Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Teacher Gifts

Can't believe another school year has gone by!  I always wait until the last minute to search for the perfect teacher gifts.  This time, I came across this gift idea in the Close to my Heart Idea Book, using their Muslin bags, For a Friend stamp set, and Rosette ribbon.  (I also added a matching gift tag which you can't see in the photo). They were super easy to decorate - and stuff with goodies!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Baking Tips

I came across some useful general baking tips on this website and thought I'd share them:  
  • Ingredient Prep
    • Always make sure to read through a recipe start to finish - ingredients and instructions - before beginning. You may miss a crucial step needed in the preparation, or realize you need an ingredient that you're missing.
    • In recipes calling for apples, try using two or three different types for variety in the dish.
    • If your jam or preserves are a little too thick to spread, microwave them for a few seconds until they loosen up (but don't overdo it).
    • Don't use old yeast! It only has a shelf life of 3 to 4 months.
    • While you can buy many different tools to separate eggs, probably the best one out there is the shell itself. Just crack it open and catch the yolk in one half, and pour it back and forth until it's fully separated. You might not get it the first time, but practice makes perfect!
    • Measure out oil first before other ingredients like honey or peanut butter because it helps them not stick to the measuring cup. Alternatively, you can give the measuring cup a quick spray with Pam.
    • Butter softens best sitting out for an hour at room temperature, but if you need to speed it up, use the microwave - just make sure to put it on a lower setting or you'll end up with melted butter.  
    • Using room temperature eggs in your recipe will help them better incorporate into the rest of the ingredients.
    • Keep your brown sugar tightly sealed so that it doesn't harden. If it does, you can try and revive it by microwaving it next to a cup of water for two to three minutes.
    • Brown sugar is usually measured as a "packed" cup - which means you press the sugar down into the cup to make sure it's as full as possible.    
    • Happy Baking!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Mojo Monday #294

I hopped on over to the Mojo Monday blog to gather some inspiration to make a birthday card for my beautiful niece, Celine, who turns 17 today!!  Here's the fun card I made for her:

 Thanks for stopping by!

Card Recipe:
Paper:  Bazzill pink cs; Recollections patterned cs; kraft & white cs from my stash
Stamps: Verve "Birthday Surprise", "Making a Statement"; Gel-a-tins "Sewing Kit"
Inks: Stampin Up "Lovely Lilac"; CTMH "Black"
Embellishments:  Recollections pink, yellow & purple tiny pearls; CTMH glitter, Baker's Twine, buttons; Celebrate It sheer pink ribbon; Liquid Pearls
Tools:  Verve Rounded Scallop die; Cuttlebug; CTMH corner rounder; Martha Stewart punch; Staedtler watercolour pencils; 3D foam tape; Glue Dots

Tuesday, 7 May 2013


Welcome! What a gorgeous spring day! My tulips have finally blossomed, although I was somewhat disappointed to find out that I had planted a 'dwarf' variety.  For the last week, I kept wondering why my tulips were taking so long to grow in comparison to the already tall and blossomed tulips I'd been spotting in my neighbourhood.  Well, now I know that they were actually almost fully grown!  Nevertheless, tall or small, they're beautiful and represent Spring in a most cheerful way :))

Being in the great mood that I'm in today, I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce my incredibly talented husband, Jim Wagner.  At the risk of sounding like I'm boasting (although how can I not?), Jim is an amazing caricaturist, who adds SO MUCH FUN to any event that he's asked to come to including birthday parties, weddings, corporate functions, etc. (on top of being a great muralist and graphic design artist).  Here are some examples of his caricatures: 


Not only does Jim cartoon at a variety of events, but he can also create custom invitations for any occasion.  Framed caricatures also make great, unique, personalized gifts that are sure to impress and bring a smile to whoever receives a 'Jim Wagner Original' :)  

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Communion Invitations

I was asked to make some invitations as well as some menus (not shown) for the reception for a little boy's First Communion.  I kept the design clean and simple and used shimmered paper, metal crosses, and sheer ribbon to add some elegance:

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Thank You Cards

A friend of mine had a jewellery party and wanted to hand out some Thank You cards along with the orders when she delivered them.  She asked me to come up with something cute and simple:

Card Recipe:
Paper: Recollections
Ink: CTMH Black
Stamp Set:  CTMH 'A Garden'
Other:  Staedtler watercolour pencils; Liquid Glass; CTMH Edge Distresser

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Easter Decor

I wanted to share a fun Easter diy project that I found here via Pinterest.  This was super easy and fun for our whole family - my two young boys and yes, even Dad joined in! 

Here's our version:

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Dynamic Duos #40

When I saw the colour combo of turquoise and black (with a dessert option of clouds) over at Dynamic Duos, I knew I wanted to play along!

Spring is around the corner, although you'd never know it with this freezing cold weather!  Nevertheless, I decided to go with this theme.  I used 3 different quilling techniques on this card: fringing for the little flowers on the branches; spirals for the birds' nest, and grape rolls for the eggs (however you can't really see the quilling here because of the glitter used).  The tree branch was designed free-hand and cut out. For the birds, I heat embossed, glittered, and cut them out.  I wasn't sure where to place the sentiment, and finally thought it would be a fun idea to have the birds offer it in the form of thought clouds, which, I just realized, is another fun interpretation of the dessert theme!

Card Recipe:
Paper:  Patterned paper: Kaiserkraft; browns and white: Recollections
Ink:  CTMH Black; Versamark
Stamps:  Verve 'Making a Statement'
Embellishments:  Martha Stewart Turquoise Glitter, Stampendous! Opaque Black embossing powder; CTMH pearls
Tools: Cuttlebug; Cuttlebug die; hole punch tool

Thanks for looking!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Mojo Monday #279

I've been following the Mojo Monday sketch challenges over the past couple of weeks, and finally found some time to participate for the first time!  I had some patterned butterfly paper sitting around for a while and finally decided to put it to use:

Card Recipe
Papers:  Recollections Teal Butterflies, Signature Black (glittered), white, and peach; CTMH Pear and Dotty for You
Embellishments:  CTMH pearls; Michaels' Melodie and Lace trim; Jolee's Boutique clear gems
Tools:  Martha Stewart butterfly and scalloped circle punches; Spellbinders Classic Scalloped Circles; Fiskars Circle Cutter;  Cuttlebug polka dot embossing folder; quilling tool (for butterfly antennae); 3-d foam tape

Thursday, 7 February 2013


Anita and I both love our Microplanes!  We use it to zest lemons, limes, oranges, and to grate cheese with seemingly effortless ease!  If you don't already have one, we strongly suggest you pick one up.  You won't be disappointed!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Paper Players #130 & Dynamic Duos #37

2nd post of the day - a first for me!  Snow days are very productive around here!  After baking a batch of cookies (see earlier post on my Home page for a great double chocolate cookie recipe!), I had some time to finish off a card that I was working on for the following card challenges:
The Paper Players

 Dynamic Duos

Card Recipe:
Paper:  Patterned: CTMH 'Passages'; Recollections
Stamps:  Verve 'Amazing Wishes'
Ink: CTMH White Daisy
Emb: Jolee's Boutique flower; doily; CTMH Just Blooms, brads, Opaque Pearls, Canvas Badge, Twill ribbon, Hemp
Other: Cuttlebug EF; Verve Die

Thanks for stopping by! 

Double Chocolate Cookies

It's a snow day!  I just love snow days!  I'm home from work, my kids are home from school, and my husband's home too :)  Perfect occasion to bake up something yummy and fun (and maybe even make a card or two :) )

We all just love these cookies-they're soft with somewhat of a cake-like texture, and extra chocolatey:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup salted butter, softenened
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder.  Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, blend brown and white sugars and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed to form a grainy paste.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  • Add the flour mixture and chocolate chips.  Blend at low speed just until combined.  Do not overmix.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1-1/2 inches apart.  Bake for 18-22 minutes.  Immediately transfer cookies to a cool surface.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Life's A Journey

I was asked to make a fun, kid-friendly card for an elementary school teacher who was leaving her grade 2 class to move on to another job.  I thought of using either a sailboat theme, or road/path theme to compliment the sentiment, "life's a journey", but then I came across this hot air balloon stamp, and thought it would work best.

All the cute buildings and the sun were cut out from patterned cardstock - some buildings were cut out twice and pop-dotted, and, although difficult to tell in the photos, liquid glass was added to certain details to add brightness and dimension. The balloon was stamped, cut out, and embellished also.

Thanks for looking!

Card Recipe
Stamps:  Inkadinkado 'Inspirational Lift'
Ink:  CTMH Chocolate
Emb:  Martha Stewart glitter; CTMH Liquid Glass; Liquid Pearls; 3D foam tape
Paper:  Kaiser Craft, K & Company, Recollections

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Paper Players #129 & Dynamic Duos #36

Okay, this card proves that I am indeed a sucker for punishment!  I weaved some of my quilling strips to make the inside of the heart; I didn't have a heart-shaped die, but I had a heart-shaped cookie cutter (of course), so I traced it and cut it out with my Cuttle Bee; it looked a little plain, so I made some sparkly red lips (just to note-not a reflection of my own personal style!) using free clipart, and I made the sparkly paper by brushing glue on some black and red cardstock and sprinkling them with glitterPhew!  I was aiming for a masculine-looking card so that I could give it to my hubby on Valentine's Day.  I hope he appreciates my 'labour of love' :) 

I played along with The Paper Players and Dynamic Duos

Card Recipe:
Stamps:  CTMH 'Unity'
Ink: CTMH Black
Paper:  Recollections
Emb:  Martha Stewart glitter
Tools:  Cookie cutter(!), & Cuttle Bee

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Rice Pudding

Brrrrrrr.....A freezing cold day-20C with the wind chill!!!!  Makes me think of warming up with some comfort food like a nice bowl of chili - and for dessert: some creamy rice pudding.

Anita and I both love this rice pudding recipe.  I've been making it for years.  It can be served either hot or cold-I love it both ways.

Rice Pudding
  • 1/2 cup short-grain rice (I use Arborio)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 cups milk
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. or less cinnamon for sprinkling
  1. Combine rice with boiling water in a large, heavy saucepan.  Cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
  2. Combine sugar with cornstarch and salt.  Whisk in 1 cup milk.  Stir until smooth.
  3. Add sugar mixture and remaining milk to rice.  Combine well.  Add nutmeg and raisins.  Stirring, bring to a boil.
  4. Cover, reduce heat to barest simmer and cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until mixture is very creamy.  Stir occasionally.
  5. Stir in vanilla.  Transfer pudding to serving bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Serve hot or cold.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Banana Bread Bake-Off

I've been walking past the fruitbowl for the last couple of days, ignoring these lonely looking bananas, trying not to feel guilty knowing that they'd end up in the green bin if we didn't start eating them-and I knew there was no way we were going to do that before they over-ripened!

So I searched the internet for a banana bread recipe, and came across one on Pinterest that claimed it was the "best banana bread."   Of course I had to try it, but also made some changes to the recipe:  I subtituted baby bananas with mine, light brown sugar with regular brown sugar, and I used 2 loaf pans instead of one, which is why I think they turned out so flat.  Despite this, I have to admit, it was the best banana bread that I'd ever had, and I would make it again.  It had a nice, slightly dense and moist texture, although Anita insists her banana bread is better - so I've added her recipe below also :)

Here's the recipe with my adaptations: 

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly butter an 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" loaf pan (I used 2) and set aside.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
2.  Put the butter, honey, sugar, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Cream the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and add the bananas and vanilla on medium speed until the mixture looks broken, about 1 minute. 
3.  Turn the speed to medium-low and mix in the egg until incorporated, about 5 seconds.  Turn the speed to low and gradually add the sifted flour mixture, mixing just until no traces of flour remain.  Add the sour cream and mix until the batter has a few remaining white streaks.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Be sure to avoid over-mixing. You can also mix everything by hand in the order listed above, if preferred.
4.  Transfer the batter to the greased pan(s) and bake in the centre of the oven until a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Cool the bread in the pan for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool completely on a rack.

Here's Anita's recipe:

Chocolate Banana Bread
1 cup vegetable oil (or softened margarine)
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
6 bananas, mashed
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sour cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease 2 - 9"x5" loaf pans.
In a large bowl, cream together vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs.  Stir in bananas and vanilla.  Sift in flour, baking soda, and cocoa.  Mix well.  Blend in sour cream and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into pans.  Bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean.
*To make muffins, fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.
*This recipe is also easily halved.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Freshly Made Sketches #69

I was craving quilling!  Haven't quilled in so long and knowing how much my mom loves my quilling, decided to make her a birthday card with a quilled flower on it.  I chose to work with (I should say 'play with') this fun Freshly Made sketch.  I'm very excited to be playing along with Freshly Made Sketches for the very first time :)

Here's my card:

Card Recipe:
Paper:  Recollections
Ink:  CTMH White Daisy
Stamps:  CTMH 'Simple Memories'; Verve 'Small Phrases'
Emb: CTMH Mocha Opaques, sheer ribbon
Tools:  Cuttlebug embossing folder

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Pop, Pop, Pop!

SANTA brought our family a popcorn maker this Christmas :o) -not your regular air popcorn maker-but rather a stainless steel, stove-top "Sweet & Easy Snack Machine."  Take a look at this beauty:

 Check out the cute details like the embossed popcorn and the popcorn handle:

 Here's how it opens:
 This is what it looks like inside:

My husband decided that he wanted to make the first batch and of course, when I handed him the instructions, he tossed them aside adding,  "How hard can it be to make popcorn?"  Well, a little harder than he thought, it turned out:  Lots of black popcorn along with a burnt-popcorn-fume-filled house for his efforts (at least he tried, right?)  

My 10yr old son and I dared to try attempt #2.  This time, we followed the simple instructions of combining 1/2 cup kernels and 2 tbsp. oil (we used sunflower oil), and stirring slowly for the entire process (about 3 minutes).  We did this until we only heard an occasional 'pop':

And, just like the instructions promised, after 3 minutes or so, voila:

After adding melted butter and salt, we happily devoured a perfect bowl of delicious popcorn (with only 4 unpopped kernels left at the bottom of the bowl)!

This awesome machine also makes fun snacks and comes with recipes such as, "Cookie Explosion," "Almond Bark Nuts," and "Godfather Popcorn" (made with Italian seasoning). 
I have yet to try any of them, but will post them if I do.

Oh, and the best part (for me) is that as long as it's used for traditional popcorn making only, washing it is not necessary!!  A simple wiping with a paper towel will do :0)

Monday, 14 January 2013

Dynamic Duos Card Challenge #35

I chose another Dynamic Duos challenge as my first card challenge of 2013, hopefully the first of many :)

Although I had never worked with this colour combo, I was inspired (and challenged!) by the design team's gorgeous cards, especially Karen's beautiful rolled flowers :) My own rolled flower was made with a strip of paper that I punched with the same same design punch as I made the squared frame with.  I pushed myself to get this card done by today, as I'm giving it away tomorrow! 

Card Recipe:  Stamps: Verve 'Making a Statement'; Inks: CTMH Chocolate & Pear; Paper: Recollections; MS punches; CTMH Corner Rounder, Liquid Glass, Quilling Tool, Mocha Opaques gems; green twine, hole punch & 3D foam tape from my stash.