Monday, April 30, 2012

We don't do cards.

A few years back, my husband and I made a decision to stop doing store bought cards to and from each other, and also from our kids.  After reading an idea in Real Simple Magazine, we decided to take a different approach.

I bought two journals in the office section at Target.  One for me, one for my husband.  My journal is at my bedside, and his is on his dresser--easy access for our kiddos and each other.  Whenever we feel the urge, we write notes to one another.  We also use this forum on birthdays, Mother's and Father's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas--and everything in between.  I love it.  As in, best-idea-ever kind of love.  My husband had a birthday a couple weeks ago.  He took that opportunity to look back at all the other notes, at the handwriting changes, at the drawings and doodles.  A book filled with love and sweet things, just for him.

We both are sentimental fools, and consider them total treasures.  I know as the years pass, that book will only become more loved. 

Enjoy your day!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Graduation Party Ideas

This is a busy graduation year. One niece is graduating from college, another from high school, and loads of friends have children who are in the same boat. So I've started the decor a bit early, knowing that it will be here before you know it...
These Cake Push Pops are darling, aren' they??  You can find them here.

Create a graduation newsletter for display during the party!  You can check the idea out here, along with fun and unique suggestions of what to include! 
Create a place for all those grad cards by using a hat box, paint, and foam core board!  You can check out the tutorial here.

If your grad is a "Smart Cookie"--why not play that up?  Click here for a free printable for the milk carton, report card and envelope, check out this post.
Custom party bags for favors sound fun to you?  These would be great for First Commnions, Confirmations, Sport Team Parties, or Graduations!!  How fun are these?  You can find them here.
These photo blocks are great for a wedding or shower, but could be just as beautiful as decor for a grad party, First Commuion or any special occasion! 

Remember this post?  The above is the same concept, only using black and white photos and a person's initials.  Why not use school colors, or "Class of 2012"?  The possibilities are endless!  You can find the above for $50 per letter, or make your own for about $15 each.  Fun idea, and personal.
You ca find the above banner here, or make your own using the Cricut or Silhouette.  Love that they used the award theme as pennants.  Unique and different!
I found these water bottle labels on Etsy here, but you could use the same concept for any type of party or occasion--showers, Team parties, graduations, etc.  If you print them out yourself, I recommend using clear packing tape to adhere them onto the water bottles, and make sure they're completely covered (in the event that it's warm outside and the bottle sweats, the ink won't run.)
This grad banner is AWESOME.  And it can be customized to fit your school colors!  I found it here.
I found these adorable grad caps here on Etsy, and am seriously thinking of trying this concept on my own.  Think I can attempt it??
Cupcake toppers are readily available, but for most grad parties, you'll find a cake.  The pinwheels could be used, but what about grad caps, award pennants, or diplomas strung on a line?  How cute!

These labels are custom and gorgeous.  Wouldn't these be cute customized, and attached to straws for a grad party?  It could totally work!
These letterpress digital invitations knocked my socks off.  I love, love, love them.  You can totally take the idea and make it your own, too!  I love the bold look and simplicity of it...
Photerrific cards are also a great way to personalize a grad invitation, special birthday, or team party.  You can upload a favorite photo and add all the personal details.  You can get them here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

White Balance

Last week, I was asked about correcting colors that seemed off by a friend. It prompted me to show her how to use her white balance setting on her camera, instead of AWB (auto white balance) which is the setting she's used to using...
These photos of our dog are unedited, using the different white balance options on my DSLR  (I shoot with Canon).  The above is the AUTO white balance.
Sunny setting.
Shady setting (and the most accurate in terms of color, for this group of photos!)
Cloudy setting
Incandescent light (light bulb)

Flourescent light.

And Custom.

Can you see the difference in color?  If you're having issues getting the right colors from your camera, you may want to pull out your manual and learn how to adjust your white balance settings.  Canon's are very user friendly, and mine is constantly being adjusted, given the situation. 

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thirty-One Bags for Scrapbooking.,,

Let me start of by saying that I'm not in the habit of endorsing products unless I truly love them. I've never had a Thirty-One party, and I'm in no way tied to or affiliated with them. That being said, I do LOVE a couple of their products, and find them to be durable and functional with regard to scrapbooking, and I wanted to share that with you today.
Tina got me this bag for Christmas.  I knew right away that it would be the perfect scrapbooking bag, and it is.  I mean, it was made for me.  I love it that much.  What is so special about it?  The fabric is a durable canvas, and the color allows it to not show dirt (although it does come in different colors.) 
There are three outside pockets on the back, and two on the front, along with two mesh pockets on the side--and larger tools fit perfectly in them (Crop-a-dile, Tiny Attacher, 4x6 photos, markers, etc.).  The handle is longer and durable.  The main compartment is deep and wide--and can hold 3-4 kit easily, along with some cardstock and still have enough room for my "extras" bag for scrap supplies.  It is awesome, and completely suits my needs.

Tina was sweet enough to even have it personalized with my name on it.  I love her for thinking of me...
A few weeks ago, my friend Laura brought this over as a thank you gift.  It is also a Thirty-One utility tote (Littles Carry-All Caddy)!  The way she used it was clever, too.  She lined the bag with yellow tissue paper, and placed a jar inside to hold the water.  What a thoughtful gift!!  I've been using it to organize stickers ever since.  Love!!

Enjoy your day!!  

First Communion Party Ideas

Tis the season for First Communions and Confirmations, right? Today I wanted to share a few unconventional ideas for those types of parties. For starters...
The best part of doing a First Communion or a Confirmation party is that you can do whatever you want.  Literally, the sky is the limit!!  I say this:  make it personal, and you'll have a winner.  Think about the guest of honor, and you won't be able to contain your creativity!!

For example--is the guest of honor a boy or girl scout?  Do they love to camp?  Maybe the above Smores in a jar would serve as a great dessert or take home party favor.  You can find the information on how to make them here.

Instead of doing cupcakes, consider Push-Up Pops!  They're fun, make a great display, and are easy to create.  Check out this book on Amazon--you'll head will explode with ideas!
These can be found here.
These can be found here.
These can be found here.
And the plastic push pops can be found here.
These stickers are personalized and can easily be added to the bottoms of Hershey's Kisses.  You can find them here.
You can use simple glass vases for centerpieces.  They're beautiful in their own right.
Maybe do a fondue bar--kids love those!  I love how these apple slices on sticks seem to scream, "PARTY!"
Why not create a candy bar, or in this case, a candy cart?  Personalize bags for guests to take home goods, and you've covered decor and favors in one shot!  (You can find more info here on the candy cart.)
You can view my past First Commuion post for my daughter here, and the party for my son here.

Enjoy your day!!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Target. My Weakness.

Target. You own me. Can you identify??
Yeah.  That's ME!!

I thought this one was funny, too...

So let me do a little enabling, yet again.  Because they've done it, yet again...
While in the store last week, I was giddy over quite a few new items in the housewares department.  I love how they knock off Pottery Barn and Ballard, for less than half the price.  I'm on a budget, people!!  The ampersand pillow and the #2 stool were favs.  I brought home the #3 pillow--I couldn't resist.  Three is the magic number, no?

Are you doing anything fun to spruce up your home this Spring?  I need to kick it into high gear here and do some painting, and this may just be the inspiration I need.

Enjoy your day!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Embrace the Camera

Thank you, Rebecca Cooper, for creating this wonderfully inspirational list. I need to bite the bullet and take more photos of myself with my kiddos. I'm a slacker in this arena...
She was inspired by this series...

And for those of you who are not on top of the Embrace your Camera concept, check out our former DT member, Emily Anderson, and her ever-growing crew here.  Her photos and fresh approach to parenting and the insanity of it all is comical, comfortable and truly inspiring.
Enjoy your weekend!!  And grab a few shots of you with your kids!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week is approaching...

With the first week of May quickly approaching, I thought I'd share a few awesome gifts in time for you to create and present them.  Please feel free to add your own ideas, too!!

The above photos were pulled from this article, "20 Fabulous Teacher Gift Ideas."  Some are homemade, others are purchased.  ALL are unique and fun!

Skip to my Lou is a terrific site that is dedicating an entire MONTH of ideas for Teacher Appreciation.  You can check them out here.  Tons of unique finds, and FREE printables!

Enjoy your day!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How is it possible??

This is a photo of me with my two of my closest high school friends at our graduation in 1985.
Coming up on 27 years now.  How is it possible?  I'm certainly not old enough to be out of high school that long.  Only OLD people say stuff like, "I've been out of high school for 27 years now."

The gal on the right is Sue.  I'm in the middle.  And the gal on the left is Kristin.

Two years after high school, I was the maid of honor at Sue's wedding.  Four years after that, I was the maid of honor at Kristin's wedding. 

We all got our degrees and became professionals.  Sue became a nurse, and Kristin and I chose teaching.

Sue moved to Missouri, but ended up in Georgia.  Kristin moved to Chicago and ended up near Houston.  I live within a mile from where we all grew up.

We all started families.  Sue had twin girls first.  Then shortly afterwards, had two more girls for a total of four for her and her husband, Shayne.  Kristin and her husband Jeff also started a family and had two girls.  I was the late bloomer of the group--the last to get married and the last to become a mama.

I vaguely remember there being a big gap in between years before the internet.  (Okay, sounding old again.)  As we re-connected as mothers via snail mail and eventually email, I also discovered we were all scrapbookers.  This came as no surprise to me, of course.  We all wrote notes in high school, loved office supplies, shared dreams of who we'd marry, wrote in each other's "MASH" books (there I go again!  LOL), and took tons of photos.

I distinctly remember going completley overboard with Christmas cards for about 5 years.  We each killed ourselves to make the BEST card.  I waited anxiously every season to get theirs so we could compare notes.  There was always a hand-written note and always photos of our growing families.  We all took the liberty to lift one another's ideas because we lived so far apart, no one would know.  Yes, a life before Facebook.

Sue was wonderful at writing letters by hand.  Many times, I'd receive letters from her in the mail, written on notebook paper, front and back, just like she did in high school.  Kristin was better at phone calls--even when we had to pay for long distance charges.

I distinctly remember reading a long letter from Sue one day.  And in the middle of that letter, she ever so subtly mentioned that she had a lump in her breast they were looking into, and that it looked to be cancerous, so to please hold her in prayer.  I immediately paniced.  Sue was not a drama queen.  It would be just like her to sugar-coat news like this.  When Shayne proposed to her, she mentioned it in the third paragraph of a four paragraph note to me--and I wanted to choke her for being so non-challant.  How is it possible??  She had no family history of breast cancer, and we were in our late 30's.  This kinda stuff didn't happen to people like her.  I was convinced and reassurred by her that everything would be just fine.

Her letters continued.  So did the many beautiful photos of her daughters.  She loved being a mother so much, she and Shayne decided to become foster parents.  She got especially attached to a little baby boy named Cooper, and even considered adoption at one point.  She sent photos of the two of them.  She looked great.  He hair grew back after treatment for breast cancer.  I hated to keep bringing it up, simply because she seemed to be well and healthy, and who was I to say anything.  Of course I'd know if something were to change.

Fast forward a couple of years.  She moved.  We moved.  Her husband's job required them to relocate a lot, and that came into play.  The internet and email came into play, but our emails changed along with the moves.  We kept in touch, exchanged photos of our ever-growing families.  And of course, Christmas cards.

I didn't become concerned immediately when I didn't get a Christmas card from her and her family in 2007.  I thought she'd be the first to do an e-card (she was the most computer savvy of the group.)  I waited until after the first of the year, and then I asked a few friends for advice, once I became suspecious.  Google didn't turn anything up for me.

It was my sister Chrissy who helped me.  She has always had mad computer skills, and I knew if something was out there, she'd find it.  And she did. 

Unfortunately, it wasn't good news at all.  Sue had passed away from breast cancer at the age of 41 on May 22, 2008.  I found out about it three weeks after her passing because Chrissy found an article on the American Cancer Society website.  An obituary wasn't published.  She never told me her cancer had returned.  She never shared anything remotely close to being that ill except a few years before, while going through treatment.  How is it possible??  How could she have shielded me from that kind of news, and how come I didn't pick up on it??  A million things ran through my head. 

A few years have passed now, and even still, I find myself asking how it is possible that she is not here on this earthly planet.  I know she loved me.  I know she would've wanted to shield me from the pain.  Maybe she just couldn't deal with telling one more person.  I may never know the answer to the "why."  But it doesn't really matter.  She's not here, and I miss her.  I loved her to bits.  And she loved me back.  We had a lot of laughter and a sisterhood that I'll never forget.  And that's what have taken from it.

A few more years have gone by.  I'm on Facebook.  So is Sue's "baby sister" (who has children of her own now) and so are Sue's daughters.  All four of them.  Her youngest will be graduating high school in a couple of months.  Sue's "baby" is now the age of that photo at the beginning of this post.  And I ask...How is that possible???

This picture stopped me in my tracks when I saw it posted earlier this week by one of Sue's daughters.  A photo of the four of them, all together, like the pictures I used to receive in cards and such from their mother.  I'm not going to lie.  I cried like a baby when I saw it.

Under the post on facebook, I wrote, "How is it possible that each one of you is so beautiful and unique--and GROWN UP??? My eyes are filled with tears as I type. Your mother would be SO PROUD of you all. I see a bit of her in each one of you. xo"

How is it possible that I see her in each and every one of their smiles and faces?  How is it possible that she isn't behind the lens, taking that photo?  How is it possible that she isn't here to talk about being their mother, to share stories and to compare notes?  How??  How have they managed without her?  Every girl needs her mother--especially at this time in their young lives .

How this is possible is beyond me.