Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Anniversary Blog Candy!

'Tis the season to celebrate, and Katarina is celebrating her 10th anniversary with her fiance this month (Dec. 4th, to be exact)! Congratulations, Katarina! In honor of this milestone, she is giving away some Valentine blog candy. The beauty of this giveaway is that it grows with every new comment! Yes, that's right, the more comments Katarina gets on her blog candy post, the more fun stuff she's giving away (within reason, of course)! So hop on over to Katarina's blog to check out her contest and to wish her a hearty CONGRATULATIONS!

~ Pia

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blog Candy!!

Yummy blog candy can be found on Claudia's blog! And there will be THREE winners!

Fun candy on Mary's blog, too!

And on Andrea's blog as well -- this one with FIVE lucky winners!

Wow, what an awesome way to end the year!!

~ Pia

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What a Week

What a week it's been... Monday night, I took Kat to the emergency room. Turned out she had acute appendicitis. She was transferred to a hospital about 30 minutes from where we live (the original hospital was only 5 minutes away from home) in order to get in to surgery as soon as possible. Well, after a very long-feeling 2-1/2 days in the hospital (leaving her appendix behind) she came home last night.

We went to Mass this morning and then spent a very quiet Christmas day at home. Which is way better than spending it in the hospital, as far as Kat's concerned! She was determined to get home on Christmas Eve! Praise be to God she made it and her surgery was a success. I'm utterly exhausted... 60 hours with very little sleep and almost no eating wears a person out.

Kat's sleeping now, so I've finally got a free (well, okay, stolen!) moment to update my blog so here are a few of the projects that we've been working on. These are gifts and cello bag toppers that we made for our friends and family. They were a lot of fun!

The hot cocoa gift boxes are tall 2-4-6-8 acetate boxes filled with 3 packets of hot cocoa mix (in 3 little zip lock bags), 3 mini candy canes, and a whole bunch of Hershey's kisses.

The snowman on each topper was assembled piece by piece using the Cold Play stamp set from Stampin' Up! -- I love that set! The sentiment and snowflakes are from Stampin' Up!'s Polar Pals stamp set.

The penguins on the last cello topper are also from the Polar Pals set. I think that penguin stamp is just too cute!

I hope you all had a very blessed and merry Christmas day with your loved ones. Today begins the Christmas season which, for us Roman Catholics, ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 11th -- I learned at Mass this morning that Epiphany as the end of the Christmas season is rooted in the Eastern Orthodox church. Well, in either case, the celebration has only just begun! Woohoo!! Merry Christmas to everyone and a very blessed New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Tree

Here's our tree! We traditionally decorate it with ornaments that we've made/collected as the kids have been growing up. I've posted pictures of four ornaments here, made in 1996. That was the only year that I did these painted-ball ornaments, and I put on them the milestones of that year for each child. I'm not the greatest artist (which is why I love rubber stamps!), but I think they turned out okay. :) The tree topper is one that we've had for 20 years. It's Mother Mary holding Baby Jesus. And lastly, a photo of our full tree. Yay!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

That Long...???

Wow, I can't believe it's been a whole WEEK since I posted anything!! Time has really flown by... Last weekend's parties were great fun (particularly a rousing game of Fa-la-la Feud!). And Bo spent a couple of days at his doggy daycare so we could get some housecleaning done and set up our Christmas tree.

Yes, we got our tree! And it's a REAL one this year! We walked onto the tree lot, and Kat picked the first one she saw. I asked her if she was sure (she said absolutely), we checked to see if it was a healthy tree (it was) and had no holes in the branches (it didn't), and grabbed it right up! I'll share a few pictures next post.

We had pouring rain and freezing cold a few days this past week... nothing like the weather back east, but a definite change for us SoCal residents that's for sure! Kat had to walk the shelter dogs in the downpour (well, they gotta go to the bathroom even in the rain!), and I did some Christmas shopping while she was working. I do have to say, it was a really nice relief from the blistering heat that we'd had in the last few weeks. Now it's sunny and brisk. Nice December weather!

I am officially on vacation as of today! Woohoo!! We're taking Bo to the park and then coming back to make some more little gifts for the people in our Folk Song Circle 'cause we've got a music meetup tonight. We haven't been since June (wow, that's a LONG time) due to illness (mine) and we've missed it so much. Tomorrow, we head over to the pub (where Kat sings occasionally) for Family Night. Haven't been to that in a while either, due to my work schedule. It will be good to see our friends again!

Still working on Christmas cards. We had some photos all picked out, but then Ricky said he's coming down so we decided to include him in the most current shot (by the Christmas tree, of course). Which means our cards will not get sent out until just before New Year, but that's okay! Christmas season doesn't end until Epiphany (January 6th)... you know, the 12 days of Christmas... so we've got time. :)

Well, gotta head off now. I'll post some pictures of our latest projects either today or tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Crafting

So I rewarded my nose-to-the-grindstone last several weeks at work (putting together two retreats, parent meetings, teacher meetings, you name it it got done) with some focused stamping and crafting time. Here in this post are the fruits of those crafting labors.

But first, the good news... my son called to tell me that he and his girlfriend are coming down to visit for Christmas! Woohoo!!! They'll be here the day after Christmas, and they'll stay in the area until New Year so he says they'll spend a couple of those days with us! What an AWESOME Christmas gift!

Kat and I spent several hours working and here's what we came up with for my teacher/volunteer/co-worker gifts. As you can see, we are totally loving that curly label punch and its coordinating (sold separately) stamp set! The tall skinny items contain individual packets of Cafe Mocha (I've posted a photo of the included packet for you).

We made some more 2-4-6-8 pouch boxes, this time containing an assortment of mini holiday chocolates (3 per pouch). We used a bunch of scrapbooking paper and ribbon that we had stashed away, which is why these are not traditional Christmas colors. I kind of like the variety!

The little square boxes are those way cool peppermint patty boxes (directions found on Rochelle's blog). I don't have my square punch anymore (a story for another time!), so I used the curly label punch for the window instead. No scallop circle punch either, so I used a big snowflake from one of Stampin' Up!'s retired sets and cut it out. Worked okay, I think. But I much preferred putting four little Hershey kisses (candy cane, cherry cordial, mint truffle, pretty much every kind of kiss you could get) in there instead. They fit quite nicely, and I stuck them to the bottom of the box so they wouldn't float around inside.

Next, though we actually started our crafting session with these, are the Ghirardelli chocolate holders. Directions can be found here. So quick and easy! And yes, we had to sample the chocolates since we'd never actually bought these before... Yummy!!

Here's that little box from a previous post, decorated at last.

The next series of shots shows everything put together into little gift sets. Just one sample of each color set so you get the idea. We have LOTS of these!

Lastly, we have a modified gift card holder. The gift certificates that had to go into it are a little longer than gift cards, so I changed the pattern a little to accommodate them. The directions for the original gift card holder can be found here. I packaged the gift certificate holder with two of the Ghirardelli packets behind it (it's a husband and wife team) into a cello bag and added a topper.

Okay, that's it for now! Getting back to the crafting so as to be ready to give these gifts at this weekend's parties!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The BIG Question

So someone asked the big question that's traditional at this time of year... What do you want most for Christmas? That's an easy one to answer, though I know I won't get it. I want to celebrate the holiday with all four of my beautiful children (who, honestly, aren't really children anymore). We haven't been all together for Christmas since 2002. Sigh... I can wish, though, and celebrate with them in spirit... Maybe one day we'll all be together again, if even just for a few hours. Now THAT would be the ultimate Christmas gift.

Anyway, today begins the Christmas crafting in earnest. I've got a couple of Christmas parties at work (it's part of my job to do holy-day celebrations, yay!) and teacher gifts to make, as well as gifts for my fellow staff members. The parties are this weekend. Have I begun prepping...? Of course not! They'd revoke my Procrastinators Club membership card if I started more than two or three days ahead, ha ha! I do have all the supplies, so "all" I have to do is put everything together. Thank God for my creative crafting daughter, Kat. She and I will be busy little bees over the next couple of days!

Hope you're all enjoying your Advent season and Christmas preparations. Peace be with you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Got a Little Stamping Done!

Here, at last, are the 6" x 6" pages that I promised oh so long ago. I still haven't figured out what's up with the scanner, so I photographed the pages instead. :) Very simple layouts 'cause I didn't want visual overload with all the photos I crammed in there... Ha ha, I couldn't decide which ones to leave out, so I just kept them all in!

The white 2-4-6-8 boxes are a couple from a batch we whipped up for the ladies in our rosary-making group. Kat had the genius idea of leaving the green ribbon loose so that the gift tag can be used by the recipient on another gift! We filled the boxes with mini Three Musketeers bars.

The treat boxes were just a fun experiment with my brand spankin' new curly label punch! Woohoo!! Just HAD to play with it the day it arrived! I didn't have any acetate lying around for the birthday box, so I used a lollipop bag instead (to make the window). It worked like a charm! I got a few sheets of transparency paper a couple of days ago, so I used a sheet of that for the plain-jane box on the right. Not done decorating it yet.

That's all we've got for now. Still working on the house and my stamp area so we can be more free to get some crafting done. We get to pick up our tree next week, so we're soooo excited!

Have a great day,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Getting Ready

Hmmm... I can't seem to get the scanner figured out! I'll have to ask Kat to troubleshoot for me. Sorry! Those layout shots will be up soon, I promise. Just don't get your hopes up for something "wow" 'cause like I said, they're very minimalistic -- just a whole lot of photos and very little of anything else, ha ha! While I'm thinking about Bo, I thought I'd post his Christmas photo here for your viewing pleasure. That's his new Elf costume that Kat just couldn't resist getting (and at only $5, how could I refuse?)!

Oh, I'm so excited! I've ordered the Curly Punch Bundle from Stampin' Up!'s Holiday Extravaganza!! It's a splurge for me, and an early Christmas present. I can hardly wait 'til it gets here... Just got notification that it shipped yesterday morning. Yay! Splurged a bit for Kat, too, getting her a little webcam. She's quite the entertainer, so I hope to see some fun video blogging from her in the weeks to come!

I've been pulling out my stamp-and-scrapbook supplies, trying to get a creative space set up in my room so I can soon begin the pre-Christmas crafting frenzy. That's my biggest project right now. It's hard, because I keep wanting to stop and play with my stuff! But I'm holding that out as a carrot at the end of my nose so I'll get done sooner. So far, it's not exactly working, ha ha... I've stopped to stamp a cute little mini pizza box for a friend of mine already. Photos to come soon -- I know the camera works! For now, here are a few photos of projects from my not-so-distant past. And please forgive the hodgepodge look of this entry... I'm still trying to figure out how to put photos exactly where I want them!

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving with your families and friends. My Kat and I spent the holiday quietly at home, relaxing with Bo and watching a few DVDs. Such a nice change from all of the running around we've been doing lately, between her new internship at the humane society and my crazy busy work schedule! I can't tell you how much we've been enjoying sleeping in... at least as late as Bo will let us... :)

So tomorrow begins the Advent season, the weeks in which we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ and look toward His second coming. Wow, the year has simply flown by! We'll be pulling out our Christmas decorations today and then looking for a tree in a couple of weeks. We get a real one this year! Time to start on those Christmas cards and gifts, too. I love this holy season!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Park Day

Sunday brought us some crisp Fall weather (FINALLY!), so we celebrated by taking Bo to the park. While the day started out grey and chilly, it was only about an hour before it got sunny and hot again. Gotta love Southern California weather! Still, Kat and Bo had a good romp in the coolness and very much enjoyed themselves.

Bo is such a silly guy; he's huge (just under 90 lbs) and fierce looking (well, okay, maybe not in these pictures!) so he tends to scare people when we're out walking him, especially at night. But once we introduce you as a friend and he gets to know you ... he's a real lovebug and so playful! He leaps and bounds like a deer when he's excited and rubs up against us like a cat when he's happy. He's the perfect guard dog and companion for Kat: giant teddy bear most of the time and a valiant protector when needed.

I made a little 6" x 6" layout yesterday, so as soon as I can figure out how to get my scanner working again I'll post it. It's really a very simple 2-page spread ('cause I had a lot of pictures to put in there!) but I think it turned out nice. Will post as soon as I can!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thinking Christmas Before Thanksgiving, Just This Once

It's coming up on the Advent season (wow, end of this week... time flies!) and I'm beginning to look toward Christmas so I thought I'd do this Christmas meme:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper with pretty ribbon and cool gift tags!

2. Real tree or artificial? We had an artificial tree for years (much more convenient), but this year we're going real (love the fragrance!)

3. When do you put up the tree? Around the 2nd week of Advent. No particular reason, just happens that way.

4. When do you take the tree down? Epiphany!

(Where'd 5 go...?)

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Winnie the Pooh stuffed doll. I still have him... he sits on my bed. :)

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Oh yes, a few. My daughter has her own, we have a family set that we've had for about 20 years, and I inherited my grandmother's set when she passed away in 2005.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My brother. He's got everything already!

9. Easiest person to buy for? My eldest daughter. She loves anything with Sleeping Beauty on it! Did I mention she's 22 and in the Navy?

10. Worst Christmas Gift you ever received? No such thing, as it's the thought that means a lot to me.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Snail mail, definitely.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? This year, it's The Christmas Shoes (a Hallmark movie).

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Around Thanksgiving time is when I start really thinking about buying things, but mostly we make our gifts so that's an Advent project.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I honestly can't remember!

15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas? Honeybaked Ham, Yams, Mashed Potatoes, Turkey with Gravy... pretty much the traditional stuff

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Depends on the year.

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Depends on the year and our budget. All our family lives several hours away, so sometimes we make the trek but we've been known to stay home for a quiet Christmas as well.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolf... did I get them all? Had to sing the song in my head!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Mother Mary cradling Baby Jesus in her arms.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning (I don't know why I can't "unbold" this answer....)

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People getting pushy and irritated at the stores. Gosh, that's not what the season's about.

23. What is the “silliest” family tradition you do, or miss doing? Taking the kids' Christmas pictures by the tree: after they did the "posed" shots, I let them pose themselves and the result was always a series of hilarious, fun photos that we used in our cards! Three are grown and moved out now, sigh...

24. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? Don't know.

25. Which looks best, theme trees or homey trees? I like both, though my tree is always decorated with the Christmas ornaments that my kids made and collected as they were growing up.

26. Gingerbread or sugar cookies? Sugar cookies all the way!

27. Do you like Fruitcake? Not particularly.

Well, that's it!Big thanks to Corinna for this meme! You can check out her way cool blog here: Corinna's blog

Have an awesome day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Passion For Crafts

Fellow stamper Debbie has some awesome blog candy to give away! Check out her way creative blog and the "yummy candy" here: BLOG CANDY!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Like You!

This is a card that I made for my Kathi last year. I don't tell her ENOUGH how much I love her (even though I tell her every single day... that doesn't feel like enough to me!).

So this card has pull outs that have little things I love about her. I think it turned out cute! I used the "Just Delightful" Simply Scrappin' set from STAMPIN' UP!, Delight in Life stamp set (also from SU!), some Prima flowers, ribbons, and brads. Inside the card it says, "When I grow up... I want to be like you!" from a retired SU! set.

Kathi is so courageous and willing to be silly and ready to love everyone and very compassionate and caring. I hope she never loses that. I really do want to be like her!

What's in a Name?

What's in a name? I don't know, but names have always been important to me. I am very particular about getting someone's name right. I'm intrigued by the origins of people's names, and why they were give the names that they have.

Nicknames? Very cool! How'd they get those? What's the story behind them?

Pictured here are just a couple of the name frames I've made for people. My daughter Kathi made the "Neveah" frame for her cousin's birthday. She did a really nice job, yes? I wish I'd taken pictures of the others. And I still need to make some for my kids.