Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lolite #4

My take on ScrapbookSteals Mid-week Mojo Lolite #4 :


Also Lolite #3 & #2 for safe keeping since I didn't get them up earlier:
 
<--- This was technically designed as a 2 page layout but works as 2 separate layouts.  The left side is the my SIL's wedding ceremony & the right (this one) is afterwards.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

FAIL!...well not quite

Man Alive!! Has it really been over 2 months since I last had a few to myself to think & write?!  It doesn't seem like it & yet it feels like FOREVER since I've done anything just for me...which in turns feels like a MEGA fail to me.   I know from (too much) experience that if I don't carve out that alone-introspective-me-time then everything will far apart & that's not good for me, my ever suffering hubby or the poor kids.  And yet it's not really a fail because while it's true I haven't had time to myself or done anything for myself; it's not like I haven't done anything fun or fulfilling.  So while it could always be better it's not failure <-- I have to constantly remind myself of this!

And of course my alone/ me-time is usually spent crafting, which there has been no shortage of here lately.  I spent most of Sept & Oct making Halloween costumes for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.  And considering my forte lies in paper - not cloth - crafting that was a HUGE challenge.  But I actually like how they came out, as unusual as that is for me, of course I could nit-pick all the things that could be better but they were still pretty friggin' cute!

Mickey, Minnie, Donald & Daisy in their Halloween Garb
Inspiration from disneystore,com; Minnie costume was bought :-)


Better view of Dillon...I mean Mickey!

The front of our house is incredibly boring & I'm continually trying to improve the look of it - but of course with very little "extra" funds.  An easy way to spruce up the front door at least is wreaths, so I decided to make some new ones:

Halloween



And "Harvest"/ Fall

And then started on Christmas gifts; sneak peek a gift box for a card or other small gift:


And now I must be off to dinner to celebrate my 6 - SIX - year old's birthday - Now when did THAT happen?!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Aquamarine #10

Entry for ScrapbookSteals Mid-Week Mojo Aquamarine #10:

Photo taken with my phone so not the greatest but hey at least it's done! From my sister-in-law & her husband's wedding (on a cruise), they celebrated their 5th anniversary this year *oops*.  I don't know why I have been dragging my feet on this album, I guess kid pages are just more fun ;-).  But I've committed myself to each week using mid-week mojo to finally give this event the attention & preservation it deserves.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Aquamarine #8

Quick post tonight for my second mid-week mojo layout completed on time ... 2 in a row, on a roll now :-)

This week's sketch can be found on Scrapbook Steal's blog.  When I first saw the sketch I thought of the poor forgotten wedding cruise album from 2008, I just ordered prints for it.. 2 of which are from Ft. Lauderdale & with some nautical embellishments I just ordered from Studio Calico they seemed like a perfect fit.  ....

Well due to the holiday weekend the prints haven't arrived yet & I really don't like pre-making pages without the corresponding prints...weird I know, for some reason I don't have the same issue with albums meant to be gifts (for the recipient to fill in).  Anyways, I decided to make Dillon his first official personal page instead.  I love this picture & the memories surrounding it but it's just been sitting around collecting dust...what's that you say? not even in a drawer?!  Indeed it's true!...but now it has the place of honor it deserves.


This picture is funny because it tells the exact opposite story of what really happened, Dillon looks so "meh why am I here!", almost miserable even but in reality he loved the whole trip taking in the colors & especially the music!   I love the Collectable line by My Mind's Eye, I think I have at least 90%  of it by now, so I made this page entirely from it (excluding Disney memorabilia).  Now I don't usually mix colors & patterns this much but it's become a big trend so I tried my hand at it & fairly pleased with the results ;-).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

20 Questions

I've been mulling over a different topic but recently I read a friend of mine's blog http://emilys-little-world.blogspot.com/.  She's on a mission this week to write a post everyday & Wednesday's post was "20 Questions" she came up & then answered.  Contemplating these questions is more pleasurable & relaxing then my other nebulous ponderings at the moment ;-).

Question 1: What are you watching these days?

Several months ago with sequestration looming we discontinued our satellite service so have been limited to what's available on Amazon Prime (John still qualified for student membership at half cost).  I found the first few seasons of classic Hawaii-Five-O but those ran out a week ago and have been rewatching Covert Affairs.  John & I (re)watch old seasons of Doctor Who, anxiously awaiting the anniversary special & new season :-D

Question 2: What is your guilty pleasure these days?

Hmm...I used to use Dillon's nap/ Erin's quiet time as cleaning time but lately I've taken to watching an episode or two of Covert Affairs instead.  I'm such a Type A, neurotic, hyper individual that it's very hard to sit down & relax so I end up self-combusting at some point & it takes at least a week to get back to "normal".  One day I had finally locked the kids up gotten them to their quiet time & collapsed on the couch unable to even think clearly, I can't stand quiet so I turned CA on for noise...and slowly I started to unwind & relax.  Once the kids got up I was refreshed & ready to be "muma" again.  So it's 'guilty' because my house has been a lot less clean of late but oh well, there will be a time for clean houses later in life ;-)

The guilty pleasure started innocently enough...I had done 2 gift scrapbook albums & about half the Disney 2012 album (almost all Flower & Garden pages) and was really low on paper.  So at John's insistence I went to my favorite site (Scrapbook Steals) and order some that I needed.  Which is all well & good...even better with spousal approval...but it's morphed into the 'guilty' category because I don't really need more now but I still want.  Fall is my favorite season and the fall lines are so gorgeous that I just can't help getting a 'few' more ;-)

Question 3: What are you proud of?

I am ridiculously proud of my little girl & how she relates to other people.  Other adults in her life adore her because she is sweet, intelligent, respectful & polite which I love but even better is how she treats her peers.  I was afraid that she was too social & too friendly, not really grasping the whole friends, acquaintances, unfavorable individuals, strangers concept so I sat down to have a long talk with her.  What came out of it both surprised & humbled me...and yes made me very proud....she explained that she knew there are different "categories" of people but if you're not friendly or don't treat everyone nicely then you would never know if they could be a good friend or not.  Furthermore even "bad" kids or kids who act inappropriately deserve to be played with & treated nicely.  This is out of a FIVE year old!  Proud doesn't even begin to cover it!  I certainly hope she always maintains & continues to develop this attitude!

Question 4: What are you unhappy with?

*sigh* Congress...Healthcare...ability to visit my grandma...ability to give my brother what he needs & deserves...budget: I coupon. scrimp/ save, plan everything down to a cent and still something else comes up...my confidence/ self-esteem....& of course the FL climate

Question 5: If you could take a trip alone anywhere, all expenses paid where would you go?

Alone?...hmm...I haven't gone anywhere alone in almost 7 years!  But I think I would go somewhere in the Rockies, or maybe up in the Pacific Northwest, somewhere to hike and climb and bike without having to worry about little ones keeping up or carrying on an adult conversation.  To be sure I love John & my kids but for me nature - true nature - is a private, soul refreshing thing.  Nothing better then not having to go anywhere but to just follow your own compass - no one to consult - no compromises to be made - no worry of plans being changed.  I spent a good part of my university & upperclassman high school days wandering, exploring & thinking/ philosophizing in north & eastern AL.  I long for those days of aimless wanderings & the smell of mountain air again...ok so AL has hills rather then mountains but that's why I would go out west to the real mountains :-P

Question 6: If you could take a trip with John anywhere, all expenses paid where would you go?

Ireland no doubt, the only part of Western Europe I haven't seen (or any part of British Isles) and my ancestral home.  Our wedding was Celtic 'themed' and we always talk about going there for a milestone anniversary but who knows if we can ever afford it at this rate.  I have this fantasy about renting a couple of horses somewhere & riding about the quaint villages I see in books, horseback riding or hiking allows for a much richer visceral experience then touring by car.  After awhile in the villages, we'd hit up the big cities on the way back to the airport to tour the architecture, shops & of course pubs!

Question 7: If you could take a trip with family anywhere, all expenses paid where would you go?

We go to Disney every year -one of the few advantages of FL! - so if all expenses were paid I'd take them far away from the Gulf Coast, rich in history with new experiences & food to discover...maybe somewhere in Europe or I've heard that non-touristy parts of New Zealand & Austrailia are great for kids.

Question 8: What are your current projects?

Oh what don't I have going on?  Let's see I finished Disney 2012, I finally ordered prints from my sister-in-law's wedding cruise in 2008 & have the paper/ embellishments/ adhesive  for that album,...I still have Erin's 3rd, 4th & 5th years to scrap...poor Dillon doesn't have a single page to his name (excepting Disney ones)... I have 2 - no 3 books in progress...haven't edited any pictures this year...entryway/ hallway/ kids' bathroom still needs painted, shutters need repainted (I HATE "country" green especially against red brick!)...art for our master is far from finished...joined our school's PET (like a PTO) so now I'm helping with all their projects to worry about & fit into my schedule...oh & then there's that whole GRE/ graduate school/ professional development/ what the heck am I going to do once Dillon's in school thing that I have no clue what to do about.

Question 9: What grosses you out?

Dillon isn't night-time trained yet so he still wears a diaper to bed, 5 out of 7 mornings he has his 'morning constitutional' before he's truly awake & unable to get the bathroom...ugh...yeah toddler leavings are far different then infant!

Old sippy cups, in our hot & humid climate it doesn't take much to curdle milk or even juice quickly even in an insulated cup!

Wet paper...just blech!

Question 10: What do you want to change?

Besides the obvious geographical & work location?  I wish I could be less neurotic, sure in a way it 'defines' me & I would be a different person otherwise but seems like that would be better then the status quo.  I wish I could work out my extended family's issues, i.e. they have the problems not I have a problem with them.  And I want to be able to run & swim like I could before kids, these stiff & swollen joints is for the birds. (<--- that's the correct phrase right?)

Question 11: How's the new house working?

Well we've been in our "new" house for 2 years now :-P.  It's certainly nicer then where we were living when Erin was little, the kids have plenty of space to play while still allowing John & I space for our study.  We have a HUGE yard - well at least by our area's standards, my Midwestern relatives laugh at it.  I'd still like our kitchen to be bigger & nicer but to change it is so expensive that it's a looong way off. 

Also I find it hilarious that we bought our house for the zoned elementary school & then ended up enrolling at an out-of-zone school (on waiver)!

Question 12: What's new with your work?

Well considering I'm a domestic engineer ( ;-) ) I'd say it has it's good days & bad days lol.  My "real" work then I left after Erin no longer exists, at least not in our area - although my understanding is it's pretty well universal.  So I have nothing to go back to which relates to my graduate school problem but I believe my cousin & dear John (haha) when they say it'll all work out eventually.

Question 13: What's the hardest part of having three two kids?

Definitely trying to make sure that they have as equal as possible experiences.  My brother & I (5.5. yrs apart) are close and love each other but it's like we were raised in separate households/ generations.  I don't want that for my kids but of course some differences can't be helped.  Erin spent most of her first 4 years between here & Dayton area OH - she got a lot of aunt/ uncle/ grandparent time, spent a lot of time in discovery museums/ gardens/ zoos etc.  But Dillon pretty much doesn't know anything but our little microcosm of the Emerald Coast & it's hard to find things for him to do here but I try.

Question 14: What is the best part of having three two kids?

Watching them interact with each other and seeing how they're so similar but totally different.  With one kid I almost felt like I was "posing" or faking through this motherhood thing but two feels so much better, a fuller & richer experience.  I feel much more confident in my mothering choices & decisions now.

Question 15: What are five things you want?

1. Security - in our paycheck, in John's position, in our country's economic & defense future

2. Tranquility - to try and slow down & appreciate the minutiae of daily of life that I miss flying by at warp speed, I know one day I will miss it & hate myself for letting it slip away.

3. A Chipotle burrito & a Penn Station cookie, neither of which are available within hundreds of miles.

4. DOCTOR WHO!!!!  Seriously I can't wait any longer, once Numb3rs went off the air (*sob*) it has been one of few sources of geeky tv.  Once I get that then I want Sherlock (not Elementary) to come back :-D

5. My future self - or one of my kid's future selves - to comeback in time & reassure me I'm making the right choices concerning their educations.

Question 16: What is one of your recent "pure happy" moments?

Driving up to Auburn/ Atlanta 2 weeks ago, I was so at peace and everytime I looked in my rear view & see those two faces I couldn't help but grin.  Part it was the excitement of going "home", I've lived in a lot of places & I have spent several years in one stretch at different locations but none of them ever felt like my beloved Auburn.  From my first week of university - although not the first day - I felt comfortable, accepted & free.  I choose to be there, the military didn't send me, it was the only place affordable, I didn't rely on anyone else to tell me where to go.  And choosing to go back years after I graduated brought back that same exhilarated feeling.  Also it was "pure happy" because I was alone with the kids, I never tried a road trip longer then an hour one-way without John before.  But here I was confident, independent & in charge which felt amazing.  And lastly because the kids were so excited to go, Dillon thanked me for buckling him in & giving him the leapster, Erin wanted to know everything we were going to & then she thanked me.  

Question 17: What are five blessings in your life?

1. Home - a house to call our own, not where we geographically want to be but it's ours & permanent it's not transitional & nor reliant on anyone's else good grace (well ok except the bank :-P)

2. John - 7 years ago when I met a geeky USAF lieutenant, I never could've guessed where we'd be today.  He's my partner - my equal & never lets me forget it.  When we first started dating I thought he was wonderful for accepting my baby pup despite not being a "dog person" but he's an even more wonderful father, cheerleader, caretaker & breadwinner.  I was never one of those girls who dreamed of a husband but I can't imagine life without him now.

3. My kids, even on their worst days they are my world & have taught me more then I can ever teach them.  I try to make the conscious effort to appreciate them, tell & show them how important they are.

4. Small luxuries, despite one federal income & a tight budget we're still able to do a lot.  I can get new paper here & there, buy the kids books, provide fresh (mostly) organic food & take an annual trip to Disney - which for a 99% of the world is a HUGE luxury but again gotta love resident & military rates ;-)

5. Erin's teachers - may seem a bit odd but I do feel extraordinarily lucky & blessed to them in our lives.  I love how she graduated PreK but hasn't left the radar of her PreK teachers, they see her everyday & talk to her.  When I expressed concerns about the non-challenging work they took it upon themselves to speak to her K teacher & shared their experiences [with Erin] and examples of her "PreK" work that was actually from the 1st grade curriculum.  Even better her K teacher listened to them & then came to me asking what else she could do to make school an engaging not boring experience.  And of course like any good employees they take their cues from there 'boss', our principal who is also wonderful.  I truly feel like they are my partners in this journey, willing to support me just as much as her.

Question 18: What are five of your favorite things?

1. Echo Park paper...seriously it's like crack at the moment!

2. My 'baby' pup, Duncan, who this year will be a canine senior citizen of 8!

3. My new jacket, it was expensive (by my standards) & still be another couple months down here before I can wear it but I love it.  It's a small luxury in tight times plus it looks great & feels even better!

4.Dillon's "pick one!" game...so not really a "thing" but I love it. he's so adorable & grins like a leprechaun when you play along.  I seriously need to snap some pictures & scrap it before he outgrows it.

5. Cards/ pictures/ stories from Erin, I'm soaking in all this time that I'm the center of her thoughts because I know it will end all to soon.  Even when she gives me 3 in a row that say that same thing, I still can't help but smile :-)

Question 19: Five favorite songs right now

1. Barefoot Blue Jean Night - Jake Owen

2. Bruises - Train

3. Friday Night - Eric Paslay

4. Cruise - Florida Georgia Line

5. Beat of the Music - Brett Elderidge 

Question 20: What is next?

Well since I got involved in this & John gave up on me (to make dinner), I'll be responsible for cleaning up the kids after dinner & putting them to bed.  Then it'll be workout time, followed by shower & hopefully some scrapping ...but may just watch more Who ;-)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Aquamarine #7

Whew it's been crazy around here lately!  My plethora of scrapping time has all but evaporated (knew it was too good to last!) ... BUT I have finally finished a Mid-Week-Mojo challenge by the deadline!  Which is the very first time in the 3 years or so that I've been following it...is that sad?...oh well, such is the fate of an USAF wife/ young childrens' mother ;-) - point is I have finished one now.

I was trying to figure out how to recreate the crepe paper strip look - since I didn't have any - but nothing else quite looked right, the design really needs that texture.  Then @ Target I found an American Craft's collection...Dear Lizzie I think... & it had crepe paper in it!  The colors were perfect for scrapping Erin's journey in Pixie Hollow :-)


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Keeping busy

Blessed with (mostly) well-behaved kids who (mostly) entertain themselves lately, I've been able to work in a lot of crafting time. And when I say "a lot" I mean more then the last 3 years combined!  I've made 6 cards for various purposes & nearly finished the Disney 2012 album, only 4 left!  Forget runner's high - I'm on a crafting high :-D (...and no not from sniffing the glue :-P).

There are projects like Winnie-the-Pooh or awhile ago Rapunzel that are perfect for preserving the moment at hand or personality of the individual and I LOVE them for that.  But every once in awhile the stars align & upon project completion I look at it and it almost glows (...no I swear not sniffing anything!).  It glows because it doesn't just preserve the story or the person in the picture but the whole end product is greater then the sum of it's part.  In truth this is what all scrapbookers/ crafters want out of every project but I find it a very hard thing to achieve.  Quite likely because -as John & anyone else who knows me will say - I'm my own worst critic, convinced that everything I do is flawed in some extent and will never come close to another's work.  Yes I know, I should take self esteem 101 - but that's why the "stars align" moments are so special :-)

This is yet another installment in Disney 2012, and another of Dillon and of course it has a story.  John & I got our wires crossed, so we ended up with an extra FastPass to the Princess Royal Court and figured why waste it.  So John went in with him but the poor boy was more unsure of the princesses then the furry characters!  He wouldn't even reach out to them but he still enchanted the ladies & Princess Aurora awarded him with his first kiss!
 I wanted this page to have a "royal" look while not being covered in princesses, castles, pink etc...after all this is about a boy and John would likely shoot me anyways :-P.

So I found this black & ivory diamond paper that (to me) looks regal but wasn't sure how to put it all together
 until I got the Box of Scrap.  The Echo Park "Times & Seasons" paper was the perfect complement.

^^I think the fussy cutting along the bottom came out nice too ;-)

 A zoom in of the details: Popped the title up & made a rosette out of a scrap.  I couldn't make a lot about royalty without a crown at least but I didn't have the right embellishment...because me & Mr. Cricut were having an argument that day.  So I cut a crown out of Disney Princess patterned paper, inked it in silver * covered it with silver embossing powder & viola! the perfect touch :-D
Ahh I just simply love that ^^ layout, even John said "now that I love!" when I should it to him and again he's a man that doesn't care about this stuff as much so I know it made an impression on him!  Maybe it wouldn't win any competitions but it's a favorite in my book (no pun intended!) :-)

So being blessed with time on my hands (*gasp*) & riding high off my love for that layout, I decided to make another card.  Now like I said I've made several lately out of need but I don't really like card making.  My skills in 12 x 12 format never seem to shrink down very well ...or at least to my way of thinking (now about that class *sigh*).  Anyways I picked up a Jolee embellishment pack @ Target on clearance & the colors reminded me of - you guessed it products from the Box of Scrap - Bright Side by Lawn Fawn to be exact :-P.  This was also a case of simple techniques & arrangement for big bang; layered 3 different BS papers (each with a different border cut) , topped with 2 layer BS square & embellishments, lettering from BS & layered two embellishments to make bird.
.   

 After the front turned out so nice, I couldn't see do just a basic greeting & signature inside.  So I watermarked a picture of my Grandma that I love - first time she held Dillon (first great-grandson).  And over the top quote from Judy Garland "“For it was not into my ear you whispered but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” .  Then printed it onto vellum to maintain that ethereal look.  A small heart from same collection & sign with vellum pen and DONE! :-)
-      

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Different ways to same endpoint

You see this boy here?:





<--- How could anyone possibly say "no" to this adorable, larger-then-life face?










Well unfortunately we do a lot ....I know what you're thinking and no I don't mean in the usual 'a parent has to say no to set boundaries/ limits/ rules etc' kind of way;  I mean in the 'older sister can do it but you can't, gee isn't it tough' kind of way...because that adorable light-of-my-life little boy has issues and a lot of them :-(  Now granted his issues are far from unsurmountable and there are countless children who have far worse problems but still it's never fun to see your kid suffer to any extent.  His problems started from the day he was born & have just started to taper off, for awhile I was either calling our nurses' line/ pediatrician or driving down every single week (90 mins round trip!).  Our pharmacist came to know just about everything about us because we were there so often & of course Erin loves to talk.  Every conversation with my own mother & (retired nurse) Grandma revolved around him & whether or not I should push harder for answers; he seemed so miserable all the time, grew so slow & didn't communicate but all just "within normal limits" (I've come to hate that phrase) so our pediatrician was reluctant to do too much intervention.  But eventually we did wind up in the offices of an immunologist & pulmonologist & began to sort through his issues.  I have a feeling speech & developmental consults are still in our future but one day at a time :-P.  With daily allergy medication, regular nebulizer , limited time outdoors/ in direct sun & a severe dietary shift, we finally started to see results; he's happier, communicates, breathes normally/ doesn't get winded easily & started to put on weight.

So in the latter third of his short life we have started to have this great turnaround but did you key on why... hmm...? Allergy/ asthma are fairly easily to deal with, he came by those problems 'honestly' as they say (yours truly oh yay!) but oh the dietary...  Because he's not allergic to just one thing, oh no that would be too easy! ... or even a few obscure easy to avoid things..he's allergic to major groups:
---- all forms of dairy
---- all soy
----oats & barley
----shellfish & while not a true allergy he doesn't seem to process fish at all
------- in fact the only major allergy he doesn't have is to peanuts, oh but wait Erin has that one so yeah :-/

When the doctor was going through this list I began to think 'what in the world is this poor kid going to eat?!' & the doctor - obviously reading my mind - said "it's worse then you think, we don't commonly think about it but soy & dairy derivatives are cheap & easy additives to 75% of what's on store shelves.  You'll have to learn to read labels very carefully".  At that point I actually felt more comfortable because (a) hey I'm in the health field, I know how to read & decipher those confounded labels & (b) It's not like I buy a ton of packaged food in the first place.  But even still I was shocked at how correct the doctor was, even my organic major-health-food-name rice cereal had a soy derivative in it "to prevent caking" and the discoveries just got worseworseworse.

Until one day John & I were talking about something totally different (cloud server set-up) & it was like a lightening bolt hit me; we're both scientists with developed engineering, logical minds and both good cooks!; this food thing should not be so difficult.  So we started looking at what we make regularly and once we broke them down realized it was (usually) easy to substitute parts out to make it safe for our little man.  Some turned out flops (like Shepherd's Pie made w/ unsweetened almond milk) & some I have yet to crack the secret of (like buttermilk in pancakes & sugar cookies).  But others were rave successes & turned into whole family favorites like Sausage Risotto (doesn't the sideways turtle placemat just set it off perfectly? ;-) )


Now it may not look like much but try it - I can (almost) guarantee you'll love it as much as we do!

Sausage Risotto
1 lb natural Itl sausage (no fillers or added "flavor", preferably not ground)
1/4 c onions, diced
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
2-3 T olive or canola oil
4-5 cups chicken stock (preferably made with Better the Bouillon for allergy free)
1 C arborio rice
1/2 t rubbed sage
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 t dried crushed rosemary
1 T dried parsley (or about a handful chopped fresh)
salt & pepper to taste

Coat the bottom of a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven with oil (approx 1 T) & heat over med - med high heat until it shimmers.  Cut the sausage into 1/2 in medallions, this works best if partially frozen, arrange them cut side down to sear.  After a few mins turn the medallions over, let the food 'talk" to you they'll release when done searing.  Once all the sausage is cooked transfer them to a holding vessel & add enough more oil to coat bottom of pan.  Lower heat to med low- med & add in the veggies with just a dash of salt (remember sausage is salty naturally), the aim here is to soften not saute the veggies.  When you can smell the garlic & the onions are translucent add 1 T more oil & the arborio rice.  Stir together for a few minutes & then pour in 1 cup of stock - depending on your stove you may want to raise temperature to achieve a boil.  Stir constantly and once all the stock is absorbed add another cup.  Repeat.  I've found the best time to add in herbs is after the 3rd cup, the rice is tender enough to accept the flavor & the herbs don't burn. After the 4th cup is mostly absorbed, add the sausage back in.  Depending on your stove, cooking vessel, brand of rice, humidity etc you may need to add up to another cup but taste it first; it should be creamy but firm not mushy.  Approx 40 mins start to finish

If you don't trust me how good this is just ask him!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Productive...what a feeling!

Sunday was truly an epic day - creative wise at least.  Not only did I finish another card for my Grandma but also THREE layouts for our Disney '12 album.  At this rate I might just finish it in time for our 2013 trip ;-) .  I also made a realization but I'll get back to that.

Unfortunately my beloved Grandma is still having more issues then is fair so I set to making another card and it became a technique heavy endeavor with handmade rosettes, stamping, embossing, flocking, stenciling and fussy cutting.  While working on it I was exhilarated, able to have the resources on hand to do these techniques that I just haven't done in a long time.  But once I was finished my bubble burst - I didn't love what I had done.  I'm certain it'll still make my Grandma happy, if no other reason that familial love.  But there wasn't that feeling of immense satisfaction you get at the end of a project, like the last card I made for her.  *sigh*

Not wanting to waste this golden opportunity of "me" time I propel myself forward I work on the "Princesses of the World" layout - Belle, Snow White, Aurora & Mulan - another fairly complicated design trying to capture that competition level quality.  Of course there is no competition...at least not with anyone but myself.  Not that it matters because nothing I do seems to look quite right, even John starts commenting on how much I went from my desk to supply storage trying to find something that would pull it all together.  I complete the design & it still looks 'off' like something is missing or out-of-place but I can't put my finger on what, all the visual 'rules' have been met so it should work.  But no again I'm deeply dissatisfied with my own work - why do I even try?!

Next up is "Mr. Ray's Reef" from the Living Seas, it goes together well enough photos fitting together like a puzzle & the perfect paper to make them pop.  The end result is ok - not great, not bad - but just ok.  Despite this one going better then last 2 projects, I think that maybe it's time to call it a day...go relax on the couch, watch some Dr. Who & have some popcorn that John is bound to make.  Just as I/m about to turn around & share this schedule change with him, I see the photo taken with Winnie-the Pooh & Tigger.


I love this picture because it was a turning point for my little man (all of 17 months here), for the first time he recognized the characters in front of him & wanted to be near them.  The entire time we were with Tigger & Pooh he had a HUGE smile on his face ... under the pacifier of course, heaven forbid we lose that!  Already at nearly 3 years old (yikes!!), he's becoming less baby-like & more boy-like: bored now with Winnie-the-Pooh stories, obsessed with Cars, Legos & the planes that fly overhead everyday, squirms away from kisses in public, insists on walking everywhere and just over all growing & developing like we all want for our kids. But I miss that baby who always wanted to be held, snuggled in for the thousandth rendition of Winnie-the-Pooh & The Red Balloon & whose eyes light up at the sight of Tigger - in any form but especially there in Christopher Robin's room that rainy night at Epcot.  So although this is a family album I wanted - no needed - to preserve my little man's 17mth old self in this layout and make sure that the photo stayed the visual focus.  So the end result contained soft colored pattern paper, "baby Pooh" border & a title cut & inked to look like alpha blocks.
Wouldn't you know it ...this turned out to be my favorite creation of the night :-)  Simple, clean lines, non-cluttered, no advanced techniques & it's as perfect as a human can achieve.  Which brought me to my realization - okay maybe more of a re-understanding of an old concept - sometimes in life it really is the simple things that bring the most pleasure.  We as modern parents spend so much time & money trying to create memories & experiences for our kids that will last a lifetime.  We make plans  and/or devise schemes to make everything go perfectly & smoothly.  But often this just adds more clutter to our lives, making it harder to notice and appreciate the little moments that truly matter - like 17 mth old Dillon's pure joy at seeing Tigger :-D

I say that I craft and scrapbook specifically to preserve our families memories & my kids unique personalities & perspectives across their childhood but lately I've found that I've gotten too caught up in the design and look of my efforts rather then reason for them.  So yes I love this productive streak I've been on, I love creating & I love playing with fun materials but most of all I love looking at photos & being taken back to that place & time because it fleeted away too fast.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

ScrapbookSteals

Wow what a week, I've hardly had time to sit let alone relax!  *sigh* But at least it's Sunday now, little man is sleeping & the miss is happily reading (The Space Between if you're curious) so I FINALLY have time to myself!

If you've never heard of Steals.com, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  They have twice daily steals for all things baby, kid & scrap/ crafting as well as daily steals for us women to pamper ourselves.  Recently ScrapbookSteals celebrated their 4th birthday with a week-long celebration culminating in one of their most interesting steals to date "Box of Scrap".  3.5lbs of scrappy goodness for $25 (retail value $95); it's like a mystery box & who can resist the allure of a mystery box?
Seriously folks $25 for all of that ^^^ Craziness!  Even John - a non-crafty man - commented on how nice most of it was as we (yes you read that correctly) were going through the box.  My heart did a pitter-patter when I saw all the goodies from Echo Park (middle), probably my favorite paper designer EVER.  I know the boxes were random but someone in Salt Lake must know us because Fancy Pants Design's bicycle embellishments (bottom middle) are perfect for a family that spends almost every weekend in the saddle.  I can't wait to find the right pictures to use them!  And I love the bright colors of the Lawn Fawn Collection (top) perfect for non-pastel spring/ summer pictures :-).

Among the scrap-gasm there was an oddity though, Jenni Bowlin (bottom left), never heard of it and can't say I was too impressed at first look.  But then after I got to thinking, it occurred to me that they have a French Provencal sort of feel to them and as if by magic my eyes came upon the picture of Erin & Marie from Disney World 2012.  I had been struggling with this picture because it was a solo print & there wasn't a strong story behind it but still it needed to be included in the album.  Now I had these "French" papers & a picture of a French cat w/ my daughter who must be part Parisian how perfect!  And just to keep the ScrapbookSteals theme going I used aquamarine sketch 4 to inspire the layout.


<--- The sketch from http://scrapbook.steals.com/wp/









<--- My interpretation using Authentique paper & the Jenni Bowlin papers & embellishments










Hope everyone has a enjoyable & relaxing rest of the weekend before insanity brews again!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Never take small children to a craft store

Must be true...what my parents always said...I am hard headed & insist on learning things the hard way.

 It must be true because after almost 6 yrs & 2 kids I still had the insane intention of a "quick stop" to my local craft store.  Some pop-dots & adhesive was all I needed so it should've been a simple in & out stop.  But no 2 minutes in and Dillon is insisting on the bathroom - never-mind that we just left Target & he was questioned about this very matter - but we go which afterwards triggers a (loud) lecture from Erin on what the difference between boys & girls is & how Dillon isn't a "real" boy yet because he doesn't look like daddy (is science sure you can't die from embarrassment?!).  After much shushing & frenzied whispered reminders about 'time & place appropriateness' we finally make it to the adhesive section.  But unfortunately I can't find what I need immediately which gave Erin time to find the stamps judging them all an "ugly mud color" & who did this store think they were selling crap like this - cue employee walking by giving derisive looks.   Then Dillon decides he needs to show off how well he knows his colors by collecting every single ink pad he can find & once named he hands them off to Erin who of course must read the label & correct him "No Dillon that's not 'red' it's 'Sierra Mud' and that's not 'blue' it's 'oceanic'" so of course he melts down & cries.  Calm him down, reassure that yes he identifies colors very well, find the cursed pop-dots & turn to leave only to find that Erin has disappeared.

Find the girl in the paper section picking out all the 'pretty' & 'cute' papers "Mom you need this one!" "Mom why don't you make me something with this one!" "Mom this matches my ballet costume!" & of course the baited "Dillon do you see Cars, you see that McQueen right there!, oh and look Mickey Mouse you love him don't you!".  As I'm making sure she puts the papers carefully back where they go, Dillon is having his usual love fest with McQueen & Mickey and when I say "no put them back" he breaks out with wails so heart wrenching that Feed the Children should utilize it to raise funds.  Just to make him stop (& ensure CPS isn't called) I decide that a $0.60 piece of paper is not going to break me but of course then Erin chimes in with "That's not fair, I want..." - again should've known better but oh well just means neither gets anything!  Finally get up to the front & of course there is only one register open with at least 5-6 people standing in line which gives Erin the opportunity to look at & move all the magazines because naturally she can't pick one, read it & put it back. 5 minutes later the call goes out for a Customer Service Manager to come settle a price dispute & realize that the force just isn't with me today. :-/

Now what's really odd about this whole exchange is that it only happens in craft stores, I can take these two into any grocery or mega-mart & they will be good as gold.  I have been stopped on numerous occasions by other parents, store workers, random strangers complimenting my well-behaved children & asking for the secret formula.  I don't get it, I really don't - but I guarantee next time I go alone!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A fresh piece of paper, a fresh start

Welcome to my online journal/ blog 3.0 ... of course I realize I'm alone, but that's ok they know me here :-P lol.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my maternal grandma's closet, stocked to the brim of every fabric & ribbon imaginable.  You could find practically anything you wanted in there from material to make a stuffed dog to a doll dress or comfy set of pajamas.  My grandpa would tease that there was no way she could ever use it all & she admitted that this was likely true but how could she pass up a beautiful fabric much less a good sale?  As I get older I find myself becoming more like her (which is a good thing, hopefully I continue to self-improve!) in many ways but notably in my craft collections - however, my addiction is not fabric but paper.  It doesn't matter how much I already have or how little time I actually have to use them; I always find new beautiful papers that are just begging to become part of a creation.  But in the last few years with other costs to contend with I've had to limit my paper expenditures to only the projects I know will be done. 

A few weeks ago I was in A.C. Moore looking for paper to complete our Disney 2012 scrapbook when I saw the most gorgeous yellow flowered paper that looked like a quilt my Grandma would make & beside it was with "old world charm" - love at first sight!.  What I would do with these two I had no idea but they were too perfect to pass up & part of a 60% sale to boot!  Turned out a serendipitous purchase because just a few days later I received distressing news from my mom regarding my grandma.  As I put down the phone I saw these papers out of the corner of my eye & knew that this was why they called out to me, yellow is her favorite color & the patterns so strongly reminded me of her.  Card-making usually is difficult for me since I'm accustomed to 12 x 12 layouts but this one came together so easily I almost felt controlled by a force outside my physical being.  To reinforce the quilting image I stitched around a few flowers & ground it with a contrasting pattern (like a border around quilting squares) & then topped it off with the "old-world" girl & ink-edged letters.  It definitely rates in my top 5 crafts of all time :-)

Now of course a crafting project that makes me happy is all well & good but of course it was for my grandma & her opinion was all that really mattered.  And I was little nervous sending it off to be honest, first because it seemed like such a little thing compared to what she was facing & two because she is a marvelously talented crafter that my efforts always seem juvenile in comparison.  But as it turns she caught on to the references & LOVED it (in my mom's phrasing), it made her day just like I hoped it would. 

Her reaction is why I love to craft for other people, I can touch a part of their heart that I just can't access through traditional social engagements.  Nearing 30 I'm still awkward in day to day conversations, still horrible at telephone conversations (unless I have something in particular to say) & still don't play emotive 'games' very well but a well crafted layout or card can speak volumes for me :-).