Saturday, March 15, 2014

Italian Cream Soda

We’re on a TOTAL Italian Cream Soda kick at our house right now!!  They are SO easy to make and you can make them in pretty much any flavor! (Skip adding the cream for a “regular” Italian Soda.)
If you haven’t had one before, you’re gonna thank me when you try it!



2 ounces Italian syrup, any flavor (Vanilla, Cherry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Peach, etc. – I like cherry or blackberry!)

2 Tbsp half-and-half (we always have heavy cream in the fridge, so that’s what we use and I pretty much eyeball it.)

6 ounces club soda



Fill glass half to ¾ full with crushed ice.

Pour in flavored syrup.

Add club soda.

Finish with cream and stir.

Enjoy and you're welcome! ♥

Friday, February 21, 2014

She Gave Her Children Wings

I’m teaching a class!!!!  Here are the details:

She gave her children wings
(mixed media assemblage class)

Learn to make this bird’s nest/shadowbox.
A perfect way to display your favorite photograph of mom or grandma.

The class is $45.00
(includes instruction and kit).

Kit includes:
2 canvases
vintage paper
bird’s nest
vintage photo
feathers, buttons, lace, etc.
wire & nails
vintage hardware
(exact supplies may vary from sample)

You’ll bring:
a glue gun
wire snips
a hammer
optional: photo, buttons, bits, etc.

Saturday, April 12th, 2014
10:00AM – Noon
(possible second class at 12:30PM)

Madam Palooza
29980 Technology Drive #4, Murrieta, CA

Click the button below to register!

There are two other wonderful classes being offered that day too:

Hope to see you all there!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The BEST Granola EVER!!!

Last August, I went to a Bra-Vo Art Bra Workshop and our wonderful hostess, Pam Ingersoll, made us the most DELICIOUS granola I have EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!! I'm not kidding, it was SOOOOO GOOD!! I have been dreaming about that granola ever since, so I finally asked Pam for the recipe.  Turns out that her TOP SECRET recipe is actually Alton Brown's recipe.  That may be true, but this AMAZING, WONDERFUL, OH-SO-YUMMY granola will forever be known in my heart as "Pam's Granola"!

It's really easy to make! The hardest part is going into the kitchen to stir it every 15 minutes!  Pam bakes her granola a little longer than the recipe and she says she adds a little bit more of everything! Oh, and REAL maple syrup is a MUST!

Go ahead!  Make some for yourself!! You're gonna LOVE it!!



  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup cashews (I used Trader Joe's Raw Cashew Pieces.)
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (I may have added a bit more.)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I used real maple syrup!)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins (I used chopped, dried cherries instead.)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.
Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins (or whatever dried fruit you want) and mix until evenly distributed.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Salted Caramel-Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

Tuesdays have become "baking day" for me, mostly due to the fact that I was baking treats to take to chemo every week.  Now that chemo is over, I'm still trying to keep up the baking.  This week I tried a recipe I found on Pinterest.  The original recipe can be found here.  I made a few modifications, the main one being that the original recipe is made in an 8x8 pan, which is much too small! I adjusted the recipe for a 9x11 pan - plenty of bars for everyone!  I also used an 11oz. bag of Kraft Caramel Bits instead of unwrapping all of those caramel squares - my chemo fingers just couldn't do it!  Finally, I sprinkled a little sea salt over the caramel layer before baking.

Well, that's about it!  Let me know if you try them. Hope you like 'em!!  Enjoy!!

Salted Caramel-Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
Adapted from the original recipe at LuLu the Baker.

32 caramel squares, unwrapped (or 1-11oz. bag of Caramel Bits)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups butter, melted
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats
2  teaspoons baking soda
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, coarse

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 9x11" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips and sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

*If you try cutting the bars before they are completely cooled, they will fall apart.  Put them in the fridge if you can't wait for the molten caramel to cool down. They should however, be stored and served at room temperature (although warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream wouldn't be a bad idea either).
**If you want to use homemade or store-bought caramel sauce in place of the caramel/cream mixture, use 1 1/4 cups of caramel sauce, and omit the caramel squares and heavy cream.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Donut "Bread" Pudding

Lately, I've had a donut obsession.  For some reason, the other day I brought home 2 dozen donuts from the donut shop.  There was no way that the four of us would eat all those donuts before they went stale!  I wasn't about to let any of that donutty goodness go to waste, so I searched the internet for donut bread pudding recipes (my mom makes bread pudding with day old cinnamon rolls so I figured day old donuts would work too).  So, here's my adaptation of a couple of recipes I found:

Donut Bread Pudding


  • 10 day old glazed donuts
  • 1/2 qt heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • large eggs
  • egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips
  • 7 ozs sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup brewed espresso (chilled)


  1. Cut doughnuts into cubes. Mix other ingredients in a bowl except chocolate chips, sweetened milk and espresso.
  2. Pour over doughnuts. Sprinkle chocolate chip over mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
  3. Whip espresso and sweetened condensed milk spoonful on top of bread pudding when serving.
  4. Store leftovers covered in the fridge.

This recipe was a hit with the family! My oldest boy ate two servings and made "yummy" comments the whole time he ate!  We'll do this one again!!


My Journey with Breast Cancer

Thursday, November 29, 2012

♥ Grandma ♥

First let me start by saying that this will probably be a rambling mess, but I needed to get these words and thoughts out.  Please bear with me...
I didn’t want to wake up this morning.  I didn’t want to roll over to find “that message” on my phone, but I had to get moving.  There was a message, from my mom, letting me know that they had gotten home safely from the 6 hour drive to and from Ukiah.  They had driven down in the rain to sit with my grandma and to say their good-byes.  “She knew we were there and we told her we loved her and that we would see her one day… the doctor says she could go anytime.  I think she is waiting for everyone to go home and let her go in peace!”, the message read.
Grandma and her family
My grandma, Gisella Minahan, was the strongest woman I have ever known.  She was born on July 19, 1923.  When she was 4, she came to America with her family from Stegersbach, Austria.  At the age of 17, she left home to join the Transcontinental Roller Derby Association out of Chicago, IL.  Grandma then married my Grandpa Gordon and had four daughters and one amazing son, my dad.  Soon, she would find herself a single-mom, raising her 5 children alone.  She did what she had to do to provide for her family.

First Communion
Grandma gave birth to another son, but alone and unmarried, she gave him up for adoption.  She carried that pain with her until she was reunited with him almost 40 years later.
Roller Derby Queen
Love found her again in my Grandpa Bakker.  They had a beautiful daughter together.  Grandpa passed away not long after I was born, and Grandma found herself alone again.

Several years later, Grandma met and married a wonderful man, Joe Minahan.  I loved seeing Grandma and Papa together.  They were complete opposites, but loved each other just the same.  Papa died about 15 years ago (seems like only yesterday).

Since then, Grandma lived alone, under the watchful, loving eye of my Aunt Anita.  She had knee replacement surgeries, lost an eye to cancer (the boys thought her glass eye was totally cool), and her health slowly began to fail her.

Grandma with my dad
I hadn’t seen Grandma in quite some time.  It pains me to admit just how long it had been.  There were always excuses why we couldn’t make the drive north—car trouble, school commitments, dogs, etc.  Stupid really.

My Aunt Anita called last night.  Most of the family was gathered around Grandma in her small room at the home.  She wanted to put me on the speaker phone so I could talk to Grandma.  “I love you very much,” were the only words I could get out, tears streaming down my face.  I hoped that she had heard me and that she knew just how much she meant to me.
Grandma and "the five"
Another message came this morning while I was getting the boys ready for school.  “Grandma went to be with the Lord at 1:30 this morning!”, is all it said.  The message that I so selfishly didn’t want to receive.  I didn’t want her to be gone.  Even though I knew that she was no longer in pain or suffering.  Even though I knew that she was with her Heavenly Father and all her loved ones who had gone before, I didn’t want to see those words.  I wanted to be able to pick up the phone and hear her voice, “Hello, Julie.  It’s Grandma.”. 
Grandma and Papa at our wedding
But as my heart is aching, I can find comfort in the fact that I will see her again someday.  I know that the same God that stood with his arms wide open to receive Grandma into Paradise this morning, is the same God that is there with wide, open arms to hold and comfort me.  We all grieve in different ways, but by giving Him my grief, I’ll find peace.
Grandma with Matthew
I will miss Grandma.  She was an amazing woman.  I will cherish the memories I have of her and rejoice in the legacy that she has left in our family.  Thank you Grandma, for the strength you showed and the love you so freely gave.  I love you.

My Dad and Grandma

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Halloween Mantel 2012

For some reason, I’m totally obsessed with owls this year.I couldn’t wait to start hunting and gathering the items for my mantel!
So, I went with owls and a black, white and silver color scheme.
I found this guy at TJ Maxx ($14.99).
I’d been thinking about buying this vase (black silhouettes of trees and crows on it) for 2 years!  I finally broke down and got it this year ($14.99 at TJ Maxx).  The silver candelabra was found at Savers ($3.99).
This amazing specimen was discovered at Ross ($9.99).
He was exactly what I had been looking for!  I picked up several old books (orange or black bindings) at Savers ($.99—$5.99) and the perfect candlestick on the left was the thrifted item I got from Christine in the Sweet & Sinister Swap! 
Oh, the frame hanging over the mantel was from Michael's ($25 on sale), and the subway art inside was from TJ Maxx ($7.99).  Aside from a few new candles and pumpkins, that was pretty much it.  Now it's time to start on the rest of the house!
Up next, the Sweet & Sinister Swap reveal!!!