Sunday, August 30, 2009

Momma Mia!

Today was a wonderful Sunday. We slept in, went furniture shopping (a new sofa and love seat are on the list), relaxed in front of the TV and enjoyed a special little treat - my ds made pizza from scratch for dinner!

One of his friends is Italian and his parents often make up wonderful homemade pizza so he asked them for the recipe. Not only did he get the recipe but his buddy even came by to help him out!

I was a little hesitant at first to have two 16-year-old guys making a mess in my kitchen, but, despite all the joking around, they actually kept it fairly neat.

They made up the crust...

added some spices and toppings...

put on lots of cheese...

and Momma Mia! Now thatsa pizza!

We ended up with two great tasting pizzas - one veggie and one meat lovers. Along with a nice Caesar salad, we enjoyed a wonderful meal. It was great having Spencer do the cooking and he really enjoyed the challenge. I wonder what will be on the menu next week?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Product Challenge

This month's Product Challenge at Two Scrapbook Friends, included some really fun paper from Scenic Route that was just meant for a great summer layout! I have been wanting to work with it for a couple of weeks, but I have just been too busy.

Well, I finally made it down to my scrapping space and played with all the goodies in the kit. The idea of the Product Challenge is to use some of everything in the kit, plus you can add some of your own extras if you like. Then you post your layout on the Gallery and you have a chance to win a Gift Certificate to the store, plus a free kit for the next challenge. Very cool. I know that I can't win (that would just be silly!) but I can still play - right?

So here is my layout...

I really enjoyed all the little details on this layout. I hand cut the fish from the pattern paper and added some detailing with a glitter pen. I also punched out circles in different sizes from the pattern papers I used and had fun arranging them on the layout to resemble a multi-colored seaweed idea. I traced and cut the bracket shape from the yellow and teal papers. The only thing from the kit I didn't use was the ribbon. I tried really hard, but it just didn't work.

I was fortunate to have some papers from the same line that I used and this photo really worked well. It is one of many from our trip to Myrtle Beach last month.

If you haven't done one of our Product Challenges yet, you have to give it a try. For September we have an awesome kit with school themed papers - I know you will love it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hey There, Chickadee!

I was able to complete two challenges this week with one card!

I started with this sketch by Sketch Girland I combined it with this week's challenge at ABC Challenge. This is a fun challenge blog that uses the letters of the alphabet for their weekly challenges. This week's challenge is C is for Circles. See how perfectly their challenge worked with the sketch?

This is my card:

I used papers from Scenic Route, PTI, BoBunny and MME. Then I used my Everyday Button Bits stamps from PTI and ribbon from my stash.

Too much fun!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Taste Testing

We have the unique privilege of living next door to a wonderful woman, Donna-Marie Pye, who is a Home Economist. She has worked for the Turkey Board and the Pork Board, teaches cooking classes to children as well as adults, makes pies and cakes for special occasions and has written three wonderful cookbooks. Her specialty is family-friendly dishes cooked in a slow cooker.

Donna-Marie is currently writing another crock pot cookbook which is great news for all of her neighbors and friends! You see, we get to taste test her recipes for her. When Donna-Marie is ready to test her recipes, she gathers up 8 to 12 crock pots from her friends and tests a different recipe in each one. Then she returns the crock pots at dinner time so we can enjoy a fully cooked meal. All she asks is that we fill out an evaluation form and give her honest feedback.

Tonight was a taste testing night and we were given an Italian Beef Stew for dinner.

This delicious stew was loaded with beef, potatoes, parsnips and fennel and just before serving a handful of spinach leaves were added.

It was truly delicious but unfortunately, I can't share the recipe just yet. We are all sworn to secrecy until the book is published!

So, in the meantime, we will continue to be her taste testers (I know, it's a hard job!) and when her book is published, I will be sure to let you know!

Bon appétit!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The General Store

I grew up in typical suburbia where the closest thing to a corner store was a 7-Eleven. We also had a Stroh’s Ice Cream Parlor that sold ice cream in different flavors and had a whole wall of penny candy. Remember penny candy? Remember how you could have the smallest bit of change and still end up with a bag full of all your favorites?

This past week, my sisters and I took a day trip to Lexington, Michigan, a small town along Lake Huron. It has a main street that leads down to the harbor and beach with lots of wonderful little shops, restaurants and a great music theater.

One of our favorite stores was the General Store. It was a delightful mix of old and new and yes, it had penny candy! Even though the penny candy now cost 10 cents each, it was still penny candy in my mind.

They had all the old favorites - Taffy, Slo Pokes, Flying Saucers, Wax Lips, Squirrels, Mary Janes, Bit O Honey, Jaw Breakers and Black Jacks! We were like kids in a candy store - ooohing and ahhhing and shouting out exclamations like, "Oh my gosh! Remember those?"

We couldn’t resist the temptation, so we each bought a bag of our favorites. It was so much fun picking out what we wanted and walking away with our little brown bag of goodies!

We totally enjoyed the rest of our day as well.

We visited all of the little shops,

got lunch from a fabulous little deli,

and enjoyed a picnic in the park by the harbor.

It was a truly wonderful day, but I still think the best part was the penny candy! I am clearly a kid at heart!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer Fare

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! We just returned from a trip home to Michigan to visit with my family. It was a long overdue trip and we had a great time seeing everyone, going to the beach, doing a bit of shopping, going to a movie, and, by far the best, enjoying a summer barbecue!

On Sunday, most of my family came over to my Mom's and we had a wonderful barbecued dinner. We are a very traditional family and while our choice of meat may vary, we always include our favorite side-dishes. Mom's Five Bean Salad, fresh Corn on the Cob, Cucumber and Onion Salad and Baked Potatoes always make the list (my mouth waters just thinking about them!) and this time was no exception. Then, of course, we have to have two or three desserts to complete the meal; Texas Sheet Cake (Mary's specialty), Cherry Jello Poke Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookies were the perfect finish to our fabulous dinner.

This time we decided to have barbecued ribs and I have to say they were incredible! These finger-licking-good ribs were cooked to perfection (thanks to Dianne and John) but I am sure it was the sauce that made them so delicious. We have a secret family recipe for home-made barbecue sauce that has been in our family for as long as I can remember. Our family used this barbecue sauce long before you could even buy bottled sauce and I still think it is the best. It is a tangy-sweet sauce that works with chicken, ribs, pork chops, etc.

Even though I have never given this recipe away before, I have decided to share it with you. Life is too short to not share something this good with your friends! If you have never made your own barbecue sauce, you have to give this recipe a try. You will be amazed at how easy and good it is and you will certainly impress your family and friends when you tell them you made it yourself!

Barbecue Sauce

4 cups ketchup
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
4 - 6 large onions, diced
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1-1/2 cups water
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Refrigerate.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Still Small Voice

One of the most intriguing things about visiting the ocean, are the seashells you find when walking along the beach. Growing up in Michigan, rocks were always the gems of the lakes we went to and I have been collecting them since I was a little girl (much to my hubby’s chagrin as storage of a totally useless thing as a stone or rock always seems to be a concern to him). So to see a vast array of seashells in all sizes, shapes and colors when near the ocean has always been a delight to me.

On our recent trip to Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach, we did a lot of beachcombing. Early in the morning or near sunset were our favorite times to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach in search of the perfect seashell.

For some reason though, maybe it was the time of year or just these particular beaches, there were very few intact shells to be found. In fact, we only found very small ones that were still whole. The rest were just broken pieces that were washed ashore.

For many days though, I searched for that perfect seashell. I kept my eyes peeled for a larger, beautiful shell that would be my special find and keepsake from this trip. But, after a while, I started to become somewhat disappointed as it didn’t seem that I would find any shells worth keeping.

For those of you who may not know me too well, you have to realize that my mind and heart are never far from God. I am continually aware of His presence and love surrounding me and as I walked along the ocean on any given day, I was often in prayer; prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving for all the blessings in my life, prayers of wonder and praise for His amazing creation that surrounded me, prayers for those I love.

On one particular day, as I walked along in prayer, I was aware of His still small voice speaking to me. I kept ‘hearing’ over and over, “There is beauty in the brokenness.” Just as the rhythm of the waves hitting the shore, His gentle voice washed over my heart again and again with these words.

So as I walked, I started to notice the gorgeous colors and shapes of the bits and pieces of shells that the tide had left behind. I started to truly see with different eyes what I had not seen before. The same shells suddenly seemed far more beautiful than I had noticed earlier.

I realized that it was because when a large, curled shell is broken, you can see the inside color of the shell, which is often more beautiful than the outside. The broken edges that had been smoothed over by the sand and water were a pleasure to touch and the odd shapes and sizes made each one unique. Interesting, beautiful colors and shapes suddenly surrounded me and I realized that not only did God want me to appreciate the broken shells but that He was also telling me something more.

“There is beauty in the brokenness” applies to each one of us as well.

We start out perfect, we live, we grow. There are many, many wonderful times in our lives, but there are also many trials and difficulties throughout life that chip away at us, batter us and break us. None of us are protected from the tide of everyday life that brings these challenges our way. Sometimes our breaks can be healed, but sometimes the brokenness that stays with us makes us even more beautiful.

As time passes, the edges of our pain are smoothed over into something desirable. We are more understanding, more sympathetic, more humble. We are more aware that it is not our outward appearance that makes each of us beautiful, but the soft colors of love, forgiveness and compassion that now fill our hearts.

It was an amazing revelation as I walked along the beach with Jesus at my side. He not only accompanied me, but he opened my eyes once again to a new understanding! I returned home with a bag full of bits and pieces of shells; wonderful treasures that will remind me of an important truth.

“There is beauty in the brokenness” - and for that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Better Late Than Never!

My dear scrapbooking and blogging friend, Heather, gave me this lovely blog award a while ago and I am just now getting around to posting it!

It is always nice to encourage each other in our blogging efforts and Heather is always ready with a kind comment or a cheerful word. Thanks so much Heather for the award!

I am passing this award along to:

Heather (yes, I am passing it back to you friend!)

Now I challenge each of you to take this award and pass it along. You never know when you just might be the bright spot in someone's day!

Hugs ~

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So Sweet!

I just finished a card that I made for Use It! challenge #22 and Sketch Girl #2. The sketch provided by Sketch Girl was simple and was a great starting point for my card.

This week's challenge at Use It! was to try a new technique, use a virgin stamp and use papers you have never used before.

I was really excited to do the challenge this week as I had just purchased some new PTI stamps that I have been wanting to use! So out came my Everyday Button Bits set that allows you to complete your stamped image with a button(s) of your choice - which is a new technique for me. I then used this gorgeous red and cream paper from October Afternoon for the background. I added a ribbon from my stash and voilá!

I can't wait to give this card to someone special!

Monday, August 10, 2009


We just completed a great 'survivor-like' challenge on the TSF Forum - Scrappers Island - and it was really fun watching the competition and chatting with all the participants. Whenever someone got 'voted off' the Island, they had to then join us (the Tribal Chiefs and other exiled members) on Exile Island. We kept telling the newcomers to Exile Island that they needed to bring more rum for the punch, chocolate, sunscreen, etc. I also mentioned at some point that they could find me in the cabana with the four-poster bed and wide-screen TV, but not to tell Carolyn because she thought I was in the pup tent next to hers!

I started thinking about camping, something I used to do very regularly, and realized that it was really not something I would enjoy doing ever again. That is, of course, unless it could be done in complete comfort. Then I remembered watching a show once all about glamping.

Glamping is a type of camping that includes expensive equipment, fine foods and other luxuries! The word glamping, is a combination of glamor and camping. Sounds good to me! So I went on-line to find out more about it - OMGosh!!! Now this is my type of camping!

Real beds, plush pillows, warm blankets, fine wine, fresh flowers, etc.

I hate to admit it, but I really am at a stage in my life where sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag would be almost equivalent to having my teeth pulled! It does not appeal to me at all. But, if I could stay in one of these tents... now that I would consider!

I would imagine that this type of camping would be quite expensive and I am sure that I would never have the opportunity to actually do it. But it is fun to imagine a life-style where it would be a possibility.

On the other hand, if I had a cute little tent like this -

with a nice air-bed, I just might consider giving regular camping a try again!

Or not!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Circa 1999

Before the popularity of digital cameras and photo-editing software, all of my photos were taken with a simple 35mm camera and rolls of film. Remember those days?

Back in the summer of 1999, I thought it would be fun to experiment with a roll of black and white film. So I carefully chose my subjects (I only had a roll of 24), set up the shots and ended up with some great pictures that are still my favorites to this day, including this one of Spencer and 4 of his cousins.

They were sitting on a swing in my parent's yard, sipping on lemonade, on a very hot and sunny afternoon. How cute are they?

I was never sure if I should feel sorry for Spencer or not. You see in my family, he has 2 older cousins, John and Brandon (about 8 years older than him). Then there is Tyler, his older brother. No other cousins were born until the summer Spencer was born. Within a 3 month period, Danielle, Spencer and Olivia were all born. Soon after there was Emily, Sarah, Elizabeth and Hannah. Eventually, 6 years after Spencer, Jacob was born and then Patrick and Nathan. So there was Spencer, stuck in the middle with 6 female cousins!

On the other hand, he has never lacked attention when they all get together. The girls just adore him as their cousin and they all get along famously.

I will always treasure this picture - it reminds me of an old-fashioned summer day - free from cares. "I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June." -- L. M. Montgomery

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Card Challenges

This week I decided to participate in Use It! challenge #21 and combine it with the Friday Sketchers weekly sketch.

This week at Use It!, Melissa challenged us with the following Ad Inspiration:

We were also supposed to use a tool that we have not used in a long time and use some alpha stickers.

For inspiration I used this sketch, posted by Friday Sketchers:

And this is my card!

I used papers and a stamp from Papertrey Ink, alpha stickers from Adornit Carolee's Creations, a Copic Marker for shading on the teapot and I used buttons and ribbon from my stash. For the tool I have not used in a long time - I used my Creative Memories corner rounder (I don't remember the last time I used it!).

Thanks for looking ~ have a blessed day!
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