Monthly Archives: January 2013

More Valentines Inspired By…

Work has been particularly busy lately so my craft time is all the more precious to me.  I’m tired at the end of long work days and I’m not getting to crafting after work and having to fit it into a busy weekend.  I know – what else is new, eh?  My valentine supplies have been calling to me so it was nice to spend a few hours on Sunday making cards.

The one below was inspired by a card made by my friend Carson.

Carson Card

I had seen it (and pinned it) on Pinterest but you can see it here on her lovely blog Pine & Plum.  Pine & Plum may be familiar to readers who knew it as Blue Button Press before a recent makeover.  Take a look – it has “the plum paper goods you’ve been pining for”, with beautiful cards, lots of tutorials, links to great craft supplies and a shop in case you’d rather buy than DIY.

Carson is creative and uses scrumptious paper to create not only cards but banners, place cards, and other goodies for weddings and special events.  We used to craft (and work) together and though I miss her, I’m glad to have this link.  I love her original card and when I make another one I’ll be more careful about the size of the tag compared to the little banners behind it.

Here is another take on this card from Kristina of K Werner Design Blog.  My greeting was stamped a bit crookedly, but this is homemade, folks, not Hallmark! When I just went to her site I found another adorable card.  Stop by her blog and see what she’s up to.

Buttons w/ Punched Heart

Here is a card inspired by this Pinterest winner made by Christi of Christi’s Creative Crew.

Scattered Hearts

The x’s and o’s are embossed in gold which doesn’t really show in this photo.  It’s a pretty fast card using pretty paper and heart punches.  I cut a few hearts freehand to have more variety in the sizes.

I picked up some tiny clothespins at Paper Source and love how they look as embellishments.  The downside: they don’t do well in an envelope in the mail.  I was inspired by this card on Pinterest by Susan at Rainy Day Creations.  Wow – every blog I go to has more great cards!

Clothespinned Heart

Here are a few more cards I did with the little clothespins.  I also used the paper-strip-heart technique that you can find here.

XOX

3 Hearts on the Line

xoxo

Even without special greeting stamps, you can use an alphabet set to stamp x’s and o’s.

And even if you don’t have little clothespins, you can still do a sweet and simple card with a clothesline idea.  Punched hearts and a pen to sketch in the line – easy.  I saw this one on …where else? Pinterest, of course. It is from Silly’s Paper Design.  The site is in German but the photos are inspiration enough.

LIttle Heart Clothesline

Here are a few more of the valentines I’ll be giving this year.  I hope you find them inspiring!  It was very satisfying making some of the many beautiful cards I see and pin on Pinterest.

love & hugs tag

A shipping tag, washi tape banners, a bit of lace doily, a gold embossed greeting, a little heart-shaped button with some turquoise thread, Bakers twine and a butterfly sticker to finish it off.

Folded over Front

This card uses a piece of patterned paper folded with just a small piece to the front with a piece of heavy cream card stock tucked in to form the front of the card.  The original was stitched on a sewing machine, but I stapled mine on the left after using a little glue first to adhere the cream piece to the patterned piece.  A paper-strip-heart stuck on glue dots with a simple gold embossed greeting finished with Dianne dots – three small dots punched with a small hole-punch and glued as an accent using a glue pen and the card is done.

Embossed heart love

A simple pink card with a beautiful heart punched from pretty paper set on glue dots is set off with a silver embossed greeting and a small dry-embossed heart.

Key Tag

An ornate stamped key from Paper Source embossed in gold and silver on a heavy cream tag is below a little dry-embossed heart.  A little Baker’s Twine bow on the tag finishes this card.

I couldn’t resist this shopping bag I found in the check stand at Safeway.  Now I have something to carry my valentines in.

Valentine Shopping Bag

Thank you for the visit.

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Chocolate Nutella Fudge & Truffles

Chocolate's for Valentine's Day

I love chocolate.  And what is Valentine’s Day if not a reason for sharing and eating chocolate?  I also love all my reader’s, so I’m sharing this delicious recipe with you so you can make it and share it with your loved ones for Valentine’s Day.  Yes, yourself, friends, co-workers, and neighbors all qualify when it comes to sharing chocolate.

I saw the recipe here on Rachael Phillips self-named blog.  I made a batch at Christmas time but didn’t take any pictures.  I also had the idea of making it into little hearts or rolling it into balls for truffles and decided I would have to try them both to show you.  Both worked out, to a degree.

Fudge Hearts

Although I titled this post “Chocolate Nutella Fudge”, I’ve also made it with Cocoa Almond Spread from Trader Joe’s.  Both are very good but I think I prefer the Nutella version.  This is really creamy, delicious fudge.  It is on the soft side so needs some time in the fridge to set up.

Chocolate Nutella Fudge

Adapted from Rachael Phillips

Fudge Ingredients

Note: The recipe for the truffles is the same as for the fudge – it just depends how you mold, cut, or scoop and roll the finished product. Truffle details follow.

Ingredients:

14 oz. container sweetened condensed milk

1 cup Nutella or Cocoa Almond Spread

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

5 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla (not pictured above because I forgot to get it out)

Optional for decorating fudge hearts:

Colored Sanding Sugar

Cocoa Powder

For Truffles:

grated zest of 1 orange (optional)

Cocoa Powder for coating

Directions:

I read several recipes, including the one on Rachael Phillips, that suggest using a double-boiler (or creating with a bowl over simmering water in a saucepan) for this recipe.  You can do that.   I’ve had good luck using my microwave when melting chocolate.  If you use the microwave, use in short bursts of time and check it frequently.

Either way, you need to combine the ingredients and heat them gently until the chocolate chips are melted and the whole mixture is combined into a smooth, velvety bowl of chocolatey wonderfulness.

For the microwave version, I use a large microwave-safe bowl and dump in all the ingredients.  I meant to add the vanilla at the end but forgot and put it in with everything else. I cut the butter into chunks.

Heat on 50% power for 1 minute than stir.  At first it’s kind of a mess:

Melty Mess

The butter is partially melted, the chocolate is getting soft but isn’t really ready.  Give it a stir and then back into the microwave for another minute on 50% power.  Your microwave is very likely different than mine.  After 2 minutes at 50% power, reduce your cooking times to no more than 30 seconds at 5o% power before checking it and stirring it.

This is starting to look better:

Still Grainy

But when you lift the spoon, you can see it’s still got un-melted bits of chocolate and it looks kind of gritty.

Spoon of Melty Chocolate

But a little more time and a few good stirs and it comes together into this smooth mixture.

So Lovely Stirring Chocolate

If you want to make a traditional pan of fudge, butter an 8×8 inch dish and line it with parchment paper with enough extra paper to come over the sides.  This will help you remove the fudge from the pan once it has set.

However, you can really step it up and mold the fudge.  You may recall last year when I made crayon hearts in silicone ice cubed trays from IKEA.  I pictured creating creamy chocolate fudge hearts but I could NOT find the molds.  I cleaned up my craft supplies last spring but didn’t recall surplussing the molds.  Rem and I went to IKEA but sadly, they didn’t have any of the heart shaped ice cube trays in stock.

But then good news/bad news!  Good news: Rem found the molds in a cupboard!  They still had melted crayon in them and I wasn’t sure about using them for food.  I figured kids eat crayons so if I cleaned them really well it would probably be ok.  I thought a few seconds in the warm oven would soften the crayon and then I could wipe off most of the melted crayon before giving them a good scrub.  I put them in the oven for just a few moments…and promptly forgot about them.  Bad news: Dianne melted the molds.  Please don’t do this at home!

Riuned, Melted Molds in Sink

But I was able to find NEW heart-shaped silicone molds online on eBay from eHappyHome, and I also had a food-grade mold from Chase Creative Molds (designed for soap) so I was ready for making some fancy fudge.

Bird Mold

The bird mold came out beautifully but the little hearts tended to stick.  Next time I would use nonstick spray before putting the fudge in the molds.

Fill the mold by spooning the fudge into the mold and leveling it off with the flat back edge of a butter knife.

Full of Chocolate Fudge

Messy Molds

Filled Fudge Hearts

Chill the fudge.  If you have the time and patience, chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight before cutting or unmolding.  Or put in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes and carefully unmold.  I’ve read that tapping the filled mold will help pop any bubbles.  I didn’t try that and don’t know how well it would work.  There were some air bubbles but I was still very happy with how beautiful the oval molded fudge with the bird design turned out.

Beautiful Chocolate Bird

The hearts were a little trickier.  When I twisted and flexed the trays the little hearts tended to stick at the very bottom, which when unmolded is the top of the heart.  Again, some nonstick spray would probably have helped here.  I was able to reshape the hearts with a small off-set spatula but I decided a little cocoa powder or sanding sugar would give them a little cosmetic assistance.

Four Sparkling Fudge Hearts

The less you handle the shapes, the better.  I dipped the side of some hearts in pink sanding sugar and the tops of others.  Some I showered with a sifting of cocoa powder.

happy valetine's day

They’re not perfect.  They’ve got character.  And no matter how lumpy looking they are, they taste as silky and densely chocolate as the original fudge.

After filling the molds, I still had fudge mixture in the bowl to use.  It was about to become truffles!

Grating Orange Zest

I used my microplane zester and grated the zest from one orange into the fudge and stirred it in. I poured the fudge into an oval glass dish.

Pouring Fudge

I chilled it in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Than, using a melon baller, I scooped up balls of fudge.  A spoon would work too.

Scooping Truffles

You can decide what size you want your truffles to be.  Mine were about the size of a walnut.

Sifted Cocoa Powder

Roll the ball between your palms and drop it into a shallow dish of sifted cocoa powder and move it around.

Truffle in Cocoa

Cocoa Coated Truffle

Pop the truffle into a little pleated paper cup and it’s dressed and ready for Valentine’s Day.

Pretty Truffles

Keep the fudge, fudge hearts or truffles chilled.  If you can keep from consuming it, it lasts quite well if kept in the refrigerator in a sealed tin or plastic tub.

Lots o' Choco

Thank you for coming by and reading my blog.  As always, I encourage and appreciate your comments.

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Filed under Cooking

Valentine Recipe’s

Here are a few recipes from past posts that would be lovely for Valentine’s Day.

Icebox Cupcakes

Icebox Cupcakes: stack chocolate wafer cookies with whipped cream, garnish with raspberries and mint leaves, chill, serve.

Mocha Guinness Cupcakes

These are more involved, but the results are worth it.  Mocha Guinness Cupcakes combine a moist chocolate cupcake from batter that includes cocoa powder and Guinness, filled with semi-sweet chocolate ganache and topped with coffee buttercream.  Swoon.

Muffin Cup Quiche

Breakfast in bed is an idea and these Muffin Cup Quiche can be made ahead and reheated. They’re also nice for supper with a salad.

Buttermilk Heart Pancakes

This pretty Buttermilk Lace Pancake is just made for Valentine’s Day.  Delicious buttermilk batter is swirled into the pan from a squeeze bottle.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Two Years of Blog Posts!

Hello, Readers!  I had it in my head that my blog anniversary was tomorrow, the 17th.  I thought I was really on top of it to start a post this evening,write a draft and then proof it and post it tomorrow. But TODAY, January 16, 2013 is the big day.

As it happens, WordPress.com sent me a lovely annual report on January 1st for my blog (apparently they use helper monkeys – I wonder if the helper monkeys would like to come to work with me tomorrow and help there!) so I’m gonna cop-out and use their report for the base of this post.

They have some wonderful nuggets of useless information, like the following:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 53,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 12 Film Festivals.

Cool, huh?  All of YOUR views to my blog posts,  if each were a film, would power 12 film Festivals.  Wow!

I want to say more, but I’m worn out.  It’s been a hectic time at work, I’m still not over my cold and I need to sleep.  Thank you for your support and comments. I’m so delighted to have readers from 148 countries see my blog.

Click here to see the complete report.

If you comment, please include where you are from: if in the US, include your state, if out of the US, your country.

Thanks for stopping by and here’s to another year of blogging!

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Filed under Cooking, Crafts, Life

Valentines Inspired By…

hugs & kisses

The other day I followed a link on a friend’s Facebook page and found A Bit East-Coast, a blog by Keisha Campbell.  She had posted about having the flu and starting to make valentines.  As I’m still struggling with a bad cold and starting to make my valentines, I felt a kinship.

Actually, it was the cards that got me first.  Her photography is lovely and I was really inspired by her color scheme (grey, pink, & red with gold & silver accents) and love her designs.  I immediately started looking through my paper for grey and pink but decided I didn’t want to use red so found some turquoise and a little brown, with pink and grey as my primary colors.  I LOVE how these colors look together and like how the grey keeps the pink from looking too sweet.

Pretty Paper

I also pulled out my embossing powder because the sentiments embossed in gold looked so stunning on Keisha’s cards.  Instead of my usual card stock I found a pad of Strathmore heavy weight water color paper tucked beside my desk and collected some other embellishments and tools.  I cut the cards from the water color paper and I’m really pleased with how the heavy, textured, white paper works as a base for many of these cards.

Valentine Supplies

So: first inspiration: Keisha Campbell of A Bit East-Coast.

Grey, pink & aqua

I thought of Pinterest and decided to look through things I’d pinned.  I don’t often make the jump from pinning to actually making the things I’ve pinned.  But I loved how the first card turned out and liked getting away from my usual methods, so off to Pinterest I went.

This cute card by Kristina Werner (her blog is K Werner Design Blog) inspired this valentine.  I didn’t have the computer at my crafting desk so when I looked back at the picture I see how she raised the top layer with the heart cut-out, so I’ll try that when I make another one of these cards.

xxoo

On my first go-round I punched my heart through both the top layer and the card front and then realized I only needed to have the heart punched out of the top layer!  Doh.  Oh, well.  I made it work.

This beautiful scalloped card on Pinterest linked me to Flickr and cheironbrandon’s Photostream.  The card uses lots of different paper and a circle punch with all the little circles layered like shingles or fish scales.  She has lots of other great cards pictured on her Flickr site.  I put on the bottom row and trimmed around the edge of the circles but decided on the next card I’ll try putting the circles down off the bottom edge – seems easier than trimming around them.

Scalloped Love

Another idea from my pins on Pinterest is this dry embossed little heart.  I followed the link and read the great tutorial by Arrounna at Bookhou at Home.
I followed her excellent directions but punched the heart with a small punch rather than cutting it with a craft knife.  I recycled a piece of a cereal box, punched out the heart than used my bone folder to dry emboss the heart onto the card. Check out her tutorial, her site and her shop.

Collage Tag with Embossed Heart

I love how all the white space with the one little heart balances the busy collage tag.  I wrote about the tags here.

Here is my little template for making the dry embossed heart.

Little Heart Template

Hold the template and your card up to a lamp or window to get the heart aligned where you want it.

Let the Light Shine

Here is the resulting heart close up.

Raised Heart

Further inspiration was right at home.  Rem and I have a folding screen that I use to display cards we’ve received (or given each other).  It had been collecting cards (and quite a thick layer of dust) for some time. Dusting it and winnowing down the collection, I saw one of my favorite valentines came from my friend and fellow crafter, Jean.  The screen looks much better now, and we have room for new cards.

Folding Screen w/Cards

Here is the card I made (on the left) inspired by Jean’s valentine.  I love all the details her original has: the tiny circle tag with silver border hanging on the thread, the little red safety pin and the scrap of paper it’s pinned to.  I used a few staples, some washi tape, and added Dianne Dots as an embellishment.  I didn’t have the large heart stamp, so I copied the swooping design freehand.  I’m delighted with the results.

Copycat Card

One last inspiration for this post, but this didn’t result in a card.  Instead it was a little tip that I love and have been using since.  I recently crafted with my sister Kathleen and her friend Michelle.  Michelle creates beautiful Art Journals (more on that in a future post) and she showed me something that seems to obvious and you all probably are doing it and I’m the last to know.  She uses an open magazine to work on.  As soon as her work surface gets wet or sticky with paint or glue, she simply turns to a fresh page!

Glue on Page

Like this…

Inky, Messy Page

I’m constantly sticking part of my project upside down into some adhesive and this way I just turn the page and I have a clean surface to work on.  A friend passes the New Yorker on to me and I like how the slim magazine lies open (of course I read them first).  Inspirational!

I have more Pinterest ideas to try, like this and this and this too, and a month to go before Valentine’s Day is here.

Embellishments

I hope you have found this inspiring.  Thanks for stopping by.

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Filed under Crafts

13 Valentine Craft Ideas

LoVe Stamps

For 2013, here are 13 valentine card and craft ideas from past posts. I also have new projects in the works, so stay tuned.

Fluttering Hearts Valentine Card. Double layered hearts adds dimension to this valentine.

Fluttering Hearts

Heart Strings. I love how these move in the slightest breeze. I used vintage sheet music to make them.

Heart Strings

Crayon Hearts  – chunky and colorful, these hearts are a great way to use up old, broken crayons.

Crayon Hearts

Alphabet Valentine

I Heart U

Decoupage Map Heart in Art From The Heart II post.

You Mean the World to Me

Punched Heart Garland with Vintage Paper. One of my first Pinterest-inspired projects.

Punched Heart Garland

Doodle Heart Background – add a poem or quote of your choice, a sentimental message or simply “Be Mine”.  This is an easy project.

Doodle Heart Background

My very first valentine post, this Paper Strip Heart Valentine is still a favorite.

Paper Strip Heart Valentine

Itty Bitty Banners – these are a great embellishment for a card and would be adorable as a little pennant for a cupcake.

LIttle Banners

Warm, fuzzy Felted Heart Garland.

Felted Heart Garland

Masterboard Valentine’s Tags – this is a method for making multiple tags (or card fronts) in a short time.

Masterboard Valentine Tags

Itty Bitty Valentine’s – little cards with the same double-heart design as the Fluttering Hearts Valentine’s.

Itty Bitty Valentine's

Crayon Wax Paper Hearts – just like you made when you were a kid.  If you haven’t made these before, you should give them a try now.

Crayon Wax Paper Hearts

Happy Crafting!  Thanks for stopping by.

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Pie in Petaluma, 1/1/13

Petaluma's Choice

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Tuesday was bright and sunny.  Rem and I drove up to Petaluma for a stroll around, some window shopping and some lunch.

Colorful Garland

Some shops were closed for New Year’s Day but there was still plenty to see and enjoy.  Copperfield Books was one of our first stops.

Petaluma has lots of beautiful, old buildings with great architectural detail.

Architectural Details

Public Library

I chose sepia for the photo below because with modern cars cropped out, it looks like the photo could have been taken in an earlier era.

1870

A highlight to our visit was this little shop, the Petaluma Pie Company.

Petaluma Pie Company

The charming shop has both sweet and savory pie and uses organic and local ingredients in their pies.  They sell single serving hand pies, (5-inch turnovers), individual pies in small pie tins and full-sized pies.

Welcome

They had a variety of savory pies that were hot and ready to eat as well as many delicious looking sweet pies in different shapes, sizes and varieties.  We’ll have to return for more tasting.

Case of Pies

We split a Beef Empanada hand pie that was delicious: loaded with mildly spiced beef, onions, green olives and raisins.

Beef Empanada

They have t-shirts and mugs with this slogan:

Eat Pie Not Cake Mug

It’s time for PIE!

It's Pie Time!

A collection of old- fashioned egg beaters adorn one wall.

Egg Beaters

Sweet little birds crafted from mini pie tins flutter across another.

Pie Pan Birds

There were miniature pie-tin magnets made from bottle tops at the front counter.

Pie Company Magnets

More pie-themed art added to the charm of the shop.

Magpie

I’m already looking forward to a future visit.

Kitty Pie Print

After we ate, we wandered down to the Petaluma River.

Pedestrian Bridge

Rem greeted a sweet dog.

Hello, Big Dogie

It was a great outing.

Thanks for your visit.

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