Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday happiness

My favorite new musical artist (well, new to me). And, no, it isn't just because we share the same name. ;0) She just plain rocks. Holly Conlan...

On to some Friday fill-in's. The questions just plain suited me this week, so I had to post 'em!

1. It's time for my blogiversary!
That's right... I've been at it here for 2 years! Hard to believe. I never even kept a pen and paper diary going for that long. Maybe it's just the amazing blog community that keeps me going. Yep. That must be it! Anyway, I know NaBloPoMo is usually observed in November, but I'll be celebrating my version of the daily blogging ritual during the month of August. That's right... a post a day. Lots of inspiration, crafting, tutorials, recipes and even a couple of giveaways! That's right... free stuff! And, good free stuff too! Not just stuff I scrounged from drawers in my craft room. And, remember that whole 12 months of Christmas project? Yeah... we're getting back on track with that! So, be sure to check back... the fun starts tomorrow! ;0)

2. North Carolina; it's not a bad place for seafood. Look at these little guys that Bryan picked up on the way home from work today...

$12 for a dozen! Can't beat that. I see lots of blue crab nights in my future.

3. I must be crazy... to have shown those LIVE crabs to the kids. Now, they want to keep them... as pets.

4. Loving them...

is the best thing I have ever known. Even if they have *TOTALLY* tried my patience this last week, and worked every last nerve. They're still the sweetest things on earth.

5. My life is simply wonderful right now! I am enjoying every last second with Bryan before he leaves. We're having tons of fun, and making lots of memories.

6. The last time I laughed really loudly was last night... at one of my favorite episodes of George Lopez. Yes, I'm a Nick at Nite junkie!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to... cooking up those yummy blue crabs up there!!

Tomorrow my plans include... a garage sale. No fun, no fun. But, the get-together afterward with friends will make it all worth it!

And Sunday, I want to... take a trip to the Raleigh flea market to see what treasures I can find. Hopefully something as cool as this vintage canister set that I scored just recently...

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I ♥ Sushi!

It's no secret. I love the raw stuff. And, since sushi is on the, shall we say "expensive" side here in the dirty south (not to mention the *good* stuff is hard to come by)... I try to find other ways to get my fix. I've found some lovely creations through Etsy, and just thought I would share with my fellow sushi lovers! There is sushi goodies to adorn, literally, every surface known to man. I figure if I can't actually consume the sushi, I can at least adorn myself (and nearly every surface of my home) with it! Check it:

Sushi for your ears...

from PetitPlat.

Sushi for your bulletin board...

from Bear Duck Designs.

Sushi for your refrigerator (the outside of it, that is)...

from gossamer*buddha designs.

Sushi for your bathroom...

from Bunny Bubbles.

Sushi for your wall...

from beepart.

Sushi for your wrist...

insanejellyfish designs.

Sushi for your purse...

from Madame Cupcake.

Sushi for your finger...

from Elleban's Cuties.

Sushi for your... whatever...

from Jenny Pie Productions.

Sushi for your kids to pretend-play with...

from Sam McLean Designs.

Sushi for your neck...

from Bead Passion.

Even sushi for your precious little baby's feet...

from Sushi Booties.

Bon appetit! Or, as they would say in Japan... "douzo meshiagare."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

***NEW Pink Paislee***

As promised, albeit a day late (sorry, my mother-in-law is in town for her birthday, and we have been entertaining her)... If you haven't already been checking out the Pink Paislee blog to take a gander at their new products for release at the current CHA, I have some little peeks to share with you here. First, we'll start with my favorite collection... "Cupid":

Then, there's one of my favorite new collections for Christmas, "Mistletoe & Co.":

Then, we have their fun Halloween collection called "Twilight":

And, finally... some lovely "Amber Road":

These collections were just begging to be paired up with some vintage photos, so this was the perfect opportunity to break into a box of old photos that my dad recently gave me.

I think you all will really enjoy playing with these new collections. In my opinion, they are some of the best Pink Paislee project ever, ever! I have lots of fun projects planned for putting them to use throughout the rest of the year, so keep your eyes glued to the Pink Paislee blog for more fun in the coming months!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

It's been a while since I've done Friday fill-ins. So, just for kicks on a Friday...

1. Deployments are not the end of the world. I need to make that my mantra for the next few months. I've done it before, and I'll do it again. Hopefully, this one will be a little easier.

2. Sitting here, listening to the sound of rain falling, I miss Seattle. Rain always makes me think of Seattle. It will be the best day of my life when Bryan retires and we can move back.

3. Cupcakes taste so good! I just ordered these pretties from Bake It Pretty. They will be making their debut as teacher/neighbor/cheerleading coach gifts this Christmas. A beautifully decorated cupcake, wrapped up in a wee little cupcake box, topped off with a handmade chocolate lollipop. So fun! Now, I just need to find the perfect cupcake recipe...

4. Sometimes, putting others first is not the best plan. Admittedly, I am a people-pleaser. I always have been. My children, my husband, my parents... but, as I get older, I realize that sometimes it is necessary to do something nice for yourself. Don't worry so much about making everyone else happy all the time.

5. New Mexico is breathtaking, really. In my opinion, it is the prettiest place in the United States. The colors, the culture, the landscape... If you've never been before, I highly recommend going!

6. Well, maybe there is a chance that Bryan will be home for Hazel's first day of school. Their deployment might have gotten pushed back a wee bit. Small, reserved *yay*!

7. And as for the weekend, today I'm looking forward to making red pepper jelly. Actually, I already did that with some beautiful peppers from my garden. Can't wait to try it!

Tomorrow my plans include celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday (she is flying in tonight for a weekend visit).

And Sunday, I want to (make that NEED to) weed my flower beds!

That's it for me. I gotta' get ready to go pick my MIL up in Raleigh. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! I'll be back tomorrow with some Pink Paislee peeks. You won't want to miss out!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

*dream* team

As most of you know, American Crafts recently had a call go out for their new contributing design team. What a dream job! I mean... who doesn't *love* Thickers? I know my collection takes up numerous drawers in my craft room!

I'm not holding my breath on this DT announcement... everyone and their mother tries out for this one. As it is, I think this is possibly my 3rd time (definitely my 2nd) to try for this team. I wish everyone who submitted GOOD LUCK! Anyhow... I thought I would go ahead and share my submissions...

Well, that just about sums it up! Now, the waiting game begins... August can't come soon enough!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cherry Clafouti

This past weekend, we had a birthday party to go to. Everyone was asked to bring a dish. Me? I brought baked beans and cherry clafouti.

This truly is my *OWN* recipe. For years, I've had a recipe stashed away for cherry clafouti from Martha Stewart. I finally decided to pull it out. It called for almonds (we have nut allergies in this house) and LOTS of eggs. So, I researched a few other clafouti recipes. Turns out, *4* eggs (WAY less than the Martha recipe) was *too* much for some people. Hmmm... what to do? Nothing left to do but experiment! And, I came up with something that definitely satisfied my taste buds.

Two points before venturing out on making a clafouti of your own...

1). If you don't like custards or flans... you won't like this recipe (no matter how many eggs you omit).

2). If you don't like cherries (like my husband)... you DEFINITELY won't like this recipe. But, you're in luck! You can substitute lots of other fruits for the cherries. *wink* *wink*

3). Serve this WARM. When we brought it to the party, I forgot to remind the hostess not to refrigerate it... and to REHEAT before serving. It's *not* good cold!

***As you know, measurements and instructions need to be very specific when it comes to baking.***

Here's my recipe...

1 Tbs unsalted butter *at room temperature*
1/3 C, plus 1 Tbs granulated sugar
3 large eggs *at room temperature*
6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest (approx. 1 lg. lemon)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 lb. fresh red cherries *pitted*
1 Tbs. turbinado sugar
Powdered sugar (for serving)
Vanilla bean ice cream (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Start pitting the cherries. If you're lucky, you'll be able to get your hands on one of these. They're freakin' adorable, and sure to get your kids in on the action. But, if you're like me, your Bed Bath and Beyond will suck and not carry them. Not to worry, just buy a cherry pitter (about $13) and do it yourself.

After the cherries are pitted, butter a 9" square baking tin with the unsalted butter. Then, sprinkle the pan with the 1 Tbs of granulated sugar. In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk (or whisking by hand), beat the eggs and 1/3 C granulated sugar on med-high until fluffy (about 3 min.).

Switch the mixer to low speed and add the flour, cream , vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt. Beat until combined; set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange the pitted cherries on the bottom of the baking tin. Then, pour the batter over the tops of the cherries. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes (until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm).

To serve... sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm, topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. YUM!

If there are left-overs... just refrigerate them, and reheat! (This has been serving as a very yummy breakfast treat for me over the last several days).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Here we go...

I guess it's about time that I posted my layouts from Label Tulip this month! We have been so busy these past few days, blogging has been at the bottom of my priority list. 'Tis the season for CHA project deadlines, summer BBQ's, and *dream* DT call try-outs! ;0) But, I decided to take a break for a few minutes to show my blog some love. And, the LT kits truly deserve their due attention this month 'cuz they are *A*mazing!

This month's challenge was to scrap about one of the most exciting moments of our life. One of mine had to be when I got to meet Tori Amos. If you know me at all, you know how much I love my music... and Tori has always been one of my favorite artists.

This is my take on this month's member gallery lift, which came from the talented Amy Coose. Here's her beautiful layout...

Gorgeous, isn't it? It was so much fun to lift!

A quick little card.

And, then there's the project that ate up nearly all my product and time from this month's kit. LOL! My mini-book about our trip to Disney World...


You can view the book in its entirety here. A couple of fun tips for working with Donna Downey's Prima fabric albums...

If you have A LOT of pictures (like me) that won't all fit into the book in a larger format, sew little pockets into the plastic page protectors included with the book. Then, you can print out lots of smaller photos, back them with some pretty patterned paper, and label them on the back with what the photo is of...

To make pretty backgrounds on the fabric pages, lay a piece of lace cardstock (like the Little Yellow Bicycle travel-themed one in this month's kit) over the fabric, and spray over it with some Maya Mist from Maya Road...

The creative possibilities are endless with this kit! Another great month with Label Tulip. :0) I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I'm off to finish up my Pink Paislee projects for CHA. You're gonna' LOVE their new goodies! And, I'll be back tomorrow with a little foodie post. Until then...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

*eye candy*

Just a couple of last-minute Label Tulip sneaks!

Be sure to check out the Label Tulip gallery tomorrow at 6pm PST to see the full reveal of all our talented Tulip Girls' work this month!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

♪♪♪ It's a small world ♪♪♪

Maybe it's the recent trip to Disney World, and hearing that song pumped through speakers all over the Fantasyland area of the park... but, I am currently obsessed with all things small. Tiny little worlds under bell jars, in photographs, on top of spools...I love them all! So, I thought I would share some of my favorite miniature artists as of late...

Katie Runnels has LONG been one of my favorite crafters. She's know particularly well for her yarn wreaths, of which I used to be a proud owner of... until my wreath hanger snapped while I was away from home, and Sake chewed it to bits before my return. :0( But, more so than her wreaths, I adore her magical dioramas!

Swan Song
Originally uploaded by Katie Runnels

Happy Bird
Originally uploaded by Katie Runnels

These particular pieces are part of the Deep South exhibit. But, Katie does have an Etsy shop, The Constant Gatherer, where you can purchase her works when available.

Amy Powers of Inspire Company create some insanely detailed miniature scenes. My favorite are the ones atop spools of thread...

It's been all I can do to restrain myself from placing that little guy into my virtual shopping cart. But, alas, we're trying to save some money after our Disney World splurge. I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope it's still there the next time a few extra dollars float my way. Want one for yourself? Amy's Etsy shop can be found here. Just promise not to buy my fave, k? ;0)

How about a crocheted terrarium scene?

Freakin' fabulous, right? They're from JackRabbit. She has tons of other cute stuff in her shop as well.

I've been a fan of Erin Tyner's work for quite some time. In fact, I've mentioned her on here once before. I adore her photographs of these wee dioramas. They are eerily beautiful.

Erin's prints can be purchased at her Etsy shop.

Those are some of my favorite arts in miniature. Have any that you'd care to share with me?

***For some Label Tulip sneaks, head on over to the LT blog. As part of our 2nd birthday celebration, I have created a fabric embellishment tutorial along with some sneaks of my projects for this month. Plus, you;ll get to learn a couple of nutty facts about me.***

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Now, that's what I call magic!"

Those were Hazel's exact words about halfway through the 4th of July fireworks show at Disney World. I had her on top of my shoulders so that she could see when I heard those words whisper from her little mouth. It brought tears to my eyes. Sappy, yes. But, it's those kind of moments that I will treasure forever.

Originally, Bryan and I were supposed to take the trip to Disney by ourselves. We've been married going on 5 years and, thanks to the hectic military schedule, never got to take a honeymoon. So, we finally made time for one before he deploys again next month. After spending 5 days in the park just the 2 of us, we agreed that we HAD to bring the kids back... on our way home to North Carolina for the 4th of July. It was the best decision I have ever made. I've never seen my kids so happy, and that was an amazing feeling.

Anyway, as I said, Bryan and I spent a few days by ourselves while the kids stayed behind with Mimi and Grandpa. There, they caught lobsters from a crane machine and helped Grandpa boil them up for dinner!

Hazel says, "Why don't we eat like this at home, Mom?" If only we had crane machines where you could catch a lobster for only $2... or if lobsters grew on trees!

Meanwhile, Bryan and I explored the parks. It was a Tuesday, and the park was amazingly uncrowded. We got to ride EVERYTHING! The teacups were Bryan's favorite. And, I think this has to be my favorite picture from the whole trip. It was hard to hold down my lunch and try to get this picture, though. LOL!

Disney was most amazing at night. The fireworks, the light parade... awesome!

I was really bummed that the Cinderella pumpkin float was excluded from the light parade when we took the kids back. Cinderella is Hazel's favorite. :0(

The next day, we check out Epcot. That was, by far, our favorite park (although, the kids wouldn't have been able to do much there... the height requirement for most of the rides was too tall).

Epcot's food was most amazing. We booked some great dinner reservations for our trip (including one of Emeril's restaurants), but Epcot still reigned superior. Well, at least to me. We ate lunch at The Biergarten Restaurant. Although the food wasn't the absolute BEST I had, the atmosphere was insanely fun. In fact, the whole German area of Epcot's World Showcase had me really crossing my fingers that Bryan gets stationed in Germany next time around. I just love the culture!

Dinner was at San Angel Inn. I had been there years before on a trip to Epcot with my parents. The interior of the restaurant is gorgeous... a faux outdoor (it's actually inside) Mexican cantina under the "night sky" with Mayan ruins in the background. The atmosphere is insane! And, I had the best chicken mole I've had since we discovered a little breakfast joint down an alley in Cozumel. You just can't find mole like that in the states! YUM!

I must admit, though... I had the BEST sushi ever at Rangetsu of Tokyo (outside of DIsney). If you're a fan of sushi, and find yourself in Orlando... this place is NOT to be missed! And, if you're into teppanyaki a la Benihana... Mikado's Japanese Steakhouse at Orlando World Center Marriott Resort (that's a mouthful) is to die for! If you can spring for the lobster and steak... go for it (*drool*)!

Okay, back from the food diversion... Bryan and I also got to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom, where we saw the tree of life:

Which is where I got my pic snapped in front of this amazingly carved monkey...

I also got to meet MY most favorite of Disney characters: Stitch!

Our last day was spent at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park. (Sorry, no bathing suit photos... that would be just criminal). If you want to check out the water park, I recommend getting there when it opens. Believe me, even at 9 am, Orlando is HOT enough to enjoy a water park. We got to go on every ride in the park (with hardly ANY lines), and were ready to leave the park by 12:30.

Then, we checked out Downtown Disney... lots of SHOPPING and FUN restaurants (even a Cirque du Soleil show). This was a nice way to unwind in the afternoon (and the parking is FREE... no admission to the area either). They have an amazing World of Disney store full of every souvenir you could imagine! Seriously... 12 ROOMS full of Disney goodies! Totally overwhelming (and not recommended to take kids to if you're on a strict budget... LOL!)

The best part of Downtown Disney was T-Rex Cafe. It was created by the same folks that brought you The Rainforest Cafe... same gig except with animatronic dinosaurs instead of rainforest creatures. Bryan and I saved that restaurant until we brought the kids back. If you have a boy like mine that loves dinosaurs, this restaurant is a MUST-DO! And, the food isn't half-bad either (although, a little on the spendy side).

Another part of Downtown Disney I was most impressed with was The Lego Imagination Center! It's a HUGE Lego store. There's even a room full of different bins containing various Lego pieces, where you can put together your own Lego kit to purchase. Just fill up one of 2 different-sized cups with WHATEVER your heart desires... for one flat price. Then, you can go check out the AMAZING Lego statues outside...

Seriously, that whole sea serpent... made of LEGOS! Pretty amazing, huh?

Then, it was time to head back to Mimi's and Grandpa's for a couple of days before taking the kids back for some fun! The first stop we made on the way back was to SeaWorld. We met Shamu...

Fed and pet on some dolphins. (Hazel says the feel "soft, yet rubbery.")

And, got our faces painted...

Then, it was time to rest-up for our fun-filled day at Disney! Luka eagerly waited while the mayor of Disney S.L.O.W.L.Y. (well, slow to a 2-year old) opened the park...

We met princesses...

visited Minnie's house...

ate suckers bigger than our heads...

and tried to help Daddy extract the sword from the stone...

And my daughter, my darling daughter... she makes friends wherever she goes. This child has never met a stranger (which probably isn't a good thing, as I am constantly reminding her). While we were waiting for the 4th of July fireworks in front of the castle (a 2 HOUR wait!), she was busy making friends with this church group of 13-15 year old girls from Brazil. They barely spoke English, and the only Spanish Hazel knows she learned from Dora. But, they kept each other entertained for that whole 2 hours. The girls thought Hazel was so cute... they all took turns posing for pictures with her. Then, Hazel wanted her picture taken with all of them. Too cute!

It was a fabulous trip filled with memories that I will treasure for a lifetime! Not to mention that I have over 300 of those images recorded on camera to sort through and scrap soon. ;0) So, please bear with me while we get settled back into non-vacation life... it's tough!

**I know that many of you are heading to Orlando for CHA later this month, and might be contemplating a trip to Disney. If you have any questions for me, I would be happy to answer them. If you've never been to Disney before, or if you haven't been in years like me (believe me, A LOT has changed), I have lots of tips... places to eat (or NOT to eat), ways to beat the heat, shops not to miss, the best rides, etc. Just post your questions in the comments section, and I will answer them there!**