Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Summer of '64

I had to work real hard not to drool on this page. LOL! Just about everything on here is from American Crafts new Dear Lizzy Neapolitan collection. The colors are so yummy and fresh and so are the patterns (I'm especially in love with the mason jars!). I've already reordered because I want to have this collection on hand to use again and again.

Anyway, these are pics of me and my Mom from the summer of '64. I have no idea where the left hand photo was taken but I think the right hand one was from when we lived in VA. Regardless, they make me happy. :) What's making you happy today?
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tasty Tuesday - Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

As a prequel to today's blog post I have some great newsvto share! :) I have a shout out on Little Yellow Bicycle's blog this morning! Such a nice surprise to wake up to. :)

Alexa and I did a bit of baking on Friday. It's a fun way for us to spend some mother-daughter time together, especially at the end of a school vacation when we would usually be getting on each other's nerves. LOL! Our original plan was to make lemon poppy seed breads, but we didn't have enough eggs so we'll have to make those another time. Plan B you see above. This is a nice, moist loaf with a great crust on top and it's great with a hot cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer). Oh, and if you don't like chocolate with your bananas, just leave the chips out.

So here goes...

1 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter or margarine
2 ripe bananas, broken into pieces
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. vanilla yogurt or sour cream
2 egg whites (I actually use dried egg whites rather than "waste" a whole egg)
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda

Heat oven to 350° F. Coat one large 9x5" loaf pan OR three small 5 x 2 1/2" loaf pans.

Cream sugar and butter.

Add bananas, beating until smooth.

Add milk, yogurt/sour cream, and egg whites; beat well.

Combine flour and baking soda. Add to banana mixture, beating until blended.

Spoon batter into prepared pan(s).

Bake small loaves for 50 minutes, large loaf for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.

As always, enjoy! :)
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Actions in Action

I know most of you are way more savvy than I am when it comes to using Photoshop. I actually use Photoshop Elements 6.0 (for the Mac). Over the years I've dabbled in enhancing my photos, using layers, adding text, etc. It was until last week that I finally jumped on the "action" bandwagon. I noticed an ad on my Facebook page from Yellow Sky actions. They were offering four free actions if you "liked" them, so I did. I figured now was as good a time as any to get started. Their install directions were so simple and easy to follow and I was soon tinkering with photos and making them look like I was a pro. LOL!

Of course now I was hooked so I had to find more to play with (but they had to be free because at this point I'm just tinkering and I don't know what to look for specifically).

I learned that The Pioneer Woman (yup, the same Bree of cooking fame, LOL) also has a photography section on her blog and she offers free actions. This link is for Photoshop Elements actions. If you're looking for other tips and other actions, look here.

I took the "before" photo (below left) and started playing with it, adding in some of the Pioneer Woman's actions and the result is the second photo (below right). I added a burn action and did some sharpening and I threw in a couple more actions that I don't remember at this point because I didn't write them down. I guess the key is to just play, have fun with it, experiment and see what you like.

If you have a favorite action, one you go to all of the time, I'd love to hear about it (especially if it's free). Thank you! :)

Linked to Tip's Tip Me Tuesday.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Selling Us On Cellular

This lovely young lady is chomping at the bit to go to middle school. She can hardly wait to finish fifth grade and move on to sixth. She even has her first day of school outfit picked out (it's a pretty dress handed down from her 15 year old cousin). Let's just say that there's a four year difference in age between them so she has a bit of growing to do, especially in one area in particular before it even fits her properly. LOL! To go along with being a middle schooler, this young lady would also like to have a cell phone. We're not entirely convinced yet that this is something we need to do, but she is persistent (like me) and typed up a list of reasons why she should have one. The list is as follows (in her own words, typos and all):

Reasons to get a cell

1)you will know were I am at all times

2)I will use my own money to pay for texting and other expenses 

3)you can set the limits for texting and calling

4)I can always call for help(if needed)

5)I will be really responsible with it and not lose it

6)if I can do all my chores for 4 weeks I will prove to you I will be responsible with the cell phone

7)You will be able to use the home phone at the same time as me using my cellphone

8)You can set the limits for how long I can spend on it everyday

9)If I go over the limit for texting and or calling I'll pay for it

10)Sienna has a phone and I want to be able to stay in touch with her instantly

So, if nothing else, I have a great topic for a layout, right? :) Have a great day!
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

One Red Rose and Ravioli

I just realized I never blogged about Valentine's Day so that's what today's post is about.

What do roses and ravioli have in common you ask? I got an email from Tom, on Valentine's Day morning, telling me not to make anything for dinner because he was going to take care of it. Although I love to cook (and bake), I also enjoy any and every opportunity for my husband to cook for me. Late in the afternoon, I drove Alexa to dance. When I got home, Tom presented me with a single, beautiful red rose (pictured above). He then proceeded to prepare dinner and tell me about all of the stops he made in the process of collecting things for dinner. First stop, The Ravioli Shop, to buy broccoli and feta ravioli, a fresh sesame semolina bread, a container of marinara sauce, and chocolate eclairs for dessert. Next stop was the wine store to buy a sweet Riesling (called Relax for those of you who are always searching for a sweet Riesling like I am). Last stop was the florist to buy the rose.

So that's how one red rose and ravioli came to be. :)
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Little Sneak Peek :)

I've been making cards for some upcoming projects, and although I can't share the whole thing, I thought I'd give a little sneak peek. :) Used lots of Simple Stories Year.o.graphy on this. Oh, and to those of you that are amazing bow makers, I won't tell you how long I spent getting the bow on here just right. Let's just say it's not one of my better skills. LOL!
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The World Around You

These are a few shots from a fall hike we did in a local park back in November. I love how easy it is to work with Simple Stories' Year.o.graphy collection. It's so easy to mix and match and it all looks so seamless. :)
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Thank You!

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your kind words, ideas and suggestions on my blog yesterday (and also on Two Peas). I have read every single comment and have implemented all (!) of the ideas. LOL! This is becoming a full-time job! You are all so helpful and encouraging and I am really enjoying the discussion my question has brought about. :) Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feedback Please :)

As you may know, from my thread on Two Peas, I am trying to work toward better promoting myself in the scrap industry. With the help of some amazing mentors, I have taken on the task of giving my blog a facelift, first in the form of some new additions. You'll notice I now have some tabs at the top of the blog (they are a work in progress, for sure, LOL!) If you don't mind, would you give me your feedback specifically (for now) on the publications tab? I listed 2011 and to-date 2012 publications. Should I go back further or does this establish enough of a publication presence for me? I'm open to any and all suggestions, help, and even criticism. I'm a big girl, I can take it! LOL!
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Great News Kind of Day :)

I have some great news to share! Scrapbooking & Beyond magazine picked up six of my layouts for their upcoming Fall and Winter issues. :)

Also, I just checked the Jillibean Soup blog (as I do every day, but their post wasn't up this morning when I checked) and found out I've been Soup Spotted! :)

I wonder if this means I'll be getting great stuff in the mail today too. LOL!
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Valentine's Day! What better way to celebrate than to make some yummy chocolate chip cookies? As I promised last week, I'm sharing my recipe for chocolate chip cookies today. Ready to start baking? The recipe is at the end of this post. :)

Here's what the batter looks like when you've creamed the butter and brown sugar together.

It loosens up a bit once you've added the eggs and extract.

This is what it should look like after adding the flour and baking soda. Next comes the fun part...wait for it...

Adding the chocolate chips! Now it's time to scoop and bake and wait...

All fresh and hot out of the oven. :) Now it's time to enjoy (and share).

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. butter (use all butter if you like a crisper cookie; use 1/2 c. butter AND 1/2 c. margarine if you like a softer cookie)
2 c. dark brown sugar
2 t. vanilla (I actually use raspberry extract which complements the chocolate nicely.)
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. milk chocolate chips
NOTE: Feel free to mix and match any 2 c. of chocolate here. I've even been known to chop up, and use, leftover Easter bunnies!)

Heat oven to 350F. You'll need greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in vanilla and eggs.

Combine flour and baking soda. Beat into butter mixture.

Add chocolate chips.

Drop balls of dough onto your prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 3" between cookies (I use a portion scoop for this part because it makes for more consistently sized cookies. I would say the one I use is about 1 1/2 T.)

Bake 15-18 minutes (if you want a softer cookie, bake 15 minutes; if you want a crisp edge and chewy center, bake 18 minutes)
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Monday, February 13, 2012


This scanned kind of crooked because of all of the buttons. Sorry!

Alexa's class went to the Rochester Museum and Science Center on a field trip earlier this month. Specifically, they went to the Planetarium to simulate a Challenger Mission to Mars. Alexa was part of the medical team and had the most fun using a laser-type thermometer to take everyone's temperature. They got to wear flight suits and speak to NASA representatives via video conferencing. The large circle in the middle was the class badge. Each of the kids had to design one and then they voted on which one to use. Alexa's came in second (I haven't seen it yet, but hopefully she'll be able to bring it home soon). I'd say this qualified as a really cool field trip!

Just a quick design point...I sewed a circle border on the page, not only to frame and contain all of the elements, but I thought it was kind of like the rings you see on pictures of the solar system. I added in the buttons to mimic planets. :)

Based on a sketch by Becky Fleck.
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Tomorrow would have been my Dad's 71st birthday. What better way to celebrate it than to post a photo of me on my second birthday, right?! LOL! Actually, I couldn't think of any other birthday-related photos to post. I'm really going to celebrate by baking a batch of chocolate raspberry cookies today, his favorite. :) Oh, and I'll probably take photos and post the recipe some time next week. Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, February 9, 2012

About You @ 10

I was going through some layouts for possible submission, and I came across this one that I don't think I've shared here. I made the page because I wanted to document some of the things Alexa was currently loving, thinking, doing, etc. I printed my journaling right on the page (after doing a few test runs and tweaking it a bit). I love the look, especially on this page, because it complements the background paper which already has text on it. It's kind of like an additional design element. What do you think? Do you print on your pages? :)
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lucky to Have Each Other

I hope I'm not boring you guys, or being too depressing, by posting pages about my Mom and Dad. As hard as it is, it's therapeutic for me (and that's why I have this blog, right? LOL!)

Not only did this scan crooked because of the bulk of the embellishments, but it kind of looks a bit washed out too. I'll try to get a good photo of it when, and if, the sun comes out. :)

So here's the story behind the page...One day I walked into Alexa's class to volunteer and she handed this drawing to me. It's my Dad and she really captured his overall "look". I love how she even put dots on his head for where he was bald! Not only did Alexa do the drawing, but she did the journaling too. Back in July she sat at my computer and typed up a list of things my Dad had taught her. I thought it paired perfectly with this photo so that's why I used it.

Journaling reads: PopPop was an amazing grandpa. He helped me learn so much. He taught me all of his songs, like Luchas Fish, Bongo Tushies, and Mommy’s Table Manners song. Oh, and he swore he invented the pickle! He also taught me how to say the Motzi (blessing). He taught me how to drive the motor boat (partially). He taught me how to drive the Jetski, with Uncle Steve. He taught me how to be me. Journaling and drawing by Alexa at age 10.

Based on a sketch by Diana Fisher.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Lo Mein Salad with Peanut Sauce

(Photo courtesy of Wegmans)

I haven't done a Tasty Tuesday in a while so today is the day! :) I made this salad last week (a new recipe for us) and the three of us devoured it. It was that good! Tom prepared some pan-seared scallops to go along with it and they were the perfect accompaniment (although grilled chicken or shrimp would be super tasty too). This can be served cold or at room temperature.

16 oz. package frozen lo mein noodles
1/2 12 oz. package frozen edamame beans, thawed
12 oz. package Asian slaw
1 T. sesame seeds, toasted (or use black sesame seeds)
3/4 c. Thai peanut sauce (bottled)
1/4 c. chopped cashews

Place noodles in a microwave-safe bowl; cover. Cook on high about 3 minutes. Cool slightly.

Add remaining ingredients, tossing gently to combine.

Serve with pan-seared scallops, shrimp, or grilled chicken.
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Sterling Forest Gardens

This layout took days (Yes, I really meant to type days. LOL!) to get down on paper. For some reason, it wasn't coming together (even though I was using a sketch). I'm having a hard time scrapping older photos. I'm getting wrapped up in my emotions, knowing my parents are no longer here, knowing I can no longer ask questions about the photos, etc.

I stuck with it though, as you can see, and I'm pretty happy with the result. The cool thing was, I had an inkling of where these pictures were taken based on something my Mom wrote in my baby book circa 1966 (although these photos are from two years earlier). I did a Google search for "Sterling Forest Gardens". Not only was I able to learn about the property, but I found photos from around the same time. Some of them were even taken from the same spot where my Mom and I are standing! I thought that was pretty cool!
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Mmm...Minestrone Soup

(Photo courtesy of All You magazine)

I don't know about you, but I get bored with making the same old things for dinner, week after week. Last week I got a little wild (LOL!) and tried not just one, but three new recipes. The first one, meatballs with a Polynesian-style sauce got thumbs down from me, but Tom and Alexa liked them. What do they know? :) The second, a Lo Mein Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce was a keeper and the third, the Minestrone Soup shown above was also a keeper. It was so easy to make (in the crock pot) and was nice and hearty (the way I like my soups). We all loved it so much so I thought I'd share it here.

Minestrone Soup

2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 c. chicken broth
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/4 t. each salt and pepper
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 c. small shell pasta or macaroni (I used shells)
1 c. shredded escarole or kale (I used kale)
15.5 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Combine carrots, celery, onion and garlic in crock pot.

Pour in broth, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, stir in pasta, escarole and beans. Cover and increase heat to high. Cook until pasta is tender, about 30 minutes.

Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spotlight on Alexa :)

Today I'm going to step away from showing you my art work and showcase a painting Alexa did last week.

Having a crafty daughter brings me enjoyment on many levels. I love seeing her express her creativity, whether it be making something with Perler beads (beads you iron together after you create a design) or stringing a bracelet and even concocting some shower gel to give to a friend. We spend many hours together in the craft room and I love watching her create. She is so helpful when I'm stuck on a layout and comes up with some really clever ideas on how to use things. For the past few weeks, Alexa has been taking part in the art club at school. It's run by a local artist and I love every project she does with the kids. Last week's project (shown above) was a watercolor done using salt (to create a star-filled night sky) and painter's tape to mask off the trees, branches, and moon. Don't you just love the end result? I do!
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reach for the Stars

Do you know the kids song, Reach for the Stars? It goes something like this, "Bend and stretch, reach for the stars. Here comes Jupiter, next comes Mars." :) I don't remember the rest but you get the idea. That's what came to mind when I scrapped these pics of my first day of first grade. I'm guessing it was kind of a big deal, being the oldest of four girls to leave the nest and head off to school. My Mom always dressed us up and was always dressed to the nines herself. I can't imagine running after four girls all the time in such pretty outfits. I used to love going into her closet and trying on her "fancy" shoes. My favorite was a pair of white patent leather, high-heeled clogs. I thought those things were amazing. LOL!

Yesterday was seven years since my Mom passed away. I thought it was fitting to scrap some pictures of her. I miss her as much today as I did on the day she died...As Alexa says, "there's a hole in my heart" and I am working as hard as I can to fill it with the memories I have.
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