My 3 Monsters: June 2011

Recent Posts


In Which I Return to Painting Murals

OK, so . . . my vow to never paint again was quickly forgotten when several new job offers came in from my favorite client.  The one I was working on today is for a childcare location -- kind of a fairy tale theme.  Here's just a rough drawing I did for that one:
I thought it might be fun to make it look like the wall was crumbling away and you were looking through to a fairy tale world.  Now that I see it, I might rather just do a more traditional take without the hole in the wall thing.  We'll see.  I'm really excited for the next one -- a Venice canal scene for a dining room wall.  It's going to be really artsy-fartsy and super fun to paint.  No drawings of that one yet.  I spent the day out at Cub Scout day camp yesterday in the 115+ degree heat and came home pretty sick.  A girl can only do so much, after all.



I'm taking an entire day to get back on top of my housework.  It feels good to just decide to do that, and nothing else, for a whole day.  I look grungy and I'm sweatin' like I've run a marathon.  I've been up to my elbows in fridge-gunk and dirty clothes.  And I love it!!   My home and family have been falling to the bottom of my to-do list for the past few weeks and we have been in survival mode.  I HATE survival mode.  I just took a breather to pay some bills online so I thought I'd compose a clever post here, too.  Turns out I thought wrong.  I may not be clever today, but boy are my floors sparklin'!  Have a great day!



To: All Household Team Members

From:  Mom (CFO, Senior VP, Head of Maintenance)

Subject:  Kitchen usage during Summer schedule

As I'm sure you are aware, due to our current summer schedule the staff kitchen is seeing much heavier traffic than usual.  I feel it is necessary at this time to remind all crew members of the guidelines regarding kitchen usage.
  1. The kitchen appliances (other than refrigerator} should only be used during designated meal times.
  2. Designated (and reasonable) meal times, as determined by the management  are as follows:  Breakfast:  6 a.m. to 9 a.m.  (to accommodate  for differences in shift starting times.)   Lunch:  11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  and   Dinner:   5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  3. Please try to coordinate your meals with your team members.  (eg. if you would like to make  macaroni and cheese, you might ask everyone else if they would like to share a box with you.)  This will eliminate food waste, decrease water consumption, and alleviate dish pile-up in the sink.
  4. Dishes used during meal preparation should be rinsed out and placed in the sink for further cleaning.  Please do not leave dishes anywhere other than the sink.  The desk, coffee table, arm of the couch and counter tops in any room are not "close enough" to the sink to count.  
  5. Likewise, the phrase "I'll get that in just one minute" should not be used as it relates to removal of dishes from aforementioned locations.  A DVR has been provided for your convenience, therefore waiting for a commercial to rinse dishes should be unnecessary.
  6. Furthermore, if you allow the dog to lick the remnants of food off of your dishes, the dishes are neither a) clean nor b) the dog's responsibility.  You must still return these dishes to the sink for further cleaning.
  7. If you are hungry at times other than designated meal times, you will find prepackaged snacks in the pantry.  Perhaps you would also occasionally consider the fruit bin in the refrigerator as a reasonable source for snacks.
  8. As dinner is often provided by the management at no cost to you, please check with the manager on duty before consuming anything after 4:00 p.m. to be advised of dinner's ETA.

    Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.  I feel that following these guidelines will result in a much happier and more pleasant workplace for all involved.


    Playing With the Big Kids

    Hey everyone!!  I'm guest posting over at Tatertots and Jello today and tomorrow, sharing some of my favorites from the Weekend Wrap-Up Party.  I'm telling ya' -- Dream. Come. True!

    P.S.  I've spent all week updating  my Etsy shop and adding cute new headbands, onesies, and custom digital printables.   Come on over and have a look around!


    "Would You Rather . . . " Road Trip Fun

    One of our favorite games to play on road trips is "Would You Rather . . ." which usually spins off into its sister game "What if . . . ".  I know you can buy versions of this game in the stores, but isn't it so much more fun to rack your brain and come up with scenarios of your own?  Last week, driving home from Snowflake, we came up with a whole new round of questions.  {I'd love to hear some of your answers in the comments!}
    So . . . Would You Rather:
    •  always have really bad breath or really smelly feet?
    • drive your dream car or live in your dream home?
    • walk with a limp or speak with a lisp?
    • attend the Olympics or go to the Super Bowl?
    • have a below average IQ and an above average income or have an above average IQ and a below average income?
    • {Men} carry a manly purse or wear capri pants?
    • have your dream job and have no friends or have a job you hate and have really good friends?
    • have bad teeth or bad acne?  {to be fair, I think at one point in my teens I had both}
    • have a designer wardrobe that is just small enough to be uncomfortable or a completely un-stylish wardrobe that is comfy?
    • give up meat or give up sweets?
    • have to grow all your own food or make all your own clothes?
    • be famously good at one thing and stink at pretty much everything else or be just OK at everything you try?
    • be your ideal weight and have to wear your current clothing size or stay your current weight and get a whole new wardrobe?
    • have always-cold hands or always-cold feet?
    • always have a top-of-the-line iPod and unlimited free access to the entire iTunes store BUT never see another movie again in your life or have free tickets, best seats in the house, to any movie ever BUT never listen to music again in your life?  {this one took my husband a full 24 hours to answer}
     Enjoy your summer road trips, friends!


    Yummy Summery Goodness

    The boys went to the drive-in movies last night to see some of those so-not-interesting-to-me summer blockbusters while Sis and I chilled at home catching up on So You Think You Can Dance and Pretty Little Liars.  Hey, don't judge.  It's called staying hip or bonding with your teen or no brain required time - all absolutely necessary for mental health.  What better time to whip up some candy popcorn?!  OK, so actually I didn't get around to it because I was making b-day crepes and b-day dinner and cleaning the ever-loving mess of house we live in, but I thought about it all day a couple times yesterday.  It would have been the perfect compliment to the "We're so sorry to tell you . . . {dramatic pause} . . . that you MADE it . . . {pause} . . . into the group which is going home . . . {pause} . . . to pack your bags . . . {pause} . . . and come back . . . {pause} . . . to NOT dance . . . {extra long pause} . . . on another show, because you made the Top Twenty!" revelations we endured.  So let's just pretend that I did in fact make a couple batches shall we?  I probably will today because now I really can't stop thinking about it.  And for-sure we'll be taking it when we watch fireworks on the 4th.  I'll get my act together by then . . .

    When we had our Youth Film Festival at church last month I set up a retro-style snack stand for refreshments.  Remember when we were kids and there were gourmet popcorn stores  in mall food courts?  And they had delicious sour-cream and onion popcorn and that crunchy vanilla or raspberry candy coated popcorn that they colored to match the seasons or holidays?  I loved those stores.  I found some awesome recipes for the film festival that I have made several times since.  They are easy and quick and take me right back to my ten-year-old happy place.  Enjoy!

    {click images to enlarge then right click to download and save to your computer - if you want to, that is)
    * For the Sour Cream and Onion popcorn, just sprinkle a S.C &O. powdered dip mix {or Ranch if you prefer} over fresh hot buttered popcorn.  Delish!


    Heaven Help Us! {There's a Teen in the House}

    Today we officially enter a new phase of life -- the teen years -- though it seems like we've been there for years.  My baby girl turns 13 today.  She's been tormenting her father for weeks with the fact that in 3 short years she will be driving.  And dating.  He keeps telling her to shut up about it.  I don't blame him.  First of all, neither of us are ready to embrace the idea of "losing her" in even the smallest ways.  Secondly, and most importantly, neither of us feels a day older than 25, so how is it possible that we have a teenage daughter?!  She's a pretty great kid, though.  We don't ever have to worry about her integrity or her intentions.  In fact, today she is most looking forward to getting her Facebook page.  Yes, we asked her to wait until she was 13 so she wouldn't have to lie about her age.  And she ACTUALLY obeyed us.  Yeah, I know!  I don't know if many people know this, but Sydney has been involved with the Peer Tutor program at her school this past year.  She gave up one of her elective classes each semester so she could go and work with the special needs kids.  She spends time getting to know them one-on-one and accompanying them as they go to their electives.  It was a life-changing experience for her and she plans to participate again next year.  I am so proud of her selflessness.  She has taken that tremendous attitude stubbornness passion from her younger years and channeled it into all good things.  We love her to pieces!  In honor of her birthday, here are some clips of her singing in Snowflake last week.  Remember that I recorded these with my cell phone, which only records in 30 second increments, so the songs are a bit choppy and the sound quality is poor. And so is the picture.  I'm really selling this video, huh?  Enjoy!

    video video

    Happy Birthday, baby girl!!  Hope it's a great one!


    Growing Up

    This was Riley a little over a week ago as he boarded the bus to go to diabetes camp.  He seemed so small to me.  He and I were both a little unsure about the decision we had made for him to embark on this grand adventure.  I had never sent my "baby" away for more than a one-night sleepover before.  He wasn't going to know anyone.  But it felt right somehow, even necessary, so we let our ten year old walk away from us that day and into the unknown.  We spoke of him often during those following seven days -- Was he having fun?  Would he come home with his pump in a new site?  What do you think he's doing right now?  I thought of him even more often.

    As several of us at home fell victim to the flu bug going around throughout the week, we wondered {and I worried} that he would get sick, too.  We checked the mail every single day, hoping to get a letter, realizing that no news was probably good news.  He was having too much fun to write, right?  No phone calls meant he wasn't sick or injured -- surely the doctors would call if he were.   Saturday afternoon just couldn't come soon enough.  I was a little bit giddy about seeing him again as we waited for the bus to arrive.  I met another mom who was as giddy as I was waiting in line for our cabins to be called so we could go get our kids.  Her son and Riley have the exact same birthday.  Odd.

    When we were finally called, we walked down the hallway, turned the corner and there was our sweet boy . . . only different somehow.  Taller, tanner, calmer, more confident.  Older.  Was it really only a week he was gone?  He was saying goodbye to all his new friends as we picked up his extra medical supplies and paperwork.  I've written before about how glorious it is to see your child really in their element, loving their life.  That was this moment for me with this kid.  He talked the whole way home about his adventures -- shooting rifles, archery, horseback riding, vaulting {who knew? -- he rode a horse standing up and learned to do a complete 360 in the saddle of a moving horse}, playing soccer, getting thrown up on at 3:00 a.m.  We stopped for lunch on the way home and he told us all about the delicious food, the pranks, the nick-names and the Choose Your Own Ending books they read during siesta every day.  How he slow danced with a 15 year old girl and had his hair painted green at Vegas night.  All about his counselors and med staff.  On and on.  Brent and I were captivated, hanging on his every word.  Where did this awesome kid come from?!

    Since he's been home I continue to be amazed.  He wears his pump in the back of his arm now {something he never would have considered before, but which he will tell you know is the only way to go}.  He draws up his own insulin and preps his pump all by himself when it needs to be changed. I heard him telling his siblings yesterday how he even inserted his own infusion set one time.  Blow me away.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to adequately express my gratitude for the people who changed my son's entire outlook on life last week.  Or for the opportunity he had to attend this camp.  Or for this blessed boy who is my son.  Looks like we'll be selling cupcakes again to pay for two camps next summer.  And it will be worth every single cotton-pickin' minute I have to spend in the kitchen!


    Holy Moly, Would You Look at That?!

    I'm feeling a little bit like a celebrity today.  I mean, my kids have always thought I was "famous" because I published a book {it's just my blog and only one copy ever, whatever . . .} and they can't believe that someone in New York wants to sell my onesies.  They make me feel pretty dang cool most of the time around here, but this is kinda' legit.  My friend Tausha {whom I have never met, but we read each others blogs and e-mail occasionally and I feel like I've known her forever because of it} wrote a glowing review of this here blog of mine in the online magazine The Barrel of Blogs.  I mean, for reals, it was so nice I'm blushing a little bit.  Head on over and check it out, and while you're at it check out Tausha's blog, too.  Sometimes when things seem too good to be true, it's just your lucky day.

    Also, Riley comes home today!!  I'm sure he has had a fantastic time, but life  has been a little strange without him here.  I look forward to hearing all about his adventures.

    Also, we spent the day in Snowflake, AZ yesterday for a little concert in the park organized by our friend Shiela.  Sis has been taking voice lessons from Shiela for a few months now and she performed a couple songs last night.  It was good, good fun.  I took some video {with my cell phone) that I'll post as soon as I get a chance.  We really enjoyed the whole day.

    Hope you're having a great weekend, too!


    Digital Scrapbooking on the Cheap - Part 2: Simple Scrapbook Project

    So, you've downloaded Gimp and some digital scrapbooking kits, right?  No?  Go back to Part 1.  I'm not just speaking to hear the sound of my own voice, people. {Yeah, right.  I'm a mom.  That's what we do, isn't it?} If you have, good for you!  Now we can make our first project together:

    A simple 12x12 inch scrapbook page.  Yours will not look exactly like mine, unless by chance we happen to have all the exact same digital elements on our computers, but we probably don't because I created some of these things myself. {That's another lesson for another day.}  You can pick all of your elements for this project from one single kit, which is probably a good idea because designers work hard on those kits so that everything goes together.  But to me that is akin to walking into a furniture showroom and buying everything in a display that is matchy-matchy.  I don't really like it.  I like to mix and match to get a less "put together" look so no two elements I used were from the same source.  Because I'm difficult to follow like that.  As we add each element to the project I'll let you in on the source as best I can and link to it, if possible. Ready, OK!

    1.  A quick word about Layers.  As we put this project together, imagine you are actually creating a scrapbook page the old fashioned way.  You'd have one piece of paper for your background, at least one other paper to mat your photos, the photos themselves, and your cutesy embellishments.  You'd lay them all out on your page, overlapping them to make it pretty and then glue it all down.  Digital Scrapbooking is very much the same.  Everything you add to your project will be a new layer.  Each of your layers can be moved independently until you get the layout you want.  When you are ready, you can glue objects together by merging the layers.  Easy cheesy.  When Gimp is open on your computer screen you will have three windows open.  The big window in the middle will be your project.  The other windows will be your Toolbox {which I like to leave to the left of my project window} and your Layers/Channels/Paths box {which I situate on the right.}  You can move all your windows around to get a layout that is comfortable for you.  Whew!  Still with me?   Another thing to remember:  If at any point you are working on this project you don't like what you've done or something funky happens, go up to Edit and click Undo in the drop down menu. That is probably my most used operation in Gimp.  It's a lifesaver!  Got it?  Let's go.

    2.  Create a new project in Gimp.

    {You can click on all these images to enlarge for easier viewing}

    At the top of your project window click on File then click New in the drop down menu.  When you do this the "Create New Image" box will pop up, as pictured above.  This is where you set the finished size of your project.  Something to think about here:  Are you going to be printing this image when you're finished?  If so, you need to find out what resolution is required from your printing source.  I ALWAYS have my images printed at Costco because they are fast, affordable, and really good quality.  So, when I begin a project I check the Costco photo resolution chart.

    I want a 12x12 page to fit my imaginary album so I will need to create a project that is 1380x1380 pixels.  Enter your dimensions in the pop up box and click OK.

    3.  Let's start at the very beginning - a very good place to start. (Sound of Music, anyone?)  We'll build this project from the background up, so let's pick a background.  Go up to File again and this time click Open in the drop down box.  A box will open up to let you browse your computer to find your digi-scrap kits and find the paper you want to use for your background.  The weathered wood paper I am using is from the Sugar Sands Beach Wood Paper pack. {I actually paid for this pack because I loved it sooo much.} Once you have found the file you want, open it by double clicking.

    It will open up in a new window. Click on that to make it the active window.  {Notice how your Layers window changes to reflect the layers of the active window.  Cool, huh?}  The file you opened is probably 3600x3600 pixels, which is a pretty standard size, but too big for us right now.  We'll magically shrink it.  Can't do that in old fashioned scrapbooking can you?!

    Making sure that your background paper is your active window, go up to the top and click on Image.  Then click on Scale Image in the drop down menu.  The Scale Image box will pop up to allow you to resize your paper to fit your project as shown above.

    Change the width and height to match the dimension of your project (1380x1380).  You'll notice that the two dimensions are locked together so if you change one, the other will change automatically.  This keeps the image from distorting.  There's is a way around that, but we don't want to do that now.  Put 1380 in each box and click Scale.  Did the image shrink?  Yay!

    Now we'll copy and paste this image onto our project window.  With your background image as the active window hit CNTRL A {to select all} and CNTRL C {to copy}.  Click on your project window (called Untitled 1.0 for the moment) to make that the active window now and hit CNTRL V { to paste}.  Hopefully your background image just appeared on your project. Look at the Layers window now.  You should have two layers listed - the first will say Floating Selection and the second will say Background. We want to glue the background paper down to the project because we like it.

    Right click where it says Floating Selection and click Anchor in the drop down menu.  The Layers window should only show one layer now - your chosen background image as Background.  Does it?  Yay!

    Now, because Gimp is a little picky like I told you before, you'll want to close your other window {the one with the shrunken paper}.  Click on the X of that window.  When a window pops up asking you to save changes click Don't Save.  {If you save here your pretty paper will be forever shrunken, which is not cool.}

    You do, however, want to save your project at this point.  Go up to File, click Save As in the drop down menu, give it a name and add .jpg at the end.  Click save.  When the Save as JPEG window pops up, set the Quality to 100% and click save again.

    4.  Let's add a photo to the mix.  I'm going to stop and say here that I am not a photographer.  I have a junky point and shoot camera which I almost always forget to bring so many of my photos are from my cell phone, like the one I'm about to use.  If you are looking for tips on how to edit and beautify your photos you are in the wrong place.  Sorry, Charlie.

    OK, second verse, same as the first!  Go up to File and click Open in the drop down menu.  Browse to find the picture you want and open it up.  Click on this new window with your photo to make it the active window.  Just like the paper, this photo is too big for our project.  Use your shrinking magic again by going up to Image and clicking Scale Image.

    This time you get to choose how big you want your picture.  You can just kind-of guess because we can adjust it later if needed.  I'm going to set my width at 750 {just about half the total size} and see how it looks.  Click Scale.  Did it shrink again?

    Time to move it over to your project.  Hit CNTRL A, then CNTRL C.  Click on the project window to make it active and hit CNTRL V.  Did the photo appear?  Look at your Layers box - there's that Floating Selection again.  Right click on that.  This time click New Layer because we're not ready for it to be stuck down just yet.  You now have two layers in your layer window - Pasted Layer {your photo} and Background {your paper}.

    I like the size of the photo so I'm going to leave it as is, but I don't like the placement.  Look in your Toolbox and find the tool that looks a little like a compass {four diverging arrows] and click on that.  Now you can click on the photo and drag it around your project until you get it where you want it.

    Save your project again .  From now on all you have to do is click File then click Save in the drop down menu.  When the box pops up, click Export and you're good to go.  Close down the original photo window and click Don't Save.  {Permanently shrunken photo = not cool.}

    5.  And the fun begins - Let's start to make it cute.  That photo needs a mat and you know what to do. Go to File, click Open, find another paper and open it up.  Oops, too big.  Go to Image, click Scale image, set the width to 850 {or whatever dimension you want, as long as it's larger than the largest dimension of you picture because we want it to be bigger than our photo}, click Scale and, voila,  your image shrinks.  Hit CNTRL A, CNTRL C, switch to project window and CNTRL V.  Right click Floating Selection in the Layers window and click New Layer.  That was fast!  {That cute turquoise polka dot paper I used is from Rainamoon Scraps and is from the Stuff to Scrap "Bouncin' Beach Balls" blog train.}

    Your paper covers up your photo, but that's OK.  Move the paper underneath the photo by reordering your layers.  Click on Pasted Layer #1 {your mat paper}in the Layers window.  Drag it underneath Pasted Layer {the photo}.  Your picture shows again, right?  Holla!

    Let's move the mat now and crop it to fit the photo, shall we?  Make sure your mat layer is the one highlighted in the Layers window .  In your main project window click and drag the paper where you want it.  You'll notice the paper is square and your photo is a rectangle.  Maybe you like that.  I don't, so I'm fitting the paper around the top of the photo and the excess is at the bottom.   Trim off the excess by clicking the very first tool in your toolbox - the rectangle select tool.  Click on the excess portion of your paper and drag to create a box.  You can adjust your box size by clicking and dragging any of the edges.  You can also move the entire box by clicking in the middle and dragging it around.

    Situate your rectangle over the portion of the paper you would like to remove.  It's OK if the box overhangs the edges of the paper - you don't need to be exact.  Hit CNTRL X {to cut}.  Did the extra paper disappear?  No?  Make sure you have the correct layer highlighted in the Layers window.  Correct any mistakes by clicking Edit and Undo like we talked about before and try it again.  If your mat placement needs a little adjusting, switch back to your Move tool (the compass one) and click and drag it into place. Nice!

    Once you are happy with the placement of your mat, let's glue the photo down to the mat.  Right click on the photo layer in your Layers window and click Merge Down in the drop down menu.  Those two layers are now stuck together, but they are not glued down to the background.  They will move together now instead of moving independently.You with me?

    6.  Give that project a little dimension!  We're going to add a little shadow behind the mat to make it look like it would if it were actually a matted picture sitting on a piece of paper.  Drop shadows are that little extra sprinkle of fairy dust that make your projects come to life, if you ask me.  The first thing you'll want to do is go up to Select and click None in the drop down menu.  If you don't do that, you'll end up putting a little shadow behind that excess piece of mat paper that you just removed which will look really bad.  No magic fairy dust, just bad.  So do that, then make sure your matted photo layer is highlighted in your Layers window.

    Go up to Filters, go down to Light and Shadow in the drop down menu, then click Drop Shadow.  In the pop-up box, uncheck Allow Resizing and click OK.

    See the little shadow underneath and on the right edge of your matted photo?  Cool, huh?  Remember in Peter Pan how Wendy has to sew Peter's shadow to his feet so it won't get away?  We need to do that here, kinda'.  In your Layers window, right click on the matted photo layer and click Merge Down.  Now the shadow is attached to that image and they will move together, should you need to adjust the placement of your photo. This is the process you'll follow whenever you want to add a shadow to your project.  While it is not strictly necessary, I ALWAYS merge my image with its shadow.  And I always think of Peter Pan when I do.

    In your Layers window you will be back down to two layers -- one called Drop Shadow {your photo layer} and Background.  Ahhhh!  We're getting there.

    7.  Continue, continue . . . It's all about the embellishments from here on out folks and this project is about to get a whole lot cuter!  I think we need to add some staples to hold that picture down, don't you?  {This staple is from the Shabby Princess Plentiful kit. Love that color combo.}You know the drill by now:  go to File, click Open, find your image and open it up.  Whattayaknow -- too big, but we're not quite sure how much too big.  Let's copy it {CNTRL A then CNTRL C} and paste it into our project {CNTRL V}.  Make it a new layer by right clicking Floating Selection and then clicking New Layer.

     Yep, that's pretty big.  Make sure your staple layer is highlighted in the Layers window then go up to Layer in your project window.  Click Scale Layer in the drop down menu.  In the box that pops up, change the width to 100 and click scale.  Your staple will shrink.  If you don't like the size, click Edit and Undo then try again.  Select the Move tool {the compass} and drag your staple where you want it on your image.

    Now, I think I want another one just like that for the other corner of my picture.  Here's how:

    Right click your staple layer in the Layers window and click Duplicate Layer in the drop down menu.  Bam!  But wait, where's your second staple?  Look in the Layers window.  You'll now have a Pasted Layer and a Pasted Layer Copy.  Two staples, they're just right on top of each other.  Heh, heh.  Tricky!  Use your move tool and drag the top staple to the other corner. 

    How about a little foliage?  The leafy branch I used is also a part of the Shabby Princess Plentiful collection.  Open it up, scale it to 1000 pixels wide and make it a layer in your project just like we've done four times already in this project.  Use your Move tool to drag it where you want it.  Give it a shadow.  From now on it will be easier since you've already used that filter.  All you have to do is make sure the foliage layer is highlighted in the Layers window then go up to Filters and click on Repeat Drop Shadow.  Boom.  Merge the image and the shadow {Peter Pan} in the Layers window and admire your handiwork.  Also, take a minute to save your project again here, as I have forgotten to instruct you to do so in the past couple of steps.  Close down all your unnecessary windows, too, for that matter.  I got carried away in the creating and forgot the chores.

    Moving on . . . Want some ribbon?  I love ribbon -- especially gingham ribbon.  This great celery green gingham ribbon is another from the Stuff to Scrap "Bouncin' Beach Balls" blog train.  You'll find it at Sweet Maple digi-designs.  Kee-yoot! Add it just like you added the greenery.  I wanted this to be a little longer than the foliage so I scaled it to 1200 pixels.  Also, I really want it to be underneath the foliage so I will reorder my layers again by clicking on the ribbon layer in the Layers window and dragging it underneath the foliage layer.

    Perfect!  Add a shadow to that, too.  Now, we gotta' label this bad boy somehow.  I think a little tag with some text would do nicely.  Open up your tag image {mine is from Jen Reed's Moments in Time element pack.} and resize it.  I scaled mine down to 300 pixels. 

    Add text to your tag with the Text tool -- the one that is a big letter A.  Click on the tag in your project window and type your text.  You can change the font {any font on your computer is available to use in Gimp}, adjust the size and justification {center it} in the bottom portion of the Toolbox window.  Adjust the size of your box to fit the tag by clicking and dragging the edges.  Move the entire box of text by clicking in the middle and dragging.  Once you are happy with the way the text fits on the tag, merge it down. {Right click on text layer and click on Merge Down.}

    So far everything on our page is perfectly straight, which looks a little boring to me.  Le'ts rotate the tag a little to the left and tuck it in behind the foliage.  

    Click on the Rotate tool in your Toolbox {see picture above} and highlight the tag layer in your Layers window.  Now click on the tag in your project window and drag the upper left corner to rotate.  Find the position you like and click Rotate in the pop up window.  Click on the tag layer in your Layers window and drag it beneath the foliage layer.  Use your Move tool to drag it where you want it, peeking out from behind the leaves, and give it a shadow.

    Since adding all the other elements is pretty much the same process I won't walk you through each one step by step, but I will tell you where you can find the ones I used:

         * Small leafy vines are from the most current Blog Train Blog collection, Monkeying Around in the portion designed by Misty Cato Designs. I adjusted the color to make it a little bit greener.  To do this, make the vine image window your active window.  Go up to Color and click on Hue-Saturation in the drop down menu.  When the Hue-Saturation box pops up, set the values as follows:  Hue=35, Lightness=2, Saturation=10  then click OK.  Now you can scale the image to 1000 pixels and add to your project.  I added it to the image, then duplicated it so I had two. I also used the rotate tool {just like we did for our tag} to make them look a little more interesting. 

         * Teal button is from the Digital Scrapbooking Freebies Very Blessed kit.  Scale it to 175 pixels.

         * The crepe paper flower is from a really great mini kit called Dipity.  I scaled it to 280 pixels wide.  I've searched for nearly an hour now and I can't find the source.  Aaaaaakkkkkk!  I'd love to give credit and link to it if anyone knows where it came from.  Until then, sorry.

         *  The green silk flower is one I made myself. 

         * The glass button in the center of the silk flower is from Kevin and Amanda's Fall Collection kit, scaled to 100 pixels.

    Sprinkle the magic fairy dust {shadows} on all your layers and watch the project start to pop!

    Another helpful feature: If at any point  you have added a layer and want to see what your project would look like without that layer, you can click on the eye next to that layer in the Layers window.

    That element will magically disappear from your project window.  Click the empty box where the eye used to be and it will instantly reappear.  Now, if you decide you like it better without that layer, simply right click that layer in the Layers window and click Delete Layer.

    Try it!  It's fun!!  But I kind of really want that layer so I'm going to click Edit, Undo now.

    Remember as you're working to close windows when you are done with them But don't save.  Saving in this circumstance = bad. However, it is a good idea to save your project image periodically.  Trust me.

    Here is one more look at our finished project in all its glory:

    Now that you have a handle on the basic steps you can begin experimenting.  Try adding more than one photo or more elements.  Add a paragraph of text explaining the picture in the empty space underneath your photo.  Use some large text to create a title for the page.  Whatever you want!!  If you make something, I'd love to see it {and maybe feature it in our next lesson!}.  If you have any questions I'd be happy to try and answer them.  Play around and be creative.  In Part 3 we'll talk about some of the other tools in our toolbox and we'll walk through another simple project together.  Hope you have a great weekend!


    Digital Scrapbooking on the Cheap - Part 1: Getting Started

    I've had several friends ask me how I make some of the digital projects that I make.  I always tell them that I'm no expert, I'm completely self taught, blah, blah, blah, {because it is nearly a physical impossibility for me to accept a compliment gracefully}.  I also tell them how super easy it is when you get a handle on a few basic ideas.  In lieu of sitting down with each person individually, though I'm willing to do that if anyone requires a little extra tutelage, I thought I'd write a series of blog tutorials to get people started.  Once you know some of the basics, all you'll need to do is practice to figure out the more complex things.

    Before we get started creating things, you'll need to gather a few "supplies".  First and foremost, you'll need a photo editing program on your computer.  Photoshop and Photoshop Elements are very popular.  They are also very expensive and I'm a super cheapskate.  For that reason alone I don't use them.  Lots of awesome tutorials exist for learning Photoshop.  If that is what you'd like to learn, I recommend starting here at Kevin and Amanda .com.

    Instead, I use a free program you can download from the internet called Gimp, so that is the program for which these tutorials will be written.  Gimp is not without its flaws -- mainly that it crashes if you open too many things at once or if your project is large, so you have to get in the habit of saving regularly.  The upside is that the price is right.  I love free!  And I think I can do just about everything that can be done in the more expensive programs with it.  You can download Gimp from this site.  Once you are on the Gimp page, click on "download Gimp 2.6.11".  Save it to your computer and then run the .exe file to install it.  

    Next, you'll need to download some digital scrapbooking kits.  This is the really fun part for me.  There are a million places online where you can buy kits and they're really pretty affordable - $3 to $5, some more, some less.  But even better than that are the free kits, because free is the ultimate in affordability.  The thing to know about free kits is that they are almost always meant for personal use only.  You cannot make and sell anything with these items.  Read the Terms of Use that come in every kit so you know what the rules are for each designer.  Some of my favorite free resources are Shabby Princess {their Shabby Shoppe is also divine!} , Two Peas in a Bucket {make sure to sort by PRICE: LOW TO HIGH to find the freebies easily}, Digital Freebies {sign up to receive the Friday Freebie in your e-mail or pay $4.95 to access all the past kits.}, Shabby Blogs {their .png images can be used for more than just dudding up your blog and they have some of the best frame images in town!}, and Kevin and Amanda {she only has a couple of kits, but they are indeed lovely and worth stopping by for}.

    In the past 6 months or so I have discovered Blog Trains.  Every couple of months a bunch of really great designers will design mini-kits based on a common theme and color pallet, which you can download FOR FREE!  Each site links to the next, hence the train concept, and by the time you have reached the end of the line you'll have a giant, beautiful digi kit.  It's one of my favorite pass-times.  My two favorite trains are at the Blog Train Blog and the LDS Blog Train Blog.  This is a great way to not only expand your collection, but to find designers you really love so that you know where to go when you have some money to spend. 

    Now, my friends, go forth.  Download away!  {Be sure to unzip the files and save them somewhere that you'll be able to find them again easily -- I made a DigiScrap sub-folder in my Downloads folder where I keep everything organized, but do whatever works for you.}  When next we meet, I'll walk you through a really simple scrapbook page layout and we'll talk about layers.  Yippee!


    The Root of All Evil and REAL Success

    Before I left for camp I vowed to get real here on the blog and I haven't forgotten about that.  I've been thinking a lot lately about what a "successful" life or career looks like.  Because I think by many worldly standards I have neither.  I have a substantial stack of unpaid medical bills sitting here on my desk.  The brakes are grinding on my van.  We've been doing dishes by hand for a couple of months now because our dishwasher is leaking from somewhere underneath.  Our "fancy" end of the school year celebratory dinner was at a fast food restaurant -- it was fancy because we put our strict dollar-menu-only rule on hold for the night.  We celebrated our 15th anniversary last month with burgers at In-n-Out and a fist bump.  I don't have a proper job.  And I'm not even looking for one.

    Now, I'm not sharing these dirty little secrets with you to garner your sympathy.  I certainly don't feel like you should pity me (though you might feel inclined).  There's not one thing I've just mentioned that I wouldn't gladly change if I had the good fortune to do so.  Except the job situation - I'm quite happily unemployed for the time being.  I only mention these things because I'm learning in these lean times that my financial situation doesn't define who I am.  Those conditions don't exist because we are lazy or because we are careless with our money.  Not because we are hopeless sinners or consumed by greed.  They are what they are - conditions that exist, hopefully temporarily, in my life right now.  I'm not a failure simply because I struggle to make ends meet.  Similarly, many people aren't "successful" just because they have huge houses and huger bank accounts.  We are all so much more than our debt-to-income ratio.

    Brent and I are the parents of three generally happy children.  (They're reaching adolescence so the happiness isn't always a guarantee.)  Our children come to us when they have problems or questions or personal issues.  We spend lots of time together as a family, and for the most part we enjoy it.  Our children are bright and helpful and kind to others.  They don't mope or feel sorry for themselves when their friends have things that we simply can't provide right now.  They laugh easily and forgive easily.

    Our home is warm and inviting and generally clean.  (I can't guarantee many things as a mother of pre-teens.)  It may not be an impressive home, but it is a haven.  It's our little corner of the world where we can let it all hang out and just be ourselves.  We feel so very blessed to have found it when we did and to have had it for the past 8 years.  The air conditioner works.  At the end of the day, what more do you really need?

    I have my faith in the Savior and my testimony of His gospel.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt who I am and where I'm headed.  I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that He won't allow me to suffer any more than is necessary for me to grow and become increasingly like Him.  With that perspective I know how to define success for me.  And I know that all the crummy things are just for NOW, not for EVER. And that's alright. 


    Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! We're Home From Camp and We Didn't Die!

    We survived camp again -- my 6th as a leader, 13th total, Sydney's 2nd, and the most exciting by far.  There was a bear spotted in and around camp several times throughout the weekend.  Monday night, the last night of camp, they moved us all out of our individual cabins and into the craft cabin for the night.  It was wall to wall mattresses, two people to a mattress for the whole night.  And you may think the girls would be scared, but you'd be wrong.  Most of my girls were just sad that they hadn't seen the bear yet.  Had we not been locked in a cabin for the night with several adults watching them, they might have sneaked out in the night and gone looking for it.  So there was wisdom in the decision to confine them, for sure.  I kept telling the girls how lucky they were -- in my 13 years of camp I've never had a more interesting story to tell.  They'll never forget this year of camp ever.  Here are an assortment of photos from my camera:
    The Medieval Fortress.  The camp theme was Yesterday, Today and Forever.  Each group was a different era in history. Ours was the best. :-)

    Cabin decor, in all its glory.

    "Crystal" goblets for their royal water breaks.

    The penny charms we made to identify the goblets.

    See the bear paw print in the pollen on the porch of one of the cabins?  Sweet!

    Walking to church.

    My Medieval Princesses.

    The Tuesday morning aftermath.  The mattresses were three across and probably 15 deep.  Surprisingly, most of the girls slept pretty well, I think.
    Here's a video of my little princesses doing their dance on the last night, pre bear-lockdown: Princesses Gone Wild!!!


    Best. Girls Camp. Ever!!!  And now I can sit back and enjoy my summer.  *sigh*

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