january do something: the wrap-up

(chia seeds in black and while look like glitter, eh?)
I just did my final walk of January so I can officially put this one firmly in the "done" category. And I'm calling this one a success despite that small setback earlier in the month when I was flat on my back for close to 4 days.

Vitamins, chia, apple cider vinegar, at least 64 oz water...every day (with the exception of said 4 days) no problem. My goal was to average at least 2 miles a day on the treadmill (or outside, if possible...that just doesn't really happen in Michigan in January) I ended up at 58.5 miles. Not quite there but again, that 4 pesky days...hoping to do better in February.

The point is, I'm back on the wagon and have positive habits that I can build on. Even though February will focus on a different goal, I'll keep this up and maybe even add in some additional activity (Jillian Michaels, I've got my eye on you.)

Today, I'm putting the finishing touches on my February do something. I'll share my plan tomorrow!


project life: week 2

In digital form:
SUPPLIES: DDE january idea notebook | DDE wood veneer alpha | word trend filler blocks | horizontal line up dates
and printed + slightly embellished (swapped a couple of the filler cards with paper scraps)


try before you buy: Word Trends filler cards

Newly added to the shop is this simple text-based filler card set.

It includes both printable PDFs (6 per sheet) as well as individual layered PDFs so that you can recolor easily or use the word art alone, with a photo or simply re-positioned!

Would you like to try a couple out? Simply click and save to download a couple of sample jpgs!


new in the shop

Yesterday, I added this to my etsy shop.

(by the way...do you love that background? painted by my grandpa - I treasure it!)
Designed and handcut by me. I've been wanting to design my own stuff for handcutting for awhile and finally did something about it. This one is fairly simple, fairly basic, fairly inexpensive...perfect for a bit of nursery or children's room art.

I have more designs in mind but wanted to see how this goes before I expand. For this week only, I have it listed at an introductory $10. Next week, it will go up to the regular $15 price.

Do you have an idea that you'd like to see as a handcut piece? Email me (link at the top right) and if I design something based on your idea, you'll get the prototype for free!


do something January mid-month update

Pushing towards the end of the month and I thought I would share my progress on my January goal and thoughts on February.
(how perfect is this print from Brad Woodward?)
My January do something is to feel better about my health. Obviously a perennial goal. Every year for the past few years I've had a patch where I was awesome at moving every day. And every year, despite sticking with it for an extended period of time, I inevitably hit a patch that prevents me from from following through for a few days and I'm done. Just like that. The endorphin rush, the adrenaline, that "runner's high" - none of those things are strong enough for me to stick with it. I'm an exercise quitter. Big time.

But every few months, I'm at it again, hoping this is the time it will click. We'll see.

For this month though, I wanted to up the ante by including all of those other little health related things I try to do but consistently forget. Drinking enough water, snacking smartly, vitamins and my daily chia and apple cider vinegar...Obviously, this month's do something is something I'd like to maintain indefinitely!

To do this with intention, I found an app that tracks my progress. You can set reminders throughout the day to update what you've done and see what's left for the day. I don't know about you but I get itchy when I see a bunch of those little red number indicators on my home screen so I'm happy to tick them off throughout the day and watch that number dwindle and eventually disappear.
(don't judge that big empty spot...that was my flu/recovery time!) A couple of tricks that have helped me this month? Trying to knock the treadmill out first thing...because making good choices and following through with the rest of the check marks is a lot easier when I've already put forth the effort in that area. Drinking my water from a big nalgene bottle that's next to me all the time - so much easier to do than filling a glass 8 times (seems silly but it works for me.)

The past few days, I've been jotting down ideas for the upcoming months...abstract ideas as well as more concrete.

  • this month I’m going to do something awesome
  • this month I’m going to do something for me
  • this month I’m going to learn something new
  • this month I’m going to make people happy
  • this month I’m going to do something scary
  • this month I’m going to do something brilliant
  • this month I’m going to do something hard
  • this month I’m going to make a plan
  • this month I’m going to be alone
  • this month I’m going to streamline happiness
  • this month I’m going to make my kids feel like stars
  • this month I’m going to write with curiosity and confidence
  • this month I’m going to document change
  • this month I’m going to create an inviting spot
  • this month I’m going to take a photo of myself that I love
These first couple of months, I'm sticking with the basics. Because I feel like having a solid base will make tackling the other areas a little easier. Sound body, sound mind. February will be about purging so that the house feels lighter. So I'm not frustrated with my surroundings. I'm aiming for a 30 in 30 type of thing a la Becky and Nicole but this will also be about fixing things that cause me unnecessary frustration (like the pull out water sprayer on the sing that always hangs up on the pip in the cabinet.) I'm making a list...can't wait to get started!



...that's what today is about. Wandering from room to room. Thinking about all the things I should be doing (but really only doing the bare necessities.) The kids are off today and tomorrow and the freezing cold temps and light layer of snow has me happy to stay in the next couple of days. Thinking a lot about Carlos today who is braving the weather and climbing poles for AT&T. Yeah.

This morning though, I hopped out of bed and got to work (really a stretch...this recipe is so easy) in the kitchen as I had promised the kids danish for breakfast. I first tried this recipe Christmas morning...a winner for sure!

The filling as the recipe calls for would be way too much in my opinion. She does say that it makes for a really full danish though and that it works fine halved. Even halved, it's plenty!

The only changes I made (other than halving the filling) were to skip the egg wash (not really sure what that's for anyway...I always thought it was to make pastry "pretty" but with the glaze, not sure that matters) and substitute one mashed banana for the egg in the filling (which I might try if I were you even if you don't skip eggs! I think it adds just a tiny bit of flavor to the filling that's really nice.) The fresh berries are the perfect way to cut the sweetness (though, this isn't overly sweet for a danish.)

Thinking now would be a good time to hop on the treadmill. And double up on my time.


project life: week 1

This one will be a bit of everything...week 1 of project life, a tiny update on my Intention project, a share and a quick tutorial...ready?

So this year, I've decided to switch up my project life approach a bit. I bought a package of baseball card protectors in the middle of last year with the intention of using them for inserts in my 12x12 PL album (I know I saw someone do this...I want to say Jamaica? Yeah, probably her because she is awesome and regularly blows my mind.) But, I failed miserably only making it about half way through the year so here I sit, with a full, unopened pack of baseball card sleeves. This year, I'm going with those sleeves for project life. Those sleeves only. With the occasional 8.5x11" regular layout protector mixed in for full size layouts or memorabilia. I feel like the compact size will be more manageable for me and I won't have the excuse of choosing which pocket setup I'll use from week to week.

With that in mind, I put together a quick digital template to help streamline things (I don't know if this is helpful to anyone as the pockets are 2.5x3.5" but if you want it, grab it here.) The plan is to work digitally, printing completed cards for each pocket. If I have the time or inclination I'll further embellish but that's the cherry on top - just having filled pockets is the goal here.

So, my week 1 spread looks like this digitally:
SUPPLIES: life love paper journal cards | DDE oh happy day freebie | paislee press press cards no. 18 | persnickety prints storyteller
and this, once printed and pocketed (yeah, it's a word):

I really wanted to include this ballerina Izzy drew - luckily for me, it was exactly the size of a plastic bag from a set of MME brads - I just cut it to size and slid it in with a paper backer. I simply stapled it to the protector right along the edge where the seam is
flipped back, you can see the card I included for the drawing
I also have a regular page protector with Jake;s spelling Bee certificate and the letter Zack received from his favorite author.

The first week of each month, I'll include a card that shows my OLW/Do Something goal for the month. I created a template for me to use...it looks like this in template form and finished form for this first week:

I did a modified 3x4" version for the traditional PL protectors - one for each month of the year. If you're playing along with me, you can download the zip with all twelve months here.

And finally, a quick tutorial for how I went from the template to the finished product.

original file

1] choose rectangle tool (U) 2] draw a box (because I wanted a solid background rather than the border) 3] simplify

ctrl + e to merge layers

add a new layer

activate brush tool (B)

begin painting over the portions of the png file you want to change to color of (I had a color scheme I was working with for this spread so I did a mix of colors for the wordart...a single color would work just as well!) 

ctrl + g will clip your paint layer to your png file

continue with your paint brush tool changing the color as desired

ctrl + e will make the color change permanent
choose the text tool (T) to add the title/goal and details of your goal
finished card with text


wednesday baking with izzy

You know, as I made these cookies this afternoon with my eager little helper, I took a few photos to share here because these cookies, my friends, are the bomb-diggity. Now though, as I type the post up, I'm fairly confident I shared this recipe last year sometime. But you know what, they are *that* good. And, we tweaked them just a bit (still, just as delicious) so they're worth sharing again.

(hand just itching to do some measuring, pouring and stirring)

Pomegranate carnage. Turns out, the cut-it-in-half-and-bang-the-hell-out-of-it-with-a-metal-spoon technique works AWESOMELY well. I seeded that baby in 2 minutes flat. The last time I made these, that part took as long as the entire rest of the process. This is both good and bad news.

Afternoon baking means after-school snacking. Yup. That pop of bright pom flavor in the midst of the ooey gooey chocolate is like magic, people.

Recipe from here. This time, we used whole wheat flour rather than all purpose and ALL the seeds - no measuring because more can only be good (guessing it was around 1.5 cups rather than the 1 cup called for.) We also used our typical flax seed substitution for the eggs. They don't taste any different than I remember them from the last time we made them. And even though the threat of salmonella never kept us from eating raw cookie dough before, now we can truly do it worry free ;)


eating this week: jan 7: jan 13

Lots of new meals on the menu this week. Tonight's dinner is carryover from last week as a stomach bug threw a wrench in our plans over the weekend.

Monday: roasted spaghetti squash, kerala spiced peas (new,) salad

Tuesday: lentil meatballs with lemon pesto (new)

Wednesday: curried apple couscous (new)

Thursday: black bean burgers (new)

Friday: sweet and sour tofu (subbing for the chicken) + fried rice (new)

Saturday: broccoli cheddar soup + bread

Sunday: corn fritters + black beans


new today

I just added these simple 2013 calendar strips to my etsy shop.

I'm trying to get back into the design habit now that the holidays are over. This weekend is all about nailing down how I want to approach project life this year and I knew that a good basic dating system was a must. I wanted this set to be really versatile so I chose a clean font and kept the design simple so it could be as unobtrusive as possible. The kit includes 12" long strips that can be used on a full size layout as well as an abr file with all of the months so they can be stamped on journaling cards, greeting cards and photos. Also included are a few basic hand drawn icons that can be used to highlight specific dates.


that tortilla soup

the one I mentioned yesterday? I wanted to share the recipe because it is a really delicious meal and perfect for nights when you need something quick. It's pretty much a few cans dumped in a pot and left to simmer for a bit. I use Quorn brand "chicken" breasts - you can obviously replace that with real roasted chicken

Like I said, I found this on Two Peas and modified it a bit (I would link to the thread but I didn't save it - apologies!) I suspect this is is a pretty forgiving recipe that could probably be adjusted quite a bit by adding/subtracting to suit your family and their tastes. I'm sure there are lots of versions of this soup floating around as well - this was just the first iteration I have tried.

Saute a small chopped onion and some minced garlic in a little olive oil. Stir in one can each rotel,  fire roasted diced tomatoes, black beans and sweet corn. I think the original recipe called for draining the corn and beans but I don't bother...I just reduced the liquid a bit. Add about 6 cups of vegetable broth (or water + vegetable bouillon) and a couple of shredded chicken breasts (the veggie chicken breasts I use shred fine and taste like chicken to me :) Season with salt, pepper, cumin and a little chili powder and simmer for 30 minutes or so. We top it with diced avocado, a bit of cheese and tortilla strips.


eating this week: jan 3: jan 6

I'm trying to get back in the habit of sharing our weekly menu. I normally plan Monday - Sunday but with the holidays, we've been kind of veering between fend-for-yourself and all out gluttony. I'm hitting the store today though to round out the rest of this week so I'm just sharing a half-week for now. Hopefully I'll remember to come back Monday for a full week's menu!

Thursday: tortilla soup - I found this recipe on Two Peas awhile ago (and completely neglected to bookmark the thread so I have no idea who provided it) I've modified it to suit our diet though so it's not identical to the original. I'll share our version tomorrow once I've had a chance to make and photograph it tonight!

Friday: broccoli gibriche

Saturday: quinoa nachos (were you aware that 2013 has been declared the International Year of the Quinoa? consider yourself informed!)

Sunday: roasted spaghetti squash, kerala spiced peas (new recipe,) salad



Happy New Year!

Today is the day so many of us embark in earnest on another attempt at improving ourselves, our lives, our circumstances, our futures. I've never been big on resolutions because so few actually achieve their goals and I think a major, life-changing change (as most resolutions are) can and should be made when you're ready...not at some future point dictated by the flipping of a calendar page.

That said, I totally get the appeal of the fresh-start mentality. There is something enticing and motivating about the flip of that page.

A few years ago, I adopted a "do something" philosophy. Monthly mini goals that ranged from organizing and cooking to writing and crafting. It went smashingly well. I would so much rather succeed at 3 or 4 or 10 mini resolutions than fail at 1 or 2. And if my mini-goal successes result in long term improvement, that counts as a "major" resolution kept, right? I'll be repeating some of my 2009 monthly goals and incorporating some new ones as well.

So that's what I'm attempting this year. This year feels momentous. In the fall, my baby will be in kindergarten. I have plans to make this year. Goals to identify and put into action. Baby successes are always a motivating factor, right? Right now, I need successes, big and small because I'm feeling a little aimless; a little lost. Every day is busy but it's busy with routine for the most part. Rote and predictable. And there is nothing wrong with routine, I crave it. But when routine becomes mindless, that's a problem. That's when you're spinning your wheels going nowhere fast.

Which brings me to the second part of my 2013 Declaration™

I've never participated in the One Little Word phenomenon because honestly, I am terrible at following through on long term creative projects. In tandem with my do something philosophy and my feelings of being a bit adrift, this word popped into my head though. And so, while I won't be doing an official OLW project, I am going to use this word to guide me each month. I want to apply the meaning to each project I undertake and hopefully, to my Life in a larger sense.

So, instead of simply riding the wave of routine, I'll be a little more thoughtful about how I spend my time. A little more cognizant about where and how my energies are spent. A little more appreciative of the little accomplishments.

Any other resolution-averse out there that wants to join me? I'd love to have you link up to me if you'd like to encourage and cheer each other on.

My January goal? Get my butt moving, cook healthy meals, drink water and take my vitamins. Definitely predictable but completely necessary after the holiday bender I find myself on the tail end of. I'll go into more detail about what I'm doing in a later post but there you have it. Hold me accountable.

(And then, just as I was about to hit publish, I got this in my email. Either etsy is spying on me or this was a very fortuitous post, indeed.)


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