Watercolor Lazuli Bunting

lazuli bunting

I am a bit obsessed with watercolor lately…

My youngest son told my oldest son last week when he was over – “Paint, paint, paint – not so many cookies being baked around here – Mom’s too busy painting!”

Of course they were teasing – like they constantly do to me…  (I’ve come to realize it is their way of expressing their love – at least that is what I’ve convinced myself of to maintain sanity!)

But – I do become a bit obsessed with things… (and I am on vacation this week, so scheduled a few posts ahead)

So – when I recently posted my Papa Cardinal watercolor, a sweet blogger friend, Deborah @ CircadianReflections commented how lovely it was and how she wished cardinals were in her area of the world.

I asked Deborah what her favorite was.

When she commented it was a Lazuli Bunting….
I had no idea.
So I Googled,
and I feel in love with this precious little blue bird.

So here is my interpretation of this beautiful little bird that graces the West Coast of the United States…
but not Mars.

Hope it does a teensy bit of justice to this glorious creature.
Thanks for sharing with me Deborah!

Cheers & Hugs,

Homemade Basil Pesto

basil 0715

It’s not easy being green….

unless you are yummy homemade basil pesto sauce!

I have an abundance of basil in my garden this year (for once!), and decided to try my hand at homemade pesto.

basil 2 0715

So I picked a bunch – oooooh the glorious smell! There is seriously nothing like (except maybe rosemary!)

pesto marcona almonds and garlic
Then I added some fresh garlic and a handful of Marcona almonds I had (as I didn’t have pine nuts on hand).  These made a great sub!

Marcona almonds are imported from Spain. They are shorter, rounder, softer, and sweeter than the California variety. They are blanched and roasted in olive oil, then sprinkled with sea salt, making for a truly delicious flavor if you have never tried.

parmesan grated for pesto

Olive oil, salt, pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese are the only other things you need to make this amazing fresh sauce that goes great on a caprese sandwich or as a pasta sauce, pizza topping, or chicken marinade around here.


We especially like it on orzo pasta.

Here’s the recipe.  Enjoy!

Homemade Basil Pesto

  • Servings: approximately 1 cup
  • Print


  •  2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)pesto
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup marcona almond or pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste (freshly ground is best)

Combine the basil, garlic, nuts, and olive oil in food processor or blender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into a bowl, and gently mix in the parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately over pasta, chicken or fish, on a caprese sandwich, as a pizza topping or use as a marinade.

Cheers and Hugs,


Here’s Looking at You

PP254 Frames

Hi All – I am on a little vacation this week.  A fun trip to the beach with some girlfriends from GFC (Girlfriend Camp).

I thought it would be fun to send Hubby a little card while I am gone to let him know I miss him.

pp254 inside

The challenge this week at The Paper Players is to make a CAS (Clean and Simple) Card with the theme: “Frames.”

The first thing I thought of was glass frames as Hubby and I are at that fun stage in life where we are always looking for our reading glasses and/or sharing each others.

pp254 frames close up

And… After 33 years, my heart still does stop and skip a beat when he looks at me.  ❤

Hence the design for this week’s Paper Players Design Team Inspiration Card.

Here’s what I used and how I made it.

Card Recipe/Ingredients:

I simly drew and watercolored a heart on a piece of watercolor paper, splattered it a bit, and stamped the sentiment on with Stazon JetBlack Ink.

I then die cut the glasses out and put a thin layer of Crystal Accents for a glossy accent on them.  When that dried, I adhered it with small glue dots, and assembled the layers on the card.

I added a little line heart on the inside from StampinUp’s Hello Life Stamp Set.

So – Here’s looking at you, Merv.  And if you look back, I might wink.  😉

Cheers and Hugs,


A Pork Chop in Every Bottle of Beer

watercolor pork chop in every bottle of beer

So we have a friend…

We’ll call him “Rodney,” because – hey – his name IS Rodney.

Rodney’s 60th birthday was this past week, and he is one of our buddies at our local “Cheers” here in Mars called “John’s Bar.”

John’s Bar is hubby’s and my Thursday night date most weeks, and we have a gang of regular buddies we hang out with.

Rodney is one of them.

Rodney has a secret to maintaining his “girlish” figure – – – and I daresay he is quite a good looking boy for his ripe ole’ age of 60.

Rodney’s drink of choice is beer.  Lite Beer.  Coors Light Beer.

Sometimes beer is his dinner.

Because you see Rodney’s philosophy is “there is a pork chop in every bottle.”

rodney birthday card pork chop in every bottle of beer

So I made this silly little fun watercolor card for Rodney’s birthday.

watercolor pork chop in every bottle of beer 2

Of course this is all in jest.  Rodney usually has a nourishing meal to go with his pork chop.   

Happy Birthday Dear Rodney!  Love ya Buddy!

Cheers & Hugs,



Happy Anniversary #5 Dad

Best Day Ever Brusho 2

Five years ago today – on 7/17/10 (isn’t that a great date?) – I was reunited with my Dad (my birth father Dad).

I’m smiling remembering that day.

How excited we both were…
How nervous we both were…

The tears,
The laughter,
The memories,
The hugs,
The joy.

My heart has a funny feeling I just can’t describe with words as I write this.

How do you describe 38 years of wondering?

Wondering why?
Wondering if he thinks of me?
Wondering what he would think of me if he met me?
Wondering if he would love me?

Well – No more wondering five years later.

And though nothing can replace the loss of those 38 years, we can certainly move forward and enjoy each day.

And now – after five years of catching up – it’s almost like we were never apart.

Happy Anniversary Dad!

Thank you for explaining the why,
letting my know how much you did think of me,
making me feel special and beautiful,
and for loving me.

This will always be our special day, and I hope we have many more!

Love you,

Refreshing Blackberry Mojito Cocktails

blackberry mojitos

What’s a girl to do…

on a hot summer weekend afternoon…
with a handful of blackberries…
and a hot hubby?

(Hot after mowing the lawn, but perhaps hot in THAT way too!)

Not enough berries for a pie and no promise of enough more to forage at the end of the season…

Why make mojitos of course!


This was my first try at making this yummy cocktail, but it turned out so delish!  Hubby and I prefer vodka to rum, but you could make yours with rum if you prefer.  I also didn’t have club soda, so used Pellegrino Sparkling Water, which made a wonderful sub.

blackberry mojito
Here’s how I made it. (Inspired by a recipe I saw made by Alison at A Girl Defloured)

Blackberry Mojito Cocktail


  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 ripe lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 2 shots (and then some…) vodka (or rum)
  • Sparking Water or Club Soda


  • Muddle the blackberries, 1/2 of lime cut into chunks, mint leaves and sugar until all is smashed and crushed and blended in a cocktail shaker.
  • Add the vodka (or rum) and ice, and shake it like you mean it!
  • Strain into two glasses or copper mugs filled with ice, and then pour a bit of the unstrained berries into each glass.
  • Top off with sparkling or soda water, a fresh mint leaf or two, and a nice wedge of lime.


Cheers & Hugs,

My First Jewish Wedding


On July 4th, Hubby and I went to our First Jewish Wedding.

Thanks to our dear friends, Pam and Glenn, who we met 17 years ago on a plane to Puerto Rico, we have learned and experienced so many wonderful traditions and celebrations in the Jewish culture.

Pam (who we fondly refer to as “Bub” or even more affectionately “the Bubster”), has exposed us to and invited us to join them in bar mitzvahs (both of her sons and her dear hubby), bat mitzvah (their daughter), Passover (with family and friends), Chanukah (gifts and foods and cards), and now, one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies we have ever attended.


We have watched Kyle grow into an amazing young man, and we have fallen in love with sweet Anna along with Kyle.  Theirs is a love that was destined to be despite the difference in religious backgrounds.  You see, Kyle is Jewish and Anna was raised Catholic.  (Much like Pam and Glenn where Pam was Jewish and Glenn was Catholic).  The wedding ceremony for both, however, was a Jewish ceremony.  This was a Reformed Jewish Temple and Ceremony as opposed to Orthodox, so I’m sure there may be many differences that I am not educated enough in the religion to discuss.

But I thought I would share what a beautiful ceremony Kyle and Anna celebrated and the deep, beautiful meaning behind the symbolism.


The structure that Kyle and Anna stood under on the altar – along with both sets of parents, Best Man and Maid of Honor – is called a Chuppah.  The chuppah symbolizes the first home for the new couple.  It is open on all sides to welcome family and friends who will support the couple as they begin their life together.  It was beautiful to hear them recite their own, hand-written, very personal and very endearing vows to each other.


The heart of the Jewish wedding ceremony is The Seven Wedding Blessings.  Themes of joy and celebration and the power of love are expressed while the number 7 reminds all of the seven days of creation.  The first blessing begins with Kiddush and the final blessing culminates with the image of the community singing and celebrating with the bride and groom.

kAG 7

Anna and Kyle created a very special Ketubah in a photo of the two of them with many special words on it.  Ketubah means that which is written and was an ancient contract – written in Aramaic (the language of the time) – as a guarantee of monetary compensation in the event of the dissolution of the marriage.  In present day, the Ketubah represents emotional love, trust and commitment to one another.  The Ketubah is signed by the couple and witnesses prior to the actual wedding ceremony.


The Kiddush is the blessing over the wine.  The first cup symbolizes the cup of life to be shared together.  This blessing is combined with the ancient betrothal part of the ceremony.  Laurel Barr, the Officiant of the Wedding, who was also the cantor for Kyle’s bar mitzvah over a decade ago, performed the ceremony in such a sweet and humorous and personal way that all of us there could not help but share in the joy.


I loved how the whole ceremony involved both families the entire time culminating with hugs and prayers,

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and wrapping Kyle and Anna in Kyle’s bar mitzvah prayer shawl.  It truly brought tears to my eyes.

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And, of course, the ceremony concluded with the ancient tradition  of breaking the wine glass.  The meaning of this is somewhat controversial.  One common explanation is that breaking the glass is a symbol of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.  Also, the shards of glass are plentiful, and this can represent the hope for abundant happiness in life.

KAG 12

The long-awaited kiss was welcomed with cheers and tears and smiles.

Here is the happy couple.

KAG 13

And our dear, sweet Bubby and Glenn ❤

KAG 14

followed by Kyle’s sister, Ally,

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and brother, Bryan.  All smiles as they joyfully welcome our beloved Anna into the family.

KAG 16

The reception was so much fun!  We were immediately greeted with a SWEET candy bar featuring bowls full of favorites,

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and take-out containers for midnight snacks.

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Though there was no cookie table as is tradition in our Pittsburgh/Mars region, there were plenty of sweet treats between the candy

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and the beautiful cake and pastries.

KAG 20

We had a very special table.  The BEST table at the wedding!  Table #14.

Table #14 featured a picture of Kyle at 14 years old (as well as one of Anna on the other side at 14).  This was the year our families had a Football bet between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, who were vying in the playoffs for the Super Bowl position.  The family bet was that whoever’s team won had to send all their team’s paraphernalia they owned (sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, towels, etc.) to the other family – and that family had to wear it to work and school one day that week.  Well, our dear Griffith family lost – but they sure had fun with it.  In fact, they made us a complete album of photos with each of them wearing their Steelers shirt or hat in school, with their class mates, with their work friends, even a family photo of them “mooning” us in their shirts!  (You’ll have to visit to see that one!)

This one at Table #14 was Kyle pretending to flush our sacred Steelers Terrible Towel down the toilet!

KAG 21

It was fun to watch them do a traditional Hora chair dance where the groomsmen carried each of them up high and everyone danced around them.  Kyle recorded the whole thing with his GoPro.

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And we all hooped and hollered!  And I danced well beyond 20,000 steps on my FitBit that evening!

KAG 23

The day after, Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom just happened to show up at breakfast in coordinating black and white chevron outfits – and matching smiles!

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And when I expressed to the family that this was our first Jewish Wedding, Anna, the new bride, said,

“Me too!”

We smiled and hugged.

Jodi and Marty KAG wedding 0715

Thanks for letting us be part of it dear Griffith and Genova family!

We love you!

Cheers & Hugs,


Copycat Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich

copycat chick-fil-a chicken sandwich.1jpg

Are you ready for another AMAZING Chicken Recipe?!?!

(My youngest son recently commented:  “too much painting – not enough cooking on the blog!”)

So… since he and I LOVE chicken for dinner….

and he requested this…

and our oldest son and our daughter-in-law were coming over last evening….

It was time to break down and make this YUMMY recipe!

If you love Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwiches…  I promise – all your dreams have just come true!

I very rarely eat fast food.

But when I do…  a Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich is my go-to FAVE!

And I am super excited to share that I discovered a recipe that totally replicates this best of best chicken sandwich thanks to one of my favorite food bloggers Damn Delicious!

And if you don’t have a Chick-Fil-A near you – or have never tried – this is so easy and perfectly replicates the original, you need look no further.

Are you ready for the most juicy, flavorful, amazing chicken sandwich possible?

Here is the recipe shared by Chungah at Damn Delicious.  (Of course, I doubled the recipe, and have lots of yummy leftovers!)

Copycat Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich

Ingredients:copycat chick-fil-a chicken sandwich.1jpg

  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 20 dill pickle slices
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup dill pickle juice
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, divided
  • 1 cup peanut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Place a chicken breast on a cutting board. With your hand flat on top of it, carefully slice the chicken in half horizontally. Trim excess fat as needed.
  • In a large shallow baking dish, combine chicken, pickle juice and 1/2 cup milk; marinate for at least 30 minutes. (I marinated for 8 hours in the refrigerator) Drain well.
  • Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • In another large shallow baking dish, whisk together remaining 1 cup milk and egg. Stir in chicken to coat and drain excess milk mixture.
  • In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken, flour and confectioners’ sugar; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Working in batches, add chicken to the skillet and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Serve chicken immediately on burger buns with green leaf lettuce, tomato and pickle.  (I added a splash of Yum Yum Sauce, which I think closely resembles Chick-Fil-A sauce for the little extra YUM!)


Cheers & Hugs,


Cause, baby, you’re a firework


This past weekend was our local Cranberry Township Community Days.

One of the highlights of this event is the fireworks display that occurs on the last evening of the three-day celebration.

Cranberry Township Community Day used to occur on July 4th (Independence Day) every year, so the fireworks display has become a tradition and symbol of this celebration.

Hubby works for Cranberry Township.   So for the past 15 or so years, we have had front row “reserved” seats for the show.

In fact, we are so close that we have been hit with ash and get to “enjoy” the sulfur smell of the explosives as they light up the sky.

It’s all part of the fun and adventure!

Photographing fireworks is quite difficult.  I should have researched and studied a bit, and I should’ve taken a tripod!

But here is one that represents a snippet of the fun and beauty of the night.

It was a great show, and a great celebration of a wonderful community.

I hope you had an enjoyable weekend – finding time to relax and celebrate – all the traditions, symbols, and activities that make life so sweet – at life in between.

Cheers & Hugs,


A Happy Thing – Forever and for all Eternity

A Happy Thing Forever and for all Eternity

Happy Sunday Friends!  Time to share my design inspiration for The Paper Players Challenge this week.

This week is a color challenge (PP253) with these cool colors.


My card today is a special one, because it is an anniversary card for my oldest son and daughter-in-law who are celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary tomorrow.

So hard to believe it has been two years already in one breath…  And then funny to think it is only two years as I feel like Colleen has been my daughter-in-law forever.  🙂

For my card, I used the StampinUp Happy Thing Stamp Set for the bird and Paper Smooches Pretty Phrases for the sentiment.  Some pretty colored paper and DSP from StampinUp, a little bit of watercoloring, a few candy dot embellishments, and a tiny bow of linen thread completed this card for our two happy lovebirds.

Happy Anniversary dear Jake and Colleen… forever and for all eternity!

I couldn’t love you any more… forever and for all eternity.