Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to say Happy New Year to all of you and share this fun little card.  Even though my birthday is next week, I promise I didn't make it for myself. I made a version of this for our Primary. I'm the Secretary to the Primary President who along with the teachers takes care of everything for the children age 18 months to 11 in our ward at Church - about 70 children.

Simply click on the image and download it or print from there.  It's 4x5 inches (4 will fit on an 8x10) and 300 dpi.  You can use it as a gift tag or a card. Let me know what you think.  I'm new at this stuff.  In fact, I can start my Adobe Illustrator class tomorrow! I also designed a 5x7 fold over card.  Just head on over to my Photography Blog to get those. And don't forget about our facebook fan contest.  You can enter if you are already a fan or not.

Friday, December 25, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 25

I think this photo says it all. The Reason for the season.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 24

Christmas Eve

We were told that Christmas Eve at Temple Square is pretty slow. Uhm, maybe BEFORE the lights come on.  Anyway, we ran down to Temple Square to enjoy the lights and the many Nativity scenes.  Then we headed back to my parent's house and loaded up the car and got a quick bite to eat.  My Dad got off work (we were worried because we heard a helicopter fly over about the time he should have been leaving the hospital - guess the other pilot got there on time).  We arrived home to a chilly 14 degrees.  We baked cookies, went through our nightly routine, and got the kids in bed.  We talked with my parents for a while and then placed all of the gifts under the tree.  Most of the presents were from my parents this year, the rest from Great Grandpa and Grandma.  The best gift for me was the magic of the lights, spending time with my family, and giving gifts that I made.  That night my husband and I could hardly sleep we were so excited to see our children and their reaction the next morning.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 23

Grandma S loves to  make candy trains with the grandkids for Family Home Evening.  This year my daughter made her own all by herself.  My son sat next to me and made a few decisions, ate a few m&m's, and then it was off to play.

This is my daughter's train:

I'm think she left the wrapper on a few pieces of candy so that she can consume them on Christmas day.

This is my son's candy train, the one he let me decorate for him.

To photograph these I set them on the table about 12 feet from the tree.  Then I used the 12-24mm lens set at 24mm and put the focus on the chocolate Santa. I used aperture priority and set the ISO at 400 because it was cloudy and dim even with the blinds open.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 22

I can hardly believe that Christmas is almost here.  Each year moves faster and faster. Here is the other critter on this set of ornaments and you can really see how cracked it is.  I almost didn't put it on here. But this is a part of who we are and there will be a different photo to see tomorrow.

Today was a nice slow day for a change.  My son slept over at Grandma's last night and after I got my daughter off to school, I snuggled in for a little nap.  Then it was time to wrap presents; wash, dry, fold, and put the laundry away; make beds; pick up clutter; work on client gifts; and get ready for the bridal fair. My daughter went to play with her cousins after school.  I made some super cute calendars for some of my clients.  And then it was off to the salon.  I dropped the calendars off at the printer.  Then Pam did my nails and we talked over the new brochure I'll be making for her along with new names for salon services and prices, etc.   Then it was back to the printer to get my calendars and primary class name door hangers I had laminated.  Across the street I flew like a flash ... to pick up 24 - 4x6 photos from the grocery store. Then it was time to head home. My dinner was ready and waiting - thanks babe! It's been a long time since I had any downtime and it sure felt good.  I got so much done without feeling all crazy busy. Thanks to Aunt A and Grandma S for giving me the day off.  I feel so rejuvenated.

My daughter added some new coloring pages to her blog. Go check it out and please leave her a comment.  She's anxious to hear what others think of her work.

Monday, December 21, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 21

Grandma S gave us this lovely advent Calendar a few years ago as a Christmas present, but this is the first year my children have participated in this tradition.  It's magnetic and somehow over the years we've managed to keep all the pieces.

I'm sure you can guess who is in box #1.

 I think that because my children are finally excited about this tradition that next year I'll prepare ahead of time and place a scripture in each box to read each day as well.

 You know, this year I've felt the Spirit of Christmas stronger than ever before.  I don't know if it was because of being in Primary and working oh so many hours on their gift this year. AND the fact that we've scaled way back on gifts.  AND because business has been slow I've had more time to think instead of being so rushed to meet lab deadlines.  AND if it was because my husband read a chapter a night until it was done from The Forgotten Carols and played the CD as he went along all without being asked - totally his idea.  AND the Secret Santa who left a much needed and much appreciated gift on our porch last night.  AND the enjoyment I've received from making the scrapbook pages.  AND maybe it has something to do with the excitement in the eyes of my children.  AND the best ward Christmas party I've ever attended.  AND because the Great Grandparent's party was so much fun. AND because I just plain feel better since I've been able to drop one more medication post cancer.  AND because I know that the Lord answers prayers. AND because of the deeper knowledge of His Gifts for us.  I guess I know it's a combination of those things and so much more.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 20

This is definitely more of a tradition than a decoration.  Each year we have a party with The Great Grandparents.  But this is the first year that Santa has come to visit us. And I've never taken my children to the Mall for a photo with Santa. I think my daughter got to visit with Santa at the Festival of Trees a few years ago (a fundraiser for the children's hospital). So this was a special treat for them.

My son was too busy looking at Grandma who was video taping the insanity of a family party of 60 people with Santa in their midst. And of course we had to get our photo with Santa too.

I gave Great Grandma & Grandpa 8 new 8x8 inch scrapbook pages for their family history album. Great Grandma spent several hours talking with me about each of those 8 people.  I'm so grateful for the chance to write down those stories before they are lost.  The one thing that really stood out to me was when she was talking about her own mother and said, "I can tell you that she was a good mother..." and proceeded to tell me with why.  That good mother has affected generations and hundreds of descendants.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 19

I purchased the Noel and several other glittery words for my tree from Tai Pan Trading oh so many years ago with my mom.  I wanted to make my tree a little more Christ oriented.  I bought Faith, Believe, Noel, Peace, and Joy.

The ornament on the right is a rusty looking little star.  My mom gave me 6 last year on Christmas Day and I jumped for joy.  I placed them on the garland on my mantel.  This year I put them on my tree because I had them while I was decorating.  They are perfect.

When my Grandparents were here at Thanksgiving, my Grandmother said, "This house is just enough cabin and just enough home.  It's just warm and cozy."  This is the first time they've been up here since we moved in almost 3 years ago. I agree with her.  It has the wood doors, wood floors, and trim but sheet rocked walls instead of logs.  It's brighter that way but still cozy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 18

This is an authentic German nutcracker.  My husband lived in Germany for two years and purchased this when his parents came over on his way back home to the USA.  I love the knit hat and the skis.  Hmmm, maybe it's time to hit the slopes.  It's been too many years.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 17

We love the snow, so we brought a little of it in, in the form of plastic glitter covered snowflakes.  I put a nail on each side of the cabinet that spans my kitchen sink.  Then used fishing line.  I also added fishing line to the flakes, placed them at different levels, and scooted them across the line into place.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 16

The gingerbread ornaments - They look really cute from further away.  I learned a few things along the way.  Making Royal Icing is really easy.  It's really pretty - glossy.  If you want sprinkles to stick to it, you better not wait.  Pipe out a little bit at a time or at record speed. Add sprinkles.  Repeat until finished with cookie. Get bigger cookie cutters - the chunky sprinkles look like a bit much on these average size cookies.  And last of all, if I'm ever going to do this again, I must buy some cookie decorating supplies instead of making do with corner cut out of a ziploc bag. I do love how they turned out, simply because we made them with my children and they had FUN.

My daughter decorated this one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 15

I love the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. Maybe you saw our Haunted Gingerbread Houses? And we also made ornaments for our tree - photos coming soon. It's also very time consuming and I'm allergic to it - wheat flour that is- so my husband purchased this kit for the kids.  It had just the right amount of candy.

And the icing was royal icing. It dries nicely but it was a little difficult for my children to apply it but it was fun watching them decorate the train with just a little help from me.

I helped my son by applying a thick layer of icing where he wanted it. Then he went to work with the candy.  He got brave near the end and went to town on his own.

We are displaying it proudly in our home.  All of our decorations will stay up until my birthday in January.

Monday, December 14, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 14

Do you scrapbook? I do, did, hope to some more. I've been taking a mental break from it. Sad but true. But these photos make me WANT to scrapbook. I love the smiles of my children, their happiness, and excitement for life, winter, and snow.

Remember catching snowflakes on your tongue as a child? When was the last time you tried this? I honestly can't remember, so I'm going to have to change that the next time it snows. They were having so much fun. I enjoyed watching them, but I think next time I will have to join with them. This photo makes them look like they could just break out in song at any moment.

We love crazy winter hats.

And when was the last time you rolled around in the snow? Hmm...

Well, I better get back to work. Tomorrow I'll share photos of our candy gingerbread train. Actually my children decorated it. This time my husband bought the kit. He knows how exhausting this time of year is for me. All I had to do was melt the brown sugar, stick it all together and supervise.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 13

I've lived in Alaska and enjoyed each wonderful snowy Christmas. I've lived in Central America and while there my mom and I went caroling in shorts and t-shirts on horseback. I lived in the Southern United States too. But nothing says Christmas to me like a White Christmas. I grew up watching that movie and my sister gave me the DVD right after my husband and I got married. I've watched it every year since. I LOVE the snow. I love wet heavy snowman making snow. For me, one of the best Christmas decorations is snow. Besides, it hides our lack of landscaping.

And so while my husband was shoveling away, the kids and I got started. Of course my husband helped roll the middle and put it in place. The eyes are made from my daughter's rock collection. And I dug the button and mouth rocks out of the garden path. The carrot is from my garden too. It was split down the side and so I had thrown it in a pile in the garage awaiting the mulch pile.
Our snowman will greet you as you make your way up our steep and icy driveway. Hopefully you can drive by near dusk when there is still enough light to see him and the Christmas lights are on. We hope to make a whole family of snow people but we'll see if our schedule and weather permit.
And I also realized that I forgot to tell you about the train below. It's my son's geotrax RC train. It has snow caked along the sides. And this is also the first time we've had a train around the tree. I enjoy it way more than I thought I would. We took some of the basic trax pieces and encircled our tree. If you don't have a train under the tree, let me recommend it. It's been very fun!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 12

I have become painfully aware of something. And things have to change. Tonight I watched Julie & Julia. She was at a dead end. What could she lose? She became serious about something she loved and it brought her joy.

I'm not sure where I'm headed. It's not in the direction I've been taking so far - it's just not working anymore. But working on this - the 25 days of photos 'til Christmas has helped me photograph the things that are dear to me. Mostly I photograph the things or people that are dear to others. I dabble in a lot of things. Maybe it's time I got really serious. So while I am figuring things out and doing some serious soul searching, I will keep posting photos of the things I love and hold dear. My love of God, my Family, my Friends, and some holiday cheer! I know that Heavenly Father will give me the direction I need. I just hope I realize what it is He is telling me. Right now, as I think about Christmas I know that He is telling me he loves me, all of us really. And that is the best gift any of us can receive.

Friday, December 11, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 11

Kind of a cool ornament. Guess what I found tonight? My daughter wants to learn to cross stitch. Some of the ornaments on my tree I cross stitched years ago. In my digging I found four green foam ellipses just about the size of this ornament here. And I found my mini hot glue gun - it's easier to work with when things need to be precise. Now I just wish I had not thrown that bag of pine cones away. Maybe I'll find some or maybe I'll have to put this on my to-do list for next year. Or maybe I'll try a different coating. I've seen black beans, dried roses, etc. We'll just have to see what inspires me. Every make these on your own before? Any tips?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 10

When I saw this Nativity Set, I knew I had to have it. Willow Tree. I loved the feeling of humility that it portrayed. It was a very humble scene - young parents with very little money. Joseph was a carpenter, a laborer. No glowing heads, no fancy clothes. The baby Jesus is cradled in his mother's arms. Joseph has his hand over his heart as if in awe and gratitude over what has occurred. The only thing I wish it had was a manger because she eventually had to put that baby down and get some sleep, and so even if he is not in the manger in this scene there still needs to be one there. I added the angel that was given to me when I finished chemo and radiation 3 years ago this week. Her name is Courage and she has her arms up in the air and she is shouting for joy - which fits perfectly with the song 'Joy to the World'.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 9

In our home, we have 2 nativity scenes. This one is for my two children to play with and I keep it down at their level. Up until this year it's usually been scattered all over the living room. Thankfully now they've managed to keep it on the fireplace hearth most of the time or close by. I let them set it up however they wish.
Having a set for them to play with keeps my set safe. I'll post a photo of my set tomorrow. Do you have a nativity set, two, or more? When I served in the Washington DC North Mission for 18 months I got to help at the Visitor Center each winter. There they have a Creche display of dozens of different nativities from all over the world. And the Christmas lights were gorgeous. It was magnificent.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 8

The garland on my tree. It even has strands of wire throughout. It was just what our tree needed. Now I need to go get some sleep. My son has croup and we haven't slept much over the past 3 days. I'm praying that the meds work wonders tonight!

Monday, December 07, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 7

Ok, so today I shared 3 - one just wasn't enough for this huge decorative piece. And you know, I've never bothered to measure this thing. Maybe I should. Probably 16ft or so? Regardless it cost me about $2 in wire and then I added some left over ribbon and snow flakes. Gather the newest looking pine cones. If they are not on your property - please ask permission first - your neighbor may bless your name forever for being so kind as to clean up the pine cone mess.
Now you'll need to get rid of the bugs. Line your cookie sheets with aluminum foil and bake a single layer of pine cones for 45 to 60 minutes at 200 degrees in your oven. Let them cool while you are baking the next set. Then put them in a plastic bin and get out the wire. Make sure you leave nice big loops of wire at the ends for hanging.
I used 24 gauge wire or 20 gauge in green. I did this last year so I am not quite clear on everything. (chemo brain) I do remember this: wear gloves! Those nice leather yet feminine gardening gloves work wonders - unless you don't mind your hands being cut to ribbons. And I also kept a pair of needle nose pliers around for tricky spots.
I added the snowflakes this year. I think I need to get some gold glitter spray and go over them a few times. They are just too white against the pine cones. Do you make your own holiday decorations? I'd love to see them. Leave your link under the comments so I can make sure to take a peak.

3 year Cancerfreeversary

I hacked into Laura's account to wish her a Happy 3 year Cancer Free Day! She is a wonderful loving mother and wife whom I cherish and love dearly. So glad you made it through and still put up with me! :)

Tyler Vanderbeek

Sunday, December 06, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 6

My mother-in-law introduced me to using picks (I have no idea if this is the way picks is spelled in this case - so forgive me) on my tree. So about 3 years ago when I decided I no longer wanted the candy cane tree we had in our rather more modern looking home but rather a more rustic tree that would fit better in our more rustic new home, I waited until Anderson's had their 50-75% off sale on New Year's Day. It was also a time in my life when I had just finished cancer treatment and I knew I was probably still going to be alive for the next Christmas. I had really put things on hold the previous two years. So I trucked my bald head into the store and purchased a gorgeous wooden garland and some of these snow covered picks. I found the red berry picks at Tai Pan when I went shopping with my mom and sister the day after Thanksgiving - the only time I've even done that. Even with the 75% off I wasn't able to buy as many as I would have liked, but they really add to my tree and bring the feeling of the outdoors into my living room. So I slide on the snowy juniper picks and then slide the berry picks on top of those. The berries show up better with the lighter color underneath. These are the last Christmas decorations I have paid for. Last year I made a gorgeous pine cone wreath and garland. I'll share photos of them soon.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 5

Day 5 photo - My front door. I had a client who wanted to send out a Christmas card with her family photo on one side and on the other side a door with a wreath on it. So, I photographed my front door and wreath and added the poem she wanted to include.

I designed the rusty red paper myself and found these two incredible fonts that work so beautifully together. Hope you enjoy the poem. Click on the image below to see it larger.

Friday, December 04, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 4

So here it is. Now you can see what I meant. I bought the pearl garland at Michael's about 5 years ago. I didn't use it around the sleigh until last year. And it's one of those things that happened quite by accident. I tossed the garland on the table next to the sleigh. It's one of those pleasant coincidences like using the wrong keyboard shortcut in photoshop and a whole new incredible look is created. Well, it's great as long as you remember how you did it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 3

This is another favorite decoration of mine. My mom bought it for me. I surrounded it with a pearl garland which makes the sleigh look like it's kicking up snow. I might have to post a different photo from another angle so you can see what I mean. The deer is frosted plastic and the antlers are really cool - they're magnetic - so no worries about them breaking off. The sleigh is the only part that is glass. I'v had this for about 8 years now. Take care of your decorations and they'll last a lifetime or longer.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 2

These are the first ornaments we purchased for our tree and the only ornaments we purchased our first Christmas together. Tyler and I were walking through Dillards and saw these. His eyes lit up and I loved them too. Just our style. They are all cracked now and we have to hot glue the tops back on several each year but I can't get rid of them and there is no way to replace them. Do you have a sentimental attachment to any of your Christmas ornaments? What is your fondest memory?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

25 photos 'til Christmas - Day 1

This is the first Christmas decoration Tyler bought for me. It is a very simple glass nativity set with Mary, Joseph, & the Christ child along with the three wise men. It's been 10 years now and I still love bringing this out and displaying it. I love sentimental stuff! Of course I also have a Willow Tree nativity which I love.

I still haven't purchased anything for my children for Christmas. Need to get on the ball with that. I did finally finish the scrapbook pages for my in-laws and I have several done for my parents and siblings.

Some of my friends do the whole 4 gifts thing: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.

Some of them buy only three gifts for their children because the Savior received 3 gifts from the wise men.

Some of them go all out.

One of them makes sure that her children get 2 gifts from Santa and if they have more money they can get more gifts but if they are struggling then they only get gifts from Santa.

I haven't decided what I am going to do other than I want to keep it simple. A few years ago I bought a large nativity set and display it in the living room. That made all of the difference in the world for me.

How do you handle the whole gift exchange idea? I'd love your input.