Monday, December 29, 2008

Bald Eagles

Miss A and I were perplexed as to why the neighbors were stopped at the end of our road until "Old Bill" got out and pointed to the sky. A bald eagle was soaring over the lake! He said the neighbor across the street wasn't home and to pull to the bottom of her drive, so we did. We watched him soar until he was out of sight and then noticed another perched on a dead tree across the lake. They were incredibly beautiful. Ms. Pat got her gun so we could look at it (her?) through her scope. I'm not sure DNR would have believed us, but that's honestly what we were doing.

I didn't bother trying to take a picture with my camera phone, but the pair was certainly a sight to behold. We haven't seen a bald eagle here in several years, and Old Bill thinks it's been at least a year since he's seen one. What majesty to grace our lake!

Tutorial: Photo Wallet

This project is so much fun to make! Don't let the number of steps intimidate you; it really isn't hard. (I did find that making a sample first helped me stamp the images where I wanted them so that they unfolded correctly.) Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

(I used the new Key To My Heart stamp set and paper pack, available Dec. 16, 2008 - Jan. 31, 2009.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

We wish you and yours the very merriest of Christmases this year!

Our day dawned about 7:20 to joyous cries of "Santa came! Santa came!" (I think there was some doubt in our house as to whether he would stop here!)

The girls were thrilled with EVERYTHING! The big present Santa left was actually small in size: they each got a Nintendo DS, a game, and a few accessories. He also brought them each an outfit, some fun school/art supplies, and the traditional toothbrush and toothpaste. Macey screamed over the dental floss because it was bubble gum flavor! What joy this morning!!!! Another great surprise was tickets to see the Nutcracker this weekend at the Fox!

The rest of the family started arriving around 9:00 for my annual brunch. All that hard work last night paid off in a delicious and relaxing breakfast. (Amy and her crew were the only ones missing as they have brunch at Nana's. We hope to go by later to see what Santa left for her little angels.) I forgot to take pictures, but Grammie, Grumps, Uncle Brian, Uncle Reid, BJ, JC, and Linda (JC's daughter) all stopped by.

After the crowd left, we opened our family gifts. Macey got the "Motorcycle Guy" she's been wanting, though hers is a remote control four-wheeler. Ansley got the holiday Barbie on her list, I got a new camera (yeah!), and Logan got a new warm vest. (His favorite present is the photo mug we made him with our favorite pictures of this year!)

We spend the afternoon relaxing (AKA napping) before heading to Uncle Reid's for dinner and Christmas with Logan's family. We had a delicious feast there including Reid's homemade eggnog and peanut butter pie. The girls loved all their presents, especially the new books and Macey's (magnetic) dartboard.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Traditions

Last night's Christmas pageant was the best ever! Here you see my darling "Mary," my other darling the graceful angel, and their inkeeper friend (AKA BFF- on loan from the Catholic church). Seeing my children perform at the 5:00 service is a tradition that I look forward to each year. They were outstanding last night. There's something about the pageantry, the ceremony, the traditional carols, that never fails to move me. It is refreshing and uplifting to spend time remembering the true reason for the season.

After the service, we all head to Grammie & Grumps' for our traditional Christmas Eve fun. As children, we would get to open one present from under our tree on the 21st, our Mom's birthday. Then each night after that, we would get to choose another present to open. Never have packages been studied more scrupulously to decide which present would be next! The great thing too was that chosen present was literally the "present du jour" and was loved with all our hearts for at least those 24 hours until the next present was opened. On Christmas Eve, we opened everything else under the tree. Oh what fun! Last night was so special with two little boys who loved EVERYTHING! Seeing Christmas again through the eyes of very little ones was indeed magical. Watching my girls spend time with their little cousins, helping them with their new toys, was a delightful sight. I'm not sure who had more fun!

When we got back to our house, it was time to get ready for Santa. The girls put out the requisite cookies and milk (we baked and decorated before church), though this year we put them on the mantle instead of the coffee table to be sure Santa got them instead of Shadow! This is the one night of the year they go to bed without complaint!

Again following tradition, I spent a few hours in the kitchen preparing for my annual Christmas Day brunch. I wanted to go to the 11:00 service to ring in Christmas but wasn't finished in the kitchen on time. I got into bed amid DH's snores with visions of sugar plums (and French toast casserole) dancing in my head...

What are you favorite holiday traditions?

Quote of the Week

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy birthday, Grammie!

Today is my beautiful mother's birthday! We wish her the very best today and always. We have festivities planned for the evening, complete with cake.

You can leave her a birthday wish in the comments here or visit her yourself at the Traveling Bells blog on my sidebar.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Photo Bloopers

Trying to get a puppy to cooperate for a Christmas picture turns out to be quite a challenge! (No, he's not in the final "official" print!)

Hmmm, at least we got his best side!

Or is this the better side?

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the twelfth day of Christmas...

Here is a "project in the raw." (I'm unable to show the finished product because I don't want to give away the gift before Christmas!) It is a My Pages Talk Voice Recorder, and you can use them in so many ways! They allow you to record up to 30 seconds (over and over if you'd like) with high quality sound. You won't have to remove the recorder from your project (ideas listed below) because the battery will slide right out of the back. The best part is that if you need to replace the battery, your recorded message will not be lost!

Some ideas for the voice recorder include:
*Christmas ornament
*Scrapbook page in a frame with recorder attached to the front (outside the glass)
*Attached with velcro to the front of an album
*Of course directly attached to a scrapbook page
*Stored in a beautifully decorated box (see Day 9)

What other creative uses can you envision for this cool gadget? Post a comment! Thanks!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the eleventh day of Christmas...

Mini Albums are one of my favorite things to create, so I am featuring yet another one today on the 11th Day of Christmas- CTMH Style. I love them because they are projects that I can actually finish. (And if you know me, you know that I'm probably the queen of unfinished projects!)

This album is a 6"x6" My Creations Display Album (a bargain at only $7.95). It actually comes attached to its own chipboard easel so that it will stand up as shown. With 12 page protectors included, it is the perfect album to highlight an entire year (or any other special event or special relationship you'd like to preserve). In fact, I am using the January stamp of the month, Moments in Time (sneak peek!), to create 12 layouts with calendars for 2009. (This stamp set will create mini calendars for any year you choose!) As an added bonus, I am using the That's Amore paper pack, also availabe 1/1/09. The colors are Blush, Tulip, Chocolate, and Colonial White. I've tied my layout together with Chocolate, Baby Pink, and Tulip embroidery floss. Isn't this sweet for February? It'll be here before we know it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the tenth day of Christmas...

Have you considered making sets of cards to give as gifts? That person who has everything or that older (or younger!) friend who loves to give and receive mail would really appreciate a set of handstamped cards with envelopes. Include postage, a nice pen, and even a decorated address book. Or consider mailing someone a card each month of 2009. In this day and age, there's nothing like the surprise of a heartfelt message in someone's own handwriting tucked amid the bills and junk mail to brighten your day.

To package your gift, click for instructions to create:
*a card box
*a card organizer

You can also create a stationery folder out of cardstock. Begin with a 12"x10" sheet of cardstock and fold in half to create a side fold that measures 6"x10". Open so that the fold is a "valley" or "V" on your work surface. (You're looking at the inside of the folder.) Measure down 7" and then fold the bottom up to begin making the pockets. Cut the bottom 3" flap in the center to create a thin "V". Glue the outside edges of the bottom flap to the edges of your folder. You now have a 6"x7" folder with two pockets. Give it a try!

(Sorry I haven't posted pictures for the last few days, but I can't show all my secrets before Christmas!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On the ninth day of Christmas...

my true love gave to me...

a box to hold precious memories!

Though a box may not seem like much, you would be amazed by all the love that can be put inside. This Memory Showcase Box can comes flat and can even be mailed flat! Imagine filling it with love letters, treasured keepsakes, or memories from the year. This box is the perfect size to hold our 9"x9" Memory Showcase Album or the 6"x6" Acrylic album featured on day 5.

Oprah even featured the box idea on her "Favorite Things" show on 11/26. Check out the Fabulously Artsy blog on my sidebar for another beautiful box. Let me show you how!

Monday, December 8, 2008

More gift ideas

Can you believe there are more? Check out these scrapbook-inspired gifts you can make:

On the eighth day of Christmas...

What was the "mystery item" in the photo in day 6's post? My absolute favorite gift to give this year! These are large binder clips (I got a box of a dozen from Office Depot for less than $4) that I have had fun decorating with scraps. Of course the color choice depends on the recipient.

Another cute idea is really large decorated clothespins, but those can be a bit more difficult to find.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On the seventh day of Christmas...

Candles are such a beautiful home accent, and you can make them even prettier with a few simple touches.

The candle from yesterday was easy to wrap with Background & Texture paper, ribbon, layered stamped images, and a brad. All I needed was my trusty Bonding Memories glue, some glue dots, and a few pop dots. (See the post from the fourth day for a link to purchase your own. Yep, a shameless plug for sales! ;) What can I say?)

Try adding rubons to further personalize your gift.

You can also stamp on tissue paper, then use your heat tool to melt the tissue paper to the candle. (Wrap it with waxed paper before you heat it up.)

DH is making me write a disclaimer: NEVER LEAVE A BURNING CANDLE UNATTENDED!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

On the sixth day of Christmas...

Use your supplies to make some home decor! Rather than create a framed scrapbook page (another great idea you'll see later this week), what about framed art? My bloggin' friend Elaine combed thrift stores to find some very inexpensive frames- never mind the ugly "art" they held- and redecorated them to suit her decor. My frame wasn't quite as thrifty, but was still a good buy at a local dollar store.

The other items will be featured separately in upcoming posts... Merry 6th day of Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another Online Clear Album

Do you think that Close To My Heart's founder and president, Jeanette Lynton, knew that I was posting about mini albums today? Check out her gorgeous album, also posted today, and even enter to win a fun giveaway! Click on over to

On the fifth day of Christmas...

No, it's not five golden rings, but the round tabs, round rings, round pages, and round page accents on a few of the pages of this gorgeous 6"x6" My Acrylix clear album is divine! At only $14.95 (unfinished), this album is the most expensive item I'm showcasing in my 12 days of Christmas gifts blog blitz.

Mine is embellished with rub-ons, Cranberry ribbon, My Accents, sparkles, and so much more. You really have to see it in person to get the full effect. Check out my slideshow to see all the pages.

I will be offering this album as a workshop in late December. No, it's not in time for gift-giving, but it would be the perfect way to showcase this Christmas, or Christmases past. I'm also offering the choice of the Silhouette (black, Bamboo, and white) or the Perfect Day (Juniper, Sorbet, Tulip, & Cocoa) paper pack. Wouldn't you love an album of the highlights of 2008? You'll create the entire album, full of bling and ribbon, for only $40. All materials except adhesive, scissors, and paper trimmer will be supplied. For more info, check out the slideshow of artwork and complete info under my Training & Events.

Even if you don't create this particular album, a mini album is the perfect way to package a lot of love in a small container. You could create "10 things we love about..." or favorite photos of the year in just an evening. Let me show you how!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On the fourth day of Christmas...

Here's a little desk caddy that was so fun and easy to make! It's a great "green" project because it uses scraps from yesterday's project. The can base is simply an empty Crystal Light container. (They are so yummy to drink, and I couldn't bear to see the containers go to waste!) This one is definitely simple enough that the kids could get involved. All I needed was my Bonding Memories glue to adhere it, and a few glue dots to hold the ribbon in place.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Card Surprise

In my mailbox today, I was delighted to find my first two Christmas cards of the season, and best of all, they were from two of my favorite stamping friends! Yep, they're homemade from scratch. I will have to scan & post them tomorrow. :)

On the third day of Christmas...

What about a beautiful card organizer for all the cards you (or a friend) like to make and give? Wouldn't this be extra special with a set of cards tucked inside? This organizer was made with one of my CTMH My Acrylix organizers, which were originally made to hold 15 Close To My Heart stamp sets. Isn't this another great use?

The "belly band" around the box is two 3"x12" strips of Background & Texture paper (with a 1.5"x12" strip mounted on the center of each one) from the Silhouette paper pack. "Cards" is
stamped in black with the Chocolate Large alphabet stamp. I used the For Every Occasion stamp set to stamp my dividers, which I cut out with my Coluzzle file folder tab. Of course every project needs a little embellishment, so I used our Just Blooms White Daisy flowers, a black button, Colonial White hemp, and the Black Designer Ribbon Rounds to add a little class.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On the second day of Christmas...

Consider taking something plain, like this calendar or a notebook, and decorating it to personalize it for that special someone. I made these for some of my scrappin' friends (and still have a few more to finish).

Monday, December 1, 2008

On the first day of Christmas...

Traditionally, the 12 days of Christmas are from Christmas to Epiphany (Jan. 6), but I am hosting a *blogstravaganza* of 12 gift ideas that you can make (or I can teach you how to make). I'll be posting instructions on my CTMH website (under Training & Events for each date) if you'd like to learn more.

Without further ado, here's a thrifty (and beautiful) way to give a gift:

This set of tea bags are in a Ziploc-brand snack size bag with a handmade bag topper to dress it up. You can find complete instructions here.
If you end up making something similar, please tell us about it or post a link to yours.

Quote of the Week

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.--Oren Arnold

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Turkeys

If you'd like to read more about our Thanksgiving, hop on over to my brother's blog! This photo- that my brother took- is the only one of mine that was in focus. Don't ask. I think I need a new camera. It couldn't be the operator...

Hope you all had a great turkey day! We certainly did.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quote of the Week

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We interrupt our regular programming to bring you today's guest blogger, Brook Noel:

Tuesday Tips from Brook Noel, Make Today Matter, LLC.

Taming the Dinner Hour: 9 Ideas for Theme Dinners
One of the best techniques I've found to simplify supper is to simply assign each night a "theme." Now, some of you may be organized enough that this isn't necessary, but for those of us who have found all-too-much comfort in the cardboard of a takeout box, this is a winning strategy. Simply take a weekly calendar and next to each day of the week, write down a theme for the evening. Below you'll find examples from my own cooking closet. For example:

Finger Foods: This could be appetizer trays of fruit, vegetables, cheese and crackers, mini-sandwiches, hot dogs on sticks--anything that can be tackled by hand... literally!

Breakfast for Dinner: If your family is at all like mine, a leisurely breakfast of omelets, pancakes, sausage and accompaniments only occurs when you are traveling and hit the Sunday brunch buffet. Try doing a breakfast for dinner. Eggs and pancakes are quick and easy to prepare and by doing them in the evening everyone can enjoy them before racing off to their appointed destinations.

Pasta Presto: You pick the type and the night for Pasta Presto. Perhaps it's spaghetti, fettuccini, macaroni, lasagna--just pick a sauce and pasta and check a weeknight off your list.

Meat and Potatoes: Unless you are a vegetarian, it's best to designate at least one night for the good 'ol American standby.

Some Assembly Required: Whether it's pizza, tacos or baked potatoes, this night features a main course that each family member can customize to their liking.

Kid's Cook (or spouse cooks, or mailman cooks): You get the picture--someone other than Mom gets to man the kitchen (and the dishes) for this night.

Soup & Sandwich: There is a reason almost every restaurant offers a soup and sandwich special--it's a hearty, healthy and wholesome combo!

Make It and Bake It: When in a rush there is nothing like the beloved casserole. Choose your favorite, throw it together, and toss it in the oven for a 30-minute-bake. Don't forget to double your recipe and reserve one for freezing.

Lasso Your Leftovers: I dedicate this theme to my mother. For years, my mother insists on saving food--never wasting a biteful. While I find this quality admirable, I find it interesting how much food is wrapped carefully in plastic so tightly it could be donated to NASA, only to sit in my refrigerator for longer than George Burns was alive. This night is dedicated for anyone else who hoards their leftovers--now is the time to bring 'em out and bring 'em on--potluck style.

Deal With It Dinner: I must confess, this is one of my favorite themes. It basically involves letting someone else deal with the cooking or letting the family forge for their own findings in the fridge.

So, do you have a favorite "theme night" dinner that your family loves? I need all the help I can get in the kitchen! Leave me a comment with your favorite theme night dinner- or one you'd like to try.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Paper Piecing and "Out of the Box" Tutorials

I taught these techniques at my October card class. (I'm only a little late getting it posted, right?) Paper piecing is very simple, with no special equipment necessary. This technique is how I was able to have three colors on the owl. You can learn that technique along with how to create the "out of the box" focal image on my CTMH website.

Friday, November 21, 2008

On the day that you were born...

the angels got together
and decided to create a dream come true
so they sprinkled moondust in your hair of gold
and starlight in your eyes of blue...

Name that tune! You can actually look up what the #1 song was on the day you were born (or whatever date you'd like- graduation, parents' anniversary, etc.) by going here!

The #1 song when DH was born was "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones.
Mine was "A Horse with No Name" by America.
A's was "The Boy Is Mine" by Brandy & Monica.
M's was "All for You" by Janet. (I don't know either of the girls' songs! Where was I when they were born?!? Not listening to Top 40 obviously!)

Please post your event & song in the comments- year is optional! Oh, and can you name that tune? I remember it as a favorite from my childhood.

Snow Flurries!

Yep, you read it right! We had snow flurries this morning! Even though I'm against the Christmas lights that are already up in town, they sure were pretty this morning with the snow swirling around. (I just think the lights should go up after Thanksgiving. Just sayin'.)

It's not as cold this morning as yesterday but the wind chill is fierce. Today's high will only be about 41. (Weather forecast provided especially for my traveling parents who are enjoying the balmy 70s in Australia!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quote of the Week

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.
~Meister Eckhart

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Super Saturday

My girls and my nephews (5 mos & 25 mos).

Need I say more?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


My friend Chunkygal's recent blog post asked us to comment on what we're thankful for. The founder and president of Close To My Heart (the scrapbook company for which I am an independent consultant), Jeanette Lynton, is sharing something each day that she's thankful for on her blog, so here's mine:

I am thankful for my family & friends, living in the USA and all the freedoms we enjoy, my faith, having more than we need, scrapbooking, our pets, work that is (usually) rewarding, good health... Hmm, I feel a scrapbook page coming on!

Please leave me a comment and share what you're thankful for this year (or a link to your blog where we can all read it).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank a Veteran

Please thank a veteran today for the freedoms we enjoy! Happy Veterans Day to all who served our country.

If you'd like to read what a few students have to say, please click on over to my class blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Art & Soul TV

If you love paper crafts like I do, be sure to check out Close To My Heart's "Art & Soul" webisodes. Just go to my CTMH website then click on CTMH TV button on the left. Enjoy some quality crafting time from the comfort of your computer chair.

Let me know what you think of these webisodes. Also, I'd be happy to help you make the projects if you'd like.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Saturday in Atlanta

Our dear friends (and parents of Miss A's BFF) suggested we take the girls to see High School Musical 2 at the Fox Theater, so off we went to Hotlanta yesterday. It worked out well that we were able to take my parents down to fly to Australia for a month. (You can follow their journey at the Traveling Bells & let 'em know I sent you.)

Since we were making a day of it, we took the girls to the Georgia Aquarium to see the Titanic exhibit. Though there weren't as many artifacts as I had hoped, it was still quite moving. What a tragic loss of human life. Interesting facts I learned:
*The first class cabins were quite spacious. They had their own private bath with running hot and cold water.
*At about $45K (in today's dollars) first-class passage did not include all amenities; some required an extra fee.
*Second class was still incredibly nice. Bathrooms were shared between cabins.
*None of the china, etc., carried the Titanic name. They did sport the White Star logo so that the pieces could be used on other White Star ships. The different classes had different china or in the lower classes, porcelain.
*Third class only had a few bathtubs for all 700 passengers, but it wasn't the problem you'd image because most people only bathed once a week anyway.
*The 28-degree salt water is below freezing but not frozen. While that seems obvious, when you read this fact with your hand on a block of ice, it sinks in that more people died of hypothermia than of drowning.
The fun side of the day included watching the pair of belugas whales and four whale sharks.

Trying to touch the rays and sharks in the touching take was not as easy as it looked! They feel like velvet and sandpaper respectively.

The Fox was indeed fabulous. Our seats were waaaaaaay up high, but we all enjoyed the show. What talent! (Dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory- a treat from my Emory days- was a perfect choice for our two familes and oh-so-close to the Fox.) The girls covered themselves w/a blanket before we got out of the parking deck and slept the whole way home. Miss M thought it was the fastest trip we've ever made back from Atlanta. Daddy & I didn't think so, but it was an uneventful one.
If you've read this far I appreciate it! Thanks in advance for saying a prayer for my parents while they travel.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick or Treat

Here is the Devil's Daughter and the Hip Hop Funky Girl ready to trick or treat. (Hmmm, does that make DH the Devil?)

Having fun at the trick-or-treat event on the town square with the Jr. Ranger and his Bear Cub brother (AKA the nephews).

Friday, October 31, 2008


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