Friday, February 26, 2010

A Little Makeover!

Since my last post was so not pretty, this one is all about pretty!!! I am so excited about my new Digital Content Collection! As soon as I saw the Simply Beautiful Power Palette at the Creative Memories Regional Saturday a couple weeks ago, I knew an update to my blog was in order. The UPS man delivered my new products today, and this evening I started playing!!! The Simply Beautiful Digital Content Collection includes the digital Power Palette Kit, including papers, wordart, and other embellishments to use with StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0 Software. It also includes 30 predesigned pages for quick digital layouts. I am happy to have a fresh new look for spring on my blog!

And in other news, I am approaching my 100th post! I am thinking I will have to have another giveaway to celebrate... so be sure to come back!!!

I Made It Blog Party I'm participating in a blog party at Everything Etsy!
I'm also linking up with Kimba's DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land!

Monday, February 22, 2010

This is so not a pretty post...

Have you ever wondered about the name of my blog? Artfully arranged disarray... basically a mess, like a basket full of clutter with some pretty fabric on top to hide what's inside... that's me. I try to look good on the outside. If I know you are coming to visit, I will definitely be tidying up. On my blog, I try to be upbeat, encouraging, and write about pretty things. I always have a pretty picture or two. But this is definitely not a pretty post.

Ever since early adolescence, I have focused a good bit of time and attention on my hair. My hair is thick, and right now sort of long, and ends up everywhere in the bathroom when I brush it. I have found that I can't wash my hair more than two or three times a week. It just works better and looks better that way. I am somewhat fanatical about keeping my hairbrush clean and clear of hair. In the shower, I have this habit I developed some years ago. As I am washing and rinsing my hair, I gather all the loose hairs that end up on my hands and save them on the glass door. When my shower is done, I swirl them into a little bundle to throw away. I would rather dispose of them in the trash, than have them clogging up the drain. {I told you this was not a pretty post.}

Friday morning, I was reading my Bible, praying, and planning my day. I had ended my reading in Psalm 139...

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
~Psalm 139:23-24

I hadn't planned to wash my hair that day, but I felt led by the Lord to do so. I felt that He was telling me to "be cleansed". I cooperated and went to take a shower.

I was a little surprised, as I showered, that water began to build up around my ankles. I wondered why the shower was draining so slowly. Why was there a clog?

When I was done, I wiped down the shower walls. I decided to pull back the drain cover. I was suddenly, unexpectedly confronted by a black, slimy, smelly mess! I was shocked by what I pulled out of that drain. And disgusted. Handfuls of hair that over time had slipped, unnoticed, down the drain.

And I knew that I was looking at my own heart.

The stray hairs I capture during my shower as I run my hands through my hair, are like the little sins I confess as I go throughout my day. "Lord, forgive me for yelling at my kids." "Lord, I'm sorry I was weak and ate those cookies." "Forgive me, God, for being impatient with that clerk." I can feel good about myself because I am doing my best to live a godly life. Right?

Meanwhile, down the drain, over time those hairs that escaped were like the sins building up in my heart and putrifying in my soul. To a Holy God, sin is sin, and it's all bad. Being blind to sin doesn't erase it. The disgusting mess in the drain was like the unconfessed sins in my heart... judgement, pride, self-righteousness, laziness, fear, worry, unbelief, selfishness, unforgiveness... ugly and offensive.

In that moment, I thanked my Sovereign Lord for showing me the darkness of my heart, for bringing it into His glorious Light and Truth. I confessed. I repented. I rejoiced. And I put on gloves and cleaned the shower. I was cleansed.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
~1John 1:9

The same day, in another state, a sweet sister-in-Lord was overtaken by the darkness. She attempted to end her own life. I have no idea what pain, anguish, and circumstances led to her act. My heart is breaking for my friend and her family. I am praying because I don't know what else to do.

But I do know that our enemy wants us bound and defeated. He wants us to believe lies and turn away from the Truth of God's unfailing love. None of us is immune to his snares. In our own way, each of us is a mess. Any of us can fall into a pit.

So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!
~1Corinthians 10:12

I know that apart from Jesus, I can do nothing. I am thankful for His saving grace and His mercies that are new every morning. I am thankful that He loves me enough to show me my sin, and then He forgives me when I repent. This is comforting to know, because over time, my drain is bound to become clogged again. Because I am a mess.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afriad. The LORD, the LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.
~Isaiah 12:2

Each Tuesday, Emily at Chatting at the Sky unwraps the gifts of ordinary days. I am linking up with her this week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More Groceries From God!

I love it when Harris Teeter has their "Super Doubles" coupon event! This week, through Tuesday, they will double coupons up to $1.98 in value. Normally, they only double coupons worth $.99 or less.

Today, I went through the grocery aisles with my sorted coupons, looking at the shelves for the products for which I had a $1 off coupon. My goal was to get the best deal possible! I rarely use a coupon on an item unless it is on sale. But with the Super Doubles, I do make an exception. They only allow 20 coupons per day, so I stopped shopping when I had hit my 20. I was so pleased with my full cart of groceries for only $15.66!!! It was over $80 worth of groceries.

Yes, all of the above was totally free!

  • The canned fruit was 3 cans for $2. I had coupons for $1 off of 3 cans. Then that coupon was doubled... so 9 cans of fruit and 3 $1 coupons means that all of the fruit was free!
  • I had a $2 off coupon for cereal, and it happened to be on sale for $2. {My rule is not to pay more than a dollar for a box of cereal! Most of our cereal costs me $.50 or less per box.}
  • I am a loyal Harris Teeter shopper, so the lettuce was courtesy of a printed coupon that was spit out with my receipt last week.
  • This week Harris Teeter has Barilla pasta, buy two and get three free. Two boxes of pasta cost $1.50 each, for a total of $3. And I got 3 additional boxes for free. {Our family just loves the mini bow ties!!!} BUT, I had a $1 off of two boxes of Barilla, which was doubled. So I really paid $1 total for 5 boxes of pasta.

So here is everything I got for $15.66! Tonight, I can feed my family popcorn shrimp, caesar salad, and fruit for about 50 cents a serving. That is my kind of fast food! I am so thankful for Groceries from God!

She sees that her trading is profitable... ~Proverbs 31:18a

Monday, February 15, 2010

Keep It. Simple.

This weekend was the Creative Memories Regional Saturday! I was really looking forward to attending... and then it started snowing Friday night. A lot. We woke up Saturday morning to more than 6" of snow! And pretty snow it was. All the branches were covered, so our yard was a winter wonderland. Zachary cleared my windshield, and Gil let me hit the road at 9am while the family played in the snow. The first few miles were a bit treacherous, but once I got to the freeway, the roads were fine! Regional Saturday was an opportunity to celebrate all things about album-making and picture-taking! I met some really sharp women, got excellent training, saw cool ideas, and fun, fun, FUN new products! I am happy to give you a sneak peek here {click any image to enlarge}! The Power Sort Box has been redesigned. I know it is going to be very popular. I love it!

We have a gorgeous, new album color! It is called Plumberry, and it is just luscious!!! All these new products will be available for ordering March 1st. This album definitely has my name on it!

These new Classic Birthday and Classic Easter stickers are just too cute! And how fun is this new {Limited Edition} Butterfly Pocket Punch?!?! It locks closed to take less storage space. Smart and stylish.

You know I love Paper Albums! They make such a cute, quick gift. I like sending them instead of cards. Well, this new one is extra special!!!

This {Limited Edition} Beautiful Day Recordable Paper Album Kit lets you record a 20-second message! The beautiful design is perfect for Mother's Day.... or for new babies... or for friends.... {Limited Edition means they will go fast, too. We were also told us that a recordable Father's Day design will be coming!}

The Beautiful Day 12x12 Additions adapts the pretty papers from the Paper Album Kit for traditional scrapbooking. Of course, it is also available as Digital Content for StoryBook Creator. I think these papers are sooo sweet!

This lovely card was made with the Beautiful Day Additions!

I can't wait to get my hands on this Jumbo Wavy Square Cutting Pattern to use with the Custom Cutting System. It will cut a square or frame 11.625" wide! So many fun possibilities with this cool tool.

The new Simply Beautiful 12x12 Power Palette System and components were introduced. I am totally in love with these happy, colorful papers and accents. Power Palettes are coordinated papers, stickers, and embellishments designed to complete an entire album. They are quick, fun, and easy, so you have gorgeous pages, fast. And they also come in digital and digital predesigned pages!

Happy! Happy! {Simply Beautiful Milestones Kit... meant for your slip-in PicFolio sleeves, but I love them as bold accents on scrapbook pages, or to use in cardmaking.}

Joy! Joy! Love these tags and paper flowers from the Simply Beautiful Power Palette!

And for even more fun, the Simply Beautiful Cards Featured Project gives you everything you need to make 16 gorgeous cards in one sitting. What a fun girls' night event this would make!

So sweet!

So happy and fun!

I am so glad I braved the elements to go to Regional Saturday. I even got to meet the President of Creative Memories, Asha Morgan Moran! I am so excited about this company and all our simple solutions for helping people enjoy their pictures. I am looking forward to growing my business and growing my team! I would love to help you with ordering our awesome products, hosting a fun Get Together, or starting your own Creative Memories business!!!

I am glad I didn't let the snow keep me at home! Which products do you want to see in person?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Valentines!

Happy Valentine's Day! Friday, the kids took their Valentines to school to pass out. I used my cute, new Love Struck Maker to edge the paper bags they took for their exchange. It looked so cute on my kids' bags, that I used it to decorate this little bag of freshly baked brownies. I went to help my sweet friend Melanie pack for her upcoming move and thought chocolate was essential to the process!

This morning I get to teach Sunday School. I trade off Sundays with another sweet friend, Jenny, and today is my turn to teach our first graders. I made these cards up to give to our group. It hope they know how much we care for them! {It's also Jenny's birthday today. Happy Birthday, Jenny!!!}

But my this was my favorite Valentine of all! Why make just a card, when you can make a 12x12 scrapbook page!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Exciting Saturday Plans! I hope...

I have been soooooo looking forward to the Creative Memories Regional Conference. It is fun time of training, networking, and new products! I am supposed to leave at 8am Saturday to spend the day at this awesome, all-day event. However, right now, the snow has been coming down here for the past 3-4 hours, dusting everything with beautiful white. We were predicted to only get an inch or two, with it ending long before morning. I have been praying the roads will be safe enough for me to make my trip in the morning! {As a former Colorado resident, the weather doesn't seem like such a big deal... however, here in the south, the roads are not sanded, so icy roads in the morning could be an issue.}

What was just a dusting at 6pm, is now a good 3". Gil doesn't think I will make it to my conference. I'll keep you posted!

My Sweet Valentines!

Last year I showed off some cute Valentine's Day cards I made with the help of my kids. {You can peek at them again here!} Here are this year's Valentines! The kids are passing them out at school today.

I actually make these as two 2x3" cards on one 4x6" photo. Once I upload them and get them printed as photos, I cut them in half. They are very economical!

I love making my own, custom cards for any occasion! If I had gotten my act together a little sooner, I would have been taking orders to make custom Valentines. Maybe next year...
Sunday I will show you the Valentine I made for Gil!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Praying for Miracles

Ellie Potvin

I have mentioned Ellie and her fight against cancer before {here} on my blog. I receive email updates from Amy, Ellie's mom, through Ellie's Caringbridge site. I just opened up the most recent update and was blown away by Amy's post. I know you will be blessed if you read it, too. {Go here to read it; scroll down to 2/11/2010 if necessary.} And please keep praying for this sweet family.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2 hours & 40 minutes

Our family has been on a journey for the past few years. That journey hasn't always been pleasant or easy, but we have seen the Lord's hand on us throughout. Four years ago my husband accepted a position that caused our family to move across the country. Sixteen months after that, he was suddenly, unexpectedly let go. After a year of living off of and depleting all our resources, Gil started working in a new field, not at his previous executive level, but pretty much starting at the bottom, and at one-third of the pay.

I am proud for the lessons my husband has learned through this journey. His faith has become part of his heart, rather than just head knowledge. He has learned humility, patience, and perseverance. And he learned that his former workaholic lifestyle was causing him to miss a lot of what was most important: time with his family. We both have learned to walk by faith and trust in the Lord day by day and minute by minute. We couldn't have survived this journey without the Lord, that's for sure!

At the end of February last year, my husband started a new job. While we were glad that he had this job, it came with a tough schedule: noon-9pm. You see, by working that schedule, Gil would get paid an extra $1.80 an hour, a "shift differential". As a man who was striving to provide for his family, Gil felt he was doing what he needed to do to take care of us. That $1.80 an hour added up $300 a month --$300 that brought our not-meeting-ends a little closer together.

The new schedule cost our family dearly. For a year, the only time Gil saw the kids during the week was through sleepy eyes in the midst the morning rush to school. They go to bed by 8:30, so he never saw them in the evening. Even Zac, who has a later bedtime, was in bed by the time Gil got home. We are a family that is used to sitting down to the dinner table together; but since that job started, we never had Gil with us for dinner. It has been really hard for us all.

Well, several weeks back, Gil had a revelation. God caused him to look at his situation from a completely new perspective. While the enemy would like to have Gil feel trapped and bound by the fear of losing that $1.80 per hour... God showed Gil something new. He showed Gil that a mere 2 hours & 40 minutes each week of overtime would provide the same $300 per month that the shift differential provided. Since Gil has the opportunity to work a couple half-days on Saturdays each month, or can be at work early after dropping the kids at school each day, getting that 2 hours & 40 minutes of overtime is more than possible.

Two hours & 40 minutes was the key to freedom for our family! A month ago, my husband got to switch his shift to days!!! And now...

...Gil gets to be greeted in the evening when he comes home by excited, happy children who are thrilled to have their daddy around

...I look forward to having Gil home before dinner so we can enjoy a few minutes together to share our days

...Our family gets to have dinner together each night

...I have more incentive to make special meals since it is not just me and the kids

...Gil & I now have a date to pray as a couple each night at 7:30 {sadly, fitting in a consistent prayer time wasn't happening before}

...Rather than staying up each night until 10 or 11 because that was the only time I got to spend with Gil, I can go to bed early when I need to

...We can now make plans on weekday evenings and open our home to friends again

...Gil can attend the kids' school events that come along in the evenings

...The small group we have hosted in the past can now be restarted

...Gil can coach soccer again, and the kids can play

...Abbie & Jacob have their daddy here to tuck them in and say prayers with them each night

...Zac has the opportunity to hang out with his dad in the evening & bond over "Survivor"

...Gil seems to have more energy on the weekends now that he is not working nights, so that means more family time then, too!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~ Phillipians 4:4-7

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
~ Phillipians 4:19

Two hours and forty minutes. Such a small sacrifice. Because of 2 hours & 40 minutes, my family can now have dinner together again. I am so thankful for this gift!

I am unwrapping this gift today with Emily at Chatting at the Sky. Head over there to find links to other gifts of the everyday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars

I made this yummy dessert for the Ladies Night I recently attended! These bars are super simple to make, only have a handful of ingredients, but are incredibly rich!!! I got the recipe from the source of many of my good recipes, a Penzeys Spices catalog. {Looking up that web address has reminded me that it's been a while since I've received their inspiring catalog, so I just got myself back on their mailing list!}

Penzeys, if you don't know, sells mail order spices, and they also have a few stores nationwide. You can order high-quality spices in small quantities, or in bulk at considerable savings. It has been a while since I have been able to order from them, but it is one of my favorite food resources. Their catalog always has several recipes, and I tear out the ones that appeal to me. Turns out, if you go to their website, you can see many of their recent recipes!

So, here is the Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bar recipe for you to try!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend together the flour, brown sugar, and butter until particles are fine crumbs. Pat into ungreased 13x9 glass pan. Sprinkle top with:

  • 1 cup pecans, whole or chopped


  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Put caramel ingredients into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a full boil and boil for one minute, continuing to stir constantly. Pour over crust and pecans. Bake for 20 minutes -- do not overbake. When you remove the bars from the oven, sprinkle the top with:

  • 1-2 cups chocolate chips

The amount of chocolate you use depends on your preference. {I love chocolate, so I tend to go overboard. As you can see from my photo, I obviously used the full two cups. I also used really good 60% dark chocolate chips. I should have used a cup, to a cup and a half so the other flavors would come through more.} When the chips have melted, spread them evenly over the crust. It is suggested that you cut these while they are still warm, since the chocolate will eventually set up. Let me know if you try this recipe. Enjoy!!!

I am linking up with Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for Tasty Tuesday!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Honey!!!

My sweet husband had a birthday this week! Last year we had a party... but this year we didn't really make any plans. I tried to find out what kind of cake Gil wanted, but he didn't have much input for me. He also had to work on his birthday.

While he was at work, I had fun making him some cupcakes! I am not any kind of expert when it comes to cake decorating, but sometimes I do like to pull out my supplies and play. And, I admit, I baked what sounded good to me: Almond Poundcake for the cupcakes, with Almond-flavored Cream Cheese icing! By the time I was ready to frost them, Abbie was home from school, so she picked the color.

Gil's birthday was on a Wednesday, which is our night to go to church. Gil and I attend an awesome Bible study, Abbie & Jacob go to Awana, and Zac goes to the youth service. Wednesday evenings can be a bit of a rush, trying to get dinner, get out of the house, and be at church by 6:15. But, since it was a special occasion, we decided that we would go out to eat to celebrate Gil!!!

We combed through our coupons and chose Qdoba, a fast-casual Mexican place which is also on the way to church. By the time Gil got there, we were settled at a table, our food in front of us, with cute cupcakes to greet him! We so very, very rarely go out to eat, so this was a treat for all of us. {Dinner for five of us was under $13!}

Gil is a wonderful, wonderful husband and an awesome father. He is dedicated to improving our marriage and living a godly life. I love him and respect him SO much! I am extremely thankful to the Lord that He blessed me with Gil!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ladies Night

We attend a large church. A very large church. Consequently, our Sunday school class is also very large. In fact, it is larger than most of the churches we have attended! Our class is led by our church's executive pastor (one of 9 pastors on staff!). One of the ways that connection happens in our Sunday school class is through bi-monthly Ladies Nights. These usually involve desserts in someone's home. Our pastor's wife always attends, but you never know who else will be there.

Now, I am the type of girl who likes to curl up with a cup of tea and a good friend for a nice chat. Walking into a room full of people and trying to connect in a meaningful way... well... it sort of terrifies me! In a group, I am usually the quiet observer. Small talk is definitely not my gift!

I have been in this Sunday school class for almost 3 years... I finally attended a Ladies night over a year ago. It seemed like there were 40 women there! It was very overwhelming. It was nearly a year before I tried again. But then I attended one that only had about 10 women who showed up. It was so much nicer, and I did feel more able to connect with the other women.

One of the greatest blessings of attending these nights is getting to know Kim, our pastor's wife, better. She is just hilarious and I laugh so much when I am around her. She is real, approachable, and down to earth. I have gotten to know some other women better, too.

So, even though it requires great effort on my part, I am committed to attend these events. But truly, up to the last minute, I am ready to back out. I know I need friends. I need time with other women. I crave that so much. But I really have to fight with myself to go to these Ladies Nights.

One of my strategies to make sure I will go is to volunteer to make a dessert. Well, last night we were having a Ladies Night, so I made Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars. By 4pm, I was really wishing I didn't have to go. I was wondering if there was a way to show up, drop off my dessert, and flee! At 6:45 when it was time to leave, it was raining! I really didn't want to go out in that. But I was committed. As I kissed Gil goodbye, I told him I wouldn't be staying long.

At last night's Ladies Night, only 8 of us were there! We enjoyed hanging out in the kitchen, drinking tea, and drooling over the desserts. I knew 4 of the women, and met 3 new ladies. We all had a really nice time! I was glad I went! And I didn't even leave early.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Just Add Pictures!

So over the weekend, we were sort of stuck indoors due to the snow. I finally completed my inventory for my CM business, and found some fun supplies that were not being enjoyed to their fullest. I wanted to do some scrapbooking over the weekend, so here is what I made.

The cover of this sweet little 7x7 album is a pretty green.... the camera didn't do it justice.

I put this little album together with the retired "Inspiration" kit I had on hand. I love the rich, warm colors. To set off the beautiful papers, I decided to hand-color the edges of the pages with my metallic bronze pen. I like how that turned out!

Click on any photo to enlarge and see in more detail. It really is much prettier in person.
Each page is 7"x7", with 24 pages in the album.

Each page is ready for a photo, and maybe some handwritten notes.

Wouldn't this make a sweet and meaningful Valentine's gift?

This little scrapbook makes a perfect quick gift for someone you love... just add pictures!
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