The week of....

  • Movies - the latest releases in the theater; the latest releases on DVD; favorite Christmas movies
  • Popcorn - theater popcorn with butter part way through the bag and then again on top; my own bag because others add extra salt and that's WAY too much for me
  • Munching - leftovers from Christmas dinner; snacks from neighbors; favorites like caramel chocolate dipped pretzels, corn pop candy, and fudge; crackers and cheese ball; chips and dip
  • Eating out - it is the last week before the NEW year, which means undoing the damage done in the last month and more; plus there are restaurant gift cards that must be used
  • Hanging out in jammies - mornings are slow; jammies acceptable attire
  • Real breakfasts - hash browns; scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese; fried eggs and pancakes; scones (the deep fried kind)
  • No schedules - I am the master of my own time!


Christmas Eve

Some how Christmas Eve snuck up on me this year. It isn't that I'm not ready - the gifts are bought and wrapped, the decorations are up, the grocery shopping is done. It just seems too early for Christmas Eve.

Somehow the weeks slipped away this year. Between meetings, parties, puppy classes, wedding receptions, and regular life, the days passed way to quickly.

And yet, tonight was just as planned. Dinner with J's family - homemade pizza, deviled eggs, crackers and cheese ball, orange frappe, and candies from J's niece. The white elephant gift exchange was memorable with people vying for the few gifts worth taking home and hoping you didn't end up with something that would resurface next year or the year after as a gift. And J's sister-in-law shared a cute activity with the kids that talked about the meaning behind the symbols of Christmas - the perfect reminder of the reason for the season.

So here I sit, with the holiday lights on, hoping I get one last gift put together for K and J tonight. But mostly grateful for the gift my Savior has given me - the chance to live with him again. I love this season. Love the feelings it brings out. Love the decorations. Love the reminder of my purpose here on earth.

I am grateful for Christmas and the love it surrounds me with. Merry Christmas!


The tree that keeps on "living"

For years we had a real tree - we'd spend hours out in the cold going from tree lot to tree lot until we found the perfect tree. And then we made the move to a "fake" tree. We got it on sale after the holidays. This was back in the days when trees didn't come with lights, so I spent the first year putting on about 800 lights. It was beautiful!

For years I've pulled that tree out of storage, fluffed it, and plugged in the lights. The first few years I had no doubts the lights would come on. The last five or so years I have held my breath each year, saying a silent prayer that the lights would come on. And each year the lights have come on. It is beautiful!

For years this was my "prissy" tree; the one that was color coordinated. It started out as red and white. Then one year it was green and white with silver. Then my favorite color was approved and we had a purple and gold tree. My decorating skills were just budding at that time and while everything matched, it wasn't a well decorated tree. But it was beautiful!

For years the hodge podge trees were the preferred trees and my "prissy" tree was tolerated. And then a few years ago we were out Christmas shopping and found the most beautiful tree decorated in earthy tones like orange, red, green, brown, and gold. It had such a random mix of ornaments and yet it all came together to create a stunning tree. That was the year everyone at our house wanted a "prissy" tree, although it was never called a prissy tree. And the new tree was beautiful!

For years now I have improved my decorating skills and now that sweet tree we bought over 20 years ago is displayed in full glory, covered in a stunning array of red and white decorations that are a random mix with a few themes mixed in (if you look close enough). And the lights came on again this year. The tree is beautiful!


Shop, wrap, repeat

Saturdays are our main shopping days, which makes Sunday a big wrapping day. We bring out the gifts, spread out the wrapping supplies, and dive in. We usually watch a holiday movie, unless there's a really good football game on and then it takes precedence.

Today was no exception - lots of shopping. Plus, I have gifts that I've bought over the past few months. So tomorrow will be a fun day of wrapping.


It wouldn't be Christmas

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without foods and treats. Some are from years past, others came with time, and some happen some years and not others.

  • Fudge - a staple as a child and still a part of Christmas present, but it must be the Fantasy Fudge recipe
  • Popcorn balls - J makes the best ones in town and their red/pink color just for the season
  • Corn pop candy - this recipe came from some friends years ago and we've adapted it a bit; it uses the Corn Pops you find on the chip aisle and is coated in a buttery sugar syrup and you can't stop eating it once you start
  • Prime Rib - the food of choice for Christmas dinner and melt in your mouth perfection with a little horseradish sauce on the side
  • Brussel Sprouts with special sauce - I for one do NOT partake of the Brussel Sprouts but no Christmas dinner is complete without them (why we can't make the sauce for something worthier like broccoli or cauliflower is beyond me)
  • Caramel & Chocolate covered pretzel rods - this is a new addition and one that doesn't always get made each year, but oh so worth it
  • Homemade caramels - another thing that doesn't always get done but when I do get them made they are really, really good
  • Scalloped potatoes - J makes a good batch of scalloped potatoes and Brianna could eat every last drop
I'm sure I've missed something but that's the highlights. Wow, I think I'm hungry!


Christmas Behind the Scenes

I love taking pictures of our decorations and this year is no exception. I have pictures of every tree in the house plus closeups. There are photos of the lights on the railing, the beautiful rugs on the walls, the festive mantel, a dozen or more of the village and the nativities. Everything is picture perfect.

Here's the reality. We have two rambunctious puppies that love to chase each other, especially around things like the ottoman, the kitchen island, and especially the Christmas tree, plus an established hound (Mabel prefers not to be called old) that loves to sleep under the tree and scruff the tree skirt. And while overall they are very good to leave the ornaments and decorations alone, every now and then a casualty happens and it is hard to keep an eye on them constantly. Plus it freaks me out to see the tree sway back and forth or spin ever so slightly.

And so we've implemented a few additions to the normal decor.

Kitchen bar stool on family room side

Kitchen bar stool AND chair on kitchen side

Gate into front room; often it is between the family room and entry so they don't head downstairs or into the front room

Unable to protect the Disney village, Pluto's dog house seems to have had a close encounter today
Does it still feel like Christmas even with these non-traditional items included in the decor? You bet! Likely you won't see them since we tend to grab and stash things if the door bell rings. Gotta preserve that picture perfect look and Christmas must go on!


To Shop or Not to Shop?

That is the question that most people ask when it comes to Black Friday. And typically, we go shopping on Black Friday, but we don't get up at the crack of dawn with the crazies, but sleep in and then hit the sales that end at 11:00 or so.

This year the plan was no different, until K got an idea in her head. She had purchased part of what she needed for her managers but needed to go to several stores in the Salt Lake City area. The plan was to do that on Black Friday. But she got to thinking. Instead of fighting the crowds that morning, why not go when the store opens at midnight? We aren't going for all the sale items so we can go in, get what we need, and get out. Great plan!

So off we headed to Salt Lake at 11:30 Thursday evening. We got to the first Kohls and there was still a line outside, which meant we had officially joined the ranks of the crazies, but it moved rather quickly. We went to the back, found what we wanted, paid, and headed to the car. Unfortunately, we still needed a few more. So we headed to the next Kohls. Here we hit the jackpot and found the exact number we needed so we jumped in line. Now mind you, the line was at the back of the store and starting down the middle aisle. AND there were two lines - one for each side of the store that took this lovely path. We got in line with hopes that it would move quickly (and the store person monitoring the lines was SURE it would only take about 20 minutes). One hour and 30 minutes later, we reached the check out. By then we had acquired a couple other items that would make great gifts for family, we had watched the people in front of us take turns standing in line while the others shopped, and bonded with the people behind us about the lack of carts and how our arms were about to fall off.

We arrived home a little after 3:30 am and passed a few people that looked like they were heading out for the stores opening at 4:00 and 5:00.

Even though we didn't get a lot of sleep, it was a fun adventure. We chatted, looked at things that were on sale and wondered who bought them, commiserated with other shoppers, discussed what we wanted to do that weekend, and basically just enjoyed hanging out. I'm not sure I'm ready to do it again anytime soon, but it makes for a good story and an even better memory.


Christmas Tree Memories

Christmas Trees have always played a big part in my Christmas celebration.

As a child, we had a live tree that we covered with strings of popcorn and cranberries, paper chains, miniature candy canes, ornaments made at school throughout the years, and clumps of tinsel (because what kid has enough patience to put tinsel on one strand at a time).

My first year at college we didn't have much money, but we bought a cute little tree, or what we thought was cute. We didn't have a tree stand and the slats that were hammered into the bottom of the 4" trunk didn't do much to support it, so we tied a string to the top and thumb tacked the string into the ceiling to keep the tree upright. I have no idea what we decorated it with, but that string was a life saver.

A few years later I had a job and a bigger tree was in the budget. We spent an evening decorating it with lights, glass balls, and a few ornaments we had collected. We also had a kitten that year that was very curious. So we made sure that each day when we left for work the sliding door from the hall to the front room was closed and the kitten was in the back. One day we came home to the tree lying in the middle of the front room. The kitten had managed to open the sliding door enough to squeeze through it and then proceeded to climb the tree, which caused it to topple. We gathered up the frightened kitten, picked up the broken balls, and put the tree back together.

Now we have five trees - four of which are undecorated and redecorated each year. I LOVE decorating the trees. It's a creative experience as I strategically place all sizes and shapes of decorations as well as a trip down memory lane as I think back on where the ornaments came from (some we've had for 20 plus years). I am amazed at the process my tree decorating has taken over the years, even over the past 10 years or so. What used to be a fun tree has turned into a creative project. Where before ornaments were carefully placed to find "balance" and had to be hung just so now are randomly placed to create balance and are hung to fill space rather than to hang perfectly.

I also have many memories tied to the trees we decorated for the Thomas family and the joy that experience brought each of us. What started as a simple favor grew to a multi-hour time of decorating that combined singing to carols that played in the background, laughing over stories from the past, words of approval when the decorating was finished, and pizza to wrap up the time together. And while this tradition has ended, the memories live on forever.

I'd have to say that Christmas trees play an integral part in my Christmas experience. Does that mean it wouldn't be Christmas without a tree? No, because Christmas is about what is inside me. But Christmas trees will always be a part of my memories - the good, the bad, and the unforgettable.


Countdown to Christmas

I remember being in college when I got my first advent calendar, the kind with chocolate for each day. I thought it was the coolest thing ever!!! I mean, who doesn't love an excuse to eat chocolate each day. The funny thing is, I have a vague recollection of putting cotton balls on Santa's beard each day when I was very little but it's kind of a fuzzy memory so I still think of the college memory as my first.

Now...well my countdown really starts in November - the first day of November. That's the day I put my Christmas music on my iPod and start listening just to Christmas music on the drive to and from work and while at work. Then there's the countdown to when the decorating starts. First we have to clean carpets and furniture and deep clean the house. So depending on the anticipated decorating start date, we back up to the weekend before for the cleaning process. Once the decorating is done, well then, I don't really count anything anymore. Well, I should take that back. I count how many pay periods there are left and compare that to the amount of shopping to do - the goal is to have those two match or have more pay periods than shopping items.

This year I bought supplies to make an advent calendar. I found these adorable canvas shapes that I plan to add numbers to and decorate in some fun way. I wonder where I put those?? Maybe they'll be ready for next year.

But I think the most memorable Advent calendar is the one we made for the Wheatley's kids. It was a box that had 25 drawers that were each numbered. We bought itty bitty ornaments and a cute little tree and a few candy treats. We filled each drawer with an ornament and added a candy to a few as well. The kids opened a drawer each day and put the ornament on the tree and when the tree was decorated, it was Christmas. It was so fun to see their excitement when they opened it the first time. And even more fun to see it in their kitchen each year thereafter.

Christmas is definitely worth counting down to and I really need to find those canvas shapes so I can make an advent calendar. Have I mentioned that I love Christmas! Happy counting.


I'm dreaming of...

The perfect Christmas. 'Cause every girl has got to dream, right? The thing is, I love our Christmases. I love our decorations, the time we spend together, the food we have, the things we do to get ready, the warm and happy feeling, the songs I sing almost constantly, the sitting with only the Christmas lights on at night enjoying the quiet and beauty...

But there are a few things that I would add to the list and they are usually things I can't control, but some I definitely can.

I want snow on Christmas. Well really, I want snow for the entire time the Christmas decorations are up - it is so beautiful and enhances the lights and decorations. But I also think it would be amazing to wake up to snow like the scene at the end of A Christmas Story - everything is covered in about a foot of snow and looks like a big, fluffy blanket (I think the twinkly music helps it seem magical too).

I would also make AND send Christmas cards. I hate to confess that there have been a few times I've made the cards and then not sent them, but more often I don't even get them made. This year, I happen to have four or five made (leftover from a card swap). I really like them and I've vowed to myself to use them. But just in case, here's what they look like. Can I count this as sending one? Just kidding!

Next I would have more time. Time to do things with others like make and decorate cookies, go sledding, make gingerbread houses, make neighborhood gifts, take walks in the snow, watch Christmas movies, and so much more. I would also make sure the time was BEFORE Christmas - I usually save my vacation days for the time between Christmas and New Years so I don't have to go to work, which I love, but it would be fun to have days before as well. And if I'm dreaming, let's just make it the whole month of December or at least a couple weeks.

I would also love if the news only shared happy and uplifting stories. That wars ceased, everyone had food, crime stopped, and people spent their time showing their love to each other. But wouldn't that be nice if that were the case all year long and not just during the holidays. I think that's why I love the song "The Secret of Christmas" so much - it says it's not the things you do at Christmastime, but the little things you do, all year long.

And so this dream comes to an end, but it leaves me inspired to see what I can take from the dream state to reality. To make the time for the things I want to do. To send the cards I've made. To lift those around me and then carry the Christmas spirit with me the whole year through. I love Christmas and all it comes with - music, lights, special movies, extra time with loved ones, giving to others, decorations, snow, and of course, food. So here's to making my dreams come true this holiday season!


Ahh, Christmas....

December is here, which means the Christmas season is underway. The house is decorated to the gills as usual, with a few new things thrown into the mix. The puppies are pretty good about not bothering the decor, although Eeyore in the Disney village is missing a portion of his mane and the family room tree has bar stools on two sides so they can't wrestle under or race around the tree (it is amazing that it hasn't toppled yet).

Last year at this time we were coated in a lovely winter white and while we have had several snow storms, not enough has accumulated to last more than a day. And I'm torn this year - I love the beauty that snow provides and the final touch it puts on the holidays, but the puppies need time outside to play and aren't as eager to go out when it is cold and snowy. So I'm not praying for snow yet, but have to admit I was excited when I came home to snow falling yesterday (it appears the weather man doesn't know which part of the state we live in since the forecast was for snow in the central part and I'm pretty sure we are considered Northern Utah).

I'm highly tempted to cut a few snowflakes and hang them up as encouragement for the snow to make it's official appearance. I did this as a child and it always seemed to work its magic, plus it was a fun activity and a great decoration for the windows. If I do take up the cutting challenge, it will be for a garland. Seems more grown up, but then again, my bedroom windows need a little sprucing up!

Until the real snow comes, I'll enjoy the snowflake decorations on the trees. This is one of my favorites - well of the pictures I've taken so far this year. I think every tree in the house has at least one snowflake ornament or garland or other type of snowflake as a decor item.

Can you tell I LOVE snow?? Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow......


Day 30 - Grateful for getting things done

I have toiled, agonized, groaned, inwardly cursed, rejoiced, and more on a project at work for about a week and today I finally finished it. Yes, there are a few tweaks to make and some additional information to add, but the bulk of the work (and the brain draining part) is now behind me. LOVE getting to this point!

I am grateful for the skills I have that allow me to complete complex projects and even more thankful for the wonderful feeling that comes with completing a task.


Day 29 - Thankful for leftovers

Thanksgiving provides some of the best leftovers - turkey, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, and more. It's nice to come home at night and know there is something yummy that only requires a little reheating time before you can eat.

In fact, I think I'll go have me a little stuffing - love those leftovers!


Day 28 - Thankful for hair dye

Yes, I did say hair dye. I've been greying since my mid-20s and most of the time I color it often enough that I don't really realize how much grey I have. Well this time I waited a little too long. Oy, I'm getting old and grey! Luckily most of it is only visible if you lifted up the top layers, but there are more grey hairs than brown now by a long shot. Enter Garnier hair color - heaven bless the person that created this life-saving beauty item. I admit, I'm a little vain about my hair color - I don't want to look older than I am (I'm old enough as it is :) ).

So today, I'm grateful that when I was drying my hair, going layer by layer, no grey hair was visible because that beautiful, green box called Cool Tea washed it all away!


Day 27 - Thankful for a decorated house

Most years we are decorated the weekend of Thanksgiving, but this year, we started earlier than usual because of the puppies. Wow did it take a long time! But everything is done and I'm so grateful that we are finished. Now I can enjoy the lights and decorations each night before I go to bed. And we're ready for the party on Friday night!

I'm grateful for Christmas decorations and having this part of the holidays behind us.


Day 25 - Thankful for sunshine

While it wasn't a super sunny day, the rain they predicted didn't come, which meant a walk with the puppies and plenty of time for the hounds to play outside. At this time of year I am usually longing for snow (which I still am in a way), but with the puppies, nice weather is so much better because then they can play outside and get their wiggles out.

So I'm grateful for nice weather this late in November - but will also be very excited when the snow comes.


Day 24 - Grateful for good food and family

Spent Thanksgiving with J's family today (which really is my family by association). The food was wonderful - so many good cooks in the family. Had a great time chatting, watching football, and chasing the puppies. I'm grateful for my extended family and for their willingness to accept me so willingly into their family. And I'm grateful for all that I have.

Today was a great day filled with good food and time with people I love. I'm grateful for days like today.


Day 23 - Thankful for a blessed life

I have so much to be grateful for. I live in a free country with friends that I love dearly. I have a very good job. I live in a beautiful and comfortable home. I have dogs that brighten my day in so many ways. I am surrounded by friends and family. I believe in Christ and know that some day I will return to his presence. I could go on and on because I truly am blessed.

I am grateful for all that I have been blessed with. Life is good!


Day 22 - Thankful for escaping the office

Today we had a team activity and it was so nice to escape the office for a few hours and enjoy time with people I work with and enjoy being with. I'm grateful that I have a boss that understands that you need to do fun things together as well as work together. And I'm grateful for a few hours to do something non-work.


Day 21 - Thankful for Chocolate

Some days chocolate is what makes the day or helps you get through the day. And I find that some of my favorite chocolate candies appear at this time of year - Mint M&Ms, Cadbury Christmas balls, Sweet's Orange or Raspberry Sticks, Mint Truffle Kisses, and Dove's Peppermint Bark Promises (these are to die for).

Ah, life is good, especially when there is chocolate!


Day 20 - Thankful for the beauty of Christmas lights

I recognize that it is still November AND not yet Thanksgiving, but Christmas decorating starts early around here. Partly because it takes at least a week to get everything up (at least before we got the puppies - now it appears to take twice as long) and partly because I LOVE having the decorations up as long as I can, especially the lights.

There is something so absolutely peaceful and soothing about Christmas lights. Whether on a tree, the mantel, the railing - you get the idea, I can sit and stare at them or use them as the main light source. I love all white, but I also enjoy a good color combination.

And so tonight as I sit in my family room with the Christmas lights on, I'm grateful for their beauty and the peaceful feeling they instill in me.


Day 19 - Thankful for a weekend home

It has been absolutely wonderful being home this weekend, especially knowing it isn't just for one weekend, but for several months of weekends. There is nothing like getting up and enjoying time just being awake and not having to rush to do anything (well except feed the hounds).

I'm so very grateful for home, weekends, and especially weekends at home.


Day 17 - Grateful for take out

Some weeks are busy and others feel insanely busy. The funny thing is, this week really hasn't been insanely busy but I think hitting this point in the year has me feeling a little out of control (just finished my last work trip, holidays approaching, gearing up for next year's events). So when it was suggested that I stop and pick up dinner on the way home from Ruby River, I was thrilled. I love that restaurants do take out, especially places that we love to eat at. The meal was delicious and we didn't have to lift a finger to make it.

I'm very grateful for good food that is made for me :)


Day 16 - Grateful for sleeping puppies

Although I'm a little partial, I think these pups are mighty cute, whether sleeping or awake. But tonight when I peeked into their pen to check on them, there they were curled up with each other and Hazel's paw over the top of Gracie as if she were protecting her little sister. It was so sweet! I love checking on them while they are sleeping to see what position they are in - sometimes on their backs, other times curled up next to each other, and occasionally on opposite ends.

Tonight I am thankful for two adorable puppies that love each other and want to be close to each other especially when sleeping.


Day 15 - Grateful for cozy sweater vests

Today wasn't the coldest day recently, but I was chilled most of the day and the sweater vest I wore was cozy and comforting. I love that feeling of being wrapped in warmth and softness. It took the edge off the chill and was easy to remove when I did get really warm at work (that only lasted about an hour while we were moving around a lot).

I'm grateful for the warmth my cozy sweater vest provided.


Day 14 - Grateful for a day at home

Although I didn't get much done, it was wonderful being home. I played with the pups, did laundry, and relaxed. It was exactly what I needed!

I'm grateful that after working the weekend I get to stay home on Monday.


Day 13 - Thankful to be home

I love my job, the people I meet, and the energy I gain from being at the events. But, I also get to this point in the year and am so very ready to be home. I love the comfort and peace in our home. I love being with the hounds. I like having my daily routines. I like spending time with those that I love.

So today I'm grateful for the end of my travel and time to be home.


Day 9 - Thankful for snuggly puppies

Most mornings the pups are so excited to be up that once they eat they start wrestling and playing. This morning they played some, but then each found a toy and brought it over and sat next to me while they chewed away. They also would run over and nuzzle my neck (before biting my hair :) ). It was so sweet and melted my heart - just one more way they are making sure they are embedded in our lives.

I'm thankful for the sweet side of the pups, especially when I won't see them for a few days while I'm traveling. It made leaving a little harder, but left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling that's stayed with me all day.


Day 8 - Thankful for...

I tried to find one word or a simple way to say what I'm grateful for, but couldn't. It needs more than that. I'm thankful for the knowledge I have of life after death, of a Heavenly Father that loves me, and to know that some day I will return to his presence.

I attended a funeral today that was very sweet - the stories shared about the wonderful woman we were honoring were enlightening, funny, and touching. It was a time to reflect on my life and what I want to do with it and if I'm on the right track. I'm by no means perfect or even close, but this knowledge carries me through and helps me focus on what is important.

I'm grateful for my knowledge of my Heavenly Father and his plan for me.


Day 6 - Thankful for naps

Since the new pups my sleep has been interrupted and I'm getting more and more tired. Today I struggled to stay awake during a wonderful lesson at church - so frustrating!! And so I came home, curled up on the couch and dozed for about 20 mins. It was heavenly!

So today I'm grateful for the refreshing and rejuvenating effects of a brief nap.


Day 5 - Grateful for an extra hour

Yes, I much prefer Fall Back to Spring Forward when it comes to time changes. I've heard several people talk about how they'll use this extra hour - most very productively. Me, I'm up later than I'd like, so that means I'll be using that extra hour for sleep, which happens to be a favorite weekend activity.

I'm thankful that we get back an hour and I'd really be fine with not changing the clocks at all in 2012 - in case anyone wanted to know. Enjoy your extra hour!


Day 4 - Thankful for weekends

Some weeks when you get to Friday you are more grateful than usual for the weekend. That would be this week! The week was good, just busy and the weekend offers the hope of time to catch up. So I'm grateful for a change of pace for the next two days.


Day 3 - Grateful for Time to Create

Today at work I had the wonderful opportunity to design two cards. It was a blast!!! It is unfortunate that most of the time I have to have a reason to be creative or make something. But that's the reality of life right now.

Regardless, I am grateful for the time I had to create today and for the satisfaction it provides in my life.


Day 2 - Thankful for Christmas Music

I know, it is only November 2nd, but at least I waited until November! Christmas music makes me happy! I know all the words to most of the songs and can sing at the top of my lungs or pretend I'm singing with an amazing choir (I would love to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but that be a dream). Christmas music makes my commute more enjoyable. Christmas music speaks to my soul - it brings out emotions, memories, and feelings that are often deeply buried. Christmas music should be a year round experience.

So today, I'm grateful for Christmas music and the wonderful feeling it instills in me.


A Month of Gratitude - 2011

I try to remember to be grateful year round, but November naturally lends itself to focusing on gratitude. And so I'll spend the month appreciating what I have through word and photos. Just like last year, items I'm grateful for are in no particular order, just what come to mind that day.

Today I'm grateful to be surrounded by people that care about me, who check on me when they think something is up, who love me no matter how weird or emotional I get, who understand my quirks, who are there for me no matter what, who laugh, cry, smile, and share hugs. My life is so much better because of these people.


CKU Blog Hop - Mixed Media Canvas

 Hi and welcome to the CKU Blog Hop! We’re excited to share with you projects that we hope get you excited about CKU Reunion, whether you’ve already registered, are planning to come, or wishing you were coming. The blog hop is from Friday, October 7th at 10:00 am MT until Saturday, October 8th at 10:00 am MT. If you get lost during the hop, come back here for the hop order (below). Have fun hopping!

Last winter I took Christy Tomlinson's SheART Workshop and loved playing with the various mediums, doodling, and letting loose as I created. The only problem was, I'm not very good with making cute girls (mine was a little on the "fluffy" side). So when I was thinking about a project for this blog hop I thought it would be fun to try some of the techniques I learned in that workshop but with a twist.

This canvas is a tribute to my sweet Basset Hound Cleo. I love this picture of her. The great thing about making a canvas is you can play and if you don't like something, add another layer or stamp something over it.

What you need to get started is a white canvas (you can get them at any hobby store like Michael's, JoAnns, or Hobby Lobby - mine is a 8x11 size), paper, photo, Mod Podge, stamps, StazOn ink, paint, brushes, rub-ons, and a heat tool (for quickly drying in between layers).

This picture shows the basic background I applied to the canvas. Everything is adhered with Mod Podge and totally dried before starting the next steps (that's where the heat tool comes in handy or you're going to have a lot of waiting time).

Next, I added the "character" to the project, the stuff that makes it more of a collage than just a canvas. I used stamps (you'll need StazOn ink for stamping because the Mod Podge creates a slick surface), paint and a variety of applicators (like mesh, bubble wrap, and a dry brush), printed items, a rhinestone paw print, rub-ons, and doodling with a pen.

Once you have all the flat items on, paint the edges of the canvas, and apply a final layer of Mod Podge to seal everything. Then I added a flower (made with various circles) and a brad with a quote (I clipped the brad legs off and applied with foam tape).

Here's the finished project and a couple close up shots.

I had so much fun creating this canvas, which I now have at work so I can admire my beautiful hound. But more than that were the memories I enjoyed as I worked on the canvas.

I hope you enjoyed my Cleo canvas. Have fun blog hopping and we hope to see you at CKU Reunion in San Diego on October 27-29.

Here's the blog hop order (if you stumbled upon this blog post I highly recommend starting at the beginning with Stacy Julian):

Stacy Julian
Michelle Hill
Jodi Sanford
Kim Watson
Deena Wuest
Cindy Tobey
Stacy Croninger (You are here!)


Sweet Cleo

The past two weeks Cleo hasn't felt well - she wasn't putting weight on her front, right paw. We took her to our vet, then to a specialist, ran every test they suggested, but couldn't find the cause. So we decided we just needed to be patient and let the muscle heal (that's what the doctor figured it was - a torn muscle).

Late afternoon on Friday, we were all home and Cleo had just gone outside. We peeked out the window and Cleo was laying on the deck with her paw under her in a weird way. When we opened the door, she laid back and lost consciousness. We scooped her up and tried to wake her up while calling the vet - they said to bring her right in. By that time she had stopped breathing and so we started trying to revive her as we frantically drove to the vet. When we got to the vet (one in town since our vet was 20 minutes away without going through the football traffic), he tried chest compressions, injected her heart, and compressions again but was unable to revive her (he thinks she had a heart attack).

And so our sweet Cleo has moved on to greener pastures. While this weekend has been an emotional one, the thing we all agree on was that she knew she was loved up to the very last minute. We were all with her telling her how much we loved her and what a good dog she was. Plus, because she hadn't been feeling well, we had spent a lot of time rubbing her belly and just sitting with her.

We will miss her more than words can express. Her internal clock that reminded everyone when it was time to eat or have a treat, her perfect hound howl, the stubborn look she'd get when you wanted her to do something, her beautiful spotted belly, her basset waddle on walks, the way she smelled like corn chips after a nap, and so much more.

Mabel also misses her buddy. She has not been by herself for more than a few hours since we brought her home. She has searched the usual places a few times this weekend looking for Cleo, which breaks our hearts. She loved Cleo, even if she did enjoy tormenting her as any little sister would.

Cleo's big paws left permanent prints on our hearts. She will live on through photos and memories and in the knowledge that she was greeted by Buster and Barkley and is now roaming the green pastures of doggy heaven.

We love you Cleo!


Can you Zumba?

I'm not sure I can! I'm trying this again but in the privacy of my own home. I bought a DVD series that has varying workouts and levels. So far I've just done the basics where they teach you the steps and get you used to moving. Let's just say I'm not sure I was made to shake my booty or roll my body :)

But, I do enjoy it. And no one is allowed in the room at the same time in case my hip swaying and booty shaking gets out of control. Plus, no one needs to see that!

Onward and upward in the quest to conquer the body shape. Let there be Zumba!


25th - Christmas Countdown

Today being the 25th means another Christmas countdown post. It's just three months and I can HARDLY wait!!! Yes, we've already purchased a few things for the season. What's a person to do when Hobby Lobby puts their Christmas stuff out in July?? You gotta buy or it may be gone :)

So for this countdown, here are my favorite Christmas songs and movies (in no particular order). Happy Three Months 'Til Christmas!!

Favorite Christmas songs:

  • O Holy Night (the Josh Groban version is my absolute favorite and on my iPod all year)
  • Deck the Rooftop - Glee Cast
  • Mary's Lullaby
  • On This Winter's Night - Lady Antebellum
  • Reason for the Season - Lonestar
  • The Secret of Christmas - SHeDaisy and Johnny Mathis
  • Breath of Heaven - Amy Grant
  • Gift of Love - The Boones
  • The Gifts of Christmas - Hilary Weeks
  • Joseph's Lullaby - MercyMe
  • Were You There on that Christmas
  • The Innkeeper - Michael McLean
  • Mary Let Me Hold Her Baby - Michael McLean
  • Candlelight Carol - Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • I Believe in Father Christmas - Sarah Brightman
  • Believe - Josh Groban
  • VoiceMale - their Jingle album
  • Pine Cones and Holly Berries - The Osmonds
  • The Carpenters Christmas 
Favorite Christmas movies:
  • Elf
  • Muppet Christmas Carol
  • The Christmas Story (you'll shoot your eye out!)
  • Home Alone
  • Miracle on 34th Street - both versions
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas - both versions
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Shrek the Halls
  • Mr. Krueger's Christmas


CKU Reunion Blog Hop

I'm so excited - CKU Reunion is just a little over a month away! I loved going to past CKUs and hanging out with the incredibly talented teachers and soaking in their creativity. And this year it is in beautiful San Diego, CA (can you say beach nearby???) on October 27, 28, and 29. It's going to be a blast! And you'll be learning from some of the industry's experts like Lisa Bearnson, Teresa Collins, Stacy Julian, Michelle Hill, Megan Hoeppner, and other inspiring people. I'm telling you, you won't want to miss this!

So, the reason you're here is for the blog hop. I hope you've enjoyed the projects so far. If you stumbled upon this blog post and want to see the other CKU Reunion Blog Hop participants, then head on over to Mou Saha's blog. She got us started and has a list of everyone participating. The blog hop is from Friday, September 23 at 10:00 am MT until Saturday, September 24 at 10:00 am MT. If you get lost, I'll include the order at the end of the post.

And now, on to the project!

When I think about attending an event such as CKU Reunion, I know I'm going to have lots of stuff I want to keep track of, so that's my inspiration for this project. But first, I have a small quiz. What do you get when you put these items (pictured below) together with paper, stickers, buttons, and more?

Page protectors, envelope, electrical tape
Did you guess a mini-album? Well that's what I made from these. I took three envelopes (5"x5"), trimmed off the flaps, covered them with paper, stickers, buttons, ribbon, and other fun stuff. Then I used electric tape to bind the envelopes together into a booklet. To make sure everything stays together, I put tape in between each envelope and on the outside.

For the cover, I trimmed two 6"x6" page protectors to about 5 1/4" square (or as close as I could get them to the envelope's size). I attached them with electrical tape to the front and back envelope and then put tape across the outside to finish off the bound book effect.

Here's a few pictures to give you an idea of what the finished project looks like.

Front cover

First page (front of envelope)

Second page (back of envelope) and third page (front of envelope)

Fourth and fifth pages

Last page (back of last envelope) and back cover (lace is on the outside)

The product I used is Crate Paper's adorable Neighborhood collection. I love the bright colors, whimsical designs, and beautiful ribbons (but then I'm a sucker for ribbon). Plus I threw in some Queen & Co. flowers and a little crocheted ribbon I had on hand.

If you aren't going to an event in the near future, this can easily pass for a coupon organizer (just drop it in your purse), a receipt catcher, or anything else your clever brain can think of.

Thanks so much for stopping by. One last thing, if you leave a comment AND go to Facebook and Like one or all of the following pages, CKU, CK Scrapbook Conventions, or CK Scrap & Play, you'll be eligible to win a cool t-shirt from the CK Events team (we have several fun scrapbook related designs).

Here's the list. Next up is the talented Michelle Hill!

Stacy Croninger  (you are here)



Favorite Quotes

Quotes are one of those things that I love reading - they are quick and inspirational. Here are a few of my favorites:

Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.  ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Happiness is a warm puppy.  ~Charles M. Schulz

People know you for what you've done, not for what you plan to do.  ~Author Unknown

If I had to sum up Friendship in one word, it would be Comfort.  ~Terri Guillemets

Goals are dreams with deadlines.  ~Diana Scharf Hunt

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.  ~W.T. Purkiser

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~Author Unknown


Pumpkin Cake

It's started - the leaves are changing on the mountains, the mornings are cooler, and the sun doesn't rise as early. Must be Fall! And with Fall comes pumpkins. There are so many wonderful pumpkin recipes. One of my favorites is Pumpkin Cake - made in a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet like pan with sides and about an inch deep) with creamy, lovely, cream cheese frosting!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Pumpkin Cake

1 (16oz) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar and cinnamon together and beat together until smooth and light. Add baking powder, flour, salt and baking soda and beat well. Pour batter into lightly greased deep cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Bake at 350o for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely.

1 cube softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Mix until creamy smooth. Spread on cooled cake.


Life is Wonderful card

It's amazing what having a few new products will do for your creativity! Yesterday I created this card for a friend and it was so much fun!! Plus it has lots of purple in it.

I used a piece of string I had in the tool drawer for the banner line and foam squares to raise the pennants from the card. The finished card is 4.25" x 5.5".

Here are the products I used to create the card.

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A Bad Day of Fishing...

is better than a good day at work :)

And we decided to put this quote to the test at Lake Powell this weekend. We went to Hite, which is on the north end of the lake where the Colorado River comes in. We've never been to this part of the lake so it was a fun adventure. The weather forecast said 20% chance of rain Friday night and then clear on Saturday. Sure enough, the 20% chance of rain found us, on the lake. But before the drenching downpour we had some good fishing. We, and I'm using we in the royal way since I didn't catch any fish, caught several large mouth bass and a striper.

As we fished we watched the storm develop. It was actually quite impressive. There were tons of clouds, lightening, and thunder - the kind that bounces off the mountains. Luckily we hadn't gone far from the dock so it didn't take long to get back when the rain started.

Here's one of the bass that was caught:

We headed back to the motel, grabbed some dinner, and watched Boise State on TV. We set the alarms for 4:45 am (gotta get on the lake at first light). The next morning when we got up it was raining and looked like it had rained most of the night. We decided to stick with the plan and head to the lake. It was an hour away and as we got closer found that the storm wasn't at the lake - yippee for us!!

We launched and headed out. We fished several places with not a single bite. So we moved on. Tried some additional places and realized that the clouds were building again. Sure enough, the rain started again so we headed back towards the dock but decided to keep fishing and see if it blew over.

And then the fun began! We spotted a boil!!! A boil is where the stripers corral other fish and push them to the surface for a feeding frenzy. They are so fun to fish, because you basically throw in your line and bring in a fish, over, and over. It was a small boil but we did manage to pull in one striper - a beautiful four pounder. Unfortunately, no photo because it was raining. Not only raining, but pelting us - you could hear it come across the lake. So we packed it in, headed for the dock, and sat in the car for about 30 minutes waiting for the storm to blow over, which it did.

We headed out one more time. Not much happened in the fishing arena except this fine specimen - the fish that couldn't get away:

Yes, you are seeing correctly, the lure is at the top (it's about 2 inches long) and the cute little baby fish is at the bottom. He was just barely larger than the lure. We had a good laugh, tossed him back, and continued the quest. Needless to say, after another hour of fishing a variety of spots, a couple rain showers, and no fish, we called it a day.

Was it better than being at work? Yes!!! The scenery was beautiful, the company entertaining, and it was refreshing to be in nature. While the fish weren't biting on Saturday morning, I took a couple pictures of the area as the sun came up. Enjoy!





About This Blog

My posts are random. They cover a variety of subjects, but are mostly about things I enjoy, am inspired by, or catch my attention at that moment. I don't ever want to offend anyone by anything I write. This blog is a way to express myself and the interests I have. I hope you enjoy what I share.

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