Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Designing with Stampin' Up!


Hello there! Once again I fell off the blogging bandwagon when summer hit. Those ten weeks flew by in a flurry of trips to the pool, camps, cross country vacations, and a certain new man in my life. Yes, life has been crazy hectic but I have made cardmaking/scrapbooking a priority during the month of August. I recently received a box of Stampin' Up! products to play with and I must say I love what I came up with. 

First up is a card I created with the lovely Jar of Love stamp set. I have several mason jar stamp sets but this one is unique because it comes with three sizes of jars, jar lids, plus a ton of cute flowers, fish, and other items to stamp inside (and outside) of the jars. It really is a complete stamp set and makes creating fast cards a breeze.  



Stampin' Up! has a limited edition stamp set available this month named Thoughtful Branches. I wanted to create a clean and simple card using the gorgeous tree stamps and dies (and a sentiment, too), and ended up using this stamp set exclusively. Thoughtful Branches is available until August 31st (or until supplies last). 


My collection of woodland creature stamp sets is embarrassingly large, but who can resist a cute little fox sitting on a tree stump? Definitely not me. The Foxy Friends stamp and punch set is a must have for animal lovers like me. 

I used a grad background for my card, breaking the card into three quadrants. I used white cardstock and two pieces of patterned paper, then used foam adhesive to adhere the tag. I used dimensional adhesive to add the cardstock fox on top.  


I'll have another card or two to post in the coming week. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Week in the Life | Wednesday

Wednesday was not a day I was scheduled to work and it was also an early release day, so I didn't have much planned. The end of the school year is so busy for the kids, and I finished up my spring semester last Friday. We were all looking forward to a day of relaxing, watching (or, as it turned out, listening) to the Mariners, and hanging out as a family. 

A few thoughts about today: 
  • My DSLR is working again and the more I work on this project, the happier I am when I pull out my "big camera" vs. my cell phone. Don't get me wrong, cell phone photos are fine, but there really isn't a comparison when I take shots with my DSLR. 
  • I need to get into more photos! I am terrible at this and my goal for Friday is to be in at least five photos. We'll see how that goes. 
  • I'm not sure how many photos I'm going to have at the end of this project, but I'm aiming for 15-20 "good" photos per day. Wednesday and Thursday I won't hit that number, but I'll be close. Hopefully Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I can be more intentional with my photo taking. 

I woke up to Bailey taking up half the bed, per usual. She is a mama's girl and loves to cuddle with me in the morning before I go wake the kids up for school. 

Out the door around 7:40am to get the kids to school by 7:55am. The boys sometimes take cereal or a bagel for breakfast and usually finish eating it in the car. It makes for a messy car (see the fruit loops on the floor of my van?!), but they like having something to munch on while we drive and listen to music. 

Home from school and both boys plunked themselves in front of the television for some Xbox time. They played Minecraft and Sims and only argued a couple of times. It was a blissful hour and gave me time to work on a few projects of my own. 


A little drumming before chores. Lilly, who was asleep on the couch at the time, was not happy that Jack pulled out his drumsticks and started playing. She quickly fled to the laundry room, looking annoyed.
 
Evan has been pretty good about doing his chores after school with minimal complaints. He unloads the dishwasher, takes care of the litter box, and takes out the garbage for me. 

Jack helped his brother out by taking a bag of trash out to the garbage. Wearing one sock?! I'm sure there was a good reason for him to be missing a sock but I have no idea what that reason is. Goofy kid. 

Both Evan and Jack love the books they picked out at the book fair and have spent a good deal of time reading over the past few days. This is how I found Evan after he finished his chores... on my bed, under the covers and reading. Love him. 


Out the door to do some long overdue grocery shopping. We listened to the radio on our drive to Publix and one of the new 21 Pilots songs played. Both boys belted out the lyrics and I couldn't help but sing along, too. Their love of music is something I cherish. 

Half way through our Publix trip. Gatorade, carrots, cat food, gold fish, garlic, crackers, apples, potatoes, and Capri Suns. 

Only three more days to go! I can't wait to start putting the project together next week.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week in the Life | Monday

I'm breaking back into the blogging world by sharing a few photos from today:  Day One of Ali Edwards' Week in the Life project. Oh yes, I am totally tackling this project this year. I've been "this close" to completing this project in the past but have never finished it. I've taken all the photos or done the journaling (or both!) but haven't completed the album. This year I'm hoping to keep the project up for the full week and finish my album next week.

A few observations from Day One: 
  • My DSLR was having some issues this morning and I almost let that discourage me from continuing the project. Unfortunately my photos today didn't turn out quite like I had hoped, but I still got a few good shots. 
  • I love black + white pictures, especially portraits. They are classic and timeless and allow the subject to shine. Plus, they hide messy car seats and bad lighting. Win-win. 
  •  I need to do a better job of taken photos in the morning, before school. Jack was crabby this morning and Evan and I aren't naturally morning people so I (often) forget to pick up the camera. 
  • Teaching in a window-less classroom isn't ideal. The photo of Jack sitting on a desk is lightened, I upped the contrast, then added a filter before running a B+W action. That is a lost of post processing for one camera photo! 
  • I forgot to get photos of the kids at the book fair and doing homework. I'm choosing not to stress about it; there is always tomorrow. 

A before school selfie. After a good breakfast and finally getting out the door, we had a nice drive to school.

I didn't tell Jack that I was teaching his class today and he was super excited when he found out. 

I had two teachers tell me funny stories about Jack today. 

First, his math teacher told me that she made an announcement in her class last week about missing an upcoming math class. Jack then said to her "please let the sub be Mrs. Taylor". She didn't get to pick the sub and I was already booked in another classroom so she had to break the bad news to him and he was so sad! I love that he wants me to teach him. 

Then, one of the second grade teachers told me that she made a comment to another student about having a good day and offered a hug. Jack, who was standing behind her, piped up and said "I've had a great day, too!". The teacher asked Jack if he would also like a hug and he said "yes!" and gave her a big hug. He is such a sweet little guy. 

Pizza + salad for lunch, courtesy of PCCA. Yay for a yummy free lunch. 

A little reading on our way home from school. We stopped at the book fair after school and the kids each picked out two books. The spring book fair had an awesome selection for older kids and Evan didn't have any problems finding something. Jack was much more difficult. He wanted bookmarks/erasers/Lego sets and not books. Sigh. He is a great reader but all the "shiny stuff" grabbed his attention. After some back and forth he finally settled for two chapter books, which he has already started.

Pretty Mother's Day flowers from my mom. I posted a photo of them on Instagram yesterday but I wanted to include them in this album as well. I love fresh flowers and this arrangement is especially beautiful. 

Mirror selfie. I was wearing a shirt with tiny horizontal stripes that went a little crazy in the photo. I'll choose a less busy shirt for my next selfie. 

Kitty stretches in the afternoon sun. Lilly found herself locked on the patio for a bit this afternoon and was not a happy cat. She likes to go in and out to the patio but does not like being locked on the patio. Panic sets in and she meows like crazy. She was not amused when Jack accidentally locked her out there for 10 minutes this afternoon. 

A little rest before we head to the pool. Jack was super sleepy today, which probably contributed to his crabbiness this morning. 

Pool necessities: good book + ice water + sunscreen + chapstick + cooling cream + cute pineapple pouch to carry it all + beach towel. I have a "pool bag" that is always packed and ready to go. We go to the pool a lot and having the essentials hanging on a hook by the door cuts down on the amount of time we spend running around looking for stuff. 

Pool time. Evan always brings his football, and Jack brings his goggles and sometimes his rings (if he remembers). 

It was not especially warm out today (for us Floridians) and Jack only lasted about 40 minutes in the pool before requesting a towel, teeth chattering. I wrapped him up and we watched Evan play for another few minutes. 


The boys started working on a Lego set Evan received for his birthday while we waited for the pizza to arrive. Evan's favorite character from the new Star Wars movie is Kylo Ren and I was thrilled to find the Kylo Ren Lego set a few months ago. 

 Winding down before bed. Lilly has claimed the leather chair as her own and Jack wanted some cuddles before heading to his room for the night.
 Before bed reading. Evan gets a little extra time in the evenings to read before I turn out the lights. He looks so sleepy here! He didn't last very long after this photo was taken.

I always have this sense of relief when I've reached the end of the day and I remembered to pick up my camera throughout the day. I have a loose plan for tomorrow as our schedule is a little different, plus Evan is having a play date after school. Hopefully it works out and my big camera decides to cooperate. I did some Googling this evening and I think I fixed the problem. It was user error, of course! 


I was featured on the Studio Calico blog as the Member Spotlight last month. If you want to take a look at the blog post you can click here. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hey You | Traditional Layout


I still have the Savannah Main Scrapbook Kit sitting on my desk this week and I've completed three layouts with it so far. This is the second layout I finished, which was inspired by the nested heart dies from Studio Calico. I have several sets of heart dies, but these caught my eye because of the wider shape than most heart dies. How cute did the hearts turn out?!? I was practically giddy when I finished die cutting them. I love it when my vision turns out even better than anticipated.



I started by trimming four photos to 2.75in x 2.75in. I matted them on white cardstock then adhered them to the background cardstock/patterned paper. I added the title "hey you" with red puffy letters from the Savannah kit, then adhered the die cut hearts with foam dots in three places. 


I added a few more embellishments (vellum hearts, sequins, staples, enamel dots), then added a strip of red cardstock behind the photos. The photos were already adhered to the gray cardstock, so I had to cut the red cardstock down and tuck it behind the photos, careful not to adhere the cardstock to the front of the photos. It took a little extra time but the pop of red is exactly what this layout needed.


I used a "neato" badge from a previous Studio Calico kit and added a few more sequins to the top left of the layout. Can I tell you how smitten I am with how this turned out? The fact that Jack's shirt is plaid, and matches the color scheme of the kit, is icing on the cake. The gray, blue, and red color combination is so pretty. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I will be back tomorrow with a card for next week's Retro Sketches challenge.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Big Picture Classes | Hoppy Easter Party


Last fall I debuted my first class at Big Picture Classes (Clean and Simple Cards), and my second class, Hoppy Easter Party, is now live! 

Hoppy Easter Party has four lessons, tons of step by step photos, a super cute stamp set you can purchase to help create your projects, and lots of inspiration! 

Check out the cupcake topper I created. Oh, how cute are these?!? I purchased cupcakes from my local grocery store, added the toppers and voila! The perfect accent for your Easter celebration. 


If you're a subscriber to Big Picture Classes I hope you will check out my class! Feel free to leave questions in the comments below. See you there! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Love Captured | Traditional Layout



I mentioned in this post from January that I want to start posting scrapbooking pages/layouts on my blog more frequently. My personal time (and therefor my crating time) has taken a hit this past year, but I have been creating more layouts when I do sneak away to my office for a few minutes. I took a definite break from traditional scrapbooking from 2010-2013(ish) to focus on cards and digital layouts, and frankly, I was burned out. I still took a ton of photos, which are safely stored on an external hard drive, but now I'm ready to dive back in and turn some of those photos into layouts.

This month's Studio Calico scrapbook kit, Savannah, had me panicking a little when it arrived in the mail. So. Much. Pink! And red, and peach, and gold. With two boys at home I rarely use floral paper on my pages, although I do use a fair amount of red. The patterns are beautiful, though, and I am particularly fond of the puffy alphabet stickers. I love sans serif fonts, and these tall, skinny letters are even cuter in person than on the screen. 


I started with a piece of 8.5x11 inch textured white cardstock. I trimmed the photo down to 8.25x5.5 inches and matted it on a piece of white cardstock, then adhered it to the top of the page. 



To create the bottom of the layout, I trimmed patterned paper from the Savannah kit into 8.5 inch wide strips, with varying heights. I think I ended up uses every single piece of paper in the kit! The gray strip I trimmed shorter than the other strips to allow for the title. Under the title I added the "captured" sticker. Then I added a couple of labels, also from the sticker sheet, on the photo and black and white striped paper.



The teeny tiny hearts were the perfect finishing touch. This photo is one of my favorites from 2015 and I'm happy the page I envisioned in my head translated so well onto paper.


Check back later this weekend for a card for Retro Sketches. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Retro Sketches | Challenge #202

Happy Valentine's Day! We don't typically celebrate Valentine's Day with much fanfare around here, but I did pick up a box of chocolates and some conversation hearts for each of the kids. They will appreciate the gesture (or at least appreciate the candy!) and I feel better as a mom knowing we are celebrating a silly holiday together. 

I'm slowly carving out more time for myself to spend in my office. I have a couple of big projects coming up that I can't share just yet (I know, I'm such a tease!), but I did have time to whip up a stamp-less card for this week's Retro Sketches challenge


I started out with a piece of light blue patterned paper from the Amy Tangerine Better Together 6x6 paper pad, adhered to the bottom on my card. I die cut three butterflies, from Studio Calico's Origami stamp and die set, from the same paper pad and added large enamel dots to the center of each. I picked up the silver glitter tape from Michaels around Christmas, and it added the perfect amount of sparkle to my project. After adhering the butterflies and glitter tape I added strip of black and white thin washi tape, some clear gems, and several layered "hello" die cuts (from Papertrey Ink's Wonderful Words: Hello die).


I hope you can join us this week! Make sure to check out the Retro Sketches blog for more inspiration and a chance to link up your own projects. Have a wonderful Sunday and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What I'm Reading | January 2016



This past year I made a personal goal to spend less time surfing the internet (yes I'm talking about you, Facebook) and more time with my nose in a book. I read quite a few interesting and thought provoking novels in 2015, and a lot of trashy romance novels, too. This year I haven't read as many romance novels and I've added a few good true crime books into the mix, too. Here is what is on my nightstand right now. I've either finished each book or currently working my way through them. I take after my father and I have several books going at once (including a couple of required reading textbooks for my college classes). 

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Maria Kondo. Oh clutter, how I hate you. I go through phases of clutter in my house. During the summer it's toys, books, games, pool noodles, swim trunks, and flip flops. During the school year my counters are covered in papers to be returned to school, lunch boxes, notes, school uniforms, and homework. My desk is always cluttered. Right now my bedroom looks like the stock room at Old Navy... clothes piled on every surface. I am about 30% through Spark Joy and while I wouldn't call it revolutionary, it does make me aware of the problem areas in my home and gives step by step instructions on how to tackle those areas. And who couldn't use more organization in their lives? 

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi. As a true crime enthusiast I was excited to read Helter Skelter, a recommendation from my father. The author, Vincent Bugliosi, was also the lead prosecuting attorney and gave exceptional insight into the cult of Charles Manson, his followers, the Tate/LaBianca murders, and the ensuing trial(s). I highly recommend this book if you're into true crime, although I will warn you, I had a hard time sleeping after reading some of it. I texted a friend that I was certain Charles Manson was going to crawl into my bedroom and murder me. Combine a love of true crime novels with an active imagination and you get some irrational behavior at times! 

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. How did I miss this book when it was released over a decade ago? Funny, witty, charming, heartbreaking... all my favorite things about a good novel. Weiner's main character, Cannie, is one of my favorite female leads in a long, long time. I was sad when I finished this one and I hope to pick up one or two more of Weiner's more recent novels. 

Son: A Psychopath and His Victims by Jack Olsen. My true crime kick continues with the story of the South Hill (Spokane) Rapist. My dad grew up on South Hill Spokane, and his sister was a young woman during the time of these attacks. I devoured this book in under a week and highly recommend it. This book didn't frighten me as much as Helter Skelter, although I have no idea why not; the scenarios in this book are far more likely than a Charles Manson type cult killing.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I read Eat Pray Love many years ago and I must admit I lost interest halfway through the Pray portion of the book. While I enjoyed the story Gilbert was telling, I wasn't overly impressed with her delivery. However, Big Magic has taken me by surprise. Her writing style is succinct and eloquent, and her advice and guidance are well articulated. I am reading this at the same pace I tackle Spark Joy, and both books are placed firmly in my "must read" pile. Balancing work, school, the kids, and my creative efforts has been a struggle these past few months, and Big Magic offers a lot of great advice on how to tackle these seemingly insurmountable problems. 

Thrill Me by Susan Mallery. This is where we take a right turn in my eccentric reading preferences into... the trashy romance novel. Yes, I occasionally pick something up with "Harlequin Romance" written on the spine and only feel a teeny tiny bit guilty about it. More often than not I'll buy the newest Fool's Gold romance by Susan Mallery. Her stories are predictable with just the right about of trashiness to make them fun. What draws me to her books is the continuation of her characters in newer books, and the fictional town of Fool's Gold. If you're looking for a new romance novelist to read, I recommend Mallery. She is by far my favorite (but I'm always looking for suggestions!). 

January was a great month for reading. I finished a few books and started several more, and I have a growing list of books to read for February! I have another Bugliosi book on its way, Mandy Kaling's newest autobiography on the shelf, and several novels on hold at the local library. I hope my "what I'm reading" list has introduced you to a new author, or two. 

I'm always looking for new authors to read so please leave recommendations in the comments! Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Retro Sketches | Challenge #198

Get afternoon! Before I talk about this week's Retro Sketches sketch (and my inspiration card) I wanted to let you know about a class I have over at Big Picture Classes. Last summer BPC approached me about teaching card classes for them and I happily accepted! My first class, Clean and Simple Cards, went live a couple of months ago. If you're a monthly subscriber to Big Picture Classes I would love for you to check it out!  

This week's Retro Sketch sketch is based on one of my cards! You can see it here.


I pulled out my Studio Calico Pop Art card kit, and a couple of rubber leaves from the scrapbook kit, for my card. I love the bright colors mixed with black and white in the Pop Art kit, and the rubber leaves are a fun element. 

 
I added a few enamel dots, also from Studio Calico, and a sentiment from Papertrey Ink. Quick and easy!

Thank you so much for leaving comments on my post from Saturday. It means a lot that I have loyal blog readers that check out my tiny part of cyberspace. 

I hope everyone is having a nice holiday. The kids and I have done nothing today (whoo!) except relax, play games, and do some cleaning. Exactly what we needed after an extremely busy week! Thanks for stopping by.
 

Trip to Seattle | Holidays 2015


Yesterday I mentioned posting this week's Retro Sketches card, then the Seahawks played this afteroon (and lost!) and I completely forgot to photograph my card! Of course it's dark now and I don't have a good setup for photographing projects at night. So... I swapped a couple of posts around and today I'm sharing some photos from our day trip to Seattle, Washington. The boys and I spent two weeks with my parents (they joined their father for a few days around Christmas) over the holidays.

A couple of days before we flew home my parents treated us to brunch at the top of the Space Needle. If you haven't done this before I highly recommend it. The food is amazing and you can't beat the view!

We had 10am reservations and I was told we could arrive 30 minutes early and check out the observation deck. I'm guessing the receptionist didn't realize the 10am reservation was right at opening because they were not expecting us at 9:30. We were told to hang out in the gift shop until 10am, which worked out great because it was freezing outside. Of course Jack wanted to buy everything in the gift shop and he managed to hit Grandma up for a Seattle snow globe before we left. Even she can't turn down those big blue eyes. 


I admire bloggers who can take fantastic food photos, and I had every intention of taking photos of my amazing meal but I was too busy eating it! The best part about eating at the top of the Space Needle (besides the food, of course) is the incredible 360 degree view. The restaurant rotates while you eat, making one revolution every 45 minutes, and you end up seeing something new every time you look out the big windows. It's pretty incredible. 

After brunch we moved to the observation deck. This is always the boys' favorite part of visiting Seattle, although it was super busy at the top by the time we finished brunch. 


There was a ton of fog on our drive into Seattle and I was concerned about visibility but once we got into the city the fog dissipated and the view was spectacular! 

 




Jack spotted a park while we were at the top of the Space Needle and we decided to check it out when we got back to ground level. It was an awesome playground with a large rope climbing gym, swings, and interactive musical instruments. The boys had a blast and I got some great pictures of them and my parents. 





After about an hour at the park we were all freezing and ready to head home. The kids and I are planning to visit Washington again this summer and we will spend a few days in Seattle checking out some of the other attractions... the Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, EMP, and possibly a Harbor City Cruise. Until then this day trip will have to hold us over. 


I used my Canon 70D camera and 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, and 24mm 2.8 lenses for these photos. The 24mm 2.8 was great for capturing all of the Space Needle in the frame and for photos with sun flare. It was such a crisp, cool, clear day and I'm extremely pleased with how these photos turned out. Now I need to decide which photos to frame for around the house! 

I have my Retro Sketches card on my desk, ready to be photographed in the morning. Hopefully nothing will come up and I will have a blog post up in a timely manner. We can always hope!