Clean Caesar Dressing Saturday, Jun 9 2012 

Clean Caesar Dressing

2 Tbsp High Quality Dijon Mustard

3 Tbsp White Vinegar

1 Garlic Clove

1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Squeeze of lemon

Mix dijon, vinegar and garlic in glass jar with lid.  Add olive oil and stir.  Put lid on jar and shake vigorously.

Delicious Caesar dressing without the mayo!

Enjoy.

I’m having this on some organic greens mixed with avocado.  The salad will be topped with a scoop of brown rice mixed with shaved unsweetened coconut, unsweetened dried cranberries and raisins and sliced apple.  Delicious and clean!

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Cleansing, take 2 Saturday, Jun 9 2012 

About 9 months ago I embarked on the first cleanse I have ever done.  This cleanse was the result of my reading CLEAN by Dr Alejandro Jungar.  Amazing book, I highly recommend it.  The cleanse was incredible, results amazing and I have adhered to what Dr. Jungar calls the “Elimination Diet” (ED) on and off for the past year and a half.

The time has come that I would like to cleanse again, however the 3-4 week time span needed to do so just isn’t available in my schedule.  I’ve been on a food and booze binge since vacationing in Hawaii last month and the madness has got to stop but I just can’t seem to break the bad habits.  This focus will help.

If you’re reading this blog, well you’ll get to follow me through the program as I come and go with it for the next month or so.

My plan is to cleanse when I can and stop when social events and vacations present themselves.  I’m hopeful that because of the cleansing between these outings I’ll make better decisions about my diet when embarking on them.

Day 1 is tomorrow…June 9.

This cleanse will last through Thursday, June 14.

I’ll then take 4 days off and go back on the cleanse Tuesday, June 19 through Thursday, June 28….and so on.  I’ll be taking a pretty big break beginning the 3rd week in July.

So we begin…The program consists of liquid breakfast and dinner with a solid lunch and light snacks as needed. Basically everything follows items on the Elimination Diet list of yes/no foods.  Basically no dairy, no gluten, no soy, no sugar, no coffee (possibly the worst part) ….most fruits and vegetables are allowed, lots of gluten free grains and some meat which I don’t eat.  Lots of supplements and lots of water.

 

Heart Walk T-Shirt Design Saturday, Jun 9 2012 

May 19 was the day of the annual American Heart Association Heart Walk in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington.  My company was a sponsor of the event and over 400 employees participated.

There was a contest held to gather artwork ideas for the T-shirt that our employees would wear during the walk.  Two days before the deadline, I was notified of the contest by a coworker.  I must admit that I don’t keep track of many things other than those that immediately apply to my position at work…so this contest almost passed me by.  But alas, my coworker knew I was the person for the job!  Thanks Marva! With my illustration skills I knew I could come up with something cool and immediately had ideas for a design.

That night I set to it, sketching an idea.  The contest specifications dictated only 2 colors, 10×16 artwork and the American Heart Association logo would be incorporated somewhere into the artwork.  I dug out the old Canson drawing pad, my colored pencils and by the end of the evening had a draft.  The draft needed some changes.  The next evening I made the changes and was out of time…  this is what I turned in, hard copy, at the last minute on the due date for the contest.

 

Time passed by and the contest announcement date passed and I didn’t hear anything.  I just figured  that I must not have won. No big deal really.  There was no “prize” for the contest, it was a great excuse to draw and a good exercise in creativity.

But then I found out that they were just behind schedule and I was a finalist.  More time passed and I received word that my artwork had been chosen as the inspiration for the design.  They didn’t use it exactly as drawn.  Honestly, I can understand why. It’s very busy and I don’t know, maybe a bit “bad ass” or “tattoo like” for the company to put on a T-shir?  At any rate, a woman named Jessica in our Creative Services department created a wonderful design using my artwork as the inspiration.

 

The shirts turned out great!

The photo of the day… Sunday, Apr 22 2012 

Beautiful blue sky and bright sun today. Spring has sprung in the garden!

Designing Little Miss Bee Sunday, Apr 22 2012 

Designed for my Aunt Pam…this sassy little bee represents her daughter, Lauren. Pam called Lauren “Bee” when she was a child.

The concept came about after a conversation that my aunt and I had about a week ago.  She recently got a tattoo of a gardenia and wants another something to represent Lauren by the flower.  We discussed visions of whimsical bees in dresses wearing little patent leather shoes.   After a few renditions and input from both Pam and Lauren, I think we have a winner.

Here is the progression of the design of Little Miss Bee….  a fun drawing adventure!

 

And here she is, the final product.  Now Pam just needs to find a tattoo artist that can do this level of detail in a tiny version and it’s good to go!

 

 

Southern Arizona Wine Country Tuesday, Mar 13 2012 

Believe it or not, in southern Arizona they’re growing wine grapes.

When traveling through this part of the country, it’s hard to  imagine that it’s possible to grow anything.  But…in a tiny little spot on the map called Elgin, Arizona, they’re doing it and they’re doing it well!

Several vineyards and wineries can be found in the Sonoita-Elgin area, about an hour or so southeast of Tucson:

Charron, Kief-Joshua, Wilhelm Family , Village-of-Elgin/Four Monkeys, Rancho Rossa and Callaghan Vineyards along with Canela Hills Winery and Lightning Ridge Cellars.  We visited many of the above vineyards and all had great wines.  I was surprised at the variety: Tempranillo, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, riesling, sangiovese, etc.  One location even had “Christmas in a Glass” , a gluhwein type drink.  It was December and it was delightful!

 

And after visiting many of these fine wine makers and tasting along the way, you too may see something like this…..

Was he really green? I can’t really say because I can’t quite remember after all that wine!

Cheers!

Photoshop Fun Tuesday, Mar 13 2012 

There are several trips I’ve taken recently that I’m way behind on blogging. I’ll get to them soon, I promise!

In the mean time, I took this photo while in Arizona visiting my dad in December.  We were wondering around La Paloma Resort and I found an interesting area of wall.  Light was shining on the way in a way that made it look sort of like ripples of gathered fabric.

 

 

I knew once I’d taken the photo of this great wall that it was going to be fun to play around with it in photoshop.  So today, I did a little experimentation.

Here is the result, you tell me what you think.

 

 

Wedding Photographer for a Day! Saturday, Feb 25 2012 

 

 

Yes, that’s right. I did it!  It was never in my plan to be, or even attempt to be, a “pro” photographer, much less one who photographs weddings.  I’ve had this trusty Nikon D3100 for just over a year and prior to that, I really didn’t know much other than point-and-shoot. While I’ve learned a lot in the past year, I have a loooooooooooong way to go but consider myself very lucky to have both a father and father-in-law who have a great deal of experience with photography and have helped me get to where I am today.

So the story goes…a little over a week ago my friend Kori contacted me asking if I could not only make a small cake for her mother’s wedding but also be the photographer.  The cake – no problem! 6″ cakes and cupcakes are my specialty and I was happy to do it.  However, the thought of being the wedding photographer sent me into a nervous panic.  How would I respond? What would I charge – or would I charge at all?  At first I recommended my father-in-law, because if they were were looking for a pro, he would be the guy for the job and I could play apprentice.  After sitting on the idea for a day or two, while Kori did what she could to boost my esteem with her confidence that I would do a great job, I finally agreed.  Then I ran out and picked up an SS-400 flash, figuring I was going to need it and had been wanting one for a while anyway so this was a great excuse! Thanks Kori!

The wedding was on Monday at 3:00, a somewhat casual in-home wedding with about 15 guests.  I arrived at 1:15, after having stopped by my in-laws to borrow a strobe and get a quick tutorial from the pro.  I promptly set up the cake and started in on what would be roughly 5 hours of picture taking. Nearly 700 photos were taken that day!  On the drive home I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, complete exhaustion.  While I never felt stressed during the event, obviously the day had taken its tole.  Of the photos, only about 150 of them were too dark or too blurry to keep, not bad!  Another 200 went into a “2nds” folder so that the family can have everything, just in case there is something in there that might mean something to them. Of the remaining photos, the majority went into Photoshop for editing, cropping, converting to black and white, etc.

As of this morning, I am done editing everything with the exception the group shots. There are about 10 of them.  Now that I see them, I realize I WAS exhausted by 5:00 and I think that my brain might not have been aligned with my eyes. I could have done a much better job organizing people. A few people are squished behind others so you can barely see their faces but I think, all in all, there may be one or two shots of the group that aren’t bad.

I want to personally thank Kori & Dan for having confidence enough in my skills to hire me, Karla and Herb for their trust in allowing me the opportunity and pleasure of photographing their wedding, and to all their family and the minister for putting up with the constant flashing camera in their faces all day!

 

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting Tuesday, Feb 14 2012 

Mmmmmmm…warm, gooey cinnamon rolls!  My husband is so lucky! My waistline, not so much. Regardless, this recipe is a keeper.  As far as I’m concerned, Paula Deen hit the nail on the head with this one.

These take some time, kneading, resting, rolling, more resting, baking…..You’ll want to give yourself a good 3 hour window for total prep time, but it is completely worth the wait.

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Cinnamon Rolls

Source: Paula Deen; FoodNetwork.com

Makes 10-15 Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:

1/4 oz package yeast

1/2 c warm water

1/2 c scalded milk (whole milk)

1/4  c sugar

1/3 c butter or shortening, melted (I used butter, always use butter!)

1 tsp salt

1 egg

3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour

Filling:

1/2 c melted butter, plus more for pan

3/4 c sugar, plus more for pan

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

3/4 c raisins, walnuts or pecans, optional (or if you’re like Oozing Ink, some high quality 70% chocolate, chopped)

Glaze: NOTE: I’m providing you with Paula’s glaze that is included in the recipe as it reads in print, however I did not use this glaze.  In this house we prefer “frosting” as opposed to glaze and I’m partial to cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.  While I’m sure this glaze is delicious, look to the bottom of this post for the cream cheese frosting glaze recipe that I used for this batch.

4 tbsp butter

2 c powdered sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

3-6 tbsp hot water

Directions:

Heat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.  In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg.  Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth.  Add yeast mixture.  Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle (I ended up using all 4 cups). Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5-10 minutes (I went the full 10, a nice little workout!).  Place in a well-buttered bowl, cover and let rise until dough is doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

A note on dough rising: Turning the oven on and leaving the bowl on top or near the warm oven helps it to rise quicker.

When doubled in size, punch down dough.  Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 x 9 rectangle.  Spread the 1/2 cup melted butter all over the dough (if I had used the entire half cup, I would have had a mess on my kitchen floor, I probably used half and reserved the rest for the pan).  Mix sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle evenly over dough.  Sprinkle in walnuts, pecans, raisins (or chocolate) if desired.

Beginning at the 15-inch side, roll up dough and pinch edge together to seal.  Cut into 12-15 even slices.

Coat the bottom and sides of the baking pan with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar (about 1/4 cup).  Place cinnamon rolls slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes.  Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until nicely browned.

Meanwhile, mix butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Add hot water 1 tbsp at a time until glaz reaches desired consistency.  Spread over slightly cooled rolls.

Oozing Ink’s Cream Cheese Frosting Glaze

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

2 c powdered sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

With mixer, cream cream cheese and butter  on medium- high speed until smooth.  Add 1 cup sugar and vanilla, mix on low speed until smooth. Add additional 1 cup sugar and mix on low speed until combined.  Increase speed of mixer to high speed and mix for about 30 seconds until very smooth and creamy.

Spread on slightly cooled cinnamon rolls.

For the chocolate cinnamon rolls, I shaved about 1/2 cup high quality 70% chocolate and mixed it into 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting.  Then spread it onto slightly cooled rolls. This makes for a very rich roll, just a warning! 

Crazy Crafty Valentine Card Making Party Tuesday, Feb 14 2012 

Oh the fun of a few gals getting their craft on!  Recently I had some friends over for a card making party, the second card making party I’ve hosted.    This particular event was specific to Valentine’s Day, with all the pinks and reds and hearts and love related stuff that fits the theme…more “stuff” than you can possibly imagine.

If you’ve looked deep within the confines of this blog you are well aware that I have an extensive paper crafting past.  And, because I really don’t make too many cards anymore, like I did for years….I have a lot of supplies!  LOTS! So…party on!

This type of party is a great idea for anyone who likes to craft and has a few friends who want to indulge their creative spirit a little.  Even those who are a little intimidated by arts and crafts..they end up having no problem!  Everyone ends up making something cool and has a great time.   A little food, a little wine, good conversation and some serious card making!

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