Friday, December 31, 2010

Year-End Clean and An Early V-Day gift

Hi there! I've been taking a major blogging break the past few weeks, spending lots of quality time with the family while my in-laws were here for the holidays. I've also done a MAJOR Craft Room clean-out and reorganization which took WAY longer than I thought it would - like 4 days longer (yeah, somehow I thought I could get it done in 1 day, but that didn't happen!). I don't know what it is about the approach of a new year that makes me feel this uncontrollable urge to purge and get things reorganized and in order, but I really wanted to accomplish this before 2011. I think it has something to do with living in a place with lots of Eastern cultural influences - I feel like if I sort of "cleanse" my life and start the New Year fresh, without all that clutter and mess (both literally and figuratively) - it will bode well for the rest of the year and I'll somehow magically manage to keep everything clean and clear and in order the remainder of 2011. HAS to work, right? We'll see. My Craft Room is all clean and organized and I am in the process of purging unloved crafting goodies like you wouldn't believe - one of my New Year's resolutions is to NOT spend a gazillion dollars on paper and stamps and supplies unless I have a specific project planned for those supplies or intention of using them right away - I can not believe the amount of crap I have that I just HAD to have that I've never even touched!

Anyway, I took a little break from all the cleaning this afternoon to have some more fun with the December Key Ingredients kit from Taylored Expressions. You still have a few more hours to get your hands on this kit - if you subscribe before the end of the day on the 31st, you can still get the December kit as your first kit!! You can subscribe to the Key Ingredients HERE - and don't forget that subscribers not only receive a fabulous new kit delivered to their doorstep each month, they also get a 10% off coupon in their e-mail inbox each month - good for anything in the Taylored Expressions store!!

So my favorite papers in the kit this month were the red and cream papers and as I was looking through the supplies in the kit I was thinking how not only did they go really well with the whole "Winter" thing, but they made really nice Valentine colors as well. So yeah, I just went with that and created a fun little tin gift holder thing for Valentine's Day (LOVE it that I'm more than a month ahead!!).

I just covered a Tea Tin with some papers from the kit, added a ribbon and some stampy stuff and it's all ready to go! I used the Love Everywhere stamp set for both the sentiment and the hot air balloon image. The balloon image is cut out and mounted on a circle panel framed with a Lacey Circle nestability. Super simple and ready to fill with some V-day candy or other small gift item!

Don't forget to stop by the special Key Ingredients Gallery full of fun project ideas using this month's kit! You can also find other Key Ingredients inspiration by visiting the blogs of the other Key Ingredients Design Team members:
Jessica Diedrich
Lisa Hjulberg
Lynn Put
Melody Rupple
and of course Taylor VanBruggen

Well, that's probably it from me for 2010! I'll be back later this weekend with a card or 2.

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year everyone!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I can't believe it's Christmas Eve already! I wanted to pop in and wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season! I've been taking a little break from blogging this week and will probably continue to be quiet on into next week. My in-laws are here visiting for the holidays and we've been enjoying some family time!!

It's our family tradition to spend Christmas Eve at the beach, so we headed out bright and early this morning - in fact, Joel was there before sunrise (he went kayaking by himself to enjoy a little "Joel Time", much needed I think during all the hustle and bustle of this time of year! He was able to witness a stunning sunrise over Haleakala from the water surrounded by a small pod of Humpback whales!). It was a beautiful sunny morning and we had lots of fun enjoying the warm Maui sun and playing in the surf!

We've been relaxing at home this afternoon before we head over to my Mom's tonight for dinner and to open presents. My Dad's birthday was Christmas Day, so we've always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve so that Christmas Day could be all about my Dad! Everyone else got a day to themselves during the year, it only seemed fair to let my Dad have his birthday too!! No reason to break from tradition just because my Dad's no longer with us. So far I seem to be doing fine during my first Christmas without my Dad. I think maybe this is because last year was just SO bad with my Dad in the late stages of Alzheimer's and us dealing with all that entails, including behavioral problems and social difficulties on his part. Honestly, last Christmas just wasn't much fun at all. So it's honestly been kind of nice this year not having to deal with that and being able to focus on the positive and enjoy Dean enjoying the holidays. I'm fully aware that things might "hit" me tomorrow on his birthday. My Mom and Dad always spent my Dad's birthday at the beach together, so my Mom plans to go to the beach alone tomorrow and take a handful of his ashes to sprinkle near their "spot". I feel good about this.

Anyway, enough about that. I wanted to quickly share this final Christmas project with you. I made some goodies last week for Dean's preschool teachers. He has 3 main teachers that help with his class, the Turtle class, who each got one of these gift sets:

It's a tall skinny covered notepads (the notepads are from PTI), a little bag of hand crafted gift tags, a Starbucks gift card inside a gift card holder I made, and a cute little gift box with some yummy candies inside. Below are some closer views. Stamp sets are PTI's 2010 Holiday Tags and Take Note. The little box, tag and clothespin are from Michelle Wooderson's Etsy shop. The snowflake is cut from white felt using the Winter Wonderland Snowflake Die from Taylored Expressions.

I used Musical Backgrounds from Waltzingmouse Stamps on the bottom inside flap of the gift card holder. I also added some Baker's twine from the Twinery.

There are 10 additional teachers and helpers at the preschool that all have an impact on my son's early education in some way or another - the teachers for the Roly Poly and Dolphin classes often help with outdoor play time when the classes are combined, there are amazing substitute teachers, there's the Japanese and Hawaiiana teachers who come in once a week (and Dean knows A LOT of Japanese language and Hawaiian language and culture!), the reading teacher, etc etc etc. Each of these other teachers and helpers received one of these filled with candy:

The gift boxes, clothespins and tags were from Michelle Wooderson's Etsy shop. The snowflake was again cut from felt using the Winter Wonderland Snowflake die from Taylored Expressions and I added a little sparkly pom pom from the Kid's Craft section of my local craft and hobby store!

The teachers LOVED their gifts and they were fairly quick and easy to make and didn't break the bank! Gotta love that!!

OK, we're off to deliver gifts to the neighbors, then headed to my Mom's. Everyone have a happy and safe Holiday!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge #97

Hi there! And Happy Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge Day!! I'm a few hours late getting my post up due to a super fun night out with the girls (aka Book Club - we read The Help, which I enjoyed more than expected)! Here's a look at this week's sketch:

I used the sketch quite literally this week, as you can see:

When I saw Karen's sketch with that snowflake embellishment placeholder, I instantly thought of the December Key Ingredients kit and just had to pull it out for this one! It was just too perfect!! I also used the Winter Wonderland stamp set and Winter Wonderland Snowflakes die on the card. And see those little rhinestones I added all along that scallop border? Those are included in the December Key Ingredients kit! Fun, yeah? You can subscribe to the Key Ingredients HERE - and don't forget that subscribers not only receive a fabulous new kit delivered to their doorstep each month, they also get a 10% off coupon in their e-mail inbox each month - good for anything in the Taylored Expressions store!! Don't forget to stop by the special Key Ingredients Gallery full of fun project ideas using this month's kit!

Be sure to check out the other Sweet Sunday Stampers' blogs and see what they've done with this week's sketch.
Then play along with us and post your own creation using InLinkz over on today's post on Karen's Blog!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TE Key Ingredients Challenge - December

Here we are, it's the 15th of the month and that means it's time for another Taylored Expressions Key Ingredients Challenge! The kit this month is AMAZING! Featuring the Wintertime Collection from Echo Park, it is full of fabulous patterned paper as well as coordinating cardstock, ribbon, snowflake brads, and a huge assortment of Taylor's Tiny Twinkles rhinestones - a complete kit perfect for creating a large variety of winter cards and projects! You can see a photo of the kit contents and read more details about the kit on the Key Ingredients Blog.

(For those of you not already familiar, each month, Taylored Expressions mails out a new Key Ingredients Kit to subscribers. When you subscribe, not only do you receive your kit on your doorstep each month, you also get a 10% off coupon delivered to your inbox - good for anything in the TE store!)

The Key Ingredients Challenge this month is to create a set of post-holiday thank you cards! It's always good to work ahead and this challenge should give you a great head start in designing something special to say thank you for the thoughtful gifts you receive this holiday season. I was super excited about this challenge - not only to use the new KI kit, but I also got to break in some other fabulous new Taylored Expressions goodies to create this set of 3 Wintry Thank You cards:

In addition to the December Key Ingredients Kit, I used the Winter Wonderland Stamp Set along with the coordinating Winter Wonderland Snowflakes Die set. The sentiment is from A Year of Sweet Sentiments and that fun border is from the Scalloped Eyelet Border Die.

Here's a closer look at each of the individual cards:

The rest of the Key Ingredients Design Team are sharing their December Challenge projects with you today as well, so be sure to stop by each of their blogs to see what they've done - I know I can't wait to see! Check them out:
Jessica Diedrich
Lisa Hjulberg
Lynn Put
Melody Rupple
and of course Taylor VanBruggen

Also, don't forget to stop by the special Key Ingredients Gallery full of fun project ideas using this month's kit!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Flowery Thanks

Ugh. Can you believe it's Monday again already!? And less than 2 weeks until Christmas! CRAZY. Where in the world did the weekend go? I've been wanting to share this card since last weekend and just haven't had a chance to write up my post. Last week (and this week too) there was no "official" sketch on Jen's blog for the Sketch for You To Try Challenge, but everyone can pick one of their old faves and use it again. Well, gee, thanks Jen - picking a fave is about the hardest thing ever! LOL. But, there is one sketch in particular I seem to use more often than others, and it worked with the stamp set I was itching to get inky, so hey - why not!?

So I used THIS SKETCH from way back on May 15:

And here's what I came up with using the new Amazing Wishes stamp set from Verve:

Have a fantastic week!!

Stamps: Amazing Wishes (Verve)
Paper: Crumb Cake, Early Espresso, Very Vanilla (SU); Thrift Shop, Fly a Kite DP (October Afternoon); 72 & Sunny DP (We R Memory Keepers); book print from old book
Ink: Early Espresso (SU)
Accessories: Oval Nestabilities (Spellbinders); Pom Pom Trim, buttons from quilt shop; Polka dot impression plate (PTI)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge #96

It feels like forever since I played along with the rest of the Sweet Sunday Stampers in one of Karen's Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenges, but I guess it's really just been 2 weeks. Must be the craziness of the Season! Anyway, this week's sketch was lots of fun:

I pulled out my November Key Ingredients kit and my What's Cookin' stamp set from Taylored Expressions and had a card completed in no time! (that's the wonderful thing about Key Ingredients!).

Be sure to check out the other Sweet Sunday Stampers' blogs and see what they've done with this week's sketch.
Then play along with us and post your own creation using InLinkz over on today's post on Karen's Blog!

If you'd like to see more projects using Taylored Expressions Key Ingredients, you can stop by any of the Key Ingredients Design Team blogs:
Jessica Diedrich
Lisa Hjulberg
Lynn Put
Melody Rupple
and of course Taylor VanBruggen

Or, stop by the special Key Ingredients Gallery full of fun project ideas using the November KI kit! I'll be back in a few days (the Dec 15th to be exact with a fun project using the December Key Ingredients Kit!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Congrats Little Birdie

Gosh, time sure is getting away from me as the rest of this year dwindles away! SO many things on my To-Do list the next few weeks and I'm trying REALLY hard not to freak out wondering how in the world I'm going to manage to get everything done! My baby boy Dean turned 4 yesterday (seriously, where in the world does the time go!?) and we spent a fun long weekend "away" on the other side of the island for a little Staycation at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas to celebrate his birthday as well as mine and Joel's 5th Anniversary (which is Thursday). We had so much fun playing in the pools and just relaxing and soaking up the Maui sun without worrying about rushing home to do laundry or dishes or anything. Sometimes Staycations are the best, huh? It was FABULOUS and a much-needed break from all the hustle and bustle of this time of year!

I did manage to squeeze out a few cards last week, and this was one of my favorites:

I used the new Wordy Birds set from Verve's new release - such a FUN set of 7 stamps - 5 sentiments and those 2 adorable birds. When I saw this set I knew I wanted to use it to make a Baby card AND that I wanted to somehow create a little "nest" for those birds. I think I managed to pull off the nest, even though it's not exactly what I had in mind, with my swirled pile of twine. LOL. But I just love those paper pieced birds! I used DP from Fly a Kit (October Afternoon) along with some nice polka dot texture on that very bottom Kraft panel (it's hard to see in the photo). I tucked a little "congrats" tag under the bow and it's ready to add to a little gift for my favorite Mama-Bird-to-Be!! ;-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Merry & Bright Holiday Planner - {exciting news}

{Scroll down for my Verve New Release Spotlight Post}

I have been so excited about this and bursting to share it with all of you! I have a hybrid kit for sale at!! Well, not JUST me...I teamed up with the ultra fabulous Crystal Wilkerson and created this super cute printable Holiday Planner using her Merry & Bright Collection.
The downloadable kit comes with everything you need to print and assemble your own Holiday Planner. It's fully customizable - there are several different cover labels to choose from so you can create a pocketed, divided 6x6 notebook that could be used as a planner / organizer, card keeper, menu planner / recipe book, or even a holiday mini album (consider using it as a base for your December Daily Album).

You can bind it with a home binding machine, ribbon, book binding rings or take it to an office supply store and have it professionally bound!

Print at home on your color printer on cardstock or (my recommendation) matte double-sided brochure/presentation paper OR have it printed at your local print shop. The kit comes with step-by-step assembly instructions with photos and includes several divider tabs and labels for the inside.

I added some cut notebook paper to the inside of mine to make room for notes and journaling. You'll need to provide your own adhesive, cardstock to make the dividers (the polka dot patterned paper for the inside of the divider pockets is included in the kit), and if you want your book to be a bit more sturdy add some pieces of 6x6 chipboard for the covers. Everything else is included in the kit! And the best part? You just have to purchase the kit once, but you can print it as many times as you want! It's the gift that keeps on giving!

Today only, Friday Dec 3, you can purchase the Hybrid Planner Kit for only $1 HERE. After that, the kit is still only $3.99!

I also included several hybrid "Tips and Tricks" with the instructions as well as suggestions for dressing up the project using supplies from your papercrafting stash - ribbons, glitter, stamps, etc. Here's a look at another version of the planner I made using the kit as well as Crystal's Merry & Bright Printable Elements and some other goodies from the Merry & Bright Paper Pack and lots of yummy goodness from my paper stash:

Oh, and one more thing...

In honor of the season, Crystal Wilkerson is going to be sharing lots of goodies with you. There's three ways you can get them:

1) Sign up for her newsletter to receive new holiday freebies every week in December. It's super fast & easy & you can do it right now by going HERE.

2) Spend $20 during the month of December at Crystal's digital shop HERE & get special access to download anything else she adds to her shop for the rest of the month for free ($50 value). Just forward your receipt to her at

3) Take Crystal's "Blog Design Basics" for Blogger Class by going HERE & choose from 5 different pre-made blog designs to decorate your blog for the holidays (also applies to anyone who has previously taken the class). You can see them here: #1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Have fun!

Verve New Release Spotlight: Text Objects

It's time for another fabulous Verve Release! Some of the Divas started sharing projects yesterday and we're continuing the fun today with more New Release Spotlights, then we'll be partying in the Verve Forum tonight at 9:00 pm (Eastern) before the new sets go on sale at 11:00!

Today we're Spotlighting the new set Text Objects, which is absolutely AWESOME! I know I saw that about every new set, but seriously. Just wait until you see this set in it's entirety! You're gonna love it!

I went with a sort of Valentine-y theme (I know, I know - already! LOL), but this Ghandi quote just fills me up with mushy lovey stuff and that's where my creative juices were flowing, so I went with it! I used an {almost} monochromatic color palette with lots of October Afternoon papers, some Fancy Pants pom pom trim and some clear embossing for the main large sentiment panel. I also added some scallops, a lacey circle nesty and a Heidi Swapp ghost shape heart. But my favorite part is that vertically oriented "Text Object" quote that's repeated over on the left side!

Be sure to stop by the following Divas' blogs for more peeks of the new Text Objects set:
4. Tosh
5. Jen d.
7. Jen T. (that's me!)
11. Amy
12. Teresa
13. Jackie
15. Mercy

There's a prize up for grabs for a random commenter on one of today's blogs, so be sure to leave lots of love along the way for a chance to win!

And finally, don't forget the Triple Play Project Parade continues on the Verve blog. All the details and entry form can be found HERE.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taylored Expressions Sketch Challenge #134

I sat down to stamp this past weekend and was excited to pull out some new (and old) goodies and play along with Taylored Expressions Sketch Challenge #134.

I used the Wings of Joy stamp set from Taylored Expressions along with Crate Paper's Snow Day collection. I colored the main image in with Copics, then popped it up on dimensionals and added some Liquid Applique to the snowy parts (LOVE how that turned out!). Finally, I added some machine stitching to all of the paper panels and that was it!

We're in the home stretch for Thanksgiving, can you believe it!? Today is my last day of work for the week, then it's a 5-day weekend for me. Tomorrow Dean's preschool has their annual Thanksgiving Feast and an adorable little program (Dean will be the cutest pilgrim EVER, of course!). Then Thursday it's all about the bird around here. Most of you should know by now that I don't cook, so Joel will be doing most of the hard work. My job, as it is every year, is the relish tray - I'll be arranging those green and black olives and stuffing celery sticks with pimento cheese spread to perfection! I feel a little bad that I can't give Joel his holiday gift early this year - I got him a Kitchen Aid stand mixer - and I'm sure that would come in handy on Thursday. (and not to worry - my husband does NOT read my blog, so there's no risk of ruining the surprise! ha! I'm pretty sure he'd rather poke his eye with a sharp stick than read a papercrafting blog!! Which is just fine with me. It's painful to listen to him try to come up with original compliments when I show him my cards!!).

Ok, enough babbling. In case I don't blog again before then - Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving (THE card)

Ok, so not sure if anyone was really paying that much attention, but a few posts back I mentioned that I had goofed when working on my card for the Taylored Expressions Blast from the Past Blog Hop and promised to come back and share my awesome card later. Well, today's the day I know you've all been waiting for, barely able to contain your excitement as you sit by your computers constantly checking again and again to see if I've updated my blog yet and if it could possibly be THE card. Well, folks, today's the day you've all been waiting for. You can finally get on with your lives now. For I've decided to finally share THE card with you today (ha! Oh man, I do crack myself up!).

Ok, Ok, everyone just settle down. In all honesty I'm starting to second-guess myself and worried that all that talk on the previous post about how much I loved this card may have raised everyone's expectations a little bit too high. I mean, it's just a card. And it's really not SPECTACULAR or anything. But I do really like it. It's just so ME. So here goes...

I used those adorable pumpkins from Gobble, Gobble (colored with Copics) and some fun fall-ish DP from October Afternoon. It's a pretty simple card really, but it all came together exactly as I envisioned - which hardly ever happens!! (My favorite part? - that mini pom pom trim!). So I hope you all aren't disappointed after I talked it up so much. What do you think? Was it worth all my carrying on?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge #94

It's Sunday and time for another Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge! I had lots of fun with the sketch this week:

I created a hybrid holiday card:

I used a sentiment from Verve's new Holiday Phrases set and printed digi papers and elements from the awesome Happy Holidays Mega kit by Zoe Pearn (Sweet Shoppe).

It's still Saturday evening in Hawaii as I type this up and I'm headed out the door to Book Club, so that's it from me tonight!! Be sure to check out the other Sweet Sunday Stampers' blogs and see what they've done with their favorite sketch.
Then play along with us and post your own creation using InLinkz over on today's post on Karen's Blog!

Cinema Saturday Creative Challenge #100

Just a quick post before heading to bed tonight - I barely finished this card before the extended deadline for this challenge ends. It's for the Cinema Saturday Creative Challenge #100. The challenge was to create a project inspired by the movie Pride and Prejudice, and there was the requirement to use lace on the project (so NOT my thing!). Surprisingly, I had lots of fun making it - and the lace didn't even kill me!!

Now, it's been a REALLY long time since I saw Pride and Prejudice (um, like since High School when I was probably supposed to read the book and opted to watch the movie instead?) and I'm pretty sure the version I saw wasn't the version the challenge was based on. But I was pressed for time. And besides, I remember the general themes and such.

I went with a vintage-y looking card with a lovey-dovey friendship theme:

I used lots of neglected supplies on this project and even used a SU set for the first time in FOREVER! The supply list is below. Those of you on the mainland who are up early Saturday morning probably still have time to whip something up for this challenge as they extended the deadline to Saturday afternoon. But you probably shouldn't - there are some pretty sweet prizes up for grabs and my chances are better if there are fewer people playing! :-)

Stamps: I {Heart} Hearts (SU); Round and Round ltd ed (PTI) Paper: Crumb Cake, Early Espresso (SU); Choice Buttercream (TE); Thrift Shop, Fly a Kite (October Afternoon) Ink: Early Espresso, So Saffron, Baja Breeze, Not Quite Navy (SU) Other: Lace (SU); Doily die (MFT); Scallop border dies, polka dot texture plate (PTI)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Give Thanks {for inspiration}

Hi there! I can't believe how quickly Thanksgiving is approaching! YIKES! I have several more Fall / Thanksgiving-ish cards and projects I want to share on the blog, so I guess I better get on that, huh? First up is one of my faves I created this fall and it makes me so thankful for this wonderful papercrafting community that all of you are a part of. After my Dad passed away, my "Jen Time" was in my crafty space and it was so therapeutic to dive into doing some creative work. However, as I think I might have mentioned, my MoJo was NOWHERE to be found. Seriously. blech. So I did A LOT of blog surfing and just started CASEing a ton of pretty things and it wasn't long before I was actually creating goodies that I kind of liked again! And the card I'm sharing today is one of those cards that was created during my "blech" days, so THANK YOU Jodi Collins for helping me find my missing MoJo during a really crap time with this fabulous creation, which totally and completely inspired this card:

I loved how Jodi had used the lacey circle nestabilities on her main image panel and then sort of framed that with a square panel to really draw your eye in. And then of course that fabulous flower to set off the sentiment. So I recreated those features on my own card, and stuck with the yummy fall color palette as well and I just love how this card turned out! I used Verve's Bountiful Harvest, using the masking technique to layer a couple of the pumpkins (colored with Copics) and then deciding to just pop one of them up on dimensionals for some depth. And I added that gorgeous mulberry paper flower that I picked up on my trip to the mainland (I think it's from Recollections). The sentiment is from Verve's Happy Fall, which is my new favorite fall sentiment set!

So that's it from me. Happy Aloha Friday everyone!

Stamps: Bountiful Harvest, Happy Fall (Verve) Paper: Really Rust, Early Espresso, Very Vanilla, Not Quite Navy (SU); Maple Grove DP (We R Memory Keepers) Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black (Tsukineko); Early Espresso (SU); Copics Accessories: Spellbinders dies; Ribbon (SU); Mulberry Paper Flower (Recollections)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Taylored Expressions Blast From the Past Blog Hop

I'm so excited to be playing along again this month with the Taylored Expressions Blast from the Past Blog Hop!! Last month was the only month I've missed since Taylor started this fun monthly customer hop and I felt so left out! LOL. But, somebody had to go on vacation (me!). So anyway, the theme this month is Autumn / Thankful and we were required to use Taylored Expressions stamps released prior to September 2010 - hence the "Past" part of the hop.

Funny thing, that little "past" part of the hop - see, I sat down yesterday afternoon and created this SUPER cute Thanksgiving card that I was SO proud of and couldn't wait to share with you guys today. Then last night Sankari and I were having one of our crazy phone conversations and I happened to mention my totally rad card and that I had used those adorable pumpkins again from the Gobble, Gobble set. And she's all like "uh, Jen, you can't use Gobble, Gobble for this hop ya know". And then I said a bunch of stuff that I can't repeat here. Because man, that card is awesome!! And how the hell did I forget that one important little detail about the hop? duh. Anyway, you guys will just have to take my word for it (but if you twist my arm, I could probably be convinced to share it in a few days. LOL).

Fortunately for you guys (ok, let's be honest - fortunately for ME), I had made this card last weekend and it fit the requirements of the hop. But I wasn't really loving it, so set it aside to share later when I was desperate (yes, this qualifies).

I used that fun tree image from In the Park, paper piecing the trunk and leaves. The Happy Thanksgiving sentiment is from A Year of Sweet Sentiments. Mostly I'm just not loving how the paper pieced tree turned out - I definitely don't hate it, but when I was done I was wishing I had just colored it instead. Oh well!

So that's it from me today. be sure to stop by all the other Hoppers' blogs to see what they've created this month. I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

Monday, November 15, 2010

TE Key Ingredients Challenge - November

It's the 15th of the month and that means it's time for another Taylored Expressions Key Ingredients Challenge!! I have to tell you that I think this just might be my favorite Key Ingredients yet!! This kit, featuring October Afternoon's Modern Homemaker papers, is so much fun!! And the coordinating cardstock, ribbon and other embellishments will make it so easy to whip up fantastic cards and other projects! You can see a photo of the kit contents and read more details about the kit on the Key Ingredients Blog.

For those of you not already familiar, each month, Taylored Expressions mails out a new Key Ingredients Kit to subscribers. When you subscribe, not only do you receive your kit on your doorstep each month, you also get a 10% off coupon delivered to your inbox - good for anything in the TE store!

Now for the November Key Ingredients Challenge...There's a modern homemaker in all of us, right? For our challenge this month, you should create something to spice up your kitchen, or anything featuring kitchen icons or food (food stamp images or real food!). Should be fun and yummy too, right?

Now, I should explain to you all that I don't cook. Like, AT ALL. Seriously. Joel does ALL of our cooking (which he enjoys AND he's pretty good at it, so it's a win/win for all of us!). However, I do almost all of our shopping. But we're not always the best planners when it comes to grocery shopping and I'm pretty bad with the whole impulse buying thing. I'll admit that there are times when our cupboards are bare so I go to do the grocery shopping, spend $150 (which is very easy to do on Maui) and somehow come home with nothing but Dr. Pepper, ice cream, Oreos, a bag of mini pretzels, some beer, some wine, and some garlic powder because I remembered Joel mentioning something about needing some garlic. Then Joel's grumbling because he doesn't have anything to cook for dinner that night (and what? NO! garlic powder is NOT interchangeable with real garlic apparently) and he doesn't agree with me that mini pretzels, Oreos and beer makes for a perfectly acceptable dinner.

But I point is that we were in dire need of some help in the whole meal planning / grocery shopping / budgeting department. Enter Jen's Kitchen Planner:

Cute, yeah? There's a tabbed section for Menu, Groceries, Coupons, and Receipts. The idea is that Joel and I will sit down each week and he'll plan what he wants to cook each night (in the "Menu" section) and go over with me what I need to buy and I'll make my Grocery list (in the "Groceries" section) - hopefully eliminating a lot of wasteful purchases and multiple trips to the grocery store each week, the goal being cutting our grocery budget down some each month. Then there's the "Coupons" and "Receipts" sections, which have little envelopes to hold those self-explanatory items.

I purchased the cute little Kraft spiral notebook for $1 at my local Ben Franklin several months ago (I stocked up on several of them). I used some of the Modern Homemaker DP, ribbon, letter stickers and chipboard pieces from the November KI kit to alter the front of the notebook. I also used my Take Note stamp set and coordinating Take Note Die 3 for the large label on the front. And those tabs on the side marking each section of the book? I used the Keeping Tabs stamp set and the coordinating Keeping Tabs Die. But my favorite part of the notebook has to be that adorable apron! For that I used the What's Cookin' stamp set and coordinating Apron & Pocket Dies. Finally, I added some straight and zig-zag stitching all around the edge of the front cover with my sewing machine to finish it up.

The rest of the Key Ingredients Design Team are sharing their November Challenge projects with you today as well, so be sure to stop by each of their blogs to see what they've done - I know I can't wait to see! Check them out:
Jessica Diedrich
Lisa Hjulberg
Lynn Put
Melody Rupple
Rosie Hughes
and of course Taylor VanBruggen

Also, don't forget to stop by the special Key Ingredients Gallery full of fun project ideas using this month's kit!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sweet Sunday Sketch #93

Well, it's been over a month since I last played along with my fellow DT for the Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge and let me tell you, it has felt SO good this week to start getting back into my normal routine a bit! And Karen has a super fun sketch this week:

I somehow managed to goof things up, and ended up moving most of my top layers up a smidge (or more!) - mostly because I wasn't looking at the sketch when making my card. But I think it still works.

I continued in my Sweet Sunday tradition of using neglected stamps and pulled out my Everyday Button Bits set (PTI), inking up the bicycle image that had never seen ink! And aren't those papers fun? They're printed digi papers from the In His Footsteps kit by Traci Reed (Sweet Shoppe).

Be sure to check out the other Sweet Sunday Stampers' blogs and see what they've done with their favorite sketch.
Then play along with us and post your own creation using InLinkz over on today's post on Karen's Blog!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Holly Jolly MoJo

I have to say that it feels SO good to be doing some creative work in my crafty space again! I really think I needed it after almost a month of doing practically nothing! I head back to work tomorrow after more than a month off and let me tell you, I am NOT looking forward to that. But, it has to happen sometime and I need to start getting back into my normal routine. I sure did savor my day to myself today though! I spent the morning at Makena (Big Beach) after dropping Dean off at preschool and it was a beautiful morning. I took some time to just reflect and think about the events of the past few years. Being at Makena makes me feel really close to my Dad - that area of Maui was one of his favorite places on Earth. I was reminded that my Dad wanted nothing more in life than for his family to be happy and I determined that I am going to spend a little bit of time each day doing something that makes ME happy, whether that's going for a walk on the beach, stamping just for fun, curling up with a good book, or watching an old Magnum P.I. rerun - the best way I know to honor my Father's memory is to live a life of happiness and try to surround myself and my family with positive energy. So there you have it. I came home from the beach and I stamped the rest of the day - the laundry and the dishes could wait a bit longer! :-)

And ya know what? I think my MoJo is slowly starting to find it's way back. I didn't hate everything I created today, which is a HUGE improvement over last week when everything I touched looked like crap!! LOL. Of course, Julee's MoJo Monday sketch #164 probably helped a bit, as I started off with that.

I used Verve's new Merry Wishes and Holiday Phrases along with some fabulous DP from the North Pole Collection from Crate Paper I've been saving for months and couldn't wait to cut into! I'm so excited to finally be creating with these new Verve holiday sets! And now is a great time pick them up for yourself if you've been on the fence - through November 19 you can save 15% when you buy the entire Winter Collection (while supplies last)!!

Also, I continue to be amazed by the love and support that is pouring in from my blog readers and my stamping friends since my post about my Dad's passing - both in comments and e-mails as well as cards you've mailed. I wish I could reply individually to each of you to let you know just how much your kindness means to me, but things are still a bit crazy around here as we are trying to settle back into normal day to day life. But please know that each and every one of you who has offered condolences has touched my heart. Many Mahalos!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Fall Y'all

I wanted to share a quick card I made right after my vacation using the October Key Ingredients from Taylored Expressions, but didn't have a chance to post with all of the drama surrounded my Father's passing last week. But first, I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your kind and thoughtful words of support and sympathy on yesterday's post. I really can't tell you all how much it meant to me to see how many of you care and are surrounding me with your positive thoughts at this difficult time. Really, you guys are the best. Thank you.

So, moving right I said, I whipped up this clean and simple card immediately after returning from vacation and I just love the simplicity of it. I can see myself mass-producing this card using several of the different patterned papers from the October KI Kit in place of the leafy paper and maybe trying out a few different sentiments.

But this card used my favorite of the patterned papers in the kit last month - I love those leaves! Everything on the card except for the Kraft card base and the stamped sentiment is from the Key Ingredients kit. And that cute sentiment? That's from the Gobble, Gobble stamp set.

For those of you who may not already be familiar, Each month, Taylored Expressions mails out a new Key Ingredients Kit to subscribers. When you subscribe, not only do you receive your kit on your doorstep each month, you also get a 10% off coupon delivered to your inbox - good for anything in the TE store! We also have a special Key Ingredients Gallery full of fun project ideas using the kit.

The rest of the Key Ingredients Design Team has been sharing projects using the October Key Ingredients the past several weeks, so be sure to stop by their blogs to see what they've done with the kit:
Jessica Diedrich
Lisa Hjulberg
Lynn Put
Melody Rupple
Rosie Hughes
and of course Taylor VanBruggen

That's it from me today - I'm going to be doing lots of catching up the next few weeks. I may not be doing as much stamping as usual, but I do have several completed projects that I haven't shared yet that I need to blog. So hopefully I'll find some motivation to get that done!! Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Love you Dad

Hi There. It's been awhile since I suddenly disappeared and I thought I better stop in and explain myself. Most of my regular blog readers know that my 59-yr-old father had been rapidly progressing through the stages of Early-Onset Alzheimer's for the past few years and that the past several months especially had seen a very sharp decline in his condition. We decided to bring him home a little over a week ago (he had been living in a Private Care Home for several months) and he passed away with my Mom and I at his side on Tuesday afternoon, Nov 2. (almost a week after we returned from vacation). I'm not gonna lie, the last few days were extremely difficult - but I am so thankful we decided to bring him home. I honestly feel like somewhere deep inside he was somehow waiting to go home before he let go. It's been so hard seeing him in the state he's been in for the past year, knowing he would never want to live like that. So for the most part, his passing has been a relief for us - to know that he is now at peace and no longer suffering. It's been such a long, hard road for all of us. Of course I am very sad too - mostly for selfish reasons - I always was the quintessential "Daddy's Girl" (and spoiled rotten as a result, LOL) - and his passing has left me feeling sort of lost and almost panicky. Even though I really feel like I lost the man who raised me more than a year ago, I still had a way to express my love for my father by helping with his care or even just giving him a big hug. I feel a little out of sorts now without that outlet for my affection. And I'm bummed that Dean isn't going to know his amazing Grandfather. But I really am doing OK. I'm a little concerned about my Mom, although she seems to be holding up pretty well. My parents were married for more than 38 years and they started dating as teenagers (my Mom was 15, my Dad was 16) so my Mom has spent 44 of her 58 years of life with him. And even though the last few years were really REALLY difficult, and my Dad wasn't really there - so much of my Mom's daily life still revolved around my Dad - caring for him, making sure his needs were met, etc. So now that he's gone there's going to be a pretty big void to fill. It's just going to be a big adjustment for her. So far though, she seems to be doing really well and is just relieved that he is no longer trapped in a terrible existence that he would never want to live. She seems to be taking a lot of comfort in knowing that he wouldn't have wanted her life to be the way it's been the last few years and now she's free to live the dream he worked so hard to build for them.

So anyway, I hope you guys can bear with me for this post while I share several photos of my Dad, along with his obituary, as a sort of tribute to the amazing man and father he was. If you've stuck with me this far, thank you for humoring me! And please understand, this post is as much for me as it is for any of you. I promise I'll get back to stamping soon!

As you'll see in many of the photos below, my Dad was an adventurous guy. My childhood was all about the EXPERIENCE. I grew up fortunate enough that my family could provide us with nice things, but my Dad wanted our childhood to be more about DOING - and it was all about being outside and experiencing nature. So many camping trips, hiking, the lake, and of course Maui. He taught my brother and I so much about the beauty of this world and to appreciate the things that are really important in life. He was also just a really good guy with a great big heart.

My Mom and Dad at my Dad's Senior Prom in 1969:

My Parents on their wedding Day - June 16, 1972:

My Dad and me as a newborn, 1976:

My parents in Hawaii, 1983:

Hiking in the Wichita Mountains, mid-80s:

Family trip to Maui, early 90s:

Skiing in Crested Butte, Colorado, early 90s:
Rafting the Taos Box of the Rio Grande, New Mexico, Mid-90s:

Kayaking some river in Arkansas, mid-90s:

Setting up camp, Backwoods of Colorado, mid to late 90s:

Makena, Maui, 2002:

Hiking West Maui, 2004:
My Wedding Day, December 9, 2005:

Proudest Grandpa on Earth, my Dad and Dean, December 7, 2006:

Teaching Dean about hiking, 2007:
(and yes, my Dad is wearing the SAME cargo shorts in almost all of those photos - all 20 years worth!! LOL. Gotta love that about him. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just be glad we finally got rid of those OP Corduroy shorts - that took some serious work!! So the Cabela's cargo shorts he wore for 20 years are actually a huge improvement!).


Dr. Edward R. Harper of Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, formerly of El Reno, Oklahoma, passed away on November 2, 2010 at his home in Kihei after suffering from early onset Alzheimer's Disease for the past few years.

Dr. Harper was born on December 25, 1950, in Oklahoma City to Raymond K. and Adah E. Harper. He graduated from El Reno High School in 1969, and from the University of Houston College of Optometry in 1975. He practiced Optometry in El Reno from 1975 until his early retirement in 2004.

He is survived by his wife, Susan (Hutson) Harper of Kihei, Maui, Hawaii; their daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer (Harper) and Joel Tapler, one grandson, Dean Edward Tapler, all of Kahului, Maui, Hawaii; and one son, Jeremy Alan Harper of Whitefish, Montana. He is also survived by numerous cousins, other relatives and good friends.

A Celebration of Life and scattering of ashes will be held on Maui at a later date. The family suggests memorials be sent to Hospice Maui, 400 Mahalani Street, Wailuku, Hi 96793, to the Alzheimer's Association, Aloha Chapter, 270 Hookahi Street, Suite 311, Wailuku, HI 96793, or to Maui Adult Day Care, 11 Mahaolu Street, Suite B, Kahului, HI 96732.

The family wishes to extend their deepest gratitude to Hospice Maui for all of their wonderful help and support. Also, a special mahalo to the wonderful staff of Maui Adult Day Care.