Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Very Merry Unbirthday Cake Swap

Tabitha of Creative Wings recently hosted a fabulous swap,
A Very Merry Unbirthday Cake Swap

We had to select from the following categories
a. shabby pastels (pinks, creams, white, aqua, lavender, yellow, peach)
b. vintage dirty ( tea stained creams and white with rusty elements.)
c. Primary brights (red, white, bright yellows think 50's retro & pinups)

I selected Vintage dirty (but obviously missed the mark)

Then we were to Create a lovely cake from a paper mache box (no smaller than 4 in. long and wide and not to exceed 7 inch)

 Lisa Bivona of Creating at Pearl Avenue Studios and I were partnered up.

I started out on track with vintage dirty by creating the fence, see it's vintage dirty right???    The Roses on top are supposed to look vintage, I did paint them with Old Rose.  I also went as far as to coat the brass dragonfly with gilders paste.  But after that the project took on a life of it's own, and vintage dirty was not the direction it wanted to go.

Check out my Mushrooms.  The Fabulous always inspiring Nichola of Pixie Hill showed me how to make those. 

I saw the roses on Pinterest via The Polka Dot Closet.  I changed mine a bit, and had a few problems with the given tutorial so I've made my own that I will share with you soon.

When I was completely done with the box inspiration struck and I just had to mount it onto a glass enclosed butterfly.

I ended up getting a mini trifle bowl from wal-mart for about $1.50. 

Here are just a few of the items that I filled the box with.  To act as padding/filling so things wouldn't bounce around I put a large lace piece.  I guess at least I went vintage dirty with the inside items LOL.

I hope Lisa likes what I have created and I can't wait to see what she has made me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Art Share ~ Rhonda

I've been a bit remiss in sharing the lovely things I've gotten recently.  Wish I could say it was because I wanted to keep them all to myself but it's more like this has been one CrAzY summer. 

This stunning piece (which I have hanging up in my studio) is by Rhonda over at RhondaMum.  Rhonda is the woman who introduced me to the Marie Antoinette Mail Art Group and I am forever grateful. 

After being a member of MAMA for almost 2 years Rhonda and I were finally paired up in a swap.  The Marie Folded Cloth Heart swap was a partner swap.  We were required to create a heart with the following guidelines.

No glue to be used on this heart, this is to be sewn, either by machine or hand.
When you print out the pattern it should be 6 inches high by 8 1/2 wide. These are alot of fun to make, use beautiful laces and you can decorate your heart anyway you would like, you can also use color if you wish.

I love what Rhonda made for me.  The colors are gorgeous and these pictures just don't capture all the time and love I know she put into this piece. 

You can view the piece I created for Rhonda HERE

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Maze Runner, Enders Game and Lord of the Flies

The Maze Runner by James Dashner 2011 Kentucky Bluegrass Award winner for grades 9-12!
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.


Ever since I was a little girl I have loved Mazes, possibly because I am obsessed with the movie Labyrinth, so of course I was going to read a book about a Maze.  The Maze Runner is the first in a series of Young Adult Distopian (sci-fi) Novels. Heavily influenced by Enders Game by Orson Scott Card and The Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  This book was also recommended for those that enjoyed The Hunger Games, which I did. 

Keeping in mind the pacing of The Hunger Games and the fact that this is a young adult novel, I found it moved a bit slow.  Well, maybe not slow but left too many questions unanswered.  The entire book is one big question and only gets worse when the only girl shows up.  By the end of the book none of the questions have been answered, in fact more have been presented.  I have a copy of The Scorch Trials, book two, but for some reason I wasn't dying to pick it up and solve the mystery.

The Maze itself is beautifully described, very intriguing, I want to be in it (minus the scary monsters).  However Dashner could have done a bit more hashing out the characters.  Thomas has an insatiable urge to become a runner and find a way out of the Maze (I understand wanting to get out of the Maze) but due to the amount of mystery Dashner wrote into the book, the characters have no memory, there is no reason behind this drive. 

Overall I found the book okay, I do plan on reading on but not anytime soon, I have a ton of other books that are calling my interest much stronger than The Scorch Trials.  I am however intrigued by the idea of this book being turned into a movie.  It has been Green lighted and IMDB reports that it is in development and due sometime in 2013.  If the movie is anything like the Book Trailer it will be a must see. 

At the time I was reading it I did not know that Dashner had been inspired by William Golding.  I kept saying, wow this is very Lord of the Flies.  So I did a bit of research (what did we do before the Internet?) and discovered that Dashner, in an interview, said that he was inspired by The Lord of the Flies and Enders Game.  I had never read Enders Game, I did read Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card and didn't enjoy it.  But I decided to pick up Enders Game to see the connection.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.


I really enjoyed this book.  I could go on and on but there were only two things that bothered me and neither of them are very significant.  The first is that I thought Ender was too young, he is 6 in the book.  I have a five year old and I guess the whole idea of a genius 6 year old is hard for me to wrap my mind around.  When I ignored this component I liked Ender and the book was believable. 

My second issue was that in the middle of the book Card takes the reader away from Enders experiences and focuses on his brother and sister.  This slowed the pace down, and while it is probably vital to the other books I have no intention of reading any more in this series having heard that this book is the best. 

In relation to The Maze Runner, there is not as much of The Enders Game influence but it is there.  The futuristic, more scientific approach, killing off the buggers can all be seen in The Maze Runner. 

What I find very interesting is that Enders Game is being made into a movie also and is scheduled to come out next year.  The same time as The Maze Runner.  Enders Game is much further along in production.  Below is a fan made video showing off the cast.  You can also view the cast on IMDB.

Originally published in 1954, William Golding's Lord of the Flies is one of the most disturbing and celebrated novels of modern times. — A plane crashes on a desert island. The only survivors are a group of schoolboys. At first they revel in the freedom and celebrate the absence of grown-ups. Soon though, as the boys' fragile sense of order begins to collapse, their fears start to take on a sinister, primitive significance. Suddenly, the world of cricket, homework and adventure stories seems a long way away. The boys are faced with a more pressing reality — survival — and the appearance of a terrifying beast who haunts their dreams

I read Lord of the Flies when I was in High School (many many years ago) and didn't like it.  However I decided to give the book a second chance thinking that since it was a school assignment that I might like it when not forced to read it.  So I picked up the audio and couldn't get past the first CD.  I just don't like the characters. 

In relation to The Maze Runner there are a lot of similarities.  My dislike of the characters in The Lord of the Flies is because they were such well developed and well written characters which to me is what was missing in the Maze Runner. 

If you haven't read The Lord of the Flies then you will miss out on many of the influences and connections between it and The Maze Runner, but I don't think that it will make you like or dislike the book anymore or less.

The Lord of the Flies was originally made into a movie in 1960 and remade in 1990 so you can watch that if you don't want to read the book.

Overall I found The Maze Runner a fun read because it let me to reading a new book and to reanalyze one I read a long time ago.

I am linking up with Art @ Home's Literary Friday

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

Last week was my husbands birthday and of course I had to make him something special.  But what to make for the man that is willing to ride a giant fish for me? 

But first, a few words about this now 35 year old man.  He is a goofball (obviously) a take it or leave it kind of guy that loves everything I make.  So, back to my delima, what to make.  Well, his favorite cookies are Chocolate Chip Cookies (which I loath) and I haven't tried to make any cookie flavored cupcakes yet so voila my idea. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes.

But here's where you all yell at me. 

Well, that fabulous Fish wrangling husband of mine said that I knocked these out of the park (phew...because I didn't taste them) and that I should keep this recipe all to myself.  So for now I will follow his advice (because I would hate to see what he would ride if I disagreed with him) but one day maybe you will see my secret recipe. 

Just a hint, they are filled with a scrumptious combination that tastes just like Chocolate Chip Cookie dough (so I was told), but is not actually the cough itself.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Art Share ~ Stamp Out Crime

Do you know the story of Lizzie Borden?  Well one of the members of Stamp Out Crime featured the story on her ATC.  The above creation is by Aja M. 

I kind of know the story but looked it up just to make sure. 

Meet Lizzie

Information from Wikipedia

Lizzie Andrew Borden[2] (July 19, 1860 – June 1, 1927) was a woman in New England who was tried for killing her father and stepmother with an axe on August 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts. The murders, subsequent trial, and ensuing trial by media became a cause célèbre. Although Lizzie Borden was acquitted, no one else was ever arrested or tried and she has remained a notorious figure in American folklore. Dispute over the identity of the killer or killers continues to this day.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Art Share ~ Kimberly Laws

I am thrilled to be the owner of one of Kimberly's ATC's.  This is the last of my returns from last months Mermaid ATC swap hosted by Kimberly at art JOY stuff.  The colors are just perfect and the little addition of glitter is great! 

If you haven't swapped with Kimberly before you are missing out.  She is a fabulous hostess that always goes above and beyond, look at the wonderful way she packaged the ATC returns!  This was a wonderful swap with wonderful returns and I can't wait to have tine to join another one of her swaps.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Art Share ~ Sabrina Schtuff

Yesterday I shared one of the pieces I received from art JOY stuff's most recent ATC swap.  Today I am sharing one by Sabrina Schtuff of Schtuff @ Home. 

I just love the image and she colored it wonderfully.  The addition of the pearls is perfect. 

Stop by art JOY stuff to check out her most recent ATC swap, Due July 27th

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Art Share ~ Karla Jackson

Last month I joined one of Kimberly's fabulous ATC swaps.  The theme was mermaids.  Well, today I received the returns and boy are they gorgeous!

The above ATC is by Karla Jackson entitled The Pin Up Girl.  Isn't she wonderful, the glitter is just perfect! 

Make sure you stop by art JOY stuff to see what Kimberley has going on, just click on the above picture.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Art Share ~ Stamp Out Crime

It's Monday (yuck!) but at the same time yea! because I get to share another Stamp Out Crime ATC.

This one is by Jacki G. aka Rubbercat.  She selected the 6th book in Shirley Rousseau Murphy's cat series, Cat Spitting Mad.

Winner of the Cat Writers' Association's
2001 Muse Medallion Award!

"I am a cat, Dulcie. A free spirit. A four-legged unencumbered citizen. I don't need to answer to any human."  Joe Grey is mad enough to spit! No matter what Clyde, his irritating human "owner," says, he's not keeping his paws off this case, not when Max Harper's life and the future of law enforcement in the town of Molena Point are at stake. While Joe has certainly delighted in playing countless smug tricks on Max Harper, Molena Point's head lawman, he's never had anything but respect for the dedicated cop. Now Harper is in trouble. Big trouble. Two of his horseback riding companions have been viciously murdered on the trail, and Dillon, the spunky young girl who accompanied them, is missing. All the evidence points to Harper, and he doesn't have a single witness--at least not a human one!--to vouch for his alibi. Joe knows Harper is innocent and is hissing to prove it--and to rescue his young friend Dillon before it is too late. He and Dulcie must keep their night-eyes sharp and their soft paws moving to avoid both a vicious killer and a hungry cougar prowling around the town's hills.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

French Cloth Banner Supply Swap

Recently I signed up for another fabulous Marie Antoinette Mail Art (MAMA) Swap. For this swap we were partnered up, and I am thrilled to be Sandys partner, and asked to purchase certain items to make a French Cloth Banner

Sandy said she would like floral and pink, so I went pink! Some of the items we needed to get were ribbons, laces, buttons, flowers, fabric and a rhinestone broach of some kind.   


As always one of the best parts of being a member of MAMA is knowing your items are going to be beautifully packaged.  I wrapped her fibers around images of Marie and decorated a bag for all the little bits (buttons, broaches, and flowers).  After that I stuffed it all into a box, and it is on its way right now.  I can't wait to see what she creates with these goodies.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman


Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: Twenty-eight year old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, and twenty-three year old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. 

Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley. Romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily's boyfriend, Jonathan, is fantastically successful. Jess's boyfriends, not so much--as her employer George points out in what he hopes is a completely disinterested way.

Bicoastal, surprising, rich in ideas and characters, The Cookbook Collector is a novel about getting and spending, and about the substitutions we make when we can't find what we're looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living. But above all it is about holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that stays.


I was instantly drawn to this book, you know when you see a cover and it just screams "Read me, Read me!"  Y'all know how much I love food and the idea of a book about food just appeals to me.  However I will NEVER make that mistake again.  This book has almost nothing to do with the Cookbook Collector, in fact that character, who is only mentioned by other characters, doesn't even show up until around page 100.

On top of that, the book has very little to do with the synopsis.  In fact at one point I decided that this book seems lacked in plot and was really just a character study, but a character study of way to many people.  I didn't even know who the main characters were.  Each time Goodman introduced a new character she went off on a tangent about another character in that set.  It felt very 7 degrees of separation like.  I understanding that books and characters can be connected but this one came off as too formulated which made it unbelievable. 

Allegra Goodman

Goodman opens her novel in 1999 with two sisters disagreeing and not understanding one another.  I kind of rolled my eyes and thought "not another one" having just finished Shanghi Girls (see my review HERE).  In truth the book isn't about the sisters at all, it's about, Silicon Valley, a bookstore, philosophy, IPO's, environmental issues, Jewish mysticism and finally cookbooks.  As the story continues it grows closer and closer to 9/11 which makes quite a few things easy to predict. 

This is one of those books where the author constantly drops other authors names.  I'm not going to say I am a Literarian but I do consider myself fairly well read and I hadn't heard of hardly any of the authors nor did I know any of the quotes she used to enhance her book.  But what really bothered me was that Goodman used the book quotes to repeat what the characters had already shown or told so I started skipping over them. 

I hate to admit this, but there were quite a few works in this book that I had to look up.  Words like Ziftib, xeriscape, enjambment, and quixotic.  With all the quotes and words I didn't know I got annoyed with Goodman.  It felt like she was showing off her education instead of writing my favorite a story.

Plumb Cake

There was one story line that I could like more than the others (If you haven't figured it out I did not like this book at all).  This particular story line is of course the one that involves the cookbook collector.  At the end of the book Goodman includes some cakes.  The above image is to represent "Plumb Cake" (American Cookery, 1796) w/ currants, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, salt, citron, orange peel candied, flour, eggs, yeast, wine, cream, raisins.  Adopted from Mrs. Simmons

This book did make for a good Book club book, the room was split on liking and hating it which always makes for a good discussion.  I fell into the hating group.

I give this book 2 sprinkles of glitter, not even enough to give it a good coating. 

I'm linking up with

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Masque of the Black Tulip, done up ATC Style

Hey Gang, this is my second creation for the new group I joined, Stamp Out Crime.  I selected the book The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig (A Pink Carnation Novel).  It is the second in the series. 

In my mind this one looked a lot different than how it turned out, and yes, I am disappointed with the outcome.  I thought the masque would take up more room and be more decorative (I could have added more but I just ran out of time).  I do like all my Tulips, the open ones in the back (which look more like poppies to me but the stamp clearly said Tulips) and the 3D paperclay Tulip I sculpted, molded and mass produced. 

I should be getting returns for this swap any day now and I can't wait to see them.  This new group is great and we are even doing a Murder Mystery Read Along! 

I will be sharing more pieces by this group every Monday.

Art Share ~ Rosalie A.

 I have more art to share!

I'm sharing more art from the fabulous Alpha Stamps "Wish You Were Here Beach Postcard Swap"

Click the image above to read all about the swap, see upcoming swaps and check out all of the participants pieces in the Gallery.

These 2 beauties are by Rosalie Ackerson.  I just love how she died and used cheesecloth to represent netting.  And all the things caught in her net are just gorgeous!  Wonderful postcards!

Right now Alpha Stamps is having a HUGE (sorry for the yelling but it is ginormous) 4th of July Sale so make sure you head over and check it out, it ends the 8th and you don't want to miss it!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Liberty Cupcakes!

For all my American Blogging Friends, I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July filled with fun, family and food.

Liberty Cupcakes
(for those not inclined towards the red, white and blue it can easily be changed)
For best time management make the custard first or even a day ahead

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • whisk butter, yogurt, eggs and vanilla together
  • mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together
  • slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients
  • mix until light and fluffy
  • fill cupcake liners 3/4 full
  • cook 20-25 minutes
Vanilla Cream Custard with Blueberries and Raspberries
2 egg yolks
1/4 sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 pinch salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
  • Whisk yolks until smooth and set aside
  • Crush the blueberries and raspberries
  • Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat
  • Add milk in a slow constant stream. 
  • Whisk until mixture begins to bubble and thicken
  • Pour 1/3 of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly
  • Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick
  • Stir in the vanilla and crushed berries
  • Transfer the custard into a bowl and press plastic wrap directly on the surface
  • Refrigerate until cold (at least 1 hour)
Maple Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons maple syrup, the real stuff!
  • In a saucepan whisk flour and sugar together, add milk and cream
  • Cook over medium heat until boils and thickens
  • transfer mixture to a bowl and beat on high until cool
  • turn mixer to low and add butter a little at a time - when all the butter is incorporated increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy
  • add vanilla and maple syrup
  • Once cupcakes are cool, cut out a plug from the center and fill with custard
  • Pipe on Frosting
  • Add decorations

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Art Share ~ Debbie Lynch

The Alpha Stamps Wish You Were Here Beach Postcard Swap is officially over.  All the wonderful postcards are in the gallery and participants are getting their swap returns as I type.  But before I close the door on this wonderful swap I want to share a few pieces.  Many of the other Design Team members are highlighting individual pieces also so make sure to stop by their blogs too.

These are two of Debbie Lynch's wonderful seaside vacation cards.  You can see all of her postcards and the other close to 200 pieces in the Alpha stamps Gallery

Right now there aren't any open swaps at Alpha Stamps but boy do we have a fabulous one forming in a crystal ball.  So stop by Alpha Stamps and see what they have to offer, you won't be sorry!