Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Scrapbook Retreat, Summer 2013

My mom and I did a scrapbook retreat this past weekend, just the two of us.  It was a lot of fun and highly productive!  

I started and finished an album of our honeymoon on St. John, USVI.  Yes, were married and honeymooned in 2011.  I know I'm behind, which is why I need more scrapbook retreats!  

Being a loyal Creative Memories customer for a very long time, I'm just now exploring scrapbooking outside of CM - mainly because of Project Life.  In so doing, I'm finding papers and embellishments I never knew were out there.  And they're all so very cute!  It's truly ridiculous just how big scrapbooking has become - and how many of the products I love.  Ha!

And so I put together a honeymoon album that used a lot of beach papers.  It came together really well.  I'm still waiting on a CM order, though, for more page inserts before I can put the album the album.  

As some of you may now, Creative Memories has declared bankruptcy and the future of the company is unknown.  I placed a large order as soon as I heard - to get enough albums and pages for a few more trips.  But, if they close and stay closed, I'll have to look for other options with which to do my scrapbooking.  Eek!

It was a fun, girly weekend.  Just what I needed!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Downton Abbey

Mr. Higgins and I finally started "Downton Abbey."  I must say, when everyone I know recommends a show (even a friend who hates period pieces and anything not masculine), I'm astounded.  

Mr. Higgins was doubtful.  But after the first episode, he said, "how much time do we have and how many more episodes can we watch?"  Ha!

I was doubtful as well.  I'm not a big fan of British stuff.  Quite frankly, I hate all the attention that very small island gets - especially its royalty.  

But what immediately caught my attention in "Downton" was the characters.  They are so very real, so very likable.  And that's rare in TV.  After every episode of "Mad Men," Mr. Higgins says, "I hate those people."  And I agree.   So it's refreshing to find a drama with so many characters that I genuinely like.

We just started season two, so no spoilers please!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Metroplex Traffic

I have a rant today.  I apologize...but I'm sure many of you can sympathize.

It seems the entire Metroplex is under construction.  Our once laid-back side of town is now one huge construction zone.  Add to that the fact that more and more people are moving here since our economy is about the only one in the country NOT in the tank and .....ugh.  Rag on Texas all you want - I hate a lot of her politics myself - but it's the only state in the country that could exist without the rest of the country.  Our economy is that good.

But don't get me off track.  That economy is all well and good until we get a sudden influx of job-seekers....which coincides with massive highway upgrades and expansions all across the Metroplex, even on our laid-back side.  

This means traffic is a nightmare.  You can't go anywhere without hitting construction and lane closures.  

So imagine my horror when I'm driving along OUTSIDE of a construction zone and encounter morons.  People texting, people who think driving is actually the best time to talk to relatives in Wisconsin.....people who view driving as their second priority while behind the wheel.  They forget that they're driving a weapon - a metal box that can very easily kill.

The other morning, I came across something that's becoming very typical: slow people holding up traffic in the fast lane(s).  Going below the speed limit in the fast lane is unacceptable.  If there's no one in front of you and people behind you, get your butt out of the way.  

Since the other lanes were blocked, I moved to the right lane, knowing my exit was only a few miles away.  I zoomed past the middle and fast lanes.  Then someone comes over from the fast lane and paces me, with their blinker on.  

Uh....there's no room here, hon.  Slow down and get behind me, I think.  There's maybe one car length between me and the guy in front of me.  And this bozo thinks she can sit there and blink at me to let her in?

And this is where my logical brain brakes down. A blinker shows your intent to do something.  It's a warning: hey, I'm coming over.  It does NOT mean, hey, can you get out of the way so I can cut in front?  Unless, of course, you are literally sitting at a dead stop in traffic and the only way to get over is to blink until someone is nice enough to let you over.  That is the ONLY exception to this rule.

So when speeding along on the highway, you blink when you're going to do something, not when you want to do something.  It's not the job of other drivers to make a hole in which your gas-guzzling, air polluting surburban can fit.  You need to find a place where it can fit.  Then, once you do, blink and get over.  Blinking is not a question mark.  It's a statement. 

So, I got flipped off.  The chick finally slowed down, flipped me off, and got behind me.  I guess some part of me is glad that she knew how to use a blinker.  I'm thinking 30% of the population has no idea how operate that particular function on their car, let alone knows it exists.

Ah, the fun of driving.  My road rage is only getting worse.  Oy.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Simple" Project Life

I'm still loving doing my weekly Project Life.  I love having an album of our everyday lives - even of the boring stuff.  Life is not always exciting, after all.

But now Project Life is becoming very popular.  Their products are now sold in scrapbook stores, and in Michael's and Hobby Lobby.  They keep introducing more and more products.... Suddenly the "simplicity" of Project Life is giving me way too many choices - making it a bit too complicated!

The other day, Becky Higgins, founder of Project Life, introduced themed card sets - 36 of them!  There are cards for pets, sports, holidays, music, graduations.....oy.   Just when I was trying to get my head wrapped around mini-kits and new main kits, this comes out!                

I love Project Life.  But I get quickly overwhelmed by decision making.  If I feel like I have to buy too much stuff, I'll simply give up.  So, I really hope that doesn't happen.  

If you're looking for an easy way to scrapbook I still recommend Project Life.  Get a binder, a kit, page protectors, and that's it!  Don't make it overly complicated!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Black Bean Dip

I tried a new recipe on Sunday and I really liked it!

This Spicy Black Bean Dip gave me an excuse to use my food processor, which was nice.  I dumped all the ingredients in, turned it on and voila!  A nice, healthy bean dip that Mr. Higgins and I both greatly enjoyed.  I especially liked the cilantro - yum!  I liked it so much that I made another batch the next day!  (The recipe doesn't make a ton so if you're making this for more than four people, I'd double it.)

I love finding tasty new recipes!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Baby J's Cardigan

Almost a year ago, I set out to knit my second (sigh!) baby sweater.  And this time, I was determined to finish it.  Why?  Well, because it's for Baby J, of course!  My very favorite pseudo-niece! 

I started the project with my knitting buddy, CS.  She got me started on the pattern, which was not explained well, and then I was off.  I thought I would need help picking up stitches and knitting the sleeves but, thanks to YouTube, I did it all myself.  That makes me very happy!  Knitting is not something that comes naturally to me so when I accomplish a project, especially a complicated one, I'm very pleased. 

Here are the sweater details:

Pattern: Cabled Raglan Baby Sweater by Rebecca L. Daniels (free from Knitting Daily, and I got it on Ravelry)
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK
Needles: US 4
Made for: Baby J
Time to completion: 11.5 months

The Sirdar Bamboo was lovely to work with. The stitch definition is very, very nice so I highly recommend it! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Hubbard Glacier

On our Alaska cruise, we lucked out in a lot of ways.  Great weather, smooth water, and a healthy bunch of passengers and crew.  (Radiance had some problems on the cruise after ours - Norovirus broke out on the sailing back to Vancouver.  Eek!)  However, Alaska had an especially long winter.  This means that most bears were still hibernating (we only saw two from a distance) and it means that the ice field in front of Hubbard Glacier was still.....icy.  

We were unable to get very close to Hubbard Glacier...which is 600 feet tall, 76 miles long, and 7 miles wide!  On Mr. Higgins' previous Alaska cruise, three years prior and the same week as ours, they got within a half-mile of the glacier.  They were looking up at it.  We had to stop very far out.  The glacier was in the distance...impressive but not quite what I had hoped.  

But, then again, better than hitting an iceberg!

The bay and glacier were so beautiful!

That night, we sailed past some magnificent mountains.  These topped out at 18,000 feet, straight out of the water.  That's taller than anything in Colorado!  I was in awe. 

It was a very good day and night.  I love sailing past snow-covered mountains!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Veggie Recipes

Since I'm not buying much meat these days, some weekend nights I'll make us a selection of veggies.  Since we'd recently had baked okra (a summertime favorite of mine), I looked for other inspiration.  

- Green beans.  I hated - hated - green beans growing up.  But, then, my working mom always served canned green beans, never fresh.  In fact, the first time I had fresh green beans was on a cruise ship!  Since I was pretty sure I liked them, I bought some at the store and looked for a recipe.  I stumbled upon this one for Garlic Lemon Green BeansI was a bit apprehensive about the butter, so I scaled that back a bit.  The green beans turned out good, though not great.  I couldn't really taste any lemon and maybe just a hint of garlic.  I'll have to keep looking for a must-keep recipe!

- I love my Skillet Potatoes.  However, last time I made them, the house smelled like potatoes for three days!  So I looked for another way to cook the red potatoes I found at the store.  I'd pinned this recipe for Roasted Greek Potatoes and decided to give it a whirl.  The only thing I changed was nixing the mint; that seemed a bit strange to my tastes.  And though I felt like I was dumping thyme and oregano into the mixture, the potatoes were amazing!!  My only suggestion is to use plenty of non-stick spray!  This recipe is a keeper!!

And so it was a successful cooking day!  I still have lots of sweets on my summer cooking/baking list....but after spending July 4th with my parents, those will have to wait until I've shed a few pounds!  Ha!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cats and UTIs

Our little Dooku has had some serious bladder problems of late.  It's been quite traumatic for all involved.  Prior to this, I had no idea male cats were so susceptible to UTIs.

After a week of medicine, new food, and confinement in the bathroom, Dooku is a lot better.  Now my worry is that he won't eat his new food in favor of Sidious' food - his old food.  Not that either cat is eating much in the heat of summer. 

He's such a dear little guy; I hope this is the end of his bladder woes.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July Page

I was so looking forward to doing a July page for my Creative Memories frame.  It was fun to do.  I used paper from all over but the artwork is from Graphic 45.  Appropriately, silver star stickers came in my Studio Calico Scrapbook kit last month and I was able to put them to good use.   The washi tape was from an Etsy seller, I believe.  

A fun month!  The picture is from a fort on St. Kitts.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Alaska Cruise: From Skagway to the Yukon

One of our last stops on the Alaska cruise was Skagway, a small but charming town.  We got off the ship and immediately boarded a train that took us into Canda.

Once in Canada, we got off the train and boarded a van to head into the Yukon.  Wow!

It was a beautiful place, for sure.  We stopped at several lakes and saw waterfalls, snow, and wildlife.

 The end of our journey into Canada was Carcross, a very tiny town.  It's inhabitants are natives who enjoy their isolation.  We got our passport stamped here, which was pretty cool.

We then headed back to Skagway, a town that popped up during the gold rush.  It used to be quite the rowdy place...but now it's a sleepy town when the cruise ships aren't around.  

We saw so much this day!  It was a lot of fun!