Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Holidays

As is par for the course, December has been a real whirlwind. Try as we might, we are never able to avoid all the craziness that comes with preparing for the holidays. In fact, had I posted in the midst of it all this post would likely have been titled, bah, humbug! or maybe even is Christmas fun, or what?! But from this side of the holidays, I can truly say the craziness is worth it in the end! And while I could go on and on about all the things I was unable to accomplish, I'm choosing to focus on the things which I was able to complete. Some crafty, some just things I wanted to do during the holidays. Mind you, the holidays are hardly over so I'm still at it-whittling away at my list! ;)

  • made fleur de sel caramels and French chocolate bark and coconut macaroons for a cookie exchange-fuN!

  • decorating the tree with my mom and all the handmade things she made me (i'll post about them later-she's been a busy bee this year!)

  • wrapped my packages in pretty paper and bows. i really struggled with the papers this year. so thin-hate that, but I managed. my favorite was the candy cane striped ribbon and the light blue paper i found at Target!

  • made a fabric wreath inspired by who else, but pamG! loved this, but hurried a bit, i think. best thing was the upholstry fabric i picked up in a cut-off pile for .50 cents! i also liked getting my feet wet with embroidery again. hoping to do more of that in the new year.

  • used some of that felt to make pins for my co-workers. a little martha stewart joy spread around!

  • played with some of my vintage pieces to create vignettes. my new favorite is my homage to the nativity using some tiny deer and glass dome i recently found.

  • making the sad tom inspired ornaments for my sunday school kids. barely got this done again this year. whew!

    the letter Brady received from Santa this year was a total spur of the moment thing at one in the morning, but SO worth taking the time to do!

  • had my family here for Christmas day. i love having them here.

  • saw White Christmas at the Fox. it was SPECTACULAR! the colors, the costumes and of course the music! some of the backdrops were very Pam Garrison-esque. i loved that!

  • listened to LOTS of Christmas music. my favorite this year was listening to the xm radio show hosted by Michael W Smith. didn't mind at all that it was in a loop that played Christmas eve and all Christmas day. and i love the playlist this blogger put together which includes Michael Buble-can't get enough of his voice lately!

I hope you enjoyed a holiday to remember and look forward to a new year filled with possiblity!

UPDATED 12/30/09 4 pm: One more thing completed on the list!

This little guy is from Teresa McFayden's Comfort & Joy eZine. Simple, but fun little techiniques to try-sugar sprinkles for the glitter on his hat, gloves and socks and the pom poms were made by simply rolling a bit of batting in between my fingers. fuN stuff! I think I'll keep him around a bit longer with my snowmen. Speaking of which, that's a vintage little cupcake topper-I bought a bag of them at a just-for-the-holidays boutique my sister and I visited before Christmas. Okay, going to see if I can get another little project completed!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Santa's Workshop is Officially OPEN!

While most folks are scouring ads and planning their strategy for Black Friday, I'm gathering my supplies, instructions and inspiration for a handmade holiday. Earlier this week, my mom said it best, "It just doesn't seem like Christmas if we haven't made it." It's so true for me. But with limited time, I had to scale back my vision of what that was this year. Nonetheless, there will be handmade scattered among the store bought that's for sure. In fact, I've already signed up for what's become a yuletide tradition for me-Teresa McFayden's ezine, 12 Days of Comfort & Joy. So while I love to shop nearly as much as I love to craft, I'll be sleeping in the day after Thanksgiving , enjoying a facial at the spa, a relaxing lunch and an evening doing a little crafting! My kind of celebration to kick start the season. Just.can't.wait!

However you plan to spend Thanksgiving Day or the day after, for that matter, I hope it will be with those closest to you and in the way that means the most and makes for the sweetest memories. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a love for all seasons

I am so thankful to have my husband home this weekend after being gone for a week on a golf getaway. Just not the same around here without him. For one thing, it was much too quiet while he was gone. Yep, someone who out talks me!

Every pot has it's lid and that is certainly true for us. Love him and he loves me in spite of all my idiosyncrasies--I love that about him. And those who know can tell you it's not always violin strings and hearts around here, but we love each other regardless and just keep working at it day after day. That's really what it's all about, right? Okay, enough of that! But I am thankful for him and just in case he pops by here I want him to see it in print. ;)

Also, wanted to share a few peeks from our recent family photo shoot. This was very impromptu and the weather was dicey that afternoon, but we did our best to roll with the punches. Here are a few I like. And I just couldn't help playing with a couple of them to create a simple story board. So fun! IBut I have to go on a diet and have that "guacaMOLE" removed sooner rather than later!

Finally beginning to get in the Christmas spirit so I'll be back soon. I have lots of stuff swirling in my head. First up is that Advent Calendar I didn't quite get finished last year. I found a fantastic old frame this weekend to use since the other one turned into a chalkboard!
Have a great week!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

My Sister, My Friend

I can still remember sitting on the edge of my parent's bed as my mother held out the tight little bundle and laid her in my arms. Eyes tightly closed, mouth pursed she seemed so fragile. Not at all like my dolls. Would I ever be able to play with her? Would she like me or pull my hair and tease me unmercifully like my younger brother? Would we be best friends or strangers sharing the same room?

My sweet sister celebrated her birthday this week. In many ways, she has remained a mystery to me. But of this I'm certain, that tiny, fragile little thing I glimpsed her first days of life has grown into an amazingly strong, kind, generous woman. I am proud to call her my sister-and my friend. What a treasure you are to me, Marisa!

Here are just a few pictures from our celebration this past Sunday. Beautiful day inside and out as we enjoyed the company of loved ones. Made sweeter still by the presence of another little pixie who has recently welcomed a new baby sister. I wonder, will they grow to be best friends, too?

I love that she calls my sister GiGi

Lots of peek-a-boo that day!

This girl is becoming a beautiful lady, too!

We're going on a bear hunt! Actually, deer, but they were equally as serious!

In her tiny handy they don't seem near as annoying. Sweet!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I just have to gush over my fabulous weekend even tho' it was nearly a week ago now. I was determined to do as many things on "the list" as possible during my break from class. However, I must say my list and my husband's list were two different things, but I tried to strike a balance. To most folks, these were ordinary things, but things I needed to take the time to do and enjoy.

The weekend began with a rare night out with my hubby on Friday. We saw Matthew West and Josh Wilson in concert. Such a great evening of fabulous music and inspiration. Josh Wilson was very impressive. The guy gives new meaning to "one man band" with the loop machine he used. So cool and very effective. More than anything, it was just good to be out together.

Saturday morning found me in my pj's, coffee in hand puttering away with crafty things while I picked up and straightened. Glue this, glitter that and voila! Here is Talulah Bell ready for All Hallow's Eve.

This project was designed by Cindy Gilstrap. She has an incredible eye for detail and I've been admiring her creations from afar for awhile now. This is how this fun little project was packaged up with adorably fun directions that got you into the spirit of things from the moment you opened the package.

I couldn't wait to get to this item on my list! ;)

Talulah Bell was longing to be surrounded by a vignette so this is where she ended up. It was also a great incentive to clear off the top of the buffet! Still haven't hauled out all the Halloween goodies, but managed to create a seasonal island here. In fact, it seems the rest of the world has moved onto Christmas already. I was looking for goodies at M's to complete these and there was practically nothing left. Needless to say, I managed. :) These are teeny-the card base is only the size of a baseball card. Making a couple larger size ones, too (5x7). So fun and very relaxing to put together.

Inspired by those clever Red Lead sisters, I managed to knock these out, too. After the Diamond Glaze learning curve, I love how these turned out. Here I copied their collage sample, but I mixed it up on the others.

The weekend rounded out by reading a book just for fun and a movie with Mom-Where the Wild Things Are, and just enjoying the freedom to do what I chose without the pressure of school work. The crisp air and golden sunlight really got me in the mood for all sorts of craftiness. Definitely have to strategically plan my holiday gift making this year if I hope to do any at all. Still, a girl can dream.
Better start my list for this weekend. At the top once more will of course be school work.

a bientot!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Lots of reasons to do a little happy dance.

  • Completed first class and survived my first grad presentation.

  • 6 FULL days to do just what I want with no school deadlines-YIPPEE!

  • Date with hubby tonight to see Matthew West in concert. Should be alot of fun!

  • White chocolate mocha from Starbucks. It just warms me up head to toe now that it's turned soooo chilly!

  • Making some Halloween treats-I've been having withdrawl from creative things. So jealous of mom who was giddy yesterday with her ever-evolving list of projects to complete. Hopefully, I can accomplish something in the next couple days. Thinking of taking a drive to visit the Red Lead sisters, too.

  • Going to see Where the Wild Things Are this weekend. This movie looks incredible. Can't.Wait.

Love, hope, adventure. What awaits you today? Lovin' my "Max"-athough, this morning he was actually behaving like a wild thing! Still, love him so.

Monday, September 07, 2009

So long to Summer

Gone are the seemingly endless days you bring
accompanied by farmstand produce,
visits to the lake and
impromptu trips to destinations unknown

With fondness we'll remember
your fairs and vacations,
snowcones and icecream
and smores 'round the campfire

Photos and momentos to keep us
until you return once more
with warm days, starry nights
gifts you alone can bring

So long, sweet Summer

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nip Tuck

The facelift on our master bath was completed today. I love how it turned out. We had the gross carpet removed and ceramic tile installed. Our vanity was falling apart so we also had a new vanity installed along with new faucets. Finally, we had the bath and our bedroom painted. I'm usually not an accent wall kinda girl, but I decided to give it a try and I like how it turned out. Very Tori & Dean-well, in my head. ;)

I may be away from the computer quite a bit in the next few months. Brady and I have returned to school and work and I will be starting classes of my own this week so I'm afraid my time in general will be limited. This past weekend I packed away most of my art supplies and hauled them down to the studio. Kind of depressed about the lack of time to be creative, but confident I'll get back to it once I establish a routine for the school year.

Looking forward to all this new academic year holds for all of us embarking on a new journey. Brady has been doing amazing navigating the transition to middle school. I've been so proud of him.

I recently came across this quote by C.S. Lewis,
"You're never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream". Although I do feel too old to be setting such goals I'm excited about rising to the challenge and the possibilities the future holds. And I'm going to try and adopt Brady's go-with-the-flow attitude. One day, one class, one course at a time.

Take good care dear readers and I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Walk Like An Egyptian

Seized the opportunity for a little mini-vaca last week with Julie and the kids. We traveled to Indianapolis to visit the Childrens Museum there. Specifically, we went to see the King Tut exhibit since the boys will most likely study Egypt this year in school. We had a really nice trip thanks in no small part to my trusty navigator and all-around relaxed spirit of my sister-in-law, Julie. I seriously felt myself being more low-key. I know-nearly impossible!

There was so much to see and do in Indy, but unfortunately we did not plan to stay near long enough to take it all in. The museum was very nice and reminded me of our Science Center. The kids enjoyed the Tut exhibit as well as others such as, Star Wars the Clone Wars, What If, Dinosphere and to my delight, one on trains. I love that they still love trains! Lots and lots to see. My favorite was the Chuhuly glass displayed throughout. I would have loved to see the glass tower lit up at night. I was also beyond thrilled that Brady was patient in the LONG Tut exhibit and did take the time to read the info and that he was so much more hands-on than he'd every been before. He even donned goggles to dig at the dino exhibit!

Had a little time to poke around and visit a Super Target. I'd never been to one and I was excited to see if it was much different than a Target Greatland. Other than the attached grocery and the expansive number of checkout lanes, I was disappointed it was not much different. But still, it was Target. My favorite! We also enjoyed a nice meal out, but probably the most fun was when we returned to the hotel for the kids to hang out at the pool and then we all piled on the beds to eat popcorn and watch Harry Potter. Just loved hanging out together and listening to the conversations. Emily and I also had fun hunting down the Starbucks locations and me trying to scare her off caffeine addiction. :)

Not many more lazy days of summer left. (BIG SIGH) Looking forward to finishing off a couple small projects here at home, seeing a couple more movies and then preparing for return to work and school this week. Trust me, I'm going to try and squeeze in as much as I can!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Aunt Bonnie's French toast

I know there are several versions of this overnight French toast, but this is the one I'll be keeping in my repertoire. Not only because it was passed to me by my Aunt Bonnie, but because it is divine in so many ways--

it uses brioche which gives it a lightness
the maple syrup in place of vanilla results in a mellow richness
the secret is in the sauce-o.j.

without further adieu, here is the recipe:

12 slices of brioche, cut into 1" cubes
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, cut into 1" cubes
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
12 large eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 cups milk

Coat 9x13 glass baking pan with cooking spray. Place half of bread cubes in pan. Scatter cream cheese over bread, then blueberries over cream cheese. Place remaining bread cubes on top of blueberries. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, syrup and milk. Poor evenly over bread. Wrap with foil and place in refrigerator overnight.

Next morning, preheat over to 350 degrees. Remove French toast from refrigerator and place in middle of oven. Bake for 30 minutes with foil on, 30 minutes uncovered, until puffy and golden brown. Cut into servings and top with blueberry sauce.

Blueberry Sauce

2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

In 1 quart saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Add water and orange juice; cook over medium heat until thickened. Add blueberries and simmer for 10 minutes or until berries have burst, stirring occasionally. Serve over French toast.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

I "heart" Leftovers

My husband Jeff does not care for leftovers. Won't touch 'em. On the other hand, my brother-in-law, Steven loves them. In fact, he maintains that most food tastes better the second day. And he's right-soup and chili especially. And who doesn't love Thanksgiving leftovers? Lots of things are better the second time around.

One such place filled to the brim with items waiting to be used a second or even third time is, The Leftover Store or Leftovers, Etc. One of the places I was determined to visit this summer, I paid a visit there today. I LOVE the concept of this place which provides a way to recycle everyday items that can be used for arts & crafts and which would otherwise end up in a landfill. Open to the public, patrons are encouraged to bring in items for donation when they shop providing a constant flow of inspiring materials for artists, teachers, scout leaders, and others working with children. The epitome of recycling! And they have LOTS of really cool stuff as well as resources for project ideas and a book and video exchange. I almost hyperventilated when I started looking through all the bins. My favorite of which were the hundreds of little yogurt containers filled with goodies. Check out the fantastic things I found for just $2 on my visit there today!

So while there are those who have yet to develop a taste for leftovers, I'm with Steven-I think lots of things are better the second time around!

P.S. There are places like The Leftover Store in communities throughout the country. To find one near you, try googling leftovers and then your city or county name.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Life is...

just a bowl of cherries!
For years, I have admired the artwork and quote collection of Mary Engelbreit. One of my favorite prints was a stack of whimsical bowls in an equally whimsical overstuffed chair. The quote was a play on words-Life is just a chair of bowlies. Inspite of all that I could find to complain about, life is good. As I'm oft reminded-it's all about attitude.

This weekend held plenty of moments to make me smile and be grateful. We had such an enjoyable weekend with my niece and nephew who came and stayed with us for a day or so. Guitar Hero quickly became the most popular entertainment at our house. Particularly, when I gave it a go. It's SO fun and addictive!
I also had a chance to spend some time with my sister yesterday. Among other things, we ventured into Old Webster to check out Red Lead's new store location.
It really is a great space and the gals are so energized by their new home. I recently signed up to join their newest ATC Holiday Swap.

Excited to count myself as one of their Swap Sisters now.

And it's official-I'm going back to school. When I left my office job about a year ago and began working for the school district my hope was to complete my teaching certificate and work on my Masters degree. Well, beginninng August 25th I'll be doing just that as a graduate student at Fontbonne University! I'm very excited, but nervous about the magnitude of returning to the classroom as a student. I just keep thinking about another Mary Engelbreit quote,
"Why not go out on a limb. That's where all the fruit is " --Mark Twain.

So while there is always plenty to whine and complain about, I'm continuing to learn to roll with the punches and keep moving forward. And to be grateful for new opportunities and the blessings that each day affords.

Here's to life!

Monday, July 13, 2009

What I did on my Summer vacation...

Summer is quickly passing by and this morning I found myself wondering what I would have to show for it when school arrives in just 4 short weeks. My main goal for the summer was to give my house a good cleaning. You know, clean out cabinets and closets, wipe down baseboards, get rid of clutter, yada, yada, yada. It's taken me nearly two months off and on to go through the entire house and while I'm making headway, I'm still not finished. Hopefully, in the next week or so I'll be done with everything except my studio. Hopefully.

Aside from a couple of trips to the Lake, we haven't actually done much vacation-y stuff. But I still have hopes of squeezing in a trip to the Zoo, the Botanical Garden or Science Center and maybe another trip to the Lake or to Jeff's folks before the end of summer. We have taken in a couple of movies and rented several. I've also read several books-still hoping to get a couple more in before I have to start reading for work and school.

The next few weeks should be jam-packed if I add in some sewing and continue to work on my art journal. I've really neglected those goals while I focused on the house. Where does the time go? We still have doctor and dentist appointments to squeeze in, too. What was that they say about the lazy days of summer?

I'm so grateful to have had time off this summer. You can tell lots of things had gone neglected around here and it's a great feeling to be able to catch up on them. It's also been good for Brady to be home and just hang out. He's really gotten into drawing this summer-so happy about that.

Well in the midst of it all, I've run across a few things this summer I just LOVE and wanted to share them with you. If you have a summer favorite you'd like to share please do so by leaving me a comment. I love to hear from my readers!

Here are some of my favorites this summer:

  • A recent convert to Bare Minerals makeup, I love this primer for the summer months. It preps your skin for makeup by smoothing the surface of your skin and keeps it from becoming shiny throughout the day.

  • Love, love, love this drink mix I found at Marshalls. Add sparkling water to the mix and the included drink umbrella to a glass and you have a festive beverage that instantly tranports you to the islands. The Peach Mango lemonade was a big hit at the lake over 4th of July!

  • This lip gloss is another Bare Minerals product I really like. It has a plumper hence the name-Buxom Lips. It goes on sheer and is not gloppy at all. I think the names of the colors themselves are a hoot-I'm using Dolly right now, but there are others like Bambi, Amber, Sugar and Trixie.

  • If you've ever welcomed Mrs Meyers into your home you know you just love her! I've used this all-purpose cleaner to wipe down my baseboards and everything else this summer. It doesn't leave a residue and has a naturally clean scent. Along with inexpensive white washclothes it's been my favorite cleaning product by far! Target recently began carrying Mrs Meyers. mmmwaah!

  • I've made plenty of trips here this summer, but may make a few more because of their most recent promotion. If you purchase a beverage before 2pm you can return with your receipt after 2 pm to purchase any grande beverage for just $2. Love that!

  • My sister told me about this one. The flavor tastes like summer to me and they're Sugar-Free! You can find them in the checkout aisle at Target. ,)

  • I love my summer dishes. I spied these in a magazine and ordered them from CS Post & Co-they're by Moda Home and are melamine. The pitcher and glasses I found at Pier One on clearance over 4th of July. Can't wait to serve iced tea in them-or that yummy drink!

  • And finally, I have to send a shout out to two of my favorite bloggers. First, Becky Novacek, a photographer and scrapbooker whose blog has been a daily staple for me this summer. I love her weekly "b lists" and the fresh and honest way she shares herself, as well as, her gorgeous photographs and other creative pursuits. Check out Becky's blog HERE.

    Second Teresa McFayden, founder of the popular Silver Bella retreat and whose Paper Bella e-Zines have been a creative lifeline for me. At a mere $20 per subscription they are a GREAT value. You receive online access to 10-12 "lessons" or articles-many of which include custom downloads. Special guest artists are an added bonus and I love that I can work through the projects at my own pace using supplies I have on hand. If interested, you can subscribe to her most recent e-Zine, A Journal of Interest HERE and find her blog HERE.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. I'm off to check something else off my to do list!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Permission Granted

Giving myself permission to rest and relax today. Time to regroup and think. Lots to process over the past few days. Some of you may be aware that our beloved Grandma Alice passed away on Monday. We're back home after being with family for a few days so I'm unpacking and trying to get back in the swing of things. I also gave myself permission to play in my art journal.

Catching up on the first five lessons from the e-Zine, A Journal of Interest, I first chose to work on Wednesday's lesson, Blind Contour Sketching. I had never tried this technique before. It's alot of fun, but you have to commit to losing your inhibitions and abandon perfectionism. That's for sure! The idea is to sketch the object without looking at the paper. Naturally, I chose a bluebird which my Aunt Bonnie recently gifted to me. Probably a little too detailed a subject for this exercise, but I did it anyway. In our journals we are encouraged to use a variety of mediums as well as techniques. I used color pencil, charcoal pencil and pastels for shading and watercolor on this page spread. I'm anxious to get writing on it!

It feels really good to get back to something creative today. It soothes my soul.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Three Cheers for the Red, White & Blue

We had such an enjoyable time this long 4th of July weekend. Brady and I took off and went down to my folks's lake house on Thursday and as soon as we arrived Mom and I headed into town for a girls day. I had the most fabulous Monte Cristo sandwich at On the Rise, a restaurant in Osage Beach that Mom had wanted to try. I told Mom if I closed my eyes I could imagine eating it at a cafe in Paris-it was that good! I enjoyed spending time with her just wandering around. I did purchase a couple things, but mainly we just window shopped and hung out. It was a welcome change from cleaning and sorting that has occupied most of my summer thus far.

On Friday, my brother and his family arrived followed by my sister's on Saturday. We spent the weekend cooking and eating, playing games and visiting, fishing and riding in the paddleboat, reading and napping. The adult kids even got into a water fight. The biggest kid of all (Dad) got involved and managed to not get wet while soaking everyone else-how does he do that!?! We truly love spending time together and believe we are blessed to be able to do so.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. I didn't take as many as I like, but managed to get a few shots I loved. I hope you and your family enjoyed a long and relaxing weekend celebrating our country's independence-another incredible blessing!
(Click on the collage to see a larger version.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

getting creative

One of my goals this summer was to take time to be creative in a more organic, relaxed way. Well, at least relaxed for me! My hope was to complete some projects I'd set aside earlier in the year (or longer), to get a headstart on Christmas gifts and to art journal several times per week. This summer my main focus has been to get our house in order and I've felt like I couldn't do anything creative until I had finished cleaning and organizing. Needless to say, I've fallen short of reaching my creative goals, but it was starting to make for a crabby, frustrating and very uninteresting summer. I knew I couldn't go on that way for long. So, I recently subscribed to Teresa McFayden's journal e-Zines, Write Place, Write Time and A Journal of Interest to encourage me to reach at least one of my creative goals this summer.

Yesterday, I was determined to do a good deal of homekeeping and then reward myself by working on the first e-Zine assignment-creating an art journal. I had wanted to make a coptic journal like the ones Pam G and Teesha Moore use, but was intimidated by the process. I even considered ordering one from etsy, but never found exactly what I was looking for. To my suprise, our fearless leader discovered a super simple method for assembling a similiar journal. Further simplified by having Office Max cut my paper to size and punch uniform holes.

This is what my journal started out as.

After a trip to Michaels and Office Max here is what it looks like now.

This method is designed to use what you have and you can easily cut your paper stock to size and punch the holes yourself, but I was all about making it easier on myself and getting to the creative part. BTW, my trip to Michaels proved a little dangerous. Making Memories has released a line of vintage inspired findings. I just couldn't resist the velvet flowers and Dennison style labels. They've even reproduced the highly coveted foil dresdens-the birds are to die for. If you're a fan of vintage you're gonna love this line!

And my non-artsy little guy was curious about all the creative stuff for kids. He spied a volcano making kit, but momma wasn't too hip about the guaranteed 9 eruptions. Finally, he settled on a book about how to draw Japanese manga.
Here's his first manga character 'cause he's all about making up his own stories and characters right now. I think it's pretty good! He's adopted my white eraser and Heidi Swapp color pencils, but I don't mind. I love that he's getting creative because I know first hand the benefits of doing so!