Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 goals

Every year I have made a list of goals for the coming year. Kind of like resolutions but a bit broader and in theory easier to keep. For the past couple of years they have pretty much been the same and by April I forget about them until I find the list again in September and restart my efforts. Some I have kept and continue to work on, and this year I am digging out the list again, starting with a fresh approach and a drive to really work on these goals. There are 15 in all...I know seems like alot, but remember these are goals and many of them go hand in hand but it is just easier to break them out and list them seperately. Some are personal, some need to evolve, some need some work, but I think with a little accountability I can accomplish them all for a wonderful 2011 and many more years to come.


2011 Goals (in no particular order)
Loose and keep off the weight
Turn the house into a home
Get organized
Keep a clean(er) house
Get rid of clutter
Continue to pay off debt (goal to be debt free by 2/2013)
Focus on Family
Enjoy every day
be a better mom and wife
breathe...don't yell
be happy with me
let it go....relax!
step away from the drama
Scrapbook more....100 layouts
Complete Project 365 (finally)

See...not too bad. So, why am I sharing this with you? Well, my blog will serve as my accountability for these goals. No, I won't share everything with you but I will share my progress on projects (the long, long list is another post), tips on organization, getting rid of clutter and digging out of debt, scrapbooking and other paper crafting projects and Project 365 (which I have started the past 2 years and don't make it past day 5). Oh, and I can't forget everyday little ramblings and family updates...right? Things won't change too much around here except maybe a little more variety, a little more frequency, hopefully alot more scrapbooking and projects around the home. I have tried schedules, themes, etc., but I just can't stick to them, so now I will post what I can, when I can and try to keep things interesting.

Some of you have been with me from the beginning and I thank you...some of you are new, and I thank you too...but what brought you to my blog and why do you stay? I would love to know what keeps you interested, and what will keep you around for 2011. Please take a moment to leave me a comment and let me know what you like, why you are here, and what you would like to see more of.

The long list of projects to be completed in 2011, my Master To Do List if you will, is coming soon.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

a season of enjoyment

Here I sit 2 days before 2011, 5 days after Christmas and realized that I have not shared one blog post about Christmas yet.  Well I will keep this short and sweet. 

It was a good one, actually one of the best in my book.  In fact, all of December was enjoyable.  I didn't stress, I didn't have a melt down, I wasn't up until 4 am Christmas morning (I was actually in bed by 10 pm), I didn't panic, I didn't go over budget, and I didn't expect perfection. 

What did I do?  I embraced the season, I enjoyed celebrating old traditions with my family and created new ones.  I did what I could do and let go of what I could not.  I stuck to my budget.  I did things little by little.  I accepted imperfections and made due with what I had.  I made the time to be, just be.  I loved every minute of December.

Did I accomplish everything I wrote on my To Do List for the month?  Nope.  But you know what?  That is ok with me.

With the year closing out quickly, I feel that my attitude this past month has put me in the right frame of mind for a new year, a new start.  Stay tuned, I will be sharing my 2011 Goals and Project List shortly.  I hope you will continue on the journey with me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CTMH product spotlight blog hop featuring sparkles & pearls

Welcome to this month's blog hop featuring sparkles and pearls.  CTMH has such a wonderful line of embellishments including 4 choices for sparkles and 3 for pearls.  I just love how these products add a little extra shimmer to a page or the finishing touch to a card.

Today, I want to share a card with you.  It uses the Clear Sparkles ($2.95) which I use all. the. time.  I have just started playing with the pearls and I can say that I am in love with them too...unfortuneatly, the project I am using them on isn't quite in the sharing stages just yet.

Don't those two little sparkles just add a little extra something to the card?  yeah, they do.

I also used the Red, Pink & Purple sparkle pack on my little elf cards that I showed last month.  If you want a second peak, click here.

If you arrived here from Luisa then you are on the right track. If this is your first stop, welcome, next stop is Wendy...so pop on over to see what she has to share.

{Happy Birthday Card}
Clear Sparkles Z1104
Stamp Set: With Love D1284
CS: Crystal Blue, Hollyhock, White Daisy
Ink:  Crystal Blue, Hollyhock, Black, Sweet Leaf
Other:  Just Blooms Summer Poises (ret), DP (unknown), ric rac (from Walmart)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

waiting, waiting, waiting and a name change

Shipping things stinks.  In today's modern world..ie., air travel, why oh why do things get shipped all the way across the country via truck...really?  Can't the truck just pick it up at the airport and skip all the waiting in between?  Don't they know that there just might be a very inpatient scrapbooker on the other end waiting for her goodies to arrive?   Not that I have any proof that it didn't actually go by air, but my goodies have been "on their way" since 11/24 and I don't like to wait!

I have been following along with all the wonderfully creative scrapbookers in blog land that are working on their JYC and DDs (Journal Your Christmas & December Daily).  I had been hoping to start mine before December to be ready for the prompts but grrrr...shipping.  I have been working on my journaling and have my photos...I just need my schtuff to get it all put together...it will be a happy crafty weekend here.  I hope to have some pages to share real soon (we might need to play a little catch up).

**********************************************************************************

If you noticed my header (you did right?) I have decided to change my blog name.   When I first started this blog it was solely to share my crafty creations.  I have since evolved, or at least my blog has, and "Cut it out!" (which by the way was not my idea in the first place, but for lack of a better name, I chose it) just didn't seem to fit where I wanted to go with my blog.  So "Mama Olie's Musings" was born.  Olie is a play on my last name.  My husband's nickname is Olie, J is lil Olie and so I am properly dubbed...Mama Olie.  "Musings", well, not a word I use in normal conversation...but hey, it is what it is....a whole bunch of nothing and a little of something (or vice versa), I thought "musings" covered it all.  The subtitle just sums it up..."reflections on life, loves (scrapbooking, cooking, decorating...you name it) and little lessons.  I hope you will continue along on my journey...there is so much in store.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

reclaiming the magic

I have decided that this year I am taking back my December, taking back Christmas and putting the magic back into this holiday season.  I have looked back on past years and realized that while I had always intended to slow down and enjoy the season, I didn't and found myself stressed out, burned out and ready for January to arrive.  Not. This. Year.

K & J are getting bigger every day and while I know for a fact that J still believes, I have reason to believe that K might be catching on to the whole Santa thing.  While I know it is an inevitable fact of growing up, as  a parent I can do my best to keep the magic alive and the excitement in the air.  Yes, I do know that Christmas is not about Santa, but it is a big part of it when you are a kid. 

Me being a bundle of stress and rushing through each day during the holiday season doesn't help my agenda, so I am stepping back.  It helps that most of my shopping is done, a goal I have been striving towards for years now and can finally say I have accomplished...I just need to pick up a few things here and there while I am out.  Taking the rushing around to find the "perfect gift" out of the equation will allow me to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and what I want Christmas to be all about.  My focus this year is not on the commercialism but is on my family and building memories and traditions to last a life time.

I have added in a few special activities to the agenda this year and I will be blogging about them as they happen.  I have also decided that I am going to do a Christmas journal this year to help keep me focused on what really matters...family, friends, traditions and the spirit of the season.  I will be doing a combination of Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas and Ali Edward's December Daily for inspiration and ideas.  Not only am I hoping that this keeps me focused but it will allow me to document our traditions and enjoy the excitement of the season while the kids are still young (enough) for years to come.  It will also enable me to get back into my craft room and start scrapping again, a favorite thing of mine that I have let take a back seat for far too long.   

I will be sharing my pages on a regular basis.  I invite you to stop by often and take a peak.  As for today, December 1st, I leave you with this, as it sums up everything I want to say perfectly:

Monday, November 15, 2010

CTMH Spotlight Blog Hop featuring Christmas Stamp Sets

Hello and welcome to this month's CTMH Product Spotlight Blog Hop.  With Christmas right around the corner...is it really just under 6 weeks???...November seemed to be an appropriate time to highlight Christmas stamps.

Today you will be treated to artwork and inspiration from 17 talented women.  If you came from Wendy's blog you are on the right track.  If this is your first stop, keep on going...the hop goes full circle. 

I am happy to share 4 cards with you today!  It is so easy to create using these great stamp sets...they are just so much fun.  You will notice too that the paper is all the same, I just changed up the image and layout and tada! there you have 4 unique cards with little effort at all.  Unfortuneatly the paper is a retired Creative Basics pack...but...any of these cards would like adorable using our current Creative Basics Mistletoe Collection.

The first set of cards uses the great little elves from Merry Pursuits (B1313):



aren't these little guys so stinkin' cute?


The next card features All Decked Out (D1308) and the sentiment from Snow Friends (D1244):

Thanks for stopping by.  Your next stop is Tamytha...please go check out what she has to share this month and don't forget to let me know you stopped by!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

in honor and with thanks


to all of our veterans, wherever you may be.
to all who have served,
to all who serve,
and to all who will serve.

thank you.

as simple as it may seem

thank you for your service
thank you for your sacrifice
thank you for our freedom

thank you.




one down but just the beginning

I must admit that I am among the statistics.  One of the countless Americans who have dug themselves into debt with really nothing to show for it.  Thankfully, we can afford to pay our bills each month, but it is just so sad to look at the amount of money I am throwing at paying off credit card balances.  Money that bought things that we once had to have and now, I can't even remember what it was.  There are so many things that I want to do with my home right now (the dream list) that need to wait until those nasty cards can be paid off.  I won't make the same mistake though.  The remodeled bath, kitchen, finished basement, new siding, deck, etc. etc.  will be paid for in cash...when it is free'd up from the outstanding debt of 12 Christmases, birthdays (you name it), past.

Tomorrow, when the banks open, the last payment for the first card will post.  Personally, I am doing a little happy dance.  One down, six (yes six) to go.  There is an end in sight.  Some will take a few months to pay off, a few will take about a year.  I have a plan and it is working.  I am seeing results and I am feeling good.  We don't use credit cards anymore.  If we can't pay for it out of pocket...we don't buy it.  

It doesn't matter how you got there, it matters how you get back.  Back to financial freedom.  What works for one person, might not work for another.  In my search for the best way to get out of debt, I have read many stories of people who have sold everything, lived in a trailor, small apartment, parent's house, etc., took 3 extra jobs, lived on hand me down clothes, no heat, bargain groceries, the list goes on and on.  While I applaud their efforts and am amazed at the results,  that is not me. That is not my family.  I need to do what works for us.

Awhile back I posted my themes for each day.  I haven't really stuck to them, I have tried, but life comes first.  I had intended for Thursdays to be thrifty thursdays.  My intention was (and still is) to post my thrift store remakes, how I used what I have, bargains I scored, etc.  That will still happen, but, I also want to share with you my plan for getting out of debt, living within your means, and still being able to have and enjoy things. 

This isn't financial boot camp and I am by no means an expert.  Sure, we could get out of debt faster if we went down to one car, I went back to work, we went to basic cable, dial up, etc.  But we are not willing to do that, this is our life, this is how we live, and I want it to be comfortable as I pay (literally) for past mistakes and bad financial decisions.   I will share with you what works for me, for our family, through trial and error and what will get us to debt free by February 2013. 

I will tell you that we owe somewhere between $20k and $80K...the numbers are not important, but I just want you to know that we do have a good deal of debt, not an easy peasy payoff amount. 

So I hope you come back each Thursday for my financial tidbits...real life solutions to a real life problem.  If I can help just one person out of the same situation...my job will be done.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

I realize it is November 2nd.  I have never been very timely, so 2 days after the fact is really quite an accomplishment for me.

Here is a recap of Halloween 2010:

the pumpkins. 
JT has had his face painted differently everyday this week.



the food. 
each year I attempt to make a ghoulish dinner.  this year...sloppy joe goblins and wormy fries.

love how the jack-o-lanterns look all lit up.  The white pumpkins are my attempt at getting all Martha Stewart, although for some reason the hubby volunteered to drill the holes...I don't think he wanted me touching his power tools.  Doesn't matter....I think they look fabulous!


The kids. 
I claim the hippie and the pumpkin lord.  The hippe costume looked better without the sweatshirt, but it was so dang cold.  The pumpkin lord...well, who knows where that came from.  It has a very elaborate back story...just ask JT.  This was not his original costume, we started the season as Mutt from Indiana Jones, evolved into Stripe the evil gremlin and ended on Halloween as the pumpkin lord...go figure.


 the graveyard. 
Hubby puts it up, I for some reason get stuck taking it down : ( ...ps...it is still up.


the entryway decor


my little hutch in the mudroom.  love the white plate.  hunted everywhere  for the perfect one and found this one at Goodwill for $1.50...the vinyl is from Shelley at Wonderfully Wordy.  The hutch is in need of a makeover (ie., paint job) it is on the long, long list.


one of my favorite displays every year...added the skulls in the vase idea this year.  The idea is all over blog land.  everyone "stole" it from pottery barn.  and...like everyone else, I didn't pay $16 for 6 skulls (or whatever ridiculously crazy amount PB wanted).  I paid $1 for a bag of skulls at Dollar Tree, brushed them with some brown acrylic paint I had on hand, added them to vase I had collecting dust stored in the basement and added some $1 floral moss from Dollar Tree.  The skull came with the husband when I married him.  Or should I say, was part of his Halloween decor...and I love it.  The books, well, I think Harry Potter is so Halloween!


This little piece is new this year too.  I love it.  The vinyl is from Shelley at Wonderfully Wordy.  I picked up a black frame at Walmart for $5 and wah-la...instant trendiness...oh, how I will miss this.  Maybe she will come up with a Christmas/Winter one...hint.  hint.


That is it...off to tackle my huge to do list, so I can start on some fabulous projects I have up my sleeve. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday with my Friends

Oh it has been so long since I have had the chance to play with my paper and stamps!  I have been itching to get into my craft room, but time and a long list of projects kept getting in the way.  I was able to find an excuse to clean clear off a space to create this week though.  Football and field hockey seasons are coming to an end this week for the kiddos.  I was in charge of taking up a collection for the field hockey coaches and figured what a perfect excuse to make a card...who wants a store bought one anyway. 


So I whipped up this thank you card (twice!) to present with the gifts from the players:

The cute little birdie stamp is from the Unity October KOM, DP is Cosmo Cricket, CS and ink is Close to My Heart, and the design is based on Mojo Monday 162 (which I am linking to also).

Be sure to visit Unity's blog to check out all of the FWF blogs today (the list will be up by 9am CT).  Be sure to visit each one in order to find the hidden blinkie.  If you find it...leave a comment for your chance to win some Unity goodness...and while you are at it, I would love to hear from you too!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

an 8 year olds perspective on marriage

I have some of the best conversations with my children.  They have changed over the years from them asking me "why?" to now me asking them "why?' (or silently smacking my brain around trying to figure out their reasoning).

My conversations with K are usually intellectual and she actually educates me on the wonders of the world. She is one smart, creative & talented cookie and that head is just busting with knowledge. I do have to say that every now and then she pops up with something I wasn't ever expecting...like asking me the other day if 5th grade is too young to date (yikes).  We worked through that one together and it was a special mother daughter converation that I hope she feels comfortable to have again with me.

My conversations with J are normally very entertaining.  Don't get me wrong, he too educates me by sharing tidbits he has learned in school, or about the zillion different lego characters ( he knows them all as we have graduated from Thomas the Tank Engine trivia).  But that kid's mind is unique, purposeful and extremely imaginative.  Some of the things he comes out with, you need to just stop and wonder how he ever drew that conclusion (and sometimes what myself and Mr. Olie are teaching him). 

This morning before school we were having a conversation about Dick and Rick Hoyt.  They are an incredibly inspirational father and son team.  I couldn't do justice to their story so if you haven't ever heard of them, please take the moment to visit their website and read their story...just have a box of tissues ready. 

They Hoyts are local.  As a child I knew who they were. My husband was in high school at the same time Rick was.  Mr. Hoyt was a member of the same Air National Guard unit my father worked for.  I had the privelege of experiencing their story, witnessing their story.  I also had the privelege of working with Mr. Hoyt when I became a member of that same unit, he is an incredible person.

Two years ago we were sitting as a family watching Epcot's The American Experience at Disney and lo and behold the Hoyts went running by in the film.  My husband and I just looked at each other, mouths open...I guess I live a sheltered life, I didn't know they were THAT famous.  This lead to a wonderful conversation with the kids about the Hoyts. A little internet research and a few YouTube videos later, my children had a wonderful appreciation for this family.

Fast forward to this morning. 

J - "hey mom, you know that really cool man that runs everywhere pushing his son in a wheelchair?"

Me - "yes, the Hoyts?"

J - "yes.  Mrs. P (his teacher) knows them because she used to work with his wife at Kamp for Kids (a local camp for children with disabilities) when she was in college."

Me - "really?  Did she talk about them in class?"

J - "yep.  She also had a picture of him.  I can see why he is married."

Me - "I know JT, he is a very nice man, but why did a picture show you that?"  (ok, racking my brain...trying to figure out his logic)

J - "Well, he might be nice, but he is married because man his abs are ripped".

Note to self....never try to figure out his logic.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I Wore on this Weight Watchers Wednesday

ok, so I am back with WW Wednesdays and have decided to pair it with What I Wore Wednesday hosted by Lindsey over at the Pleated Poppy.  She decided to put a little effort into what she wore each day and created a linky party so other women could do the same and share what they wear each day.  I have to say some of those women are super cute and have some wonderful fashion sense (I on the other hand...don't).

A few weeks ago I blogged about how I have been stalking this series each Wednesday and really wanted to join but viewing the pics of me just wasn't something that I could endure.

Well,  I am still not too sure I can endure the pics, but hey, my Wednesday posts are supposed to be about my weight loss struggle journey and I guess there is no better way to document it than in pictures.

So, this week, I only have 2 pics to share, but promise to do better next week.  I must apologize for the pics themselves and the sheer ugliness of the bathroom that they were taken in.   I realized that I only have 3 mirrors that i can take pictures in front of in my home and no full length mirrors...guess I should get on that one.  This mirror has the best lighting.   So ugly wall paper in the bathroom that is patiently waiting for a full gutting and remodel aside, it is where I will be taking the pics (unless I can figure out the tripod thingy).

Tuesday - home & football practice at night
shirt & sweater - Kohl's (last year)
jeans - nine & co
muffin top - courtesy of 2 kids...but will be gone soon (I hope)



Wednesday - home & football practice at night
Argyle top - dress barn
Black layering tee - Kohl's
Jeans - Ruff hewn

On the WW end of things, I am happy to say that finally, after months of going up .2, .4, etc. etc. I have lost weight.  I lost 1.8lbs and have vowed to make that just the beginning.  I came home from my meeting on Saturday and packed a picnic lunch for the whole family to eat after JT's football game...instead of stopping on the way home at a resturaunt.  I have also had dinner on the table each night, tracked all my points, not eaten everyone else's leftovers, and made the yummiest White Bean & Sausage Soup with escarole yesterday for lunch (and about to heat up leftovers soon).  The running hasn't been as dedicated.  I told myself that I would wake up at 5am M,W,F and run...well, so far it has been raining, and I refuse to run in the rain. So, maybe Friday...we will see.

Whatever the scale shows Saturday, all I can say is I had a good week and I feel great.

Tracy

Friday, October 1, 2010

Life these days....

is a little bit crazy and a whole lot of hectic all wrapped into one pretty little package.

I guess when you have one of these




and one of these


that is the way it is.

But, I wouldn't want it any other way. 

I wouldn't want to not make a last minute lunch for my child who loves pizza day, but changed her mind last minute for fear of going hungry because the green beans look like mush and the salad is wet and contains some substance that is well, not food (her words).

I wouldn't want to not help my child wash with baby wipes in the car as the bus is pulling up to the bus stop because eventhough he showered and apparently applied deoderant his smell wasn't quite right this morning.

I wouldn't want to not load up 4 kids into the car and drive over to the school in the pouring rain because my child forget her instrument, despite warning her that morning to not forget it because I wouldn't bring it in.

I wouldn't want to not have to count to a bajillion each and every time I sat down with my child to do his homework because even before he looks at it the tears start and he just doesn't get it...eventhough once we get started (25 minutes later) he is doing it just fine.

I wouldn't want to not have to do the countless other things that come with being me; being a mom to 2 wonderful children; being a wife to an amazing man who puts in long hours so I have the opportunity to stay home and care for our home and children. 

I want to do these things because it makes them happy, it makes me happy and I love the life I am in right now.

I want to do these things because that is the kind of mom I am and I am darn proud to be.

Happy October 1st!

Tracy

PS...Melissa over at the inspired room is joining a few other bloggers for 31 days of inspiration on a few different subjects (decorating, doing more with less, cleaning/organization, photography, etc.).  I will be following along each day with them to make my home more inviting, my life more fulfilling and hopefully my photography more appealing.  Stay tuned as I will post about my 31 day journey of embracing and finding peace in my life and my home in 31 days.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Weight Watchers Wednesday...and fashion (or lack of it)

Ok, so this isn't really a post on weight loss, well maybe it is.

Last week during my obsession with reading blogs I happened upon (again) Lyndsey at the Pleated Poppy.  Besides having a cute store and fabulous blog she does a great linky party on Wednesday's titled What I Wore Wednesday.  The whole concept started when she decided to take a little more pride in her appearance and put a little more effort in her wardrobe choices each day.  She posts pictures of herself each day during the week and indicates where the clothing came from (which is great btw....guess I need to check out Target more often!)  Then other people link up and do the same thing.

Ok, bear with me...this does have something to do with Weight Watchers Wednesday, promise.

So, being the ultra unfashionable person that I am (I won't buy new clothes because I don't want to be at this weight) I thought this would be a great opportunity to start taking pictures and posting them to show a transformation in myself...until I took the first picture.  I happened to be wearing a super cute top and a pair of jean shorts (to the knee).  I felt great in the outfit and super cute...until I took the picture.  Holy Moly!  Who the heck is the fat chick and why is she in my picture?????  Honest, the top is super cute, just not on me!

I know I haven't been following WW perfectly (ok, not at all) and I have slacked on my running a bit (no time and too hot...yes excuses, but it is what it is) but my goodness I didn't think I blew up that fast.

So, I know what I want to wear, I feel my style and it is calling my name.  I have poured over catalogues, cut out pictures, dog eared, tagged and circled magazines...checked out some of the super cute moms on Lyndsey's hop and now...well, let's just say that if those styles even came in my size, I wouldn't dare wear them, because it just wouldn't be fair to the clothes!

So, I am on a mission, I have a goal...I want to join the linky party!  I want to shop for new clothes (before the Spring line is in and the Fall/winter line is out).  So this past Saturday was a new weigh in, a starting over point (I did say the school year would bring about a new me).  Wish me luck and I will faithfully update my progress.  yeah, I know I think I have made similar statements before but I never had a picture staring me in the face of what I really look like...I am scared, sad, embarrassed, ashamed...alll the above...but I am ready to change.  There is a skinny chick inside me screaming to get out and I need to quit shutting her up with cookies.

Tracy

Friday, September 3, 2010

What I have learned

The kids went back to school this week and I had grand plans to get my house in order.  I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish each day.  I spent all day Monday cleaning and got a whole bunch of laundry put away, my bedroom in liveable shape (it was the laundry dumping ground) and J's room almost cleaned...that took almost 4 hours in itself!  Then, well, nothing.  I had great intentions and I did cross off a few things, but nothing that made a dent in what I wanted to get done, just the normal everyday tasks (like bill paying).  Why?  Well here is what I learned:

I spend way too much time engrossed in other people's lives via the wonderful world of blogging.

I am addicted...seriously. 

I have wonderful intentions of just checking in on the few (well handful) of blogs that I love,  but then, when they have linky parties I have to check out the other blogs and before you know it I have 100 windows open and I am totally engrossed.  drawn in. obsessed.  HELP!

I do have to admit though that there are some amazing women out there!  Some are great moms, great people, fabulous decoraters, survivors, crafty goddesses and some super stylish dressers...the list goes on and on.  I do have a purpose in all this obsessiveness.  I am trying very hard to make my house a home, to find my style, and to do it on a very small budget.  That is where the land of blogs is great...I have found so many wonderful ideas and can't wait to try them out....when I can actually get off the computer and focus on what I set out to do.

What else have I learned?

I am not alone, there are many other women out there just like me.  I know because there are at least 4 blogs I read on a daily basis that are written as if I am sharing my thoughts, views, stories and craziness.

Eventhough sometimes I don't think so, I am a good mom.  There are many of the moms in the blogging world that I look up to that have the same views, theories and challenges that I face and they deal with them in quite the same way I do.  Plus as I write this post, I have my snugglebug cuddled up beside me in my bed.

I can't decorate to save my life (but I can copy other people, so I think that is a start)

Spray paint can fix anything

That I seriously lack fashion sense (I will get into that on Wednesday's post)

That I am not the only crazy, over extended, do too much, don't have enough time for my kids mom out there....and I am also not the only one who is trying to change that (it is all in the attitude my friend!)

That I am unique, I am special, I can make a difference and I need to find and be me.

That there is an amazing support structure of women around the world that I can connect to from my own home, who I have never met, but through their stories and adventures I can feel as if I have known them my entire life.

That I spend too much time reading blogs about what I want to do than doing it.  I can't say I will change that, but I do need to control it....starting Tuesday, I am taking the weekend to just be with my family and enjoy a semi free weekend together.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Tracy

Monday, August 30, 2010

firsts and a wnner

today was the first day of school (only snapped one pic...the kiddos were NOT cooperating)

it was also the first day since early June that I have been alone in the house for more than 1 hour (I soaked in the peace and cleaned my heart out!)

it was the first day of my new exercise/diet plan (got up early & ran, stayed on plan)

the first day of my Operation Organize plan (in the purge phase...but folded 300 & put away about 300 loads of laundry, filled up 2 trash bags in JT room, and scoured the upstairs bath)

the first day of my Operation Make My House a Home plan (cleaning & purging...but as I was doing that I got tons of crafty, creative, DIY remolding ideas...)

it was the first day of our new schedule (the kids don't like it, but I do...it will grow on them)

it was a new beginning (when my plan is full force life will be simpler, less hectic, calmer, filled with more me time, etc. etc...just good)

more to come....

and....we have a winner from my GIU week last week. Congratulations Kristi of Kristi's Paper Creations. You won yourself some Unity goodness.  Please email me or leave a comment with your email address so we can get your stamps in the mail.

Tracy

Friday, August 27, 2010

Growing in Unity Day 5 on FWF Friday

Hey there ~

I cannot believe today is the end of my GIU week.  I have had so much fun creating and sharing.  I couldn't think of a better way than Friends with Flair Friday to end the week.   But just because my GIU week is over, I do hope you will come visit me again!  I can't promise crafty inspiration every day...but I can promise a little bit of this...and a little bit of that with some crafty inspiration sprinkled in here and there.

I wanted to thank you all for the sweet comments you have left all week long on my blog...reading them has made me smile a little brighter each and every day.  I also wanted to thank you all for your comments yesterday...it is so true, experiences like that just restore your faith in all that is good.

That being said, today I have a little wickedness going on...but the fun kind!  When I was going through my stamps I put my finger on one of my very first Unity stamps (actually I think it was my first) and it is still by far one of my favorites.  I know it is only August...but I just had to play with this Halloween sentiment now (plus the paper just happened to be sitting on top of my desk)!  Fall is my favorite season and I love everything that falls within that time.


Thank you again for sharing my Growing in Unity week with me.  I hope I was able to spark a bit of inspiration.  Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win Unity stamps.  I will be selected a random winner on Sunday.  And...since today is FWF you will have even more chances to win Unity goodness.  Hop on over to the Unity Blog and be sure to visit each of the FWF participants.  Someone has the mystery blinkie....find it and leave a comment for your chance to win!  Don't ya just love Unity???

Happy crafting,

Tracy

Sketch is based on Mercy's Tuesday Sketch Challenge #88 and I am linking up there as well.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A stranger's generosity and Growing in Unity Day 4

Today is day 4 of growing in Unity!  I have a card to share, but first a little story.  One that truly makes you step back and take a look at your life, be thankful for what you have, and give that little extra each and every day to be kind and loving to those around you.  This isn't a sad story...although I will tell you that when it happened to us, it made me cry.  I wasn't crying tears of sadness, but because of how this one stranger was so thoughtful, kind, selfless and how it touched my heart so very much.

Last night my family and I attended a Dine to Donate event at our local Applebee's to raise funds for the youth football program in town, that my son is a member of.  I figured the place would be mobbed (which it was) and that the wait would be long (which it was) and since Kelsey & I had hair appointments at 8:00 I asked Bob to go right from work and put our names in.  The kids and I were at football practice and planned on meeting him as soon as practice was let out.  

There was already a wait when Bob arrived so he put our names on the list and sat down at the bar.  Now he was coming right from work so he was still in uniform.  He sat down next to another man and as guys do over a beer they started talking.  Not about anything in particular.  The gentleman asked him why he was in uniform (which he explained as I did above) and about his family.  No biggie.  In the meantime we arrived, our table was called and Bob ended his conversation with the man. 

During dinner we were approached by a waitress (or could have been the manager, bartender...not sure) who handed Bob a gift card and told him it was from the gentleman at the bar.  He had already left and didn't want his name revealed, nor any thanks.  He just wanted to thank Bob for his service and their conversation and wanted our family to enjoy dinner on him (this is where I started crying...right there in a packed restaurant).   Let's just say that this man was very generous and his gift paid for our meal and drinks.  Since the woman that presented the gift card knew this gentleman personally, we did ask that she thank him profusely and to please make sure he knew how grateful we were for his kindness. We have gone several places with Bob in uniform before and this has never happened to us as a family (he had a similar experience in Wisconsin a few weeks ago on a military trip), not that I would ever expect it to.

I am still without words.  People in this world can be so mean, and this one man, with his act of kindness put many things in perspective for me and allowed me to teach my children a very valuable lesson in kindness and generosity.

I wish we could thank him, but since I don't really know how I could I will pay it forward at the right time.

In honor of his kindness and beautiful spirit, I created this card for GIU Day 4...enjoy!



Images are from Bevy of Butterflies and the design is from Mojo Monday (#153).  Don't forget to leave me some bloggy love for your chance to win some Unity goodness.  I will pick the winner on Sunday.

Please take the time today to go out and do something kind for someone,

Tracy

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Growing in Unity Day 3...Unity Addicts Challenge

Wow!  Day #3 of GIU already!  I am having such a great time.  Today, I pulled a card out from the archives.  I have had such a great time creating but when I found out the Unity Addicts challenge was black & white with a pop of color I knew I already had the most perfect card for that! 


I used one of the beautiful lamp shade images from Shine On! This is one of my favorite Unity sets for it's elegance and simplicity.  I just happened to have the perfect coordinating DP and my "pop" of color is a ribbon I salvaged from a chocolate Easter Bunny package this past Easter (I am thrifty like that!)

If you are just joining me today go back and check out my GIU posts for Monday and Tuesday and be sure to leave me some love for your chance to win some Unity goodness at the end of the week.  I will be posting Thursday and Friday also so come back to see what else I have to hopefully inspire you to go create!

Happy Crafting,

Tracy

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Growing in Unity Day 2...Just in Time for Back to School

We are preparing to head back to school here very shortly.  The kids will start on Monday and I can't believe how this summer has flown by.  I love having my kiddos home with me every day, but I also crave the routines and schedules that Fall brings (even though ours is a bit hectic and crazy).  I have plenty of projects planned (starting with reclaiming my house!) to fill up my time while they are at school but until then I am soaking up every spare minute I can with my two loves.

Today is GIU Day #2 and I created a card appropriate for back to school.  There are so many uses...notes to the teacher, welcome to school (I hope you survive my child...), thank you for all you do...etc. etc. I actually think I might make a few of these to have on hand when the need arises.  



I used the May 2009 KOM (journaling border design), Aug 2009 KOM (school house) and May 2010 KOM (letters). DP is October Afternoon Cherry Hill Collection, Cardstock, the little ruler & Ink is CTMH, button and ribbon is from my stash.


Don't forget to stop back again tomorrow for Day #3 and every day until Friday!  Leave me some love on each of my GIU posts and you will have the chance to win some Unity goodness all for yourself.  I will pull a random winner this weekend.  Don't forget to check out all of Unity's great products on the Unity website and all of the fun over on the Unity Blog!

happy crafting -

Tracy

Monday, August 23, 2010

Growing in Unity Day 1

Woohoo! It is my great honor to host Growing in Unity this week!  A whole week to showcase Unity Stamp Co. on my little ole' blog and a chance for you to win some wonderful Unity of your very own.  All you need to do is leave a comment each day on my GIU posts and at the end of the week I will draw one lucky winner to receive some Unity goodness just for stopping by!

So who is Unity Stamp Co.?  They are this wonderful stamp company that I fell in love with almost 2 years ago.  Their stamps are unmounted red rubber and their kit of the month is a fabulous deal in itself!  But the people...the Unity peeps and online commmunity are what make this company shine.  I hope my little glimpse of Unity this week will make you fall in love too!  Hop on over to their website to check out their products and their blog to meet the Unity peeps.

Enough of my ramblings...here is my first GIU card for you.  The owls are from the June Kit of the Month and the sentiment is from the March Kit of the Month.


I love how this card came out...it is so fun!  But you know how the camera adds 10 pounds?  Well apparently it isn't very forgiving on marker lines either...LOL!  If anyone has tips on how to make sure your color blends without leaving lines, dots, swirls or other odd brush marks, as I have this issue with it, I would appreciate you sharing! 

Don't forget to come back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next to check out some more Unity goodness and leave me some love for you chance to win some Unity at the end of the week!

happy crafting,
Tracy

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

makeover monday - "the list"

ok, I know it is Tuesday but I can explain the tardiness very easily...my kids are still home for the summer.  If you are a mom with school age children you know what that means...routines don't exist (not for lack of trying) and no matter how great your plan is to accomplish things...they usually don't get done on time (or at all).

Don't get me wrong, I love my kiddos and I love having them home for the summer, but I also love my routine and some structure. Come the end of June to the end of August that structure is thrown out the window and I have come to accept that my routines and to do lists get put on hold. 

As summer is winding down I am trying to cram in every last second of fun with the kids but am also looking forward to getting to work on this house.  So I came up with a plan of action on how I am going to finally make this home something that I am proud of.  A place we can all enjoy as a family.  A place we can call home.

Enter "the list".  I sat down the other day during a brief break in the action and brainstormed everything that I needed to accomplish.  I went room by room and focused on the things that I could do myself, or at least learn to do myself.  I also made a short list of things that I would need to hire a handyman or professional (plumber, electrician) for.  My list filled both sides of a sheet of lined legal size paper...yikes! 

Now I am not talking major overhauls here.  No gutting of kitchens/baths/basements.  This is all cosmetic details (painting, decorating, etc) and minor changes (like replacing the bathroom countertop/sink).  While I would love a brand spanking new kitchen, second floor bathroom, finished basement, siding on the house, front porch, etc.  I realize that those items are beyond my scope right now.  Although I will add that all of those things are on the list for the future wish list and will be done we get ourselves out of debt and can pay cash for a professional to do those jobs for us.  Right now, I am focusing on working with what we have or what is realitively inexpensive that I can learn to do.

After making the list (and taking several deep breaths as I realized how much work I really do have ahead of me), I tried to figure out what I needed to do to start putting my plan into action.  Once the kids go back to school I will have most of my day on Mondays free to work on projects and some time during the rest of the week.  I decided to take the next few weeks to catch up on laundry, putting things away, filing, etc.  Generally taking care of the little things that will eat away at me and distract me from doing what I really want to do. 

I have been stalking checking out a lot of blogs and adding great idea to my inspiraton folder.  I am pretty excited to get started.  I will use Mondays (and sporatic postings throughout the week) starting on August 30th to update you all on what I am working on and what I have accomplished.  I can give you a few things to watch for though that made the list:  refinish/paint staircase, redo master bedroom, spruce up interior doors, paint kitchen and more.

Stay tuned -

Tracy

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CTMH August Spotlight Bloghop

Hello and welcome to this month's CTMH product spotlight blog hop.  If you hopped on over from Wendy you are heading in the right direction.  If you are starting here, don't worry, just keep on hopping and you will come full circle. The next blog on the list is at the end of my post and  I have also listed this month's hoppers at the end of the post just in case you get lost along the way.

This month we are showcasing how easy it is to create backgrounds with our stamps.  I created a card using 3 of my go to stamp sets.  For the background on the Autumn Terracotta shaped image I used Spot on Backgrounds.  I also used For Every Occassion for the sentiment and Cottage Floral.  These 3 sets are among my most loved.  The design of the card was inspired by this one from Dawn McVey...check her out, her work is amazing.


I also pulled out a layout from my archives to show you another way of using stamps to create a background or your own patterned paper.  I stamped the baseball image from In the Game - Play Ball onto Color Ready Alphabets to create custom letters for my layout.  I also used a sponge to ink the white space on the right hand page and then random stamped a design (with retired stamp) to create my own patterned paper.  Sorry about the un-cropping of the picture.  For some reason my photo editing software won't open and I don't know how to use Photoshop (it scares me!)


I hope this gives you some inspiration to dig out those stamps of yours and add a little something special to your cards, layouts and projects.  If there is something here that you don't own and would like to, please contact your CTMH consultant or myself.  You can order directly through me by clicking on any of the product links above.

For more inspiration...hop on over to Nikka to see what wonderful project she has for you today!

Have a crafty day,

Tracy

Just in case you get lost:

Wendy K.   www.MyScrapbookingBlog.com

Tracy Oleksak  www.mamaolie.blogspot.com  <------- You are here
nikka geers  www.nikkageers.blogspot.com
Jen B.  http://www.jensmessystudio.com
Haley D.  http://inkyscrapper.blogspot.com
Toni Hinchcliffe  http://whollycrafts.blogspot.com
Karen C  http://my-crazy-never-still-life.blogspot.com

Friday, August 13, 2010

sending all my FWF a little happy...

Hello and welcome to another Friday...Unity Stamp Co. style...with friends with flair!

I haven't had a chance to play with my stamps or paper lately (or even set foot in my craft room) so being able to participate this week really was a treat!  It got me back in the groove and i hope to be sharing more real soon (btw - I will be hosting GIU the week of Aug 23...so stop back then, I will be sure to have crafty posts...Unity style, every day!)

Today I have a card for you...honestly it was the first image I laid my hands on when I started thinking about what to share with you.  These little guys just make you want to whip up something cute.  I based the sketch on this great one from Mercy




Thanks so much for stopping by.  Please make sure you head on over to the Unity blog for a full list of today's participants.  You will want to visit each of these talented ladies not only to get some fabulous inspiration, but to find out who has the secret blinkie for your chance to win some Unity stamps. 

Tracy

{sending you a little happy} materials:
stamps:  Unity Stamp Co. June 2010 KOM (birds); May 2010 KOM (sentiment)
cardstock:  CTMH crystal blue, cranberry, white daisy
DP: Cosmo Cricket Sunshine
Ink:  CTMH cocoa
Other:  CTMH ribbon, sparkles, colored pencils, button, hemp

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Vacationland Part 2

I figured the follow up to my first set of vacation pics was long overdue.  Boy, the time gets away from one very quickly when you get back to the craziness of summer, plus back to school shopping and on top of it JT started football which is consuming much of our time.

So before another week gets away from me, let me share with you the rest of our vacation pics

This is "the taco" aka The Stealth 5...all I know is that it is a 45' tall hydro half pipe that is the scariest thing I have ever been on (and haven't since the first time I was goaded into it 3 years ago).  Kelsey loves it and rides it over and over again...she is my dare devil:




She also is a lover of all things bacon and would eat it exclusively if I let her...so when we found this shirt in Portland, we had to take a pic:



and of course we needed a pic of Treehouse Toys.  We discovered this toy store 9 years ago and have made it a tradition to stop in and buy something for the kids each and every year.  I think this may be the last year though...JT remarked that he was too old for the toys that they have now {sigh}.



Our last day was overcast and threatening rain so we headed to Old York, ME.  Growing up as a kid we spent summers in York Beach just a few miles down the street and I never remembered coming here, although I am sure we did...the kids loved the one room school house dating back to 1745:


the really old cemetery

and the old gaol (how jail used to be spelled).  This building served as a prison from 1790 to 1860 and is one of the oldest public British buildings in the United States.  What was even cooler (at least to me) was the fact that many of the displays and information related back to the book series I am reading right now (The Outlander series) so it was even more interesting...like I was in the book (which would be so cool...if you have read the series, you know what I am saying...)




We found this old wharf (more pics to come on my landmark and house post soon).  I loved the buoys and tried to get a pic...but at least this one captures my two obnoxious loving monsters children at their best.


We then drove down to Short Sands Beach in York, ME to show the kids where I spent my summers.  We had to take them to Fun-o-Rama to play some arcade games and skee ball.  They had a blast and it brought back tons of memories.

this is where we begin and end (with lots of trips in between) every summer vacation.  The best ice cream shop.  It is still set up like a old time soda fountain inside, with the exception of little booths and tables around the shop instead of stools at the counter.

 

I snapped a whole bunch of pics of cool buildings and homes that I would love to own and will post them later.

Have a great day ~
Tracy

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