Simple All-Occasion Upcycled Gift Bag

Color Coordinated Upcycled Gift Bag

Here’s a fun and easy project that you can easily do in under 30 minutes the next time you need a gift bag.

Have you visited a shop or restaurant that uses plain white or brown paper bags for their products?  If you keep your eyes open you’ll find that there are some that do this instead of paying for printing on their larger size bags.  Every time I get a blank bag (or even one with a smaller graphic) I save it for future upcycling.

Today I needed a bag for a baby shower for Baby Boy Bryson, a new addition to our extended family, so here’s what I did.

  1. First I pulled a medium size white bag from my stash
  2. Next, I looked through my supply of fabric ribbon and found this great blue & purple plaid.  Perfect for a little boy.  (Shop for ribbon at craft stores when it’s on clearance or you have a coupon.  Also watch for ribbon attached to cards and other products that you can rescue.)
  3. Then I searched through my scrap-book paper and found a thick striped sheet in shades of blue that coordinated with the ribbon.  A nice baby print would be great too.
  4. Open up Microsoft Word (or an appropriate program) to create a single large letter (or word of your choosing).  Select your preferred font and size large enough to fill the page and/or one side of the bag.
  5. In MS Word you can choose the option to show/print the letter as an outline only.  This is the best way to show the pattern to be cut out of the printed paper.
  6. Print the letter/word on your scrap-book paper and cut it out.
  7. Center and attach it to the side of the bag with your favorite paper glue.
  8. Fill the top of the bag with tissue paper (would have been more striking if I had a light shade of blue that matched the ribbon).
  9. Tie your matching ribbon in a bow on top of the bag.
  10. If you need a tag, cut a circle or creative shape out of the scrap-book paper too.  Punch a hole in it and tie it on with a small string or matching ribbon.
  11. That’s it!  You’re ready to go.
  12. Imagine all the possibilities…unlimited color schemes, print a word instead of a letter, trim the bag with lace for a girl.  Or what about using the same idea for mini-size wedding or birthday favor bags?

Have fun and post a link to your own creations in the comments section!  I’d love to see how you make it even better.

2 Great Casual Places to Eat in Encino

A couple of weekends ago we headed over to Southern California to see Amy & Andrew and to use a hotel gift certificate that was going to expire. What a great excuse to get out of the heat!  We stayed one night in Tarzana with the kids and Saturday night we stayed a couple of hours south in LaJolla.

Because food is always a key ingredient in any trip, I thought I’d share a couple of the places that we ate.  Three of them were excellent and one was very good. It’s hard to rank them because they were all very different, so I’ll list them in the order that we ate them.  See what you think.  I’ll share two from Encino today and two in La Jolla tomorrow.

The Stand – When Terry and I were making the long drive from Phoenix, I started thinking about The Stand about 2 hours before we got there. It’s THAT good.  We went to the one in Encino, but there are a few other So Cal locations as well.  Amy & Andrew introduced us to this place a year or so ago and we have loved it every time we’ve been there.  In addition to the great food, the awesome outdoor eating area just adds to the experience.  I don’t know about you, but a breezy alfresco meal always tastes better to me somehow!

I was analyzing this cozy spot that’s right next to a very busy city street.  They’ve creatively planted trees and tall hedges to provide shade and sound proofing between the diners and the cars.  This could easily be replicated in Phoenix.  They might have to close down for a month or so in the summer. Then again, if they had misters in a shady area like this, it could be a year round venue.  Anyone willing to try it?  We’ll definitely be your regular customers!  Randy & Linda, How bout it?  You could close down in the summer and head out of town!

The Stand Encino

On this visit I tried their Chicago style hotdog with sweet potato fries.  I’ve heard so  much about it, but had never tried it.  I’m not a huge fan of the poppy seeds on the bun.  I can take or leave them. They don’t add a lot of flavor and I always worry that they’re stuck in my front teeth when I’m finished eating.  Otherwise, this was delicious!  Terry shared my fries and got a chili dog and liked it so much that he went back for another one.

Here are a couple of posts that Amy did about The Stand too, with even more photos.

Hotdog at the Stand

More Than Waffles – Encino

This is the first time we’ve been here and if I had looked at their website before we went, I probably would have ordered something different.  Not that my club sandwich wasn’t good, but some of the other breakfast items look AMAZING!  Terry got a very hearty omelette with waffles on the side. The smell of freshly made waffles is so scrumptious. He was kind enough to share a bite of his with me. Everything we had was excellent.

Amy & Andrew

What a great time to be with A & A and explore a few of their favorite spots.  They live in a great area for cute little eateries.  We love going there and trying out their discoveries.  Of course, we’d love going there no matter where they live.  It’s the people, not the place that we love the most.

Soon I’ll share about our day in La Jolla looking at the seals and sea lions.  And the little boy who needed a little bit of “mom-type” help.  It was so much fun!

Happy 29th Birthday Teegan!

Today I’m wishing our oldest child and only daughter, Amy Teegan, a happy birthday.  I know she has a busy day today because she’s a wedding photographer and today she’s shooting a wedding.  If she has to work, this is probably one of her favorite things to do.  I’m not sure if she’ll have time to even read any blog posts today, but I’m posting it anyway so she’ll see it when she gets time.  This is a photo of Amy and her husband, Andrew when we visited them in December.

I’m so thankful to have her as a member of our family.  I’ve shared a lot about her on previous birthdays, and could give an example for each of the words that I’m writing, but this time I’ll share just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of her:

I love her because she’s…loving, kind, loves to travel (like me), an entrepreneur, adventurous, sensitive, helpful, smart, loves to laugh, an inspiration to many, perpetual learner and teacher, creative, thoughtful, musically gifted, and so so so much more…

If you want to get a taste of her creativity and personality check out her two blogs:

Those Crazy Schuberts

Lemon and Raspberry

If you want to see more photos and stories about her, check out my posts from previous birthdays.

28th Birthday

27th Birthday

26th Birthday

25th Birthday

We’re so blessed to have Amy in our lives.  I only wish we had more chances to spend time together.

Happy Birthday, Amy!  We love you forever.

Happy Birthday 27th Kevin!

On March 1st our son Kevin will celebrate his 27th birthday and sadly, we won’t be able to be with him.  I realized in reviewing my last four years of posts that we haven’t had a chance to celebrate his birthday with him in quite a while.  This is our family picture from December.

He’s quite the traveler, you know.  In recent years he’s been in…

Texas, Washington, California, Nebraska, Mississippi, Colorado, Arizona, Louisiana, undisclosed locations in Iraq, undisclosed locations in Afghanistan.   And he already has plans for more fun travels in the months to come. I love the adventurer in him.

He’s a guy after my own heart in so many ways!

I’m so thankful to have him as a son.  I’ve shared a lot about him on previous birthdays, and could give an example for each of these words, but this time I’ll share just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of him:

I love him because he’s…gentle, sensitive, loving, full of adventure, kind, compassionate, helpful, smart, loves to laugh and make others laugh, enjoys life, perpetual learner, deep thinker, creative, thoughtful, musically gifted, generous, and so so so much more…

Here’s a picture of him with his girlfriend, Chelsea.

Kevin, thank you for making us proud to be your parents.

If you want to see more pictures and read about him (from a mother’s point of you), you can look at his last 4 birthday posts.

26th Birthday

25th Birthday

24th Birthday

23rd Birthday

Our Cat is 20 Years Old!

Some of you may not have met our cat, Shredder, but I wanted to let you know that this year she turns TWENTY YEARS OLD!  That’s a lot of cat years.

In honor of her birthday I bought her some extra special cat food – cost twice what we usually pay.  It had real salmon and crab in it and she loved it!

This is her in 1991 soon after she came home with us.

From my best recollection we got her sometime in early spring of 1991, which means that she would have been born about 6 weeks before that.  Our whole family went to the home of a lady in Valencia and when we walked into her back yard it was FILLED with all sizes, shapes and colors of cats.  My guess is that she loved cats so much that she couldn’t bear to part with them when the numbers got too high and she just allowed them to breed and breed.  We picked out Shredder from her latest litter.  We were told that she’s part Siamese and part Persian (and who knows what else).

So far the old girl is doing pretty well.  She sleeps a lot, but you would too if you were her age.

She always greets us when we come home from work.  O.k. maybe that’s because its her dinner time and she’s hungry.   She’s also developed a preference for bottled water.  That’s my fault because I started giving her our leftovers from half empty bottles that were sitting around and now she’s decided that she should have the good stuff.  Fortunately she’ll settle for tap water when she’s forced to.

She’s not crazy about crowds in the house, but she loves to hang out in whatever room Terry or I happen to be in and she’ll even follow us around in the mornings until we settle in one spot.  When it’s cold out she likes to sleep on my lap when I’m watching TV.  Here she is sitting on the windowsill in our office.  She hangs out either there or on the desk beside us when we’re in there working on the computer.

At night when it’s cold she lays right on top of my hand until it drives me crazy to be still too long and I shoo her away.  Then she moves to the cozy fabric-lined Longaberger basket that’s HER bed at the foot of OUR bed.  I tried to get her to use several different cat beds over the years, but she wouldn’t set foot (paw) in them.  I guess she has expensive taste.

You’d be amazed at how accurate her body clock is.  If Terry and I are up past 10 pm at night, she’ll actually come and find us and start meowing at us because it’s time to go to bed.  Then she’ll go and sit halfway between where we are and the bedroom to make sure we don’t forget.

She’s been a great friend to all of us.  Hopefully she’ll be around a while longer, but I don’t have any big expectations.

She’s quite a senior citizen after all.  Do you have a favorite pet that keeps you company or any funny pet stories?

Happy Birthday to my favorite guy in all the world!

Terry’s birthday was yesterday!  It’s not that I forgot his birthday, it’s just that I forgot to create a post in advance about it and we’ve been so busy that I didn’t have time in the last few days.

That doesn’t make him any less special or less loved. I’m so blessed that God gave him to me over 30 years ago.  I wouldn’t want to share this life and it’s adventures with anyone else.

Here are just a few highlights of the fun we’ve had this past year… what a great year it’s been and now we’re heading for Bosnia in the next few days!  Can’t wait.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado in August
Disneyland in September
Randy Thompson Christmas Concert in December 
Dave Argentati Concert in December
Terry & Bob played several places around town this year
Flagstaff Snow Day in January
Suns Game in April

2 Sweet Friends + 1 Husband’s Birthday = 1 AMAZING Suns Game!

In case you haven’t heard, Terry and I had the awesome privilege of going to the last Suns home game of the season this past Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets.  And you know what made it the most fun EVER?  We got to sit in the FRONT row!!!  Yes, on the floor just a single NBA basketball player step from the court.

Let me start out by admitting that even though it was intended as an early birthday present for Terry (his bday is May 13),  I probably had as much or more fun than he did.  I was so excited that I could hardly sleep the night before and I kept catching myself just before I would blurt out something about it in the days prior.

You see, Phoenix Suns basketball is my absolute favorite sport to watch.  Even though Terry watches nearly every team sport with legs, and has tried to teach me about all of them, my first sports love is those “Sunnies” (as my son-in-law calls them).  I fell in love with them back in the mid-70’s in the early days of our relationship.  That was when he took me to a game and I thought that all they did was run up and down the court and whoever made the last basket won.  Now I know most of the players by name and position and can point out a pick-and-roll or an alley-oop when I see one.  I have realized that the reason I like basketball more than other sports is because it’s a more relational game.  There are no helmets to block their expressions and there’s constant movement and interaction between the players.  I love to isolate on one player and follow them on and off the court.  Not in a stalking sort of way, but like a proud mom watching their favorite “Sun” and their progress.  I generally choose my favorites, based on personality and temperament, not necessarily their accomplishments on the court.  Anyway, I could write a whole post just on my love of the game, but I’ll save it for another time.

Today I get to take you into some those special places where I (and some of you) have never been.  It was an experience I’ll never forget. I don’t want to say too much about where we got the tickets, but suffice it to say that there are a couple of angels out there that shared a little bit of heaven with us and we will forever be grateful. Do you think they’ll have basketball in heaven?  I think so, and the home team will always win.  🙂

Fun stuff!  Terry figured out that we were going to a game, which didn’t surprise me because I had taken him to Suns games for his birthday before. But he had NO IDEA where we would be sitting and the other treats that were in store for him.  It was so great to see his eyes open wide with surprise when we pulled up for valet parking, then walked into the building and found our way to the special entrance for these ticket holders.

We held 2 tickets for ROW A, Section 113 but I hadn’t showed them to him yet.  I didn’t tell him about the free food throughout the game at the AOT Club either.  I was trying to be discreet so as not to look like a total geek, so here’s a shot of the club from my camera location at my side.  To the right you’ll see the underside of the seats that are behind the basket.  Up ahead are the food stations where we had our choice of so many tasty treats.  One of my favorites was the 4-cheese mac-n-cheese.  Mmmm…it was good and probably tasted even better since I’ve been trying to watch calories lately and have been staying away from things like that.  There were several meat options and all the sides you would want.  Free beverages too.

We arrived fairly early because we weren’t sure how crowded it would be and weren’t sure exactly where we were going.  When we entered the club we were warmly greeted and got the low-down on how things worked.  Fortunately, we had plenty of time to have some dinner and even stop into the Team Shop.  Afterward we sauntered out to see the players warm up before the game started.  If we had chosen to, we could have stayed in the club and watched the players come out of the locker room and go thru the tunnel. It’s just beyond the eating area above.

These are really OUR seats for the night!  Yup, front row.  Our feet are on the sidelines very close to the baseline, directly across from the visiting team’s bench.  We’ve sat down in this area before to watch the teams warm up, but never for the whole game.

This is what the Denver warm ups looked like from our seats.  He’s standing between the 3 point line and the out of bounds line.

This is Nene Hilario coming on the court for the starting line up introductions.  Apparently he legally changed his name to just Nene, which is more of a nickname – Brazilian Portuguese for baby.  He’s good friends with Leandro Barbosa.

What I really need to know is how can I get one of those “PHOTO” stickers for the back of my shirt.  Of course my camera’s not as big as theirs, but it would still be fun to be able to wander around all over the place to take pictures.  And I must say that the male/female photographer ratio is very imbalanced.  I could help with that.

This is the opening tip off.

Since Denver is one of the most tattooed teams in the NBA, I wanted to try to get some pics of some of them for our son-in-law, Andrew’s benefit.  Chris Andersen is a prime specimen if you like tattoos.

Here’s a fun action shot with Grant and Amare making a great effort at guarding the Nuggets.
Sometimes this was the view that we had from our seats.  We’re willing to make that sacrifice for the location that we had.  I must say that the target was very tempting.
And of course we need a shot of LB since he’s our daughter, Amy’s favorite player.  This is the best one I could get.  The Brazilian Blur doesn’t stand still for very long.
Isn’t it interesting how intent the guys on the bench are watching everything?

Our favorite coach, Alvin Gentry!  He’s doing an amazing job this year.  I love the way he’s allowing the bench to play in tough stretches of the game. The young guys are growing more and more skilled and confident because of his trust in them.  Their new defensive emphasis really seems to be making a difference too.

The final score of the game was Suns 123 – Nuggets 101.  It was so fun to watch and even more so because they won the game!  What a special treat to be able to enjoy it from court-side.  Wow!  It was a night that we’ll never forget.  We were so thankful for the chance to do this.  That’s one thing that I can cross off of my “Bucket List”.