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Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm in the process of re-locating this blog to a new address on the web.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Simple Things

I've fallen off track in collecting my weekly "Simple Things" photos, but I'm going to pick up and get back on track. I really like the idea of one photo telling a simple story from our week, and I think the collection of 52 photos at the end of the year will be a treasure.

So, here's my latest Simple Thing photo. Well, make that two photos. They are a before and after view, and I can't decide yet which one I want to select.

On Friday afternoon we invited a friend to our house for a play date. The boys were so excited, they had to wait outside to watch for his mom to drive up. Robby even made a welcome sign to hang on the front door.
I think it was a happy play date, judging by the number of toys strewn across the floor in the playroom and living room. 
Simple - 7/27/12 b

Working full time, I don't often get to arrange play dates for the boys, but when we finally do plan one, it makes all of us very happy to spend some time with our friends.

Participating in "The Simple Things" with Rebecca Cooper at Simple as That.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Take Twelve - March

Late last night I finished my third page for the "Take Twelve" challenge series presented by Ella Publishing Co.

For January and February -- one weekday and one weekend day -- I just used the 12 photos to show the progression of our day. For March, I decided to change up the plan a bit. Since my birthday is in March, I made my "Take Twelve" about me, instead of just what we did that day. I took pictures of some of my daily habits and chores, as well as details like what I wore and where I went, and along the way just snapped pictures of things I liked. At the end of the day, as I looked through my photos, I decided to make my March Take Twelve simply about things that are making me happy right now, for any reason. I like that this way still gives a glimpse of our day and our lives right now, but with a little twist from the last two months.
"Take Twelve"  - March

I used papers and elements from assorted packages from Crystal Wilkerson since her colors and patterns always fit with my idea of happy. 

I'm looking forward to April 12th. It'll be nearly spring break time, and I'm curious to see what story my 12 photos will tell then.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making Leprechaun Mischief

As a child I was fascinated by the idea of tiny leprechauns living among the clover. Now I find joy in inviting the leprechauns to make mischief in our home on the night before St. Patrick's Day. My kids share my fascination and are thrilled to discover the mischief the leprechauns make. They have even set traps to try to catch a leprechaun and his gold, but alas, the little men are too quick!

Naturally if leprechauns are visiting, our Christmas elf, Sprinkles, would want to join in the fun and get a chance to check in on the boys. Here's a peek at the mischief we enjoyed last year when Sprinkles teamed up with the leprechauns to cause mayhem in our home:
Elf's Visit on St. Patrick's Day
Want to join the leprechaun fun? 
Here are a few ideas for making leprechaun mischief in your home:
  • Use food coloring to turn the milk green.
  • Use food coloring to tint the toilet water.
  • Use a food coloring pen to color the sandwich bread for lunch.
  • Cut shamrock shapes out of the waffles for a breakfast surprise.
  • Sprinkle sparkly "leprechaun magic" (aka confetti) about the house and yard as evidence of their visit.
  • Make a few tiny hand and foot prints with green markers (think tile floors, light switch plates, or the metal door frame for easy clean-up).
  • Color or write notes on the mirrors from the leprechauns with green markers. 
  • Hang green party streamers across doorways or wrap it around chairs, banisters, etc.
  • Hide blocks, tennis balls or coins inside shoes. 
  • Mix things up -- turn over a chair, mismatch the shoes or socks, pull open the dresser drawers, turn jackets inside-out.
If you have leprechauns who visit your home, be sure to share their mischief in the comments.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Simple Things 10

A simple pot of sauce on Sunday.
Simple 10

Whenever I make a pot of tomato sauce, particularly on a Sunday, I feel like my grandmother, my Nanny Gin, is near. She passed away 12 years ago, but when I make a pot of sauce, I feel a connection to her and to her traditions of loving her family and gathering them together for a delicious meal. This connection is made stronger by the fact that the table we gather around is the same table she had in her kitchen.

We enjoyed this sauce last Sunday over pasta, and ate by candlelight, just because. The sauce, the candlelight, the table, the meal -- all simple things made special.

Participating in "The Simple Things" with Rebecca Cooper at Simple as That.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Simple Things 9

A Friday night dinner at the diner. This guy loves his "feast" at the diner -- scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, toast, and home fries. He makes egg sandwiches with the toast, dips his bacon into the syrup, and picks at every last bit of egg on the plate. He lets me share the home fries, and will often give Joey a piece of bacon. A simple meal. A simple joy watching him enjoy it with such concentration.
Simple 9

Participating in "The Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog, Simple as That. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Simple Things 8

I am still trying to narrow down my one Simple Thing for this week to one photo + story. So for now, I'm going to record both.

On Thursday, I had the day off with the boys and we had a morning playdate with one of their school friends to ride bikes at the beach. Incredibly, it was about 60 degrees in February in Connecticut. The boys were delighted to race around on their bikes again, and I enjoyed catching up with a mom friend.
Simple 8a
On the way home, we got sandwiches from our favorite deli to eat at home. They had some ninja play, then we were off to another playdate at a playground with another school friend. Tired out, we stopped for smoothies, then watched the latest episode of Ninjago the three of us together on my bed. All in all, a pretty perfect day with my little guys.

On Saturday, while my little ninjas/jedis/knights were busy playing downstairs with Daddy, I got to enjoy some creative time upstairs in my craft room (aka my bedroom). Just nice to spend some quiet, crafty time alone.
Simple 8b

Participating in "The Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog, Simple as That. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Simple Things 7 | A Simple Saturday

We wanted to take advantage of the mild February day with a walk at the beach for the four of us. Our dog must have thought it was a good day for the beach too, since she insisted on getting into the car, much to the boys' delight.
Indy Pup is 10 years old and has diabetes, and in the past, has not always been the most obedient walker. But Saturday she was well-behaved and seemed to take delight in all there was to explore at the beach. So much so that we took her back on Sunday. You could tell she was happy, and as Joey said, she had "her smiley face on."
It was a good trip for all of us with simple things to enjoy -- climbing the rocks, throwing stones into the water, and drawing in the sand. 
Simple Things 7c
Such a simple way to enjoy a Saturday for everyone, even Indy Pup.

Participating in "The Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog, Simple as That. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

February Take 12

I did it! I finished my second "Take Twelve" layout and did it in less than a week after taking the photos, just in time for Ella Publishing Co.'s deadline for sharing.

February 12, 2012
Papers, tab label and heart are all from "A New Day" by Sweet Shoppe Designs,
offered as a free download from the Ella Publishing Co. blog two years ago.
It was helpful to work on this with a deadline. I may not be 100% sure about this layout, but it's done now, and it makes me happy to see a second set of 12 photos capturing our life in 2012.

(Hmm, just noticed that download was offered on February 17, 2010 -- exactly two years ago. Thank you Ella for the inspiration to "take twelve" and the previous download to make the layout easier!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Notes

In this past week leading up to Valentine's Day, our family has been writing little "I love..." notes. Inspired by this Family Gratitude Project from Becky Higgins, we have been working on our own Family LOVE project.

Each evening when the boys are ready for bed, we have taken turns writing in something that we love. In addition to the LOVE in the middle, the lower left corner has our names and the year. I printed it at home and trimmed it to 8.5x11. I really should have used a larger piece of cardstock, but I did not expect that my little 4-year-old was going to want to write ALL his own notes, even the very long "I love blueberry pancakes."

Some things I loved about this project:
  • My 4-year-old's determination to write his own notes and his pride in knowing how to spell "love."
  • My 6-year-old's look of happiness when I read the notes to him last night. I think it made him feel special to hear the little things my husband and I had written down.
  • That we found a way to add little extra sweetness to a holiday that has little in the way of traditions other than cards and candy.
I can't wait to finish it and hang it, and I definitely plan to do it again next year, though on a bigger piece of paper!

Wishing you a sweet Valentine's Day!

Simple Things :: 6

A coffee at work is always a welcome simple pleasure during the day, but recently I have been enjoying the simple addition of cinnamon to my latte. Somehow a few sprinkles of that spice makes me stop and savor my latte all the more.

Simple Things 6

 Participating in "The Simple Things" weekly photography series on Rebecca Cooper's blog, Simple as That.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Take 12 - Better Late Than Never!

I took 12 photos on January 12, and now I have finally made my layout with the photos! Good thing, since February 12 is right around the corner, and the Ella Publishing Co.'s "2012 Take 12 Project" is one of the projects I have decided I want to stick with this year.


I started out with Cathy Zielske's "InstaLove" free template, which had six square photo spaces, and I doubled the spaces. I like how this "take 12" photo challenge helped me to capture a snapshot of an ordinary day, and doing this challenge 11 more times will add some great layers to my collection of pages this year.

For the February "take 12," I'm planning to focus on 12 Valentine-y things around our house. I'm also going to take one photo of the four of us together every month. I did our family photo every month in 2011, but this year I'd like to get more creative with our group shots -- maybe our shadows or our feet -- just generally more thought-out poses than the many squish-our-heads-together-and-hold-out-the-camera shots we took.

I'm so happy to have my January page completed, and am looking forward to joining Ella for the 2012 Take 12 Project! 

You can learn more about Take 12 here:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Party: Tradition & Creativity

In my family, the Super Bowl is considered a holiday. Not on the par of Christmas or Easter, but certainly up there with New Year's or Fourth of July. Since 1969, my father's family has been gathering on Super Bowl Sunday for a party. It started as a small gathering of aunts, uncles and cousins, and over the years it grew to include grandchildren and great grandchildren, second and third cousins, in-laws and friends. For my brother and I, we have never known a Super Bowl game without a family Super Bowl party.

Now for 2012, my brother and cousins and I have picked up the baton to carry on the tradition. We're officially the third generation to host the party, since our parents had taken over hosting responsibilities from their parents several years ago, so we're calling it "Super Bowl Gen 3.0." In this age of social media and mobile connectivity, we're using a Shutterfly Share site for RSVPs and food sign-ups, and I have been busy roaming Pinterest for ideas. Here are a couple of things we'll be enjoying at our party.

A little banner to greet guests at the door:
Super Bowl - welcome
Thanks to Living Locurto for the free printables. I did a little cut-and-paste to include "2012" and our "3.0" for the middle one.

Garland decorations using the printables again:

Super Bowl Snacks:
These things were all over Pinterest for Christmas as Reindeer Noses or Rudolph Noses (and I see them popping up again for Valentine's Day and Easter), and they were a big hit with my family. So I thought why not change up the colors and re-invent them as a Super Bowl snack? I'm calling them "Coughlin's Crunchies" in honor of the Giants' head coach, who was also the coach for Boston College while my husband and I were students there.

Super Bowl Bingo Cards -- a free printable from Studio DIY:
(Photo from Studio DIY)

Here's to a happy Super Bowl day!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Simple Things :: 5

While I was taking my oldest to school on Tuesday morning, he noticed the clouds were in an unusual striped pattern. I love when my boys happen to observe something different or interesting in their everyday surroundings -- that they too sometimes take a moment to recognize the "simple things."
Simple Things 5

I snapped this photo a little later on my way into my office. While I enjoyed noticing these unusual clouds too, for me, the photo captures the sweet recollection of Robby being the one who pointed them out to me.

Participating in "The Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog, Simple as That. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Projects for 2012

Ahh, a new year, new goals, new ideas. So full of optimism and eagerness. I wish I could say this is directed at an exercise plan or a decluttering strategy, but instead all this optimism is directed at undertaking several year-long photography/scrapbooking projects, not to mention several smaller ones too! Right now I am full of plans and inspiration, so I am testing the waters to decide which projects will work best for me.

I KNOW I could not manage a Project 365 (+1 for Leap Day), but I seem to have fallen into doing a photo-a-day project for January. I have done the month-long version in the past too, and like this as a way to capture the random everyday bits of our lives and give a summary of a month.

I am considering taking on Becky Higgins' Project Life, but seriously doubt my ability to stick with it. Since I don't print photos at home, it seems like that would be an especially difficult project to keep up with. However, Donna Januzzi introduced me to the "Document 2012" idea (which Shimelle Laine originated in 2010). This seems to be a bit like Project Life in a more manageable monthly format and smaller scale. I haven't ruled out Project Life, and in fact, I have been saving paper bits and jotting notes to use in some sort of project like this. I plan to print my January photos and do a sort of practice run of Project Life, then decide from there how to continue for the year.

I love Rebecca Cooper's Simple Things weekly photo challenge -- just a reminder to stop and consider a simple moment of the week and document it. If I do this weekly, I think it would make a nice little album to have 52 Simple Things at the end of the year.

In a similar vein, I have joined the 52 Photos in 52 Weeks Flickr group and completed Weeks 1 and 2. In this challenge, Monika Wright and Lisa Ottosson give a theme word for the photo of the week. Again, this would make a nice collection at the end of the year, although in week 3 I was already a bit stumped with the theme "community." I had a few ideas, but several of them were not ones I wanted to make available on the internet. I haven't given up on this one, but I can see it will be a challenge.

Ella Publishing is running the "Take 12" challenge -- take 12 photos on the 12th of each month (it's okay if you end up doing the 13th or 20th or whatever). I did this challenge this month too, and already am finding myself thinking about ideas for next month.

Last year, I took a family photo on the 11th of each month (in 2011), and while that album is not completed (big surprise, right?), I like looking back at the photos and plan to do this again, just moving our family photo day to the 12th. So this actually fits nicely with the "Take 12" project.

So far, I am "doing" all of these projects/challenges, and using January as a trial month. At the end of the month, I can look back and see what did or did not work, and decide how I want to continue. I love the feeling of having plans for projects, but I want to love the feeling of completing projects too, without being disappointed in myself.

What are you working on in 2012?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Simple Things :: 4

My company moved to a new building in a new city (which is also my home) last month, and every day when I park in the garage, I see this building across the street.
Simple Things 4

It's some kind of artists' gallery or workspace. I love being greeted with that building-sized quote every day, and seeing it again on my way home. I like to sort of mull it over and think about the things I want to be creating -- memories, traditions, craft projects, stories, scrapbook pages, impressions -- to last beyond my lifetime. It reminds me to treasure the simple things in this all-too-short life. (It also makes me wish that more buildings painted inspiring quotes on their outside walls.)

Participating in the "Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Simple Things :: 3

On Monday while my oldest worked on his "facts about lizards" project, I spruced up a little wreath for our front door. The small all-white berry wreath from Target was cute, but it didn't look quite right on our white front door and for that reason, it has moved around several locations in our home.

Simple Things 3a

I added red berry sprigs to the white and switched the white ribbon out for a red one, and I finished my simple project before my son finished his lizard project. Such a simple change, but it has been a happy greeting every time I return home.

(You can see the original wreath here as it served as a hiding spot for our Christmas elf.)

Participating in the "Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Simple Things :: 2

Play-doh and Batman tattoos -- the simple things that can make a little boy's day.
Simple Things :: 2

 Last week was a tough week at work, and I was wary of "Friday the 13th." But after spending the afternoon with my boys doing Play-doh, Lego Ninjas, and Batman tattoos, and my husband bringing take-out home for dinner, our Friday the 13th turned into a wonderfully fun family evening.

Participating in the "Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Simple Things :: 1

My younger son started showing a greater interest in reading this week. After my older son completed his daily reading time, Joey was eager to demonstrate his abilities with Dr. Seuss' ABCs. I loved watching the two of them reading together -- this little moment makes me so happy. (A teary, over-tired meltdown erupted shortly after I took the photo, but that's all just part of the day.)

Simple Things

Participating in the "Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog.

1/52 Photos: New

Last year Lisa Ottosson and Monika Wright organized the "52 Photos in 52 Weeks" project with a photo prompt for each week of the year. They are doing it again, and I thought I might join in, even if only some weeks. I like the idea of having an album at the end of the year with just one photo from each week. So here goes -- Photo One of 52 Photos in 52 Weeks...

Week 1 of 52: New

New snowboots, tags still on, sit unused on January 7 while the weather is a beautiful 63 degrees in Connecticut. A surprising contrast to January 2011!

52Photos badge

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Inspired by Pinterest in 2011

I started out using Tumblr at the beginning of 2011, but soon had to see what all the excitement was about with Pinterest. To me, Pinterest seems to have more crafts/creative ideas than I found on Tumblr, and I like being able to organize my pins into boards. I made the switch and have been addicted to browsing ever since. As I look back at my creativity in 2011, I owe much to Pinterest, including:

Learning to Crochet
I found so many lovely pins of crochet projects, I actually bought yarn and a hook and taught myself a few basic stitches. I'm proud to say I made two scarves sized just right for the boys, plus several scarves for their stuffed pals (good way to practice), and I'm nearly done with a scarf for myself.

Framed Word Art Gift
I printed the free Christmas scripture word art from A Simply Klassic Home and framed it as a gift for my older son's principal.
Christmas printable framed gift

Good Eats
For Thanksgiving, I made this turkey(ish) veggies and dip platter, based on this Turkey Veggie Platter from Eating with Food Allergies.

Thanksgiving Turkey Veggie Platter
Admittedly our turkey, made with a loaf of round pumpernickel to hold a spinach dip, is less artistically formed, but the boys had fun making it, and I received compliments for being so clever.

A few days before Christmas, the boys and I made up two yummy pretzel/chocolate treats I saw on Pinterest -- Holiday Pretzel Treats from Family Fun (also called Rudolph Noses on some pins, using only red MandMs) and Pretzel Hugs from Cookies and Cups. The boys loved helping and naming all the reindeer noses, and our family loved eating them -- I even got a few requests for the "recipes."

Christmas Elf Mischief
Elf hiding in the freezer
Since it was our third year with Sprinkles the Elf, we already had moved past the "sitting on the shelf" ideas to a few silly tricks and such, but thanks to Pinterest, Sprinkles had increasingly clever hiding places and mischief to make. Poor little elf, he had more inspiration than he had days or energy to execute! (Sprinkles hanging out in the freezer in the photo above was inspired by Beatrice.Killam's photo on Flickr.) 

30 Days of Gratitude Mini Book
30 Days of Gratitude - mini book, cover
Having pinned a few mini books from Lisa Ottosson, when I saw her Gratitude List Mini Book, I was inspired to make my own and keep a record throughout November. It was a perfect way to focus on a month of giving thanks.
Thank you, Pinterest, for providing so much inspiration in 2011! If only I could drag myself away from the never-ending stream of creativity and MAKE more of what I pin. Here's to plenty of creativity and inspiration in 2012!