Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Free Shipping, $15 Gift Certificate, Monthly Kits, and New Products...Oh, My!!!

Don't forget tomorrow (the first of every month) is free shipping with a $35 order at AC Bailey....you need to put FREE in the coupon box to get the free shipping. As an added bonus this month, I'm going to draw for a $15 Gift Certificate or a free crop (your choice) from all orders placed on July 1. You must put my name in the consultant box or I won't know you ordered. And don't forget to mark the Frequent Buyer Club box...you can earn free products just for ordering and it's FREE to participate.

Did you know there's a monthly kit club? If you sign up for a 6-month or 12-month subscription you get a discount and FREE SHIPPING to anywhere in the US...yes, that includes those of us in Alaska, believe it or not. Click HERE and select Goodies Kit of the Month on the left margin. These papers from My Mind's Eye are perfect for all our summer projects!!! It will be available for purchase (while supplies last) tomorrow (those of you who have a subscription should have gotten it or should be getting it VERY soon)...Click HERE to check out the new products (what's new link in the left margin). I'm in love with all the new My Mind's Eye kits and Making Memories sticker letters. And did you notice there are cardstock packs to coordinate with several of the pattern paper packs?!? WOW, no guessing!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Olympic Training

Wow...it's been a week, sorry. I finally did some scrapping. Work has been a night mare and the first big push is over. I had Friday off (wow, it's Saturday morning...ugh!) and cleaned the house. I really wanted to scrap, but I felt guilty about playing before I finished the house work. So now it's after midnight and I'm posting the layout...better late than never, right? Hey, and that's just one more reason I call myself the "Moonlight Scrapper." Ha...it's after midnight and there's no moon in Alaska. As I look out the window, it's still kinda dusky (if that's a word).

So let's get to the fun stuff. When we were in Fairbanks a few weeks ago, we drove by this Elementary School and it had the most awesome looking playground. Each time we drove by it, Erica begged to stop. We kept putting her off and putting her off. Finally, on the last day, we had a little time so we stopped. Erica played all over the playground while I took some "me time" and read a scrapbook magazine. Then she called me over and asked me to take some pictures. She wanted to show me how good she was on the monkey bars. So I took my camera out and I put it on continuous mode to take the pictures. I think I got about 30 pictures. After the first time going across she told me she was training for the Olympics and had to keep practicing. As she finished the next round, she jumped off and told me she stuck the landing. Then she decided she'd had enough...her hands were red and had broken skin. I guess that's her first lesson of "No Pain...No Gain."For this layout I used the AC Bailey June Kit of the Month. The papers are from Cherry Arte. The title is a set of Thickers from American Crafts. The journaling spots are from Jillibean Soup. I also added a Basic Grey bling circle to highlight the broken skin on Erica's hand. Cardstock is Bazzill, and misc buttons from Stampin Up, Doodlebug, and I forget the last one...sorry. Thanks for stopping by and I'll try to get more layouts posted this weekend.

Friday, June 19, 2009

UAF Large Animal Research Station (LARS)

OK...so I told the story about the Santa Claus House and mentioned that Erica learned that Santa's reindeer are all girls. Here's more "Discovery Channel" learning for you...it really was VERY interesting and I'm glad we went!

The University of Alaska, Fairbanks studies large arctic animals as part of the biological program (if I remember correctly). That includes Muskoxen and Caribou. It USED to include Moose, but they didn't like being penned up and the university didn't like having to replace the fences. They also house Reindeer on their pastures, but the reindeer are part of the agriculture program, not the biological program.

Muskoxen were literally extinct in Alaska in the early 1900s due to evil hunters...their protective mechanism is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the weak and young behind them. That works WONDERS against a standard predator (bear or wolf), but it's no match against a gun. They (can't remember who "they" is) got 40-odd animals from somewhere else (somewhere cold...duh...Canada sticks in my head, but I can't remember for sure), and have successfully re-introduced them back in the state!!! Alaska has even started issuing hunting tags because the program has been so successful.

Cool facts about the muskoxen:
  • Their wool (called qiviut) is hypoallergenic...and VERY pricey!
  • Their nostrils are like turbines...the bone swirls inside the nose and their nostrils are lined with blood vessels. Air warms by 30 degrees as they inhale before it reaches their lungs (very important when you live in 50 below temps with wind that can make it feel like 80 below)
  • The bulls will size each other up. While #1 and #2 fight and get tired, #3 will go for the women...HA...it's not always best to be the best muskox...hee, hee.
  • The bosses (the thick part of the horns on the skull) can get to be 9" thick
    They don't migrate (interesting...I thought they did)- In the wild the females have babies every two years due to nutritional conditions...in captivity they can have babies every year.
  • LARS is a non-profit research station...they sell the raw quviut to be spun into wool and also sell products made from the processed qiviut. Qiviut proceeds support the LARS...making the caribou "free-loaders" at LARS.

I don't have cool historical stories about caribou other than the "Santa's reindeer are females" fact (read all the way to the bottom on that post). About the only other things I can add are:

  • There are about 1-1/2 million in the state and they estimate there will soon be 2 million.
  • They migrate and the migration patterns can be seen from outer space.
  • Most of the wild caribou babies don't survive winter (but I'm not sure how they estimate they'll reach 2 million soon given this...I forgot to ask).
  • Their hair is hollow (like Polar Bears), when you see them crossing a river, note their backs are out of water...they are not walking in a shallow river. Their hollow hairs give them additional buoyancy to get across the river. Now look at deer crossing a river...only their heads are out of the water. Cool, huh...

One other thing I did learn, though, that Alaska (maybe just UAF...although if I forget to use spray, I would definitely agree!) considers the mosquito to be a predator in the state. The infamous "they" estimate that if you go into the tundra without appropriate clothing or pesticides, that you will die in 48 hours due to blood loss from mosquitoes. WOW!!!

Oh, and the difference between Caribou and Reindeer. Reindeer have been bred specifically to be short and stout (again, scroll toward bottom of post to see "Blitzen") to act as a beast of burden and for food. Reindeer are not native to Alaska, however, we do have them. Caribou are native in Alaska. Their legs are longer to maneuver through the deep snow and act as GREAT propellers to help them cross rivers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The first in Alaska!!!

Erica has the FIRST Diamond Nuclear Ice Pink Digital Camo BOW in Alaska! Ha...if any of you know what the heck I just typed, I'm sorry!!! Seriously, though...it's the cutest thing! Check out the description at the Bowtech link if you're interested. Jeff had the Archery Shop guy (Mr Paul) order it a while ago and it came in this week. He's closed on Mon and Tues, so we went yesterday. I called to confirm it was in (very cryptic conversation about a small pink thing) and we went right after work....with Camera!

So we got there and it was the typical visit: Jeff gets set up, Mr Paul is helping another guy in the shop, so Erica waits to get set up (he has always let her use a left hand youth bow, but she has to wait for him to get it for her). While he's helping the other guy, he's tweaking the bow (some technical bow stuff, but I have no clue what). He calls her over at one point to have her test the pull and she's in total awe of the bow. He continues to tweak it while she waits patiently. We go and watch Jeff shoot and she tells him she wants the bow and asks if she can go home to get her piggy bank and buy it. Jeff suggests that she test it out and see how she likes it first. She was surprisingly OK with that.

Jeff takes a break and walks down the range to get his arrows. Erica joins him. I'm just hanging out...and all of a sudden, I see them talking in the middle of the range. Jeff is hunched over and Erica is just standing there listening. I grab the camera cuz I know he's telling her...and then she kinda jumps and does this little half squat with her arms flopping and must've said, "what?!?" Then she leans over and kisses him...yup, he told her! So she comes back to me and "informs" me of her early present.

Mr Paul got her bow all tweaked and she started shooting...whap...the arrows fling thru the air just like when Jeff shoots! WOW!!! On her first shot, the strings snapped her forearm...ouch. Jeff reminds her to bend her arm a little, but I think I see a forearm guard in her future. The picture in the link doesn't show it, but there's a circle thing with three different color pins that help you aim at things at different distances (don't you love my technical terms?). Jeff taught her how to line up the target with the sights. Then he taught her to make sure the bow string touches the tip of her nose (I guess that's how you make sure she's aiming straight?). And we always have to remind her to keep her feet standing right...whew, so many things to think about. But when she does, she gets really good groupings.

So that was our Wed night...and now I have even MORE pictures to scrap. I'm gonna need a weekend retreat!!! Anyone got any ideas???

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

North Pole, AK...and a magical experience

I cannot wait to scrap this story...but it'll have to have a bit of hidden journaling until *someone* is old enough and the jig is up. I'm sure it won't be long cuz she's too smart for her own good. I have no clue how old I was when I figured it out...but hopefully this story will keep it going for a little longer.

One of the things you MUST experience if you make it to Fairbanks is North Pole, AK. What is in North Pole? Santa, of course!!! There's even a Santa Claus Ln where all the street lights are on candy cane poles...even the McDonald's sign is on a candy cane pole. In my head the picture turned out MUCH better, but I couldn't get a good vantage point, so this is the best of what I could get. Anyway, the Santa Claus House is also in the North Pole...duh! OK, it's a gift shop, BUT, Santa is there Tues - Sat...hee, hee. So here's how the story unfolds:

We go fishing on Sat morning before Jeff has to be at the shoot. On the way we pass the North Pole. Erica sees Santa Claus Ln with all the candy cane street lights and is in awe. She also sees the Santa Claus House and seems excited to return. We go to the club after being skunked at Jeff's old fishing holes (from 20 years prior) and hang out until lunch time. We go to lunch and then we make our way out to the North Pole. As we're heading out of town, Erica says, "I don't wanna go to the North Pole." I ask her why and she says, "...cuz they're pretending, mamma." Ugh!!! See, too smart for her own good (or is it my own good). I ask her why she thinks they're pretending. She says, "The North Pole is cold and there's no snow here...they're pretending." Can't fault that thought process, can ya?! So I TRY to explain that summers in Alaska and how the sun is way up in our sky so we get sooooo much sun that it melts all the snow this far north every year...she's quite for a while, and then says, "That's fine...we can go see the North Pole." Whew...SAVE!!!

We get to the North Pole and park at the Santa Claus House. In true scrappin' fashion, I take lots of pix outside and as we head inside. Then we walk thru the "house" looking at all the shirts, ornaments, and misc Christmas decorations. Erica sat on a bench in front of a painted Santa and all of a sudden, we hear, "HO...HO...HO." Erica JUMPS to her feet and walks into a small room off to the side where there's a BIG chair and the most magical man in the world (outside of Daddy...of course). She immediately gets shy (well, shy for Erica), stands in front of him and talks about what else...Shooting! She's wearing an adorable pink shooting vest Grandma made her. Santa asks if she shoots and if she's there for the big weekend shoot. She says yes and brags about having her own .22 and that Daddy is at the shoot. Then they talk about where she's from and I'm just about to cry cuz I'm sooooo happy that he's there to prove it's not pretend! Yeah...the magic continues!!!

We buy a few things and head outside to walk around "Santa's yard." Gee, what would you think hangs out around Santa's house? Elves? Well, we only saw them as topiary statues. But we also saw...REINDEER!!! Erica says she even saw Rudolph. And guess what the scrapper in me picked up??? REAL, LIVE, HAIR FROM SANTA'S REINDEER!!! I think it belongs to Blitzen...at least that's what I think...and here's a picture of the one I think is Blitzen.

Now here's one of the funnier parts of the story. Blitzen would be a VERY GOOD HUNTING TROPHY. While we were there, there were two gentlemen taking video and commenting about how nice his "double shovel" was. Erica chimes out...Santa's reindeer are all girls! Ha...we were at the Large Animal Research Station where they study Muskoxen, Caribou, and keep Reindeer on site (rotating them thru the pastures). Part of the tour we took they explained how the males shed their antlers late fall, and the females keep them well into winter. The scientific reason is the males need them for fighting other males for the right to mate, and the females need them to fight off the males for food thru winter. So, since all of Santa's reindeer are portrayed with antlers, that means they are all girls!

More stories to come...and hopefully some layouts soon...I sure have enough content to keep me busy, that's for sure!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

B-I-Z-Z-Z-A-Y Weekend!!!

We took a family vacation to Fairbanks, AK this past weekend...one weekend before the Summer Solstice (the longest day of summer where they have nearly 24 hours of daylight). Jeff went for a Trap Shoot and Erica and I hung out at the gun club, the Alaskan Pipeline, the North Pole (yes!!! and there's a great story with it!!!), the Pioneer Park (formerly known as Alaskaland...not to be confused an Alaskan version of Disneyland), and the University of Alaska - Fairbanks at the Large Animal Research Station (LARS) and the Museum of the North. We even took a few minutes to check out a playground at one of the Fairbanks schools for a little "Olympic Training" as Erica called it...and mamma even got a few minutes to relax and read a book during "training."

I have to hang my head in shame at being a terrible Trap Wife. We were in Fairbanks FOR THE TRAP SHOOT and I got a grand total of FIVE pictures at the club. The problem is all five pictures are of Erica with this cute dog she's willing to trade me for, named Moose (or Moose Poop if he's mis-behaving). Janice and Cindy are training me to be a good Trap Wife (I did watch Jeff shoot a little), but I got NO pictures of him at the club or of the club itself. OK...I'll be a better Trap Wife at the ATA State Trap Shoot in July!!! I promise!!!

So I'll keep you sitting on the edge of your seat (yeah, right!) waiting to hear all the stories. I will tell you that the best one was when we went to the North Pole...I'm sure you can imagine what's so special about the North Pole and get close!!! I will leave you with two points: first, I downloaded 300+ pictures so I have LOTS to scrap. And second, we played sooooooo hard that this is a picture of Erica on the ride back (ha!). I tell ya, it's hard work having fun in an Alaskan Summer!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Live, Laugh, Love!!!

OK...here's another not so scrappy post, but it sure sums up life...and there's lots that can be scrapped about this.

I received an email from a good friend of mine who I haven't seen in over 5 or 6 years (ugh!). Anyway, it reminded me of something Jeff says from time to time: "I work to live, not live to work." And it's sooooo timely...last night I had a CHOICE to work and make some money or go to Erica's soccer game. Can you believe I struggled because I'm sooooooo far behind at work? In the end, I chose to go to her game, had a GREAT time, took some wonderful pix, and didn't' even think about work. She really does only have one childhood, and I want to BE part of it instead of just watch it pass by...I feel awful that I even thought I had a choice...ENJOY LIFE!!!

So this is the email I got...and I checked it from snopes and it's correctly attributed:

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch..
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special..
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain. 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up..
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Its estimated 93% won't forward this. If you are one of the 7% who will, forward this with the title '7%'...I'm in the 7%.

Remember that I will always share my spoon with you!
Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves.

Friday, June 5, 2009

How do you scrap?

And I don't mean this as what type of scrap "style" do you have? I mean:
  1. Do you scrap alone or with others
  2. Are you a "get 'er done" scrapper or do you just go with the flow
  3. What about snacks or drinks? I guess that might go along with how you answer 1 and 2...

For those of you who know me (or follow the blog much), you know I am a social scrapper!!! Some times I just want to "get 'er done" and other times I just go with the flow...mostly I'm a flow-er (vs a flower) I think. It takes quite a bit of time for me to do a single layout (and Jeff picks on me about that). As for snacks and drinks, YES! Especially the drinks...another thing Jeff picks on me about: "I'm sure glad I don't have to drink to have fun" is what he usually says.

So what's the point of all this? Just for a little fun. I was at a work mixer earlier this week and had a request for my mojito recipe...which I call "Michelle's soon to be famous Mojito"...and I thought I'd also post it on my blog. I usually have friends come over once a month to scrap and "bribe" them with my mojitos (again, Jeff laughs at me...saying it's similar to having to tie a steak around my neck for a dog to play with me...am I painting a fun picture of him??? He really is a great guy, don't get the wrong idea!!!). I have to be honest and say it's not MY recipe...it's from The Mojito Company and it's the Miami Mojito on their how to make a mojito link. By the way, if you are a mojito fan, GET THIS MUDDLER!!! You will be happy you did!!! So here's the recipe from the website above (I've added a few of my own comments on how I like the recipe).

The Miami Mojito (Mojito with Simple Syrup)
Simple syrup is essentially “sugar water” made by dissolving sugar in boiling water. Simple syrup makes the mojito with the smoothest texture, as the sugar particles have already been dissolved before assembling the mojito. Simple syrup is very sweet – so for those seeking very sweet drinks, this is a good choice for making the mojito.

½ lime, quartered
5-6 fresh mint leaves
Crushed Ice (I actually use regular sized cubes and like it better)
2 ounces White/light rum (Use Bicardi Limon...IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!!!)
1 ounce simple syrup*
2 drops bitters
3 ounces Club Soda

* Simple Sugar Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Bring water and sugar to a low boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until sugar dissolves. Water will appear slightly cloudy, but will become clear as it cools. Cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator in a squeeze bottle or airtight container. If properly sealed, the syrup will keep up to 2 weeks. One batch will make about 12 mojitos.

Muddle lime and mint in the bottom of a tall glass (I put the mint in first and then the lime...as you muddle, the lime with juice nicely and the rind will "bruise" the mint, bringing out the essence of the mint!) . Add light rum, simple syrup, and bitters. Fill the glass to the top with ice. Top with club soda. Cover the glass with a shaker tin or transfer the mixture to a shaker and shake for 5-6 seconds. (If desired) Garnish with lime wedge, mint sprig, and sugar cane swizzle stick.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yeah...I scrapped again

Well, I actually scrapped by myself, which is amazing, because scrapping is a social event for me!!! I've been feeling a little puny lately, and rather than lay on the couch and sleep or watch TV, I decided to make a layout. I lifted this layout from Scrapbooks Etc. I've always admitted about being a scrap lifter, but I'm starting to amaze myself at how much my layouts are looking VERY MUCH LIKE THE ORIGINAL. I'm none too happy about that! I usually draw inspiration from others, but I can usually mix things up enough that you can't tell that it came from any ONE layout. Lately that's not been the case...I guess this was the puniness in me. So how does that saying go: Copying is the most sincere form of flattery?

Anyway, this is Erica's Spring picture from Kindergarten. They had four or five different poses we could choose from. Jeff let Erica choose, and this is what she picked. She looks older than a Kindergartner in this picture to me...but it's not bad. It also kinda looks like she's just going thru the motions of having her picture taken, and is not totally thrilled about it. The funny thing is she LOVED school! She made lots of new friends, really took to her teachers and WANTED to do well for them, and has a LOVE of reading and writing (as you've probably noticed from previous posts). We are sooooo very proud of her!!!
The papers are all from K & Co, with American Crafts Poolside Thickers (LOVE THEM) and some misc ribbon from I forget where (it's all in a big jar, sorry). I ran out of pop up dots, so there's not as much dimension on the flowers as I'd like (I'll re-do it when I get more pop dots!). And I need to get back into scanning the layouts so they aren't warped...sorry for that, too...

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Star is Born

It has been WAAAAAY too long since my last post, I'm soooooo sorry! I guess I have to blame it on the summer since it's finally here (lame excuse, I know). But I am VERY excited about summer being here: school ended on May 21 in Anchorage, summer sports have started, and the weather has been B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!! I just hope it stays this way...although, I guess we can't complain. So far this year's Spring has been better than last year's Summer (ugh!).

So speaking of Summer sports, Erica started soccer two weeks ago. She's never played before, other than kicking a ball in our back yard. She's in an under 6 league. The teams are made up of 6 players. Her team has (1) 4-yr old and (5) 5-yr olds. They practice for half an hour and then play a game against another team for half an hour. When they play, it's 3-on-3 with no goalies...and they play on teenie, tiny fields...they're soooo cute! So Erica learned how to control the ball (sort of) and then they did drills to try and get the ball from the coach, and then keep the ball away from the coach. When the practice was over, the teams started a game. At first, Erica just stood there until Jeff yelled, "go after the ball, Erica!" And did she ever!!! When she got the ball, she kept it and made a goal...woo hoo!!! The best part was both teams kept kicking the ball in the same direction WAAAAAY past the goal (there are no nets, just markings in the grass). All the parents had to chase after them and one finally grabbed the ball to stop them. It was hilarious! Then they repeated that drill...with the same result: Erica scored a goal. They took a break here and there and again, repeated the drill...with the same result. Erica's team ended up scoring FOUR goals...ALL of which were from Erica. I kept trying to tell her to kick the ball to one of her team mates, but she never did. That's either the "only child" in her, being selfish or it's just that she's a 5-year old and that's what they do...I don't have any experience with this to know for sure. At any rate, she LOOOOVES soccer and can't wait for next week....and Jeff is already talking about scholarship opportunities (he's such a dad!).

I didn't download the pix from the first practice, but I did from today's practice/game...and we have uniforms. The kids are having a blast, and so is the coach ;-) Are you seeing a theme with the player in the middle of it all...all the time?!?

And of course they end with goods sportsmanship by shaking everyone's hands!!!