Quick Update!

I have a few projects and updates that I haven't gotten around to posting here yet, so I'm doing a very quick round-up post...

First up, a few art journal pages that I did last month. The smaller book is a vintage physics book I found at the used bookstore and I've been working on top of the pages. I used the September StencilGirl StencilClub stencils on this page. The page on the right uses the Moroccan Doily stencil, acrylic paint, and lots of Liquid Pearls.

Sept Art Journal PagesNext up, I got the chance to go to see the Black Keys in concert last month at the United Center with my friend Mary. It was SO amazing!!!

Black Keys in Concert

Then I got to play around a bit with some new stencils by Nathalie Kalbach - I used Elephant Parade and Art Deco Wallpaper to do a page in my planner / art journal.

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This last weekend I got out my sewing machine to make a little travel paintbrush holder for my upcoming mixed media classes in Connecticut (there are still some openings in my classes for anyone who's interested and on the fence!) I really just wanted an excuse to buy this awesome Cloud9 dragon fabric. lol. No pattern - I made it up based on some that I've seen. It's not perfect, but it's functional!

IMG_3905A very cool and flattering thing... for those of you who don't already follow him, Seth Apter has a weekly blog series where he highlights various blog posts - it's called the Week Links. This week he featured my post on StencilGirl Talk making the coptic bound books we'll be doing in my class on the 18th. I'm so excited to be included! Awesome inspiration if you haven't checked it out...

Another art journal page... more playing with the October StencilClub stencils! Love them this month... (and if you aren't in the club, if you sign up before the 15th, this is the set you'll start with :D) I had a background of acrylic paint and then used molding paste for the large circles (shaded with PanPastels) and then Wendi Vecchi gold embossing paste for the small circles. Various letter stickers for the message in the center.

October Stencil Art Journal Page

I started a few new classes, including the Paint Mojo eCourse with Tracy Verdugo (I'm already more than 2 weeks behind. sigh.) and my beginning drawing class at SAIC started this week. I haven't been drawing or sketching lately, so this should be a good jump start!

And last but not least, for those who haven't heard but who have been asking about it, I opened a shop at Society6 where you can buy prints, phone cases, decals, totes, stationary cards, and other stuff made from some of my art. I only have some of my doodle / Zentangle pieces up right now, but I may add paintings or other things later if it goes well. For those who are interested, right now there's a free shipping promo that goes through Oct. 12th.

Gwen Lafleur - Society6 Shop Opening

Whew! It's been crazy lately... and that's not even getting into how busy things have been at work! But it's all good, and more fun times and projects on the horizon!


April Mixed Media at the Clubhouse

We had our monthly Mixed Media Club at Papercraft Clubhouse two weeks ago, and I had such a fun surprise when I walked in!

Mixed Media Club 2

Mixed Media Club 4
It was a surprise going away party for me! I was so touched... they had really gone all out! We had delicious snacks and treats from Patty, Tracie, and Carol who brought this insane chocolate bomb.

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We started the official part of our meeting by sharing things that we've done with techniques we've learned since we started the club almost a year ago.

Mixed Media Club 1
Mixed Media Club 1And Tracie taught us a really fun resist technique using glue sticks with stamps and stencils.

IMG_2986Here are the samples I made in between snacking and shopping:

IMG_2990We also got to play a bit with some samples of Dina Wakely's new paint... it's really cool! I got a little carried away and accidentally covered up some of my resist on the pink and yellow tag, but I came home and wrote the directions in my book along with my tags so I can try it again - it was a lot of fun and definitely something that I'll be doing again!

I'm really going to miss these monthly meetings! I'll be looking for something in Chicago, but I'm sure I won't find a group half so wonderful! A huge thank you to everyone, especially Tracie and Patty! I'll have to keep an eye on airfares so I can come back and visit :)


Two new layouts and some recent photos

I've been feeling the urge to scrapbook again lately and I've done a few new layouts. The first is using a few pictures from my first trip to Chicago. I really wanted to use that background paper - the city with the river running through it reminded me of the city, so I added some vellum to lift the photos up off the background a bit.

Chicago
I used a mix of old and new embellishments to finish it off.

Chicago Close-up 1
Chicago Close-up 1
And the second layout, one I just did tonight using a cute photo of Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh and Adorable-Nephew-William.

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They just got new haircuts - William is looking so grown up with his new 'do!

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And a few photos from two weeks ago - Francesca came for a short visit, and then I had an equally short trip out to Chicago to speak at a workshop hosted by one of the vendors I work with.

Lighthouse Point in New Haven:

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Stony Creek and the Thimble Islands in Branford:

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My hotel room at the W Chicago:

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That's it! I have all of my photos printed for August / September Project Life, just haven't gotten around to finishing the pages. I also have some art journal pages and a canvas still to share... hopefully I'll get to that before I head out for my Dyan Reavley classes this weekend :)


Decorative Doodling with Joanne Sharpe

On Saturday afternoon two weeks ago, I got a text from my friend Patty letting me know she'd found out that Joanne Sharpe was going to be teaching at a store in Massachusetts (Absolutely Everything.) There were two spots left in one of the classes and she wanted to know if I was interested in making a day of it. Of course! I've followed Joanne online for a few years now (I'm signed up for one of her online classes, but typical me, I haven't made it past the 2nd lesson yet) so I was excited to get to take a class with her.

So, last Saturday, Patty and I met up and drove up to the store. It was a bit short of a 3 hour drive - it's a little south of the New Hampshire border.

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Almost there
Neither of us had ever been there before, but wow. What a store! The owner showed us around and let us know what everyone was buying from the previous classes so we would know what to look for and of course, so we could see if we wanted anything before-hand. I could seriously get lost in that place... they had so much! It was like a piece of nirvana for my artsy, mixed-media loving heart. Next time I'm there, I'll have to take pictures. Sigh.

But on to the class...

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Supplies at the ready
Patty and I weren't sure what to expect... I'd found a class description and supply list online, so we came with bags of markers and pens and watercolors. We got the Strathmore Visual Journal watercolor notebook with the class. As it turns out, we barely touched our pens and markers! (That freaked me out a lot at first. lol.)

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Initial demo
Joanne started out with some general doodling concepts and rules of thumb... you can tell she's a teacher by trade. She did a lot of demonstration. I was super impressed by the fact that she had a handout numbered with the 12 concepts for the class, and then samples for each of them that were also numbered so we could take pictures and then match them up to the handout when we got home. On top of that, she demonstrated each of them for us.

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Paint Doodling Demo
We were doodling with watercolors and acrylic paints and Viva Silks... the pens and markers were more for accents! This class was WAY outside of my comfort zone, but in a good way. I started almost all of the assignments in the class, took notes, took LOTS of photos, and decided to withhold judgment on what looked like a bunch of blobby crap until I'd finished them all at home.

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Patty and I with Joanne
Joanne was super nice, and flattered that we'd driven all that way just for a single class. We just wished we'd known about it sooner so we could have made a weekend of it! (We're on the newsletter list now!) Granted, we were there for less time than we were driving... lol, but between the class and the store itself, it was more than worth it.

We got back late, but even though it was well after midnight, I unpacked all my stuff and set it up to be ready to play after church on Sunday. Then Sunday, I proceeded to work through the assignments.

It blew.my.mind. Those blobby pieces of crap turned out really nicely! I was totally shocked to realize that I could do something that looked even similar to her samples. Here are two of the pages from my book showing some of the 12 techniques:

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Finishing Assignments
I can't claim credit for the designs - I was working based off of her samples to see if I could do the techniques. But now that I've done these, I can definitely apply them to my own drawings! The left is using Twinkling H2Os as an accent to watercolored doodling, and the right is pen, marker, and watercolor.

And here's a doodle I did that was inspired by one of hers - I wanted to try something Zentangle but in a looser style than usual. I love this one!

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - After Class Feather Doodle

The class was only a week ago, but I've been in a creative frenzy ever since. This class, combined with what I learned in Donna Downey's workshops, and other videos, browsing, classes, etc... have all started to gel in my mind and I've got so much adrenaline pumping lately!

Next post... some of the fun stuff I've been doing in my art journal as I play with all these techniques.


What have I been up to?

I knew it had been a while since I last posted, but when I looked at the date I figured I'd better get something up here before so much time goes by that I don't want to try and get caught up!

First up, last month I went down to NYC to meet up with Angela and some of her friends for a trip to the Renegade Craft Fair. Super fun! Hot, though. We finished it up with some delicious Chinese food in Flushing. Yum.

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Next up, I'm still tangling... a few more of the projects I've worked on over the last few weeks.

Zentangle Colored Rays - Gwen Lafleur
Zentangle Leaves 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Zentangle Leaves 1 - Gwen Lafleur
I was going to fill in all of the hexagons on that last one, but I liked the look and the vote on Instagram was unanimous to keep some spaces empty. So there it is!

I also went down to DC to see my family over the 4th. Many photos to edit... I'm feeling good that I got them off of my camera! We went to the pancake breakfast and parade at the church, played in the water at home, took Eraleigh to see Despicable Me 2 for her 5th birthday, grilled and had fireworks, a day at King's Dominion, and then just relaxing at my parents' house. It was a much needed break and so good to see everyone.

Sparklers
Then most recently, our Mixed Media Meet-up at the Papercraft Clubhouse was learning to use the Melting Pot. This was my favorite project - we took patterned tissue, stained it, and then dipped it in UTEE (ultra-thick embossing enamel) to make these really cool leaf embellishments. I need to make more!

Melt Art Project 1
Then this last week, I took a day off and Angela came up so we could go to ConnectiCon in Hartford. We felt a little old, and a bit out of place (I didn't really notice, though...) but we were there to see Brandon Sanderson (fellow BYU Alum! We were there at the same time, actually.) We got to meet him at his booth doing autographs and again that evening at a Q&A (we may have been in the front row. Nerds!) We also browsed the shopping floor and some of the different rooms to see what they had. Needless to say, the people watching was fabulous! We spent the entire day trying to guess who people were dressed up as. We didn't recognize very many costumes - lots of anime and game characters. But still fun.

Here's me with Brandon Sanderson - I got to wear a mist cloak too (goes with his Mistborn series of books, which is seriously brilliant.)

Wearing a Mistcloak - Meeting Brandon Sanderson
The day was lots of fun, and inspired me to finally read the last book in the Wheel of Time series, which Brandon finished writing. I just finished it today - I couldn't stop reading. It was excellent but at the same time, I'm finally glad to have reached the ending! 14 books, most over 800 pages. Good stuff. But now I can move on to read the rest of Brandon's books - several of which I already own and are sitting in that to-read pile. And since it's so hot lately, reading is about all I have the energy to do after work, so I'm starting to make a dent in said pile!

Anyway, that's what's been up... and now I'm off to bed!


28 Days of Love... quick update

So I'm trying not to get a full 14 days behind this time... lol. So I did a few more pages in my album. I also realized that I skipped a layout last week.

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There weren't any Bright Ideas class challenges on these pages, so just 28 Days challenges. Left was someone I didn't know 10 years ago (photo and journaling on a tag that pulls out of the pocket) and on the right was something I do every day (I picked "go to work" which I'm sure seems weird, but it's totally true!)

Now for the 4 catch-up pages (I'm still a few behind, but it's better than nothing!)

Days 15-16:

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On the left, the prompt was someone I spend time with - I picked my nieces. They're hysterical and so fun. For the Bright Ideas challenge, it was to create texture - I used gold mica paste and modeling paste with a mask to add a little texture to the background, plus used the sketch from the challenge.

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The right side was "my favorite color" (turquoise / sapphire / peacock blue) so I used a picture showing how often I use it in my house. The Bright Ideas challenge was around using grids.

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Then days 17-18:

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The left was "something I listen to" and for the Bright Ideas challenge, I used a mask and the same stamp repeated over and over. I really like the effect - I'll have to do that again! The right side was "I love happy mail" so I used a photo of the stack of boxes that came from UPS after they were able to get back through after the blizzard (3 of those were household items from Amazon. Not really too fun, but after a blizzard it was all exciting!) The Bright Ideas challenge was to use a large photo (on a 4x4 page that wasn't hard) and I used the class sketch.

And meanwhile... it's been a crazy-busy week at work. We've been in scrum training all week. While I've done it before at previous jobs, it's brand new to most everyone else I work with. The trainer we brought in was very good and this was a lot more fun than what I've done before, I also learned a lot - filled in a few holes. We got to play with Legos a lot to practice the sprint process. Eventually, we built an entire Lego Skate Park. It was lots of fun.

Scrum Training Lego Town
Last night we went to BAR in New Haven for a group dinner - yummy salad and pizza and just a fun evening hanging out. Tonight after we finished training, our little team went to this awesome Indian restaurant that's just a few blocks from my house (Darbar). I've wanted to go for a while and I'm glad we did - it was delicious!

I had chicken Korma - medium spice. It was very good...

Darbar - Chicken Korma
Of course, Ryan decided he wanted to go spicy, so he ordered the Chicken Vindaloo Spicy - the server was like, that's very hot. Are you sure? And he was. So I had my camera ready for his first taste...

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(I really enjoy that Ryan hams it up for the camera.)

Ryan tries chicken vindaloo part 2
He was so disappointed... he even felt a little jipped... it wasn't that spicy! We all tried it, and I don't think it was any spicier than mine. But we all loved our food and had a good time. It was nice to unwind after 3 straight days of intense training. I'm looking forward to getting back to normal tomorrow :)


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Sorry I've been a little MIA lately... I got called on it tonight by my dad. Oops! But things have been a little busy, as usual! I'll come back at some point and post a few photos from Thanksgiving with my family down in Virginia, but in the meantime, it's time to start posting about my favorite time of the year. The Christmas season!

This year again, I'm doing a December Daily. For a while I wasn't sure if I would, even though I'd ordered some kit stuff and signed up for the class at Studio Calico. But the mojo I started to get back working on my Project Life mini album is holding, so here I am!

Starting out, here's my cover. I went a little crazy, and it's a contrast with the inside, which will be much simpler. But I love it, and the mix of styles is totally *me.*

December Daily 2012 Cover
I was really inspired by the style of art journaling by Finnabair and used some of that as I made the cover. And some of it is just typical of me. I used the 4x6 album from the Studio Calico kit, gessoed the cover, and then went to town with a stencil (Crafter's Workshop) and some modeling paste to get the stars. Then I used several layers of mist, copper paint, mod podge, more paint, and liquid pearls. I also plastered some doilies in there and built up a few layers.

December Daily 2012 Cover Close-ups
And some Prima jewels, nestled in amongst the liquid pearls. This project reminded me yet again how much I love doing this type of thing!

Then, the title page. I kept it very plain and simple, using one of the Silhouette cut files (by Ali Edwards) from the Studio Calico 25 Days class.

December Daily 2012 Title Page

And then my entry for yesterday, 12/1:

December Daily 2012 Day 1
(I love the smaller size of the album, but it's a little hard to photograph!)

Yesterday I took an early train down to NYC and met Angela at Grand Central for our Day of Fun! We walked and talked and laughed and caught up. We went first to Bryant Park where we wandered through the stalls set up for the season, then watched the skaters and admired the gorgeous tree while we waited in line for macarons. I got pistachio and Angela got red velvet - we each sampled each others'. They were delicious! Then we walked to the Fashion District to go bead shopping. I've never seen so many bead shops, let alone 3 in a row!

December Daily 2012 Day 1a

I got the stuff to make a few necklaces, which means for the first time in well over a year, I should be posting some new jewelry!

After that, we took the Subway to her house in Queens, picked up the car and then her friend Christy, and headed to Brooklyn for some shopping. We went into some really cute boutiques, and also the Brooklyn Art Library, home of the Sketchbook Project! I signed up for this year months ago and with all the crazy I haven't started. But going in and seeing it made me excited to try getting mine done and submitted by the deadline.

December Daily 2012 Day 1b
Then we went to the real purpose of the trip - the Etsy Holiday Cavalcade. They had a bunch of Etsy sellers and some artisinal food people, and we had a great time wandering and seeing all their fun crafts. We did some Christmas shopping (and some ME shopping - a GORGEOUS necklace from AdornmentsNYC) and sampled a bit of food. There was an artisinal chocolatier who had Moroccan spiced chocolate - dark chocolate with cumin and coriander. It was weird as a dessert, but would make a fabulous sauce!

I collected cards and other fun things throughout the day and put them all in one of the glassine envelopes my kit supplies came in. Just some cardstock and washi to turn it into a page in the book, and held closed with a fun sticker I got from the Etsy table.

December Daily 2012 Day 1c
Stamping and journaling on the back of the bag...

December Daily 2012 Day 1d
I found those awesome puffy star stickers in a little boutique we stopped in. I knew they'd be perfect for this album.

December Daily 2012 Day 1e

On the way out of the craft fair, we stopped into Mast Brothers Chocolate, since it was right next to Angela's car. We walked in the door and about fell over from the awesomeness of the smell in there. They make all their chocolate on site - you can sit and watch them do it, along with the people hand wrapping each bar. I think that was possibly the best thing I've ever smelled in my life. It was divine. We wandered, and then of course got in line at their little counter of goodies for some cookies and bonbons made with their dark chocolate. (I'm not normally a dark chocolate person, but yum.)

Then we dropped off Christy and went back to Angela's house in Queens. Since we'd barely eaten all day (I didn't eat at the chocolate place), we went to a New Orleans style restaurant called Sugar Freak, where we had hushpuppies and I tried my first ever chicken and waffles. It had a bananas foster sauce and was really delicious.

Then that was it... I took the subway back to Grand Central, got some really delicious hot chocolate from Ciao Bella, and then took the train back to New Haven. Quick trip in and out, but so much fun! I can't wait to go back again to do more exploring.

Here are the pictures from yesterday's entry:

Blog - Day in New York
And now that I'm doing my December Daily, I should be popping in to update much more often! That's the plan, anyway!


Three Months

Three months ago today, I moved into my little house here in Connecticut. It's kind of crazy to me that it's only been three months... it seems like so much longer to me! I think it's because I felt so settled here so quickly... normally I wouldn't be this comfortable in such a short period of time. I feel like it's all just confirmation that I made the right choice to come here. Don't get me wrong... it hasn't all been sunshine and roses. I've had some ups and downs, especially over the last few weeks as I went through a few growing pains. As comfortable and fun as it's been overall, there has still been a bit of an adjustment. But on the whole, it's been awesome.

Since I moved here, I haven't spent a whole lot of time in my craft room. But I really wanted to try and get my inspiraton and motivation back and start working on projects again. I've done a few things here and there, but nothing consistent. In an attempt to get myself going, I uploaded a ton of photos to Persnickety Prints and had them printed and shipped to me several weeks ago. I decided I wanted to switch from digital Project Life and go to something that's more *me.* I've realized that the mini album format appeals to me the most, but after I got the prints, I just started to feel totally overwhelmed and I kept stalling each time I tried to pull it out. Then I remembered that a few months ago I'd signed up for the Divide and Conquer class at 2 Peas - a class on making mini albums with divided page protectors. Since that's the main format I wanted to use, I pulled the out the class handouts and started going through them. It broke everything down for me in a way that helped me stop being so overwhelmed, and I'm excited to be making progress!

Mini PL Album Progress
I've been working on and off this week... so far I've gotten all of the photos organized and placed in the album roughly where I want them (more than 3 months worth!), put in all the memorabilia I've collected, and now I'm going back through and adding the journaling. Next I'll add in patterned paper and then go through again and embellish. I'm having fun again! I'm also really looking forward to the finished product. But I think the best part of the project has been going back through the photos starting with my interviews in July and realizing how blessed I've been and recognizing how much awesome stuff has happened in such a short time. It's been super cathartic.

Anyway. I'll post the album after I finish it.

In the meantime... having a bit more fun this week. It's actually been pretty jam-packed as everyone here is getting ready for the holidays. We've had a few celebrations at work - a surprise baby shower for one of the girls I work with and also a birthday party for Craig. His birthday isn't until after Thanksgiving, but he's going to be out of town so we wanted to make sure we celebrated before he left. We had a department party at work - bacon themed, of course, and ordered Chinese food (delicious!). Then last night Cassi, Steve, Ryan and I took him to dinner at a fabulous Italian place here in town.

Birthday Dinner at Pasta Cosi
I splurged on steak with gorgonzola sauce and truffled potatoes. Soooo good. This place is definitely going on our repeat list!

It was also fun this last week to reconnect with my friend Angela (we were good friends in Virginia but haven't seen each other for years!) - I didn't know I knew anyone close by, but she's down in New York... we're already making plans to meet up in the next few weeks to have a play day. I can't wait! And I'm also finally starting to meet people at church, and I'm looking forward to broadening my circle here.

Anyway. That's the update :) Here's to an awesome three months, and many more great ones to come!


And we're back!

So Hurricane Sandy wasn't fun, but I fared pretty well... it wasn't nearly as bad as it was predicted for us - at least in my town. The wind was pretty fierce and I was worried at times, but I survived with no damage, thank goodness! I was one of the lucky ones.

Since I knew there was about a 99% chance I'd be without power for my birthday, I decided to make myself a cake before I lost power. I had the stuff on hand to try out a recipe I'd found on Pinterest - it was a vanilla bean butterscotch bundt cake with a caramel sauce. I used my small pan and halved the recipe since I didn't want a lot of cake on hand.

Birthday - Cake
Since I made a smaller cake, I was kind of winging it on the cooking time. I probably should have taken it out 2 minutes earlier, but it was still pretty delicious! I was really glad I had it the next day.

My birthday itself was pretty quiet... no power, the office was on generators and we decided not to go in, so I stuck around home trying to keep myself entertained. I got to talk to all of my family at some point, and opened the present from my mom that she'd brought to New York (I didn't even peek!) So that was fun. And the storm was pretty much blown out in our area, but this was the view in the backyard:

Birthday - Downed tree from hurricaneOne of the trees out back split, fell, and crashed a few feet behind my car. That was the only casualty, and you can see my next door neighbor came out and was super helpful - he brought his chain saw and cut himself some fire wood! So by the end of the day, it was clear and we had no trouble getting out the driveway.

Wednesday we were all back at work - there was still no power when I left the house, so I was happy to get a chance to charge my phone! And since my birthday had been kind of washed out, my boss had a lunch for our whole team at the office which was super nice. There was a place in town that was opened and delivered, so we had sandwiches and just sat around chatting.

That afternoon, I had another lovely surprise when I got a call from the front desk to go pick up a delivery. Look how gorgeous:

Birthday - Flowers from Steph
(Thanks again Steph! I love them!!!)

Then after work, the guys took me out for dinner. I had no idea where we were going, but Craig drove us into New Haven and they surprised me by taking me to The Istanbul Cafe for Turkish food. Yay! None of them had ever tried it, but they knew I loved it and wanted to try this place so they made sure it was open and tried to get ready for whatever was coming. lol. We had red lentil soup that was just like we were in Turkey, zucchini fritters and sigara borek to share, and they were delicious. Then we ordered a few different entrees to share.

Birthday - Turkish foodAll three of them are now converts. The kebab and chicken with okra were delicious, but the real winner was the peclican moussaka (sp?) which was eggplant in a tomato meat sauce, baked in a casserole with cheese. Amazing. Everything we had was wonderful. And because they had it on the menu and I wanted them to try it, we ordered kunefe for dessert and shared it.

Birthday - Kunefe
A cup of hot apple tea to finish it off... just perfect.

On the way out, we decided to stop at the Mochi place on the way back to the car. I'd never had it, so it was their turn to have me try something new for the first time. I tried mint chocolate chip and pistachio - so delicious! I'll definitely be doing that again. The whole night was tons of fun... they were determined to make up for my actual birthday getting wiped out by the hurricane (which was super thoughtful of them) and they definitely did - it was a fabulous night to follow a pretty great day. It didn't feel like Halloween at all, but it was a celebration for sure! (Especially when I got home that night to find I had electricity and nothing in the fridge was spoiled. Yay for happy endings!)


The Calm Before the Storm

I've found something I don't like about living in Connecticut. Sitting here on an abnormally quiet Sunday evening, worrying... stressing... trying to stave off anxiety attacks over the coming hurricane. Most of the shoreline was evacuated today which is kind of scary. I'm far enough from the actual shore that I should be okay, but that's only a partial relief. I'm sitting here, constantly worrying over whether or not I took this seriously enough. Do I have enough water? Enough food? Should I have bought more batteries or a generator or something? I probably should have refreshed the stuff in my 72-hour kit. I'm high enough that I shouldn't have to worry about flooding, but there are only so many places where I can park my car, and none of them is particularly safe. I had to settle for not parking directly under the giant maple where I usually park, and hopefully out of the way of as many trees as possible. I pulled some loose branches out of the way and picked up some junk from around the yard and stowed it in the basement, but did I leave any other potential missiles sitting out overlooked? Should I have tried to put my trashcan in the basement?

I'm managing to worry about every.possible.thing. Twenty-seven times. each.

I have a blistering headache and my stomach is in knots. I'm a pretty independent person, but this is one time when being on my own really blows. But it will be okay. Although I've never been this close to the water before, it's not my first hurricane. Unfortunately the memory of the winds slamming into the house and making me afraid the windows were going to give way at any moment isn't helping. lol.

My attempt at blogging as a distraction? Fail. Heh.

Well, since I'm here anyway, and since I haven't been around for a while, I thought I'd share a few things from the last week or so while I still have power.

Last weekend, I hopped on the train late Friday afternoon for a quick trip down to New York City to meet Mom and Nicole. Nicole wanted to come up and see some shows as her birthday present, but we couldn't get a time that would work closer to the actual date, so we planned this as a last minute trip. I had a terrible time getting into the city, but finally made it, got to the hotel near Grand Central, and managed to catch a cab to Times Square in time to catch a little dinner.

The view from our hotel while I was waiting for a cab:

New York B-day trip 1

And then our birthday desserts at the restaurant after I finally found them...

New York B-day trip 2

New York B-day trip 3

As we walked through the square on the way to the theater, we had a little treat! The Naked Cowboy!

New York B-day trip 4
Mom wanted us to go in for a photo, but this was good enough for me!

Then, onto our show for the evening - we saw Mary Poppins, which was really quite wonderful.

New York B-day trip 5
After the show we walked a bit until we could catch a cab, then went back to the hotel and just crashed!

New York B-day trip 6
Saturday morning we slept in, then got up and called and managed to get tickets to Newsies. Woohoo! We also enjoyed the view of the Empire State Building from our room:

New York B-day trip 7
So since we didn't have to go stand in line at the half-price ticket booth, we went over to the restaurants at Grand Central and had lunch at Juniors. They had good reviews on my Foodspotting app, plus Rick swears their cheesecake is the best. I had a salad, but we shared a slice of cheesecake and it was indeed delicious.

Then, off to the theater for our matinee!

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After the show, we went back and picked up mom's car and they dropped me at Grand Central before heading out to drive back home. While I was at the train station, I stopped in at the Apple store to see if I could get an appointment at the Genius bar to fix my iPod. Both my iPod and my Kindle crapped out while I was home in Virginia at the beginning of the month. I'd replaced the Kindle, and as it turned out, I had to replace the iPod too. But doing it at the Genius bar saved me a lot over buying a new one (and of course, it died after my Apple Care expired!) so I was all set and grabbed the train back to New Haven. It was a super fast trip, but it was fun - good to see mom and Nicole, and we saw two really awesome shows. I can't really say which I liked more - they were both outstanding!

In other news, I bought myself a new toy this last week. It wasn't intended to be a birthday present to myself, but it works out that way, which is probably going to be a good thing considering that my birthday will probaby be, quite literally, a wash out this year. (Ha!)

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I'd had my old 30" TV since... well, a long time. lol. Like 18 years! So I decided it was finally time to get a new one. Craig and Ryan went with me on Tuesday and we had lunch at Chipotle (Ryan's favorite) and then went to Costco to get the TV. I had narrowed it down to a few choices, and they helped me make the final decision, then we loaded this bad boy into Ryan's truck. After work Tuesday they all came over and brought it in and installed it while I made a thank-you dinner - braised short ribs and creamy parmesan-garlic polenta with yummy appetizers and stuff. It was delicious, and the TV is awesome. I'm absolutely loving it! Of course, I had to get a blu-ray to match... I feel like I'm finally out of the technology dark ages. It's lovely.

And today was Adorable-Niece-Aubrey's 2nd birthday. We had a terrible time getting my Skyped in for the party (interference from the storm killing the signal?) but finally I switched to FaceTime and that worked great... in time for me to see her devouring her cake and opening my present - I got her a hoppy ball thing that she can bounce on. She's still a little too short for it, but loves having someone set her on it and help her bounce. She had quite the birthday, and it was fun to see and chat with everyone.

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The kids always love seeing me on the video, and this time William got in on it too. They were all trying to give me kisses on the screen... so adorable. What did we do before technology got this advanced? I love how it makes it easier for our family to stay close no matter where we are.

Well, that's about it. Other than that, I've been doing laundry and cooking things to have that I can eat cold... trying to get as ready as I can for the storm. So now that I'm done with this, I think I'll go back to trying to keep myself from panicking. Hopefully everything will be okay and we'll all be safe and sound two days from now!


Project Life - Week 36

My weeks have been getting really busy after Tuesday, it seems. Lots going on... busy at work, out having fun when I can. I was super busy yesterday and have been working on and off today as I'm working on hitting a deadline for a project I've been busy with this week. But I'm still enjoying it and really like what I'm doing. It really just continues to get better which is awesome.

I had a little time this evening so I decided to knock out another catch-up Project Life layout. Here's week 36 - Labor Day week with my parents visiting for the weekend, and then a few more tidbits from the week.

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I really just used a huge mash-up of stuff from different designers, kits, shops, etc... kind of a different look this week, but change is good, right?

So now I'm only technically one week behind, although this is the end of week 38 so hopefully this next week I can do the last 2 weeks and catch up. Wouldn't that be nice? I've been playing with paper a bit too, so hopefully I can post something soon.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with my favorite photo from this last week:

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We went out to a taco bar here in town on Thursday night and were having fun with the cameras on our phones - we were all looking each other up on Instagram and following each other, taking pictures, etc... Craig declared no faces for this one but I just love that Ryan was peeking. lol.

Oh. and the tacos were pretty good, but overpriced. I was glad we tried it, though... we had a great time too :)


So much for that.

Yeah, more than two days in a row just wasn't going to happen. lol. Not that I wasn't planning to go for it, but I got derailed. I'll share more on that in a minute, but first... another layout I managed to finish tonight. This is week 34 - my first week at my new job and unpacking the house. Not a lot of photos, but plenty going on!

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All of the digital elements are from Design House Digital - there's a big mix of kits here, so you can see all of them linked in my gallery post.

And as for how I got derailed? Well last Wednesday we were going to have a little team meeting - just lunch and work off-site for about 2 hours. But then my boss decided that we needed to go full-on off-site so we took off at lunch to change clothes. We each picked up a few things at the store and met at his house, which happens to be right on the water. It was gorgeous. Craig bar-b-qued some steak tips and asparagus that we had with bread and Irish butter. That was lunch. Ryan and I worked on stuff on the easel while he cooked, but we were all chipping in. We got a lot done and had great food and worked some more. Then Craig cooked up some pork tenderloin and baked potatoes. Then we worked some more and took frequent breaks to pull out our phones and take pictures of the sunset. At one point I got a picture of both of them taking pictures - it was funny. And gorgeous.

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Then Craig snapped this one of Ryan and I finishing up for the night.

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This doesn't suck.

So after I got home, it was almost 8 and I was pretty done. We'd worked all afternoon and evening, but also had a great time. We all get along really well and just have fun together which is awesome.

Then Thursday night we went out after work to a place that's been on our list for a while - a wine bar down by the water called Ballou's that also has a great menu. I had a cranberry spritzer and we sampled several things from the menu.

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(Since it was Thursday, Cassi was in town and another girl from the team joined us as well). I have to say, the bacon mac 'n cheese was pretty tasty, but the real winner of the night was the chicken, bacon, gorgonzola pizza. That stuff rocked. Then Craig, Ryan, Cassi and I headed across the street to a bar we really enjoy - comfy chairs on a screened porch, and my favorite Shirley Temple in town (they don't stint on the grenadine!) We hung out there for a while and Cassi took off, then we stuck around a bit longer before going next door to Lenny's to catch a little football. By the time we called it a night, it was 11. But it was a blast.

Friday, well the whole weekend really. No excuse. lol. I just slept and ran errands and puttered around in the kitchen. I'm still having trouble getting back into the mood to scrapbook. Maybe eventually.

Today we were back at Craig's for another afternoon off-site.

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It was high tide when we got there so before it went out, I went down to stick my feet in the water. I couldn't resist and it felt so good! The weather today was stunningly perfect. And we got stuff done!

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We got to a good stopping point so we put the bacon mac 'n cheese I had made into the oven to get hot and bubbly and toast the breadcrumbs, and Craig had some killer sausage smoking on the grill. So since the tide had gone back out, Ryan and I went down to the beach and walked down to the end of the quay where we had some fabulous views.

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The pictures don't do it justice. We both looked at each other and were like, kind of hard to believe we actually live here, huh? (All three of us are transplants.)

After that we got a bit more work done, but then the food was ready and we were hungry (and it was like 6pm) so we sat down to a killer dinner. The sausage was amazing - there were like 4 kinds (with grilled peppers to go with) and then both guys got super excited over my mac and cheese. Maybe even a little happy dancing. I love cooking for people who love food... it makes it so fun! And all of us definitely appreciate food.

But we finally cleaned up and packed it in so here I am... trying to get myself back on track. I'm only 3 weeks behind! For now. lol.


Project Life and Karaoke with the Peanuts

Here we are again! The year is just zipping right on by.

Another one-pager this week, although I probably should have / could have stretched it to two. But it's all good. I'm liking this one - I mixed a ton of different kits on this one and didn't even use a template!

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Lots of recent stuff from Gennifer Bursett on this one - Summer Girl, When Skies are Grey, Elemental Snippy Alpha, Elemental frames. I also used more of the Summer Girl part 1 kit from Celeste Knight.

Also, pictures on here from Saturday night out with the Peanuts. We met Brandon at the Karaoke Cafe for a few hours of fun and humiliation (not mine, however. I didn't sing. lol.) Good times.

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Brent, Shawn and Chad doing "Ice Ice Baby". Here come the dance moves...

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I wish I'd gotten a good one of Brent doing the sprinkler, but I wasn't fast enough. Shanna and Jana got up to dance in the back, and then another lady from a group we didn't know jumped up with them and really got down. She was awesome - at one point she ran over and shoved some expired Kohl's cash in Chad's pocket - it was pretty funny.

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Here's the group... Courtney, Chad, Shawn (I was sitting next to Shawn, Laura was next to Courtney - she and I were taking pictures... Brent was on stage doing Black Sabbath which was a riot). The back table was Mindy and Darren with Kenzie and her friend, and Brandon, Shanna and Jana.

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After a few hours at the karaoke place, we headed over to the Cheesecake Factory for a late dinner. We got a big table out on the patio and enjoyed a perfect evening while we just chatted and munched.

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(total diet killer, but so good!)

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It was a lot of fun, as always! We're looking forward to getting together again soon :)


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.

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Here's this week's spread:

Project Life 2012 Week 17
Left side:

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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.

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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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Project Life Week 3

Well, I've made it three weeks now, and given the state of my craft room, I'm really exited that I was able to force myself to step away from the reorganizing project to work on something else! This was kind of a big week for me as you can see below...

Project Life 2012 Week 3 Edited

I broke away from the standard template this week, and I like it. I also had a ton to share, so I needed to customize it a bit anyway.

On the left side is my big news:

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I accepted an offer with a company in Salt Lake and I'm starting my new job on February 1st. This was both a long time in coming and unexpected. I'm going to go work for a friend / former co-worker from Ancestry who's been working on recruiting me for the last few months. At first I wasn't all that interested, but we got to talking and it developed slowly although for a while, I didn't think anything would come of it. Last month things kind of jumped forward all of a sudden and then we got to the final stages of the process two weeks ago and then last week I got the verbal offer, followed by the official offer letter. I hadn't planned on jumping companies again so soon - I feel like a bit of a jerk for leaving after only 7 months, but this is the reason I went back for my MBA, and it's too good of an opportunity to pass up.

I'm going in at the director level, and I'm nervous and excited. Excited because it's a great company, great product, great people and an opportunity to really use my education and experience. Nervous because an offer this good has responsibilities and expectations to match. But I'm up for the challenge. The only thing I'm not sure I'm up for is the commute... lol. I'm not really driving any further distance-wise, but the traffic is much worse heading into the city. I'm sure I'll get used to it soon enough :) And the location right in the center of the city has a lot to recommend it. Should be fun!

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On the left side of the page, you can see the "before" and "during" collages of the Great Craft Attic Overhaul. It took almost a week just to get the room mostly cleaned out, and I'm slowly putting it back together. It gets overwhelming, but one of the things Julie said to do in her posts was to make a list of the top 10 supplies you use the most, followed by the second 10 most used. I added a 3rd, and I use it as a check-list to help me decide what to work on next when looking at all of this stuff spread everywhere makes me want to hide in a corner and cry for a while. (I can't even count the number of times the phrase "what was I thinking?!?!" has crossed my mind in the last week.)

I posted before pictures of the room last week... here are a few of what my upstairs looked like at one point in the last few days. I think it got slightly worse, but now it's starting to get a bit better. The piles are being swapped out for slightly smaller ones of things I'm going to sell or donate. That's another project I don't want to think about right now, however. Because it's going to be another big one. Sigh.

Craft Attic During Organizing

That one on the bottom right was after I finished taking stuff out. All the stuff still in there I organized in the room and then hauled out what I'm getting rid of (I cut down my paper by more than HALF!!!). I also rearranged the furniture and stuff. Going from corner to corner like above was one of the problems... I couldn't access some of that stuff so I've changed that. I lose a little room, but I gain a much more accessible and peaceful setup. It's going to be awesome if I ever finish! I didn't anticipate that it would take this long. I should have... but it's probably for the best that I didn't realize it until it was too late. lol.

Finally, Saturday night we had a little farewell party for my friend Brent who's moving his family to Japan for a 3-year assignment with the military. We all gathered at his parents' house in Provo for a potluck dinner, games, and lots of talking and laughing.

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The food was delicious and the games were a blast (although I still don't know how I chose Chad's card in Apples to Apples ALL THREE TIMES that it was my turn to pick the winning red card. I swear it wasn't on purpose, but he apparently knows me better than I thought. lol.) The downside of the night was that it was quite snowy out, and a neighborhood teenager came to the door to let us know he had slid and accidentally hit Chad's car. That was a bummer, but everything was handled really well and the car was still totally driveable, so I think it will be okay in the end. Fortunately for those of us driving north, the snow stopped and the roads were pretty clear for the drive home.

Anyway... that was last week. This week I'm trying to get a bit more balance instead of all the 2am nights working in the craft room. I'm hoping to finish it up soon, though. I've been really inspired and the new space is going to be just fabulous... I can't wait to get it finished so I can make something!


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

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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.

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And today's entry...

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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...

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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.

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A few pictures from the gift exchange...

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(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.)

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

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

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It was a fabulous night. Love these guys!


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.

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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.

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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.

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Another close-up:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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And the full 2nd spread:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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One of the buildings, beautiful all lit up:

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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.

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And one of the little buildings in the elf village:

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

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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.

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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!


I love Thanksgiving Weekend

Especially this year, when I really needed a few days to decompress and get things in order. And sleep... still sleeping more than I think I should be, but who am I to argue with what my body tells me? lol. But it's been a lovely weekend. Thursday, I was able to sleep in and read a bit, do some picking up around the house, fold laundry, and bake rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. I went over to Melody's house - it was so nice to be able to join her family for Thanksgiving.

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And a fabulous dinner - Melody did a great job.

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And writing down what we're grateful for this year to put in the Blessing Box.

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And Melody and I:

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There's so much that I'm grateful for this year - and having good friends to spend the holiday with is definitely on the list!

Yesterday I didn't sleep late, but read a book and then did some work around the house, got in a good workout and then got dressed and went out to do some much needed grocery shopping and gas up the car. I came back with a cup of mint cocoa and started pulling out my Christmas gear. I got the tree set up, the bannister done and the basics of the trees in the entry way, as well as the tree and lights in my bedroom. This year I decided not to do the two mini trees in the kitchen and moved them - one in the entry (3 there now) and one in my room, which I LOVE. I'm so glad I did that. By the end of the night I just needed to put ornaments on the trees and a few other details.

This morning, I slept REALLY late and then I worked all afternoon finishing up the decorating. It doesn't look all the different from the last few years, but I took a few pictures anyway.

The little tree on my dresser in my room:

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My big tree in the living room:

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This year I moved the nativity from the coffee table to the dining table (why not? It's not like I ever eat there), using a gorgeous square table runner I picked up in Dubai:

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And my hanging fairies (and you can see me two torros from Cusco on top of the cabinet - buena suerte a la casa).

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Looking out from the couch up the stairs:

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My landing with my 3rd tree... I had to get a new set of white lights, but I found a perfect basket to put the tree in so it would go with the others. They're all covered with birds and butterflies again this year:

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And finally, the bannister. This year I added to it - I had a roll of turquoise polyester that I wrapped around, then I hung a few vintage gold and turquoise balls and some gold snowflakes. Finally, I had two strands of fun little camels from Dubai. They're meant to hang (I have a larger strand hanging in my room) but I love the fun look they bring when wrapped around the bannister. Anything to make walking up and down stairs more fun, right?

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And now, decorating is done and all the boxes are put away... floors are vacuumed (although I'm sure more glitter will make an appearance before I know it). I can't believe this weekend is going so quickly - it's already Saturday night! (sleeping in is lovely, but it sure sucks time!) It's time to heat up some leftovers, get my Sunday School lesson ready to go, and stop procrastinating on some Christmas projects I need to get finished. So, I'm off to do that! And hopefully also pick out what photos I want for my Scrapbook on the Road so I can get those printed and added in. Once that's done, I'll take some pictures and post it.

With that, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


The birthday post

Last weekend was my birthday... yay! The last three years I've spent my birthday with my family either here or in Virginia, so it was a little weird to be here without them this year. But, with Melody and her family here, we still got together for a fun night. Since I love cookies more than just about anything, when Melody told me she wanted to throw me a small party and asked what I wanted to do, I decided that I wanted a cookie party instead of cake and ice cream. So between the two of us, we came up with quite a spread of goodies!

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It was nearly impossible to keep the kids out of it. Samuel thought it was pretty funny to sneak up and break off a corner of one of my candy corn cookies (I made them almost just like this, only I dyed the dough light orange, and dipped the tops in yellow instead of chocolate. They were yummy.). It kind of was, actually. lol. Melody also made those really cute owl s'mores from an idea we found on Pinterest.

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We did plenty of munching and played games - a few rounds of Apples to Apples and also Family Feud (the DVD version). We had a pretty good time with the games. Lots of fun!

Laura and Tim were both super sweet and brought me presents, even though I told everyone not to bring anything. But they were lovely - both were wonderful! A great book from Tim called The Dovekeepers that looks really good, and an awesome charm bracelet from Laura covered with shoes :)

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And pictures with two of my favorite people...

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It was a fun birthday party :)

On Sunday, I got to talk to my family. Since Adorable-Niece-Aubrey's birthday is 2 days before mine, they were celebrating on Sunday night. Instead of just calling, I Skyped them with my iPad and got to watch the whole celebration. Watching Aubrey scarf her birthday cupcake was hysterical. That little girl can eat! She had never had frosting before and quite enjoyed it. She ate every crumb and then sucked all the frosting off her fingers. lol. I also loved watching her open presents. She has a little stuffed pig that she adores, and she liked to steal her cousin Eraleigh's giraffe pillow pet, so I set her a piggy pillow pet. She went nuts. It was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. Little squeals of delight as she picked it up and hugged it and laid down on it and just wouldn't let it go. Since it was only the second present she opened, it was a bit of a problem. lol. I was pronouned the uncontested winner for the best present of the night. I was so glad I got to watch it, I just wished that Skype was recording it while we were on the phone. I also loved that Eraleigh was so entranced with the video thing that she kept trying to get in front so she could see me and I could see her. She kept announcing that I was her "very best friend." It was super cute... I think watching Aubrey's birthday party was a highlight of the weekend. We'll definitely have to Skype more often!

And another birthday has come and gone... it was a good year :)


Projects!

I actually have a few things to share! First up, I had a Shutterfly Groupon that was all set to expire on the 28th. What day is it? Yup. I'm a procrastinator. In all fairness, I did try to get my act together enough to use this as a gift, but it just didn't happen - everything was taking longer than I thought it would. So, rather than kill myself trying to finish it when I had time before I needed to give the gift, I decided to do a graduation book instead. I had been planning on it anyway, so it worked out great. It's an 8x8 hard-cover photobook and you can see it here:

Click here to view this photo book larger

Create your own personalized photo books at Shutterfly.com.

I put the entire thing together in just a few hours... start to finish, including editing most of the photos. Probably my fastest project ever! I did have help... I used a template album by Paislee Press. If anyone is interested, you can buy it at OScraps. I had the 8.5x11 template set but the book I did was 8x8, so I obviously did a little tweaking to make it work, but it was really awesome. I love the minimalist feel - it made it nice to not be worrying about papers and embellishments and stuff.

And now, just a few other things I've been working on here and there... a few more smashbook pages. One from conference weekend when Mel and I went for Ladies night out, and another from the weekend before last when I met up with Mindy and her girls, and Chad and his brother and sister, Courtney and Sean to grab dinner and see Footloose.

The pages:

Smash Pages Oct11
Here are some of the pictures from Footloose. We killed a little time in the arcade at the theaters - we were amused by the guys riding the motorcycle game/ride thing. They got into it!

Courtney, Sean, Mindy and Maddy:

Footloose 1

Chad taking his turn, with Kenzie and Griffin watching on the left:

Footloose 2

Me, just hanging:

Footloose 4

We went to the Mad Greek before dinner for gyros and souvlaki, and then hit up Sweet Tooth Fairy (Mindy needed to pick up Sunday night dessert for her family, so we all went.) And then after the movie, I think we all stood around in the parking lot for almost an hour and a half, just talking and joking. Too bad the weather has gotten cold... no more of that for a while! But it was a great time.

One other project I've been working on... I saw some ideas on Pinterest that made me want to try this - I stamped on a vintage dictionary page and then colored with Pan Pastels. I love how it looks - I'm trying to decide what to do with it. I had a scrap of letterpress that I think looks good with it. Maybe a collage? We'll see... too much else to work on right now, but it's kind of bumping around in the back of my mind.

Stamp and Pan Pastels on Dictionary
and a little close-up:

Stamp and Pan Pastels on Dictionary Closeup
And with that, it's way past my bedtime. But I'm thrilled that I got a photobook done... one more thing off my pre-trip checklist!

Off to bed. Happy Friday!


Playing with Paper

Amid all of the digital work I was doing on the yearbook, I did actually do some paper stuff recently. I worked on updating my smash book and also doing a layout while I was over at Melody's house during conference last weekend. I've had the layout sitting on my desk mostly done for over a week now, just waiting for the journaling and a few finishing touches. I have to say, not my favorite layout ever, but at the same time it kind of captures the grunge of the experience, you know? As much as I wanted to pretty it up with some flowers and butterflies, it just wasn't going to work.

Dirty Dash

And the individual pages:

Dirty Dash 1

Dirty Dash 2

The sticker on the tag that I'm using as the title is one that came in our bags at the race. I used some burlap trim from an old Rusty Pickle trim set and some Tattered Angels sprays to kind of mimic splashes of mud. I managed to keep my number from the race - covered with mud, of course... lol. I made a little plastic pocket to hold it on the page that keeps it from touching everything else. The pictures are stills I grabbed out of the video Todd put together that's linked on my Facebook page.

I think I need to do a pretty layout next. lol.

Also a few pages in my Smash book:

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The right side of this one isn't done yet - I kept a few of the ads from the Ladies Night sales on conference weekend that Mel and I went to.

Smash 9

That's it for now! I've got some projects I need to get to work on... photo books with expiration dates, stuff to get ready for my trip to Peru next month, you know. The usual. lol.

P.S. Yay! Hockey is back! And this year I can enjoy it again now that I'm not in classes and study groups at night. Woohoo!


I finished!

I'm quite a bit later than I had planned to be (a few months, but who's counting?), but I finally finished our class yearbook. Yay! I got all of the pages done last night and then tonight I went back through to make tweaks and corrections and pulled it all into the tool. I went through it a few times, did some more editing, and then finally got it uploaded to Blurb. I'll be sending out a link to the class to view / purchase, and I'm beyond thrilled that it's done. Besides. It turned out pretty well, I think! Here are a few more pages that I finished in the last week:

Graduation 2

Graduation 3

Grad Reception 1

Grad Reception 2

After doing the rest of the book, I decided I hated the first page so I redid it tonight:

Page 1

Stuck this one in right before the graduation section. This was our classroom... I used lyrics from a song by the Bravery and then added a little sentiment of my own.

The Beginning

I've been playing around with customizing shadows in Photoshop using layers and the warp tool. Fun! It's safe to say that I'm now a part-time digi girl, I think. It's just too practical for me to keep stubbornly clinging to my paper and glue. Not that I won't still do that, but I'll do it mostly for mini albums, gifts and special photos and occasions that I want in my regular scrapbooks.

This is one I did a while ago, but I don't think I shared. It's the title page to the section of the book for our FBEs. I "stuck" a push-pin into each of the cities that we went to on the three trips. It was kind of fun and kind of a pain, but I'm pretty pleased with the final results:

FBE Map
And finally, here's the cover... I love the template that creates the cut-out effect on the yellow patterned paper:

Cover

Whew! Now it's time for me to go to bed. I stayed up WAY too late finishing this up (blogging about it certainly didn't help. lol.) and I know I'm going to pay in the morning, but I was so excited to be finished that I just couldn't put it off until tomorrow. So yeah. Yay!

Onto the next photo book project. Now I can use all my Groupons!


Weekend catch-up and yearbook pages

The last week or so has been busy! Lots of stuff going on...

We had a few fun things at work last week, and one of them was our End of Summer celebration. We went up Provo Canyon just a bit to South Fork Park where we had a fun dinner outdoors. We had a caterer that does all dutch oven cooking, and great music. One of the professors at BYU (Gesslison, maybe?) came with his family (his daughter and her partner who are 2 time national fiddling champs), and his son (state guitar champion) and his younger daughter. They were really good. The food was delicious, the scenery was wonderful and it was great to hang out and chat. I got a few pictures on my iPad - not great quality, but fun nonetheless.

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My co-workers, Brittany and Sara

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and moi:

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Friday night Laura and Mindy and I got together for a girls' night. We saw "I Don't Know How She Does It" with Sarah Jessica Parker and we all really liked it. Very fun. That was followed by a leisurely dinner where we just sat and chatted... catching up since it's been a few weeks since we hung out.

I met up with Melody on Saturday for the Relief Society broadcast - my stake was having a dinner beforehand so we went and ate and then watched it. I love Pres. Uchtdorf's talk. He's always wonderful, but this seemed especially good.

I've also been hard at work on trying to finish up the class yearbook. I've got to get it done - I've taken way too long already, and I can't justify moving on to other projects until I finish it. I've been sitting on it because one of the last parts to do was HUGE and I just didn't want to tackle it. So I finally did it. I pulled screenshots out of a video and took photos that I had taken, stuff people sent me and a disc of photos from the department to pull it together. This section is going to be like 12 pages in the yearbook, and it was a lot of work to get it done. Now I just need to do graduation and then make last minute edits and get it all uploaded. Here are a few pages from what I've been working on since the last time I shared (there are too many to post, so this is just a sample):

Capstone 3

Capstone 4

  Grad Dinner Title Page


Grad Dinner 1

Grad Dinner 4

Grad Dinner 8

I also recently did pages for all three of the FBEs - I did 5 pages for each trip, including a cover page.

Middle East FBE Title Page

Middle East FBE 2

I used the same format for all of the FBEs. It's not a standard yearbook, but I didn't want it to be too scrapbooky (I didn't always succeed, though), so I kept it pretty simple and tried to be consistent within each section.

And to finish, two more that I did a while ago - these are from our picnic during our 2nd residency week:

Family picnic 1

Family Picnic 2
I've tried to get everyone represented as much as possible, but I've had to work with the material on hand so I wasn't always successful. Hopefully the class likes it. At least I know I'll enjoy my copy, right?


Dirty Dash Recap

Today I got a few things to share from Saturday's Dirty Dash up at Soldier Hollow. People keep asking me how it was and I'm like, well, uh, it was dirty. (duh.) It was also fun. There's not much else to say, except my buddy Matt messed up his knee on the 3rd water hole. That kind of sucked, but the team managed to pull him out of the mud pit and get him on a cart to go to the first aid tent. He sent the rest of us on to finish. I admit, I didn't do a whole lot to get dirty. I mean, it was inevitable that you would come out muddy, but I didn't make any special effort to get that way. I did most of the obstacles (I went around a few because of my crappy knees), but I think I did them too carefully. lol. My teammates, on the other hand, dove in (literally!) at every opportunity (video evidence below). I was chided for the relatively clean state of my shirt, but what can I say? What it really came down to was the fact that I almost lost a contact 3 times and was just trying to make sure I could still see when it was time to drive home. Next year, bring goggles!

I would give more details, but Todd brought along a waterproof video camera and filmed on and off through the whole thing. I'm not actually in here all that much, but I think that's a result of my lack of diving into the mud (and sometimes I was holding the camera). I wasn't interesting to watch. lol. The video is awesome... Todd did a fantastic job with the editing.

 

I think there might be a few more photos coming, but I did get this one from the official photographers at the end of the race. This is our "smolder and flex" pose.

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Left to right, Todd, Mike, Ben, Jen, Greg, Melinda (Mary in front) and me. (We started with 10, but Matt was still at first aid and Laura had split off to make it to the Piglet Plunge with her kids).

Note that I am, in fact, much cleaner than the others, lol. From here we went to some EXTREMELY cold showers. I cleaned up as best I could and then in the car I had a plastic bag to put my socks and shoes, a paper towel to clean off my feet, flip flops and a poncho to keep my car seat clean and dry. It worked pretty well! I had to wash the shoes twice and the clothes 3 times to get them clean, but I managed. It looks like we're going to make this an annual event. Maybe next year I'll manage to get dirtier. lol.


Our little pink princess

I scrapbooked! This is like twice in a month. I'm not sure what to do with myself. lol.

This picture of Aubrey is one that Nicole sent with my mom when they came out at graduation. Even though it's a little old - she doesn't look quite like this anymore  - I couldn't resist scrapping it. It's just so cute! Aubrey was 5 months old in this picture, so it was taken back in April. I just love her little dress - too adorable.

Aubrey 5 month princess

And a close-up of the roses without the glare from the head-on angle:

Aubrey 5 month princess close-up 1

I stamped the roses on kraft cardstock (they're from the Papertrey Ink year of roses collection) and then colored them with Caran d'Ache Neocolor II water soluble crayons and a water brush. I love those because they're nice and opaque on darker cardstock - it gives it a really cool look without soaking into the paper like markers would have. Then I just used some stickles to finish it off. The painting curled the cardstock a bit, but I liked the look and the dimension so I left a lot of it and used some pop dots to hold it up in places. The patterned paper was all cut from paper in my scrap box and I added a few My Mind's Eye stickers and tags and some punched circles to carry over the pattern in her dress. That's it! Aside from the time it took to paint the stamped images, it came together pretty quickly and I love how it turned out.

And speaking of my sister, Nicole sent an email this evening with a pretty funny image.

Arby's Free Turnover

And really, you have to laugh, right? Because otherwise I might cry. That game on Saturday was brutal. Yikes.

I also ran the Dirty Dash up in Midway on Saturday with several friends from school. It was quite an experience... I'll post more details when I get the pictures that were taken. I didn't bother with any kind of camera because of the mud, but Todd's wife Lori got some, Todd video'd with a waterproof camera through a lot of it, and there were a few shots by photographers there - we'll see how much it costs and if there are any good ones. So that will come eventually.

Tonight I was at Melody's for a while - it was Samuel's 2nd birthday and he opened presents and we had cake. He was so cute opening all of his cars (he LOVES cars). They tried to give him a piece of birthday cake and he threw a total fit because he wanted to play with his new toys instead. It was pretty funny, actually. And I think Logan was as excited as Samuel was! It was fun to hang out and play and eat a little cake.

That's it for now... time to hit the sack!


Belated Birthday Fun

I'm not sure where the time keeps going... here we are almost half-way through September! I woke up yesterday morning to that distinct feeling and smell of autumn in the air. I promptly burrowed back under the covers - it's an automatic reaction. I love that feeling, but it seems like this year it's just come so quickly! But here we are. And as for my total lack of blogging, I'll just say that I would do it a lot more if it didn't take so long to pull a post together. lol. You'd think it would be fast and easy, but I have a hard time finding the time to actually sit down and edit photos and compose a post. So I'm catching up yet again.

First, it's been so fun to have Melody's family back in Utah and living so close to me! We've been able to hang out a few times since they got back and it's been fun. One of those times was a bit over a week ago to celebrate Vic's birthday. The usual suspects were all on hand...

Samuel, giving me this face when he saw the camera pointing in his direction (and note, we didn't let him open that bottle of Dew. lol.)

Vic Bday 1

Of course, once I turned around, I saw this on the other side. lol.

Vic Bday 2

Then it was time to blow out the candles. Vic had no lack of volunteers to help with that.

Vic Bday 3

Here's Logan - he was showing off his Superman shirt and consuming as much chocolate as possible. Although we did convince him that more cake would make him sick. Not bad for reasoning with a 4-year old.

Vic Bday 4

Me and Samuel, hamming it up.

Vic Bday 5

And Dustin making a sneak attack.

Vic Bday 6

So that was the party... it was a fun night. The guys were setting up a gaming table when I left, but I couldn't stay out too late since I had laundry to finish and bags to pack for an early flight Saturday morning. I don't think I mentioned I was heading out, but I took off on vacation for just under a week - I just got back a few days ago and have been getting back into the swing of things. More posts coming with vacation photos!


FBE Reunion Time

So last night was our FBE reunion. We met at the Radebaugh's house for a potluck dinner to chat, catch up, play a few games and have a few laughs. I took our family's favorite chocolate cake (which we refer to as "Nicole's Cake".) I'll post a picture and the recipe another time, but it's delicious... moist and dense at the same time with a frosting that's just like fudge. We all sat and talked during dinner and then mingled during dessert. Then we had trip awards - everyone got an award (with a certificate) for something they were particularly known for on the trip, and they were all pretty appropriate and usually funny. I got the "International Food Guru" award; hardly a surprise. lol. Then we watched a longer version of the trip video and that never gets old - it was fun to go back and see it again... it's already been 3 months since we got back! I can hardly believe it. And after that, we played games, reminiscent of some of the games we played on the bus trips.

Like this one: who could balance the biggest stack of DingDongs on his forehead? 

Reunion 2

Dave did a pretty awesome job. His reward? A pile-up.

Reunion 1

And of course, Prof. Radebaugh was in top form last night. First, using a balloon to look pregnant and posing with Matt's wife, Charlene - lamenting that Lori had left so the three of them couldn't post together. lol.

Reunion 3

And then it was my turn to participate in the games. We had to hold tongue depressors in our mouth and stack these plastic blocks on top and hold them without dropping them for 5 seconds and then pass them. It was a relay, but we could use our hands to pass the blocks. 'Cause otherwise, awkward. lol.

Reunion 4

And then Prof. R's turn. He didn't realize it was a race against the other team. lol.

Reunion 5

Then a classic - the moustache app with a tongue depressor cigar. With a trip director like this, is it any wonder we had so much fun on the FBE?

Reunion 6

Finally, some group photos of all of us. A normal one:

Reunion 7

Of course, we wouldn't be us if we didn't also smolder. Because we made it our mission to smolder as much as possible on the trip. We have photographic evidence in abundance.

Reunion 8

After that we talked more, did a little jumping on the trampoline (oh wait - that was just me. lol.) and then it was time to clean up and head out. It was fun to see everyone again - we'll have to make it a habit to get together :)


It's official...

... I'm an MBA! Friday was graduation and Mom and Dad flew in on Wednesday morning and then stayed through the weekend. I took off work and we just ran and played the whole time. We saw lots of movies, ate out, shopped, and just chatted and enjoyed seeing each other and celebrating.

Friday we arrived bright and early at the Marriott Center (7am) for my college convocation. They went to their seats and I went down to check in, get my seating assignment and see everyone. We were all down in the tunnel for about 45 minutes before the ceremony just talking and generally being excited. I didn't have a camera with me, but a few people did so there are a few shots on Facebook. Then it was time and we went in. This was really fun because before, I wasn't with people I knew. Our class sat together so it was awesome to be there with people who have become great friends over the last two years. I sat between Karthi and Tom L. in the ceremony which was surprisingly short! Benefit of a small convocation in August. My mom had my camera and got a few shots during the ceremony. Here are a few shots after I walked across the podium as I was shaking hands and picking up my diploma case.

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And this is after we all sat down again and Dean Cornia was talking about our college and had us stand up and thank the friends and family in the audience who had helped make it possible for us to be there.

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Then one of me after graduation outside of the Marriott Center:

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After graduation, we went over to the Tanner Building for a reception that was held for our class. After stopping briefly in the college reception in the lobby, we went up to the 4th floor. For the first part, mom and I waited in line for food and everyone was just walking around talking and taking pictures. Then we got plates and met dad where he had snagged a table and Chad and his family ended up coming and sitting with us.

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And then, of course, we couldn't leave the reception without taking pictures with the Peanut Gallery. The Peanuts:

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Back, left-to-right: Mike, Brent, Chad, Clayton

Front, left-to-right: Me, Rick, Laura, Mindy and Darren. We were missing Roper who's deployed in Virginia right now. It wasn't the same without him :(

And then, Peanuts being a little crazy (because we're never crazy. lol.)

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And of course, the original Peanuts - my first year group:

Leaving a space for Roper (we need to Photoshop him in here):

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And just us:

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Then more group shots - we just grabbed everyone nearby for this one: IMG_7101

Brent, Me, Laura, Mike (aka Freddie), Chad, Jen, Mary, Melinda, Mike, Todd and child, Mindy, Darren and Scott.

And then Brent decided that he had to have a "Say Anything" pose.

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We might have to watch that during an upcoming Peanut movie night. Just sayin'.

And I had to have a picture of my parents, who by this point were more than ready to leave and change clothes. lol.

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So after that, we dropped off my cap and gown at the alumni building. That was kind of sad - I only had them for a day, but it really marked that it was all over. I guess that's a good thing, but at the same time it's like saying goodbye to one of the best times in my life. But then I remember that now that we're done, I get to keep my friends and skip out on all the homework! So bonus.

After that we went to La Jolla Groves for a little graduation lunch (the reception had fruit and veggie trays and some cookies - good, but not a meal. lol.) Then we just played all day again.

So that's it! My official graduation portraits have already been ordered and the diploma is in the mail. So now I get to focus on using all the things I've learned. And paying for it. lol.

 


It is finished.

Exactly a week ago right now, I was driving home from my last class... my last presentation... the last everything. My Capstone team gave a killer final client presentation - the professor who was serving as our advisor for the project pulled our team out twice to tell us how awesome the presentation had been. We went all out - our first client presentation wasn't as good as we wanted and we got killed in the Q&A by the client panel. But boy did we come back strong! We were so excited to go out on such a high note. And after we finished, we were listening to the last team and you could just feel all the tension draining out. I looked over at Chad at one point and he was totally giddy and practically bouncing in his chair next to me. lol. I just couldn't help but laugh and start feeling a bit giddy myself! We walked out after class excxitedly talking about all the things we were going to do with ourselves. Like sleep. lol.

We weren't quite done with all things school yet - Tuesday night was our closing banquet instead of class so I got to head over to the Tanner Building one last time (I told some of the professors not to worry if they saw me haunting the halls there. Prof. Swain offered to give me a quiz if I needed it, and mentioned that he thought they might need to institute a step-down program. lol. I might need one!)

The banquet started with dinner, and then they showed the video that was made from all the filming they had done during Capstone - in our presentations, in our study rooms and some other stuff outside of that. They had our team do some funny things - the guys all did this flamenco thing with their coats and then walked away from the camera looking back over their shoulders and they had me reach up and take the clip out of my hair and shake it out - they were going to slow-mo it for the video. They did. Of all the footage that didn't get cut... lol. It was pretty hysterical, though. The entire video was awesome - they did this really humorous take on everything that morphed into showing how much we were doing and how hard we worked (and oh did we work. My team estimated that we put in 60 hours each during the two weeks or so. It felt like more. lol.) After the video, they gave awards. A few serious ones for best analysis, best presentation, etc... and then some funny ones. We called them the EMBYs (EMBA awards...lol) And who got the last, crowning award?

The Herbal Essence Award

That would be me receiving "The Herbal Essence Award" from Prof. Swain for my hair tossing cameo in the video (seriously. How did they know I actually use Herbal Essence?). The presentation was accompanied by still shots from the video. It was pretty funny... so I tossed my hair a few more times on the way back to my seat. Might as well just ham it up, right? If I had a mantle, my little gold, plastic EMBY would go on it.

After the awards, Melinda and Matt got up to say a few things. At the end of Matt's remarks, I came up as a surprise to give some special gifts to our program director, Tad (he came on our FBE too) and Debbie, who basically coordinated everything we did for two years. We couldn't have gotten it all done without their help.

  Gift Presentation
A few months ago I started collecting small donations from everyone in class, then I got people on each trip to help me - I gave them each a budget and had them buy little gifts in all of the countries we went to. When we got back, I collected everything and put together gift baskets of all the goodies and then added gift cards to a favorite local restaurant, La Jolla Groves (the owner / chef is another Marriott School guy. Gotta give props!) They were surprised and really loved them. It was so fun to be able to do that for them as a class.

Gifts for Tad and Debbie

After that, we watched slideshows from each of the trips. I have to admit, the Middle East slideshow (which was really a full-on video) was the best. Todd totally rocked out a professional video that he shared with all of us to download and keep. It's just for personal use so I can't post it, but it's such a treasure. I love watching it and seeing all the photos and video clips from the trip. I can't believe I've been home almost six weeks! And I'm still amazed that I got that opportunity.

Finally, it was all over so we wandered around getting a few more shots of friends as we started to break up.

Some of the guys from the Asia trip, showing off their custom-made suits (Brent, Greg, Kenny, Brandon, Dr. Jackson, Mark and Josh).

Custom Suit Crew

Friends from the Middle East FBE - Nicole and Joe, Prof. Radebaugh, and Steve and his daughter Natalie:

Nicole, Joe, Rad, Steve and Natalie

And then a bunch of the Middle East FBEers got together with some of our professors for another photo opp:

  Middle East FBEers
We were missing a few people from the executive committee, but Matt, Dave and I got together for one last shot before we headed out:

Matt, Dave and I

School might be finished, but it's really just a beginning. We'll all see each other at graduation in August - definitely looking forward to it. And Matt and I get to work together to plan reunions and class activities for the next five years so we can all keep in touch. In the meantime, I'm working on a class yearbook - we're going to get them uploaded so we can all order copies and bring them to graduation where we can go full on high school and sign them (lots of K.I.T. in my future! lol.)

So I'm sad to be done - I really miss my peeps! I've been so bored this week... I need to get back into my hobbies to start getting busy again! I don't know what to do with myself with so much time in the evenings. But part of it has been that this is a slow week for me, especially at work. Why, you might ask? Well... remember that little mystery I alluded to in my last post? (like 3 weeks ago? I guess I just lost my excuse for slacking. lol.) Well, it's time for the big reveal. The fact is, this week has been slow because tomorrow is my last day at Ancestry. That's right, a little over two weeks ago I gave my notice and I'll be starting a new job on Monday. My new office is about a whopping 300 feet away from the old one. lol. I had been interviewing with Adobe earlier this year after they found me via LinkedIn and mutual acquaintances. I didn't feel like it was the right position for me and they ended up going with someone who had a bit more experience in a certain area, so it all worked out, but last month they recommended me to my new company who contacted me while I was still on the trip and brought me in a few days after I got back from Dubai. Less than three weeks later I had an offer and the next day I accepted it and gave notice. I'm going in as the Optimization Manager for their website and I'm really excited. I think this is going to be a great opportunity and the company and culture should be a really good match for my personality. I'm sad to be leaving the friends I've made, but I won't be far away :) It's great to be putting the MBA to work in a new position so soon! Gotta make all that hard work (and money!) pay off, right? I'll be busy getting to know new people, settling in, learning a new company and systems and getting their optimization program off the ground. So this weekend I'm going to enjoy sleeping in before I dive in to my next adventure. Stay tuned :)