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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goal Setting

As we are approaching the new year I’m sure many of you are reflecting on this past year and thinking about the events that filled your year. Perhaps you're thinking about the progress you’ve made whether in your personal life or professional life. Now is the time to come up with some goals and plans for 2012. Goal setting gives you a vision and  direction to help you move forward and puts the things you want to accomplish in a clearer light.  When you are ready to begin your goal setting here are a few tips to make the process a little easier.

1) Think positively and creatively, anything that comes to your mind is fair game, don’t limit yourself, you’re brainstorming here!

2) Create a ‘master list’ of projects and goals you’d like to accomplish in the new year.

3) Keep your list of goals positive not about the things you want to eliminate or stop doing but about the things you want to replace those with.

4) Break your goals into short term and long term goals, this can make it easier and help you put your focus on the ones you want to work on first.

5) Add a timeline and a call to action for each specific goal. This may take some thought, so take your time, you can always go back and re-evaluate later.

One of my goals for 2012 is to consistently increase the number of products in my store.  Designs by Shell  A long term goal but one I can work on every day.  Here are some of my latest designs…

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Minute Homemade Gift Ideas

Well first I want to wish all my readers and visitors a wonderful Christmas and many happy moments with friends and family. For those of you who are still very busy right to the end I thought I’d share a couple of inexpensive but fun holiday gift ideas that can be made and packaged with just a little effort. The first one is a recipe I make for ‘Candy Cane Bark’ easy to package in cellophane bags and tie with a festive gift tag and ribbon. Very tasty and looks pretty too!

1 package semi sweet chocolate chips (like Hershey's morsels)
Several peppermint candy canes crushed up ( if I use the small ones usually about 15 or so)
1 tbsp. canola oil                 

First put candy canes in a zip lock bag, sometimes I double the bag so no pieces fall out! Take a kitchen mallet and smash the candy canes into little bits. If you have children that like to help this would be a good job for them! Melt chocolate chips in microwave. Not too long or they will burn, just keep checking them periodically! Stir until smooth, add the crushed candy canes and the oil and mix together! On a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper spread the mixture out. You can play with how thick or thin you want it to be! Then put this in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden up! Remove from the fridge and break into different size pieces! Package as desired.

candy cane bark 002

Another last minute gift idea to make is a recipe for Chocolate Dipped Pretzels, a little salt and a little sweetness. Again these can be packaged up in cellophane bags and tied with a pretty gift tag too!

Chocolate Pretzels 015Chocolate Pretzels 023

Approximately 40 mini pretzel knots ( I like Old Dutch Brand)
1 pkg. white chocolate chips
1/2 pkg. pure dark chocolate chips
1 - 2 tsps. canola oil
Coloured sugar or sprinkles (optional)
Place wax paper on a baking sheet and set aside. In a small but deep glass mixing bowl pour in all of the white chocolate chips. Melt in microwave until smooth. Approx. 1- 2 minutes stirring every 30 seconds so it doesn't burn. Add 1 tsp. canola oil and stir. Begin to dip pretzels one at a time, shaking off excess chocolate and lay them on the wax paper lined baking sheet. Do this until you've used up all of the white chocolate mixture. (You may need to reheat chocolate, 30 seconds occasionally to keep runny) Place baking sheet in refrigerator for a few minutes to harden chocolate covered pretzels. Once hardened you can place them in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you'd like to decorate them do this before placing in airtight container. 

Here are a few of my latest creations for my store Designs by Shell

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sharing the Christmas Spirit

December is the month when most of us think of charitable giving, reaching out to help others less fortunate than ourselves. When you look around one doesn’t  have to look far to see people in bad situations. There are tough economic challenges that many are facing. Living in Canada I feel very blessed as we have so much to be thankful for here. There are many great charities that help those that have fallen on hard times. To name a few, The Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission, Food banks in almost every city, many churches, I could go on.  At the church I attend we donate food appropriate for Christmas hampers and wrap these up for needy families in the area. A group of volunteers delivers them. We also have a program where once a month members in the church prepare 2000 sandwiches and these are delivered to the homeless in Vancouver.  There are many ways to spread the Christmas spirit not just at Christmas but all through the year. So for those who have plenty and can afford it you will be blessed by your giving. Gifts don’t have to be monetary, giving of your time can do wonders too.  A smile or just a few minutes of conversation can brighten someone’s day! Kindness matters!

I’m keeping busy as Zazzle has once again given us some great new products to design. Here are some of the latest designs I’ve been working on for my store Designs by Shell

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Practical Versus Impractical Gift Giving

Are you the type of person who tends to choose practical useful gifts for your spouse or family members or do you tend to go for the impractical but perhaps more fitting and accepted gift. It can be a dilemma sometimes knowing which way to go. Men (going out on a limb here) I think tend to gravitate to the more practical functional gifts when  shopping for their significant other, many buy things like small appliances or household things. This can be okay as long as you give something personal too. Let’s face it most women like to get a gift that pampers or makes them feel special. Perhaps it’s easier for women to shop for men as most guys do like to receive tools or household accessories but I would consider something more personal to add to this too! Shopping for kids and young adults is much easier I think! You can mix it up here with electronic gadgets, clothes and personal accessories. Try not to get too stressed out I'm sure what ever you decide will be just fine. Just a little food for thought…

Zazzle has once again introduced several new products for designers to create on. Some practical and some impractical. Here are some of the latest items I’ve been working on. Perhaps one would make a great gift for someone on your list.Designs by Shell

Saturday, December 3, 2011

7 Entertaining Christmas Movies

Do you or your family have a favourite holiday movie that you like to watch. It’s the time of year when you can pull out those old but loved Christmas classics or find a new holiday favourite. I thought I’d share this list of fun movies some for kids and some for the adults.

1) It’s a Wonderful Life – a classic holiday family movie. (1946)

2) Serendipity – (one of my favourites) a romantic comedy/drama with a happy ending.

3) A Charlie Brown Christmas – kids and adults still love this one!

4) A Christmas Story – an oldy but a goody. “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

5) White Christmas – a Bing Crosby classic, you can watch this one with the kids.

6) How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Jim Carrey is perfect in his role in this 2000 movie.

7) Miracle on 34th Street – where a department store Santa Claus claims to be the real deal. He has to prove it to turn a little girl into a real believer.

I know there are many more great holiday movies but these are just a few entertaining ones…

Here are some of my latest designs I’ve been busy filling up my shop with at Designs by Shell… stop by for a visit!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sharing Christmas Family Traditions

I love to hear the different traditions that families share during the Christmas season. Most households have a few things that they do the same every Christmas that make it extra special for those in their family. I’ll share a few of our family traditions. The first one would be that we always attend the Christmas Eve Service at our church. It’s a joyous family time of singing and hearing stories and scriptures of the ‘true meaning’ of why we celebrate the Christmas season. Another family tradition we have is our boys hang up their Christmas stocking before they head to bed on Christmas Eve. Even though the guys are older now they still love this tradition. They open them together on Christmas morning. The last one I’ll share is the tradition of the Christmas breakfast quiche that I make. I’ve been preparing this dish for many years now, although now I usually make two of them as the boys have bigger appetites now too. It’s a Broccoli, cheese dish that we usually have with English muffins and egg nogg.

Please take a moment to comment and share a tradition or two that your family likes to participate in. I love to here what other families do!  

Here are some of my latest designs for my store… Designs by Shell Hope you enjoy…