Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year's Eve everyone.

I hope you have a fun and safe evening. We don't celebrate New Year's Eve - too many years spent moving January first conditioned us to ring in the new year bright and early so we don't stay up late.

Chris bought me three months of HBO for Christmas - just in time for Big Love Season Three - so we'll be watching TV tonight and catching up on episodes we missed.

The lovely Emily was diva at the scrap-room for the month of December and her challenge was to do a vintage LO. It was to include a number of things including metal, lace or fabric etc.

Here's mine:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sugar on Snow

Ever since the boys read the Little House on the Prairie series and then The Birchbark House books, they have wanted to boil maple syrup and make sugar on snow. Now that we eat more naturally we have maple syrup on hand so Sunday seemed like as good a day as ever to give it a try.

My mom always made it by feel and hers was much softer. I followed a recipe and at 255 degrees you end up with candy at the hard ball stage so it's very brittle and sticks in your teeth.

The kids loved the whole experience and had a blast watching the syrup boil and then immediately harden when it touched the snow. The taste was out of this world.

We tried to save some in a pot of snow in the backyard but it turned to mush by morning. All in all it was a wonderful activity.

Here's a card I made over the weekend. Brayden and I both thought Kelly's Gnome With Reindeer was such a sweet loving image. The paper is Scenic Route and Bazzill. Colored with Prismacolors.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Life Without the Internet

Comcast has been persnickety enough that we seem to have internet for ten to fifteen minutes every few hours. Which is strange because I'm used to long bouts without net access but not this coming and going.

I've been in homeschool curriculum land (mentally) so expect to read lots of homeschool related posts in the near future.

But before my net goes dark again, here's a card I made with one of the new Odd Bird Planet stamps:

Paper: Luxe and Bazzil
Stamp: Kelly's Gnome Carollers
Corner Punch: trimmed off on the diagonal.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chore Wars and Cards

I was reading my friend Cindy's blog and she mentioned Chore Wars. It's an online RPG where mom acts as DM and you go on adventures by doing chores and logging them on the site. Each time you claim an adventure (like making your bed) you get the option to view your battle or simply claim your prize. I mixed in imaginary prizes (like a flaming sword) with real prizes (bubbling potion is sparkling juice) and told them that they could cash in their gold pieces for money. After I set up the chores I wanted done I sent the kids a link and watched to see what would happen.

Avery and Brayden were so into it. They loved getting to have a battle after each task and started out with easy stuff like showering. As soon as a real prize was won their enthusiasm tripled and they spent most of the day vacuuming, cleaning their room and reading. What is particularly incredible about this is that on Boxing Day you can play video games all day long. It's our Play With Toys Day and they skipped the screens and instead asked such unheard of questions as, "Mom, is it all right if I wash and change my sheets?"

Chris popped his head around the corner when he heard vacuuming, curious as to what on earth was happening in our house.

Trenton, in his wisdom, said, "Mom, I'm on to you." and didn't sign up. He played Star Wars Unleashed for hours. Then Avery cleaned the bathroom and got one of the big rewards - a computer game for his laptop. I had bought a bundle and plan on doling them out all year. Suddenly Trenton wanted the code and as soon as he signed up he grabbed the broom to start sweeping the hardwood.

How awesome is that?

This morning before breakfast all three boys had showered and Brayden and Avery had cleaned their room together (getting half the points each - a wonderful feature) and tidied the bathroom. I was amazed.

If you have kids that are at the RPG, fantasy stage I highly recommend Chore Wars.

I made a few cards this morning, here's a pair of carolers:

The paper is Scenic Route and Bazzil and the stamp is Kelly's Gnome Carolers

And speaking of the always adorable Odd Bird Planet, there is a Twelve Days of Christmas Sale going on. You can read all about it here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope you are having a wonderful day with your family. We've opened our stockings and had breakfast but haven't got to the presents yet.

As a scrapbooker, sometimes my desire for the perfect shot can get in the way of enjoying our family time. My rule is to get a decent picture of each person before stockings and then to put the camera away for the rest of the day. That way I can keep my focus on what matters - my beautiful family.

Here's pics from this morning:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

*Squeal* and Grandmas

My Nana just called. She got her Christmas present and wanted to talk to me about my hair. I sent this picture so I didn't see the problem.

She said, " You look awful with long hair. The red is nice but you just can't pull off the length. I want to make sure you take care of it before Thursday. People take pictures on Christmas you know. Nobody wants to see you looking like that."

I pointed out to her that I'm nearly 36 and am not near hot enough to pull off a pixie cut at my age.

She laughed and said, " I'm nearly 90 and I can pull off a pixie cut. Now go and fix that hair!"

Grandmas... gotta love them.


Cath, the editor of Paper Crafts Magazine, keeps the most awesome blog. Last week she held a Get Woodsy challenge and one of my cards was chosen as a runner-up. *Squeal* You can see the post here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gnomes Bearing Gifts

Here's some more gnome goodnesss:

Paper: KI Memories, Bazzill
Stamp: Kelly's Gnome Boy with Gifts
Colored with prismacolor pencils
Punch: Oval nestabilities
Chalk Ink: Chestnut Roan

On Wednesday, after getting over my Gen-Xian too-cool-to-participate attitude, I joined FaceBook. Very fun place and my week has been a flurry of catching up with old friends and answering the question, "Where have you been the last twenty years?" If you have FaceBook account look me up.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Stamps are Available!

The new release of stamps at Odd Bird Planet are available. Woo-hoo.

You can see the new line-up here - there are so many cute images it'll be hard to pick a reasonable number to provide a new home for.

I've made a few cards with the new images, here are two:

Hope you all get to have a little bit of quiet and peace on earth in these last few days before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Something a Little More Festive

After yesterday's post about dead bodies and crying children I thought I'd post something a little more befitting the holiday season. I made a LO for the December monthly sketch challenge at the scrap-room. Chris keeps teasing me that it's *so* old school - but isn't Christmas about tradition and timelessness?

Click on the picture if you want to see it larger.

I best get back to my enormous to-do list and sick kids. Poor Avery and Trenton have the worst of it now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Body Worlds 3: The Story of the Heart

Last night we finally went to Body Worlds 3 in Salt Lake City. It is an exhibit of plastinated real human bodies and body parts. I think it is best to start with the fact that the children cut their teeth on board books about anatomy and our home library has grown with books of advancing difficulty right along side them. As self-proclaimed anatomy buffs, we were so excited about Von Hagen's masterpiece coming to North America that we were willing to fly to see it if need be. Fortunately Salt Lake is only a half hour drive. We've scoured the internet for details and Tivoed all we could to get a glimpse of the wonders - we were ready!

We all entered the museum with great enthusiasm and were shocked when the gravity of what we were seeing hit us all very hard and in different ways. One of the first forms is a human leg bone that had been broken. I had expected soup pot bones, smooth, bleached and shiny. This one looked like it had been well-scraped by a meticulous scavenger. I felt panic rise, maybe I had gotten myself into a little more than I was ready for. I peeked around the corner, frankly ill at ease as to what was to come. Brayden grabbed a hold of my hand tight and said, " This is interesting but really disgusting."

I look over to Avery and saw huge, silent, brave tears flowing down his face. He was deeply distressed by the exhibit but stayed with us all the way through - mostly hiding in corners but he made it. His heart is so tender and whenever he'd read about the different pathologies we were viewing (cancer, arthritis, emphysema) he humanized the display to what the person must have gone through on their path into the glass case.

We all did much better with the full body exhibits than the bits and pieces. Trenton, never one to be interested in anatomy, flitted from exhibit to exhibit, returning to regale us with fascinating facts. He was intent on getting every ounce of information and his excitement was contagious.

About half way through Avery came around and started enjoying himself. I made dozens of jokes about what we were seeing and once he was laughing he could absorb it all much better.

Then we got to the babies. Technically they were embryos and fetuses but they looked like babies to me. Beautiful little things with lots of hair and eyelashes. I can never go in those displays and the kids know it completely wigs me out. But looking over at how strong Avery was being I didn't feel like I would be much of a parent if I gave into to my fears and fled. So I went in. When I saw the 28 week old I was overcome with memories of having pre-term labor with Avery. Being dilated to four centimeters, contracting and praying he'd stay inside a few more weeks. The 36 week old made me question why Avery was so healthy and this precious little one was not. I wondered what circumstances would bring grieving parents to donate their deceased child to science and if they ever came to the display. Did they touch the hair and the little feet and wonder why their baby died?

That was the hardest part and from there it was smooth sledding for all of us; we started enjoying the really cool exhibits and shook off our discomfort.

One of the highlights was the pace maker and stint section. We learned all about heart attacks and aneurisms and then looked at the pace makers and temporary defibrillators. I was explaining my Nana's pace maker experiences to the boys when the man next to us struck up a conversation and unbuttoned his shirt to show us the metal disc in his chest. He pushed on it and it moved around - impressing us all. My Nana could do that so I thought it was a trick all grandparents did. It was neat seeing it through new eyes.

Mortality was ever present as we looked at the different pathologies. Breast cancer left an impression on me and Chris seemed intrigued by the display of artificial hips, pinned knees, repaired rotator cuffs etc. He commented later that seeing all the worn out body parts was sobering. I hurt looking at the diseased spines and wondered where mine would fit in the flow of the display cases. The spine with scoliosis was especially difficult - I can't imagine what that man's body went through during his time on earth.

Down stairs was the grand finale portion where there was a camel and her baby, many full figures and several full body slices. We loved the skier and the gymnasts although the girl on the balance beams made me a little ill when I saw her hair pulled back with bobby pins just like you do in dance. It was so haphazard - like an athlete training and the imperfection of it got to me. Avery slid his hand in mine and said, " You don't like the ones with hair. Eyelashes, eyebrows - that. It bothers you. Me too."

The camel looked like something from Hoth in Star Wars and Avery and I thought the baby, even without his fur, was absolutely adorable. Brayden was completely freaked out and thought it "wrong" to display something so intimately with it's insides showing. I pointed out that we'd just spent two hours looking at humans with their insides showing but he holds that a cuddly animal is different.

The obesity exhibit held Chris and my attention more than any other. It is a 5 to 8 mm slice through the middle(ish) of a lady who weighed 300 pounds. At first it's hard to make much of this five foot long blob, then the brain becomes obvious and bit by bit you make sense of what you are seeing all the way down to her bruised, diabetic heel. I learned so much standing there. I was under the erroneous impression that you get fat on the outside, just under the skin, and it forces your body to work harder carrying you around. Not true. You get fat all over. Her abdomen was riddled with fat between all of her organs. That can't be good! If I wasn't already committed to a healthy lifestyle that would have done it. As a group we left with the strong desire to eat well, never smoke and take care of our parts.

Funny/gross moments:

* When we saw our first meaty rib cage we all thought of Good Wood Barbecue and how much that display looked like what we're served minus a healthy slathering of sauce. We were shocked by how much a human is also a piece of meat. Everyone commented at some point that if we weren't already vegans, last night would have made us ones.

* Avery and I couldn't stop laughing at the girls behind us who viewed incredible, awe-inspiring display after display and could only comment," OMG! You can see his balls!"

* There is a circulatory system strung out overhead along the ceiling. It was so christmas-red that we couldn't shake the thought that it was a few ornaments shy of a holiday decoration.

In the end, we all came away from the museum with an incredible appreciation for life and the glorious, beautiful, frail tragedy of it. To quote the book of Psalms, " I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

A few years back, Mary Roach's book Stiff was a great pleasure of mine. I wrote a poem about it and thought it applies to this post:


When my soul has left me
and I’m merely a cadaver
where will this journey take my flesh
while I lounge in the hereafter?

Once I have left this shell
should they soak my meat in honey;
one hundred years - then sell the cures
and eat my mellified mummy?

Shall I choose traditional internment,
to slowly molder and decay
as bacteria eats through guts and lung
and chews my skin away?

If that quiet resting place
is not my ideal destination
I could try something flashy
like total body plastination.

In case you aren’t familiar
-and many of us are not,
they steep your parts in silicone
and rubberize the lot.

Maybe I’ll give my body to science
for medical research.
but the thought of the anatomy lab-
it makes my stomach lurch!

The Swedes, so eco-friendly,
wish to make you into soil,
a composting material,
in which to plant and toil.

How about cremation?
Or burial at sea?
I hear that crabs love human flesh
- No! that won’t appeal to me.

It’s not often that I indulge myself
in anguished thought and pondering
of where to leave my vacant bones
when I am done my wandering.

Just mortality encroaches
-death is always a reality
and I can’t help but wonder
what to do when I am done with me.

____________ Written By Nicole Maki

Monday, December 15, 2008

Classic Mermaid Card

I had a lovely time making cards last night while the boys watched Dark Knight. Over the past few months I've colored a bunch of image but haven't found the right setting for them This mermaid was one of my favorites as I really like the color of her torso. But, I don't have much peach or pink paper lying about so it took some thinking to come up with a setting. I am very happy with what I came up with:

The last few days I've been pulling out my old, old papers and playing with them. Most of it is three to five years old, some older, and I'm surprised by how much I like most of it. I think paper crafters can get caught up in the new and shiny. Sometimes pulling out the older stuff is just the trick. And it's certainly good for the pocket book and the earth.


Bombshell Stamp, pigment ink an clear embossing powder
Basic Grey Paper
Dimensional Tape

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mail Goodies

Wowee. I seem to be on a lucky streak lately.

I won a prize for the altered box of soap I made my mother in law from Sheetload of Cards. Thanks so much, Alicia! This is what they sent:

Last month I won a prize from Clear Artistic Stamps. Belinda, the owner, is just about the nicest person you'll ever meet. I can't wait to get these guys inky:

And over at TSR I won the Use Your Stash Challenge and Daisy sent me this wonderful RAK:

We were at the doctors today and Brayden is going to be fine. Apparently there is a bug going around that makes you weak, have trouble breathing, sore throat, exhausted and have high fevers. We're all getting it to varying degrees and the doc said Avery has a fever too. My temp has dropped again - 96.1 when bundled up - so I'm dealing with my endless health issues again. Prayers would be appreciated.

That snowstorm the papers were heralding was a bit of a bust. We didn't get more than seven inches and it was certainly not a blizzard. For us, a blizzard means the road is closed and we can't see the house across the street. Neither happened.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Pics

It's snowing like a son-of-a-gun. We're expecting.... drum roll please... twenty inches between today and tomorrow. Holy snow piles, Batman. Those plows we're being taxed extra for have not yet made an appearance so our neighborhood is blissfully silent. I love being snowed in.

We got our tree up this week and it's so pretty. Instead of using our matchy-matchy ornaments we put up all our old favorites.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cute, frugal Ideas

My friend Mary, an incredible Titus 2 kind of lady, has an awesome blog and each Friday she posts a Frugal Friday message full of really usable tips. This week she has a bundle of inexpensive, earth friendly, amazing christmas gifts you can make at home. There's even recipes. Be sure to check her blog out.

Gifts for Groups

I've been giggling away at all the nutty holidays out there - count your buttons day, anyone??? - and saw that Mushroom Picking Day is September 18th... so I had to make a card. LOL.

We're expecting to be snowed in over the next day or so and with our little guy so sick I haven't been shopping - or out of the house - in days. I'm making a huge pot of chowder to ready the house for whatever comes. Because, you know, hot soup solves a myriad of problems.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Calling All Scallywags

I'd inked this girl up when making my christmas elf but hadn't played with the rest of the stamps on the sheet. One thing I love about Bombshell Stamps is that the rubber comes with a great variety of supporting images and phrases. It's like one-stop shopping and an incredible value. On this card I used six different images: pirate, sword, hat, map, hook and sentiment.

Here she is:

My dear friend Angela tagged me a few days back and it completely slipped my mind. Sorry! *blush*

Here are seven fun random facts about moi~

1. My favorite movies are The Outsiders, Red Dawn, Rocky (all of them), The Replacements and The Matrix Trilogy.
2. I don't brush my teeth until after breakfast as I hate the toothpaste and food combination.
3. I really miss coffee, Diet Coke and any other beautiful members of the caffeine family.
4. I haven't grown since fifth grade (maybe it was the coffee).
5. Chris and I got engaged six days after we met - crazy kids... that could have gone badly.
6. I really love Gossip Girl and "because I'm Chuck Bass" is the best excuse/reason for anything, ever.
7. I'm a concrete - sequential, left-brained, INTJ ... but you wouldn't know it by the cards, writing, right-brained stuff I do for fun.

Watch Them Grow

Last night Brayden was up until well after 1:00 AM with a 102.6 degree fever. He's our wild man and he'd spent the day laying down and complaining of terrible headaches and dizziness. I'd been giving him Motrin every four hours so his fever being so high was making me nervous. Holding him long into the night gave me a chance to reflect on how blessed we are with our three healthy boys and how each moment with them is so dear.

We've always celebrated St. Nicholas Day with the kids since they were very small. On December 6th you fill your shoes with carrots and hay and leave them by the door to feed St. Nicholas' horse. If you're lucky, he'll leave a little gift of thanks. Here's some pictures of St. Nicholas Day (or Christmas when I couldn't find them) from the past six years. It's neat to watch the boys grow.








Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sneak Peek...

These little guys are sneaking a peek:

Fourteen years ago tonight I walked into a dark bar with girls dancing in cages overhead and met the love of my life. I'm so glad I mistook him for a guy named Rat and struck up a conversation.

I love you, honey!

This also means that eight weeks from now I'll have been married fourteen years, my sweetheart will be forty, I'll be two days shy of thirty-six and we'll be in Disneyland.

P.S. Thanks for all the weight advice yesterday. The Wii-Fit makes you weigh before it'll count your workout. That is the only reason I weigh most days. Turns out my back had swollen up - hence the weight gain. The swelling is down today and six pounds vanished with it. I'll be sure to keep that in mind when I have these crazy swings.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Loving Owls and a Fat Me

Ugh. Yesterday I weighed myself and I'd gained three pounds. I factored in an order of salty fries, drank a lot of water yesterday and excitedly stepped on the Wii Fit (scale) this morning and was up four more pounds - that's a total of SEVEN POUNDS in two days!!!! Now all I can think of that I've eaten extra is a half a bowl of apple crisp, heavy on the apple and light on the crisp. I've actually eaten less the last few days as I've felt horrid. So what gives? I'm guessing hormones but that means they're really wacky. You know what makes me nuts though? On Saturday night - a mere three days ago - I was rocking my size seven jeans and medium Jr. Dept sweater. Today I feel like if I suffered an untimely demise I'd have to be removed from the house with a crane. Poo!

On a happier note, I ordered some stamps from Odd Bird Planet stamps just for me - for fun. Last night my very favorite one got inky.

Here's what I made:

Stamps: Hearts Branch
and the owls are from the upcoming release
Paper: Fancy Pants and Bazzil
Sticker: Bella Blvd

Monday, December 8, 2008

Remember Scrapbooking?

It's been a while!

I don't know if you are like this too, but my scrapbooking mojo seems to ebb and flow. Lately I've been making a lot of cards but not too many layouts. Other times cards are like pulling hen's teeth and scrapbooking flows effortlessly. What I have noticed though is that I have a hard time moving from one to the to the other which is unexpected as they both are goofing around with paper, scissors and glue. It's kind of like writing prose and poetry. Each year after NaNoWriMo I have a horrible time trying to write poems again.

One of my goals has been to incorporate more stamping in my LOs. Stamping is awesome because after the initial cost of the stamps and ink you can use them forever - unlike that package of alphas with all the e's missing. And stamps like signs and banners make great spots for journaling and titles.

Here's a LO I made with some of the images from the upcoming release at Odd Bird Planet:


Sorry the pics aren't great, we are having a huge snow storm and it's very dark out.

On the home front, we still don't have our tree up. The weather has been so mild we haven't been feeling it. But we are playing carols, have cinnamon, cloves and fruit peels simmering on the stove and Elvis crooning through our speakers. Maybe tonight we'll get the tree up. We'll see.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gnomes Jumping Rope

I joined in for my first virtual image swap. Kerry sent each participant an envelope off stamped images and we had to make a card. Here's mine:

The images I used were:
Kelly's Stitched Gnome
Kelly's Mushroom Tree Row

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Family Fun and More Sneak Peeks

The issue of Family Fun with my little bit of writing has hit the news stands. It's always an enormous thrill to see my name in print. This particular blurb had a lot of revisions and they boosted me from 200 words to over 400 which was a nice compliment. In case you were wondering, we really did plan to make gift baskets for our loved ones filled with little things they might have missed but it just didn't end up that way... maybe next year.

Here's some evidence:

Last night I was thinking about all the things we women have to juggle over the holidays and this card appeared. All the stamps are new never-seen-before images from the upcoming release at Odd Bird Planet.

If you go over to Just Johanna's Blog you can see one of my cards too.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Accomplished a Few Things

Just a quick post to wish you all a great weekend. My time has been occupied by getting all our parcels ready for Canada. It took two trips to Post Office and hours of work but we're done. Woo-hoo.

I had a break in the pain yesterday and cleaned my fridge. Had I known the pain would be back I probably would have done something a bit more interesting than clean my fridge. *grin* You can see just how anal I really am.

... and how much hot sauce we own. LOL.

I'm still working on tree box ornaments for advent. They are currently numberless but I'm getting there:

So much to do! (says the girl who blogged yesterday about doing less. LOL)