Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crafty Valarie

Submitted by Michelle
Valarie, a.k.a. Val-Pal, came for an overnight visit this weekend and we had a stamping frenzy. Valarie worked on her Christmas cards for which she had at least 5 designs. I worked on miscellaneous projects that were crowding up my craft room and gave my opinion on Valarie's designs when she needed me to do so.

Valarie loves snowmen and though her actual Christmas card does not have a snowman on it, she couldn't resist pulling out her Snowbuddies stamp set and making a few cards with it. Her inspiration came from the Stampin' Up! Holiday Mini Catalog (page 5) but she changed the colors and added her own flair.
I often get stuck in my own rut of card design and I love seeing what other stampers come up with, particularly Valarie. And I love that the Stampin' Up! catalog and mini catalogs can be sources of inspiration and not just a book to order from.

I hope you all had a peaceful Thanksgiving and that you are enjoying the Holiday Season now that it is officially in full swing. And here's to handmade gifts and the people who take the time to create them.

All Supplies from Stampin' Up!
Snowbuddies Stamp Set (Hostess Level 2, Holiday Mini)

Cardstock & Ink/Markers:
Old Olive, Kraft, Real Red, Chocolate Chip, Summer Sun

Ribbon & Accessories
Mistletoe Ribbon Originals (Holiday Mini)
Circle Punches - 1 1/4" and 1"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009!

Submitted by Linda

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~Marcel Proust

I could make a long list of things I'm thankful for today. In this economy, I'm so thankful for my job, home, and especially my cute little red car. I'm blessed with healthy sons and a husband who loves to do laundry. Lately I am so grateful for the smaller blessings in my life....when someone surprises me with my favorite Starbuck's drink, or when mommies who don't have a kindergartner anymore still come to volunteer, or when I actually have time to read a favorite magazine.

One thing I have loved this past year is becoming a blogger with my pal Michelle. Can you believe we've been doing this for over a year? It has been so satisfying to document our projects, recipes and family events. When I was taking pictures of my tables earlier, Craig asked, "Do people really care about centerpieces?" I don't know if you all care about centerpieces, but it has certainly been fun for me to share it all. So if you follow the blog, or even just check in now and again, thank you for being the "charming gardeners"!

Now, onto the topic at hand: CENTERPIECES!!!! People who know me know that when I have people over, I must have tablecloths on all the tables. Secondly, I really love to have a centerpiece. I think I've mentioned before how I appreciate when others make the effort to have a creative centerpiece - so it's only fair that I make that same effort for my dear friends and family.

When I learned that I was to host a large group for Thanksgiving, my brain began percolating on the subject of centerpieces: "Hmmm......may not want flowers, can be too tall and complicate conversations"...."may not want candles - as my boys may make a waxy mess on the tablecloths"..."want the Martha Stewart look, without breaking the bank".....and so on.

Well, my table decor began with my dishes. Pictured below are my Grandma Roll's wedding dishes from the 20's. You may remember these from our very first post, introducing Front Row Friends. I rented ivory cloth napkins, and tied them with a beautiful 2 sided ribbon.
Now, onto the centerpieces. A few weeks back, I was walking with my usual walking pals, which includes Bonnie of Bonnie's Buddies. You may remember my post about her flowers and nativity. As we were walking, I was asking for centerpiece suggestions when she mentioned that she had ceramic leaves leftover from Claremont's Village Venture Craft Faire. These leaves are fabulous! Happily, I was able to borrow a bunch of them, and also the cool gold netting you can see below! And everything looks better with tealights.
Then, when I decided I need another component, I remembered Michelle's glittered pumpkins! I ended up using 4 tables, with 3 different sets of dishes. It took me awhile to iron the linens and wash up all those dishes, but I definitely think that Thanksgiving is "china-worthy".
Here's hoping you had a great day of giving thanks with your friends and family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crunchy Crust Pumpkin Pie

Submitted by Linda
I came home tonight to a man in my kitchen baking! What a surprise! Craig usually does not spend his time in the kitchen, but today he got a recipe emailed from, that looked good to him (probably because he's been on a very strict diet for the last month or so). Anyway, he did the shopping and the baking - amazing!!!!! I sampled a bit of it to see if it was "blog-worthy", and boy, was it! The best part is the chopped pecans in the crust.

It may be too late for you to try this for Thanksgiving Day, but it may be a nice one for all those Christmas parties and dinners.

Here's the recipe:

Crunchy Crust Pumpkin Pie

1/2 C. butter, softened
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. pecans, chopped
1 C. all purpose flour

Pie Filling:
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 C. canned pumpkin
1 C. evaporated milk
1/4 teasp. nutmeg
1/4 teasp. ginger
1/4 teasp. cinnamon
1/4 teasp. salt
2 eggs, beaten


1. Preheat oven to 400*.
2. Mix crust ingredients well and spread in a 9x12x2 baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring a few times with a fork.
3. Save about 1/2 cup for topping, and press the remainder into a 9" pie pan. Cool.

4. Combine all filling ingredients except eggs in a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat, stirring often, until thick.
5. Add beaten eggs and cook for 2 additional minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell and sprinkle with reserved topping mixture.
6. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thankful Thoughts of You

Submitted by Linda
Well, it's time again for me to do seasonal treats for Nick's teachers. Today he asked me, "Mom, are you doing treats for Tommy's college teachers?" I think that if I did, that would make me the ultimate hovering "helicopter" parent! S0, no, I'm drawing the line at high school teachers.

I really liked Michelle and Carrie's Thanksgiving Day Mix, but this year I didn't have time to combine a bunch of ingredients, so I did "quick and simple": The ever popular Rice Krispy Treat. I will admit that mine are always popular, because I use extra butter and marshmallows, so they are nice and soft!

So I wrapped them up in plastic wrap and tied them up like a present.I added my tag for my 3 amazing 5th grade helpers (They come twice each week, during their lunch, to help me with my kindergarten friends).
For the teachers, I added a few Hershey's Miniatures, and tossed it all into a leafy cello bag. Here are all my treats ready to go tomorrow!
Thanksgiving is such a fun time to appreciate the people in our lives who we are thankful for!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why Living in the Desert Ain't So Bad

Submitted by Michelle
As you know, summers in La Quinta are hot. Very hot. So hot, in fact, that the water in the swimming pools heat up to bathtub temperature. The worst part of summer weather occurs in July and August but the hot temps usually begin in June and last until the beginning of October. Four months of running the air conditioner and wearing as little clothing as is reasonably possible. However, the other 8 months of the year are paradise. Temperatures are mild, it hardly ever rains and while it can get cold enough for jacket wearing, it is more fun to bundle up than a burden given the fact that I rarely ever have to bundle up. Another plus to desert living is winter gardening. I thought I'd give you a look at what I've got growing these days.

Lots and lots of colorful flowers. Stock is one of my favorites because it is so fragrant.
I planted this bed on Tuesday morning. I can't wait for all the pansies, nasturtiums, stock and lavender to fill in.
Herbs grow really well in the desert in the winter because we don't have much frost. This bed is right outside my front door, which makes it easy for me to snip basil, dill, oregano, thyme, marjoram, parsley or lettuce any time I need it when I am cooking.
Tomatoes are also a winter crop in the desert. I just put this fella in last week and it already has started to flower!
The Meyer Lemon tree is chock full of lemons almost ready to be picked. Did you know Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and a tangerine. That's what makes them super juicy, slightly sweet and thin skinned.
Even though the Thanksgiving season is upon us, I couldn't resist a glimpse of what is to come...Christmas! I think these red and white flowers will look great when I change out my fall garland around my front door to evergreen next week.
And of course my craft table reaps the benefit of my winter gardening.
Gardening is a hobby I really enjoy. There is something about digging in the earth and watching plants grow that gives me a feeling of peace and satisfaction. To me, dealing with 4 months of heat, in which I can still grow heaps of things, is worth it to be able to garden year round.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Mix

Submitted by Michelle

Linda is always thinking of ideas for treat bags at the holidays for her son's teachers and her colleagues at work. I often want to jump on the treat bag band wagon but don't always find the time, though when I am with Linda I always seem to get holiday bags made and ready to give to others. Enter my friend Carrie who has become my stamping inspiration in the desert. She regularly emails me ideas for cards and crafts and brings lots of energy and enthusiasm for project making to our friendship.

Last week Carrie's Stampin' Up Demonstrator in Michigan sent her an idea for a Thanksgiving Day treat mix that I loved! In typical Michelle and Linda style, Carrie and I could not make just a few bags...we decided 30 would be a good amount. Carrie graciously did all running around to stores to buy the contents for the treat bags and I handled the cellophane bags and stamping materials.
We had a great time last night stamping and snacking on Thanksgiving Day mix. (I had forgotten how good Bugles taste!) Now I have a small gift for those in my life who are blessings to me and a new memory of time spent with a fun friend.
The tag on the mix reads:
Thanksgiving Day Mix
The Bugles are a symbol of the Cornucopia, a horn of plenty.
The Pretzels represent arms folded in thanks and prayer.
The Candy Corn reminds us that during the first winter, the pilgrims were allowed only five kernels of corn per day because food was scarce.
The Fruit (or candy orange slices in this case) is a reminder that Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest.
The Peanuts represent seeds, the potential of the bounteous harvest for the next season if they are planted and well-tended.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Whisper White cardstock
Soft Suede cardstock and ink
Dusty Durango Ink
Falling Leaves Stamp set
True Thyme Ribbon (retired...a long time ago....and I'm really glad to be using it up!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Making Merry (in November)!

Submitted by Michelle

Over the Veteran's Day holiday Linda and I officially opened up the La Quinta branch of Santa's Workshop and made 210 Christmas cards. Yes, that's right, 210 cards in a period of less than 24 hours.
I have to admit we got a head start earlier in the month by stamping, punching and glittering the "make merry" tags. Linda die cut the vellum paper ahead of time and with the help of Tommy, Nicky and Craig, we had all 210 snowflakes pre-punched too. I was able to cut and score all the cardstock before Linda drove to the desert in Lil' Red.
Even with most of the tasks done in advance, it still took us a long while to put the cards together. The end result is amazing, if I do say so myself, and I think all 210 people who receive one this season from me or Linda will agree.

All supplies from Stampin' Up unless otherwise noted:
Melon Mambo Cardstock & Ink
Merry Moments Designer Paper
Certainly Celery Cardstock
Jumbo Snowflake Punch
Tag Punch
Scallop Circle #2
Grateful Greetings Stamp Set
Snowflake Jumbo Wheel (retired)
Iridescent Ice Embossing Powder
Mistletoe Ribbon
Vellum Cardstock (non-Stampin' Up)
Rhinestones (non-Stampin' Up)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pomegranate Time!

Submitted by Linda
Well, again I apologize for my hiatus from blogging. Though my dad would say, "We all have the same 24 hours", I will admit I've been extremely busy. Life in my kindergarten world is a bit different due to budget and personnel cuts, so I'm working hard to keep my plates spinning.

One thing I so enjoy about the fall is that pomegranates are in season. During this time of year, I'm calling on my friends who have trees, or looking for them at the farmer's market. These gorgeous pomegranates pictured above are from....Costco! Can you believe it? They are deep red (ready to eat) and huge. Look how big this one is, compared to large apple!
They have been delicious! I remove the seeds and have them ready to go in my fridge for a snack or part of my lunch. When shopping for pomegranates, you want them to be deep red. And don't worry about the imperfections - the good stuff is on the inside! If you didn't see this post from last year, click here to see the secret to removing the seeds without making a giant mess!