Christmas cards in a mini book.

Last year’s holidays were pretty tough, with my Grandpa passing away a week before Christmas.  But one of the things that brightened my holidays (last year and every year) was receiving Christmas cards in the mail.
Even though it seems like every year, the Christmas cards pile gets smaller and smaller, I still love opening my mailbox and seeing red and white envelopes, or handwritten addresses, and checking to see who sent us a card.  Nothing will ever beat sending smiles through the mail!
I’ve wanted to create one of these books every year, but for many reasons it got put off.  This year, (reminding myself that my OLW is complete!),  I left the cards on the wall until I was able to collect them, punch them with my Cinch, and bind them.


There were a few cards that I didn’t want to punch directly into (because it would punch through people’s faces, cut off text, etc.), so I adhered these to scrapbook paper and then punched the paper.  SUPER EASY!
 

I decorated the backs of the cards, to cover up some of the pre-printed text on the cards.  Nothing fancy, or complicated, just a few stickers and embellishments.  Let’s not overthink it!
 
And now I have this beautiful book to flip through!  I’m pretty dang proud of myself for a) finally completing something I’ve wanted to for a few years, b) keeping is simple and not complicating it (I do that a lot), and c) DONE!

Here’s a tip: If you don’t have a Cinch or binding machine, you can always use rings or maybe even some string to tie it together.  Keep it simple!

xoxo

story: our little Murphy


 Age: approximately 10+ years old (actual birth date unknown).
Named after: Murphy’s Law
Nicknames: Murphster Butt, Old Man Murphy, Mischief Murph, Bunicula
Likes (past and current): (lots and lots of) yogurt treats, pizza crust, running down long hallways, breaking into the scrapbook room, pulling up the carpet, antagonizing the dog, chewing on Black Friday ads, bananas, and dirty laundry.
Dislikes: tile or non-carpet flooring, vet visits, being picked up, getting special care, carrots (ha ha yes, I know, a bunny that doesn’t like carrots),  and Timothy hay (although he kind of likes it a bit now, he very much disliked it for lots of years).

Our Murphy.  He is our first furry child (together) and is our oldest baby (although Cocoa might be a close second).  I love this little guy so damn much!  Seeing him growing older has been really tough, but he is such a happy bunny that’s it hard to be upset when you’re around him.  He is the happiest when he is running around, being free, getting in trouble, receiving lots of TLC, and eating treats.

He’s a strong little thing and has survived several serious health issues: getting neutered, a hair impaction, a serious eye infection, and teeth issues. Bunnies are really tender creatures and can literally die from being over-stressed.  Yet he has also been through lots of moves, trips back and forth from Chicago to Sandwich, and lots of vacuum episodes, and has made it through. He helped teach us lots of what we now know about bunnies, and their mannerisms, diet, etc.   My favorite thing to do is pet him with my foot while I’m working at the table.  He loves us unconditionally.

Nearly 8 years of being together with our little Murphy has been AMAZING, but it’s been a tough few weeks. He’s been having lots of teeth issues and his appetite has severely decreased.  While it is so hard to even process what this means for our little Murphy, I have to remind myself how many amazing memories we have with him,  and how many adventures he has been on.  As Alex said, there will never be another bunny like Murphy.  Nor would we want one.


xoxo

story: two days with my sisters.

In an effort to remember the details, I will be documenting certain stories here on my blog to revisit later when I want to scrapbook them.  You can read more about that here.
This is the story of a weekend with my sisters.
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Over Labor Day weekend, the stars aligned and something magical happened.  My two sisters and I, under one roof, getting along AND laughing…my Grandma would be so proud.  Of course, there was some bickering and arguing before they arrived at my home for a sleepover on Friday.  There always has to be some arguing in every family happening, doesn’t there?  But at the end of the day, I still texted my sister Jen saying “You are always welcome at my house.”  And at the end of the day, Kristy and Jen still arrived at my apartment, ready for some quality time together.  It seems like magic that we were all together at once because just a few years ago, Kristy lived in Texas, and therefore, wasn’t around for lots of the memories made.  Also because Jen has a tough work schedule, in which she works every weekend.  But, like I said, the stars aligned, and we were all together under one roof.

This weekend, I laughed so hard, harder than I remember laughing in a long time.  (I’ve been doing more of that lately, and I love it).  It was that uncontrollable, can’t-talk-or-even-breathe-because-you-are-laughing-so-hard type of laugh.  It was amazing.  On Friday, we hung out at home, eating frozen pizzas, and watching home videos of my Grandma.  Or me, rather, because that’s what it turned into.  And Kristy and Jen quickly got bored of watching home videos of me during my ROTC days (I have no idea WHY that would bore them! 🙂  Jen spent lots of time around Cocoa and Cocoa would not let Jen out of her sight.  (I really don’t remember the last time Cocoa had seen Jen (due to her work schedule), but it had been a long time).  We scrapbooked while Kristy did some beadwork, then made a late night trip to Michael’s before they closed.  The weather outside was beautiful.  At Michael’s, we wandered around, laughing uncontrollably about this or that.  People probably thought we were crazy!  Kristy held up a skeleton.  I can’t even remember at this point what even prompted her to hold this up, but Jen and I laughed just the same.  It didn’t matter what she said.  In the end, we purchased some beads, a new *Smash book for Jen, and (finally) an on-the-go adhesive for me.  Then back to scrapbooking.  I stayed up the latest I have in a long time: 12:00 AM.

The next morning, Saturday, we hung around the house, baked strawberry cupcakes in honor of Jen’s belated birthday, and talked.  There was slight tension that morning, but nothing serious.  I’m coming to realize with my family that we bring out the best in each other when we spend shorter spans of time together.  We get along for so long, and then have to go our separate ways.  After hanging around the apartment for a while, finishing the cupcakes, and realizing we weren’t going to make the trip to the post office we planned, which closed at 2 PM, we went to Target for gummy bears and deodorant.  Not making the post office put us on less of a time constraint, more freedom means less tension.  WIN!  We wandered around crowded Target for a while, first stopping at the Dollar Spot (always the first stop in Target), then wandering around looking at various things.  My absolute favorite time is spent when I have nowhere to be and nothing to do.

After Target, we stopped at our local Goodwill.  Going thrifting is mutually one of our favorite things to do.  I said I wanted to look for a purse, and I found one, but didn’t end up buying it.  Really?  Who needs a reason to go thrifting, anyways?  I thought of my Grandma while we were at Goodwill.  When we were young, her and my Grandpa would pack us in the car, and we’d drive (sometimes over an hour) to go to a Unique Thrift Store or Salvation Army.  (Goodwill wasn’t a thing back then).  She’d show us what to look for on clothes (what color tags meant half off or more, what spots to look for stains or rips on clothes, and to find a corner and try on clothes (the Unique and Salvation Army stores didn’t have dressing rooms)).  We have thrifted all our lives and are 100% not ashamed to admit this.

While at Goodwill, we parted ways and looked at what we wanted, but kept calling each other over to look at our findings.  “This is good for you.”  “Jenny would like this.”  We can spend hours in Goodwill looking at everything, and, sure enough, we were in Goodwill approximately three hours or so.  There were racks of Halloween stuff, which meant Jen made us laugh uncontrollably by trying on silly hats.  A turkey and the snowman from Frozen.  We literally could not stop laughing.  Somehow we ended up near the sweater racks and then it got serious.  My Grandma taught us to shop before and after seasons because that’s when you find the best deals and things.  It was 85 degrees outside and we were looking at sweaters.  Needless to say, there was no one around us, and we got the pick of the best sweaters.  We each found a few sweaters that were in great condition and were name brand.  Score!  We each walked out of the Goodwill with a few things, which makes for a happy day.  By this time, Alex was awake and wondering where we were…

We went home for sandwiches and hot tea.  Slowly since Friday, I was developing a sore throat and sniffles.  By the time we went home, I was blowing my nose uncontrollably.  We hung around the house, now with Alex, and watched Grown Ups and Grown Ups II.  It was nearing the time for Kristy and Jen to go home, and it made me sad.  (Just like when we had to leave Grandma and Grandpa’s house to go home).  Jen had to work the next day (Sunday) and I was getting sicker by the minute.  Plus, we had had such a great time the last two days, and all got along, and I have learned to savor this time with my family, and move on.  And not push it.  It’s just the way our family works.  So late at night, Kristy and Jen went home, and I took a much needed nap on the couch.

I loved this weekend so much just for those two days together with my sisters.  We don’t get this time often at all and I appreciated each minute.  We all are dealing with our own life hardships, and we all came together, put aside whatever differences or beliefs we had, and laughed until our faces hurt.  This is truly the way family is supposed to go.  This is what I want to eventually teach our own children about family.  That no matter what happens, what bull**it you have going on, or what you belief is right or wrong about a family member’s situation, you still welcome them in to your home, and laugh and cry with them.  This is what family is for.  Until our next adventure!

xoxo

a few things I wish I had known about: being creative.

Hello from the midwest and Happy Labor Day to my American friends!  I’m currently battling some type of allergies/cold/cough thing that is leaving me feeling mega crappy at the moment…lots of Kleenex being used over here.

Today, I wanted to talk about being creative.  It is clearly evident in my blog-posting schedule and my scrapbooking time that I just have not been feeling creative at all lately.  And “lately” can actually be broken down to the last couple days, months, maybe even a year or two.  I don’t think I realized quite how important “being creative” was until I started listening to the podcast Elise Gets Crafty, and more recently, an episode of The Paperclipping Roundtable.  The thought re-sparked during a recent conversation with my younger sister Jen and her boyfriend that made me want to write this post.  Jen’s boyfriend was telling me how she doesn’t scrapbook as much anymore because she is tired after a long day at work or on her days off and wants to relax and do nothing.

Don’t get me wrong.  Having days to “do nothing” is great, I highly recommend it to everyone.  But the thing I have learned about creativity and motivation that totally sucks is: the longer you stay away, the worse it gets.  I myself have been the queen of excuses lately when it comes to why NOT to create: I have ‘x’ amount of things on my To Do list, I “should” be doing this instead of scrapbooking, I’m tired and don’t feel like it, or (my biggest excuse lately) is I’m not super happy so how can I scrapbook happy things? 

I really think that being creative is sooo important in our lives: for our mental health, for a way to unwind after a long day, to let out our inner-artist.  So many reasons.  I could go on forever and ever!  I’ve been realizing this so much more lately, and so my creativity and motivation has slowly been building more and more each day.  I can honestly feel my happiness growing, too!  And it has been majorly helping with life situations that hubby and I have been going through (because sometimes we just need to stop thinking about tough life situations, and think about something else).  Hearing that my sister was going through a similar feeling that I once had made me so sad.  Her job is tough.  My job can be tough, also.  We both have regular, long hour, day jobs.  It sucks sometimes but this is what we do to make a living.  I don’t want Jen to lose her love for scrapbooking, documenting, or just creating in general, like I did for a while.  I went through this learning process and it sucks, and I don’t want her to go through the same situation.  So I’m hoping this post inspires her, and maybe others out there as well, to keep going and feed your creativity. By doing this, maybe, just maybe, even 15 minutes of something creative will make you feel like a million bucks.  And your inner self will love you immensely!

I also wanted to share a few tips that have worked for me for getting back into a creative flow: 

1) Listen to your soul and what it really really wants.  If you feel the need to create, finish those 2 “must get done” things on your To Do list, and CREATE.  Don’t just ignore the creative urge or tell it to shut up.  There’s a reason WHY you have that urge and need it!  And let’s all be honest, as long as no one is starving and nothing’s on fire, some of those tasks can wait until tomorrow, right? 🙂

2) Trust your first instincts, they’re usually the best.  Sometimes, when I get to my desk, I think “I just want to play with something pretty, but…I should finish those cards or this Project Life page.” But that can seem like such a daunting task, such a big project after a long day.  Often, this has made me just get up and walk away and do nothing at all.  So, I’ve been trying to trust my first instinct and do what it is telling me.  This happened the other day and I created an awesome art journal page that I LOVE LOVE LOVE instead of pushing my creativity to something I didn’t really want to do at the time, and end up with something that I wasn’t happy with.

3) Appreciate the time you have and set small goals.  I’ve been trying to appreciate the little time I have to create.  Before my goal would be “finish that pocket page layout,” but really I don’t have time for that anymore and my schedule doesn’t allow for lots of time to sit and create for hours on end.  So, when I have 15 minutes to create, I work on one pocket (add journaling, add embellishments, create a title, whatever) and it makes me feel so good!  Yes, I didn’t finish the whole pocket page, but if I have 5 of these 15-minute sessions, then my page is done at the end of the week, and I still get that feeling of accomplishment.  Yah!

4) Don’t over indulge on inspiration.  This was a huge HUGE issue for me and a big reason why I lost so much motivation to create.  I spent so much time on Pinterest or blogs, looking at other people’s work, sometimes even comparing my work to others.  Or maybe just pinning, in general.  Pinning and pinning.  You spend so much time looking at other people’s pretty projects that you could have a) had some solid time to create something of your own and b) could have created something beautiful that you love and is totally you.  I have limited my time looking for “inspiration” and this has helped so much!

5) Do what works for YOU!  I recently listened to Amy Poehler’s book and she said in there “Good for her.  Not for me.”  I love certain scrapbookers’ styles, and I love looking at projects they create, but I have realized that I like my projects to be clean, or organized messy, whatever you want to call it, and that’s what works for me.  So I’m not fighting it.  I’m not trying to change my style.  I’m trying to GROW the style that works for me, and what I like.  And this makes me sooo happy.

6) And finally, use the KISS method.  I am naturally an overthinker.  It’s something I’ve been struggling to overcome for a long time.  So the creative process used to take such a long time for me because I would overthink every single thing I did.   Sometimes it became so frustrating.  Now with creating, I’m trying to remember to keep it simple.  If I can’t decide on something in 10 seconds or less, I glue it down, making it permanent.  I did this with the *Smash page above.  Once it’s down, there’s no going back, and I have to move on with the process.  This technique might not be for everyone (my sisters thought I was crazy when I told them I do this!), but it helps me to enjoy the creating process more, and move on.

I am by no means an expert on being creative or finding ways to get through a period where you feel unmotivated, but this has been the way I have felt for sooo long.  And it freaked me out!  And I thought I was losing my interest in scrapbooking.  But really, I was just changing, and my life schedule was changing, and I just had to go with it, and continue to try and find what works for ME.  It may never be a perfect balance, but instead of fighting it, if we go with it and adapt, we can create things we LOVE and continue to have a hobby we LOVE, instead of letting it go altogether.  Remember this my dear Jenbabe!


xoxo
PS: I highly recommend listening to the episode A Form of Self Care and also Building Back a Routine/Ep. 68. These were two of my favorite podcasts I ever listened to.  The guests were awesome and had so many good things to say that you can use in your creative everyday life.

story: our first lamb cake

 In an effort to remember the details, I will be documenting certain stories here on my blog to revisit later when I want to scrapbook them.  You can read more about that here.

This is the story of our first baked lamb cake.
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The only thing I wanted to do this past Easter was make a lamb cake.  I didn’t care where we went or who we saw, as long as I had time to make this cake.  We had a plan to make one last year (Easter 2014), but when Alex got sick at the last minute, we yanked the idea.  I know some of my family was a little sad about it, so I made it a point to make one this year.  It was important for me to make a lamb cake (at least once in my life) because both of my Grandmas baked a lamb cake on Easter each year, and I remember always being soooo excited for it!
Honestly, our first lamb cake turned out pretty good!  Alex was a tremendous help (as always) and I don’t know that it would have been perfect without him.  I made it a point to do a little research before we baked it so we could have the best lamb cake possible.  (This pin was the most helpful one I found).  There were only a few little setbacks, which we can laugh about now, but at the time of making it, were enough to drive us crazy and get us to turn on each other!


It started with the sifter.  The first direction on the list: sift the cake flour.  (WHY OH WHY don’t I fully look at recipes BEFORE I make them?!)  No sifter.  Great!  We thought we could use tulle, but alas, we used the rest of our tulle when we decorated my brother and sister-in-law’s car for their wedding last October.  So I asked Alex “Don’t you have some kind of net?”  Lightbulb!  He furiously dug through his fishing stuff until he found two little nets used to catch minnows.  Perfect!  (Luckily, they were brand new and NO FISH had been in there before!).  We laughed soooooo hard while we were sifting flour through the minnow net.

Our only other mishap was when we tried to separate egg yolks from the whites.  I’ve seen my Grandma do this LOADS of times, but it is definitely harder than it looks!  Alex remembered a trick for doing this that someone at work told him.  Take an empty water bottle and squeeze all the air out of it.  Then, put the opening up against the yolk and unsqueeze.  The suction sucks the yolk right up.  It worked great on the first two, but the yolk broke on the third and contaminated the whole bowl of egg whites.  Dang it!  In the end, we ended up wasting about four eggs.  More importantly, we had our egg whites!

 
The rest of the cake pretty much went down without a hitch.  Getting the lamb out of the mold was only the hardest when we got to the nose.  That sucker was stuck on there and did not want to come out.  It took us about 30 mins to finally get the lamb out completely!  Next time, we’ll use a little less flour and it should be fine.

We ended up with a full lamb: no missing ears or lopped off head or even a broken nose!  Yah!  It wasn’t hard at all to decorate the lamb.  I just had to use gentle hands, which is sometimes hard for me, but I was able to frost the whole cake by myself.

My family loved the cake so much and I received lots of compliments!  (I really think it made my Aunt and Grandpa sooo happy, which makes me so happy!)  We were feeling so proud that Alex suggested making another one that same day.  Haha!  Yah right!  We BOTH got a good laugh at that one!  We will definitely be making one again next year.  I think my Grandma would be so proud of me for even attempting it.  As you may or may not know, I am not a natural cook or baker, but I’m learning, so I guess that’s all that matters, right?
xoxo
PS: Have you ever attempted a lamb (or other shaped) cake?  I’d love to hear your story!  Leave it in the comments below.