You Are Here – Cricut Cartridge

One of the things that attracted me to Close To My Heart was the exclusive Cricut Cartridges. This year’s offerings do not disappoint! The new Annual Inspirations includes a travel/get-away themed cartridge called You Are Here and three digital only collections featuring the United States, Canada, and Australia/New Zealand.

I was so excited that I was able to get the You Are Here cartridge for 50% off shortly after it was available for consultants to preveiw! (Truth be told – I get all my Cricut cartridges at 50% off through Hostess Rewards!! – check out this link to find out how).

You Are Here Cricut

I usually get the physical cartridge because I like to have the book of images.  If you prefer the digital version – you can download the book. Both options come with this set of stamps and the Enchantment Combo cardstock pack.

Here are a few things that I’ve made this month with this fun cartridge –

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I love using the images for titles or accent pieces. The ‘Wild at Heart’ image uses the 2-toned colors from the Ruby cardstock. ‘Gone Exploring’ stamped image is from the exclusive stamp set with the banner cut from the cartridge.

IMG_3726Here’s a closer shot of the Wild at Heart – it definitely describes my boys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next is a card I made for a friend going on an Alaskan cruise.

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I couldn’t decide between ‘Seas the Day’ or ‘Bon Voyage’ – but this worked out with the ship & mountains.

I love that this cartridge has some National Parks badges – include a couple of my faves – Teton & Yellowstone! I’ve got lots of pictures to scrapbook in these two beloved locations!

Don’t worry if you’re less of an outdoors person and more of a luxury traveler – there are images for you as well!

This cartridge is so much fun! I can’t wait to play with it some more! I’d love to see what you create with it!

 

Enjoy!

~Gerri

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FSE Food

A few days ago I wrote a post about Fast, Simple & Easy (FSE) cards. Now I’d like to talk about FSE food – but not the take out or drive through kind! I’ve used a slow cooker for several years – while it was easy, it wasn’t necessarily fast. However, if I remembered to start it in the morning, I could come home from work and dinner would be finished.

A couple of years ago, I found out about freezer meals or once-a-month cooking – make a bunch of meals on one day, put them in the freezer & then finish them off when you want to eat. The great thing about freezer meals is your prep work is all done at the same time for several meals so the time savings is awesome!

Next I learned about pressure cookers & eventually purchased an electric pressure cooker – now dinner time is REALLY FSE!!  Here are some ideas for freezer meals you can prep ahead of time and then pop into a pressure cooker for a great meal –

  • Sloppy Joes – cook your meat on prep day, add your sauce/ingredient choice (check out this post) then freeze. When you’re ready to prepare, drop it in the pressure cooker, add some liquid and cook for 10 minutes, QPR, stir & enjoy.
  • Taco meat – same concept as the Sloppy Joe.
  • Soup – soups are another great option – if you’re making a chicken soup (like Chicken Enchilada or the recipe I share below) you don’t even need to cook the chicken before hand.

I love that I can be playing in my craft room all day 🙂 AND get a healthy meal on the table for my family quickly! Here’s a recipe I tried recently for a White Chicken Chili – it’s adapted from a Lambertslately.com recipe –

  • 5 chicken breast halves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tsp chicken bullion/broth base
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained
  • 1 can corn with juice
  • 8 oz diced green chiles
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper

Add these ingredients to your freezer container and freeze. When you’re ready to prepare, add meal and 1 1/2 cups water to your pressure cooker. Cook on high for 25 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally. When pressure is released, shred chicken, add 4 oz cream cheese and 4-8 oz of colby jack cheese. Stir – allow the cheeses to melt and serve.

Of course, if you don’t want to freeze this first – just cook away. I’m guessing this will work in a slow cooker as well for 8 hours on low.

My youngest picky eater absolutely loved this recipe – ate it for breakfast and then asked if he could make it on the weekend.

Enjoy!

~Gerri

Giving My Kids More

Like many parents, I’ve wanted to give my kids ‘more than I had’ – to the point where I sometimes worry that I’m giving them too much or things are too easy for them. I also struggled with this when I quit my job in January. Our family’s discretionary income certainly dropped without my civil service job.  But – I felt having more time with them, and not feeling the stress of getting everything done when I was home was more important than ‘the stuff’.

On a recent backpacking trip, I came to realize how much more I was actually giving my kids.  I definitely felt better about these experiences than any of the material things I could ever give them.

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  1. Lake Swimming – We live solidly ‘in town’ – there are no lakes, ponds or creeks for them to play in, so this is not a regular occurrence. I grew up with a creek (we pronounce it ‘crick’). We would damn it up, look for crayfish or just tromp through it. So when we went to the Uinta Mountains,the boys got to play in a cold clear mountain lake  – with a log. No goggles, no diving toys, no diving boards – just nature.IMG_3508
  2. Starry, Starry Nights! I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. It was normal to see the stars. We don’t always get to see the stars where we live because of all the light pollution plus the fact that it stays light for so long in the summer! When we head to the mountains – there are lots of stars to see – if we can stay awake long enough (that’s the great thing about backpacking – it definitely wears these to boys out!) – yea, I know – this picture doesn’t actually have stars – but the moon was pretty!IMG_3515
  3. GOATS! Growing up I saw lots of white tail deer, red tail hawks and even an occasional bear. But the first time I saw a mountain goat, I was in my 30’s or maybe even 40’s. But, my boys had the privilege of seeing this beautiful mom & her baby. They came right by our camp (we were really surprised that they came so close!). Then they even heard the mama & baby calling for each other – it was an odd squeaking, almost crying noise.

So – I still want to give my kids more than I had. But, at least now I don’t feel guilty about giving them too many material things. I love being able to show them the beauty that God has surrounded us with in nature!

Enjoy!

~Gerri

What to Scrapbook?!

Are you new to scrapbooking or a seasoned pro? Do you have a plan of which pictures to use or is this something you struggle with? Personally, I’m somewhat in the middle between having a plan and struggling with what to work on.

General Plan – My plan in general is to work chronologically (I’m currently in 2004) through my pictures.  I don’t feel pressured to ‘catch up’ mainly because I am enjoying the memories from these sweet years (my boys are 15  & 11 now – not so sweet/cute anymore!) My layouts are generally geared toward albums for my boys.  In 2004, my younger son hadn’t come along yet.

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Once we get to 2005 – I’ll start duplicating layouts and just flipping the perspective depending on whose album it will go into.

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For example, the duplicate for this layout will take the middle picture on the right and swap it with the bigger picture on the bottom left so my younger son is the focus (really the cat is the focus – I’m not kidding anyone!)

Exceptions to the plan – As a CTMH consultant, I work with the current featured paper pack. Sometimes the paper theme doesn’t fit into my picture flow, so I have to decide which pictures to use. In these cases, I start with the paper theme to see what pictures I have.

The No Worries paper packet was a good example of this. My boys haven’t been to any lush tropical locales/beaches and I’ve already created layouts of their first (and only so far beach trip – we’re just more mountain than beach people). So I looked back through my pictures for a trip my husband and I took to Hawaii in 1997.

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What do I do if I have themed papers that I don’t have pictures for (or just haven’t taken the time to find pictures for)? I have created the layouts anyway in hopes that one day I’ll figure out which pictures to add to them.  Some are in WIP albums and others are in a stack!

I’ve also created a list that I can refer to that identifies the paper, layout titles, and photo sizes needed.  This way, as I work through my photo library, I can look at my already created layouts and see what I can work with.

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I have other pictures that don’t quite fit into either of the above options. These will require more time/thought or special attention – maybe to find just the right paper or to be in the right mind set. Not sure how I’ll tackle these yet – I think I’ll know when I get there.

Do you have a plan for working your scrapbooking or are you more of an ‘in the moment’ kind of person? I’d love to hear how you set about to play!

Enjoy!

~Gerri

QUICK Homemade Spaghetti Sauce!

I try to pay attention to what my family eats. I would prefer all natural, no sugar, no junk – I do my best but don’t always win that battle.  I was surprised to find sugar in the list of ingredients when I started looking at spaghetti sauce in the grocery store.  I could make my own, but the thought of babysitting the pot while it simmered was not very appealing.  Enter the pressure cooker! I found this recipe when I purchased a stove top pressure cooker and grew to love it even more when I got an electric! It is literally set it & forget it! And it’s a very forgiving recipe so if you don’t have something on hand you can adapt, substitute or omit it (except of course for the tomatoes!)

  • 32 oz diced Tomatoes – sometimes I used canned, sometimes I use fresh, sometimes they’re frozen – and they aren’t always diced.
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper (or red, yellow, orange…)
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning (or 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp rosemary)
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 6 oz tomato paste

Add all ingredients except tomato paste to the pressure cooker pot. Seal & set on manual for 8 minutes. Use a quick pressure release. Stir in in the tomato paste.

Transfer to a blender (or use a stick blender) and blend on high for about a minute for a smoother texture. If desired, return to pot and saute on low to the desired thickness.

Enjoy!

~Gerri

The Non-Sucky Parts of Autism (for my family, anyway)

I thought since I did a post a bit ago about how the effects of Autism can really be a downer (Autism Sucks) – I should also touch on those ‘non-sucky’ parts.  Since Autism is a spectrum with varying ranges of function and ability, this list applies to my family – particularly my son.  I hope that if you are a care giver or know someone on the Autism spectrum – that you too can take a moment and think about those things that are special

Passion – my son is so passionate about the things that really catch his attention. He throws himself into those things with all his heart. He will spend hours researching and planning to make something happen.

Intelligence – God gave this child an amazing brain! He gets concepts quickly and can apply those concepts and implement ideas.

A Thirst For Knowledge – This boy (both of my boys really) has always been a knowledge seeker! He wants to know what, how, why…. He reads, researches things on the internet … He’s even gone so far as to call NASA and Lego to ask questions! (I never would have thought to do something like that at his age – let alone have the courage to do it!)

Open Book (kind of) – you know exactly what he thinks. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. If you can’t figure it out – he’ll tell you – without beating around the bush.

He’s Great With Little Kids – If I’m volunteering in the nursery at church, I can count on my son to help out and entertain the little kids that are there. He loves to play with them and they all have a blast playing with cars or Legos or on the playground.

I Can Help – Based on my experiences with my sons – I’m sometimes able to help other moms who have questions about how to get help, what’s working (or not), how to handle situations. Obviously – all kids are different, but sometimes just an ear to listen can help another mom with the day to day struggles.

I realize I’m probably missing some positive traits, and this post isn’t near as long as the negative one – mainly because I had so many recent and strong emotions involved when I was writing the other post. Sometimes it seems harder to identify these positive things because they’re frequently overshadowed by the rough patches. But, I know that while the negative affects often tend to stand out – these positive attributes will be the ones that bring my son success.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with his future!

Find the Positive & Enjoy!!

~Gerri

 

Something’s Gotta Give – a little…

I once heard a speaker talking about balancing your life – family, work, self, volunteer time – it all takes time and energy.  I wish I could remember her name – because rather than talking about trying to balance everything like a scale – she talked about a symphony. When a symphony plays, a multitude of instruments come together to make beautiful music.  However, there are times when certain instruments shine – the brass might have a solo, so the other instruments linger in the background.  Next it’s time for the woodwinds – then percussion – on and on.  She spoke about how this was a good way to balance your life – sometimes family needs will take a lot of time and your other things will fall back slightly – they don’t go away, they just give way.  Next you might need to devote more time to your business – then a volunteer activity.

This is exactly what happened to me. I was helping to organize a fundraiser at my church and it took more of my time and energy than I was expecting.  It was a fun and successful event, but something else had to give – I decided to let my blog slide a bit until I could get caught up in more pressing areas and bring my symphony of life back together.  So – here are a couple of cards featuring the Little Dreamer Creative Collection.

Paper Pack

As usual, I try to keep my cards quick and easy.  This first card uses three strips (2 of the lagoon stripe and a floral) with a 3/4″ strip of thistle cardstock running across the bottom.  I added some Whisper thick twine for added visual dimension.  Then I topped this with squares of the blossom floral, thistle rainbows and the white daisy piece for stamping. The stamped images are done in Thistle and Glacier.  I felt the difference between the White Daisy card and the paper pieces was a bit too stark, so I backed everything with a 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 piece of the cloud paper.

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This next card simply uses a piece of the unicorn paper with a 5 1/2 piece of the zip strip along with some Whisper thick twine.  The stamping on this is done with Lagoon and Pixie and the stamped piece is backed with the heart paper.

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I hope your life’s symphony is well balanced and that you are able to pursue all the worthwhile causes you enjoy in life.

Enjoy!

Gerri

Products used can be found at gerri.closetomyheart.com