tales from the crop

Laughing more. 
Learning new things. 
Not getting enough sleep. 
Singing Happy Birthday at 12:01am.
Being incredibly grateful for such a fun time.
That pretty sums up this weekend at Croptopia.

And how did it fly by so fast???

I feel so very blessed to be able to spend the weekend away with some very good friends, spending hours upon hours crafting our hearts out. I look forward to this weekend every year!

This year was especially fun because my bff Cheryl came along with us! Not only was it great having her around, but my boyfriend and her husband (who are also best friends) teamed up to surprise us with gift cards to the spa at the hotel we were staying at. 
 (you men are amazing)
Best. Facial. Ever. 
There were cupcakes to be had for a very special birthday, wine to be had and definitely good times to be had. 

I took an awesome photo editing class by the incredibly talented Sarah Kristiansen and can't wait to start using Lightroom to edit from now on!

And I got....drumroll please....9 pages done!!!
That may not seem like a lot, but it is a pretty good showing for me: Ms. Super-Slow Scrapper!

Oh, and I get home and the super wonderful mmb has a huge hug and a pesto pizza waiting for me for lunch and then suggests a trip to the ice cream shop for dinner.
That's right. I definitely had a rootbeer float for dinner. 

Does life get any better than this??

I am already looking forward to the next scrap weekend! 




Have you ever gone on a scrapping trip?


a crafting kind of weekend

How I feel:

It is here! Woohoo! In a matter of a few hours I will be on my way with some of my favorite ladies to CROPTOPIA!
We had SUCH an amazing time last year and I have been looking forward to this weekend since we left the last one! 
So hooray! I get to play with pretty papers and scissors and glue and ribbon and glitter and....well you know. ;-) 
A whole weekend of craftiness, girl talk and relaxation. Ahhhh, it has been long awaited! 

I hardly slept last night after I finally got packed and staying up waaaay too late to chat with mmb (who is the most thoughtful, amazing man I know... thank you for the wonderful surprise!)

So what are you all doing this weekend? I hope whatever it is, that it is just wonderful!


guess who's feeling sketchy?

I can't believe it!
I won the March Guest Design Team spot over at Sketchy Thursdays! 

I kinda feel like this...
THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who voted!  

I was up against some serious competition and am touched that you chose my layout to vote for. I mean really, all of the layouts were gorgeous and Dana, Karen W, Leah, and Scrappygal created some beautiful pages! I am honored to be amongst you ladies :)

Have I mentioned how much I am loving this site? I am specifically bringing my laptop to Croptopia to access Sketchy Thursdays. Their sketches are amazing and really help to get your creativity going.

I have already played along with this week's sketch. There's still time to play along this week if you hurry!

Ohhh I can't wait to create for the March sketches!
I'm gonna go jump around on the beach with my colorful balloons some more (not really, in actuality it is a snow day here!)...but I will be doing so in my mind ;-) 

Thanks again, everyone!!


getting sketchy, again!

It's playtime again over at Sketchy Thursdays!


and here is my take...

Are you going to join the fun this week???



I can't believe it! 
I just hopped on one of my favorite sites, Sketchy Thursdays, and found out that my 80's themed layout made it into the top 5 for March's Guest Design Team Spot! 

Did I mention that I cannot believe it?!? 
I am so SO excited even to be considered! 

You should pop on over and make a vote for your favorite layout. I'm warning you though- there 5 really great layouts, so it is going to be tough! 

The link to the  poll is in the left hand corner :)

"what do you mean chick peas are beans?" martha monday

I suppose that it a legitimate question. 

I mean, they are called chick peas
My poor meat-atarian boyfriend....
He claims to not like beans of any sort. How can I torture him so? 
Poor man had no idea he was eating beans...

What was this meal that has caused such mystery in our home this evening? Well, it was Martha's Pasta with Chickpea-Tomato Sauce, and it was delish! 

I didn't vary at all from the recipe (a first for me!) other than using linguine instead of shells. Just wasn't feeling that kind of pasta tonight. Oh, I also added a sprinkling of panko to the top just to give it a little extra texture. So...I guess I did vary a tid bit...but I didn't change the recipe itself at all.

It was very tasty! The sauce was light and fresh with the red pepper flakes and fresh torn basil adding just the right amount of zip. It wasn't as good as the pasta with chickpeas I had in Bermuda, but I would definitely make it again. 

p.s. mmb really liked it! though in the interest of full disclosure, I did add some crisped bacon to his. 

I have to get back to grad school work and getting ready to scrap the weekend away at Croptopia with three of my favorite ladies. Can't wait!! Three days of scrapbooking 'round the clock, hot tubbing, swimming, what promises to be an awesome photo editing class with the super talented Sarah Kristiansen  and perhaps a spa treatment....ahhhh heaven!


words to live by

To live content with small means; 
to seek elegance rather than luxury, 
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable; and 
wealthy, not rich; to study hard, 
think quietly, talk gently, act
listen to stars and buds, to babes, and 
sages, with open heart; await occasions, 
hurry never...this is my symphony. 

William Henry Channing
Do you have a favorite quote?


welcome to the world, miss ella mai!

This past Wednesday my very lovely and very brave friend Lindsey gave birth to her first baby. 

Meet Ella Mai.

Isn't she gorgeous?

She is just too cute for words! 
SO proud of you Linds. 
 You are already such a wonderful mom. 

And it is not a slight thing when they, who so fresh from God, love us. 
Charles Dickens

(layout made using Paislee Press products)


a little etsy love

Being holed up with this nasty cold all week has kind of been a drag. 

The positives?
It was vacation week and I didn't have to take any time off of work. 
I have had an excuse to drink copious amounts of tea. 
I could peruse etsy for little treasures at my leisure.

I guess having a cold isn't so bad after all ;-) 

What do you think of these little beauties I found?




How about you? Find any etsy treasure lately?


getting sketchy

What is one of the benefits of being snowed in with a yucky cold on vacation? You get plenty of time to peruse the interweb for creative and inspiring blogs.

Blogs like Sketchy Thursdays.

Do you play along with the sketches they put out every Thursday? I am fairly new to using sketches, but let me tell you...if you want to give it a shot, this is the site to try. Their sketches are great and they have amazing prizes for the winner of the challenges.

I found this fun sketch which also called for using hot pink, black and white as well as an 80's element. How fun!


and this is what I made...

the music in me

I am thoroughly and undoubtedly inspired by music. Due to this love, and because different songs evoke different emotions and memories, my itunes is about as eclectic as they come.
Seriously...I have everything from classical to pop to country to "religion rock" on there. 
Just think about how you can be driving and a song comes on the radio that instantly transport you back to a different time in your life. (Does hearing No Scrubs by TLC make anyone else out there think of driving through the back roads of a small town in a minivan with side door open? I know there is at least one of you out there....;) )

Think about your favorite movie, I bet you can name at least one song that when you hear it, you can instantly pinpoint the part of the movie it corresponds to. What would Titanic be without the violins playing as the ship sank?

Music can put you at peace, energize you, make you feel a range of emotions.

Music is powerful.
And I love it. 
So you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across Scrapping the Music, a fabulous blog that gives weekly scrapbooking challenges based upon... a song!

And I am playing along! What's that you say? Why yes, I do have a ton of work to catch up with other things, but I cannot resist a challenge that incorporates music! 

This week's challenge is based on Sara Evans' I Could Not Ask for More, here is my take...


Moments like these feel like Heaven. 

So are you up for playing along? Pop on over to Scrapping the Music and join in the fun!


martha's cashew chicken (or not)

Oh my, Martha. You hit the nail on the head with this one. 

Have you ever had a craving for chinese food, but could do without the famous "chinese food hangover"? You know...that icky sluggish feeling you get after eating food far too laden with msg and whatever else it is that contributes to that feeling that makes you swear you will never eat chinese food again?

Well, if you have ever suffered from this phenomenon and would like an easy and delicious recipe to satisfy that chinese food craving, I would highly recommend Martha's Cashew Chicken

To adjust this to my liking I added chopped red pepper, celery and pea pods. I also left the chicken out of mine, and although the cashews packed plenty of protein, I think next time I would add some tofu (to my dish only, relax mmb). 
Serve this over some jasmine rice with some chopsticks and, viola! A delicious dinner that leaves you with no regrets immediately following your last bite. 

Now, I must get back to this disaster...

Dear God, what have I gotten myself into? Yes..I have literally torn my scrap space apart in order to get some more organization going 'round here. 

Say a prayer for me ;-) 


taking back my health

Your body is your temple. 
The greatest wealth is health. 
You know how it goes...

So why is it that so many of us, (especially we Americans) ignore this and all too often overindulge ourselves? We eat to celebrate, we eat when we're stressed, we eat when we're sad. We don't get enough exercise. We don't get enough sleep. We try to cram 40 hours into a 24 hour day. We overwork and we underplay. 

Then we get sick. 
Or we get stressed. Or run down. 
We get tired. 
We get broken. 
We ignore what our bodies are trying to tell us. 
Slow down. Recharge. Nourish. Move me. 
Balance me. 
But we push on, trying to get one more thing done. Ignoring the signs. Carrying on.

And I am sooooo guilty of this. 

And I am already paying the repercussions and I don't like that. Now more than ever I realize that I cannot take my health for granted. Which is why I am taking back my health. 
That's right, body...did you hear me?

Now, I am not really an "unhealthy" person. I choose lots of fruits and vegetables. I don't eat meat. I do yoga when I can. I run when I can. I dance while I clean the house ;-) I just feel like I can be doing more. More exercise, more whole foods.

So, I am taking back my health.
Not only for now, but for 5 years, 10 years, 50+ years from now. 
I want to be healthy for all those I love. I want to raise a healthy family someday. I want to be around, and be energetic and feel my best. I want to be healthy because this is the body that God gave me and I should be taking care of it. How can I do what I was put on this earth to do if I am too tired to do it? I want to be healthy for me, because when I am making good choices and feeling balanced, I feel my best. 
And I like feeling my best. 

All this sounds good, right? So what am I going to do?
Well, for starters I am going to really evaluate my diet. I eat pretty well now, but I am going to focus more on making sure that at least 80% of the foods I eat are organic and clean foods, and that my meals are well balanced. I am going to schedule more exercise in, no matter how difficult that may be.
And I am not going to just talk about it. I am going to do it. 
Because I cannot afford not to.

Now, this doesn't mean that I am never going to eat a french fry or a s'mores sundae again, just make better choices when I choosing hand cut, unprocessed fries or homemade ice cream. I don't think this will be too difficult as I do not eat much of that stuff now.  But again, I feel like I can be doing more.
Like eating at the dining room table with the tv off a couple more nights a week. We try to do this at least once a week, but I am thinking we should bump up our goal. 

I'm going to take advantage of all the great resources out there as well, including this book and the blogs below.

And I am just going to remind myself that being healthy is a choice. And a good one. The most important one, in fact. 
See ya, sluggishness. Optimum health, here I come!

Hmm, perhaps I need a new apron for my new cooking adventures? ;-) 

And so I leave you with this thought...
'If you want to do your best for future generations of humanity, for your friends and family, you must begin by taking good care of yourself.' ~ Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche

If you know of any healthy living books, blogs or websites that you would recommend, please pass them along!  I'd love to hear what you all do to keep up your health and feel your best.


longing for spring

February vacation is finally here! Has me wishing for warmer days and more sunlight...








it will be here soon!


it's almost v-day...

I have to admit, I don't really care for the commercialism of Valentine's Day very much, but I certainly love the holiday. Well...truth be told, I love any reason to celebrate. Flag Day, anyone?

Every year I make mmb a little something crafty to express some extra love to him. I made this mini-album for him two years ago to thank him for 14 of the ways that he makes every day feel like Valentine's Day to me. Just full of the simple little things he does every day that makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world.

I heart this man. 
More than words can say.



In case you didn't know, this year Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year happen to fall on the same day! Hooray! ( I told you, ANY reason to celebrate...) So we're going to go to our favorite Irish Pub for lunch for v-day and get our customary Chinese New Year dinner from our favorite Asian restaurant. Yikes, I better get in some extra yoga on Saturday! ;-)

Are you celebrating? 


more catching up, more gratitude

Have you ever flown to another state and back within 24 hours?
But, I took advantage of our plane ride to Florida to try and catch up on some more DYL. 
I only got one quick Real World Color layout done because my mind was spinning in all sorts of directions. I am grateful for the welcome distraction the scrapping gave me.

Yesterday mmb & I went to Florida because it was my mom's birthday and her friends had a planned a memorial service for her and my stepfather who passed away in an accident just nine days after she did, just a couple of months ago. 
I am still reeling from all of this. 
It is hard to think of life ever being the same. 

But I don't even want it to be the same. Even if I wanted it to be, it would be impossible. 

Although right now life seems to be in shades of grey and red, there are moments of clarity where I can see the vibrant colors that each day brings. Even more vibrant than before. 
This is a gift that they have given me. 
And although I am sad, and angry and confused at the way I had to receive it, I am grateful for it just the same. 

I am so grateful for all that her wonderful friends have done and for getting to see a glimpse of what her life was like in the years we were separated. She was a magnificent person, as was my stepfather, and together they were amazing. The truest of love stories. 
I am grateful for that too. 

Someday I will share the story. Once I find the words. Or maybe I already have the words. 
I am not sure. 
But I have a feeling they might come more easily once my mom's art supplies get here.
And I am grateful for that, too.  

What is something you are really grateful for in your life?


drive-by blogging

Does anyone have a couple of extra hours in their day that I could borrow?

This is a class weekend for me, so I haven't had any time to get to fun stuff like scrapbooking, or taking pictures, or spending time with the man I love and those cute little furballs that run around our home. I did, however,  get treated to a nice sushi dinner date when I got home from class tonight :-) My newest sushi love...vegetable tempura sushi, yummy!

These class weekends are challenging with their 26 hours jam packed full of info. Though I must say, I am pretty psyched about this literacy class I am taking right now and cannot wait to try out some of the new techniques with the kiddos! 

Once this weekend is over, it is going to be a whirlwind of activity around here. One, possibly two, quick trips in the next two weeks, working on assignments for this class, catching up on work for the BPS classes I am enrolled in, and organizing, organizing, organizing! I just ordered this book which I am hoping will help me FINALLY get an organized and efficient workspace for my scrapbooking. 

If you don't see me on here too frequently over the next few days, don't worry...I'll be back soon :) I'm looking forward sitting down with a cup of tea and being able to catch up on my google reader filled with all of your wonderful posts! 

Til then, I leave you with this....
Although I have always been a huge picture taker, I've noticed that ever since I got my DSLR that I take about 10 times the amount I used to. 
Has this phenomenon happened to anyone else? ;-)

I found this layout I made with an embellishment kit I got from Magpie Club a few months back. It was buried beneath a pile of things I have been meaning to file away (oh, PLEASE, Amazon, hurry with that book!)!

And p.s., If you haven't had the good luck to discover Magpie yet, I would definitely recommend making it a point to do so. The kits are jam packed with beautiful, high quality products. And as an added bonus they even offer a special "credit crunch" kit for only $12.50! Such a generous offer for such great supplies. Definitely worth checking out.

See you soon, blog friends!


catching up on DYL

Boy, am I behind on my Design Your Life class. But, hey...such is life at times. I'm not going to stress over it. What's the point? It will be there when I get to it, right?

I did manage to put together the pre-course layout together last night (I told you I was behind!). And while I did deviate from the traditional red, green and brown theme that was suggested, I used colors that I don't usually gravitate toward. I really like the way it turned out. I even impressed myself by changing the colors of the logo in photoshop ;-) I think I achieved my goal of summing up what I love about scrapbooking.

I'm hoping to get to some more pages tonight, but I do have some homework and organizing to get to. And I should probably get in some yoga. Hmm, I wonder if I can make a layout while doing that would be something!

p.s. does anyone have any good tips about photographing your layouts? I would love some advice! 


baked shells with winter squash

Hello out there. Hope everyone had a nice Monday. The weekends go by so quickly! 

For this week's Melissa & Martha Monday I whipped up M-lady's Baked Shells with Winter Squash recipe. And oh my goodness, is this one to warm your soul (and your house as the comforting aroma of sage and squash drift through your rooms). You might even think it is Thanksgiving for a moment if you close your eyes and try hard enough. 


The creaminess of the squash and the soothing properties of the calefacient sage made this one an instant comfort food for me.

I pretty much followed the recipe, with the only variances being using fresh sage and fresh squash versus dried and frozen. I also opted to have bigger pieces of butternut in the dish so I used half puree and half bite sized pieces. 

My one complaint was that I found it to be a bit bland, even with the fresh herbs. I think next time I might roast the squash with a little olive oil and sea salt or add some caramelized onions. Maybe even some apples sauteed in a little butter and brown sugar...I'll let you know how that goes ;-)

mmb liked it just fine, but as a side dish. For you carnivores I would suggest perhaps adding pork or sausage, either would be a nice complement to the cold weather flavors in this dish.

Well that is it for this week's Melissa & Martha Monday. Meet me back here next week for another one! 

I'm off to play catch up with DYL, or do my taxes... Whichever one grabs my attention first.
Any guesses which I'll choose? ;-)