Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Insanely Simple Fudge Recipe

I'd like to tell you that this fudge recipe has been handed down in my family for generations, but the fact that you make this fudge in the microwave probably gives away the fact that it wasn't.

No, this fudge is not my great-grandmother's fudge. I'll share her good-ole Pennsylvania German fried fudge recipe with you some day. This fudge recipe is for busy working women, and I got it from a display at our local A.C. Moore arts and crafts store. 

This fudge is insanely simple. You mix together three ingredients, and you have perfect fudge every time!

Peanut Butter Smoothie Fudge
1 lb peanut butter candy melts
1 lb vanilla candy melts
18 oz jar of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

Melt candy melts in the microwave for a minute then stir. Microwave for additional 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted.

Stir in the peanut butter. Pour the mixture into a 9x12 pan and chill. If you want to get fancy, you can pour the mixture into mini paper candy cups or use candy molds for cute shapes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Follow the recipe above expect replace the vanilla candy melts with chocolate ones.

I'm thinking about writing this one down on a fancy recipe card, so years from now when my niece inherits my recipes, she'll be more impressed. Somehow I don't think she'll see its value if it is still on ratty blue copier paper with cat teeth marks on the corner.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fairy Garden Pub

Fairy Garden Pub by Liz, the Fragrant Muse

Liz shared this enchanting photo of one of the houses in her fairy garden. Here is what she says about the photo.

"I adore adore adore miniature worlds. And I love the notion of fairies living in the garden so I kind of put the two together. My husband and son helped me create this little fantasy world two years ago and I keep adding fairies and miniature animals, frogs, etc. It is one of my favorite creations and makes me happy every time I look at it. The fairy garden/village sits at the base of the steps that lead to my massage studio and clients stop to look and stare for a long time when they come for their first appointment."

You can read more (and see more pictures!)  on her blog, The Fragrant Muse.

Submit your Monday Pick Me Up story. 
E-mail me at youngmarie33@yahoo.com with "Monday Pick Me Up" in the subject line. Or add your photo and description to the Creative Sprinkle Flickr Group. Make sure your Flickr photos are available for download.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back on the Mat

Yoga isn't something that I came upon naturally. I grew up in a family that leans more redneck than hippie. My family values hard work, and part of proving that you put in a hard day's work, is coming home stressed.  I followed that mantra for years until it started to take a toll on my health.

My first yoga class was part of a healthy living series that my health insurance paid for. It was a weird, surreal experience. I remember lying on the floor, listening to bells chime; the instructor whispering, "let all of the tension of the day flow out of you."

"Not gonna happen," I thought.  "I can't believe I'm supposed to waste an hour lying on the floor. I have an hour commute home after this, then dinner to make. Why did I sign up for this. I'm so bored!"

An hour later, the bells started to chime again. We wiggled our fingers and started to "bring ourselves back to our bodies." I stood up, slipped on my shoes, and headed for the car. But boy, I felt weird. What was wrong with me?At that moment it hit me, I was relaxed. I don't think I had ever felt that feeling before.

I was hooked. Unfortunately, the evening class became harder to schedule so I moved into a home practice. I was practicing pretty regularly and getting great results, although recently I've slacked off.

I fell prey to a petty lame excuse, and you are looking at him. His name is Benjamin. He's wild and sweet all rolled into one, and ever since we brought him into our home, we have had to do some serious "baby proofing."

Benjamin loves yoga. He loves walking under me when I'm in downward dog. He loves chewing on my hair. And he loves bringing me his mouse, dropping it on the mat and meowing. Pretty distracting stuff when you are trying to get your zen on.

Don't worry, I have a solution. Benjamin is going to spend some time in the bedroom while I do yoga in the living room. What creative excuse have you used to stop doing something?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rock Solid Inspiration

Inspiration Shrine by Stacy (Pandora's Compass)

 Little things, like rocks and a couple of Sharpie markers, can make a big difference.
We had a really depressing winter in my office a couple years ago; too much work, not enough sun, and we were struggling with a coworker’s serious illness. People were sad, rude, and NOT optimistic.

One of our designers, Stacy, decided that we needed something to raise our spirits. She brought in a bowl with beautiful smooth rocks and asked people to write what they needed on them. She didn’t worry that people would laugh at her. She didn’t whine that there was no money in the budget for rocks. She didn’t worry that she wasn’t in charge. She just wanted to make things better.

Her small effort shifted everyone's mood. People bonded over the rocks. They wrote things like “no more rushes,” “melting snow,” “respect,” and “hugs.” Even people who weren’t “touchy feely” participated.

Some people put their rocks back in the community bowl; others took them away for personal inspiration. I have one on my desk right now. What little thing made a big difference in your day?

Submit your Monday Pick Me Up story. 
E-mail me at youngmarie33@yahoo.com with "Monday Pick Me Up" in the subject line. Or add your photo and description to the Creative Sprinkle Flickr Group.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do as I say, not as I do

The universe has a funny sense of timing.

Monday, a guest post that I wrote titled, "A Relaxed Mind," appeared on the Handmade Business Blog. In it I talked about why a relaxed mind is a creative mind and gave some tips for re-energizing a tired mind. Yay for me, right?

That same day, I sat in my director's office and uttered three of the hardest words for me to say; "I need help."

Our creative department is a high stress area where everything focuses around tight deadlines. That in itself is nothing new, and usually I work extremely well under pressure. What is new, is the fact that for the last year,  we have been undergoing a major organization-wide reset process. So for a year our team has been living with the stress of the unknown and trying to regain some sense of normal. On top of that, a very talented project manager on my team left last week, so I have some new duties on my plate.

I told myself things were okay, but the way I treated my body and mind told the real story. Bad food, lack of sleep, worrying about all of the uncontrollable variables, I created a kingdom for stress to reign. And Monday, the stress that I tried to bury down deep inside of me began to mount its attempt to overthrow my sanity.

I had ignored own advice and piled more and more onto my plate, confident that I could do it all. Why are those words, "I need help," so hard to say? I don't know. What I do know is that I feel so much better now that I've said them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Pick Me Up: Toilet Paper Still Life

Toilet Paper Still Life by Ruby the Cat, photo by Tara

Monday Pick Me Up: Years of conditioning have made Mondays particularly hard on our psyche. So I've decided to greet Mondays by sharing a happy tidbit. Today's inspiring photo is from a gifted photographer, my friend Tara, who prefers to see the positive side of things.

Tara had a cat, Ruby, who loved to destroy toilet paper. "I remember getting so mad every time I came home and the TP was destroyed. Then it occurred to me that she was making art. And I was never mad about it again,"Tara explained. Tara lined up the damaged TP rolls and took a black and white shot of them to decorate her wall with Ruby's "art."

Share your Monday Pick Me Up:
If you have a cute, happy, or inspiring photo to share, join the Creative Sprinkle group on Flickr. Add your photo there along with a short description.  Periodically, I will grab something from the group to share here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tickling the Muse

Bleeding Heart Necklace Set

The quickest way to come up with an idea is to stop trying to come up with an idea. At least that is how my muse rolls.

When I sit down with a blank sheet of paper to try to come up with new product ideas, the sheet tends to stay pretty blank. When my mind leaves the task, and I allow my thoughts drift toward something pleasurable, the connections start to appear. This necklace is a perfect example.

My garden is most gorgeous during May and June. One of the things that makes it so gorgeous are the mounds of bleeding hearts that trim out the paths. As I sat admiring one this spring, the flowers started to remind me a of dainty charms dangling from a delicate necklace. A product idea was born.

One rainy afternoon, I played around with sculpting flowers like the ones in my garden. They turned out lovely, but I no idea how I wanted to string them. Mind was blank again. It took several weeks and a trip to my Mom's house to rummage through her bead collection for my muse to return.

It took a while for everything to come to fruition, but this bleeding heart necklace and earring set is now finally listed in my store.

Does your muse show up on command, or is she fickle like mine?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Just ask; they might say yes

Putting yourself out there is never easy. There is always the chance for rejection. But, there is also the chance for success.

One of my goals has been to write a guest post on another blog. Yet fear of rejection kept me from pitching anything. I put it off for that faraway "someday." Someday when my blog is big enough. Someday when they'll take me seriously. Someday. Someday. Someday.

Well someday fell into my lap...twice. And now I have two guest posts to show for taking a chance.

My 1940s Hollywood Glam Bath Remodel
I'd been meaning to write about my art deco-inspired bathroom since we finished the project in March, but the more time passed the less it seemed relevant. I had pretty much put it on the back-burner when I discovered a new blog, Being Tazim.

Tazim had just started a Monday decorating column, and she needed guest bloggers. I pitched my blog and she accepted. My first guest post!!!

The Past, Present, and Future of Your Business
Then one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Megan from Crafting an MBA, posted that she was having a particularly busy August so she was looking for guest bloggers. I sent her a proposal for a post on the importance of focusing on the past, present, and future of your business, along with tips on how to not get trapped in one area. That post ran today!

The moral of the story: keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and don't let fear of rejection limit you.  What is something you took a chance on?


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