Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Inconsistency is the key!

Last year, I blogged EVERY DAY during the month of December while participating in Reverb 10. This year, I haven't blogged once during the month. Instead, I worked on a project similar to December Daily. I called mine Countdown To Christmas and I'll share it in an upcoming post.

Facebook is becoming more and more like a blog. I've had the new timeline since October, and I love it. But still I can't group things the way I'd like to have them. I still think, as redundant as it seems, that I want to keep a personal blog. I just need to be a little more consistent with it.

My 2012 One Little Word is Begin. Occasionally I have a hard time finishing things that I've started, but more often than not I never even begin. That's a tough pill to swallow because I've never identified as a procrastinator. Rather, I'm a perfectionist who truly believes conditions must be perfect, every detail discussed and planned, before I can begin any new project or journey. My goal in 2012 is to embody the word begin. I love the quote, "To begin, begin." It is simple yet for some, difficult. I wanted to share this bit I found on the Internet. I think it will help as a visual for my journey.

If you'd like to check out other visual aides in my journey, I've created a Pinterest pinboard for my One Little Word!

Until next time, friends!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A New Beginning

It was time. Time to gain control of our eating/cooking situation. I never have loved to cook. Fun baking is one thing. But the daily grind of dinner...meh it is just tedious and boring and I'll do anything to avoid it. I'd rather not eat than have to cook! Cereal, bagels and PBJ's for everyone!

The worst part is, my mother was amazing and cooked dinner every night, exhausted or not, having worked outside the house that day or not. I should be ashamed! LOL

But it was getting old. It had been like 4 months since I had been in a good dinner routine. I've been throwing together things at the last minute, eating out, and having lots of "fend for yourself" nights.

And there's "the question." The question I hate more than anything in the world. "What's for dinner tonight?" It almost always came from Mr. G and almost always resulted in the same thing...my face splitting open and snakes flying out. Okay, I'm joking. Mostly. To most a harmless and inane question, but to me it represents two things. 1) The fact that I'm reluctantly and resentfully in charge of feeding everyone (sorry, but it's true. It's my least favorite part of being an adult, being a wife, and being a mom)  and 2) The fact that I have failed at it, and have NO FREAKING CLUE what's for dinner.

The reason I am so reluctant to cook isn't just because I'm lazy...it's because I'm too type-A. When I think about cooking dinner, I think well before I cook, I need to go to the grocery store. And before I go to the grocery store, I need a list. And in order to make a list, I need a menu. And I'll need to clean out the fridge and do these dishes first, and UGGHHHHHHH! It just never gets done :(

Until one day about a month ago. I was doing the dishes, staring at my Daily Menu chalkboards I made almost a year ago, and I started to think, what if each day had a theme? As I started to imagine the different themes, I realized that as long as I had 5 different meals in each category, I could manage to cook each thing only once a month. And we would never have to make more than one menu, because eating something as infrequently as once a month isn't often enough to get tired of it! :) So, I whipped up a perpetually rotating 5 week menu.

Sundays are for pasta (not just 'sketti). Mondays will be vegetarian, Tuesday night Mr. G teaches so that is our 'free' night. Wednesday will be the favorite...the kids LOVE breakfast food! Thursday is Mexican night, (not just tacos). Friday is the night for the kids' favorites. Saturdays will be soups during the Fall and Winter, and salads during the Spring and Summer.


I made a clothespin to indicate which week we're on! And, I laminated the printout for durability. (pardon the cruddy pic!)

And of course, I saved the .PSD file so I can switch things up if we discover a new recipe we can't live without--I'll just put it into the rotation! 

We went to the store and did all of our major shopping for the next 5 weeks in one fell swoop, and it is SUCH an amazing feeling! We'll just go back for milk and bread and stuff....*this* I can handle. So a hip, hip, hooray for new beginnings! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Comfort Zone!

I have to share a few layouts that I recently completed...one of them totally pushed me out of my comfort zone!

I adore this layout for two reasons. 
1. I adore the girl in the layout
2. I adore the kit it was created with!

Now, that being said, that was where my comfort level ended. I used a template being offered up over at Scrap Orchard for a template challenge. It just had the tiny photo on it, the circle one. That's a beautiful way of scrapping, and the original layout was amazing, but I hate having such tiny photos! So, I modified it by adding a second photo on there that was a little large at least. It's important when you're scrapping to make things yours in that manner. It only takes a few touches to personalize your page. 

I'm working on my photography skills and I want to show off the photos when I get great ones. So I'm trending towards layouts like this one lately:

(using Elise's Pieces' Just Friends at The Digi Chick)

Now, I enjoyed creating both layouts, but my heart leaps for a large photo like that. I'm still glad I tried the first one though, because it's a good thing to get out of your comfort zone every now and then! 

Till next time, friends! :) 

Friday, November 11, 2011



In honor of today's special date, I wanted to do a page. I decided to go the route of 11 things to accomplish before 12/12/12. My supplies list:

Template is Nettio Designs' No. 8
Kit Is Bella Gypsy's' If Not Now, When? (avail tomorrow @ GottaPixel)
Zoe Pearn Color Your Own Pencil Alpha
Dani Mogstad Felty Numbers
Susan Bartolini String Flowers
Shawna Clingerman Sparkleousnessmess
Dani Mogstad Imperfect Circles
Traci Reed Bad Sewing Machine
Traci Reed Bad Sewing Machine Brackets
Lauren Grier Let's Make Resolutions
Julie Billingsley Storybook Princess
Lauren Grier & Julie Billingsley What's For Dinner
Lauren Grier Day Trippin
Lauren Grier & Manda Bean Cinemania
Julie Billingsley Santa's Bake Shop
Melissa Bennett Safari
Kristin Cronin-Barrow Oh Snap
Lauren Reid Blocked Out
Fonts are CK Jot, Little Days, 2 Peas Architect and Amelie

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boo Bash 2011

Every year, my sister and I get our kids together and throw them a Halloween party in lieu of trick-or-treating. Trick or Treating depends on the elements. It can be dangerous. It is exhausting when you have small children (and for my sister Tabatha, one nursing and one in a wheelchair)...it's just not always feasible to trick or treat. We're not opposed to Halloween or anything, but we determined 3 years ago that a well-planned party and a pinata filled with candy will be just as fun for the kids and more enjoyable for mom and dad, too! Here are the highlights of this year's Boo Bash!Photobucket

  • Naomi and Parker (Naomi's costume is a ghost but looks like Mickey Mouse in that photo! She also had a mouthful of candy in that photo :) 
  • Our Candy Corn veggie tray which everyone neglected.
  • Juice Box Mummies :)
  • A very shy "owboy"...my nephew Julian.
  • Candy Corn pudding in a trifle bowl.
  • Franken-marshmallow-pops. These turned out great and were a bit like Cake Pops: The Rematch (this time Lena wins!)


  • Naomi hitting the pinata, and NOT like a girl I might add!
  • My nephew tristan taking out all of his 7 year old agression on the poor ghost.
  • Parker ain't afraida no ghost.
  • Eventually my brother in law Tim had to dump the candy out for the kidlets because one of the kids hit it so hard that the plastic zip tie holding the ghost onto the tree broke, but the pinata itself wasn't ready to give way yet. 


  • Our boo crew
  • Ghostly brownies
  • Miss Sophie AKA the mermaid who refused to smile. (she smiled PLENTY once out of costume)
  • Parker chasing down a ghost!


  • Like vultures descending on their prey.
  • The ghost chasing the ghostbuster. Something's wrong with this picture. 
  • More ghastly treats :) 
  • Gabriel as Spiderman and Gwendolyn taking a nap in the sun. This is funny on SO many levels. We have photos of Gabriel sleeping at every family function EVER. We always say it's not a holiday unless Gabriel is asleep. Since he has special needs and can't be forced into a sleeping schedule, he sleeps when he wants to :) Since Gabriel mostly crawls everywhere, when all of our guests came in on foot and Tim sat Gabriel down and Gabriel started crawling all over, Gwen (who is REALLY laidback) arched her back and backed up. Tabatha and I were laughing so hard at the cat being afraid of the "giant baby" (He's not as big as every 8 year old, but he is pretty big). So, she obviously decided that Gabriel wasn't a giant baby trying to eat her, and decided to indulge in a nap with him.
  • Monster eyeballs. Probably the grossest thing we made, and the least eaten. Which is sad, because Mr. G worked hard on them. 


  • The coolest cowboy.
  • Monster pudding cups. Well, the best I could do. It is HARDER THAN IT LOOKS to draw on a cold plastic cup with a Sharpie.
  • This was supposed to look like a ghost. The individual balloons were filled with candy and they took turns popping the balloons. It was a lot of fun!
  • Our treat table.

Here's a quick 13 second video of one the balloons:


  • Witch hats, filled with ice cream!
  • Mummy Hershey bars
  • My nephew Bumblebee (Sometimes we call him Tristan)
  • I love her ghastly expression here. 
  • The pinata before it was sorry it ever met these children. 
It was another great Boo Bash...Thanks so much for sharing our photos with us! What do you think? Till next year, friends! :) 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's been a long time since I....

It's been a long time since I shared layouts! I used to make hundreds of layouts a year. This year I took a step back. Last Fall, I stepped down from all of my creative teams so I could take a break and focus on what was most important to me. I started scrapping more slowly, instead of cranking out pages like a scrapfactory. The length of time I took to do a page went easily from 1 hour to 2. I wanted to relax, and enjoy my hobby after FIVE straight years of creative team work. I've enjoyed it thoroughly! Well, in the past three months I've started scrapping again regularly, and I realized I'm disjointed. I scrap with goodies from Sweet Shoppe Designs, and I post those pages there. I scrap with my own designs from Gotta Pixel, and I post those pages there. I miss the days when I had one central gallery (like at DST or MSA) I don't know what my long-term solution for this is, but what I do know is I have this blog and it's about time I shared what I've been up to! Here they are, in no particular order, the last dozen  layouts I've done...and I'd love to share them in one place, regardless of where the supplies were bought! :)

So, I hope you enjoyed! If you *are* wanting to see the credit for these layouts, you can view my Gotta Pixel gallery here and my Sweet Shoppe Designs gallery here.  It has been a delight to be able to create again. It was definitely the part missing from my life...I'm coming up on my 6 year digiscrappingversary and I can't imagine life [permanently] without it! :) Till next time, friends, toodles!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Will melt your heart :)

Naomi has always said Parker's name with a hint of a Bostonian accent (for no particular reason). Everyone has always marveled at the way she pronounces his name and a bunch of other things, too. Just this week Parker started saying his own name. And he sounds just like Naomi :) Parker's nickname is Biscuit (sometimes Biscuit Butt) and I often call Naomi Sugar. Lately he has been using these nicknames more often and I think it's cute :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How To Throw An Imperfect Rainbow Birthday Party

This is the story of a mommy who loves her children very much but still doesn't believe in extravagant parties. This stems from many things...Growing up I didn't have big parties because

1. Being a military family, we didn't live near our extended family to have those types of guests every year.
2. Being a military family, I didn't have a long-lasting set of friends to invite to a big party, either. I made friends at each duty station, but you get the picture.
3. I had a Summer birthday. This is not the military's fault. I tried to imagine a way it was, but I guess it wasn't. I think my parents just had a lot to be thankful for Thanksgiving of '79 ;)

When Nathan became the age that he wanted parties, we struggled to find kids to invite. His birthday falls generally about 4 days after school begins so we don't know anyone yet. Now, as he's older, he has a base set of friends because he hasn't moved around. For Naomi and Parker, there really aren't kids to invite either, with them barely being school aged. Pretty much every party for the last 5 years has been a small gathering at home, mostly with just family, and I've liked it that way.

This year was different, though. Something about my baby girl, my little ball of sugar and spice, turning 5 just really rubbed me the wrong way. I wanted to celebrate my little princess with a fun and special shindig. So I began to research how to throw the perfect birthday party. While perusing Pinterest, I imagined Hello Kitty parties, pajama parties, Halloweeny parties (she does have an October birthday, after all.)

And then I saw *the* cake. And I knew my little taterbutt had to have a rainbow birthday party. But not just any rainbow birthday party, the Perfect Rainbow Birthday Party.


Now if you just have a minute or are just here for the pictures, here is an overview of Miss N's party:


And if you have more time, read on! =)

Let's begin by saying, it's not easy to plan a party when you have a life. I was trying to get ahead on my graphic design work so I could afford to take a few days off to prepare for the festivities. Once I did that, I realized my house was filthy from focusing on my designwork for 3 days. So I spent the next 2 days cleaning the house from top to bottom. By the time I looked at the calendar again, I had 3 days before the party and EEEEK! Not enough time!

I tried. Really, I did. I tried to do things ahead of time. But sometimes I would just get--LOOK! Something shiny!

Then I had to do the shopping. Oh, the shopping. Jo-Ann Fabrics, Party City, Ikea, Kroger, and good old Wal-Mart. It wasn't fun because it took another whole day of my party planning time just to hunt and gather my supplies. Plus, Mr. G's wallet cried the whole way home.

Then it was time. Time to put my icing where my mouth was. It was time. to bake. the super epic rainbow cake.

Right, about that. See, here's the thing about me and kitchens. I'm not that good in them. I'm told I bake/cook/balance things on my nose well. Probably is, I don't do any of that often enough and I don't enjoy doing it. In the past, I have baked cake from homemade recipes and made buttercream icing from scratch. Heck, Naomi's 4th birthday party cake had homemade buttercream on it. But this time? This time I just didn't have it in me. I didn't have the time or the fortitude. I couldn't afford to have to do the cake twice.

Enter 3 Kroger-brand boxed cake mixes and 8 tubs of Kroger-brand icing. Really, eight? And there we had the first fail. I had bought 3 tubs of vanilla, not white. So I asked James to go back and get white, and to get 5 this time because 3 didn't look like enough anyway.

Since I'm awesome at math, I ran out of eggs for the cake mix halfway through. And since I like to be as annoying as possible, that meant another trip to the store (because realizing you need a few things all at once would be too easy).

Also, I used an entire bottle of liquid food coloring on the red cake before realizing it was only going to get pink. So, I added blue and made purple, and gave up on the red until I could get back to the store and buy Wilton gel food coloring in red. The purple turned out very purpley though, that was a win!


If you're wondering why that orange cake looks like it has been mauled, it's because it has. I bought this from JoAnn Fabrics. It's a Wilton Cake Leveler. It is the neatest invention ever. Not only was it stupid cheap, but it worked awesomely and it also looks kinda scary so it assisted me in chasing small children out of the kitchen when they nosed around.

Never to fear, either! I used the shavings for my cake pops!

I wanted to only share pretty photos with you, but I wanted to document every step of this...so one day Naomi could see how much I loved creating this party for her. I'm going to be brave and share a not-so-pretty photo with you :)


That's me, bleary eyed, exhausted, sans makeup, 1 in the morning, SOOC and incredibly proud that my red layer had turned out so red.


Here were the portions of cake I leveled off each layer to create the cake pops with. Weren't they pretty?

That's where pretty ends with relation to the cake pops. I made little balls and stuck them in the fridge overnight. The next morning, they had fallen apart.

BLAST! I had forgotten to add bits of icing to the balls. And, of course by forgotten I mean didn't-think-it-was-important-enough-to-do. And of course by didn't-think-it-was-important-enough-to-do, I mean, I'm just a dork.

I didn't really get how important the icing would be. Also, I didn't want to touch the icing. Ugh. So I redid the balls using icing this time.

I tried dipping them in melted white chocolate.


I tried rolling fondant over them.


I tried dipping them in slightly heated icing.


They were just a fail all around. The chocolate just didn't work, the fondant was too heavy, and the icing was what I went with in the end.

I had bought this Wilton Cake Pops Decorating Stand. Guess what? When I stood the cake pops in them, the pop did a snail-like creep down the stick until it hit the cardboard with a fail-coated thump. Not all in unison or fast, but every time I would glance back over my shoulder another one would have bit the physics dust.

No one likes salty cake balls, so I refused to cry about it. Instead, I put them back in the fridge and pretend like they didn't exist. While I baked cookies.

Well, I had this notion they would be beautiful and wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon.


The number 5 cookie cutter I bought wasn't big enough. The icing didn't go on all pretty like in the photos, and half of my 5's looked like S's. But that's ok. They weren't going in bags without smearing the S5's either.


It was time to start putting everything together. For drinks, it would have been nice to just serve pretty things like water bottles:


and pretty punch, but I couldn't do that. I was going to be having real guests. The kind who like beverages that don't necessarily fit into pretty party themes. Soda may not be the best thing for people to drink, but it's still beloved and I wanted to offer it. I considered making soda can labels but that seemed a little too pretentious. So, I just embraced the rainbow :)


My favorite part of the party may have actually been the Jello cups.

But alas, they were not without their fails either. I tried putting cool whip in between the layers. It just didn't work. I'll spare you the details, but it just didn't work no matter what I did, so 2 layers in I asked Mr. G (again) to go back to Kroger and buy more blue and purple Jello so I could start over.

Then, I was doubling each layer and making 2 boxes at once. I did this properly until the red layer. In the red layer, I doubled the water but only put in one box of Jello. So that was weird. But whatever, because at that point I was past caring.

I meant to garnish these with cool whip and nonpareils but I forgot/ranoutoftime. Oh, well!


Let's move on to the veggie platter!

Now this? This was perfect :) I had seen plenty of ideas on how to make colorful platters, but none of them actually were shaped like a rainbow or had "clouds" so I wanted to add that touch. I'm quite proud of this because the fruit and veggie trays were some of the only truly unique ideas I had for the party...many of the other ideas I borrowed from Pinterest or various blogs.


Cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, yellow bell pepper, broccoli, and purple cauliflower (BIG PROPS to my awesome Kroger produce department for carrying purple cauliflower!) Also, I used cauliflower for the clouds.


Strawberries and raspberries, mandarin oranges, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries and grapes...plus marshmallows for clouds :) I'm also forever indebted to my good friend Julie for doing all the prep work for these platters while I was flitting about handling last-minute things!


And as for the cake pops? I decided good enough was good enough and served what I had. Parker had eaten half a dozen of them while I was out picking up the rental tables and chairs...James didn't notice it had gotten too quiet. I didn't have enough of them, they wouldn't stand up, and they didn't look like I had wanted them to look, but in the end I did the best I could, and that's all anyone can ask.


The cake, however, I was happy with. It turned out just like I had hoped it would. Sure, it was store bought cake and icing. Sure, it wasn't smoothly frosted or covered in beautiful fondant. But it looked beautiful, tasted great, and I got it all correct on the first try...which was really important to my timeline! I also thought the nonpareils at the bottom were a pretty touch :)


I don't have the best photo of our party favors, but the individual pinatas were a hit with the kids. I hot glued together snow cone cups after putting annoying whistles and candy in them, removal from Christmas card lists be damned. I thought they turned out pretty well and the kids were circling them like buzzards all afternoon. Special thanks to my hand model, Jason.

I only burned myself 2x with the hot glue gun!


I got the idea to do the hanging balloons from here. I bought purple balloons but the bag was apparently eaten my house or possibly by my car, Rosita. So no purple balloons for us! The plates, etc came from Ikea by way of our cupboards...I figured using the stuff we already had would save money and be green :) A big shout out to Bryant's Rent-All here in Lexington for the rental chairs and tables. We used them for our wedding and they were amazing, and this time they were no less amazing. They are so friendly and courteous!


As the party began, my good friend Julie played Happy Birthday on her violin for us and played an interactive Pop Goes The Weasel for Naomi...she enjoyed it very much! The photo is from my awesome cousin Charlene. I couldn't get a photo because I was videoing!

Here is Julie playing Happy Birthday for her. I realized about 5 seconds into the song that *I* should not sing or you would only hear me HAHA. And trust me, you do NOT want to hear me singing. Don't worry, I sung to her later when she was blowing out her candles!

Here is Julie and Naomi doing Pop Goes The Weasel...I love that Naomi is swaying to the music :)

Another photo from my cousin Charlene: The kids playing a rousing game of balloon volleyball with Mr. G :)


Of course, everyone's favorite part of the party is blowing out the candles and cutting the cake!


I was excited to see the inside of the cake for the first time and enjoy all the hard work in creating it:


And for no other reason than the fact that everyone loves a baby in a party dress:


Miss Sophie Pie, 5 months :)

And everyone loves a photo booth! Of course, the remote control I had bought so that the kids could photograph themselves, didn't work. I think it needs a new battery or a smart person operating it. So we used the self-timer instead.

Here are the printables I used:

Photobooth : Just Be Silly



Photobooth : Say What


The reason all the kids were looking to the side, or trying to, at least, is there is a mirror there LOL!


Caron and Rakim


Cousin Tristan


Diane and Naomi




Riley and Tyler


Cousin Julian--What is this?

Naomi opened through her presents, and the kids demolished their pinatas and then the rest of the party was a blur of sugared-up hyperactivity and a cacophony of 25 cent whistles.

My awesome cousin Charlene, who was exhausted from photographing a wedding the day before, suggested we go ahead and clean up, which was brilliant. (I really just wanted to collapse and deal with it the next day). So, we cleaned up and I visited with Tabatha...and then?




We let loose :) These particular photos are blurry but that's okay because I love them anyway. Tabatha and I had been needing to take a new promo photo for our design business (we did get a "good" one by the way, one where we don't have mustaches and aren't moving/pretending to eat each other's ears/blurry) but before she left we had to have our fun. The imperfect photos capped off an imperfect party but it was the perfect day for my princess and her friends and family.

I need to thank my sister Tabatha, my dear friend Jaime, my friend Julie, my cousin Charlene and my wonderful husband Mr. G. Each of them helped me make Naomi's party special and I couldn't have done it without them.

Here is my sugar five years ago today:


And here she is today:




She is sassy and sweet...she is so smart and absorbs everything like a sponge. She is loving and fiercely protective of her brother, unless she is the one doing the pummeling. She is funny and beautiful and just one of the most perfect things that ever happened to me. Thanks for sharing her birthday party with us!