December Daily 2014 | Days 01-07

The month of November flew by and then before I knew it, December came … and the month is flying by.  Hanukkah is 3 days away.  And Christmas is right around the corner. The list is long but things are getting crossed off.

I’m a bit behind in December Daily.  I have the photos and words for each day but the actual documentation is a bit slow.  Today, I’m sharing days 01-07.

December One
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We started the advent calendar with Samuel last year and he loved it.  This year, we kept things simple — we went with a Playmobil Advent Calendar I picked up on clearance at the end of last year.  It’s working out great so far.  He looks forward to it each morning.  We just keep it on the dining table (where he eats breakfast) and he enjoys playing with it each morning.

December 02
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Samuel and I went to the Lego store for the free mini-build giveaway today.  He’s almost four and has decided that he’s ready for Legos.  The pieces are small and he sometimes struggles to put things together, but he loves the challenge. This evening, we made a little gingerbread house.

1412 DDOneToSeven-5I’m using my sewing machine to add some texture to the layouts. I’m experimenting with other stitches on the machine — really love the x’s here.

December 03
1412 DDOneToSeven-20Crazy weather in Sacramento today.  I left work at 3:20 to pick up Samuel and within 5 minutes of my drive, the heavy rain made it impossible to see.  Freeways were backed up and roads were flooded.  It took me over an hour to get to Samuel.  As soon as we got home, Samuel helped me rake leaves from the gutter to allow for proper drainage on our street. He’s a great little helper and I am so thankful for this little guy.

1412 DDOneToSeven-21A close-up shot of more stitching.  

December 04 (left) & December 05 (right)
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We pulled down our small stash of Holiday decorations and ornaments and gift wrap. Samuel is pretty excited that “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

1412 DDOneToSeven-10The “Bring on the Joy – ‘Tis the Season” masking tape in the Ali Edward’s December Daily kit is pretty bad ass.  I love it and am using it a lot … I will definitely be sad when I use it all up. And I can’t get enough of the gold stars.  

1412 DDOneToSeven-12Saucy, Samuel’s Elf, made a comeback on the fifth of December. I used my sewing machine to stitch the red boxes and a sharpie to write in his name.

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The story of Saucy’s visit is behind the photo.

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The components of Day 05 — I printed a couple photos and adhered them back to back and used the masking tape to attach it to Saucy’s note to Samuel.  It folds up and fits in the 4×6 pocket.

December 06
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We picked up a tree at a new tree lot this year. I’m in love with the place and think we will be back next year. Our favorite tree is the Noble Fir (from Oregon).

1412 DDOneToSeven-29I’m still looking for the perfect journaling pen.  Haven’t found one I really love but  the Uniball Vision Elite is becoming a favorite.

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I spent most of today at home at my computer. I made and ordered our holiday cards.  I also processed and exported photos for several holiday projects.

1412 DDOneToSeven-31A close-up of day 07.

Day 08 is in the works.  And so are days 10-12.  I have a story for day 13 — but want to live out the rest of the day before I decide on which story.

Thanks for visiting!

Shrinky Dink Ornaments

Before going to bed last night, Samuel said, “Can we make more ornaments for our tree?”

“Of course, buddy.  We can definitely make more ornaments.”

So this evening, we made this for our tree …
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Yes, folks.  I’m bringing back the Shrinky Dinks. This method, however, does not use the authentic Shrinky Dink sheets.  Rather, I’m recycling plastic to-go containers that you get when you buy a salad (or bring leftovers home from eating out).

141209-SuppliesI’m using these basic supplies — plastic to-go containers, sharpies, a hole puncher, and a toaster oven.  Not all plastic to-go containers will work — make sure you look at the bottom of the container for the number 6 in the recycle symbol.

141209 ShrinkyDinkHotCocoa-5Cut the top and bottom of the containers.  This will be the writing/drawing surface. Rounding the corners is a good idea — otherwise, you may end up with sharp edges once  it shrinks.

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Each container will allow you to make two big Shrinky Dinks (measures approximately 2.25″ x 2.5″ once it shrinks). Or you can make four smaller pieces (size of a dog tag) by cutting the big pieces in half. Because Samuel is learning to write and draw, he needs a bigger surface to work with so I left it as is.

141209 ShrinkyDinkHotCocoa-14I had him sketch his work on a piece of paper about the size of the plastic.

141209 ShrinkyDinkHotCocoa-22I taped the plastic sheet over his artwork and gave him the sharpies to trace his original design. Oh, if you want to string something through it, make sure you punch a cluster of holes at the top.  A single hole will shrink in size and will not be big enough for ribbon or string.

141209 ShrinkyDinkHotCocoa-24Here’s a look at the original artwork and the plastic sheet.

141209-OnTrayOnce we were satisfied with the design, I placed the plastic sheet on a metal tray with a layer of parchment paper between the plastic and tray.

141209 ShrinkyDinkHotCocoa-29I preheated the oven to 325 degrees F and placed the tray in the oven.  We watched it curl and twist and ultimately flatten. There were some suspenseful moments as we watched it curl up on itself.  If it does not come out perfectly flat, use a spatula to flatten it immediately once you remove it from the oven.

141209-SamuelSampleHere’s a look at the original artwork, original size of plastic, and the piece that we shrank. The plastic is thin at the beginning but once it shrinks, it is about a millimeter in thickness.

Isn’t this rad? I absolutely adore his artwork.

That was a lot of work for a three (almost four) year old.  But he loved it so much he wanted to make more.

141209-SamuelSample1When we did it the second time, I did not have him do a rough draft of the artwork. It was a lot of work to draw it out and then trace it. I did not want to discourage him — so I just gave him the plastic and pens and he went at it. He’s learning to draw so I was right there to guide him as needed.

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These little pieces of artwork are so perfect for our tree.  I would like him to do at least one per year — to see how his drawings and writing evolve over time.  I plan to keep extra plastic sheets with the Christmas ornaments so that I remember to have him create at least one drawing per year.

141209-SamuelSample3He also drew this for his friend.

141209-CurledUpSampleBut unfortunately, due to some imperfections in the plastic, it never uncurled.  I tried to pry it open once I took it out of the oven but I could not save it.

But hey, that’s how science works sometimes. This process is really an experiment on polymers — and sometimes things turn out the way we predict. And sometimes, the results are surprising and requires a repeated experiment.  It is all part of the learning process.

He wasn’t upset about it.  He had a positive attitude about it and said, “We’ll try again tomorrow.”

Have fun with your littles!  And share your images on Instagram.  Please tag me so I can see your creations.

Around Here | October 2014

Around here, fall is feeling very much like summer.  I brought out my collection of knit hats only to find myself sweating in them.  This is not cool.

Around here, fall festivities are in full swing — despite the unbearable heat.  We went to the Giant Pumpkin Festival in Elk Grove and loved watching the pumpkin regatta.  141005 GiantPumpkinFestival-48

Around here, I’ve spent too many hours grading papers each night.  This isn’t the fun part of my job.

Around here, Samuel and I are enjoying our Saturday morning outings which consist of having breakfast at Noah’s Bagels (and Starbucks) and a visit to the farmer’s market.140927 BagelsWithSamuel-5

Around here, we met and mingled with our neighbors at the neighborhood Oktoberfest party.  A section of the street was closed off so the kids could roam freely on their bikes and scooters. 141004 Octoberfest

Around here, it was time for another photo shoot of Samuel with his magnificent steeds. He is still taking riding lessons and thoroughly enjoys horses — especially the draft horses. We recently went to the Draft Horse Classics and he visited with Belgians, Shires, and Percherons. 141005 FortheLoveOfHorses-25

Around here, Samuel is taking soccer lessons so we are booked every Saturday morning in the month of October and November.  There are 30 3-year-olds in the class with three coaches — total chaos.  Lesson learned — we are never signing him up for this again.141004 Soccer-5

Around here, he is enjoying time with his sister.  While at the Giant Pumpkin Festival, Samuel saw some friends of ours and yelled, “Hey, Becky!  This is my sister.  Come meet my sister!  This is my sister!!”  It was the cutest thing ever.141005 GiantPumpkinFestival-117

Around here, I can always count on Superman to come to my rescue.  140930 Reading&Superman-25
Around here, I sneak into his room while he sleeps and watch quietly.  I love these moments (and all the other moments in between).  141003 SleepingWithDog-2

Around here, these two adore each other.  They play hard and love deeply.  What more could you ask for?  Childhood at its best.141005 AshlynFourBday-126

Around here, my workspace could use some serious attention.  I have piles everywhere.

Around here, I am excited about Cathy Zielske’s upcoming class, Me: The Abridged Version.  I am taking her class — and will be documenting my story.

Around here, I am reading Gone Girl.

Around here, I am eating emerald grapes like candy.  Man, they are good.

Around here, I am watching The Amazing Race and Parenthood (so sad it’s the final season).  I am also checking out some of the new fall shows — haven’t found one I really like yet.

Around here, I’ve decided to make time to blog again.  And share my pages.  Instagram took over my world for awhile but I’d like to get back on here — and post more regularly.

Adventures in Quilting

I started collecting fabric for an I-spy quilt for Samuel when he was in the womb. I knew that I wanted a big quilt so I figured it would take me years to collect enough fabric. I was really hoping that I would collect enough fabric and get it done before he turned 18. Ha! Then last summer, I threw the idea out at several girlfriends and within a month, we had a fabric swap. The goal was to make the quilt in time for Christmas — I like to give him something handmade at Christmas.  Obviously, that did not pan out. The quilt moved onto my summer project list.  And about two weeks ago, I gathered the fabric and went to work.140709-Quilt01 After several google searches for I-spy quilts, I came across Katie Blakesley’s design.   I fell in love with it immediately and used her tutorial to get me going.  It took me two evenings to lay out the squares – I had to walk away from it for a bit to make sure I liked the placement of the individual pieces. 140709-Layout For each block, I decided to go with alternating light and dark prints.  I spent about two days piecing + pressing the blocks together.  There were moments of elation (when the corners all lined up perfectly — there aren’t that many so please do not look closely) … and many moments of frustration (grrrr …my lines are not always straight even though I use a 1/4″ foot as a guide and the two pieces I sew do not always line up).  But hey, I finished. I chose 10 solid fabrics to border the blocks and strategically placed them so that the colors did not repeat in rows or columns.  140719-Strips 140721-Quilt It took me about a day to sew all the blocks together and then I was ready to quilt.  I quilt using (somewhat) straight lines.  I love the look of sewing several straight lines close together so there’s a lot of that happening on this quilt.140723-Quilting Quilting is challenging on a small machine.  Having a quilting extender and a walking foot made the process just a bit easier.  After a full day of quilting, I was ready to bind. A couple of my friends recommended machine binding for a quicker finish but I love the look of hand binding.  140724-Binding

The finished quilt is approximately 60″ x 80″.  There are 150 squares with about 140 different prints. Here’s a look at the finished product …140727 IspyQuilt-2

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The back.  Rather than just using one print on the back, I love adding a little color to break things up. 140727 IspyQuilt-7Closeups of the quilting + fabrics used.140727 IspyQuilt-17 140727 IspyQuilt-18 140727 IspyQuilt-19

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Close-up of the back.  I found this “I am Sam/Sam I am” print on a recent trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics.  140727 IspyQuilt-27

Playing a game of I-Spy.
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Our games usually involves a lot of jumping + hopping too.140727 IspyQuilt-43

These projects are laborious — as you all know.  But when you see smiles like these, it is so worth it. This boy really has a love for handmade things.140727 IspyQuilt-56140727 IspyQuilt-59

Mother’s Day Weekend

Tulips from my loves.140509 Mother'sDayTea-3 Mother’s Day performance and tea party at his school.140509 Mother'sDayTea-26 He was pretty stoked about giving me the gifts he made at school.140509 Mother'sDayTea-58 New tradition | Friday Family Game Night — all of us at the table, playing games with no technological interruptions.140509 Mother'sDayTea-61 Met some friends at Starbucks on Saturday morning.140510 MeettheMachines-3 Took him to the Meet the Machines event in Rancho Cordova.  He is in love with fire trucks, garbage trucks + monster trucks.140510 MeettheMachines-24 He is really into playing doctor.140510 MeettheMachines-99 On Saturday evening, we went to the Dixon May Fair.  He was pretty thrilled about driving the monster-sized tractors.2014-05-10-17.38 The Dixon May Fair turned out to be a total dud.  No horses.  The most exciting thing there was our shadows.  Ha!2014-05-10-17.44 We waited at the train stop to ride the extremely slow moving train.  Waited.  And waited. We eventually gave up and left.  140510 DixonMayFair-38 Mother’s Day breakfast at Lumberjacks.  My guys love this place.2014-05-11-08.55 He is amusing.2014-05-11-09.32 Made a trip to the store for jam supplies to make mulberry jam.2014-05-11-10.05 Afternoon run – 3 miles of solitude. 2014-05-11-14.53 He is a joy.140511 Mother'sDay-9 Beside him is his pal, Snaky Snake.  Snaky Snake is 3 years old and loves to be petted and enjoys swimming in the water.  He concocted an entire story about this imaginary snake using Jim’s bathrobe tie and had me pet him. 140511 Mother'sDay-31 I am in love with this boy.140511 Mother'sDay-103 And I think he loves me too. Happy Mother’s Day.

Day in the Life | 05.08.14

7:00am | Samuel comes into my room asking for water.  Since the light is still blue on his tot-clock, we go back to bed + snuggle.  He’s an early riser.  I’m not.
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8:02am | up + put on contacts.  Make coffee.140508 DayintheLife-13

8:30am | It is garbage day around here so the making of breakfast is interrupted with trips outside to see the garbage man + truck.
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8:45 am | He keeps me company at the counter while I make breakfast.
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8:54am | Breakfast.  I’m a big fan of turkey bacon.
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9:15am | Dishes.  Samuel pretends to be cowboy Small and rides his horse in a show.  I’m asked to be the announcer.

9:30am | Sword fight.  He is strong.  And he takes it pretty seriously.
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9:51am | And we are finally out the door for a run/walk.
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10:40am | There is a group of men removing a tree in the neighborhood and there is a BIG crane involved so we stopped for the show.
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11:30am | Safeway trip for fruit.
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11:50am | Jamba Juice stop — we love pomegranate pick-me-up.
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1:30pm | stories + snuggles before afternoon nap.140508 DayintheLife-97

2:18pm | While he naps, I eat a late lunch, unpack groceries and pick up around the house. Call Hobby Lobby to locate the new Project Life Aqua Edition.  No luck.
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3:10pm | Check on Samuel.  Call for eye appointment.
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3:30pm | Reading the new copy of Click magazine.
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4:02pm | Wake Samuel up from his nap.  The first thing he asks me, “Mom, where did you put the mints that we bought today?”  He’s a big fan of Andes mints.
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4:20pm | Wash grapes for a snack + head outside for some fresh air.
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4:35pm | Transplant green bean plants.  My goal of keeping the garden green is working out beautifully so far …
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5:15pm | Impromptu family picture.
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5:24pm | Jim and Samuel sent me some flowers for Mother’s Day.  Jim left them at school so we decide to make the drive to Elk Grove to pick up my flowers + have dinner at El Novillero’s.
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7:15pm | My boys sent me tulips for Mother’s Day.
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7:40pm | Evening snack — outshine popsicles.
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8:00pm | Read The Three Little Pigs.  He found the story pretty amusing.
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8:05pm | Give Samuel a shower + get him ready for bed.
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8:50pm | my turn to read to Samuel.  There’s a great collection of books to choose from.140508 DayintheLife-296

9:15pm | I settle on the couch to record notes + watch an episode of CSI.

9:45pm | Late night snack – cucumbers + tajin seasoning.  Gotta stop these late evening snacks if I’m ever going to lose some weight …2014-05-08 22.02.44

10:02pm | Too tired to work.  Decide to watch a second episode of CSI.

11:16pm | Off to read + sleep.

Happy Easter.

As a kid, I remember setting up all the Easter egg hunts for my siblings.  It has been quite awhile since then so I feel a bit out of practice.

There has been a lot of talk about the Easter Bunny lately.  Samuel is curious about how he works — whether he operates like Santa or not.  He woke up this morning forgetting all about Easter and played quietly in his room until about 8 am (so we got to sleep in)!  Shortly after 8, I hear his feet pitter-pattering into our room and he announces, “The light is yellow!  It is time to get up!”  (We use the tot-clock for naps/quiet time and sleep.)

We both tell him that our light is blue and he quickly looks around the room for a tot-clock. He tells us that he doesn’t see a clock but his clock says yellow and it is time to get up.

We slowly make our way out of bed as he returns to his room for some more quiet play.

I walk past his room and say, “Happy Easter.  Today is Easter.”  He stops what he’s doing and quickly says, “Did the Easter Bunny come to our house?”

We make our way to the table for breakfast and he finds this…140420 Easter-2
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We open the egg to find a couple of marshmallows (which he consumed in an instant) and a clue to the next egg.

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After breakfast, we go on a little scavenger hunt for more eggs.

140420 Easter-8He loves marshmallows so I’m surprised he only ate the two at the beginning of the hunt. Perhaps he was more focused on the clues than the treats themselves.

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There was even an egg in the horse trailer!

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The last clue lead him out to the cardboard stable in the backyard.  He went in there to find the last remaining egg … but totally missed the big basket of gifts.

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He made his way back in for the basket.

140420 Easter-24He’s a book lover so he was content looking at the new sticker book in the basket.

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The love affair with Legos has begun.  I got him a Lego Junior kit and he is enjoying his first build.

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140420 Easter-64140420 Easter-69We took a break from Lego building to go to the Farmer’s Market.  When we returned, he settled in his big boy chair to work on a couple new puzzles.  He is now doing 35-piece puzzles with some guidance.  

140420 Easter-36Happy Easter, friends.

Around Here | March 2014

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Around Here is a new addition to my Project Life album this year.  It’s a place where I can add additional photos to tell our story.

140308-Ba74thBday-27Around here, we celebrated my mom’s 74th birthday.  She is beautiful, strong and independent.  I love you, mom.

140305-MSDN-115Around here, I helped organized the 7th Annual Math and Science Discovery Night.  I was thrilled to be able to organize the science portion of the event.  Honestly, I’m good at it and it feels good to be back doing something Jim and I started (and love).

Around here, Samuel and I went to Paradise Beach and enjoyed getting sand between our toes, dipping our toes in the freezing water, trying our best to skip rocks and building a lovely little sand castle equipped with a stick-leaf flag.  Wednesday afternoons are ours – now and for always.

Around here, we were thrilled with the change in daylight savings.  We love the extra hour of light.

Around here, there are lemons and tangerines on our trees.  We are drinking lemonade and fresh tangerine juice daily.

140323-BanhXeoAround here, I am bringing back the Vietnamese dishes (specifically, banh xeo and spring rolls) into our weekly meal rotation.

Around here, spring has sprung and Samuel’s allergies are worse than ever.  We are also noticing a lot of dry spots and bumps on his skin.  We can’t figure out what his skin is allergic too.

Around here, Samuel continues to take riding lessons and music classes.  He decided that soccer isn’t his sport so quit it in the middle of the season.  We are not thrilled that he quit soccer so we continue to have conversations about finishing what we start.  It has not worked yet.

140325-Swing&Birthday-49Around here, Samuel is fascinated by the swing.  It’s about time.  Ha!

Around here, I’m starting an exercise routine (again).  My ankle injury has healed and I am ready to shed some pounds.

Around here, Samuel has been eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for breakfast every morning.

Around here, I just booked our Disneyland vacation.  We are also talking about a couple other summer trips.

Around here, Spring Break is just 9 days away!  And summer vacation is 39 days from today.  Yippee!

Around here, I am thinking about my garden but I haven’t put my thoughts into action yet.

Around here, we have many unfinished projects.  We’re hoping to knock a couple of those projects out during Spring Break.

Around here, I am making smarter financial decisions.

Around here, I am reading Catching Fire (second in the Hunger Game series).

Around here, it feels like winter. I’m really enjoying the much needed rain.

140330-FamilyPhoto-15Around here, I am 3 for 3 for monthly family photos.  I’m hoping to get one where we are all looking at the camera.

Around here, we are happy.  We are having fun.  We are thriving.  That’s how it should be.

Project Life 2014 | Weeks 2, 3, 5 & 6

Last night, I went to our monthly Project Life Crop and got caught up on my 2014 album. 140329Crop

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Week 03 | Jan 13-19
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Week 05 | Jan 27 – Feb 2
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Week 6 | Samuel’s 3rd Birthday Celebration (just the three of us).
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I am experimenting with how to take decent photos of my pages.  This afternoon, I found myself using my iPhone for all of the photos in this post.  It was way faster — and I didn’t have to fight the glare as much!  Interesting, huh?  How do you take photos of your pages? Feel free to share your tips in the comments.

Weeks 9 – 13 will be on the blog later this week.  Thank you for stopping by!