Here’s to Jenny and the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

I’ve written before about the “domino effect” where one small minute details leads to another and another and so on. Well, that’s how I feel about my growing interest in quilting. With so many creative juice varieties flowing in my head, it’s often hard to pinpoint exactly what starts the action.And the story continues.....

But it probably goes back to last November when we joined the gym. It was that time of the year that the weather sometimes interfered with my walking or biking, so we thought let’s give our local Planet Fitness a try for the winter months. Plugging in to the overhead television monitors or my cell seemed to be the thing to do while burning those calories on the treadmill or elliptical.

But I found myself getting bored with that so I tapped into my YouTube channel looking for things to interest me. Layout design, Photoshop, sewing, embroidery – those were all things that sparked my interest. And so I started turning my gym sessions into learning sessions. Eventually I landed on the Missouri Star Quilt Company channel to learn more about creating more sewing and quilting projects. And that is when I met Jenny Doan . Her tutorials are always fun, made so by her sparkling personality. If you’ve not heard about Jenny and the Missouri Star’s success be sure to check out their story here

Not only have they found business success, but they’ve made a huge impact on a struggling small town in Missouri where small town downtowns are often deserted and sleepy. They’ve brought jobs and a new vibrancy to town, even developing a “quilting retreat” center. Amazing! And they’ve captured the nation’s attention with recent spots on the NBC Nightly News as well as MSNBC.

Well, this evening I get to meet the famous Jenny at the Cut Up and Sew Shop in Palm Coast where she’s presenting a Trunk Show, sharing some of her quilts and tips.

Even though we’ve never met, I feel like she’s a friend as I’ve spent so many hours with her on YouTube listening to her tutorials on my tablet and DSCN4802picking up hints for my sewing and quilting projects.

I even had her on the tablet while recently making a purse – just like spending time with a good friend.


Thanks Jenny for all your help and keep up the great tutorials. I’m sure I speak for many of your fellow sewers and quilters when I say that we really appreciate ya, girlfriend! ….oh and thanks for playing dominoes with me :)


Soup for you…..

Unlike the soup Nazi from old days of Seinfeld, who withheld soup, I offer a yummy soup for a quick dinner. Tonight is one of the evenings that my husband and I will head to the gym after he gets home from work. That means a quick light meal before we head out the door or something we can eat when we get home.  So today was new recipe day.  This corn chowder went together in about an hour.  Pretty easy stuff.

2014-02-26 19.47.49

Blending old with the new
Photo Credit: Words Etc.

The original recipe is from my good old Better Homes & Garden cookbookI have an original version circa 1980.  It is torn, tattered, and stained and tells the story of how much cooking I’ve done over the years using this little cooking bible.  A few years ago I asked for an updated version for Christmas. Many of the recipes in the newer edition have been updated to conform to our lighter style of cooking eating in the 21st century.  Now that’s a good thing, but sometimes I just can’t help myself and gravitate back to the old “bible,” but one great thing about the newer version is the inclusion of nutritional information. So without further ado, here is that chowder from the newer book that checks in at 192 calories per one cup serving.  I did substitute 1% milk for the whole milk so my version is probably slightly less in calories. (and there is also a corn and crab variation) Served with some warm bread or crostini and a salad and you’re on your way to a light yet comforting meal.

Easy Corn Chowder

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped sweet peppers (green , red or yellow)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 3 cups frozen corn
  • 14 oz chicken broth (homemade or canned)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup cubed red potato
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  1. Sauté onion and peppers in olive oil until soft.  Add garlic, cooking one or two minutes more.
  2. Add corn and broth and bring to boil; reduce to simmer and cook 10 – 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add flour, salt and pepper to cold milk and whisk together. Slowly add to corn mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thickened and bubbly.
  4. Continue cooking one or two additional minutes.
  5. Add bacon.
  6. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

    2014-02-25 12.21.03

    Corn Chowder from BHG – Feb 2014
    With Christine’s tweaks
    Photo credit: Words Etc.

For Corn/crab chowder: Substitute 6 oz crabmeat for the bacon. Note: for a richer soup, use cream instead of milk, and/or added grated cheddar or swiss cheese. Makes 10 servings.

Have a favorite soup recipe?  I’d love to hear from you!


Superbowl Protein – Artichoke & Lentil Salad

Add a little extra protein to your Superbowl spread.  

Here’s a quick and easy salad that packs 9g of protein in a 1/2 cup serving.
The original recipe came to me through my daughter who found it on MeatoutMondays  Although we are not vegans or vegetarians ourselves, we do eat quite a few dishes  that fit into those categories.  Thanks to daughter Julie,along with friends Josh and Susie Neimark, founders of Vegan by Choice
,  who influence many of our eating habits. We do try our best to eat right, both for our health and to protect the balance of the universe.  So don’t be afraid to give something new a try! You may like this way of eating so much that you won’t turn back.

Be sure to check out MeatoutMondays where you’ll find all the nutritional info on this salad and the original version by Alan Roettinger. I tweaked his method and the ingredients slightly, and here is my version:


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  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 16 oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and cut in  thirds, lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1- 2 cloves garlic


Cook 1 cup dry lentils in rice cooker with 2 cups water seasoned with ¼ tsp. sea salt. Optional: add 1 bay leaf and/or 1 garlic clove, minced.
 While lentils cook, prepare dressing:
Mince onion and garlic in mini-food processor/chopper.
Add oil, lemon juice and vinegar and process quickly – just a few seconds should do it. 
Add salt and pepper to your or taste.

  1. Cool lentils and combine with artichokes in a large mixing bowl.  Pour dressing over and toss well. Add fresh parsley, thyme and basil.
  2. We like it chilled well.  Add additional oil and vinegar to suit your taste.

I think next time, I’ll try it with one of our favorites – quinoa – in place of the lentils!


Tis the Christmas extension…

Christine Speno:

Just discovered this blog through a comment on Pudbudder. Check it out!

Originally posted on CharismaticBaking:

Isn’t it rather odd the marvel of meringues? They require only one crucial ingredient with sprinkles of sugar, but then they can be turned into little wonders right? I mean meringue is used on top of cakes, with pies, and simply piped out into perfectly plain little dollops; but amazing is the charm of these dollops! I used their simplicity here and turned them to what I hope they are perceived to be, marvellous.

They are also festive, because we all know Christmas isn’t quite over until the New Year begins. It’s a festive extension!! I made this during Christmas when I was researching festive ideas, looking for that creative streak, I found many; then I came across those plain piped dollops of meringue which, look brilliant… But they lacked Christmas colour and lustre. I wanted something more together-some, nothing individual. So here you have a layered meringue surprise. The…

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Peppermint bark – the perfect project for Day 6 – it’s so easy!

Christine Speno:

Another day in A Pudbudder Holiday. Decided to report from the 6th Day of Christmas. This is on my agenda today. Crushing candy canes right now! Enjoy a little sweetness this holiday:)

Originally posted on Pudbudder - It's all about fun!:

Peppermint candy cane on my scanner

Peppermint candy cane on my scanner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is far one of the easiest ways to add a homemade flair to your holiday goody gifts. Although not a fan of making truffles or fudge, I found that this peppermint bark couldn’t be easier.

The ingredient list is simple:

Start with only the best quality white chocolate chips – I like Ghiradelli, crush some peppermint candy canes, add a little food coloring (optional) and peppermint extract.  Here are the quantities I use:2012-12-19 20.44.25

2 bags Ghiradelli white chocolate chips (11 oz each)

7 – 8 peppermint candy canes

1 tsp peppermint extract – or to your taste

Optional: a drop or two or red food coloring to add a richer color.

  1. Unwrap canes and break into chunks.  Place into a ziplock bag and hammer on a wooden cutting board until candy is crushed into pieces no larger than…

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It’s another day in A Pudbudder Holiday

2013-12-17 17.28.34Writing has been put aside, except for blogging on Pudbudder of course! Christmas is just a week away.  Shopping is getting done, slowly, but surely. Cards are on the list for this week. And those gift projects have got to get done in the next few days. This is the season of homemade and handmade and the perfect time to bake something special for someone on your list.

So today is a baking day for something totally new to me – a vegan cookie.  With a big hint from one of my daughters, I explored the Healthful Pursuit website and blog, latching on to a variety of breakfast cookie recipes.  Now I haven’t had the chance to explore the site in depth, but it appears that all the recipes are gluten-free with many falling into vegan category as well.  If you’re reading, Leanne (founder of Healthful Pursuit), I apologize if I have stated this incorrectly.

What I did see so far were some interesting and taste-tempting and innovative ways of preparing healthy meals.  Those committed to the vegan lifestyle as well as those with food allergies are sure to embrace this site. So be sure to take the time to browse all the great recipes.  You’re sure to find something to try.

Today I’m experimenting with the Quinoa Sweet Potato POW! Breakfast Cookie that will become a gift for my daughter.  I did tweak the recipe a bit, by substituting Light Agave syrup for the maple syrup, cutting it down to 3 tbsps. from the 1/4 cup of maple syrup called for in the recipe.  I also substituted ginger for the cardamom in Leanne’s original recipe.

With my small Cuisinart food chopper out of commission, I used my coffee grinder to grind the flax seed, and it worked like a charm.  You can, of course, purchase ground flax seed, but I’m a “back to basics” kind of cook and like to start with the raw product as much as possible.

I found that mixing the dough needed a little “hands on” action, and so I mixed the dough with my fingers after using a fork.  I also pinched off  tablespoon-sized balls of dough with my fingers, rolled into balls and flattened slightly.

After a morning trip to Richard’s Foodporium in Palm Coast, I was stocked with gluten-free flour, dairy-free/vegan chocolate chips, some golden flax seed and of course one of my favorites — quinoa.  Here’s my version:

Quinoa Sweet Potato Cookie

(adapted from

In a rice cooker, cook ¾ cup raw quinoa with 1 ½ cups water.  DO NOT SALT. Allow to stand for a while after cooked, then spread on a cookie sheet to completely cool.  As Healthful Pursuit points out, this keeps the chips from melting when you mix everything together.

While the quinoa is cooling, whisk together in a bowl:

½ cup baked, mashed sweet potato

3 tbsp Light Agave Syrup

2 tsps. Vanilla (my regular readers will know that I make my own, using vanilla beans and Vodka – find my method in the post at this link 

2 tbsp. grapeseed or olive oil (substitute any vegetable-based oil)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ginger

In another bowl, whisk together

1 cup gluten-free flour

¼ cup ground flaxseed

When quinoa has cooled, measure 1 ½ cups of the quinoa with   the dry ingredients and mix well, being sure to coat all of the quinoa with the flour/flax seed mixture.  Then add the sweet potato/spice mixture to the dry, ingredients, mixing well, using your fingers if necessary.

Form into balls, using approximately a tablespoon of the dough, pressing down slightly to form a flat cookie.  Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheet at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then move to a cooling rack.

Thanks to  Healthful Pursuit for bringing this recipe to us and for giving us better food choices. Be sure to check out their blog for more tips and recipes!

See you next time for another chapter of A Pudbudder Holiday.

A Pudbudder Holiday

Last year I did the Twelve Days of Pudbudder.  Since today is already the 15th of the month, I’m a little late to start the Twelve Days for 2013, so I’ll cut it short and just call it A Pudbudder Holiday.

We all embrace this time of the year with good cheer, smiles (mostly) and just a better attitude toward everyone around us.  Too bad we can’t preserve this throughout the year. But I am trying!  I hope all of my readers are too :)

So why am I behind? Well as usual, I am trying to manage too many projects at the same time.  That’s pretty easy to do at this time of the year.  After a feverish attempt at putting final touches on my long-term Cookbook/Family Memoir project, I’ve once again decided it just won’t make it for Christmas gifts, but on the bright side, I’ve made great progress on it and have learned some new InDesign techniques along the way. The key to my success actually revolves around joining the gym.  Yep, you read that correctly.

So here’s my strategy:

  • Go to You Tube and research Indesign Tip and Tutorials.
  • Throw them into my YouTube Favorites folder
  • Head to the gym. Get on the treadmill and plug my iPhone into my headset and tune in to those tutorials while I do my treadmill time.

This has worked great: I’ m staying in shape and learning — all at the same time.  Love it!

Although my Cookbook is still not ready for the printer or an ePub file, I’ve made great strides on the design. My next step is to break down my book into several documents and develop a book file so that I can better control the final product. This is a backwards way to approach this, but I know better for the next book layout that I take on. I have great hopes for this project and many more in the future….  Wish me luck!

This may be more information than you want or need to know, but I feel it is important  to share so you know why my time has been stressed.  And stressed time means simpler meals. So here’s a quick, easy and health recipe to help get you through.

You’ve heard me brag about Quinoa here before.  It’s a great source of protein, filling and versatile.  You can turn it into a side dish or make it a main meal depending on the ingredients you add to it. Check out my original quinoa post here.

Much like creating style sheets in Word or InDesign where you base a new sheet on an existing one, I’ve carried that method into cooking.  I took my original quinoa recipe and blended it with a new one.  It fits right into vegetarian/vegan diets too.  For a non-vegetarian choice, add shrimp or chicken. Here it is:

Black Bean Quinoa

Black Bean Quinoa

Black Bean Quinoa

Cook one cup of Quinoa in rice cooker with ½ tsp sea salt and 1 1/2 cups water.  When done, allow quinoa to  cool and dry out on a cookie sheet.  Meanwhile prepare dressing by whisking together:

1 large clove of garlic, minced

2 tbsp. white wine or plain rice vinegar or combination

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Pour dressing over cooled quinoa and add grape tomatoes, sliced in half and 1 can drained black beans.  Add ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley, reserving some for top as a garnish.

Refrigerate to let flavors blend.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Perfect with a little extra vinegar or fresh-squeezed lime juice at serving time.

Hope you enjoy it and see you for the next post in the Pudbudder Holiday series!


Mangos and peppers were made for each other….

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Tonight we’re having guests for dinner.  A simple menu: Orange Roughy lightly  dredged in egg and milk than coated with Panko to which I’ve added some finely grated Asiago Parmesan.  This is then cooked in a grill pan in our … Continue reading

Things I Learned at The Inspired Mic

Christine Speno:

A great post from Tim Baker – a regular presenter at The Inspired Mic brought to you by Words Etc. and Clearview Press! Thanks Tim!

Originally posted on blindoggbooks:

The community I call home (Flagler Beach, Florida – even though I technically live next door in Palm Coast) has a fantastic creative element.

Authors and artists of all types live here, and in the past couple of years have gravitated to each other and are really starting to make their presence known.

I’m writing to tell you about one of the events that is bringing attention to some great local talent and also to tell you of some very valuable lessons I’ve learned at said event.

programIt’s called The Inspired Mic and it’s basically an open mic night for authors, poets and anybody else who has something to share (there have been magicians, mentalists and musicians as well).

Each presenter gets five minutes of mic-time to share their material.

The event takes place on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at a fantastic little eatery called The BeachHouse…

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Congratulations to Palm Coast poets

Christine Speno:

so proud of our local poets!

Originally posted on FWA Palm Coast Chapter:

Hello Palm Coast FWA members and friends!

Last Sunday afternoon the Ancient City Poets held a great open mic poetry event at The Gallery Cafe.  We are proud that Palm Coast and the Flagler area was well-presented. Thanks to Chris Bodor founder of Poet Plant Press for making this possible.  Angelo and I were on  board to cheer on our very own Tovah Janovsky.  Great job Tovah and thank for sharing your poem on your blog for all to enjoy!  Find it at this link

Congratulations to all the readers from Flagler:

Tovah Janovsky, Palm Coast

Robert Waldner, Palm Coast

Evelyn Fountain, Palm Coast

Robert McClary, Hammock

Here’s a glimpse of the afternoon!

And next time you’re in St. Augustine, be sure to check out this great cafe.  It’s cozy and quaint and has great food and catering.

See you next time and keep…

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