Monday, December 28, 2009

Kendall's 15h Birthday "Party"

Poor Kendall. Her birthday is December 3rd and it's so hard to coordinate a date for her celebrations with friends. Everyone is busy with Christmas parties, decorating, baking, school plays, church programs, helping mom prepare for family coming in, shopping, breaking out the sweaters that grandma bought last year that hasn't been worn but must be adorned when she comes to visit.

The days of arranged parties complete with themed cakes and matching decorations are long gone. Now all Kendall wants is for her friends to come over and "hang out" - preferably in the basement - with loud music - with lots of food - with parents far from site. The lots of food part can be arranged. The loud music we can tolerate. The parents being far from site is not going to happen. We happily stay out of the way and let her "hang" with her friends, but we are present and we check up on everyone periodically.

Unfortunately, Kendall's invite list of 8 ended up with an attendee list of 2. Everyone already had obligations with family and we thought a party of 3 might leave much to be desired. So, we offered to take the kids out for pizza and to a movie of their choice (so long as it was rated PG or PG13 - no R allowed). Kendall thought that was a great idea, so her two friends came over to the house and we took them to Pizza Hut and sat across the restaurant from them so that they could speak freely and not feel like we were cramping their style. Then, we took them to see, "Old Dogs" (hilarious, by the way) and sat across the theater from them. They all had a great time and I think Kendall just appreciated the fact that she has made so many wonderful friends here in Colorado, even if they weren't all able to make it to her party. She's used to it, having a birthday in December.....maybe next year her birthday will be in September.

Opening gifts before we left the house

Kendall is so easily pleased. Bless her heart!

Our Non-Traditional Thanksgiving '09

For Christmas for Jay and Kendall and I this year, we purchased season passes to Keystone and A-Basin, as well as season ski rentals from the AF Academy. One of the perks of being in the military is that we get some great discounts, especially living in a military-friendly town. We got an unbelievable deal on season passes and we decided what better gift to give one another than time together. We didn't purchase season passes for Nicole, because she won't be with us enough this season to justify a season pass, but we did buy two one-day tickets for her and took advantage of the time we had with her to hit the slopes for the first time this season.

We were able to have both of the girls with us over Thanksgiving week this year and picked up Nicole from DIA on the Saturday before the big day. Jay and I both took off that Tuesday and took the girls up to Keystone for their first day of skiing. Nicole picked it right up, but poor little Kendall had a heck of a time. She was so frustrated and we felt so badly for her! Jay and I tried to coach her along, and kept encouraging her to believe in herself and to not give up, but she spent most of the day frustrated.

We decided to get her some basic lessones for the day on Thanksgiving and what a difference a day makes! We kept skiing by and checking on her and by the time her lessons were over, she was flying down the bunny slopes with new confidence and taking joy not only in skiing, but in her accomplishments. I am sure it didn't hurt that she had a huge crush on her ski instructor (that is very confidential, so don't tell anyone)! Whatever the reason, we were so thrilled that she was enjoying herself and now we can go up to the mountains as a family and enjoy creating new memories in the mountains. We may not have any fantastic amusement parks nearby, but we can have plenty of amusement watching each other fall (er, ski) down the mountains :).

The day after Thanksgiving, we headed into Rexford and spent the evening with Jay's mom. We had such a delightful time! She made some homemade chicken noodle soup and some chili and some turkey breast and we brought 3 pies (they were buy one, get one, we're not completely insane) and Sharon made an oatmeal cake. We had a big feast, and then had a hilarious time playing Win, Lose, or Draw. Let's just say that none of us would be able to make a living drawing, but we still had a wonderful time. I can't remember the last time we all laughed that hard.

This may not have been a traditional Thanksgiving, but we absolutely made some lasting memories.

The ramp at the bunny slopes

Look at the view we had from the top of the mountain

I miss the ocean, but cannot complain one bit with views like these!

Getting ready to head down the mountain

Waiting in line to have our photos taken for our season passes

What on earth is she trying to draw?


Would you put that camera down and come over here and help us?

Redkin Smooth Down Butter Treat

Since moving to Colorado Springs, I have found that everything is dry - including my hair! My hands are dry, my legs are dry, my feet are dry, I get bloody noses on a regular basis, my hands are cracking....between the altitude and the cold, it's just DRY! I drink plenty of water, drown myself in lotion, cover my fingertips in Neosporin and Band-Aids before bedtime, and have completely given up wearing contact lenses until Spring.

Wha I have found is that I do not have to suffer from dry hair. I switched from my drugstore shampoo and conditioner (Pantene or Garnier - usually purchased in bulk at Costco) to Redkin All Soft shampoo and conditioner and a twice-weekly dose of one of my new favorite things.

I love this Redkin Smoothdown Butter Treat. It was recommended by my hair dresser and I have noticed significant improvement in the texture of my hair. You don't need to apply much, and I always let it set for a few minutes while I'm shaving my legs, or just enjoying the hot water and by the time I rinse, I have happy hair! I purchase it at Beauty Brands, which offers a much better price than the salon. Still, it is an investment, but it is very worth it. I went fry dry, frizzy, brittle hair to soft, smooth....well, happy hair!

Hyundai Santa Fe

I loved my Honda CR-V. I used to drive Chrissi around in it and every time she was with mommy and would see a vehicle with a tire on the back she would say, "Shannon's car." She new my little Honda. She associated it with me. I drove that car to my first date with Jay. That car took me back and forth from Santa Maria to Camarillo. I would drive Grandma to the mall in the car and drive it to concerts and to visit friends and family. So many wonderful memories were made with that vehicle.

But alas, all good things must come to an end. I bought a Honda because of their reputed reliability. Around a year and a half ago, we started having problems with the head. Jay did some research online (he is so good at that) and discovered that there is a known problem with the Honda CR-V from 1999-2001. I happened to have a 2000 model. Honda of Santa Maria worked with us on the problems and eventually, ended up removing the head due to warpage and having it machined down and then reinstalled it. We found it peculiar that they did not charge us any labor (somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200), but were grateful that we caught such a break and didn't have to pay for such an expensive repair.

Fast forward to our move to CO. We towed the car on a trailer behind Jay's Nissan Titan and the car was running just fine for a couple of months. On the day I went for my job interview, the car would not start. I had Kendall in the car and we were headed to go to the bank to make a deposit and the car would not start! I was sure it was the alternator or battery and after 4 attempts, the engine turned over. I am 100% convinced that God started my car that morning because it should not have started. I took Kendall to the bank and left the car running in the parking lot. I know this is a big no-no, but I could not risk being stranded without a car with a job interview in 2 hours. We prayed and the car was still outside the bank and still running. We drove home and left the car running in the garage. Don't worry, I left the garage door open...but still, not a good idea. I came out and the car was still running, so I drove to my interview. I turned off the car, had my interview, and the car would not start. I was about to call AAA when my soon-to-be new boss offered to jump start my car for me. There I am, all dressed up in a suit, with the company owner outside jump starting my car for me. Talk about making a lasting impression! I promptly drove to the Honda dealership in Colorado Springs and they tested the battery and sure enough, it was dead. They installed a new battery and within 30 minutes, I was on my way home.

Job interview #1 lead to interview #2, which lead to interview #3 and an offer. One week before I was to start my new job, my check engine light came on. Not only did it come on, but it was flashing. I don't know much about cars, but I knew this was not good. I called the Honda dealership and they said to have the car towed in - do NOT drive it! So, I called AAA and they towed the car in. After several conversations with Front Range Honda, we discovered that the head needed to be replaced. Jay talked to them at length and after retrieving our records from Honda in Santa Maria, they informed us that the heads on that model can never be machined. Once they are warped, they are no good and cannot be repaired. Nice to know now! They negotiated for a couple of weeks with Honda of Santa Maria, and were completely unsuccessful. Out of the kindness of their hearts (and with the knowledge of the power of word of mouth), they agreed to replace the head ($4200 repair) for $1000.

While we were waiting for a resolution on the Honda, we decided it was time to get some reliable transportation for me. The Honda had 134,000 miles on it and with a new job and a harsh winter ahead of us, we decided to get a new vehicle. We read some extensive reviews online and found that the Hyundai Santa Fe was the best value for us. Both consumer and expert reviews were stellar and the price and standard warranty made this vehicle a really good value.

We went ahead and purchased the Hyundai and decided to have the Honda repaired and put it up for sale on Craig's List. We sold it within a week with full disclosure. The young woman that purchased the vehicle took it to a mechanic to have it looked at and we told her all about the head and the known issues with that model. The new head is under warranty, as is the new battery and the new tires that were purchased before we left CA. We felt that we were able to sell the vehicle in good conscience and hope that she is very happy with it and that it is a good car for her.

We are THRILLED with the Santa Fe! I can't say enough good about it. It came with all kinds of bells and whistles (like a compass in the rear view mirror, outside temperature, lighted drink holders, lumbar support, stereo controls on the steering wheel) and handles fantastic in the snow. Driving in the snow is an entirely new experience for me and I feel extremely safe in my new ride. It has all wheel drive and I can also switch to manual shifting to slow down on icy patches without applying the breaks.

We were not ready to purchase a new vehicle, but I am glad things worked out the way they did.
Below are pictures of my new baby. They were taken on a snowy day...these days the sunny days are few and far between and the car is so dirty when the sun does show itself that these are the best photos I have to offer until Spring ;)

Jen's Sketch Challenge 12-26-09

I happen to work with an extremely generous group of people. It's a very small office and we all work together as a team. I absolutely love it! This was my first year there and I didn't realize that everyone was going to give gifts out. Some of them were very small, like a bag of candy or goodies, but it was still everyone was so thoughtful. I was caught off guard and hadn't purchased gifts for everyone myself, but at least wanted to make a thank you card for each of them.

I decided to use Jen's sketch challenge and just make 6 cards the same, rather than pressuring myself to come up with 6 designs in a relatively short amount of time. I think they turned out really cute! There are some variances (different buttons and snowflakes), but basically they are all the same.

Next year I will be much more prepared. Look out folks!

Cardstock - Bazzil Basics (Light Blue, Pink), Stampin' Up! (Purple, Red)
Patterned Paper - Basic Grey (Mistletoe Collection)
Stamps - Inkadinkadoo (Snowflakes stamped onto Blue CS in Versamark), Hero Arts (Background Stamp, Sentiment)
Embellishments - Stampin' Up (Ribbon, Felt Snowflakes), Basic Grey (Buttons), Scrapper's Floss
Ink - Versamark, Stampin' Up (Elegant Eggplant Classic Ink)

Christmas Joy

Hi Everyone! My poor little blog has been terribly neglected and I am planning on rectifying that! I don't know if I will get caught up anytime soon, but I needed to take the pressure off of myself to catch up so that I could at least start posting again. As a result, some postings may be out of order, but I realize so many loved ones and dear friends look to this blog for updates, especially since we are now so far away.

I'll start with a card that I made for Jay for Christmas. To give you an idea of how not only neglected my little blog has been, but my cardmaking as well, I made this card on Christmas morning. Talk about waiting until the last minute!

For some reason, this year I was totally off on all of my Christmas projects. I designed my photo cards in one day, when normally I spend a couple of weeks on them. I sent gifts out at the very last minute. I didn't even make custom cards for family in addition to the photo cards, and I totally forgot about a card for my husband until he mentioned his card on Christmas Eve. Yikes!

So, I got up on Christmas morning and closed the door to my craft room and went to work. Considering it was totally last-minute, I was happy with the results :). I did some embossing in gold on the snowflakes and used some wonderful products that I won at a women's event at church.


Cardstock - Bazzil Basics
PatternedChip Paper - Basic Grey
Stamps - Stampin' Up (snowflakes)
Embelishments - Creative Imaginations (Trees), Little Yellow Bicycle (Chipboard Words), Hero Arts (Felt Flower), Making Memories (Brad)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Favorite Lip Balm

First of all, who doesn't love Bath & Body Works? As my dad so affectionately says, "women like stinky stuff." Although the truth is we like smelly stuff, he does have a point. I can never pass up an opportunity to stop in at Bath & Body Works or Victoria's Secret and smell the new fragrances and put on some sample spray or some lotion whether I am making a purchase or not. I love candles, candle oils, scented lotion, cologne, potpourri, good smelling shampoo and conditioner, flowers....yummy, clean, wonderful smells.

One of my favorite lines at Bath & Body Works has nothing to do with smelling good though. C.O. Bigelow makes some fabulous products and their lip balm is hands-down, the best lip balm I have ever used. They have some that mentha tinted products as well, which actually do have a nice scent and make your lips tingle (in a good way.) Since moving to Colorado EVERYTHING is dry and I appreciate even more having a good lip balm that will help prevent my lips from chafing. This lip balm truly is one of my favorite things.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jen's Sketch Challenge 10-10-09

Ok, so this posting is very late! I made sure I made this card in time because Jen was giving away some blog candy on last week's entry, but when I went to upload the card, Blogger was acting all buggy and I couldn't get onto the right entry to leave a comment! Ah, the horror!!!! And, we were going out of town for the weekend so eventually I had to give up.

But, since I just won some blog candy today, I don't feel so bad for missing the deadline. I don't want to be greedy, I think everyone should get a chance to win at one time or another.

Although I am very tardy, I wanted to go ahead and upload the card that I made, since I did make the effort , I thought I would go ahead and upload my card.

I used these fabulous papers from Making Memories. I got a 4x4 pack on sale at Archiver's and the patterns are so versatile and since I have been on a green kick lately, I was anxious to use them. I don't know what it is with me and colors, but I get on these kicks and I will find myself drawn to a particular color for a period of time and can't get enough of it and then boom, onto the next! The stamps are from Unity KOTM. I just love getting my kits every month and can't wait to open that manilla envelope that will barely fit into my mailbox :). I did some dry and wet embossing, some faux stitching, and some paper piecing on this card.


I won! I actually won some blog candy!!!!

One of my favorite blogs is Jennifer McGuire from Two Peas in a Bucket. She had some phenomenal tutorial videos on her site and makes beautiful cards and scrapbook pages. She also loves God and loves her family. She's a step mom also and inspires me all the time.

From time to time, she has some blog candy and although I have never won any blog candy, I keep playing along, hoping that one day my ship will come in.

Well, it came in today. Check out this entry on Jennifer's blog. Yep, that's me!

And, God knew that today I really needed a little boost from him. On the way home from Kendall's ortho appointment, my check engine light came on in the Honda. It didn't just come on and stay on, it was flashing, which come to find out is really bad news. I called AAA and they towed it to the Honda dealership. Hopefully I will find out in the morning what the problem is. This, after I just got a new battery installed on Friday and we had to fork out a substantial amount of money to have the stove replaced in our house in Santa Maria. Argh!

None of this is the end of the world, but God still knew that I needed a little gift tonight and some chipboard albums from Cosmo Cricket will do me just fine. Thank you God!!!! And, thank you Jennifer :).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hershey York Peppermint 100 Calorie Bars

Who doesn't love Thin Mint Girlscout Cookies? They are absolutely the BEST! Ok, maybe not as good as homemade chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, but for a boxed cookie, they just can't be beat. Well, thanks to Hershey, you can get that same great Thin Mint flavor year round, for only 100 calories for two good-sized wafer cookies and they taste just as good as the real thing! I don't even think York and Hershey were necessarily trying to mimic the Thin Mint cookie flavor, but that was the first thing that came to mind when I bit into one of these lovely little cookies this afternoon. I think the only thing better would be to dip them into some vanilla ice cream. Yum.....

Christmas in September

My friend Leslie has been at it again! She is cleaning house to prepare for the birth of her first child (her name is going to be Ruby, how cute is that?) and has given up Scrapbooking to focus on some other hobbies. She decided to purge and GAVE away all of these great products to me....for free! She posted a message on Facebook that she had a bunch of product to give away to the first one to send her a message. I told her that if there was no one local (she lives in VA) that I would be happy to take all of the Stampin' Up! products off of her hands because I didn't want her to get stuck with it after it ended up, there was no one local and I happened to be the first one to message her. She had some Creative Memories products also, but I didn't want to be a complete hog so I *volunteered* to take all of the SU! products off of her hands. I had no idea what I was in for until I received two, very heavy boxes filled with product. I now own almost every, single ink pad and 5 new stamp sets. All for free! I sent Leslie a check for all of the postage, plus a little extra and we sent a beautiful gift for baby Ruby, but what a gift this was. She could have sold it on ebay or Craigs list, but she gave it all away.

Thank you Leslie, and thank you God for this special gift.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

MAC Prep & Prime

I'm starting a new feature on my blog to showcase a few of my favorite things. I love reading reviews of products by other bloggers and although this blog is not designed as an advertising mechanism, I want to share some tried and true products that I have found work for me. Yes, yes, I realize you can pick up Glamour's annual product review guide for beauty products, but I'm not going to focus strictly on beauty products. I might share a kitchen tool or gadget or shoe....the possibilities are endless.

Today, I am starting with a beauty product. This is MAC's Prep and Prime Eye cream. I have been using this cream for about 4 years now and I just love it. I don't know about all women, but I end up with a crease in my eye shadow at some point in the day. It might be in the afternoon on a hot, summer day, or at the end of a very long work day. It is inevitable that at some point, the crease will magically appear. This cream does not eliminate the crease all together, but it helps prolong the inevitable. The main thing I love about this cream is that it helps to apply eye shadow extremely smoothly. It provides a base to the lid so that anything that is added on top of the base will go on smoothly and gives an extra polished look. One jar will last a good year, and it travels really well.

Tip - for those of you that don't know, save all of your MAC packaging. When you have accumulated 6 empty containers (used to be 5 but whatever), you can turn them all in to your local MAC store or MAC counter at a department store and they will give you a free lipstick of your choice! I would recycle the packaging anyway, but I'm not going to turn down a free lipstick!

Jen's Sketch Challenge 10/03/09

Sorry I'm a bit late in posting this. I am still getting caught up from my glorious trip to California (pics coming soon). I need to get back into the groove and spend some more time in my craft room, but did manage to carve out a little time this week to make this fun Halloween card for Jen's sketch challenge.

I purchased this absolutely adorable Halloween pp by Bo Bunny at Archiver's on Wednesday night after attending a Timeless Traditions cardmaking class (where I met some really nice ladies). I have been searching for some cute Halloween pp but nothing has really struck me. I did fall in love with the dsp by SU! but just haven't made a purchase in a while and didn't want to wait for the shipment to arrive. Then, the moment happened....I saw the Bo Bunny display and absolutey adored the collection. Some of it is very versatile, you don't have to use it strictly for Halloween projects, which I like. I like paper that fits the theme, but can also be used year round if the inspiration strikes you.

The spiderweb and skull stickers are from Making Memories....aren't they so much fun? I also really like the crescent moon bling from Little Yellow Bicycle. The sentiment is from Inkadinkadoo. The stamp is actually all in one line, but using a Post-It and my Stampamajig, I split it into two lines to fit on the card.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sketch Challenge 09/09/09

Time for another fabulous sketch challenge from Jen del Muro. I made a somewhat monochromatic card for this challenge, which is not my specialty, but when you are working with great products, life is much easier! I got this beautiful 6x6 Making Memories paper pack on sale for $2.99 at Archiver's and broke it out for the first time with this card. All papers, with the exception of the small strip of Very Vanilla and the Kraft cs square are from this paper collection. I used my SU! Short & Sweet stamp set for the sentiment and small heart and that incredible flourish stamp is from Unity's August KOTM (first time I was able to break out this kit and try any of the stamps.) I stamped the image in Chocolate Chip ink multiple times onto some Kraft cs and then sponged the edges with my SU! sponge. I finished it off with some heart-shaped chipboard from 7 Gypsies that I covered in patterned paper and sanded the edges with my Making Memories sanding block.

Thanks for yet again another wonderful challenge Jen!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Jen's Sketch Challenge 08/29/09

Time for another Sketch for You to Try. It had been a few weeks since I was able to play along, so I sat down last night and started playing with the sketch.

For some reason, this was a tough one for me. I just could not find my groove....don't you hate it when that happens?

I started off with some Riding Hood Red and Chocolate Chip cs, which I stamped using Versamark ink with a flourish from SU! for the bottom panels and added some Riding Hood Red taffeta ribbon. Then, I grabbed my Bella Rose patterned paper and started cutting the additional panels. Where I ran into trouble was with the main, front panel. I just couldn't come up with a winning combination of stamps for that shape. I was having a major mental block and had to make a few attempts and still am not 100% satisfied with the end result. I stamped the flowers in Kiwi Kiss and Riding Hood Red and then found that it still needed something extra, so I added a couple of strips of Chocolate Chip CS and stamped a second sentiment and cut it out with my oval punch from SU! and added a metal heart accent from Colorbok.

This is my absolute favorite DSP of all time and I was really disheartened that I had such a hard time finding the inspiration that I was looking for.

Does that ever happen to you?

Baby Bib

I got this brilliant idea from my friend Donna over at Butternut Sage Designs to make a card cut out like a baby bib. Donna made her bib using very traditional colors (white, pastels) and displayed it with some adorable blocks and I just fell in love with the idea.

My friend Leslie is having a baby shower in a couple of weeks, which I will be unable to attend because I will be on my way to CA that afternoon, but I wanted to make her a card to go along with her gift and drop it off at the shower location so that she'll have something from us to open even though I can't be there in person. Leslie is very non-traditional, very modern, and does not like pastels. She even sent an exasperated status update to Facebook to this effect....something like, "Isn't there any bedding that is not pastel?" For this reason, I thought it best to steer clear of pastels in her card and instead went for a very modern vibe.

I cute the "bib" out of Chocolate Chip cs using my scalloped circle template in my Cuttlebug. Then, I cut a half-circle out of both the front and the back panels using my Marvy Circle punch. Next, I stamped the front in Versamark ink using my Distressed Hearts background stamp from Unity and embossed the hearts using some Zing embossing powder from American Crafts in Leaf. I just purchased a few bottles of this new embossing powder and the colors are so vibrant!!!!

I added a small strip of patterned paper from Basic Grey, along with a small circle out of the same pattern. Then, I stamped the "L" using some Distress Ink in Peeled Paint and sponged around the edges in Chocolate Chip ink.

I cut the pink flowers out of some Bazzil cs with my Cuttlebug and added a little bling from Kaiser and then finally added the sentiment from SU that I stamped in Chocolate Chip and cut using my word punch, also from SU.

The tops of the panels are secured with some pink brads and I added some green ribbon from Classic Traditions for the bib's straps.

Alcohol Ink Bookmark

I am having so much fun playing with my alochol inks from Ranger. I am so glad I dusted them off and started playing. They are messy and so versatile!

I made this little bookmark just because, but decided I am going to send it off with a card to a friend who has a birthday coming up. I started with a basic vanilla tag from Paper Reflections that I got in the Hot Spot at Archivers. Using Latte, Caramel, and Ginger alcohol inks, along with some gold mixative and some blending solution, I covered the tag completely. I dried the inks using my heat tool, then stamped the create image from Hero Arts using Staz-On ink twice onto the tag so that it would cover the whole thing. Next, I covered a vanilla flower from Hero Arts using the same ink combination and then added a black button and some Scrapper's Floss and then tied on some raffia ribbon and added some plain black ribbon to the top.

I just love the way the mixatives make this tag shimmer. The ink completely bled through to the opposite side of the tag, but it's still a really nice effect and actually gives the back of the bookmark some added interest. Just make sure that you are working on a craft mat or a piece of cardboard when using alcohol inks, or they will stain your work surface.

Thinking of You

A very dear friend of mine has been having some medical issues lately and it's really hard to be away from her and be so helpless. I made this card to send to her to let her know that no matter how far apart we may be, she is never far from my thoughts and prayers.

I found this fabulous create stamp from Hero Arts at Archiver's for 75% off. Why it was in the sale bin, I have no idea because it is gorgeous and is my new favorite stamp. Ok, it doesn't hurt that it is adorned with these beautiful butterflies, but I love everything about it!

I started with a piece of Basic Black cs that I embossed with my Cuttlebug. Then, I used this beautiful patterned paper from Little Yellow Bicycle for the bottom layer and for the scalloped circle. I stamped the Create stamp using Basic Grey ink from SU! and stamped onto Going Grey cs and then rounded the corners and adhered to the pp. The small butterfly is from Unity's Bevy of Butterflies new set (another fav!), the sentiment is from Hero Arts, and the small flowers are from Inkadinkadoo. I added some polka-dot ribbon from Colorbok and a little bit of bling to make it extra special.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cleaning Make-Up Brushes

I was reading Kristina Werner's blog this morning and she had another "things I'm loving right now" post. In her post, she mentions a make-up brush cleaning product and I was reminded that it's been a while since I cleaned my make-up brushes. I promptly went and cleaned them and thought I'd do a little post of how I clean my brushes.

Now, we all know that we need to clean our make-up brushes. They get make-up caked on them and who knows what kind of bacteria and let's face it - they are not cheap and if you want your brushes to last (just like anything else), you have to take care of them.

Cleaning my brushes takes about 5 minutes and they last forever! I start by taking a small dish and filling it with hot, soapy water. I then rinse each brush individually under warm water to get the bulk of the make-up off and then swish it around in the hot, soapy water, rubbing the brush against the bottom of the dish to get the soap in between the bristles. I rinse the brush again, and then use some MAC brush cleaner to condition the brush and then squeeze out the excess moisture, while shaping the brush before I set it out to dry.

I lay all of the brushes on a hand towel and let they dry naturally. That's it, 5 minutes and I have nice, clean brushes that I won't have to replace for a good, long while.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shannon's Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

I love to cook. I mean, love it! I am a Food Network junkie and would go to culinary school in a heartbeat if we could afford it. I have no desire to become a professional chef, I just want to learn how to cook like one.

I most often cook from recipes. I do have a few of my own creations that I enjoy making, but haven't done as much experimenting as I really should. What I usually do is start from a recipe and make it exactly as directed the first time and then make modifications until I get it just the way I like it.

My enchiladas are one of the things that I make that didn't come from a recipe. They are my own and if I do say so myself, they are super tasty! I think the key is cooking the chicken in the crock pot.

I'm going to share the recipe here, and please feel free to try it out and even share it with friends and loved ones. I do ask, however if you do pass it along that you give me credit for it. Thank you :).

Ok, tip for you - I prefer making my enchiladas with corn tortillas. This is merely a personal preference. I like the taste and they are lower in calories and fat and higher in fiber than flour tortillas, so I always make mine with corn, but have always had trouble with the tortillas cracking on me. I thought if I bought them super fresh and didn't refrigerate them, maybe that would solve the problem. That did help, but I still had some cracking. Tonight I found the solution! A handy, dandy tortilla warmer. We got one as a wedding gift and in our old house, it was stored in some cabinets in the laundry room. Out of sight - out of mind. In this house, there is enough storage in our kitchen for all of our gadgets and serving dishes, including china, so I find myself reaching for things that I left untouched in the old house. So, I pulled out the tortilla warmer and wet a paper towel and placed it in the bottom of the warmer, then piled up 12 tortillas and topped with another wet towel and microwaved on high for 2 minutes. The tortillas were hot and moist and did not crack - not even a little bit. I did pull out one at a time and replaced the lid each time and I'm telling you, it was wonderful. They were like buttah!

Now, onto the recipe

4 frozen chicken breasts
1 large can of diced green chiles (17 ounces)
2 jars of store-bought salsa (whatever brand is on sale)
About 1/4 cup of sour cream (I use the light)
1 large can of enchilada sauce (I use the green)
1 bag (2 cups) of shredded Mexican cheese blend (I use the 2%)
Corn tortillas

Garnish (optional)
Chopped scallions
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped black olives

In the crock pot, place the frozen chicken breast (I use frozen because the water helps make the sauce that the chicken will cook in), diced green chiles, and 2 jars of salsa. Cook on low until chicken is cooked through, then switch to keep warm.

When you're ready to start preparing the enchiladas

Preheat oven to 375

Pull the chicken breasts out of the crock pot and shred with two forks. The chicken will be very tender and will most likely fall off of your fork as you are trying to pull it out of the crock pot. This is a good thing, that means it will be easy to shred and will be nice and juicy! The shredding is time consuming, but I prefer the shredded texture to just cut up chicken. This part is up to you, whatever your preference is.

After the chicken is all shredded, add the sour cream (I usually do about 2 heaping large spoonfuls) and about 4 large spoonfuls of the salsa/green chile mixture from the crock pot. Mix it all together with a fork and set aside.

Spoon the enchilada sauce into the bottom of your baking dish until the entire bottom is covered. Make an assembly line to start making your enchiladas.

Take a corn tortilla and fill the center with the chicken mixture. Top with a pinch of the cheese (I don't put much into the enchiladas, I save most of the cheese for the top) and roll up and place into the baking dish. Repeat until all of the chicken mixture is gone. Top the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce and the rest of the cheese and bake about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted and the sauce is bubbling.

Garnish with scallions, tomatoes, olives, or whatever toppings you like.

I serve simply with some vegetarian refried beans that I add a little bit of the sauce from the crock pot to for extra flavor.

Card for Jay's Promotion

Sorry for the poor quality on this photo. I took it at night and I usually try to take my photos with natural light. It's very grainy and now I remember why I try to take photos with natural light!

I was going to do a celebration card, but nothing was really inspiring me (he he) and then I looked at my July KOTM from Unity and thought this starts and sentiment would be perfect for a congratulations card. It's true, Jay does inspire me - every, single day.

I stamped the stars in Riding Hood Red and Basic Grey classic ink from SU and the sentiment with Faded Jeans distress ink from Ranger. I used some patterned paper that I got from Costco a while ago (I'm sorry, I am not sure what the brand name is) and cut out small squares and adhered to Riding Hood Red CS and took some chipboard stars from Heidi Swapp and sprayed them with Pearl Tattered Angels Glitter Mist and topped them with buttons that are tied with Scrapper's Floss. After I glued all of my panels down, I distressed all of the edges with Faded Jeans and Fired Brick Distress Ink from Ranger. I added some small silver bling from Michael's and then wrote some schmoopy private stuff on the inside :).

Jay's Promotion

On August 11, 2009 Jay was promoted to Lt. Col. He has worked incredibly hard and has done extremely well in his career. He is respected by those in authority over him as well as by those he is in authority over. We are so very proud of him. Not only for his dedication and commitment to his job, but for serving our country. Serving in the military is not a "normal" job. His life is not his own. He belongs to the Air Force and will belong to them until the day of his retirement. It's a sacrifice, but without men and women like him, we would not be able to live in freedom as Americans.

On Friday, there was a promotion ceremony on the base to honor Jay, and to allow his family to be present and allow him to thank us for supporting him in his career. It felt a little odd, to be honest....all we wanted to do was honor him, but the purpose of it was more for us. Everything is so structured and very ceremonial and first class all the way. Just to be in the room with all of these individuals in uniform, saying the pledge of allegiance together gives me chills.

Jay's mom and brother and cousin Doug and his wife Joanie drove in from Colby, KS to be there for the ceremony. We also took Kendall out of school early so that she could be there with us as well.

The proceedings started with the pledge of allegiance, followed by a very heartfelt, beautiful prayer. Yes, in the military at events, they still pray and I, for one, am thankful! No one walks out offended, and we get to invite God's presence there with us and honor Him for all He's done for us. It's a great way to begin! After the prayer, Jay's boss spoke about his accomplishments and told some witty stories about him. He hasn't known Jay for very long, but was able to prod some information out of some all-too-willing family members. He had no trouble at all getting Jay's mom and brother and cousins to dish some dirt! After he spoke, Jay's mom and I pinned on Jay's new pins signifying his new rank. Then, Jay was able to speak to each of us. He thanked his family for being there and presented his mom and Kendall and I with flowers and thanked those who could not be there physically - specifically Nicole, who was attending her first day of school, his dad and most of all, God.

It was highly emotional, especially not having Loni there with us. We all felt his presence, but he was missed. He's in a better place now, but that doesn't stop us here on earth from missing his smile and his laughter. Someday we will be together again.

I'm so grateful to be married to such an honorable man. He has integrity, dedication, loyalty, he's romantic and hilarious and I'm just so proud to be Mrs. Ketchum.

Congratulations honey!

After the promotion ceremony, we came back to the house for a champagne/sparkling cider toast and to open presents. Unbeknownst to us, it is customary for the promotee to give gifts to his/her family. Jay got Nicole a gift certificate for some riding equipment (her grandpa got her some riding lessons and she needed some gear) and he got Kendall a Fender electric guitar (complete with amp and all of the accessories) and I got a plane ticket to CA!!!! I am beyond excited!!!! I have never been so excited to go to CA before. I cannot wait to spend time with friends and family, and frolic in the ocean and have some seafood and In-N-Out. It's amazing the things you miss.

My husband is extra special! There was literally no parking in the parking lot and we pulled up right to the front to find these reserved signs. We felt a little like royalty.

Jay's mom and I pinning him on

Saying the oath

Saying things to make all of us cry

Presenting flowers and hugs

We are so in love

I handed Doug the camera to run back and take a photo of the cake before it was gone. One of the wives of a guy Jay works with made the cake and punch for us. It was delicious!

Our dear friends Alicia and Brian. Alicia worked with Jay at Vandenberg and moved to CA just two weeks before us. We're so glad to have her so close.

Jay with his mom and his brother Eric

Cousin Doug and Joanie

Wishing Nicole was with us

I put up just a few decorations. There are stars and some star garland hanging on the chandelier

And some stars on the wall


Opening presents

Red roses for me (mom got pink ones)

Sunflowers for Kendall

I had absolutely no idea what to give Jay for such a special occasion, so I made a collage photo with pictures of his dad

And included a love letter from father to son....I felt Loni give the words to me, it was really very precious. I know he is still with us and we miss him every day


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