October 27, 2011

and the winners are...

Thank you to everyone who left me a comment on my 150th post.  It was fun to read about all the various weekend activities.  Seems that we are all trying to find that balance between chores and fun and spending time with family.

Now for the winners! 
Ashley C.
Amy Moore
April B.

Congratulations to you all!!  I'll be in contact with you shortly so that I can send you your goodies!

October 25, 2011

my favorite weather and some Halloween cards

The last two days we've seen a drop in the temperatures around here.  Nothing major, I'd say about 10 degrees.  Still, it's been cooler and a bit cloudy and it's allowed us to at least pretend it's fall. =)

Gabe came to me this morning and told me that this is his, "favorite kind of weather."  I asked him to explain what he meant and he said that he loved it when it was kind of cold, but not too cold, and the sun is not out and so it doesn't get hot.  All said with a smile on his face.  I promised him I'd let them play outside this morning so they could enjoy this cool front while it lasts (temperatures are predicted to go back up on Thursday).  Schoolwork will wait until the afternoon; we just don't get many days like this 'round here.

With Halloween less than a week away I thought I'd share some cards I made for scrapbook.com.  Actually, two cards and a gift tag, all made using the Nightfall collection from American Crafts:

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We don't really celebrate Halloween in our house; my husband and I are just not all that into this particular holiday.  But we do participate, in that we let the boys dress up and go trick-or-treating.  And I realize that some of my readers are going to understand what I'm talking about, and some of you won't, that's okay.  Basically, we focus on the Seinfeldian aspect of Halloween - the part where you "get candy."  That, and the pretending to be anything you want for one day.  For us it's all about the fun.  And with that thought, I can't wait to share the boys' costumes with you.  One was completely store-bought (or Amazon-bought actually), and the other is still in production.  My husband and I are as excited as the boys... they are going to be so cute!

Until next time! =)

October 22, 2011

Scrapbook! Saturday

I'm hosting the blog today at Write.Click.Scrapbook.  Today is all about scrapbook inspiration and we have a sketch, a printable, and some scrapbook-friendly craft inspiration to share with you.

Here is the sketch I created for this month:
If you'd like a fully-layered digital template of this sketch, you'll find the link in today's post.

Using the sketch, I created this layout documenting our recent pear-picking adventures:

A few of my fellow collective members also took a turn interpreting the sketch, and you can see their layouts on the blog today.

Have a great weekend!

October 21, 2011

150th post & a giveaway... or three!!

I'm a little tired today, so you'll have to forgive me if I keep this post short and sweet.  I woke up at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep.  I'm ever so grateful that it's Friday.  That means daddy will come home early today, and tomorrow I'll be able to get a little extra rest.  My husband always makes pancakes on Saturdays for the boys and lets me sleep in!  =)

I started this blog a little over two years ago and I'm just now reaching my 150th post.  So, yeah, it's taken me a while to get to this point.  I have always tried to keep this blog a true reflection of myself.  Meaning that I don't necessarily share everything here, but what I do share, I do so with honesty.  Sometimes that means not sharing much at all.  I'm an introvert by nature and most of the time I work through my thoughts and feelings internally.  But I do enjoy blogging and I wanted to mark this particular milestone by sharing something fun with you!  

How do three giveaways sound?

{Bundle A - features an assortment of products from Studio Calico and an Addy Sentiment Stamp}

{Bundle B - features an assortment of products from Studio Calico and a journaling stamp}

{Bundle C - features an assortment of products from Studio Calico, as well as some miscellaneous products from my own stash, and a journaling stamp from Prima}

Would you like to win one of these bundles of scrapbooking goodness?  Leave a comment telling me what you plan on doing this weekend (or what you did this weekend).  Also, be sure to include your email address in the comments so that I can contact you if you win.  If you have a preference, or order of preference, for the giveaway please indicate that in your comment too.  I'll leave the comments open until Wednesday, October 26th, 11:59 pm PST. The winner will be announced on Thursday and will be contacted shortly thereafter.  And my apologies to any international readers, but this giveaway is only open to residents of the U.S. 

October 19, 2011

thankful for you

I'm doing a short and quick post today.  Amongst all the other things I'm supposed to do (want to do, need to do), I'm working on finishing up my layouts for scrapbook.com for the month of October.  I'll share them with you when I'm all done.  For now, I have a card to share
{supply list}
Made using the Nightfall collection from American Crafts, which I love.  I plan on using it to scrapbook a few of our autumn memories.

Also, card-making month is ongoing at Ella.  Today on the blog is a post all about maximizing sketches for cards.  And, a couple of winners for the Stretch Your Sketches challenge series were announced yesterday.  If you regularly participated in the challenge you'll want to see if you're a winner.  I had to re-draw the winner for June - go and see if it might be you!  =)

October 14, 2011

five on Friday

This version of five on Friday is going into the better late than never category.  The past couple of weeks have just been more full than I thought they would be.  And despite my best intentions, I always have a potential post in my head, some things just have to come first.  Those some things being my guys.  Here's a little peek of what we've been up to lately:

1.  A couple of weeks ago, Gabe and daddy went to the MCAS Miramar Air Show

They went by themselves which made the day extra special.  Gabe had been anticipating this yearly event with no small amount of excitement.  He had so much fun that he is already looking ahead to next year.

2.  Inspired by the air show, a Blue Angel

Gabe's pile of "inventions" was getting a bit unruly.  Yesterday we undertook the task of photographing each one (there were 22 altogether).  I plan on helping him make a little book of his creations so that he can look back on the pictures for reference.  He takes his building seriously.

3.  Lately when you take a photo of Nathan, this is what you get

It's so like him too.

4.  We went to the pumpkin patch today

We headed out for breakfast first, for a special treat, and when we left the house it was a bit chilly, hence the long sleeves.  An hour later, not so much.  Thank you, California fall.  The boys didn't complain about the heat though and it ended up being a rather glorious day (despite a wee bit of grumpiness from the little fellow).

5.  Me and sweets are just about to settle down for the evening.  He'll be having an October favorite, Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale, and I plan on making this version of pumpkin spice syrup and enjoying a decaf latte (it is way too late for caffeine).  I'll let you know how it turned out.

Enjoy your weekend! =)

October 10, 2011

Slow-Cooker Pear Butter

I mentioned the other day that we took a trip to an apple farm a couple of weeks ago.  We came home with a box full of apples and pears that weighed in at 33 lbs!

{This is our box, not completely full, but getting there!}
If I had to guess, the box was about 1/4 apples and 3/4 pears.  Last year that ratio was reversed and I didn't have to worry so much about using our apples right away since they keep so well in the refrigerator.  Pears on the other hand don't keep quite as well, even in cold storage, and so I had to go to work straight away to make sure that none of the pears went to waste.

To use up our pears last year I made a pear butter based on a recipe I found online.  I made some adaptations to the recipe and it turned out so beautifully that I kept the recipe in mind for future use.  This year because we had so many pears I made a double-batch and I want to share my recipe and method with you.

Slow-Cooker Pear Butter

   5 lbs pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into eighths
   1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
   1/3 cup honey
   1/2 cup water
   2 Tbsp lemon juice
   1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
   1/8 teaspoon salt

   Combine all ingredients in an electric slow cooker (mine holds 4-quarts and works fine for this large recipe). Cover and cook on low 10 hours or until pears are fork tender.  Once the pears are cooked, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.  If you don’t own an immersion blender I think that a food processor would work well too.  Cook this pureed mixture uncovered on low for 1 to 2 hours or until the mixture has reached your desired thickness.  Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent burning during this step.  Yield:  Approximately 5 cups.  Stored in an airtight container the pear butter will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

A few notes:  I use pears that are not quite ripe.  Still firm, but not hard.  I find that because the pears are cooked for so long they will still become soft during cooking even if they are not ripe.  Also, because they still have some firmness to them, they give a nice texture to the finished pear butter (but still different from what you would get from making something like applesauce).  The original recipe, which mine is based on, calls for you to strain the mixture after you puree it.  I find this step unnecessary and the finished pear butter will be quite smooth even without this extra step.  My method saves time and keeps you from getting extra bowls, tools and utensils dirty (because honestly, who want to clean all that extra stuff anyway?)

It freezes exceptionally well and if you have a deep freezer you can keep it for anywhere between 9-12 months.  I speak from experience here because we just used up our last portion of pear butter a few weeks before our trip to the farm.  I defrosted it overnight in the refrigerator and could not notice any significant changes in the flavor or texture.  

We use this pear butter just as we would any other jam or preserves.  My absolute favorite way to eat it is on french toast with mascarpone,

which we did this past weekend.  It was lovely. =)

October 6, 2011

October is card-making month at Ella Publishing Co.

Join Ella all month long for free eZine articles, fabulous guest bloggers and giveaways.  It will all lead up to the release of their October eBook, 31 Thank You Cards.

The newest eZine article, 5 Trusted Card-Making Tips, by Kimber McGray is up already to help kick-off the month.  And be sure to visit Ella's Card-Making Month homepage to keep up-to-date on everything that is happening as Ella celebrates cards, card makers, and all the ins and outs of card making. 

Even though I was just lamenting the fact that we don't get much of a fall here in California, I actually have two fall-themed thank you cards to share with you today:
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I mentioned the other day that I am definitely more of a scrapbooker than a card maker.  I do enjoy making cards from time to time though, and find it is a great way to use up scraps or try out new techniques.  Do you love to make cards or are you intimidated by the process all together?  Either way, I hope you'll take advantage of all the inspiration that will be offered this month.  I think it's going to be a lot of fun! 

October 4, 2011

Fall in California

is not like fall in other parts of the country.

For example, when we went apple picking a couple of weeks back, the highlight of our trip was not the apples,

it was finding wild blackberries.

In mid-September.  And oh my, this one did not want to stop eating them.  Look at his little berry juice stained hands!  Notice too that the boys are wearing shorts, t-shirts, sandals and sunhats.  Sunscreen was also applied, but you can't see that.

We had a lot of fun on this trip, but first we had to adjust our attitudes.  Yes, even mommy.  You see, before we arrived we had read online that the apple crop wasn't that great this year.  But based on the apple crop at this same farm last year we thought that it couldn't possibly be that bad.  We were so wrong.  There were not many apples to pick at all, and it was disappointing.  We had gone with the idea that we would pick lots of apples and top-off our box with a couple of pounds of pears.  We all had to realize that this trip would not be like last year's. 

The good news?  The pear crop was amazing.  Once we adjusted our expectations and realized that we could have just as much fun picking pears as picking apples then we all cheered up,

Last year we went to the orchards in early October and the pears at the bottoms of the trees had already been picked.  This year Gabe at least was tall enough to reach them (most of them, some of the trees are quite big).  Nathan however, needed a little help

He loved picking the pears and was much gentler with the fruit this year.  Minding my instructions to place the pears in the bushel box without throwing them

Isn't he a cutie?  We think so. =)

Growing up in South Texas I never went apple picking or even visited a pumpkin patch.  Fall was decidedly different from the rest of the country there too.  I think that one of the blessings of living here in California is that we have access to so many great farms.  So, even if we don't get to wear sweaters and sip hot apple cider at the orchard, we can still go and enjoy the harvest, it's just a slightly different experience.  Of course, the boys don't even fully realize yet that our fall adventures are a little different from the ones we read about in our storybooks.  They had a blast, and in the end, that is all that matters.

Until next time. =)

October 1, 2011

Happy World Cardmaking Day!

And welcome to the Operation Write Home blog hop!

If you are not familiar with OWH, their mission is simple:  to support our nation's armed forces by sending blank handmade greeting cards for them to write home on, as well as cards of gratitude to encourage them.

Can I tell you how much I love this idea?  I am definitely more of a scrapbooker than a card-maker, but I do still make quite a few cards every month.  Over time they add up, and I make more cards than me or my family can use.  Operation Write Home gives card-makers and crafters an opportunity to express their creativity and put that finished product to good use.  Instead of stashing those cards in a box or in a drawer you can send your cards to OWH and they will send them out to troops who need them.

Want to get involved?  Click here to find out more about how you can help the men and women of our armed forces stay in touch with home.

As part of the blog hop today, I have two Christmas cards to share with you:

You might notice the use of glittery products, if you plan on donating or making cards for OWH you'll want to read their requirements about what types of glitter products are allowed. 

To visit the rest of the blogs in today's hop, click on the image below:

I am so happy spread the word about Operation Write Home and to be a part of today's blog hop.  If you can, take a moment to say hello?  Thank you so much for stopping by!


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