Thursday, December 16

Holiday Sweetness

I know this is isn't a cooking blog, and I leave that stuff up to my sister, but as I was whipping these up for a cookie exchange recently, I thought of you. And, how you might need the perfect gift for friends who stop by during the holidays. Plus, this recipe is super delicious (and, super easy), and it's sad that I only make it once a year.

Making holiday candy and cookies is another tradition in my family. One of the things I remember most about the holidays are all of my mom's Christmas tins overflowing with all sorts of holiday goodness. Chex mix (trash, in my family), butterscotch haystacks, divinity, and of course, this toffee.

The Toffee's cast: 2 sticks of butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp karo syrup, 2 Tbsp water, 1 cup chocolate chips, 2 cups whole nuts, 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans work, I used walnuts)
Bring the butter, sugar, water & Karo to a boil and cook about 7-8 minutes. If you want to use a thermometer, you want the mixture to be at 290 degrees. If you don't want to use a thermometer, we've decided that if you start a timer for 7 1/2 minutes as soon as the mixture starts to boil, you're pretty much perfect. Just make sure the mixture is brownish, and not butter colored.
Remove from heat and stir in nuts. (See how the mixture is more "caramel" colored?)
Spread the toffee onto a cookie sheet with the back of a wooden spoon, and pour your chips over the mixture.
Let them sit for 2 minutes and then spread them over the toffee with the back of a knife. (Little bit of trivia: chocolate chips don't lose their shape when they are heated!)
You can top the toffee with chopped nuts, or leave as is. Sometimes a little time in the freezer helps before you break them apart.

For the perfect little gift, break your toffee apart, put a few pieces in a cute bag, and tie it with a festive holiday tag for all your nearest and dearest friends. (There's the design piece, right?! Gift Tag!)
Or, throw some wax paper in one of your Christmas tins, and keep them for yourself to enjoy over the holidays as an anytime snack.

Hugs & Happy Holidays to you all!

Friday, December 10

15 DAYS??!!

Can you believe there are only 15 days left until Christmas?! What tha?! Really, where does the time go?

Well, around here, the time has been going to creating holiday works of art for you all. This is just a sampling of what's been riding out of the workshop on Santa's sleigh.

And, I'm here to tell you, it's not too late. You have a few more days to order Christmas cards, and if you just can't get your stuff together for those, you have plenty of time to order New Year's cards. Oh, and one more thing - if you want to make your card do double duty, I've done a baby announcement/holiday card and a 1st birthday/holiday card this year.

So, order up your cards by December 16th, or the sleigh's leavin' without ya!

OK - back to it. I see an elf slacking on his ribbon duties.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 1

It's Christmas(carol)time

So, it was reeeeeeally hard for me to wait until December 1st to post the December playlist, since I started listening to it the day after Thanksgiving. I love Christmas carols, holiday songs, all the new, fun songs by today's latest and greatest. Having a decorated house with carols piping out the speakers just makes me happy!

This playlist has all my favorites (that I could find), so it's quite long. Perfect for you at work, when you don't want Pandora sucking up all your computer bandwidth. If you are a holiday song lover like me, here are a few CDs not to miss: Sarah Maclachlan's Wintersong, George Winston's December, and Bing Crosby's Christmas Classics. Of course, the Very Special Christmas CDs (I don't love anything past the third one, but...) are always good.

Is there anything on your holiday song list that I should be listening to? Let me know. I love new holiday songs.

Tuesday, November 30

'Tis the Season

I love the holidays! With all its tradition and goodness, it just caps off the year with happiness, doncha think?

I'm quite proud of myself - I got all my decorations up over Thanksgiving weekend. Now, in my family, that was always the tradition. The girls would decorate the tree and hang the stockings, and our dad would be cursing the day on a ladder hanging lights outside. The Griswolds had nuthin' on our house! So, I'm glad to keep up the tradition.

On top of decorating, the workshop is working overtime, and I love, love, love it. I thought you'd all like a little spice of what's gone out. I'm feeling very colorful and fun this year - I'm attaching myself to lots of pinks, reds, turquoise and lime.

So, tomorrow is December 1st ... what are you waiting for? Order up your cards. You know they're totally custom, done the way you want them, and turn around is less than a week.

Have you hung your decor? Decked your halls? Trimmed your trees?

Thursday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! We're celebrating with good friends over green bean casserole, broccoli cheese casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin and pecan pies, and yummy rolls. Oh, and turkey. But, I could really do without Tom Turkey half the time - I love my sides so much. I see why Thanksgiving is easy for vegetarians!

I'm thankful for:
God and all he provides us
Mr. Man, who puts up with all my antics
My dear, dear family who I miss every minute of the day
Our wonderful friends, who are really our family away from home
The freedom we are provided by being protected by our troops (who don't get to celebrate with their families most of the time)

and...All of you - my readers and supporters

So very thankful - thank you! What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 22

My Winter Wonderland

Outside my window today, there's snow. SNOW! I woke up to big, fat flakes falling down, and it's beginning to look a lot like...oh wait, it's not even Turkey Day yet. I was still pining away for our short summer, but I think I'm ready for the holidays now.

Gonna set up the tree this week, enjoy some turkey on Thursday, freeze my patootie off at a football game. 

Got any exciting weather where you are? Are you excited about the holidays? What gets you in the spirit?

Right now, I'm going to make myself some hot chocolate and, heck, I may even turn on the Christmas tunes.

Friday, November 19

Thankful for ... You!

Since Thanksgiving's next week, I'm continuing my thankful posts with a big shout out to... YOU!! I'm so thankful for all of you. You call on me for all your design needs - baby, holiday, party, moves, wedding gifts, baby gifts - and I fear I'll never be able to portray the appreciation I have for you all.


The workshop is working away on holiday orders I've received, but if you haven't ordered holiday cards, now's your chance. You know you get a completely custom experience!

And, because I'm so thankful for you, I'm doing a little experiment to see just how many people stop by my blog. So, if you order your holiday cards by November 25th, you'll receive a 10% discount on your order.!

Tuesday, November 16

Thankful for Reading Material

To pass the time on our drives across Florida and Alabama, I brought along a few books. They were so good, I wanted to tell you about them, just in case you haven't read them already. And then I thought, hey, I should tell you about all the good books I've read recently. I've hardly made a dent in my stack, but here goes.

the book thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, and narrated by Death, I was a little worried I wouldn't like this book. But, the way the author writes, and sets the words on the page, made me not want to put it down. It is pretty depressing material (Nazi Germany, remember), but it'll make you think, and realize we have no idea what a bad day looks like.

the alchemist
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
If you're struggling with your life's purpose, or have a hard time 'following your heart', this is the book for you. A super short, easy read, it's the story of a shepherd how sells his flock to find a treasure, and all he encounters along the way. The book was written over 20 years ago, but it has a very spiritual, religious message, and I LOVED it!

the help
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Narrated by 3 main characters, 2 black maids and a young white woman, The Help tells the story of what it was like to be a maid in the South in the 60s. This book will have you experiencing every emotion, and have you amazed at the fact that this subject matter only happened 40 years ago. This book and The Book Thief really made me sad that people can be so mean, and that so many others just follow along. Great read! And, soon to be a movie.

hunger games trilogy
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
This trilogy consists of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. Set in the future, in a destroyed North America, the trilogy is the story of the Hunger Games, where a boy a girl from each of the 12 districts of Panem compete to the death. The stories are part Gladiator, part reality TV. Yes, morbid material. Yes, science fiction. But, yes, the 3 books are superbly written. They're classified as Young Adult novels, because the narrator is 16, but the subject matter is hardly child's play. Also being made into movies (because of Special Effects, I think we have to wait til 2012).

water for elephants
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Water for Elephants is the story of a vet student who joins the circus during the Great Depression. It's narrated by the vet, who flashes back between current day and his circus days. One of the main characters is Rosie the elephant, who you are sure to fall in love with. Said to be loosely based on the story of Jacob from the Bible. Sooo good. (Again, being made into a movie. I wish I could remember who the main actor is!! Ha)

And, last but not least...
The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
Ha ha ha ha. Hee hee. Did you think I'd have a book post without featuring my favorite?! Especially since Eclipse came out this summer, so I was forced to read it for a 4th time? I'll spare you the synopsis - if you don't know what it's about yet, then you've obviously not been following this blog, or current events, for that matter.

So, still on my list: Love in the Time of Cholera, My Sister's Keeper, and The Happiness Project. What have you read lately that you loved? I have a huge stack, but nothing's better than curling up with a good book on a cold night.

Thursday, November 4

Thankful for Tunes

Since we're headin' out on the open road, and I know you wait on the edge of your seat each month for the playlist, I decided to send it out to you at the beginning of the month. (what a concept!)

Big thanks & virtual high fives to all you who sent me song ideas and website ideas. Becky introduced me to, if you all are interested. I was excited when I chose female vocalists, I knew a bunch of them. Not as out of touch as I thought, I guess!

So, here you go. It's a little slower this month, with a few pepsters in there. And remember to tell me what you're listenin' to.

POST-EDIT:A virtual double high five to baby sister for introducing me to Passion Pit. She put them on her girl's trip mix, and I like 'em so much I sometimes listen on repeat. Go ahead, try it.

Tuesday, November 2

Husband of the Year

will's birthday
Today's Mr Man's birthday, so I thought I'd wish him happy thoughts here. This will be the 14th time we've celebrated this momentous occasion, and I have to say, he's had some pretty stellar celebrations.
custom birthday party invitations
Since his birthday is so close to Halloween, we sometimes have a costume party (are you noticing a theme here?)
stormtrooper costume
Then, for his 30th birthday, I "surprised" him with a trip to see his favorite college team - Notre Dame - play. That trip has created a tradition, and though it isn't always on his birthday, this year, it happens to be.

So, in a few days, we're off to Tallahassee and Auburn, where they eat, sleep and breathe football. Mr Man will celebrate for a week (or longer) with stadium tours, halls of fame, and all the BBQ he can eat. 

But, no complaining here - it's his birthday, remember? And, Lord knows, he's put up with my silly requests all these years. And, he always works in somewhere for me to lay in the sunshine (like Hilton Head, down below); I've seen parts of the country I never would have; and sometimes we meet new friends, or re-connect with old friends.
hilton head island
We've had a running joke lately that I should win 'Wife of the Year' (I might be the only one who thinks that), because I attend all these football games. In the rain. Next to drunkards. Watching teams I have NO idea about.

But, truly, if you knew all the things Mr Man does for me, and puts up with (I'll save you the details. Ahem.), you'd see he is definitely deserved of 'Husband of the Year'.

Happy Birthday, Mr Man. I love you to the moon and back.

Friday, October 29

Have a Spooktacular Weekend

Oh, halloween, how are you already here? I didn't even plan my costume, so I'll be recycling the 80s garb from my birthday. Hey, whatever works, right?

Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend filled with tons of candy and super fun parties! I'm ready for it - sitting here in my candy corn socks and skeleton earrings, eating all the candy I'm supposed to hand out. Whoops, might have to pretend we aren't home.

Have a safe one - what are you or the kiddos dressing as this year?

Tuesday, October 26

May I Take Your Order?

Time to order Holiday Cards. I know, I know, you're still deciding what costume to wear Trick or Treating, but Thanksgiving's like next week, and those December holidays and parties are right after that.

So, do yourself a favor, order your holiday cards. You don't have to know what picture you're using yet, just place the order. Tell me what look you might be going for (if you're having photos taken), styles or colors you might like, or just tell me to wing it. I get lots of those "wing it" requests. You guys like to make me work. If only flexing creative muscles burned more calories...

I've put together a little montage of some of last year's favorites. Maybe you'll see something you like here, or get an idea for style or color.
custom happy holidays card
custom alternative merry and bright holiday card
custom classic merry christmas card
custom scroll snowflake peace and love holiday card
Remember, all my cards are double-sided, which is a great way to fit a brief Holiday letter on your card.
custom story card for holidays
And, holiday cards are great for doing double duty, like announcing a new baby.
custom baby announcement christmas card
Or, updating people's address books.
custom moving announcement holiday card
And, if you aren't really into sending pictures to everyone in your address book, that's no problem.
custom folded holiday card
Drop me a line if you're ready to order. I've got some orders going, in case you were nervous about being first in line!

Friday, October 22

Let the Music Play(list)

So, since there are a whopping 9 days of October left, I thought I better get the playlist out. A mix of old & new, you know, with songs I found on commercials. It seems the only places I stumble upon new music are commercials and episodes of Grey's Anatomy. No iTunes here, so I can't do the Genius thing. Will you be my genius? Tell me what you're rockin' out to lately in the comments. Maybe it'll make it onto the November playlist. Tell me soon, cause I only have about 4 weeks before it's ALL Christmas music, ALL the time. But, I digress...

*Don't Stop Believing in honor of sister singing karaoke at the Rockin' 80s Birthday. Makes me smile every time!

Tuesday, October 19

Top 10 in '10

In honor of 10/10, I thought I'd do my own little Top 10 list. As shocked as I am that it's already October, 2010 has been a pretty great year. So, in no particular order, here are the items or events that made my top 10 in '10.

hilton head girls trip
We took our first ever girls trip this year to celebrate some milestones (35, 30, 21). We rented a condo in Hilton Head, SC, and then ended the trip with some friends in Savannah, GA. We loved the beach, riding bikes, watching Sweet P in the waves & sand, and all the dolphins in Savannah. It was hot, hot, hot and luckily, the rain that attacked us the entire drive from Atlanta, held off for the majority of the trip. If you've never been to either place, you should go. Maybe celebrate a milestone there, like we did!

custom hand-sewn party invitation
As I mentioned earlier, we celebrated 10 years in Seattle this year. And, to commemorate the event, we threw a fiesta in the backyard, complete with fish tacos and Hatch green chile - a perfect marriage of our old home and new. We had a great time with our friends around the fire pit, and the weather was perfect!

sister and sweet p in seattle
And, possibly the best birthday present ever, this year, my sis & Sweet P surprised me. Now, to surprise me is a feat in & of itself, so that makes it even better. Everyone was in on it, but me. Mr. Man, my best gal, Carrie, family members, other friends. Kudos to everyone for keeping the secret for so long. It ROCKED! To read all about it, head to sister's blog.

My sister's surprise visit just so happened to coincide with my Rockin' 80s Birthday Party, which was like, totally, a blast! Costumes required, karaoke, all the fried food you could imagine, and a cake made to look like a hostess cupcake. AWESOME! The costumes might've been my favorite part. My friends are SUPER creative. We had Michael Jackson, Madonna, a preppy country club couple, side-ponies, scrunchies, crimped hair, ornate velvet prom dresses, neon, neon, and more neon. I'll spare my friends the embarrassment of the pictures, but wow - RAD!

I already wrote about it, but my first open house definitely ranks as one of the best events of the year. And, it just opened a door to have many more of these fun evenings. I appreciate all my friends and their support for this little business of mine. I am the little engine that could, and it really has everything to do with my support system. PS - holidays right around the corner, so send me your orders.

custom hand made gifts
Hosting the open house allowed me to showcase other handmade items, besides my Invitations and Announcements. And, it's been so fun creating custom pieces for clients. A hair flower for a wedding here, a triptych of canvases for someone's dining room there, with a name sign as a new baby gift thrown in for good measure. It's been a wild ride, but flexing my creative muscles feels amazing. If you are looking for one-of-a-kind gifts this Holiday, we should chat.

kanye look-alike
If you have nieces & nephews, you know the overwhelming feeling of pride when they say your name for the first time. When I received the video of Sweet P pointing to Auntie Ro-Ro when asked, I watched it over & over through tears. Awesome doesn't even begin to describe it! And, now, since I talk to her mama numerous times a day, the phone is "Hi Ro-Ro". Gotta love that kid!

In May, Mr Man's parents sent him his college bike, which of course meant I needed one. Now, if you know me, I am NOT sporty. I repeat, I am NOT sporty. So, to get a bike was a huge (ginormous) stretch for me. But, I'll admit, riding is fun. We rode to the beach on the weekends, downtown for dinner, and around the 'hood just for fun. The requests from Mr. Man were the best: 'hey, pop a wheelie real quick'; 'hey, just ride really fast & jump off the curb'; 'you can totally ride down that horribly steep hill without crashing & burning'. Ah, I love that man - he thinks I have such dare devil potential. For the record, no, I didn't do any of those things, but yes, I do ride barefoot, or in flip flops and a skirt. Told you, NOT sporty.

top 10 adirondack chairs
Early in the summer, I decided I needed Adirondack chairs for our front yard. Since the sun moves from the backyard about 3:30, I wanted to still be able to enjoy the sun without sitting in the grass. So, that's what I did. I put them together and painted them. And most days, you could find me in my chair in the front yard with my laptop and a glass of water (or wine) with the windows open so I could hear my tunes. Oh, just another perk of being your own boss.

summer concerts sheryl crow
It seemed all my favorite bands from the early 90s decided to tour this summer. I missed some of the shows, but the shows I saw were awesome. And, there's nothing better than being able to sing along to EVERY song! Concrete Blonde, Sarah McLachlan, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Sheryl Crow. It truly was the summer of live music!

Have you had a good 2010 so far (it's almost over, you know, so I hope so!)? Let me know some of the fun stuff you've done; I may add them to my list for 2011.

Remember, the holidays are fast approaching (I think we're in under 10 weeks now), so order up those cards or gifts.

Wednesday, October 6


I've folded cards. I mean I've really folded cards. If we were counting, it'd probably be over 1,000 or something. All folded & scored by hand, using an embossing stylus, a metal ruler, and the edge of my paper cutter (which, (danger) had to have the arm up so I could fit the metal ruler on it). Why yes, I do have a visual:
Now, mind you, this task is not what any of these tools were created to do. Well, ok, I guess the ruler might not be dancing too far outside his comfort zone. But, really, could I have made it any harder on myself? Good grief - the ruler likes to slip, the sound of the metal on metal is enough to put anyone over the edge, and I never knew what the fold was going to look like when I was done scoring.

Why did I do this to myself? Especially since there are tools made to put folds in paper. Why did I not just trot on down to my local paper store (they should know me by name now) and purchase one of these tools a looooong time ago is beyond me. I mean, look at this thing.
It's a huge board (you can even create boxes with it) and comes with a bone folder to score the paper, and help with the fold.
And, it's broken down every eighth of an inch for folds. (see the ridges).
I know this won't excite any of you as much as it does me. I'm just glad I bought it before I embark on the scoring & folding of 250 thank you cards. And, it's music to my ears, because that nails on a chalkboard of metal on metal thing - heebie.jeebies.

Yay me for making life easier. To that I say, SCORE! (pun totally intended)