Thursday, November 28, 2013

5 Random Things I'm Thinking About

Encouraged by Sian's idea to Blog Cos You Want To, today I'm sharing five random things I'm thinking about/remembering as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US.

1. Winter has arrived here in Texas - we've had temperatures below freezing several times over the past week. I'm really not a fan of cold weather, particularly when it's freezing!! However, I truly enjoyed seeing the beauty of the icicles on the trees around the library when I was out running errands earlier this week.

2. My parents will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner, which always brings to mind the first semester Robbie and I were attending Stephen F. Austin State University and the story of the Thanksgiving cornish hen - click here for the whole story.

3. Although we didn't make any this year, thinking of turkeys reminds me of my favorite Thanksgiving treat. (Click here for the recipe)

4. My favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition is one that Robbie and I started the year we were dating - pie at 10 am. I have a pecan pie all ready to slice for this morning's "dessert first" tradition.
 (Click here to read about the year that tradition was broken by my niece and nephews.)

5. Thinking about traditions reminds me how much I enjoy planning something special for Robbie's birthday, which we celebrated last week with a visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.

As we celebrate today, I'm thankful for each of you who stop by regularly and allow me to share a little slice of our life via this blog!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Cards - FINISHED

I've been a busy elf and have finished up the last of the Christmas cards that I need for this year!

I wanted to use some of my (often neglected) stamps, so I pulled out a variety and set to work. I layered papers and punched scalloped circles for these first three cards.

This Santa stamp is one of my favorites.
 I used some of my snowmen stamps, however I think these are my least favorite cards of the bunch.

I also had some foam stickers that I wanted to use. I added a strip of patterned paper and a Happy Holidays stamp to the cards with these fun reindeer stickers.

The cards in this last set are my favorites - foam Santa and gift stickers paired with Christmas washi tape.

How are y'all coming with your Christmas cards? Have you finished or are you almost done? (December is just around the corner!)

Friday, November 22, 2013

It Wasn't On My Bucket List

Remember these gorgeous New Year New You papers from Webster's Pages that I got in my first Scrappin' Goodtime Design Team kit? One of the papers is called Bucket List, so I started thinking about how I could use that theme for my project.

The problem I had is that I've really never made a bucket list. In fact, I've often joked with Robbie that if I had created a list, I wouldn't have included many of things I've done over the past several years because I never assumed I'd have the opportunity to do them. So, while I was bouncing ideas off Robbie for these papers, he said "why don't you just scrap the things that wouldn't have been on your bucket list."

Luckily my kit also contained a Maya Road 8x8 chipboard album... I set to work creating an album titled It Wasn't On My Bucket List. Here's a look at the cover.

I ended up doing a lot of fussy cutting for this project as I cut out doilies and clocks and buckets from the patterned papers, and I really like the result! I also added some white doilies and a variety of flowers and Candi dots from my stash. I created a title page with an introduction about why these items were included in the album and also used one of the quote cards from the New Year New You papers.

Each of the following pages describes one of the items that wasn't on my bucket list.

I had so much fun working with these papers and am totally excited to have these not-on-my-bucket-list items documented in such a cute album (which is currently on display at Scrappin' Goodtime).

Do you have a bucket list? Have you scrapped about it?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Frugal Still Life Photographer

My friend Cheryl is a wonderful photographer, and she has something special planned beginning in January. She will be hosting a free 8-week journey sharing techniques and tips for still life photography.

Personally, I'm not good about taking photos of things - I just place the item somewhere there's decent light and snap away.
Robbie, on the other hand, tends to think about the background and surrounding area when snapping a photo.

So, I'm excited to be signed up to participate in the Frugal Still Life Photographer journey. I'm looking forward to learning more about backgrounds, props, and setting up shots. Click here to check out all the details and sign up now so you don't miss out!

Do you tend to set up your still life photos . . . or, like me, simply snap a photo of the item?

Sunday, November 17, 2013


A quick post today to share another layout inspired by an older Glitter Girl video - episode four. This layout with be the first page in the Jamaica section of our 10th Anniversary Cruise Album (which I'm still working on sporadically).

Journaling reads: Our first view of Jamaica was actually the dock area that was constructed by and owned by Royal Caribbean cruise lines. It was a gated area with souvenir shops and welcoming "committees" - a small band and a group of walkers on stilts. It was a nice area, but much different from the real Jamaica we saw on our bus tour.

Friday, November 15, 2013

My First Stitch Fix

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had gotten in a rut with my cooking, so I've been trying new recipes lately. Well, I've also gotten in a rut with my wardrobe - or rather I'm wearing the same old things over and over again because I don't like to shop and have no motivation to get out and find a few new things to update and re-invigorate my wardrobe.

So, my curiosity was aroused when Natalie Parker mentioned Stitch Fix on a recent episode of Paperclipping Roundtable. Stitch Fix is an online service that will send you five items of clothing & accessories, straight to your home, for you to try out & either purchase or send back! Oh yeah, no shopping necessary!! I immediately signed up for an account at Stitch Fix and filled out a detailed style profile with my personal preferences, then scheduled my first Stitch Fix shipment, which arrived yesterday. There is a $20 styling fee to order a Stitch Fix, however that $20 goes toward any purchase you make from the box and there's a prepaid envelope to ship everything else back at no additional charge. I figured I might as well give it a try - worst case scenario was that I wouldn't like anything and I would be out $20 for trying something new.

My first box arrived yesterday, so I thought I'd share the results with y'all today! First up are the three items I did not keep:

This twisted shoulder cowl neck top was simply not my style - it was very thin, it had an off center neckline (which was too low for me), and it just felt too flimsy.

This long sleeve knit cardigan is in a popular style, but I thought it looked rather drab and sloppy on me.

These boot cut jeans were really cute, very comfortable, and fit me nicely. However, they are low-rise jeans and I have never liked or felt comfortable in that style. (I would spend the entire day feeling like I needed to pull my pants up! LOL)

I had decided ahead of time that I would only keep items that I could combine with other pieces already in my wardrobe to create at least three distinctly different outfits. The following two items met that criteria, and I'm thrilled to have these new items!

At first glance, I didn't think I would like this striped pullover sweater with the combination of blue stripes on the body and black stripes on the arms, however it fits nicely and is extremely comfortable. I knew it would look good with jeans, but I wasn't sure if I could put together three outfits. As it turns out, I was able to put together four outfits by pairing it with blue jeans, black jeans, and tan slacks.

My favorite of these outfits is the one with the denim jacket and brown boots, but I'm sure I'll be sporting each of these outfits over the next few weeks.

My first thought when I saw this black sequined tank was that it was too dressy. Also, I rarely never wear a sleeveless top, unless it's under a jacket or other top. We rarely attend functions that require fancy dress, however once I slipped this on I decided it could be dressed up or down. Once again, I came up with four outfits by pairing this with various jackets and blue jeans, black jeans, black slacks, and a black skirt.

I could actually pull together several more outfits by combining this tank with some of the other jackets in my closet as well as a gray skirt (and maybe even the white one in the spring!).

All -in-all I am very pleased with the Stitch Fix experience and will be scheduling another box in the near future. There were lots of positives with this approach (besides the obvious fact that I didn't have to set foot in a store!):
* While you cannot request specific items, there is a box to list items you might be interested in for an upcoming shipment. When I scheduled my Stitch Fix, I requested jeans and tops for this first shipment, and the box arrived with one pair of jeans and four different tops to choose from - perfect!
* All the items in the box fit me perfectly.
* All the items were in the price range I chose ($50 - $100), ranging from $48 to $98. (There were several price points to choose from, including "the cheaper the better.")
* It was so easy to checkout online & to slip the other items in the return envelope to be dropped off at the post office.
* I was able to try each item on and see how it looked with other items in my closet, so there was no worry about getting home & realizing nothing looked good with it!

I'd love your thoughts and opinions on the outfits I put together. Which is your favorite?

(If you'd like to give Stitch Fix a try and link from my post, I'll earn a $25 credit as part of their referral service! However, I haven't received any incentive from Stitch Fix for this review and just wanted to share in case there are other anti-shoppers out there.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Exciting News!

Back in September, I created this layout . . .

and this layout . . .

as my Design Team Submission to my favorite (not-so) local scrapbook store, Scrappin' Goodtime. A few weeks later, I received an email letting me know that I had been selected for the 6-month Winter Design Team!!

I know many of you will recognize the store name because I've met some of my online/BPC friends there for crops over the past couple of years. It's a scrapbook store and retreat center - what could be better than cropping right next door to a store filled with the latest scrapbooking tools, papers, embellishments, adhesives, albums, etc, etc!

I'll be meeting with the other Design Team members this coming weekend, but I've already started work on my first project . . . which involves these fantastic New Year New You papers from Webster's Pages!

Have you seen or purchased these papers yet? What stories are you planning to document with them?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Trash Cans and Gratitude

Want to know what I learned about gratitude from a large 55 gallon plastic trash can on wheels? Head over to Lynn's blog where I'm sharing one of my favorite stories from my days teaching middle school in my guest post today as part of Lynn's 30 Days of Thankful series. I'd love for you to leave a comment there and let me know if there's an object in your life that's helped you learn to be thankful!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Getting Out of a Cooking Rut

I've gotten in a rut this year, cooking the same old things (when I'm inspired to cook) and not really enjoying my time in the kitchen. So I decided it was time to mix things up and try a few new recipes.

I found a recipe for an 8-Layer Taco Salad in the August edition of Eating Well magazine. I was excited when my completed salad looked just as good as the magazine photo.

And it was delicious! We covered the glass dish with Saran Wrap and it stayed fresh in the refrigerator for several days. (I did not put the avocado/yogurt mixture layer in the bowl because I knew it would not keep as well. We added it to our salads on our plates.) I decided this was definitely a "keeper" recipe and made a 6x6 card for my Main Dishes Recipe Book.

I also tried a new meatloaf recipe from a recent edition of Real Simple magazine. We both enjoy meatloaf and have made quite a few variations over the years, but I was intrigued that this recipe included ground beef and ground pork as well as old-fashioned rolled oats. The addition of roasted tomatoes was a bonus, especially since tomatoes are my favorite vegetable. I'll definitely be making this recipe again, so (of course) it had to be scrapped, too!
 Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Glitter Girl Inspiration

As I was organizing/consolidating/purging my Storage Binders recently, I pulled up the Glitter Girl Pinterest board and watched some of the very first Glitter Girl episodes. Of course, it's hard to watch those videos and not be inspired, so I had to create some layouts along the way!

The very first episode was about using memorabilia, so I pulled out a photo and a group of travel memorabilia from our trip to New Mexico in 2012. I used the airline ticket holder as an envelope to hold some of the memorabilia and a gift card envelope to hold a few smaller pieces.

The second Glitter Girl episode was all about mists, so I pulled out a bottle of Smooch Spritz to add some interest and dimension to my background cardstock on this fun layout.

BTW - did you notice the border strip and chevron pieces on these two layouts? I created those with  my new Stampin' Up Chevron border punch - so much fun!

Since I was on a roll, I checked out the third Glitter Girl episode and was inspired to create this layout with photos from Pun'kin's 2010 summer visit.

Episode four was all about adding layers, so this next layout includes lots of bits & pieces in the embellishment clusters (die cut journal boxes, washi tape, flowers, brads, punched hearts, bling, enamel stickers) and was so much fun to create.

Isn't this such a fun bunch of inspiration from only four episodes of Glitter Girl - only 89 more episodes to go! :>)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Storytelling Sunday - 40 Books

Welcome to Storytelling Sunday! The first Sunday of each month, Sian encourages us to share our stories and link up with bloggers around the world as they share theirs - click here for this month's stories.

Today I'm sharing the story of my set of 40 Left Behind: The Kids books. Yes, there really are 40 books in this series!

I first read this series in 2005 when I was teaching full-time at a middle school in addition to taking graduate courses to complete my master's degree. I had previously read the adult Left Behind series, and I always tried to read some of what my students were reading, so I checked out Book 1 from the school library and was immediately hooked.

Each book is only about 140 pages long, however it took me the entire school year to read the full series due to my teaching duties, college coursework, and the fact that there was a waiting list for every book! As a teacher, I was always added to the top of the waiting list, so I usually only had to wait for one student to finish the book before I was able to check it out. But I tried to be careful to only check it out once I knew I had time to read it. It was very common for a student to see a book lying on my desk and ask, "Mrs. Gross, are you almost done with that book? I'm waiting for it!" I certainly didn't want to discourage my students in their reading!

After completing the series, I knew I wanted to own these books, so I started picking them up at used books stores and garage sales whenever I could. Over the past several years, I'd collected all but two books - those two books were near the end of the series and must not have had a large production run because they were very difficult to find. We'd seen a few used copies for sale at ridiculously high prices, but Robbie's kept his eye out and finally found them at a decent price several weeks ago. Seeing these books all lined up on the shelf reminds me of the fun we have searching for books and of our love of reading!

Of course, I couldn't wait to read them through again without having to stop and wait for the next book or grade a batch of research papers or study for an exam! This series follows four teenagers and their adventures after they are left behind when the Lord raptures His church. These teens quickly realize that they were left behind because they had not accepted Christ as their Savior. As new Christians, they ban together to face the seven year tribulation period that is described in the book of Revelation. I highly recommend these books for tweens and early teens (as well as adults who enjoy reading children's/young adult books) and the adult Left Behind series for those of you who enjoy Christian fiction and adventure stories.

I hope you've enjoyed my story of these 40 books - don't forget to check out more stories here!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Another Stampin' Up Christmas Card Class

Last month, I attended another Stampin' Up Christmas Card class and completed 12 more cards (2 of each of these six designs).

Once again I enjoyed trying some new techniques and using some of the Stampin' Up products. I have quite a pile of Christmas cards completed now, however I think I still need about 20 more. My goal is to have them all finished by mid-November. How are you doing on your Christmas cards?