Thursday, December 09, 2010

A Wintery Thank You card

At our last Stamp Class the challenge project was to bring a card made of all neutrals such as white-ivory. This was my effort at an all white card. I decided silver qualified to add some shine and contrast. It is stamped, punch, embossed, glittered and glossed. I was going to wait to post it until I could put in links to a few of the details but I'm not sure that's going to happen so I'm just posting it.

Hope your winter is wintery, but only in a good way!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Really exciting craft art

I am enjoying the 12 Tags of Christmas series on Tim Holtz's blog so much.  So far, Day 6 is my favorite favorite. Please, please go check it out.  It's mighty inspiring.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Making a list, and making it again, and

...making it again.

My mind seems to be in an endless loop. It seems to think that if I just write down everything that's scheduled or needs done it'll all happen. So I keep writing it all down. I have at least three separate formats of everything written down and was considering making a fourth when I realized all that list-making wasn't actually accomplishing anything. I have no resolution to this situation to share. Just thought I'd share my crazy. I'm sure everyone else has their own crazy going now too so I bet you'll understand!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another card to share

This one was for my sister, of whom I am very proud!  She's a mighty accomplished gal - and brave too.

This is the rest of the new stamp set I used in the last card I posted and I was soooo excited to use it.  That large medallion is a single stamp but I inked it by coloring different parts with different color stamp markers so that when it was stamped it would be multiple colors.  All the elements are hand cut and the sentiment is embossed using the Elegant Lines embossing folder for the Big Shot.  Good times!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I know this time of year you'd expect to see a different harvest, but bounty is still bounty even when it comes in the form of jalapenos.

We had one pepper plant and it's some kind of "faux" jalepeno- it has no heat whatsoever. I mean literally, my spice-averse children can eat them raw with the seeds. I picked 33 on Saturday and left another dozen on the plant. What to do with that many jalapenos?? I made a jalapeno relish that I like. It's a different flavor, but addictive. And without any heat, easy to eat in mass quantities.

If you have mild peppers like I do, cut way down on the oil and salt. Without the heat it just doesn't need as much. In my case, I just kept adding peppers and lemon zest until I'd tripled those ingredients. If you have extra spicy pepper, deseed and devein them before you mince them - it will make a big difference.

Jalapeno Relish

6 minced jalapenos (by hand or in a food processor)
1/2 c olive oil
julienned zest of 1 lemon
2 t kosher salt

Combine. Let stand at room temperature 6 hrs. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's a good week to be Thankful

And I'm thankful for good friends.  It's true that I wish I had the time/opportunity/ability to connect more and better.  But when I think of my friends I'm really, really grateful.  This card went to a sweet friend who made it seem easy for her to make me feel better when I could have been totally embarrassed.  But I could write a bunch more notes to friends who deserve them (and yes, I probably should).  That makes me realize I'm really blessed.

This was a fun card.  My sister called it "lush" - that captured what I was going for so it made me feel great to hear that description!  The gratitude sentiment and flower stamps are from the Day of Gratitude set from Stampin' Up.  The little outline was hand cut from the negative after I punched a shape using this awesome punch from Stampin' Up / EK Success.  The flourish was a (big surprise) Big Shot die cut using the QuicKutz Flourish Border

See those two spiral flowers?  I learned how to make them from Miss Fancy Pants and you can too.  The larger white one started as a 2.25" circle, spiral cut with wavy decorative scissors (and to think I was going to get rid of those!).  Once it was glued, I used purple Perfect Pearls to give it some color.  The smaller one started as a silk flower petal.  It was harder to make come together.  I usually like to use a strong liquid glue like Glossy Accents to stick these flowers together, but the (not actual silk) silk just seems to wick it up without adhering.  So a big glue dot (like these Zots) is better for the silk flower. I've always wanted to use a pretty straight pin on a card but those sharp ends sticking out just look to dangerous!  It was a workable solution to land the sharp end into the fat spiral flowers.

I like how fluffy it turned out.  Good thing it didn't need to fit in an envelope!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Favorite Spot

This is Zack's favorite spot in his classroom.  It's the loft and I admit, it's pretty cool.  There are a few times the kids can ask to go up there with one or two friends and hang out or read.  There is just something about a little hiding spot that is thrilling.  Is this universal?  When I was a child our favorite bookstore had a little tunnel down to a children's reading nook - it's somehow magical to climb down and play and read.  Come to think of it, that still sounds really good.  Do you think I could get away with a little reading hideaway for Mommy??

Friday, November 05, 2010

Scrapbook Layout: 1

Back to blue!  Good thing this and last week's layout are not right in a row in my book.  I would be on blue overload everytime I looked at them.  And do you know what just killed me?  The backs of these blue cardstock pages I used as a base are a beautiful GREEN color.  But, this blue called to me so here it is.

This was the day Sammy turned one.  Daddy took off work and we went to the Austin Zoo.  It was a really beautiful spring day.

The chipboard 1 is flocked with black - my first time to try flocking.  I found it easy, but a little dusty.  I hope the flocking doesn't flake off over time!  The "happy Birthday" sentiment was on plain white but it just looked too stark on the dark layout, so I pierced around the edges and sprayed it with my blue Perfect Pearls.  I also took my Perfect Pearls to the little black flower and leaves.  I made the leaves using my beloved Bird Punch and the flower by a cool little technique I found here.  The spiral flowers turn out really thick, so I tend to make them but then dampen and rough them up until they have a little softer profile.  
And last but not least, that's my brand new Decorative Label Punch to make the shapes along the bottom right - so fun!

Thursday, November 04, 2010


I realized that I showed Sammy's costume but not Zack's. Wouldn't want to be unfair, right?

I didn't do very well with my Halloween pictures this year. I don't have any of Zack that I love. But, I'll still post a little pirate action.

We really picked this costume because it took no effort.  We had some pirate stuff from Zack's party and the rest came out of his closet.  I was relieved not to be Halloween crafting this year.  But, at the last minute I did do one little thing.  It was mighty easy.  See that earring - I had a silver (fake silver) hoop with a purple stone in it that I'd lost the mate to. I got out my little pliers and removed the stone, then inked and embossed it gold. Who knew scrapbooking supplies would come in handy for so many things! It gave a cool hammered-metal look. It was on a fishhook style post so we just hooked it through his bandanna. Voila! Pirate jewelry.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Cranberry Walnut Spaghetti Squash

I really like spaghetti squash but boy, is that a lot of the same vegetable!  I always buy the smallest one I can but by the time we've eaten it the kids and James are tired of spaghetti squash and really don't want it again for a while.  Either that or part of it goes to waste.  This time I did it a little differently.  I cooked the first half and served it with just salt, pepper and butter as a side dish.  I wrapped the second half really well in plastic wrap and waited about a week.  Then I made this recipe, which I altered from one I found in a Better Homes and Gardens Thanksgiving menu.  I really like that it has a nice fall flavor that reminds me of Thanksgiving food but works very easily for a weeknight meal.

Cranberry Walnut Spaghetti Squash
1/2 a Spaghetti Squash
1/4 c orange juice
1/4 + (a heaping quarter) cup craisins
2 T chopped walnuts
2 T fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 T brown sugar
fresh black pepper

1. Cook Spaghetti Squash: With squash cut in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard seeds and stringy pulp.  Place cut side down in a flat dish with apx. 1/4 cup water.  Cover loosely and microwave apx. 9 minutes (will vary by microwave) until the flesh is soft but not mushy.
2. Scoop out the spaghetti-like pieces with a fork - pierce into the flesh with the tines of the fork on one side and you'll find the pieces will just peel out in long strings.  Discard the empty shell.
3. Bring the OJ to a boil then take off the heat and add the craisins.  Let them plump for about 10 minutes.
4.  In a skillet toast the walnuts in the butter for two to three minutes, until fragrant.  Add walnuts, parsley, brown sugar, salt and pepper to OJ mixture.  Toss everything with the warm squash and serve. 


Friday, October 29, 2010

Scrapbook Layout. And it's really really blue

I like this layout in person, I really do.  But every time I think about posting it, it's just so blue I bypass it in favor of something, anything, else.   So many times blue is a great choice for my photos of little boys, but it's hard to go for - give me green any day!

On this set, though, I had printed this 12x12 photo of the sky through the trees (on the left side of the layout) that I had taken on a fun family outing and it begged for some blue to complement it. I added velum to ground the smaller photos without covering too much of the very large photo or making it too busy.  Silver and clear, shiny accents completed the wintry mood (although you can tell from our shirts that the weather was more "Texas" than "winter"!). 
Most of the photos were from a trip to Boggy Creek Farm here in Austin.  It's right in the city but a fun, small farm to visit with little ones or to score some farmstand produce.  It's really fun to be reliving Sammy's almost-one-year-old days through scrapbooking!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sammy's Psyched for Halloween

You think Sammy's excited to be wearing his dinosaur costume to school today? He woke up asking, "I wear my costume dinosaur? I wear it to Turtles Class?"

My mom made this last year for my nephew and I'm beyond thrilled that it fit's Sammy this year. He's mighty proud of that tail.
After school he wanted to wear it to Walmart. I said sure. I mean, we were an over-tired extra-whiney spectacle, but at least it was a cute over-tired extra-whiney spectacle!  He didn't want to take it off to nap but I assured him he had a few more days of costume wearing to enjoy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roasted Winter Squash

Here is a super easy way to a great veggie side dish.  The winter squashes tend to be hard and really sweet - more like a sweet potato in flavor than a zucchini.  This is a Red Kuri squash but the method is the same for Butternut, Acorn (peel more of it because the peelings are just too tough) and all the odd winter squashes you see in the store.  And even though I'd never heard of Red Kuri, it didn't matter because this method is so versatile.

The only downside is that you need to start a little in advance of dinner - you can't walk in the kitchen at 5 and be done by 5:30!  But, once it's in the oven there is nothing left to do and you can focus on the rest of the meal.

*1. Peel as much of the squash as you want.  I like it about half peeled.  My sister leaves all the peeling on or you could take it all off (the peeling, that is). 
*2. Cut a sliver of the bottom end off so it will be stable on your cutting board and cut it in half.  Scoop out the seeds and such with a spoon.
3. Chop it into bite-sized pieces.  Toss with olive oil and coarse salt and pepper.  Add some rosemary if you like. 
4. Bake in a single layer at 425 for 25-45 minutes (it just depends on how big you cut the pieces and how much crispy caramelized edges you like). 

*If it's too hard to peel or cut, prick the skin all over  with a fork and microwave it for 3 minutes, then when it cool enough, peel and cut it as directed.

So sweet and tasty! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Fieldtrip

First ride on a school bus.  First out-and-about with his school class. 

Exciting days.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Scrapbook Layout: Valentines Day

Here is a layout showing Sammy's first Valentines Day. I had to go back to this post detailing Zack's imagination about Valentines presents to remember the full story. 

As far as the creative highlights for this layout go, there are several things that I thought were really fun to do.  You may recognize that curvy shape around the two red pictures as the frame left by the Top Note* die for the Big Shot. I love those frames as much as the note itself.  The white journaling block is also a Top Note, that was cut, then turned horizontally and cut again to leave a square note and two curvy bracket shapes.  Awwwe-some!  I didn't think of it.  But I like it a lot.  I did fine tune it a bit - the brackets left by a single cut are a little heavy-handed looking, I think.  I scooted them in and ran them again to make them a little skinnier and give a more delicate look.

The second fun thing was a new embossing powder I have in a color called Red Chile.  It's a really interesting combination of clear, red and black embossing powder.  I used it at the bottom of the red journaling paper over clear ink, on the chipboard pieces and on the metal hearts.  The chipboard was all raw pieces which I inked with brown and red in a mottled pattern.  When I melted the embossing powder on the flower, the color wasn't quite right so I inked and embossed again, which ended up burning some of the embossing powder.  The burned powder changed to a matte color with a whole different look! I decided I liked it that way.  

The metal hearts were hand cut with regular scissors out of some (washed!) heavy foil takeout packaging.  I find it really satisfying to make something out of throwaway stuff - like it increases the total amount of beauty in the world.  Cheesy, yes but hey, it's true!  The embossing powder behaved differently on the metal too - it melted and moved around, blown by the heat gun.  Interesting stuff.

*Top Note die - this is an exclusive Sizzix die from Stampin Up.  I have a favorite drug dealer Stampin Up consultant, but when I link directly to products it takes you to a generic site, not giving Cheryl credit for all the inspiration and design work she contributes to my papercrafting hobby and not giving you the preferred pricing you get by going through a consultant.  Which is a very long way to say - if you actually want to buy the Top Note, go to this Stampin Up site, click Products / Shop Now, and search for "Top Note". 

** Edited to add: Stampin Up added a feature so that I can make my links go directly to Cheryl's site - yay!  You can use that link now and go directly to the product, benefit Cheryl and get preferred pricing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I love my new bird punch

I have a new paper punch and it's so much fun!  I just got the EK Success Extra Large Two Step Bird Punch from Stampin' Up!.  I don't think the descriptor "two step" really makes sense - you punch once and get three pieces: the bird, the wing and a little branch.

On this card I punched a whole set - bird, wing and branch - out of chocolate brown and inked it with gold.  I also punched some wing shapes out of a patterned paper to put behind the bird like leaves.  I had been wanting to make something with a random ruffly look after seeing this layout.  The green spotted fabric is a scrap from this quilt - I didn't cut it to a specific shape or anything, just took the wedge I had and bunched it up, gluing it down with Glossy Accents for a really good hold. 

That raffia bow turned out really thick.  I had to double up my foam raised adhesive to get it tall enough for the bird to sit over the bow!  Everything was just kind of piled up for a free form look.  A little different that what I usually do, which made me happy. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Port Aransas

We love to spend a weekend at the Texas coast each October. We've normally visited an elderly friend there and gone with a group of friends and other families. This year nobody could make it so we weren't planning to go... but Zack had a day off school and we just hated to miss it. So we went just the four of us and ended up having a fabulous time.  We stayed in the same condo place we like, the Sandpiper, and brought groceries for our meals.  That way we didn't have to drive to the beach or to meals and could really enjoy our time.

Zack has always been wary of the waves, but this year he just ran right in. We couldn't believe how much braver he was about getting knocked over and getting water in his face.
See Zack waaaay out in the distance (above) ?

Sammy was much more inclined to play in the sand. I can't blame him - those waves are a lot higher on him compared to his hieght than on the rest of us!
I borrowed my dad's big digital SLR camera and tried it out to see what I could capture.  I really don't know what I'm doing with it, but it was fun to experiment.  I would have liked to do more but I was nervous about getting sand or seawater on it.  I definitely need to try playing around more with the camera to see what I can figure out!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Yippee for my Vintage Flower Frog!

Have you seen how people sometimes photograph cards or layouts standing up in a vintage flower frog?  Here's an example from Jennifer McGuire Ink. I like it for a couple of reasons.  For one, it's sometimes easier to see how a card looks when it is standing up.  But mostly I just love the vintage look of the flower frog!

I've been keeping an eye out for a vintage frog at garage sales and thrift shops for a while, but I just don't get to them often and hadn't found any.  A lovely woman at church found out I was looking for one and gave me three! This is the large one, plus there are two small ones that I thought I might use to stand up a layout.  They are heavy - James thinks possibly lead (therefore, he says, I should avoid licking them.  Hard to resist, right?).  They belonged to another church friend's grandmother who liked Japanese flower arranging.  So awesome.

Oh, and this is the thank-you card I'm sending!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Progress Report - Kit Quilt

Do these fabrics look familiar?  This is a quilt I started from some bargain quilt block kits I picked up just because I liked the colors.  It started out a little randomly and has continued on the same path!

I posted about piecing it with my mom (amidst some harassment for never finishing sewing projects!) and about leaving in the mistakes instead of trying for perfection (which I'd never manage anyway).  This September during my mom's visit we made yet more progress on it.  It is now bordered and backed, pin basted and ready for quilting. 

The batting and backing was a bit of a study in imperfection itself.  We calculated the amount of material we would need for backing, but then decided to add a border in the backing material.  For some reason, we thought we could get the borders out of the backing scraps, so we bought the same amount of material we had calculated for just the backing.  Well, duh. That didn't work.  We got the borders on and then didn't have enough material to do the back.  We had to go back to the store and get more and then piece together a back with multiple seams.  I guess that's no big deal (yes, it made me twitch). 

Then, we cut off the batting material at just the right length for the measured size of the quilt.  But when we sandwiched the quilt top with the batting and backing, guess what was too short?  The already cut off batting!  So dumb.  How hard would it have been to sandwhich and pin and then cut off the excess batting!??  Most people don't even cut it off, but I'm quilting on a small machine and I didn't want extra bulk to fight with.  I know how to patch the batting it but it's discouraging so I didn't do it (ha! what does reveal about me?).

After the visit I made a little more progress. I quilted a few lines in it (starting from the center and going out to the side with enough batting) but then I needed the table space back and my scrapbooking was calling me so I (again) put it away.  I guess I like sewing together more than sewing alone?  Or maybe I have to do too much of the work myself when my mom isn't around!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Roasted Potatoes

Don't these roasted potatoes look tasty? I bet they would have been really good. But, Sammy got sick right as I took them out of the oven, so by the time we ate them they were cold.  Chilly doesn't really do potatoes justice.  James had recently seen roasted potatoes somewhere (a steaming plate being taken to someone else's table?) and wished he was having some.  He asked if I could make us some this week.  I was disappointed to serve them "as is", but I didn't really know a great way of reheating them either.  And I was tired by that point.  

I also had trouble with the garlic cloves.  They were supposed to roast, in their skins, tossed in with the potatoes.  But, they smelled like they were burning.  I kept checking them to see what was up and finally just picked them out and threw them away, letting the potatoes finish roasting without them. 

Do you have a tried and true roasted potato method?  I'd love to hear it!