When last we left our heroine..

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She was trying to figure out why there were 3 opened packages of pitted and chopped dates in her pantry….

I know it’s been a while since I posted, actually it’s been 2 weeks, and like all retired peeps I’m very busy but couldn’t really tell you what I’ve been doing except looking for gainful employment, setting up Get Togethers and Shopping Events for my India Hicks business    ( http://www.indiahicks.com/rep/mconroymiller) and playing …

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I’ve been crafting so I’ve been making things like cards and tags and necklaces and a few bracelets.

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I also did a couple of marathon cooking events, featuring emptying the entire contents of the fridge and coming up with a  bunch of meals from it. This load was from 2 Sundays ago and yielded:

Italian green beans in sauce

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Roasted beets and carrots for salad additions with goat cheese

Roasted vegetable and pinto bean ratatouille (beans when rinsed and roasted are extra delicious!)

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Brussel sprouts roasted with apples and kielbasa

Acorn squash stuffed with dates

Not a bad afternoon’s work.

Well I’ll be back soon with some new posts…sorry I was gone for so long!

Passages

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So you may have noticed that I haven’t exactly been tearing up the WordPress stats lately and posting a bunch of stuff on this here blog…Well, that’s because as many of you know and some of you don’t, I’ve undergone a HUGE transition in my life. After 40 years of working full time (chambermaid, waitress, front desk clerk, nite auditor, liquor license clerk, writer, front office manager, rooms division manager, catering and board manager, retail manager, catering director, general manager and then district manager..in case you were wondering), I have “retired” from my company after 31 years of those 40. It comes with mixed emotions, but after two weeks I can tell you that I am enjoying not reading email at 4:30 am. There was and will be a tremendous amount of reorganization going on in my part of the business and an offer was made an accepted. An offer that allows me to stay whole for a while, take a breath and figure things out.

So here’s what I know after noodling on things for a couple of weeks:

I love being in operations. Coming up with a plan and executing it

I love working in diversity especially around the advancement of women in the workforce. The last four years that I spent chairing a Women’s Network Group were the absolutely BEST parts of my career, all 40 years of them.

I love throwing parties, planning parties, thinking about parties, theming a party and going to parties.

I love being creative. If I could do paper crafts, photography, writing this blog, making jewelry, cooking and especially baking every day, all day, while planning a party, I’d be in heaven!

Based on this information I should be planning and executing a lot of parties for fantastic women who are working hard and moving forward. The parties will feature a lot of good food, cake and fabulous party favors. Pink may or may not feature prominently…

If anyone has any needs for any of my skills listed here, give me a call and we’ll work something out. I’m open for everything and anything!

I’ve already cleaned all the closets in the house except for one….

“Gal-entine’s” Day

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What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a terrifically frigid winter afternoon than gathering some “gal pals” and celebrating “gal – entines” day? Leave the romantic dinners, wine and flowers for your soul mate, but in the meantime, gather your girlfriends, daughters, nieces and all those creatively inclined for an afternoon of crafting coziness.

Eleven women who met the criteria above were at my house on Saturday to craft and decorate just in time for the holiday. It was a no pressure event featuring a mimosa bar, quick and easy baked but not breaded chicken parmesan with a salad, and tons of goodies.

Here’s some of my projects for the afternoon : chocolate covered strawberries and macarons and meringue hearts for everyone to take home!

For the meringues I placed a  sheet of plain 8 1/2 x 11 paper that I had used my computer to space even, same size hearts on as an outline. I placed the template between my silpat covered baking sheet and the parchment paper. Once the meringues were piped, I just pulled the piece of paper out. This works to make macarons also. Also a little hint for your piping bag is to use a large cup like kind from fast food restaurants or movie theaters snack bars to fill and hold your piping bag. Makes it very easy!

Here are some of the notions and ephermera I put out to help my guests craft!038041042

Hope everyone had a terrific Valentine’s day!

 

 

There was a Whale on Nantucket…

123We visited the Nantucket Whaling Museum while we were away and one of the exhibits was an embroidery project taken on by local craftspeople to design and illustrate via embroidery,  a panel that depicts a significant scene from Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”.

Unbelievable attention to detail and creativity exhibited here! I’ve inserted some of the best photos I could capture!

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They all used the same fabrics and font for the script, but from what I could gather, the design and stitching was up to the craftsperson. Look at the beading that creates the white whale above and the little stars in some scene! Such craftsmanship deserves a round of applause!

I knew I saved those jars for a reason…

I’ve been looking for small hanging solar light or votive holders for a bit, and the realized..”duh, you have a kazillion empty jam jars, just use those”!

So I did… 

  

I just wound some wire around the top and twisted it tightly so I could add another wire to use as the bale. Then I added some crushed sea shells and tea lights an teeny tiny white shells I had for crafting.  

   

Just need to remember to take them in when it rains!

Mega Cookie Swap

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My sister hosted a swell holiday cookie swap last nite complete with fun and laughs, really good soup, wine and along with cookies, everyone got to take home a little album of recipes!
There were some great recipes!

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Here’s how it works:
Decide on a theme for the cookie book and invite your friends. Decide how many cookies from each attendee that everyone will get to take home. Last nite we were 12 ladies (dancing) and everyone baked 2 dozen pieces, so we each took home 2 dozen cookies!
But you can bake any amount.
Once you know how many peeps are coming you can do the fun things like plan a menu, decorate your house, and buy the supplies!
Everyone need to bring copies of their recipe equal to the number of swappers and if possible with a scrapbook page made ahead if you want. If you have a theme, you can buy papers, stickers, embellishments, knickknacks, paddy wax to coordinate. Everyone makes the same front page, goes down the line and picks up cookies and a page from each swapper and then assembles their cookie album!

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Here’s what some of the pages looked like and also the cover page we did.
You could do this with so many things like cupcakes, hors d’ouevres, chocolates, even jams and jellies! I’m giving serious consideration to organizing a Valentine themed swap!

The Way Back Machine…December

Here’s what I was fashioning a year ago in December

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I stamped, embossed and taped some wax bags for baked goodies.

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Then I made some banderoles (banners) to use for cakes and other confections. I’ll post the file so you can print and cut out to use too!

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Hand stamped champagne tags for champagne gifts!

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Lastly my Christmas batch of macarons!

Acorn Garland

Yes, I put our Christmas tree up over the weekend. Yes, my tree is gold, not green. It makes a statement! Anyway, I saw this garland idea on Pinterest a while back and changed it up a bit.

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I added a bit of glitter blast and then strung mine on clear beading string and sort of nestled the acorns along the copper mesh I have on the tree.

The Way Back Machine…November

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Here’s what I was doing last year in November!

It was all about getting ready for Thanksgiving and I lost the first week of the month for personal reasons. Recovered nicely though and got some things done. Hit the hot glue gun hard for my mini shell trees. Easy but pokey, just gluing shells onto a tree, then I hit them with a little glitter blast spray at the end. Moved on to custom ribbon made from rug binding tape and hand stamped with Thanksgiving appropriate words, and lastly made some little acorn cookies from nutter butter, a dab of melted chocolate and Hershey kisses. Shamelessly stolen from Pinterest!

What to do with?

Wine corks…
Really when you think about it, I only consume 3 beverages. Oh I’ve been known to have a CC and ginger and once a year or so will have a Manhattan if I don’t have to drive. But my cocktail of choice, anytime of year is wine.
Which leaves you with corks. Lots of corks. ( For the record, the other two beverages are water and tea)
So I was sitting in Vino Volo at the airport the nite we left for Ireland in August. Near the “please wait to be seated” sign was a cute little display of summer wines with a garland of wine corks setting off the summer seashore theme.

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“Hmmmmm, I can make that…” I said to myself and filed it away for future use.

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So I did! Super simple! Might need to put on my Christmas tree!

P.S if you are ever in the “new” terminal at Dulles airport in Virginia, Vino Volo is the only place worth your hard earned moolah for refreshment.