Friday, December 23, 2011

Season's Greetings!

Happy holidays! Can you believe that it is almost Christmas Eve? It sure seems like it comes quicker with each passing year! I had high hopes at the beginning of the month to write numerous blog posts and include photos of the many holiday paper crafts that I have created and designed for the season. As you can see, that didn't happen! But, better late than never.

This is the holiday card that I created for 2011...some of you might have received one in the mail! I decided to go with a winter theme so that the card could easily be displayed beyond Christmas. Compared to some of the holiday cards that I have created in past years, this one was fairly simple because it consisted of only one layer. Despite it's simplicity, I love this card and I am very happy about how it turned out.

Although December has flown by, I did have some time to make some cute "doo-dads" (love that word!) for gift bags, and I also embellished some adorable notebooks that I found during one of my many visits to Michael's this month. Perhaps you were a lucky recipient of one of these notebooks. Wink wink!

Despite it being a very busy month with so much to do to get ready for Christmas, I have managed to relax while spending time with my dear friends. Although Christmas preparations can be fun (and stressful!), I think that my best memories from this season will be of the time I spent with family and friends. Speaking of family, I am off to spend Christmas with my parents this year in their "neck of the woods." For my readers who don't know where that might be, check back soon for highlights of my Christmas celebration, including photos! You can also keep up with me on Twitter (see the link to my Twitter feed in the right-hand column of my blog).

I hope that by now you have finished with all of your shopping and things on your holiday "to-do" list so that you can take time to relax, perhaps with family and/or friends, and enjoy this Christmas weekend. No matter how you choose to celebrate, I hope that you are surrounded by loved ones and experience many magical moments.

While I typically end my posts with a quote, today I am going to do something different. Do you happen to have a favorite Christmas song, or perhaps a Christmas tune that has gotten stuck in your head this year? After all, some of the radio stations around here have been playing Christmas music since before Thanksgiving! Anyway, I'll leave you with a few verses from one of my favorite Christmas songs, The Holiday Song (Happy Holiday) sung by Andy Williams. It seems that many people have a "love-hate" relationship with this song, but I happen to like it.

It's the holiday season
And Santa Claus has got a toy
For every good girl and good little boy

He's a great big bundle of joy

He'll be coming down the chimney, down

Coming down the chimney, down

He'll have a big fat pack upon his back

And lots of goodies for you and me
So leave a peppermint stick for old St. Nick
Hanging on the Christmas tree

It's the holiday season

With the whoop-de-do and hickory dock

And don't forget to hang up your sock
'Cause just exactly at 12 o'clock

He'll be coming down the chimney

Coming down the chimney

Coming down the chimney, down!

Happy Holiday

Happy Holiday

While the merry bells keep ringing

Happy Holidays to you

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December!

Happy Holidays! Now that it's December 1, it's officially time to start celebrating on my blog and I hope that you'll join me for some festive fun this month. It's sure to put you in the holiday spirit!

Throughout December I'll be featuring a variety of handmade holiday tags and other holiday-themed paper-crafting goodies here on my blog.

So, without further ado, here's a photo of a cute tag that would add an adorable touch to any Christmas package.

The darling ice skate was created with the On Ice stamp set and coordinating die available from Papertrey Ink. This is one of my favorite winter stamp sets because I have fond memories of waking up on Christmas morning and finding a new pair of ice skates waiting under the Christmas tree for me. My dad would take me to a frozen pond near our house, in Massachusetts, and I would lace up those skates and glide all around the pond for hours...or until it got too chilly! Now that I live in California, it's challenging to find a pond to skate on, but I do like to go to the small skating rinks that pop up in the area during the holiday season. It's the perfect way to feel like a child again.

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Wrap-Up

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to enjoy the long holiday weekend while taking time to reflect on the many blessings in your life.

I enjoyed having Thanksgiving dinner with my brother, Andy, and his girlfriend, Amber. I prepared a turkey breast as well as some other tasty side dishes including stuffing, cranberry-apple relish, green beans and dinner rolls. Andy and Amber also cooked some delicious sides - candied yams and mashed potatoes. It was a delicious and filling meal, but fortunately we weren't too stuffed for dessert! I'm not a big fan of pumpkin pie, so this year I chose classic apple pie. And while I do love to bake, I've never actually tried my hand at creating a pie crust from scratch, and I didn't think experimenting for Thanksgiving was a great idea. The pie came from Beckmann's Old World Bakery. Beckmann's is actually located in Santa Cruz, California, however they sell their items at the local Farmer's Market near my apartment each week. Their pies are delicious, as are the other goodies that they bake. Our dinner rolls also came from Beckmann's. I am very thankful that we were able to enjoy a delicious meal and spend time together.

The highlight of my day on Friday was watching "The Muppets." I am a huge fan of the Muppets and I have fond memories of watching "The Muppet Show" on television when I was a child. Do you have a favorite Muppet? I would have to go with Kermit as being my favorite, but Animal comes in as a close second. To be honest though, it really is hard to choose a favorite - I like them all! I have to admit, I have been singing "Mahna Mahna" since I left the movie theater! It's the perfect song if you want to put a smile on your face!

In lieu of joining the "Black Friday" madness on Friday, I decided to go shopping on Saturday and while I did visit some of the "Big Box" stores, I made an effort to support the small businesses in my community in honor of Small Business Saturday. It just happened to turn out that I needed to buy some new yarn for some knitting projects that I want to complete, so I decided to visit Nine Rubies knitting store in San Mateo in honor of Small Business Saturday. I ended up finding some gorgeous yarn to add to my stash and I am looking forward to "casting on" some stitches very soon.

I will be enjoying my autumn decor throughout this week and I plan to put up a few Christmas decorations next weekend, when the calendar actually changes to December! I like Christmas, but it sure feels like Thanksgiving is rushed along more and more with each passing year. With that being said, I will admit that I did spend some time in my stamping studio over the weekend getting "crafty" for Christmas. My holiday greeting card is designed - now I just have to get to work on making multiples! And I also have big plans for getting my blog into the holiday spirit, beginning on December 1, so you'll have to check back then to see what I have up my sleeve!

Sending you wishes for a lovely holiday season and hoping that you find plenty of time to savor all of the magical moments during this most wonderful time of year!

"Keep your Christmas-heart open all the year round."
-Jessica Archmint

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring Our Troops on Veterans Day and Throughout the Year

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. I was fortunate to have the day off from work, and while that was a nice treat I thought it was important to take a moment to reflect about the meaning of this particular day.

Veterans Day offers an opportunity to celebrate and honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

I spent part of the day thinking about what I might be able to do to say "thank you" to the men and women serving in the military, fully realizing that I wouldn't be able to personally thank each and every one of them! There are many ways to reach out to both veterans and those who are currently on tours of duty around the world, ranging from sending a care package or simply writing a letter to a soldier.

As I was browsing the internet this afternoon - something that I often do - I came across the following website: Operation Write Home. I was immediately intrigued when I discovered that this organization gathers blank handmade/hand-stamped greeting cards and sends them to troops so that they have cards to mail to their family and friends. What a perfect way for me to say "thank you" to our troops! It's a "win-win" situation for everyone: I get to make some cards (a favorite hobby of mine) and the troops end up with cards to send to their loved ones back home.

In honor of making my first batch of cards for this organization and the fact that it's Veterans Day, I decided to go with a patriotic theme. I am very happy with the final results. There is no minimum number of cards that need to be sent - you can send one or a hundred (quality is more important than quantity). I'm starting out by sending five cards this month and my plan is to send at least five cards each month, and if I have time I will send more. Hop on over to the Operation Write Home website for specific information about making cards.

Below is a photo of the inside sentiment on the "Happy Birthday" card. It works perfectly with the star theme.

As always, I'll wrap up this post with a quote that I recently came across:

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
-William James

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Fall, Y'All!

Just popping by with a short post today and to wish you "Happy Fall" on this first official day of autumn. In honor of the new season I am including a photo of some of my recent paper crafting creations - a bookmark and a coordinating card. Isn't the patterned paper simply gorgeous?! Gotta love Papertrey Ink and all of their wonderful stamping supplies!

I am thrilled about the change of seasons since autumn happens to be one of my most favorite times of the year for a variety of reasons. The hockey season is about to get started - Go Sharks! And I am enjoying football - the New England Patriots are 2 - 0! I've pulled out all of my Halloween and autumn-themed paper crafting supplies and I'm looking forward to creating cards and other goodies. I am also excited about trying out some new recipes for homemade soups. A bowl of warm soup is perfect for dinner on a cool, crisp autumn evening. I've already made two apple desserts this month - Fresh Apple Cake and Cranberry Apple Cake (both turned out delicious and I highly recommend them). It's starting to get darker earlier, which provides the perfect excuse to curl up on the sofa, light a candle and get lost in a good book. And perhaps the most exciting thing - a trip to Disneyland (all decked out for Halloween) with my family for my belated 40th birthday celebration!

Wishing you a wonderful start to autumn and hoping that you find much coziness in the season.

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days."
-John Burroughs

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August Papertrey Ink Blog Hop

It's "Blog Hop" time at Papertrey Ink and I am excited to be participating this month! Papertrey Ink issues a challenge on the 15th of each month when new products are revealed on their website and participants have until the 25th to prepare their projects. A variety of crafting supplies can be used, however projects must include at least one Papertrey Item.

This month, the following photo (credit) was posted as inspiration for the Blog Hop:

This is a wonderful photo. It reminds me of a late summer afternoon and it has a very vintage feel to it - check out the lining on the suitcase! Most wonderful of all, it contains some of my very favorite things: books, strawberry jam (okay - I don't know for sure if it is strawberry jam, but that's what I am guessing), ribbon, flowers (in a lovely shade of pink) and a floral scarf/tea towel.

I love to read, and one of the first things I noticed in the photo were the two books in the suitcase. I have been wanting to make some hand-stamped bookmarks for quite awhile, so I decided that would be the first part of my project. Although it's still summer and the weather is nice here in Northern California, I know that autumn isn't too far off. I love curling up with a good book when the days begin to get shorter and cooler. Lighting a beautiful scented candle adds a warm glow and increases the "coziness" factor quite a bit. On that note, I decided to embellish a jar candle to coordinate with the hand-stamped bookmark. I realized that the bookmark and candle would actually make a wonderful gift, along with a book, so I also created a coordinating 3 x 3 card.

I wanted to keep my bookmark fairly flat without a lot of layers so it fits easily inside a book. I decided to include a button at the top, which looks very cute as it "peeks" out of the book. I chose the "Celebrate Today" sentiment because I feel that reading is something that really keeps us grounded in the present moment - and what is more joyous than taking some time each day to read a good book, your favorite magazine or perhaps even reading to your child?

Speaking of reading, you can see the book "The Help" in the photos with my bookmark. Yes, I'm a little late with regard to reading the book since the movie was released earlier this month, but better late than never! I am thoroughly enjoying this book - I was hooked from the first sentence! It's definitely one of those books where I could finish it in two days, but at the same time, I don't want it to end so I am taking my time...or at least trying to. I plan to see the movie, and I am hopeful that I will finish the book while the movie is still in the theaters. Of course there's always DVD!

Here is a list of supplies that I used to create the bookmark, jar candle and 3 x 3 card. All supplies are from Papertrey Ink unless otherwise noted. Stamps (Think Big Favorites # 4, Friendship Jar); Cardstock (Kraft, Pure Poppy, Spring Moss, Vintage Cream); Patterned Paper (Green Tea Leaves, Sugar Plum); Buttons (Ripe Avocado); Felt (Simply Chartreuse); Dies (Limitless Layers Collection 2.5 inches); Punches ( 1 1/4 inch and 1 3/8 inch circle); Self-Adhesive Rhinestones. The candle is from Michael's - one of their seasonally scented jar candles which are a great deal when they go on sale (perfect for stocking up to make gifts throughout the year).

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, whether you stopped by as part of the Papertrey Ink Blog Hop or you currently follow my blog. I am happy to have you here.

I always try and wrap up my posts with a quote and I happened to come across the following quote in the last couple days and thought it would be perfect for this post since it is related to reading.

"We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become."
-Ursula K. LeGuin

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day - a day to celebrate our freedom, enjoy all kinds of tasty food and watch the fireworks light up the sky! No matter how you might be celebrating today, I hope that it's a wonderful day.

As some of you know, I love taking photos of food. It's probably the most common type of photo that I post of my Facebook page. While it's fun to snap photos using the camera on my cell phone, I prefer to use my regular camera to capture the best images.

Included in this post are some food photos that I recently took which capture the essence of summer perfectly. I think you might get hungry as you scroll through these photos. Wink, wink.

Grilled Casper's hot dog, potato salad and grapes

Summer salad with feta cheese and other toppings

Hot fudge sundae with homemade strawberry ice cream

Buttermilk pancakes with fresh blueberries and raspberries

Do you have a favorite summer food and/or beverage? It would be very challenging for me to pick just one thing that I enjoy eating and/or drinking during the summer months because I have so many favorites. A few things that come to mind right away are pink lemonade, my mom's homemade potato salad and chocolate-dipped soft serve ice cream like the treat served at Dairy Queen.

Speaking of ice cream, I am off to enjoy a small scoop of the homemade chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream that I made earlier today using my new Cuisinart ice cream maker. Yum!

"Happiness is life served up with a scoop of acceptance, a topping of tolerance and sprinkles of hope, although chocolate sprinkles also work."
-Robert Brault

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer Card Camp 2011 - Week 1

It certainly has been awhile since I've posted an entry highlighting one of my latest paper creations and because I originally created this blog to showcase my cards and other paper crafting goodies, I think it's time to do just that!

I recently signed up for the online Summer Card Camp class which began earlier this week. Each week day I receive an email filled with all kinds of card-making inspiration. At the beginning of each week a new color combination is introduced and we are encouraged to use our supplies to create our own card and post it in the class gallery to share with other class participants. It's easy peasy and tons of fun!

So, without further ado, here is my card featuring this week's color combination (as noted in the above graphic):

The following supplies were used to create this card:

Stamps: Papertrey Ink - Cupcake Collection, Flower Fusion 2
Paper: Papertrey Ink - Cardstock; Stampin' Up! - Patterned Paper
Ink: Tsukineko Memento - Bamboo Leaves; Stampin' Up! Classic Ink - Melon Mambo
Embellishments: Felt (Papertrey Ink); Button (Papertrey Ink); Teal Acrylic Bead (Martha Stewart)
Tools: Eyelet Border Punch (Stampin' Up!); Flower Fusion 2 Die (Papertrey Ink)

I hope that you are having a great 4th of July weekend! I'll be back soon with another post featuring photos of some of my favorite all-American summer time foods.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Colors of Summer

Summer has officially begun and the Bay Area enjoyed warm temperatures and sunny skies throughout the week - the perfect way to kick off the summer season!

What are some of your favorite things about summer? Do you have any summer memories from childhood that you look back on with fondness? Are there any particular colors that you associate with summer?

Some of my favorite things about summer are:
  • The abundance of fruits including blueberries, strawberries, peaches and apricots; I love going to the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings so that I can fill up my fruit basket for the week
  • Wearing sandals and flip flops to show off my pretty, painted toenails
  • Indulging in iced chai tea lattes from Starbucks
  • Reading outdoors - at the park, the beach, a cafe...
  • Making homemade strawberry jam to share with my family and friends during the holidays, which gives them a "sweet" reminder of summer during the winter months
  • The slower pace of life
One of my most vivid summer memories is of spending just about every day swimming at the high school pool that was within walking distance of my house in San Mateo. The pool was open Monday through Saturday afternoons for recreation swim. I remember spending almost the entire afternoon in the pool each day. Fortunately I didn't sunburn easily and while I didn't intentionally aim to get a tan, that's exactly what happened. I guess it's my Italian genes. My nicknames during the summer months were "Brown Berry" and "Water Rat."

Another memorable summer ritual was hearing the ice cream truck coming down my street. My brother and I would hear the music and we would grab our money and run out the door just in time to see the truck approaching our house. Not much beats enjoying ice cream on a warm summer day! I'll have to keep my eyes and ears open for an ice cream truck over the next couple months so that I can indulge in a "sweet" reminder of my childhood.

I'll wrap up with a line from Kenny Chesney's song Summertime:

"Perfect song on the radio,
Sing along 'cause it's one we know,
It's a smile, it's a kiss,
It's a sip of wine, it's summertime,
Sweet summertime."

Enjoy your week!

Monday, June 13, 2011

So Many Things To Be Happy About Today!

1. It's my 40th birthday! Yes, it's a big birthday, and one that some people often dread, but not me - I happen to love celebrating my birthday. What's not to love about being another year older and another year wiser?

2. I am taking the day off from work. I have a rule that I don't go to work on my birthday when it falls on a week day. In fact, since it's my 40th birthday, I decided to take the whole week off from work!

3. I signed up for a digital photo class which is beginning tonight.

4. My brother, Andy, is taking me out to lunch at Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay to celebrate my birthday. It will be my first visit to this restaurant and I am looking forward to it.

5. Overall, my health is good and I am feeling optimistic about life.

6. Not having to wake up to an alarm this morning.

7. Taking photos today with my new Nikon D90 DSLR camera and lenses.

8. My family and friends wishing me "Happy Birthday" when they call.

9. Being able to take a long walk this morning - my favorite time of the day to be outside.

10. Starting to read a new book on my Nook.

11. Looking forward to a belated 40th birthday celebration at Disneyland with my family in September. Can't wait to see Mickey and Minnie!

12. Enjoying the gigantic, still "afloat" birthday balloons that my co-workers gave to me last week.

13. That my birthday falls on June 13. I consider 13 a lucky number because of that.

14. Knowing that the official start of summer is just around the corner.

15. Being able to wear sandals and flip-flops to show off my first pedicure of the season.

16. Thinking about the magical things yet to come during my 40s - I believe (and hope!) that it can only get better.

17. Enjoying fresh blueberries on my cereal for breakfast this morning.

18. Knowing that I will get to enjoy some yummy birthday cake this week, and maybe even a cupcake or two!

19. Listening to the newest playlist that I created on my iPod.

20. Making a wish and blowing out the candles on my birthday cake.

I'll wrap this post up with one of my favorite birthday quotes:

"A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip."
-Author Unknown

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spring Greetings!

Another blog post at last! You might be wondering where I have disappeared to for the last few months - it wasn't my intention to take a break from posting on my blog, but my "8 - 5" job took center stage and unfortunately I had to put blogging aside for awhile. The academic year has finally come to a close and things should return to a more normal pace at work which I hope will leave me with more energy to pursue the many interests that I have outside of work.

Despite being overwhelmed by work recently, I have managed to find time to read, cook/bake and take photos, some of which are included throughout this entry. Rather than devoting an entire blog post to all of these things, I have decided that I will dedicate my next several blog entries to each of these items individually.

Have you often found yourself browsing the web and coming across photos and information that you would like to note for future reference? Yes, you could print out the photo and/or the information and refer to it later, but if you are anything like me, you might end up with a lot of paper very quickly, not to mention the fact that you'll be buying a lot of ink for your printer! If you find yourself in this situation, Pinterest is the site for you. In a nutshell, it is a place for you to catalog the things you love. The following is taken from the Pinterest site:

Think of Pinterest as a virtual pinboard - a place where you can create collections of things you love and "follow" collections created by people with great taste. People use Pinterest to collect and share all sorts of things - wedding inspiration, favorite T-Shirts, DJ equipment. You name it, people are pinning it.

One of my favorite things about this site is the fact that you can browse other user's boards and "re-pin" their items to your own boards, or you can add items directly to your own boards from the web. It's the best of both worlds! You can also comment on other people's pins and "like"them as well (similar to Facebook).

I have come across some stunning photos of food, people and fashion, just to name a few, while browsing the Pinterest site. Pinning food photos to my various boards (Cupcakes, Desserts, Cooking, etc.) enables me to go back at some point in the future and easily locate the recipe or other information associated with a specific pin (i.e., location, where to purchase, etc.). Pop on over to the Pinterest site and see for yourself how much fun it is. Enjoy!

I'll leave you with this quote that I came across today:

"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life."
-John Burroughs

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

One Little Word Blog Hop - March 1

Happy March! I can hardly believe that we're already at the beginning of the the third month of 2011. Time passes by so quickly!

As many of you already know, I am participating in the One Little Word project this year (click here to read the post highlighting my January project). To coincide with the project, I will be participating in a blog hop on the first day of each month to highlight my progress throughout 2011. The blog hop is titled ONE on 1 (also known as One Little Word on the first day of each month).

The February prompt was to cultivate an awareness of my word (wonder) in the world through photos: "Where does it exist? What does it do? How can you capture it?" In some cases it's possible to see a word both literally and figuratively. With regard to my word, wonder, I found it challenging to find photos that represented it literally, so I ended up focusing on the figurative aspects and created the following montage:

I chose these particular photos because they do indeed cause me to be filled with admiration, amazement and awe (part of the definition of wonder). The February assignment has caused me to look at things around me in a different way - even the simple, everyday things can stir up wonder which certainly makes life much more exciting!

In case you are curious, the photo collection shown above was created digitally using Photoshop Elements in an 8 x 10 format. Each of the individual photos are approximately 2 x 3 so when the photos are printed, they will perfectly on the back side of the 9-photo holder page that I used last month when I created my January project. Additionally, if you would like view these photos in a larger format, they are available on my Flickr site in the set titled One Little Word.

Thank you so much for taking a few minutes out of your day to visit my blog, whether you are a regular reader or stopping by for the first time. If you are interested in seeing some more great projects related to One Little Word, you can continue "hopping" to another blog by clicking here.

I also want to send out a big thank you to Margie for organizing the monthly One on 1 blog hop!

Wishing you a wonderful week and hoping that the month of March brings you much happiness.

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something that we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have."
-Frederick Keonig

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Papertrey February Blog Hop Challenge

I am very excited to be participating in Papertrey Ink's Blog Hop for February. The challenge this month was to use scallops of any sort on a project. That could include scalloped borders, stamped scallops, layered scallops or any other scallop-related design you could think of. Here is photo of the card that I created especially for the Blog Hop:

I want to say thank you to all of my blog visitors, whether you're a regular reader, or perhaps just stopping by today for the first time. I appreciate it!

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
-Thornton Wilder