Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cute things they say...

I found these cute little Clementine mandarin oranges at Costco this week. I loved that they were the perfect size for snacking and lunch boxes. Rather than peeling an orange to divide among 3 kids, I can just give them their own. Well, Zachary is fine with peeling his. Abbie prefers a banana. And Jacob, who just turned 6, can't exactly peel an orange yet.

This morning when I was groggily making lunches, I had the fruit laid out. Jacob reminded me that he needs his orange peeled. I assured him that I definitely planned on peeling his before packing it in his lunch.

After school, this is what Jacob said to me:

"Mommy, I couldn't hatch my orange."

"What?" I said. "Hatch your orange???"

"My teacher had to open it for me," Jacob said. "But then I could peel it myself!"

Of course I apologized for my oversight! And ran to pick up an extra orange and the camera to document this cute moment!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Teacher Appreciation Gifts!

One of my favorite pastimes is making albums for other people. And when I am hired to make albums for others, it is even better! In my former career, I did quite a bit of desktop publishing and publication design. I did so much, in addition to my regular job, that colleagues started asking me to design their flyers, invites, and brochures. I loved it! I found great satisfaction in tailoring the graphics, layout, and fonts to fit their personality and the event or program they were promoting.

When I began scrapbooking 12 years ago, doing custom albums for hire was a natural progression. It has truly been my joy and my honor to be entrusted to create special albums for others. It has always been fun for me! I have one client who commissioned 20 albums over the course of two years. Other clients have had me create special gift books to commemorate a special anniversary, or a child's high school graduation. Wedding books and baby books are always especially enjoyable. In the beginning, everything I completed was with traditional scrapbooking techniques. But for the past few years, I have been doing lots with digital books and pages, too.

Many of my clients are people who love the look of scrapbooks, but do not feel inclined or able to make them for themselves. Almost all have been only too happy to leave all the creative details to me. I consult with them to determine style and theme, as well as the goals and purpose of the project. I am usually working with photos, so I make sure I understand how they all fit together and who the principal people are. But then I am on my own to create!

I find it very interesting when people who actually scrapbook, and enjoy scrapbooking, ask me to do albums for them! On one hand, I am happy to have the work and love a new project. On the other, it is a little intimidating to scrapbook for a scrapbooker! I am always learning and adapting ideas from my scrapbooking buddies, so I definitely don't claim to be the best page designer ever!

I am a very project-oriented person. I throw myself into each project... become fully immersed in the process... and have the ideas flowing even when I am away from the work. I find inspiration in the pictures, or the materials I am using, or the person for whom I am creating the book. I love having a new project by which to be inspired!!!

Recently, I was finishing up a commissioned baby album (which I still haven't shared -- but will soon!) when I was contacted to create end-of-the-year gift albums for the teachers of a client's children. For this project, she wanted predecorated albums. She plans to add the photos and the finishing touches herself .

These are 8" x 8" books, with 24 sleeves each to hold the layouts. I used an Elementary Power Palette Kit. While an 8x8 Kit is available in this design, I didn't choose it. By opting to use the 12x12 kit and trim it down, I ended up with enough supplies to complete two albums from one kit! I just had to supplement with 16 additional sheets of extra card stock.

When I trimmed the 12x12 sheets of decorated papers down to 8x8, I first trimmed off a 4" x 12" strip. Next, I cut a 4" x 8" strip from the largest piece, to arrive at an 8x8 piece of paper. I used the trimmed "scraps" to decorate a complementary page for each two-page spread. With two albums finished, I still have lots of scraps left over!

These books will be from the class to the teacher, so the children's names will be added. I made up some title blocks with the names of each child... some cute lettering off my computer printed onto nice cardstock, and matted with a bit of black cardstock. I left these off the pages for now so that they can be added with the photos.

It really is kind of hard to visualize what these pages will look like when they are finished, with photos on them... but I think they will look great! At least two photos will fit on each page. More pictures can be added if they are smaller.

I just know that these teachers are going to love these gifts!!! But not because of my layouts. These albums will be treasured for the faces, the stories, and the memories they contain. Because that is what it is really all about.
Who can you bless with an album?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tasty Tuesday! Simple Salmon

My blog friend Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam is the new host of the Tasty Tuesday Parade of Food! Click on over there for lots of inspiration and links to other yummy dishes. I was excited to participate with my own easy, yet impressive, recipe!

Whether on the grill, or under the broiler, I love to cook salmon this way. It makes any dinner seem like a special occasion. This is a great dish for company. And it is soooo easy to fix! My mom is visiting from Arizona, so we made this salmon Friday. Truly, it is so simple, a 12 year old could make this.

Start with some simple ingredients:
  • Salmon (I get mine at Costco... this is about 1.5 pounds, fresh)
  • Foil (Wrapping in foil makes it easy to grill or broil... and clean up is a breeze!)
  • Herbs & spices (If you have fresh herbs, wonderful! If not, improvise with whatever you like.)
  • Fresh Lemon (Optional, but it really adds something special.)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A couple dashes of Olive Oil

Lay a large piece of foil out on a big cookie sheet. Add a bit of olive oil to keep the salmon from sticking. If your salmon has the skin still on, then you would lay it directly onto the oiled foil, skin side down.

If your salmon is without skin, then you will want to season both the top and the bottom. Start with a row of sliced lemons across the foil.

Next, add your seasonings. If you had fresh herbs, you could lay them down on top of the lemon. Dill, rosemary, thyme, cilantro... all are delicious! I only had dried herbs, so that is what we used. See how easy this is? Oh, look... My 12 year old son is prepping the salmon!

Lay the slab of salmon onto the bed of spices and lemons. Then season the top.... salt & pepper, herbs and spices. Zachary is using garlic, paprika, and herbes de Provence.

Finally, end with a layer of lemon slices. Add a drizzle of olive oil across the top.

Wrap it up in foil. I wrap it twice, and make sure that all the seams are tight. If I were grilling (it was too soggy outside to grill this time, unfortunately), I would turn the grill burners on high and lay the foil packet right onto the grill. For the broiler, I keep the foil packet on a cookie sheet.

Somewhere along the way I heard that fish should be cooked 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. So, when I prepare salmon, I put it under the broiler for 6 minutes. Then I flip the packet and cook for another 5 minutes. On the grill, I follow the same procedure... 6 minutes on the first side, flip, and 5 minutes onto the second side. It usually turns out perfectly!!! But, if you open it up and check it and find that it is underdone, you can close it up and put it back for another 2-4 minutes.

Doesn't that look delicious?!?

If you had a big crowd, you could prepare several large pieces of salmon early in the day. After seasoning and wrapping up the packets, you would refrigerate them until close to serving time. Fifteen minutes before serving, pull them out and throw them on the grill or under the broiler. Your grill could accommodate 4-5 salmon packets, if it is about the size of mine. You could probably put 3 packets under the broiler, directly on the rack without a cookie sheet underneath.

Can you imagine... a beautiful, tasty main course ready in just 10 minutes! If I have leftovers, I love it the next day for lunch on top of a salad. My husband likes to have salmon with eggs in the morning. But we usually don't have many leftovers!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Praying for Stellan

Prayers for Stellan

This precious baby boy that I don't even know has been on my heart all week, and most of last week, too. He is hospitalized with a heart condition. He seems to be turning a corner, but his family and doctors still have many decisions to make. You can read all about him on his mama's blog, My Charming Kids. I also like this post that Jennifer of the Magic Brush wrote about Stellan this week. She captured my thoughts so much better than I could. I am praying for this little guy... actually our whole family is!
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