Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Year Intentions

And here we are, another year and another opportunity for making resolutions. I suppose many who have made the New Year's pledge may have already broken those resolutions, and I suppose that is in part why I chose this year to look at this opportunity as stating intentions, rather than resolutions.

While I may be splitting hairs with the subtle definition variances, defines Intention as, "An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result," and Resolution is defined, "A formal expression of opinion or intention made". So, with this English lesson out of the way - I can honestly state that I could list many intentions for the year - but the one that rises above the pact would be to LIVE. Enjoy each day to the fullest, regardless what the day may bring; the good, the bad and the ugly. (And no, I am not a Clint Eastwood fan!) While LIVE may mean something different to each person, to me, it's not to take anything for granted, and to truly enjoy each beautiful day.

Happy New Year and ENJOY each and every day!!

What would be the 10 things you would do before you die? An interesting question asked of me several years back that made me think really hard. (Although, a few years older, a few years wiser - some of my answers may vary slightly.)
Journaling Reads:
6. Watch the sunrise on the hills of Machu Picchu. 2. See my Goddaughter get married and have children. 4*. Experience Paris with the love of my life. 10. Become a Shareholder at my 9 to 5 job. 8. Visit each of the 50 states in the Union. 3. Make a difference in someone's life. 9. Take a hot air balloon ride over the Loire Valley in France. 7. Be published - professionally & in the scrapbooking community. 5. Be healthy. Eat healthy. Live a healthy lifestyle. 1. Enjoy life. Live each moment to the fullest. * Find the LOVE of my life!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Cards - A Holiday Project

My 2009 Holiday Card Creation

This year for my holiday card I chose to use a photo I captured during my trip to Paris this past May. While this is as close as I got to the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre - I was really pleased that this photo was snapped inside the Pompidou Center. I opted to have the photos developed in a sepia tone to work with my holiday theme.

For those who did not receive their cards - my apologies - time management!! They're in the mail!

To all my friends and followers - may you have a blessed holiday.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gift Wrap - A Holiday Project

Handcrafted gift wrap and gift tag.

One of my past project goals that never came to fruition was creating my own gift wrap. I always admired those that were able to create something of their own, from the simple to the extravagant; I'm a sucker for a smartly wrapped gift, regardless of the occasion!

Gift wrap making in the process!

While this year's attempt didn't exactly match the image in my head - I am still, nonetheless, pleased with my creation! I chose to use a snowflake-shaped foam stamp with a soft blue paint - to mimic the crispness of a wintry sky. To simulate the sparkle of snowflakes, I added a dusting of finely ground crystal glitter (that sadly - I'm afraid, more ended up in the Dyson than on my wrapping paper!) For the background, I wanted something that was "rougher" in appearance to provide that contrast to the glittery snowflakes, so I chose good 'ole Kraft paper. The irregularity of the stamping added to the overall character of the gift wrap, adding that special handmade touch - something I wanted to achieve. The process was simple enough, although time-consuming; I learned lots and look forward to my next gift wrapping project!

May all your holiday shopping and gift wrapping tasks be complete!!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gift Tags - Revisited

Gift tags for R & L, using school photos from years past.....
Over the years, I have learned (the hard way) how important it is to have names on each wrapped gift sitting under the tree. While you may think that I inadvertently gave the wrong present to some poor soul, but no, I was on the receiving end ? from my parents! Many years ago while I was still in college and my mother was filling the job of office manager for my father?s then new accounting firm, one Christmas morn, I watched as my brother opened my new blender! We all had a good laugh, but I could tell how mortified my mother was when she realized her shorthand hieroglyphics did not serve her so well that particular Christmas.

So, as the abiding daughter, I have tried over the years to ensure that each smartly wrapped gift has some type of obvious gift tag. Of course, I need to make a project out of this task as the store-bought peel and stick gift tags will just not do this year, especially claiming to achieve three holiday projects!

I wanted the gift tag to serve more than one purpose, so I crafted a chipboard ornament that will serve gift tag duty! I used a chipboard kit, but embellished to my heart?s content. The picture above illustrates the ?ornament? in a tree ? but, ultimately, the tag will find its way to the present! I will also post photos with my next project ? I can?t give away all my projects in one post!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Cookie Baking

Anise Cookies - always a crowd favorite!
My family has had a holiday tradition of baking cookies for as long as I can remember. My memories began with my grandmother who always had a platter of cookies at every family gathering, regardless of the occasion or holiday. The flavors varied from the adult palette of fruit and nut to the child friendly chocolate and candy filled confections!
While my grandmother has passed on to the cookie clouds in heaven, my mother and I continue the tradition of baking holiday cookies each and every year. While the hope is to satisfy every one's tastebuds, we know that there is still one more batch to make, one more kind to test; inevitably a few batches of cookies go unbaked (our waistlines thank us!)
One of the most requested holiday cookies that I continually receive is a recipe that my grandmother created to match the flavor of a childhood cookie my grandfather enjoyed. My grandfather remembered an iced cookie with an anisette flavoring that his mother made when he was just a child, unfortunately an early death prevented my great-grandmother from passing along the recipe to future generations. My grandmother adapted the refrigerator cookie dough recipe from the Betty Crocker's Cooky Book (provided below) and topped each cookie with an anise-flavored icing. My grandmother always colored the icing bright pink, duplicating my grandfather's childhood memory, but I prefer a dark periwinkle colored icing to serve as a wintry backdrop for white snowflake candy toppings.
May you enjoy the confections of the holidays and create your own family tradition!
Happy Holidays!
Caramel Refrigerator Cookies
1/2 C. Butter
1 C. Brown Sugar (Packed)
1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1-3/4 C. Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
Mix butter, sugar, egg and vanilla thoroughly. Stir in flour and baking soda. Form dough in roll, 2-1/2" across. Wrap in wax paper. Chill until firm.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut dough in 1/8"TH slices. Place slices a little apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, 1963 Edition
After cookies have cooled, I make a simple frosting with butter, cream/milk, confectioner's sugar and anise flavoring. While there are no exact measurements - I make sufficient amounts to top each cookie with a smattering of icing and top with some type of holiday candy topping.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Diana: A Celebration

One of the lovely Spencer family artifacts.

Removing myself from my holiday project mindset, I took a break yesterday and met some coworkers at the National Constitution Center for the current exhibit, Diana: A Celebration. While the weather was extremely gloomy here in Philadelphia, the occasion was one of celebrating the extraordinary life of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Once upon a time, I was quite infatuated with anything royal, but especially the fairytale princess, Diana Spencer. Yes, I was one of the million Americans who set their alarm very early on July 29, 1981 to be a witness to the union of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. In fact, my senior Enlgish research paper chronicled the entire wedding celebration from engagment to their departure on The Britannia for their honeymoon. Yes, I was captivated by it ALL!

The special exhibit running through January 3, 2010, was a tribute to Lady Diana's life and all that she accomplished. Organized by her brother, the Earl Spencer, the exhibit recorded Diana's life, starting with her childhood, viewing family photos, letter and home movies. In the movies, Diana became a familiar image, that little girl playing, being silly, just like our very own childhood memoires.

The exhibit went on to illustrate Diana's school days, here engagement and wedding to Prince Charles, her sense of fashion, her death and finally the causes and special interest groups that she supported. I suppose the two things that stood out the most, included: a) the amount of handwritten notes, letters and albums of memoriam that were crafted for Diana's family and b) reading the unedited version of Earl Spencer's tribute that he gave during Diana's memorial service. If you recall the words that the Earl used to describe the Royal Family, the frosty tone was warmhearted compared to the words crossed out in his own handwriting. Very telling.

If you find yourself in Philadelphia and have a couple of hours to spare, I recommend catching the exhibit at the National Constitution Center before it departs.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ribbon, Braiding and Trim, Oh My!

New ribbon round-up!

Part of the allure to scrapping for many is the acquiring of supplies: the hoarding of paper, the frenzied purchase of the newest, coolest gadget du jour and the mounting masses of stamps, scissors and adhesives. Once upon a time, I suppose I garnered a bit of hoarding myself, but as my years as a scrapper mellow, I have all but eliminated my hoarding tendencies.

Well..............................except for one.


Somehow, I always manage to find more room for ribbon - the perfect accompaniment for oh so many projects. The little bit of satin or cording can make the simplest scrapping layout pop with the added color and texture and somehow handcrafted cards don't have the same sparkle without a tad of trimming so needless to say, I use lots of ribbon which fuels my hoarding habit!

With coupons and the local craft store sales flyer in hand, I set out on a mission to boost my current inventory (or rather, collection) of ribbon, braiding and trim! As I mentioned in my previous post Holiday Project 1 - ORGANIZATION 101, I have set out on a few holiday projects. No doubt, ribbon is a part of each one of these projects. Hmm, how did that happen?

So, now that I have amassed a new supply of ribbon - there's no excuse - it's off to work I go!