Friday, December 30, 2011

Buh-Bye, 2011 (Don't let the door hit ya...)

This post syarted out as a recap of all the $hitty things that happened this year. It was going to be a LONG post! Instead, I'd rather focus on the upsides of it all, wherever possible.

Downside #1: My Mother in law (MIL) came to live with us while she underwent radiation therapy for a rare form of cancer in her pallatte. It wasn't her living there, or even tge radiation tgat was such a drag. It was going through the side effects with her, being scared out of my mind. Many stressful visits to the ER & a side of family drama.

Upside #1: The "home health angel" was really more of a support for me as a care taker. I would've lost my marbles for sure if it hadn't been.for her. I also became close friends with my MIL, in a way that never would have happened otherwise.

Downside #2: My Uncle Bruce passed away in July. It took a while to sink in...and then I saw firetrucks at a 4th of July festival. I realized then that I'd always thought of my uncle, the fire captain, whenever I saw a fire truck or there was some huge fire in Cslifornia. I beat myself up a bit over not kerping in better touch, especially when he went through his own battle with throat cancer.

Upside #2: I grew a lot through the grieving process. His funeral became a sort of family reunion as well. That in and of itself was quite an adventure!

Downside #3: The death of my (step-) brothers' dad. My heart breaks for my brothers.

Upside #3: I am realizing that funerals will become more frequent in my life. More personal growth! Another mini-family reunion. This time I saw my "step-and-a-half" sisters for the first time in probably 25 years!

Downside #4: #%%*/*-&%@@&&*  Jury Duty. NOW I see why everyone wants to get out of it! This was a murder case with no frickin evidence & sketchy witnesses! It was so intense & stressful.

Upside #4: More growing up for Sara. I got to see some ugly parts of the real world we live in, up close & personal. I got to experience how the judicial system works. I plan to write a book about it, so maybe I'll make a few bucks! If nothing else, I'll be able to scratch "write a book" off my bucket list.

There were many more highs (like learning of my sister's pregnancy & spending New Years Eve with her & her husband)& lows in 2011 (like getting rear ended at Christmas), but these were the biggies for me. I feel like I've aged 7 years, but I'm trying to look at hown much I've GROWN on the inside.

No doubt about it, 2011 sucked big time and I'm not at all sad to see it go. The good news is, "His mercies are new every morning." It's a New Year with it's own challenges & opportunities.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (bending the rules a bit)

My BFF, Jen, a.k.a. J.Ho, a.k.a. Mom Rocks Mealtime, a.k.a. Eve Dubois, pet masseusse, ALWAYs makes the most wonderful, sentimental gifts! She REALLY likes to make me cry. This year she cracked me UP! OK, we cracked each other up. We tend to joke that we share the same brain. Well, come to find out it's totally TRUE!

I started out trying to make her some lovely ornaments for her tree. They did turn out as nice as I'd planned, so I decided I needed a Plan B. I will post about the ornaments at another time.

Plan B came about when I stumbled upon a blog about putting ruffles on an apron. EUREKA! I'll make her an apron! I'll cut out the letters for "Mom Rocks Meals" with my Cricut and iron them on! SCORE! Double score when I discovered I had an unused, un-embellished black apron in my inventory! That cut out some steps and saved some time. It turned out another friend of mine got an early Christmas pressie: an embroidery sewing machine! So, of course I invited her over for a "Girls night IN" for some crafty craftiness and VOILA!

Now here's the same brain part...Jen and her sweet family came over for dinner and gift exchange last night. It was the first night of Hanukkah, so we decided to all wear blue shirts. We are not Jewish, but Jesus was, so it worked for us! I started to chuckle when my little one opened her pressie from Auntie Jen: an adorable apron with the words "Hot Spill" on it! I said "OH! Let's take a PICTURE!" to which Mr. Jen replied, "No, why don't you wait til you open YOUR present!" I knew right then...we had made the same gift for each other and each others daughters!

You can't tell in this pic, but Josie's apron is reversible. The back side matches one of the ruffles on her mom's apron. I love love LOVE the way the embroidery turned out! I thought the ruffles were cute. As for our aprons, they are PRICELESS! Jen, once again, OUTDID herself! The coordinating fabrics are SO cute, and of course in true brain sharing form, the aprons from her have a little ruffle too! Do you see how she attached the straps on ours? It's SO cool! There are button holes on the apron and the straps have a knot at the end and work like a button. Miss M's has lil' retro buttons that coordinate oh-so-cute with the fabric!

Happy Crafting!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Freebie Friday: Digi Scrapping Papers & Elements!

I am slowly but surely getting rid of my old school scrap-booking stuff. I just know I will never use it. I give some of it to my soon-to-be-three year old for her art box, a little at a time, and give some of it away. I am a full fledged digital-scrapbooking convert and I'm here to spread the word!

Benefits of digital scrapbooking:

  1. Cheaper: Supplies are much cheaper and can be reused infinite number of times. You don't have to pay to have your digital images printed before you can scrapbook. 
  2. Flexible: If you make a mistake or don't like the way something looks, it's easy to change it. 
  3. Convenient: Your pics are already in digital format anyway! Plus, with Quick Pages, scrapbooking a two page layout goes from taking HOURS to MINUTES! 
  4. Duplicatable: Design the book once, and print multiple copies for friends and family members. 
I could go on and on but I think you get the point: Digital Scrapbooking is AWESOME! To get you started, here is a little FREEBIE from MyMemories. You don't have to have the MyMemories Suite to use it. Although, if you want to score yourself a copy and make your scrapbooking life MUCH simpler, you can purchase a copy and save $10 when you use my code: STMMMS46094. You will also get $10 worth of digital downloads from the MyMemories store! 

Click the image below to download the freebies. Please comment with a link to your work! I want to see what you've done with it.

Happy Scrapping!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When Do You Begin Decorating for the Holidays?

I try to get my holiday decorating done Thanksgiving weekend. We managed to pull it off this year, too. We have a small, artificial tree that we set up on a small table at the end of the couch. This helps keep the cats out of it. The toddler can still gawk at and touch the ornaments on the lower branches, but overall, the tree is safe from potential danger.

So far we have not been able to afford outdoor lights. I am really hopping, and somewhat planning to save for that for next year. I think the little one would really enjoy that. She loves looking at all the lights when we drive home from pre-school.

This year I kept the decorating really simple. It's pretty much just the tree and a couple of other items in the living room. I put one decoration in the bathroom. I'm going to be gone for two weeks after Christmas, so I didn't want to go overboard.

When do you usually begin decorating? How far do you go? Griswold-over-the-top? or keep it simple? When do you plan to decorations down? I'd love to hear from you!

Please comment below. If you have trouble commenting, please contact me on Twitter @craftarrific and let me know what's happening. I've had reports that people can't comment, but it works when I try to do it. Thanks!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Freebie Friday: Digi Scrap Fodder

I was converted to digital scrapbooking by my dear friend, Jen, also known as J.Ho. We fell in love with the flexibility of it all. We started out creating pages in Microsoft Publisher because neither of us have PhotoShop. We learned the joys of digital freebies and QUICK PAGES! OMG! Quick Pages are a blessing from heaven!

Quick Pages are pre-made layouts, ready for you to plop your pictures right into and VOILA, you have a beautiful scrapbook page in minutes. It takes longer to select your pics than it does to actually make the page! I love it!

Jen is way more creative than I am, so I rely HEAVILY on quick pages and digi-scrap kits of all kinds.

I have a long distance friend via Jen, named Jenni. I am blessed with many Jennifers in my life! Jenni's blog, Jah-Just Jennifer gaveaway MyMemories Suite and I was the winner! Now I truly believe I can accomplish my scrapbooking goals in 2012:
  1. Scrap as I go through the year, practically real time, as things happen so I will have a beautiful year in review by the end of the year. 
  2. Catch up on the Lovely Miss M's scrapbook! I can't BELIEVE how many pics we have of this child! She's nearly three, so I'm way behind. I have some pages done, most of which I'd like to redo. 
  3. Create a digital scrapbook of my WEDDING. We celebrated five years of marriage in November, but what's the rush, right? 
That sounds like a lot to take on and even as I read that list now I get a little overwhelmed. If I keep on top of #1, and chip away at #2 & 3 at least I will be happy.

Well, what about this freebie I speak of in the title of this post??? Well, MyMemories has graciously provided me with some freebies to spread the love and hopefully create some more digi-scrapping converts! It doesn't matter if you use MyMemories, My Digital Studio, PhotoShop, Publisher, GIMP, or another application. These files are in .png and .jpg format. You will receive:
  • 2 Quick Pages
  • 2 Coordinating papers used to make the quick pages
  • 7 elements coordinating with the quick pages and papers
Remember, if you want to purchase the MyMemoriesSuite, use my code: STMMMS46094  for $10 off the price of the software, PLUS $10 in free digital downloads from the MyMemories store!  Please post a link to your project in the comments.

Here is what I created with this freebie:

 Click on either example above to get your freebies!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sewing again!

I recently inherited a Singer Ultralock sewing machine (serger). My husband suggested I put it on Craigslist (GASP!). He added "Since you sew SO much (sarcastically)." I realized I haven't been sewing much the past three years because I've been working and raising a child! Well, now that she's more independent, I decided I can whip out the ole' Singer and put it to work!

Last night I got to work on a Christmas pressie for someone near and dear to me. They may or may not know this blog exists, so I will hold off on posting until after the gift has been given. It's a gift to me, too, because sewing is so therapeutic for me!

I also have TWO quilts in various stages that  I need to complete before Christmas too. EEK! All this, AND work AND run an Avon business (know anyone who wants to make some extra cash on the site? Comment me!). Oy vey! Oh yeah, and lots of Christmas goodies to be made, too!

Oh well, it's still the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2011 Christmas Card Drafts

Now that my family has attended the annual cookie parted hosted by none other than the lovely J.Ho (of Mom Rocks Mealtime fame) and her sweet family, I am now able to play around and create my family's annual Christmas card. The two traditions go hand in hand. Jen sets up a photo booth and takes a picture of each family as they come in. I have been using this family photo as the photo basis for my Christmas cards.

This year, I used MyMemories Suite to create the options I will present to my husband. Remember, you can use my code: STMMMS46094 at checkout for $10 off the software, plus $10 in free digital downloads on the site. I used a set of 5x7 Quick Pages to create my cards. I added the borders to the first two.

I prefer the sentiment "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays," so I tried to tweak the landscape option:

 From the looks of things now that I've actually uploaded these, I need to shift the QuickPage a little bit so the right side doesn't get cut off. Please comment with your favorite! If you have the MyMemories Suite already and make your Christmas cards with it, post a link and I'll check it out! Even if you use other software, such as PhotoShop, or MyDigital Studio, please share your digital handiwork!

Happy Crafting!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Pressie Sneak Peek!

You may recall that a while back, I won MyMemories Suite digital scrap-booking software from Jah-JustJennifer. I've posted some of the pages before. I am happy to report that I can now offer my readers a code for $10 off the software AND $10 in free digital downloads from the MyMemories site: STMMMS46094. 

One thing I LOVE about MyMemories Suite is it is SO easy to use! I recently upgraded to the latest version and received $10 in free digital downloads. I used my credit to purchase a 2012 calendar template and was able to whip out Christmas gifts for hubby and grandparents in just a few hours. It would have gone MUCH faster if my computer was up to the task, but I'm working on that! 

Here is a sneak peak at some of the pages: 

 I needed more pics in July than the layout allowed, so Just added them in! No problem!

A friend of mine, who also makes calendars for Christmas, suggested putting a picture of the face of the person whose birthday it is on their actual birthday! Great idea,  but I wasn't willing to take the time this year. Maybe next year I'll add that little upgrade. 

Happy Crafting!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pulled Another Rabbit Out of My Hat

...or rather, a decent meal out of my nearly bare fridge & pantry. I call it Cheater's Chinese Fried Rice:

- a few strips of bacon
- leftover onion
- brown rice
- frozen veggies
- low sodium soy sauce (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?)
- a few eggs or egg substitute

Get the rice cooking first (may substitute your fave kind of rice, whatever's on hand).

Meanwhile, cut the bacon into 1/2" or so pieces & cook it in another pan. Add the onions a few minutes before the bacon is done. When the onions get nice & soft, take it off the heat until the rice is done. Feel free to drain the bacon grease. I didn't because the bacon was somewhat lean, so it didn't produce a whole lot if grease. I thought it added to the flavor.

When the rice is cooked, turn the heat back on the bacon & onions. Dump the rice in & stir it all together. Add the frozen veg (about 1 1/2 cups or so).

I didn't prepare the frozen veggies. i just let the heat of the rice defrost & heat them up.

Clear a space in the center of the rice to cook & scramble the eggs. When the eggs start to cook, incorporate them with the rest of the ingredients.

Add soy sauce to you liking & serve! Presto! A cheap, healthy dinner and only two dirty pans!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sara's SortaLike Chicken Florentine

Last week I came up with this yummy concoction, using ingredients we had on hand. This was a rare occasion because we (hubby) usually plan our meals for the week, and buy just what we need. My bff, Jen, over at Mom Rocks Mealtime is a pro at menu planning!
Anyway, this is what I had to work with:
  • 1 very large chicken breast
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Canned spinach
  • Canned, diced tomatoes
  • Chopped olives
  • Arborio rice
Saute garlic & onion in a pan with olive oil. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, start cooking the Arborio rice according to package instructions. It takes a while.

Season the chicken breast as desired. I think I used seasoned salt, powdered garlic & onion powder. Place the chicken in the pan with garlic & onions. Cook for a few minutes on each side over medium heat. Time will depend on how thick the chicken is.
When chicken is nearly done, add the spinach & tomatoes (drained, or it will get too soupy).  Add chopped olives. Let it all co-mingle for a while.

Once it all looks done to you, spoon some of the arborio on each plate. Put a piece of chicken on the rice and spoon the yummy spinach and tomato goodness over the top. If you happen to have some feta cheese on hand, sprinkle some on top. I tried this with a later rendition and it was DIVINE! Sorry, I forgot to take a pic both times I made this dish. I am probably  making it for my folks next weekend, so I'll snap a pic for you then.

Instead of arborio, you could also serve up some brown rice, pasta, or whatever Roni box you have in your pantry.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Trick Or Treating!

Thanks for Mom Rocks Mealtime (our kiddos are bestest buds!), Free Digital Scrapbooking, Jah-JustJennifer (she turned me on to MyMemories...I won it on her blog), and MyMemories Suite, I was able to whip up this layout in the thirty minutes from when I gave up on my work project (it had already long since given up on ME!) and picking up my munchkin from pre-school.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Memories: No Faces Challenge

I recently won a copy of the MyMemories Suite digital scrap booking software from a contest at Jah-JustJennifer.

I became a fan of the MyMemories Facebook page and have been having LOTS of fun learning new techniques. The one I'll share today is from the blog. It's a No Faces Allowed Challenge! Let me know what you think! I am thinking I might go back and put a frame on the black and white image. There's just so much WHITE from my wedding gown, I think it's a little distracting. Feel free to give me feedback! I'm learning. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Top 10 Stress Busters

I recently read Top 10: Ways to De-Stress. It made me think about the stress in my own life right now and how I'm dealing with it.  Here's my top 5 ways to de-stress (in no particular order):
  1. Read: I used to love love LOOOOOVE to read! I would read anything I could get my hands on. Sometimes that was the back of  a cereal box during breakfast. Now that I read all day at work, I have sort of lost interest. I recently started picking up free and cheap novels for my Kindle app on my phone. I have fallen in love with reading again. Having books on my phone makes it really handy to sneak in a chapter here and there! 
  2. Exercise: It's amazing what a quick workout on my Wii, or a walk around the neighborhood can do. There was a day recently where I was really down and beating myself up mentally pretty badly. I finally stepped away from my computer, got up and did my Just Dance II workout for about 20 minutes. It was TRANSFORMING! 
  3. Get Creative: Whether it's making cards, scrap-booking (digitally or old school), quilting, or knitting (which I pretty much gave up when my daughter came along, but hope to pick it up again someday), getting creative is a great for me to de-stress. It takes my head out of whatever is stressing me out and time just seems to FLY by. I have a couple of upcoming PTO days specifically for this purpose. I'm going to visit my BFF and we're going to spend the day making cards together. I can't wait! 
  4. Snuggle: Whether it's snuggling my hubby, my daughter, or both, I believe stress busting endorphins are released when snuggling! Especially when I sniff the top of my daughter's head!
  5. Date night: Our daughter's daycare offers monthly "Kids Night Out."  One Friday a month, we drop her off with her pajamas and don't pick her up until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. They entertain the kiddos with movies, crafts, and dinner. When we pick her up, she's in her jammies and ready for bed. She usually requires a little snuggle time after such a long day apart, but that has stress busting qualities in and of itself! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Digital Studio (MDS) Monday (a day late!)

I have been studying the My Digital Studio community website and user guide. I also FINALLY found my Sale-A-Bration content CD that I had stashed somewhere! Naturally that was AFTER I started this spring time card for the MDS Monday challenge over at Utah Divas International. 

This card came together so quickly! I picked out my paper, grabbed a couple punches, couple stamps, added the ribbon and voila! The hardest part was getting Miss M's cute little face into a circle! I finally figured it out though! The stamp set is Easter Blossoms and the Designer Series Paper (DSP) is from the Springtime Vintage Collection. It's in the Occasions catalog that ends April 31, but I think it will still be available for MDS after that. I'm still learning the ropes about how retired sets work when it comes to MDS!

If you have your own program for digital scrapping and stamping, you can still use Stampin' Up Images. There is an option to download them as a JPG file instead of an MDS file!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Swaps!

My swaps this month were inspired by Martha Stewart, over at Seasons of Stamping!

Base- Old Olive Card Stock
Layer 1- Daffodil Delight Patterns DSP
Layer 2- Whisper White Card stock stamped with:
Embossed using the Big Shot & Square Lattice embossing folder.

Embellished the centers of the flowers with Basic Rhinestones. 
Sentiment punched with Decorative Label Punch.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Things Have to be Believed to be Seen

I am building up a stash of positive and encouraging cards to give my mother in law over the next 6 weeks or more. She lives in Costa Rica, but she is staying with us while she undergoes radiation treatment.  I thought it would be nice to have at least one card for week, plus more for days I think she might need an extra boost.

I made extras for a swap I am in. Actually I have two swaps to finish but I haven't decided which one this is for yet: my monthly swap with a group of other stampers or a masculine swap.

Here are the Stampin' Up supplies that were used to make this card front:
There are other factors in my life right now causing stress. Nothing major, but the combined total of it all is taking it's toll on me. I have found stamping to be very therapeutic. It gets me into the creative side of my brain, where everything else just disappears. It also feels good to do something nice for someone else.

I also received some swaps in the mail this week. Just looking at them, gave me a lot of peace and happiness. I'll share pics of those in another post.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gift Bag & birthday card

I love this technique for making gift bags!  I will do a tutorial soon. It involves decoratingvdirt cheap manila envelopes. When folded just right, they make a fabulous gift bag!

I made the card for a kids birthday swap I'm in. I had an extra. Since it's the same colors as the bag, PRESTO! Instant matching set!

The recipient is in Daisies, the youngest girl scout group. I thought this punch kindda resembled a daisy. I used sticky strip & grosgrain ribbon for the flower stems.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Funny Birthday Card story!

January is chock full o' birthdays in my family! Mine is on the 13th, my daugther's is on the 19th (she was due on my birthday, and what a gift that would have been, but she showed up a week late!), my mom's is a week later on the 26th, and my aunt's is the 18th..I mean 16th! That's the funny part! To me, anyway!

My parents and my brother came for an overnighter on Saturday, the 15th. Mom figured we would just have on grand celebration, which was awesome. My little one is turning two and we're having a big Wiggles party, but Mom figured she wouldn't know if they were here or not and this way they could spend more quality time together. It was great!

Fast forward to Sunday night, the 16th...I get a voice mail from my aunt, saying my dad had called to wish her a happy birthday and said they'd been having a belated celebration with me, etc., etc. She went on to apologe for not calling me on my birthday...which is funny to ME because on my calendar her birthday is on the 18th! So, I made her this card using My Digital Studio today and will email to her with a funny message about how we both got our dates mixed up. Knowing my aunt, she will see the humor in it.

I CASEd (copy and steal everything) it from the Stampin' Bug.

My Digital Studio (MDS) is a great way to play around with many of the Stampin' Up products without taking up a lot of room! I also like to use it to design cards before I sit down to make them. In this case, it's also a great way to make a card for someone and send it electronically. If you are already a digital stamper or scrapper, you can still purchase and use MDS downloads with any program that uses JPG files.

I hope you enjoy this birthday card!


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