Thursday, December 8, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

My husband has been out of town this week.  While I miss him, an odd phenomenon happens when he's gone, which I have yet to be able to explain - there seems less to do.  I mean, I'm still running and/or keeping track of four kids.  I'm still tidying up after them, making lunches, reminding them to make beds, pick-up their backpacks and shoes, and do their homework, but something seems slower.  Maybe because I don't feel the need to look busy (my own issue) when he's home (he has a home-based office.)  Maybe it's simply because when he's gone dinners are pretty basic - pancakes anyone? - so not a lot of thought goes into cooking or clean-up.  I don't know.

Because of these seemingly simpler days, I tend feel like I have an occasion to play.  In the past I've done quick and easy things like cards, Project Life® pages or something like December Daily mini albums.  I've mentioned before they always start with a kit, and while I've completed one in a day, they usually take a couple evenings to complete.

The above album was the first December Daily I'd ever done.  It started with a kit, that included the album.  The kit was all pre-cut pages, including those with their borders punched.  The embellishments and number cards were included, but their assembly was up to me.  I added bling, pearls and snowflakes.  The line of paper, I so badly want to say is Crate, but I can't for the life of me find it to name it.  I pre-assembled the album and added the photos later - because back in the day they needed to be printed outside my house.

This album was pre-cut chipboard shapes.  It's the Authentique Wonder paper line, coordinating embellishments from the line and ribbon.  This one I assembled, with photos as I went, after Christmas.  If I remember right, I did it over the New Year's weekend and I printed the photos to fit. 

This album, used October Afternoon's Make It Merry Chapter pages, combined with the Merry Here & Now album.  The Chapter pages are just that, pages that go in an album - no cutting necessary.  I supplemented my patterned paper needs with the 8x8 Stack from the same line.  The kit had chipboard pieces and tags, but I did add bling, some felt embellishments, ribbon and twine from my stash.  I started this album after Christmas, at a crop, with all the photos printed and all the pieces ready to go.  I didn't finish it that night, but made it three-fourths of the way, and finished it at home that weekend.

I've mentioned before that I seldom do anything that doesn't start with a kit, and the Bigger Apron Strings kits are perfect for such projects.  Supplement from your own stash, if you'd like.  Projects like this can be as quick and easy as you want, or have time for.  I've gone super simple and a tad more involved, and all were done within a couple days.  

You can, too.  Just start with a kit. ;)

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

We Are

The cold has arrived.  It's a toasty 9 degrees at the moment, with light snow.  If I were a skier, and this were the mountains, I'm sure I'd be drooling over the powder covering everything.  But, alas, I'm not and while it's beautiful, it'd be prettier if I was watching it from my front window, not driving in it.

  • The LAST box to empty onto the tree.  It's only taken the better part of a week.
  • These cattails caught my eye while waiting to meet hubby.  The 8 y.o. enjoyed his first encounter with pulling the fluff out, aka smashing them on the ground to watch them burst and blow away.
  • He (the 8 y.o.) made himself some lunch - that would be toast with brown sugar and a Nutella and honey sandwich.  We'll call it a pre-workout carbo load.
  • At least someone noticed
  • Enjoying a new view and a job finished
  • Views from St. Nick's day morning
  • She won't say which she wants more, the bone from neighbors, or the Stranahan's
Happy Wednesday,

Monday, December 5, 2016

Colors on Tuesday

St. Nicholas visited us this morning, which, unfortunately, is more rushed when there is school to get to.  But he brought his usual gifts of new pajamas and gifts meant to share; not the pajamas, naturally.

My home decorating is coming along this season.  I cleared the clutter from transitioning to Christmas from Fall.  Most decorations are out, or at least the last couple boxes are in the place where the decorations will be.  I finished the tree on Sunday and I have to say, I too, enjoy seeing it in its new place and enjoying the lights and ornaments sparkling on the bough in a room we are ALWAYS in.

With things settling into place, shopping coming along, and no large entertainment events planned in the nearest future, my thoughts turn to getting some creative time in.  Temps are plummeting today, through most of the rest of the week, so knitting or working some embroidery - something warm on my lap - sounds good, but so does playing with a bit of paper.

It's been a while since I used a color pallet to inspire my choices for a scrapbook page, and was drawn to this pallet's bright blue pop.  The snow and greenery isn't hurting either.

First, the colors.  It's all about the blues for me, so my first step is to see if I have a kit with this, or similar color pallet.  If not, I'll be looking through my general stash for the basics.  Maybe cardstock in these colors.  Or a mix of cardstock and general patterns, like ginghams, stripes or dots. (I'd like to do a holiday layout which is why I'd look for basic patterns, but if you're not hooked on a holiday layout, the color combo could be easier to find in other themes, too.)

Next up, I'm drawn to the greenery - which could be found on a patterned paper, but it's also feathery and soft looking - so maybe ribbon or twine.  Stickers or wood veneer pine boughs would be a good addition.  The shiny blue has me thinking of digging out metallic brads or enamel dots.  Glittered dots on the ornament is easy - glittered buttons or brads, glitter Stickles, or even glittered ribbon, tape or tinsel trim from my stash.  The fluffy white snow could be velvet trim.  The silver top of the ornament, with its decorative cut could be metallic photo corners, or remind me to use a decorative punch on an edge.  It also makes me think I might have a large diecut paper I could pull in.

Lots of ideas.  Now to dig in and make it happen.

Go. Create.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December Peeks

I have two children who have been listening to Christmas music for a few weeks now.  At least they waited until after Halloween.  I, myself, have to wait until after Thanksgiving, but then that's all I listen to - unless I'm listening to my audio book of Voyager.  It's #Droughtlander, I have to do something.

Anyway, before we even moved the furniture back after hosting Thanksgiving, my burly boys had hauled the tree up to a new spot.  It is now in the family room, instead of the front room, where it's been for 18 years.  The kids have wanted to move it in the past, to see it more than just when they go upstairs, come downstairs, or drive past the front window.  It's in the process of being decorated, mostly by the eight year old, who is doing a pretty good job of spreading out ornaments around and up and down the tree.  At least as far as a step ladder and his little arms are able to manage.  

Our elf arrived this morning, bearing a Lego advent calendar.  Brown boxes are arriving.  Lists are beginning to fill my head.  My house is in a general state of conversion.  There are secret meetings, and when stumbled upon, those involved look startled and guilty at the same time.

It must be the Christmas season.  Which would explain why this month's kits are filled with all manner of holiday papers and goodies.  I love the kits because they make regular and pocket pages easy to do.  This is especially nice during a season when time for yourself is fleeting.  But they also make doing specialty albums, like December Daily or Journal Your Christmas a breeze.  I've done both projects, and will be doing a version for 2016, as well.  I've combined the two and done them separately, and in every variation there is a kit.  

I haven't grabbed a photo of the Card Kit, but it is filled with cold weather papers.  With complete instructions for creating cards, it's ready for you to sit down and start creating a stash of cards to supply your special events during the coming year.  You can look here and see what a past kit looks like.  

If you aren't already on the autoship list - go join today, for any of the kits.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We Are

Well, we pulled it off.  Thanksgiving dinner for 30.  28 actually, two people were missing; my cousin who pulled her back that morning and my father-in-law who was in the hospital.  

We knew, unfortunately, that my FIL would not join us.  His diagnosis-to-surgery timeline was mind-spinning fast, but it was the unknowns that cropped up that turned everything sideways.  He is home, recovering, now. It will likely be a slow recovery - mostly because he doesn't know how to be still - but we are truly grateful.

There were lighter times to our pre-Thanksgiving week, though, and we are grateful for them as well.

  • My hubby and son took a quick trip out to Maryland to visit the Naval Academy.  Our son's top pick to attend, after graduating this May.  
  • This is what it looks like to travel with your dad.
  • Crunching the numbers at various nursing schools - application time is approaching.
  • And so the prep begins
  • She cooks with rum, too.
  • I have no idea why now.
  • It only took 24 hours and four dishwasher loads to clear all the dishes from Thanksgiving.  It took several days longer to deal with linens, chairs, tables, smokers and roasters.
  • As a former worker in the customer service industry myself, the Girlie and I have decided that it should be a requirement that at some point in your life you have to work in some sort of customer service field (retail, food service, etc.) - just once and only for a few weeks - just to understand how to treat people (or perhaps how not to treat people) and not be a complete ass; people need to get a glimpse of being on the other side.
  • AHA Mite Tournament - first ever for this one.  (NOTE:  Never been much of a fan of tournaments, and I don't believe that is going to change much with hockey, who plan all their tournies over the holiday weekends.  Which wouldn't be so bad if it were a summer sport, but hockey is a winter sport, thus Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. weekends are now (or will soon be) required travel time.)
  • Two days.  Six games.  Six losses.  Played well.  That fourth game on the first day, though, he was, shall we say, less enthusiastic.  Played sick on the second day.
  • He left all he had on the ice
  • Thanks to grandma he has a tournament shirt.  Has his first tourney pin for his bag
  • And then there was indoor soccer. . .
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Sketch on Tuesday

I know scrapbooking is probably nowhere on your radar at the moment.  Your brain is likely filled with stuffing, centerpieces and to-do lists as long as the grocery store check-out lines.  However, a break for yourself, in the midst of frantic activity, is always time well spent.  Even if you don't get a layout, or card, fully finished, jut the process of laying things out, is calming and peace-giving.

I'm mid-prep myself, so today, it's as simple as grabbing yourself an Apron Strings kit and applying the sketch below, from PageMaps.

It's nothing but simplicity today.  Single page.  Three photos.  The biggest embellishment is a variety of strips running vertically.  The strips can be various patterned paper, ticket strips, ribbons, pre-cut borders, etc.  A couple mats under the basic layout and boom, done.  If you want more photos, create another line of photos beneath the current three - shift the lines up a bit and go longer on your vertical strips.  If you have more time this is an easy one - mirror the layout so that the diagonal strip mat, runs on the left side, and drag extra photos to the left.

Done.  Now you can get back to your pies.

Go. Create.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Food for Thought

Food is on my mind at the moment.  Searching for recipes, or at least one or two, that are new that I can add to our Thanksgiving meal.

I'll have plenty of time this weekend to round out Thursday's meal.  Hubby and the 18 y.o. boy are headed to the east coast to tour a couple of the military academies that our son is hoping to attend.  He's had his interviews with our Senators, his paperwork (I expect) is complete.  I think we are at the "wait and see" portion of the application process.  The 16 y.o. is working, as is the 19 y.o.  Even the 8 y.o. has weekend plans - a birthday party, followed by a sleep over.  Dang, it's almost like having the house to myself.

If you're looking for meals for the coming week - after the big day that don't involve leftovers, check out these, or my I Cooked That board.

None of my kids do Birthday Cakes.  They all have their version of a Birthday Dessert.  The 18 y.o. likes cheesecake, or almost anything with pumpkin.  So I dug out these Oreo Pumpkin Mini Cheesecakes for him on his actual birthday.  They were good.  Next time I'll either make more Oreo base (I could have gone for a slightly thicker base) or cook them for half the time (they smelled burned, but it's hard to tell given that they are already black.)

This Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole was a huge hit.  It's probably on the opposite side of healthy, but it's probably healthier than the cheeseburger I was craving when I picked the recipe.  I opted to not mix in the entire bag of tots, and put some on top.  After the initial bake time, I sprinkled a bit more cheese and the bacon over the top and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes.  The crunchy tots were perfect.

The kids were amazed at how filling these Easy Pizza Sliders were.  I made the recipe as is, which meant they'd get two each, but I had two leftover.  I cooked it for 10 minutes more than stated because the cheese hadn't melted much.  I also pulled the foil off with two minutes left, so the tops toasted up - a good call.

On an In-Law Dinner night we had hockey, so I needed something I could throw together ahead of time.  Maple Bourbon BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Apple Slaw was that something.  The chicken was done in the slow cooker and the slaw needed a couple hours to meld flavors.  I liked the flavor of the BBQ, but the bourbon was lost in the long cook time.  Next time I may add it about half way through.  The slaw was a great touch, and bonus, nobody knew it was broccoli!  I also toasted the buns because I'm not a fan of soggy buns.

This White Chicken Enchilada Pasta has been pinned for a while.  It was a quick weeknight fix, that held up well for those not at home at dinner time.  The only disappointment was that the title is Enchilada - the flavor, not so much.  It had nice seasoning and heat from the Cajun spice, but next time I'll do a taco seasoning.

I wanted something quick for dessert, but didn't need it necessarily for school lunches.  Pumpkin Crumb Cake seemed to fit the bill.  Plus I had pumpkin in the 'fridge that needed using.  It's a nice moist cake, and the seasoning isn't over-powering, which is nice.  The crumb top adds a nice crunch and buttery flavor.

Happy Friday,