Monday, August 31, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

Our random number generator chose entry 3, which was:

AP said...
I'm entering at April's suggestion!
August 26, 2009 9:39 AM

Yay! I'll have these pretties to AP right away!

Thanks for playing!
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

We've had quite a collection of butterflies making their way into the wide world from our garden this week! On Saturday, James watched four emerge from their chrysalises at once. Later this week, we all got to see two drying their wings and getting ready to fly. It's strange to see those beautiful wings all wadded up, but beautiful to watch them gradually flatten.
Zack took photos (the second butterfly with dry wings is his!). Sammy was enthralled.

The parsley, on the other hand, is devastated. That's ok - it gave its leaves well, nourishing these beauties!

(And don't forget to comment to win the set of handmade cards!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fifth Time's A Charm?

Things I love about my new range: I can bake in the summer without heating up the whole house. The surface is level (old one wasn't) and the power burners are speedy. The fancy features are quite handy. And so on.

Things I do not love about my new range:
  • Gas leaks
  • Incorrect parts
  • Damaged parts

About a month after I got my very nice new range, we smelled a tiny gas smell, but then couldn't detect it again. A couple days later, a bit more, which again went away. A couple days later, more and it was not going away. UGH. I called Sears about getting it fixed. They told me to hang up, get out of the house and dial the gas company and hung up on me. Uh, hello? I had turned the gas off to the stove itself. I'm not an idiot. I had to call back and explain quickly before they could hang up that I was not in immediate danger but I needed my stove repaired. They couldn't get anyone out for a week! Do these people think I have a spare range sitting around?

The technician arrived and couldn't find a gas smell. He did what seemed a rather cursory check, "tightened all the valves", and pronounced it fixed. I pressed him to find something, since we had to wait a week for the service, but he pretty much said that was as good as he could do. Later I reflected that I don't think he actually ran gas through the burners and stove so after having the gas off, the lines probably had nothing left in them to leak. Sheesh.

I called to set up a second service call and was determined to be a squeaky enough wheel to get someone out here right away. Despite my best efforts asking for a manager six times, registering my official dissatisfaction, etc. they insisted it would be another week. But oh, they would send a senior technician. Super.

The senior technician did find the leak, but of course they don't carry that part on the truck. So, he ordered it and, you guessed it, they'd be back in another week.

The original technician (thrilled to see that guy; he used one of my good kitchen knives to cut open his cardboard box!) showed back up to install the new part, but it was missing the brackets. He installed it so that I could get rid of the leak, but now the right edge of the front panel and the two right knobs are loose. He ordered another part.

Another week later, a new technician showed up to install the new part. No brackets and it arrived damaged. He was confident that he has ordered the correct part this time. Every one of these visits involves at least four calls to and from Sears, some of which have an automated voice threatening to cancel my appointment if I don't call them back and confirm the parts arrived.

Another week later, and they are scheduled for this afternoon.

Do you think the fifth time is the charm??

(And on a cheerier note, don't forget to enter to win the set of four handmade cards!)

p.s. Yep, that fifth service call is now complete. The wrong parts arrived (and they were damaged). The parts don't match the pictures in the parts computer, etc. etc. They now officially have "no idea" what to do. They're going to "put it in research". That takes two weeks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cards from a Class

I was so excited to go to a card-making class last weekend! It was in the home of a Stampin' Up demonstrator (think Pampered Chef); you paid a supply fee and then got to make four things. I really liked the set up.

Check out the cute projects we made. Three are cards and one is a magnet (which I will probably work out a way to insert into a card front so the recipient can receive it as a card but then keep that part as a magnet). I really liked the ideas, and I liked the productive feeling of having the design already done and the supplies prepared so that I could just get the projects finished in one morning! Although I love doing my own designs, there is something so nice about finishing something right away (oh let's be honest: I'm lucky to finish something ever!). And I won a door prize. I'm hooked!

(As usual when I show cards I've made, I hope you'll not find receiving these very cards in the mail to be anti-climactic! Really, I love these, so if you get one, it means I love you.)

(And if you like these, don't forget to enter the giveaway for Arizonamade's lovely card set!!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blogiversary Giveway: Awesome Set of Handmade Cards!

YAY, it's been a whole year since I started writing here in blog land. To celebrate my joy in the occasion, I'm giving something to YOU!

This giveaway is a fun set of four handmade owl-themed cards created by Julie at Arizonamade. Each features felt, raised paper layers, and raffia or brads for a lovely look and feel. They are blank inside for your message and come with white envelopes. You'll love using these great all-occasion cards!

If you don't win (or even if you do!), not only is Arizonamade sponsoring this giveaway, but she's offering 10% off purchases at her etsy site if you mention Garnish, Deanna, Garnish in the comments at checkout! (Just type it in when you purchase then instead of paying immediately, wait for her to send you a new invoice with your discount applied.) Julie does beautiful, high quality work, if I do say so as her sister!

To enter, leave a comment on this post (you can just say hi). If you recommend this giveaway to a friend, have them mention you and I'll enter you an additional time for each recommendation. The giveaway will close Monday, August 31 at noon (ish) when I pick a winner using a random number generator and announce the winner.
Check out some additional info if you wondering "what's the catch?" or are puzzled about Giveaways.
Get some help on entering comments.
Be reassured that if you are my close friend, it is still cool to enter. Or if you're a dude. Or if we haven't talked in ages. Or whatever else you can think of!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Local Review: Landa Park

We recently spent part of a day at Landa Park in New Braunfels, Tx. We highly recommend this park for families, especially the Aquatics Complex (there is a small admission fee). We had gone down to New Braunfels, a town south of Austin, for their annual Train Show. The boys really enjoyed the elaborate layouts and because it was a small show, it didn't overtax them. The admission to the show included a ride on the mini-train in Landa Park, which the boys loved. Then we spent the rest of our time (until naps were absolutely required) playing at the Aquatics Complex.

There are two things I really like about the AC. First, it has a big, spring fed pool (like Barton Springs except 72 degrees instead of 68!) with diving platforms, a giant slide, a zip line and a rope swing. I like that they haven't taken all the fun out of this area by disallowing diving, etc. I can think back to the thrill of diving into a pool and it's that pure joy feeling all over again - when was the last time you were at a pool that allowed diving? I miss it.

The second think I like about the AC is the big areas with 6 inch - 1 foot water depth. The youngest toddlers are able to splash around, not automatically in over their heads. The slides in these areas are great for the toddlers and still fun for the preschoolers. There are big mushroom waterfalls that they can run in and out of. Our kids played for the longest they've ever played at the pool and were so happy to be self-sufficient in the water.

This is the second year we've done this combination of activities and both times it has been great family times. I'd say it's totally worth the mini-road trip!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Play Place

Last week a friend and I took our kids to an indoor play place full of jumping castles as a last hurrah before her son started kindergarten. It's not something we do much-- my frugal side doesn't go for the paying-fourteen-dollars-run-and-jump-when-the-playground-is-free thing very often.

The big boys had so much fun, which we expected. I wasn't sure what Sammy would really be up to-- at home he plays on his own some but most of the time he takes a lot of my intervention. If I'm cooking dinner, he doesn't play at all but hangs on my knee and cries. But at the jumpy place they had a little room of playhouses, play kitchens, little chairs and tables, toy dishes, etc. He could not have been any better entertained. He stumbled from one thing to the next, crawled up in a seat, back under a table, discovered a toy ladle, visited the train table, then did it all again - for hours. He required almost no intervention from me and was totally happy. I had relaxed conversation with my girlfriend on a pleasant couch in the air-conditioning. Then, when we got home, both boys took huge naps (and the next afternoon Sammy took another huge nap that I'm convinced was related). I had dinner at the ready and waiting point with no crying from anyone. I don't think I've been that relaxed on a weekday since we added a second kid to this household!

Would it be weird to go every day??

Sunday, August 23, 2009


BOLO: Be On the Look Out

Very cute giveaway coming up August 26 in celebration of my one year blogiversary (oh, don't let the made up word containing a made up word bother you- I get to give away something great!).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

That Daddy

James did such a good job while our nephew was visiting. He actually took all three boys to the park to feed the ducks by himself. Our nephew didn't quite get the hang of saying "Uncle James", but he requested "that Daddy" to take him outside to play on the swings. What a good uncle!

(And now the accolades are over, since he promptly got sick.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Scrapbooking Layout: Family Outing

I was really excited to try using a 12x12" photograph for the background of a scrapbooking layout. I took the large photo on the left page on a family outing to Pedrenales Falls outside Austin. See the heron? I was proud of capturing him on film (ok, "film")! I printed the photo as a 12x12 (which did cost me $3) and used it as the whole page.

I also tried stamping and embossing on both the metal-ring vellum tag (the left closeup) and on glossy paper (the right closeup). I wouldn't have tried either until I got embossing powder and a heat embossing tool, which is like a hair dryer with less air but more heat (happy birthday to me!). The raised result feels cool, and I like that I got to use some different materials.

This was one of several layouts that I got to do while my sister was here visiting - hopefully I'll get to photograph and show a few more soon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I'm repeatedly astonished that I can go through a time of relative ease in cooking and meal-planning, and then suddenly come to a stretch when I cannot think of one single thing to cook. I'll be in the middle of the week and find I'm drawing a complete blank about dinner. It's not that the standards don't sound good; I can't even think of what the standards are. Or I'll only be able to think of the one thing we don't have the ingredients to make.

I have a new theory about when it happens: it's when I don't have any mental whitespace. I loved loved loved my sister's visit. But partway through, I became totally stumped about what we could possibly cook and eat. I've been feeling bad about flaking out on the cooking but I've realized that my problem, though I'm not sure it really is a problem, was that I was having so much fun. I spent the whole time with my mind so full of our conversations and our amusements with the kids (and some worries about them being sick) that I became catatonic every time I looked at my blank grocery list.

We weren't that busy, but my mind was full. In the best way... unless you are looking at it from the perspective of the kitchen table.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Three boys + one baseball game = instant calm.

Taking all three of our cousins to the store is a little daunting. I know you moms of three and four do it by yourself all the time and I'll say, I'm impressed. We find it challenging, even with both moms along! This trip we were picking up photos, one of which was printed incorrectly. While I was dealing with the request for a reprint, my sister was managing the three boys on her own. Until they spotted baseball on the TV, that is. We could have had tea and a chat at that point.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Finished Layout "Going Home"

This is the finished layout from my embellishment experimenting. It is a page from Sammy's baby book about our going home from the hospital.

This whole layout was a bit of a stretch for me. First, the left side was done using the placement tips from a video tutorial by Noell of Paperclipping. Also, I tried sewing on my layout for the first time. It was pretty easy. Add to that the invented embellishment, and this layout was a challenge (in a good way)!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We have a winner!!

It pays to be the first comment, or at least this time it does! The winner of the Island Lagoon stamp set is Julie- I'm glad she won this time, since the next giveaway time her Etsy site will be sponsoring and she won't be eligible... what I'm getting at is:

Stay tuned for a great giveaway at the end of the month!

Monday, August 10, 2009


These boys are having a great time! It's good to have the cousins together.

p.s. Don't forget to enter the stamp set giveaway!
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Friday, August 07, 2009


I got a couple of fabulous deals this week. And since they were so great, I'm sharing the fun! This giveaway is a clear stamp set: ten beachy stamps, a full size ink pad and an acrylic mount. This has everything you need to try out stamping, even if you don't have any supplies so far. And the timing is right to make something in honor of the summer fun you have had so far (lots of summer left here in Texas, though!).

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment saying something fun you did this summer (or just say hi if nothing leaps to mind) by the end of Monday, August 10. On Tuesday, I'll pick a winner and announce who won!

Here is some information about giveaways and some help regarding leaving comments.

Giveaway closed - the winner was Comment 1: Julie!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Summer cooking: Shrimp and Noodles

Have you tried rice noodles? My grocery carries them in the Asian foods section. They have a light springy texture - great for summer weather. The other reason they are great for summer cooking is that they "cook" just by softening in hot tapwater for ten minutes. Pair that with the quick cooking time for the shrimp (three minutes in a hot skillet), and this is a great, fast meal.

To make this, I sauteed a combination of veggies I had on hand - carrot, onion and red bell pepper - with garlic and ginger. During the last three minutes I added the shrimp, then pulled out the veggies and shrimp straight to the serving bowl on top of the noodles. I deglazed the pan with some stock (you could use water) and soy sauce and poured the liquid over the whole thing. Finally, I garnished with a thin slice of red pepper because it has that pretty flower look, and lots of fresh cilantro.

Zack loves taking the tails off his shrimp!

And now my friends, I am excitedly getting ready for my sister to arrive today, so if I am scarce in this space, you'll know why!
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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Seriously, he wants his trike back.

Messing around with some pictures today, playing with telling the story on the photos.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sammy's Quilt

I was working on printing photos for a layout about Sammy's quilt in his baby book and I really wanted to show the quilt here as well. My mom made this beautiful quilt for Sammy before he was born. She and I designed the pattern together the September before Sammy was born. I drew things out in power point and emailed them to her while she drew things out longhand and had my dad take pictures and email them to me. It was a time of recovering health for my mom and the prospect of the project was a little daunting, but she really wanted to make this for Sammy so we persevered. The pattern is inspired by a fish design to go with the "Happy in the Pond" nursery Sammy would be moving into. Most people don't notice the fish, but if you look at the overall design, each block has two blue fish nose to nose and two green fish nose to nose. The blue are a solid triangle for a body, while the green have a pieced four-patch inset in to the body.

When Mom visited in October, we picked out the fabrics together. We had Zack along with us so we brought a small portable DVD player and let him watch a Sesame Street while we worked with the color choices. I couldn't believe how good he was! I really wanted Batik fabrics, which are made by wax-resist dyeing techniques native to Indonesia (and other countries). Our local shop had a great selection and we moved bolts around for well over an hour just picking out all our favorites. We chose all greens and blues. The Batiks have a characteristic look that I really love and are particularly appropriate to an underwater look.

After my mom got all the main top together, we chose a flying geese (those triangles in a row) border to go with it. I'm not sure why, but we both really love that pattern. I was hesitant because it was such a lot of piecing work, but it added so much to the overall design. The blue flying geese are all made from scraps left from the original fabric choices. She embroidered Sammy' name into a narrow border at the bottom edge of the quilt top, a really special touch.

She then had it machine quilted; Batiks are heavier than traditional quilting fabrics and very difficult to quilt through and my mom's still-recovering fingers were not up to that kind of abuse. Since my mom always does hand quilting (beautiful work), she had it done by a professional (which turned into a saga, but that's a story for another day!). Didn't the final quilting turn out beautiful? I really love how it connects the pattern, muting the patchwork to enhance the underwater look.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Experimenting with embellishments

Do your hobbies run in trends? You may have noticed that I'm on a scrapbooking kick lately. Those scrapbooking sites and blogs I discovered have me thinking differently about my layouts and my supplies. It's eye opening, but I think I might be making even slower progress than I was before, stopping to think about things in a new way.

Last night I was experimenting with embellishments. I wanted something just so - something I didn't quite have. I took apart a ribbon spool and started working on making it into something new. I've seen people peel of the glossy top layer of purchased chipboard accents and ink them up for a different texture and look. I don't have the type of ink that I've seen used, but even if it I don't end up with something I can use, I don't suppose I've lost anything.

I'll show the finished layout soon and let you know how it works out.