Friday, December 28, 2012

In Focus Friday w/ My Mind's Lens: December Edition

As 2012 comes to a close there, is time to squeeze in one last installment of In Focus Friday w/ Kaeley before we wrap it all up and bid adieu to the year.


Not to worry, all of my sweet and talented contributors will be back next month to get 2013 kicked off right.  This month, Kaeley combined her love of baking with her love of photography, and what a treat she has for us.  Are mouth watering pictures even possible?  You be the judge, but my vote is YES!!!
Is it just me or has this holiday season flown by?  I cannot believe how quickly Christmas came and went this year!  It is always interesting to me to see what different families keep as traditions for the holidays.  A couple of ours include putting up Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving and going out with the crowds to take advantage of the "after Christmas" sales.  One of my favorites, though, is baking cookies.  When I was younger, my mom used to make all kinds of different cookies around Christmas time.  As our family grew and we got busier, though, the cookies started to fall off the schedule.

Last year, I was excited to have a kitchen big enough to pick up on the cookie baking (it was our first Christmas to NOT be in an apartment and actually have counter space!).  This last week, I continued the tradition and made up five different kinds of cookies, plus M&M-pretzel bites, peppermint cupcakes, muddie buddies, dipped pretzel rods and my Grandpa's white chocolate Christmas candy.  Not only do I enjoy doing all of the baking and sharing my goodies with friends and families, but all those sweets actually make very good "practice dummies" as well for my camera!

Here are some snapshots of some of my favorites:

I would love it if you stopped by My Mind's Lens and shared some of your own traditions.  Also - feel free to ask for any recipes for the above featured treats!  They were all pretty easy.  I hope everyone has enjoyed time with friends and family this week.  From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

post signature

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Zachary and I celebrating InstaChristmas @ Fellowship Church - Grapevine

From our home to yours, wishing you a

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Third Thursday Scrapbook Stories: December Edition

It is the third Thursday of DECEMBER and time to share a bit of holiday goodness from Katie.  Can't tell you how much I love this fun and festive holiday layout she did, and what a great introduction to her holiday pages!

Hi everyone!

I cannot believe that it is already the last Thursday before Christmas! I have no idea where this month went!

Are you all ready for Christmas yet? I am not! All of my presents were shipped to New York, so when I get in tomorrow evening, I'll have to wrap everything (and look through it to see just what I bought for everyone!)

But, despite all the hustle and bustle of the season, I did manage to fit in some Christmas scrapping.

For this layout, I used a mambitKIT (this one). I don't normally scrap from a kit, but it definitely makes scrapping at this time of year much easier.

I decided to feature some of my favorite shots from this month - the tree at Daley Plaza, the Christkindlemarket, clementines (called "cuties" here in Chicago - I just love that!) and the white Christmas lights near my apartment.

I really like these kind of "wrap up" layouts for a season like this. This page will be used as an opener to start out the Christmas pages in my album. Then, I will add my pages about Daley Plaza/Christkindlemarket, Zoo Lights and our neighborhood's decorations after this.

Do you ever create month-in-review or wrap ups for your scrapbook?

Have a wonderful holiday season!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Hello....lashes!  Why do boys have all the luck?  This makes my heart sing........stay tuned - more Jesse genius to come!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Silence and Support for Sandy Hook


Please visit THIS PAGE to make your donation.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

God's Heart Broke First - A Repost from Nicole @ Three 31

I have struggled since Friday to try to put my feelings into words concerning the horrific tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook School.  This morning I read my friend Nicole's post addressing the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy and knew that I had to share it with my followers.  On many days, Nicole can be counted on for a great laugh combined with just the right amount of snark, but she is also an amazing writer as you are about to see.  If you have a chance, stop by and visit her at Three 31.

God’s Heart Broke First

My heart was not the first to break when I learned of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. I was not the first person to cry or get angry either. I cannot imagine the insurmountable pain that families and friends of victims are facing in these difficult times.

I think God’s heart was the first to break … even before the first shot was fired.

As soon as I opened Facebook on Friday, my screen was flooded with messages of sympathy, condolences, and some casting judgement. I think the majority of the messages unknowingly cause more pain and distress. I think they are making the situation worse by portraying God as a heartless entity who allows the murder of children. I am not professing to have all the answers, but I don’t agree with this portrayal of God at all. I am, at best, a human struggling to live the best life I can in a world full of strife and discontent.

I don’t believe in a God who kills people to fill some roster of angels in heaven. I think really bad things happen when other people make really bad decisions.

I don’t believe in a God who allows (or wills) tragedies to happen. The God that I believe in is heart-broken before we are.

While I am in support of proper registration and background checks of gun owners, outbursts about gun control after tragedies really anger me. I am a gun owner. But are senseless acts of violence a gun control issue or a mental health issue? Or, do we have security issues in need of attention?

I am also an airline traveler. When I go to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, before boarding a plane, I go through a complete security checkpoint. The majority of the time, I am scanned in a big machine looking for hidden items (i.e. weapons) under my clothing. I recently attended a music concert where every person entering had to be scanned by law enforcement officers before passing the entry gate. The same thing happened at the American Airlines Center in Dallas for a women’s conference. I am not offended by the security measures taken at airports and some public facilities, why should schools be any different? Has our society become so complacent that schools are not perceived as dangerous enough? I am not a parent, but I am an educator. I could have been one of the eight teachers killed in Connecticut. Regardless, I support the installation of metal detectors at schools to ensure the safety of students, teachers and visitors.

I don’t understand the convoluted logic behind tragic events like in Newtown, CT or Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or the Sikh Temple, or the shopping mall in Oregon. I don’t know the answer to “why” either. But I know these three things to be capital “Tee” truths:
  1. Murder is not acceptable.
  2. It’s OK to be angry and confused.
  3. Humans need connectedness. We need support and time to grieve.
I don’t profess to have all of the answers and I don’t understand the logic of some people, but I’m processing the tragic events as best I can with the limited experience and knowledge I possess. You are entitled to disagree with my opinion.

Thank you, Nicole for allowing me to share your post - saying what I believe many others are probably feeling as well, but maybe like me, were unable to put into words.

And finally, one of the things I enjoy most about blogging, is the incredible sense of community.  Let's band together and do what we can to help, as well as show our respect for the victims and the families that are mourning those that they have lost.
 On Tuesday, December 18th, there will be a blogger day of silence. We will post the button and that's it. Please try to not post anything else that day if possible.
We are also raising money that will go to an organization in the memory of this tragedy. The organization is called The Newtown Family Youth and Family Services.
Here is the official description of the support service we are donating to:
"Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic
and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families achieve their
highest potential. NYFS provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support
groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.
Please visit THIS PAGE to make your donation.
We can't imagine how they must be feeling, especially this close to the holidays. We would love for you to spread the word on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Let's make a difference and use blogging in a positive way.
Thank you in advance for participating.
The Blog World
P.S. If you would like to, copy-paste and repost any part of this, please do. Share on.

(A special thank you to Neely, Michelle and Meg for putting this together for us)


Friday, December 14, 2012

Just Dandy Jewelry - A Review

TGIF, Ladies! Christmas came a little early this year....go me!  I received this beautiful jewelry set (necklace, bracelet and earrings) to review from Just Dandy Jewelry.

For those of you that know me IRL, you know that I wear A LOT of black.  The sweet ladies at Just Dandy allowed me to pick out what I wanted to review, and of course I went with what I knew would get the most use.  A few things that I noticed right off the bat and that I considered a huge plus:
1) Everything appears to be very well made - high quality assembly (also known as: made with a bunch of love). 
2) Both the bracelet and the necklace came with extenders.  Let's call a spade a spade...I am not a petite girl, and there is nothing more frustrating than finding a piece of jewelry and it being too snug for comfort.  On the flip side of that, if your are petite, the jewelry can also be adjusted to give you a comfortable fit as well.  It is a win, win situation!  Also, the necklace is a longer length, so it can easily be placed over my head - no need to fuss with those tiny clasps.
3)  The beads used in the necklace are very pretty and unique yet surprisingly lightweight.  I have had beaded necklaces in the past that were actually heavy and let's face matter how pretty it is, that is no bueno!
Close up of the necklace

Necklace and bracelet....sorry you can't see the earrings - and who knows what is
going on with my hands????
Just Dandy Jewelry is owned and operated by mother/daughter team Janell and Denice.  I am lucky enough to know both of them and trust me, they are both sweet, wonderful ladies and so easy to work with!
How stinkin' cute are these business cards??????
To see a complete inventory of all of their designs, please visit their Facebook page here.  If you don't see just what you are looking for, just shoot them a message - they will make every effort to create the perfect piece(s) just for you!
And finally, just in time for last minute Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers Just Dandy Jewelry is offering 10% OFF any purchase of $40 or more as well as FREE gotta love that!  For your convenience, they also accept Paypal.
In unrelated news, I am thrilled to be participating in this AWESOME giveaway hosted by Taylor at Goings On In Texas.  She is such a sweetheart and has organized a mini marathon of great giveaways celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas.  Today is my day in the shared spotlight, so head over and enter....what have you got to lose? 

Goings on in Texas

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12.12.12: A Link Up Party

Hey ABD followers, and maybe a few new is 12.12.12!!!!  Since we will only see it once in our lifetime, we have to celebrate  I am thrilled to be linking up with Nicole from Three 31 for:

I will be the first to admit.....generally I struggle with link ups.  That is why they are not a regular occurence for me.  But occasionally, I will come across one that is right up my alley.  When I read about Nicole's, I immediately knew what I would write about.  Here is the prompt that she gave her readers:

The theme of your 12.12.12. post must focus on the number TWELVE (12).

My TWELVE focus is about 5'2", 85 pounds, tallish, dark and incredibly handsome. 

Biased?  Perhaps, but on his birthday a little over TWELVE  years ago Zachary Braedon rocked my world.  Oh, yeah...being that he was born during another momentous calendar occasion - the new MILLENIUM, that makes him all the more special.  I am blessed beyond measure and he is by far my greatest accomplishment.  He has taught me so much and although I frequently have to throw down the "I'm your mother" card, he and I are also great friends and I love that.  We laugh a lot, like a lot of the same music (hello Maroon 5) and he is one of my biggest fans when it comes to my relatively new love of crafty ventures. He is intelligent and a wealth of knowledge, especially when it is something that he is passionate about.  He is a willing participant and enables my photo addiction. He is an animal lover and has such a sweet, loving heart - although it may be a struggle to get him to admit it.

Zachary is my little slice of Heaven right here on Earth - truly the light of my life.  In honor of the 12.12.12 link up here are TWELVE pictures of my most treasured TWELVE year old that I adore...obviously not all during his TWELTH year.

If you have a TWELVE themed post, head over to Three 31 and join in the fun.  Nicole is such a sweetheart and would love to have you.  I can't wait to see her on Saturday and help her celebrate the BIG 2-9!!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Mantel Reveal

So, in this post I was debating on whether or not to put up my Christmas tree this year.  Well, I decided to forego the tree this year.  I am not feeling like the Grinch, just don't want to be battling my possessed precious fur babies to keep the tree upright in my tiny apartment.  Instead of focusing on the tree, I poured all my energy into my mantel.  Honestly, in years past it was never anything to write home about.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I LOVE how it turned out!  I also did it on the cheap, which makes it all the more wonderful.

I borrowed vases and a candle that we purchased for my mom's 60th surprise birthday and filled them with ornaments that I got at Michael's for 70% off .

I grabbed two printables from Pinterest and displayed them in frames that I already had.

The focus of the mantel was this Santa and reindeer that I adore.  I usually have it on my coffee table, but again, I was afraid that the kitties would find it irresistible.

My mom also loaned me two boxes of beautiful gold ornaments that she wasn't using.  I filled a glass container that I already had and scattered the remainder of them on the mantel.

I also made another banner, using the templates provided by the ladies at Shanty 2 Chic.  So easy, but definitely adds a punch to your decorating!

And finally, here is the finished product:

I would love to know what you think, and would love to see your Christmas mantel if you have it posted.  Just leave me a link in the comments and I will check it out.

I am linking up with Layla and Kevin at The Lettered Cottage for their mantel link-party.  These two have mad decorating skills, so me having anything to link up with them is once in a lifetime!
The Lettered Cottage

Also linking up with Danielle @ Silver Pennies for the Home For the Holidays: Mantels Link Party.

On a completely unrelated note, today I bought myself a Christmas / birthday present.  The deal of the day at Michael's was the Scotch ATG for 50% off!  If you are crafty and use TONS of adhesive like me,  you will know what a great find this was.  And not only that, I got an additional 20% off because it was my birthday month.  Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to me....all for the bargain price of $17.31.  Regularly price $39.99 + tax.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

DFW Blogger Ornament Exchange

Even when I co-host an event, I seem to be bringing up the rear when it comes to posting about it....there is something wrong with this picture, isn't there?  Anyway, I co-hosted my second DFW Blogger get together this past Saturday and it was a great time.  The event was held at Winslow's Wine Cafe in Ft. Worth.  Once we got past the origianl snafu of being told to set up in the wrong area, things were fine.  We were a little cramped on space, but the food was delicious and I loved the signature drink for the event, the Poinsetta. (Prepare for an epic photo dump....... all photos marked with an * are courtesty of Sarah from Loveee Sarah)

Cheese, fruit and nut tray *

Seriously delicious hummus (jalapeno,roasted red pepper and cilantro) *

Pitas for the hummus *

Margherita Pizza - delicous *
Cheers! with our Poinsettas *

The decorations were fabulous and I can say that because I didn't have much to do with them except to take a first time stab at spray painting (and I guess I will take credit for that rather odd banner)......all the rest was courtesy of the ever talented Megan. 

Becky did the labels, I fancied them up a bit and Megan did the jars of spiced tea
that we passed out as party favors
I did have high hopes for this banner, but somewhere in the process of grabbing my stuff and running out of the apartment, I ended up one "R" short of a full deck.  Instead of reading "Welcome DFW ended up as "Welcome DFW Blogs".  Thanks to Taylor for thinking fast so it did not go completely to waste!

Got the template for the banner from the talented ladies at Shanty 2 Chic.....don't
be surprised if you see it again
I was so excited to see some familiar faces, but just as thrilled to meet some new bloggers as well.

My dear friend and on of my co-hosts Megan from The House of Martinez

Nicole from Three 31 - when God was handing out funny this lady was at the front
of the line

Taylor from Goings On In Texas

Becky from The Java Mama, (my other co-host), Rizabhel from Little Miss Rizabhel and
Sarah from Loveee Sarah  *
We had a lot of fun during the ornament exchange.  All of the ornmaments were great, but a few were actually "stolen" multiple times before settling in with the winning "thief"  The sweet little owl ornament traveled from Nicole , to Megan and finally ended up with Taylor.

Nicole *

Megan took it once..... *
Taylor went in for the final steal *
Here is a picture of the whole lovely group!
 I believe a fun time was had by all and I hope that we can continue to get together to build blogger friendships IRL as well as meet new fellow bloggers.  I personally am sitting back for awhile and letting someone else do the planning.  I co-hosted the first two and am ready to just show up the next few  Thank you to my lovely co-hosts.....I couldn't have done it without us all working together!
Me, Megan and Becky *

In a final note, a few of us went out for a drink after the event.....yummy drinks were consumed - take a peek:
This "lemonade" is for adults me

Cynthia's Smore martina...looks yummy!

And then something caught our may or may not have been a grown man in a santa jacket and hat, NO PANTSs, red and white striped tights and wait for lights wrapped around him from the waist down.  People, you can't make this stuff up!  And in case you are dying  for proof of said mutuant santa freak...never fear.  Amanda from Princess of the Panhandle had just received a questionable picture from her hubby's guys night out.  In light of that, she felt like she should return the favor. 
Gotta love it!  that's all I've got ladies....until next time!