Sunday, September 18, 2011

I {heart} this cute project.

A few days ago Jack and I were talking about making something for his teacher. We threw a few ideas around and decided that it would be super fun for him to draw some pictures and then we would turn it into a notepad. Although I don't think he TOTALLY understood my idea beforehand, he was on board to try something new. We found this project to be totally do-able for him (he's known for not completing crafty tasks) AND me (I am known for trying to do too MANY crafty tasks all at once). Macy heard about our idea and, of course, wanted to make something as well. She decided to make a notepad for Grandma ;)
Here is what our finished projects looked like:

This was SO simple! First, the kids drew a few pictures. Jack drew all school-related images and Macy drew a picture of Grandma.

Next, I scanned their artwork.

I reduced or enlarged each image as needed and arranged them on a new document (4.5 inches x 5.5 inches) in Photoshop. (This way I could fit four pieces of 4.5 x 5.5 notepad papers on one sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper.) I then printed out a few sheets of the notepad papers.

Cut them out and created a perforated line.

Decorated a strip of tag board across the top (and also for behind the notepad as well). Added some ribbon.

And, voila! Easy peasy.
Jack was quite excited to give his notepad to his teacher and Macy loved giving hers to Grandma. We will for sure be doing this project again in the future!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leslie Knope is my hero.

A few things are happening right now that inspired me to actually write a new post on my blog:
1. I'm watching old episodes of Parks and Rec, which is my favorite TV show, hands down.
2. I attepted finishing a Chipotle burrito. Failed. Now I'm eating M&Ms.
3. I scored some great deals at the Lucky Duck consignment resale event tonight.
4. My printer is low on ink, so I can't print anything. Which means I have nothing to laminate. (I puffy heart my laminator.)
5. My husband mentioned installing a soda fountain machine in our new house and I'm still giddy about the thought of that.
6. My husband updated his blog today, which inspired a friend of ours, Judd, to update his blog. So here we are.

I guess that's it, really.

In other news....WE SOLD OUR HOUSE! Boo yah. It was on the market for three stressful months. It was a crazy time of trying to prepare and clean our house for showings. Most of our showings occurred in the evening after we had 12 daycare kids here. We purposely put our house on the market in May so that we would have all Summer (we have very few daycare kids over the summer) for showings. However, our plan backfired on us because we had a bunch of showings in May and early June and then NONE over the summer and then a bunch of showings in August when our daycare load was full again. Sheesh! But we finally got an offer, found a wonderful house exactly where we wanted for our next house, and everything seems to be moving along towards our closing date. Yay!
Here is our new house!

This house has a fantastic floor plan for our family. Plenty of daycare space and plenty of family space. It has a fabulous wooded backyard, a full finished basement, and LOTS of personality inside and out. We are so excited to move in to this new house!
We have LOTS of ideas for this house. Oodles and oodles. I can't wait to share with you remodeling pics and home decor designs. Our current house has zero personality and we haven't really done much to it to reflect who we are. This next house will be busting at the seams with our personalities! You just wait.

This little lady had a birthday yesterday:

Classy, no? I think so. Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

Little Zoe is seriously the funniest little thing. Being a third-born child, she has learned SO MUCH from her older siblings. She says and does the funniest stuff for a new two year old. We love her to pieces!
We had a very small little party for her. It was supposed to be an Elmo theme....but this is what her cupcakes looked like, so....

I'll never start a cake decorating blog, thats for sure.

We still had fun, anyway.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

scrapbook hall of fame

Well hello there, blog reader. Its been a while.

Here's the deal: I've been in a funk lately. I just haven't felt like myself for quite a while now. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and creatively. The best word I can find to sum up how I've been feeling is:
BLAH. I know, I should get a thesaurus or something.

I completely acknowledge that this is how life goes. That sometimes I feel totally inspired, on my game, and ready to take on the world. And other times I am always tired, not feeling "it" (whatever "it" may be), and I just want to curl up on the couch and watch episodes of Glee. Over and over.

Thankfully I've been able to finally admit that I've been in a funk and have started making little changes here and there. Exercising again, carving out time for some quiet time with God, MAKING myself MAKE STUFF with my hands, etc. And, surprisingly I'm slowly starting to feel like myself again.

One of my cousins asked me to email her some examples of some of my scrapbook layouts. So I decided that this would be a great opportunity to go through our scrapbook albums and pull out my all-time favorite layouts. I was going to try to only pick ten. I think I finally narrowed it down to 20-something...and THEN I realized that looking through all my scrapbook layouts really INSPIRED me to go create. It was a great little way to get back on the crafty bandwagon.

While looking through years of scrapbook pages, I made a list of things that kept coming back up over and over again:
1. I tend to use mostly neutral (beige, white, browns, and blacks) background colors.
2. I really like using circles as design elements.
3. I like my own handwriting. But even if I didn't, I would still hand write my journaling.
4. Almost all of my favorite layouts are about everyday stories and not events (birthdays, holidays, etc).
5. I like incorporating paint.
6. Grids are my scrapbooking friend.
7. I LOVE using just one photo on a layout to tell the story.
8. I also love using many photos from more than one scene/day to tell a story.
9. I made lots of mistakes on my pages and just went with it anyway.
10. My family is pretty rockin'. We've done a lot of living over these past few years. It is an honor to create art from the memories we have made. I'm SO glad I get to scrapbook!

With that being said, here are my all time favorite scrapbook layouts. I took a photo of each layout, so some images may seem slightly blurry. You can click on each image to see the layout larger.

Why I love it: Mostly because of the awesome photography by my cousin Jamie (Photography by Jamie). And all the black negative space. And the painted white edges. Ohhhhh I love me some paint on a layout. I love that this layout doesn't necessarily tell a specific story, its all just cool photos.

"capture life, create art"
Why I love it: Because THIS is my creative mantra. Capture Life, Create Art. I have this layout hanging in my scrapbook room STILL, even though it was created in 2007.

"the technique"
Why I love it: This layout was super quick and simple and tells the story about how my daughter Macy would scoot all her food to the edge of her high chair tray and suck it up in her mouth. Macy is now almost 4 years old and I'm certain this is a story I would have forgotten by now if I had not scrapbooked it. I love the simple design of this layout.

"almost 3"
Why I love it: This 2-page layout has nine photos on it that are all from different days during this season of my daughter Macy's life. This layout captures a short time span in Macy's life. I love that there is a photo of her crying and a photo of her crossing her arms when she didn't get her way. Lots of paint. I did the journaling in list form on the side and it includes snippets of Macy's personality at this stage in her life.

"love you"
Why I love it: This is one of my favorite photos of me and Macy. Although I tend to reach for neutral background colors for most of my layouts, teal is one of my favorite colors right now. I LOVE the color combo on this page.

"4 month old"
Why I love it: Oh my, what a cute smile. This is Macy at 4 months old. (The reason this image looks like there is a reflection over her face is because there is a photo overlay on top of the photo.) I love the design and colors and the tight journaling around the photo block.

"messy eater"
Why I love it: This is my daughter Zoe a few months ago. Man alive, she is the messiest eater of all three of our kids. I just wanted to remember that about her as a baby. Love the colors and messy design.

"sweet Zoe girl"
Why I love it: This is Zoe at 10 months. I just jotted down a few things I wanted to remember about her at this age. I LOVE the white background with red and pink accents. And I super love the white letters on top of white paper.

"travel bug"
Why I love it: This is a great example of using a grid as a design element. I do this often. I love that there are 10 photos on this layout, and they all capture Zoe's essence at this stage in her life, which included a trip to visit my dad in Arizona. Cropping photos to a fit on a grid layout is super fast and simple and looks great! I like the papers and the list-style journaling on the left side of the 2-page layout.

"5 months"
Why I love it: I love the title and butterfly on the negative space of the enlarged photo. I LOVE that big photo of Zoe.

"first bites"
Why I love it: I love that this layout shows the story of Zoe's first few bites of real food. Such a fun, although messy, experience. Love the super simple and easy layout design.

Why I love it: This is one of my favorite photos of Zoe as a baby. Matt was holding her on the couch and they both fell asleep (oh the joys of a newborn!). And good ol' Conan (our old dog!) was right there in the baby action. I absolutely love this color combo and the placement of the long journaling.

Why I love it: I love the white background and the mixture of black/white photos + color photos. I LOVE these photos of Zoe as a soft squishy newborn. Love the soft pink accents.

"barely 5, almost 2"
Why I love it: This might be my all-time favorite layout. I love that it includes TONS of information about Jack and Macy (this was right before Zoe was born) and a bunch of messy design elements. Stamps and paint. Yum!

"first smile"
Why I love it: Because this was literally Macy's first REAL smile as a baby and we just happened to have a camera ready at that moment! Special. Love the patterned papers and love the dotted border around the photo.

"hey, I'm 5"
Why I love it: Special photos taken throughout the entire day of Jackson's 5th birthday. Love the design of this page and all the journaling along the side of the page.

"merry and bright"
Why I love it: Again, loving the white background! Another example of using a grid as a design element. Lots of photos (12!) on this 2-page layout from an entire Christmas season. Lots of fun journaling about Christmas. I like the white letters on a white background.

"super Dad"
Why I love it: That top right photo is one of my favorite photos of Matt with our kids. Right after Zoe was born, they were all chillin' on the couch watching football. So sweet to me. The journaling on this layout is special to me as well.

"fall '09"
Why I love it: Another example of using a grid as a design element! I love all the white paint on this black background. And I LOOOOVE Fall photos.

"these hands"
Why I love it: Love the story this layout tells. I remember looking through a bunch of photos and noticing how many photos there were of Jackson using his hands. I'm so glad I made a layout about this! I love the photo placement of this 2-page layout.

Why I love it: This is a very special photo + story for me. Jackson is our first born. The day before our second child was born, I took Jack on a little photo shoot in our neighborhood (lots of construction and tractors) and this was my favorite photo. The journaling is written to him and it is all about how special he is to me and how our lives were about to drastically change the next day when he would have a new baby sibling. I just wanted him to know how special he was to me even though these next few months would be hard on Mama with a newborn! And I love the color combo.

"sit still and smile"
Why I love it: Again, I love the STORY this layout tells....about how hard it is to get a good photo out of your kids when they are squirrely and won't sit still! I love that I incorporated blurry and not perfect photos to tell this story.

Why I love it: Love the design of this layout and photo placement. LOVE that photo of Jack holding a red #4. Love the circles and squiggly journaling lines.

Why I love it: I LOVE this layout concept...."the story of today". The journaling is detailed snippets of what we did throughout that specific day. I do this a lot and love documenting the tiny little insignificant details of our regular day. Love that photo of Macy coloring.

So, there you have it! I'm definitely more inspired now that I've taken the time to go through all our scrapbooks and catch a glimpse of our lives. Love the hobby of scrapbooking.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

corn on the cob

Holy smokes! Has it really been a month since I've posted anything? Just when I thought I was getting back on track with regular blog posts, then I forget about it for a month.....sheesh.....

Well, ONE reason I may have neglected to post anything for a while is because we've been slightly busy around here since we decided to put our house on the market and move! We've been decluttering, cleaning, organizing, packing, rearranging furniture and wall decor, house hunting, number-crunching, fixing-up, painting, etc, etc. I go from being totally excited about moving to being totally overwhelmed about THE move. We've got three young kids of our own AND a house full of daycare kids everyday. You might think that it would be a logistical nightmare to get a house ready when there are so many kids around. And you'd be right. Trying to keep a house cleaned and picked up for showings is hard for any family. But twice as hard when there are so many little people trying to destroy everything in their path. And we haven't even put our house on the market yet! Our house is all ready to go and hopefully in the next couple of days we'll have a sign in our yard. Right now we are in the process of getting pre-qualified for a loan for the new house (which is a feat in itself when you are self-employed and run a business from your home...but that is a whole different story).
Then there is the actual move itself.....moving our three littles to a totally new home and not having any days off from work to accomplish the move. Hopefully it will happen over the summer when we have fewer daycare kids here, but still it will be difficult to MOVE and then run a daycare the next day!
So, setting all the logistical moving stuff aside, we are really excited about the possibility of a new home. Matt and I love running a home daycare. We love that we both work from home. But we also kinda hate that our daycare is IN our home. Our house does not have a good floor plan for a home daycare. The daycare kids have access to our entire main level and there is really no "safe" area from them! We have no privacy in our own home, besides in our bedrooms, and we would like to be able to leave our slippers on the floor or set a book down on our kitchen table and not worry about daycare kids devouring our own stuff. Ideally, it would be wonderful to have a space for our own family separate from our daycare.
We haven't outgrown our home by any means. There is plenty of space for our family. We just need a different floor plan! Another reason we decided to go ahead and start the moving process now is because we have not officially started the adoption process yet and once we do, we would have to stay in our current home till the process is complete. We'd like to get settled elsewhere and then start the adoption process.

In other news....

Around here, we spend most of our day chasing this cutie-patootie off of our kitchen table. Jackson and Macy were NOT climbers, but oh my does little Zoe love to climb.....and we're not so used to that! I'm pretty sure she'll start climbing out of her crib any day now.

Macy has always been very sweet and kind and lately she has been even EXTRA sweet and kind. She'll randomly shout from the other room: "MAMA!!! I LOVE YOU!" or run up and give a hug for no reason or thank me for making dinner or thank me for setting out a pile of books or thank me for making her bed or thank me for helping her pick up her room. She's been very thankful lately ;)
Macy loves her some books. She is very meticulous about looking at the words and pictures. LOVE this about her.

I made corn on the cob last night for the first time this season. We all love it. Well, except for Jack, but he only really likes peanut butter and that was no big surprise. We were all excited to enjoy our first batch of corn on the cob this season. Zoe clearly loved it. This little girl was no holds barred with her cob of corn. It was quite comical. Macy is the same way, but I didn't get a good picture of her with her corn...

Jack, on the other hand, very carefully picked off every teeny tiny piece of corn silk he thought he saw. Then he licked the salt and butter off. Then he complained and whined about us asking him to eat a few bites. I keep thinking that SOME day he'll just start eating real people food without complaining.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

i've kind of been a cooking machine lately

This might sound weird....but I just recently realized that you can bake a cake without buying a box of cake mix at the grocery store. Yes, I know. I just figured that out like a week ago. I've never been super savvy in the kitchen. Although most of my time is spent in the kitchen. The hubs and I run a daycare and I prepare breakfast, lunch, and snacks for 12 kids everyday. And dinner for my family of 5 every night. You would THINK that I would have realized that I can bake a cake without a box of cake mix. Go figure.

The big "ah ha" moment in baking my own cake came about a week before Jackson's 7th birthday. But let me back up a bit first. A few months ago we started the process of eliminating partially hydrogenated oils, artificial coloring/flavoring, and high fructose corn syrup from our home. We eat as much organic food as our budget allows. If you opened our cabinets and fridge, you'd find them stocked with healthy REAL food. Food made with natural or organic ingredients. We did our research and learned as much as we could about ingredients to avoid and how to actually read the ingredient label (not just the nutrition facts!) on packaged food. It was a big undertaking! Grocery shopping takes a little bit longer these days as I'm agonizing over ingredient labels and figuring out which foods are ok to purchase. Now that I am more informed I am realizing that grocery shopping is a fun challenge and I like finding new-to-me products at the store that are healthy (AND TASTE GOOD) for my family. So, when it came time to buy a box of cake mix, I was of course astonished at the amount of nastiness and fake ingredients found in a box of cheap cake mix. But a box of gluten free cake mix or cake mix with all natural ingredients were all at least a whopping $4/box. Not really within our budget. What to do? I stood in the baking aisle wondering just how in the world I was going to make a cake for Jack's birthday. And then all of a sudden it hit me.....I could just make my own. Seriously, I was not programmed to bake things from scratch. I used to be all about convenience and time saving cooking methods. But these past few months I have changed my ways and am discovering things on a daily basis that I can make on my own using REAL food ingredients. Much healthier. And, believe it or not, much less expensive too. Now I am having fun challenging myself at the grocery store AND challenging myself at home to figure out how to make things from scratch. So far, so good. The only problem? Math. I'm constantly doubling or halving recipes or substituting ingredients for what the recipe calls for. Fractions scare me. And now I'm surrounded by them....

Back to Jackson's birthday good ol' Better Homes and Gardens cook book came through--I was totally surprised to find an entire section on cakes!!--and I made a simple chocolate cake. Twice actually. One time for cupcakes and once for his actual birthday cake. And I substituted fruit puree for eggs and oil and cocoa + fruit puree for chocolate. And the frosting? Oh my....I made a peanut butter chocolate frosting with real food ingredients that tastes suspiciously like Nutella. Except way cheaper. I may or may not have made three batches of this already....

These bad boys were smothered with some delicious Nutella-like yumminess right after this photo was taken:

I've made a couple different varieties of granola bars and they have been a HUGE hit in my family.

I'm beginning to see that the possibilities are endless when it comes to food I can make in my own kitchen vs. processed and refined foods that I would purchase in a store. And, BONUS, now that food prices are pretty much going up each week, its nice to make less-expensive options. Next up on my list of things to try: Mac & Cheese (that tastes like instant Mac & Cheese, not the baked kind, and that would be cheaper than store-bought organic Mac & Cheese), whole wheat bread, peanut butter, jelly, and working on my waffle recipe (its never quite right).

I'm getting rather excited for the upcoming season so we can pick some fruit at nearby u-pick farms. I've never done u-pick before (except when I was a kid!) and am nervous/excited about learning how to freeze and can my own fruits and veggies! Yay for new adventures!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

this boy

THIS boy--yep, this one with all the missing teeth--is now 7. SEVEN, for crying out loud. I'm not one of those parents who is constantly saying "How did this happen?" or "Where did the time go?" or "I can't believe you are already 7 years old!". Because I totally realize that life moves forward. And sometimes it seems really fast. But I LOVE being a Mama to my kids at all of their ages. I try to focus on living for TODAY and not worry about where the time has gone or what will happen in the future. Of course I think about those things too, especially around one of my kids' birthdays when you really start reminiscing about their short little lives, but I must admit that my oldest child turning 7 years old didn't really freak me out. He's 7. Yep. He's growing up. He's becoming responsible and remembering things ON HIS OWN (like what things he needs to take to school everyday), he's occasionally showing signs of being kind to his sisters, he's stinkin' brilliant, he amazes us with his ability to comprehend what he reads (this especially impresses me, because reading comprehension was never my strong point...), he has an AWESOME sense of humor for a 7 year old, he pretty much goes to bed all on his own and RECOGNIZES all by himself when he is tired and should go to bed (crazy, I know!), and he is starting to understand things outside of his immediate vicinity (such as world issues and such). AND he still loves to be tickled and cuddle and snuggle up on the couch. He's not too cool to come running to give me a hug when he sees me at his school or give a little kiss goodbye before he gets on the bus. (I'm sure that will change in the next few years.) But, he's also ONLY 7 YEARS OLD. He often cops a nasty little attitude and totally forgets all about being kind, respectful, and obedient. Yah, like last night at his karate class when he did everything in his power to NOT obey the instructor, dance around and lay on the floor instead of doing what he was supposed to, and interrupt the other kids in his class. He was THAT kid last night. So embarrassing. We were not pleased. Its a good thing those days are not his norm.

So, how did we celebrate his birthday? We had a fairly low-key day. He had breakfast in bed, went to school, had lunch with Grandma at school, and then later that day we had cupcakes and ice cream and watched Star Wars. Fun day for a 7 year old!

A few days after his actual birthday, he had a good ol' Nerf gun birthday party with some of his friends. Have I mentioned my husband's obsession with Nerf guns lately? No? Well, here's one wall in our garage:
Cake decorating is not my forte.....although that chocolate frosting is seriously yummy. Think Nutella. But homemade. That's for another blog post...
Naturally Jack is following in his Daddy's footsteps and becoming obsessed with Nerf guns as well. He got three new BIG Nerf guns for his birthday from all of his grandparents. He and his friends spent the afternoon shooting down targets in our garage and even shooting at targets on one wall inside our house too. I'm pretty sure they had fun!

Happy Birthday, my awesome Jackson!