Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Home 4 The Holidays

Hello and happy Wednesday!  How's this week going for you?  Is the time crawling because you're ready to get the celebrations started or is it flying by cause you have soooo much to do?  I'm kind of middle of the road, I still have to pack for my trip but have everything else ready to go.  I do have to say this is the warmest (and wettest) holiday season I can remember in a long time. 

This little layout uses pictures from Christmas morning 2010.  My brother and his girlfriend (now fiancee) left their warm and sunny home in Hawaii to spend a cold and snowy Christmas in Illinois. 

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Adventures in Baking

Good Morning to you.  Just so ya know, today's post is all about baking.....and not just regular baking....Adventures in Baking.  Specifically, cookies.  Warning:  This is a long post so grab a hot drink, sit back and be prepared for a little laughter.

A little back story:  When it comes to meal preparations, I only cook the basics.  It's the ingredients I have issues with.  For lack of a better word, I get grossed out.  Without going into details, let's just say I will never be a chef.  But.....I've been thinking about working to develop some baking skills.  This way I'm not a total waste in the kitchen and will be able to contribute something edible (instead of store-bought) for all these office 'events' we seem to have at work.  This is my first job where I'm in an office setting with the same people day after day and they have these random treat days and retirement receptions and birthday snack days fairly frequently.  Kinda like being in grade school.  Maybe this is normal, but it's a first for me.

Anyway, in my quest for baking knowledge, I've stumbled upon a few blogs that I now check out almost daily.  One of them,  Baked Perfection, had a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Half and Half Cookies.  OK, I thought, I can do a cookie, I can follow a recipe (or so I thought, but more on that later), it's Christmas so cookies are right in season and this can be a test run to see if baking will become a new outlet for my creativity in 2012 and who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate? 

First step was to purchase the ingredients.  The only ingredients I have on hand are flour and milk.  I'm shocked to find I have flour.  I honestly have no idea why I have it or how old it is.  Armed with my shopping list, I hit the grocery store and stock up.  I did this a couple days ahead of baking day in case I had trouble finding anything, but it was all pretty basic supplies. 

Then Baking Day arrived.  I had a few errands and chores to do in the morning, but was ready to start on the cookies around 11:30am.  So I take out the recipe and notice it says the butter should be softened.  No problem, I'll set the sticks out while I gather everything else and heat up the oven.  Then I start pulling all the ingredients onto the workspace.  I just wanted to make sure I hadn't missed anything before I got started.  And here's where the trouble began.....

Can you see that mess in the floor?  That would be the canister of flour that slipped right out of my hands, bounced on the counter and dropped to the floor spilling its contents on every surface in its path and leaving me in a cloud of white fluff.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to clean white flour on a white floor?  Not to mention the goo that it becomes when water is in the mix.  I swept, twice, and I mopped, twice and I still found a little row of flour on the floor this morning.  Oh, and the Peace Lily plant has a nice light coating of flour dust on her leaves and soil as well.  What a mess!  Oh well, at least the butter had time to soften.  Not.  Hard as a rock.  What is this.....super strength butter?  Is it OK to melt in in the microwave?  It says softened, not melted......better not risk it.  Well, I have a few other things I can catch up on while the butter is taking its sweet time softening.  First up, do I need to go buy flour?  It didn't all spill out but do I have enough?  Hmmmmm.  Recipe calls for 3.25 cups.  It'll be close, but I think I'll be OK.   Better turn the oven off cause it's gonna be a while.

Then I got busy doing other stuff and came back around 3pm to finish the cookies.  Checked the butter.  Not exactly soft, but this could take all day.  I make the executive decision to go ahead and get it started.  The full cookie recipe is basically two separate recipes that are combined on the baking sheet so it makes a lot of cookies, 5-6 dozen. 
First up:  The Chocolate side.  Problem #1:  Used too small of a bowl for the dry ingredients.  Dumped what I had into the next size bowl.  Problem #2:  1.4oz package of Chocolate Instant Pudding.  How to get 1.4 oz?  The little box is 3.9 oz.  Guess-timate and pour in around half the package.  Problem #3:  Why is it so difficult to beat in the dry ingredients?  It's so thick the beaters can't move and I have managed to cover the workspace in a fine layer of cocoa powder with a nice spray of chocolate batter flying out of the bowl in the process.

 Re-read instructions.  Did I forget something?  No, but I did use 1 2/3 cup brown sugar when it only called for 2/3 cup.  Oops.  Guess they'll be extra sweet.  Is this why it's so thick?  Problem #4:  Stir in peanut butter morsels.'s so thick I bent the spoon!  Something's not right but I have no idea what it is.  Tastes OK.  I'll keep going, maybe it'll work out in the end.....

Next step:  The Peanut Butter Side.  Problem #1:  Yep, not enough flour.  Did you see that one coming?  Recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup and I have about 3/4 cup.  I'm not making a trip to the store in my flour/cocoa covered sweatshirt now.  I'll just reduce the remaining ingredients to make it proportional.  Yeah, that'll work.  Problem #2:  It didn't work.  It tastes good, but it's not very thick. 

Final step:  I think I'm ready to get these babies into the oven.  The directions say to combine a 1/2 teaspoon of each and roll into a ball.  Problem #1:  There's no rolling the peanut butter batter into a ball cause it's not thick enough, it's kinda the consistency of a mousse with chunks of chocolate chips.  Hmmmmm.......what to do.........ah ha.......roll out a dozen balls of the chocolate variety and add a dollop of chunky peanut butter mousse to the top.  

I will be amazed it this turns out edible.

10 minutes in the oven and I have this.

They marbled together nicely, but how do they taste?  Pretty good.  VERY chocolate-y but can still taste the peanut butter.  Definitely need a glass of milk to wash this cookie down.  Alright, not a total waste of time and money.  Let's get the next batch in the oven. 

Remember back at the beginning of this post when I said the recipe was supposed to make 5-6 dozen cookies.  Yeah, maybe for a normal person, but I ended up being one cookie short of 8 dozen.  8 dozen freakin cookies.  Last batch came out of the oven at 5:12pm.  Long day and my flour/cocoa covered sweatshirt tells the story.   

I bagged four dozen and saved them in the freezer for the next treat day at work, have a couple dozen to take home for Christmas and that leaves me with two dozen to add to treat bags for friends.  Oh yeah, here's the kicker in this whole baking adventure I'm considering.......In general, I don't particularly like desserts and sweets.  My sweet tooth makes an appearance every once in a while, but they're few and far between.  There are a few things I like on occasion, but overall I couldn't tell you the last time I had a piece of pie or cake or a bowl of ice cream.  I do like brownies and my mom's oatmeal cookies.  So while I'll sample whatever it is I decide to bake (who knows when I might find something I really like) the majority will be shared with friends and family.

So that's the beginning of my Adventures In Baking.  Definitely some problems but ya gotta start somewhere.  Before I tackle the next adventure I need to do a little shopping for supplies.  Not ingredient supplies, but basic baking supplies.  Gotta get some larger mixing bowls.  And different measuring spoons.  I like the kind that's one spoon and you simply adjust the proportion to the right size.  And to really add to the dream, I think a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer (in blue!) would be a good investment (with the splatter shirts will thank me).

Happy Holidays!      

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Eve 2010

Good Saturday afternoon to you!  Busy, busy weekend planned.  My list includes wrapping presents, mailing packages and baking cookies along with all the regular chores.  Plus I really need to sweep all the leaves out of the garage that were swept inside with the windy fall we had here. 

Let's get down to business with today's two-page layout. 

This is one of the layouts I was talking about in my last post that I had started but hadn't finished.  The patterned papers are an older line by Kaisercraft called Christmas Spirit.  They have bright, non-traditional colors of hot pink, lime green and baby blue.  I was having difficulty with the finishing touches, but found some die cuts in my scrap bag that worked color-wise. 

Funny story that I think scrappers out there can relate to:  Just last week I was talking to my Mom about plans for Christmas Eve dinner and she was explaining who would be there and what yummy dishes she was planning to make when the conversation turned to last years dinner.  Apparently my Mom and my Aunt can't seem to remember if certain people were there or not.  Being the scrappy crafter that I am, I had taken plenty of photos and said they were there and I have the pictures to prove it! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ally & Emma

Hi and happy Thursday to you.  Wow, is December the busiest month of the year or what?  Lots to do and see has kept me pretty busy these past few weeks.  I have to remember to stop and enjoy cause it'll be over in the blink of an eye. 

In addition to decorating, baking and sending out the Christmas cards I've been working on all year, I've started four different layouts using pictures from Christmas 2010.  Yep, started but haven't finished!  I've been trying to use some older Christmas patterned paper and working in newer embellishments is not going very smoothly.

I did manage to finish one layout yesterday.

Last December, I met two of my high school friends and their daughters for lunch and snapped this cute pic.

Happy Holidays! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Tags

Hi and Happy Saturday afternoon!  I just stopped by to show you a few of the Christmas tags I've been working on. 

I started by die cutting several tags using two dies from Papertrey Ink.  I then used my Mister Huey's mist in Calico White to spritz the backgrounds for a little snow effect.  Then, I just started gathering a few of my winter and Christmas themed dies and went to work.  I used little scraps of paper and felt.  Here's a closer look at each tag:

Love how the poinsettia turned out!

The snowflake is an EK Success punch.

Aren't the stockings cute?

I have a few more to show you tomorrow so be sure to stop back by and see me!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Inn At Dresden

Hi and welcome! 

This is a little layout I worked on recently.  I used Emma's Shoppe Collection pattern papers from Crate Paper.  The photo is a bed and breakfast my Mom and I stayed in on one of our Girl's Trips to Dresden, Ohio.

I'm still working on a variety of Christmas tags and I have a few more cards to finish as well.  Do you have all your decorations out?

Thanks for stopping by to spend a few minutes with me!

Monday, November 28, 2011

8th Grade

Hi and happy cyber Monday to you.  Are you planning to check out all the internet sales today?  I'm feeling much better today from whatever grabbed me over the weekend.  I'm still coughing and I sound terrible though so I'm taking the day off work.  I spend 95% of my time talking to people on the phone and stopping mid-conversation to have a coughing spell doesn't sound pleasant. 

I had big crafty plans for the weekend which went nowhere, but I did drag out a few things yesterday to start working on Christmas tags.  I'll post a few of those later this week.  For now, I'll leave you with my 8th grade school picture. 

I used Basic Grey's Oxford patterned papers, buttons and ribbon from Apron Strings September 2011 kit along with American Craft Thickers. 


Friday, November 25, 2011

In The Army Now

Happy Day after Thanksgiving!  Are you suffering from too much turkey and trimmings or have you been out there fighting the madness that is Black Friday?  I woke up Wednesday morning with a sore throat which has progressed to include sneezing and feeling like I've been ran over by a Mack truck.  My Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a nice, hot bowl of chicken noodle soup.  I'm also on my second box of Kleenex.  So, a little nontraditional day but a great time to relax all the same.  I'm also not a Black Friday shopper kind of girl.  I avoid the malls on normal days cause I don't like the crowds and lines so there's no way I even consider going anywhere near one in November or December.  I will confess to making the occasional trip to Target or Wal-Mart, but I go early in the morning before the masses descend.  I know people that like the craziness of the crowds and being a part of it is part of the tradition, but me......I like to do my shopping on the Internet so UPS delivery man....get ready! 

I had every intention of posting this layout on Wednesday, but a bad case of medicine-head prevented me from forming coherent sentences.  I used Harvest Market patterned papers from Lily Bee Designs and sketch #65 from Sketch Savvy.  The photo is of my Grandfather in his uniform. 

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Snow Day 2011

Hi-ya and happy Monday! 

I was going through a pile of random photos and found a few from the blizzard we had last February. I thought they would work perfectly with a winter themed kit I have had forever. I bought this kit at least 4 years ago but didn't use it right away and then it always seemed to get passed over when I needed winter/snow papers. 

The storm was actually classified as a Blizzard because of the winds and visibility so the city was shut down for about 36 hours.  The snow drifts were incredible so I didn't venture out too far from my house to snap these shots.  I love the snow when I get to stay cozied up inside!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cabin In The Woods

TGIF and a short work week next week to boot.....can't beat that! 

A few years ago (OK, a decade ago) I took a trip with my Mom and Grandpa to visit my aunt and uncle in Park City, Utah.  While we were there, we took a little side trip to Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole, WY.  While in Jackson Hole, we stayed in this cabin in the middle of nowhere.  The scenery was beautiful and a deer came right up to the deck one morning. 

The papers and embellishments are from Fancy Pant's Summers End line. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Beach

Hello and welcome.  I've been a little crafty this week and completed another little layout for ya.

It's a two-pager, but I'm having difficulty with my lack of photo taking ability.  So, this is the left page and here's the right side:

The pics are from my parents dog-sitting stay in Hawaii this past summer. 

The papers are Bo Bunny and are actually from a kit I purchased at least a couple of years ago.  I decided it was time to use them up and you can't get much beachy-er than Hawaii.  Lots of old-style layering.

Stop by later this week for a fall layout using very non-fall colors.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh, Happy Day!

Hi there and happy Sunday to you!  Today I have a little layout to share about a recent Happy Day.

Yep, it's the day I purchased my new laptop!  I've written about my computer frustrations a few times over the past year and decided it deserved it's own scrapbook!  I used paper and elements from SEI including all the glittery flowers. 

Thanks for stopping by, I have a few more layouts to show later in the week so I hope to see you here again.

Monday, October 31, 2011

1st Set of Wheels

Happy Halloween!  Just a quick post for you this morning of a layout I worked on last night.

I'm entering the layout in the October sketch challenge at The Scrap Room.  I used Simple Stories Happy Days papers and embellishments.

Thanks for stopping by and have a safe Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Young Crafters Unite #3

Hi there.  I'm participating in the challenge at Young Crafters Unite to create a masculine card.  I think one of the simplest ways to adapt a card from feminine to masculine is to change up the color scheme.  With that in mind, I decided to use stamps to create a background.

Using Dot Spots from Papertrey Ink and navy, hunter green and dark red ink, I created a few different patterns.  The sentiments are embossed on a little snip of banner.

I was having so much fun with the patterns, I decided to go ahead and make four cards for a variety of occasions.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Hello and Happy Saturday to you! is a perfect autumn day in Central Illinois.  It's in the 60's, the sun is shining brightly, there's a little breeze, the squirrels are running around, leaves are falling and I just made a pan of Rice Krispies Treats. I did take a little time to work on a layout for a sketch contest at Page Maps.  The contest ends tomorrow so check it out while you still have time to enter.  Here's the sketch: 

And here's my layout.

As soon as I saw the layout, I knew it would be perfect for a few pics I took at Eckert's Orchard. 

Thanks for looking! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Page Maps

Hi and happy Sunday afternoon!  I thought I'd whip up a card using the leftovers from the page I worked on yesterday.  I love the patterned papers so much I couldn't put them away! 

I used a sketch from Becky Fleck at Page Maps.  She has a variety of sketches for both cards and one and two page layouts so be sure to check it out.  The sketch is from World Cardmaking Day (I know, I'm a little behind the times!) but it was perfect for cutting a few hearts out of the patterned paper.  And the buttons....ahhhh.....the perfect finishing touch!


Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sugar & Spice

Hello....and welcome back!  What has everyone been up to this weekend?  I've been doing a little house cleaning and switching out my summer wardrobe for the long-sleeved shirts and fuzzy sweaters of fall.  Of course, I had to take a little crafty break in between all this work!

I'm still digging through pics from my childhood and thought this pic was perfect to use with Jillibean Soups Dutch Mustard collection.  I fell in love with the patterned papers the first second I saw them. 

This layout is for the challenge at Apron Strings to use a journal card (the grow tag and side bracket), metal (the stick pin) and patterned paper with the design cut out (heart banner).

Thanks for spending a little bit of your day with me!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Roller Girl

Hi ya!  I worked on a layout last night for Apron Strings.  The challenge was to use ribbon, naked chipboard and rhinestones.

The pics are of the family party for my 9th Birthday.  The cake for this year was a roller skate (it was the 70's, what can I say, lol!).  I used Apron Strings August 2011 kit with papers from Jillibean Soup (LOVE Jillibean).  The far left photo is mounted on a mini file folder. 

As for the challenge, I wrapped ribbon around the photo block and placed a few rhinestones in the center of my chipboard stars.  Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome day!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thanksgiving 2009

This last layout for the week at Apron Strings was to add pen detailing to the layout. 

I used the December 2010 Apron Strings kit with papers from Cosmo Cricket's Togetherness line for this picture of Abby at MaMa Shari's house for Thanksgiving.  Abby had just turned one year old earlier in the month.

I was going for the home-spun country feel, so I pen stitched around the squares kinda like a hand-made quilt.  I also added a black pen line around the edge of the page.


For Tuesday's challenge at Apron Strings  we were to layer, overlap and group at least 3 flat elements.  I used some older SEI papers and embellishments.  I was having a little trouble getting a clear photo of the layout but I think it's because the original photos are on shiny photo paper. 


Put On Your Dancing Shoes

Welcome to the Weekend!  I've had a pretty lazy day here.  I woke up with a terrible headache so it took a little while to get my day started.  Love autumn, dislike the pollen in the air.  Oh well, whatcha gonna do? 

I realized I never posted the layouts from Apron Strings from Monday and Tuesday.  Monday's challenge was to create a pseudo-scalloped border using at least 3 different patterned papers and top the straight edge with ribbon. 

I dug into my SEI kits from last year and used a couple pics from my first dance recital. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Young Crafters Unite #2

Happy Monday!  I love 3 day weekends.....time to catch up on household chores, time to relax, time to cheer on the Cardinals and time to start a new project.  I also dabbled in a little stamping this afternoon.  In July, I ordered a button stamp set from The Scraproom but never inked them up until today. 

There are 13 little buttons to choose from.  I decided to use seven different buttons and stamp each in a different color ink.  To finish it off, I tied each button with coordinating bakers twine.

The challenge this month at Young Crafters Unite is to make a card and matching envelope.  Since I send most of my cards through the mail, I wanted to keep it simple and flat. 

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Trick or Treat

  OK, so I thought I was scrapped out for the day but it appears I had one more layout in me. 

Challenge #5 from Apron Strings is to layer at least three different elements (combo of ribbon, pre-cut border and trimmed pattern paper) to create a border around the outside of the page or around a focal-photo. 

I used Bo Bunny Whoo-ligan papers for this grade school Halloween costume.  Not sure which grade so there's still journaling to add.  All other elements are from my stash.  The little round Trick or Treat embellie is popped up on the die cut and the die cut is partially tucked under the chipboard frame.  The die cut is also layered over the orange ribbon.   


B*Day Bash

Challenge #4, select an Apron Strings kit (if you don't have a kit, collect your goodies from your stash) that includes embellishments that have a few flat pieces and a few dimensional pieces - a good pattern on a paper will work as well (flowers, circles, squares, characters - for hand-cut work). Make a simple grouping or border and pop up a couple of the elements.

Ugh.....I struggled with this one.  I started out with 5 pics and a two page layout.  Ended up with one page and two pics.  Sigh.

I used my last 2009 kit.  The papers are Doodlebug Designs.  I created the body of the balloon from a chipboard circle covered with patterned paper.  I covered a chipboard birds wing in patterned paper to form the tied off end of the balloon and tied it together with hot pink twine.  The balloon has a popped up paper flower, cardstock flower and gem layered on top for dimension.  

That's All Folks!