Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekend Fun!

Winter weather returned to the Bay Area this weekend which gave me the perfect excuse to stay inside and spend some time in my stamping studio. Valentine projects have been at the top of my list for the past few weeks. I came up with the idea for this adorable Valentine banner awhile back and it turned out wonderful. I made two banners - one to keep for myself and one to send to my parents in Oregon as part of their Valentine goodie package. The banners make the perfect decoration for Valentine's Day. I can think of some other possible themes, too. Perhaps I can create one with the colors teal, black and white in honor of the San Jose Sharks!

Speaking of the Sharks, I have a new companion in my stamping studio: SJ Sharkie! I bought this adorable backpack while I was at the game against the Minnesota Wild last week. Doesn't Sharkie look great hanging on the back of my chair? It makes a fun addition to my stamping studio.

As many of you already know, I enjoy photography. I'm always on the lookout for a photo opportunity, and it seems that many of my photos include food! Because I consider myself a "foodie," it makes perfect sense that I have a large collection of food-related photos. On that note, I am including a photo of some very tasty onion rings that my brother and I shared this weekend with our gourmet burgers from Godfather's Hamburger Lounge in Belmont. We have driven by this restaurant several times and it has been packed, so we decided to try it out. If you happen to like the burgers at Jack's Prime in San Mateo, you'll probably like Godfather's. Their menus are similar, but each offers slightly different types of burgers. Other tasty items include shakes and fries (regular and sweet potato).

I wrapped up my weekend by baking a couple loaves of chocolate chip banana bread. Yum! I'll be enjoying this tasty treat during breakfast this week.

Hoping that you enjoyed your weekend and had plenty of time to relax and also do something fun. Wishing you a great week!

As always, I'll wrap up this post with a quote:
"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."
-Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Little Somethin' Sweet

Do you have a sweet tooth? I certainly do! There aren't many types of sweets that I will turn down, but of course I do try and sample these tasty treats without going overboard. Fortunately, my love of sweets also comes with a love of being active, so my occasional "sweet" indulgences are balanced out with frequent visits to the gym, long walks and lots of sit-ups!

I thought it would be fun to share a recipe with you today for a classic cookie that most everyone enjoys...unless you don't happen to be a fan of chocolate. This recipe for chocolate chip cookies is taken from the book, Martha Stewart's Cookies. If you haven't had an opportunity to browse through this book, I strongly encourage you to check it out. The photography is incredible, and almost every recipe includes a beautiful photo of the finished product. I've tried several recipes from the book and all of them have yielded wonderful results. If you like cookies, this book would make a great addition to your cookbook collection.

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, or a combination (about 12 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour and baking soda in a bowl. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Mix in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges turn golden but centers are still soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 1 week.

I have tried many different recipes for chocolate chip cookies, and this is my favorite, especially if you like chewy cookies. This dough also freezes very well. You can mix up the dough and then use a cookie scoop to make the individual cookies and transfer them to a freezer-proof container for storage until you are ready to bake them. The next time you get a craving for a warm, chewy, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie, just pull the pre-made dough out of the freezer and bake some up. Yum!

On a completely different note, the Bay Area continues to enjoy some unseasonably warm and sunny weather. It truly feels like it should be late March or early April instead of January! While I am enjoying the sunshine, I do miss the rain - after all, it is January and it's that time of year when I like to be all cozy and warm inside. No matter what type of weather you are experiencing in your neck of the woods, I hope that you have had a wonderful weekend and that this coming week brings many good things to you.

I'll wrap up this entry with a cute quote about chocolate:

"Chocolate is the answer. Who cares what the question is."
-Author Unknown

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Whether you are fortunate to have a three day weekend or even if you have to work today, I hope that you are enjoying your day. The weather is gorgeous here in the Bay Area - it feels more like an early spring day rather than mid-January. I started out my day by taking a long walk so that I could spend some time outside in the sunshine. It certainly is a treat to have an extra day off from work and I am thankful for this.

My weekend has been fairly low-key, but certainly fun! The Sharks played the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night and I am happy to report that they won! It was their first win at home since December 23 (the game that my family and I went to which included a Sharkie-gram, as seen in this photo). Today the Sharks play an afternoon game against the Phoenix Coyotes and I will definitely be watching. What better way to spend an afternoon off?!

My other favorite sports team, the New England Patriots, played the Jets on Sunday afternoon in the playoffs, but unfortunately the Pats lost. My brother and I watched the game at the Clubhouse Bistro in San Mateo - a nice atmosphere with great food and drinks. I was disappointed that the Pats lost, but at least I was able to enjoy some "good eats" while watching the game. I am not looking forward to the football season being over, but at least there's a few more weeks remaining until the Superbowl. Despite the fact that the Pats won't be making an appearance, I'll still be watching because I like football, no matter which team is playing.

As a "crafter," it's definitely not too early for me to be thinking about Valentine cards and goodies, so I have set aside some time this weekend to work on my projects. I thought it would be fun to include a photo of this mini muffin tin that I keep some of my embellishments in. At the moment it has Valentine embellishments, but the contents change depending on the season and projects that I am working on. I think it's more fun to keep my embellishments in a tin such as this one because it's different. And unless I am using the tin to bake some yummy cupcakes, it would just be sitting in my cabinet.

I am also including a photo of one of the many Valentine cards that I have already made this year. This happens to be one my favorites. This card will be available for purchase in my Etsy shop - just click on the thumbnail under "Christianne's Etsy Shop" in the left column of my blog. As always, thank you for looking. I hope to add more items to my shop in the near future. In addition to working on Valentine products, I'm also creating a lot of birthday-related items such as cards, gift bags and gift card holders.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I think it's fitting that I end my post with a quote taken from the book Strength to Love, written by King:
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Wishing you a week full of laughter and smiles.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happiness Is...

Happiness is taking a photo of one of the cute koalas at the San Diego Zoo (June 2009).

Happiness is taking some time today to write a post for my blog.

Happiness is going on a brisk walk around the neighborhood with my friend on a cold, winter morning and taking some photos along the way.

Happiness is enjoying a warm chai tea latte from Starbucks while making some hand-stamped Valentine cards.

Happiness is the delicious scent of homemade split-pea soup as it simmers on the stove in my kitchen.

Happiness is being excited about participating in the One Little Word project this year. My word is wonder.

Happiness is having co-workers that I also consider friends, which makes work a lot more enjoyable.

Happiness is lounging on the couch under a warm blanket while sipping tea and reading a good book.

Happiness is being in the moment and feeling comfortable with what is happening in my life right now.

Happiness is getting together with my brother for dinner and watching the San Jose Sharks play.

Happiness is taking a moment each day to be thankful for the blessings in my life.

Happiness is ending this post with a lovely quote:

"Happiness is like a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."
-Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year - 2011

Hoping that the first day of 2011 is off to a wonderful start for you, and that many good things will come your way throughout the year! Perhaps some of you have already made resolutions for 2011, or maybe you are spending some time today thinking about some of the things that you would like to include in your life this year. I tend to skip making resolutions, but I do like to take some time to reflect on the positive aspects of my life and think about how I can continue to "accentuate the positive."

While it's nice to start fresh with a "New Year," I think it's also important to remember that each day allows us the opportunity to make a change for the better. Without a doubt, we will all encounter bumps in the road, but the beauty of life is that we don't have to wait for the New Year to do something different or make a change!

I hope that you'll take some time today, and throughout the year, to reflect on the joys in your life and what is working for you in the present moment.

As always, I'll finish this entry with a quote that reflects my thoughts:

Sooner or later we must realize that there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip.
-Robert J. Hastings