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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Puppy Chow for People

"Puppy Chow"

1/2 c. butter
1 -12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. peanut butter
9 c. Crispix cereal (some recipes call for Chex cereal, but I like this better)
4 c. powdered sugar
paper bag (I add this because it was the only thing I needed to get at the grocery store.)

Directions: (super easy - trust me!)

1. In a sauce pan, melt together butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips. (low to medium heat)
2. Stir until all is evenly distributed and all is completely melted.
3. Measure out Crispix into a large bowl.
4. Pour chocolate mixture over Crispix and fold until all the cereal is completely covered.
5. Put powdered sugar into large paper bag.

6. Put Crispix into the bag with the sugar and shake until all the cereal is covered.
7. Add more sugar as needed.
8. Lay cereal on wax paper until cool.

Get these adorable treat boxes at Hobby Lobby - they've gone on sale already, so 10 only cost $3! That is a whole lotta cute for not a lotta money, my friends! I plan on squirreling away some of these babies to use through the year.

I like to refrigerate my puppy chow. I also place it in baggies before packaging so the powdered sugar doesn't go everywhere it's not supposed to.

This was the perfect favor for my daughter's birthday party which had a doggy theme to it. I think it would make an excellent holiday treat...however, you may want to rename it to "Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crunch" so people don't think you're insulting them. You can even top it off with an ornament.

Thanks for visiting and happy snackin'!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Incredible Florabella Give-Away!

I'm sure most of my photographer friends know
of Florabella actions and textures.

(This is actually a vertical template, but I rotated it for this photo.)

But did ya know, she has generously sent out an invite
to download these gorgeous holiday cards? The
invite came via her newsletter. Sign up!

Yepper. All you have to do is "like" Florabella
on FaceBook
and you can download all FIVE
of these beauties.
Comes with lovely matching patterns
for your text on the back.
Details found here.

Not only that, but you can then sign up for the
chance to win a $100 gift certificate to
purchase any of her incredible
actions, textures, frames or digital papers!

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Scissor Cutting Pattern

I've been working on a little something to share with you all. Since this is something you can make now and keep for next year's Halloween season, I'm going with the motto of better late than never! I was inspired by a fabulous scissor-cutting artist, Cindy - found here, an exhibitor at a local show and a silhouette pattern from the Better Homes & Garden Halloween magazine to create this:

Ta-Dah!! (Or as my daughter says, "Ta-Tah!!" She has no idea why I find this funny.)This is my own drawing/template, yours to print off and use to make your own Halloween scissor-cutting. Right-click on the template. Click on "Open Link in New Tab". You should be able to print from that image.Once printed, use as much or as little of the template as you like. You may only want to do the moon and the owl or the cat and pumpkins - enlarge if you'd like.

1. Cut the excess white paper away and tape to a piece of black paper. (Unless you want to make a white silhouette. Which I think gives this wonderful craft a modern look to it - however, I like the black for Halloween.) I'm not sure if this taping process is "cheating" in the scissor-cutting world, but I certainly didn't want to cut out the pattern, trace it with a white pen on black paper and then cut it again from the black paper. If you want to do that - knock yourself out. Seriously.

2. Use your exacto knife and tiny hole punch to cut out the small inner pieces and eyes FIRST.

3. Using fine tipped, sharp scissors, cut around the outer lines. Turn the paper, rather than your scissors to get a better cut. Sorry I didn't have the grass drawn on my original drawing, but I kind of pieced this together as I went.
If you are a novice, like me, you will want to cut the little figures and grass separately and just glue them close together onto your background when finished. (I'm pretty sure this is also "cheating".)

If your cuts are not perfect, don't sweat it! Perfectionists are chicken-$hits. If you are a perfectionist, I'm sorry, someone had to tell you.

4. Find an old black frame, use one ya have or get one on sale...this pattern fits just right in a 5x7 frame.

5. Pick out a sheet of colored or patterned paper and glue your cuttings down.

Ta-tah, you're done!

You might get inspired and draw your own little figures to match your little one's costumes. I made this magician and bunny rabbit for my friend who's boys are dressing in these costumes. I thought she was so creative making their costumes relate like that! Way to go, Amanda Carol!
Thanks for visiting and happy scissor-cutting! (Sounds better than happy scerenschnitting, don'tcha think?)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Confessions of a Crappy Blogger

I have been just awful about posting in the last month. And if this blog was a plant, it would be dried up, brown and just plain pitiful looking. But I must say "thank you" to my followers and my readers. Thank you for sticking with me, thank you for your continued support and thank you for your thoughtful comments. And now, if you only wish to read positive, feel-good may wanna go read elsewhere. If you can handle some honesty and reality, stick around.

I have been busy with my family. The kids have after school activities three days of the week. I have been exhausted. I have been hot. Bring on the fall weather already! Laundry, cleaning and all domestic chores have been done. And repeated to the Nth degree. (If you are one of my three male followers or my brother, avert your eyes now...I'm about to discuss female issues.)

Let's quit this BS that our 40's are the best thing since they started making snack bags of Nutter-Butter cookies. I gotta ask Oprah, Demi and that Eat, Pray, Love chick to just shut it! I feel like I've got another set of armpits directly under my breasts. I am tired, moody and filled with self doubt. I could eat 24/7. I am out of shape and out of my mind. Yes, I'm perimenopausal. It's not pretty, it's not fun and I am at a time where I am trying to take care of everyone else.

For the past month, I collapse on the couch at the end of the day. I mindlessly watch tv and try to let go the worst of the day. I tell myself that tomorrow is another day. It hasn't been working. So I began exercising again. It hasn't solved everything, but I am feeling mentally better. Therefore, I decided to share. Because somebody else may be feeling similarly. And because the Pioneer Woman wrote that anything I'd share with a sister (if I had a sister), I could feel comfortable sharing with my readers. If you've made it this far reading, I am crowning you a blogging sister.

And I feel better unleashing that bout of verbal diarrhea.
Thanks for listening and sticking by me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby Fix

For all of us who are "finished" adding to our immediate family...sometimes, ya just need a little baby fix and then you're good to go!
I love all his dark hair and his incredible dark brown eyes...oops! You can't see his dark eyes here. You'll need to go here to my photography blog to see MORE and BIGGER photos!

In case you are interested, I'll be sharing a post about lighting & photography here next week. All of my portraits are done with natural lighting.

Thanks for visiting and following!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Family Portrait

This is the first full week of school here in Georgia and I have begun the process of catching up! I feel sometimes like I'm in a constant state of catching up, but love when I'm able to chip away at my list.

This is just a sneak peak at the "H" family portrait session I shot back in June. Yes, June. Back when I thought it couldn't get any hotter. My mistake. However, you'd never know it was blazin' hot by looking at these guys. They looked "Mahhvelous". (Yes, I'm channeling my inner Billy Crystal and I don't care if that clues you in to my age!)

You can see more and larger photos from our session here.

Off to work on "Baby Z". Be sure to come back if you're in need of an adorable baby fix!
Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hydrangeas Part II

You thought I forgot, didn't you? I did not. I lost my notes. I lost my mind. They have both returned. I began writing this post in my notebook, but found it became rather verbose. So if you can believe it, I'll have to write another post for Part III and the remaining questions I am often asked. This post addresses the question:
Is there a hydrangea I can grow even though we have harsh winters?
Why,yes, my cold weather friends there long as you are in a region no lower than Zone 3 on a climate map. In case you are unsure of your zone, I've scanned a climate map below.(Click on map to enlarge)

Here is a breakdown for hydrangeas suitable for cold regions:

Zone 3: Hydrangea Paniculata AKA Pee Gee Hydrangeas

What they lack in color, they make up for with presence and abundance.Jackie-Baby and 'Limelight' blooms as big as his head
Bloom Color: Cream, ivory or white often aging to green or pink.
Pros: Blooms on new wood, so it is not affected by late frosts.

One of the few hydrangeas which does well in full sun - don't even think about putting her in the shade!
Fast grower and gets BIG! (I guess that's not a "Pro" if you have a small space.)
Bloom Time: Late summer, but blooms will age beautifully until hard frost.
Favorite Pee Gee: Limelight

Zone 4: Hydrangea Aborescens AKA Wild or Smooth Hydrangeas

A prolific and consistent bloomer. ( I have 6 of these beauties.)early 'Anabelle' hydrangea blooms
Bloom color: begins bright green, turns white and ages back to green.
Pros: Also blooms on new wood and is not affected by late frosts.
Can tolerate a little more sun. (But not full sun.)
Bloom time: Early in the season.

Favorite: Annabelle, which will re-bloom in late summer if deadheaded and cut back after the first bloom.

Zone 4: Hydrangea macrophylla 'Endless Summer' - mophead
The only mophead which can survive in the cold of Zone 4.'Endless Summer'
Bloom color: blue or pink depending on soil conditions.
Pros: very hardy and colorful!
Bloom time: June
The further north you are located, the more sun she'll tolerate. Here in the south, she'll need protection from the afternoon sun.

Zone 5: Hydrangea quercifolia AKA Oakleaf Hydrangea

As the name suggests, it's leaves look like those of an oak and color up beautifully in the late summer and fall. Oakleafs are are consistent and abundant bloomers which do well with sun, but not full sun. Needs good drainage. Some varieties get VERY big. Lulu by my neighbor, Pam's Oakleaf Hydrangea
Bloom color: Green to ivory/white and age pink. However, they will burn out or brown out by July here in the south. I simply cut the spent blooms & enjoy the remaining foliage.
Note: Bees love oakleaf blooms in the early stages, so beware if you are allergic to stings.
Favorite Oakleaf: 'Snowflake' - it has a double flower and the bloom ages better than others in my garden.
early blooming 'Snowflake' Oakleaf
'Snowflake' Oakleaf aging to pink

Zone 5: Hydrangea serrata AKA Lacecaps

Lacecaps have delicate, airy and dainty blooms and their leaves are narrow.'Purple Tiers'
Bloom colors: Purple, blue, white or pink.
Pros: Lacecaps are a more reliable bloomer than mopheads since they are hardier. (Less threatened by late frosts.) Since their blooms are more delicate, they remain upright.
Favorite Lacecaps: 'Purple Tiers', 'Tiara' and 'Blue Billow'
Note: Another favorite of bees once the centers "pop".'Tiara'
In case you are wondering why I am posting this now, it is because hydrangeas are best to plant in the fall. This way, there is less stress on the plant, it gets plenty of winter moisture and has time to set it's buds.
So go forth and get yourself a hydrangea or three...or five. Best to plant in odd numbers.
Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lost and Found

And because I know you all will lose sleep if I don't spill the beans.
Here is what happened:

I was on my way to Target.
I see this black dog standing by a bus stop looking up at the people there.
I see black dog run into street and continue to cross four lanes of busy traffic.
I see black dog nearly get hit on three occasions. My heart is jumping out of my chest.
I see he has a collar, so I pull over into the empty (thank goodness) parking lot where he has now trotted to.
He is scared. He is hesitant. His tail is between his legs. His collar has no tags.

He is Ozzy.
I took him to our vet to be scanned to see if he has a chip. No chip.
I called Animal Control, Cocker Spaniel Rescue (they are full) and four local groomers.
Nobody has reported him missing.
His tongue sticks out while he sleeps.
He is sweet with everyone. He is housebroken. He is overweight. He snores.
He gets along with Ella...

Ah, yes...Ella.
The princess is not so happy.
I have no idea what his story is, but my vet told me they are seeing an unbelievable number of strays being found. People move and leave them behind. I can't fathom it.

So now we have a new member of the family. I'm pretty sure you'll be seeing much more of him. You can see more of him over at my photography blog here.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, July 16, 2010


Tucker - Ella's new BFF
So dear blogger friends, while Mr. Sassypants and our children were away, I took the opportunity to visit my dear friend, Martha. A road trip to Alabama with Ella-baby.
I hadn't talked to Martha in forever. But I contacted her to let her know what had been going on with a mutual girlfriend. We decided we shouldn't only be contacting each other whenever there's bad news. We should get together!!
We had the best time! We hung out, did a little shopping, and re-connected. Re-connecting entails laughing, crying and reminiscing. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to be with a friend who knows me and my quirks and still loves me anyway.Tucker and Ella got along fabulously! They played and played until one of them got too pooped to play any more. If Ella was a human, I swear she'd be a Cougar - she gets all the young studs chasing her.
Thank you Martha for taking the time for our visit!

Upon my return to Georgia, I had work to do for my husband's business. Then I set about cleaning the house, ridding it of piles, doing laundry and re-organizing some areas. It was not fun, but wonderful to have finished. Because as you all know, cleaning while there are children around is like trying to nail Jello to a tree. Impossible!

And then this happened: (insert "Dun, dun, dun", for dramatic effect)

To Be Continued...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Life Got Busy!

Hello Friends!
I'm so glad you all have stuck around during my early summer hiatus, otherwise known as "school is out and these kids are runnin' me ragged". I was on a road trip to PA with the dog and both kids for 11 days. Mr. Sassypants had business to take care of so we made the journey ourselves. I was quite tired afterwards...but those kids weren't.

In the meantime, I'd taken part in two online photography courses. How well I did with those children out of school is debatable. My creativity was nil.

The heat and humidity had sky rocketed just in time for our return to Georgia. So we've been to the pool. Day after day, after hot, stinkin' day.
Add to the weather the fact that I went through a serious funk. Maybe because I'm a Momma's girl and I missed being around her when we got back. Maybe because I seem unable to focus for more than 10 seconds while these kiddos run around like squirrels on crack. Think I'm exaggerating? Maybe I was forgetting to keep a grateful heart.Then...June 28th came around. And I remembered.The happiest day of my life. I know there are girls who dream of their wedding day from the time they are very young. Not me. I dreamt of meeting a man of integrity, strong character, who is kind-hearted and can make me laugh. So the day, was just the icing on the cake.
This was 13 years ago.He has been my rock. He supports me and all I do. He works hard and long hours. He's a wonderful and playful father. We still laugh ourselves silly.This is us 13 years later. We went out for dinner by ourselves. We had such a great time talking - uninterrupted. Our son asked if our anniversary lasted more than one day - he and his sister thoroughly enjoyed their evening with their babysitter and good friend, Heather.

So my grateful heart has been restored. And I'll be back sooner than three weeks. My wonderful husband has taken both kiddos on a road trip to Chicago to visit family and friends. I have had two days of just me and the dog and a whole lot of quiet.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hydrangeas - Part I

I have no idea how many parts this will result in because I am writing this as I type. Anybody else still like writing in notebooks or filling up tablets - then transfer it to the computer? No? Just a quirk I have cornered on the market? *Edited to add: I got kinda wordy and this is a long post - if you're not interested in learning about hydrangeas, you might just want to check out the pretty pictures. (Click on any picture to enlarge.)

Anyway, I began my love affair with hydrangeas when Mr. Sassypants and I moved into our home 13 years ago. My Ma-Ma sent me one as a housewarming gift and it is the stunner I still have at the bottom of our front porch steps. Um, I'm going to try and not gush on and on about the beauty of this plant...
(Merritt's Supreme Hydrangea)
Since I have an obscene number of these gems (50 total - 18 varieties and three "unknowns") and because I think I've been so fortunate to learn from some of the best hydrangea "experts", I want to share the knowledge I've gained from others and from my own experiences. Please take into account I am gardening in Zone 7, so my info translates well if you are in the Southeast. Mophead hydrangeas are the pickiest about their climates (in my opinion) and will do best if grown in Zones 6-9. (Tiara Hydrangea)
Requirements for healthy hydrangeas:


First, I'd like to address the issue of sun versus shade for hydrangeas. While they are known as a "shade" plant, they really should have SUN until about 1:00 or 2:00 pm. (Some types will tolerate a full day of sun and I'll tell more about them later.) The further north you are, the more they can tolerate more sun. If their leaves begin to scorch, they may be getting too much sun. Too little sun and you will end up with a green shrub and very few, if any, blooms. Say you have a mix of sun and shade...provided they get about 4 hours of direct light, you can grow a hydrangea.
(Limelight, PeeGee Hydrangea)
Say you have not a stitch of shade to be found on your can still grow a hydrangea! Pick up a PeeGee hydrangea (known in hoighty-toighty garden circles as Hydrangea Paniculata). Best in zones 3-8. PeeGees are one of my VERY favorite varieties! They NEED full sun, can produce HUGE blooms (which dry exquisitely), are not affected by late frosts, can be pruned to tree form and bloom late in the summer when little else is happening in this southern garden! This is a picture from last summer. This was only it's second year in the ground and it reached about eight feet high. Be prepared to give this big girl some room! Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea Quercifolia, Zones 5-9) also will tolerate and do better with a little more sun.
(Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Here in Georgia I've learned the hard way that amending my soil before planting is a required step - a huge pain in the tush, too! Given the hard clay we naturally have means adding and mixing in some bagged soil and compost. If you have gorgeous, dark, rich soil, I'm SO happy for you. (Dig into some hard clay and heave around some bags of cow manure and you'll realize I'm not being overly dramatic here.) Once your hydrangeas have been in the ground for a year, lay on a couple of inches of manure around the base of your plant. (Around March for Atlanta.)
(Penny Mac Hydrangea)
Sounds like a lot of work? The incredible, late Penny McHenry did this every spring and had over 300 hydrangeas. Penny was the founder of the American Hydrangea Society and a premier stop on the annual Hydrangea Tour here in Atlanta. Her garden was breathtaking and she was generous with her knowledge. Her garden is the reason I introduced Annabelles (a type of Hydrangea Arborescens, Zones 4-8) to my garden. This is also a variety which likes some more sun. (young Annabelle Hydrangea)
If you feel you must fertilize your hydrangea, you need only sprinkle some 10-10-10 at the base after the last freeze and when new green growth has pushed out. You can do the same again in June, but only if you're NOT in the middle of a drought! I've never fertilized my hydrangeas and never really felt the need for this step.

Of course all plants need water, but your hydrangea may need a little more in the first two years of its life, especially if you plant them in the early summer. The ideal (for the plant) time of year to plant a hydrangea is in the fall. (October for Atlanta) There is very little stress through our winters for a hydrangea. However, I know all the nurseries will have these gorgeous plants out now - my Ma-Ma gave me this one (below) while she was visiting - this Matilda Gutges, we both thought belonged in my garden.
Even when your hydrangea has been in the ground a few years, don't be surprised to see it go "limp" around 3:00pm. They will all do it (in the south especially).Here is one which has been in my garden for eight years now. The heat tends to bother it, but it will wake up refreshed the next morning. Of course, if your area is suffering from a drought, hydrangeas will become very stressed. Just try to get them water in the early morning at the base of the plant if possible.

I'll be back in a couple of days to answer FAQ's, so if you have any questions of your own, feel free to leave them in the comment section!
Thanks for visiting and Happy Gardening!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Sweet Birthday and a Surprise

Yesterday I turned 44.

My sweetheart husband made pecan pancakes for breakfast.

I was serenaded via the phone - twice! (For their trouble, I put them both on speakerphone - be forewarned!)

My kids made me cards, but neither could fit 44 candles on either of their illustrations.

I received cards, e-mails and phone messages from loved ones with birthday wishes.

I spent much of the morning taking photographs in my garden. (I'll be sharing my hydrangeas on here with some tips soon!)

Later I got a spa pedicure - hot pink for the sassy birthday girl!

My sweetheart husband made one of his specialty dinners for me - orzo pasta with fresh vegetables and mozzarella and a whole bunch of other flavorful ingredients!

It was a very good day.

Then to top it all off - the icing on the cake you might say...
my husband brought up this beauty - a blue and white hydrangea cake! Inside it contained homemade peanut butter icing. Oh, yeah. My day just got better!
Made by this beauty:
My sweet, fabulous, sneaky and uber talented friend, Amanda. Thank you my dear friend!
Thank you everybody for your birthday wishes.
A special thank you to my hubby, too for making it such a sweet day!
I leave you with some of my favorite quotes about aging & birthdays.

The secret of staying young is to love honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.
Lucille Ball

You are young only once. If you act foolish after that, you'll have to find some other excuse.

Youth is not a time of life, it's a state of mind.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt;
as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear;
as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

Next time you want to be young again, remember algebra.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

M Family Session

Remember when I shot this Sweet Pea?
Well, guess who was lucky enough to shoot big brother and expectant mommy?
Yep, me!
To see MORE and BIGGER photos from this shoot, click here.
Or, you could even follow me over at:
(That would really make my day!)

Thank you M Family for the opportunity to do a family portrait!
I look forward to meeting your newest little one in a few weeks!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mosaic Monday - Pink & Green

Linking up over at Mary's Little Red House
for Mosaic Monday.
Be sure to check out all the other lovely linker's mosaics!
From my garden: (top left going clockwise)
Matilda Gutges (hydrangea), Oakleaf Hydrangea,
peony and Geisha hosta.

Thanks for stopping by!
I also welcome all visitors to my photography site - here!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Excuse Note

Dear Friends,
Please excuse Traci's absence from Bloggerland as she has been working in the gardens morning, noon and night.
I, myself, have tried to be patient with her, but then she went and had THIS done to me.
The words "summer cut" are forever ingrained in this canine brain of mine.
I did hear her babbling on to herself about gardening, hydrangea and photo shoot posts, but I don't know if the "moo-nure" is getting to her.
Please be sure to come back. Soon it will be sweltering outside and then Traci will be right back where she me belly rubs and biscuits.

Your Faithful Friend,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fabulous Photoshop!

I have to admit that a lot of work (for me) goes into making a photograph. Before this whole digital world, I shot with a SLR and film - for twenty years. (Feel free to think, "Gee she must've started taking pictures when she was 10 years-old." I love starting the the day off in denial!) So shooting photos was a lot of trial and error. I got photos back and had to learn from my mistakes after the fact.

Now with my digital SLR and photoshop, I can go from this:(not too bad)
to this:
Our wonderful, cute, stinker-boy, Godson goes from this:
to this:

or even this:
Doesn't that make a world of difference?
So while it may take some extra time processing my own photographs, the time is well spent. I've had to learn to embrace this technical & digital world. It hasn't been the easiest transition, but how can I argue with the results?
I still believe though that even without this technology, anyone can become a better photographer by learning about the basics: lighting, composition, textures, patterns, etc. Do any of these topics interest you? Let me know!

If you have time, please visit Lens Us Together. I am hosting the theme this week and it is "Prepared". See what my peonies have to do with my theme!

As always, thank you for stopping by. Your kind comments and encouragement are greatly appreciated!