Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Project Life 2013

Hi all! It is a cloudy, but warm day here. It feels weird to see 65 degrees on my weather app given that we are in the middle of winter. When these things happen though, I do get tempted to put summer clothes on only to be let down the next day or so because we will be right back down to the 30's, if not, even lower temps!


Since the weather has kind of been yucky since Sunday, I have been doing most of my work in the craft room and getting caught up with stuff, especially my Project Life album. I have been doing a lot of editing and resizing in the past couple of days. It's usually fun if you only have like five or ten photos but when you have more than a hundred, it sucks! And it only gets worse  when you are like me, I get into this zone where so suddenly I get action-crazy. So I get stuck staring at my computer screen for at least three hours editing and resizing photos. But that is just the nerd inside me. I love making use of my gear until they all fall apart. I get my money's worth [well, really, my husband gets his money's worth] that way. He is my very generous financier. *winks*


I have been a scrapbooker since I learned how to glue things into stuff. Although I didn't know what to call the stuff I was doing to my composition books and planners in high school, I have been an art journaler! My friends and I would draw random shapes in random colors on each page and just go crazy with them until we fill the whole spread up. It's just sad that I never did keep any of the books. They didn't have any value to me then because it was just an outlet to let certain feelings out. And, I was in high school, and young and reckless. 

It was in college when I got into scrapbooking. For some reason, I am drawn to very creative people. Towards the end of our college gig, we decided we were going to build a scrapbook of our experience as obeservers and student teachers, document all of our community  outreaches [this is a requirement back home], and just put into words all that we felt in the last five years. However, we didn't get to keep them either because the college dean thought it was such a great idea that we did that so to have examples for future students she kept them. My college buddies and I were pretty tight with our College Dean. She kind of mothered all of us all through the five years we were there. 

I am still a scrapbooker to this day, however, I have found a system that really really works for me, Project Life. And this time, I am keeping all the books! :) It was kind of hard in the past few years to get any scrapbooking done, because we were either moving or renovating the house or doing other stuff. I had known of Project Life since it came out because I am a nerd and I am constantly on the internet looking for new things to try. But I didn't commit to it until my birthday last year. I vowed to never waste a moment.


I started doing it weekly like most, but I found that it was more comfortable for me to do it pretty much every three months or every season [summer, fall, winter and spring]. The only down side to it is that you do get a lot of photos to edit and print if you are like me and just keep RAW files on my computer until it's time to put them in the book. 

I love Project Life because it will work no matter if I do it weekly, or monthly or  daily. It is also easy. Last year, when I started I really didn't buy the core kit. I just ordered the page protectors and got to work. I used my digital scrapbooking stash to digitally make my journaling cards, fillers and title cards to keep the cost low while I am still seeing if I was going to stick to it or not. It required some work, but I was willing to do all that to keep from investing on something that I will eventually quit. But after almost a year of  doing it, I have decided, I am sticking to it.


I don't take photos just so I could look at them on my computer or post them on facebook, or keep them in flickr or the iCloud. I take them because they reflect what life looks like to me at the moment, they tell a story about how I am feeling at a certain day and what we are doing to our house or why we are changing or keeping things. It is my life. It is John's life and mine mashed up in a book of photos and funny, sometimes sad, and mostly crazy stories on the side without worrying about composition, page design or what elements to use. I just get out what I think I need, I stamp here, I stamp there and, voila! All of summer is done! I also do a lot of die-cutting, heat and dry embossing... because this girl is a tool addict.


There are also a ton of free stuff out there, like the journaling card above, I downloaded that for free as PDF files and you just print it and cut them out. They are pre-sized to fit the pockets so there's no measuring involved.


The stamps I use, I already own. I am very fond of Ali Edwards stamps, you can get them from Technique Tuesday or Archivers [both the stores and online]. I usually get mine from the store, every time I get a coupon in the mail, I am there buying Studio AE stamps. :) But really, you can use whatever you already have, there are no rules. 


I enjoy outsourcing, but I do print almost all of my photos at home to save me time and money. I have an awesome CIS (Continuous Ink System) that I got last year right before I started Project Life. We got a new wireless Epson Artisan printer to replace the older all-in-one Canon that we had. It wasn't wireless and when we switched from PC to Apple computers, we saw no need to be hooking up anything to our desktop so we saved up some money and got a good wireless Epson printer. :) But right before we went through the ink tanks that came with our printer, my inner nerd kicked in to gear and got to looking for a much affordable way to print at home because when you are married to a teacher, worse, a band director the printer never sleeps! But that's okay, because that's what we got the printer for in the first place.


So in my search for the best way to be printing at home, I bumped into the CIS systems on amazon. Our printer has 5 tanks. To buy all of them it was gonna be around $80-$100 for the good quality ink. Whereas if I bought the CIS system, it would cost me $40 [on sale price] upfront and maybe that will be it for a while just until it is time to refill. So soon as I saw the price go down from $79 to $40, I jumped all over it. One year later, we are still 3/4 of the tanks full! And the pictures come out absolutely like they were supposed to. The CIS system by the way is composed of tanks that sit right by your printer, they hold all the ink, then it has these little adjoined tubes that go into the cartridges in your printer. It's like I.V. for your printer if that makes sense! lol It is best for printers whose cartridges do not travel or move while a print job is being done. The cartridges in our Epson Artisan printer are all stationary so it works for us.

I just make sure that I buy the Epson photo paper. This is one thing I don't actually cut corners with. I have tried many photo papers before and so far the Epson brand is the best, in my opinion. I get them from Amazon. It also helps that I have a Prime membership so I get them in one or two days. :)


However, if you just want to order photos, I personally love Persnickety Prints. I've ordered digital 12x12 pages from them before and the prints were awesome! :) But if you are in a hurry, going to the drugstore won't hurt either plus they also give you coupons with your print orders. So that works too.

For some, it may be a hundred different things, but for me, memory keeping keeps me aware of what's going on around me. Looking through all the photos and reading all that I wrote makes me thankful, it reminds me about how good I have it compared to other people. It makes me happy to see that I have been blessed with all these wonderful people in my life. Memory keeping most of all keeps me humble. Looking back five or six years ago, John was in the pits and given that I was married to him, I was in the same place as he was. How we crawled out of that hole was by the grace of God. And how we got to where we are now, is a miracle worth celebrating every single day.


My books do not just consist of good times... There are bad times in it too, except most of those go into my art journal that no one has seen. 

John and I have come a long, long way. Looking through all the books from years past, gets me teary. Everyone always told us we make a good team, and we didn't believe that until we pulled ourselves out of the rut we were in. It also helped that along the way, we have met such great friends who have pulled for us since day 1 and with the support of a great family, there was no way we were losing  any battles. :) And I am soooo glad I documented all that because every time I get to feeling awful, I look through my books and I feel fine... Whatever it is that was getting me down, I knew, it, too, shall pass like everything else we have had to go through.


So for the year 2013, I am set. I did order the core kit this time for a more cohesive look. I am still going to do it three months at a time because this works well with my schedule. This doesn't mean I won't be taking pictures every day because that is like NOT eating to me! lol I may however change the way I print my photos, I will probably start printing at a regular basis so I don't get stuck with 158 photos to edit and resize all at the same time.

Memory keeping is so fun because it IS a form of counting your blessings. Can anyone be any more thankful when you are saying it with pretty paper, some artistry, great heartfelt writing and awesome photographs? I don't think so. *winks* 

Bring it 2013!

Friday, January 25, 2013

25 Random Things

Hello friends! Thank God it's Friday!!! This week has been nothing but work, work, work. And I am glad that the weekend is here. I've been working on my 2013 to-do list. I know, I'm getting started early. John and I usually wait until spring, but as I was looking at my list the other day, I saw a couple of things that I could absolutely do by myself [i.e. painting walls, re-organizing closets, you know the easy stuff!] and that's how I got started.

Also, I have been very contemplative and silly lately and I've been thinking about stuff that I do and choices that I've made then and now that are just so weird [refer to #5, #6 and #7]. So I got to working on these 25 Random Things About Me, and maybe some of you are just like me or maybe the total opposite. :) But, who cares? This is just for fun!

1) My blog has a new look! And, I finally got my own domain. It is now cookbakesewcraftrepeat.com

2) I did not used to know how to sew. 

3) With a little help and encouragement from family and friends I can sew now.

4) I am working on re-upholstering a piece of furniture

5) I don't like pink

6) But, I have a pink craft room

7) I own pretty much all Apple [Mac] products but I will never buy an iPhone

8) I love everything that is wireless or cordless, mini, and anything jarred

9) I adore paper lanterns. Fact: I have 3 in my craft room, all lighted, too

10) I haven't gotten the flu this year without getting the flu shot

11) I choose tech gear and more practical gifts over jewelry or flowers

12) I chose a new roof for a wedding gift over any other stupid material thing

13) I was given a house for a Christmas gift one year [our current house]

14) i have always had an obsession for pens and markers

15) I hang out with a funny bunch of senior folks every Wednesday

16) We don't drink any soda at our house

17) Crocheting is a new skill I just recently added to my repertoire [Thanks to my Mom-In-Law for being such a patient teacher!]

18) Design-wise, nothing in my house stays the same longer than 6 months.

19) Christmas is my favorite holiday

20) Every time it snows, I put on my shorts, t-shirt and flipflops and I get out and run around in it for a good 5 minutes [in my backyard of course!]

21) On Sundays when I can't go to church, I feel really weird. 

22) I can bake and cook like you won't believe but I don't eat any of what I make

23) I rarely answer phone calls. Text me! Only very close friends and family's phone calls get answered.
24) I am still allergic to anything alcoholic

25) I love love love love being my husband's wife. :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm Back!

Oh how great it is to be back in blog-land! It has been a while friends and I am so happy that I have finally gotten the chance to sit down and relax.

My excitement for the holidays have brought me into this hiatus. Spending every day pretty much doing what I do every day anyway except when I baked, I baked in huge batches because I get extremely generous during the holidays. It all felt great! Also with all the baking, I also did a lot of sewing and broke both of my sewing machines while I was making my own table napkins. Yes, both!


I had picked up a set of napkins at the store before I decided to make my own but the white seemed boring. Then I went and looked, but none suited me. So I made my own! And I love the punch of color it added to my table.


I did end up with six chairs before the holidays came so I added to the whole repertoire as the holidays drew near. I busted out all our silver, goblets, apothecary jars, and everything we have that shimmers and all that smell good and set the table like we were hosting a fancy dinner every night. But really, the reason why I did this is because other than I want the table and the kitchen to look pretty all the time, I also want to discourage people from throwing their stuff on my table, cluttering it. It is a pet peeve of mine. *winks*


So other than our cat, Voodoo, no one has had the guts to mess up this pretty set up. Nobody dared touch the fragile stuff either, not even John. He is the bearer and the spreader of all clutter in this house. :)

During my short hiatus, I also managed to host a few dinners with teenagers and adults both and a new year's eve party, learn how to crochet [now working on an afghan] and managed to get a very brand spanking new sewing machine for Christmas! I had such a wonderful time during the holidays hosting parties and having people over and sharing great food. There is nothing better to do but this.

Keebler elves. :)
My girls Natalie and Megan making cookies for the other kids that were coming to our Ugly Christmas Sweater party.
Thumbprint cookies... Just because. :) they have a tasty ganache topping, and strawberry perserves i made in the summer.
Thumbprint cookies with a strawberry preserve topping and chocolate ganache

I also shopped... a bunch! This fruit bowl is an awesome buy from Crate and Barrel. I got it when we had to go to the actual store to pick up one of John's gifts for me at the store. :) You can see the bottom of said gift in the background. He got me the piano white clock!


Here's John attempting to eat a whole pie during Christmas morning. He did eat the whole pie by the way.

This boy loves him some coconut creme pie. 

And here's said clock from John hanging in my kitchen! I love weird- looking things.

@crateandbarrel @cbstlouis clock has a new address. Thanks to my sweet love who got it for me. :) 

And then, it snowed. Then I was happy. I love snow. But it's not nice to be stuck... So...

Staying in for the day... going to enjoy all the prettiness from my craft room window while I work on a couple of projects. 

the awesomest Dad ever came to the rescue and brought the snow blower so we can get out of our garage. :)

John and Dad snow blowing our drive way. #awesomedadtotherescue :) 

Snow is sooo beautiful at night. I enjoy taking pictures of it and of the things it covers.

It's sooo pretty outside! :) 



I also got a new phone. If you ask John he will say "Yeah, she stole my upgrade." I did take his upgrade but I didn't steal it, but given the circumstances I did steal it. My phone broke four months before my contract is up. 


And, yes, I do listen to a lot of Puddle of Mudd and other noisy things. The creative part of my brain functions better with noise, the kind I like. And I love my Samsung Galaxy S3.

Our very festive black forest cake. #nye #dessert
NYE dessert
And she is up. :) #sydney #light #chandelier #craftsroom
My wonderful husband put up a new light for my craft room.
Loving the new glass top on my desk. I've been playing with glitter and paint on here dumping it everywhere coz I dont have to be careful anymore! Best Christmas gift to myself ever! :)
The best gift for myself ever! I got me a glass top for my craft desk so I don't have to worry about dumping paint or anything on it.

Piped pillow covers in the works. :) #diy #sewing #piping #fun
I knew he was not coming home empty handed tonight. #fender #stratocaster
John binged one day at the Guitar Center and bought him a guitar
Also, during the holidays, I have been wanting to re-do the pillows on my sofa but couldn't quite figure it out how I could do that because I was very sure I wasn't buying new pillows because I already have a ton to start with. So, I decided to I was going to venture into making pillow covers with piping. Since I moved to the states and realized how expensive it is to have anything tailored to your liking, I made it a point to learn and hone every skill I have in my arsenal and do whatever it takes to get good. I'm just thankful, I have a husband and a whole family of supporters and encouragers. 

And she is finished. :)

You wouldn't know me to be a Susie Homemaker looking back 7 or 8 years ago. A lot has happened since then. I have grown up and have realized there IS more to life. My priorities have insanely changed and my outlook has widened way beyond I thought it would after I got married. And I am loving every single second of it all. There is not a better feeling knowing that what I do matters a great deal and I am grateful for all these gifts I have been blessed with that I didn't know existed until I married the most wonderful, most supportive man. He is really handy too and he is the reason why I could pull off most of the things that I do. :)

So I am back. I'm hoping to post more recipes and projects on here very very soon.

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