Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December Blog Giveaway and Review


Here we are, doing so much for others, (above is my granddaughter going to her first Christmas ballet recital) which is fun but it is also nice to pamper ourselves a bit.

My favorite pampering, well, that would be a nice visit to the spa, a great meal out, and a show; however, finances and time is limited so I have to do something else....hmmm,,,something that will keep me looking fresh without a lot of out of pocket expense!!! Lip balm!! Yep, I said it, lip balm, I am fanatical about keeping my lips moisturized, not for appearance sake, but I just do not like it when they feel dried out as this time of the year can do...(no, it has nothing to do with my being over 40 and them losing their lusciousness!! It's the cold air I tell you!!! Wait, gotta push my eyeglasses back up so I can see this screen,,dern, just don't make computer screens like they used to, I have to wear glasses now to see what I am typing...What, that has to do with old age too!! Boy, you guys are filled with Holiday spirit!

I have a new BFF (remember those loyal followers who have been tortured with my writings since the inception of my blog recall my posting about my BFF the Roomba and the Scooba) well, those are my cleaning friends, my pampering friend that goes with me everywhere is my new SoftLips Lip balm. Why do I love SoftLips so much, well, it is not sticky and tacky like a lot of balms I have used, but very smooth and silky, not to mention long lasting. I use it every night before bed and my lips feel great in the morning. I have one on my nightstand, my desk, and one in my purse and really enjoy them.

They have an SPF 20 which is great for us here in Florida, where it is still sunny, and for my friends up north to fight the brutal cold air, maybe we'll have a bad hair day, but at least our lips will look great. The balms come in some fun flavors:

· New in 2009! Softlips® Sugar & Spice paired with vanilla

· New in 2009! Softlips® Sugar Plum Berry paired with raspberry

· Softlips® Winter Mint paired with vanilla

· Softlips® Sugar Cookie paired with cherry

You can you get your own little tubes of pampering for a suggested retail price of $2.99 to $3.99 for the dual-stick pack. Now through out the holiday/winter season, the limited addition flavors Sugar & Spice and Sugar Plum Berry will be available in Target and Winter Mint and Sugar Cookie will be available at Walgreens or you can enter my blog giveaway for a free dual tube of your own!


  • To enter just leave a comment of your favorite way to pamper yourself and your email address for one entry.
  • Tweet the giveaway for 2 entries use #NCDGW
  • Refer to this giveaway in your blog for 3 entries
  • Visit my online studio and let me know what item you would like to see in my shop for 4 entries.
Giveaway ends on December 31st, plenty of time to get entries in and look forward to a little special package just for yourself for the new year. Winner will be selected randomly and announced here the first week of January.

Congrads to Robin Titan for winning the Pamper yourself contest!! Thank you everyone for entering and stop back by for more free giveaways.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday treasures

It's that time of year, when the world falls in love, every song you hear....well, you know the rest. This is a special time when we all want our to spend special time with family and loved ones. My fellow artisans have some beautiful creations for this magical time of the year that I wanted to share with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Handpainted and handsewn Santa

A surprised snowman! Did he just see the shopping center parking lots!

Hand knit stocking ready for filling on Christmas Eve

Greeting cards! I like to display mine on one wall in my living room, they seem to make a festive statement all by themselves.

Holiday Jewelry

Festive Fashions

Andrea has such lovely work, and this Holiday Colored Peruvian Knit Scarf is no exception, certain to keep any fashionista warm

Again, for the Diva in us all, watch out now!! I just love this!

I hope you all have a very blessed Holiday Season. I want to leave you with a clip from my favorite Scrooge; the musical featuring Albert Finney. Enjoy and many blessings during this joyous season and throughout the new year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Thanksgiving Recipes

Okay folks, again, I love Thanksgiving and being the creature of habit that I am, I usually make the same things every year, but I love them all so it is truly a treat to cook and eat! I wanted to share my menu and recipes with you, just in case you may be looking for something new to try. I have made well over 25 Thanksgiving dinners and these are my favorite recipes. Hope you enjoy!

Here is my menu:

Brined Turkey
Sausage and herb savory stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Candied sweet potatoes
Mixed fresh greens
Greenbean casserole (French onion one)
Jellied and berried cranberry sauce
Pumpkin Pie
Reese peanut butter ice cream pie
Banana pudding

Okay, I cook the a lot of my dinner on Wednesday afternoon / evening so we will start there:

Brine the turkey: I just started brining my turkey a couple of years ago and it comes out wonderfully. In the past, I have used the majority of ingredients in this Bobby Flay recipe, the kosher salt, sugar, water, and brown sugar....But this year I am going with Alton Brown because I like the extras that he has in his recipe, seems more Thanksgivingy to me. I put my turkey in a double thickness trash bag because I do not have a container big enough to put it in and it fits right back in my refrigerator in my roasting pan, for extra security so that nothing will leak out. I put it right side up first then flip it to breast side up to rest overnight in the brine.

Stuffing: Now, I really do not have measurements for my stuffing. I use one package of sage sausage and saute that along with about 3 diced onions and several diced stalks of celery. I also add sliced mushrooms. The spices I like to add include sage, garlic, Mrs. Dash or any other season salt you like, salt and pepper to taste, and I do plenty of tasting and adding while cooking this. I also use real butter, not margarine, in my stuffing, following the package, using bagged sage stuffing mix. Nothing too elaborate like dicing up my own bread and whatnot. Pretty simple to make and delicious.

Greens: Again, really no measuring, just making this to taste. I saute some type of ham hocks, then, I cover the ham hocks in water and let simmer about 15 minutes while I slice up more onions (ugh, I know, my least favorite job). I like to use fresh collard and kale greens. I wash the greens and do not cut them up too much, just a bit. I keep adding them and layer the greens with onions and with season salt(Mrs. Dash), salt, and pepper with a bit of water so the pan is about 1/3 filled with water. Now, I put the top on the pan while I am washing and cutting the greens and onions so that they will simmer down and reduce in volume so I can add more.
These cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until they are cooked to your desired consistency. Season them to taste. Refrigerate after cooking so they will be just ready for heating on Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Pie: Nothing spectacular, just follow the directions on the canned pumpkin with the graham cracker crust.

Reese Peanut Butter Cup No Bake Pie: This super easy recipe is always a hit!

Banana Pudding: I use one box of instant vanilla pudding, 1 can of evaporated milk, 3/4 can sweetened condensed milk, mix and let set. Fold in 1 tub of cool whip. Layer into your serving dish with the Vanilla wafers cookies at the bottom, bananas, then mixture all the way to the top with the banana layer with cookies at the very top. Cover and refrigerate for the next day, make sure to make a little cup for you to enjoy in the evening before Thanksgiving with a little bit of egg nog!

Thanksgiving Day:
Turkey: Remove from the Brine and pat dry, I put butter under the skin of the breast along with some celery leaves and onion in the cavity, rub the entire turkey with butter and season. In pot heat white wine and 2 sticks of real butter, remove from heat, submerge cheese cloth and cover the turkey with the cheese cloth. I do add stuffing to my bird, but it is a personal preference.

Mashed potatoes: Boil Idaho potatoes, then remove skin, dice. Mash them along with real butter, milk, and Miracle Whip (yes, it has to be Miracle Whip) and season with salt and pepper to taste while combining.

Candied potatoes: Emerils recipe is very similar to my own, except I use canned sweet potatoes., just easier for me.

Punch: I combine frozen concentrated 2 cans grape juice, 1 lemonade, 1 cranberry, 1 lime and whatever else catches my fancy. Add Gingerale, sliced lemon, lime. (squeeze a lemon, lime, tangerine and whatever else you may like inside as well)

So, put on a great movie (I love My Fair Lady the night before), just do pizza that night as well so I can just relax while cooking that night with a nice glass of wine.

Here are a couple of songs for this favorite of mine! Hope you love it, if you have not seen it, please do if you get a chance.

The next day, I enjoy the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with a great breakfast, then start cooking the next part of my meal (the turkey) after the parade while watching Miracle on 31st Street.

The next day after Thanksgiving, I put up my tree, enjoy the lights and some egg nog with delicious leftovers and Holiday music, this is my favorite time of the year.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday Sesame Street

Sesame Street has been around for as long as I can remember. I can recall vividly rushing in from elementary school so I could watch Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. While Mr. Rogers is no longer with us; Sesame Street remains. I have watched this as a child, with my children, and now with my granddaughter.

Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969 and is the longest running children's program on US television and here is to another 40! I have some wonderful charm bracelets in my online studio that you can receive free (please see shop announcements for details), these are the Sesame Street characters I have and below is a sample bracelet, your choice of charm would be crafted with complementing beading .

I wanted to share some vintage Sesame Street clips with you that hopefully will bring a smile. Enjoy!

Two Little Girls and a Little Dollhouse, ahh the memories.

My First Rollercoaster

Not so Vintage, but was my son's favorite over 20 years ago! New way to sing the ABCs, still love it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Treasures

I love the month of November! We begin to get a bit of crispness in the air here in Florida; even though I have yet to see the leaves change colors here as they do for my friends up North, I can remember what a breathtaking sight that is from my childhood in W.Va.

November holds claim to another event close to my heart, Thanksgiving: the official start of the Christmas season. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning with a delicious breakfast, working on the turkey while watching Miracle on 34th Street and the IAMS dog show. Thanksgiving is all about family, great food, and spending time with loved ones.

This month, I am featuring wonderful Thanksgiving offerings from my fellow artisans. Enjoy!

Colorful Digital Print, perfect to display in the office or home

Fanciful Bountiful Fall Accessories

Beautiful Fall Earrings

Red and Orange Autumn Earrings

Having a bad hair day? This will take the focus away from any flaws and show your love for autumn.

Wishes for the Season for the Foyer or Table Display

Table Settings: The perfect basket to adorn any Thanksgiving banquet and fun coasters to keep the tabletops safe.

I mentioned earlier how I love Thanksgiving for the past few years, after the parade, they show Miracle on 34th Street, now, while I have this on DVD, I still watch it every year while cooking and really enjoy my Thanksgiving Day. I wanted to share this fantastic trailer with you that is really special and includes a cameo from Rex Harrison (one of my favs!)

I hope that you enjoyed these offerings and that you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween in my Neighborhood

Well, last year my granddaughter decided she wanted to be a ladybug for Halloween, now, I do not know exactly why she made this decision, because she really was afraid of bugs at the time, but I bet that neat wand had a lot to do with it...see, it is all about the accessories!! This year, she said she wants to be Cinderella, so we will see what happens once she actually gets into the costume shop!

I thought it would be fun to share how some of the folks in my neighborhood decorate for Halloween. I will add additional photos as soon as I can make a longer trek, I have been a bit swamped with work lately, so off we go!

Now, while this is most certainly not the most creative of all the decorations, wait to you see my outdoor decorations at the bottom of this posting!! But what I love about this house is the cozy setup they have in the front with the little white picket fence and the rocking chairs. I would love to have this at my humble abode...sigh...but I do like my view better, so give and take right?

This home has a lot of Halloween stuff. The owner told me she decorates the most for Halloween because there is no way she can compete with the Christmas decorating, so she is the Halloween queen and she has a big party every year. These tombstones are almost as spooky as the ones at my favorite "haunted mansion"...want to see those..okay, here we are.

Fun, fun, fun. My granddaughter likes to take our evening walk down the block to see this house. I cannot imagine why because our own decorations are out of this world....Wait until you see what I came up with!!! Ah yes, the anticipation right!?

Hmmm, I think my GD touched something slimy in this scarecrow's hand, she has that, ugh, kind of look on her face! LOL. This is my next door neighbor's home (I heard that they go all out in competition with our other neighbor for Christmas, but there is a new kid on the block this year!!!yep, that is me, and what I did for Halloween was just a warm up of things to come!)....are you ready to see my masterpiece!!!! Okay, drumroll folks.......

Yes!!! That is the front of my house!! After hours of deliberating with my GD on the perfect decoration...well, okay, she spent a lot of time running over to the costumes, wanting me to push the button on all the display decorations that she saw a "red dot" on...she might not be able to read the "push here" words but she knows what that red dot means!!, and of course, she had to look at the candy, and ride the mechanical horse on the way in and out of the store, so our actual time spent picking out our Centerpiece....I mean only piece! was actually only about 5 minutes. (she picked it out because she did not want anything too scary and we just left Disney last month), so here it is....we also have a trash bag ghost we made last week hanging up in our tree in the front yard for a perfect extra touch! I was going to post that as well, but I did not want to put too much pressure on everyone to go all out like I did.

Well, what do you think! Great stuff huh, want to see some, well, okay, come on inside and see what I have done on the inside, if you think the outside was something special!

Here is my autumn display in the front foyer, notice the mini scarecrow prominently displayed to show that it is truly autumn, never mind the 80 degree temperature outside and vivid green leaves on all the trees, it is autumn inside the house!

and here is my coffee table in my office/studio where I spend most of my days and usually enjoy dinner with a nice glass of vino and my lighted candle in the evening to wind down after a hard day of work...ahhh, life is good.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little corner of the world. Come back and visit again soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Four Parks, Three Days, with a 3 year old. Disney BDay Trip Part 3

For our second day, I planned for us to go to the Magic Kingdom in the morning to catch the opening ceremony. For breakfast, why a stop at the Main Street Bakery. Wanna check out the goodies there? okay, but be sure to come back. (bakery menu) We chose donuts and fruit for my GD and I had a wonderful muffin, yum...okay, getting ahead of myself here, love the bakery, but boy, it was packed!! Back to the opening....

We were not the only ones who had decided to get to the park early, but it was nice to see the decorations and they had hula hoops out to keep the kiddies occupied.

It was the first time I had seen the opening ceremony. It was fun to see the train arriving into the station with all the characters aboard. Best time for a train ride is 2 pm or from 8 pm when people are going to get spots for Spectromagic, plus you will get to see the park at night, beautiful.

First ride was the carousel, which is my GD favorite. Did you know there are 87 horses and one chariot. Cinderella's horse is the horse with the gold ribbon on its tail and a wide re bridle. Right next to it...why Prince Charming's horse of course!

Also, if you have not seen Mickey Philharmonic, it is a great show and it is a perfect attraction to get out of the heat and boy...was it hot!!!

Hot, yes indeed, it was in the 90s every day during our stay, see, my GD was even hot with her spray bottle and riding in a shaded stroller.

Alright, ready for my second freebie? Hot and tired I pulled up to a cart where a CM was chatting with another worker about a movie..not in a major rush, I stood there for maybe a minute or two, when he finally noticed me, he apologized profusely and when I ordered our diet soda, he said it was on Mickey! Wow, okay not as good as my gift from Mickey the day prior...see Trip Part 1 but still, a freebie is a freebie.

We were super hot and tired so back to the Beach resort for a rest, change of clothes, and a spray in the terrace garden, however, my GD managed to get more spray on herself than the plants!

After relaxing for a while, it was back to the parks, this time taking the ferry boat over to Hollywood Studios.

I have no idea why, but my GD liked the "soda man" as she called him. Since being there last year, a new section with Toy Story Mania was added. We had a nice time in the park.

Last year, when we saw Fantasmic, we had preferred seating by reserving the Hollywood and Vine Fantasmic package. (Info on the Dining packages) . I tried to book it this year as well, but calling 30+ days out, none of the packages were available, so I decided we would grab some food and wait in line to get a spot and eat in the stadium. What a mistake that was, we had to stand in line for a very long time with a lot of people, only to have some people really pushing when they finally started to let
us in to take a seat. Not a very Disney experience.

I would not go back to see Fantasmic without the preferred dining package with a little one in tow. But, we made it through the show and it was back to the hotel for day 3, the last day and my birthday.

Stay tuned for final installment!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Four Parks, Three Days, with a 3 year old. Disney BDay Trip Part 2

Okay kids, we are all checked into our lovely Beach Resort hotel, compliments of Mickey (see Trip Part 1).

Now mind you by this time I am kinda tuckered out already after a morning of last minute packing, phone calls, getting a 3-year-old out of an over-excited and finally falls asleep close to 11 p.m. slumber, car problems, finally finding the value resorts only to have to get back in the car (lugging luggage and the 3yo) who as soon as I get her in the car seat announces that she has to go to the bathroom, finding the Beach Resort, taking her to restroom, checking in, going out to car for luggage, and stashing it in the room; but hey, it is my B-Day weekend, it is Disney, and I am ready to board the bus and get on our way........first stop....Animal Kingdom!!

Here is my granddaughter as we depart the bus, notice her expression, she is already getting fed up with my picture taking.....ah, my has only just begun!!! LOL.

Did you know that Animal Kingdom covers more than 500 acres and has over 1000 animals!
Here is the centerpiece of the park, the Tree of Life which stands 145 feet tall and whose branches span over 160 feet. The trunk is comprised of carvings of 325 animals.

First thing we do in the park is go see the Festival of the Lion, love, loved it! Great show, love when the floats come out, the stilt walkers, and the vocalist are great as well. I had not seen this show in many years and it is one of my favorites.

Then off for pictures with Chip and Dale....

Do you know which one is chip? The one with the brown nose like a chocolate chip...Dale's nose is red..(I know, I am a Disney nerd....what's that, nope, I am just a nerd!!!, Well, I never!!).

Alright, we are pretty hungry by now and I had made the only reservation I was actually able to book, calling 30+ days in advance (my advice to anyone planning a Disney trip who wants to go to a character dining meal or a special restaurant, call 90 days in advance).

We had lunch reservations for the Tusker House (the lunch reservation comes along with Finding Nemo advanced preferred seating, which I did not like the seating arrangement, it was off to the left and close to the stage, to close to be able to enjoy the full visual effects of the show IMHO. I like to sit more center and back.

Now back to Tusker House, great food, many selections, many choices for my granddaughter and she loved everything she selected (notice the state of her plate in the photo and the "I am not going to let you take a picture of me" pose she has, all in fun though, see her mischievous smile. She even went back for dessert, selected 4 items and ate them all!!

Here is a menu from Allears for those interested; now you will leave my blog so be certain to come back and read more of my exciting post!!! (Hmm, you say it is putting you to sleep!!! Come on, I am just getting warmed up!)

Next up Safari!! There were so many animals to see. I really enjoy this particular ride as it is different every time. Here are a few photos I shot which speak for themselves. Okay, not the greatest wildlife photos, but folks, I am on a jostling jeep with a jostling 3yo and an old camera so cut me some slack here...sniff,,,deep breath in....deep breath out...calm.......Okay!!! On we go!! Oh, by the way...bottom picture has a rhino there on the right hand side...See if you can spot him amongst the other lumpy brown things in my photo!! LOL.. gotta remember to zoom next time.

We are pooped by this time, so it is back to the cool lobby in the hotel for a soda. The lobby area was just gorgeous and always seemed to have people there relaxing and enjoying the ambiance.

My Granddaughter had to go and spritz her flowers and plants regularly, she practically took over the garden outside of our terrace at the beach resort, spraying and tending to "her" plants every day. This was great for me because I could relax in one of the chairs on the terrace with a cool drink while she enjoyed herself and we could talk about our upcoming day.

We had a quick change of clothes and then to the dock to wait for the boat to ferry us over to our next stop...Epcot for Illuminations at night! Here is nice photo of the boat dock.

Epcot Fun Facts

Spaceship Earth, Epcot's Centerpiece weighs 16,000 pounds and is 165 feet in diameter. The world showcase consists of the countries of Mexico, China, America, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Canada, United Kingdom, Morocco, and Norway. You can sample foods from all of these areas, which I love, and visit shops which have products for sale from these countries.

We did not get to spend a great deal of time here, only got to walk in and grab food from Morocco, a great lamb wrap for me and chicken tenders for my granddaughter. I grabbed a glass of champagne from a cart in "France" and we were off with our food to find a spot to settle in to wait for Illuminations to begin. Here is my granddaughter either with an expression of anticipation of the fireworks show, or imitating me after my delicious flute of champagne, I am not sure which one!

The Epcot fireworks was the perfect ending of a perfect day!

Hope you enjoyed part 2! Come back again to read part 3 with more mayhem and foolishness in the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios!

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Favorite Films

Favorite Films
These are some of my favorites. Enjoy

All About Eve

Sense and Sensibility

LOTR Return of the King