~You Are What You Love~

We create our lives by our thoughts and aspirations. Aspire for greatness !!!

Who you are isn't passive or unchanging. It is a vital sign that needs to unfold and express itself, through your entire life and so that unique pattern of talents and gifts that lie hidden in the things you love is also the map to your life path.

The beautiful life collage above is fromhttp://outofhandart.blogspot.com/ I absolutely love her work.

~Beautiful Candles~

Don't you just love these re-dipped candles? Such an easy project too. You can also add your favorite essence oil to make scented candles....

Embed flowers onto a candle by affixing dried flowers to the surface, then over-dipping in clear wax. This technique works especially well with interestingly shaped leaves and flat blooms.

Use a dab of Stick-um to affix the dried flowers or leaves to the candle. Do this to each flower until the arrangement is complete, making sure the flowers remain flat against the candle.

In a
9-inch dipping can, set in the bottom of a double boiler over medium heat, melt the wax
. Heat to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. (Be extra vigilant at these temperatures.)Holding the candle by the wick, carefully dip it in the wax. Hold for 5 seconds. Remove and make sure the flowers are flat.

Dip again for 5 seconds. Remove and leave to dry for 2 hours. Trim the wick to 1/4 inch and you are
ready to light your candle.

~Beautiful Weekend~

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend !!
Did you try the yummy potato soup? I hope so, it was so warm and delicious.
I put the final touches on the trim paint, I just love fresh painted woodwork, in a bright white gloss, everything just looks so fresh and bright.
I also found the time to catch up with some friends this weekend too, which is always the sunshine of my week. A little girl talk, soothes the soul. You ladies are definitely my sunshine.

Till Next Time,

~Loaded Potato Soup~

The weekend is here!!! What a wonderful day for "Soup" this is soooo good. I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'm off to the market to get my potato's to make this scrumptious soup and salad. BonAppetit


1 lb. baking potatoes (about 2), cubed
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, cooked, crumbled and divided
1 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 green onion sliced, divided
1/4 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream


MICROWAVE potatoes in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 5 min., stirring after 2-1/2 min. Stir in broth and milk. Microwave 10 min., stirring after 5 min. Carefully crush potatoes with potato masher.

RESERVE 2 Tbsp. each bacon and cheese and 1 Tbsp. onions for topping. Stir remaining bacon, cheese and onions into soup.

SERVE topped with reserved bacon, cheese, onions and sour cream.

Change your thoughts, Change your life!

~Have a Great Day~

~Candy Bar Wrappers~

I wanted to share with you a beautiful website, full of beautiful creative ideas." Crafty This and That" They have also given you some really beautiful vintage candy bar wrappers. Go on over and visit, I'm sure you will be inspired. I just love the candy wrappers.

~Easy Window Treatments~

~Reuse old curtains~
These are so pretty, and it allows for the sun to still shine through....

Don't toss out curtains you love if they don't fit your new windows or need to be replaced. Instead, cut and sew them into panel-style window shades with rod pockets. Tension rods hold the shades in place and make them easy to change or remove. This trick also works to make outdated curtain fabrics look trendy again.


~Frugal Cottage Ideas~

1. Simple window treatments ensure ample light. Any lightweight cotton fabric will do. Find tab-top panels for less than $20 at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond. Or simply hem all raw fabric-by-the-yard edges and use clip-style curtain rings over rods for an easy project.

2. Slipcovers reflect the easy-living attitude that's crucial to cottage style. Sewn from affordable canvas, these slipcovers easily slip off and into the wash.

3. Colorful vases look charming with or without flowers. Select flowers that might grow in the cottage garden, such as hydrangeas, roses, and daisies, and fill the vase to overflowing. Try your local farmers' market for bouquets that offer the perfect combination of color and abundance.

Affordable Accents

4. Vintage fabrics might seem pricey, but consider their design punch. A curtain panel should yield enough fabric for three 20-inch-square pillows. Shop for damaged or stained pieces that can be cut to make a pillow top; add new coordinating fabric on the back.

5. Beaded board creates cottage style faster than any other element. Wood paneling called Ply-Bead from Georgia Pacific looks like beaded board, but it's really a 4x8-foot sheet paneling with tongue-and-groove edges. At about $19 a sheet, it offers a lower-cost option than traditional beaded board at $8 for a piece 8 inches wide and 8 feet long.

6. Hardwood floors offer warm wood tones and an easy-care surface that looks good with soft fabrics and subdued color schemes. Leave the floors bare in summer and add rugs in winter. For an affordable large rug, buy several small rugs and stitch them together.
bhg 08
~The most common way people give up their power
is by thinking they don't have any~.

~ Alice Walker ~

~Barefoot Contessa~

~Brownie Pudding~ ina garten

This is so incredibly chocolatey, gooey and yummy. bon appetit !


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.


Girlfriends Forever is about the joys of sharing everything with a good friend: recipes; style, decorating, and wardrobe tips; memories; and party ideas. Susan Branch, in her appealing, personal style, tells of her life with her friends, from her exhilarating experience of meeting the Beatles to her Tuesday Girls get-togethers, and offers tips on the art of the home. Sprinkled throughout are her thoughts on food and love, all highlighted by quotes and fresh, vivid watercolours. The recipes have a winning combination of snappy taste and healthy, low-fat ingredients, and contain complete nutritional information.

~The Perfect Cottage Entrance~

This is the Perfect Entrance. It is so cozy and inviting. This picture also reminds me that spring is just around the corner. I can't wait to bring out my terracotta and start planting the beautiful geraniums.

~St. Louis Toasted Ravioli~

This is our Family's Favorite movie night treat.

Submitted By: Sandy Prep Time: 15 min Ready In: 30min

2 tablespoons whole milk
1 egg
3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 (25 ounce) package frozen cheese ravioli, thawed
3 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

1.Combine milk and egg in a small bowl. Place breadcrumbs and if desired, salt in a shallow bowl. Dip ravioli in milk mixture, and coat with breadcrumbs.
2.In a large saucepan, heat marinara sauce over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce the heat to simmer.
3.In a large heavy pan, pour oil to depth of 2 inches. Heat oil over medium heat until a small amount of breading sizzles and turns brown. Fry ravioli, a few at a time, 1 minute on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately with hot marinara sauce.

~ Unplug Your Appliances When Not In Use~

Unplugging appliances when you're not using them can save up to 10 percent on your monthly electricity bill. Do you employ this easy energy-saving method?


OK, Somethings are not to be told, and then there are some things you have to share. This is one of those (RARE) times, I am going to share with you, how things don't necessarily work out as planned. Planned? I don't think that is the right word, but here goes!!!!

One of my best friends (Kim), recently underwent surgery, which has limited her physical activity for 6 weeks. First let me say, Kim is a really bright, energetic and creative person. I think the "creative" maybe influenced her "bright" for a few days. She had phoned one day during her re coop time, to tell me that her dog was shedding horribly, I certainly could relate, our dog "Rocky" has been losing his undercoat for weeks and it is a constant battle. I have brushed that poor dog, bathed him, vacuumed him, but the fur is constant.

Well, said Kim, I did something yesterday, I don't really want to tell you. but it worked. What was it? I asked. She said you will think I have lost my mind, but I took the leaf blower and decided to clean my house. The leaf blower? "I said". Yep!, You know I am still limited physically and my husband and son went golfing and there I was laying in the bed thinking,I wish I could get all this dust and cob webs out of the house not to mention the dogs are shedding.

So, I thought. I wonder what will happen if I just blow all the cob webs from the ceilings and work my way down, and then make one big pile of dust. So that is what she did, she got the light weight blower and started upstairs and worked her way down. Cob webs, dust, fur and everything else went flying. She said after the dust had settled, she then vacuumed the floors and dusted the furniture. It really did get everything, even under the refrigerator, stove and sofa's. Wow, "I thought". Really, It got everything dusted? Even the draperies? Yes, she said everything.

OK, I don't even know what my excuse is, other than the thought of everything dusted and cleaned in less than an hour? Even under the sofa? So off I went to the garage to get my leaf blower......

Oh My Gosh! I took steady aim, not to blow over my collection of pewter frames or hanging artwork. Everything went everywhere...... Yes, the dog fur came out from underneath the stove and fridge and stuck to the wall, along with the gross dust which now has landed on top of all the appliances, the pewter frames I was so proud of had to be individually cleaned to get Rocky's fur off of them. I was aiming for the opened front door but the fur decided to stick to the Sheetrock and my beautiful Waverly wallpaper.

With the front door opened, my neighbors, who were working outside in their yards, couldn't help but hear the roaring engine inside my house, were standing together talking, when I exited to catch a breath of fresh air. I really didn't want to know what they were saying, because if it were the other way around, i would have pulled up a chair and waited to see what was next!!! So back into the house i went, collecting my leaf blower and started blowing off the front porch and the porch furniture as though nothing was out of the norm.

What was suppose to have been spotlessly clean house in less than an hour, took 2 days of vacuuming, dusting, cleaning tops of appliances, cabinets, and mirrors.

Well, my spring cleaning is done for this year.... Next year, I will just move the furniture and vacuum under them...

Let's let this be our little secret. I don't want the world to know.

Best advice "Leaf Blowers are not for indoor use".
Until next time,

Paula Deens Caesar Salad Pita

Saturday afternoons at our house is catch up day; laundry, groceries, haircuts and cleaning. It is the perfect sandwich day, one of my family's fav's is this ceasar chicken. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine! bon appetit.

Caesar Salad Pita

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 large pita rounds, halved
Chopped romaine lettuce
Caesar Dressing
Grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a heavy-duty zip-top resealable bag, combine oil, lemon juice, mustard, soy sauce, and garlic; add chicken breasts. Seal bag, and refrigerate 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350˚. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until done. Thinly slice chicken; set aside.
3. Stuff pita halves with romaine lettuce. Top evenly with chicken, Caesar dressing, and grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Paula Deen Magazine
One Of Georgia's Own "Pride and Joy"

~Painting Concrete ~

What a beautiful and creative way to transform an unfinished walkway or pathway.
The ideas are endless.
1. 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore's MoorGard Low Lustre Latex House Paint (#103-4B) in the following color formula (the paint dealer will know what this means): n OY 1x8, RX 5x, BK 1x22, MA 3x, WH 1x16, TG 18

2. Clean the area you plan to paint, and let it dry thoroughly.

3. Beginning in a corner, use a 4-inch roller to paint "bricks." Make each one about 7 inches long, leaving about 3/4 inch between each brick. Stagger adjoining rows so bricks form a wall pattern.

premier edition cottage living


What a beautiful site for scrapbookers, custom greeting cards and websites.

I absolutely love SCRAPBLOG, the ideas are endless. I am currently making personalized covers for recipes books to give to my daughters. I collected our family's favorite recipes passed onto me from my mom and grandmother. My super best friend (colleen) made me a recipe book this past Christmas. She collected recipes from family members and put together a cookbook. It is beautiful and I will treasure it always. I knew I wanted to give my daughters all the recipes from our family, and then I found SCRAPBLOG. I have had so much fun personalizing old family photo's.

The top designers of the scrapbooking world have set up shop inside Scrapblog to bring you endless amounts of stunning new content! Anna Griffin, Cosmo Cricket, Rhonna Farrer, and more!


~Magnolia Bakery NYC~

TODAY recipes
Magnolia Bakery’s cult-favorite vanilla cupcakes
Steal the simple recipe for the ‘Sex and the City’ ladies’ preferred dessert

Want to impress your friends — and your taste buds? Steal this easy-to-follow recipe for the “Sex and the City” ladies’ preferred dessert, the famous Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. Take your pick of either luscious vanilla or chocolate buttercream icing and serve for the ultimate in delicious, chic entertaining.

Magnolia Bakery cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

• 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla buttercream icing
Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes

• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1/2 cup milk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.

Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of a good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.

If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

~Don't Forget That Sweet Valentine~


Card-Carrying Romantics

Let the kids take the lead when it comes to choosing or making Valentine's Day cards.

* One and all. Encourage kids to include all classmates on their Valentine's Day list so no one feels left out. Be sure to remember teachers and school staff, too.
* Think inside the box. Allow kids to buy boxed cards if that's their preference, but help them personalize the sentiment by decorating envelopes with stickers, stamps and drawings.
* Get creative. You don't have to spend money on commercial valentines--create something unique instead. Use a cookie cutter to trace heart shapes on red or pink cardstock or construction paper. Cut out pictures from magazines for charming collages. Recycle old valentines: mount fronts of cards on heavy red or pink paper or flattened cupcake liners, and decorate with ribbon bows.
* Immitation is the highest form of flattery. Check out poetry books from the library to help older kids think about messages to put on their valentines.
* Poets who know it. Have younger kids pen poetry using a "Roses are Red, Violets are blue" theme. Or show them how to write a love note that expresses why they appreciate someone: "How do I like you? Let me count the ways…"


~ Featured Cottage~

With windows flung open to the scent of salt air and roses, Claudia Darr basks in the charm of a 1930s california cottage she restored for her family.
By Susan Heeger

Claudia took her remodeling cues from the 1922 Craftsman cottage next to her home on the same property. The designer chose much of her new color palette from the old rose garden, which she planted herself.

On any given weekend, Claudia Darr's Laguna Beach bungalow is packed with girls: teens lolling in the living room, kids in the kitchen, 11- and 12-year-olds piled on the master bed watching TV with Stella, a yellow Lab. The scent of salt air and roses wafts through open windows. Freshly baked bread cools on the kitchen counter.

photography: Jeremy Samuelson
Claudia removed a wall between the kitchen and dining room to create one open space.
Just a block and a half from the Pacific Ocean, Claudia's cottage is the hangout of choice for her two daughters and their friends. Claudia, an interior designer, welcomes company with barbecues, roaring fires, and vintage quilts. She keeps everything unfussy so her family and all of their guests can completely relax when they walk in the door.

Such casual, simple warmth defines Claudia's approach to life—and the way she transformed a quirky rental property into a California charmer. Five years ago she was living in a tiny 1920s Craftsman cottage she'd moved here to save from the wrecking ball. A larger house directly behind the cottage was rented out to tenants. But as Claudia and the girls began feeling cramped in the cottage, they made a big switch and moved into the bigger house.

photography: Jeremy Samuelson

The larger 1930s home—just 1,500 square feet—had three bedrooms instead of two but was long on shortcomings. Windows were painted shut, there were few closets, and the floors were a hodgepodge of wood and tile. Plus, it lacked the Craftsman's rose garden and ocean view, and it desperately needed some up-to-date wiring. This was a larger home, but it was no bargain. Claudia recalls, "If you wanted coffee, you had to unplug the toaster."

She so loved her little Craftsman—the proverbial storybook retreat—that it inspired her to redo the 1930s house in the same vein. Claudia wasn't daunted by its slight size. Years ago, she'd left a 6,000-square-foot house nearby and never looked back. Out with the china, she decided then. No more silver. And in place of oversize antiques, she learned to love fewer, less precious things that could take a beating from kids and dogs. If she has a look, she says, its trademarks are "cheerful colors, simple shapes, and nothing pretentious."

Determined to give the new home light and air, Claudia replaced the old sticky windows, added more new ones, and installed French doors in place of aluminum sliders. She decked the exterior with shutters and window boxes stuffed with flowers to create instant views from rooms that looked out onto garden walls. She painted those walls red and planted ivy, which has since leaped up and swallowed them. Then she trained more ivy on the house itself.

Inside, Claudia removed the wall dividing the dining room and kitchen, creating a warm gathering spot where she can cook and visit with the girls. New glass-fronted cabinets hold pottery she's collected for years, and the sunflower-yellow walls cast a summer glow year-round. In the living room, she built a fireplace and bookcases, keeping the background white and adding splashes of color with such accessories as vintage cushions, dried gourds, a bin of handmade quilts. She explains, "I love color against the calm and Zenlike cleanliness of white."

While white is one of her themes, so are the built-ins that marry form and function in every room. Getting the most from space is a priority. The closet in her room doubles as a media unit, and the computer nooks and pullout desks in the second-floor "office" have taught her daughters to organize.

Despite its user-friendly parts, this cottage is unified by Claudia's informal, homespun taste. At ground level, she tied together the downstairs rooms with a single floor of Mexican Saltillo pavers she chose herself, one at a time. "I liked the ones with the footprints," she says, "from when dogs walked through the tile yard before the clay dried."

Not surprisingly, she doesn't fuss about neatness since she picked furnishings for comfort, not pedigree. Her coffee table may be 200 years old, but her low-slung sofa was a floor model and her armchairs are knockoffs of French antiques. She's no snob about combinations either, sneaking a modern Italian Artemide lamp, for instance, into her cozy living room.

"This is where we all want to be," says Claudia happily. "On Saturday nights, I feel like I'm running a sorority house."
~cottage living premier edition~

~Get Organized~

Wouldn't it be great to have a professional to come into our homes and organize all our clutter. We ALL have those items we don't think we can live without, however we live without using them for years, we just keep them to keep them,convincing ourselves one day I will use it again. Those THINGS kept growing until they literally were taking over rooms in our home. Since most of us can't really afford a professional organizer to tell us what we already know "If you haven't used it in 2 years, It has got to go". I decided to take on that challenge and "Get Organized" I recently read a book by Meryl Starr, The Personal Organizing Workbook. One of her challenges to you is, take a walk around your home or office. Are there any areas you dread entering, or even seeing? When you walk into a room or open a closet door and you can feel your energy drop, that's your signal that you've found a perfect place to begin. Enter this problem area , close your eyes, and imagine what that space would look like with nothing at all in it. Just thinking about that empty space, you may notice your spirits beginning to beginning to lift.

Don't forget to check out "The Personal Organizing Workbook" by Merryl Starr and Happy organizing.

Accomplish a project that you have been putting off.
Remember, "The Rewards Far Exceed the Effort".

Best Wishes,
The Simple Life