Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

Here are pictures of me and most of my clan...I'll update a few more after we've gotten our fill of treats. =)
Have a Happy and safe Halloween. Or as Teagan used to say so happily, "HAPPY HALLOWEENIE!" =)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Keepin' it simple.

Good Monday morning (or afternoon or evening if you're reading this later) and Halloween Eve. This post looks more like spring or summer if you ask me. I thought I'd show some of the scrap readers {Hello scrappers!} one of my 'practice pages' that I did a little while ago.
I picked out this fabric (the flowery rectangles are fabric) at the store this summer because I loved the colors and pattern. I knew I could make something with it...or just have it around because I like it (like Grandma Karen does) =). I decided it might be fun to pull out the sewing machine and try some scrapping with it. Turns out, this was a fun project for me- even though it's not my most stunning page ever. I'm okay with that, because it was about learning and having fun. And I was using colors, paper and a picture that I like- so, that's a good thing.
I had the chance to meet Elsie in Birmingham, AL last spring. I loved her in real life as much as I did getting to know her through her blog. She has a wonderful outlook on life; so young, so level-headed, and yet always on the lookout for fun and goodness. We need more young people with {positive} attitudes like that in this world.
I jotted down a few things that I wanted to remember Elsie saying about her 'scrap-philosophy'. While she does say 'less is more', she thinks 'more is more' too. Especially as it relates to embellishments on a layout. That's really her style in a nutshell. Live life to the fullest. Enjoy every little thing about it- good and bad, and most of all, Have fun along the way.
Hmmm. Where have I heard similar statements about life? Oh yeah. Sounds a little bit like Nitty.Gritty. too. No wonder why I love this girl! =) You can see more of her here. Ciao for now!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I don't know about you...

I don't. I don't know about what you do on Sunday mornings or how things go around your home, but in mine they can get a bit harried. It's been that way for a long time- not just since my kids were born- but that has definitely added a new dimension to it.
It goes without saying that it's no easy task to get myself ready, in addition to 4 kids fed and dressed. Some Sundays are much more smooth than others, but still, they seem a little more chaotic than the other mornings of my week.
This morning was about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Ten being the most crazy/stressful it can be. There's often a nag in the back of my mind about 'will it be worth my time and effort' to get everybody ready and off to church. With a couple of coughs to influence my decision, I started playing out the excuses and options in my head. It would definitely be easier to stay home. It would be much calmer to just have a leisure breakfast and flip through the pages of the Sunday paper.
I even have 'good excuses' pop into my head on Sunday mornings, how I could get things done around the house, or it would help the nursery workers out to have less kids to watch during the service if I kept mine home. Sometimes I debate if the music will be the worship team I want to lead our group, or if the sermon topic is really that applicable to my life this week.
It's true. Sometimes this is what's going through my mind as I ready everyone for 'worship'. Today the actual process of getting ready went relatively smoothly, and my hair turned out alright on my first style attempt. As we pulled into the church parking lot I felt guilty for being there. I knew that God deserved better than I was giving Him of myself, and it just sort of hit me head on.
I don't know how it happens, and I am almost ashamed to admit it, but God did it again in me today. He took what {very} little I had to offer Him and turned my guilt and selfishness into praise and worship to Him. I don't know how or why He does this, but it has happened time and time again. When I fall short and have nothing worthwhile to give, God takes the broken pieces of me and turns them into something that can reflect His glory.
I don't know where you stand on the issue of faith, but I do know that no matter where you are, God is ready and willing to meet you. And rather than feeling unworthy and ashamed, He will fill you with His mercy and grace. I guess that's why it's called 'amazing grace'. I'll never understand it fully, yet I continually embrace it in my life, and it proves to be more than I deserve, more than enough to meet my needs, more than words can ever express, and more humbling to accept, day after day. I am living proof that God is all anyone ever truly needs.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


The sun has peeked out a couple of times this week and it is absolutely 'glowing' around our house with golds and oranges and reds and green leaves. So pretty. I never tire of the changing leaves of autumn. It reminds me that there is a rhythym to life and that even though summer is over, this season holds it's own wonders and beauty, and that the next (winter white here in Michigan) is just around the corner.
It makes me think of how amazing creation is; nature and all its splendor to me, always points to its Creator. I love knowing that God is in control at all times, always. It is this simple truth that has given me peace and comfort, and strength and joy in life. Good or bad times- whatever the season.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Just what you'd expect, right?

Here are some pictures taken this week at my house. I never get tired of the days where nothing really extraordinary or spectacular happens, and yet I find myself thanking God for my wonderful life.
We got hooked up to satellite tv, and my girls (and boys) have loved some of the cartoons and childrens' programs...including some of my favorites when I was a kid, like Smurfs, Looney Tunes, and Yogi Bear. That's why they're on my bed paying no attention to me while I snapped their picture. Maybe it was Oobi or Maisy that they were glued to...who knew Noggin could be so exciting. =) Don't worry about sending me notes about tv viewing and how much kids should watch. We have a system that already works in our home. I don't tell you how much tv your kids should watch, and I appreciate the same respect. {I'm totally kidding on this...just wanted to see if I could stir up my own Nitty.Gritty. controversy.}
Chip and Brock had the chance to play some lacrosse. I love when they get to hang out and do stuff together. Chip works long hours at the golf course, but I have to give him credit for using his 'free time' to be a good dad and husband.
Then there's Bella. She is just so 'Bella'. If you've been around her, you know what I'm talking about....a charmer one minute, and a little spitfire the next. We're still working on getting her to sleep at the right time on school nights. She is such a night owl, but then at preschool when she's short on sleep she can hardly function. To the point where she got 'sent home early' one day this week- we hoped to make a point with her. I have a feeling she's gonna carry some of this personality with her for the rest of her life.
Lucky for me, at 4, I've basically got her all figured out. SO, I try to enjoy her- mood swings, attitude and all. She is a constant reminder of Teagan at age four. And you know, if I had my way, I'd take Teagan back in a heartbeat. Mood swings, attitude and ALL!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ava did it again.

Not that long ago I posted a similar picture on my blog. I am wondering if this is what I get for growing up as a 'neat freak', or if I should try to get in touch with Ava and find out what the deeper underlying issue is in her 2-year old life that is causing her to find great pleasure in pulling everything out of the closet.
Really, even though I used to 'carpet-rake' my room each day so that there were no footprints in the carpet, I have learned that my life with kids has meant that I have had to make drastic changes in the way I live and do things from day to day. I am actually a very patient Mom, most of the time. Moments like this don't phase me as much as I would have thought they would ten years ago. Now, I grab my camera, snap the picture and then accept my life as it is.
Beautiful, busy, chaotic at times, but very down to earth and ordinary. And I am learning to not be so hard on myself. I tell myself, "This is why Cathy Ziekske and Elsie Flannigan scrap more pages than I do...not because they are more creative and experienced, but simply because they have less clothes to pick up around their homes."
I see a scrap layout in this post...if and when I can find the time to create it! =)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another realization...

It's no secret that I live life in light of some tragic experiences that have shaped me over the past several years. If you are new here, you can browse my July 2006 archives for more details and stories that will help you understand some of what I blog about here.
I found it interesting and profound, that when I woke up the morning that I flew out to Las Vegas for my scrap contest/trip, my daily reading included this statement at the end...
"Your suffering can either make or break you".
Here I was, five years out from going through the darkest, most trying time of my life, and I was on the edge of new opportunities, overwhelmed with excitement, and filled with contentment and joy with my life. I would never have believed that it was possible to feel those emotions in my life again after the death of Teagan and the reality of the hurt and grief in my life.
I was overcome with emotions...and the realization that God has and is continuing to do in me things that I never dreamed could happen. Things like replacing sorrow with peace in my heart, things like giving me new eyes in which to see goodness in life and to want to make the most out of my own life, things like feeling 'guilty' for all the blessings I have...I wouldn't trade my life with someone else's for anything in the world. I am grateful for even the struggles that I have had to endure, for the challenges that continue to be a part of my life, and most of all, for the transformation that God has done in me through my pain and sorrow- to become the person that I am today.
I would never have guessed that my deepest grief would help me to learn the true meaning of joy. I would never have wanted suffering in my life like I have endured, and yet, I keep learning from it, pushing myself because of it, and hopefully showing others an example that indeed we all have choices in this life. Mine were made based on my deep faith and trust in God, and they have truly 'made me' who I am. I thank God that He has been with me and guided me and brought me out of my suffering into the life which I know and live each day.
I know that there will be more times in my life in which I will face struggles and issues that seem too big for me to handle. Fortunately I have lots of experience that will allow me to get through those times too. I look forward to seeing how I will grow and be shaped over the next five years (if God gives me that time) or more in life through the things that will come my way and through the lives of my family and friends around me. I can't help but think that I will look back and be amazed all over again.
Yes, I am learning that 'one's suffering can make or break you'. But it's not just about the individual facing the hurt, but about Who that person turns to in their time of need.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Makin'...Easy Bakin'.

Some of you people make me laugh, in that you actually wonder where I'm at or what I'm doing if I don't blog for more than 36 hours. Flattering, really. =) I'm not really that exciting in person. Well, except for when I'm dancing and singing in the car at stoplights, or doing Scooby impersonations at reception dinners. Then I am mildly funny. Mostly to myself though.
I wasn't actually trying to snub anybody or get you worked up by making you miss your daily dose of Nitty.Gritty., but I'll admit it here. I am cheap when it comes to spending money needlessly. This is why I missed blogging for a day. I have dial-up internet (too cheap for wireless- even though my computer is equipped for it...I only get it when there's a free signal that I can pick up), and I couldn't get a connection for a day, thus, no Nitty.Gritty.
I was thinking though, that the day gets closer to marking one year of this blog, that maybe I could just do what NBC did a few years back and start 'rerun blogposts'. You remember?! NBC would have ads for upcoming reruns and they'd say, "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you!"
I was totally insulted by that whole gig. I mean, really, how lame is that! If you haven't seen it, it's new to you... I took it as, "We producers (and actors in some cases) are lazy and demand too much money, so the network is replaying stuff they've already aired to stretch out the season, to make more money off advertisers paying for airtime of shows that have already been seen, and you, the audience are so lucky- you get to waste time watching the same thing twice!"
Now you know why I don't work in television, despite my degree in media-communications. My tag-lines are too lengthy. =)
So, if I happen to miss a day or two in posting to my blog, feel free to click back in the archives and read or reread something from the past year. I personally like some of the stuff in Decemeber 2005, March 2006 and July 06 the best. But that's just my own opinion.
I have been thinking and wondering what I'm doing here somedays...and it's not like my hubby says, that I just want sympathy comments. I find myself asking what this is all about more often than not...is it for my family- so I should stick to stories and pictures of the kids? Is it about lessons I've learned and examples of how my faith has been tried and tested? Is it about scrapbooking and making stuff and having fun with color? I guess it's a little bit of everything, and I need to just keep doing this for me. For how I feel and what I want to share. I'm old enough and smart enough to know that I can't please everyone all the time. As long as I'm staying true to me (even if it is promoting magazine sales at times), than that's the bottom line.
Today, you get a mix of things. My thoughts, my dry sense of humor, and an explanation and thanks for some scrap products.
I scrapped a layout that I fell in love with at midnight last night. You see a glimpse of it in the photo with the word "EASY" on it. I did a layout about the Easy Bake oven...I played with some digital photo enhancing, and then the rest of the page just sort of fell in place. I love when that happens!
I think it has to do with the products most of all. I am bragging on all the great stuff I got from the reps of Fancy Pants Designs when I met them at Memory Trends two weeks ago. I got some of their great big chipboard scrolls, some smaller ones, some fantastic rub-ons, and really pretty patterned paper and matching tags. I think these products are all yet-to-be-released, so don't go rushing out to your scrap store just yet. But, look for them or check out their website here. Their papers are all double-sided and are so fun to scrap with. I must say, I love to see my pages when they are finished, and it eggs me on to want to make more. I don't think I'm the best scrapper in the world, but having pages with meaningful stories, memories, pictures or truths about me and life in general, well, it just makes me happy. Happy to create and to have a chance to share a piece of me in a really neat way. I know some of you don't scrap- and can never imagine scrapping in this lifetime. I say to you, keep watching, keep seeing all the great product, and I'll make a scrapper out of you yet!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Belated Wedding Wishes

Happy First Wedding Annivesary to my brother, Jeff and his wife Marci, yesterday. I had trouble getting on my blog, but was thinking of them and what a special time we all had last year celebrating their life and happiness together. I wish you both many more years of growing together, learning from one another and loving each other through life's ups and downs.
In addition, I still owe my mother-in-law, Karen and my father-in-law, John a congratulations on their 40th wedding anniversary this past week too! We pulled Grandma away from home to be with our family as Chip and I traveled to our respective adventures, and left Grandma to do childcare and homekeeping duties. We appreciated her very much, and the kids are excited to wear the Halloween costumes that they picked out with Grandma's help =).
On a more solemn note, my sister, Jacque and her husband are mourning the death of her father-in-law. Interesting to me, once again, how there people celebrating and mourning life all in the same day. We all have certain seasons in life to go through, and when they are good and blessed, I want to always remember to appreciate those times. And when there is sadness and sorrow, I want to always remember that those days won't last forever. And in my case, I keep my eyes and mind focused on the eternity beyond what I can see here...and that is Heaven. If you don't have the assurance of where you will spend eternity- beyond this life, I hope that you will email me or find someone to ask life's toughest questions to. While I don't claim to know it all, I do have peace and joy in this life. I know where I will spend eternity, and somedays that's all I need to get me through.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More product praise.

I'm still getting caught up on emails and personal thank yous to the sponsors and people I met from my scrap adventure last week. Today I am bragging on Legacy Crafters and all the cool product they have for not only scrappers, but for office organization too. I loved their products, and their reps too! Here I am with Lizzie and Max- who both made me feel good about having done my Scooby-Doo impersonation at the CK SOY awards banquet.
One of the reasons I am loving the scrap industry lately is that I am finding out about more and more companies and product lines. I had a very jaded view of it I am realizing, just mere months ago. As I have gotten more and more into it, I have learned that there is product available to meet everybodies tastes and styles. How about the hip, olive-green tote bag here! It's not only good-looking, but it is lightweight, has extra storage pockets, and an easy velcro tab to keep it altogether.
I used it as one of my carry-ons for my flights home from Vegas, and got questions and comments about it at 3 different airports. People wanted to know where I got it...it turned a few heads. =)
So, thanks, Legacy Crafters, for sponsoring the Scrapper of the Year contest. Thanks for the products and fun I had with you at dinner and at your booth. I think I will find that the more I scrap, the more I will need your stuff! And that's a good thing!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Think outside the bun.

Here is a larger version (uploaded out of order...sorry) of the layout that I chose and was posted on CK's website when they featured me as one of the top 10 SOY Finalists. I couldn't help myself. I've got this Maple Syrup body scrub that smells so yummy when I smother it on myself, that it got me thinking how good it must be to be a piece of French Toast.

I know. It's not a normal thought, but as one who was thinking as a new scrapper, it just seemed fitting. It was my way of poking fun at this hobby that was taking over my life- my thoughts, my free time late into the evenings, and even the smells that inspired me while I was in the shower. I just had fun with the colors and making a piece of paper French Toast. On this layout, I included a little holder for recipes of my favorite, 'Baked Caramel French Toast'. Here's a true story...

I was over at Two Peas Message Board yesterday, and someone had posted a thread asking for recipes for baked French Toast. What do you think I found as I scrolled down that thread? Yep. Someone who met me at Memory Trends, had gotten a copy of my recipe (I was giving them out along with my cards and/or golf tees), and had linked my blogpost from January, I think, in which I had posted my recipe here at Nitty.Gritty. I found that funny. So, just wanted everyone to know that I don't only scrap my kids or the serious stuff of life. It's all about having fun, making it meaningful, and memorable. And now passing on a very good recipe to scrappers on their message boards!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

One of twenty.

After thinking more about yesterday's post on dreams and going after things in life that seem out of reach, I thought it only fitting to post a layout out of my contest entries. This one was one of the very first layouts that I scrapped...I think the third one actually. It was the one that made me realize that I wanted to scrap more pages, and that I didn't care if they were part of a contest submission or not. I fell in love with the way this page came together, and the idea that Wyndham and my other kids could flip through an album someday and read a letter straight from my heart. It gave me valid reason to want to scrap more pages. I looked at this page and saw that it was a 'piece of me' on cardstock...I used my mind, my love of paper, ribbons and color, and I simply stuck it down on a page with a picture that I had taken of Wyndham that I loved too. I think it was the page that made me say, "This is what I want to do." I fell in love with scrapbooking from this page on.
So, that is me gushing about how much I love scrapbooking...but I still have personal issues and 'standards'. I have learned that I have my own scrapbook philosophy. That is I only like to scrap pages that are meaningful (to me and sometimes to others too); I want my pages to contain depth within the journaling, or to allow others to learn more about me or the person/thing I am scrapping about. I'm not about taking a picture and adding the word 'cute' or some other catchy phrase. I figure if I am putting time and effort into creating the page, than it has to have more substance than that.
[If you click on the picture, you should be able to read the journaling on it.] This page I took a little notebook and wrote Wyndham a letter- from her Dad and me. It's true. I believe every word of it. And I hope someday she will be able to read it and thank us for never holding her back. I know somedays are a bigger challenge than others, and I'm not a perfect Mom, but that's part of the beauty of life.
I am learning that life doesn't have to be just a 'daily grind'. While it's easy for that to happen, especially speaking as a parent who has lost a child and lived the intense feelings and pain of grief, and then as a mom, who stays home with little kids and does a lot of the same stuff everyday, I know how that feeling can come over me and make me lose sight of bigger dreams. I have come to a place in my life where I actually love the routine and chores in my life, and at the same time I realize that each day is a new gift to me.
The same is true for all of us! How great is that! That every morning we wake and have a full day to create joy, to renew or restore relationships. We have the chance to be a better person, whether it's striving to be a better spouse, parent, sibling or friend. We have the chance to forgive. We have the chance to love more deeply. We have the chance to say 'I'm sorry'. We have the chance to try new things...maybe it's a new craft, or a savory recipe. Maybe it's walking to a nearby park and smelling the fresh air and seeing the world around you in a new way. Maybe it is giving money to a charity that could use your cash to create a better life for someone else. It may simply be getting up and telling yourself that YOU MATTER today...that your life has purpose and greatness- because nobody is just like you.
These are the kinds of things that fuel my energy each day and give me joy and happiness inside. I realize each day that God has given me more time on this earth, and I thank Him and ask Him to help me become what He has created me to be. I am living and learning, and slowly becoming more of that...and trying to enjoy the journey, making the most of it everyday. Because life truly is a gift, and I recognize that. Every single day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Scrap Dream...

No pictures or products today, because I've been doing lots of thinking and reflecting, which means I usually have learned something or want to bounce an idea off of myself. That is when I turn to this blog- for myself and for your comments and thoughts too. Just to see if I have a valid point or not.
In looking back over the past six months or so and all that has happened in regards to my life and scrapping, I think it unbelievable how much I have grown and changed and stretched myself. And while the 'fame' and free product have been fun, I think the best thing to some from all of this is much deeper than that.
I have come to believe that the motto 'Create your own Joy' is something that can actually be lived out and is a very true statement. I have realized that despite my hurt and my shortcomings and my self-doubt about my parenting skills, my creative abilities, my constant search for being authentic or striving to be better in all aspects of my life, that it is possible to reach a level of contentment and joy in life. It was that realization that made this past 6 weeks so incredible for me.
My husband and family have been so proud of me. Even when I saw my young son for the first time after 'not winning' the big scrap prize, he said, "You're our winner, Mom'. It was that, and more. The friendships I've grown (Rachael) and developed through this (all the SOYS and the Simple Girls and many others...ahem, kellicrowe, just to name a few), and the pages that I've scrapped and loved and learned from; it's really all been part of an incredible real-life dream.
I hope to keep doing more of this. I want this experience to push me even further, as a person, as a wife and mother, as a friend, and as an authentic person. I am living and learning that to be true to yourself, while becoming better at the same time, is an awesome thing. It not only fuels me and fills me, but it seems that it has allowed me to give a piece of myself away to others, and in so doing, I become more of a person.
Funny how that happens. In giving I have received, and it makes me want to become more so I can give away more of me. Maybe this will make sense to not just me, but to you too. I know that something so simple, as thinking of others, or doing for others first in life isn't always as easy as it sounds. But I now know that the reward is greater than the sacrifices involved. Who knew I would learn so much in such a short time, all because I pushed myself to enter a scrap contest. Now I can't wait to do and see more things like this- things that push me and grow me, and then have unbelievable rewards- all waiting just around the next corner of my life. Things like this are waiting just around the corners of your life too. I hope you're ready to go out and make them happen. And in so doing, you'll see dreams come true that you didn't even realize existed. Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ribbons, papers and printer...

I have basically been filled up with creative ideas, new products and lots of inspiration through color and design because of my trip out to Vegas. I have to get better with using links within my blog, but for now I'll just give you what I've got for today.

Pictured here from top to bottom is me glowing from being surrounded by luxury ribbon...some of it was imported from France. So beautiful- it made me want to go into the ribbon business. Next you see me holding an adorable carrying case, and inside is my brand new hp portable printer! I received this from some really nice hp representatives as a congratulations gift for being in the SOY top 10. I pulled it out and plugged it in and printed a couple of pictures right from my memory stick last night. Not only is this little printer portable and compact, but it prints high-end pictures in a flash! I'm so happy to have this item...and enjoyed sharing dinner with the ladies from hp...hope you all enjoyed it too!

In the last photo you see some products from the new SEI 'so girly' line that will be hitting the stores soon. I used some of their papers and their new Rhinestone & Pearl brads to rescrap a page layout, and it turned out cute. I just love the colors and all the papers are double-sided, so I could go crazy with the patterned paper combinations I can play with. SO fun, and so cool that the SEI people gave me their product to design pages...I hope to share more products and links. Here's one I found for SEI- it's a link to some of their products you can purchase online...and I'm still trying to locate a direct weblink. Now I'm off to make dinner and scrap another page.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A peek inside my house....

After three different flights and a few time zones later, I woke up this morning in my own bed. My kids had lots of hugs and kisses last night to welcome me home...and hubby too- since we hadn't seen each other since he left for Ireland a long time back.
I am in the midst of unpacking and making lots of messes in my scrap room and kitchen. I came home with a lot more stuff than I had when I left last Tuesday. Good stuff. Scrap stuff. Not-even-in-the scrap stores kind of stuff. Who knew that paper and chipboard and ribbon and epoxy stickers and even tiny jeweled brads could make a girl like me so happy?!
I am hoping to find time to snap photos and give previews of some of the product that will be hitting the shelves soon. You scrappers will be drooling! And I will be blogging about my new 'friends'...the reps and companies that sponsored the Scrapper of the Year contest. And I can't say enough good things about the Creating Keepsakes staff and editors- amazing, lovable and tolerant- they put up with me and acted like they were having fun doing it. Like I said- they are a bunch of amazing people. And Grandma Karen too...she survived the week with my family...and they all seemed happy despite my being gone! I just may have to do another trip like this again sometime.
That's what I've got for you today. Coming down from my scrap-high. =) And hoping the inspiration hits I'm feeling will turn into some really neat pages.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What I think about Vegas...

Can you spot me in the middle picture? I have had some bonus time with my sister and her family here in Vegas, after my exciting scrap adventure wrapped up on Wednesday. We have reconnected and had time to relax and just be together. Quite unlike what most tourists come to Vegas looking for.
I have actually felt bad for most of the people I have seen while on my trip here. While walking through the casinos to get to my hotel or to a restaurant to eat, I have felt such a sadness and emptiness for what so many seem to be looking for in this city. Don't get me all wrong, there is glitz and glamour and lights all over, but I just can't shake the heavy feeling in my heart, that the majority of the people in this place are looking for something that they simply can't find in the things that Vegas has to offer.
I've watched people pouring money into slot machines, only to walk away with nothing. I've seen others stack up colorful chips, only to have their cards fold. I have seen shop after shop of 'luxury items' with unbelievable price tags attached, and have wondered who can afford them...how does one justify the purchase? Like a tiny baby tshirt for $97.50, or a bracelet for $95,000.
I definitely have felt out of place. I have wondered how the lives of the people here could be used to help change the lives of others in the world. I may not be seeking office or position to change social policies, but it seems like such an easy place to start. If the money being poured into entertainment and casinos and sex and drugs and alcohol were channeled into our education system or health care or homeland security, it could only do one thing as far as I see it. That is it could shape lives in a new way. It could create a better place, not one that breeds addictions and brokeness and hurt.
So, as I said, I may not have had the typical Vegas experience, but I have learned a lot about love and life and happiness while I was here. I am glad to know that the joy and peace I feel in life is a very real thing in my heart. I am glad to live a life filled with wholeness and direction and grace. I wouldn't trade that for all the money in the world. I have seen a different side of life, and now realize that sayings aren't always true...the grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side. I hope the people that are truly seeking peace and joy in their life in this place will find it in the same way that I have found it in life. Through faith- not through things.

Friday, October 13, 2006

These pictures make me happy!

Whatever amount of 'cool-factor' I may have possessed before Memory Trends was kicked up a few notches over the past two days. There was my memorable "Scooby Doo" moment. There was a picture of me and Stacy Julian...think Big Picture Scrapbooking and you could change the way you see life and scrapbooking forever. My unexplainable connection with my scrap idol, Heidi Swapp...you may think we look alike, except that I'm not naturally this blonde.
The oh-so-funny, I-never-would-have-guessed that Tracy White...I fell in love with her in a minute. Gotta give my newest crazy real-life Nitty.Gritty. fans- those Simple Scrapbooks girls some more airtime here...love, love, LOvE those three! And Wendy Smedley! She's got five boys and an awesome husband...but I think she looks great with girls too. =)
Elsie is cute no matter if she's enlarged on shiny poster paper or live in person. I couldn't help myself...adore her and her zest for life, that I'll pose with her even if she's 'not all there'! That next beauty? You guessed it. I had the honor of having breakfast with Becky Higgins. Totally an undeserved bonus event for me on this trip, but I took in the moment and wouldn't trade it in for anything.
I told Ira...the 'I' of KI Memories that he was the reason I was in the middle of all of this. His products made my layouts look good. Combined with my stories and photos and I was destined to be in the top 10! (Okay, calm down. I'm not all into myself and developing an ego...I'm just saying KI made me look good.) There's no such thing as too much KI Memories product on a scrap page. Or in my scrap room...hopefully!
To wrap things up, I present to you the hottest, new scrap star, CD Muckosky. I am glad to have gotten to spend time with her. I am anxious to see where she goes from here. This whole event has been amazing and exciting and I hope you loved these pics too.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Can you believe that I am in the midst of the queens and masterminds of the scrapbooking industry?! I am trying to let the reality of this experience sink in. SO fun. So inspiring. So unbelieveable that less than 6 months ago I had never scrapped pages. Look at me now! I hope I make you want to grow a dream into reality in your own life- whatever it may be!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What I did yesterday.

Hello from Vegas!
First off, I'm not the top SOY finalist, but big shout out to the sweet C.D. for her big win. She and her hubby are from Canada and I am happy to have met them both. They are giving and outgoing and definitely the kind of people who have life "figured out"...meaning what really matters down here on earth.
SO, she took home the big paper check and so much product that my hubby would probably have taken back all the support I've earned from him with my new scrap obsession, if I were to have won and got all the 'stuff'.
But you know what? Leave it to me to have gotten something bigger out of all of this. I may not have won, but I definitely left my mark. I have some new 'biggest' fans from the staff at Simple Scrapbooks...the three cute girls who got 'stuck' with me at my table for the SOY dinner and had to listen to all of my scrap stories. They were so nice and said that they felt that they had chosen the right table to sit at as we parted ways. That's just how the people in this business are- seeing the best in everyone and always wanting to be inspired and challenged through stories and new ideas.
I am having a incredible time already, with a full day planned out at Memory Trends today. And some of you would love to know that the highlight of my trip was when I did my best 'Scooby-Doo' and 'Snagglepuss' impersonations (remember from Yogi Bear? "Heaven's to mergatroy...exit, stage right even.) up on stage as Lisa Bearnson introduced me to the crowd last night. Hey! I was just keeping it real.
And now guess what?! I can show you all my scrap pages and fun stuff I've made for this whole SOY ride. Thanks to everyone who has been following my journey and cheering me on and sharing my happiness from near and far. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I am a better person because of this contest... I have lots of new friends and believers in my talents and scrapping abilities. That's something that will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Guess what...

Guess what this Scrapper of the Year Finalist just finished doing? Disenfecting a toilet and then folding laundry- just in case you are out there just dying to know how I'm doing these last hours before the big announcement. Basically it's me- doing the usual stuff, and being the usual me.
Today...dropped kids off at school, checked emails, tried on clothes and packed suitcase for trip, had my morning coffee, did some laundry (including washing a blanket that Ava ate a hard-boiled egg on...nice.), made lunch, took Wyndham to therapy, did some more prep for trip, picked kids up from therapy/school, got a few groceries, snacktime, dinnertime, bathtime, bedtime...
I love routine sometimes, but boy, am I excited for a change of scenery and all the fun that waits just around the corner. Don't wish me luck. It's Grandma Karen that needs those wishes. She is here and acting as my 'replacement' while I'm away. I owe her one. And Rachael two. =)
You know I will blog as much and as often as I can while I'm away. I'm sure it will be big! No matter what happens. By the way, thanks everyone for saying stuff about CK saving the best for last. I'm not so sure- I think my material is just that quirky that they didn't know what to do with it, so they held out for as long as possible. We are all about to find out!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Eating off my china...again.

This grilled sandwich was created by me in my very own kitchen. You already know that I spend too much time blogging, but it's food like this that help me justify that time spent online. Besides various scrapbookers, designers and crafty peoples' blogs, I love finding good recipes and reviews of food.
I grilled up a couple of these for my *best friend* Rachael and I yesterday at lunch. I got the recipe from this blog, and it's called 'Pesto, Artichoke, Prosciutto and Asiago Panini'. I found all the ingredients at my local grocery store- with the exception of the Ciabatta buns. I used a crusty loaf of french bread, and it worked out nearly as well, I'm sure.
Without further ado, here is the simple recipe- with the additional recipe for the basil pesto to boot...
Basil Pesto-
In a small food processor (or regular size one if that is what you use), process until well combined these ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of walnut pieces, 1/4 tsp. ground pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt.
Here is the list of ingredients for the panini-
2 Ciabatta buns, 2 Tbsp. basil pesto, handful of cleaned, fresh arugula leaves, sm. jar or can of artichoke hearts (drain well), 6 slices of prosciutto ham and 4 slices of Asiago cheese.
To make sandwich, heat grill or panini press (I used our cast iron grill that sits on my stove burners). Spread the basil pesto on bottom half of buns. Layer arugula over pesto. Add prosciutto and top with the Asiago cheese. Brush the outside of buns with olive oil and grill for 4 to 5 minutes each side. (Don't burn.) Serve and enjoy immediately...or as soon as you can. =)

My last item on the Nitty.Gritty. Scrapper of the Year front for today is a link to pics of all 10 finalists. My essay and layout have not been in the spotlight yet, but my time is coming soon.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Nitty.Gritty. getting really 'real'...

Awhile back I posted about a game of blog tag that was going around...one that asks you to list 5 weird things about yourself. I, instead, decided to break that down into individual daily posts...the first was "How many tv theme songs I could list from my childhood in 10 minutes". I think I got about 50 of them. Then I spent the next several days having 'retro cartoon and other tv shows' theme songs pop into my head. Like the theme song from Moonlighting, or Flintstones (which by the way, does anyone else remember when they had Fred and Barney meet the Schmoo? or is that just me?!). I recalled watching the 'dramatic' Land of the Lost episodes, and Dr. Shrinker. I've also decided that I now that I'm grown up, I wish I had 'Wonder Twin powers' that I shared with my hubby. We could put our fists together and make something 'powerful' out of turning into things like a mop and bucket. My kitchen would be spotless! And I'm sure Wonder Twin powers would help with bedtime, wouldn't you agree? Incidentally, if anyone can answer whether the monkey on the cartoon was 'Gleek' or 'Bleep', I will probably sleep better at night, and you will be my favorite Nitty.Gritty. reader of the day. =)
All that to bring me to my point.
I've decided to play the "5 weird things about me when I grocery shop" game today. Yep. Who knew I had quirks even while grocery shopping? You are about to find out, and see me in yet another light. Your life will never be the same. Are you sure you want to keep reading...I mean, this stuff is really deep. It's the essence of Nitty.Gritty. Here goes.
1) I buy (or don't buy) things according to 'use by dates'...however (here's the weird part) it's not always to avoid the nearest expiration date, but to target certain dates. Like I will grab for the milk that has my birthday stamped on the outside (Dec. 20- in case you want to note it for yourself), or pass over the bread marked 9/11...do you follow? And I get excited when something has a 'meaningful' date marked on it. Most recently, I got happy at the store when things had the date Oct. 10th...it made me realize that my scrap contest is getting really close!
2) It actually does matter to me what kind of dish soap scent (or other items) I select- contrary to the fact that my hubby insists it's not "rocket science". "Just grab a bottle of soap!" he would insist, while in my mind I realize I will be washing my hands and smelling this stuff for a month...so it really does matter.
3) I can't recall the last time I chose 'paper'. I've been a plastic-girl for so long now.
4) I don't understand why people don't put the carts back into the parking lot cart corrals...that's my favorite part of grocery shopping. I give the cart a push, hop onto it, and get a ride to the rails. It's like a free few seconds of joy and childhood again. Why do people skip this part? I don't know.
5) This one is actually probably tied with number 4 as far as enjoyment factor is concerned. I love turning up the music and singing loudly too and from the store- usually I shop without my kids, so it is the one time I have quiet space in my vehicle for 5-10 minutes each way. You would think I would just enjoy the quiet. Instead, it's turn it up and belt it out. You know what songs I sing most of the time??? Old hymns (my favs are my Selah ones). I might as well spill a bonus quirk with you here right now. And that is that I can open up a church hymnal and I have a 9 out of 10 chance of knowing the song...usually I can recall most of the 4 stanzas- when prompted. Yes, I am steeped in traditional religious music. Now you know.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Me...making stuff.

What better way for me to wittle away the next few days before my scrap trip to Vegas than to make stuff? In case you are just dying to know what I am doing, I am giving you a little glimpse here. That's me- a few minutes ago. Snapped a self-pic of me, and my stuff. My girls love to help me... they cut and color and tear and have fun making more mess than I do. And that puffy paint? I was just playing around with that and made a simple t-shirt. My girls loved watching me 'write' with paint.
A few people asked me about the Creating Keepsakes link and the SOY finalist features. The website is updating it to highlight one contestant each day. That is why if you click the link you don't see all 10 of us. Yet. =)
I'm still trying to figure out what it is exactly that I love so much about patterned papers, colors, shapes and putting them all together. It must be in my DNA. I do know that it makes me happy. Oh yeah...one last thing. I received an email from the Jaqua product line today...and get this...they have a new {Pink Buttercream Handmade Soy Candle} available. Free with a purchase of $50 dollars or more. I might just have to go buy more Maple Syrup body wash. It's the simple goodness in life that I find most pleasing. I told you- you're gonna get *happy*, happY, hAPPY here for awhile. Might as well get used to it. I really hope you don't mind.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Come on join the "SOY RIDE"...

Anybody out there (besides Chip and Rachael) remember the song "Joy Ride" by the group Roxette? I changes the lyrics to "SOY Ride" sometime last week, and have burst into song a few too many times for it to be funny for my hubby any longer. Maybe that's why he was so excited to take off for Ireland. A little too much "SOY" humor for him. =)
My theory is you gotta 'play' out the dream for it to become reality, so I look for ways to incorporate the word SOY {Scrapbooker of the Year} into my everyday living. Changing a few song lyrics is just part of the fun for me. I've also spelled out the word 'CK SOY' with my kids foam bathtub alphabet letters, and thought about buying SOY milk- you know, actually 'become SOY' from the inside out. I told you, this contest is practically consuming me- in a very good way. =)
So, for those of you who want an 'inside peek' into this scrap contest that I am so fortunate to be in the middle of, you can see the finalists essays and a layout at the Creating Keepsakes Magazine website. Click on this link. CK is featuring all 10 of us SOY finalists as we get closer to the actual announcement. That way you can pick your 'favorite' and see how we all stack up against each other. In a way, you are enjoying the 'SOY ride' right along with me...how much more fun can scrapping get! And just so you don't start asking me, I'll let you know that I don't know when my day will come...so just keep watching.

Consuming my thoughts...

Do you know how fast a week goes by when you're preparing for the highlight of your year? That's all the waiting I have left until I fly out to Vegas for my Scrapper of the Year contest.
In the meantime, hubby is off to Ireland. This is his first trip there, with no women or children in sight (I hope anyway), and lots of premium golf. He earned bonus points by bringing me a Starbuck's latte just before he said his goodbyes. =)
And don't feel too badly for me, because my friend (and former nanny)Rachael, {*see us in the previous post at cake class together} will be with me as much as she can, to help with the kids, to laugh at my real-life drama, and to make sure I am hyped up for my trip next week.
I told Chip just before he left that he picked a bad time to leave on a trip. Why is that, he asked...to which I told him, "I'm gonna be in a good mood for the next 7 days straight, and you're gonna miss it!" Truth is, I plan on being in a good mood for the next 2 weeks, and then some- even if I'm not the top SOY pick. I'll be running on new creative ideas, new places, fresh faces, and probably new dreams for my future- whatever that may hold.
So, when I find the time to be blogging here, I hope it's all good. It should be. One more thing, thanks to all the get-well wishes. My cold is nearly gone, and the sun is actually peeking out here in Michigan today. Things look bright!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What I blog about when I've got 'nothing'...

Really. Other than asking if any of you want to order or renew a magazine subscription through me, I've got nothing. =) {That's a joke, so don't leave me any crazy comments or leave here feeling offended today, okay!}
I think my mind is racing too much the past few days, because I'm drawing a blank on new blog material. I even biked about 4 1/2 miles today, and still the material just isn't happening.
I have been busy; I have been being creative; I have been cleaning house; I have been slowly getting over my cold; I have been happy to see my hubby excited about his Ireland trip; I have been excited and planning for my own Vegas trip; maybe that's why I've got nothing here. I've guess maybe I have stuff, I just can't post it all here.
Instead, I give you a flashback of me and a happy time in my life. This is a collage of pictures {circa mid-August 2005} I put together last year after a two-day cake class at the Artisan Cooking School in Grand Haven. My friend, Rachael and I had way too much fun doing this together. I mean, me + buttercream - kids to tend to = One Rockin' Good Time! Add in the ubber-talented and personable, Chef Jenny + Katie Holmes' cousin, and I'm telling you, I was practically in Heaven. Okay. Not even close to Heaven, but it was a total change of scenery from the life I normally live.
And, I was free to have fun, and make cake...CARROT CAKE! Plus, I was surrounded by buttercream- the real stuff- at least 5 batches of it. I don't even want to guess how many calories I consumed over those two days. And truthfully, I don't think it matters. Because when a person is having that much fun in life, the calories just don't count.
So, there you have it. Click on the pictures to see them enlarged, and for a minute, pretend you get to be in Gourmet Cake Class with me. And maybe someday I'll post the recipe for the most delectable Buttercream Icing ever.
Boy, for having nothing to say, I certainly enjoyed myself. Must be the big bowls of buttercream and the smooth frosted cake. Oh yeah, and the smile I get on my face just remembering the fun I had with great people. Mmmmm. Happiness is good memories.