Baking Feed

Comfort Food | Baking

Hello lovlies :-)

I haven't posted about baking in a while, since, quite frankly, I haven't done much of it lately.  I baked some cookies for Christmas, but in all honesty, I haven't felt compelled to bake.  Odd, amiright?!  I feel like I dont know me anymore.

Well, last night it snowed, meaning my plans to meet up with friends for happy hour got cancelled, so I thought to myself, "Self.  I think you should maybe use some of the entire banana tree's worth of frozen bananas you have in the freezer."  Now that I think about that, it's kinda sad that I ended up substituting Captain Morgan for baking banana bread.  There is something very, very wrong with this.  Pardon me while I go fix myself a drink....

Ok.  I'm back.  

I've actually been thinking about banana bread ever since I saw a gluten-free recipe posted at King Arthur Flour's website.  

I love KAF.  So much, I took a class there this summer.  I love them even more now.  The baker who developed the recipe I used last night was one of the instructors I had for the class I took.  

The baking started off with these ---

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Fun fact: flax meal can be used as an egg replacer.  Mix with water, let it come to a paste, and viola!  Egg replacer!  Full instructions on how to do this are on the back of the flaxmeal box I got from KAF, and I'm sure they're also on the interwebs somewhere, too.

Ok.  So.  Flax meal plus gluten-free all-purpose flour and a bunch of other ingredients, most importantly those frozen bananas that have been hoarding space on my freezer door (and i still have i don't know how many more....ugh....), becomes the most DE.LI.CIOUS batter I've tasted in years. 

No.  I'm serious.  Do you know how godawful most gluten-free batters taste???  It's nothing short of a miracle that what ends up coming out of the oven is in any way palatable.

Moving on.

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 Gah.  Seriously.  This batter is insanely delicious.  I was licking the bowl.  Embarrasingly enough...that's not a joke....

Ahem.

For all you gluten-free bakers out there, the pan I used for this bread is not your regular run-of-the-mill 9x5 in loaf pan.  If you've made gluten-free quick breads before, you know they don't behave like those gluten-filled ones.  This pan was a Christmas gift, and is made by my favorite people, KAF, and is slightly shorter in length which allows the bread to rise higher and keep its form.

Mkay.  So, that bad boy went into the oven for about 55 min...and came out looking like this --

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Holy hell.  Might be the most moist gluten-free banana bread I've ever made.  Ever.  See those white specks? Unsweetened coconut, my friends.  Unsweetened coconut.

Now, have you ever had this?

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As many people can attest, I loathe hazelnut.  The thought of it kinda makes me wanna vom.  Hazelnut coffee?!  Gag me with a fork.  Yet, for some reason, I was compelled to taste nutella one day (i blame the packaging - it looks so inviting, and it says there's cocoa in it...), and I would swear to you there's a secret ingredient not listed on the nutrition panel, that just makes it so friggin addictive you can't.stop.eating.  I contend it's either crack cocaine or black tar heroin.

Anyone else agree?  No?  No one??  (sigh....)

Moving on, then....

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I took the crack-filled hazelnut-cocoa spread....I mean.....nutella....and spread it over a particularly thick piece of bread, so thick I really did need that fork.....

....and inhaled it.  So.damn.good.

Wipe off the drool from your keyboard.  It really is THAT good....but let's not make a mess at our computers.

Want the recipe?!  Of course you do!!!  This is the link for the recipe over at KAF's website.  I substituted coconut oil for the vegetable oil, and used dark brown sugar, but other than that, I made no alterations.  

Friggin amazeballs.  Thank you, Amy!!  This is DEFINITELY going to be the only gluten-free banana bread I make from now on!!!!

Alright bakers...what will you be baking this weekend???

Sig

 


A book signing (no, not mine...) | Baking

Hello all you loverly people!  I just wanted to do a quick little post about a book signing I went to this past  Sunday.

For those of you who are unaware, I LOVE to bake.  Love it.  I can't eat most of what I make, however, because I have to eat gluten-free, but I love to bake for everyone else.  I get just as much joy from watching everyone enjoy what I make as they do eating the fruits of my labor.

One of my favorite things to bake?  Christmas cookies.  And btdubs, that time of year is RAPIDLY approaching.

One of my good friends at work, and a baking buddy, introduced me to this fabulous thing called a cake ball.  Holy sweet jeebus are these concoctions DEEEELISH.

Well guess what.  I met Ms. Cake Pop herself, Bakerella.  She came to Williams & Sonoma in King of Prussia on Sunday to sign her new book, Cake Pops Holidays.  

 

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Bakerella's new fabulous book!!!!

 


Now, I'm new to this cake ball/pop scene, but these designs look aaaadorbs, and I definitely have to try some for foodie gifts this Christmas (gift spoiler alert!  haha!)

Here's me with Bakerella ~~

 

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Bakerella & me!

She was SO gracious and kind and sweet.  I absolutely loved her.  I hope to make her proud with the desgins I choose this to make in about a month!!  She's amazingly creative, and to do what she does with cake balls?  Crazysauce.

After her signing (she sat with each and every person, signed their book, and chatted for a few minutes with everyone.  Seriously.  SO SWEET.)

Then, she did a Q&A ~~

 

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Bakerella giving tips for decorating the cake pops

 


It was a fabulous Sunday in King of Prussia :-)

THANK YOU, Bakerella, for coming to Williams & Sonoma here in the Philly area!!!  It was so, so wonderful to meet you!

 


Preserving

So...I have a new obsession.  I know, right.  Like I need another freaking obsession.

Preserving.  I'm hooked.

I'm sick of paying astronomical prices in the winter for produce, so I'm bound and determined to figure out this whole thing called "canning".  This past weekend, I think I got the knack.

What do you do with end of season beyond ripe strawberries that you know will go bad because you can't eat them fast enough?

Why, you boil them in their own natural juices, with a smidge of coconut palm sugar.....

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And you make strawberry jam...


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Hoooooo boy this batch of jam is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.

Oh, and yes, you read that right - the only two ingredients in this jam are strawberries and coconut palm sugar.  It is out-of-this-world delicious.  

Home preserving is making a comeback (and I found canning recipes in my great-aunt's Betty Crocker cookbook from the early 50's...you better believe I'm trying them out in the very near future....), and I plan on making a retro styled apron to complete the scene.

Right now, I have to go get my Cricut & make labels for these jars....

Until next time my friends...go forth and bake something yummy ;-)

Much love ~~~
Sig

PS - don't forget to enter my giveaway!  Head to the original post or to my facebook page & leave a comment to win!! :-)


It feels a little fall-ish

Yesterday it really started to feel like fall here in the Philly area.  The air was crisp, but the sun was still beating warm rays through the big, puffy white clouds.

So what happens at my house when it begins to feel like fall?

I make gluten-free spice bread....

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I brew a pot of coffee...

 

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ohhh my this looks scrumptrulescent....

 

And I get to stitching.....

 

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pattern by Blue Ribbon Designs

 

I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't wait for my first mug of mulled cider...

Until then...go forth and be crafty....or bake something yummy ;-)

Much love ~~~

Sig

PS - don't forget to enter my giveaway! Head to the original post & leave a comment there to win!!  :-)

 


My King Arthur Flour Weekend!

PEEPS!!!  Hello!!!!  I just got back from an amazing roadtrip!!
This past Thursday, me and my Philly girl attitude headed up to Vermont to the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center and took a gluten-free baking class!!!!  For those of you unfamiliar with King Arthur Flour, check your grocery store - their high-quality products can be found on their shelves!
Ok, so, how did I end up 7 hours away for a baking class when the culinary institute is right here in Philly?  Well, I figured, who better to teach me about how gluten-free flours behave in baking than flour people! Amiright???  
Besides.  It's King Arthur Flour.  And it's an opportunity for a road trip to a state I haven't been to yet.
And...I got to stay at the Butternut Lane Bed & Breakfast.  For any of you who follow me on Instagram, you saw all the pics I posted from this weekend which involved the absolutely phenomenal breadfasts I had all weekend.  OMG.  To.die.for.
Case in point.
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An omelette, gluten-free toast, & bacon from a local farm.  Holy delicious.
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Gluten-free toast, gluten-free chicken sausage, and an egg souffle with goat cheese & onions.  Amen.
Ok.  Mop up the drool.  These pics do the breakfasts no justice, btdubs.  I tried so hard to eat slow & savor every morsel.  Ohsogood.
Best part?  The owners are a couple who lived in the Philly area for 30+ years, & the husband, George, is a descendant of the original owners/builders of the house!  The house was built in 1820, & expanded on in 1860.  Awesomesauce.  The house had the original WORKING doorbell.  You know, the kind with the wire that runs all the way over the wall & rings a little actual bell????  THAT KIND.  I'm not sure even the old houses in Old City (Philly) have any of them in working condition!!! 
Seriously.  If you go to VT in that area, stay at that b&b.  You will NOT be disappointed.  Check out the link so you can see the pics of the house.  So awesome.  Oh - and I forgot - Carol, George's wife, emailed me my confirmation when I reserved the room so long ago, and asked if I had any dietary restrictions so they could accommodate (OK!), so I told her I was gluten-free.  And poof - all these gluten-free goodies at breakfast.  They are amazing people and you need to stay there.
Now.  The actual purpose of my trip.  Although, staying at that b&b could have been the purpose of my trip.  For serious.
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This is baker heaven, my friends.  I love to bake, although I haven't had much time for it lately (plus, it's been too friggin hot to want to turn the oven on), but I do love it.  I will not be sharing the recipes we tested at the baking education center during class, since their recipes are not posted anywhere, including their website, so I'm honoring their copyright, if you will.
However, this pic, which I also posted to Instagram, is the fruits of our labor - 
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Imma tell you something about those pumpkin muffins.  Holy Mother of God.  I will not be able to make these and keep more than 3 in the house.  If I don't give most of them away, I will eat the ENTIRE batch.  They are SO.FRIGGIN.GOOD.  Now, I've been trying to be grain-free these days, too (like I need to be "free" of something else, but grains tend to be inflammatory for us auto-immune sufferers), but I've been treating myself to pieces of this ah-may-zing sandwich bread we made.  It's hearty.  It's yeasty.  It's delish.  YUM.  Ohsodelish with peanut butter slopped on top.  (peanut butter is my biggest weakness, btw.  before sugar.  the entire jar has gone missing in mere days & i've blamed ghosts b/c i don't want to believe i polished it off myself. plus, poultergeists get hungry, too. you've seen ghostbusters. slimer eats all that food off the room service tray. love that movie.)
I really don't know what else to say here, other than I had a great time learning a few new tricks about gluten-free baking!  I would definitely go back there, even if it's not a gluten-free class; there are baking tips that are universal, and I'm always open to baking do's & don't's!  If you ever have the opportunity to take a class there, DO IT.  Their store is also fantastic - just walking through the store was worth the trip.  
I have to run - but I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!!
Go forth & be crafty.....or BAKE ;-)
Much love ~~~
J :-)

Just one more thing for the shower stuffs

Hello everyone!!!  I'm so sorry I've fallen off the face of the earth there for a few weeks.  I have been reveling in all my new-found stitching time since I'm not busy making all the shower stuff, and I'm also on a bit of a time crunch.  I need to get my big project totally stitched and framed in a short amount of time, so I seriously have a smokin' needle right now.
But, as promised a few days ago (or maybe a week.  i'm seriously losing tons of hours and days recently), today I'm posting a pic of the cake that my extremely talented friend, Angela, made for my sister's work shower.  For those of you who don't know, my sister and I work in the same office.  A family affair, if you will.
Anyhooter.  Last week, my sister's team threw her and her fiance a shower....or a pre-wedding party as I think Erin called it so that more men would attend, since apparently "real" men don't attend showers.  Whatever.
Angela, who is currently working off-site at a different location for a rotation, came home over the weekend prior to the pre-wedding party to bake this glorious cake for my sis.
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Um.  GORGGGGGGEOUSSSSSSSS.  Angela.  You totally outdid yourself again.  Absolutely beautiful.
As you're all aware by now, my sis's colors are grey & yellow.  So, Angela used fondant (Courtney!  This has your name written all over it!) to cover the layers, and then took ribbon (yes, actual ribbon) and wrapped the cake with it.  Like a present.  A wedding present.  Just beautiful.
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Honestly.  Look at this.  Stunning.
Thank you, Angela, for letting me share the pics of your beautiful cake!!  I cannot wait until you're back in our office and we can talk baking!!  I miss my baking buddy!  
(For those of you who may have missed it, Angela made a cake for Erin's baby shower, which is equally as stunning.  Click the link and check it out!)
That's all for today, folks.  I hope to have something stitching related posted later this week.  I'm working on "Halloween Eve" by Blackbird Desings, and it's coming out rather nicely. 
I hope you have a fantastically creative day!!!
Much love ~~~~
J :-)

The Great Pumpkin Cupcake

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Gracious.

These cupcakes are freaking DE.LI.CIOUS.  I would definitely stay up all night in a pumpkin patch hoping that The Great Pumpkin would bring one of these cupcakes instead of candy on Halloween.  But that's just me.

I LOVE pumpkin, and even though I'm not particularly fond of the weather getting cooler, I love the spices and comfort foods that come with the crisp air, falling leaves, and those cooler temps.  

Pumpkin absolutely, 100%, without-a-doubt, falls into that category.  There's just something about nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves that send my heart all a-flutter.  That and Nathan Fillion.  He is handsome and just plain adorable, and should be cloned and made mine.  

I'm sorry.  Where was I???  Right.  Pumpkin cupcakes. 

Add pumpkin cream cheese icing, and it's all over.  Oh, yes.  PUMPKIN cream cheese icing.

I am slightly ashamed to admit that I ate three of these when they came out of the oven.  Three.  Two went down so fast, I could barely control it.  They didn't even have any icing on them.  The third did.  And it was good.  Really good.  Really REALLY good. And then the baker rested.  

But not until she shared this fanfreakingtastic recipe with all of you.

These are gluten-free and sugar-free, but I'm telling you, you would never know it.  Ever.  Now, I'm not as adept (yet) at making icing sugar-free, so that definitely has sugar in it.  But, these cupcakes are so delicious, you don't even need the icing.  In fact, throw the batter into a loaf pan and you've got yourself some pumpkin bread!  PS - I've done that with this recipe, and it's amazing.  

Anyway.  Without further ado....the recipe:

Gluten-free, Sugar-free Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Amy's High-Protein Flour Blend, but Bob's Red Mill works just as well) 
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 16-oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix) Note:  save about 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin for the cream cheese icing, if desired

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners.  Mix agave nectar, coconut oil, eggs, and pumpkin in mixer on medium-high speed until blended.  In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients, and gently fold into wet mixture.  Spoon batter into lined muffin cups.  Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons (one stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin you saved from meeting its demise in the cupcake batter

Directions:
Whip cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add vanilla extract.  Add pumpkin, blending until incorporated.  In a separate bowl, combine powdered sugar with your favorite fall spices.  I added cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.  You can add all, some, or none of the spices to your icing.  Totally up to you!  Slowly add powdered sugar mixture to cream cheese/butter mixture until just blended.  

Spread this fantabulous whipped icing all over those pumpkin cupcakes and shove one into your mouth.  Eat another one so you can actually taste it and enjoy it.   Then have another.

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Don't they look amazing????

Now.  Go forth, and make yourself some so I'm not the only one inhaling pumpkin cupcakes faster than I can blink.

:-)


Yes, the timestamp on this post is correct.

What am I doing up at this ungodly hour, you ask?  Well, I just got done a marathon baking session and putting the finishing touches on decorations and gift wrap for the bridal shower at work tomorrow.

I made a bangin' pumpkin cake that quite literally looks like a pumpkin.  It's an awesome, AWESOME recipe to go with this spiffy pan from Nordicware.  I love making this cake, especially because it's so festive and fun.  I used pumpkin cream cheese icing in the middle, which is just.delicious.

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Oh.yum.  To.die.for.

I also made maple sugar fall cakelettes that are in the shape of acorns, pumpkins, pinecones, and walnuts.  They're super cute, but take foreverandaday to sandwich together with icing.  Especially when the icing is maple syrup cream cheese icing while, although DELISH, is a bit gooey and runny thanks to the maple syrup.  So, I sandwiched those bad boys and put them directly into the fridge so they solidify a little bit before I bring them into the office tomorrow.

While the last batch of the little cakelettes was baking, I ran up to my craft room to finish making the little banners I made to decorate the conference room.  Using my Cricut and the Tie the Knot cartridge, I cut out each individual letter and its shadow to create this --

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Cute, right?!  I glued each individual letter to twine, so I can hang these up in the conference room and add some bright colors to our drab walls for the festivities.

Also while I was up there, I decorated a pillow box I got from Paper Source for the gift card we got as part of the gift.  This is always fun to do, since you can dress up the box however you want to make it one of a kind.  I got out a flower stamp, my Versamark watermark stamp pad (which I won at the grand opening at Walnut Street!!), and some plum embossing powder.  This is the magic that embossing powder brings to your stamped creations.  

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I hope you can see the stamped awesomeness on this pillow box.  I have a slight love affair with embossing powder, I won't lie.  It's so much fun and SO easy to add dimension to your work.  The pink and black ribbon is part of Danielle's theme, and even though the pinks don't quite match perfectly (which is driving me only slightly crazy, since when I got the embossing powder I would have sworn it would match perfectly with the ribbon I alread had at home...but I digress...), I think this little box came out quite cute :-)

Next up:  the gift basket.  I decided wrapping the gifts was too much, and since we're all busy at work right now, I didn't want to keep people away from their desks too long, even though we're having this lil' soiree at lunchtime.  So, I got two baskets (50% off, of course) at Michaels, and put everything inside the baskets.  No frills, no fluff, just the gifts.  I did want to dress up the basket just a smidge, so this is what I decided to do:

IMG_3605I took the wide pink ribbon and wrapped it all the way around the basket, then did the same with the black ribbon.  Then, I took the "U" I cut the other night (also from the Cricut Tie the Knot cartridge) and adhered it to the ribbon on the front of the basket.  Such a simple fix so you don't have to wrap the gifts!  And, she now has storage baskets!  Woot!  I have another basket, but I didn't do anything quite as fancy as this ribbon-wrapping since 130a was rapidly approaching, so I just took this tag I made the other night, and hung it from the handle of the basket with twine.  Very simple, yet adds a splash of color, thanks to the bright pink.  I did add a little something to two of the gifts in the basket....I bought spaghetti sauce from Williams and Sonoma, and decided that they both needed just a little something.  Nothing else in the basket needed anything, but these jars definitely did.  

So, I took fabric, cut a circle, and used it as a jar topper.  Then, I took black ribbon and wrapped it around the top to look like a band.  

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Voila!  A simple fix to a boring jar!

Alright peeps.  That's all I have for this ridiculous hour of the morning.  I hope you have a fantastic hump day, and that you can take time to do something creative today! 

 


Weekends just go way too fast.

Well, at least during this time of year.  It's just an insane time of year at work, and it always seems that Monday morning comes a lot quicker than it should.  

I went into work yesterday (yes, yesterday as in Sunday.....), only to find that my computer was acting all crazy.  Good times, right?  Story of my life, actually.  Especially at work.  I've already had one hard drive explode, why not have my new laptop combust as well?  I waited about a half hour after trying various things to get it to work, and since it was having none of that, I picked up my stuff and headed out.  I guess it was a little sign that I didn't actually have to go in yesterday, that I'll be able to finish all of my stuff with plenty of time to spare.  We'll see if that's actually true when next Friday rolls around...

Anyhooter.  Yesterday was an unexpected day to do stuff around the house, since I'd planned on being at work most of the day, so I started getting ready for Wednesday.  What's Wednesday, you ask?  Oh, only the little bridal shower I planned for one of my friends at work who's getting married next month.  Since my mixer is being a pain in the ass again (for those of you who are unaware of my mixer plight -- it now suddenly has 2 speeds:  off and warp.), I had to find recipes that did not require anything other than a good ol' whisk.  So, I got out my Magnolia baking book (if you don't have this book, you HAVE TO GET IT and the earlier one Alyssa wrote.  I have yet to make a bad recipe from this book, and her recipe for Red Velvet Cake is INSANE and PERFECT.), and made the trusty recipe for Hello Dolly! bars.  They're scrumptrulescent (bonus points for the follower who can tell me where that word originated...), and you all must make them.  I'm telling you -- these bars are to.die.for.  The men in my office eat these bars by the fist-full.  Next time I'm getting gluten-free graham cracker crumbs to make these so I can have them, and not just eat a spoonful of chocolate chips sprinkled with coconut.  I mean....whoops.....

So, I made the Hello Dolly! bars, and set them aside to cool, while doing laundry (I think I got lost in the piles for a solid half hour before finding my way back across the laundry room) and straightening up the kitchen.  Then, I went to mass like a good little Catholic girl, came home, and went straight up to my third floor to do some cardmaking.  A bridal shower has to have cards!  I've been gathering quite the stash of wedding crafty stuff, since my sister's wedding is also approaching, and I'll be making stuff for her, too.  So, I pulled everything out, and went to work.  The first one I made has an a-dorable stamped bride and groom:

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I added flowers to the bottom corner with some shiny brads, and stamped the word "bliss" using typeface alphabet stamps, cut each one out, and glued them to the card.  I think it came out super cute.  Not over the top with too much going on, but just right :-)

The second one was even easier than the first, since I'd finally fallen into my card-making groove:

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Adorable, right!  I don't know why, but the flourish stamp I put on the envelope came out blurry.  I put that on both envelopes to be a pretty little addition to a cutie card! 

On the inside of both cards, I put a very simple sentiment:

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I hope Danielle likes them! :-)

I also spent some time at my sewing machine this weekend.  Actually, I spent the bulk of the Phillies CLINCHING GAME at the sewing machine, with Franski and LA announcing all the greatness happening at Citizens Bank!!  Anyways.........

What did I sew?  Well, some of you may remember this cover I made myself for my nook.  Well, one of my friends recently got herself a nook color, so I asked her if she wanted me to make her a cover.  She said she'd love one, so I told her I would surprise her with the pattern and make her a cover.  

This is a sneak peek of the cover I made for her --

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Sorry Phils Phans...that's all you get to see for now.  She reads my blog, so I can't give away too much before she gets her pretty cover :-)  (side note, though:  I'm pretty daggone proud of myself for getting those blocks to match up!  Go me!)

That's all I have for today, folks.  Make today a fabulous fall day and do something creative!  Make some mulled cider and sit out back under a blanket and take in the crisp fall air!  I know I will be doing just that.....at CBP to see my Phils crush the Cards!!  Playoffs are almost here!!  Woohoo!!!!