Wow! It’s been a looong time, hasn’t it? I’ve been missing you!
Forgive the absence and the total failure to live up to Resolution No. 5! Tsk tsk. But real life happens, right? So in real life, I’ve been running around pretty much like a headless chicken (refer to blog title 😀 ) attending to one million and one things all crying out my name at the same time.
Uhm. In retrospect, I think I’ve been much more of a duck (“calm on the surface but paddling like the dickens underneath”). There’s a funny part of me that hopes that being calm and collected on the outside will somehow seep into the inside by osmosis. hehe.
So. Lots of reasons why I hope you’ll forgive the long absence, but I won’t bore you with all the details. In a nutshell, this is what kept me away from my porch these past weeks:
- dealing with medical emergencies ( one of which was major and took me out of the home for an entire week)
- starting a crash course in Nutrition and Cooking Duty to answer the diet and lifestyle changes required by the medical emergencies (see above). Uhm. I have to confess: when God was distributing kitchen talents, I was way over on the opposite side, lined up in the Digital Addiction area 😆
- working on the construction of a new annex to our home and remodelling of the existing one
- helping the younger kids with their school work for this last stretch before summer (blissful summer!) comes
- attending to the graduation needs of the two older ones (including graduation balls, graduation practices, and all those major class activities that seem to get scrunched up in the last few months of the school year)
- writing my usual column for our community newsletter (and editing the whole thing too)
- and…(I’ve saved the best part for last)…
- working with Jes on our new shoppe. That’s right! We now have our very own little shoppe on the Spraground! Woohoo! 😀 (more on this below)
Extreme Makeover, Home Edition: The Kitchen
Did I mention that our home has been undergoing a major makeover since late December? We added an annex to our home (when you have five boys, you realize you need *lots* of space) and what that translates to is, basically, building a house all over again. Or at least it feels pretty much like it. Repainting, acquiring more furniture (luckily, we have access to a carpenter who can translate my designs into wood so we don’t really have to buy too many ready-made pieces of furniture), sorting through accumulated junk and trying to decide what goes and what stays (and having to deal with “No! We can’t throw that away!” from all corners of the home), ripping out flooring material and … you get the picture. 🙄
The good news is, with the additional space, dh and I get to have our own workroom. I’m still trying to decide which shelves and cabinets to move from our bedroom to the workroom over there (separation anxiety from my scrappin’ goodies, hehe). Funnily, the kids refuse to get their own bedrooms (which is one of the main reasons we added the annex); they prefer to sleep together in their own shared bedrooms. What this means is we get to have a guest bedroom (you’re all invited to come over for a sleepover! YAY!) and another bedroom turned into a playroom for the kiddos (which serves as a second guestroom if needed so come over and bring your entire fam!) 😆 . Oh! It also means I finally get my own veranda, which I’ve turned into our art nook! The kids’ art table is now there, and my oil paints and canvases and my easel and palette and paintbrushes and…
And then, there’s the kitchen. Which is being made over. Which, in this state, pretty much represents what the rest of the house looks like while it’s undergoing plastic surgery:
A bit of a side story: We had wooden floors here, which we ended up removing because we realized on Year 2 that wooden floors and kitchen spills don’t mix well. Now that we’re doing major work on the house, dh and I decided to replace the flooring with the more friendly Italian tiles. So he brought home 5 large square tiles for me and the kids to choose from: there was one amazing tile that had a wood pattern very much like our old kitchen’s wooden floor–very tempting, except that it had a slight pink-orange tint to it that disturbed me (heehee). There were 3 wonderful textured tiles of the warm-color family, the kind that make you think of Tuscany… and these seemed the perfect ones to choose from. But then there was this lone Zorro. The black italian textured tile. Very sleek. Very cool.
Hubby and I looked at each other and had the requisite “should we do black, knowing that dark colors make areas look smaller?” conversation. But then he said:
“Look at our black granite counters. And all that stainless steel…”
I thought of the black tiles. And the silver. And the black. And then the flashing marquee: Totally Sleek. Gorgeous. Yum.
So. Black it will be. 😉
And now, moving on from the kitchen, let’s go to…
The Little Shop on the Block
I love little towns. I love the concept of having everything within walking distance. I love the thought of walking on late afternoons and passing by the butcher, waving at the baker, nodding at the corner grocer, smiling at the florist… I love the completeness of small towns where you can get everything within walking distance and where every corner oozes with warmth and sense of family.
If the Spraground were a tangible place, this is exactly how I imagine it to be. There’s the hotdog man in his rolling stall with the children around him; there’s the flowershop with tulips and carnations and chrysanthemums in full bloom; there’s the playground right smack in the center where everyone gravitates, and … oooh! in the corner! Look at that! It’s a little new shoppe!
If you’ve been around to my uber-amazing friend Jessica’s blog or to our wonderful Spraground homepage, you probably already know that we have our very own little shoppe on our Spraground! Woohoo! If you haven’t heard about it, come, run skip and jump right over HERE and consider yourself our very special guest!
Jes and I have been so excited working on sharing our creations with our uber-loved friends! For the record, I will state (again) how awesome a friend Jes is, and how grateful I am to her, and how awed I am by her uncanny ability to pluck a dream of mine from the sky, a dream I didn’t even know I had, and put it in my hands. What a girl. A-W-E-S-O-M-E.
And of course, nothing could come out from the most awesome digi goddess than the best stuff, right? Have you seen Jessica’s templates? They’re all to-die for! These templates are the most amazing, most wonderful things to work with because not only do we get to use Jessica’s stellar designs but… listen to this… her templates aren’t just templates, they’re Templates PLUS!
What this means is when you get Jessica’s templates, what you’re getting is really much much more than just a template. You get a lot of goodies as well that come with it. Goodies that you can use over and over again on different layouts! How awesome is that? So buying a template from Jes is like getting a template and a host of element packs as well, all with the mark of excellence of Jessica’s great design and creativity and genius! Does it get any better than that? 😉
Here’s a preview of one of her awesome single-page templates:
When you open up this template, you’ll see that you get not only the template design but every part that you see on the template, including the circle embellishment, the frame, and the torn paper effect! Now that’s a huge PLUS, right?
And here’s an example of one of her terrific double-page templates:
Yummy! Don’t you just love this?
Oh, and have I mentioned that Jes included a tutorial on her blog last week, together with a free template and video tutorial on how to use them? Her blog tutorial tells you how to take the items from the template and separate them into their own files so that you can find them easily and use them later on your layouts without having to go find them in your templates? Awesome, isn’t it?
Candice, photographer *and* creative woman extraordinaire, is also selling projects at the shoppe. Have you seen her Valentine Garland? It’s awesome!
And little old me… I create kits and all the other bits and pieces. 😆
Here’s the latest kit that I’ve got up in the shoppe:
My absolute favorite thing to make is papers… so I’ve got a coordinating paper pack that goes with the kit (papers in this pack are different from the ones that come with the kit):
And here’s the latest bit-and-piece I’ve uploaded:
One of the things I love about this country I live in is the fact that textures abound everywhere! I can step out of my front door and find literally hundreds of texture sources! (This, by the way, is how I justify to my DH the need to bring my camera with me everywhere I go. heehee 😆 )
And because you know I love ya…
Here’s a freebie for you!
This one is a complement of the textures pack that I have in the shoppe. What you’ll get here are three photo texture plates, ready to use because they’re sized at approximately 5.5 x 7.5 inches. All you need to do is pull the texture plate onto a layer above your photo and then play with its blending modes and opacity levels. Try duplicating the texture, combining different textures, applying different blending modes, etc etc etc. The thing about textures is that they’re great toys to play with, and there are absolutely no limits to the amount of playing you can do with them!
Here are some examples of the freebies at work:
(You can click on the images if you want a closer look)
CREDITS: photo by bjearwicke @ stock.xchng
CREDITS: photo by lusi @ stock.xchng
CREDITS: photo by jaquesi @ stock.xchng
Do you want to play with textures too? Here ya go!
Click on the image to download.
Thanks for the love you leave on my blog as you download… and if you haven’t paid a visit to our shop yet, do drop by and have a look around, and pass by the general forum as well and say hello!
Phew! That’s all for today, folks! More updates tomorrow! Gotta get back to the saltmines! 🙂
((((hugs)))) to you!
PS. Want free tuition to a really awesome photo-editing course?
Head on over to my dear friend Jessica’s blog and find out how you can win! 😉