Thursday, September 29, 2011

Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout cookie sales start in our area this coming Saturday. Aside from the top three, all-time favorites, there are some new flavors this year, including Lemonades and Shout Outs. Thanks-a-Lot are making a return with a new circular shape. Alexa will be busy with sales for the next three weeks and will hopefully reach her goal (she sets it herself) as she has in years past. What's your favorite cookie flavor? Mine is the Samoas/Caramel Delites. :)
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pool Party

I totally forgot to share a page I did last week. I guess it's a good thing I forgot, because I haven't done any scrapping this week. Hope you've been able to get some crafty time in!
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Chunky Applesauce

(Photo from Taste of Home)

We are taking Alexa and three of her friends apple picking this weekend. When we get back to the house, the girls are going to make applesauce — chunky applesauce to be exact. It's a super easy recipe I've been using for years and years and it always receives rave reviews.

3 pounds of apples, peeled and sliced (I usually use a mix of varieties)
scant 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 t. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Cover with waxed paper.

Microwave on high for 8-11 minutes or until apples are soft. Stir.

Mash apples (I use a potato masher) until slightly chunky.

Makes 5 1/2 cups.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

You Can Love Me Most...

Yesterday we gathered as a family, along with a number of my Dad's dear friends, to unveil Dad's headstone. To say it was an incredibly emotional experience, is a complete understatement. My father was not perfect, by any means, but he had such an amazing presence of being. He was always traveling. He was involved. He was more than smart. He was always trying. It was something I've heard over and over since his passing. The problem with that is it always lead me to believe (at least in the back of my mind) that he would live forever. Of course this is completely impossible and I know that but I can't get past it...yet. I'm hoping that the poem below (read at the service) will help me with this journey:

When I die, if you need to weep, cry for someone walking on the street beside you.
And when you need me, put your arms around others and give them what you need to give me.
You can love me most by letting hands touch hands and souls touch souls.
You can love me most by sharing your happy occasions and multiplying the goodness you do.
You can love me most by letting me live in your eyes, not in your mind.
And when you say Kaddish for me, remember what our tradition teaches: Love doesn't die. People do.
So when all that's left of me is love, give me away.

In Judaism, it is tradition to leave a small stone at the grave site when you visit. Alexa took this practice to heart and colored a rock and wrote, "I'll miss you," on the back. Some of the cousins also collected pieces of nature to leave as well. We were there...
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stuck on You

A few months back, Jennifer McGuire did a shout out for a new adhesive she had tried. Since I already loved the adhesive she had previously suggested, I had to give this one a try too. I have to say, I love it! The adhesive comes in three different widths and each dispenser is color coded. The dispenser has an easy on/off cap, stands upright, and feels like you're using a pen. The biggest "sell" for me is that this is a permanent dots adhesive, but it easily rubs off when you first put it down if you happen to overdo it. So, if you're in the market for a new adhesive, give these runners a try. Use the code "stamp" to get $5 off your purchase (which basically equates to free shipping) through 9/30/11.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Random Musing

I posted this as my Facebook status yesterday and it really got people thinking...

"My random musing for today: In an emergency, people are ready to drop everything to help. The "business" of their day doesn't seem to matter much any more. What about on a "typical" day? How many times have you put something off, not called a friend, not commented on a Facebook status even, because you are too "busy"? Take some time today to step away from the business of your life and make someone else's better. :)"

These thoughts go along with a project we did this week with a fifth grade class during library time at school. They learned about how important it is to them, and others, to "fill their bucket". You can do this by being kind, helpful, even smiling at someone. Being mean just empties your own bucket and that of the other person.

So go forth and do something nice to fill your bucket and the buckets of those around you. Pay someone a compliment, thank someone for something they've done for you, hold the door at a store for a mom who may be juggling a stroller, check in with a friend, tell someone you're sorry...Believe me, it will make you both feel great!
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty (Try It) Tuesday - Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

I amended my usual Tasty Tuesday title to include "Try It" this week because it's a recipe I hadn't tried before. With the recent drop in temperatures here in upstate NY, and the arrival of fall this week, I wanted to make a recipe that has pumpkin in it. I also chose it because Tom is an avid fan of oatmeal cookies.

These were super easy to make and the batter was great to work with too. If you have a spring-loaded portion scoop, I'd suggest using it. This way you get uniformly shaped cookies and also a better yield than if you eyeball the measurement. This what the cookies look like before going into the oven:

And here they are, fresh out of oven:

One minor change I made was to use sliced almonds because I didn't have pecans. These would be equally tasty with walnuts or pecans though. Take a look at for the recipe. Enjoy!
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Act of Kindness

I added this to yesterday's post and then it disappeared when I published it. Oh well, now I have something to share today instead. :)

Alexa did a beautiful act of kindness last week and was then told she couldn't do it so she was devastated. Of course I had to do a page about it because I want her to know all about life's ups and downs.

Journaling reads: As a kindergarten safety, you are responsible for getting L to his bus each afternoon. You’ve taken quite a liking to him so when he mentioned that he loves Legos you came home and packed up two little Lego sets to give to him. L’s mom didn’t know where they came from so she returned them to school. That’s when you learned about the kindergarten rule forbidding kids from giving things to each other. You were devastated. Sometimes it’s the thought that counts. September 15, 2011.
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Scrapping Sunday

I managed to crank out three pages this week (one I shared earlier in the week and one I just need to add journaling to and will add in later).

This one is about Alexa starting fifth grade. I didn't intend to use a school-themed collection but it worked well with the photo and it allowed me to use the remaining scraps from Imaginisce's Teacher's Pet collection. Gotta love that! The felt badge makes this a pretty lumpy page so it didn't scan very straight, but it is. :)

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Silly Songs with PopPop

Journaling for a future page:

The Veggie Tales cast may have Larry the Cucumber to rely on for silly songs, but we had PopPop. Ever since Mommy was a little girl, PopPop has been making up one-hit wonders. He started with "Bongo Tushies" and just kept going. One of his more recent originals came to life as I was packing up his apartment in Boston. There, in the glass-fronted console where he kept his collection of menorahs, stood a red and yellow puzzle menorah in the shape of a fish. It is handpainted and signed by the artist (although I can't make out what it says). The minute I saw it, I knew I had found "The Luchas Fish!"

As silly as it is, I have a hard time getting that song out of my head these days. So here, in all of its glory (and so we don't forget the lyrics), are the words:

Of all the fishes in the sea,
I wish I were a luchas (the "ch" said with a throaty sound as if you have a hairball, LOL!).
You can eat my head,
You can eat my tail,
But you cannot eat my elbow.

Of course the logical ending to the song should be the word "tuchas" since it rhymes with "luchas", but PopPop was never logical anyway, right? :)
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Pillow Perfection and Pickles

I am like The Princess and the Pea when it comes to my sleeping comfort. Everything has to be just right or I toss and turn. I even travel with my own pillow with the hope that I will always have a good night's sleep. That's right, I suffer from...pillow perfection!

As I crawl into bed each night, I run down a mental checklist. Blankets tucked in and level with my chin? Check. Pillow fluffy and comfortable? No. Wait a minute! What happened to my once big and fluffy pillow that lulled me to sleep each night? It's gotten...flat. Flat is not good in my book. Once a pillow is flat it's out the door (well not really, I usually put it in a pillow sham and use it as a back rest behind other pillows). The last pillow I bought was "The Big One" from Kohl's and they got the name right on. I could barely get it into my pillowcase but boy was it comfy. Notice I said "was." This is the pillow that has now lost its "oomph." I guess another trip to Kohl's is in my near future (along with buying a pair of slippers because the temps have seriously dipped here).

Now on to another "p" word — "pickles." My dad was obsessed with talking about pickles (even though he didn't like eating them). He told pickle jokes, he made up a pickle mint chip ice cream flavor, and he was given many pickle-related gifts over the years (including the bandages shown on my layout). Any way, this week I was inspired to scrap about this crazy obsession and now have the second page for my dad's memorial album done. It was a hard page to do, but I'm glad the memory is down on paper.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life's Little Disappointments

The Doodlebug design team was announced this morning and my name is not on the list. I mentioned to Alexa last night that they were going to announce today and because I hadn't yet gotten an email, I most likely did not make the team. She got all quiet and teared up and started crying. She was THAT disappointed for me. I was so touched by her support, encouragement, and emotions. I told her I was okay with it and we talked about disappointments in life and how to handle them. I told her that I submitted as a challenge to myself and that I was happy with my submission and that's what really counts (plus the fact that I have two cards I can now send and a holiday decor piece to display). Now it's time to refocus on why I REALLY scrapbook — to record our daily lives and the ups and downs that go along with life. :)

Congratulations to everyone who made the team!
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blog Your Heart

I'm an avid reader of Stephanie Howell's blog. Her posts are always focused on "real" life and I admire her comfort with sharing her feelings so freely. Today she challenged her readers to blog from the heart so here I go...

I'm missing my Dad like crazy and I'm overwhelmed by the physical and emotional "aftermath". I'm eating way too much in a fruitless effort to stave off the feelings. When will I get past it and be at peace with my grief?

There are some challenging family issues right now that weigh heavily on my mind.

Sometimes I get too focused on what has to get done instead of enjoying what's around me and the process of it all. Then again, there are days when I look around and I'm amazed at all of the beauty in the world.

I get frustrated too easily.

I need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. :)

Sometimes I just don't want to make any more decisions - easy or hard.

I really want to decorate for fall but I'm patiently holding out until the official start of the season.

I wish Doodlebug would announce their design team so I don't have to wonder any longer.

What's in your heart and on your mind today?
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Flourless Chocolate Cake

Last weekend, Tom not only surprised me by making my favorite dish for dinner (French Dressing Chicken), but he made a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. He researched recipes online before choosing one from (originally from Gourmet magazine, November 07). Surprisingly, the fact that the recipe calls for 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and the fact that we barely had 1 ounce of semisweet chocolate didn't deter him one bit. This guy likes to live on the wild side in the kitchen! LOL!

I have to say, the cake was delicious! It was a bit fragile, but definitely packed a wonderful chocolate flavor. Adding in more chocolate would give the flavor a big boost but also add more moisture to the cake. I didn't miss it one bit though.

So here, in all of its glory, is the recipe:

  • 4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.

    Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

    Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with sorbet if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)

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    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Latest Creations

    It wasn't a productive week in terms of scrapping, but here are the pages I worked on.

    This one is for my niece's album:

    And this one features one of the pictures I took of Alexa on the first day of school:

    What did you work on last week? What's on the crafting agenda for this week?
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    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Real Life Lesson #1: My Thoughts on 9/11/11

    As I watched today's events surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01, a page I did when Alexa was about 2 1/2 came to mind. I called it Life Lesson #1 and here is the journaling:

    "You are so observant. Nothing escapes your eyes! There are times, when we get out of the car and are walking toward a store, that you ask about the flattened circles of gum ground into the pavement and the pieces of trash blowing around. Youve even noticed plastic shopping bags blowing in trees and wonder how they got there. Weve talked about littering, how it isnt nice, and how it isnt respectful of the earth, but today, I passed a city worker, collecting trash on a highway on-ramp, and it really struck me. In a short span of roadway, he had filled three large trash bags with discarded refuse. I realized how careless some people can be with this world. I call it the world is my trash can” mentality. Life is fragile, our surroundings are fragile, and I have to wonder what kind of world you will grow up inthis world we all live in, this world we all share. Of course, you are too young to worry about these things or about political dissension, war, social issues, and so much more. As your mother, I feel so helpless because there are just some things I cant protect you from. What I can do, is teach you right from wrong and to believe in your convictions. You have already made a difference in this world. You make a difference in my life each and every day. I look into your sparkling, innocent eyes and they bring me back to reality, to what is important, and you show me that the world is full of wonder and beautiful things too."

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    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Taming Patterned Paper (and Cardstock too)

    Yesterday's post was about organizing and being organized and I promised to share how I organize my patterned papers and cardstock.

    As a basic "rule", I organize my patterned papers by manufacturer. I like to keep collections together and I put the newest release at the front of the pile. In order to keep everything neat and tidy, I use Generations 12x12 plastic envelopes for all papers, including cardstock (which is separated by color family). I store non-themed collections in a pretty, handled market basket (as seen above) and the themed collections and cardstock in a 12x12 mesh milk crate. I also store any flat embellishments or sticker sheets with each collection.

    I have one envelope filled with odds and ends like pieces of diecut papers to either use or trace and oddball pieces that no longer belong to a collection because I used it up (see below):

    Earlier I mentioned my "basic" rule of organizing, but rules are meant to be broken, so I store themed collections separately, along with any themed embellishments. Here's my folder for fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving:

    And here's an envelope of patriotic/Fourth of July:

    I hope I gave you some ideas to get you started and I'm always open to new ideas so please share with me how your craft room is organized. :)
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    Friday, September 9, 2011

    You've Come a Long Way Baby

    The journaling on this page reads, "According to notes Noona (my mom) wrote in my baby book, I didn’t like having my hair washed. I loved puzzles, reading, and liked to play with others. I was “very, very independent” when it came to eating and dressing. Here’s the kicker though (knowing how I am today), I was careless with my toys! Who knew I would end up being so organized and careful?"

    Organized is definitely a word that describes me to a tee. I like to organize, and be organized. It brings me a certain sense of control and peace. People are frequently asking if I could organize them. Being organized is something you can share, but it's different for each person. What works for me may not work for you. I've learned though, that no matter how organized you are, there's always room for improvement. Tomorrow I'll share how I organize my collection of patterned papers in my craft room...Stay tuned...
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    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Colorado, Rocky Mountain High

    Sometimes I like to take a break from scrapbooking about life in the Swift household, and do some pages for my niece, Sydnie (I'd LIKE to scrapbook about my other niece and nephews, but I never seem to get photos of them. Hint, hint sisters!) :) The latest set of photos I received, from my BIL, are from their spring visit to Steamboat Springs, CO. The only thing I can't do is journal about their memories so I always leave space for them to record that information (whether it be some hand drawn lines or a tag tucked behind a photo).
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    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    The Start of Alexa's Fifth Grade Adventure Begins Today

    My baby went off to fifth grade this morning. Here she is using a metal sculpture as a prop and pretending she's a librarian. LOL!

    I always have mixed feelings about the first day of school. I'm alternately excited for Alexa's new adventure and then sad because my baby is growing up and gaining more and more independence. I'm already prepared to be a sobbing mess on her first day of college. LOL!

    Spread your wings and fly, my sweet girl!

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    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Tasty Tuesday - Shrimp, Brown Rice and Mango Salad

    I really can't take credit for coming up with this recipe. I found it on a package of brown rice. Unfortunately, I threw said packaging away before copying the recipe, and had to wing it when I made this. The original recipe was meant as a filling for a wheat tortilla, but I turned it into a salad. It got three thumbs up and Alexa even begged to have the leftovers for lunch the next day (versus Tom taking it all to work for his lunch).

    Combine 1 1/2-2 c. cooked brown rice, 1 c. fresh or frozen cooked peas, 8 oz. large cooked shrimp (cut into bite-sized pieces), 1 ripe mango (chopped) and 1/2 c. chopped peanuts, cashews or sliced almonds in large serving bowl. Add liberal amount of purchased peanut sauce (I used Wegmans brand but you could also make your own) and toss until coated. Super yummy and delicious!

    Next time I'm going to add of stir fried tofu to the mix. Go ahead and experiment with adding your favorites to the mix!
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    Monday, September 5, 2011

    I'm a List Maker

    I don't know about you, but I am definitely a list maker. I love to make lists as much as I love crossing items off of my lists. I've tried to make the move to creating my lists on the computer, but I just can't. I'm a paper-and-pen girl, through and through. :)

    This is my absolute favorite calendar/list maker ever! It's from The Paper Source and I ask for a new one every year for my birthday. :) This year I have it in the curry color, but the persimmon is beautiful too.

    Here's my preliminary list for the week (doesn't include cleaning, laundry, etc. because those are just a "given"):

    Monday: Find a valance for the laundry room window. Scrap some pages for my niece. Create tomorrow's Tasty Tuesday blog post.
    Tuesday: Walk. Order a case of my favorite tea (Bigelow French Vanilla Decaf). Make yearly dermatologist appointment. Schedule appointment with financial advisor. Make oil change appointment for my car. Collect trash for Wednesday pick-up. Prep dinner. Mail soccer gear to Sydnie (my niece).
    Wednesday: First day of school. Yay! Food shopping. Prep dinner. List items on Ebay. Find 12x12 frame for a piece of Alexa's artwork. Goodwill drop off.
    Thursday: Figure out volunteer schedule at school and email Alexa's teacher and school librarian. Have Alexa's charm bracelet repaired.
    Friday: Catch up on everything I didn't get to during the week. :) Wait on Doodlebug design team announcement which hopefully will come this week.

    What's on your plate this week?
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    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    World in Motion

    Just sharing a page I just finished up today. It's about the week Alexa went to World in Motion camp at Rochester Institute of Technology. Based on a sketch by Lucy Chesna.

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    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Myrtle Beach Highlights

    I bought a travel journal to take on vacation with us to Myrtle Beach. I thought it would be fun for the three of us to highlight what we remembered of each day we were there. We all crawled into bed at the end of the first day and took turns writing our memories down. By the next day, it was only me and so on and so on. LOL! I took those notes and turned them into a list of memories that I put on this highlights page. It summarizes just about everything we did (well, except for the fact that Tom lost his glasses, LOL!) and I'll either use it at the beginning of the vacation pages I did or at the end.
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    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Some Days You Have It

    I try to go by the motto of, "Some days you have it and some days you don't." Some days are productive and some days are not. Today was a productive day. I dropped off a bunch of clothes at a local consignment shop (something I've never done before, preferring to sell my stuff either on Ebay or another web site I frequent). Here's hoping it all sells! :) I also pruned our beautiful, lush lilac bushes (and some other bushes as well) in an effort to get them under control and less jungle like and the whole family pitched in to wash the cushions to our front porch furniture. Alexa had a "blast" with the power washer. What did you accomplish today?
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    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Doodlebug Design Team Submission

    The deadline to apply for the Doodlebug design team (for the non-scrapbooking crowd, Doodlebug is the manufacturer of fun and whimsical scrapbooking papers and embellishments) ended yesterday. I had to create one layout, two cards, and a home decor item. Now the waiting begins...:)

    Here's my layout submission (Webster Campout):

    The two cards (2U and Hi & Hello):

    And last, but the least, the home decor item, an altered "C" for Christmastime:

    Hopefully the decision will be made soon. Even if I don't make the cut, I'm happy to have some projects done. :) Good luck to all who entered!
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    Happy September 1st!

    I love the start of a new month! It brings fresh, new possibilities and I always wonder where the month will take us. My mom used to start each month off by saying, "rabbit, rabbit" for each of her four children. I guess it's an old myth or old wives' tale that is supposed to bring good luck. I silently wished her "rabbit, rabbit" this morning. :)

    In one week, September will take Alexa back to school where I'll be volunteering my time, in the classroom and school library, once a week.

    Here's Alexa on her first day of 4th grade last year. I can't wait to compare the photo with this year's to see how much she's changed!

    Where is September going to take you? :)
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