via Flickr and Domino

via Domino

via Sunset
via Sunset

via Better Homes and Gardens

via Better Homes and Gardens

via Sunset

via Sunset

via The Inspired Room

All of these patios are beautiful. Well, I can dream anyway. Have a great weekend!

Recipe for Risotto with Sauteed Shrimp, Corn, and Fresh Basil

We had this for dinner last night. I love this recipe, and so does the rest of the family. Below is the original recipe from Sara Foster when it was published in Cottage Living Magazine. I make one change to the original....instead of using the arborio rice for the risotto, I use Orzo Pasta. I really like using Orzo because it absorbs liquid while cooking just like the arborio rice....but you don't have to kill yourself with the stirring. I also like that the orzo tastes buttery, but not quite as rich as the arborio. Anyway, which ever way you like it, just add the chicken broth about a cup at a time, so the rice/or orzo can absorb it.

We had a salad on the side...and Trader Joe's Cornbread - yum!


Risotto with Sautéed Shrimp, Corn, and Fresh Basil

Prep: 20 minutes; Cook: 33 minutes.

Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade), divided (see Test Kitchen Tip, below)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper
4 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine (such as Chardonnay)
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. In a large mixing bowl, toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and 3 basil leaves. Sauté shrimp in 2 batches, if necessary, to prevent overcrowding. Cook about 1 minute per side, and remove from pan; place on a platter, cover loosely, and set aside.
2. Reduce heat to medium, and heat remaining olive oil and butter in the same pan. Add onion, and sauté, stirring frequently, 2 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add garlic and red pepper, and sauté, stirring constantly, 1 minute more.
3. Bring broth to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn off heat, cover, and keep warm.
4. Add rice to onion mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until grains are well coated and the outsides turn translucent. (Do not let rice brown.) Add white wine, and cook 30 seconds or until most of it evaporates.
5. Add 1 cup chicken broth, and stir constantly until mostly absorbed. Add additional broth in 1-cup increments, stirring after each addition until most of the broth is absorbed. Stop adding broth when rice appears to be saturated. (You may not need all 5 cups broth.) Cook, stirring frequently, 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender and creamy but not mushy.
6. Stir in corn, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Stir in shrimp and any collected juices. Reduce heat to low, and cook until warm, not more than 1 minute. Add a little more chicken broth if risotto gets too dry. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan and remaining basil. Season with additional sea salt and pepper, if desired. Top with remaining Parmesan, and serve warm.

Test Kitchen Tip: "Chiffonade" may sound fancy and French, but it's just a fast, easy way to cut thin, even strips of basil or any other leafy green: Stack the leaves, roll them lengthwise (like a cigar), and carefully chop crosswise.


My "not so magazine worthy" entry table...

An entry table filled with things that make me happy...

After seeing the posts of entry tables... I thought I'd share mine... I love my entry table. I am sure you have never seen one like it in magazines. I've always dreamed about a great entry that would bring "oohs" and "aahhs" as people entered my home. But I started to think about it. I love everything on that table. There is a print from Laguna Beach (which is my favorite place in the world). I love the "F" painting Ashlyn made me and hand delivered to my home one day... just because. The trophy from my kids that says "World's Best Mom 2003" on it (which I moved today from my studio to my front entry... should be fun to see friends reactions... because I think every mom deserves a trophy!). I have rocks (one from our beach place, one that is written on with a Sharpie pen and another one that has a ring around it... called a "wishing rock"). Along side those rocks sits a little, cute starfish. It makes me think of summer! Then there is a cool bird house I got from a wonderful little shop in Oregon that is no longer open. This bird house is sparkly and fun. Notice the candle? It is from Tommy Bahama. I light it almost every night. I love the scent Maui Mango and it makes me think of Palm Desert. I buy a candle in their shop on El Paseo every November. There is a print from my cousin Christinea Johnson (titled... Always do your best...) that I have been meaning to frame. And you will see I also need to frame an article from a 2003 Oprah magazine. It is from her last page (What I know for sure) and is titled... "Live so that at the end of each day, you can say, 'I did my very best'". These all sit on an entry table that my friend Candace gave me years ago. I love it and hope she doesn't want it back any time soon :). And the mirror is from my Grandma Betsy's house. She gave it to me when she was very sick... she eventually passed away and it makes me think of her often. If you look closely you can see my daughter's self portrait (from 5 years ago) that sits on our bookshelf in the family room.
I do love my entry table.... silly things and all!


Farmhouse remodel on HGTV's Sarah's House

Master bathroom

Have you watched Sarah's House on HGTV? I didn't watch the past seasons, but I started watching Season 3. Sarah bought an old farmhouse in Canada and is remodeling the entire thing room by room. I really like the kitchen and master bathroom re-dos. I especially loved the kitchen. I think the Cath Kidson oilcloth fabric on the kitchen stools is really cool. It is hard to see in the photos that the fabric is oilcloth...but it is. That definitely would come in handy with kids!

Woo Hoo... What A Ride!

Gotta love the ride!!!
After Ashlyn's posts with her super fun home (I absolutely love her entry way), I decided to walk around my own home. I've always wanted a look from Coastal Living or Domino Magazine, but in the end it turned out to be my own unique style. It's filled with things I love. I have bowls of fun things, lots of candles, art my kids have made over the years, tons of photos of family and friends and vacation spots, many quotes from Oprah and a little palm tree out front (her name is "hula girl"). And of course there is the studio... clean one day... messy the next... filled with tshirts and canvases and projects waiting to be finished. It's a home filled with lots of action and I wouldn't have it any other way... you can ask my friends!!! As an artist I do have to say I have my own unique style. Most of my art comes from words.... hence the title "word artist" that I gave myself years ago. And yes, I have to explain it every time someone asks. This painting was a self portrait of me years ago. I have been blond, brunette and everything in between. I have had long nails, but now have short nails because they are usually covered with paint. I used to own a little black cocktail dress, but now it's usually jeans and flip flops. But even now.... I have to confess..... This Girl Deserves A Party!!!
- Tracy


House Crush

I love the casual, light feel of this house featured in Coastal Living Magazine. It is full of quirky, vintage, kid friendly, finds. I love that it looks like everything evolved over time. Nothing looks forced....just fresh.


An "Apple" for Earth Day...

An APPLE for Apple (happy Earth Day)...
This is a painting I made in 2005 for Apple Paltrow Martin (daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin). It has always been my goal to get it to her. I have asked people I know to try to reach her. I have even had someone bring a photo of it to a Cold Play concert in Chicago where it actually made it onto the stage, but a band member threw it out into the audience where people screamed thinking they just got something from the band. That was funny; I do have to admit. ...And I have wished.... but it still sits in my studio. So for now it is for the world to enjoy on Earth Day. And one of these days Apple Paltow Martin will get to enjoy her APPLE painting.
ps... Apple, if you are reading this, please contact me at my website. I would like you to have it............ thank you!

Happy Earth day

Earth Day
Earth Day by ashlynsam on


cupcakes for dinner?

Whoever said you can't have cupcakes for dinner?

It was just one of those days.... The kids were busy. Greg was still at work. I had a moment to myself so I looked at my list of "50 things to do before I am 50" and noticed one of the items was achievable that day... Bake the KEY LIME CAKE from Trisha Yearwood's recipe in the April issue of Redbook Magazine. I bought the ingredients. I even purchased real Key Limes (didn't realize they were so little.... and took a lot longer than real limes to squeeze). I thought it would be fun to make them into cupcakes. After all, I rarely feel bad while eating a cupcake... . but a cake??? Guilt would set in! So, cupcake it was!!! I poured the batter into the cups and still had some left over. Why not also bake a mini cake. I needed a prop for our photo shoot the next day anyway. The only "mini" pan I could find was a springform pan. Yes, the batter will leak out the bottom... and yes, it will puff up on the sides and collapse in the middle. That must be why Trisha Yearwood did not list springform pan anywhere in her recipe instructions. When all was said and done, the cupcakes were adorable and the mini cake was funny looking. Once I frosted them, I thought to myself... why didn't I follow the actual instructions and make a beautiful 3-layer can I fill that hole in the center of the mini cake. Hmmm.... coconut... toasted coconut! It was my own addition to the cake. Low and behold it all looked fabulous (at least to me). The best part? I got to share the cake with friends (thanks Ashlyn for having us to dinner... and thanks for the photos, Bradie... we had a blast). I also got to cross off one of my "50" items from my list. And did I mention my family thought I was amazing? Then of course.... last, but certainly not least, I got to eat a cupcake for dinner.... no protein... no veggies.... just a delicious cupcake!

from Redbook Magazine (April 2010)
1 3oz. pkg lime flavored gelatin
1 1/3 c. granulated sugar
2 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. orange juice
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. key lime juice
(from about 25 small key limes or 4 large regular limes)
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour three 9" round cake pans. In a large mixing bowl, mix the gelatin, sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to mix well. Add the eggs, OJ, lemon juice and vanilla. Divide the batter evenly into the cake pans. Bake 35-40 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes then turn out onto racks. While the layers are still hot, mix the lime juice and confectioner's sugar together. Pour over layers on racks. Poke cake with fork holes to allow glaze to soak in. Cool cake completely before icing.
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, room temp.
1 8oz. bkg. cream cheese, room temp.
1 1lb. box of confectioner's sugar
Cream the butter and cream cheese. Beat in confectioner's sugar until smooth. Spread icing between layers. Stack layers and frost top and sides of cake.
Tracy's version.... Add 2 c. toasted coconut to top. Refrigerate. Delish!



From highpriestesschaos on Etsy

highpriestesschaos on Etsy
These just made us laugh today!!
Tracy and Ashlyn


Fun Entryways/Foyers

photo via House Beautiful

photo via Coastal Living

photo via Country Living

photo via Domino Magazine via

One side of my entryway.

I love entryways with fun, high impact colors. For my entryway, I decided to paint an old dresser that used to be in one of my daughter's bedroom. I picked the color Sweet Vibrations from Benjamin Moore. I think it was one of the Pottery Barn colors. I wish I had a before picture...but, sadly I don't. At the moment, I love everything green....and I love how the dresser turned out. I think it makes a fun first impression in the entry.


Summer Dreaming

Beach days and watching my girls skimboard! Can't wait.



Fabric flower pin

I made my first flower pin today. I looked at some posts on blogs for templates etc...and ended up just kind of making it up as I went along. One of my daughters agreed to pose with it on. I think she might even wear it to school tomorrow!


We decided to start this blog to document the things that we are passionate about....our families, art, food, recipes, hobbies, decorating, our new fledgling jewelry business called Trash Trunk...and anything else that we can think of. We are excited to begin, and see where the process leads. So here's to what lies ahead, and the friendships along the way.

Tracy and Ashlyn
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