Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! 200th Post!!

I just realized that this post will be my 200th since I started blogging! I am one chatty Cathy!

I haven’t been very productive in the “making” department lately. Between Christmas, and two trips to the doctor for sinus, bronchial infections and an asthma attack, well I’ve been a bit lazy! But I did make a couple of New Year’s decorations just to have something festive. No tutorial…just a pic:
I made a cone shaped party hat using a template I found online and trimmed it with some pom pom fringe using double sided tape. Downloaded a New Year’s printable collection and cut out and adhered to bamboo skewers that I stuck down through the top of the hat and using a clock graphic from The Graphics Fairy, added the year to it and stuck it on front!
I haven’t framed this yet but I wanted to have something special for 2011 that I could keep up all year. We have a few major milestones this year. Our son turns 18 ( my baby!) and will graduate from High School, and we’ll celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. So I made this “Family Milestone Subway Art”:
2011 Subway
Happy 2011 everyone. But as we wrap up 2010, thanks for a warm welcome into the blogging world, the many new friendships made, laughs shared, generosity shown, and inspiration provided. Here’s to more of all of that in the New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Testing…Windows Live Writer

So I was reading my blog reader earlier today and saw that Haley at The Autocrat had tried out Windows Live Writer and decided to play with it myself. It is another way to write your blog posts and the coolest thing to me is that it uses any of the fonts already installed on your computer so you don’t have to add additional fonts to Blogger.

I haven’t even begun to explore all the how to’s but embedding pictures  and videos is supposed to be easy and I love the more enhanced editing so far.

Hmmm…for some reason Haley’s post about this is not there anymore but she learned about it from Jamielyn at I Heart Naptime With Chocolate Sundaes ( of course you KNOW I follow that blog) and you can read more about it here: I Heart Naptime With Chocolate Sundaes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Eeek! New Year's

We don't do a big New Year's Eve thing. For one thing, it's past my bedtime and there are too many intoxicated people on the road. So we tend to hunker down at home and have been known to celebrate at midnight Eastern time just in case we accidentally fall asleep at midnight our time! Still, it's fun to have some decorations to ring in the New Year.

I found this wonderful collection via Living Locurto ( which if you're unfamiliar with Amy's site, get familiar NOW):
It's everything you could possibly need and it's from a site called: Love The Day . Not only is this fabulous, but it's in support of a fantastic organization called "Operation Shower" that provides baby showers for deployed military families.  If you can't find something to use in this collection...

I also found this cute (and FREE!) Subway Art inspired printable via a web search at Custom Printables :
More awesomeness at Tip Junkie.

So, what will you do to celebrate New Year's? Big party, small gathering, flip the calendar in the morning?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Santa's Not Done Yet! Silhouette Giveaway At Brown Paper Packages

 brown paper packages
Woo hoo!!! If you didn't get one of these under your tree there's another chance to get one! Kierste over at Brown Paper Packages has a Silhouette giveaway going on right now!!!

This giveaway includes:

The Silhouette SD machine
Software for Windows XP/Vista or Mac
Power cable and USB cable
2 cutting mats (1 for thick media and one for thin media)
1 cutting blade
1 $10 gift certificate to the Silhouette download store

So head on over to Brown Paper Packages and find out how you can enter to win!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wishing You All A Very Merry Christmas

I've been busy enjoying time w/ my mom, making a few last minute secret presents , wrapping, and tomorrow is full on baking day all day! Before time slips further away, I want to wish you all :

May you gather with those you love to celebrate the love this season represents, and may your stockings be filled with lots and lots of chocolate!

Monday, December 20, 2010

December Open House Wrap Up and Features

The only thing I hate about hosting a link party is trying to choose things to feature because everyone always links up such wonderful things! This month is no exception, so while I love everything ( and this month saw the most linkups since I started doing this!!) here are some "featured features" because I consider everything linked up a feature:

I absolutely love this idea for a teacher gift from Attempting Aloha and if its too late to make for Christmas, it would make a perfect year end gift:
Who doesn't need an extra gift box this time of year? Kim Castillon shows us  how to whip one up and make it look as good as the gift inside!

I love this DIY picture holder from Meg at A Little Knick Knack, perfect for your family Christmas photo or even to display a favorite card, or to whip up as a last minute gift. Meg tells you how to make it!

And how cute is this from Dream Home DIY:
Make your own Sleigh Bells from a package of jungle bells and a repurposed belt!
Thanks for making this such a fun party and please come back again next year which is just next month, for January's Open House on  January 21!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Big Kids Need Treats Too

I love that one of my son's HS teachers recognizes that kids in general and especially at his super competitive HS are under a lot of stress these days. Heavy course loads, college applications, pressure on grades etc are world's away from what I remember. So she ensures that they get to be "kids" from time to time and has a regular snack day so that they can think back to when things were less stressful. Friday was my son's turn to bring snack and since it was their last day before break I wanted to make it special.
One batch of cookies and creme bark ( melted white chocolate and broken up sandwich cookies...easy peasy)
Ginger crinkles dipped in powdered sugar

Chocolate chip cookies that I've made for something in every grade of his school career. I put all of these in treat bags that also included a hot chocolate packet, candy cane and mini marshmallows:
I started off trying to be simple and ended up being simple minded. Brown paper lunch bags. Oh but they were plain. So cut 26 tree borders on my Cricut and stuck them to the bags. But they were plain. So dotted some of the trees with gold paint pen but the others were lonely. Punched out gold paper stars to stick to them. Then each bag was finished with an icicle ( iridescent chenille stem) and a snowman (tag). Ta da....Winter Break survival kit.
Snowman tag from Cricut Doodlecharms cartridge, silver Stickles on the nose , black on the eyes, and clear self adhesive rhinestone buttons
Then I figured since I was doing these for my son's class, I could do something for my husband's team at work. They got a batch of Grandma Utahna's toffee and "Hot Cocoa Kits":

Cello bag, Christmas paper scrap, medallion cut on Cricut, sticker. The bag toppers I made from leftover card stock, folded in half , punched and tied w/ a ribbon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December Open House Link Party!

Time to get your Christmas party on! There's hot chocolate ( of course!) for everyone so have a cup and let's see the latest and greatest productions from all of you lovely chocoholics! Decor, gift ideas, cards, jewelry, treats and tasties ( the more chocolate the better but doesn't have to be) you name it. Just no advertising or etsy stores pretty please? And please link to your specific post, not your main blog.  OK let the fun begin!


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Reminder: December Open House Link Party Tomorrow

Woo hoo, tomorrow is the December Open House Link Party here at The Answer Is Chocolate! Looking forward to seeing all the fabulous things you've been working, gifts, treats, decorations, tags, jewelry,everything. Feel free to bring friends :)


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See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh. My. YUM! Toffee!!!

Confession time. Candy thermometers scare me! Why? I don't know but anything that requires one just seems so hard. I mean it's a tool like many others in my kitchen. I have gadgets. I've asked for things as gifts that Mr. Chocolate swears I've made up until he goes to the store to ask for them and they're real. But I've always wanted to make the kinds of delectable candies you see this time of year that require this frightening tool and so I clip recipes and tuck them away. Like toffee for example.

Enter Jacqueline from her absolutely stunning and elegant blog Purple Chocolat Home who posted yesterday about a friend's family toffee recipe that DOESN'T REQUIRE A CANDY THERMOMETER! ( Caps to indicate my total giddiness...not shouting at you). And like the title of this post says: Oh. My. YUM! I just had to try this last night because, well, I did.  And if you're like me and hide in the corner at the thought of having to use a candy thermometer, come on out of the dark and try this recipe!  
I'm not going to post the recipe here  so you'll just have to go on over to get it ( and you'll stay and look around I promise you because she is AMAZING) . I didn't take step by step pics because I didn't want any evidece of failure. I watch evidence, no failure! But I am pleased to say it worked just like the recipe said and I didn't mess it up!

Here it is all ready for cooling:
Do you know how hard it was not to stick my face in this?

I'm out of parchment paper so I used waxed paper which worked in a pinch but I think I'd rather use parchment paper. "Grandma's" recipe called for pecans but I didn't have those so used almonds. Here's the final product:
A little goes a long way so I cut these into smaller pieces
And most important of earned the Mr. Chocolate double thumbs up seal of approval :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ding Dong My Cards Are Done!

Not that my cards are wicked. For all my pretend grumbling, I can't imagine Christmas without making cards. I'm usually done earlier but something's been distracting me this year....hmmmm....maybe blogging :) ? But they're all (57) addressed, stamped (including extra postage for heavier ones Post Office people!) and on their way. Here are a few I remembered to take pics of before sending:

Forgot to change my camera setting for detail ... Me&My Big Ideas glittered polka dot paper, glittered winter scene rub-o, K&Co glittery self adhesive scrapbook borders
Me&My Big Ideas music paper, K&CO glittery scrapbook border scrap, misc snowflake and postage rub-ons, focal sticker from Michael's $1 section Christmas collection
Studio G Rhinestone strip, another diecut sticker from Michael's $1 pack, Me&My Big Ideas paper
In years past I was obsessive about every card being exactly the same. Then a few years ago I couldn't find enough of something , got over it and made different cards, and since then have made more and more variety .

Linking Up At:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pop Go The Cake Pops

I've been focused on trying to wrap up my Christmas cards ( and what genius makes almost 60 handmade Christmas cards which means you also have to make an inside, then write something in each oh and write a family Christmas letter?) I know... "we" do.

I did take some time away to do some baking for a treat exchange I attended on Friday. You could bring cookies, candies, or appetizers....everyone brought 5 plates of whatever they brought and you left with 5. Great idea. I tried my hand at cake pops since they're "popping" up all over. I saw them in this month's "Food Network" magazine and there are shops in NY and Dallas and CA selling these for around $30 a dozen?! I won't be buying them.

If you've not tried these, they're not too hard. The basic is one 13x9 cake ( you can make from scratch but I cheated and used a cards cards) and 3/4 can of frosting ( or whatever that works out to if you make your frosting from scratch!) . You can use any combination you want. Of course I did, chocolate cake and chocolate frosting! You were expecting maybe lemon? No. Bake your cake, let it cool, crumble it ( this is good for getting out frustration at your decision to make almost 60 cards...crumble crumble grumble grumble) , mix in your frosting and refrigerate for several hours while you work on cards. Then roll your filling into balls and dip in candy melts. I used Wilton white chocolate melts. You can stop there or sprinkle with stuff. Yep I sprinkled. I wanted a "Winter Wonderland" feel so I used white sparkly sanding sugar.

Lesson Learned: Miss Smarty Pants read that you should insert your lollipop sticks AFTER you coat your cake pops and they set but no, I decided I was going to put the sticks in and then dip. Worked OK except I got impatient after a few of these and didn't let the candy melt set up before putting on waxed paper to and the tops got a little flat on some. So if you dip, dry and then stick, your flat tops can be your pop bottoms.

I presented them in upcycled tomato sauce cans, decorated w/ scrapbook paper and embellishments. I stuck styrofoam balls inside to hold the pops:
I decorated some with gold Wilton gel....Jo Ann's
Tonight we return to addressing cards. Again...whose idea was that?

Linking Up At: 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Embossed Metal Ornaments

My Friend Michele over at The Scrap Shoppe is still hosting her fun and inspiring Homemade Holidays, and I was excited to do another guest post. This time I did:  Embossed Metal Ornaments similar to those I have on one of my Christmas trees.

First you'll need some metal soft enough to emboss. Walnut Hollow and Ten Second Studios sell it as does AMACO which is what I'm using here:
I got mine at Michaels but you can find it at many art supply stores. It comes in copper, brass, aluminum, and pewter as well as colors. It also comes in different weights. I like the medium.

Then decide what you want your ornament to be and find an image you can trace (or you can draw freehand). I chose a dove ( downloaded from the internet) and printed out on regular copy paper. Cut off a piece of your metal and lay your image on top:
Sorry for the pic quality...didn't realize the reflection of the light
The AMACO metal comes with a wood stylus or you can use a ball point pen , pencil, or dry embossing tool. I have a rubber mat I use but you can use magazines or a stack of newspaper to give yourself some cushion so when you trace, you get some indentation. You don't have to press super hard, but firmly.

Once you 've traced your image, you can flip it over and go around the inside or outside edge to give it more definition. Then you can start designing. I did freehand designs or you can trace a design just like you did your image:
I just made a scallop pattern around the edge and some squiggly lines in the tail.
When you're happy with your design, then cut out around the image. You can use regular craft scissors. You don't need special ones.
I added some spirals to the middle
While there are all kinds of specialty tools you can buy:

You don't have to. Sewing tools like pattern wheels work great:

I just used a perforation wheel to make random lines on this one which you'll see below. Once you've cut out your images, add a small eyelet in the center and then whatever you want to use to hang it. I added these to another of my trees :
This is the one I used the pattern wheel on just making random lines and then added "dots" using a dry embossing stylus

Hope that made sense. It can get very addicting and the metal goes a long way. I've used it on cards, as accents on altered art, etc. Here's another piece I did a couple of years ago that I aged with a little black paint:

And don't forget to go check out some of the great projects over at :

Linking Up At:


Fun With Digital Scrapbooking...Thanks Down This Road

Digital Designs and The Crafting Chicks! I was super excited to learn that I'd won a fantastic giveaway from Down This Road Digital Designs,  hosted by The Crafting Chicks! It was a whole Christmas themed digital kit called "Deck The Halls" filled with all kinds of wonderful goodies from digital papers to an alphabet to accents...

Digital scrapbooking is something I've wanted to learn and just haven't made the time to do so I'm really looking forward to playing with this using my Christmas photos. I couldn't wait to try to do SOMETHING so I made a button for my December Open House Link Party coming up on Friday December 17. I'm also not the best button maker but practice makes better right?!


Friday, December 10, 2010

This Week's BFF: michele made me

Happy Friday all! If it's Friday, that means it's time for another BFF: Blog Feature Friday! This week's BFF is: michele made me.

Michele hails from Ontario Canada and is the mom of two grown children and a 6 year old and describes herself as a "creator of stuff". And what stuff it is ! I love seeing what lovely things she has come up with and since we're in high Christmas mode, I thought I'd feature some of her recent Christmas lovelies. We've all made paper snowflakes but Michele manages to take them up several notches and I think these are so elegant:
Would you guess the secret ingredient is "Christmas flavored junk mail". Me either! Then there are these which just have such an ethereal glow:
Winter Wonderlantern

Then there's this transformation of a frozen juice container! Yep...A. Frozen. Juice. Container. Tell me you would have ever guessed that's what this was:
I promise you, you will enjoy a visit to Michele's blog. Not only talented, but generous in sharing how she makes these gorgeous pieces! So go have a look at this week's BFF: michele made me