LOVE banner

I saw this sweet banner at Simple as That and knew I had to make something like it for my Valentine’s Mantel. Of course my turquoise obsession is permeating even this most “red” of holidays, but I figure, I can throw red somewhere else in the house. For now, this is what I came up with, based on Rebecca’s idea:

I went with scrapbook paper in an argyle pattern, some of the lines have glitter, which catches the light very nicely.

I layered turquoise hearts matted with white glitter cardstock. The hearts are topped with scalloped circles from the same white glitter cardstock and letter stickers spelling LOVE. The banner is “hung” from my fleur-de-lis candlesticks.

This banner can obviously be made in endless color/pattern/theme combinations, so I have a feeling there are more pretty banners in my future. Thanks to Rebecca for this great idea!

Office detail

Back when I won the contest at Leen the Graphics Queen‘s, I spent so much time figuring out what to get with my prize credit.

One of the items I chose was this set of decals – I used three of them on the wall to the right of my desk:

I placed them on cardstock and then slipped them into frames I had.

I love where they are, and the pop of graphic art they add to my office area.

There are two more images in the set, and I have plans for those, as well as the other items I got from my contest win. I’ll keep you updated!

Garden planning time!

A few years ago I decided to start growing veggies in my backyard. My dear husband raised an eyebrow (I had abandoned projects a few times) but nonetheless supported my new endeavor, going to the garden store, helping me till the soil, planting rows of seedlings with me, etc.

Here is one of the rows of corn we planted last year:

Some of our strawberries and peas:

For my 40th birthday, I asked people (those who asked what I wanted) for garden seeds. I got so many that I need to make the best use of the space I have and probably will need to grow some in containers.

We know by now where our tomatoes grow best, that the area by the deck is the Row of Death because nothing grows there — meaning we’ll probably do a row of containers there — and that our strawberries need to be high up off the ground or else the snails will get to them before we do. But it is always good to read up as much as you can, especially if you’re a novice like me. I like the idea of grouping items either because they’re all the same type, i.e. greens like lettuces, chard, spinach, or by theme.

I found some free garden plans at and thought I’d share them with you in case you haven’t seen them already. Some of my favorite layouts are:

The Salad Greens Garden

The Heritage Vegetable Garden

Inspired by Italy Garden

There are many more garden plans with detailed layouts as to the specific plants and how many, what zones each plant is appropriate for, etc. Some of these may not fit exactly with the seeds I have or the size of the area where they’ll be planted, but they are great guidelines and have already given me some ideas for this year’s garden.

Are you planting anything this year?


The Plague hits us

This weekend, I had planned on making a few Valentine’s Day crafts with my monkeys but instead, we got hit by the flu.  My little one brought it home — from school, I am guessing — and spent Thursday night throwing up.  Friday evening around 7pm, I said, “hmmm, not feeling too well here,” and suddenly, my husband and I were racing for the bathroom.  Thank goodness we have two.  Because we started our own Olympic sport — Synchronized Puking.

For the next 8 hours we’d each run to a bathroom (me in the hallway, he in the master bedroom) and I’d hear the doors close, the toilet lids go up, and we’d start sounded like whales being harpooned during a mating call or something.

On Saturday, my in-laws took our oldest in an effort to spare him, but apparently he was already incubating the virus so they brought him home, and spent the next 8 hours puking.

Sunday morning (which is when I am writing this) I think (hope, pray) we are over the puking, but my ribs hurt like someone took a bat to them.  Boys are watching TV on the sofa, my husband is sleeping in our room, and I am doing dishes and laundry.  Because all those cups with Pedialyte and Ginger Ale piled up, and because while the grown-ups know to contain their barf in the toilet, the little ones just let loose where they may.  Although my oldest has been so good, he reached for his bowl every time, but still, we had blankets and towels all over the sofa for them to sleep on, so we have no clean towels at this point.

I hope the plague doesn’t hit your house, and if it does, may you get over it soon.  It is horrible.  I wish you (and us) a much better week!

The Basket o’projects, update 1

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a small step I took to use up my craft supplies – making a non-threatening basket with a few items at a time so going through the garage-ful of craft goodies didn’t overwhelm me.

I am happy to say I have recently used a couple of items – yay me!!!

The scalloped labels were used in my pantry, and then I took the adhesive magnets you see on the bottom right and made a few valentines from the boys.

I printed out some business card-sized pics and adhered them to the magnets, took pinked-edge cardstock from my stash and added a little cream colored cardstock for the boys to sign.

The little brown box that was holding the magnets and labels got transformed with, you guessed it, the rest of my peacock paper. Man, I love that thing.

I chose the glossy-finish variety of Mod Podge and I just love the shimmer!

Thank goodness I am out of the peacock paper and next time I go to Paper Source I’m going to get something else, otherwise I’ll end up wallpapering my house with it.

That’s the end of my blog week but my husband and I are working on a huge project, so it is going to be a busy weekend! Hope yours is a great one!

Organizing someone else’s pantry

The conversation went like this:

and before I knew it, I’d agreed to help a friend with her pantry.

Dear Friend’s house does not have a lot of storage, so her (and Mr. DF’s) laundry room has become THE storage room for non-perishables, linens, pet supplies, home improvement items, etc.

I forgot to take a photo at the very beginning, but at this point we had just cleared out the second shelf from the top.

I asked DF what would work best for her – we put the items that are least used on the very top shelf, including some appliances and seasonal items. My main goal was to make the space as functional as possible for her and her husband. We sorted and grouped items together:

Camping items together on top of paper towels.

Different paper towels (recyclable) and cleaning cloths.

All the large cans of paint were moved to the back, since they are only kept in case a touch-up is needed. They were formerly in front of the shelves, taking up precious real estate. The white tower is next to the washer and dryer, so the laundry supplies went on top and the less-used light bulbs went below.

By the end of the afternoon, we had cleared out a lot of items that were no longer needed, shelved items according to frequency of use, and made enough room for items to be grouped in appropriate clusters, i.e. soups and broths, beans, various rice varieties, coffee supplies, pet supplies, etc. Here is the storage room by the end of my visit:

Then we moved on to the kitchen cupboards – the result of going through every corner is finding many items you’d forgotten you had, and also a few past their expiration date.

The baking goods cabinet.

We enjoyed some soon-expiring chocolate chips, and then I went home to my men. DF said she was very happy with the results and I think we did a good job going through everything and deciding what the best place was for each item.

So that was my adventure organizing someone else’s space – hope you enjoyed it!

My 2012 word for the day

My word for 2011 – I never posted about it but it was in the back of my head all year – was Bright. I wanted things (and life) to be brighter, lighter, happier. My dear dad passed away in 2010 and that was the darkest year of my life. In 2011 I was ready to come out of the gloom. I had lots of help with that, mostly from my men:

For 2012, my word is Simplify.

I want to organize, get rid of, and streamline our STUFF so we can actually enjoy what we have.

So far, I’ve grabbed craft stuff that was scattered all over the house and made a craft hub for free:

I am starting Project Life for my scrapbooking, in an effort to streamline that process:

My pantry has been re-organized and I am loving it!

I feel great about what I’ve already done but of course, much more is left to go through – I am also making progress in my Craft Basket challenge, will share that later this week.

What is your word for this year?

The Lettered Cottage

Project Life

I’ve been scrapbooking for about 10 years. My first attempts very fussy and uncoordinated, as first attempts often are. I pared down the embellishments, but it was still a struggle to keep up with the thousands of pictures I took of my boys every year.

This is one of my favorite layouts ever, celebrating my oldest’s love of blueberries. However, all the printing, trimming, matting, etc. was taking a lot of time, something I did not have with two little boys running around.

A year ago I decided to go digital, which made my life a lot easier. And freed up a lot of space in my craft drawer 😀

I wanted something even simpler, though – something where I wouldn’t have to worry about the background or the alignment, something that would allow for quick notes and the endless bits of paper that come with the business of life. When I saw Becky Higgins’ Project Life, I decided it was what I’d been looking for.

I ordered the Core Kit in the Turquoise edition, of course 😀

The Core Kit includes 4×6 and 3×4 cards for your layout titles and journaling, stickers with days of the week, months of the year, dates, so you can apply them to the cards or your photos, etc.

The kit components are meant to be used with the coordinating photo pocket pages, which come in a variety of layouts. Due to the popularity of the product (and the timing as well, everyone getting ready to document the past year, or the new one) the photo pocket pages were not available, so I got a multi-pack from We R Memory Keepers, which work with the Project Life-sized cards.

I didn’t get the PL Cardstock Kit because I want the freedom to use whatever paper I choose, if I decide to use a paper background. Also, I have SO MUCH cardstock and solid paper in my stationery box that I can probably get by for a few months. Or years, if I’m honest with myself. Also, the page protectors I bought fit in a regular post-bound scrapbook album, so I didn’t get the Project Life binder because I already had an album for this year.

I am pretty excited to start my 2012 album. I made a baby album for each of my boys when they were born, but other than those, I do an album per year. Sometimes it’s more than one album, like when we went to Disneyland for the first time, so I just label the spine accordingly – 2010, or 2009 Jan – May, etc. – I don’t limit myself or try to fill up pages, I just scrapbook according to the pictures I have. And that was way too many sentences that started with “I”.

Okay, one more. I’ll update you on my Project Life progress in a few weeks, there are 5 pages left in 2011, and the photo machine at Target was broken so I couldn’t get my one-hour photos last week. Arg. Hate to say it, but in five times I have ordered pics from Target, only once has the process gone smoothly. Time to find someone else, I say!

Are you trying Project Life or some other way of documenting your life? I’d love to hear about it!

Oh, FYI – I purchased everything I mention in this post. If I’m ever given/gifted anything (ha), I’ll make sure I tell ya!

The Simple Things

One of my favorite blogs is Simple as That – not only is Rebecca a super talented photographer and crafter, but her posts are usually full of peace and grace, even when moving from a tropical island to Canada in the winter!

Rebecca has this great series called The Simple Things – where you share something, be it a moment, a conversation, an image, anything that was simple in the large scheme of things but something that made you happy. Today I am joining The Simple Things:

Something simple that is making me happy this morning is my empty inbox!!!

First, because I bought it for $1 at the Target dollar bin area. In fact, I got 4, all they had left. I figure for $1 each, it was a super deal, and it is laminated so I can use one in my kitchen. They are not super sturdy, but I wouldn’t be carrying it full or drinks or anything, it is just a sweet little tray in a color I am loving, a cheerful pattern, and it works just fine where it is.

Second, I am thrilled to have emptied it this morning, I went through the mini-hill sitting inside and took care of everything. I tell you, that, and cleaning out my purse as such refreshers!

There you have it, my simple thing for this Sunday – I hope yours is a wonderful one and Yeah Niners!!! You should have heard my house in the last 90 seconds of that game. My oldest started cheering with me, at one point he said “the other team sucks!!! um, what’s their name?” He was just psyched to be cheering with mom he didn’t care who he was cheering against 😀

Pantry re-org 2012

I try to go through my pantry every couple of months,  but who am I kidding, two months becomes three and four and by the time I get to it, the poor shelves have become a mess. To begin the year with a clean slate, I took everything out and grouped things on my dining room table before putting them back.

Again, I didn’t spend a cent on this – I had most of the bins already in the pantry and found a few others throughout the house.  I made the labels and hung them with some denim-stitching thread.  Easy peasy, simple, and it makes me happy to open the pantry doors – btw, they are old cabinets that my husband repurposed so we’d have more food storage.

Here is where I store many prized items from Peru – a powder mix for lucuma ice cream, mazamorra mix packets, and various others. I’ll tell you more about Peruvian food soon.

The soups and broths bin, plus a rogue tub of french fried onions. We love miso soup, it makes for such a comforting meal, or snack, depending on what you put in it.

Potatoes and rice. And lentils, apparently.

A veritable cornucopia (ha) of sauces. Pasta sauces, white sauces, Indian cuisine, etc. We do love our sauces. What I like a lot is that I can cook two pieces of chicken and put spicy sauce on my husband’s plate and not on mine. Spicy hot food and my esophagus do not get along.

The most often used bin in the pantry. My oldest boy eats pasta every single day, and lots of it. I buy pasta at Trader Joe’s, where it’s still 99 cents/lb., cheaper than anywhere else. I also buy plain marinara sauce at TJ’s, and then doctor it up with spices.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. We have a ton of jams and jellies, and pancake and crepe batters. Yum yum.

That’s my pantry as of two days ago – I can find anything I need easily and it’s also easy to see how much I have left of various items. There is another shelf at the bottom where the bulk items go, i.e. flour, coffee, etc. At some point I do plan on making the pantry prettier, but “organized” will have to do for now 😀