Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pre-Wrapped Presents

While Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year, the hustle and bustle can get overwhelming when you have a big family.  I enjoy spreading the beauty of the holiday onto my gifts, baking and decor.  One area I have found to save big time and money is in prewrapped present boxes.  I stumbled upon those nice thick gift boxes at Big Lots and Tuesday Morning one year after Christmas and purchased them for pennies on the dollar. They come in every size and shape imaginable and are pretty much indestructible.  I found some beautiful heavy foiled/flocked gift wrap and bought picks and ribbon cheap @ Michael's and Garden Ridge when they mark it 75% off.

Once you've gathered the basics, simply spread out the paper and get busy. Wrap the bottom and tops separately.  I use repositionable scrapbook adhesive to get started in case I'm off center a little and once everything is positioned correctly I follow with hot glue to smooth down the seams.  Make sure the paper is pulled tight before making your folds and adhering for a nice finished look. Once the box and lid are covered, adhere your ribbon to the inside of the lid, bringing it around to the outside to tie a bow (this is where the wired ribbon comes in handy).  Make sure you adhere the ribbon and crease it to fit the inside of the lid exactly.  Adhere a separate piece of ribbon to the outside of the bottom that will line up with the piece you tied to the lid. bring the ends over the sides and secure to the inside of the bottom and stuff with tissue paper to hide paper and ribbon edges.  Place the lid onto the bottom and tuck a pick, gift tag and any other fancy thing underneath the bow. 

I like to go back and secure everything with hot glue just for added wear and tear.  You will be amazed at how beautiful they come out.  Don't get overwhelmed with trying to wrap them all at one sitting.  I wrap one or two a month.  The good news, once you wrap them you can reuse them each year AND no picking up gift wrapping off the floor!  I've also found already made boxes at Costco that even have the ribbon attached so just throw it in the box with some tissue, close the magnetic lid and tie in a bow.  You can't get easier~

Don't stress if you find you have a gift that doesn't fit.  Simply wrap it the old fashioned way, stick a bow on it and make a note to look for that size next year, or better bag it!

                                                 Here's to a Happy and Stress Free Holiday!!  
                                                             Merry Christmas to all~

A Special Shade of Pink

As a Palliative Care nurse, I know all too well the role cancer plays in the lives of so many.  The day my mother announced she had breast cancer was very surreal to my family, as with all oncology patients.  Although I had many wonderful collegues, friends and family to support us, we still fit into Kubbler-Ross' stages of grief perfectly.  I am happy to say that my mother survived but not without physical and emotional scars that EVERY person with cancer has.  I wanted a way to honor her journey with all it's ups and downs and capture the true essence of what it means to be a


To say you are a survivor means more than just "made it through".  It encompasses every emotion, tear, sigh of relief, pain and victory.  Sometimes looking back and reflecting is as much a part of healing process as anything. 

Scrapbooking really is a way to speak without words and to give someone a voice who may not know quite how to articulate the full extent of emotion that won the battle. To show someone, "Look at what you went through" can be a very difficult thing but it can also be the healing you both need.  Creating a survivor scrapbook for my mother has not been easy and is not yet complete.  I am sure when it is, and we add that final "Walk For A Cure" picture of all of us, it will be a tear well shed.

You are a HERO Mom!

get great ideas by visiting 
and searching "breast cancer"
You can view product lines available under the Superstore tab
or visit your local crafting stores~

Thanks for spending time with me today and remember to

Graduation Scrapbooks

A walk down memory lane ~  
Perhaps no other time in our life defines us more than our teenage years in senior high school. We go to our first prom, get our driver's license and class rings, fall in love and graduate.  It's a right of passage that tends to collect with it all sorts of memorabilia.  Most of us have it contained to a box somewhere in a closet to be found by our children or grandchildren one day.  Why not get them into an album where we can reminisce from time to time.  Baskets beside furniture can often house a few albums and spark many conversations with family members on holiday's and with house guests.

Beautifu l~ and only two elements!

It may even fall into the hands of your teenagers.  Pictures speak volumes....{yes, we were your age once!}and perhaps can prompt those crucial conversations you've been meaning to have.  It's easier than you think, really! Nothing fancy, a plain 12 X 12 album in your school colors and attach your tassel and/or varsity letter to the front and spine to embellish.  Use 12 X 12 card stock in your school colors for the background and decorate.

Some things you may think to include:

  • graduation tickets/announcements 
  • dates and places                 
  • love letters
  • prom pictures                                    
  • favorite hangout spots              
  • newspaper clippings
  • diploma                                              
  • top songs/bands/news              
  • team sports pictures
  • senior portrait                                    
  • report cards                            
  • awards
  • class ring ceremony program              
  • college applications                  
  • journaling

                    Remember, it doesn't have to look professional!  The true gift is in remembering!
If you have older children, start one for them.  Many local scrapbook stores sell paper and accessories designed for your child's individual school.  These make GREAT grad gifts too~

Friday, November 4, 2011

Treasured Memories

I want to do more than just raise my children.  I want to instill in them a true sense of belonging, feeling appreciated  and understanding thier heritage.  I guess that's why I love scrapbooking and photography as much as I do.  I want to remember, and I want them to remember. 

This particular project started after my daughter's First Communion when I had her dress cleaned and asked for it to be boxed.  Apparently, the only boxes were for wedding dresses and too big for her little Size 6 dress and gloves.  I kept an eye out & found these beautiful boxes at Marshall's. 

I've since seen them at a few other stores like Home Goods and Tuesday Morning. They came in sizes which made me think of the other items I'd been saving. {baptismal outfits, precious silver gifts, baby book and hand/footprint set}  All of those things she will cherish as an adult and share with  her own children.  On a separate trip I found the coordinating journal.  I began with a note to her and have continued to journal weekly about all my special memories of her.. holding her as a newborn and the way she sucked her two middle fingers instead of her thumb.  As I remember things I sit down and document {in my own handwriting, which I think is meaningful}.  This way, she can not only have the items but the memories to go with them and to share.  I was fortunate enough that both of my grandmothers' and my great-grandmother journaled and I that I have had the chance to sit & read about thier childhood and what thier parents were like. 
What a gift!


I am currently on the search for boxes for the boys.
Wish Me Luck-

Have a wonderful day!

What's for Supper?

Anyone else hear this phrase in thier sleep?  Problem...planning a meal, buying the ingredients, start cooking and oops.....someone ate the last of one of the ingredients.  We tried over time different ways to "let me know when something ran out" but we're talking about teenage boys here.   That's when I happened to stumble upon a magazine with the best idea ever....pantry baskets.  They used them for baking goods, which I did also...and lunch snacks...and bags of chips and......then the light bulb went off.   Meal planning!!!  I picked these up at my favorite Tuesday Morning (We are not short of them in Richmond, so only finding two at each store just meant a few stops but I really liked the open front on these and the handles on top keep them from coming off the shelf and at $5.99 a great deal.  Each pantry will differ though so find the one's that best suits yours.  Attach days of the week~ I used cardstock and clips but you can get creative.

The key is to decide what to make before your trip to the store.  If you use Epicurious for recipies, the have an easy print off shopping list which helps decide what you have and what you need.   I stack dry ingredients and throw the recipe card right in to the basket.  GOLDEN RULE...anything in the baskets is off limits.  Of course perishables will still need to be stocked and checked.  Meats are kept frozen, so not an issue and I've never known a teenager to take the last carrot or head of lettuce.  

I've even thrown in foil for the grill or aluminum pans for casseroles if I know it's going to be a crazy night and clean-up needs to be quick.  It's not fool proof but it sure has helped keep me from making too many trips to the grocery store.   You can always trade nights too if you have a craving on a certain day, just move the basket and switch the tags. 

So, What's for supper Mom?

To Be Sorted

There should be limits to the amount of mail delivered to any one mailbox in a week.  Sometimes it's hard to tell what's junk and important and I've found myself hording mail around the house in an attempts to not repeat throwing an escrow check away...oops~  My husband "the minimalist" cannot stand stacks of paper and for me...out of sight sometimes means out of mind.  Working it into the decor was tough but this beautiful wicker tote sitting next to my favorite chair lets me reach down in the evening and grab a few things to sort while hanging out watching television.  I feel productive, the mail gets sorted easily and the kids and hubby have my presence. 

That works for all of us~ Thanks for stopping by!

Put a Lid on It!

Agree to disagree~ that's what happened when "MY" way of storing plastics {assembled and stacked according to size} did not play well in the sandbox with "HIS" way of storing plastics {total randomness}

....UNTIL.  "HE" had a great idea.  One must give credit where credit is due. It went something like this ~ 

"You know all that basket stuff you got going on around here?

..why don't you put the containers in one, and the tops in the other?" 

 Since my mother always reminds me to be thankful for having a husband that actually helps cook, clean and take care of the kids,  I had to say although not "MY" way, it certainly was a good way.  It was also much less labor intensive when putting them away.  Open the doors, throw them in the baskets and close.  Take it a step further and buy the sets where all the lids match all the containers. Agree to agree.
 Kudos to all you great husbands out there!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Off We Go - Byrd Theatre

 How did I live here several years before knowing about the historical Byrd Theatre?  Located in the heart of Carytown, and a steal at a mere $2 a ticket, it's great way to get out and see all those movies you missed seeing in the big theatre.
Start times are usually between 7 and 9 pm during the week and late afternoon matinees on the weekends.  I have noticed they usually have kid friendly movies at the earlier showing and for the "date night" with hubby, the R movies generally show later. 

Built in the early 1900's, don't expect to see well upholstered seating, renovated bathrooms etc. but the beautiful chandelier and the weekend pre-show of the prized Wulitzer player will leave you feeling nostalgic.  For the mommas~  throw some lidded cups in your arsenal as they do not serve drinks with lids and there are no cupholders.  I don't know about you, but the fear of little people in a dark theatre with open soda sitting beside my purse (ie my life in a bag) scares the begeebies out of me.  I simply throw a few hot/cold lids and cups I use for our "coffee on the go" I get from Costco in my bag. problem solved.  A few wipes for the bottom of your shoes as they will be sticky from all us "first timers" who didn't know better.  
This has become a favorite place for our family of six.

 Afterwards, the street culture, including magician, musicians, friendly dog walkers and Sweet Frog frozen yogurt are a bonus! If you're in the area, stop by and check it out! You'll be glad you did!!

Pencil Pails

Bump up your kids classroom gifts a notch. My solution...pencils!  It's something they need anyway, what kid doesn't like a cool holiday pencil, and a cool pail or mug for the teacher to reuse?

  You can find holiday pencils at your local craft store after the holiday for $.25-$1, ribbon for about the same and themed mugs or pails in the dollar bin at Target.  I started with Valentine's day and added Christmas, Halloween, St.Patty's day and Easter.  I use my digital craft cutter to make cute "to/from" tags and dress them up with glitter glue or embossing paint.  I let the kids do alot of the work and design also.  I keep a bin of all my supplies I find at a steal of a deal and make them up ahead of time when I'm watching TV, on my work break, or in the car when I travel.  Fill the pail with holiday themed candy (such as Hershey kisses or chocolate gold foil coins) to hold the pencils upright.  Fun, cute and if you shop after the holiday..super cheap!  I've had teachers from previous years tell me they miss their "pencil pails".

It doesn't get much cuter than this for the holidays.
Happy Creating, Everyone! 

Handmade Invitations

Turning all those leftover scrapbooking supplies into one of kind party invites has proven to be cost effective as well as a fun, creative time for me and the kids. 
 They have such a sense of accomplishment when we are done and the recipients have always been amazed that they were handmade. 
I personally relish in the idea that these will be fond memories
 for me and my children to look back on when they are grown. 

 That's something money can't buy!

Have a beautiful day, Everyone!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pictures At Your Fingertips

My husband was right...I had way too many pictures on the computer but not enough time or money to print them all and even if I did, where on earth would I put them?  I'm the world's slowest scrapbooker and I certainly couldn't delete any..they are masterpieces, every last one of them!  That's when my obsession with thumbdrives began.  I discovered 4GB, 8GB and even 16GB, then came folders and my type A personality was in heaven.  A way to catagorize all those pictures so to be able to pull up and print off any of them in a single moment.  I bought one each time I went to the warehouse store and before long I had one for each kid, Christmas & other holidays, and grabbed an idea from one of my scrapbook idols Stacey Julian and made 3 drives labeled  "Places We Go", "Things We Do", and "People We Love".  I found that any picture I take can fall into one of these categories, hence be saved on that thumbdrive.  Then I discovered that you could copy any one picture onto multiple thumbdrives by clicking and dragging.  So,  I drop our beach pictures in the "Corolla 2009" folder on the "Places We Go" thumbdrive, then save copies of individual pictures onto the corresponding thumbdrive of the kids.  When they get old enough to fly the coop..I'll take thier drive to one of those machines, burn a copy, and give it them to keep.  I also keep a copies in the safe and upload to Costco photocenter for printing out enlargements for scrapbooking/framing/photobooks etc. I have also scanned all those treasured black and whites from past generations and saved them under "People We Love".  I tie a piece of ribbon (that reminds me of what it is) to the thumbdrives then connect them all with jump rings and hang them on a hook in my craft room.  Got old slides?  There are gadgets to convert to DVD.  I had this done through Costco as well, but I'm sure there are other places.  Just know it takes FOREVER to get them done.  I had picture CD's made from my grandparents old photos for Christmas gifts (priceless!)  It took 6-8 weeks for 270 slides and I was in the line on Christmas Eve for 2 hours waiting for them to finish up!   Once they are converted, use your picture editing software to clean them up! Voila!!

Girly Closets

Guilty~  My one and only daughter..there is nothing more fun than a girls day shopping while the boys are out...doing whatever boys do.  The question is not where to shop or what to buy but  "Where to put it all?"  Space is the issue and I have found a few clever ideas to manage all the "pretties" 

{1.}  3M hooks turn the inside of the closet door into a display gallery for purses, scarves, belts & hats. 

{2.}   A ribbon holder hung high keeps bows neat and easy to view.  Headbands fit perfect hanging from the side of a hooked purse.  

{3.}   Grasscloth framed corkboard turned sideways and mounted to the inside of the closet door makes the perfect solution for all those tangled neclaces and bracelets.  I picked this one up at Ben Franklin for $5 already finished and perfectly matched, but you can make/customize your own by repurposing an old frame with a piece of cork.  Dress up the pushpins for added style.

And here's a picture of the end result.

Isn't it adorable? We had so much fun creating our very own "girly closet". I hope you do too!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Those Dreaded Coupons

I cannot count the number of times I started clipping coupons in an effort to save a few bucks.  With a household of six (two teenage boys) groceries can be brutal on the budget.  The generic coupon organizers made sorting and finding tedious and weeding through to find expired ones...forget it!  so....I came up with
my own idea...

 Sorting by expiration date.  Since I ONLY clip my regular items that I use on a monthly basis (with the occassional new item I can't turn down or another brand that I think might get the kid approval)..  I don't worry about "which tab" it's located in.  I will eventually get to it during the month it expires.  I work within the current month or glance ahead IF I have time.  At the end of that month.....what's left is obviously expired and gets trashed!  I can keep it rotating into the next year because those slots are emptied out from the previous year.  I bought a plain organizer in the notebook section at Walmart and used my {oh so beautiful} Anna Griffin paper and embellishments to decorate.  Print months onto coordinating cardstock for labels and...BEAUTIFUL!

Here's the finished project. Hope you love it and get inspired to create your own one of a kind organizer!

Thanks for stopping by!

Keeping It All Together

So, tonight I thought I'd share some simple home organizing and storage solution I've picked up from magazines, books and an occassional "that wasn't quite what I was going for, but...." project.


Having two nine year olds ready for the bus by 7 a.m. was near impossible for a night owl like myself.  So after too many "naughty notes" from school for excessive tardies, it was time to kick it into another gear.  I knew the kids needed to start taking responsiblity and I needed a solution.  I tried a dry erase board but that was WAY TOO MESSY.  I thought magnets would serve the purpose better, still interactive (kids love) but
without the mess.  I used some leftover foam stickers from party invites (they just happened to coordinate with the bathroom decor..not that they must), magnetic strips hot glued to the bottom. Using the computer I simply typed the chores and each of thier names on white cardstock then mounted them on colored cardstock and again used hot glue to attach magnetic strips to the back.  This makes it easy for summer also,  when I don't need all the school related chores like "pack lunch" etc.  The kids earn thier allowance for each day they complete thier chore board and all I have to say in the mornings when I see them wandering aimlessly is...."What chores are left on your board".  Great news is...Not a single tardy this year! 

Thanks for stopping by!
Have a great rest of the day!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Please Come In

Thanks for taking time to stop by~ 

After being told many times over, "I just don't know how you do it?" and "you should start a blog." ...I am finally here!!  Have no idea what I'm doing but I'm sure as everything else, this too will come.  My goal is to create a site to share some clever tricks I have found to help organize the never-ending chaos that comes with raising a family, managing a household, working outside the home, and enjoying friends and hobbies. 

I hope you will take something away that will help you gain a little organization over your chaos too!