Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

For everyone who is celebrating today, Happy Thanksgiving! What does today hold for you? For us, there's all kinds of savory foods, switching back and forth between football and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and fantastic family time. Hubby is rockin' it in the kitchen....he does all the cooking on Thanksgiving and Christmas (yes, I am a very lucky gal!). And as always, for me, I am thankful for the big things in my life like family, friends, our home, our lives, crafting, creativity, and you, but it really is the little things that make me smile and remind me to live with gratitude. I hope your Thanksgiving (or if you are from around the world and today is not a holiday for you, then 'hope your Thursday...') is full of little joys that will make you smile!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tim's 12 Tags of Christmas!!

Its the most wonderful time of the year..................................Tim Holtz is doing his 12 Tags of Christmas again this year!!!! I have SOOOOOOO enjoyed his creative bonanza at the beginning of December the last two years and can you tell that I am excited that he will be doing it again this year?!!?!! Yahoooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! If you have never followed Tim for this, definitely be sure to hop on over there and visit him during this time....each and every day for oodles of creativity and inky fun!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sparkle and Shine!! has begun. What? What's begun? The Christmas music! The Christmas music that pops in my head throughout the whole year has started to escape from me. I found myself singing "Winter Wonderland" this morning. While I was lucky enough to experience the wonders of a white Christmas as a kidlet, snow doesn't visit these parts very all (as in decades between light dustings!). So, I enjoy the white wonders of Christmas through happy, snow filled, winter Christmas music!

So, how about a little sparkle reminiscent of Christmas? Okay, okay, so its a birthday card, but the red glitter sure does sparkle and make me want to get Christmas crafty!

In April, I made a card with the intention of giving it to Hubby for our anniversary (but, that is a whole other story.....). I really loved the simple elegance of that card and so I gave it another go and just changed up a couple of things. I kept it to two colors, like the first card, but changed the black to red. And instead of using bling/gems, I went with an all over sparkle, using a technique called burnished velvet (using glitter) that I used here for the first time and learned about from Dana at Paper Daydream, who saw a fantastic tutorial for this from Spike at Cuttlebug Challenge Blogspot.

Yup, yup, it definitely has an all over sparkle! Not the greatest shot, but I really wanted to show you just how much the burnished glitter really does sparkle and shine!!

Do you have any Christmas songs singing in your head? Or are you just trying to get ready for Thanksgiving, if you are in the States? Would you believe that I have yet to start thinking about what we need for Thanksgiving dinner? Well, except for figuring out how to make a GF/CF pumpkin pie, which I am putting recipes together for, but have yet had the chance to try out....yikes!

Hope you're heading into a fantastic and relaxing weekend! I have some trips out to Mom's, lots of cleaning as we have friends coming the day after Thanksgiving, and apparently, working on that GF/CF pumpkin pie recipe! :>

Cardstock: Stampers Select White, Pure Poppy - Papertrey Ink
Stamps: Damask Designs
Ink: Real Red - Stampin' Up!
Glitter: Garnet (fine) - Martha Stewart
Other: Quickie Glue Pen - Sakura

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Make Your Own {Custom} Colored Ribbon

So, how many times do you go riffling through your ribbon drawers, shelves, containers, baskets, and more looking, searching for the perfect color ribbon?! Well, if you are like me, then the answer would be oh too often!!!

I have oodles of ribbon, always want more, and get incredibly frustrated when I don't have just the right color. Even though I want more, I'm running out of room to store it and wouldn't it just be nice to actually use what I have in a better way??

Last night, as I was creating a card, I was looking for a particular blue in a narrow width and after doing one of Tim's digs, I couldn't come up with any! Not even a scrap.

Suddenly, I glanced at the bag of Sharpies! I remembered some cream satin ribbon in the width I was looking for and started grabbing the ribbon, the bag of Sharpies, case of Bic Mark Its, and my random small collection of Prismacolor Markers.

Trying several of my blues out, I found the correct one (which happened to be a Bic Mark It). The ribbon was 100% polyester and took the ink from all three kinds of markers brilliantly! I just ran the markers along the length of the ribbon. It dried instantly and did not come off on anything. It did make the ribbon a bit stiffer, but that worked in my favor as the ribbon held the bow's shape when I tied it. There are other options, including reinkers and ink pads, but this is so fast and not messy at all!

I must admit, I am rather excited to know that I can make just about any color of ribbon that I need, which can come in really handy when you are crafting at night and the option to run out and get the right color is not available! And it was uber cheap as well! That 50 cent roll, was on clearance for 10 cents when I bought it some time back. So, my length of custom colored ribbon that I used cost me all of a fraction of one penny!!

Oh yes, and just in case you are worried, I am still creating and crafting! I started a new painting last week, have been making some cards (which I'll get up here soon), and tweaking some other creative projects. Hubby has been building some models with our kidlets. My son painted a ceramic kitty that he has been dying to put a brush to for awhile now. And I just bought my daughter her own set of paint brushes as she wants to paint too! So, there has been lots of the creative and crafty going on here and I'll definitely get some of it up soon. :>

Hubby just called..........the chicken, rice, and veggie soup that he and our Princess have been making all day is ready! What's for dinner at your house tonight?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

GF/CF Chocolate Treat Advent Calendar

Would you believe that three, count them, three packages for Christmas arrived on my doorstep today?! And I did not order any of them! While I usually have all of my Christmas shopping done by now, I am behind this year. (Really, really behind......listen closely, you might even hear a whimper or two!!)

One of my closest friends, who is an Auntie to my kidlets (and her husband, a wonderful Uncle), grew up with a chocolate treat Advent calendar to open every day of December, leading up to Christmas. And she has continued her family tradition with my kidlets.

Since we changed our son's diet two years ago, they have been unable to enjoy the chocolate treats under each door. Well, being a good Auntie, she did some research and emailed me a link for a GF/CF Chocolate Advent Calendar, wanting to know if she had found a solution. And while several of the ingredients (soy lecithin & refined sugar), we avoid (but are not 100% removed from his diet), we told her that it should be okay for the little bit (he splits it with his sister) that he would be eating for a short time. We will see after he has it the first time if that is really the case.....fingers crossed!

Our kidlets' calendar, from a mighty nice Auntie & Uncle came from Peanut Free Planet. And while I cannot give you a review of how it tastes yet, I can tell you that it arrived very safely packed, in a zipped bag, wrapped in bubble wrap, packed in packing peanuts. I know my kidlets will be excited for the this kind of treat is a very rare one in our house!

{Oh yes, and if you are wondering, "Where's the picture?!".....I did not take one as I do not want to spoil the surprise for its intended recipients!! }

Sunday, November 8, 2009

1940s Vintage Handcrafted Passed On Family Goodness

Oh yikes!! A little over a month ago, I promised you vintage, 1940's, handmade, little girl, hand sewn, delightful, creative family goodness passed on. Apologies all around for my delay! Here she is!

My mother in law sewed this with her grandmother when she was a little girl, around the mid-'40s. Her grandmother was from Russia and sewing was what she did in her country throughout most of her life. And apparently, she continued sewing and shared her craft with her granddaughter, Hubby's Mom. I've always known that my mother in law did a lot of sewing as an adult, but I did not realize just how early she learned to combine needle, thread, and cloth. I hope you will be as delighted as I am at the wonderful handcrafted goodness this is!

From tip to toe, she is sewn. With every detail paid attention to, she comes to life. Her face is colorfully embroidered and you would not believe how many layers are under her dress! Even I was amazed as I was not aware of all of the layers, until I began photographing her and kept finding more!

Just look at those sweet socks!! And her felt black shoes, finished off with a blanket stitch and perfectly adorned with a simple little black bead (you may need to click on the pic, enlarge it, to see the detail).

A dainty little white button hides the snaps that close the dress in the back. Snaps. Actual snaps, hand sewn in. All of my daughter's dolls' clothes close with Velcro. She wasn't even sure what those little silver things were!

And oh my! What a delightful surprise when you open her dress! Darling eyelet lace with a soft blue satin ribbon weaved through it, tied off in a petite little bow in the front. Sigh.

Under her dress, a little petticoat, trimmed in lace. Look at those sewn fingers! Sigh.

And her full slip, topped with that oh so precious eyelet, threaded with sweet satin ribbon. Still sighing here........ You?

And lastly, bloomers finished in matching lace. Oh yes, multiple sighs for each and every hand crafted, hand loved layer.

When I see our daughter gingerly examining her doll that her grandmother and great-great grandmother hand made, I get those wonderful warm tingles in my heart. It is mighty sweet. And what is even better? She gets it. When she saw me putting these pics on my computer, she tenderly picked up her doll and said, "Mama, this is my first real doll." Now she has her Cabbage Patch doll (aka Dolly), her Fisher Price doll (aka Sally), her D.W. doll, and her Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that she gives rides in her doll stroller, sings songs to, and changes their clothes over and over again. But, she knew that this doll was different and somehow more special, making her, her 'first real doll.' What a treasure, both my Princess and her doll. Sigh.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rachael Ray Cookware Giveaway

Hi there! While I was blurfing the other day, I came across a Mama blog that I had not found before, Mama's Soapbox. I found some witty and funny stories there and was pleasantly delighted when she emailed me to let me know that she had just posted a GIVEAWAY for Rachael Ray cookware. Just think, a new piece of cookware or bakeware for you to get creative and crafty in your kitchen, just in time for the holidays...........or...................a holiday present all taken care of for free! Free is a good thing. Yup, yup. Definitely a good thing. So, go visit Stephanie and tell her I said "Hi!", won't you? :>

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

GF/CF Pumpkin Bread

Yes! You are in the right place! Today, I crafted some time in the kitchen with my daughter to bake some delicious pumpkin bread!

Our son has a restricted diet and eats gluten and casein (the protein in dairy) free, mostly soy free, msg/nitrite/nitrate free, low sugar (almost no refined sugars), as preservative & chemical free and organic as we can get. With that being said, I read every ingredient label, am constantly making substitutions, spend a good deal of time grocery shopping, and have learned a lot in the last almost two years that he has been eating this way.

While the entire house is not always gf/cf (plus everything else), our family meals are, and when it comes to baking......well, we do not keep any gluten flours in the house at all. Flour gets in the air and will contaminate everything. So, when my Princess wanted to use the canned organic pumpkin we bought at Trader Joe's yesterday, I set about looking for a recipe online that we could all eat and love.

I found a GF/CF (gluten free/casein free) blog through a google search and found this recipe as a great place to start. We rarely use any refined sugar, even in baking (though I do have an emergency stash of organic cane sugar for recipes that just do not work with sugar substitutes), so I headed here for sugar substitutes and their equivalents. I chose to use a combination of honey and agave syrup. Here's my version of Kathi's recipe for our gf/cf pumpkin bread:

Yummy GF/CF Pumpkin Bread
1 c. Quinoa flour *
1/2 c. Sorghum flour
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda (aluminum free)
1 tsp. Xantham gum
1/4 tsp. Freshly grated nutmeg
1 heaping tsp. Cinnamon (we use Ceylon cinnamon) *
1/4 tsp. Ground Allspice
1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 1/4 c. Pumpkin puree *
1/4 c. Vegetable oil (usually we use Canola for this to avoid the soy, but I was out)
1/4c. Ghee, melted, but not hot (essentially it is clarified butter, with all the solids removed, taking out the casein/proteins) *
1/4 c. Honey *
1/4 c. Agave Syrup *
2 Eggs, beaten *

* denotes items we used that are organic

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Mix wet ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients into dry ones until combined. Do not over mix. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and cool on wire rack.

Guess what?! I do not miss the gluten, the sugar, or anything else in this pumpkin bread! It is much so, that I imagine it will be gone mighty quickly. My daughter and I had it with lunch and it is on the menu to accompany our dinner as well.

Next, I want to find or come up with a good pie crust recipe that fits our requirements so that I can make some pumpkin pie for the holidays that everyone in the house can eat!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Free Jessica Sprague Holiday Class

Free? Did someone say, free? Did someone use the words Holiday and Free in the same sentence?! I'm on it!

Can I back up for just one second? Will you hang in there with me?

Like many of us, I have an overwhelming amount of holiday photos. And I am behind in scrapbooking in general and even more when it comes to scrapbooking Christmas! And I know that when I do get to scrapping some pages of Christmases past, years past, I am missing out on some of the best memories to document and share. I miss out on them for two very obvious reasons: one, so much time has past and two, there is just SO much information and SO many photos that I get overwhelmed and it becomes more about getting it done, getting them on the page, than about documenting the little things that make the holidays, events, and moments special. And you just might have figured out that its those little things, those moments, that make life smile worthy. At least, for me, they do!

Now this class, Holidays in Hand, is supposed to be a way for you to tell your holiday stories. I have been very interested in Ali Edwards' December Daily project and now seeing the bright and shinning email in my inbox telling me about Jessica Sprague's new free holiday memory keeping class, I am thinking that I just might be able to combine the two! This is more than a whisper in my ear, offering me help in this arena, its like a swift kick in the you-know-what!!

Last July, I was fortunate enough to sign up for Photo Editing: Frame-ups and Special Effects at Jessica Sprague's site when it was offered for free. And the cool thing was that even if I didn't have time to get to it on a particular day, I could always go back and pick up where I left off as the class materials remained in my "My Classes" section. I think its a great feature to be able to take it at your pace and as your schedule allows. And just so you know, even with all of my gushing, I am not connected or affiliated in any way with Jessica Sprague......just a happy camper right now! :>

Do you scrapbook, memory keep, or document your holiday traditions, events, and/or moments? How do you make it work for you?
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