CREDITS:

Digital scrap items in the header, layouts and sidebar are by Miss Mint at PeppermintCreative.com or Jen Wilson at JenWilsonDesigns.com

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Alright, alright

I'll upload some pictures! But I don't have the software for my camera installed on the new computer yet. Now that Christmas is over, here are the pics of Aiden that I gave the grandmas:
(And some others the rest of the family hasn't seen)








My grandmother Mimi (Aiden's great-grandmother) actually started crying when she opened her 8x10 frame of Aiden's head shot and, although her vision is failing, she could see his face. I didn't realize until that moment she hadn't been able to see him as he blurred past her all morning. It honestly made her entire day! Thanks, Kels.
The second one is my favorite. I've had it printed in two different sizes for my house! His eyes are sooooo blue! In just the 6 weeks since this was taken they have begun to change color, darkening a bit. Hopefully they don't darken too much, I want blue-eyed birthday pics in March!
I'll upload the holiday pics from my camera when I find the USB cord...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Little Holiday Reminders

This is the time of year when I reflect on what has past, my goals and my aspirations for the upcoming months. The holidays seem to come in a rush and then screech to a disorienting hault between Christmas and New Years, leaving us lots of time to enjoy family, be a kid again and bury all the phones under the couch cushions. This December there have been several occasions when I've been reminded that it is okay to not be perfect. In fact, it's downright best for your family to not even TRY! LOL! Reviewing these last few wild weeks have left me feeling foolish for not letting a few more little chores go and doing more with Aiden, who is growing with each precious second that ticks by. I'm not one who is big into New Year's resolutions so I am fully planning on planning nothing. I'd like to have more out-of-the-house playtime for Aiden and more productive evenings for myself. (Now made possible by the AWESOME new computer Brian got me for Christmas and the INCREDIBLE Bamboo Fun tablet my in-laws gave me!) This also means I can get back to my designing, which I had to put on hold waaaaay back in August when Super Saturday planning began. I've added some gorgeous new fonts to my collection and I'm dying to play with them!

So what's next? This week it's all about family. And after that I'm going to enjoy everything! My sister's baby will be here in just a few weeks, the weather should be turning cold and my schedule looks refreshingly open. Life is good! I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday week and capturing every moment! I'll see you in 2009. ;)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tay's Day

Children add enjoyment (and spice) to our lives. If you're kinda bland, you tend to get a spicy child. If you're already pretty firey yourself, apparently it gets extra-concentrated before being passed on to your offspring. At least that's my theory.

The hilarity of my life is not lost on me. I might be ready to pull my hair out around mid-day while the chaos ensues around me but before dinner is over, I'm struggling to tell Brian all the details over my involuntary laughter! Today is a perfect example. In 72 hours I'll have who-knows-how-many family members here for Christmas and I decided to brave the grocery store this morning. With Aiden. I should know better by now but I'm working on a tight holiday schedule and the stress is causing lapses in my judgement. I had a shopping list as long as my arm and when I had to park in the only open spot on the end of one of the furthest rows during what would have normally been a slow time of the day, I knew this wasn't going to be fun.

After thirty minutes of being polite to slow-moving strangers who are shopping without an irritable toddler, I only have the first ten items checked off my list and I'm getting nowhere fast. Every aisle is a maze of carts and the crawling pace has me grumbling and Aiden shouting. I was about ready to plow down every single middle-aged man ambling slowly through the mayhem, clutching a grocery list written in their wife's hand, staring blankly at the shelves and looking lost while managing to block both directions of aisle traffic as they squint at the rows of products in front of them. I felt even more hostile when, for the first time, some decrepit, sloth-paced strangers actually began making rude little sighs and sounds in the back of their throats at Aiden's misbehavior as we closed in on hour two of shopping and he hit the stage beyond meltdown that I like to call 'throwdown'.

It always starts off slow, with Aiden's mild boredom turning into misbehavior which turns into blatant naughtiness, hoping it will mean immediate removal from whatever horrid store I have drug him into. Today I was combing the first-aid section for band-aids for about thirty seconds when I turned back towards the cart to find Aiden sitting perfectly still, hands polietly in his lap and his eyes gazing innocently into mine, with thirteen bottles of calamine lotion strewn across his seat, lined neatly in the handlebar basket and shoved into both of the cart's drink holders. The sudden appearance of so many bottles startled me and I let out a laughing "What?!!" because I hadn't heard a sound as he'd pulled them from the shelf!

Not five minutes later we're on the cereal aisle, where I'm trying to quickly pick a hot cocoa flavor while traffic backs up, and I hear the sound of plastic stressing and fracturing beside me. I wheel around to find Aiden removing a long, thin hanging display from the shelf ledge, saying "Oh, no! I break it" while a half-dozen unimpressed shoppers watch over my shoulder. (Where in the HECK are all the grumpy old people coming from today?) I give Aiden a reminder not to touch hanging displays - with a poorly concealed humorous grin - as I wheel us away. I'm trying to keep his discomfort to a minimum so when I see that the baking aisle is moving about as fast as a post office line, I detour over to the toy section to hunt for some stocking stuffers. I'm looking at cars when a man walks by, spies Aiden's spikey hair and playfully says "Hey cool dude!" Without missing a BEAT Aiden repeats "coo dude!" in a delighted voice and then instantly drops to a more serious tone to add "Daddy at work", as if to ensure the stranger knows who this cool dude and his mommy love. I freeze, keeping my back turned, and hold my breath to keep it from rushing out in laughter at my toddler's hilariously random responses! I never saw the guy or his reaction but I hope he wasn't too offended that a toddler pointed out his dad was working when he wasn't! LOL!

I end up finding some tiny Tonka cars & trucks on clearance for 50¢ and a Lightning McQueen book. Stocked with new distrations, I get in the baking aisle line. I select my items and am ambling along, waiting to exit the end of the row when we pass the bags of baking morsels and Aiden begins very loudly and clearly repeating "WANT CANDY", enunciating every word with increased volume. How do you explain that something on this aisle that looks like tiny Hershey's kisses actually doesn't taste like regular Hershey's kisses to a 21 month-old? The place is so full of fifty-somethings I don't even glance around to acknowledge the judgemental stares.

The next episode is in the meat & cheese section where Aiden feels it is his personal duty to ensure that our shred cheese is also mashed before it gets home. When I select a steak, one of Aiden's favorite dinners, he drops the cheese and shouts "STEAK!" I hear a few chuckles from the younger dads around me as I back the cart away, running over the dropped bag of mashed cheese I didn't see, and head for the deli.

Aiden is 'cart surfing' (standing up in his seat making animal noises) by the time we're there and the length of the deli line brings me to a screeching hault. My son's loud and accurate monkey noises - complete with butt-in-the-air bouncing motions - have all sixteen pairs of eyes on me in an instant. A sweet grandmother helping at the deli counter smiles and slightly nods in the direction of a cafeteria cart of popular pre-sliced, bagged & priced deli cuts intended to spare those bedraggled by the holidays. Bless her heart, she even comes over to entertain (the now neighing) Aiden so I can sort through the pile to find turkey & swiss cheese. Of course the second someone else pays him attention, Aiden plops his little bum on the seat and gazes at her in angelic silence, with the same melting smile that makes you pay ridiculous amounts for a grocery store Lightning McQueen book.

Second to last stop is the produce section and my least favorite place to have Aiden. Every fruit & vegetable I place in the cart is followed by pleading and a temper tantrum, only to be interrupted by the next fresh food and corresponding temper tantrum. (These have started over completely raw steaks as I put them in the basket, too. Ridiculous!) I almost felt relieved when I bagged up three jumbo heads of broccoli, knowing Aiden wouldn't be going for a sixth round of 'Mom, WANT!' and fake crying. Stupid me.

I'm trying to sneak strawberries in the cart without him seeing when a broccoli floret hits me in the cheek. I glance up and Aiden cautiously says "I fro....?" and then looks at me as if to say 'could you please name that vegetable for me?' I try to keep a serious face as I ask "Did you throw broccoli at me?" but seriously, I'm only slightly better behaved in public than he is. He thinks about it for a second and repeats "brocoyucky". I can't contain my laughter! I'm trademarking the name because I'm certain millions of children will agree it is, indeed, brocoyucky and any book with such a humorous title would be wildly popular among the refuse-to-eat-it crowd!

The last item I need is vanilla ice cream so off to the frozen foods we go. I notice Aiden is oddly still, like he's watching something. I had just pried the broccoli from his little grip for the fifth time and in a much more menacing mommy tone told him he was to not touch the brocoyucky again. I pull the ice cream off the shelf and as the fogged-up glass door swings shut, it reveals Aiden, head tilted all the way back with his hands wrapped tightly around the thick base of the largest broccoli stem, trying to shove the entire head into his mouth. He looks like a giant trying to swallow an uprooted oak tree whole. Stunned and exasperated, I shout "SON!" He jumps and then, in one rapid move, quickly pitches the broccoli over his head into the basket and shouts back "NAUGHTY BROCOYUCKY!"

I'm barreling the cart towards the checkout lanes, promising myself I really will run over anyone that gets in the way of my plan to get this child down for a nap as soon as possible. I'm in luck and find a cashier just finishing up a transaction with no one else in line. Unloading the cart brings back all the same tantrums I endured while loading the cart. When the broccoli goes on the conveyor belt, Aiden's hissy fit hits a new level and a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, most likely thrown with the intent to hit me, lands nicely on the moving conveyor belt and rides up for it's turn to be scanned. Now we have a new problem. His sippy cup, my coupon organizer, the already-paid-for cough perscription and a shoe hit the conveyor belt next. My verbal requests to not throw anything else on top of the produce go ignored so I have to stop unloading the cart and leap to catch him as he leans too far over to dump his fruit snacks on the moving black belt next. I save the fruit snacks, get him re-seated, unload the last few things and push he and the cart ahead of me for the bagger to load. I'm doing controlled inhales and exhales at the card swipe machine while Aiden is the bag boy's problem for a moment. And then I see it. Coming defiantly and triumphantly down the conveyor belt at the very end of the line is the empty, crumpled foil fruit snack wrapper. I've been outdone. Against all odds, more spice has been added to my already crazy, spiced-up life and he's the best one yet. He constantly reminds me that I simply will not be allowed to take anything too seriously or ever be too stubborn because it's useless. He's teaching me that when those empty wrappers come down the line in life and they're nothing more than a fleeting moment's inconvenience, JUST LAUGH!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tay's Totally Cheating 'Best Ever' Pancakes

Sometimes my kitchen adventures catch small appliances on fire. And sometimes they result in an amazing new concoction . My pancake recipie is one of them.

When Brian and I were first married I couldn't make pancakes from scratch to save my life. They always turned out AWFUL. Last month when Brian made a batch following the same old recipie, they tasted worse than mine ever did. (In Brian's defense, it was the stale baking powder that ruined his batch.) Two years ago I decided to give in and start using Bisquick to make pancakes and I never looked back. This summer, while delirious from lack of sleep, I mixed up the waffle and pancake recipies half-way through making the batter and discovered the pancakes tasted a lot like the ones they serve at The Cracker Barrel. Here's the recipie for my delicious screw-up:

Tay's Totally Cheating 'Best Ever' Pancakes:

2 heaping cups Bisquick
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 and 1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons cooking oil

May Also Need:
1/4 cup Bisquick for thickening if needed (you might need to add this on humid days)
1 tablesppon milk for thinning if needed

Combine all these ingredients in a bowl and stir until the big lumps are broken up. Batter should be slightly thick, more like a waffle batter. Add another 1/4 cup Bisquick if the batter is too thin or runny like cake batter. (Relax, you can't screw this up! It's Tay-proof.) Spray a hot griddle with any cooking spray and cook the pancakes according to the Bisquick box directions from here. They should make thick, fat pancakes. When you pull them off the griddle, smear each one with butter while they're still hot or drizzle warm melted butter over them if they have cooled. Serve smothered in syrup.

Please Note: NEVER ADD EGGS TO THIS RECIPIE! Or any Bisquick pancake or waffle recipie for that matter. It has been my experience that eggs ruin the flavor and soft texture of all pancakes.

If You Want To Add Nuts:

Add an extra slosh (1 tablespoon) of milk to the batter and stir well before adding extra Bisquick for thickening. Usually you won't need to thicken it.

If You Want To Add Spices:

Throw them in! No special steps required.

Tip: Don't ask me why but the HEB brand of 'Bisquick' (Hill Country Fare All-Purpose Baking Mix) makes the most delicious version of this recipie and is actually what I was using when I messed it all up and stumbled across this yummy combination. ;)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Minute To Breathe

Okay, I've got a minute to breathe between holiday gift deliveries and jewelry orders so let me catch you up on my (unexciting) life! I've hardly left the house in the last two weeks so Brian and I have planned a much-needed date night for Saturday. I'm sooooooo excited to dress up and go out! I just finished my forty-seventh or so piece of jewelry and I'm so glad I began building up my bead inventory in August. Unfortunately I put off Christmas shopping (which I also normally begin in August and have finished by November) but this year has been a painful reminder of why my shopping needs to be done by Thanksgiving. I'll be better about it next year! LOL!

Meanwhile, I've loved all the custom orders and really gotten to stretch my creativity lately. (Hence, the blog absence.) I cut some vinyl for my house, which just went up on the walls this afternoon (see: other things I should have done by Thanksgiving). I also discovered that low-tack vinyl application tape has the perfect amount of stickiness for removing glitter from a toddler's soft skin without hurting them when they pull a half-dozen glitter balls & snowflakes off your tree to pile in the middle of the living room floor while you have your back turned to hang the vinyl.

I had anticipated the tree being a problem so I bought all shatter-proof ornaments and let Aiden select a 'special' ornament that he can pull off the tree and play with any time he'd like. (He chose a silver Eiffel Tower. He loves my little model ones and about fell out of the shopping cart as he leapt for the ornament version when we passed it at Target. I love his ornament! I was afraid we'd end up with Lightning McQueen on the tree...) However, the rest of the ornaments are off-limits. Or so I say. EVERY SINGLE TIME I'm not looking, he runs to the tree and starts plucking things off. Or I'll hear the light tinkling of the jingle bells, followed by a very metallic PING-JANG-JANG-JANG as they ricochet & bounce across the tile while he shouts 'I fro ball!' or something similar. If I'm not paying him enough attention at the moment (read: in the bathroom), he'll bring me one and give me a very stern 'no no' as soon as he places it in my hands.

Actually, I'm afraid I have created my own problem there. ALL my psychology texts say that children will usually resort to misbehavior when they want attention. It's easy for me to spot this so I'll often stop and ask Aiden if he needs a hug instead of telling him 'no' for the billionth time about throwing the mail on the floor or standing on the open dishwasher door. Only problem is Aiden doesn't seem to understand he can ASK for a hug. Instead, he does something blatant & obviously naughty to get my attention, most likely hoping a hug will follow. Today he barged into the office, crossed the room and threw the biggest fistful of vinyl he could grab across the floor before turning to look at my surprised expression. His little bottom lip pouted out a fraction of an inch as he processed the agitated look on my face. How could I be mad at that pout?!!! When I gently said 'You must really need a hug', he barrelled into my arms and he hugged me like he never has before, burrying his head under my chin and wrapping all four limbs tight around me. I'm not entirely sure what upset him (my attention to hanging vinyl?) but I was completely melted! We played in the playroom for the next hour and a half and then cleaned up and packed some old toys away to make room for new Christmas toys coming. He had a great time and I did, too! He's such a cool little kid. And I'm amazed at how much he can make me laugh! This morning I carried him into the pantry and asked him what he wanted for breakfast. He simply replied 'food'.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Write Something Tay!

I tend to do things in reverse order don't I? Let's back up and I'll tell you about Thanksgiving.

It was a blast! We broke the trip up into two legs, staying one night with Brian's brother Dan and his wife Laura in Dallas. We caravaned the rest of the way up, girls in one car and boys in the other. I had way too much fun talking with Laura! We need to do that every year! Aiden rode with us gals and Dan was patient with my just-at-the-speed-limit driving. When I suddenly blew past them on the highway doing 85, heading for the nearest exit with Laura rapidly punching buttons on the GPS, they didn't have to call and ask why. Aiden had woken up and was howling for food. We stoped almost in the middle of nowhere at an A&W that was inside a gas station. It was very easy to tell the holiday travelers from the locals. LOL!

All the in-laws made it up to OKC on Wednesday and so did Brian's cousin Melissa that also lives in Houston. There were 9 kiddos, including newborn Kyra, so Aiden had plenty of playmates! I enjoyed all the girls and even went with them to go see Twilight again. (Ugh. It's just as bad the second time.) We had a nice meal - or as nice as you can have with Aiden throwing food around my MIL's elegant carpeted front dining room - and then we had Christmas with everyone on Saturday. We had some gifts we were excited to give and I was SOOOOOOOO thrilled to get a Bamboo Fun designer tablet!!!

Black Friday was a lot of fun for me, too. I had a list of places I wanted to go and when I was ready before my other SIL's were, I stopped at Old Navy first to kill time until I met them at Khols. I never made it to Khols. Instead I loaded my cart at Old Navy up with a whole new set of work out capris (the gym needs to hurry up and open!), several pairs of $4-and-under denim & khaki capris and gobs of maternity items I found for $1.99 and $3.99. (No, I'm not pregnant. This is for late next year.) The best deal of the day was the cute denim cropped shorts I got for $1.99. Seriously! Black Friday rocks!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I did fall down the stairs at my in-laws. The holidays wouldn't be complete without the thud-thud-thud of my body crashing down the steps at least once. (Growing up I never lived in a house with stairs. That's my excuse.) And yes, I was wearing my Twilight 'Accident Prone' shirt when I fell!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jewelry Inventory Clearance

I'm re-posting this previous photo of my show inventory. I made several in each color so nearly all that are shown are available. (At least as of right now. I have more friends coming this afternoon.)



I have two dozen pairs priced at $4 and $6. Lots of chunky chocolate brown, warm honey gold shades, flashy aqua, festive pink and glittering red. Come and get 'em!

Monday, December 1, 2008

We're Back!

Just a VERY quick blog post to say we are back in town! It took us 12 hours to get home last night from OKC, which normally is only an 8.5 hour drive with stops. UGH! Traffic was awful! As if it could get worse, I had a sinus infection on top of yesterday's 24 hour stomach bug. Brian had to pull in to a gas station so I could throw up. I didn't even make it out of the car - I puked all over the concrete in front of the gas pump. (We're all well now. Aiden and most of his cousins caught the bug over the weekend before we left town.) Thank goodness Christmas is at my house this year and we don't have to travel!

I paused quickly to check my e-mail and was flattered to find several jewelry orders & requests waiting for me. I'll begin working on them this week so you have them quickly! I am retrieving my earring inventory, which has been to craft fairs, Canton and back, so everyone is welcome to stop by and see what I have. There are some petite single-drop earrings I am clearancing at FOUR DOLLARS per pair. That's COST for the gemstone, sterling silver and Swarovski crystal. But hurry, I'm sending Brian to work with most of my marked-down inventory on Monday December 8 for the fabulous, trendy women he works downtown with and I don't anticipate him coming home with much!

NEW Holiday Card Deadline: Monday December 8 (sorry, too many current orders)
Jewelry Custom Order Deadline: Monday December 15 - allow 5 days for completion
*Inventory jewelry is available all the way through January 1. Earrings, adult bracelets & baby bracelets are in stock.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Card & Jewelry Order Deadline

I don't know where else to post this other than my blog but my Holiday Card deadline for ordering is December 10. Our huge family christmas is at my house this year so after the 10th, I'll be getting ready for a houseful. HURRY and get your pictures to me if you want one!

The deadline for custom jewelry, cut vinyl and baby bracelet orders is December 15. (It's a few days later because my re-stock order is shipping late.) If you need a gorgeous gift under $25 that looks like you spent $50, come see me! I've got tons of brand new JUMBO sized gemstones coming that you won't want to miss. Perfect for trendy moms, grandmas & in-laws that are otherwise difficult to shop for. ;) I'm taking pre-orders for my chunky drop earrings made with naturally-occuring LEOPARD PRINT stones since there are only a few 'ideal' beads on each strand. (The rest are brown with chocolate brown & black veining, which also make stunning earrings and bracelets.) $25 for a pair of the Leopard Print stone earrings, $20 for the non-leopard brown stone or Sesame Jasper earrings and $18 for other gemstone earrings, all made with glittering Swarovski crystal, the new 'iris' style ultra-iridescent freshwater pearls, Swarovski Crystal Pearls, coordinating gemstone 6mm round beads and sterling silver components. Shell earrings are $10-$20 depending on whether you select 3,4,5 or 6 drops. Gemstone bracelets are 'set your own budget' priced, starting at $15.

I usually have jewelry already made and on-hand but most of my inventory is being sold in Canton this weekend. Come see me in December for some great deals on any leftovers. ;)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tay's Twilight Movie Review

Stephanie Meyer should sue. If she had any control over that massacre of her masterpiece then she should BE sued. It was worse than terrible. I told the girls who saw the movie with me that I rated it as a 'bad camp skit' but I think eighth grade drama production would more accurately describe the train wreck I paid $9.50 to see last night.

First, let me say that I simply do not see HOW Stephanie could write Bella as a reserved but thoughtful, self-sacrificing girl and Edward as an intoxicating, dazzling charmer and allow them both to be played so stormily. They practically growled their lines at each other through a teenage moodiness so oppressing, it would call for immediate anti-depression medication in real life. Did neither of those actors read the book? I also know from high school drama class that if you can't play a character in a 'relaxed and normal' fashion, it's easier to deliver your lines in a sullen or angry tone to somewhat mask your acting inexperience. It was the last thing I expected from Rob Pattinson last night. SHAME ON HIM FOR EVEN CALLING HIMSELF AN ACTOR! His performance, in my opinion, ruined the whole movie. He doesn't look a THING like Edward should have but I thought he was cast because he could act the part. I would have forgiven his appearance had he managed to dazzle the entire audience but he didn't. He didn't even come close. I could have forgiven his lackluster acting had he been the perfect Edward eye candy. Again, not even close.

Kristen Stewart (Bella) did better than I thought she would, based on her LOUSY line deliveries they showed in the previews. She could have fallen down more and wiped the snarl off her face (that she carried through the entire movie) and I would have enjoyed her presentation more. However, the part where they admit they love each other (sort of - it's 'the lion fell in love with the lamb' part), they had been speaking so impatiently with each other and awkwardly walking through the woods that the lines didn't fit the uncomfortable mood of the scene when Edward suddenly blurted them out. Oh, and the 'staged' breakup scene with Edward so they could escape James was piss-poor. Bella didn't cry, she wasn't shouting through her tears and Charlie wasn't banging on her door. She was as calm as if she was packing to go away on a girl's weekend retreat. *eyeroll*

The movie mildly redeemed itself by writing Charlie (Billy Burke) as being funny. He delivered quite a few lines that made me crack up! Even more hilarious is that the audience errupted in unexpected laughter at ROB'S crappy acting when his motions or facial expression, to convey some serious mood, came across as ridiculously comical. (The same goes for Jasper, who looked like he was kicked in the balls before every scene and told to stand up straight.) Taylor Lautner (Jacob) did a pretty good job with his few lines as did Cam Gigandet (James). Ironically, the one vampire in the book that Bella described as being 'very average-looking' was the most attractive male in the movie. Ashley Greene (Alice) was not only PERFECTLY cast but she played her character spot-on. Too bad that was overshadowed by the others, like Nikki Reed (Rosalie) who was so unattractive that you couldn't understand why Hollywood would choose NOW to use a plus-size actress to portray the 'incarnation of pure beauty'. Maybe a 13 year-old somewhere has been saved from bulimia from her bad casting.

I have been (trying) to listen to the music Stephanie Meyers wrote the book to from the odd band Muse and I just don't much care for it, besides the Supermassive Black Hole song on the soundtrack. I did notice that the music is rough, grouchy and a bit aggressive, kind of like the character portrayal in the movie last night. Perhaps this IS what Stephanie was intending as she was writing these characters and what we all know and love as Twilight is the work of an extremely talented behind-the-scenes editor. Maybe the movie depicted the characters as she originally wrote them while rocking out to Muse's hybrid electronica sound. Or maybe Catherine Hardwicke is just a REALLY BAD DIRECTOR and she's to blame for slaughtering the whole thing. Either way I find myself wishing that a bigger, more experienced studio would have picked up the rights to the movie, even if it meant waiting a few more years to see it done well. I will not sit through that ridiculous charade again and I hope it doesn't ruin how much I enjoy the books. Disappointed is hardly a strong enough word for how I feel.

P.S. My friends who had not recently read the first book seemed to like the movie more than I did. I don't consider myself a harsh movie critic - I usually like everything I see - but in my opinion this movie was inexcuseable.

P.P.S. Jamie's Twilight pre-party and the girls night out was AWESOME! I thoroughly enjoyed the girls. We should do things like that more often!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Add 'T-Shirt Designer' to the List

I am SO EXCITED to say that I designed my first graphic art for apparel and received the first printed shirt in the mail yesterday! I really wanted a Twilight t-shirt for opening night that not only related to the movie but also fit my unique personality. (Or disability, whatever you want to call it.) This is the kind of design that I can wear out and only my fellow Twilight fans would know it was serving double duty. I submitted my custom design to an online printer and was thrilled when they wrote me back asking for exclusive rights to print and sell it on their website. Here's a sneak peek of the design:


Soon to be available for purchase at 2DayDesigns.net! Wow, the things Illustrator can do. T-shirt designs, who would have guessed?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Work

Brian and I were talking last night about how Aiden uses the word 'work'. Every morning he wakes up and sometime in those first few minutes he will listen to the quiet house and then ask "Dad work?" Lately the questions have been phrased more like statements and he doesn't cry any more that dad is gone for the day. Well, at dinner last night Aiden could tell I was getting ready for something (a friend to come over) so he asked "Mama work?" to see if his interpretation that I was doing something different and might leave was correct. It made us laugh! Looking back on it, I wish I would have explained myself a bit further to him instead of simply saying no, I was staying here. His interpretation of my behaviors was correct, it was his anticipated outcome that was different, but I should have pointed out he was right so he wouldn't doubt himself in the future. Brian and I mused that he must think the word work means you disappear mysteriously but you always come back later.

This morning I traded Aiden his breakfast for his blanket that he loves and snuck it in to the washer. I had a doll as a child so I am compassionate when it comes to objects of attachment and I always run the washer on it's shortest cycle and dry the blanket first by itself so Aiden isn't without it for long. Irregardless, the washer hadn't quite finished the rinse cycle when he noticed it was gone. He whimpered 'blanket' as he rushed through the house, checking his crib, the playroom and the kitchen while I quickly slipped the now-washed blanket into the dryer. I tried to comfort him, knowing a meltdown was fast approaching and wondering if there was any way to hurry the drying along. All of a sudden, Aiden ran crying to the front door, pulled back the blinds and silently stared out. With more sadness in his voice than I have ever heard he simply and defeatedly stated "Blanket Work" as he watched the gray storm clouds pass outside. After a minute he calmly put the blinds back in place and sulked up to me. He stopped at my feet, gave me the saddest, most pleading look and with complete faith that I could deliver, said "Mama, want blanket." I scooped him up and was in the laundry room getting his dry-enough blanket so quickly that he didn't realize what had happened until he felt the familiar fleecy texture in is hands. His laugh and the way he clutched his blanket and snuggled in to me totally made my day! I just hope tomorrow he doesn't expect me to magically pull daddy out of the dryer...

Monday, November 10, 2008

SQUEEEEE!!!!

Ask for the impossible and you just might get it! I knew what I wanted. I knew exactly what I wanted. Bright, cheerful, vibrant & playful with artistic angles, candid shots, a handsome photo of Brian by himself smiling (good luck) and a couple family shots for christmas cards. I wanted the impossible. The photos we recieved stunned us both, me gasping in delight at every single one while Brian looked over my shoulder, grinning widely in awe:







Sorry, no sneak peeks of Aiden's best shots! I want to be there when our moms first see the prints to hear their gasps and see the look on their faces. Can you tell we had fun at this shoot? Saturday morning was gorgeous, everyone was in a great mood and it shows. Now I have to pick which ones I want to print and buy a slew of new frames because I simply can't part with the pictures we took three months ago, either!
Kelsey, thank you. That word isn't even enough. Thank you for giving me everything I wanted and more. You captured the playfulness of our family perfectly and the candids of Aiden take my breath away. Had I known this is what was going to be on the disk, I would have tipped you another hundred. Seriously.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sister-Out-Law

I'm stealing that phrase from my friend Michelle because it is SO fitting of me! My local friends think I am way too busy and haven't been around enough but I have hardly talked to my brother's wife - the only SIL on my side, who I positively ADORE - and the rest of my darling SIL's all year. Shame on me. And Brian's side of the family would laugh all too knowingly at my post title, everyone's eyes sparkling with true humor, recalling nearly a decade (yeah guys, as of this month it has been nine years!) of my always-unexpected antics. (Who remembers....well, like EVERY holiday I've been home for....) While Brian hasn't managed to install a filter between my brain and my mouth, his meaningful, frightened warning glances at the last second tend to keep me in check when we visit. I'm always more relaxed in the company of my brother-in-laws (my fellow out-laws?) who never seem quite as startled by the things that tumble out of my mouth...or that they were yet again killed by one of my snipes or sticky grenades as 'Hot Mama' flashes across their Halo board screen. (Except for Jeremy. Grifo kicks my trash.)

The point of my post is that I attempted to be less of a slacker and update my blog link list, only to find I don't have all the (forty thousand) family blog addresses! A bunch of friends have been added and organized in my own what-the-heck order but I need the extended family blogs. And to be taken off the 'blocked' list please. ;) SOL indeed. ROFL!

P.S. I'm really excited about seeing everyone at Thanksgiving! This year I might be outdone by the antics of my cute and hilariously stubborn, clumsy, pirate hat-wearing, iPod-blaring 19 month old. At least I won't be the only one always falling down the stairs...

Friday, November 7, 2008

So What's on Your iPod?

Brian makes fun of my music. (I like a mix of hip-hop, alternative and rock from just about every decade) He's got more sophisticated tastes, picking out chart-toppers a year before they become popular. I frequently download hot 'new' songs only to find he beat me to it by ten months....but I usually identify the up-and-coming hip-hop songs faster than he does so we're even. :)

Any ways, perhaps you'd like to know what I'm blaring while I fly through photoshop, string beads and walk the doberman? Here's a few from my ridiculously random playlist:


That's What You Get - Paramore
You Really Got Me - Van Halen
Live Your Life - T.I. (feat. Rihanna)
Everything is Alright - Motion City Soundtrack
Realize - Colbie Caillat
Misery Business - Paramore
CrushCrushCrush - Paramore
Thing For You - Hinder
Shattered - O.A.R.
Addicted - Saving Abel
Bad Girlfriend - Theory of a Deadman
Decode - Paramore
Whatever You Like (Clean) - T.I.
Got You (Where I Want You) - The Flys
Bubbly - Colbie Caillat
Clumsy - Fergie
Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf
Ooh La La - Goldfrapp
Shake It - Metro Station
Let's Groove - Earth, Wind & Fire
Swing (Clean) - Savage (Brian beat me to this download by several months, believe it or not!)
Beat It (Feat. John Mayer) - Fallout Boy
Think Twice - Eve 6
Dangerous - Kardinal Offishal
The Kill - 30 Seconds to Mars
Strict Machine - Goldfrapp



Maybe you can tell me what Brian is always rolling his eyes at....besides the 70's stuff. (He LOATHES disco.) I'm all over Paramore's songs, including Decode which is off the new Twilight soundtrack. Surprised by the rap? A boy I liked in high school listened to it so I turned it on one summer afternoon to see what the draw was. It was 1997 and the "No Way Out" album had just been released, which I bought a few weeks later after discovering I enjoyed several of the songs. Come to find out the guy I liked actually preferred alternative and had just been listening to it to annoy his mom! LOL! Got You by The Flys is one of my favorite songs, if you define a favorite song by one you always pause to listen to and never seem to grow tired of. It came out at the beginning of my senior year and was still being played periodically when Brian and I met a year later, which is probably why I always like hearing it. It reminds me of good times.

Any other songs you think I should check out?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The 'House' Word Mystery

Aiden has recently discovered the power of 'I want', especially since his annoying squaks and screams resulted in him getting all the wrong snack foods, toys and pretty much the complete opposite of whatever item he was acutally wanting. It took about 3 days of persistently asking him to 'use words' and then it clicked. He speaks real english around the clock and the screaming has been greatly reduced.

Lately he's been using the word 'house' in very odd ways. Frequently he will say 'I want house' or will just run up smiling and shout 'House!' Most of the time he says it when we're actually at home and since he doesn't have any toy houses, we were confused. Until this evening. I had just finished reading Aiden a book on the couch when he looked out the window towards the rapidly darkening sky and asked 'Daddy work?' I told him, yes, daddy was at work and that he would be home soon. He looked at me and said 'I want...' and paused for a moment before finishing with 'house'. I think the confusion was apparent on my face because he suddenly started jumping on the couch, making monkey noises and looking at me with the same gleam in his eye that Brian gets right before he pounces and tackles me. Instantly I understood. "You want to rough house!"

Indeed, sunset is the usual time of day that Brian and Aiden rough house. Since daylight savings time has thrown Aiden's visual time cues off, he asked about Brian and then decided it didn't matter who was around. He was ready to play!

The most fun was seeing Brian's face light up with realization when he got home and I told him the story. I feel like an interpreter most days, repeating Aiden's martian garble so Brian can understand what he is asking. I'm fluent from constant exposure! LOL! I'm sure Aiden is relieved that we are understanding him better.

I will add that his newest word 'canny' (candy) is VERY clear and we have had to hide all the halloween candy and anything resembling a sucker. On Sunday he settled for a caramel apple rind on a popsicle stick as a 'sucker' when I wouldn't let him have one before dinner. Halloween introduced him to candy. NOW I fear the grocery store checkout lane...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Secret Pottery Barn Kids Codes???

Sounds like an Urban Legend, right? IT'S NOT! I was skeptical myself but I really wanted a beautiful pair of light blue pajamas for Aiden to wear and they just were NOT going on sale fast enough! So I thought why not? I'll try the 'secret' codes. Here's the proof:

What's Online Right Now: Solid Flannel Pajamas

What's Hidden And Only Available if You Have the Link: SALE Solid Flannel Pajamas

E-mail me if you want the link to make the $45 shopping cart $39. :)


Edited To Add: No more e-mails!!!! LOL! Look up these items on PBK THEN use my links to see the lower prices/sale prices.

Abigal Jewelry Box: $28.99 LOWER Sale Price

Discount on Some Canvas Tote Colors/Sizes: Totes Price Swap & MORE On Sale

Shopping Cart: $39 Price Swap

Plush Playfood Candy Apples for $8.99 (down $1): CandyApples

Red or Pink Toaster for $29 (not $49): Toaster

Red or Pink Mixer for $49 (not $59): Mixer

Fabric Tea Set: SALE Priced

Color Wheel Toy: SALE Priced

Wood Animal Block Puzzle: $23.99 Price Swap

Memory Flash Cards: SALE Priced

Wood Number Puzzle: $12.99 Price Swap

Wood Alphabet Puzzle: $23.99 Price Swap

Octagon Play Mat: SALE PRICE

Tone Bells: $29.99 Price Swap

Pink Tea Set: $55.99 Price Swap

Geography Wall Clocks: $29.99 Price Swap

Thanksgiving Turkey Plush: SALE Price

Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar: SALE Price

Thanksgiving Leaf Garland: SALE PRICE

Thanksgiving Table Cloth & Runner: Sale Price

Pink or Red Metro Phone: $64.99 Sale Price

Christmas Advent House: $99 Special Price

Some Stockings On Sale: Quilted Stockings

Friday, October 31, 2008

Family Halloween Fun & A Tay Story

Alright, I've gotten things a bit out of order here so let's back up to last Friday October 24. Our neighbors three doors up were having a pumpkin carving party that night so Aiden and I went up to HEB the morning before to buy a pumpkin. When we got there, the nine foot stacked hay bale display out in front of the store had been stripped of all the pumkins that were easiest to reach around the middle. Scattered along the ground were the deformed rejects that couldn't even stand upright and on top of the higher bales were other pretty pumpkins that no one was brave enough to scale the tower for. Well, almost no one.

Near the top I spied a BEAUTIFUL pumpkin. It had a long stem, a plump, symmetrical shape and a broad, smooth face for carving. I parked Aiden in a shopping cart where he couldn't reach or touch anything, hopped the decorative split-rail fence (to keep people off the hay stack) and climbed it myself. Aiden was quiet for a moment as he watched me then his loud scolding "NO, NO, NO!" caught the attention of all the middle-aged women passing by. Several glanced at me with understanding looks, one even smiling until her eyes crinkled, obviously pleased that I was being such a good little mommy and carving pumpkins with my child. One older woman actually stopped and asked if I would get her a pumpkin while I was up there, too! I climbed down from the bales with my prized pumpkin, dusted the hay off myself, finished my shopping and went home.

Fast forward to Friday night when we have Aiden and the pumpkin loaded in the wagon. We're half-way to the neighbors house when I look at the back of my pumpkin for the first time and gasp. Brian wheels around to see me staring wide-eyed with my hand over my mouth before I burst into a roar of laughter. My perfect pumpkin with it's beautifully smooth face is also anatomically correct:





He's got the cutest pumpkin butt I have ever seen! Of course, I'm the only person who would climb a store display in broad daylight to unknowingly pick out the only pumpkin in all of Houston that could match my humor!



Here he is all carved up. I doodled the face and Brian did the flawless carving. Great job babe!

Okay, next party. Saturday the 25th was our church Halloween party. Aiden and I dressed up as pirates and since Brian went as himself, I had him take the picture of us:



We really had a lot of fun! Most of the adults dressed up and everyone got a kick out of Aiden's tattered-hem cropped pants. (Little did they know that although the costume is 2T, the pants aren't supposed to be 'cropped'. His legs are just THAT LONG! Notice the sleeves fit fine?) It was a great party, mostly because my fun and trendy friend Rachel organized it and her family's excitement about dressing up really got everyone into it. She decorated the gym over the top with a HUGE spider web that spanned the entire ceiling! Excellent party Rach!

I'll post the trick or treat pics next but for now I need to get off the computer and pay Brian some attention - he's hardly seen me today and every conversation earlier was interrupted by trick-or-treaters!

Halloween Hybrid Goodies!

It was worth the wait - the halloween kit is adorable and was so much fun to scrap with! (Nevermind that I haven't made it to bed before 1 am two nights in a row...) I am also VERY excited to say that something I made is being sold on Miss Mint's website! I made the template for the Halloween Treat Bags, Miss Mint provided the papers and we both agreed they are so easy to put together, we're going to offer them for each holiday. Click here to see the Hybrid Template Set

Here are some of the bags I made with the new papers:




Below is a little thank you gift for our next door neighbors:

And this is a candy bar wrapper for a jumbo Mr. Goodbar I made using Miss Mint's Custom Candy Templates:




WHEW! Now I need to sort through the dozens of pumpkin carving, petting zoo & halloween party pictures I took and post them next! LOL! Well, after I clean up the mess in the kitchen from making caramel apples this afternoon. ;)
P.S. I know why Miss Mint was a bit late with the halloween kit - she was distracted by the STUNNING fall kit she's assembled! It's almost done and wow, it's going to be a new best seller.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Kit Coming!

My time stamp isn't wrong, this post really was written at nearly 1 am. I love launch nights! LOL! Here is a teensy sneak peek Miss Mint posted on the forum of the halloween papers:
The full kit is due out sometime before Halloween day AND it will be on sale this weekend because it's Digi Scrap Day!
Be sure to keep a special look out for the new hybrid product Miss Mint and I designed. It's my first one being sold on the site and I am sooooo excited!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Teacher's Gifts

I've already talked to a few local friends and it seems everyone needs cute, unique yet reasonably priced teachers gifts for Chirstmas this year. I was hunting high and low for something I can order in bulk, add vinyl lettering to and sell to parents to fill with candy and wrap for teachers. But my hunt ended when I got the brilliant idea to google what kind of gifts teachers really want to recieve and found out they don't want any more junk. (Who would, right?!! LOL!)

First, let me list for you what the top requests for teacher's gifts - as given by teachers themselves - were for this year: (Any teachers that are reading along please feel free to comment and add to this!)
  • A heartfelt card of how that teacher has helped or inspired your child in a specific way
  • Something the child was involved in creating or wrapping
  • Gift Cards to 1) Starbucks 2) Staples/Nearest Office Supply Store 3) Amazon 4) Barnes & Noble 5) Target
  • School Supplies they use frequently (Yes! They would enjoy a pack of bright colored dry erase markers or a nice pair of scissors!)
  • Books, supplies or equipment for the class room
  • Specialty chocolates, candies, teas, coffees & foods they wouldn't buy for themselves
  • Personalized/custom stationary, note cards, etc. for all the notes they have to write (bonus if they are hand made)
  • ANY kind of home baked items!

What wasn't on the list (and the teachers politely requested "No More Please"):

  • Coffee mugs (get the Starbucks style tumblers & customize the insert instead),
  • Teddy bears, plush toys, etc. unless the teacher specifically collects them
  • Perfumes, lotions & bubble bath (opt for classroom hand sanitizer instead)
  • Expensive, flamboyant gifts (most school districts dissuade teachers from accepting gifts valued at over $50)

So as I was brainstorming it kind of came to me that people want their gift to stand out, which is why the pratical items teachers really want are often not given. I was also remebering how impossibly shy I was as a child and how I hoped the outside of the gift said everything it needed to so I wouldn't have to answer a lot of questions while she was opening it. I also recall being a junior in high school and giving one of my favorite teachers a tin full of a gourmet nut mix (with these divine candied pecans) which she loved snacking on so much, she not only gave me a thank you note before christmas break but she mailed one to my mother as well! Then it occured to me how these ideas could all come together. Give the item the teacher wants or if it is food, opt for something from a gourmet boutique, then spend a little extra time and money with creative wrapping and presentation. Your child will have something beautiful to give the teacher and she'll love that it's not another teddy bear!

To illustrate my point, I have snagged some photos from a popular paper crafting website that show how stunning you can wrap a simple bag of candy:









Any of these would probably send the recipient squeeling with delight to the teacher's lounge! Talk about standing out - imagine how beautiful this style of "scrapped wrapping" would look sitting next to other regular boxes and bags. And why stop at candy? A bundle of white chalk in a clear cellophane bag with a tag would be just as appreciated.

Tay's Teacher Gift "Kits":

Since celophane bags tend to come in packs of 50 (49 more than you need) and it does take a substantial amount of ribbon and scrap supplies to complete this type of wrapping job, I'm offering 'Creative Presentations' this year along with a few completely ready gifts for last minute emergencies. (You wouldn't believe how many calls I get. I'm the emergency gift headquarters! And yes, I gift wrap.)

I'll be offering a few decorative plates with vinyl lettering (intended to display), delicious chocolates and glass candy jars with vinyl lettering, all delightfully wrapped and ready to give for $15 or less. (Including some adorable $3 candy items.)

In addition I'll also have a selection of celophane bags, coordinating ribbons & handmade tags for you to choose from if you'd like to wrap your own. I'll have pictures posted here before December so you can see just how adorable that Office Max gift card or bag of chocolate covered raisins can look!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cheater, Cheater, Cheater!

Oh, the things I have come up with to save time or money and to still have all the little luxuries I want. We got on the topic of Bath & Body Works on our CT Forum and it reminded me that I should share some of my tricks here!

I'm a sucker for home fragrances. I love matching the scent of my house for each season or holiday. I already mentioned the Bath & Body Works Autumn Leaves room spray I'm currently using and my stockpile of The Perfect Christmas - Winter has begun! Here are some tricks to scent your whole house without going broke:

Room Sprays: They're not just for the air! I spritz door wreaths and silk flowers with them to help keep the house smelling delightful throughout the season. These items will hold the fragrance for a couple of days. If you have potpourri or those decorative balls made out of wicker, bark or other natural items, spray them, too. You can also spray a bowl of pinecones, strands of garland, hanging stockings and the christmas tree skirt to keep the whole house smelling magical! (Don't spray your tree if it has christmas lights - the spray is flammable!)

Sneaky Entry Way Trick: Lightly spray the backs of your christmas cards when you recieve them and display them near the front door. This will ensure that at least the entry will smell nice for unexpected visitors! Even better, tuck a bottle of spray behind the cards for "emergency" spritzes. ;)

Home Fragrance Oils: I stock up when Bath & Body Works has them on sale for $5 or less. In addition to using them in a warmer, I add them to the same-scented candles I buy to double the fragrance. It works very well!

Sneaky Votive Trick: Instead of throwing down for scented votives that I may not be able to use up, I make my own scented ones when I need them. Partially burn a regular, unscented votive and then dump out most of the melted wax. Place the votive in it's holder and immediately fill the now-empty center with home fragrance oil and re-light. Scatter throughout the house as you normally would. Add oil as needed while burning to maintain the fragrance. Use cinnamon oil in a tea light and place it inside Jack-O-Lanterns at your halloween party for a nice, pumpkin spice scent. Your friends will wonder why your cheap votives smell so good!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Kind of Jack-O-Lantern are You?

How funny is this. An online quiz actually got something right! It just so happens I am going to be a pirate for halloween! LOL!


What Your Jack-o-Lantern Says

You are a gleeful, exuberant person.
You enjoy a good party, and you even enjoy a good brawl.

This Halloween, there is no question what you should be... a pirate!
The candy you should give out: peanut butter cups

Ugh. I am not a peanut butter cup fan. We're handing out KitKats and little toy prizes. ;)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Goodbye Parmesan!

You'd never guess by the contents of my fridge but I am quite partial to gourmet cheeses. Gouda is my absolute favorite! And, despite how many packs of string cheese are in the crisper drawer right now, I have pretty good taste. Here's my newest find:



I was at the store two weeks ago, rushing to get my impatient, howling child one of the crossiont samples, when I passed by a new cheese display full of beautiful, crumble-textured wedges. The smell of the hard cheese was divine - something similar to parmesan - but this was much heavier in fragrance. I tried one of the samples and was blown away by the robust flavor. It was much better than any brand of parmesan I'd ever had. I flipped one of the wedges over to search for the name: Grana Padano. The $13.99 lb price barely swayed me but the thought of cooking a full italian dinner over the stove in the 88° heat left me pouting. I resolved to come back for it soon.

A cold front hit last night and when my dinner plans suddenly included a few more people, I added it to the grocery list. Just my luck, it was on sale this week! My Tomato & Grana chicken is in the oven with french bread waiting to be garneshed and toasted. It smells delicious! If your local store has it, you simply must try it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thank You. A Million Times Over!

Not all random acts of kindness should go unsung. And I owe someone (she knows who she is) a very big thank you. I'm in awe of her talents and so deeply appreciative of her generosity. You'll notice a difference but I must confess that it is her magic I have learned from - the credit isn't mine. Lots of love to those who live with me in a world of dreamy vibrance and work to re-create it's scenes for the enjoyment of all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

They're DONE! Holiday Card Samples Ready Now!

Oh my goodness, I can't believe all fifteen new designs are finally done and up online! I actually have a few more styles not shown but those will follow shortly. Without further delay, here they are!



There are several different styles that fall into two categories: Whimsical & Elegant. All are 100% unique and certain to stand out among the crowd! Prices are listed on the site at the bottom. In case you were wondering, here are a few of my favorites:









Great Big Special Thank Yous To:

Miss Mint: For commercial use of her Bracket Mat Custom Shapes (special license required)
Kelsey Call Photography: For supplying tons of stunning photos to dress up my example cards!

My CT Members, Family & Friends: For letting me use their beautiful faces alongside names that aren't even theirs! (All names are ficticious.)


Other Fun Stuff: I'm throwing in free blemish removal on your holiday photo with a card purchase and have listed significantly reduced photo touch-up prices. (This is simply because the final photo will be small, making my work easier than the usual canvas-sized photo edits I do.)

I'm also encouraging clients to use fun photos and unique holiday wording. Your recipients KNOW you wish them a Merry Christmas before they even open the envelope. Why not make them roar with laughter with an unexpected phrase instead? Your card is sure to be the one passed around the office, shown to all the neighbors and placed prominently on display!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Brunch Recipe

As requested, here's the recipe for the bread loaf I brought to the Yak n Sak brunch today. It is based on the "Cranberry Cobblestone Bread" recipe from a Pampered Chef cook book but of course, I figured out a way to cheat. ;) Sorry, I forgot to take a picture before it was eaten...

Tay's Totally Cheating Cinnamon Raisin Cobblestone Bread

Prep Time: 45 minutes • Baking Time: 30-45 minutes

2 cans of refrigerated cinnamon rolls (8 count) with icing packets
4 tablespoons melted butter or something resembling butter
1/4 cup raisins
Cinnamon & sugar for sprinkling

Spray any size bread loaf pan with cooking spray. Unwrap the cinnamon rolls, remove one and set the remainder on a plate for the time being. Unroll the cinnamon roll and cut the dough into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch long chunks using clean kitchen scissors. Repeat for the rest of the can, until the bottom of your bread loaf pan is covered in dough chunks. Using a table spoon, dribble half of the melted butter over the dough pieces and evenly distribute half of the raisins over the top of both. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. (About 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar.) Repeat cutting up the next can of cinnamon rolls and then sprinkling the top of the loaf with the remaining butter, raisins, cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 375° for 30-45 minutes total, tenting foil over the loaf during the last 20 minutes to prevent the edges from over-browning. Cool the loaf before removing it from the pan. Clip the corner off the first icing packet and drizzle it's contents running in one direction (horizontally or at an angle running from left to right) and then repeat with the second frosting packet, running the drizzle the opposite direction to create a cross-hatched icing pattern. Serve warm.

This was a very pretty brunch item that has a great presentation but is messy to serve. If you'd like to serve the bread in slices, which looks more elegant, cut your cinnamon roll dough into larger 1 to 2 inch long chunks and try to lay them more uniformly in the pan, as opposed to piling them randomly as this recipe calls for.

For Gift Giving: After icing the top, let the loaf sit for one to two hours until the icing becomes set and then wrap in clear plastic and deliver.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quick Update

When it rains a little it pours. At least a little. Aiden got sick the day before Super Saturday but it was kind of a blessing in disguise. None of the dramatic early-morning phone calls got me worried because I was rushing all over town trying to get him to the pediatrician and pick up his perscriptions, on top of last-minute Hobby Lobby runs. He had a yeast diaper rash from the 3 week 'yuhgut' food jag he was on with a little common cold that struck right behind it. I cut the yogurt from his diet on Wednesday as soon as I suspected a yeast rash and the perscription has worked wonders in just 3 days. He should be feeling better and back to sneaking the tiny Dannon kids drinkable yogurts from the fridge by tomorrow!

The craft day went well. We blew a couple fuses with our power tools (read: hair dryers & electric sanders) but I think everyone had a good time. I'm not going to be in charge of it next year. It about killed be to be surrounded by all the paint and spray glitter and not create anything myself! Instead I'll teach a craft next year and console the other poor soul who has her entire summer hijacked by the event. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. It's just that I'm that bad when I'm put in charge. I can't handle my own anality! LOL!

The rest of my week should be filled with some halloween fun and lots of baking. I'm continuing the tradition of making caramel apples and kettle corn this year plus we'll probably throw in a batch of orange, black & purple sprinkled sugar cookies too. Of course there's a pumpkin to carve, candy to buy and costumes to try on! Should be exciting!

Today Brian and I talked about Christmas plans. Unlike the last FIVE years, I have not begun my serious holiday shopping. I have, um, three gifts bought and none of them wrapped. And this year I just don't care! I'll get it done, but I have wasted all my energy freaking out over super saturday so Brian should have a pretty stress-free holiday! LOL!

I'm expecting Halloween kits from my designers soon. I'll post pictures if I do anything creative!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Christmas Already?

So Kelsey calls me this week. She's booked with family shoots and her clients want to see holiday card samples now. Lucky for her I'm the digi card QUEEN! But this year I'm tired of the same-old stuff. Everyone knows how to scrap so you can make your own. Or, if you just don't want to mess with it, I'm offering designs again this year. Here's a sneak peek at the 100% new cards I'm creating from scratch: (5x7 size shown in the screen shot)



This is not a template. You can't buy it anywhere. I made the ornament shapes and everything in Photoshop. The hot pink ball can hold a Monogram or your holiday greeting.

This card was inspired by the mini fruit punch candy canes I bought last year:



This next card took a while. I made the dots and then delicately lined them all up to make a cute polka dot pattern. Brings back memories of candy sprinkles on sugar cookies, doesn't it?!!



As you can tell everything is bright, vibrant & whimsical this year! I like cards that stand out and say "Look at me! I was sent by a very trendy gal!" I want to print cards that are the crowning jewel to every card display, tucked prominently above others on ribbon boards and perched center-stage on the mantle. It helps that I'm teamed up with a stunning photographer and the cards always sport a gorgeous picture!

Eventually I'll post a link with all of the card samples shown. Sorry, but I'm keeping some of the best ones hidden for now! I just started working on more blue designs this morning so there will be something for everyone. ;)

Just A Reminder: Holiday cards need to be mailed the first week in December to arrive before Christmas. Can you believe it's only seven weeks away? Yikes!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Talented Friends

Okay, if you think I make cute things, check out my friend (and fellow CT) Megan's blog header - it is soooooo fun and eye catching!

A Little Bit Scrappy

It uses Miss Mint's Patchwork Princess papers & elements and the new Mini Bulldog Clips I haven't played around with yet. (Shame on me!) I'm feeling a scraplift (bloglift?) coming on!!!! Megan, I love it. It's adorable! All of it!

Okay, as if she wasn't creative enough, she blew me out of the water with this precious halloween haunted house hybrid: (say that 3 times fast!)

Megan's Haunted House





Pick me up off the floor! This is too stinkin' cute! I simply MUST make one!!!

I love my fellow hybriders! :D

Aiden Pics & Stories

Lately if the camera comes out it's during nap time so I can take photos of my projects. Sadly I didn't realize it had been TWO WEEKS since I got some shots of Aiden. I know you all want to see some pictures and hear some funny Aiden stories. The kid is one wild child, isn't he?



Can you just hear the "ah-ah-ah!" as he jumps on the couch? (Might I add that he doesn't hold still long enough for my little camera to focus and shoot. I have to take him to Kelsey if I want anything not blurred these days. I sooooo need to get a Canon Rebel. That's all there is to it. Otherwise I simply won't have clear pictures of my child. Sad!)

Next: Jumping on the couch actually shown:



In his hand is one of my little metal Eiffel Tower sculptures Sheena brought back from Paris years ago. I have a large & small one and he loves them both. I think he's the only 18 month old that can correctly identify and say 'Eiffel Tower', no matter where he sees it. Mostly at Hobby Lobby....this typically interrups him shouting 'Fwower!' (flower) to shout 'Efffe Towur'. You should see how the older women stare at us. LOL!



Sitting on his octopus chair still talking about the Efffe Towur....



Now he's up on one of the kitchen chairs (this is about 16 seconds after the last photo), pausing to look at me when I ask him if he is supposed to be up there. He was a late climber (thank goodness) but now he climbs on everything. I don't even try to stop him. I just pluck him off of whatever he's managed to scale and get stuck on when he calls for help. (read: screams incoherently)



This pic I took earlier this morning, when he ran away from me and refused to get dressed. I don't even protest any more. He's gotten into these drinkable yogurts lately and although I put a straw in them, he still manages to dump some of it down his chest. It's easier to leave him undressed for breakfast. And most of the morning. And the afternoon.....heck, I've dramatically cut down on his laundry by only dressing him for half the day!

Aiden Story: Aiden loves being outside in our front yard, where I have lots of lantana and flowering society garlic planted. He always loved poking at the little blooms (and the wasps and bees) so it was natural that "flower" was a word he quickly added to his small vocabulary several months back. Fast forward to now and he's a flower fanatic. He LOVES that he sees them and can identify them everywhere. He's fascinated by how they grow outside but can also be found inside at craft stores, grocery stores and on girl's head bands at church. The floral department at Hobby Lobby is enough to hyperventilate him with repeating 'fwower', as if every tiny bloom must be aknowledged. He's got that big orange silk gerber daisy we bought last week that he plays with - or hits the dog with - every day. (He especially likes to bring me flowers to smell and then have me swoon over my little Romeo and smother him in kisses! LOL!) Well, as you can imagine, a little boy going nuts over flowers is bound to raise some old-fashioned eyebrows. Yesterday at the grocery store, while we were standing in line to check out, he saw a heaping table of fresh cut sunflowers and went nuts. The lady at the register followed his line of sight and commented "I've never seen a boy like flowers so much", as if she thought I needed some prompting to get his behavior (or preferences?) in check. I laughed and said "He loves them. He has a couple fake ones at home that he always brings me to smell. His wife will be very lucky." She actually smiled back, considering my new point and said "Flowers all the time. That would be nice, wouldn't it!"

I am completely enjoying the moment because I know it will soon be followed by "Kerpow! Kerpow! I shot you! You're dead!" and other little boy shoutings at strangers in the middle of the grocery store aisle. I'll take the unsure glances from other people now because I know that if I ever discourage his interests in any way, the world will loose a future landscape architect, botanist or biotechnologist. I'd rather see a stranger stare at me now than see my son unhappily pushing paper in the rat race his entire adult life. Let the boy poke at flowers!

Brian & Aiden Story: Aiden is himself 24/7 and at 18 months mother nature has ensured that I will have to pick my battles or constantly live at war. I'm perfectly fine with picking my battles but I find it humorous how the house changes on the weekend when Brian is home. Bri is NOT okay with picking his battles. He thinks I'm lax and that Aiden lacks discipline. Every Saturday and Sunday, at sometime during the day the boys will engage in what I have mentally been calling "Stubborn vs. Mother Nature". Aiden will crawl on top of his little Ikea table, Brian will take him down and tell him 'no'. Aiden instantly climbs back up. Brian sets him back down and says 'no' again. Repeat eight or nine more times. I am trying not to smile (or intervene) but I'm afraid Brian's stubborness has met it's match. Eventually Brian will either give up or decide it's close enough to nap time for Aiden to go to his crib. Every once in a while Brian will see Aiden's mild misbehavior for what it is (a request for attention and an invitation to play) and will end the table conflict with a round of airplane through the house.

Honestly, Aiden climbs up on his table five times a day and then climbs safely back down on his own, after poking at the phone or other harmless items on the counter. It's not a big deal to me. It's not a battle I choose to fight right now. Some day soon he'll be forming sentences more clearly and be past his frustration at not being able to communicate and he will listen better. He'll understand all my words and will begin to trust that I'm saving him from harm and injury, not ruining all his exploration fun. But when I'm busy at the sink or the stove and I request that he entertain himself without me providing an activity, a sibling or a playmate, I think it's fine to do a little table climbing. Because really, breaking the rules is about getting attention. Attention a parent cannot always give immediately or positively. Ignoring the rule breaking and rewarding the appropriate ways of asking for attention is discipline. So what if the kids table has a few footprints on it along the way. ;)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Winners & Trivia Answer

Well, since most people use blog readers and didn't make it to my blog to comment, I only had 4 posts so guess what! ALL FOUR WIN! I'll get with everyone to see what they want and Megan I'll be mailing yours - but give me until after Super Saturday this weekend so I can finally think clearly!

Trivia Answer: TRUE

It is true. My fifth grade year was the last year I celebrated Halloween because my mom decided it was too "pagan" to participate in. My siblings and I were very disappointed, especially my younger sister who was in the third grade and missed every halloween thereafter.

My freshman year of college I met Brian at a Halloween party and the holiday took on new meaning. Now I do halloween up big for several reasons, one being the fact it's the first holiday you get to decorate for in the fall and the fact that Bri & I met at halloween. Of course years of missing out on it influence my decision to include lots of enjoyable family traditions, too!

I personally think that halloween can get too carried away with blood and gore but I'm the mom and I say what happens in my home. We celebrate the family time, the dress-up fun and all the sweet treats. As for my mother's decision years ago, I always thought a better approach would have been to forbid the gory items and encourage the harmless, fun ones instead of an all-or-none approach. Moderation always seems to be the best answer doesn't it?!! Despite the family time and memories my parents completely missed out on - not to mention the pictures - I learned a great lesson about communication. Even a third grader can understand your fears and concerns and be open to a conversation about restrictions if a parent will simply communicate.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Scrap Tip

Oops! I forgot to mention one of my scrap tips is up on Miss Mint's blog today: Creative Nonsense. I used the trick on this layout and thought it would be a good one to share. Enjoy!

P.S. If you haven't noticed, Miss Mint is posting every day now so add it to your blog list - you'll pick up a ton of new tricks and ideas. Of course the first kit sneak peeks are on the blog and you won't want to miss those! ;)

Remind Me Next Year...

That fall is a very busy time for me so I shouldn't over-commit myself, no matter how open the my schedule looks in May! I love scrapping. I love crafts. I love Halloween. And I'm not missing out on any of it! (Just sleep....) LOL! Here's a little eye candy of what I've finished in the last 48 hours:











Most of it is Jen Wilson's Whoo's Halloween Papers and Halloween Holiday Collection Accessories. Of course a bit of Miss Mint's Witches Brew Papers & Elements are in there, too!
Both designers should have new Halloween items out in the next 2 weeks so save your pennies!

FREEBIES!
As you can imagine I have a few more Halloween cards than I need! Local friends are welcome to come pick out a completely free handmade card. Honestly, please do. If you can read this, you can have a card. Otherwise they'll just sit, collect dust and then I'll have to try and give them away again next year. Get 'em while they're fresh!

Trivia: TRUE OR FALSE?

Tay did not celebrate Halloween after her fifth grade year (1991) until her first Halloween as a homeowner in 2001.

Leave your answer in the comment section and I'll use a random number generator to select a winner, who will get a FREE prize of their choice: earrings, halloween shelf sitter or a handmade card set! Winner will be chosen on Sunday 10/12 so hurry & post your guess! (To be fair I should add that the earrings & shelf sitters were already made for a craft fair for this weekend and I'm anticipating leftovers. Once I have the extras back and the winner has selected her prize, everyone is welcome to come buy the rest at clearance prices!)