Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ringing in the New Year

Wishing you the very best in 2012!

Thank you for visitng my blog this year and
 for your kind comments.

If you want to leave a comment sometime but haven't yet,
 just hit comment and it will take you through the easy steps
to set up a Goggle account. It's free and you won't get annoying emails
 from anyone! 

I hope you will come back often in 2012--I'm making a lot of plans!


Friday, December 30, 2011

What Have You Been Reading?

Perhaps you haven't had time to sit down with a good book, but maybe you will again soon, now that the holidays are almost over.

In December, my book club always selects a light read--one that is not too long or requires a lot of deep concentration. This year we read Once Upon a Town, by Bob Greene.

This is the story of the small town of North Platte, Nebraska and a community
of 12,000 people who generously opened up their hearts for 6 millions servicemen
passing through on troop trains from Christmas Day 1941
until the end of World War II.

Turning their modest train depot into the North Platte Canteen, they offered
these soldiers support and encouragement who were en route to places unknown
 in Europe and the Pacific.

The trains, up to 32 a day, from 5 A.M. until midnight, were allowed to
 stop for 10-20 minutes.
The soldiers, rushing to the Canteen, enjoyed magazines, coffee,
 homemade pies,cakes, fried chicken, hard-boiled eggs, music, motherly hugs,
and conversation from local volunteers, who staffed and funded this effort with
 the assistance of surrounding areas and donations.
No federal or state funds were used.

Bob Greene went to North Platte to interview remaining volunteers and
soliders who had once passed through on these trains, some of which who
had met theirspouses from this experience.
Being a newspaper journalist, Greene also found old documents
and transcripts which further aided in telling his story.  

The book is filled with heartwarming vignettes of a nostalgic piece of
 American history.
It changed peoples' lives forever--those that were served as well as
 those who served.
There was no other town like it in the United States.

If it sounds like I enjoyed this book....I did!
Very inspiring!

New on My Nightstand


And for January 2012 Book Club--Finding My Voice by Diane Rehm  
Has anyone read it?

Freebie Friday

How to Make Paper Hats

3 pages of work sheets to
conquer the chaos for 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Delightful Cherry Delight!

I am leaving you this year with a delicious dessert in case you need one over the
holidays. I brought this to a party last Friday and it got rave reviews. One of the
ladies said her mother used to make it but she had lost the recipe so I was happy
to share it with her along with a few other people. I believe the dish is always a
success if people ask for the recipe. Men love it!

Cherry Delight

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted

1 (8 oz.) and 1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T. milk

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup heavy cream, whipped
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

2 cans cherry pie filling (original recipe calls for 1 but that is a little skimpy)
 1/2 tsp. almond flavoring

Combine crumbs and butter and press into 1 9x13" pan. Chill in the freezer for 25 minutes.

Beat the next three ingredients together until blended and smooth. Spread over crust.

Top with pecans.

After whipping the cream, fold in sugar and vanilla. Spread over the nuts.

Combine cherry pie filling with almond flavoring and spread evenly.

Chill overnight in refrigerator.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

For a 15x10 pan, use 3 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1-1/2 sticks butter, 2-8 oz. cream cheese, 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, 3 T. milk, pecans to cover.

Taking this to the link party:
Lolly Jane Boutique Whatcha Got Week-end

This wreath has been repinned from my Just Wreaths Pinboard
by 168 people!

Check it out HERE
to see how it's made.

Have a joyous holiday
with family and friends!

See you next week .....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recycling Corks

Have you noticed that a lot of wine bottles now have screw off caps, or the "corks" really aren't corks at all, but some other material? So hang on to your corks--they may become a thing of the past!

We have seen corks used in crafts in a wide variety of creative ways. There have been a lot of cork projects on Pinterest, many as gift or home decorating ideas. It's great to see them being recycled, don't you think? I made a simple cork ornament to commemorate one of our family's favorite Napa wineries that went out of business this past year--Graeser Winery. We found Mr. Graeser's off-the-beaten path winery many years ago on our first visit to Napa and have been ordering wine from him ever since.

My husband, having farmed in Illinois for 16 years, could relate to this man trying to run a small-time business in less than ideal conditions. Mr. Graeser could not afford the new oak barrels, so he bought the used ones, but we actually thought this worked in his favor as we do not prefer the real strong oak taste in wine.

HERE is where I got the idea.

We've all seen cork trivets, coasters, and trays, rights?

Here are some of the more unusual cork creations I found
for your viewing pleasure: 

Cork chess set

 Cork wreath

Succulent holder
Beach bliss

Cork necklace

Cork bath mat

Cork candle holder

Cork boats

Cork curtain

Cork painting

Cork mirror

Cork place card
Style Me Pretty

Cork stamping
Sweet Spot

Cork letters
Green is Universal

last but not least.....

Cork chair!
Alcohol Bars

And that's a lot of corks!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's a Hard Candy Christmas

Here's another last-minute Christmas gift that can also be adapted to other occasions--birthday, graduation, or when you are just needing a little something to let someone know that you are thinking of them.

This is a plastic parfait glass from a party store, but you do have to buy a
whole package of them. Fill it with candy, almost to the top. 
Take a 3" styrofoam ball, cut it in half with a serrated knife
and push it down into the glass. If it does not
want to stay, run a bead of hot glue around the edge to secure it.

Starting at the bottom, use candy that is kind of flat and 
attach it around the edge. 
I used cocktail toothpicks, the kind with the colored frills at one end. 
Make sure this bottom layer hangs over the styrofoam ball so it doesn't show.
Continue layering upwards, filling in the gaps.
Don't forget the small candy canes!
For the center, hot glue three strawberry candies in place.
Adorn with basket filler around the candy--using hot glue again.
Insert a crazy straw into the styrofoam by using a scissor's point
to make a hole.
Finish off by adding streamers of gift wrapping ribbon all
the way around and a bow at the base.
You may have to hot glue the base to the stem
if you use this type of glass. 

Be creative! Use bells, bows, candy bars!

For birthdays, I have used the small cards and holders
that accompany floral arrangements
in lieu of a straw.   

Hope you like the candy parfait.

I'm taking it to these festive parties. Come join me to see awesome projects: 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Homemade Emeril's Essence

Are you looking for a last-minute homemade gift that  is easy to put together and doesn't require baking or craftmanship?  These would be great stocking stuffers for cooks!

I've got one for you--and it's useful and unique! 

Emeril's Essence

2-1/2 T. paprika
2 T. salt
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. pepper
1 T. onion powder
1 T. cayenne pepper
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried thyme

Mix all ingredients together and put in bottles. 

For these five bottles, I quadrupled the recipe. You can find containers at a dollar Store, World Market, Hobby Lobby, a kitchen store, or Ikea. (Recycle during the year.) The two with the silver top are from the Dollar Store.

I bought my spices at Smart & Final in large containers for price effectiveness. But I would suggest only doing this if you were going to make a large amount as spices do have a shelf life.

The label, done in Microsoft Publisher, says:
Use as a rub for pork & beef ribs, chicken, roast pork & beef, fish, grilled veggies. Use to season bread crumbs, mac & cheese, fried onion rings, french fries, soups, deviled eggs, omelets, stews, salads, dips, potatoes & pasta.
Ingredients: (list)

I attached the label using clear wide packing tape.

Disclaimer--I got this recipe off of the internet so I have not stolen Emeril's secret combination!
However, I have never compared it to the "real thing," so I don't really know if it tastes just like it!

I especially like to add it to the flour when I am making oven-fried chicken. 

I'm taking this project to some link parties this week.
Come visit to see tons of other great ideas shared from all across blogland!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to Use Frame-It's

Here are two more Christmas cards that I am using this year:

Stamp--Carolers (Judi-Kins)
Ink--Passport Green (Inkredible!)
Other--Joy and Cheer embossing folder, corner round punch,
markers, star embellishment (Michael's $ bin)

Stamp--Stampin' Up (sentiment), Clear Stamps
Ink--Adirondack Denim, Staz-On Forest Green
Other--Snowflakes embossing folder, snowflake garland, silver half metals

Do you see that on both cards the embossing is around the border
and the middle is left unembossed?
This creates an area that can easily be used for stamping.

Now, how is that done?

It is very easy if you have a Frame-It's Kit.   
Set #1, which is the one I have, includes:
--1 circle Frame-It
--1 oval Frame-It
--1 square Frame-It
--1 rectangle Frame-It
--Complete directions for use with the Cuttlebug machine
--1 extra shim (space if needed) I did not use it.

They are 4-1/4 x 5-1/2 inch pieces of chipboard to be used for a
standard A-2 size card.
You place one on top of the embossing folder so that this area
 is not embossed as it goes
through the Cuttlebug.

This visual will help: 

  • A Plate
  • Embossing folder with cardstock in folder, close folder
  • Layer Frame-It on top of closed folder and center it on cardstock.  That it easy since it is the same size.
  • Put C Plate on top of that. My C Plate is very marred up so I did not photograph this step.
  • Roll through Cuttle to emboss.
  •  ( Since all Cuttlebug machines have varying spaces between the rollers, it may be necessary to add the thin shim provided to add a bit more pressure . Place any shim needed on top of C Plate. )

This is what it will look like when you take it apart!

Frame-It's can be used with any manual embossing/die cutting machine
 such as Sizziz, Big Shot, Cuttlebug, Wizard, etc.

Frame-It's are made in the USA--yeah!
I purchased mine last year at a
stamp show for $6.95.

(I did not get paid to tell you about this product!)

I hope you are having a nice week-end--
next Saturday will be Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Card-Making Final Phase

Card-making is winding down at my house--how about yours? Several creations, if you want to call them that, are only mediocre, and I'll pass on sharing those, but there's a few that I'm pretty pleased with and will make more than one of that design.

Stamps--Pinecones--retired (Stampin' Up), Sentiment (Hero Arts)
Paper--Red, Confetti White
Ink--Staz On--Forest Green, Timber Brown; Versamark
Other--Black Diamond embossing powder, fine white gitter

     Stamp--Penny Black
Paper--Shimmery cream (Petallics--Beargrass)
Ink--Colorbox Chalk warm green
Other--Embossing folder winter house (Provo Craft)

Stamp--Studio G (Michael's)
Ink--Passport Green (Inkredible)
Paper--Red, White
Other--Spellbinders oval, Snowflake embossing folder,
star embellishment (Michael's $ bin)

There's no two ways about it, I'm just a simple kind of card-maker.
When I start getting too many layers, it's just not me.

I have a few more to show you next time,
along with a tutorial for the technique
that I used on them that is pretty neat.

Freebie Friday

Christmas Tags
Sweetly Scrapped

Spice jar labels

Hello Neighbor gift tag
Joy Ever After

2012 Owl Calendar
My Owl Barn

Have a wonderful day.

Have I told you lately that I really
appreciate you?
It really makes my day when I
see that I have a new follower
or subscriber.

And I love all your comments.
Thanks for taking the time to
spend a few minutes with me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Looking for Cookie Ideas?

I've got to get some Christmas cards made today and my book finished for book club tomorrow so this is going to be short, but you know how I am about wanting to pass good things on to you.

Stephaine Lynn over at Under the Table and Dreaming has gathered together 100 Christmas Cookie Ideas -- both modern and traditional. The pictures alone of these delectable goodies will tempt you to grab one right through your monitor (if you didn't know better.)  Ladies, this is better than a cook book, I kid you not. And of course, the links to all the recipes are right there for you. You're going to be introduced to some pretty amazing blogs. I can't decide where to start, but I think the Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Swirls look really fantastic! 

Good for a giggle

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Anniversary Clear Ornament Gift

Our son and daughter-in-law are celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary
on December 15th. I know they don't need more ornaments for their tree,
 but I couldn't resist making them this one.

I took their wedding invitation and cut it in horizontal strips,
 making sure I had a line of script on each piece.
The strips were rolled around a pencil and put inside a clear round
ornament. It was a large ball, (four in a pack from Michael's) so I used some
white sparkly gift wrapping ribbon,
also curled, to help fill it up. I worked the strips around with a skewer to
get as much of the script showing as possible.

I printed their wedding date on white ribbon, using this tutorial
that I wrote back in October.
(I had made one for a wedding couple's first Christmas.)
Some maroon and silver ribbon
added the final embellishment.

I wish I had a little bit of the sand from the beach where they got
married to put in the bottom of the ornament.  
It was a beautiful sunset wedding on the big island of Hawaii.  
That would have been a fun touch!

I'm taking this project to the following link parties:
Positively Splendid
Embellishing Life Everyday
Under the Table and Dreaming

Other clear ornament projects from talented crafters:

Santa's Belly Ornament

Swirled Wire and Chain Ornament

Photo Ornament

Pearl Ornament

Nativity Ornament

Find their tutorials by clicking on their blog's name. 
Do any of these give you an idea you can use?

Have a lovely day!

We're getting wonderful rain here in the Phoenix area,
which probably means snow in the high country.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Easy Banana Bread

This is a tried and true banana bread recipe that I have had for years. If you have a couple of over-ripe bananas, you probably have all of the other ingredients on hand and can whip this up in no time. What's neat about it is that you mix the wet ingredients in the blender,  then fold that into the rest. Takes about five minutes to put together and the taste is really great.

Blender Banana Bread

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas--about 3
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar--or less
1/2 cup chopped nuts--optional

In blender or food processor, mix first five ingredients; blend well. In mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. Add ingredients from blender with 40 gentle hand strokes until just blended. Add nuts if desired. (Nuts can be added to blender instead for less obvious taste if desired.) Pour batter into one large loaf pan or two smaller pans that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Test doneness by inserting toothpick into the middle.

Making this easy blender banana bread recipe is one way to salvage over-ripe bananas.  
which includes some other great ideas. 

Don't forget about the banana smoothies
posted back in April!
Another great way to use bananas before they spoil.

7 Kitchen Tricks You Should Know About
will be put in the archives of AWESOME ARTICLES
for future reference.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vintage Paper Christmas Cards

I bought an interesting piece of Christmas paper at a scrapbook store a few weeks ago--one with many small vintage images that were easy to divide--either singly or leaving two or three together, depending on their size. This type of paper is very condusive to easy card-making. Just arrange on a card front with some layering and it can make a nice card that goes together quickly. My kind of card! Here's a few that I did, using my DCWV note cards. While I was in the store, I also bought a few sheets of coordinating background paper.

With my wide variety of Christmas stamps, I will have no problem
finding something different for the inside of each one.
No chance of getting bored.
I think I'll need to add some touches of glitter--definitely.

I hope your holiday preparations are moving right along.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Version of An Advent Calendar

There are two special little boys in my life, ages 5 and 3. I wanted to make some sort of advent calendar for them this year, but I knew it was useless to spend a lot of time making cute little boxes or other type of containers to hold the presents. After all, they are boys and just want to get to what's inside! Besides that, I needed something that was big enough to hold two items, since I was trying to keep the number down to 25, not 50! So I decided to use brown lunch bags and number them.

This  was an experiment--I did not really how the idea was going to be received!

I told Polly and Eric (mom and dad) that I didn't think they were going to hate me
too badly when it was all over--there was only chocolate in two bags and one
that made a lot of noise (kazoos). And Eric was only going to help in
the construction of one toy for each of the boys.
He will probably have more fun than they will
as he's pretty much of a big kid himself!

Here is the Hershey chocolate bar that looks like a Santa coat--

So on the night of December 1st I took them over to their house and explained
the "concept" the best that I could. They seemed to understand it, and they got to
open their first bag. They each got a little stocking with their initial on it
(Target $ bin) and 4 gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins.

Polly said they each could have one, but Caleb had already taken off
to hide his in his room! Elias, the 5-year old was very sweet and asked
me if I wanted one, which made mom very proud!

So based on the number of hugs and thank yous I received, I think they liked it.  
The dollar bins at Michael's helped out a lot with finding the little gifts,
so it really wasn't a whole lot of work either.

When I  had called Polly to tell her of my idea,
 she wanted to know if she was
going to have to do it next year if  the boys liked it. 
I told her that it would become
a tradition that I would be happy to continue. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Digi Stamps from Gina K.

I usually save my freebies until Friday, but I was so excited to find these today that I wanted you to have them right away! If you are making your Christmas cards, these two from Gina K. Designs may be just what you need to get started or finish up, whatever the case may be.

This could be used on a card, stickers for envelopes,
 tags for packages, or on scrapbook pages.

This would be so easy to color, even if you only have markers.

Click HERE for both images and "Save as" to your computer.
Put in your Pictures file where you will be able to find it.
You will be able to print 6 on a page of the round one.  

While you're at it, take a moment or two
and cruise around this wonderful website.
Gina K's Stamp TV has forums, step-by-step card making videos,
card galleries,and more freebies than you can imagine.
Her line of stamps is great too--many of which you
 can order either clear or digi.  

Become a subscriber and you won't miss a thing she has to offer.              

 Two Awesome Articles to read

These articles will be put in the AWESOME ARTICLES archive
for future reference.

Have a wonderful day!
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