Thursday, March 31, 2011


Congratulations to Jamie!!  You have won our yummy brownie sampler giveaway, courtesy of Bite Me Brownies, our featured Artist in the Spotlight last week.  Thanks for reading, following, and commenting on our blog.

More thanks to Emily Mericle, the mind behind the tasty dessert we've been salivating over this week.  I've tried every flavor and one of each simply isn't enough!!  You can read all about her brownie baking talents by clicking here.  

For those of you who didn't win this giveaway, you can find the full list of Emily's treats at her website:  They'd be a fun treat to have shipped to someone you love.

Meanwhile, our top-notch guest blogger, Mod Podge Amy, is offering her own giveway.  Scroll down to find out how to get in on that action.

Dimensional Magic Collage Art

Hello again!  I'm Amy from Mod Podge Rocks.  I've been here before with bracelets, and I'm happy to be back with another project - this time with Mod Podge Dimensional Magic.  If you've never used this magic little bottle of "stuff" (the name is so apropos), it does just what it says: it adds dimension to a flat surface!  It makes paper items look like epoxy stickers, and it makes jewelry items look like they have resin poured on them - yet it's non-toxic.  I know I sound like an infomercial, but I really love it.  I use it on jewelry a lot, so I decided to change it up with a piece of wall art.  I think you'll enjoy.  Here's how to make my Dimensional Magic collage art.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dessert Deadline

Time is up.  If you haven't commented by now to qualify for our brownie giveaway...well you won't get the taste of chocolate and caramel in the corners of your mouth this week.  We'll pick a winner today.  Come back tomorrow to find out if it is you!!  Thanks for visiting Crafty Life and Style.

FREE Brownies!!

You have until Noon, EST, today to qualify for the brownie sampler giveway.  The rules are spelled out in our Artist in the Spotlight blog from last Thursday.  Click here to find out how to become eligible for FREE BROWNIES!!  Forget the diet, these babies are tasty and only for YOU...our readers.  Good luck.

Flower Power Wall Art

Posted by Picasa
I'm going to will spring to bloom here in upstate New York. It's been a long, cold, snowy winter up here and I am longing for some vitamin D! I thought I'd make this cute little piece of wall art. What I love about this is you can do it too and with little to no cost-- because I know you probably already have everything you need!

1 12x12 piece of scrap book paper
1 3x12 piece of paper
large silk flower
some self adhering sparkles
an old 8x8 canvas
staple gun
glue stick
glue gun

Center your paper over your canvas. I made slight slits on each corner of the paper in order for it to fold over neatly. Then I folded the corners of the paper over the canvas like I was wrapping a present. I tacked the paper down to the frame with my staple gun. Then I placed my 3x12 paper in the center of the frame and tacked that down in the back as well. Time now to add your ribbon on each side of the center piece of paper. I did not use any glue. I simply tacked it down in the back with more staples.  Line your ribbon with your sparkles. Then cut your silk flower bud down to the nub. Be careful- if you get too close to the end you will clip the little nub that holds it all together. Stop just short of the little nub. Then place a substantial blop of hot glue in the center of the picture. Place your flower on there and hold in place until it's secure. 

This project is super duper easy and fast! And what a way to brighten up your space! Hope you love it like I do!! Please tell me what you think. I love hearing from you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Organize It: Food Cupboard

Since Crafty Girl is on an organizing kick, I was inspired to organize a few things around my house.
I really wanted to clean my kitchen, but I had boxes of food on my countertop because I couldn't fit them in my haphazard cupboard.  I've had a habit of just pushing in new products wherever I could perilously balance them.  Inevitably that meant I would open the door and have something fall out on my head.  This week, I finally climbed up on that counter and took everything out.  I got rid of tea that had been in there for years.  I got rid of anything that was past the expiration date, even if I figured it was still good....just toss it.  I put the boxes of food on top, soups in the middle, cans on the bottom...with all of the labels facing me.  I am happy to report that I open that cupboard now with pride.  I pull out boxes with a smile.  I haven't had anything bonk me on the head in days.  What a relief to just Organize It!!!

Brownie Giveaway

This is your official reminder that we are GIVING AWAY brownies!!!  Our friends at Bite Me Brownies were profiled on this blog last Thursday.  Comment on our interview with Emily in our Artist in the Spotlight feature...all the rules are spelled out there...and you could WIN a FREE sampler of Bite Me Brownies.  Click here to find that blog.  Emily also happened to be featured on Arizona TV recently.  Check out the video to find out more about the baker behind these babies.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shutterbug Sunday: Homemade Filter

This may just seem like it is not in focus...but the effect is intended to teach you a fun and free trick.  If you've watched Barbara Walters over the years, you may have noticed her lighting seems softer now.  There is a haze around her that smooths out blemishes and lines on the face.  If you want to add a fun and hazy effect to can grab a filter right out of your sock drawer.  Different shades of pantyhose offer different outcomes, some more subtle than others.  Just gently cover your lens with the fabric and take a photo.  I grabbed four shades of pantyhose to find out how they would each look on the same subject.  Here are the results.






Some of the results surprised me.  Of want a spray of roses to be colorful.  But, the right set of circumstances may have you slipping your knee highs off your feet and onto your camera lens.  Try it out and let us know if you make any fun discoveries.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hiiiiii YAH!

My 6-year-old daughter recently earned her Yellow belt in taekwondoe, but it was not an easy road. Despite acing the test, when it came time to break a board with a kick (Yep- BREAK a real piece of wood!) she wouldn't kick hard enough to do it. The mental challenge of mind over matter really hit her. We spent a week practicing and fretting about the need to overcome this hurdle to make it to the next level.

When she finally broke the board, the room broke out in cheers. I must admit my cheer was a little too loud and obnoxious- I gotta work on that! But, it was a true testament to her ability to put mind over matter. So, when it came time to scrapbook the page. I wanted it to be special. No store bought embellishment here. Handmade all the way.

I took a piece of white paper and sketched out what I wanted the uniform shirt to look like. Admittedly, I'm not the best artist- but I felt my sketch was alright. Then I cut out the piece. I thought it looked pretty good. Then I decided to create a lapel with two extra pieces of paper. It needed to have some stitching then. So, I gathered some embroidery string and a needle. You can sew paper pretty easily- just be sure not to get too close to the edges. I learned the hard way!

The final piece to the puzzle was the belt. I only had yellow ribbon. So I custom made it to look like her real belt. After tying the belt around the waste (like it's supposed to be tied for class- yes, a little obsessive) I cut little pieces of white paper and glued them down.

I really like the final product. I hope she likes that I marked this occasion in a special handmade kind of way. What do you think?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Bite Me Brownies

Cooks can be artists too.  So, this week we are shining the spotlight on a wife and mother who bakes some fierce brownies.  Like many of our other "Artists in the Spotlight", Emily Mericle turned a personal passion into a small business.  She is just beginning her adventure.  But, the lessons she's already learning may be useful to many of you, who are considering a crafty career.  Meet Emily Mericle, owner of Bite Me Brownies, our Artist in the Spotlight...

1-Why brownies? How did this evolve from a hobby to a business?

Why do I love to bake?  The answer is simple... Waffles! I still remember standing on a chair watching my Uncle Don make waffles from scratch.  These where the best waffles I have ever eaten. Before then, I only thought waffles where made from a mix. From that moment on, my mixing bowl and I were a force to be reckoned with!

Why brownies? Because I love them! I have always loved brownies and I figured why not do what I love!  While I was on maternity leave after the birth of our first son, Mason Patrick, at the end of 2009, the idea for Bite Me Brownies was born! Apparently those sleepless nights paid off!  In October 2010, we opened our commercial kitchen, and by February 2011, I resigned from my nursing job to focus and Bite Me Brownies full time.

2-Naming your business is like naming a baby. How did you decide on that name?

I was trying to think of something really catchy.  I thought if I were walking down an aisle at the grocery store, what would make me stop and look at something?  Then it hit me, what if something yelled out Bite Me!  That would get my attention, like “pick me”!  At first I told my husband, Brian, about it sort of jokingly, but then we really liked it!

3-You obviously don't have to give it to us...but what makes your brownies you have a secret recipe?  

What is special about our brownies? We have 9 unique flavors that are all preservative free. All our brownies are hand mixed, I find the texture is so much better. We make every attempt to use the freshest, highest quality, local ingredients. We only use butter, no oil! It would be really cool if I would say I had some secret recipe passed down generations, but I don’t.  I have had a brownie recipe that I have worked on for several years, “tweaking” over time.

4-This blog has lots of creative readers, who would love to launch a similar small business for their crafty passions. What challenges have you encountered along the way with this venture that you didn't expect?

The food businesses has more challenges than I expected. There are lots of rules, regulations, permits and licenses, and FDA guidelines etc. The internet is a great resource.  But, many times a short trip to the health department or other venues gets information a lot quicker!  I'm very lucky to have an amazing and supportive husband, but quickly had to learn it's ok to ask for help!  As for our project, I found packaging the most challenging. There isn’t a packaging store to just go to and look around, so this required a lot of sample ordering and PATIENCE! Sometime something would look great, but was too small or expensive. In the end, I'm happy we spent the time getting our packaging right.  It is one of the first things our consumers see.

5-What is your vision for Bite Me Brownies?

I want to have a Brownie Empire! Ha ha, just kidding, kind of :) Seriously I would love to see our business grow and expand to some other states, maybe an east coast location! I am also really passionate about giving back and helping however we can. For now we call this our “Bite Back” Campaign. It would be awesome if we could have our own Charity or at least help as many charities as we can!

6-How can people order your treats and what's available to them to choose from?

One can order online, by phone, or if they live in AZ...come see us at the downtown Phoenix Public Market every Saturday. We now have shipping available online to anywhere in the US!

We currently have 9 flavors to choose from: • Sweet and Sassy Salted Caramel • You Want a Piece of Me Peanut Butter Banana • There Can Vino Other- Red Wine • Slap My Apple- Apple Pie Blondie • One Crazy Blondie- White Chocolate, Macadamia Nut and Coconut • Get in My Belly Cherry Almond Vanilla • Not Your Mom’s Pecan Pie • Anything But Plain Chocolate • Gluten for Punishment- Gluten Free Triple Chocolate.

Thanks to Emily for sharing her story.  The great news is...she is also prepared to let you sample her product.  

In order to win, you must leave a comment here.  If you are a follower of this blog, let us will double your chances.  Post a link to this on your facebook page and you get another chance.  

You'll have until Noon EST next Wednesday 3/30/2011 to become eligible.  We'll announce the winner on Thursday.  

It is worth it...we're talking about a brownie sampler here.  Let your friends know....Crafty Life and Style has another GIVEAWAY.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Brownie Blog

I was just reaching a point where I was prepared to make a major life change.  I decided to look for a new job, organize my environment, and get serious about a diet.  It had been years since I really worked hard on eating well and exercising regularly.  I started planning my meals, joined a gym, bought a scale, and began working out at least five days a week.  I refused to look at a scale for YEARS!  This was major progress.

I was just getting into a groove when my old college buddy, Brian, dropped me a line, all excited about his new venture...Bite Me Brownies.  His wife had turned a kitchen hobby into a small business.  She began bringing her treats to local shops, where they caught on and bigger orders started coming in.  One night, she spent hours baking hundreds of brownies on her regular old stove in the kitchen.  My friends found a way to package their product, label, and ship it.

Brian was eager to send me a shipment, smack in the middle of my diet.  In fact, since I live so far away from him, my friend wants to use me as a kind of taste-tester as his wife studies shipping companies.  Now this is a dilemma.  How could I get a shipment of brownies that my friend was proud to share....but NOT  eat them??  We're talking about flavors like "Get in my Belly:  Cherry Almond Vanilla".

I decided that my duty as a friend was to try each one of the six flavors.  My initial plan was to take those six brownies to work, cut them into pieces, take my one bite, and give away the rest.  That didn't happen.  I ate each brownie whole over the course of a week.

Since I know my creative friends love brownies AND inspirational stories...I'll share the journey of the Bite Me Brownies baker right here tomorrow.

Come back to find out how my friend turned a passion into a small business and I'll tell you how to order and sabotage your diet for a week too!  Trust can't eat just one bite.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Organize It!: Plastic Containers

ADMISSION: I have a slight obsession with plastic containers. Whenever I'm in my local store I'm drawn to the aisle. I always look for containers to fit my needs. Today's advice is think about simplifying your supplies and putting them in groups in clean, see through containers. Ideally I would suggest finding a matching system and sticking with it. I don't have that option- because of the store selection in my area. I've heard wonderful things about the container store and I think my husband is thankful there isn't one near me because I would likely change all of my containers over again after visiting there.

I select containers to fit my needs. Above you see one that is perfect with an easy to remove lid. I use it for my kid friendly chip board letters. While I admit I'm a little--- uh---  protective of my "good" embellishments, there are some I have acquired in the dollar section and I tend to place them in a neat- hard to reach area- so I can supervise the kids use of them. I also use them- and that's why I supervise the use! With an 8, 6 and almost 4 year old crafting very close by- I'm used to items being consumed and destroyed before I can say "Wait let Mommy help!!"

Below you see my smaller stamp holder. This is an easy to transport stackable unit. I love it for travel and for the smaller items. I also have some with drawers. A larger 3 drawer, 12x12 unit is dedicated to my scraps and I have several others that hold my new papers. You can find pretty much any size or shape you're looking for. So remember, when you are crafting try to place all your "like" items together. Plastic containers offer you a wonderful way to safely store your items and keep them ready at your fingertips! You will be so excited to sit down and craft and not have to search high and low for items.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's a Wrap

Since we are all about food today...I'm making a bizarre confession.  Until this week, I had never made a wrap in my life.  I, like every woman in the world, love hot and saucy foods.  I'd pass right by the cold wrap menu in a restaurant.  Puh-lease....give me the hot roast beef sandwich with fries, smothered in gravy.  That gravy settled right in my butt.  When that area ran out of dripped to the thighs...hips...stomach.  You get the point.  Anyway, the idea of actually making a wrap myself never entered my mind.  Too plain tasting...blah.  Then, I made a decision to boost the exercise in my life and eat more salads for lunch and dinner.  I pushed back with a fury, insisting I hated every step.  But, somewhere along the way, I started to like and look forward to those salads.  I entered a workout class at the gym.  The nutritionist took us on a grocery store tour, pointing out these great low-cal wraps.  I bit the bullet and bought them, along with meat, cheese, fresh spinach, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes.  As soon as I got home...I made that wrap...and I liked it!!!  It may seem odd to all of you out there in blog land that this is my first wrap encounter.  But, in the past I've always indulged in whatever I wanted to eat.  Now, I'm trying to make healthier choices.  I did it.  It's a wrap.
P.S.  If you want that hot and saucy treat....scroll down for Chef Donavan's Tasty Tuesday selection.

Tasty Tuesday: Natalie's Curried Shrimp

Big shout out to my friends Dimy and his wife Natalie, she is Jamaican and her food is out of this world!!!!!You  can make this as hot as you can stand it or make it with little spice for the kids. If it is for the kids DO NOT add the Scotch Bonnet Peppers (they are the hottest pepper in the world)

2 lbs fresh shrimp (the bigger the better and make sure they are fresh, not frozen or pre-cooked)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1/4 of a scotch bonnet pepper finely chopped up (be sure to wear gloves and wash hands really good after handling these peppers, if you touch your eyes or nose you will know what mace for law enforcement feels like) 2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder (purchase from a Caribbean Store)
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 sweet pepper chopped (Ancho or Bell Pepper)
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper
1 1/2 cups water

Peel and devein shrimp if necessary. Heat oil. Add the curry powder and continue to fry for two minutes(this is called cooking the curry and you must do this, it is what gives the curry its unique taste), add Scotch Bonnet at this point if you are going to use them. Then add the tomatoes, sweet peppers, salt, pepper and other seasonings. Add water. Bring to a boil then reduce. Cook for about 15 minutes the liquid will start to thicken. Add shrimp. Turn up the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until shrimp is cooked.
Best served with white rice and plantains (look back a couple of weeks for this recipe)

Brownie Bonus

Tasty Tuesdays always make me hungry.  Chef Donavan's recipes look so good.  This week we can offer you a dessert to top off your dinner.  We'll be featuring a brownie maker on the blog this week.  I'll introduce you Thursday, with a full interview on Friday in our Artist Spotlight.  You'll want to check back in because she is offering a BROWNIE GIVEAWAY!!!  Is there anything better than that?  I can tell you that I have personally sampled the goods.  I want more.  Stay tuned for your chance to win chocolate.  Man, I love this blog!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Life Vest Layout

Initially I wanted to build a boat, but I couldn't come up with the visual.  Instead, as I perused through pictures of my nieces boating, I was drawn to their life jackets.  So, I decided to make my own.

I imagined a page covered by a large life vest, which I made from scratch.  I happened to have clamps in my supplies....yes I did.  I looped ribbon through those clamps and made two big belts to cross over the middle of the paper.  But, I didn't like the way the pictures looked on top of the jacket and under the belt.  So, I added pictures on the front.  Then, the left side is actually a pocket that you can pull pictures out of.  They are all attached to rope with life rafts and an anchor on the end.  You know I love interactive pages.

The right corner has a picture of one girl swimming under water.  I cut around the edges of her underwater body and it looked like she was swimming on my page.  I love it when pictures really come to life on a scrapbooking page.

You can also unbuckle the belt, swing open the right side of the vest and you'll find snapshots inside.  I added some metal eyelets to add to the real feel.  The ribbon is held tied with paper clips.  But, you could also sew them in place.  Let that sewing show too, so it looks manufactured.  This one was fun to make and I look forward to showing it to my beautiful nieces soon.  I think they'll have a lot of fun looking through their scrapbooks when they are older.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

OTR: Games & Prizes

Oooooh.  Ahhhhhh.  A fancy wheel and a table full of craft supplies, with the tags still on, can only mean one and prizes!!  Crafty Life and Style is still on the road, checking in from a 3-day scrapbooking retreat in Saratoga, NY.   Imagine a room full of ladies creating pages all morning, noon, and night.  Yep, you can literally scrapbook 24-hours a day.  Yours truly was the last person to bed both nights, heading up to the room at about 4:30am.

The weekend is both exhausting and exhilarating.  You are so overstimulated that you don't get a lot done.  But, you do create some of your best work, spurred by the lure of contests and prizes.  Nobody loves free stuff more than my friend Crafty Girl.  So, everytime a raffle winner was announced, she'd mouth her name, hoping it would bring her luck.  

The grande prize is a free retreat in the future.  We've so longed for that prize.  But, we'll take anything really.  Games have included crafty versions of plinko, wheel of fortune, and bingo.  I was lucky enough to win a small prize.  But, the major giveaways eluded us this year.

We did get three meals, two late night dessert snacks, chair massages, make-n-takes, classes, and great company.  We'll be showing you some of what we made and saw at the retreat in the coming days.  For now, we both need to catch up on some sleep before our scrapbooking days are over.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


You cannot understand the pressure Crafty Girl and I feel coming to the scrapbooking retreat each year.  Yes, it is supposed to be relaxing fun.  But something happened by year two that added a layer of stress to the whole experience...a winning streak.

We have won prizes in the photo layout contest every year.  This is the fourth year we've been coming.  There is a contest Friday and Saturday nights.  Once you start a streak...well, you don't want to break it.  Admittedly, we haven't even touched the prizes that we won in years past.  But, the pride of winning really just gives us a major creative boost.  We have literally made moving wheels on our pages, added sound, and this year lights are a possibility.  We spend half a day working on a single layout.  Sometimes it is a page we don't even really need for our books, but we know it is just a great idea.  We can't help ourselves.  We are sick with the scrapbooking fever.

Aided by a fruity cocktail...Crafty Cat was very relieved to continue the streak Friday night.  My layout of a beautiful garden in China took first place.  I'm a bit mortified about one thing.  I have been working on my China book for the past 3 1/2 years.  You all know how much work we put into scrapbooks for other people.  This is the only album I've ever made for myself and I rarely have time to work on it.  So, I bring it to the retreat each year and get a couple of layouts done.  I'm sure these judges think I have some sort of weird obsession with China.  But, these layout have handed me 1st place wins for 3 years.  First, the Great Wall, then a handmade rickshaw, and finally...the garden tribute this year.  I'm not past working on it next year with those results.  More to come.

OTR: The Creation Station

We arrived at the scrapbooking weekend retreat late Friday afternoon and unloaded two carloads of supplies at our table.

I, Crafty Cat, proudly claim the title for tallest set-up in the room.  Those are my racks of tools at our assigned table.  Because it is a small space, I even had the hotel bring us two extra round tables to bookend our row, for more storage.

Crafty Girl was embarrassed that I had done that.  She left the  room while the bellboys set up each round table, but then happily spread out tools on her side when he was done and gone.

Yes, we are ridiculous.  We know.  We don't deny it.  Admittedly, we usually have even more stuff, but the last minute decision limited us.  While we might have the biggest display, we certainly aren't the only ones who brought the whole house.

Here's a peek at the room.  Doesn't it look fun?