Friday, December 30, 2011

How To Package Gift Cards

I always struggle with how to package gift cards.  Because for me, the best part of Christmas is the gift wrapping.  That's not even an exaggeration.  Hands down, my favorite part of the holiday!  But I usually give family teenagers gift cards because I just never know what to buy those boys and that's all they really want anyway.

This year I used some Chinese takeout boxes (they are new- from the craft store) and paper shred.  Very simple but I thought it really jazzed up a boring little gift card. 

Simply add some paper shred to the bottom of the box.  Place gift cards or scratch lotto tickets or movie theater tickets in the center.  Add more paper shred on top of the cards/tickets.

Tie a bow to the handle- simple for a boy and as fluffy and elaborate as you can imagine for a girl.  And there you have it.  Very easy but more fuss than a plain envelope.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Easy Bow

OK so I threw this together when wrapping gifts a few days before Christmas and never had time to blog it.  But the idea applies to any girly gift.  So you can certainly do this with birthday gifts too.

So simple really.  I love gift toppers.  And I love beautiful bows.

I found this hair bow in the $1 section at Target a while ago and saved it.  I knew I'd find a use for it eventually.  So instead of making a big loopy bow on this one gift for a special little girl, I just tied the ribbon in a knot and clipped the hair bow on top. 

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  And cute too!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

War Horse


Several weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a pre-screening of the new film, War Horse.  Having little knowledge of the film prior to viewing, I wasn't exactly sure what I was in for.  It sounded like it might be about a war or horses, neither being my cup of tea normally.  But it was directed by Stephen Spielberg, and his work is often flawless.  I was curious and do love a chance to see a I went.

Let me just say here and now that I think everyone should go see this movie!  The cinematography was stunning.  The story, based on both a children's novel and a Broadway play, was powerful and emotional and just plain awesome.  I cried a lot.  It's not giving anything away to say that there are many peaks and valleys in the film.  I think that impressed me the most about the story- how there were so many surprising twists and turns.  It has a broad appeal too, as both men and women will enjoy it.  Honestly, I am not into horses at all.  It doesn't matter a smidge.  I've been praising this film to the moon and back for weeks.  My only advice is to bring a box of tissues. 

Bottom line: War Horse is phenomenal!  Emotionally exhausting but completely fabulous!  I loved it!  I cannot stop telling people to go see this film.  I mean, I've heard mediocre reviews at best about other big films out right now.  Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to War Horse.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

I was not asked to do a write up of any sort.  The post and all opinions within are my own.  I just really really loved this movie and wanted to share in case y'all were looking for a recommendation.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Most Bizarre Airport Story

I have been meaning to type this story up for more than a month now.  Nearly two months actually.  That is how far behind I am in blogging (and everything else in my life).  Eeks! 

So background.  I went to the November AJLI ODI in Orlando with one of my fellow Junior League board members.  I thought for sure I would get to meet some of y'all there but when I asked and asked on Twitter, no one spoke up that they were coming too.  Bummer.

Anyway, we flew Southwest and had a stop at BWI.  This was the Thursday before the conference. 

So we are in the Southwest terminal of BWI after getting dinner, just waiting for our flight that is still a good hour away from leaving.  We're right next to the check in stand and also next to the rocking chairs.  When we hear a commotion sort of right behind us.  Whip our heads around to see an old lady, who was not a day shy of 75, fussing at the Southwest representative.

It seems that the flight was overbooked and this lady was the last to check in (it never ceases to amaze me how many people are unaware that you need to check in online 24 hours in advance) so she was on the bump list unless/until they could find others willing to give up their seats.  And she was screaming mad about it.  The SW rep was trying to explain that they were very sorry and would ask for volunteers to give up seats but had to wait until closer to the flight.  But the old lady would not let the SW lady get a word in edge wise.  She just kept screaming "They stole my seat, they stole my seat!" at the top of her lungs and waving her fingers in the face of the SW rep.

The finger waving and up in her face became an issue though.  The SW rep must have asked her to calm down and take a step back a dozen times.  But it just fired the old lady up more.  When the SW rep warned that she would have to call security if the old lady didn't take a step back, the old lady then starting screaming "Go ahead and call them to arrest me!  You stole my seat!!  Just arrest me!"

So security was called.  Rightfully so.  You can't just act like that in an airport (or anywhere but especially an airport) these days.  However, this is where things get strange.  Er.  Stranger.

So it takes BWI security a good 10-15 minutes to appear.  Not even kidding.  So let's hope if there is ever a major concern at an airport, it's not in Baltimore.  While waiting for security, the old lady was going back and forth to her wheelchair (which she clearly did not need as evidenced by all her standing and flailing and walking about) to put her bags in the seat of the wheelchair.  Then she would take up screaming again at the SW rep.  And sometimes to anyone who would listen.  Eventually, security starting rolling in.  Literally.  Two arrived on those stand up scooter things.  And others meandered over.  Taking their sweet ole time.

Now one might think that the eventual appearance of 6-8 airport security officers would make one hush up and sit down with her tail between her legs.  One might think.  But not in this case.  Oh this only added to the drama.  Because now not only was the old lady causing a scene, but just the grouping of the crackpot security team around her make it appear like a scene.  If you know BWI, you know that this is taking place sort of at the start of the Southwest wing.  So every single flight that was going in and out of there played wittiness to this.  And when a flight down the way would let out, there would be this mass flux of people.  As soon as the increased passenger flow began, she would wail louder and louder.  "You stole my seat!"  And it got more elaborate to also include, "I need to get to Orlando for my surgery tomorrow!  I am having surgery and now I can't get there because you stole my seat."  All the while, the SW rep is still trying to explain that if she will please just calm down she will work to find her a seat. 

But this lady was off her rocker.  She then began getting in the face of not only the SW rep but also the one female security officer (The other 5-7 male officers just stood there, saying not a damn thing, in a circle, like bumps on a log, making matters worse.  Not helping at all.).  She was waving her hands in their faces and screaming at them and was completely confrontational. 

So after another dozen warnings and pleas to calm down, they put handcuffs on her!

Oh it gets worse...

This cuffing happened to take place exactly as a big flight was getting off a plane so there were maximum viewing opportunities.  Dozens of people standing there videoing it on iPhones.  Adding fuel to old lady fire.  So what does she do when handcuffed?  Well she doesn't take it lightly.  But does take it lying down.

So as they are cuffing her, she is WAILING at the top of her lungs that they are breaking her arms and begging onlookers to please help her.  Those just getting off planes, have not seen the 25 or more minutes leading up to this, so they are all shouting at the crackpot BWI security team to let her go. 

Chaos, y'all!

Eventually, they get her handcuffed.  But they use two sets of cuffs so that one set is on the right arm and the second set is on the left arm and the two extra cuffs are linked together.  So her arms are behind her back but not tightly behind her back. 

She is still WAILING that they have broken her arms, she is having surgery tomorrow, and of course, stolen her seat.

And that's when it goes from bad and bizarre, to worse.

She.  Lays.  Down!  Just plops down on her back and "broken" handcuffed arms.

To recap.  Old lady somewhere in the range of 70-100.  Agile.  Crazy.  Screaming and in your face mad.  25 mins later, finally handcuffed.  Now flops down on the ground.  In the middle of one of our nation's busiest airports.

But because she is now refusing to get up off the ground and claiming broken arms and much needed surgery, the crackpot security team won't touch her.  Not a finger.  Lawsuit-itis.  So they call paramedics.  Who, in the vein of the crackpot security team, also took their sweet time showing up.  A good 10 or more minutes later, two paramedics roll up with a gurney to a scene of complete chaos.

You don't think that the lady was quiet on the floor do you?  Oh no no no.  Every time the crowds would die down, she would be quiet.  But three minutes later when there were new crowds, she would get back into full swing.  Wailing and screaming. 

So one of the paramedics keeps asking her to get up but she says she can't because her arms are behind her back and now broken.  And she needs surgery tomorrow.  And they stole her seat.  And the additional, "my mother just died."  At that point I starting laughing.  There is no way her mother just died.  Unless you consider 50 years ago "just."  At this point I am lined up in my A line to board.  As we were all lining up, a lady next to me says, "you know, I was walking up to the stand to offer her my seat when the security team showed up and made everyone back up."  So if the crazy lady would have just calmed down for 30 seconds, all of this could have been solved. 

As I was walking to board, the paramedics convinced security to uncuff her so she could sit up, because she claimed she could not sit up without being uncuffed.

Now here are a few things I find curious...

First, the severe length of time it took for security and paramedics to show up.  And the mosey pace they took.  Let us all hope that no true airport emergencies occur in Baltimore!

Second, I never saw an ounce of news coverage of this event.  I checked everywhere and never found a whisper.  That shocks me.  If a politician or movie star sneezes or yawns, that image is plastered all over every possible platform.  This felt like a big story to me and it was nowhere to be found.

Third, while I think that the Southwest reps handled themselves well and had every right to call for more help, I do not think that the security team handled things well.  From the length of time it took to get there and even do anything once there, to the number of officers just standing around doing nothing and causing a bigger scene, to how they physically handled the old lady.  She had that wheelchair sitting off to the side.  Now, they didn't actually realize it was hers I suspect.  I mean, she was standing and walking just fine.  But they should have at the very least, called for another wheelchair and then cuffed her to the chair.  Then wheeled the chair off to a quiet room.  This woman was causing a fuss because she was enjoying being the center of attention.  Take away the attention and I suspect she would have quieted down and acted normal in two minutes flat.  Instead, this went on for 45 minutes that I witnessed.  And likely lasted longer given that she was still on the floor as I was boarding the plane.

Fourth, I hope this lady is now on a no fly list.  While I don't think the crackpot BWI security team did a particularly good job here, she clearly cannot handle herself in an airport.  Can you imagine if she made the flight but they ran out of peanuts?  You stole my peanuts!  Emergency landing to have a peanut crazed old lady arrested.  I do believe that this woman needs to find a new mode of transportation!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice...That's What Little Girls Are Made Of

I do promise to stop this dull show and tell of stuff I've made business soon.  Actually very soon because I think I am about out of photos. 

Sad personal news.  My computer got a virus.  And in the process I lost every.  single.  thing.  I.  had.  saved.

I have not backed up a single file in a year.  Don't scold me.  It's been a hard enough week.  It's over at this point.

Um...I lost it all.  Every document, list, file, little item, big item, invoice and saddest of

Outside of losing my everying, including my marbles, I've had a really fun week.  That I am sure I will finally blab about on here at some point. 

Just not today.

So instead, here is another sweet outfit I made for my niece, E.  If it would at all be socially acceptable, I'd make myself one to match. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Puff The Magic Dragon

This, my peaches, is a dragon tail.  Doesn't everyone need a dragon tail?  No?  Well I decided my Godson, J, needed a dragon tail.  So I made him one.  As his Christmas present.  He was beyond hilarious wearing it (I gave it to him early when I was visiting a few weeks ago) and roaring around the room.  Made my year to see his cuteness. 

After I finished I wished I had made it in green and blue.  But when I started, for whatever unknown reason, I was set on red and blue.  Oh well.  I doubt J cares. 

Also, and unrelated, Puff The Magic Dragon is hands down my very favorite song.  Ever.  A combo of the memories of my Daddy letting me stay up late to watch Peter Paul and Mary on PBS and the song itself.  Just thought I'd share.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bacon Jam

No fancy title.  Because it's hard to come up with words any more spectacular than bacon and jam together.  Don't squish up your face in disbelief, dear friends, like you did years ago when I posted my crockpot cherry chicken recipe.  That is in my most searched for blog posts still today.  Always amazing me, to be honest.

I found the recipe I shared yesterday for sweet potato biscuits and immediately thought that they needed bacon jam. 

Which is odd considering I've never seen nor heard of bacon jam. 

I must have read it somewhere, at some point.  Because that's a pretty random idea.  Then again, I'm full of random ideas.  So who knows.

I googled and found lots of different recipes.  None were quite what I was looking for though.  So I just sort of went with my gut and made up my own.  And am beyond pleased with the results.  So pleased that I may or may not have eaten many a spoonful just on its own.  It's seriously roll your eyes back in your head good, y'all.  It would be fabulous on anything from biscuits to pancakes to portabella mushrooms to eggs to crackers to an old rubber tire.

Without further ado, I give you...


* 1 lb. of your favorite bacon
* 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
* 3 tsp. minced garlic
* 1 cup very strong brewed black coffee
* 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup real maple sugar
* 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper

* Heat large, heavy pot (I used my cast iron dutch oven) up to medium-high.  Chop bacon into 1/2 inch slices with kitchen scissors or knife.  Add to screaming hot pot.  Cook down bacon until just starting to get crispy.

* Remove bacon from pot with slotted spoon, keeping as much bacon grease in pot as possible.  Set bacon in small dish off to the side for the moment.

* Add sliced onions to pot and grease.  Saute until just starting to caramelize.  I add the lid on and then stir to prevent burning every few minutes.

* About two minutes before the onions are completely caramelized, add the minced garlic.

* Add in coffee and vinegar and scrape up the goodness at the bottom of the pot.  Add back in the bacon too.

* Add brown sugar and real maple syrup.  (I would quit adding the word real if I trusted people to never use that fake crap masquerading around as maple syrup.  But I don't.)  Add in black pepper.  Stir well.

* Now you just need to cook this down to a texture that makes you slap happy.  Turn the temp a little lower and just let it thicken.  I cooked it waaaay down- it's rather thick and it's pure perfection in my mind. 

Please please tell me if you make this.  It's not low fat, clearly.  But it's also not an every day treat either.  It's a total crowd pleaser.  It's sweet and tangy and bacony and caramelized oniony and chewy and just completely awesome.  Trust me.  I would never lie to you about food, my friends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sweet Potato Biscuits

For my Junior League Board holiday party last week, I brought mini sweet potato biscuits with this roll-your-eyes-back-in-your-head bacon jam.  Yes, I said bacon.  That recipe comes tomorrow though. 

Today, sweet potato biscuits.  If you don't eat gluten free, just use regular AP flour.  I use Better Batter GF flour though.  Where I went wrong is that I never thought to check the expiration date at the bottom of my baking powder.  Did you know that stuff even had an expiration date?  Well I guess I don't use it all that often because mine expired FOUR years ago.  Oh the shame.  So the result was that nothing really rose up fluffy.  Combine that with GF flours that don't rise either and mine were rather dense.  But everyone ate multiple, much to my surprise.  So it wasn't just me who liked them.

The moral of the story is to check the expiration dates of all your pantry foods.  Especially things you don't use all that often that sit in the back of the cupboard.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

See here.

I used this gal's awesome posted recipe.  But I did a few things different so you can go there to find the recipe and if you are interested, read here for my changes.

Again, see above link.

* I used Better Batter gluten free flour blend.  Do not use a baking mix (such as Pamela's)- that's for making pancakes.  Use a flour.  AP, Better Batter or whateveryouhaveonhand.

* I didn't use a ricer for my potatoes.  Instead I just dumped them in the food processor.  They need to be very mushy for this to work- not mostly cooked- but fully cooked and soft. 

* I also prepared about five times as much sweet potato mash as called for.  Because I doubled the recipe.  More on that in a minute.  Then I froze enough potato mash for a double batch later (or for a dinner).  And ate the rest for lunch with some butter and cinnamon.  Mmmm good!

* I did everything in my food processor.  This may or may not have contributed to the lack of rise I experienced too.  But since it was already out and dirty, I figured why mess up yet another bowl.  That's just how I roll and you should expect it by now.

* I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to get that butter to chill up a bit.  I rolled the dough out in small batches.

* I wanted mini biscuits and didn't have a mini cutter.  So I took an unused plastic liquid medicine measuring cup- you know the things that come on top of Nyquil that you never use.  I cut up the bottom to make myself a mini biscuit cutter.  Worked like a charm.  Necessity is the mother of all invention, you know!

* Before baking, I melted a little butter and maple syrup in the microwave for 40 seconds.  Then brushed the tops of each little baby biscuit with the mixture.  As My Martha would say, it's a good thing!

* Serve warm.  If you have to transport them to a party, pop them in the microwave for a minute before serving.  And serve with the bacon jam I will discuss tomorrow.  Because it's amazingly delish!

* I made a double recipe.  But instead of baking, I lined the biscuits all up on a baking sheet and popped that in the freezer.  Once frozen, I tossed them in a big zip top baggie.  I figured if I was taking the time to make it once, I might as well get several uses out of my efforts.  Now I have a ready to bake appy or side to a holiday meal. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monster Monday

For the last few years, forgiveness has been my big goal.  I'm not there yet.  But I'm working on it.  It turns out, as with many things in life, it's easier said than done.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Here Fishy Fishy

Another prezzie for J.  This was actually a belated birthday gift that I had to re-make to fit him now.  Oh but did you know that 24 mos and 2T are not the same size?  Because I didn't.  Thankfully I thought to ask J's momma, Florida, before I bought the shirt.  But I must say, that is about as dumb as it gets.  Why would you make those different sizes?  When you are two years old, aren't you also 24 months old?

But I digress...

I was worried I would have to explain that the J was also a fish hook but when I asked everyone if they "got it" they looked at me as if I was insane.  Of course they got it.  There wasn't much to get.  No riddle involved.  Ha.  I think I make a lot of my life more complicated and worked up than needed. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

FREE One Year Subscription To Martha

I know, two posts in one day.  So unlike me.  But this is highly important.  Click the image above to request a FREE one year subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine.  This is the only way I get magazines now because I know I can eventually find them all for free.  Woo hoo!  If you already have a subscription, as I do (what crafty/foody girl doesn't?!), just call in a week or two when you feel like it has all been processed and ask them to run your subscriptions back to back. 

Anyway, hurry!  These things tend to go super quickly.  You have to take a silly little survey.  Seriously takes under five minutes from start to finish.  No credit card info required.

More great deals are posted daily at Coupon Crocodile.

Help A Girl Out

Y’all, will you please do me a favor? Tell me to just do it. I have three projects in front of me and I know exactly what I need to do to start them. But I am nervous things will go awry as I have yet to figure out precisely what to do once I get going. Fear of the unknown tends to hold me back a lot in life the older I get.  A terrible trait!

And in return, sweet peaches. If you need a little encouragement too, just say the word. I am more than happy to cheer you on in your projects, goals and ventures.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sassy First Taste Of Lilly

This was a little outfit I made for my sugar sweet niece, E, whom I was finally able to meet and smother a few weeks back.  Please don't think I am bragging in any way when I tell you that I LOVE those jeans with pink and zebra ribbon ruffles.  Hello are they not deslih?!  Hoping her momma sends me a photo when she is finally big enough to wear them. 

The shirt fabric is actually a Lilly Pulitzer print.  Of course I had to give my E a little Lilly.  Just a given!  E looks adorable nudie tudie but I am fairly certain she will look super adorable in her sassy jeans and ruffles outfit too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Calorie Free Cupcakes

When shared with your favorite toddler, trust me, they taste ah-maz-ing.

I won't lie. It was one of those projects that I thought would be quick and ended up taking about a dozen hours. True story. I did not use a pattern and sewed it all by hand. Nothing was complicated. At all. But holy heck was this a time sucking project. And I swore up and down that I would never attempt a felt food project again.

Seeing the fun that my Godson had playing with them though... Makes it all so worth it.

Next up I want to make sushi. Because like most things in life, as time passes, so does the painful memory. And I've convinced myself 46 other projects are a life necessity.

I made the pink, green, lemon slice cupcake to remind my Godson of his Auntie KK!

I've Seen The Commercials And Other Kardashian Business

***Note: I have been trying to publish this and two other posts for days now and Blogger is just being ridiculous.  It changes my scheduled posts to drafts totally randomly and drives me batty.  Anyone else having this issue too?  For me it's been going on for close to a year now.

My father.  God bless him.  He's such a dad.  Just your typical, dorky daddy who is not at all in tune with pop culture.

So we are at a local holiday event last night and on the walk there, he starts telling me about this headline news story that he had just read online.  It went something like this...

Dad: So I was reading news updates online and the latest story (and he's super proud that he is breaking this news piece to me, by the way) is that the oldest Kardashian sister (I immediately start giggling hearing my dad reference the K family), who already has one baby with that jerk guy, is pregnant again.  And they are barely speaking.

Me: Who is barely speaking?

Dad: The oldest Kardashian sister and the father of her baby.  But it's the same father for the second baby too.

Me: How do you know they are barely speaking? (Curious as all get out because I don't even watch the show so for all I know, dad has some sort of tacky trashy Kardashian insight here.)

Dad: I've seen the commercials.

And that my friends, is how we break news up here in the North Pole.  From a sweet old man via either CNN, the local newspaper or AOL online news tickers.

But it gets better....

He also told me that the night before was the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting/music concert on TV.  I immediately quipped that I was bummed I didn't know it was on/wasn't home to watch it.  But before I could finish he went into great detail regarding why it was a horrible show. 

Tony Bennett can't sing.  (I agree.) 

Faith Hill cancelled because it was her daughter's birthday but dad suspects there is something else going on because she obviously knew the date of her daughter's birth when she booked the gig and it's all very suspicious.  (I agree it does sound fishy but it was hilarious how much it bothered him and then hearing him say that he thinks there is more to that story made me laugh so hard.) 

He complained about someone else but he couldn't remember the singer's name.  (Which is typically how these story's go with dad.) 

He said Michael Buble didn't dance and rather just stood there.  (I was like, well he's not a pop star.  He doesn't dance.  He's like a contemporary Sinatra.)  Dad didn't like my answer.  Apparently according to him, if you are going to do this big show you need more to your bit than just standing there.

But according to daddy-o, the biggest miss of the night was a duet between Justin Bieber and Usher.  (Now dad had no idea who Usher was- side note I actually love me some Usher- and was like, he seems like he has a very nice voice.)  But Usher's voice was much better than Justin's and it didn't look like they practiced whatever it was that they did.  (I explained that Justin was 15- he is right?  And Usher is my age.)

Now this story might not translate as funny but I want this memory recorded.  You see, dad is terrible with people details.  If a family member has a baby and he goes to see the baby and I ask him about it.  He will be able to (most of the time) tell me the gender.  But never the name.  Ever.  And he would never think to ask how the mother is recovering, etc.  That's just an example to note that he doesn't even think of a fraction of the questions running through my noggin every two minutes.  He's a dad.

So the fact that dad was so hot and bothered by these two pop culture situations and remembered details is so funny to me. 

And proof that everyone has an opinion when it comes to any of the Kardashian sisters!  Even if their sources are news tickers and commercials.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

Instead of a list of excuses why I've been absent from blogville, I'm just jumping back in with an easy little post.  I have missed y'all, though!

Ever have leftover whipped cream after holidays and family gatherings?  I do every year and end up just throwing it away.  Until this year.

Now I know that whipped cream is not a big deal.  Or it's not to me anyway.  But it is really nice to top a hot cup of cocoa or even coffee (If you've never tried it, you must!  So decadent) in the long cold winter months.  So I hate to throw away something that I might really enjoy in the coming weeks.

So after I was done using the vanilla bean whipped cream on apple pie, I re-whipped it to get it nice and stiff again.  Then scooped it into a zip top sandwich baggie and cut off a corner.  I piped little dollops onto a cookie sheet pan and popped it into the freezer for an hour or two.  Once frozen, I tossed the little frozen whipped cream puffs into another zip top baggie and back into the freezer.

I won't use these to top pie or berries as it will lose some of it's umph once defrosted.  But instead, I plan to take out a little whipped cream puff now and then to top cocoa or coffee.  Sounds like a good treat after spending an hour shoveling my car out of the snow!


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