Friday, October 31, 2008

Kindergarten Superheroes!

Submitted by: Linda
I couldn't resist sharing my pictures from Halloween in Kindergarten! My teammates and I decided to be "Kindergarten Superheroes" and we had so much fun!!! I loved wearing my sparkly pink cape all day, and the kids thought it was cool to see their teachers dressed up!

In the picture below, notice a few of my cute kindergarten friends. One especially creative costume is Jacob in his trash truck!

Thank You, Danielle

Submitted by: Linda
Happy Halloween!
I wanted you all to see this darling treat given to me by my friend Danielle and her family. Danielle was one of my kindergarten students (3 years ago) and I also had the privilege of teaching her brother Bradan. They are both such neat kids, I was so sad when they moved on to first grade! Their mom Jodi has a "forever" spot in my front row. She is so positive, and is always a giver. She is part of our monthly Stamp Club, so Michelle also gets the benefit of knowing her.

So....back to the treat. It is a Starbuck's drink bottle, decorated for Halloween and filled with goodies. Nothing says love and friendship like a cute treat like this one!

Also pictured are some Starbuck's bottles I made a few years past, for my boys' high school teachers. The two pastel bottles were made from Stampin' Up supplies, the other was made using Claremont High School papers and colors. They can be decorated for any season, holiday or event. Click on the pictures to see the bottles in better detail.

Hope you had a "spook"tacular Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rice Krispy Treat Upgrade

Submitted by: Linda

Hello again! Just so we're all clear.... Michelle is the true foodie/chef/gourmet. We have joked about being the next cooking network stars (Michelle being the true chef and me being the goofy sidekick who makes silly mistakes in the kitchen). Let me say that she has really upgraded my kitchen and my cooking. Each time she comes into town, she makes something nice for my family to eat, and I am learning along the way to branch out beyond tacos and bbq. Also, she's helped me acquire some nice simple tools for my kitchen, which really make cooking easier.

All that to say, I'm a big fan of the UPGRADE. For example, I rarely serve a meal without a tablecloth, even if we're on the patio using paper plates. The above picture is a simple upgrade of the ever-popular Rice Krispy Treat. My boys have never been a fan of birthday cake, so often for their birthdays, we would do this Rice Krispy Treat Cake. Basically, you put your cereal/butter/marshmallow mixture in a greased bundt pan instead of a 9 x 13. Then you slice it like a cake. The one pictured above has sprinkles on it - and it also looks very cute with candles stuck in.

Every time I serve this at a gathering, people are so impressed with the presentation it makes. It also helps having a really cute cake plate (This one is by Vera Bradley-- I carried it on a plane home from Chicago after visiting my front row friend Heidi).

One more side note: When I make Rice Krispy Treats, I use a whole cube of butter, a whole bag of mini marshmallows, and the whole box of Rice Krispies. This means no measuring, and all that butter keeps them soft and delicious for several days.

Sugar Cookies

Submitted by: Michelle

My friend Valarie (and former student from my high school teaching days!) loves my sugar cookies. She recently asked for the recipe and I thought I'd share it with everyone. I originally came by the recipe years ago when I was spending Christmas in Utica, New York with my relatives. As my cousin Kathy (another person I proudly have in my front row) made the cookies I wrote down the ingredients and the procedure. Keep in mind, Kathy was in high school at the time and I was in my early years of college, so the directions are quite simplistic.

Kathy's Sugar Cookies
1 c butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
5 c flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.
Add eggs, oil, salt and vanilla and mix well.
Sift together flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.
Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, 1 cup at a time.

To Bake:
Roll dough into a ball.
Roll ball in granulated sugar.
Roll out flat with a rolling pin.
Cut cookies and bake 10 min. at 350 degrees until lightly brown.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Limiting the Food Chain

Submitted by: Michelle

Mario Batali, one of my favorite celebrity chefs, says "the most important step you will take in the creation of any meal is the first one, shopping. With the best products, it is much easier to prepare a perfect meal. With adequate products, it is easy to produce an adequate meal...if you know the person who picked your salad greens, or apples or herbs, or cut your meat, or caught your fish, you will have a meal that is significantly better than if you do not. Limiting the number of people in your own personal food chain is a way of maximizing and guaranteeing the quality of the products that find their way to your table. "

This past summer I found a way to limit the number of people in my food chain. I joined the Inland Empire Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

My friend Jennifer (a.k.a. Cubby) inspired me. She is a front row friend that I've know since college and a fellow gourmand. She loves food and cooking and eating as much as me and despite her living in Minnesota now, we still get together whenever she visits her family in California. During her summer visit we went to Mario Batali's restaurant in L.A., Mozza. While we dined on wood fired pizza and fried squash blossoms she told me about a CSA she had joined in Minnesota.

I was inspired to join a CSA of my own and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were 2 organic farms relatively near by that I could buy a "share" in. Now, every week, I pick up a box of freshly picked, organic produce at our local health food store. It is a great feeling knowing exactly where my food is coming from and supporting a local farm rather than a large grocery chain.

Being a member of the CSA has also saved me lots of money. Now, I plan my meals around what comes in my box each week and anything that I have a surplus of or do not like, I share with friends.

I like to think Mario would be proud of me...if he actually knew me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy 16th Birthday Nick!

Submitted by: Linda

We went to Chili's to celebrate Nick's birthday. Nick makes our family laugh with all of his crazy voices, but in this picture he's tickling his dad (my husband, Craig). Love this pic!

Wall O' Embellishments

Submitted by Linda: of the best ideas I've ever had is pictured above. In the past, I stored brads, buttons, paperclips, charms and other embellishments for cards in tubs. Of course, I couldn't find what I needed, and never knew what I had. My inspiration came from a magnetic spice rack which had 6 cute round jars that attached magnetically to a strip. So fast forward to IKEA where I found this white magnetic board (for about $10), then gathered my roll of magnetic tape and all my embellishments.

Now I can see everything that I have, and it is easily accessible. I'm lucky to have a craft room, but if you don't have a room, I think this would work well in the back of a closet or mounted on the inside of a large cabinet.

One more tip: The magnetic strip did not stick (neither did super glue, gorilla glue, Duco glue... etc.) The adhesive that finally worked was "crystal effects" (which is a product sold by Stampin Up to make things look glossy).

Now I just need to market it to all the crafters out there, before someone else does!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What I'm Working on Tonight: Part Deux

Click on the photo to see the boxes up close.

Submitted by: Michelle

Tomorrow night is my La Quinta stamp club and as usual, I've waited until the day before to figure out what we're going to make. Actually, that's not totally true. I've been thinking about making these boxes for quite some time. I just waited until tonight to make them. While some might call it procrastination, I prefer to think of it as mental grazing.

I really dig making boxes, bags and other crafty things out of DSP (designer series paper). I've also been nutty about embossing lately so all the tags are the product of white or gold embossing powder.

While my front row friend Linda is a creator when it comes to crafting, I am definitely a copier. All box designs are the product of Linda Hansen at Stampin' Up!

All materials from Stampin' Up!: Tall bag- Holiday Treasures DSP, Kiwi Kiss/Very Vanilla satin ribbon, silver cord, Little Felt Flurries, Circle Fire rhinestone brad; Square Box - Ski Slope DSP, Old Olive grosgrain ribbon, Whisper White cardstock, Old Olive cardstock, Real Red cardstock, Seasonal sayings rub-ons, white embossing powder, So Many Scallops stamp set, Scallop punch and circle punches (1 3/8", 1 1/4"); Triangle Box - Holiday Treasures DSP, Old Olive grosgrain ribbon, gold cord, Old Olive cardstock, Riding Hood Red cardstock, white embossing powder, tag punches, Perfect Presentation stamp set; Rectangle Box - Holiday Treasures DSP, Old Olive grosgrain ribbon, gold cord, Old Olive cardstock, Very Vanilla cardstock, gold embossing powder, square scallop punch, corner rounder punch, Punches Three stamp set.

To order any of the above materials, click here.

Linda's Christmas Tip #1

Hello all! I know it may be a bit early to think about Christmas (even thought the stores are already hauling out the holly)! Here's an idea that may be helpful to you. I buy only solid colored gift wrap. Here's why: this way, I can use the paper all throughout the year, and during the holidays I can use all the beautiful patterned Christmas ribbon without trying to make it match a patterned gift wrap. The two gifts pictured were gifts I gave yesterday, so they don't look too 'Christmasy', even though the gift wrap is really "holiday" wrap. Last year, I found inexpensive solid colored gift wrap at Tuesday Morning, and the fun patterned Christmas ribbon is already on sale at Michael's.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What I'm Working On Tonight

Submitted by: Michelle

I'm always full of energy after hanging out with Linda. She's the kind of friend who is so positive and upbeat that it rubs off and keeps me going for days (and that's why she's in the front row!) Despite being on the go in Claremont all weekend and driving home today, I still had the energy to do a little stamping tonight. A friend called this afternoon asking if I had a sympathy card and that lead to tonight's inspiration.* Of course, I can't make just 1 of anything so I made 8.

All materials from Stampin' Up! Stamps: Pocket Silhouettes, Warmest Regards. Cardstock: Whisper White, Night of Navy, Kiwi Kiss, Urban Garden DSP. Ink: Night of Navy, Versamark. Ribbon: Old Olive Twill Tape Technique: Embossing

Have to have it? Click here to buy Stampin' Up! products via my website.

*Clarification: My friend who called inspired me to work on a sympathy card however, I found the design for the card at Splitcoaststampers. I tweaked it a bit, but the original idea is not mine.

Homecoming Dance 10/25/08

Submitted by Linda:

Here are photos of my oldest son Tommy and his friend Emily going to the Claremont High Homecoming Dance. Michelle (Auntie Shelsky to Tommy) was in town, so she even made it into the pictures. Here's a fun bonus nugget of info: Emily's parents were both in my wedding - so it's so fun that our kids are hanging out together. Enjoy the pictures!!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What Are Front Row Friends?

We were at a women's event at church when we heard a talk about "Front Row Friends". Here's the premise. Visualize your life as a stage, and the audience is full of your friends, family, acquaintances. Who do you want in your front row? Your front row should be reserved for people in your life who support you, encourage you, tell you the truth in love, and cheer you on. These are the folks who know your strengths and weaknesses, and still love you!

Many times, the wrong people may be in your front row (people who aren't supportive) and the right people/friendships may need to be given more time and energy. This idea really resonated with us. We've been friends for a long time, and discovered that we are definitely in each other's front row.

We love this concept, and like the idea of women developing healthy friendships. We decided to create a blog to celebrate our "front row friendship" and hopefully encourage others to develop a strong "front row" also. We also hope to include fun stamping, crafting, cooking inspirations, as well as random fun things. Linda will be blogging in from Claremont, CA and Michelle will be submitting her posts from La Quinta, CA.

We have to give credit to Debbie Williamson of Baseline Community Church for the "Front Row Friends" talk. The above pictures are Linda and Michelle at the tea (May 2008), and Linda's Grandma's wedding china. Notice the cute stamped party favor on the plate- it has a Ghiradelli chocolate inside.