Friday, January 30, 2009

Sweetheart Cookies

This is going to be my last post until after tomorrow, my Winter Crop. I'm in the thick of the preparations and happy to say that everything is going fairly well. No kitchen mishaps as of yet.

Yesterday I finished the lunch dessert, Ultimate Sugar Cookies, tricked out with lots 'o sugary frosting with no nutritional value whatsoever. All empty calories. My favorite.

If you're inclined to make these sweet little sugar bombs, I put together a few tips for you. Just in case.

To save you some trouble.

First off, I like to use this little dough scraper to get the ginormous cookie shapes to the cookie sheet without too much distortion. It really helps. Also, make sure you're pushing it on with plenty of flour so there will be no sticking. Sticking stinks. It means you have to roll it all over again.

I experimented a little after the cookies came out of the oven, but were still sitting on the cookie sheet. My anal retentive gene sort of freaks out when the cookies puff out too much and lose their perfectly symmetric shapes. I've come to the conclusion that this was just dumb though. Don't waste your time. Deal with the puffiness and apply a little extra frosting to disguise the puff. I say this because this causes the edge of the cookies to crumble easily. And I don't like my cookies to crumble.

I do, however, recommend cutting any shapes you want out of the center after they bake. There are three reasons for this:

1) Trying to transfer a cookie shape with the center cut out onto the cookie sheet without distortion is dang near impossible. You could do this after transferring the shape to the cookie sheet, yes, but you still have the cold hard truth of number 2 coming at you.
2) When the cookie puffs, so will the center and you won't be able to tell what the center shape was supposed to be anyway. Trust me.
3) If you cut center shapes out after baking, you are then left with two perfect shapes to use.

During all this scientific exploration, I discovered that there were fewer chances for droppage if I transferred the cookie with cutter to my cooling rack before separating them.

On account of my mom never gave me ballet lessons, and she will disagree with me here, I am a super clutz. Just ask Peanut Head.

See how nicely it comes out with a little patience.

My super anal, unnecessary trimming of the outer edges left me with mass quantities of this nasty stuff. Cookie bits. Blech.

Whatever will I do with this by product?

Ooh look. The girlies are home from school. Time for a nutritious snack my Little Pretties. Bwah, ha, ha, ha . . .

Dang, give Drama Llama a little frosting and some sprinkles and she'll outdo herself. Stinkerbell was more into slapping the frosting on, and knocking it all back with a handful of sprinkles. Dainty, she is not.

I cannot share my cookies with you without first sharing this little guy from Pampered Chef. It's one of three from the Decorator Bottle set. I love these things so much because there is no squirtage of frosting out the opposite end when applying pressure. That, and they're super easy for kids to use.

The only negative is how to get the frosting in there in the first place.

To which I have a solution that works most excellently.

I spoon frosting into a zipper baggie, close it up, cut off a corner, and squirt it all in. It works.

Here we go, all set up and ready to make the ultimate mess.

This is a two-layer cookie, also known as Heart Attack. Get it?

I kill myself.

Another Heart Attack. I like them. The sugary kind anyway.

A swirly do. Whatever, I made it up.

Dot, dot, dot. Dork.

You know you want one.

And for my croppers, I had to have a scrapbooking specific cookie. The first year I made these I did a "Nail it Down" one for Smash because she over thinks everything and ultimately paralyzes herself in the process. It's maddening. We're always telling her "NAIL IT DOWN!"

Here's one more look before I nail you with the recipe card.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blog Book/StoryBook

My favorite truck stopped by my house yesterday. I love the UPS man. Who's not happy to see the UPS man/woman? They bring presents, never bills.

Yesterday he brought me this.

It's my Blog Book/Family Album that I finished last week.

Here's the cover. Isn't it pretty? I'm so excited!

Originally the plan was to slurp my blog on Blurb, but they no longer slurp Blogger blogs. Bummer.

However, my resourceful friend, Janet, has managed to copy and paste her Blogger blog into a Blurb book and is on the verge of ordering it. I asked her about the process, and she said that she was very happy with the number of templates available for her to use. And even if she could have slurped her blog, she probably would have been moving things around anyway because she wanted her captions to stay with their respective pictures. And she was able to do that in Blurb.

It's all about control. My friend.

So, I'm anxious to see her book once she gets it.

I went another route though. I ended up copying and pasting my blog into my Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus program and turning it into a 12x12 StoryBook.

Somewhere in the whole exhausting process, I decided to include my digi scrap layouts in their respective chronological order amongst my blog posts, and a huge mountain of responsibility lifted from my shoulders.

You see, I rationalized, if I've included some of my family pictures in a blog post already, I don't have to digi scrap said photos as well. Ding! I just killed two birds with one stone.

The only time I included the post with a digi scrap layout of the same pics was when I wanted to keep the story from the blog post with the pictures. I'm not always very good at including the entire story with my digi scrap layouts because that leaves less room for embellishments. Pretties.

I'm very happy with the result. I kept the blog post pages very simple and white, and just copied and plunked my posts right into the book. With StoryBook Creator Plus, I not only had complete control over the placement of my pictures, but control over the number and size of pictures on a page. Ditto with the font choice, size, color and drop shadow.

I could have put pretty paper for a background, but I didn't even want to open that can of worms. I wanted to get it done fast.

I'm very happy with the digi scrap layouts. They came out vibrant and gorgeous.

This book is going to fit nicely on my bookshelf. It will take up much less room than a scrapbook album for the same time period. I love that.

But, since I'm not the type to simply blow sunshine, here are the negatives.

1) The maximum number of pages that can go into a Creative Memories Storybook is 100, which is really 50 actual pages, 100 only if you're counting the front and back of the pages. For me, since I'm such a wind bag, that meant that my book includes only January through September of 2008 instead of the entire year as I would have liked.

2) You need a software program to be able to do this. You could do it with the StoryBook Creator Plus program and order the book from the Creative Memories Photo Center, or you could do it in PhotoShop Elements or some other digi scrap program and order it from Shutterfly.

3) My book, with shipping and sales tax included, was $261.35. I know! You think you're surprised, I'm still recovering from my heart palpitations.

However, I'm good at rationalizing when it suits me, and I know I would have spent more money and time trying to put all this into a scrapbook album at home, and it would have taken up much more space. I'm so happy with the results that I'm not even going to complain about the cost. And its ensuing financial crisis.

Did I mention that denial is my friend too?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Things that Lurk in the Medicine Cabinet

Leslie over at Stethoscopes and Stilettos tagged me with this medicine cabinet meme that she got from Supermommy. Like Leslie, I normally would be loathe to do this, but for her, I'm going to just suck it up and do it so she won't come and beat me to death with her stilettos. 

So, here's my main bathroom medicine cabinet. I'm showing you this one because this is the bathroom I use to get ready in the morning, such as it is. I don't do much because I'm so not a girlie girl, and I'm kind of lazy when it comes to non-mandatory grooming.

In fact, that little black bag up there is my very lonely make-up bag. Although I once wore make-up regularly, I detest wearing it for the following reasons:

1) My face feels like it's suffocating. When I wear it, I long to get home and scrub my face with soap and sandpaper.

2) I have a no-neck, so any make up on the jaw line will always end up on my collar bones. Seriously, I am not kidding. When I look at pictures of myself I think, Why is my head stuck on my shoulders like that? 

3) I knew I had a problem with make-up the day I was gazing into my boyfriend's eyes and I thought he would look much better with a bit of mascara.

4) When I did wear make-up regularly, I got so used to seeing myself with it on, that mornings were quite alarming for me and I couldn't leave the house without it. Then when I met Peanut Head, I decided before our first date to quit cold turkey. He was going to see the real me, so as never to be surprised at my no make-up face, ginormous volcano zit and all, and if it scared him, so be it.

So, the make-up is lonely, but we have one product in our cabinet that gets some heavy-duty daily use. If I could buy it by the gallon, I would. It's this:

The detangle spray.

Need I say more?

Although Girlfriend here could use a few swipes with an eyebrow pencil, don't you think?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sweetheart Punch

My Winter Crop is coming up this weekend, so I'm sharing my recipe for Sweetheart Punch with you. Peanut Head and I just made this one up because we needed a pretty, Valentiney drink. We experimented and this is what we came up with. I hope you like it. Enjoy!

Paper and embellishments from Pandemonium kit by Mindy Terasawa at Designer Digitals.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Valentines and a Giveaway!

I got the girls' valentines done yesterday. Whoo Hoo!

This is one of the things I love about digi scrapping--I can make my own Valentines and invitations fast and cheap.

This is the stuff I used to make them. I found the pencils at Wal Mart, 12 for $1, and I got the lollipops there too.

The lollipops came in a bouquet of 5 like this, and each bouquet is $1. Not bad considering Michael's sells one heart lollipop for $.39!

I made the Valentines in my Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus program and most of the digi supplies were FREE at Shabby Princess.

This is what the Valentine's look like without the treats on them. Pretty simple and fun.

So, here's the giveaway part. I'm going to design these same valentines for three lucky commenters. I'll make the cards and post the winners on my blog, then, if you win, you can grab your cards and upload them to a photo center near you. Or, I could e-mail the JPEGs to you, if you prefer. Here's what you need to do:

1) Post the pictures of each of your children on your blog with their first name. Or you could even have a card made for yourself. Who says Valentines are just for kids? This is how I will sneakily get the winners' pictures without them being aware that they've won. In your blog post, you should link back to me, telling your readers about the giveaway.

2) Leave a comment in this post telling me that you've completed the above and you'll be entered twice.

If you do not have a blog, you can still participate but you will only have the ability to enter once. Just e-mail your pictures with first names attached to and then leave a comment telling me that you've done so.

Good Luck!

OOPS, I forgot a very important piece of information. This contest ends at midnight, January 31st.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ribbon, Glorious Ribbon

Check this out. Michael's put their ribbon on sale this week and it turns out that I needed some more ribbon. Honest.

I can tell because I keep my ribbon in rainbow order and some colors were lacking a bit.

Plus, just in case Peanut Head gave me grief about it, I could prove it to him with a colorful spreadsheet.

See, if there's an x, I have it. No x, have not and must have.

Unfortunately Michael's didn't have all the colors I needed. Fortunately, I couldn't afford it all right now anyway. Michael's saved me from a financial crisis.

It turns out this spread sheet was a great idea because I tend to do this.

This is all the ribbon I have duplicates of. I would say it's sad, but I know I'll run out of these and have to buy more at some point. So, I'm just pretending that I'm stocking up. My ribbon storage for hard times so to speak.

Ooh, I think Peanut Head has his angry eyebrows on.

Cover your butt and use this ribbon inventory sheet yourself the next time you go a shoppin' for ribbon. Click on it before you save it to your computer, and you'll get the best resolution possible.

I'm going to keep mine in my purse so I can always snap up a hot deal. What about you? Are you ready to buy some ribbon?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Penne With Five Cheeses

This, my friends, is the most amazing pasta dish I have ever eaten in my life. Seriously. It's from the Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook, and it's pretty dang easy to make too.

Don't be put off by the five cheeses, they are what make this dish what it is. And yes, the cheese will be a little spendy the first time you make this, but you won't use all of it that first time and can save it to make the dish again and again. In fact, I have made this dish at least four times, and I still have not used all the cheese I bought for it. I keep it in my freezer, then just thaw and grate what I need, then put the rest right back in the freezer for the next glorious time I want to put this dish on our table.

I should probably point out that I didn't include the word imported in front of the pasta or the Fontina cheese as the original recipe states. That's because I live in Idaho and this is not a fancy place. I get what's in my grocery store and I won't be toodling all over town looking for overpriced fancy cheese. It makes no difference in this case. I promise. Enjoy it and go for seconds.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Still Working on 2008 Layouts

I did a few more layouts for 2008. I'm desperately trying to finish so I can get my book made.

After finding out that I couldn't slurp my Blogger blog through Blurb anymore, I started the tedious task of cutting and pasting my blog entries into a StoryBook. I'm not going to be able to fit an entire year into one book, so I've decided to just get in what I can and then start another book where I left off.

I also decided, after much hand wringing, that I'm going to combine my digital layouts with my blog entries. So much of what's on my blog belongs in my digital family album, so it seemed silly to me to keep them separate.

Plus, the bonus for me is that I don't have to digitally scrap every picture. What a relief that is. It makes the whole project seem that much more manageable.

My book is chronological so I might have two layouts on facing pages, and then six pages or so of blog posts before I have another layout. I'm just copying and pasting the blog posts and putting them on a plain white background to set them apart (and make things quick and easy).

I'll be sure to share it with you when I get the finished product in my hot little hands.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

If The Shoe Fits . . .

While eating dinner this evening, Zoe asked us why we had to go to Sunday school. Peanut Head replied, "You never want to stop learning. Throughout your life you should always be learning."

Then I jumped in "Yes, you learn at Sunday school, from reading books, the computer, at school, and all around you. You are always learning."

Zoe looks a little annoyed and replies "Well everything I learned about animals, I learned from books. I don't learn anything from school."

I had to correct her at this point, "Actually, Zoe, you've learned a lot about science and ecosystems at school, so that's not true. Your teacher has taught you a lot of science recently."

"Yeah, except I don't get the lessons."

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"Well, an inference (pronounced super snotty, like a teenager would do it) is supposed to be a guess, but I don't get why they call it an inference, why don't they just say guess?" she says, rolling her eyes dramatically.

To which I reply, "Well, you know how Fancy Nancy likes to use fancy words for everything? Scientists are just like that. They use fancy words to make themselves feel special and so no one else knows what they're talking about."

At this point, Peanut Head starts choking and spraying milk out his nose because he knows I'm talking about him. Hey, if the shoe fits . . .

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kitchen Mishap Number 1,89 . . . Oh Forget It. Who's Counting Anyway?

I made these cupcake pops today. Aren't they cute? Yes, they are, but I'll tell you what, they taste like crap. I'll elaborate in a minute.

Today I tried to be Bakerella. I love Bakerella. She's my blog crush.

So I thought I was going to be Bakerella, and I made her famous cupcake pops.

I will never do it again. Leave the miniature baking magic to the queen. She was on Martha Stewart even, so you know she's good.

Here's why the cupcake pops taste like crap.

It's these nasty, waxy candy melt things. They are very pretty when melted, but they taste like a cheap, waxy, cheap, nasty imitation chocolate Easter bunny. No lie.

And this is imitation chocolate flavored Almond Bark. Hideousness, I should have known.

I particularly sucked at the dipping the cup part of the cupcake in the pretend chocolate. I kept dipping the wrong end. Over and over and over again.

After the twelfth pop, I said "Life is too short for this mess of a baking adventure," and I threw it all away. Except for the non-rejects, that is.

Once I got to this point, and I just had to dip the cake end of the cupcake in the pink waxy hideousness, it wasn't bad.

Then I stuck the M&M on top and sprinkled some sprinkles, and I think they turned out pretty cute. But that's as far as I go. They are nastiness personified.

I will say though, that the kids loved them. But they like cheap, waxy imitation chocolate Easter bunnies too.

If you want to see how a professional does it, go to the real Bakerella.