Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I finished the necklace I had started a few days ago.

I think it turned out well, and Tom even encouraged me to wear it to work tonight, it was a nice accessory to the hat.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Next Day

My home time today was spent mostly alone. Mom, Dad, Wanda, and the kids went to the PX, so Tom and I stayed home. I watched another one of my new DVDs, "Bolt."

It was such a cute little story, and I cried. But what's new about that? While watching the movie, I worked on putting together a piece of jewelry. I think it will turn out well.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Today was a shopping day. Donnie, Wanda and I left early, and we made a quick trip to Macy's. Donnie got some sisterly advice on clothing choices, which I hope work out for him. Next, we headed to Wal-Mart to do some grocery shopping. I had been putting off this trip for about a month, so Wanda's and Donnie's assistance was welcome. We made it home in time to watch the Ravens/Steelers game, and Donnie left for home after that. Later, I drove Wanda, Dodo, and Mom to Target, where I spent my Christmas gift card on some black pants for work, a few new Disney DVDs, and some Christmas cards for next year, among other things. After dinner, we watched one of the new DVDs, "Up."

I had heard good thing about it, and it was a very sweet story. And Wanda was so right, I bawled my brains out in the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Movie Day with Donnie

For our annual movie outing, Donnie and I saw "Up in the Air." I was not expecting to cry, but, of course, I did. It was about a man who was content with his life and where he was heading, but with a few things that happened, it looked like he was ready to change things up. The ending left me hanging as to whether or not he would still be content with his old life - but I did feel a tiny bit of hope for him.
After returning home, I found a late Birthday ATC had arrived. This one is from Anna in the UK.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Merry Christmas! Ours was quite nice. It started out with pancakes from Stonewall Kitchen - we tried the Farmhouse and Apple Cinnamon varieties. Then came presents. I think everyone was happy with what they received.

After opening gifts, Dodo made pumpkin pies, with my instruction. He did a very good job, and they tasted great. Dad did the turkey, stuffing and gravy, while Mom worked on potatoes. After dinner, and while cleaning up the mess, I watched the newest release of "Miracle on 34th Street." It was actually okay, but I think I like the original better. Then Donnie had us watch a DVD that he'd brought along, "The Hangover." It was hilarious!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Arrival

Guests started to arrive today for the holidays. Tammy, Chad, and Ava were the first to arrive for a short visit. Before I had to leave for work, I was able to snap a shot of the proud new grandpa with his new granddaughter.

Ava is just a cutie!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reindeer Poop

Tonight while I was at the restaurant, I had an epiphany. Amie was giving little bags of "Reindeer Food" to some of the waitresses that had children. I misheard her, and thought that she was giving out "Reindeer Poop." My mind's gears started to grind and I came up with what I think might be a fun idea for my nephews for Christmas. While opening gifts around the tree, someone can notice a bag of "Reindeer Poop" nearby. I can ask my nephews to help me find - and clean up - the rest of the "Reindeer Poop." I can, of course, reason that there will be eight bags laying around (Dasher, Dancer, etc.), and I can leave them in places like in front of the refrigerator (where they raided the refrigerator), near the fireplace (where they entered the house), or in the bathroom (where they didn't make it in time). Maybe I can even come up with a cute rhyme for each bag, that will lead them to the next bag of poop. I was thinking of getting gifts for everyone from the "Christmas Crab," but I'm not coming up with enough ideas for Maryland-specific gifts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's in the Box?

So, tonight at work, Mel had one of the televisions tuned to "A Very Gilly Christmas," which turned out to be a collection of Saturday Night Live clips. I was only able to watch a little bit of the show, but this clip was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time - I just had to share it. Please do not watch it if you are easily offended.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Christmas Wish

A 7 year old boy named Nate Elfrink, who has a brain tumor, has a Christmas wish to receive one million Christmas cards. Today, I did my part to help that wish come true. Read about him here, and maybe you'll decide to help out as well.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Turning Tables

I finished actually reading another book early this morning. Usually I do the audiobook thing, but I picked this up while grocery shopping a few months ago. It was really cute. Being a waitress, I could feel for the characters. The romantic twist was unexpected, but also enjoyable. But, I think, most of all, it inspired me to do a better job with my waitressing, or at least see where I'm lacking.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ravens vs. Lions

Today, I have had one of my worst game day experiences. It wasn't the game in particular, where the Ravens beat Detroit 3-48 - I actually feel kind of sorry for Detroit - it was the weather. During rehearsal, it was raining. Not a problem, we've practiced in worse weather, but I found out that there were serious cracks in the soles of my shoes, and my feet were wet. I had to sit through the entire game with soaking wet socks and shoes. It was chilly enough that I wished I was wearing my gloves, but they were soaking wet, too, and I thought maybe they'd dry up a little if I stuck them in my pocket. Boy, was I wrong. I could still wring the water out of them at the end of the game. The rain doesn't exactly treat woodwind instruments well, either. I thought that the flute I was using had plastic pads, but on closer inspection, it's got plastic where there would normally be cork. And we didn't do a halftime show because of Punt, Pass and Kick.
As for the game, it was embarrassing. Half way through the second quarter, the band members were asking if we could take the score at halftime and use it as the final score. We were so frustrated with the referees, who were making weird calls, resetting the clock several times, so at the beginning of the third quarter, someone asked if we could reset the clock to the two minute warning in the fourth quarter. The band ended up cheering for pizza toppings (on Mondays, Papa John's offers a free topping for every touchdown scored, double if the Ravens win). One of the drum majors brought up the fact that we could get ten toppings, and asked if we should go for twelve, so the band started to chant, "We want twelve." It was just a really crazy experience.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Valentine Tag Book Swap

Wanda strikes again! Not that I'm complaining, I'm actually kind of glad. She called me at work tonight to let me know about a swap that was coming up - a Valentine Tag Book Swap. I've been wanting to try my hand at tags, and Valentine's Day is far enough away, and I think I can find enough inspiration to put out a decent product. I actually missed out on the last tag swap that I would have liked to participate in, since I was overcommitted with Silver Bella swaps at the time, so I think this will be a good substitute.

Monday, November 30, 2009

YouTube Video

Someone found this video of yesterday's performance on YouTube, which is the halftime feed from one of NBC's endzone cameras. Unfortunately, the flutes were in the front of the band, and on the other side of the field, but you can still hear us.

Now you know what I do with the little free time I have!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ravens vs. Steelers

What a day! I am pre-dating this post, since I got home really late.
My band day started with a 1:00 report time. For our halftime show, we performed with a rock band, and we needed to get sound checks done, but the Ravens would only let us have the stadium until 3:00 - and the game didn't start until 8:30! Practice went well, as did the 2+ hour lunch period and 1/2 hour concert. Then the game. I'm always torn when the Steelers and Ravens play - I grew up a Steelers fan, but I play for the Ravens. Luckily, the game was close and went fast. The Steelers ultimately lost 17-20 in overtime. What killed me was the overtime, it was 11:00 at the end of regulation play, and we had to stick around for who knew how long. After we finished turning in our uniforms and were bussed back to our vehicles, it was 1:30 the next morning, so I didn't get home until 2:30.
The halftime show went well. We played two Chicago tunes ("Make Me Smile" and "25 or 6 to 4") with the rock band, and I didn't hear any timing errors like the last time. Thank goodness!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Purple, and Black, Friday

Today's activities were dictated by Purple Friday. The Pep Band had a 7 am report time, and we played at a couple of locations around Baltimore. The first stop was Hightopps Backstage Bar and Grill, the next two were Verizon Wireless stores, and the final stop was the ESPNZone. We had a decent reception at Hightopps, but the ESPNZone was the best. Even though we had to play outside in the cold, there was a crowd gathered around, listening to us play. Feeling appreciated for what we do is the best! Afterwards, I had to head to Huber for work.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This year's Thanksgiving was a busy one for me. It started out with putting the turkey in the oven, then running to Huber for work. I know, how crazy was that, to volunteer to work this weekend, but I thought I would get overtime for it, and just found out that it's only regular time, plus holiday time. I think I'll just save the holiday time for next month. So anyway, when I get back, I have to get a shower, and then the first of our two guests arrives. We had invited Nathan and Donnie over for dinner, and they were each staying the night, too. Nathan arrived first, and I started preparing food for dinner. While peeling potatoes, Donnie arrived, and he helped cut up vegetables for stuffing while I worked on making pumpkin pies. Working together was nice, and helped move things along. Dinner was served in a timely manner, and afterwards, we watched football and chatted. Everything went well, except I turned into a shrew once. Oh well, Tom drives me absolutely crazy sometimes!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Now I'm Sick

I think I've got the flu. At work tonight, I got the sniffles, a cough, chills, and sore muscles. I volunteered to go home early, and when I got home, I took a hot bath, then medicated myself and hit the bed. After sleeping for a few hours, I felt much better, but not completely. Being sick almost distracted me from receiving another Birthday ATC. This one was from Di in the UK. She also sent some fun pieces of fabric.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Silver Bella - The Return

Silver Bella had ended, and it was time to go home :-( Wanda and I got checked out and to the airport. All of my flights worked out well today, and my flight to Baltimore was even a half hour early! I really enjoyed my layover in Minneapolis, they have an awesome mall area. After Tom picked me up, we had a late dinner at Denny's.
When I got home, I found a Birthday ATC from Lynne in either Sweden (her address) or Germany (the postmark).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Silver Bella - Day 2

My first class of the day was Victorious Medals, in which we made a garland of embelished award ribbons and medals.

In my second class, we constructed a Hodge Podge Journal. We were led, step-by-step, through the process of creating the front and back covers for the journal, and we filled them with a hodge podge of paper products.

The last class of the day was where I made a Vintage Charm Bracelet. I was particularly proud of this one, since I completed the second, and final, step of the bracelet, where most people only finished the first step.

After classes, Wanda and I had dinner at Upstream, a microbrewery about a block and a half from the hotel. We had the Gouda and Blonde Ale Soup, the Artichoke and Asiago Cheese Dip, and the Fish and Chips (which were battered in their Blonde Ale). It was a very good meal. We spent the rest of the night packing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Silver Bella - Day 1

Today's Silver Bella events went better than yesterday's. After checking with the front desk and finding out that my luggage had not arrived yet, I went to my first class - the Snowman Clip Ornament. It was absolutely adorable, and I got good momentum going and finished it.

I checked on my luggage again, and come to find out, it had been here since last night, they just didn't notice the name tag. So I toted my luggage to the room and went to my next class - the Sweet Sweater Hat. I had a great time with it, and it was a lot easier than I had imagined it would be.

Wanda and I both had the next class period free so that we could set up for the Vendor Fair. She did almost as well in sales as last year, but she had more expenses, so she was a little dissappointed. We had a good time, though.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Silver Bella - The Beginning

Whew, what a day! It all started out with not going to bed last night. I stayed up so that I could construct my pages for the Under the Big Top Fat Book Swap. I ended up with only 14 of the 15 pages, because I accidentally sewed the tent onto the wrong side of one of the pages. Luckily, Wanda was hosting the swap, so I was able to able to convince her to leave my book unfinished.
I slept for about an hour and a half, then got up to pack and get to the airport. When I checked in at the airport, I was told that the flight that I had booked back in July that left at 11:25 no longer existed, and my new flight had left at 8:30. I freaked out. I hadn't received any notification of the flight change. Luckily, they were able to book me on new flights that would get me to Omaha about 10 minutes later than my initial flight. Okay, I'm calm now. But while going through security, they found my spare wine opener in my purse, and confiscated it, since it had a knife on it. It would cost $10 to send it home, so I let them have it. After boarding the plane, the pilot turned on the engines and the computer didn't come on, so we had to get pushed back to the gate and wait for a mechanic to come and fix the problem. Then we had to wait for a weight of some sort. In the end, we were delayed an hour leaving Baltimore. When we got to Detroit, it was 3:00, and time to board my next flight. I actually thought it left at 3, so I was freaking out again. As luck would have it (bad or good, I won't say), my flight to Omaha was delayed an hour. Okay, that's fine and dandy. I called Wanda and asked her to pick up my registration packet, and let her know I'd be late. When I got to Omaha, my luggage had not. Everything that could possibly go wrong had. I called the hotel shuttle and arrived at 6:30, right when dinner was starting to be served. I spent most of dinner punching holes in my fat book pages, and inserting them into the fat books. The group project went well, and I completed one of the two available items.

Then, it was time to swap. Luckily, the swap items I needed to swap at Silver Bella were in my carry-on, so everything went well. I do feel pretty insignificant, though. Some of my items turned out well, but I was so out of my league with other items.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nine Down, One To Go

First and foremost, I need to wish both of my nephews "Happy Birthday!" Dodo's birthday is today, and Bebe's was Sunday. And can you believe it, I actually sent gifts that arrived in time for their birthdays?!?
Tonight, I actually had the night off. I was on call at the restaurant, and they didn't foresee needing me, so I spent most of the night finishing the yo-yo bells I was making for the Ornabella Ornament Swap. I am actually pretty pleased with how they turned out. I had initially thought, after constructing my first two, that they looked kind of stupid. But after massaging my methods, I came up with a product that I actually like, and am proud to put out there. I hope all of the ladies enjoy them as much as I do.

I spent the rest of the night working on the Fat Book swap. That's going to be a nightmare, with the time crunch.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ravens vs. Broncos

Wow, what a game! The Ravens beat the Broncos, 7-30, and it was a really great win. I even stayed awake for the entire game - Shocker! After losing the last three games, I didn't think that the Ravens could pull it off, especially after seeing that the Broncos were undefeated. But, the defense lived up to their reputation, then the offense started producing, and, of course, the band was fantastic. For halftime, we perfomed a Veterans Day tribute, and played America and Armed Forces Salute. Now, I hope that the Ravens can keep up the good work.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

This Birthday ATC came from Julie in California. The material for the base was like jeans, and it had a bunch of fun fabric bits and cool thread running thoughout. It looked like confetti!

And this evening, at Tidewater, some of us dressed up for work. I had planned on being a Red Hat Lady, but when I finally tried on the purple skirt I had picked up, it was too short, so I had to scramble for a new outfit. I ended up with a beach bum type of outfit. Capri pants, Hawaiian shirt, straw hat, sunglasses, sandals with white socks. I even carried around a Corona bucket with my waitressing necessities in it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another ATC

Carol from the UK sent me this Birthday ATC. Whatever she did to the top layer was pretty cool, but what was really neat was the layer underneath. It had a reflective quality to it, which made it pretty neat when the light hit it.

On another note, here is one of the decorative dessert dishes that Ashley did tonight at work.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An ATC from Far Away

This Birthday ATC came from Jovita in Lithuania. What made this ATC so special was that Jovita made a card with the same lacy bit on the cover that is on the ATC! I would never have thought to coordinate the two like that. And even Tom went ga-ga over the stamp on the envelope. He wanted to keep it, but I'll give it to Dad, since he's the stamp collector in the family.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Birthday ATC

Today's Birthday ATC came from Sharon in Rhode Island. I think the different types of media that she used were wonderful.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

AirTran Promotion

The few members of the Pep Band played for an AirTran promotion today. AirTran released a new member of their fleet, a Boeing 717 painted with the Ravens logo.

It was all in conjunction with Franklin Square Hospital, and there was a charity pull after the plane was presented - a bunch of people from the hospital grabbed a rope attached to the nose of the aircraft and pulled it for a distance. As a result, AirTran donated $10,000 to the hospital - for their pediatric wing, I believe. In addition to the Pep Band, there were cheerleaders, Poe, Dick Cass (the president of the Ravens), and Todd Heap - who is the spokesperson for AirTran and who is very active with the hospital's pediatric wing.
After the gig, we were allowed to wait in line to get autographs and/or pictures with Todd Heap. I got him to sign my baseball cap, but Margie got him to sign her piccolo, too. We told a few band members further down the line what we did, and a couple of them ran out to their cars - one grabbed her hat, the other grabbed his drum so that he could get the drum head signed. What fun!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Recipe Pages and an ATC

I stayed up extremely late tonight rushing to finish the recipe pages for The Sweetest Thing Recipe Swap. How crazy has that been? I started work on them about two weeks ago, and found out this past Thursday that I was the only one who hadn't sent them in, yet! I had mistakenly thought I had until November 1 to get them in the mail, but they were supposed to be due on October 15! Luckily, I had a concept, and things went pretty smoothly. And, thanks to Shea, the swap hostess, for putting up with me like that. I definitely owe her.
So anyway, here's what I came up with, fronts and backs. The pictures, of course, are a representative sampling.

I also got a Birthday ATC from Leah in Texas. She included some fun fabric scraps.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And the Recipes Keep Coming

Another fun bunch of recipes for the Chocolate Lover's Recipe Swap awaited me in my inbox today.

Cream Cheese Brownies

1 pkg German chocolate cake mix
1-8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour jellyroll pan. Prepare cake mix as directed on package. Pour batter into pan. Mix remaining ingredients. Drop by tablespoons onto batter. Cut through batter with knife for marbled effect. Bake intil cake tests done in center, 25-35 minutes.

This recipe is a winning one because it's Quick and sweet.
I've tried it many times and it was very successful.
Hope u will enjoy it as much as I do!

The ingredients:
1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
150g butter or margarine
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
200g dark chocolate
2 tablespoon Brandy or chocolate liquor
300g white chocolate chips

1. Heat the oven to 180°C
2. Melt butter and chocolate together
3. Add the sugar and Stir until combined
4. Add the flour, cocoa powder , brandy and eggs and mix well
5. Add the chocolate chips and stir just a little bit so it won't melt
6. Pour into a 37*27 cm baking dish and bake for 30 minutes
7. Slice to a 3*3 cm squares while it's still hot

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yet Another Chocolate Recipe

Today's inbox held another recipe in the Chocolate Lover's Recipe Swap.

Bitter Chocolate tart with Irish Cream

Preparation Time 75 minutes
Cooking Time 25 minutes

Ingredients (serves 8)
75g butter
75g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 tbs iced water, or more
300ml thickened or whipping cream
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
50g butter, chopped
2 tbs Carolans Irish CreamMethod

To make pastry, whiz butter, sugar, almonds, flour and salt in a food processor until smooth. With motor running, add water a spoonful at a time, until pastry clumps into a ball. Press into the base of a 20cm tart tin, working from the centre out, to cover base and up sides. Trim edges. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat oven to 180°C. Line tart with foil and weigh down with baking beans or pastry weights. Bake for 15 minutes, carefully remove beans and foil, then bake for a further 5-10 minutes until lightly golden. Cool.

To make filling, heat cream until just before boiling point, when it "trembles". Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Add cream, leave for 1 min, then mix well with a spatula. Add butter and stir until smooth. Stir in Carolans Irish Cream and pour into tart case. Leave in a level place to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Notes & tips
Cooking: 25 mins + 3 hrs chilling
Fresh Living - 8 August 2005, Page 57

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Recipes and an ATC

More recipes arrived in my inbox today for the Chocolate Lovers Recipe Swap.

No Bake Cookies
vInto a saucepan put
2 c. sugar
¼ c. butter
½ c. milk
3 squares or 3 Tbsp chocolate or cocoa
vBoil 2 minutes
vRemove from stove
3 c. of cooking oatmeal
½ c. of coconuts (optional)
½ c. of nuts (optional)
A little vanilla ( just a small amount)
v Drop by spoonful onto waxpaper.
v Let cool.
Favorite Microwave Fudge
1 pkg. confectioners sugar
½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ c. evaporated milk
½ c. (1 stick) butter or margarine
2 tsp. vanilla
¾ c. pecans
v Line a 8x8x2 inch baking pan w/aluminum foil.
v Sift together sugar & cocoa and put into a 2 qt. baking dish.
v Add the evaporated milk & butter.
v Place in Microwave.
v Cook for 2 ½ minutes or until butter is just melted.
v Add vanilla.
v Stir until all ingredients are well blended.
v Turn into foil lined pan.
v Place in freezer for 10 minutes.
Cut into 64 squares.

Tart au Cholcolat
200 g Butter
200 g Plain or Dark Chocolate
100 g Milk Chocolate (chopped)
130 g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
2 Tbsp Starch
2 Tbsp Flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with butter on a low temperature. Mix flour, cocoa powder and starch in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix eggs and caster sugar until the mixture becomes smooth and turns white. This takes about 5 minutes. Add the chocolate-butter mixture and stir shortly. Add the chopped up milk chocolate. Carefully add the flour-cocoa powder mixture and stir until you have a smooth dough without clumbs in it. Pour the batter into a buttered 22 cm springform tin. Bake in the middle of a preheated 175C oven for 20-25 minutes, until the cake is slightly crisp on the top, but still moist insideTake out of the oven and cool. Serve with whipped cream and season's berries.

The Mint Chocolate Cupcakes take a fair amount of work, but they are worth it! The mixture of chocolate ans peppermint is really sophisticated. My suggestion is to make the mousse the day before. I had some trouble with it being too warm and just sliding off the cupcakes. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

After Dinner Mint Cupcake Recipe(Makes 12 Cup Cakes)
2½ oz (60g) dark chocolate
2/3 cup water
3½ oz (90g) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp peppermint essence (I used peppermint schnapps, because I couldn't get essence)
1 cup self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 cup almond meal
11oz (300g) dark chocolate
1 tsp peppermint essence
1½ cup thickened cream
4 eggs, separated
4 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar
Decoration 16 thin square after dinner mints
cocoa powder for dusting

Mousse - Put the chocolate, essence and half the cream in a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melted and it is a smooth mixture. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. While it is cooling beat the egg whites to soft peaks in a medium bowl. Then gradually add the sugar, a bit at a time, to the egg whites and beat till dissolved. In another small bowl beat the cream until thick. By now the chocolate mixture should have cooled. Lightly beat the egg yolks with a fork and stir into the chocolate mix. Next fold the cream into the chocolate mix. Now gently fold in the egg whites. Cover and refrigerate for several hours (overnight is good).
Cupcakes - Preheat the oven to 330°F (170°C). Line a 12 cupcake pan, with cupcake papers. Take the 16 after dinner mints and cut shapes for the tops of the cakes (we used some small cutters and cut a variety of shapes). Set the shapes aside. Coarsely cut up the off cuts - we need these, so don't go eating them. Put the chocolate and water in a small saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the chocolate melts and it all combines. Using an electric beater, beat the butter, sugar, eggs and essence until smooth, light and fluffy. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and almond meal into this mixture. Add the chocolate mixture and the off-cuts of the mints. Stir until combined. Divide the mixture evenly between the cake cases. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove tin from the oven, transfer cakes to a rack and cool.
Decoration - Making foil collar. Fold up some collars for the cakes using foil. Lightly grease each collar - we used a very light spray of oil. Put collar around cake, as show in picture. Spoon mousse onto each of the cakes. Refigerate for 4 or more hours. When ready to serve. Gently remove the collars and if you wish the papers.
Making Choc Mint Cupcakes - Dust with cocoa powder. Put the chocolate cut-outs on top.erve with extra thick cream and/or ice-cream.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

For cake:
1/2 cup butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
and cooled
2 cups Swans Down Cake Flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For frosting:
3 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup buttermilk or sweet milk
dash of salt
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

Chocolate Fudge Cake: Cream butter and add sugar gradually, creaming well after each addition. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in chocolate. Sift flour with soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk and vanilla, beating after each addition until smooth. Pour into two paper-lined 9-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks.
Chocolate Dream Icing for Chocolate Fudge Cake: Soften cream cheese with part of milk and add salt. Add sugar, alternately with rest of milk, blending well after each addition. Beat until thick enough to spread on cake.

Chocolate Pudding Pie

1 cup Swans Down® Cake Flour
²/³ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350℉. In a large bowl sift together flour, ¹/³ cup cocoa, salt, and baking powder. In a medium bowl whisk together sugar, milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla and stir into flour mixture until combined well. Spread batter into an 9-inch metal pie plate. In another medium bowl whisk together remaining ¹/³ cup cocoa, brown sugar, and 1½ cups boiling water. Pour evenly over batter. (This may look strange at this point, but don’t worry. During baking cake forms on top and pudding underneath.) Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with crumbs adhering to it, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Today's snail mail bought me a Birthday ATC from Kate in the UK. She is the swap hostess, and this ATC was too fun.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Chocolate Recipe and an ATC

I joined a swap called the Chocolate Lovers Recipe Swap. It's an easy 8 person, e-mail swap. Today, I received my first recipe...

Easy Easy Best-fudge-ever!!!

This is a no bake recipe, but don't let that fool you... you won't taste better fudge anywhere.

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup BUTTER (the salted kind... that's 2 sticks)
3 1/2 cups 10x powdered confectioner's sugar
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Melt butter and peanut butter together. Stir to blend. Microwave or stove... if it's on the stove now remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Spread in a buttered 8x8 square inch cake pan. Freeze 30 minutes or just firm before cutting into squares. Store at roojm temp. Makes 2 pounds. Try not to eat it all yourself!!

Chunky chocolate cake mix cookies (a favorite with my kids)

1 pkg dark chocolate fudge cake mix
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butter or margarine melted
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
(I actually replace these with peanut butter chips...awesome!! Or mix the two)
1/2 cup chopped pecans if desired (I don't use these with peanut butter chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all ingredients except chips and nuts, until thoroughly blended. Stir in chips and/or nuts. Drop by level measuring tablespoons onto greased baking sheets. Bake 350 for 12 minutes for chewy or 14 minutes for crispy (go for chewy!!!)
Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets, then move to cooling racks. Cool completely. Store in airtight container. YUM!!! Makes 3 1/2-4 dozen.

I also received a Birthday ATC from Joyce in the UK.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boy, I Suck

And when I say I suck, I really mean it! The tote bag and goodies that I received from Carrie went way beyond what I expected! And way beyond what I was capable of doing. I am so completely unworthy. Just look at all the wonderful stuff that she sent!

Tons of candy, some decorations, and crafting supplies. I barely sent her a third of the amount of stuff that she sent me - and not nearly wrapped as prettily. I feel like I should just quit trying the swap thing. And I thought I had made some fun selections for her. I feel like I was sooo wrong.
Enough beating up on myself - for now. I also recived an ATC for the Birthday ATC Swap. It was from Dove in Virginia. She included a fun piece of stamped fabric, too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Surprise Package

When I was trying to come up with an idea for the Trick or Treat Swap, I had some serious discussions with Wanda. I wasn't sure how to execute my ideas, or even if they would work. Wanda decided to make a trial bag, to see if the ideas would work. She ended up sending me the bag and a few goodies, too.

As you can see by the photo, Reggie was quite interested in the tote bag, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Birthday

As far as birthdays go, this one was pretty uneventful. After getting up in the afternoon, I broke out the sewing machine so that I could work on finishing the Trick or Treat Swap tote bag. Things went pretty smoothly. I got the trim sewn on, but ended up having to hand sew the pocket. Not a show stopper, it all turned out okay.

Front of Bag

Back of Bag

Goodies in Bag

After working on the bag, I started on making yo-yos for the Ornabella Ornament Swap. I even took the stuff with me to work to work on. I got 13 yo-yos made, and I'm pleased with my progress.
At work, the girls surprised me with a gift.

I was definitely not expecting it. They said it was meant as a pampering thing - bubble bath, lotion, and chocolate. They told me to take a bath, eat chocolate and drink wine. Any suggestions as to what wine would compliment Reeses Peanut Butter Cups?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Crafting Day

Today did not go quite as I expected it to. The band was supposed to participate in a Tournament of Bands in Glen Burnie, but we all got notification yesterday that it was cancelled because of the weather forecast. So, what's a girl to do? I had off from work because of band, and no band because of the weather, so what's left? That's right, crafting!
To start the day, I looked out the back window and saw some lovely fall colors in the backyard. I love it when the trees turn different colors, especially from each other.

So, I worked on the bag for the Trick or Treat Swap. What a mess that turned out to be. I had found what I thought to be the cutest image, and when I went to iron it onto the bag, it was a disaster! So I painted over the spot that was made from the iron-on, and decided to sew a pocket over it. I carved a potato stamp of candy corns, and stamped the back of the bag. And that's what I did all day with the bag. Today was the day to send it out, and it wasn't ready. What a snafu!

While the paint was drying on the bag, I did assorted stuff for the Silver Bella swaps that I still need to complete. I wrote out some recipe cards and cut out envelopes for the Sweetest Things Recipe Swap, and cut out bases for the Under the Bigtop Fat Book Swap. Everything else I did was organizational, getting all of my stuff together for each swap.
Then, in the mail, I received this fun ATC from Mary in the Netherlands for the Birthday ATC Swap.