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Catching Up

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Apr 24, 2009 in Family Stuff, My Adventures in Dieting, Today's Photo

Working full-time certainly has affected the amount of time I have to update my blog!  Today is my day off, and I have about 5 minutes before I go and try to cram every weekday errand that needs to be done for the next 2 weeks into one day (can you say the DMV, optometrist, bank, etc…), so here’s an abbreviated synopsis of what’s going on with the Torrences (in bullet form – can you tell that I’ve been putting together a lot of presentations at work lately? – but not necessarily in sequential order):

  • I turned 41 and had a GREAT birthday which included a massage and a camping trip to Cape May (not at the same time)
  • Easter Sunday came and went – we had brunch with my parents at Cracker Barrel this year
  • I’ve been keeping up with my diet and exercise ‘plan’ (not really a plan – just trying to eat less and move more) and have lost a total of 26 pounds as of today
  • My mystery headaches were diagnosed by a neurologist as an ‘extended migraine’ – they lasted over a month and are being treated with a medication called Topamax.  The medication is helping – and as an added bonus, weight loss is a side effect! :)

Here are a few quick photos too:

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That’s all I have time for right now…time to move on to the next errand…

 
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Burger Cupcake Idea

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 26, 2009 in Crafts, Other items, Today's Photo

I needed a cute cupcake idea for my daughter’s bake sale at school and saw these “slider” cupcakes online – I decided to try my own.

Mine aren’t quite as professional-looking, mind you – but I think they turned out pretty cute:

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The buns are vanilla cupcakes, the burgers are chocolate cupcakes, the ketchup and mustard are icing and the lettuce is colored coconut.

Will we win for originality?

 
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Back from Florida

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 2, 2009 in Family Stuff, My Adventures in Dieting, Our Goldendoodle Puppies, Today's Photo

The kids and I are back from our trip to sunny Florida – and have been welcomed back with a snow day!  I am SO not a winter person – I just don’t understand why anyone would enjoy being cold.  When the colonists decided to settle in America, why didn’t they go further south so they wouldn’t have had to worry about those severe winters anyway?

At least for a few days, we enjoyed some gorgeous weather and great company.  We stayed with my dear friend Linda, her husband Tom and their children Kylee and Zachary.  My kids were excited to be able to swim outside in February. 

And yes – I took all three kids to Florida by myself – Mike stayed home with the dogs.  Getting through security at the airport was interesting – we had to take out all of our electronics, remove our shoes and put all the bags, coats and liquids on the belt – not nearly as easy as it sounds.  With three of us, it was quite the project.  To make it easier on the way home, I pulled out all of the iPods, Gameboys, cameras and cell phones ahead of time – plus, we were able to go through the faster “employee” line after I showed my FAA badge (it doesn’t come with many perks, but that’s one of them).

This was Matt’s first time flying and I was afraid that with his AS, he might have an anxiety attack.  He did, at first, but I was able to distract him by letting him play on my laptop (something he is not normally allowed to do).  Mid-flight, he looked over and said, “I don’t even feel like I’m on a plane – I feel like I’m at home.”  I was happy he had a good flying experience on the way there, because on the way back, we flew through a front that caused some moderate turbulence during the ENTIRE flight (even I was stressed – FAA perks don’t help you there).  But he handled it okay – I told him it was just like going over bumps in the road.

While we were visiting, we spent a day at Epcot which was a GREAT choice for Matt (he doesn’t like rides at all) and the other kids as well.

P2250029Epcot was a great combination of hands-on science stuff and cultural displays which was perfect for the kids.  They also had a new scavenger hunt program using a Kim Possible theme.  You’re given a Kimmunicator (aka cell phone) that gives you clues and activates special features throughout the park – even Andrew thought it was really cool!

We also visited the beach while we were there:

P2250018I wish I would have pushed my hair out of my eyes for that photo!  And I’d also like to point out how tall my son Andrew is (although he was standing on a little sand dune).

The kids enjoyed staying with their friends and had so much fun playing and swimming – we also visited Linda’s friend Judi who was kind enough to warm her pool for our stay.  My kids were in the pool for hours – the last time they’ll be able to swim until Lake Kandle opens on Memorial Day weekend.

Oh – and we also attended a ‘Puppy Shower’ – the Brandons got a new Westie puppy after we left and the neighbors threw her a party to celebrate while we were there. It was actually really cute – there were games like ‘pass the rawhide’ and a little agility course for the kids to maneuver while acting as puppies.  Their new puppy Molly will join Geddy’s brother Buddy who was more than happy to attend the party:

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It was so nice to be in the sunshine – even if only for a few days.  But now it’s back to reality – and about 8 inches of snow.  Even the FAA Technical Center is closed today – and no one can remember the last time that happened!

One more thing – I managed to stay on my diet and exercise plan (for the most part) while we were away and I’ve now lost a total of 18 pounds since the holidays.  Unfortunately, I’ve still got a long way to go (I was pretty discouraged after seeing the photos of myself), but at least I’m making progress…

 
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In Loving Memory of Helen Torrence

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Jan 29, 2009 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

Mike’s grandmother, Nan, passed away peacefully at home last weekend – her funeral service was today in Allentown, PA.

I posted last summer about how she gave Emily a bracelet that belonged to her mother.

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I also posted about our recent visit with Nan over Thanksgiving. 

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Nan was a lovely woman who was as sharp as a tack until the very end.  She lived a full life, full of love and surrounded by her family. 

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She will be sorely missed…

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Faux Mosaic Tutorial

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Jan 19, 2009 in Cards, Crafts, Today's Photo

Lynn in St. Louis, who coordinates the weekly technique challenges SplitCoastStampers, saw a few cards in my gallery using the faux mosaic technique and asked me to put together a quick photo tutorial for this week’s challenge.  

The sad part is, my craft room is SUCH a mess, I had drag my supplies out to do this project on my dining room table (today’s chore is to clean up my craft room – it’s always such a mess after the holidays).

This technique is really easy and there are so many ways to do it – just have fun and be creative with your mosaic!  The basic idea is that you create paper ‘tiles’ and use embossing powder as ‘grout’ to create a mosaic that can be used as a background or accent on a card or scrapbook page. 

Supplies needed:

  • Double sided tape (you can use Stampin’ Up!’s Sticky Strip or the same type of red-lined tape sold in sheets either in the craft store or Pennywise Arts – or even just regular double sided Scotch tape)
  • Embossing powder
  • Heat gun
  • Cardstock and/or patterned paper

To start, cut a piece of cardstock to size for the base of the mosaic (it doesn’t matter what color – the cardstock won’t show).  If you are using a sheet of red-liner tape, cut it to the same size as the cardstock.

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Then peel off the white part of the tape sheet and apply to the cardstock.

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If you are using Sticky Strip you can just cover the entire piece of cardstock with strips, removing the white liner for each piece. 

Remove the red portion of the red-liner tape, exposing the sticky side.

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If you are using double sided tape, just cover one side of the cardstock entirely with the tape, exposing the sticky side.

Now you have a very sticky piece of cardstock – set it aside (careful not to handle the sticky portion too much to keep it clean).

Next, create the ‘tiles’.  You can either stamp a piece of cardstock and cut it into randomly shaped pieces:

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Or…start with patterned paper and cut it into either randomly shaped pieces or similar size squares.  If you’re really OCD about your crafts, you can cut the pieces into the exact same shape and size – I’m more free-form with my projects.

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Arrange the pieces onto your sticky paper.  This is where you can get creative – you can arrange them into a random pattern or space them evenly…it depends on the look you’re going for.  For this card, I was looking for more of a vintage tile wall look, so I kept the pieces mostly the same size and spaced the sort of evenly, but not exactly.

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I even overlapped the edge pieces a bit – I just trimmed them off from the back:

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Next, sprinkle embossing powder over the sticky side of the entire sheet.  It will settle into the spaces between the tiles, acting as ‘grout’ between them.

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Shake off the excess:

P1150020And heat emboss:

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If you want your tiles to be shiny, you can add Crystal Effects to each tile:

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But be prepared – this take a LONG time to dry.  24 hours later, and it still looked like this:

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Being impatient (and wanting to show you a completed card), I did another mosaic using black embossing powder instead of silver.  Here’s my finished card:

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Different colors of embossing powder will give you much different results. 

Here’s a card I made using gold embossing powder (the tiles were made of glossy paper colored with ink and a brayer):

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And another one using silver, but with randomly shaped pieces:

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And a much more funky card using plain colored cardstock and white embossing powder:

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Thanks for the interest in this technique, Lynn – I can’t wait to see what everyone on SCS creates!

 
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4th Grade Lenape Indian Project

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Jan 12, 2009 in Crafts, Family Stuff, Today's Photo

This week’s 4th grade social studies assignment was to create an ‘artifact’ for the class museum to represent life among the Lenape Indians (or Native Americans, to be politically correct).  We were looking for something different, so we decided to make some games representative of those played by the Lenape children. 

Feel free to borrow these ideas if a Lenape Indian project comes your way – I thought I’d post these to assist other frantic parents looking for ideas (I had a hard time finding some online)…

First, we made a kokolesh – this was also called the ‘rabbit game’.  There is a string tied to a stick with a small cone made of bone (ours is actually a tiny wooden flowerpot from the craft store).  The cone was kept on the string with a rabbit tail (with no rabbit tails handy, we used a cotton ball).  The object of the game is to catch the cone on the end of the stick.

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Next we made a set of jackstraws – basically a Lenape version of pickup sticks.  We also marked some sticks for the game selahtiken – more points are awarded for sticks marked with lines and dots.  For this game, we just gathered some twigs (you don’t even have to be crafty to do this one!).

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We also made a ‘cup and pin’ game.  The object of the game is to throw the circle into the air (for the Lenape, the cup was made of leather or bone – for our purposes, it’s a wood washer from the craft store) and catch it on the pin (again – for the Lenape it was bone;  for us, it was a wooden peg).

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Another easy game to make was the ‘hand game’.  It was played with two rocks, one marked with a red dot.  The player passes one rock to the person on their right and the person on the left has to guess whether or not the rock that was passed has the dot on it.  If they’re right, they get the rocks and get a turn passing them.  Again, no craftiness required here – we just took two rocks and marked one with a Sharpie…

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We also made the game mamandin – sort of a Lenape version of Yahtzee.  The game was played with handmade dice in a wooden bowl – the bowl was shaken and the total numbers on the dice were added up for points.  We used a wooden salad bowl I found at Marshall’s and some wooden cubes from the craft store that Matt marked with a Sharpie.

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Finally, we made a VERY crude representation of a Pahsaheman ball – a Lenape game sort of like football.  The Lenape made the ball from deer skin and stuffed it with hair – ours is made from leftover faux fur pieces from Emily’s Halloween costume and is stuffed with plastic grocery bags.  I just sewed a quick oblong ball shape, wrong sides together, leaving a small opening to turn it inside out and to add the stuffing.  Then I stitched the hole shut…

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Like I said, very crude – but I wanted it to look hand-made (didn’t I?).

So there you go – some easy Lenape game projects.  Now let’s see what sort of grade Matt gets on his report and project…

 
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Happy New Year’s Eve (and a craft project too)

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 31, 2008 in Crafts, Other items, Today's Photo

Even though I had to work today, I managed to get a little crafting time in while I was there.  That’s right – there was some crafting going on at the Tech Center today!

My co-worker Sybil saw a gift item online that she had tried to order, but was receiving no response from the store owner.  She showed it to me and I said, “Sybil, we could make that!”.  A crafting challenge!!!!

The item was a personalized frame containing a poem and a high heel shoe silhouette on a fabric (at least I think it was fabric) background – selling for $59.95.  Sybil thought it would be perfect for a friend who was turning 40.

I’d like to show you the link to the original item, but the link no longer seems to be working.  Maybe Sybil didn’t receive a response because they went out of business…

Anyway, our project was similar to the original, but instead of fabric, we used patterned paper.  And I just happened to have a shoe stencil from November’s Paula’s Kit Club kit – how convenient!  I trimmed the shoe image from the paper with a craft knife then placed ivory cardstock behind the opening. 

We used an original poem written by Sybil for her friend and put all of the items into a frame she picked up at Michaels:

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This is SO close to the original (and was MUCH less expensive) – Sybil was very happy:

PC300001I am using this photo with her permission, but she did want me to emphasize that she was feeling quite under the weather at the time…I think she looks just fine.

And by the way, I think I have her hooked on crafting – I caught her surfing the Internet looking for more projects for us to try…

Happy New Year to everyone!  Here’s hoping for a happy and healthy 2009…

 
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Baby Paint Can Gift

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 30, 2008 in Crafts, Other items, Today's Photo

I just completed a baby gift for one of my co-workers – I haven’t made one of these for a while but I have posted the instructions previously on my blog.  I used to make a lot of these to sell at craft shows back in the day when I had more time for crafting…and spent less time working (before job).

The gift starts out as an empty paint can that is covered with scrapbooking paper using ModPodge.  Here’s the finished can:

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She knows she is having a girl (obviously!) and the colors in the nursery are pink and brown.  Inside the can, I included some receiving blankets and a tiny outfit in the same colors (a girl has to be color-coordinated, you know – even a newborn girl!).

I used paper from Basic Grey’s “Blush” collection to cover the can then added a little poem on Stampin’ Up! cardstock to the front:

Baby books are great ideas,

But sometimes you’re too busy.

Living with a little one

Can put you in a tizzy!

Milestones pass too fast at times

To find the proper page.

So, jot a note of each event

With date and baby’s age.

Like, “Took 3 steps on May the 1st”,

Or, “Teething – 5th December”.

Then drop it in this memory can

To help you to remember.

I also included a little stack of stamped tags on a split ring to which I added ribbon:

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The cards can be used to jot down little notes about things the baby did and when she did them.

I tied some coordinating ribbon all around the paint can handle and also attached a paint can opener (also tied with ribbon).  The lid is also included – I put it beneath the can and tied the whole package with cellophane:

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Hope she likes it!

 
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Merry Christmas!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 25, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

I hope the holiday brought you everything you’d hoped for…

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Successful Gingerbread House

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 24, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

Emily and I had fun making a gingerbread house the other day.  It was actually a successful project – meaning the roof and/or walls were not falling in (as they usually do – we have many memories of Mike holding the walls while I attempt to secure the construction with more and more icing – meaning there is never enough icing left to actually decorate the resulting lopsided house).  We used a great kit that we picked up at Target – it came with pre-made icing and a tray with grooves for the walls.  It is a lot more fun when things actually work the way they are supposed to…

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