Saturday, December 24, 2016

Keeping Christmas Well

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And then having consumed their Christmas eve dinners the menfolk laughed and followed the example set by Davy Crockett when he famously proclaimed,
Well not quite, but that is nearly what he said.

And the woman reflected that while they reveled at the game, she would indeed spend the balance of her evening in cooking hell.

She put on her rooster festooned apron and rolled up her sleeves and set to work.   Now it so happens that the favorite holiday preparation of this particular woman was the making of fresh cranberry sauce. So she thought it a good place to begin.

She boiled water, sugar, orange juice, and added the cranberries, those edible rubies of the holiday table.  And as they bubbled and transformed, the kitchen filled with scent and the woman began to perform kitchen alchemy as her mother and grandmother had done before her and generations of women before them.  And she found in her heart that it was after all an enviable thing to be able to do.

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That was not to say she would not welcome dishwashers upon the morrow.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays dear ones. God bless us, every one!
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Not every selfie is about ego, sometimes they're about something else entirely

Before I talk about this page, I need to bring you up to speed.

I had a brain aneurysm rupture on May 17, 2016 (4 months ago).
I had 3 brain surgeries, I was in the hospital ICU for 2 weeks. Even once I came home it's been a long recovery, a road that I am still traveling. I am only beginning to feel like things are getting close to normal. My doctor told me it will probably take a year for me to get back to where I was, before.

My head was shaved for the surgeries. As my hair began to grow back I was faced with a new challenge, what would my look be? Even if I grow my hair back out, it will take probably a year to get it long like it was before. I have always found that I don't "feel like me" if I trim my hair even an inch or two shorter than a certain length. I knew I couldn't spend a year not feeling like me, so it was time to re-define who I am. I decided to take control of the situation, and to make it fun.  It's been exciting. I've moved my boundaries, I'm re-writing myself.  The reason I share this here, is that I look very different now than I did in the photos on this page. I anticipate that someday soon I will be making another page with the selfies I've been taking of how I look now in my recovery. I am so glad I came to peace with self-photos years ago, I think it has made it much easier to accept and even celebrate how I look, now.

The photos are from 9 days after the aneurysm, 10th day after aneurysm which was also the day after the final surgery, and 4 months after the aneurysm.

5/25/16  9 days after the aneurysm at this point I've had 2 brain surgeries & was wondering what on earth I could do with my hair. 5/27/16 the day after I had the final surgery to put in a shunt. I got moved out of ICU and went home the next day. 9/17/16 four months ago today I was rushed to the hospital with a burst brain aneurysm.
This is another of my favorite pages, it's about one of my soapbox subjects... mothers who don't appear in any of their family photos. This is a page from last year's October Layout A Day we had a pirate theme.  The prompt was to make a page about something that you do that others think is annoying and explain why it's not. I thought to myself "Well I'll never do THAT one."  And then IMMEDIATELY I thought "Here is my chance to talk about Selfies!" I find that LOAD is like that. Sometimes the prompts that you don't like at first, end up making the best pages!

Pirate LOAD 2015
Day 13 Parrot - Tell us something that you think others find annoying about you and why they are wrong.

I adapted the journaling on this page from a Facebook post I had written on May 31, 2015 in response to an article which denounced the selfie as everything that is wrong with the world. I often turn social media posts or blog posts into journaling for scrapbook pages. I struggle with writer's block when I sit down to write for a scrapbook page, I have less difficulty writing for other forums so I pull from those.

Not Narcissistic
Not every selfie is about ego.
Sometimes they're about something else entirely.

Although I am a scrapbooker I was absent from the family albums I created. As the family photographer I spent most of my time behind the camera instead of in front of it. When I did end up in a photo, I often felt so bad about how I looked that I deleted it.

I began taking selfies as a conscious effort to leave images of me behind for my child to cherish and remember me by, the way I cherish photos of my mother. In the beginning it was a HUGE struggle not to delete them all. It was an exercise in self acceptance. I was teaching MYSELF to love things about how I look. It was not easy.

It took about 2 years of taking selfies for my family to to get in the picture with me. We live across the country from our families of origin, for all three of us to be in a photo together required a tripod or a benevolent stranger. Now not only do I have images of myself to include when I tell my family’s stories, I have pictures of the 3 of us together, laughing, being silly, living our lives.

No, I don’t always look the way I do on Instagram and we have plenty of moments I wouldn’t share on Facebook. But the photos I share are moments I want celebrate. What I post isn't about who wants to see it. It’s the record I’m keeping of my life, memories I want to hold on to.

Digital elements are from Limitless by Amber Shaw for Sweet Shoppe Designs part of The Digi Files from The Daily Digi (Oct 2014?)
PSD template Everyday Template 1 by Cindy Schneider for Sweet Shoppe Designs part of The Daily Digi Everyday Life Collection which is a membership bonus kit.
Page created in Photoshop Elements 12

Friday, September 30, 2016

Where The Wild Things Are, A favorite Scrapbook Page from LOAD

This is one of my very favorite pages, it was created back in February 2015 for Layout A Day (LOAD). Our Theme was Once Upon a Time. On this day we looked at story books where the font variety and word placement was a visual feature of the book.

I figured if I was going to have a page where the words were a visual feature I would use words I like a lot so I used the story Where the Wild Things Are. I was given a copy at Ethan's baby shower and Maurice Sendak's story about a boy who can't quite contain his wildness and the mama who loves him is one of our favorites. I read it to Ethan in the rocking chair and later at bed-time.  We have our own actions that we act out along with the story. There was a time I could recite it without even glancing at the book.

For this page I began with some favorite images from November 2002 which capture the essence of my boy, then I arranged the words of the story to flow around him. I tried to alter the spacing, size and color to mirror the way I pause and emphasize with my voice when I tell the story.  I wanted to call attention to the parts of the story that are my favorites, either because of the way the words trip off the tongue, or because even though she is only mentioned once, the second half of the story is full of Max's mother who knows just what a repentant Wild Thing needs to feel secure and loved.  This is the kind of often wordless bond I like to think exists between me and my own Wild Thing. On the right page I was also trying to convey the feeling that the words had been shaped by the surf, drift words.

Ethan is now a senior in high school and he is more guarded about his feelings, these pages continue to be among my favorites, they capture a mood and a time that I love to recall.
LOAD3 Where The Wild Things Are
Font variety challenge
I think this is the first full digital page I ever made without using a template.

Digital Scrapbook Papers from Just Sail Away by LDrag Designs at
Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Century Schoolbook Font (closest match to the font used in the original book)
Page created in Photoshop Elements 12.

Additional LOAD pages that have been shared on my blog can be seen at this link

At Scrap Happy we are gearing up for another Layout a day in October. October LOAD (LayOut A Day) is always fun, it's member run and we always have a great time. Our theme this year is A Scrappy Buffet, I can't wait to see where that theme will take us.

Scrap Happy has a membership discount running right now until the end of September, just in time for new members to join us for October LOAD.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Will You Join Me? October Layout A Day - A Scrappy Buffet

I am part of a group of wonderful scrappy ladies. Scrap Happy Family, we do a layout a day challenge for a month three times a year. I have yet to make a layout each day, but I do create more than I do the rest of the year, and I have a wonderful time!  Each day there is a prompt for inspiration, or you can make whatever you want. We share our pages in a private flickr gallery (optional) and it's a wonderful time of creativity, encouragement, and camaraderie. At Scrap Happy we are gearing up for another Layout a day in October. October LOAD (LayOut A Day) is always fun, it's member run and we always have a great time. Our theme this year is A Scrappy Buffet, I can't wait to see where that theme will take us.  LOAD has stretched me, it encourages me to tell stories I might not otherwise have thought to tell. Scrap Happy has a membership discount running right now until the end of September, just in time for new members to join us for October LOAD.  This is a great group of ladies, I've made wonderful friendships online and at Reunion, our annual meet-up event.

Here is a favorite page of mine from a LOAD past. LOAD2
From LOAD514 Past Perfect 2
the prompt was, If These Walls Could Talk
My favorite four walls are the fence that encloses my backyard. Journaling: My backyard is my sanctuary. It's the place I go to relax, to escape, to unwind. It's my favorite place to be. Aren't I lucky it's so close to home.
Six of the photos on this page are Instagram photos, the one with the mug was my very FIRST Instagram.
The "Time To Relax" image was edited in the Rhonna Designs App.
Page Created with Close To My Heart Studio J (which has been discontinued)
All products are from Close To My Heart Olivia Collection

Additional LOAD pages that have been shared on my blog can be seen at this link

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Same Moon That's Shinnin' Down On Me Scrapbook Page

This page was created in February 2015 as part of Layout A Day.
It tells the story of how an inside joke between myself and my mother became a touchstone for family across the miles.
Inspired by Load215 Goodnight Moon Challenge.

I had no personal photos to support this story, so I used images from the film. The journaling was created from the text of an old blog post linked here:

Digital Products from Sweet Shoppe Designs
Kit: Stargazer by Studio Basics Design & foreverjoy designs
Kit: Spookilicious Borders by Studio Fergs (moon)
Template: Duo 05 -That's So Wordy by Brook Magee
Font: LittleLordFontleroy
Font: Century Gothic

Thanks to instruction by Traci Reed & Melissa Shanhun which has seriously upped my Photoshop Elements game.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cook Smart: Prep Once Cook Twice - using your freezer to advantage.

In the interest of more GRACEful living in 2016 I will be bringing you a series of posts which share some of my CookSmart strategies which make it easier to get home cooked meals on the table on a regular basis.

It's almost as easy to prep 2 meals in a marinade as it is to prep one. Tonight I'm making Five Spice Coconut Chicken for dinner, but I purchased double ingredients and I prepared a second batch at the same time as the first. An added benefit of this method is that before the meat freezes, then again as it defrosts it is also marinating so you get very flavorful results.

Label 2 one gallon freezer bags.
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Add marinade ingredients to each bag, smoosh the bags to mix, then add chicken to each bag.
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Turn the bag over on itself and press out any excess air, then seal.  I place one in a shallow container in my refrigerator, and the second I spread out flat & freeze for a future meal.
2015-10-06 15.28.59 I find that things defrost more quickly when they're frozen flat this way, because they are thinner. I also measured my 9x13 baking dish and found that it's max capacity is 1 liquid gallon. So Anything I can freeze in a one gallon bag, ought to fit into a 9x13 casserole dish for baking, this opens up all kinds of possibilities for freezer meals.

Also See: The Case For Making Meal Planning A Priority
Preparing Casseroles for the Freezer
Recipes which work well with this method:
No Leftovers Fice-Spice Chicken
Easy Picnic Chicken

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Case For Making Meal Planning A Priority

"Everybody wants to get out to the gym, and that's a good thing too, but if we took as much time in our day to plan our meals and prepare them and maybe bring along a healthy food supply for the day. Then we wouldn't be at the mercy of the grab and go and whatever's out there and it would be so good for our bodies as a whole and we could probably get, (again I'm biased, exercise is great but being a clinical nutritionalist and knowing the outcomes that I have seen over the years) more mileage out of paying better attention to our diet every day."

The above quote is an excerpt from an interview with
Geri Brewster RD MPH CDN, a registered dietitian-nutritionist
from from the Autism Intensive Summit (January 10-18 2016)
I'm getting so much out of this informative online event!
You can register for this free limited time event at the link below.

Meal Planning On The Fragrant Hand

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Slow Cooker

I got a new slow cooker for Christmas. Today I tried it out. I made Slow-Cooker Chinese Barbecued Pork from Cook's Country - October/November 2013 issue.

2016 A Year of GRACE

This year I am choosing a focus word, GRACE I intend to use it as a reminder to keep me on course this year.