Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Birthdays are sweeter when shared with friends

No, it is not my birthday. But, I was in the mood to color this cute Sugar Nellie stamp today. Have you had a chance to visit their website, yet? There are so many cute stamps, perfect for coloring.
Today was a sunny day, albeit cold and windy. We went out for breakfast at a new restaurant that we had not tried before. It's called Bailey's. They're only open for breakfast and lunch. They had the best menu, which included scrumptious seafood (very, very fresh seafood). They get their seafood from a reputable market in town. That's how we knew we were getting quality ingredients.
I hope you're staying nice and warm (or nice and cool, if you live in Australia. LOL!) Are you ready for the New Year? It's just around the corner!
Stamp: Sugar Nellie
Paper: The Paper Studio
Cardstock: white, dark blue, orange, green, red, yellow
Ink: Memento Black Ink, COPIC markers
Tools: Nestabilities scalloped square, labels trio; Cuttlebug flower dies and Swiss Dots embossing folder, circle punches
Embellishments: ribbon, brads, Stickles

Monday, December 29, 2008

Enjoying my mornings

Oh, it's so wonderful to have the freedom to sleep-in in the mornings....to be able to leisurely enjoy a cup of tea and watch the Today Show; sit at my craft table and not be disturbed until I am finished. Yes. This is how my mini vacation is shaping up to be. It's Monday, and I'm not at my desk at work. I got up early, today, and worked on this card. I enjoyed some toast, yogurt and tea for breakfast. Then, when I was finished with making my card, I went to the gym. No rushing about. No schedule. Just taking my time, and doing what I feel like doing, when I feel like doing it. The only thing on my calendar today is to take my son to his orthodontist appointment at 3:30. Otherwise, I'm just going to watch TV, and perhaps, make some more cards this evening.
Don't you love Cuttlebug embossing folders? I chose this particular one because it reminds me of a knit sweater. Thanks for stopping by, today!
Stamps: Boyds Bears
Ink: Memento Black Ink, COPIC markers
Paper: Red, cream, white cardstock, My Minds Eye
Embellishments: Crystal gemstones, Making Memories rub-on
Tools: Sewing Machine, Nestabilities, Colluzle, Cuttlebug embossing folder, Stampin Up Scalloped Circle punch and Photo Corner punch, EK Success 1 1/2" cicle punch, Sizzix flourish die, foam tape.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Glittery Goodness

You gotta love a great clearance sale! This past week, Wally world put their Martha Stewart Christmas items on clearance. I was fortunate enough to grab six bottles of snowflake glitter. If it's anything like purchasing wrapping paper after Christmas, this glitter should last me for the next 12 years (and I'm not kidding!) LOL! It was absolutely the most perfect embellishment for this card. The snow-covered ground is a combination of Stickles (half-a-bottle) and Martha Stewart mica snowflakes.

The snow that fell in our town has just about melted away. When you look outside, you never would've guessed that we got snow and ice the week before Christmas. Our temperatures hit almost 60F the day after Christmas, and the roads were slushy. This week, we're expecting mild temperatures well above freezing. Thank goodness!!! I have an entire week off work, and I didn't want to stay couped up inside during the entire time. I hope you are keeping warm. Thanks for stopping by!
Stamps: Sugar Nellie
Paper and Cardstock: Soft Sky and Bayou Blue by Stampin Up; Heidi Grace "snowflake" paper
Ink: Memento black ink, COPIC markers, Ranger Inkssentials white pen
Tools: Martha Stewart border punches, snowflake punch
Embellishments: Crystal gems, silver jump rings (on center of snowflakes), Stickles glitter glue, Martha Stewart mica snowflakes

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sending you a Hug in a Mug

My set of stamps arrived safely from The House of Sugar, and of course, I couldn't wait to mount them and start playing. I am serving as a guest Design Team member for Sugar Nellie for a few months. I created this card last evening, just before supper. I love a good mug of cocoa, tea, or coffee. Or, warmed cider, during this time of year. I colored this pretty lass with COPIC markers. You can purchase her directly from Funkykits in the UK. She was designed by talented Australian artist Elisabeth Bell. Thanks for stopping by!

Stamps: Sugar Nellie
Coloring Medium: COPIC markers
Papers: The Paper Studio, red cardstock
Embellishments: Chipboard alpha by Heidi Swapp, gemstones by The Paper Studio, flourish die-cuts (Quickutz), Stickles, Prima flowers

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas everyone!!

What a wonderful day it is! We have had a leisurely day, opening presents, eating a delicious breakfast.....and crafting time! Oh bliss! It's barely 12:30, and I feel so relaxed and so happy. DS and DH are downstairs playing Guitar Hero. I'm upstairs listening to them jam, while I create away in the studio. This card is for this week's Roses on Paper Sketch Challenge. I used a Magnolia stamp (colored with COPIC markers), DCWV paper, silk flowers, primas and ribbon. The round sentiment stamp is by Stampin Up. I hope you are enjoying your Christmas Day!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas card for my coworker

I am participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange at work. I was fortunate to pick the name of a wonderful gal who is kind to everyone; and deserves to have the best Christmas ever. This is the card which will accompany her gift. I used Anna Griffin paper, Whiff of Joy stamp, and the sentiment is by Stampin Up. I colored her with prismacolor pencils. The snowflakes and zig-zag border were created with Martha Stewart Punches.

Yup! This pretty much sums me up to a "T"

I took this online quiz What color green are you?
This is the result:

You Are Teal Green

You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.

Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.

While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.

Your warm personality nicely counteracts any strange habits you may have.

Yup! That's me....to a "T"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Peace on Earth

My husband has ordered that I stay home and get better. It gave him a great opportunity to go Christmas shopping. LOL! I have been sick over the past week. I am fighting a nasty cold; and I'm afraid it has crept down into my chest. The air is so cold outside, and I don't want to risk catching pneumonia. I believe it's probably 25-below-zero with the windchill. Tomorrow, the ambient air will only reach six degrees. With windchill, it'll probably be closer to 30-below. I took the opportunity to work on a card. It's been a while since I've made a card. I took an old stamp; stamped it twice on watercolor paper; and colored it with Twinkling H2O's and watercolor pens. I layered it using pop-dots, and finished it off with some Stickles. Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all Mankind!

Some of my favorite dessert recipes at Christmas time

I took part in a cookie exchange at work. I love cookie exchanges. It gives all of us a chance to fellowship, share traditions, and most of all, exchange some of the best treats from our kitchens. These are four treats I shared with my co-workers. I had extras, so I packaged up the rest and sent them with my husband to take to his office, also. I hope you and your family are enjoying your traditions, and you are as excited as I am that Christmas is upon us. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

Honey Sand Balls

(pictured above)

*1 cup butter (not margarine), softened
*1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
*2 Tbs honey
*2 cups all-purpose flour
*3/4 cups chopped walnuts (optional)
*1 tsp vanilla
*1/4 tsp salt
additional sifted powdered sugar

1) Preheat oven to 325-degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, the 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and honey with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat or stir in flour, walnuts, vanilla, and salt. Mix thoroughly, using your hands, if necessary.
2) Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 1 1/2 inches apart ontro greased cookie sheets. Bake for 14 - 16 minutes or until the cookies are very lightly browned. While cookies are still warm, roll them in powdered sugar. Cool cookies on wire racks. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again.

Yields: approximately 4-dozen cookies.

Oreo Cookie Truffles

(picture above)
*1 pkg of Oreo cookies
*1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
*1 tsp vanilla
*1 lb almond bark

1) In a food processor, crush all of the Oreo cookies until you can't see any more of the creme filling. You can do this in batches, if you like.
2) Add the cream cheese and vanilla extract to the crushed Oreo cookies and process together until you can't see any more of the cream cheese. The mixture will be very sticky.
3) Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Form the cookie mixture into 1/2-inch balls. Place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least 45-minutes.
4) Using a double-boiler, or a pyrex bowl suspended over the edge of a pot (with one inch of water in the bottom of the pot), melt the almond bark. Let the water simmer on low, after it has come to a boil. Stir the almond bark until it is completely melted and smooth.
5) Prepare a second cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Using a teaspoon, lift the Oreo truffles one at a time, and roll them in the almond bark. Set the truffles on the prepared cookie sheet. After all of the truffles have been rolled in the melted chocolate, set the truffles in the refrigerator until they are set. Store truffles refrigerated.

Chocolate and more chocolate bread

(picture above)
*2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
*2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
*1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
*2 eggs
*2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 cups applesauce
*1 1/2 tsp vanilla
*1 tsp baking soda
*1 tsp baking powder
*1/2 tsp salt
*1 Tbs shortening (DO NOT use butter, margarine, spread or oil)

1) Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease 5 mini ( 5 1/2 x 3 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Place 1 cup chocolate chips in small microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute; stir. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is melted and smooth; set aside.
2) Beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add melted chocolate and eggs; beat until well blended. Add flour, applesauce, vanila, baking soda, baking powder and salt; beat until well-blended. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans.
3) Bake 35-40 minutes or until centers crack and are dry to the touch. Cool pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
4) Place remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips and shortening in small microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute; stir. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Drizzle glaze over loaves. Let stand until glaze is set before packaging.

Toffee Cheesecake Squares

* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/4 tsp baking soda
* 3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
* 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
* 1 (14 oz) can Sweetened Condensed Mil (NOT evaoporated milk)
* 2 eggs
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups (8 oz) package English or Heath Toffee bits

1) Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Press firmly on bottom of ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
2) In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add condensed milk, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of toffee bits. Pour mixture over hot crust. Bake for 25 minutes or until set and edges just begin to brown.
3. Cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup toffee bits evenly over top. Cool completely. Refrigerate several hours or until cold. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Yields 40 1" x 1" squares.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm pausing...but only momentarily.........

Hello blog friends!!! A lot of you have kindly dropped me an email to ask if I am OK. I appreciate it deeply. I'm very fortunate to have wonderful cyber friends; and I'm very touched that you have been concerned.

Yes...I am perfectly fine. As a matter of fact, I am stupendously terrific!!! I have started working out six days each week, since November 11th. At this morning's weigh-in, I have dropped 14 pounds (almost 6.5 kg) since I started working out on 11-11-08! Can you believe it? I have been averaging a weight loss of three pounds per week. I am not taking any diet pills. I am not doing a 'diet.' This is a complete change in the way I live. I love to exercise, now. I love to eat healthy meals (I eat five - six small meals each day). I keep my calories between 1,200 - 1,500 calories each day, limiting the amount of saturated fat; and increasing water, fiber, and other nutritious food into my meals.

I've joined a website called Sparkpeople. It's an incredible community of folks dedicated to health, nutrition, well-being, fitness. I even belong to a group within Sparkpeople called "Splitcoast Sparkles." It's a group of ladies who love to rubber-stamp, but also love to stay fit and get healthy. Sparkpeople is free to everyone. I use it to track what I eat on a daily basis; and how much I exercise each day. It's easy to use. You just plug in your current weight, what you would like to lose by a certain date, and it will show you how many calories you should eat each day, and how often you should exercise. Moreover, it shows you videos (YouTube) on how to use resistance bands, exercise balls, and other helpful exercises to keep you on the right track.

Because it takes about a month to develop a habit, I've decided to dedicate at least an hour each day, for six days a week, to exercise. And, because it is the Holiday Season, we have been busy attending band/jazz concerts where my son plays percussion. So, I do apologize that I have not kept up with my blog over the past month. My energy has shifted, momentarily, to a brand new healthy lifestyle. I am very happy with my progress so far. Little by little, I will begin to stamp and create again. But, right now, the most important thing I should do for myself is to take care of my health. I am a candidate for diabetes because I had gestational diabetes during my pregnancy. Also, high blood pressure runs in my family. With these health factors, I can't keep pretending that I've been watching what I've been eating; or that I've been good about exercising. I know I haven't. It's time for BIG changes in my life.

I hope you'll keep stopping by, when you have a chance. I am taking some time off, later this month. I am looking forward, with so much eagerness, to create a ton of cards during that time. I hope, also, that you will check out Sparkpeople. If you have any questions about it, or would like my help with getting you started on that website, feel free to drop me an email at lucabeanba@aol.com. I would be more than happy to help!

Happy Holidays! I hope you and your family are enjoying the blessings of the Season!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy Holidays!

Isn't this polar bear adorable? Ho! Ho! Ho! I added stickles to his cute nose, his hat and to the ribbon. The image is by Whipper Snapper Designs. "Happy Holidays" is from the Stampin Up Happy Everything set. I colored him with COPIC markers. You can't see it on this photograph, but I did hit parts of the bear with a shade of ice-blue (just to give his fur a little dimension.)

I've had a FABULOUS week!

So, it may look like I've neglected my blog. Well, I have, Sort of. I've neglected my blog and made some valuable time for myself. In this past week, I've hit the gym FOUR times! Yes, Sirree!! I've had a great cardio workout, between 60 - 70 minutes each time I went to the gym. Today, I decided not to go the gym, because the weather outside is just gorgeous. Instead, I walked around my neighborhood. They don't call my neighborhood Hickory Hills for nothing. LOL! I walked a mile-and-a-half, and 75% of it was uphill. No snow. I'm lucky. hehehhehe. When I got home, I got in the bathtub and soaked my sore legs until the water turned cold. Are you wondering whey I say this has been a fabulous week? Because, all-in-all, I've lost SIX POUNDS in this past week, ALONE! Can you believe it?????? No diet pills. No diet, really. I've reduced my fat and caloric intake, is all. No deprivation, either. I've had some chocolate this week. I can't believe how well my body has responded to the exercise. So, my goal is to do two consecutive days of vigorous cardio; rest on the third day; and then start again (two days of exercise, one day of rest). After I've built up some stamina, I'm going to incorporate strength training into my weekly routine. I'm hoping that I'll hit my goal weight by next summer. I'm being generous. I don't want to lose the weight too quickly, have all flab and no muscle. Slow and steady is how I want to do this. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rodney the Reindeer

This is one of my most favorite Christmas stamps. I believe it's called Rodney Reindeer, and it's made by Whipper Snapper Designs. Coloring the image can take up some time because of all of the different colored light bulbs; but I love to play with this image, just the same. I colored Rodney with COPIC markers and added Diamond Glaze to play up the light bulbs and his nose. I found this awesome tree-lights paper by American Crafts. It goes perfectly with the stamped image.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

***Puppy Chow***

I craved Puppy Chow this afternoon. No, not the kind you feed your dog. The kind that's made with chex cereal, chocolate, butter, powdered sugar..... I'll share the recipe in just one second. This recipe yields 9 cups. It can fill four treat bags. I made the reindeer tag using my oval nestabilities, Martha Stewart branch punch, googly eyes, and a few circle punches. I also added some stars (Stampin Up punch) and a star eyelet.

Recipe for Puppy Chow

* 9 cups of Chex Cereal (I used most of one regular size box of Rice Chex)
* 6 oz (1 cup) of semisweet chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
* 1/4 cup of margarine or butter (DO NOT USE SPREAD)
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

(Other: You'll need a cookie sheet, lined with wax paper; and a one-gallon size plastic bag.)

1) Measure cereal into a very large bowl; set aside.
2) Microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and margarine or butter in a medium-size bowl, uncovered, on High for one minute. You may need to microwave for an additional 30 seconds until it is easy to stir the butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips.
3) Stir in vanilla.
4) Pour chocolate mixture over the cereal in the large bowl. Gently stir until all of the cereal is completedly coated.
5) Pour chex into the gallon-size bag. Pour powdered sugar over.
6) Seal and shake gently until the chex is coated completely.
7) Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Non-labor-intensive Christmas Card

I've been playing around with a few ideas for Christmas cards to give to family and my male co-workers. I don't know about you, but I save the really labor-intensive cards for people who I know will appreciate the work that went into it. My immediate family members, including my brothers, mom and dad, and my in-laws know that I put a lot of hard work into creating some of my cards. But, for other relatives, and even my male co-workers (well, you know men) who don't really understand that making cards is a labor of love..... well..... I'd rather not make some of my Christmas cards that labor intensive (you know what I mean?)
So, when I went to Archiver's today, and saw this really cute Quickutz die, I had an "Aha!" moment. This is the answer for my oh-so-sophisticated relatives in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Doesn't a set of martini glasses seem like the appropriate gift with this card? Hmmm......maybe I'll get that for my sister-in-law who loves a good martini.) I've always wanted to make them a handmade card, but I know they just won't appreciate liquid applique on snow, or bling, or stickles or brads. To make the assembly go even faster, I went ahead and created the "Merry Christmas" on my computer. "Easy-peasy!" as Jamie Oliver would say. Now, I just have to make 50 of these, and I'll be good to go! A crafter's job is never finished!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

One down.....49 more to go!

I was inclined to get started on making Christmas cards, today. My husband received a phone call at eleven o'clock last night, telling him he had to be at work at 7 AM, this Sunday morning. So, I am taking advantage of this by working on Christmas cards, doing chores around the house, and aftewards, reading a good book (Deception Point by Dan Brown). In a sense, this is a "me" day. My son is in his room, reading a book. If my husband comes home at lunch-time, we'll probably step out for dim-sum. But, for now, I want to make Christmas cards and enjoy this beautiful Sunday morning.
The image and sentiment are by Whipper Snapper Designs. I bought these stamps in 2004, and to this day, I have so much fun creating with these Jolly Snowmen! What I loved most about making this card is the ability to use tools which were not available to me in 2004. Diamond Glaze, for example, was something I had discovered a year later. I used it on the snowmen's tongues and noses. I was introduced to Liquid Applique also just three years ago; and the bling, brads and Sizzix die just last year. I colored these cuties with COPIC markers, which is something that I had just discovered this year. It's terrific that an older image can be renewed year after year, as new ideas and new products come out in the market.
Are you planning on making a lot of Holiday cards this year? I hope that you enjoy the time creating them as much as I do!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

What is your costume for today? I'm not going to get dressed up for tonight, but I will wear a "space alien" headband to work, today. That's about how dressed up I'm going to be. What are your kids going to dress up as? My son no longer goes trick or treating, but I did make him a little treat to enjoy. It's a clear pail filled with M & M's, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kat bars. He wears braces, so we have to be careful about what he can have on Halloween. I love these Martha Stewart plastic test tubes. Aren't they perfect for the "mad scientists" in our homes? LOL! Enjoy your Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thought for the day (and I'd love your honest opinion)

If you could step away from the internet and cardmaking magazines, re-evaluate your personal style, find your mojo, re-examine your art without being influenced by current trends, how long do you think you would last without looking at someone else's work? Could you do it? Or, are you (no judgement, just wondering) someone who regularly examines what other artists are doing and attempt to give your interpretation of another artist's work?

Personally, I am guilty of using other artists' work for inspiration. Whether it's Tim Holtz's artwork or the cards in the latest stamping catalog....I'm guilty of looking for inspiration elsewhere. Not always. But, sometimes I will do this. I think it's because I'm too afraid (sometimes) that nobody will like what I create if I step out of the box and do something really, really off-the-wall. Sometimes, it's just laziness on my part. On the other hand, I'm equally afraid of my artwork being viewed as "just like the others." Nothing really original about it.

OK....your turn to share. Again, no judgment. I'm just wondering if I'm alone with this point-of-view, or if others share it also.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PSA: If not for you.....do it for them

I've heard some cynics say that they don't vote because they feel that their votes don't count. I wholeheartedly disagree with this, and I'd like to put another thought out there for everyone to ponder.

If you don't feel that your vote matters, well, it matters to the hundreds of thousands of Active duty military men and women, our National Guard and Reservists. Because while some folks may ponder whether it's worth voting or not, our soldiers are serving our nation to protect YOUR right to vote.

If you don't think your vote counts as far as the politicians are concerned.... well, it does count to someone. It counts to that young man or woman standing watch in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and even in rural Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. They are continuing to stand watch so you will have your chance to cast your vote on November 4th. They're the ones who are making sacrifices for you. Their families are making sacrifices for you.

So, if anything.... do it for them. Please make an effort to vote on November 4th.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You'd be hard pressed to find these colors in the San Francisco Bay Area

My family is from San Jose, California. As many of you may know, we are an Air Force Family, and we move around quite often. Living in the midwest gives us an opportunity to experience four very distinct seasons. When we lived in the Bay Area, the temperature varied season to season by, perhaps, only ten degrees. The trees stayed green, for the most part, and just got greener as you approached Winter. Here are some pictures that I took of some of the trees around Omaha. I hope you are enjoying the colors of this season, no matter where you are. If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, lucky you! I also love Springtime, so I'd bet you're probably loving the season where you are, also.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Wednesday!

I made card candy for Mary's swap on the Stamp Shack and decided I didn't like it. So, I started all over again. When you think of "Asian" themes you may automatically think of the colors "red, black and white." Well, those were the colors I had started with. I decided it just needed a punch of color; so instead, I decided to go with fun, happy colors....pink, blue, yellow, green, black, white..... I like how these candy packets turned out, in the end.
Here's the apple pie I baked with the Jonathan apples we picked on Sunday. I guess I must not have crimped the crust very well on one side of the pie, since a little bit of the ooey gooey goodness came out. I don't care if it came out to be a somewhat ugly pie. LOL! It is DELICIOUS! I just baked it the other night, and last night, we only had one slice left.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Guess what we did today?

After waking up this morning, we discovered that we had a gorgeous day ahead of us. So, we decided to take a day trip to Nebraska City home of Arbor Day. It's located some 45 miles southeast of our city. Not at all too far to drive. It was a beautiful drive going there. The sun was incredibly warm for this Autumn Day (it warmed up to 72 degrees today) and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Just picture perfect.

The first thing that we did was go on the "Tree Adventure." It's a self-guided nature hike through a forest. Along the trail, you would see animal footprints in the concrete. You're invited to guess which animal created the footprints. A few feet down the path, you would discover the answer. Then, some 30 feet later, you'd see another set of footprints. We saw a ton of trees, from birch, maple, oak, hazelnut, ash.....it was so beautiful and peaceful to be in the forest.

Yes, I've decided to grow some funky ears. LOL! No....these "cones" are supposed to magnify the sounds of the forest. (Just like the tin cans and rope that you played with as a child). It was so cool hearing the rustling of the leaves.

We climbed the canopy tree which was 1,044 feet above the ground. I hate heights, so I couldn't stay up there for very long. Do you notice me looking away from the camera? That's because I was getting nervous as we were climbing up to the top.

Hands down....this was the best part of our day:

It was time to pick apples!!! This area of Nebraska is known for its apple orchards, and Arbor Farm had one of the best orchards in the area. We decided to pick Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Jonathan apples, which are cooking or baking apples.
Sean and Lucas decided to start with the Red Delicious apples first. Here they are, picking apples for the first time. Actually, this was a 'first' for all three of us. We've never been apple picking before. The lady who gave us our bag told us that just about all of the apples near the bottom of the trees had already been picked over, but there were some gorgeous ones near the top. I figured that was quite alright since those apples at the top were probably getting the most sunshine and they looked a lot bigger than the apples on the bottom branches.

Here are two of the Golden Delicious apples that Sean and Lucas picked from the tree.

I had to give it a shot, also. I have to admit, it's not as easy as it looks. I think I was too afraid of bruising the apple, so I wasn't tugging as hard as I probably should have. It was lots of fun trying, though.

We filled our bag with at least ten pounds of apples... a total of 15 apples. I plan to bake a pie tomorrow night with the Jonathan apples that we picked. The farm also gives you the chance to take a tree home with you. It's a pine tree. Because they encourge ecologic awareness, the Farm would like to see each visitor or family plant a tree when they returned home. Since we already have two pine trees, one giant oak, maple, birch and locus tree, we weren't too sure whether bringing another tree home was a good idea.

What's a farm without a scarecrow? This one was a 'friendly' scarecrow inviting visitors to come in late October dressed in Halloween costume.

You could pick your own pumpkins, but they harvest them for you. They don't actually let you pick your own from the vine. It was lots of fun seeing little children rummage through the pumpkins.

We finished out the day with some hot dogs, cheeseburgers, apple pie a la mode, and wine tasting. Sean and I sampled some red and white wines that the farm produces. We also shopped for Christmas presents in the store.

All in all, it was a spectacular day; and we are all very tired. Thank goodness we had leftovers in the refrigerator. I was too tired to cook. LOL! I could do this kind of thing each weekend. We are so fortunate that we have a farm like this near our city.