Sunday, July 26, 2009

Aunt Bonnie's French toast

I know there are several versions of this overnight French toast, but this is the one I'll be keeping in my repertoire. Not only because it was passed to me by my Aunt Bonnie, but because it is divine in so many ways--

it uses brioche which gives it a lightness
the maple syrup in place of vanilla results in a mellow richness
the secret is in the sauce-o.j.

without further adieu, here is the recipe:

12 slices of brioche, cut into 1" cubes
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, cut into 1" cubes
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
12 large eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 cups milk

Coat 9x13 glass baking pan with cooking spray. Place half of bread cubes in pan. Scatter cream cheese over bread, then blueberries over cream cheese. Place remaining bread cubes on top of blueberries. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, syrup and milk. Poor evenly over bread. Wrap with foil and place in refrigerator overnight.

Next morning, preheat over to 350 degrees. Remove French toast from refrigerator and place in middle of oven. Bake for 30 minutes with foil on, 30 minutes uncovered, until puffy and golden brown. Cut into servings and top with blueberry sauce.

Blueberry Sauce

2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

In 1 quart saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Add water and orange juice; cook over medium heat until thickened. Add blueberries and simmer for 10 minutes or until berries have burst, stirring occasionally. Serve over French toast.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

I "heart" Leftovers

My husband Jeff does not care for leftovers. Won't touch 'em. On the other hand, my brother-in-law, Steven loves them. In fact, he maintains that most food tastes better the second day. And he's right-soup and chili especially. And who doesn't love Thanksgiving leftovers? Lots of things are better the second time around.

One such place filled to the brim with items waiting to be used a second or even third time is, The Leftover Store or Leftovers, Etc. One of the places I was determined to visit this summer, I paid a visit there today. I LOVE the concept of this place which provides a way to recycle everyday items that can be used for arts & crafts and which would otherwise end up in a landfill. Open to the public, patrons are encouraged to bring in items for donation when they shop providing a constant flow of inspiring materials for artists, teachers, scout leaders, and others working with children. The epitome of recycling! And they have LOTS of really cool stuff as well as resources for project ideas and a book and video exchange. I almost hyperventilated when I started looking through all the bins. My favorite of which were the hundreds of little yogurt containers filled with goodies. Check out the fantastic things I found for just $2 on my visit there today!

So while there are those who have yet to develop a taste for leftovers, I'm with Steven-I think lots of things are better the second time around!

P.S. There are places like The Leftover Store in communities throughout the country. To find one near you, try googling leftovers and then your city or county name.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Life is...

just a bowl of cherries!
For years, I have admired the artwork and quote collection of Mary Engelbreit. One of my favorite prints was a stack of whimsical bowls in an equally whimsical overstuffed chair. The quote was a play on words-Life is just a chair of bowlies. Inspite of all that I could find to complain about, life is good. As I'm oft reminded-it's all about attitude.

This weekend held plenty of moments to make me smile and be grateful. We had such an enjoyable weekend with my niece and nephew who came and stayed with us for a day or so. Guitar Hero quickly became the most popular entertainment at our house. Particularly, when I gave it a go. It's SO fun and addictive!
I also had a chance to spend some time with my sister yesterday. Among other things, we ventured into Old Webster to check out Red Lead's new store location.
It really is a great space and the gals are so energized by their new home. I recently signed up to join their newest ATC Holiday Swap.

Excited to count myself as one of their Swap Sisters now.

And it's official-I'm going back to school. When I left my office job about a year ago and began working for the school district my hope was to complete my teaching certificate and work on my Masters degree. Well, beginninng August 25th I'll be doing just that as a graduate student at Fontbonne University! I'm very excited, but nervous about the magnitude of returning to the classroom as a student. I just keep thinking about another Mary Engelbreit quote,
"Why not go out on a limb. That's where all the fruit is " --Mark Twain.

So while there is always plenty to whine and complain about, I'm continuing to learn to roll with the punches and keep moving forward. And to be grateful for new opportunities and the blessings that each day affords.

Here's to life!

Monday, July 13, 2009

What I did on my Summer vacation...

Summer is quickly passing by and this morning I found myself wondering what I would have to show for it when school arrives in just 4 short weeks. My main goal for the summer was to give my house a good cleaning. You know, clean out cabinets and closets, wipe down baseboards, get rid of clutter, yada, yada, yada. It's taken me nearly two months off and on to go through the entire house and while I'm making headway, I'm still not finished. Hopefully, in the next week or so I'll be done with everything except my studio. Hopefully.

Aside from a couple of trips to the Lake, we haven't actually done much vacation-y stuff. But I still have hopes of squeezing in a trip to the Zoo, the Botanical Garden or Science Center and maybe another trip to the Lake or to Jeff's folks before the end of summer. We have taken in a couple of movies and rented several. I've also read several books-still hoping to get a couple more in before I have to start reading for work and school.

The next few weeks should be jam-packed if I add in some sewing and continue to work on my art journal. I've really neglected those goals while I focused on the house. Where does the time go? We still have doctor and dentist appointments to squeeze in, too. What was that they say about the lazy days of summer?

I'm so grateful to have had time off this summer. You can tell lots of things had gone neglected around here and it's a great feeling to be able to catch up on them. It's also been good for Brady to be home and just hang out. He's really gotten into drawing this summer-so happy about that.

Well in the midst of it all, I've run across a few things this summer I just LOVE and wanted to share them with you. If you have a summer favorite you'd like to share please do so by leaving me a comment. I love to hear from my readers!

Here are some of my favorites this summer:

  • A recent convert to Bare Minerals makeup, I love this primer for the summer months. It preps your skin for makeup by smoothing the surface of your skin and keeps it from becoming shiny throughout the day.

  • Love, love, love this drink mix I found at Marshalls. Add sparkling water to the mix and the included drink umbrella to a glass and you have a festive beverage that instantly tranports you to the islands. The Peach Mango lemonade was a big hit at the lake over 4th of July!

  • This lip gloss is another Bare Minerals product I really like. It has a plumper hence the name-Buxom Lips. It goes on sheer and is not gloppy at all. I think the names of the colors themselves are a hoot-I'm using Dolly right now, but there are others like Bambi, Amber, Sugar and Trixie.

  • If you've ever welcomed Mrs Meyers into your home you know you just love her! I've used this all-purpose cleaner to wipe down my baseboards and everything else this summer. It doesn't leave a residue and has a naturally clean scent. Along with inexpensive white washclothes it's been my favorite cleaning product by far! Target recently began carrying Mrs Meyers. mmmwaah!

  • I've made plenty of trips here this summer, but may make a few more because of their most recent promotion. If you purchase a beverage before 2pm you can return with your receipt after 2 pm to purchase any grande beverage for just $2. Love that!

  • My sister told me about this one. The flavor tastes like summer to me and they're Sugar-Free! You can find them in the checkout aisle at Target. ,)

  • I love my summer dishes. I spied these in a magazine and ordered them from CS Post & Co-they're by Moda Home and are melamine. The pitcher and glasses I found at Pier One on clearance over 4th of July. Can't wait to serve iced tea in them-or that yummy drink!

  • And finally, I have to send a shout out to two of my favorite bloggers. First, Becky Novacek, a photographer and scrapbooker whose blog has been a daily staple for me this summer. I love her weekly "b lists" and the fresh and honest way she shares herself, as well as, her gorgeous photographs and other creative pursuits. Check out Becky's blog HERE.

    Second Teresa McFayden, founder of the popular Silver Bella retreat and whose Paper Bella e-Zines have been a creative lifeline for me. At a mere $20 per subscription they are a GREAT value. You receive online access to 10-12 "lessons" or articles-many of which include custom downloads. Special guest artists are an added bonus and I love that I can work through the projects at my own pace using supplies I have on hand. If interested, you can subscribe to her most recent e-Zine, A Journal of Interest HERE and find her blog HERE.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. I'm off to check something else off my to do list!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Permission Granted

Giving myself permission to rest and relax today. Time to regroup and think. Lots to process over the past few days. Some of you may be aware that our beloved Grandma Alice passed away on Monday. We're back home after being with family for a few days so I'm unpacking and trying to get back in the swing of things. I also gave myself permission to play in my art journal.

Catching up on the first five lessons from the e-Zine, A Journal of Interest, I first chose to work on Wednesday's lesson, Blind Contour Sketching. I had never tried this technique before. It's alot of fun, but you have to commit to losing your inhibitions and abandon perfectionism. That's for sure! The idea is to sketch the object without looking at the paper. Naturally, I chose a bluebird which my Aunt Bonnie recently gifted to me. Probably a little too detailed a subject for this exercise, but I did it anyway. In our journals we are encouraged to use a variety of mediums as well as techniques. I used color pencil, charcoal pencil and pastels for shading and watercolor on this page spread. I'm anxious to get writing on it!

It feels really good to get back to something creative today. It soothes my soul.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Three Cheers for the Red, White & Blue

We had such an enjoyable time this long 4th of July weekend. Brady and I took off and went down to my folks's lake house on Thursday and as soon as we arrived Mom and I headed into town for a girls day. I had the most fabulous Monte Cristo sandwich at On the Rise, a restaurant in Osage Beach that Mom had wanted to try. I told Mom if I closed my eyes I could imagine eating it at a cafe in Paris-it was that good! I enjoyed spending time with her just wandering around. I did purchase a couple things, but mainly we just window shopped and hung out. It was a welcome change from cleaning and sorting that has occupied most of my summer thus far.

On Friday, my brother and his family arrived followed by my sister's on Saturday. We spent the weekend cooking and eating, playing games and visiting, fishing and riding in the paddleboat, reading and napping. The adult kids even got into a water fight. The biggest kid of all (Dad) got involved and managed to not get wet while soaking everyone else-how does he do that!?! We truly love spending time together and believe we are blessed to be able to do so.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. I didn't take as many as I like, but managed to get a few shots I loved. I hope you and your family enjoyed a long and relaxing weekend celebrating our country's independence-another incredible blessing!
(Click on the collage to see a larger version.)