Being sick gives you lots of excuses for sitting around and not doing very much. I scrapped another card, this one to use as thank you notes for all of the lovely gifts we've received this Christmas:

Layout credits: Creative Memories: 'Gazebo' Digital Paper, 'Blush Blooms' Floral Overlay, 'Gazebo' Word Art; Digital Scrapbook Place 'String of Pearls': Round Vellum Tag, String of Pearls; Erica Belton for Digital Scrapbook Place: Purple Hydrangea; Ann Langpap for Two Peas in a Bucket: Swirl Border; Rhonna Farrer for Two Peas in a Bucket: Beaded Swirl; Amy Teets 'Sun Porch': Toile Brad

I think I'm flu-ish, but not quite sure. Feeling light-headed, tired all over. Sore throat, can't breathe, runny nose, cough. Thankfully, Dylan and Carys are totally fine now, and amazingly Thalia is still not sick. (Not that she didn't already miss over a week of school this semester for various illnesses.)


A Happy New Card for a Happy New Year

We canceled our trip to Dallas this week because all of us, except for Thalia, came down with colds this Christmas. It's such a bummer to be sick during the holidays. But we definitely don't need to spreading germs to our north Texas friends, so we're laying low at home and resting.

I took advantage of being stuck at home today by creating a "Happy New Year" card to send to our friends who we didn't get to send Christmas greetings to before. I hate forgetting anyone. This is what I came up with, using my digital scrapping software:

Layout credits: New Year 2006 template by Rhonna Farrer for Two Peas in a Bucket; Scalloped Vellum Tag by unknown artist (sorry!); Black/White Bow by unknown artist (sorry again!)

Yes, it's basically the Christmas card done up with a new year's theme. Looking at it right now, I wish I had changed the pics to black and white. Oh well. I'm trying to stick to my rule of not going back and messing with finished layouts! And from now on, I'm going to follow the example of other good scrappers and give credit where it's due for each digital layout that I post.

I uploaded and had them printed at Costco, so they'll be out in the mail soon, I hope!


Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night

We absolutely didn't get around to sending holiday cards to everyone who was on our list or had sent us one. It's been a strange holiday season; I've never been this lax or late in getting our cards out! Blame it on the sucky economy!

For all of you who took the time to send personalized greetings through the US or international mail or even to our inboxes, thank you so much for bringing Christmas spirit into our home. We love catching up with our friends, near and far, at this time of year. The girls especially love looking at photos of other children, even little friends they've haven't met yet. For those whom we forgot/lost your address/ran out of time, our apologies and this digital equivalent:

This is the actual card we mailed out until we ran out of time/steam. Hope you think it's as funny as we did!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah on this very special day to all! (and Happy Kwanzaa tomorrow!)

Melissa, Dylan, Thalia & Carys


The Birthday Boy

Dylan's birthday is December 11, exactly two weeks before Christmas. December babies have it rough--they're either forgotten altogether in the holiday frenzy or have to make do with a birthday/Christmas gift.
It's like that around here too.

We try to celebrate Dylan's birthday along with the holidays and usually invite friends over for a combined celebration. This year, we had a few friends on hand when Dylan blew out the candles (#38!) on his rather unusual cake:

Yes, that is a donut cake. A Krispy Kreme donut cake, in fact. Because I'm always making cakes for other people's birthdays, when our own birthdays come around at our house, we like to celebrate with something besides a cake! We usually go for an ice cream cake or cookie cake, but this year I decided to surprise Dylan with a donut cake. I got the idea from seeing Krispy Kreme wedding cakes online a few years ago. The donut cake actually is a pyramid of donuts, although that is not immediately evident in the photo. I used 2 dozen KK donuts (holiday themed), drizzled white and dark chocolate over the donut tower, and added fresh strawberries and blackberries. The kids could not wait for Dylan to blow out the candles so they could attack the cake!

I'm not sure if Dylan even ate his own "cake," but we did polish off all those donuts.


Practice, Practice, Practice

I played around with my new Creative Memories scrapbooking software tonight, instead of watching The Dark Knight with Dylan. Here are some of the layouts I came up with, using some random photos of Carys:

Carys's school pic last year . . .

. . . and this year's pic

I found that I like doing layouts in the 12 x 12" page size, although the digital scrapbooks are cheaper in the 8.5 x 11" size. Up to $30 cheaper in fact. Oh well! I've always scrapped on 12" paper so it's what I'm used to.

Nothing is more daunting than a blank 12" page, so for inspiration I pulled out some old scrapbooking magazines that I'd saved for future layout ideas. My second layout is based on one by Margaret Winters in Becky Higgins' Creative Sketches 2. Got my digital scrapping juices flowing!

It also took considerably longer to do each page this time because I played around with all the embellishment options! Buttons, ribbons, borders, stitching, overlays, doodles, endless hues of paper, etc. Addictive, no?

Thalia will likely have a fit when she sees these layouts and will want her own digital scrapbook pages! She loves paging through her traditional scrapbooks, but those aren't on the computer. Hmmm . . . what have I gotten myself into?


Jumping In: Digital Scrapping

All the photos we took documenting the first 3 1/2 years of Thalia's life (and there were MANY photos from 2001 to 2004) were all shot on a "traditional" 35mm non-digital camera. Therefore, we have rolls and rolls worth of photos in archival, photo-safe boxes of Thalia as a baby and toddler. Some have been scrapbooked in traditional scrapbooks and preserved in lovely layouts. Others lay in waiting.

In contrast, almost all of Carys's photos taken since she was born are digital, thanks to Dylan's parents gifting us with our first digital camera in 2004. It was great to have the digital camera and take unlimited photos of the new baby, but the downside of course was filtering through them and choosing the best ones to print. While I have printed some of the ones taken when she was a baby, the majority of the images exist only in the digital world. Therefore, Carys's photos have been in limbo almost since she arrived!

A few weeks ago I decided that it was too huge of a project to go through all of Carys's digital photos and print them off. So I decided instead to invest in some digital scrapbooking software. Digital scrapbooking has always fascinated me. The completed pages look just like traditional pages, only better sometimes. You get a dizzying array of papers and embellishments to choose from. More than I would ever have in stock in my home craft center.

I'm starting from the beginning with Carys's photos, so here is the first digital page I created with my new Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus software of the day she was born, May 20, 2004:

It took me less than 10 minutes to throw this page together, and this is after changing the background papers about 4 times. And the software has a gazillion page templates for when I'm feeling lazy and just want to pop the photos in. I did this page from scratch, but the other option is quite tempting as well. My layout doesn't have the bells and whistles I've seen on other pages because I haven't quite figured out how to add all of them without the page looking a little crazy. The beauty of the software is I can play around with it and learn as I go.

I still love traditional scrapbooking more though. I love using my hands and cutting, pasting, moving things around on the page. I get a real feeling of accomplishment when I've spent a half an hour on a page and it turns out great! I've still got a whole room full of real paper, stickers, rubber stamps and other embellishments for a traditional scrapbook, and I intend to create a traditional scrapbook for Carys as well. But for now, it's exciting to get my feet wet with digital scrapping and finally wade through the four years worth of Carys's pics!


Decorating for the Holidays!

Ha! We've (over)decorated our house for the holidays already, so I've added a bit of the holiday spirit to our blog! Thanks to Tracy for clueing me in to The Cutest Blog on the Block for their free blog backgrounds. It was so hard to choose just one! This one matched our color scheme perfectly.

I've also redecorated over at Who Are You Calling Little? and will likely do so at The Sweet Spot as well.

I also found out that you can do a similar facelift to your Facebook page, which is for your eyes only, but it was too complicated. Annoying FB applications!



Poor is the New Rich, Part 2

Photo from Google Images

We're back! We (that would be me) took a couple of weeks off from blogging after the marathon NaBloMoPo challenge of November. That was an exhilarating experience, got my blogging juices going, but was also the tiniest bit stressful. However, after not having posted anything in over two weeks, I realize how much I missed it!

Bear with me--I have something to boast about! Those of you who read our blog may recall our earlier post about our family's plan to ride out the recession. Dylan thought it was embarrassing to even write about our cut-backs because they seemed so trivial and shallow. After all, dropping a premium cable channel hardly merits a pat on the back. But I thought it was a funny and real snapshot of our family life so I didn't delete the post.

The funny thing is, it turns out we're not the only ones who are so blessed that we can merely cut back on the extras in our lives instead of giving up "real" comforts. Other families everywhere are already quietly doing the same or being encouraged to do so.

On Halloween, I was contacted by Kathy Peel, founder and CEO of Family Manager Coaching. My friend Tyra had given her the heads up about our "Poor is the New Rich" post. OMG, I was so surprised and honored when Kathy Peel asked to interview me! She is the nicest person. Her Family Manager website is awesome, full of great articles and tips. I couldn't believe it when she said she loved our blog! *small happy scream!* Anyway, the resulting article from our conversation appeared on the website for The Takeaway, a national morning show on National Public Radio (NPR). The audio from Kathy's appearance on the show, in the segment "How to Make Wise Spending Choices," can also be heard or downloaded from the site.

Five days after Kathy Peel's NPR appearance, Tyra also referred to us in her Dallas Morning News 'Briefing' column on the same topic. What a little thrill! *another happy scream!* Thanks for the anonymous shout-out!

It's not that hard to think of little ways to save some dollars here and there that don't hurt. Perhaps we'll reach the point someday where our sacrifices will hurt, but hopefully that day is still a long way off. I do know that all four of us are aware of what's been given up so far and that they were little luxuries, not necessities. And maybe one result of all of this will be that our kids will be more responsible about money, spending and budgeting than I have been. I don't recall ever knowing or discussing how much things cost relative to other things I wanted when I was a young child, but already our girls have that awareness. It's touching and sweet sometimes, their concern for how much something costs. That kind of lesson in itself is priceless.