Monday, July 17, 2017

Scrapbook Layouts

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been working on a regular scrapbook layout that does not have anything to do with my Miami mini album. In fact, I have made two layouts recently that I wanted to share today.

I haven't subscribed to a scrapbook kit in a long time. Probably at least four years. But back in April, I started subbing to The Ali Edwards Story Kits. She is one of my long time favorite scrapbookers that I look to for inspiration, and I thought her kits would be a good way to get me back into making regular pages.
Using a few embellishments from the "Lens" kit, I made this layout based off an Instagram collage I had posted. I wanted to tell the story of how Mike and I had been playing around trying to snap photos of each other with our cameras. What came though was realizing that even though we can see life and each other different ways sometimes, ultimately we see the same thing. Love. Sappy I know, but true. I mean after almost twenty years of marriage, that we can still try to always see the best in each other even when times aren't so easy is pretty great.

I kept this layout pretty simple because I didn't think it needed a lot. The main focus is the photo and story.

Now the next layout went kind of the other direction as far as simplicity, but still the same theme. Love :)
As I said in my last blog post, back in January I posted this photo on Facebook with a little tribute to love. It had such a great response from so many people, and I just knew that I wanted to capture how I felt in a layout. So I copied my facebook post pretty much word for word and added it to my page. It's not as simple as my layout above, but using my favorite go to block design helped simplify things. Probably the part that took the longest was deciding which pieces to use on the bottom right.

One of the things I always found the least fun about sharing my scrapbook pages on my blog or anywhere online, was trying to get get good photos. But I took both of these pictures with my phone camera and only had to do a little editing. So much easier! Probably not as good quality as my DSLR, but whatever helps make the process quicker is ok by me.

If you share scrapbook layouts online, how do you photograph your pages? Phone, point and shoot or DSLR camera?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Around Here

Still blogging!
But I did take a week off for the holiday.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a little bit of what is going on around here.

My birthday at the end of June.

My mother in law gave me some beautiful flowers.
And every year for the past few years, I have hung birthday signs around the house for the kids to find. I found these hanging up all over the house the morning of my birthday. Erin made them for me. And no, I did not tell her that birthday isn't spelled that way!

Since my birthday was on a weekday, Mike had to be out of town. But he did call me bright and early that morning to wish me happy birthday. I spent the rest of the day doing fun things I love. Went out to breakfast with the kids, got a pedicure, went to the library and did a little clothes shopping. A few friends came over that night and brought wine and we had pizza and cupcakes to celebrate.

I know he would hate me to brag on him, but I can't help it! The day he came home, he had to drive several hours back into town after working. Before coming all the way here, I discovered that he had picked up a few gifts for me and some groceries to make me a birthday dinner so I wouldn't have to cook. I really appreciated that he still wanted to celebrate with me even though I know he had to be tired!

We didn't do a whole lot for Fourth of July this year. We were lucky to have Mike home a few extra days, but really we kept things kind of quiet. An afternoon at the pool, dinner and a movie out as a family another night, and seeing a few fireworks was enough over the holiday weekend was enough.
The movie we saw...

And I have to admit that I did not enjoy it as much as the first two. Erin of course loved it. And Mike and Evan thought it was ok. There were parts I liked, but it just wasn't my favorite.

I was also happy to have my brother and his wife in town for the holiday. We were able to see them for dinner the night we went out to the movie, on the fourth of July at my parents house and for brunch the next day. Ok maybe we did a little more than I realized last weekend! lol

Scrapbooking again!
I'm not just working on the Miami Summer album, but also finding time to work on a few layouts for fun. I posted that photo of Mike and I on Facebook back in January with a little tribute to love, and I decided I wanted to document it. This layout is going in an "Us" album. Maybe I will share the completed page next blog post.

On the left there, is a little Miami album Erin is creating on her own. I think it's going to be really cute. And I love being able to spend some time working together side by side on projects.

This is a super cool app I found quite by accident when I was reading an article about stress reduction.You can learn all sorts of languages and it is free! It may not be the super best way to learn a language, but it's fun. I can say quite a few phrases already, and it's sticking. My kids laugh at the way I'm walking around practicing. I think I will work on German or brush up on my French that I learned in high school next.

Iowa again to be with Mike. He had to work another weekend, and there is no way we were going to go almost two weeks without seeing him.

Evan has found a spot where he loves to fish, and it's a pretty popular spot. He was able to fish several times while we were up there.

We also went to the local water park one day and for the price it was pretty reasonable. It was $6 a person to get in but really only had a wave pool, three slides and a kiddie pool with a playground. I don't know about the kids, but I had fun!

And one day Erin and I went to lunch just the two of us. Evan was too tired from fishing all morning, and Mike was at work. Despite Mike having to work during the day, the good thing about going there is at least getting to spend time with him at night. Something we wouldn't be doing if we had just stayed home. And we had dinners with him, went out to get ice cream and even headed down to fish some more on the last night.

Listening To...
Podcasts! Like a lot. I think my whole ride to and from Iowa I spent listening to different podcasts. Here are some of my favorites...
Lots of good health tips and advice. Really educational when it comes to learning about how things affect your body. 
A fun scrapbook podcast 
Another scrapbook podcast, but this one is about pocket pages scrapbooking
It's a horror podcast, so not for the faint of heart and has some bad language at times. But nice and scary if you are in the mood
It's a public radio show and has had some really interesting topics and stories that draw me in.
An absolute favorite! It's not all just about being happy. Lots of good try this at home hacks and ways to simplify life as well.
I'm going to be honest. I'm not enjoying the second season as much as the first. And it can get a little gruesome at times. So I don't recommend this one if you are not a fan of horror. I'm not really a fan of the gore side at all, but I kind of got hooked on the story and seeing where it went the first season. I guess we will see if I stick with it.

I also have Welcome to Night Vale, Live Inspired, Alice Isn't Dead, Freakonomics Radio, Happier in Hollywood and Elise Gets Crafty in my podcast List. I just added the Feel Good Effect Podcast but haven't had a chance to listen yet.

And to wind down what has become a very long post:
We love summer here! Personally, I love being a mostly stay at home mom because it is just what works best for our family. But what I love most in the summer is how there is no school, longer daylight, sleeping in if we want, no rushing around most days, hanging out at the pool, and spending time with friends we don't see as much during the school year. Yes, there is some summer homework, but not a lot. And we do try to exercise in some way every day, whether it's walks, swimming, bike rides or yoga. 
But I love the less stressful vibe of summer and being able to enjoy this time with my kids. Well, most days. When they are not fighting. lol
And I especially love the flexibility of being able to pick up and go on little trips if we want. 

Summer is my favorite season for all those reasons I listed above and more.
Do you have any fun activities you love to do in the summer?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Could It Be?

A Scrapbooking Post?

This past January, I went on a scrapbook weekend at a hotel only about fifteen minutes from my house. A local scrapbook store used to host what they called The Girlfriend Getaway a few times a year and some friends and I started making it an annual tradition. When the scrapbook store closed, two of the owners thankfully continued to run the event.

Of course an ice storm was predicted for that Friday and throughout the weekend. But since it wasn't too bad that morning, Mike offered to drive me there in his truck. He knows how much this little getaway means to me. :)
And I'm so glad I was able to go because I was able to start working on a mini album telling the story about living in Miami last summer.

I am breaking it into two 6x8  Daily Flash albums by October Afternoon using a combination of pocket pages and regular scrapbook layout pages. So there will be one album for each month we were down there. The one I finally finished this weekend with the June photos has 40 pages in it which makes it pretty full. And I am thinking there will be just as many pages if not a few more for July!

This is a photo of the title page I took at the crop. A friend of mine wanted me to post a picture of it on Facebook and I had to tape it to the table to get a photo that didn't have a big glare from the lights.
This is another set of pages towards the beginning of the album. I'm trying to highlight the most important moments and memories we don't want to forget about our stay down there. For our first meal we had takeout pizza from a place not too far from the apartment that became a Friday night favorite. And that pool! It was one of my favorite spots in the whole apartment complex.
This is one of my favorite regular pages from the June album. On the night we arrived, Mike drove the kids over to the beach for a quick look so I could get some of our stuff unpacked and he snapped this great shot!

And here are a few more pages I created that weekend to give you a feel for the overall look.
Definitely had to include some of Evan's fishing stories.
 And here are just some more of the day to day things we did.

I also want to add that I finished a little over the first half of this June album back in January. And then this past Saturday, I went to a 12 hour scrapbook event with friends and was able to complete the rest.
I picked up where I had left off with Father's Day.
And there is that Serenity Pool again. Have I mentioned how much I loved it? ;)
I also wanted to mention how the kids and I made a list of places to visit to keep us busy while Mike worked. So that is the page on the right, which explains how we ended up at he Seaquarium.

As you can see, I'm not sharing all forty pages. Just a glimpse, but hopefully enough to get the idea of how I designed it.
Now that I have completed June, I'm anxious to get started on July because it has some of my favorite photos like our trip to the Everglades and Evan finally catching his bull shark.

I'll be sure to share a few pages when it's done!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekend Recap

My husband has to travel a great deal for work often having to set up a "home base" a few days out of the week wherever his current project exists.

Last summer we were lucky enough to join him in Miami while he was working down there.
This summer won't be quite the same since he is working in Iowa. Definitely a different vibe. But one of the fun parts of having him "live" in other cities, states and even countries (hello, Canada!) is getting to explore and learn about a new place.

This past weekend the kids and I made our first trip up to see him since he had to work on Saturday. And with it being Father's Day weekend, we didn't want him hanging out alone on his special day.

Our first morning there, we researched where the closest donut shop was and found one not too far away. Honestly though, I think it was the only one in town - lol.
Two thumbs up reviews from the kids. I am not a big donut eater, so I'll take their word for it.
After breakfast we headed out to explore. I usually like to Google "fun things to do with kids in...(whatever place we are)" Mike is always good about finding restaurants, but he doesn't usually have a lot of time to check out entertainment. His days are pretty long at work.

This trip we looked mainly for playgrounds, parks and good places Evan could fish. We found a pretty good park with a playground and then a campsite across the road with a lake. The kids both actually fished for a bit.

And then Erin and I killed some time being silly while we waited for Evan to finish up.
That night Mike grilled burgers and then we headed out to an ice cream place I had found on the internet that proclaimed it was the best ice cream around.
Erin thought it was ok, but Mike and Evan were kind of meh about it. I'm not a big ice cream eater so once again I took their word for it - lol.
On Saturday, the kids and I drove out to the job site to visit Mike and take him to lunch. We couldn't do much there because of safety regulations besides visit the trailer. But we always like to see where he is working and learn about the projects. And I think he just likes us coming by and being there.
That night we watched a movie and had pizza for dinner. I'm happy to say there is a pretty decent pizza place up there.
Sunday was Father's Day, and the kids decided to follow a theme by giving him presents of his favorite Star Wars character. Evan created this pencil drawing for him to display in his office.
And I helped Erin go and get this fun bear from Build a  Bear. It is one of her favorite stores and she loved putting this bear together for him including music and sound effects! She also made him a photo book mostly on her own. The only thing I did was help her with the ribbon binding. :)

So glad we could be with him on Father's Day!
And for our first trip up there it was pretty successful!

Monday, June 12, 2017

We Love the Music

Mike and I love to go to concerts together!
We go as much as we can and for me sometimes the smaller the venue, the better!
I like being up close to my bands.
Like when we saw Elle King at The Old Rock House here in town. That is definitely a small venue and we were right in front of the stage.
And this pic is from a road trip we took up to Milwaukee to see El Vy at the Turner Ballroom. We had to literally drive through a snowstorm to get home the next day, but it was worth it!
This pic of course is U2 here in St. Louis in 2011. Not a small venue, but up close to them is always good. :)

In fact, I have a running list I keep of all the bands Mike and I have seen together including the opening acts.
The very first concert we ever went to together was before we were even dating! We saw Weezer and the band Live at the American Theater, which is no longer around. So that show will always hold a special place in my heart because it was our first concert together.

A few other favorites are (not counting U2 of course):

Arctic Monkeys
Alabama Shakes
The National
Alt J
Jane's Addiction
No Doubt
Portugal The Man
The Black Keys

That's just a small number. We have seen 50+ bands together over the years!
(Elle King)

(Alabama Shakes)
(The Sheep Dogs)

(And U2 once again in Chicago this month)

We actually saw Portugal the Man and Electric Guest last night at another favorite venue - The Pageant but the lighting was so bad we couldn't get a good photo at all. 

And now we are looking forward to seeing U2 again in the fall here in St. Louis! Our General Admission tickets are bought and now we just have to wait.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Road to U2 Joshua Tree 2017

In the fall of 1987, I was a Junior in high school. A friend of mine had an extra ticket to see U2 on their Joshua Tree tour at the old Arena and I decided to go along. Another brief friendship with a boy at the end of my Sophmore year, had introduced me to U2's music so I figured it would be a good show.

Little did I know that it would be a concert that would literally change my life! If there is one thing I know about U2, they really know how to put on a live show. Bono is the ultimate performer when it comes to engaging the crowd. By the end of the show I was a fan for life. The whole crowd stood there singing the lyrics "How long to sing this song?" of their final song from "40" long after the band had left the stage, and they finally had to turn the lights up and blast music from the sound system to get us all to leave. I knew in that moment, singing along that I had found a band that I would always love.

And I have continued to love them throughout the years.
Achtung Baby came out when I was in college and it was different from Joshua Tree in so many ways but amazing. And then Zooropa was out not too long after which has one of my all time favorite songs "Stay". I am still kicking myself to this day that my boyfriend at the time and I did not see them on that tour, (one of their biggest ever) due to our "budget".

All of our friends pretty much loved U2 and one of those friends was Mike. I think he was a bigger fan than even I was if that's possible. And we really connected over their music. It was only one of the many things really that drew us together. But our love for U2 was a big one. We even danced to their version of "Unchained Melody" at our wedding for our first dance.

Two weeks after we were married, we saw U2 on tour for POP and we were right next to the smaller stage so were pretty close to the band for a good part of the show. It was the first time I had been that close and I loved it!

As the years passed, every time U2 went on tour, we had to go to at least two or three different places besides here in St. Louis to see them. Kansas City, Chicago, Vegas, and even Dublin Ireland which was on our bucket list. Mike has also seen them in Toronto, Seattle and Nashville.
 (Dublin Ireland)

Two of the concerts (the one in Vegas and one here is St. Louis) I was pregnant with Evan. We always like to joke that he is such a big U2 fan because he heard them in utero. :)
In Fall of 2009, we went back to Chicago to see them, but this time Evan went with us for his first real U2 concert ever.


The best concert so far though was here in St. Louis in 2011 on their 360 tour when we were right in the front of the stage.

This close to the Edge and the rest of the band when they came to his side. Right there in front of us! Evan was at this show too. And I know I've shared this photo Mike took before, but I love it because the Edge was looking right at Evan and smiling at his enthusiasm. It was awesome!

With their latest tour "Songs of Innocence" they didn't come to St. Louis, so once again we drove up to Chicago. We were only able to get two GA tickets so I let Evan take it to be down on the floor with Mike and I sat way up at the top. It was worth it though and still a good show. I love that Mike and Evan had that experience together!

And now thirty years later - they are back on tour for Joshua Tree. Mike missed it the first time around. And I missed out on Zoo Station. So we say we are even, although he likes to tease me that his show was bigger which I can't disagree.

But this time, the four of us went. The whole family. Erin didn't want to miss out and so she went to her first U2 show ever. It was Evan's fourth. Mike and I have actually lost count. I am sure we could figure it out, but let's just say 15+ since 1987 for me.
Just too hard to get a good photo of the four of us, and like I said not wanting to share too many recent private photos. But this one gives you an idea.

I love when the crowd looks like stars in the sky.

The show opened with four oldies - Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Year's Day, Bad and Pride
And the Joshua Tree portion of the show did not disappoint for me. From the moment Streets started to the end with Mothers of the Disappeared. Edge rocked on Exit and In God's Country has special meaning for Mike and I from a time we listened to Joshua Tree on an old cassette as we drove through Montana and Idaho on a trip to see friends right before we were married.
But surprisingly, I absolutely loved when they played Beautiful Day and Elevation. This photo was taken during Beautiful Day and the lighting was fantastic. Just beautiful! Mike got a fun video of me, himself and Evan singing the lyrics together, but I won't share that here. ;)
Elevation? Once again the Edge rocked and I found myself singing and jumping along. It was probably my next favorite part of the show this time.

Being so far from the stage was hard at first. We are usually down in that crowd as close as we can possibly get. This time around with Erin though it wouldn't have worked. And frankly, looking at the photo it makes me kind of glad we weren't down there. That is a lot of people!

U2 has meant a lot to me through the years. They have been a connection between Mike and I. They have been a connection we have with our son. And so many times their lyrics and music have spoken to me. I have many friends who feel the same way, and I have connected with U2 fans all over the country and world. And then there are the people who just can't stand them and love to tell me how much Bono sucks. But really, love or hate them, they are a popular band. And I love them!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Evolution of a Blog

I started my original blog titled "A Beautiful World" in September of 2005. And for several years it was an online journal of sorts for me. I still love to go back and read all of my old posts because some of the stories I have actually forgotten over time and they are now on there as a reminder. One of my favorite memories is the trip to Ireland Mike and I made in July of 2009. I actually told the story in several blog posts because I had so many photos I wanted to share. And reading through my thoughts at the time of the trip makes me realize how important it is to get my stories and memories written down in some form. I guarantee you that I would not have remembered half the stuff I had written if I had not kept a journal on the trip and then transferred it to my blog.

In December of 2009 though, I decided to make that blog private. I was wanting my personal life and family to not be so public. I was more into the scrapbook design team scene and had more of an audience. So I started this blog, "The Scrapbook Treehouse" to showcase my scrapbook pages and assignments, because most design teams required members to have a blog.

For a little over five years, I wrote several posts a week taking blog breaks here and there. But in February of 2015, I decided to take a pretty permanent break. I was burned out on all of it - design teams, blogging, being on line. It didn't bring me the same joy and happiness that it used to. And if truth be told, I was focusing more on my health. Suffering from depression and anxiety pretty badly in 2013 had really brought me down to an all time low and 2014 became a year of healing, fixing broken parts of my life and recovering. By 2015 I was in a much better place, but I had changed. My priorities had changed and my focus was my family and my health. I wasn't scrapbooking as much and so I didn't really have any projects to share. At that point, blogging just seemed like a chore and I didn't need more of those.

I have written a few blog posts here and there to check in, but never could get the enthusiasm to start blogging regularly again.
But as my son finished out his freshman year in high school last week, (yes, high school!) I realized how much I've missed keeping a journal of our lives. I've tried keeping a handwritten one and it never sticks. What I love about blogs is the ability to add photos and typing is so much easier and faster for me than writing.

So as a result of that and being inspired by Stephanie Howell, the writer of one of my favorite blogs, I am thinking about taking up blogging again. Even if it's just once a week to start.
I have started scrapbooking again so I may even have projects to share. I will still probably put more personal posts on my private blog, but hopefully I will have more to share here as well.

I guess we shall see if it sticks this time :)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Miami Summer of 2016

I never did come back and share photos from our time living in Miami last summer.
So here we go with a few of my favorite memories in no particular order...
Evan finally getting to catch a little bull shark!
The view of downtown Miami from our apartment complex.
Peaceful  mornings on the bay wall next to the path around the complex.
My family at the Everglades <3 p="">
 And just the two of us in the Everglades
Snorkeling and hanging at the beach every week.
Feeling more relaxed and happy than I was back in STL. This was taken on a small island in the middle of the bay that we kayaked to from our apartment.
From that same island kayaking expedition :)
My family on our Key Largo trip
 Beaches almost all to ourselves on weekday mornings
The Serenity Pool at our apartment

My family surprising me with a birthday party <3 p="">
The view from our balcony
These are just a few great memories.
I will admit it.
We were spoiled last summer.
It was relaxing, amazing and fun.
And I don't take it for granted.
In fact, I am a little homesick for it at times.
No stress. No worries. And lots of family time. :)
It was a summer we will never forget!