Friday, December 31, 2010

i heart you

I was able to enjoy a full day of cropping fun with some of the girls this past week as we celebrated Veronica's birthday! While I didn't get too much scrapbooking done (I was too busy talking and enjoying all the great food!) I did complete a couple of cards.

This card was made using a new Penny Black stamp that I just love! I bought it thinking of my sister whose cat recently died. She was a sweet little kitty named Mariah and she loved sleeping in my sister's bras! I thought this stamp was made just for her!

I colored the image with Copic markers (about 20 of them!) and used some new ribbon I recently bought! The sentiment is from Stamping Bella.

Thanks for looking and have a wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Little Red Wagon #61

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to a wonderful New Year!

This week's challenge at Little Red Wagon is brought to us by Dee. She has challenged us to use some leftover Christmas cards, wrapping paper or ribbon. What a fun challenge!

I received so many beautiful cards this year, but one in particular really caught my eye. So I cut out the image and the sentiment and made a card of my own.

I kept the card really simple. I just added some ribbon to the image, popped it up with foam adhesive and paired it with some paper from BoBunny. Now I have my first card all ready for next year!

Be sure to check the great projects that the Girlfriends have made for this week's challenge. They are so creative!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

I wish all my family and friends a most blessed and merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One More Recipe!

No, I am not turning my blog into a cooking blog! (lol) I just wanted to share all my delicious Christmas cookie recipes with you. And I have one final recipe that I wanted to post.

This recipe is for Jewel Thumbprint Cookies. It is a recipe that I found many years ago when I was just a young stay-at-home Mom and I had lots of time to spend in the kitchen. It has been a Christmas favorite ever since and each year my Mom specifically requests that I bring these cookies to our family Christmas gathering.

So last night I was a good daughter and made up a batch even though I was really tired and it was the last thing that I wanted to do. Now, mind you, a batch consists of at least 5 dozen cookies. FIVE DOZEN COOKIES that you mix, shape, dip, roll, press and fill. (Not that I am complaining or anything...)

They really are a wonderfully tasty cookie, well worth the effort. So if you would like to give them a try, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Jewel Thumbprint Cookies

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 -2/3 cup flour
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
Raspberry Jam – 1 jar

Cream butter and sugar; add egg yolks, vanilla and salt, mix well. Add flour; mix well.

Shape into 1-inch balls. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Roll into egg whites and then nuts. Place on cookie sheet, flatten cookie slightly, make indent in center with thumb and fill with 1/2 teaspoon jam. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes. Makes about 60 cookies. Delicious!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Little Red Wagon #60

Happy Wednesday friends! This week's Little Red Wagon challenge is from Rosanne. She has challenged us to create a last minute Christmas table favour or place cards.

I decided to do some place cards and I went with a design and colors that would match my china. They make a pretty addition to my holiday table!

Thanks for a great challenge Rosanne! Be sure to check what the other Girlfriends have made - they are just so crafty!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ready or Not

I always need about 2 extra weeks each Christmas. No matter how hard I try, no matter how organized I am, I never seem to accomplish everything I want by the time Christmas arrives.

Like the Christmas cards I planned to send out. Or the shopping I hoped to enjoy rather than just rush through at the last minute. Or the friends I had wanted to visit.

And then in the midst of the busy preparations, my heart would be called to take a moment and think of what Christmas is all about; think of the gift that Christmas truly is. And right then and there I would desire to fall on my knees in gratitude and sorrow. Gratitude for what God our Father has given us in Jesus. And sorrow that I so easily lose sight of what this precious holiday is all about.

Today is my day off and my list of things to do is very long. When I checked my email this morning, I received one from Audrey with a link to this beautiful video - O Holy Night. I am grateful that before my day even started I was reminded again what my real focus should be.

Listen and enjoy this beautiful song.

May your day be blessed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ricotta Cookies

Here is another great cookie recipe that I tried for the first time this year. The recipe has ricotta cheese in it and the cookies bake up nice and light and not too sweet!

Ricotta Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Silver sprinkles

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in egg, ricotta cheese and vanilla, beating well after each addition.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder; stir into ricotta mixture.

Drop by generous 1 Tablespoon measure, about 2 inches apart, onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake in 350 degree F oven until bottoms are golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool.

Icing: In bowl, beat cream cheese with butter; beat in icing sugar until thick and creamy. Beat in vanilla. Spread over tops of cookies; decorate with sprinkles. Refrigerate until icing is firm, about 30 minutes.

Makes about 36 totally yummy cookies!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lemon Dreams

I found the most delicious cupcake recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Baking magazine - Lemon Dreams!

If you like lemon, I guarantee you will LOVE these delicate lemony treats. Here is the recipe for you.

Lemon Dreams

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (see tip below)
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel (optional)
1 cup lemon curd
Lemon Cream Frosting
Finely shredded lemon peel (optional)

  1. Line twenty to twenty-four 2-1/2 inch muffin cups with paper bake cups. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, beating until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Stir in finely shredded lemon peel if desired. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
  3. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
  4. Prepare Lemon Cream Frosting; set aside.
  5. Spoon lemon curd into a decorating bag fitted with a large round or open star metal tip. Push tip into the top of each cupcake and force some of the lemon curd inside cupcakes.
  6. Generously pipe or spread the frosting onto tops of cupcakes. If desired, garnish with additional finely shredded lemon peel.

Lemon Cream Frosting
  • In large bowl, combine 6 ounces softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup softened butter, and 1/4 cup lemon curd. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth. Gradually add 3 cups icing sugar, beating well. Beat in 1 Tablespoon milk. If necessary beat in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make of spreading consistency.
Tip: I used a zip-lock bag to pipe my frosting onto the cupcakes. I put the icing into the bag and then cut a tip off one of the corners to give me a nice size hole for piping the frosting. It worked really well!

Tip: If you don't want to buy buttermilk, made sour milk instead. Place 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Add milk to make 1 cup total liquid; stir. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Enjoy your Lemon Dreams!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Canning Jar Crazy!

A very sweet friend recently inherited a crazy number of antique canning jars from her father and she did not want to keep them all. So being the nice person that I am, I quickly offered to take them from her and put them to good use. I love antique canning jars and I have been picking up the odd one here and there over the years. So for me to receive five large boxes full of these wonderful treasures was like winning the lottery!

I have used a couple of them in my scrap room to hold some ribbon and buttons.

And now that Christmas is here, I have been getting creative with some of the smaller ones. I was blog hopping a while ago and I saw a very simple idea for using a canning jar as a candle holder. So with some twine, Epsom salt and a tea light, I created these great candles for my Christmas table.

I love the character of the different jars and when the tea light is lit, the names show up perfectly! I added a little tag that I made to the middle one and tied twine around the other two.

I put one in my family room as well. It looks really sweet with my Christmas decorations :)

Then I decided to get creative and make up little gifts for the guests at my Tea.

I added two tea bags to each, a red one and a green one, along with some Kris Kringle chocolate balls and a candy cane. Then some twine and a tag and it was the perfect gift to give to each of my friends.

I even used one to hold some candy canes! I am sure this is just the beginning of the fun I am going to have using my canning jars.

Thank you Darcy for passing them along to me! I will think of you each time I use one :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tea Time

This year I decided to host a Christmas Tea for a few of my friends. I thought it would be a good opportunity for a visit before the rush of the Christmas season set in.

I made up my guest list, sent out an invitation and then did lots of baking and decorating and crafting - and I loved every minute of it! There is something to be said about preparing for a special visit with your friends. All the little details. Wanting everything to be warm and inviting as you open your home and heart to each guest.

I was excited to use the china tea set, Royal Albert Old Country Roses, that I inherited from my mother-in-law. I love any excuse to bring it out of the china cabinet and serve tea with it.

My baking included two of my all-time favorite recipes plus four new ones. I know it is always a bit risky to try something new when you are having company, but they all turned out to be amazing recipes!

First up was my Orange Cranberry Nut Loaf. I love it and I make it every Christmas!

Another Christmas favorite in our family are Cadbury Cookies! Fudgy, chewy, caramely delicious!

I then tried a new Sugar Cookie recipe that one of my scrapbook friends, Sharon, recently shared with us. Delicious! This recipe has definitely replaced my old sugar cookie recipe!

Then I made these incredible Lemon Dreams! Oh my! Can you say lemon heaven?

The next new recipe I tried was Ricotta Cookies. Yes - they actually have ricotta cheese in them! They are soft and not too sweet and with the Cream Cheese Icing they were divine!

Last up was this amazing Cranberry Almond Streusel Cake. I found the recipe on the internet and the ingredient list just sounded too good to pass up. Fresh cranberries. Sour cream. Streusel topping. The finished cake did not disappoint in the least! I can assure you I will be making this again!

So are you hungry yet? I will share the Cranberry Almond Streusel Cake recipe in this post and then I will post each of the other recipes in the next few days so you can try them for yourself. They are all keepers :)

Thank you my friends for stopping by for tea. It was wonderful to see you and to be able to spend some time visiting. May you each have a very merry and blessed Christmas.

Cranberry Almond Streusel Cake

2-1/2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups fresh cranberries
3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1-1/2 cups plain flour
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) salted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix together flour and baking powder. Butter a 9-inch square or round baking pan. (I used a 9-1/2 inch spring form pan.)

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, stir well. Add vanilla extract, almond extract, sour cream and the flour mixture. Beat until combined.

In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with sugar. Fold them into the batter; spoon into cake pan.

For topping: In a small bowl, work together sugar, flour and butter until crumbly; sprinkle on top of cake. (It will seem like a lot of topping, but add it all.)

Bake until golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes. When cool, remove cake from pan and place on cake plate. Dust with icing sugar before serving.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Little Red Wagon #59

It's Wednesday again and time for another fun challenge at Little Red Wagon! Regan has challenged us to use rub-ons on our project this week. I always have a stash of rub-ons so I pulled out a Christmas themed one from Pink Paislee and made this card.

The paper is MME and the Peace & Joy rub-on matched it perfectly! Then I made a paper flower and added a button and some twine. I also added three little gemstones under the sentiment.

Another pretty Christmas card that I can give to someone special! Thanks for the challenge Regan :) Hop over to Little Red Wagon to see all the other gorgeous cards that the Girlfriends have made. You are sure to be inspired!

Have a blessed day ~

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Baking Today

Today is all about Christmas cookies, nut loafs and a new Cranberry Almond Streusel Cake recipe that I want to try. Yes, the flour will be flying, the oven will be humming and the Christmas music will be playing.

Along with my traditional, make-them-every-year recipes, I thought I would try some new ones. So I picked up a couple of magazines and chose a few recipes that looked amazing. I can't wait to give them a try!

Martha would be proud :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Mantelscape

Our mantel and fireplace are fairly new - only a couple of years old - and I absolutely love being able to decorate it for the different seasons! Especially at Christmas! This year I added a couple of new things and it has created a lovely setting.

One thing that I did was purchase a small print on canvas that has a wonderful Christmas farmhouse and barn scene. Then I remembered an antique window frame that I had picked up a few years ago and I thought they might go really well together. I added the frame to my wall and then centered the print in the middle of it and I was really happy with the results!

Then I placed my garland with lights, some decorative boxes and old St. Nick.

Last, but not least, I hung the stockings that I made in my pre-scrapbooking life!

All together it has created a warm and comfortable feel. Now, on to the rest of my decorating...

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there." Clement Clarke Moore

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Little Red Wagon #58

Our challenge at Little Red Wagon this week is from Avril and she wants us to use a die-cut on our creation. Easy peasy!

Those of you who know me, know that I am a little bit bird obsessed. So for this week's challenge I made this card.

I used a Sizzix die from Tim Holtz that I totally love, love, love!

The papers are some MME that I had in my wagon and I added some American Crafts jeweled brads to 'bling' up the cage. To hang the cage I used some black floss that I tied into loose knots. Simple and sweet!

Now be sure to check out the fabulous creations that the Girlfriends did this week! Thanks for looking :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Favorite Photo

We had Christmas dinner with Mr. B's family this past weekend at a fabulous little restaurant in the village of Buckhorn, Ontario. It was a wonderful celebration and, as usual, I took lots of photos.

I always envy the professional photographers that can play with light settings, angles, backdrops, etc. and end up with stunning photos. For me it is strictly point and shoot and sometimes I get lucky with a photo that I particularly like. Like this photo that I took at the restaurant.

Next to our table was an antique washstand and I took a picture of it with the flash turned off. Other than that it was all automatic settings. When I downloaded it to my computer, I was amazed at how gorgeous it was. I love the soft light and the monotone feel of the picture. It is definitely my favorite photo of the weekend!

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