Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Mike surprised me with an IPad.  Literally, I was shocked and had no idea he had bought one for me. A few weeks ago I mentioned I would like one. But I didn’t think I would be getting one any time soon, and it wasn’t even on my wish list for Christmas.

Even better, he actually got a picture of my complete surprise.

I think he is the best husband ever…..

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. More to share soon.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From my family to yours….
Final Christmas Card 2010
Pictures we have displayed for the holidays around the house from our photo shoot with Maggie Holmes.
8x10FR Photo
Digital brushes by Ali Edwards and Katie Pertiet, at Designer Digitals and Ali Edwards font.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Too Soon to Say Goodbye

Linda Rettberg, 10/16/1946 - 12/11/2010

One week ago yesterday I lost one of my best friends, my confidante, my hero, The person who gave me drive to want better. The woman who taught me to speak up for myself. This beautiful, loving, generous woman who is my Mom.

Saying goodbye to my Mother is something I don’t think I have even begun to absorb. One thing that struck me these past few weeks as I spoke with family members and Mom’s friends was something I have always known about her. They all said to me that Mom was the strongest woman that they knew, she inspired them with her courage and happiness. Mom was a fighter, she was strong and she was a hero to me.

For twelve years we watched her battle cancer with strength, resolve and dignity. Even when she was scared, she was strong for her family and reassured us she would fight it and win.  All during this time she continued to work and live her life, although she may have slowed down more recently, she still kept busy with the life she loved. She loved decorating and taking care of her home, spending time with her husband Dion and cuddling with her three little dogs: Brandi, Megan and Missy.

She still worked through almost 7 years of non-stop chemotherapy treatment, only stopping work after starting treatments for the cancer that had spread to her bone marrow. A treatment that would leave her so tired, she would not be able to go to work. That was just about 5 weeks before she left us.

Shortly after starting the bone marrow chemotherapy, she was very sick. She was sent of an MRI and was told the cancer had spread to her brain. She started chemotherapy within days. After 3 treatments she was so weak she couldn't eat or drink. She went to the hospital for the first time since having her mastectomy over 12 years ago. 

She never regained her strength and after a week my Mom chose to go into hospice care. We hoped she would come home under this care and we would have a few more months. But there was another plan. Just 4 days after arriving at the hospice facility, she passed peacefully with Dion and me at her side. 

I have so many memories of my Mom that I will be able to hold in my heart. We looked forward to Sunday afternoons when she would come by to visit us. She always brought cookies and treats for Nicholas and Jackson.  Nicholas calls her Nana Cookie. Today was Sunday and earlier I thought I wonder if Mom is coming over today, and realized she wouldn't be.

She loved being a Nana and after we had Nicholas and Jackson she was happy to get to see them often.  My brothers children live out of state and she always wished she could see them more than once or twice a year. It will be my mission to make sure my boys know their Nana, although she is no longer here with us, she loved and adored all of her grandsons. And I want them to know that. Nicholas was very attached to her and I still haven't found the words to explain to him that she is not with us here anymore, but will always be looking out for us. I want to cry everytime he asks if Nana feels better or asks Where's Nana?

I loved to make Thanksgiving dinner with my mom each year. Most years all the dishes were  made from scratch. I ran "Thanksgiving Boot Camp" and my Mom and I worked along side each other preparing several things we loved. My stuffing may never be the same, as she was a key ingredient, she would taste test it until it was seasoned perfectly. Thanksgiving was one of her favorite holidays.

This year Mom had just started radiation therapy for the brain cancer, so it took all her energy to just come for a couple of hours. And sadly it turned out to be the last actual meal she really ate in her last 2 weeks with us.

When we were kids Mom would take us on the weekends to get fried chicken or a hot dog for a treat out. Simple things, that made us happy.When we were growing up Mom would sacrifice for herself to make sure we didn't go without anything. At times it must have been hard when she was on her own, but looking back, she made it look easy. She always let us know that my brother and I were very important to her.

When it was just Mom and me living at her townhouse in Aliso Viejo, we would take walks after work and then chat some more over a glass of wine. Saturdays, of course, were spent cleaning and she taught me everything I could ever want to know about that.

We talked on the phone often about anything and everything. I will miss being able to just pick up the phone and know she will be there. When I had good news or was upset she was who I wanted to talk to. I looked forward to just chatting with her about anything and everything. Yesterday I thought, I should call Mom, and realized I no longer could.

Today, my Mom's husband, Dion came by and brought me a mini album I had made for my Mom in 2004 for Mother's Day. As I looked at it through tears the words I wrote then were very much the same I would write today. 

These were two of my favorite pages from the album:

What I Love About You
There are so many things I love about you. I love that you are my friend. I love that you like to have fun and aren't afraid to be silly. I love that you take good care of yourself. I love your smile. I love your laugh. I love that you love your kids so much. I love that you always have an opinion. I love that you have so much energy. I love that you are my little mom. I love that your house looks like it belongs in a magazine. I love that we cook Thanksgiving dinner together each year and have fun doing it. But most of all I love you.

What You Taught Me
  • To have fun
  • Everything happens for a reason
  • To love your family
  • To treat others with respect
  • To take care of myself
  • How to clean anything
  • To be myself
  • To be silly sometimes
  • To go after my dreams
  • How to shop

All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my Mother.

The book closed with the lyrics to Celine Dion's song, "Because You Loved Me". I know I am a better person, because my Mother loved me.

We laid Mom to rest on Friday in a beautiful service that celebrated who she was. I was thankful for her friends that came and talked to us about their memories of Mom. 

Now I must figure out how to pick up the pieces and go on.

I love you mama. You will always be in my heart. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

ScrapTiffany's Thrifty Thursday

It's Thrifty Thursday today on the ScrapTiffany blog and it was my turn to post. I wrote about how I got thrifty with my Thickers. Here's a peek....

Head on over to ScrapTiffany to see the rest.

Monday, December 6, 2010

ScrapTiffany Monday

This week at ScrapTiffany was handmade flowers. I made mine by punching several circles and adhering them together, folding them to make petals and then forming my flower with the petals. 

Check out what the other ladies did at ScrapTiffany

Last week I was consumed with dealing with putting my mom and the hospital, so I didn't get around to posting last week's ScrapTiffany challenge.  It was a sketch challenge week, and this was my take on it.

You can see last week's challenge here and here over at ScrapTiffany.

Have a great Monday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chocolate Mint M&M Cookies

I recently picked up a bag of these...

and of course I needed to do something with them right?

So I thought they would be great in some Chocolate Cookies.  After looking around the internet for some ideas, I made up my own, by substituting some peppermint extract into a pretty basic chocolate cookie recipe. That added just the right hint of mint to the cookies.  I think it would be great if you had some peppermint oil instead. 

Chocolate Mint M&M Cookies

2 sticks of butter 
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp peppermint extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

With an electric mixer beat butter sugar, eggs and peppermint extract until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl measure flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and whisk together with a fork.

Stir in Mint M&M's and drop onto parchment paper (or splat mat) on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 7-9 minutes. Let cool on pan and then transfer to wire rack. 

Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

Nicholas enjoyed helping too....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas, Weekend Round Up and a Turkey

I've been MIA lately, with a lot going on. Last week we received some upsetting family news, and the end of the week was spent processing it. 

Work has been crazy lately, we are consolidating our office with our Denver office and everything is moving to our office here in Phoenix. So work life has been busy in interviewing, hiring and planning for this transition. Oh, and it is year end, and I am an accountant. 

I have been working a lot of hours lately, and seeing my family less than I would like. But, I know I am lucky that I will still have my job after this transition. 

And because of my busy work schedule, at home it is beginning to look....

a lot like.....Christmas.....

(p.s. the picture for the frame is being printed today to go with the Christmas theme)

Yes, we put up our tree and decorations the weekend before Thanksgiving. I have to work the Friday after Turkey Day and we host the meal every year. So several years ago we stopped trying to do it all after Thanksgiving and moved the inside decorating to a week before. I have a few finishing touches to add after a trip to the store, so I will share some more photos soon.

It was sad putting this away.

Turkey does really get the short stick. (Although the Halloween stuff was gone a few weeks ago).

Friday night this crazy boy....

...crawled out of his bed....twice. He hasn't tried it again. But we did buy a toddler bed over the weekend just in case. Unfortunately the crib tent doesn't work on his style of crib. Stinker!

Mike put all the trees up last week (yes, all means 3, 5 if you count the small ones in the boys rooms).  On Saturday he took the boys out during the day so I could do all the rest of the decorations. Then Saturday night we all enjoyed the tradition Mike and I have had for years. Munchies and snacks while enjoying our now decorated house.

Sunday we just hung out and rested.  I have picked up the cold that the rest of the family is getting over. So we just laid low...

As we head into the home stretch for my two favorite holidays of the year, our challenge at ScrapTiffany this week was Food/Recipes. So on honor of the big bird I'll be cooking later this week, I featured Turkey My Way.   I have perfected my bird over the past 15 years that I have been the holiday host. And I am pretty proud of it.

I'll give you two of my secrets, a fresh organic turkey and Reynolds Oven Bags. The rest is my secret, ;)

Head over to ScrapTiffany to see what the other designers did.

Just a peek at one of the pictures from our recent photo shoot with Maggie Holmes. We are lucky that she lives nearby. We met Maggie a few weeks ago and late last week picked up our photos. 

I'll share some more tomorrow.  Have a great Monday. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Birthday Boy Weekend & ScrapTiffany Monday

Last week got away from me, and I didn't get a chance to post the winner for my drawing from the ScrapTiffany Holiday Blog Hop.  So without further delay the winner is (as picked by

 Scrapfaire said...

Red Velvet Cake is a must for Christmas! Love your recipe file!
November 8, 2010 4:58 AM

Congratulations!  E-mail me here to claim your box of goodies.  
Mike and I did some Christmas shopping on Friday night at Toys R Us. Our first date night in about a year. Santa will be making 2 little boys very happy this year.
After shopping, we did get to go out to a grown up dinner at Dvine Wine and Bistro. It was fabulous. We splurged and had bruschetta for an appetizer, shared a bowl of potato bacon soup, and then we both ordered the filet mingon for dinner. We finished it off with a Kahlua Mouse Chocolate Cake.  And to go with dinner we had a fantastic bottle of wine, Opolo Moutain Zin - '06 Paso Robles. Oh to be a grown up again.
Jackson's birthday party was this weekend.  He really loves the Yo Gabba Gabba show on Nick Jr. I bought tickets last week to take him to the live show coming in a few weeks. When the music starts for the show, it doesn't matter where he is in the house, he comes running to watch.
I had the "brilliant" idea to make Yo Gabba Gabba the party theme. Of course that was before I realized that there were no themed decorations to go with said theme.  Add this to the ton of hours I have been working, and it leaves me in a jam. I didn't have much creative time to make decorations, but I had bought a couple of things to go with the theme already.
So we improvised with printable decorations from the Nick Jr site, a few scrap supplies and some colorful decorations from the disco and general birthday sections at Party City.

I attempted to make the cake match the theme.

I was pretty happy with the banner.

Even the birthday cards were Yo Gabba Gabba (printables and wrapping paper on a card base, with StayzOn ink for the stamped message).

Party time...while Daddy grilled dinner, we played outside...

Nicholas worked on his picture taking skills....

As taken by Nicholas....

After dinner was presents....

Then of course cake....

I made a pumpkin spice cake with pumpkin cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Jackson ate 2 pieces. So I guess he liked it as much as the rest of us.

And I need to dig out the camera manual because of all the pictures that should have been great turned out blurry. I am blurring the focal point and getting the background sharp. Not sure what I did to the settings to make that happen. But it is frustrating.

Last week the ScrapTiffany team participated in the Hippity Hop Blog Hop, which was a collaboration of a few challenge blog sites. The hop is over but you can still check out the posts starting here at the Sassy Lil' Sketches blog.  I didn't have any time to post anything as the week progressed. But I will now share the layout I did for the Blog Hop challenge. 

It was a recipe challenge where each blog added one ingredient to the "recipe" to use for your layout:

Sketch from Sassy Lil' Sketches
Use 3 of the same thing from ScrapFit
Use ink paint or mist or all 3 from Crop Suey
Use some Lace from ScrapTiffany
Use some texture or embossing from Cuttlebug Spot

So here is mine....

How I made mine...

Sketch - Kept the overall general design in tact
Use 3 of the same thing - Stars were my pick for 3
Use ink paint or mist or all 3 - I chose some Studio Calico Mr. Huey's for my banner with a base coat and a spritz of white on top for a splattered look.
Use some Lace from ScrapTiffany - Lace designed paper
Use some texture or embossing from Cuttlebug Spot -  Circle journal spot embossed with my Cuttlebug

And finally, this weeks challenge for ScrapTiffany was to use crepe paper. So I bought some to decorate for Jackson's party so I would have some for a layout.

Here is what I did...

I stitched the crepe paper down to make my sky background. I thought it would rip, but it worked just fine. I found some vellum in my stash and used my new Fiskars Cloud punches to make my clouds.

I also played with some new Martha Stewart punches I have recently picked up on clearance and during last weeks Veterans Day sale at Michaels.  Martha Stewart now has some punch anywhere punches in some basic shapes and designs so I punched out my journaling spot and added some paper behind it. There are a few other newer Martha punches I am going to have to get my hands on one coupon at a time, of course.

Now it is time to get ready for work, and another busy full week. Hope you have a great one!