Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Stephanie

This will probably be my last post until after the first of October, when I return from taking Steph to Utah. She's moving there to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and work for the hospice company owned and run my my cousin, Adam Archer and my uncle, Mike Archer. Rich and I are so excited for Steph and her future. We know she will be a wonderful, patient, and thorough care provider. She's such a special person and we know this will be a great career for her. Many thanks to Adam, Cori, Mike & Julie for all of your help in making this possibility a reality for Steph.

This has been such a strange and exciting time for us as parents, and especially for me as a mom. Having a child leave home for the first time. There's nothing to compare it to. Such a mix of emotions, so much to do, so much to worry about. And with some other major factors of our lives being rather UN-settled lately, it just adds to the stress. What is normal? I don't really know any more. Ask me in about five years. But I continue to love my family like crazy and try to stop each day and realize how blessed we truly are. Life really hands us some challenges sometimes that really throw us, but I know that somehow if we do our best to stay on track, things will work out and life will be good. Right? Right!!

"A life lived in love will never be dull." —Leo Buscaglia

"Life is what you make of it — always has been, always will be." —Grandma Moses

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sweet Heart

Stephanie is my sweet heart. She is my first-born. She is a lovely daughter of God. Since the day she was born she has been an angel, and such a good sister to David. As I look back over the past twenty-plus years of her life, I have many regrets, things I wish I had done differently, and how I so wish for that time machine that I could hop into and go change stuff. I've always worried, "what will my kids remember when they grow up? Will they remember the good times and the positive teaching moments, or will they instead remember the times when their mom lost it (there were many) and was a complete lunatic? In our talks these days it seems like there is some of each, but mostly my kids feel like they've had good lives. Whew. I'm glad for that. But I still have my regrets, and now that Steph is days away from leaving us, I hope and pray that she has the tools to succeed. I think she does, mostly. And Rich & I are only a phone call or a computer keystroke away, and Steph will have several loving and amazing relatives close-by in Utah to help her when she needs it.

So today, I just want to say: Stephanie Noel, my baby girl, I love you more than life. You are precious to me. Be good. Be happy. Choose the right. Remember who you are. You are my sweet heart.

"At last my love has come along!
My lonely days are over,
And life is like a song!

You smiled, and then the spell
was cast,

And here we are in heaven,
for you are mine at last!"
—Etta James

Monday, September 20, 2010


This will be a week for remembering, and worrying, and scurrying, and hurrying. Steph leaves on Saturday. She may very well never live in my home as "my kid" again. So I've been asking myself all of the questions: Did I teach her all she needs to know? Will she make the right decisions? Will she be safe? Will she have nice, trustworthy roommates? Will her job go well? Will she be happy? ...and on they go. The questions in my brain won't stop. And I am a wreck, and I've not been being Nice Mom lately. I need to relax and have faith. Hmmmm, that's harder than it sounds, but I am trying.

In addition to the impending upheaval here at home there are also some rather important decisions looming elsewhere in my life. But I just need to, again, have faith. I know that everything will turn out as it should, and that we'll all be ok, whatever that means. As I sit here at my computer on a cool September morning, window open, listening to the neighborhood dogs bark their greetings to each other and hearing the marching band rehearsing in the high school stadium down the street, I know that life is good. Life is precious, It is a gift. My wonderful husband is off to work, my beautiful children are sleeping soundly in their beds. Now, Kalani, just have faith that all will be well. It will. I know it. Now, breathe...

"This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendship to brighten your being, faith so you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, love to complete your life." —unknown

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Day at the Beach?

Today was exciting - I received the layouts for nine new clear stamp sets of my designs that Impression Obsession will be releasing later this month. This is a great variety of new stuff that I think is versatile and fun - I am jazzed! The image at right is from one of the new sets, titled "Real Life Sentiments." It's full of great sayings about, well, real life! Very useful for cards, journaling, scrapbook pages, etc. The other new sets include new Christmas designs, All-occasion sentiments, and more. Can't wait to get my hands on them! Stay tuned...

The card I'm sh
aring here was designed by Daniala Dobson ( from IO's design team. Daniela posted this card on her blog back on September 2nd. She used two of my stamps, BOO and Trick or Treat Bold. I think it was extremely clever of Daniela to cut out the BOO stamps and put them in the shaker pouch on the card along with orange and black beads. So cute! I've included a photo of the entire card as well as a close-up of the shaker pouch so you can see what a great job she did. Thanks Daniela!

I spent the morning today with
my dear friend Kari. We made the trek to Ikea in West Sacramento, then had some tasty lunch topped off with a little fro-yo, and then walked across the parking lot to some other shops and did a little browsing. I came away with an awesome and hilarious gift for the annual Christmas Party/white elephant gift exchange we always attend at our friends the Weldon's. It's the perfect gift - can't wait! Haha!

Well, it's back to work for me so I must sign off. The weather here is lovely and tomorrow is Friday. Busy weekend ahead - our last one before our Steph leaves. Lots to do! Hugs.

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
fluttering from the autumn tree." —Emily Bronte

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Don't be a Scaredy Cat

Oh, the weather is changing. I just love the little chill in the air each night and morning. It tells me that it's time to put on a sweater and start making soup! Love, love, love it!

I spent 2 days last weekend at a paper crafting retailer show in Oakland, CA, sponsored by Joan Mills and the lovely ladies at MillsRepCo. I had so much fun and met lots of nice people. Got to bring my Steph with me - she
relaxed around the hotel while I was working at the show. We're down to just over a week before Steph moves away to start her future life. I am so going to miss my girl!

So, Mitra at Impression Obsession is going to be releasing several of my new collections over the next few months, with the next ones coming out at the end of September. As soon as I can show a sneak peek I will do so. It's some fun stuff (in my humble opinion)!

Here's a Halloween card that's cute-scary. I used some of the fabulous paper from Memory Box's Blackbird Collection, and I combined my Scaredy-Cat stamp with a cat from this Hero Arts set, both stamped in black ink. Added miscellaneous jewels, pearls, a button and some twine and that's it. So scary!

Gotta run. Busy playing catch-up, and also fighting with a computer that's been sick with a virus. Ugh, computers - it's a love-hate relationship!

"On Halloween, witches come true; wild ghosts escape from dreams. Each monster dances in the park..." —Nicholas Gordon

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'm Just Sayin...

Today is September 11. Nine years ago today the world changed forever. I still believe our nation (the USA) is the greatest of all nations, but I also have reasons to fear. I won't go uber-political here, but let's just say that we (and by "we" I mean not only us little people but especially the current leaders of our nation) need to remember the principles that this nation was founded on. We should all go back and read the constitution, the bill of rights, the Federalist papers, etc. These are the basics, and according to our founding fathers they apply to our government as well as our people: Remember that God is in charge ("In God We Trust, right??"). Don't spend more money than you have. Put families and children first. Be honest. Always. The list could go on, but if we get these first few things down then most of our problems will go away. Now the terrorists and the bad guys in other countries are another story and we unfortunately will always be dealing with them, and this will continue to lead to conflicts and unpleasantries of many kinds. But here in America we need to remember who we are. The Scriptures call this a land of promise, but we have that promise only if we hold up our end of the bargain. Come on America, let's hold on!

"Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!

Blessed with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
—Francis Scott Key
(America's National Anthem, 3rd verse)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Keeping it Simple in a Complicated World: Roast Chicken Dinner

Today is September 10. Tomorrow is September 11. How great it would be if we could go back in time to when this date was not significant on a world scale. I was driving in my car this afternoon and one of my favorite talk radio guys was playing a series of clips from 9/11/01, when things were just starting to happen in New York and the reporters were reporting things live as they saw them and none of us knew what was really going on. Two women were reacting to having just seen the second plane hit the second tower, and one of them kept saying, "oh my goodness," and I just started to sob, today right there in my car. I almost had to pull over. Too much. Why can we not just have peace in the world? There are too many bad guys and it's just out of hand. Hug your families, people! It's a really bad world out there in a lot of ways. But at the same time, there is also a lot of good. And good will always win in the end...

So some friends from our church have a daughter who was born with a heart defect. She's in the hospital for the billionth time so we're taking turns providing dinner for their family. Anyway, tonight was supposed to be my night, but dinner got canceled because the family is all at the hospital tonight, so that left me with two chickens and lots of veggies to roast. I put one chicken in the freezer and the other one in the oven for my fam. Let me just say that on a day when I'm feeling kinda sad and grieving for the state of the world, there's something especially comforting about a wonderful, simple, back-to-basics home-cooked meal. I can't wait: in about an hour we get to sit down to a platter loaded with chicken & veggies, with some lovely crusty ciabatta bread on the side. It's a food of love, and it's gonna be nice to share it with my three favorite people on the planet.

Now if you have not roasted a chicken before, just google it. There are hundreds of recipes out there, but here is my basic technique: Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Clean and chop an assortment of root vegetables of your choice (mandatory on my list are onions, carrots and at least one whole head of garlic with the top sliced off). Put veg into a large roasting pan, preferably one you have a lid for (or you can use foil). Rinse a whole chicken (take the guts out of the cavity and throw them away - they're yucky), pat it dry with a paper towel, and place it on top of the veg. Drizzle everything with olive oil, add a couple of pats of butter for extra yum factor, then sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put cover on the pan, put it into the oven and set the timer for an hour & 20 minutes. Depending on the size of the chicken and the quantity of veggies, you may need to keep cooking for a while longer. Use an instant-read thermometer if you have one - interior temperature of the bird should be 160 degrees - or the juices should be clear and the leg socket should wiggle nice and loosely (and your veggies should be tender). Remove the lid from your pan for a bit so the chicken can crisp up. Remove from oven, let rest for 15 minutes or so if you can stand it, then call you family to the table, say a prayer, count your blessings, and eat your dinner. Nothing better. Pure comfort. And the bonus is that tomorrow you can make chicken salad with the left-overs!

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." —Ronald Reagan

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day 2010

Labor Day Greetings to One and All! Here in America we have a few of these holidays throughout the year, usually on a Monday, where schools are closed and most everyone gets the day off. We sleep in, shop at the sales, and often cook outdoors and/or have a party. Labor day is one of those holidays. A nice day off at the end of summer, and who doesn't love that? But what is it all about, really? What is the history behind Labor Day in the US? I knew it had something to do with celebrating the workforce, or labor unions... ahem, uh, or something like that. So I decided to do a little research and this is what I found. Some of this you probably already know, but hopefully some of it will be new to you, as it was to me:

"Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September. The first Labor Day in the United States was observed on September 5, 1882 in New York City by the Central Labor Union of New York, the nation's first integrated major trade union. It became a federal holiday in 1884 as part of President Grover Cleveland's attempt to reconcile the government with the labor movement... The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: a street parade followed by a festival for workers and their families... Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties. Labor Day in the US also marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons, and other sporting events are also centered around this date." (this information edited from

Labor Day for our family this year went as many of our weekends go. We had a quiet morning at home, followed by Rich and I doing a little house-hunting with our awesome Realtor, Jerry (and we made an offer on a home - fingers crossed!). We then came home and took the kids out to an early dinner, did a little shopping, and we'll now probably spend the evening puttering around the house, getting ready for a lovely 4-day work week that starts bright and early tomorrow. Like I mentioned — just a nice day off. Love it! And I suppose there's really no better way to celebrate America's work force and the blessing it is to HAVE a job in today's economy than taking a day off from work to sit back, relax, and enjoy life for a day. So farewell to summer, bring on the fall, and here's to Labor Day!

"You do your best work if you do a job that makes you happy." —Bob Ross

"A human being must have occupation if he or she is not to become a nuisance to the world." —Dorothy Sayers

Friday, September 3, 2010

The word is: FRIEND

Yep, that's right. Look at the definition. The various forms of this word can be a noun, a verb, and an adjective! How appropriate, for this word to be so versatile and, well, friendly! I am so grateful for my friends — I have some good ones, yes I do. People who I can completely trust; with whom I can be my true self. And the best part is that I can rely on them to tell me when I am out of line. Truly good friends help us to be/become the best versions of ourselves. I strongly believe that we can and should live our lives in a constant state of striving to improve our physical, our spiritual, and our emotional selves. People who say, "this is who I am and I can't change," are cheating themselves and their loved ones. It can be tough being friends with (or even being around) a person like that. It is NEVER too late to change. Never. Never ever ever. Did I say never? Never!!

I am also so happy and blessed that some of my best friends are also people with whom I share blood. The bonds of a family, being able to count on one another, and sharing life's experiences (both the ups and the downs) together. It's so important. And my very best friend? That would be my sweetie, Rich. I love you, hubs!

So for all of my friends out there, and for the friends I have yet to meet, I love you! Thank you for caring about me!

"Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty." —Sicilian Proverb

"If a friend is in need, don't annoy him by asking if there's anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it!" —Edgar Watson Howe

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Count Your Blessings

September 1, 2010. Holy smokes, tempus fugit! Life is good, especially for our boy David this week. He got a job (finally!) at our local Great Harvest bread bakery (he's doing "dough training" now - learning to form two loaves of bread at a time, one with each hand - a skill I need to learn!). He also found out today that he made the top jazz band at CSU Sacramento, and after a great audition yesterday he also earned a spot singing tenor in C-Sus, the mixed vocal jazz ensemble at Sac State. And he'll also be playing bass in a jazz combo there as well. All great news for David! So proud of him. He's worked very hard and wanted this so much. He is practically floating, he's so happy! And when David is happy, Mom is happy too! Good stuff. And plans are progressing well for Steph's impending move to Utah. She's getting excited and can't wait to get there and get going on her studies and her new job. I told her to relax and enjoy these next few weeks off, because she's gonna have to work very hard when she gets there. I am so proud of her and excited for her, but still can't picture daily Allred family life without our Steph being here with us. It will be an interesting adjustment for all of us, I'm sure (she said sadly)... Uh-oh, somebody call the waaaaaaambulance!

So here is a fall card — more of a Thanksgiving card, but it could work for any fall occasion, really. I used a Daff
odil card and layering paper from Hero Arts. The brown grosgrain ribbon, corrugated paper and bronze brads are from my stash. Inks are Vintage Photo, Spiced Marmalade and Scattered Straw Distress Inks (blended with pearlized water for a soft shimmering effect). The Count Your Blessings stamp is my design, and the acorn and leaves are from this Hero Arts set.

Sometimes the blessings and rewards that come our way in life are more obvious, as they've been for David this week, and sometimes we need to look a little harder to recognize them. As a mom I of course am very relieved and thankful when things come along that make my children feel as if their hard work is paying off. The difficult and more challenging lessons are also good and appreciated in their own way, but I have to say it's nice sometimes to just have a few "up" days. Makes the rest of life easier to bear. Yay for the happy times!

"Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it." —Fyodor Dostoevsky