Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday to me! (part deux)

For my birthday, Mike baked me a cake. If you recall, last year I requested a pretty complicated cake. Mike took it on and did a stellar job, but it wasn't that great. It wasn't his fault. He didn't do anything wrong. The recipe just wasn't that great. He executed flawlessly, but we were left wanting.  As a result, this year I went for something more typical. It was still a scratch cake, but it was just an ordinary cake with buttercream frosting. Let me just say . . . Oh. My. Word. It was spectacular! The buttercream? Was like eating a stick of butter. Dipped in powdered sugar. Only better. I'm salivating right now just remembering how amazing it was. Combine that with the fact that I also had one dozen drop-dead-good cupcakes and I was in birthday heaven! Here are some pictures. Oh, and imagine my kids excitement when they found a #4 candle AND a #1 candle. I wasn't able to convince them I was turning 14. Drat. Really I'm only 29 though. But you knew that. Right?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kids Birthday Cards

My kids have been to so many birthday parties since school started that I've lost count. Somehow, even though I have a ton of cards on hand, when I want one for an actual event or person I never seem to have what I want. One of the things I'm ALWAYS short of is birthday cards for kids. When the onslaught of birthday parties began this year I went in search of a birthday card I really liked and I found one I liked so much that I'm pretty sure I've made about 20 of these since school started.

I found this card on Kristina Werner's website and fell in love with it. It also helped that I recently got the Alphabet Simple Numbers dies for my big shot machine. I just can't get enough of covering chipboard with designer paper and cutting out these numbers. I know I've made several of these cards for my 4-year old to take to parties, so his had 5's on them. I've made several for my 7-year old to take to parties and his had 8's on them, and I've even made a few for my 9-year old with 10's on them! I love this retired DSP on this card along with the retired Wild Wasabi stitched ribbon. My only regret is that I'm running out of it! Well, that's not my only regret. The other thing I regret is that I haven't had an opportunity to make one for a girl yet! I can't wait to do one of these in pink! Heck! I may even add glitter!!

Here's another one. This one I created this week for my nephew who will be 8 next week. I really just can't get enough of these! They're so fun to make and super cute!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finally a Card!

I have so many cards and projects to share from the last few months. Unfortunately, because I'm such a slacker blogger, some of them are going to include retired stuff. Although the stamps from this one are retired, the new Shimmer Paints were so popular that Stampin' Up! has already told us they're going to continue to make that available. Yay!

I made this card for one of my Great Swaps girls swaps in the Fall. I used the leaf stamp from the Autumn Splendor stamp set and the super yummy Autumn Meadows designer series paper. The Happy Thanksgiving sentiment is from Teeney Tiny Wishes. The shimmer paint made the leaves very subtle, but added a nice sparkly element to this card.

I'm currently working on my Occasions Mini and Sale-a-Bration swaps for the Great Swaps Girls group, so I may actually show you something NEW in the next few days. First, I have to finish them!! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

Yesterday was my birthday. I'm officially 29. Again. My big boys were out of school yesterday. Which was good because I got to spend the day with them, but bad because I got to spend the day with them. Ifyouknowwhatimean. We had a nice day together and my hubby took me to lunch at Tucanos. The kids LOVED it! They kept saying, "We need to eat here all the time!"

My sweet friend, Carrie, surprised me with some super special gifts. I can't wait to show them all to you!

First, She made me a treat and delivered it in this box. Isn't it darling!!??!! I couldn't wait to tear that scalloped circle chipboard off there so I could put it on something. (I didn't think she'd let me keep her cupcake box!)

Here's what was inside:

Oh. My. Word! Can you even stand the cuteness? The yumminess? They're lemon cupcakes and she even decorated the top!!  Eeeeeeeeeeeee! I LOVE lemon!


Lemon curd! I could bathe in lemon curd. I love it that much. These were divine. And every time I forget how yummy they were, I have another one. Just to remind myself. *snort*

These delicious little yummies were accompanied by this:

Isn't that the cutest little gift set EVER!!  Here, let me show you some close-ups.

I LOVE the flower she put on this box. And she used all of my favorite things - satin ribbon, and pink paper, and the sweet pea felt flowers (on the cupcake box), and the little gathered edging around the top of the gift box! It's just too much!

Here's a closeup of the card:

SUPER cute! And she used shimmer paint on the frosting and the candle flames! I KNOW!

And in the box? Let me show you:

The cutest little felt flower brooch! She made it using the Stampin' Up! Circle die. It's so adorable!

My husband also made me a yummy cake. I'll be back to show you some pictures of that a little later! My diet took a bit of a hit, but my heart was full of love. Thanks so much for your kindness, Carrie! Oh, and thanks too for the pictures (she said I could borrow these from her blog!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Run 4 Heaven's Gate & IKEA Baby

You may remember that last year my husband ran four half-marathons in October to raise money for an orphanage our church runs in India. The orphanage is called Heavens Gate and it is a home for children who are dying of AIDS or whose parents have died of AIDS. Well, this year Mike decided to run again, but stepped it up a notch by running a full marathon for his first race. He ran the St. George Marathon in 3 hours and 20 minutes the first weekend in October. That time was good enough to qualify him for the Boston Marathon which is in April. The next weekend the group ran a half-marathon in Gresham, Oregon. Last year Mike went alone (well, with the group, but without me) but this year I went with him. Here are some pictures from the race.

Here is a small part of the team before the race. As you can see, it was COLD!!

Here is Mike at the beginning of the race. They started in stages. He is right behind #470

Here's Mike crossing the finish line.

Last year was the inaugural year for this race. As a result, it was pretty small. I think last year every person who ran as part of Run 4 Heaven's Gate won first or second place in their age group. Mike won 2nd overall last year. I think he got first in his age group and second or third overall this year.

When our plane landed in Portland, we rented a car and drove to our hotel. Right outside of the airport is an IKEA. I've ordered a few things from them online before, but had never been inside an IKEA before, so I talked Mike into ditching our bags and going back to look around before we met the rest of the team for dinner. Holy mother of home goods! It was AMAZING! I really could have spent a week there and still not have seen everything. We only had about an hour so we took the quick tour, but it was so much fun. Here are a couple few pictures from our look around.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our latest project - the beginning.

I can't remember how I first ran across it, but I've developed an new love/obsession with a decorating and remodeling blog called Young House Love. It used to be called This Young House (which I liked better, but who am I?) until someone (who is a big fat bully) got all up in their business and MADE them change the name, if you know what I mean. Meanies. But when I happened across a blog post about a reader re-design, and I saw this picture:

Well, let me just say that the heavens opened and angels sang.

Let me start with a little background. When we built our house, a mere 12 years ago, I chose to have open soffits above our cupboards. I liked the way it looked and that it made the room seem more open. Well, I didn't think about the years of grease and dust and grease and filth and grease that would accumulate up there, and let me just say that I refused to even look up there much less clean up there because of the nastiness. Blech! So, in the back of my mind, for about the last two or three years, I've been brainstorming ways to close up that space. When I saw that this homeowner had simply mounted standard size cabinets at the ceiling and put a cute shelf underneath my heart stopped. Completely. For a few minutes. I love love loved the idea and immediately a kitchen remodel was born. Oh, and did I mention the white cabinets? Or the white subway tile? Or the crown moulding? or the fact that I fell. in. love. with this kitchen? Oh, and to boot, she had a link to the kitchen that inspired her. Be. still. my. heart. Gaze upon this vision of loveliness:

Again with the angels singing!! Oh, and did I mention that this blog showed step-by-step how they moved up the cabinets and added the shelf and white subway tile! Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!! I'm giddy again!!  I could hardly stand the gorgeousness.

To top it all off, the Young House Love blog (YHL) has a "How-To" section? And if you click on that link and head on over there, WHAT is the very first project they list? What? I can't hear you. Yes! That's right. A little louder. PAINT YOUR KITCHEN CABINETS! I KNOW!! It was fate.

I'm sure you can only imagine my husband's surprise when he came home that day and I met him at the door by saying, "How do you feel about me painting our kitchen cabinets? And moving them up to the ceiling? And tiling under them? With white subway tile? Huh? How? Huh? Honey? Are you okay? Honey? Do you need CPR? Honey?"

Can you picture it? It's as if it just happened yesterday. Well, he wasn't actually that excited about me painting the kitchen cabinets. And truth be told, he wasn't all that excited about moving them up and putting a shelf under them. He said it would be just another place to collect grease and dust and grease and grime, and once I really thought about it I knew he was right. Other than that though, he was totally excited! So we started brainstorming and calling around and getting some bids and calling around more. One of the first places we called was the company that made our cabinets when we built our house 12 short years ago. They told us they would not paint our cabinets and that if we had it done we'd be sorry and everyone who had ever done it had regretted it and it would turn out terrible and we'd be unhappy and it wouldn't hold up and it would chip and peel and turn yellow and it was a bad idea and we were bad people for even thinking about it. Well, except for us being bad people. They didn't really say that, but it was implied. So they proceeded to give us a bid for new cabinets and it was EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS! I think I might have actually laughed out loud when he told me that. I wasn't trying to be rude, but I couldn't help myself. Here I was trying to save us money and do things myself and I had it in my mind that we could do the whole darn thing for about $5K including the cabinets and new countertops and the tile backsplash and a trip to Tahiti. Well, okay, maybe not Tahiti, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Maybe I should stop here and show you what we were working with.

This is my kitchen, as it looked on November 7th. It's not a horrible kitchen. It's not really even that bad a kitchen (if you ignore the wallpaper.) It's not that outdated. It's not that ugly. In all actuality, there's not really anything wrong with it. Stripping the wallpaper and adding some paint in and of itself would have made a world of difference. I know people who have much worse kitchens. Much much worse. I never even really complained about anything in my kitchen. I picked out everything that's in it. I chose for it to be what it was and I sorta liked it. But when I look at my kitchen the heavens don't open and there are no angels singing. To be honest, I felt a little guilty for even wanting to change anything or spend more than a few bucks on it. But we have lived here 12 years, and things are starting to show a little wear, and we just decided that we'd try to do things as economically as possible and just update things a little. However, $8K of new cabinets doesn't really fall into that plan very well.

Fast forward a few weeks and one day my husband came home at lunch and said, "I've been thinking. What if I modify the cabinets myself." As a side note, he's a total stud like that. He can really do anything. Any. Thing. Really. He has a whole bevy of wood tools in the garage and I had no doubt he could do anything he set his mind to. So he said, "I'll make the cabinets taller and then we'll order new doors and then hire someone to paint them." I reminded him about the guy who said it couldn't be done and his response was, "People paint cars all the time and those don't chip and peel and turn yellow and look awful. Why in the world can't someone paint these cabinets?" Good point, huh? He's a smarty like that. So, the picture above was taken on November 7th right before I took this picture:

And that's really how it all began. Mike has been working steadily, as time allows, on making the upper  cabinets taller (which gets rid of the dust and grease trap at the top without creating a new grease and dustr trap under them) and re-attaching the crown molding. Oh, I forgot to tell you that the cabinet guy also said, "You'll never be able to re-use that crown molding. It will be destroyed when you take it off. You'll just need to order new molding." Which, of course, turned out to be several hundred dollars. When the guy left Mike said, "That sounded like a challenge to me." He successfully removed and re-installed every piece of the crown molding and it looks amazing. He's currently working on the last of the 10 upper cabinets. The new taller doors were ordered on Monday of this week and the painter is scheduled for Monday, February 8th. I'm thrilled with how it's all turning out and can't wait to show you more of the step-by-step process. I hope you'll stop by again soon for more of the remodeling saga. Thanks for sticking with me this long! Oh, and lest you think I was jesting about the grease and dirt and dust and grease and grime, here's a picture of the first piece of crown molding to come down (in one piece, I might add.)

Blech! Can you see that nasty business?!? I'm thrilled that in my new kitchen there will be no where for that type of "stuff" to accumulate.

Oh, and lest it go unnoticed, the YHL kitchen is no slouch either and is a little more like what I picture mine turning out to be (except for the stainless appliances and the dark floors and the paint color and the layout and the cabinet style and the backsplash, but you know what I mean.) I'm just sayin' that angels might sing when I look at this one too. Thanks to Sherri and John for a boatload of inspiration! Plus, aren't they just the bees knees!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Christmas Cards

Yesterday I shared a fun gift idea using My Digital Studio. Today I'm excited to show you the Christmas cards I made using My Digital Studio. My sweet girlfriend, who also happens to be an amazing photographer took some pictures of my family in November. I knew I wanted to use those pictures on my cards so I proceeded to create a card that was 5x7 and included a big variety of my favorite photos. Well, imagine my surprise when I uploaded them for printing and the total was over $300!! I nearly fainted. While it's nice to know that the printing will be professionally done, and that it will match SU! colors if I decide to add additional embellishments after I get the cards, that price tag was just too steep. I love my friends, but wanted to be able to get my kids some Christmas gifts too! Well, necessity is the mother of invention, so here's what I came up with:

The photos above actually represent one card I used to create two cards. The top two pictures are the front of the card and the inside top flap. The bottom picture is the inside bottom flap of the card. I created these as regular A6 size cards and ordered 35 of them. When I got my order I cut each card in half which created one card with a front and back and one card with an image on the front only. MDS won't allow you to place anything on the very back of your cards, so the bottom image was a stand-alone card and the back was blank except for the SU! printing.  I was thrilled with how they turned out. My only mistake, if you can call it that, was that the image on the back of the first card was upside down. I wish I'd thought ahead enough to realize that and I would have flipped it. Hopefully the family and friends who received that version weren't too annoyed by that little detail. I didn't hear any complaints! The top card, which included the smaller pictures of my kids on the back, went mostly to family (and to a few friends who had complained that we hadn't sent out a card with family pictures for a while, Chad.) The second card, which included only the family picture, went to everyone else.

By reducing the size of the cards and then cutting the number of cards I ordered in half, I was able to drastically reduce the cost of my cards to a number I was able to swallow. Although I don't have plans to use MDS for day-to-day card making, I do like the ability to create cards I need on a larger scale, like Christmas Cards, party invitations, birth announcements (for other people!), and the like. I love to make cards, but I don't ever enjoy making 100 of the same card. I also liked that I could use the program to create one calendar and then print off enough copies to share with my whole family. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

I'll be back tomorrow with a post about a big project my husband and I have been working on since about Thanksgiving. It's still ongoing, but nearing completion. I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm still here!!

I have been receiving a LOT of grief lately about not having updated my blog for months! So . . . for all of you who have been nagging me, Christa and Carrie!!, this is for you . . .

Of course I have about eleventy billion things I've made or done since I last posted in. um. October. Although I did post at least one quick thing in December. But we all know that doesn't really count. I really do want to get back on the blogging bandwagon. So, as a segue back into the blogging world, I wanted to share a couple of things I made for Christmas. The first thing is a calendar I made for my parents, parents in-law, and siblings using My Digital Studio. I made this 12x12 and I think next time I'd probably do the smaller size. Not only is it cheaper, but it's also easier to find a place to hang it. This post is going to be both my foray back into the blogging world and my first time downloading a MDS project into a movie and posting it on my blog!!  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! I'm giddy! Okay, now that I've made you all sorry I'm back, here's my project:

P.S. Please let me know if this video doesn't work. I'm still trying to figure it out! I also didn't think to upload it to music, so you'll just have to hum along.

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