Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twinkling Christmas Lights

Yesterday was a slower day for us.  Ashley headed off to work and I helped out by doing her laundry.  I even had time to work on a Christmas project (hope I get it finished in time!).  We met her for lunch, stopped at WalMart which wasn't too crazy and got back home for Sonny to finish some projects he had started on (like fixing her gutters).  Last night, we used Ashley's gift certificate and had a yummy steak dinner at my favorite San Antonio restaurant, Josephine's.  I've been going to Josephine's since Ashley was in college here and it has never disappointed.  After dinner, we went over to the old Pearl Brewery which has recently been made into an historic area with lots of bars, restaurants and shops right on the San Antonio River.  We walked along this newly opened riverwalk enjoying the Christmas lights and displays.  It is soooo much quieter than the main "touristy" riverwalk.  We walked along the riverwalk to the oldest post in Texas - the VFW.  It is in a beautiful Victorian style home that was completed in 1904.  We were warmly welcomed by a commander of the post and given a personal tour of the place.  In fact, the welcome was a little too welcoming - we couldn't get away from the man!!  We finally finished our beers and made our excuses and left!!  After that, we drove through the University of the Incarnate Word which is full of beautiful trees all lit for the holidays.  It is hard to describe how beautiful it is but maybe you can get an idea from these pictures.

A friend just sent us this and I thought it was really appropriate.

When I was a little boy, about seventy five years ago, I heard the older boys at school saying that there was no Santa Claus.  That was frightening.  There must be, because Santa had left me presents every Christmas.  So I went to my Dad to learn the truth of the matter.
Dad wasn’t a lettered man, but he was wise in his own way.  So I asked him the question, afraid of what he might say.  He thought for a while, then he told me this story.
“Son, when my Dad was a little boy, there was a Santa Claus.  When I was a little boy, there was a Santa Claus.  I guess that as long as there are Dads and little boys, there will always be a Santa Claus.”
When my son asked me if there was really a Santa Claus, I told him this story.
When his son asked him if there was really a Santa Claus, he told him this story.
I hope my grandson will tell his little boy this same story.
And at this Christmas time, three quarters of a century later, I hope Santa Clause visits you.
Merry Christmas

Monday, December 23, 2013

More Stamp Club Shares

We arrived in San Antonio Friday - timing it right as we arrived at Ashley's house just as she was getting home from work.  We didn't try to push the drive, stopping just south of Montgomery Wednesday after about 8 hours driving.  Thursday we drove to Coushatta Casino (about an hour or less from the Texas state line but in Louisiana).  We tried our hand at a couple of Blackjack table without much luck.  But the hotel was very nice and very inexpensive to my surprise.  We paid $69 (no tax since it is an Indian reservation) for a really nice big room and that also included $20 for breakfast the next morning.

We have been on the go since we got here as usual.  Friday night we headed straight to a Mexican restaurant for much missed Tex Mex, our favorite.  Saturday Ashley and I headed out to do a little shopping and Sonny went on his own to pick up some things to do a few handy man chores around Ashley's house.  Saturday night Ashley's friends, Lisa and Danny, had us over for dinner.  They have a 7 yr. old and 2 year old twins so it was a fun evening.  Plus Danny had been smoking a brisket since 8 a.m. and it was delicious!  On Sunday, after church, my nephew, his wife and little boy came over for lunch and we watched the Cowboys together.  As soon as the game was over and they left, we headed to a bar to watch our Steelers pull off another nail biter of a game against Green Bay.  From there, we met Ashley's friend Courtney and her parents for a birthday dinner since today was Ashley's birthday.  Courtney and her mom will be going on the New Zealand trip with us so it was nice to meet her mom in advance. 

I have a few more goodies to share from Stamp Club. 

Joy made me this great Steeler scarf!!

I wore my scarf today to watch the Steelers BEAT Green Bay!!

Back of Snowman Treat

Isn't this adorable?  Joy made this cute Snowman candy bar holder using the Envelope Punch Board.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Stress Buster Ideas

This is such a stressful time of year.  I thought you would enjoy these stress busting ideas.

Laughter ~ When you laugh, even forced laughter, it lowers your cortisol and blood pressure instantly, according to a study from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. "Researchers found that artery diameter increases 22 percent during laughter - even when you're faking it," says Dr. Hall. "The physical act itself creates the de-stressing effect." So keep that comedy DVD/CD handy. Call a friend who always keeps you laughing. Force yourself to chuckle if necessary!
Count all your blessings ~ According to studies done at UCLA it is physiologically impossible to be grateful and stressed out at the same time. You are definitely more alert and more enthusiastic when you are counting your blessings.
Sing and sing some more ~ I love this stress-reducer anyone that might be in earshot of my singing will not feel the same way since I cannot carry a tune. A recent study at the University of California at Irving, found that singing your favorite tunes is more beneficial than simply listening to them. Choir members got a 240 percent increase in immunoglobulin A (a disease-fighting protein) during performances.
Snack on chips and salsa ~ Eating spicy foods, especially chili peppers, releases mood-boosting endorphins, according to recent research. Keep a jar of salsa on hand for some anti-stress snacking.
Meet with some friends ~ In a 2005 study from UCLA, it was found that making eye contact while having conversation with someone you care about causes the same kinds of positive physiological changes that a massage does. According to Dr. Hall, "Your body will produce oxytocin (a happiness hormone) literally on the spot."
Write simple notes of thanks ~ to people who have made your life better. What a great de-stressor, writing a thank you to all who enhance your life. They will love and appreciate your note of thanks; you never know, maybe they need to hear it at this particular time in their lives.
Walk your stress off ~ Scientists have found that walking daily elevates the mood of even severely depressed patients. Walking is great for stressed-out people. Walking reduces muscle tension and stimulates the release of endorphins, the natural pleasure chemicals produced by our bodies.
Take a 15 minute power nap ~ Taking a short power nap(s) during the day can be more refreshing than long ones. Works for me!
Practice relaxation techniques ~ doing relaxation techniques or mindful breathing will help with your stress level and keep you from mindless munching.  I'm learning this through yoga.
Take pictures. Spend some of your time taking pictures of your gathering of loved ones and friends.
Make sure you get enough sunlight ~ Our bodies produce endorphins (hormones that create a feeling of calm) when we are in the sunshine. Your mood and energy level are boosted with just 10 minutes of sunshine so the next time you see the sun shining, get out there and enjoy it.
Write down everything you like about yourself ~ Believe it or not you are more likely to let stress take over your life when your self-esteem is low.
Organize something ~ You will be amazed at how much better you feel by organizing just one thing in your house: maybe a junk drawer or your craft room!!
Spend some time with your pet ~ It's a known fact, pets relieve stress. Isn't unconditional love great?  Sammi always makes me feel better when she's vying for my attention.
Cut out the caffeine ~ Caffeine can increase alertness but in the long run caffeine leaves you feeling jittery and irritable which adds stress.
Cut down on your sugar ~ Too much sugar takes away vital nutrients from your body, causing nervous tension and anxiety. High sugar foods cause your blood sugar levels to drop, which can make you feel irritable, tired and unhappy. When you are under stress this is the last thing you need.

November 2006 issue of Ladies' Home Journal
** Walk it Off! by Suzanne Levine, D.P.M.
** The Everything Stress Management Book by Eve Adamson
** Women's Edge ~ Fight Fat, Secrets to Successful Weight Loss by Alisa Bauman
                and the editors of Prevention Health Books

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Stamp Club Goodies

It was just like Christmas at my house on Tuesday .... oh wait, they were Christmas gifts!!

My good friend, Judy has been doing some sewing - something different from stamping for a little bit of a change.  She made me this great Kleenex holder.  I just love the colors!  It will be going with me to New Zealand!

This is another one she made (for Marianne)

Close up on the flower that is on my mug rug

Judy also made me this mug rug - isn't it great?
Judy is not only a talented sewer but look at this card she made me.  She should be teaching Stamp Club!!

close up of the ornament ... really pretty!
We are on the road to Texas.  We made it to Greenville, Alabama last night.  Left home about 10 a.m. and got to Greenville about 7 p.m. (actually, it was 6 p.m. Central Time).  Sonny went out and got us a pizza and we watched the hockey game.  I won't be surprised if Sonny tries to make it all the way to San Antonio today.  When you get so close, it's just as easy to stretch it and rest when you get there.  We'll see.  I actually got to do a little Christmas shopping yesterday on the way.  Sonny stopped for gas one time and I saw a Goody's store in the shopping center.  So he dropped me off there while he pumped the gas.  I was looking for a pair of shoes but they were not on sale so I didn't buy them - too close for Christmas.  Then later when we stopped for lunch, there was a Kohl's close by.  Sonny needed to use the rest room and I told him Kohl's had real clean rest rooms, so we went there and I bought a few Christmas presents this time.  I was like a whirlwind going through that store!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stamp Club Goodies

Just a quick post - Sonny is loading up the car so we can get on the road to Texas.  I am sure he will be hollering for me shortly!

I had Stamp Club yesterday and we had a great time (even if I was a bit disorganized and frazzeled!)  I wanted to share with you a few of the items the gals made for all of us.

Colorful Nail File from Debbie

Sour Cream Container (Debbie)

Just for me - much needed paper towels for bathroom (Debbie - she was busy!)

Large Sour Cream Container - cute, cute paper! from Diane

The cutest Santa Claus - Sammy wanted to be in the picture!

My Santa (from Deb) with his paints and brushes in his pocket!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Something We All Need - A Gift Card Holder!

I have been on the go so much this week I don't know if I am coming or going!  I went to a Christmas party every day last week except for Wednesday.  Monday was bridge where I too a squash casserole, gift for our exchange as well as a little hand made goodie for all 17 people that were there; Tuesday was Bunco in our neighborhood - again I took a dish for dinner and a gift for the exchange.  Thursday was Southern Living - this time I made Ambrosia Macaroon Cookies and a gift for the exchange.  Friday it was Mahjong - again, a gift and I took sausage and biscuits for our brunch.  Saturday was a cold dreary day here and I was glad to spend it indoors working on my Christmas projects for the following week and my Christmas cards.  Today in between football games, we had our family Christmas.  Luckily, we gathered at Marianne's house.  I took my gifts for all the family and my requested potato casserole (a favorite of Marianne's boys); squash and zucchini and an apple pie.  Monday I go to my other bridge group and take my gift and a corn casserole.  Afterwards, I have an appointment for a massage ..... much needed!!  Tuesday I am getting my hair cut in the morning and then coming home to get ready for my Stamp Club Christmas gathering.  We are going to make gift cards on Tuesday plus I have some goodies for the gals.  So, please forgive me for not blogging much last week .... and possibly next week.  We will be leaving for Texas on Wednesday hoping to make it to San Antonio by Friday.  I am hoping I am going to find some time to pack!!  Plus, I need to pack for New Zealand since I will be leaving from San Antonio for New Zealand on the 28th.  I don't think I will have any trouble sleeping on that flight after the hectic weeks I've had.

My brother and sisters

My nephew, Derek and Mom (resting her eyes)

Niece and nephew (my brother's kids)

Marianne and Lee - my baby sister and baby brother!

My nephew, Harrison and Mom
I have been working on a few gift card holders.  These are something I think everyone could use this time of year.  This one is a super simple one.

I made the smallest envelope using the Envelope Punch Board in red card stock.  Then make a belly band with black card stock.  I used the Curly Label Punch for the silver glimmer paper and cut a rectangle out of black card stock for the center of the glimmer "buckle". 

Here's another easy gift card using the Bigz Bow Die to decorate it:

Gift Card Holder "present" open

gift card open - you can just barely see the brad on the left side I used to attach the top to the bottom.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ode to my Wife funny poem

Finally a day I didn't have to go anywhere!  I actually got a lot done today - most of my presents wrapped, most of my Christmas cards mounted onto card stock, cookies made for my luncheon on Thursday, December blog header made and uploaded (like it?) and I even cooked dinner tonight!  Wow!   I'm really lucky that Sonny doesn't want a full cooked dinner every night.  How times have changed.  I'm pretty sure we usually had a full dinner every night when I was growing up.  Now we may have a full dinner a couple of times a month!  We usually have something light - sandwiches, soup, home made pizza, eggs, tacos, salad and we are both ok with that. 

I received a beautiful Christmas card today from a local friend and fellow SU demonstrator.  Not only did she send this beautiful card but on the inside was a funny poem that I want to share.

"Ode to My Wife"
"She learned to stamp on Monday
Her embossing was quite fine.
She forgot to set out dinner,
So we went out to dine.
She brayered backgrounds Tuesday
She says they are a must.
They really were quite lovely
But she forgot to dust.
On Wednesday, it was birthday cards
She says that chalking's fun.
Shading, blending and watercoloring -
But the laundry wasn't done.
Her card swap was on Thursday
Using green and blue and red;
I guess she really was engrossed.
She never made the bed.
It was shaker cards on Friday
Using techniques she just adores,
But she never seemed to notice
The crumbs on all the floors.
I found a maid on Saturday!
My week is now complete
My wife can stamp the hours away;
The house will still be neat.
Well, it's already Sunday,
And my forehead's feeling damp.
I cursed, I raved, and I ranted -
The MAID has learned to stamp!!"

Vicki used a favorite retired set and some non-SU DSP on the bottom.  But isn't this a great card??  Love it!

Paper Craft Card #71paper

It's time for the Paper Craft Crew challenge this week.  MDS to the rescue again!  I have been super busy trying to get my Christmas shopping done in time for our family party on Sunday.  I think I finished today!  I'm even going to use My Digital Studio for my Christmas cards this year.  I printed out a design today and took it to Staples to have it copied (4 to a page).  Tomorrow I hope to do some sponging and mount the image onto cardstock to finish them.
Without further ado, here is Challenge #71:

Are you making the rounds of all the Christmas parties and eating too much???  Well, I am.  As I'm writing this, I'm still stuffed from my neighborhood bunco Christmas party tonight.  I had actually forgotten about it as I don't usually play bunco during the year.  It seems I go a couple of times a year.  Anyway, about 6 pm, I'm checking my email and there's the reminder of the Christmas bunco party.  We were supposed to bring a gift ($20 range) and pot luck dinner.  I always have a few spare gifts in my "stash" so that was not a problem but my cupboards are rather bare.  But I was able to find an unopened pack of cream cheese and I had a jar of jalepeno jelly and some crackers, so, voila! I was in business!  My luck at the bunco table was not great tonight - I only won 2 games out of 6!  We only played one round after we ate and then did the Chinese gift exchange where you can steal a gift or open a new one.  My luck is never good although yesterday at bridge, I ended up with a very nice set of little Christmas dessert dishes that I really like.  I thought I was home free tonight. I was #11 (out of 22) and I stole a really cute stuffed snowman and held on to it until the very end.  Then the gal that was #1 got to have one last steal before the night was over and she took my snowman and I got her present which was the same gift I had brought tonight!  So guess that gift will be traveling to another Christmas party in the future!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Clearance Rack Blitz!!

Who doesn't like a great deal?  Especially on some old favorites!
Buy yourself a Christmas present!!

Stampin' Up! is going to be filling the clearance rack with never before posted retired items.  Up to 80% off!  They are clearing out the warehouses and YOU are going to benefit.
If it's your first time online shopping you will need to create your profile,
you may want to take care of that now, so you are ready to shop later.

If you do not shop online, you may call me or e-mail me
and I will place your order for you. See info in the blog header to contact me.

 Remember this sale is "WHILE SUPPLIES LAST".
Click on CLEARANCE in the tab above.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Time for another CLEARANCE BLITZ!

Clearance Rack Blitz:
A new Clearance Rack Blitz begins December 10.  Retired products-up to 80% off-will only be available while supplies last.  If you place an online order, please use the Hostess Code when prompted - RADZVCQJ
Also, Sara Douglass filled in for her mom, Shelly, on the Today show last week.  You can see the video HERE.

I realized I did not share the Thanksgiving pictures that I took.  Unfortunately, none of us took too many pictures .... too busy visiting and eating!!

Ashley, Grandmom Betty and Girlfriend (Sharon)

Sharon gave me this Friendship Basket with a few adult beverages in it for Sonny and I.  Isn't it beautiful?

Marianne and Sharon made the candle decorations and place cards. 

Plenty of food for everyone!!


The table is set.

I made these a year or two ago and just "spruced" them up a bit this year.

Place settings on the table made by Marianne and Sharon

Friday, December 6, 2013

Yummy Cookies!

Ashley and I usually make sugar cookies at Christmas.  We have tried many different recipes with good and bad results.  I have a new recipe to try this year that I got from a DIY website.  Maybe you'd like to try it too.  If so, here it is - put it in a safe place so you can find it!!


Dry Ingredients:
6 cups of Flour
2 teaspoons of Baking Soda
1 teaspoon of Salt

(mix together is small bowl)

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup Shortening
2 cups Sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup Sour Cream

(Blend wet ingredients until smooth in large bowl)

Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

Cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Roll out cookie dough. Use your favorite/festive cookie cutters.

Bake at 400 for 7-8 minutes.  Let cool.

 In the meantime, make the frosting.

Blend all together:
1/2 cup Shortening
1/2 cup Butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups powder sugar
2 Tablespoons milk

Dye the frosting whatever color your heart desires.. and taste the beaters if you like :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Where Does the Time Go? Paper Craft Crew Challenge #70!

Wednesday already and I haven't posted yet and Wednesday is going fast!  Where is the time going??  My December is going by and according to my date book, will be going by in a flash!  I think I only have about 4 days free until we go to San Antonio Dec. 18.  I had to make an unexpected dentist visit and was lucky to be able to schedule it in the late afternoon after my bridge party next week.

Today was our Newcomer's Christmas party and, WOW, was there a lot of food.  But not as much as in the past.  Usually everyone brings a dish and it is overwhelming with about 100+ people all bringing food!!  This year the alphabet was split in half.  The first half brought a dish to share and the second half brought a bag of canned goods for the Soup Kitchen.  I was in the second half but I took pity on one of my friends who doesn't cook and volunteered to make a dish for her.  Another gal was supposed to do it but she wasn't able to come today.   We loaded three cars up with food to take to the Soup Kitchen pantry!!  Along with the food we took, we also made baskets for the seniors in the community who are not as well off as some and we brought toys and/or clothing for the children who are in need.  These items were loaded on a Christian Missions truck for distribution at Christmas.

Toys for the children

Children toys

Some of the clothing for the children

Senior baskets

More Senior Baskets - think we counted 68!!
Starting to load the items onto the truck - a really foggy day!

Plenty of food for everyone and more being brought in!

OK - on to my Paper Craft Crew creation for this week.  I turned to MDS and Season of Style Pocket Card kit to create this festive card:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

More of Ashley's Creations

Thought I'd share the rest of the cards Ashley made while she was here.  Not too bad considering we were only in my craft room a day and a half!!  Wish I could say I got this much accomplished!

Framelit Card she made for a friend who is getting out of the Army in a few days trying to decide what is next in her life.

Framelit card closed

Simple card using Apothecary Accents sizzlits

She had a hard time with this one but finally got the rectangle cut out in the center with my exacto knife.

Very similar to the previous card - just didn't use the knife!!  Uses Delicate Doilies stamps.