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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sowing Seeds of Love Friendship Card

Happy sunshiny Sunday, my dear friends! :o)

At long last, I have a card to post! Here's hoping I never have a non-crafty stretch like this again. It made me so... matte. (As opposed to sparkly.) This card gave me FITS and I don't even know why. My frazzled mind struggled to put together a streamlined design this weekend. Regardless, there are some cute things about it and I hope it brings a radiant smile to my lovely friend's heart. :o)

Sowing seeds of love in the garden of friendship:

(I just love these mushrooms.)

Here we have sweet little Kate in her watermelon patch. It's not your typical one, however. It's a sugared-fruit patch, of course! The melons, seeds, and grass are sparklified and all except the sliced fruit are coated in Glossy Accents for shiny dimension. Since this is a garden of friendship, I made the seeds form hearts to emulate blossoming love. The sweet pop-dotted mushrooms, bedecked with buttons, brads, and a smattering of liquid pearls, have morphed into makeshift tables to aid in this spur of the moment picnic. The bunny is outlined in Stardust Stickles because the pure love found in friendship makes his inner sparkle bubble over. I couldn't resist trimming down a pom pom to use for his tail, though I must say it's a bit willy nilly in design. The watermelon slice on the ground wasn't haphazardly discarded... rather, it was dropped when a spontaneous hug reigned in its utmost importance. (Those are my favorite kinds.)

To complete the card, I wrapped her hat in twine, trimmed her coat in sparkles, and added a subtle background design. It seemed like it needed something, but with so much already going on I thought the best thing would be 'faux' embossing by cutting out a few small hearts in the same brown striped paper. (Thank you Papertrey Ink newsletter for reminding me of that forgotten idea.) I didn't ink the edges so they would stand out a smidgen.

Challenges entered:
Fantabulous Cricut (Melon or other fruit)

Thank you very much for visiting me today! :o) I hope your weekend has been full of all things beautiful!

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Create a Critter, Kate's ABCs, Simply Charmed
 * Paper: DCWV, Papertrey Ink, Pebbles, SEI
 * Sentiment: Typed up and printed
 * Twine: Sew Easy (limeade)
 * Buttons and brads on mushrooms: Paperbilities
 * Flower and its center brad: Prima
 * Miscellaneous: Glossy Accents, iRock, Liquid Pearls, Martha Stewart Peridot glitter, Stickles


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Happy News, Sweet Saturday, and Blog Award Thanks!

Happy Saturday, my sweet crafty friends! I hope everyone has a beautiful weekend planned.

What a crazy week it has been... can you believe I went nearly six days without a single moment of crafting? It's quite frustrating, actually. I finally started work on a new card last night around midnight, but my frazzled mind is having heaps of trouble with it despite it being such a simplistic one. Hopefully I will finish and post it tomorrow. I know I'm a bit behind on blogs, but I'm trying very hard to catch up. This lack of crafting and Blogger time is disheartening. :(

I am elated to tell you that my You Sweeten My Journey card was selected as a Top 5 winner at Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog and a Top Chef at Cooking with Cricut! I am honored to have been recognized by these talented design teams. Thank you! :o)

You know what helps when life is throwing all sorts of stressful circumstances at you? Cake. Tall, delicious, classic cake. Feast your eyes upon... Tuxedo Cake:

(Just pretend my sweet boyfriend hadn't removed the pretty leafies from the berries... for some reason he thought I wanted him to.) This dessert is fantastic. It is visually appealing with its three layers and tastes just as scrumptious as I had hoped. The flavors are classic, but I think that works well for this celebratory cake. I made this for my parents' anniversary and they loved it. :o) When cut, it looks absolutely beautiful. The alternating layers of moist chocolate cake and white whipped cream filling are simply stunning.

You might be wondering why I don't have a picture of the gorgeous interior. You won't believe what happened. Mere hours after completion... after only one slice had been enjoyed by my parents... my cake fell. I valiantly tried to save this masterpiece as it tumbled, evidenced by my arms and shirt being covered in frosting and chocolate glaze. I cried over this cake's early demise.

This massive cake was my first time delving into triple layers. I certainly learned a lesson along the way in dealing with whipped cream filling for a cake of this nature. You probably noticed that the side I happened to photograph isn't the smoothest. If only I had noticed at the time. I'm fairly certain this somersaulted to its ending because I stopped whipping the frosting a smidgen too early... I was so worried about overbeating that I did the opposite! So when I snapped a quick picture before serving, I didn't realize one side had begun to sink a bit. Regardless, I'm sharing this with you today because it's all part of the creative journey. My first Tuxedo Cake wasn't perfect in appearance, but the taste was incredible. Next time it will go much more smoothly... with perfectly whipped topping and more patience with drizzling the glaze so it'll be prettier. I thought I had to force it to the sides to get it to drizzle over... but if I had just waited, it would've done it on its own much more nicely.

Note: If you don't want this gargantuan tall cake, you can use the same amount of batter in two 10-inch round pans instead. But I say go with gusto! (Even if it falls in the end. *tear*) ;)

Note II: Lyle's Golden Syrup is called for in the chocolate topping, but I couldn't find it anywhere near me. You can substitute light corn syrup instead, which is what I did.

Tuxedo Cake

For the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil
4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:
4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1¼ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the chocolate topping:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup light corn syrup (or Lyle's Golden Syrup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350º F. Line three 9-inch round pans (or two 10-inch round cake pans) with parchment paper. Butter and flour the inside edges of the pan, shaking out the excess flour.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, water, and canola oil; heat until the butter is melted. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and flour; whisk to blend. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the baking soda, salt, and vanilla to the bowl and whisk just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake layer and invert onto a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.

To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat!

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a platter and spread a layer of whipped cream frosting over the top. Top with the second cake layer, another layer of frosting, and then the third. Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake. Refrigerate until the frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.

To make the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let set 1-2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes. (Do not let the glaze cool longer or it may become difficult to pour over the cake.) Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that the top is covered and the glaze drips over the sides.

Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour. Slice with a long, sharp knife, wiping the blade clean between slices.

If desired, garnish with strawberries. I dipped mine in melted semi-sweet chocolate and then drizzled with melted white chocolate.

Source: The Pastry Queen (found via Annie's Eats)

Finally, I am honored to have received several blogs awards over the past week! Each one means more to me than I can adequately express... the friendships I've made over my first couple months of blogging make me happier than the pearliest clam. :o) Included in the awards are two that are new to me, so I'm extra sparkly today because of you! I've seen them on sidebars and watched as incredible crafters received them, but wasn't sure if I'd ever be a recipient.

Extra heartfelt thanks to the following ladies for thinking of me:
 * Amy of Redheaded Crafter
 * Karen of Crafted With Love by Karen
 * Lisa of A Mermaid's Crafts
 * Shen of My Curious Crafts

I cannot resist passing them back to you, even though I know you've received them before. :o) I'm also passing them along to:

 * Nita of Nita Notes
 * Sabrina of Scrappin' with Sabrina
 * Tiffany of Sparkled Memories

Please don't feel the need to re-post them since it is repetition for most of you.. just know that I am truly honored and count myself extra blessed to have you all in my life. :o) And I hope everyone visits all of these talented sweethearts... they are unique, lovely, and full of inspiration. :o)

Thank you for swinging by! I'm sorry for the lack of cards lately. Like so many of us, the days seem to be getting busier and busier. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with an actual craft! Woohoo! Have a sparkly happy day, my sweet friends! :o)


Sunday, July 24, 2011

You Sweeten My Journey Card

Happy Sunday, my sweet friends! :o) I know what you're thinking... three posts in three days?! Has there been a blog takeover?! ;) Rest assured, it's me!

This card came about because I've hardly done any challenges the past few weeks and I've missed it! So I looked through all my favorites and was thrilled that I could combine several into the one-day time slot I had available to create. With treats, lollipops, and buttons as my inspiration, I came up with a sweetened dollhouse and sugary confection-laden landscape.

"You sweeten my journey."

This card is for a friend who, like yours truly, is sugar crazed. More importantly, her beautiful heart and sweet nature have indeed sweetened my life and I thought this would be a fun way to portray that to her. Lollipops made out of twine serve as the 'stone' pathway, secured by buttons, which rest atop a sparkling foundation; much like the root of all her actions is to bring sparkling love into the lives of others. (This path also makes me want to play hopscotch.) Of course in our sugary landscape, I couldn't just make trees... I opted for ice cream cone trees. :o) The door of the dollhouse is a popsicle split down the center, which opens to reveal a little message:

"You bring me happiness."

I cut the grass to make little strips and then folded them forward to make them a bit more realistic. The path and windows are lined with Cotton Candy Stickles (though I'm pretending it's actual cotton candy for this project) and I filled in the windows with Stardust because a sparkle-filled home is a happy home.

(Can I live here?)

Thank you for visiting me today! You make me smile more than you know. Have a beautiful rest of the weekend, my dear crafty friends. :o)

Challenges entered:
Cooking With Cricut: Lollipops
Die Cuttin Divas: Shaped cards
Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog: I Scream for Ice Cream (cool treats)
Frosted Designs: Buttons
Getting Cricky with K Andrew: Food for Thought

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Elegant Edges, Kate's ABCs, Simply Charmed
 * Cuttlebug embossing folder: D'vine Swirls, Polka Dots, Swiss Dots
 * Paper: Bo Bunny, Core'dinations, DCWV, Fancy Pants (cones and popsicle sticks), Papertrey Ink
 * Door sentiment and flower stamps: Scrappy Cat (dollar bin at JoAnns)
 * Main sentiment: Typed up and printed
 * Twine: Sew Easy (limeade and lollipop)
 * Buttons: My Mind's Eye Tres Jolie
 * Miscellaneous: Dew Drop Brilliance, iRock, Stickles


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sweet Saturday and Blog Awards!

Happy Saturday, my dear friends! :o) I hope your weekend is bursting with love and happiness.

Unfortunately I'm still working on my newest card, so I can't include it in this post. But I like posting yummy recipes for my Sweet Saturday feature, so once again it'll just need to be Cricut-less. Maybe one day I won't be the World's Pokiest Crafter. I shall keep hope alive! ;)

Before I post this week's treat, I need to answer a question about last week's gorgeous water fountain picture. Some of you asked where it was from, and if I wasn't in a post-concert haze for so long I would have answered. Oops. That gorgeous fountain is in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Funny town name, but one of my favorite cities in all of Michigan. It has the sweetest main street area (where this fountain bubbles about) and the biggest year-round Christmas store in the world. You know my love of Christmas... so I try to get there once every month or two. I absolutely love it! :o)

Now onto some goodies! Even when it's 100º outside, sometimes you still need to make a homemade treat... such was the case this week. It was an oven outside so I had no interest in turning on the oven inside. No-bakes to the rescue!

The perfect way to get a chocolate fix when it's too hot for anything lengthy or steamy. Plus they're fun to make if you have kiddos racing around the house... they just love baking these things. :o) Despite the ease, there still is conflicting tips out there regarding how to get the perfect no-bake cookie. So I'll tell you how mine reached this perfect texture. Boil for exactly one minute and do not start timing those sixty seconds until a rolling boil has been reached. If you start early and therefore don't boil it long enough, you get cookies that will not set and you'll be eating them with a spoon off of the parchment paper. If you boil too long, they get dry and crumbly. A few people are convinced you need to boil for five minutes... but I couldn't disagree more! These shouldn't be hard and crumbly. Creamy, delicious, and chewy is how these beauties were intended... and I've found that this is reached with one minute of boiling. :o) (And be sure to use quick-cooking oats!)

Also, if you're already a fan of these cookies, you might think mine are a little dark. There is a reason for that. I'm *serious* about my chocolate... so I used European Dutch-Processed cocoa powder, as opposed to regular cocoa powder. I wanted the richer, deeper chocolate flavor this time around. It was absolutely delicious and I'll certainly be making it that way from now on, as long as I have some on hand. :o)

No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal Cookies
Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies

½ cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use Dutch-Processed, but regular works beautifully too)
½ cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cooking oats

Add the first four ingredients to a 4-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil. Stop stirring and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth, then stir in the oats. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto wax paper. Let cool until set.

Source: Barely adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

And now for some long overdue blog award thanks! :o)  You girls spoil me something silly and I am so grateful and honored that you thought of me. Everyone who passed these on to me has such a creative spirit and their blogs are just bursting with all things beautiful. I encourage you to check out each and every one of them... you will leave their sites full of inspiration and joy, just like I always do. :o) I was so excited to receive them and am still beyond thrilled, despite not having time until now to post this. Thank you girls so much... you made my heart ultra sparkly! :o)

I am so honored to have received the Best Friend Blogger Award from Lisa of A Mermaid's Crafts and Amy of Redheaded Crafter! Thank you both, from the bottom of my heart. What's blogging without making sweet friends along the way? This means so much to me! :o)

I am so ecstatic to have received the Cricut-tastic Award from Sabrina of Scrappin' with Sabrina and Amy of Redheaded Crafter! You both have such fabulous crafty blogs and I'm so excited that you thought of me for this lovely award. :o)

Okay, how adorable is this sweet award?! I'm a lover of all things cute, so I'm tickled pink to have received the Stinkin' Cute Blog Award from five incredible ladies. How could I not be glowing at being thought of as having a cute blog? I'm thrilled! :o) Thank you to the following sweethearts:
Amy of Redheaded Crafter
Lisa of A Mermaid's Crafts
Nita of Nita Notes
Pam of Crafty Cards 4 u 2
Tiffany of Sparkled Memories

The rules for the Best Friend Blogger award are to tell something about myself, pass it along, thank the person who gave it to you (thank you again, Lisa and Amy!), and pass it along to at least 5 friends.

Something about myself is that I absolutely love New York City! I haven't been there in far too long, but some of my favorite (and long-lasting) memories are from there. You just can't beat the overwhelming plethora of artistic brilliance, in so many forms. From Broadway plays and musicals to flawless dancing at Lincoln Center to the incredible museums, I can't help but feel at home when in NYC. Not to mention the beauty that is Central Park and the countless fabulous places to dine. The city just has an energy all its own and I love it. :o)

The rules for the Cricut-tastic award are as follows:
* Your Blog has been deemed as Cricut-tastic!
* Wear this badge proudly on your Blog. Share it with friends! Since Cricut is 5 years old and they have an E2 out, share this award with 10 people who you think have Cricut-tastic blogs!
* Tell 5 Cricut related things about yourself.

Here we go!
1. I received my cricut in April from my super sweet boyfriend. I sometimes still can't believe it!
2. My favorite cartridges are Elegant Edges and Create a Critter. I don't really know how CAC will ever be topped!
3. I'll soon be decorating my Cricut with sparkles to make it a bit more personalized... plus it's an excuse to use more sparkles.
4. I don't yet have a Gypsy... but I am craving one something fierce.
5. When I'm out and about and see something I particularly like, I find myself thinking, "Can I Cricut that?" It makes me giggle. Hehe!

The rules for the Stinkin' Cute award are that there are no rules! Just pass it along. :o)

Thank you all so much, once again! I'm passing along all three awards to the following fabulous crafters! Not to make it simpler or quicker, but because every individual creates beautiful projects, has cute blogs, and has hearts of pure gold and give so much support to their bloggy friends. :o) I encourage you to visit them and show some love. :o)

Amy of Redheaded Crafter
Candace of My Passion 4 Scrappin
Catarina of Docerela Creations
Karen of Crafted With Love By Karen
Lisa of A Mermaid's Crafts
Nita of Nita Notes
Pam of Crafty Cards 4 u 2
Sabrina of Scrappin' with Sabrina
Shen of My Curious Crafts
Tiffany of Sparkled Memories

Thank you so much for dropping by today, friends! I wish I'd had a card for you. Have a beautiful evening, with lots of smiles. :o)


Friday, July 22, 2011

Altered Notebook and a Mini-Gush!

Happy Friday, my sweet friends! I hope your week has been lovely. I have lots to share with you today! :o)

First up is my first venture into altering items. Though I liked the cover of my very special notebook, I didn't love that fact that a million identical ones were manufactured. Hehe. This notebook contains ideas for writing, photography, and dance... very special, indeed! I kept it pretty simple, but absolutely love the result and I hope you do, too! :o) I need to include a few pictures to show you some of the details. I'm not sure why these are uncharacteristically blurry, but it was 100º outside so I wasn't about to have an hour long photo session. ;)

"Creativity sparkles within a dancer's heart."

Isn't it pretty? I just love how vibrant and cheerful these pinks are... perfect for holding my dreams. The ribbon tied to the top spiral with a sparkly flower on the bottom functions as a bookmark. :o) The sparkly flower on the bottom right was cut out of a coordinating patterned paper. You all know me well enough to realize there's a story playing out on this cover, right? It begins here:

The biggest butterfly (embossed, but hard to tell) has just taken flight, which is why she's closest to the sentiment. She's just beginning a new journey, still a bit unsure where her place is. But her dreams drive her so she keeps trying, discovering, and growing... and that's why her gifts are beginning to develop, portrayed by the sparkling pink trim on her shadow. The two above are further along in the journey now, which is why they've turned completely sparkly. No longer just the trim... but 100% sparkle because she's letting her light shine through every creative endeavor. It's impossible *not* to sparkle when you let your heart shine. I covered them in Glossy Accents to make them shiny and durable.

However, you probably noticed the smallest of the three glittery butterflies has gone adrift:

Sometimes on your journey, whatever it may be, you go off course. In my personal scenarios, self-doubt and frustrations can cause a hiccup in my path. I drift away a bit, caught inside a mental battle that can sometimes rear its ugly head. But the good news is that I'm just like this tiny butterfly. If you look closely at the picture just above, you can see that she's returned to the sparkly path that guides her back to the heart of it all, written on the notebook between the spirals: Artistry and passion. Back on track, the possibilities are endless.

The bottom left has a tiny garden of three tulle flowers, dotted with pearly centers. These wispy beauties are among my favorites because they remind of me ballet tutus. How could I not include these on the cover somewhere? :o)

Lastly, the interior! I made a cute, sparkly pocket to hold some papers, pictures, etc. I love this design because it makes me think of the Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker! :o) I attached two clippies to the ribbon to hold small tidbits of inspiration.

And now, a mini-gush. Some of my super fabulous crafty friends wanted to hear a bit about my Josh Groban concert on Saturday! I'll spare you the two hour novel I could easily write about it... and will simply tell you that it was one of the best nights of my entire life. I first heard him sing in May of 2001, and proof of his impact on me since can be found within this special project, which I made a couple of months ago. The final tag I posted in that entry, containing three songs that will play a key role upon my eventual return to dance, are all his. Ten years and two months after discovering him, I finally got to hear him sing live... and it was indescribable. His voice is unlike any other, as is his music, so it made for an absolutely perfect night. One I have waited a crazy long time for. And, I confess... it didn't hurt that HE HELD MY HAND FOR TWO OR THREE SECONDS. Forgive the caps (and bold and italics), but it was a pretty special moment. ;) (I love you, aisle seat. Floor Level, Row Six, Seat One... I love you like I love sparkles.)

He sounded spectacular (naturally), the music selection was incredible, and it was two hours of pure bliss. Endless thanks to my sweet boyfriend for surprising me with that golden ticket. :o) And a special shout-out to my dear friend Ellen, who so skillfully deciphered my text messages just before the concert began, a couple during, and of course after. Especially during... it takes talent to become proficient in Karen-speak when emotions are running high like that. (You do realize you're the only one who got a hand-holding text shortly after it happened, right? You needed to know pronto... as soon as my hand would function.) ;) She is amazing and I'm so thankful we were able to somewhat share in the gorgeous experience together, despite the distance. :o)

And guess what? Josh has another concert in Michigan on August 6th. Yep, I'm SO there! Row Six, Seat One. Sound familiar? Let's hope it's golden once again... as the cherry on top of what will surely be another night of brilliance.

Thank you so much for stopping by today and persevering through this lengthy post. You are all angels! :o) I'll be doing a Blog Award catch-up with my next post... I'm so honored. I don't take them lightly and I'm thrilled to finally be sharing the love this weekend. I hope your day is filled with love, hugs, and all things beautiful. :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Elegant Edges, Florals Embellished
 * Cuttlebug embossing folder: Polka Dots
 * Paper: Core'dinations, DCWV
 * Stamps: Martha Stewart (three glittery butterflies on the cover)
 * Ribbon: Essentials, Papertrey Ink
 * Twine: Sew Easy (lollipop)
 * Flower: Prima Fabric Fancies
 * Miscellaneous: Fiskars butterfly punch (teeny tiny ones on the pocket), Glossy Accents, iRock, Liquid Pearls, Martha Stewart glitter


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whimsical Wednesday Challenge: Let's Use Our Scraps!

Happy Wednesday, dear friends! Guess what today is? My very first weekly challenge as a member of an incredibly talented design team. So excited!

The Whimsical Wednesday challenge this week is Let's Use Our Scraps! To be honest, fear struck my heart. ;) I've never created a card made exclusively from scraps, so I was intimidated. Then I laughed at myself because this is a challenge blog, after all! :o) So I dove into my growing pile of severed and Cricut'ed paper to see what would happen. I decided to use this opportunity to force myself out of my recent color rut. No pink or blue allowed. (Cue fear... again.)

Here is the color palette and scraps I settled upon:

Here is my completed project, which I'm so happy to share with you:

My thought process for this challenge was essentially this: Scraps... segments... tiny pieces... squares... QUILT... which can symbolize the warmth and coziness of friendship. My inspiration for this card is my dear friend Christina (who my followers may recognize as the one who leaves me novel-length comments... most supportive and enthusiastic cheerleader ever, in every endeavor of mine.) Her favorite color is orange and she loves nature, so I selected any coordinating orange and floral scraps I had, plus some pale yellow and white. I cut the main papers into strips and squares, then arranged them in a quilted fashion. To break up the busy pattern a bit, I added the yellow down the middle, which has a gorgeous embossed design on it. (It's the flip side of the moon cut-outs in my scrap picture.)

To personalize it while keeping my theme, I "sewed" in some of the beauty we weave into our friendship: Joy, Love, and Trust. I went to town with the faux stitching to solidify it as a quilt as opposed to a mosaic (which was my back-up plan if this didn't work out). I wanted a strong focal element that didn't overpower the quilting, so I weaved together the sweet ribbon wreath. You know how enamored I am with ribbon!

The simple tutorial is HERE if you'd like to make one, too! :o) I nestled the sentiment inside, pop-dotted the entire center element, and finished off my card with a few butterflies and a smattering of orange rhinestones. An unsparkly wreath wasn't an option. ;) I was tempted to add more stuff, but resisted. For this theme and this recipient, an overall simple look with one special technique was my goal.

I hope you'll join in the fun this week! I would love to see what your scraps can morph into. :o) Check out the Whimsical Wednesday Weekly Challenge post to see what prize is being offered. Also be sure to visit the rest of the Design Team's blogs to see their fabulous creations. :o)

I'll be back tomorrow with a new project I'm working on... my first altered item! And for my sweet crafty friends who have inquired, I'll also tell you a bit about my most perfect Saturday night at the concert. It couldn't have been more amazing! I wanted to tell you about it so much sooner, but this week has been nuttier than a Snickers. Have a gorgeous and sparkly day, everyone! Thank you for visiting. :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridge: Elegant Edges
 * Paper: Bazzill, DCWV, Graphic 45, Papertrey Ink
 * Ribbon: Celebrate It, Essentials
 * Flower: Prima
 * Miscellaneous: Fiskars butterfly punch, iRock


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pretty Picture and Sweet Saturday

Happy Saturday, my dear friends! I hope you all have the most wonderful weekend planned! :o) I'm going to the Josh Groban concert tonight and am ready to burst in anticipation. He's my absolute favorite musician. :o) I haven't been able to complete a new card yet, but I do have a lovely picture to share with you as well as a delicious recipe.

This picture is the inspiration for a very special craft project I'll soon be doing... I'm anxious to begin, but need to wait until I learn to brilliantly use my Copics. Hopefully later this summer I'll make it. (I had hoped to be a Copic natural... alas, I am not.) ;)

Isn't this gorgeous? My favorite water fountain I've ever encountered. I snapped this picture earlier this summer and am just enamored with it.

Sweet Saturday time! I missed doing this little feature last weekend. I couldn't let that happen again, so despite the crazy busy-bee days, I carved out some baking time last night around midnight. Made for my sweetheart, the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.

If you need a classic, go-to chocolate chip cookie, I beg you to try this. I first made this recipe over a year ago, and this has been requested on a regular basis ever since. (They are my boyfriend's favorite.) I've had no reason to even try other recipes. At long last, the perfect chocolate chip cookie I had been craving to make at home. :o) (And it's super dooper fast to whip up!) Chewy, thick, and bursting with chocolate chips. These are truly incredible and are a staple in my baking adventures.

Have a beautiful day, my crafty friends! I'm sending you extra hugs and sparkles today. :o) Thank you so much for stopping by!

Note: I only bake one sheet of cookies at a time, due to a lack of trust in my oven. I'll write the recipe as is for baking multiple sheets at a time. :o)

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: Approximately 20-24

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven to 325º F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. (I need three, since my sheets aren't massive.)

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. With an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. On low speed, add dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll a scant half-cup of dough into a ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull apart into two equal halves. Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (approximately 11-14 minutes). Do not overbake.

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie's Eats


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baby cards: Project Sunshine and Smiles for St. Jude's

Happy Thursday, my sweet crafty friends! Are you smiling lots this week? If not, grab the nearest cupcake (or three), devour them, and finish them off with a sugary caffeine concoction. I won't tell.

Remember way back on Monday I mentioned a special card I was making? It's been one of those weeks. At long last it is complete... and it multiplied into two. Right after I post this I should make a sash, bedazzled with World's Pokiest Crafter in sparkly rhinestones. Hopefully the added hours served to amplify the love content I tried to pack into them.

Erica from My Cricut Craft Room is on a fabulous mission to collect 5,000 cards by the end of August for the beautiful children at the St. Jude's Children Research Hospital. Read THIS POST for more information. The instant I stumbled upon her blog, I committed myself to this project. It's heartbreaking what they go through every single day. Those kids deserve all the love and sunshine possible, and once again the crafting world is uniting for a great cause. The age range is baby through teen... the sky is the limit in theme, as long as it's not a reminder of their illness. General thinking of you, hope you're feeling better, etc... the things we all do so well, right? I will be making more cards throughout the summer, but I began with the babies.

This is my first time making baby-themed cards. I knew that in this special case, it was an excellent opportunity to reach out to the parents through them. These itty bitty babies can enjoy some aspects of cards, but they're so tiny (yet in a gigantic battle) that I made certain to reach their loved ones... particularly with what I tucked inside them.

The sentiment is a reminder to keep dreaming big for their little ones. Miracles happen every single day. :o) The exteriors are basically the same (clearly!), but do have a few differences. The baby boy is embossed and has Glossy Accented clouds, while the baby girl has a few rhinestones. I drew a Peachy Keen face on each moon, added a fluffy pom pom, and inked/faux stitched to make it stand out a bit. It and the bigger stars are pop-dotted for dimension. All of the stars are coated in Glossy Accents to make them like epoxy brads. I love the shiny, hard finish atop the sparkle.

The two stars that dangle from the pom pom are special. Since they're free and the moon is popped up, there's a decent chance they could flip, right? I took advantage of that opportunity to sneak in a little message... Love heals:

And tucked inside the cards, in little pockets:

I attached these to jump rings to replicate the ever-popular "keys" toy that little ones play with. Instead of for playtime, these are keys to win their battle. I kept the same color schemes, but made these bolder... because the families need a bold spirit to fight for their sweet baby. The three cards are Faith, Hope, and Love. On the backs they'll find a message from me touching on the given topic. To end each is a tiny sheep, because the Lord is our shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them close to his heart.

Hopefully these cards will fulfill my goal of spreading a little sunshine and reminding them they're not alone in these scary times. And I hope you enjoy them, too! :o) Thank you for stopping by my blog. Every visit means so much to me. :o) Have a gorgeous day, everyone!

(Side note: I have a couple of awards from several amazing people. So as not to turn this post into a novel, I'll do those separately as soon as I can. I am so appreciative... they give me warm fuzzies. I'm anxious to post them and return the love. Thank you, my dear friends!)

Challenges Entered:
 * My Craft Spot (Ink it up!)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Create a Critter, Elegant Edges, Simply Charmed
 * Cuttlebug embossing folder: D'vine Swirls, Polka Dots
 * Paper: Bazzill, DCWV, Heidi Grace, Imaginisce
 * Ribbon: American Crafts, miscellaneous
 * Twine: Sew Easy (limeade and lollipop)
 * Miscellaneous: Dew Drop Brilliance, Glossy Accents, iRock, Stickles


Monday, July 11, 2011

Blog Candy WINNER!

Happy Monday, my crafty friends! I hope everyone had a sparkly weekend! :o)

It's time to post the winner of my blog candy from the blog hop! (Wasn't it a fabulous hop? So many stunning projects!) Thank you all so much for hopping along and leaving such incredible comments. Welcome to my new followers.. I'm ecstatic to have you! I look forward to learning more about you on your blogs. :o)

My hope was to post a special card with this announcement, but circumstances did not permit me the time to complete it yet. It's for a very special purpose, so I hope you'll zip back here in a day or two so you can read about the sweet cause behind it. :o)

I LOVED having a giveaway, so I'll certainly be holding one whenever I reach the celebratory 100 followers mark. So much joy in sharing! And now... time to reveal the winner, chosen by!  Congratulations to...

Nita T!

Woohoo! Congratulations! Since you're outside of the USA and the unfortunate shipping costs prevent me from mailing you a special package, email me at KaleidoscopicSparkles at yahoo dot com so we can set up a wonderful gift certificate. I can't wait to see what you create with your new goodies when they arrive!

Have a beautiful rest of the day, my friends! Twinkle like a moonbeam. :o)


Friday, July 8, 2011

Whimsical Wednesday Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Whimsical Wednesday blog hop! You should have arrived here from the fabulous Carlene at Me 'n' Miss Pink Cricut. If you just happened to drop by to say hi, please go to the Whimsical Wednesday blog to start at the beginning of the hop. For this hop we all made banners/wall decor that will be sent to a nursing home. The link to read more about this is posted at the Whimsical Wednesday blog.

For my project, I created a vertical door hanging. Each square is adhered to chipboard for support and durability. For a nicer finish and a softer surface for the door, the backside is covered with fabric. I decided on a classic black and white base, with each section adding a different pop of color in varying shades.

A few pre-assembly close-ups:
"A sprinkle of joy..."

"A touch of grace..."

"Love blossoms within this place."

The main inspiration for this project is the incredible love found within nursing home residents... and how they're full of so much spirit. Their love is ever-blossoming in strength and beauty, being shared with everyone who enters. All it takes is a sprinkle of joy (depicted by tiny liquid pearl droplets in the heart of the large flower) to start an outpouring of infectious happiness. Each of the three pieces can stand on their own and have elements unique to themselves, but together they're the most powerful. The sprinkles are shared and transferred by grace, as in a butterfly... then bloom in love from heart to heart. The white bases are Core'dinations Gemstone cardstock, supplying such a beautiful pearlescent sheen. The orchid and purple inks are also shimmery, giving gentle luster to the stamped background of the butterfly and the soft 'sunset' sponging along part of the heart vine. Dangling from the bottom is a sweet, sparkling flower.

These are our generous sponsors for our blog hop and what they are giving away for prizes:

Patsy from the Prairie Bird Boutique: 
Your choice of one bundle of Shabby Crinkle Ribbon

Babette from The Kraft Outlet:

The Kraft Outlet has generously donated their “Inspiration Play Pack." This is a collection of The Kraft Outlet's top selling items valued at over $45. The play pack comes with 10 yards each of the red and brown baker’s twine, an assortment of 50 of the plain and grungy tags, an 8 sheet assortment of their cardstock and text weight papers, an 8 envelope assortment, one sheet of Kraft labels, a set of their vintage dictionary pages, 1 yard of black twill tape and a CD full of 100 graphics and backgrounds.

In addition, the Kraft Outlet is offering 10% off all purchases made during the ENTIRE  month of July. Simply enter the code JULY10 at checkout.

The grand prize for the blog hop is a Gypsy, generously donated by Stephanie. In order to qualify for the grand prize you must leave a comment on each of the designers' blogs. At the end of the hop, please return to the Whimsical Wednesday blog to leave a comment saying that you finished the hop and left a comment under all of our posts. The blog hop will run through Sunday, ending at Midnight.

I'm so excited for my very first blog hop and am offering up some Blog Candy in celebration! One lucky random winner will receive an assortment of goodies, including:

 * Cuttlebug embossing folder
 * Flower Soft sprinkles, in your choice of original or ultra fine
 * Dew Drop Brilliance ink pads
 * Plus a couple of surprises!

To be eligible to win, simply leave me a comment telling me your favorite color or color scheme to create with. (Or just leave a comment... there are so many wonderful blogs to get to!) I don't require that you become a follower, but of course would love it if you do. The more, the sparklier! :o) I will announce the winner on Monday, July 11th! Due to high shipping costs, if the winner is from Alaska, Hawaii, or outside of the USA, the prize will instead be in the form of a gift certificate to a wonderful craft supply store.

Thank you for joining us for the Whimsical Wednesday blog hop! Your next stop is the incredibly sweet and talented Glora at Glora's Crafts. Have a beautiful weekend! :o)

In case you got lost along the way, here's the entire line-up:
1. Whimsical Challenge Blog:                             
2. Stephanie:
3. Star:
4. Jessica:
5. Shelly:

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Kate's ABCs, Storybook
 * Cuttlebug embossing folder: Swiss Dots
 * Paper: Core'dinations, Papertrey Ink
 * Stamps: Hero Arts~ Sweet Petals; Autumn Leaves~ flourishes; Stampendous~ Agapanthus Long
 * Copics: RV10, RV13, RV14
 * Ribbon: Essentials (from JoAnns), Offray
 * Brads: American Crafts
 * Flower: Prima Fabric Fancies
 * Butterfly Punch (two smallest butterflies): Fiskars
 * Miscellaneous: Dew Drop Brilliance, Flower Soft (in Fuchsia), Liquid Pearls, Recollections Pearl Flourish, Stickles

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