Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oye' Chico!

My wonderfully handsome hubby was born in Havana, Cuba. His family immigrated to the United States when he was 6.  Had they just waited a few more years......he would have developed the Cuban accent and I could have been married to Ricky Ricardo :) I joke with him all the time that he would get bigger tips as a plumber if he had an accent. Imagine Antonio Banderas coming to your door...." jou need sum help wis jour plumbing?" Now this is my opinion and you don't have to agree with me, but I have always found latin men to be the most gorgeous men on earth! Something about the dark eyes and thick curly hair :) My family came here from Europe. My father was Dutch and my mother German. We came to this country from Holland when I was 18 months old so I have no accent either. My parents had enough of an accent for the rest of us :) It used to annoy me when our children would tell people they were Cuban. Um....Hello? What about the Dutch and German? I guess Cuban is just more exotic :) So with that in mind I decided to share one of my hubby's favorite Cuban recipes with you. It is truly "fantastico"!


1 lb ground beef
1 tsp oregano
4 cloves garlic -minced
1 medium white onion -chopped fine
1 small green bell pepper - chopped
1/2 cup beef stock
8 oz can tomato sauce
3 - 4 small potatoes - peeled and diced
1 jar sliced pimento stuffed green olives
olive oil for sauteing
salt & pepper to taste

In a frying pan combine ground beef and oregano. Brown and drain fat. Remove beef and in the same  pan, heat olive oil and saute the onions, green pepper and garlic until soft.
Return the ground beef along with the beef stock and tomato sauce. Cover and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Add the diced potato. Cover and cook another 30 minutes until the potatoes are done. Remove the cover and add the jar of olives (I use about 1/2 of the juice in the jar as well) and cook uncovered 15 minutes or until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Serve with cooked white rice and avocados.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

 it's not the Great Pumpkin. But these tiny pumpkins are just so darn cute! I found the free pattern for these little beauties at Wee Folk Art. They have a ton of free patterns on their website! I love when people share :) They are super easy to make and really cute...did I mention that they are really cute? I made  3 yesterday afternoon and I made  more last night while the hubby watched TV. They are all hand sewn so you don't need a sewing machine. You could make these while waiting for your doctor's appointment or while you're getting your car washed (which I really need to do!) My daughter and my daughter-in-law will be getting some of these little darlings.  They would look adorable grouped around a candle! What will you do with these "Great Pumpkins"?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tomato Basil Soup - YUM!

Yesterday it was 106 degrees here (yeah.....welcome to the Fall weather in California!) so naturally I want some yummy soup. This is a super tasty creamy tomato soup recipe and since I have that mutant vine taking over my backyard I thought it made sense to harvest about 4 lbs of tomatoes and make some soup for Sunday lunch. I served it with open faced grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. My whole family loves  this recipe. Hope you like it too!

Tomato Basil Soup

4 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes (or 4lbs fresh)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 stalks celery - diced
3 carrots - diced
3 yellow onions - diced
6 cloves garlic - minced
3 cups chicken broth
3 bay leaf
3/4 stick butter
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Strain the chopped tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt & pepper to taste. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Roasting the tomatoes brings such a rich tomato flavor to this soup!

While the tomatoes are roasting, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium low heat. Add the celery, carrots, onions, and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil and cream. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth. (You can also blend in small batches in traditional blender) I use the immersion blender stopping just before it's totally smooth. We like the texture of the tiny bits of vegetables, but it's totally up to you how smooth to make it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

No More Tears :)

One of the things I really love about cooking is chopping veggies. Makes me feel like I know what I'm doing. The problem starts when it's time to chop onions. I used to wear contact lenses but now that I am  falling apart  aging gracefully, I find contacts to be really uncomfortable, so I wear glasses. When I wore contacts, I could chop onions with the best of them and never a tear would fall..... but without the protective shield over my eyeballs I cry like nobody's business! The tears stream from my eyes so badly that I can't actually see what I'm chopping anymore. This poses a definate problem as one day I could end up chopping off a finger...ew. So last year for Christmas my wonderful hubby bought me these fantastic onion goggles! Mine are pink! How cute is that? These things totally work! I fear no onion! Now it's their turn to cry :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

4 Little Words

 When I see things that I like in stores I find myself saying "I could make that". Those 4 little words have cost saved my dear hubby untold amounts of money :) Who wants to pay full price for things they could make at home? Not Sir... So I find a new hobby. (Like I need more hobbies)A new way to bring extra income into the house. This is what I tell myself as I buy sterling silver findings, watch faces, swarovski crystals, jewelry tools, cases, display items, cute drawstring bags, the list goes on and on. The funny part is that if I had just bought the jewelry that I had originally wanted I would have actually saved money! So over the past few years I have done a few jewelry shows, sold some jewelry to family and friends and their friends. My beautiful daughter is having a holiday party at her home tomorrow and invited me to come along and bring some of my jewelry. So today I'm organizing some of the pieces that I have already made and I'll be adding a few more pairs of earrings. Maybe if I'm lucky somewhere in the next 10 years I'll break even on my investment.....or maybe even bring some extra income into the house :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You must be CRAZY!

 With only 12 Saturdays left until Christmas you would think that I would be focusing on getting my projects completed. And yes, I've finished a few....I certainly don't need to take on any extra "stuff" right now. So what did I do? I signed up for another Apron Swap with a Fall Theme :) I happen to LOVE this season! And of course, I am impatient, so as I wait for my swap partner's info, I decided to make myself a fall apron. I am still doing my very best not to spend any extra money on my crafty projects, I pulled these cute fabrics from my rediscovered fabric stash :) This pattern has been in my collection for a few years as well and I love the big pockets and the opportunity to use different fabrics together. I've learned a few tips and tricks from the other talented ladies in the previous apron swaps, and one of those was to make the ties extra long so I can wrap them back around to the front to tie the apron. It's a small change that makes the apron a bit more fun.
Am I crazy? Probably, but today crazy paid off for me in the form of a brand new apron por moi :)

I added buttons to the little top pocket to jazz it up :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things I don't want to forget

I think one of my favorite movies is The Notebook. Jose and I have talked many times about how we could see ourselves doing the same thing that James Garner did in that movie. Altzheimer's is beyond sad, to have the person you love sitting right in front of you, and they don't know you anymore. I do cross-stitch and I eat my food with my fork in my left hand sometimes and I try to recite the alphabet backwards and never use the speed dial on my phone because research shows that doing those kinds of things can actually reduce the chances of getting Altzheimer's disease. I want this blog to be something that my children and grandchildren can read to have a better idea of who I am and what crazy things cross my mind on a daily basis. For some reason today I was thinking about a dream that Jose told me about a few months ago. He said that in the dream I was given some kind of medication that inadvertantly turned my eyes brown. He said he woke up and was really sad. I had never thought about whether the color of my eyes mattered to him or not. It was so sweet to know that he would be sad if my eyes were no longer green. I want my grandchildren to know that their Papa loved their Nana's green eyes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cleaning Day :)

I've been so preoccupied with sewing lately that I have to admit that I haven't been keeping up with dusting and cleaning. I tend to make sure that the kitchen and bathroom are always clean and I touch up the living room twice a week, but our bedroom gets neglected. I can close the door and let the dust bunnies multiply and no one sees that...right? Wrong! The master bedroom is the room where the King and Queen of the house sleep. It should be clean and inviting all the time. It's just one small way to let my hubby know that I value him and this is the only room in the house that is just for the 2 of us. He knows that there are days I struggle to get anything done and he doesn't complain about the house. We have such a wonderful relationship. Was it always that Marriage is hard work. And we have worked very hard. We fought for what we have together now. When you truely love someone you don't try to change them, but love them inspite of all the things about them that drive you crazy. That's real love. When I saw "I love U" written in the dust on my nightstand, it made me smile :) And this morning I cleaned our bedroom. Under the bed, inside the closet and I even vaccumed the curtains. I may pay for it physically tomorrow, but today I'm  totally happy.  I love my life :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where is the other one????

David was explaining that there should be two orange dinosaurs!

I could not help myself....I just couldn't wait until November to give David his orange dinosaur. Even my hubby kept asking me when I was going to take the dinosaur to David :) So I drove out to visit David and his Mommy today. Kristina has told me before that David has 2 invisible dinosaurs. Those silly dinosaurs are always doing silly things. Anyhoo....Nana only made one. Silly Nana! When I walked in the front door carrying David's new friend, he quickly grabbed him from me and said "My Din din" and gave me a look like "what are you doing with MY dinosaur?"  Then he wanted to know where the other one was! He even climbed up on his Lightning McQueen sofa and looked out the window to see if the other one was outside by Nana's car! He put the dinosaur on the carpet and pointed to where the other one should be! I love his imagination! It all turned out OK in the end because he explained to us that the other dinosaur took Mommy's car and went to get us some food :) I guess Nana better get busy making another dinosaur......
David was showing us where the "other" dinosaur should be :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The 80's called......they want their shirt back!

Our very clever daughter decided to have an 80's themed birthday party for her hubby a few weeks ago. He was born in 1980 and was turning 30 this year so it seemed like a fun idea to do the 80's party. My original idea was to dress like Olivia Newton-John in her "let's get physical" video and have my hubby dress up like Richard Simmons. The hubby was definately NOT into that I decided to have him channel the oldest brother from the movie "Goonies" instead and since I could not find the proper exercise ensemble ( if I had only known that I would need it someday I could have saved my shiney white spandex unitard and bright blue thong to wear over it that I actually wore to the public....*sheesh*) I went with the "old faithful" outfit of oversized denim shirt with ginormous shoulder pads ( I used folded up dish towels ) and black leggings with big hair and black heels. It was a really fun party and it seemed a shame to waste that amazing denim shirt I found. I mean come was embelished with puff paint! No one does workmanship like that anymore! So I decided to re-purpose the shirt and the awesome bandana that my hubby wore. I used up some darling western Michael Miller fabric that was left over from my grandson David's baby quilt to make him a fun boy apron. He loves to cook in his own little kitchen and help his Mom around the house. Not too shabby for shirt I paid $1.91 at the thrift store! One more Christmas gift to check off the list :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A New Adventure

I know I've mentioned that I am inspired by the women of the blogosphere who share their creative ideas and challenge me to try new things. I've been wanting to try my hand at quilting, but my sewing and scrapbooking room is filled to capacity right now and I know a new hobby will make me a little crazy. I was told by my new friend Regena that quilting is not as hard as it may seem (that is of course unless you try to accomplish a mariner's compass - which I believe you need a license for in some states) and seeing Amy's darling red & blue quilt she made last Saturday gave me the challenge I needed to jump in. So I made these pillow covers for my couch in
fall colors. Did I mention that I love love love the fall?

I can change out the pillow covers with the seasons. It was really a fun little project and I'm super happy with the results. It's enough quilting to be fun for me without losing interest and wanted to pull out all my hair. Because one of the fabrics I used has script on it, I decided to keep my quilting lines horizontal. I also wanted to make these covers feel like they belonged in my living room, so I used denim as the borders to tie the fall colors, orange, green and brown,  into my reds, blues, and yellows that are in every room of my home. The backside is done envelope style in deep red broadcloth so I didn't need to use any zippers. I'm already thinking of what the Christmas pillow covers should look like..... 
backside of pillow cover

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Happy Nana-Heart :)

Today I finished the orange dinosaur for my David's birthday. He'll be 3 in November. Lately he's been "hauling" around an imaginary orange dinosaur. He even acts like he's picking up something very heavy and moving it around. It's so cute! Children have such a wonderful imagination. Now he'll have a real orange dino to carry around :) Last year for Christmas the older 2 grandsons each got a dinosaur with their names on them. I guess next year it'll be Gabriel's turn. It makes my Nana-heart happy to make things for my grandchildren. To be able to stitch my love into their lives.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pot-holder Envy :)

I love these!!!
I've been watching the apron swap blogs daily to read all the new posts and see the great aprons and goodies that all the ladies are receiving. Amy, one of the very talented women that I met through this experience just received her apron last week. Along with her apron she received the cutest set of red and white polka dot pot holders. I fell in love with them! I looked at my old faithful pot holders hanging on a hook on the fridge and although they have been washed many times, they are no longer the beauties that they once were. I have to say that they have served me well and like a great fitting pair of jeans, I was not in any hurry to replace them. They are just the right thickness to keep heat away and still not be overly stiff. They are "just right" and I do alot of baking. So after seeing Amy's cute polka dots, I thought  how hard could it be to give my faithful friends a make-over? Armed with my trusty seam ripper I went to work carefully taking them apart. I had 3 choices for fabrics. Red polka dots, red and white rooster dish towels, and blue vintage fruit table napkins that I found last year at the Thrift store. By the pictures, you can see that the blue fabric was my final choice. The quilting was easy because all I had to to was stitch over the existing stitch lines! It was a fun project and I'm glad I did it! I love the new look and I love all the inspiration that I have found from these wonderful blogging crafters who are gracious enought to share their talents! The best part is that I didn't have to buy anything new to do this. How's that for a good deal? No more pot holder envy for me :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Apron Arrived!!!

I had some errands to run today and when I got home the mailman was down the street. I've been anxiously awaiting my aprons from the 2 swaps I was in. Today I received the most awesome package from my "Back To The Future Swap" secret partner. She doesn't have a blog, so I don't really know anything about her except that SHE ROCKS!!!! Her name is Susanne and somehow it's like she knew exactly what to send me! Every detail was so lovely from the handmade Sunflower card to the apron itself. All the little notes she included and just look at all the treasures she included! Red polka dot recipe cards, red polka dot Kleenex, a red handled vintage pastry blender, antique pinking shears in the original pink box! a recipe for French Toast Casserole (yum) a fun 80's bracelet, a beautiful Vera Bradley shopping bag and a darling (beautifully sewn) apron! Today had been a very good day indeed :) Thanks again Susanne!!!!
close up of apron fabric :)

A Labor of Love :)

For those of you who are keeping track, we are down to 14 Saturdays until Christmas! Can you tell I love this time of year? I'm excited to say that I can check the Happy Stacker off my list! There are certain projects that just make me smile when I look at them and this is definately one of those! Thanks you Heather Bailey for designing this adorable pattern . Just a word of warning, this pattern is definately not for beginners. It's really tricky making those rings...who knew? I used brightly colored soft flannel and assorted  ribbons (including blue velvet Ric Rack) to give my sweet Gabriel some fun textures to explore when he plays with this. It took me about 15 hours (including about 2 hours of cutting time) to complete. Sure I could have gone to ToysR Us and bought a toy for Gabriel, but this was truely a labor of love :) Now it's off to get started on an orange dinosaur.......

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Elijah Jacob Torres 11-3-2003
You know what's the coolest thing ever? It's blogging about the baby shower I did for my daughter in law in 2009 and finding out the very next morning that they are expecting baby #4!!!! And as you can see.....our children do good work :)
Caleb Aaron Torres 3-22-2006
David Charles Matz 11-22-2007 (Thanksgiving Day)
Gabriel Joseph Torres 6-29-2009

Friday, September 3, 2010

Baby Shower Fun!

I don't have any completed craft project to show you right now, so I thought I'd share some fun Baby Shower decorations I made for my daughter in law's shower in 2009. We didn't know if she was having a boy or a girl so I made babies with pink bows in their hair as well as babies with blue bow ties! I used the "Doodle Charms" cartridge and my Cricut cutter. I love my Cricut cutter! It's so versatile and it's really all up to you about how big or small you want to make an item. For the cupcake toppers, I made the baby heads and then I used the "shadow" feature to make the back of the heads just slightly larger and then glued the two pieces together with a toothpick between the layers. I made the party favor boxes with the "Tags, Bags, Boxes and More" cartridge. Cricut machines are so easy to use and you can pick up one of the basic ones (like the one I have) for under $80.00 these days. I liked the way it all came out. Hope you do too!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Here come the BERS!!!!

We have some wonderful friends who introduced me to the term "the BERS". Like myself, Mike and Sandi LOVE all the months that end in "b-e-r". Ever since the first time I heard them say it, I have thought about them every year on September 1st and smiled :) For me, these months embody all my favorite things: cooler weather, sweaters, family, yummy food, visiting the pumpkin patch with my grandsons, and of course, Christmas! I tend to give away most of my craft projects but one of the projects I finished for myself this year was the 12 month kitchen towels. Every month I change out the towel in my kitchen :) Today is a very good day indeed! I am feeling so much better and I went to the
fabric store this morning and purchased some fabric
for my next projects. This dinosaur pattern is one
that I bought and made for my son when he was
a boy. It was 1983. Last year I made 2 of the
dinosaurs for 2 of his sons and this year I will be
sewing one for my daughter's little boy :) The
other pattern is by Heather Bailey to make a set
of stacking rings for my youngest grandson. I can't
wait to get started! I'll post pics when I'm done!