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Wednesday, December 25, 2013


I've been known to have a really hard time not giving gifts before the special date.  I can get so excited over something that I can't wait until the actual Birthday, Anniversary, even I end up giving the gift early! This project was one of those....but I forced myself to hold off and wait.   I came up with this idea as I was making the photo coasters.  I wondered, what else can I make that would utilize ceramic tiles?, and that was when the idea of a trivet came to life.  I knew this would be a fun gift for my daughter and her husband. In addition to individual gifts, I like to give gifts that they both can enjoy at Christmas time....usually, they're related to the house.

I already had a 10" square ceramic tile that had been sitting under the bathroom vanity ever since we moved into our house 18 years ago.  It was one of three leftover tiles the builder left us when they constructed our fireplace.  I knew it would work well as the base for the trivet.  From there I worked on my computer to come up with the design for the top.   My son-in-law's family is from France, and he has a particular affection for the Eiffel Tower, so I decided to build off of that idea.

I found a great water color image of the Eiffel Tower, added the word "Paris" in a coordinating color and then added a bunch of french cooking/baking/food related words in various fonts to the layout.  I printed the design on a linen type paper since I wanted some texture....this particular paper also tore well, which is exactly the look I wanted for the edges.

To finish the top, I used Mod Podge, of course.  This time, I went with the hard coat variety since I knew I wanted the trivet to have a more durable finish to it.   Finally, I cut some cork and glued it onto the underside to give it a finished look and protect countertops/tables from scratching when it was used.
So there she fun is that?  I can even see displaying this on a wall or setting it on an easel when it's not in use versus just shoving it into a kitchen drawer or cupboard shelf.    Now you can see why I was so tickled to give it!  I love the way it turned out and designing a one-of-a-kind piece that I knew would be appreciated makes it really special.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


This particular recipe has become a favorite Christmas cookie.  It made its debut in my household in 2012 and became an instant hit!  I featured it in a Christmas Cookie blog last December along with another scrumptious cookie.  I shared the Peanut Butter and Chocolate cookie cup recipe last year, but only shared a picture of these delectable edibles.  I just finished making this year's batch today, so before I let too much time slip by, here's the recipe.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries (I use kitchen shears to cut them into pieces)
  • 1 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (chopped)
Mix butter, sugar and almond extract thoroughly with an electric mixer.  Gradually blend in flour and cornstarch.  Add cherries and chocolate.  

Form 1" balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Dip bottom of glass in sugar and press down on each cookie to flatten.

Bake at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the bottoms begin to brown.  For the drizzle, melt in the microwave 2 oz. chocolate and approximately 1 tsp. shortening in a resealable freezer bag.  Snip off a corner of the bottom of the bag and drizzle chocolate over the cooled cookies. 

Thanks to for sharing this yummy cookie recipe!

You really want to give these a try....and if you hurry, you may still have enough time to whip a batch up for this holiday season.


Monday, December 9, 2013


I think it's fun to make gift baskets for out-of-towners highlighting unique Colorado products.  I've done this in the past, and got some really great feedback, so I decided to do it again this year for a very special someone we know in Indiana.
I made a whole list of authentic Colorado collectibles, including food and beverage items. Then, I whittled it down to what would make sense considering I would need to ship the basket to Indiana.   I decided to include some personal goodies from "yours truly" (hey, I qualify as a Colorado artist!), and other items that I thought our friend would really like.

Of course, I needed a basket.  You guessed it....I headed over to the thrift store for a perfectly good basket that I could spray paint to give it some holiday cheer.    Even better--the basket I found was in great shape and already had a gold glitter finish...the really fun thing was I saw this exact same basket at Michael's for $16.99 and got it at the thrift store for $1.99!

Here's what I decided to include in the basket:

  * Celestial Seasonings Tea 
  * Honey (made by the Ambrosia Company on the western slope)
* 2014 Colorado Calendar
*Hammond's Candy (Colorado based simce 1920)
*Peppermint biscotti (handmade by me)
*Colorado photo coasters (handmade by me)

So whether you're from Colorado or somewhere else, be proud to share gifts that represent your home state.  It lets you "show off" your State and the                          out-of-towners will get a kick out of it!

I think this may become an annual tradition for our Indiana friend, so I'm glad I started a list ....I'll be able to refer back to it when putting together next year's basket.  I want to be sure to send items that I haven't already sent to her and keep her basket fresh and exciting for years to come!

Happy Holidays and Happy Gift Giving!

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I've been having fun getting to know my Silhouette cameo machine and the HUGE range of possibilities it provides.  Some of the software is pretty intuitive, other parts a bit odd and it will definitely take some practice to master this baby.    I chose to start with some easy projects to keep the frustration level to a minimum.  It's been a little bit like when I learned to sew....I didn't start out with a fully lined jacket, but instead it was a simple elastic waist a-line skirt.  Baby steps....
The gift certificate holder starts with a piece of white cardstock folded in half and glued on the two sides.   I used the silhouette to cut a reindeer out of some pretty Christmas paper; the contrasting piece of Christmas paper that I used for the border I just cut with some scissors; finally, the Merry Christmas sign was printed on my printer and then fed through the Silhouette to cut it into the shape I selected.   I added a few scribbles of silver glitter paint and a red plastic bow for added fun.
In order to reach in and pull out the certificate easily, I used my pinking shears to cut a semi-circle at the top of the certificate.

For the gift card holders I tried a couple of things..... the first one was my design....I chose a fun border/frame and then began writing Christmas related words within the shape in different font styles and sizes; my version of subway art!   I printed it on a pretty paper and then cut it on the Silhouette.  I felt like it needed a little something more so I used some green glitter paint to trim around the edge.
For the second design, I chose to use a basic gift card template from Lemon Jitters (I met this little gal at a blogger seminar).  I downloaded the template and cut the shape from some fun Christmas paper to give it some extra holiday cheer.  Then, I found a snowflake shape on the silhouette website and downloaded it to my library.  I found a beautiful white glitter paper that I cut them from.

 I am absolutely floored by the intricate cutting this machine can do.   I added a rhinestone to the center for a little something extra and look at that --- awesomeness!
There are so many possibilities--keep it really basic, or decorate them with snowflakes, rhinestones, sequins, or other fun!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I've been wanting to try my hand at these ever since I ran across the first blog post about how to make them. Since then you'll find all sorts of blogs on this topic....I'd like to thank everyone for the information and tutorials they so willingly shared!    I was able to make my own without too much trouble thanks to your tips and tricks.

So, unlike some of my other projects, I get very few points for creativity on this one.  I'll take a point for using my very own photos of Colorado landscape, flowers and scenery that I've taken over the years, but the rest is all from the creative minds of others.

The trick on the photos was determining which would look well cropped on a 4" square tile.  Since reprints are so very inexpensive, I printed about 10-12 photos for the set of four that I wanted to make so that I could actually handle them and decide which looked best at that size.  It also gave me wiggle room in case of the "oops" factor that tends to be a natural part of new projects, right?

I won't bore you with the step-by-step instructions since they are so easy to find online, just know it is a quick and inexpensive project and makes a great gift (that's what I'm doing with the set that I made). I was amazed that the Mod Podge didn't ruin the photos.  Crazy!

The supplies are simply:  4" ceramic bath tiles (16¢ per tile at Lowe's), Mod Podge, cork squares (set of 4- $1.99 at Michael's),  photographs and clear acrylic sealer.

Don't they look nice!  If I didn't have plenty of coasters in my home, I would definitely make myself a set.
Instead, I'll continue to gift them.   I love how professional they look stacked and wrapped with a raffia bow!

These are part of a larger project; I'll be sharing that with you in the weeks ahead.  So stay tuned!

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Remember when I said I was looking for new Christmas cookie recipes that were other than chocolate?  Do you realize how few there are out there?  So look what I made?
If you are a regular reader, the lemon cookies are still in the running to become the new "rookie" for my 2013 Christmas cookie team!

These are called Chocolate Blooms (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens):


  • ½ cup shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • ¾ cup finely chopped almonds (optional)
  • Raspberry Ganache
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat until combined.  Beat in egg and vanilla; beat until combined.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and cocoa powder.  Beat as much of the flour mixture into the butter mixture as you can with a mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate pieces.  Shape dough into 1" balls; roll balls into chopped almonds.  Place 1½" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Press thumb into the center of each ball to make an indentation.
  3. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set.  Immediately use the rounded side of a ½ teaspoon measure to press down the center of each cookie.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.  Spoon raspberry ganache into center of each cookie.  Let stand for 1-2 hours.   
*These cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.  

  • 6 ounces chopped (70% cocoa) dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp. seedless raspberry jam (I added about 1/2 tsp. more)
The instructions said you could melt this in the microwave on 100% power for 1 minute.  Didn't work for me; so I opted to pour everything into a saucepan and over very low heat, I melted it that way until very smooth.  Let stand until thickened (about 15 minutes).  Spoon into the cookies.
My rating 7.5 out of decide. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Have I told you lately how much I love my serger.  No?  Well, I love my serger.  This project was super simple, but allowed me to produce some really professional looking Christmas napkins.  Using the 3-thread rolled hem feature, I was able to add a pretty finish around the edges.
 I am stoked.  I have been decorating my Christmas table with silver, white and cobalt blue for several years now....I just prefer it over the traditional greens/reds.   What I have wanted for years is cobalt blue cloth napkins, and I haven't had any luck...even online.  I've been using white napkins over the years; they look nice, but are definitely my second choice.
So, what I was able to do was find some pretty cobalt blue/silver Christmas fabric so that I could make my own.  Yay!!!!  I know I could have done the typical topstitched hem on my standard machine, but I prefer the rolled hem produced by a serger.

While I was at it....I decided to make some others in different Christmas fabrics as gifts this year.  It was hard to choose actually, there are so many festive fabrics out there.

  ....and of course, I couldn't stop there.....I went on to make some napkin rings too!  You can buy a package of eight unfinished wooden rings at Hobby Lobby (under $5) and let your creativity be your guide.

For the red set,  I chose to apply a base color with spray paint; but, I wonder if a sponge brush wouldn't have been a better option?   From there, I glued on some Christmas decorations to make them festive.

I finished the blue set by wrapping a variegated yarn around them; so easy, but so pretty!  I love that the yarn had variations of blues and silvers-just perfect for my table.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Designer bridal hangers have become very popular recently.  Thirty years ago when I got married, the gown was photographed on the bride, so nobody cared about the hanger.  Of course, I also wore a wedding hat--so, what did we really know back then!?   Lately, as I've been second shooting weddings with my daughter, we started chatting one day about taking all the detail shots before the ceremony.  It's a kick to spend time playing with the programs, garter, earrings, shoes, necklace, bouquets, wedding gown, etc.   As you know, today many photos are taken of the gown draped on the hanger; very trés chic!

Having a unique hanger can add a certain ambiance to the overall photo and definitely helps to showcase the gown...and you know my love of bridal a designer and seamstress, we definitely have to make sure that the gown is given "its day" and the details are captured!

The hangers with the bride's new surname written in wire (Mrs. Bradshaw) are really cute and popular these days.  There are a couple of really good You Tube videos out there if you want to learn how to make one of those, or there are many great shops online where you can purchase them.  I decided to try a few different ideas that I had rolling around in my head.
The first thing I did was to take a trip to the thrift store on Saturday (50% off day!).  I knew I was looking for wooden suit hangers; they're nice and sturdy and would accent my idea well.  I found one there in really great shape; can't beat .29¢.   I also picked up some of the whimsical letters that I've used before at Hobby Lobby. The rest of the supplies, I already had on hand.

For the first hanger I used the two-step crackle coat finish to give the
hanger and the letters an antique look. It's so easy; just follow the directions on each of the cans....the base coat is gold and the top coat is antique white. As the top coat begins to dry it cracks and the gold shows through.    I "blinged" the heart with a bit of glitter and also the top edge of the hanger....and then used the trusty glue gun to attach the letters to the wooden bar of the hanger.   To add a nice protective finish, I sponge brushed on a good coat of Mod Podge.
For the second one, I used a hanger I found in our coat closet and went with more of a natural wood look.  So, I stained the letters and then glued them onto the hanger.  I added some rhinestone embellishments to the letters and added a few pre-made burlap daisies, a silver heart charm and voilá!

For the third design, I chose to paint the hanger an off-white color.  For the letters I decided to glitter them with a combination of silver and gold glitter; I used a coat of Mod Podge as my base and then dipped them into the pool of glitter I had poured onto a paper plate.  After they had thoroughly dried, I added a Mod Podge finishing coat right on top of the glitter.                                                            
To finish this one I decided to use some pearls, rhinestones and ceramic roses near the top of the hanger; I lightly glittered the hanger, coated the entire hanger with Mod Podge and added a bow as the finishing touch.  I have a hard time deciding on a favorite, I like them all!

Maybe these ideas will inspire you to try some of your own ideas.   My daughter plans to have a couple of these on hand for the weddings she shoots to offer the bride just in case the hanger she has is the standard issue bridal shop version and she would like to use one of these instead.

After I posted a sneak peek on my Facebook page, I had a friend suggest these would make a great engagement or bridal shower gift.  Now that's a great idea!
They are now available on the SheaMarie Designs online shop.  I can make them just as you see them or I can customize them in anyway you would like.  I think they would also look really neat by adding a subtle touch of the bride's specific color palette to the mix by painting the heart, dotting the "i" or adding a bow in the accent color.  Hangers on the shop are made exclusively with brand new wooden hangers.