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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Take a look at Vintage Valentine

I had so much fun playing with Sweetmade's great new kit, Vintage Valentine, that I just have to share my layouts with you. Read far enough, and you will also find a link to some freebies I made for Sweet.

Here's vintage photo I scrapped with Vintage Valentine:


And a vintage postcard scrapped with the same kit:


Believe it or not, this is me and my husband when we were dating in high school. Circa 1968. His mother kept this photo all these years, even when he had married someone else! I titled it "Gotcha" because that's what he had inscribed inside my wedding band when we married in 1996.


And these are my parents. One of the last photos of them together before we lost Mom to lung cancer. They were married about 55 years and,as you can see, still held hands.

Link to kit: or http://ashaleeandsweet.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=&products_id=2055 BTW It's on sale right now!


Here are some e0cards I made with Vintage Valentine and gave to Sweet. YOu can get them for free in the store.

Link to the e-cards above: or http://ashaleeandsweet.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=&products_id=2105

And here are some candy bar wrappers that fit standard Hershey bars. Print on glossy photo paper or cardstock. Nice to put in lunchboxes and briefcases as a surprise. They are free in the store too.

http://ashaleeandsweet.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=&products_id=2106

Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I got an award! In November while . . .

my computer was kaput!



A much belated Thank you to Caryl Hoobler of If you love mixed media art, you must stop at Caryl's blog!

She also tagged me to tell & 7 Random Things About Myself & then tag 7 others to do the same

1) I love Vintage! Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau especially
2) I collect tea cups and tea pots & pretty near anything related to tea lol.
3) I don't draw at all well - my son has that talent - but I'm going to start a visual journal for the first time this year and include sketches.
4) I love to write. That's on my mind 'cause I just posted a blog entry about an odd writing prompt I drew this week.
5) In my opinion, there can never be enough books!
6) My husband was my high school sweetheart. We married after being apart over twenty years. Inside my wedding band he had "Gotcha" inscribed.
7) I don't do well with numbers (I'm a words person) but once taught a simple class in multiple regression as part of a general sociology class I helped teach.

I Heart the following people and also encourage them to play 7 Random Things
1) Barb Derksen aka Mrs Miles. When I'm down, I always can find something on Barb's blog to cheer me up. It's thoughtful & inspiring. I admire her digital art. Love her recipes. (Thanks for introducing me to Artisian Bread). Find Barb here http://lalalime.blogspot.com

2) Sabre at Quill & Parchment -- oops messed up her addy so will have to edit later. Sorry!

3)Christy Hydeck whose art and life are beautiful and inspiring. Read her blog here:
http://chrysti.wordpress.com/

4) Deb, The Scrapping Cop who generously shares her art and her knowledge with everyone who comes to her blog:
http://thescrappincop.blogspot.com/

5) Peggy Hostetler - for sharing her wisdom. Read her blog here: http://thesimplewoman.blogspot.com Especially check this link to the Simple Woman's Day Book : http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/2009/01/daybooks-for-week-of-january-5th.html

6) Candee of Mermaid's Haven. Beautiful digital designs and a generous, loving person. Her computer is laput so she might be on back for awhile but she's being missed. http://mermaidshaven.blogspot.com/

7) Lou Cee Creations - wonderful digital and hybrid scrapping! Visit her here: http://louclark.blogspot.com

Note: Had to come back and edit in those addresses. Goggle must hate me 'cause I use the link widget and I can see the links on the edit page but they disappear when published! No fun.

Writing Prompt from yesterday

Yesterday I reached into my little copper pot where I keep tiny cards with writing prompts and drew out this one:

The man with the dandelion in his lapel . . .

Hmm - left me blank for a minute so I went into the kitchen to tidy things up. Suddenly I got an image and grabbed an envelope out of the wastepaper basket and here's what I wrote:



What? can't read my scribble? Try this:
The man with a dandelion in his lapel . . . had a big smile for everyone as he hawked his brightly colored balloons at the children's fair. But the smile was painted on and was part of the clown costume he wore. As he bent to gently tie the ribbon of a balloon to a little girl's wrist, I saw a tear roll down his cheek and wondered why. The girl's mother must have seen it too because, avoiding eye contact, she quickly said, "Thank you," and hurried her toddler off.

What was his story? Why was the man with the dandelion in his lapel and a big smile painted on his face so sad? I wanted to know, because his gentleness with the child and his tear had touched me. But I must have communicated my feelings somehow, for when I glanced back at him, he met my eyes with eyes that had seen some great sorrow and shook his head, while the real mouth inside the painted one quivered slightly. So I nodded in acceptance and turned to go. After a few steps though, I had to turn back. He was watching me, so I blew him a kiss and quickly walked away.


What do you think?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January Mega Kit from DDD

Check our store for the huge January mega kit, Winter Fun. For $9.99 you get 50 papers and lots of elements. Winter sports, snowmen, winter animals, elegant decos - all included. Preview below.


http://digitaldesignersden.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=145&products_id=442

We also have a set of 12 quickpages made from the kit:

Find them here:

http://digitaldesignersden.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_104&products_id=386

And our Decemeber mega, FallInto Christmas is still available too.

A Paryer for Ephiphany

Yes, I'm late with this due to migraines. However, it's a beautiful prayer, so will share with you.

Jesus, Light of the World, at Ephiphany, we celebrate your revelation to the world -- Your majesty in the visit of the Magi, Your mission, in Your baptisim in the Jordan, Your ministry and miraculous powers, in the marriage feast of Cana.

This new year, may we ever more faithfully seek You, worship You, and walk by Your light, so that we may help bring Your love and life to all people, and Your kingdom to earth.

Amen

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Recipe: Easy Chicken & Dumplings

thought today I'd share a recipe to be different and since I was made chicken and dumplings, why not that one? A few words to preface the recipe. If you like fat, fluffy dumplings, this is not for you. My recipe makes what my paternal grandmother, Nanny Lambert, always called "slickems" - thin, somewhat slick dumplings. Also note that this is not Nanny's recipe, or my mother's which was derived from Nanny's (the one dish my mother thought her MIL cooked better than her own mother or father!). Nanny and Mom always did the boil a whole chicken, pick out all the bones etc. routine. Not for me! My recipe uses only skinless, boneless chicken breasts because I only like white chicken meat, which is better for you anyway, especially without the fatty skin. Also, if I forget to defrost the chicken, I've found I can still chop the frozen chicken breasts and get on with cooking. Also, Nanny used Criscoe shortening and Mom used half Criscoe and half margerine; I use all Parkay stick margerine because I like the butter flavor and it helps make up for the lack of chicken fat. Now, my husband has a very hearty appetite so I always make a big batch to insure ther being leftovers. You can easily cut down on the amount of chicken you put in (think one boullion cube for every breast you use) and cut the dumpling part in half to make a smaller batch. That said, here's how to do it.

Easy Chicken and Dumplings
Ingredients: 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 3 chicken boullion cubes, 4 cups plain (not self-rising) flour plus a little more to use when rolling out dough; 2/3 c Parkay margerine; 4 tsp. baking powder; 1-2 tsp salt; approximately 1 and 1/2 c milk: parsley flakes.

1) Cook chicken and prepare broth: Chop chicken breasts into bite sized cubes and put into a 5 quart dutch oven filled with cold water. Unwrap boullion cubes and drop in. Allow to boil until chicken is done and all floats to the surface. Some "scumb" will form on the water. This is natural and can be left alone but if it offends you, go ahead and skim it off.

2) To make dumplings, place flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Use a fork to distribute the baking powder and salt through the mixture. Slice the stick Parkay into slices about 1/2 inch thick and add to bowl. Use a pastry blender to work the Parkay into the flour mixture until mixture resembles small pebbles. Gradually add milk, blending in with a fork until dough forms. If chicken is still cooking, this is fine to let sit for a few minutes.

3) Sprinkle flour on pastry sheet or piece of waxed paper. Flour your hands and break off a small portion of the dough and place it on floured pastry sheet or wax paper. If dough is a little sticky, roll in a small amount of flour. Using a rolling pin you've dusted with flour, roll dough out thin and cut into squares with a table knife.

4) Drop squares, a few at a time into boiling broth with chicken. They will sink to the bottom and rise to surface a short time after. Addd a few dumplings at a time, gently moving aside the ones on surface with a wooden spoon.

5) repeat step 3 and 4 until all dough has been made into dumplings and all are in the pot. Once the last group has risen to the surface, reduce heat and allow to simmer about 10-15 mintues. Stir gently and often to keep dumplings from sticking to bottom of the pot.

6) In the last few minutes of cooking, add about 1/4 cup parsley flakes and a little milk to make the broth richer.

Enjoy!

Stranger Than Fiction

Yes, the movie with Dustin Hoffman and Will Farrow. Running late on my blogging (this was inteneded for 1/3) because hubby and I watched this movie after our company left. He fell asleep on the sofa so missed a lot, but that's okay. We'll watch it again together. He's felt poorly all day; think he's coming down with something.

Tonight (oops last night) had fun. My sister-in-law and her husband came over to play cards. We used to do that a lot but it's been ages since the last time. So we ordered subs from Zero's, caught up on family news a little. (My missing neice, Katherine, might be in Georgia now. Long story which is likely part fiction.) Played Phase 10 which can be fairly lively; joked and laughed.

A simple, pleasant evening, all in all.

Later, while watching the movie, I randomly opened a book I'd bought some time ago and re-discovered on my shelf recently. It's called Stirring The Waters: Writing To Find Your Spirit by Janell Moon, who is a college writing professor and hypnotherapist..

I love to collect books about writing and this one is filled with wonderful quotations and lots of excellent ideas for topics to write about in your journal.

Tonight the first thing I saw when I opened the book to a random page was this:
"I am right where I am supposed to be." The exercise that accompanies this suggests asking yourself these questions: 1)"How can I simplify my life in . . . " these areas: "Home, Lifestyle (include shopping and wardrobe), Personal Relationships, and Healthy Eating." 2) "What would be the threat in simplification . . ." in these areas? 3) What would be the happiness to be found in doing this? 4) "What would the process be to simplify and find your way to happiness?"

Doesn't this seem appropriate for the new year since we associate a new year with resolutions for positive change? I think so.

So, how can I simplify my life? Because Moon happens to be right; there are some ways I need simplification.

Home: the biggest issue for me is decluttering. closely followed by a consistent approach to housekeeping. What's the threat here? I might declutter and throw out something I'll need or want later. The happiness? Less to keep clean! And a more consistent approach to housekeeping sounds like putting more time and energy into it. The threat with that is more fatigue and pain and less time/energy for doing what I want to do. The happiness? I like a clean house as well as anyone and I know my husabnd would appreciate it if my cleaning was more consistent. If I could manage to get into a better routine, eventually it would be less labor intensive and therefore less fatiguing and painful to keep up. Getting to that point is the killer! And no, I can't afford to hire a maid service to get things clean and straight so that all I'd have to do is upkeep.

Lifestyle: mine is pretty simple already as far as wardrobe goes. I don't get out much so haven't much of a wardrobe and this past summer ruthlessly cleaned out the closet and dresser, giving away or throwing away things that I no longer used or could fit into, or things that were worn out. The threat was that I wouldn't have anything to wear for certain occasions should they come up. However, that wasn't real since I could no longer wear those clothes comfortably anyway! The happiness was in having less to go through in the closet. As far as shopping goes, this must be meant to refer to my penchant for collecting sewing and craft materials. The threat presented by not shopping for certain things for projects is having to make due with lesser materials I might have on hand. The happiness is more money in the bank.

Personal Relationships: simplify seems an odd word to apply here but I'm thinking on it. What does it mean to simplify a relationship? Did Moon mean giving up those relationships that no longer "fit" where people are just going throught the motions? Or does she perhaps mean learning to let someone else be "right."? Not pushing your point of view, not escalating an agrument - simply refuse to argue?

Healthy Eating: yep, need to improve there and one way to simplify that would be to only buy things that are good for me - no junk food! The threat: missing the tast of chocolate! Lol. Seriously, I know the answer is all things in moderation. If you don't purchase anything but healthy foods you risk having a snack attack and finding nothing in the kitchen to suit your cravings. You risk having the blues and wanting comfort food and finding there is none. On the other hand, happiness would be the body responding in gratitude for more water, less coffee; more vegetables less sugar. And lower blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol, etc., etc.

Definitely worht thinking about.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions - Some Thoughts

So many people will be making new year's resolutions or made them yesterday, that I thought I'd add a few thoughts of my own about this annual project.

First, don't make a huge list of things you want to change; you will be overwhelmed and feel you've failed if you don't follow through on all of them. Chose one or two things that are very important to you, or perhaps chose one thing each in the various areas of your life: family, health, spirituality, education and so on. If you go that route, keep it simple for best success.

If you are serious about your resolutions, write them down and post yourself a reminder (just a few words to represent each resolution) in a place you will see it daily. Sometimes it helps to share these resolutions with a friend. Once you do, it's like a contract; you will feel an obligation to follow through and your friend can be supportive in this.

Keeping a journal about your progress with the resolution(s) can be helpful too. Today, I got an e-mail about a new Squido Lens on journaling that I'd like to pass along.
It's brief but has links to some nice journal related sites such as How To Write A Journal Entry: Useful information if you've never kept a journal but want to start. See also A Creative Journal, How To Write Meaningful Journal Entries:

You may rightly guess that I'm a fan of journals. When I taught writing, I made journaling a part of my students' assignments and insisted on meaningful entries. Of course, all that was prefaced by explaining why I wanted them to journal, how it was good for them. If you haven't tried journaling, let me give you a brief list of reasons why you should: writing - anything - a little evey day improves your writing skills; writing about problems and concerns lessens stress (seriously, there are studies to prove this!); writing about issues on which you must make a decision helps you focus your thoughts and come to a decision more easily; writing down resolutions or plans of action makes those things more concrete and making them more concrete helps you take action. I could go on, but you get the picture, don't you?

Do I keep a journal? Yes, but I'm not one to make a rule about writing in it every day. However, I do writing of some sort everyday. Do I have a preference for writing in a book or on paper or writing on the computer? I sure do! I recommend journaling on paper as opposed to on computer. And, personally, I prefer college ruled notebook paper and a loose leaf binder to bound journals. Bound journals can be beautiful and appealing as books, great for shelving. However, I find them awkward to write in. If it's awkward, I'm less likely to write in it. I need lines! and I like to be able to remove pages without ripping them out. So, for me, ruled notebook paper and binder work the best. Another reason I choose paper instead of the computer for journaling is that writing something out by hand, you can use techniques to trick the inner censor in your brain and therefore say what you really mean. When you type on a computer keyboard, you are at a distance from your words, and if you're not a real typist (I'm not) you really have to think about what you are typing out and watch for mistakes that might make your page unreadable at a later time. Freewriting (a technique to trick the inner censor) doesn't really work on the computer. Okay, some typists might disagree with me saying their fingers can quickly carry out the mind's commands for words without censoring, but I really doubt it. So you don't get any surprises and any amazing insights like you can by writing quickly on a page.

Also, you can't as easily think through ideas on the computer like you can on a piece of paper. For instance, an idea comes to you for a theme for a new project. On a piece of paper, you can go off into doing a clustering exercise to generate more thoughts on the subject. On a computer, you can make a list. Not as spontaneous and not as easy to draw lines connecting one idea to another. And paper allows you to paste in color swatches, photos, appealing images from magazines, draw sketches. etc. Those things can make a journal more interesting. Granted, I've not kept a visual journal before. I don't have much in the way of drawing skills and I've tended to clip images etc and put aside for collage making; even when the appealing images really aren't the sort of things that would work in the collages I make. Lol. However, I plan to start a visual journal this month and see how it goes. Something new. A new year should have some new activities, don't you think?

Resolutions - am I making any? Part of me wants to say no, and just be grateful for each day and live in the moment. Part of me that loves lists, wants me to think through what improvements I can make in various areas of my life. There are plenty of improvements to make, to be sure. However, I'm reading the Tao De Ching (Wayne Dyer's version in Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life) and today I am practicing the wisdom of acting not planning. For this moment, acting is writing about resolutions and journaling. That done, I'm going to go make some papers for the DDD February mega.

Best of luck on your New Year's Resolutions. One final thought: if you need help deciding on a resolution, here is an easy one you can carry out. Resolve to practice one RAK (random act of kindness) each week. It doesn't have to be anything big. Any gesture or words that convey kindness, comfort, love to another human being; expect nothing in return. Every day is full of opportunities for this. Then you might privately journal at the end of the month about how this has enriched your life and that of those around you.

Let us all strive to make 2009 a more peaceful and loving year.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Seems like 2008 just zipped by. How did you spend New Year's Eve? My husband and I continued a family tradition begun when he lived in Brooklyn: we went out for a Chines dinner. Just the two of us, to one of our local favorites. Came home, played on computer for awhile, I caught up on e-mail and he went in to nap on the sofa. Woke him up at 11:30 and we sat together talking about this and that, switching channels on the TV and waited for the ball to drop. Had champagne in my West Virginia blue crystal champagne glasses, kissed when the clock struck midnight, toasted the new year and each other. All very quiet, then off to bed about thirty minutes into the new year. Big change from the years when he used to dj parties on New Year's Eve.

My paternal grandmother used to say that what you do on New Year's Day, you do all year long. If so, we should have a more peaceful year. Hubby was sweet and fixed me breakfast (and no, that's not going to happen every day) We just relaxed all day. He worked on his train simulator where he is creating his version of New York city's subway system. I read store e-mail, played a couple games on-line, sorted some of my files, all the while letting plans for Vintage Vixens next kit and DDD's next mega simmer in my brain. Hubby had calls from two people who can often raise his blood pressure but he managed to stay calm and not get loud on the phone; hope that's a sign for the future. I read more of Wayne Dyer's translation of the Tao Te Ching in his book, Change Your Thoughts, Change your Life. A quiet day at home.

Some things will be different this year. Echo, my partner in Vintage Vixens and co-owner of our store, Digital Designer's Den, and I resigned from all our other stores. This way we can devote our time and energies to our store. We have lots of ideas for things we want to do at DDD this year and a couple new designers coming in too. Expect to see more hybrid items, some classes, and more DDD exclusives.

And on that note, I'm off to work on our Febrauary mega kit, Love Tokens.