Thursday, March 29, 2012

How To Make A Paper Pinwheel

If you read yesterday's post about my mantel banner inspired by kites, you know that there are also pinwheels on the mantel  They are made from scrapbook paper and are so easy to make.  Pinwheels are another favorite from childhood, especially if they were shiny.  I saw a poster recently that said some girls are born with glitter in their veins.  That would be me!  My motto has always been if it sparkles, it's good.

I tried to find some information about pinwheels and no one seems to know who first made or manufactured them other than they were made in the 19th century.   It's rare not to find more information about something on the web these days.  What I did find though, was there is an organization called Pinwheels for Peace and that pinwheels are also the official symbol for combating child abuse - Pinwheels for Prevention.  That is something I did not know.  There was an article from today's date that said Greenville, SC, has created many pinwheel gardens around their town to remind people to be aware of child abuse and the harm it does and to help work towards its prevention.  This is Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Now, there are two great projects that are using pinwheels as their symbol!  Pinwheels for Peace recommends writing words of peace on your pinwheels and displaying them in yards and parks.  I am all for that!  Any and everything to remind us to think peace and help prevent child abuse by using the pinwheel as  a symbol is awesome.  They are so beautiful spinning in the wind.  Every time I see one now, I will think peaceful and loving thoughts and send prayers to those who have been affected by abuse in their young lives.  I am going to have to work on some pinwheels for out of doors.  I like the idea of Pinwheels for Peace and Pinwheels for Prevention very much.  You may see pinwheels sprouting in a yard, garden or park somewhere near you soon.  We will all look at them differently now.

The pinwheels on our mantel are merely decorative, they are not attached to a stick so they can spin.  They are so easy to make.  You could use construction paper, two sided scrapbook paper, or one sided decorative paper like I used.  How cute would they be for a baby or wedding shower?  You could attach them to colorful drinking straws which would be inexpensive and display them in vases, or make small ones and put them on toothpicks to decorate cupcakes.  They can be made in any size.  I had a major idea just now to use them for napkin rings by gluing small pinwheels to a colorful ponytail holder and wrapping it around napkins for the dinner table.  There are so many creative and colorful ways to use pinwheels.  Here is how you make one.

First, you need paper cut in a square - any size square, the principle will be the same for all sizes.  Mine are cut in 6 inch squares.  I had a piece of cardboard that size that came out of some kind of package, so I used it for my template.  I traced around it on the back side of the paper so it was easier to see the lines and cut out my squares.

Next, you fold the paper corner to opposite corner forming a triangle.   Crease the paper.
Now, open the paper up and fold the other two corners together so your paper will look like this.
See how you have 4 distinct triangles?  Now, cut each fold about half way to the center.  If you feel more comfortable, mark the exact same place on each fold line before you cut.  I just eyeballed it.
Now, turn you paper over, and start by folding the  point of a triangle to the center of the paper and hot glue the point in place.
Continue around the square, folding the same edge of the triangle all the way around (right or left), bringing it to the center and gluing it down.  DO NOT CREASE THE EDGE OF THE TRIANGLE, you want it to be rounded so it would catch the wind.
Now, how easy was that?  And talk about inexpensive!!  All you need now is  a center.  You could use buttons, brads, or beads.  I used my left over 5 mm pearls that I had used on another project.  I simply hot glued them to the center.  They look adorable.
These took only a few minutes to make and were just the added touch I wanted on the mantel.  I used paper I already had, so they didn't cost me anything extra.  There is a piece of green polka dot ribbon that I had put on the mantel for color, so I randomly placed the pinwheels and some easter eggs with the ribbon and that made the finishing touch for my mantel display.  It is so fun and festive and the grandsons will love it.  Here are a few more pictures.
Now, the mantel is done and I am thinking about making a couple of big pinwheels to use in the sun room.  They would be so springy and cute.  I might even made a wreath to put on the door.  Yes, I like that idea!

I hope this tutorial will inspire you to make some cute and inexpensive decorations for spring.  Perhaps  you have a wedding in your future, or need a Bible school project.  This is certainly an easy and inexpensive project since it's basically paper.  You might try using a glue stick instead of hot glue if you are going to let children make these.  Do not let children use a hot glue gun!   A push pin or pearl head straight pin placed through the center of the pinwheel would allow you to attach it to a pencil or small dowel rod.   Just place a small bead on the pin between the pinwheel and the stick so it will spin.  Wouldn't they make cute magnets?  Just glue one on the back of the paper pin wheel and place in on your fridge.  You could use a small picture of your child or grandchild in the center.  Adorable.

Now, I have a hundred ideas running through my head.  Hope you do too.  Let's get creative  Let me know any super cute ideas you come up with for these pinwheels.  Have fun!!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Pinwheel Symbolism

pinwheels come in all shapes, colors and sizes
Did you know that the symbolic meaning of a pinwheel is “to turn one’s luck around?”  Chinese culture believes the pinwheel is an instrument to turn obstacles into opportunities and as such they are a revered symbol during Chinese New Year festitivies.
Pinwheels are found world-wide all over the globe and basically have retained their simple, recognizable shape and function from culture to culture.  Their symbolism is really quite profound representing such diverse concepts as childhood innocence, unseen energy, wish fulfillment and transformation.  In many parts of the world, pinwheels have a deep spiritual significance as well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Banner Made With Kites

What are the things that take you back to your childhood in springtime?  For me, it's jump ropes, hula hoops, jacks, roller skates, marbles, bubbles, pin wheels and kites.  Remember playing on the playground at recess when you could bring your jump rope to school?  Everyone lined up waiting their turn to enter the rope being turned by two playmates, chanting all the rhymes.  "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.  Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground."  I have spent hours untold jumping rope.   I have probably roller skated around the world - twice.  Hours were spent mastering the hula hoop and all the tricks that could be done with it.  Those were the days when you spent every possible moment playing outside.  There were no video games, we made up our own games.  We didn't spend all our time in a car going from this team to that lesson to another team.  We played whiffle ball and kick the can in our back yards until dark.  We caught fireflies and headed home when we were called.  I have to say, those were some awesome days.

One of the things I loved to do most in the springtime on a nice windy day was to fly a kite.  When I was a child you could buy a paper kite for a dime and a ball of string for a dime.  That twenty cents could make for an entertaining day.  All you needed was a good brisk breeze which didn't cost anything.  There is something so amazing about watching a kite lift into the air with it's beautiful tail swaying in the wind, sailing above the ground tethered to the earth by only one thin line and you acting as the anchor.  Letting the string out so it could go higher, pulling it back in to keep it from spinning out of control.  Beware of kite eating trees!

A kite can be a simple diamond shape made from paper, two sticks, a tail and a string.  That's it.  And yet, that simple paper kite can soar with eagles.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to do that?  Soaring above the earth on a beautiful spring day, going where the wind would take you in the glorious sunshine, floating in the breeze, letting your mind drift - if only.  No, we are the one holding the string on the ground, but that is okay.  We can imagine the glory of sailing like that kite.

I wanted to make a spring banner for my mantle, so I bought four "fat quarters" in colors that I liked together.  When I sat down to make it, I realized I didn't want pennants, I wanted kites.  Nothing is more representational of spring to me than kites.  So I made a pattern and cut out kite shapes.  They are 6 inches long and 5 inches wide, cut in a diamond shape.  Then, I put ModPodge on the front and let it dry, then on the back and let it dry.  This gave it some body.
Now a diamond shaped kite has to have cross braces made of some kind of thin wood.  To represent that I used some silk cording I had bought for jewelry making.  I drew perpendicular lines with a pencil to make it easier to follow.  I used hot glue to place the cording.
As a crafter, I have all kinds of supplies on hand and I was very fortunate that this cording worked very well with my fabric.  I ran a bead of hot glue down the vertical line and placed a piece of cord on the glue and then did the same with the horizontal line.

Diamond shaped kites have a tail to keep them stable when flying.  The tail is string with fabric or rags tied on it.  I didn't want to use string because it would be too limp.  I wanted to be able to "shape" the kite and the tale, so I found some 20 gauge wire that I had from Lowe's.  Perfect.  I cut 12 inch pieces, one for each kite.
I used my needle nose pliers to twist the ends into curly cues like this.
I made two turns on each end.  That way I would be able to hang one end on the rope I used on the mantle and the other end would be long enough to make the tail.  I then ran a bead of hot glue down the back of the kite and hung the kite on the wire using the top curly cue.
To make the ties on the tail,  I used different colored ribbon that I already had and cut 1 inch pieces of it, 5 pieces for each tail.  I put a little dot of hot glue in the middle of each piece and pinched it together to make it look like a bow.  I held it until it dried and then hot glued each piece to the wire.  Love the way they look!

After I made 9 kites for the mantle, I placed them on a piece of lavender colored nylon rope that I had and hung the kites on it, spacing them out until I was happy with the look.  I hooked the end of the top curly cue through the rope so it wouldn't move, then bent the kites in different directions to make them look like they were flying in the wind.
Next, I cut 6 inch strips of the fabric used to make the kites and tied them on the line in a random pattern so they looked like the tail of a kite.
Oh, they make me so happy!  They say springtime and childhood memories and the joy of a perfect spring day.  If you look closely, you will see the paper pinwheels I made also.  We'll talk about those later!

Now, I want to go buy kites for all our grandsons and take them out to an open field and spend the splendor of a perfect spring day with them flying kites.   That would be quite a memory.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Imagination is the highest kite one can fly!  Lauren Bacall

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baked Cheese Cake Supreme And It's Worth The Effort

In yesterday's post I mentioned a cheesecake I made for our cookout on Sunday.  This is it and it is terrific - Jack said so.  He said it is one of the best he has ever eaten, so now you know how good it is.  And, it really is.

Have you been to a Cheesecake Factory?  Do you love to go to the Cheesecake Factory?  I mean, seriously, who doesn't?  Even though they have a ginormous menu of every kind of entree you can think of, everyone really goes there for cheesecake.  Duh.  You may not have a Cheesecake Factory in your town, or even be within several hours of one, but you can enjoy fantastic cheesecake.  Just try this recipe.

If you don't have a spring form pan, go get one because you will need it to make a cheesecake.  That is the only way you can really remove it from the pan in one piece without the crust and everything sticking to the pan.  While you are at it, get at least a 10 1/2 inch spring form pan, otherwise it won't hold all of this filling and you don't want to waste one drop of this filling!  Once you have a spring form pan, you will discover many uses for it, so don't think you won't ever use it.  You will.  It also helps to have a stand mixer because it takes a lot of mixing for this recipe - 30 minutes worth.  I happen to have my beautiful yellow Kitchen Aid which was a Mother's Day gift from my daughter.  It has changed my baking forever!  If you don't have one, ask for one as a gift, go buy one, or hope and pray someone gives you one.  You will see what a difference it makes.

This recipe is one of the creamiest, most delicious cheese cakes I have ever eaten.  The recipe comes from one of those composite cook books that organizations use as a fund raiser.  It is from the Temple Adath B'Nai Israel Sisterhood in Evansville, Indiana and is called Years of Tradition Continued.  I bought it in 1991.   It's a really awesome book because it explains many of their rituals, definitions of terms, blessings and holidays and I have learned a lot from it.  AND, it has the best cheese cake recipe ever in it which I plan to share with you.

Here is what you need:



3 cups graham cracker crumbs  (I use Rice Chex to make it gluten free)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter


5 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened  (you read that right)
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 cups diary sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
juice of one lemon (I leave this out)

For crust, mix together graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar and melted butter.  Press into bottom and up sides of 10 1/2 inch spring form pan.

For filling, in a large bowl at medium speed, beat together cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups sugar and eggs for 15 minutes.  (This is where the stand mixer comes in handy so your arms don't fall off)  Add sour cream, vanilla (and lemon juice if using).  Beat an additional 15 minutes.  Pour into prepared spring form pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  Turn off oven and let cheesecake remain in oven for 2 hours.  (Try not to open oven to peek).  Remove and cool on counter.  Serves 12 - huge servings!

After the cake cooled, I put a can of cherry pie filling on the top and decorated it with home made whipped cream.  (Instructions for making whipped cream are in the post about Strawberry Frozen Pie from yesterday).  You don't need any topping, or you can use blueberry, strawberry or anything you like.  Your choice.  When you are finished decorating, refrigerate.

Not only is this a  pretty dessert, it tastes FANTASTIC!!  Reminder:   if you are taking this dessert somewhere don't forget the bottom to your spring form pan is under the cake.  Do NOT let it get thrown away.  This is the voice of experience speaking.  

For those of you who have to eat gluten free, I make this cake so our son in love can eat it by using crushed Rice Chex in place of the graham cracker crumbs.  That's all you have to do.   Makes a great crust and you have a fabulous dessert that is gluten free!   Just thought I'd mention that.

Anytime you need a dessert or have to take something to a pot luck, give this recipe a try.  It takes a little time for the baking and cooling, so give yourself plenty of time.  It serves a lot of people and will get rave reviews!  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Strawberry Frozen Pie with Vanilla Wafer Nut Crumb Crust

Happy Monday to you!  Hope your weekend was a wonderful one.  Thankfully, it rained just enough on Saturday to wash away some of the pollen that has been plaguing me and half the population in Nashville.  I have never seen as much pollen as we have this year.  Guess that's the payback for a mild winter, but I am willing to make the trade off.   Yes, I am having allergy symptoms, but I will deal with those for the time being.  The warm beautiful weather and beautiful blooming trees are worth a few boxes of tissues.

Our first born daughter and her family moved here in December, right before Christmas, which thrilled us all!  Her in-loves made their first visit this past weekend and we all had a cook out Sunday evening.  The entire Nashville family was there.  The weather was stunning, the grandsons all got to play outside to their heart's content and we got to catch up with Alma and Jack.  I play board games with Alma on FB just about every night, but we haven't seen each other in person for many years.  You know how you can pick up with some people right where you left off - never skip a beat?  That's how it is with them, they are such wonderful people.    We had a great time catching up AND they asked us to visit their summer home on the Maine coast which would be awesome.  Perhaps we will get there one of these days.  We definitely look forward to their return visits to Nashville, that's for sure!

Daughter #1 asked if I would make dessert.  Me?  Why of course!  Thanks for asking.  You know how I love to bake.  Because it has been so warm, I was in the mood for something summery and super delicious so I decided to make this Strawberry Frozen Pie which is outta sight!  I have been making this pie since the first year we were married (1969).  The first time I made it was for Dan's grandmother when she came to our house for dinner.  She loved it and I have been making it ever since.  It is actually a combination of two different recipes.  The crust is from a similar recipe, but it has egg whites in it and I don't trust serving raw egg whites, so I always used the filling from one recipe and the fantastic nut crumb crust from the other.  Here is what you need to make this excellent frozen pie:



1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 stick melted butter


1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries, or 2 10 ounce pkgs frozen strawberries with syrup
1 cup sugar for fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar for frozen strawberries

Whipped cream or cool whip for topping (I made fresh whipped cream)

If you are making your own vanilla wafer crumbs (which I do), place about 1/3 box of vanilla wafers in a gallon sized zip lock bag, squeezing all the air out.  Roll with a rolling pin until you have small pieces - enough for 1 1/2 cups.  (I don't like the crumbs to be like dust, I like very small pieces, about the size of the chopped nuts).  I chop the pecans in my nut chopper.  If you don't have a nut chopper, use a knife and chop into small pieces.  Place vanilla wafer crumbs and nuts in a bowl.  Melt 1 stick of butter in microwave and add to vanilla wafer crumbs and nut pieces.  Press in the bottom and up the sides of a 10 inch pie pan.  I use my trusty corning ware pie plate that I got for a wedding gift.  I realize it is now an antique.  Sigh.  Put in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Cool before filling.

Using a mixer, blend cream cheese and sour cream  in a mixing bowl until well mixed.    Mix 1 1/2 cups sliced berries with 1 cup sugar and stir.  Add to cream cheese mixture.  (If using frozen berries, thaw berries and add 1/2 cup sugar and mix.  Add to cream cheese mixture.)  Blend with a mixer to break up strawberry pieces, don't completely pulverize.  You want some strawberry pieces in the filling.    Pour into crust.

 Freeze until firm.  I usually freeze overnight.  Remove from freezer about 5 minutes before serving and decorate with whipped cream.   That strawberry in the middle of the pie  in the picture is HUGE.  Kroger had giant California strawberries on sale and I do mean GIANT!  They were delicious.

How to make whipped cream:

Put 1 pint heavy whipping cream in a deep bowl and beat with mixer on medium high until it starts to thicken.  Add about 2 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Beat until it forms stiff peaks.  Don't over beat or  you will have butter.  It should look like this.
I piped the whipped cream onto the top of the pie by placing it in a gallon sized zip lock back after cutting a corner off the bag and placing a large star tip in the hole.  Fill the bag with cream and pipe on however you want.  Now, this is a lot of whipped cream and I actually used part of it for the cheese cake I will write about tomorrow.  Just thought I'd let you know.  You could actually use about 1/2 of a pint of heavy whipping cream.

Now, let's discuss this pie.  Description?  Heavenly!  Delicious!  Amazing!  Fantastic!  Awesome!  Divine!!  And, it's really super easy.  Our 8 year old grandson doesn't like strawberries much, but he said it was the best pie he had ever eaten!  Today's endorsement from the world's pickiest eater.  Made me smile.  Jack and Alma raved about it - especially Jack who likes fruit type desserts, so it was definitely a good choice.  (Wait till we get to the cheesecake).  

Put this recipe in your arsenal and pull it out when you want something quick, easy, fantastic and special.  Summer is just around the corner and this pie is so good for warm summer days.  Think about making it for Easter, Mother's Day or Father's Day.  You will get requests to make it again.  The nut crumb crust is maybe the best crust ever and so much easier than a traditional pie crust.  The filling - well I could just eat it with a spoon right out of the bowl - it's somewhat like ice cream or frozen yogurt only better.  The combination of the crust with the filling - they write novels about those kinds of things.  That's all I can say about it.  You will just have to make one and eat it to understand.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Good friends are like don't always see them, but you know they are always there.  author unknown

Friday, March 23, 2012

Not Your Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole - Sweet Potatoes, Pineapple, Coconut, and Pecans

Someday I may learn how to take a "food" picture that looks as good as the food tastes.  It would be so nice if there was a way to take a picture on your kitchen counter or table that looks like one from a magazine.  Unfortunately, it doesn't because I took this casserole right out of the oven ready to put on the table for dinner.  Do you know how hard it is to set up a shot in a hurry while people are waiting to eat?  It is not easy at all, especially when it is in a casserole dish or some sort of pan and you are looking down at it.  This one kind of looks like a pizza, but it's not.  It is a truly amazing sweet potato casserole with pineapple and coconut.  To that mix, I also add pecans.  Why?  Because I like them of course.

I then tried to take a picture of it served on a plate and I won't tell you what it looked like, so I nixed that picture.  Sorry.  The words dog and food come to mind.  It just did not look appetizing in any way so use your imagination and think about how wonderful it tastes because it does.

Do you like sweet potatoes?    We sure do, especially baked with some butter and a little cinnamon on them.  Yummmm.  Or, there is the standard sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top and it is really, really delicious I am not denying.  It's the one every mom made for Christmas and Easter when we were growing up.  But, there are more casseroles and recipes out there, and this is one of my favorites.  It is out of my Saint Louis Days, Saint Louis Nights Cookbook and I have been making it for years.

Do you know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?  You know how some people call them yams?  I looked it up (of course) and it seems that they are two totally different plants botanically.  Yams come from Africa - sweet potatoes are grown here.  There are two varieties of sweet potatoes and one remains hard when cooked and the other is soft.  The canned ones in the grocery that say yams are actually the soft variety of sweet potatoes.  The soft sweet potatoes were called yams by African slaves because it reminded them of the ones they knew and that is how we came to call them yams.  Now, does that clear that mystery up?  Did for me.

Sweet potatoes are very nutritious!  Here is some information I found on the web that might actually shock you.  I knew they were nutritious, but not THAT nutritious.  Check it out.

According to nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the single most important dietary change for most people, including children, would be to replace fatty foods with foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes.

CSPI ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables. With a score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than 100 points. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food.
    Sweet potato baked 184  next highest vegetable
    Potato, baked 83
Now, are you shocked?  It is the MOST nutritious vegetable that you can eat.  The next vegetable to it is a plain potato.  Who knew?  Now we all know and that is amazing because they are versatile, delicious and nutritious.  Yay for the sweet potato!  At least it's not something like Brussel's sprouts and only a select few of us seem to like those.  

We were having company for dinner last night and I decided to bake a ham.  There is something about spring that says it's time to eat ham.  Maybe it's because so many people serve ham for Easter, I really don't know.  So, I needed some sides and when I bake ham, I think sweet potatoes - they just seem to go with ham.  That meant pulling out one of my favorite recipes - sweet potato souffle with pineapple and coconut.  Don't panic, it's not like a traditional souffle.  Not really sure why it's called that, maybe because of the eggs in it.  I will tell you this, it is fantastic and easy.  Here is what you need.

8 medium sweet potatoes (or 2 32 oz cans, drained)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup  brown sugar
2 well beaten eggs
2 tsps baking powder
1 cup drained, crushed pineapple
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Wash sweet potatoes and bake, covered with foil at 400 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes until fork completely penetrates potato.

Cool, peel and put potatoes in a large mixing bowl.  Mash potatoes until smooth.  Stir in butter and both sugars.  Add the eggs and baking powder, pineapple, and salt.  Mix well.  Transfer ingredients into well-greased 2 quart casserole.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cover with coconut and pecans.  Bake an additional 10 minutes.

(Because yesterday was volunteer day for us, I used canned yams drained.  They worked fine.  I do think fresh sweet potatoes are a little better, just depends on how much time you have.)

Ooooooooooooh my, this is good.  Our daughter said it's like eating dessert for dinner and it is.  Even her 2 year old gobbled it down.  Now that is an endorsement!  

This is an excellent side dish to serve when you are looking for something different and it makes a lot - great for a crowd.  Also, keep in mind just how nutritious sweet potatoes are (just don't tell your children).   Let's all eat more sweet potatoes.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Sweet potatoes are not just for holiday meals!  Enjoy them anytime.  They are good for you and taste good too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A New Twist On A Golden Oldie - Tuna Casserole With NO Soup In It

Wednesday is usually our volunteer day, but today we did volunteer duty of a different nature.  It was Grandma and Pawpaw to the rescue.  Our daughter had to chaperone a field trip for her 8 year old son's class, the 5 year old was at pre-K and that left the 18 month old home alone if we didn't show up.  Now, we could not let that happen (haha), so we got up bright and early (and I do mean early) because we had to trek across town and be at their house by 8 am.  Yikes, I have forgotten how much I dislike getting up at 6 am.  Yay for retirement.

After she returned home from the field trip, we spent a little time conversing and went to pick up the 5 year old from pre-K.  Well, you know Grandma and Pawpaw wanted to have lunch with everyone who wasn't in school, so we enjoyed a fun little lunch out and then made a trip to a fabulous place a friend had told me about that has outstanding home decor bargains and you know how I love a bargain.  We will definitely be going back there again!

We returned to their house and got in our car to head back to the east side of Nashville where we live.  On our way home, we made our usual Wednesday afternoon stop at our other daughter's house to visit with her and her two sons.  The baby is 5 weeks old today.  Wow, time flies.  We spent some time playing with the 2 year old and Grandma held the baby for a good while, and then it was time to head to the little yellow cottage.  Whew, Grandma was tired.

Of course, now it's time for dinner and what are we going to have?  I wanted something different and easy.  There was a tuna casserole I had pinned on my Pinterest board that I had been wanting to try so today was the day.  I had all the ingredients, so tuna casserole it was.  But, let me tell you, this is NOT the tuna casserole I was used to eating when we were growing up.  Everybody's mom had a variation on a recipe and somehow the casserole was always topped with crushed potato chips and made with canned soup.  Now, I have to say I always liked tuna casserole where most of my friends didn't.  But, I like tuna - tuna salad, tuna casserole, creamed tuna, however anyone fixed it.

This recipe is from a blog called Mmm is for Mommy and I thought it sounded really good and there is not one can of soup in it.  Yay!  I did a little tweaking of my own and Dan declared this equivalent to fine dining.  Yahoo, a keeper recipe to add to the repertoire.

I figured out the cost and I will tell you that this makes 4 huge servings, or you could serve smaller portions with sides and it cost less than $6.00 to make.  Now that is a bargain for a delicious meal - and we have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Even better!

There are no potato chips in this casserole, but there is bacon.  Yum.  Her recipe calls for sliced mushrooms and we are not big fans, so I added green peas which we love.  If you like peas and mushrooms, hey add both.  It won't hurt the taste in the least.  I also added some worcestershire and fresh thyme which was a super addition and I topped it with sliced tomatoes.  Trader Joe's had Roma tomatoes for 17 cents each this week and they were big, so I invested in a few and I am so glad I did.  She also added 4 ounces of cream cheese, which I left out.  The sauce was very creamy and I didn't want the extra fat.  Feel free to add it if you want.  Now, here is what you need for this recipe.


1/2 pound rotini pasta, uncooked (I used tri-color)
4 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled (reserve 2 TBSP fat)
1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP reserved bacon fat
1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp worcestershire
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
(1 cup sliced mushrooms)see explanation above
1 cup green peas - if you want to use mushrooms and green peas, use 1/2 cup of each
2 5 ounce cans Tuna in water, drained
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
2 TBSP grated parmesan
1 sliced tomato
1/2 8 ounce block cream cheese (I left this out)
several sprigs fresh thyme, strip leaves from stem (or you can use dried)
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to directions and drain.

In a dutch oven, fry the bacon until crisp, remove bacon and drain.  Add olive oil to bacon drippings.  Saute onions, garlic, celery and mushrooms if you are using them in the bacon fat and olive oil.  Cook until softened.  Stir in dijon mustard and sprinkle with flour.  Cook for a minute or so to get rid of raw flour taste.  Whisk in chicken stock and milk.  Continue to stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens.  Add salt and black pepper to taste and add the thyme.  Add the drained tuna and half the crumbled bacon.  Add drained pasta and mix until all the pasta is coated with sauce.  Top with grated parmesan cheese and remaining crumbled bacon.  I then put a circle of tomatoes on top of the casserole and a little more parmesan cheese.  It looked like this in the dutch oven.
Put the dutch oven (uncovered) in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve.  Fantastic!  You have protein, pasta, veggies, creamy sauce and so much flavor for under $6.00.  Now, who can complain about that AND it is not like the tuna casserole you have experienced in the past.  It is fresh and delicious.

I have to say I am ever so thankful to the creators of Pinterest.  They are geniuses who have changed our lives forever!  I could read a dozen cookbooks a week and never find a recipe I wanted to try. I find several recipes a day on Pinterest.   I have found that most of the things from Pinterest are really good, just beware of mistakes in the recipes.  I have found several - especially making baked goods.  That is where cooking experience comes in handy. Sometimes, I look at a recipe and know it's not going to work, something has been left out or a measurement may not be right and I can fix it.  Other than that, Pinterest rocks!  Thanks Mmm is for Mommy or this inspiration.  Hope you all give it a try.   As Dan said, it's the equivalent to fine dining on a budget!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken of the Sea.'
Jessica Simpson

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Peeps - This One's For You Susan B.

Peeps.  You know what they are right?  -  those little chicks and bunnies that are made from marshmallow and covered in colored sugar.   You find them on the store shelves close to Easter.  Do you love 'em or hate 'em?  Is anyone indifferent to peeps?  It doesn't seem anyone is indifferent.   If you start a conversation about them,  it seems you either love them or you really really dislike them.  I am a disliker, a major disliker of Peeps as far as eating them goes, but there is something endearing about them and the great colors they come in.  You immediately think spring and Easter and sunshine and lollipops and roses and any other other uplifting subject they have written songs about.  But, do I ever think about eating them?  NEVER!

This post is dedicated to my friend Susan B. and our friends from the Due North Productions family.  We were a group of parents who worked together in the theatre and choir department at the high school our youngest son attended several years back.  Susan was the choir director and we did anything and everything we could to help out.  We had a lot of fun conversations about Peeps and I learned a lot about all the ways to enjoy Peeps (if you can).  Some people like them when they get hard and crusty on the outside and some like them when they are soft and gooey.  Someone said they liked to microwave them before eating.   I, on the other hand, do not like them at all in any state of existence.  Ugh.  I even asked "the Easter Bunny" to please not put them or any jelly beans in my Easter basket when I was a kid.  I am shivering as I type this, just thinking about eating them.  Ewwwww

This crazy idea started with a bag of little marshmallow flowers I found at the Dollar Tree.  They were so cute, I thought I could make something with them.  But, they were so small I knew I needed something bigger to help fill in. Then, I had this crazy idea about making a colorful centerpiece for our table after looking at a large display of Peeps at Kroger.  They come in such fun colors and there are not only chicks, but bunnies.   Hmmmm, ideas began to formulate.

My creative process works a little contrary to the accepted norm on many occasions.  I sort of work backwards sometimes, but it works for me.  (That's a nice way of saying I start with no plan).  I had these two little green baskets that are about 6 inches square, they sort of look like berry baskets and my thought was one of them would make a good container for a centerpiece.  They also look really nice with the place mats I painted.  So, there was my base.  I put a piece of styrofoam in it and filled in around it with some paper shred I had.  Next, I skewered some bunnies to start the "shape" of the centerpiece.  I used wooden skewers like you would make kebabs with.  I swear I did not harm a single bunny or chick in the process.
That's the way it started.  Now, that looked a little plain and there was the issue of the skewers which I knew I would NOT like when I finished.  Lots of plain wood sticks showing.  Not good.  So, I had another idea and got out a bunch of colorful mini cupcake papers I had in bright colors.  I slid some up the skewer under one of the marshmallow flowers and I really liked the way it looked.
They looked like flower petals and added lots more color to the whole skewer/marshmallow effect and they would help fill in the centerpiece.  I was on a roll.  I started putting Peeps (the chicks and bunnies) on skewers and varying the colors of cupcake papers for a garden variety look. I trimmed the skewers to different lengths as needed.   I also stacked some of the marshmallow flowers on top of each other in twos and threes for another variation.  I kept working around the basket until I had it all filled in.  It's a hoot!  No, I guess actually it's a Peep.  Anyway, it looks adorable in the center of the table.

You know, there is all kinds of research I found on the web about Peeps and what will dissolve them.  It seems there is very little that will dissolve them, not even acetone.  There are even pictures of different chemicals they have placed them in and the results of the tests.  Do I want to eat these?  No way.  But,  they get hard and crusty if you let them set out so I figure this thing would survive a nuclear holocaust.  There will be nothing left but cockroaches and peeps.  Can't you see some archeologist digging this centerpiece up some day and wondering what in the world it is and what precious materials it is made from?   Now that makes me laugh.

I had to keep our two oldest grandsons from eating any of the centerpiece this weekend.  That had not entered my mind when I made it, so I had to give them the left over Peeps from the boxes.  Guess I know what to put in their Easter baskets because they loved them.  Ugh.

My friends Don, Rick and Marge were here on Friday and they all took pictures of my crazy Peep centerpiece.  Don called it a Peep tree and they thought it was the cutest thing ever.  You just never know when you start a project where it will go.  As for this one, it looks adorable in the center of the table, just don't make me eat any of it.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

An annual "Peep Off" competition is held in Maryland on the first Saturday after Easter, when Peeps are greatly discounted, to see who can eat the most in 30 minutes. The first such event was arranged by Shawn Sparks in 1994, and had only six participants.[6] Dave Smith startedSacramento's record-holding (102 eaten) annual Peep Off after contacting Jack Eidsness, a participant in the first Peep Off, with a question about it, through Mr. Eidsness' Peep-themed website.  Wikipedia

Now, how about that for an eating contest? 102 Peeps?   Oh Em Geeee

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pancetta, Peas, Orecchiette Pasta and Cream Sauce! Perfect For A Busy Monday

Oh look, it's Monday - again.  Monday, Monday, can't trust that day --  why oh why is Monday such a chore?  Somehow, it just can be and I have been a busy bee today.  I do hope you all had a fantastic weekend, we sure did.  The weather is amazing right now, more like summer than spring.  It was 80 today here in Nashville.  The blooming trees are stunning and the grass is growing like crazy.  Dan had to mow our yard for the second time already.  And, today was grocery shopping day which is lots of fun when I get to go to Trader Joe's even though we have to drive to the other side of town!  You may not think of grocery shopping as fun, but I rather enjoy finding new products that I want to try, especially when I have a specific recipe in mind and today I did.

Since it was so warm today, I didn't want anything heavy for dinner.  I wanted something light and refreshing and summer like.  There is a Jamie Oliver recipe I have been wanting to try that I had pinned on Pinterest.  There is another very similar one from Huffington post that I had also pinned.  So, I kind of combined the two and let me tell you, it is so delicious.  We will definitely be having this again and again.  And, the most important point thing, it is really quick and easy to put together which makes it a natural for Monday (or any day really).

The Jamie Oliver recipe uses mini shell pasta and bacon and the Huffington post recipe used orecchiette pasta which is kind of cup or bell shaped.  When I was at Trader Joe's today, they had orecchiette so I went with it and I am so glad I did.  It is a really nice chewy pasta that held the sauce beautifully.

Trader Joe's also had cubed pancetta in 4 ounce packages which was just perfect for this recipe.  Otherwise, you have to cut bacon into lardons for the Jamie Oliver recipe and the pancetta had just the right flavor for this creamy sauce, not too smoky like bacon can be.  It's just a matter of which you have on hand.  And, it has green peas which is one of our favorite veggies.  Yum.  So, you have pasta, pancetta, green peas and one of the tastiest cream sauces I have ever eaten.

This recipe only took about 20 minutes to put together which makes it a fantastic Monday recipe.  It also makes a large pan full and that means leftovers for lunches or another dinner for us.  Yay!  It says it serves 4, but those would be huge servings.  You may not have as much left as we had.  We enjoyed the pasta with a simple green salad and crusty bread and it was just right as Goldilocks would say.  Here is what you need to make this recipe:


1 pound shaped pasta - mini shells or orecchiette
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Butter
1 4 ounce package cubed pancetta or 10 slices bacon cut into lardons
2 cups frozen green peas
2 heaping TBSP sour cream
1 small bunch fresh mint, stems removed and minced (I don't care for mint, so I used fresh thyme)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
fresh cracked black pepper

Cook the pasta according to directions.  I made the sauce while the pasta cooked.  This is how you make it.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan.  Add the pancetta (or bacon) and cook until crispy and brown, about 5 minutes.  I added a lot of fresh cracked black pepper while the pancetta cooked.  Add the frozen peas to the pan and cook just a bit until they start to thaw, then add the sour cream and herbs.  Stir until everything is coated.  (I added 2 ladles of starchy pasta water to the sauce before I drained the pasta).  Drain the pasta and return it to the pan.  Add the sauce to the pasta, squeeze the lemon juice over the pasta and stir to coat all the pasta.  Add the parmesan cheese and stir again to coat all the pasta, stirring until all the cheese is melted and creamy.  That's it - done!  Ready to serve.  Look at how this fabulous creamy sauce coats the pasta.  Yummm.
When you have had a really busy or tough day and need something quick and easy to put on the table, this is your dish!  It is inexpensive and super D-licious.  This is also a meal that kids would love - pasta, peas, bacon, creamy sauce!!!  Jamie Oliver said he makes this for his children all the time.    Give this recipe a try.  It is perfect for warm weather!  I am already looking forward to left overs tomorrow.  That makes Tuesday an easy day for me.  Wahoo!

Everyday Donna

Things to remember:

 A bee is never as busy as it seems; it's just that it can't buzz any slower.
Kin Hubbard

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shrimp A la Creole or Shrimp Creole

We do love our spicy food and Shrimp Creole (originally known as Shrimp A La Creole) is one of our long time favorites.  I started making this recipe when we were first married 42 years ago.  The recipe I use is from the Betty Crocker cookbook I received as a wedding shower gift.  I have made a few tweaks to it over the years, but it is oh so delicious and easy to make.

I did a little research on Shrimp Creole and this is what I found.  Creole cooking is a combination of French, Italian, African and Spanish cooking originating from the Louisiana Territory even before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  Creole cooking is the original food influence in New Orleans.

Shrimp creole is a dish of Louisiana Creole origin (FrenchAfrican and Spanish Heritage), consisting of cooked shrimp in a mixture of whole or diced tomatoes, onion, celery and bell pepper, spiced with hot sauce, and served over steamed or boiled white rice.  Wikipedia

Even though Wikipedia doesn't mention the Italian cooking influence, other information said the use of tomatoes in their cooking  comes from the large Italian migration that occurred in that area.  Makes sense.    Whoever is responsible, I salute you!  

Before you start cooking your Shrimp Creole, make about 6 servings of white rice and let it cook while you make your sauce.   The rice will stay warm in a covered pan if it finishes a little before the creole sauce.

Here is what you need:

1 large onion, diced
4 ribs celery sliced
1 large green pepper diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 to 2 Tbsps olive oil
1 to 1.5 pounds shrimp shelled, deveined and tails removed (frozen works fine)
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup medium or hot taco sauce (or you can use Tobasco by adding it in drops until you reach the "heat" you want.  Dan thinks Tobasco has too much vinegar for his taste, so I use the taco sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste  (I never add salt as there is enough in the tomatoes and seasonings in the sauce, but I do add black pepper)

I make my sauce in an electric skillet because the temperature is easier to control.  Place temp on 325 and add olive oil to pan.  When hot, add onions and saute until translucent.  Add celery and green peppers and saute.   Don't overcook.  I like them still somewhat crisp.  Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, and worcestershire sauce.  Cook for 20/25 minutes until sauce starts to thicken.  Add hot sauce.  Add shrimp and cook just until pink, only takes a couple of minutes.  If you are using frozen shrimp, throw them in still frozen and they will cook just fine.  Turn heat off.   This is how it looks in the pan.  OH SO GOOD!

To serve, place white rice in the middle of a plate and spoon the creole sauce over the rice like in the picture above.  Let me say, it's fantastic.  When I am in a "spicy" mood, this is my go to dish.  Most people think Mexican for spicy, but this is a fabulous change up from Tex-Mex.  Yummmmmmy.

We have a green salad and warm crusty bread with our Shrimp Creole and my, oh my, what a delicious dinner.  Next time you are having company and you want something different, easy, and delicious, give this recipe a try.  If you have left overs, and this is my favorite part, put the rice in a large tupperware bowl, cover with sauce and you have the most delicious left overs ever.  It reheats great in a microwave oven.  I just place the amount we each want in individual serving bowls, cover with a paper towel and heat.  Just as good the second time around!  Mmmm Mmmmm Mmmmm  Time to think Creole.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin. Mark Twain 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Is In The Air

This has been one crazy week.  I am not sure it can all be explained, but TGIF is all I have to say.  Whew, glad this one is over.  It's been a lot of little things to deal with, you know how those weeks go.  But, I did get to create some fun new things as I worked on getting spring decorations put up a little at a time.

Today was a particularly awesome day as my friends Don, Rick and Marge came down to visit.  I LOVE visitors.  They motored down so that I could take them to the store that sells Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Don and Rick want to paint their dining room furniture and Don had called me to ask what I thought he should do.  My immediate answer was the amazing ASCP and yes, it was worth a 2.5 hour drive to come down here and get everything they needed.  We also got to eat Thai food at the Smiling Elephant AND have Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream.  Now, if you ever head to Nashville, you must have Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream - it's a must!  It was named one of the top 10 ice creams in America.  We got to talk and laugh and had a spectacular day.  I was sad when they left, but they will be back soon (because they are going to want to paint everything in their house)!

While we were out doing errands this week, I made a quick stop in Tuesday Mornings to see if they had something I was looking for.  Do you do Tuesday Mornings?  Great place for all kinds of wonderful household items at greatly reduced prices.  I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find this wonderful piece that, as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to use for my spring vignette.   I always make a seasonal vignette on top of a cabinet in our entryway and this was the perfect thing!  This was an awesome piece because it was totally different from anything I have used in the past and it reminded me of a church window or arbor of some kind.   It is almost 4 feet tall and was only $6.00.  You know the drill, just my price range!  So I bought it and brought it home to live with us.  This is how it looked.
It is sort of like willow ( not really sure exactly what material it is) and I loved it, except I didn't want it to be dark brown (of course).  I gave it a light spray with some white spray paint I had and now it looks like this.
Much better.  I had an idea of what I wanted to do with it so I went to work.  First, I decorated a small grapevine wreath I had with some spring flowers.  I used 1 branch of cherry blossoms, a pick that had some berries and a small pink hydrangea on it, and a small lavender bush.  When I finished it looked like this.
It is so simple and sweet with just the right touch of spring.   I was so pleased with the finished product.  I attached it to the lattice by putting a couple of chenille stems through the back of the grapevine wreath and twisting them around the lattice.
Now, I wanted a banner or something with a poem or saying about spring.  I searched and searched for just the right thing.  I found a prayer from the Ute Tribe of Native Americans which really resonated with me.  Ute means land of the sun and the state of Utah is named for their tribe.  I took one line from the prayer and used it.  I had a piece of upholstery fabric that was a loose weave in a cream color.  I cut a square of it and decided I would stamp the saying on it with my wooden stamp set.
I used lavender acrylic paint instead of ink so that it would give me the look that I wanted.  I made the letters uneven so it looked more hand made.  Then, I stenciled a pink butterfly in the corner.  I raveled the edges of the fabric just a little for a more hand made touch.
I tied the fabric to the lattice by placing some lavender yarn in each corner of the fabric and tied it in a small bow.  When I put the "church window" on the cabinet, I was very happy with the way it looked and the prayer is so lovely and touching, that I keep reading it over and over.   But, it needed something around the base to make it look more finished.

I used a large ceramic rabbit and a small ceramic bird which are both representational of spring and rebirth and the newness of life.  I used another small lavender bush I had to fill in around the rabbit and tie all the colors together.   Then I ran a lime green ribbon across the top of the cabinet to represent grass and the vibrant color of springtime.  I have to say, I am very happy with the look.  It is different from anything that I have used before and it is just perfect for this time of year.  We will be able to enjoy this until it's time to decorate for summer.

It's a happy ending to a crazy week and doing creative things helps keep me centered.  I keep going to look at this vignette because it is peaceful and calming.  Peaceful and calming is something we all need more of.  I hope you have a great weekend, and do something for yourself to make your life more peaceful and calming.  You deserve it.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember

Earth, Teach Me

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

- An Ute Prayer

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How To Transform a $1.00 Place Mat

In my next life, I want to be a visual artist, a painter, a Van Gogh, Chagall or Monet.  That is my wish.  Hear that Universe?  I'm putting in my order now.  Van Gogh's Starry Night is my all time favorite painting.  The colors and representation of the night sky humble me and make me so want to be able to do that.  To make someone else look at what I painted, to see and feel moved in a place and way they can't really describe.  But, it is not my gift.  Yes, I can do simple things.  I mean, I have watched my share of Bob Ross and I can make happy little clouds and streams with the best of them and perhaps that should be enough, but it's not.  

It's sort of like writing.  My daughter is an amazing writer.  She can put words together in a way that breaks my heart and makes me laugh all at the same time.  Me, I can write this blog and hope that my recipes and directions for crafts make sense to anyone who reads it.  But, I am no "writer".  I have read hundreds and hundreds of books. devoured them, enjoyed them, lived many other lives through the words I have read and traveled the world, but I could not write a book if I tried.  Do you know what I am saying?  It is frustrating to me.  I try to paint, I try to write, but my skills are rudimentary at best.

Does it stop me?  No.  I keep plugging away and hope that one day true inspiration will strike and that "painting" will come to me or that hidden book/story will formulate in my mind and will leap out onto pages.  Until then, it's craft time 101.   

Last week I bought these really pretty place mats at, where else, Dollar Tree.  My table sits 6, so I bought 6 place mats for a grand total of $6.00 plus tax.  The tag said they were 100% paper which was interesting, but I loved the way they looked and they would be great for a springy looking table setting.
Of course, I knew that I would doctor them up somehow, just didn't know exactly how at the time.

I brought them home and looked at them for a week.  No inspiration would come.  I looked at them every time I went into my craft room, better known as the extra bedroom.  Hmmmmm, what to do, what to do?  Saturday, I determined it was going to be a craft-a-thon since I hadn't spent a whole day at home  all week.  It was cool, rainy and a perfect craft day - no place to go, nothing else to do.  (I hate having to stop mid project.)  I finished the mirror I wrote about yesterday and was so pleased with that project that I got out some of my acrylic paints, a few brushes, covered the table to protect it, determined to finish the place mats.  This is what I came up with (see picture above), and they look adorable on the table!! 

These plain green place mats had a texture somewhat like jute or burlap.  The tag said they were 100% paper.  Interesting.  They did not lend themselves to lots of shading and detail.  My idea was to paint spring flowers on them.  Have you ever tried to paint a daisy and get it even?  Somehow, they always get out of shape.  Here's a trick.  Use the bottom of a 12 ounce soda bottle.  Paint the ridges on the bottom and stamp it on whatever you are painting.
Now, stamp.
See the pink spots it leaves?  All I did was load a square shader brush and pull the paint toward the center to make my daisy and they are all perfectly even.  I LOVE when that happens!  Now, I wanted some dandelions - you know, the kind kids like to blow when they have gone to seed.  White, airy dandelions, but I couldn't paint all the little details so I basically made a white ball.  How?  I found a small bottle in my spice cabinet that was the right size and painted the edge of the bottle white and stamped circles on the place mat.

Perfect circles.  Yes!  Easy peasey.  


Next, I took a small stencil brush and loaded it with white paint and filled in the circle.  Bob Ross would be so proud.  Happy little dandelions.

Now, everything needed stems.  I chose a blue color called Tahiti Blue and mixed it with a little green and painted stems and leaves and grass across the bottom of the mat.  I chose blue so that it would show up on the bright green mat.  Nice.  Now, it needed filler and I wanted more pink and white so I made little flowers in clusters all over the grass using the end of one of my paint brushes.  You just simply makes dots wherever you want them.  I did white first and then filled in with pink.
Voila!  I painted yellow in the centers of the daisies, sprayed it with clear acrylic spray and I was done.  One down, five more to go.  I simply followed the same pattern and procedures and now have 6 matching hand painted place mats.  It was very restorative to my creative soul.  It's not Van Gogh or Monet - Grandma Moses might be a closer description.  Anyway, I LOVE them on our table.  They are bright and springy and just what I wanted.  

When I get the centerpiece and napkins made, I will show you pictures of the whole effect.  Always look at things with "other possibilities" in mind.  Nothing is just one thing.  The possibilities are endless.  Try your hand at painting on anything.  You may discover a new talent you didn't know you possessed.  I'm still plugging.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

‘Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.   
Carlos Casteneda