Friday, November 28, 2008

15 Black Friday Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Shopping is in my blood. It does something for my soul (sick, I know), and I’m good at it. So good, in fact, that I managed to walk away from this year’s Black Friday (BF) sales with EVERY item on my list. Not an easy task when that list is a page long, but I did it. I’ve learned from mistakes—both made and observed—and I want to share my knowledge with you. Just call it my little BF gift to you. ;) By avoiding these common blunders, you can have a much more enjoyable, successful BF experience, and you’ll save some serious coin along the way.

Mistake #1: Taking things too seriously.
My Advice: Enjoy the thrill of the hunt, but do so within reason. I just read a story about a poor Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death in NY by shoppers trying to get to the deals. There is absolutely no room for this kind of behavior. My heart goes out to this employee’s family, friends and coworkers. My cute little niece just started a job at Wal-Mart last week and had to face the masses today. I don’t know what I’d do if some maniac stomped over her fallen body to save a buck. Get real! BF is supposed to be fun, not a contact sport. So, in the spirit of fun, I’ll continue my guide to successful (and enjoyable) BF shopping.

Mistake #2: Going into Black Friday unprepared.
My Advice: Never, ever, ever just wander through the stores hoping to find the deals. Oh no, you need a plan. This means spending valuable time with the newspaper ads the day before (I recommend at least an hour), planning your route, making your lists (both of things to buy and people to buy for), and prioritizing your stops (by deal and by opening time). Also, part of being prepared involves transportation. Cute Cory filled up my car at midnight last night so that I wouldn’t have to make a stop along the way this morning. He also gave me wings in the form of a cool and delicious Red Bull. DO NOT waste your precious AM time doing tasks that can be done ahead of time.

Mistake #3: Wearing the wrong attire.
My Advice: Dress for the task at hand. Shopping is a sport, especially when it’s BF shopping, and like any good sport, you need the right kind of clothing to be at your best. For me, this is a puffy vest. You know, the sleeveless winter vests that are in style right now? This is the perfect BF attire. It will keep you incredibly warm (and this is coming from a gal who is ALWAYS cold) without the need for a heavy coat (which is beyond annoying when you’re making your way through the stores), and it can be unzipped when you need to cool off after working up a sweat in your retail outlet(s) of choice. Believe you me, you will sweat! It’s tough work! Also, sneakers are a must. None of this ‘slippers’ nonsense (yes, we have seen women in their pj pants and slippers). And, despite what the stinkin’ cute Kohls ad may suggest (the one with the Jack Russell pups), heels are out of the question! I also suggest you leave your purse at home. Only carry the essentials with you (ID, credit/debit card or cash, and your cell phone to keep in touch with your BF team). Purses only weigh you down and slow you down – two things that aren’t really compatible with extreme shopping.

Mistake #4: Spending valuable time getting ready, when you could be sleeping (AKA preserving energy).
My Advice: Forego the shower (you’ll work up a sweat shopping and want to shower when you get home anyway), forget doing your hair (that’s what hats are for), and don’t even think about makeup (nobody will be looking at you anyway). Instead, set your alarm for 20-30 minutes before it’s time to go, and use that time to get dressed (in the clothes you prepared the night before), brush your teeth, and gather your gear. This will give you more shut-eye, which means more shopping fuel.

Mistake #5: Flying solo.
My Advice: Always have a wingman. I almost always shop alone. It’s easier and I can spend the time I want to spend making my purchases, but BF is definitely a time when I make an exception. For one, it’s more fun to share your victories with someone. And, it’s also the best way to get the deals. You’ll need help. I would suggests teams no larger than 3, however. Any more than that will just slow you down. You’ll understand why as you read more. (You are going to keep reading, aren’t you?)

Mistake #6: Going for the cart first.
My Advice: Carts aren’t what you came for; the cheap (excuse me, “affordable”) goods are what you came for, so why are you wasting time with a cart? Always, and I mean always, go for the goods first, with your partner, of course (see #4), and get what you came for. Then, once you’ve staked your claim, you or your partner can go back for the cart while the other waits with the merchandise. Carts will SLOW YOU DOWN. There’s no more weaving through the clothes section to avoid the main walkways with a cart, so wait until you’ve got your grasp on your treasures, and then load up a cart.

Mistake #7: Shopping first and lining up later.
My Advice: Have someone in your party get directly in line, while you make a run for the sales. This rule applies to the first stop on your journey in particular…especially if that stop happens to be Kohls 4:00 AM sale. The line at this store is out of control. Last year I made the mistake of going it alone, and I spent TWO HOURS of valuable shopping time in line. This year, my shopping partner in crime, Gina, immediately made her way to the back of the line (which was already long at 4 AM, BTW), while I sniffed out the deals. Once our door-buster deals were in my hot little hands, I relieved Gina of her post to do some shopping, she later returned to relieve me, and so on and so forth. Worked like a charm…even if it only shaved off 30-minutes from our wait time (we still waited 1.5 hours). Hey, that’s 30 more minutes we had to get to Target.

Mistake #8: Taking a small automobile.
My Advice: Make sure there’s plenty of room for your purchases. Plan ahead, taking into consideration the items on your shopping list, as well as the unplanned for finds, and drive accordingly. Want that 32” flat screen TV for $598? Better not drive your Mustang.

Mistake #9: Not opening your coffee establishment when herds of cold, tired people are just standing outside the door. (OK, so this one is targeted to merchants instead of shoppers, but it’s worth including.)
My Advice: Open your doors, Beans & Brew. What were you thinking?! People are lined up in front of Kohls for hours (which happens to be a yards from your front door), just sitting with chattering teeth and money to spend, and you’re closed? Why isn’t every employee in your store working that crowd, with coffee carts in tow? You missed a gold mine, my brewing friends.

Mistake #10: Letting the coupon be your guide.
My Advice: Read the fine print. Most of the coupons found in the ads are not what they’re cracked up to be. Take Macy’s, for example. Its “$10 off any clearance item” suckered me in last year, even though I wasn’t after anything in particular. I got there, wasted valuable early-bird hours looking for a clearance item to redeem, only to find out that my item of choice didn’t qualify. Come to find out, just about every brand they carry didn’t qualify. Penny’s had a similar jig going. They had a “10% off your entire purchase” coupon, good for…3PM to 11PM!?! Any good BF shopper will be sound asleep by this time. Plus, all of the door busters will have been long since expired, so what’s the point? Tricky, Mr. Macy. Clever, J.C. But you won’t fool me again.

Mistake #11: Falling for the Mail-In Rebate Price
My Advice: Again, read the fine print. Some of the best deals require a little more work…a mail-in rebate. This means you won’t get the full sale price at the time of check-out, so you need to have more money than the signs my indicate (unless you read the bitty print and prepare ahead of time, which is something I rarely pause to do.) And I’m beyond lousy about mailing in those stinkin’ forms. If this sounds like you, then I suggest comparing prices in the Thanksgiving Day ads to see if one store has that same digi photo frame you’re after for a few extra bucks and no rebate. Trust me; the extra $5 or $10 will be well worth the time and hassle avoided.

Mistake #12: Discarding something because it’s the wrong size or variety.
My Advice: Buy and exchange at a later date. Did you have your eye on that steal-of-a-deal coat, but they only have XXXXS left? Never fear. Buy it anyway, and return in a week or two to exchange the tiny trench for a human size. They’ll be back in stock, and stores should exchange it straight across. I happened to run into an old friend from college today who is now managing an Old Navy store. I asked her about this before making my purchase, and she assured me the exchange would be made. True, some stores’ policies may vary, but, worst-case, you can always return the coat if they won’t make the switch.

Mistake #13: Carrying your purchases home in plastic shopping bags.
My Advice: Go green. Not only will your reusable bags come in handy when you’re running from aisle to aisle, filling them up, but they’ll also have those stores you visit saving a few more of their harmful plastic bags. Here’s a tip from my sis-in-law, Gina: Take your jumbo, reusable IKEA bag. These mondo bags are super roomy for filling, but will crumple up to the size of a softball when you aren’t using them. So, when you’re out saving some green, remember to go green.

Mistake # 14: Overlooking the freebies.
My Advice: Keep your eyes peeled. I’m not talking the sucker freebies – the free mug for the first 100 in the store. It’s a mug. Do you really want to face the mobs for a lousy mug? No, I mean the free gift-wrap options. This morning, Kohls had an entire cart of shirt boxes parked next to the exit, and people were just passing it by. How many times have you been wrapping, only to find yourself with that hard-to-wrap item, wishing you had a box? It happens, and these days more and more stores are charging for their clothing boxes, so when you see ‘em for free, grab ‘em. You’ll be glad you did.

Mistake #15: Staying home.
My Advice: Don’t shy away. (My cute hubby will argue this to the end, but go with me.) There is money to be saved and an economy to boost. Plus, there’s something to be said for the thrill of the victory. You prepare, plan and strategize, and you’re rewarded with more for less. I don’t know about you, but more money is good for me, even if it means a little less sleep. I saved hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of dollars on my shopping today. Plus, I have a good majority of it done now, with weeks to spare. What’s not to celebrate about that?

Did you come away with any screamin’ deals or wild stories to share today? Do you have additional mistakes you want to help others avoid? I’m always up for a good shopping story, and I hope to read yours. But, first, I’m off to take a nap. I’ve been up for 12 hours now (and it’s only 3:30 PM).

Happy BF, BF (Blog Friend)!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Update and a Thank-You!

Thank you for the wonderful outpouring of support, dear friends. I really appreciate all that you’ve done to help my family during this difficult time.

To provide a little update, Mom is going into surgery tomorrow to have the tumor and some of her lymph nodes removed. She has a really good doctor who cares about her and wants to make her well. Thank God for the amazing men and women who work in the medical field.

I’m not going to turn this blog into a place for cancer news. I know there is much in life to celebrate, and I plan on being a part of the celebration. But I will keep you updated on things with Mom from time to time.

It means so much to me that you’ve been right there with us, pulling for Mom to get well, even though most of you have never met her, and a lot of you don’t really know me (beyond my messages on the ol’ blog). It’s said that good things come from bad situations, and that has certainly been the case with this.

For those of you who’ve left comments about your own loved ones who’ve gone through this, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and providing me with support beams when it felt like the world was crashing down around me. Because of support from caring people like you, those beams are holding strong.

That goes for all of you, whether you've left a comment, called, sent an e-mail, sent a card (dear Paper Crafts team) or sent support in the form of prayer and/or positive thinking. Because of all of you, my sweet friends, I am stronger. Because of you, the world still seems like a happy place, even when I feel angry and want to hide under a blanket all day.

Thank you!

OK, I’m going to call it a night. Tomorrow is a big day for several reasons, and I’m going to need my beauty rest. After all, a girl’s gotta look good sitting in a waiting room, right? ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

This changes everything

Mom called me Saturday morning. The conversation started as most do, with her asking how I am, followed by a little chitchat. Then her tone changed, and she said, “I have to tell you something.” I immediately knew it wasn’t good, and I was right.

Mom has breast cancer.

I don’t know very many details yet, only that she had a biopsy that came back positive for this scary disease. As you can imagine, this is a difficult thing for our family, so I'm writing to ask for your support.

If you’re a praying person, please include my dear Mom in your prayers. Prayers to God, Buddha, Allah, or just the universe in general…we’re not biased.

If you have first-hand experience with this disease (and I pray that you don’t), your advice (in comments, please; I don’t really feel like talking right now) would be very much appreciated.

I know this goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: life is fragile. Hug your loved ones a little tighter today and let them know what they mean to you. You never know when your phone might ring and change everything.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Drum Roll Please...

The winners of my Quick & Easy Photo Albums giveaway (according to are:
  • Ktluv
  • Shaunte Wadley

Please e-mail me ( your full name and mailling address, and I'll get your fun special issue and photo album in the mail.

Thanks to all who played and visited my blog. I hope to "see" you again soon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beautiful Business Owners I'm Proud to Call Friends

I am a lucky girl. No, I didn’t win the Megabucks jackpot (yet), but I think I have something even better than that…a bold statement, I know, but it’s true. What is it that makes me so lucky? My friends. In this case, I’m talking about those pals who own businesses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they’re the only reason I’m feeling fortunate. They’re just one of the many reasons I feel my life is blessed, and they happen to be the reason for this particular post.

This topic may seem a bit strange, but I’m in the process of launching a little business of my own, together with my incredible business partner, Jennafer Martin, and I now know firsthand what kind of work it takes to get your own business vision off the ground. I have a newfound respect for my business-owner friends. They’ve taken risks, made great leaps of faith, and followed their dreams and their bliss to make their ideas reality. If that’s not to be celebrated, I don’t know what is.

Where to start? Well, it just so happens that a number of my inspiring amigas own stamp businesses. How cool is that?
  • My cute friend Holly Jones just launched her stamp company, My Cute Stamps, and the name doesn’t lie. Her stamps are adorable. What’s more impressive, she’s already achieved great success with her other company Vinyl Wall Art. Take one look at her artwork, and you’ll understand why she’s doing well. Yes, she designs it all! What a rock star!

  • I had the pleasure of getting to know the next gal on my list through our involvement with Paper Crafts magazine. She is a former PC Pro, and I, a former PC editor. As soon as I met her, I knew that I liked her. Her name: Nichole Heady. Her company: Papertrey Ink. If you have any interest in stamping at all, you must check out her blog. It’s loaded, and I mean LOADED, with fresh project ideas, all made with HER stamps. Way to go, Nichole!
Cheers to Nichole Heady, one super talented stamper and a might fine business owner!

  • My next addition is definitely one who risked it all to make her dream a reality. Who is she? Shelli Gardner, CEO and cofounder of Stampin’ Up! Sure, she has an enormous following and great success now, but there was a time when she was selling stamps out of her living room. She’s come a long way and is one I admire when it comes to making smart business moves. I know this first hand, because I had the pleasure of working for her/SU! a few years ago (in their PR department). Shelli is as friendly as she is business savvy!

  • Then there’s Bev Kramlich Grey, CEO of Technique Tuesday. Before launching this fantastic stamp company, she explored other independent endeavors. She wasn’t afraid of trying it until she got it right, which is SO awesome. And boy did she get it right! Her company’s stamps are wonderful, the creative people she surrounds herself with are unforgettable, and her way of following her bliss to achieve her dream is amazing!

My list of business-owning friends doesn’t end with stamp companies. I’m also fortunate to have these incredible people motivating me with their efforts and their passion.

  • Nicole LaRue. Even her name is fun. This sassy sistah owns Larue and Company, an ultra hip stationery and gifts business. She just decided one day that she was going to go for it, and she did. Well, there’s a little more to it than that. She would work a full-time job during the day and would stay up until the wee hours of the morning after work to prepare for her business launch. She ended up debuting her wears at the NYC Stationery Show (and even took me along for the ride), set up a company website, and has her cute things for sale on Etsy. She’s received all sorts of media coverage, and it’s easy to see why when you check out her super-terrific designs.
Nicole is as cute as she is talented. Just look at her modeling that super cute bandana she made!

  • Karen and Brian Lang are the parents of my best friend and like second parents to me. I grew up with them, and they always treated me like a member of their family (and still do). They own Oakbridge Greenhouse in West Valley City, UT. It started out as a single greenhouse, selling as many plants as it would hold, and is now multiple greenhouses (on one property), serving oodles of clients (including Park City, UT; Westminster College; and even a famous basketball player or two). This young couple took a chance on an idea, an idea that ended up supporting them through raising four children, and an idea that will eventually see them through to retirement, one beautiful bloom at a time!

  • Cards by Cath is…well, a card company started by my friend, Cath Edvalson. She recently retired this business (being the creative editor of Paper Crafts magazine was enough for one woman), but she grew it to a successful handmade card company before doing so. The most impressive part of this story (in my opinion) is that she started this after going through a difficult divorce, with two young daughters at home to support. That’s a scary thing, but she made it work, and she made it work well. She dry-embossed all of the cards she designed (or had helpers recreate her designs), showed her designs at various gift shows around the country, and sold her cards in several different stores. Just goes to show what a little creativity and ambition can do for ya.

  • Here I am with Cath (on my left) and our pal, Stacy. In this pic we're having a good, but coooooold time at Disneyland.

  • I’m delighted to call Paul and Kezia Whitteker, owners of Tinkering Ink, my compadres. This beyond-darling couple is the picture of humble success, fueled by love. They own and run their scrapbooking business together, raise a house full of beautiful children together, and they live together (obviously). That’s a lot of togetherness for any couple, and yet they do it SO well. They always seem to be laughing and enjoying life, despite the many obstacles that have been thrown at them. And they never cease to come up with new and brilliant ideas to add to their Tinkering Ink lines. They inspire and motivate me beyond measure!
  • Not only does Kezia (with me above) make sparkling scrapbooking products, she also manages to find time to create coordinating clothing for her paper lines (for her staff to wear when they're showing at tradeshows.) And I was lucky enough to recieve my own M-A-ZING shirt from her limited collection. Thanks, Kezia! You're a peach! A stunning peach, I might add.

  • The last business owners I’m going to spotlight in this post (that has gotten waaaayyy too long) are my parents. When I was very young, my Pop, a dedicated truck driver at the time, and my Mom decided it was time to take business matters into their own hands, and High Country Transport was born. My parents took this little trucking business and grew it into a successful company, complete with drivers (other than my Pop) who worked for them. Don’t get me wrong; there were definitely times where having a business was difficult for them and our family, but the gamble paid off for the most part, and our family was better off because of it. Thanks, Ma and Pa.

Why am I writing this post? Well, part of the reason, as I’ve mentioned, is because I’m working on my own endeavor (more on that to come in a future post), but more than that, I wanted to share these little stories to inspire you. Do you have an idea, a vision, or a dream that you’ve wanted to pursue? Are you always waiting for the right time? Well, I’ve got news for you: there’s never a “right” time. Instead, there’s only time, and it slips away quickly. Life’s too short to live on somedays and maybes.

I hope this note, as cheesy as it may seem, will inspire you to take a step towards accomplishing your dream (whether that’s owning a business or something else entirely). My friends listed in this post, as talented and smart as they are, are just people, like you and me. If they can do it, we can do it. Are ya with me? OK, then go out and get ‘em! (How’s that for a pep talk? I think I’m trying to convince myself to take this big step, if nothing else. But I hope by doing so, I’ve managed to inspire and motivate you.)


Monday, November 10, 2008

Ode to Pop

My Pop celebrated his birthday this week. On his day of presents and cake, I recognize more than ever that he’s the true gift. He does so much for our family and never asks a thing in return. So I’d like to take a minute and honor this special man with a blog post.

  • My Pop is the life of the party. He’s always pulling silly antics and making us laugh.

  • My Pop is the worst and the best partner to have in a game of Pictionary. His drawings are almost always unrecognizable, which makes winning hard, but the belly-hurting laughter that ensues is better than winning anyway.

  • My Pop is handsome. In his younger days, he was often compared to JFK, though our family all agrees that Pop had him beat.

  • My Pop is a fix-all handy man. Just the other day he fixed multiple problems on my car in a few short hours and saved me hundreds of dollars. And cars aren’t the only thing he can fix. He’s a master electrician, a smart carpenter, a wiz constructer, and he puts Joe’s plumbing skills to shame.
  • My Pop values an education and has instilled that value in me. During my school years, he was always there encouraging me to do my best, constantly stressing how important what I was doing actually was, even when I didn’t want to see it that way.
  • My Pop is a tree hugger. Okay, maybe not in the traditional sense, but he does love the outdoors. He lives to spend his summers in the Colorado Mountains, riding motorcycles, fishing, hiking, biking and soaking up the pure joy of it all.

  • My Pop always makes us laugh. ALWAYS!

  • My Pop has a knack for fixing old cars. Right now he’s working on his 1958 Ford Fairlane Retractable Hardtop Convertible. And he’s doing a great job with it. He also fixed up his old International pickup to look like new.

  • My Pop loves his family and sacrificed SO much to give us a great life. And his family loves him!

  • My Pop has a way with animals. Every family pet always loved spending their time with him and he with them. (This includes is granddogs.)

  • My Pop valued playtime. I have many a fond memory of playing with him as a kid. He was my best salon customer (he even let me paint his nails), my favorite sledding partner, my best Pick-Up Sticks competitor, and an easy-to-please customer at “Megan’s Place” (my restaurant).
  • My Pop is a sharp shooter!
  • My Pop cleans up real nice.

  • My Pop does ALL of the driving when we go on family roadtrips, stopping when and where we want to stop, showing us extra cool things and places along the way, and making it an easy trip for all of us.

  • My Pop has a love for photography and never misses a photo op. I’m happy to say that he’s passed this passion on to me.

  • My Pop is a fierce badminton player…sometimes a little too fierce.

  • My Pop never cared when I’d clepto his electric razor to shave my legs as a girl.
  • My Pop knows how to make a mean wienie-roasting fire.

  • My Pop makes this world a happier place, and I’m so proud to be his daughter.
    Happy Birthday Poppy. I love you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Quick, easy AND free?!?!

Do you know what photo-album scrapbooking (PAS) is all about? I didn’t, but I do now. Simple Scrapbooks (the fun magazine I work for) is about to release its newest special issue, Quick & Easy Photo Albums, which is all about this very topic. This happens to be an issue I worked long and hard on, along with the rest of the Simple team, so I’m very excited to see it hit the store shelves.

If you don’t know, this approach to memory preserving is almost like scrapbooking baby steps, because you create mini journaling cards and photo mats that you then slip inside photo-album sleeves along with your pictures. As the title suggests, this approach is generally easier than the regular approach, making it a wonderful starting point. It’s also an excellent way to do something with the piles of photos we all have.

Since the issue is out next week (Nov. 11), I wanted to give you a little sneak peek. This is an album Simple Scrapbooks founding editor Stacy Julian created for the issue. Isn’t it cute?

And this is one that the super talented Elizabeth Dillow created for the issue. In it, she spotlights things she does well (recipes she makes, beautiful gardens she grows, etc.) Notice how she uses both traditional sized photo sleeves and wallet sized. Clever, eh?

And guess what?! Even yours truly has an album in this issue. You’ll have to get the issue to see it, but I can tell you that it’s a craft portfolio, and I think it’s something all of my creative friends will find useful.

So, if you have the chance, please check out this SIP. Not only have I designed a few things for it(including my craft portfolio and some supporting visuals), but I’ve also written and edited a lot of it, making it near and dear to my heart.

To celebrate the release of this issue, I'm going to give two copies of it away, along with two fantastic albums! Just leave a comment on my blog between now and next Friday, November 14 and I will randomly select two winners to receive a Grace Photo Scrap Album from K&Company (pictured below) and a new magazine.

Your comment can be anything photo related (things you like about PAS, your goal of giving this approach a try, your favorite thing about taking photos, your favorite camera, anything!) I’ll announce my winners on my blog next Saturday, November 15. So let the commenting begin!

P.S. If you hurry, you can still participate in this week's design challenge on the Simple Studio blog. It's all about photo-album scrapbooking, and it includes an awesome giveaway. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some Post Halloween Fun

Okay, I know Halloween is over, but I couldn’t resist sharing my punkin cards with you. It is one of the many things I was going to post before Halloween, but my stinky computer virus interfered with my otherwise flawless plan.

Since this card doesn’t actually say “Happy Halloween” (on the outside, at least), I figure it can be used for any fall occasion. Know someone with a November birthday? Why not send them a cute punkin greeting? Plan on visiting someone for Thanksgiving? How about thanking your hostess with a note in a punkin?

This card is quick and easy to create, so I suggest you give it a try, whether you make it this year or save it for a Halloween greeting next year. All you need is orange cardstock, ribbon and/or ric rac, buttons and, of course, a little bling.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nummy for the tummy...and the right brain

Food and crafts in one book? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it isn’t. Instead, it’s Paper Crafts Gourmet, the newest book release from my friends at Paper Crafts magazine.

This is actually one of the final projects I worked on with the Paper Crafts team, so it has an extra special place in my heart. Or maybe it fills that space because my cute Mommy has a recipe for her Simply Swiss Steak in it. Or, quite possibly, it’s because I designed a party ensemble using my favorite Polaroid camera for one of the included dishes. Or, perhaps it hits that feel-good spot for me because it’s food and crafts, two of my favorite things. No matter how you slice it, this is a must-have to add to your Christmas list.

Want to know a yummy secret? Since I was on the PC staff at the time this book was created, I had the delicious task of taste testing ALL of the recipes before they were selected. Getting paid to eat? Awesome. So, you have my word, and the word of the PC editors, that these dishes are delish!

One such tasty recipe: Cheesy Garlic Drop Biscuits, from the always-adorable Alisa Bangerter. This is a good one to rely on if you’re short on time, because there is no rolling or cutting. Great with soups, stews and salads, you should definitely add this to your box o’ bread recipes.

2 c. flour2 tbsp. granulated sugar4 tsp. baking powder1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder1/2 tsp. salt2/3 c. butter or margarine1 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese1 1/4 c. milkChives (optional)

Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry cutter until mixture is fine. Add cheese and mix well. Add milk and stir until just moistened. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Sprinkle top with chopped dried or fresh chives if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 15 minutes.

Once you’ve made these nummy biscuits, why not give a few as a nice fall gift. Wrap ‘em up in a basket and add a fun tag. Since people are celebrating Halloween all weekend, this is something you could do today.

Enjoy Halloween Tag
Designer: Alisa Bangerter

SUPPLIES: Cardstock: (ivory) Dye ink: (Black) Stewart Superior Corp.; (Summer Sun) Stampin’ Up! Specialty ink: (Mango Lemonade color wash) Stewart Superior Corp. Color medium: (black chalk) Craf-T Products Accents: (black brads) Making Memories; (chipboard bat, moon) Melissa Frances Fibers: (black striped ribbon) Pebbles Inc. Font: (Black Family) Adhesive: (foam tape) Finished size: 3" x 4 1/2"

1 Make tag from cardstock. 2 Crumple tag and smooth out. Spray edges with color wash; let dry. Apply chalk. 3 Ink chipboard moon; let dry. Chalk edges and adhere. 4 Ink chipboard bat; let dry. Adhere with foam tape. 5 Print sentiment on cardstock; trim and tear edges. Chalk edges and adhere with foam tape. Attach brads. Attach ribbon with brad.

In addition to my Ma’s Swiss Steak and Alisa’s scrumptious biscuits, this book is full of recipes for main dishes, breads, snacks, drinks, and appetizers, and every recipe is accompanied by a paper-craft idea or two. Check out PC’s website for more info and to order your copy. Trust me, your tummy will thank you!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Along Came a Spider

Legend has it, if you see a spider on Halloween you’re actually seeing the spirit of a dead relative. Well, our live-in black widow came out for a visit yesterday––a rare occurrence. Who do you suppose it was?

There were more than spiders to see this year. Everything from a first-hand look inside the Utah State Prison and cartoonland to freaky candy, fun kids and dressed up pups. This was definitely a Day of the Dead to remember.

To start this and every Halloween off right, I always buy some Frankenberry, Count Chocolate and Boo Berry cereal (Yum!) and, of course, a fine assortment of tasty treats––Peeps (they have Cocoa Cat Peeps this year – awesome!), and these cool vampire teeth with gummy tongues.
Nuuummmy...gummy tongues!

The celebration of Fright Night wouldn’t be complete without a costume party or two. Cor and I transformed into Homer and Marge and made a visit to the Opel Mansion for a hauntingly good time.
Marge: Mmmm...Homie, stop scratching your ear.
Homer: Doh!

The festivities continued at the office where I work. It happens to be very near the state prison, so we (the Simple Scrapbooks and Digital Scrapbooking magazines) turned our area of the building into a satellite office for the rowdiest of cons. Welcome to Die-Cut Row!
We were locked up behind bars, while the Warden watched from a safe distance. Our gang was made up of "One-Eyelet" Hoeppner (me), "Scrappie" Smedley (Wendy), "Crop Killa" Jolley (Carolyn), "Point-n-Shoot" Barney (Marin), "Scan Artist" Willden (Jenny), "Rhinestone Robber" Wozab (Jen), and Warden Martin (Jennafer).

How's this for fun: I won a costume in both outfits. Simple and Digi won first place at work, and I won a super cute prize for being Marge at the Opel party. Talk about fun bragging rights!

Naturally, the pups had to join in the fun. With Cor and I dressed as inmates, Kiss decided he had better put on his K9 costume and keep us in line. And Jack added the “o-lantern” to his name.

I busted outta the clink at work, only to find the K9 unit waiting for me. Dang it all!

What a sweet little pup. He definitely lives up to his name.

And what’s Halloween without carved pumpkins? Every year, my family gathers at my parents’ house for a little knife fun. Here’s what we came up with this year.
In a matter of minutes, Cor drew super cool flames on his pumpkin with a pen and carved it to look like a meteor. What a talented science nerd he is.

I cheated and used one of those patterns to create my hootie design.

The end result: A meteor that cast awesome shadows; a creepy scarecrow, complete with a cool top (Mom's); a creeeepy skeleton (Pop's); and my menacing bird.

To wrap things up, Cor and I went to a costume party at the Snowbird ski resort, where his family has a time share. Look at these cute little ghouls and boy.
Funny story: My nieces told me they were going as gangsters (before they were dressed up), so I taught them a few gangsta moves (gang signs, greetings, sayings, etc.). Well, as you can see, they were gangstERS, not gangstAS. Oh well, Alex still looks tough flashing that "westside" sign. LOL!

A hauntingly good time was had by all this year! What did you do to celebrate? Come one, I dare ya to tell me. Bwa hahahahahahaha!