Monday, February 28, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

I made a Red Velvet Cake for my dad's birthday on Saturday.  A Red Velvet cake is basically a chocolate cake with a lot of red food colouring in it.  I had some amazing red velvet cake at a friend's birthday back in November and decided that I needed to try this!




To find a recipe I went to allrecipes.com.  I read the comments section to see what people thought.  One reader had made some amendments/improvements, so I thought I would incorporate her ideas.  The only disappointment was that the cake wasn't quite as red as I would have liked.  It tasted great and I had plenty of compliments.  I also liked the icing, which was new to me.  Very buttery and not super sweet.


Red Velvet Cake (as amended from allrecipes.com)


4 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food colouring (I used Wilton gel colour instead)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup oil
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2-1/2 cups flour, sifted (or not)
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. white vinegar


Icing


1 cup milk
5 Tbsp. flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract


CAKE Directions:


Grease two 9" round pans.  (I used slightly smaller heart shaped ones) Preheat oven to 350°F.  Make a paste of cocoa and food colouring.  Set aside.  (I added my vanilla here, and a bit of extra buttermilk since I used gel colour instead of liquid.)


Combine buttermilk, salt and vanilla (unless you put the vanilla in already!)  Set aside.


In a large bowl mix oil and sugar.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the cocoa mixture.  


Mix in the buttermilk mixture alternately with flour until just mixed.  Stir together baking soda and vinegar, then gently fold into the cake batter.


Pour batter into prepared pans.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.


ICING Directions:


In a saucepan, combine the milk and the flour.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.  Set aside to cool completely.  


Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy.  Stir in the cooled milk and flour mixture.  Beat until the icing reaches spreading consistency.






This is my cocoa, vanilla and colouring mixture... I added extra buttermilk to make it into a paste.

Here I'm adding the cocoa paste to the buttermilk mixture.

The finished batter.

I put the cakes into the oven.

Here's how they looked all cooked.

I iced the cake, keeping it very simple... and added a few sprinkles.

The final product.... I wish it was MORE red colour!  I'll see what I can do about that next time!


I don't usually buy buttermilk, but since this recipe called for it I did.  So, as an extra bonus I made Buttermilk Pancakes for breakfast on Sunday.  Lets just say that I might buy some more buttermilk!


Have a whimsically wonderful day!
Alice.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Forging Your Own Path

Where and why do we lose the freedom to create? The freedom to defy expectations, to choose our own path?  Maybe this is too grand of a generalization.  I teach three monthly scrapbook clubs, one for adults, one for kids, and one for card making.  


I have noticed that generally the adults in my classes are quite content to make my project exactly as I have designed it.  Sometimes they are excruciatingly careful to copy every detail in my example precisely.  I'm used to teaching and taking classes where this is normal.


My observations when working with kids are very different.  Most of the kids try purposefully to make the project different.  They take joy in creating their own unique outcome.  Most of the kids go home with a project inspired by mine, but completely their own.


So I'll ask again.  Where and why do we lose the freedom to create? The freedom to defy expectations, to choose our own path?  Are we programmed to just accept what is placed before us?  Do we not think we have our own excellent ideas to improve the project? 


Perhaps I have it wrong.  Often when I take a class I simply copy the project solely for the purpose of learning something new, or to try out another person's style.  Sometimes a lack of extra time does not permit me to be my most creative.  Sometimes I'm happy just to let someone else be the creative one.  Maybe copying a project isn't an indicator of loss of creativity or freedom of expression.


As a child I was great at following the rules.  I would do projects exactly the way a teacher expected.  But now... I question... was this REALLY good for me?  I think perhaps it is better to find your own way.


I'm inspired when my path is crossed by someone who lives their own life, forges their own path, and defies expectations.  Are these people more in touch with their inner child?  Have they managed to retain something that children naturally seem to have?


My goal for this week is to search out my inner child, to defy expectations and to find my creativity.  Would you like to join me?


Have a whimsically wonderful day!
Alice.









Saturday, February 26, 2011

Project 365 Week 8

It's Saturday again, so it is time for the next instalment of my Project 365 photos!  If you missed the last one click the Project 365 tab at the top for a link to all of the posts. The goal of Project 365 is simple: take a candid photo every day for a year!  The photos can be of anything, people, places, activities or objects.  The photos will tell a story about the interesting tidbits of your life for a whole year.  If this sounds like fun to you, join in!  This project does not need to be started on January 1, you can start any date, your birthday, anniversary or today!


February 19 - My beautiful new wall decor.
February 20 - Ryan goes flying with his dad to the mountains.
February 21 - Yesterday's photo of Mt. Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. (3954m)
February 22 - Joe is excited about his "new" parts.
February 23 - I made a turkey for supper... YUM!
February 24 - The cards we made in my monthly card club this week.
February 25 - My outfit of the day!


I hope you have a whimsically wonderful day!
Alice.


Friday, February 25, 2011

No Time Like the Present

I'm noticing trends in my life.  I'm hungry for organization.  I'm tackling projects that require a lot of effort.  During this process I have noticed several mantras that "help" me along the way. 


"No time like the present" is my current motto.  It motivates me to dive into projects that I might be somewhat intimidated to start.  Either because of the size of the project or the unsavoury nature of it, I find myself needing that extra boost to get me started... and "no time like the present" is my solution.  Carpe diem, seize the day, no time like the present... they are all a version of what Nike summed up nicely with "Just Do It!"


In tackling these seemingly unsurmountable goals I keep hearing, "baby steps".  I HATE this saying!  I don't want to make a small dent in the problem.  I want to dive in, head first, fearless.  I want to get started, not with "baby steps", but fully and completely.  When I have the passion and energy to start a project why would I hold back and only commit to a small step?  I want to take a giant leap and see where that can get me!


I don't just apply "no time like the present" to my current project on the go.  I try to apply this to my daily life.  If an opportunity presents itself I want to be able to take full advantage of it... I want to "seize the day!" We don't know where our life will lead us, or what path we may find ourselves on.  I hope I won't look back at my life and say, "I wish I had..."


No Regrets.


We all do the best we can with what we have... and if we don't... why not?


Have yourself a whimsically wonderful day!  I will.
Alice.





Thursday, February 24, 2011

30 for 30 Challenge Week 3

Oh Dear! I really didn't do well taking photos of my wardrobe this week!  (If you missed the rest of this series click the 30 for 30 Challenge tab at the top of the page!)  I've still been remixing my wardrobe, although it has been a bit of a challenge!  The weather has been most uncooperative... especially for skirts!  Today we had a high temperature of -18°C, which is REALLY cold!  I only included 2 pairs of pants in my challenge, so I could wear more skirts, but lately I'm reminded of why pants are so essential!


Here is the only wardrobe photo I have to share... 
It looks warm outside... but it is NOT!


I have been happy with the variety I can create using my 30 pieces. I do love some pieces a lot more than others, and I have had difficulty mixing in a couple items.  Good lessons to learn though!


I promise to try to have more photos for next week!  Only 1 week left!


Have a whimsically wonderful day!
Alice.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Menu Planning Week 8

It is amazing how a little menu planning has made such a huge change in my life!  The effects of menu planning are trickling into the rest of my life.  Now that I plan our meals, it is easy to grocery shop.  Seeing how well this works has motivated me to set up routines to help keep my house organized and clean. (It's still a work in progress!) Want to give it a try?  Start by planning meals for your week. To get you started here's what we are having this week. For more menu inspiration click on the 'Wednesdays: Menu Plans' tab at the top of the page.



Wednesday - Turkey and mashed potatoes

Thursday - Left over Turkey

Friday - Turkey soup - Turkey is a great food!  I love the first  big meal, the leftovers, and I love to turn it into new meals.  Take leftover turkey and make soup, or a casserole, or use it for wraps... so many possibilities!

Saturday - Dinner at my mom and dad's.  I'll bringing a cake!  (funny thing:  my mom is planning to make... a turkey!!)

Sunday - Leftovers

Monday - New Recipe Revisited: Zesty Roasted Chicken and Potatoes from the St. Joseph School Grad Class 2011 Recipe Book  with my own alterations!  (I was going to do this last week but... I didn't!)

Tuesday - New Recipe: Bulgogi, a Korean recipe that comes highly recommended from a friend

Happy eating and have a wonderful day!
Alice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Year's Resolutions of 2011 Revisited!


After realizing how much my opinions and feelings have changed since the beginning of the year regarding giving up schedules, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the rest of my resolutions.


1.  I resolve to spend time with my husband and boys this year.  Playing, reading, smiling, laughing, learning, living and adventuring.  I want this year to be a year to remember, for all of the great experiences we will have!  I want quantity time and quality time.  I want my New Years Resolution for 2012 to read... I resolve to make this year just like last year!

So far we have been doing some of all of these things.  However I think we can do even better!  So I will make an active effort in order to improve this!

2.  I resolve to give up on schedules!  It just isn't me and it is time to embrace that!  Does this mean I won't plan, or schedule anything?  NO!  It just means that I want to accept that living by a schedule is not the core my being... I am just not easily confined to routine... and I'm FINALLY okay with that!

I discussed this yesterday... (see post here).  Apparently I now like schedules and routine!  Weird!

3.  I resolve to keep creating!  I love spending time in my amazing scrapbook room!  It makes me happy, so I want to do it more!  I love that I can play with my "artistic side" and create records of my memories to share with family and friends.  I also love that I can share this through the classes that I teach!  

This has been going so well!  I love teaching my classes and I love creating in my scrapbook room!

4.  I resolve to keep at this cooking/baking thing.  I'm not really loving it yet, but I'm learning and can make yummy things, so that's good!

With my menu planning I would say I'm definitely on top of this one!  I have even been trying out new recipes!

5.  I resolve to make time for the things that I love: my family, my friends, scrapbooking, swimming, travelling, reading, choir and whatever new interests come my way this year!

I have totally been doing this!  Hurray!

6.  I resolve to develop my own sense of style.  I've been looking back at some old photos and I'd say that I've never exactly followed the trends!  My wardrobe now is quite joyless, so I'd like to bring some of that whimsy back!  Can whimsical be classic?  We'll see!!

My 30 for 30 Challenge is helping me to look at my wardrobe with new eyes!  I'm definitely doing well on this one!

7.  I resolve to try new things!  Things that make me uncomfortable or squeamish.  I've never tried sushi, (I don't like fish, somehow RAW fish doesn't sound better!!) or ran a 10k, or ... I don't know I'll have to see what I can come up with!!

I have been trying new things this year!  I haven't had sushi, or run a 10k, but I did eat a shrimp dip... it was okay, and yesterday I ate a panini with olives.  I think I can handle the olives... but it will be awhile before I become a seafood convert!  There are plenty of new experiences for me to try, so I'll keep on the look-out for new things to try!

So...

Overall I'd say I'm doing very well with my resolutions!  There is room for improvement, which is why I like to revisit my resolutions... it helps me to refocus my energy.  Did you make resolutions this year?  How are they going?  Do you need to refocus your energy, or have you succeeded?!  I think it is important to be happy with where we are, but constantly strive to become better.

Have a whimsically wonderful day!
Alice.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Breaking My Resolution!

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to give up on organization and routines.  I had decided that it just wasn't me, so I had to stop being frustrated by not being organized and sticking to a routine.  I was just going to be okay with that.


Funny how life works sometimes!


I was recently introduced to a website called FlyLady.net.  This website has helped me implement some big changes around here... and it involves organization and routines!  


One of the things the website advocates is taking Baby Steps... but I just dove right in and I'm loving it! Today I tackled one of my 'Hot Spots'.  A Hot Spot is a place where you pile things up, a spot that regularly gets out of hand.  I have several Hot Spots, and one of the big ones is in my bedroom.


Here's what it looked like today:
YIKES!

I really hate laundry!  Washing is fine, drying is fine... it's the folding and putting away that drives me crazy!  I'm trying to stick to this rule... 'Don't put another load in until the last one is folded and put away'.  It doesn't work perfectly, but it seems to be helping, at least there were only 2 loads of laundry piled up today!


I'm happy to report that, for today at least, I've dealt with my bedroom Hot Spot.  I'll have to see what else I can tackle tomorrow!
MUCH BETTER!


Have a whimsically wonderful... clean and organized, day!
Alice.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Something I Like

I have a lot of bare walls in my house.  I have a hard time committing to decorations.  I always want to find something that I really love, and I won't settle for just anything!  I finally found something that I really liked just before Christmas.  Although I dropped some hefty hints, my decorations did not appear under the Christmas tree.  I finally decided that if I was going to have them I'd better hurry up and get them for myself... before someone else decides they like them too!




These metal hydrangea flowers are now hanging in my dining room!


Have yourself a wonderful day!
Alice.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Project 365 Week 7

It's Saturday again, so it is time for the next instalment of my Project 365 photos!  If you missed the last one click the Project 365 tab at the top for a link to all of the posts. The goal of Project 365 is simple: take a candid photo every day for a year!  The photos can be of anything, people, places, activities or objects.  The photos will tell a story about the interesting tidbits of your life for a whole year.  If this sounds like fun to you, join in!  This project does not need to be started on January 1, you can start any date, your birthday, anniversary or today!
February 12 - Joe ice fishing, while I watch.
February 13 - I attend my first Wolverines game with some friends.
February 14 - The boys make banana muffins for the first time.
February 15 - Joe has a cool craft idea.
February 16 - Ryan does a Clay for Kids project.
February 17 - The Scrapbook class I taught today.
February 18 - Joe has his first Big Mac.

I still don't have any scrapbook pages to show... now I'm two weeks behind, YIKES!  I'd better hurry and get caught up!

I hope you have a wonderfully whimsical day!
Alice.






Friday, February 18, 2011

A 'Sweetheart' Layout

Yesterday was my Scrapbook club for Adults.  We made a scrapbook page using the new paper line from Close to my Heart called Sweetheart.  Here's a peek at the page...  I haven't completed the journalling yet, which will go right underneath the photo.











Nice.


But wait...


... it get's even better!





Peek-a-boo!  There are hidden photos that pop out!  Just pull the bottom tab and a photo pops out the bottom... AND the top!


Isn't that 'sweet'?
Have a whimsically wonderful day!
Alice.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

30 for 30 Challenge Week 2

It has been another interesting week remixing my wardrobe!  And I've successfully made it halfway through the Challenge.   If you missed the first instalments of this series click the '30 for 30 Challenge' tab at the top of the page.


I have a couple of outfits to share with you.  I don't take photos of my outfit everyday, but I assure you... I only wear my 30 items!




I'll leave you today with a quote:


Women usually love what they buy, yet hate two-thirds of what is in their closets.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


Here's to loving what's in my closet!  Have a whimsically wonderful day!  Alice.



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Menu Planning Week 7

I can't believe I'm already at week 7 in my menu planning!  It is going so well.  We don't follow the plan exactly, but most days I know exactly what will be on the table at 6 o'clock!  Last week I tried some new recipes and I would like to revisit one of them this week, to see if I can put my own twist on it.  Since I had so much fun trying new things I will continue in my adventurous spirit this week!



So here's my plan for this week!


Wednesday - NEW RECIPE! Spanish Rice from the St. Joseph School Grad Class 2011 Recipe Book I was planning to make this last week, but it didn't happen, so I'll try again this week!

Thursday - Spaghetti (requested by Ryan)


Friday - New Recipe Revisited: Zesty Roasted Chicken & Potatoes from the St. Joseph School Grad Class 2011 Recipe Book  with my own alterations!


Saturday - Homemade Pizza


Sunday - Leftovers


Monday - Roast beef and mashed potatoes


Tuesday - Beef stew

Happy cooking!  I hope you have a whimsically wonderful day!
Alice.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February Newsletter - Alice's Attic


February 2011 Newsletter - Alice's Attic

Here's what is happening up in the Attic!  Deadline to register for March classes is February 24.  Please take note of the exciting new changes to the Kids Monthly Club.  This new system will greatly simplify and provide flexibility for the club!  Please leave me a message or email me if you have any questions!


Catch Up Day:  February 25, 2011 at 7 p.m.  If you have missed a class/club come and make the project you missed!  If arrangements are not made to complete any outstanding projects by this date the materials will no longer be available.

Economical Scrapbooking:  Sunday March 13, 2011 at 2p.m. 
Scrapbooking budget a bit tight after Christmas? It is time to learn how to jazz up your pages using economical tricks and embellishments. We will be making several layouts using the Bliss paper line.  You will learn how to maximize the use of your tools. Bring photos to complete your layouts. Cost $25.  (please bring tape runner adhesive) Registration deadline: February 24

Workshop On the Go Tutorial:  March 26, 2011 at 2p.m.
Want to try one of our Workshops On The Go packages?  Join me in the Attic to learn how to make all the projects from the package.  For this tutorial we will be using the Wings Workshop Kit.  If you have a kit your cost is only $5.00.  If you don't have a kit yet cost is $44 (cost of kit plus $5.00)  Please bring a tape runner adhesive. Registration deadline: February 24

Monthly Clubs:
Scrapbook Club for Adults: meets the third Thursday of the month.  February's hostess is Terri.
Card Club for Adults: meets the fourth Thursday of the month.  February's hostess is Marilyn.

In clubs we make a project using the newest products from the Idea book and use an creative technique on a layout or card. Please bring your tape runner adhesive to club!  Commitment: Spend $25 on scrapbooking supplies each month.  The month you are the hostess you receive hostess benefits (free scrapbook stuff!!), the opportunity to bring a friend, and you bring a light snack.

Scrapbook Club for Kids: Ages: 10+   Min. 5 - Max. 8.  
We are starting a NEW KIDS CLUB!  It will meet the fourth Sunday of the month at 2 p.m. Club will start this month, February 27.  This club will not have a monthly hostess, rewards will be divided among participants EVERY night!  Cost is a fixed price of $39 each month which will provide you with a Workshop on the Go package for use in our club the following month.  (please see Workshop on the Go packages in the Spring/Summer Idea book pages 40-43).   A package includes: A Level 2 paper package, an exclusive Stamp set, an embellishment and a Workshop guide.  No extra orders are required from the catalog.  Just bring the $39 and next month your kit will be provided for you! 

Attic Treasures:
***Think you can't scrapbook?  Read my blog that challenges common misconceptions about scrapbooking.
***Get frustrated when you make a 'mistake' when stamping?  See my blog with links to some great 'fast fixes' for common problems.
***Want to try digital scrapbooking?  Close to my Heart offers Studio J and online digital program to help you create beautiful scrapbook pages, faster, simpler, easier.  Visit: alice.myctmh.com and click on Studio J for more information.
***Don't forget to find me on facebook:  Alice's Attic - Scrapbooking.  Click "like" to keep up to date!

If you have questions about any of the classes or clubs, or to register, please leave me a message or email me, I'd love to hear from you.

Alice Boll
Close to my Heart
Independent Consultant
email: amboll(at)telus(dot)net

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stamping Flubs Fixed!

Happy Valentine's Day!!  I hope you share some love with your family today.  To spread some love your way today I will share a 'lovely' series of posts from Jeanette Lynton, the founder of Close to my Heart.  Enjoy the beautiful artwork, and don't forget to bookmark my page so you can easily find your way back to all these great ideas!


This past week Jeanette has been sharing fast and easy fixes for those little moments when you say, "oops!"  If you have ever scrapbooked with me you've heard me say, "There are no mistakes in scrapbooking, only opportunities for new creativity."  Jeanette will help see you some of these creative opportunities!


PART 1 HERE - In part one Jeanette shares how to fix an incompletely stamped image.  (To prevent this problem make sure you have your foam packing material placed under the paper you are stamping on!!)


PART 2 HERE - In part two Jeanette has a fantastic idea for removing the line created when you accidentally transfer ink from the edge of your block onto your project.


PART 3 HERE - In part three Jeanette shares a couple of ways to fix an image that isn't stamped very straight... although with our fabulous clear stamps and blocks this is barely a problem anymore!


PART 4 HERE - In part four Jeanette shows you ideas for to "fix" a poorly cut out image, because sometimes we don't have the best scissor skills!


PART 5 HERE - In part five Jeanette will show you how to deal with a stamped image that doesn't stamp well over layered paper.


There you have it, a bunch of tips to help you handle a little 'oops!' when you are stamping!  I hope this helps you feel the love with your scrapbook projects a little more!


If you would like to order the products shown in the examples from Jeanette's site please visit:  alice.myctmh.com


Have a whimsically wonderful Valentine's Day!  Happy scrappin'!
Alice.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ice Fishing... Not So Horrible After All

Growing up I went ice fishing with my dad occasionally.  I can remember enjoying it.  I can also remember being bored and freezing my butt off.  I never really liked eating fish, and playing with sharp hooks isn't so fun either.  So, I have mixed emotions about fishing.


My boys are involved in the local 4H club in the Outdoor Adventures  group.  Yesterday the group was going ice fishing.  I thought I would tag along, since the weather was good, and take some photos.


Ryan starts fishing.

Joe gets started too.

Ryan with his catch!!

Ryan decides to let his fish go... he doesn't like fish either.

Joe enjoys some hot chocolate.

I sit with Joe as he fishes.

Ryan makes a Mentos/Diet pop geyser.  That was exciting!

That was our fun day... ice fishing!  It wasn't so horrible after all. (Who knew?!!)

Have a wonderful day!
Alice.








Saturday, February 12, 2011

Project 365 Week 6

It's Saturday again, so it is time for the next instalment of my Project 365 photos!  If you missed the last one click the Project 365 tab at the top for a link to all of the posts. The goal of Project 365 is simple: take a candid photo every day for a year!  The photos can be of anything, people, places, activities or objects.  The photos will tell a story about the interesting tidbits of your life for a whole year.  If this sounds like fun to you, join in!  This project does not need to be started on January 1, you can start any date, your birthday, anniversary or today!


February 5 - The boys play in the pool with the new floating toy.
February 6 - Ryan competed at District 4H presentations.
February 7 - Joe gets a new hair cut.
February 8 - Joe gets ready for bed.  Like his new hair cut?
February 9 - Ryan loves playing video games.
February 10 - Ryan got completely soaked playing outside at a birthday party.
February 11 - My Valentine's Day goodies from my secret sister... cupcake decorations and my favourite chocolates!  (and look at all that pink!)

My scrapbook page with last week's photos is not complete yet.  I'll post it as soon as it is ready.

Have a whimsically wonderful day!
Alice.



Friday, February 11, 2011

30 for 30 Challenge Week 1

It has been an interesting week!  I'm enjoying making new outfits using my 30 pieces of wardrobe.  I've had some casual days, some dressier days and I've worn a lot of skirts!


Here's a few of my outfits from this week!  (I didn't take a photo EVERY day, but I promise I haven't been wardrobe cheating!)  I did mean to do this post on Thursday, but... that just didn't work out, that's life!






I hope you are enjoying your wardrobe... and a peek at mine! 
Have a wonderfully whimsical day!
Alice.