Vegas Mini Album by Missy Whidden

Friday, March 31, 2017

Are you ready to see Missy Whidden's first official mini album?! You know it's going to be amazing because, well, everything she makes is amazing! She combined all three of my Pink Paislee collections to create a beautiful book of art and memories. Take a look!
Hey, friends! Missy here with something a little different… a mini album! I was a little nervous when I found out this was my assignment, but once I found an idea it turned out to be lots of fun! I decided to do a small travel-themed mini album shaped like a little suitcase. I found the cut file in Silhouette and I die cut it from white cardstock then I used distress inks and spray inks to color it brown. I had eight small pages to work with, so I printed out several tiny pictures of me and my sister on our recent trip to Las Vegas. I treated each page like a mini scrapbook page and even did a little gesso and mixed media work on them! I used products from the Oh My HeartTake Me Away, and Fancy Free collections.
When the album is all folded up, it really does look like a tiny suitcase! I tied it together with some pink embroidery thread and added a few of the Charms for even more cuteness. For the cover I added a piece of white cardstock and then spray inked a little bit on it. I also added some Heidi Swapp gold Color Shine because everything is shiny in Vegas! I created my title using the Thickers from Oh My Heart. When you open it, it looks like an accordion. I love this style of album because I know it’s not going to fall apart when it’s opened. It was easy to embellish each page and I kept it pretty flat so it folds back up nicely without too much bulk.
It spreads out flat very easily as well. I like how I can see all the pages at once. It’s big enough to hold just enough of my photos but small enough that it’s short, sweet, and to the point.

For the first spread, I started with Paper 05 from Take Me Away. It has Nevada on it which was perfect! I used a photo of us on the plane. The “here we go” stickers are from the Oh My Heart Sticker Book. I added a foiled heart die cut from the Fancy Free Ephemera Die Cuts and stitched through it. I used Paper 04 from Fancy Free for my second background and then used the “weekend” square from Oh My Heart Paper 16 and a Fancy Free die cut. I loved mixing and matching the collections!
My next two pages have Fancy Free Paper 12 and a 6x6 Paper Pad piece. Again, I mixed and matched. The flower die cut is from the Take Me Away Ephemera Die Cuts, the dotted piece is from the Fancy Free Ephemera Die Cuts, and I fussy cut the clipboard from Oh My Heart Paper 16. I also tucked in an Oh My Heart Puffy Sticker under the photo.  For the next page, I used more of the Take Me Away Ephemera Die Cuts and Fancy Free 6x6 Paper Pad. The black “More Fun” circle was cut from Oh My Heart Paper 16, and the “selfie” sticker is from the Sticker Book.
I decided not to use a photo on the next page. Instead, I broke things up by using a cut apart 3x4 piece from Fancy Free Paper 01 as my background. I used one of the Fancy Free acetate Ephemera pieces and stitched it down. Page six has Take Me Away Paper 09 as the background and a fussy cut piece from Oh My Heart Paper 16 again. I got a lot of use from that one paper! I added some tangled thread for a pop of aqua.
For the next page, I used Take Me Away Paper 20 for my background. I kept it simple by just adding a fussy cut ticket from Oh My Heart Paper 16 and a “weekend trip” tag from the Take Me Away Ephemera Die Cuts. I used the back of Take Me Away Paper 05 for the background of the last page. I layered another cut out from Oh My Heart Paper 16, added some thread, and called it done. I did go back and do some machine stitching on each page and added a small bit of journaling!
Check out the process video for this mini album:

I hope this inspires you to get out of your comfort zones and try something new! Although I was nervous to start something that wasn’t a layout, I really enjoyed the process once I got started. It’s fun to go in a different direction once in awhile!
 SUPPLIES: OH MY HEARTPaper 01Paper 09Paper 16CharmsSticker BookThickersTAKE ME AWAYPaper 05Paper 20Ephemera Die CutsFANCY FREE: Paper 01, Paper 04, Paper 12, 6x6 Paper Pad, Ephemera Die Cuts
Blog:  Instagram: @missywhidden  Pinterest: @missywhidden
Facebook: missy.whidden  YouTube: Missy Whidden
I couldn't agree more with Missy when she says "it's fun to go in a different direction once in awhile"! 99% of the time I make 12x12 layouts. They're my favorite. So when I'm asked to make a pocket page or mini album or card I panic a little, but once I get started it's soooo much fun! Thanks for joining me and Missy today! Be back soon!

Closed Tubes

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I never know how much is too much to share. The struggle is real. Sometimes people overshare sometimes people undershare (I want to know and see what my friends are up to when they travel or when they're expecting, big life events, etc!). So I'm going to write this post, but there's a very good chance I'll delete it within a few hours.
When Chris and I got married one of the things we talked about was how many kids we wanted to have. Answer: 4. He comes from a family of 5 and I come from 3 so 4 seems like the perfect in between and balanced number. 4 kids in 10 years was our goal.
We got married in May 2007. Fast forward 2.5 years later to around October 2009 and we had just gotten Joey our dog as a puppy and I was working at a deadbeat job (still scrapbooking on the side but it wasn't paying the bills and I was still the breadwinner at this point while Chris was in dental school). I felt a little lost and like my life was going nowhere and had no purpose. It was then we prayed about it and decided that becoming parents would be awesome and fulfilling!
First month: negative pregnancy test.
Well crap!
Second month: negative pregnancy test. 
Oh no! We're broken!!
Third month: positive pregnancy test! 
It was a very easy pregnancy, I only barfed a few times (which is one of my worst fears). I did gain like 75 pounds, but it all came off except for those last few darn 10 pounds.
Fox Thomas Evans was born easily and without complications, with a blessed epidural, on a beautiful day in Hollywood on October 14th 2010.
When Fox was about 8 months old I had a premonition at, get this, the Princess Pavilion at Disneyland that a little girl was waiting and wanted to be born in our family (funnily enough Jane really isn't into princess a whole bunch, ha!). And so we started trying once again to expand our family.
June 2011: negative pregnancy test.
July 2011: negative pregnancy test. 
August 2011: negative pregnancy test. 
DANGIT! What was wrong??? It only took three months to get pregnant with Fox!
September 2011: negative pregnancy test. 
October 2011: negative pregnancy test.
I was so sad and upset every. single. month.
November 2011: POSITIVE PREGNANCY TEST! Yay we weren't broken!!
Again, blessedly and thankfully, another easy pregnancy. I only barfed a few times. I found out I was having a GIRL! I still gained tons of weight and again those last 10 pounds refused to budge, but all was worth it for my little Jane Catherine Evans born on July 28th 2012 WITHOUT an epidural (not by choice!).
Having Fox and Jane just shy of 22 months apart was hard but also has been such a blessing. I'm also glad looking back that we DIDN'T get pregnant the first month we tried or they'd be only 18 months apart and I think that would have been harder for me. 22 months was perfect for us.
So remember, we wanted 4 kids. We've been so happy with our Fox and Jane. A perfect little family traveling all around Europe and "living the life" as my dad always says. I told myself, "When Jane sleeps through the night we'll start trying again". She FINALLY started sleeping through the night at around 2.5 years old, but I just didn't feel ready. So then I said, okay, after this big road trip. That road trip came and went. Okay, after this cruise. After that cruise. Cruises came and went. Okay then, after CHA. Finally, after CHA 2016, I felt like it was time. I also then realized that Jane would be almost 4 by the time we had another kid if we got pregnant right away. I never meant to have kids 4 years apart, let alone now we're going on almost 6 years apart!
February 2016: negative pregnancy test.
March 2016: negative pregnancy test.
April 2016: negative pregnancy test.
May 2016: negative pregnancy test.
June 2016: negative pregnancy test.
July 2016: negative pregnancy test.
August 2016: negative pregnancy test.
I was officially sad and disappointed and upset and depressed. We had now been trying for longer than it took to get pregnant with Jane.
September 2016: negative pregnancy test.
October 2016: negative pregnancy test.
November 2016: negative pregnancy test.
December 2016: negative pregnancy test.
January 2017: negative pregnancy test.
February 2017: negative pregnancy test.
I finally gave in and contacted a fertility clinic and my first appointment was at the end of February 2017. I was hoping I'd miraculously get pregnant and not have to go through any of this. At the first appointment I met with a very nice doctor and she did an ultrasound and all looked good and normal with my uterus and eggs. Chris came in a week later and everything looks good on his end.
March 2017: negative pregnancy test.
I was so hoping for a positive test again to avoid this hassle. Instead I went in for my 2nd appointment on day 3 of my cycle and they took three vials of blood. 
Today was my 3rd appointment, day 9 of my cycle. From the blood tests everything looks good except my thyroid was a little high or low, I can't remember. The doctor was going to prescribe me some pills. I was going to ask for Clomid, the miracle drug!
But then he did a dye test to see if there was anything blocking my tubes.
The dye didn't even go through my tubes.
Problem found.
I am sooooo sad. Why are my tubes closed/blocked? What happened? Is it something I could have prevented? Am I too old to have more kids? Is our family complete at 4? If so, I wish I would have savored those pregnancy and baby moments more than I did!
Now what?
The next step is to have surgery where they go in and see what's blocking my tubes and if they can fix it and then we'd have a slightly higher chance of getting pregnant. If not, the next step would be IVF. It's a lot for me to process right now. I never thought we'd have this much trouble getting pregnant after getting pregnant pretty easily with Fox and Jane. Jane keeps drawing pictures of me with a baby in my belly!! She wants to be a big sister so badly.
I also just want to add that I know I am so very deeply blessed to have Fox and Jane. I know so so so many others who can never have children. If we are done having children, I am happy, I feel complete, and we may even go down the adoption road if that's what our prayers prompt us to do!
And so, I end asking for a prayer and any words of wisdom or advice you may have. We are now officially struggling with infertility. Welcome to the club :)

2-Page Spread for SCT

When Megan first assigned me a 2-page spread for the Spring 2017 issue I'll be honest, I panicked a wee bit! I haven't made a 2-page spread in... I literally can't remember! I tried thinking of a way to make a page still in my traditional style and thought, hey, I could use both the positive and negative of a big die cut heart! And then these came together quick & easy. Phew!
FOX & JANE by Paige Evans
DESCRIPTION: By using both the positive and negative pieces of a big die cut this 2-page spread came together in a snap!
JOURNALING SAYS: Being your mom is the best "job" in the whole wide world. I am so lucky to have such an amazing, healthy, happy, and loving son and daughter. I count my blessings every day!
HOW TO: Trim 1" strips from lots and lots of patterned papers then use scissors to fringe them. Arrange the strips in rainbow order down a white cardstock background. Die cut a heart to use as a template, place it on the back of the layered paper, and carefully trace and cut out the heart from the center. Use the cut out fringed heart as the centerpiece on another white cardstock background. Add machine stitching details to both pages. Print black & white photos and adhere them to the pages. Create the title on the negative page and adhere typed and trimmed journaling onto the positive page. Embellish with die cuts and stickers from Oh My Heart.
SUPPLIES: Patterned paper, stickers (chipboard, puffy), Thickers, die cuts: Oh My Heart by Paige Evans / Pink Paislee; Cardstock, adhesive: American Crafts; Sewing machine: Brother; Thread: Coats & Clark; Die cut machine: Silhouette Cameo 3; Font: Remington Noiseless; Fringe scissors: Martha Stewart Crafts
Tell me, are you a fan of 2-page spreads? Or do you prefer to make single pages?

Southeast Malta

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One of the best aspects of Malta is the natural beauty of the island. After checking out Valletta and Mdina, our next day was spent traipsing across the southeast corner of the island.
First stop: the prehistoric megalithic temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnahjdra.
These complexes are the best preserved and most intriguing of Malta's prehistoric sites. The first temple we reached was Ħaġar Qim with its impressive trilithon entrance. It dates from 3600 to 3000BC.

Some of these massive stones weigh upwards of 20 tons! How these ancient peoples maneuvered these into place is still a mystery.

The temples were originally roofed over, probably with corbelled stone (like the beehive huts in western Ireland), but these have long since collapsed. However, the massive supporting walls remain.
The complexes have been covered by canopies to protect them from the elements - they're supposed to last 30 years and in the meantime scientists are working on a different solution.
It was about a half-mile walk down to the Mnajdra temple site and the weather was perfect and the views were magnificent.
Mnajdra is the more elaborate complex with three temples side-by-side, each with its own trefoil plan and unique orientation.
The decoration and texture they carved on the stones was super cool.

Just off the coast to the south of these temples is the islet of Filfla, the smallest of Malta's five island archipelago. When the British controlled the island, their military used the island for target practice! In 1970 Filfla was declared a nature reserve and is home to two species of lizard and snail not found anywhere else in the whole wide world. Visitors aren't allowed to visit since unexploded shells from the British armed forces still lie in the surrounding waters... yikes!
Then we hopped back in our rental car and drove just a few minutes east along the coast to the town of Wied iż-Żurrieq. You can see the little Maltese boats queuing up to take visitors to the famous Blue Grotto.
Awesome Minis in the parking lot.

The tiny harbor town is set in a narrow inlet in the cliffs off the coast and is the departure point for those looking to see the Blue Grotto by boat.
Shimmering, sparkling, bejeweled sea.

A few cafes and stores sit above the little harbor and are a great place to sit and take in the views and sun.
But, ain't nobody got time for that! We had things to do and grottos to see so we made our way down to the boats.
The brightly colored fishing boats that crowd this and other harbors around the coast have become one of Malta's national symbols. Painted boldly in blue, red, and yellow, with the watchful "Eyes of Osiris" on the bows to ward off evil spirits, these boats carry much of the heritage and history of this island nation.
Reminds me of Greece with all the blue and white.
We're on a boat. Almost.
After getting our tickets we boarded the next available boat and pushed out to sea!
These boat trips take in seven caves along with the Blue Grotto and give visitors a great, sea-level view of the gorgeous coastline.
Peaking through a window. Maybe in a few hundred (thousand? million?) years this will be a new Azure Window for visitors to marvel at. The real Azure Window collapsed just two days before our visit. Very sad day for Malta - half of the tourist maps, postcards, trinkets, paraphernalia, and pamphlets will have to be reprinted sans the Azure Window since it's no longer there.
The water was so clear and blue!

The highlight of the excursion is seeing (and going through and under) the massive Blue Grotto, a huge natural arch in the sea cliffs.
It was so pretty!
After finishing our boat ride we drove up to the lookout point on the cliffs above to admire the Blue Grotto from land. Gorgeous.
Looking south from the southern coast of Malta.
We continued circling around to the east to our next stop at the Għar Dalam Cave and Museum.
The kids loved the colorful benches along the pathway down to the cave and asked me to snap pictures of them. Gladly!

Għar Dalam is a 145m long limestone cave that has yielded a huge array of fossil bones and teeth. The lowermost layers of the cavern are over 500,000 years old and held the remains of everything from dwarf elephants to hippopotamuses to micro-mammals and birds.

There was a beehive at the entrance and the buzzzzzzzing echoed so loudly throughout! Poor Jane was in a right state because she's terrified of bees after running away from one last summer which resulted in her falling down a hill and breaking her collar bone. I'll never forget that sound!  
All the animals are of European type, suggesting to archeologists that the island was once attached to Italy rather than northern Africa.

Last stop: St. Peter's Pool!
Our little adventurer Jane was ready to strip down to her swimming suit and hop in!

The seas were a little too wild for the kids to really dive in because of the crazy winds and waves so we consoled them by getting splashed and playing around in the little pools that filled up with the larger waves.
"Pele" seems to be a frequent swimmer here.
The large, flat expanse of rocks around the swimming spot make for the perfect sunbathing platform.

Such an awesome natural wonder!
Snippets of our day:
And that concludes our fabulous trip to Malta! I highly recommend adding it to your bucketlist! Fun for everyone!
Our next big adventure: a road trip through southern France all the way to the micro-country Andorra and back!
Paige Taylor Evans © // Quinn Creatives DESIGN