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!

New York B-day trip 8
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!)

Happy birthday to me - new tv
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.

Aubrey's 2nd birthday call
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!

First birthday mini scrapbook

Yup... Adorable-Nephew-William turned one last month and there were so many cute pictures from his party that I decided to make a little mini album with them.


I've had this album for a year or two... waiting for the perfect project. It's a Doodlebug 4x8 chipboard album and I love that the pages are white. I decided to leave them that way and make it clean and colorful.

I used lots of different papers and tapes - I had a few sheets of an old KI Memories birthday line that I loved. I also thought those Basic Grey Woolies were fun with this - I used one for that big circle along with some Jolee's candle stickers.

William is in a car and truck phase, so Rick and Erin made him this super cute construction cake with lots of trucks on it - it was the theme for his party and it turned out really fun!

So to go with the construction / truck theme, I downloaded a few designs for my Cameo and used them througout the album. I love how they turned out!

I wasn't there in person, but I was Skyped in for the party and it was fun to watch him open all of his gifts... William is such a cutie!

His word lately is "wow!" and there were several during the party - especially for his little car ramp tower thingy that he loved.

More trucks... I had to have a few for when he got his new truck push and ride!


I really like the tall photos that I used in this book - it worked great! It also made the book pretty fast and easy to put together.

I printed out all the photos and then went through and adhered them in the album. Then I went through again and added patterned paper around the photos. Because of the way I did it, I didn't have to lift up photos or anything (and on the few where the photos are on top, I just did the paper first and added the photos).


Then I went through again and added the journaling (mostly taken from Erin's blog) and then added washi tape, stickers, and other little bits.


This was a fun and fast project, and a great momento of William's first birthday. Hopefully someday he'll love looking through this :)

Skype and Sketchbook 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!


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.


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 :)



And pictures with two of my favorite people...



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 :)

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!

Quick Catch-up

Just popping in with a quick catch-up post. Lots going on! It's been busy and fun. Where to start... how about food!

Turkish Pizza

I was trying to come up with something for dinner the other night and scrounged in my fridge. I had whole wheat pizza dough, tzatziki sauce, lots of tomatoes, fresh spinach, feta cheese, a few kalamata olives and some leftover kofte that I had made the week before (yummy spiced Turkish beef kebab). So I made pizza! Just little ones, but it was delicious.

What else... I had the final project for my Business Judgment class to finish and turn in last week. We had to incorporate frameworks and learnings from the course to use on an important upcoming decision. However this time, instead of writing a paper, 25% of the grade was on creativity and presentation and we were encouraged to go out of the box and do things that fit with our learning style. So I did an art journal-y collage thing as a frame for a scenario analysis and then did some more analysis and next steps that I typed up and stuck to the back. I'm not sure if I'm getting it back, so I took lots of pictures. I had fun with this. Things are still up in the air on this particular decision, so I'm keeping the cat in the bag for now. lol. Besides... keeping a few secrets makes me more mysterious, right? (I'm rolling my eyes as I type that.)

BizJudgment Full Before

The base is a big piece of cardboard and I covered it with old maps, washi tape and bakers twine. Then I collaged stuff on top of it. Part is heavily inspired by Teesha Moore, part is just me. Close-ups...

BizJudgment Bottom Right

BizJudgment Top Right

BizJudgment Left Side

BizJudgment Tree Close-up

And here's a shot after I added the parts for the scenario analysis (which I've blurred out, of course. Can't go spilling the beans by accident!)

BizJudgment Final Complete

We'll see how I did. I hope the professor liked it...

Next up... this last weekend was Rae's birthday, so we had a girl's night. Steph picked me up but we didn't make it to meet them at Bombay house for dinner - the traffic was a disaster. So we stopped for a quick bite at Cafe Rio and then met up with them at the mall for pedicures. My feet were in desperate need! Too much time cooped up in running shoes doesn't make for pretty feet. After that, we went to see the new X-Men movie which I really liked. Fun night out! Just a few pics from the nail salon:

Rae's Bday 2011 Pedis 1

Rae's Bday 2011 Pedis 2

Rae's Bday 2011 Pedis 3

And back to school again, our Capstone team has been working hard to try and make progress on our project for our client. This has been kind of rough - we don't have a lot of time for a pretty big deliverable, and we're working with some assumptions that make it hard. But you do what you can, right? So we have the first of two big presentations coming up this week and we needed to work on it so the team came over to my house tonight. Naturally, I made dinner. I did some bruschetta - a baguette toasted with a little parmigiano reggiano and then topped with edamame hummus, watercress and chopped walnuts. It was fabulous. I made a salad of arugula and baby spinach, fresh strawberries and blueberries, candied pecans (I whipped up a quick caramel from butter and brown sugar in a skillet, threw in the pecans and stirred until they were coated. Then just spread them on wax paper to cool. Yum.) and poppy seed dressing. Super yummy. For the main course I had pulled pork with mango BBQ sauce served on ciabatta rolls with bread and butter pickles and coleslaw (to put on top of the pork, of course). Dessert was a strawberry / peach crostata with vanilla ice cream and a strawberry / peach coulis. Of course, I have no pictures because I forgot before they came and then the guys chowed on it. lol. Maybe I'll get some when I eat leftovers later this week. But when all five guys go back for seconds, it's probably a good bet that it turned out pretty well.

So, I had brought my camera down to try and get pictures of the food and although I forgot that part, it was handy later on when Matt started using my sword as a thinking tool. And then decided that he wanted Darren to use it to deputize him (not sure how knighting and deputizing both use a sword, but whatever.) It was fairly funny.

Capstone - Matt gets knighted

And then since I had the camera, I grabbed a few shots of everyone. Nate and Matt:

Capstone - Nate and Matt and Sword

Chris and Chad...

Capstone - Chad and Chris

And me. We keep joking that the product we're working on is like snake oil because it does everything, so Matt made himself a cover for his Capstone notebook. We're thinking of making t-shirts.

Capstone - Me and Snake Oil
(I'm totally digging this headband lately. You probably can't tell by the fact that I'm wearing it in two sets of pictures in this blog post, but whatever.)

So that's it. I'm supposed to be pulling out pictures from the trip to send to Todd for our documentary, but I just can't get to it tonight. I'm exhausted... I think for the first little while after school is over, my spare time is going to be spent sleeping. After I get caught up, then I'll worry about what to do with myself. lol.

Some birthday cuteness

I have to say, it's fun to be home for my birthday this year.  I'm super glad I canceled my registration for Journalfest and came home instead (plus not missing my Strategy final was probably a good thing.  lol.)  I was gambling on the fact that Nicole was going to have her baby before the due date and that I'd get to see her while I was home and it paid off!  I met Aubrey for the first time today... she's just precious.

I flew in late last night and then started today with a long, brisk sunrise walk outside - it was beautiful... it's been a while since I've been back in Virginia while the leaves are changing.  Then, mom and I went shopping at my personal Mecca.  Wegman's.  THE greatest grocery store in the world.  Where as usual, I wandered the aisles sighing with envy over the fact that I don't have anything half that good in Utah.  It's a special kind of masochism.  lol.  We got a bunch of stuff for me to cook a few fun meals for the family while I'm home and I got to pick out my birthday cake (because Wegman's cakes are yum.)

Rick, Erin and Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh all came over and we all went together to get kebabs for lunch.  After lunch we came back to the house to open presents and have cake.  Eraleigh loves blowing out candles so I had to watch her so she didn't ruin my wish.


You can see that she's a sneaky one.  But she did sing happy birthday with the family.  It was completely adorable (happy earthay Genny!)


And I was totally spoiled by my family... it was a wonderful party and I love and appreciate the fabulous and thoughtful gifts :)

Next we headed over to the hospital to see Nicole, Brian and Adorable-Niece-Aubrey.  She was asleep pretty much the entire time, but she's totally adorable.  She has an absolutely perfect little rosebud mouth.

I've never held a baby that new in my life... I was terrified that I'd break her, but she's such a sweet little bundle you kind of get sucked in.


We get to go back to see her again tomorrow.

After the hospital, we ran back to get Eraleigh changed into her Halloween costume for the ward Trunk or Treat.  She was Little Red Riding hood and sooooo cute!


And then, she found something she likes.  A lot.


It was too cold outside to hang out for long though, so we went back home for dinner (we skipped the river but did pass through some woods on the way back to Grandma's).  After dinner we watched some Dora and Diego.


And despite the fact that it was MY birthday today, I brought Eraleigh a present.  Because spoiling her is a favorite past-time of mine.  I got the cutest book called "Chicken Cheeks" that has funny little rhyming names for the bottoms of a bunch of animals.  One of them is a turkey, so I had to include this cute little turkey puppet (she has quite the puppet collection at this point.)


This was followed by a rousing round of "huggy huggy" which I invented mostly because it's so cute when she says it.  It mainly involves me chasing her around the house until I catch her and hug her, which she loves.  Then it was time to go home, but she'll be back.  She's going to come trick-or-treat at Grandma's house, although it's possible she might be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz tomorrow, complete with ruby slippers.

Happy Birthday Mom!

It's been quite an eventful day!  I have to admit however, that I'm deliberately posting this late at night so that my mom won't see it... she and Rick are on their way to SLC first thing in the morning so I'm betting that at this point, mom won't be checking my blog until after I give her her birthday present in person tomorrow :)  Although it definitely won't be the biggest surprise of the day, I still don't want to spoil it...

So, here's the card - I made a combined birthday / Mother's day card since I'm giving her both presents together.  She and Rick will be on the road driving his car back from Idaho on Sunday so we'll be celebrating a bit early.

Mom's B-Day and Mother's Day Card 

I just love this Sweet Pea image from Papertrey :)

And, for her birthday present I made a necklace and earring set (which probably won't be a surprise at all... lol.)  My mom has always liked jade, so when I found this carved jade flower I knew I needed to build the necklace around it.  I found a little set of light green jade beads to go with it and added some vintage pearl beads from some old broken strands of pearls that I unstrung.

Mom's Jade Necklace

And a bit of a close-up:

Mom's Jade Necklace - Close-up

Of course the biggest birthday surprise of the day was the present from Nicole and Brian... a card that had this in it:

 Blog - Nicole's Ultrasound
I'm going to be an Auntie again!!!  And Nicole, the little stink, is already in her second trimester and just dropped the news today!  Another wee one to spoil :D  The baby is due in the fall and I'm super excited to go home for Christmas now... I'll have TWO little ones to enjoy while I'm home this year!  So exciting...

Congratulations Nicole and Brian and Happy Birthday Mom!

All hail the birthday weekend!

Yup, it was my birthday this weekend... the big 3-5.  A while ago my mom called me and complained that everything on my wish list was boring (she says that every so I told her that she should just come and see me instead.  Incredibly, it worked out that she was able to do just that, so I took Friday and today off work and we just played non-stop.  She arrived Friday morning (which was my actual birthday) and we took off running.  We went down to Provo and had lunch at Kneader's, stopped by my office to see the Halloween decorating I had helped with before I left (Halloween is a BIG deal at our office.  Our department won "best use of smell..."  I need to ask some questions when I go back tomorrow.  lol).  Then we went to Deseret Book, the BYU bookstore, the Quilted Bear and picked up cupcakes at Sweet Tooth Fairy to use as my birthday cake.  Finally, we topped it off with dinner at The Brick Oven and went home to have cake and watch The Proposal.  Super fun birthday!

Saturday we went to Gardner Village and had manicures at the spa, ate lunch at Archibald's (um... HELLO fried avocado and fried green tomatos! Soooo delicious) and then shopped at all the fun boutiques.  Then we went to the movies and saw Cirque du Freak: The Vampires Apprentice which was actually pretty good.  We proceeded to make Nicole jealous with dinner at Ruby River (and I now have enough leftovers in my fridge from this weekend to feed me for a week!)

Sunday was our relaxing day.  Mom read the new Dan Brown while I did a little scrapbooking - nothing to share, though, since it's for a gift.  I finished it and took pictures, though, so I'll post it eventually :)  We also drove out to see the Draper Temple since mom hadn't seen it yet.  And then, I got her totally hooked on Arrested Development.  Guess what we'll be watching when I go home for Christmas!  lol.

This morning we shopped.  More.  We're a bad influence on each other while shopping and always have been, but it was so fun!  We went to Tai Pan Trading and drooled over their Christmas displays and found new ways to stretch mom's suitcase weight limit to the max.  A few more stores and lunch at Weinerschnitzel (which is totally nostalgic... we ate their all the time in Colorado when I was a little girl).  Then we went home to ooh and ahh over our goodies and I put together a new arrangement with a great Venetian mask I found on clearance and some silk floral stems.  Then it was time to go to the airport.  Mom's winging her way back to Virginia as we speak and I already miss having her here.  It was so much fun! 

And now for a little overview of the weekend in pictures:

Birthday Weekend Collage 

And the Venetian mask arrangement... it's quite stunning in real life (if I do say so myself!)  I used a mix of purple and gold plastic jewels in the base of the vase to keep everything together. 

Blog - Mask Arrangement 

And now I think it's time to play before I have to get back to real life tomorrow... as a birthday present to myself I signed up for Julie's Technique-a-Palooza: Paint & Ink class.  I thought it would be a great way to learn some new techniques and play with some different mediums to jump start my scrap mojo.  I joined in late so now I'm trying to decide where to jump in.  Eventually I want to do it all... so with that, I'm off to get my hands dirty!

P.S. - I just wanted to throw out a big THANK YOU to everyone for the birthday calls, texts, emails and Facebook notes.  It was a great day and wonderful to be remembered :)

Birthday Mini-Album

It was inevitable that over the weekend there would be some kind of scrapbooking project using photos from Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh's birthday last Thursday, but when I saw all the great photos from Erin and Brian, I just couldn't stop myself from making it a whole mini album!  I had this fun pattern for a hand-made album from Club Scrap and used it with lots of American Crafts goodies to make the album.  Pretty much everything here is from my AC stash... here are a few shots of the cover including the fun beaded binding:

Album Cover 1 Album Cover 2

Album Cover - Binding

And, here are the inside pages:
Album Inner Pages
This was such a fun weekend project!

Next I need to get my 4th of July photos off my camera for a layout... nothing much, just a few pictures of some fun traditions I did for myself this year.  I didn't get any fireworks shots since I just watched fireworks in the valley from my upstairs windows (I have a pretty great view) but it was still fun... I also watched several movies, went to the gym a few times and got a few massages.  Mmm... Now, though, it's time to get back to work!  Should be a busy week :)

Trip Pictures

Well, I'm back safe and sound from my little jaunt out to Virginia this last week.  The training was good; I learned some great things about using this testing platform and I hope it makes a difference at work.  I loved being able to spend time with my family, especially being home for my birthday and Halloween. 

Tuesday night we carved pumpkins... Nicole was really excited about getting all into it since it was her and Brian's first Halloween together.  Here's one of me pretending to be grossed out by pumpkin guts:

Blog - Pumpkin Guts

And one of Nicole and Brian with our pumpkins... I carved the skeleton face :)

Blog - Carved Pumpkins

Then we celebrated my birthday on Thursday... we had gone to Wegman's Wednesday night to pick out cake and ice cream.  Yum!  Here I'm totally poking fun at Nicole who poses like this in her pictures because she thinks it's more flattering (she might be right.)

Blog - Blowing out Candles

Finally, one from Halloween night.  Before this, we all went out to dinner to celebrate Brian's new job... we're all so excited for him.  Then Mom and I took Brian out to the Leesburg Outlets (because we hadn't done enough damage earlier that day... lol).  Before we left, though, we got our jack-o-lanterns all lit up and Nicole got the bowl ready for trick-or-treaters.

Blog - Nic and Bri Halloween

Yesterday we ended up back at the shops again... this time returning a few things from Friday's shopping spree that I decided I could live without as well as making a 2nd trip to the new Paper Source at Reston Town Center.  It's really a good thing I don't live near one of those.  I found lots of fun things that I'm planning to use on my China pages.  After running errands we went back to watch BYU pull one out against CSU.  It was a close one!

So now I'm back at home, finishing up laundry and getting ready to head back into the office tomorrow :-P  Maybe they'll let me work from home... lol.

The rest of the pictures from the last week are here.  I've missed my craft room this week so I can't wait to get back to scrapping!

P.S.  A big THANK-YOU! to Susanna at Card of the Week for selecting me as a scrapbooking runner-up for the layout of Ben that I posted on Thursday.  That was a great surprise yesterday morning!

Quick birthday projects

Just wanted to quickly share a few things that I made for my mom's birthday package :)


The card is done with the Papertrey Ink It's a Celebration set and the bag topper, which was my solution for the fact that the store where I got the gift didn't have gift boxes, was done with my big scallop scissors, Hero Arts clear stamps and Copic markers.

I love making little things like this for gifts.  It makes it so much more fun for me to give them :)

Last night  I went over to help load up the moving truck at Melody's place.  It's so sad that she and her family are moving away :(  We're going to get together tonight one last time before they take off and then I'm going to have to start saving for a trip down there.  We're also going to be on the lookout for any great scrapbooking conventions that we can meet and go to.  In the meantime, Jason and Dustin are planning to teach me to play Warhammer and Starcraft so that I can fill in for Vic when they play... lol.  Sounds fun to me!

Happy Easter!

It's a quiet one here... I just got home from church.  It doesn't feel quite like Easter to me, but I think that's because I'm used to church meetings where they do big Easter Cantatas with the choir.  We just had regular meetings, but it was very nice.

So, as promised, a recap from last night's birthday celebration.  The Melting Pot was fabulous.  Lots of delicious food and it was fun to hang out with everyone.  Here's a quick overview in pictures:


After dinner, most of us headed back over to Mel and Vic's where we indulged in very small pieces of birthday cake, played and chatted.  Most of the guys took off to watch the Jazz game and then Mel and I talked Stampin' Up for a while and we watched the first half of Pirates (the first one) before we decided to call it a night.  The rest of the pictures are here.

With that, off to enjoy the rest of Easter :)

Weekend Recap

Saturday was a busy day.  Stephanie and Sarina wanted to head down early to meet Ben and Dave to help set up for the tailgate.  After finding out that "early" was actually "way earlier than any human should ever have to get up and be somewhere on a Saturday morning," I elected to just meet them there a little (or a lot) later.  I showed up a bit late, but in time for the face painting.  Oh wait.  I brought all the face painting stuff with me.  Heh.


And the obligatory self-portrait...


After some tasty bbq pork and kettle chips (mmm... kettle chips), it was game time!  Ben and Dave finally made it to their seats a few minutes before half-time, so they missed most of the Cougar scoring.  But there was still enough left to come for some Rise and Shout action.


This one is purely for entertainment.  This guy was sitting in front of us and we were amused throughout the entire game by the rhinestone detailing on this guy's sunglasses.  Did he perchance pick up his wife's pair on the way out the door?  The world may never know.  But the entertainment lives on.  More pictures here.


After the game, Stephanie and I ran to the mall in search of a cocktail dress for Steph's office Christmas party.  We were unsuccessful, but we did manage to kill enough time that the north-bound traffic had pretty much cleared out by the time we left.  Stephanie and Sarina headed back to Ogden after a brief visit at my place, and I headed over to Mel's for a little birthday celebration... I didn't want to try and get everyone together on a weeknight, but apparently Saturday is an even rougher night!  But Mel and her family were there, and Al came by and we had snacks, cake and watched Transformers.  Good times.  Oh, and thanks again Mel for the GC... I love a good excuse to go to the scrapbook store!


And now, the count-down is on for Dallas!  Just a few more days and we're off :D

Happy Halloween!

This should be an interesting day at work.  Halloween is pretty much our lowest productivity day of the year.  I've been listening to saws, power drills, the distinctive sound of someone undoing a roll of duct tape and the occassional Oingo Boingo on the radio for the last two days.  Our developers are building a spook alley a few rows down.  When asked in our daily stand-up meeting what projects they were working on, the answer was "spook alley."  When someone mentioned that they had a question, the answer was "about the spook alley?"  These guys are awesome.  There are orange lights and spider webs all over the lobbies and lots of people in costume.  I'm wearing the jambiya on a belt that Nicole brought me from Yemen along with a halo and angel wings.  I'm the angel of death. :D The kids come in to trick-or-treat later this afternoon, so we still have to finish hanging ghosts and cutting out skeletons for our little kid friendly setup.  My goal for today?  Keep my hands out of the candy bowl and do something work related.  lol.

So apparently, there's supposed to be an obligatory "it's my birthday" blog post and I slacked.  Yesterday was, in fact, my birthday.  Thank you so much to everyone who called, wrote, sang to me (I think I had a record breaking number of times I was sung to), took me to lunch and brought cake.  It made my day.  When I came into work yesterday the ladies in my row had decorated my cube - it was so sweet!  Then a group from our department took me to lunch.  I chose Shoots - a chinese restaurant just down the street.  So yummy.  Later in the afternoon, they broke out a cake!  I was totally surprised that they had done that for me.


So work was a fun day.  Then I got to go home and open presents!  Thank you to my family for everything that you sent.  I loved all of it!  The new running shoes are especially appreciated.  And I'm sure I'll appreciate them much more after they're broken in and the blisters turn to calluses.  lol.



LOL... now the developers are playing a demented version of "It's a Small World" in their spook alley.  Apparently it includes doll heads with glow in the dark eyes and parts of Poltrageist playing on TVs.  This is going to be a fun day :D.  I'm going to have that song stuck in my head ALL DAY!!!


Well, I can FINALLY say that I know what happens to Harry Potter.  No fear, I won't post any spoilers :)  However, since I was apparently on the late delivery schedule to get my book, I didn't start reading until about 7:30pm on Saturday.  So before that, I got to go over to Mel's to celebrate Angelina's 7th birthday.  I can't believe she's already 7!  I still have her baby picture hanging up in my scrap attic.  Anyway, it was fun.  Angelina was on the couch when I got there feeling bad from what looked like an ear infection, but some Tylenol, cake and presents seemed to make the pain go away very quickly... lol.  So, here are some pictures from the little party :)






Blog_angelina_and_i_sp (The little Hello Kitty photo tote was from me.  Because I would never give anyone a scrapbook kit, Hello Kitty or otherwise, right?  lol).

Blog_the_deathly_hallows_2 I picked up my mail (and my beautiful new HP book) on my way in after the party, and immediately set to reading while I ate dinner.  It's actually pretty lucky that I don't have stains all over the carpet given how little attention I was paying to dinner.  But I thought the book was worth the excitement and the suspense.  I couldn't put it down and read the whole thing, all 750ish pages, in one sitting.  It was awesome.  I'll probably read it again in a few days just to pick up on details.  Loved it!  And I'm so glad that even though it's the last book, we still have more movies to look forward to :)

Ben's Birthday Weekend

Blog__king_of_the_playgroundWell now that I've dispensed with the posting that shows my enduring love of all things Jane Austen, on to Ben's Birthday weekend!  I drove up to Rexburg on Saturday to celebrate Ben's first birthday.  He was being especially cute all day and I was shocked at the number of pictures I had taken when I downloaded them last night.  Anyway, after I got there we went out to grab some lunch and run a few errands.  Ben and I bonded at the grocery store - he's in the stage where he makes lots of cute noises and says a few words but doesn't actually talk.  After that, we went back and Rick and I went to the little park at their complex while Erin worked on the cake.  Blog__playground_car

Around 5pm, friends and neighbors came by to have pizza and cake and watch Ben unrap his pile of presents.  This boy is definitely spoiled.  He had no clue what was going on - we had to take away each present after he opened it so that he would be interested in the next one.  It was really cute, though.  He would help tear off the paper and then when he saw what was inside, out would come this little stream of excited baby gibberish, frequently punctuated with two of the words he does know... "toy" and "wow."  The wows were my favorite.  Blog__blowing_out_candle   



I got Ben the Busy Ball Popper.  After the guests left, we put it together and started playing.  Ben LOVED it.  I had bought it for him after seeing a commercial for it and thinking he would love it.  It was soooo cute to see him reacting just like the commercial!  He got so excited when the balls popped out and sometimes would try to keep them from coming out.  He even learned how to start it on his own.  I think it was almost as much fun for me as it was for him.

Blog__peekabooAnd on to another example of Ben being cute... Ben and Rick were playing peek-a-boo.  Ben would hide around the entertainment center in the living room and then pop around the corner to peek at daddy.   

Sunday morning, Erin made pancakes and of course, Ben needed a little cleaning up afterwards so he got a little mini-bath in the kitchen sink.  He's totally fascinated by the stream of water from the faucet.  Again, just adorable.Blog__ben_in_sink

Unfortunately, not too long after it was time for me to take off to make it back to Utah for another work week :-P  But I'm so excited that I had the chance to be there to celebrate.  The rest of the pictures are here. :)

Ben is One!

P4080089I can't believe this little guy is already one!  Happy Birthday to my adorable little nephew Ben!  I'm sure he's going to be spoiled rotten today, and I can't wait to see him this weekend to continue said spoiling :)

Catching Up...

So, the first portion of my post can be filed under "lessons learned."  Never book a flight where you change airlines with less than a 2-hour layover (especially when one of those airlines is Frontier) unless you actually LIKE having your bag "misplaced" going both directions.  LOL. 

Second, I haven't really been doing a lot of scrapbooking lately (although thanks to Mel, I think I'm back on track :D ) so a few weeks ago I decided to pull out some canvases I had started and finish up a few paintings that I was working on.  These were supposed to be somewhat modern multi-media representations of Paris and Venice, but I think the jury is still out.  I'm pretty sure I like Paris, but... well... lol.  Anyway, I found some awesome black wood frames on clearance at Target so I went ahead and framed and hung them anyway :DParis_painting_1 Venice_painting_1

Yesterday, we celebrated my grandma's 79th birthday (although, we did haMiracle_1ve to continually remind her that it was HER birthday we were celebrating.  LOL.)  The best part was after grandma managed to blow out all three of her candles and grandpa says "well, THAT was a miracle."  LOL.  My family is seriously funny.  Of course, we're also quite silly.  I present exhibits B and C below, which involve myself, my sister, and a very dirty dog named Casper.



The other cool thing yesterday was a quote that our teacher read in Sunday School.  Now I'm sure that those who are LDS and have been to gospel doctrine recently have probably already heard this, but it was new to me (our ward is a few weeks behind on lessons)... it's a quote from Spencer W. Kimball that we were discussing in relation both to Jonah and his whale friend, and us personally.  "I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter."  That was so cool for me!  I've been staring in an open door with some fears and this was just a perfect message at the perfect time, you know?  Love those!

Now, for the catch-up post finale, I present to you what it looks like wMel_scrapbooking_2hen you scrapbook to Nine Inch Nails and Candlebox (and while, in my case, drinking Mountain Dew.  Mmm... Mountain Dew.)   And, below, we see the direct results of giving a 6-year old a camera.  LOL.6_year_old_with_camera_1

and... I'm an AUNTIE!

My nephew, Benjamin Erik was born at 11:23am MST (exactly 40 minutes ago!). He is 6 pounds 7 ounces and 19 inches long.  Mother and Father and both well and very happy.  My brother says he has a complete FULL head of hair.  All I'm sayin' is that my brother had BETTER have a camera with him, or I'm going to smack that kid around!  LOL.  Just kidding :D  I'm so psyched.  Now I have to practice spoiling someone other than my little puppies :D  Auntie Gwen.  I'm so excited.  Yay!

ETA:  Nicole said they should have named him Damian since it's 6/6/06.  Shaking my head.

My brother sent pictures!