Friday, August 29, 2014

It's Time to Get Your Own Supplies

You've shopped for the students in your home that are heading back to school, now it's time to get your Back-to-School supplies - as in the kids are back in school, I get to craft.

You'll find 
Wood and Cork Embellishments, Buttons, Brads, Flairs, Journaling Cards and, of course, Paper.  And because there's never enough paper, when you buy three Second Helpings of Paper, you'll get the fourth for FREE.

Shop now by hitting the "Sale" aisle and filling your basket with supplies that are all yours!

Go.  Shop.

Friday Recap and Pantry Staples

Well, everyone is back in school.  The last two started on Monday.  

Senior photos were taken last weekend and we received the proofs a couple nights ago.  The Senior is very please.  The parents are very pleased.  What we like, she rarely does.  Luckily, what she likes, we also like.  Now it's just a matter of narrowing it down to what will go on the wall.  

Last Friday I had a list of to-do's and I'm happy to say the shelves are up and that room is as finished as it's going to get.  It's true their box springs and mattresses are still on the floor, but hubby is building their beds and it's all him on that front.  

Two 20 pound boxes of peaches are down to just seven lonely peaches.  I made jam this morning.  I'll whip up a Peach Crisp for dinner tonight and use up the last of the survivors.
I didn't make it to the farmer's market or the Polish festival.  

I did make some good progress on my horizontal surfaces, and happily they are still pretty clear, with the exception of one - my kitchen desk.  It seems to be the ultimate collection point.  I did clean out the junk drawer - one of those nobody-notices-it-but-me places.  But it feels good to open the drawer and find a pen that works.  Well, just finding a pen is a huge plus.  That it works is just icing.

I did spend a decent amount of time in the basement, cleaning and moving and shuffling.  

I purposely left off any mention of being crafty.  Experience has shown that when I mention my plans, I don't get squat done.  So, I went for silence, sort of reverse psychology, and it seems to have worked.  I completed three layouts and pulled products for a fourth.  So for that reason, alone, I will remain mum again for this weekend.
This week my menu planning came straight out of Taste of Home, however there were some pantry staples that I don't buy (or have been trying not to) and made them from scratch, thanks to Pinterest finds. 
Quick Marinara Sauce - I've been trying to find a quick and easy marinara sauce for a long time.  Most sauces take some simmering, or the "quick" ones don't have much flavor (which comes from the slow simmering), so I tend to grab a tested brand from the grocery shelves instead.  I finally found a quick sauce that tastes great and is, indeed, fast - 15 minutes.  I used tomato sauce instead whole or diced tomatoes and dried basil (because it's what I had when I first tried the recipe.)  I simmered it the 15 minutes and then it just sat while I prepped the rest of the meal.  All I can say is, Buh-bye canned sauce!
Granola Go To Bars - I've had this recipe pinned and printed for some time.  I was looking for something quick and this recipe was certainly that, even with toasting the oats and almonds; I did other chopping and mixing while they toasted up and I think it took me 20-25 minutes start to cooling.  I didn't have dried apples (can't find them. . .who knew dried apples were the holy grail of dried fruit?), so I opted to go for cherries and mini chocolate chips.  NOTE:  if you opt to include chips wait for the oat mixture to cool or the chips melt.  Though now I'm wondering if they'd melt when you bake the bars, too.  Someone ate all my sunflower seeds, so those weren't in there either.  But they're good and they're easy and switching up fruits would to totally easy.  I'll just need to find a different recipe for chippy granola bars.
Homemade Chili Mix - I have never purchased Chili Mix.  My go-to chili recipe doesn't use it, so I've never had a reason to have it on hand, until today.  I needed it to make my brisket.  This particular recipe I halved.  I may need to find a recipe for chili that calls for a mix, because the mix alone smells really good.  With a couple adjustments it can also be a taco meat seasoning or a blackened seasoning.
Butter Dip Biscuits - Now, I've made these before and they have become my go-to biscuit.  Their buttery and crispy on top and chewy.  With the start of school I decided to make a batch and split them to fill with eggs and sausage for my High Schoolers to grab-and-go.  I had one today and . . . yum.
We have no plans for the extended weekend so that means everything is possible!
Happy Friday,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Adventures in Purging - Part 5

I continued my purging/organizing of my studio space over the weekend.  If the light bulb hasn't gone on in this area yet, let me help - Organizing/Purging are not a one and done thing.  It is, or should be, a constant part of your routine.  Pulling out papers that don't hit the mark anymore.  Trying a method for organizing your buttons, using it and finding it doesn't work, means trying something else.  I've found once you've done a major purge and organize session, the rest is just maintenance.  Whether it's flipping to find paper and you pass over paper you keep passing over so you pull it, or you find a system for organizing your stash isn't quite working.

Like what we have here.  Tags, journaling cards, labels, tiny diecuts, and heaven knows what else, used to be just a pile, which didn't work because the pile ended up a puddle, with stuff everywhere.  Then I moved them to a square, wide-mouthed canister.  This worked until the contents started overflowing the mouth of the container and stuff was just jammed in there.  Plus, I couldn't get my hand in, so I ended up dumping everything out every time I wanted to flip through them.  Which was totally annoying and I just avoided looking altogether, which meant I wasn't using anything.

You can see the canister in the background.  The foreground are the items that were sticking out the top.  System here. . .not so great.  Rethink-it time.  I came upon a possible solution based on how I was looking through the items; dumping it out and simply sifting through.  I new the new solution needed to allow me to do, just that.  Flip.

I set out to sorting things out.  There were things in there that no longer held my interest (some never did), or were from a paper line that I'd used and was over.  Granted there were blank cards and tags, most of which I kept, but there are things that just didn't do it and I couldn't think of an immediate or alternate use, so according to past posts (here are Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4) those pieces were culled from the herd.

I'm a see-it-to-use-it person.  Most of my embellishments are in clear jars or open baskets. Knowing this, and the trouble with the previous solution, I knew I was looking for something open and flip-through-able.  I saw these ceramic fruit baskets at Kohl's and knew, bingo, I'd found my new solution.  It's not quite a homerun though.  A lot of the small tags and bits slip through the holes, so I either need a small tin (which I have) that I can set in the front of the basket, or they need to go back into the original canister - which is what I've done for now.  If I don't reach for the little things, it's probably a good clue that I won't ever and out they will go.  If I do, I'll try the tin and see. 

In the end, I added another small stack of goodies to the give away box and have a cleaner, more workable solution.  I think this basket will also work for some large chipboard pieces and rub-on alphabet stacks . .if there are any left once I go through the purging process.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We Are

  • We are not letting the rain dampen our Senior photo shoot.
  • We are hosting an unusual Sunday morning visitor in our backyard.  And he had a friend, a hawk (in the same tree) whose screeching woke us in the early morning.
  • We are partaking in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  • We are enjoying Dumbo on our final night of Summer Break
  • We are officially ALL in 
  • We are teaching a new generation in the tactical art of Battleship
Happy  Wednesday,

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Takes on the August Sketch

Can you believe it's almost September?  Where has the year gone?  This weekend I got a nice taste of the autumn to come.  Cool temps.  Light breezes with just faint, lingering hints of warmth.  It was glorious.

This is the exclusive sketch, from Becky Fleck of Page Maps, that you found in the August scrapbook kits - so the Bigger and Smaller than a Breadbox kits.  If you're not yet an autoship member you really should join today.

The August sketch has slots for five photos.  You can see this post for more suggestions on making the sketch work for more or less photos.

Here, Maria Swiatkowski, stayed pretty true to the sketch using the American Crafts #Summer line found in the Smaller August kit.  She added margins between the vertical 4 x 6" and square photos.  She also moved the placement of her title, which she shifted under her 3 1/2" square photo on the right.

Nancy Longo used the Simple Stories DIY Boutique, also from the August Smaller kit, on her sketch layout.  She, too, has an almost a dead-on translation of the sketch.  Her only change, the journaling went from strips to a block.

Carta Bella Summer Lovin' from the Bigger kit is what Jennifer Halleck picked for her sketch layout, which includes an additional photo.  Her layout has a more grid feel to it with the addition of patterned paper, journaling cards and buttons under each of the photos.  She opted for vertical photos instead of square and turned her vertical 4 x 6" photo horizontal.  With the additional photo on the far right, she opted to move her strip journaling below the photos and reduced the weight of her title by using small block stickers.

Finally, we have Kristin Perez's layout, using the Fancy Pants Nautical line from the Bigger kit.  Kristin changed things up pretty good.  She has seven photos:  one additional square photo is added under the three on the left side and she's turned her vertical 4 x 6" photo into two smaller horizontal photos.  While she could have kept the placement of the title, she opted to move it above her photo and left off journaling.

Have you used your sketch for August?  If so. . .share.  If not. . .hop to it.

Happy Tuesday,

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Plans

It's supposed to be cool and rainy today, with comfortable temps this weekend.  Comfortable temps motivate me, so, naturally, I've got plans.
  • My daughter is having her senior pictures done, and she'd like me to tag along.
  • It'd be cool to hit the farmer's market.
  • There's a Polish Festival that would be fun, if I can find anyone else who'd think it would be fun.
  • I've got a box of peaches quickly ripening on my counter. . .I'm thinking jam, especially with the forecast of cooler weather.
  • There are shelves to be hung in the last of the repainted bedrooms.  I want to get the last of their gear up and out, just in time for school to start for them on Monday.
  • I'd like to reclaim cluttered counters, benches and other flat surfaces that seem to have become big-time collection points.
  • If all that fails, there's always something to deal with in the basement.
I get the night off from cooking for my in-laws tonight, as they have other plans so I'll shuffle my menu for tonight to Monday.  I planned this week mostly from Taste of Home, but have a couple pinned items to share.

Mini Garlic Monkey Bread - Yeah, I make my own hamburger buns, but sometimes you just need easy, so you grab that tube of dough.  And when the outcome is really good, it works and it will be repeated. (And yeah, I'll probably try it with homemade dough, too.)

Key Lime Pie Magic Cake - I'm not sure what my expectations were for this dessert, maybe like a Gooey Cake, but it was more like a cheesecake.  It was a few more steps than I usually choose in desserts, especially in the summer, but it was worth it.  It was light and creamy with a light lime tang.  I've contemplated adding zest to the mix. . .I go back and forth, though.

Summer Carbonara - This recipe wasn't something I pinned, rather it's from my Taste of Home magazine.  Luckily I did find it on Pinterest.  I like trying to get my kids to eat veggies in different ways, so chopped, sauteed and covered with Parmesan cheese and bacon, worked for the majority of the kids.  And, happily, the majority of the veggies.

If I'm gonna make the most of my last day of summer break, I'd best get to it.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Are There Bad Photos?

I've been scrapbooking some older photos, taken with my SLR film camera.  Film cameras.  They sort of forced you to know how to take a good photo, or at least try to.  There was no looking at the screen and seeing all the errors of composition, lighting and focus, which allowed you to retake the photo.  Nope, instead you did your best, took the shot (or three) and hoped for the best when your film was developed.  Film and developing was too costly to just fire away.

I'm not a great photographer by any stretch of the imagination.  I get a lucky shot now and then, that I think is great, but mostly they are just passable.  I think I've improved over the years - or maybe it's just a result of the digital age - but I do look through the viewfinder with a little more thought.  Even though I shoot digital, almost always with my phone, I do try to compose better, be more aware of the light and focus, try different vantage points.  I don't want 5000 shots of one event.  I don't post-process.  I don't do digital photo organization.  So I tend to be more thoughtful even with digital photography.

Which brings me to my question:  Are there bad photos?  I've scrapped some under-lighted, fuzzy, grainy, blown-out, taken-to-far-away photos.  I've contemplated not putting them on the page.  But then I look at the subjects or the event and I decide to include them (cropping improves some of them.)  In that grainy, school program shot from the fifth row of the unlit cafa-gym-atorium, I captured my daughter's fourth grade class.  All those kids she went to school with from kindergarten through eighth grade - some she still attends school with - are now seniors.  You can see that layout HERE

The photo above with my son and daughter, was taken on their first day of school (really it was their second, but I wasn't around when they left for their first day.)  I've taken first day photos in front of the door since they were in pre-school.  The light is always hideous, regardless of the time of day, but even more so at 7:00 am.  But these pictures are about other things, too.  Like now, you can barely see the door handle.  There was a time their heads barely cleared it.  Shoot there was a time he was so much smaller than she was.  I've had stoic faces, super excited faces and nervous faces in this spot.  I love this one because it captures something I don't often get on camera - the connection between the two of them.

Here are some other not-so-great photos and why I would probably include them on a layout, despite their flaws.

These days it's tricky to get all four kids in any photo.  More often than not, these are the results when I do have them all in frame - the "creeper" look they all seem fond of photo bombing each other with.  Not paying attention.  Realizing I'm trying to take a picture and turning away.  In general, spoiling what was, a second a go, a pretty decent candid shot.  Why would I include it?  For the reasons just stated above.

Aside from the fact that his clothes coordinate with the wall color he's applying, it's under exposed, fairly grainy and blurry because of the lack of light and the fact that he's rolling on paint at the speed of sound.  So why include this?  Well for one, the giant smudge of paint in his hair.  Plus, at this point in time, he's all about keeping up with his older siblings.  He wants to be where they are, doing what they're doing.  This photo represents the long awaited "ok" to come up and help his sister with painting her room.

Though the color is a bit off, it's also fairly out of focus - which seems to be an issue with most photos of him, because he's constantly on the move - I'll include this one because it captures the moment he came up, sputtering, from holding his breath and having his head, almost, underwater.  A big deal for him and a giant step from the wall clinging he did only last summer.

Aaannndd. . .I'm willing to concede there might be some photos that need not be included. Chances are there's something better, not perfect, but better.  Buuttt, if this was the only photo from the Family Field Day Kick-ball Game, you bet I'd include it.  I'd make it work.

Could I edit them.? Probably.  But, as I said before, I don't edit; it's too time consuming for me.  I'd rather focus on getting a better shot to begin with.

Maybe it's sentiment.  Maybe I'd have chosen not to scrap those photos of my, then, 4th grade daughter's program if I'd actually done them when she was in the fourth grade.  But I think there is no such thing as a bad photo.  Sometimes there's more, beyond the underexposed, blurry image.  It's about the story.  It's about the moment.  It's about capturing your life.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We Are

  • We are way too adept at playing xBox.
  • We are seeing evidence that summer doesn't have much longer. . .WooHoo!
  • We are hangin' at the high school with big brother during schedule changes.
  • We are at the Hit and Run 5K Denver.
  • We are takin' Dad to find sister on the next obstacle
  • We are all wet at the Big Balls
  • We are finished
  • We are having peaches with pretty much everything for the next week or so
  • We are a pie maker
  • We are finally bidding adieu to Mount Giveaway after weeks of growing in my living room
  • We are kicking back with a Cherry Lime slush (whoever invented Cherry Vodka is a genious)
  • We They are ushering in their first sunrise as Seniors, Class of 2015 (OMG. . .how are we here. . .so soon?)
  • We are always awed by Colorado's clouds
  • We are at the first day of school - Sophomore and Senior (it's been 13 years since there were just two kids in the "first day" photo  . . . sniff)
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sketches on Tuesday

Dang, we're well into August, which not only means school has started for two of my four kids - today for the High Schoolers - but autoship members should be in full possession of their August kits.  In those fun little boxes they're finding this exclusive sketch from Becky Fleck over at PageMaps.

Sketches are the ultimate, flex tool.  Take a look at this month's sketch which, as is, has space for five photos.  Either side of the 2-page sketch will stand up on its own, giving you a 1-pager with two or three photos depending on which side you use.

Have more photos?  Stack two 3 1/2 x 3 1/2" photos where you see just one.  Do that the entire length of the spread, or pick and choose where you stack photos. . .maybe just an additional photo under the second photo on the left side is all you need.  You can also divide the one 4 x 5 1/2" photo into two 4 x 3" photos.  You could even do a mini grid of four 2 x 3" photos.

Have less pictures, but want a 2-page spread?  Go horizontal by using the space of two of the 3 1/2" square photos with one 6 x 4 vertical photo.  Replace any of the photo blocks with patterned paper, move the strip journaling to one of the photo spaces or just simply remove any of the 3 1/2" square photos. You could even convert the 4 x 5 1/2" photo block into a mini grid of patterned papers and embellishments.  Go super-size and replace both photos on the right with one 5 x 7" or 8 x 10" photo.

Don't forget there's rotating the sketch to accommodate the orientation of your photos.  Mix and match any of the ideas to best suit your needs.  You could easily use 4 x 6" vertical photos straight across, if you needed to (some photos just can't be cropped.)

What will you do with the August sketch?  This month, challenge yourself to use the sketch more than once and see how even just different papers and embellishments changes things.  There's no shame in reusing a sketch.

Happy Tuesday,