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Project Life Week 17

Another week gone by... and last week was a busy one! I decided to do A Week in the Life this year - I've never done it before, but I did last Saturday through Friday and it was busy! I just got my pictures developed so I need to work on putting them into a book, but I still did a Project Life layout for the week with just some highlights, plus this last Saturday which wasn't included in my week.

Project Life Blog Banner
Here's this week's spread:

Project Life 2012 Week 17
Left side:

Just a few bits and pieces from my week - a shot of my commute, my to-do list at work, a little cooking, and then hanging out with the girls on Friday at Rae's graduation party and then Saturday morning at the Tulip Festival.

The tall picture on the left is the front of my building downtown, then more pictures from Saturday - gorgeous tulips, the AMAZING "peach" I had for dessert at Gourmandise (filled with pastry cream, sitting in a pool of peach simple syrup with a touch of amaretto, and topped with marzipan leaves) and then a few shots from the Design House Digital retreat on Saturday night. That was fun because I finally got to meet Gennifer in person, along with some of the other designers and decorators, and I also got to meet Jen Gallacher whose stamping workshop I've been taking and loving on Two Peas. We had pizza (delicious, but NOT on my diet! But you have to splurge now and then, right?) and had a lot of fun chatting and working on our layouts in the digi morph. I also got all of my week in the life photos edited - the ones that are now printed and waiting to be scrapped.

So that was the week! I have one more sketch to work on from Kelly's Sketchbook class, and my new Studio Calico class with Celine Navarro starts tomorrow - it's a mini album class called "Get Messy" and it's all learning some fun mixed media techniques. I'm looking forward to playing!

In the meantime, a few more pictures from the weekend:


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Digi Speed Scrapping

I've been at a digital scrapbook crop for Design House Digital tonight... participating in my first ever digital scrapbook page morph. We had two teams and started with an inspiration layout. One person made a layout as their take on the original and then passed it on to the next person in line. We only got to see the layout of the person directly in front of us, so we had no idea how things were changing as we went. We also only had 30 minutes each to pull together our layout and pass it on. I went last so I had a little leeway, but it was lots of fun. Here's my layout:

The pictures were all taken this morning when we went to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point. More on that coming soon. My layout was very different from the original! Here's the thread in the DHD forum with all the layouts if you'd like to see how it progressed.

I've also gotten almost all of my photos from my Week in the Life (which ended yesterday) edited and ready to be uploaded for printing. That's pretty good progress for me in one night!

k... back to the crop and then getting ready for a late drive back home.

Sketch #9 - Layout Remix!

The other evening I was flipping through my albums (because I actually have FOUR albums - by theme -  that I now keep in my scrap attic so I can actually put my layouts in an album when I finish them... shocker.) and realized that of all the layouts in my 2011 Travel album, there was only one so far that I just don't like... it was kind of forced when I made it and not really my style. I was trying too hard to do something that just wasn't me so I pulled it out last night and redid it.

The original layout was made from the Studio Calico Daydream Believer kit and a few pictures from Machu Picchu. Observe:

Yeah. I'm cringing just looking at it, even though technically that layout doesn't exist anymore. (Okay, it's not really all that bad, but it really just isn't my style.)

Here's my remixed version :)

Amazing - Sketchbook 4 No9a
So.Much.Better. At least I think so. I just re-used the same supplies from the original layout with a few small additions. I took everything off the page, then flipped the kraft cardstock over and used the back. Waste not, want not!

Amazing - Sketchbook 4 No9b
I cropped the photos a bit - I think the scale was a bit off. Then I used sketch #9 from my sketchbook class as the basis for arranging everything on the page.

Amazing - Sketchbook 4 No9c
I had a pile of kraft letters already cut on my Cameo and leftover from another project where I'd used the negative. I think it was in my 29 Days of Love album? Anyway, I suddenly had the idea to see what words I could spell and if anything fit, to do a really subtle treatment using those words instead of journaling. When I think of Machu Picchu, "Andes," "history," and "drama" all seem very appropriate!

Amazing - Sketchbook 4 No9d
I took out the strips of green Dear Lizzy paper and used a leftover scrap from the March Story Hour kit instead. I think it made a huge difference in getting the right feel.

Amazing - Sketchbook 4 No9e

The only other things I added were a few of those awesome wood veneer stars from Studio Calico. I think I could use about 12 more packages of those babies.

I still have one more layout I did with this kit that I'm thinking about re-doing, but we'll see.

K... I have a few more things to do during my lunch break, so off I go!

P.S. My layout "Jump!" was featured on the Scrapbook Gossip blog today! Go check it out... it's a pretty cool blog with lots of great daily inspiration.

Might as well jump!

We're getting close to being finished with the Sketchbook class I've been taking this month at Studio Calico... and it's been lots of fun! Tonight I tackled sketch #11 (although I still need to go back and do #9) and I went back to Spain for this one.

Jump - Sketchbook 4 No11a
For some reason we had this thing about doing jumping photos. I'm really not sure how it all got started, but we did quite a few of them - especially in Spain. This one was on a Sunday evening after we got back from a day-trip to Segovia.

Jump - Sketchbook 4 No11b

We did several different takes to make sure we got a good photo. Lots of faces and a little smoldering were a part of this. I personally quite like my Dr. Evil jumping face in the bottom two. And then there's Chad... using his skills as a former cheerleader. (Whatever. Show off.) Personally I'm just excited that there's visual proof that I got off the ground. lol.

Jump - Sketchbook 4 No11c

For the layout, I used my Studio Calico April kit and add-ons, along with their new Plano stamp (the circle in the corner above). I also took a challenge from chapter 1 of my Sassy Scrapping workshop to use great big letters for the title and minimize the rest of the embellishments. Shannon hand cut hers from lots of different patterns, but I decided to use some old Quickutz dies to make it a bit more my style. And really, why not use Van Halen lyrics for the title? I'm digging it.

Jump - Sketchbook 4 No11d
One thing I've noticed is that I'm really doing a lot more stamping on my layouts since I took Jen's Scrapbook Stamping workshop. I'm still playing with that one a bit here and there as I go back to the handouts and incorporate more ideas, but it's already paid off with how much I'm using my stamps now. And that's awesome.

Alrighty... it's now way past my bedtime once again, so I'm signing off now!

More sketchbook fun

Not too long ago Brian sent over some photos of Adorable-Niece-Aubrey during her 18th month. I can't believe how fast time is flying... she's getting so big so quickly! Anyway, I thought this cute little sequence of photos worked perfectly for the latest sketch in my Sketchbook 4 class (I still haven't done 9, but I'll get to it soon.)

18 Months - Sketchbook 4 No10a
I used my Studio Calico April City of Lights kit plus bits of all 4 add-ons. I also added a few printed diecuts and some custom flair from Ormolu. The "A" is for Aubrey, of course :)

18 Months - Sketchbook 4 No10b

(I went back and added the glittery yellow dots to the butterflies and forgot to take a new picture of this view. So just ignore that part :)

The whole sequence of photos cracks me up, especially the first two - "I'm not sure about this whole slide thing..." and then, "too late!"

18 Months - Sketchbook 4 No10cLove those brads from Crate Paper... not like I needed any help feeding that particular addiction :)

18 Months - Sketchbook 4 No10d
I did a little stamping on some punched white circles to kind of echo the print on the Ormolu diecut. Then I added some Making Memories butterflies in between to make a kind of border. The stamping isn't perfect, but I like it anyway.

Now, time to head off and catch tonight's episode of Biggest Loser on my DVR. Later!

Some sassy scrapping

I caved and signed up for yet another online workshop - this one is Sassy Scrapping with Shannon Tidwell. It just looked so fun and another class that was right up my alley (and it doesn't hurt that I get 15% off everything at 2 Peas, right? So it's a deal. I'm practically obligated to participate!) The first chapter is about inspiration and the class in general is more about going bold and even a little big with your pages. So I decided to dive right in with it. I started with a Studio Calico sketch and my April kit.

Easter 2012 aThe papers were just perfect for these fun pictures of Rick, Erin, and the kids. I decided to be inspired by a layout from Shannon as well as flowers - something that's kind of just *me* and that I always love. So I decided to kick it up a notch and make them huge.

Easter 2012 b
I used a rose diecut on my Cameo to do the flowers in different papers from my kit (although the yellow is from March). I also did some big hexagons on my Cameo for the background and added some sequins and butterfly stickers (also from the kit and addon... love them!)

Easter 2012 cI spritzed the Amy Tangerine Thickers with a little Mister Huey's mist so they'd stand out just a bit on the lighter paper.

Easter 2012 d
This was a lot of fun and I really love how it turned out. Plus, I have a super cute family :)

Project Life & Clinton Kelly

Yup, this week had an unexpected bonus! It makes me really glad I started my Week in the Life project on Saturday... still plenty more to come about this weekend.

In the meantime, I came down with something funky late Thursday night - to the extent where I had to sleep with the big puke bowl next to my bed. You know the one... not used, but I was miserable all the same. I thought I was feeling better on Friday morning but I was sitting in a meeting just before 10am and it came back again as bad as ever. I stuck it out a few more hours, but my boss sent me home. I stopped at the store looking for diet ginger ale (which they didn't have... argh!) and chicken soup and saltines. I was pretty much out of it until late Friday night. Saturday I woke up around 4am suddenly feeling fine. Went back to sleep and barely got up in time to go volunteer at Bountiful Baskets (which I only did because I was better and I'm positive that I was sick from something I ate and not a bug).

Then I saw a text I'd missed from Melody inviting me to go to the City Creek Macy's to see Clinton Kelly. I had a ton of stuff I should have been doing, but hello. I love What Not to Wear so I decided to go make a day of it. We saw him and the fashion show and then I got to meet him and get his autograph in a copy of his book. We had a lovely little chat - he was delightful, and just as fun in person as on tv. After that we did some shopping - Sephora, the Loft... a very late lunch at Kneaders - an all around fun day during which I spent way too much money. lol.

Just a few photos - more will be coming when I do my week in the life spread for Saturday - I'm already behind!!!

They took our bags and personal belongings before it was our turn and gave them back after, so no photos with him. But since I went before Melody I got my bag back in time to get a few photos of her and the kids.

IMG_1463And one of me so you know I really was there. lol.

IMG_1466Fortunately he couldn't see that I was wearing flip flops from where he was sitting. I know... total no-no. But my arthritis was bugging me so it was that or tennis shoes. Which would you pick? At least this way you could see my cute pedicure. lol.

There are more pictures, but I need to edit them for AWITL. Until then...

Project Life Blog Banner
Here's last week's spread:

Project Life 2012 Week 16
And the individual pages:

I used mostly Paislee Press digi elements this week although the templates are Tiffany Tillman again and the cardstock is Gennifer Bursett.

Time to see how much more I can get done tonight...

Downtown Dubai

I just finished my layout for sketch #8 in my sketchbook class, and I absolutely love it. I'd been thinking of doing a layout of some of the highrise buildings in Dubai for a while now, so when I saw this sketch the very first thing I thought was "buildings." This was the most excited I've been while making a layout for a while - it just came so easily and I'm pretty thrilled with how it turned out.

Dubai - Sketchbook 4 No8aI know it's been a long time since it was considered cool to replicate scenes from your photos in the layout, but I figured, hey... whatever. I love it! Even if I'm the only one :) Looking back at my older layouts (like YEARS older), some of my favorite layouts are still the ones with scenes. Maybe I'll get crazy and do some more of them. lol.

Dubai - Sketchbook 4 No8fDubai is one of the coolest places I've ever been... it's a definite contender for favorite stop on my trip last spring. We spent a lot of time visiting businesses, but doing that gave us a chance to be in among all these amazing sky scrapers and really see them up close. The architecture there was just mind blowing. I just picked a few of the many pictures I took to share on this layout.

Dubai - Sketchbook 4 No8d
The idea for me to do the buildings was easy to follow through on. I found a picture of the Dubai skyline and used Photoshop to pull out the sillhouettes of four of the buildings and blow them up. I printed them out on 12x12 paper and used them as templates. Once I got the buildings and photos down, I realized it just looked plain. But I didn't want to cover it with fru fru stuff, you know? I started thinking of the chapter on background stamps in my stamping workshop and thought I could maybe do a subtle tone-on-tone pattern. I looked over at my stamps and saw my big Hero Arts city skyline stamp and it all fell together. Don't you just love it when that happens?

Dubai - Sketchbook 4 No8eI filled in some spots that needed a bit more with a bunch of stamps from various Studio Calico sets and then added just a few embellishments to make it feel complete. I love the modern, graphic feel - it works great with all those incredibly modern buildings.

And now, I even have a little time to start another project!

New digi goodies

It's release day at Design House Digital, and Gennifer Bursett has a new kit as part of a collaboration that was released today... and I got to play with it!

The kit is called Office Space Part 2 and it's quite fabulous. Here's the layout I did:

I really loved the colors and patterns on this one, and I had a great time layering the elements. I even did some digital fussy cutting to get the flowers - they're "cut" out of the large background paper and then shrunk down to work as an accent. This was a lot of fun to play with and I'm sure I'll be going back to this kit a lot!

P.S. Don't forget to check out the matching journaling cards!

More skyping and sketchbook

Another Skyped birthday party last night... this time I joined in for Brian's birthday party.

Another fun party... it's always great to see everyone, and the kids are funny with the video. Eraleigh always wants to be right there to see me - she calls me "my auntie Gwenny" and says I'm her favorite (I think it was really so she could see herself making faces in the little video spot below, but whatever. lol.)

I also finished another layout for my sketchbook class - this was the hardest sketch for me so far. I had finished it last night but left it to sit and I'm glad I did - I changed a few things tonight and I'm much happier now.

SB USA Expo - Sketchbook 4 No7a

A few cell phone pictures from the Scrapbook Expo last month, along with my April Studio Calico kit.

SB USA Expo - Sketchbook 4 No7b
I also just finished reading through chapter 2 in my Collect & Create class with Amy Tan - this chapter is about using memorabilia on your layouts which is partly why I chose these photos... I had all those business cards and stuff from the expo. So I included them on my page in that fun little clear Smash baggie.

SB USA Expo - Sketchbook 4 No7c
I ended up putting some of the photos up on pop dots - adding the dimension helped a lot. I also cut out a few spaces after I misted the stencil from the kit and backed the holes with scraps of patterned paper.

IMG_1417I'm working on sketch 8 which went up this morning - I had an idea as soon as I saw the sketch so we'll see how it turns out. I might just get it started and let the ideas percolate in the back of my head until I can come back to it. We'll see :)

Project Life Week 15

Just popping in quickly to post my layout for last week.

Project Life Blog Banner
Pretty simple again this week - another one-pager, but I changed up the format... I went back to a Becky Higgins digital template, but flipped it 90 degrees and moved a few things around to work better with my photos.

This also happens to be a little sneaky peek of an awesome kit coming from Gennifer Bursett on Thursday. I also mixed in some older kits - Sweet Child of Mine Girl for the doily, Favorite Things for the flower and ribbon, Writer's Block Weekly Journaling cards for the title and 3x4 cards, and Grandma's Easter Bonnet for the tape.

I keep thinking that I wish I was doing the paper version of this project, but then I think about how the page protectors are super expensive, the albums are bulky, I can't rotate the page protectors like I can a digital template, and how it would take me sooooo much longer. I think if I do this again next year I might do something monthly instead and just hit the highlights. We'll see... gotta get through this year first!

Next I was going to start working on my new sketch from my Sketchbook class, but suddenly I'm just exhausted... maybe I'll hold off until tomorrow. It's an awesome sketch, but I didn't have any ideas for it yet so it's probably smarter to get some sleep, huh?

Parsley pesto and memories of kunefe

Just a few things to share tonight... I'm still working on a few of my online classes and I've got two new layouts plus a quick little recipe.

First, sketch 6 from Kelly Purkey's Sketchbook 4 class... a few photos from when I was in Istanbul last year. Our last day we had some time to kill before going to the airport, so I went with a group to the shopping district where I knew kunefe could be found. It's a dessert Nicole introduced me to the first time I was in Turkey, and it's divine. I've made it, but it's never as good since we can't get the same cheese here (although I do have a few packages of the shredded filo they use that I got in a Middle Eastern market).

Kunefe - Sketchbook 4 No6a

My friend Steve (top left with me) said it was the best thing he'd eaten on the trip so far. I also got a little container of rose cream to go on top... it was insanely delicious. I didn't share mine. lol.

I used my Studio Calico April kit and add-ons, plus an old Autumn Leaves swirl rubon, an arrow accent from Ormolu and a little card by Amy Tangerine (2 qty).


That couple of hours before we left Istanbul was probably my favorite part of the whole trip. It was just a beautiful day, and it was just relaxing and all around perfect, really.

Of course, the kunefe might have had something to do with that... I got it from a little place that was like a bistro - they cooked them up fresh for me while I was waiting (during which time I may have done a little shopping from the amazing display of Turkish baklava in the window). So the kunefe was fresh, hot, and stunningly delicious.

I'm hungry now.

Moving on... I've also done a little more work on the next chapter of the Design Your Life class with Cathy Zielske. This chapter is about asymmetrical balance and I did a layout for the first of the sketches in this group.

I'm not sure why it's coming up so red... it didn't look like that when I edited it. In any case, just a fun little layout about Adorable-Niece-Aubrey since the photos fit the journaling prompt for this sketch.

You - close-up 1
I added a fair bit of embellishment on top of the sketch, but I think it still maintains the balance quite nicely, and it makes it much more me. While I really love Cathy's graphic style and I prefer to have a clean foundation for my own pages, it's just too minimal for me so I amped it up a bit.

You - close-up 2

I had to caption the photos - it's such a typical series of Aubrey photos... a whole gamut of emotion in about a 5-minute period, ending with complete distraction by some random toy or food. My absolute favorite however, is the top one which *had* to be captioned "I know kung fu!"

You - close-up 3

I used my Studio Calico April kit again - patterned papers, twine, stamps and kraft flag. I added a bunch of Prima and some trim, and the journaling block was class chapter download as part of the sketch.

One thing I've found during all of these online classes is that it's really helped me to define my own style a lot more. You'd think after scrapping for well over 15 years I'd have that down, but apparently not. lol.

And last but not least, a very quick little recipe share. I haven't really done any cooking this week - I've been eating salads and Easter leftovers, but I did whip up something new a few days ago that turned out quite well.

Parsley and Walnut Pesto

I got a bunch of zucchini in my last Bountiful Basket and I sliced one up and threw it in my steamer, but I wanted something fun to go on top. So naturally, I pulled out The Flavor Bible for some inspiration to see what works well with zucchini. I was surprised to see pesto on the list. I guess it makes sense when you think about it. I didn't have any pesto nor any fresh basil, but I did have a big whack of fresh Italian parsley, a lemon and walnuts (I had pine nuts too, but it just felt like walnuts would be a better match for the parsley. As if I would know! lol). So I made a parsley and walnut pesto that was really delicious.

I used my small food processor with the 2 cup bowl and filled it to the brim with semi-packed parsley leaves. Then I added about 1/3C walnut pieces, about 1/4C shredded fresh parmesan cheese and about 1 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice. I started with about 1/4C of French roasted walnut oil and buzzed it a few times, then added kosher salt, pepper and a little olive oil until the flavor and consistency were what I wanted. I went for a very thick pesto since I didn't want a lot of oil. I also didn't have any garlic, so I just didn't add any. It was delicious! And it really jazzed up the zucchini too. It makes about 1/2C pesto.

Earlier today I was reading my latest issue of Cooking Light and they had a recipe for a pesto potato salad. I was thinking of doing a cauliflower mash tomorrow (I put a few potatoes in mine) and I think I'm going to try a pesto cauliflower mash since I still have some more parsley. Sounds yum to me!

Piggy Love

Bet you thought this was a post about bacon, huh? Not tonight. (But now I'm craving bacon. Or better yet... candied bacon! But I digress.)

I was working on today's sketch for my Sketchbook 4 class and I just had to go back and use these pictures from Aubrey's first birthday. And not just because as soon as I saw the sketch this morning, I had an idea for how to use it without even looking at the sample layouts (love that!) and sketched it up using hearts and therefore needed pictures that would work with hearts. Okay, so that's mostly the reason, but also because I just love these pictures and the story that goes with them.

Piggy Love - Sketchbook 4 No5aWhen we were in Myrtle Beach in September, Aubrey had this little stuffed pig that she just adored. Exhibit A:

Aubrey and PigSo when I was shopping for her birthday present, I was thinking pigs. Then I found out from my mom that Aubrey kept stealing this pillow pet that Eraleigh had. So I thought hey. Piggy pillow pet! I found one on Amazon and shipped it to her for the party and then skyped in for the celebration.

Piggy Love - Sketchbook 4 No5b
First of all, the thing was huge! I didn't realize how big it was when I ordered it. And watching Aubrey pull it out of the box and realize what it was? Priceless. She squealed with delight and

It was pretty funny. And awfully darn cute too.

Piggy Love - Sketchbook 4 No5cI used my City of Lights kit and add-on for this, plus a few doilies and some washi tape. I used my Cameo to cut the heart frames around the photos - glued them to the photos and cut off the excess. I also used my Cameo to make the heart strips - I cut hearts and circles out of craft and laid them on white cardstock for the strips, then used some of the leftover pieces as elements on the page.

Piggy Love - Sketchbook 4 No5dThis was a fun sketch and I had a great time putting the layout together. And now I'm kind of thinking maybe I need a piggy pillow pet. Doesn't it look kind of cute and comfy?

More Easter cuteness

I have so many cute Easter pictures to choose from this year! I think there will have to be a few more Easter layouts, but here's one I started last night with my box 'o goodies from Studio Calico. I used my April City of Lights kit and then added in a bunch of extras from my stash. This is also doubling for a few things... sketch 4 from my Sketchbook class, the weekly challenge on the SC blog and also for my Scrapbook Stamping and Collect and Create workshops at 2 Peas.

Easter - Sketchbook 4 No3a
This time I used some cute pics of Nicole, Brian and Aubrey taken after church on Sunday. (I adore Aubrey's dress. I'd quite like one in grown-up size for me!) I wrote the journaling in gray ink so that it's legible, but it doesn't draw too much attention visually.

Easter - Sketchbook 4 No3b
For Collect and Create, I punched the photos and used punched scraps to round out the layout. For Scrapbook Stamping and the SC challenge, I used multiple stamps on the page, including making my own papertape design with some artist tape and a set of stamps from one of my SC add-ons.

Easter - Sketchbook 4 No3dSeveral Prima flowers, and the leaves are stamped using the Impression Obsession Floral Damask set, which I absolutely love and don't use nearly often enough. I colored a bit with my Copics and I was trying to keep it subtle, but I might have blown it with that shade of green. Oh well!

Easter - Sketchbook 4 No3e
I'm officially in love with those butterfly stickers from the SC kit - they're exclusives made by Sassafras for SC, and I'm almost afraid to use them because then I'll run out! They're seriously drool-worthy.

That's it for tonight... time to go watch Biggest Loser on my DVR. I can't wait to see tomorrow's sketch!

It's Studio Calico day!

Yup, my much anticipated box with my April kit and add-ons plus a few other goodies I got in the last chance sale arrived on my porch today.

April Studio Calico BoxIsn't it beautiful? Sigh.

Add to that the new sketch that went up in my Sketchbook 4 class today, and I was dying to jump in and start playing. But, I forced myself to set it aside until after I'd finished up my Project Life layout for the week. Incentive to plow through it quickly :)

Project Life Blog BannerThis week is just one page. I'm not sure if that was a result of a quiet week or laziness on my part in avoiding a 2-page spread this week. Either way... here's this week's layout:

Project Life 2012 Week 14
I used a template from Karla Dudley's Life Templates 2 set for the base of the page (which I tweaked), and Build it Up by Agnes Biro for the chevron stips - they're masks. Everything else is from Gennifer Bursett:

Faded journalers for the "this week" card, Writers Block Weekly for the dates, Sarcastically Said for the "seriously" arrow (that's an awesome set, and it's free!), Let Them Eat Cake for the papers and birthday elements, Ever After for the doily, Toolbox Mist V.2 for the misted edge around the page, To Date for the "details" frame, Writers Block Torn Journaling Pages for the background on the "Details" box, Favorite Things 2 for the alphabet, and Up to Date Part 2 for the flowers. Whew!

And now I can play with my SC box. Woohoo!

Happy Easter!

I took a little time this weekend to just relax and get some rest. I had really wanted to do more with my scrapbooking classes, but it's all good. Sleep is important and I really needed it!

I did finally see the Hunger Games this weekend and I loved it. Now I need to read the other books. I just have to figure out a day when I can sit down one evening and read all of the next book. Because I know myself too well to think that I can read it over multiple days. Won't happen. lol.

I also... FINALLY... started organizing all of the stuff that's been sitting in my guest room after my scrap attic purge. I'm putting together boxes of goodies to get ready to sell. I think I'm going to do it by brand - not what I was planning, but I think it will work out better in the end. So I'm making progress.

Today, I had a lovely surprise when I left the house to go to church. A sweet little bouquet of flowers hanging on my front door. There was no note, but I'm pretty sure it was my visiting teacher - she tends to be thoughtful like that. Me? Not so much. Sad but true.

Surprise Easter FlowersThey look just lovely on my coffee table... nice and springy!

This year I made myself a little Easter basket, just for fun. I probably won't eat most of it, but it looks nice!

Easter BasketAnd I even did a full Easter dinner, with lots of tasty leftovers for later this week. I did a Boar's Head ham (not a whole one... WAY too much for me!) with a honey, brown sugar, and mustard glaze that was delicious. I also made a spring vegetable risotto. I busted out Anne Burrell's Cook Like a Rock Star cookbook for her instructions on making a no-recipe risotto. They were the clearest directions I've read (I especially loved the part where she tells you to add the butter and parmesan and then prepare yourself to beat the hell out of the rice. Ha!) and it was probably my most successful risotto to date.

Easter DinnerI did two parts arborio rice and one part bulgur wheat to get some whole grains in there. For the veggies, I used fresh chick peas which I shelled just before cooking (they had some at the store - I rarely see them, but I love them!) and some asparagus and brussels sprouts that I roasted and just added at the end. It was delish.

Although I mostly stayed out of my scrap attic this weekend, I did finally finish a layout that I started on Friday morning after another bout with insomnia (argh) - this is from the 3rd sketch in Kelly Purkey's Sketchbook 4 class over at Studio Calico.

Eggcited - Sketchbook 4 No3I used some papers from the Amy Tangerine Sketchbook line as well as some scraps that I had just sitting around and some much older stuff from my stash like those old Making Memories metal borders and the flower stickers.

IMG_1363I actually found myself pulling out some sentiment stamps using a technique I learned in the scrapbook stamping workshop. I love it when stuff like that starts to show up in my scrapping - really makes it worth having taken the class (still working on that one.)

IMG_1364Speaking of stamping... you can see how the background paper isn't laying flat... that's because I stamped and heat embossed the entire sheet. I did tone-on-tone stamping using the Hero Arts doily background stamp in white ink with white embossing powder. It's hard to see in the photo, but if you look closely above you can see it by the title. It's pretty obvious in person, though. It adds a nice sense of texture and a little extra detail.

IMG_1366This was a fun one - nice and bright and fun to scrap some Easter pictures!

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter :)

Sketch No 2 and a new polenta recipe

First up, it's been a while since I posted a new recipe, so I thought I'd share what I cooked for dinner tonight. A while ago I picked up a new cookbook called Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck. I think it was featured in the cookbook review feature in an issue of Cooking Light. Given that it was described as a book featuring farro, wheat berries, quinoa and polenta (and we know all about my ongoing love affair with polenta), there was no question that I'd get this cookbook. I quite enjoy paging through it, drooling over every photo and recipe. And of course, the first one I picked to cook involved polenta (polenta lasagna anyone? Still one of my all time favorites).

Rosemary and Artichoke Tart with Polenta CrustIt's kind of like a quiche only not. I'm not going to post the whole recipe (sorry Melissa!) because it's just too long... but it's not a quick meal. However, you can prepare the polenta ahead of time and the rest of it is a snap. It does take a while to cook and set, though. But it's DELICOUS. As a main dish it serves 4, and a serving is 10 points plus on Weight Watchers (if you use non-fat Greek yogurt as I did). While it was cooking, I just sat and inhaled... rosemary and goat cheese wafting through the air. Sigh.

The crust is 1 1/4C regular polenta (not instant) cooked in a mix of water (1 1/4C) and chicken broth (1 1/2C) with 1/4 tsp fine sea salt. Then you add 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2C grated parmesan cheese and an egg (room temp so it doesn't cook when you mix it in).You cook the polenta for 10 minutes, stirring every two. Remove from the heat and let it sit another 10. Add the cheese, pepper and egg and let it sit for 15.

The filling is 1C greek yogurt, 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary, 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, scallions (which I left out. yuck.), salt and pepper, 2 eggs and 12oz of quartered artichoke hearts. The recipe calls for frozen, which I would use with great delight if they were available anywhere in the state of Utah. Instead I used jarred - I just drained them really well. Also 2oz of crumbled goat cheese and 1/2C of grated parmesan. You layer the polenta in the oiled pan and make a well - it's a VERY thick crust - about 3/4" around the edges. You let the crust sit about 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 375. Then arrange the artichokes in a circle from the outside to the center in the crust, sprinkle the goat cheese over top, pour the yogurt, herb, and egg mixture on top (carefully so it doesn't overflow) and then sprinkle the parm on top and bake 40 minutes. Then you have to let it rest a minimum of 20 minutes on a rack after it cooks so it all settles. But it's worth it.

Okay, I guess I typed the recipe up after all. lol. But the cookbook is awesome. I'm sure there will be more from there soon...

And on to the layout! I had a super nasty bout of insomnia last night, so I was up at 3:30am today trying to do anything to tire myself out and go back to bed. Nothing worked, so I got up and got ready for work and then started working on sketch #2 from Kelly's Sketchbook 4 class. I finished it tonight after a late dinner while I listened to Colorado get eliminated from the playoffs. Ouch. (Not unexpected, however.)

Grand Mosque - Sketchbook 4 No2
Here's a shocker for you... I didn't use a single thing from a Studio Calico kit on this one. I know! I have tons of other stuff I need to use so I'm trying to do that, even though it's an SC class (although April's kit comes next week, and it's a good one!)

Grand Mosque - Sketchbook 4 No2b
This is from my visit to Abu Dhabi last year. We didn't get to stop and go into the mosque (still bummed about that - it was magnificent!) but we got into the city early enough to stop for a few minutes and take pictures from the side of the freeway before we went on to our business visit at the US Embassy. Such an incredible building! And so striking in the middle of the desert with that bright blue sky behind it.

Grand Mosque - Sketchbook 4 No2cI used the Moroccan background from the Silhouette store and then cut pieces out so it wasn't a solid 12x12 and then glued it down. I used one of the inside pieces as a template and cut a few pieces out of scraps to fill in some of the open spaces.

Grand Mosque - Sketchbook 4 No2d
The papers are all scraps from when I made my Scrapbook on the Road for my FBE last year... Making Memories, Basic Grey, TPC Studios, DCWV... and more of my favorite jeweled fabric brads from Basic Grey. Those never fail to make me happy just looking at them, let alone actually using them!

Grand Mosque - Sketchbook 4 No2e
I decided to also use this to fill a challenge on the SC community - the stash buster challenge series. For this one, we had to use 2 photos, washi tape, 3 round items of some kind (brads), a color item (ink) and a stamped image. So I used my Papertrey Ink Mendhi Medallion set (the original small one) to stamp a few small images. I also added a few bits of gold airmail washi tape. I've had that ribbon forever and I'm so glad I finally used it! The Thickers are Amy Tangerine and they're super cool.

With that, I don't think I'm going to have trouble sleeping tonight, so I'm off to bed. Happy Friday!

Skype and Sketchbook 4

First, I have to say that I love technology. It was so fun to come home from work last night and get on Skype with my iPad so I could be there for my dad's birthday party 2000 miles away.

Dad's Birthday by Skype
It was fun to sing along and watch him blow out the candles and open presents, as well as see what everyone else was doing. Eraleigh kept trying to show me her belly, there were dance moves, and I got to see Aubrey pick up a big slice of cake like it was a sandwich and just scarf the sucker. It was lots of fun (Happy Birthday Dad!)

Second, this week I started another online class - Sketchbook 4 with Kelly Purkey over at Studio Calico. We got the first sketch on Monday and I started it, but yesterday morning I did something to tweak the arthritis in one of my knees and by the end of the day I could hardly walk so instead of scrapping, I spent the evening cuddled up to a heating pad while I watched shows on my DVR. But relaxing is good... and today it's much better than yesterday! I think it was the uno de gato that I put on it this morning - a salve I got from a shaman in the Amazon. lol. I swear it works!

Anyway, tonight I was able to finish the layout for sketch #1 - using a few cute photos of all the kids together.

Cousins - Sketchbook 4 Sketch 1
Everything is from the Studio Calico Story Hour kit and addons - I've pretty much demolished that kit, but I've really loved it... especially the stamps!

Cousins - Sketchbook 4 Sketch 1b
I stamped the journaling - this was to for an assignment from the Scrapbook Stamping workshop I'm still working on.

Cousins - Sketchbook 4 Sketch 1c
And that's it! The second sketch went up today and I can't wait to play with it. But for now, my knee might be feeling better but my head is killing me, so I'm calling it quits and going to get some Aleve and turn my heating pad back on!

Project Life Week 13

Another week flies by!

Project Life Blog Banner
This week's layout came together really quickly.

Project Life 2012 Week 13I used Tiffany Tillman's This Week template add-on set for the page layout (I flipped it for mirror images) and then all the paper and elements are from Gennifer Bursett's Favorite Things collection.

Project-Life-2012-Week-13-LNot a lot of pictures this week, but quite a bit I wanted to write. Mostly about stuff going on at work and a fun outing we had on Friday afternoon. We took a short walk over to the Grand America during lunch to visit the toy store and pastry shop. It was a lot of fun.

Project-Life-2012-Week-13-RAnd I had to show off my new sandals (picked up Friday at Target) and pedicure (Saturday mani-pedi between conference sessions) as we start to see the spring weather here in Utah. It cooled off again on Sunday, so I need to wait another day or two before it warms up enough to wear them to work. But it was so lovely to go to the salon and have my hands and feet pampered.

And those macarons? Divine. It makes me itch to get out my macaron supplies and make some this weekend. We'll see... I've got tons of stuff on my to-do list, but maybe if I make good progress that can be a reward :)

Design Your Life

So I think I'm addicted to this online class thing. I'm afraid to count how many I'm currently enrolled in... a lot. But I'm loving it and getting lots of stuff done and learning a few things too. One thing that I've been looking for however, is something that can help me be happy with my layouts on a more consistent basis.

To that end, I had thought about signing up for Cathy Zielske's Design Your Life workshop when she was doing it live on Big Picture Scrapbooking, but it just wasn't a good time since I was still in school. But this last week I found out they had a self-paced version I could sign up for. So I did... right away! I've spent some time in the last few days doing the pre-work and then going through all the information and assignments in week one. And I have lots to share!

First, the title page layout that was part of the pre-work for the course. It's supposed to be "me" on a scrapbook page, using the grid background that Cathy gave us.

I included some pictures of my favorite scrap subjects, then used a few of the techniques that I feel kind of show some of who I am as a scrapbooker (that just sounded totally cheesy, but I can't think of a better way to say it. lol.) But I like it - cheery and fun with plenty going on, but still kind of graphic.

IMG_1310Some fun pics of the kiddos, and a travel picture of me. And I LOVE that stamp - it's from the Stampin' Bella Lulu collection.

IMG_1311Believe it or not, I'm actually doing all of this in an album. It's crazy. But I think I'll have a sweet reference book when I'm done since I'm adding in the stuff she has us print out for chapter headings and stuff, and I'm inserting some of the pages from the handouts so I can refer back to them without opening the pdfs.

So pre-work done, I moved on to the first chapter. The starting point is all about symmetrical balance. For now at least, the layouts are all based on sketches from Cathy. I'm doing a little to make them more "me," but I'm sticking pretty close to it since the balance we're learning is in the foundation of the page - the size and location of the elements.

Here's the first layout I worked on:

IMG_1304I actually printed the photos on textured cardstock and I love the look. Part of me wanted to go crazy with the embellishments, but I exercised a little self-restraint for once. lol.

IMG_1306Obviously from when I was in Greece last year (I can't believe it was almost a year ago! Yikes... time is seriously flying.) The Parthenon was truly amazing and it seemed like a perfect subject to blow up in an enlargement that big.
IMG_1307I've decided that just looking at (and occasionally lovingly pulling them out to examine up close) my awesome collection of fancy brads is probably not a good idea. So I'm trying to start using them... there are quite a few in these layouts.

The second assignment for the chapter was a 2-page 8.5x11 spread.I decided to go back to Spain for this one.

IMG_1299Ah... Valor. Just thinking about the hot chocolate and churros is making me drool. Just a little.

IMG_1301All of us gathered around the table knocking back giant plates of churros... that was a somewhat frequent occurance during our stay in Madrid. Everything there was open really late, so we ended up there at night after whatever we had been doing that day. The first time was after the flamenco show, when I was starving because the paella was way too fishy for me to eat around the seafood. But I digress.

IMG_1302I used the Studio Calico Story Hour kit / add-ons plus a few brads and some Prima Say-it-in-Studs. This layout doubled for a challenge over on the Studio Calico community to make a layout from a kit plus at least two additional supplies from my stash. I'm digging it.

IMG_1303And now I'm suddenly really hungry.

Moving on...

The last layout for tonight was for the Real World Color assignment. Cathy put together a color palette based on a print ad for carpet - the colors were yellow, orange, brown, and blue. There was also a sketch to go with them. I took a bit more liberty with this sketch... it's mostly true to the original, but I nudged things around a bit.

Gabby GirlI'm still trying to figure out how Aubrey has already picked up that holding the phone with your shoulder move. She's not even 2! Cute, though. That first picture cracks me up.

Gabby girl meme(I did say I wouldn't be able to resist making more of those things... I just can't help it!)

IMG_1314This is another layout that doubles for a challenge over on Studio Calico. This time it was to make a layout with the oldest intact kit you have. This one was mostly still together... from the Summer Camp kit a while ago. The colors worked great with the color palette for the DYL assignment.

Oh, and that last picture is what happens when you take the phone away from Aubrey. lol.

IMG_1315Whew. That's a lot! But I'm thrilled with how much I was able to get done, and I feel like I learned a few things too.

And did I mention I have two more new classes starting tomorrow? Kelly Purkey's Sketchbook 4 and a class by Kerri Bradford on using the Silhouette Studio software. I think I'll learn some great stuff in that one to really use my Cameo to the fullest. It's possible that I've bitten off more than I can chew, but we'll see how it goes. My goal now is to not sign up for more classes until I finish a few! I think I can handle that :)