new today

Two new kits today.
Love Song Journaling Cards - 10 designs in b+w and color as well as additional brush images $4
Chevol Paper Pack - 12 papers $2.

On Friday, I'll select one commenter to win both kits!

ALSO, Two Peas is having a 20% off sale on a huge variety of Valentine and love themed kits today through Monday the 6th INCLUDING my new Love Song cards.

Also on sale, My Funny Valentine Brush Set and Love is in the Air Mini Kit.


project life...in progress

I'm working on a more substantial project life post but part of the process I'm slowly developing includes using some pre-made photoshop templates for planning my pages. I'm doing a mix of traditional/hybrid/digital but since the beginning of time (or, since the beginning of my scrapping life, and long before I ever thought of digital scrapbooking) I've always planned pages in some type of editing program (way back when I first started...almost 10 years ago (!) I used Microsoft Picture It) before actually constructing them.

Marcy Penner has some fabulous printables for a variety of page protector styles. I downloaded them, printed them in a mini book format and bound them using this technique to toss in my purse - perfect for waiting in the car for the boys to get out of school!

Once I have a basic plan though, I need to work it out in Photoshop...adding the photos and text into the spaces until I'm satisfied. That's where these templates come in. I created these for the mish mash of We R Memory Keepers and Project Life template styles I picked up. There is a seperate png file for each of the 12 styles I have. I added a tiny margin to make sure they would fit once I printed and slid into the protectors. If you can use them, you can download here.

Also, the winner of my kit releases from this past Tuesday is:

Please email me Marty so I know where to send the files!


new today and a quick tutorial

Three new [tiny] kits today...each just 99¢

Date Slims

Journaling Cards

Paper Mask

I'll give all three kits to one of you! Just leave a comment, any comment, and I'll choose a winner Friday!

Now, for the tutorial. I wish I could figure out how to get better at screen capture videos but screenshots will have to suffice. Also, I'm all self taught so I'm adding a disclaimer that my methods may not be the best or most efficient but they get the job done!

I designed those Date Slims because I wanted something that I could staple to the edge of my pl page protectors. Something that would add a little continuity and make it easy to find a specific week. I wanted *mine* to look like white ink on kraft paper though so I'm going to quickly show how I took the file from the Date Slims kit and modified to suit the look I was after. You can download my 8.5x11" kraft paper jpg HERE. Just an FYI that this kit includes a blank label file as well so you can customize the dates if you're working a different format than Sunday - Monday.

Open the date slims file and the kraft paper file.

Activate the Rectangular Marquee Tool (keyboard shortcut M)

Draw a rectangle selection around week 1 and then click Edit>Create Brush from Selection

You can name your brush if you'd like but it's not necessary. If you're creating a lot of brushes at once (and especially if they'll look similar in a thumbnail like these week images will) then naming makes it much easier to identify the brush you want.

Switch to  your kraft paper file, create two new layers, and stamp week one and week two on separate layers.

Rotate one of the layers 180° and position as shown.

Merge both layers together by selecting both (hold the shift key while clicking on both layers) and clicking ctrl+E.

Select your kraft layer and while holding the ctrl key, click on the *thumbnail* image for the label layer (click on the actual picture - not the layer name)

At this point, you'll see the marching ants (animated dashed lines) that indicate you've made a selection. Click ctrl+J to create a copy of the date labels from the kraft paper.

Here you can see the new layer that was created in the previous step.

Drag your kraft layer to a new white canvas to print.

OK, so maybe not such a quick tutorial but I'm not a natural teacher and have a hard time figuring out the best way to demonstrate the steps. If you have questions, leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer them!


Chinese New Year

image from here
Today marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon. An auspicious occasion since *I* was born in a previous dragon year. And we can all see how well that worked out for me :)

The Year of the Dragon is supposed to be the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac. A time of great change and opportunity. I haven't shared a lot on this blog about our current situation but needless to say, we're due for some positive change and opportunity. I'm not superstitious, I don't believe in astrology, but in this case, I say bring it on Dragon!

Of course, we had to look up the zodiac sign for everyone. Turns out, the signs pretty closely mirror personality.
  • I'm the quick-tempered, independent loner Dragon.
  • Carlos and Izzy are the loyal, sociable, passionate pigs. (also, if you know anything about Izzy, this fits her on a gustatory level as well.)
  • Jake is the popular, quick-witted, talkative, anxious horse.
  • Zack is the inventive, inquisitive, factual, manipulative monkey (also fits him due to the fact that he is, indeed, a monkey! I find him hanging upside down off the top bunk of his bed pretty much daily.)
In honor of the day, we had to have Chinese for dinner. We tried a new recipe tonight and it is absolutely, without a doubt our new favorite and go-to tofu recipe. The original recipe came from here (totally making the scallion pancakes they have on their blog sometime soon...maybe the next time we have the general tso's) but I modified it a bit to make it vegetarian and use supplies I had on hand.

Yes, that's tofu!
Here is the recipe I ended up going with per my modifications:

2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 C vegetable broth
1 T soy sauce
1 T mirin
2 T hoisin sauce
2 t sriracha
2 t sesame oil
3 T sugar
1/2 C cornstarch
1 block firm tofu (pressed for about an hour)
oil for frying
minced garlic (I don't have a measurement for this...go with what you like, I typically add a lot more than what a recipe calls for because I LOVE GARLIC)
1 T minced ginger
1 t red pepper flakes
3 chopped scallions (white and green)

  1. Marinate cubed tofu in apple cider vinegar for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients: veg broth, soy, mirin, hoisin, sriracha, sesame oil, sugar and 2 t of cornstarch and set aside.
  3. Toss tofu with salt, pepper and cornstarch coating the cubes as uniformly as possible. Fry in a bit of oil until crisp. Keep an eye on it and give it a shake/stir often to make sure all sides brown. Drain on paper towel (I did my tofu in 2 batches so the pan wouldn't be too crowded.)
  4. Dump the remaining oil so that the pan still has a thin coating. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions and red pepper flakes sauteing for 30 seconds or so.
  5. Add tofu back to pan and stir in sauce to coat the pieces. The sauce thickens up quickly and turns into a delicious sticky coating.
  6. Serve with stir fried broccoli and brown rice.

Seriously, this was amazing. I strongly encourage you to make it...tofu or chicken or even beef would be great if you're a meat eater. Or, just make some of the sauce and spoon it directly into your mouth.


kit winner


Please email me and let me know which new release kit you'd like!


project life stash builder one

So, since I'm tackling project life from scratch and not using a kit, I have a lot of work to do to build up my stash of page building elements. This is a super quick and easy way to dress up plain labels. I plan on using these to date and caption photos.
1. Grab some label sheets.
2. Arrange your labels on a sheet of printer paper.
3. Open your grid file (I saved this one as a PDF - you can download it from here if you'd like)
4. Print as usual. You're done! I threw a sheet of those hole reinforcements on just to see how they'd turn  out. Kind of fun...I'm sure I'll be able to work them in somewhere.


baking for grandpa: January

My dad is impossible to buy for. Not in the traditional way of being hard to please or picky or ungrateful but rather in the opposite way. No matter what you give him, he is happy and thankful. Just never in that WOW-what-a-perfect-gift kind of way that I strive for. Not every gift can be perfect, I know, but just once I want to blow him away with something totally unexpected. (I actually have had an idea for years and years but it's completely out of my price range. Someday though, when I'm independently wealthy, I'll be able to do it :)

Needless to say, Christmas is most difficult for me when it comes to choosing a gift for my dad. And this year, finances as they are, I decided to try a different tack. I gave simply but with intent and the promise of time. A card, some delicious lemon cookies, and the promise that for each of the following 12 months, I would make something for him and hand deliver it to him.

My dad and I live only 45 minutes apart but neither of us are great at keeping in touch on a regular basis (no ill-will or bad feelings...we're just similar in that we're not overly social...at least I'm not) Every time we connect, we both express a desire to talk again soon...on a more regular basis...a "how has it been 2 months since we talked? kind of thing.

My gift to him was a promise that I will make the effort every month to think of him, what he might like, and purposefully visit him, IN PERSON, to catch up on family and work and life in general.

He LOVED it. He gave me the best reaction of any gift recipient of the holiday. Phew.

So, yesterday my assistant and I set out to make grandpa his January treat. Tomorrow we'll deliver it and have a great visit and chances are, he'll demand that we stay for lunch.

This month, we made chocolate pomegranate cookies. They were good (honestly though, I think I'd prefer less chocolate -gasp- and more pomegranate) and easy (seeding the pomegranate - by far the most time consuming step.)

this is how we roll on lazy days at home...striped pants, long sleeve t from halloween and princess socks
when chocolate in involved, craziness ensues
I don't have a fancy schmancy kitchenaid so I had to use my decades old hand mixer. A quick warning (I can't be the only one with a jurassic era mixer) that stirring the dry ingredients into the wet resulted in my motor seizing up a bit at the end (the smell of burning plastic isn't all that appetizing...great when you're trying not to dip into the chocolate chips!) It was a thick and dense batter but the cookies weren't dry - I was worried!

The results were pretty though. Hope he likes them.


new today

In the past, I've never really shared my "work" stuff much on the blog. Since my work stuff has been consuming a lot of my time though (and, since I seem to be posting on more of a regular basis) I thought I'd try to remember to post my new digital kits each Tuesday (that is, each Tuesday that I actually "have" new kits) and maybe give one away as well.

So, my new releases today:

journaling cards - all 3x4"
more journaling cards (and these are FREE)
and a 12x12 template (that could easily be cropped to 8.5x11" if that's your thing)
I'll pick one commenter on Friday that can have their pick of one if this week's releases. Have a great day!


playing with paper

I used to be a scrapbooker. When my boys were babies, I would do a layout almost every night after they were asleep (seriously.) I'm so lucky that something I loved so much led me to Two Peas and BHG and all of the opportunities after. Early on, I had three scrapbooking goals: to be a Garden Girl, to be on the BHG Creative Team and to have an article published. I've been fortunate enough to have accomplished all three goals thanks to the support and encouragement of friends and simply being in the right place at the right time.

One of my earliest GG pages...and a good reminder for me right now.
These days, I am so happy to be a contributing editor for BHG and a digital designer for Two Peas. I love writing, I love designing. I really enjoy digital scrapbooking and have done it exclusively for the past couple of years. Most of my paper supplies are packed up in storage waiting for the day that I finally figure out what to do with all of it (the school can only handle so many donations!)

Lately though, I just haven't had it in me to scrapbook at all. I have been designing though and that's something that comes in fits and spurts - I have to take advantage of the momentum when it finds me. And I've been doing some journaling cards and such that seem to work well with project life. And that has me *thinking* about project life. Which is something I haven't done ever before.

Of course I've admired some of the incredible pl projects that have been shared - Glue, of course, for her ingenious technique, and organization and ideas for filling your pages with memories. And Liz for her amazing aesthetic and ethereal photos that make everyday moments seem like magic. And Kelly for her funkiness and enthusiasm and ability to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can be single and childless and still document an amazingly fulfilling life (oh how I wish I scrapbooked in my single years!) And Cathy, for always keeping it real and honest and being a design goddess. And all of the others that I've seen in passing but never really studied because, you know, I was never going to actually *do* pl.

But I've been craving paper lately...so I indulged myself by making those journals I mentioned in the last post (by the way - congratulations Janneke - you are the winner :) Please email me your address and I'll get them in the mail asap!) and putting together little embellishments for etsy. It's not enough though, I need to scrapbook again. And record actual stories again.

When I look back in my gallery, the layouts I did years and years ago are still, and will probably always be, my favorites. Cardstock. One or two embellishments. And the handcut titles and accents. Oh - I miss the handcutting! I really want to get back to that because I love those simple  stories and designs most of all.

Enter project life. I resisted because like Nicole, I am resistant to all things current and popular. Be it scrapbooking or books or music or TV. I'm stubborn as a mule and though I realize that sometimes, things are popular because they are GOOD, it's a hard habit to break.

I'm going to give it a go though. I'm not saying it here because I plan to share every week or even to hold myself accountable but simply because like scrapbooking, this blog was intended to be a place to record stories and thoughts. And right now, I'm thinking that this project is a good way to satisfy my paper craving and get some stories recorded. Because it will never be 2012 again. And because my kids will never be 9 and 7 and 3 again. And even if I peter out halfway through, halfway is better than nothing.

If you need to find me, I'll be neck deep in playing catch up for the two weeks I'm behind.


quick hand bound mini journals: tutorial

A few weeks go, I shared this instagram of some journals I made for my sister and had a few people ask for a tutorial. Finally, I'm getting around to doing it! These are really easy and though they may look labor intense, they can be done really rather quickly (especially if you do a bunch at a time and have a little assembly line going.)

You really only need a few supplies. Your cover material (I used kraft cardstock...because you can never go wrong with kraft cardstock.) Your inside pages (these have 20 pages so you'd need 10 sheets of paper to cut in half. Recycled or ledger type papers would work great as well!) If you're doing the peek-a-boo cover like I've done, you'll need some type of patterned paper or pages torn from a magazine. For these, I used pages from a yarn catalog. For my sister's set, I used landscape scenes from an Urban Outfitters catalog - they worked fabulously! To bind the journal, a needle and thread or embroidery floss.

First, trim your cover to 5.5 x 8.5" and cut your title from the cover. I made up a set of cover templates for you to download. The file includes the two shown ("now" and " "to•do") as well as twelve months. The placement is random (you can kind of see in the photo of my sister's set) because that's how I like them. If you aren't comfortable with an exacto, these titles are all chunky enough that they could easily be done with fine tipped scissors. You can grab the files HERE.

Now trim your inside pages to the same size as your cover. If you want to get a bit fiddly (totally unnecessary), you can trim them to different sizes so that when the journal is folded, the paper edges don't extend past the edge of the cover. For instance, for these journals, I first cut the 10 sheets in half and then progressively trimmed off a 1/16" sliver from the edges to the following sizes: (2) 8 1/2 x 5 1/2" (2)  8 7/16 x 5 1/2"  (2)  8 3/8 x 5 1/2"  (2)  8 5/16 x 5 1/2"  (2) 8 1/4 x 5 1/2"

Fold everything and collate your cover, patterned insert and pages together.

Now you need to punch holes to bind the pages. I find the center of the pages (10" in the photo) with my ruler and position everything on a foam pad.

Punch the first holes through all of the pages.

Punch four more holes for a total of 5 - each spaced 1" apart from the next.

Thread your needle. I double up the thread before threading the needle so there are a total of four strands.

Using your threaded needle, pass through the top hole (inside or outside of the journal makes no difference and proceed in the pattern shown.

Wrap the needle around the end of the journal and into the first hole, threading in the opposite pattern of the first pass.

To finish, tie off both ends of the thread with a couple of knots and trim off the excess. There is surely a neater way to do this but I like the look of the loose ends and it holds up to regular use well.

Since I did a couple of these journals for the tutorial, I'm happy to send them to one of you :) Just let me know in the comments if you're interested in them and I'll choose someone Friday! Here are the completed journals:


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