Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gettin' spooky...

I am so lucky to be able to participate in this year's Sweet & Sinister Halloween swap hosted yearly by the queen of Halloween, Kari Ramstrom aka Artsy Mama. (Who coincidentally also happens to be my swap partner!)

One of the swap items is to be something that we handmade especially for the recipient. So, here are some little trinkets that I made for Kari and her two kiddos.



If you've been paying any attention around the vintage/home decor circles lately, you'll know that collecting old prize ribbons (especially of the equestrian variety) is all the rage. Who would have thought all those ribbons I won way back when I showed hunter jumpers would actually be considered a hot commodity in the circles of home decorating someday? Good thing my mom saved plastic tub upon plastic tub filled with them. I really should ask her to send them to me...

Anyhow, if you aren't fortunate enough to have your own collection of dust-collecting rosettes sitting up in your attic, you can always make your own. And, they're quite simple at that. All of these prize ribbons are made from the new "Twilight" line by Pink Paislee, some bits of vintage trim from my stash, and a little bit of Stickles (because we all know I can't create something without a little sparkle).

I tried a couple of different techniques for the centers of the rosettes. The most simple is to start off with a couple of the circular designs from the Twilight Punchouts. I used a 2" circle punch to trim them down, and then punched out 2 circles for each rosette from a piece of thin chipboard (like you'd find on the back of a slab of patterned paper). Mount the punch-outs on top of the punched chipboard. This just gives it a little more of a sturdy background. Ink the edges of the rounds with some black dye ink. You'll end up with something that looks like this:



You'll notice a different method used for the piece on the bottom left. For that, I cut a 3" circle from one of the Twilight Patches. Then, I only inked the edge of the circular tree stamp from this set, and stamped it onto the fabric (using some black Fabrico ink). Then, I secured it to another 2" punched circle of chipboard. Secure the edges of the fabric to the back of the chipboard using hot glue. You'll have something like this:



Next, we'll be working with some of this fabulous fringed crepe paper from Bethany Lowe. I cut a strip of it, and then cut it in half length-wise to get a thinner strip with a straight edge. Use hot glue to run it around the back edge of the chipboard:



Then, we'll add an edge of pleated black satin ribbon. I buy pre-pleated ribbon, but if you're a whiz with a sewing machine... go ahead and pleat your own. But, as I said... I buy mine (to save both time AND sanity). Affix it to the back of the chipboard using hot glue:



The back will look like this:



Now for the ribbon tails. I cut 3 lengths of black satin ribbon to about 6" long. Attach them to the back of the chipboard like so:



This is all beginning to look a bit messy, isn't it? Not to worry! Remember those extra circles we punched from the chipboard? We'll just cover that mess up with one of those (and some more hot glue):



I know, I should really buy stock in whatever company manufacturers hot glue. It is my best sticky friend. Again, with the hot glue... adhere a pin back to the back of the chipboard:



Now, it's time to get those rosettes prettied up in the holiday finest! I added names to the ribbons using some Expressions Whimsies Alhpas in "Pumpkin," and added a little sparkle atop them with my trusty Stickles. I also edged some elments in the centers of the rosettes with a bit more sparkle. Add some bling... make it purdy!



To the center of the fabric covered rosette, I used the bat image from the Twilight Rub-ons, applied it to a piece of smooth white cardstock, cut it out, and adhered it to the middle of the fabric circle. You can see it in the bottom right of this next image... all gussied up with some sparkle of its own:



"Now, what the heck am I actually supposed to USE these for?" you're asking. Well, I used them to label little goodies bags filled with Halloween treats. Simply punch two small holes at the top of a folded-over goodie bag, and run the pin back through them:





Something else that might be fun... make actual prize ribbons out of them! We host an annual Halloween costume party at our house every year. Well, every year that B isn't deployed. So, instead of names on the ribbon, wouldn't it be cool to write "1st Place, "2nd Place," etc., and hand them out as awards for the best costumes at your party? I'm definitely adding that to my to-do list for next year's party. *wink*

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Fond Farewell

Well, folks... this is my last month with Label Tulip. It's a tad bittersweet to say goodbye, but there are exciting things to come! Without further ado, here are my final LT projects...

This month's member lift comes from the very talented Leigh Penner. Here is her layout that she was so kind as to let us lift:



And, here's my lift of it (finally... a page design that worked well to scrap about all of my canning experiments this summer!)...



A little "outside the box" creation using the large, gorgeous Prima flower and Maya Road velvet trim from the main kit...



And, just in time for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, a little card to tell someone that you love just how thankful you are to have them in your life...



Finally, one last layout for this month's challenge: write a letter to your 18 year old self, and scrap about it. It's hard to believe that was my senior picture... 14 years ago. 14 years. Wow. Just typing that makes me feel old. It seems like it was just a couple of years back...



Well, that's all she wrote for the Label Tulip chapter of my career. It has been a good run, and I thank Cathy from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to be the coordinator for her amazing design team. I've met so many fun, talented, and insanely creative people through the Label Tulip community. I'm thankful for all of you, and hope we can stay in touch.

As for me... stay tuned for a VERY EXCITING announcement coming around abouts the 25th of this month. *wink* *wink* Happy weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Not too Shabby...

I am so honored to have been asked to be the September guest designer over at Shabby Chic Crafts! Veronica has some of the most gorgeous tags... lots with that lovely vintage look that is becoming so sought-after in the scrapbooking community these days! I had so much fun creating with them, and would love to share some of my projects with you!

First up, a layout about Hazel's first day of school made using theWood Grain Tags (one of my absolute FAVORITES), a Vintage School Card, one of the Vintage School Circles, and lots of yummy Cosmo Cricket and Sass goodies!







Next up: my December Daily journal for this year! It feels like such an accomplishment to have it done so far in advance, and the Shabby Chic Crafts tags were the perfect addition to this colorful album! I used one of the Creative Imaginations Easel Frame Albums for this, and I love that it has the easel back that pops out so that my book can stand up, and be displayed throughout this holiday season! Plus, lots of last year's KI Memories Christmas goodies...





And my final project... a 2010 calendar (and this month's 12 Months of Christmas project)! This is a super easy gift to make for a family member, and can easily be completed in an evening or two. It uses up lots of those scraps you have lying around, and its creative possibilities are endless! (If you're my mom, and happen to be reading this, now would be a good time to avert your eyes... unless you want to spoil one of your Christmas gifts). ;0)



For my calendar, I used 2 pieces from an older Maya Road acrylic album. The pieces are thick enough that they support the calendar on their own when stood open. The covers are adorned with buttery Hambly rubs, some teensy Thickers, and a Vintage Label. For the insides, I trimmed lots of colorful Hambly scraps to fit, using a corner rounder punch to finish them off. Then, I added a photo of the kids to each calendar page. I tried to print a picture from this year (or last) that was taken during the month that it represents on the calendar.



For the calendar itself, I not only wanted a tiny little calendar, but a place for the recipient to add little notes each month. So, to accomodate that wish (and to add some extra color), I actually combine two Shabby Chic Crafts calendar tags! I used the Vintage Note Calendars for the base. Then, I trimmed the edges off of the Square Stamp Calendars, and added them on top of the calendar that was printed onto the Vintage Note Calendar tags (the calendar is the same size).



You can use tiny pearls and gems to mark special dates (i.e. birthdays, holidays, etc.) on the calendars. And, for some added decoration, you can add some tiny flowers centered with more gems. This is a great way to use up all those jars of tiny Prima flowers I'm sure you have lying around!





To bind the calendar together, I punched holes at the tops of each calendar page and reenforced them with some... wait for it...

EYELETS!

See, I told you this was a great way to use up your supplies! I'll bet you haven't played with eyelets in years, huh? To be honest, it was kind of fun to break out the hammer and setter, and pound away! To put the whole calendar together, I used some earring hoop findings. Binder rings aren't thin enough to go through the eyelets, so earring hoops it was!

It was such a fun project to make, and I hope you'll give it a go! It makes a quick check-off on your Christmas list too. ;0)

A big thanks to Veronica at Shabby Chic Crafts for having me as their guest designer this month! Please check out their blog, and leave a comment here for a chance to win some fabulous fall tags (she's leaving the contest open for a couple extra days, so there's still time)!

Monday, September 7, 2009

labor of love...

It's Labor Day here in the US. So, I thought I'd create a little post on, what else... labor! But, a labor of love. You'd have to love it, or the labor that goes into this jelly REALLY isn't worth it. Fortunately, I love it (and I'm sure you will too)!

Muscadine grapes (also known as scuppernogs) are supposedly one of the Southeastern US's greatest, exclusive treats. Nature's candy. Well, that's what I tell my kids when they ask for candy: "How about some of nature's candy?" Whatever. It gets them to eat their fruits and veggies.

Ever since we moved to North Carolina, I have heard all about muscadine grapes but never actually laid eyes on one. They grow them at the apple orchard that we frequent every fall. But, by the time October rolls around for us to go on our orchard adventure... the muscadines are already done for the season. And, up until last week... I had never seen them in a grocery store (let alone the commissary where the produce is usually less than appetizing). Imagine my surprise when I walked into the commissary last week to find bins upon bins of these:



At $2 per pound, I quickly filled my produce bag with about 3 pounds of these treasures. All along, I had planned to make jelly with them. However, I couldn't not try one in it's raw glory. Muscadines are sort of the little odd-fellow of the grape family. To my senses, they are some odd combination of plum, apple, grape and kiwi... not your typical grape at all. The skin (or hull) is very tough and tart... like the skin of a plum but tougher. They look a bit like tiny apples with their brown speckled skins. Their insides are reminiscent of kiwis in both their taste and appearance. And, they're BIG... much bigger than your average grape:



Not the best raw, but a very interesting experience for your taste buds. They're much better as jelly!

My trusty Ball Canning cookbook mentioned nothing of a muscadine jelly recipe, so I had to do the research for one on my own. There are many recipes out there, but they all seem basically the same. And, the ingredients? Super simple... grapes and sugar. That's it. Not even any pectin. Good thing the recipe is simple, because the process is anything but.

You'll start by giving 2 quarts (about 3 pounds) of the grapes a good rinsing, and remove their stems. Then, you have to remove the pulp from the skins (separating and reserving both parts). I start by inserting my fingernail into the top of the grape near where the stem would have been:



This relieves some of the pressure when squeezing the pulp out (otherwise the grape will just explode everywhere. You'll be surprised how easy the hulls separate from the pulp, and you'll end up with a bowl of hulls like this:



And, a bowl of pulp that looks like this:



That was the first LONG step in this process. It took me over 30 minutes to hull the grapes. Anyhow, once you've hulled them all... place the hulls in a blender or food processor, and chop them until they look more like this:



Prepare your jars for canning per the instructions found within this post. Meanwhile, lace the hulls in a pan with 1/2 C water. Simmer the hulls until tender (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. At the same time, simmer the pulps in a separate pan until tender (about 15 minutes).

Remove both pans from heat. Press the pulps through a sieve to remove seeds. Oh. my. God. This took F.O.R.E.V.E.R. The pulp is a bit stringy, so it took forever to get it all through the sieve. Really, the only thing you want left behind in the sieve is the seeds... no pulp. I'll bet this took me nearly 30 minutes. The seeds are huge, though... easy to pick out. They resemble a small pine nut:



Now, combine the pulp and hulls into a large pot, and add about 3 1/2 C sugar. Slowly bring to a boil, and boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Mine definitely boiled into the 20 minute range (maybe a minute or two more) before it had reached the gelling point. You can test for gelling by removing a small sample of jelly from the pot and cooling it quickly in the fridge. Once you reached the gelling point, quickly pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" head space. Wipe jar rims clean, and secure on a lid and screw band. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove, and let cool/stand on the counter for 24 hours before storing/consuming.

This is a lovely jelly... a bit more tangy than grape jellies you would find in the store. It goes nicely on your morning whole wheat toast...



And, as of this afternoon, I can attest that it is most delectable as part of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yummy! And, if you find yourself in a neck of the woods that doesn't have muscadines for your jelly-making pleasure... ask nicely and I might give you some of mine. ;0) Happy Labor Day!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Here's to new beginnings!

But, first... a winner for the Pink Paislee goodies! Per the trusty random number generator...

Here are your random numbers:

26
Timestamp: 2009-09-01 18:11:25 UTC


And, #26 is...

Christina said...
I love tutorials. Thanks for sharing!

August 30, 2009 2:59 AM


Congratulations, Christina! Please e-mail me at charmedgirlnc@gmail.com with your mailing address so I can get your goodies in the mail to you as soon as possible! :0)

Thanks so much to everyone that checked out my garden journal video tutorial. A lot of you mentioned that you really wanted to make one, so if you do, please feel free to post 'em up somewhere so I can take a peek!

Today has been such a bittersweet day. Hazel started her first day of kindergarten.





I promised myself that I wasn't going to cry IN the classroom when I dropped her off. I didn't. I made it all the way to the parking lot before the waterworks started. *sigh* They grow up so fast. I just wish her daddy was here to see it.

The mornings are starting to get cooler. I haven't had my A/C on in 3 days. Fall is settling in here. Is it just me, or does fall always feel like it has wiped your slate clean? A fresh start... new beginnings... anything is possible. Aside from Hazel starting a brand new school year, there are lots of other new beginnings going on around here.

As you may or may not know, I have resigned from Label Tulip effective September 30th. I have been with them for over a year and a half... more than a year as the DT coordinator. It was such a wonderful experience, and I thank Cathy from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to work with her and be part of her amazing team! But, all good things must come to an end, and I felt it was time for me to explore other creative opportunities. What might those be? Only time will tell. ;0) But, rest assured, I am not going anywhere!

One place that you can check out my work is at this fabulous new challenge blog! Point.Blank.Period. This is the most amazingly talented group of ladies! And, our first prompt went up today! Here's the skinny:

Life is so much more than a box. So think outside of it:

JOURNAL PROMPT:
Let go of your comfort zones what do you thnk holds you back from

being a better person .. or are you already exploding to the new and better you?

RULES:
-- COLOR, BRIGHT and slap it with blue .. and let go of all inner secrets trapping you.
-- Must add ribbons or buttons, also add bling
-- Black and White Photo ..

TWISTS:
-- No bigger than 8.5x11 or Art Journal size ..
-- and ELABORATE on your brightest color .. (hmmm)


Here's my spin on it...



Now, let's see yours! Jump on into our community! I'll be there waiting. :0)