Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Does she really ever stamp?

Because this blog certainly doesn't look like she does. I know, I know... I've been horrible about posting crafty stuff lately. I've just been SOOO busy!

I was working on a commissioned scrapbook for a customer for a while (it turned out stunning, but I couldn't share someone else's family with you). I wrapped a gazillions presents (and next year I'm doing something completely different - more on that next week). I started re-painting my kitchen (it was country blue when we bought the house, and I've tolerated it well, but it really MUST go!) a lovely warm, rich brown called "Antique Photograph." And I've been doing a lot of crafty stuff with my kids - we made a bunch of Candy Cane Reindeer, some pom pom bears and wreaths, and we have cut out a whole heap of snowflakes.

And I stink - I haven't taken pictures of ANY of those things!! YIKES! I DID manage to get a few good pics of Chloe at her First. Ever. Christmas. Performance. Let me tell you, it was so dang adorable! And I got some pictures of my kids and their cousins (we do a photo every year for my mom).

So, just look at these cuties, and maybe I'll post something crafty soon. But not tomorrow, I'm visiting a friend in College Station. :)

Here's all of the kids, note the lovely scarves I made for them! Lexi (10), Alec (6), Bradley (3), Chloe (4), Alyssa (16 months).


And here's Chloe the night of her Christmas program - she smiled here, but we could NOT get her to smile for the cousins photo.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Does anyone have Santa's direct number?

My darling, precious, brilliant 4-year-old daughter got written-up at school yesterday. Only in Pre-K and already visiting the Principal's office.... I can't wait for kindergarten!

After her teacher told me what happened, I went to the principal to get the write-up, which I had to sign (of course). I apologized and said I would talk to Chloe about her very poor decision.

Me: Chloe, did you get in trouble today?
C: Nope! I had a great day!
Me: You didn't have to go visit Ms. W?
C: Oh. Well. Yes.
Me: What happened?
C: Well, S, and me, and H got in trouble.
Me: What did you do?
C: I didn't do anything! S was coloring on the potty with a pencil.
Me: Did you color on the potty?
C: No, but I helped clean it.
Me: Chloe, what are you supposed to do if someone is making a poor choice?
C: Tell them to stop. We provoke one another to good works, right Mama?
Me: That's right. Why didn't you tell her to stop?
C: I was busy drawing on the wall.
Me: ...
C: I drew a boy! He's so cute!
Me: ...
C: An' I gave him arms and a BIIIIIG smile....
Me: Did your teacher know YOU drew on the wall?
C: No, we just cleaned the potty.
Me: And did you tell her it was you?
C:
Me: Chloe, your teacher said you tried to blame someone else?
C:
Me: Did you blame C?
C: He's always in trouble!
Me: Chloe, just because he's always in trouble, doesn't mean you blame him for something you did. That's lying.
C: The Bible says, "Do not tell lies." Speak the truth in love, right?
Me: Chloe, if you KNOW that, why did you do it?
C: I don't know! I didn't want to get in trouble. <sniffles and pitiful forced tears>
Me: That is inappropriate and unacceptable. You need to say sorry...

So, she prayed about it last night and told Jesus she was sorry and asked him, "Jesus, please don't tell Santa so he won't just give me a letter that says to be good and better and not draw on the wall."

She now has to earn back her favorite toys, which was another discussion altogether. I asked her what consequence she should earn for her decision to draw on the wall, and she said, "Well, I guess you should take something away."

Me: What should I take away?
C: Um. My very favorite toy...
Me: Which one?
C: The hippo in the toy bin. (The toys in the toy bin are in the playroom and not accessed as usual bedtime lovies, so she was playing me.)
Me: I think I need to take away something that you LIKE to cuddle with...
C: Oh, well definitely not my puppy! I never cuddle that puppy....
Me: While I appreciate your reverse psychology, it won't work. How about this - no stuffed animals tonight, and you can earn them back over the next few days as you show me and your teachers good choices and proper behavior?
C: I guess that's a good idea. Just don't call Santa.

This morning she wrote a note to her teacher that said "Sorry. From Chloe C."

And when I dropped her off I showed the morning aide where she had colored on the wall and told her that CHLOE needed to clean it. She said it was okay, and I insisted that Chloe be the one to do the clean up as it was a natural consequence.

She's NEVER drawn on anything but paper. She never did the whole crayon-to-wall thing most toddlers do. Gah. Vandalism and lying all in one day...

I'm ready for Christmas break.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Heaven in a 9x13 pan

This morning I made homemade bread pudding for breakfast, and it was absolutely delicious! Everyone LOVED it (except Bradley who is having a MOMENT (moment=really horrible 3 weeks)). It's really easy to do, and you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already. It's delicious served warm with caramel sauce, like we had it this morning. But, it's even better cold the next day (or later today...yum!).

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf of day-old bread cut into 1" cubes (or you can use plain ol' sliced bread, cooked waffles, cooked pancakes...pretty much anything bready)
  • 1 3.4 oz package instant butterscotch pudding
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • caramel sauce (you can make your own, but we use the Tastefully Simple version)

Directions:


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Butter a 9x13 baking pan and set aside
  3. Prepare pudding according to directions (whisk pudding powder into 2 cups of cold milk) and set aside (do not refrigerate)
  4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, 2 cups milk, butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and the pudding
  5. Add bread to large bowl and stir until all the bread is coated
  6. Pour contents of large bowl into the buttered baking pan
  7. Bake for 1 hour
  8. Remove and cool for 5 minutes
  9. Serve warm with drizzled caramel sauce on top
  10. Refrigerate any leftovers and eat later. :)



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Retiring List Posted!

Not only can you check out the stamp sets that are being retired when the new SU! catalog rolls out on January 19, 2009, but until December 23rd you can purchase them for 10%off!! How fun is that? Go check it out HERE!

There are some CUTE holiday sets that are on sale - just in time if you still haven't made your Christmas cards (me!).

And, of course, if you want one of the hostess sets that is retiring just email or call and we can set up your workshop or catalog show so that you can earn those sets!

Have fun shopping!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Right there! Can't you see her?

Bradley has a new friend. Her name is Bally and she's 2 (but almost 3). She has purple hair and green eyes. The other day Bradley and Bally got on a train to take a trip to England. They had fun and ate lunch on the train. Today Bally was hiding in her house in the hole that doesn't have Tiger's Eyes in it. Then she came over and they played zooming cars together. Later Bradley got mad at me for not setting a place at the table for her, because she was hungry, too! She didn't go to church today because she had a headache. But, she felt better after a rest and went to visit Santa at his house. She's a busy girl.

Chloe never had a friend like Bally, so it's new ground for us. So far it's been pretty cute. My mom tells me that I had two special friends like this - Tom and Jerry. They were both mice, though, and they fit in my hands. Of course, I only worried about them when I had to carry them - always when I had been given a directive to do something. For instance, I couldn't pick up my toys! I was holding Tom and Jerry! I don't remember them at all, but I think it was pretty clever.

My sister, Erin, had a friend for a LONG time. His name was George and he lived under our couch. His favorite food was Coke. She obsessed over him for months. I would get in trouble for teasing George (like by throwing stuff under the couch at him) and Erin would hog all the toys because she AND George were playing with them.

Have your kids had any Invisible friends? Did you have any? Do you still have one? What were their adventures?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Don't you think it's annoying...

...that some of the items that were supposed to be a Black Friday special are still on sale? My sister and I were at Kohl's at 4am for Black Friday and I went today to use my Kohl's bucks and everything was still on sale. Now, granted that some things might sell out, but most of the stuff that I bought was still at the store in plentiful supply and still quite reduced.

Kinda irritating.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fleece = good

Even though I was sick and pitiful last week I did manage to get a couple of projects done.

Every year my kids take a Christmas photo with their cousins (my sister's kids) and we give a large print to my mom for Christmas. One year we had the kids in matching holiday dressy-dress clothes, another year we did candy cane stripey pajamas. This year the kids are wearing jeans, white turtle necks, and these:


Everyone gets their own warm fleece scarf. Alyssa's is first (she's 1), then Bradley (3), Chloe (4), Alec (6), and Alexis (10) (yes, my sister's kids all start with "A" - her husband has 4 siblings and they all start with "K"). I sewed them all over two days last week, with plenty of naps in between.

The most hilarious thing was Bradley wanted to be near me the whole time I was sewing. He just played with his trains on the floor as I sewed away. Once I was done he asked me to keep sewing - I thought he liked being close to me while I was working. I told him that I was done and we could go snuggle and he just stared at my sewing machine.

"I want the train noise again!" he whined. Yeah. So, he didn't want to be with me, my sewing machine just makes a rockin' train "chugga chugga."

The other thing I made (with TONS of help from Leslie! Thank you!!!!) was the window treatment for our living room. The window has been naked since we moved in, and now I'm nearly done with the treatment after one year of living here! I still have to do the grommets, but the actual sewing and creating and such is all done. So, that will be my goal the first couple of days of Christmas break - paint my kitchen and hang my new drapes. I'll post a pic then!

Right now I'm knee deep in Christmas gifts and scattered craft supplies, so I am going to go tidy for a bit before bed. Tomorrow I'll post a pic of the Christmas cards I'm making for my mom! I hope she loves them! :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Not quite what I planned

Friday the 21st I was looking forward to a week off of work - a week filled with outings, crafting, and spending a lot of quality time with my kids. It started off well - Mike and Matt got my Christmas boxes down for me so I could start decorating.

Enter the bug.

Saturday around lunch Chloe and I started running fevers, and by nap time I was bed-bound. We didn't even go to church on Sunday because Bradley, Chloe, and I all had fevers. Poor Mike was trying to take care of us and stay the heck away from us as much as possible. It was wretched. Bradley was fine by Sunday night, though, which led me to believe that Chloe and I would soon recover.

Not so much.

Bradley cheerfully went to daycare on Monday. (Well, sort of cheerfully, there was this little situation - starting on Thursday the 20th he woke up at night calling for me. I went, and that's when the trouble started. He regressed and would SCREAM for several hours before finally falling asleep, only to wake up screaming again every few hours. On Sunday he woke up every 2 hours on the dot - which was great because I was getting up every 2 hours to check Chloe's temp.)

Chloe and I stayed in bed and cuddled all day Monday, with tiny trips to the Kitchen and Living Room for Sprite and crackers. We also did some quality decorating, albeit only the lower portion of the tree (her extension is not that great, and I was too tired to get up from the floor). Tuesday was much better, though, and Mike started his vacation time so Bradley stayed home, too. I was actually able to get to the store to get the last few things I needed to create a brilliant holiday feast (I promise I washed my hands!) for my dear family. I also finished decorating the big tree (the little one is still quite naked....I'll do it soon, though!).

I only cooked a small bit on Wednesday, and reserved all the Major Cooking for Thursday. And you would be so impressed!

Mike made his famous pasta salad (really, ask anyone we know!) and I baked Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread and Pumpkin Bread on Wednesday. We also had Alec over to play and Mike threw out his back wrastling with him in the backyard. He still can't move. FABULOUS!

On Thursday I made (without boxes and such!):

Honey Baked Ham
Fire Roasted Peppers and Green Bean Casserole (my own recipe)
Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup (this one, too!)
Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes
Cornbread Dressing
Brown Gravy
Cranberry Relish (with for realio-trulio cranberry fruit)
Baked Carrots with Apples and Pears (also my own recipe)
Chips and queso (to munch on while waiting for dinner, of course)

Out of a box, etc:

Rolls
Pies
Mike's cranberry jelly stuff that keeps the shape of the can. Ugh.

My sister brought the mashed potatoes, turkey, broccoli rice casserole, and more pies.

And the crazy thing is that so many of us were feeling sick that we hardly ate anything!! We drank a lot of Sprite and did stay up for a while playing games (a family tradition). And, we were insane enough to wake up at 2:45 this morning to hit the stores for Black Friday.

I go back to work on Monday and I don't think I had a vacation at all!! But, just look at this little darling.

I hope YOU had a great Thanksgiving free of cooties, and full of fun. :)


Friday, November 14, 2008

Gobblerific!

Here is my 3rd Design Team entry for November. This little 3x3 card is made with Bazzill card stock for the base, Graphic 45 Designer Paper, Brads by American Crafts, SU! card stock, and the SU! scallop punch.

*GASP!*

I didn't stamp anything on this card!!! I hope I'm not coming down with anything....



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November Design Team Card #1

When we submit our projects for the A Scrap Affair Design Team, we have to submit at least one layout and one card. The time around I did two cards and one layout. I'll post the 2nd card later this week.

In the meantime, here is the first card I made. I really like square cards - gives me more surface area to embellish. :) The paper is from the Playtimes Past Collection by Graphic 45. Those little wooden soldiers are actually from a piece of patterned paper - I just cut them out using my trusty SU! Paper Snips. I haven't found a better pair of scissors anywhere! The card stock is by Bazzill and the brads are Making Memories.

I used my SU! Crafter's Tool Kit to punch the holes for my stitching, and I just used plain ol' embroidery floss from my massive stash to do the sewing. I inked all my edges with SU! classic ink in Chocolate Chip. The tag was made with my SU! Key Tag punch (I don't think I could ever own enough SU! punches!). The sentiment stamp is also SU! (of course!) from a set called Season of Joy.

I would love to make a ton of these to send out this Christmas, but there is NO way I'm cutting out 75 more of those precious little soldiers!!



Monday, November 10, 2008

Our own Splatter Platter

What's a Splatter Platter?

Well, when I was a little girl my mom had a Special Day plate. It was big, and bright white with brilliant red lettering which read "Your Special Day" in a fancy script. We were allowed to use the Special Plate on our birthdays. That was it. And, boy, did we feel special when we were allowed that precious day!

A few weeks ago when I ran my booth at the Gingerbread Market, I met another small business owner, Erin Haggard. Erin is a delight to talk with - full of joy and creative ideas. Her business is Splatter Platters. Click HERE for her website. She hand paints special occasion ceramic. From platters commemorating weddings, favorite sports teams, and special days...to name plates, welcome plaques. Pretty much you are only limited to the combined imaginations of you and Erin. And I can guarantee that her imagination is wild! :)

Here is the plate she custom made for our very own family Special Day Plate. A few of the samples she had on display had a lot of red and green - which poor Chloe can't see. So, I asked specifically for something with a lot of yellow and blue. Didn't she do great?

We put the plate up on our plate rack in the kitchen and the kids were in awe - they immediately tried to figure out who was going to get to use the plate first!

Check out her website and give her a call! You, too, can have your very own Splatter Platter. And really, just getting to say Splatter Platter is totally worth the call! :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November Design Team Layout

I had my First Fridays monthly Stamp n' Scrap at my house last night and I finished my November projects for the A Scrap Affair Design Team. I'm going to run them over to the store this weekend, so I figured I'd better take some pictures of them first!


Here is my 12x12 layout.


The papers are from the new Playtimes Past Collection by Graphic 45. They are perfect for the holidays, but chose to do something a little different. The card stock is by Bazzill. I used my SU! start punches, Crop-o-dile, ribbon, glue dots, stampin' dimensionals, 2-way glue, and crafter's took kit (for the holes for the stitching). The buttons are just from my stash, as is the embroidery thread. I DID use my new foam stitching pad (In Stitch'z by Bazzill) - it is one of my new favorites. I really like to do stitching on my cards and layouts because I think it gives some nice texture and dimension. This pad is great because it's 12.5 inches long and 6.5 inches wide - so no more moving the paper around to adjust for lack of surface! It's also 1/2" thick, so you won't accidentally stab your work surface. :) You can get your's at A Scrap Affair.

I'll post the rest of my projects tomorrow...I think I'll go take a nap with Bradley. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A contest and some recipes

The kids and Mike carved the pumpkin on Saturday (we didn't leave it out on Friday night) and I collected all the seeds to wash and dry so that I could roast them today.

And what could be more fun than a Guess How Many Pumpkin Seeds there are contest? Your prize will be some Pumpkiney colored goodies, by SU! of course!

So, here are the pics of the seeds... Leave your guess in the comments and be sure to post about it on your blog (let everyone get in on the prize!). The contest will end Friday November 7th at 8pm. I will announce the winner on Saturday. Whoever gets closest to the number without going over will be the winner.




And no post about roasting pumpkin seeds would be complete without the recipes, right? I made 3 different batches this year. What I do is add the oil (2 tsp or so) and seasonings to a plastic baggie, then toss in the seeds and shake until they are covered. Pre-heat the oven to 250, and line a cookie sheet with foil. Spread the seasoned seeds out in a single layer and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every once in a while to ensure even baking.

The first kind I made is just plain ol' traditional salted and roasted: Seeds, salt, and olive oil. Then I made my special Curried Seeds: Seeds, curry powder, salt, turmeric, cayenne pepper powder, garlic powder, and oil. And last, the Sweeties: Seeds, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, oil.

You can do all kinds of variations (try Italian with some Parmesan cheese, oil, basil, oregano, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper; or TexMex with oil, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper). The possibilities are limitless!

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, protein, and zinc. They make a great stand-alone snack, but I like them over salad, too. Slow roasting, like I recommended above, helps preserve their healthy oils and nutrients (you know, to counter all the yummy salt!).

So, enter your guess in the comments, link to your blog, and let me know if you have any great recipes for these delicious little seeds!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

O Christmas Tree

Chloe started telling me waaaay back in June that she was going to be a Christmas Tree for Halloween. I laughed and told her that was a great idea! Little did I know that she was not going to give up on her brilliant idea. As fall approached and I started looking for costumes for the kids, Chloe insisted that she needed to be a Christmas tree.

Bradley, of course, was easy - I found a cute Thomas the Tank Engine costume online and it was shipped lickety split. I tried to convince Chloe to be one of the other cute costumes I could buy, already made. I offered every princess, fairy, animal.... None would appease her.

She explained how much she LOVES Christmas and Christmas trees. She was special and would be so so sad if she couldn't be a Christmas tree.

So after the excitement of Bradley's party died down, I got to work. And, of course, I'll share with you how to make your very own Christmas Tree Costume.

First, you need 1.5 yards of Green Glitter Felt (on sale last weekend at JoAnn's!).

Fold your felt in half and then use a tape measure to mark a 1/2 circle 22" down. I just pinned the marks since I wasn't going to be cutting the straight circle. (Be sure to leave the wrong side out for all this marking - you don't want to mess up the glitter!)



Take a little bucket (from the Target $1 section) that you WERE going to alter, but it's just been sitting, so it might as well be used as a template for a scallop, and use the edge to mark off where you want your scallops around the edge of the circle. I just used plain old chalk to mark my scallops.

Cut on the chalk lines. Does NOT have to be perfect - your 4-year-old won't notice anyway.

Cut the neck hole by marking another circle (2.5") and cutting it out. Make a 3" slit in the front.

Turn right side out and embellish the heck out of the sucker with beads, foam ornaments, and a LOT of hot glue (only burnt myself once, but it's all nasty and blistered). (I sewed the beading on, but only at the peaks.)
I used my Crop-o-dile to punch the holes around the neckline, and then I just wove ribbon through so that it would fit Chloe better.


Slap some ribbon on a headband, make some present shoes and Woo-hoo! Your very own Custom Christmas Tree Costume sure to please even the pickiest Christmas Tree Costume connoisseur.





I can't even imagine what she is going to be next year!



Monday, October 27, 2008

What are YOU thankful for?

It's the season of Thanks, and Shelli Gardner (of Stampin' Up!) has a contest on her blog that asks us to craft something that documents what we are thankful for. You can visit Shelli's blog HERE.

I was already working on a little project, so I'm going to enter it in the contest.

As you know, I did my first craft fair in my new neighborhood a couple of weekends ago. Not only did I do great selling my hand-stamped items, but I sold quite a bit of SU! products and made a lot of new customer contacts. I had a door prize, and I'm sending every single person who entered a little mini card, plus a letter from me thanking them for visiting my booth and giving them my SU! contact information. (Visit my SU! blog by clicking the link on the right if you've never done it!)

So, one of the things I'm thankful for is my customers! Not only are they loyal customers, they are a great source of inspirataion and creativity. The theme of my blog is "sharing the joy of creativity with others," and my customers and crafty friends (both local and the many Bloggy pals) allow me to do just that. Thank you!

Here are the little cards I made for all of them (118 of them, btw!). I left them blank inside so they could use them as they wish, and I included the little 3x3 envelopes. The sentiment is from the hostess set, Window Dressing - it's a level 3 hostess set and absolutely adorable!



Materials (all SU! unless otherwise mentioned)

Card stock: Old Olive, Elegant Eggplant , scraps of Only Orange, Really Rust, Tangerine Tango, and Pumpkin Pie (not all shown)
Stamps: Window Dressing
(sentiment)
Ink: Old Olive, Craft White
Other: Small Oval Punch, 1" Circle Punch, Old Olive 1/4" grosgrain ribbon, sponge, Stampin' Dimensionals, 2-way Glue

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy.


After an getting up early in the morning, not taking a nap, and enjoying a wild party, this three-year-old boy knows how to wind down.

Mama loves you, Bradley.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How To Make a Thomas the Train Pinata

...when you still can't find one after searching all the local stores, recoiling at prices online, and having no desire to experiment with paper mache.

Step 1, settle for a non-Thomas pull-string pinata in the right color scheme. Hi, Spidey! You are too scary and will soon be banished. (Bradley is scared of "the spidermans!") Only $8 at a party supply store.




Step 2, cover image with Stampin' Up! card stock in the very-nearly-Thomas-blue In Color, Pacific Point. Tape edges. The kids aren't going to notice it...they are three for goodness sakes!





Step 3
, make an old school compass thing. You know how the cute carpenters on DIY network always do it! Grab a string, ruler, and pen - make your circle to cover the scary scary Spiderman. Cut it out and glue to front of pinata with hot glue.





Step 4
, scan the front of your Thomas scrapbook. If your child is as obsessed as mine I know you have one.


Step 5
, smack some Thomas scrapbooking paper, your newly scanned and cropped Thomas photo, and a bunch of Thomas and Friends stickers (to hide the edges that don't quite match up perfectly and upon which is still visible parts of the spidermans.) to the pinata.


Step 6, repeat all this fun for the backside of the pinata.

All this and homemade cookies for school tomorrow. Of course, I won't be able to accept my "Mom of the Year" award because I'll be in the hospital all dehydrated and dying of the dang flu. Good night!

TKO!

Monday evening I thought I was coming down with a sinus infection, so I went to the doctor and he prescribed some antibiotics. Tuesday I felt okay in the morning, but was getting tired by the afternoon. I was exhausted by the time for our normal Wrangling the Children to Bed routine. I even fell asleep in Chloe's bed while Mike was finishing up with the kids' bath.


(aside: isn't that great? Mike always does the bath while I lay out the clothes and just relax for a bit. In the morning I make breakfast and he gets them dressed (I do hair). That's why I was nuts when he was in England! And, also why I will forgive him for the following...)



Mike thought it was funny, so he took a picture. Ha ha. My first question was, You took a picture of me while my children were in the bath ready to drown while not attended?! But, he took it after they were out of the bath and doing the potty routine, so no call for a hangin'.

Well, after the kids were down I put myself to bed only to wake up a couple of hours later with a horrible bout of nausea. Which continued every couple of hours. All. Night. Long. I finally got some Zofran from Urgent Care and that calmed it down some. The rest of my Wednesday was spent in bed, hoping that the mess would subside and I could go to work today.

Not so much, as the fever kicked in Wednesday evening.

So, I am missing my first two days of work due to sickness this school year. I ALMOST made it a full 9-weeks without being sick. Hopefully this will be my only kiss of the flu this season!! And, most importantly, I hope my kids stay healthy - they are scheduled for their flu shots next week!

I will definitely be at work tomorrow since I have to export grades, but I highly recommend increased personal space when visiting my office!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More from the craft fair...

I had my first craft fair in my new neighborhood on Saturday and it was loads of fun! Not only did I have some great sales, but I met some darling women all interested in stamping and scrapbooking. I'm working on the little note cards I'm sending to everyone who entered my door prize, I'll share one later this week.


In the meantime, here's some more pics of some of the things I was selling. The 3x3 boxes and the lip balm holders, btw, sold out! I actually had to make a few more for gifts. :)


Here are some of the checkbook cover designs:






All supplies are SU!, of course, except for the naked check book covers (which I purchased from an online vendor). The checkbook covers were popular, too. I sold serveral to moms who were buying them for their daughters who were getting their FIRST checkbooks.

I remember how thrilled I was when I got my first checkbook - it was plain and simple and not one ounce of cute. I was SO jealous of girls who got the little designer checks and covers with fun characters and such on them. A cover like this would have blown me away!

Anyway, I have a TON of different designs for these - I had fun using up retired paper (and playing with new paper...I broke my rule!). I only have a few left over, so some will be gifts and others will be sold at my next event.

Now I have to get to stampin' the thank you cards!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Day of Remembrance


Today is the National Day of Remembrance of Pregnancy & Infant Loss. (click the banner for more information.)

31% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many of these happen so early in the pregnancy that a woman might not even know she miscarried - these are more commonly known as "chemical pregnancies." But, chances are with this percentage rate you or someone you know has probably suffered this loss.

I had my first miscarriage July 2, 1999. Thus began my long journey through infertility, loss, and miracles. I had several subsequent chemical pregnancies, and 3 more miscarriages. Although I now am Mommy to my two darling children, the pain of pregnancy loss is still quite raw for me.

It's not something one can "get over." And although time does allow for healing and renewed joy, there is always a shadow when I think of lost due dates, birthdays that will never be...

I have many dear friends who I met through infertility and pregnancy groups online who are still in the throes of their quest for a child. I have friends who have had early, mid-term, and even late miscarriages and still births.

Here are some of their stories...

My darling friend, Sammie, has a beautiful blog dedicated to her twin sons - Nathan and Noah. They were born at 24 weeks, 3 days gestation. Sweet Noah passed away at only 12 days old... Nathan is an incredibly smart and precocious 4-year-old.

My friend since high school, Natalie, has been through incredible loss. Not only has she suffered the loss of multiple singleton pregnancies, but also the loss of twins. She and her husband were blessed through adoption with their gorgeous son, Caleb. Then they were confronted with even more loss as the doors to Guatemalan adoption were slammed while they were still in the process of finalizing their adoption of their daughter, Mia. Mia is now lost to bureaucracy and her loss is still profoundly felt. The blessings for their family were not over, though. They have since adopted their 2nd daughter, Caitlyn, and are living their "amazingly blessed" lives.


The stories are many, and the lives touched are exponential.

Please take a moment to think of those who have experienced this incredible grief.

Friday, October 10, 2008

He's the #1 Blue Engine, don't ya know.

When Bradley turned two last year, my friend Natalie bought this for him. Thus began a love affair like our house had never seen.

What started out as one little "twain" with a house turned into two twains, because Thomas needed a friend. So, Thomas and Percy and Bradley were total BFFs. Then Chloe wanted a girl train, so Molly entered the picture. And then I had to get more track, because seriously - that roundhouse did NOT come with enough pieces to build cool cool rail systems.

We are now the proud owners of pretty much all the major engines (Who needs those stupid ol' diesel and narrow line engines? Psht! Not us! Steam all the way, baby!) We are lacking Edward, Henry, and Toby of the Major Eight. Molly isn't a major character, but she was the one Chloe wanted first (she has Emily, now, too). Even Mike has his own Gordon, and the kids always argue over who gets to play with "Daddy's Train!"

Not only do we have all these little Thomas Take Along toys - (The Thomas Take Alongs are small die cast metal trains that run on plastic tracks - they are non-compatible with the original (lead-coated) wooden trains.) but, Bradley's room is also decked out in All Thomas - All the Time. He's got the sheets, pillow case, soft Thomas-shaped pillow, and even wall stickies.

So it wasn't very hard to decide on a party theme for Bradley's third birthday!

Here is the invitation I made (well, one of the 25 of these boogers):






And here is the backside, which you absolutely MUST sing to the "Thomas and Friends" theme song:




Bet you can't guess what Bradley's going to be for Halloween!

PS: HUGE Thanks to Lynda (Chelemom's MIL) for letting me know that these adorable Thomas Stamps were available. :)



Materials (all SU! unless otherwise mentioned)

Card stock: Sahara Sand, Riding Hood Red, Pacific Point, Basic Black

Stamps: Thomas Stamps by Cornish Heritage Farms
Ink: Sahara Sand, Riding Hood Red, Pacific Point, Versamark
Other: SU! Markers, Copic Markers, Blender Pen, Silver Embossing Powder, Ticket Corner Punch, 2-Way Glue, Stampin' Dimensionals, Sponge, Crop-o-dile

Monday, October 6, 2008

E-I-E-I-O

There is this great place just west of Houston called Dewberry Farm - they have all kinds of amazing Fall activities for kids, including a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. We've been taking the kids for the past 3 years and we all love it. If you live in the Houston area I highly recommend you take a little trip out there. We usually go in the evening when it's not as crowded and the weather is a bit cooler.

Here are some pics...

This is Chloe and Bradley the first year they went (2006):



And here they are with all three of their cousins this year. I swear I took this picture 8 times and not ONCE are all of the kids looking at the camera!



The second year we went Bradley was just beginning his tractor obsession (and we had a John Deere party for him that year!), so he was ecstatic about the chance to sit on this big green machine (but a bit nervous when Daddy backed away so Mommy could take the picture and not have to 'shop him out of it later!).



And here he is this year - still lovin' every second of it.



The kids went on a hay ride (out to and back from the actual patch), went down crazy slides, rode swings, and basically ran around enough to wear themselves out so that Chloe did not ONCE get out of bed for water, potty, or reassurance that we haven't left the house or are having a wild party without her!! That, my friends, is totally worth the gas money!



Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spooky Smackers



I love making these little lip balm holder cards as gifts; they make wonderful stocking stuffers and totally dress up a little $1 Avon Lip Balm. And I'm making quite a few to sell in my upcoming craft show! :)

The punches, stamp, ink, card stock, ribbon, and embossing powder are all SU!, but the patterned paper is LYB. I won an amazing Little Yellow Bicycle door prize at our 24-hour Scrap Pink event at The Scrap Affair. It was SOO much fun and the prizes alone were fabulous! You really have to make your way down there if you live in the Houston area and check them out.

This weekend we took the kids to the Fort Bend County Fair. I'll have to unload my camera and share some pics - there were several "firsts" this time around.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A sad good-bye



Gypsy came into our house as a very frisky 9 month old ferret in the fall of 1999. I bought her for Mike because he had always wanted a small furry friend - he wanted her to ride on his shoulder, do tricks, and live forever.

Ferrets are considered an "exotic" pet and they are not exactly easy to care for. They need to bathed often (even when "descented," they still have some powerful oil glands!), played with daily, cage cleaned daily, and they need a LOT of attention. Ferrets usually live around 6-7 years when properly cared for, though some live for much longer.

Most ferrets are not well cared for - because of their frisky and curious nature if not well attended they can become aggressive and not at all friendly. Gypsy was spoiled. SPOILED. She got new toys all the time, and even had her own stocking from Santa! She was litter box trained and would come when called. She never bit (not even snapped at) anyone - she would even play with our Great Dane when we had him!


She adored Chloe from the start, and tolerated every tail tug and powerful hug. She sat in doll strollers and play carts and was content being wheeled around the house. She REALLY loved sharing snacks any chance she got.



Several months ago Gypsy fell ill. She had never been sick, and had never had to visit the vet. So, this was our chance to learn that as an exotic pet, she had to go see the special Exotic Pet Vet. Located conveniently 20 miles away in the Galleria area (re: Glitz, Glamour, and no expense spared for your precious, precious fuzzy!). Gypsy went in on a Saturday night and spent 5 days and 4 nights with designer care. Mike thought that $900 wasn't really that bad for all of her care and treatment combined with the fact that we had her so many years and she had never once been sick.



Diagnosis: insolinoma. Kind of like diabetes in ferrets. She was put on medication twice a day, which was only $35 per month. For ferret medicine.

She was doing much better, until right after Ike. We had some problems because her medication needs to be refrigerated, and then she ran out and she missed a couple of days of meds. And she is nearly 10 year old, so she was quite past the normal life expectancy for ferrets. Regardless, she started acting oddly over the week.

Then, on Tuesday she started seizing. My brother just happened to be at my house at the time, and he tried to keep her safe while he got hold of the vet, me, and Mike. Gypsy seized for over an hour before finally calming down - the vet told my brother to give her syrup - he had to bring her sugar up. But, the poor thing just never recovered.

I got home from and Mike and I had to make a decision. Gypsy continued to have small seizures, and we just knew she wasn't going to be herself again. Mike asked about another hospital stay, and, well, as much as I love small furry rodent... THAT was not going to happen again!!!

We called a local vet who was able to handle the procedure that night. So, I pulled Chloe aside to talk to her - I wanted her to be able to say good-bye. I explained that Gypsy was very, very sick and Daddy was going to take her to the vet. I then took a deep breath and told her that Gypsy was going to die. Chloe was stunned - she just stared at me before she started crying and saying, "But I don't want her to die!" I had originally wanted to avoid the whole "all ferrets go to heaven" bit, but....

Me: Chloe, Gypsy is very very sick and very old - she is almost 10 years old!
Chloe: 10? Like Sissy?????
Me: Oh, see, no. Gypsy is almost 100 years old for a ferret!
Chloe: But, I don't want her to die. She'll be all alone in the dark!
Me: No, she's going to go to heaven! Remember, when you die you go to heaven? Gypsy will go to Ferret Heaven!
Chloe: But heaven is really bit and she'll get lost!
Me: No, there is a really big cage with all her ferret friends.
Chloe: Will Jesus take care of her?
Me: Um. Yeah! There are angels who help take care of sick animals. God loves animals - remember how he said in the Bible that he watches over the sparrows?
Chloe: But is Jesus in her heart?
Me: Daddy has to take Gypsy now.... (!) You need to tell her good-bye.

Chloe hugged her close, and kissed her. I had Bradley come in to say good-bye, though he really didn't understand the situation. Chloe informed him that Gypsy was going to die and go to heaven, "And that is FOREVER!!!" she screamed.

Needless to say, we were all a bit traumatized. Chloe cried all night (she was awake until nearly 11pm, when she is usually asleep by 7:30!) and the next day she carried a picture of Gypsy with her all day at school. Today things are a bit better, but during our night time story we were looking at a picture book about a family that buys a kitten from a shelter - the book follows a year in the kitties life. I got to the part where I say, "Oh, look, they are going to get a baby kitty!" To which my daughter glowered, "And they are going to love it, but then it is going to grow up, get sick, shake her back, and die. Forever." So I don't think we are quite healing yet.

I think, though, that she is ready for more responsibility with a pet of her own. I am thinking of getting her a fish for Christmas, so she can get used to daily feeding. And then we will look at getting a puppy at the end of the school year so I can have all next summer to train her.

Chloe has informed me that her "heart is too broken to have another ferret. Ever."

And although I'm sad about Gypsy, my heart is too broken that my baby girl is hurting and I can't do anything about it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

3x3 box and cards

Even with all the clean-up and Ike stress, I still have a craft show that I'm supposed to be preparing for! I thought we wouldn't lose electricity and that I would have a nice birthday weekend to work on getting a lot of projects done, but not so much! Over the past couple of days, though, I've been able to hit the ink again.

In addition to representing my SU! business at the craft fair, I'm going to be selling a few little items that have sold well for me in the past at other shows. Here is one of the little trinkets. This is a simple 3x3 box that holds 4 mini cards and envelopes. The lid slides off the top.




I am trying to use all of my retired paper, so you will see a lot of it over the next few posts! I have put myself on restriction - I can't use any of my new paper until I go through my stacks of retired paper. I *AM* going to donate a lot of it to a friend, though, so that will help (and it's NOT cheating!!).
I used Old Olive, Whisper White, Sahara Sand, and Soft Sky (how I will miss you!) card stock and Fall Flowers Designer Paper. That stamp is a singlet I got a LONG time ago at a workshop before I was a demo - anyone know what set it came from? I used my 1" and 1.25" circle punches and Old Olive Ribbon. Stampin' Dimensionals, Mini Glue Dots, and 2-way Glue are pretty much staples for me! :)
More to come!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Worst. Birthday. EVER.

On the eve of my birthday, we sheltered in place per orders and waited for the storm. We had evacuated for Rita, and had returned to a home with only minor wind damage and power intact. So, while I wanted to be prepared for the worst, we not expecting much excitement.



We had been told that we were not in a area that would receive much damage - we were a pass through community for people who were dealing with mandatory and voluntary evacuations. We had water, lots of canned goods, flashlights galore. We lost power at 5:30pm on Friday, September 12th and it didn't come back on until Tuesday September 16th.

Our plan had been to leave the kids in their rooms until the storm got bad, and then go get them and bring them down to the makeshift bed in our walk-in closet (our only interior room without windows other than the powder room!), but since the power went out so early, we had to put them in there when they were still wide awake and anxious.



They only slept for a couple of hours, because the winds really started getting rough around 9pm. Bradley would wake and ask me to hold him, and then fall quickly back to sleep. Chloe was scared and clung to me most of the night. Ike was supposed to make landfall around midnight, but the outer bands of winds were strong. The strange thing was that we didn't get any rain until later. Mike and I tried to sleep when we could, because we knew we were in for a long night.

Around 12:30 we started to hear the cracking of trees around the neighborhood, we kept watching our trees fight to stay rooted. There were so many strange noises - our garage door was breathing with the wind and it creaked and moaned until I thought for sure it was going to tear off its track. Then came the chugging sound of a tornado - our entire house shook and all the trees were completely leaning sideways. The windows rattled and shook, and one finally cracked. Chloe woke up and said, "Mommy, we have to pray. We have to pray right now." And so I held hands with my terrified 4 year old as we prayed for safety for our family and friends.

With every terrible gust of wind the window cracked a bit more - because of the light-blocking film on it, it didn't shatter or tear apart. But, we needed to keep it safe. So, we told the kids to stay in the closet and Mike and I went outside in the weather to try to nail up a board. The rain had started, and it soaked us from every angle as we struggled to hold the plywood and nails securely. We were so cold we couldn't feel our fingers and we finally had to give up and go back into safety. We taped the window from the inside and prayed for the best.

At 4am the storm was still raging and I called my brother on my cell phone to see how they were doing - they had power until right around 1am. He said that it should have been over by now, but they had no access to the weather reports. I sat in my room and prayed and prayed.

When morning finally came, the winds died down and the rain trickled to a drizzle. We were lucky that we only had minor damage, and we thought the power would be on by the end of the day.





The power still wasn't on and so we played games and planned meals around what I could cook on the stove (lit with a lighter since it wouldn't light on it own, but we still had gas). We started to worry when the temperature was supposed to climb into the 90s and we still didn't have power.

Our cell phones and landlines were not working, so I drove the 1.3 miles to my sister's to see how they were. They were fine, but didn't have working phones or power either. She said she would drive the 5 miles to our mom's house to see how they were. Mike left to check on our rental house 11 miles away. I took on the task of emptying the refrigerator and freezer because it was now looking like the power wasn't going to be on any time soon. We had made several containers of ice, and my principal had let us leave work during our conference times to get supplies and gas if needed. I had a friend buy me 2 bags of ice, so I loaded those into our ice chest and packed what I could. I had filled my tank with gas on Thursday morning, and school was cancelled Friday so I was fine there.

My mom's house had a lot of wind damage, missing shingles and downed fences and trees, but they were all safe. They too had no working phones or power - but they had a generator to keep their fridge going and to run the small AC unit. Mike returned from the rental townhouse with good and bad news. The bad news was water had filled the living room, and the floor was sopping wet, but there was power! So, he gathered things to clean over there and get ready for the kids and I set to packing furiously to escape the 97 degree heat - at 9pm!

We were so relieved to have AC that we just crashed when we got settled. I woke up because I heard a strange noise. I was horrified at first because it sounded like the skitter of lots of tiny feet. Then, I felt the drip drops on my head. I turned the hall light on, and saw the water dripping from the attic access door. I woke Mike up as the water started pouring down. He grabbed the wet/dry vac and did what he could, but we finally just set out our towels and waited until morning to see what the problem was.

Sunday was spent trying to call friends and family and verify that everyone was safe. No one had power anywhere. My brother and brother-in-law came over to the townhouse to help fix the hole in the roof and we got a better idea of the damage to the townhouse. The gutters were all ripped off, water had filled the living room with about 6 inches of water, according to the water line. There was going to be a LOT of cleaning up and repairs.

So, I returned to our house in Sienna for a few hours with the kids so they could play in their playroom and I could clean some more while the guys worked on the townhouse. I swept and tidied (because I'm crazy like that) - I just didn't want to have to come home to a mess! That evening we worked on cleaning more of the branches and fallen trees. The kids worked hard to make The Pile (a huge collection of branches and bramble sitting on our driveway because we ran out of trash bags!).


Sunday night the kids and I walked around our old neighborhood and stopped at Bradley's daycare (a private in-home center). They were busy cleaning, but they too had power and would be open on Monday. So, on Monday that's where the kids went while Mike and I started the real work.

First, we went to the Sienna house and cleared all the debris. My brother came over to help Mike pull up what was left of the fence. We needed some clean clothes, so I washed a couple of loads by hand in the kitchen sink. I hung the shirts in the laundry room to dry, but realized that I was running out of room. So I made a clothesline on our deck. As the proud owner of a well-stocked craft room I had no trouble finding yarn and clothespins!



I decided that if Mike wore g-strings instead of boxers I would have a LOT less laundry to do. I didn't suggest this, though, as he was busy hauling fence posts and such. I just scrubbed and hung and watched our unmentionables dry in the breeze. I think this is the first time I knowingly broke deed restrictions!

We worked there for a couple of house and then headed over to my mom's house to help them. My sister, her husband, and their 3 kids had gone over to my mom's to stay and take advantage of the generator, so they were there too. My brother-in-law had called his brother and his brother-in-law to come help tear down the HUGE trees from my mom's house. There is just something scary that happens when you combine testosterone, chainsaws, and F350s. The trees were down almost as quickly as Ike could have done. The amazing thing was that everyone pitched in to get this job done in record time.





And then Mike, my mom, and I headed back to the townhouse to try to tackle the worst of the jobs ....



Lovely, huh? We had to pull out all the carpet in the living room. And then our insurance company informed us that we have to KEEP IT. All of it, including the pad. To prove that it really did get wet. Now it's festering in bags in the townhouse garage. Gah.

We cleaned and cleaned some more the rest of Monday, and then I walked to the daycare to get my kiddos. We spent another night in the townhouse before the power returned to the house in Sienna. We hauled everything back to our house and took a nap.

Then, my sister told me that she had finally gotten in touch with some friends of ours, Sherri and Rick (and their adorable 18 month old), who live in Galveston. They had pretty much lost everything but their structure - their home had 3 feet of water still in it. They had come to stay at my sister's work (a local minor emergency center) where Sherri is a PA. But, the night of the storm the roof blew off of the building and so they were forced to evacuate from there and head further into town to stay with some friends. They found shelter with some friends in a 1-bedroom condo, where 2 other families were also staying. Things were a bit rough.

Sherri called and asked if they could stay in the townhouse. I told her they were welcome to it, but that it was just one step up from a FEMA trailer! She said as long as it had power they didn't care! My sister, brother, and I headed back to the townhouse to REALLY scrub it down. I mean, I had cleaned it, but I wasn't planning on staying there for more than a few days so we really got down and dirty.

We had been in the process of remodeling the darn thing since we had moved out last November. But, things were slow going as we got our new house ready and such...so we were behind on the work there. From 2 until 5:30 we: installed 2 new light fixtures in the upstairs bathrooms, cleaned toilets, tubs, sinks, and vanities, swept and mopped and made the floor shine as much as an old linoleum floor that just survived Ike could shine. But, we did it - and the family is relieved and happy to just be safe, dry, and cool.

Today I ventured out to get groceries and found most of the shelves still bare. I was able to get some milk, bread, bananas, and some other staples. Now I can at least make pancakes! Gas in our area is hovering at around $6.50, so I am glad I still have a bit over a 1/2 tank left. My school district is closed this week, but should reopen on Monday. I have to report to work this Friday.

My parent's house still doesn't have power, and they are out of gas for the generator, so they went to my sister's house (her power came on when ours did). Most of our subdivision still doesn't have power.

Through all of this madness we have family that was brought closer together, friends that now have a roof (sans leak!) over their heads, and a lot of left over canned goods. While we still have a lot of clean-up to do we are so incredibly blessed that we have power (!), phones (still off and on), Internet (again, still off and on), and our home.

If you have read this far, you must be someone who really does care. Please, please, please continue to pray for the rest of our neighbors across South-East Texas who have lost loved ones, property, and who are still huddled in the dark praying for electricity. Pray for the hard working law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and military personnel who are working to bring people to safety while their own families are in the dark.

Just pray.


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