Monday, August 31, 2009

September Garland

Submitted by Linda
For the months of July and August I've had this beautiful garland hanging from my sideboard. Those of you who know me, know that I'm a fan of white twinkly lights all year around. Last summer I saw a banner like this one at Barbara Cheatley's store in Claremont, and made my own version. It's hard to see in the pic, but there are silver splarkly stars hanging from each letter. I was so excited to pull it out for this Independence Day and show my patriotism!

You can click garland on my sideboard to see my Christmas and Easter versions. Last fall, I bought a strand of Autumn berries that were perfect for October and November. But in September, I couldn't quite wrap my mind around Halloween and Thanksgiving, so I decided I needed something fun for "Back to School". My moment of revelation came last Christmas when I was decorating my little kitchen Christmas tree. I have an apple garland that I always use!!!!

I put up the apple garland, with the grapevine and twinkly lights, but it looked a little bare. I decided I needed to venture into "chipboard"-land again. This is my second time using chipboard - you can look at my first try here.

I covered an A, B and C with cute Stampin Up paper with my Xyron sticker machine. (That's one of those tools I don't use very often, but when I do need it, I'm so glad I have it!) I added a sticker, a brad, some ribbon, and punched a hole with my Cropodile.
It's hard to see, but the paper on the B looks like lined notebook paper- cute!
Here it is all put together!
I think it turned out really cute, and I'm feeling a whole lot of school spirit!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Submitted by Linda
This week my parents celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary! What an accomplishment in this day and age. They spend time together playing tennis, solving the Jumble Puzzle in the paper every day, and helping me out with my various home improvement or craft projects. We joke with them about being "connected at the hip", but in reality, they are a wonderful example of how to do marriage well. Craig's parents also made it 54 years, before his dad passed away. What a great legacy for us and our boys.
Here they are, August 28, 1955. They said that it was boiling hot that day and the church wasn't air-conditioned.
Here they are, 54 years later, celebrating with our family at Black Angus.
Well, I certainly could not have given my folks a store-bought card for such a big occasion, so I copied this card that I saw at my friend Rachel's house.
I believe these are some of the new "in-colors".
My mom loves the purples, pinks and greens, so I changed the color scheme.
The flowers are cut out with the Stampin' Up Big Shot die cutting machine.
On a side note: My parents lost their first home in a tornado in Nebraska and my mom's wedding gown was recovered miles away. Since it was too damaged to preserve, she has it hanging on a beautiful hook in their bedroom. It looks beautiful hanging on the wall, and I'm sure she enjoys seeing it often.

I hope Craig and I make it 54 years, and I certainly hope we look as youthful as they do!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Found Friends

Submitted by Michelle

Three years ago when I first joined Stampin' Up!, I did it only so that my friend Rachel could have enough new recruits to receive an award at convention. I didn't think I'd try to sell anything, and I didn't even think my own purchases would be enough to reach the quarterly minimums for sales. But, Linda convinced me to have a workshop at her house and from that workshop the Claremont Stamp Club was born and now here I am, a full fledged demonstrator who attends convention!!!

There are lots of perks being a demonstrator: discounts on stamps, free stuff, convention, etc., but the BEST perk by far are the relationships I have developed. The most recent is my new friend Carrie.
Carrie and her family recently moved to the desert from Michigan. (Can you say culture shock??) Carrie was a Stampin' Up! fan in Michigan and before she moved to California she looked online for a demonstrator in La Quinta. She found me (yay!) and after several e-mails we finally met on Thursday when she and her daughter Samantha attend my Stamp-A-Stack.

It is amazing all of the things that Carrie and I have in common: We both enjoy cooking and baking, we both love to stamp, we both have dachshunds, and oddly enough, the town Carrie moved from in Michigan is called Utica and my dad was born and raised in Utica, New York!

Carrie has two children and her youngest, Samantha, will start her junior year of high school on Monday. Since Samantha doesn't have any friends in La Quinta yet, I introduced her to Giselle, the sister of one of my former kindergarten students. They met up in my classroom yesterday and seemed to hit it off.
Giselle and Samantha
It always makes my heart happy to find front row worthy friends and I love how Stampin' Up! has helped me to develop relationships with people that I might not have otherwise met.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Linda's Dream Come True

Submitted by Linda
Those of you who know me, know that I've been wishing for a Mini Cooper since they first emerged on the scene back in the days of "The Italian Job". Over the years, we've only had a few cars, because we are the type of people who keep their cars forever! And the cars we have had, have all been purchased used (except for a new minivan we purchased when they boys were teeny tiny- it must have been about 15 years ago).

Lately, I've found myself rumbling around town in our current minivan all by myself. The boys have both ended up with their own cars, and suddenly, the van is only useful for the youth group's weekly beach trip. During my life as a van-driving mom, I loved the van features (no console between the two front seats, so you can climb back and unbuckle a car seat), and I can't tell you how many times we needed the 8th seat that our good old Astro van had. I have such happy memories of our van full of kids, on the way somewhere, laughing and talking and spilling food in the cracks and crevices. In that van, we had the sex talks, the God talks, and other deep discussions as I was driving the boys here and there. Both of our vans have really served us well.

Enter "Cash for Clunkers"! Today Craig headed down to the dealership to wheel and deal. We had shopped before, so I knew what I wanted: Red, no stripes, automatic transmission (so I can drink my iced tea and talk on the phone!) and the armrest in the middle (can you believe an armrest is an "extra"?) Craig knew that he could choose any other features he thought I (I mean "we") need. I'm thrilled with what he chose: the Ipod function, bluetooth deal (so my phone calls go through the radio), a bunch of extra horsepower (it really zips!)
Here I am in it, SO excited and pleased!
Here's the 'suh-weet' interior with the modern yet retro knobs and dials. Love it!

Just for the record, I won't be offering it for the youth group to borrow. And I'm feeling like this is one of the cool upsides of approaching the empty nest era of my life.

Now I need your help. I don't want vanity plates, but I do want to get a custom license plate frame with a cute and clever caption. Any ideas??????

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stacey's Salsa

Submitted by LindaOur front row friend and Stamp Club member Stacey is famous for her salsa. She is required to bring it to family gatherings and stamping events. When I tasted it the first time, I couldn't believe it wasn't 100% homemade. Since I had never made salsa before, I thought her recipe would be a good one to try. I like how the recipe suggests that the ingredients "get friendly" overnight. This means you can make your salsa the night before your own event.
Stacey's Salsa

Ingredients:
28 oz. can Hunts tomato sauce
28 oz. can Hunts whole tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onions chopped
2 jalapenos (deseeded and microwaved for 30 seconds)
1 Tablespoon salt
Several dashes cayenne pepper (7 - 8 shakes)

Directions:
Mix whole tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, salt and cayenne pepper in blender. Pour mixture into a large bowl, add tomato sauce and chopped green onions and stir.

Best if chilled overnight so flavors can "get friendly".

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Celeste

Submitted by Michelle
It was the first day of school in September of 2006, and as I eagerly greeted my new students on their first day of kindergarten, I was quite shocked and surprised when this little bundle of cuteness came, quite literally, rolling into my classroom. I had no idea a handicapped child was in my class and I had no idea the profound impact she would have on my life.
Celeste, first day of kindergarten
Prior to Celeste coming to kindergarten I found out I was in early menopause and the chances of me conceiving a child were slim to none. I thought I had worked through all the sadness but in the fall of 2006 other traumatic life events occurred and I became deeply depressed. If it weren't for Celeste, I probably would have stopped working all together.

Celeste loved school from the start (and I think I loved her from the start too) but she did not like strangers so no matter how I was feeling each day, I knew I had to get out of bed and go to work so she wouldn't have to deal with a substitute teacher. If she could deal with all her disabilities without a single complaint the least I could do was get moving each morning and teach my kinder kids.
Celeste, Halloween 2006
As the school year progressed I learned all about Celeste's handicaps - hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy and scoliosis. I also learned that in her 5 short years of life she had endured 10 surgeries and kindergarten was the first year without any surgeries or major illness.
Dad, Celeste & Mom, Family Lunch, 2007
Celeste and I started hanging out on the weekends. She would come to visit me and we would sing, cook together, watch Food Network, go swimming or play games. I taught her to be a Mac-loving computer whiz and she taught me that though I was not going to have a child of my own, there are plenty of children in my life who need a mother-like figure. Celeste's parents have always been so generous about loaning her to me and David on a regular basis.
Celeste 2007
During Celeste's first grade school year she had a major surgery on her hip and knee. She was out of school for over a month and I was lucky enough to be her home teacher. She pulled through like a trooper and was able to start taking steps at physical therapy.
It was also during her first grade year that Celeste's doctors began focusing on the severity of her scoliosis and decided that body casting would be the first option in order to correct her curvature of the spine. David and I took Celeste on her first trip to Disneyland before her cast was put on. Again, her parents were SO nice to let us take her and we had a fantastic time. Like most little girls, Celeste enjoyed meeting all the Disney princesses.
Me & Celeste
Celeste and Belle
Celeste has worn a body cast for the last 18 months. About every 3 months her doctor changes the cast and she has had to endure not being able to go swimming or take a bath or basically getting wet. Throughout this time Celeste and I have continued our friendship and I started her education in musical theatre. Several times we have gone with Linda and one of her former students, Danielle, to see shows at Azusa Pacific University. We always get great front row seats because Linda's husband works at APU and sometimes we even know a cast member. Linda's niece Katie was in the production of The Music Man.
Danielle, Celeste and Katie, post-performance at the Music Man
Last Spring Celeste's doctor determined that the casting was not working and the next step would be for her to have dual growth rods inserted into her back. Last week Celeste had her pre-operation appointment and her doctor took off her body cast!!! Since then we have been getting in lots of swimming and she even went on a family trip to the lake.
Celeste in the pool, August 2009
Tomorrow Celeste will go into the hospital for her spine surgery. If all goes well, the doctor will be able to immediately correct her curvature by approximately 40%. Once the growth rods are in, her spine can continue to grow while it is being straightened.

Celeste came over to cook dinner with me last night and we made roasted tomato sauce to go over pasta. We also talked about her surgery. I think I am more nervous about the surgery than Celeste. I hope the procedure goes smoothly and that she isn't scared prior to the surgery or in pain afterwards.
Celeste peeling garlic
Mixing everything with the food processor.
Over 3 years our lives have been woven together in the most unlikely way and because of the most unlikely of circumstances. I feel so blessed that Celeste came along at a time in my life when I needed her most and I am glad I can be with her not only during good times but when she really needs me the most.

I'll keep you posted on Celeste's progress and if you would keep her in your thoughts and prayers I'd appreciate it.

Celeste & Me, August 2009



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Too Hot To Cook

Submitted by Michelle
It is August. It's hot. There is no way I want to turn on the oven and yet I have an overload of potatoes that have been coming in my farm box. What's a girl to do? Fire up the grill, that's what!

Lately in my box I've had a large variety of fingerling and new potatoes of all shapes and colors. I also have what I believe to be purple leeks, or maybe they are extremely large and extremely purple spring onions, either way I've got lots of them too. And from my own herb garden I am happy to report that my thyme is thriving despite the 100+ temperatures we have been having for most of the summer.
I decided to combine all 3 ingredients and cook some potatoes on the grill to go with our BBQ chicken dinner. I started with some heavy duty aluminum foil and I sliced and scattered the leeks over it.
I par-cooked the potatoes, cut them in half and combined them with the thyme in a large bowl. I also added salt and pepper and olive oil. I did not put the leeks in, thinking I wanted them all on the bottom of the foil so they would cook and caramelize being the closest vegetable to the heat. (In hindsight, I should have just combined them with the potato mixture. They got a little overdone during the grilling process.)
Once all the ingredients were well combined, I placed it all on top of the leeks, wrapped it up nice and tight and put it on the grill.
About 20 minutes later I had these tasty babies!
They made a great side dish, my house didn't get overheated, and the clean-up was minimal - throw out the foil! That's my kind of summer cooking!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Things I Love

Submitted by Michelle
David and I are at the beach for some rest and relaxation and a longtime friend that I've known since the third grade is visiting us for a few days as well. Despite all that, I can't stop stamping! I brought a few projects to work on and this morning I got inspired to finish a Make-And-Take from convention that utilizes the Things I Love stamp set.

When I first saw this set in the catalog I wasn't interested in it, but then I got it for free at convention and of course, I totally dig it now. I made three 3X3 cards. Each card has a different love: shoes, shopping, chocolate but the sentiment inside is always the same: "...but most of all YOU!" As in, "I love chocolate, but most of all YOU!" Cute right?
Bermuda Bay cardstock is the base of all 3 cards. It is a great In Color this year and co-ordinates well with Chocolate Chip cardstock.

Another In Color, Melon Mambo, accents the card but this time in the form of polka-dot ribbon. Did you know Stampin' Up! In Colors are based on current decorating trends? No wonder we love them so much, year after year.

The cards make a cute gift when packaged in a cello bag with an easy to make topper that keeps the bag closed.
Now if only there was another love added to this set: stamping! Then it would be complete.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lucky Duck!

Submitted by Linda
This past Spring, I purchased a stamp set called "Wagon Full of Fun", mostly for a super cute cupcake that was included in the set. I also love this duck. Today I used it to create a baby shower announcement.

One of my favorite coloring tools is the blender pen. This marker is wet but has no colored ink. In the photo below, you can see that I scribbled on a metal tin with my colored markers, then I used the blender pen to pick up the ink, and color it onto my card stock. This gives it a softer "watercolor" vibe, rather than the marker stripes that can sometimes show up when coloring a large area with markers.
Here is my final product! I used dimensionals to make the duck pop up a bit, and added glitter to the bow!
Supplies used: Pretty in Pink card stock, Purely Pomegranite card stock, Razzleberry Lemonade Designer Series Paper, Crushed Curry ink, Rich Razzleberry ink, Dusty Durango ink, Dazzling Diamonds glitter, and contraband yellow ribbon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Christmas in August

Submitted by Michelle
Did you know August is the only month lacking an official holiday? Eleven months of the year we celebrate Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, Independence Day, Hanukkah, New Year's, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and if we don't have a real holiday, we just make one up: Boss' Day, Secretaries Day, Day of the Teacher. You name it, we have a holiday for it and probably a card to accompany it, but not during the month of August. Since I don't have any holidays to create projects for this month, I thought I'd work ahead and get going on cards for the fall.

This first one is for my upcoming Stamp Club. I'm not a big celebrator of Halloween, in fact, I hate dressing up and only do so for my kinder kids, and I really don't like scary, gory stuff, but I could not resist this little skeleton guy when I saw him in the Stampin' Up Catalog. His set is called Scary Skeleton, but Linda and I have nicknamed him Scary Skelly cuz he is so cute! The inspiration for the card came right out of the Stampin' Up! Idea Book and Catalog, page 24. I embossed Skelly in white on black cardstock and I also embossed the phrase "Trick or Treat, Scary and Sweet" in black. The end result is pretty fantastic and I think my Claremont stampers will love it.
I also pre-ordered some items from the upcoming mini-catalog Stampin' Up! will put out on September 1. There is a fabulous new punch in the shape of an ornament that has a matching stamp set. I used it, along with my silver embossing powder, to make a tag for a gift card holder I created using some retired DSP and ribbon.

This is a different version of the gift card holder, again using up some retired product. The tag on this project was made from the Hostess Set Christmas Punch in the Stampin' Up! IB&C. I love, love, love this set because all 6 stamps utilize a different punch from the catalog.
By the way, you may recognize this gift card holder from my Day 3 convention post. I copied the idea exactly, but rather than making a card, I turned it into a gift card holder. Incidentally, I will be giving these 2 Christmas gifts away today. David and I have family visiting from Morocco, and since we do not see them in December, we are celebrating Christmas a little early.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nick's Haircut

Submitted by Linda
"I think that the most important thing a woman can have - next to talent, of course - is her hairdresser." Joan Crawford

Although I'm not sure Joan Crawford was the maven of wisdom, these words are somewhat true. It has been my pleasure to have my same hairdresser for over 15 years. I like how Sandy keeps current with trends, and isn't afraid to tell me what NOT to do with my hair! It's also been fun to watch her girls grow up with my boys.

The other day, Nick wanted a haircut before his senior portrait appointment. Well, for any random occasion Nick will take potluck at the Haircut Store. But for important events we call Sandy. As she was cutting his hair, I remembered that she gave him his first "real" haircut, back in May of 1994.
So, for the sake of nostalgia, I snapped this pic of Sandy and Nick, July '09, with my phone. Neither of them were too happy about it - notice neither of them are looking at the camera or smiling!
Here is Nick, second from left, sporting his new 'do!
(Left to Right: Jon, Nick, Jake, Tommy)
It's funny how the trends change - a few years back these guys all had the shaggy look!