Scrappy June

I’ve been feeling super inspired lately and have been scrapbooking a lot. I’ve loved being in my room, or out being social with friends, and playing with paper and all the other goodies in my stash. I’m really trying my best to use up my abundance of supplies that I’ve gathered over the years, and in the process resist adding to the stash until I put a considerable dent into what I already have. I also printed a bunch of recent photos so I’m eager and excited to play with them and tell their story. I’m finding that I’m really fiddling with the papers, photos and the embellishments and I’m loving the results. I feel like I’m finally starting to create stuff that is different from the rut I was starting to fall into. The only unfortunate downside is it’s taking me a lot longer to complete a layout, but it’s so worth taking the extra time.

I’m finding that the more I play with their papers, the more I fall in love with the Graphic 45 lines that I’ve gathered over the years. They are visually rich, at times very busy, and many of them works of art just on their own. But, when they are fussy cut down and paired together, the patterns work so beautifully together and don’t look busy at all – and work beautifully with so many photos. I’m so glad I got over my fear of “ruining” these papers and finally started to play because I love the result! In fact, 3 of the layouts I’m posting today are from Graphic 45 papers.

Most of these layouts are for ScrapMuch? challenges. In full disclosure my main love is usually mini albums, but I do love playing along with the ScrapMuch? sketches and challenges. I’ve actually had to buy more 12×12 albums just to fit all these layouts in! This is a good problem to have!

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The pictures were taken at the Botanical Gardens in Washington DC from my trip there last summer. The patterned paper is all Graphic 45 Bird Song. I love this line so much. I bought it to use for my cherry blossom pictures but it’s proving to be very very versatile.
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Using up my Rusty Pickle Chocolate Bunnies stash of paper that I’ve been hoarding forever to pay tribute to one of my favourite places – the Spa at Aventura Spa Palace.

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I used Echo Park’s Everyday Eclectic line to highlight a picture I took of the Cancun hotel zone just prior to landing at the airport. Every single time I land there I am taken aback by the amazing colours of the ocean.

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More amazing Graphic 45! This time the Transatlantique Collection was perfect to use with a picture I took of the beautiful Paris Las Vegas last fall.

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Finally, another layout using Graphic 45 Bird Song to highlight the labyrinth at Aventura Spa Palace.

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May Mash-Up!

May brought a mixed bag of events.

It started out on a fabulous note! Everything came together perfectly that I was able to get to High Park again when the trees were in peak bloom on a gorgeous sunny day! I had an amazing afternoon enjoying the blooms from a blanket on the hill, snapping several pictures, enjoying the sun, sipping a delicious cider. There was just enough of a gentle breeze to make the petals fall so delicately like snow in the air. Simply magical. It was a great escape from reality, if only for a few hours. I went mid-week and it was super busy, I can only imagine what the weekends are like. I’m thankful that I won’t find out! One of these years I’ll make it to Japan or DC for some larger cherry blossom festivals, but for now, I’m thankful I can view them locally.
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Unfortunately, a little over a week later brought an unfortunate event. I was involved in a wee accident when someone decided to change lanes into my poor car. Thankfully it was at a relatively low speed, and the damage in the beginning appeared minimal, and neither of us were badly hurt. I had a few lingering muscle aches and pains and bruises that went away after about a week. I’m also super thankful for an amazing insurance company who handled it all so well. I know, not often people say good things about an insurance company but CUMIS was top notch.
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My poor barely 1 year old baby Jetta. The damage came in at $3200. Oy.
I may be skipping ahead, but I’m happy to report that my Jetta is back from the car hospital after spending 2 weeks there, and we are very happily reunited and she is fully healed.
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A week after the accident, I was cottage bound to spend a weekend with family. It was good to connect, reconnect and wish my dear cousin well as she enters a new and exciting phase in her life.
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I got to see a really pretty full moon over the water while I was there. Also, while I was there I revealed to mom I had a blog. I figured it was time to come out of the blogging closet to her. So, Hi Mom!

Beantown, Boston Strong and BBQ

In April we made our yearly road trip to the Boston area for the NFL Draft. The trip was almost in jeopardy as the draft was a little over a week after the bombings at the marathon. I wasn’t concerned about our safety in the slightest, but I didn’t want to travel to a city that was on lockdown. In the end we went, and I did go down to Copley Square because it was history.
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The square was quite busy and remarkably quiet, and the memorials were mounting in so many forms: running shoes, local t-shirts, teddy bears, flowers, crosses, marathon volunteer bibs, etc. There were boards to sign and I signed 2 of them, but even then it was difficult to find some free space to write.
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The Patriots official draft party this year at Gillette wasn’t as good as past years – maybe because I knew we were trading out of the first round. But, the activities were pretty much the same as last year, and the player appearances were very structured, and nobody I was willing to wait in a super long line to meet either. I think I would have been better off at Vince Wilfork’s event because it’s more casual, more players go, and it supports a good cause.
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Mr. Kraft presenting members of the Boston PD with New England 1 jerseys as a thank you gesture for their efforts over the last week and a half.
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The Patriots manifesto, and part of what makes them so good, year after year.

Other highlights of the trip include indulging in SO. MUCH. LOBSTER. and sampling so many fantastic US craft beers that we simply can’t get here. One of our mandatory stops is dinner at Legal Seafoods, and I always get the lobster wrap, and this year I sampled their oysters too. In recent history I’ve grown to LOVE oysters!
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On the way home we made one last mandatory stop, to Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse NY. We stumbled on Dinosaur a few years ago on our way home from one of our Boston road trips. We were well on our way home, and starving, and I didn’t want to grab roadside fast food, so I loaded up Yelp and found Dinosaur, and it came very highly recommended. On first glimpse I was a bit concerned as it was a total biker hangout, but it was totally worth the risk. I actually like their BBQ better than Jacks in Nashville (and Jack’s is awesome!!). Dinosaur has gotten so popular that last year the wait was super long to get in and we decided to just carry on. This year we were prepared for the wait and waited an hour for a table, and I’m so glad we did!
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Carolina style pulled pork on a bun with a side of ribs. So good!

I’m so glad we made our trip to Boston. It’s a city I love to visit, and could probably live there if I was actually allowed to. The people of New England are simply great people, down to earth, hard working, friendly. I was more than happy to support the relief efforts when I bought my Adidas fundraiser shirt, and I wear it quite proudly. Worth every penny of $26.20!
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What Happened?

Can anyone tell me what on earth happened to March, April and May and why on earth I didn’t blog a single word in that time?  It’s all so much of a blur to me that I actually have to consult my calendar, iPhoto and my “Journal of Awesome” to see what those months were like. I’ll do my best to catch up with some of the highlights over the last few months. I have renewed my domain, so sunshineandsweettea.com is here to stay for another year. I really need to be better about using it. Flickr upping the photo storage limits definitely helps!

March was a super busy month with a lot of work. But I did take some time out for a little play! Early in the month I went to an Orchid Show at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. It was a perfect way to try to usher in spring by looking at beautiful blooms of my favourite flowers! I was blown away at how many different types of Orchids were on display and for sale. I fell in love with one type, called an oncidium Sherry Baby that has such pretty blooms, and smells like chocolate. I also sat in on a lecture about how to care for orchids and learned so much. I learned what I was doing right with my orchids that were thriving, and I learned why one of mine died (and I finally accepted it would not be resurrected).

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Mid March I had a wee getaway with friends to Niagara on the Lake for a weekend of R&R, some spa, some wine tastings, and general giggles and good times. We stayed at the amazing Pillar and Post. Had a fabulous dinner at a sister property Escabeche. On the first day we went to Reif Estate Winery and I fell in love with their tarot card themed wines.
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I wound up buying their “Fortune Cabernet Rose”. It was a fantastic wine, and the label was also amazing with the fairy and the glitter. I haven’t drank it yet because I continue to hoard it, but I’m sure I’ll drink it soon because I plan on going back to some of these wineries again!  Back in the room there were some belated birthday celebration bubbles.
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I must say, Moet Rose is fantastic and was a most excellent treat. I am a fan. Another dinner was at Stone Road Grille just down the road from the Pillar and Post. The food was fantastic, as was the service. But, the neatest treat was by far the cotton candy dessert!
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The evening was perfectly capped off in the hot springs at the 100 Fountain Spa at the Pillar and Post. I’d already had an incredible massage there earlier in the day and that spa has worked it’s way into my heart as one of my fav spas. I am very spoiled blessed to have been able to visit so many fantastic spas in Canada, the US and Mexico that I have some pretty high standards, and 100 Fountain ranked extremely high with me. Definitely in my top 5 – I waver between 3rd or 4th best on my list. Either way, the hot springs, the soft snow flakes gently falling in the cool mid-March evening was amazing. Untitled

I’ll update April and May in 2 separate posts to follow. I hope this is a sign of me back in the blogging saddle again…

Also – in full disclosure – I was not compensated in any way for my reviews on these places, simply sharing some wonderful experiences! 🙂