Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nana's Graham Cracker Cookies

Submitted by Linda (Recipe from Michelle)
You all probably know by now that Michelle is the true foodie, a chef to be reckoned with. I'm always cautious when posting recipes, because I want to be sure it's up to her standard. Since this recipe is from her (via her husband's grandma), I think she'll approve!

I served these to some gals last week, and the raving included the comment "to die for". So don't be discouraged by the simplicity of the ingredients or directions. These are a winner!
These are also relatively quick to put together if you need a homebaked treat that doesn't involve a mixer or a long list on ingredients.
Nana's Graham Cracker Cookies

1 lb. butter (I used a half pound for one cookie sheet of crackers)
24 graham crackers
2 C. brown sugar (I used 1 C. for one cookie sheet)
8 oz. sliced almonds
2 tsp. vanilla (1 tsp. for one cookie sheet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with graham crackers. Melt butter and sugar together to form a syrup, stirring constantly. Put a small mound (I like a larger mound) of almonds on each graham cracker. As soon as syrup boils, remove from heat and cool 2 minutes. Add vanilla and spoon over crackers. Bake for 7 minutes (look for bubbling all over). Edges won't be brown. Let cool 10 minutes. Cut into squares and remove to wire cooling rack.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Same Song, Second Verse: Starring the Pennant Punch

Submitted by Linda

I told you that I would be using the Pennant Punch for all of my birthday cards this year, so forgive me if this is getting tiresome! I needed two birthday cards in the same week for some men in my life who were having big birthdays. I copied this card, only tried to make it a bit more masculine. This time the Thickers are blue fun foam, rather than blingy glitter.

This card is for my brother who bought me the pennant punch. I had to make him a card with it, right?
For my father (who preferred that the number remain unmentioned), I simply spelled "dad" on the pennant.
You'll find another version of this card here. Another staple in my arsenal of stamping supplies is the Top Note Die for the Big shot. This shape is super versatile, and in this case, I cut one smaller so that the contrasting paper peeks out from behind.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Valentine 'Debrief'

Submitted by Linda (finally)
When Michelle and I started our blog in 2008, we had a desire to be 'real women', sharing our various projects and escapades with our friends, and our friends on the blogosphere. Part of being 'real women' is jobs, families, higher education, and other important things that can sometimes interfere with all the blogging fun we usually have. We were (and are) hoping that part of the appeal of Front Row Friends is that we don't have assistants or's just us. I say all of that to apologize for being MIA for a while. Michelle has been the all-star student in her master's program, and I have had a couple of ultra-busy weeks at school. Nevertheless, I'm back.....with a Valentine post. (Please resist the urge to remind me that March is coming this next week!)

In our friendship, we often call each other for a 'debrief' (aka chat, discussion, catching up, girl talk). When we stay over at each others homes, in the evening we often get our faces washed, get our P.J.s on, and have a 'debrief' (like the old days when we lived in the dorms). So here's a little debrief about some of the ultra-creative gifts I received on Valentine's Day. They are too cute not to share!

This cute handmade box slides out of the cover and is filled with Hershey's Nuggets, which spell "Valentine". This says "a ton of work" to me!
And how about this Hershey Kiss card?
Here's another one! Look at this darling 'cupcake'...'s a closer look out of the cello bag...
Voila! Fuzzy Sockies! How do people think this stuff up? And then find the perfect socks?
So fun! Now, onto another topic. You may be wondering if I actually made a valentine for Craig. I think if I didn't, it would be sort of like the legend of the cobbler's kids who had no shoes, or the teacher's kids who can't read. I don't really have any funny-sexy-valentine stamps, so I stick with Love and save the funny-sexy stuff for the handwritten message inside. I also think it would be terrible to spend $4 on a store bought card, when I could do this instead:
I used Linda's Classic Card style and tried to make it a bit masculine by adding the Square Lattice embossing. I like the simplicity of the message, from the Lighthearted stamp set. You may recognize the cute ribbon from this post.

OK, so now we're caught up with the valentines stuff, and we're ready for March to come in like a lion next week!

Monday, February 20, 2012

February Stamp Club

Submitted by Michelle
This week I have stamp clubs in both La Quinta and Claremont. With Linda's help, I have created some fun cards for my friends to make.
Linda created this banner card. She loves the pennant punch and I love the Just Add Cake Designer Paper.
This little beauty uses the Apothecary Art stamp set from the Occasions Mini Catalog. The vintage vibe is right up my alley.
We are also making this card too, but I changed the sentiment to "You're So Sweet."
Lastly, we'll be making a St. Patrick's Day treat box using the Candy Wrapper Die from the Big Shot. I thought it would be fun to put green M & M's or jelly beans inside.

I hope my ladies enjoy the projects as much as I enjoyed designing them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Sisterly Affection": Valentine's Day

Submitted by Linda
I've been half-joking lately about restoring Valentine's Day to it's former sweetness as a holiday for friendship and affection, rather than just romantic love. Susan Branch put my thoughts into her words and I couldn't have said it better:

"Valentine's Day is a celebration of love, in all forms, kid-to-grandma, mom-to-dad, sister-to-sister, of course BFF-to-BFF; between co-workers too! This is the easiest of all holidays on which you can make somebody's day. Valentine's Day really has nothing to do with romantic love, it's just heart-to-heart with whomever you care for. Remember when we were in grammar school, and we sent Valentines to all our classmates? It had nothing to do with romantic love . . . it was about sweetness and light with a nice big hunk of charm thrown in."

Don't get me wrong - I love sweet thoughtful gifts from Craig on Valentine's Day, or even just a card with some nice thoughts written in it. Yet, I think we women sometimes have incredibly high expectations, and our men sometimes don't 'make it perfect' for us, because they don't know about the high expectations, or they aren't wired to do clever valentiny things. I've learned through my almost 25 years of marriage, that I appreciate my man doing dishes as much as any trinket or bauble. This doesn't mean the guys are off the hook for Valentine's Day.

But our girl friends are often wired to do cute valentiny things, so I say, why not? Like Susan says, "This is the easiest of holidays on which you can make somebody's day".

For my boys at college, I made our family's 'signature' sugar cookies. In the card making department, I made this card:
No, I didn't think it up all by myself! I went to Splitcoaststampers, where you can look at samples people have submitted for a specific stamp set. I perused all the ideas, then combined them to make this cutie. I think that stamping the dress on printed paper is genuis - I wish I had thought of it! The cute cute ribbon is from Collective Journey in Redlands. Here's a glimpse of what we saw on that visit:
Even in Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie Bennett mentions "sisterly affection" whilst in a dinner-table conversation (or should we say interrogation?) with Lady de Bourgh. This past week, I sent Michelle a valentine, and I thought I was so clever to mention "sisterly affection". When she got her mail, she connected the dots immediately! (I guess that's why we like to think of each other as the sisters we never had, with both of us growing up with brothers only).

So, consider this a reminder to make someone's day on Tuesday!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Crayons

Submitted by Linda
During Christmas vacation, I happened to be at JoAnn's where I noticed that the valentines stuff was already out. I had seen this idea for fall leaves crayons in an issue of Family Fun Magazine.

So in December, I purchased 2 heart shaped silicone cupcake pans to make my valentines for my kindergarten friends. Our school adopted a 'no-sweets' policy so I thought this would be a great non-edible treat. I will admit that my policy is 'limited sweets'. There are certain occasions where apple slices just won't do.

When Michelle came for our 'pre-New Year's' crafting day, I told her to bring her old crayons in valentine colors (pink, purple, white and red).Here are the naked crayons:
We broke up the crayons, tossed them into the pan, and baked them.
After they cooled for about 30 minutes, they popped right out of the silicone and looked like this:
They all turned out so pretty and so different!
Michelle and I both wrapped them in cello bags with a cute tag. Hopefully no one will try to eat one!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl Valentines

Submitted by Michelle
I'm having a crazy busy week, but I wanted to show you what I did on Super Bowl Sunday! David and I went over to Carrie's house and while the guys watched the game, we crafted to our hearts content. I wanted a few Valentines to send to family and friends and this is what I came up with.
The chocolate covered strawberries are from the P.S. I Love You set in the Occasions Mini Catalog. That set is a TOTAL must have. You can't really see it in the photo, but I used Crystal Effects on the chocolate part of the strawberries to give it a shiny, glassy effect. Totes cute!
Linda has been an inspiration with the pennant punch lately, so I got on board and made this card. The "love you" in the center is also from the P.S. I Love You set, as well as the hearts at the bottom of the card.

Here's hoping your week is calmer than mine, and that you're working on your Valentines for those you love.