Wednesday, March 28

Elegant and Easy Berry Torte

In a fluke wave of culinary inspiration I came up with an easy yet elegant dessert.

This is a fancy way to use a white cake mix.  The topping is made of cream cheese, sour cream and a little whipping cream--all sweetened with some powdered sugar and vanilla.
Topping with frozen (or fresh) berries and drizzling with chocolate gives this quick and easy desert that gourmet appearance.  This is one you can make ahead and freeze.
I'll be making 26 of these for a women's conference in a few weeks!  
Wish me luck!

Janene’s Elegant and Easy Berry Torte
1 white cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1/4 cup water

Bake cake as directed on package, in two 9 inch round cake pans that are greased and floured.
Cool cakes 20 minutes and turn out on rack to cool completely.  Place on serving plates.
Cream Topping
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Mix softened cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth.  Add in the sour cream and whipping cream.   Then beat mixture on high speed for several minutes until thick and peaks form.  Divide mixture in half placing one half on each of the layer cakes.  Cover just the tops and using a spatula “square up” the sides to form a 1/2”-3/4” high layer of cream topping.  Top with 2 cups frozen triple berries or fresh berries on each.  Melt 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips with 1 T. canola oil in microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir until liquid.  Drizzled on top of berries of each cake.  
Freeze cake until 30-60 min. before serving or refrigerate  the cake with just the cream topping and garnish with berries and chocolate just before serving.  
If berries are frozen let them thaw on cake for about 30 minutes before serving.  Cut each cake into 8 wedges. 
Makes two 9 inch round desserts.  Serves 16.

Tuesday, March 20

Nature Girl

I don't know how she does it.  This was the second day in a row that Lucy caught a butterfly with her bare hands.  No net needed.  This girl has such a knack for nature.

Bibs for Baby

 With my younger brother and his wife expecting their third any day, I put together some bibs to send them.  
I used a pattern (my first time using a pattern to make a bib) and I can see the appeal.  
They turned out really well  Imagine that!


I feel like I've been celebrating my birthday for a month.  Turning 33 has meant a very spoiled me.
Starting in L.A. last month with shopping and food galore.
Delightful packages from Germany and Hot Springs full of goodies.
A surprise GNO with some of my Hot Springs peeps.
Breakfast in bed, lovely Amazon Wish List fulfillment from Billy, and lots of homemade trinkets from my little ones. 
Family Sunday weenie-roast celebration.
An evening "off" in Little Rock where I celebrated my with some 
fabulous friends, which happened to be the only time I brought out my camera.
 Teriney, Maud and I shopped new fabric here.  I got some of this; which I've been waiting forever:
photo from
Then, we had some good eats at Big Orange.
Thai Steak Salad and Truffle Oil French Fries.
So delicious.
 Holly made it in time for the check.  Then, we headed over to my favorite stay-cation spot.
 After saying adios to T and M, Holly and I headed for book group.
 These ladies deserve a special post all their own.  I have been discussing literature, and pretty much everything else, with some of these dears for almost eight years.
I love my book group.
Love. Love. Love.
All in all, a very nice way to get one year older.  
I think I've partied enough to last until next year.

12 Squared: March Square

Kristin's pick for March.  She chose a Granny Square, which I think is very cool and challenging, in a good way.
 This pattern has inspired me to make a sampler of all the squares the bee is doing this year.  I'm really excited about it, almost more excited about doing a small sampler than my own block.

Thursday, March 15

Sunday Art Bag

At the risk of ruining a surprise for someone, I'm posting this art bag Lucy and I put together for an upcoming birthday.
Those purple lines that mark the sections for markers is SUPPOSE to be disappearing ink.  I'm hoping that wasn't false advertising and that they'll be disappearing before long.
We filled it with things perfect for a Sunday afternoon of arts and crafts.  I don't want to give away too many surprises, but there's Sharpies...
apt utensils in more ways than one for the recipient.
And, a custom wrapping job fashioned by my own little up-cycling eight-year old.

Now, just to get it in the mail!

Monday, March 12

Ruffle Leggings

Here's me, experimenting with more of that ruffle fabric I got in L.A.
This time... a pair of leggings, well more like tights, because they are somewhat transparent.
I used a pajama pants pattern, but took in the inseam by several inches.
I used fold-over elastic for the waistband.
I'm not quite sure if I LUV this stuff.  The fabric ran like pantyhose when I was working with it.  I don't see these lasting long... one trip or stumble and they're goners.

Also, they look kind of funny, hanging from a tree.  
Like the kind of pants the clown who rides the ginormous tricycle wears.
Maybe they will look cuter on.  
I'll try to remember to get pictures of Lucy wearing them, then we'll see if she's got circus potential or not.

Wednesday, March 7

Bridal Shower in Pink

For this shower I turned one end of my house into a pink cloud!

This sweet little bride's wedding plans have taken back seat to a seriously ill younger brother. The mother of the bride has spent most of her time the past 8 months nursing her sick boy. So my purpose for this shower, besides the usual reasons, was to help them take time out to celebrate this happy occasion in a special way. The mom said it was her first time to leave her house without her son. A well deserved break!

A banner and paper garland for a personal touch.

Cherry yogurt pretzels from Top Foods in Celeste's wonderful heart bowl, Taffy Skewers and Sweethearts all intended to convey how special you are!

I went to five stores to find pink tulips!

More food on its way.

This was a paper products free production!! Linen napkins rolled up with satin ribbon.

Friends brought individual fruit pizzas, lemon and fudge cupcakes, pink mint brownies, lemon bars, Mexican Caviar (recipe below) and chips.

On this side of the table you see broiled artichoke dip, dried cranberries and almonds, strawberry soufflé in the background. Not pictured that came later were mini quiches and spinach dip.
Strawberry Soufle didn't turn out exactly like Martha Stewart's but still delicious! I actually had trouble with her insufficient directions and the garnish- candied strawberry chips recipe- was a flop. But I was happy with my results and everyone loved it.

I wrapped a band of pink satin around this candle and accented with a string of pearls.
It was a wonderful evening of chatter and laughter and good wishes for a beautiful bride to be.

Mexican Caviar Recipe
(different from others I have seen on line)
1 can black eye peas drained
1 can white shoepeg corn drained
2 avocados chopped
1/3 cup green onions diced
2/3 cup cilantro chopped

2 tomatoes diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
Mix all ingredients. Make sure all items are thoroughly drained. Mix the dressing well before pouring it on the vegetables.If not serving right away, leave dressing off until 1 hour before serving. Save avocado pits and leave on top of caviar untilready to serve. (it keeps the avocados from getting brown)

Tuesday, March 6

Building with a Ton of Bricks

Henry had another birthday party last week.  We are so lucky to be in a place with lots of playmates for him.
We did our "usual".  An appliqued t-shirt.
Henry insisted on a Lego brick.
I tried to persuade him to go with a Lego guy's head, which is significantly more simple.
But, he persisted and I caved.  Here's my try at a 3-D looking block. 
Uh, yeah.

Let's hope he's moved on to a simpler-to-sew obsession by the next b-day in our lives.

Ruffle Skirt Magic

With this little Leap Year Baby turning one, we needed to do something extra special.

Teriney said a skirt would be welcome, so that's what she got.
 I used some of the ruffle fabric I bought in L.A. and fold over elastic that I got from Hancock's.
Don't mind the crooked waistband.  It took a couple of tries to figure out how I was going to attach it.
I hope it fits!
 Happy Birthday, Ruby!

Saturday, March 3

Baby Elephants Blanket

Another precious grand daughter is on her way! Due April 4.

With mama on modified bed rest, I have been helping with the toddlers at in the family and caring for my daughter in law. This has cut into my sewing time and as a result I was up past 2 a.m. finishing this quilt for the baby shower this morning!

The nursery colors will be pink and grey. I fell in love with these elephants when Becca and I were shopping in the fashion district in L.A. last month. D.S quilting fabrics make up most of the rest of it.

It is backed with white flannel and the batting is a thin cotton/soy blend. I am still new to quilting so don't look too close!!

Bridal Shower Favors

Real Sweethearts these two.

One of "my Laurel's" is getting married and I am throwing a shower for her this week. Natalie and Ben are so in love that I couldn't resist turning those discounted conversation hearts into a personalized favor for shower guests. Just scanned a photo from the wedding announcement and cut and paste! Pretty fun!
Do you think she will be surprised?