Showing posts from 2012

Wednesday—Good for You, Good For The Holiday Home

Foamy peppermint handsoap & homemade gift tags!

I don't know about you, but when I think of Christmas, I think of handsoap and gift tags, don't you?  Why, of course you do!  So, here are two nifty items that will satisfy your craving for holiday cleanliness and fashionable gift giving.

This refreshing foaming peppermint-vanilla handsoap from Whole Foods is just right for winter hands.  It's gentle and lightly scented, and it reminds me of candy canes.  I've been using it since the mother-of-all-cooking days, Thanksgiving.

Kim Klassen, our wonderful Beyond Layers Photoshop textures teacher, dropped a blank gift tags template on us last week, and I've been going bonkers over handmade gift tags ever since!  I want to pass on her links for freebie tags and add a couple of my own.  I made a set of tags from my collection of vintage holiday postcards (1905-1915), and I whipped up a set of tags with chalkboard textures.

So, have fun, and May You Have a Very Happy Chr…

Tuesday's Cupboard—Butternut Squash Soup

✓ Crockpot friendly ✓ Easy 
✓ Inexpensive

Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Easy Slow Cooker Dinner © 2001

You'll need a large crockpot (I have a 7 qt. oval crock pot) & an immersion blender.  This is a soup staple at our house!  YUMmmm!


•  1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
•  2  Mann's 20-oz. packages peeled & cut-up butternut squash
•  4 cups water
•  1 tsp. dried marjoram
•  1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
•  a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes
•  2 Knorr's double-cake chicken bullion cubes

•  1 8-oz. Neufchatel cream cheese

Make It:

1.  Put all of the ingredients except for the cream cheese into a 7 qt. crockpot.  Set on high for 4 hours.

2.  Drop the cream cheese into the soup mix & let it melt for 30 minutes.

3.  Use an immersion blender to hand blend the soup into a smooth consistency.  Serve immediately!

Garnish with a little paprika and chive sprigs_Delicious!

Friday: The Photo Gallery_Wintertree

Another fun do over from one of Kim's original photos. Just mouse over to see the before & after!

 For instructions on how to create mouseovers on blogger, see my previous post. It's easier than it looks! Friday: The Photo Gallery_PEACE

Friday: The Photo Gallery_PEACE

Mouse over the photo below to see a before and after assignment from my Beyond Layers class. The original photo was taken by Kim Klassen.  The second photo "PEACE" is the same photo processed by me in Photoshop.  Pretty cool, huh?

Here's how I did it on a Mac.  I have it on good authority that this script will also run on a PC!  
How To Do Mouseovers in Blogger
1.Start with 2 photos that are exactly the same size (around 500 px max is the size that worked with the blogger template that I am using).  I had to reduce the size of the photos in Photoshop from 1000w x 666h to 500w x 333h so that the pix wouldn't bleed into the sidebar gadgets.  An image with the largest pixel size of 700px is a good place to start, but you'll just have to experiment with what fits into your chosen template layout.  

2.  Upload them to an album in Picasa >I have an album called, "Beyond Layers_Mouseovers."

Picasa is Google's main image storage system, and all of your blo…

Friday — The Photo Gallery: Tiggz_The Last Artichoke_Fall Color


Thursday MIni-Post — Ruined Spanish Jesus Fresco Hair Monkey Costume

A masterpiece...NOT 

Okay, so you all know the backstory, right?  80-year old Spanish parishoner, Cecilia Giminez, somehow got her inexperienced, albeit well-intentioned hands on a 19th Century fresco of Jesus entitled, Ecce Homo, (Behold The Man) by Spanish artist, Elias Garcia Martinez.  In her effort to restore it, she instead fubarred it (Effed Up Beyond All Recognition and Repair) to the collective horror of everyone on Earth.  
Check out this video of Mrs. Giminez's explanation.  She says that she had permission from the priest.  No statement from the priest on this, but everyone seems to agree that Mrs. Giminez did not have permission from anyone in an official capacity.  Interesting, though, that this old woman would have been happily botching up a beloved town treasure, and no one was around to notice. 
Now, the old bag has hired a legal team to stake a claim to a percentage of the donations that are pouring in from visitors to the church, Sanctuario de Misericordia, loca…

Wednesday—Good For You, Good For the Home: Manly Scents

Manly Scents

A man likes to have his own stuff.

Let's talk about manly stuff.  Men have their own razors engineered for "low cutting force" and "fusion power."

There are TV dinners made for hungry-men and power meals made for extra-hungry men.  And, I'm pretty sure that Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce was invented with men in mind.

Now, there are some cool new skin & hair care products made just for men.  Old Spice has been around for a long time, but I'm including it as a new product because of its contemporary, clever marketing.  Also, because I love their new line of shower gels, especially the long-lasting, 16-hour Odor Blocker body wash.

Manly products deserve non-girly pix, so I've used the manliest Photoshop filters I could find from Totally Rad.  They include Bullet Tooth, Bitchin B&W, Iron Mouse, Sparta, Old Glory, Troy, Handlebar Moustache, Old Skool, and Graphite.

Check out these great bath & body products from Dove Men+Care products

Tuesday's Cupboard—2012 White Pomegranate Jelly

An early 2012 harvest & golden white pomegranate jelly

I love this time of year!  The days grow shorter, the nights grow cooler, and it's time to pick white pomegranates from our tree in Boulder City, Nevada.  
More Water, Less Often We had a good crop this year.  I changed the watering cycle from short daily waterings twice a day (before sunrise and at 9 p.m.) to longer, deeper watering cycles four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) twice a day during the peak summer months.

I followed SNWA (Southern Nevada Water Authority) seasonal watering schedules, and the plants thrived.  The cedars and the rosemarys are spectacularly fragrant, and the lantana are full of tiny lilac blossoms.  The asparagus ferns are lush, and even the slow-growing nandinas have filled out.  I've never seen the fan palm more beautiful!      
Leaffooted Bugs What causes them? Last year for the first time, the white pom tree was invaded by leaffooted bugs.  These large, nasty varmints …

Tuesday's Cupboard—A Summer of Retro Pies! #2—Blender Quiche

This versatile recipe is good for you and good for the pocket book!  It comes in two variations, sweet onion & baby spinach or sweet onion & fresh tomato.  This light & delicious quiche is excellent frozen & later reheated for an easy, summertime supper.  Circa 1981_Sunset Magazine 

Blender Quiche 
Makes two 9" pies — 8 servings cut into quarters or 6 large servings cut into thirds

•  2 frozen deep-dish 9" pie crusts, thawed

•  1 8-oz pkg. shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, swiss/gruyère, or any combination)
•  6 slices bacon, chopped & fried crisp (drained on a paper towel)

•  1 6-oz. container nonfat plain yogurt (Greek-style or regular nonfat is fine)
•  3 eggs (or, 3/4 egg substitute)
•  1 T. cornstarch
•  1/2 tsp. kosher salt
•  1/4 tsp. nutmeg
•  dash of cayenne pepper

•  1 med. sweet yellow onion

• 3 c. chopped fresh tomatoes OR 1 c. fresh baby spinach

Make It!
Put bacon & cheese in prepared crusts (1/2 in one crust, 1/2 in the other).  P…

Thursday Mini-Post: Sea Hats!

Looking for a perturbed cnidarian to wear on your head?  Of course, you are!  An irascible squid?  A cranky Great White?   You've come to the right place!

San Diego fabric artist, Josh Freeman, has created what is this year's "must-have" accessory among the funny hat-wearing fashion elite—Sea Hats!  Yay!  It's the perfect gift for that special someone who already has a giant Goofy hat, a Rasta tam with dreadlocks, or a mini top hat.

Get yours at Josh's Etsy page and read more about his shop, Obey My Brain Creations, on you-know-where!

Photos courtesy of

Friday—The Art Gallery

My latest Photoshop artwork from my online texture class with Kim Klassen

Thursday's Mini-Post: Critter BFFs

Animals have BFF's, too!  This vid was taken at Busch Gardens, Tampa, posted 23 December 2011 — Enjoy!  

Wednesday—Good For You, Good For the Home: Graduation Etiquette

Graduation Gift Etiquette

It's graduation time!  Whether it is from high school or from college, graduation is an important time in anyone's life.  Little kid graduations are special, too, but they represent childhood accomplishments, and let's face it, those tend to add up.  Growing up is not the same as graduating.  

High school graduation represents a formal transition from childhood.  College graduation represents an achievement at an adult level.  Advanced degrees not only represent the next stage in someone's career, but they signify that the graduate intends to make a serious contribution at a professional level.  All are worthy personal achievements and deserve the proper recogition.

When my kids were graduating from high school, I was pretty clear on graduation etiquette:

A.)  Send out announcements;
B.)  Friends and relatives send back graduation cards and small monetary gifts;
C.)  Thank you notes are returned

Easy-peasy!  But, after a while, things start…