Celebrating an unfamiliar Christmas...


There is nothing ordinary or familiar about this Christmas for me.

This will be the first Christmas without my dad, who I used to talk to daily, hug at least weekly and look forward to sneaking off with to a quiet room for a giggle during the holiday get-togethers.

In my family Christmastime has always been a time for traditions, familiar faces, decorations and familiar sounds. After such a tremendous loss, my focus and frame of mind has shifted to say the least. I find myself thinking, "why not?" a lot of the time. Sometimes, I find myself asking "why?" as well.

This year didn't stand a chance of feeling normal anyway, so I decided to apply "why not?" to my usually traditional Christmas routine. This is my way of celebrating an unfamiliar Christmas and trying to make it my own.
Photo courtesy of Julia Bobrov
Like many parents, I'm guilty of trying to overachieve the Christmas experience by cramming in activities that are in reality, hit-or-miss with my kids. This year I asked myself, "why?"  I just want to hug & kiss my kids, hold them tight, snuggle up with movies and let them play and have fun at home.
So that's exactly what we're doing this year. We're watching old movies, playing bingo, building forts and enjoying time with each other. Everyone is warm, there's plenty of food and there's no traffic at all.  
For the first time in my life, I have chosen to deviate from the traditional red & green decorations on our tree. I decided that I want the "big tree" all to myself to finally decorate the way I've wanted to for years. Blue.

I love my blue Christmas tree, with sea life ornaments to boot! It makes me happy. It's that simple.
The next sort-of big change for me, is my Christmas playlist. I love putting together different variations every year and then wearing out my poor family by putting my playlist on a loop for hours. Hahaha (I'm probably the only one laughing here). I figured if I have a blue Christmas tree, then why shouldn't I have a little reggae music in the mix?

Here is my 2012 playlist, in case you too are having an unfamiliar Christmas!

Christmas Day  ::  Dido
I Saw Three Ships  ::  Sting
The Little Drummer Boy  ::  Sean Kingston
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer  ::  Jack Johnson
No Christmas For Me  ::  Zee Avi
Underneath the Mistletoe  ::  Blondfire
Someday At Christmas  ::  Jack Johnson
All My Bells Are Ringing  ::  Lenka
I Want You For Christmas  ::  Cheap Trick

Holiday baking in 4 easy steps


The holidays inspire me to bake like some sort of unspoken peer pressure...in combination with cheerful Christmas music, it's a force I cannot resist.

I secretly love to bake (NOT cook) and I have a few "go to" recipes that I know I can whip up like a pro and serve proudly to my friends and family - but I am so happy to have found a NEW recipe!
By far, the easiest recipe I have ever made courtesy of Eagle Brand.
Ingredients you will need:
1/2 cup melted butter (one stick)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees & coat 13x9 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
1. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.
2. Press into bottom of prepared pan.
3. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.
4. Layer chocolate chips, coconut and nuts evenly. Press down firmly with a fork.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature.

Fall, where are you?


Our fall here in the Pacific Northwest has been greatly delayed by beautiful summer weather. While I love the 70 degree weather, I have also been dying for fall to arrive.
Fortunately, someone had forgotten to water the summer planters during our warm fall weather, so I didn't have any guilt replacing the 'gonners' with a few inexpensive fall plants. 
Mums, cabbage, a few groundcover and tiny pumpkins & gourds from Safeway did the trick! 
I feel like I have to defend the black cat - it reminds me of that song we all grew up with - "one of these things is doin' their own thing...one of these things just doesn't belong".  My explanation is that the kids got so excited when they saw pumpkins that they begged for that darn black cat that I deny them every year.
They don't yet associate pumpkins with Starbucks pumpkin spice latte like I do, so I had to eventually give in.
The owls? They were my indulgence. What can I say? I caught the fever!
Fall has arrived!

Chicken noodle soup & friendship



I am hanging on by a thread. I have a crushing head cold. My throat is raw, I can't sleep and I can't take any medicine. Ouch.

My son says that I now have the perfect "droid" voice and keeps asking me to say "roger, roger" really fast. I do it for him, but I am in pain.

I haven't been answering the phone because my voice is ridiculously unrecognizable, but when my favorite funny gal-pal called, I had to answer. Duh. I needed a laugh (even though that hurts too).

Within 30 minutes, chicken noodle soup, a fresh loaf of bread and a bag of oyster crackers were knocking at my door. That's friendship. Thank you Linds!

The last few months have really kicked me around and I haven't stood still for awhile. Being sick this week has helped me to slow down, to remember how lucky I am for all of my amazing and supportive friends & family. Sure I'm sick, and I have some worries, but all in all I am a lucky girl.

Birthday Wisdom (re-post)


There are many envelopes in Fresh Outtakes baby albums. One particular envelope is on the "first birthday" page. When I was making this line of albums I was so excited for this envelope because I wanted to make the first birthday milestone really special, with a letter to my child.

I had grand ideas for that letter. I wanted it to be special, to tell her of how her personality had developed, about the fun we had together over the year and much more. I'm certain that many moms can relate to that, however, life had other plans. Our daughter had been been very sick with acid reflux and an undiagnosed milk allergy for the first year. She was quite simply, miserable. She was in pain and our time together was not "dreamy" for either of us.

I couldn't possibly write her that special letter because I felt like I didn’t yet know her true personality. So rather than chronicle such a tough year or worse, try to fake it, I decided to do something different. At her birthday party I cut up pieces of paper and gave each of our family and friends a pen.

Our daughter was born just two months after my grandpa had passed away – a man who I loved so dearly and who I felt had so much wisdom from growing up in a time so different than my own. I decided that I wanted her to have a little piece of wisdom from the friends and family who could offer that.

Everyone was thrilled to participate and I loved reading through those pieces of paper at the end of the night. Each had a unique sentiment or a heartfelt piece of advice that was based on years of experience, knowledge, love, and heartache.

Now, I can't imagine a better use for that envelope!


A fresh new look...


When Fresh Outtakes was first born, I felt a ton of pressure by the social media machine to at least register a blog for Fresh Outtakes. Unfortunately, I have not done it proper justice, until now.

I have been writing a blog over at wordpress, named "Design Once" for the past year or so that I have really enjoyed. I have been sharing my humble collection of lifestyle and design ideas from accessorizing the house to book reviews and free downloads. I simply try to speak freely from my creative standpoint.
In a surge of unusual brainpower, (and maybe with a little urging from a creative genius friend) I have concluded that my Design Once blog and Fresh Outtakes should really be merged into one.

I have exported, imported, tweeked and updated to deliver a new look, a new name and combined content at www.freshouttakes.blogspot.com.

There will be some minor glitches to be improved upon in the upcoming weeks, but overall I am happy with the tidy clean appearance and the content which will be a combination of Fresh Outtakes product updates and my personal lifestyle and design ideas.

I hope you enjoy the new combined version!


Free Valentine's printable!


Free printables, just in the nick of time!

Our last free printable was downloaded so many times during Christsmas that I had to give away another one. You can download the aqua and purple template for free! These labels make great gift tags or print on sticker paper for sealing bags, envelopes or for embellishing your Valentine's notes.

The labels are formatted as a pdf available to you immediately. Click here or on the photo above to download the file.

Once you put your labels (Avery #8293) into your printer you will be able to print from Acrobat rather than downloading any complicated templates. I’ve done the work for you!  If you need Acrobat Reader you can download it here.

Other color ideas...

I hope you have fun with these colorful designs and have a wonderful Valentine's Day!!!

Tangerine Tango wrap up!


It's been a fun week exploring the history of Pantone® and its newest color of the year.

I found this color everywhere around my home and office. I had magnets, fabric, magazine clippings, envelopes and more!  I was so surprised that I had enough to fill a whole tray with these bits of inspiration. Naturally, I felt compelled to create a new design board for my office using any materials I could manage to stick under a magnet.

I hope you enjoyed this week of posts about the new "exotic & energizing" color of the year, Tangerine Tango.

Have a great weekend!

What they are saying...


If you'd like to read more about Tangerine Tango on the Pantone® website, click here.

Who IS Pantone anyway?


Pantone® DEFINES color.

For designers, Pantone® is THE way to communicate printed color. We use the Pantone® book in the same way you would use a color swatch at the paint store. In our digital files we designate by number, what color we want to produce. You can see those numbers next to the color squares in the picture above.

The following description is taken from the Pantone® company website: "The PANTONE® name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer."

In simple terms, Pantone® is how we can articulate to a printer what exact color we want to see. It's the industry standard for communicating color. Furthermore, a printer will not only have the swatch book that designers use, but another swatch book that actually breaks down the exact ink formula needed to reproduce a specific Pantone® color. Pantone® colors are also referred to as a PMS color/number.

Interested in reading more? Click  here.

This information is simply to remind us why, if anyone, Pantone® is qualified to name a "Color of the Year."

Rumor is, that the color chosen is supposed to connect with the "spirit of the time" or the current "mood of the era."

I hope you hang in there with me for a week long celebration of the color, Tangerine Tango!

Pantone Color of the Year 2012


Every year Pantone®, the printing industry standardized color reproduction system, will declare a particular "Color of the Year".

This year they have declared "Tangerine Tango", or Pantone® 17-1463, as the color of the year!

As a designer, I find their annual announcement interesting, and I admit that I am curious every year in anticipation.

Tangerine Tango has been described by Pantone® as a provocative attention-getter in fashion, versatile in the cosmetic industry, and is said to energize interior spaces.

I have to agree...it's bold, it's energizing and it just so happens to compliment my favorite color!

More to come this week in celebration of Pantone's® Color of the Year...
by mlekoshi