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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This Month's Best Purchase

I am learning to get along with my vinyl cutter but it's not this month's best purchase. That honor goes to the black Sharpie mini I picked up at Office Depot. I keep it in a pocket of my purse (not on my keys, Aiden plays with them too much) and I can't believe how many times I have reached for it. I have quickly labeled Aiden's toys, sunblock spray cans, the bottoms of sippy cups and a number of other items in the three short weeks I've had it. Seriously, it's the best 99¢ I have spent in a long time! I wish I could have bought one sooner. (I would have, but everyone has been sold out of the black ones. Office Depot was the first place I'd seen them in nearly 6 months.) This and the Benadryl Stick are my two mommy must-haves!

Add this to your Hurricane Kit

I got an e-mail from Brian's aunt Carol last Sunday telling the family about the terrible flooding in Cedar Rapids where she lives. She said she had hand-crank flashlights, a hand-crank radio and 72 hour emergency kits packed for her family. Unfortunately she said she still found herself going to the store and competing with other shoppers for fast-dwindling supplies of food & toiletries. After experiencing clean water shortages and water rationing (read: few showers) and electricity that was out for an extended period of time, she has suggested adding the following items to our Hurricane/Emergency kits:

Disposable plates, bowls, napkins, utensils and cups
Liquid hand sanitizer
Baby wipes for "bathing" when water is not available
Increased water storage

I spent an extra $5.28 on Friday to add styrafoam plates, bowls and two boxes of 99¢ plastic utensils to our Hurricane kits. I have also been slowly creating a small stockpile of batteries. HEB has a large pegboard wall of coupons in their store over by the floral department. I have noticed they frequently have Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons for either Energizer or Duracell batteries. I will admit that several times my "emergency" batteries have been used in Aiden's toys (because his epic afternoon melt-downs feel like an emergency) but slowly my collection of batteries is growing from their free offers. HEB is also doing a buy-one-get-one free on Bic grill lighters right now. We use them all the time and it felt good to put a brand new one away with the disposable utensils so I know I'll always have a fresh lighter on-hand should we ever be in a situation where the grill is our only way to cook food.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's HERE!!!

Jen's new kit lauched last night! It's called "Cowabunga" and it's the first of the Summer Day Trip kits that will release every Thursday. Click to view the images close-up, these are some really fun supplies!

And the papers:

Here is a hybrid I finished two months ago using the wave stamp. This was before Jen's computer crash. She had e-mailed me the wave stamp and I was able to send it back once her computer had been fixed. (The rest of the kit, minus that one wave paper, was lost and had to be re-made.) I really like how Jen's stuff looks in Aiden's room! She has a messy style that is perfect for boys!

Here is a layout I did last night before I went to bed. Photoshop kept giving me a program error when I tried to save it as a PSD. I could save it as a JPG for the web but not as a PSD. I'm afraid if I close photoshop I'll loose the whole page.

I have been hunting for 6-8 months for a good surf kit. I've had Aiden's birthday pics sitting since March, just waiting. I am soooooo excited to have this kit!

Did you see that Jen also has new photoshop actions? $1.50 is DIRT CHEAP for actions, especially 6 of them that add really cool color tints to your images! Jen's actions leave the layers unmerged so you have a lot of freedom to adjust the levels as you see fit to give your image a gorgeous look. Her Lightroom Presets are stunning, too! I've been bugging her for the steps she went through to get those vibrant blues in her son's photo. I was sooooooo happy when she packaged it all up for us!

There was a chat last night and anyone who participated got their choice of the actions or lightroom presets for free. (Two ten dollar gift cards and one twenty dollar gift card were given away, too!) There will probably be another chat next Thursday when the "Flip & Flirty" girl's beach line releases so if you're free, come have fun and maybe win something awesome!

I'm sending a $2 gift card to the first 3 digi scrappers to leave a comment! (If you don't digi but want the GC to buy Jen's actions, please say so!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Peach Cobbler Recipe

Tay's You're-Such-A-Cheater Peach Cobbler

1 box of yellow cake mix
some butter (5-6 tablespoons)
1 bag of frozen peaches

Open the bag of frozen peaches and dump them into a small glass baking dish. Yes, still frozen. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or anything resembling butter in a bowl in the microwave. Pour the melted butter over the frozen peaches. Now open the box of yellow cake mix and dump it in a mixing bowl. Using a fork, cut in 3-4 tablespoons of cold butter (and NO other ingredients) until the mixture has a moist, crumbly consistency that is similar to wet sand. Dump the cake mix over the frozen peaches, using the back of the fork to spread it out as evenly as you can along the top. The cake will fill in around the peaches going nearly to the bottom. Don't worry, this makes your cobbler taste better. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to an hour or until the cake on top resembles regular baked cake and the edges have begun to turn golden and crisp, like a cookie. The cake in the middle of the cobbler, that you can see through the glass pan, should no longer look like frothy dough but should appear moist and cooked. Remove and cool for 45 minutes. (The peaches are scalding hot - do not EVER feed to children fresh from the oven!) Serve with Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream to knock the socks off everyone. Refuse to give out the recipe.

Handle with caution: This recipe will win any cobbler contest you enter it in. Fellow contestants will hate you, especially if they find out it's from a box. Just tell them you're a native texan and leave it at that. (It's peach cobbler. That's really the only explanation you need to give any ways.) Best served to the man you want to marry. Or the man you are married to when he's really, really mad at you. Or at the end of the day in a sparkling clean house to ensure you'll be able to participate in the Jen Wilson chat and scrap all night without interruption!

Just Stuff

There is a chat on Jen Wilson's website tonight at 9 pm EST (that's 8 pm Central Time) for her new line release. I'm excited to see it! We never did get our hands on it early so I'm sorry I don't have any sneak peeks. I have seen the product previews for the beach/surf kit and it's amazing. If you have boys, you won't want to miss this pack. The girl's beach/pool pack is coming out next. I'm not sure if she's releasing everything tonight or one line at a time, since they are supposed to be "day trips". We'll see! BTW, she usually has little contests and gives things away during chats. ;)

I actually cut my first 15 inch long project on the vinyl machine. It went fine but I noticed my machine does not cut the lines on straight fonts, like Times or Arial, very straight. They all end up looking like a handwriting font because of the slightly jagged lines. It's something to note - I'll just use mostly handwriting-style fonts so it's not as noticeable. This vinyl I actually put on a canvas I bought at Hobby Lobby and painted. The matte vinyl was more difficult than I expected to apply to canvas. It eventually went on with lots of burninshing (rubbing) but putting it on the wall, plates, chalk boards, tiles, etc. is much easier. I put Aiden's name in white on the chalkboard part of a bin in his room. It was super fast and looks very cute!

For the Grandmas: It's amazing what different children learn first. While Brian was holding Aiden this morning, he pointed to the lights on the ceiling fan in our bedroom, which were turned off, and mumbled "broken". We laughed and Brian turned it on to show him it worked. I was impressed because previously, he's only been told that toys are broken (read: out of batteries). The number of words he is beginning to understand is amazing.

Then there's the fact that Aiden STILL has not figured out how to ride on any of his three ride-on toys. He pushes them from behind, or in the case of the trike, stands awkwardly off to the side to push. He'll sit on them and let us push him on the toy but he hasn't gotten the idea that he can use his own legs to power the ride-on. Our whole house is tile, he would have a blast riding around on it all day! We'll have to get one of his friends to show him how.

I pulled out the big trunk of dress ups last week when he had a friend over to play. Aiden has never really liked hats but he's been slightly more willing to keep some of the pirate hats on. Almost everything is boy-oriented. There are two pirate sets, two batman capes, one vampire cape, a coon skin cap, cowboy hats, a red devil halloween costume, some santa & elf hats, a ninja set, accessories for everything and weapons for all. (Because what's a pirate without his sword?) There is one silver princess tiara with light purple marabou feather glitter trim and a matching silver star & purple streamer magic wand that I bought for the dress ups, just in case there were girls over to play who didn't want to be a cowboy or ninja. Well, what has been the item du jour this week? The magic wand! Even more hilarious than Aiden walking around with this shimmering princess wand is the fact he genuinely seems to dislike the purple tinsel hanging off of it. He's busied himself removing most of it by hand and by the end of each day, I find these purple bits all over the house. Once the streamers are gone it will just be a plain silver wand with a star on top, perfect for any wizard. We can pair it with the vampire cape and maybe I can run down a wizard hat on Etsy. Oooh! I have all that felt, maybe I could make him one!

Which reminds me, I have a whole list of things I want to learn to make for him. Like a BBQ apron, tool belt, satin superhero cape... I love having a sewing machine! Now if only I could sew a bit better.....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Aiden the Teenager

I know kids have growth spurts. I just have forgotten - or was never really aware - of how suddenly they come on and how hungry it makes them!

I HAD been hitting some awesome sales at the Children's Place, buying Aiden's current size in shorts: 18 months. We were at the library 3 or 4 weeks ago when I heard Aiden cry and looked up to see him standing with his shorts around his ankles. They had been a little loose that morning when I got him dressed but I was surprised they were falling off. Those shorts were 12 months, although I have to admit that style ran a little large. At Gymboree he had been wearing 18-24 month shorts and I was thrilled to find a few pairs on deep clearance. They fall off now, too. I've gone back to some of the 12 month shorts I put away a few weeks ago because they were getting too small. Now they fit.

Two weeks ago he started waking up in the mornings slightly earlier than usual with his once-protruding belly now completely flat and signing for food as soon as I walked in his room. I would have to rig some way to keep his size 4 diapers on because his waist had become so narrow overnight. By noon everything fit again but he's been eating an amazing amountof food! It's been within the last few days that I have realized I need to cook for 4 adults if I want Brian to have leftovers to take to work for lunch. Aiden will eat half or more of an adult serving at dinner (which is actually his second dinner of the day: one at 5 and with us at 6:30) and the other half I like to save so I have something quick to heat up the next day when he's again signing for food.

This morning has been even more amazing. Again, he was up early, signing for food and he has been eating off & on since he woke up. He's had 2 muffins, 3 strawberries, 1 egg, 2 slices of bacon, a handful of dry cereal, half a packet of oatmeal, a handful of raisins, 8 ounces of milk and he's working on a sippy cup of watered down apple juice. I don't know if I should worry about him or my grocery budget!

He just turned 15 months and just passed 32.5 inches tall. (And despite all this eating, the doctor's scale hasn't budged from 24.6 pounds. He weighed the same at his one year visit for shots.) I really appreciate Their Growth-Percentile Calculator has been a life saver and made me realize I don't need to worry about feeding him bacon and eggs. He really needs the fat and protein!

Oh, speaking of shots, I have a little Aiden story! Yesterday I had a doctor appointment and I took Aiden with me. He got a steroid shot for his croup at the doctor last week and I noticed he seems to remeber such events for a very long time now. I thought it might be good for him to go to a doctor's office and not have anything bad happen. Good idea, but Aiden wasn't playing along. He had a grand time flirting with all the women in the waiting room but burst into tears as soon as my nurse led us back to the examination room. He continued to pitch a fit the whole time she took my vitals and I had to hold him, still fussing, while she got my pulse. She left and he calmed down. She came back in once and he started up again. Then the doctor came in and yet again, Aiden started crying, anticipating a shot. The doctor left and the nurse brought my final paperwork in, which resulted in one last melt-down from Aiden. We left - neither one of us getting shots - but I'm certain the entire experience was more traumatic for Aiden than actually getting a shot!

His day wasn't all bad. I took him in to Kapok Tree Toys, a little family-owned toy boutique across the street from the doctor's office in Kingwood. I haven't been in since I had Aiden and I was impressed they only carried toys that encouraged creative or discovery-type play. They're a little pricey but I appreciate what they offer and will shop there again. I stopped in because I have been hunting for a cage bell just like the ones the library has. Aiden loves them, he always finds one to play with and it's nearly impossible to get him to put it away when they call for clean-up. He doesn't understand why I suddenly pry the thing from his hands and he always cries. Luckily Kapok had two left and for less than I would have paid on Amazon after shipping. He was thrilled with the little orange & lime green bell but was distracted by another toy. He found the Alex floating car wash set and spent quite a while turning all the cranks and touching the brushes. I resisted the impulse to buy it for him (he was already getting the bell) and I figured it would be a fun thing to add to his christmas list. I think it was more difficult for me to walk away without it but I know that the less over-indulgent I am now, the easier grocery store checkout lines will be in the future! LOL!

OH! There is one little purchase I didn't pass up on. I found this wooden toy gun on etsy and bought it for Aiden's cowboy play set. I know how some people feel about guns - my mother was one of those absolutely against it - but I have a brother who was never allowed to play with them and is now obsessed with owning guns. (He has recently aquired his THIRD AR-15.) It seems boys will turn anything into a gun and when the toys are forbidden, they turn to shoot-em-up video games. I prefer this wooden silhouette, that would never be mistaken for a real gun, but is an heirloom-quality toy that will be the envy of all our grandsons, I'm sure!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Where have you been, Tay?

Well let me tell you! Last week Aiden had croup and after two sleepless nights, I about sank to my knees when the pediatrician told us the virus would run it's course in about a week an a half. Sure enough he was right. Aiden has a constant runny nose and the crabby temper that comes with any cold. And a molar that FINALLY popped through. I'm hoping it's all over by Friday...

Then I have been playing with my vinyl cutter. I would like to edit my previous posts to add that despite the price tag of this machine, it is most definately a personal CRAFT cutter. What I should have said is that I bought a WOOD BOARD vinyl lettering machine. I have yet to successfully cut anything longer than 12 inches. No lie - 12 inches. The machine has chewed up half of the white vinyl I ordered and punched through the backing and began cutting itself on the other half of the small jobs I gave it. So if anyone needs an assortment of 1 inch tall random letters that may or may not be slightly mangled, I'm your gal.

Needless to say this thing has a bit of a learning curve. It needs a ton of work room and is loud enough to wake the dead. It sounds like a fax machine paper jam at a saw mill - and that's when it's cutting properly. (As opposed to cutting itself. I'm certain I have the only EMO vinyl lettering machine on the market....) As soon as this brat machine and I learn to play nice (read: do things my way) I'll post some examples. And I am NOT shipping!!! Weeding takes more patience than I have exerted in my life and I actually paid for good quality supplies and several specialty tools.

If you absolutely cannot wait and hate that my machine cuts so small, here is a link to by far the cheapest vinyl lettering online: (She's MUCH cheaper than I will be.)

I've never seen prices so reasonable. You can buy kits from her to make message boards, too.

Okay, next. Jen Wilson has a huge, brand new line coming out on the 26th! Check out the sneak peek HERE. I've seen some of the papers and they are incredible! There are TONS of things that will be perfect for hybrid projects in kid's rooms. Good thing Hobby Lobby has unfinshed craft wood on sale this week! Ribbon and Exacto craft knives are on sale for 50% off, too. Did you notice you COULD win the whole line if you e-mail Jen a summer-themed picture? She uses a random number generator to pick the winner so it's NOT a photo competition. That 30 second e-mail could land you a $50 set of digi supplies!

To keep my utterly random blog post going, I should probably fill you guys in on some jewelry news. The price of sterling silver has gone very, very high. It's a commodity, like gold, and it's become surprisingly expensive to buy. Since I refuse to use anything besides sterling, the cost of my jewelry has increased. Yes, even for friends. The days of $5 baby bracelets are gone until silver comes back down. I'll fill existing orders placed before today but my sterling re-stock shipment is on it's way and will be used to fill future orders at a higher price. Binky clips are discontinued. I've used up the last of my clips and am not purchasing more because I HATE making them!!! Custom earrings are my favorite to make so they'll still be available, as will baby bracelets. They'll just cost a bit more. ;)

Last thing: We have been making this caramel kettle corn and it's absolutely delicious! It's not that barely-sweet crap the microwave popcorn industry has been trying to pass off as kettle corn. This is like caramel crunch & munch!

Way Too Easy Caramel Kettle Corn

You will need:

Your largest mixing bowl
Large spatula
Non-stick cooking spray
Medium saucepan
1 bag of kettle corn microwave popcorn
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of butter (or anything resembling butter)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of water
1 cup of brown sugar

Directions: Pull out your biggest mixing bowl and spray your largest spatula with cooking spray on both sides. Use a paper towel to wipe away excess spray so you don't soak the popcorn. In a medium saucepan on high heat, melt the butter. While the butter is melting, start the microwave popcorn. Once the butter is completely melted, add the water and then add the brown sugar. Stir with the spatula until the mixture is boiling. Continue stirring every 15-30 seconds as you let it boil for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, working as fast as you can, open the bag of popped microwave popcorn and pour it into a bowl, being careful to weed out any unpopped kernels. (It's easiest to try and leave them in the bag as you gently scoop the popped kernels out by hand.) Keep an eye on your sugar mixture, it cannot boil longer than 3 and a half minutes TOTAL. Once the popcorn is ready, immediately pour the boiling sugar mixture over it. Quickly use your spatula to turn and coat all the popcorn. Continue tossing and coating for 5 minutes until the popcorn begins to cool and harden. It should resemble lightly-coated crunch & munch when it is ready to eat. If it is still warm and chewy, let it cool further. Eat immediately.