Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dreamhunter ~ Read Along & Prize

It's that time again, time for another Read Along

This time you asked and I listened, a YA SciFi

by: Elizabeth Knox

Laura comes from a world similar to our own except for one difference: It is next to the Place, an unfathomable land that fosters dreams of every kind and is inaccessible to all but a select few, the dreamhunters. These are individuals with the ability to catch larger-than-life dreams and relay them to audiences in the magnificent dream palace. People travel from all around to experience the benefits of the hunters’ unique visions.

Now, fifteen-year-old Laura and her cousin Rose, daughters of dreamhunters, are old enough to find out if they qualify to enter the Place. But nothing can prepare them for what they are about to discover. In the midst of a fascinating landscape, Laura’s dreamy childhood is ending, and a nightmare is beginning.
How will this read along work?
On Wednesday, April 18th I will post some questions for the first section of the book you have until the following Monday to answer the questions in a comment. I will put your name in a pot and select a weekly winner on the following Tuesday. The prizes will be one of the following, a PBS credit, a $5 Gift Certificate from Amazon or a handmade item.
But before we get started I have a special prize One Copy of Dreamhunter to give away to a lucky Ready Alonger. 

This is a paperback copy, ISBN 9780312535711, In very good condition. 

Leave a comment here saying that you are planning on participating in this read along and you will be entered.  I will draw a winner on the 7th of April.

Proposed Schedule
April 18th  Part 1 (The Talented Family) Questions posted
April 23rd Part 1 Answers Due
April 24th Part 1 winner announced
April 25th Part 2 (The Try) Questions posted
April 30th Part 2 Answers Due
May 1st Part 2 Winner Announced
May 2nd Part 3 (The Sandman) Questions posted
May 7th Part 3 Answers Due
May 8th Part 3 Winner Announced
May 9th Part 4 (Open Secrets & The Measures) Questions posted
May 14th Part 4 Answers due
May 15th Part 4 Winner Announced
May 16th Part 5 (The Rainbow Opera) Questions posted
May 21st Part 5 Answers Due
May 22nd Winner Announced


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes


I love a good Peanut Butter and honey sandwich and my daughters love it with Jelly but what's better than a PB&J, a cupcake of course. 

 So I decided to play a little bit and came up with this PB&J Cupcake and boy were they good!  The cupcake is peanut butter and then I did a raspberry jelly type filling and topped it with a honey butter cream frosting.

2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Jiffy creamy)
2 eggs (room temp)
1 1/2 cups Milk (room temp) (I used 2% because it's what I had but would normally use whole)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix sugar, shortening and peanut butter until fluffy

Add eggs 1 at a time stirring just until yellow disappears

Add vanilla

In a separate bowl sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt (I double measure my flour)

Mix flour mixture into wet mixture alternating with milk

Bake 15-20 minutes

Filling:  Prepair this while the cupcakes are cooling
1 jar good quality jelly (I used one from a farmers market)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Stir all of these ingredients together over over heat until combined and tasty (you can add a bit of sugar if you like/feel like you need to)

Once the cupcakes are cool fill each one with some of this and spread it over the top

1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
2 1/2 - 3 cups confectioners sugar sifted (more if you like a sweeter frosting)
1/4 tsp salt
4 tble honey
up to 4 tble milk or heavy cream (do this to get the right consistency, if it is runny add more sugar if it is stiff add more milk)

Beat butter for a few minutes until creamy.  Add powdered sugar and turn mixer on lowest setting until sugar is incorporated.  Increase mixer speed and add final ingredients.

Frost cupcakes and enjoy!  or just make a PB&J :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Big Announcement!

Guess What Guess What Guess What!

I finally did it!  I'm a member of the Alpha Stamps Design Team!

I am joining a bunch of uber talented women and am honored to be among them.  You can check out my bio and mugshot and everyone else's HERE

I can't wait to get started and share my talent and theirs with all of you!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Art Share ~ Rosie Marie ATC Swap

It's a Marie Antoinette Mail Art Group Swap!  And this time we made ATC's featuring an image of Marie with Roses.  You can view my pieces HERE.

This lovely piece is by M McClure of Artful Curiosities  She slipped her ATC into a soft pink gift bag and added a lovely flower.  Presentation is a big thing with this group and it makes these swaps so special to get an ATC in something like this. 

Her ATC is adorned with rhinestones and lace, my favorites!  And check out that background, perfect compliment to her Marie and Roses!

This gorgeous Marie is by T Daugherty of Pixels and Paste I love her addition of the pearls as earrings and a bracelet. 

This gorgeous creation is by M Scott of All Things Pretty  She slipped her ATC inside a white paper bag stamped with this lovely image (which I own but have never used)

Look at all the wonderful lace, ribbon and beads she used!  I love the 3D ness of her piece.

As always I am thrilled with this swap and can't wait to do another one. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

I have loved Sci/Fi Dystopian novels ever since I was Handed Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451, something about them just intrigues me, keeps me enthralled and up late at night.  Veronica Roth's Divergent is amazing and will forever be added to my best books ever list.

Roth set her book in a non specified future in the city of Chicago.  She describes this once beautiful city and what it has turned into in an almost poetic manner.  I was clearly able to picture the world that Tris lives in.

Many of you know how much I love The Hunger Games, but one of my issues with it and many other dystopican novels is the plausibility of what has occurred in society.  Roth actually spends a little bit of time explaining why the factions came about.  While it is not her strongest storyline it doesn't leave the reader with a taste of unbelievability in their mouths. 

Like The Hunger Games, this book is very violent.  Violence doesn't normally bother me but some in this book did.  It took me a while to realize why.  In The Hunger Games the violence is forced upon the characters, in Roth's book Tris chooses the more violent path.  Something about the fact that this was what she chose always lingered in the back of my mind when the violent scene came up. 

Right now I am trudging through a book with absolutely no romance, many years ago I discovered if there isn't at least a hint of romance I tend to dislike the book.  Roth has an on again off again romance line that adds to the page turner effect she created with her writing and overall story.  I can't wait to see what happens in the sequel Insurgent that comes out May 1st.

I have to admit that I was in a bit of a reading funk until I picked up Divergent, I had started and stopped 5 books and since reading Divergent I haven't been thrilled with anything.  It truly is a wonderful book and if Dystopian novels are your thing you should read it. 

5 Stars!

Other books that I've read that you might like if you like Divergent:
The Host
The Hunger Games

Other books that have been suggested to me because I love Divergent:
The Maze Runner (on my To Be Read pile)
Ashes, Ashes
and many others

I've started a Cast on Cast It but not all the actors I like have been updated into the system: 

Zoe Boyle

Chace Crawford

Aaron Stanford

Matthew Atkinson

Maggie Q

Anjelica Huston

If you have read or do read Divergent let me know what you think of it!  i would love to hear both sides, thost that love and those that don't. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Art Share ~ Naughty Valentine Tins

Today I am sharing the last of the Alpha Stamps Naughty Valentine Swap pieces which is sad but then again you can always go view all 108 images in the Gallery HERE

The above piece was created by Susan S.  Can you guess what she used as a pedestal?  It's a cap to a bottle! 

This one is by first time swapper Theresa G. she sent me the nicest e-mail telling me that she had messed up her tins but was sending them anyway.  Messed up!  Whatever!  Isn't it gorgeous!  She used mini painted wood bits as a stand.

This piece is by Robin P.  She hand beaded the heart!

Jessa B. has a hidden secret inside her tins (you can view it in the gallery, link above) and she sent me some scrumptious whole peppercorns as a gift.  Gorgeous art and yummy food what more could a hostess ask for?

And lastly, but certainly not least, Patsy K. created this gorgeous tin (that I had to keep) I love that she didn't use traditional valentine colors and the simplicity draws me in.  On the side she used a gorgeous black and white art deco ribbon that adds so much (view it in the gallery).

Well, that's all :(  I had a great time creating, viewing, and swapping these tins.  Everyone outdid themselves!  And I look forward to swapping with everyone in the future.  Make sure to check out Alpha Stamps Yahoo Group for upcoming swaps.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Art Share ~ Naughty Valentines Tins

It's another day where I am sharing more of the fabulous tins created for the Alpha Stamp Naughty Valentine Tin Swap you can view all the wonderful tins in the Alpha Stamps Gallery 108 wonderful images!

The one above was created by Kristin B. You know I love all that pink glitter inside!

This is one of Marilyn H.'s gorgeous tins.  Make sure you take a few minutes to look at how all the artists used this lovely image.  It was a very popular image and everyone used it very differently. 

Jennifer D.'s imagination soared when she put this guy together.  Isn't he too much fun!  The perfect Valentine Guy!

Joann W. put together this stunning tin, glitter and glittery ribbon!

Tomorrow I will share the last of the tins, but you can always visit them in the gallery.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Upside Down Cupcakes ~ Egg and Dairy Free!

This week my sweet girl had the letter bag for school, she had to fill it with things starting with the letter U and take a snack for her classmates.  I freaked, what foods start with the letter U?  Well, after stressing for a few days that I would fail as a mother I thought about Upside Down Cake!  But then the problem became that there are a number of allergies in her class and I wanted to make sure if I baked that everyone could enjoy it.  I had to do quite a bit of research on things to use as substitutes and truth be told I was scared to try these but oh my they are very good!

So without further ado here is the recipe that many of you have asked for.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.  And I apologise for the quality of the photograph, we ate them all before I could take a good picture, this is one from my phone.

Grape Seed Oil
20 oz can pineapple slices, or fresh
Maraschino cherries, pecans would be a good substitute if you don't like cherries
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, softened, plus 1/2 cup, melted
1 1/4 cup soy milk, plain
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups pureed apples (about 2 and a half apples) (you could use applesauce, unsweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure it's fresh)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy milk and 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar and set aside.
  • Coat 2 (total of 24) cupcake/muffin tins with the grape seed oil, make sure to get up on the sides
  • Sprinkle the brown sugar into each tin, coating the bottoms.
  • Pour the 1/2 cup of melted Earth Balance over the brown sugar in each cup
  • Cut the pineapple rings into about 8 slices and place 4 into the bottom of each cup (see image)
  • Place a cherry into each tin
  • Mix/beat the Earth Balance until creamy
  • Add the sugar and mix on low/medium for about 30 seconds, until incorporated and still fluffy
  • Add the apple sauce and vanilla extract to the sugar mixture and beat until well combined
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
  • Add the dry ingredients to the sugar and butter alternating with the soy milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. 
  • Mix in the remaining 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • Pour the batter into each cup filling almost to the top
  • Bake between 25-30 minutes (these do not get brown so you need to check them with a toothpick)
  • Let cool completely in tins
  • Carefully remove and enjoy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Art Share ~ Naughty Valentines Day Tins

 Today I am sharing more of the wonderful tins that were created for the Alpha Stamps Naughty Valentines Tins Swap.  To see all the tins visit the Alpha Stamps Gallery HERE

Lynn Fox put this beauty together. 

First time Alpha Swap participant, Monica Dase, came up with this fiery tin.  The flames are hand drawn!

One of my favorite things about hosting swaps is seeing what participants do with the same images.  Mary Pendergrass went red hot with this Collage Sheet image.

While Robyn Fergeson went icy blue.

Design team member Rhonda Thomas combined pearls, roses and a gold cupid together to make this stunning tin.   

More to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Art Share ~ Naughty Valentine Tin Swap

Well, another fabulous Alpha Stamps swap has come to an end. 

This one was the Naughty Valentines Day tin swap and wow there were some amazing pieces made.  You can view them all in the Alpha Stamps Gallery for the Tins located HERE There were 19 participants and over 100 photo's so I won't be sharing them all but here are a few.  I'll be sharing more over the next few days. 

This beauty if by Deborah Bonner.  I just love the cherub head on the top it makes me think of Mozart playing a private sonata at a romantic tryst. 

Design Team Member Laura Carson put this tin together.  The pedestal is a drawer pull!

She was super sweet and included this lovely ATC for me as a Hostess gift.  I love hostess gifts even though they are not necessary :) 

Lori Guerin combined these fabulous creams and blues using one of my all time favorite Collage Sheets.  I'm not sure what she made the pedestal out of but it works wonderfully.

This is one of Shannon Tuttles Tins.  It was really hard for me to pick just one of hers so make sure you check out the gallery to see the other tins these ladies made.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dead Author Tag Book

Now that you have seen all the individual tags and envelopes here is the completed Dead Authors Tag Book.  Isn't it just great!  It went together so well.

The pages flip nicely and all the tags are easily removed.

All of the Circle of Friends members that took part have received their tag book and many have asked how I assembled it.  Well I got a wonderful gift from my best friend this past Christmas, a book called Handmade Books and Bindings.  The technique was in that book.  However I ended up not following it to a T.  If you are interested in a tutorial let me know and I think I might be convinced to put one together for you.

This was a great project and I have my Dead Author Tag book up in my studio so I can enjoy it.  I enjoyed this swap so much I might have to do it again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Art Share ~ Sandi

This is the last of the wonderful Dead Author Tag art shares I have.  This one is by our fearless leader Sandi. 

She selected the author
William Shakespeare

Her tag quote is
"It is not in the stars to hold our DESTINY but in ourselves."

And the one she used on the envelope is
"This above all; to thine own self be true." 

Which is one of my favorites.

So all put together the authors in our Dead Author Tag Book Are
Edgar Allan Poe
Emily Dickenson
Robert Von Ranke Graves
Cicely Mary Barker
Oscar Wilde
Lewis Caroll
Beatrix Potter
William Shakespeare

Soon I'll have the tag books put together and have photo's of the finished project.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Art Share ~ Diana

Yesterday I shared a new Circle of Friend members artwork and today I am sharing another.  These tags are by Diana. 

As I mentioned yesterday I made some of the envelopes.  This is another one that I did, which was so much fun because I got to use one of my favorite stamps that I hardly ever use and of course glitter.

Diana selected the Dead Author Beatrix Potter who I love and grew up on her Peter Rabbit stories.  Not one of her tags is the same which makes them all wonderful and very hard for me to decide which one to keep for myself :) 

Other Authors included in our tag book are
Edgar Allan Poe
Emily Dickenson
Robert Von Ranke Graves
Cicely Mary Barker
Oscar Wilde
Lewis Caroll

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Art Share ~ Sandy

It's so fun to swap with new people.  This piece was made by one of the newer members of the Circle of Friends, Sandy.

A quick recap of the swap I am hosting.  It is a tag swap (I'll be combining all the tags into a book) featuring Dead Authors.  The participants only had to create a tag, but many made the envelopes also. 

If you would be interested in joining a fun, chatty art group please check us out at our yahoo group.

Sandy selected the author Edgar Allan Poe and her tags have tons of cool features that don't show up in the photo's.  Lots of embossing and watermarks.

I created these envelopes to hold Sandy's lovely art, I hope I did it justice.  Poe is one of my favorites too so I had lots of Raven stuff and quotes from his works.  I tried to stick with her color scheme but my brown was a bit off.  It was a lot of fun working off of someone else's art. 

Other Authors in our Tag Book art
Emily Dickenson
Robert Von Ranke Graves
Cicely Mary Barker
Oscar Wilde
Lewis Caroll