Friday Frolics #1 – Easy Banana Cake

Welcome to the inaugural posting for Friday Frolics here at EMGN Designs’ blog.

Friday Frolics will be a variety of things but the common thread will be sharing: a recipe, a DIY project, a craft project, a crochet pattern, a life hack or the like.

Today’s sharing (frolic) is an incredibly easy Banana Cake recipe that doesn’t even require a mixing bowl! That’s right, some measuring cups and spoons, a 9×9 baking pan, a fork and the simple ingredients and you are good-to-go for this delicious and well-loved delight.

The reason for this recipe is another example of ‘waste not, want not’ as in a previous post of mine. Too many bananas, not enough time to eat them. You may ask why I would purchase so many bananas. I didn’t. I will explain how I came into possession of too many bananas in a post next week – “Unexpected Consequences.”
So, let’s get on with this week’s recipe:



1-1/2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
A pinch of Salt
2/3 Cup Chopped Pecans (optional)*
2 Mashed Very Ripe Bananas
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Large Eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pecans in ungreased 9×9 inch square baking pan (8×8 inch square will work too). Stir ingredients together with a fork until well-blended.
Add remaining ingredients and stir only until blended and smooth. Scrape sides and corners.
Put pan in oven on middle rack. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into 9 squares and enjoy!

*The pecans can be eliminated or you can change the add-ins in various ways as long as you maintain the 2/3 cup ratio to the recipe when using add-ins. For example, I like to put 1/3 cup pecans and 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips for a sweet surprise or swap out the pecans altogether in favor of 2/3 cups blueberries. When I make this to give as gifts, I eliminate the nuts altogether, mix the ingredients in a mixing bowl, use loaf pans, add 10 minutes cooking time and have a more traditional looking banana ‘bread’ loaf as a result.

Remember, this is a Friday Frolic so if you have a couple of bananas lingering that are past their prime, here’s a quick and easy way to make good use of them while having a bit of a creative frolic as well.

Happy Weekend Everyone!!!

Decide not to be reduced

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

Rebirth of Lisa, this one is for all of us out here who struggle everyday to see the path; we shall not be reduced by the events who brought us to this juncture.

We shall rise above.

Library Card

Here’s something to think about:

Everything you need for your better future and success has already been written. And guess what? It’s all available. All you have to do is go to the library. And guess what? Only three percent of the people in America have a library card. Wow, they must be expensive! No, they’re free. Probably in every neighborhood. Three per cent!
– Jim Rohn

Don’t even get me started on the availability of the Internet.

Mystery Box

What’s this? A box labelled, “Open me, if you dare…”

Obviously, this was left here by someone who doesn’t know me very well. The best way to get me ‘off the dime’ is to dare me, so here we go! First the ribbon, now the paper and off comes the lid! What’s inside for me?

A day without pain.

That simple. No more, no less.

Just one day. Not a lifetime, a year, or even a week. Just one day without the wracking physical pain that makes every movement torture. Describe it, you say? Imagine the second or third day of the worst flu you’ve ever had. Now, increase the magnitude by fifty times and you have my ‘good day.’ We won’t talk about the ‘bad days.’ Add to that, the mental anguish of PTSD and depression and you know why I’d wish for one day’s respite as a mystery gift from the universe.

Okay, back to reality. Since that mystery box from the universe isn’t happening today, let’s move on with daily affirmations and positive activities. Get up and get going. Move through the daily routine of mindful, meditative activities that soothe the body and heal the mind. Something as simple as keeping the house orderly can help tame the chaos in a ravaged mind. Taking time for creative activities such as painting, music, crochet, knitting, cooking or other crafts on a daily basis is another way of staying physically active while re-creating positive pathways in the brain.

Thanks for your time today. Here’s to hoping for your mystery box to arrive today.

More Holidays

I know, I know, we just finished with a whole batch of holidays – the heavy-hitters, if you will, but those of us who are ‘crafters’ know there are always more to come.

In this case, some of the lesser holidays can be some of the more lucrative in terms of novelty sales. Anticipating the upcoming holidays months ahead can give you the jump on your competition. After all, thinking of Valentine’s Day in January, Easter in February, or Mother’s Day in March isn’t nearly as hard as prepping Christmas in July!

Crafters everywhere plan ahead because we need the time to, well, craft, so if you haven’t already, get busy! Time’s a’ wastin’! The world is waiting for those hearts delightful for Valentine’s Day and bunny ears so dear for Easter and candles, soaps and scents galore for Mother’s Day. Looking for another idea? Here’s one that works nicely for gifts as well as a treat for yourself:


Materials & Tools
Epsom salts
Baking soda
Spa or soap dye (optional)
Fragrance oil (optional)
Small soap molds
Mixing bowl
Butter knife

What to Do
Mix 2/3 cup Epsom salts and 1/3 cup baking soda in a mixing bowl.
Add five drops glycerin and just enough water to moisten the mixture. Stir well.
If using dye, add gradually, stirring between drops, until you’re happy with the color.
If using fragrance, stir in three drops of fragrance oil and mix well. You may add additional fragrance one drop at a time if you like a stronger effect.
Fill each mold with mixture. Press mixture into mold firmly; use butter knife to smooth top of mold. Remove excess from the sides of the mold.
Invert molds on a paper towel and tap lightly to remove the bath bar. Allow to dry overnight.
Package in small boxes, bags, tissue or tulle with ribbons.

To Use
Dissolve bars in tub under hot, running water. Get in and relax your cares away.

Awareness and Acceptance: A Path Back to Self

Yesterday I commented on an exceptional post at PTSD – A Way Out. The post suggested an exercise to develop Awareness and Acceptance as a path to healing.

The exercise was simply to bring Awareness to any area of one’s life containing Guilt without allowing the Self to be consumed by the emotions, thus promoting Acceptance of the full Self.

Being a survivor of PTSD, I know full-well this is not an easy thing to do. Not easy, but necessary for healing.

For one thing, one’s life can seem consumed with guilt, which makes it difficult – almost impossible – to identify a single area on which to focus. For another, the emotions can be so overwhelming they can trigger the self-defeating thought cycles we know all too well. Having said that, let me reiterate the importance and validity of this sort of exercise when you’re healing – set aside the time, do it.

Without this sort of exercise and the discipline developed through them, I’m certain I wouldn’t be here to live my life or write this blog. Becoming aware and accepting of myself has allowed me to get back on track to the person the trauma almost stole from me.

Get back to yourself – get a little ‘exercise’ today!

Know How to Play

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” What a wise man. Play is an essential part of a happy life. Look around you at the people who are genuinely happy, relaxed and content with their lives. With very few exceptions (if any), you will find those people know how to play, to be silly, to have fun.

I must admit I am guilty, at times, of forgetting how to play. Have you forgotten how to play? Do you know when you stopped playing? I don’t. It just seemed that one day I awakened to the realization that I no longer played. Why do we forget to play? Why does it become unimportant or unfashionable to play? Many questions to which we may never find the answers.

So try this – take out your calendar and find a block of time (at least an hour) when you can promise to do ‘nothing.’ Now, decide where to do this ‘nothing.’ Maybe alone in a park, or at home with the children or pets or spouse will be the best place. Where is not important; what is important is that the place is someplace you are comfortable doing ‘nothing.’ Then, let nature take its course…before you know it, you will be playing with each other, whether it’s a game of peek-a-boo with the baby or tug-of-war with the dog or swinging alone on the swings at the park and your stress will melt away almost magically.

Remember to include crafting in your definition of play as you continue to explore this phenomenon. Remember, finger painting and string art and coloring? It’s not that big of a stretch to canvas art and crochet and knitting – take a class, dig out those hooks and needles, crayons and coloring books, relax – PLAY a little every day!!!

Waste not, want not

Waste not, want not

A phrase I’ve heard all of my life is ‘waste not, want not.’ When I was younger, I found it hard to understand but as I’ve matured, I’ve come to understand it quite well. Basically, it means to conserve what you have now (waste not) so when you need it, you’ll have it (want not). Upon doing a bit of research, it appears the phrase originated in Yorkshire, which makes it seem even stranger to me that it was one of my German mother’s favorite sayings. She was, indeed, a woman of many mysteries.

Along the lines of conservation and not being wasteful, I have a quick recipe to share with you to save those apples (and other fruit) on the verge of spoilage. In these days of tight budgets and frugal living, there’s no need to throw away things that can be used in different ways. We all have had the experience of realizing the apples (peaches or pears) have been sitting on the counter a few days too long to be enjoyed fresh but not quite long enough to be quite rotten. I have good news! You can use the following recipe to create a quick dish to serve as a sweet side with dinner or as a sauce for ice cream or pound cake as dessert:

Cinnamon Fruit

Peel, seed and slice the fruit
Place in a skillet with a dollop of butter over medium-low heat
Add one to two tablespoons of liquid per 4 pieces of fruit (water or apple juice works as well as white wine – your choice)*
Add cinnamon and sugar to taste*
Cover and cook the mixture down until the fruit is tender and a nice sauce has developed (stir occasionally)
Serve warm
*Adjust liquid and seasonings based on amount of fruit

This is one of my favorite comfort foods of all times. There’s something about the butter and the cinnamon melding with the warm fruit flavors that signals ‘all is well’ on the home front. This is a particularly powerful and important message for anyone who struggles with depression and/or PTSD. Something as simple as the methodical preparation of a simple dish like this Cinnamon Fruit can calm the soul and save the day when one is a bit frazzled or fragmented after a challenging day.

Calming rituals involving repetitive, rhythmic activity such as cooking, crocheting, painting, playing music, knitting, and drawing can all be invaluable in bringing peace to the chaotic thought processes that can create havoc for those of us suffering. Find something that works for you and spend time every day to nurture yourself…to heal yourself…break the cycle.

Enjoy your day, enjoy your cinnamon fruit and come visit again soon!

To Resolve, or Not to Resolve, That is the Question….

Yes, it’s January. Yes, it’s the New Year. So, yes, it seems like it’s the natural time to start making those pesky resolutions everyone seems to be talking about all around you; but, maybe not.

I, for one, believe setting a few goals for the New Year makes more sense than making a laundry list of resolutions that I know, from the get-go, I will not keep. So, how shall we go about this task?

First, keep it simple. Let’s not try to conquer the world. Start with a list of no more than a dozen (one a month average) goals.  Whittle that down to no more than eight (2/3 per month average) with six (1/2 per month average) being optimal to achieve for the entire year. That’s right, we’re talking about minimizing what’s on the list, not maximizing.

Second, prioritize your goals and establish your focus. As you achieve a goal, celebrate, then move onto the next goal quickly. The sense of accomplishment from each achievement will propel you forward with greater momentum as you move forward throughout the year. Some goals run concurrently such as saving money and losing weight because they’re not directly related. However, related goals need to be prioritized dependent on their relationship, e.g., achieving the goal of saving $2,000 for a down payment on a car comes before the goal of buying the car.

Third, give yourself a break if/when you stumble. Remember, having a bad day doesn’t mean you’re having a bad life so if/when your impulses get the better of you, feel free to reset your goal. Start over the next day.

It’s ok to believe in your ability to make your dreams a reality each and every day.


Although I’ve posted a couple of times already, I’ve decided I need to back up and re-introduce myself. I am a fifty something woman who has been around the block a few dozen times. I am someone who has been lost in the dark and finds her way back each and every day through perseverance, tenacity, a simple daily round and a love for art and creation.

During those trips around the block, I’ve been told repeatedly by many people that I should share my stories, my viewpoints, to help other people through difficult times. Additionally, I have some talent in arts and crafts that many people find interesting and inspirational. Combining the two areas in a blog seems like the best way to reach the most people with a message of hope and recovery while building a platform for my products.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing many topics of daily life from depression and PTSD to current events and housecleaning tips as well as a wide range of arts and crafts from crocheting to painting and gardening to cooking so stay tuned. I’m hoping to reach people who are looking for a simple, common sense approach to life from someone who’s been there; people who are looking for someone who has been in the dark but found a way back to the light.

Through publishing this blog, I want to establish a network of people supporting each other through difficult and good times through positive discourse, while increasing awareness of my product line of inspirational arts and crafts.