Thursday, June 30, 2011

Less is More Challenge (Take Two)

I learned a good lesson this week - remember the rules of the challenge.  I want to thank the ladies at Less is More for reminding me of this very basic lesson. Sometimes I get an idea in my head and just run with it, but forget the rules of the challenge.

So here is take two on this weeks Less is More challenge. The challenge was to use this sketch.

I also decided to include the challenge from Papercraft Star which was to use this photo as inspiration.

Here's what I came up with:

The stamp set was from Stampin' Up. Papers were from my scrap box.

Monthly Recap

I'm going to try to do a monthly recap to help me remember some of the little things that happen during the month.  This idea is from Katie the Scrapbook lady and I'm happy to join her with this recap.

1. What books and/or magazines did I read this month?

Fall of the Giants - Ken Follett   - absolutely an amazing book
Maybe this Time - Jennifer Cruise - not her best

Oxygen & Clean Eating - my usually monthly magazines

2. What movies, television shows, plays, etc. Did I watch this month?

Tangled - loved this movie

I'm not a big TV watcher.

3. What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?

End of School celebrations
Strawberry Picking with my boys and mom
Dinner at Santano's with some "mom" girlfriends.
Frankenmuth to celebrate my Mom's Birthday  (this is a yearly tradition)

4. What gifts did I give and/or recieve?

 Graduation gifts for my niece (money to go towards her car)
Teacher Gifts
Christmas Ornament at Bronner's for my Mom

5. What special or unusual purchases did I make?

I bought ideas to do some canning. First time I did that.

6. What illness or health concerns did I have?

Nothing - everyone has been well

7. What were my accomplishments this month?

I worked our 5 or more day a week
Made Strawberry Jam
Getting my photos organized doing Finding Photo Freedom.
Completed Power Scrapping Class and finished the layouts.

8. What disappointments this month?

No real disappointments - just wish the weather was better.

9. How did I do on my goals for the month?

I did really well with most of my goals.  I still need to spend less time at the computer.

10.  Anything else noteworthy to include?

Love this quote over at Ali Edwards blog:  On Being Different

Favorite new recipe: Chicken and Black Bean Green Enchilada Rice Bake
Interesting Craft Idea: Flower Topiary
Organizing Inspiration: Kids Art Display

Goals for next month:
Continue with Finding Photo Freedom
Drink more Water
Have Game Night/Day with Kids

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Less is More Challenge

This week I decided to do my Less is More challenge earlier. I missed the boat last week by one day.  I finished the card and when I finally took the photo and uploaded it, I was late for the cut off time.

This weeks challenge was sketch:

I started playing around with some ideas in Photoshop Elements. I wanted to make a completely digital card, something I've never done. As I was looking through my supplies I came across these champagne glasses. We have a wedding to attend next month, so I ran with this element.

I originally had the words on top to be the third 'circle', but I liked how it looked better this way.  That's the great thing about a sketch, you use it for a jumping block and it doesn't have to be exact.

Here's what I did for last weeks challenge.

I printed out Did It multiple times on some white paper and attached it behind the monogram U.  We have some graduation parties to attend this summer, so this card will come in handy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Our new favorite dish from last weeks plan was the Oregano Beef Kebabs with Tzatzik, This was so easy and had such a wonderful flavor. It's a must make the next time we have friends over for dinner.
Monday: Grilled Chicken, Cauliflower and Green Salad
Tuesday: Orchard Chicken Salad with no-Knead Bread
Wednesday: Chocolate Pancakes (Sneaky Chef Recipe) with Blueberry Syrup and Bacon
Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Pork Chopes with Cinnamon Apples & Roasted Potatoes

Saturday: Steak, Grilled Carrots and Hobo Potatoes.

Sunday: Leftovers

If you want to join in or see other meal plans head over to Organized Junkie.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chore Chart

It's that time of year again around here.  Yes, it's summer. But it's also chore chart time. During the school year we get pretty laid back about chores. The boys have some chores to do during the school year but in the summer we step it up a notch or two.

Over time I've saved links to different ideas about chore charts, hoping one would jump out at me.  I decided to do a combination of this idea and this post.

First thing I did was make a list of morning and evening chores. I also made a list of bonus chores.  I grabbed a bunch of crafting sticks and paint and got to work.

The morning chores will be on Orange sticks, evening on Blue, Bonus on Green and the Yellow is for video time.

Then I wrote out a set orange, blue and yellow sticks for each child.  The green sticks I only needed one set.

The boys were told that they will get an allowance each week.  They get this money because they are part of the family and being a part of the family also means they have certain task they must do.  If Mom or Dad end up doing the task, or have to ask more than once for a task to get done, then they must pay us for doing their job.  If they want to earn extra money they can do one of the green sticks and if they want extra video time they will need to purchase more time.

The sticks that say Kitchen Chore, Bathroom Chore and Room Chore are rotating jobs.  I made this chore wheel so that each week the job will change.

I'm going to set up a chore chart station on top of our piano.  This will have a container for each child with their sticks and one to move the sticks to when complete. I will also hang the chore wheel on the wall, so there is no confusion of what jobs are to be done.  I'm sure I'll need to tweak a few things when we get started but as of now the boys are excited to get the chore chart started.

This post is link to Organized Junkie.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finding Photo Freedom

Big Picture Classes

One of my goals for this year was to take some on-line classes to get me organized and inspired. I was tired of spending most of my creative time just searching for the photo or supplies I needed and this year I was going to work on getting my things in order and getting a work flow down.

I was so excited when I heard that Stacy Julian was going to teach her Finding Photo Freedom class, which is based off of her Library of Memories system. For years I have read wonderful reviews about the LOM system and wanted to learn how it was done.

Three weeks ago was the first week and the assignment was to start organizing your photos using the system.  I started on the digital photos during the pre-class assignment and was finding it easy to go through my events in iphoto and star rate the photos.  Then I decided to start tackling the boxes of printed photos I have all around the house.  Most of these photos are from my childhood and were taken in the 70s and 80s.  Not the best photo quality era to begin with but still many great memories.

One thing I had working for me in this process, is that I'm not afraid to throw something away, even photos. After the initial purge I was feeling slightly guilty because I thought maybe I was a little to zealous on the purging.  I did spend time to go through the trash bag again just to make sure.

I then went through the photos and sorted them into decades. 

When I was finished I only had two boxes of photos left.  I also found three more albums that need to be sorted and rated, but it was a good start to getting things in order. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life is Sweet

It's mid June and that means Strawberry Time here in Michigan. I have fond memories of going to one of the local farms with my Mom and siblings to pick several bushels of the bright red little pieces of sweetness. We were treated to months of Jam and weeks of strawberry treats from those few hours of labor.  It was so worth the effort.

This was the first time I took my boys strawberry picking. It was a wonderful learning experience for them.  They learned
  • that strawberries don't come in plastic boxes.  

  • that strawberries are normally not the size of an apricot.  

  • that it takes some work to harvest delicious food. 

  • that strawberries right from the stem are so, so yummy.

  • that spending time together working on a common goal is fun.

 So, what did I do with all those strawberries.  We started by cleaning both large boxes that we gathered.

Then I pulsed the strawberries in the food processor and add sugar and put them on the stove.

We washed and sterilized the canning jars.

Finally, I filled them with the jam.  I made a double batch.  Then was my first time making jam and it really was pretty easy.  The little bit that I tasted was wonderful and I'm looking forward to making some fresh bread tomorrow to do a taste test after the jam sets.

I still had a small mountain of strawberries left so I also made some Strawberry Juice.  We use this juice to mix into yougurt, put on ice cream, and mix with maple syrup for pancakes.

I really enjoyed my first venture into preserving our harvest.  What are you planning on preserving this year?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

End of the School Year

Last Thursday was my boys last day of school for the 2010-2011 school year. It was a crazy year, but we got through it. This was the first year at our new school. Our old school was closed down due to budget cuts. It was hard getting use to the new staff, new teachers and new families. We were comfortable with our old ways and we really did get spoiled at our old school - it was a really excellent educational family.

In the end, things got easier. We got to know the new system and the system is including some ideas from our old school.  It's was and still is a lot of growing pains for everyone.

I was very proud of my boys. They all brought home excellent report cards and their teachers were very proud of their hard work and progress.

To thank the wonderful teachers I made them a special cookie bouquet. It's been awhile since I made one of these and I really need to do it more often.  For one, I love sugar cookies.  And two, they always look so nice.  I just bought little pots from Michales and some silk flowers to fill in the gaps.

I also stamped the thank you tags. The sentiment and dandelion stamps is from CTMH Treasures. The Thank You is from Technique Tuesday Loving Words by Ali Edwards.  Other supplies Tim Holtz Distressing Inks

For the office staff and bus driver I made little cookie goodie bags for them.

I'm  curious: What do you usually give to your kid's teachers? Do you normal make something or buy something?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

I've noticed in my last few meal plans that I forgot something very important - Leftover Day.  I need one and sometimes two Leftover Days in my plan.  Because of this oversight, I never made all the meals I had planned for last week.  So I moved those items to this week, which made my planning easier. 

Our new favorite dish from last weeks plan was the Chicken & Black Bean Green Enchilada Rice Bake.  This was so easy and tasty and the leftovers were wonderful!

Monday: Oregano Beef Kebabs with Tzatzik, Tomato & Cucumber Salad.

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken, Baked Beans, Broccoli Salad.

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Chicken Parmigiana (Oct 2010 Oxygen Magazine); Cauliflower, Green Salad

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Pork Chops with Cinnamon Apples & Roasted Potatoes

If you want to join in or see other meal plans head over to Organized Junkie.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Clear the Clutter

Now that I have the remodel done, it was time to get down to business. This weekend we had a beautiful sunny day with the temps in the 70s, so it was perfect to tackle the messy garage.  I forgot to take before pictures, or maybe I just didn't want proof of how out of control it became.

I gave each of the boys a job to do while I removed the big items to the driveway. One child had to collect anything that had to do with bubble blowing and put it in the box I labeled bubbles. Another had to collect all the chalk - again box with label. The third child had to go through all the sports equipment and toss and broken items.

I then gave each shelf in the garage a theme. The lowest shelf theme was toys & games. This is were the bubbles, chalk, water guns and backyard games are stored. Next up was water/beach items on one side and cleaning supplies. Next up gardening, cords and trash bags. The very top is for large items that we don't need often.  The metal rack in the corner has all the gas, oil and lawn & bug spray.

The toy area is so much better.  We removed all the toys the boys out grew which freed up so much space. We also limited our ball collect by only allowing 3 of one type of ball.

I went through all our tools are tossed any item that was broke or we don't like and hung everything up.  The boxes in this picture are now gone too. They were hand me down clothes that I need to go through, which I did so now I have a nice open space.  The garbage can is for returnables.

It was such a big relief to get this task done. My youngest even commented on how nice the garage looks and that we should keep it that way.  I agree with him wholeheartedly!

Check out Organized Junkie to get other organizing, declutting ideas.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kindergarten Celebration

Our Conversation:

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

L: A Dad.

Me: That's great. But what do you want to do for a living?

L: What do you mean?

Me: What do you want to do to make money.

L: I just want to be a Dad.

Me: You can be a Dad and something else, like a doctor, teacher or policeman.

L: Then I won't have time to be with my kids.

Me: We have to pick something for your Kindergarten Celebration. Is there anything else you would like to be?

L: I guess I can go to an office.  But I still want to be a Dad.

You are not caught up into being something when you grow up.  In preschool, when you were asked that question you said "When I grow up, I want to be a man."  Now in Kindergarten, you want to be a Dad.

I really love that about you. You love to play house and cook with me. You love to take care of others. You have such a big heart and it's so filled with love that you are always making up songs to tell others that they are loved.

But since you needed to decorate a paper doll to look like you when you grow up, I pushed you to make another choice. I should have just left it alone at Dad. In the end you decided to say "I want to be a computer supervisor and a Dad because it sounds like fun."

You were so darn cute in your tie and you kept talking on my old cell phone in between the action.

It was a bittersweet moment to realize my baby is growing up.  You are going to be one awesome first grader! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Less is More Challenge

One of my goals was to start doing a challenge on a weekly bases.  I'm hoping to make this goal a habit, but I know it's going to be hard. I don't always have a set time to be creative and during the summer it can be so much harder, but all I can do is keep trying to make this a habit.

This week I decided to do the challenge at Less Is More.   The challenge is called In the Frame and it's a One Layer Week.  Since Father's Day is coming up I used that as my inspiration.  I also tried doing a digi card, which I've never done. I received this great tie and word digi supplies from Designers Digital for free. After printing I drew the frame and colored everything in with my Zig Markers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Power Scrapping

I took a wonderful class over at Big Picture Classes. It was called Power Scrapping and was taught by Katie the Scrapbook Lady. It was a four week class focusing on the work flow of digi scrapping. She showed us her method of getting more pages done in small amounts of time.  I really loved this idea and was very surprised how it all worked out.  Breaking down the work flow into manageable steps really helped me get some pages done.  Most steps only took me 30 minutes total for all 5 pages. The longest part was when I decided I need to do some shopping.

Paper & Title: Tia Bennett 2peas January Freebie, Cake & Balloons from TNT_Hullabaloo Kit

Template from Designers Digital: KPertiet Freebie

I don't remember who made these items - sorry!

Designers Digital: Katie Pertiet: Hoops Paper & Hoops Brushes

Two Peas in a Bucket: Angie Kovacs: Fresh from the Oven Kit

One big thing I learned was when you use a template check what size it is.  I did two of these pages before realizing I was using a template for a card.  I could figure out why I had to keep resize my stuff. Luckily, it was very easy to fix that problem and the template design still worked for my 12x12 size page.

If you are having trouble getting your creative time in, this class may help you.  I'm curious, how do you fit scrapbooking into your busy life?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Last week I slacked off. I didn't do a meal plan. And boy did I suffer this week. I made sure I had a plan this time.  If you want to join in or see other meal plans head over to Organized Junkie.

Monday: Beef Taco Bowl, Green Salad.

Tuesday: Mac & Cheese Casserole, Grilled Chicken, Green Salad.

Wednesday: Hotdogs & Alphatots, Fruit Salad.

Thursday: Pizza

Friday: Chicken & Black Bean Green Enchilada Rice Bake, Green Salad

Saturday: Oregano Beef Kebabs with Tzatzik, Tomato & Cucumber Salad.

Sunday: BBQ Chicken, Baked Beans, Broccoli Salad.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

FAMILY x 12 Blog Hop

Welcome to the FAMILY x 12 Blog Hop!  If you are stopping by from Patricia's blog, thanks for continuing on the blog hop. If you started from the beginning this will be your last stop, so sit back and enjoy!

What is FAMILY x 12?
The goal is one family photo per month for a year.  Thanks to Margie for inspiring this blog hop and project.  Over the years I've noticed that I don't have a lot of photos of the whole family.  This month challenge will help me fix that problem. So now I'm making more of an effort to capture our family all together and this monthly blog hop will keep me accountable.

I missed the first blog hop but if you would like to see it check this post.

With no further ado here our the family photos we took in the month of May.
This picture also has my husbands Grandma but it included all of us, so I think that counts.  We took this at her 99th birthday celebration.

Just in case that doesn't count, I made sure we had a picture of all of us at the Magic Kingdom.  Thanks to one of the wonderful Disney employees we were all able to get into the picture.

Next month will be harder since we don't have any big plans for the month to force a photo opportunity.  So stayed tune to see if I get one next month....

Thanks for stopping by, your next stop is back to Margie.

In case you get lost here is the follow list of blog stops for this hop.

Carol Anne