Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Solace of Water - Book Review

Elizabeth Byler Younts' novel The Solace of Water is a story of friendship despite differences. Delilah's family has just moved to Pennsylvania from Montgomery, Alabama to start fresh after the loss of a son. Things are different for them there, not just because it's the North versus the South but because they are an African-American family and the year is 1956.

Delilah, the matriarch of the family, is grieving hard over losing her young son and can't seem to move past her grief or forgive who needs to be forgiven. And this causes problems with the relationships in her family.

A walk through the woods leads you to Delilah's new neighbor Emma. Emma lives with her husband and son within the Amish community, but they are set apart due to their small family size and the secrets that husband and wife keep.

Usually the Amish keep to themselves and don't mingle with the Englishers, especially the Negroes, but when Emma helps Delilah find one of her missing kids, their worlds are brought together. Both women soon realize that even though they come from different backgrounds, they have more in common than they know, and it's their shared understanding that allows them to let their guards down and become friends.

I really enjoyed this book! It was heartbreaking at times and very sweet at others. The story was one the kept me wanting to turn the page and read on. I would definitely recommend it for a book club! It has religious themes without being too heavy-handed, so you don't have to be a Christian to read the book and enjoy it. It's just a good story about a hard time in history that makes you evaluate race, forgiveness, friendship, and keeping the ones you love close.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, September 17, 2018

2017 Vacation Album Title Page featuring Cheeky Studio


Today's layout features the Cheeky Studio September kit and those lovely Wild Flowers! I loved how the blues and teals in the kit fit so perfectly with a 4x6 Simple Stories card I had saved to use in my 2017 vacation album. I wanted it to be the title page of the album. 


As you can see, I'm doing that whole bisected page design thing again!

Since we didn't take a vacation this summer, I'm hoping that I will have more time to get caught up on last summer's vacation... and the year before's summer vacation. We'll see. I'll certainly have plenty of ephemera! Don't you just love the chipboard pieces from the Close to My Heart embellishment pack that comes in this kit?


I think my favorite part is the Wild Flowers sequins mix. That blue color is GORGEOUS. But I'm also loving the bold colors of the Wild Flowers themselves and how well they mix and match in embellishment clusters, like the one below, which is made with a Wild Flowers Cut Apart label (exclusive to the kit) and a Close to My Heart sticker.


To create a border behind the photo and the 4x6 card, I used some of the Close to My Heart stickers that looked like little banners and just lined them up in a row!

The Wild Flowers products are all on sale now in the Cheeky Studio store, and while you're there, check out what else is new! And use my discount code, Cookscrap10, to save on your order!



Friday, September 14, 2018

Good Times featuring Cheeky Studio


Today's layout features the September kit from Cheeky Studio, and it was inspired by the circle-centric sketches included in the kit. I've got a process video to share with you, too!

Instead of using a lot of circles as the sketches showed, I just punched out some of the Wild Flowers Cut Apart Circles and used them as an accent above my photos. 


I really liked the Wild Flowers patterned paper with the floral frame, but I felt like it needed a little something to go behind the photos, so I sprayed it with some Shimmerz Grape Escape and Pop Art Pink. The Pop Art Pink came from the Cheeky Studio store and has a nice orangey-pink tint to it, perfect for the bold orange flowers in the Wild Flowers ephemera.


I created embellishment clusters out of the Wild Flowers ephemera and the Close to My Heart stickers and chipboard pieces. And then the Close to My Heart chipboard letters became my title!


This layout was easy-peasy to put together! But it's always nice when you have just the right tools to make it work, and that's what the Cheeky Studio kits have been giving me. There's still time to subscribe so you can get on the list for October. 

And when shopping in the store, don't forget to use my discount code, Cookscrap10, to save 10%!

Thanks for looking!



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Nicole Petersen Scrapbook Pages Part 1

The other weekend I attended the Stamp & Scrapbook Expo where I took a class from Nicole Petersen about mixing patterned papers. It was a really cool class, and we left with a huge kit of goodies to take home!

In the class, we got started working on two layouts. The first was a layout with a heart made of patterned paper strips, and the second was a layout with stamps on white cardstock. We didn't finish the layouts in the one-hour class, but we did receive instructions on how to complete the layouts, plus many more using the supplies we were given.

So here is what I ended up creating once I got home! "Epic" is the patterned heart layout from the class. We literally cut strips of patterned paper and adhered them to a cut-out heart. Then Nicole told us to take kraft foam and pop up the heart on top of our patterned background paper. I embellished as close as I could to the provided photo, but I didn't have exactly the same embellishments. I actually added the word "Epic" (old Heidi Swapp) and the white star in square from my stash. Everything else on this layout came in the kit that Nicole gave us.


"Find a Favorite Little Something in Every Day" was the second in-class layout that we started. Nicole let us use something called the Mitzi to stamp our white cardstock, and then we finished the rest of the layout at home. The Mitzi was really cool (but really expensive). I gotta say - triangles on scrapbook pages have got to become more of a thing for me. They are such an unexpected shape, and I really like how they look on this layout. I only added one extra piece of flair (from Cheeky Studio) on this layout. Everything else came from my kit!


This layout also has a triangle on it and used the strips of patterned paper technique again! Speaking of patterned paper mixing - I mixed two different Bella Blvd lines on this, so I think that Nicole would be proud. As the title, created by some corrugated Jillibean Soup letters, suggests, these photos were taken in Burlington, Vermont. I would LOVE to go back there some day and spend more time.


I'll have the other layouts to share with you next week! Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Secaucus Gluten Free Expo


It's that time of year again when the gluten-free and allergen-friendly community converges in New Jersey to showcase the latest and greatest products for those with Celiac disease or other food allergies and sensitivities. I'll be attending the GFAF Expo again this year as an official Expo blogger, and it will be a different experience for me for sure as I've recently been diagnosed as lactose intolerant and my daughter is in the process of being tested for a peanut allergy. So not only will I be looking for gluten-free products for my husband, but I'll also be looking for dairy-free and peanut-free products for myself and my daughter.

If you and your family sound like me and my family, then I encourage you to come and check out the Secaucus, NJ GFAF Expo on Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14, 2018 at the Meadowlands Exhibition Center. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both days, there is lots of free parking, and admission to the show gets you access to more than 100 vendors, free samples, coupons, classes, and more. You can find more information on ticket prices and options here.

OR you can try to win a free ticket through my giveaway!!!


But first, let me tell you a little bit about what I'm most excited about seeing at the Expo this year. 

Each day at the show, there are different classes/presentations that you can sit in for free to learn more about the gluten-free lifestyle and how to make it work for you. I've taken the essential oils class with Jenna Drew before, and she'll be speaking again at this year's show on Saturday. I would also like to hear Vanessa Weisbrod speak again. She'll be giving a presentation about the financial cost of going gluten-free on Sunday. I also think Sunday's class about adapting diets from around the world (Mediterranean, Latin American) sounds really interesting!

Then there are A LOT of exhibitors. Bio-K+ is one of the show's sponsors, and I can't wait to find out more about the brand's line of probiotics. Some of my favorite manufacturers will be back, such as Against the Grain, Banza, Ronzoni, Brazi Bites, and Garden Lites. (Although I'll have to be careful about taking samples if they aren't dairy-free. Each table lists allergens so that you know!) Even though I can't have Maddalena's gluten-free cheesecake anymore (cheese/dairy), you should totally check them out!

It looks like Bob's Red Mill will be exhibiting, and I'm pretty sure that's new! I love them! And I definitely want to stop by Cooked Perfect Meatballs, Switch Witch (especially with Halloween coming up), Om Sweet Home (vegan and gluten-free bakery), and Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate (pretty sure I can eat this chocolate!). Petitpot looks cute and Zinburger is going to be there, so I've gotta see what they have to offer!

And now on to my GIVEAWAY! I have FIVE free tickets for five lucky winners. I'll email each winner a code that can be redeemed for an adult or child, single day or weekend ticket for the 2018 NJ GFAF Expo. All you have to do is use the Rafflecopter below to enter. This runs until September 25! Good luck and I hope to see you at the Expo!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Cheeky Studio September Kit Unboxing


There are so many good things inside the September scrapbook kit from Cheeky Studio! Are you a subscriber? Did you get your kit yet? If you aren't a subscriber, you can still purchase the brand new Wild Flowers Set 5 ephemera from the Cheeky Studio store. It's gorgeous!


But check out all of the other goodies that come in the September kit in my full unboxing video below, including exclusive Cheeky Studio patterned paper!



You won't want to miss out on future kits, so make sure you head over to the Cheeky Studio website and subscribe today!


Friday, September 7, 2018

Traveler's Notebook Opening Pages featuring Cheeky Studio


I told you that I was still working on my Traveler's Notebook using my August Cheeky Studio kit, so here are the first two pages. The first page is in the inside cover, and there is a similar page on the inside back cover. The next page is the first page of the notebook, and it gives you an idea of how all the rest of the pages are going to be laid out. I think it will be easier to keep to the same design and layout, even if I'm not using the same papers and embellishments for each page.


I covered up the journaling on the page because it is a bit personal, and well, I don't know you all THAT well. Ha ha.

From the August kit, I used some of the patterned papers, the Notebook Nancy ephemera, and lots of the Maggie Holmes stickers.

From my stash, I added in some misting spray, a stamp, and a few extra stickers and washi tape.


This notebook is going to be filled with my answers to the questions in the book Fierce Faith by Alli Worthington. (You can read my review of the book here.) To help remind me of some of Alli's key points, I put them on the interior covers of the notebook. That's what The Five Bad B's are - the things that help feed your fear and that you should strive to avoid.


I loved mixing and matching the product from the August kit with other product from my stash. I know I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again: Cheeky Studio product is so versatile and goes so well with SO MUCH! If you haven't experienced Cheeky Studio for yourself, then what are you waiting for? You can even save yourself some moolah and use my discount code, Cookscrap10, at checkout for 10% off!

And there is still time to subscribe to the Cheeky Studio kit club so that you can get fun coordinating goodies as well as Cheeky Studio exclusives all together in one package. There are some really cool products on tap, so you won't want to miss out!