Monday, March 22, 2010

Alice in Wonderland Tag Swap

They arrived!  My Alice in Wonderland tags came in the mail and I am so excited.  As Tim Burton’s movie Alice in Wonderland came out recently, there is much to-do regarding the Alice theme.  Karla Nathan, of Karla’s Cottage hosted a Tag Book swap, wherein we sent in 6 tags and received a tagbook back with 6 tags from different artists, as well as a cute little cover.  I was delighted to have participated (with so many others) in such a fun activity. 
As one who is not always accustomed to being a “normal” member of society, my tags were atypical of what one might expect for the Alice in Wonderland theme:
Cheryl Bass tag for Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 04-10 1
Here is the adorable cover (and cutest tiny little “drink me” potion ever—you KNOW how I love miniature things) created by Karla:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p1
This one was created by Ruth Graham:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p2
This is by the lovely Michele Askeroth:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p3
Here’s one from Kathy Lowry:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p4
And this adorable one is from Rebekaha:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p5
Here’s the tag from Victoria Grobels:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p6
And finally, one from our wonderful hostess, Karla Nathan:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p7
Oh, but the goodness doesn’t stop there!  As a special bonus, as I had requested, my beautiful and talented friend, Nina, created an “extra” so I could have one of hers, too!
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p8
I so appreciate everyone involved.  I had so much fun with this swap!  Now, I wonder where my tags ended up?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Rainy Day Recipe

Last Monday (a week ago, today) it rained pretty steadily all day, just as it is today.  It was the snuggle-up and stay in kind of day that you dream of.  Fortunately my husband is employed (as there are so many out there struggling!) and he had to go to work.  So, I had to snuggle to myself.  Is that possible?

I have some really happy memories from my childhood.  Not all of them are, but a lot of the ones that include my siblings are…      

except that time my older brother threw a brick at me and hit me in the forehead—I still have a scar.  Incidentally, that was the time he was in so much trouble that Mom chased him up the ladder (wooden slats nailed to the side of a 100 foot Black Walnut tree) to the treehouse.  He wasn’t about to get caught, so he jumped out of the treehouse to the trampoline below!  Mom definitely wasn’t going to follow.  By the time she got to the top of the ladder and on the treehouse platform, she realized just how high above the ground she was.  Apparently the adrenaline rush had faded and she suddenly remembered she doesn’t do well with heights.  Then, with slightly trembling hands, she tried to climb back down the ladder.  Unfortunately, she didn’t know how.  Sometimes swinging your legs over the edge, not knowing where there is solid “ground” below, can be overwhelming and paralyzing.  Mom got stuck.  As the rest of us kids (we’re 7 children) continue to watch the scene unfold, Mom started crying out for one of the boys to help her get down.  My younger brothers didn’t quite know what to do, so she told them to go find their older brother.  I don’t know how they managed to persuade him to come back to the scene of the crime, but he did.  Mom told him to climb up the ladder and help guide her down out of the tree.  My brother looked at her as if she had just escaped the Looney Bin.  He didn’t think getting anywhere near his punisher was a good idea.  He started shaking his head and backing away.  Mom all but got hysterical then, and began pleading with him to help her!  My brother, always being one to wheel-and-deal (a trait he learned early-on from my Uncle Paul who used to sell us his “cool” stuff like radio station bumper stickers and half sticks of gum) said he’d make Mom a deal.  If she wouldn’t punish him…AT ALL…he’d come up to help her down.  She readily agreed and up he went.  Obviously, this totally wasn’t fair to me, the one with blood trickling down her face, but what’s a girl to do?

But I digress (as usual).  I was remembering one of the HAPPY times with my siblings.  We lived in this old, old house that was over a hundred years old then.  Too bad I was too young then to appreciate the beauty of the gingerbread gables and hardwood floors.  The front porch was made of smooth shale, which served as a fitting gathering spot for us and our neighbor friends.  In the summer heat, we would lay out flat in our shorts and tank tops to feel the year-round coolness of the stone.  The porch was equally appealing in the winter and spring-time (Missouri has GREAT seasons!)  When it rained and stormed outside, sometimes we’d gather up our heaviest blankets and quilts and head out to the front porch.  I still remember an old patchwork quilt (that had purple marbled fabric on one side) that was so heavy and comfy I’d always be first to grab it!  And there we’d sit, watching the rain, snuggled up together on the front porch, just me and my siblings. 

I don’t know why certain memories stay with us and others don’t.  There doesn’t really seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.  But, I’m glad I have these happy ones of my simple childhood growing up in southern Missouri.  What rainy day memories do you have?

So, here’s the recipe I cooked last week when it was raining (like it is today) and I didn’t have my husband or my siblings to snuggle with.  It’s a very tasty LOWFAT and easy to make Southwestern Chicken and White Bean Chili recipe.  I keep most of the products in my pantry so I can whip it up on just such days.

2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Oregano
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper (ground red pepper)
1 large (or two small) can diced Green Chilies
1 white onion, diced
1 bunch green onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 cans fat free Chicken Broth
4-6 cans White Pinto or Navy Beans (I use “Great Northern” beans)
3 pounds cooked, cubed chicken breasts (or, you can use 2 large cans chicken breast,  drained*)

Prepare chicken breasts (cook), cut into small cubes/chunks. (Skip this step if you are using canned chicken.)
Dice green onion, white onion. Chop fresh cilantro (cut off stems first and throw away).
In large soup pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add white onion, green onion, and cilantro. Cook 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly clear.
Lowfat Southwest White Bean Chicken Chili 1
Stir in chicken broth, chicken, green chilies and spices.
Lowfat Southwest White Bean Chicken Chili 2
Cover and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.  Stir in beans.
Lowfat Southwest White Bean Chicken Chili 3
Return to heat.  Cover and simmer another 15 minutes.  Serve warm.  You can cut the recipe in half if you don’t want a giant pot full.  Enjoy!

Honorable Mention

I feel so privileged to have one of my comments featured on Karen Valentine's beautiful blog, My Desert Cottage.  She had asked why we love blogging.  I love it when someone asks me a question that causes me to really think about something.  My response continues to prove honest and heartfelt for me every day.

I love blogging, though I've only been doing it a short time, like you, for so many reasons. Obviously I love the friendships and support you develop from your interactions with other bloggers. I love the whole concept of people being willing to "wear their hearts on their sleeves" so to speak. People can be so closed in "real life" sometimes, but in blogland, people are willing to reveal themselves in a more intimate way than imaginable. I love that! 

My favorite thing about blogging, however, is it's not just something I DO. It has become an extension of who I AM. Does that make sense? Blogging causes me to really THINK about the way I live life, because I know I'll probably be blogging about it later. That doesn't mean I do things just so I'll have something to blog. No. But knowing that I will be blogging, sharing the most authentic part of who I am (through my words and artful creations), I want to LIVE fully. I want to create with passion. I want to be the best version of ME I can. If something can inspire one to live daily life with such purpose, it must be a truly wonderful experience.

I just read on someone's blog the other day (sorry, can't remember whose!) that according to an 1800 something version of Webster's Dictionary, Romance means "a style of living". 

That so spoke to me because that's how I want my life to be... ROMANTIC. That doesn't mean I want roses and candy and hot passionate sex (though I'm certainly not knocking those!), but it means I want to live in a style that feels true, authentic, and inspiring! Blogging inspires that in me.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Pretty Vintage Email Button

While I'm not any kind of web genius, and I am definitely NOT a programmer (though my husband is and STILL won't help me with this stuff), I've learned how to create an e-mail button for my blog.  This is the type where you don't have to show the whole world your email address (to avoid spammers), but if someone wants to contact you, she can.  If you'd like to use this button, I'd love to share it with you!

This is a 200x200 size image, which means it will fit well in one of your sidebars.  Now, the tricky part is making it work as a link, not just a picture.  Here's what you do (instructions for Blogger):

Go to your dashboard and click "Layout".   There you should see a tab that says "Page Elements".  (You will probably already be on "Page Elements" by default.  In one of your sidebar columns, select "Add a Gadget".   Now, in the open box (below where it says "Title"), paste the following code:

As you have probably already figured out, you will need to replace where it says "" with your actual email address.  For example, you might type in "".  Click save, to save your new gadget.  Then click save to save the update to your layout.  Voila!  That's it!  (Hope this works for you.  If not, I don't know if I'll be much help trying to make it work for you, but I can try! :)