Yeasty Mosaic at Disney's California Adventure

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

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.

About Me

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