Yeasty Mosaic at Disney's California Adventure

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grocery Stores Getting Creative, Too

I know it costs more to buy small packets of clean and cut up vegetables at the grocery store. At my store visit today, I noticed that the produce managers had moved these packages from the left rear of the produce section to pretty much front and center when you come into the store.

I looked around at the offerings and decided not to buy any now, but I thought to myself what a great idea this was for the holidays. If you slave over cutting up celery and onions and other veggies to make stuffing, you no longer have to do that. You can just grab a couple small tubs of already cut up vegetables and concentrate on more important things, like mashed potatoes.

I neglected to check the pricing of these small items when compared to buying vegetables in their natural state, but I am guessing they will cost more. How much, I don't know.

There's the decision: Pay more for convenience or not?

It will all depend next week on the mood I am in when I shop for Thanksgiving. Not sure which way I will go, but I know what my decision would have been back in the day when my children were young. I would have snapped up those pre-cut veggies so fast . . .

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Creative Fun with Lake Rocks

Lake rocks with Crochet Covers, stenciling, stamping

On a recent trip to Erie, PA to see the Tall Ships, we found a boat ramp on Lake Erie where smooth rocks by the thousands have come to rest.

I was intrigued by these rocks and gathered up a bunch to bring home. I found directions on the internet for covering the rocks with crochet using light thread (but I eventually made up my own patterns as it was easy).

I also began to stencil and stamp on them, using these techniques on the top rock, which I then positioned on top of a crocheted one. Very cool.

There's only one problem. Since the rocks are free and available and only need to be washed before use, you would think I would be making these by the boatload. But I just haven't had time to make the two hour drive back to Erie to gather up some more. Hope to do that soon.

If you are intrigued by this project, I hope you have a ready source of rocks like these near where you live.

Here are some more photos:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Cards Easy to Make

There's still time to make some handmade Halloween cards for all of the ghouls in your life. I simply bought some empty card sets at a craft store and rounded up some old paper remnants and some cute accents I had lying around for the October holiday. Even if you only have orange and black paper on hand, you can still come up with some clever ideas for card faces. And making them with little ones can be even more fun.

With so many neat card-making supplies and embellishments to choose from these days, making cards -- and scrapbook pages -- is easier than ever.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Make Your Own Pumpkin Lattes

It must be fall because the onslaught of giant orange-colored fruits is upon us. Not only do you see pumpkins lining the driveways of local markets, there are full displays featuring the fruity goodness at grocery stores.

I happen to like pumpkin, a lot, but usually limit its presence to pies, because nothing is better. But I have been eying up pumpkin-flavored lattes at local coffee shops and trying not to give in.

Thanks to Google, I did find the recipe for a simple pumpkin latte you can make at home for much less cost than buying one. Visit McCormick's website to find the recipe. Also, visit here for some unusual uses for pumpkin.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lose Track of Purchases no More!

I consider myself to be pretty good at organizing. Not perfect, mind you, but pretty good. So when I "re-organize" my office or craft supplies -- or anything else -- I am pretty frustrated when I can't find the new items I just bought when I look for them.

I find myself going back to look for them in their original spots before the massive decluttering and of course, they are not there.

I have come up with a solution, I hope. I am going to create a notebook system that will prevent me from wasting any more time.

Here's the plan: I will list everything I buy or bring into the office/craft space in one notebook. All of the new stuff will then be identified as to where it is. I may even go so far as to number the drawers in my office so I can quickly go to them when I need something.

For example, in my Yeasty notebook I will write:

  • Silver Beads for Christmas bracelet gifts: Left drawer (no. 1).(Seeing as how I just misplaced some beads like this, I wish they were actually in that drawer).
  • Blue cotton yarn to go with white for January baby blanket. (wicker basket, front hall closet)

Now this might seem like a little more work than you want to do, but believe me, in the long run, it will save you time -- and money since you won't have to buy replacements for those items you can't find when you need them.

The other alternative is to buy a warehouse filled with shelves holding clear containers or file cabinets with labels where we can literally see everything we have in our stashes. Heavenly.

This reminds me of the time when we were looking at houses years ago and were shown the home of a doctor who collected cars. He had built an eight car garage behind his house to house his collection, which made the asking price for the property prohibitive.

But when people asked who else could possibly need a garage like that, I remember thinking -- me. I know you would have felt the same way.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Photography Talk along the Banks of Lake Erie

We were visiting Presque Isle State Park in Erie PA last weekend and took a few moments to sit on a bench and spend some time enjoying the quiet landscape.

A man carrying a camera with a large telephoto lens on it walked over to talk with us. After a few moments I realized he had a DCNR (PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) patch on his shirt and I assumed he worked with the park service. It turned out that he is a volunteer ambassador and the official "volunteer" photographer for the park.

Every day Brian Bechtold drives out to the state park and takes photos of wildlife while hiking or from the kayak he keeps strapped to the top of his official four wheel drive vehicle.

We talked for over 30 minutes about his work which he absolutely loves with me peppering the conversation with questions about equipment and apertures and ISO and all the things that seem so difficult to figure out when taking photos. And unfortunately, take a lot of the fun out of it.

While we talked, Brian had his camera slung across his shoulder where he says it doesn't really get in the way when he is moving around. The source for these slings is
And he said to be sure to get the swivel hook for when you attach your camera to the sling. Can you say Christmas present?

We also talked about Photoshop (PS) and Lightroom (LR) as being the two most popular software programs used by photographers. I have been thinking about updating my PS4 but the cost is prohibitive: about $600. I have LR 2, but haven't really checked on its update cost yet.

Brian suggsted that I use LR for organizing photos (which I used to do when I was taking a class on it) and also look into buying PS Elements 11 instead of updating PS4 (a much more reasonable purchase). For my personal photo editing, the Elements program would make more sense.

We thoroughly enjoyed our talk with the park's ambassador, whose hobby really interested me and had me wishing we lived a lot closer than two hours from the state park.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fun Corn-on-the-Cob Cupcakes


These corn-on-the-cob cupcakes were served at the end of a recent corn roast we went to and I couldn't resist getting the recipe to share.   

There are directions for these on the Internet but here's how my friend J. made hers:

You make the cupcakes out of a white box cake mix. Tint store-bought vanilla icing yellow w/food coloring. And then line Jelly Belly jelly beans across the top to look like rows of corn kernels. (I think it might be best to use the Jelly Belly brand since they are smaller than regular jelly beans.) They also come in a large variety of colors and flavors. Buy yellow and white (I think the pale yellow ones were buttered popcorn flavor.) 
Then, you just line three cupcakes up in a row, putting a plastic corn holder on the ones on the ends.  To resemble a pat of butter, place a yellow Starburst candy or Laffy taffy on top. Sprinkle black sugar over the cupcakes to look like pepper.
I found it helpful, once I had iced the cupcakes, to put them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. That way, the icing firmed up a bit, and the jelly beans didn't slide.
These might even be a nice addition to your Thanksgiving table. Very cute!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Losing Impatiens Like Losing Old Friend

It's not often that you find a problem in your garden (except for noshing deer), that you learn you can do absolutely nothing about. Often, a visit to the Internet will provide many suggestions to give us hope that we can fix a problem.

Not so with the recent losses of impatiens, that favorite plant that comes in luscious colors and is so easy to grow.

I noticed a week or so ago that the impatiens on my deck seemed to be dying off. I decided that they had fallen prey to some bugs who were eating the plants. I bought a "green" spray for them, doused the leaves, but then found out after more research that the plants were infected with what's being called impatiens downy  mildew disease and would melt away.

And there was not a thing I could do about it.

According to an article  in the New York Times: The disease is a mold (Plasmopara obducens) that thrives in cool, damp conditions and first appears as a white, downy coating of spores on the undersides of leaves, so it’s easy to miss. By the time gardeners notice the flowers drooping, it’s too late to do anything.

What a loss. I had six pots of the multi-colored flowers between my deck and porch (because of those noshing deer as mentioned above).  As you can see from the photos, the plants have literally melted away, not even leaving much mess behind.

Flower growers are scrambling to find replacement plants for the impatiens so that next spring there will be some alternatives. Begonias are getting the most interest as a replacement, as well as coleus and ornamental grasses and New Guinea impatiens, which don't seem to be susceptible to the mildew disease.

But so far, there are no plants that can replace the range of color impatiens offered the home gardener. I suppose we will have to get more creative in our annual plantings. The good news is we have the fall and winter to figure out how.

For more information, check out these links:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rhubarb in Mid Summer

I can remember seeing rhubarb growing up among some tall grass next to my grandfather's garden at our house when I was growing up. The funny thing about this colorful vegetable is that it is very sour, and usually not something I like unless it's paired with strawberries and lots of sugar. Then I love it.

Some nice folks in my adult printmaking class brought me a small bag of rhubarb pieces, the last gleaning from their garden. We had talked about how a lot of younger peole are not as familiar with this plant as we are, and wondering if that meant it was on the decline.

I looked on the internet for easy recipes to turn these stalks into something edible, and found a lot of recipes of the berries and sugar variety. Not a surprise. But then, on an Italian food website, I found a recipe for Rhubarb Dip for Vegetables. I'm going to try it tonight ansd serve it with some green pepper slices.

Click here for an easy recipe for rhubarb.

Also, to learn more about this fruit, and for a couple more recipes, visit here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

View from Above

right side of deck

This is the view I see when I sit on the little deck outside my bedroom. These small decks were an "in" thing way back when our house was built in the 1980s.

Most recently I have hung flowers and bird feeders from this deck, only venturing out there when I had to water or fill up a feeder.

But this year, going along with my mantra to Enjoy All That Summer Offers, I cleaned up the deck and placed some old faded plastic chairs out there for visits.

I told myself I can't buy new inexpensive plastic chairs until I am sure I will use the deck enough to warrant it. Funny, the ways we trick ourselves into doing things as we get older. but who knows us better?

left side of deck

So I scrubbed the furniture, clipped off the plastic fencing I had put up there once to keep creatures of the night from disturbing my bird feeders, and placed a pot of white flowers in the corner.

I am pleased to tell you I have sat out there a few times already, talking myself into going up to the second floor of the house to access this deck rather than plopping down on my first floor deck or front porch. I never had a treehouse when I was a child, and never felt that was an issue. But now that I can sit amidst the trees and be surrounded by nature,  I am glad I didn't wait any longer to have one.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Knit the (Pittsburgh) Bridge Project Going Strong

Samples of crocheted/knit panels for Knit The Bridge 

Pittsburgh, PA is known for many things -- a certain NFL team, sky high sandwiches, three meandering rivers -- and bridges. Come visit our fair city and you will be impressed by the iron structures that bring visitors and residents alike together.

A project is underway to bring even more attention to our bridges. Knit the Bridge is a grass-roots project organized by local community members to create a "large-scale, aesthetically stunning fiberart installation on a Pittsburgh bridge in conjunction with an international fiberart exhibit."

The word went out to handcrafters a few months ago that large panels of brightly colored yarn needed to be crafted to cover the railings on both sides of the Andy Warhol Bridge, the middle of Pittsburgh's Three Sisters bridges. That's all it took. Knitters and crocheters are by nature a kind, helpful lot who love to be part of things and have a purpose for the work they would do no matter what. 

Officially, the Knit the Bridge project was created in conjunction with Fiberart International 2013, being exhibited in Pittsburgh now through August, with the intention of celebrating the history of Pittsburgh as a city of bridges and steel as well as to celebrate the region’s thriving, contemporary arts scene. 

My friend's completed panel for Knit the Bridge   

was fortunate to be able to attend one of the group meetings where crafters work on their own panels, sew donated squares together to make even more panels and re-purpose discarded yarn projects into panels. It was a great way to spend an evening, among friends I had just met. I hope to go back.

Once official permission to line the bridge with yarn is had, and that should occur soon, the panels will be installed on the bridge during the month of August and later taken down, cleaned and given to those who need a little handmade comfort in their lives.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Don't Miss a Thing this Summer

I don't know about you, but it's hard to keep track of all of the things we want to do in the warm months. Too often we read about something we would have loved to have seen only to find out we missed it.

Not this year. I decided to print out blank monthly calendar pages for the summer (April through October actually) and will jot down ALL of the events, shows, classes etc. we are interested in. Then when we are making plans, we can make a good decision about what we really want to do.

This is easier to do when you can "sign up" to follow blogs usually associated with activities. I can look at my home page and see what's happening along with any other newsy sites I follow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crocheted Valentine Lariat Necklaces

You still have time to craft some of these lariat necklaces to give as gifts for Valentine's Day. All you need is some fancy yarn, a crochet hook and a couple of heart-shaped beads. all of which you proably have hanging around your home already.

Simply make a long chain with the crochet hook (mine measure about 18 inches), being sure to leave a long tail of yarn at the beginning. Make a knot at the end of the chain leaving a long tail again.

Tie heart-shaped beads or charms onto the two ends of the chain, running the remainder of the tail back through the chains to anchor it.

Ta da! Easy to do and very easy to wear. You can also wrap these lariats around your wrist for a neat bracelet idea, securing the charms under the wraps to anchor the bracelet.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

And What Will You Serve during the Super Bowl?

As Americans gather around their TVs Sunday night to watch Super Bowl XLVII, there will be one thing on their minds: Do we have enough dip?

Big games like the one this Sunday between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, need food to make them go well. Whether or not you are a fan of either team -- and remember I am located in Pittsburgh, you just have to have some of your favorites sitting on the coffee table to be gobbled down whoever wins.

Fans will be chowing down on wings, salsa, chicken fingers, soft pretzels, Empanadas, hot dogs, beef satay and dips -- lots of dips, but it's time to be a little more creative and sneak some healthy snacks in with the rest. Choosing from bowls of fruit, dishes filled with nuts, vegetable trays, and low fat crackers and chips will help reduce your guilt factor come Monday morning when you think of all you ate the night before.

So by all means enjoy the game, but be sure to add some healthy choices to your Big Game menu.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Buying local? Join a CSA club

The other day I was in the grocery store, buying my normal stuff: bananas, apples, grapes, squash. I also like to buy some of the vegetables that have already been chopped up, something that Trader Joe's and Whole Foods began as a practice.

But then in the bagged lettuce aisle, I saw bags containing collard and turnip greens and thought that it was time I started buying these healthy greens and using them to cook.

One way to accomplish this would be to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Club near home and enjoy new and healthy foods weekly during the growing season.

A CSA works this way: A group of people purchase a "share" (also called a membership or subscription) and receive a weekly basket of fresh vegetables and fruits, along with bread, eggs and meat depending on the farm. Costs for the memberships vary, depending on how many pounds of  produce you want delivered each week.

To learn more, search on the internet for "CSA clubs (your town)".

Bring on the kale, and mustard greens and the spinach!

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