Empty Pantry Pasta Salad

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It had happened again. My husband and I stood in the kitchen, with every last cabinet door flung open and there was nothing to eat, nothing to fix. We sighed heavily, looked tired, and succumbed to arguing about bills and menu plans while the kids whined loudly in the background about how hungry they were.

There was no money with which to eat out, so a quick grocery store run was also out of the question. What to do? I stared again into the cabinets, making a mental inventory of what was left: One box of bow-tie noodles, one small can of sliced black olives intended and never used for some other recipe. Anything else? A box of croutons, one can of diced tomatoes, and one can of red beans. “Hey”, I interrupted my husband, “I think I may be on to something here.” I’m not a really good cook, but I am a great planner and my enthusiasm spread as I began pulling out the ingredients. My husband, a really good cook but a terrible planner, began hunting up herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil for a dressing.

We had a very satisfying dinner that evening, made all the more fun by our sudden burst of creativity. “We should write this one down”, I said with my mouth full of pasta and beans. And “Empty Pantry Pasta Salad” was born (pretty photo coming).

Empty Pantry Pasta Salad

1 box of bow-tie noodles

1 8oz can diced tomatoes

1 4oz can diced or sliced black olives

1 8-10oz can Red beans

2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. Dill

1 tsp. Oregano

Drizzle of Olive oil

Optional: Bacon pieces, croutons, Parmesan cheese, favorite dressing

Cook noodles till tender, drain. Drain red beans, drain tomatoes. Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart or larger bowl and stir till well-mixed. Eat and enjoy, but don’t talk with your mouth full (like I did).


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Why So Cereus? Photography Adventures After Dark Series: Part 1

It was 11 o’clock at night.

I raced down the street with my camera gear after being tipped off by a neighbor about some once-in-a-lifetime shots unfolding right then, practically in my own backyard.

I crouched down in the dark, twisting my body for the best angles as my neighbor, a fellow photographer, held a tiny LED flashlight so I could see to focus. “Oh wow!” “Look at that!” “I’ve never seen anything like it before!” “What is that!?” “Look over there!”

We leaned in, wedged uncomfortably on her back patio between pots of exotic plants and snapped away for an hour as the drama unfolded before us.

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I wore a long-sleeved shirt to stave off mosquitoes, and while it was unseasonably cool for August, I was by no means chilly. The humidity was so intense my eye glasses kept fogging up, but without them I couldn’t focus the camera with precision.

The shadows around us were intense, made more so by the occasional flashes from my camera. I was sweating, my back ached, and bugs buzzed in my ears, but I was so thankful for this opportunity and my neighbor’s accommodation.

It was spectacular and for one night only. The unusual desert plant called “The Night-Blooming Cereus” is a member of the cactus family, and it blooms for just one night out of the entire year. By morning the large, white, heavenly-scented flower before me would be wilted and have dropped off its stem forever.

The flower itself was the size of a dinner plate with pure white petals at the front, and maroon-tipped petals toward the stem. The stamen looked uncannily like a sea-star and stretched out from the back of the bloom as if the Cereus were sticking out its tongue.

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I photographed this beautiful, typically desert-dwelling flower for an entire hour as the silent drama unfolded before my neighbor and I. When my back couldn’t take it anymore and my arms shook with fatigue, I finally stood up to stretch and pack up my gear. Before leaving, I turned towards the Cereus and made a little bow. What a show!

Want to see more Night Blooming Cereus Photos? Click here.IMG_2697_nightbloomingcereus_1a_updated_watermark

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Cinnamon and Silver Supports The Global Soap Project

ImageI was teaching my young son about the importance of hand-washing recently, when I came across an article that highlighted a charity called The Global Soap Project.

The article began by interviewing a woman from Sudan who works as a cleaning lady at an American Hilton Hotel. She held up a gently used bar of soap and described just how valuable a thing it was in her country. In some parts of the world, a bar of soap costs more than a days’ wages!

I became so enthusiastic reading about this charity which partners with hotels to retrieve their gently used soap (which would otherwise be thrown away). Basically, the bars are sent to a processing plant in Atlanta, GA where they are stripped, checked for bacteria, and when they receive a clean bill of health, the bars are cut up and sent to certain nations in Africa, South America, and The Caribbean.

An emphasis of the program is targeting children and caregivers, as well as hygiene education. I love that this organization works to reduce waste, while at the same time saving lives with such a simple, little thing as soap. Currently, they only partner with hotels for soap, but they will accept financial contributions and volunteers. With that in mind, I am excited to announce that Cinnamon & Silver will now donate a portion of our proceeds to The Global Soap Fund.

Read more about it here: Global Soap Project

Do you know of a hotel that could sign up for this project?

10 Simple and Unique Beaded Craft Ideas

I am always on the lookout for new crafting ideas with beads. For me, beaded crafts don’t have to be limited to jewelry, but they do have to be somewhat unique, simple, and use all or at least most of items I already have. Here are few of my favorite latest finds from internet land:

I carry small packs of beads and findings in the supplies section of my store, if you want to try these crafts and need some supplies.

1. Pony Bead Awareness Pendants or Keychainswine

2. Pony Bead and Chainmaille Awareness Bracelet

3. Snowflake Ornament with Paddle Wheel Beads

4. Starflake Bouquet

5. Rainbow Tri-Bead Hoop Earrings

6. Black and Gold Tribead Choker Necklace

7. Tri-Bead Nightlight Cover

8. Streamer Barettes with Tri-Beads

9. Illuminated Bead Bottles

10. Melted Mosaic Pony Bead Suncatchers