Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February photo challenge... complete!

Two months in a row!!!
Crazy crazy town.
I can't quit now.
I'm not going to lie.  My instagram feed makes me really, really, really happy.
Taking the time to catch little moments in my very busy days, is so worth it.
Especially when each minute the Jerkface Time is trying to make my littles big and make my memories fuzzy.

It was a good month.  Even when it wasn't.  It was.
 Here are my five seven faves from February:
(It was really hard to pick...  I liked sort of all of them!)
Letter A (for anger, angst...)

Sunflare

Sweet

Down low

Rest

Letter B (for busted being a bandit)

Silhouette

Join me, along with Erin and April as we take on the lucky month of March.
Boom.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Before Picnik peaces out...

So, come April the much beloved Picnik is closing???? Moving to Google+????
Or something like that.
But until that weird day, everyone can use the premium features for free.
Yay yay yay for you.  Except the closing??? part.  

I like Picnik.  It allows me to hide from the beast that is Photoshop.
In some ways it is a crutch, that is keeping me from actually learning the Photoshop beast.  I employ a rigged up hybrid of Picnik and Photshop to make all of my printables and Happy Sunday graphics.  
To be honest, the only thing that I know how to do in Photoshop is add text.  I have a font snobbish problem with the weird Picnik fonts.  I know.  It's exhausting.
From time to time I get queries on how to make my Happy Sunday graphics.
It's really easy, and now with the premium Picnik features, you can use this same method to make pretty much anything.

I took some screen shots as I made the above little thank you note.  It is my hope that they will help you make something cute and all graphic-y.

First you need a background pattern.  
I use digital scrapbook paper, which I purchase from Etsy, or Jessica Sprague.
I know that there are some great free ones out there too.  Feel free to google you little heart out.
When you have a background that you want to use, upload it to Picnik.

It will take you to this screen.  
It's about to get cute up in here.

Now you can pick what size you want the final project to be.
I usually work with 4x6 or 8x10.
Crop the appropriate size, and apply.

 A PNG file is basically an image with a transparent background.
Picnik premium lets you layer them on top of your background image.
There are a million zillion possibilities, as well as places to find PNG's.
I have occasionally found free ones, but mostly use ones that I have purchased.

Click on the Upload a photo tab, find the PNG from your computer that you want, and upload it.
Remember that the order that you upload it, will be the order that it appears on your project.  Start with the bottom and work to the top.
When it shows up in the green bar, drag it on to your background.

Use the circle arrow to turn and move the PNG.
You also can change the color of the PNG, or play with blending modes by clicking the rainbow box on the right.

To make the PNG bigger or smaller, pull the corner arrows.  
To move the PNG, place your cursor in the middle of the PNG and move it around.
Keep uploading, playing, moving, and layering until you like what you see.

This is where I struggle.
I do not love the fonts.
But I am a crazy person with extreme opinions in the font department.
Don't be me.  It is lame.
Add a font to your project.  Don't roll your eyes as you pick the least evil and ugly of them all.
Just go with it.

Then save it to your computer.
Print away.
If you send it out to be printed (Costco, Shutterfly, etc.) always be sure to check the box that says AUTOCORRECT OFF.  From my experience, the labs have their machines calibrated to print photos.  When they print graphics the colors always seem to come out darker and muddy.  If you make sure that they aren't autocorrected, they will return to you more like they look on your monitor.  Costco is THE WORST at this.  But their prices are super cheap.  So it is a rich person problem to get too mad about it.

Beware.  You are about to stay up late thinking about new things you can make.

So get to work.
Who knows what will happen when April 19th rolls around and Picnik is gone (?????)

I might just have to put on my big girl underpairs and overcome my Photoshop phobia.

Elements used in the above graphic:
Kitschy Digitals Butterflies
Chevron Papers
Graph paper
Making tape

Elements used in Happy Sunday posts:
Polka dot paper
Label



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How I almost got murdered on Valentine's Day.

A.  This RAD BANNER has nothing to do with the following story.  I just happen to love it.  But then again a YAY is in order when I think about the fact that I in fact did not indeed get murdered.
B.  Y is my favorite letter in the alphabet.  What is yours?
C.  Again, I just really love this banner.  A lot a lot a lot.
D.  I gave up sugar.  Again.  This time for Lent.  Yesterday I wanted to go have one crazy giant Cadbury egg fueled last hurrah.  But the swagger wagon was at the dealer because the clicker thing that opens the sliding doors was broken.  Sigh.  More of the rich people problems.
E.  On with the murder story.

So, I am not a huge Valentine's Day girl.  I don't hate it, per se.  I just don't looooooove it, you know.  I don't like roses.  Boxes of weird nut and nougat filled chocolate are super creepy to me (unless it is a box of milk chocolate Bordeaux from See's, because that is something I could support).  Going out to eat in the midst of big crowds?  No.  Plus there is that whole childcare thing.
(The kind of flowers I most love to get.)

Of all the holidays, Valentine's Day is one of them.

But, I didn't want to ignore the deal all together.  So Jason's parents kindly agreed to watch the girls for a few hours and we planned Shane's nap to give us just enough time to eat a quiet meal. One that didn't involve any family members CRYING because they suddenly hate food, or cheese, or butter, or chicken nuggets, or normal things that were TOTALLY FINE the day before.  Drama, I tell you, drama.

On the way back from dropping them off, he picked up our meals from a place that we have been going to forever and ever.  A place that we love.  A place that apparently, recently totally stripped down their menu, and ditched all of OUR MOST FAVORITE things.  Not just removed them from the menu, but you could still order them, and the kitchen will oblige your old school request, sort of ditching.  NO.  Never again to be seen.  Gone.  Forever and ever.  Our favorite dessert in all the world?  Buh bye.  The nerve.
But we tried to be flexible, perhaps sulked a bit, thought about changing restaurants, but tarried on.  With different, less favorite items.

We ate.
Blah blah blah.
Shane woke up.
Picked up the girls.
They went to bed.
I started feeling crummy.
Shane went to bed.
I fell asleep.
Somehow Shane slept through his normal 1am party time.  YAY!  (Tie in with the banner... eh?  I'm not totally random.)
Then at 3:12 I woke up.
The kind of wake up you never, ever, ever, want.
The dizzy, angry stomach, kind of wake up.
Ya.  You know the kind.

I will spare you the details, but for the record, I have an incredibly high tolerance for throwing up.  I have survived hyperemesis gravidarum three times, and lived to tell about it.  Sort of.

This was a whole different level.  Ten thousand different levels, in fact.

I am positive that I saw the Grim Reaper himself, lounging in the bathtub, patiently biding his time, playing Sudoku, while I lay SOBBING on the bathroom floor.
It was that bad.  If we didn't have a houseful of kids, I would have made Jason take me to the ER.  But then again, going to the ER meant I would have had to move from the bathroom floor.  Which was a wholly, totally,  impossible task, given the whole Grim Reaper-ness and such.

The restaurant, which shall not be named, tried to straight up MURDER me.  On Valentine's day.
It is now dead to me.  Forever and ever and ever.  First they took away caramel apple cream cheese pie, which in itself is almost unforgivable.  But then they tried to make my husband a widower.  Not cool, not cool at all.

The plus side to this saga?  I got my nineteen hours of rest.  Not exactly the way that I would have hoped.  But Lucy asked God, and He answered.
(Of course self portrait day for the February photo challenge had to happen on this day.  Of course.)

Nineteen hours snuggled under Halley's rainbow unicorn down comforter.
Yay?????
With this little face to keep me company.
Yay.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Scenes from a Saturday.









Our favorite breakfast spot.
Our favorite way to spend the day.
Shane's favorite hat.
My current favorite verse.
Love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Lucy.

In a season where I feel like I am failing miserably at so many things, a season that can best be described by the phrase treading water, this silly girl, my Lucy is praying for me.
The other night she was pleading with God to "give Mommy nineteen hours of sleep tonight."

So although nineteen hours probably will never happen (but given the opportunity, you better believe that I could probably come close), my sweet daughter knows that she has a God that listens and answers prayers.

Lucy knows that He is the God of infinitely more than we could ever dare to ask or hope.

I am one blessed mom to have this girl praying for me.
Who knows?  Maybe I will have my own Rip Van Winkle kind of night (and day...)

This girl who is obsessed with making dealzzzz on my ridiculously awesome retro iPhone handset, wearing one of her dad's Warby Parker home try-on glasses.  I am obsessed with her adorable Snugars headband.  Like obsessed to the point of giving her THE LOOK when she wears it to school.  THE LOOK that means you better come home with that on your head or WE WILL HAVE WORDS look.  You know that look don't you?  I thought so.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nutella stuffed peanut butter cookies.

I quit sugar for 33 days.
Then I fell of the wagon with a vengeance.
I went on a big old bender.
Specifically, a Nutella fueled bender.

It started with Nutella stuffed snickerdoodles.  Those were a super gross fail.

Then it ended with these.
These evil, beautiful, delicious, taunting, makes me want to cuss, they are so dang good, Nutella stuffed peanut butter temptresses.

No rocket surgery here.
I just dug my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe out of the recipe box, and introduced it to my vicey-est vice, Nutella.  A lot a lot a lot of Nutella.

Enjoy.
 Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Nutella for stuffing
White sugar for rolling

Cream together butter and peanut butter.  Add both sugars and beat together until fluffy.  Add in egg, milk, vanilla and mix until smooth.  Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, then add slowly to wet ingredients.  Mix until combined.
Place in fridge for thirty minutes.

When dough is chilled, using a cookie scoop, roll each ball of dough in white sugar before placing on a cookie sheet.  Don't have a cookie scoop?  Stop what you are doing right now and order one.  After living my whole life without one, I am pretty sure that I physically cannot make cookies without one.  If you like cookies to look all janky, and for your life to be way harder, don't get one.  But if you like pretty, uniform cookies, faster and with less mess, treat yo'self.

Speaking of treats, I recently treated myself to a silicone baking mat after wondering what the big deal with them was.  I mean how great could they really be?
I GET IT.  I get the big deal.  The cookies bake evenly, and slide off easier.  Everything about it is awesome. Except for the fact that I only have one.  Now I have to wait for it to cool between batches.
Sigh... pesky rich people problems.   It might be time to treat myself to a few more.

Back to the cookies...
Press your thumb into each cookie making space for the Nutella.
Lots of Nutella.
A big old spoonful of Nutella.
If you think that you have too much Nutella, you don't.  
Remember these are Nutella STUFFED cookies.  Not Nutella sparse cookies.
You need it.  You will like it.
Treat yo'self.

This is what the happy little Nutella mountains should look like.
Space the cookies out pretty far as well.
You will be using a heck of a lot of dough, and it tends to spread out quite a bit.

Next, take an additional sugar rolled, cookie scooped ball of dough, flatten it out slightly between your hands, then press it on top of the Nutella mountain.  Smash down the lot of them.

Bake at 350ยบ for 11-14 minutes.  (My oven runs an exact 13 minutes.)
They won't look totally done.  Take them out anyway.  Trust me on this one.  You want them to be soft and chewy.  Let them chill out on the cookie sheet for five minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

Then eat.  And eat.  Repeat.  Then get them the heck out of your house, because they are evil and addictive.  Plus, cookies shared, are the best kind of cookies.

Makes 18 big, beautiful, magical, willpower destroying, cookies.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The gift of frozen time.

Dichotomy is one one my favorite words.  Especially as defined here:

division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.


Perhaps the nerdy English lover in me, or perhaps how it seemingly, perfectly, describes my life.

I am torn between wanting to get through this emotional and tiring season of parenting, and grappling with the desire to soak in every single moment, without squandering even a second.

Time is a thief.  I want it to only steal away the memories of the tough times.  Lovingly leaving me the sweet and beautiful moments.  If only I could control it.

The silliness, the smallness, the friendship, the singing, the love, the beauty that is our little family...
That is what I am holding on to.  Through the training, the sleepless nights, the tears.  Because all of it, the happy and the sad, it is all, incredibly, wholly, absolutely, worth it.

Drew gave us the ability to freeze time.  She captured so perfectly what I want to hold in my heart, today and for all the days to come.  When time tries to thieve these moments, dim these memories, we will press play and be back in our little campground by the stream.  Where everything stands still.  Everything but who we are as a family.

Drew, thank you for this gift.  There are no words or actions that could adequately convey how thankful we are to have you in our lives.  Thank you for being a part of our beautiful story.