Saturday, February 13, 2016

The BEST Valentine Day Sugar Cookies {with pink icing--oh, yes!}

Since Valentine's Day is a handy excuse for me, the sugar lover, to eat pink & red sweet things, I gathered all the ingredients for sugar cookies from the pantry and put Reina and her friend to work this afternoon, fully taking advantage of having two teenage gals in the house. Turns out the gals were quite impressive, making sugar cookies from scratch from a recipe I found on Pinterest at that we modified just a tad. In fact, I hardly supervised while they went to work like busy bees making homemade icing as well as red & pink sprinkles with food coloring. Even more impressive, their sugar cookie batch resulted in 3 varieties of V-day delights: red & pink sprinkle cookies, pink icing cookies, and thumbprint cookies with strawberry preserves. The recipe was so easy and yummy that we'll be using this all year for more holidays and celebrations to come. Ah, a taste of heaven!!!

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies 
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 3/4 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking power

Icing Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp. half & half 
1 drop of pink food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside. 
3. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together until smooth. 
4. Add egg and vanilla. Then blend in dry ingredients. 
5. Roll dough in 1 inch balls. If desired, roll in sprinkles and squish slightly flat. 
7. For thumbprint preserves, use a spoon to press down and form a crater. Then insert 1 teaspoon of preserves.
6. Bake 10 minutes. 

To make icing, cream butter, beat in sugar, add half & half, and 1 drop of pink food coloring. Stir well. Heat for 20 seconds in microwave to spread more easily on cooled cookies. 

Spread the Love this V-day {with homemade ceramics & papercraft cards}

Every V-day since Reina was a toddler, I've kept up a tradition of making homemade Valentines and crafts. Guess you could say it's my way of spreading the love because V-day just wouldn't be complete for me without paper crafting, so I made a few Valentines for my sweeties using recycled greeting cards, scrapbook supplies, and my new favorite letter stamps. 

Gee, who do you think this is for? 

This year, my crafty gal coworker friends and I also tried out something different for V-day . . . our own Color-Me-Mine home style version at our fellow friend's house since she used to teach ceramics and owns a kiln. Yep, I'd say we know how to unwind after the 9-5 grind with our 
Ceramic colors galore all labeled
& organized by my talented friend!
So excited to begin our new Bible
study on "Love" 
ceramics, a potluck including a little wine, and a kickoff of our "Love" Bible study. Since we made our initial attempt at painting ceramics on a damp, rainy day the first time, our pieces didn't turn out so well. But Mom loved hers anyway, I might add. Smack in the middle of a heat wave this week, we took advantage of the dry weather to re-do our pieces (stayed tuned for how it turned out). Just spreading the love this Valentine's Day one craft at a time!!!

Let's not forget what the crafty gals did last year for more inspiration and ideas this year.

Click on the links below to check out 
how to make a papercraft heart wreath  and
how to make a wooden LOVE sign.

Happy crafting and a Happy Valentine's Day!

Linking to: Pink Saturday

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Vintage Adventure {re: the thrill of thrifting!}

Can't wait to wear my
 authentic '70s smock

I'm not a shopaholic by any means, but I do get a thrill from thrifting and my favorite place at the moment is downtown Claremont, where artsy vintage stores abound. Recently, I stopped at a lovely place where I found an authentic 1970's corduroy daisy smock that I cannot wait to wear paired with skinny jeans when the weather cools down as we are currently having a heat wave out here in SoCal. (I'm loving it, by the way).

That'll be $1
Yes, that's right--$3

But first! V-day is right around the corner. By all means, even single ladies deserve to feel good and get dressed up for the occasion. That means RED, so it's time to get out my gingham purse and ruby red slippers found at Goodwill. Hey, it pays to look good 'cuz you never know who you might run into right around the corner!

My free tank (see pic to right)
paired with a turquoise
cord jacket--perfect
for the beach. 
Not bad for FREE!!!

Speaking of adventure, when you are thrift-minded, the deals will find you. In fact, I went on a quick walk in my neighborhood the other weekend late in the afternoon only to turn down a street and stumble upon a blanket on someone's driveway piled with nice clothing that the owners were giving away for free. No doubt, post-garage sale leftovers. I scored the cutest dressy tank, which pairs perfectly with my turquoise corduroy jacket. Nope, I didn't meet Prince Charming around the corner this time, but I did get lucky from another thrifting adventure.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

3 Simple Ways to BE Present {TODAY}

One of the most awe-inspiring qualities to me about God is how present-tense He is, totally taking advantage of each moment. We get our first glimpse of this in Exodus as God responds to Moses with “I AM” when the people ask what they should call him. Fast forward to Jesus’ last day on earth. Even while hanging on the cross, Jesus is fully present as he tells the repentant criminal hanging next to Him: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ~Luke 23:43

But sometimes it’s not so easy for us to live each day to its fullest when we long for better times from our past or get worked up and anxious about our future. Thankfully, our Savior came to be an example for us to follow, and He can help us focus on making the most of the present moment. With His help, we can choose to make the most out of today. 

  1. When we wake up, we can greet the new day with joy by claiming, "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." ~Psalm 118:24
  2. Throughout the day, we can be mindful of making the most of the present by praying Ephesians 5:15-16, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity. . . " 
  3. Finally, when our thoughts fly away into the future, we can bring them back with this verse that helps us to refocus on what we need to accomplish today, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~Matthew 6:34  

Linking to: Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart

Thrifty Chick {and Daughter!} 2016 Challange

My $6 red sweater dress, thank ya very much!

As y’all know from my last post, my 16 year-old is now responsible for buying her own clothing. Did I mention that said clothing purchases will made with her own money? Yes, to catch you up to speed, I’ve established a new deal with Reina as of the first of this year to help her become more independent, make her own choices, and prepare her for adulthood by advancing her allowance up to three months ahead of time with the caveat that she is responsible for budgeting that money to include all of her entertainment and clothing costs.

Let’s rewind just a tad. When my lovely teenager received NO new clothing for Christmas and she tried numerous times to guilt me back into buying clothes for her (all attempts which failed since I am standing firm, fellow mommies), reality finally sank in and she begged me to take her thrift store shopping. Luckily, we know of a few gold mine Goodwill stores close by, so off we went.One tiny 20 minute trip to Goodwill proved she is a daughter after my own heart (not to mention her grandmother’s heart as my thrift store & garage sailing Mom taught me very well, I might add). In the changing room as she tried on a brand new “Honey” windbreaker, Reina googled it to discover—lo and behold—she held a treasure worth $60 in her hands. Hers for a mere $5. I told her none of the kids at high school have to know she bought it at a thrift store, although I personally like to brag about my killer deals and could care less what people think.

$60 Honey windbreaker hers for only $5 

Of course, I found a few things for myself on our little jaunt. A brand new beige Banana Republic cowl neck sweater for $7 and a red sweater dress for $6—perfect for Valentine’s Day. In addition, Reina added to the windbreaker purchase a gray turtle neck and a dark green grandpa sweater that received a lot of complements the next day at school.

That'll be $7 and, by the way,
found the brown suede boots
while thrifting a few years ago. 

So here we are toe deep into another year, which means unforeseen days filled with opportunities to thrift and vintage our way towards all those fantastical frugal finds that await. Are you in? Take the 2016 thrifty chick challenge this year (with your teenage daughters, too!) and opt to buy clothing at vintage, consignment, thrift stores, and garage sales as much as possible. Not only will you reuse and recycle, you’ll reduce your own clothing costs and like Reina, stick to your budget (let’s cross our fingers). Three cheers to Thrifty Chicks 2016!!!

oh, forgot to mention . . . Reina found these new blue suede
shoes for her Cosplay outfit. Yep, $6! 
Click your heels together and let the 2016 deals come find ya.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Reality 101: The Best Way to Prepare Older Teenagers {for LIFE}

Yep, Reina made miso soup from scratch. 

There comes a time in a single mom’s life when Mom becomes very, very tired. Exasperated is a better word. This time is common during the teenage years when Mom has morphed into a taxi driver, therapist, tutor, shopping consultant, short order cook, and financial adviser. Not to mention, Mom is single so there is no one to step in and take over. She looks around at her life and can no longer find herself in it, so Mom begins to complain to her friends. Her 16 ½ year-old is getting more expensive, you see. But what is truly baffling to Mom is why her teenager lacks motivation to drive or start looking for a job like she herself did at that age. Gee, could it be that Mom is making the nest a bit too comfortable?

Luckily, a fairy godmother in the form of Mom’s Friend presents a magical idea: Reality 101 (the best way to prepare older teenagers for LIFE). The main premise of this crash course is teaching older teenagers about R & R. No, we are NOT talking rest and relaxation here, but rather responsibilities and realities, something teenagers truly lack these days and this mom can speak from experience since I work with college kids.

Here’s how Reality 101 works and how you can best prepare your teenager for life:
  1. Decide on a list of chores your teenager is responsible for doing around the home, if he or she is not doing chores already. For example, my daughter does her own laundry, cleans her room and her bathroom/guest bathroom, puts away the dishes every night, makes her lunch, helps change the kitty litter, helps with yard work, takes out the trash, dusts the furniture, shreds documents, and gives me a hand when asked. 
  2. Give your teenager a monthly allowance, to begin with, for completing those assigned chores. You can advance the allowance to up to three months once your teenager becomes better at budgeting. With this sum of money, your teenager must learn to cover ALL of his or her entertainment and clothing expenses. Trust me, the costs of reality will sink in quickly once you are no longer shelling out money for every social activity or new outfit at Forever 21. 
  3. Have your teenager find a recipe, prepare the ingredients, and cook one meal a week. He or she can tell you what to buy for the meal, or you can go grocery shopping together. You can require that your teenager includes a balance of protein, veggie, and starch if you like. Remember to praise your kid's effort at the dinner table! You'll be pleased that your teenager is building a repertoire of recipes to choose from (rather than defaulting to the only known foods--ramen or pizza) in the future. 
Now that this is all said is done, I am so tickled to report that since I've begun implementing Reality 101 with my daughter as of the first of the year, the biggest surprise is to see how much Reina loves cooking a meal of her choice each week. Folks, she's really getting into it! Last week, after we we bought a few ingredients at the nearby Asian market, she made miso soup from scratch. It was the best miso soup I've ever had, and I'm not just saying that cuz my kid made it. Lucky for you, I've included the recipe here as a bonus. Even better, it only takes about 25 minutes total.    

Homemade Miso Ramen Soup

8 oz dried ramen noodles 
YuMMy! We topped off the soup with some cooked shrimp for protein.
What a treat , . . it tastes so much better when someone else cooks. Hehehe.

1/2 cup fresh or canned corn kernels, drained
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
1/2 package of fresh mushrooms, chopped
8 cups vegetable broth 
2 teaspoons instant dashi granules 
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 tablespoons fresh miso paste
2-3 cups fresh bean sprouts
2 stalks green onions, finely chopped 


  1. Pour broth into a big pot and stir in dashi, soy sauce, and vegetables (except bean sprouts). 
  2. Cook ramen noodles separately and add to soup. 
  3. Bring all ingredients to a bowl and simmer on low for 5 minutes. 
  4. Remove from heat, add miso, and stir in green onions.
  5. Ladle into bowls and top with bean sprouts. (We also added cooked shrimp for protein), 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Make it Happen in 2016 {with a bucket list!!!}

Ever since I sat mesmerized, at age 4, watching Dorothy transport out of Oz in a hot air balloon, I’ve wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride myself. Yet, here I am several decades later and still have not ventured on this experience. In fact, “going on a hot air balloon ride” was an item on my Grandmama’s bucket list that she never crossed off before she died, and it makes me sad she did not realize this dream. So . . . 2016 is the year I resolve to do it, not only for Grandmama but for me, too!!! 

The truth is, January bores me and that's why I'm turning to my goals and dreams for motivation. The sky is gloomy and, therefore, I slip into my winter blues. Not to mention, I have no money due to the holiday bills. Even my home seems to limp along, devoid of the lively and colorful Christmas decorations now tucked away in the garage for another year. It’s true that the merrymaking can’t go on forever, but January dips me down into the rut of routine again. Creating a BUCKET LIST for the new year is a positive solution for adding some spice and variety back into your existencehelping you focus on doing those things that are truly importantand even prodding you to face your fears.

So let’s get started with a few simple steps!!!
  1. Grab a moment for yourself this weekend to dream and jot down your bucket wish list. Don’t judge yourself or hold back because this is your time to unleash your dreams.
  2. From that list, whittle down the 10 most important items you’d really like to experience in 2016.
  3. Use color markers, stickers, and highlighters to make your list come alive.
  4. Place your bucket list somewhere you can see it regularly, but perhaps a private place like the side of your closet, on your desk, or the back of a medicine cabinet so you can burn those items into your subconscious.
  5. Take your list one step further by making a collage with pictures cut from magazines to represent the items on your list and transform them into a vision.  
Now, the burning question . . . 
What's on your bucket list for 2016? 

Isn't this the cutest? My bucket list tin was a Christmas gift
from a friend and a great reminder to make those dreams and goals come alive. 


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