Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Personal Year

This is something fun and silly that I came across on the web-- if you are into astrology or just crave some insight into your upcoming new year then check out The Personal Year. Honestly, my personal year outcome sounds a bit surprising, and even a bit stressful!!

Personal Year 8. . . . Attainment and capital gains
This is a number 8 personal year for you. This is your power year, a period when you can make important strides in you life. Coming after a very slow and introspective period (the personal year 7), you may start feeling some stirrings of ambitions. This is a year of big decisions and major achievements. Activity is your keynote now, and you will find yourself very much involved and occupied. Opportunities for advancement and recognition for past and current work is likely to come about during this year. You have things going for you so long as you take advantage and act. It is easy for you to branch out and expand in a businesslike manner. If you are at all inclined, this is the time to exude self-confidence and authority, because others will tend to be receptive to your leadership and control. Your power and status potential is at a peak of the nine years personal epicycle that concludes at the end of the next year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Counting Down the Days of Winter

Christmas 2008 has come and now it has gone. It was really a great year for our family; we had the chance to all be together and really enjoyed each other's company. My little guy really had a blast this Christmas. He received a bunch of great gifts from Santa and even a special visit from the jolly old Elf himself. On Christmas eve Santa made a special appearance at our family get together. Well, my little guy sure knows a good thing when he sees it and he was right next to Santa the whole time ready to take all those extra gifts off his hands. I was so happy to see that he had no fear of the bearded one. It seems like a candy cane can always do the trick -- no wonder we have to tell children not to take candy from strangers.

These past few days following Christmas have been lazy ones, but why shouldn't they be. I definitely need to relax after all the running around and planning involved for this holiday. Yesterday, the weather was so mild here that we were able to spend some time in the yard and I had a chance to try out some of the features on our new camera-- a gift from Santa! The temp. was in the low sixties, and you could almost start to believe that spring is right around the corner. Wouldn't that be nice! Let's face it, after Christmas winter is such a dreadful time of year. Well, I'll have my daydreams of warm afternoons and BBQ's to keep me going through January and February.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas

Just a few last minute holiday creations that I wanted to share with you. First, a gift card holder I put together for one of the gifts we are giving to my parents. I used paper from Basic Gray's Figgy Pudding collecting-- which I absolutely love. The silouette of the little angel placing the star at the top of the feather christmas tree has a real vintage feel to it. It might look like a stamped image, but it's actually something I found in a holiday crafting edition of a BH & G's magazine. I scanned it, then selected it with the magic wand in photoshop, moved it to a clear layer and then printed it out onto a tan card stock. I inked the edges with Martha Stewart's Copper and Brownstone inks to give it an aged look. I really like how the card, and particularly the image turned out. Altough I've come across a number of Christmas stamp sets that I wouldn't mind getting my hands on, I also love to take something and use it in a way that it wasn't acutally meant to be used. It really get's my creativity on!

I also made two Christmas tree ornaments using the same image. I had a few sheets of Melissa France's vintage Christmas DP that I absolutely wanted to somehow incorporate into my holiday decor, so I thought that they would be the perfect fit for this image. Since I had the image on a clear PS layer I was able to resize it and print it directly onto the DP. I then used Modge Podge to adhere it to a piece of cardstock, which I cut out in the shape of a gift tag. I added a piece of sheet music to the bottom to add some interest and finished it off with some ribbon embelishments and some glitter and gem stones to give it that Christmas bling. Although these pictures came out awful, they really do look nice on the tree. I plan on making "improve my photography skills" one of my New Year's resolutions.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Cupcakes

Well, I've been keeping myself busy on these final days leading up to the big holiday. I've been baking, wrapping presents, eating cookies, eating cookies-- um, yes the diet will begin right after New years. I am really determined to perfect my cupcakes and just wanted to share the latest image of my last batch. Thanks to the advice of my good friend Melissa, who is an awesome baker and cake decorator, I finally have the right tools to achieve my aesthetic ambitions. I went to Michael's and purchased a large star tip and a bag so that I could achieve that swirling sweet icing effect. OK- it's still not perfect-- but practice does make perfect-- so there are more cupcakes to come, at least until the new year when I start that diet!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Little Boy Blue

This will be my last post for today. I just wanted to try and catch up with everything that has been going on recently and share what I have been making as well. I spent some time over the weekend working on a card for my cousin's upcoming baby shower. I'm really proud of this card because I think it really defines my style as a card maker. It incorporates some beautiful designer papers, a rubber stamp that has been paper pieced and some fun embellishments like baby blue rick-rack, glitter, buttons and chipboard flowers that have been painted to look distressed.

Our Furry Little Friends

Our backyard sometimes reminds us of a petting zoo-- not only do we have a myriad of different birds, but we have had gophers, skunks, possums and of course squirrels. This weekend my hubby thought he would do something creative and made a bird feeder out of a left over apple juice container. We couldn't wait to see all of our little birdies feasting from it. Well, OK-- all of our little squirrels feasting from it because I have yet to see a bird attempt to get near it-- I wonder why?

Stampin' Up Fun at the Library

I was so excited to participate in my second Stamping and Card making class that is offered at my public library. It's just a fun night out where I get to be creative, learn a few new techniques and hang out with a few friends.
The birthday card was a fun and quick creation-- the pink pok-a-dot strip of paper was actually hand stamped and the cupcake was stamped with two different stamps from the same set. I already ear marked this card for a special little girl who is having her birthday party in a week-- it's just perfect! The holiday card was a bit more challenging. We created a mask by punching out a circle from a post it note and then sponged blue ink around it to create the sky-- basically the same technique was used to create the mirror image. The first image of the trees- the true image- was hand stamped directly onto the card, while the mirror image was first stamped onto a transparency, then rubbed onto the card like a rub on. Sparkles were added to the snowy area using a glue pen. I just loved how this card came out--I chose to caption it with the word Peace-- because it speaks so well for the scene depicted. Once again, I had a blast!

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas

I had so much fun getting the house ready for Christmas this year and just wanted to share a few pictures of my favorite decorations. Enjoy!

Let the Festivities Begin!

I can't believe we have exactly 14 days till Christmas eve. Not everyone celebrates the eve of Christmas, but in my family it has always been the bigger celebration. I can't wait!

Although I'm looking forward to it, I really want to stretch out this holiday season and enjoy every aspect leading up to it, especially since my little guy is really starting to get it. He was so excited to see our Christmas tree all lit up with lights, it was too cute. I know the Christmas tree ornaments are too hard for him to resist too-- he likes to touch and feel all of the ones that are within his reach. So far we haven't had any accidents involving glass Christmas tree balls and my two year old, but I'm keeping a close eye on him just in case.

One of the ways I've been trying to stretch out the season and a way to build some family traditions is to do something festive each weekend. One weekend we went to the tree lighting ceremony in our town, they had a drum and fife core that marched in right before Santa arrived on a fire engine, it was fun. This last weekend we went to a Christmas festival on Friday night at a local park, where they had hay rides and pictures with Santa and even a Victorian mansion all done up for Christmas -- I probably liked that part the best, but I won't tell my boys that because they really thought the hay ride was the best.

The following day we went to a Christmas tree farm to cut down our tree. This was the first year ever that we had done this-- so it was something new for everyone. Well, although I'm sure it will become a tradition that we will all enjoy one day, my little guy was just miserable the entire time. I ended up carrying him through most of the farm which was not easy, he's a big boy-- my back was paying for that. Actually, this picture of him and hubby in front of our soon to be Christmas tree was the only smile I could get out of him. Well that's kids for you, their full of surprises and you never really know what their reactions are going to be. Luckily he perked up later when Santa offered him a candy cane-- nothing does it for him like candy, he was all smiles!

Later on that day my hubby and I decorated the tree-- which is something I always look forward to. Nothing smells quite as good as a freshly cut pine tree and some hot coco brewing. My little guy was strategically excluded during the tree decorating-- he was napping. I just don't think at two he can emotionally handle something as exciting as decorating the tree. Instead, we surprised him when he woke up with a completely transformed Christmas tree. He was sooo excited! I am looking forward though to the upcoming years when we can all partake in decorating the tree-- I'm sure he'll have all his favorite decorations too, just like I did as a kid.

Every year I try to add something new to our tree. Usually, I have a few new ornaments to commemorate my little guy's last Christmas, which usually include some photo ornaments-- which are always so much fun to look at. This year I also thought I would hand make some of the ornaments for our tree. I found two great bird templates in a craft magazine and turned them into tree ornaments. I have to say, I really had fun making them and it didn't take me that long to do it.

To make these adorable birdies I used Melissa Frances DP, Stickles glitter glue, some Michael's dollar bin ribbon and button embellishments and some hemp twine. I made a total of six, three of each. I just love the way they look on the tree, as if they've set up their nests for the winter in our beautiful pine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It Was a Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We spent a quiet holiday with some of my family. Not that Thanksgiving was ever a riotous day, but this year was especially subdued. I think we were all feeling a bit under the weather-- which is never a good way to spend a holiday. But all and all, it was great to sit down and break bread with family members that we don't get to see very often.

To commemorate this Thanksgiving I thought I would make some special place holders. They were especially for my Aunt who hosts us every year at her house for Thanksgiving dinner. I don't bake pies, so instead I made place holders.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A True Sense of Gratitude

I am grateful for so many things in my life, and although I may complain about stuff from time to time, I truly know that I am a blessed person. I have a supportive family, an education, good friends and so much more. And although I always try to stay focused on these things in my life, I think Thanksgiving just gives us a special opportunity to reflect on what we are truly grateful for.

The ability to just slow down our hectic lives once in awhile, and enjoy the small things that bring us pleasure, is a blessing in itself. For many years I was just unable or incapable of doing that, but now that I am a wife and a mother I truly enjoy those simple pleasures that life has to offer. I especially love those little things that make my son giddy with excitement. One of the ways I have been nurturing this excitement is by creating little traditions for each holiday that he experiences. This is all so new to him, since this is the first year he is really enjoying and getting the holidays, and we have plenty of time to build on them. But one of my simple traditions, and one that my mom has passed down to me, is just decorating the house for the holidays. Yesterday, Zolie was running around the house yelling "Happy-ween" and pointing to all the pumpkins we have out for decoration. It was adorable. So, now that Happy ween is behind us I'm trying to think up special ways to commemorate Thanksgiving. I'm thinking of putting a scrapbook together with pictures of the family at dinner and ask everyone to write down a few things that they are grateful for and incorporate that into the book-- I'm still working out the details though.

I've been working on a few Thanksgiving cards that I plan to send out to friends and family, just to remind them how special they really are. I think it's going to be a nice surprise because we don't usually send cards for Thanksgiving. I just think that the sentiment that this time of year conveys is perfect for hand made cards and I also love the color pallet of the autumn so that fits in lovely as well.

I found the sentiment for the first card on the Pursuit of CraftYness blog. I just love it and it really speaks to me on a personal level. I know my photos are pretty awful (I'm still really new at this) and I am working out a way to improve on them-- mainly I need a better light source. It's been exceptionally wet and rainy hear for the last week, so that's not helping. Anyway, the sentiment reads; "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." That just rings so true, and it's one of those quotes that I'm sure I'll find myself reflecting on throughout the year.

Free Stampin' Fun

A few weeks ago a friend of mine invited me to join her for a stamping class at the public library. The class was hosted by a lovely woman who just happens to be a Stampin' Up demonstrator. It was great! Vicky showed us a bunch of card making techniques and how to use a bunch of tools. And the best part of the class was that we got to make two cards to take home with us! I can't wait to do it again.
The first card we made was the purple and green-- great color combo-- pansy card. For that one we were shown how to add a thin layer of ink with a blending pen to give the stamped image a painted look. For the second card, we used tools like sponges to apply ink and a scalloped punch. The second card actually has a pocket on the inside for placing a gift card-- oh so fun!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Flee Market Finds

I really love garage sales, flee markets and rummage sales. Actually, I love it anytime I can find a great deal for under .50$. This year I managed to drag Zoltan to a bunch of garage sales-- although he was reluctant he loved it just as much as I did. It all began for us when our town had a town wide garage sale at the beginning of the summer. We came home with a car load of toys for Zolie and had only spent $12.00.

I think the other thing that's appealing to me is the chance, even if it's slight, of actually finding a real beauty find-- something that is just so unique and special that it could only be found at the back of someone elses closet.

Oh Halloween, you will be missed

I was really hoping to get this blog up and running about a month ago, especially since there were a bunch of fun Halloween things going on that I would have liked to share. I guess I was just way too busy with all that fun stuff to get my self organized in the blogshpere. Hopefully I will be able to make up for it next year. But since I'm not quite ready to give up on Halloween yet, I thought I would just re-cap the great moments with a top 10 list and maybe a few pictures.
Top 10 things I like about Halloween
1. Dressing up
2. Halloween decorations
3. Candy apples
4. Jack o'Lanterns
5. Trick or Treating
6. Cupcakes
7. Mr. Halloween
8. Halloween parties
9. Halloween crafting
10 The Sweet and Sinister craft blog

As for the cupcakes, I'm not much of a baker but I sure had fun making these. I figure if I can perfect making the cupcake I'll never have to bake anything else for the duration of my son's childhood. I especially had fun making the colored icing. Next time I might even dye the cake to match, because after all it's all about the aesthetics-- and lots and lots of butter.
Other than them being so cute and fun, I also had an ulterior motive for my cupcakes. Since Zolie may possibly have a peanut/nut allergy and tends to break into hives when he eats cake because of the egg whites (another allergy) we usually have to avoid cake. I stopped by our local health food store a few weeks ago and picked up Cherrybrook kitchen's cake mix and icing mix. The great thing about Cherrybrook is that they are peanut/ nut free, egg free and milk free -- although we don't have to worry about that last one --whew. Your probably wondering how the heck you can make cupcakes without eggs, and to tell you the truth I really don't know how they manage it-- but they also taste really, really good-- actually I think better than Betty Crocker. So this is great for us, because it means our little one can have his cake and eat it too!

It's very hard to believe that it is already November. I think I have been in complete denial that the summer is actually over and that winter is almost here. It wasn't until yesterday that it actually hit me when I left my house at 4:50 to pick up my son Zolie from daycare and it was already night time! When Zolie and I left the school he kept saying "dark, dark", even my toddler realized that something was not quite right. He was probably remembering all of those great summer days when we would stay out playing in the yard until 7 pm or later. Just like the song says-- summer time and the living is easy.

It's not to say that I don't like the autumn-- it's actually one of my favorite times of the year. I definitely had a fun time getting ready for Halloween all of October. But there is nothing quite like those lazy days of summer that feel like they are going to last forever. Well, in a final and feeble attempt to hold onto a bygone season I am going to leave you with an image of Zolie whooping it up in his kiddie pool in our backyard, so enjoy!

One of the big events of this month, and one that we all got to be a part of (at least I hope so) was the 2008 Presidential election. It was truly a moment in history and one that we will get to tell our children and grandchildren about one day; the year when the first African-American was elected President. When I woke up on Wednesday morning and found out that Barack Obama was going to be our next president I honestly felt proud to be an American. This man truly represents the changing face of the American people. And the fact that he was actually elected as President sends a message to the rest of the world that America is ready for a new and improved global image.

This election was also a historical moment for us on a personal level. This year Zoltan had the chance to vote for the first time as an American citizen, in fact it was the first time he has ever voted in any Presidential election. He was so excited about it and a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility of it --he's so cute! We dropped off Zolie at daycare together so that we could go to the poles together to vote. Luckily, there were no lines and we were able to jump into a booth right away. I probably waited an extra five minutes while Zoltan completed his ballot. He probably read over every one's name just in case--oh! I think it really meant a lot to him and gave him a sense of how far he has come since he left his home country of Romania.

Well, there it is. Nov. 4th 2008 two American men make history in their own way-- one man named Zoltan and the other man named Barack-- Only in America, God Bless America!