Nailed it!


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?”


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.


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

Note: I’m submitting this to the Paper Issues Let Me Espresso My Gratitude link party.

A perfect autumn day


In my opinion, there’s no better way to celebrate and appreciate the wonder of the fall season than to be out in nature.

In Austin, Texas, there are often whole autumn seasons that are rather colorless. We don’t have a lot of the types of trees that change color in a bold way. Add to that the fact that many of our summers are too dry to offer the right conditions for great color change in the ones that can.

But we are fortunate to be only a few hours from Lost Maples State Natural Area, where there is a combination of steep limestone canyons, springs, plateau grasslands, wooded slopes and clear streams. It features a large, isolated stand of uncommon Uvalde bigtooth maple, whose fall foliage can be spectacular.

Each fall I track the fall foliage reports offered on the park’s website, and Matt and I try to make the trip (thought it doesn’t always happen, as it is about three hours’ drive). The photos on this layout are from November 2013. It was a perfect day to go on the strenuous five-mile hike to see the colors and take photos. What a great way to get out of town and revel in the beauty of nature!

Product/technique notes

The background paper is from the Fancy Pants “Happy-Go-Lucky” collection, and the other patterns are from October Afternoon’s “Apple Cider.” I embellished with stickers from Echo Park’s “Reflections Fall” and “Fall Fever” collections and added some hand stitching to bring out the turquoise in the patterns.

Meeting the girls


Isn't little Ella adorable?

A few days ago I shared a layout about an old friendship of ours with a man named Jeremy, who both Matt and I worked and were friends with several years ago. Today’s layout features photos of Jeremy’s family from last November when they came to town. It was the first time we had met his new wife, Emily, and little girl, Ella. They were delightful.

Product/technique notes

I followed this sketch from the Creative Scrappers Birthday Bash and used papers mostly from BasicGrey and October Afternoon. I created the title on my Silhouette.
Creative Scrappers sketch I used

Baby I love your way


These lyrics from the Peter Frampton song, Baby I love your way, made me think of this little private island we saw on our cruise to the Caribbean in 2005.

The sixth sketch challenge has been posted at the new SCRAP & MUSIC challenge blog! Head over to the site to grab the sketch and play along. This sixth sketch came with the song “Baby I love your way” by Peter Frampton.

Scrap & Music sketch #6

My layout

I had to read the lyrics of this song several times before feeling a connection to any photos I have. Then it hit me: there was a little private island that we saw somewhere off the coast of Belize on the Caribbean cruise we took in 2005. I can remember us saying how much we would love to buy it. BINGO! And so I pulled out three of the hundreds of photos we took on that trip and strung them together with these lines as my title:
I can see the sunset in your eyes
Brown and gray, blue besides
Clouds are stalking islands in the sun
I wish I could buy one
Out of season

Product/technique notes

The background paper on this layout is from the October Afternoon “Midway” collection, and the other little bits are mostly from their “Seaside” line.

Once I decided that I wanted to use several lines of the lyrics from the chosen song, I knew the best/easiest way to achieve that would be to cut the text out of the background paper (with my Cameo) and back it with cardstock. Then it occurred to me that it would be fun to make each line of the title a different color, so that’s how this ombre effect came into being. I’m really happy with the juxtaposition of the ombre blue title with the oranges and yellows I used around the photos, mimicking the colors of the Caribbean!

The challenge

The challenges on this blog involve following the sketch and using a title on your layout with a line from the provided music. Below I’ve included the video as well as the lyrics for this song:

“Baby I love your way” by Peter Frampton
Shadows grow so long before my eyes
And they’re moving across the page
Suddenly the day turns into night
Far away from the city

Don’t hesitate
‘Cause your love won’t wait

Ooh baby I love your way (everyday)
Wanna tell you I love your way
Wanna be with you night and day
Moon appears to shine and light the sky
With the help of some firefly
Wonder how they have the power to shine, shine, shine
I can see them under the pine
Don’t hesitate
Cause your love won’t wait

Well don’t hesitate
‘Cause your love won’t wait
I can see the sunset in your eyes
Brown and gray, blue besides
Clouds are stalking islands in the sun
I wish I could buy one
Out of season
Don’t hesitate
Cause your love won’t wait

You make my heart sing


Just chillin' with Daddy in front of the television, March 1967.

This is one of those photos that I can just sit and stare into. It’s quite imperfect, as far as photos go—with the bad lighting, crooked angles and muddy colors. But it’s a beautiful photo to me.

It allows me a glimpse into Mom and Dad’s apartment before they bought the house I grew up in. In fact, some of that decor (the round table, tan chair, lamp, pocket watch under a dome and afghan) stayed with us for a very long time.

In it I get to see my dad as a 33-year-old new father, obviously pretty comfortable with the whole new baby thing. “Ain’t no big deal.”

And I really love that Daddy is acting as a human recliner for me as we watch TV together. Just look how well I fit in the circle formed by his legs and how he has me tipped back at the perfect angle for maximum viewing enjoyment. Speaking of that, what could we be watching, I wonder? I mean, it looks equally riveting to both a four-month old and a grown man. It must be something on PBS!

Product/technique notes:
I created this page following the sketch below from Artful Delight and products from American Crafts, BasicGrey, K&Company, My Mind’s Eye and October Afternoon.
PageMaps sketch