Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Project Life ~ Paper Tricks

Maybe you've already thought of this.  Or maybe you haven't.  So, I'm going to share - K?

I ordered the Project Life Turquoise Collection Card Stock pack.  It includes 24 sheets of double-sided cardstock.  That means four sheets of six different designs -- but really... TWO sheets of each of the 12 designs.  Are you with me?  I don't have any definite intentions for using the cardstock.  I don't plan on doing any full-sheet layouts, so -- I got to thinking about how I could cut the cardstock up to use behind cropped photos in my album w/ Photo Pocket Design A.

I set aside one page for each of the 12 designs - just so that I have some full sheets to fall back on if needed.  I'm careful that way. *rolls eyes*  I took the remaining sheets and cut them in half, and then in thirds -- making cards that will fit into the photo pockets.  I cut one sheet, and then took the matching sheet and rotated it 1 turn, so that when I cut it - the design on the rectangular pieces were different -- you know, just to keep things interesting. Now, I have a pile of 4 x 6 cards to slip in a photo pocket behind a photo.

Let me show you.

^In this case, I cut the paper so that my photos and dots ended up looking different on each card.  Obviously a bunch of the cards were just the grid.

^In this case, it didn't matter which way I turned the paper.  Any way you slice it, it always comes up peanuts.  (Anyone remember that old SNICKERS commercial?)

^And in this case, by turning the page before cutting, I ended up with some cards with vertical stripes, and some with horizontal stripes.

I just need to round all of those corners.

Have you ordered cardstock to match your binder?
How will you use it?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Adventuring

Saturday, my hubby and I headed off on an adventure.  To the local GIANT hardware store, where it's always fun to browse.

Then to the grocery outlet where I found jars of Valencia Orange Peel (dehydrated for baking) for $1.99 (instead of the grocery store's $7.99).  I use it HERE and HERE.  I also found a large jar of ground sage for $.35, and some other grocery deals.  I've got to remember to visit this place more often!

Next, was Chipotle' for lunch --where I totally ignored my friend Shannan - the Flower Patch Farmgirl's suggestion to order a veggie bowl and get FREE guacamole!  I ate meat, and paid for my guac.

Speaking of Chipotle', did you know that they now offer brown rice?  Yep.  When the employee asked the customer in front of us if he wanted white or brown rice, the customer asked what the difference was.  The employee said that the brown rice is more whole grain, and therefore healthier.  "Gimme the white," the customer said.

I chuckled... and had the brown rice.  Yum!

When we got home, our daughter had this melting in the Wax Warmer:

This is the first time we've tried this fragrance, and it's so nice!  I also bought Mandarin Orange Zest and Wild Island Fruit recently.  We've been enjoying all the warm and cozy "foody" scents, but were ready for something fresh and different.

In other news... I bought a silverware tray at the dollar store the other night.  When our daughter tidied up the bathroom this weekend, she also organized one of the bathroom drawers.  Previously, the drawer was filled with lots of pony-tail holders, and wasted space. Here's what she did:

Another great Pinterest idea.  I'm lovin' it!

Do you have any weekend tales to tell?

p.s.  About the 52 weeks prompt this week:  My first step in organizing my recipes and cookbooks is to try to get rid of some unused cookbooks on a local swap-site.  I took pictures, and posted them.  Now to wait for the hoped response!  What are you doing to organize this area of your home?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter...So Far

The other morning, it had snowed just a little bit, and was very cold.
The sun came out, and the world was sparkling.
I couldn't resist running outside (what am I, crazy?)
to snap a few shots.

I love these two little snowflakes huddled together
on the latticed seat of a garden chair.

As much as I hate to admit it,
there are treasures to be found outside in the cold.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Project Life ~ Disney Journaling, Ephemera, and Wishes

I am SO HAPPY that I kept a journal on our Disney trip.  For those of you who may be new here, our trip of a lifetime was a 50th Anniversary Celebration trip (Nov. '10).  My parents (whom we were celebrating), my sister's family, and my family (11 in all) traveled together.   We ranged in age from 10-70, and were an exceptional travel crew!  (At the time, the kids were 10, 11, 11, 12, & 16.)

First stop: A cruise on the Disney Wonder.
Second stop: Disney World - specifically The Magic Kingdom, and Epcot.  We stayed at the Pop Culture Resort.  (UPDATE:  oops, I always get that wrong.  It's Pop CENTURY. Thanks Jill!)

Anyway, back to my journaling.... I'm so glad I kept the journal - it will help "fill in the blanks" for me as I do this Disney album.  Without it, I might never have remembered that my daughter got stung by a jellyfish, or that I got locked out of our room while our kids were fast asleep (gearing up for the midnight shipboard PremEar of Tangled).  I even made notes about some of the new foods that we tried.

Travel goodies that I'll include in my Disney Project Life.
  1. luggage tags
  2. boarding passes
  3. ID cards from The Disney Wonder
  4. daily newsletters from the cruise
  5. kids menus from the cruise
  6. meal assignment tickets from the cruise
  7. journaling summaries of each day's activities
  8. famous Disney quotes (or maybe other quotes that seem appropriate)
  9. "Keys to the World" from WDW
  10. WDW brochure w/ list of rides, etc.
  11. cool paper clips
  12. maps
  13. receipts
What's the most unique ephemera that you've
ever included in a scrapbook layout?

    Right now, my wishlist at Amazon contains these items from Becky Higgins:
    1. Photo Pocket Pages - Big Pack of Design A - I am committing in my mind to eliminate vertical shots.  I may have to get creative - but I'm going to stick with Design A.
    2. 6 x 12 Page Protectors - for areas of more story-telling
    3. Project Life Core Kit - Turquoise Edition (a must-have)
    4. Big Envelope Pages - still debating on this.  If my newsletters, brochures, menus and such fit into 8.5 x 11 page protectors, and the small stuff will fit in the photo/journaling slots, there might not be a need for these afterall...
    Some of the out-of-stock products say "Coming February 2012," but something Becky posted the other day seemed to indicate MID-February.  (rats)

    "Ever forward, but slowly."
    ~Von Blucher

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Pinterest Has a Way...

    of getting me off track,
    and helping me get things done at the same time!

    Does anybody out there in blog-land know what I mean?

    First I spotted this on Pinterest:

    52 Week Organized Home Challenge
                      My original pin HERE.

    and I got on the band-wagon to a more organized home in 52 weeks.  There are so many great ideas here! This process has made me look at spaces that get overlooked in our home, and how I can do things differently... BETTER!

    And then, I'd spot something like this:

    Original pin HERE.

    Do you see my problem?  Those of you who saw the movie "Up!" will know what I mean when I say: "SQUIRREL!"

    Yes - it's a silverware tray.  But no - it's not being used in the kitchen where I'm still supposed to be cleaning and organizing in week four of 2012.  I'm so easily distracted.  I'm off to the dollar store to get a cheap silverware tray to organize our BATHROOM.  I'm pretty sure this "pin" will be a success!

    So... I'm still cleaning and organizing.  I'm just in the WRONG ROOM.  Is anybody there with me?

    Oh, Pinterest.
    Here are the rules for Project Pinterest:
    1. Decide which pin on Pinterest you’d like to recreate.
    2. Create it!
    3. Flop or success, create a blog post about your re-do and include the original pin’s url.
    4. Add the Project Pinterest button to your post so others can join in too!
    5. Link up and check out other bloggers’ posts!

    UPDATE:  Amanda has done a great tutorial post about how to add a "pin it" button to your blog -- on every post.  Check it out HERE.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Project Life ~ Hang On Mickey!

    Thoughts ~ A Question ~ Tips

    So, I've been telling you that I plan to do my Disney album totally different than my 365 (POTD) Project, right?  Well, I'm still figuring out the logistics of some things... so bear with me as I wait for supplies, and gather my thoughts.

    ~ THOUGHTS ~
    For some of you, a Project Life layout spans a week's time.

    But, for me and my Disney album, that means collecting all of the... say... plane ride pics for starters.  I look over the pics to see how many may be vertical.  I wonder, are there enough vertical pics to warrant using a page protector with vertical slots -- remembering that I'll have to use the back side for the next group of photos as well -- OR, can I crop pictures, and use the Instagram-style approach...?

    I've recently learned that a lot of the "cropped" square photos that I see on lay-outs are printed using the Instagram app.  I'm not an "app" kind of girl, but that doesn't mean I can't crop my photos down to a smaller square that wouldn't occupy so much space in my layout, right?  That would totally eliminate the need to consider purchasing other page protector styles (other than the horizontal).  I'm thinking that I will just crop those VERTICAL shots and stick with Design A photo pocket pages!  (This has definitely helped me to decide which page protectors to choose when they become available!!  Hurray for a decision MADE!)

    ALSO - reminder to self (perhaps stating the obvious to you all...) -- don't be afraid to cut pictures up and use faces someplace smaller.  For example, I have a great shot of me and my nephew.  The other people in the picture aren't even looking at the camera.  So, I'm punching the two of us out of that photo, and using it in a smaller space.  

    That vertical photo can be cropped down to fit in a horizontal slot!

    I'll have lots of travel tidbits to add as well (ID cards, luggage tags, receipts, boarding passes, etc).  I can fit those into the random gaps that I encounter.  I actually had all of these prepared in a baseball card-style page protector, and I didn't like the look.  I think it'll look much more interesting to have them mixed in with the photos!

    I also have cruise documents -- like the daily "newsletter," menus, and maps that I'll place into 8.5 x 11 page protectors.  I'll place them in my binder at strategic spots relating to the photos.


    I love, love, love both Michelle Wooderson's and Deb Duty's approach to Project Life.  If you're doing Project Life, you've got to check out their blogs.  (They are  both part of Becky Higgins' Project Life Creative Team 2012, and you can link to their blogs on their bio @Becky Higgins.)


    Layer, layer, layer.  I love the idea of a piece of scrapbook paper cut to fit a photo slot, with a cropped photo on it, and some embellishment as well.  LOVE the look.  And... by placing smaller photos on coordinating scrapbook paper, you end up with a cohesive look across the 2-page spread -- or just in one area if you want to highlight a section.  Go HERE to see what I mean.


    I like the idea of getting some neutral Disney papers and incorporating them into the album. The album (Turquoise edition) isn't in your typical Disney colors, but I did choose it for the color -- thinking of the water, and our cruise pictures, and for all of the circles within the designs - reminiscent of Mickey.


    Today, I'm working on laying out some pages, but I'm still waiting for Design A and the Turquoise Core Kit  to be available -- so I won't actually get any pages done yet.  I'm definitely starting out slowly... which may be an advantage.  This gives me more time to think things through, so that when I actually HAVE all of my supplies, I can really go for it, and know what I'm doing.

    I'll chart my progress for you, but in the meantime.... Bear with me!  There's got to BE progress FIRST!!!


    ~ A QUESTION ~
    Has anybody out there used Project Life for something other than a 365/POTD project or your annual scrapbook?  A wedding album, perhaps?  Baby?  Has anyone actually DONE a Disney album this way?  Surely I can't be the first!!!  I'd love to hear about it.  Leave me some fun-filled comments about what worked for you!


     ~ TIPS ~
    Last time we chatted about Project Life, I shared a link to a video that Becky Higgins did about getting started.  Here is a slower-moving slide-show that you might be interested in, too.

    Also, head on over to Becky's "Free Stuff" page to find free Project Life Binder Labels that you can download.  You can pick the ones that match your binder color, or get them all!

    Plus, here are quick links to Deb Duty's BLOG, and to Michelle Wooderson's BLOG.

    Whew!  Kind of long-winded today, aren't I?
    I realize that I am waaaaaaay overthinking this according to Becky's original purpose.
    But, hey - you don't get to celebrate your parents' 50th Anniversary everyday
     -- so I want this to be a really special album.
    Hope you'll come along for the ride.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    So, You Know What They Say...

    Be nice to me... OR I'LL BLOG ABOUT YOU (dear Sister).

    I've been doing some blog posts here and there about the 52 weeks to a more organized home, and this week it's all about your refrigerator and freezer.  That is not typically one of my trouble-spots (as I may have mentioned previously - when I said that I take some good-natured "ribbing" about it from my mom and sister) -- and so I haven't posted anything about it yet (sheesh, it's only MONday).  [officially a run-on sentence, I know]

    Well, (ahem), my sister may or may not have posted this with a finger pointing at me on Twitter (actually she DID):

    and then...

    Did you SEE that?  She even stuck her tongue out at me in that second tweet!  Honestly, the abuse I take.

    Anybody out there with a neat and tidy refrigerator?

    Shout it loud.  Shout it proud.

    I know.  I know.  Paybacks.  

    Thankfully, our family usually dwells within the realm of good taste.
    (sigh of relief)

    All in good fun, people.  All in good fun.

    p.s.  Just so you know... I get the "52" e-mails, so I am still following along.  Some weeks are just bigger than others around here.  At your house, too -- right?

    p.s.s.  Aren't "screen shots" a great thing?  Yeah.  Love 'em.  *smirk*

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Project Life ~ A 365 (POTD) Approach

    So I promised to tell you about my approaches to Project Life.

    The first time I used Project Life was in 2010.  My sister challenged me (because I took so many pictures at the time) to do a POTD, or 365 project.  I was up for the challenge, and so I began.  First, I decided to share the photos in a facebook group, where my family and friends could see them.  Some photos were of our home and family, and whatever happened to be going on around here.  Other pictures were more creative, and there were lots of photos of flowers in the spring-time!  I wasn't really sure what format I should use for keeping all of these pictures -- until I heard about Becky Higgins and Project Life.  Becky said that Project Life could be perfect for a POTD project, and so I ordered a kit.  While I waited for it's arrival, I read everything I could from people who had already filled up albums.  There were lots of different approaches.

    Project Life Delivery ~ My POTD on July 21, 2010

    There were LOTS of creative approaches that seemed more than a little overwhelming to me at the time.  Afterall, my project was about a picture a day, and all I needed to be able to do was journal about that picture.  At the time, the page protector that was offered with the kit was 4 horizontal photo spots (2 on top, 2 on bottom) with 4 vertical journal spots lined up in between (Design A).

    A typical left-hand page

    I watched a video done by Becky, where she showed how to "pre-load" your album as an option.  I thought that might be just the ticket, and so I started by pre-loading my album so that every 2-page spread would look exactly the same (the exception being when I had to accommodate vertical photos or add memorabilia).

    A vertical photo -- uses part of a picture slot, and a journaling slot.

    As you look at each 2-page spread, there are eight photo spots, and eight journaling spots. Since each 2 pages represent a week, that leaves one horizontal photo spot open, and one journaling spot open.  I placed one of the 4x6 date cards in that photo spot (always the top left spot for me), and a decorative 2.75" x 3.75" card in the extra journaling spot (same spot on every page -- I was a little obsessive-compulsive about my journaling spots matching up with my photos consistently).

    A typical 2-page spread

    Keep in mind that I literally started this project on January 1st, so my week started on Saturday and ended on Friday.  I basically just shuffled the journaling cards and used them as they came to the top of the pile.  Sometimes, if I had a vertical picture that could be cropped to fit in a journaling spot, I would use the 4x6 picture slot for a larger journaling card.  I tried to be flexible, but as a beginner, it was just easier for me to be more cut-and-dry about the process.

    I ordered the system sometime during the summer, and worked really hard at catching up. I kept up for a while... and then, not so much.  I DID end up finishing the album just after year-end though -- well, with one exception.  You'll laugh to know that I JUST placed my final picture in last week. Somehow, one photo got overlooked, and I promised myself that the next time I ordered photos, I would include that ONE in my order.  Well, that was just last week.  So taa-daa, I am officially finished with my POTD or 365 album for 2010.  A success!

    <<<Thoughts on a POTD (picture-of-the-day) album...
    It was fun.  One time.
    It sort of started to feel like a chore.  And then -- my kids are teens,
    so honestly -- they didn't want me in their face EVERY DAY
    trying to take "that" picture.
    It got a little tricky, and the winter was especially l-o-n-g.
    I WISH the idea was something I had known about/thought about
    when our kids were little!!!
    I'm not sure I would ever do it again, but it was fun -- as I said, ONCE.>>>

    But the Project Life concept?  Yes, please.  So glad I ordered it for my Disney album.  I plan to do it totally differently.

    And I'll tell you about that next time...
    In the meantime,
    here's a great Project Life video done by Becky Higgins herself.
    It'll show you how to get started!

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Project Life ~ Getting Unstuck

    I have a confession to make.

    [My mom (and scrappin' buddy) will read this and say she already knew...]

    The Project Life album that I used for my Project 365 in 2010.

    My scrapbooking patterns have changed.  Somewhere in between me starting a blog (Oct. '10), our Disney Trip (Nov. '10), Project 365 (all of 2010), and my summer job (2011), I got waaaaaay behind in my "regular" scrapbooking.  Like pictures-stored-on-the-computer-and-not-even-printed behind.

    I love doing pretty layouts, and am pretty "old-school" -- meaning I don't use a lot of gadgets and techniques.  My layouts are more simple.  Even so, I felt stuck.  As if something was keeping me from moving forward and catching up with my albums.

    Something was keeping me from getting back up to speed after a slow year.  I kind of knew what it was, and wasn't sure how to face it.

    It was the Disney album.
    Or should I say, the IDEA of doing a Disney album?
    For over a year,
    I've wavered between doing a Shutterfly book,
    or creating my own pages with Disney products.
    I just wasn't sure where to begin.
    How to edit all those photos.
    What materials to use.
    What kind of album?
    I. Was. SO. Torn.

    My indecision was making me feel STUCK as far as moving forward in any of my daily scrappin' endeavers.  I felt like I couldn't move forward until I had managed this BIG PROJECT.

    In the meantime, Becky Higgins was totally promoting her new Project Life supplies.  No longer a kit (like I used for my Project 365 in 2010), you now order your items ala carte.  I read everything Becky and Ali Edwards write on their blogs, facebook, and twitter -- because I really admire them, and like their individual styles as well.  Recently, Becky wrote, "...simple is my personal style and I don’t add much of anything..."  That's the whole point of her Project Life products... SIMPLICITY -- so that we can easily keep up with our memory-keeping.

    Ali, on the other hand, adds LOTS of ephemera, and stuff from the daily-ness of her days -- which I love.  She also adds a lot of technique -- which I admire, but isn't necessarily my thing at all.  So, I find I am a mix of the two, I guess.  Ali uses Becky's PRODUCTS and shares lots of Project Life ideas on her BLOG as well.

    Becky also has a great creative team, and shares lots of awesome ideas from them as well as other fans of her Project Life line.

    Well, better late than never, right Becky?  Sign me up!

    I decided to purchase the Project Life Binder ~ Turquoise Edition for my Disney Album.  I perused all of the pretty albums, and decided I liked the colors of the Turquoise Edition best for my photos, and all of the circles are reminiscent of that famous Mickey Mouse head!

    So, I took the plunge and ordered.  The binder, the matching cardstock, and some photo pocket pages - Design C.  Becky said that more of the Turquoise Core Kits will eventually be available.  So, my plan is to wait for those, and some of the other page protector styles that are not available right now.  You see -  my approach is going to be a little different than how I tackled my Project 365.

    The supplies I'll be using for my Disney album ~ The Turquoise Edition

    I've been tracking my Project Life shipment all week, and it finally arrived on Friday. Eeeeek!  I'm only a little excited to get started.  

    Stay tuned.
    I'll tell you about my Project 365,
    and how I plan to tackle the Disney album

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    The End of an Era

    ...a common expression in our family.

    We use it to refer to the end of something that has been "big" in our lives.

    Like... summer day camp at our church.  Our daughter has been attending since she was in Kindergarten.  That year, she attended for a week while our son was at an overnight camp.

    The following year, I was offered a job at the day-camp, and both of the kids attended for nine weeks.  And so it began.  A summer tradition for our family.

    After being a camper for several years, my son became a summer volunteer, and then took a job on the activity staff -- doing things like lugging around monster inflatables for the campers to play on, and cleaning up after everyone.

    I did camp crafts for 3 years, and then started working at the front desk, taking registrations, answering parents' questions, answering the phone, and doing miscellaneous office work. One year, I took pictures, and did the newsletter as well.  Last year, I was asked to tackle picture-taking, a newsletter, facebook, twitter, and a camp blog.  It was an awesome job.  I got to work at our church, amongst friends, doing stuff I loved.  It doesn't get much better than that!

    Our daughter has been a camper forEVer, and was really looking forward to this year -- her first year to apply as a volunteer.  She's all grown up and almost 14.

    And then, we got the word.  No camp this summer.  Why?  For various, well-thought-out reasons that make absolutely no sense to our hearts -- which by the way, are more than a little bit broken.

    We're TRUSTING that God will SHOW US
    the windows that opened
    when one of our very favorite doors closed.

    The end of an era.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Project Pinterest: Broccoli and Cheese Quiche

    {With a Brown Rice Crust}

    So, WOW.  I found a BLOG with this amazing-looking Broccoli Quiche recipe a little over a week ago. Doesn't it look delicious?  I LOVE broccoli.  Really. Love. It.  Well, since I pinned it, almost 2000 people have repinned it, and more than 200 people have "liked" it.

    Let's face it.  That's one pretty picture, right?  And if you like broccoli?  SOLD!

    So, it was driving me crazy that all these pinners had repinned, and I hadn't even tried this yummy dish yet.  I live in a house of broccoli haters.  They humor me from time to time, but they hate it.  I was pretty sure they wouldn't humor me on this -- so I didn't even wait for them.  I made it for me.  (Feel free to stop over if you want to try it!  HA!) 

    You see (above) MY pinning.
    Here is my source: A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock n' Roll with the pretty picture.
    Here is her source: FaveDiets with the original recipe from Kevin.

    So, I just now tasted it.  Really!  It just came out of the oven a few minutes ago, and... ohhhhh, DE-licious!  Total success.

    Here are some notes.
    1.  I got so excited to get this in the oven, that I totally forgot the nutmeg, and to salt and pepper.  Don't YOU forget!  
    2.  The rice (as the crust) is totally cooked, but not crispy.  I wish I would've pre-baked it a little longer.  I was afraid of over-doing it.  Next time I'll know.  (The spots where the rice was crunchy were tasty!)

    3.  If you look at the two photos I linked you to above, you'll notice that the pretty picture has the broccoli in much smaller pieces.  I took note of that, thinking it would be much nicer to eat that way rather than having a big chunk of broccoli in the middle of your pie. Exactly right.  I diced up my broccoli pretty small, and was happy with the delicious results!
    4.  Lastly, take note about turning the oven temp down after pre-baking the crust!

    Bon Appetit!

    Here are the rules:
    1. Decide which pin on Pinterest you’d like to recreate.
    2. Create it!
    3. Flop or success, create a blog post about your re-do and include the original pin’s url.
    4. Add the Project Pinterest button to your post so others can join in too!
    5. Link up and check out other bloggers’ posts!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    "The time has come," the walrus said,

    "To talk of other things. 
    Of shoes and ships and ceiling wax
     Of cabagges and kings..."

    So, how's that for random?  I needed a title, but feel like I write "random" all the time.  For some reason, as I thought of random this sing-songy rhyme came to mind from "Alice in Wonderland" (the walrus and the carpenter).  Also a list of randomness... which just happens to contain the word SHIP.

    So, speaking of ships... No joke.  In November of last year, my parents sailed on the Costa Concordia.  You know? The now sunken ship?  Yeah.  So, needless to say... since Saturday morning when the realization hit... I have been thanking the Lord often and loudly that they are safe and sound, and not currently sailing.  I cannot imagine the feeling of having loved ones that are unaccounted for.


    This morning, Dear Daughter complained of a sore throat (worse than her usual allergy-suffering sore throat), and it seemed she had a fever.  So, off to the doc we went. We love our doctor.  He's been our doctor since practically forever, and he delivered our kids. He feels like family.  The kids have never had one ounce of fear (even as toddlers) going to see him. We have never let any insurance company tell us that we can't go to him.  Best decision we ever made on behalf of our family.

    Diagnosis: Tonsillitis --> $10 co-pay
    Rx: Z-pac --> FREE
    Knowing --> priceless


    Yesterday, the kids and I (along with my sister and her three kids) went to see "We Bought a Zoo."  I really enjoyed it.  I thought the kids would love it because of the animals.  Truth is, you don't have to be an animal-lover to enjoy it.  It's a lot about relationships, and a little about the animals.  Good movie.  My daughter says it goes on "THE LIST." You know what that means?  The DVD will reside in our home someday.  Yeah, there's a list.


    I'm still working on the 52-week home organization challenge.  How about you?  Last week was exam week around here, and therefore a wonky schedule.  I didn't get to clean under the kitchen sink as I'd planned, so that's on the schedule for this week.  Also - this week's challenge is organizing the pantry, spices, and food storage areas.  At this particular time, for whatever reason, my pantry is not super-stocked.  So, I imagine this will be an easy job. In general, I wouldn't say this is one of my problem areas.

    For whatever obsessive-compulsive reason (who me?), things don't accumulate in our kitchen.  Just ask my mom and sister, who have been known to make fun of me for my tidy refrigerator.  Hey - other than the cheese that stays around too long, we've never had a science experiment in our refrigerator!

    I have two food cupboards in my kitchen.  One is narrow with three shelves.  One shelf is for baking spices & etc.  The next is for all of the other spices.  (Both spice shelves have a lazy susan to eliminate reaching to the back of the shelf.)  The bottom shelf is for snacks.  The second cupboard is larger, and also contains three shelves.  It contains coffee and teas, plastic wraps, bags, and foils, peanut butter, and various often-used ingredients -- canned, and otherwise. There is somewhat of a method to my madness, but, truth-be-told -- it's pretty hard to lose something in this space.  I tidy it up from time to time, and we're good to go.

    I don't keep a big enough inventory to worry about a pantry inventory. You know the old "Field of Dreams" saying:  "If you build it, they will come?"  Here's what happens in OUR house.  If I buy it and put it on a shelf, they will eat it.  True story.  I have teenagers.
      I think this will be a light "Week 3" around here.  What's happening at your house?

      Is the pantry an "easy" area for you, too
      -- or do you struggle here?
      Do you stock up on lots of foods?

      I think it's so interesting to see different people's organizing styles, and priorities.  {Look at that pretty kitchen drawer at my sister's house!  The tote on the counter is all the "probably unneeded" stuff that she is putting away for a while.}  Want to see other people's organizing and storage ideas?  You can check out the "under-the-sink Hall of Fame" HERE, and the "organizing-and-storing-spices Hall of Fame" HERE.  For real.

      Okay, now go check the sink.  *wink*

      52 Week Organized Home Challenge
      Organize pantry, spices, and food storage areas.

      Monday, January 16, 2012

      Weekend Review

      It's Monday, and technically not still the weekend, but it IS part of OUR 4-day weekend, thanks to a school records day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

      Two of the four of us are sick.  Colds, I guess.  Although our son's asthma always makes it seem worse for him.

      We have been hunkering down mostly.  Laying low.  Hibernating.

      Except for my sweet hubby and daughter who went on an adventure Saturday morning, and did all of the grocery shopping.  They love a good adventure, and are so good at taking care of me when I'm not feeling up to par.

      So, a winter weekend at home has turned into a weekend of good eats.  Last night, we enjoyed homemade bread and soup.  Today, I stayed home while the rest of the family went to church.  In between naps on the couch, I got a spurt of energy, and made Impossible Breakfast Pie for lunch -- with prosciutto, green peppers, diced potato, and onion.  It was YUM-MY (even if I do say so myself).

      At Christmas, my daughter and I made jars of Peppermint Stick Cocoa to give as gifts, and ended up with leftover dry milk.  Do you use dry milk for anything?  I don't think I've used it my entire married life, and now here I am with leftovers!  Right away, I thought of my mom's recipe for Brown-Eyed Orange Bars.  It calls for dry milk, which I never have on hand.  TaaDaa - the answer to today's "What shall I bake?" question.

      Brown-Eyed Orange Bars

      Beat well, at low speed:
      1/2 cup margarine, softened
      1/2 cup orange juice
      1 egg
      1 T. orange rind
      2 tsp. vanilla

      Add in:
      1-1/2 cup flour
      1/3 cup dry milk (in dry form)
      1/3 cup sugar
      1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. salt
      Mix well.                                                                                                                                    
      Stir in:
      6 oz. chocolate chips
      (I used 6 oz. mini-chips)

      Spread in a greased 9 inch pan. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, or until cake pulls away from side of pan.

      These were a great success at our house!  Lucky for us, there's still some dry milk left.  Gee - that might mean we have to make these again.  Or as my daughter likes to say, "Keep practicing!"

      Good Life Wednesdays

      Saturday, January 14, 2012

      Weekend Thoughts

      The simplest things can bring us JOY if we will only allow it. That's right allow.  Nobody but YOU can determine how much JOY you derive from an encounter, an experience, or a simple gift.

      Fragrant melted wax (vanilla hazelnut mocha to be exact), and a reminder of JOY from a friend are little touches around our home that bring me JOY.  They are gifts that remind me how much I (and my family) are loved and cared for.

      Sometimes I pray and ?TRUST? God for something (like passing scores, or plans for the future), and then am surprised when he answers with a "yes."   Am I the only one who does that?  Mmmhmm.  There's a reason "TRUST" is my word for 2012!  It's something I need to work on.

      Many mornings I watch as the sky grows light, and a pattern of clouds forms, and I wonder at God's amazing creation, and at the grace he bestows on me -- allowing me to be a part of it all.  Experiencing JOY.  Learning TRUST.

      Allow yourself to experience JOY today.

      Let yourself TRUST God -- who has your best interests at heart.

      See God in the miracles that surround us every day.

      Psalm 91:2
      “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress:
      my God; in him will I trust.”


      Head over to the Weekend Wrapup Party
      at Tatertots & Jello,
      and enter to win a Project Life binder,
      the coordinating core kit,
      and any 5 packages of the Photo Pocket Pages that are currently available
      -- courtesy of Becky Higgins.

      cultivate a good life by Becky Higgins

      Friday, January 13, 2012

      On Being Proactive...

      Did you ever just have "a day?"

      That's what my friend, Rhonda, likes to say.  "I'm having a day!" -- and we know to stay clear.

      Well, today - I'm having a day!

      ONE.  It started with dropping my son off at school for his second day of semester exams.  He texted me about an hour later and said that we blew it, and he had been one period late for his first exam.  (All exams are allotted TWO periods.)  Instantly my blood pressure went up, and oh, it really got to me... because we READ all of the instructions (remember, we're new at this!) to make SURE that we did things right on these two exam days!

      TWO.  I decided to order Project Life for my 2010 Disney Cruise/Trip pictures.  A binder, cardstock to match, and some page protectors.  However, I realized that the core kit and the other style page protectors that I need are not available.  Rats.  I was really motivated to get started on this project, too!

      THREE.  I decided to get ahead of the game, and order my 300+ Disney prints from Walgreens, because they have a ten-cent deal this week.  However, for some reason, my computer will not process my order.

      Today, is just a comedy of errors.

      Here's what I did well today.  I prayed rather than get too frustrated.  I walked away when the computer started making me nuts.  And... I did a little "reaching out."

      FIRST.  I sent an e-mail to the school principal.  I told her that I am not typically a "complainer", and so I hoped she would read my e-mail with that in mind.  I then proceeded to share with her our confusion over the exam schedule, and mentioned (kindly) that I thought perhaps that could be explained more clearly in the future.

      I also prepared an attendance excuse for "To Whom It May Concern" in the attendance office.  It explained my son's late arrival today, and ask that he be excused.

      SECOND.  I left sweet Becky Higgins a tweet, asking her if she could give me a clue about waiting for the turquoise core kit.  I'm wondering if I need to shift my design plan into another binder and kit.  I'm hoping she can tell me if the items I'm interested in will ever be restocked....

      THIRD.  When my on-line ordering with Walgreens wasn't working, I called my local store to make sure they weren't already printing out a bazillion sets of my Disney prints because I had gotten over-exhuberant on the computer.  (You know, ENTER.  ENTER. ENTER.  Why isn't this WORKing?)  A sweet photo desk employee recommended that I restart my computer, and assured me that she was not printing a bazillion sets of pictures with my name on them. Well, that's a relief. 

      You know,
      Mama always said,
      "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!"

      UPDATE: As I am still preparing this post, Becky Higgins (I TOLD you she was sweet!) has already responded to me on Twitter to say this: "Yep, we are making more Turquoise Editions. ETA unknown just yet."  Awesome.

      UPDATE: It is now 7:45 Thursday evening, and I just got off the phone with the high school principal.  She was concerned that families (like us) did not get the correct information about exam scheduling, and she wanted to know about the document that we received.  After some discussion, and comparing it to information on the website, we realized that a table had been omitted from the document that was sent home.  I didn't read the on-line version.  She apologized for the mistake, and then asked about my son, and if he was able to complete his exam.  In fact, he was not.  She told me that she will make allowances for him to complete it when school resumes on Tuesday.

      UPDATE: I know - you want an update on Walgreens too, right?  Sorry.  Still -- I'm still working on that one.

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