Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A virtual Christmas card from us to you...

open to...

Finally, I got all of the printed versions in the mail yesterday. I still have a few hand delivers that are awaiting a tray of cookies to go with. This card idea came to me after finding yet another vintage Scrabble game (favorite) at a holiday flea market. At home, as I stared at and moved around those gorgeous wooden letters, I saw XMAS. When I discovered that I could fit MERRY XMAS on the wood rack, I completely geeked out and went at it with full force. Using a Photoshop trick or two, I turned our family into scrabble tiles adding a point value to correspond to ages. (okay one age is slightly questionable...I wanted to see who was paying attention ; )

With several design projects happily at the printer, cards mailed and presents wrapped, I've officially put myself on vacation. My hubbie and I purchased a rug pad for my office rug, installed badly needed new blinds and completed little odd ball fixes around the house that have been crying out for attention for many, many months. Projects that give me tremendous JOY now that they are done. Me and my little cooks are planning to heat up the kitchen with cookies and a feast for Thursday. We have family coming into town for Christmas day and several days after so we're looking forward to entertaining and enjoying our time together.

I'm taking some time away from here, but I'll be back after the new year. 'Til then happy, safe and cozy holidays to you along with lots of PEACE, HOPE, LOVE and JOY.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eye candy

I managed to hold myself back and only produce six varieties this year...that being from top left, peppermint crunch, bear claws, caramel swirl pretzel rods, toffee bars, monogrammed chocolate D's and chocolate covered Oreos. yummmmm...

These little chocolates were new for me this year. I was at the counter, ready to purchase all of my candy making supplies, when I spotted the monogram candy molds. I'm a sucker (catch that candy pun?!) for type so the D mold quickly found itself in my cart. The helpful candy lady, sensing my enthusiasm about the prospect of making initial chocolates, pointed out the little foil wrappers in aisle three. She explained how to wrap the hardened chocolate and then lightly rub the front of the candy to make the D show through the foil. How cool is that?

Dare I say, I got a bit carried away? Although easy enough to make, wrapping all of these little guys took some time. I caught my hubby rolling his eyes once or twice at my idea of "scaled back" candy making. Worth it in the end, the red foil D's were the perfect bits of sparkle to pull the whole candy box presentation together.

Here's a peek into one of the final boxes for friends, family and teachers. Next week cookies. Let's wait until January to talk about the gym.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mixing it up

These days things are definitely mixed up around here with the normal design/illustration work, family life and a roaring-down-the-highway holiday fast approaching. Is Christmas really only two weeks away?! I remember as a kid when that seemed like forever. Now I'd give anything to sneak a few more present wrapping, candy making, cookie baking, card addressing, gift crafting days in between now and then. In the midst of the holiday happenings, I have five pieces in this show including the one on the above flyer over the words "Opening Night".

Here's another piece in the Mixed show. For my latest series, I've been adding my spin to old fashioned sayings the first being "If the Shoe Fits" and now "All of Your Eggs". I've always thought there was a lot of wisdom connected with the eggs in a basket phrase on so many different levels. Whether it be about finances or compartmentalizing one's self. Both are stifling and even downright risky. If all energy is concentrated in a single area what happens if that one area doesn't hatch? The egg out of the basket is the one that is hatching wings and will soon be flying. It's about mixing it up—mediawise and otherwise.

Note: "All of Your Eggs" will be available as a print in my Etsy store later today.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The one

Every year, we go through the routine. They all look rather similar, but that never stops us. We have to spend ridiculous amounts of time searching for the one.

Every year, five different perspectives of "perfect tree" wander around the tree farm or in this year's case the tree lot. We take our time debating which tree deserves a shot at being our Christmas tree. The height, prickle factor, branch sturdiness, shape, price (hello recession), bare spots, trunk posture and overall 'look' are all factors that go into this monumental decision. Does it matter that much? After the decorations, don't they all kind of look...well...the same?

maybe. However it just wouldn't be Christmas without the evergreen ritual and getting to finally say, "That's our tree." And if we're all still speaking after the annual outing, even better.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Future architects

My three kids woke up this morning expecting chocolate coins and oranges in their shoes in honor of St. Nick Day. Instead, St. Nick chose to bring each a gingerbread house kit of their very own. That Nick is a smart guy. Besides being a great time filler, one house kit per kid means no fighting over the icing bag or how many gummy this or gummy thats the other one has.

It was a perfect winterish day for a project like this with the first real snow of the season going on outside. It was the kind of day that begs for hot chocolate and gingerbread decorating. And while I'm not a big fan of store bought baked goods, a gingerbread house is the exception to my rule. It is wonderful to be able to get to the constructing and the decorating with everything you need in one kid-friendly kit. Besides gingerbread houses are more crafting than baking in my opinion.

After the three decorated their houses, I chose to mix them in with our ceramic Christmas village. I think the edible variety look right at home. Unfortunately I can't guarantee that they'll make it through the season. Hansel and Gretel have already been caught in the act.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cheesecakes roasting...

One of my very favorite December things to do is to bake the special treats that get saved for holidays. My mom introduced us to these super easy, kid-baker-friendly (very important), six ingredient, mini homemade cheesecakes that not only taste good, but look festively impressive. They're a big hit around here especially at Christmas and Valentines, and like I said, a cinch to make. Here's how.

First, line mini muffin tins with paper (candy size) baking cups.

Next place one mini vanilla wafer in each baking cup rounded side facing up. The mini wafers will serve as your cheesecake crust. Note: Make sure you get the mini kind. Regular size wafers won't fit.

Then, beat 2-8 oz. packages of softened cream cheese until fluffy. Add 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2/3 cup of white sugar. Beat until smooth and thoroughly combined. Fill each mini baking cup 2/3 full with cream cheese mixture...approximately 1 tablespoon in each cup.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

Finally, top with cherry pie filling when cool. Refrigerate for several hours and serve. Now how easy was that?!

A special shot out to Cool Mom Picks for featuring my Frustration Pencil Kits on their site today! Frustrationpencilwise, as of tonight, I am down to red, pink and the special holiday kits. I'll try to add more to the shop in time for Christmas, but I can't guarantee. If you're interested in having a kit for the little cheesecakes on your list you might want to head over there and grab one (or two). Thanks so much for your support of my newest venture. And if I haven't said it lately, thank you for your comments too! I love reading what you have to say.

12/4 update: Red kits are now sold out.