tea for two (or four...)

Well hello, everyone! 
It's blog hop time once again, if you can believe it. Time certainly does fly. You might remember our blog-hopping crew from our last endeavor back in December when we brought you lots of delicious recipes and crafty ideas
Well, here we are again, this time with lots of ways to celebrate that lovely February holiday- Valentine's day. 
I am focusing on celebrating the ever important relationship in your life- your friendships. So pull up a seat and get ready for a hop full of ideas that will help you celebrate the variety of important 
people in your life. 

So, how to celebrate my ever so important girlfriends in a fun and whimsical way? Tea party it is!  I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than with with the ladies I love, gathered around a tea pot with lots of good talks and refills. When thinking about a cute way to dress up the table, I remembered coming across a picture somewhere that showed tea bags with different shaped labels. That memory played around in my mind for awhile and evolved itself into a really simple, yet adorable idea:


tea bags
plain or patterned paper in two colors
letter stickers
heart punches in two sizes(*can also use die cutting machine or cut by hand)
mini- hole puncher

1. punch one large heart and one small heart from papers you chose
2. adhere small heart to larger heart

3. choose first letter of each guests names from letter stickers and adhere on top of both hearts
4. punch small hole in larger heart

5. cut label off top of tea bag

6. loop string from tea bag through mini hole and tie, cutting off excess

7. put in tea cup, with label resting on the handle of tea cup and, voila!

As you can see, it is a super fast and simple way to personalize and dress up your table for your grown up tea party. And as an added bonus, this can easily be adapted for birthday parties, showers or any celebration where you will be serving tea.

Now that you have one idea under your belt, be sure to stop by and check out the creative genius of these lovely ladies:

Happy Valentine's to all of you. May whichever relationships you cherish; be it friendships, significant others, pets, or coworkers, be blessed with lots of love and happiness, not only on Valentine's Day, but each and every day throughout the year :-) 

p.s. sending many happy thoughts your way, Julie! 


so honored & a reminder

Happy Friday, all!
Am I the only one who feels like this Friday is one that took its sweet time to arrive???
Well it is finally here, and it is an exciting one (at least I think so ;-) !) 
Why the excitement? Well, today I am being featured over on the ever so creative and inspiring suzyville as this week's friday fave! Between her quotes of the day and her really cute "things I didn't buy today" posts, I am always entertained by thought provoking ideas and some really good eye candy ;-) 

Be sure to stop over and check it out. And while you're there be sure to check out the link to her etsy shop, she is one talented jewelry maker!

It has been both an honor and a pleasure to contribute :-) 
Thanks again, Suzy! 
...and just a reminder
... the Spread the Love Blog Hop is happening tomorrow at 12:00pm CST (that's 1:00pm for all us east coasters)! Be sure to stop by and see the loved themed ideas we've conjured up to help you celebrate the special ones in your life. 
See you then! 


help for Haiti

One of the things I love most about people is their capacity for compassion. In a world assaulted by so many negative things, when people step up and lend a helping hand to others who need a little help it is both heartwarming and refreshing.
And necessary.

Over at Designer Digitals they have put together a kit which is the collaboration of the work of many talented designers. 100% of the proceeds from the Help Haiti Collaborative kit will be given to MercyCorp to help continue the efforts that are being put forth to help this country in their time of need.

The more I dabble in digital, the more I am enjoying it.
Maybe I will really learn how to use it!
Below is a quick layout I made using the kit and some frames from Carina Gardner that I found at Two Peas.

Hope is a beautiful thing.
It can bring light into the dark times and illuminate a path.
Hope is a powerful thing. 
Encourage it in others whenever you get a chance.
Hope is sometimes all we have.
Hold on to hope, and it can get you through.

Keep praying. Keep hoping. Keep helping in any way you can.

Every small kindness adds up and the sum of all its greatness can never be measured.


martha's fast fajitas

So, I will let you in on a little secret...I am slightly addicted to mexican food. We eat it around here at least once a week. From tacos to enchiladas to today's Melissa & Martha post...fajitas!

This recipe is super easy to prepare and you will be sitting down to eat faster than you can say "Ole!"

 I don't care for meat, so mine was strictly veggies but mmb (my boyfriend) said the chicken was great.
I'll take his word for it. ;-)

If you are looking for something flavorful and fast that you can feel good about eating, then give this recipe a try. The freshness of the ingredients lends a crispness to the meal that leaves you satisfied without that yucky too full feeling.

Add some light sour cream and avocado and you are transported to Mexico in an instant!
(Or so I think anyhow, I haven't been there yet...)

On a side note, have you seen all of the great products that CHA is rolling out this year? MellyPea from Two Peas has some great videos on her blog that you can check out to see what is the latest and greatest in the paper crafting world. I knew I was holding on to those gift cards from Christmas for a reason! Oh how I envy people who live in California right now...

And speaking of craftiness, be sure to stop by on Saturday. Some of my crafty blogging friends and I are up to it again...

..and this time it is love themed, just in time for Valentine's Day!


hey, all you Jane Austen fans!

Just a reminder that the Emma mini-series starts tonight on PBS.
I don't know about you, but I have been excited about this for about a month!

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. I didn't get to any scrapping like I planned, but did have a much needed fun and relaxing weekend with my love.

I also finally got around to making some changes on the blog. What do you think? I drew much of my inspiration from a few of my favorite blogs, so thank you to all of the very creative people out there in the blogosphere who have helped me pull together a page I finally feel "fits" :-) There are more changes coming, but I feel like I have a good foundation.

If you are watching Emma tonight, enjoy it! I know I will :-)


i heart you, friday (& you too, mmb)

Looking forward to spending a lot of time relaxing with this guy...
We are visiting with friends who recently bought their first home, lounging around for the first time in weeks and I will be catching up on scrapbooking.
Sounds like heaven right about now :)

Have a great weekend!


"defining" me

Today was a good day.

We got outside for recess.
I found the most delightful tea cups at Homegoods.
mmb got out of class early.
30 ROCK was hilarious (even if the horrible imitation of a Boston accent made me cringe...).
And, I had the good fortune to discover Natalie's super-inspiring blog. Seriously, this girl is great. Not only does she have some great posts, but her jewelry line on etsy is gorgeous! I am considering committing to a long term relationship with her stunning hair pins!!

Her post today got me thinking about how different things in our lives define us at different times. It is funny how some things are constant, yet some things vary greatly. Here's my take:

Me. On a small scale.


hours spent outside, imagining and playing

The Secret Garden & Little House series

making forts in the woods


reading in trees

making dollhouses

Charlie Brown dictionary


High School:


hanging out with friends

long walks

first love


Dawson's Creek


China P

butterfly hair clips



hard work

first apartment

going dancing

all nighters

dance class

following my dreams




herbal tea


fur babies



picture taker


jane austen


faithful, hopeful

cape cod

fresh flowers






So there is my snippet. How about yours? What "defines" you at different times in your life?
Leave a link if you decide to play along!


PageMaps challenge!

You might remember from a past post that one of my goals for this year was to give some layout challenges a try. I have always wanted to give one a try, but have been a bit intimidated by them.

Well, it is a new year and I'm throwing that intimidation out the window and giving it a shot!
And heck, while I am at it, why not throw another caution to the wind and try the challenge with digital? (um, am I crazy???)

Here is my very first entry into a layout contest, ever! It is for the really awesome site, PageMaps. If you haven't checked them out, you should! They are one of the best sites out there for products and inspiration.


a change of plans

Melissa & Martha Monday is being put on hold for today, but will return next week...I promise!

What is the reason for this delay, you ask?
Well, mmb and I just returned from our weekend trip to Bermuda to participate in a half marathon for the phenomenal organization, Sherry's House.

Our bodies are super-sore, but we (along with mmb's little sister) are very proud of completing all
13.1 miles, and more importantly, being part of a group who collectively raised over $68,000 to help support the day to day lives of children who have cancer and their families.

Please check out this amazing organization and all they do when you have a chance.

We had a fantastic time the entire weekend and I am not sure if my abs hurt more from the running or from the all laughing!  Although the blisters are still fresh, and it takes about 10 times longer to climb the stairs, we are already looking forward to next year's marathon.

The run itself was an inspiring experience. The views are spectacular (though I may be biased because Bermuda is one of my most favorite vacation spots) and they really help keep you going.

Those views, the very friendly island residents who cheered us all along the way, and thinking that any pain I was experiencing was nothing compared to what these children who we are helping are going through are what got me though every step of the way.

It was truly an experience like none other.

When we weren't at race related events or socializing and relaxing with everyone I had a chance to get to practice some photography on this beautiful island. (I even did some digi-scrapping on the plane...will post later this week ;-)!)

And if you ever thought of visiting Bermuda, just go ahead and book it. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth!






happy birthday, best friend!

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear best friend!
Happy birthday to you!

Just wishing my bestie, cheycancook, a happy 30th birthday!
Can't wait to celebrate!! 


making my way out of auto mode...

A little while back I mentioned all of the fantastic classes I signed up for at Big Picture Scrapbooking, one of them being Elisha Snow's Get Out of Auto Mode class. We're getting to know how to use our DSLR's more efficiently and although we have only had one assignment thus far, I feel like I have already learned so much!

My photos from this week's assignment (pre-editing):






I can't wait to see what this week's assignment is!

On another note, how am I ever going to catch up with Design Your Life?? Eek!
I'll find a way ;-) ...


fettuccine with leeks & white beans

Well, here it is people: Melissa & Martha promised!

Tonight I gave Martha's Fettuccine and Leeks with White Beans recipe a shot and boy, oh boy am I glad I did!
Seriously...this recipe is SO good. Even my carnivorous boyfriend gave this deliciously meatless dish 5 stars (and that is a high honor from a man who would eat meatballs for breakfast lunch and dinner if he could...).

I did make a couple of accommodations, like opting for fresh pasta and fresh sage. I also used light cream vs. heavy and cut the amount in half. The beans provided plenty of richness and I prefer a bit of a lighter sauce anyhow.

The combination of the creaminess of the beans was perfectly complemented by the warmth of the sage and the subtle bite of lemon was just enough to cut through and provide a little freshness, like a little hint of summer on a cold winter's night.

And even with making fresh pasta to go with it, this recipe was very easy to make. 
I would absolutely recommend this recipe!


music & lyrics blog hop

Happy Birthday, Elvis!
I cannot really say that I am a fan (oh, stop your booing!) but I can appreciate his music. My dad loves the guy so I grew up listening to quite a bit of it. honor of this music legend's birthday some of the girls over at Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class decided to put together a music & lyrics blog.

And I am participating!

But, oops...with everything that I have had going on lately I had forgotten to put together a layout.
(it is okay to boo me here...)
But thanks to Helen, who sent me the reminder, I was able to whip together a page.
Because it is 2:00am right now and I am still working on my final project for my grad class, I decided to give digital a whirl again.
Not knowing photoshop, again.
But I made do, again.

This page is dedicated to my mom, who I lost last month. This is my first page about her since I found out that she couldn't fight any longer and cancer won the battle.
I hate cancer.

There are so many songs that make me think of her when I hear them, but there is one in particular that I listened to several times in the days and weeks after she passed away.
When I hear the song "It Will Be Me" by Melissa Etheridge, I always think of her.
It is comforting to think that she is still here, watching over me and loving me.
That even though she is not here in person, she is there in the subtleties of life, with me always.
This song communicates that for me.

This page might be simple, but it is for her.
And for everyone else who has ever lost someone they love.

Be sure to visit these ladies who are also participating in this challenge today, their picks will be sure to get your toes tapping and creativity flowing!



 Yes, I just might be.
I've gone scrap-class happy! 
(this would be me if I had long, light blonde hair...)

Well, I did it.
At the 11th hour I decided to sign up for Cathy Zielkse's Design Your Life course. 

Which makes my current BPS courseload this...
Get out of Auto Mode (starts tomorrow)

and definitely singing up for this one which is coming soon...

Pile this on top of copious amounts of grad school work, teaching, tutoring, and having a life and I think I just might be officially crazy.
Why do I do this, you might be asking yourself?
Well for two reasons...

The classes at BPS are phenomenal.
And besides, scrapping is my escape from it all, so wouldn't taking more classes essentially balance all the other stuff?
 Ahhh, sweet, sweet validation ;-)

I know that I really wanted to take those classes and was concerned they wouldn't be offered again. I didn't want to miss out (note to self:get over that)

And just how am I going to balance all this, you ask?
Well, for now I am concentrating on work and school work and doing what I can here and there. Later, I will catch up and scrap my little heart out over February break and Croptopia weekend.

Sounds like a good plan to me.

Now back to that homework...

P.S. I found a promo code for $5 off any workshop at BPS, just enter readroom at purchase anytime between now and January 31, 2010! 


inspiration defined.

Inspiration is everywhere. I know it sounds cliche, but it is so true and I am realizing it more and more with every assignment that the wonderfully talented Elizabeth Dillow sends us in her inspiration defined class at BPS.
For as long as I can remember I have found inspiration in magazines and advertisements and pretty  much everywhere I look in the world around me. But for some reason, even with the crazy amounts of time I seem to spend on the computer, I never thought to seek inspiration on the internet.

Do you know of all of the great sites out there on the interweb that can help fuel your creativity?
For starters there is tumbler and we heart it. On both of these sites you can sign up and have a spot to keep all of the images you come across that inspire you to get crafty, or just inspire you in general. It's a pretty great concept.

For one of our assignments we were asked to make a photo collage of images we found on the internet.
Mine is above.
It is just a small collection of what inspires me, but I love each and every image on that collage.

I am loving the inspiration defined class.
John Quincy Adams said:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Thanks for leading, Elizabeth. Your class is awesome and I am definitely already inspired. 

...and on a side note, 
thank you to this guy...

for making me this (and cleaning up) tonight...

(panko crusted zucchini...yummm!)

so I could do homework and blog and catch up on my scrapbooking classes :-) 


busy, busy & a fun new feature

My goodness, time certainly does fly when you're having fun. This past vacation was one of the best ones yet...and we didn't even go anywhere!
But now it is back to work, back to school, back to tutoring time. And did I mention on top of that I am taking two classes at BPS?? Am I crazy??? Nah...just (overly?) ambitious. Besides, I figure that whatever I cannot get to in terms of scrapbooking I can catch up with next month at Croptopia (can't wait, ladies!!)!
In the meantime, don't be surprised to see posts coming in at 1:00 am ;-)

And now for some news...
After much thinking I have decided to put "what i'm loving wednesdays" on hold for a bit.
However, I have come up with a fun new feature I hope you will enjoy just as much.
Beginning next week, Mondays will be....

"Melissa & Martha Mondays"!
(yes, it is in fact inspired by Julie & Julia...except with recipes AND crafts!) 

I heart Martha Stewart. Like seriously. Naysayers have your wrath, but I think she and her team are a collection of creative genii (it's proper english, I looked it up) and I, for one, cannot get enough of the amazing creations and concoctions that they produce time after time.
Have you ever picked up her Everyday Food magazine in the checkout aisle at the grocery store?

It is hands down my favorite cooking magazine out there. It is filled with a copious amount of helpful tips and the pictures alone are enough to get my mouth salivating. Fresh herbs, gorgeous cooking utensils, local produce... It's like foodie heaven.

But I digress,
sort of.

Beginning next Monday I will be posting about one of Martha's recipes or crafts that I have given a try.
I'll let you know how it went, my thoughts, if I would recommend it, etc...

Should be a lot of fun, I hope you'll check it out!


champagne blackberry cupcakes

Oh my deliciousness, of all of the cupcakes I have ever made these very well might be my favorite.

These cupcakes were inspired by a great recipe I found on the fabulous blog High Heels & Aprons. I decided to make them for our holiday dinner because look mouth watering in her pictures, and what says "New Year's" more than champagne?

I wasn't sure if the champagne flavor would be apparent in the cupcakes, but it really did shine through. I highly recommend this recipe, as would my New Year's companions ;-) 

The original recipe called for pears, but I swapped that out with blackberries that I soaked in champagne and a little bit of sugar in fresh squeezed lemon.

Champagne Blackberry Cupcakes

2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 sticks of butter
2 cups sugar
3 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup champagne

[soaked blackberries]
2 cups blackberries
1.5 cups champagne
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 lemon
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup Champagne
Put blackberries into a bowl, add 1 tbsp sugar and squeeze 1/2 a lemon over mixture. Pour 1.5 cups champagne in bowl and let soak while preparing batter.

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In mixer cream butter and sugar until well mixed and airy.  Add eggs one at a time making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.  

Slowly add in flour mixture.  Stir in vanilla and champagne.
Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full.  Insert 1 blackberry into each cupcake. Cover with enough batter to cover berry.

 Bake for 25 minutes.
For frosting
Cream butter until smooth.  Slowly add sifted powdered sugar.  Mixture will be very thick, keeping adding champagne to get to the consistency you want. 
Let cupcakes cool completely.

Frost cupcakes and top with one blackberry. Sprinkle with colored sugar (optional) 

Also, if you want to check out this delicious confection we indulged in on NYE, stop by here!

glad to meet you, 2010

 After a fantastic evening surrounded by wonderful friends in my most favorite spot in the world (Cape Cod, MA), I am officially ready to welcome in the New Year. 
We spent last night at the Cape with some of our favorite people cooking up a feast, playing apples to apples, quoting ridiculous movies, and laughing til our stomachs hurt.
I couldn't have asked for more. 
The midnight kiss wasn't bad, either ;-) 
I hope you all enjoyed however you chose to celebrate!
I'm looking forward to 2010 and all the creative endeavors (and blog posts!) it promises to bring.
Here's to a year filled with scrapping, crafting, cooking, photographing, savoring life and...balance. 
Welcome, 2010. I'm glad you're here!