Sweet treats

Sweet treats is a scrapbook layout with three 1970s photos of my brother and me on Easter morning.

The Easter Bunny sure is clever. In 1970, when we were 2 and 3 years old, he found us at Nana and Papa’s house and left us baskets full of chocolate and little presents. Sweet!

On the back of the left photo of Phil holding up an Easter egg, Mom had written what he was saying when they snapped the picture: “A lello one!” So cute. :-)

Product/technique notes

I followed this Becky Fleck sketch from A Cherry On Top and used products from We R Memory Keepers’ “Farmer’s Market” collection.
The Becky Fleck sketch I followed for this layout

I believe in memories


In the left photo is my father with his sisters, Mary Lou and Frances.

The 24th sketch challenge has been posted at the SCRAP & MUSIC challenge blog! Head over to the site to grab the sketch, which I’m proud to have designed, and play along. This sketch came with the song “Better together” by Jack Johnson.

This is my final challenge with the Scrap & Music team. I have so enjoyed being a part of this new endeavor since it started a year ago. I’ve loved creating sketches for people around the world to use as inspiration in their scrapbooking. And designing with sketches and music together provides a real kick to the creative engine; I can highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it. Thank you to Scrap & Music for a great year! I wish them more and more success over time.

Scrap & Music sketch #24

My layout

I really like how looking at the lyrics to a song can force me to pull a layout together that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. As I was reading the lyrics to “Better Together” the line “I believe in memories they look so, so pretty when I sleep” jumped out at me. Obviously, I believe in memory keeping, so I thought about using a set of photos on this page that I couldn’t capture again.

In the summer of 2000, my father’s side of the family planned a reunion. We held it at my cousin, Robbie’s house in Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful day of togetherness, and we took a lot of photos. But before the day ended we pulled together some smaller family photos. The left shot is of my father and his two sisters, Frances and Mary Lou. The right photo is of my parents, brother, Matt and me. Because we have lost both my dad and my Aunt Bubbles (Frances) since this reunion, these photos are precious.

Product/technique notes

I used a combination of products from We R Memory Keepers’ “Happy Campers” and Lily Bee Design’s “Family Portrait” collections to create this page. I created the title in the Silhouette software and cut it on my Cameo.

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:

“Better Together” by Jack Johnson

There’s no combination of words I could put on the back of a postcard
No song that I could sing but I can try for your heart
Our dreams and they are made out of real things
Like a shoebox of photographs with sepia-toned loving
Love is the answer at least for most of the questions in my heart
Why are we here? And where do we go? And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy, and sometimes life can be deceiving
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s always better when we’re together

Hum… It’s always better when we’re together
Yeah, we’ll look at the stars when we’re together
Well, it’s always better when we’re together
Yeah, it’s always better when we’re together

And all of these moments just might find their way into my dreams tonight
But I know that they’ll be gone when the morning light sings
Or brings new things for tomorrow night you see
That they’ll be gone too, too many things I have to do
But if all of these dreams might find their way into my day to day scene
I’d be under the impression I was somewhere in between
With only two, just me and you, not so many things we got to do
Or places we got to be, we’ll sit beneath the mango tree now

Yeah, it’s always better when we’re together
Hum… we’re somewhere in between together
Well, it’s always better when we’re together
Yeah, it’s always better when we’re together

I believe in memories they look so, so pretty when I sleep
And now when, when I wake up, you look so pretty sleeping next to me
But there is not enough time
And there is no song I could sing
And there is no combination of words I could say
But I will still tell you one thing
We’re better together

I heart trying new recipes


I cooked this crazy-good Moroccan chickpea, kale and couscous recipe when Phil was in town last December.

I really love the process of reading through recipes, imagining the ingredients coming together to make flavors and textures and then choosing and making one. It’s quite gratifying for me to finish cooking something new. And I love hearing feedback from those I serve it to (usually just Matt, but on the day represented in these photos my baby bro was in town, too).

In fact, I like this process so much that I hardly ever follow a recipe twice. Sure, we have our standby meals that we make over and over. But the ones I try from a recipe book are usually one-timers, even if we love them, because there are just so many out there to try!

Product/technique notes:
I created this layout using this cool sketch from the Paper Bakery blog, and I’m entering in their sketch contest. The patterned papers are from We R Memory Keepers.
Paper Bakery's sketch by Juliana Micheals

Me and my peeps


Don't you love the floppy ears and carrots?

In 1973 when Phil and I were in Mom’s kindergarten class that she held in our basement (described in this post), we always made a big deal of the holidays. For Easter we all made our own bunny ears to wear, and then Mom captured our cuteness in this photo.

Here’s what I love most about this adorable moment that Mom captured:

  • How some of the paper ears are flopping over.
  • That Mom handed us each a real carrot as a prop. I wonder, did we eat them after the photo was taken or put them back in the bag?
  • My outrageously cool go-go boots. Can you get over how stylish I look in those, paired with that little aqua dotted-swiss dress that Mom sewed for me? I doubt I’ve ever been that cool again.

Product/technique notes:
I created this page following the sketch below from PageMaps, and I’m entering it in their Imaginisce sketch contest. The products are from WeRMemory Keepers and My Mind’s Eye. I had a great time tucking those little peeps die cuts in here and there, and that title makes me hoppy!
PageMaps sketch

Trap-Neuter-Return gone awry

National Feral Cat Day 2012

Alley Cat Allies launched National Feral Cat Day® on their 10th anniversary in 2001 to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return and recognize the millions of compassionate Americans who care for them. Feral cats are domestic cats (like pet cats), but they have had little or no contact with humans, and so they are fearful of us and cannot be adopted. Their home is the outdoors. And there is a simple way to help them: Trap-Neuter-Return. This program ends reproduction, stabilizes feral cat populations and improves individual cats’ lives. The behaviors and stresses associated with mating—pregnancy, yowling and fighting—stop.

The basics of Trap-Neuter-Return (also called Trap-Neuter-Release) programs include:
Trap: Humanely trap all of the cats in a colony (a group of cats living outdoors together).
Neuter: Take the cats in their traps to a veterinarian or clinic to be neutered, vaccinated and eartipped (a universal symbol indicating they have been neutered).
Return: Return the cats to their original outdoor home.

I have written on my blog in the past about the fact that Matt and I participate in animal rescue in our area, and we believe in the good that TNR programs do for both the feral cats and the community in which they live. So, when the beautiful and spirited (read really aggressive) tomcat in my layout below “moved into” our back yard a few years ago and started scaring off most of the other animals we regularly saw and fed, we decided he needed to be TNRed. It was for his own welfare as well as that of the other animals.

We did it all: trapped him (which always makes me so nervous), took him for checkup/vaccinations/neutering and then after he had recovered, released him back into our yard. We actually quite liked having him around—just wanted him to be safer and less aggressive—so we hoped that he would stay in our area. All went as planned for Gandalf (named after Gandalf the Grey in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy).

Until my brother, Phil, came for a visit from North Carolina shortly after we had gone through all this. Phil had been seriously considering rescuing/adopting a cat. But instead, in a surprising twist, he fell for Gandalf (who he renamed Willie (for Pittsburgh Pirates’ home-run hitting hall of famer, Willie Stargell)) and flew him home, thus ending Willie’s era as a feral cat! I called this layout “TNR gone awry” because Gandalf/Willie’s story did not end as we had expected; I think the actual ending is much sweeter.


Willie is Phil's homeboy.