Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday: Orange Chicken / Roasted Vidalia Onions

Life is getting back to normal which, for me, means: "Stop eating comfort foods and go back to your diet!!!" These two recipes are very light and packed with savory flavors.

Roasted Smokey Orange Chicken
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 (5 oz) skinless chicken breast halves
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 C orange marmalade (of the "all fruit" variety)
1-1/2 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Line a shallow baking pan with tin foil. arrange chicken in pan and lightly season all over with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine marmalade, soy sauce, and liquid smoke. Mix well and pour over chicken.

Roast for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Roasted Vidalia Onions
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 medium vidalias (2 lbs) peeled and cut into 8 wedges
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 T balsamic vinegar

Arrange onions, flat side down, on jellyroll pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat onions with spray. Sprinkle seasonings over onions. Bake 30 minutes. Turn onions over and bake an additional 25 minutes. Spoon into serving dish and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back To The Studio

It's been a week since Pooch died, and each day is getting easier than the last. We spent the weekend digging a hole in the hard-packed clay in a shady section of our back yard. While we were at it, we thought it would be nice to dig in a memorial garden around Pooch's "spot". I'll be working all Summer to get that finished, but the biggest part (burying Pooch) is done. This final act brings to mind the old fairy tales where the heroine buries a loved one, and a magical tree laden with silver and golden apples flourishes over the grave. It's a nice thought, but I think we'll just keep the dogwood sapling that's already doing well there. And, yes, I do think the pun in that is funny!

I'm growing accustomed to being alone during the day: I've stopped cleaning so madly and I find I'm able relax into a work schedule. Today was my first full day in the studio - I have three new bracelets to show for my labors. All three were made with the flower chain bead weaving method:

tangerine and blue fire-polished crystals and apple green seed beads:

This piece has a peyote stitch toggle
garnet red and amber fire-polished crystals with light olive green seed beads

freshwater pearls and pink fire-polished crystals with silver-lined seed beads

This was my favorite of all three, but photographing it proved to be a bear. Neither white nor black backgrounds do it real justice. Any suggestions?
Thank you all for your sweet comments and caring emails during this past week. It means the world to me to have such loving and supportive friends.

And a BIG "Thank You!" to all those friends and family who showered us with dachshund memorabilia over the years. Because of you, we're surrounded with fun memories of our little man:

Corn holders! Funny!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Drawing Away My Sadness

For the past three years, my main focus each day has been to care for Pooch: feed him every 2 hours, make sure he gets his myriad of meds on time, take him out to pee every hour, and, of course, snuggle him as much as possible.

Now that he's gone, I find myself completely intimidated by all this new-found freedom. I've cleaned the house top-to-bottom and put away the dog toys. Now what? I don't much feel like making jewelry - my heart's just not in it at this time. I started a drawing on Tuesday - I could only work on it a little at a time, since Pooch demanded I have an arm around him while he slept. I had no idea he wasn't feeling well.

Tuesday I laid down basic shapes. Since I first learned to draw, I've had difficulty with facial features. I made sure to get those right in the first stage.

Wednesday morning, I added the drapery of her soft silk poncho and some of the railing. This immediately helped "ground" the figure.

I had to leave the drawing at this point due to all the drama of Wednesday afternoon and my deep sadness all day yesterday. Still sad today, but trying to fill my day with what I love to do. I decided to go back to the drawing. I've always been able to lose myself in artwork, and this morning was no exception. There's something so "Zen" about sitting quietly, working the pencils and eraser, taking moments to step back and analyze progress.

I dug out the 6B pencils and went to town adding some contrast: I darkened her pants and blouse so she'd "pop" in front of the railing. Then deepened some shadows for added punch.

I think she's done for now. In the future, I'll add some soft misty background - maybe sand dunes and a touch of ocean, for that's where I long to be right now.

The original image I used as a model was a page from the latest Chico's catalog:

I was ruminating over what to draw next, when Marble Man exclaimed, "Ooooooh, you should draw HER!" while pointing madly at the magazine. So, MM, you got your wish.

Thank you, Everyone, for all your supportive comments on my last post (and all the hugs!). It means a great deal to me, and helped a lot.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Farewell Dear Friend...

March 6, 1993 - May 20, 2009

Our darling Pooch gave up his fight today after an afternoon of continuous seizures.

I'm so glad to have known you - you'll always be my "little man".
R. I. P. Sweet Boy, our boon companion and Supreme Snuggler. I miss you so much already.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday: Baked Oatmeal

Who doesn't love breakfast? And who wouldn't want it made ahead, freezable, and reheatable, too? That's what you'll get with this delicious and easy oatmeal recipe.

Baked Oatmeal

Serves 10
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

5 C rolled oats
4 eggs (or 1 C egg substitute to reduce calories)
1/2 C canola oil
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
3/4 C sugar (or Splenda)
2 C skim milk
1 T baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salk
1 large apple, chopped with skins left on
1 C raisins

Put ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Pour into sprayed 9 x 13 inch baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.

Great warm or cold, drizzled with milk (fat free half and half is even better!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bangles And Jangles

Going on now:

Store-wide sale at! Everything is 20% off from now until May 31st. My birthday is this next week and I want to celebrate with everyone.
Somehow, between bloggy visits, Facebook, and twitter, I managed to eek out some beading time this week. After realizing I only had 4 bracelets in stock, I went a little nuts and now have many more available. I tried to have a nice price range, but found myself caught up in wire-wrapping. The resulting pieces are gorgeous, but labor-intesive. (I just love the sound they make as the beads jangle against each other.) These charm bracelets are a fabulous way to use up odd lots of beads left over from previous projects:


Once I realized I went overboard on the previous three pieces, I concentrated on simplicity and these two are the result of that effort:

Flower jade and rose quartz

Carved red stone beads and mother-of-pearl

I plan to have these listed sometime this weekend.
In other news: I just had one of my shibori scarves with a functional pocket listed in an Etsy treasury. Whoot! It feels great to be recognized by peers.

As well as all the other stuff I was caught up in this week, I opened another online store at It's a new site, still in it's Beta stage, and it's just different enough from Etsy to be a challenge. I'll be stocking it slowly, as time management is turning out to be my nemesis!

Now that all the week's wire-wrapping has angered my ever-present tennis elbow, I'll have more time to spend in Blogland... so put on a pot of coffee, 'cuz here I come! It's been too long between visits and I have a lot of catching up to do...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday: Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms

So far so good on the diet front... In keeping with my newly-found resolve, today's recipe is a vegetable - one so filling it can be considered a light meal.

Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms
Serves 4

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 large portabello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
2-3 large garlic gloves, minced
1 C chopped onion
1 C artichoke hearts, chopped
1 T olive oil
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/4 C pine nuts

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened. Add the mushroom caps, flat side own, and saute for a minute or two. Remove the mushrooms to a foil-lined baking pan, leaving onion and garlic in the pan. Add the spinach and artichokes to the pan and saute just to combine flavors. Add the pine nuts and Parmesan and stir to combine.

Spray the unfilled mushrooms with non-stick cooking spray to keep the rims from drying out. Evenly distribute the filling among the four mushrooms and bake 15 minutes.

Have fun playing with the filling ingredients. This week I added 1/2 Cup of Morningstar Farms sausage crumbles (awesome!), and I think some blue cheese or feta would be good too. Let me know what you do with it so I can try it too.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dance Now and Then

As I mentioned here, I have a passion for dancing (though I don't possess much grace on the floor). I adore seeing professionals do their thing, whether they're doing ballroom, modern, jazz, belly, or even pole dancing. If done well, dancing is a wonder to behold. I'm an avid fan of ABC's Dancing With The Stars - it's great fun to watch people out of their element working hard and overcoming obstacles while training themselves to move beautifully.

Last night's episode was the quarter-final of this season's competition, and it was a blast. Seventeen-year-old Olympic gold-medalist, Shawn Johnson, busted clean out of her shell to deliver a quickstep that blew my socks right off. This clip includes the rehearsal scenes as well as the judges comments (the performance begins around 1:28 if you want to skip the early stuff). I find it so interesting that the celebrities struggle to learn their routines in a week fraught with drama, and then come on stage and nail it.

Her performance reminded me of old-time Hollywood movies, back when studio heads required all their stars to learn to tap dance. Here's a clip of Bob Hope and Jimmy Cagney doing their hilarious schtick:

Don't these clips make you want to slip into some sequins and feathers, strap on some fancy shoes, and move to the groove? I know I do! Have a sparkly day, everyone.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday: Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Summer’s nearly here, and one of my favorite side dishes is coleslaw – it’s all about the coleslaw. I love it – so creamy, salty, and crunchy. But, I might as well just slather it all over my hips, ‘cuz that’s where it’s heading after I eat it! But, then I was watching Robin Miller’s cooking show on the Food Network one day, and she presented a version I couldn’t resist. It's much lighter, nutritionally, than the traditional recipe, and the flavors explode in your mouth.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw
Serves 6 (1 cup each)

3 T cider vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ C raisins
¼ C crumbled blue cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 package coleslaw mix

In small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, and mustard. Stir in the raisins and the blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper and toss with the packaged coleslaw mix in a large bowl.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 135
Fat: 8.35 grams
Cholesterol: 4.2 mgs
Sodium: 243.3 mgs
Carbohydrate: 14.5 grams
Fiber: 2.5 grams
Protein: 2.6 grams

This is fabulous with barbecue, pizza, burgers, or anything you can think of – even by itself.

Marble Man once told me he loves when I go on a diet because we eat so well when I do. :)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Let's Get This Party Started!

To celebrate May Day, my best friends, my Ya-Ya's, met to make faerie gardens. It turned into a birthday celebration for Debbie and me (our Special Day's are one day apart in the middle of May). We had a three-flavored birthday cake with cream cheese frosting

and gin-and-tonic lollipops!

To drink we all had a ruby red grapefruit/apple juice/vanilla concoction.

Yowzah! It was all so good - I took a tiny detour off my diet for this celebration, and I'm so glad I did.
For the gardens, we all brought low planters and our hostess provided some plants to share. Others brought things to decorate: sea shells, crafty items, broken pottery shards, etc. Then we got down to it and had a blast.

Some were simple and spare. Faeries can frolic in a field of moss in this little garden...

Toadstools and picket fences make good garden features...

A rockery with a dainty pool... See the little tart form with blue beads glued around the edge?

A birdbath is transformed into a lovely park with a faerie swing...

A faerie can always use a welcome sign and some bling! See the little rhinestone hair clips in the soil?

My faerie garden has a birdbath made from a scallop shell glued to a wooden spool, and a tiny silver faerie sunning herself while perched on a moon shell. a little trail of river rocks and shells meanders throughout the garden. A tiny potted plant is off to the side:

Thanks to all my favorite ladies for a lovely birthday party and May Day celebration! You're the best.