Sunday, August 28, 2011


friday afternoon the hubbs called me from work with a little 'challenge'.

one of his coworkers challenged me to a cake contest. 

what? totally random. i have no idea how this even came up... especially since i'm not exactly the BEST baker... although i love to do it.... 

he sent me a picture and i said, 'absolutely!'

it was a nice break from the serious conversations taking place around here.

sunday night i got to baking. {just like me to put it off until the last minute, too...}

i made the melted ice cream cake from the cake mix doctor. 

it has given me success before... so i went with what i knew.

for the ice cream, i chose ben & jerry's half baked ice cream. {not the yogurt version}. 

yummo. i was lucky to get the whole pint in the cake before i ate it!

the recipe calls to make it a bundt cake... but i just split it up in two 9-inch pans. let it cool real good... and then went to town with the classic white icing. 

mini m&m's in the middle.

then i carefully placed the m&m's on top. i had a strategy. the hubbs kept trying to help... but he wasn't doing it carefully enough. so he took pictures. 

then i put the kit kats on the outside. they were a bit of a problem because they were slightly soft {despite being in our house for two days...} and not broken exactly straight. {ahem....}

but it worked out fine. 

j added some m&m's next to each of the kit kats on the edge. {can you tell that HE did it? he didn't pay attention to varying the colors.... and that drove me NUTS!!!} 


it was yummy. or so i'm told!

the hubbs wisked it off to work before we cut into it. probably a good thing... or at least that's what i keep telling myself.
{PS. i "won". not that everyone voted. but everyone ate it. i'm not trying to keep score or anything... but right now it's me-1/stewart-0}

Sunday, August 21, 2011

project life explosion.

okay, so i promised a MAJOR project life post.

and here it is. complete with almost 40 pictures!!!!!!

i wanted to show my 'process'. because people think that it's more complicated than it is. or that you have to have stuff out all the time or it is going to be a huge mess... or that you don't have room. or no time.

but you're wrong! and i'm going to show you!

some people have asked about how 'expensive' this habit is. it's not.

first thing's first. if you have no idea what project life is, WHO ARE YOU? i'm just kidding. if you seriously don't... it is a product created by becky higgins to make documenting your life EASY. and i mean EASY.... and creative and fun! i promise. she and her brilliant design team are already getting ready for next year - and i believe that her products will be posted sometime this fall {hooray!} and highly recommend her kits! until they are available though, you can go here and check out what i recommend to get started NOW!!

okay - onto the good stuff.

all of my 'supplies' are kept in the box that my kit came in. it's the perfect size.

today, i'm just going to share the most basic supplies that i use every week. and honestly, although it looks like i have a lot in this box, i really don't bring much more into it than what is below. i have stamps that i love - but i've gotten over trying to make it more complicated.

if i have time for it, great. but most of the time i don't. so it's just the basics.

here's my box, opened. i have a huge ziplock that i keep all of my essentials in.

i currently have two 'mat stacks'. they are stacks of 4.5" x 6.5" sheets of paper. perfect for my behind my pictures. {the picture pocket pages have slots for 4 4 x 6 pictures. i will go over why i need any paper at all in just a sec...} i have a solid pack & a printed pack. both are from joann fabrics when they were 40% off.

my paper cutter. from target.

i use a mini stapler for most of my 'adhesive'. i got it at target, i believe. the only reason it's mini is because i bought it a long time ago when i didn't have any drawer space to put a full size one. {besides anything that's 'mini' is cuter, right?}

i also have this glue stick that i got from joann as well. it says 'restick' glue but whatever. i just picked the cheapest, biggest glue stick. i don't use this a ton. but i'll tell you about that in a bit.

i LOVE LOVE LOVE these double sided sharpies. i got a three pack at office depot a while back when i was just getting started. be careful though - they have double sided ones that have chisel tips... and this is just the fine tip & broad tip.

i also just added a red sharpie to my collection.

this is my corner rounder. nothing special - and i don't remember exactly where i got it from. one of the craft stores, i'm sure. but the corners match up great with the becky higgins pre-rounded stuff.

{side note: if you aren't using any of becky higgins paper products for your project, you really don't have to round the corners. i, personally, like the way it looks... but it's just a thought!}

one of the first things i got when i started project life {before my hubby caved & bought me the kit for mother's day...} was a pack of 100 journaling cards that fit into the middle section of the picture pocket pages. i love the grid.

i, however, do not use these as much as i anticipated. i usually make my own from scrap paper i have OR i cut my pictures to fit in there. it's all personal preference. i actually think she's out of these, but keep checking back, she's about to restock a TON of stuff!!

alright - this is my GO. TO. PAPER. i don't know if you can see it well, but it's 'kraft paper' cardstock. i got a pack of 25 from hobby lobby and i still have about half of it left. i use this every week & sometimes - exclusively for the week! i LOVE it.

so this is what my layout looks like at first. the top left is a pre-cut card from my becky higgins project life kit, which i highly recommend to get next year. if you don't have the kit - you can always make your own 4 x 6 card and write the date on it - or even type it out! or put the date in the middle... it's UP TO YOU!! yay!

i begin with my pack of pictures.

i get them developed at my local wolf camera. on tuesdays & wednesdays they have a special on 3.5" x 5" pictures - they're 6 cents each. and the quality is better than what i've gotten anywhere else. {they also have a recent special on 5 x 7's on those days as well for 50 cents!}

a few answers to questions on this:

i get them that size simply because it's cheap. if i got them printed at a normal 4 x 6 size then i wouldn't even need the scrapbook paper to be behind them. they'd simply fit in the slots. it would eliminate a whole step... but i kind of like the color it adds to my page. but my best advice is to keep it simple - and maybe start out with the 4 x 6 pictures and see if you have time to add one more step in there...

also. i tend to get all of the pictures i like from the week developed. not just enough for the page. there are a few reasons for this - one is because if i really like the pictures, i will create an insert with extra pics. two is that if they're generic pictures {like eating breakfast, going for a walk, etc...} i can save them for a week that i don't have a lot going on, or i've dropped the ball in taking pictures.

*gasp!!* "you don't always put it in the exact order it happens????"

nope. rules {or at least these rules...} are meant to be broken! make it work for you!

my whole goal in this project is to "capture life as i know it" right now. and if my pics are off by a week or two... it doesn't matter. we're still doing the same thing, and when i look back at it when i'm in my rocking chair old & gray, i won't even question if something happend august 22nd or august 1st. i am NOT worried about it.

i also tend to have a 'collection' of items from throughout the week. this one included the pottery barn catalog {which i didn't end up using} but i was going to talk about how all of the 'fall' stuff came out this week!

first, i do a 'general' layout of what pics i want - to make sure i have enough to fill the space, etc.

{i'm just laying it out on TOP of the page protectors - i'm not putting anything IN pockets yet}

then i start cropping, if necessary.

i've found that if you're cutting pictures {or any items} to go in those middle slots - it's easiest to cut it slightly smaller than 3" x 4". {if you zoom in on my picture, you can see that's where it's marked...}

after getting anything cropped that's necessary, i round all of my pictures.

and then lay them back down to see what i have.

then i pull out my mat stacks and crop a half-inch off of the long side & the short side to make it 4 x 6. and round these corners. {again - if you have 4 x 6 pictures already - you skip this step completely!}

then i pull out my mini stapler and go to town stapling the pics onto the paper.

i tend to only use the glue stick if my paper is two-sided {all the becky higgins paper is} and i intend to use the other side on my next layout spread. {does that make sense?} i don't want the back of the staple showing on the other side of my paper...

if i plan to journal a bit on one side, sometimes i'll move the picture off-center.... like i did here.

so now this is what i have. {this time i go ahead and put them in their pockets.}

sometimes i stop here. and come back to add the journaling part. but since i was taking pictures just for you - i just decided to go for it!

i used a piece of  brady's 'art' from this week and made a 3 x 4 card from it... then wrote on top of it about how we're experimenting with 'markers' at our house... and doing well, i might add. love those circles.

i also cut out a piece of my starbucks 'sleeve' and stapled it to a white grid journaling card.

then i take my sharpie and start writing whatever comes to mind, really.

i save my scrap paper... i've collected this over YEARS, i'd say... but i hate throwing away perfectly good paper. this is where i tend to get the scraps i staple onto my pictures!

i really don't think about what paper looks best behind what picture. i find that the less "pre-planning" that goes into it, the better i like it. the only thing i pay attention to is trying to stay away from pink paper behind pictures of brady... that's for daddy's sake! :)

sometimes i use scissors and cut my scraps out - and they're imperfect. just the way i like it.

sometimes i use my paper cutter - especially if i can't find my scissors at the exact moment i need them.

and sometimes i round the corners of my scraps... it just depends on my mood.

and that's it!

next week, i'm going to time it - for all of you naysayers out there!! i want you to know that it can take literally take you 10 minutes!! think about that! 10 minutes for a treasure you'll have forever!! and that your kids are going to LOVE to look at!!

i know everything is digital these days, and don't get me wrong, i LOVE to blog... and love looking at blogs. but there's something awesome about having a hard copy... something about being able to pull out these pieces of 'art' and touch them, look at the real pictures & scraps of life. i love it. love. it.

{thank you terri for making me bite the bullet & start!!!}

Thursday, August 4, 2011

i have a secret.

we've been on vacation!

all week!

and it. was. fabulous.

lots of resting. and surprise, surprise... NOT a lot of reading.

this year ended up looking a LOT different for me than previous years.

but i'll talk about that later. when i get around to editing the pictures. {my most favorite part!}

right now, i'm getting ready for a shower for a sweet friend that we're having at our house tomorrow. there is lots on my list of things to do today - and here i sit, procrastinating. with my blog. my coffee. and zac brown on the today show.

regardless... i'm slow moving this morning. slightly sunburnt. slightly sore from the drive yesterday and my eyes are still slightly crossed from finishing the help yesterday in the car. {ah-mazing book... all 525 pages of it.}

so - instead of clearing my head & talking about our fun vacay, lyle style & amazing food.... i will share some pictures with you that i was completely head over heels about taking. this precious girl is a senior at pca & her mom, lisa has 'mentored' joanna & i for two years now. {do you have a mentor? do you even know what i'm talking about? i'm SO thankful to have lisa in my life to challenge my faith, my marriage & my mothering!! so UNBELIEVABLY thankful!}

anyway - camryn wanted some 'fun' pictures - and i offered to snap a few for her... being the novice photographer that i am. {which i made PERFECTLY clear!!!} i love how they turned out.

***disclaimer: i am NOT pretending to be a professional photographer, nor am i trying to be. it is a hobby... and i enjoy it. that is all. i just wanted to share these with you because i think camryn is a beautiful gril inside & out - and i am so honored to have captured that on camera!***