October 29, 2012

spooky greetings

With Halloween only two days away, I wanted to share a few cards that are really easy and fast to put together.  Of course, I used the Tricks and Treats collection from Pebbles, in particular the 6 x 6 inch paper pad and the Phrase and Accent stickers.

And sorry for sounding like a broken record here, but yeah, I used my Cameo too.  You might recognize that spider from the other day.  You can find the spider and the bat in the Silhouette online shape store.

You probably notice that the cards are all pretty similar in design.  I think I've mentioned this before, that most of the time when I make cards I like to make them in sets.  I usually make one card and then just slightly modify the design to make one or two more.  For this set, all of these card bases were cut from one sheet of 12 x 12 inch paper.  I cut two sections that are 5.5 x 8.5 inches and then another section 3.5 x 3.5 inches.  So, that last card is actually more of a mini card. 

One last design note... I'm not a huge fan of purple.  I'm going to be honest with you here, if the design team hadn't been sent this sheet of cardstock as part of the collection I would not have purchased it.  Because of that, I wanted to challenge myself to use it.  What I did is something I do often when I'm using a colored piece of cardstock as a card base.  I use it as an outside border and then use another piece of cardstock, in this case vanilla, to form another border between the patterned paper and the purple cardstock.  The vanilla helps the colors in the patterned papers to stand out more on the card, and yet you still get that small touch of purple.  In the two cards up top, there is another touch of purple in the sentiments.

An update on the costume front, I finished it last night!  It turned out pretty well considering I hadn't ever sewn with felt before.  The most important thing though, Nathan loves it.  He makes a super-cute pumpkin.  =)

Have a great Monday!!

October 27, 2012

Tricks and Treats

I'm sending these pillow boxes to my nieces for Halloween.  My sister and her family live in Texas, and I don't get to see them very often.  I wanted to send the girls something fun for Halloween, but not candy, since I knew they'd get plenty of that trick-or-treating.  When I came across these Halloween necklace kits at the craft store I knew they'd be perfect! 

They are cute aren't they?  I personally love the little candy corn beads.  I used my Cameo to cut the pillow boxes and labels.  I love my Cameo for cutting embellishments and titles, but it can be a very practical machine too.  There are so many different gift boxes and tags available at the online shape store, and the great thing about most of them is that you can adjust their sizes to meet your needs. 

To finish the boxes, I made a tag for one box, and a paper rosette for the other.  I then decorated them with coordinating stickers from the collection.  I also cut that adorable little spider using my Cameo.  The only kind of adorable spider is one made from paper! 

We don't go all-out for Halloween.  It is fun enough, but we like to keep it simple.  Which is a dilemma for me as a scrapbooker, as I have to say that I have a bit of a weakness for Halloween papers.  The Tricks and Treats collection from Pebbles is no exception.  And since we don't get into the scary stuff, this line is perfect.  Nothing too spooky or creepy, and a perfect mix of colors and patterns.

This past week the collection has been featured on the Pebbles blog as our product focus.  You can find all of this week's posts, as well as other projects featuring this line, here.

Thanks for stopping by today!!

October 26, 2012

five on Friday

It has been some time since I did a five on Friday post.  There is so much to share, I thought this would be a good way of rounding it all up.

1.  We went to the pumpkin patch today.  Daddy said he would buy the boys the biggest pumpkin they could carry...

I think they did well, don't you?  You can see from Gabe's expression that he is quite pleased with himself.

2.  This past week we have been enjoying the loveliest fall weather.  Think rain, think cold grey mornings.  And then, wouldn't you know it, today it was hot.  We still had a good time, of course.  You get used to this sort of thing living where we do.  Gabe said as we got into the car, "I love all the fun of the pumpkin patch."  He is just such a happy little boy.

3.  Speaking of Gabe, he is a Tiger Cub.  He is just so stinkin' excited about the whole Cub Scouting adventure.  All of it.  We got his uniform a couple weeks back, and he just could not wait to try it on. I told him he could wear it while I made dinner so that he could show daddy when he came home from work.  Daddy came home, dinnertime came, and he didn't want to take it off.  

4.  Nathan, who already looks up to Gabe and who wants to do essentially everything he does, always, can't wait to be a Cub Scout.  I think he was just as excited as Gabe about the uniform's arrival.

{An aside, we have old videos of the boys together, playing.  Even as a baby Nathan would mimic what Gabe was doing.  We didn't notice it at the time, but looking back it is so obvious.  Nathan is our sweetheart... he loves Sam the same way too.  He says he is his favorite baby.}

5.  Speaking of Nathan, he wants to be a "giant" pumpkin for Halloween.  That's his word, not mine.  I bought the materials for this project weeks ago, but only got around to cutting out the pattern last night.  It's been years since I sewed anything from a pattern.  I need to get busy... wish me luck!

Well, you know what I'll be doing this weekend!  What about you, have anything special planned? 

Until next time, happy Friday!!

October 21, 2012

A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy

I have to start this post by saying that in a lot of ways I feel quite unqualified to write a book review.  Yet, I am a Catholic mom who has been pregnant, and, well, I don't know what the future holds for our family... I'll just say that we try to be open God's gifts in our lives, and that includes the gift of children.  And in that way, I think it makes me perfectly qualified to review this book.  There may again come a time when I need it!

So, on with the review! 

I was pleasantly surprised by this book, and let me explain why.  I do read Sarah's blog from time to time, and enjoy her style of writing there, but that in itself is not a guarantee that I would enjoy this book.  I own several books that are written specifically for Catholic moms.  Books on organizing, building a Catholic culture in your home, books on praying as a mom... the list goes on.  But not all of them speak to me and honestly, there have been more than a few that I've put down and then just never picked up again.  I'd like to describe Sarah's writing voice as down-to-earth, but I'm not sure that does it justice.  I suppose this is where my weakness as a book reviewer comes in!  I found her writing to be very relatable.  There is a tendency among Catholic women to make a bit of an idol of pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing.  Sarah writes about the real joys and the real struggles of pregnancy.  She very wisely reminds us that if we are suffering we should unite that suffering with that of Jesus on the cross.  She also gently encourages us to look for the grace that is always available to us during pregnancy, if we are open to it.  Truly, it is a beautifully written book and speaks to the hearts of Catholic women.

The book is divided into three parts, Weekly Journey through Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery, and Baptism.  The chapters in the first part of the book are written to roughly coincide with the weeks of your pregnancy.  Each week Sarah talks about the major changes that you might be experiencing at that time.  She then relates these changes to a spiritual experience in a section subtitled, Walking with Mary (not all, but most of these are reflections on the mysteries of the rosary).*  Following that are two sections called One Small Step and Faith Focus.  The purpose of these is to incorporate our faith into the pregnancy experience in a real and concrete way.  Finally, each chapter closes with a prayer.  The chapters are relatively short and the book is more of a devotional than something you would pick up and read all the way through.  In that way, it truly is a companion that you can read and pick up when needed as you journey through your pregnancy. 

*Edited to add:  As Sarah as points out in the comments, every Walking with Mary is a reflection on one of the mysteries of the rosary.  There were one or two sections where this was not completely obvious to me, but having re-read them, I can see the connections more clearly now.  I'm thankful to Sarah for bringing a fresh perspective to the mysteries of the rosary by connecting them to the stages of pregnancy.

I wanted to be sure to post this today because this is the last week of Sarah's blog tour.

Also, you can enter to win a Nook each day until October 28th at Ave Maria Press.  So even though the tour has been going on for some time now, you still have plenty of chances to enter!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own, and no other compensation was received.

October 18, 2012

I'm blogging...

at the Simple Stories blog tomorrow.

Last week the design team of Simple Stories started sharing projects using the newest collections that fall under the Sn@p! brand.  And I do have more to say about that...  For now, I hope you'll stop by the blog tomorrow to see what I've made so far!

October 10, 2012

chocolate granola


I have been meaning to share this recipe with you all summer.  Yes, since summer.  At this point, I cannot remember the first time I made it.  I don't even remember how I came to find this recipe, except to say that when I did I couldn't get it out of my mind, and along with Pioneer Woman's iced coffee, will probably hold the record for quickest turn-around time from inspiration to execution.

I ate this granola almost every day this summer, except on the weekends, or when I'd run out.  And that is how my adaptation came about, because I learned pretty quickly, as in after the first batch, that I'd need to make more than one recipe at a time.  But I only have one rimmed baking sheet, an issue which does need to be resolved whether my husband thinks so or not, and so I now make one-and-a-half recipes each time.  That one-and-a-half recipes has become my recipe, and that's what I'm sharing with you here.  In fact, I'm making some today...

Chocolate Granola
Adapted from Molly Wizenburg's, French Chocolate Granola

I've made some adjustments for my own tastes, and for other reasons too.  Like using sliced almonds instead of chopped, as well as increasing the amount.  I buy sliced almonds at Costco and keep them in my refrigerator to add to cereals or oatmeal, so that is a natural switch for me.  Also, I've cut back the sweetness a bit - 8 tablespoons of honey instead of 9 - simply because it is easier to measure; 8 Tbsp is a half-cup, easy.  And it turns out I didn't miss that extra tablespoon anyhow.  I cut back the sugar too, and left out the coconut.  I do like coconut, but I don't like it enough to add it here.

For the chocolate, I use what Molly recommends, which is the Pound Plus bar from Trader Joe's that comes in a light brown wrapper.  If you don't have a Trader Joe's, you'll want to find a similar dark chocolate to use in its place.  The one I'm using has 54% cocoa solids.

4 1/2 cups rolled oat
1 cup raw sliced almonds
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
pinch of salt
8 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely chopped bittersweet dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sugar, salt and stir to blend.

In a small saucepan, combine the honey and oil.  Slowly warm over low heat, stirring gently until the honey has loosened.  Its viscosity will change as it is heated and will make it easier to combine with the oat mixture.  Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir well to combine.

Pour the oats onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread out in an even layer (I line my baking sheet with foil and parchment for easy clean-up).  And now, here is where the instructions get a bit, personal?  I happen to like my granola very toasty.  I found this out one day when I accidentally baked my granola a little longer than I had intended.  Thing was, I ended up liking it more that way and have been making it that way ever since.

To start you'll want to bake the granola for 20 minutes.  Then take it out and stir well, folding it actually, making sure that the granola on top makes it to the bottom and that the stuff on the bottom comes to the top.  Then continue to bake in 10 minute increments taking it out and stirring it each time.  When it has reached your desired doneness remove from the oven and leave it in the pan to cool completely.  I cook mine for about an hour total.  Stir it as it cools, or it will cool into one large solid mass of granola.  Not really what we're looking for here.

When the granola has cooled completely you can transfer it to the storage container of your choice (I use a  large zipper-lock bag).  Add the chocolate, close the bag or container, and gently turn the mixture to distribute the chocolate evenly throughout.

It is recommended to serve with plain milk in the opinion that yogurt or soy milk overwhelm the flavor of the chocolate.  I say, eat it however you'd like.  I happen to eat mine with yogurt and love it that way.  I don't find the flavor of the yogurt overwhelming, and quite enjoy the contrast of the tang from the yogurt with the little bursts of sweetness from the chocolate.  In fact, it's pretty much my favorite thing about this breakfast.


October 6, 2012

{Simple} Fall Greetings

I thought that since today is World Card Making Day it would be the perfect time to share some cards and tags I made recently. 

Can I tell you how happy I was to find out that Simple Stories had created a fall collection?  We don't get a drastic change in weather this time of year, the change of the season is much more gradual.  For example, just yesterday the AC was still kicking on now and then (not as much as in the summer, but still).  But tonight?  I can happily report that there was definitely a chill in the evening air.  I am crossing my fingers that fall is here to stay...

we'll see.

Over the past year, I've gotten in the habit of taking some time at the beginning each new season to make a few cards, for whatever occasions might arise.

I've shared this card before; I made it a couple of months ago,

and I just loved that stem of leaves.  I knew I wanted to make something else with a very similar design.  Sometimes when I'm making a set of cards or tags, I like to make one and then create something else that is just a slight variation, as you can see in the tags below.

I've mentioned before how much I love metallic embossing powder.  It really does look so pretty and I find I often get a better image stamping with the Versamark and embossing powder than I do with other inks.  The Versamark just gives such a clean image.

That teal dot paper below is one of my favorites, but really,

I don't think I could choose... I adore this whole collection, and I'm looking forward to using it to record our fall memories.  We'll be visiting the pumpkin patch soon - the boys are so excited. =)

I had a lot of fun creating these cards, and I hope you enjoy them too.  Will you be making any cards today?  I'm not sure I'll have a chance to do anything creative today, but I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend with my boys. 

I hope you have a great weekend too.

October 4, 2012

Wild Berries

Today was Sketchy Thursday at the Pebbles blog; a regular feature where Becky Fleck shares an exclusive sketch with Pebbles.  This month I had the opportunity to work with one of her sketches, and used it to make this layout 

Journaling reads:  The best part of our apple picking trip wasn't the apples, it was finding wild blackberries.  I think Nathan enjoyed this most of all of us, and picked so many berries his hands were stained from the juice for the rest of the day.

These photos were taken last year during our trip to Riley's Farm to pick apples and pears (mostly pears).  I had already made a page of that little adventure, but I hadn't recorded this particular story.  I don't know how well you can see Nathan's hand in that larger photo, but it was covered in blackberry juice.  I'm glad I finally made a page with these photos... they make me happy and definitely bring back the memories of that day.

Of course, you all know that I work with sketches often in my scrapbooking.  I stayed pretty true to the sketch's original design, but I did make a couple of changes.  I think I've said this a gazillion times, but for me, sketches are like a guide to help with design, however they should never limit your creativity.  Don't feel like you have to always stick to a sketch exactly.  I think my finished layout retains the balance and playfulness of the original sketch while also staying true to my own style.  In the end, I was really pleased with how this layout turned out.  It helps to have a gorgeous collection to work with.  My husband said the wood grain paper was the perfect choice for this layout.  I didn't disagree.  =)

As I mentioned last week, I've been doing a lot of scrapbooking lately.  Okay, maybe a lot is overstating it.  But I think that now, more than seven months after Samuel's arrival, I'm finally feeling like I'm back in the creative groove.  Also, I do love this time of year.  Looking forward to this new season.

Until next time...

October 1, 2012

right now

The other day I alluded to the fact that I haven't been blogging much of real life around here.  It's been all pages and cards on the blog this past month.  That's mostly because that's the easiest thing to share.  I'm scrapbooking anyway and it doesn't take too much more effort to share my pages here.  I don't want to say that we are busy, because everyone is busy.  But there are times in life that are more full than others, and right now is one of those times.  I'm popping-in to say hello, and to say that I really do have stuff to share.  Recipes, and photos, and stories.  But right now, right now I'm going to watch some television with my husband, and maybe have a scoop of pumpkin ice cream.  =)

Wishing you a lovely week!


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