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Monday, December 31, 2012


I've been doing quite a bit of sewing lately.  I have a client that I'm making several business casual dresses and jumpers for, but I'm most excited about a project that my daughter and I are collaborating on for this coming Spring.  We're working on a bridal portrait styled shoot.   I'll be providing the gown and she'll be capturing the images.   Wedding gowns are my all-time favorite project since I get to use every ounce of my creativity along with my sewing skills. 
This gown is going to be a lace overlay, very romantic with an A-line silhouette.  I found some wonderful satin and lace here locally which can be a challenge.  But I had great success at a shop called Allyn's in Denver.   If you've never been, it's a crazy little shop that is chock-full of fabrics, laces, trims, etc.   It can be completely frustrating, since it is so disorganized....but so exhilarating when you find what you're looking for!  It's a treasure trove of goodies.
This is just a sneak peek ..... I'll be posting pics of the completed
gown once we've finished the project.  I hope then to be able to sell it to a boutique here in town.    The fabrics and trims are so beautiful that I've already changed up the the design a bit from my original sketch to highlight some of the unique features of the lace.  Stay tuned!

Monday, December 24, 2012


Happy Christmas Eve! 
Like most of you I've been busy with baking and just wanted to share a couple of new favorites that I've added to the traditional favorites that my Mom used to make year after year.  Now, I don't go crazy like my Mom used to do with 10-12 different varieties and literally hundreds of cookies.  I've settled on 5-6 and I try one or two new ones each year; keeping the sentimental favorites that take me back to my childhood. 
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookie Cups
Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies
Don't they look awesome!  You can almost smell them fresh out of the oven in this picture.  They are equally delicious, that's why they've become my new favorites.  I'm going to share with you the recipe for the Peanut Butter & Chocolate cookie cups.  I apologize it's too late for this year, but I encourage you to copy this recipe and put it in your recipe box for something to look forward to next year.

3/4 cup softened butter or margarine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cup Nestle Toll House Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate morsels
2 large eggs
1 (14 oz.) can condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease (I used cooking spray which worked great) 24 mini-muffin cups.  Beat butter and sugar in a small bowl until creamy.  Add flour and beat until mixture is evenly moist and crumbly.  Roll rounded teaspoon of dough into a ball; press onto bottom and halfway up the side of the cup.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Place 5 morsels in each cup.  Beat eggs in medium bowl with a wire whisk.  Stir in milk and vanilla.  Spoon into muffin cups, filling almost to the top of each cup.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until centers are puffed and edges are just beginning to brown.  Remove from oven to wire racks.  Gently run knife around edges of cookies.  Let centers flatten.  While still warm, top cookies with half of remaining morsels, mixing up the chocolate and peanut butter (they will soften and retain their shape).  Repeat with remaining morsels.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  With tip of knife, release cookies from cups.  Makes 24.

Have fun and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Thanks to the generosity of many of the wedding guests, my daughter and son-in-law have been using many of the gift cards they received to decorate their home.  They now have a color theme in mind for the Master Bedroom and recently bought a new bedspread for the guest room.   With the change in the bedspread for the guest room, the throw pillows no longer coordinated, nor were they needed.  Voila', that left pillows available for the Master; just what they were looking for to add some contrasting color to the room!
The pillow forms themselves were in good shape, so with some new fabric, they were good as new.  As you can see, the accent colors are red and grey; nice touch for the white/black main theme.  Pillows are about the easiest things you can make.  Really!  

It's amazing what you can do with a yard of fabric.  Here are a couple tips for you:
  • Cut the fabric the exact size of the pillow form versus adding the seam allowances into your measurements; that way, once you take your half inch seam allowances, the fabric will be nice and taught against the form versus looking under-filled.
  • At the corners, take a bit of a curved route versus stitching a perfect 90 degree angle at the corner.  That will minimize those really pointy corners.
Pillows are an awesome project for a novice seamstress or if you are teaching someone to sew. A basic running stitch around 3 1/2 sides and then a hand stitch to close up the opening where you inserted the form.   Easy Schmeazy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Call me a sappy, sentimental fool.  I decided to make my daughter (and son-in-law) a pine cone wreath from the pine cones and greenery we used at their wedding.  I thought it might be a nice keepsake and it could be fun to see it celebrated year after year just like their wedding anniversary.  Like I said, I'm a sucker for mementos. 
I purchased a grapevine wreath at Michael's at 60% off; I love a good sale!  I also picked up the snowman ornament for 50% off.  The rest of the goodies were all from the wedding.
The project was just a matter of arranging the pine cones and greenery and gluing them into place.  I would place two to three here and there, balancing the look of the arrangement as I made my way around the circumference.  I was just planning to do a little corner of it last night and I found I couldn't stop.  The whole thing took me just about an hour!  Now if we could get a little bit of snow around here it would really start to feel like the holidays.  Happy Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


We've slowly but surely been working on updating the kitchen.  We've been in our house for 17 years and it's time.  Last year we did the counter tops after the original builder basics were so worn that I couldn't even keep them clean and the formica was beginning to pull away. 

Last week my new dishwasher was delivered.  Woo Hoo!!!  Stainless steel.  I had to stand there and make sure it was running during the inaugural wash.  It was so quiet.  Ours got to the point that we had to turn it on just before the last person went to bed, because it was so loud.   The day after Thanksgiving the new DOUBLE oven was delivered.  Can I get a halleluiah??!!!, and with the glass cook top, no more burner bibs and crusties to clean up.    I have to say, though we were very fortunate.  Both the dishwasher and the oven were the originals, so we got plenty of use out of them.   But, now my kitchen is looking like a 21st century kitchen.  I love it!    The big project was the back splash tile.  I had tiled the walls of the kitchen last year with a mosaic tile, leaving the original green back splash in tact.  But, I really wanted it to go.  It was out dated; I don't even remember when exactly I put up the green backsplash.  This was going to be a biggie though; removing the tile and replacing it.      
As you can imagine, my husband was not too thrilled with the prospect of this project.    After doing some research on the internet, it appeared there wasn't going to be anything easy about it.....but, many people have successfully worked through something very similar.  So, away we went.   Step one was to remove the old tile.  Per the advice from the associate at Home Depot, if my husband had a dremel tool he could use that to remove the grout and then pry the tile free.  Well, I must have done an awesome job putting up that backsplash, because that didn't work quite like he described.  Bottom line, after consulting with his brother who is in the construction business, he literally remove the entire drywall, tile and all.   That meant he needed to build new framework and replace the drywall before I could get started on the replacement tile.  I think his words to me at that point were, " promise me, no more tile projects."  So far, I've used the cook top, but I haven't used the ovens yet.  Christmas cookie season is fast approaching.  Two ovens should make a huge difference! 

Friday, November 23, 2012


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  With only four of us for dinner this year, and a portion of those four not too fond of turkey; the kind of turkey you eat for weeks and put in the freezer only to find the plastic bag and its contents all freezer burned and nasty about April of the following year?  I know, you know that kind of turkey!
I tried something new this year and found it pretty tasty so I thought I would share with you.   Now, I apologize for the pictures since they are not in sharp focus, okay they're blurry.   I'll blame it on the tryptophan, no maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was the fact that I took the pictures without my glasses?  Well, anyway, the recipe was yummy!

Start with a turkey breast.  I found a Hormel package already seasoned (not exactly what I was looking for, but it turned out okay).  In the package it had two breasts.  I butterflied the pieces and pounded them flat with a kitchen mallet.

The next thing I did was blend some low fat cream cheese and honey mustard sauce together.  I painted that all over the breast.  Then I layered on the following ingredients:
  • fresh spinach leaves
  • stuffing (I made a stovetop version)
  • dried cranberries
We devoured the first one
Firmly pat down the mixture and be sure to leave about 1/2 inch all around the perimeter so it doesn't squeeze out when you roll it (lengthwise).  You absolutely need a second pair of hands to help; while you hold the breast, they can tie up the breast in several places with twine.  

I baked it at 325 degrees for just about an hour, or until the internal temp was 170 degrees.  It makes for a lovely presentation (Martha would be proud) on a platter of lettuce and pecans and sliced it looks beautiful.  Good enough to eat.

We also had sweet potato casserole, turkey gravy, asparagus, freshly baked bread, applesauce and grilled venison.    Can't wait for leftovers! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I've been so excited to share this with you, but I wanted to wait until we received some of the professional pictures back.  This is the last of the DIY projects from the wedding.  My daughter and I knew we wanted the wedding cake to reflect the autumn in Colorado theme, so she started collecting some pictures on her phone and on Pinterest of the cakes that she liked.  We met with Jeanette from King Soopers with our ideas sharing the pictures of frosting with mountains, trees and clouds sculpted into the frosting.  As we continued talking, Jeanette showed more and more interest, jumping right into the conversation, getting a feel for the vision we had right from the get go!  Did I tell you this was right after the scrumptious taste testing of four of their flavor combinations.  Yuuummmmmyy!!
When I described the idea of the birch tree pillars she started smiling from ear-to-ear and became more and more interested in the cake; she talked about gum paste.  What the heck is gum paste?

Anyway, if you've been following my blog, you know about the birch tree base for the cake to sit on that my husband and I made earlier in the year.  The frosting, greenery and pine cones, would pull the entire theme together and the pillars would be the Pièce de résistance.  Jeanette is a store manager, so she said that she doesn't do the baking/decorating any longer, but she would definitely oversee the process.

After our visit, I promptly went home and started watching some You Tube videos of gum paste cake creations (flowers, leaves, etc.) that you could make.  Hot Damn!  They made it look so easy.  So, I high tailed it up to my local Hobby Lobby and purchased a package of Wilton cake pillars, a tub of gum paste, a little rolling pin, some lollipop sticks (they would make some awesome branches right?) and brown cake dye.

That began my fearless afternoon adventure.  It was fun.  I have a number of Aspen trees (birch family) in my backyard that I could turn to for live inspiration.  Heck, I was good to go!  The first step was to sweet talk my husband into drilling two-three holes into each pillar.
Once that was done, I began whittling the lollipop sticks (you heard me, whittling).  I wanted them to be different circumferences and have layers peeled back to simulate the bark peeling on a tree limb.  I used an exacto knife to get the proper effect. 

As I trimmed it, the stick obviously became more pliable, so I was also able to bend it a bit better.  After the whittling, I hot glued them into the drilled holes.
From there, I rolled out the gum paste.  It has the consistency of cookie dough, but is a bit more pliable.  I then sculpted it around the pillars and sticks, working it like you would clay.   

For the smaller branches, I used some white floral wire.  Then came the brown cake dye, I actually painted it and smudged it to get the look of the dark patches you see on birch trees.

I dropped by King Soopers to show Jeanette the following weekend, and she was impressed.  My daughter and I knew she had to be the one to help us with our cake creation; she knew exactly what we wanted.  Ssssooo, I shamelessly begged her to be our baker and she agreed.  She was actually really excited, being a creative soul herself.  

So, our funny wedding story (everyone has one right?), well, it's funny now...not at the time.  When we arrived the venue was without power and had been for about two hours.  What??!!!!!  So, there was poor Jeanette hand carrying the cake down the pitch black staircase (no elevator, no light) layer by layer and putting the cake together by candlelight.  Bless her heart! 

Fortunately, about 30 minutes before the guests started arriving, the power came back on.  Whew! Thank you Jeanette, for bringing our vision to life.  It was exactly how we hoped it would look......and the cake itself?  Delicious.  Chocolate cake, butter cream frosting (the kind that makes your teeth hurt) and raspberry mousse filling.  So moist and fresh, it was delectable!
The beautiful cake topper is handcrafted by artist, Gina Freehill and has a verse running down the length of the bride's gown which reads: This day I will marry my friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I am so excited to have my own office again!  I haven't had a door at work since 2006; since that time I've had the standard workspace cubicle with partial walls and absolutely no privacy.   That made it particularly tough dealing with sensitive issues as I have been.     So, I've been working on making this space my very own little-by-little.

There are several spreadsheets/reports that I reference over and over again that I wanted close at hand, but I've never been a fan of bulletin boards.  I think they end up looking really sloppy in no time and they take up so much wall space.   So I had this idea about a magnet strip or a cork strip to do the trick.  Here I thought I was being totally inventive, but after looking on the internet it turns out someone beat me to the idea.....there are all sorts of bulletin board and magnetic strips out there.   I'll be dipped though if I'm going to pay over $50 (that doesn't include the shipping and handling), for a 48" strip.  Really?

So, here's my very own DIY Bulletin Board strips; a total of 54".......for just under $8.  Ya baby!
So, I took a run over to Lowe's and found myself a 6 ft. faux wood molding strip and a package of 4 squares of cork.  I had my husband cut me two 27" strips of the moulding and I went to town completing the rest of the project.   The whole thing took me less than an hour. I cut the cork into strips with an exacto knife, hot glued them to the moulding and then I decided to add a couple of clothespins at each end, just for fun.  Then, since I had a couple of scraps of cork leftover from the single square that I used.  I cut them into squares and used them as decoration between the two strips.  So there you have it!
 Now I have those items that I reference on a regular basis nearby, but I will still have plenty of room for pictures or shelves or both.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Adding some personal touches to create a one-of-a-kind gift can be really fun.  Start by being frugal and stop in to your local Dollar Tree to pick up some basic glass candle holders.   Then, let your imagination and creativity be your guide as you decorate the holder and add just the right complimentary touches with the "filler", candle and trim to complete the package.   If you've been following my blog you'll know that I have many of these glass candle holders from my daughter's wedding.  So, I plan to capitalize on the supply I have and make some gifts.  I also plan to use a couple as a "thank you" to the florist and baker who did such an awesome job at the wedding!

I'm always watching for sales or using coupons to Hobby LobbyMichael's or JoAnn Fabrics  to keep the cost reasonable for the candles and other trim work.  At one point I was making my own candles, but I got tired of the clean up.  But.....I may have to pull my supplies back out. 
 I have fun deciding which fillers to use; here are some that I've played around with so far:
  • Rice and Beans                
  • Sand
  • Miniature shells
  • Silk Flowers
  • Stones
  • Split Peas
  •  Marbles

In addition to making gifts that compliment someone's home decor, you can have a blast with different themes.  I started playing around with Fall and Christmas candle holders.  I just couldn't muster the energy to dig through my holiday decoration bins for the fake snow to use as a filler, but as soon as I pull it out, I'm going swap out the sand.  Have Fun....I sure did!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


This one I kept as a surprise from my daughter.    I wanted a little something special at their "sweetheart table" at the reception.   So I made these signs for them. 
I found these whimsical wooden letters at Hobby Lobby and stained them an oak color.   You'll also need scrapbook paper you like, whatever trim you want to use and two 5x7 acrylic frames with the built in easel stands.
I used  two different papers; gluing the larger one to the acrylic frame using spray adhesive; then I cut a second piece (which had some flocking and sequins on it) slightly smaller.  I trimmed the smaller piece with a satin ribbon trim to form it's own matted frame look.  Then, I glued the letters on with the hot glue gun.  I added adhesive rhinestones to the top of the letters, and a velvet ribbon and some silk flower to the upper left corner.  

I toned down the embellishment on the "Mr" sign slightly.  I propped them at the front of their table, facing the guests. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


To minimize the suspense any further, here's what became of the chocolate bars.....
As a small gesture of our appreciation, I put together welcome baskets for the "out-of-town" guests and delivered them to their hotels the day before the wedding.  Many of our family came from quite a distance to be here, so I wanted there to be something waiting for them after a day on the road or a long flight.   Along with the chocolate bar, I included a variety of crackers, cookies, nuts, fruit and drinks. 
I bought the plastic tubs at the dollar store since I expected many of the guests wouldn't be able to take the container home with them because they were flying.  This way it served its purpose, but it wasn't costly for me and they wouldn't feel bad leaving it behind.

A plastic bag, tulle bow and a thank you card attached at the top gave it the final touch it needed.