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celebrate year round

Thursday, October 23, 2014



One of my very favorite wedding presents was a box full of random holiday decorations - one for each holiday. It was brilliant, absolutely genius. It is the perfect present for someone in transition - leaving for college, living in a first apartment, just married, starting a new job, or even living in the hospital. Here is how you can make your own to give:

Supplies: Cricut Explore, a few different colors of cardstock paper, washi tape, string, mason jar, paint, paintbrush, and chalkboard vinyl.

Process: I wanted to keep the decorations small, manageable, and simple, so banners became the perfect option. In the Cricut Design Space just search for the object you think represents each holiday perfectly. After selecting the shape, adjust the size to about two inches. Then, go back to the search section and grab a simple circle. Shrink it down and place where you want the hole to go on your object. Then simply press attach. Last, duplicate as many as you want to make (I did between 7 and 10 for each object). You can also type in a phrase such as "Happy New Year" for a banner by adding text. I wanted to give the gift in a mason jar for easy wrapping + storage. I painted the inside of the jar with an acrylic paint and topped it with a 2.5 inch circle made from chalkboard vinyl.

Time: This took about two hours to make. But now that I have the shapes saved, I feel confident I could make it in 30 minutes, tops.

This is my first holiday season with something like the Cricut Explore and I have to say that I am really excited. If you are expecting a gift from me, you better get ready for something handmade and by handmade I mean Cricut-made. I have so many ideas for wrapping, gift tags, crafts, garlands, boxes, decorations, etc. that it literally keeps me up at night. Ha! And now they added a print and cut capability that adds another dimension.



This project was submitted as an entry into the Cricut Design Star challenge. Cricut has asked a number of bloggers to enter projects with specific themes as a fun way to test out the Cricut Explore. I chose to participate in this group because I honestly believe the Cricut Explore is a game changer in the world of crafting and, really, who doesn't love a little competition on the side.

all saints' day mass

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

November 1st, 2012 - all saints' day mass



I was out getting coffee when an alarm on my phone chirped. It was All Saints' Day and mass would be starting in 15 minutes. I texted Tyler that I was going and headed up the street.

The church was quiet and full of lit candles. A few people were on knees praying, a few chatting about their day, and a small group talking to the priest. I felt at home in this parish. I found my usual spot and sat down to pray. Praying is the hardest when you have so much to ask. But I did my best and in return I felt a wave of peace rush over me.

Before mass began, the priest stood in front of everyone for an announcement. Superstorm Sandy had crashed into the area and many were in need. He spoke beautifully about how the parish was already stepping up to collect blankets, coats, food, and other items to help those in need. They were organizing bus trips out to the most affected areas to clean up and sit with those impacted by the storm. He spoke about doing something, anything for anyone who needed help. A local news anchor stood up and offered advice. A second collection would be taken up and the money would go toward supplies to aid in the recovery.

My heart ached with pride. Over the last few months, I had seen firsthand a community come together to lift us up in kindness, love, and prayer. I had felt the effects of simple acts and warm support. I was happy to see such fervent action from an area of New York that was not directly impacted by the storm. I was happy to be reminded that the world is full of selfless people willing to give.

Mass was beautiful. My spirits were lifted and my tears were replaced with hope. God was holding my hand, walking me though the city, and showing me how beautiful life is. How beautiful people can be. How acts of kindness and giving are all around us. My eyes were opened and my heart was full.

I didn't stop by Matilda's room when I returned to the hospital. Instead, I finally made my way to the pumping station in the NICU. I got out my rosary and continued to pray. And, just as I was starting on my second side, I heard a man shout my name, "Kelly, Ms. Smith, are you in there?" My heart stopped. A second voice spoke up, "Kelly, it's Jen. The surgeon is in Matilda's room." It was time.

yard work

Wednesday, October 22, 2014



Parker loves the idea of yard work. He has a shovel and a rake, and he means business. But his definition of business involves a lot of playing - I wouldn't have it any other way.

pie for breakfast

Tuesday, October 21, 2014



One of my very favorite things about Thanksgiving is eating pie for breakfast the next day. So much so that sometimes I hide a piece just for that occasion.

Now, I know Thanksgiving is still a month away, but really, can we ever be too prepared when it comes to holiday deserts. Here is how you can make your own.

Supplies: Cricut Explore, two pieces of paper, scoring stylus, Cricut writing pen, mat, glue, and glitter.

Process: If you search for "pie box" in the Cricut Design Space, a few different options come up that you can choose from - already measured the perfect size for a good slice of pie. There is even one ready to go in the Make-It-Now section. I added text to the top of my box and made sure to click the draw icon so that it did not cut into the top of the box (although, that might look cool, too). After placing my paper on the mat I followed the instructions on the GO screen. I had to put in the pen first, and then switch it out for the scoring stylus. Then, the Cricut Explore did it's magic! It was easy to know where to glue because of the tabs and score lines. I added the glitter by hand once the boxes were finished.

Time: If I would have known how easy it was to make a pie box, I would have been doing this all along. With the Cricut Explore, this took less than five minutes to make three - 10 minutes after adding glitter embellishments. Easy as pie!



This project was submitted as an entry into the Cricut Design Star challenge. Cricut has asked a number of bloggers to enter projects with specific themes as a fun way to test out the Cricut Explore. I chose to participate in this group because I honestly believe the Cricut Explore is a game changer in the world of crafting and, really, who doesn't love a little competition on the side.

leaf jumping

Monday, October 20, 2014



These pictures might not look like a big deal, but they are. Last year it was a big deal to let Matilda touch leaves and dirt. I let her play in a leaf pile once for about five minutes and then into the tub she went. I was terrified and fear got the better of me.

But here we are, a year later, and life seems relatively normal. Matilda cannot get enough of the leaves. She plays hard, running all over the yard laughing with delight. And I stand back in amazement. Everything she does is a big deal. Her life is a big deal.

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