Seashell Necklace




Last year, while walking along a beach, I noticed some bright flecks of color in the sand. I bent over to take a closer look and discovered that the beach was strewn with tiny shells freshly washed up from the sea. Since they were so new, the colors hadn’t faded or chipped away yet. They reminded me of snowflakes – each one unique and beautiful, with its own intricate pattern. It made sense, since the same Artist made these shells and snowflakes. I collected a few, washed them, and strung them together to make this necklace.

Sunset at Ocean Beach

Acrylic on paper, 2008

This is a painting of a memory.  Several years ago I was at the beach and walked along the shore looking for shells with friends.  We found more jellyfish than shells.  The ocean looked so gray in spite of the clear sky.  I remember seeing a complete rainbow form at the horizon when the sun had almost completely set.  The rainbow of colors faded up and blended into a deep purple sky strewn with stars.  Once darkness had arrived we set up a bonfire and talked late into the night.

Chasing the Moon Series

A couple months ago I was hiking at twilight and stopped to watch the moonrise – it moved quickly and didn’t take long to climb above the hill.  I continued to walk and took pictures of the moon as it pursued its journey across the sky.  We met at various landscapes and heights; sometimes it would remain in my sight and I could follow it but sometimes it disappeared or stayed behind me.

I drew this series to capture different parts of the hike. All are pastel on paper.



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Yosemite Series

Acrylic on canvas, 2008

I used a palette knife to create the under painting so that there would be a vibrant texture underlying the landscape.  The precise and delicate quality of nature is complimented with its sheer strength.  It took powerful forces to create the mountains and rivers that we see today – to create the very earth on which we dwell.  I tried to capture that energy using the knife, and then went over it with a brush for softness and detail. My intent was for the texture to hold the paintings together in a lively and dynamic way.  I believe that there is a powerful, invisible and fiercely loving God sustaining and holding all things together.  We may not see Him, but we see His eternal power and divine nature manifested in all of creation.

Acrylic on canvas paper, 2008
Vine charcoal on paper, 2008. I sketched this while dangling my feet over a bridge 🙂

Instant Pot Apple Pork Tenderloin Recipe

This is one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes and it’s perfect for fall (or any season, really). We I recently had some friends over for dinner and we served this along with roasted vegetables, green beans, and butternut squash soup. The meal was a hit! I’m complying with requests for this recipe by posting it here :).

Our dinner – pork tenderloin with apple gravy, green beans, roasted vegetables, and butternut squash apple soup
I served this gravy with the pork, which is made by pureeing the ingredients in the Instant Pot after taking the meat out and removing the bay leaf & rosemary stem, and then adding the roux. The glass “gravy boat” is actually a teapot that I bought from Teavana when they were liquidating. The inner glass steeper and lid are removed 🙂


  • 3 lb pork tenderloin (the weight is approximate, I use 2 long pieces of pork, which is half of the pork tenderloin pack from Costco)
  • 1 tsp oil of your choice (I use duck fat) for the pork
  • 1 large onion, yellow or white
  • 1 tsp oil of your choice (I use duck fat) for the onion
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I use 1 cup of water with 1 tsp of Better Than Bullion)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 large apples or 3 small apples (Use a good cooking apple that is also quite sweet like fuji. Honeycrips apples are too sour for this recipe.)
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (about 5 inches)
  • 5 large fresh sage leaves (or 10 small leaves)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • More salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Slice the onion (thicker slices are better) and the apples.
  2. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook the onions a bit, stirring occasionally so that some of them caramelize without overcooking the onions (about 10 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, put 1 tsp of oil into the instant pot and turn it to saute mode. When the oil is hot, put the two pork tenderloins in and sear the top and bottom until they are brown (a few minutes each side, flip using tongs).
  4. Add the browned onions to the instant pot, as well as the chicken broth, apple juice, salt, pepper, apples, rosemary, sage, and bay leaf. Poke the herbs and some of the apples down so that they are sitting in the liquid.
  5. Close the instant pot, set the knob to sealing, and select manual pressure. Set the time to 25 minutes. It will take time to come to pressure before the 25 minutes start, so plan to do something else during this time.
  6. When the 25 minutes of cooking are over, manually release the pressure by turning the knob to venting.
  7. Use tongs to remove the pork tenderloin from the Instant Pot and onto a plate. Slice the pork.
  8. Remove the bay leaf and the stem of the rosemary (the rosemary leaves should have mostly fallen off, but if not, pick the leaves off and put them back into the Instant Pot).
  9. Use an immersion blender to blend everything in the Instant Pot until smooth.
  10. Make the roux by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and then stirring in the flour. Keep cooking and stirring it until it becomes a light to medium brown color.
  11. Pour the roux into the Instant Pot and turn it to saute mode. Stir the mixture until you see bubbles. Stir for another minute. Your gravy is done!
  12. Turn off the Instant Pot and taste the gravy. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Stir and ladle the gravy into a serving container. Serve the gravy with the pork.

Monk Fruit Butterbeer Recipe (Reduced Sugar!)

If you love butterbeer, you’re sure to love this butterscotch soda recipe! My husband and I call it butterbeer but I wouldn’t call it an exact replica (perhaps it’s even better!). Authentic butterbeer is more of a cream soda with thick butterscotch-flavored foam put on top. There are a bunch of recipes on the internet with instructions on how to make the foam using whipped cream, but no recipe seems to be able to exactly replicate the thick, light, foamy butterscotch goodness of the bubbly white butterbeer topping:

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The butterbeer we had at Leavesdon Studios, England

However, this butterscotch soda recipe gives you a rich, deep butterscotch flavor in both the soda and the foam, and you don’t even need to make whipped cream to put on top. The foam is made by mixing butterscotch syrup with freshly opened (not flat) bubbly water. My husband and I LOVE this drink because I use my homemade butterscotch syrup in it and it doesn’t have too much sugar, since monk fruit replaces most of the sugar in the recipe.

The recipe for my homemade, reduced-sugar butterscotch syrup is here. The photos below illustrate the basic steps for making butterscotch soda:

Butterscotch Soda Syrup2
First, scoop some butterscotch syrup into your cup
Butterscotch Soda R22
Second, add a little bit of seltzer water (about twice as much as the syrup) and stir it around for ~10 seconds until the butterscotch has melted into the water and a nice foam is created. If your seltzer water is freshly opened, you can actually make a lot of foam. Add more seltzer water and stir if you want more foam.
Butterscotch Soda 3
Third, add more bubbly water and your butterscotch soda is ready to drink!

You can vary the proportions of the butterscotch syrup and seltzer water according to your taste. I like adding a lot of butterscotch syrup because then the taste is extra rich! Here is the basic recipe:


  • 1 cup of sparkling water, refrigerated (I’ve found that bottled seltzer water creates more foam than canned club soda)
  • 2 tbsp of homemade, reduced sugar butterscotch syrup, recipe here


You can modify the proportions however you would like, for however much soda you want, so the below is just a guideline – feel free to experiment!

  1. Scoop 2 tbsp of butterscotch syrup into into a small drinking glass
  2. Pour ~4 tbsp of sparkling water into the glass
  3. Stir it with a spoon for ~10 seconds, until the butterscotch is melted into the water and a nice foam forms. You can add a little more sparkling water and stir again if you want more foam.
  4. Add the rest of the sparkling water and you’re done!

Monk Fruit Butterscotch Syrup Recipe (Reduced sugar!)

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This butterscotch syrup recipe tastes amazing, is easy to make and only has a quarter of the sugar as regular butterscotch! Monk fruit powder is used as a sugar substitute because it has zero calories and is a natural sweetener.

If you want to make it completely sugar-free (except for the small amount of sugar that comes from the molasses), I’ve included that recipe below as well. Just know that there will be some separation if you use the sugar-free version, so you’ll have to mix the jar before scooping. That’s why I’ve included a little bit of sugar in my main recipe, to thicken the syrup.

Typically, butterscotch syrup is made with brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream, but I decided to substitute most of the sugar with monk fruit powder to see if I could get the same amazing taste as regular butterscotch but with way less sugar, because who needs more sugar in their life? No one. The experiment was a success!

Butterscotch Simmering2
Here’s the butterscotch simmering in the saucepan

If you didn’t already know, brown sugar is just regular sugar with molasses mixed in. So to get that lovely butterscotch flavor in this recipe, don’t skip the molasses!

I started experimenting with butterscotch because my husband and I had butterbeer for the first time in England a month ago and were blown away by the taste. So of course I had to try making it at home. If you want to make amazing butterscotch soda (aka butterbeer) with this syrup, see my recipe here.

This butterscotch syrup maintains a thick but easily scoopable, viscous consistency when stored in the fridge, so you can spoon it onto ice cream, crepes, or mix it into butterbeer anytime you want! The color of the syrup is a bit darker than regular butterscotch syrup due to the molasses and the lack of sugar but it tastes fantastic.

Here is the monk fruit powder that I use: Pure Monk. Although this one looks like it would be a good option too, since it’s a little cheaper. I haven’t used the latter one before though, so my recipe is based on the first one. Whichever monk fruit powder you get, just remember to get powder that is 100% monk fruit with no additives. Monk fruit is sweeter than sugar, so if you get the kind that allow a 1:1 substitute with sugar, that won’t work with this recipe because it contains additives.



  1. Melt the butter in a small or medium saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add the molasses, monk fruit, salt, and heavy cream and stir until everything is blended together. Be careful when pouring the molasses, and don’t add too much!
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, scraping the mixture down off the sides as needed
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the vanilla extract,
  5. Stir and pour the butterscotch into a glass container to cool. It will thicken as it cools.
  6. Store in the refrigerator. It should keep for about 8 days.


  • You can add more sugar to thicken the sauce if you’d like, just remember to reduce the monk fruit. 1 tsp of monk fruit = 1 cup of sugar, so you can use that ratio to calculate your reduction and additions.


Here are the ingredients for almost sugar-free butterscotch syrup, if you want to skip the sugar completely (remember, adding sugar will thicken the sauce and help prevent it from separating), the directions are the same: