Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's Going On?

Hard to believe there are only 2 more days left in 2010!! Soon we will be ringing in 2011. Thanks to all of you that have linked up your holiday card. It was so much fun to look at all of them! The linky party will be active here until the 31st of December.

I also appreciate all of your nice comments about the break in of my SUV. The insurance company was good to us and even though we won't be able to recuperate everything that was stolen,  I am very thankful for our insurance.

We had a fantastic Christmas. Lots of love & great memories.

A tidbit of things that we have been up to over break:

spending time with friends
skyping with family (love, love Skype)
skiing & more skiing
hanging out at the ski lodge
getting over a cold (me & Ana)
snowmobiling around our yard on our vintage snowmobile
putting together a puzzle of Portofino, Italy
movie time as a family at home
using my point & shoot camera to get a few photos
cooking & cleaning
helping kids with electronic gifts

I am going to start back at yoga in the New Year to get in shape for this new sport of mine! This was a huge surprise from my sweet husband, a standup paddleboard (all the way from Cali!):

9'3 Isle Girl XPS Epoxy Stand  Up Paddle Surfboard Pink Fade
Yes, I am counting down the days until I can use this gorgeous board all around the lake!! I fell in love with the sport while in the Florida Keys on spring break. It is such an easy sport, just balance & paddle. 

Here is what I could use from you! I need to know if you have a camera (digital SLR: single lens reflex) that you love! If you have a camera or a lens that you love, please leave me a comment with the make & model. I am in research & save mode. I want to pick a camera that is right for me! 

Also, if you would say a pray for 2 of my friends. One is dealing with a very recent loss of a child, while the other friend is having difficulties with housing. These are wonderful, wonderful women who have helped so many people. Please pray for them. It will make a difference!

I am looking forward to blogging with you in the New Year. We are trying stuffed cabbage rolls on New Year's Day this year! I am so excited. Would love to know what you are doing on New Year's Day?!! 

Cathy M.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I have been in a rather mad state of mind the last few days. A few nights ago my husband joined me for dinner. We met up with our friends of over 20 years. It was nice to chat & laugh. Really that is what the holidays are all about, right? Spending time with people you adore & making memories. All was fine until my husband & I walked to our SUV & found it had been broken into. We were totally stunned as we had parked in a well lit area in a decent part of town. Not only did the thieves get away with recent purchases (grrrrrrrr!)  & some cash that my 12 year old had stashed in the car (unbeknownst to me), but they also took my digital slr camera with both of my lenses. I love my camera & use it almost daily & I have been rather lost without it. (the above pic was taken with that camera & then I blurred the edges of the photo)

There was glass from the window throughout the entire car. We had to drive an hour home with cold air & road noise blasting through it. We did file a police report on the spot, but I think it is hopeless to think that any of the items will be returned.

The good news is that we are both fine & they did not get any credit cards nor identification. Our friends came back to help us, as soon as they heard what was going on. Thank goodness for friends you can count on!

We will be dealing with the insurance company. We have an appointment to get the car fixed & have been able to borrow a SUV from my in-laws until ours is fixed. We have lots of snow & very chilly temps, which don't go well with a broken window.

I wish this was a happy post about our holiday traditions or baking or something fun. We are working on getting past this, but it is amazing how it can affect you. I have been surprised at the strength of my emotions over this event. Mostly I have been mad, until today when I was rather sad.

Tonight we took the kids to the fairgrounds to see the Christmas lights. It was rather fun. We took pics with our cell phone. We wondered how many lights there were, how long they took to arrange & wondered how much the electric bill would be (that pondering was from my teenager). Afterward, the guys ran to Home Depot while the girls and I shopped for a few quick items at Drug Mart. We had some really good laughs about buying goofy gifts for people. It was silly, but we did manage to laugh.

Watch what you are keeping in your vehicle & watch your valuables, and most of all this season, be safe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2010 Christmas Card Reveal

This year's card was from Tiny Prints:

Inside Left

Holiday Message


 A couple of things that I love about this card are:

  • the story that it tells about our family, its early beginnings & what we enjoy doing together~read more below
  • it sounds crazy but I love the gate fold (the fold is along the left, opens like a book)
  • the ability to use so many pictures
  • being able to choose from so many fonts & creating my own custom greeting
  • all of our legs outstretched, especially Ana's! Yes, she has super long legs like her Daddy!

 **This is a very low light day here in the Midwest! The pics do not accurately portray the level of photo quality, which is very good. I tried with flash, without flash & in different settings & this was the best I could come up with.**

The Story of This Card
The story of this card is 17 years in the making! The first day I met my husband, we biked 20 miles together. It is funny how a bike ride lead us to this incredible life with three children. Although, we don't put in much mileage these days, we do love to ride these bikes at the lake with our family. We bike to the pool. We bike to friend's houses. We go on little excursions. Everyone else uses a golf cart, but we love the simplicity of our "beach cruisers".  I love the baskets for towels & goggles. Hubby likes his drink holder, which is usually occupied by my afternoon Diet Coke. I got the idea to purchase the beach cruisers when I saw a picture of Kim on her bike.

I love getting holiday cards. It is my very favorite thing of the season. It is a chance to connect with others that we care about, but perhaps don't see too often. I love getting photos of family and friends. The kids scream with excitement as they open the cards each day. It is true joy!

Wouldn't you like to see what others are doing for their holiday card? Me too! So here is my first Linky Party!! If you are a blogger and would like to share anything related to your Holiday card, please link to your post below. It could be choosing the photo or card, past cards, or your current card. It could even be a post about procrastination of sending out cards!



Monday, December 6, 2010

19 days till Christmas & counting...

list making
recipe previewing

*If you don't have a LightKeeper-Pro, then you need to get one while out & about. It is a miraculous little tool thingy = "miniature light set repair tool"! It sells for less than $20 and can be found at hardware stores!! It really works & takes the frustration out of tree trimming with burned out bulbs!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One Year Blogiversary!

I started this blog one year ago! My first post is HERE. I have learned so much about blogging, my interests and how to connect with others. I am grateful for each & every follower and really appreciate all of the nice comments that people have left in the past year.

I am all about ribbon this time of year. It is probably my favorite element to decorate with! I am crazy about this ribbon & will be using it  everywhere!! Here is my latest find:

In a previous post I mentioned that I have 2 new assignments. One of the assignments is a photo assignment that I am working on & will share with you at a later date. I am photographing an architectural element in our city & have found that the dwindling light from fall into winter is making it challenging to complete it. The great thing about this assignment is that it has no due date. My goal is to share it with you when I feel that I have it completed, which will be sometime before spring. (I hope!)

My second assignment is profiling women in business in our local area. I have been impressed with a number of women who have taken their passion & turned it into a business. You will get a behind the scenes look at how & where they work. Later this week I will be giving you a behind the scenes tour of Lucy's  (the Slipcover Queen) studio. You will love seeing how she turned her garage into a stunning, cozy studio!

These assignments are "self-assigned". I figured that my kids have several assignments which are designed to further their understanding of a subject and that I could do this for myself. I hope you have a self-assignment or two! I would like to hear about yours and if you are still thinking about it, this is a good time of year to stretch your boundaries & work on something new for you!

As I was composing holiday card tips post here, I realized that I didn't have my previous year's Christmas cards all in one box. I am hoping that when I find the kids' memory boxes (safely tucked away in storage, but not visible), that I will have a copy of previous years cards. I did find a good portion of the photos & cards. Following is a tour of our cards (some are just the photo, as I am not digging into the storage room until after the holidays!).

1997~I remember this like it was yesterday. My husband & I were heading to his first company Christmas party & I was a bit nervous to leave my 4 month old with a new babysitter. It turned out that she was a great babysitter & a pretty good photographer , too!

1998~hard to believe that the one with the dimple is now a teenager! She had a choir concert last night & sang like an angel! That chubby baby is now defying gravity with his skiing and wakeboarding. Thus the progression of my wrinkles!

1999~this was taken by my father-in-law. I think my mother-in-law was doing something crazy to get the kids to laugh. It worked. We hung a sheet from our garage door for the back drop. My husband & I developed this photo in our basement that year. I miss our make shift photo lab. I ended up having this printed by a real lab, but it didn't turn out quite as surreal as the photo below. 

2000~We used a piece of black velvet & draped it over a door for this photo. My husband added the red bow. My favorite thing here is how they are holding hands. That doesn't happen anymore! This is a gorgeous card from Exposures. That gold ribbon took forever to weave through the tiny holes!!

2001~Another Exposures card. It had a vellum overlay & ribbon, too. I love this photo~so sweet!

Without the vellum:
2002~we added our third child this year & moved to a new home in December (avoid moving in December, it is only for insane people!!) The baby in this photo, Miss Boo, really did fall asleep! Mr. F. was being a 4 year-old boy & wasn't cooperating, so I thought it was fine that he was in his normal mode of being goofy with his eyes squinched shut! I made this card on my computer & added a phrase inside that said..while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads... The back of the card featured our new address & a photo that I had snapped our new house. 

2003~this is my Mom's favorite photo of the kids. I took this one:) I just used a store-bought card & slipped in the photo. 

2004~This is the snow picture! We had snow the day after Thanksgiving & I was able to get it before the snow melted! The kids were ice cold when they came in!! This is also the card where I added that apostrophe & had to have all of the photos re-printed~oops!

2005~I think this is one of my favorites (I cannot pick a favorite since they all hold special meaning to me!) I really wanted a pocket card in 2005, but I couldn't justify the cost. I came up with a way to get the pocket card. I found this beautiful stationery & then printed a photo of the kids that I had taken along with the saying onto the cardstock. I fed the tassel through the hole & looped it & then inserted it into the pocket. The pocket is a pretty bronze color.

The card out of the pocket: The card said BELIEVE and then below the pic, it said thespiritof the season. The font was regular & then spirit was in red & script. 

2006~This was one of the easiest cards ever! We had our photo taken at a local chain photo studio & ordered the cards on the spot. I had my cards ready in September that year!!

2007~I love the color of this card & how whimsical it is! The inside greeting said: Wishing you a bright & cheerful holiday season in pink & green fonts!!

2008~This was my first true digital card, where I sent the photo online. I love how the greenery in the background complements the design of the card.

2009~if you haven't read my recent post about this card, you can go here.


Sarah over at Clover Lane, just posted a tutorial on how she has recently displayed her cards for Christmas. I love this idea, but will be heading more toward the scrapbooking route, as I have a limited supply of cards.

It is snowing outside and my family is beyond giddy! I am happy that they are giddy. Here we go, winter! This is a recent splurge! I love these *Bogs*. Waterproof.  Warm. Comfy. Colorful.

This one is for all of my family & friends that live where it isn't snowing:

Snow is flying, but we are ready!

I am loving my blogiversary. I am celebrating one year of having fun in blogland!! What are you loving today?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving ~2010~

sleeping in
baking cinnamon rolls
dancing in front of the tv
waiting for Macy's Day parade
anticipation of family football game
thoughts of yummy turkey, stuffing, squash & pie
time spent with family
sorting through newspaper ads 
 making Christmas wish list

Happy Thanksgiving!
The leaves were an easy craft. I gathered a few from the yard & the kids traced them on paper, cut them out & the wrote what they are thankful for this year. Don't you think this would be something fun to find in your memory box when you are older?


Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Card Tips

If you are a reader or friend of mine, then you probably know that I am a paper girl. I have my own line of botanical note cards and I also sell several lines of personalized stationery like notepads, wedding invites, baby announcements and holiday cards.  Following is a list to help keep you focused & organized with your holiday cards, so that you can spend time on shopping decorating & cooking.

#1 Choose the photo. I personally think that your holiday card should include a photo. In this day & age you should send a photo along with your well wishes. If including a family photo, make sure you choose a shot where all members look decent. No poles sticking out of heads. Good lighting, please! No closed eyes, unless it is a sleeping baby! One of my cards had a sleeping baby & it turned out adorable! Also, there are so many options of cards, that you can choose individual photos (see below).

#2 Choose your greeting & double check all spelling. If saying the family name, The Marquardts, do NOT add an apostrophe. I did this one year, without thinking, and had to re-do all of my cards, ugh! Always have another pair of eyes check your wording before printing!

#3 Choose your card. Be careful not to let the design of the card overwhelm the photo. The design should complement the photo or help to tell a story.

#4 View the card before purchasing. Online viewing of proofs is very commonplace & yes, you should shell out the extra dough for this. Period. This may lengthen the process of ordering the card, but it is well worth the extra time!

#5 Order a few extra, at least 5-10. If you have leftovers they can go into a Holiday Card Scrapbook or the kids' memory box.

#6 Use a return address, always! You will be surprised how many cards come back to you!

#7 While waiting for your card to be printed, get your mailing list in order & purchase your stamps. I always print my list on paper first. I make edits before printing on labels.

#8 Allow time for assembly & addressing of the holiday cards when they do arrive. Allow time for affixing bows or photos. I use evening tv time for assembly!

#9 Assemble with clean hands in a clean space. Do not assemble while wearing colored nail polish as this can easily rub off!

#10 Do write personal notes to family members. It can be as simple as, "Thinking of you during this holiday season!"

#11 If you include a holiday letter, please do not be too boastful. This turns people off.

#12 Always take the card to the post office (fully assembled) and have it weighed PRIOR to mailing. Last year I had my card weighed before I put on the address label & the weight was fine. Just to be sure I had it weighed againand sure enough I needed more postage!! Who would think that an address label would push it over the limit? I bought more postage & added the stamps while in the post office. I certainly did not need 150 cards coming back to me!!

#13 NEVER mail the card so that it is received before Thanksgiving (that's for my U.S. readers).  The only exception is if it's a Thanksgiving card. That's the only exception!!

#14 Electronic cards do not count. They are better than nothing, but they do NOT qualify as a holiday card. Got me?

Other ideas

  • You can send New Year's cards if you cannot get your picture until the holidays. OR you are waiting for the snow pic
  • I have a friend that sends a Valentine's card, which is a welcome piece of  mail in February!
  • You can  let people know of a new address with a holiday greeting. I love baby announcements with holiday greetings. Or how about a wedding picture with a holiday greeting? They make everyone's heart melt!
Sources for cards

  • Your local stationer~allow time to peruse their books & for production & shipping. This is the best way to observe the quality of the card & photo. Also, your stationer can guide you in the myriad of options & details. (read: customer service) 
  • Homemade~I have made homemade cards in the past & they take considerably more time than ordering from a source. Just be sure to test your paper & make sure you have loads of extra ink cartridges! Use a bone folder to help fold paper. Purchase your envelopes first, as this can also be a tricky time trap!
  • Online sources~be prepared to spend time looking for the right card! I ordered this year's card from *Tiny Prints*. (NO, I am not receiving anything from them). I was very pleased with their customer service (in October) and they exceeded my expectations. I was very happy with their quality & selection, as well. I have used *Minted* in the past & was somewhat disappointed with their service. However their quality is excellent. And perhaps by now, they have added more qualified customer service reps. I have received cards that were from *Vistaprint* & *Mac* & thought that their quality & design were very good.  *The biggest negatives in ordering online is that you cannot feel the weight & quality of the card. If you have time, order a sample.*
  • Local~Drug stores & one stop shopping places. I am not a huge fan of their products, however, they do tend to be very budget minded. Try to coordinate your pic with a cute saying that ties the photo to the card. 
  • Traditional photo cards~if you are ordering a photo to place on a card (rather than a digital card where the photo is printed directly on the paper), be sure you preview the photo before ordering a large amount. In our smaller city, we are currently without a high quality photo lab that will deal directly with customers. This may not be a consideration if you live in a larger city. 
In a future post I will show you this year's card. Here is our 2009  holiday card that I ordered from *Minted*:

The actual card is grommeted & is a short storybook. 

*Each of the photos of the kids was cropped to take advantage of the Peace, Love, Joy story here. I sacrificed a bit of the photo quality to get the story~a tradeoff~ 

*The family photo is a bit unique, but if you are a boater you can appreciate this. It is almost impossible to get a shot of your family on your boat, unless it is planned. Many times you are too busy having fun & getting equipment in & out of the boat to care about a family photo. It takes a bit of planning & luck!  This was taken by my friend Tom, who was on their boat, while we were on a trip. Do you see that large rock behind us? Um hmmm, we didn't hit it. Thanks to my husband's quick reactions. Also, there is this other matter called waves & the resulting rocking of the boat. Tricky stuff!

After looking at this card, I am amazed at the changes in my kids in just one year! I think my favorite thing about the holidays is receiving cards from friends & families. I know my whole family is excited to check the mailbox! And yes, we do argue over who gets to open the cards!!

I would love to hear your feelings about holiday cards! Do you love seeing how your friend's & family's lives have changed? Does it make you feel more connected? I am looking forward to the holidays & re-connecting with others via their greetings. I wish I could check the mailbox, but it is too early! One week to go!

(After writing this post I found many of my holiday cards dating back to 2000 and the photos going back to 1998! Would you like to see pictures of my past cards? Including the "eyes closed" photo? )

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Slipcovers & a Painted White Kitchen Table

If you read my last post, you know that I was experiencing some disk storage issues on my computer. I deleted a lot of stuff (emails, mostly) and I am functioning, for now. I will be ordering some more memory & might even give you a tutorial on how I install it. While traipsing through my photos I found the "before pics" of my kitchen table & chairs. Are you ready? Let's start with the after:

I love the comfort and style of my new table and chairs. I made sure to have a glass top made for the table. We do homework here & now I don't worry about the table top at all!

Here you can see how well it coordinates with the adjoining living room. I have 3 pieces of distressed white furniture and several yellow pieces in my living room.

I love the white trim & yellow walls against the piping & covered buttons. 

I have fallen head over heels with slipcovers because of their washability! I also had these little coverlets made to protect the seat cover. A little added protection that can get thrown in the wash with ease!

A close-up of the cording & pleated skirt. All 100% washable!

I am still working on lighting & window treatments. 

The dreaded before pics:
 Do you see the old painted white table in the background? About 8 years ago, I found it in a junk pile with 6 inches of snow on top of it. I didn't use the correct paint & after years of use & abuse, it had to be retired! I actually used these chairs for years, which don't match or even coordinate with each other! 

In this photo I was testing out chair height & width. Here you can see the walls & window trim. I am so glad that my husband agreed to have this room painted.

This table was a steal. It was very inexpensive & I bought it because I loved the pedestal base. It just needed a new paint job. I hired it done this time!

The slipcovers were created by a talented slipcover artist in our area. Which leads me to reveal one of my assignments. I will be showcasing local, talented businesswomen on my blog. You will get a glimpse of how they turned their passion into a business. The first person I will introduce you to is Lucy. She is the reigning slipcover queen in our area. She recently invited me & a group of women for lunch to her home. I was able to get a few photos of her work area. You will have to wait a little longer for the post. Here is the hostess gift (note cards with her company name) which I made & took to her:

I would love to know, have you finished any projects lately?  Do you use slipcovers?  Are you in love with white distressed wood, like I am? 

I am going to fix a cup of tea & enjoy my new chairs & kitchen table!