Saturday, December 27, 2008


Just a quick note coming at you from Washington DC! I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukah... whatever you may celebrate this time of year. Enjoy the special times with friends, family, and loved ones! I know we are. :0) I'm busy visiting the in-laws and enjoying the sites and sounds of DC for the first time. So, I'll be taking a short break until after we get home Jan 2nd. By then, I'll be back with plenty of exciting things to share! ;0) And, I hope to have a chance to get back to my regularly scheduled blog visits. Until then, best wishes for a happy New Year, and an exciting New Year's Eve!


Friday, December 19, 2008

The marshmallow incident

So, I had this brilliant little idea to make homemade treats for all of the neighbors and Hazel's cheerleading coaches. The theme? Peppermint. Chocolate peppermint cookies, chocolate peppermint truffles, peppermint marshmallows, and peppermint taffy (the only thing that was store-bought). I even bought the pretty little red and white bakery boxes from Martha Stewart. Red, white, pepperminty... a perfect set of Christmas treats!

The cookies went off without a hitch. I had some trouble even finding the taffy at stores this year. The truffles? A lot messier than I thought, but delicious. The marshmallows? Ah, the marshmallows. Now, those are a different story entirely. I had a recipe from last year's Martha Stewart Christmas magazine. It sounded easy enough. Ha ha ha. Not so easy after all. Well, to be fair, it wasn't that they were all that difficult to make... it was just that the recipe left out a couple of really HELPFUL hints. So, how about an edited version so you don't have the same issues that I did... sloppy candy goo overflowing all over you flat-top cooking range. You don't even want to know how long that took to clean up! And, let's not forget that the Martha recipe left out the fact that to achieve a look of anything other than a slick, shiny, jiggly mass after the marshmallows have set... you need to lightly dust them with powdered sugar. Fortunately, they still turned out and were DELICIOUS! And, after a dusting of powdered sugar, they looked pretty too!

*** Okay, all my mixed-feelings about this recipe aside, Martha rocks because, as I was typing this, I just received her daily Christmas Workshop newsletter in my inbox. And, guess what? She featured my little house ornaments that I made for the LT swap in today's newsletter! Squee!!!!! Yup. Martha rocks!*** Here's what the e-mail looks like:

So anyway... back to the marshmallows. What you'll need (in addition to an 8" square pan, candy thermometer, parchment paper, and a couple other common kitchen tools):

* Vegetable-oil cooking spray
* 2 C sugar
* 1 Tbs light corn syrup
* 4 pkgs. (1/4 oz. each) unflavored gelatin
* 1/4 tsp. pure peppermint extract
* 2 lg. eggs
* Red food coloring
*Powdered sugar for dusting

Coat an 8" square baking w/ cooking spray. Line bottom of pan w/ parchment paper, then also coat parchment paper w/ cooking spray; set pan aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 C water into a med. saucepan. Cook over med. heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. (Don't get discouraged, it DOES take a while). Continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. (Again, this takes quite a while longer than I thought, so don't give up.) Raise heat to med-high; cook until mixture comes to a boil. Raise heat to med-high; cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer. (Another step that was quite the wait).

Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 C water in a heat-proof bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set over a pan of simmering water; whisk until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat & stir in peppermint extract; set aside.

Put egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted w/ the whisk attachment; beat on high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. I think this took about 5 or so minutes.

***Here's the part where it all went wrong*** DO NOT (I don't care what the recipe says) mix the gelatin into the sugar mixture while still on the stove. It will IMMEDIATELY boil completely over the pot. Trust me, you don't want to clean up that gooey, cooked-on mess. INSTEAD, add the gelatin directly to the electric mixer, followed by the sugar mixture. Beat on high speed until very thick. This took about 12-15 minutes.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Working quickly (and I ain't lying when I say QUICKLY), drop dots of red food coloring across surface of marshmallows (I used 9 drops). Use a toothpick to quickly swirl food coloring into marshmallows to create a marbleized effect. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature at least 3 hours or overnight (I let it sit overnight).

Once you're ready to cut it up, dust the top of marshmallows lightly with powdered sugar. Turn pan out onto waxed paper; dust opposite side with powdered sugar. Cut into 2" squares. Place a small amount of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl, and dip all 4 edges of marshmallow in the sugar. Voila! Yummy, yummy peppermint marshmallows (without the totally disasterous mess I encountered... hopefully.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hello. Hello.

Well, I didn't mean to be away that long. I've actually had quite a bit to share over the last few days. But, as you know... the holidays seem to keep us all quite busy. Computer work has been on the bottom of the to-do list for quite a while. To be honest... so has creating. But, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. All of the family presents have been wrapped, and are in the mail (as of this afternoon). The shopping is done. The doll house is well on its way to completion (thank heavens). So, why do I still feel so overwhelmed? Probably because I had planned on being done with all of my deadlines and obligations by yesterday so that I could officially enjoy the last week and a half before Christmas. As it is, I'll be lucky if I can get everything done by Saturday and enjoy the last 4 days before Santa arrives.

There are still Label Tulip projects to be made... thanks to the sucky USPS for losing my first package from LT. I still have projects to make with my goodies from Sketchbook Designs. There is baking to be done, presents to be wrapped, packing to be done (we're going to DC after Christmas). Whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it, and I'm sure there are still some things I left off of that list.

On a happier note, I got a huge shipment of goodies from Chatterbox! Seriously. Huge. The box stood about half-way up my thigh and weighed over 50 lbs! I've never worked for such a generous company. Here are a few peeks at the contents. Although, it is impossible to grasp how much product there really was... at least 3 of everything they made! These pictures certainly don't do the stash justice!

Now, what to do with all of that delicious product? To spite how busy everything has been, I had to take some time out this weekend to play! So, how about a quick little project idea? Marie from Sketchbook Designs included this cute little 6x6 white acrylic mini-book in my box of stuff to play with. And, I had some 6x6 pockets lying around from sarabinders. These are the particular pockets I used for this project. And, ya' know what those pockets are perfect for? Holding CD's. So, I made a little storage album to put all of my CD's full of family pictures after I download them to my computer and burn them off.

And I swear, the new "Together" line from Chatterbox was made just perfectly for a project like this! The line includes cardstock labels, stickers, numbers and date embellishments... among lots of other stuff. It coordinates with all of the Willow, Peacock Ruby and Chocolate embellishments and alphas from the artsy.liscious line. Love those colors! Here's what the inside pockets look like:

Well, that's all I have for today. Now, if you'll excuse me... I have some cookies to bake, and a pile of Label Tulip stuff to start on. I'll be back later with some peeks. By the way, the LT gallery will be posted later this month on Dec 20th at 6pm PST. I'm not the only one of the girls that had issues with their package arriving. So, stay tuned for a couple of peeks this week and the full reveal on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

For the birds...

Here's a fun little activity to keep the kids busy during Christmas break. And, something to keep them from asking "How much longer until Santa comes?" for at least an hour. Handmade treats for your feathered friends outdoors...

You'll need:

* Several slices of bread
* Holiday cookie cutters (we used snowflakes)
* A plastic straw
* Baker's twine
* Peanut butter
* Mixed bird seed

Step 1:

Use cookie cutters to cut shapes from your bread slices:

Step 2:

Use the straw to poke a hole at the top of the shaped bread. This will be where you tie the twine through for hanging.

**After Step 2, you must allow the bread to sit out for several hours until it hardens (I left it out overnight and started Step 3 the next morning).

Step 3:

Tie the twine through the hole, and coat each shape with peanut butter.

Step 4:

Once all the "ornaments" are coated in peanut butter, dip them in the birdseed. I feed birds regularly throughout the year, and always keep a supply of seed in a large plastic tub. I just dipped the ornaments directly into the tub. You could also pour some seed onto a plate, and work from there. Gently press the ornament into the seed until it is completed covered.

Step 5:

Hang from tree for the birds to enjoy!

Voila! A fun activity that will keep your kids busy for a little while during those long days of Christmas break!

Monday, December 8, 2008

My fingers hate me!

All because of this little project that I just HAD to do...

I took an antique soda crate (Coca Cola, of course), and used it to showcase my collection of vintage Shiny Brite ornaments. You have no idea how difficult it was to get those eye hooks screwed into each one of those little compartments. I thought I would be able to pull out the divider slats, and work on them outside of the crate. Or not. I had to cram my fingers in there, and work inside those itty bitty spaces. My poor fingertips are bruised and sore from pushing and screwing those darn eye hooks into that wood. But, about 2 hours later, I ended up with that nifty little display! I have big plans for this little holiday vignette area in the years to come. This year, however, I'm just a little too much "bah-humbug" to put a lot of effort into it. Plus, I am in dire need of some major flea marketing to complete my projects. On the list: vintage candlesticks (to mount my collection of vintage tree toppers on... a couple are on top of the crate here), ornate frames for a wall-hanging involving some gorgeous vintage light reflectors I just snagged, 3-D papier mache letters for the same wall hanging, and some vintage alphabet building blocks to adorn the top of the crate and spell out something Christmasy. Well, at least I know I have some projects to keep me busy while Bryan is deployed next year.

We spent most of this weekend at Hazel's first cheerleading competition (that's her on the top)...

So precious! And, she had the best time! Her team was champions of the "Tiny" division (it helps when you're the only team competing in your age group...LOL!). But, look at that trophy... it's almost bigger than she is!

That pretty much took up the whole weekend. Well, that and some outdoor decorating and serious dollhouse building. What did your weekend hold in store? I'll be back later with some updates from my December Daily album. Amazingly, I'm keeping on top of it... sort of.

Friday, December 5, 2008

*stuff it*

So, I've finally got my Christmas cards done. Well, some of them anyway. I've got to tell you... I LOVE these snowflakes from Sketchbook Designs! Marie sent me so much awesome product to work with, but I just can't put these snowflakes away. There are so many possibilities... cover them in glass glitter (like on the "Noel" card), add little rhinestones, or just use them in all their beautiful simplicity! The fabulous mirrored letters on the 2nd "let It Snow" card are also from Sketchbook Designs... so pretty!

So, now that I have cards, I need some pictures to stuff them with. Hazel, by herself (even with the dog), takes a pretty cute pic...

But, add Luka AND the dog into the mix? Forget about it! Even Luka and Hazel by themselves ends in a lot of botched pictures. I got two that are pretty darn cute...

I'm having a hard time deciding which one to use in the Christmas cards. As cute as the kissing one is, I think my family would appreciate the one where they can see their faces and how they've grown. I just wish Luka would smile more in pictures, rather than that blank expression. So, which picture do you think I should use?

On to Friday Fill-Ins...

1. Snow. I miss it. It just doesn't feel like Christmas without it.

2. I'm looking forward to Hazel's cheerleading competition tomorrow.

3. Orville Redenbacher's Cracked Pepper Natural Popcorn is the best popcorn ever! I'm sooo... addicted!

4. One of my favorite old tv shows is Designing Women. I know. Embarrassing, right?

5. I'm done with quite a bit of my to-do list for this week. Finally!

6. The most enjoyable thing around the holidays is the food. Food, glorious food! I'll be starting my diet on Jan 1st.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a lot, tomorrow my plans include Hazel's cheerleading competition and building her dollhouse for Christmas and Sunday, I want to put up our outside Christmas lights!

That's it. Happy Friday peeps!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dear December,

How did you manage to sneak up on me this year? I swear, last week June and I were kickin' it. But, now I'm trying to get acquainted with these frosty mornings where you can see your breath lingering in the air. How is it possible that the summer sun has already gone on vacay? Don't get me wrong, I love the chilly temperatures that you bring with you. I love the mornings filled with hot chocolate, knit slippers, and Christmas music floating happily about my living room. Hey, I know that you can't turn back the clock, but could you at least slow down a little bit? I am not in the holiday spirit. I need more time. I'm just not feeling ya' yet, December. So, don't you dare go thinking that you can fast forward to Christmas day in the blink of an eye. Don't you dare... or I might not be willing to kiss and make up when you decide you want to get back together next year.


P.S. I thought I would include some pictures of the ornaments I made for the swap I hosted over at Label Tulip. You know, in some attempt to prove that I haven't totally wasted the first two days you've managed to whiz right past me. Again, if you could just slow down a little bit, I could get more pretty little things like these made.

Don't you just love those pretty little snowflakes? A couple of weeks ago, Marie of Sketchbook Designs asked if I would be interested in working with some of her fabulous products, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity! Be sure to check back over the next few days to see what else I have created with the goodies that she sent me... lots of fun Christmas projects and gift ideas! In the meantime, you might want to take a look around her Etsy store. She makes tons of cute wood, chipboard, mirrored and acrylic shapes, in addition to some wonderfully crafted acrylic albums... perfect to add to your list for Santa. ;0)

Oh, and one more thing... Label Tulip's stamp boutique is officially open for business again! In addition to the stamps, you won't want to miss out on the limited-time offer of some fabulous grab bags and 40% off all available previous kits (except from November). But, hurry up and stuff your stockings! Supplies are limited to stock on-hand, and won't be available after December 31st!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

funny little thing...

this place called the internet is. You see, I started out here, which took me here, where I discovered this, made by him. Tim Haugen. Oh, my. This man is crazy talented. And, you know I like to share good things when I find them. And, these things are oh. so. good. His adorable softies aren't stuffed animals so much as they are plush little works of art. Which leaves me with a wee dilemma... do I buy these for my kids, or hoard them all to myself?

Freaking adorable, right? Hello? Tap. Tap. Is this thing on? Santa? I'll be an extra-good girl if you'd kindly just drop one of these lovelies in my stocking on Christmas morn. Yup. Thanks.

You can check out more of Tim Haugen's creations at his Etsy store or at the Fantastic Toys blog. Oh yes, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Have you checked out Prima's blog lately? They finally announced the winners of the Build-A-Book contest! Remember this banner that I made for on of my nieces for Christmas?

Third place... not too shabby! There were some beautiful projects. I especially loved the Christmas and Paris books... SO fantastically detailed!

That's all I really had to say. I've been busy trying to get my house cleaned before my parents arrive today. There's also been some Thanksgiving cooking preparations thrown in there, and I've been trying to squeeze in some crafting time too. We'll see how successful that endeavor is. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and, if you're traveling... be safe!

Monday, November 24, 2008

...better late than never...

That seems to be my life's little slogan these days. It's the holidays. Usually, I am in a Christmas crafting frenzy by this time. So, what's the deal with this year? Meh. It's not that I don't have ideas. It's not that I haven't been busier than a one-armed paper hanger (where did that phrase come from, anyway?). It certainly isn't for lack of trying. Things just don't seem to be coming together the way that they should.

It will be December in a few short days, and I have yet to even start making my Christmas cards. I don't even have any design in mind. And, I'll let you in on a little secret. Shhhhhh... come closer. Just a little closer... I don't want anyone else to hear this. I might actually send out *gasp* BOXED cards this year! I know. Shameful, isn't it? Of course I'll make a couple handmade ones for my mom, my bestie, and a couple of crafty buddies (actually, I'll probably pull from the pile of cards I've made for some DT obligations). But, they rest of you... if you're out there... you'll all be getting the Target specials. I make no apologies. Most of you probably just end up chucking my glittery hard work in the circular file at the end of the holidays anyway.

I've purchased Santa hats for the kids (and reindeer antlers for the dog... sorry, Sake) in hopes of snapping some photos to stuff in those cards. No studio shots this year. Not in the budget. If I manage to escape from the "better late than never" curse that is hiding in every little corner of my world, I might actually get some of the photos printed from Maybe not.

So, by this time, I imagine you're thinking, "Get on with it lady! Where's they eye candy?" Oh. You actually come here planning to see something crafty? I see. I see. I have one page to share. That's it. One. Uno. Eins.

A LO I made for the current challenge at So Tell Me Your Story. "Scrap what you're thankful for" seems to be a popular theme for challenges this time of year. I know it was what I chose for November's LT challenge this month. Original, right? And, in attempt to be a little more introspective on the theme, I created this page. (Plus, I had already scrapped about how thankful I am for my fam in the LT challenge). I'm not going to go into the whole story behind this layout. Not here. But, I'll just say that as far as relationships go (not of the marital sort, mind you), it was time to let go of a couple that were more of the painful variety. And, I'm thankful that I finally reached inside, and found the strength to walk away. I tend to make excuses for people when they hurt me. Way too many excuses. Time to shake free of that. Life is too short. Sometimes, you just run out of excuses. Sometimes, things are just unforgivable. Sometimes, you just. have. to. let. go. Even if it hurts a little. Or a lot. And, that's all she had to say about that.

And, sticking with the whole "better late than never theme," how about some Friday fill-ins. I know. I know. It's Monday... not Friday. And, yes, I know everyone else is doing it. But, it's a fun way to let a little bit more of myself peek out from the cracks. And, I was missing blogging even when I didn't have something crafty to share. So, here we go. Friday fill-ins on a Monday morn...

1. The last band I saw live was Dave Matthews Band. Sad. I used to go see them every year. Last time I went? 2005. Sad. Just sad.

2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is food, family, champagne, and did I mention food?

3. My Christmas shopping is a work in progress. I'm usually done by Thanksgiving. As for this year, please refer to the title of this post.

4. Thoughts of chores fill my head. Again, sad. There is SO MUCH to do before my dad and Carol get here on Wed!

5. I wish I could wear half of what's in my closet. I've gained a little weight. Just enough to make things fit a little too snug. And, I've got some pieces in need of some serious repair that are hidden in there. Guess I should break out the sewing kit... and my elliptical machine.

6. Bagpipes. My cousin and uncle play the bagpipes. And, they play them well... even marched with their Scottish band at Dollywood. How many of you can say that? LOL!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _____, tomorrow my plans include _____ and Sunday, I want to _____! Okay, it's Monday. The weekend is over. So, let's rephrase this. Tonight I'm looking forward to nothing. Believe it or not, I do not enjoy the frantic cleaning that occurs before Thanksgiving and a visit from the 'rents. And, did I mention that, in the middle of said cleaning, I have to get Hazel all the way across town to cheerleading practice? Today does not look to be much fun. Tomorrow my plans include cleaning, cooking, more cleaning. And, Wednesday I want to have most of my cooking prep done, and start working with some top-secret product that was sent my way! I'll be back to share some of those goodies soon. Promise. Promise.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Real Simple

I love that magazine. I anxiously await its arrival in my mailbox every month. And, I think that one of my favorite parts of each issue is where they ask readers what they would do if they had an extra $100 to spend. They totally break it down . I love that little peek into someone's life. So, I thought it would be fun to work through that little exercise myself. I even got down to the nitty gritty by adding in the sales tax...LOL! And, away we go...

$6.68 for this yummy little candle. On sale... can't beat that!

$35.50 (with shipping) for this pretty wreath from here:

Too bad "quantities are limited," and I don't have the $36 bucks to spare right now. Bryan probably wouldn't be too jazzed with a pink wreath on the front door anyway (ask me if I care). Ha!

$12.00 for a quick nacho dinner for Bryan and me at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

$6.96 for this adorable little owl stamp (gotta' love Her Arts):

Hey, you really didn't think I was going to make a list that didn't include some sort of scrappy supply, did you? And, a girl's gotta' make some cute Christmas cards! Right? As it is, I have no designs in mind, and little enthusiasm to make them. I'm thinking it might just have to be boxed cards this year. Eek! Did I just admit to that?

$18.73 for the extra-large "Seal of Approval" squeeze punch from Fiskars.

$10 for a can of my FAVORITE treat that is only available during the holidays: Candy Cane Almond Roca... ALL. FOR. MYSELF. *drool*

And, $9.99 to download the new album from these guys (The Fratellis):

That about sums it up. Literally. Wow. Looking at what I have here, $100 seems to go so much further on paper than it does in real life. Because, let's be honest, if I actually had $100 right now, it would be spent on Christmas presents. Oh, well.

I'll be back with something crafty to share soon. I've been on a bit of a creative hiatus lately... lots of holiday prep to get taken care of! Is everyone ready for Thanksgiving? I know we are. Only one more week! Really, how did that happen? How is it already turkey time?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Brought to you by the letter "S" for "Stickles"

Okay. I don't know what my obsession is with these yummy little tubes of glittery gooeyness... but I think they made their way into every single Label Tulip project for this month. Actually, there is one page that doesn't have them. But, I'm starting to think it needs so. Wait. Put the Stickles down and walk away, Holly. I think it's because it's the holiday season and, to me, glitter goes hand-in-hand with Christmas. Whatever the reason, see if you can spot the Stickles in each project...tee hee!

The first-ever project kit being offered by Label Tulip: a banner kit. Sorry ladies, it's already sold out. :0(

Hazel as Fancy Nancy...

My December Daily album... all set to fill up with memories next month. I'll be posting my inside pages throughout next month, so be sure to check back. ;0)

Our member gallery lift this month came from Jennifer Yates. Here is her page:

And, here's mine:

I'm really not feeling that page of mine, but you can't win 'em all. On the other hand, I think this is one of my favorite pages of all time. I love this photo of when I was little, and I'm so happy with how the page turned out!

I finally got to scrap those fun pictures of Sake and Mr. Bumbles from this summer. And, how perfect is it that the Basic Grey "Patchwork Quilt" paper with the bees was included in this month's main kit? Pretty perfect.

And, the final LT piece for this month is from our challenge: scrap what you're thankful for.

One more layout from the current challenge at Say It In Scrap: The Games We Play...

Well, that's all for today. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!