Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Goodies

Easiest Halloween Cupcakes -
These simple cupcakes are always a HUGE hit with the kids and take no time to create!

Cake Mix - Follow the instructions on the box!
White Frosting - Get the BIG container... this is all the kids will really eat!
Orange Food Coloring - You can mix red and yellow ;)
Spider Rings

Batty Good Bags
The kiddo always helps me with these
and they are finished in a flash!

Halloween Stamps - I used Making Memories
Black Ink - I like Ranger Pitch Black
Black Grosgrain or Twill Ribbon - 3yards
Paper Lunch Sacks
Yellow Cardstock - Cut with a circle die cut
Crop-a-Dile & Scissors

Thanks A Bunch Card
As a veteran room parent I know that many times they don't get much thanks so I plan to give this card to the saint who agreed to be our room parent this year!

Patterned Paper and Bat Stamps from Cosmo Cricket Haunted!

Halloween Bingo
I made this for the classroom party last year
when I was working with QuicKutz!

It's a Halloween Bingo Game that I found online. This was quick and easy to put together...

  1. Print Bingo cards onto smooth white cardstock.
  2. Cut apart and ink the edges with black ink.
  3. Mount bingo cards on black cardstock.
  4. Cut out QuicKutz Ghost Shapes with acid free foam to make the bingo markers!
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TILT - Things I Love Thursday

Okay, so this week I missed W-Weds because I've been sick, it's nothing super serious but I've been spending lots of time in the waiting room at various Kaiser facilities getting the latest scoop on the MTV train wrecks like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore, I have never even watched these shows (okay that one day when I was sick) and I don't need to ever watch these shows because the "characters" and their lives are splashed all over OK and Us Weekly so I'm all updated the next time someone wants to talk about trash TV!

Anyway, I thought I would borrow an idea from some of my bloggy friends and do TILT this week... here we go...

1. My Timbuk2 cargo tote! I think this is a small size, I don't remember now, but it's the best, most indestructible bag EVER!  It's black so it doesn't show dirt but it's got cute turquoise stitching and I love little details like that.  The inside is roomy and filled with pockets and the outside has two large pockets and then one side has "inner outer" pockets for keys (there is bright red ribbon with a clip so you don't lose them like some people have been known to do) and lipsticks and gloss. It has handles that fit over your shoulder or a strap that can cross your whole body ala messenger bag (the original Timbuk2 bag) but the strap stows in a handy dandy inner pocket when you're not using it!  This bag has so many awesome features that you should stop looking at my blog right now and run out to the nearest REI and snatch one up... seriously... go NOW!

2. You're back? Okay now you can use that really great bag when you go garage saling (is that really a word?) and find things like this fantastic green recliner!  Yep, it was my 2009 GS Find of The Year, yes I totally rate my garage sale finds.  I picked this sweet peace of relaxation equipment up for a mere $15!!!  It's perfectly sized for my small self (I have been described as a "midget"... no snorting Marti... although I stand a proud 5'4") and due to that fact it fits nicely in the back of my CRV!

3. My favorite shoes of 2010 the Privo by Clarks ballet flats!  These babies are cute yet rugged and boast adorable interior colors that are mimicked in the outer stitching.  Now, run back to REI and pick up a couple pairs of these... may I suggest a brown pair and a black pair?! 

4. A bag from TJ Maxx my most favorite shopping place!  Inside this bag of goodness is this fantastic Tommy sweater shawl thing (I'm fashion challenged so I'm sure it has a name I just don't know it), it's super cute and cozy and cable knit...a bonus for the eternally preppy like me... and also snuggled deep in this bag is a pair of Lucky jeans that I found for a third of the retail price... I LOVE TJ MAXX!

What do you love this Thursday?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Web Weds

So I thought on Wednesdays I would take a break from pouring out my heart and share with you wacky, fun, wonderful things that I like and you might too and because I'm just quirky most of them will have a W title... Web Weds, Welcome Weds, Walgreens Weds... you get the idea I'm sure.

For all my wonderful friends who have a story burning inside of them, like I do, you should check this out...

Your challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days which equals a 175 page novel!!! How cool is that?!  I love that they openly tell you on their home page "Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes."  I'm digging the honesty and the permission to make mistakes!

I also recently discovered this blog... Chic Critique... lots of fun women rating products and fashion deals... the review are honest and funny. 

I came across this yummy looking trio of canned pumpkin recipes over at AOL.  If you are anything like me you may have five or six cans of pumpkin in your pantry because you love it and were hording it stocking up on it last year when there was a shortage... by the way I've since learned that may have been a scam, oh well it just means I don't have to buy any more this year! (Photo credit goes to Frances Janisch)

Last, but never least, I wanted to direct you to this fantastic place lime green modern!  It is clean and modern silver jewelry that goes with everything!  I have to tell you I wear her pieces everyday and always get compliments. The necklace pictured above will be my next purchase!

What have you seen in your web surfing? 
Link it up in the comments I love checking out new sites!

See you back here tomorrow :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"...

"I want to be a writer." the twelve year old me would respond. 

I have always had a love affair with the written word. 

I spent hours of my childhood with my nose buried in a book; I could never get enough.  I filled journal after journal with poems and stories.  I loved to document life with words. 

I like the minute details that make up our daily lives such as the many subtle shades of green that come together to create a lawn or the small lines around someones eyes that hint at a lifetime of laughter. I like details and description.  I like textures and layers.  I like emotions and the different ways in which we express them. 

I like the little things.

I'm not very good at seeing the "big picture".

I dreamt about sitting in my home office and writing the next great American romance novel... no, not the next great American novel... a romance novel because I like happy endings.  I would sit in my old wooden office chair with my sock clad feet tucked under me and my hair held back by a pencil.  I would laugh and cry as my characters made their way through the story.  I figured I would pay the bills by writing freelance pieces for magazines like Yankee and Newsweek the way my Dad did.  (In my dreams I conveniently forgot that he had a savings and retirement plan from his days with HP.)

Life has a way of changing our dreams..

I grew up in a family filled with secrets.  I loved and lost greatly when I was very young.  My dream world came crashing down in my late teens.  I no longer wrote.  If I sat down with a pen and paper it was only to write to-do lists. 

Life continues whether we are living it fully or not.

Last year I reconnected with someone who knew me before I put my pen away.  He asked me "Do you write like you always wanted to?".  I had to answer no.  I confessed that I never wrote at all.  I admitted it was because I didn't want to feel the pain that I held locked inside.  Admitting the truth, that I had pushed away my dream, was like unleashing the flood gates of a reservoir; I was overwhelmed by all the emotions I had kept hidden in my heart.  It may have been the person asking the questions or the fact that they were about my deepest dreams and desires, I'm not sure, I think it is probably the combination of past, person and time.

You can only hold back your true self, those dreams and desires of your heart, for so long before they are either lost or push to the surface.

This is where my journey started. I have good days and bad days, but now I feel those days and I write about what I am feeling, this is a huge breakthrough for me. I'll be sharing what I'm learning here in my little corner of the world wide web... my writing place...

Are your dreams gathering dust on a shelf
or are you living them out? 
I'd love to hear what you're doing please share with me in comments section

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Beginnings and Taking It Back... Again

Earlier this year I talked about taking back my blog, making it mine again, more of the domestic diary that I had intended for it to be... I started and then I got scared.

Scared to talk about this broken path I've been walking.
Scared to share the murky depths of my heart.
Scared of the the judgement from those who read my words but comment only to my loved ones... never directly to me.

Judgement is a terrifying thing because it is commonly based on a skewed and drastically inaccurate view of what has been said. 

But I am really tired of hiding out and being afraid. 

Living in fear is not really living at all.

So here's the scoop...

2010 has contained some of my highest highs and my lowest lows.  I have reached places inside my heart that I had not visited in over a decade.  I have given and taken second chances.  I have crawled under the covers and hidden from the world.  I have stood on the mountain tops for all the world to see.  Through all of this I have walked with God and He has pulled me close.

I'll be working on redoing some of this blog and begin sharing my true self with you over the next few weeks.  I've been so inspired by the fabulous women over at  the {in}Courage blog... head over and check them out, I promise you'll love it!

Thanks for being patient with me.

Hugs, Houston

Monday, October 11, 2010

By-Products of Love

*Originally Published in July 2009*

by-prod·uct –noun

1. a secondary or incidental product, as in a process of manufacture.

2. the result of another action, often unforeseen or unintended.

Origin:  1900–05
We had a guest speaker at church this week and he got up to talk about bravery in following Jesus.  The first point that he made was "Bravery is a by-product of love." these words were like an arrow piercing straight to my heart.  I wasn't thinking about them in the context of following Jesus, because truthfully I'm just not there right now, I'm still too wrapped up in me, the horrible honest truth is that I can't sometimes see His light because I'm drowning in the darkness that I've brought on myself... the funny thing is in all the decisions I've made this past year I thought I was being brave.
Our speaker proved this point by asking the age old question... "If your house was on fire what would you grab?"  Well of course you'd grab your children and pets, but would you really rush back into the inferno to save your photos or your favorite antiques? No, probably not.  I sat back and pondered what I would grab... Coley of course, the boys (read: dachshunds) and I'm sure I would try to grab my camera and a few precious loons of my Gram's off the mantle as I raced for the door, but would I go back into thick smoke for my computer, for my scrapbooks, for my jewelry? no.  I'm sure I would stand in the street, calm and collected (yes, tragedies are the only time in my life when I can remain calm, cool and collected) and be thankful that my son was alive, that is all that really matters; the person I love the most is safe and alive!
So I sat and pondered this point some more.  I thought about love. I thought about how bravery is just one by-product of love.  I've come to realize in the last year that love has many by-products, sometimes they are painful, including heartache and loss, and sometimes they are so deep that you can't even begin to find the words that describe them... such as the fact that you still want those who have hurt you, to find happiness and joy in life... there are no words for that but it's a by-product of love.  Of course the very best by-product of love is love itself; love can grow and multiply, it can survive devestation, love can soar over the tops of the trees and span huge distances of both time and space.  Love begets forgiveness, forgiveness begets freedom, freedom begets renewal, renewal begets life, life begets love... it goes round and round with so much in between. 

In the end all I really know about love is that it's huge; there is no one way to define or describe it.  Love has different forms and meanings.  Love is joyous and love is painful.  Love really is what makes the world go round because each day you wake up with the notion that today you will see someone you love, do something you love, or be someone who is loved.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's A Journey


I was organizing and editing photos a few weeks ago and I noticed that over the last year I've taken fifty or so photos of roads.  I have pictures of everything from the busy interstate to meandering farm roads that are simply two trails of dirt leading through high grass.  After I noticed this I looked back over photos I had taken throughout my life and found that when I am in a season of uncertainty or great change I take lots of photos of the roads around me...

I have Polaroids of the bumpy dirt road that leads to my grandparent's house in Maine... the only place in my childhood that ever really felt like "home".
I have misty photos of the roads that I traveled over in the Yukon while on a long road trip with my grandparents... this was the summer before I went to Jr. High, always a time of transition... by the way you couldn't pay me enough to go back to Jr. High.
I have photos of the drive leading to Berkshire... boarding school, away from home, away from friends, filled with uncertainty... to be clear I chose to go away to school, it was not a punishment and I'm still really glad I had the experience.
I have photos of the roads leading to Steamboat through Wyoming... a last road trip before college that I took with my Dad... there was a whole speeding ticket fiasco, but we don't need to get into it ;)
and so on...

Last fall I went home to Fort Collins.  Yes, I had been there many times since we had moved away but I had never really been "home".  I was always careful to stay on the south end of town and to avoid places that held painful memories for me... I didn't do that last September... I booked a room at the Marriott and forced myself to visit all the places that haunted my dreams.  I allowed myself to feel the pain and fear associated with those places and the memories.  I visited the person with whom I had shared most of these moments.  I drove up to Horsetooth reservoir, sat on the rocks surrounding the water and just felt... I cried, I screamed; I am certain I looked totally crazy.  I drove up the Poudre Canyon and let myself just be, only me... alone but okay.  It was such a hard weekend.

The constant that remained throughout the weekend was that every place I went I took a picture of the roads... it was not done with conscious thought... I didn't even notice until now, a year later.
I realize now that I'm on a journey.  A journey that has no real beginning, other than birth, and possibly no real ending, other than death.  I cannot force myself to move faster.  My journey has it's own pace.  My companions along the way have their own pace and their own journeys.  I must walk alone sometimes.  Yet, I am never truly alone for the Lord is with me and He alone knows where my destination is. 

It's an interesting place for me to be, somewhere that has no definite, because I am a planner... I want to know what happens next and what exactly that means for me... so to be really clear I'm uncomfortable... and to tell the truth I actually kinda like it.

Are you uncomfortable?  Do you like it?  
Have you noticed any reoccurring themes in
your photos that are trying to tell you something?