Three candles

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There’s just not much that’s cuter than a little birthday boy with his cheeks puffed up to blow out his candles.

Today is my baby brother’s birthday. To celebrate and show Phil that I’m thinking about him I created a layout featuring an adorable photo from his third birthday in 1971. God bless you, my sweet bro. Who could ever ask for better? I love you more.

Product/technique notes

I really liked this sketch from Creative Scrappers (and am quite sad that they are ceasing their sketch contests later this month), so I followed it for this page. The background paper is an older one from Sassafras Lass; the banner is from BasicGrey’s “Hey You;” and the rest of the papers and die cuts are from Crate Paper’s “Party Day” collection. I created the title with a combination of Silhouette shapes and my own lettering.
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Dashing through the snow

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What a fabulous way to celebrate the cold Christmas season—riding in a horse-drawn sleigh to the sound of jingling bells!

I joined my parents and some of their friends in a freezing, spirited evening ride in a two-horse open sleigh back in December 1992. It was such a thrill to be living out the scenes we sing about in Christmas carols. We kept as warm as we could with blankets and laughter, and then ended the evening with steaming mugs of hot chocolate. This is such a magical Christmas memory.

Product/technique notes

I used this nice sketch from Stuck?! Sketches and papers from Little Yellow Bicycle’s “Winter Twig” collection. The title and one-horse open sleigh die cuts are from the Silhouette store. Puffy stickers are from SEI.
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Note: I’m submitting this to the Paper Issues “Say it ain’t snow cold outside” link party.

Nailed it!

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Have you seen the hilarious images online that show a perfect Martha-Stewartesque project alongside someone else’s wonky attempt to recreate it, labeled with just the words “Nailed it?”

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Today’s layout tells my own “nailed it” story.

It was the Thanksgiving of 1994—our first since moving to Chapel Hill, NC—and my 28th birthday. Mom and Dad were hosting the holiday, which included Aunt Mary Lou and Earl from Pennsylvania in addition to our family of four. Just days before turkey day Mom had the brilliant idea of holding a pie-baking contest between Phil and me, which was a clever way of getting out of baking the desserts herself. ;-)

The gauntlet had been thrown down. Tensions were high as the two of us went to work looking up recipes and making shopping lists for our entries in the contest. Phil decided to go with the always popular (and a bit too obvious, in my opinion) pumpkin pie, while I fearlessly chose to try a new-to-me recipe for peach chiffon pie. I felt confident but nervous.

Aunt Mary Lou and Earl arrived. Everyone was excitedly catching up and in the good spirits of the holiday. Phil had already baked his contest pie, and it was my turn.

Now, those of you who only know me online won’t really understand unless I tell you just how much I like to talk. I am a TALKER. So while I was putting together the all-important pie crust, Aunt Mary Lou parked herself just to the end of the counter where I was working, and we talked. A lot.

I suspect that chemists don’t chat while they’re mixing chemicals, but that’s just a hunch born of my experience on that fateful Thanksgiving Day. At the very least I can conclude that were I a chemist, I should keep my mouth shut while measuring ingredients for my experiments. Are you picking up what I’m putting down here?

I put my crust in to bake and began the task of mixing the silky, sweet, peachy filling—which would be added to the crust and then baked again. At the appointed time I checked on my crust, but I was surprised to find that it hadn’t browned. At all. So I gave it a little more time. But extra time and high temperatures had no effect on the color of my crust. I finally shrugged off this bump in the road, took the pale crust out of the oven, added the filling and popped it back in for its second round of baking.

My confidence at taking home the blue ribbon remained unshaken at this point.

Fast forward to the end of the day’s feast. To a bit of fanfare Mom brought out the ballots and explained to the judges the categories upon which they should score the entries (appearance 10%, filling & crust 40% and overall flavor 50%). Phil and I were asked to cut and serve our pies after the judges had been given the opportunity to rate the appearance of each. Once everyone at the table had been served, the room quieted for the first bites.

My nerves did not allow me to take a taste right away; I was more interested in watching for the reactions of the judges. So I didn’t immediately understand why the room remained eerily quiet as they all chewed. Earl’s face reddened noticeably. Mom and Dad shot questioning glances at each other. Phil choked and spat out his mouthful. And Spenser the schnauzer hid under the couch after willingly taking the bit of crust Earl had offered him. But it was Aunt Mary Lou who finally broke the silence by blurting an expletive. And then pandemonium reigned. Everyone gagged and gasped and shouted over each other. They laughed. And laughed some more. I was crestfallen but finally took a tiny bite of my own pie. Oh myyy.

I had obviously switched the measurements for the salt with the sugar. The extra salt had kept the crust from browning on the first baking. And then it leached up into the peach chiffon filling during the second baking. What a fiasco—but a very funny one.

Of course, Phil won the contest. Whatever. He can have the blue ribbon. Because I have the honor of being the reason for one of the funniest family stories we have. To this day we still refer to that year as our Salt Pie Thanksgiving.

NAILED IT!

Product/technique notes

I followed sketch 281 from Creative Scrappers and mainly used products from October Afternoon’s “Apple Cider” line. I created my title using the Silhouette and used several stickers from the Carta Bella “Homemade with Love” kit.
Creative Scrappers 281

The key to great holiday decorating: The perfect centerpiece

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For a three-legged cat, Jake certainly knows how to get where he wants to go. In this case, I guess he wanted to be in the middle of my fall decorations!

He really is the cutest pumpkin ever, isn’t he?

I decided to scrap this photo during the week of Thanksgiving because it reminds me of how thankful we are for our pets. They love to be with us. They’re such good companions. They make us laugh. And they keep us from focusing too much on ourselves.

They’re our babies, and I’m ever so grateful to have them in our lives.

Product/technique notes

Most of the products I used on this were from Echo Park’s “Reflections: Fall” collection, with the addition of a few pieces of paper from way back in the day. That butter-colored pumpkin paper is an oldie from Paper Salon. I followed the inspiration of this November sketch from Stuck Sketches:
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Lucky 2

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As November’s guest designer for Back Porch Memories, I was asked to use a sketch from PageMaps to create one of my layouts. These supplies are mostly from Heidi Swapp’s September Skies collection.

It’s no surprise that I’m feeling like documenting some of the things I am grateful for in my life. My friendship with my baby bro certainly qualifies!

We have developed an awful lot in common over our lives together and always find something to keep ourselves entertained. For instance, these photos came about because we both love photography, and so we had a camera along with us at the mall one day this summer. While we waited for Mom to finish up in a store, we held an impromptu portrait session on the overstuffed chairs in the middle of the mall. What can I say? The lighting wasn’t too bad, and we are a couple of hams!

Product/technique notes

Following is the sketch I followed for this page. Most of the supplies are Heidi Swapp “September Skies,” with some Shimelle thrown in for good measure.
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