Welcome. This blog is my little home on the web. It's mostly about my favorite hobby, digital scrapbooking. You might also find some recipes, home decor projects, or parenting woes. But mostly digital scrapbooking.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Enchanted Forest

Last night we played a game called Enchanted Forest. It's for 2-6 players, ages 6 and up.

It was a really fun game, and great for all ages.  You travel across the board discovering the locations of various treasures (the treasures are on the undersides of the trees). At any one time there is a specific treasure card showing. When you find that treasure you try to be the first to make it to the castle and reveal its location. There is a little bit of math/strategy involved in how you choose to play each move. And it is a memory game because you have to remember where all the treasures are. The first person to correctly reveal three treasures is the winner.

Our game had a bit of a slow start because it took a while for someone to find the first treasure. But after the first one was revealed everyone had seen (and hopefully remembered) several others. So the game play sped up then. Miller lost interest before anyone won, and he quit playing. Bit it was just a handful of moves after when I revealed my third treasure and won the first game!

I didn't time the game, but it probably took between 30 and 45 minutes for the three of us to play. (It's now a few days later and we've played a few more rounds. Game length is quite variable depending on luck, how sharp memories are, and how people take advantage of some of the special moves in the game.)

I highly recommend Enchanted Forest for family fun. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Oven-Fried Bacon and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Last week I made a big salad for dinner, with grilled chicken, homemade ranch dressing, and crispy bacon on top. It was really yummy. Here are the recipes I used for the ranch dressing and the bacon.

BLT Chopped Salad with Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing from Averie Cooks. At first I was not impressed by the dressing, thinking that the Hidden Valley envelope mix was better. BUT the mayo I used was canola oil mayo, which definitely has a different color and texture than regular mayo.  I'm looking forward to trying this recipe again with regular mayo.  (Even with the canola oil may, over time, the dressing definitely grew on me and by the time I was finishing off the jar I had no complaints.)

For the bacon in my salad I did this: Oven-Fried Bacon from Brown Eyed Baker. I always have a hard time cooking bacon - getting it crispy but not burned. This technique was so simple (you just get it going and then walk away for 20 minutes!), and I'll probably make bacon this way for the rest of my life. In fact, I have bacon in the oven right this minute, for some fancy grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. YUM!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Bird watching - I kinda get it now. Here is another great post from Alien Skin, this time about photographing birds: Photographing Birds at Home. There is great discussion in the comments.

Here are my attempts at bird photography, apartment patio style.

These birds were eating berries/seeds off the tree. 

These small birds come for the seeds I put out. The birds almost always in pairs with a plain one and a red one - I'm guessing male and female. The red ones (males?) always seem to be a little more bold, and the plain one comes down after the red one has scoped it out a bit.

And the good ol' hummingbirds. Any time of the day you can expect this one to be on his favorite perch at the top of the tree. He chases off other birds, big and small.

Besides your family, what do you like to take pictures of? For me, it's mostly bugs, birds, and mushrooms (when I can find them!). Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Recent Layouts

Here are some layouts to share. First up, some art. Who knew a first grader had a concept of "breaking up?"
I Am Collection by Etc. by Danyale and Amber Shaw; Simple and Sweet Album Templates by Scrapping with Liz
A Bit Worn No. 2 by Valorie Wibbens

I did this for a Digi Dares challenge. These are some pictures of a nature area nearby. Miller and I took lots of pictures of mushrooms. Ah, I love mushrooms and oak trees. Check out that credits list!
Recyclables 27 by Scrapping with Liz; XOXO by Gina Marie Huff and Simply You Simply Me;Tiny 10's #7
by Gina Marie Huff; Froggy's Cardstock by Gina Miller;Borders and Flairs and Autumn Happiness by
Little Butterfly Wings; Plain and Balance papes by Kitty Designs; Fresh Blooms by Kitschy Digitals;
Be by creashens; Art and Soul freebie by Sahlin Studio; Bountiful Buttons 2 by Karah Fredricks
Cream and Sugar by Valorie Wibbens

And here are some pictures Miller took from closer to home. Several of his mushroom pictures weren't in focus, but I thought the blurry mushrooms in the background were neat.
Love Collection by Gina Marie Huff; Everyday Life #3 by Gina Marie Huff and Cinzia Designs;
Make a Wish Templates by Scrapping with Liz

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Occasionally I have digi friends ask me about how I shadow my layouts.  The short answer is that I use One Little Bird drop shadow layer styles. I've been using them for about three years, maybe more.

I use the 120 degrees shadows, and the styles I use the most from this set are:
  • Leaf Shadow (for leaves AND flowers)
  • Flat Flower Shadow (for flatter flowers or for papers/ribbons with a warped shadow)
  • Curled Ribbon Shadow (for curly ribbons/strings)
  • Stitching Shadow
  • Paper Shadow
I often tweak them a bit, but I still like having some place to start.  Lately, I've been doing a bit lighter shadows, and a bit bigger shadows for things like flowers.  I'll use this layout as an example.

The leaves: I started with the Leaf Shadow, but I thought it was too dark.  So I changed the blend mode to Multiply (from Linear Burn) and also bumped up the size quite a bit.  So the shadow settings on the leaves are:
  • Multiply, 60% Opacity, Distance = 45 px, Size = 76 px.

The flower: Lately with flowers I've been using really large sizes and distances to achieve a more diffuse look. I started with the Leaf Shadow here, but then took down the opacity and bumped both the size and the distance. The shadow settings on the flower are:
  • Linear Burn, 37% Opacity, Distance = 75 px, Size = 87 px. Really huge numbers on the size and distance, right?
I mentioned that I've been tending toward lighter shadows. I've caught myself bumping up the size of flower shadows lately, as a way to lighten them up a bit. I think that is why I'm getting such large values for the flowers.

The button: I use One Little Bird Button Shadow for just about every button that I shadow, but I almost always remove the Spread and bump up the Size a little. However on this button I did keep the Spread value. The shadow settings are:
  • Linear Burn, 48% Opacity, Distance = 37 px, Spread = 6 px, Size = 59 px.

The stitched ribbon: This is an example where I used a little warp on the shadow to help give a bit of depth. I started with the Flat Flower shadow (Linear Burn, 49% Opacity, Distance = 30 px; Size = 35 px), then I moved the shadow to its own layer. I did not change any of the shadow settings. I used the Warp tool to slightly pull down the ends of the shadow on the left most side and the upper right side, and I nudged the shadow up closer to the ribbon where the button would be holding it close to the photo beneath.

Her are some closeups.... the effect is so subtle, it hardly seems worth the effort. That's why sometimes I bother to warp and sometimes I don't. Hover your mouse over the image to see the warped shadow.

Again, those settings were:
  • Linear Burn, 49% Opacity, Distance = 30 px; Size = 35 px; Warped Shadow

The photo strip frame: Since this frame is a bit distressed, it is a good candidate for some warping.
  • I used the Flat Flower shadow, moved it to its own layer and then moved it down in the Layers Palette so that the shadow was below the photos instead of between the photos and the frame. I did not change any settings.
  • I pulled/stretched (not Warp) the left side of the shadow toward the left so it extended out a little on the left side. 
  • And I pulled/stretched the bottom side of the shadow upward so that it did not extend down so much. 
  • Then I did a little warp on the left side to slightly stretch the bottom left corner outward and tuck the top left shadow in a bit closer to the frame. This is realistic to me because the ribbon at the top would be holding the frame tighter to the background and there would be less shadow.
Hover over the image to see the warped shadow.
  • Linear Burn, 49% Opacity, Distance = 30 px; Size = 35 px; Warped Shadow

This is change is a little less subtle, but still is is not a huge change. Is it worth the effort? I guess it was to me at the time. I do like the warped shadow better, and it wasn't a lot of work, but it is still a subtle effect. I go through phases when I hardly warp any of my shadows at all, and I go through phases when I like to play. For me it is more to do with my mood and being creative than trying to create the most realistic or dramatic shadows.

I have a couple of other shadow pet peeves, but I'll try to find some good examples of those and share in a later post. To summarize:
  • One Little Bird shadow layer styles.
  • Warp shadows on high impact elements only.
  • Flat Flower shadow is my go-to starting point if I want to warp the shadow on a paper or ribbon.
  • Use really big shadows on bulky flowers.

Those are my main shadow tips with some examples to illustrate. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


About a year ago I embarked on a mushroom photography project, inspired by this Mushroom Project blog post at Alien Skin.

I was so excited to get started .... and then never found any mushrooms. Maybe because 2013 was the driest year on record for California.

Today I was walking through the parking lot and saw some interesting moss on a rock. It looked like it had little flower buds sprouting out of it. So I got out my poor lonely camera (I haven't taken any pictures since the rainbow loom picture taking extravaganza).

Miller said, "I know where a mushroom is!" and he took me over to see this dried out guy.

And then I said, "Hey, let's walk around and see what we can find."  And here is what we found.

We found mushrooms! Aren't they lovely? I like mushrooms because they look quiet and peaceful. I'm going to go out next Tuesday, the day before the gardeners come, and check to see if they are bigger. My mushroom photography project has finally, officially, begun!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Layouts to Share

I have more new layouts to share. First up this one about the two loves in my life.
Birds of a Feather Templates by Scrapping with Liz; Pillowtalk Kit and Strippers by creashens
For Like Ever Wired by creashens

And what might have been ... or maybe still could be, I suppose. But not likely! This is about how the baby girl names that I picked out always got stolen (by coincidence) by family members.
Willow by Etc. by Danyale; Birds of a Feather Templates by Scrapping with Liz

Going bowling. I'm the best bowler in my house! I'm a natural.
Daily Life Templates 3 by Scrapping with Liz; Love Collection by Gina Marie Huff

Christmas pictures. I really love how the two solid purple paper pieces turned out here. I tend to use more patterned papers in spots like this, but I think the solids gave a really nice bit of color.
Making a List and Happy Gram by One Little Bird; Fresh by One Little Bird and Sahlin Studio;
You by creashens; Daily Life Templates 3 by Scrapping with Liz
I actually made the layout above to go opposite a page I had made earlier for the Month of Challenges at The Lilypad.  I changed up the right hand side a little bit to match this new page.

Making a List and Happy Gram by One Little Bird; Fresh by One Little Bird and Sahlin Studio;
You by creashens; Optical Templates and Daily Life Templates 3 by Scrapping with Liz

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Easy Chicken Stroganoff Recipe

I wanted to share a really yummy new recipe I just made. With the word "Easy" in the title, I have to admit that I did not have high expectations. But as I sat at the table with a belly full of goodness I found myself disappointed that I only made a half batch. I think it would be great as leftovers.  The scientist loved this recipe as much as, if not more, I did. He has already requested that we have it again very soon.

Here is the recipe: Easy Homemade Chicken Stroganoff from Parent Pretty

I might be a little biased because when I was a little girl my Grandma Charlie made Meatballs and Gravy which was my favorite meal. Meatballs and Gravy was beef meatballs cooked up in a pan. Then you put in some cream of mushroom soup and water to make a gravy, scraping up all the yummy bits that cooked off the meatballs. You let that all cook for a while and then serve the meatballs and gravy over egg noodles or rice. It was my favorite!

I think Easy Homemade Chicken Stroganoff is even better than Meatballs and Gravy. First, simply dicing up some chicken is way easier than preparing meatballs. Second, the flavor ... the flavor brought back childhood memories. It was the flavor of Meatballs and Gravy, but just a little bit better. Thirdly, this recipe does not contain cream of mushroom soup. Cream of mushroom soup doesn't bother me too much, but the scientist's response to it is, "Yuck!" And he doesn't hesitate to voice his objection to cream of anything in a can no matter how nice it is that someone else made him a meal. So to be spared that is the third plus to this recipe.

Easy Homemade Chicken Stroganoff is made from scratch, is quite easy, and totally yummy.

The only note I would make is that you might want to hold off on starting the noodles cooking so that they aren't sitting around getting cold while the rest cooks. I actually got all of the chopping done before I started the water heating, and that worked out really well. My noodles only needed to cook for 6 minutes once the water was boiling.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

More Rainbow Loom Creations

Last week I shared some of the bracelets we've made with the Rainbow Loom.  Here are some of the other creations we've made.

An octopus.

A snake.

A little fish and a shark.

A dragonfly.

They are so fun to make ... but your fingers will get sore. Thanks for stopping by!