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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Next ATC

My latest ATC from the 2009 Birthday ATC Swap came today from Kathy in the UK. She included the cutest little handmade book filled with birthday wishes. I just loved the textiles used in this card - the colors and textures were wonderful! After receiving so many adorable fabric ATCs, I feel bad for the ladies who receive my plain paper-crafted ATCs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Two More Birthday ATCs

Today's mail brought two more ATCs for the 2009 Birthday ATC Swap. The first was from Sheila in Scotland. I just love the purple flowers combined with the fun purple, green, and gold stitching.

The second ATC was from Aine in Ireland. Her's was a sweetly stamped piece of fabric, embellished with seed beads and framed in paper. Too cute!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Purple Evening

Tonight's Pep Band gig was for the 3rd annual A Purple Evening at the stadium for the Purple Ladies. Like so many of our gigs, we played outside of the stadium for the crowd while they were lined up, waiting to enter the stadium for the function.
On the way home, I stopped in Bel Air at both Michael's and JoAnn's, in an attempt to find some stuff for both the tote bag swap and hostess gifts for Silver Bella. I hope I made some wise choices.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ravens vs. Bengals

Oh, what an exciting game. The Ravens lost, 17-14, but the last three minutes made the game all worth while. The Bengals had the ball, the score was 10-14, and if the Ravens could keep them away from the endzone, they could have won. Unfortunately, after a few penalties, the Bengals scored a touchdown, and with less than 40 seconds left in the game, the Ravens just could not overcome their mistakes.
For halftime, the band did a fabulous show. We played the In the Stone Fanfare (intro), Beautiful Girls, and Fantasy. Except for these huge rotating diagonals that never seem to work well, I think we did okay.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Huber Day 2009

It was a rainy day in Maryland...
This year's Huber Day was held at the American Legion. It was a potluck, with crabs provided by the company. I decided to bring deviled eggs (recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker). There was also going to be a dessert contest, and I had initially planned to not participate, but Wanda convinced me to try an Apple Cinnamon Cake recipe that she said was really easy, and went over well. She said it wasn't award-winning, but was still good. After making a test cake at 1 am this morning, I agree. The cake is very moist, and tasty, but it won't win any prizes. That's okay with me, though.

Apple Cinnamon Cake

1 pkg. spice or yellow cake mix
1 (21 oz.) can apple or peach pie filling
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350°. Blend together cake mix, pie filling and eggs in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed two minutes. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Spread half the batter in greased 13x9-inch pan. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar. Repeat with remaining batter and cinnamon-sugar. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool.

Recipe contributed by Judy Vrbanic in "Bicentennial Cookbook 1796-1996" for the First Reformed United Church of Christ in Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another ATC

Today, I received an ATC from Norma C in the UK for the 2009 Birthday ATC Swap. There was a butterfly on it, and I love my butterflies.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sweet Treat Charms are Done

Early this morning, I finally finished work on the charms for the Sweet Treat Charm Swap. Actually, I had finished the charms a while ago, but thought I had lost them. So, I ordered new stuff to make new charms, then found the old charms. I found a use for the new stuff I ordered, in the was of presenting the old charms. I ordered little mesh bags to put the old charms in for distribution, but attached the new stuff to the drawstrings, so they wouldn't go to waste. So, without further ado, here is a picture of a sample charm with distribution bag (distribution sounds so technical).


Presentation (note charms attached to drawstrings)

And this evening, I got two more Birthday ATCs. The first is from Cindy in Virginia. It has wonderful fall colors.

The second is from Pauline in Australia. With my new found affection for the color red, and the butterfly charm, I think that this one is terribly appropriate for me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Band that Wouldn't Die

Tonight, the band had a very special night. For ESPN's 30 for 30, Barry Levinson did a piece about the band. The piece premiered tonight at the stadium. The band performed a short concert before the piece was aired on the big screen, and it was very good. Of course, I'm in the band, so I would think so :-) It premieres on television next Tuesday, so don't forget to check it out - I even cried a tear.
It's also Mom's and Dad's anniversary today - Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Welcome Ava Renee

This afternoon, at 10:07 am MST, my step-daughter and her husband, Tammy and Chad, became the proud parents to a little girl! Her name is Ava Renee, and she weighed 6 lbs 4 oz, and was 19.25 inches long. I think she has brown hair and blue eyes. This is Tom's first grandchild, and he's not quite happy with the title "Grandpa" right now, but I think he'll get over it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Walk Through the Yard and More ATCs

Before work today, Tom and I went out in the yard to look at the new trees he bought. While out in the yard we saw a deer at the treeline. I thought it was really cool, since it was early afternoon, and someone was out mowing their lawn, that the deer was out there.

Wanda's been curious about the yardwork that's been done all summer, so here are a few pictures of what's up. This is the view behind the house, looking down the backyard.

And this is the island that Tom did around the septic tank. I don't remember if I posted about it, but I had to touch up the paint on the birdbath some time this summer.

Then, while I was getting cleaned up for work, Tom went out to get the mail, and I got two more Birthday ATCs. The first was from Ann in the UK. The colors and textures she used were wonderful!

The second was from Marga in Florida. I just love the Korean print on the flowers.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Another Party, Another ATC

Tonight's work was a rehearsal dinner. What I wanted to show everyone was this great centerpiece.

What I thought was so great about it, was what the flowers were seated in the vase with.

That's right - coffee beans. I thought the idea was just too cool, and the arrangements, although artificial, smelled great!

And, just to be consistent with the rest of my posts about the parties I've been working lately, this is the cake that Rita did for them.

Too cute! They're getting married at the lighthouse tomorrow, and this is so appropriate.
Lastly, I received yet another Birthday ATC. This one was from Norma S in Arizona. I just love the trim, and the image is adorable!