Monday, December 17, 2012

I am moving to a new site!

I just wanted to stop by and say that in January, I will be moving my blog to a new address. I have been busy working on new ideas and trying to find my "authentic blogging voice," which I hope to debut in the new year. I will announce it here. Until then, have fabulous holidays and a very blessed New Year to you and your loved ones.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

This week's recipes

I may have mentioned my love of Pinterest before, but I must continue to wax poetic about how wonderful it is. I use it to plan our weekly meals. Here is the most recent round of recipes from Pinterest that I have made and we have loved.

Good both warm and cold, very pretty. This would make a great picnic or barbeque potluck dish. I was thinking that shrimp would be a good addition too, but this version was vegetarian.

These were delicious! We made these sliders and both pushed ourselves with 3 for dinner. I took Jacquelyn's advice and made double the batch of mayo. So glad I did, because I did use it on everything for the rest of the week,

These were no joke. I even withheld the pepper cause I am kind of a puss when it comes to heat in food and they were still a little on the hot side for me, but were so good that I insisted on eating some! The Hubs, who usually is wary of white sauce AND enchiladas, LOVED these. 

This was yummy. I did make a few changes, though I don't think it would be necessary. I had a Harvest Grains blends from Trader Joe's on hand and I used beef broth instead of chicken. I also substituted pepitas for the pine nuts, as I am not a fan of them. This turned out AWESOME! I ate it for lunch, used it as a side dish, and even went back and made a second batch just to have in the fridge for when I was hungry during the day.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ikea Experience

I will confess. I am an Ikea shopper. The Hubs and I liked to pretend that we weren't, but then we counted the pieces in the house with Ikea provenance and the number was kind of embarrassing. Let's face it, they offer aesthetically pleasing pieces for budget friendly prices. And when you need as many bookcases as this family needs, budget friendly is important.

It was obvious that our love of books had outgrown our current number of shelves, so I made a plan and headed to Ikea. By myself. I don't normally take the Hubs because, as he readily admits, Ikea is too much for him. It is easier if I go alone.

My first stop is always the stuffy aisle.

We have a love for the Ikea stuffies. Their faces are just too sweet and I can't get out of there without bringing one home.

Meet Bully. He was my shopping companion for the rest of the trip, my yellow bag First Mate.

Next, I head to the textiles. I am such a sucker for this area and Ikea knocked it out of the park. Seriously, look at these pillows!

It was almost too much temptation for me to resist taking one of each home with me and honestly, I am still haunted by the map pillow.

After textiles, it is an easy walk to the art section, another big weakness of mine. I really loved the bird print and at $10, it almost came home to replace an earlier Ikea owl picture, but I was good.

Then this set of Picasso prints caught my eye. I am not a Picasso fan, per se, but his animals are amazing to me. I especially love the flamingo, horse, and dog. I may go back to Ikea and see if they still have this one.

Finally, I meander to the warehouse, where on this trip, I loaded three bookcases onto my cart. By myself.

Yes, I am going to say it again: BY MYSELF. So when I was in line and the little twerp cashier asked me if I needed help out to my car and I replied, "no, thanks, I got it." and his response was an incredulous, "You sure?" I wanted to ask him, "How do you think the boxes arrived on my trolley? Magic? They jumped?"

And, you know what?

Like I said, I got this.
(And it only cost me one stubbed baby toe.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

The lucky number 3

I have almost used all of the June SC kit. The cohesive collection plus my new scrap space, (photos soon!), have made me feel very creative. 

I used an original wood printer's block for the ampersand and while it isn't as clear as I normally would like, it works for me on this layout.

The first round of hand tying baker's twine. This was more of a pain in the butt than I imagined.

There is that hand tying of twine again! One would think I would learn my lesson. Ha!

This is based on a sketch and color challenge provided by the lovely Kathi

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Studio Calico kits

Studio Calico's kits seem to have been the creative kick in the pants I needed. I must admit that July's Main, Elmwood Park, and the add-ons, Twisty Slide and Monkey Bars, are total favorites for me. I love the colors, the pops of bold.

For this first layout, I used a combination of pieces from all three kits. The only thing added that was not in the kits is the map tape and the tiny letter stickers are from last month's kit.

This is a way paired down layout for me, the lover of embellishment vomit. I immediately fell in love with the Basic Grey letter paper from the main kit and these two pictures were just begging for me to scrap them.

I added ink stitching to mimic the printed red stitches around the letters and as tempted as I was, I resisted the urge to add an Eiffel Tower or poodle anywhere on the page.

Next is a layout using pieces from last month's kits. I still have a lot of product left and tons more inspiration to come. I am still a little surprised at how much I am liking the muted tones.

And, yes, you do spy more stamping on there! Not as much as the record holding 11 stamp layout from earlier, but still using them. In fact, I have been busy organizing my clear and flat stamps into binders for easier usage, so hopefully the stamping will continue.

Last is a layout that started with the best of intentions and quickly went downhill. The background paper is from one of last month's kits and they advertised the reverse side, but I loved the little cartoonish caricatures. The clouds with skulls and crossbones and zigzagged arrows reminded me of the Philadelphia summer weather and I knew I had to scrap our trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum.

This is when it went downhill. As I laid out the photos, I managed to knock over my beer, spilling it all over the layout. Which I guess is fitting texture for a layout sort of featuring the crazy weather. :)

After much hemming and hawing, I finally put it together, adding some Smash journal tape, and stamping. It isn't my favorite layout ever, but secretly have to admit, the paper still makes me smile when I look at it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

THE Bag.

You know, as in THE camera bag, the one that needs to hold all the things associated with your camera  that you might need and yet not be the size of a lightweight SUV? I searched for this elusive bag for three years. I had a long list of musts.

1) MUST be able to hold camera with a lens attached and my two other lenses.

2) MUST be able to hold all the "extras" such as tripods, cleaning cloths, extra lens caps, hood, filters.

3) MUST be able to hold the other cameras such as my Instax, P&S, the Diana, the Fisheye, or a combination thereof.

4) MUST be able to fit in the joke of a foot space under an airplane seat.

5) MUST be user-friendly. I am impatient with things that are meant to work a specific way and don't do so easily.

6) MUST be durable.

7) MUST, (and this was probably one of the most important requirements), be cute and not look like a camera bag. No black nylon for me.

I wanted pockets but not so many that I would forget where I put what and be scrambling to find something. I wanted it to be a durable fabric for water protection and for extended use. I, by all means, did NOT WANT BLACK.

There were cute purse-like styles that I thought about. I pondered following a DIY to make my own. Then, I found Cheeky Lime. I can't remember whose blog I saw the Cheeky Lime Classic on first, but I was so excited that I called the Hubs at work to tell him I had finally found THE ONE.

And they were sold out of the Lime Green. :(

So, I emailed them and they said they would be getting more in stock, plus they were getting pink and turquoise too. Wahoo! Now I would have even more choices!

After all of this, I chose:

It was a tough choice but the green just screamed my name. Isn't this the cutest camera bag ever?

And, magically, it fits everything! I am amazed at how much stuff I can put into this little bag.

The inside pockets have velcro on the edges so you can reposition them to fit your needs. Right now there is the Instax, the P&S with the underwater sleeve, the hood for my long lens, the Gorilla-pod, cleaning cloths, filters, an extra lens cap band, the long lens, the portrait lens, and the camera with the normal lens and strap attached. Oh, and the expandable tripod!

There is even room in the top for more little bits and there are four external pockets that you can use to stuff more little bits in if needed. 

I carried this bag as a carry on/purse when we visited Florida in April and I have to tell you, it met all of my expectations. I had money, id, credit cards,phone, etc in it. I think I even managed to put my Kindle in the top and still zip it. It fit perfectly under the seat in front of me and the shoulder strap easily made it a cross body bag when needed. When it rained on us in Key West, I didn't worry about my equipment getting wet either.

I am a sucker for little details. This bag came with a detachable wallet for the inside and a sweet little camera keychain that dangles on the outside. Another thing is the company was great to deal with. My bag arrived in a matter of days.

This bag was worth the wait. It has met all of my expectations and I look forward to many more travels with it as my sidekick.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day Fashion

Happy Fourth of July, America!!!

I have to admit that I LOVE red, white, and blue color combos, especially in clothes. I have always been drawn to this look and it is normal for me to have a flag print something in my closet, though at this moment, I don't. Hmm....may have to rectify that.

Today I put together a few outfits that would be good to celebrate 4th of July activities. Mind you, these are just a few of the possibilities that exist in my closets. But, 1) the Hubs came home from his Independence Day massage and 2) I figured that 7 outfit change self portraits was all the crazy the neighbors could handle before they started to worry.

*Sorry for the less than stellar photos. As you may know, I live in the darkest apartment in the world and need to try some other options for timer shots with better lighting.*

BBQ or an evening at the county fair.
(F21 striped lightweight sweater, thrifted Banana Republic boyfriends, thrifted polka dot wedges, blue stone earrings.)

Dressy casual dinner with friends. Seriously, what is more 4th of July than a red sequined top?
(F21 tank, thrifted Ann Taylor linen pants, Sanuk flip flops, rhinestone earrings and bracelet.)

Watching the fireworks at the local high school or hitting the Boardwalk.
(Thrifted American Apparel top, thrifted BR boyfriends, Salt Water sandals, silver loop earrings.)

Shopping and a movie.
(Thrifted Roper denim top, thrifted Levi's jeans, thrifted polka dot wedges, Jessica Simpson red stone heart necklace.)

Beer and baseball or hanging on the beach.
(Thrifted F21 top, F21 shorts, Sanuk flip flops, Superman ball cap, rhinestone hoop earrings.)

Special event.
(Thrifted Loft linen dress, thrifted belt, thrifted Two Lips heels, white chandelier earrings.)

Boat cruise party. Or what I will wear today if the Hubs and I go out this evening.
(Thrifted tee, F21 skirt, thrifted leather belt, Just Fabulous/Iron Fist heels, Betsey Johnson earrings and necklace.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

A creative rush

First, thank you to all who read my last post and offered their understanding. And thank you to everyone who decided to come back for another day.

Second, I just have to say that I am sitting here at 1:30 in the afternoon in jeans, a long sleeved shirt, and a sweater. It IS June, isn't it?

I am beginning to feel like I am getting the desire to create layouts again. I think for many reasons I have been avoiding making them, reasons for another day, another post. Yet, as I am working through those reasons and coming to terms with them, the juices are flowing again. It started as a trickle and now it is a nice little stream.

I finally joined the "IN" crowd and subscribed to Studio Calico. As you may or may not know, I have a huge issue with commitment, especially when it comes to money. But I was tired of missing out on the exclusives, (damn you, cute stamps, damn you!). I received the kit 10 days ago as of today and I have made three layouts with it already. For me right now, that is huge. I made two yesterday alone. I purchased the Santa Monica add on and the More Patterned Paper along with the So Cal kit and have to sheepishly admit, I waited too long. I should have joined a long time ago.

This layout is a mix of the two kits, with everything except the gold pearl bling and the star burst stamp, which is still SC, coming from them.

*Sorry for the creepy No-Face children. Out of respect for them and their parents, I have blurred them for privacy's sake, but the layout was too cute to not share. Let me assure you that they are two of the most beautiful kids ever. And I am not in the least bit partial.*

This is actually the first layout I made with the kits, (a mix of both), and I am sure you will notice some repeat product.  I could paper the walls of a bedroom with that striped paper I love it that much. The honeycomb is hand cut from a piece of My Mind's Eye, which the remainder of shows up in another layout. There was a chipboard hexagon sticker strip that I cut up to add in places and then just piled on a bunch more.

The polka dot and word paper tapes and the Thickers were not part of the kits, but from my stash. They seemed the perfect touches.

This last layout is a kit as well, but it is from Basic Grey, their monthly kit that you can find more information on here. (FYI-- If you have a local scrapbook store, ask them about these as in store usually runs a little less.) I love these kits too 1) for their amazing value: price to product ratio plus layout idea is great, 2) they always spark creativity for me, and 3) there is always A LOT left over.

The photo is my cousin and I loved the playful nature of it. Her skirt, her cute little belly button peeking out, and that grin of hers. And it may seem silly, but is that not one of the most perfectly drawn chalk balloons ever? Her mom is an artist by nature and I promise, had I drawn that balloon, it would have unintentionally looked like Mickey Mouse.

I doodled the patterned paper clouds, cut them out and then hand stitched them. Note to self: Stitching them BEFORE adhering them to the page would make the task exponentially easier. You can see my wonky stitches up close in the second shot and the third picture is my inept doodling technique. I felt the layout needing something subtle and the white pen doodling would have pleased me to no end. IF I could doodle OR if I had sent this to the aforementioned artistic relative to have her draw on some swirls. Instead, I have to say the end result is 100% authentically Lora.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

First comes love, then comes marriage,

And we all know how that ends.

"comes the baby in the baby carriage."

I get that the psyche of our society is so ingrained with this ideal that we just assume people getting married want to have children. I also totally understand that the same society has made asking the couple, especially the woman, when those little bundles of perceived joy will start arriving an acceptable question.

But, society has not given the questioner the appropriate responses to "I don't know." Or, "We aren't ready for kids yet." Or even, "We haven't decided if we want children."

Because here is the thing: YOU may think my significant other and I would make great parents. YOU may think that I am getting old and past the age for having children. YOU may also think that one of the foundational reasons to get married is to have and raise the next generation. YOU may think that the joy of having a child or children of one's own is an experience that cannot be surpassed by any other in this life. YOU may even simply want to see what our mixed ethnicity baby would look like.

Truthfully, I am not sure I would make a great parent. I live in this being that I am and I know my strengths and weaknesses, I know how impatient and selfish I can be, and the most unarguable reason, I am not sure I WANT children of my own. Your vote of confidence is appreciated, but I know the real me and I have to raise that child. You get to go home and shut the door, forget that I have a kid who constantly needs things, wants things, etc. The kidlet is my responsibility and that is the biggest, most encompassing responsibility ever. EVER.

Telling me I am getting too old or that I need to decide soon because that window of opportunity is closing fast is a reasoning thats actually 100% counterproductive. First, I don't ascribe to getting worse with age and second, I am in my early 30's, for crying out loud! I don't need to hear all the studies of why it isn't safe to have kids as you get older, blah, blah, blah. I KNOW. I have read them myself or had them recited to me by a well meaning heart, but running out of time is not a reason to have a child.

My reason to marry my Hubs had very little to do with procreation. I love that man, heart and soul. In all the billions of people on this planet, somehow, there is another being that is as quirky and odd as I am, another one who gets my humor and knows that one can never have too many books.

Here is a secret about me: I honestly never believed I would get married.

Not because I wasn't lovable or any of that. Simply refer to my reasoning about making a great parent. I wasn't sure I would make a great or even a good spouse and I also was very hesitant to make the concessions to even try. Every day I count my blessings that the Universe had other plans for me.

I have also already raised 3 kids, not to mention the countless teenagers I worked with at the boarding school for at-risk youth. My brother and sister are 9 and 10 years younger than me and 15 months to the day apart. I was there with my mom through nearly all the stages of their growing up. I love them and am proud of them both in a way that goes beyond being the big sister. I am invested in them differently. I did the diapers and the crying and the feedings, the terrible twos, the potty training, the first days of school. Then my family had two wonderful girls live with up for many years, one was in her early teens and her sister was a baby. I was there for that too. I have laughed and cried and loved in many ways like a mother and I know how powerful those bonds are. If I feel this way for these kids now, I can only imagine the depth of feeling I would have for my own. That is not something I take lightly.

There are a million reasons to have children. And there are just as many reasons to not. I am also not saying that you shouldn't ask for fear of offending someone. People need to stop being so sensitive. All I am saying is be prepared for the person to say, "I don't know." or "We haven't decided about kids."or even, "We don't want children."

I know this was a long ranting post and if you did bother to read through, thank you. I am not really expecting anything from anyone by writing this. I have just felt recently that I avoid my blog because I don't have something creative to share and this blog being solely about creative projects isn't all I want this blog to be about. This is where I am going to be me, honest and open, good or bad. I will still share projects and other bits of life, but there are going to be times when I say what is on my mind. I hope that my readers will stick around for the journey and even hope that they will share their thoughts and feelings if inspired to.


Monday, May 21, 2012

No excuses

I am not going to provide any excuses or reasons why I haven't posted in a while. If you are still here, thank you. Now, straight to the creativity!

By golly, Lora, is that a layout?!?! Why yes, yes it is. I know this is Amy Tan's last year release and I have Sketchbook sitting on my desk, but I still just love this line and how easily it comes together. Some of the embellies are from the line while others are from either the class I took with Amy or from Sassafras Lass. There is also some Maya Road rub ons, a Hambly overlay tag and some random stuff I had and yes, I do believe that is the last of the pink polka dot crepe paper so you won't have to see it again. (Unless of course I find more!!!)

I hand stitched the "JOY" to the tag and sewed the paper laves to the bottom. Oh! The flower there is an Epiphany Crafts bottom with a Dear Lizzy button on top and the chevron pieces near the title are Studio Calico Fabrip leftovers.

Then there was this little guy. It is a Midnight Musing creation. A mini canvas painted, layered with dictionary paper strips, stamped with a repeating heart image in Staz-on, then a Balzer Designs stencil over that with yellow paint. The saying and the bird were stamped or drawn on sticky back canvas and cut out. Both were colored with Gelatos first. I used the Sakura Glaze pen to write the quote and draw the little heart.

The twig is from the backyard and painted green then layered with a bit of distress stain. And this guy, over here on the corner?

That is the spark of inspiration from the Midnight Musing. I used push and mold, pressed a metal key to create the shape, and melted the UTEE. I added bright green eyeshadow that I had and there it is! While the color is very similar to Perfect Pearls, the eyeshadow didn't have the pearlescent look to it so the UTTE piece is less shimmery, but I love it. The ribbon is dyed with glimmer mist.

This poor layout. I had to do it twice. The first round was a hot mess and went in the trash after I pulled the photo and some embellies off. The second round was much better. It is still way different from my original conception, but I am at least happy with it. This is a Pagemaps sketch, I believe, and the inspiration is from a friends' blog.

The pink woodgrain is made by me with a stamp and embossing powder, the light pink and brown polka dots are Pink Paislee. Journaling spot is Jillibean Soup, the flower with tulle and the wood buttons are Prima, the white resin pieces are Melissa Frances, the little flowers and pearl button along the bottom are Webster's, and the milk cap is of course Jenni Bowlin.

AC Thickers and chip butterfly, K & Co fabric flowers along the top, Recollections pink resin roses, and the wood grain strip above Miss Lily's bow is from Heidi Grace Designs. We are going to say that everything else is stash.