Valentine’s Day DIY Inspirations

Hi!!! Are you the type who gives out little Valentines to friends, partners and or children’s class? If yes and need some fresh ideas, check out these favorites of mine!

I only do Valentines (small, tiny even) gifts for the girls. Last year I surprised them with cupcakes that my favorite baker made but usually, I just do a card, with candies, and that’s it.

This year I want to do something special again and after going through Google and Pinterest found a few that looked easy, fun and beautiful.

1. Jovie loves Macarons and when I saw this , PERFECT!! And if you’re not into Macarons, you can use Oreos or Oreos covered with white (or whatever color) chocolate. Visit Sugar and Cloth’s blog post for complete tutorial!

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2. Another one from Sugar and Cloth! Isn’t the below ADORABLE?!??!?! And in case you’re wondering, yes I am a fan of her blog :)

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3. M loves origami and we all love fortune cookies. What’s a better way to combine the two? This project below from Minted! I think the girls would love getting little messages scattered all over the living room.

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4. Do you have A LOT of loom bands? We do!! I think the craze has died down but like you, the bands are still everywhere! So, I was thinking of grabbing a few and making the girls something like what Lolly Jane did below. Both girls have given me a band and I haven’t returned the favor.

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5. And last, Sharpie marker mugs!! BUT, if you’ve ever tried this project, it can be a bit tricky. This is why you’ll love this post by Craftaholic Anonymous, all the little tricks to make this simple project a successful one!

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Ok, off to lunch I go! Hopefully one of these project inspires you to create something beautiful and memorable for those you love.

Take care! xx

This entry was posted in Altered.

First Year of Fund Management Experience

I, the family in general, don’t do resolutions. We just never follow through with them for whatever reason. So instead of resolutions, we have little goals. I say little because we like to do baby steps with everything and if it works out great, then we do more the next month, quarter, year, etc.

Up to last year we were a bit careless with our food purchasing and we ate out quite a bit. In the US, it’s not that bad financially. Still more expensive than cooking but a bit reasonable for our pocket book. In the UK, not only are we on just one income, there is an exchange rate difference. When we were in America over the summer break, our eating out total was about $20 for lunch. We are water drinkers and so $20 is for three meals. Jovie doesn’t eat much and the girls would either get an adult meal to share or two kid’s meals. In the UK, a similar lunch would cost £20 or, due to the exchange rate, $30! Imagine how much a dinner out would be!!

That’s why I started to seriously meal plan and amazingly, meal planning has now become a part of my weekly routine. We love it and it has saved us a lot of cash!

Last year I also started to look into our personal finances. We’ve always been good at saving money and like most Americans who have/had a full-time job with benefits, we have 401Ks. But besides our statements, I have no idea what all were involved in it.

So I got to researching. And after a lot of reading, I realized that instead of Edward Jones, I can manage the funds and save the 5.75% upfront cost (front-load) every time we put new money into a fund. Example, if you invest $10,000, $575 of it would go towards fees.

Now, I have nothing bad to say about the Edward Jones guys I have worked with. They both have been lovely lovely people and I highly recommend the Warrensburg, MO office. Without my first Ed Jones man, I wouldn’t have an idea how much to invest and in what. But, after some learning, I decided that I can do it and save the 5.75%.

I don’t want to say I wasn’t afraid, I mean crap, what if we end up losing it all? But I figured that since I’ve always been good in math and there were so many lovely people in different forums that were helpful and successful that I should be ok. I did learn quite a bit and these are the tips I want to share with you in case you want to look into your 401 better or doing it yourself.

    1. Look to see how much fees each fund is costing you. You can see that there is a load of 5.75% (this is one time but it will be charged each time you put new money in) and the yearly expense to own this account is 0.70%. The later expense is the money you’re paying the fund managers to manage this fund. Last year AMCPX’s return was 8.87%. If last year was your first year of investing and you put $10,000 into this fund, your investment return was only 2.42% (8.87-5.75-0.70) for 2014.

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      Let’s compare the above to the below fund. FSTMX has no load and the yearly cost to own this account is 0.10%. The fund is an index fund. It basically means you are investing in every big company on the stock market. There is nobody picking and choosing a select few stocks and watching over their development. That’s why the expense is low.NOTE: To learn more about these two types of funds, Google active and/vs passive funds.Last year this fund returned 12.49% and so after fees, last year you would have made 12.34%!! According to Marketwatch’s fees calculator, AMCPX’s fees in 10 years time will cost you around $1,586 vs $157 for FSTMX. If you’re confused why the fee’s not $100 (being 10%), it’s because the fees are based on how much money is in the account and we can only hope that your investment will grow every year :)

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    2. Read. A LOT! Read the prospectus too. I know it’s all boring looking but from it you can see where the fund is going, what companies you’re investing in and decide if it’s something you want to keep investing in.There are many many books, websites and online forums. Some books recommended to me and that I’ve read are:
      1. The Boglehead’s Guide to Investing
      2. The Four Pillars of Investing
      3. The Intelligent Asset Allocator Portfolio

      And a few forums that I stalk and sometimes post in:

      1. Boglehead
      2. Morningstar
      3. Mr Money Mustache
      4. Early Retirement

      There are also many tools and resources that you can read online:

      1. Boglehead Wiki
      2. Fidelity’s Learning Center
      3. FIRECalc (FIRE: Financially Independent Retire Early)
    3. Don’t check your investment very often. It can be stressful watching the market go down. The stock market goes up and down every second, it’s just how it rolls, but if you’re still like us and have years to go until retirement, just let the market do its thing.
    4. Don’t time the market. Don’t just want for the market to plunge before buying. Invest regularly and your portfolio will be just fine! BUT, if you happen to be there when the market plunges and you have some extra cash, go for it. We did in 2008 and the handful of stocks that we purchased are doing quite well.
    5. The last tip is for those who have not saved yet for retirement. Even if you’re 40-years-old, start now! Let’s say you have $1,000. With $500/mo, in 25 years, aka age 65, you’ll have about $400k in your account at a 7% return.

      savings_retirement Give up coffee, soda and lunch, you can save even more!

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Last year I learned quite a bit on how to read our investments, moved funds to a different companies and made big decisions on fund allocations. This year I want to read more book and just be a bit more clever with the whole thing so that I can participate and understand what some of those folks are talking about in forums. Despite my lack of knowledge, I feel confident that I made the right decision for us and except for the first month where I moved from Edward Jones to Fidelity and Vanguard, it’s not that time consuming. I use Personal Capital to keep track of everything (online and iPhone app), it’s similar to Mint. I like Mint for banking and Personal Capital for Investments. Another great website and app is SigFig. I really like the user interface but SigFig wasn’t being friendly with TSP, the government 401k managers, and so I abandoned it.

If you are still paying off debt or not very good at managing your money, I highly recommend this software called You Need a Budget. It’s not a cheap software but they do go on sale a few times a year and usually a 10% discount year round. But even at full price, it’s worth the money! Give the software a go and see what you think!

Take care!!

Meal Planning

We’ve been meal planning for a year now. Before last year I used to just have an idea on what we’ll eat and shop for materials. I then would end up popping into the grocery store 2-3x a week and often times not using what I bought. While not expensive, they add up and in general just a waste. For example me buying a broccoli that was on sale or mushrooms that I thought I’d make for a dish but then end up not using the mushrooms because I didn’t have everything I need to make the dish.

So now, every week, with Google and Pinterest’s help, I’d spend an hour planning our week’s menu and another hour to shop. When I plan meals, I try to use an ingredient a couple times during the week. Coriander or cilantro is a good example. When you buy this it comes in a decent size bunch or packaging. So if there’s a Mexican dish that requires a bit of cilantro, I’d try to come up with another dish, i.e. curry, to add to that week’s menu. When I buy a whole chicken, I can do a couple of things with this whole chicken. I can cook it all and be done with it or I can split it into two: White and dark meat, and cook two dishes or also use the carcass to make broth. We try to also incorporate a lot of veg into our meals which then eliminates the need to use a whole lot of meat.

With meal planning not only have we been eating better, our food budget has averaged about £65 (depending on exchange rate, between $100-$110) per week. We try to do organic or sustainable and free range at least for meat if possible. For veg, I rummage through the sale bin first. If nothing there, I’ll just buy whatever that will fit the meal for that day IF the meal doesn’t already have veg in it. We don’t drink soda, smoke or eat a lot of junk food so my cart is mostly filled with grocery goods. We also make a lot of things from scratch and only when I know I’ll be pressed for time that I’ll buy pre-made sauces. On occasion I’d buy pizza and already made meals. The later is for backup when I didn’t get a chance to cook before M needs to go to gymnastics.

Here’s this week’s meal:

Monday: Spaghetti
Bought some cheese for this and used the below to make the sauce. Made this last night and it was YUM!

Tuesday: Soto Lamongan (an Indonesian chicken soup dish) Lemon grass and kaffir lime needed here

Wednesday: Thai green Curry
Lemon grass and kaffir lime needed here also. I have my own recipe for this but I can’t think of it on top of my head. BUT, it’s more less like this one below except I add two stalks of lemon grass and 3 kaffir lime leaves to the curry.

Thursday: Shrimp and Quinoa And the rest of the cheese will be used in this dish also

Friday: Vietnamese Slow Coocker Chicken

Beef Bourgignon This dish needs wine, and the rest will be consumed by me ;) I do have the Julia Child’s cookbook to do this recipe but if you don’t, here’s is one posted online

Sunday: Pork Chops (was going to be roast but the meat was expensive this week)

That’s how I meal plan and since I am a confident cook, I do often remove or substitute ingredients. For example I may use parmesan for my cheeses even though one recipe ask for cheddar. BUT, I only do it if I know the taste and texture won’t be so off. Or if a recipe requires galangal, which I can only get at Asian markets, I’d often just go without since the food will still taste good just not as authentic.

Want more? Visit my Pinterest food board:

Follow Savitri Wilder’s board Food & Recipes on Pinterest.

Gluten Free Dog Treat Recipe

Gluten Free Dog Treats

 

I am here chuckling to myself. Who makes gluten free dog treats, right?

But we do.

And not just cause it’s cool or what our crunchy friends are doing. We do it because our dog is allergic to many grains.

Before making this recipe I scoured many via Googling and Pinterest. After looking at a few recipes, which I saved to my doggy Pinterest board, I figured that as long as the dough ends up like a sugar cookie dough and baked until it’s dry, the treats should have the right texture and crunchiness. I also figured that putting things like peanut butter, cheese, broth, bacons, pumpkin puree and even pre-made baby food are also acceptable (for storage and health reasons).

After a bit of trial and error, I came up with this recipe:

2 cups rice flour
1 egg
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup hot broth (I used lamb for mine but chicken or beef will do too)

Directions:

  1. If you don’t have pre-made broth, dilute 1 bouillon cube to 3/4 cup of hot water, or, if you have leftover bones/chicken carcass, boil those.
  2. In a bowl, mix the flour, egg, peanut butter, cheese and broth. Knead until smooth.
  3. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough (don’t forget to flour the pin and area you’re rolling to prevent sticking) to about 1/4″. You can then cut to pieces or use a cookie cutter. Our treats were about 1.5″ diameter. Just the right size for a Lhasa or Cocker size dogs.
  4. Bake in a lightly greased pan at 350, 180 or gas mark 4 for 25 minutes or until dry (if your treats are bigger, go at least 30 minutes).

That’s it! It took minutes to mix using things that we have around the house and our dog, Max, LOVES the treats and I think it was his best Christmas present ever!

Gluten Free Dog Treats

Oh, if you’re wondering how long the treats last stored in an airtight container, I’m not sure. It’s been 11 days since I made the treats and they still look and smell like how they were almost two weeks ago. I’ll update in a few days or weeks on the longevity of these treats.

The recipe above made about 48 little treats and I am sure it cost less than $2.

If you give this recipe a go, do share your results and whether or not your fur baby liked the treats :)

Ta ta for now!!

This entry was posted in Recipe.

Happy 2015!

seasonsgivings
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Wow, where did the time go?!?! Before you go on reading, I want to thank all of you who has been following my blog. It means a lot to me to know that somewhere out there somebody is reading, or skimming, through my posts. It makes me feel a bit sane thinking that I haven’t been talking to myself all these years ;) For those new to my blog and coming via the blog hop, welcome!! I hope we can get to know each othis this 2015! You can read a bit about me and if this blog is something to your liking, do feel free to follow me! You can see all my social media links on the right or later on this post!

A bit of reflection… Last year has been quite good to us. We were given time, health, laughter, friendship, adventure and many many fantastic memories. A few highlights from 2014 were:

Our trip to Malta. What a beautiful country with a lot of history and things to see and do!!! Loved every minute of our time there, even though it wasn’t as hot as we’d like it to be (we were just a bit greedy and wanted the temp to be mid 80s instead of love 70s :D). We rented an apartment in the middle of fantastic restaurants, public transport and shops and spent many hours just sitting around drinking and eating.

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A visit to see hubby’s family and a surprise stop at Disneyworld! The girls thought that was THE BEST week ever and they cannot wait to go back! Before Disneyworld, I was not a fan of amusement parks. But this trip changed me. We all loved being there and having a five-years-old who still truly believes in fairies and magic with you made the experience extra special. The experience was not cheap (although the military rates sure helped) and worth every penny!

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This was Jovie’s highlight. We saw these ladies at rope drop, this parade, the sing-a-long, and a fast pass personal meet and greet moment. You’d think those were enough but no, we had to come home with a few Elsas, Annas and an Olaf!

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2014 was a great year for M’s gymnastics. She won a few medals and acquired many new skills. She’s now training for UK level 4, more less USAG level 7, and looking forward to another great competition year! Jovie also started training last October and while loving it, we have no idea how far she’ll go. Stay tune on this one. It’s not due to lack of talent, she’s got plenty of it, but she’s one to change her mind just like that.

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We did a bit of traveling in England too. The oh so beautiful Cotswold.

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And maybe one of my most favorite town: Whitby. Just a gorgeous coastal town that inspired many authors, Bram Stoker being the most well known.

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Then the most fabulous craft fair that I have been lucky to be a part of: Sophie’s Christmas Fair. This year we made a bit over £3000 and all that money went into the Brain Tumour Charity. Besides organizing, a couple friends and I also made a few things and had our own stall. All profit went into the charity and one special craft friend, Amy Tsuruta, donated a big box of cards to sell also!!

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So that’s that. Our quite lovely 2014 and we look forward to what 2015 has in store!!

Anyhow, if you came here via the blog hop, I don’t have a giveaway for just one person to win. Instead, I have created these few bits of graphics images for you to use this coming Valentine’s day or for just because I love you day.  I hope you love what you see here and if you ever create something, please link up to me or message me. I’d love to see what you create!

IF you want to follow my blog and see what other freebies, tutorial, or just random European adventure that I may post, feel free to follow me via

And without further ado, here is the link to download the files.

download

When printing, if images are going off the paper, just select something that more less says “fit image to paper” and that should do it. After printing, you can use the printables as is or you can do a bit of embellishing like my examples below. Have fun and thank you so so much for stopping by!! Next stop: Savannah O’Gwynn

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Complete hop list:

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Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L

https://www.scrapbook-adhesives.com/blog

Lawn Fawn

http://lawnfawn.blogspot.com

Spellbinders Paper Arts

https://spellbinderspaperarts.com/Community/Blog.aspx

Reverse Confetti

www.reverseconfetti.com/blog

Clearsnap

blog.clearsnap.com

Ice Resin

iceresin.com/icequeen

My Favorite Things

http://www.mftstamps.com/blog/

Technique Tuesday

http://techniquetuesday.typepad.com/

Paper Smooches

http://papersmooches.blogspot.com

Sweet & Sassy Stamps

http://sweetnsassystamps.blogspot.com/

Stamp Simply Ribbon Store

http://notimetostamp.blogs.splitcoaststampers.com/

Avocado Arts

www.avocadoarts.blogspot.com

A Jillian Vance Design

http://blog.ajillianvancedesign.com/

Latina Crafter

http://latinacrafter.blogspot.com

Die-Versions

http://www.die-versions.com

Unity Stamp Company

http://theunitystampco.blogspot.com

Splitcoast Stampers

www.splitcoaststampers.com

Verve Stamps

www.vervestamps.blogspot.com

Latisha Yoast

http://crafteebee.blogspot.com

AJ Otto

http://thewillowgarden.blogspot.com

Vera Yates

http://lingshappyplace.blogspot.com

Julia Stainton

www.juliastainton.com/blog

Judy Hayes

http://judyhayesdesign.blogspot.com

Kim Watson

http://kj-starre.blogspot.com/

Yana Smakula

http://www.zrobysama.com.ua/?lang=en

Chari Moss

www.mossymade.com

Taheerah Atchia

http://littlemisst-papercraft.blogspot.com/

Shemaine Smith

http://shemainesmith.blogspot.com

Emily Spahn

http://justem.typepad.com/

Kimberly Crawford

http://kimberly-crawford.blogspot.com/

Lee Murphy

http://www.luvleestamper.blogspot.com/

Lovely Linda

http://lovelylindascraftcentral.blogspot.com.au/

Laura Williams

http://www.lauralooloo.blogspot.com

Lori Tecler

http://inkingaloud.blogspot.com

Chaitali Narla

http://cutscropscreativity.com

Darsie Bruno

http://craftingwithdarsie.blogspot.com/

Lydia Fiedler

http://understandblue.blogspot.com/2014/12/one-last-gift-for-2014.html

Giovana Smith

http://giovana-believe.blogspot.com/

Teri Anderson

http://terisplace.wordpress.com/

Beth Pingry

http://bethpingry.com

Dina Kowal

http://mamadinis.blogspot.com

Daniela Dobson

http://danieladobson.blogspot.com

Lisa Adametz

http://papergrace.com

Piali Biswas

http://touchofcreation.blogspot.com/

Kelli Green

http://cajunstampingqueen.blogspot.com

Keri Lee Sereika

www.pinklemonade.typepad.com

Jocelyn Olson

http://redballooncards.blogspot.com/

Julee Tilman

http://poeticartistry.blogspot.com

Michelle Woerner

http://stopandstamptheroses.blogspot.com/

Lori McAree

http://smilingwhilestamping.blogspot.com/

Theresa Momber

http://craftingtheweb.blogspot.com

Anita Autore

http://cardsandcoffee.blogspot.com/

Melody Rupple

http://apapermelody.blogspot.com

Sean Fetterman

http://fettermandesigns.blogspot.com/

Bunny Vance

http://www.bunnyrunswithscissors.com/

Tricia Traxler

http://simplystamping.blogspot.com/

Lisa Arana

dahlhouse-designs.com

Lorena Cantó

http://paperella.typepad.com

Amy Tsuruta

http://tsurutadesigns.blogspot.com

Jodi Collins

www.stampingalatte.blogspot.com

Tenia Nelson

Http://jazzypaper.blogspot.com

Kelly Klapstein

www.kellycreates.ca

Jill Cornell

http://jillcornell.blogspot.com/

Emily Leiphart

http://www.leiphartonart.blogspot.ca

Becky Williams

http://onescrappinmama.blogspot.com

Margie Higuchi

http://www.margieh.blogspot.com/

Lee Ann Barrett

www.greytpapercrafts.blogspot.com

Lisa Hoel

http://creativejuicefreshsqueezed.blogspot.com/

Heather Campbell

parkermolly.blogspot.com

Lisa Henke

http://mylittlecreativeescape.blogspot.com

Sheri Holt

http://www.myshericards.blogspot.com

Michele Kovack

http://chelemom.blogspot.com

Ashley Harris

ashleyharris.typepad.com

Sharon Harnist

http://paperfections.typepad.com

Lori Craig

www.loricraig.com

Nicole Nowosad

www.justnicks.blogspot.com

Laurel Beard

www.laurelbeard.org

Michele Boyer

http://papercuts.blogs.splitcoaststampers.com/

Christiana Reuling

http://christygetscrafty.blogspot.com/

Laurie Schmidlin

www.justgivemestamps.typepad.com

Jennifer Priest

Hydrangeahippo.com

Stacey Schafer

http://stampinwithstacey.blogspot.com

Heidi Blankenship

http://embellished-dreams.blogspot.com/

Heather Pulvirenti

http://heatherpulvirenti.blogspot.com

Anita Madden

http://www.anitasdesigns.blogspot.com/

Gloria Stengel

http://www.gloriascraps.blogspot.com/

Sarah Gough

www.thinkingstamps.com

Rachel Kleinman

www.rwkrafts.com

Natalie Dever

www.dougnat.blogspot.com

Lorine Mason

www.lorinemason.com/blog

Loretta Lock

http://lovetocreate.blogspot.ca/

Meihsia Liu

http://meihsia.blogspot.com

Sarah Martina Parker

www.sarahmartina.com

Angeline Choo

http://scrappyscrappy.blogspot.com

Christine Emberson

hope-chances.blogspot.co.uk

Karen Hightower

http://karenscreativemess.blogspot.com

Sabrina Alery

www.sabrinaalery.com

Debbie Seyer

http://www.debbieseyer.com/my_weblog/

Dana Joy

http://www.gotjoycreations.blogspot.com

Cat Tidwell

http://catdidit.blogspot.com/

Deborah Saaranen

http://deborahlynnesdreamincolor.blogspot.com

Ceal Pritchett

Simplybeautifulcreations.blogspot.com

Lisa Lara

http://lisaslifelines.blogspot.com/

Colleen Schaan

www.distinctivetouches.com

Anabelle O’Malley

www.anabelleom.blogspot.com

Megan Hoeppner

http://www.meganhoeppner.com/blog

Monika Davis

www.stampnmad.typepad.com

Marisa Ritzen

http://rosemary-reflections.blogspot.ca

Wanda Guess

http://www.ablogcalledwanda.com/a-blog-called-wanda/

Jenny Peterson

http://mylittlestampinspot.blogspot.ca

Annette Allen

http://myclevercreations.blogspot.com

Gracie Chavez

http://gracielliedesign.blogspot.com/

Christina Griffiths

http://flowersribbonsandpearls.blogspot.co.uk

Niki G.

http://notjustgreetingshawaii.blogspot.com/

Kristi Schurr

http://kristispapercreations.blogspot.com/

Jennifer Ingle

http://justjingle.blogspot.com

Karolyn Loncon

http://www.karolyns-paperkraft.blogspot.com/

Camille Robinson

http://cammierobinson.blogspot.com

Lindsey M-P

http://bashfulblogging.blogspot.ca

Kathy Clement

http://www.kathybydesign.com

Maria Levine

http://riacreations.blogspot.com

Savitri Wilder <—– YOU ARE HERE!!

www.scrapbit.com

Savannah O’Gwynn

www.savannahland2.blogspot.com

Teresa Horner

www.victorianpaperqueen.blogspot.com

Laurel Seabrook

http://want2scrap.blogspot.ca/

Libby Hickson

http://stampinlibby.blogspot.com/2014/12/seasons-givings-blog-hop.html

Yvonne Van de Grijp

www.phoebeez.blogspot.com

Alice Wertz

http://aliceslittlewonderland.blogspot.com

Leigh Penner

www.leighpenner.blogspot.com

Lisa Lee

http://inchiearts.typepad.com/_

Tina McDonald

www.tinamcd-mysanity.blogspot.com

Nina Yang

Http://waffleflower.com/blog

Angel Johns

www.mywholestampinworld.com