Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We Are

Last week, hubby took me on the second of his surprise road trips.  This time we headed to Waco, Texas and the Magnolia Market.  If you watch HGTV, you may be familiar with Fixer Upper and the hosts who purchased huge grain silos, renovated them and opened up shop.  That was our destination, while the kids held the fort at home.

  • 7 PM, your husband (who has "run up to Cheyenne") calls, breathless, to tell you he's in trouble.  After a multitude of scenarios run through your mind, he tells you he's gotten himself high centered in a-middle-of-nowhere shortcut Google Maps provided him.  Flash forward to three people, a truck, shovels and several hours after a hair-raising-off-road-where's-the-ehfing-road-blood-pumping-WTH-was-he-thinking drive in an attempt to not only find him, but un-stick him.  We'll leave it at we finally arrived back home at 3 AM - the day we were heading to Texas.
  • Our route to Texas, took us back through our alternate route home from Oklahoma last month.  Without the white-knuckled snow and ice drive, there was some great scenery.  Including this extinct volcano.  The only thing of elevation for miles and miles.  The ancient lava flows stretched equally as far.
  • We hit a town in Texas, I forget where, and there were huge flocks of geese.  I've seen big flocks in Colorado, but this was insane.
  • Colorado sunsets are awesome, but there is something about  ones that streatch across flat land
  • Meanwhile, back at home, we were heading for a record breaker day - with 67 degrees early in the morning
  • Everyone was enjoying the 80 degree February afternoon.  F.E.B.R.U.A.R.Y!
  • Some were salty they didn't get to enjoy the afternoon at all.
  • Those who were salty did enjoy a birthday evening with friends, sushi and key lime pie.
  • Then there was weekend hockey, though not a tournament - that is this weekend - which made it a bit easier for grandma and grandpa.
  • Then and Now - far nicer views
  • Then and Now - I have to say, Cadillac Ranch was far more interesting in the ice and snow.  We opted not to get out and see it up close, because frankly, I think it would have been a disappointment.
  • I fan-girled it around the property, did some light shopping and we snagged two cupcakes, from their bakery, to enjoy later, after dinner.  He's a fan of the show, but he'd certainly never make a pilgrimage. ;)
  • Feet out for sleeping
  • When you can't roll out of bed, into leggings and out the door.
  • Cupid's arrival
  • The 8 y.o. showed great restraint in the icing and sprinkles departments.  Some fellow classmates. . .not so much.
  • Iced coffee - homemade
  • Sitting next to your BAE
Happy Wednesday,

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tackle It Thursday - Organizing Your Space Part 5

Most of my time lately has been spent merely keeping up - there hasn't been a lot of forward motion.  But that happens.  Sometimes you get stuck, and you need give yourself a break about it.  If that's happened as you've worked through your creative space, it's okay, come back to it and take smaller bites, dedicate smaller amounts of time, until bigger blocks are open to you again.  If you haven't read previous posts in this series, check them ou read part one, two and three.

REPOST:  January, 2013

This post and part four's really go hand-in-hand, but I was long winded enough last time, so I figured I'd just break it into two posts.  Again, the inspiration from this series comes from "The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker" by Wendy Smedley and Aby Garvey.

I'm sure we all collect it.  Pinned it to our bullet boards as teenagers, stuffed it into hope chests or shoeboxes as young adults and crammed it into box after box as new parents.  I'm talking of memorabilia.  Those little bits, bobbles and pieces of our lives:  tickets, cards, notes, scraps of fabric, flower petals, corks and the glittered creations our kids bring home.

To tackle it start by determining what memorabilia means to you and your scrapbooking.  Maybe you'll display pieces.  Maybe you'll have a good system for photographing all the pieces and including them with layouts.  Maybe you'll have a whole book dedicated to it.  Or maybe you'll determine to just box it.

Once you know what you're going to do with it, you'll need a way to store it:

  • Long term storage - even if you're too close to certain types of memorabilia to sort and perhaps purge, you can still get it organized.  Sort items into large categories like high school, pre-marriage, per child, etc.  Look for boxes/containers that are sturdy and water/humidity resistant depending on where your storage space is; basements flood or are subject to higher humidity but sometimes that's the only storage available in your home (like here in Colorado, attics reach well into the 100's in the summer).  If so, protect your items accordingly.  Put highly valuable items in fire proof storage.
  • Copy your photo systems - if you're intending to include memorabilia in your scrapbooks, the easiest way to store the pieces is to follow the same categories you have for your photos.  
  • Rotating system - there are some items that are just special, that maybe you've determined you want to see regularly.  Including these items in your home decor is certainly a way to do that.  Maybe you pull items out seasonally, in which case you'd want to store and label accordingly.  Maybe there are those shadow-box items you've been meaning to deal with. . .now's the time to pull them together and just do it.
Now, show that stuff off.  Put notes with your photos to remember the memorabilia you've set aside.  For small collections think about glass jars.  For those love notes from both hubby and kiddos, tuck them into little baskets - maybe bundle them up with pretty ribbon or twine.  Rotate kids' artwork on over sized clipboards, or a special "frame" on the 'fridge.  Small cork-boards or magnetic surfaces make it easy to display and rotate any number of items.  Group items on shelves in your room, or your kids' rooms.

How this works for me:

I'm horrible at including memorabilia of any kind into scrapbooks.  I have the odd shots of the kids' creations that I included on a page or two, but not enough to call it a habit.  Most of their creations are boxed and stored in the crawl-space.  Put there when the emotional connection was too much to sort and/or toss, and now it just sits there because it's out of my sight.  The sheer volume created by my children when they were young is insane, then you add my own pieces and it's just an avalanche of items.  I'm sure as I work my way through my perpetual calendar's decluttering schedule I'll hit pockets of the stuff and I'll have to deal with it then.  At least I have a plan. . .

I do have a couple systems:  the kids' early school work is all boxed and stored in the crawl space:  art projects, paper work showing their handwriting progression, papers with subjects they struggled in and papers showing where they excelled.  As the volume of items decreased (and I figured out what was important - to me - to keep), I started to keep their pieces in plastic folders and the drawers in my studio space.  Does it need going through. . .'fer sure, totally!  This is just their school work, too.  It's not the stuffed animals they loved when they were little, or the clothing that had special meaning.

I have a few items that I put out, or are out all the time, in my home.  I have a doll from my childhood that sits permanently in my studio.  I have some other dolls that are dressed in holiday attire that come out for that particular holiday.  The thought just occurred to me that two of my children had bunnies that were their constant companions when they were young and it would be fun to include in my Easter-mantle decor.

A little thought and all those pieces that meant so much to keep will have their time in the spotlight - just think outside the box a little.

You know what's next - organize it and purge it down.  Sometimes some distance in determining what to let go of is key. . .if this is you, don't try to pare down right now.  However, if you're ready to dig in and let go, determine what's important - do you have several pieces of artwork that reflect the same time period in your child's life?  Select certain pieces that cover a range of time - or show their growth.  Scaling down your memorabilia is not only freeing, it lets you appreciate what you do keep.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

We Are

It's been a rough couple of weeks, well months really - since Thanksgiving - with my in-laws.  My father-in-law's recovery has been slow, with a few set-backs.  My mother-in-law has had her own challenges, and a couple hospital visits, the most recent is still ongoing.  These events definitely spice up the everyday, and not in a positive way.  But. . .they are both moving forward and that's what matters.

You add their difficulties to some nasty, sticky congestion making it's way through our family, my mother's "Worst Lungs of the Day" awarded by her doctor for her own sticky, nasty thing, the 8 y.o.'s strep diagnosis (with nothing but hives presenting) last week, and he's home again today with a fever, plus the daily things of family life and we're a bit rough around the edges.  Hubby, who woke with a new and interesting cough this morning, and I are due to leave town again soon (the second of his surprise trips) and I can't help but wonder if these are signs we maybe should rethink things.  However, I'm not sure there's anything that will dissuade him from plans.

  • Catholic Schools Week and Parent Appreciation Day - started with breakfast burritos handed out in the drop-off line, finished with skits, songs, poems and cheers honoring parents.
  • Nobody said following your dreams would be easy, but it will be worth it
  • When your 16 y.o.'s social media feeds are filled with astrological ephemera
  • I love it when he plays - too bad he doesn't do so in the public spaces of the house more often
  • The things we make her do for a treat. . .pretty sure she hates us
  • When Family Game Nights dissolves into searching for, finding and watching ridiculous videos of songs the kids found when they were much younger.  It's even worse when you remember the lyrics, such as they are.
  • Celebrating with Samoa Blondies and Samoa Pie, topped with 20 candles
  • What happens when the party's over but you left your phone unattended
  • How can this Sweet Pea be 20?
  • When your friends SnapChat their stalking around your house at the crack of dawn and you are afraid to go outside, but you find these instead.  #theyremembered
  • There are times being up early is worth it
Happy Wednesday,

Friday, February 3, 2017

Food for Thought

When I planned this week's menu it was supposed to be in the 40's and 50's.  Yeah, not so much.  The dropping temps and freezing mist we did get were not in the forecast, but that's okay, I managed without the gooey, creamy dishes I usually make to go with such weather.

I made this Roasted Chicken with Honey Bacon Pears for an in-law dinner.  I didn't used bone-in chicken breast, instead opting for boneless, skinless thin-cut because that's what I had on hand.  Because of that choice, I was careful not to over brown the chicken (just some light color - maybe a couple minutes a side), since it was cooking more in the oven.  I also decreased the first oven time to 15 minutes, added the pears and then watched the meat's temp instead of setting the timer.  I think, in the end, it did cook for the 10 minutes.  Worked like a charm.  I also doubled the recipe and made this a one dish meal.  I have a giant cast iron skillet that I used.  Instead of transferring things to a roaster, I just put it all back in the skillet and it all went in the oven as directed.  It was really good.  Chicken was moist.  Pears were sweet and the cooking liquid with the bacon was great over mashed potatoes.  I served in the skillet, which made it hard to spoon out the juice.  I'll have to think of how to fix that, because serving it in the skillet is one less pan to clean.

For Christmas I bought hubby a Pellet Smoker/Grill.  He's cooked the main dish three times now.  This last time he smoked a pork shoulder, which just left me looking for sides.  This Cranberry Orange Brussels Sprout Slaw was good, though thin slicing sprouts is a pain and time consuming.  It has a surprising punch of tang, offset by the sweet cranberries.  It was really good with the meat, and would make a good topper on a pulled pork sandwich.  I subbed sour cream for the yogurt and used regular mayo.  The recipe says best served the same day it's made, but we had some the following day and it was just as good - the spouts hold up well.

We had a couple evening activities this week, so I had a couple quick things to work with that schedule.  These California Chicken Club Wraps being one of them.  They were good.  Filling.  I was hoping for a bit more sweet from the mango, but I think my mango was a tad under-ripe.  I used a whole wheat tortilla, instead of spinach.  In the end I opted not to keep the Pin, mostly because I have a ton of wraps pinned and wraps are more about combinations, sort of like quesadillas.  Once I have the combination in my head, I don't need the recipe.

Dessert time and these Copycat Lofthouse Soft Sugar Cookies.  I found I had several such recipes pinned.  I compared the other recipes to this one, and with the exception of the other basically being double the ingredients of this one, they are identical.  The other "full-sized" recipes had a little more than double the baking powder and sour cream, and required chilling, rolling out and cutting.  This one no chilling, rolling or cutting; shoot I didn't even roll them into balls, I used my mini scoop and then flattened them.  They were soft, light and vanilla-y.  The butter-cream frosting is divine.  I had also done this version and liked them, but decided to delete the pin and just have the one.

These Crockpot Meatball Sandwiches were another "people are coming in and out" recipe.  I used store-bought meatballs (we have a brand we like) and put them in sauce recipe - though I cut the sauce recipe in half because it seemed like it was going to make a ton; halved was plenty for us.  It was the perfect thing to sit as people came down to eat.  The sauce was flavorful and the meatballs were tender.  I made them as people came to eat, and broiled them long enough to melt the cheese and toast the bread a bit.  Next time I might pre-toast the bread, then fill them, and broil them to melt the cheese.

We've got the weekend ahead, with a sprinkling of items on the calendar, including celebrating Girlie's 20th birthday. 

Happy Friday,

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Throw Back Thursday

I know!  What is on this page?  It is indeed a layout.  Scary.

Before the end of 2016 I enrolled in Scrapbook and Cards Today's (SCT) year-long, self-paced class, 365.  Each month we are sent a sketch for a layout and card, plus instructions if you want to recreate the examples.  The instructions include patterns for three or four shapes used on the layout examples (for the most part the patterns are shapes that would be easy to trace and hand-cut, if needed), or those same patterns in cut-files if you have a digital cutter.

I decided last weekend that I'd waited long enough, and was just going to do it.  I pulled my totes into the dining room (basement isn't fit for humans) and worked with what I had packed in them.  I had paired these photos from 2005, with Bo Bunny's Candy Cane Lane, which was found in the 2014 Smaller December kit.

I stayed pretty true to the sketch.  The orientation and size of my photos had me altering them versus the sketch, which had four smaller photos and a larger vertical photo.  Looking at the layout, I should have pressed out my satin ribbon, but (shrug) oh well.  I used the whole kit, and will eventually fill out the tag, in the glittered envelope, with whatever we can remember about that Christmas morning.

This is the third class I've taken with them, and I've enjoyed the sketches and examples.  I don't really do the instruction-thing, but that's just me.  I am, however, working those sketches, often getting multiple layouts with one sketch.  I had planned to do another layout with this sketch, but life and family were calling.  I also joined their Facebook group, and like the inspiration of other scrapbookers - and let's face it, those "likes" are fun, too.  It's not to late to join the class.

Go.  Create.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

We Are

So it seems nothing I did in the last week was photo worthy.  And that sounds about right. All my photos are from Girlie's timeline - who apparently has a life - though she may disagree, as it seems her life is school.  LOL

  • Hey now!  It's true though - the headache part, not her "turning into my mom" part
  • When your Pathophysiology book could literally kill you - at eight-plus pounds . . .
  • and then you open it up and find out that it will kill you.  And not because it was dropped on you.
  • Enjoying the hammock you received for Christmas
  • And then you have share it.
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tackle It Tuesday - Organizing Your Space Part 4

All that progress I made on the basement pre-Christmas Take Down, has been lost.  All the boxes from Christmas decorations, wrapping and such are sitting in what should be my space.  I have more stuff spread out on the other half of the room.  And the tree, though bagged, is basically at the bottom of the stairs.  Super convenient as a reminder to put stuff away, no so convenient if you want to proceed farther into the basement, which I don't.  It's a mess. 

I need to get back at it, though.  I was so close.  Much like sorting and purging your supplies, you may need a break, because it can be overwhelming.  That's okay.  It's getting back at it that matters.  So. . .get back at it!

REPOST: January, 2013

You know back in the day of film, photos were limited to how much film you could afford and, subsequently, have developed.  You didn't know if you had a roll of blooper shots or not, so you worked at taking the best shots you could and you thought more about the shots you took.  Nowadays, it's all digital and we snap away with no regard to costs or what we're shooting; if you don't like it you delete it.  But with digital photography how many of us have the discipline to really go through and delete all the bad shots?  How many of us take 100's of photos at a single birthday party or kids' soccer games?  There is something to be said for film. . .if nothing else it was more manageable.  Digital photos can quickly become a nightmare for a scrapbooker, in just shear volume, not to mention storage of the images and the prints.

Today we're looking at organizing our photos.

Taking digital photos shouldn't be any different in thought processes as it was when you shot film.  Be intentional about what you take photos of.  Are the photos you take telling the story you want to tell.  Is the photo you're taking for your scrapbook or wall or maybe something else?  
Organizing your photos, whether the actual prints or the digital images, or both, is probably one of those decisions you'll want to really think about, but only because a major shift in your process could be a big pain in the butt.  Well, it would be if you wanted to affect the change going back to apply to every photo you've ever taken, rather than changing now and moving forward leaving the old system in place.  ANYWAY. . .think about this:  
  • Topic - If you're more of a themed scrapbooker, this method may be your thing.  This idea is more along the lines of Stacy Julian's "Photo Freedom" or "Library of Memories" where your scrapbooks are based on themes like family, each of your children, places you go and so on.  Your photos/images folders would be set up in a similar format, whether you sort your downloaded images into appropriate folders or you sort your printed photos into boxes labeled as such.
  • Project - If you think in terms of projects, or looking at photos makes you think, "Oh, I can make a mini book based on this" then sorting your photos/images based on the project will help you cut the time when you're ready to start.
  • Chronologically - This is probably the easiest of the three methods and the one that may be your ticket if you scrapbook chronologically - not so much what order you create your layouts in, so much as how you store the finished layouts.  This system is simply sort according to year and month.  You can further define it by event, holiday or season, as well.  
Time to do a little organizing and paring down.  As I mentioned at the beginning, if we're shooting digital we snap away willy-nilly and then wonder why we're overwhelmed when we look at the thousands of photos to scrapbook.  It's time to organize and formulate a process.  Start by sorting your photos into whatever method you've chosen to use.  While you're sorting toss (or delete) photos that are blurry, eyes are closed, or you've got 10 of basically the same photo.  If you just can't bear the thought of tossing and/or deleting any, create a cold storage where you place prints you probably won't use, but they aren't in your main system.  I loved this example in, "The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker" by Wendy Smedley and Aby Garvy (which is where I'm pulling the inspiration for this series):  If you have 5000 photos, using seven photos per layout would create 714 layouts that would take you 1,428 hours to complete at a cost of $3,570 (that's with each layout costing you $5 each)."  I'm a scrap-as-many-photos-as-possible creator, but even I know there are bad photos and photos I won't use.  Why clutter my computer, my storage and my mind with more than is truly workable?

Finally, it's time to store and/or display your photos.  There are any number of ways:  your traditional photo albums - are they out where they are accessible and viewable?  Maybe you download all your digital images to DVDs/CDs.  With the advent of direct viewing of television programs you can have your digital images rotating on your TV or computer screen.  Do you display random photos in your work space, or maybe you showcase recently finished layouts in your home or work space until they go live permanently in your albums.

How this works for me:

With the advent of Project Life, December Daily, Week in the Life and other more focused projects, intent of the photos taken can be different.  Like my PL photos are random shots:  food I make, screen shot of my latest walk (yes, I'm walking!).  While photos for my traditional albums tend to be event based.

I have no system, or rather I have no process for converting my images to prints - and I really should have one.  My storage system, however, is chronological.  I download the photos off my camera according to the date they're taken.  With the exception of Project Life, or other mini projects, my photos are printed online.  I wait for a sale and upload a group of photos for printing and mark my digital folders that those photos have been uploaded, or uploaded and printed.  I don't complicate my system.  I don't tag.  I don't rename shots.  I don't change the meta data.  The date of the photo is pretty much all I need to sort the printed images into my system.  Once my prints arrive, they are sorted into Cropper Hopper photo keepers by year, month and event.  I use note cards to mark the information and move along.  I used to scrapbook purely chronologically, but now I hop around a bit, though my photos remain in a chronological system.

I have my traditional albums out in the family room, and have gotten into the habit of pulling down baby albums for a particular child when their birthday approaches.  I should probably just pull down a random album for a week or more for people to look at - if they're out, they'll be looked at - otherwise they're in the room but ignored.  I have chosen to take part in the special projects (Project Life, December Daily, etc.) in part, to get current photos out for people to look at.  I want to share all these great memories with the family and friends that wander in and out.

Happy Tuesday,

If you have a system that's working - great.  There is a system for everyone - from the super simple to the more complicated; it just depends on what level of organization you want.  There are free programs like what comes on your computer to Flickr, PhotoBucket and about any online photo developer like Snapfish or Shutterfly, to pay-for software programs like PhotoShop (I'm sure there are others, but I'm using a free program and am not versed in the pay-for software).  Your system may also be a combination of these - maybe your sort chronologically but you also pull out or print copies to sort by topic.  Again, knowing how you work will help you find the system that works for you.

Happy Tuesday,