Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Planning For 2018

It is hard to fathom that there are only a few weeks of 2017 left before we head in to a new year.


This was an eventful year for my family. The good, the not so good, the bad, the wonderful, everything rolled in to 365 days. We sold a house, we bought a house. We moved back home to Michigan and started a new life. New church, new school, new jobs, new opportunities. New friends, old friends, more time with family and those we love. If I can think of one word to describe 2017, it would probably be "full".

I needed to get my planners in order for the year ahead.

For starters, I knew I wanted to use my personal planner again. I had tried once or twice to cobble together some inserts from here, there, and everywhere, but it just didn't work for me and I didn't use it.

I'm back to what works for me, and that is Simple Stories.

I found everything I needed at Hobby Lobby (hello, 40% off coupon!). When it comes to planning, I don't like to make it complicated. I'm not a stamps and dies and fussy planner. I'm a paper, stickers and pen planner.

I love having a two page monthly spread for the big picture.

I also love the little extras, like a sheet for some bullet journaling and To Do lists.

Having the option of a weekly spread is handy, too.

And if there's a particularly busy day, I can add one of these vertical day pages to any spot in the planner where it's needed.

Simple Stories has the cutest papers and graphics. I just love them. I know that looking at the sweet flowers in the Bloom collection will make me happy this year.

Now that I am back to writing, I have to keep track of things like appointments, interviews, and deadlines. Add to that, school and sports for Sam and travel for Ed, and I have a lot to keep write down. Having this smaller size portable planner with me will really be a life saver.

Blessings on your day, cafe friends!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Cottage: A Wintry Scene for the Front Porch

Welcome to winter at the cottage!

Christmas decorations have been coming out in stages here, as I try to figure out what works in the new house and what doesn't work.

For example, I'd thought of putting the tree next to the fireplace, but my husband suggested this spot near the front foyer in the great room. Perfect! We can see the tree from inside (the kitchen, great room, dining and office), and we can see the tree from the outside, too.

Yesterday, I had this great idea to get some more birch trees out of storage and use them on the front porch. I found some cheap white lights with white cords, lo
oped them around the trunks, and voila! Winter wonderland!

I can't believe I never thought of using those birch trees like this before. It really added some more sparkle to the front entryway.

I'm so glad I got the front door painted last month, too. It really helps set off the Christmas wreath.

A little greenery, some pops of red, and winter woodland.

A great description for today's card!

{Today's Brew: Holiday Folk stamp set and dies (PTI), Wonderful Words stamp set (PTI), Modern Wood Mats stamp set and mat stack die, Lawn Fawn paper, PTI ink and card stock, silver twine, amuse twinkle}

How are your holiday decorations coming?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Small Town Christmas

I love small towns at Christmas!

Sam and I went to our local grocery store this weekend. The red kettle Salvation Army bell ringers were out front, standing next to this beauty. Sigh! Christmas perfection!

Here are a few more photos from around town:

Cheese shops, cafes, diners, bakeries, boutiques, florists...all of the wonderful places that make this town so much fun.

Today's card was inspired by that vintage pickup truck. I loved the color, and tried to incorporate it in this card using a little Olive Twist from Papertrey Ink.

{Today's Brew: Rustic Wreath stamp set and die (PTI), Winter Hills stamp set (PTI), Background Basics Gingham (PTI), Rustic Twine, PTI inks}

What are some of your favorite places to visit in your town?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Snowy, Birdie, Crafty Kind of Day

We got our first magical winter snow in Michigan! Yay! It turns everything into a Christmas card, doesn't it?

Sam took this photo of a cardinal at our feeders yesterday. So pretty! And while he was capturing cardinals with his camera, I was stamping them in the basement.

Some time this past year, I was lucky enough to find the stamp set and dies for PTI's Holiday Folk on the used forums. Such a fun set! It really encompasses the wintry feel I was after. And when paired with this sweater paper from Lawn Fawn, even better!

I used Modern Wood Mats stamp set to give a whitewashed wood look to this mat die. And happy day! My Favorite Things sent me free snowflake dies with my last order! Just what I needed to finish off this card!

{Today's Brew: Holiday Folk stamps and dies (PTI), Wonderful Words stamps sentiment, Modern Wood Mat stamp set and mat stack die, PTI card stock and ink, MFT snowflake die, amuse studio twinkle, white embossing powder}

Blessings on your day, cafe friends!

Friday, December 8, 2017

December Birthdays

We have a lot of birthdays sprinkled over the holiday season. That's probably why I'm so belated making my Christmas cards this year! No worries. I think I have some cards left over from last year, if I don't get around to creating some "fresh" cards.

Here's a fun flip card I made for my mother-in-law's birthday this week!

{Today's Brew: Happy For Ewe stamp set (MFT), SU flip card die, MFT stitched circle die, Simple Stories papers, COPIC markers}

Have any fun holiday plans this weekend?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Eating Sensibly Over The Holidays

It's that time of year. Parties, social occasions, and festivities that all seem to tempt us with the same things.

Cookies, sugary drinks, tasty foods.

We eat and we indulge and we say to ourselves "I'll start over in January."

And that's fine for a lot of people.

But for me, I wanted to feel better now...not six weeks from now.

Since battling an autoimmune disorder for many years, I have noticed a real correlation between nutrition and my overall health. Sometimes, when I backslide and let a lot of sugars and processed foods into my daily routine, I will pay for it...not just in the pounds, but in the achy joints and in the fatigue.

So rather than put off good nutrition for 2018, I decided to continue with my elimination diet now. I'm following a lot of the principles in the Whole 30 plan.

I'm loading up on healthy fruits and vegetables, and cutting out ALL sugars from my diet. No more "faux brownies" or "fake cookies". Just real ingredients in their natural states.

I'm also giving up dairy during this period. I kicked the milk habit a while back, and I'm typically very selective in my cheese choices. But for a time, I'm going to see how my body responds without dairy.

Wheat, breads, rices, pastas and legumes are also off the menu. In their place, I'm enjoying spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes, cauliflower rice and butternut squash. Good things.

And added to this are a lot of lean proteins to round it, eggs, poultry, grass-fed beef, pork. Healthy fats like avocado, coconut and avocado oil, olive oil and clarified ghee. Nuts (no peanuts) and unsweetened coconut flakes.

And eggs. Did I mention the eggs? I LOVE eggs.

I've come up with some unusual and tasty combinations, too. Like this one.

Roasted sweet potato "toasts" with avocado and hard boiled egg. Yum!

And this one.

Sauteed spinach and egg topping a Brussels sprouts and butternut squash "hash". Delicious!

This sort of clean eating takes a lot of prep work. I'm cooking and cleaning all the time! It also takes a lot of grocery shopping, which can get pricey. I did a big stock up at Aldi last week, and I could barely fit another thing in the fridge and freezer!

I'm on week two, and I can tell you that I feel great! I stay hydrated (lots of water) and I'm getting exercise every day. But I also have a lot more energy. I sleep well at night, and I currently have no joint pain.

My husband, who follows his own plan, cannot understand why I cannot just eat "all things in moderation" the way he can. That works for him, and he's very good at it. But for me? I see a tray of cookies, and I become the cookie monster. NOM NOM NOM. Gone. I eat a bowl full of table side bread at the fancy restaurant, and I pay for it in more ways than one.

But I feel like I'm really slaying that Sugar Dragon these days. I even made a tray of brownies this week, and sent them all off as a gift. They did not tempt me, even a little. And that's good. Because I may like brownies, but they are no friend of mine.

Good food is fuel. And I want to run at optimum performance level.

So how am I surviving the holidays?

At the buffet, I bypass the dessert table completely and head straight for the good stuff. Veggies, fruits, meat.

I'm avoiding a lot of restaurant eating because I want to control what's on my plate. But a simple dish of eggs won't hurt me. Or maybe chicken or fish or steak with vegetables. I can manage.

Have you ever attempted a Whole 30 plan? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Changes at Papertrey Ink

It's not a secret.

I have been a fan of Papertrey Ink since they debuted their line of bold and graphic stamps eleven years ago.  Little Lady! Garden Thumb! I had to have them. And I used them, a lot.

For a long time, I was primarily a Stampin Up follower, and a demo for the company for many years. But after some time, I did get burned out and actually toyed with the idea of giving up paper crafting completely.

And then I had a brilliant idea. Why not sell off my collection of big and bulky wood mounted stamp sets, and use the profits to re-invest in some companies who offered good quality clear acrylics. Less pricey, takes up less space.

And truly, I just needed to venture off in a new direction. I wanted something cleaner, less cluttered. And Papertrey Ink was my Go To for a long time.

Nichole Heady, PTI co-founder, could make dryer lint and a used tissue box look good. I just loved her style. I purchased so many products based on her wonderful creations.

I noticed a lot of changes this year with PTI. Nichole was not creating nearly as often as she once did. And the offerings of PTI just didn't wow me like they used to. Too many kits, too much clutter. Don't get me wrong. I still love many of the members of PTI's design team. But things were different. And honestly, I wasn't shopping with them all that often any more.

So it wasn't a big surprise when Nichole Heady announced that she was stepping down from her position as creative director. Sad, but not surprising. People change, life circumstances change. And something that may have been your passion at one time can take a back seat.

There's an ebb and flow to life, isn't there?

Sometimes, I'm totally into paper crafting, and then weeks will go by where I haven't worked at my craft table. Needle art can be picked up one day, and neglected another day. Gardens need tending in the summer, but in the winter I can read good books.

Ebb and flow. Wax and wane.

I wish Nichole the best of blessings in her new ventures. And I'm hoping that PTI can recapture it's sparkle and style in the days ahead.

{Today's Brew: Botanical Blocks stamp set (PTI), PTI card stock and inks, black embossing powder, amuse studio ribbon}