March 31, 2011

keeping my promises

It's been a busy week for me.  Can you believe I've blogged everyday this week?  So far.  It's unprecedented. =) 

I've been spending a lot of time in my craft space working on some projects and layouts.  Of course only after I've performed my duties. 

I have something really fun in the works, but I don't want to say too much about it now.  I can share with you this, two things I love, a cup of coffee in my favorite mug and photos waiting to be scrapbooked

And don't judge me, but I like my coffee with a lot of half & half.  Around here we call it "coffee flavored milk." 

I think I also promised you another layout today?  This one was hard to do, but I'm going to share it you anyway.  I made it just after Michael had passed away and at the time, I didn't really know if I would be able to scrapbook again or at least, I didn't know when I'd be able to scrapbook again.  A huge part of why I scrapbook is to celebrate and remind myself of all of God's blessings in my life - and there are many.  I am humbled by them everyday.  At the time, it wasn't that I couldn't see the blessings in my life or didn't recognize them, it's just that it was hard to think about those things while simultaneously feeling such pain.  Knowing you are loved and blessed and yet feeling such deep sorrow is perhaps part of the mystery of grief.

It was surprising to me then, when just after we lost Michael I felt a pull to create something.  I knew that I wanted to create something that reminded me of something very good in my life.  A gift.  And so I made this layout

but I didn't add any journaling to it at the time.

Every time I went to add journaling, well, I simply couldn't do it.  It just reminded me too much of the pain I was feeling when I made this page.

But, just under two weeks ago Glen and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary and I took that opportunity to finally put down some thoughts:

You and I have been married for six years.
In that time, we’ve shared a lot of happy wonderful memories together,
more than I could count.
But the years haven’t been without their sorrows.
Through it all, I have been so grateful that God gave you to me.
I am so very blessed to live my life with you. March 2011

I'm pretty sure I couldn't do much of anything without Glen.  I'm also pretty sure that God knew what he was doing when he brought the two of us together.

Until next time, God Bless. =)

March 30, 2011

practice makes perfect

I'm back today with another layout, another story that I put off telling for a little too long.  Last year after much prayer and discernment my husband and I made the decision to homeschool.  Gabe is still of preschool age and so "school" is not very rigorous quite yet.  Still, I wanted to make sure that I took some time to record the events and stories from our days.  I have a lot of photos, but so far, no layouts. 

Until now

Gabe working on writing letters.  He's getting quite good actually.  Can I say that?  The journaling reads:  When we work on handwriting I always tell you to take your time and try your best. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but with practice it will get easier. It makes me proud that you always give it your best effort and you don’t give up when you make mistakes.

Truly, I am more proud of the fact that Gabe tries, than I am of perfect form in his writing.  He can be a very determined little boy.  I certainly like that about him. =)

Until tomorrow, God bless.

March 29, 2011

Can you relate?

The theme of Write.Click.Scrapbooks.'s March gallery was Done,Finally!  I have been a member of the collective for ten months now and I can see a pattern emerging for me.  Long after I've handed in my assignment (although handed-in is not really the right term in this digital age, but I think you know what I mean!) I end up pondering the month's theme over and over again in my head.  It just always seems to stick with me.  This month the theme really stuck with me, because I am definitely one to put things off.  I'll admit, I am a bit of a procrastinator.  It comes from a tendency towards being a perfectionist; a tendency that I am working to overcome and avoid altogether.  Although, I think that it probably is part of how my brain works and so to me it's more a matter of developing habits that circumvent that way of thinking.  I probably won't be able to change that part of myself completely.

But what's my point?  Well, I had hoped to share some projects that I had been putting off and that I finally completed this month, but - and here is the irony - I sort of put it off! 

Actually, I've been rather industrious this month, if I do say so myself.  I just haven't gotten around to sharing everything I've made.  Oh well.  I'm here today to share I layout I made last year and that I never added the journaling to.  It got lost in a pile of "layouts to be completed."  Do you have one of those?  I know I'm not alone in this!

For a better view, click here.  It was a scraplift of a layout called Brotherly Love that I made back in 2009 and which you can also see in my gallery at

April's WCS gallery will go live on Friday with an all-new theme.  Until then, for the next three days I'll post a layout that I finally got around to completing.  I hope you'll stop by!

March 25, 2011

Five on Friday

I can't say whether this will become a regular feature here on my blog, but I've got lots of random things to share with you and I thought this might be the best way to do it.  Who knows though, this might be a good way to round-up all those ideas that I get during the week but never get around to actually blogging about.  =)

1.  It's Friday, obviously.  Fridays in Lent = no meat.  I know for a lot of Catholics the Fridays in Lent also mean that fish is for dinner, but let me share a different idea with you.  One of my goals for the past year or so has been to learn more about Indian cooking.  I'm taking baby steps here I'll be honest, but early this year I bought this book

and so far I like it a lot.

Indian food is a great idea for meatless dinners because there is so much variety in Indian cuisine and so many vegetarian options.  Here is what we had for dinner last Friday.  From the book above, I made corn with mustard seeds

and a simple cabbage stir-fry.  Yeah, I'm not sharing the pictures I made of that.  There is also no picture of the cabbage dish in the book.  It just isn't the prettiest thing to look at, but it is very tasty.

In my quest to find the perfect chana masala recipe I made one from smitten kitchen

served in Chinese soup bowls, because they were just the right size for this.  This recipe is close to what I'm looking for in this dish, and in fact with a few minor tweaks this will be the recipe that finally enables me to cross that item off my list.

Oh, and I am not going to apologize for the photos, but I will say this, I need to practice!  And get out the kitchen stool.  Seriously, I'm only 5 feet tall.  Some of the photos of my food would improve a lot if I did just that one simple thing.

2.  Amy Sorenson has been blogging all week at Write.Click.Scrapbook. on the topic of Use Your Stuff.  Today's post features "Bits & Pieces," and I was happy to contribute a layout for her post

3.  More paper crafting

Cards inspired by a fun new line from Jillibean Soup and by the fact that spring is finally beginning to show signs of arrival where I live.  I say that as I look out the window, at the rain.

4.  These are blooming right outside our front door

I have no idea what they are called but they make me happy every time I see them. 

5.  Finally, I did get one of my goals crossed off last weekend. 

I'll share the full story... soon?

Have a beautiful weekend!

March 23, 2011

and the winner is...

First, as my son Gabe would say, I want to send out a big, huge, enormous thank you to everyone who hopped by my blog on Monday!  I had a lot of fun reading the posts of my fellow Ella friends and seeing all of the layouts inspired by the new eBook.  I also enjoyed reading all of your comments. 

The winner of Scrapbooking the Everyday is

Congratulations!!  Please contact me to receive your prize.

If you didn't win or if you missed the blog hop on Monday, I want to remind you that several of the giveaways are still open.

Thank you again for your participation!

March 21, 2011

Welcome to the...

The Ella Friends are hosting a blog hop in celebration of Ella Publishing Co.'s newest release:

Life's littlest and most magical moments can be very easy to overlook. But no longer! Elizabeth Dillow and Tina Cockburn are here to help you scrapbook your regular days with simplicity and style.

Join the fun as Elizabeth and Tina tackle 12 unique scrapbooking challenges, creating meaningful projects that look at daily life in a new way. Get inspired to scrapbook everything from the laundry to the library, from your cityscape to a typical backyard scene. It all counts!

I don't think I can tell you how much I love this eBook!  As it says in the description, this eBook is organized around 12 scrapbooking challenges to help you scrapbook your everyday moments in a meaningful way.  It is filled with fresh inspiration and wonderful layouts by two of my favorite scrapbookers.  I'm pretty sure you are going to love it too!

For today's blog hop I have two layouts to share with you.  The first layout I created is based on challenge #6:  Use everyday ephemera to enhance your design.

For this layout I included a list that Gabe wrote last summer.  He wanted to plant a vegetable garden, I suggested an herb garden instead - I do not have a green thumb.  I asked him what we would need to start our garden and this is what he came up with:  water, soil, plants and sun.  I had to help a little with the spelling, but he wrote it all himself.  I thought it was pretty good for a just-turned 4 year old.

The next layout I have to share is based on challenge #12:  Capture a loved one's personality on paper.

I created this layout last fall; the photos were taken just before Nathan turned two years old.  The photos definitely capture a little piece of his personality, his silliness.  I wanted the page to reflect that too and so I chose patterned papers with bright, happy colors and tried to scatter the embellishments about the page in a playful way.

Would you like to win your own copy of this eBook?  Leave a comment telling me one of your favorite everyday memories.  I'll leave the comments open until Tuesday March 22nd, 11:59 pm PST. The winner will be announced on Wednesday.

Next stop in the blog hop is Jenni Hufford.

The rest of the Ella team is also giving away a copy of this eBook so be sure to visit all the blogs in the hop.

Happy Monday & happy hopping.  =)

*Comments on this post will remain open, however the giveaway is now closed.*

March 20, 2011

and the winners are...

First, a thank you to everyone who visited my blog and participated in the giveaway.  I loved reading all of the answers to what you do for St. Patrick's Day.  Sounds like you all had a lot of fun on Thursday. =)

The winner of Creative Ideas for Events & Holidays is

The winner of How to Scrapbook Your Personal Heritage is

Congratulations!!  Please contact me to receive your prize.  And be sure to stop by tomorrow for another fun surprise...

March 17, 2011

St. Paddy's Day Giveaway

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  In my lifetime I have been blessed with the opportunity to live in two different foreign countries.  Japan was one of them and Ireland is the other.  Whenever St. Patrick's Day comes around it always brings back happy memories of my time there.  To celebrate I'm having a giveaway.  Ella has generously given me a copy of two of their latest eBooks:

Join the fun as Sara and Margaret tackle 12 unique scrapbooking challenges, sharing dozens of ideas for freshening up birthday layouts, Christmas pages, and Halloween designs—not to mention layouts about the first day of school, Valentine's Day, Disneyland vacations, and more!
Get ready to get inspired.


Delve into your childhood memories and family legacy with the help of veteran authors Wendy Smedley and Aby Garvey! Wendy and Aby gathered 12 exciting and fun challenges to help you capture memories from your childhood and beyond—with emphasis on the values, pasttimes, and ideals inherited from your family and that you hope to pass on. From layouts to mini-albums, the vintage photos and enticing designs in this eBook are sure to inspire.

Each eBook contains 12 scrapbooking challenges to help you scrapbook your most important memories.  In challenge #12 of Creative Ideas for Events & Holidays Sara and Margaret challenge readers to decorate a holiday page using themed products.  This one might seem like a no-brainer, but I do think that a lot of scrapbookers are afraid of using products that are too themey.  We want for our pages to stand the test of time and so sometimes we shy away from using event-specific papers and embellishments.  Here is a page I made last year:

I used papers from a few different Halloween collections, but there are no specifically Halloween themed embellishments - other than the bingo card which doubled as my title.

Next up is another page that I made last fall (for Write.Click.Scrapbook.'s November gallery), but it fits with challenge #3 of How to Scrapbook Your Personal Heritage.  The challenge that Aby and Wendy set forth is this, find and narrate a photo that is very nostalgic to you:

When I first made this page I didn't include any journaling, because I'll be honest, I didn't know what to say.  But then I thought about what stood out most to me about the older photo and what I would tell someone else about that picture, and that was my dress, so that is what I wrote about.  And, I just realized that both of these pages have a very similar design!  I didn't plan it what way, I promise. =)

So do you want to win your own copy of one of these eBooks?  Leave a comment telling me which book you'd like to win and what, if anything, you do to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  I'll leave the comments open until Saturday March 19th, 11:59 pm PST.  The winner will be announced on Sunday.

I have yet to start any special traditions with my family to celebrate this feast day, but I'd like to start.  I just need to decide what to do!  If you'd like to learn more about this great saint and why we have a feast day to celebrate his witness of Christ you can visit Catholic Culture's page on St. Patrick.

I want to also mention that the comments on my blog are moderated.  But, I will be checking-in often to update the comment thread.  Don't worry.  As long as your comment is entered before 11:59 pm on Saturday you'll be included in the drawing.  Thanks! =)

March 16, 2011

Finding the Light

Have you been reading the guest posts at Write.Click.Scrapbook. this week?  Elizabeth invited five incredible photographers to guest host this week and share their own personal photography philosophies for

The series so far has made me think a little more about why and what I want to photograph. 

Yesterday's post also had me thinking about the how.  Part of me would really love to sit down with a photography book and learn more about the technical aspects of this craft.  Other parts of me would love to take a class.  But the reality is, at the present moment, I don't have that kind of time.  Yes, I could make the time, but I have so many other projects, books, and responsibilities that I don't want to set aside at the moment. And so the classes and the books, those things will have to wait.  It doesn't mean that everything is hopeless.  Photographer Tracey Clark said something yesterday that spoke to me in my present situation which was that we can all learn as we go.  I think if you know just a little about your camera you can take that knowledge, practice a lot and build on it.  That's definitely what I try to do.  I take a lot of photos and play with the settings on my camera and then I see what happens.  Tracey's post gave me the reassurance that I will get better with time.  Maybe practice won't make perfect, but it will make things better.

Today's guest blogger is photographer Kelly Willette.  Her post today is all about finding and using light to bring more power to your photographs.  There is even a video tutorial on how to use natural light to best capture your subject.  Taking her words to heart I took a few practice shots of the boys during and after lunch.  We have a large window-door combination next to our kitchen table and I love the natural light that streams through in the early part of the day.  I seldom even turn the lights on in that room during the day much preferring the glow of the sunshine.  Here is what I captured today:

Do you remember when I mentioned that Nathan twirls his hair when he drinks?  That curl in the upper left corner is what results.

Gabe is such a slow eater.  He enters his own little fantasy world during mealtimes.  Here he is playing with his salami; I think he was pretending it was a trumpet. =)

Look closely.  Can you see them?  This little guy has two cowlicks.  Two.  That is so like him by the way.

I take a lot of photos of the boys by that window.  That usually means that I'm taking their picture while they're eating.  What can I say!?  They're sitting down, relatively still and they are next to one of the best light sources in our house.  At least I get in some photography practice. =)

I'll close with this layout that I made using some of those "eating photos."  Nathan enjoying his noodles:   

If you are reading along at wcs this week what have you taken away from the posts so far?  Do you have your own photography philosophy?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time, God bless. =)

March 15, 2011

Guest Series at Write.Click.Scrapbook.

This week Write.Click.Scrapbook. is hosting a guest series on photo philosophy:

We know how important photos are to scrapbookers, bloggers, and memory keepers of all types—and while technical know-how is important, we believe that good photography begins with what you believe about your camera and its possibilities. We've invited five incredible photographers to share their own personal photography philosophies with you this week, in hopes that you'll consider your own philosophy. More meaningful images begin with knowing what you want from your camera.

Stop by this week to learn some wonderful insights about photography from the amazing guests that Elizabeth has set-up to host the blog this week.  It's going to be a great series (already underway!) and I think you will definitely come away inspired.  Also, don't forget that every Thursday is

I know what the prize is this week and if you love photography and you're the type that is always looking to improve your knowledge and skills in this hobby you will not want to miss out on this week's giveaway. 

March 14, 2011

Change of Plans

Typically what happens around here on a weekday is this, my husband wakes up and takes his shower, then he wakes me up so that I can take a shower before the boys get up.  Most of the time this little system of our works just fine. 

Except when it doesn't. 

My husband and I have were both fighting a cold last week and neither of us was getting much quality sleep.  More than one morning sweets overslept.  Wednesday was one of those mornings.  I had planned on going to mass and receive ashes, but instead I decided to visit my baby.  I have been feeling a pull to visit him, to go to him. The Day of Ashes seemed like an appropriate day to fulfill this desire.

Wednesday turned out to be a very lovely day.  It was warm and sunny, a nice change from the gray, rainy weather we've been having lately.  My husband called me as I was preparing to leave the house, to tell me that the design for Michael's grave marker had been finalized and is now in the process of being made.  There is nothing there now but a concrete stone with our family name and the year to mark his place.  For some reason this makes me uncomfortable and a little sad.  I think I'll be more at peace when his grave marker is finally in place.

On our way to the cemetery we stopped to buy some flowers, a symbol of our love and remembrance.

We did not stay long.  It was simultaneously easier and more difficult to be there than I thought it would be.  But I'm glad I went, I needed to be close to him again.

Afterwards we visited a park close by.  We sat under the shade of this tree:

and enjoyed a simple picnic lunch of apple slices and peanut butter sandwiches:

Nathan always twirls his hair when he drinks:

and then we played:

The boys both love this contraption, which they call a spider-web:

While we were there I thanked God for the gift of that beautiful day. Even in the midst of my sadness and my pain I do know that I am blessed.  I know that I am loved by our Heavenly Father.

Which brings me to this, I want to direct you to two places you can go to help those suffering from the devastation of the natural disasters in Japan.  Having spent some time living in Japan as a girl, it is a country that will always hold a special place in my heart.  From the blog of Catholic Relief Services:

Catholic Relief Service personnel throughout the Pacific are standing ready to assist those affected by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan early Friday morning.

“We know from 2004 the devastating impact that these tsunamis can have,” said Sean Callahan, CRS’ executive vice president for overseas operations. “As with all such disasters, CRS will help people recover from the emergency and stand with them as they recover in the months and years to come.”

Caritas Japan is beginning to assess the needs in that country where the tsunami has caused extensive damage. CRS has programs in the Philippines and Indonesia and works with Caritas Oceania that is active in numerous islands in the Pacific that might be affected. Central American countries where CRS works could also be in danger.

Both websites have links where you can donate towards the relief and aid efforts.  We offer our prayers for the people of Japan and for those who may have family there.  May God be with you and may his love bring you comfort in this time of great need.

March 10, 2011

Today is...

I don't always remember to do this, but today in particular I wanted to make sure to remind you that it is

at  Today's giveaway features two stamp sets, Bannerific and Say Cheese, from a relatively new company called Lawn Fawn

Kelly Marie, owner of Lawn Fawn, generously sent me two sets of stamps from their newest release to test for myself, Say Cheese and Say Cheese, Too!

All of Lawn Fawn's stamps are cute, but I think these two sets in particular are really adorable and useful (and I can say the same for the Bannerific set, go see what Elizabeth did with that set).  I made three pages using these stamps - both as a supply and as a starting point for my inspiration:

Journaling reads:
There are times that I have to remind myself that quality doesn’t always matter, it’s the moments that count. So glad I stopped to take these photos on this day, otherwise I wouldn’t have captured these smiles. However imperfectly.  October 28th 2010

Journaling reads:
You are still a bit of a picky eater, but the list of  foods you will eat is getting longer as you get older. A new favorite, Babybel cheese. You love to unwrap it all by yourself and enjoy your cheesy snack. 
February 27th 2011

I know that a lot of scrapbookers are scared to use stamps on their pages because they are afraid of messing-up an otherwise nice page if for instance they don't get a good image. I tend to have this same fear and so I usually treat my stamps kind of like a sticker or a die-cut. I will stamp on another piece of paper or cardstock and then either punch or cut-out the image. That's mostly what I did with these layouts.  The small camera in Say Cheese, Too! was a favorite for this technique:

All-in-all I had a lot of fun using these stamps.  I would consider myself a beginner stamper in that I generally don't do any special techniques when stamping, I just use the stamps and ink. I found the Lawn Fawn stamps to be of great quality; they stamped nice clear images.  An added little bonus, they are made in the USA.  

So head over to wcs to enter for your chance to win both Bannerific and Say Cheese, both great sets for cardmakers and scrapbookers.  You have until 8:00 pm PST to comment.

Have a blessed Thrusday! =)

March 8, 2011

Are you ready?

I'm not. 

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow.  Tomorrow!  In fact, just a few hours away.  And I still don't know what I am doing for Lent.  It's not as if I haven't had time to think about it, Lent begins late this year.  Yet, every time I think about what I should do, what I should "give up"... well, I cannot say it, but maybe you can guess. 

In my weak moments, which are frequent, I ask myself, "What does He want from me?"  Because sometimes I'm not so sure.

Here's the thing, He wants it all.  All of it.  Our hearts, our minds, our souls.  He wants for us to be totally and completely dependent upon Him. 

How hard was last week's reading? 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span?

But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.

I don't know about you, but these words hit close to home for me.  Even after all that has happened, am I ready to surrender?  Completely?  It is hard and it is painful.

But tomorrow morning I will wake up and I will start the day with these words:

Gracious and merciful is the Lord;
let us turn to him with our whole heart.

We will go to mass, receive ashes and I will keep these words in my heart for the next 40 days:

Come, let us to the Lord our God
With contrite hearts return;
Our God is gracious nor will leave
The desolate to mourn.

Long has the night of sorrow reigned,
The dawn shall bring us light.
God shall appear, and we shall rise,
With gladness in his sight.

March 1, 2011

Procrastinate No Longer

This photo of Gabe is from last summer:

It was taken just a few weeks after we moved into our new house.  Because our move was so close to Gabe's birthday we didn't really get a chance to properly celebrate.  So as a surprise we took him and Nathan strawberry picking.  To say that Gabe loved this outing would be an understatement.  He can be so funny sometimes because so often in the midst of an activity you can't tell if he is having fun or not.  But something we've learned is that he is just absorbing it all.  Observing.  Ask him about this trip today and he will tell you everything in great detail.  He will also tell you how much fun he had.

I couldn't wait to scrapbook the photos I took that day.  I wanted to capture the memories of that day and hold them down so they would always stay with me.  The strawberry farm we visited is very close to the coast and we enjoyed the warmth of the summer sun and a lovely sea breeze.  It was such a glorious day.

I still haven't scrapbooked it. 

I started... I made this page of Nathan several months back:

who had as much fun as Gabe, if not a bit more.  Although he was quite the little thief, there was no stopping him!

But I've never told the full story.  I'm working on it.  I've got the photos printed and a sketch all picked out and it's gonna happen... soon.  In the meantime, I wanted to at least get Gabe's story down on paper.  His quiet seriousness:

Gabe was very careful about which berries to pick, selecting only the finest. =)  When his bucket was all full he was so proud and was quite adamant that I take a picture.  As for the whole story of our trip with all the details, it will get told.  Like I said, I'm working on it and I'm not going to put it off any longer.

This month the gallery at is all about the stories, layouts, and projects we've been meaning to tell or make.  As scrapbookers we have all sorts of reasons for putting things off.  Hopefully this month's gallery will inspire you to finish those pages and tell those stories.  You'll feel better if you do.  I promise.


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