Sunday, November 29, 2009

Putting up the Christmas tree...

Love this time of year and this is the first Christmas that I'm gonna get some "white"! Yahoo! Here are a few photos of us decorating the tree.

We get the tree from a local shop. In and out with the dogs in under 15 minutes!

This is the widest tree I've ever gotten. This tree cost us $39! In Tampa this tree would have been at least $60.
Charles untangling the mess that is the lights.

Ginger helps Daddy put up the decorations. What a good girl!

Putting up the vintage tree topper. I remember when I was little we used this one a lot. I am so happy (sometimes) that my mom was a pack-rat and kept everything. I love this topper and this is the first year I've used it on my tree.

The final product. Ready for presents!

New "Hunting Season" Ideas

It is pretty common knowledge that Charles and I don't "get behind" the notion of hunting. Give a guy a gun and send him off into the woods to shoot at critters. Doesn't seem to really be a fair fight, so Charles and I were discussing some more "level-playing-field" options for the game commission to consider this season. And since tomorrow is Buck Day (first day of deer hunting season-and a local holiday from work) we've decided to share them with you!

-Strangling Season
-Ice Pick Season
-"Your Mama" Jokes Season
-Hand Drill Season
-Vulcan Nerve Pinch Season
And our favorite, the
-"Why-You-Hittin'-Yourself?" Season

We hope that some of these new "seasons" will catch on!

Happy Please-Don't-Shoot-A-Buck Day!

Marshmallows with Toasted Coconut

7 ounces sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Sprinkle half the toasted coconut in an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal pan. Pour in the marshmallow batter and smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands. Sprinkle on the remaining toasted coconut. Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.

Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares. Roll the sides of each piece carefully in confectioners' sugar. Store uncovered at room temperature.

I used the Ina Garten recipe but made mine bigger to fit perfectly on a graham cracker square. They were wonderful in s'mores, but just as yummy direct from the pan!

This is a bit messy but totally fun to make and I used disposable gloves when smoothing it down.

Friday, November 27, 2009

25 Things

I am borrowing this idea from my friend Suze's blog who borrowed it from a US Weekly article about 25 things you don't know about a certain celebrity.

Here are 25 Things You Might Not Know About Me:

1. I am a cat person. As much as I love my two dogs, I love cats more!

2. I have a magazine fetish. Love to read them, and used to "collect" them. Was very hard for me to throw out a magazine. (That was before I started watching Hoarders on TV.)

3. I once saw a person fly through a window of a van and get impaled on the antenna.

4. As a teenager I saw more old, classic movies on the big screen than I did current ones.

5. I used to be an interpreter for the deaf.

6. I won a cooking competition and had my conch fritter recipe published in a cookbook when I was a teenager.

7. I have thrown, co-hosted or attended a Halloween party almost every year of my life.

8. Swimming in water that isn't clear freaks me out. I mean really freak out.

9. In high school I won state competitions for acting including Shakespearean Comedy.

10. Most of my "telephone" friends know that I have a code words ready so that if I am in trouble and cannot say so they will hear my code words and call the police!

11. In the 70's my dad gave me the nickname "Doobie". For us it meant "do-be good, and don't be bad". It wasn't until many years later that I realized it had another, more widely known meaning. We were so naive! (Which leads me to #12)

12. I have NEVER smoked anything or done any kind of drug. Ever.

13. I used to be a regular guest on HSN, selling scrapbooking stuff.

14. When I went through chef's training I was too short to reach the back of the grill so the chef made me stand on a stool to reach it and said I was the only one that ever had to use a stool!

15. My acting partner in college drama class was Brian Warner (AKA: Marilyn Manson) and I used to go to his concerts in Fort Lauderdale when he was Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids.

16. I once walked in on a burgler who had just broken into my parent's house.

17. I love anything tomato based...tomato soup, catsup, spaghetti sauce...but I CANNOT eat a raw tomato.

18. I am extremely directionally challenged. Cannot read maps. Do not know N-S-E-W. Get lost coming home sometimes. I am a 100% landmark kind-of girl.

19. I have never learned how to drive a stick shift.

20. I used to live in a haunted house.

21. I met Randy Travis when I and a couple friends snuck backstage at one of his concerts by pretending to be with a local DJ.

22. My dream is to own a "canned ham" and travel around in it.

23. I was physically punched, slapped, kicked, threatened and beat up regularly when I attended my one and only year of public middle school.

24. My favorite car that I've ever owned was a 1970-something, baby blue, Oldsmobile Delta 88! LOVED it!

25. I think that I could easily be swayed to adopt a "survivalist" mentality and lifestyle. Emergency preparedness, survival and self-reliance kind-of stuff.

Monday, November 23, 2009

VOTE for my doggies!

Please follow the links below and cast your votes for Ginger and Kiwi!

Ginger Peck | A Dog Named Christmas

Ginger Peck | A Dog Named Christmas

Posted using ShareThis

Kiwi Peck | A Dog Named Christmas

Kiwi Peck | A Dog Named Christmas

Posted using ShareThis

Today I am thankful...

I have been participating in a FB challenge since early November where you list everyday until Thanksgiving something you are thankful for. Well, I didn't list the generic stuff like "family", "friends", "health", etc. I also didn't go all organized on it and make a list from least to most thankful items. I approached it the "Jen Way" and whatever struck me that day is what I listed as my thankful item. So, for instance, if I was eating a particularly good peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that day I was thankful for the peanut butter & jelly combo. This is not to say that I am not thankful for the traditional stuff on the list, I really am, but this was far more fun for me. Here are the postings from the 9th until today.

Today I am thankful for sliced cheddar cheese with maple syrup on pancake mornings.

Today I am thankful for Yankee Candles. They are simply the BEST smelling candles out there and when you add in their new scratch & sniff catalog and the fact that when lit, their big jar adds the warmth of one person's body heat to a room I am hooked. Now to decide what holiday scent to order this year....

Today I am thankful for the 1,200 mile commute to work! I love working for The Doodle and I love it more that they are willing to allow me to do my little part all the way from PA and to bring me back to FL once in awhile.

Today I am thankful for Bonefish Grill's new "seasonal" cocktail-Winter White Cosmopolitan. In fact, I am thankful for all cool and unique cocktails. Tonight's was made with cranberry vodka, Cointreau, white cranberry juice and a splash of lime! Super yummy!

Today I am thankful for laughter. The laughter of good friends sharing a witty retort, a funny memory or just plain being silly after a few cocktails. I had the greatest table mates at the MS crop this weekend-thanks for all the chuckles and few snorts!

Today I am thankful for the beautiful Florida landscape. We drove along the Florida Cracker trail and saw scrub pine trees, palmettos, old Florida style houses, palm trees, wild pigs and so much more. Then when we got to downtown St. Pete there was the marina, the tall buildings and the nightlife. I love this area and great to see it all again!

Today I am thankful for exotic flavors and spices. I especially love curry and that was a main seasoning in my pumpkin bisque this afternoon. I love almost all Indian food, so tonight's supper was perfect. Then that Mediterranean sea salt caramel gelato....holey moley! All I can say is today was a yummy day!

Today I am thankful for friends with extra luggage. On the Florida visit I have to pack within the luggage weight limits so I have zero extra room. SO, I went Doodle shopping and then won 5 (FIVE!!!) raffle prizes that I had to bring home. Was cheaper to pay the extra luggage than to ship, so thanks to Dianne who sent me home with "Stumpy the one-legged-suitcase"!

Today I am thankful for animal companions. There are too many reasons to list here, so I'll just share one from this morning. This morning I woke up with Ginger sleeping up against my back, Kiwi on the pillow next to my head, Luna on my pillow, Minnie Mae at the foot of the bed and Elphaba on my legs. The fireplace brings them all to the room, but it's nice to wake up with all those warm and snugly bodies!

Today I am thankful for the power of positive thinking. I know it's cornball, but it works for me. I love being able to "think" myself happy. We all have our moments, but you can really tell the people who dwell in negativity. Give me powerfully positive people any day! Last night I was able to diffuse a sticky situation with worked!

Today I am thankful for CHARLES! He'll eat what I cook. He'll go with me on any adventure or create his own. He is smart, kind, funny, fair minded and socially aware. He's a democrat. He went vegetarian with me. He loves for me to be happy at what I choose to do. He adores all animals. He is tidy and will wipe ...the toilet down after a visit. He loves me and I thank my lucky stars every day for that!

Today I am thankful for socks. I'm a southern girl who likes her feet bare! I am used to wearing socks for fun under slacks, but now I LIVE in socks. Every moment of every day there are warm things on my tootsies. But for me, if I'm gonna wear them I think like Nathan Lane in The Birdcage-"One does want a hint of color." I LOVE crazy, funky, goofy and bright socks.

Today I am thankful for 3 OTC meds: Excedrin (thanks Stace for turning me on to this years ago), Alka Seltzer Cold & Flu fizzies (thanks Shirley for telling me about this wonder) and Airborn. For me AB is simply the best! I used to get a BAD cold every time one went around, but since taking AB every morning, not one in a long time, or very mild.

Today I am thankful for 4 souls that I've been blessed to know on this earth. Craig-my long distance BFF and the sweetest, kindest, do-anything-for-you-guy I know. Azriel-my beloved cat that is waiting for me on the Rainbow Bridge, my TRUE familiar. Great Aunt Ada-funny, great advice giver, warm & welcoming, tough 'ole broad. Loved her to pieces. My Dad-there aren't enough words, but I miss him every day of my life.

There are a few days until Thanksgiving and the end of the FB challenge. I think it is pretty easy for me to say that with this "I'm thankful for" thing I could just go on and on. And for THAT I am truly thankful!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas Card Class in PA

If you live in the Mansfield area of Pennsylvania (or thereabouts) and would like to learn some fun and very useable paper crafting techniques then please check out my upcoming class!

Christmas Card Camp

Thursday, December 3rd
Sunday, December 6th

Fee: $30

In this class you’ll be making eight different seasonal cards that range from traditional to unique. You can either use these cards for eight very special people on your Christmas card list or pick your favorite(s) to reproduce en mass. These cards are made to teach you eight different card layouts that are very easy to duplicate. I'll even include a “recipe” for each card with cutting guides and tips! Most of the materials are pre-cut before you arrive, so creating these cards are quick, easy and so fun!

If you have not met me yet or are not familiar with my crafting background, please feel free to click on over to my bio page on the Whim So Doodle website.

Please email me if you need more information or would like to register for either class date at:

(Note: Cards in the photo are examples only and do not represent the EXACT cards we will be making in class. They are cards from Christmas Card Camps past...)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pumpkin Bisque

This is a request. Here you go, with the normal disclaimer that I always have.

If I create a recipe I do not write it down. It remains in my head until someone asks for it. So the measurements are just "to taste" or "thereabouts". Just keep adding them in small amounts until you get it seasoned the way you like it. Okay? Okay!

Pumpkin Bisque

1 bag of frozen, chopped onions (or cut one up yourself!)
2 tablespooons butter (or Smart Balance) (more later on)
1 good drizzle olive oil
30 oz. pumpkin puree
1 carton veggie broth
2 tablespons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon Pepper
2 tablespoons Curry powder
4 tablespoons Honey
1 tablespoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Hot Sauce (if you like it!)
1/2 cup Heavy whipping cream (no crying here, just use it!)

Toss the onions into a stock pot, add the butter and olive oil. Cook until tender or tender and browned a bit.
Add in the pumpkin and veggie broth.
Add in all the seasonings until you like it. I LOVE curry, so in mine I usually add about 3-4 tablespoons, but add this at your taste. I also love it a little spicy, so add hot sauce to your taste.
Lastly, once you have it all seasoned, then add in your cream. Add it until it gets to a bisque-ey color. You really do not have to add a ton if you are "watching it". Just keep adding until you are happy.
I usually keep the pantry stocked with those veggie broth containers, so if the soup is a bit too thick for you, you can thin it out with more stock. Of if you are feeding a crowd, you can thin it out more for lots of people.


Two months...two crops

When I was just down in Florida, lots of people were telling me that they've been waiting for Spooktacular photos. OK, I know I've been slacking off in getting them posted, so now I'll share photos and junk from both crops I flew down for.

These photos are from the Spooktacular Crop that The Doodle puts on every year and I get to organize it all. It is a two-day crop that starts on Friday with a Mocktail Hour and Appetizers. We bring in the Blood Mobile on Saturday for anyone to donate..they vant to suck your blood! (That just cracks me up every year!) We have Molly the Massuse come on Saturday to do massages. I feed everyone and of course, there are games to play. I couldn't host a crop without a game or two. I am glad that everyone is a good sport and humors me on the game-playing thing!

Barbra wins something really great. I think it was some Vera Bradley stuff.

The remains of the balloon relay game. At first croppers didn't want to play, but they don't know how pushy I am when it comes to playing games. Afterwards they were all happy that they played!

Kathy gives Miss Barbara a ride around the shop.

Homemade caramel/vanilla apples.

Of course, being away from The Doodle so long there was tons of new products that I HAD TO HAVE! Thanks to Jo for shipping all this home to me.

Ginni thinking hard. Was that Psycho or The Birds? Hummmm...

Leisa made us cupcakes for the event. They were these supremely delicious chocolate cherry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. We added the QK spiderwebs for effect. Creepy!!!

I modified a green colored cocktail and made it red and called it "Edward's Sweet Kiss". Oh! I am Team Edward all the way!

Dianne found some vintage BINGO cards at one of my favorite vintage stores in Ybor, La France. She brought some to work on and even shared the cards with everyone there! What a cool cropper!

Natasha and Karen win a mixer style get-to-know-you game. It was fun! (At least I thought so!)

All the stuff we put together for each cropper. Name place cards, cups, goody bag and more.

Food for the "mocktail hour" on Friday night.

Pam sitting in her cozy little crop space.

Karen and Barbra working on a Halloween trivia game.

These photos are from the MS Crop 4 Hope. It is a charity crop that is hosted by Jackie and Miami Dawn. They have had a crop in the same location since 1999 (I think thats correct?) For the past 4 years Jackie has used this venue to raise money for the MS Society. I believe that each year she has been very successful at this. For the past two years Whim So Doodle has packed up product and displays and set up a mini store on-site. It is a very fun crop and this year a bunch of Doodlers came(employess and customers).

We rented a Uhaul this year to transport the store displays and merchandise. Poor SisterDear had to sit on the tiny jump seat in the middle. But it was a great drive over to Sebring. We drove along the Florida Cracker Trail and got to see lots of the Florida landscape that I have been missing like palmettos, scrub pines, wild pigs, etc.

Part of our little group from The Doodle.

Our hosts for the weekend, Jackie and John Durning.

Dianne mixing drinks for the Happy Hour she and Kim hosted on the lanai of their cottage. Note the cocktail "shaker" was a coffee carafe! Too funny!

Cheers! Beer and wine for me and Stace.

Kim's work space. She was always working on something cute. In fact, when other croppers would walk by I would see them stop and admire what she was working on.

Thanks to Barbara for taking a fun pic of me! This was taken on the steps as all 100 or more of us lined up for the group photo.

Dianne's crop tote full of one-point treats!

Barbara was "hell on wheels" in her rolling chair! She nudged a pile of Stacey's stuff and it went flying!

Miss Dianne doing the make-n-take where we let everyone make a cute little charm using UTEE. It is a very popular technique.

Little turkeys that Diane K. was making. She was actually making around 30, but we pesty folks kept circling her and she gave us one so we could copy it. Isn't it just too stinkin' cute? It's a little chocolate bar as the body.

SisterDear with her name tag. It is so funny that everyone calls her "SisterDear"!

Dee Dee, Kim and Dianne were not feeling the love since they didn't win any raffle prizes! I wasn't familiar with their loser-ey feeling since I won FIVE raffles!

A sight you hardly ever working on personal stuff! I got to really spend some time updating my journaling from P365.

Now if you made it all the way to the end and are paying the blog for a crop announcement up this way. I am trying to put together a low-key crop and will announce when I have it all in place. Just keep watching! Oh! And if you are interested in coming, let me know what you do and don't want me to have/do/include. Thanks!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

P365 photo update

I am very excited to be headed back down to Florida next week to the MS Crop 4 Hope. This is a weekend long event that Whim So Doodle happily gets to be the on-site store for. Dianne, Stacey and I are running the store in between cropping, so I really don't want to go crazy on bringing too much cropping gear/supplies. So I am gonna bring all my P365 pages and try to get totally caught up. Nice goal since the end of 2009 is in sight and we have started talking about our P365 for 2010! I love doing this project and it has helped me take better photos, take more photos and learned how to make the mundane subject look interesting! Here are a few of my latest P365 photos.

The banner at the new church fellowship that Charles and I are going to.

This great little piece I had Linda from Bearly Enough on Main Street make for me using my favorite quote.

The girls get new sweaters!

Wonderful pottery we purchased from one of the UU congregent's art show-Colleen McCall.

Jo made me brownies to welcome me back to The Doodle. I just LOVE Jo!! She is the most thoughful person I have ever met.

Luna sleeps on Charles' head. So cute!! The barn kitty is tamed...

Shopping at Sam's for snow tires! PA drivers beware...I'll be snow-driving all to soon!

Cheers! Girl's Night Out in St. Petersburg with Dianne (Cosmo), Kim (Margarita) and me (the Mojito).

Trick or treaters on Main Street! I'm excited to say that we had about 100 kids come by for candy! I was in Halloween heaven!

Coffee from Starbucks. Love that! Sitting with Sisterdear and chatting. Love that. Big, giant bookstore. Love that! Meeting up with Lydia and Rebecca. Love that!

Some of the cut pieces of wood from one of the houses that Charles has designed for Woodhouse. In fact, this is for Pat, the owner's new home.

Beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, FL. Right on the waterfront, in the early morning light, saying "'bye" before heading back to PA.

The little stream that runs through our property. It is more easily seen now that all the greenery is gone.

Charles with his belated birthday gift of a walking stick to use on his evening hikes. May be used to ward off bears!

Charles and me hiking on the trails of PA's Grand Canyon. Very steep, very narrow in spots and although supremely beautiful, to me, kind-of scary!