As the comments popped up in my inbox about your favorite part of summer, there were way too many extolling the beauty of lazy evenings sipping sweet tea on the porch, while the children catch fireflies.

Let me just tell you.  I'm jealous.

Really, really jealous.  If you have a house with a "porch" in California, chances are, it is just a glorified front stoop, that you would be lucky to fit a few small chairs on.  Fireflies.  No such thing.  I saw a glow worm at Bass Lake.  Let me just tell you... gross.  NOT the same.

But then again, we've got the beach.

So... maybe I just need to plan a vacation one of these summers to the land of porches and fireflies.  Until then, I'll keep my beach.

Now to the winner of the happy summery dress:

Sarah, I hope your little girl can catch some fireflies for me.

Enjoy the tea.  I'm more of an unsweet tea girl myself.  I know, the horror, right?  Crazy Californians!

Want to know how to capture buttery, dreamy, magical sunflare?
Me too.

Can't help you though.
What I can do is tell you what not to do.

A.  Leave your UNmanual at home.  A.D.D. assures that you haven't exactly retained what you read in the sunflare lessson until you actually do your homework, as well as making you fail to remember to pack it in your suitcase.

B.  Using a grouchy baby as your subject, who is furious that her sisters and cousins are free to run loose on the beach while her mean mom is using her as a guinea pig.
C.  Take pictures at the wrong time, so the sun appears to burn a hole through grouchy baby's neck.

D.  Or brain.
E.  Have your reluctant model quit on you suddenly, mainly because the sun just burned a hole through her, plus all of the sisters and cousins walk by eating ice cream.
F.  She is done.  With a burning armpit.  Next time I am bringing the UNmanual and practicing on something less demanding.  Like a lifeguard tower.

To write yesterday's post, I had to get a bag of Bugles, because hello...  the road trip Bugles were long gone.  Wouldn't you know that my friendly neighborhood Target had them on sale.  Holla.  But, not only the caramel ones, a whole new version of Bugles goodness.  Chocolate.  Peanut. Butter.

{Mr. Snacks kindly asked me to save him some.  I did.  He wasn't specific how many exactly.}

Be still my chocolate loving heart.

I have always hope that Chex would package their Puppy Chow/Trash/Monkey Much.
Now I don't have to.  The Chocolate Peanut Butter Bugles totally remind me of that scrumptious snack.  Which also reminded me to dig this out of ye olde blog archives, you know, in case you feel like making it instead of running to Target this very second to buy yourself a bag.

Back to Target, you know for my "blog research" trip.  I had the littles with me.  But that didn't stop me from opening the bag as soon as I got to the van.

The following conversation took place in the Target parking lot:

(Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.)

Kid 1:  Mom what are you eating?
Me:  Onion chips.  (Crunch, crunch, crunch.)
Kid 2:  What do they taste like?
Me:  Crazy, super spicy, really oniony, onions.  (Crunch, crunch, crunch.)
Kid 1:  (Sigh.  Sad face.)  Oh.
Me:  Do you want to try one?  (Crunch, crunch, crunch.)
Kid 1 & Kid 2: (In unison.)  NO THANK YOU!!!!

And scene.

Yes.  I am a lying liar who lies.
Sue me.
But if you tried them, you would be too.

On one of our seemingly never ending string of road trips, in the middle of nowhere, the swagger wagon was thirsty for gas and I was desperate for a fountain Diet Poison.  Don't judge.  It was one of those days.

Anyway, my husband, a.k.a. Mr. Snacks, came back to the van with a bag of Caramel Bugles.  Not the pretzel M&M's I sent him in for.
The thing you need to know about Mr. Snacks is, he is a sucker for trying new things.  I am pretty sure the product development department at Taco Bell has his photo pinned up for inspiration and abides by the slogan
{what would Jason try?}

I joke, but seriously.  He tries weird things.  Things most normal people (i.e. his wife) would laugh at.  To be honest, I have barely recovered from the trauma I like to call "The Cherry Chocolate Dr. Peppergate of 2007".

So, back to the Bugles.

The following conversation took place between two random towns in the middle of the middle of California:

Me:  (Sarcastically) Bugles?  Really?  Bugles?
Mr. Snacks:  Don't mock them until you have tried them.
Me:  No.
Mr. Snacks:  Try one.
Me:  No.
Mr. Snacks:  Seriously.  Try one.
Me:  Nope.
Mr. Snacks:  Try one.
Me:  Ewwwww.  Never.
Mr. Snacks:  I won't stop asking until you try one.
Me:  Fine.  I will try your dumb Bugles.
(He hands me the bag.
I try one.
Suddenly multiple rainbows appear.  Birds break out in the most beautiful melody my ears have ever heard.  Sparkling unicorns came galloping along side us.)
Mr. Snacks:  What did I tell you?
Me:  (crunch, crunch, crunch)
Mr. Snacks:  They're amazing, right?
Me:  (crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch)
Mr. Snacks:  May I have them back?
Me:  Nope. (crunch, crunch, crunch)
Mr. Snacks:  Seriously, please hand over the bag.
Me:  Never.  (crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch)

And scene.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

How has summer flown by so quickly?
Sniff, sniff.
What is a better way to celebrate, than with a bunch of fun giveaways with other fine bloggers?
Besides of course, giveaways and cupcakes... a bit of baking this afternoon might be in order.
Twist my arm.

The color of the ocean in Hawaii.
All happy things.

How about a sweet peasant dress (size 4T/5T) and matching Pretty.Messy. flower headband?
Not a bad way to celebrate.

Just leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about summer.
That's it.
Winner will be announced on July 30th.

Now it's time to bake.

There is a new, easy, addicting dessert in town.

I had my heart set on making Heather's Peanut Butter Vanil-licious Cookies.
But while I impatiently wait for my sugar to turn into vanilla sugar, I still had peanut butter on the brain.

Then Celeste had to go and get her fudge recipe published on the dreamy Tasty Kitchen site.  I was powerless to resist. Especially since I had every single ingredient in my pantry.

It's really, really good.  
Super dangerous to make when your kids are napping and your husband is at work, good.
Jump off the computer and get another piece good.

I suggest making a bunch of Ashley Ann's adorable Paper Brownie Boxes while the fudge chills.  That way you will be forced to share the goodness instead of eating it all yourself.  Trust me.  It will call to you.  Incessantly. 

{In case you are dying to know where my cake stand is from, I would be...  it's from Costco.  Months ago. They sold out of a truck full of them in about a day.  A wild goose chase was involved.  Friends from other states were involved.  I could probably pay a years mortgage reselling them if I could get my hands on any more.  But they are gone, baby, gone.  Sad face.  Wah wah.} 

My heart smiles when I see someone use their blog for good.
To see them have an idea.
A big, scary, seemingly impossible, idea.
An idea bigger than themselves.
To reach out.  To help.  To leap.  To trust.
To use their gifts to change the world.

Crystal had such an idea.

God took her idea, and did what He does best.
He helps to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever ask or hope.

Crystal found a beautiful quilt pattern.
A pattern that would make me run screaming.
But she is brave.  So very, very brave.
She decided to make this beautiful, wonderful quilt.
But not to keep.
To give away.
Because not only is she brave, she is generous.
To give away for a reason much bigger than herself.
A reason that is an ocean away.
To save lives.
To help buy nets.
Simple mosquito nets.  Mosquito nets that protect families.  Mothers, fathers, children, and babies from malaria.
One million people die a year from malaria infections.
Preventable malaria infections.
To her, each and every piece of fabric represents a person.
A life.
A life worth saving.
One net can protect a family of four for up to five years.
Five years.  Imagine the safety, the comfort, the peace that net would bring to a family.
Ten dollars.
A net only costs ten dollars.
Ten dollars can save four lives.
Think about that.
Something so simple.  Something that is hardly a sacrifice to us, can mean all the difference in the lives of that family.
Africa is near and dear to my heart.
Africa is near and dear to Crystal's heart.
But more importantly, Africa is near and dear to God's heart.
This quilt is a beautiful reminder of that.
Crystal's goal is to see the purchase of 500 nets.
I believe that goal will be exceeded.

For each net purchased, you get one entry into the raffle for this stunning quilt.
For each net purchased, you are helping to save lives.
Think of the love and care that she put into this quilt.
Think of the love and care you could send across the globe with the purchase of simple mosquito nets.

Go here to buy your nets.
Visit Crystal and learn more about her heart for this project here.

Thank you for your big hearts.
You are my faves.

Congrats Tracy!  You are the happy winner of a $25 shop credit to The Pleated Poppy.
Good luck trying to narrow down from all of the cuteness I am sure that you want.

Didn't win?
Don't fret.  Sweet Lindsey has offered all of you cool kids 10% off any purchase in her shop.
Use the code:   joyshope    and you are free to buy as much as you can hide.
Or am I the only one who does that?

Want some inside info?
The petal drop necklaces and bloom bags sell like hotcakes, if in fact you were at a restaurant that made really, really good hotcakes.
Want advance notice on when they are listed?
Follow Lindsey on Twitter to get all of the deets.  Then maybe your Pleated Poppy dreams will come true.

Thanks Lindsey!
Everyone hearts you.

So yesterday I told you how Lindsey from The Pleated Poppy saves my life on a daily basis.
Guess what?
She could save yours too.
She's cool like that.

The funny thing is, after knowing each other through our blogs for over a year we figured out that our husbands went to school together, and in fact their backyards faced each other as kids.  Weird small world.

Lindsey constantly inspires me.
Her eye for color, her fabric combos, her home, her family, her pictures....  I could go on and on.
I love her blog.  Love it.
I love her shop.  Love it.  I could easily buy one of every single thing that she makes.  Perhaps I already have.  Multiple times.
She's amazing.

It is so wonderful to see someone dream big dreams, then live them out in such a beautiful way.

She is generous, helpful, encouraging, and basically full of sunshine every single day.

The world needs more Lindsey's.

Lindsey is offering a $25 shop credit!
Oh, the pretty that can be had for the happy, happy, winner.

How could it be you?

Visit The Pleated Poppy.
Enjoy the eye candy.
Come back here and leave a comment telling me your one must have item from the shop.
Yes, I understand that is an impossible request.
Do your best to narrow it down.

A winner will be chosen at noon Pacific on Monday, July 19th.

Thanks Lindsey!

I am convinced that I will quite possibly die if I ever leave the house without the following things.
I can't control it.  I can't handle it if any of them are missing.
I wish that I was kidding.
I so wish that I was.

If I am going out for five minutes, five hours, or five days, these are sure to be with me.
My desert island luxuries, if you will.
Be warned.  Much unnecessary drama to follow.  I am not a dramatic person.  That is unless I am without one of my non-negotiables.  Then drama.  Epic loads of drama ensues.

Burts Bees chapstick.
Not one.  Not two.  Ideally three.  Because you never know if one or two will suddenly get lost.  Because if that happens... I will die.

Sunglasses.  If the sun is out, they are on my face.  If it is one minute from sunset, they are on my face.  If it is raining, chances are, they are on my face.  I am pretty sure the sole reason that I would never, ever try out for Survivor is not the weather, the bugs, the starving, the backstabbing.  No, the reason is the contestants aren't allowed to wear sunglasses.  I would die.

Ponytail holders.  Goody.  Brown.  Big.  Ouchless.  Three minimum.  (See Burt's Bee's above.)  What if I need to put my hair up?  That is a serious problem.  Without them.  I will die.

A necklace.  Without one I sort of can't breathe.  But not a bracelet or ring.  If I am wearing a bracelet or ring I sort of can't breathe.  Did I mention that I am a freakshow?  I cannot go more than a few minutes a day without a necklace on.  I can't go more than a few minutes a day with a bracelet on.  Not normal.  My current fave is from Stinky Toes Designs.  Amy is raising money to help defray their adoption expenses.  I love the story and meaning behind her designs and I love helping even a little to bring her children home from Africa.

My point and shoot.  Because you never, ever know when you are going to see something crazy that you need to take a picture of.  Like for instance a lady who is having a panic attack because her chapstick is at home.  Not like that has ever, ever happened to me.  Today.  Freakshow.

I keep all of them, my sanity, my security, in my scissor zippy from The Pleated Poppy.  If only Lindsey knew how she saved me from peril and death every single day.  I owe her and this zippy my life.

We are resting.
This summer has been so full.
So fun.
So much.

I love it.
But it exhausts me.

It is one of my favorite summers ever.
But the laundry.

I cherish our adventures.
But I feel like I am running an never ending marathon.
I am not a runner.

It is only just beginning.

So for a minute I will be still.
In the beautiful stillness.

Until I miss the chaos.
I don't have to look far.
It's right around the corner.

It is really, really, nice to have talented friends.
Really nice.
Especially when you can mooch off said talented friends.

Somehow I got into a card club with scrapbookers.
Cricut owning, paper loving, crop night hosting, scrapbook store class teaching, friends.
Friends whose obsession with paper rivals my obsession with fabric.

What they didn't know was Julie + Paper= no bueno.
I want to love paper crafts.  I want to stamp.  I want to make amazing scrapbook layouts for our family photos.  But I just can't.  Paper has no love for me.  The feeling in fact, is wholly mutual.

I am this odd duck surrounded by this crazy talent.
But they let me in anyway.
Mostly because they didn't know.
I'm tricky like that.

Every month has a different theme and we each make a dozen cards.  Then we meet,  eat and swap our creations.  I go home with 12 epic cards.  All much better than I could make on my own.  Awesome deal for me.  For them... they go home with eleven great cards.  One ish card.  It is brilliant.

After a few months of trying to make friends with paper, even trying to marry paper, fabric and my sewing machine, and having fail after fail, after fail, I decided to give digital scrapbooking a try.

I am so clueless, but I am so in love.  I can work on them at midnight.  I can work on them during nap time.  They don't make a mess.  I don't have to run to the store for supplies.  I may have the quirkiest cards, the simplest cards, but I no longer feel like my friends go home and throw them in the garbage.

May's theme was Congratulations.
{I used elements from this, this, and this kit.
The font is Honey Script.}

Last month's theme was America.
Not only am not good with paper, but I am apparently not good with following instructions.
But horses are American right?
Maybe that's more British.
Who doesn't need a card with a horse head on it?  Honestly?
{All elements from this kit.}

This month's theme is friendship.
This card is random.
But you know I like me some random.
Pink, old papers, a Cali map, a quirkly cammy...
Those things are my fave.
{Elements from here, here, here, and here.
The font is Courier New.}

For the most part I make them in Picnik.  I am still overwhelmed by Photoshop, and it is on my list of goals for this year.  Picnik is easy.  It is amazing.  Their fonts... not amazing.
Here is a simple tutorial on how to layer images.

I enrolled in this class to help me on my Photoshop journey and am even considering taking a full semester class this coming fall at a local college.  Considering.  Loosely considering.  We will see where this journey leads me.  But so far I like the adventure.

For you pro digi scrappers, I would lovey, love, love any tips or links that you could share.
Doesn't it bug when a post only 99% tells you how to do something?
That 1% mystery drives you crazy, right?
I forgot to mention that I printed the above cards with my cheapy printer on white cardstock.  I formatted them in Pages (Word for you PC's).  I am sure there is some easy way to do it in Photoshop.  Just not in my skill set yet.  They all are long skinny cards, since long, skinny envelopes are the only size that Target carries.
Here is what the cammy card looks like.

It makes me smile.
Hope that answered any questions.
You are my fave.

I don't know how it started, but last summer Halley came up with our favorite family tradition called
Summer Nights.

Nothing fancy.  One day she just asked us if we could have a summer night.

What's a summer  night to a five year old?
Eating dinner in the backyard on a blanket.
That's it.

Not to be confused with a picnic.  Because picnics happen at lunchtime.  Away from home.
What is the best kind of menu for a summer night?
Brinner of course.
{In case you don't know the cool kids' lingo, brinner is breakfast for dinner.}

Lucy took it literally.  She donned pajamas and slippers.
Because hello, if you are eating breakfast, why wouldn't you wear pj's.

Colorful trays from Ikea were simply made for summer nights.

Bald baby was relegated to her travel high chair.
She is known to be on the loose.
But with an endless supply of plums from our tree, she was easily appeased.

What would a summer night be without some silly sister pictures?

But you know what is my favorite part of summer nights?
A night off from sweeping the dining room floor.

I'm easily pleased.

Charla left me one of my favorite comment of the week.  Because it is so true.

I am random.  My life is random.  Therefore my blog is random.  Thanks for enduring the random.  At times I honestly find myself and my randomness exhausting.

If your computer is near your sleeping kids' room...
do not click here.
If you have the freedom to nearly pee your pants laughing, click away.
{Thanks Lindsey.}

Bald baby has outgrown baby food, but part of me wants her to gobble up a few dozen jars of peas just so I can make this.  Adore.

I want this.  Bad.  I want cupcakes.  Bad.  I am trying to give up sugar.  It lasted about ten minutes.

Working on a simple solution for my super popular kids' endless birthday invitations.

Bought something fancy to make French Fry Pizza.
You heard me.
French Fry Pizza.

This guy has the best job in the world.
The entire world.
He is the magic behind Anthropologie's found items.
I am obsessed with his show.  I am catching up on last season's episodes, so many of the items that he finds are already in stores or the current catalog.
Like this bed.  Dreamy.  Especially if it goes on sale for 99% off.
It is so fun and nerdy to know the future product names of things in my mind as he finds them.  Brilliant.

That wraps up a whole week of random.  But don't fret.  There is always more around the corner.

Our Bass Lake vacay in pictures.
Panning for gold.
Looking for squirrels.
Olde Timey train ride
Swimming. Lots of swimming.
Until we meet soon.
Love you forever and ever Bass Lake.

{P.S.  All of the pics were taken with my point and shoot and are straight out of  the camera.  The collages were made in Picnik.  Proof that you don't need a fancy cammy, endless hours to edit and Photshop to capture your family's memories.  Be encouraged by that.  Don't put off taking beautiful pictures until you think you have the right equipment or skills.  Start with what you have.  I promise that you are even more amazing than you think that you are.}