Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yummy Gingerbread & Christmas Kisses

I am just loving Webster's Christmas line this season. The vintage/shabby look is right up my little alley. Santa's peeping from hot air balloons, musical cottages, and beautiful blooms are just a few surprises you will see with their two winter lines.

This is the layout I made for my mom this Christmas (shown with pictures of our friend's kiddos since I didn't have any to put in the photo area - lol!) She plans on putting a gingerbread baking picture in it - I think. We shall see. I was able to find a gorgeous metal easel that she can display it on since it is way too chunky to slide into a scrapbook sleeve.

So many fun goodies on this layout - but the gingerbread house board is by far everyone's favorite. It is another piece I ordered from Bridget (Tweety Petie Designs). I cannot get over the DETAIL involved in making this! Everything is so teeny tiny! She filled the jars with mini starlight mints and colorful candies. There is an icing tube that has exploded with globs of yummy icing all around. Words can't express the beauty and talent this girl has!

Vintage music paper, lace, and scrabble pieces dance along the page - giving texture and dimension.

Here is the view of the layout without a picture - how I presented it to my mom. I can't wait to see what picture she chooses to showcase!

And now for the kisses! Here is my wonderful dad on Christmas day - getting bombarded by his daughters and wife. He surprised us with breathtakingly beautiful necklaces - so cute and thoughtful! He is definitely lucky and well loved -and so are we!

Hope everyone is having a marvelous Holiday Season!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Crafty Secrets Design Team Challenge

I hope everyone is getting all of their last minute hustles and bustles complete! It's hard to believe Christmas is less than a week away and 2011 is right around the corner. A complete decade has passed since the millennium - hard to believe!!

To get ready for the new year, our talented design team gals have created some awesome projects themed around the "Calendar". Sandy has designed many products perfect for all of you calendar needs including stamps, creative scraps, journaling notes - and freebies on the Crafty Secrets Blog!

For this challenge, I decided to put together a mini paper bag yearly planner - chock full of pockets to tuck all of your mementos, pictures, journaling, receipts, important dates, birthday reminders etc. It is held together with some vintage thread wrapped around vintage bobbins from my grandma. It is very chunky and full of goodies!

Recipe for this album:

Now off you go to see the rest of our Design Team's creations! Have a happy and safe holiday!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Minty Mocha Cupcakes & Fuzzy Candy Canes

Only a week and a half left! So much to do - so little time! My hubby and I made it safely to Chicago to see Straight No Chaser. They were better than expected! We also had our first Tappas experience and will definitely do it again! You get the most elegant portions and just enough for a nibble to satisfy your taste buds - then you're off to another dish with more yummy goodies. My favorite - bacon wrapped dates in a red pepper sauce. I could have eaten them all night long!

Here are the packages of fuzzy grungy candy canes I made for a local craft show in November. They are super easy to make (just a few twists) and soooo useful to add here and there to all of your holiday projects! Perfect for a vintage twist.

Tools and Materials
Pipe cleaners or chenille sticks (contrasting colors)
Your favorite grunging medium (i.e. shoe polish; paint glaze; distress ink; etc.) Or you can soak your pipe cleaners in a tea solution and let dry overnight.
rubber gloves
Optional - cinnamon; glitter; artificial snow


1. Twist together two 6-inch lengths of pipe cleaner or chenille stick in contrasting colors (such as red and white or green and white). Twist uniformly to make neatly spaced stripes. Bend the top into a hook.
2. Put on gloves and use your grunging stain of choice to give your candy canes a more vintage/grubby look. Try applying to your fingers or paper towel then rubbing into fibers.
3. Add glitter, snow, etc. if so desired
4. Place on packages, cards, layouts, Christmas trees - whatever your little heart desires!

I have been obsessed with Hershey's Mint Truffle Kisses! I try to limit myself - but they are just too scrumptious to pass just a few past my lips! There is just something about cool peppermint mixed with chocolate- reminds me of Thin Mint season! During my obsession, I stumbled across this recipe for Minty Mocha Cupcakes - the name alone makes my mouth water! And since this is the season for baking - I added it to my list! Hope you enjoy!

Minty Mocha Cupcake Recipe


for the cupcakes (makes 24 regular sized cupcakes):

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp. espresso powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs

for the frosting:

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1¾ plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


to make the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans (24 cupcakes) with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir together. Combine the milk, coffee and peppermint extract in a liquid measuring cup.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugars. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Alternately mix in the dry and liquid ingredients, and mixing just until incorporated.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

to make the frosting

1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

3. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more.

4. Stir in the peppermint and vanilla extracts and mix just until incorporated.

Source: Annie's Eats


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sneak Peek & Hot Cocoa Dippers

We are living in a magical winter wonderland here in the midwest! Several inches of snow still cover the ground - with more on the way! My husband and I are planning on seeing Straight No Chaser tonight, hoping that the weather will hold off until we are safely home. If you haven't heard of this amazing men's acapella group, you simply MUST watch this youtube video showing one of their holiday performances. I am bubbling with excitement to see them live!

Here is just a sneak peek of a layout I created for the holidays. This one is so chunky that it will solely be a display piece since I highly doubt it would squeeze into a scrapbook sleeve. Shhhh...this one is a secret (more pictures after the holidays!)

Finally, I have a super yummy recipe/activity for you to make with your loved ones - Holiday Hot Cocoa Dippers (pictured above)! ather large marshmallows, drinking straws, chocolate, and red nonpareil sprinkles. Skewer marshmallows on straws, then melt chocolate in a small vessel (such as a shallow microwave-safe bowl). Dip in marshmallows, leaving white tops exposed; lift sticks straight up, letting excess chocolate drip off. Cool briefly on waxed paper, but dip marshmallow bottoms into sprinkles while chocolate is still slightly soft.

Want these adorable straws to make the look complete? You can find them here on Etsy from parcelandpaper for a very reasonable price! **Or here on Artfire. (I think the Etsy shop already sold out!)**

Hope you are enjoying your weekend! Stay warm and cozy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just a Little Give-a-way!

Howdy everyone!

Want a chance to win some beautiful handmade items from artists of The Working Artist Group (TWAG)? TWAG is a group of paper artists that I belong to in the eBay world. We love to make intricate layouts, cards, albums, etc. Each artist has her own creative style and is a wonderful inspiration for thinking out of the box when creating your own designs.

We are trying to reach 500 fans on Facebook. Just click the link, "like" our page, and leave a comment! Your name will then be placed in our drawing! Already a member? Help spread the word by posting on your blog and/or Facebook page. Let us know that you did and your name will be placed in the drawing too! A winner will be chosen on December 15th or when we reach 500 fans - whichever comes first!

Thanks so much for your support! Now come get inspired!

Click here to go to our FAN PAGE!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

Sixteen degrees and dropping out here in good ol' Illinois. Inches of snow still sprinkled on the ground - kiddos bundled from head to toe coming in to check out their weekly library books. I was pleasantly surprised by some handmade yummies this evening. My good friend Amy tried out the peppermint marshmallows I posted the other day and WOW are they scrumdiddlyumptious!

I piled them high in my favorite snowman mug and took a quick pic before I gobbled them down. And if that wasn't enough - my favorite library helper/school secretary/heart of the school/Donna brought me some of her famous banana bread. So as I sit here watching "Sing Off" I feel like a queen sipping my hot pepperminty coca and nibbling banana bread - filled with friendship. Thank you so much gals! You made my night!

Just a quick goody to share with you tonight! A fun shabby recipe box made with my favorite K&Company Christmas paper! Vintage laces, doilies, recipes and cookie cutter adorn this little keepsake - a perfect gift or family memento! The box and cards are from my local craft store and pretty inexpensive. Just add a few of your family favorites and pass along to the chef on your Christmas List!

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December's First Snow

I woke up this morning to inches of fun, fluffy, white snow! Freshly fallen and pure pure white - in every nook and crevice it could sneak into. We probably got around six inches or so - and the good heavy snowman building kind! My husband bundled up in many layers and headed out to shovel us a path to the world of the living. I dug out my boots and helped - by taking pictures ;o)

Later on we headed to the small little town where I teach. Nestled in the country between vast soy bean and corn fields, this tiny community holds a special place in my heart. With Christmas music playing and cider in our tummies, we decorated the town's Christmas tree with red velvet bows, ornaments, and big chunky lights. It is so nice to be part of such a close nit community of friends!

When I got home, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my blog was nominated for the "Stylish Blogger Award" by a dear sweet gal named Kathy Braun. Kathy authors her blog called "Lucky Stamper" where she shares her amazing paper craft talents! She makes beautiful cards and gifts and is a wonderful inspiration! So be sure to bop on over to her blog and see what she is all about. And thank you so much Kathy! You really made my day!

After accepting the award, there a few rules, fairly easy:
1. Thank the person who gave your the award and link back to them
2. Share 8 things about yourself
3. Pay it forward to 8 bloggers that you have recently discovered
4. Contact those bloggers and them about their award

So here are 8 little tidbits about me...
1. Besides papercrafts, I also like to paint and make primitive penny rugs - something I've put on the back burner as of late :o)
2. I have the most supportive husband - he is my rock and biggest fan and am truly blessed to have found him.
3. I am originally from Pennsylvania and have a little sister (well not so little anymore) who recently started making cards as well.
4. I am a librarian and try to incorporate old book pages into my work to bring their stories back to life.
5. I have been teaching for 10 years and counting!
6. I love the feel of brand new socks and how they make my toes happy.
7. I am obsessed with anything vintage and primitive - the grubbier the better!
8. I LOVE love LOVE to have my feet tickled.... :o)

And here are my 8 newly discovered blogs:
1. Confessions of a Ribbon Addict by Jody Morrow
2. Samantha Shade Designs by Samantha Shade
3. My Creative Affaire by Lynette Carroll
4. Mish Mash by Michelle Wooderson
5. Karola Witczak Handmade
6. Such a Pretty Mess by Gabrielle
7. My Crazy Live as a Farmers Wife by Sherelle Christensen
8. Fresh Vintage

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Vintage Joy & Peppermint Marshmallows

We had our first snow of the season yesterday. Not enough to blanket the ground, but just a slow fluttering - softly falling all day. The kind of snow that makes you want to sit in front of the fire with a hot steaming cup of hot cocoa! While in the mood, I finished piecing a holiday layout using my favorite vintage yummies and Crafty Secrets images. I just love this color combination (sort of obsessed with it - lol!)

The vintage images were taken from Crafty Secret's Double Sided Christmas Creative Scraps. Love this set! SO versatile!

If your weather is starting to nip at your nose - and you are sipping some hot cocoa of your own - you must whip up a batch of these yummy peppermint marshmallows to plop into your steamy mug! Don't they just look delightful?! And what a perfect co-worker, boss, or teacher gift!


Makes sixteen 2-inch squares

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring


  1. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray; line bottom with parchment paper. Coat the parchment with cooking spray, and set pan aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring; let mixture come to a boil. Raise heat to medium-high; cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture over a pan of simmering water; whisk constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in extract; set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Whisk gelatin mixture into sugar mixture; with mixer running, gradually add to egg whites. Mix on high speed until very thick, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Pour mixture into lined pan. Working quickly, drop dots of red food coloring across surface of marshmallow. Using a toothpick, swirl food coloring into marshmallow to create a marbleized effect. Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Cut into squares. From Martha Stewart Living