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Every day should start with Banana Muffins

Every day should start out with these muffins.  They are my husband’s favorite and I thought I’d share this recipe with you so you can enjoy them too.  Bon appetit!

4 soft bananas

1/2 cup white sugar

1 slightly beaten egg

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 1x dozen muffin tins (I spray them with canola oil from Trader Joes). In a food processor mash bananas, add sugar, egg, and butter.  In a side bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt – slowly add this to the banana mixture.  Using a scoop or large spoon, fill each muffin tin 1/2 full with mixture, sprinkle chocolate chips and cover with another scoop of mixture.  Once all the tins are full, sprinkle brown sugar over the top.  Bake for 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes – in case your oven runs hot).  Let muffins sit about 5 minutes before you serve.  :0)

Eye Candy

I took some pictures last weekend while cruising down Universal City Walk.  It had been a long time since I’d been there and when we arrived it was relatively empty, which meant  I wasn’t distracted by the people and was instead able to focus on the environment. It’s really cool there!  It reminds me (on a much smaller scale) of  that first feeling you get when you reach Las Vegas and see all the over-scaled structures, bright colors, fantastical shapes and images, etc…  In no way am I saying this is Vegas, but it is a very fun place to get some serious structural and color inspiration in.

When I was studying Design at UC Davis, I had an amazing professor by the name of Dolph Gotelli.  I absolutely LOVED this teacher.  His lectures and courses taught me to see the world in ways I’d never imagined, most notably on the need to immerse yourself in art.  At the time I was learning how to create art as an environment and I remember for one of his courses he showed us his photos of his journey across America capturing the images of sculptural advertising (you know, that big ‘Bob’s Big Boy’ guy on top of the restaurant roof, or the large donut, or coffee steaming, or slice of pizza over the little hole in the wall road-side shop).  When I walked down the street in Universal City Walk I had a flashback to Professor Gotelli’s lecture.  It was fun to fully immerse myself in that environment – with all the color, size, and energy!

my way-cool coffee table

I am NOT a gifted tile artist.  I can paint and draw just about anything, but tiling isn’t my forte. However, a few years ago I got a bee in my bonnet to make a collaged tile project.  When a friend of mine was going to throw out a very cool butler’s coffee table, I grabbed it from the trash and brought it home with the intent of creating something out of it.  It had a perfect tray top and it was just the right size for our family room.

For years I had been collecting my favorite tiles, and pieces of things that I knew I wanted to tile, and they were screaming to be made into something of prominence for our home.  I set out one weekend and started the project and about four weeks later I finally finished our tiled coffee table. This piece of furniture, with all its cracks and many, MANY flaws, is definitely one of my favorite treasures in my house. It is a terrific conversation starter for people who come to visit for the first time. Four of the tiles are the hand and foot prints of my boys when they were babies, along with two hand painted tiles they made when they were about 5 and 2.  There’s a tile my husband and I got on our honeymoon on Catalina Island, and I included pieces of a broken china plate my dog knocked over the first week we had him.There’s a hot wheels car that looks like the “Mach 5”, and a toy YF-22 fighter plane that my boys were obsessed with one year.  I also have baby spoons given to the boys by our friends, a few random buttons, shells from our first family trip to Hawaii, and beads from a bracelet I made for Davis.  The table is bumpy, poorly grouted, and utterly impractical, but I love it and every time I look at it ~ I smile.  :0)

Gotta love Birthdays!

This past weekend we celebrated my youngest son, Cole’s, 12th b-day!  It’s hard to believe that he’s getting so old. We had a marvelous time at Universal Studios.  I think the last time I was there I was 12 years old.  I had a lot of flashback moments as we went on the studio tour, though it’s for the most part totally changed now.  “Jaws” still makes an appearance and the “Psycho House” will never stop being very creepy.  The new King Kong 3D experience was super cool, and I was excited to see the neighborhood of Wisteria Lane from “Desperate Housewives”.  My son is a huge “Simpsons” fan, so that particular ride was a must do for him, and it really didn’t disappoint, however, I felt pretty whoozy afterwards and passed on the second run at that ride.   All in all it was a fabulous day spent with a FABULOUS kid!  I have a TON of inspiration photos that I’ll share in a later post.  Right now it’s all about my baby’s b-day.  :0)Oh, that other strapping young man is my older son, Davis.  My husband, who thinks I never say anything about him, was taking the picture.  He’s strappingly handsome too.  :0)

A Great Escape

Today I needed to get away.  I needed an escape, and I needed it BAD!  For the past year I’ve been very busy working on building my business: creating new art, redesigning two websites, starting a blog, and writing and preparing art lessons for my teaching job. Combine that with my regular life “stuff”, most important of which is being a Mom, and it can leave me feeling a little stressed out at times.

SO … this morning I decided to take a much needed break.  Since it was a holiday, and my sons were home from school, and for the first time in months neither of them needed to be at a sports practice, we decided to drive to our favorite beach for the day.   Yes, you heard me right, the beach.  Two weeks ago it snowed here and now we are in the 90’s! Only in Southern California!

Carpinteria is my sanctuary… my place that I go when I need to detox and unwind from life.  Today was a SUPERB day in Carpinteria.  We started our day off with lunch at “The Spot”, the world’s best beach food, and then took a walk along the shore, collecting shells and really cool looking rocks.  We made our way to the tide pools.  We saw so many beautiful things, but the image that stands out the most for me was the sea grass at the pools!   The color was amazing and the light was just right when I took my photo  (I’m seeing a photoshop brush from this picture).

I feel ready to get back to work now.  It’s amazing how a simple day away can be the best cure of all for stress.

Here are some pics  ~    :0)

Favorite Things ~

We all have things around us during the day that bring us comfort and peace.  Many of those things are simple, little, and inconsequential in the big picture, but HUGE in our hearts.  My coffee mugs are that for me.  In my bio I make mention of them, and I’ve had people inquire as to what they look like … so here they are.  I received them for Mother’s Day a few years back and they were made by my boys.  I alternate using them each day and I truly don’t know what I’d do if either of them were to break.  Today is the pink mug’s day and I just poured myself a cup.  Time to get to work!

I wish you a great day, and when you have a spare moment take a look around your house or office and see what special little thing you have that you want to honor today.  :0)

* Stay tuned for more “Favorite Things”

Epiphany -vs- Resolutions

epiphany – 1: January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi to Jesus in Bethlehem; 2: a sudden striking understanding of something

My friend, Antionette, and her family have a wonderful tradition of celebrating the day of Epiphany.   Every Jan. 6 they welcome friends and family into their home to share a meal and to make a wish for the New Year by taking a branch from their Christmas tree and placing it into the fireplace and letting the wish rise up to the Heavens in the smoke.

A number of years ago my family and I were invited to this event for the first time.  I always wondered about the history behind it, but never asked because Antionette’s family is a melting pot of culture and I figured it was a tradition that had its roots in one of the many countries she has affiliations with: her father is Portuguese, her Mother is English, she was born in Hong Kong and grew up in California, her husband is from Italy, and her Mother in Law is English.

This past Thursday was the big day and I finally learned a little bit more about the story behind my friend’s celebration.  First, there is no ‘official’ or ‘cultural’ tradition of burning a branch of your Christmas tree while making a New Years wish. That tradition was started by Antionette’s Grandparents in Hong Kong one Epiphany night many years ago. Not knowing what to do with their  Christmas tree, they burned it and made wishes with their friends for the New Year.  Since then the tradition has evolved into burning branches from their tree.  (Side note – it is a wonderful way to not let a perfectly good tree go to waste in a landfill).  Second, as any good party has – it’s all about the food. Antionette spends hours (and I mean HOURS) creating a traditional English feast of Cornish pasties, bangers, mashed potatoes, etc… This menu is an important part of the whole evening because it honors her English heritage, and my oldest son is especially happy because Antionette makes enough for everyone to take a plate home with them to enjoy again later.  Last, before everyone has their moment to place their branch into the fire, a speech is said commemorating the previous year and acknowledging the hope for the next.  Antionette’s speech this year was a beautiful tribute to the meaning of the night ~ to be both reflective and prospective.

As I watched my boys place their branches into the fire, and as I put my own in, I thought about our lives and my  own ‘Epiphany wish’ for 2011.  I reflected on both the incredible highs and incredible lows of 2010, and I realized the exciting prospects ahead for 2011 – both personally and professionally.  The definition for the word Epiphany  has two parts, the second part being: “a sudden striking understanding of something”.   That something for me is the change and growth I am looking forward to in the New Year for both my family and my business.  Epiphany is not only a day of celebration, but a clarification and realization to what needs to be done in the future.  I am vowing to have a new tradition of making Epiphany wishes on New Years instead of resolutions.  Epiphany is about hope, promise, and clarity, what more could you want for the future?!   What is your Epiphany wish?

Reviving Frosty!

What an amazing way to kick off 2011!  SNOW!  Yes, it really snowed in Los Angeles!  It wasn’t just a little dusting, it was a solid 8 hours of snow!  The kids were out in force and the snowballs were flying.  It was a fantastic day, but what ended up being the very best part for me was the snowman my sons and the neighborhood kids built.  It wasn’t huge, but what it lacked for in height it more than made up for in personality.  Every kid had a part in its construction.  It was great!  We were hoping there would be more snow to wake up to in the morning, but instead we woke up to sunshine and wet/muddy lawns.  Fortunately “Mr. Frosty” survived, and it became the quest of the neighborhood kids to rebuild him, which meant cruising around the streets with a wagon and boot-legging parts from other falling apart snowmen.  While they hunted, Mr. Frosty was shielded by umbrellas.  Surprisingly he didn’t melt and by the time the kids came back to the house with more ‘body parts’ he was still in pretty good shape, sans the eyes that had fallen off.  After his bionic rebuild he looks even better, and far more fashionable with added accessories!  I’m sure he’ll be gone in the morning.  Such is life, but I will forever remember this incredible day!  Happy New Year everyone!

Now I think I need to start working on some new Snowmen designs!  :0)