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!