Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Fab 5!

I was so excited to see that I was picked by the people over at Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog as one of their Fabulous 5 for July for my videos.  If you're interested, you can head over there and check out the others that were included.  Here's the link:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tomato Salad: My Summer Obsession

I never know exactly what I'm going to come out with when I start  cooking.  Every recipe is a little bit different every time.  I love complex flavors, and I'm always tweaking my recipes to make them a little more interesting.  Sometimes, though, I don't even have an end point in mind.  I know enough about food to make sure that it's always edible, but sometimes it's better than others.

During LOAD513, I made this digital layout about just how crazy this habit of mine makes my husband because I don't have a name for everything that I make.

When I started making a tomato salad to go with dinner a few days ago, little did I know that it would be the my favorite culinary accident since the time I accidentally cooked Ramen Noodles until they were crispy (which was a fabulous discovery by the way).

I started cutting the tomatoes into ~1in chunks, and we had a bowl of perfectly ripe nectarines that was sitting nearby.  The smell of the fruit was intoxicating.  I knew they needed to be eaten before they went bad, so I started cutting them up too (not intending them to have anything to do with the tomatoess).  Next, onions went on the stove to get good caramelization going.  At this point, I thought we were going to have tilapia fillets with pasta (the onions were supposed to go on the pasta with some olive oil); the tomatoes and nectarines were going to just be side dishes.  But...It was such a hot day...I just didn't feel like eating pasta, so the caramelized onions went into the bowl with the tomatoes, but then that needed some acid.  I started digging through the pantry and found a peach infused white balsamic vinegar (but any balsamic vinegar would do), and in went some of that.  That smelled so much like the nectarines, that I decided they should go in too.  It was good at this point, but I decided to keep going: add basil, tarragon, a little salt and pepper.  Again, I could have stopped, but I didn't.  At this point what I was seeing in the bowl reminded me a lot of a tomato, shrimp, crouton salad that I make from time to time, so I figured I needed croutons, but I didn't have any. I did, however, have a boxed stuffing mix.  I threw in a handful and served up the salad with the tilapia fillet on top. 

It was was UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE.  I would show you a picture...but it was just so good I couldn't stop eating to pick up the camera.  I haven't had nectarines in the house since then, but I've had this salad again without them 3 times in the last week.  It's so yummy!

I'll understand if this doesn't exactly sound great to you, but you've got to try'll change your life!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hello Morocco

I've been continuing to work with Friday, I'm In Love, my July Counterfeit Kit.  I have adopted a modified version of Stacy Julian's Library of Memories system, so I keep pictures that I want to scrap in a pocketed album, so they can be viewed until I get around to scrapping them.  Since I didn't have any pictures in mind when I created Friday, I'm in Love, I went to the photo album and picked the first photo that spoke to me.

I was completing the first challenge for July, which was to take inspiration from one of their design team members.  I saw this post from Lesley at Oh Blog It (if you can't beat them), in which she discussed having some difficulty finding ways to use clothes pins in her scrapbooking.  I decided to take that up as a challenge.

I made this page, and I'm pretty happy with it.

You can see the video of the process of making the Hello Morocco page below.  I hope you enjoy it, my sister got busy again, so I had to edit it myself! Yikes!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Quilt As You Go

I have a tendency to jump into learning new crafts with both feet.  I read enough instructions to get the idea of where I'm going, and then I just go.  Sometimes this is a great strategy, and others...not so much.  When I decided, while I was pregnant for the first time that I needed to make a baby blanket for my child, let's just say that it wasn't the most patient time of my life.  I'm not going to say that the project was a complete disaster.  It's a functional blanket.  It actually feels pretty nice, and if you just sort of glance at the top side, it even looks kind of cute.  The back shows reality.  I was too impatient to hand quilt.  I couldn't figure out for myself how to get all the layers to stay flat and the stitching is so haphazard, it's laughable.  I didn't even finish quilting the whole thing.  I quilted enough to make it stable for the wash and called it a day.  I was so embarrassed that I wasn't even going to give it to her until she discovered it on a cold day and decided that she loved it.  Now it can be found at various times in nearly every room of the house just mocking me.
If I had only had any idea what I was doing when I started, I might have stumbled upon this quilt as you go business earlier.  It is a fabulous idea!  Maybe Michaela will get her on quilt after all!  I found this tutorial on YouTube, and I'm bursting to try it out.  Wish me luck!

Friday, July 19, 2013

An ideal husband

I know this isn't a great picture, but it doesn't have to be, what it represents is beautiful enough. My girls and I were away for a couple days at the beach, and when we came home, my little girl's very first bicycle was in our dining room waiting for her.  This note from my husband was in the bag attached to it's handlebars. It says:
Dear Lilah, We hope you love to ride the bike and have great adventures on it.  Oh the places you will go! I cannot believe you are old enough to have your first bike.  I still remember taking you to the store with me a day after you were born!  Mommy and I love you very much and hope you have fun with your Clubhouse Bike! Love, Daddy
Whenever he does something like this (which is pretty often), it never fails to bring tears to my eyes.  This is why I married him.  I could see from the beginning that he would be an amazing father.  I'm so proud to be the mother of his kids!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A day at the beach

Nearly my whole family has been in Maryland for 3 summers now, and we're still working on making this place home.  There are so many great things that we love about being in the Mid-Atlantic Region that we couldn't have done when we lived in California, Missouri, Nevada, or Florida, but there are some things about living in those places that we really miss being part of our lives.  When we lived in Missouri, we had all sorts of places that we went camping and hiking or floating down the river at a moment's notice.  In California and Florida, we could be at the beach within an hour or two of deciding to go.  Going to the beach  is a much bigger undertaking here.   All the beaches are several hours drive away, and with all of these small children, it's not really a day trip.  

We tried the beach at Ocean City, MD, and it was okay but during the summer months it's hard to find places that will allow our dogs.  The beaches in Rohoboth, DE allow the dogs, but they didn't have much else to do.  Last week, my mother decided that we should try Atlantic City. We started with a mid-week trip, so Alfred stayed home with the pups.  I'll have to check into whether there are places we can bring our puppies with us, but on every other count Atlantic City was much more our speed than any of the other beaches we've been to out here. 

We stayed a few miles from the beach to save a little money, but I don't think we would do that again with all the kids.  It's important when you travel with children to be able to go back to your room whenever they need down time or a nap or a bath.  If there's one thing that I've learned since I've had kids, it's that I don't have it in me to load them into the car for more than one trip from home a day.  Thus, once we went back to the hotel with the kids, they weren't leaving again until the next day.

I think that we will be going back to Atlantic City because compared to the other beach towns we've been to here, it was much less expensive.  The beach was clean and had a nice boardwalk with lots of restaurants and shops.  When the kids are a little bigger, I'm sure it will be lots of fun to take them to the Atlantic City beach because they have a great little amusement park on a pier right next to the beach. 

The girls had a great time on the beach.  We rolled a beach ball around to warm up (if you're used to water in Florida, the ocean in Atlantic City will seem downright frigid) before trying to run into the water.  The kids are still pretty little, so all of them are in life jackets whenever we are anywhere near the water.  I think they look super adorable...if a little uncomfortable

I'm still terrified of Michaela getting a sun burn, so she stayed with my dad on the beach blanket under the umbrellas, being smothered in layers of sunblock.

After all the girls were done with the water, we all made sand castles (yes they had to keep the life jackets on, these girls have the tendency to bolt)!

It was fabulous to have a bit of fun time with the family!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Process Video

  I have been wanting to do video for a long time.  When I upgraded my Photoshop Elements to version 9 a couple of years ago, I got the bundle with Premier Elements as well.  I figured that I would want to edit all sorts of video of my little girl (I was pregnant at the time with my first daughter).  I found that the whole thing was just too intimidating for me to even begin, and now, 3 years later, I have still barely even opened Premier Elements.  When I upgraded to Elements 11, I didn't even bother with the bundle.
  Then, my sister purchased a (gasp!) Mac Book.  They always say that video is super easy to do with a Mac, and when she got hers, she immediately fell into it.  She's been really busy lately, so we haven't spent as much time together as I would have liked, so when she said that she was interested in doing a process video, I pounced.  I know that scrapbooking process videos weren't what she had in mind, but I'm pretty comfortable with my paper, and I thought it would be a great addition to the blog.  Plus, it would motivate my uber busy sister to make spending some time with me a priority (enter evil, maniacal laughter here).
  We were going to start with her just teaching me how to do the editing of family videos from the 4th of July on her Mac, but I quickly became frustrated with the Mac interface, and I told her that if she was happy doing all the work of editing, then I was happy to turn it all over to her (enter more maniacal laughter).  So, instead of doing all the editing together she decided that we should just video my process.  I was not ready at all, but you grab moments with younger sisters wherever you find them, so I snatched the July counterfeit kit I'd made and just started winging it.
  Can I just say that I'm so glad for my sister because I would have thrown in the towel as soon as I realized that when the camera stopped rolling, I had about 3 times more video than I thought anyone would want to see.  Thanks to her enthusiasm, I kept going, and I'm completely floored at the result.  (To be quite honest, I was floored way before we got to this point.  Video editing was way more involved than I thought it was going to be.)  What do you think?

Not a bad first try, huh?  Thank you so much, Alyssa.  You Rock!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

They were good boys daddy

You always hear that kids say the darndest things, but until you have a little one chattering in the house you really have no idea.  I love my Alfred, but he has...shall we say colorful?...language.  He's always saying things that leaving me wishing that the children in my life weren't quite so observant. A recent occurrence comes to mind.  We have two Boston terriers, they can be very sweet, but we haven't been the strictest of doggie parents, so they were a little (read: a LOT) on the misbehaved side.  I say "were" because we finally admitted that we needed help and sent them over to Annemarie at, and they're doing a whole lot better now.  But before Annemarie stepped in and improved our lives, you would often hear Alfred saying, "Herkie, if you don't stop barking, I'm going to send you to a Chinese restaurant."  He was being facetious of course, we (read: I) love Chinese food, and we eat it several times a month.  I love Chinese food so much that, I even learned to make Char Siu Bao, sesame balls, and sweet sticky rice with Chinese sausage when we moved too far from my favorite dim sum restaurant to go there every week, and we do not for a minute believe that we are eating dog.  However, when faced with a dog with an incredibly obnoxious barking problem, you get frustrated.  You say things you don't mean, and, apparently, that particular phrase was uttered in the presence of my twin nieces one too many times.  My sister and my mother share my love of that particular cuisine, and when they tried a new restaurant with the girls in tow, how could they know it was a mistake to tell them it was Chinese.  Well, that's not completely true, there was one event that could have been read as foreshadowing the unfortunate episode at the restaurant.  Jordan was playing with a stuffed toy dog, and Alyssa became concerned with it appeared that her darling daughter was pretending to saw the dog in half.  When she asked the girl what she was doing, the immediate response was, "I'm making Chinese food!"  Perhaps she should have known then that their next encounter with General Tso would not be a pleasant one.  Unfortunately for my sister, she didn't think about that stuffed dog before she brought the girls into the restaurant. The cook didn't stand a chance.  They wouldn't take a bite of anything, exclaiming, "That's disgusting!"  My poor embarrassed mother and sister retreated with their food in to go boxes.

Lilah helped to get Alfred back, though.  Like any red-blooded Cuban father, Alfred sees himself as a fierce defender of our girls, especially from boys.  So, you can imagine his discomfort when he picked up Lilah from my parent's house after a day spent with my father and sister.  Like a good daddy, he asked her what she did during the day.  Apparently, the day wasn't interesting enough, so she made up a whole list of activities that they had done.  "We went to the gym, and I played with toys, and I played with my friends." 
Naturally, Alfred asked her, "Who are your friends, honey?"  Lilah didn't miss a beat before saying, "Boys!"  Seeing Alfred's face, she said, "Don't worry Daddy, they were good boys."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July Counterfeit Kit

This is my second month of doing a Counterfeit Kit and I love the idea.  I don't know why it took me so long to do one, making page kits is already part of my process, so having a picture to use as inspiration really just makes things easier for me.

The challenge kit for July over at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge is called the Summer Fun Kit from Scrapbook and Cards Today.

What immediately jumped out at me from the kit were the reds and yellows. Here's my version:

  I started out going through my papers trying to find those colors and then looked for those bold patterns, especially the stripes and chevrons. I decided to throw in the crepe paper from the Dear Lizzy Neapolitan collection pack that I bought to use for LOAD513.  It's funny, that paper was one of the reasons that I bought the kit in the first place, but I just haven't been able to get myself to use it.  It just seems too precious somehow.  I have, however, copied the look with rolls of crepe paper left over from parties, and I really love it. The last thing I looked for were the embellishments.  I love my enamel dots, and I got a pack of 50 of those mini clothes pins at Walmart for $2, so I've been using them on everything.  I've had the black punch out letters for years and years (I got a pack of 100 punch out letter sheets at Ross shortly after I started scrapbooking, and I don't know if I'll ever get through them all.)  I love all the flair buttons that people have been using, but these are the first ones I've actually bought.  I like how they compliment all the rest of the items in the kit.   Finally, I threw in some wood veneer, stamps, and washi tape just for good measure.  I love that Basic Grey days of the week stamp set, and I use it all the time, but it's going to take a little bit of doing to get myself to use the brackets.  I like them, but I'm just not sure how to incorporate them into a page.  These were two of the first rolls of washi that I had in my collection, and I drastically over estimated how useful they would be in my scrapbooking, I'm hoping I can find a place for them in the pages I make with this kit.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My little Piano Baby

I'd never heard of a piano baby until my mother brought it up to me the other day.  She said she'd decided that Michaela looks like one of these.    I'm not sure I see the resemblance, but I thought it was an interesting little bit of history.  Apparently, people used to put these little dolls on top of pianos as a decoration, perhaps they imagined the babies cooing playfully along with the music?  I don't know.  They're a little creepy if you ask me, but then sometimes my Michaela is so darned cute that I can imagine using her as a model for a decorative object...or at least the focus of a scrapbook page.

Can I even begin to describe how much that I love these photographs, especially the one on the right.  That's my girl's "gotta love me" face.  Here's a link for those of you who don't remember Dinosaurs and didn't get the reference.  Miss Michaela is the demanding type, and I firmly believe that this type of face evolved for the survival of babies like her.  Hahaha, joking aside, she's always cute, but sometimes a moment like this happens and she transforms into a ball of adorableness that demands that you scoop her up and give her little Eskimo kisses and blow raspberries on her tummy. 
Not every picture of the little girl is magic, like this one of the first set of pigtails she ever had.
But there's just something about catching her in one of her cute moments that just stops you in your tracks.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lovely Girl

One of my goals for LayOut A Day (LOAD513) was to take better pictures. It always helps to have a lovely subject.  My girl is two. You always hear about the "terrible twos," but I just don't see it. Does she have a bit of a tantrum every once in a while? Of course.  She's two.  The funny thing is, that she doesn't want to have the tantrums.  You can tell that she's just lost control, and she needs a chance to recompose herself.  We've worked out a deal.  When she needs to have a good fit or she's just lost control, she takes herself to the couch in the living room.  That way I don't feel stressed because she's clinging to me, and she as a chance to calm down with out me fussing at her.  I love how colorful this layout is.  It captures my little girl so well.
 I made this background ages ago, but I didn't have the right picture to go with it until this month.  We took this picture at a lunch with my classmates before graduation.  I used it to tell a story about how we've called her by her nickname so much that she didn't know her middle name wasn't just Belle.  I'll never forget her looking at me like I was completely stupid and saying, "Yes...Lilah...IS a bell."
 I thought it would be fun to compare a couple of candids of my girl taken a year apart.  It's amazing to see all the ways that she's changing, but it's also great to see the things that are staying the same.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My first design team application.

I know I'm probably a little late on the band wagon, but I've never been part of a design team before.  I like the idea of being part of a team and having a place to be part of an online community.

That being said, I just haven't been able to get up my nerve to apply at an established site.  Enter the Use Your Words Challenge Blog.  They're a brand new site, so there isn't the intimidation factor of breaking into an established group of people (nobody wants to be the "new kid").  Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

June Counterfeit Kit

The Counterfeit Kit Challenge has been an intriguing idea to me for a few months now.  The basic idea is that every month they post a picture of a kit that is on sale from a kit club, and you go into your stash with that kit in mind to counterfeit it.  I like this idea because I collect supplies more than I think that I should, so it's a priority for me to use the things that I've collected. I also like this idea because to my mind it's a lot like a journaling prompt.  I work well with prompts because I don't take them too literally, and I let my mind go where it wishes from there.  Likewise, the photos of the beautiful kits bring certain supplies to mind, and I can build a kit up from those bones.
June was the first month that I attempted the challenge.  They had several kits to choose from, so I picked one that had colors I have a tendency to collect. Since I love these colors anyway, I naturally love the kit. What I really loved about the kit were the painted transparencies that I used to counterfeit the Heidi Swap acrylic letters with the help of my Silhouette.  I know I've said it before, but I love that machine.  I also used staz on ink to make my own black striped transparencies.  I have a whole box of these transparancies that I got from a friend who was planning to throw them away, I find myself including them more and more with my scrapbooking.

We spent a few days in Orlando with my sister-in-law during June, so I had several adorable photos to scrap.  I put the kit to use right away.  From these supplies I made 5 layouts and a father's day mini book for Alfred. I don't have the mini book since it's sitting on Daddy's desk at work, but here are the layouts from the kit (I didn't even use half of it).  I'm contemplating whether I'll keep the kit in a project envelope and keep working with it or if I'll break it apart and put it with the rest of my stash.

I love living in the nice ocean colors of my house, but being in Crystal's apartment reminded me yet again how much that it affects my pictures.  It was nice not to have to open up the raw files and turn up the temperature and exposure like I have to at home.
 While we were at Crystal's house, we had to see Lilah's friends.  After another surgery, I wasn't up for a day at Magic Kingdom, but I figured I could handle a character breakfast and a walk through Downtown Disney.
 Perhaps the Downtown Disney part of the plan wasn't my best idea ever.  We got some cute pictures, but by the time we got back to the apartment, we were completely exhausted.  What can I say? Overdoing it is a bit of a character flaw for me.
 We just wandered around a while in Downtown Disney, but I definitely think that I'd like to check out Disney Quest.  I've been to Disney World several times since it was built, but I've never had the time or inclination to put that on the agenda.  After a couple hours in June heat in Orlando, an indoor attraction was starting to look like a pretty good idea.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More LOAD layouts

I know that it's been more than a month now since I finished Layout a Day (LOAD), but I haven't had a chance to get all the LOAD layouts up yet.  June was super busy around here and involved a surgery, a road trip, a hospitalization, and a family-wide influenza outbreak.  Let me tell you, it's not fun to have two people in the house sick to their stomachs who can't tell when they're about to throw up.  I'll just say that our washing machine has been in overdrive, though, as ever, I find it impossible to keep ahead of all the folding.  Why is it so hard to get the laundry put away?  I don't know, but I suspect it has something to do with the two flights of stairs between the laundry room and the dressers.  Our next house is so going to have laundry on the same floor as the bedrooms.  I know it's a bit of a risk having your washer and dryer upstairs, but the convenience has to be worth the risk.  I have much respect for all of the people out there who can be stay at home parents and be on top of all of the chores.  I don't know how you do it.  I know I haven't been at 100% lately, but the state of the house is a little ridiculous. It seems like as soon as I finish one task, three more pop up to take its place.

That being said, I know I'm behind on sharing the crafts that I've been doing.  I'm pretty excited to share all the things I've been getting done while I'm sick (As an aside, did you know that sitting up with craft supplies at the dining room table is a great way to keep a sick toddler from curling up on your nauseated stomach?), but I'm determined that I'm sharing these things in chronological order, lest I skip over some of the them out of  sheer laziness.  So back to LOAD513.

The best thing about finally completing a LOAD was that the prompts brought to mind all sorts of things that I hadn't thought to record before.  I always make sure to put journaling on the layouts that I make, but so many of the prompts during the month brought up stories that didn't need pictures at all.  I wrote and wrote and wrote all month long.  These are those picture-less layouts.

I set out at the beginning of the month to reflect on my time in school,  so that was heavy in my mind.  I journaled about all the things that had gone according to plan and those plans that had gone by the wayside.  I've often talked about how important it was to me that my girls know the real me, but this was one story I hadn't thought to write down for them. It was also fun to use some of the feather cut files I've collected.

 One of the things that came out of LOAD was a new project that I'm going to start working on.  My thought right now is that these pages will be interspersed throughout my other albums.  They'll be the stories from my life that I find myself telling over and over again when I find myself in serious conversations with people and it becomes important to explain the experiences in my life that lead me to an uncommon point of view.  They'll all have the same title "How did you become who you are?" I don't know if I'll ever pull them out to be their own album, but somehow I doubt it because a lot of those stories are difficult memories, and I can't imagine wanting to read an album that was page after page of those stories without anything lighter to break it up.  This isn't the most important of those stories, but it was the one that the prompt brought up.
This was a silly little story about being jealous of celebrities.  Not a terribly important story, but I think it gives a glimpse into how my mind works.
This layout was a little story about my grandfather.  I hadn't thought about it in years, but, again Lain brought it to mind.
 Another story about what I learned in graduate school that had nothing to do with genetics.
 When the prompt was "what" (as in who, WHAT, when, where, and why). I was reminded about this story about how much I hate being asked what's for dinner.  I know it has a picture, but there's also a ton of journaling, and I love how it gives a little glimpse into our relationship, and that no matter how irritated I may look sometimes nothing can undercut how much I love this guy.