A Family Portrait

Nicole sent this picture a few weeks ago and I about died laughing. It was taken last Fall when Adorable-Niece-Aubrey was getting her first pony ride. As you can see, she was super psyched about it.

IMG_2997And a few close-ups... all the better to see the joy on her face.

IMG_8395Nicole had said she enjoyed this photo as a family portrait because it was so indicative of personalities at that point in time. I have to agree! Priceless moment. And note that the pony is totally unphased. lol. Gotta love it.

Trying to get caught up...

All right, so I've been told that I need to post because my blog has gotten boring (ahem... thanks Patty and Tracie!) So, I'm trying... things got super busy for a month and then predictibly, just as I was starting to have some time, I got sick. So now it's been another two weeks and I'm finally feeling like myself again, so I thought I'd try and post a few things.

First up, I did this layout a month or so ago but didn't post because the kit wasn't out yet. So this is using a new (relatively... lol) kit from Gennifer Bursett called More Cowbell (how do you not love that?)

This is a series of pictures I took of Adorable-Niece-Aubrey while they were up visiting me over Columbus Day weekend. We were having breakfast and she was just too funny - they worked well with the kit so I grabbed them to use... they capture her personality perfectly.


Next is a paper layout that I did last week using a few pictures of the kids playing together at a park. Just a simple one while I worked on getting my mojo back. This uses bits and pieces of several recent Studio Calico kits.

Simple Everyday Moments
And a close-up:

Simple Everyday Moments Close-up

That's it for layouts... be back later with more.

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.

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.


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

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:


Stony Creek and the Thimble Islands in Branford:

My hotel room at the W Chicago:


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 :)

A few art journal pages

Whoops! Meant to post these a few days ago and then headed off for a quick business trip to our new office in Chicago. That was pretty fun... except for the rain delay getting back home. But it's all good.

A few more art journal pages from the last week or so:

Life Moves Fast Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur

This was mostly experimentation - lots of layers. The journaling is a stamp from Studio Calico with a quote from Ferris Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

The second is another play page - using pieces of leftover dried paint that I pulled off of my palette (thanks to one of Donna Downey's Inspiration Wednesday videos for the idea.)

I Love Paint - Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
The last is the favorite of my recent pages - I used a quote I saw on Pinterest (from memory, so probably paraphrased) as the journaling. "Flowers have to grow through dirt before they bloom." (I think this will be another canvas at some point... love the flowers and colors!)

Flowers Grow Through Dirt Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
That's it for now... next up, I'll share the results of the class I took last weekend and maybe a bit from the Chicago trip :)

July Project Life

I think I'm getting slower each month, but it's still done, and that's what counts, right? I finished up July this last weekend and am just getting around to posting it. It was a busy month! Lots of pages... lots of great memories :)

Again, 6x8 Studio Calico Handbook. Lots of Studio Calico kit products and PL cards, also some of the Project Life cards I've made recently. I'll be making more for sure!

Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1

Project Life 2013 - July p1

(The pictures of the 4th aren't as dark in real life - you can see them pretty clearly.)

Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1
Project Life 2013 - July p1
This month is probably going to be just as busy... I'm trying to mentally prepare for the photo editing ahead in hopes that I'll tackle it sooner next month. lol.

More Happy Little Moments

Last year (or the year before?) I took a class at Studio Calico called Happy Little Moments. Last month they had a 2nd class - More Happy Little Moments where I did a second altered book. This time, since I thought I was moving to Chicago (which still hasn't been ruled out - it's just not happening immediately), I wanted to do something to remember all of the things I love about my 113 year old house here in Connecticut. So that's what I did in my book - focusing on the little details that made me decide to take this house (which definitely doesn't include the lack of air conditioning, the musty old-wood smell from the bottom staircase, or the plethora of bugs and spiders I've found! The daddy long-legs love that musty staircase.) But there's plenty to love - enough to make it all worth while. Well, that and a portable air conditioner for the master bedroom in the attic. lol.

So here's the cover - I got an old Hardy Boys book with a glossy picture on the cover, so I put on a few coats of gesso and then gelli printed on both covers and the spine and then added a collaged house on top. It turned out great!

I worked on it on and off through June and finally finished the inside pages this last week. So here they are! A little peek at my house.




That's it! It was a fun project. Lots of stitching, modeling cream / paste and gesso. I'm pretty happy with it, and now I'll have a nice momento of my time here whenever I end up moving on.



June Project Life

Well, I was a little later than I wanted to be getting this together, but the beginning of the month was super crazy! But I finished it up the other night and finally got some pictures so I can post it.

Here's June in a nutshell!

Project Life 2013 June p1-2
Project Life 2013 June p1-2
Project Life 2013 June p1-2
Project Life 2013 June p1-2
Project Life 2013 June p1-2(The little monster on the left is a sticker I got a the booth where I bought my monster - Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn. I wanted to include him but he didn't fit on a page and I stuck it there for a second to get him out of the way and liked it. I'll see if he stays... the backing is still on for now.)

And you may have noticed the top card on this last page - my Summer To-Do List. I made this digitally with elements from Gennifer Bursett's Scarlet Letter papers and elements.

Summer To-Do Journal Card
Note the 2nd and 3rd items... that's part of why things got so crazy there for a while. My company is opening an office in Chicago as the headquarters for our new global digital team, which I am now on. At first they asked me to move there, and then they realized that I'm going to be 95% virtual regardless of where I work, so they decided not to put me through a relocation (which also saves them a ton of money!) Fortunately, I had a feeling that I shouldn't start doing anything for the move until they finalized everything and made the official announcement. So no worries! I think it would have been a great adventure, and I'm not ruling out having it happen at some point, but for now I get to stay in Connecticut which is great. I've started to meet people here and I love being so close to my family, so I think it's a win-win. Now I can focus on the rest of my list... and can I tell you how excited I am for the Donna Downey weekend next week? I'm taking 3 of the 4 workshops and I'm already starting to get my supplies ready. I can't wait!

And now... on to the next project!

May Project Life

Holy cow... it's JUNE! How did that happen?

The flying of time notwithstanding, I did fit in keeping my Project Life book up to date. January - April filled a book, so I started a new one - another 6x8, but a Studio Calico Handbook this time. Here are the spreads for last month:

Project Life 2013 - May p1
Project Life 2013 - May p2-3
Project Life 2013 - May p2-3
Project Life 2013 - May p2-3
Project Life 2013 - May p2-3
Project Life 2013 - May p2-3
Project Life 2013 - May p2-3
Project Life 2013 - May p2-3
Project Life 2013 - May p2-3
Highlights: too many cupcakes (but delicious!), Skyping my mom's birthday party, some really good burgers, fun crafty classes including gelli printing and getting into Zentangle, Angela, Steve and the kids coming up from NYC to play (the PEZ factory!), changes at work (ongoing...), and some good books and movies. It was a good month!

On a roll!

Just popping in with another layout. This was for another Studio Calico NSD challenge - this time to use stamps to create your own background paper. I really like how this one turned out, but the weather here has been kind of dank lately, so I didn't get good lighting on the photos (what's new?)

The pictures aren't that dark and grainy in real life. These are from Easter... and my favorite thing? Facial expressions are priceless. Especially the top one with Eraleigh and Aubrey looking askance at William while he fussed. You can really see their personalities here. Such cuties!

So-Funny-and-Adorable-CloseI'm also taking the Pop off the Page 2 class this month (more like following along really... lol) and was inspired to add some of that layering to the page. I really like this look but don't usually do it, but I think it turned out well.

And here, I tried to get a picture of how I did the stamping. I used several different sets and did lots of layering. I'll have to do this again - it was fun.

That's it for now... I'm off to play. I'm taking Julie Balzer's Gelli plate class online and just got a new brayer so I can really experiment. And tomorrow, I'm back at the scrapbook store in Westbrook to try a Zentangle class! Should be fun :D If it's going to be a rainy weekend, it might a well be a crafty one too!

Your eyes do not deceive you.

Not only two posts in a week, two posts with layouts.

I'm still doing some of the challenges from NSD at Studio Calico and last night I did one to use stencils without mists. So, I pulled out my recently acquired mono / Gelli printing skills (I use the term "skills" very loosely. lol.) and used the Studio Calico Sundrifter stencil with acrylic plates to make some cool background paper. And to go with that paper, I could only use photos from the Muse show last month.

The monoprint is the one with the blue and gold. I added some silver Inka Gold rubon waxy stuff and some red liquid pearls.

I added some brads, sequins, and metallic puffy stickers from the stash, along with a glitter and washi tape border.

This was fun. Maybe I'll actually start doing layouts again. Who knows?

Aside from that, I've been in serious Instagram withdrawl over the last 2 days. I can see my feed, but every time I try and post a photo it crashes. What's up with that? Last 2 app updates = epic fail. Anyway. Off to play a little more and finish the laundry.

Project Life - March

Finished another month! I'm on a roll. Although I have a lot of photos for April, so I'll probably get a bit behind again over the next few weeks, but this is the most caught up I've been in a long time! (Ignoring the fact that I haven't finished my book with August-November of 2012 yet. Take the wins where you can get them!)

So with that, here are the Project Life pages for March:

Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
Project Life 2013 March p1
I really love doing this format (6x8). I love that I can be creative where I want or just use photos and journaling cards. I love being able to just stick in inserts, and not feeling like I have to be tied to a certain layout or number of pages per week... I used a lot of space here for Easter weekend and I don't think I would have doing the 2-page 12x12 spread for each week. I'm glad I found something that works really well for me.

And now, I may start printing photos for April before the month is even over. Getting crazy over here!

Project Life - February

I know. Not only two posts in a month, two posts in a week. Getting crazy here. (And probably won't post again until mid-May. lol.)

Discovered that my cold came with a double dose of pink eye... been house-bound since Saturday, with the exception of a trip to the doctor. But I'm contagion free as of today and should be back in the office tomorrow. Good thing! I hate working on my laptop without my mouse (#firstworldproblems) and tomorrow's the Muse concert, so it's a good thing my body's cooperating on timing! But let's face it. I would have risked giving half of New England pink eye to be at that show. lol. Glad it won't come to that.

In the meantime, I finished most of February's Project Life pages over the weekend... put the finishing touches on the last ones last night.

Without further ado:

Project Life 2013 February p1-2
Project Life 2013 February p3

During the month, I found a quote on Instagram that I loved, so I took a screenshot and saved it in my photo stream and then printed it to go on the back of my journaling. Also included a big envelope to hold the Valentine's cards and notes.

Project Life 2013 February p3
Project Life 2013 February p3

During February, I also signed up and put down the deposit for my next trip - I'm headed out on a 3 week adventure to South-East Asia early next year and so I included the travel package they sent with the trip overview and information and added a little journaling to the envelope.

Project Life 2013 February p3
Project Life 2013 February p3
Last page is just some random, everyday shots of little things. (I adore that letterpress card from Kelly Purkey on the left... I almost didn't use it but decided to fight my hoarding instincts for once.)

That's it! Thinking I might start editing and printing photos for March tonight. We'll see... that might be too much productivity in such a short time period.

Catching up

It's time for my monthly blog post! lol. I've had a terrible time keeping up - I've been busy or traveling or sick or whatever, so I've decided to not worry about it and just pop in to update when I can.

Last week I was able to fly down to Virginia for the weekend to visit the family for Easter. It was a quick trip, but I was so glad to go - I haven't been home for Easter for 7-8 years, and I haven't ever been able to spend it with the kids, so this was really fun. We hunted eggs and played and watched movies and everything. And you know I've been able to go home a lot when I didn't even go to Wegman's! Anyway, here's one of my favorite photos from the weekend:

We had a little hug fest. I was mobbed. It was cute.

This week I've been busy at work and sick on top of it - I don't know if I caught it before I went home or got it while I was there or on the plane or some combination, but I'm feeling better... hoping it goes away quickly so I'll be ready to go see Muse next weekend! In the meantime, I've been listening to General Conference this weekend. We don't get it on TV here in Connecticut (at least not on cable), so I've been watching the sessions on my computer in my scrap room. While listening, I've started catching up on this year's Project Life. I'm doing a paper version this year, working in a 6x8 album. The one for the first part of the year is a Simple Stories album and page protectors. Supplies are mostly from Studio Calico kits with some Seafoam, some digital Midnight PL kits, and some Kelly Purkey from Simon Says Stamp.

Title page:

Project Life 2013 Title Page
I decided not to try and do weekly this year. It was too much last year and I moved away from it at the end of the summer when moving to CT and starting the new job got to be too much. I like this a lot better - I'm doing it kind of like I do my travel journals - just sticking stuff in the binder and using the divided page protectors. I'm liking it so far.

Here are the pages for January:

Project Life 2013 January p1-2
Project Life 2013 January p1-2
Project Life 2013 January p1-2
Project Life 2013 January p1-2
Project Life 2013 January p1-2
I also managed to get all of the February photos printed and put into pages. I'm working on adding the journaling and doing a little embellishing. I might have to stop after that... I wouldn't want to do anything crazy like get caught up. lol.

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.

IMG_1106 web
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:

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.

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.

Then days 17-18:

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...


(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 :)

How does this not make you smile?

I'm taking a new class at Studio Calico called Bright Ideas with lots of great ideas and challenges and I actually managed to do one! This one was to make your own stencil and use it on the layout so I made a stencil with some some of the cut files from the class and then used the sketch for the challenge.

I used this picture that Nicole sent of Adorable-Niece-Aubrey> I laugh every time I see it.

BI1 - How does this NOT make you smile

The lighting for the picture was terrible as usual... it looks lots better in person.

BI1 - How does this NOT make you smile close-up
Hopefully this weekend I can start and catch up on my 28 Days of Love album... assuming I have power after the main part of this blizzard hits tonight :-P

December Daily - Finished!

Whew! For a while there I wasn't sure I was going to finish this thing... I had about a week there where I just didn't want to pick it up again. But I just decided to not worry about it and finally I came back around.

So. Here are the pages for the 24th:

December Daily 2012 Day 24a
December Daily 2012 Day 24b
I saw a larger sized diecut like this online - it was by Ormolu, I think. I knew I had a globe shape in my Silhouette library, so with a little ingenuity, I knew I could make something similar. Of course, I had to increase the difficulty level by making it smaller, cutting it from POW glitter paper, and using a super thin font (Raleway.) But it worked!

December Daily 2012 Day 24d
I just used gel medium to adhere... I kind of like the semi-opaque look it gives the transparency, so I deliberatly covered the whole thing. I saved the Silhouette file so I can use it again.

And Christmas day... I went ahead and did 4 pages with 2 inserts.

December Daily 2012 Day 25a

December Daily 2012 Day 25b

I decided to just do 3 pages of photo collages... I got in 18 photos, and they kind of tell the story.

The first was Christmas morning at Nicole and Brian's seeing what Santa had brought.

December Daily 2012 Day 25c
The rest are at my parents' house.

December Daily 2012 Day 25d

December Daily 2012 Day 25e

December Daily 2012 Day 25f

December Daily 2012 Day 25g

December Daily 2012 Day 25h

At the back, I included an envelope with a few bits and pieces from the rest of my stay, but I decided to end on the 25th. At some point I may do a layout or two of some of the other things we did... we'll see.

December Daily 2012 Finished Album
As for the December Daily, I liked the 4x6 size, but I like doing a bigger album much better. I stick too many extra things into my album, so I like having a larger surface area and not having to try and get creative with my inserts. But I do think this one came out pretty cool... full of memories!

Yay! Now I can get back to finishing last year's Project Life and starting this year's. My Studio Calico project life kit (and my other SC kits) came today, and I'm excited to dig into them :)

December Daily Catch-up part 1 & some sewing!

Hello January! I can't believe how fast the time has flown. I've been back in town a week but there's just been too much going on and I haven't had a chance to sit down and catch up.

I did these pages last weekend after I got back from Virginia, but never posted them. Oops!

December 22-23...

December Daily 2012 Day 22a
December Daily 2012 Day 22b
I have to say, the trip home is so nice now! I can catch at 10am flight down to Dulles... which means I don't have to leave before 7am to get to Hartford, but I'm in DC in time to have lunch with my family and spend the rest of the day. It makes it so much easier! So I got my bags and met Mom, Dad, and Grandpa out at the pick-up door and we headed to Wegman's for lunch and to do our Christmas grocery shopping. Then mom and I just ran errands all day... and stopped for manicures :) It was great to be with them, but I hadn't slept a lot the previous week, especially the night before so I was so exhausted I begged out of going to a movie and went up to bed at 8:30. lol. But it was fun to be down and see everyone and get settled in a bit.

The 23rd...

December Daily 2012 Day 23a
This is actually the journaling for the 22nd - the next day is on the back. I also saved the program from church - there was a beautiful music program in Sacrament meeting - it was quite a treat... there are some really talented musicians in the ward.

December Daily 2012 Day 23b
After church, we got out Dad's new Cuisinart Griller and since they'd given me one for Christmas 2 years ago, I showed them how to use it and we made paninis for lunch. Then as we were cleaning up, I asked Mom if she thought anyone was going to come over that afternoon and, I kid you not, 10 seconds later the garage door opened and in walked Rick, Erin and the kids. They weren't planning to come until Monday, but got too excited and came up a day early. It was great to see them! We had to rush to wrap a few presents before they saw, but then we were able to play and chat for the rest of the evening. Then I packed up and headed over to stay at Nicole & Brian's until after Christmas.

So that's those two days... still working on catching up!

In the meantime, I pulled out my sewing machine. That's twice in 4 months! A record, I'm sure.

First, I got 3 handmade pillow cases I'd ordered from an Etsy Seller in New Delhi that I needed to make pillow forms for. I pulled out some fabric I already had and made those, but needed more polyfill stuffing. So New Year's Day, I went over to JoAnn to pick that up, and thought while I was there I'd look for material to make the curtain I'd been meaning to make for my back door (which is the main entrance to my house.) I had been planning to do something with sheers, but found this instead:

Curtain Supplies
It's kind of a taupe linen embroidered with turquoise flowers. It was so perfect... and the fabric was made so either side could face out - perfect for going in a window where people will see the back when they come to the door.

I thought about just doing it plain, but thought I'd take a quick trip through the trimming aisle to see if there was anything that would work, and I found this fun pom-pom trim that matched almost perfectly. It's a tad funky, but it works for me. And I found thread that was almost perfect as well - you can barely see it.

So I got home and finished my pillow forms, then set to work on curtains - measure and cut, then sew. And, I'm proud to say, that for the first time EVER, I filled and threaded the bobbin without getting out the machine instructions. It's a miracle!

And here's what I made:

New Back Door Curtain
I decided to gather them in the middle - I had some wire and glass beads that I'd bought a while ago planning to do this exact thing for my bedroom curtains in Utah. Since that didn't happen, I decided to use it for this and it worked great! I can still take it off to just let it hang.

New Back Door Curtain Close-up
Then I made the one for the window in my main staircase.

Stair Window Curtain
That one couldn't have come out more perfect so I'm really pleased. I smile when I see them both... it's just the little things :)

And a view of my couch with all my colorful new pillows on it - definitely no longer beige and boring!

Couch Cushions
The big one in the back is from Target (there are 2 - one on the other end). The long one with the blue Suzani pattern and the square sequined one are Pier 1. The other 3 are the ones I got from India. The red was just what it needed, and the other one ties in the green from my Target pillows. I have them more spread out now... I keep messing with it :) But all the color and pattern makes me really happy.

That's it for now! Off to make dinner and then hopefully get more caught up on my December Daily so I can start working on finishing last year's Project Life mini album and starting this year. Lots to do!

The Mayans were wrong.

I'm not exactly surprised, but it did make a great title for today's December Daily spread!

December Daily 2012 Day 21a
Just vinyl Thickers adhered to chipboard, then some Doodlebug letter stickers. I painted over all of it in gold and sprinkled on some gold glitter while the paint was still wet. (I had originally planned to do this page for the 12th, then decided to do the 21st instead and add the thing about the Mayans so I had to switch things. You can kind of see where I fudged it, but it doesn't bother me :)

December Daily 2012 Day 21b
And a little journaling card insert followed by a few pictures from the day.

December Daily 2012 Day 21c

December Daily 2012 Day 21d
After work, Cassi, Steve, and I headed to New Haven to have dinner at Prime 16. I've wanted to go try it for a while, and it didn't disappoint! We had an order of fried pickles with chipotle dipping sauce that we shared, then I got the Half Bacon Burger on a pretzel roll... the beef was stuffed with applewood smoked bacon, then topped with more bacon along with cheddar, pickles, and tomatoes, with a garlic aioli on the side and the roll was amazing. It came with truffle parmesan fries. Holy moly. It was like one of the best, if not THE best burger I've ever had. I couldn't talk for the first few bites. I just had to savor. And if that wasn't enough, Cassi was in the mood for cheesecake after we saw it on the menu, and I saw they had bread pudding which I love (peanut butter and jelly this week!) so we got those and all of us had a few bites of each, then boxed up the leftovers. (And now two burgers in two days... I've met my burger quota for the next little while for sure!)

It was a great night... we had a lot of fun, really enjoyed the food, and we were glad to have a little holiday get together before we went our separate ways until after the New Year.

So with that, I'm just doing some last minute stuff to be ready to go spend time with my family. I'm going to put my December Daily and blogging and everything on hold for the next week or so while we celebrate. I can't wait to see everyone!

Merry Christmas!

4 months

Yesterday was the 4 month anniversary on the job. Normally I don't keep track like this, but I'm kind of anxious to hit 5 months and surpass the time on my last job. lol.

Busy day... celebrating, lots of projects, working hard to get some stuff out the door before the break... by the end of the day I was just exhausted. I'm super ready to have a little time off to relax. And fortunately, that time isn't far off!

I included a few pictures from the day - all food - not really a surprise. It was Jenn's birthday so we went to lunch and had cupcakes, and Christine brought in little Christmas gifts for everyone (she's so thoughtful!)

December Daily 2012 Day 20a

December Daily 2012 Day 20b
I included the cute card from Christine's gift basket...

December Daily 2012 Day 20c
And a little Doodlebug envelope that I decorated to hold some typed journaling for the day.

December Daily 2012 Day 20d
And in the back you can see the gold insert I originally did for the 11th. I decided to move it since I wanted to use the back of it for the 21st.

The book is getting full! Good thing it's almost Christmas :)

December Daily 2012 Day 20 - getting full

Check one more off my Christmas list

The number one thing I wanted to do this season was to go over to the town green to see the lights and the tree they planted there. I happened to see the truck with the tree strapped to it driving into the center of town last month and I was so excited! They had a tree lighting ceremony and a parade that went right past my house while I was home for Thanksgiving. Since I missed that, I didn't want to miss going to walk around the center of town and take pictures of the lights.

Fortunately, thanks to my handy dandy nerd list, I remembered to do it! (I'm not kidding. I almost forgot... that's why I need that list!)

Last night after work I went home and dropped of my laptop, changed my shoes, grabbed my camera, and walked two blocks to the town center. (I'm not kidding... it's literally two blocks!) It's just so picturesque that I can't quite get over it!

All the street lights are decorated...

And then the town green with the huge tree (and menorah) with the churches and town hall lined up along the back.

Branford Town Green Christmas Tree 2012(The big glowing blob is the menorah.)

It was quiet, still... so peaceful and beautiful. And I managed to kind of get the bokeh effects I was going for! And a sliver of the moon, hanging just over top of the tree.

Branford Christmas Tree and Moon
Looks like my lens has a slightly funny shape - I almost get hearts instead of circles when I do the bokeh. I think it's pretty cool looking.

Then as I headed back toward my house, the bells of the church rang out the hour behind me... I just love that. Because I'm so close, when it's quiet I can hear them inside the house and I stop to listen every time. I've always loved bells and I'm so thrilled to live where I can hear them regularly.

About a block from my house is a great little cafe that we go to for lunch sometimes... I've never been outside of work, but since I don't want to cook or buy groceries before taking off for the holidays, I stopped to get something off their very excellent salad bar (and maybe a slice of peanut butter pie. Don't judge. It was delicious.) Then walked the last block back home. As I walked I just thought how totally cool it is to be in this location... it's perfect for me. It's not so big and busy that it makes my introverted self want to head for the hills, but I can just walk into town to go to the store or grab food or go to the library... hang out and read a book in the town green... whatever. I'm not quite over the novelty of it yet.

When I got home, I had left on the lights of my tree so I could see them as I came up the steps to go inside. It just made me happy. So I cuddled up on the couch with my dinner and a movie and enjoyed the rest of a lovely evening. And it wasn't even a Hallmark Christmas movie! (it was a Lifetime Christmas movie. lol.)

So anyway... that's the story and photos from last night's December Daily entry.

December Daily 2012 Day 19a
The way the lights are in my house, I have a terrible time avoiding the glare... especially on the right side where I used a transparency to back the frame insert - the photo isn't attached - it's in a sleeve behind the frame page.

December Daily 2012 Day 19b
December Daily 2012 Day 19c
I made the frame just using the rectangle and offset tools in the Silhouette software and then I typed the words (Pacifico font) and welded them to the frame and cut it out of American Crafts POW paper. I love that stuff!

Now I just need to do about a week's worth of work in two days and get everything ready for me to go home for the holidays. Plenty to keep me busy, that's for sure!

December Daily Day 18

I'm going to admit something kind of nerdy.

I have a list.

It's a list of things that I want to do this holiday season and I check them off... the list in and of itself isn't too nerdy - lots of people have them. It's that without the list, I would just sit in front of the tv watching Hallmark movies every night if I didn't have it.

So one thing on my list was to make an attempt at doing some bokeh effects with my camera and the tree lights.


I thought about cutting out a shape and attaching it to my lens filter to get heart shaped bokeh, but given my success rate with Christmas experimentation so far this year, I decided to cut my losses with this semi-successful photo. Even without the full bokeh effect it still looks pretty good.

So, that's my photo for yesterday's entry.

December Daily 2012 Day 18a
I love those gold doilies.

December Daily 2012 Day 18b

And then lots more journaling about... you guessed it! Work!

December Daily 2012 Day 18c
And then I got a few Christmas cards yesterday. The one from Brent and his family was awesome, but wouldn't fit in my book, so rather than ruin it with creative folding / hole punching, I decided to leave it out for now. I might tuck it in the back later.

But... the Christmas card from the Marriott School came too and it fits - Chad sent me one, along with a nice little note. I was excited... they don't send them to just anyone (unless you have connections!) and they're quite coveted as they're known among the other business schools for being extremely creative. They have to one-up themselves every year. This year was awesome, as always!

December Daily 2012 Day 18d

That's it for now... another crazy-busy day at work ahead... (naturally!)

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire?

Eh. Not so much. But it wasn't my fault!

So here's the deal. I've always wanted to try roasted chestnuts. We sing about them every year... and last year when I was in Istanbul they sold them in carts everywhere in Taksim Square and I swore I was going to stop and get some. And I didn't. So then, I decided that since I hadn't gotten them, I'd get some and make them for Christmas last December. And I didn't.

But they're nuts. They keep, right? So I put them in the fridge (I figured that, like most nuts, if you put them in the fridge they don't go rancid. Shelled nuts, at least.)

They stayed there until August when I hauled them across the country and put them in the fridge here.

Last night I pulled them out... I'd picked up instructions on roasting chestnuts at Wegmans last month. I patiently cut X's into the flat side of every one. I laid them in a single layer on the sheet. I put them in the oven at the right temp and set the timer.

They smelled amazing.

I was so excited! I took them out, they looked like they were supposed to. Curled open at the X, piping hot and smelling wonderful.

I let them cool enough to peel, opened one and took out the kernal and tried to take a bite.

Rock. hard.

I tried another one. And another. And another. I think I tried to peel five before I admitted defeat.

Note to self: fresh chestnuts seem to be required. doh. (maybe that's why I had to literally saw the Xs into the nuts? It did seem like it should be easier.)

But I tried!

Roasted Chestnut Fail
Next year. Sigh.

On to my documentation of the day...

December Daily 2012 Days 16-17
I used one of the cut files by Marcy Penner from the Studio Calico 25 Days class to make a little envelope - you can't see well, but it has a little "open" arrow / word cut into the front, and I lined the inside with some heavy vellum screenprinted with gold stars (Kelly Purkey). This holds the shipping receipt for the box I sent to Melody and also the list of presents for everyone on my list... the back has a receipt from Two Peas with a fun little message.

December Daily 2012 Day 17
And then, a photo of my failed chesnut roasting experience.

December Daily 2012 Day 17a

December Daily 2012 Day 17b
Live and learn, right?

At least it makes a good story!

December Daily Day 16

Quick update... yesterday was pretty quiet. I had pictures of the little treat bags I made up with the Candy Corn Chex Mix, along with a photo of me wrapping presents on the floor of my craft room.

December Daily 2012 Day 16I figured the pictures were pretty self explanatory and it would be a nice change to NOT have a ton of journaling... so I just used that cute Kelly Purkey stamp with the 4 food groups from Elf - candy canes checked for the Chex mix, of course!

That's it! Now it's time to go get ready for what I'm sure is going to be a crazy busy week trying to get stuff done before the holiday. But busy makes the time pass more quickly, right?

My new aqua lamp and tasty Christmas treats

Another quick drop-in post. I'm exhausted and fighting a cold (most of being up so late last night was me sick), so I'm going to try and make it a take-it-easy and go-to-bed-early kind of night.

My recap of yesterday... mostly around my expensive impulse trip to Pier 1 (across the street from the grocery store - this could be dangerous) and the totally fabulous lamp I got. Among other things.

December Daily 2012 Day 15a
You know all those Pier 1 commercials about "find what speaks to you?" They're pretty hysterical... good marketing. And apparently also totally true! A lot of stuff spoke to me yesterday, but this lamp kind of jumped up and down and screamed too.

December Daily 2012 Day 15b
It wasn't cheap... I called my mom and I was like, I have a dilemma. I've been looking for a good floor lamp for a while and I found the perfect one, but it's expensive. And when I told her how much it was, she just said, "that's not that bad." She totally enabled me (maybe that's why I called her? lol.) So I bought it. And I LOVE it. The outside of the lampshade is cream, but the inside is aqua to match the glass on the stand. And when you turn it on, it glows blue. Even the light right around the lamp is aqua. It's awesome.

December Daily 2012 Day 15c
When I was looking for an insert to write my journaling on, I pulled out this letterpress card from the Kelly Purkey December Daily kit. "Bright" because it was about a lamp. Get it? lol. I couldn't resist.

December Daily 2012 Day 15dAnd I included a few more pictures - some pillows I got (the one in the back with the green circles came last week from Target.com), a few ornaments - new and some old ones I just love, and then the Candy Cane Chex Mix I made to take to my Laurels at church today.

December Daily 2012 Day 15e
So that's my entry.

And here's a close-up of the Lamp of Aqua Awesomeness:

And the chex mix:

The recipe is on my Pinterest board for stuff I've made... I added pretzels too. It's delicious and seriously addictive.

In fact, I think I'll go have some while I bask in the aqua glow of my lovely lamp.

December Daily Day 14

Super quick update since it's way too late for me to still be up... lol.

December Daily 2012 Days 13-14
Yesterday's entry is one that I've wanted / planned to do at some point during the month. It worked out great for this day since there wasn't anything else that I wanted to put in the book.

December Daily 2012 Day 14a
This year the Christmas season has been really different for me than usual. I wanted to get down some thoughts about that - how things are different, how I'm feeling about it, all that stuff. Definitely an important part of this year for me.

December Daily 2012 Day 14b
I got a set of stamps in the mail on Friday and inside the envelope they were packaged in this great little bag. So since it was just sitting on my desk, I grabbed it to use to hold the journaling. Worked perfectly!

That's it... off to bed at last!

December Daily Day 13

Yesterday evening I took a much needed break to just relax, turn off the phone and email, and enjoy a little time doing holiday things. I really haven't done a lot of that so far this year and I've missed it. So I pulled out my favorite holiday movie - Miracle on 34th Street, and just settled in with my favorite blanket and my Christmas tree lights. It was exactly what I needed!

December Daily 2012 Day 13Just a simple page to go along with trying to cut back on the crazy yesterday. And a photo from lunch at La Cuisine with Steve, Cassi, and Jenn (that was a yummy brisket sandwich! It had blue cheese, caramlized onions and a horseradish cream sauce - I ate part for lunch and part for dinner. Not to mention they had the most sinfully delicious peanut butter sandwich cookies!) And that's all! No inserts, no long journaling... I guess the journal needed a bit of a break too :)


I wish I could say I did something special at 12:12pm... I kind of missed it with all the stuff going on at work and getting my lunch. But honestly, I've never been someone who remembered that kind of thing. It's definitely cool, though... so I made a little cutout for last night's entry.

December Daily 2012 Day 12a
I included a little envelope with some super cute packaging from some Kelly Purkey stamps that came in the mail yesterday (I love happy mail!) I also did my journaling on a tag and tucked it away in there.

December Daily 2012 Day 12b

And a few pictures from the day, including one from making cookies with the girls at Young Women's.

December Daily 2012 Day 12c
That's all for today! Hopefully the busy / crazy at work will start to settle down as we head into the weekend. I really need a good rest!

Let your heart be light!

That was kind of the theme of my journal entry for yesterday... partly as a reminder and partly because I was feeling pretty good about things. It was another entry all about work... that seems to be happening quite a bit! It's amazing how different this December is as I look back at last year's album. This year is definitely more Project Life than seasonal activities and extremely work focused so far...

Anyway... here are the pages for the 11th:

December Daily 2012 Day 11a
I ended up going out for a working lunch with a co-worker today at a Japanese restaurant near the office - I included a take-out menu and the wrapper from my chopsticks (it had a cool design... lol.)

December Daily 2012 Day 11b
I made the envelope out of patterned vellum with my Cameo, reinforced the edge with washi and added the stamped "lunch" and those fun puffy star stickers.

December Daily 2012 Day 11c
A picture of my lunch on the backside (beef yaki soba), and then I added that card to hold my journaling. Since it's work again, I wanted to keep it hidden and I also had a lot to write so this gave me more space. I used a Papertrey Ink stamp behind the sentiment and added Liquid Pearls and rhinestones.

December Daily 2012 Day 11d
I also took one of the chipboard pages and used some gesso, paint and modeling paste with a Studio Calico star template and added some snowflakes. It's just decorative - and for me to have a little fun playing :)

That's it! I already know what's going to go on the back of that chipboard for 12-12-12 :)

Day 10 already!

I can't believe how fast this month is flying by. It seems like it just started yesterday! Speaking of yesterday, that's another day that was crazy busy and went so fast I almost missed it. lol. Work has been picking up again lately, which is good. I've got a ton on my plate right now - the way I like it :) So there wasn't a whole lot going on yesterday, but I had a fun Christmas card from my grandma when I got home last night, so I had to include that... along with a picture of the delicious treats Kami dropped off (so sweet!)

December Daily 2012 Day 10a
I used one of the transparent pages and another Silhouette diecut from the Studio Calico 25 Days class cut out of American Crafts POW paper (so awesome. I need more of that stuff!)

The back side...

December Daily 2012 Day 10b
And it was hard to figure out a good way to do this, but I managed to get my grandma's Christmas card in here.

December Daily 2012 Day 10
That's all she wrote! Now I've got to finish getting ready and get into the office for my first meeting. Later!

December Daily Day 9

Just playing a little catch-up - I was too tired last night to work on my entry after I got home from Young Women in Excellence - all I wanted to do was lay on the couch in front of my tree and watch my Food Network shows... lol. So that's what I did. It was lovely.

But tonight, I got caught up - here's yesterday's entry.

December Daily 2012 Days 8-9
I included a copy of the music for the song the YW leaders sang last night... I haven't sung or even heard it for years! But it was fun.

December Daily 2012 Day 9
And a few pictures from the day. I couldn't get a picture of this without the glare to save my life, and naturally I had attached the embellishments to the outside of the page protector. Oh well...

December Daily 2012 Day 9bA necklace I worked on with the beads I bought in NYC last weekend... the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I made to take last night... A cute text message and a picture of Next Iron Chef in front of the Christmas tree.

December Daily 2012 Days 9-10
And finally, I added a journaling card to the right (and you can see the part I've finished for today sticking out... but that's for tomorrow's post!)

And that's it! I've got an early meeting tomorrow morning and I should have been in bed already so I'm off!

Braving the crowds

Yesterday I needed to run some errands down in the Milford area... I knew it was a Saturday in December in a major shopping area, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal with the crazy, you know? And it was crazy! There was an accident on 95 on my way there, and then when I got off, the traffic on the Post Road was horrible. I went to Costco first (always a scary prospect!) and actually had no trouble finding parking. I got through pretty fast, the checkout was good, but it was the line of cars trying to get back onto the road through a short light with heavy traffic that sucked. But it was okay. From there, I hit The Loft (coupons! and a sale!) and then went to Trader Joe's on my way back out. I don't think I've ever been in one, but I was tired of missing out on the Candy Cane Jo Jos every year! I definitely picked up plenty of treats to try over the next few weeks. Yummy!

So, today's December Daily entry was about getting out and shopping, and the well earned relaxation when I got home later in the evening.

December Daily 2012 Day 8

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut the red leaves and then used some Liquid Pearls to add a little more color and dimension. I really like how that came out.

December Daily 2012 Day 8L
I think these were my two favorite finds of the day:

Trader Joes JoJo Assortment
(These suckers are delicous and definitely decadent!)

Trader Joes Greek Yogurt Dip
And this dip... oh yeah. Next time I go I'm picking up several. It's a Greek yogurt dip made with feta and za-atar spice (which is thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds - I have a bottle so I can add more!) and I had it with some fresh bread from Costco. So good! One of my new favorite things.

So that's it for now. I've got to finish preparing my Young Women's lesson for today... about the value of getting an education. Should be a good one!