Karen's Fruit and Croissant French Toast

The other day I gave a talk to the Sacramento Bloggers group. I brought goodies which included wonderful buttery croissants from Estelle's Bakery and a couple were left over. Two-day-old croissants are not the best things to eat, but I did not want to waste these expensive treats. I also drink my coffee black, so the leftover cream from the Starbuck's coffee order was just sitting in the fridge. 
I am a good Canadian and always keep maple syrup in my fridge, I'd been to the market yesterday and had bought my usual fresh market berries and while the oranges on our tree are not quite ripe the zest is orange, fresh and tangy. A few pantry basics and a tasty dish emerged.
Cal liked his Veteran's Day treat and wanted to be sure I wrote the recipe down.
I thought a blog post could do that and I could share this with everyone.

Karen’s Baked Fruit Croissant French Toast Casserole

2 servings

  •       2 large (Jumbo) one- to two-day-old croissant
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  •        dash Kosher salt
  •        1/3 cup each of fresh washed blueberries and raspberries
  •        Optional - substitute/add strawberries
  • Toppings, if you wish - confectioners’ sugar, or maple syrup


Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, place rack in the middle of the oven.
Grease a 3-4 cup casserole dish with 1/2 Tablespoon butter.
Slice croissants and arrange to fill the bottom of casserole.
Mix beaten eggs, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest and maple syrup in a bowl. Pour just over half over croissant layer. Arrange remaining slices and pour remainder of mixture over slices. Add fruit over the top.
Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

525 per serving

Estimated Nutritional values: 
carbs 58g, fat 27g, protein 4g, fiber 5g, K 81mg, Na 500mg, Cholesterol 245mg, folate 4% daily value, iron 6% daily value, vit C 25% daily value, Mg 4% daily value, Ca 8% daily value

The East River District of NYC and recent BlogHer meeting

This story starts in August 2018 with me in NYC relaxing after a very full day at BlogHer18. I’m enjoying the luxury of the three-week-old Mr. C Seaport Hotel near the Brooklyn Bridge and Pier 17. This is a comfy contemporary hotel in a neighborhood that is undergoing revitalization. Trendy, touristy and gentrified but historic and exciting. I love the old cobblestone streets and the old buildings.

It’s a long journey across the country to New York from California. Even though a short trip in duration, it’s been so worth it. There’s been fantastic energy here with a lot of first time #BlogHer attendees.

I was so happy to get out of California, where I would in most summers love to be. The smoke in the air and my asthma have kept me mostly housebound. Nonetheless, this trip pushed my exhausted self to its limits. I was not yet recovered from surgery and with my neck problems never easy. Sure, I use a wheelchair at the airport to avoid a lot of standing and walking. Even with minimal carry-on items, it can be a bit much. I bring a neck pillow and blanket, and while I balk at the expense of first class or business class, I do sometimes opt for extra room. Still, I was already tired and was adding insult to injury.
Despite the physical challenges, my spirit was energized by attending a meeting with inspiring speakers and enthusiastic and friendly attendees. 

I did mention it was a trip to New York City? I love New York. I'd not stayed in the East River District before. I found out this area of town is one that my friend Lena, a shipping industry podcaster from Sweden, had recently visited and raved about. It was just chance that I headed there, too. I have to echo her raves.

I include some photos of the neighborhood. It's on the East River edge of the financial district just next to Two Bridges and Chinatown. My hotel was two blocks from the venue, well within easy walking distance for me. The Mr. C Seaport had a few growing pains with my shower not draining well the first day and the room thermostat not able to regulate the temperature well. The staff seemed concerned and attentive to repairs. From the workmen in the halls and elevators, it was apparent that while the hotel was open, it was not yet completed. It is very attractively appointed and the bed very comfortable. The bathroom sported two sinks and a separate generous sized shower and a separate toilet. The robes were delightful. I'm thinking of ordering one from them. The logo is cute, and they do sell a T-shirt and ball cap. There are a generous bar and an assortment of snacks. However, I think a hotel room should have a Keurig coffee maker and complimentary tea and coffee, which this did not. I also love hotels that provide a small fridge and even better a microwave, too. Unfortunately, none of these amenities were provided. However, the Bellini restaurant that is attached to the hotel and offers the room service was delightful. I know I'd have used it even if the room had the amenities I listed. My eggs Benedict Florentine breakfast was perfect with fresh squeezed orange juice and delicious and plentiful coffee, a great start to my last day. The evening before I had tea and dessert in my room. The water was not quite as hot as I'd have liked by the time it got to me and while the berry sorbet was delicious the lemon pie that actually was a lemon tart, was not quite perfect. The short pastry was a little overly firm and thick.
I do not hesitate in recommending this delightful hotel. If you are flush enough to spring for a suite with a view, I would think it would be near perfection for your stay in New York. I was indeed pleased with my stay overall. 

The neighborhood sports a small grassy park with a geodesic metal structure adding charm and whimsy to the area. I love how an artist created a trompe l'oeil painting on a broad blank wall. The art features a building of similar architecture to the surrounding structures. An archway in the painted building offers a scene of the Brooklyn Bridge just beyond.

The lavender color of the metal work under the FDR freeway made me smile as I made my way to Pier 17. There is a museum ship at the pier, and I noted a South Street Seaport Museum and a New York City Police Museum in the neighborhood, though I did not have time to visit. A water taxi service is busy there, as is a water tour service.

The meeting venue was in a new 4- story building with good elevator service; however, I recommend the escalator. A continually changing lighted-advertising display in an atrium well adds a bit of entertainment to the ride. I noted the construction of several restaurants in this structure.

The conference was located on the fourth floor. Registration was a bit of a crush, but the wait not prolonged. From there swag bags, then on to the central meeting area. Large windows that looked out on the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Financial District made the environment inviting. In the main conference room, circular cloth covered tables were surrounded by chairs. Small banks of extra chairs provided ample seating. Several large monitors around the room allowed for excellent views of what was happening onstage.

Once seated we attendees explored our goodies. I particularly liked the Moroccan Magic lip balm. The flight had made me dehydrated despite my best efforts, and it was a godsend for my dry lips. I did not use the John Frieda John Frieda Secret Weapon Touch Up Creme until I got home, but I love it. I have straight hair, but it often sticks out at an angle after washing, and the ends get brittle. I use a small dab of this product, and it works wonders.

Croissants and cold brew coffee were available from Pret A Manger. Delicious. They provided snacks and lunch, too. A vendor, FreshDirect had coldbrew and flavored water, fresh fruits and vegetables, and iced doughnuts to supplement the primary offerings. It's too bad that the company is only based on the East Coast; their offerings are terrific. I recommend them to any reader in their delivery area.

Memorable moments from the speakers include an opening guided meditation with Agapi Stassinopoulos author of Wake Up to the Joy of YouGabrielle Union talked about her new book, We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated and True. Amy Schumer introduced the Voices of the Year Awards and spoke about the importance of the #MeToo movement.  Maria Menounos discussed her mother's brain cancer and her own brain tumor diagnosis and stressed the importance of being your own and your family's health advocate. I enjoyed the live Betch Slapped podcast with Jordana Abraham and Aleen Kuperman, of Betches, especially learning both of their mothers were OBGYN doctors! Kristen Meinzer of WNYC, who I'd just heard at Podcast Movement, joined them to discuss starting a podcast. A candid and lively discussion with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Christy Turlington Burns about women's reproductive health, maternal policies, and the state of women's health care found a very receptive audience.

Breaks allowed us to visit vendor booths. The LG booth was even more cramped than the last time I visited blogger, and while I wanted to post their Twitter challenge video about the feature fridge, it was just too difficult to accomplish with so little space and instructions that did not work well with my iPad. I did take a video, and I must say that the fridge is incredible. My phone might have been useful in that booth. However, at that moment the battery was low, and it was getting recharged. BlogHer is very aware of our phone dependence, and a sponsored phone charging station was available. It seems BlogHer attendees are partial to I-phones. Connections spots were at times challenging to locate for Apple devices while Android users could always find a connection.

The health-related booths got a quick visit from me. I loved the Susan Komen t-shirts. I do like that organization's mission, which is not just researching for a cure as some social media posts insist it ought to be. The Susan B. Komen Foundation has a balanced approach to attacking breast cancer with a focus on services for patients as well as clinical research support. The Crisis Text Line was another health-related booth. Crisis Text Line provides a needed service, I encourage folk to volunteer. Vagisil and Dr. Ladydoc provided female health information. 

Humanscale promoted the ergonomic office, and their swag of a portable metal straw with carrying bag and brush has been handy. (It also is increasing my environmental concern street cred.)

I liked the Worth booth for a line of professional clothing. Much of the fall collection was more suited to a New York-Northern East Coast climate, but, some outfits could work in California.

Surprise treats were in store for us during the conference. Tiny cupcakes with decorative frosting spelled out Blogher 18 and were not only lovely but a sweet tasty treat. The party Wednesday had delicious hors-d'oeuvres, and the environment provided a great opportunity to network.

This was my third BlogHer event, two general audience BlogHer meetings and one BlogHer Health. It would be hardpressed to find much difference between the two types of meetings and I will consider attending BlogHer in the future. The exposure to new products is an integral part of the business design. It is an excellent opportunity for influencers to discover new goods and services and for some to form business partnerships such as affiliate programs. Who could resist the powerful women Barbie dolls swag? (Some readers are familiar with my Barbie collection and share the interest, I know.)

I'd recommend a BlogHer conference for influencers who are interested in brands and for those who want to hear fascinating discussions on topics of significant interest to women. 

For me, the best part of attending BlogHer is the networking I mentioned above. I've learned so much from my fellow attendees. BlogHer has always been inspiring and energizing.

Ep 46: When the Love of Literature and Scotland Turns into a Podcast with Ginger Wiseman

Ginger Wiseman is one of the co-hosts (with her sister) Summer Reynolds, of The Outlander Podcast. She has a great story of how her love of the books and then the series, and a passion for Scotland, led them to create a podcast for fans. I always have a great deal of fun learning about how my guests found their creative niche. Today is no exception.
More in this episode
● We learn about Ginger's story and what got her and her sister, Summer into hosting two podcasts.
● How the two sisters connected over literature through the years and how that strengthened their love of the written word in multiple languages.
● She discusses her love of the Outlander series and the events that led to the creation of their fandom podcast.
● Ginger shared what led her and her sister to create The All Souls Podcast and how that helped them broaden their horizons with fans, friends, and travel.
● She shares how she was able to get involved with ComicCon working in press and the benefits that have helped her grow her shows and gain more visibility.
● Ginger shared more about The All Souls Con event and that she follows the book releases and shows coming out with the international networks.
● The sisters planned for the long haul as the main character had not yet been cast.
● Ginger shares how she was able to plan out the podcast episodes in alignment with the books and episodes for content.
● She noticed early on that there was a random invitation to join for an after-show. She felt that guests found more value when they did a live video in their private FB group after-show right after the episode ends.
● Having a sponsor never changed their content, schedule or format.
● She felt empowered to have a podcast through her exploration of what other podcast hosts were offering and her love of the dramatic arts growing up.
● She shares her journey with her sister to Scotland and how they created a group experience trip they do yearly.
Ginger says, "While everyone has their own talents or abilities that they've honed, whatever it is that you feel, even if you're not doing it professionally, whatever it is that you feel is a great outlet for you creatively.[SIC] Being creative must be intentional. It's important if you are creative that you have to make time for those things. It is needed and a very important part of life."

Check out this episode!

Ep 45: A Gifted Geyser of Artistic Expression A Conversation with Jonathan Fong

Today’s podcast has a fascinating guest, Jonathan Fong. From plans for kid’s projects to ideas for sophisticated weddings, Jonathan just shines! Home decorating, crafting, and entertainment are not the only things he knows about, but he also has a unique gift to teach us how to master his creative visions. I love that Jonathan always dresses impeccably and adds unique touches to his ensemble. His approach proves that men’s fashions can be both original and very dapper.
In this conversation, you’ll learn more about the innovative Jonathan Fong and his "creative approach."
More in this episode

  • What Jonathan is doing on a daily basis and how he inspires others.
    ● Jonathan didn’t really become a designer until later on in life and shares where he started out before he got to this point in his journey.
    ● He discusses his career beginnings and the struggles he had when he experienced “left brain, right brain conflict” where he was trying to be creative in a non-creative field.
    ● Jonathan was encouraged that if he “had huge creative tendencies to explore them!”
    ● How his creative exploration led him to greater opportunities such as being on HGTV, writing books, creating a business and his own show on YouTube
    ● The value of creating your own content on YouTube and what that can lead to.
  • How working with Disney and teaching on kid’s crafts helped him gain a wider audience to infuse creativity in the lives of millions.
    ● We discussed his exploration of infusing his creativity into his cooking as well.
  • Who influenced Jonathan to embrace his creativity throughout his life.
  • How his fun and playful attitude has helped people make their art more personal.
  • Craft books on the horizon may include more Jewish Crafts and Dog and Cat Crafts.
  • Jonathan feels that creativity is one of the most important things in this world. He says, “that for us creative folks, or for people that want to be creative, it’s our duty to create because creativity is the opposite of destruction. There is so much destruction in the world and so much of the world is geared towards destruction, both physical and spiritual. However you create, whether it’s through crafting or cooking or building or painting or singing - however you express yourself to create or make something - that counteracts the destruction. We can change the world by creating.”
Jonathan on Facebook
Youtube: Style with A Smile
Books on Amazon: Walls That Wow, Flowers That Wow, Parties That Wow
CHA (The Craft & Hobby Association, now known as The Association For Creative Industries)
 E-how for more on creating a fun party, cooking, crafts, and more.
 Jewish Film Festival in Sacramento

Check out this episode!

Ep 44: Finding Beauty in the Imperfections with Linda Gelfman

Joining me on the show today is a professor of ceramics at American River College in Sacramento, a founding member of The E Street Gallery and Studios, and one of my favorite art teachers, Linda Gelfman.

She has recently been exploring soft-sculpture as well as her ceramic work. She used her textile pieces in a recent show at The Kaneko Gallery at American River College, titled “Cognitive Dissonance.” The show examined the multilayers of life. “Linda’s Lollies¨ the name she’s given her anthropomorphic soft sculptures, have a mixture of cuteness and the bizarre. Her work has focused on finding beauty in the imperfections that working with clay can provide.

Some of her earliest art-related memories include playing in her friend’s wet sandbox. Her love of creativity led her through college, where she was surprised and elated she was able to major in art and could share that love with others. She continued to build an incredible career teaching, installing her work in galleries and continued her education at Sacramento State in graduate school.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to chat with Linda. Our conversation is full of passion for the creative process and the love she has for teaching others. If you need the inspiration to get back into the flow of creativity, listen to this episode, and make sure to check out the ways to connect further with Linda.

More in this episode:
● Linda believes everyone has creativity within themselves.
● Linda found working with clay using the Wabi Sabi method in her early 20s Which helped her gain a deeper appreciation of finding beauty in the imperfect.
● She shares how students can feel empowered in their creativity and sense of expression.
● Linda shares her methods for creating dynamic pieces that go against the traditional “rules.”
● She enjoys using upcycled materials to integrate new textures and elements into her work and recent gallery installations.
● Linda believes that following your passion is the best way to help and serve humanity.
● She was able to make art and make a living for years.
● Linda believes it’s vital for artists to get back to the fluidity of their process to ignite their creative spark and to go “outside the lines of perfectionism.”
● She feels art is important and encourages everyone to take an art class “because it will change your life.”
● It’s OK to be different because that makes us unique and marvelous.
● She shares her thought on what to do if you’re feeling disconnected from life.
Find Linda at The E Street Gallery
Linda Gelfman on Facebook: Gelfman Art
Become one of her students at American River College
Snow After Fire Art Piece
Meow Wolf
Article on Fire Retardant planes from McClelland
Link to map of fire situation in California this year
Fort McMurray, Alberta fire

Check out this episode!

New Mural at American River College, Creative Solution, being a part of public art

It initially started as four murals in ceramics to illustrate the fine and applied arts departments at American River College. Fine Arts, Culinary, Design and Film/Photography, and Theater and Music had murals depicting a story of each. An unfortunate kiln accident destroyed over half of that entire body of work. The pieces that remained were glazed then stored away for two years.

This summer Linda Gelfman and some help put together this mural. It's loosely based on a Hamsa which is symbolic of a hand of blessing in many religions. There are seven fingers, but Linda smiles and says we all need extra good fortune and good will. 

Some parts from every original mural survive, and I like the idea of unity out of diversity that arises from this piece. Like the Phoenix, this art has emerged powerful and beautiful.


I did not glaze all the pieces I crafted, and no one of us was solely responsible for the tiles, but I did put a lot of work into some parts like the Tower Bridge, the student dining, the chefs at work and a portrait of Linda Gelfman.

Glazed ceramics last forever (well maybe some in fragments), but a long time as anyone who has ever walked through an ancient Greek ruin can attest.

There is something about that permanence that has me near tears when I think of how many people will pass by, going to classes or visiting the Kaneko Gallery and will see our art.  

American River College has several student murals on campus from years past. I encourage you to visit the school and see this new work and those of past years. Each narrative is unique and beautiful. 

A Student Of Printmaking

A summer printmaking class. It seemed like a good idea, and in retrospect, it was for the most part. However, if you’ve ever taken a 3-unit summer course in any subject, you know how intense that class can be. I produced four works of art that I’ve documented here and got an A in the class; so, it would be churlish of me to say anything negative about the course. I really did enjoy learning the process. Emily Wilson teaches the very meticulous process-driven art forms like printmaking and bookmaking at Sacramento City College. She is a truly excellent teacher. I love these art forms and hope to take more classes in the future.
I, also, have lots of ideas for relief prints that I want to explore,
I hope a print club gets formed as I think it would be a great way to explore this art medium without the intense pressure of class.
Are there art classes you enjoy? Have you ever tried relief printmaking? Do you have a favorite printmaker?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Critiques of my art are welcome; I do beg you to be kind. Some prints are available for sale. Please contact me if you are interested.

Karen's Fruit and Croissant French Toast

The other day I gave a talk to the Sacramento Bloggers group. I brought goodies which included wonderful buttery croissants from Estel...