Saturday, December 01, 2012

Handmade Cards: Peace on Earth

Here is a set of cards with embossed and glittered snowflakes to start off your holiday season!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Harvest Time! (and cooking some of the harvest!)

We planted a fall garden in between the heat of the summer and our usual winter plantings (lettuce!!).  The veggies that are recommended for that time in our zone were pretty limited so we only planted cucumbers and green beans.  That was ok, though, since it gave us the room for several plants of each.  

We wanted multiple cucumber plants so there would be plenty of chances for the flowers to be pollinated. James showed the boys how to pollinate by hand but after a while there were so many flowers that there were plenty of bees and butterflies and we were able to just let them go along.  We have already picked nine big, delicious cucumbers!

We put bush beans in other half of our space.  Those we planted from seed and James added some bamboo poles that he got free on a visit Boggy Creek Farms & Farmers Market.  Something about the bamboo tied up with twine looks really appealing!  The beans are producing like crazy too.  This (below) is about a third of what we've harvested so far.  The boys didn't like them at first because the surface is a little fuzzy/sticky.  It feels a little velcro-ish straight off the vine.  We thought that would just boil away but it didn't - instead you need to kind of scrub them and then they turn smooth, more like what you buy.

I tried cooking the green beans two ways.  James wanted his boiled and I wanted mine roasted (this is about par for the course around here!).  For the boiled, we just cut them into short lengths and cooked until tender.  The did have a delicate flavor that was more green-bean-y than the store-bought.  Mine were even better (so I say, anyway!).  I blanched them and then put them under the broiler with olive oil, salt and Adams Reserve Kicked Up Chicken seasoning (bottle looks like this).  Roasty and soooo delicious!

(And in case you are wondering how to please the kids, Zack liked the boiled and Sammy liked the roasted!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Scrapbook Layout: City Museum

Here is the layout I made about our visit to the City Museum in St. Louis.  We had SUCH a great time there.  I wanted to do a layout about the fun but also try to capture the kind of weird, fun, dark aesthetic they have.  I started by putting a black vignette on all the photos, then used a dark background and added inking, stamping and splattering.

There is quite a bit of stamping on the background but it's really subtle - you may not be able to see it here.  For example, there is some text stamped on the purple background paper that is barely visible in the bottom photo.  Even the chipboard flourishes are inked and stamped.  In the future I may try to make that more pronounced but I don't know.  Sometimes you don't really see an element but it still adding something.  The splatters are a combination of white misting spray and diamond Stickles.  There is also one small star punched out of glitter paper using the mini star punch from the Stampin' Up holiday mini-punch pack.

One funny thing is that green polka-dot paper.  It is out of one of the first scrapbook paper packs I bought when I started scrapbooking and I was pretty sure I would never use it again.  For some reason it called me back to combine it with that great, current Basic Grey paper that is used for the background.  

I'm not sure if I really captured the weird/dark, but that's ok!  I may go back and add something, but I'm still not sure what (ideas??). 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Scrapbook Layout: Cool Dad Fun Dad Tech Dad

In deciding to work "topically" with my scrapbook albums, I realized the adults in the family don't have much airtime, so to speak, in my layouts!  That is part of the reason I made the Oh Coffee! layout (the other part is that I really just like my coffee that much).  But I wanted to scrapbook some things about James too, and since I was really impressed with him after we saw the solar eclipse this summer, I decided that was the perfect vehicle.

Also, I really wanted to stick the pieces of the dismantled floppy discs on a layout.  It's very nerd-cool! (Or maybe I'm nerdy so I think it's cool?)

I had a piece of paper from Basic Grey that was perfect for the background of this layout, but only one sheet.  I used it as a model to make these two background papers you see here.  I was very proud of how all my inking/sponging/spraying turned out!  There are some areas that don't look good AT ALL, but they are under the pictures.  Sneaky, huh?

I also got to use my new Stampin' Up! Delicate Doilies Sizzlits Die.  It had a very sunny look and I think turned out plenty masculine with the rest of the layout in place.

I wanted "nerd dad" and "geek dad" to be part of the title, because I think of those as positive things... but I wasn't sure James would find them as positive, so I settled for the three: Cool, Fun and Tech.  Pretty great things for a dad to be, we agree!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Scrapbook Layout: All About Us

I have recently been thinking about organizing my scrapbook albums topically.  This is an idea from Stacy Julian (specifically this book, though she discusses it in multiple formats), who is really really good at working with people to draw out what is important to them.  It's no coincidence that her online education website is called Big Picture Classes!  The first category will be called All About Us and will be layouts about our little family and the personalities of each person in it.  

I made this layout as a title page for the first new section.  The printed background paper is one that I love but that was so pretty I hated to use it on something that would cover up most of the paper!  So, I thought it would be perfect for a non-photo layout.  The very background green paper is there as a frame for the busy-ness of the main paper.  I inked and splattered the edges to make it match in style.  The rest of the layout is made of bits and pieces that I kept layering until it looked like enough clutter to make me happy!

I don't usually do layouts without any photos, so this was a bit different, but I really like how it turned out!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Scrabook Layout: Oh Coffee!

Today I am sharing a layout about my love of my SAME cup of coffee I like to make every day.  I have been wanting to add some scrapbook layouts that are about the adults in the family.  I mean, I really like my kids and all, but I see people do pages about themselves or their spouse and I like that too.  I've been wanting to do a page on Coffee for a while.  Maybe I'll move from here to scrapping something deep and meaningful about myself.  Wait, maybe coffee IS deep and meaningful!

The main papers here are some Basic Grey - the background pink and the center floral paper - as are the tiny hearts and the sticker with the row of heart cutouts.  I added Basic Black Stampin' Up ink to the edges of everything.  Even though I talk in the journaling about how I prefer to make my coffee at home I couldn't resist adding some saved items from a cup of Starbucks.  I love the little stir-sticks they use to cap the drinking hole, for example, so I put it on there.  I also used the inner side of a coffee sleeve as a paper to punch out some embellishments - all with the great slimline punches from Stampin' Up

The green and black tape layer is actually painters tape (Frogtape brand), covered with Martha's Textured Metallic Paint in Lampblack.  I had used the tape and paint for a stripe in Sammy's room and after I peeled it off the wall I liked the sparkly black on the green sooo much that I took it straight in to put it on this layout! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday, August 06, 2012

The St. Louis City Museum

I've saved the best for last!! This is the last of my Big Road Trip posts but I think it's the coolest!  I may have told everyone I know how amazing the City Museum is but I have to say it again!  This is another St. Louis attraction we attended two years ago, though it seems I didn't blog about it at the time.  I'm not sure why, unless it was just too much to show and say!

"Museum" is a bit of a misnomer.  There is very little in the way of display or (traditional) education - instead, it is all about exploration.  The place is a huge, amazing piece of art-for-climbing. Most of it is made out of old junk and found/recycled items.  It has very little in common with the playscapes we usually see - I find current playscapes to be so safe as to have lost any sense of adventure.  Of course, no one wants their kid hurt - I know I don't, so I get it.  But on the other hand I just love that this place is so much more raw.  There is a real sense of adventure being there (even for an adult!).

Much of it is also really beautiful.  There is a whole area of sparkly feathers and mosaic, another area of cave tunnels that wrap back on themselves, a ten story slide, two rusted out airplanes welded into wire tunnels high in the air, a medieval seeming tower, a mini-train and lots of places to climb.

We followed the children through man tiny, dark, narrow, short and/or wire holes and tunnels - so much so that my quads were sore for three days!  Last time, two years ago, Sammy was scared of all the tunnels and slides and spent almost the entire day on the mini-train.  This year he was AWESOME!  He and Zack followed each other through every area, up and down and over and through.  It was super to see him having as much fun as Zack had.

We had SUCH a good time!  Thanks to those who have actually made it through all these posts!  I need to post something crafty or foodie next, I guess.  We'll see!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

St. Louis Zoo

Ok, while it's true that we particularly enjoy going to zoos, this may be one of the best zoos anywhere!   It being FREE is pretty impressive.  We loved it two years ago and we loved it again!! They have some new areas open that are really beautifully done.  We liked the little education/involvement areas they added throughout the new spaces.  

It was also really fun how many baby animals they had!  There were baby and "teenage" elephants, baby monkeys, baby penguins, baby sting rays and lots more!  The baby elephant was my favorite, and watching the teenage elephant swimming.

This time we remembered to use the train to move around the zoo and it was really fun and workable that way.  We would get off at a station, do all the habitats in that area, then get back on and go to the next area.  

One recommendation is to get the Safari Pass.  Although the zoo is free the train does cost $5 for one time to each station (whether or not you get on and off).  If you instead get the Safari Pass for $10, it allows unlimited train rides, carousel rides ($3), petting the sting rays and sharks ($3), and several other things!  We really liked being able to ride the train without "using up" each section, and I don't think we would have paid for the carousel or the sting rays without it. 

Petting the sting rays was especially awesome! We haven't gone to Sea World where they may have something like this so I'd never tried it.  It was a bit magical to have the sting rays swimming right up and under your hand on their own.  They are very soft and velvety!  Zack and I were both really into it.  James tried it once and was done.  Sammy would have liked to but kept getting scared.  The bench that you lean on was too high for him and the moving animals were too startling.  Still, he did touch one once! 

We thought we would stay til about 2pm and then go back to let the boys nap but the kids were super and we ended up staying until after 7pm!  It was an unusually mild day, not too sunny, and we just kept going.  Good times!

Friday, August 03, 2012

St. Louis Arch

We had so much fun at the Arch last year that we had to go back!  And once again Zack took a really cool picture! His is one top one, looking up with the clouds reflected in the arch surface.

Even having seen it before, it is an impressing structure and great to visit.  See the scale with James and the boys at the base of it in the last picture?  Huge!  Sammy was young enough not to remember these places so it was particularly exciting for him.  I'm sure we'll be back again when we get the chance!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Other Challenge Quilts

Want to see what all the other participants made out of our Reunion Challenge Fabric?  There were 9 projects - all different but all BRIGHT!   

A couple of interesting notes: 
  • Pooh Bear has "I'm just a little black rain cloud..." embroidered on the narrow burnt orange border. 
  • The draped one just to the right of Pooh Bear is a two-sided crazy quilt with lots of denim.  It was too heavy to hang but was really amazing and interesting!
  • The draped one, the baskets on to it's right and the large blocks in the bottom left are all done by beginning quilters, though they look GREAT.
  • The flower one in the middle of the third column is all hand-pieced and hand-quilted.  The flowers are 3-D.
  • The one in the bottom right has the center pinwheel area all made of Halloween fabrics!
It was interesting to see all the variety!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Challenge Quilt

Here is my fourth Reunion Quilt Challenge quilt!  

Each reunion the group of quilters chooses a fabric to make something out of.  Everyone who wants to participate takes a piece and brings back their project in two years at the next reunion.  You can see the first three challenge pieces here: Itty-Bitty, Herb Garden, and Pink Flags.

The challenge fabric is here, second from the left, with it's optional companion fabric on the left end.  The other fabrics are ones I chose at the same shop to use with it. 
(click for a larger view of any image)

I chose a pattern that was designed for a wall hanging to a full size quilt and then adapted the size and color scheme to make a miniature.  The finished project is 16"x20" and machine-pieced and machine-quilted.  

I had a hard time figuring out how to quilt it (once again, my mom was soooo kind to take out my false starts and mistakes to minimize the pain of re-doing!).   I have looked at a lot of quilting and I have noticed that when a quilt is very geometric/straight line I tend to like the finished result with the quilting is curvy (rather than straight and following the lines of the quilt).  That's something I plan to keep paying attention to as I see quilts, but I think it holds true.  Once I tried out these wonky spirals inside the squares I loved the result.  And I always like the meandering quilting so I used that to tie together the progression of background colors.

It was REALLY fun to make and I like the finished result best of the quilts I've made!  It's so bright and so wonky and fun that I find it very inspiring!

Come back tomorrow to see everyone else's projects with the same fabric(s)!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Family Reunion 2012

The main (or at least instigating) destination of our big road trip was our family reunion in McCormick's Creek State Park outside Indianapolis, Indiana. We spent three days there with about 60 relatives of my husband's father.  It was a really nice time!  We meet at that location because there is a full service hotel in the state park, making it a pretty setting that also has all the conveniences needed for that number of people.  In addition there is a branch of the family that is local to that area who is really generous to have the whole group out for a dinner at their house.  

One fun thing that has been added recently is a family talent show.  This year Zack and his Uncle Bill did the Abbott and Costello routine, "Who's on First" - it was pretty amusing!  They wrapped it up with Sammy singing" Take Me Out to the Ballgame", so there was cute factor too!  

The best thing (well, the quilting part was great too, but I will tell you about that tomorrow!) was that the kids really formed and renewed relationships with their cousins (technically, second cousins once removed, I think).  It was so neat to see the next generation remembering each other and playing together! 

We wrapped the whole thing up with time of singing hymns and a brief candlelight moment in memory of family members.  Quite a lovely and special time - we are looking forward to doing it again in two years!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ballgame - The Cincinnati Reds vs. the St. Louis Cardinals

Our next stop was Cincinnati for a baseball game.  We really wanted to see a ball game on our trip but the Rangers were out of town and we couldn't get good tickets to see the Cardinals-Cubs game in St. Louis so we decided to make Zack happy and see a Cincinnati game in the Great American Ballpark.  He is, inexplicably, a big Reds fan.  Although we do like both the Reds and the Cardinals, we had to root root root for the home team so we were all Reds fans! 

It was a beautiful night (a bit hot) and a really great game - fast moving (not always the case in baseball!) and very exciting.  The Reds won in the end to sweep the series and we all had a great time!!