Happy Halloween!

Is this pumpkin cool or what?!?

My sister, Jill, emailed this picture to me Tuesday evening. She carves a pumpkin every year, and this is her 2008 Halloween Pumpkin. Thanks for letting me share it with everyone, Jill! I told her she would have to show the boys how to carve their pumpkins next year!

I can make things by being inspired by other things, but Jill's terrific at creating things from a blank slate. She's the creative, artistic one!

Have a safe and fun Halloween everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

Halloween Cards

With Halloween just two days away, I thought I'd share some past Halloween cards with you today. These are made with stamps sets that have been retired now, but you can always use the color schemes or layouts for inspiration!

The background on the cards is a little unconventional, but it's such a sunny day here I thought I'd get outside and take full advantage of it. It was snowing in PA this morning when I talked to my mom, so I'm thankful for the sunny day here. Please excuse the shadows!

The inspiration for the candy corn and "boo!" cards came straight out of a SU! Idea Book & Catalog. The final jack-o-lantern card idea came from a gallery on the SU! Demonstrator website a long time ago. I have no idea who made the original card, but whoever you are, thank you!

I have a special treat for you to see tomorrow, so be sure to check it out! It's perfect for Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by!

Holiday Place Settings

Shelli Gardner, CEO of Stampin' Up!, recently started her own blog. Last week, she posted about an appearance she made on a local morning talk show in Salt Lake City, where SU! is based. She included a link to the morning show's site where they have video of her segment with written instructions for the holiday place setting projects she demonstrated. I thought it was well done, so I'm passing it along to you to enjoy! Here's the link to Shelli's appearance on "Studio 5" on KSL, NBC's Salt Lake City affiliate. Let me know if you're interested in making something like this at a future workshop. I'm always interested in what new things you would like to try. Thanks for stopping by!

Baby Girl Flip Book III

Ok, this is the last post for the baby girl flip books. These little books are so fun to make, and you can put so many pictures in such a small little package! Here are pictures of the last little insert in the very middle of the book:

Have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by!

Baby Girl Flip Book II

As promised, here are pictures of the next layer inside of the baby girl flip books from yesterday:

Thanks for stopping by!

Baby Girl Flip Book I

Hello! Sorry to be posting later than usual today. It's been a crazier-than-normal week here. I made a flip book for Jim that I posted previously here. I also made two flip books as gifts for two friends who had baby girls this summer. I finally gave them to Olivia and Kristina, so now I can show them to you since they're not a secret anymore!

The flip books are made with the SU! Rock-a-Bye Girl Simply Scrappin' kit. (There's a Rock-a-Bye Boy kit available too!) I made both of them with one kit. Many of the die cuts are picture frames, so I gave Olivia and Kristina the sheets of die cuts to decorate the flip books themselves once they add their pictures. New Moms hardly have time to sleep, not to mention scrapbook! So these are ready for pictures whenever they have the time. The coordinating die cuts are self-adhesive, so they'll be a cinch to add as well. Here are a few pictures:

I'll post more pictures of the next "layer" tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by!

Chocolate Revel Bars

For Sunday afternoon's 8 for $10 Halloween Treats workshop, I had Chocolate Revel Bars here for a snack. There were extras, so I took them to my preschool board meeting that night. Everyone like them, so I thought I'd share the recipe. It can be found in the red and white checkered "Better Homes & Gardens" cook book if you have one--and most people do!

Chocolate Revel Bars

1 c. butter
2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla

Set aside 2 T. of the butter. In a large mixing bowl beat the remaining butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Stir in the oats. (I do all of this with my electric stand mixer.)

For filling, in a medium saucepan combine the reserved 2 T. butter, chocolate pieces, and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in the nuts and 2 tsp. vanilla. (I have never made these with nuts.)

Press two-thirds (approximately) of the rolled oats mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. (To make it easy to get the bars from the pan, I line my pan with parchment paper. After baking and cooling, you can run a knife around the edge and lift the whole pan of bars out easily. Then I use a pizza cutter to cut them into bars. They look great, and cleanup is easy!) Spread filling evenly over the oat mixture. Dot remaining rolled oats mixture on filling.

Bake in a 350F oven about 25 minutes or until top is light brown (chocolate filling will look moist). Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars and serve.

Variation: Substitute 1 c. whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour for the 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour. (I always make these this way.)
For some reason, fall seems like the best time to make these. I guess it's the oatmeal that makes them seem hearty and good cool-weather food. Thanks for stopping by!

Indianapolis Half Marathon

Many of you know that I have been training for a half marathon for most of the summer, or you have seen me in my running clothes running home from church every Sunday morning to get my long run in for the week. My race was Saturday morning at Historic Fort Benjamin in Lawrence, and I'm happy to say that I set a new personal record for myself. This was my third half marathon, which is 13.1 miles. I ran the race in 1:53:20, just a bit better than the first half marathon I ran in May 2005. Imagine that, you can run faster even when you're older!

time: 1 hour, 53 minutes, 20 seconds
average pace: 8 minutes, 38 seconds per mile
place overall: 603rd out of 2578 participants
age group place: 39th out of 245 women age 30 to 34

The coolest thing about my race was that I got to meet and shake hands with the governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels!!! We were running in residential Lawrence and fairly spaced out by that point in the race. I was sort of by myself for a stretch, and as I reached a turn, I noticed a man standing on the sidewalk watching the runners go by. That's not unusual, because many family and friends stand along the race route to cheer on the runners. He was very inconspicuous, wearing jeans, a jacket, ballcap and quietly drinking a cup of coffee. I looked over at him, and he looked at me, and I realized who it was. I excitedly waved and said, "Hey!" (No, I couldn't think of anything more meaningful than that at the time.) I ran over closer to the sidewalk and shook his hand. Most people were just running by concentrating on the race without even noticing him. I wonder if I blew his cover? He shook my hand very firmly and told me that I was doing terrific. (He didn't even fault me for wearing a PSU shirt here in IU and Purdue country.) He is up for re-election, is himself a runner and active person, and the fact that he came out to watch the race without making it a spectacle makes me respect him even more than I already do. I had a great run, felt awesome, and got to shake hands with the governor in a very casual, informal basis without a mob of people also fighting to meet him! My only regret is that I didn't get a picture or an autograph.
Saturday was an awesome day, one that I will never forget. I just had to tell you all about it. Oh, and to make it even better, PSU beat Michigan!!! What a great day! Thanks for stopping by!

October 8 for $10 - Halloween Treats

*This post will stay at the top until after the workshop on Sunday. Be sure to scroll down for newer posts. Thank you!*

October's 8 for $10 workshop is this Sunday afternoon at 2pm! It will feature Halloween Treats. I chose five treats, and couldn't decide which one not to make, so this month you'll actually get 10 for $10! The inspiration for these treats came from SU! Demonstrators listed below:

Yes, I know. You're saying, "I don't see any lollipops?!?" See the orange folded piece with the spooky scene on it? See the little hole in the bottom? That's where the stick would poke down through, and the folded part covers the lollipop. I have since purchased lollipops, but didn't take a new picture. You'll have to use your imagination!

Also, I sent a picture of the candy corn purses to my sister earlier this week. She thought they were cute, but that I was being stingy with the candy! We had some individually wrapped candy corn packs here for Halloween. I put one pack in each purse, and I didn't even think about whether or not it was enough. So never fear, I will be sure to have plenty of candy corn on hand for you all to fill your purses!

Post a comment to my blog letting me know you're going to attend, and I'll have a little extra treat for you! Thanks for stopping by!

More Spider Plants

Here are a few more spider plants that I planted in embellished glass globes. These weren't free, but I bought them at Walmart for just $0.59. One has a tag with a paper-pieced fall design, two have SU! Rub-ons added, and the last one is naked. I haven't been inspired to decorate that one yet. The front two in this picture were two of the door prizes for my Open House. Michelle and Kim, I hope your little plants are doing well! Thanks for stopping by!

Recycle, recycle, recycle!

Earlier this summer, my mother-in-law gave me a bunch of spider plant babies. (Thank you!) I had them all in a pot together for a while. When they got a little bigger, I thought they'd be cute in these little glass globes. They were from candles that I had gotten for free with a rebate from Menard's. After the candles were all gone, I cleaned them and planted the little plants in them. I gave these to a few friends, who I think may have then used them for Secret Sister gifts at church. I like to recycle! Thanks for stopping by!

Country Living

Stampin' Up has partnered with Country Living magazine in the past to offer special promotions on holiday stamping sets that are featured in issues of the magazine. They are doing it again this year beginning on November 1st. I'll be sure to post all the information about it when it gets here.

In the meantime, they're offering a special subscription offer. You can subscribe for one year of the magazine for just $12. Give the subscription as a gift! Included in the special is a set of four notecards with envelopes, a double-sided stamp, and a Stampin' Spot ink pad as a free gift with your subscription. You can get details by clicking on the image below or on the link over at the right under "Stampin' Up! Promotions". Thanks for stopping by!

My Flip Book

I made a flip book a few weeks ago so that I could show everyone a sample of one at my open house. This was an unopened, retired Simply Scrappin' kit that I had sitting on my stamping desk. I have never scrapbooked, so I was a little intimidated when it came to starting the project. It was so much fun! All the coordinating cardstock, patterned papers and self-adhesive die cuts took all the stress out of it, and it was just a breeze!

This is a very masculine looking flip book, so I didn't feel like a ribbon closure would be appropriate for it. We were discussing that at the stamp camp, and tossed around the idea of putting a Velcro closure on it. Then, someone mentioned using one of those nifty little magnetic closures that you see on purses a lot. I think I'll look for some of those for it! I love the great ideas you get when you sit around crafting with friends! Thanks for stopping by!

Flip Book Stamp Camp

"What are flip books?" you're asking. Flip books are handmade 6x6 scrapbooks made with half of a Simply Scrappin' kit by SU! The ladies who attended stamp camp today created flip books with the kit of their choice, purchased at my open house in September. (I first learned about flip books here on Patty Bennett's blog.)
The $10 class fee included:
  • preparation of the cardstock for flip book assembly
  • written instructions to make a flip book
  • coordinating SU! ribbon to create a tied closure for each book
  • lunch: pasta fagioli, wheat rolls, pumpkin "dirt"

The written instructions I handed out were from two SU! Demonstrator blogs, Chiaki Haverstick and Amy Celona. Thank you for your excellent written instructions, Ladies!

Recipes for the pasta fagioli, wheat rolls, and pumpkin "dirt" can be found over on my "Cookin' with Melissa" blog.

Here are pictures of the ladies' flip books in various stages of progress. Thank you all for attending today!

Thanks for stopping by!

Table Tent Calendars

Here's another project I finished on my recent streak of productivity. The original idea for these little table tent calendars came from my upline, Bobbie Lawrence. She made these for a swap and gave me one. I used a variety of retired DSDSP to make fifteen of them. These were a gift for anyone who gave me their RSVP by a given deadline for my Open House. I have some left over, so if you're interested in purchasing one for $2, email me. As before, you can find them in the Gift Shop!

1-2-3-4 Apple Cake & Iced Coffee Punch

A few of you were interested in the recipe for the apple cake I served at my Open House. I attended kindergarten at a Montessori school in Philadelphia. I have this recipe from my kindergarten class. The 1-2-3-4 in the name was incorporated into a counting and numbers lesson. I added a little more sweetness by making a basic powdered sugar drizzle icing and added some cinnamon. Enjoy!
1-2-3-4 Apple Cake

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
3 c. flour
4 eggs

1 c. milk
3 tsp. baking powder
6 apples (I always use Granny Smith for baking.)
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs and mix just until combined. Add milk and mix again. Add dry ingredients and mix again just till combined.

Peel and slice apples and place in a separate bowl. Toss the sliced apples with the cinnamon and sugar.

Lightly grease a bundt cake pan. Layer the batter and apples, beginning and ending with a batter layer. Bake for 1 hour.
I also served a beverage called "Iced Coffee Punch" which my upline, Bobbie, served at her open house a few weeks before mine. I liked it so much I asked her for the recipe.
Iced Coffee Punch
  • Dissolve 1/3 c. instant coffee crystals in 1 c. hot water. (I wanted a little stronger coffee flavor, so I used 1/2 c.)
  • Mix together with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. (I used fat free condensed milk just to take a few calories out and make it a little less decadent!)
  • Mix well.
  • Add 1 gallon chocolate milk and 1 c. cold water.
  • Add enough white milk to make 2 gallons.
  • Chill and serve over ice.

I hope you give these recipes a try the next time you're up for trying something new. I love to bake pumpkin, apple, cranberry and spice recipes this time of year! Thanks for stopping by!

Cards for the Troops at Girls' Night In

Last month at the WCC GNI, we made greeting cards for an 8 for $10 workshop. The ladies made eight cards, two each of four designs. They could then keep one of each card and donate the other to be sent to Iraq. Many of the ladies donated all eight of their cards. The pictures below show the four cards we made. The Halloween card was in a SU! publication last October. The Christmas and "Thinking of You" cards were inspired by Andrea Walford. The birthday card design came from my upline, Bobbie Lawrence.

A family at WCC has its father/husband serving in Iraq with a unit of the IN National Guard. In addition to the GNI cards, we had a card drive where anyone could donate money for additional cards or donate cards themselves. Last week, I shipped a little over 300 greeting cards to him so that he and his squadron could use them in the coming months to send back to their families at birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. Thank you to all who participated in the card drive and the Girls' Night In!

Thanks for stopping by!

Magnetic Grocery Lists

Continuing my streak of finishing unfinished projects, I put together some magnetic grocery lists a few weeks ago as well. I had some cut notepads left from the WCC April GNI that I decided to embellish with some SU! DSDSP (double-sided designer series paper). Again, these would make great gifts for Secret Santa, teachers, friends, etc. These are on sale for $3 as well in the Stampin' with Melissa Gift Shop. (See the link on the right.) Email me if you're interested. Thanks for stopping by!

Embellished Notepads

A few weeks ago, I decided to finish some projects that were taking up space in my stamping area. At the WCC July Girls' Night In (GNI) we made embellished notebooks. I had a few extras, so I decided to go ahead and decorate them. They include a matching pen and would make perfect little gifts for Secret Santa, teachers, etc. If you're interested in purchasing one for $3, email me. Thanks for stopping by!

Open House Make & Take

Last weekend I hosted a "Grand ReOpening" open house to welcome back previous stampers and invite some new ones to my stamping workshops. There was a mixture of experienced stampers and new stampers, so I wanted my M&T card to be very easy for everyone, but lovely as well.

I decided to CASE (Copy And Share Everything) a card by Andrea Walford, but use a different DSDSP and color scheme. The Upsy Daisy stamp set was one of a few sets offered at 15% off by SU! during the month of September in their "Never Before Seen" promotion. Thanks for stopping by!


Hi! Welcome to my little corner of the internet! I NEVER thought I'd do this, but never say, "Never," because it'll surely be something you end up doing.

I'm a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator, but the worst salesperson in the world! I hate the idea of selling things to people, so I concentrate on teaching people things about crafting that they probably don't already know. I like the feeling of helping someone who doesn't think they're "crafty" make something lovely and feel proud of themselves for doing it.

I will also be the first to tell you that I don't easily craft from a blank slate. I take things I see on other blogs and websites and adapt it to my tastes and abilities. So you'll be seeing credits to many wonderful ladies who are much more talented than I.

I became a Stampin' Up! (SU!) demonstrator back in April 2006. Later that year I gave birth to our second son and took a sabbatical from stamping. Earlier this year I restarted some stamping workshops at church, calling them "Girls' Night In". We have made things to donate to various ministries and will continue to do so in the coming months.

Just this past weekend, I held an open house to celebrate my "Grand ReOpening" as a SU! demo. I miss getting together with all the gals to stamp, make something pretty and gab. Hopefully, they'll enjoy the workshops as much as I do. In my next post, I'll show you the Make & Take (M&T) card from my open house. Thanks for stopping by!