Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Have you heard about Postcrossing?  If not, you are in for a treat.  I love Postcrossing!  I have been a member of this site/ project for a little over two years now and I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to cheer someone up through mail.

Postcrossing:  It's a project that allows anyone to receive postcards (real ones, not electronic) from random places in the world. (Info. from the Postcrossing site)

I love getting to my mail box, looking inside and finding a postcard from some far off place.  I have literally received cards from all over the world (Finland, Taiwan, China, Japan, Qatar, Czech Republic, Poland, The United States, etc.)!  It is amazing!

I really like that you get monthly updates about where you have sent postcards, where you have received them from and how many you have sent over the course of a month.

This is so pretty to me and kind of amazing that all of this information is held in one tiny space.

There is a postcards wall, that you can upload photos of all of the postcards you have received and others can post photos of postcards that they have received.

On this page you can mark your favorites and so may others!

If you love sending and receiving mail, please check this out!  It is amazing and I don't know if I have shown that very well here.  Happy Postcrossing!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beauty and the Beast Three Ways

Me and my mom are finishing up our third season with the Pantages Theater is Los Angeles... at the corner of Hollywood and Vine.  There have been some really great shows!  To name a few:  Fiddler on the Roof, Mama Mia, The Color Purple, In the Heights, Riverdance, Young Frankenstein, RENT, The Lion King, and West Side Story.  There were also some bad ones, like Grease, Dirty Dancing, CATS, and Legally Blonde.  But, all in all I have enjoyed my time with the Pantages.

I will miss riding the metro in to LA... seeing all of the wild people and getting slightly freaked out by random people that come up to me and say awkward things.  Ok, so I will just miss riding the metro.  I know that I will probably go to a few shows next season, but overall it is seeming like a not so dynamite list of shows.  Billy Elliot and Wicked (which I have seen before) will be my two choice shows.

Anyway, we are finishing up the current season... just 2 more shows, Burn the Floor and Shrek the Musical.

On Friday night, my mom and I got to see Beauty and the Beast.  To be completely honest this is one of my favorite Disney movies and I was a little nervous about what the show would bring and undoubtedly leave out.  As it turns out I was happy to see the show.  I believe that they cast the characters extremely well and each person did a great job perfecting their role.

I would have to say that my favorite character in this show was Gaston.  I don't enjoy him so much in the movie, but the actor had fun with the role and it really showed.  I recommend that you see this show if it comes near you.

Disney: Beauty and the Beast, the Musical

The musical was the first way that I saw Beauty and the Beast this weekend.  The second way was through a movie... a modern take on the story.  My best friends mom and little  (She's almost 17) sister were up.  I told Amanda that I would take her to see a movie and oddly enough she chose to see 'Beastly'.  I had not seen any previews for the movie, but  I had my suspicions that it was a re-make of a timeless Disney classic.

Being that I am no longer a teenager and I have never experienced love, I find that I may be slightly jaded when it comes to campy love stories.  I believe in love, I know it is out there... that it can happen, but I would prefer to experience it than watch it on the silver screen.  Is this wrong of me?

Anyway, it was a cute movie and Amanda really liked it.  It was right up her alley.  Here is the poster for the movie:

Because I had been submerged in a Beauty and Beast weekend without really knowing it beforehand, I decided that I would watch the Disney cartoon version as well.  I love this movie!

Disney's Beauty and the Beast...  Disney

I love this movie not only for the great songs and the humor, but because it shows us that it is important to think of others instead of ourselves.  I think the latter is the most important and it is also something that perhaps is the hardest to accomplish at times.  What do you think?

Go catch some of Beauty and the Beast yourself...  it'll be fun!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Book in Review: 'The Glass Castle'

I made a trip to Colorado for the first time, back in January.  Shortly before heading to the airport, I realized that I had not packed a book!  What a shock!  I always travel with a book or two... or three.  So, I stopped at a Target and was pointed in the direction of 'The Glass Castle' by my friend.  I had wanted to purchase it before, but never really thought that I would like it.  I usually do not do well with real life stories, they get on my nerves.

After some coaxing, I picked it up.  I read about half of it throughout the trip and I really enjoyed that bit, but then coming back to work and grading assignments, etc.  I was unable to finish it... until last night.  What a crazy life these people lived.  I cannot believe what the children in the book went through and how the parents acted.  I am even more surprised that 3 of the 4 children turned out to lead productive lives.

I definitely recommend this book.  The writing is smooth and keeps you moving through the content.  I did not find my self bored even once.  Check it out and hopefully you will enjoy the read as much as I did.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Family Dinner

Last week, my grandma was in the hospital for a serious heart condition that we did not know she had.  She needed to stay in the hospital for 3 nights and 4 days.  It was a scary time.  I do realize that she will be 81 in May, but I have always been around her and even though she can sometimes grate on my nerves, I would be dreadfully sad without her.

That's what made this family dinner so much better... knowing that she is still around to tell me when to turn into the parking lot, even though I live in the same town she does.  For her to tell me how to get to the grocery store, for her to ask me 9 times in 2 minutes what my plans are for the night... etc.  I know these things annoy me at times now, but I will be sad when they no longer occur.

Tonight we had family dinner to celebrate life and I made a cake for dessert.  No, it is not from my Bon Appetit Dessert Cookbook.  However, it is a Paula Deen recipe.  I have been watching the food network non-stop these days and boy am I glad that I have!  I came across this 'Pink Lemonade' cake recipe.

By: Paula Deen


1  (18- 1/4 ounce) box white cake mix

1  teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2  teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Tablespoons sweetened pink lemonade drink powder


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1  pound confectioner's sugar

5  Tablespoons frozen pink lemonade concentrate

1  teaspoon vanilla

1  teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper or waxed paper.
Prepare the cake batter according to the package directions. To the batter, stir in the lemon zest, vanilla, and pink lemonade powder. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Carefully turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting by beating together the confectioners' sugar and remaining 1 cup butter until fluffy. Beat in the remaining frosting ingredients until combined.
Transfer one cake to a cake stand or large platter. Using an offset spatula, spread the top of the cake with a layer of frosting. Place the second cake on top of the first. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of both layers.

Everyone enjoyed the cake and we will continue to enjoy it over the next few days.  Please try this fast and easy cake!  Oh, and Happy Spring!  Don't forget to celebrate life everyday because you never know when it is going to cease.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Fading Art...

There is something about opening your mailbox and finding a letter inside... hand written at that.  I have always enjoyed receiving mail and I absolutely love sending it out to friends and family.  It saddens me that this is something that we are allowing to fade from our lives.  Yes, I do enjoy new technology, but I believe letter writing is one thing we truly need to hang on to.

Because of this belief I was super glad to have discovered Minted.  Minted is an amazing site that sells stationery (flat, folded), address labels that are unlike any I have ever seen, lovely and quirky wedding invitations and a whole bunch of other amazing things!

Please check them out and be just as amazed as I am.  Minted.

These photos are from Minted.

Spring is Springing

Spring is Springing all around me.  The weather is warming up here in Southern California, which I am not always a huge fan of... I love Winter!  But, you can't beat those first blooms, especially when they are on your nectarine tree.

I walked outside yesterday to get some water from the garage and there in all of its glory was my grandparents nectarine tree.  I was taken aback for a moment, because I had never seen it in bloom before and I was curious as to when my grandparents planted a flowering tree.  However, I was quickly struck with understanding and I was completely blown away.  What a beautiful tree!  The blooms are perfect and in such a lovely hue of pink.

I love nature!  It is always surprising me and it definitely cheers me up daily!

Spring crept into my kitchen with these cupcakes.  I tried out the cupcake poppers that I posted the other day.  I had a hard time with them... I am thinking it is due to the use of super moist white cake mix.  I'll have to try them again.  I was beginning to become aggravated when the mini cup cakes were crumbling before my eyes.  Finally I gained some sense and just frosted the mini cupcakes and added some sprinkles.  I used the left over cupcake poppers to make rainbow cake balls.  All turned out well.

Finally, I was in the middle of Spring today.  I went on a hike with my friend Rebecca and her two children.  It was nice to be outside and feel the sun on my skin.  In my opinion there is no better way to get that vitamin D than walking in wide open spaces!  And let me tell you the hills were definitely alive with the sound of music!

May Spring be on its way to you as well!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

'Two Left Feet' Quilt Top

A weekend or so ago, I sat down and quilted the entire top to the 'Two Left Feet' quilt that I am giving as a wedding gift.  I just have to sew the top to the batting and the back piece.  I am going to make a special label for the quilt and I am going to hand tie it together, instead of quilting it.  I think this will give it a link to the past... since it is a very modern quilt.

No matter how hard I try... no matter how many times I measure before I cut... my. pieces. rarely. match. up!  Nothing is new with this quilt.  Zach will definitely be getting an authentic Tiffiny quilt.  Ha ha.

Here are some views of the quilt top.  I'll post more photos when I am completely finished.

I suppose I might be the only one that truly notices how much the pieces don't match up, so I am thinking I will not mention this fact to anyone.  All in all I am pretty happy with how the top has turned out.  I think it will make a great gift for a newly married couple.

Monday, March 7, 2011

News Flash! It's Dessert time!

I've been wanting to get a few dessert cookbooks for a while now, but did not want to pay full price for them.  Well, I really lucked out because the Borders by my best friends house is closing and they are having a close out sale.  Wahoo!!  I went straight to the cookbook section and picked up Bon Appetit: Desserts.

Photo by: Nigel Cox

It has 631 pages of sweet greatness!  I am tempted to make this the first cookbook that I cook my way through.  It will be a hefty thing to take on, but I think it will all be worth it.  Not only did I get this on sale, I also got a full years subscription to Bon Appetit magazine with my purchase!  Too Cool!

I also picked up Baked: Explorations.  I will be in NYC in April for a friends wedding and I plan on stopping by Baked.  It is a bakery and their sweets look superb.  

I am excited to try these recipes out as well and I kind of want their first cookbook, just called:  Baked.  What are some of the cookbooks you have recently purchased?  Tell me all about them!

Mmmmm.......  Get Baking!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cupcake Poppers

I just found these on Betty Crocker and they are really awesome!  I cannot wait to make them.  Check them  out yourself.  Cupcake Poppers.

They are shouting Spring and Summer fun to me.  You can make them in any color scheme you would like.  I think they would be great for kids parties or for a fun grown up get together.

The following is all from Bettycrocker.com:

Get playful with your food and watch as simple cupcakes take on a little color and turn into super-fun Cupcake Poppers. Start with Betty Crocker cake mix and liven it up with bright colors and fluffy frosting.

box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix

Water, vegetable oil and egg whites called for on cake mix box

teaspoon each gel or liquid food colors (neon pink, neon purple, neon orange, neon green, classic blue)
1 1/2
cups marshmallow creme

cup butter, softened

1 1/4
cups powdered sugar

Gel or liquid food colors (neon pink, neon purple, neon orange, neon green, classic blue)

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 60 mini muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box. Divide batter among 5 small bowls, about 3/4 cup each. Make 5 different colors of batter by adding 1/4 teaspoon food color to each bowl; blend well.
  2. Fill each muffin cup with 1 level measuring tablespoon batter, making 12 cupcakes of each color.
  3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.
  4. In large bowl, beat marshmallow creme and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Beat in powdered sugar until fluffy. Divide frosting among 5 small bowls, about 1/3 cup each. Using the same 5 food colors, lightly tint frosting in each bowl to match the cupcake colors.
  5. Assemble each popper using 2 mini cupcakes. Cut tops off each cupcake horizontally (save bottoms for another use). Spread or pipe about 1 tablespoon frosting on cut side of 1 cupcake top. Form a sandwich by placing cut side of second cupcake top on frosting; press lightly. Repeat with remaining cupcake tops. Store loosely covered.
Makes 30 cupcake popper sandwiches

Have fun with these!  I know I will!

Out with the Old and in with the New!

Have you heard of Nalgene bottles?

I. Love. Them.

I got my first Nalgene bottle in high school, circa 2000. It was green and it was from a camp I went to every summer and was a babysitter for.  My second Nalgene bottle, I got when I worked at a camp for summers while in college.

Well, in light of all of this BPA information coming forth, I just got rid of both bottles.  This was very hard for me because these have traveled with me to other countries, they have gone on vacation with me, they have kept me hydrated while camping... etc.

I am sad no longer!  I got on the Nalgene bottle website the other day and am now awaiting 3 new bottles... that are BPA free!!  The more I read about BPA the more I wonder why it was ever used, with possible ties to cancer and birth defects and an assortment of other ailments.

Here is a quick look at the bottles I purchased.

This is the same size as my green Nalgene from high school, but this one glows in the dark!

This narrow mouth bottle is the same exact color and size as my bottle from college!

This was super cute and on sale!

This fits inside your wide mouth bottles, so you don't spill on yourself, which I do often.

Nalgene has options for every person and every lifestyle.  There are options for kids as well.  The great thing about Nalgene is that they last forever and they are really inexspensve.  Oh, and they are made right here in the USA!  Please check them out here: Nalgene

I cannot wait for my new bottles to get here!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fudge Shortbread Cookies

 I got this recipe off of Tasty Kitchen  (By: EatLiveRun).  I tell you, that is a great place to find any type of recipe!!  If you want an easy cookie, this is it!  Also, I am absolutely sure that you will love everything from EatLiveRun...  She is amazing!  Check her blog out now!

2      sticks butter, softened

1/2  cup sugar

1- 3/4  cups all-purpose flour

1/4  teaspoon salt

2      teaspoons vanilla

1      cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cream together the softened butter and sugar either using a mixer or a wooden spoon. Add the flour, salt and vanilla and mix until a soft dough comes together.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for thirty minutes.

After chilling, roll dough into a log and gently slice 1/2-inch cookies. Place cookies on a lined cookie tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges start to brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

To make the chocolate, pour the semisweet chips into a glass bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until creamy and smooth, mixing well after each interval. Scoop warm melted chocolate into a small plastic bag and cut the tip off the bag. Drizzle the chocolate over each cookie and let cool to harden.  

(I made fun designs with the chocolate, you should too!)

My Precious Nephew!

Last week the school I teach at had a week off.  I was thankful for this, for many reasons.  One being that it was just good to have a little break.  Two, I got to see my nephew!  The last time I saw him, he was only 3 weeks old and oh so tiny.  He'll be 7 months today.  The other reason is that I got to visit with one of my best friends.  We have been friends since the 2nd grade!  Crazy right?

Here is my nephew Caleb, isn't he cute?

Tamara and I rode bikes all weekend long!  She lives in Oceanside, so it is the thing to do.  We also took time to ride some swings at the beach.  It was a long time since I last rode on a swing!  Quite fun, really. We also took a walk out on the rock jetty.

If you cannot tell, it was a bit windy out there, ha ha.  What a great view though!  If you can make it to the beach any time soon, I suggest that you do.  It is always so peaceful out there.