Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Break

Ahhh...the week between Christmas and New Years.  I always have such high hopes for this week.  Out with the old, in with the new.   I love the anticipation of the NEW year and all the possibilities that come with it.  It's like holding a lottery ticket in your hand.  Until you actually scratch off the foil there's always the dream of it being THE ticket. 

So during this week I try to shed the old year (purge, organize, and re-organize) and try to prepare for the new, fresh year that is before me. 

Usually that's how it happens. 

This year?  Not so much.  At least  not so far

It's not that I don't WANT to do these mind is racing with all that I should be doing (and want to be doing)...but this year is different because my kids are home.   Ok...they were home last year too....but last year they were ALWAYS home.  This year they are just home for a couple weeks and then back to college.  So, we've been watching movies and playing cards and hanging out.  My girls and I can play cards for hours....and hours!  And, somehow that seems like a better use of my time than cleaning out files and organizing my least for right now.

But there are still 6 days left of my break.....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday with family and friends! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Diet Pepsi....goodbye my friend!

We used to be inseperable.  Me and the 20 oz bottle.  Me and the ice cold can.  Walk in the door at work first thing in the morning and pop open a can.  Lunch?  Another can.  Mid afternoon...cans all gone, time for a bottle from the vending machine.  Looking for something after last can. 

No more.  Nada.  Nothing.  Zip. 

It's been 3 or 4 months since I just decided THAT'S IT.  NO MORE DIET PEPSI.  I'm not sure the exact date.  It was a concious decision but not one that I noted on the calendar although I could have, it was a definite date.  It wasn't a "oh, I'll have one less can today."  It was more like "ok, I'm done."  

My girls gave up pop years ago.  Sure they'll have an occasional glass at a restaurant...but not very often.  They've also been telling me for years that it was SO bad for me.  Did I listen?  Nope.

But one day early this fall I decided I just didn't want to drink it anymore.  I'm not going to bore you with all the reasons why diet pop (or soda...if you're of that persuasion!) is so bad for you.  I'm sure you either know or suspect.  I will tell you what giving it up did for ME.

I won't lie.  The first thing that happened was that I had a headache.  That's a MAJOR understatement!  Total monster headache for a full week to 10 days.  I held out though.  I knew I could do it.  Finally the headache subsided and life was good.  No more dragging those big, heavy cubes of 24 cans home from the store.  No more squeezing cans into my lunch bag in the mornings.  No more scrounging for crisp dollar bills or quarters for the vending machine.  Right away I decided, "wow, this is actually going to SAVE me money!"  I hadn't thought about that benefit before.

Anyway, day after day I substituted a bottle of water (reusable water bottle!) for the syrupy drink that once sat on my desk.   Soon I noticed that I wasn't making the trip down the hallway to the little girls room quite so often.  Cool.  I also noticed that without that sugary taste in my mouth I was less likely to indulge in other sweets (and my office is FULL of them unfortunately!).   Almost immediately I dropped 10 pounds.  Now remember I was drinking DIET Pepsi...but giving it up still made me lose weight!  Amazing!

After about 6 or 8 weeks I noticed that I felt less fatigued and depressed.  My mind felt clearer and I was able to cope with things better.  I didn't really connect it to the absence of the Diet Pepsi at first.  In fact I may have never connected the two things but I ran across a blog post about giving up pop and it mentioned the corelation.  Duh, I thought.  Makes sense.

Skin?  Clearer. 

Another benefit was that I no longer felt bloated and gas-y (sorry!) all the time.  Since I have acid reflux (yeah, probably a result of so much pop!)  it often felt like I was pouring fire-in-a-bottle down my throat.  And, pop with my pizza?  Ouch.  I was never sure which made me feel worse...the fire or the bloat. 

It didn't take long until I really no longer even desired the once-tempting liquid.  Sure, every once in awhile when someone at work pops the tab, I feel nostalgic for a swig...the cool can in my hand.  But I just smile and think "nope....I don't need or want it."

I must admit though, I haven't been completely perfect in my NO DIET PEPSI quest.  I think I've had maybe 2 or 3 cans since I officially gave it up months ago.  Today was the latest slip.  Actually I can't really call it a "slip".  Afterall, it's not like you can accidently guzzle a can of pop.  Call it a weak moment.   I was doing a little last minute shopping on my way home from work.  As I was walking through the second store my mouth was so dry that I could hardly swallow.  Instead of searching for a machine with water, I just grabbed the Diet Pepsi that was in the case in my checkout line.  It was SO cold.   But the first sip reminded me that I'm SO OVER IT.  It didn't even taste good anymore.  I drank about a third of the bottle on my drive home...and immediately felt bloated (and regretful).  Wouldn't you know it, there was pizza on the table when I walked in the door.  What used to be a routine combo had totally lost its appeal. 

Yep, back to water for me.

Now if I could just give up chocolate! 

: )

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Full Nest

This weekend I've been getting used to having a "full" nest again...just when I had gotten used to having an "empty nest"!  It's great to have the kids home though.   Ceara will be working in the Admissions dept over break so she'll be back and forth a bit this week and the week of Jan 4th but Arielle is here until the 11th.  Elliot's classes don't start up again until Jan 25th!  Crazy!  I haven't heard yet when he plans to head back to the city.

Today Arielle and I made cookies and had a frosting marathon.  Frosting cookies is definitely not my favorite thing to do....but we got through them.  I think I don't like it because I tend to be a perfectionist and I obviously don't have the talent or patience to make each one a work of I'd rather just not do them at all.  BUT my family loves frosted sugar that's how I spent my afternoon and evening! 

I also got a little closer to finishing my shopping today.  Hopefully a quick stop after work tomorrow will polish off the list.  Most of what I've already bought is wrapped but I still need to put the name tags on.  Right now they're piled high in my studio and they are SO in my way.  A job to complete before bed tonight. 

With less than a week to go before Christmas I SHOULD be concentrating on everything I need to get done before the BIG day....but my thoughts have been totally consumed this weekend with my scrapbook business and my Etsy shop.   Yeah, a change is definitely in order.  :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Scrapbook Sale - End of Year Clearance!


When it gets to this time of year I start thinking about purging...clearing out all of the OLD to make way for the NEW that comes with the new year.  I have some time off after Christmas and can't wait to clean out some closets, some cabinets, some files...and even clean out my Etsy store!  

I have NEW things in store (pardon the pun) for my little Etsy store.  It's time for a change and some re-vamping.  Recently I noticed a couple other sellers listing items SO similar to mine...and one even copied my descriptions word for word!  First I was furious, then I thought of reporting them to the Etsy administration....then I decided it was the prompt I needed to make some changes (oh btw, I MAY still report them....come on...don't just copy and paste my descriptions into your listings!  Be original!). 

Anyway, I know my paper bag scrapbooks are not a unique idea...but I'd like to think that I've put my own spin on them and have created somewhat of a distinctive style.  So while I'm flattered by the copy-cats out's time to mix it up a bit.  

In order to make way for the NEW...I've decided to have a clearance sale in my shop.  Now through the end of 2009 if you buy 2 items at their regular price, you will get the 3rd item at 50% off!  See my Etsy shop for more details!  Such a deal.  And...a great way to stock up on last-minute holiday gifts or to get a head start on gifts for the upcoming year.  There's always a birthday or some special event that deserves a scrapbook to commemorate it!

While my Etsy store may have unlimited space...the storage space for inventory in my studio does not! So you get some great deals and I have more space (both physical and mental) for all the NEW things to come in 2010! 

Hope you check back to see what's new.  :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Countdown to Christmas....

It's getting close.  Are you ready?  I'm not.  Not even close.  Actually, I'm closer than I was a couple of days ago.  Yesterday I finally bit the bullet and got a huge chunk of my shopping done.  And, today I put up the tree.  Well, sorta, kinda, maybe.  It is STANDING.  Standing there waiting for the lights to jump on!  As I was assembling the tree the thought of "pre-lit" kept crossing my mind.  I suppose we should join the modern world and get a pre-lit tree...but where's the fun in that when I can spend hours untangling light strands? 

So, here it is a week and some change from the BIG day...and all I can think is "WHATEVER".  So much for holiday spirit.  I don't know, but I'm wondering if it is just my age and stage in life.  I used to LOVE Christmas when my kids were little.  Sure, it was a crazy, crazy, crazy time but it was fun and exciting too.  Those were the days of preparing for Santa, decorating the tree and house, attending Christmas programs, concerts and dance shows, planning classroom parties, shopping for teacher gifts, making Christmas dresses, shopping for the "hot" toys at Toys R Us, taking the kids to pick out their new ornament, practicing for the Christmas program at church, making cookies, taking pictures for the Christmas card and on and on. 

Now the kids pick out their own gifts (obviously I can't be trusted to pick out clothes or video games!), wince when I suggest taking a family picture and barely notice the decorations.  Gone are the Christmas mornings of assembling toys, extricating Barbie from her box, and searching for the missing game piece in the rubble of gift wrap.  I suppose those days will return when grandkids start showing up...but for now Christmas seems to be missing the WONDER and EXCITMENT that it once had.

I'd think it was just me...but I've been hearing it from a lot of my friends lately too.  People commenting that they haven't gotten their tree up yet or haven't started shopping or just can't get into the Christmas spirit. 

Are our expectations out of whack?  Are we burned out and don't relish the idea of more to add to our TO DO list?  Do we really HAVE to have the perfectly decorated house, a diabetic-coma-inducing stash of fresh baked cookies and treats, and gifts wrapped Martha Stewart style?  Do we NEED to have so many presents under the tree that we can't even get to the tree?

When I was a child we received gifts on Christmas and our birthdays.  The rest of the year we received the necessities and maybe we could coax some treats or little toy out of Grandma when we tagged along to the store with her.  These days kids are used to GETTING STUFF all the time.  As soon as they WANT something they expect to get it.   That instant gratification makes it difficult to receive SPECIAL gifts when it comes time for Christmas or birthdays.  Every gift needs to be bigger and better (as in more expensive) than the last gift.  No wonder we're stressed out.

I ran across a blog post that resonated with me and kind of reflects the feelings I've had towards Christmas the past few years.  The blog is City Scraps and the post can be found here.  I can't really go that extreme because unlike the author, I have kids and the mom in me still wants to make it special for them...but it's tempting! 

What are your thoughts on the hustle and bustle, unrealistic expectations and over-spending of Christmas? back to those lights....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friendship Quotes

A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. ~Lois Wyse


A friend can tell you things you don't want to tell yourself. ~Frances Ward Weller

The best time to make friends is before you need them. ~Ethel Barrymore


A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart. ~Attributed to Heather Pryor


It takes a long time to grow an old friend. ~John Leonard


It is the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter. ~Marlene Dietrich


Monday, December 7, 2009

Pick a word for 2010...but not just any word!

It's that time of  year again.  No, I'm not talking about Christmas...although obviously it's THAT time of year too.  But what I'm talking about is--it's time to start thinking about your WORD for the new year.  2010.  It's right around the corner you know!

Well, if you don't know what I'm talking about, go check out this blog post.  One of my favorite blogs is Christine Kane's Blog.  And, probably my favorite thing about her blog is the WORD OF THE YEAR.  During the month of December her blog features guest posts from readers who have chosen a WORD to guide them throughout the previous year.  They write about what that WORD meant to them and what kind of changes came about in their lives because of it.  One WORD that sets the intention and focus for the entire year. 

For 2009 I chose the word ACTION.   I'll write more about it later this month, but for now I encourage you to start thinking about your WORD for 2010.  In preparation for choosing my new WORD, I've copied the list of suggestions from Christine's blog, added a few of my own and printed them on a sheet of paper to refer to over the next couple weeks.  When choosing your WORD, keep in mind that it's a word you're going to be living with for the next 12 months.  It should be a word that will inspire you, is meaningful for you and will focus your intention.  Give it some thought before diving right in and picking a WORD. 

Don't forget to check Christine's blog for the daily WORDs from readers!  You'll be SO inspired!

Let me know what you think...


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Etsy Holiday Sale Continues...a picket fence life

So, what do YOU want for Christmas?  This book is back by popular demand.  The colors are silver, red, gray, and white.

The holiday sale continues till midnight tomorrow night (Monday) in my Etsy shop.  All items in the shop are 10% off.   Plus, you received an additional discount for purchasing 6 or more scrapbooks.  What a great way to knock a bunch of names off your shopping list!

Happy Shopping!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Let the Snowball Fights Begin....

It's not snowing here YET...but I'm sure it won't be long now.  This little book has got it all....pom pom snowballs, a tiny fleece hat, mittens, a scarf, snowflakes.  So much fun!  I'm really liking the WHITE bag too.  Seems like a perfect fit for the snow theme.

Oh...and it's part of the Black Friday thru Cyber Monday Sale in my Etsy shop!  Isn't it wonderful to be able to shop from the comfort of home?  No crowds.  No lines.  Just great deals!

Post Thanksgiving Blah...

It's beautiful out today.  Kinda cold but the sun is shining for the first time all week.  Anyway, today is the perfect day it seems for hitting the malls and fighting the crowds.  I probably won't be one of those people though.  I do not love standing in lines.  My patience gets tested really fast.  Instead of spending the day at the mall I thought I would spend the day with my kids.  How quickly I've forgotten that 18-20 year olds sleep till noon!  Obviously 3 months of EMPTY NEST has completely fogged my mind as to what it's like living with "kids" again.  Of course, even when they do get UP...they're hanging out in their rooms on their laptops.  Makes me miss the days when they would all play together....right under my feet!  Oh well...I'm still thankful to have them all home and I'll savor every minute I can steal!  :)

Black Friday thru Cyber Monday Sale at Etsy

Stop by my Etsy shop to see the latest sale.  Black Friday thru Cyber Monday...10% off storewide!  Sale ends at midnight on Monday!

Don't forget...there's still plenty of time to place special orders for Christmas!  :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow!  Can you believe that it's Thanksgiving already?  This year is flying by.  FLYING!  I know it's probably a sign of getting older because I remember when I was a kid thinking that it took forever for Christmas to get here.  Now it seems like I just get the holiday decorations put away and it's time to drag them out again.'s not Christmas yet! Contrary to what the advertisers would like you to think!  First, it's time to reflect on the things we're thankful for....and this year, like every year, I've got quite the list.  Even with the economy in the tank and losses we've experienced this year, it's still been a pretty good year.

So...this is what I'm thankful for...and it's definitely an abbreviated, generalized a somewhat random order:
  • My family...husband, wonderful kids and all those other people that show up at family get-togethers!
  • Friends...the ones I see every day, the ones I don't see often enough, the ones I catch up with online...and those I only know thru the miracle of the internet!
  • Good health for those I love...and a year with no surgeries!  (yeah, I don't take that for granted anymore!)
  • Lucky...who is either the best dog in the world or a royal pain...depending on the moment
  • Jobs... my "day job" that I like most of the time and my "other job" where I'm the boss!
  • My imperfect and random as it may seem at times
  • A roof over our heads
  • Food in the fridge
  • My Etsy customers (and of course, those who find me by other means)
  • My blog readers!
  • An email from a friend
  • A hug when I need one....and a shoulder to cry on
  • Someone to encourage me when I struggle and celebrate with me when I succeed
  • A good book that I can't put down
  • An inspiring movie
  • Random lunches with my girls
  • A phone call or email from my son
  • Snow that falls only on the fields and stays off the was worth a try!
I hope you enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with those you love!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Catching up...soon

A lot has been going on around here lately.  So much in fact that I've been too busy to do some of my favorite write on my blog.  :(   Hopefully that will change here shortly....not the busy part....but the neglecting my blog part.

One of the things that kept me hopping all last week was getting ready for a local craft show.  The show was yesterday and it was the Annual East Coloma Hometown Holiday Craft Show.  I ran into so many people that I haven't seen in years.  What a fun day! 

I've also been busy lately working on some big projects.  Full-sized 12x12 scrapbooks.  Quite the change from working on paper bag books but sooooooooo much fun. 

I added a bunch of new stuff to my Etsy shop this morning.  Go check it out!

More updates to come later. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sea World Amazing Adventures

Do you have great Sea World memories?  We were there over Christmas a few years ago.  Actually we spent Christmas Day at Sea World.  Being from the Midwest, it's a little disorienting to be wearing shorts and seeing green on Dec. 25th!  I thought it was a great Christmas escape...and while the kids loved the vacation, they decided they like to be at home for Christmas.  Who knew?  :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Colorful Christmas by My Mind's Eye

Isn't this just the cutest little snowman guy?  He's part of the Colorful Christmas collection from My Mind's Eye.  In fact all the papers in this book are from the same collection.  The best part is that the papers are all double-sided!  That made putting this book together SO easy.  Here are some pictures so you get the idea....

Double-sided papers are great because you don't have to worry about trying to "match" colors or designs.  They automatically go together!  They make whatever project you're working on come together in a snap. 

What could be better than that?  Well....Memory Works has put this collection...into a collection!   The set includes 6 papers (12 designs) plus a 12x12 sheet of die-cut shapes! 

You can also get this little guy holding ribbon!

How adorable is that?  :)

Memory Works products are only available through MW consultants (that's me!) go browse the catalog and pop me an email (apicketfencelife at gmail dot com) to place your order.  Totally fun stuff.  If you're like me and don't have a scrapbook store nearby it's the perfect way to shop from all your favorite product lines like BasicGrey, Cosmo Cricket, My Mind's Eye, Creative Imaginations, Making Memories, Maya Road, Bo BunnyTim Holtz, 7 Gypsies, Color Box and lots more!    It's definitely time to stock up on supplies for all those holiday gifts you're planning on creating!

Friday, October 30, 2009

An Autumn/Fall Collection

There are such nice people out in blogland.  I've been featured on this wonderful blog, Reclaimed Threads, in an Autumn/Fall collection.  Go check it out!

Oh...and it's Friday!  Yeah!!!!    :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Scrapbook Sale Continues

The sale continues on Etsy today.



I love biographies and autobiographies.  They are my absolute favorite genre of audio books, especially when they're read by the author.  Since I listen to audio books everyday on my commute I go through a lot of books...usually a couple books per week.  Some I just grab off the library shelf because there aren't really any other options that particular day and some I've been anxiously awaiting their arrival in the new section.  This book....I've been waiting for.  Hoping that it would show up at one of my libraries (yeah, I go to several!). 

Her earlier book, Saving Graces, had brought so many tears to my eyes as I read it that I had to stop.  Reading of the loss of her son when I had just been through so much with my own, was too much for me at the time.  Some time later though, I thought I could get through it if I listened to the audio book instead.  What was I thinking?  I walked into work for days with red puffy eyes.  Yeah, not so smart listening to a tear jerker on the way to work!!!! 

I loved the book though.  How could you not love this woman?  How could you not want to wrap your arms around her and comfort her as she told the story of her son's death and her struggle with breast cancer?  For those of us who have been thisclose to that kind of loss, her story is an inspiration.  Not because she overcame every obstacle with ease and grace and emerged on the other side unscathed, but perhaps because her journey, like ours, came with bumps along the way.

Of the two books, I would definitely say that Saving Graces is my favorite, but only because so much of Resilience seems to be a recap.  If you pick up Resilience because you want the scoup on John's affair, don't bother.  It's Elizabeth's story, not John's.  In this day of sensationalism, I must say I was a bit relieved.  I find her story much more compelling anyway.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stock Up for Holiday Gift Giving Sale...Great deals on Scrapbooks!

Stop by my Etsy shop this weekend for an awesome scrapbook sale! 

Starting Friday, Oct. 23rd

10% off purchases of 1-3 items

20% off purchases of 4 or more items

Of course there's a little bit of fine does not apply to shipping charges or custom orders. ends at midnight on Sunday, Oct. 25th!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Twins...they're everywhere!

Ok.  Maybe it's the Law of Attraction.  I HAVE twins therefore I ATTRACT twins.  Who knows.  But lately everywhere I look, everyone I talk to or come into contact with either IS a twin or HAS twins!  Not that I mind.  I think it's cool.  I'm just puzzled.  I've had these twins for 18 years and now all of a sudden it seems like everything "twin" is finding it's way to me. 

Ceara & Arielle 1995

Now... if I could just get that Law of Attraction thing to work in other areas of my life!  :)


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