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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Milo and I make our second visit this morning as an official St. John's Ambulance Therapy Dog Team.

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Erin Condren-style Gift Enclosures

I recently learned about Erin Condren– an innovative designer of personalized stationery and paper items. She is most well-known for designing  a fantastic planner for those of us who are very busy – or not, as in my case. Her designs are colorful and I love seeing my name  all over the place!
I have blatantly lifted her design for some gift enclosures.
I used an old graphics program - Printmaster Gold, and opened up a new project in the “labels” section. I chose the Avery kid’s business card template because the business cards I was using came eight, as opposed to the usual ten, per sheet.
On the front of the card I simply added a shape – the rectangle with the rounded corners, and changed the color to shocking pink, and fitted it to the area of the card. Then I opened a new text-title for the “enjoy!” and changed the font color to ‘white’. Center everything on your page.
On the back, I added a text box for the ‘something for you from” and used the segoe light font in a custom color.
I added a line and changed the color to cocoa-brown, then added my name in the colors I used on the enclosure. For the circle graphic, I simply added a circle shape with a hairline border and arranged my solid-color shapes on the line as a guide, then deleted the circle. For the border, add a rounded rectangle, choose “no fill color” and then the color of your choice for the border color.
I hope you have some fun with this!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Super, El Lame-O Cheater's King Cake

For our Mardi Gras party, I was in a quandary about the King Cake.
If you're uninitiated, the King Cake is a Mardi Gras tradition. It's basically a cinnamon roll recipe in cake form, decorated with icing and green, yellow and purple sanding sugar.
Since I'm an expert with the bread machine (insert sarcasm emoticon here) I thought I was home free with the evening's piece de resistance. I had a tried-and-true cinnamon roll recipe that would be perfect as a King Cake. When I assembled all the ingredients and got ready to "bake", I discovered an essential part of my bread machine was missing, and the project was kaboshed.
I have to say that there's one good thing about dessert for a Mardi Gras party. People have had a lot of drinks and good food so that by the time dessert is served, it's basically a formality.
 I figured this would be one time when I wouldn't have to give one-hundred percent - when fifty would do! The Super El Lame-O Cheater's King Cake was born.                 
I won't include detailed photos and captions ("This is a fork."  "Careful: stove gets HOT!") because MY readers know their way around a kitchen, thank you very much!
 To make the Super El Lame-O Cheater's King Cake, all you need this:

Two packages of Pillsbury Grands Cinnabon cinnamon rolls
Green, yellow and purple sanding (decorative) sugar
Tube cake pan, sprayed with a bit of Pam

Open up all the rolls in the tube and place them on their sides in a tube cake pan. Tilt them slightly - it will look cute when it's done.
Bake approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven. Allow to cool.
Remove cake from pan, ice with icing that came in the rolls and decorate as desired with the colored sugar.
Take all the credit.
*If you want to include little charms, as is the tradition, just stick them in the underside of the cake but please, warn your guests!*

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Laissez le bon temps roulez!

It's time for our annual Mardi Gras party.
I've finished the masks that I started last week, and created some new ones in the meantime.
Mardi Gras has  become a big deal here but we do it on a small scale. We've purposely kept the party on the  actual Mardi Gras day because, damn - that's Mardi Gras! Usually our guest list is just Lisa and Jeff - the only people we know who can actually come out in the middle of the week and drink Hurricanes and eat jambalaya.
I made my first batch of Hurricanes a few years ago - passion fruit, lime, a tiny bit of grenadine and lots of rum. When you take your first sip and then steady yourself a little, you understand what New Orleans is all about. One sip of a Hurricane explains a lot!
At any rate, Mardi Gras is a great time to explore a new craft: mask-making! I'll share it soon but today Milo and I are off for our first solo therapy visit after completing our probation. After that it will be time to start on the King Cake!
Happy Mardi Gras, everyone.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I've never written about him before, but he's my buddy and he's awesome.
I had been riding Canaletto, a gorgeous, temperamental and big horse, for five years. Numerous falls and several horse-show disasters had left me scrounging around for one last shred of riding nerve. I was desperate to keep riding, but so afraid.

After several sessions with an equestrian sports psychologist (Janet Edgette), I was ready to face the hard truth: if I wanted to ride again, I needed a new horse.
Then Bob came into my life. He had been purchased at auction a year or so earlier and was languishing in the barn. I was invited to ride him; I remember that I was so nervous that I asked to be lead around! But the match-making proved successful and I started the next stage of my riding life. To make the fresh start complete, I moved from the barn where I had been riding for eight years, to a more clubby, chummier barn only a few minutes away from my house.
Bob was what's termed "soft and forward". That means that he moves lightly and obediently. He's wonderful in the barn - when I work around him I always know he's aware of where I am.
He enjoys attention and loves to greet visitors and friends in the barn. He actually prefers his stall over being outside: I think it may have something to do with that black-and-white coat: The Best of Both Worlds as Jenn Irwin put it! When we moved in I told Linda what a "hothouse flower" he is, and she didn't believe me at the time. He's also been known for his talent of getting out of his stall and letting his friends out as well. One morning he and his two paddock-mates were standing in the middle of the aisle. They had escaped and apparently had nothing to do once the job was done!
 We've been able to compete a lot - not at the week-long, uber-expensive recognized shows, but just anywhere with good footing and 2'6 fences. Bob has proven himself to  be extra-fun at shows. I rarely come home without at least one ribbon!
(The fifth, seventh and eighth photo are courtesy of Ian Woodley.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Masks So Far

FYI - this is a really fun project! It's a little messy, though. (But I will spare you the "Oh, I'm so messy and unorganized and adorable."  photo.)
I'll only make you look at  photos of some of the masks I've finished painting. Embellishment has yet to happen, but I'll keep you posted. I painted each mask on both sides with Modpodge prior to painting. Using a coarse emery board, I sanded the edges and some flaws to smooth them out. For a super-glossy effect on the painted surface, I used 3D Paper Lacquer. Only please - when you use that stuff, apply sparingly as it has a tendency to "expand".
If you need inspiration, just Google "Venetian masks" in Google Images and you'll hit paydirt.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What I did on a Snowy Day

I`m making Mardi Gras masks. I know it looks a little scary now - but with a little paint, some feathers here and there - trust me, it'll  be a masterpiece. I got the mask pattern from this site:
They have other patterns, too - so check them out!
If you've never heard of PaperClay before, it's in the aisle with all the Fimo at Michael's. It's a smooth block of - paper clay! I used about 1/5 of the block for each mask.
Choose a mask and cut out. (NOTE: the masks at the website I gave you need to be enlarged by 2 cm all around to make them fit an adult.)
Roll out very thinly (1/16 inch)  between two sheets of plastic wrap. Remove top sheet of plastic, lay template and cut around, making the holes for the eyes.
Carefully remove and place on a paper towel.
When drying but still pliable, form mask to your face and then place on a rounded surface (I used a big coffee can on its side).
This is important: Leave it alone without monkeying with it for 24 hours!
Wrap a damp paper towel around the exposed PaperClay. Save all scraps in that paper towel. Follow instructions n the package for storage.
I`m making more - so be on the lookout for more detailed instructions and hopefully some decent pics. Go buy some PaperClay - have some fun!