Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 11 Layouts of 2011

As kind of a year-in-review and as a look back, I thought I'd share 11 of my favorite layouts I did in 2011. Thanks for coming along for the ride. :)

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Friday, December 30, 2011

All That Jazz

A few weeks ago, Tom and I had the opportunity to observe Alexa's jazz dance class (we would have been able to see her in action in tap too, but we had to get to the school orchestra concert). This girl dances all the time, and it doesn't matter who's watching. She dances at the bus stop, at school (her teacher asked me if Alexa was a dancer because her feet are always tapping and shuffling under her desk, LOL!), in a store, etc. She doesn't mind dancing, or even singing, on stage but don't ask her to talk (as in perform in a play).

The journaling reads: You are a dancer through and through. It’s in your blood and your heart. Even when you’re not at dance class, you still dance...around the house. At school you tap and move your feet under your desk. True story! December '11, age 10.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Concert

My hubby says he's not creative, but look at the sweet invitation he designed and sent to me last week. :) My Hanukkah gift was tickets to the Jim Brickman concert. We've seen Jim perform two other times and I think the show gets better and better each time. For those of you who don't know who he is, he bills himself as "America's Romantic Piano Sensation" but he's much more than that. He's funny, he's talented and he surrounds himself with an amazing group of special guests. This year he performed with his sidekick, Anne Cochran (vocals) and Tracy Silverman (electric violin). Tracy designed and built the first electric violin and boy, can he work that instrument...everything from acid rock to classical! Joining the group this year was Ben Utecht, former NFL star and Superbowl champion. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, never having heard of him (not a big football fan, sorry, LOL!) He has a really beautiful voice that worked well with the rest of the group. Anyway, if Jim is performing in your area, I highly suggest seeing the show. OK, review over. LOL!
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All the Trimmings

Every year I like to take a photo of our tree. Even though it may have pretty much the same ornaments on it, it always looks different, at least to me. :)

Journaling reads: So, it’s Thursday, December 23rd, 2011 and there’s no snow on the ground. There really isn’t any in the forecast either. Looks like we’ll be having a green Christmas this year. That’s okay because it’s plenty festive inside the house. The tree is decorated and there’s other holiday decor (including Hanukkah) out as well. It’s so much fun watching you decorate the tree. I love revisiting the ornaments and talking about their history with you. I realized the oldest ornaments are the winter- and Christmas-themed sun catchers Mommy made as a little girl. Hopefully they’ll be yours some day...
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Monday, December 26, 2011

8 Nights of Lights

(As seen on

As Hanukkah nears a close for another year (tomorrow night is the last night), I realize I haven't taken any photos. Gasp! I'd better rectify that tonight. LOL! It doesn't help that both Tom and Alexa have been sick.

This is another oldie, but goodie, about Alexa making me a hand-painted plate as a gift. Not only do I cherish the gift, but I love that my husband recorded the process for me. Is he a scrapbooker's husband or what? LOL!

The journaling reads:

You and Daddy stole off to Color Me Mine so you could make my Chanukah gift. You painted a beautiful yellow plate, complete with a brightly lit menorah and a “C” monogram for Chanukah. I’m so glad Daddy took these photos so I could see you hard at work!
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Hanukkah Letter

(As seen on

For Hanukkah '09, Alexa (at the age of eight) wrote me a beautiful letter as a gift. The words speak for themselves. :)

The journaling reads: Sometimes I think you are an adult trapped in a child’s body. You have such a way with words and a sensitivity to you that far exceeds your years. I am frequently blown away by all that you say and do and by the mature notes and cards you write to me and other people. This Hanukkah letter is just one example. I left everything exactly as you typed it so years from now you can see how you wrote and typed at age eight. I’m especially touched by the comment you made at the end about keeping the spiritual lights in my body burning. It’s not something most eight year olds know about or even think of. You are so special, amazing, and loved!

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Hanukkah is Special

Each night as we light the menorah, the three of us place bets on which candle is going to burn out first (sometimes we get really wild and try to guess which one will burn out last instead. LOL!) We usually place a coin or some other trinket in front of the candle of our choice. Alexa won tonight and she decided her prize would be to open another present. LOL! If either Tom or I won, we were going to get five kisses from Alexa. :)

So, in the spirit of my Hanukkah daily, here's another oldie, but goodie. A page I did in 2007. It's called "Hanukkah is Special". I can't believe how small Alexa looks.
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hanukkah Daily

(As seen in Scrapbook Trends)

I know a lot of you are doing a December Daily album and I love popping on to your blogs to see all of the wonderful pages you are creating. I had an "aha" moment yesterday and decided I'd do a Hanukkah Daily post on my blog this week, in the same spirit. :)

That said, this is a page I did many years back about Alexa's first menorah, a gift from my Dad. It's a row of little ballerinas, all lined up at the barre during a dance class. There's a mirror that goes behind it to reflect the light of the candles. The journaling for the page was written by my Dad:

"The eight candles on the Chanukiah commemorate the miracle of the Jewish people reclaiming the Temple in Jerusalem from the Romans. There was only enough oil for one night, but the lamps burned for eight. As recently as the beginning of the 20th century, the family of your great, great grandmother (Ida Rukin) who grew up in Ekatrinaslav (today Dneipropetrovsk) used potatoes to hold the candles. They did not have money to buy a fancy one, like your Ballerina Chanukiah. I bought it for you, when you were four, because you were a ballerina. I collect Chanukiot and have lots of them, including one made from Mah Jhong tiles.

The miracle of Chanukah is also remembered by eating oil-fried foods. Most western (Ashkenazic) Jews eat potato latkes. In Israel they eat jelly doughnuts (soufganiyot), which are also fried in oil. The objective is to not eat too many of them, otherwise you get fat."

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Handpainted Hanukkiah

(As seen in ScrapStreet magazine)

We now have five menorahs in our house. We used to have two. Our collection expanded after my Dad passed away in February. He was a great collector of hanukkiah (menorahs) and most of his collection has been donated to a museum. One of the newest additions to our collection is fish-shaped and I blogged about it here. I call it "The Luchas Fish". Another is a tall blue, whimsical, metal moose with a red cardinal sitting on its back. It's more of an art piece (something else my Dad was into) so I don't think I'll ever light it. The third is one Alexa painted as a gift for my Dad two years ago. This is the one you can see on the layout above. This is the one we lit last night. This is the one that makes me cry. This is the one that means the most to me because Alexa knew how special her PopPop's collection was to him and she wanted to contribute something to it. As we said the prayer over the candles last night, I thought, "This one's for you, Dad!"
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eight Nights of Lights

Happy Hanukkah to all of my friends and family!

Alexa gave me this drawing as a gift (yes, an early one, LOL) and I love it. I wouldn't mind having an artist make this into a real menorah for me. :)

(As seen in Scrapbooking & Beyond)

Here's a page I did last year for Crafting Jewish Style. I had some fun with it by "hiding" eight 8s on the page. Can you find them all?
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Sweet Gingerbread Creations

It has become a yearly tradition for us to visit the gingerbread house exhibit at the George Eastman House. I'm always excited to see which creations will "wow" me with their creativity and which ones will make me smile. This year the awards go to the replica of the Taj Mahal ("wow" award) and a room made ready for a Girl Scout sleepover, complete with a different quilt on each bed (made me smile award).

Based on a sketch by Becky Fleck. :)
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chocolate Goodness in a Pancake

(Photo from Nestle's web site)

I needed a quick and easy dinner for tonight, so I went with a tried-and-true Nestle recipe for Mini Morsel Pancakes. I've been using this recipe for years and we love it. I freeze the left overs so Alexa can enjoy them during the school week. I would have loved to serve strawberries with them, but they haven't looked great when I go to the market so we had mango and pineapple instead.


  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I leave this out)
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Directions
COMBINE flour, morsels, baking powder, brown sugar and salt in large bowl. Combine milk, eggs, and vegetable oil in medium bowl; add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; batter may be lumpy.

HEAT griddle or skillet over medium heat; brush lightly with vegetable oil. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto hot griddle; cook until bubbles begin to burst. Turn and cook about 1 minute longer or until golden. Repeat with remaining batter.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Movers and Shakers :)

Last night's orchestra concert was impressive (and I'm not just saying that because Alexa played first violin in it, LOL). One of the pieces they played was composed by their teacher. It's called Mixin' It Up and it's a fun, playful piece with a catchy melody.

The concert was preceded by parent observation night at dance so we got to see what Alexa's been learning (at least in jazz since we had to leave for the concert before tap class started). Here she is doing some stretches before practicing her moves.

It was a busy night, with a quick bite to eat in between, but I'd never miss it for the world!
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Sharing a page I did last year at about this time because Alexa has her 5th grade orchestra concert tonight. She's been playing for a year and has not only moved from a half-size to a three quarter-size violin, but her playing has improved tremendously. I really enjoy listening to her practice (especially with Daddy strumming along on his guitar). Right now, Alexa's talking about dropping violin next year in favor of chorus. I'd love to see her continue because I think she has potential (don't all parents say that? LOL!) but definitely don't want to push her into something she's not going to enjoy. We'll see how it pans out...For now, I'm looking forward to tonight's concert and to hear her play along with the rest of the orchestra.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Sweet as Butterscotch

We adopted our cat, Butterscotch, two years ago (at about the age of one). He is so patient and is the sweetest cat, putting up with all of Alexa's antics (like dressing him in doll clothes and teaching him to "kiss" her on command, LOL)!
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Bounty of Blessings

With a bit of help from a wonderful sketch by Becky Fleck, I got a layout done today. :) I mixed up some Imaginsce, Jillibean Soup, and Bella Blvd. for this one. Hope you're all having a great weekend.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sharing Some Holiday Favorite Blog Posts

I've been poking around the Internet, reading all of my favorite blogs, and stumbling upon new ones. There is so much inspiration out there (and I don't even have to become a member on Pinterest to find it, LOL!) that I thought I'd share five of my favorite posts with you today.

1. Santa List Ornaments by Amanda Probst. So simple and creative!

2. Gingerbread Playdoh. Just think of how wonderful this must smell!

3. Santa is Stuck in the Chimney Cookies. This woman is an amazing decorator!

4. Totally Target because she helps me save so much money when I shop at Target (and elsewhere).

5. Stephanie Howell's blog because she always "tells it like it is". I especially loved today's post about making the time for creativity.

What's your favorite blog (other than your own, LOL!)? I'm always on the hunt for ideas and a good read. Thank you!
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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Crafted Creatures

I'm still working on Halloween photos. I couldn't resist scrapping about these adorable crafts Alexa made at her school party. I love them so much that I want to leave them out all year. They just make me smile. :) What's making you smile today?

Based on a Basic Grey sketch by Nancy Burke.
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stop and Scrap Gift Certificate Winners...

Thank you all for participating in my fun contest yesterday! Alexa sold 219 boxes of cookies this year, just a bit shy of her goal. :)

The winner of the $25 gift certificate is Julie E who guessed 229.

The winners of the $10 gift certificates are: Pamela (200), KathleenB (244), and Houses Built of Cards (175).

Congratulations to you all!

Please email me at LSwift1110 at frontier dotcom and I will send your gift certificate codes to you once I receive them from Maria at

Happy shopping! :)
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Rock On!

Happy December 1st! I'm going back in time a bit today. Don't worry, it's just to the end of October. I took a break from scrapping fall photos and did a Halloween page for a change. I realized I only had bits and pieces of Halloween collections, so I pieced together some Doodlebug, My Mind's Eye, and Hambly to get this page done. Now that I have my Halloween supplies out, I'm going to do a page about the adorable Halloween crafts Alexa made at school this year. What are you working on today?

You have until 11:00 a.m. EST today to get your guess in for the contest. I'll be picking the winners later today...Until then, have a great day!
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Giveaway!

Thank you for visiting my blog today. I'm hoping to see lots of new names and to get some new followers (especially since my blog is fairly new). Hopefully it's your lucky day because I have partnered with Stop and to bring you a giveaway today as part of their Christmas Countdown Giveaways. I'll be giving away one (1) $25 gift certificate to their site AND three (3) $10 gift certificates as well...

My favorite part of Stop and Scrap's web site, aside from the "new" section, is the "pre-orders". I love being able to see pictures of what's coming. :) There's just something about fresh, new supplies to look forward to, no matter how much I already have on hand. LOL!

Anyway, let's get down to business. Since my daughter just finished selling Girl Scout cookies, how about you post a guess (here on my blog) as to how many boxes she sold this year. The closest guess will win the $25 certificate and the next three closest will win the $10 certificates. Ready? Set? Go!

Winners will be announced after 11 a.m. (EST) tomorrow. Good luck! :)
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fall is in the Air (and so is Alexa, LOL!)

A few weeks ago, we went to the local park in search of beautiful foliage backdrops and some photo ops. Turns out we had better color in our own backyard but that didn't deter us from enjoying the fresh November air, sunshine, and a hike (and some time on the playground and some tree climbing too). Happy Sunday!
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful For This Girl

So thankful for this girl. She is my miracle, the child I never thought I'd have. She amazes me each and every day. She is wise beyond her years. She plays the violin beautifully. She is caring. She is smart and funny. She has a loving heart. She loves animals. She's a whiz at math. She gives the best snuggles (well, when she's in the mood. LOL!) I can't wait to see where the world takes her and to help her along in her journey.

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for today?
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Making of Cranberry Relish

Cranberry relish is a traditional dish on our Thanksgiving table. I finally remembered to pull out the camera while I was making it today, so I could photograph the process (and you know these photos will make their way onto a layout soon, right?)

The photo above shows what the relish looks like at the start of cooking, lots of pretty cranberries mixed with other ingredients (the recipe is posted below).

After cooking for ten minutes, it becomes much thicker and a bit rosier in color:

Here's the delicious, finished product (although it still has to cool and set a bit).

Cranberry Relish a la the Swifts:

1 pound cranberries
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. chopped dates
2 c. water
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 c. white vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Boil rapidly, uncovered, 10 minutes and mash almost constantly with a potato masher.

Chill well.

Makes 4 cups.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Partnering with for a Contest

Be sure to visit my blog in the coming weeks because I will have a giveaway from! I'll be giving away one (1) $25 gift certificate and three (3) $10 gift certificates. I'll post the actual giveaway date once I know it. :) There will be unique codes available too even if you don't want to enter the contest, so you can get that day's coupon.
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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Cornbread

(Photo and recipe courtesy of

I know it's not time for Tasty Tuesday, but this recipe was too good to wait until then. LOL! I recommend cutting the baking time down a bit from the 30 minutes. It definitely needed less (at least in my oven). Next time I'm going to start checking it at about 23 minutes. Enjoy!


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup cornmeal
2 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (canned or freshly cooked and processed)
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tablespoon molasses


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 10" glass pie pan or 9" square baking pan.

2. Combine flours, baking powder, salt (if using) and spices in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in cornmeal.

3. In separate bowl, beat eggs lightly. Whisk in pumpkin, brown sugar, oil and molasses.

4. Make a well in the dry mixture. Add pumpkin mixture and blend batter with a few quick strokes (just until blended; don't over-mix).

5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes (I recommend less time), or until cornbread is browned and the surface has a slightly springy feel.

Enjoy and be sure to let me know if you liked it. :)

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Mane Event

In September, Alexa and her Girl Scout troop spent the weekend at Sprucelands Horse Camp in Java, NY. They learned about caring for horses, did barn chores, and had riding lessons (among other things). I just love the photo Alexa's troop leader caught of her with her horse, Sugar. That girl sure loves her animals! I guess it's a good thing she says she wants to be a vet. :)

The journaling reads: You were hesitant to go to Sprucelands Horse Camp (Java Center, NY) with your troop because you didn’t want to be away from home. Daddy ended up going which made it easier for you. Over the course of the weekend you learned about taking care of horses and had riding lessons on this sweet horse named Sugar. You also did barn chores (even the “yucky” ones), cooked meals, did some fun crafts, and got to have some bonding time with Daddy. In the end, you said you had a good time! (September 16-18, 2011)

Based on the weekly challenge sketch at Sketchy Thursdays.
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crusty Cucurbits

I spied this interesting collection of lumpy and bumpy pumpkins at the farm last week. Turns out they are specifically bred for their warts. The sugar content of these pumpkins is so high, the skin fractures, and the pumpkin develops warts. Who knew? Oh, and cucurbits are the family name of fruits belonging to the gourd family. Just a little bit of trivia for you today. :)
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leaf Pile

Of her own accord, Alexa raked up a big leaf pile in the back yard. Lest you think she was being a good doobie (like I did) with regard to yard clean up, her intention was to create a pile she could jump in. LOL!
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

September Sensation

Another layout using pics from our recent apple picking adventure. Thanks for looking!
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

From Apples to Applesauce

A few weekends ago, we took Alexa and three of her friends to a local orchard to do some apple picking. When we got back to the house, we made a big batch of chunky applesauce (a recipe I shared here a few weeks ago). Here's the page that resulted from that day. :) Thanks for looking!

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Luchas Fish

My blog post from September 17th is now immortalized on a layout. :) Hope you're having a great weekend and enjoying World Card Making Day.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout cookie sales start in our area this coming Saturday. Aside from the top three, all-time favorites, there are some new flavors this year, including Lemonades and Shout Outs. Thanks-a-Lot are making a return with a new circular shape. Alexa will be busy with sales for the next three weeks and will hopefully reach her goal (she sets it herself) as she has in years past. What's your favorite cookie flavor? Mine is the Samoas/Caramel Delites. :)
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pool Party

I totally forgot to share a page I did last week. I guess it's a good thing I forgot, because I haven't done any scrapping this week. Hope you've been able to get some crafty time in!
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Chunky Applesauce

(Photo from Taste of Home)

We are taking Alexa and three of her friends apple picking this weekend. When we get back to the house, the girls are going to make applesauce — chunky applesauce to be exact. It's a super easy recipe I've been using for years and years and it always receives rave reviews.

3 pounds of apples, peeled and sliced (I usually use a mix of varieties)
scant 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 t. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Cover with waxed paper.

Microwave on high for 8-11 minutes or until apples are soft. Stir.

Mash apples (I use a potato masher) until slightly chunky.

Makes 5 1/2 cups.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

You Can Love Me Most...

Yesterday we gathered as a family, along with a number of my Dad's dear friends, to unveil Dad's headstone. To say it was an incredibly emotional experience, is a complete understatement. My father was not perfect, by any means, but he had such an amazing presence of being. He was always traveling. He was involved. He was more than smart. He was always trying. It was something I've heard over and over since his passing. The problem with that is it always lead me to believe (at least in the back of my mind) that he would live forever. Of course this is completely impossible and I know that but I can't get past it...yet. I'm hoping that the poem below (read at the service) will help me with this journey:

When I die, if you need to weep, cry for someone walking on the street beside you.
And when you need me, put your arms around others and give them what you need to give me.
You can love me most by letting hands touch hands and souls touch souls.
You can love me most by sharing your happy occasions and multiplying the goodness you do.
You can love me most by letting me live in your eyes, not in your mind.
And when you say Kaddish for me, remember what our tradition teaches: Love doesn't die. People do.
So when all that's left of me is love, give me away.

In Judaism, it is tradition to leave a small stone at the grave site when you visit. Alexa took this practice to heart and colored a rock and wrote, "I'll miss you," on the back. Some of the cousins also collected pieces of nature to leave as well. We were there...
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stuck on You

A few months back, Jennifer McGuire did a shout out for a new adhesive she had tried. Since I already loved the adhesive she had previously suggested, I had to give this one a try too. I have to say, I love it! The adhesive comes in three different widths and each dispenser is color coded. The dispenser has an easy on/off cap, stands upright, and feels like you're using a pen. The biggest "sell" for me is that this is a permanent dots adhesive, but it easily rubs off when you first put it down if you happen to overdo it. So, if you're in the market for a new adhesive, give these runners a try. Use the code "stamp" to get $5 off your purchase (which basically equates to free shipping) through 9/30/11.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Random Musing

I posted this as my Facebook status yesterday and it really got people thinking...

"My random musing for today: In an emergency, people are ready to drop everything to help. The "business" of their day doesn't seem to matter much any more. What about on a "typical" day? How many times have you put something off, not called a friend, not commented on a Facebook status even, because you are too "busy"? Take some time today to step away from the business of your life and make someone else's better. :)"

These thoughts go along with a project we did this week with a fifth grade class during library time at school. They learned about how important it is to them, and others, to "fill their bucket". You can do this by being kind, helpful, even smiling at someone. Being mean just empties your own bucket and that of the other person.

So go forth and do something nice to fill your bucket and the buckets of those around you. Pay someone a compliment, thank someone for something they've done for you, hold the door at a store for a mom who may be juggling a stroller, check in with a friend, tell someone you're sorry...Believe me, it will make you both feel great!
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty (Try It) Tuesday - Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

I amended my usual Tasty Tuesday title to include "Try It" this week because it's a recipe I hadn't tried before. With the recent drop in temperatures here in upstate NY, and the arrival of fall this week, I wanted to make a recipe that has pumpkin in it. I also chose it because Tom is an avid fan of oatmeal cookies.

These were super easy to make and the batter was great to work with too. If you have a spring-loaded portion scoop, I'd suggest using it. This way you get uniformly shaped cookies and also a better yield than if you eyeball the measurement. This what the cookies look like before going into the oven:

And here they are, fresh out of oven:

One minor change I made was to use sliced almonds because I didn't have pecans. These would be equally tasty with walnuts or pecans though. Take a look at for the recipe. Enjoy!
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