It’s the 4th of July in the States (and almost everywhere else right now, in fact) and it’s time to celebrate. Fireworks, tail-gating, the whole lot! πŸ™‚

Noodle went to preschool yesterday and she made an American flag. The teachers told me it’s part of their “inclusion” policy that they honor all holidays of their students and their students’ families. I thought it was so sweet. I also thought it was perfectly hilarious, so I made a crack that went something like “Oh, that’s so sweet that you helped her celebrate the day we got away from you guys!”. Of course I said it in my most sugary sweet and playful voice so they knew that I was joking. We had ourselves a good solid 5 minutes of laughing and thigh-slapping at 1) my stupidity and 2) how well the Brits and Yanks can get along now and 3) how civilized I am, for an American. πŸ˜‰ It was sweet. I really love her school and she has the most wonderful time there. Those ladies are worth their weight in gold. πŸ™‚

Also, in the spirit of the holiday, I have a new mini kit. πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy it! It’s free for now, but I may put it up for sale soon. πŸ™‚ Also, if you leave me a comment, I will put you in a drawing for a $20 GC to my store! πŸ™‚

Click HERE to download. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’re all having a wonderful day! πŸ™‚

This mini kit is no longer available for free download, but you can purchase it HERE for just $2! Thanks for stopping by!

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In the midst of this month’s chaos, I have completely forgotten forsaken the new kit I put up for sale. I even had a promo and everything, but of course I failed to talk about it here.

So, to make up for it, I’m going to host a mini celebration, but just here on the blog. πŸ™‚

Anyone who buys my Summer Storm kit this week (27JUN-04JUL), makes a layout with it, and then posts that layout in a gallery will win a $10 GC to my store. Every. Single. Person.

All you have to do is buy it, scrap with it, post it, and then link it here. Easy peasy, right? πŸ™‚

I also have a quick page and a template to help you scrap a little faster. πŸ™‚ (pssst….You could even just make a page with the quick page. How simple is that!?!? )

Here’s some inspo from my CT to help those creative juices flowing. πŸ™‚

This kit is my new favorite…it was inspired by a painting we have that my husband’s grandmother painted. It was the only painting he wanted (among hundreds) and it is very special to us. It’s a field of daisies against a dark, stormy sky. I just love it. That, coupled with the constant threat of rain here during the summer, came together and motivated me to make this. I hope you like it. I had a wonderful time creating it. πŸ™‚

Thanks for stopping by! Happy scrapping. Ciao, all!

KIT LINK

QUICKPAGE LINK

TEMPLATE LINK

For the first installment of FOOD FIND, I’ll be introducing the crumpet to those of you who have never seen one or tasted one or ever even heard of one. The crumpet is, to most Americans, the epitome of England. When you ask them what they think of when they hear “tea & crumpets”, they will most likely say things like: tea party, england, cute, sweet, and JOLLY GOOD! We don’t really get it. We just know it’s from England and it must be adorable and then we want to try one.

Most Americans have a fond adoration of anything that has anything to do with any part of the U.K. We love the accents..oh my word…the accents…it’s like heaven to our ears. And the words that the English choose to shower us with are all so wonderful. Like lovely. And Love. They call me “Love” here which I think is just the sweetest thing in the world. It’s like when you’re in the southern states and you don’t know a soul and have no clue what you’re doing and then someone asks if they can help you Darlin’. It’s that kind of feeling.

We just can’t help ourselves. It’s because you (and I’m talking to the Britons now) you say things like cods wallop. And scallywag. And you say “I’ve muddled it up again.” I mean, we just can’t help but buckle at the knees and wanna hug you.

Anyway. I’m gushing now. Where were we? Ah, yes. The crumpet. Here she is.

That’s all there is to it. It’s sort of like a thick pancake. Actually, it is very like a thick pancake. They use lots of baking soda to get those signature holes in the top. Then, when it’s almost completely cooked, it is flipped and browned to finish it off. It does, to me however, taste like it’s made with more of an egg batter, but there aren’t any eggs in it.

At a tea room in Warwick, Kerri ordered tea & crumpets and the crumpet looked exactly like this. I bought 12 of these from the grocery store for about 1 pound. I think her tea & crumpets cost about 7 pounds. That’s quite a killing they’re making in tea rooms these days. In fact, I’m almost 100% sure that the crumpet in that tea room came from TESCO (sort of like a British Super Wal-Mart).

So that’s it. Pretty simple, huh? I know this is probably sacreligious, but I put a bit of cinnamon & sugar on Noodle’s and she loved it. It really is quite yummy, but it’s not by any means my favorite food find in Britain. More of those to come. πŸ™‚

I hate going to the doctor. I seem to be going a lot lately and it sticks. Royally. I broke down and went this morning because I felt like I was running on fumes. I was sleepy all the time and cranky and had extremely low energy. My throat is so swollen that it is unbearable to eat anything other than ice cream and popsicles. And, yes, they’re tasty, and yes, I just bought two more boxes of them, but this was getting slightly out of hand.

So, this morning I went to the doctor and guess what. Tonsillitis, folks. I have to take a total of 112 antibiotic pills. Come on! That’s crazy talk! But, yeah…apparently I have to take these suckers 4 times a day (2 pills) for TWO WEEKS. I’m not good with pills. I am extremely forgetful. And NO, that is NOT why we have 3 kiddos…. πŸ™‚

So, Colin always ends up calling me from work to ask: “Did ya take yer piiiiiiilllllssss?” in his old man voice. He thinks this is the funniest thing in the world and I think it’s his favorite hubby duty. I am going to try my hardest to remember to do this 4 times a day so that when he does call and ask: “Did ya take yer piiiiiiilllllllsssss?”, I’ll be able to shout “YES!!!!” and then I can hang up on him. πŸ™‚

So, anyway…just thought I’d update on my health status. Cuz you really wanted to know, didn’t you? πŸ™‚

Also, I’ve decided on introducing a new blog category. I consider us a pretty well-traveled family. But our brand of traveling consists of a lot of eating. We have found some amazing dishes along the way and we have also cleared the air on a lot of food “mysteries”. So, I thought it would be fun to share those experiences with you all.

This mini revelation came about over the weekend when our guest, Kerri, got excited about going to a traditional tea room here in England and she asked: “I get to have tea and crumpets?”

Not a single one of us had a clue as to what a crumpet was.

But we do now. And all shall be revealed in exciting, breathtaking, pre-Smell-O-Vision, bite-sized chunks! I can’t wait! πŸ™‚

On Saturday, we planned a pretty packed day for ourselves. We’d planned to see the Butterfly Park, the Triangular Lodge, and Boughton House, which Kerri lovingly dubbed “Fancy House”.

This was one of my favorites…I loved the black and pink.

What is that curlyQ thingy? Is that their tongue? Or a straw? Is that how they eat? My butterfly anatomy skillz are seriously lacking.

so purdy…

I stood patiently for over 5 minutes waiting for this particular butterfly to open his/her wings so I could get the whole face effect, but he/she wasn’t budging.

That is one crazy lookin’ caterpillar.

If the hibiscus doesn’t rank in the top 5 as one of the world’s most beautiful flowers, someone needs a stern talking-to.

I can’t, for the life of me, remember what this flower is called, but I definitely wanna buy some next time I see them. It’s one of my faves. It’s such a happy flower.

Silly, splashy ducks.

Leaf cutting ants doing their thang.

Giant, killer beast koi. Not really. But I prolly wouldn’t let them eat out of my hands.

I’m just sayin’…

This one was see-thru. So cool.

Hello Mr. T. You seem to have a bit of salad stuck in your chin.

That’s the pond and the rope that the ants use to walk from one side to the other. It’s pretty cool how they were cleverly isolated form the rest of the animals and how they can still do their destructive business in peace. Very clever, indeed.

After the inside of the park, we headed outside to see what else we could find. Also, it was insanely hot and humid inside and we all needed a bit of fresh air. πŸ™‚ The girlies just fell in love with Kerri and it will be a sad afternoon after school today when it sinks in that’s she’s really gone. 😦

A goat! πŸ™‚

This is the entrance to the “Adventures of Urchin the Hedgehog”, better known as “The Ultimate and Definitive Guide to the Extremely Boring Life of the Porcupine’s Ridiculously Cute Cousin.”

It all started innocently. You have to read the storyboards and then there are little displaysΒ  of Urchin and his various benign and tedious adventures.

Look here. Urchin’s talking to a mouse. Man…that’s exciting stuff.

The kids were highly entertained however.

Lara is learning all about what Urchin does and doesn’t eat.

The big kids, however, were hoping that at some point in the story, Urchin’s big brother would take him to a pub and subsequently that there would be a pub for us to enjoy. Alas….

Urchin makes a bridge from a plank….

Kids are still highly entertained.

No children were harmed in the making of this photo.

I don’t want you to think I’m a stick in the mud or anything. The hedgehog adventure was just a bit long. We weren’t expecting to walk the perimeter of a huge field. And cleverly enough, the trail ended directly opposite of the gift shop. Those sneaky little buggers….

Next stop: Triangular Lodge.

From the website:

This delightful triangular building was designed by Sir Thomas Tresham (father of one of the Gunpowder Plotters) and constructed between 1593 and 1597. It is a testament to Tresham’s Roman Catholicism: the number three, symbolising the Holy Trinity, is apparent everywhere. There are three floors, trefoil windows and three triangular gables on each side. On the entrance front is the inscription ‘Tres Testimonium Dant’ (‘there are three that give witness’), a Biblical quotation from St John’s Gospel referring to the Trinity. It is also a pun on Tresham’s name; his wife called him ‘Good Tres’ in her letters.

The girls were trying to be as triangular as possible.

One of the rooms on the ground floor.

One of the teeny windows.

We actually overestimated how long we’d be here. We thought it would be much bigger and much cooler, however, it is what it is. Bizarre and old. πŸ™‚ Colin had planned for us to be there for 15 minutes and I think we were there for 5. Barely. πŸ™‚

We had one more stop planned on our itinerary, Boughton House. We thought that the house was open and that the grounds would be closed according to the website. Unfortunately, we drove out there and it was all shut up. There were two entrances, the main gate and the delivery entrance (which was open). I was seriously contemplating driving up the delivery entrance and seeing if anyone said anything. Colin, being the do-gooder of the bunch, strongly discouraged me and gave me that “Don’t act like a donkey, Jan.” look and I was put in my place.

If I was in the Duke of Buccleuch’s shoes, I wouldn’t want a bunch of crazy, worn-out kids and their trespassing guardians to sneak up to my house, interrupt my tea and ask if they could have the ground tour.

However, if I was the Duke of Buccleuch, I would seriously think about clarifying my noble little website and then I would send a “Crowley Family & Guest” invitation to visit my home. I would teach them how to play Croquet and I would give them all the buttered scones they could fit into their deserving little bellies.

After Anne and Linus left us, we had about 4 days to get our house cleaned up again and prepared for our second house guest of the year. We’ve known Kerri for many years, but with our busy lives and hers, we didn’t always get to spend a lot of time with her. (And that’s not even taking into consideration the ocean.)

Now we were gearing up for 4+ days of non-stop Kerri-packed fun! I picked her up on Thursday from the airport and we headed home to pick the kiddos up from school. It was so good to see her, and of course, she looked fabulous. πŸ™‚ So, after we got the kiddos calmed down and all that jazz, we grilled burgers for dinner and then we cut some rhubarb from the garden and made a rhubarb, apple, and raspberry crumble pie. YUM. Seriously. Then we played RockBand and made complete boneheads of ourselves. πŸ™‚

On Friday we took her to Burghley House. We’d told her about the deer we got to meet the previous weekend and she was on board from the word “deer”. Plus we had a hankerin’ for some more crack fish & chips, so went to Linford’s again, as well. I can safely say that if you come to my house for a visit, I will probably take you to Burghley house and then to Linford’s. It’s becoming a little tradition around here.

And, dude…we deliver.

Our neighbor from Germany came for a visit with her son. Our kiddos were playmates for most of the time we lived in Germany and I introduced her to paper scrapbooking. Her husband can now solidly count himself among the ranks of men who have lost their wives to a cardstock textured delirium resulting in the licking of paper and hoarding of ribbons and reclaimed junk drawer goodness. πŸ™‚

I lent Anne my camera while we went to Burghley House for the ambitiously named “Jazz Fest”. When I think of a music fest (any kind), I think of lots of different performers…various styles…a good sound system…and a crowd… What I don’t imagine is 3 ancient English chaps trying desperately to squeeze a mix of jazz and Dixie Land out of their poor little lungs to a crowd no larger than 5. It was sweet having background music playing while we toured the Sculpture Garden, but it was hardly a fest. At one point I was sure that oxygen tanks were going to wheeled out by prim little nurses after one of the songs. They took many well-deserved 20 minute breaks and I was happy for them. They looked plum tuckered, folks. πŸ™‚

So, without further ado, Anne’s photos.

Burghley House

3 very excited kiddos.

So sweet!

Total goofballs!

My silly Mia. πŸ™‚

Lara anted to take a photo of Anne and Linus, so we graciously obliged. Turned out pretty darling.

Walking through the sculpture garden. No idea what’s up with Mia’s face. πŸ™‚ Lovin

Lara’s pose!

More of the sculpture garden.

A sweet one of Lara.

Love this one!

And then there were 30…

This was the coolest part of the day. The kids just LOVED this. And who can blame them?

Mia said their lips were soft like a bunny. πŸ™‚

And one last one of Mia.

We then proceeded to Market Deeping to go to Linford’s traditional fish & chip shop. It’s rated as one of the top 10 in England (#1 in East England!) and we were not disappointed. Holy beans. I’m not a big fast food fan, but I love this stuff. We had our choice of cod, haddock or plaice and I can say, without a doubt, that haddock is my favorite. Not as “fish stick-y” as the other ones.

And while Anne was here we had scones, clotted cream, and jam. Now I knew what clotted cream was. I’ve even bought it before, but I never cracked it open and ended up sending it home with a friend during his visit so he could give it to his mother. I know the English love this stuff, but I just had no idea how to eat it. Well, apparently you eat it on scones with jam on top, preferably strawberry.So we had that while anne was here and I fell in love. I don’t know how I can live without this stuff. I think I am going to have to see if I can make it myself. Who knows…it may be doable. And next time we have it, I’ll be sure to take a pic. πŸ™‚

Anne’s visit was far too short, but we managed to squeeze in some good times. πŸ™‚ Ciao, all!

Noodle has many nicknames. Noodle, obviously. But she is also referred to as The Doots. It might have a subliminal connection to The Dude…we’re not sure.

This day, the Doots and I were just bummin’ around, eating popsicles and bowls of fruit. It was a good day.

I was peeking at her through the sunroom. She had no idea I was there.

A colorful rendition of “Winko Dars”.

Kicking at a bit of nothing on the ground.

Making sure it good and wiped away.

I set out the picnic blanket for her in the backyard and I was peeking at her through the kitchen window.

I then moved to hte back door and she caught me. Love this pic. πŸ™‚

A sunny face smile. πŸ™‚

Checking out the most delicious “pop picko” in the world.

A bit of stretching…for good measure.

Gnawing on the pop picko and checking in on what Mommy’s doing.

Finally noticing the camera and giving a loud, orange, pop picko-ly “CHEESE!

It was a very good day. πŸ™‚

I’m surprised anyone even checks this blog anymore. Sorry I haven’t been around. Our life has been absolutely insane the last few weeks. Each of us has been sick in turn, although I have born the brunt of most of it. Let’s sum it up with “ALLERGIESHIVESSINUSRAGINGSORETHROATMIGRAINES” and call it a day. πŸ™‚ The sore throat is still hanging on for dear life. No amount of saltwater gargling, heavy duty lozenges, Chloraseptic spray or tea is helping. Although…ice cream feels really good. And popsicles. Mmmmm…popsicles. So, needless to say, I have lost a few pounds over the last few days andΒ  my tummy is continually growling as the only thing I can manage to get through my incredibly swollen ( and raw and scratchy) throat is ice-cold, sugar-filled nothingness.

also, we have had 3 house guests on two separate occasions. (Our latest left just this morning.) And our next one arrive sin a week. We’ve got quite a busy summer ahead of us. And, of course, in all the frenzy of the past few weeks I managed to get a few new products into the store but then ran out of steam when it came to telling everyone about them. Yay, me!

So I’m going to make a couple of posts covering our latest adventures. And, yes, I still went on all the day trips and tried to be a trooper. That’s what good hostesses do, right? πŸ™‚ K, I’ll update more in a bit when I’ve got the edited photos. πŸ™‚ Ciao!

Thanks so much for all the awesome layouts! It was so sweet to see everyone’s entries! They were all so wonderful that I had to bring in my CT to help me decide! πŸ™‚ So, the winners are:

1st: Natasha (bcnatty)

2nd: Annalee

I will email your coupon codes to you in the morning!

Thanks so much! I will be emailing all the entrants a coupon for this template!

Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚