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Merry Christmas & Photo Book Sharing

Well, I'm not sure what happened to the last week... between Christmas and spending time with the family and sleeping (which I've done a LOT of), time has just zipped right past! I brought everything with me so I could blog from home, but it never seemed to happen. But now that I'm starting to catch up on my sleep and get out of bed before noon, I'm getting back into the swing of things again.

First, my two big projects that I was super worried about finishing and getting shipped in time for Christmas. I made two photobooks - one for my SIL Erin, and one for my sister Nicole. For Erin, I made a book from June - November 2011 showcasing their family. It's not chronological, but it's all about special moments.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

I did that one using a style by Paislee Press - I'd never done that before and it was really cool!

The second book for Nicole was all digital scrapbook pages that I uploaded as images and made into a book. It's Aubrey's first year. I got to laughing so hard over some of these photos that I was nearly in tears - Aubrey makes some very funny faces and is a very funny little girl.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly photo books offer a wide range of artful designs and embellishments to choose from.

When I get a chance, I'll post some of the images of my favorite spreads. This one took a while, but it was a lot of fun. Both albums were 8x8. I'm not sure if I'll continue to make them, but I'm glad I got to do these this year - they both loved their albums.

As you can see, I also decided not to bring the stuff with me to do my December Daily at home. Probably wise, and not just because my suitcase couldn't hold anymore. I've just been too tired and/or busy while I've been here, but I've been taking lots of pictures and gathering bits of memorabilia and getting everything organized to put together when I get home, so I'll finish the album when I get back and post the pictures then.

Hopefully I'll have a few minutes to start going through my photos and posting just a bit from Christmas. I've got some cute ones of the kids.

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a lovely holiday!

December Daily: Day 20

It's getting so close! I'm super excited. And even more so, because today I found out that the one package I was super worried wasn't going to be delivered in time is scheduled to come tomorrow. That's such a huge load off! And, since it was another pretty non-eventful day holiday wise, I used that as my "surprise" for Shimelle's prompt. A happy surprise :)

December Daily Day 20 a edited

Of course, I described the gift in detail so I had to blur some more, of course.

December Daily Day 20 b

I've been taking all of my Prima flowers out of their packages and sorting by color, which is how I found my Christmas ones. So I had to use them! (And note to self. Soooo many flowers. I never need to buy another scrapbook supply ever again. Ever.)

December Daily Day 20 c edited

I'm attempting to upload some pictures of Peru to Costco to see if I can print them before I head home... but their photo selector is so slow! And I'm tired. I might have to give up for now... we'll see.

December Daily: Day 19 - Letter to Santa

Today, there wasn't much holiday related that went on... work, traffic from an accident on the way home, and a hockey game (which Colorado actually won!). I also managed to finish the first 8 chapters of the Steve Jobs autobiography before our team meeting tomorrow morning - we're reading it for work. It's pretty interesting!

Anyway, given that it was a pretty unremarkable day, I just did Shimelle's prompt for a letter to Santa - from me!

December Daily Day 19 a

The background is a digital element that I printed and then adhered the envelope on top. I used the same image repeated at 20% transparency on the letter itself to jazz it up a bit.

December Daily Day 19 b edited

I really liked this prompt... it was good for me to do, especially since my wish list doesn't have anything to do with toys... not even for my kitchen or scrap room!

December Daily Day 19 c

Part of our artistic challenge for this prompt was to us an image of Santa, so I pulled out some old Creative Imaginations rubons for the outside of the envelope.

I really liked having a non-extraordinary day. I look forward to another one tomorrow :) The countdown is on in earnest now!

December Daily: Day 17

Whew... all caught up! I haven't decided if I'm going to take the stuff to keep up while I'm at home, but hopefully I can keep up until I leave.

December Daily Day 17 a

Today was busy, but fun. I got to sleep in! I needed it... too many late nights and I get sick so I needed to catch up a bit on sleep. I got up at 11 and did some cardio (much needed after last night's dinner) and then went over to the church to do a rehearsal for the duet I'm singing in Sacrament meeting tomorrow. We're doing "What Child is This?" and I think it's going to be beautiful... as long as I still have a voice in the morning! I'm up too late again, but hopefully I can make up for it. I can't sleep too late since I just found out I'm teaching Sunday School, but I think I'll have time.

December Daily Day 17 b

After rehearsal, I braved Costco. I parked on the street right away rather than trying to go into the parking lot, and I was able to walk right in, pick up my photos and even grab a churro and still get back out in about 5 minutes. Sweet! More errands and picking up around the house - the stuff that all gets behind during a busy week.

December Daily Day 17 c

And fun mail today... a super cute Christmas card from Francesca and Gianluca. And I LOVE the stickers Francesca! They're so cute.

This evening, Melody dropped off the kids so she and Vic could do a family thing. For me, it was the perfect excuse to make little gingerbread houses from my Christmas Village Nordicware pan without then having lots of little cakes sitting around begging to be eaten. I whipped up the batter and baked them while the kids watched Tangled, then we cleared off the coffee table and got to work with decorating.

December Daily Day 17 d

We had a lot of fun. Samuel just jumped up and down and squealed with delight, mumbling what he wanted me to help him with on his house. Angelina was serious, working on getting it just right, and Logan was intent on getting as much candy as humanly possible onto his little cake house. In the end, we had great houses and they were all proud... worried about having them left behind when their parents came to pick them up. Mostly though, Logan just wanted to eat his. He figured I had my camera out and mom and dad could just see pictures of the house rather than seeing it in person. lol.

And after they left? I got all caught up on my December journal. Whew.

And for you Melody... some pictures of the evening for you to save for your journal :)











k... that's it for now. Until tomorrow!

December Daily: Day 16

Yesterday was quite a busy day! It started with a completely beautiful morning. As I drove out to the highway, all of the trees, grass and bushes were covered with frost - it's that frost that you don't see too often... where it looks like everything is made of snow and ice and it just sparkles. It was like that the day our family drove from Munich out to the Bavarian castles the year we were in Germany for Christmas... maybe that's why it seems special to me. I took a quick photo with my phone as I drove out of my neighborhood.

Blog - Frosty Morning

And today's entry...

December Daily Day 16 a

It was our department Christmas party at work. I went in and had a meeting, did my morning reporting, and then we had brunch and played games. We had a few rounds of fiercely competitive dodgeball in the gym and then we each got a Visa gift card and the afternoon off. Yay!

December Daily Day 16 b

I stopped at the American Crafts Warehouse sale on the way home (I had a $5 off email coupon... can't pass that up, right?) and picked up a few things - even the new Chap collection of paper for just $4. Sweet! Then at home, I worked on some smaller Christmas projects that I wanted to do if I had time. Check that off the list! Woot!

December Daily Day 16 c

Then, my cheesecake and I got dressed up and went over to Darren and Mindy's house for our Peanut Gallery Christmas party. Laura, Brent Roper, Brent and Sherilyn, Chad, Courtney and Sean came and we had an absolutely delicious potluck dinner. Darren made his famous and delectable beer steak, we had baked potatoes and salads, fruit, dips and crackers, veggies and dessert. In addition to my cheesecake, Chad made a really yummy pumpkin pudding.

December Daily Day 16 d

We just hung out around the table, talking and laughing and eating. After a while, we headed down to the basement where we did our gift exchange. It was white elephant style, but we did nice gifts. We had a lot of fun - talked and laughed a lot more. It was lots of fun to see Roper - he's been deployed for the last 6 months and we've missed him! We're going to try and get together again after the new year before he has to move his family to Japan. (Good excuse to go to Japan, though... right?)

Today's prompt from Shimelle was about gratitude, and this was a perfect day to talk about that along with the events of the day. I'm grateful for a good job with great people. For hobbies and leisure time and the opportunity and ability to do them. I'm grateful for having plenty to eat and for good friends. As BC said last night, this (all of us and the fun and friendships) was totally worth forty-two thousand dollars. (We'll see if we still think that when loans start to come due in February. Yikes!) It was a great evening and we had a blast.

Here are a few more shots. Some of the gang along with our yummy spread of food...

Blog - PG Party 1

And then a few photos I managed to get of a hilarious little episode where Brent discovered the aerosol whipping cream I brought for the cheesecake and Chad decided to help him in his endeavors.

Blog - PG Party 2

Blog - PG Party 3

Blog - PG Party 4

Blog - PG Party 5

A few pictures from the gift exchange...

Blog - PG Party 6

(the Orabrush was pretty funny... we did a case study on them and the CEO came to speak to our class. Pretty funny YouTube videos, plus their product really works! This was a hot commodity.)

Blog - PG Party 7

Blog - PG Party 8
I think this is the only shot I got of Sean since he decided to take our group shots for us.

Blog - PG Party 9

And from here on out? Nothing but funny faces. Typical. :)

Blog - PG Party 10

It was a fabulous night. Love these guys!

December Daily: Days 13-15

I knew this was going to be a crazy week, but it was even busier than I had planned on. Things are now starting to wind down a bit... a few more things to do tomorrow and then I'm on the downward slope up until I head home for Christmas. I'm not quite counting the minutes, but it's definitely one of those "exactly 1 week from today I'll be on a plane home" kind of times. I said that more than once this last week!

So, here's the beginning of my catch-up posting for my December Daily.

Day 13:

December Daily Day 13 a

I don't get tons of Christmas cards, but the ones I do get are usually from close friends or family, so I like to stick them into my book. I also did a little page on the left about my new tradition here in Utah - the American Crafts warehouse sale! I've stopped in a few times... they have amazing deals and this last week I even picked up some of their brand new goodies. It's so fun... restraining myself is definitely a challenge.

December Daily Day 13 b

Tuesday morning was also a snow day - it wasn't a lot, but it was enough that I hung out working online at home a bit until it cleared up before heading down to Provo. We haven't had a lot of snow this year (knock on wood) so it was kind of a noteworthy event :)

December Daily Day 13 c

And finally for Tuesday, Shimelle's prompt was about Christmas music. Since I listen to it pretty much non-stop during the season, this was fun to write about. I included the album covers from my favorite Christmas albums.

December Daily Day 13 d

Day 14:

December Daily Day 14 a

Wednesday was the day that I gave myself permission to let some things go. I realized that I wasn't doing a very good job of reducing stress and enjoying the holiday more. I was overcommitting, and it was all things I was asking myself to do - no one would know if I didn't do a few things. I was sitting at the stoplight on the way home and saw the lights in the big trees at the police station on the corner, and it was just beautiful and relaxing. I felt the Christmas spirit just rushing back in, so I pulled out my phone and took a quick picture before the light changed.

December Daily Day 14 journaling

The funny thing? Almost everything has still gotten done this week! It's just been a bit less stressful. Of course, all of this was after a very late night on Tuesday when I wouldn't let myself go to bed until I finished the last of my big, must-do projects. Next year I need to either plan better or be less ambitious, but at least it's done. Yay!

And Thursday, Day 15...

December Daily Day 15 a

I wrote about Shimelle's prompt for the day - my itinerary for the month and who I'll be seeing for the holidays, as well as a little about our team Christmas party at my boss' house, which was really fun. I'd never played Bunko before, but it was a blast - especially with 18 of us!

December Daily Day 15 b

And on the left, I added a bit about my first ever homemade cheesecake. I had absolutely set my heart on making a peppermint bark cheesecake, a la Cheesecake Factory. So I found this recipe - a riff on Dorie Greenspan's cheesecake. But, I realized it took forever to make and cool / chill so I had to make it Thursday night for the party on Friday. But I didn't get home from my boss' house until about 10:30pm.

December Daily Day 15 c

So, I resigned myself to a late night, knowing we were getting a half day at work after our department party on Friday. But then, I realized I didn't have a roasting pan big enough to do a water bath for my springform pan I was baking the cheesecake in. So, at 11pm I threw a coat over my PJs and put on my boots and headed down to Harmon's to get a disposable roasting pan. But, it worked! And my first ever cheesecake came out almost perfect. I worked up in the attic while it baked and the scent of peppermint floating through the house was just divine. I wish it still smelled that good... waking up to it on Friday was lovely. On Friday evening, I topped it with a thin layer of hot fudge, peppermint whipping cream, sprinkles and my homemade peppermint bark. Mmm.

Blog - Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

And the best part? After the party last night... I have leftovers :)

December Daily: Day 12 - the baking begins!

Yup, tonight was the beginning of my Christmas baking and cooking. I usually start earlier, but it's probably for the best... less time for me to eat treats. lol.

December Daily Day 12 b
At this time of year, I love peppermint and gingerbread. Tonight, I started with peppermint... I made the peppermint bark that's for munching, but which will also go on the peppermint bark cheesecake I'm making for our Peanut Gallery Christmas party this weekend. While I was at it, I also dipped some pretzel sticks. But not only are they dipped in chocolate, but they've got a caramel coating under the peppermint white chocolate dip. Then I added crushed starlight mints on top. I haven't tried one yet, but I hope they're as good as they look!

Blog - Caramel Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Sticks
I put them in an apothocary jar to sit on my counter. I think that's the reason I haven't eaten one - I don't want to disturb how good they look sitting in there. lol.

December Daily Day 12

Here you can see my peppermint bark setting up on the dining room table as well as my other concoction tonight - soup! More pumpkin - I had to use the other half of the one I used for my ragu last week. Don't the new dishes look pretty?

Blog - Pumpking and Sweet Potato Soup
1/2 a pumpkin, seeded, cleaned, peeled and chopped... sprinkle with cumin, allspice and cinnamon and roast for 35 minutes at 425. Meanwhile, 1 diced onion and 4 minced garlic cloves in olive oil until softened, then add a box of chicken stock, 3 peeled and chopped sweet potatoes and a peeled and chopped apple. I added more spices, salt and pepper, and then the pumpkin when it came out of the oven. I let it simmer for about an hour and then smoothed it out with my stick blender. I added 1C of skim milk for a little more smooth / creamy texture. I served it with browned chicken-apple sausage and toasted pumpkin seeds (I toasted the ones from my pumpkin with salt, Worcestershire, paprika and a pinch of cayenne.) It was delicious and filling. I love homemade soup when the weather gets cold.

One last part in my entry today - I made a little folder page to write an extra note about some of the details of the day.

December Daily Day 12 c

And now, seeing as how I'm up WAY too late again (after promising myself to go to be earlier. sigh.) I'm off!

December Daily: Day 11 and camera fun!

Today is all about the tree - that was Shimelle's prompt. I love my tree. Love it. My tree is covered with ornaments that I gather when I travel, along with ornaments that were gifts (lots from my sister's traveling) and others that have memories associated with them. The only theme to my tree is exotic eclectic! But I love it. Decorating every year is like visiting old friends as I pull out each ornament and think of when and where I bought it or who gave it to me or what it represents. I really need to just do an entire album of my ornaments - maybe I'll photograph them as I undecorate in January. But anyway, for me the tree is all about memories, family, and love. I love to just sit and look at it with no other lights on as I listen to Christmas music and sip cocoa and think of the memories that surface as I look at it. It's lovely.

December Daily Day 11 a

But the fun part of today? I was all set to just use photos I took when I put up the tree, but then I read Shimelle's In Focus prompt for photography tips and ideas to go with today's journaling prompt. It was on getting photos of your tree lights and had instructions on using the manual mode on my camera. I admit... I didn't even know which setting on my camera was the one she said to use. So I Googled a tutorial on the buttons and settings on my camera. (It's so sad that I've never been out of the pre-set modes, but I'm lazy. Did I mention I worked in a photo lab for 6 years during high school and college breaks? Yeah.) So one I figured it out, I ran down the stairs to play.

This. was. life-changing. Seriously. Who knew? I was taking pictures with no other lights than my Christmas lights and the shutter was just zipping right along. The pictures were IN FOCUS. Blew my mind.

December Daily Day 11 b

How did I never figure this out before? And why couldn't I have learned about the glory of the aperture control mode and adjusting my ISO and f-stops BEFORE going to Temple Square and Candlelight Christmas? Sigh. Next year, right?

December Daily Day 11 c

I'm still playing around with the right f-stop setting to be able to see the lights and get the right focus, but not have the exposure too dark. I did a lot of experimenting while I was taking pictures of today's entry. I'm so excited to play with this while taking pictures of the kids in front of the tree when I go home. Fun!

Here are a few of the pictures I took tonight - no other lights on, no flash.

Blog - Christmas Tree Lights Photo Experiment

(the goal was to have the lights turn into little glowy circles. It's not too bad for a first try!)

Blog - Christmas Light Photo Experiment 3

Blog - Christmas Light Photo Experiment 2

I guess this is why everyone says you need to get into the manual modes on the camera, huh? I may have to dig out the manual and do some more reading.

December Daily: Day 10

Today was one of those days where I got a ton of stuff done, but not the stuff I had really been hoping to get to. Sigh. But, I still have time... next week is super crazy for me, though - especially the end of the week. If I get everything done, I think I'm going to have to treat myself to something. Oh wait... I did that today. lol. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Today's prompt from Shimelle was about gift wrapping. My shopping is mostly done, but I've had some of it shipped to my parents' house in Virginia so I'll finish wrapping there. But today's topic prompted me to just get it done. After all, the presents are purchased and just sitting in sacks in my guest bedroom, right? So this afternoon I got everything all wrapped up and pretty and sitting under the tree.


I pulled out my camera to get a picture of all my pretty wrapping paper (courtesy of the American Crafts warehouse sale a few years ago - I stocked up... good thing, they didn't have any this year!) This also prompted me to make some of the gift tags that I needed for my presents - I kept some from last year to reuse and added what I needed - that's in the bottom photo. In the middle is after I was all done and put the presents under the tree. That's a sight that just makes me happy. Until I have to pack them, that is.


The rest of the entry was about my crazy day. I got up fairly early (early for me on a Saturday morning, that is) and was out the door and shopping by 10am. I stopped at Wal-Mart (probably not again... I didn't save anything!) and then took advantage of some weekly specials at Fresh Market (saved $5 on yogurt. It's the little things.) Then went to Michaels to get candy melts (on sale, of course) and pick up a painting I was having framed. Then a quick stop at Great Harvest for a loaf of bread and a sample (it was lunchtime, afterall). THEN... I met Melody and we stopped at the mall to go to Victoria's Secret (coupons for free lipgloss!) and after we escaped the craziness of a mall on a Saturday in December, we went to Target.


Another close-up:

December Daily Day 10 d

Those dishes on the bottom? That was my little gift to myself. I tried to walk away, but those gorgeous stoneware dishes with the red enameled zinnias were just screaming at me! Since I had some coupons and got 5% off with my Target debit card, and since I could work it into my budget, I caved. I mean, the last thing I need is more dishes... (actually, the last thing I need is probably more Thickers. Or cardstock. Or patterned paper. But I digress.) but it was love. I used them for dinner tonight. And dessert. They're fabulous.

December Daily Day 10 c

Back to the painting I had framed... I had bought it in Cusco and took it in right after I got home. I was so pleased with how it came out - it's just gorgeous. So I also had to get that hung up as soon as we were done with shopping. It's a perfect fit in my room.

And then there was another new movie on the Hallmark Channel tonight. Sigh. But by then, I needed a rest! So here I am, after midnight and just finishing this up. I didn't get a single minute of work on finishing up Christmas presents, and with all the baking and cleaning I have to do for party stuff next week, on top of all the other stuff crammed in my schedule, that's probably not going to be a good thing. But I'll get it done... I always do! I might not sleep until next Saturday, however. lol.

December Daily: Day 9 - Candlelight Christmas

Lots of stuff going on today! It was a busy one at work... complete with some super convenient on-site services (like people who change my oil for me in the parking lot!) and also Nutty Guys, who had a big table selling tasty food treats for gifts. They had samples of their chocolate covered Oreos - wicked. I picked up a few things for treat packages. I also downloaded the new Black Keys album today - it pretty much rocks.

After work, I went over to Melody's house to go with them to Candlelight Christmas up at This is the Place Heritage Park. It was freezing, but lots of fun and I got plenty of pictures. But first, today's December Daily entry.

December Daily Day 9 part1

The park is a collection of old pioneer buildings that were all brought together and restored. Very cool. On the left is a holiday card we got in the print shop where they had the plates from England for the first ever mass produced Christmas card. They showed us how they were made, and we were able to take home one of the ones they had printed. They're really cool.

December Daily Day 9 part2

I also included the map of the park with highlights of what was going on in each of the buildings.

December Daily Day 9 part3

Then I put in pictures and a few journaling cards from the day / evening on both sides of the little sectioned page divider.

December Daily Day 9 part4

December Daily Day 9 part6

And the full 2nd spread:

December Daily Day 9 part5

The right side was today's journaling prompt from Shimelle, about traditions. I think this was very similar to last year, but I added some photos as well as talking a bit about how we have the same traditions, but how they've changed as we've grown up and we have a new generation of kids celebrating with us.

December Daily Day 9 part7

Long entry! But fun :)

And here are a few pictures from the Candlelight Christmas visit. First is Melody and I on the little train that circles the village - we rode it up to the top and walked back down through all the buildings, then rode it again in a full loop at the end.

Blog - Candlelight Christmas 1

We went into one of the houses to do some crafts. We made beaded snowflakes, jingle bell things (I might try and work that onto the cover of my December album) and Christmas count-down trees.

Blog - Candlelight Christmas 4

Blog - Candlelight Christmas 5

One of the buildings, beautiful all lit up:

Blog - Candlelight Christmas 3

They had a lovely little live nativity in the stable. They had people dressed up as shepherds and wise men pointing the way and also visiting inside the stable. There were goats, sheep and pigs inside (but they kept it pretty clean so it didn't smell too bad). When we went out, they had horses and cows in the yard. The cattle were even lowing. It was really cool, actually.

Blog - Candlelight Christmas 2

And one of the little buildings in the elf village:

Blog - Candlelight Christmas 7

And Angelina and I pointing out where we had our names on the "nice" list.

Blog - Candlelight Christmas 6
After our last ride on the train, we headed into the visitors center to see Santa. All the kids went to him - Samuel was cute because he wouldn't look at Santa and would try and mumble what everyone would tell him to say - "car" and "choo choo train."It was a beautiful setup, and quite a lovely Santa as well.

Blog - Candlelight Christmas 8

After that, we had to get some hot chocolate, and then it was back home. We were out late, so the kids crashed in the car. And now, I'm ready to crash!

December Daily: Day 8 - Visions of Sugarplums

Today's prompt from Shimelle was all about what we see at this time of year - it's meant to be kind of a photography entry, but since most of my day is spent at work it's not super interesting. I did whip out my phone a few times, though... especially to get the tree lot, holiday candy aisle and poinsettia display at the grocery store where I stopped by to pick up a few things to get me through until I have time for a big shopping trip. I also added a few more pictures of the decorations in my house (not the tree... that's coming in another entry!) and then journaled about what I see and hear, etc... It was fun - I just pulled out my last entry to see what I did last time, and it was fun to see how different my photos were this year.

December Daily Day 8 spread

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December Daily Day 8 left

The snow fairy image is a stamp from Stamping Bella that I picked up a few years ago. I had stamped and colored it with copics after I bought the stamp and then had it hanging on my bulletin board. So I pulled it down and cut it out for this entry - the colors and theme were kind of perfect!

December Daily Day 8 right

That's it for today, and can you believe I did actually do work on presents while I listened to the game? Progress made! Now I'm off to do a quick session lifting weights and watching Restaurant Impossible on my DVR before bed :) Later!

December Daily: Day 7

Today was all about making lists, so at the top of my list, I've put to stop procrastinating! I ended up getting sucked in to cute little movies on the Hallmark Channel tonight. It started innocently, just watching while I ate dinner, but it turned into finishing the one movie (which I've seen like 4 times now but still really enjoy) and watching another that I'd never seen that looked really cute. And it was. But I got nothing done. lol. However, I've already checked tomorrow's schedule and there's nothing I want to watch, so after dinner I'm coming up and listening to the hockey game online while I work. Time to buckle down!

Here's today's page:

December Daily Day 7

I only did one page today, but I couldn't let it rest at just that, so I did a little decorative leaf in between just for fun. I made that santa years and years ago and have hung onto it because I still think he's so cute. I'm so glad he finally made it onto a project!

December Daily Day 7a

Cute, yes? And he was easy to make. I think I did it for a class I taught back in the day.

December Daily Day 7b

I did a little extra cut and paste to cover up the backside of my punch art and all the adhesive through the lace paper.

And yes, I did doctor the web versions of my photos. Too many prying eyes read the blog, and there are some specifics about a few gifts on this page. Have to keep it all under wraps, right?

Here's the actual page - it's all digital this time. Most came from this cute little kit from One Little Bird and the papers were from A Star on Top which I've been using quite a bit so far... it's a good one.

December Daily Day 7 Journaling - Blog

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k. That's it for today. And tomorrow, progress will be made!

December Daily: Day 6

I can't believe how quickly the month is going... and have I gotten any progress made on Christmas presents since the weekend? of course not! But I'll buckle down and get it done soon... I need to be finished by this weekend, and I have world champion procrastination skills. Meaning, I'll put it off and then get it done. Hopefully without having to stay up so late I get sick - I've done that, don't want to repeat it for the holidays! Besides, we're working on being less stressful and more about the meaning of the holidays this year, right? I think I take that too literally... like, it's less stressful for me to watch TV than to work on my projects. lol.

Anyway, here's today's entry:

December Daily Day 6

I decided to just do holiday-related events today instead of including journaling from Shimelle's daily prompt... I'll hit that one next year.

December Daily Day 6 - left

This one is about something we did at work today. Caroling. Sort of... lol. We're shooting a short video for our online advertising and we needed a choir of carolers to sing in the spot. It was just audio (thank goodness! Not a good hair day.) so we went outside (because carolers sing outside - it's more natural, right?) and did a few very bad renditions of two songs. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Deck the Halls." They had me and two other girls do very high operatic versions, a few people sang it straight, and a few sang very out of tune. It was perfectly horrific. lol. They came back to their editing room and put it with the rough of the video and it's so fun - I'll have to post a link or something when we get it live.

December Daily Day 6 - right

The other side was just a little newspaper insert one of my friends at work brought me today that shows the progress on the Core I-15 construction project as well as what's left. It's been a brutal time commuting through all of that, and we have a year left... not looking forward to it. But it was somewhat cheering to see how much is done and to know that they're still on schedule to finish on time.

Here's a close-up of my carolers on the left page:

December Daily Day 6 - carolers

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I didn't have any pictures of our caroling at work today... I totally should have taken my phone down and snapped a few, but I didn't. So, I decided to just draw some. These are based on a b/w sketch I found online, but I personalized it a bit. It started as pencil on cold-pressed watercolor paper, then I colored with gouache. Finally I outlined and added detail with fine / extra-fine tipped Sharpies. It felt kind of fun and whimsical. Who says you need pictures! lol. Besides... this way I was able to just draw and paint while I watched The Biggest Loser and then just run up and throw it all together quickly. Multi-tasking... woot!

See you tomorrow!

December Daily: Day 5

Just popping in with today's journal entry. I'm really enjoying doing this - it's helping me get back into the scrapping groove! The only problem is trying to do my journal pages and my Christmas projects and sleep. lol. I'm working on getting the journaling done faster - I don't want it to be an ordeal. The problem is that it's just so much fun that I lose track of time! But it will all get done... I still have time!

Here's today's entry... Shimelle's prompt was about advent calendars. Even though I've written about it before, when I thought about it this time, there were some new memories that popped up, so I wrote about that.

December Daily Day 5

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I also took a few instax photos of the advent calendars I have in my kitchen - one that I made out of felt a few years ago, and another that hangs on my fridge that my visiting teacher gave me this year.

December Daily Day 5 - left

I had too much journaling to get it in the two bottom pockets on this page, so I wrote a little bit about my day at work and projects I was working on there, and then included the little tree that I set up on my dresser this year - it was a first, and I love it.

December Daily Day 5 - middle

Just a fun little leaf... half of a KI Memories Sheer and a little tag I decorated just for kicks.

December Daily Day 5 - right

Finally, all the journaling as well as a close-up picture of my santa advent, fully stocked with jumbo Andes mints.

That's it for now... see you tomorrow!

December Daily: Day 4 and a new recipe

I'm all caught up again! It was kind of a quiet Sunday here... a nice afternoon at church, some snow (the pretty kind - big fluffy flakes that melt when they hit the road and stick to the grass and trees), and I did some cooking. Another new and slightly... interesting... recipe :)

First, here's today's entry:

December Daily Day 4
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The journaling prompt from Shimelle today was about your ideal Christmas. I have to admit, I'm lucky enough to have a pretty ideal Christmas most years with going home to see family, doing our traditions, baking cookies and enjoying all of that with a family that's all close. But in relief society today at church, we talked about having the Christmas spirit and I realized that a totally ideal Christmas for me would be to keep that spirit every day of the season - not letting little things get to me and stress me out... not getting caught up in gifts and decorations and shopping... being grateful every day. So that's what I wrote about today.

December Daily Day 4 - Left
This page was about 95% digital - I added some Stickles to the snowflakes after I printed it out. I also quoted some from the Ensign article that we used in class - by President Monson.

December Daily Day 4 - Right
On the other side, a picture I took through my windshield driving back home from church in the snow (don't worry... no one was behind me so I came to a stop first. lol.), the score from the Avs game I watched (they've won 3 in a row! I may fall over.) and some pictures from this evening's culinary adventure. I wrote a little bit about how to make it and why I made it. The poinsettia is out of wool felt from a die by Papertrey Ink and I sewed some pearl beads into the center.

Here's the picture of the snow:

Blog - Snowy Sunday Afternoon
See? Pretty.

And now, I give you tonight's creative cooking experiment. Pumpkin & Sweet Potato "Ragu" with homemade rigatoni.

Blog - Pumpkin Sweet Potato Ragu and Pasta
My Italian friends are probably shuddering with horror right now. lol.

But... I was trying to use stuff I already had in the house so I can stay away from the grocery store until payday. You know how the holidays are... especially after coming home from a big trip. I'm on a budget, and it's not like I don't have a ton of food around the house. Case in point: I had 5 sweet potatoes, a pumpkin, chicken-apple sausage and fresh parmesan cheese, not to mention pignoli, pepitas, chicken stock and a ton of spices.

So really, I made this up as I went along and I don't really have measurements. But it was really good.

Start with a pumpkin - preferably a small one. Mine was about the size of a basketball and I only used half (but the rest, combined with a bag of frozen mashed potatoes, is going to make a fabulous soup!) I cut it in half and scooped out the seeds (which are cleaned and drying so I can roast them) and then I cut it in quarters and peeled it. Then I chopped the sucker up and added 5 peeled and chopped sweet potatoes (small ones). I tossed them with fat free olive oil spray, about 1/4 tsp each of allspice, cinnamon and cumin and then roasted them at 425 for 35 minutes. They came out perfect. Then I threw them in a big sauce pan with about 2 cups of chicken stock and let it mush up a bit. I used my immersion blender to help that along, but I left it about half chunky for texture. I also added salt and about 1/4 tsp. each more of all my spices (and that blend of spices smells fabulous!) and about 1/4 C of real maple syrup.

At this point, I quartered and sliced 5 links of Aidell's chicken apple sausage and browned it, then added it to the potato / pumpkin mixture. I toasted a nice double-handful of pepitas and about 1-2 tbsp of pignoli and added those in, along with a heaping handful of fresh grated parmesan cheese, more salt, and fresh ground pepper. I also stirred in about 1 cup of skim milk. Then I boiled the fresh pasta (which I do just because I enjoy making pasta and using the extruder attachment for my KitchenAid. And because I'm a nerd.) and I added the pasta to my "ragu" to finish, along with about 1C of the pasta water (lots of good starch and also salt). Then I served it with a bit more parmesan.

To be honest, I was really worried that it was going to be a giant pile of mush. However, there did end up being enough variety in the texture that I really enjoyed it. The chunks of pumpkin were a bit fibrous, the sausage had a good chew to it, the pepitas and pignoli added a little crunch, and the pasta was nicely al dente, so it wasn't the same texture as the mashed veggies. If I were to serve it to company, I'd probably make some parmesan frico to stick in the top and add crispiness. But honestly? It was delicious. And it made a ton... I'm set for the week!

k... it's late so it's time for me to sign off. Later!

December Daily: Day 3

Yesterday was fun - I got a lot of work done on Christmas projects... got laundry done... got some much needed sleep, and then in the evening, I went with Melody and her family to see the lights up at Temple Square. I don't think I've done that since the first time I was a student at BYU, so it's been more years than I want to admit to! But it was beautiful, of course... and the highlight of my December Daily. Shimelle's prompt yesterday was about Christmas cards, and since I never send them and don't really get any, I decided to skip it (especially since I've written about that prompt before.) So here's my day 3 layout:

December Daily Day 3

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On the left, I printed out a few photos from the night and added some journaling cards.

December Daily Day 3-left

On the right, I went with one giant photo, so the whole page is just on photo paper with a few things adhered on top. This was the nativity at the temple visitor's center.

December Daily Day 3-right

And a few photos...

Blog - Temple Square Lights 1a
Blog - Temple Square Lights 1
Blog - Temple Square Lights 2
Blog - Temple Square Lights 3
And from there we went into the visitor's center for a few minutes to warm up and see the Christus. No matter how many times I go in there to see it, it always moves me.

Blog - Temple Square Lights 4
Then we wandered over and went through the Tabernacle where they were practicing Christmas music on the organ.

Blog - Temple Square Lights 5

Blog - Temple Square Lights 6
Blog - Temple Square Lights 6a

Then we stopped for hot cocoa and then went into the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Vic used to work there, so he wanted to wander a bit. Not to mention how beautifully they decorate in there. It's just a gorgeous building.

Blog - Temple Square Lights 7
Blog - Temple Square Lights 8
At that point it was fairly late, so we found our way back to the car and headed home. I'm so glad I got a chance to go... it's been way too long.

I couldn't help it.

Instead of working on my projects or going to bed for some much needed sleep, I scrapbooked. But it felt so good... I've been dying to do a layout for weeks now and I finally decided to just do it. Get it out of my system so I can concentrate on the stuff that actually *needs* to get done.

I've had this layout in my head since I saw these pictures when I was going through my Peru photos 2 weeks ago. Since I already knew what I wanted, it actually came together pretty fast.

Just a Little Monkey Business
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You may ask, why did I want to scrapbook these photos so badly? Aside from wanting to do something... anything... with my Peru pictures?

Just a Little Monkey Business close-up 1
It's not just because the monkey is cute, although he is. And he has excellent taste in beverages as well.

Just a Little Monkey Business close-up 2
And it's not about the boa constrictor I'm wearing around my neck... probably a given since the title is about monkeys instead of snakes.

No, it's about this little moment that was, unbeknownst to me, captured in the background while I was getting my neck squeezed.

Just a Little Monkey Business close-up 3
As the little arrows are so helpfully pointing out, there was a little Inca Kola power struggle going on behind me. Pedro, our boat captain and resident musician extraordinaire, had come up behind us and was enjoying a moment to relax and get a much needed drink after working in the heat. That is, until the little monkey came up and attacked him, grabbing the soda. I didn't realize what had happened... I just knew that I put the snake down and turned around and there was a monkey drinking soda. So I took a picture, of course! So when I got home and was going through my photos and saw that in the background, I just about died laughing.

Blog - monkey stealing soda

If you look closely, you can see the monkey's little hand snagging the bottle away from Pedro.

I just love it when you find funny and unexpected moments in your photos.

And that is why I had to scrapbook these photos. Because it was just priceless.

Okay. I'm really going to bed now. I swear!

December Daily: Day 2 and Updated Cover

Back with day 2! It was kind of a long day at work so it was fun to come home and play a bit... first, I updated the cover a little. After it was all dry and I looked at it in the light of day, it felt a bit too psychadelic for me. I covered over it with a coat of Golden Irridescent Pearl - it seemed to tone it down and highlight the texture of the snowflakes all at once. I added a little ribbon and I like it a lot better now.

Updated December Daily Cover 1
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Are you feeling it? Yes? No? Although if the answer is no, I'm not sure I want to know. lol. Maybe a second coat in that bright pink area on the top right? Maybe. Who knows :)

Updated December Daily Cover 2

I like that I can still see the stenciling and glitter and stuff, but it no longer shouts "I was WAY too heavy handed with the Glimmer Mist!"

And the inside pages... I mixed bits and pieces from my day with Shimelle's prompt on my feelings about winter weather. My feelings about snow are well known, but I decided to be fair and also write about the things I like about winter weather. Although as we're expecting snow this weekend, I'm thinking of the Amazon with great longing. Great. Longing.

December Daily Day 2a

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I used some Basic Grey Eskimo Kisses today, along with some Making Memories stuff from various sets and releases.

December Daily Day 2b
The chipboard snowflakes are glittery and were from a snowflake ornament set. The transparency is also MM, and I used some pink washi tape and some Pink Paislee paper tape and a Prima flower.

December Daily Day 2c
This page really serves no purpose other than to be pretty. I was inspired by one of the samples in Shimelle's email this morning.

And a few bits from the day, including the 10-day weather forecast with the snowflakes all over this weekend.

December Daily Day 2d
I got my first Groupon photobook back today from Picaboo. I'd never used them before... I did a 90-page 11x14 album of my trips to Venice and Paris back in 2005. I have to say, I was really pleased with the results - it was great! The plan is that this is the first of a series... I want to do a book around this size for all of my trips, and then have mini albums and random layouts of things that I want to focus on just a bit more (like that South Africa safari mini album that's been half finished for about 2 years!)

December Daily Day 2e
I put in a bit about my new-found love of downloading new digital kits on Fridays,the hockey game I watched / listened to tonight while I was working, as well as the tweets from UDot about the crappy traffic on the drive home tonight. Just little things that make up my day, but I think years from now it will all be pretty cool to look back at.

okay, break over... time to get back to my other projects! I've got a deadline to hit in order to have things ready for Christmas, and my procrastination is getting out of hand :-P I tell myself that if I can buckle down and devote the weekend to getting it done, I can have a much lovelier and low-stress December. Wouldn't that be nice? sigh. We'll see how it goes. I'm notoriously bad about these weekend resolutions. lol.


'Tis the Season!

I can't believe it's already December, but I'm also really excited. In just 3 weeks I get to go home for Christmas! And in the meantime, it's all the fun leading up to the big day. I'm doing pretty well on my Christmas shopping and projects, but not as well as I'd like. I'm going to try and discipline myself so that I can work this weekend rather than watching cute little Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel all weekend. lol.

But December also means it's time for the December Daily! Last year I decided to not even try and do it after starting one in 2009 and not even getting halfway through... it was just too busy with school and work and everything else. But this year, I promised myself I'd do it again. Of course, I was super busy filling up a special Pinterest board with inspiration and I kept telling myself I had plenty of time as I watched all the "early birds" posting their cover and base pages on their blogs. Until yesterday when I realized it was November 30th and I was shocked that I was out of time! Not like I didn't see it coming... lol. So last night I decided on the album and pulled together some supplies. I figure, the first time I did it I didn't have it all done in advance, so it will probably work out fine.

So... I decided to use the Pink Paislee Parisian Anthology portfolio album - that limited what I could do with the cover, but I've been saving the album for something special and I love the different sized page protectors that came with it, and I have an extra set of them. So hopefully it will work... especially since the cover is now irrevocably changed. I started with mists - turquoise and cranberry, and since I wasn't getting exactly the look I was going for, I moved to my trusty modeling paste.

Cover - first attempt
It's kind of hard to see, but I used snowflake stencils in the initial sprayed layer, and then different ones (Tattered Angels Glimmer Screens) with the modeling paste. I did it while the ink was still wet so that it would dye the modeling paste, and it worked great - it feels wintery to me, and like the aurora borealis, which for some reason I associate with winter.

Cover Close-up 1
I added some glitter and jewels while it was still wet so that it will dry in there. I also took some Cranberry Adirondack puffy paint stuff and traced "December 2011" onto plastic so I can peel it off and glue it to the album after it's dry (a little technique I found on Pinterest - we'll see if it works!)

The inside is kind of a contrast to the cover - it's very clean and graphic so far. I'm planning to do a lot more digital / hybrid this year to keep the album smaller and hopefully to make it go faster. We'll see how that works out... I'm not that much faster in digi ;)

Here's the inside with my page 1 manifesto.

December Daily Inside 1

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And here's the 1st page - it's a 5x7 pure digital page - this uses the 25 Days of Christmas kit by Sabrina's Creations and the manifesto from Shimelle.

Title Page - Manifesto

And then my day 1 entry / journaling (I'm also doing Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas, so it will be a mix of both things in the album, depending on the day).

December Daily Inside 2

Here's the 5x7 page - also totally digital, using A Star on Top from One Little Bird / Amy Martin Designs.

December Daily Day 1a

For the main journaling page, I made my own template based on Ali's templates - I decided they were basic enough that it made more sense to save money instead of buying them, so I just made something similar. I found a font that's kind of similar to use for the dates - it's called Titania Outline.

December Daily Inside 3

This one is hybrid - the lines and journaling were printed and I added patterned paper, photo corners, washi tape and some paper holly.

Day 1 is in the books! Literally! lol. Hopefully now that I've got some templates made it will be faster so that I'll have plenty of time to work on my other projects too.

P.S. I'm so glad it's finally Friday! I need a weekend :)