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The Chronicles of Nani On Video

I am overcoming my inability to type with my ability to talk (and talk and talk and talk) I'll be posting a video every week on my YouTube channel. I'll be posting those videos here too along with an occasional regular blog in the mix. (As long as my hands are up to doing the extra typing.)

You'll be able to watch the videos here, but I encourage you to stop by my channel at YouTube once I'm up and running to follow me and get my numbers started!

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of The Naughties?

I just read on a friend’s Facebook page that “The Naughties,” as in 20-naught-whatever number ends the year, is the phrase the illustrious media has coined to call the decade we are leaving behind. Well, I never used the 20-naught phrase for the years anyway, it was two-thousand, two-thousand-one, etcetera to the year that ends tonight, two-thousand-nine, but I love the double-meaning of “the Naughties.” Okay, maybe I’m the only one who rode the coattails of Santa’s recent visit with that one. There have definitely been some things to award some major world figures a permanent place on the Naughty list!

In looking at the past decade there has been plenty of bad and good, maybe a little more bad on a world and economic scale and maybe more opportunities than rewards on a personal level, but the outlook going into the 20-teens is good. I am a decade older and hopefully that means a decade wiser. I’m definitely a decade richer in the things that are truly important. A decade ago my sweet little nieces were 5 and dealing with the child’s struggle of divorce. They lost their Mom only a few months into the decade and now, with the support and love from all of us, they are well-adjusted and incredibly wise young women. Deaths and births are a normal part of the balance of life. Part of healing from loss is realizing that what you have is still really weighted on the joy side and not the sadness side. I’ve dealt with the pain of losing some very dear people in the past decade, including too many people this year. But I am ever warmed by the great memories of them I hold and I’ve welcomed new friends into my family and new life into the families in my world, including my wonderful husband and a new baby in my family of friends scheduled for the beginning of the year!

As I get ready to turn off the computer for the last time this decade, I remember all that is so wonderful in my world and pray for those less fortunate to find the comfort and security they seek. As I said in a comment on Edna’s blog, we can sometimes hear the wind chimes gently ring in our bedroom because there is a small draft. That’s why I bunker into extra blankets, but we have a ceiling to hang wind chimes from in the bedroom. There are so many around us who don’t have that.

In a year that David and I felt pain reading articles of people who’ve had to take their beloved pets to shelters because they lost their homes and had to move to apartments that don’t accept pets or who just couldn’t afford to care for them, we were able to open our home to another furbaby and donate a little money and time at the shelter events.

In a holiday season when I’ve seen parents with pained faces saying “no” to their kids, I was able to take Tori and Rina out for lunch yesterday. I also got to hear 15 years of wisdom tell me how important the time we spend together is to them and that lunch and coffee at Starbucks was one of the best presents they had this year. What a small price to pay for such an awesome gift for me!!

So yes, 2009 was a year of many challenges and lows but one of so many high points too. My brother’s wedding and my own reception were definite high points, as were the two weeks out west for our honeymoon that David and I shared. As I mentioned in the yearly letter I sent with the Christmas Cards this year, the low points have really let the strength in our marriage shine and left me feeling more secure and in love than I could have imagined I’d feel a year ago.

Now, going into 2010, a new decade, I look forward to the relationships with not just David, but my family of fiends getting deeper and warmer, finishing school and my network certification testing and being able to increase our household income and security and Kaline is finally coming to terms with Carla and even playing with her a bit. The future looks good.

I want to wish everyone a 2010 that brings you more of everything that was good this year and less of anything that as bad and may you find the strength in yourself to find that good and help it grow.

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photoblog Wednesday

Making even a dreary winter day brighter!

Isn't this sun catcher gorgeous? It was a gift from Veelana that came with my Christmas card. When I unfolded it Monday night and laid it on the table it was quite pretty and the hand-made craftsmanship is outstanding, but Tuesday morning when I put it in my window, WOW! When the sun shines through it you see the different nuances and patterns the folds in the paper and natural sunlight create. She sells them at her etsy store and I can definitely tell you they make great gifts that bring another smile every time they're seen.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wrapping Up The Old, Prepping For The New

YUM! Low-Guilt Holiday Leftover Lunch

That was lunch, baked potato quarters with leftover chunks of Honey Baked Ham and cheddar cheese with a shaken salad in balsamic vinaigrette. The potatoes and cheese are leftover ingredients form my first ever made-from-scratch scalloped potatoes. This is a low-guilt, not no-guilt lunch because I try to keep my lunches around 300-350 calories and this is about 400. Now, true that I’ll resume Wife 1500 with a vengeance on January 4, but the leftovers in the fridge won’t just sit around and wait and I was in the mood for a lighter lunch than the holiday overload of the last week and a half.

There’s been plenty of good food, treats and I will totally confess that I really like my own baked goods too! My favorites from the brownies were the Cordial Cherries and Boughs of Peanut Butter, not to slight the candy canes and well, I think David left one classic chocolate on the tray and I‘ll let him have that for dessert tonight. I’m also a total sucker for the Mr. Goodcookies, which I after all, created to be the best cookies I’D ever tasted! We also have a couple of dishes of chocolates and yesterday, Pop brought the bag Auntie brought for us from San Marino, which has one of the wonderful dark chocolate and wafer tortes, for which the Fatherland is renown in Europe and a large, incredible, milk chocolate hazelnut bar that’s made in Milan. She’s sent us that chocolate before and it is pure heaven to eat! The gift bag also had a box of pocket coffee, espresso filled dark chocolates, and chocolate covered espresso beans. David said those two are for me.

gifts from the Fatherland!

I saw Pop yesterday because he came over after work to pick me up and we rode together to Angola, take 2, to meet Dave and Laura and bring the girls back. Boy the weather has just presented a huge family challenge for the holidays this year! As we sat together, ordering lunch and exchanging gifts in a smoky restaurant just off I-69, Tori gave a line that I wrote down for the scrapbook! “Wow, Christmas at a truck stop. Interesting.” That and another couple quotes will go on the layout from lunch yesterday.

David and I got a new “party camera” from his brother’s family for Christmas! I call it a party camera because it is easy to use and figure out for passing the camera around, unlike my past few point-and-shoots that people have had a hard time with. This one is a Canon and it takes great quality candid pictures, has a good auto setting for sharing the camera and a quality macro setting too. It is also much more jiggle-resistant when the flash is turned off than my old Minolta. The Minolta will still be my train camera for now, though. The Canon doesn’t have a viewfinder, which makes it essentially taking blind photos when the sun is behind you, and it’s very slow in getting ready to take a second shot, the picture quality is a little better, but it’s not a big enough improvement to make up for the limited capability in the field. But what it does for people, cats and ambient shots is wonderful! I was looking forward to getting some good photos for scrapping at lunch.

I passed the camera around, but I didn’t really get any great shots. The best one of the girls is blurry. We’ll chalk that up to getting used to the new auto settings. I took that one and it focused on the ketchup bottle in the center of the table! But I’ll use what I do have and some added journaling to get a good page anyway. A good rule is that just days after Christmas don’t take a new camera to dinner and expect many photos taken with it because people will be checking out the new camera and the niece who also got a new camera will pull hers out to compare and you won’t have good scrapbook photos! I don’t even HAVE one of Dave or Laura! I’ll see if Tori has any to swap from her camera!

It’s been a Christmas of some challenges, most from the weather, but I’m making up for that now. After visiting Grandma tomorrow morning, I’ll stop at Pop’s and pick up Tori and Rina to take them to lunch. There is a Cracker Barrel not far from where Pop is and that is one of our collective favorite restaurants!

Maybe tomorrow I'll have lunch pictures!

Options For 2010

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Safer® brand. All opinions are 100% mine.

As I’m getting ready to ring in the New Year, I’m planning the things I’ll do to make it a better year. Part of this is, of course, thinking about spring and what can I do as a fan to support the Reds and Tigers for a solid start. A big part of that is I can be a healthier fan so I have the necessary energy to be an enthusiastic fan! So, along with thoughts of bats and balls go plans for cucumbers and tomatoes!

I really want to get a bush cucumber plant and a potted tomato plant for our back yard and maybe a small herb pot. Wow. I can almost taste the fresh gazpacho writing about it! I really miss the garden we had in our backyard in Michigan and while I’m not looking to go as gonzo as Pop does with gardening, I especially miss the cukes and tomatoes!

I’ve talked before about my strong desire to keep my personal gardening organic. I just prefer my veggies without added chemicals and the taste is better. I got hooked on organic carrots at Detroit’s Eastern Market a few years back. I love to munch on the baby carrots from the packaged bags, but a quart of organic carrots almost didn’t make it home the first time I bought them! It really does make that much difference in taste! Unfortunately, organic also makes a measurable difference in cost, so while I’m not ready to grow my own carrots yet, growing the cucumbers and tomatoes will save me enough to supplement them with purchased organic carrots! Now I just have to get my plan to prevent bugs on my plants to make this awesome salad work!

Luckily, I know where to go. saferbrand.com is the best first stop to get ready for Organic Gardening. The Organic Gardening 101 section gives you all the information and support you need to get to work on growing healthy and pest-free plants without the chemicals and poisons you don’t want in your body or even just altering the taste of your fresh veggies! Their extensive insect library can help you identify the bugs in your garden and determine if they are beneficial bugs or bugs that need to be eradicated from your plants along with the safe, organic way to do that!

There are even more choices to keep up-to-date on the organic gardening secrets that will keep you in the best tasting and safest fresh veggies this year. Safer brand's facebook page will give you information on their updates whenever you login to your account. I like that affirmation of my commitment to my garden plants and eating better. Safer brand is officially on twitter too! You can friend them and get and give Tweets on your living organic choices and what they can provide to help you help yourself live a better-tasting, healthier and longer life.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful!

AGAIN! This time the winter weather advisory is out for Indiana. I was supposed to meet Dave, Laura and the Girls for lunch in Angola today and bring the girls back to either get picked up by Pop tonight or spend the night and I’d take then to his house tomorrow. This would make up for me not seeing the four of them on Christmas Eve and get the girls to their grandfather’s house for New Year’s Eve festivities. Pop and Aunt Judy take the grands for a family fun New Year at Frankenmuth every year. My cousin John’s daughter, Kendal, was the first teenager to say, “Not this year.” She’s only a year older than the girls, but she sees her grandmother a lot more than Tori and Rina see their Papa, so they may want to go and run babysitting duties for the younger kids a couple more years to have the time with Pop. We’ll see what happens when they start driving!

I got a text from Dave this morning while David and I were making breakfast to call if I was awake. It was 9:30 and I usually wake up at 7. Silly brother! When I called he said he wanted to change plans because of a weather advisory until 1 AM. I assured him I didn’t want any of us to be on the roads with an advisory. He’s gong to call Pop after his shift at Meijer is over to make evening plans for Monday or Tuesday and he’ll call and, update me.

So, now aside from a small errand, I get a free day I hadn’t expected! I’m going to do a little laundry and spend some data entry time with our card database. I got a Windows address book program that would work on both of our laptops. Now we are entering all of our Christmas card addresses. It’s a pretty big task! We ordered 75 of our family and friends cards and 75 train cards for each of us. We send one of each train card per envelope to our railfan pals, so we’re talking 150 cards-to-mail ordered, most of them used and only a few addresses that both cards go to, so there is a LOT of data entry to do in the new book. Unfortunately, the old data is on the Mac in a Mac-unique program, so I can’t just transfer the data and update. This new program is a Win-Mac program, so if I get the one written for the Mac too, the data will transfer. I’m going to do data entry for a while and then some Scrapbooking!

Speaking of Scrapbooking, I found a totally sweet freebie mini kit by Shelleyrae Designs at her blog. The kit is a perfect match for the centerpiece Grandma gave us for Christmas 2007 and last night I did a couple of pages for Christmas Day with it!

Credits: kit – Snowdrop by Shellyrae Designs,
Templates – Christmas Tree Templates by Digitalegacies Designs

That brings me to my Christmas week gift! The pair of templates I did for the layouts! Template one is in my usual multi-photo style with the large tree and snowflake sunken into the main paper. Template 2 is me stretching my style a bit. I’m not a big fan of white space layouts for me, but I realize that many people love to do them. I believe that you should give as a gift either something you would enjoy receiving as a gift yourself or something you absolutely know the receiver will enjoy, whether or not it’s your cup of tea. Since this set of templates is my Christmas gift, I’m serving both my ”cup of coffee” and many others‘ “cup of tea” together!

Click the preview to download
Password is Merry-Christmas

I’d love to read your comments here at The Chronicles of Nani, which is where I see them sooner and more often. What do you think about the embossed shapes for the background layers? Do you like a pair of templates with a white space and multi-photo page together?

Off to do an errand and get to work on data entry and more scrapping! I hope you’re all enjoying this holiday weekend!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shhh! It's Christmas Eve!

trains, M&Ms, cats, yeah, that's our tree all right!

Carla has been spending a lot of time looking out the back window which is the same window Kaline gazed out of looking for Santa Paws when she was a kitween. Carla didn’t get to watch for him in a nice warm house with a Christmas tree and pretty lights last year knowing that when it was time to sleep she’d be curling up under quilts in a bed with a Daddy and Mommy who loved her. The fact that she is not out in the snow alone makes this a special Christmas for her, but she and Kaline were chasing around by the tree and it really was playing just a little bit ago! Okay, maybe that gift is for David and me!

Here is our festive view from the dining room this Christmas Eve:

This view is why I prefer to keep the shades up at night during Christmas! Our tree and the neighbor across the street – It takes a village to raise the holiday cheer bar! It’s just such a gorgeous, warm view!

Tonight it ends up being just us at home. We were scheduled to go to the Motherland tonight when David got in from work to go to traditional fish fry at my cousin’s house and the back to Pop’s for coffee and gift exchange with my brother’s clan, but we got weather-scared out! We weren’t going to make it until after dinner anyway, which was okay, it’s the people not the food I go for. Fried fish in abundance usually leaves me looking for a snack because I haven’t eaten! I’ve never been a fan of fried fish, I just enjoy seeing my cousins and Uncle John, who I don't see that often. But the forecast at lunchtime said to expect freezing rain here about the time we were leaving until about 3 AM and starting up there just a little later. Well, we actually dodged that bullet in Ohio, but it sure is pink on the satellite in the Motherland right now! After pretty scary drive home last year, we weren’t going to disregard the forecast again. So, instead of fried fish, we had spaghetti and some nice time to spend with the cats who seem to know it’s a special night. They are playful, but peaceful at the same time. Even Baggle was playing with a mousie like he was a kitten!

We’ll be making arrangements to have dinner next week with my relatives that came in from San Marino. They’ll be in the States until just after the New Year and we have tentative plans for Saturday to meet Pop, Dave, Laura and Tori and Rina to have holiday dinner together and exchange gifts. I’m looking forward to that. I can’t tell you how much it hurt to hear that whine in Rina’s voice on the phone when I told her we couldn’t make it. No slight to my Brother or Sis, who I also don’t see often because they are in Indy with the girls too, but it just kills me not to get to see my Sweeties for Christmas! Fortunately the bad weather will be gone by the weekend and we’ll be able to see them. It’s also a bonus for me because I’ll pick up the last part of Dave and Laura’s gift Saturday morning!

I’m listening to the A Very Games Night Christmas 2009 CD that Sheri did for everyone again this year in my CD drive. David is using the outlet that usually powers the stereo for his computer so we can play games and sit together. I like his company even better than the good speakers! My picks that she put on this year’s CD were Away in a Manger by John Berry and Dru Hill’s This Christmas, which is playing now. David’s choice is the bawdiest tune on the album; Christmas Tree by Lady Gaga, the artist David calls his guilty pleasure.

I’m going to finish this blog entry off with a short, fun Meme I got from Kristine.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year?
• Acupuncture
• Some quiet time with David; no poker, no scrapbooking, no trains, just us.
• A new camera
• A case of Almondina
• Caribou Blend and Green Mountain Decaf French Roast K-Cups

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received?
• Grandma used to make sequined and embroidered felt calendars. I still have them in my cedar chest.

3. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?
• I realize I risk sounding disingenuous here, but I really don’t remember a specific gift that was measurably better than any others, I always had abundant and wonderful Christmases as a kid. It was more a feeling that every Christmas was the best yet. I think that love for the holiday and the people I share it with was the best gift I received as a child and still give and receive as an adult.

4. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year?
• Treats, toy mice, more treats and Carla wants more paper balls.

5. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays?
• I’ll say later because sometimes he reads this blog!

6. What is your favorite holiday movie?
• It’s a Wonderful Life

7. Favorite holiday song?
• Away In a Manger (I really like John Berry’s version), All I Want For Christmas (is a New Year With You) by Toby Keith

8. Favorite holiday pastime?
• Baking and entertaining

Well, time to cut into our crostada and some ice cream with hot cocoa for dessert and wait for Santa and midnight so we can put the baby in the manger and welcome the true magic that is the spiritual part of Christmas into our home.

Whatever part of the holiday season you hold and celebrate, on what is a very holy night for me, I want to wish you all the very best of what this season holds for you!

Goals and Projects for 2010

Christmas Eve Breakfast Still Life

Isn’t the photo cool? The photo isn’t all breakfast. Just one slice with coffee, but the full sliced quarter of the Panetonne looked better for the picture! That is a sample for my Project 365 in 2010. More about that later! I cut the huge Panetonne my Dad got me into quarters and wrapped up the other three to freeze. I’m the only one in our house who eats it, but the Panetonne brings back such sweet memories of Noni and the fact that she always made a special effort to find the ones without the candied oranges for Mom and me. It’s also quite tasty as a mildly sweet breakfast bread to the portion of my taste buds that are authentic San Marinese and a rather large and filling slice is only 310 calories!

This week’s Photoblog Wednesday was the final photo of Patch 365. No, we didn’t choose to go out to celebrate our first anniversary the night before for that reason, but it was a neat byproduct of the scheduling! So the book starts with our first married photo and ends with us celebrating our first anniversary with 52 weekly pages and some pretty cool extras in between. No, I’m far from done scrapping it. I have each week’s photos in a folder wi0th the notes for captioning them so I have the facts and memories recorded to catch up the scrapping as I can. But I think it’s going to be a pretty cool book to have on our coffee table recording the special days and the things that made the ordinary days special of our first married year!

I decided that I’d do a selfish project 365 this year and try something fun and a little artsy just for me. Now, I really do believe that scrapbooking is selfish, but in a giving way. It’s sort of like the great painters. They can be called selfish because they created works for their own fulfillment, their expression of what was inside of them. It just so happened that the beauty and emotion of their efforts touched many people and that beauty became a treasure and the mark, the legacy they left to the world. Isn’t a scrapbook the same thing? A well-done scrapbook is a beautiful piece of expressive art that becomes a cherished treasure to those with whom it’s shared. So for 2010, my Project 365 will be a special to me book when it’s done. If many years down the line it becomes a special look at me or a fun book for anyone else to look at, bonus! But the project is all for my own expression and nothing else, just for fun for me.

2010 will be my year of Java 365. I’m going to take a picture of coffee every day. It will most often be my coffee, but I’m not limiting myself to that, it could also be ambient shots of coffee shops or another Sapp Brothers water tower, something like that. It will usually be my coffee, but not just a photo of the cup – that would get boring. I’m going to set up still life presentations with the coffee, with a sweet roll or other accompaniment. I took a picture on the steam train trip we went on in October of my coffee on the window sill, obviously on a train with the countryside in the background, I’ll probably do holiday accents for the holiday coffee pics. I’m just going to have some fun with it.

As 2010 starts, I have 4 major goals I’m working on for the year. The first one is, of course, school! Spring semester starts January 8 and this term I’m taking an XHTML class, which is the first Network Security class. It’s a prerequisite to moist of the security certificate classes and a suggested prerequisite to the intro security class, which is part of the Networking certificate. In the fall, I’ll take the second Microsoft Server class, but rather than doubling up this semester, I’m going embark of major project number two, which is getting myself exam-ready for Network+ certification. I have a couple practice exams and I figure I’ll start with using one to really study and sign up to take the official exam when I can get a passing score with no notes or internet on the other. This will definitely keep me out of trouble and off the streets! I don’t like to be on the streets when it snows anyway!

Project number 3 is a recommitment to Wife 1500. I did not gain from Wedding day to first anniversary, but I didn’t lose much either. Like I’ve said before, it was an emotionally rough last half of the year, but there will always be challenges in life and I can’t allow myself to make them worse by using them as an excuse not to take care of myself. I’ve asked David to do a couple things to support me on this. First is not to skip dessert because I’m not sharing the same dessert. I’m lucky that he shares my taste for Jello as a lighter dessert, but if at the end of the day I don’t have adequate calories left for a piece of cake and/or ice cream, I want him to have it if he wants it. The surest way for me to not stick with my eating plan is if he’s not having things he wants because of it. He should NEVER feel bad if he’s having a brownie with ice cream when I’m having three strawberries with a tablespoon of chocolate!

The second thing he agreed to try to remember to do is recognize that if I’m eating something out of a bag or box and it’s not a measured portion in a bowl for a snack, something’s wrong and he should ask me about it. Even if I don’t want to talk about what’s bugging me, and in fact, I may not even realize that something is bugging me, it will call my attention to the bad-for-me habit and I’ll effect an immediate change in it!

My last major goal for 2010 is a scrapbooking goal. I am in 2007 in my scrapbooks. I am going to do a minimum layout a day to work on catching up. I start a new book at the beginning of the year, so I’m going to scrap 2010 in the now while I’m catching up the other three years. 365 layouts may not catch up three years if I do the minimum, but it will make a big dent! I average about 150 pages per year in my books. If I can start 2011 having made significant ground on the years that need caught up without adding another year to those files, it will make for a much more pleasant start!

So those are my ambitious plans for the first year of the new decade. Do you do goals or resolutions? What are some of your lofty plans? Hey, that’s probably a good first layout for 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photoblog Wednesday

One Year, December 23!

Last night we went out to Real Seafood Company to celebrate our first wedding anniversary!

Nani Soda

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Jones Soda. All opinions are 100% mine.

I wish ‘d heard abut this sooner because it would have been so awesome for our party! You know how highly I recommend Jones Soda especially their fantastic Jones Zilch sugar free, now there is myJones custom soda! That’s right, your choice of image can join all those fun photos on Jones Soda!

I checked out the flavors. Currently, the sugar free black cherry is in the list of available for customizing flavors, but I would have ordered a six pack each of the four holiday flavors, Evergreen Apple, Holiday Bliss, Snow Drift Cream Soda and Reindeer Root Beer for UNO and that picture on top is the one I’d choose for half the bottles, definitely the Reindeer Root Beer and one of the others with an equally holiday fun photo of David on the other two, and believe me, I do have equally fun photos of my hubby!

Now, it’s too late to do the holiday favors for UNO this year, Custom Jones Sodas need 10-14 days for production plus shipping, but imagine the possibilities. Wedding photos on the bottles for a 25th anniversary party, Childhood images for a graduation or birthday party, school time photos for a reunion, there are just too many things to count for which custom Jones Soda bottles would make a perfect addition to the party!

I think for now, I need to really consider one of those Jones Zilch samplers, but I definitely bookmarked the myJones page and really, you should too!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lunch Break

Who said black cats are only decoration at Halloween?

I’m still in my jammas, but it’s not at all because it’s a lazy day! Today is crostada day. There is much dough, rolling, flour all over the front of me on crostada day. I’m not the shower-dress-repeat type! So, today I’m baking in my jammas so the flour gets all over them and I don’t end up wanting to shower twice. Not that showering twice is that awful, but it’s a waste of water to shower twice when I knew to begin with that I’d be flour-covered!

I do need to be sure I’m dressed, war paint and everything, when David gets home because we’re going out tonight. It was 52 weeks ago today that I called Kelly and told her that David wasn’t my boyfriend anymore. The first of many fun ways we told people about our marriage! One year is actually tomorrow, but unlike last year, when David was working nights, so we could run out to the courthouse and get married with our other errands, we have a schedulke of normal things going on and toinight is a better night to celebrate our anniversary.

I’ve been a married woman for a year tomorrow. Wow. I really didn’t think I’d ever be with a guy long enough to get married at all, but here I am an “old married lady.” I guess he really does like me, huh? I kinda like him too!

Tomorrow, I’ll be going to see Grandma in the morning and stopping at Pop’s on the way back. I need to drop off the roaster part of his electric roaster that he sent the Thanksgiving turkey carcass home with me in to make soup because my cousin, Lisa, needs it for a warmer for Christmas Eve when she hosts the family fish dinner. My Aunt and Uncle and my cousin and his family will be getting into Detroit early tomorrow evening from San Marino for the holidays. I’m pretty excited about that! I see my Aunt a little more often, but not that often and I haven’t seen my cousin, Stefano, since before his kids were born and his son is one of my Facebook contacts! Dave, Laura and the girls will be at Pop’s later tomorrow. When I stop to drop off the roaster, I’m also dropping off four crostadas and a brownie tin. I usually bring Lisa a Davinities treat as a hostess gift, something for her family to enjoy after they host the party. I’m also bringing the two crostadas to add to the dessert options. The other two crostadas are for Pop and Dave. There is one more that’s staying home!

I’m dropping off because there is a chance David and I might not make it on Christmas Eve. We’re monitoring the weather forecasts closely. We won’t be there until after dinner anyway. They usually east around 5:30ish on Christmas Eve, which is about the time we’d be leaving after David gets out of work. There is the threat of a wintry mix, which would slow us down to getting there as everyone was leaving if it’s bad enough and we’d be turning around and driving through it again! I’m planning my grocery shopping for tomorrow afternoon with the thought of being home Christmas Eve in mind, but still hoping we can make it. If not, we’ll make plans to see my relatives from Europe this weekend and we’ll probably visit my brother’s family in Indianapolis in January. So, with the solid backup plans set, I wonder if Murphy will bother paying off Mother Nature to keep us home? I have NEVER been a big fan of Murphy and his silly laws anyway!

We have our Honey Baked Ham for Christmas dinner and I’m going to make scalloped potatoes and zucchini medallions to go with it. I think I’ll get some broth and use the homemade capelletti Pop gave me for a soup course too. Christmas is usually a quiet and private day for us. By then we’ve spent the revelry days with David's side of the family, my side and our friends for the UNO party and a nice day, just us and the cats, is very peaceful!

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a lot more homemade gifts this year. I say that because the baking aisle at the grocery stores seems to be clearing out much quicker than usual at this time of year! The crostadas are much fluffier than usual because the store was out of all purpose flour! I made a couple of little tartlets with some of the leftover dough so I could try the consistency and flavor of the crust. There’s really no difference in taste but they seem lighter. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I’ll see what the others who taste it think.

The last crostada is ready to go in the oven and three and four just came out. Since the last of the flour all over Nani part is done and they take 40 minutes to bake, I’m going to shower and dress now and pop the last one in the oven when I come back downstairs.

And then, The 2009 Davinities are done!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Capturing The Season

I’m just stopping in before I venture out into the snow. Oh, there’s not a lot of it, not like some will be getting tonight (Poor Edna!) But when it’s not really melting, it’s rough walking! I’d stay in, but tonight is out party and while we’ll stop at the Kroger right next to the restaurant for sodas before we get back for UNO and dessert, we’ve planned a balloon release ceremony for John before dinner for anyone who can get here early, before dark. I really thought about not doing the balloons and rescheduling that, but I really want to do it tonight when we are all together and for Christmas. John loved Christmas. It was one time of year that he could be his generous self and no one tried to advise him against his own nature! He also always thought the balloon ceremonies were very special and he always tried to make a point of being there when we did one for a tribute people or pets. It really is especially fitting that we have one for him. I did all the research and even though the mylar balloons may shrink a bit, they will still float up to heaven when we release them. So, I will venture out into mall insanity to get a Christmas balloon for him.

Other than that errand that I need to do, I’m pretty much ready to go. All the dessert trays are done, the candy assortment mixed and the bowls full. We got the tree up and lights on it, but the ornaments will be after the party but before Christmas. I had a couple of very late nights getting things done and I was tired and cranky this morning and was a bit upset about the cleaning and decorating not being perfect and declared this was the last year I’d do the party. I’m still not happy about it, but it would just kill me not to have it anymore. This really is an important event to me. I’m going to be a little naggier next year about taking time off of poker and scrapping before Thanksgiving to get the cleaning done. Well, I’m gonna try to be a nag anyway!

Week four in Capture the Season has begun. I’ll be taking my photos and recording some quotes tonight for the week 3 layout, so I’m technically not behind in being ahead there. It’s just that my subject for week three didn’t happen until week three was over. That happens sometimes with scrapping in the now!

What I do have to share is finally week two! Here are the instructions for week two:

Assignment # 2: The How

The use of evergreen trees, boughs and wreaths around Christmas has its roots in ancient festivals celebrating the return of the sun at the Winter Solstice, affirming the ongoing cycle of life. These meanings and symbols have evolved through history as cultures have interpreted them in connection with their own traditions and beliefs. Use images of your home’s holiday d├ęcor to explore the personal meaning of traditions in your family.

My week two is not so much the things you see that transform our home into a holiday home, but the things you smell and as result, feel. It’s a little bit introspective, but I think it’s a good bit of introspect to document too!

Here is the layout I did for Capture the Season, Week 2.

Home for the Holidays

Credits – Deck the Halls by Skrapper Digitals,
November Template by MamaBee, Word art by Bele15,
Christmas alpha by NorthernStarCa

When we think about decorating the house for Christmas, the first things that come to mind are the lights, the tree, the wreaths and garland, the things we see with our eyes. But holiday tradition and the things that create Christmas in our homes often affect more than one of the senses in creating vibrant memories. The journaling was very important to explain how a 36-year-old double boiler is such an important part of the holiday transformation in our home!

Attitude is everything and if you look for it, you can always find the peace you need, for me, even in a dented old pot or a messy house. No matter what, it’s the holidays and the smiles of Christmas past hold us up in the bustle of Christmas present to create the memories that will warm us in Christmases future.

Okay, break time is over. I MUST suck it up and venture out with the crazies at the shopping center for my balloons!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Break Time..s

I’m taking a break from the second round of baking to rest up my knee. My knee gets sore. It happens. I break up what I’m doing and rest it so I can do more. It works pretty well for me and I can do almost as much as ever for getting holiday ready. Yes, I’m sore by the end of a few batches of cookies or washing the dishes and vacuuming needs to be done one room at a time, but I do okay and the soreness goes away while I’m resting and taking in the accomplishment, be it a tray of brownies or a sparkling dining room. That’s my optimist’s approach to the holidays.

I also have a wonderful man who put this roof over my head while I’m educating myself to start a new career and vacuums before he leaves for work when it’s crunch time before a party! David is awesome. I tell him that but I don’t know if I shout it from the rooftops as often as I should. I overheard him bragging about my baking to a friend on the phone and it made me feel so good. I guess I hadn’t even thought about it but he even describes my cookies and knows the Davinities names I give them. I guess that’s true with a lot of relationships. You find out just how awesome your significant other thinks you are when you hear what they say about you to their friends. If I’m so great, we’re a very lucky pair because we have mutual greatness! It’s always good for a relationship when each partner believes they are the one who got lucky. That’s when they’re both right!

Okay, let me tell you about the photo. First off, cats are supposed to sleep 17 hours a day. That’s what the average cat does. Carla is SO not average! I was talking to her earlier when she was looking out in the direction of the entrance to the dining room like she was expecting Kaline to come in and growl at her because she was jello-catting all over me. Jello Cat is what I call her when I pick her up. It’s like she just lets her muscles stop and trusts you not to drop her. It’s like trying to hold Jello. Jello-catting is when she does that and kinda slithers all over you. I promised her that Kaline and Baggle were asleep somewhere because cats need the sleep and why was she always awake? She played a little more while I was switching brownie pans in the kitchen and came back for another cuddle. Then she sprawled in between my laptop and external keyboard and NOW she’s sleeping. She’s just enough on the keyboard that if I take the base of my hands off it, it rises up just a touch.

Peace is coming to the world of cats here. Kaline and Carla still scuffle a little, but I think there’s more play than hostility in it now. Last night Kaline was trotting through a room Carla was in and hissed lightly without looking at her as if to say, “Busy Sis, but I’ll come hiss at you later.” It’s not quiet and soothing yet, but Kaline is calming down and beginning to come back to normal. The other night, David went down for a middle-of-the-night juice and found Kaline on the couch on the way back upstairs. He brought her up and put her on my hip where she stayed for a while, even after Carla came back to the room. They can even sit inches apart and both purr now. Baggle seems pleased with all of this, but he still wants the number of treats they were all getting when no one got along!

I just took the second batch of brownies out of the oven. Two more brownies and Mr. Goodcookies to go for the first part of the day. We went to Connecticut last weekend for Christmas with the East part of the family and Davinities Brownie Madness was very well accepted. When I first met David’s family it was for Christmas and I asked David how many homes we’d visit so I could bring Davinities for the family. When it was said, in between “mmms!’ that I obviously had lots of time on my hands, I said it was my holiday labor of love and was told not to stop! I haven’t and I always look forward to bringing Davinities with me when we go to David’s “home for the holidays.”

We left New York City early on Tuesday morning, hoping to avoid rush hour. We kinda did. It was still crowded on the city streets, but it’s ALWAYS crowded on the streets in New York! Fortunately, once we got to the freeway, everyone was headed into the city and we were headed out. Looking at the parking lot on the other side of the median, I was glad we weren't headed in! After a few grocery stops to search for scrapple and my elusive panetonne without candied oranges, we headed fairly straight home. The weather was not train weather. We did find the scrapple in Pennsylvania, a different brand than we usually get but it was very good when we had it for breakfast Wednesday morning.

I found my big box of Baci in the former Harmon Deli, but while I found panetonne in a few places, I couldn’t find it with just raisins. I found a small Pandoro, which is panetone with no fruit in it at all. I had that for breakfast this morning, but my Dad is getting me the large one from his Italian store so I have my annual fix of Italian breakfast bread! Now, when I got Dad that prosciutto end from my Italian store, where they don’t charge full price for ends, all I asked him for was some of the minestrone he was making and a date to learn how to make it with him the next time I bought him an end, but I’m getting the panetone as a trade for that and still getting the minestrone – bonus! I don’t really need to do a minestrone cooking day with him. I watched Noni make it and learned how the same way he did, but we have a great time when we cook together and it makes for a good excuse for Nani-Popsie time!

---break for frosting brownies. Please enjoy this photo of my fireplace!

Isn’t my fireplace great? Rite Aid for $3.99 and the computer or TV becomes a fireplace with crackling fire sounds or classical or Christmas music with the natural fireplace sounds. I used to have a Holiday Yule Log VHS tape that got lost in the move, but the only VHS deck I have is hooked up to my transfer suite upstairs. I found that the little $250 piece of equipment is the reason my video business lasted almost a year at all! Transferring VHS to DVD was a popular service. Now it’s a contract that I take once in a while.

I have all the brownies baked now, 2 of them frosted and decorated. I won’t have the Mr. Goodcookies done by the time David gets home, but I’ll get then done tonight after we put up the tree and finish the cards. It’s been a hectic and kinda stressful end of the year and we’re a bit behind on things, but if we get the tree and cards done and I get the cookies finished tonight, we’ll be back on schedule! YAY!

Tomorrow is UNO and The Fabulous Dessert Bar! I have a grocery list for the sodas, chips and a veggie tray for tomorrow morning. Then there is getting the sweets trays done and if time permits, I’ll do a crostada. The big traditional thing with the Crostadas is the relatives gathering on Christmas Eve. I usually give one to Pop and Aunt Judy and one to Dave and his family. I bring a hostess gift for my cousin too and this year, since my Aunt and Uncle and cousin and his family from San Marino will be here. I think I might bring an extra crostada to add to the desserts since all three of Noni’s kids will be together for Christmas and my crostada is my best effort to duplicate Noni’s. Those things and gift wrapping are Monday-Tuesday things next week, so I might feel tired, but I’m pretty close to on schedule. Wednesday will be the groceries for Christmas dinner for David and me. My back is sore but my heart feels good!

Okay, now I have time to scrap a page before David gets home while my back and knee rest!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photoblog Wednesday

The Smell of Home for the Holidays!

This is part of the notes and photos I‘ve collected for week 2 of Capture the Season. I’m hoping to get the layout done this week and you’ll understand how Krisp Kringles are a big part of traditional “decorating” for me!

I'm Growing My Own Cereal

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Wheat Food Council. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of the cool things David and I get as an added bonus of railfanning is seeing lots of great American agriculture. We see the plants sprout and grow and watch the harvests. It’s very cool! I just checked out a site called How Wheat Works where anyone can visit and learn about those amber waves of grain.

The site gives you a “Farm to Fork” lesson about wheat through an interactive wheat field you grow. Harvest and make food with. Through the program, the Wheat Foods Council not only teaches about their very versatile food staple, but the give back. For every person who signs up and grows a virtual field of wheat, they’ll donate a real 2 pounds of wheat flour to OperationHomefront.net, which provides assistance to US Troops and their families in need.

As a virtual wheat farmer, you’ll get to choose wheat to grow and harvest. There are 6 basic types of wheat. I didn’t know that! I just thought, wheat is wheat, ya know? I’m growing soft red winter wheat with the plan to make cereal in my virtual what field! My soft wheat is also used to make pita bread and of course, that means pita chips to go with my red pepper hummus! It’s such a Nani crop! If you are growing one of those Facebook farms, how can you resist this? It’s an opportunity to farm, learn and give back!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Scrapping Cheer and a Freebie!

Merry Christmas in Italian
From It’s Christmas All Over The World by Digitalegacies Designs
Available at Discount Digi Designs

Now I’m getting to the point of balancing my ambitious plan to continue doing a layout a day during Christmas Crunch Time and taking the valuable tips from Capture the Season to heart! I have a ton of notes for this week’s layout for Capture the Season, which is focusing on the changes you make in your home to prepare for the holidays. We have our new tree, but we haven’t put it up yet, so I don’t have the photos I planned to take! Also, my journaling notes are NOT about the tree. They are about a different annual change in our home that hit me when I was making the Davinities. So, I believe there are two major things that change our home into a Christmas home and that will probably be a two-pager in the Christmas part of my scrapbook for 2009. I’m still going to work on that when I get a chance, but since the tree won’t be up until just after week three starts, I won’t have it done early! But stay tuned! I do still plan to get it done “in the now” and I’ll share it when it it’s complete!

When David got in last night I asked, “Poker?” That means I asked him if it was an online poker night for him, which Wednesdays often are. The great thing about that is that while he plays poker, I do the Speed Scrap at Designs in Digital. I was very busy with baking and gift stuff yesterday and hadn’t done my layout for the day yet. Speed Scraps are a great opportunity to fulfill that commitment! So last night I did a Christmas Day page from last year.

Credits: Under The Mistletoe by Gone Scrappin’ Designs,
Holiday Sugar Cookie Blog Train contributions from AliSarah Designs
and Litabells Designs and Gingerbread Christmas by Desertgirl Designs

Christmas is usually a combination of a trip east to celebrate with David’s family, a trip north to celebrate with my family and a quiet day for just us on Christmas Day. That was especially nice last year since we got married two days before Christmas. David worked the night shift on the day we got married and there were last minute stops and dinner with my family on Christmas Eve. It was especially nice to have some time for a nice dinner at home n the good plates and wine out of Mom’s crystal. It’s going to be two pages. The dinner page and another with the tree and gift time, but I need to wait until we u the tree up this year. We got a first married Christmas ornament when we were in Connecticut last year, before we were married, so it had to be kept a secret! It’s a frame ornament and I slipped one of the photos I picked up on Christmas Eve into it, the one the judge took of us at the courthouse. I could have sworn I took pictures of that ornament on the tree. I really thought I did, but, there are no pictures of the ornament in my Christmas file! Things were a little involved last year, but in a really good way!

There will be one more Speed Scrap before Christmas. There won’t be one on the 23, because everyone figures to be busy with Christmas prep. David and I are making plans to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, so I don’t think I’d make that one anyway!

There is a great bloghop scheduled for this weekend with the SAS designers! Like last year, they are doing Christmas song inspired mini kits, which were awesome last year, so be on the lookout! If you haven’t stopped at Veelana’s blog lately, why not? She’s giving away gifts from her advent calendar that coordinate with her Jultid kit every day. Be sure to check that out!!

While I’m talking about my favorite designers, the ones I‘m so fortunate to create for, remember when I mentioned Darlene’s Dear Santa kit? Well, she sent me the kit to play with! Here is a two-pager I did for UNO and the Fabulous Dessert bar 2007.

Credits: Kit – Dear Santa by Darlene Haughin,
Blocks template by Digitalegacies Designs

We had a good turnout in 2007 because Christmas Eve was Monday, so we had an additional three nieces from out of town. There were lots of pictures, many that only differed slightly, but I wanted to make sure I got all of the people in the layout, so I created the blocked templates and with the help of some of the elements in Dear Santa placed over and under them, it gave a nice 3D look!

That brings us to the Freebie!! I said before that when I was selling, my templates were definitely my best sellers. I love working with templates too and often make a template as I’m designing my pages. This was one of those times. I made the template first and then tweaked it as I needed to fit my photos. I often customize templates a little to suit my photos and journaling, but boy, what time savers they are to get you started!

On the Blocks template set, I used one color for photos and one for papers. I didn’t even really stick to my own template! Also, on these ones, I left the grids on them; just turn them back on in the PSD file. With the grids, you can resize any of the bocks to fit your own photos and elements and stay within the placement and sizing of the blocking. Here’s a hint too – you can also copy the grid onto a new document and use it to create your own blocked layouts from scratch!

click preview to go to download page
password – drawfour

I’d love to hear any comments, preferably here since I don’t check the 4shared comments too often, but I do eventually read all the comments you leave! If you use the templates on a layout, I’d love to see them! Send me a link in comments or at thechroniclesofnani.gmail.com.

Now, it’s back to baking, cleaning, decorating and gift-finding!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Photoblog Wednesday


Although the chair in the kitchen was put there so I could get off my knee from time to time while cooking, Baggle and Carla seem to think it a kitty seat at the hamburger bar!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Baking Day

Mmm... Fresh out of the oven Mr. Goodcookies!

This is officially holiday baking Day 1. It’s break time after finishing the Mr. Goodcookies. I’ll have some soup for lunch and then go on to start the first batch of brownies. This year, in addition to the Davinities staples, Krisp Kringles and Mr. Goodcookies, the sweet theme is Brownie Madness! There will be four different gourmet brownies. I bake in segments so everything is fresh when presented. I give or serve Davinities in three places. UNO and the Fabulous Dessert Bar, which is the Saturday before Christmas and for two family gatherings, one in Michigan and one in Connecticut. I’ll bake the same Davinities twice and then I do a pair of Crostadas twice. I’ve been taking some pictures along the way too!

The greatest thing I’m getting for the Capture the Season assignments is remembering to take pictures of the little things, the steps in between. I have a digital camera. It’s not like I’m wasting film! A long time ago, I read in the Mensa magazine the greatest tip for taking fantastic vacation pics– shoot like there’s no film and don’t be afraid to throw away the runners up. That was the hardest part for me. I have a strange, almost ancient Native American, feeling about pictures of people. It’s almost like throwing the person away! Thanks to digital, I can use the best photos, throw them all on a CD, date it and store it. You never know when you’ll want to resurrect those memorable goofy-faced photos that you didn’t use in the scrapbook or when a major physical change will warrant fishing out those less flattering photos for a stellar before and after. Think about weight-loss or gain, the braces/glasses that flared from the flash or too long hair unkempt and in a face would even be a good one to use after a new coif. So throwing all the photos whether or not I use them on a storage CD works for me. I can usually fit a full year of taking tons of pictures on a storage formatted DVD. I also pay a LOT less for all those shots, take more and get better “keepers!”

So, here is the result of shopping for holiday baking:

And here are some of the fruits!

I got a knock on the door while I was making the Mr. Goodcookies. It was a knock and then gone before I could put they tray I’d just taken out of the oven down. That’s the way deliveries are made, especially at this time of the year! UPS knocks so you come to the door if you’re home, but the package is left on the doorstep. Today was the first of my online treasures to arrive this year. I won’t go into details because, as my friend, Edna noted on her blog, you never know who is reading!

I love cyber-shopping! My knee and back walking problems notwithstanding, it beats battling traffic and crowds in the stores, hoping to find what you seek from the bin of picked over merchandise. From the special gift I could only find in Virginia a couple of years ago to gift cards from stores they don’t have at Giant Eagle, the world is my Mall and I can bake or scrap while I shop! I was reading a customer review for the item that came in today and was a bit confused at one comment. The commenter said it was a great item, but one he would NOT buy online because he bought one in the store and most of the ones they had were scratched and one was even broken. That was certainly enough to tell me it was something I’d ONLY buy online. Direct from the warehouse to me with no one else looking through all of them and scratching them up. I took this out of the box and it’s perfect, no scratches! I have a little more I’m planning to add to it, but I can’t wait to give it!

Taste of the season!

I know if David reads this, he’ll comment to me that it’s ALWAYS pumpkin season for me. Not true! Pumpkin is a fall through about the middle to end of January. That’s about when the stock of seasonal stuff I’ve collected dries up, but it’s special because it’s NOT always pumpkin season! There are just some things that are especially good when they have that seasonal tag on them. After groceries yesterday, I had my McEggnog Shake. I may have another one, but I really have to have just one to feel official about it. The McDonald’s Eggnog shakes aren’t like pumpkin spice coffee, but I sure like them! Eggnog is one of those flavors that is really a just for a couple weeks flavor craving. I do like the real thing, but an eggnog FLAVORED shake has far less cholesterol than that yummy concoction that I don’t want to see made!

Okay, now it’s brownie time! I’ll check in a bit later.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Mug Shot

Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This Mug is from Stratford, Ontario. Stratford was a favorite vacation spot many times after that first trip with Mom just before I turned 16. Dream, as the play is abbreviated in the play schedules and nicknamed was one of the plays I saw the first time I was there. That time it was at the Third Stage Theater, where the younger, less experienced but no less talented actors played. I saw it again at the main Stratford Theater a few years later. I’ve also seen it played outdoors at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. I’ve also watched several television and movie productions in color and black & white and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it. It’s easily my very favorite Shakespeare play.

It’s a comedy with fan6astic subplots that all join together in the end for the finale. I love the fact that William Shakespeare’s work is timeless. I’ve seen the play set in classic Elizabethan style and interpreted in several different eras and countries. I think part of what makes Shakespeare’s work so timeless is that so much of the modern day entertainment world built from that core of theater and comed7y. When I think of the comedians I like so much, they have in common the ability to carry a joke all the way through the act, whether it’s a good comedy movie that still has a solid plot or a really good stand-up routine, that very Shakespearean ability to bring everything together for a grand finish is key to leaving a lasting impression on me.

Think about it. A Midsummer Night’s Dream combines the world of fairies with regular people, sort of like witches and wizards with muggles. The comedy of an enchantment that gives a mortal an appearance that frightens his friends, yet he doesn’t know why they are frightened. I’ve seen that in Bewitched, Sabrina, even an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And of course, all of this mischief surrounds the fact that the Queen of the fairies had taken a shining to a mortal and the King of the fairies was jealous. Now that’s a theme that’s pretty much everywhere in entertainment… and many of the actors, even real life.

So, thus mug in particular, doesn’t give me a specific memory, but a culmination of them. It’s my favorite Shakespeare Play, done in my favorite colors, but it’s to me, a simple reminder of how all parts of history repeat themselves with a modern twist, but the really bad and the really good always come back in a new form. I’m happy because my Bard will live forever!

I’m leaving you with a bonus video in the Mug Shot this week. The timeline only goes one way, but oh, if time travel was possible and we could bring today’s culture back….

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Bragging CT

This is from last year - need to get a new one with the shorter hair!

I create for and have created for in the past some wonderful designers. A bug part of my philosophy in life is that surrounding yourself with quality creates quality in you. I still remember the warm smiles last year when I gave the family history books to my brother and cousins. Everyone was sitting down with their books and sharing them with their spouses and kids. That’s where I believe that giving is not completely self-less. I couldn’t pay someone enough to buy the way I felt inside. They were great gifts and the quality from Darlene Haughin, RC Mama Designs, Beckie Wallace, Tirza’s Treasures, Veelana Designs and the host of other designers whose purchased and free kits with kits designed by me, Digitalegacies Designs, all made that great gift and wonderful feeling possible.

Yeah, I tend to get warm and fuzzy in general at this time of year. Well, okay, there are those who say I’m warm and fuzzy at ANY time of the year!

I wanted to do some CT cheerleading, something for which I am also known! First off, Scrap Bird is celebrating its first birthday this month! They have some great games and freebies and the whole store is 45% off! They have great designers; of course, Darlene and Veelana both sell there! But in addition to my bias, there are other talented ladies with whom I worked before I retired from professional designing. Believe me, a 45% off sale is an EXCELLENT opportunity to try out a new designer!

At Stone Accents Studio, also where both of “my” designers sell, there is much holiday bustle! Darlene is busy working on the upcoming bog train. The Christmas Carol Blog Hop starts December 11. I was so busy last year that I didn’t get to take advantage of too many of the sweet mini kits when they were free, but I’m going to try to have some time this year. We’ll see how bogged down I get with baking! While Darlene is busy with the blog hop details, be sure to check out the sales in her SAS store! Christmas favorites like Dear Santa and Frosty are on sale as well as some of her other kits!

Veelana has a wonderful new kit at SAS!

Jultid is classic Christmas shades with silver, which gives a very classy touch! She is doing an advent calendar freebie on her blog right now with a new freebie created with Jultid every day until Christmas! Definitely visit Vee’s blog if you haven’t yet. The brag book pages are just stunning!

While I was working on some pages with the new kit, I couldn’t help but play a little. I came up with a Jultid freebie to share too!

Click the preview to go to the download
Password is holiday-stories

You all now how much I like to talk, well, talk in the written sense, so my freebie is a few places to journal a little to go with the spectacular pages you’ll create with Jultid!

Jultid is on sale at SAS for 25% off its already low price!

Well, now I’m off to have breakfast and continue work on getting the house spruced up for decorating and entertaining and getting my shopping lists ready for Monday. I’ll still find scrap-time too. I’m sticking with my page-a-day commitment. This time next year, I hope to be scrapping 2010, not 2007!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Crunch Time Has Officially Begun

I turned in my last assignments this morning and my semester is complete. Now, I am a couple weeks of school behind on my Christmas stuff. Yikes! But I’ll manage.

The biggest crunch of everything is cleaning the house up and getting it ready. The kitchen counters will get a good scrub, but I’m not going to do the grout with the DT this year. That’s too time consuming and hard enough on the back without rushing it! So, no dead toothbrush scrubbing tiny circles in between the 1950’s design tile counter this year. That will make up some time!

We haven’t seen snow yet. I’m okay with that! This afternoon was an odd weather thing for me. I heard the rain. It was just a few windy pelts on the window, so I pulled up the shade. It was raining right next to us, but not on us. I looked out the front at our street and I could see the line where the street was getting wet, then it stopped. That was pretty cool!

The neighbors across the street and next door have some great lights up already and that prompted David to say that he might want to throw some lights on our bushes. I’m not die-hard on the outdoor lighting because where our tree sits, you can see the lights from the street and I spend as little time outside in the winter as I can, so I don’t see the outside of our house much at this time of year. But I totally enjoy the neighbor across the street’s lights from our living room, so I think it would be nice to return the spirit.

We want to get a new tree this year. We had one of those prelighted ones, but a huge chunk is burned out and we filled it in last year with a string of lights. It was more wires than ornaments I think! We do still have that tree just in case. I’d rather use it again than not have a tree if we don’t get a new one. But I’m definitely going to add getting a tree to our schedule. Maybe we can do that when we get our ornament for 2009.

I have baking and one meal to plan. I’ve been picking up a few of the sweets I serve at UNO and the Fabulous Dessert Bar, but I haven’t heard back from anyone yet, so I’ll be sending out the second email tonight or tomorrow with the RSVP request.

Did you see the picture at the top of the blog? Pumpkin Spice Almondina! Almondina are delicious cookies that I enjoy munching for a quick snack when I’m multitasking. I don’t have to cook or prepare them and they are low in calories too. 4 of the thin cookies are only 120 calories. They’re also great dipped in my coffee. They’re kinda pricey, but SO worth it! I hadn’t seen the pumpkin spice ones before, almonds and pumpkin seeds with fall spies, oh my! I found them when I was getting a prosciutto end for Pop. MY Italian store deeply discounts the ends while HIS charges full price. So I’m his supplier. Sofo is on the way, sorta, to his place, so I called ahead and asked them to hold the end they had for me. Good thing I called too. The guy right in front of me in line asked about the ends and they said they sold the last one already. That was to me, on the phone! Pop asked how much he owed me for it and I told him I just wanted some of the minestrone…and a day to spend cooking with him to learn how to make it!

One of the other things I’m working on is my Wife 1500 plan for January. Now, my wedding outfit still fits, but it’s not loose like I wanted it to be. My anniversary is three weeks from yesterday! The past few months have been hard on me and food was the last thing I was thinking about. For me, that’s key for controlling what I eat and losing weight. I have to think about food all the time. Sounds a little different, huh? But I need to think about what I’m eating and plan what I’m going to eat all the time. That keeps me planning and eating good tasting food in proportions and variety that are good for me. If I don’t think about food, I pop things in my mouth and don’t even realize I’m doing it. That’s how I am an emotional eater. When my mind is obsessed with something else, I don’t think about doing what’s right for me. For the Holidays this year, I am going to concentrate on food during the week and plan what I’m going to eat the day before and let myself relax on the weekends. I find that I can’t totally relax from the food obsession on the weekends once I’m in the swing of it and that’s good too!

Capture the Season

I wanted to share a layout I wasn’t supposed to have done. When I asked in comments about Capture the Season at Simple Scrapper about the template and if it was a tool or if we had to use it, I got a reply that it was a tool and the program itself was a tool to gather things to scrap in January. Hmmm…. In January, I’ll still be scrapping 2007. I try to do a layout a day in my catching up plan. I wanted to do Capture the Season to document some of this year while it is still happening. That’s ultimately my goal, to catch up and be able to scrap in the now, while the memories are still fresh and complete. So, I’m going to bend the rules a little. Can you imagine? Me? Bend the rules?? Perish the thought!

Stop by Simple Scrapper and join in for Capture the Season. The tips for collecting your thoughts to scrap when you have time are great for any time of year and wonderful if you want to collect thoughts and supplies for a wonderful crafting day in January too. But I’m doing the assignments in real time and sharing my layouts with you to encourage you to check out the great tips they have. Maybe you’ll find that keeping up with the program is more than you want to do while you are doing other holiday things, but give it a read anyway. You might find a few things that will make your scrapping easier and better moving forward!

So, here’s the assignment for week one from the site.

“The cornucopia is an ancient symbol of abundance and is a common image around the time of Thanksgiving. Share what is in your personal cornucopia basket this year with at least 4 photos of what is important in your life. Use a list format to detail all the goodness that fills your life with joy and love.”

Keep in mind the actual rules are to collect things to work on them in January. For me it keeps me motivated for my holiday planning and work, to take some time out to scrap the small stuff so I don’t sweat the small stuff. I just enjoy all the small stuff in a big way!

Here’s my first layout made with parts of the Pumpkin Pie Spice blog train from last year. Yes, I guess I do love anything pumpkin. Hmm….

Credits: Pumpkin Pie Spice blog train kits
from Eden Lane Designs and SPinkD

Be sure to check out Capture the Season at Simple Scrapper!



Simple Scrapper