Marinara Spaghetti Sauce

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This week I made the BEST red sauce I’ve ever had! That means I need to get it written down so I can do the SAME EXACT THING next time!! That’s something my Sweetie started soon after we were married when he was afraid my random way of cooking  would hinder me from repeating a recipe that became a favorite. Add that to blogging, and I started writing down the haphazard ingredients I “threw” together more often. 🙂

So here’s my fabulous Marinara Spaghetti Sauce:

1 lb of cooked ground beef

20 oz of marinara sauce

1 tsp tomato paste for a richer flavor

1 tsp crushed garlic

Dean and Jacobs Parmesan Bread Dipping Blend (This is a fantastic seasoning for red sauces!)

1 Tbl grated parmesen

Add everything to the pan, stir and heat through until the color deepens, cheese melts and the sauce bubbles. Serve on your choice of pasta (we love it on capellini and tricolor rotini), and top with a bit more Parmesan. Yummy. Enjoy!! :>

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Patriotic Fruit Pizza

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The day before Independence Day, the company my Sweetie works for like to have a potluck. This year I made a Patriotic Fruit Pizza, as it’s easy, yummy and filled with flair, even if you don’t decorate it with a STAR!!  I knew I was going to be busy ALL day on Wednesday, yet this needs to be fresh, so I wanted something fairly fast and easy.  As usual though, I ran into issues while shopping for the quickest-to-assemble ingredients. I start with a sugar cookie crust, but they were out of the pouch mixes, so I used the refrigerated type. Not as yummy, but even faster.The cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon juice spread ingredients were easy enough to find, but no blueberries, so I had to make do with GIANT blackberries for the STAR. Yummier, but not as pretty. It’s hard to create designs with big berries. It worked well enough though. : >

 

My recipe is a bit of a modified version of this one.

 

My Patriotic Fruit Pizza

 

Refrigerated sugar cookies

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 cups fresh raspberries

2 cups fresh blackberries

 

**Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Our oven is broken, so I flattened a foil pie pan in order to have a round pan that would fit into our toaster/convection oven. Flatten cookie dough pieces and  place in pan, pressing edges lightly together to form the crust.

 

Bake 15  minutes until cooked, but mot crunchy. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

 

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon lemon juice until fluffy. Spread over baked crust. Arrange  one color berries in large star shape in center. Arrange the other berries around star.  Serve immediately or store in refrigerator. Best served fresh.

 

Next time I make this STAR pizza I might take in the inside points a bit and take an aerial look and fix those raspberries at the bottom! : >

 

Enjoy and Happy Independence Day!!!

 

 

 

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Tea Time and A Paper Flower Bouquet

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This week I spent some much needed time with this little sweetie! It’s hard to believe she has grown so much from the little baby I took care of (with her brother too) while her mom homeschooled the older kids. As she’s gotten older and her family has moved a bit further away, (as opposed to living in our little town), we’ve spent a whole lot less time together. So we finally set a time to hang out together. :>

 

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Now, at her house, we ALWAYS had mini tea parties, with tiny candies and such, and we ALWAYS worked on a craft. So this time we had a more “grown up” tea time at Panera Bread and we made a Paper Flower Bouquet as our craft. So it turns out that we basically did the same things we’ve always done together. And we both enjoyed the time as much as ever. We haven’t really changed much!! :>

 

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Here’s our Instagram photo:

 

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This sweet doll was made by her Nana:

 

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And I love her flower light:

 

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I love this little sweetheart so much and can’t wait until our next outing together!! It’s always great to invest in these sweet little lives, and we’re paid back in immeasurable ways!!

 

Here‘s how we made the sweet little paper flowers.

 

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Belated Mother’s Day in Solvang

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Exactly one week ago, my Sweetie treated me to a Mother’s Day celebration. He was away on business on the actual day, but you know what? It was the best thing that could have happened, and here’s why: it was the first time in 12 years that I felt like I actually got to be honored as a mother for Mother’s Day outside of my home. I usually hide out away from all of the well wishing because I don’t want to hear a comment unless the person actually knows what they’re saying and who they’re saying it to. So I hide. But I’m still a mother, even if I don’t have my child with me anymore, and his idea honored that. : >

 

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Before my Sweetie left, he offered to take me to one of my two favorite local towns as a belated day to honor me, and I chose Danish settled Solvang. I had also put off seeing “Mom’s Night Out” because I didn’t want to see it over Mother’s Day weekend (even though I was chomping at the bit to see it!) , so we went to the morning showing before eating at one of my favorite places, Me N Ed’s then headed out to Solvang. It was great! Even though my favorite bakery was out of my all time favorite treat, Swedish Delight, for the second time in a row. It’s extra hard because we only go there once or twice a year. But it was still great!! I LOVED FINALLY celebrating Mother’s Day in a fun way and I think we should do this belated thing every year!! I felt so much more free from the awful feelings. I think it will make the actual day a bit easier next year too, knowing I’ll have my own time.

 

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My Sweetie had no idea how wonderfully his idea would affect me, but I think it’s yet another step on the healing ladder!! : >

A fun time was had by all!

 

 

 

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Friendship and the Tea Trolley

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Yesterday I spent some much needed time with my wonderful friend Diane at the Tea Trolley. When the owner said, ” Just what the doctor ordered,” her words were oh so true! We both needed the time for a nice, long visit in a relaxing and beautiful setting while drinking yummy, soothing tea. It was PERFECT TIMING and PERFECT FRIENDSHIP in the PERFECT SETTING.

 

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God knows what we need and orchestrates our lives so perfectly, even though we sometimes can’t see it. My prayer is that I learn to trust Him more with the  details of my life, because even though I don’t always feel like it, He knows what is absolutely the BEST for me. And yesterday that was chatting with my friend Diane and sipping apricot tea.  :>

 

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So much yumminess!

 

And matching cups and teapots!

 

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I love her pretty little dessert cups!

 

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And skrumptious lemon curd!

 

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Have yourself a cup of tea with a friend today!

 

 

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

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This idea came about as a way to make the brown rice I have to eat so often for health reasons a bit more interesting. It’s super fast and easy with the shortcuts I used, and it definitely made the brown rice more exciting!! I even ended up throwing everything together and it is so yummy!

 

The corn, cabbage and garlic REALLY make the whole thing work!!

With so many GMO issues, please make sure at least your corn is organic, if not all of the ingredients.

 

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

 

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 Tbl olive oil

1/2 bag organic frozen corn

2 cups cooked black beans

1 bag of shredded cabbage

1/2 cup sliced olives

salt

pepper

Parsley

**Saute the garlic in the olive oil for 1-2 minutes, then add in the corn, black beans, cabbage, salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if needed. Saute for a few minutes, stirring often until hot, then add the olives and parsley, stir and serve!

The mix of flavors is AMAZING!!! So yummy!!

 

 

 

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Happy eating!!

 

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Camp Crop 2014

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I spent last weekend with 7 other wonderful women scrapbooking our little hearts out for FOUR.FULL.DAYS at our annual Camp Crop retreat for the 6th year!  We had such a fabulous time catching up, crafting and laughing together…A LOT!! This was my absolute favorite year! The past couple of years, I’ve tried to tell myself to relax and not worry too much about the number of pages I finish, but treat the time like a combination of crafting and relaxing. I had to because of health issues. But I think this year I finally took it to heart and thoroughly enjoyed time crafting, visiting and relaxing!! It’s so much fun getting together with these same women every year and I love these special women.

 

Here are some of the unique things I worked on over the weekend (excluding photos of my photo pages as I forgot to take them):

 

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I made a cute little house album kit first to get my inspiration juices flowing.

 

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It has sweet doors that open like a house if you put it together the way I did. My favorite part. ; >

 

 

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Open sesame:

 

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Inside the house, notice I tried to make wallpaper:

 

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Another “room” view:

 

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And the top, blue photos are the back. Now to figure out what photos it will hold!!

 

I also decorated the cover of my idea book…FINALLY:

 

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My station:

 

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Loving these pages:

 

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Heather’s twine and ric rac collection:

 

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Paula’s yummy coconut cupcakes:

 

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We each gave little gifts to the others as we prepared our meal, (we each prepare ONE, love it!), and I decided just a few days before to MAKE the gifts. A variation of my new favorite wares in my ETSY shop.

 

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I took photos of the other ladies too, but not sure they want to be on  here for all to see. :>

 

It’s so great to get away with your sweetheart and so great to get away with girlfriends. I highly recommend it!!!

 

 

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Garden Lunch With A Friend

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Last week I had lunch with a dear friend at a Garden Cafe here in town. We had a lovely time chatting together, eating yummy food, then walking through the garden prettiness afterward. I love Cecil Bruner Roses, above!

 

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I love the way they look like flowers!

 

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For my cousin in law who loves glass bottles!

 

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Love, love, love!!

 

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Fabulous time as always!

 

P.S. These are all cell phone photos.

 

 

Purim, Passover, Ressurection Day and Haman’s Hats (Hamantashen)

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Our Ladies Bible Study has been studying Esther the past few months and last week I made Haman’s Hats or Hamantashen for our last meeting. We’re just a few weeks past Purim also, the remembrance of Esther and Mordechai’s bold moves to save the Jewish People, so it was pretty good timing. I made mine with a sweet pastry and fig butter…yummy! Their shape comes from the idea that Haman wore a three-cornered hat and eating his hat symbolizes his destruction. More about this cookie HERE. They’re really fun to make and kids would love shaping the hats. :>

 

And if you’re looking for more Resurrection Day ideas, HERE’S a post from last year:

Resurrection Cookies

Resurrection Eggs

Easter Story Snack Mix

“A Week Long Journey” with Baby Be Blessed

 

And this Countdown to Easter scripture Printable.

Also Resurrection Rolls HERE.

More great ideas HERE, especially the “Golgotha Hill.”

 

So much is happening this week:

 

SUNDAY was Palm Sunday, when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem, to the cheers of the crowds. TODAY begins the remembrance of the Passover, when the lives of those who placed the sacrificial blood over their doorways were spared, with a Seder meal.

 

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD–a lasting ordinance.” Exodus 12:13-14

 

FRIDAY we remember Christ’s horrible and cruel death, and SUNDAY we will CELEBRATE His RESURRECTION. His LIFE brings us LIFE. He paid the price for MY sins, YOUR sins, ALL of our sins. Choosing to repent of my sins, receive His forgiveness and mercy and follow Him, was the BEST choice I EVER made!

 

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” ~Isaiah 53:5

 

 

 

And now onto the Haman’s Hats:

 

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Cut discs out of the pastry and add a dollop of filling in the center.

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Create the three corners by pinching dough in three different sections.

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Bake and enjoy!!

 

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Find the recipe I used HERE. And make these with your kids when you’re studying Esther, Purim or anytime!

 

Happy Resurrection Day!! Christ is Risen!!

 

 

 

 

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Lemon Angel Spring Cake

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I recently saw two fun and festive cakes on Pinterest and ? My wheels started turning because they each used a favorite or two of my Sweetie’s. So I decided to go the easy way, combine the two and add my own flair (which I tend to do frequently with EVERYTHING)!!!

 

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Peek a boo!

 

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The favorite ingredients? Peeps, lemon, of the lemon meringue pie variety, and angel food cake. I used lemon curd form Trader Joe’s because it’s a good price as well as a good flavor, and easier than making my own. :> And I prefer the bunnies to the chicks when it comes to Peeps. Or the gingerbread people! I also love all things MARSHMALLOW!!!!! So I decided to make Fluffy White Frosting for the cake, (or 7 minute, cloud, marshmallow frosting). We also love Angel Food Cake in this family, so I picked one, up ready made from the store so I could focus on the frosting and the cuteness factors!

 

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So many things just fell into place as I mulled over ideas in my head and saw certain sprinkles and jellybeans at the store in certain colors. My version sort of nods to Lemon Meringue, my Swettie’s FAVORITE, and the marshmallow aspect of the Peeps!

 

 

So here’s what I did for this adorable cake:

First I gathered everything onto the table.

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Then Make the Marshmallowy Frosting:

 

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I ADORED Fluffy White Frosting as a kid and always hat it on my Cherry Chip Cake for my birthdays. Betty Crocker had a boxed version we used a lot (COMPLETELY different from the canned variety! I really dislike those cans!). I believe it’s only available on the east coast these days, but I was able to try it again recently, and I really just prefer homemade these days!

 

Next, start assembling…the FUN part!! (Although, eating some of the marshmallow goodness is also fun and gives you energy to continue on)! :>

 

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I cut my Angel Food Cake in half and spooned on the Lemon Curd, smoothed it around and put the top back on it.

 

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Spread the frosting on the top of the cake and gently ease some down the sides, smoothing all the while and being careful to avoid crumbs in the frosting. Either fill in the middle or just ice around the hole. Start decorating!!

Tip: ALWAYS use 4 strips of parchment paper under the cake so you can pull them out afterward along with any messiness.

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I lined the base with alternating pink and yellow jellybeans, threw sprinkles at the sides and top and set the cake on a pretty cake board for prettier photos. :>

 

Then I decorated the top with jellybeans and placed two bunnies in the hole. The frosting buoyed them up!

 

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One of the best things about this idea, is that the choices are ENDLESS, and kids will LOVE decorating it themselves!!!

 

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It is simply DELIGHTFUL! Light and airy! A perfect springtime cake!!

 

P.S. Here’s a cute version some kids made!

 

 

 

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