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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cheater, Cheater, Cheater!

Oh, the things I have come up with to save time or money and to still have all the little luxuries I want. We got on the topic of Bath & Body Works on our CT Forum and it reminded me that I should share some of my tricks here!

I'm a sucker for home fragrances. I love matching the scent of my house for each season or holiday. I already mentioned the Bath & Body Works Autumn Leaves room spray I'm currently using and my stockpile of The Perfect Christmas - Winter has begun! Here are some tricks to scent your whole house without going broke:

Room Sprays: They're not just for the air! I spritz door wreaths and silk flowers with them to help keep the house smelling delightful throughout the season. These items will hold the fragrance for a couple of days. If you have potpourri or those decorative balls made out of wicker, bark or other natural items, spray them, too. You can also spray a bowl of pinecones, strands of garland, hanging stockings and the christmas tree skirt to keep the whole house smelling magical! (Don't spray your tree if it has christmas lights - the spray is flammable!)

Sneaky Entry Way Trick: Lightly spray the backs of your christmas cards when you recieve them and display them near the front door. This will ensure that at least the entry will smell nice for unexpected visitors! Even better, tuck a bottle of spray behind the cards for "emergency" spritzes. ;)

Home Fragrance Oils: I stock up when Bath & Body Works has them on sale for $5 or less. In addition to using them in a warmer, I add them to the same-scented candles I buy to double the fragrance. It works very well!

Sneaky Votive Trick: Instead of throwing down for scented votives that I may not be able to use up, I make my own scented ones when I need them. Partially burn a regular, unscented votive and then dump out most of the melted wax. Place the votive in it's holder and immediately fill the now-empty center with home fragrance oil and re-light. Scatter throughout the house as you normally would. Add oil as needed while burning to maintain the fragrance. Use cinnamon oil in a tea light and place it inside Jack-O-Lanterns at your halloween party for a nice, pumpkin spice scent. Your friends will wonder why your cheap votives smell so good!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Kind of Jack-O-Lantern are You?

How funny is this. An online quiz actually got something right! It just so happens I am going to be a pirate for halloween! LOL!

What Your Jack-o-Lantern Says

You are a gleeful, exuberant person.
You enjoy a good party, and you even enjoy a good brawl.

This Halloween, there is no question what you should be... a pirate!
The candy you should give out: peanut butter cups

Ugh. I am not a peanut butter cup fan. We're handing out KitKats and little toy prizes. ;)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Goodbye Parmesan!

You'd never guess by the contents of my fridge but I am quite partial to gourmet cheeses. Gouda is my absolute favorite! And, despite how many packs of string cheese are in the crisper drawer right now, I have pretty good taste. Here's my newest find:

I was at the store two weeks ago, rushing to get my impatient, howling child one of the crossiont samples, when I passed by a new cheese display full of beautiful, crumble-textured wedges. The smell of the hard cheese was divine - something similar to parmesan - but this was much heavier in fragrance. I tried one of the samples and was blown away by the robust flavor. It was much better than any brand of parmesan I'd ever had. I flipped one of the wedges over to search for the name: Grana Padano. The $13.99 lb price barely swayed me but the thought of cooking a full italian dinner over the stove in the 88° heat left me pouting. I resolved to come back for it soon.

A cold front hit last night and when my dinner plans suddenly included a few more people, I added it to the grocery list. Just my luck, it was on sale this week! My Tomato & Grana chicken is in the oven with french bread waiting to be garneshed and toasted. It smells delicious! If your local store has it, you simply must try it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thank You. A Million Times Over!

Not all random acts of kindness should go unsung. And I owe someone (she knows who she is) a very big thank you. I'm in awe of her talents and so deeply appreciative of her generosity. You'll notice a difference but I must confess that it is her magic I have learned from - the credit isn't mine. Lots of love to those who live with me in a world of dreamy vibrance and work to re-create it's scenes for the enjoyment of all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

They're DONE! Holiday Card Samples Ready Now!

Oh my goodness, I can't believe all fifteen new designs are finally done and up online! I actually have a few more styles not shown but those will follow shortly. Without further delay, here they are!

There are several different styles that fall into two categories: Whimsical & Elegant. All are 100% unique and certain to stand out among the crowd! Prices are listed on the site at the bottom. In case you were wondering, here are a few of my favorites:

Great Big Special Thank Yous To:

Miss Mint: For commercial use of her Bracket Mat Custom Shapes (special license required)
Kelsey Call Photography: For supplying tons of stunning photos to dress up my example cards!

My CT Members, Family & Friends: For letting me use their beautiful faces alongside names that aren't even theirs! (All names are ficticious.)

Other Fun Stuff: I'm throwing in free blemish removal on your holiday photo with a card purchase and have listed significantly reduced photo touch-up prices. (This is simply because the final photo will be small, making my work easier than the usual canvas-sized photo edits I do.)

I'm also encouraging clients to use fun photos and unique holiday wording. Your recipients KNOW you wish them a Merry Christmas before they even open the envelope. Why not make them roar with laughter with an unexpected phrase instead? Your card is sure to be the one passed around the office, shown to all the neighbors and placed prominently on display!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Brunch Recipe

As requested, here's the recipe for the bread loaf I brought to the Yak n Sak brunch today. It is based on the "Cranberry Cobblestone Bread" recipe from a Pampered Chef cook book but of course, I figured out a way to cheat. ;) Sorry, I forgot to take a picture before it was eaten...

Tay's Totally Cheating Cinnamon Raisin Cobblestone Bread

Prep Time: 45 minutes • Baking Time: 30-45 minutes

2 cans of refrigerated cinnamon rolls (8 count) with icing packets
4 tablespoons melted butter or something resembling butter
1/4 cup raisins
Cinnamon & sugar for sprinkling

Spray any size bread loaf pan with cooking spray. Unwrap the cinnamon rolls, remove one and set the remainder on a plate for the time being. Unroll the cinnamon roll and cut the dough into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch long chunks using clean kitchen scissors. Repeat for the rest of the can, until the bottom of your bread loaf pan is covered in dough chunks. Using a table spoon, dribble half of the melted butter over the dough pieces and evenly distribute half of the raisins over the top of both. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. (About 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar.) Repeat cutting up the next can of cinnamon rolls and then sprinkling the top of the loaf with the remaining butter, raisins, cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 375° for 30-45 minutes total, tenting foil over the loaf during the last 20 minutes to prevent the edges from over-browning. Cool the loaf before removing it from the pan. Clip the corner off the first icing packet and drizzle it's contents running in one direction (horizontally or at an angle running from left to right) and then repeat with the second frosting packet, running the drizzle the opposite direction to create a cross-hatched icing pattern. Serve warm.

This was a very pretty brunch item that has a great presentation but is messy to serve. If you'd like to serve the bread in slices, which looks more elegant, cut your cinnamon roll dough into larger 1 to 2 inch long chunks and try to lay them more uniformly in the pan, as opposed to piling them randomly as this recipe calls for.

For Gift Giving: After icing the top, let the loaf sit for one to two hours until the icing becomes set and then wrap in clear plastic and deliver.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quick Update

When it rains a little it pours. At least a little. Aiden got sick the day before Super Saturday but it was kind of a blessing in disguise. None of the dramatic early-morning phone calls got me worried because I was rushing all over town trying to get him to the pediatrician and pick up his perscriptions, on top of last-minute Hobby Lobby runs. He had a yeast diaper rash from the 3 week 'yuhgut' food jag he was on with a little common cold that struck right behind it. I cut the yogurt from his diet on Wednesday as soon as I suspected a yeast rash and the perscription has worked wonders in just 3 days. He should be feeling better and back to sneaking the tiny Dannon kids drinkable yogurts from the fridge by tomorrow!

The craft day went well. We blew a couple fuses with our power tools (read: hair dryers & electric sanders) but I think everyone had a good time. I'm not going to be in charge of it next year. It about killed be to be surrounded by all the paint and spray glitter and not create anything myself! Instead I'll teach a craft next year and console the other poor soul who has her entire summer hijacked by the event. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. It's just that I'm that bad when I'm put in charge. I can't handle my own anality! LOL!

The rest of my week should be filled with some halloween fun and lots of baking. I'm continuing the tradition of making caramel apples and kettle corn this year plus we'll probably throw in a batch of orange, black & purple sprinkled sugar cookies too. Of course there's a pumpkin to carve, candy to buy and costumes to try on! Should be exciting!

Today Brian and I talked about Christmas plans. Unlike the last FIVE years, I have not begun my serious holiday shopping. I have, um, three gifts bought and none of them wrapped. And this year I just don't care! I'll get it done, but I have wasted all my energy freaking out over super saturday so Brian should have a pretty stress-free holiday! LOL!

I'm expecting Halloween kits from my designers soon. I'll post pictures if I do anything creative!