Wednesday, January 23, 2013

1-23 Sketch @ Let's Scrap!

Once again, I'm honored to have one of my original layout designs published today @ Let's Scrap.  Do you remember the sketch contest? My very first attempts at scrapbook layout design not only produced a winner, I had several "non-winners" losers, and this is the second runner up.  (Pssst...there might be some more coming over the next few months.)

I created this sketch based on an older layout I did about a magical White Christmas morn not too long ago. 
Can't believe I'm sharing these photos.
Gosh, I'm a beauty on Christmas morn!
I wanted the focus of the layout to be the date, but equally as important is the White Christmas subtitle.  Even though we live in Colorado, it is very rare that we wake up to a Christmas snow storm and truly one of the most memorable of Christmas mornings past.

Technical notes:
  • Paper & chipboard embellishments:  Little Yellow Bicycle
  • Snowflake diecut paper: KI Memories
  • White Shimmer Alpha:  Making Memories
  • Cardstock:  Creative Memories White & American Crafts Red
  • Title cut with the Cricut
Some close-up detail:

I hope you can see how awesome the glitter is on all of the white accent pieces, alphas, and embellishments.  It's frosty!

Thanks again to Let's Scrap for publishing my layout!

Friday, January 18, 2013

I've Been Bitten... the Grandma bug!  What is it about finding out that you're gonna be a Grandma that makes you want to crochet?  Anyone else had that side effect? I made this:

For all of my very dear scrapbook friends and readers, this doesn't mean I'm giving up scrapbooking or photography.  Heaven's no.  I just wanted to crochet a baby afghan for my dear daughter for a pre-baby shower, pre-knowing-the-sex, pre-anything-baby-related gift...for Christmas.  I choose to believe that it's not bad luck to do so.

My Grandma made me my baby afghans.  Heck, she made afghans for everyone.  Giant ones.  And crocheted doilies.  Remember them?  She taught me how to crochet some 35 years ago.  She was a crocheting phenom.  She always had a project going and a hook and yarn in her hands.  I will never forget how her hands looked when she was working.  She was fast.

I made both of my babies an afghan as well.  Granted, mine were no where near as spectacular as my Grandma's work, but there is an enormous amount of pride when you wrap your precious baby in something you've made with your own hands.  Every stitch created with love and hope for the future.

So, on a mission, I hit the yarn sale @ Michael's and picked up three gender neutral baby yarn colors and went to work.  I decided on a big granny square.  It was either that or a ripple afghan.  Those are the only two I know how to do.  Before I even made one stitch, I went to the internet...spent loads of time on the how to's.  Seems anyone can learn and teach yourself a new skill via the web these days.  So many talented people out there willing to share their talent and knowledge. Free patterns.  Great instructions.  How-to videos galore.

I chose this pattern.  It didn't take me very long to create this giant square.  I worked on it while watching TV.  When I was finished, I decided it needed a more fancy finished edge.  I found that here.  Added that too.

Doesn't it look soft?  Light & fluffy?  Warm? I wish you could reach right in and touch it.

Needless to say, I was practically busting my buttons over the finished blanket.  I couldn't wait to give it to April for Christmas, but I had leftover yarn (I still do).  Hmmm....wonder if I can teach myself to make a pair of matching baby booties?  Well, thanks to these videos on You Tube, turns out that I can indeed!

Aren't they adorable?

I give full credit to these three awesome internet instructions, videos, patterns & tutorials. And, a big thank you to my Grandma for her patience with me and teaching me a skill of yesteryear.  I think I created a beautiful one-of-a-kind gift.  It was the hit of the family gift exchange.  Brought tears to my eyes to give it to April and she was tearful to receive it.  It was a good moment indeed.

Oh, lord help me if that little peanut is a girl.  She's gonna have a gazillion crocheted headbands!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Watching the Ball Drop in NYC!

Crossing it off the list!!

NYE in NYC?  It's spelled C - h - a - o - s with a capital C, but that is exactly why we went.  We thought it was such a spectacular idea and I do not for a regret going not even for one second.  Oh sure, we got lots of "constructive criticism".  Like:

  1. Are you insane?
  2. You do NOT want to go and watch the ball drop.  Seriously.
  3. Wear adult diapers! 
  4. Times Square on New Years Eve is not the place you want to be.
  5. It sounds fun, but it's a nightmare.
  6. I've done it and I can tell you honestly I would NEVER do it again. 
  7. New Yorkers wouldn't be caught dead there!

Well, we might be insane.  We might have big kahunas.  We might even want to experience danger.

Truth is, we just want to experience life.  We want to cross things off our bucket list while we are young enough and able-bodied to do so.  I think we were fortunate and had some of the best weather ever for New Years in NYC (a big THANK YOU to Mother Nature).  On the plus side, I’m sure that added to our enjoyment; but on the flip side  I think it added a few more hundred thousand people.  I think weather could be a big issue.  We just dressed for it. Coats and scarves. Hats, gloves and the best thing ever invented...Under Armour.  Oh, and I wore my Ugg boots. They are super comfortable and warm! Everyone said it was actually a pretty mild year at 37 degrees. Balmy! Twenty degrees warmer than 2012.  I was not cold for one minute.

The energy that is in that crowd is indescribable. If you are claustrophobic or agoraphobic, this is not the place for you; but to have that New Year's kiss in NYC with a few thousand of your new-found sing Auld Lang see the fireworks atop the infamous NYC watch and listen to the see that ball drop…to see all of those things you've watched every year on real just so cool.

There are a solid million or so folks that head to Times Square for this shin-dig and we were a mere blip. I expected folks to be mean. A friend had already told me so.  Also rude & drunk.  I didn't expect any special treatment from anyone.  Everyone was fairly polite, in a party mood and just as excited to be there as we were. The firemen and policemen were so nice.  If they said no, you can't cross the street here, the answer was given with a head shake and an “I’m sorry”.  We had no choice but to stay put.  I’m sure the energy in the crowd ten blocks away was just as high as the energy where we were standing.  Truth is, I don't think there's a bad place to be in NYC for the stroke of midnight.  The entire city is celebrating.  I think watching the ball drop from anywhere it can be seen, is where the magic is.  The wow is in the crowd.
One Times Square.
See how tiny the ball looks up there?
Twenty-five stories up.
We didn't even make a plan.  I just knew I wasn't up for an all-day stakeout.  We went to a nice, festive dinner in Chelsea and then got on the subway headed uptown.  When I heard the driver say the stations were closed between 42nd Street and 59th Street, we simply got off the train.  We came up the stairs and spit out right smack in the middle of a ginormous crowd on 42nd Street...@ 8:43 p.m.! Just due east from the ball.  We could see it just fine.  This viewing spot works for us.

My recommendations?  Use common sense, like you would in any crowded place.  I did not wear my jewelry.  Men, wallets in front pockets. Ladies, avoid a purse; but if you bring one, make sure it goes over your shoulder.  Mine was little (ID, my phone and my small camera).  Several times it got caught between me and someone else.  A wrist-let would also be good.  Bill had a very thin travel backpack. We did not  need more than that.

This is a crowded place, even when it’s not NYE. We'd been to Times Square twice for a play during our visit.  I've never seen it so crowded.  Make it the big night and it was VERY crowded. If you are annoyed by other people, can’t stand being jostled by (and with) strangers, don’t like loud noise, etc…don’t go, watch it on TV. Pay attention and enjoy the people around you.  They will be your new best friends until the end of the year!  Enjoy the spectacle.  There's nothing else like it.

The last time the subway stopped on 42nd street, a surge of people came through where we were standing.  Bill and his new 300+ linebacker friend stood their ground.  The people trying to get through made our group sway this way and that way.  It was really scary. I had heard stories about people being trampled to death.  Seriously, it’s like being herded like cattle. This part?  Not so fun.

A three hour wait was enough for me.  With my whiplash (from our December car accident, and the fact that we had walked 20+ miles in the last three days), I thought I was going to just stiffen up and not be able to move.  It's really hard on your body to stand on the concrete for such a long time.  My shoulders hurt, my lower back hurt, and my hips hurt. We could not see the stage and could not hear the performances from where we were standing.  I could only watch and eye the ball.  Thank goodness it puts on its own light show.

Nothing to do but stand.  Wait.  Meet your new neighbors. Stand some more.  Wait some more.  By the way, there was a New York family of three (Dad, 18-year-old son, Denzel, and 16-year-old-daughter) standing next to us.  Don't believe it when they say they don't go.  Of course, Bill talked to everyone in our little circle.  He entertained (a captive audience is Bill's fav).  He joked.  He teased.  And when they started throwing the free Nivea hats and free samples, he caught one for EVERY person in our little group.  At the end of the evening, Denzel our new New York friend, asked us to promise that we'd all come back to this very same spot and celebrate again next year.  We'd love to!

Besides the logistics, our my biggest worry was about going to the bathroom and food.  We ate before, but several people around us were they had brought and someone ordered a pizza!  We stopped before getting on the subway and filled a flask with Buttershots and bought a small bottle of Crown Royal (airplane size).  We only had one bottle of water.  Little tiny sips...that's all. The police didn't seem to care and no one checked our bags.  I was REALLY worried about the bathroom thing, we had been told people wear adult diapers. Depends?  Ew.  Gross.  Not even an option for me! I just went after dinner and drank really little water the entire evening.  I think it’s honestly a mental thing. I was prepared to not go, so honestly it wasn't really a problem.  But remember, we only stood for 3.5 hours. 

After the ball drop and the fireworks, we walked down Times Square and milled around with all the people.  The confetti was still blowing around in the breeze and Times Square is covered in confetti.  You can't even see the street (got a nice handful for the 'ole scrapbook).  We could also see the fireworks going off in Central Park.  Let me just tell you, this is a photographer's dream come true!  Oh...the photo opportunities!

Central Park fireworks!  Long after the stroke of midnight.
We ended up walking down a side street (forgot to look at the number) where all of the stars limos and black sedans were parked from the show.  Big tour buses too!  Wonder how they negotiate New York streets?  Lots of people on cell phones.  I heard names "Ryan Seacrest" being dropped and some band member I didn't know signing autographs.  We kept moving.

We walked over to 6th.  Down a couple more blocks and right onto the subway.  Yes, it was crowded, but we hopped right on the F train headed to Queens.  Even got a seat.  Together. trouble!  We arrived back safely @ Ted's house around 2:23 am.  Tired...but still on our watch-the-ball-drop-in-New-York-City high! 

Reminds me of Mardi Gras.  It emptied out quickly. 
So that’s how we rang in 2013.
It was f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s 
and something I will never forget.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eggnog Pancakes

I've never really traveled over the holidays.  I've never left my house in such Christmas disarray only to come home to the same mess we left.  We even missed our trash pick up day.  I've been looking at crumpled-up shredded-to-bits Christmas wrapping paper for two weeks!

The cookies were left on the counter.  The leftovers were left in the fridge.  We tried our best to eat 'em up, but so much went to waste.  The one thing I hate to waste is eggnog, or as we call it:  'nog.  It only comes around during the holidays and I love it.  I love it over ice with Amaretto (or Rum) and sprinkled with nutmeg.  I also love it in my coffee.

I had torn this recipe out of a magazine awhile back.  I can't remember which one, but I was determined to make these pancakes and use up all the remaining 'nog.  So this past Sunday, we tried 'em. 


they are to die for!  Assuming, of course, you are a 'nog lover like me.

Here's the recipe:

2 C Flour
1 T Baking Powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 lightly beaten eggs
2 C eggnog
1/4 C oil

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the remaining liquid ingredients.  Mix well.  Drop by ladle on a hot griddle.  Cook 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown.  That's it!  Super simple.

I did not have quite 2 cups of 'nog left.  I added skim milk to measure the 2 cups of eggnog. 

Oh, and by the 'nog was the light I'm sure I saved tons of calories & fat (yeah, right).

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New York City Holiday!

We had such a wonderful time in New York this past week. When Bill's brother, Ted, invited us out to spend a few days in the city for New Year's, we gladly accepted!  (I'm still not sure he really meant "come visit me"). 

New York City is absolutely gorgeous all decked out for the holidays.  I can honestly say there is no better place to spend the holidays.  I absolutely love the smell of all the food trucks and cart vendors on the city streets (minus the smell of burnt chestnuts!  They're supposed to be roasted people.)  I think I stayed hungry the entire time we were there.  I'm sure there are many people who HATE the smells of NYC.  It's definitely not normal for us but it does lend a certain charm, right?

Seeing the giant tree at Rockefeller Center was at the top of our list of things to do in NYC. We walked here our first day, watching the skaters on the ice below.  Gigantic, fluffy, white, wet snowflakes really complimented our first day in the city.  Thank you mother nature!

Colorful Times Square.

We really wanted to see a show on Broadway. The last time we were here, Broadway was on strike, and our pre-paid tickets were null and void.  We picked Nice Work if You Can Get It starring Matthew Broderick.  I wasn't sure if there would even be tickets available, but we hit the TKTS booth on Times Square and they were 40% off for the 2:00 matinee....five rows from the stage! It was the cutest show ever, and I’m so, so glad we went.  Mr. Broderick is very charismatic and the show was just plain silliness and visually stunning. Broadway sets are over the top.  Every scene was great.  Some of the set emerges out of the center of the stage floor.  Other pieces move in & out from the wings.  I was constantly snapping pictures in my head.  And the musical had several songs I recognized.  Wow.

We decided to do a second show the very next day.  Back to the TKTS booth.  Lines were much longer and there were so many people!  I was not sure what to expect for day two, but we managed to get tickets to Evita starring Ricky Martin...11 rows dead center.  Doesn't get much better than that.  I really enjoyed Evita as well, but the story is a sad one, and I have seen it before (in Denver).  I'm still really impressed over Broadway shows, but my favorite was definitely Nice Work if You Can Get It.  Yeah, I would go see it again!

The entire city is really decked out in fabulous Christmas decorations.  Each one more fabulous than the last!

Macy’s looked just magical on 34th street.

Oh my gosh, this is one gigantic store! One entire NYC block. Eight massive floors of shopping.

How sweet are their Christmas lights?

We walked down 5th Avenue just so I could see the magical, over-the-top retail storefront windows.  
L to R:  Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Prada
Yes, the snow globes turn!
All the buildings were so fun. Here’s Cartier.

And Fendi.  The lights twinkle & fall like dripping icicles.

Harry Winston.

I loved the Bulgari building!  The strobe lights on the snake were breathtaking...

Saw this homeless guy @ a church.
(wink. wink.  He's with me.)
The Empire State Building sported many different colors while we were in town.  Here it is decked in it's New Year's finery.

Ah, we finally made it to Little Italy! I had not been here prior.  Loved this little town-within-a-town.  We had the best meal @ Positano's.  The pasta fagoli soup is garlic heaven.  Alessandro, our host, was very gracious.  He bought the second pouring of red wine and our dessert.  We'll so be back!

We enjoyed a leisurely stroll through Central Park before the big event.  It's so true about escaping the hustle and bustle of the city.  There really is a calm in the park.  You might forget you're in the big apple!  The starkness of winter has set in...not one leaf in sight, but the grass was still green!  Go figure. 

Yes. We watched the ball drop. Ted sent us out on our own. Wouldn't go with us. Never seen it...never will.  Huh?  I'm going to devote an entire post about that...insanity!

New Year's Day, we visited the 911 Memorial.  The fountains are an exact footprint of both World Trade buildings.  It is eerily soothing.  Somber.  Calming.

Thanks, Ted.  We had a ball (pun intended).