch. I know I need more than that so I will probably paint 24 more.

As you can imagine, this is pretty time-consuming, but they have turned out to be pretty and still cost less than the original ones and I am enjoying myself. Very Yeasty!

Note: Here is the almost-finished final product! I need to add a few more ornaments to this vase and then make more to fill up its twin. Looks pretty good so far!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Creative Spotlight

Creativity Two Ways: Photography vs. Painting 

I took this photo in October in a small town not far from here named Volant. This barn was located at the back of the parking lot where my sisters-in-law and I left our car, choosing to walk around the town on the beautiful fall day.

We took a lot of photos that day, and then my sister-in-law Maggie decided to paint a couple of the scenes.

Therefore, we have this beautiful renditon of the same scene:

This painting has so much more life and color in it than the photograph I took.

Here's another example: 

This is a very nice photo, I think, and it tells the story of fall and plenty. But when Maggie wielded her magic, this is what resulted:

Beautiful, eh?

I love taking pictures and will continue to do so, because it makes me happy. I can't paint as beautifully as this, and maybe you can't either, but creativity is expressed in different ways by different people. If you can't do one thing, you can do another. Everything has its place.

To see more of Maggie's work, visit her blog.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yeasty Photo Safari: Marshall Island

There is a tiny island in the lake at North Park, a county park near us. I had never set foot on it till last wekeend, and decided it was worth more than one visit. This is a long shot of the island (where the pines are).  On the left you can see a small wooden walkway and on the right, a purple martin birdhouse.

The island's walkway; one of the many benches where you can fish. 

I asked a nice fisherman if I could take a photo of his bobbin case.

Birdhouses have been placed on the island to encourage wildlife.

A sign letting you know you have arrived.

These burning bushes reach out into North Park Lake, where Marshall Island sits.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 42

Ah, Cider

I am not a huge fan of apples. I think it comes from all those lunches in high school when we tried to eat only an apple so we could lose weight. A lot of pressure to put on a fruit.

But at the grocery store today I saw gallons of apple cider and thought that it was time to make some. Since apple cider is much sweeter than  plain old apples, it suits me better.Especially the cinnamon stick used for garnish.

Here is an excellent recipe for cider from Emeril. Something to warm you up on the cold nights ahead!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 41

Welcome, Fun Yellow

After many years of being a dull blue, I decided to have my laundry room painted while the painter was here doing some other work.

It didn't take me long to settle on yellow for the walls. I love yellow, and unfortunately, there is a limit to where you can use it. (I know those of us who are Fans of Yellow might disagree with that, but that's the facts.)

I had used bright yellow once before in a bathroom and really liked that a lot. So I chose the color Fun Yellow for the laundry room, which I hope is an indication of things to come.

Why settle for blah when you can have fabulous, I always say. Well, maybe I don't say that, but I could. And probably will once my room is done.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yeasty Adventures (not)

By Carmen L. Vilanova
It's sad to say how easily life's frustrations can cause creativity to vanish in the wind. I wanted to offer a really great idea here to nudge us all into fall, but found that since I am having technical difficulties right now, I couldn't get my mind around it.

For days now I haven't been able to access my own website, It just stopped working and even consulting with my web ladies hasn't helped. I also joined a problem solving forum where people are really nice and helpful, but this is such an odd problem no one can help me fix it.

Everyone else I know can get on the site. It's just me who is being shut out. Now I know the universe has a sense of humor, but some of us aren't laughing! Argh!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 40

Halloween's a'coming!

I whipped up these Halloween potholders last year for my daughter-in-law to brighten up her kitchen. I crocheted them and had fun adding the details.

For those who crochet, basically you make two orange and two black circles, whatever size you want. Then you add little crocheted details, also simple, plus a little embroidery for the cat's whiskers and mouth.  Sew the two circles together and then crochet a short strip to be used as a hanger.

These are more decorative than useful.. If you really want to use them to hold hot pots, you will have to add some type of insulation between the two main circles. I prefer to hang them on the refrigerator where they make me smile and stay clean! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Green Creativity: A Natural Fence to Open a Labyrinth

My friend Cuong Doan created this natural fence from yard scraps. Fashioned of ewe and ash branches with apple tree wooden feet, the fence marks the opening to the painted labyrinth he designed outside the office of his massage therapy office in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.

Cuong's goal, after making another fence, is to continue to fill the space with bird feeders and plants to make it an inviting spot for visitors to come and rest for awhile. There is a table and chair set waiting for someone to read or sip tea, or to think about entering the labyrinth.

For more about Cuong's labyrinth, visit here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Green Creativity: Garden Art from Recyclables

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

At Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, the summer flower show includes lovely summer blooms as you would expect, but also some "green" ideas for recycling used items as art in your garden.

Phipps, one of America's Greenest Public Gardens, prides itself on being a leader for a more sustainable future.

Below (and above) are some photos of how items were recycled into garden art such as using bamboo, a great renewable resource, to create fabrics, as illustrated by the sculptural flower petals in the photo above.

Also, glass bottle pieces are suspended in architecural panels; cans become decorative accents, and plastic bottles are repurposed into fabrics.

Great ideas and only the beginning of reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 39

Bracelets Galore!

If you can't tell, this is a jewelry organizer holding all of my bracelets. I have been looking for something to display my bracelets so that I can remember what I have and wear them all. I previously had them in a cut glass dish my aunt had given me. It worked more as a decorative piece than a way to choose bracelets to wear. I would always have to dig into the bowl to find what I wanted, not really seeing all of them.

Since I have been accumulating them my entire life, there are quite a few as you can see. (Like most of you, I love bracelets. You never have to try them on,  they are usually inexpensive, always colorful and perfect.)

I bought this jewelry stand at Michael's the other day, but now realize I at least need one more since the bracelets are so crammed together I still can't see them all.

Got any suggestions on how you store your jewelry?  Pass them on!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 38

Haul out your summer jewelry!

The locusts are strumming, the songbirds have stopped singing and there are mums for sale at the big box stores. It can only mean one thing: Summer is drawing to a close.

I have made a conscious decision to wear as much of my summer jewelry as I can, as often as I can in the next days. If I could wear two sets of earrings at a time, I would be tempted. Too soon I will be putting this colorful stuff away and replacing it with the more conservative jewelry of fall.

Gone will be the white capris and the white sandals and the lightweight evening bags. Gone will be my pink (with blue trim) shoes and my mint green walking shoes. Back to black and brown and navy and gray, which I love, but doesn't it seem like we wear those colors more than enough?

I hope you will take this hint and start wearing all of  those whimsical items you cherish and wear only in the summer. Enjoy them while you can, even if you have to make a smiley face with them!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 37

It may be dorky, well, actually it is, but I have begun to use a springy wrist coil to attach my keys to my wrist when I am out and about. The idea came to me when I found that a lot of summer slacks and capris don't have pockets, for some insane reason. And putting my keys into my purse caused them to be lost for minutes at a time.

I had to look around for a few days to locate this type of key ring, since most places were sold out I kid you not! I found one finally at Loew's of all places.

One of the best ways I have found to use this new toy is when I walk and am carrying way too much stuff in my pockets, like my phone and my camera and sometimes my ipod for music.

As cool as this can be, I have to admit that even with the keys jangling from my wrist, I still find myself often beginning to search for them in the caverns of my purse only to realize where they are. Guess one thing wrist coils can't help with is  loss of memory!

Not sure this is a fashion forward step, and may not be approved of by Tim Gunn, but for now, it's helping me keep track of things, even though I may look like someone who should be managing a warehouse on the waterfront somewhere. I can live with that.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 36

Some tiny indulgences while on vacation, gathered by a friend of mine:
·        a small vase of mint in the bathroom (buy mint in the produce section)
·        slice up a lemon or lime and keep it in the fridge for your ice water, food
·        real half and half for your coffee. Really.
·        cocoa butter for your hands
·        a special CD for a relaxation “trip.” This could be anything from spa “New Age” music to Ella Fitzgerald to Gregorian chant. When you are stressing out, put it on SIT DOWN and close your eyes for 15 minutes or five songs. (a sleep mask helps to keep your eyes closed)
·        a sleep mask

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Creative Spotlight

CindyStock Concerts Raise Money for Cancer Patients

It's not easy to raise money these days, even for the best of causes. But that hasn't stopped Cindy Bandula Yates and her family and friends.

Every summer they host a musical venue designed as a fundraiser to help those who can't afford cancer screenings or support services. This year's CindyStock 8 will once again take place at Cindy and Ted's home north of Pittsburgh, off I-79. More than 200 people are expected to lounge in lawn chairs and on blankets as they enjoy the fine music of five performers and good food during the afternoon, rain or shine.

Hats off to Cindy for a creative idea that really works. Not only does she help cancer patients, she is an inspiration to all who want to help a cause close to their hearts, It's a lot of work, but worth it.

For more information, visit here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 35

As promised, here are two pages I recently completed in my new Smash notebook (really an artist's sketchbook with heavy duty pages). For more info, refer to Creativity Tip No. 34).

As you can see, the items I smashed into the book are ones that I probalby wouldn't have scrapbooked, but still were items I didn't want to just throw away.

I added some scrapping supplies to the pages to jazz them up a little (the sun, FUN sign) and think this may be the most fun of all: Using up some of my stash.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 34

Go Ahead: Smash Your Memories!

There's a new product being offered to scrapbooking afficionados. It's called Smash, and it is exactly what it says. You take a notebook and then glue in all of the small memorabilia that we all generate every day, but which is often not accompanied by great photos. So instead of throwing out the goodies because they are not scrapbook-worthy, you Smash! them into a notebook and keep them all in one place.

There's a great video on Smash at this website, where you will also see the product line, althoug it is very easy to use things from your existing stash.

I couldn't find the actual Smash notebook so I bought a sketchbook at an office supply store that I can use to smash my stuff into (It has sturdy pages which is all that is required.)

I think this is a great idea for all of us who hate to throw some things away like the latest baby pictures, business cards for local restaurants, a color palette for a potential dining room paint job.

This new trend allows for all sorts of Yeasty creativity. Jot down your ideas for projects or gifts or new books or anything you are interested in. It's your book, and if it gets too big, that's exactly the point. Enjoy it.

Check back often. I will post some photos of my best Smashed pages, once I get some of them done!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 33

Photographers: Sometimes it pays to look left

I almost missed this beautiful sunset photo the other night as I was walking around our high school. I was actually trying to take a photo of a robin perched on a tall tree serenading us with song as the day drew to a close (See photo below).

So I zoomed in with my little camera to get the shot of the robin, and after loooking at the result, realized I was too far away to get a decent shot of something so small. But just to the left of the robin, the sun was setting over some pine trees. I quickly snapped the shot.

Just goes to show you that sometimes what you think you want to focus on may not be the best shot. It pays to be open and really look at what's around us, to see what else is on the horizon. It just might be a once-of-a-kind photo you will cherish.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Creative Spotlight: Yummy Hostess Gifts for Summer

Guest Blogger Gloria Troyer, creator of the terrific food blog, Tempt Every Palate:

Gloria's BBQ sauce dressed up as a great
summer hostess gift. Yum!

Now that my husband and I are empty nesters, we live in an apartment building where we are not allowed to use a gas BBQ.  It is considered a fire hazard if it is stored on a balcony.  However that does not stop me from making my own sauce to BBQ ribs in the oven.   

I usually make a small batch of barbeque sauce and will give it away as a hostess gift. I don’t always use a recipe.  Sometimes I will get a basic sauce cooking and add whatever is on hand.  I might use a fresh hot pepper like a jalapeno finely diced, commercial mustard, ketchup, maple syrup as a sweetener, or add beer to the recipe as part of the liquid. It is fun to experiment and see what works for you. The following recipe will make two pints and is the perfect sauce to complement all types of ribs.

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cups of apple cider
  • ½ cup of cider vinegar
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of whole mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 12 ounce bottles of chili sauce* (I use my own home-made sauce)
  • Hot pepper sauce to taste
Bring all of the ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan.  Reduce heat and let it simmer until it has thickened and the volume looks to be half of what you started with.  Pour the hot sauce into two pint jars and seal with two sterilized lids. (I put the jars into a  water- bath and process it for 10 minutes. Remove with tongs and cool.)

It is a good idea to put a label on the jar and write what is inside and also jot down the date. It looks great like this as a gift.  But I like to take it a step further and decorate my jars.  If I am in a fabric store I always keep an eye open for decorative fabrics with themes that fit in with what I have made. I use cotton fabric and a fruit theme for jam, Christmas patterns for the holidays, and for BBQ sauce, I have fabrics with vegetables and hot peppers on them etc.

To decorate one jar of sauce:

Using pinking shears cut one six-inch square of fabric. Center the fabric on the jar lid.  Slip an elastic band over the fabric, gathering in around the rim. Take a 12 inch piece of ribbon that is ¼ inch wide and tie it around each jar lid. I also like to add a basting brush as part of the gift. Take the ribbon streamers and tie the basting brush tightly to the jar and finish it off by tying the remaining ribbon into a bow.

Gloria Troyer is an award winning freelance writer, broadcaster and author. Her writing career has branched out into many areas. She is keenly interested in the education of elementary students especially when it comes to food and diet. She also writes about health issues. She is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. You can read more about her at or

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 32

Creativity, Clutter or Both?

It can be hard to be creative when things around you are messy. That said, being messy is often the only way to get the creative juices running. Hmmmm. . .

I run both hot and cold on this issue. If I am scrapping a page or two, then just about everything I own in the craft department is out in plain sight so I can grab it if I need it. That works for me.

But when I couldn't free my small ruler that I keep in my crochet tool bag, I got frustrated. The ruler had become tangled up in some of the old thread and yarn that I had dumped into the bag, obviously not the right place for it.

That prompted me to clean out the ziploc bag, the contents of which included -- but were not limited to -- old buttons, a book on knitting tips, several sppols of thread, a roll of fishing line, a refrigerator magnet for my chiropractor, an old pill bottle filled with needles, several plastic row markers, two or three old printed patterns, a couple of crochet hooks, three sets of circular knitting needles (and I don't even knit much anymore), and bunches of yarn scraps.

I broke down and took out a new clear ziploc bag and only put in it the things that should go in a knitster's tool bag. I also put away the tote bag I have been using to cart yarn projects around and instead placed a basket next to my chair to hold the yarn and hook for one, and only one, project.

The neat results are pictured above. Wonder how long this will last?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 31

Jars of Summer Beauty

When you scrapbook, you end up with so much stuff you wonder what you will ever do with it -- and how you can keep yourself from buying more. Answer: Use it all up first, in creative ways of course!

I took some of my papers, trims, bits of fabric and lace and armed with some great ideas from Somerset Life magazine, used them to decorate old Mason jars which can now be used as summer vases.

Simply, you take an office tag and then glue or sew or punch items to it. Hang the tag from a strip of lace tied around the lip of the jar. (This makes both the tag and the lace removable for cleaning purposes.)

Who wouldn't want to receive a forever vase with some bright summer blooms in it? What a great hostess gift for a summer picnic. Be sure to give your recipient the jar's lid so she can use her gift for other purposes, such as storing herbs or other dry ingredients).

This technique could be used for different seasons as well, and since I might have some scrappy stuff for those holidays (!), I just may make some more.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Creativity Tip No. 30

Notoce how I planted a verbena and snap dragons protectively around the purple dahlia, hopefully so that the deer won't munch on it's purple-y goodness. We'll see how that works out!

Finally. . .finally. . . I got some some of my flowers planted.They had been sitting in their small pots for a couple of weeks or more, drying up and looking at me for rescue.

I planted the main pots on the front porch, and a couple of smaller ones sitting atop a driveway retention wall. I didn't get to the pots on the back deck yet, because I ran out of flowers. I actually under-bought --  which is a new experience for me at this time of year. I will have to run out and see what I can find to plant in the back before this weekend.

I enjoy seeing the beautiful blooming plants in their new homes, and am reminded of just how pretty summer can be. Creatively speaking, I tried to use the old pots I have on hand rather than buy any new ones. It's just part of my mindset to save and renew and reuse and all that good 'green" stuff.

About Me

I am the creator of the web's premiere Baby Boomer site: Boom This: A Generational Thing!(