filler.

time is moving so darn quickly, and as soon as i get an idea in my head that i want to put down here, crazy happens and it's three days later.

has anyone else realized that we're nearly a third of the way through 2011 already?!

there's more crazy heading our way this week (negotiations, paperwork, money, visit, travel, contractors, cleaning, moving, prepping, painting, popcorning, cleaning, tiling ... and that's just the next 10 days), so in lieu of writing something informative or deep or entertaining, i'm going to share a tutorial. because i've been asked a handful of times in the past month, and this is just easier.

harper's rainbow birthday cake:

Harpscake
now, i don't have any pretty little step-by-step shots ... i was given about two hours in the house by myself to bake this before harper would be home. not enough time to food style and photo shoot.

basically, i followed meg's directions, with a couple of tweaks:

1. for the cake batter, i used egg whites (all whites, in the carton in the egg section of your grocery store) instead whole eggs. i didn't want to run the risk of the batter taking on a yolky yellowishness.

2. for the icing, i used buttercream that i procured from the bakery at the grocery store. a) you get a take-out container of the stuff for the same price as a little can of betty crocker, b) it spreads so easily, c) it's white and fluffy and pretty, d) i'm too lazy to make my own buttercream.

3. she got a cup and a half of batter per layer; i got slightly more than a cup an a quarter. maybe it was the egg whites.

so ...

i made one batch at a time. the batter was mixed up according to directions, swapping out the liquid egg whites for the whole eggs. once the batter was mixed, i divided it into three bowls, 1.25 cups of batter per bowl. then i added in about 1/16th tsp of gel icing coloring and stirred until it was all worked through. if you want fainter color, use less gel color. and you can get these gels in any color you like ... i found mine in the cake decorating aisle at michael's. wouldn't this cake be pretty in a gradient of red to pale pink for valentine's day? pastels for easter? red, white and blue for july 4th?

anyway ... three bowls. food coloring. stir. then i sprayed the heck out of aluminum cake pans with pam for baking ... the pam that has flour in it. (ok, sidenote: that stuff smells GOOD!) the cake pans had the scalloped sides, which gave my layers their pretty shape. i poured each color of batter into its own pan and baked for, roughly, 12 minutes. while they were baking, i washed the bowls and made the next box of cake mix and got the next three colors ready.

once the cakes were done, i let them cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turned them out onto wire racks to cool. once they were all cool, i wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for about three hours. another hour or so would have been better. mine were still a bit warm and soft and fluffy ... stiffer would have been better.

one at a time, i placed a layer on the plate, spread some buttercream, added the next layer, more buttercream, etc. by the time i reached the last layer ... i was running low on buttercream. i asked marc if he could please run to the store for more. he suggested i leave the cake as-is so we could see the rainbow. hmm ... curious. sounds like he didn't want to drive a mile to the store.

but i went with it. frosted the top, and there you have it. oh - except it needed a little pizzazz. because it was a rainbow cake. way too subtle on its own. so once i brought harper up and surprised her with her cake (she was thrilled! then asked if it was chocolate.), i then handed her rainbow-colored sugar sprinkles and told her to accessorize the frosting. which she did.

remember how i said the layers should have spent more time in the freezer? well, here's why: the whole thing was very, very fluid. wanted to move. wanted to topple. hence the skewers you see in the picture. had i had the time, i would have created a little banner with patterned paper and bakers twine and decorated the skewers to make them look intentional. i had neither the time nor the idea on this particular day.

next year.

when i figure out how to make a chocolate rainbow cake.

lucky thing i had those skewers in there, though. as soon as i cut into the cake at the party, the whole thing wanted to fall over. so the skewers then became the anchor for cake kebabs. i sliced that cake up and served it on a stick, like some dessert at a brazilian steakhouse. exotic.

and really, those tall, thin slices of rainbow on a plate ... they were gorgeous.

this cake was a lot of fun. harper loved it, her friends loved it, her friends' moms loved it, and i felt good that i did something special for my girl on her day.

it definitely took a little more work than a traditional two-layer cake, but it was so worth it.

try it. have fun with the colors. let me know if you do something fabulous when you make one!


buy a book. help japan.

today only, f&w media is donating 50% of profits made from sales in its bookstores to the relief effort in japan.

what can you buy?

well, there's always this little number, which i highly recommend ...

RszIMG_2616
Z2069
... don't let the "clearance" and "2008" scare you away: everything in this book is still totally relevant. except maybe some of the patterned paper.

  Colddeadbody
but if you don't WANT to journal your family's memories and history (ahem), there are other great options, too:

twisted stitches

i felt awesome

scrapbook secrets

the big book of scrapbook pages

collage discovery workshop

organized simplicity

 

and pages and pages of other options.

so go forth ... buy something new and inspirational and instructive ... be a part of helping japan ... feel good about yourself!

 


clearing my head and my blog to do list

what a whirlwind the past 10 days have been! wow. and considering the amount of stuff i need to brain-dump, there will be no pix of the day from last week. just consider the stuff i post here to fill in.

okay, to start, last saturday i headed to indiana to give my sister that baby shower we'd planned, up until wyatt came two months early. it was for our roush side of the family: aunts, great-aunts, cousins, etc.

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hee hee. rocket man. wyatt's "rocket man."

;o)

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great aunt helen held wyatt the entire time becca was opening gifts. she was a baby nurse for years and had the magic touch. and great aunt nancy took her turn to coo goodbyes before she and great uncle danny headed back to ohio.

the most tingly part of the day, though, was when great aunt martha checked out wyatt.

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becca and i both commented after the shower that aunt martha looking at wyatt was surreal ... she is the sister of our grandma roush, and they looked so much alike. it was like seeing grandma look at her new great-grandson. so strange, and yet so wonderful.

monday i headed to becca's house to hang out with her and matt and wyatt for the week. because RSV is running rampant in their area, wyatt's been quarantined from going out and being around people, so poor becca has been house-bound as well for the past six weeks. we did get to go to the doctor on tuesday for wyatt's check up: 9 lbs 10 oz and 22" already!! he's growing like a champ and doing just beautifully!

speaking of beautiful, check out my new nephew. quite the looker, though i may be biased.

but i don't think so. he's really that amazing.

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big, squishy, baby powder-scented love. he's perfect.

friday i had to pry myself away from him and becca and start the trek home. however, first i needed to make a pit stop in winona lake, indiana, to visit my cousin, luke, and visit his studio/gallery, mudlove pottery.

remember luke?

image from micheleomega.typepad.com
he's started a wonderful business - hand-thrown pottery that he bakes in his own kilns on-site.

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and the best part? a percentage of all his sales go toward water in africa. win/win. check out his etsy shop, and perhaps there will be a mudlove love giveaway in the coming weeks ... stay tuned.

anywhoodle, after my visit with luke i was back on the road. this time, to lake geneva, wisconsin, to meet some girlfriends for a weekend of scrappy stuff.

i was invited by my friend, anne, whom i've known for - we realized - about 12 years through the internet. we've met a handful of times since then, and i simply adore the girl. she and some girlfriends recommended the scrapbook manor in lake geneva for the weekend, and i couldn't say no. and what an amazing place! the house is gorgeous, the beds are amazingly comfy, the work room is perfect, the food is non-stop, and the owner, karen, is the sweetest thing you'll ever meet. i kinda wanted to move in. and i can't wait to go back.

and i got a lot done, which, given the availability of wine, bloody marys (ohmigosh, lesley - you HAVE to make those for me again!!), and other party favors, is shocking.

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unfortunately, i can't post the others right now because i'm working on stuff for that memory makers book call. (psst: there's still time to submit!!)

and then i came home.

that gets you up to speed with life through yesterday morning. and i'm leaving out a big dramatic scene from thursday night.

i'll get to that in a day or two. there are still a couple of ducks that need to be coaxed into a row before i go into detail on that.

glad to be back, though!


pretend it's last weekend.

thanksgiving was nice. the food was great. (ahem ... i have to say that ... i cooked it all. except the pies. marc's mom cooked all of those. which is why they were good, too.) we had a good visit with marc's parents. the kids were good. and that's that.

so, last weekend. i got scrappy with some girlfriends at a great little retreat halfway to duluth, the heritage place. comfortable, relaxed, beautiful setting, great work space ... and i got a lot done, which was amazing, considering i've really scrapped nothing of note for months. at least.

i packed up a handful of kits from studio calico that i hadn't yet had the pleasure of cracking open, and by golly they got cracked.

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man. that felt good.

i also worked on a december daily album, but i'll get to that later in the week. now it's time to go polish off another slice of pumpkin pie and relax.

happy thanksgiving ... a little late!


i still get scrappy. occasionally. sometimes.

so, back in july (yes, july. leave me alone.) i got a newsletter from a scrappy site that they were holding a contest. there would be 10 finalists selected from all entries, and those 10 would get one of the new lines from my mind's eye to play with, and then a winner would be selected from those 10 entries.

on a (very last minute) whim i decided to enter. because i love both my mind's eye and rejection. i sent in three layouts that i had semi-recently made ... i believe the three were these (sharing, because i haven't in a long time):

Scsketchlo

Shebuildshouses

Gmassweetgirls

a few days later, i got an email stating i was a finalist! woohoo!! that, in itself, made me feel good. i haven't been feelin' the scrappy love lately ... mojo gone, printer not cooperating, too much stress from other life stuff, etc. anyway ... i was asked to then select a new line from my mind's eye to work with, and i picked "the spider's web" ... a gorgeous, neutral halloween line. i knew immediately upon looking at it that it would be wonderful for a project of some sort.

and after pushing paper around for a week or so, this is what i came up with:

Snsproject1

Snsproject2 Snsproject3

i found a shadow box frame at michael's that had two layers of glass floating between spacers. i cut out the tree from a piece of paper and adhered it to the outside glass using foam tape, to give it dimension. the middle layer has hand-cut hill shapes that have been inked. the first layer is adhered directly to the glass, and the second layer is mounted on top of the first with more foam tape. (love foam tape. 3m, if you are reading this, i will happily take all the foam tape you don't want anymore.) the innermost glass has a square of paper adhered directly to it, and is topped with a moon die cut. to accent the scene, i cut birds out of another piece of paper and stuck them on different layers, and added some free-handed clouds.

the banner was pretty easy, too. free-hand triangles (i'm rarely precise about anything), silver eyelets, twine, and the letters were stamped with ranger mica ink, outlined with doodlebug glitter, and adhered to the banner with ... drum roll ... foam tape. i used glue lines to attached the twine to the frame, then covered the ends of it with black cardstock so it would disappear.

and there you have it: the prize-winning my mind's eye project from stop & scrap's contest. yep ... i won! love winning ... makes me feel like i wasn't just a memory makers fluke. ;o)

on an unrelated note:

35786_Z31 do i buy this hanna anderrson piece of cuteness for harper for school pictures? or is it an unnecessary expenditure in these financial times? she has some orange polka-dot leggings from gymboree that are screaming out to be worn with this dress ...

 

 

eta: i met my friend lisa at mall of america tonight for dinner, and after she left to attend some pre-scrapfest meeting with cosmo cricket, i wandered toward hanna anderrson. and got sidetracked by janie and jack. and because of that ... well, and because of the cuteness that lies therein at janie and jack ... harper will be wearing this little number for her school picture:

Janiejack both pieces, i might add, came in under the dollar mark of the hanna dress. so, score.

 


sept/oct memory makers. a/k/a the last one. ever.

sigh.

just typing that makes me sad.

so, the september/october issue of memory makers magazine is on newsstands now. i think. i haven't checked. but it's lovely. filled on every page with art that normal people like you and me put together, touched with their fingers, added a piece of their hearts, and then sent off, at the time not knowing that their art would grace the final pages of this institution of scrappiness.

the cover features an adorable layout by my amazing friend katrina, and features an adorable photo of my amazing friend susan's little guy. over the past three years, i've made so many wonderful friends and precious memories because of this magazine. hopefully those will last much longer than the printed page.

and so, without further lachrymose drivel ...

S-olayout

the topic for this issue: using unrelated photos to tell your story.

we all have so many photos of so many different things, but how many of us feel like we can't share thoughts or memories without using coordinating pictures? how many of us have ten different pages of the same event year after year, without any journaling because the information never changes?

why not shake things up a little? find semi-related photos and use them to illustrate the story. or find completely unrelated photos to illustrate the words you want to write that don't necessarily have photos ops accompanying them.

for this issue of the magazine, my story was about our yard and how gorgeous it is in the fall. now, do you see a shot of my Yard? no. were all the photos taken specifically with this topic in mind? no. they are just random shots i've taken over the past five years of our property in the autumn, but i pulled together my favorites to show just why it is i love our yard come october.

you can do the same thing with your photos. start using the ones you've been ignoring because they don't "go with" anything. look at your photos in a new way and FIND the story within them. or build a story around them.

and as a bonus, i'm going to share another layout from my book, "your words, your story," that was built on this same idea.

Definepurpose

these photos have absolutely nothing to do with the conversation about which i wrote, but they are as much a representation of who my son is as the story in the journaling. there were no photos for the story, there was no story with the photos, but together they work.

take some time to look through your photographs with a new eye. see if any stories pop out at you as you flip through them, or if any emotions come up depending on the photos you find. a + b doesn't always have to equal c. sometimes a + b = good scrapping.


july/august memory makers article

we are now firmly ensconced in summer ... july is just around the corner (wha ... ?!), the kids both have one of their summer camps under their belts, the first round of guests has come and gone, and the second round is just days away. unbelievable as it seems.

it also means that the latest issue memory makers is on the newsstands and i get to talk to you about the "tell your story" article i have in it!

Jul-aug

the story i challenge you to get down this time around is about endings. we all keep track of the firsts - first kiss, first date with our significant other, first trip outside the country, etc. - but few of us make mention of the lasts. but aren't the lasts just as significant?  i can write on and on about all the firsts with my kids - their first day, their first solid food, their first step, but i've never taken the time to examine the lasts - the last bottle, the last time i had to rock someone to sleep, the last diaper. and those stories are just as significant as any first.

for this layout, i chose to look at august 2005, the last month of henry being my "little kid;" the next month he would head off to kindergarten, and then from there life would speed up and i would be only a partial participant in his day. the thought of that really made me stop and think.

i spent that month documenting what he did each day, things he said, all the indicators of him still being "little" and the emergence of the "big." at the end of the month, i realized i had an inventory of a "last" - the last month before the first day (kindergarten) of the rest of his life. and i know i will do the same for his sister when the time comes, because tracking who they are before other people become influential on their lives seems like a very important milestone; the "last" time they are solely OUR kids, not the world's.

look around and see what the "lasts" are in your life. and take some time to really think about it, remember and reflect upon them, and create a tribute.

(page made exclusively with the studio calico bibliography kit from jan '09.)

for those who will ask for the journaling, here you go:

August ’05. The last month before kindergarten. The last month before you start becoming who you will be. The last month you will be with me more hours of the day than with anyone else. From here on out, you will be with teachers and friends all day long. From here on out, you won’t let me hold your hand. From here you will start to grow up and away, and that makes me a little weepy. But I will still come into your room at night and stroke your head, and kiss you on the cheek, and tell you how much I love you. That won’t stop till you move away.

in honor of memorial day ...

i admit that i have a very soft spot for our military. true, that a liberal like me probably wouldn't normally say that, but there is a long tradition of serving our country in my family. all three of my grandfathers fought in world war II, my dad and uncles served during vietnam, my cousin was a marine, my sister and her husband are both air national guard, and the list goes on.

i get the pride. i get the honor. i get the sacrifice. i may not always agree, but i could never be anything less than proud and humbled by what my loved ones and all others who serve are willing to do in the name of loyalty, duty, country.

the thought of what our troops do, though, didn't occur to me too much until i met marc. he is a huge military buff and wanted to enlist after high school and go to sniper school. while i do admit that would have suited his personality quite well, i'm happy that he didn't. we never would have met and our lives would have been radically different. and for his sense of peace, i'm glad taking out enemies isn't something he has to deal with spiritually.

Whatifs i reflected on marc's military dream for my book, and the process of making the page about made me cry. it really hit me that our lives intersected by such a thin margin, in many ways. but it also made me think that i am so proud of my husband, who was so willing to join that group of men and women who dedicate their lives to something bigger than themselves.

so while memorial day might be a holiday all about the cabin, the boat, the beach, the bbq ... it is also about something so much more important. take a moment to send a thanks and prayer to all those who have served, who are serving, and who will serve in the future. they carry a load the rest of us can't imagine bearing and deserve our support and respect.

(by the way ... just in time for a three day weekend, the book is now available at michael's!! just, you know, in case you're bored ... ;o) )

(page supplies: collage press, american crafts, making memories)


may/june memory makers

i'm sure by now, most of you (who are into this sort of thing) have heard that memory makers will cease publication with the september/october issue. to say i'm heartbroken is an understatement.

memory makers was the first publication to pick up one of my layouts, about, oh, six years ago. three years ago they invited me to be one of ten masters. two years ago they asked me to write a book. last year they asked me to be a contributing editor. and now, they are no more. and i'm sad.

the people who work on and for that magazine are just amazing. they put their heart and soul into it, and have created some really great issues and books over the years. the web site will continue to exist, so show your love and support and pop over there to keep the forums alive and send a little note of love to those who have made the magazine such a treat over the years.

let's all take a moment to honor what is, what was, and what will no longer be.

 


and with that, here's may/june:

Itiswhatitis

this issue's "tell your story" article deals with the fact that life isn't always neat and pretty and happy. sometimes there are things in it that are anything but. many scrappers, however, gloss over the bad stuff in order to portray how great life is, how beautiful and sweet their children are, how much they love their spouse every single ding dong day. but truth is, that's not always the case. sometimes your life seems out of whack. sometimes your kids push you to the brink. sometimes you want to drop-kick your spouse into next week.

my challenge to readers in this issue is to journal about the not-so-perfect, the times when you throw your hands up and say, "it is what it is."

products used: basic grey patterned paper and letter stickers; crate paper die cut paper; 7gypsies quote bubble stamp; creative imaginations letter stamps.


march/april memory makers!

welcome to march!! i'm a little in denial that the year is nearly a quarter over already. yikes. even scarier is that i'm currently working on stuff for the september/october issue ... this year is flying by way too quickly!! at some point memory makers is gonna get sick of me, and i just can't face that yet. especially given the shrinkage in the industry right now. i'm a loyal-to-a-fault person, and i adore the people at memory makers/f+w, and will stay as long as they let me. but then there's that saying about fish and houseguests, and it's been three years, not three days. *shudder* i hate saying goodbye.

anyway, let's segue into the march/april article, shall we?

why do i love memory makers so much? well, it was all just shallow fun until CHA-winter '07, when i actually MET the people behind the mag. my first impression of them was nothing but good, and that sealed the deal for me. and i'm happy to report that the first impression was accurate and has only been reinforced over the years.

first impressions can be a great thing to reflect upon when searching for a journaling topic. whether it be the first impression of a new school, a new friend, a new car ... your first day of vacation in a new place, the first time you tasted thai food, the first time you heard the new cd from your favorite band ...

in the march/april article i discuss first impressions and how you can use them to find a story. the story i chose to tell is of my first impression of my now-husband's hands. it may sound odd, but trust me ... there was a story there:

Sadbuttrue my husband is a gorgeous hunk of studliness, but his hands ... oy. trust me, they were worse 16 years ago, when he was all bone and muscle and tendon, and they aren't gorgeous now.

this may seem a strange topic to journal, but given my first physical impression of him, and the fact that we are now married ... and the fact that i now cherish his hands ... becomes a pertinent story.

(and yes ... if you have the march/april mm in front of you, you will note a different layout is in the mag. there was a screw-up with the place that photographs layouts, and i had to recreate it last-minute. i like the original better. bygones.)

what can you think of in your life that created a memorable first impression? how can you use that to create some true and fabulous journaling?