Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sad News

It is with extreme sadness, and a whole lotta disbelief, that I let you know our own Sous Chef Anet Tietjen passed away.  Anet was just 39, when she died on Tuesday from an unknown heart condition, leaving behind her husband and two small children.

I am having a hard time understanding this and think a lot about the family she has left behind and their sorrow at this time.  I try to find comfort that Anet was a scrapbooker and her legacy of stories and thoughts are in her albums, holding comfort for her family in her absence.

If you feel so moved to leave a note for her family, you can find a guest book set up by the mortuary HERE.  If you're a member at Willow Traders they are taking a collection for flowers and any leftover amount they are hoping to send Visa cards to use as the family sees fit, or they were talking about getting them dinners from a local make-your-own-dinner places.

My prayers go out to her family.  May she rest in peace.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eek. . .2 Days. . .

and 12" of snow are not conducive to speeding around the suburbs outside of Denver on a shopping mission.  Instead it sucks up precious shopping time with shoveling.  Well, I'm not actually shoveling, but the people that need to go out with me are.

So while I wait, toasty indoors, I realize I should be planning the meal I'm hosting on Christmas Eve.  It's always nice when you invite people over for dinner that you actually have a dinner. . .take-out pizza probably won't cut it.  I should also finalize what's left to get.  With DH's help yesterday we did manage to take care of a big chunk of stuff - though I'm sure in his helping me, he is himself further behind in what he needs to take care of.  The boys even wrapped a few gifts for me last night, so that helped as well.  I also, after two starts and stops, baked up a batch of Spritz cookies (my faves) and mixed up dough for cutter cookies to do later tonight or maybe tomorrow.  Though, I'm sort of reserving tomorrow for the dashing through the snow.  Literally.

If you're still on the hunt, or you know someone who's still on the hunt for the perfect gift. . .send a gentle reminder about an Apron Strings membership...the gift that gives all year long.  There are several pre-pay options available on the website.   A more budget-friendly way is to just sign-up with the recipient as the ship-to person, then you just let me know how long to run the membership for.  There's also a gift card option (in increments of $25.) 

Today, because I can't find my camera cable to upload photos of the snow, or the cookies. . .I leave you with this inspiration, from Sous Chef Jennifer Halleck, using the Smaller than a Breadbox kit, the Echo Park line (I just love, love this line.)  She also used the December Sketch.

Off to pick up the mounds of wet outer gear that I'm sure, despite my asking them not to, the boys have tossed in huge wet piles in the laundry room.

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Five Days and Counting

I have decided I will be one of those hair-on-fire, get-the-heck-out-of-my-way shoppers come Friday - and I'm embracing that.  I will no long fuss or fight the fact that, once again, no matter how much I wish otherwise, I am a late shopper.  I do, however, have a couple positives - my side of the family is not celebrating on Christmas Day, as usual, we will celebrate a week later.  So I'm holding off on that shopping (sorry, guys if you're reading this ;))  And my Secret Santa gifts on the other side of the family are purchased and shipped, as are gifts for my sisters kids in Kentucky.  So I guess that's something.  The rest will come as it is supposed to.  If your in the western suburbs of Denver. . .look out, I'll be on a mission.

Last night, because my days are crazy, as I was tossing together dinner, I thought, "I'll make cookies."  My annual cookie bake will most likely not be happening as more than half the family is gone. . .so I thought, I'll just make a couple batches over a couple days.  Sounded good.  I even had the pound of butter sitting out and softening.  Then I made the mistake after dinner, to sit for a moment. . .bad, bad idea.  The thought of getting up to clean the kitchen from dinner, let alone stand and bake cookies, was just too much.  So, I'll give it a go again today.  Maybe if I start earlier.

Or maybe a look-see at this adorable layout, from Sous Chef Amy Crockett, will inspire me to bake later, because clearly the thought of my favorite cookie isn't cutting it, LOL.  Her layout captures all the joy of Christmas Morning and I love the throw-back feel of the photos (whether that was intentional or not, I love it.)

Actually, all that's doing is making me wish I had an hour, shoot 30 minutes, to sit and create a page.  Hmmm. . .that's not a bad idea either. . .

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday. . .I'm Pretty Sure

I'm pretty sure it's Monday.  Unlike last THURSDAY, when I titled my post "Friday. . ."  Ah. . .yeah, like I need to lose a day, you know because I'm so caught up I can afford to lose a day. . .sha, NOT.

The weekend went quickly and it felt like I was doing things.  Only time will tell what I did and what I forgot to do.  Christmas, it seems, won't be stopped or even slowed down.  I did a little online shopping; now the come the positive thoughts that the mail trucks don't get slowed by the storm, or product not in stock even though they said they were in.  You know, all the fun things you think of when you place an order five days before you need it to be at your door.

I'm needing some serious time with some paper and adhesive, paper and adhesive that isn't related to wrapping presents.  If you're in that space too, go take a peek at Sous Chef Maria Swiatkowski's December Daily album on her blog.  Well, the cover and an inside page - loving the cover!!! 
Sous Chef Amy Crockett has several pieces in the the Cricut magazine, but in December issue she's got the cover, too.  Apron Strings was her first design spot and look at her now!  And while it may be a little late for this year, you could certainly make one for next year using up scraps from creating with your December kits ;), but check out her cute countdown calendar.  Shoot, you could alter it to countdown to a birthday, a big vacation or things-to-do-over-summer-break.

Now maybe it's because my own cards sit unfinished on my desk (actually they're in a drawer. . .sshhh), or simply because they're just cute, but these cards made from scraps of the December Bigger than a Breadbox kit, the Bazzill Holiday Style line, by Sous Chef Maria are just to adorable.  I love the simplicity of them. . .I mean a block of paper, a strip of coordinating pattern, a punched circle and a punched mat for it - she used a stamp, but you could find a digital image, create your own image or use left over embellies.  Quick and easy!  Love that.

I'm off to try to figure out my day - there are way too many options.

Happy Monday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Ah, a bright, crisp day.  10 days and counting. . .eek!  I see a last minute dash to complete my shopping in my future.  Oh well, for me it wouldn't be the holidays if I wasn't running like a lunatic anyway.

I was out and about early this morning, driving kids to and fro, and listening to one of my podcasts, PaperClipping Roundtable.  It's one of my favorite scrapbook podcasts - lots of ideas and thought provoking talks, hearing the voices of some industry leaders like Stacy Julian and Ali Edwards.  So, imagine my surprise to hear, during the email segment, the hosts mention Briel Schmitz. . .could it be the Briel?  The Apron Strings member, who also frequently shares her work here during challenges?  I think it might be!  I love hearing or seeing people with an Apron Strings connection out in the "real world."  So fun.

Add to the fun by sharing another layout using the December Bigger than a Breadbox kit, the Authentique side, from Maria Swiatkowski.  I love Maria's layouts lately because I can tell she's big into using her mists, which seem to "mist"ify me!  LOL, sorry, it's been a really looonnnggg week.  But she uses it so simply, just dusting the backgrounds of her pages.  So simple, such a great affect.

Well, one more day of school for my boys - and a half day at that.  Today my daughter wraps up her first go-round at finals - or as she says it F.I.N.A.L.S!  She did amazing though, once I talked her down from the ledge.  We're trying to settle back into our regular routines after having dear husband working a "Catastrophic Failure" over the last four days - I think we counted that he slept about 12 hours over those four days.  We'll get there.  Presents will be bought and wrapped.  A batch of Christmas cookies may even get made.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Goodbye. . .Hello to Come

Good Morning.  Did you know there's only 11 days left until Christmas?  Really, just 11.  I'm not really sure how it happened upon me so quickly. . .I mean I was just carving a turkey for crying out loud!  I need to do some serious shopping and it looks like I'll be paying the crap-I-waited-too-long outrageous shipping fees.  How's shopping on your end?  And if you're one of those who finished before Halloween, you can just be quiet.

On a super-fun positive note, Sous Chef Laura not only has a card picked up for Paper Crafts magazine, but she's got a "Cover Shot."  Way to go Laura!!!

Speaking of Sous Chefs, the 2011 team of wonder designers reign is over.  I'd like to take a moment to thank them for the fantastic work over the year and their loads of inspiration that they share with us all.  Thank you to:
  •  Amy - who will be leaving us after many years designing both cards and layouts. She's got a full-plate of things she's doing - it won't be hard to find her work.  Her wonderful creativity will be missed. . .as will her constant push to get me to use my Cricut.
  •  Anet - whose wonderfully clean lined layouts speak to me, and to others who enjoy a less can be so much more approach.
  • Jennifer - a great multi-photo, multi-page designer (after my own heart) and a good ear over coffee or Chick-Fil-A
  • Kristin - whose energy and spirit shines through on her pages loud and clear
  • Laura - who will also be leaving us after many years designing cards.  Laura, as you can see is on to great things - keep your eye out, because you'll see her everywhere.
  • Maria - whose adorable layouts are only made cuter by her little pixie girls.
  • Melanie - an extremely talented card designer, who is also an amazing paper crafter. 
  • Sarah - an amazing designer whose layouts seemed effortless and whose turn-around time is insane!  Made only more insane when you know she's a mom of four, one who is just a couple months old, and was in mid-move on her last rotation!
Thank you ladies, one and all!

I'm off to try to figure out what to do about this Christmas-shopping-day-shortage I seem to have come up against.

Happy Wednesday,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2012 Sous Chef Call

Are you a Sous Chef in the making? 

I'm looking for two more designers to round out the 2012 team.  If cards are your passion, you could be my gal.  I'm also looking for one layout designer.  Sous Chefs will be required to meet the deadlines and produce a specific number of pieces (depending on the kit you work with), work exclusively with the kit ingredients, provide high quality .jpgs or scans of the pieces, share their work and "chat up" Apron Strings on their blogs and or message boards.  I welcome tutorials for the blog here, just tell me what you've got.

From me, you'll get your kits to work with for free and a 20% discount to be used throughout the year. 

Send examples of your original work to (you don't need to create new work, or work with an Apron Strings kit.  I mean I won't stop you, if that's what you want to do, but the deadline is a short one) .  Include three or four examples of your work (cards or layouts or both), your blog address and any boards you are active on, as well as any other design teams, by Wednesday, December 14th.  Given trouble I've had this year with getting kits to my international designers, I'm sorry to say that I have to limit my search to those living in the US.

I look forward to your submissions.

Another Peek

With shipping of the December kits set to take place here soon, thought you'd like another little nibble of the December kits.  Today it's from Sous Chef Maria Swiatkowski and the December Bigger than a Breadbox, the Bazzill line. 
I love the theme of the page. . .we have an Elf, Abbott, who gets into more trouble than the kids; today he had his head stuck in the cereal container -- I'll have to recreate for the photo.  His first year with us, a letter was written to Santa telling him that Abbott hadn't done his job very well.  LOLOLOL. 

On Maria's layout can you see she misted the cardstock an that she has pen stitching.  Love those little touches.

Long day ahead.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Round Up

And no. . .not the tumbling/gymnastic type of round up, I could never get my limbs to cooperate on that.  I mean, seriously, a jumping-jack was a scary sight.

However, last week, in my review of how my 2011 goals went I mentioned The Round Up, an Ali Edwards idea that comes from another blogger, Katie Nelson (whose blog I intend following, just need to click that button. . . )  I'm looking for ways to incorporate more of the everyday stuff, a 2012 goal.  I'm not sure I necessarily want to scrapbook it per se, but incorporating notes from a given month or day on a page wouldn't be out of the question.  This type of journaling is also something I've often wished I had when I have pictures that don't necessarily have a theme, or they're another birthday, holiday, school deal, or just a photos that don't have a particular story. I think writing down these kinds of thoughts, lists or ideas would be a fun way to put the words and photos together.

With that, here is my November Round Up: 
  1. What books and/or magazines did I read this month?  No books.  :(  Magazines, I continued my two fold reading.  1) to clear out my excessive stash of unread photos, and 2) slowing down for a moment over breakfast and taking a little me time.  With that I read back issues of Memory Makers (yes, I told you it was old!), Creating Keepsakes, Real Simple and a Woman's Day (I think, it was from my mom.)
  2. What movies, television shows, plays, etc. did I watch this month?  No movies really.  We DVR almost everything we watch. . .so Walking Dead!  Hello, this is a must see for us.  My sister and I usual hash it out after the episodes, but have been known to call during one.  Dancing With the Stars, Chopped, and the new show, Hell on Wheels.  Why are those dark, smoldering, fault-laden characters so darn gorgeous!!
  3. What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?  Met a friend at our usual haunt, Chick-Fil-A, for lunch.  Celebrated my son's birthday.  Cooked and enjoyed Thanksgiving.  As for fun. . .hmmmm, sadly I'm hard-pressed to think of something fun that I was involved in.  That can't be good. 
  4. What gifts did I give and/or receive?  We're still on the hunt, no pun intended, for Tom's hunting boots.  Having a tough time finding a style and size.  Oh we'll find the style, but they don't have his size.  Or they have his size, but the boot won't work for conditions in hunting.  Sigh. . . .
  5. What special or unusual purchases did I make?  This would mean I went shopping. . . LOL. . .this is too funny.  I have not been shopping for non-essentials in so long, I can't tell you.
  6. What illnesses or health concerns did I have?  Thank God, none
  7. What were my accomplishments this month?  These are well documented in previous posts.  No need to rehash it.
  8. What were my disappointments this month?  For now, I'll keep these private, save-to-say, I can't think of something fun I did with my family.  That's just disturbing.
  9. How did I do on my goals for the month? (Or any current short or long term goals)  Again, well documented in a previous post.
  10. Anything else noteworthy to include?  Not this time around.
Ali (and Katie) also include the following monthly tasks.  Some are more of a big deal, for me, than others, but I'll list them all in case you're looking tools to help you get organized in 2012.  I started on the photo thing, and then got side tracked by a panic attack when I thought of other things more pressing. 
  1. Upload all digital pictures to my hard drive and clear off memory cards in camera. Place all photos for the month in a computer folder labeled with the month and year. Make a backup copy of the photos from the month on my external hard drive and a dvd. I also upload all photos to my flickr account (you can use any offsite photo storage site, but here is why I love flickr). Ideally, these activities should be done every time you process any pictures through your computer so you don’t lose any precious files, but if you have lapsed during the month, now’s the time to get it done!
  2. Choose photos or digital layouts to be printed out and get it done while I’m thinking about it.
  3. Backup any other documents or files as needed. I use an external hard drive, I also upload many documents to Google docs. I don’t like to lose stuff.
  4. Backup my blog. It’s easy to do if you have one, just use Typepad backup or blogger backup.
  5. Clean off my work area, empty my inbox, and clean up my computer files. Here’s a link to my digi organization post.
Go, round up your November and start in on those monthly tasks.  It's time we got organized instead of just playing.  ;)

Happy Wednesday.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bright and Cold Tuesday

It's snowy.  It's clear.  It's even sunny.  But it's downright cold.  It was 2 last night.  I think it's 10 now.  And break out the shorts, it'll be mid-20s for the high.  Actually, it's great weather to hunker down and decorate or bake or start a nice big pot of potato soup, or shoot, just to craft away.  Now, how do I thaw my fingers enough to manipulate a pair of scissors?

St. Nick visited our house this morning to fill the shoes outside the kids' doors.  Naturally they are dad's shoes as they hold more.  ;)  St. Nick is a nice fellow, bringing new holiday pajamas and then gifts that remind us about being a family and sharing or doing things together, and more so when the kids were little, our faith.  This year he lugged up a new desk chair, so mommy isn't having hers stolen (hey, I didn't say I had to share), the Cars 2 movie - load up the butter on the popcorn tonight, a water balloon pump (clearly not for this time of year, unless we're looking for ice balloons) and a Mind Games book (which is already being taken over by one child - again, share?)  Dealing with St. Nick and his goodies always throws us off on school days, but he's a nice thing to wake up to.

Looking for something to get you rolling today?  How about this adorable layout by Sous Chef Anet Tietjen.  Anet is using the December Bigger than a Breadbox kit; the Authentique line.  I love this line for its traditional colors and vintage feel.  I love the glimmer velvet ribbon in there. . .nothing like a little tinsel!

Chores will keep me warm, but they're not near as fun as playing.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Morning Q & A

It was a fairly nice weekend, if you don't count the sub-freezing temps and snow.  Some stuff was finished - the tree.  Some stuff was started - laundry.  Some stuff was continued - decorating the rest of the house continues, book-work continues, kit sorting continues, and my Thanksgiving recipes are tossed back in the pile o'shame.  Which had me refer again to ya'lls suggestions about my binder with the following questions: 
  • Briel,  you had the great idea of putting the recipes you like in the cover of the book they came out of.  Do you do anything else to know which books hold which recipes or do you just flip open the covers until you find your notes? 
  • Kristin, it's a glorious mess, but yes, time consuming when you're shuffling through them every time to find what you need.  Do you purchase pre-partitioned pages or do you make your own by sewing them? 
  • JLP - I did realize as I was searching for my sweet potato recipe, stored in the offensive binder, that there were probably quite a few recipes that I have either made and didn't like or weren't really appealing anymore.  Now, did I toss them as I was looking?  Heck no, that would have made sense.  So go you for tackling that one! 
  • HEY Beth!!  I like the tapping smaller notecards to full sheets of paper - money saving too. 
  • Patchi - I like the scrapbook idea - I'd like to reuse the binder I have, it has dividers as well; at least until it's full.  It's 8 1/2 x 11, and I do have some spare protectors hanging around.  I agree, protectors are good for spills and flour and spoon marks. 
And then there are the answers to questions like, "What can I do with this month's Smaller than a Breadbox kit?"  Well, just take a peek at what Sous Chef Amy Crockett did here with the My Little Shoebox portion of the Smaller kit.  Too cute!  See more of Amy's fantastic work on her blog HERE.

Catch Apron Strings sponsoring this week's sketch challenge over at Let's Scrap.  If you're looking for a jumping off place, sketches are always a fast easy way to get rolling.
Happy Monday,

Friday, December 2, 2011

Month-end Round-up

Ahh. . I really like Ali Edwards.  Her blog is a constant source of information and inspiration.  One Little Word.  Simplify is my 2011 word.  December Daily.  Week in the Life.  Various posts that drill home, "there is no perfect or right way."  Engage.  Be Present (this is a constant work in progress).  And so much more.

Now I have this:  Monthly Round-up.  I think it'd be a fun way to track what's going on on a monthly basis.  Now if I can combine it with her other "monthly-to-do" items in that post, I'll be golden.  Actually, I did start to mess with my digital photos - I have some coupons and credits to use up.  But all of this comes about because I'm starting to look at my 2012 objectives and this will be added to my list.

As we come up on this last month of the year I'm looking back at the goals I set in January.  I was posting monthly updates on my progress with them, but I think the last post was in August. . .though I kept on top of the goals, I just haven't posted.  I have to say, laying it all out for everyone to see has definitely kept them in my mind all year and I think I was more productive because of it.
  • Eating/Meal Planning - I just wanted to make my life easier by planning our meals around the schedule of the week.  Cut down on our eating out.  I did pretty go overall.  We definitely ate home more often.  Though I didn't start out strong with menus for the week, I have definitely ended that way.  For the past few months I've mapped out weekly meals; life is more simple when I do.  Tonight - turkey noodle soup. ;)
  • I wanted to improve my eating.  This is sort of the reverse of meal planning.  I started out strong with eating three meals and snacking healthily.  The last few months and the changes within them have cause my good habits to fly right out the window.  I'm working on getting that back on track as well.  Some days have been better than others.
  • I wanted to incorporate some worthwhile movement into my life.  I was doing plenty of walking, stair climbing, bending and lifting, but I've been told household chores and chasing the 3 y.o. doesn't count.  So I was going to walk.  I had moments that were good.  Overall, it just didn't happen.  I'm not surprised, since no matter what I called it, it was exercise - my feelings about exercise are well documented.  I'm not giving up on it, and will take another swing at it in 2012.
  • I wanted to get my house (or disorganized pockets of it) and my chores under control and back on schedule.  The house cleaning is back, more or less, into a routine.  I made decent dents in various cluttered spots over the year - the kids' rooms (though they seem to need another go through), a couple closets, a few cupboards, some drawers.  Plenty of items have been given away, but it must multiple overnight because it seems there's always more to deal with. 
  • I wanted to really carve out Me Time and I think I did pretty good.  The last couple of months aside, I got out to crop once a month, I read three books and have been plowing through magazines.  The magazines are double-duty, falling under the heading of both "Me Time" and organizing.  I read them over breakfast and I had a huge back-log that I have a nice dent in.
  • I wanted to wrangle my Studio Space into something that was more inviting rather than the terror-of-doom it had become.  Overall, it remains a work in progress.  IKEA was put on hold.  But it is 1,000 times better than it was at the start of the year.  It definitely ebbs and flows with clutter, but it's certainly much better.  I'll continue working on it here and there and over Christmas Break I really hope it's in a more "working order" condition.
I think I'll save the actual "Round-Up" part for next week.  How did your year wind up?  Did you make progress or take giant leaps backwards?

Happy Friday!