A Meaningful Question...

This cracked me up and I had to read it a couple of times before I got it!

Did you hear about the dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac? He stayed up all night trying to decide if there really was a dog!
-- Jack Gray

I have two recipes to share with you today. My middle son Nick is my pickiest eater. These are his two very favorite dishes...

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

1 pound linguini
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large shallot, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
20 large shrimp, about 1 pound, peeled and deveined, tail on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

This is the only Shrimp Scampi recipe you will ever need. It is from Tyler Florence.

Nick's other favorite is Stir Fried Beef and Broccoli. This is delicious!!

Here is the recipe:

2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons grated ginger
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons hoisin sauce
3 teaspoons honey
4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
2 pounds petite sirloin steak sliced into strips.
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large heads broccoli, cut into florets and blanched
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Steamed white rice, for serving (we like the sticky Jasmine rice)

Combine the garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and honey. Mix well and set aside until ready to use. Preheat a wok or a large skillet. Once it has reached a medium heat, add 1/2 of the peanut oil. Dredge the beef in the cornstarch, lightly shake off any excess cornstarch and add 1/2 of the beef to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 of the broccoli to the pan and shake frequently.

Add 1/2 of the sauce and stir to evenly coat the beef and broccoli. Cook until the sauce thickens about 5 minutes. Repeat the process with the other half of the ingredients. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.

*It will be easier to slice the beef in thin strips if it has been partially frozen.
This may be able to be done in 1 batch if using a very large wok or skillet. This recipe was originally from Emeril Lagasse but I changed it just a little bit.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!



Mojito Chicken

This is a recipe from the crazy bleached blonde guy from Food Network, Guy Fiere. I like most of his recipes, some, not so much!

I served this Saturday night and it was the first time I had cut the spine out of a whole chicken to cook it flat. I have roasted chickens so many times but never thought of doing this to make the chicken cook faster and more evenly.

Mojito Chicken

4 to 6 servings

1 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) chicken (I used a 5 pound chicken and extended the cooking time)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

Marinade, recipe follows

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Mojito Glaze, recipe follows

Remove backbone of chicken with poultry shears; flatten chicken out by pressing firmly on skin part of chicken so it will sit evenly in a pan.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine all the dry spices and rub chicken with spice mixture, especially under the skin. Put into a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the marinade, then add chicken to marinade and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Remove chicken from marinade and shake off excess marinade. In a large saute pan over medium to high heat, add 4 tablespoons of extra- virgin olive oil. When oil is hot, place chicken skin side down and sear.

When skin is golden brown flip chicken and add 1/2 cup of marinade into pan; place pan in oven and cook the chicken for 25 minutes or until chicken has internal temperature of 165 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the chicken from oven and brush with Mojito Glaze. Place chicken under broiler for 5 minutes. Remove from broiler, cut and serve immediately with more glaze on the side.

1 cup orange juice
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sliced garlic
1/4 cup dark rum (I use Whalers Dark Rum, very good!!)
Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl.

Mojito Glaze:
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In medium sauce pot, place rum, chicken broth and brown sugar. Reduce by 1/3 over high heat. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together water and cornstarch. When rum mixture is reduced, add cornstarch mixture slowly to simmering liquid and whisk for 3 minutes, until 50 percent thicker. Keep in mind that you might not need all of it. When glaze is at desired thickness, add mint leaves and transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

This was delicious and I served it with homemade sweet potato fries (oven baked) and a homemade key lime pie, YUM!!

And tonight we had the Wonders family over and had Marinated Flank Steak which I have shared with you recently. You've gotta try it.

I made this for dessert:

Chocolate Chip Pie


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2-sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cups chopped walnuts, optional (I omitted due to our guests' allergies)

Whipped cream:
2 pints (4-cups) heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) pie plates; set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, and mix until fully combined. Fold in the 3 cups chocolate chips and, if desired, the walnuts. Divide the dough between the prepared pie plates and smooth the tops with a spatula.

Bake about 30 minutes or until pies are golden and slightly firm to the touch but still soft. If the pies begin to darken too much before they are baked through, cover with foil and continue baking. Let pies cool completely on a wire rack.

While the pies cool, whip the cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Refrigerate whipped cream until ready to use. Spread the whipped cream over the pies, sprinkle mini chocolate chips for garnish and serve.

I apologize that my scrapbooking blog has turned into a cooking blog that will soon turn into a baseball blog! Thats just how I roll, lol. Thanks for following and much love to you!



Red Velvet Heaven!

As promised, I'm going to share some amazing recipes with you. This recipe was originally from Paula Deen (love her!) but I tweaked it just a bit.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Softasilk Cake Flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar (I use superfine sugar for baking)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature*
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (make sure you sift so it is smooth!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

*For the buttermilk, I never go buy expensive buttermilk from the store. I simply add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk and let it sit for five minutes, and voila! Instant buttermilk!

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

I use the large star tip to frost the cupcakes.

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That's my friend's little boy Jake ready to dig in, YUM!



Life is Good!

Really good!

I've been getting a hard time from some of you for not updating my blog! Geesh, sorry! lol!

Things are good, no great. My husband landed a job that will keep us here in Idaho. We are thrilled. Ecstatic!

I am still on my Cooking Frenzy kick! I have lots of yummy recipes to share so look for those soon.

I wish I could get the desire to create like I have the desire to cook. It will come back one of these days.

Thanks to all of my dear friends and family for your prayers and encouragement these past months while K was searching for a job. It meant the world to us and we know that prayer works and good happens!

Here is a quote for you today:

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
-- Anne Bradstreet

Lots of love,


The Design Experiment #44

The latest challenge for The Design Experiment is to do a layout about your favorite quote. I have so many favorite quotes but I chose one that I hear myself repeating more than most. Here is my layout:

The challenges from TDX always focus on the journaling and that is a major challenge for me. I really have to push myself to write and it's been so good for me! I hope that you will check out all of the amazing layouts here and play along with us!

Here are a few cards I have made for Spring:

I just received two new Shimmerz Paints colors in the mail yesterday and I can't wait to play with them. Look for some Shimmering projects soon!

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Need a laugh today?

You Had Me At Idiot is one of my favorite blogs. If you need a laugh, you should read today's blog post here.



New Shimmerz Web Site!

I am excited to announce that Shimmerz Paints has launched a whole new Web site to showcase Shimmerz and Blingz paints! The new site includes photos and bios of the design team, technique tutorials, and a store to purchase Shimmerz products.

The Web address is: http://www.shimmerzpaints.com

Go and check out the SIX NEW COLORS! There are four new Shimmerz colors: Blueberry Cobbler, Caramel, Choc-o-lot and Fire Engine Red (Renn Red!) plus two new Blingz colors: Mellow Yellow and Under the Sea. You can also find out about a new product (can't wait) coming in April!

I ♥ Shimmerz!




I am so excited that I finally got my 55-200mm zoom lens for my Nikon D40X! I was searching for one for my birthday in January and finally found a smoking good deal in March. I can take a picture of my back fence from my scraproom now.

This birdhouse was made by my son years ago in Cub Scouts and we get baby birds in it every spring. The huge trees from the house behind us lend us the branches because these trees were planted in the seventies but we pay close attention to what is happenin' in the house! There is no activity yet but soon!

Here is a zoom shot of one of my pussy willow trees just dying to bud! Spring is coming, I can feel it!

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Be Thankful

I think I may have shared this before but I love it and I live it...

The young student asked the Master: "What is the best way to begin and finish each day?"

The Master replied: "By giving thanks."

"But what if there is nothing to be thankful for," asked the boy.

The master smiled and said: "There is always something to be thankful for."

Author Unknown

But Very Much Appreciated!


What's Cookin' for St. Patty's Day?

Top O' The Mornin' to ya!

I have had a house full of sick kids lately so I'm all about the easy slow cooker recipes this week. Love my Crock Pot!

Here is what's going into my Crock Pot for St. Patty's Day:

Corned Beef and Cabbage

one 4 lb. corned beef brisket
6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2" chunks
2 onions, cut into quarters
1 bottle strong beer
3 whole cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 small cabbage, cut into wedges

Glaze (optional):
1/2 c orange marmalade
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp brown sugar

1. In Crock Pot, combine potatoes, carrots and onions. Add corned beef, beer, cloves, peppercorns and brown sugar. Pour in enough water to cover meat and veggies.

2. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 10-12 hours (recommended). Remove meat from liquid and place on baking sheet. Transfer veggies to a platter and keep warm.

3. Pour cooking liquid into a large pot. Secure cabbage wedges with toothpicks and add to liquid. Over medium high heat, bring to boil: reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender.

4. Glaze: Preheat broiler. In a bowl, combine marmalade, mustard and brown sugar. Spoon over corned beef and place under broiler. Broil for 2 minutes.

5. Thinly slice beef against the grain and place on platter with veggies. Add cabbage wedges and serve with additional mustard.

I haven't had the chance to do any creating with scrapbooking or cards or anything so I've been getting my creative groove on in the kitchen!

I hope you try this! It's easy and very yummy. Don't forget the green beer!




Thanks for all who played along and left comments with your favorite sayings!

Melissa chose these two sayings as her favorites:

Sheri said:
Life isnt about waiting for the storm to pass ... its about learning to
dance in the rain .

LBMann said:
The only place your find success before work is in the Dictionary.

Look for these sayings and more to be made into rubber stamps!

Please email me your addresses and Melissa will send you some Lori Renn Designs Stamps from The Rubber Cafe!



embracing imperfection...

I was just reading emily's blog with some blurry and less than perfect pictures. Love them. They reminded me of some pictures I took a couple of months ago. I was sitting on the couch with Nate while he was watching his favorite show, Super Why. I was reading Nikon D40X for Dummies (seriously, I suck at photography). I had my camera on my lap while I was reading about the different settings and features. Nate got all lovey-dovey on me and I turned the camera around and snapped these:

They are blurry. I had no makeup on to cover up my less than perfect complexion but who cares?

Perfectly imperfect.


P.S. If you've got young kids learning to read, you can download a couple of episodes of Super Why for free on your iPod Podcasts. They are a lifesaver for taking Nate out and about in the community!

Oh, and just in case you are new to my blog and wonder why it would be challenging to take a perfectly gorgeous, healthy looking five year old boy into the community, well, he has autism and therefore has trouble with transitions like getting into and out of the car, store, etc. Having him watch Super Why, even without the sound helps tremendously and was brought to my attention by Nate's therapist, Cristina. She uses the Super Why on the iPod trick with her "typical" (non-autistic) 2 year old while shopping or eating out. So this may work with your challenging toddlers!

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A day of ups and downs...

So we all have them. Days with highs and lows. We woke up to a cold house, heat not working. No biggie, layer up, call the repair man. Stuff happens.

I got to help a friend in need today by providing a kick ass meal. I can cook. My mom's way of saying she loved ya was to feed ya. That's how I roll too.

Finally sat down to my favorite show tonight, Ugly Betty, and the Direct TV goes all screwey. No biggie. Stuff happens. I read a book with Nate. Big Red Dog he calls him, you know, Clifford. Good stuff.

Joe, my teenage son wanted to "talk" tonight. Love it. Love that my big boy loves to talk to his mom about stuff. Talked for a long time. Laughed and cried. Good stuff.

I love this blog. Keeps me grounded. She keeps it real.

That's all I've got. I'm so tired.

I'll leave you with a quote:

Do not take life too seriously.
You will never get out of it alive.
-- Elbert Hubbard

Good advice.


What's Cookin'?

Those who know me well know about my passion for cooking, for good food and wine! I've been on a kick lately to try new recipes. My friend Jenny Lemons who does not cook challenged me to duplicate her husbands favorite dish which is the Chicken Scallopini from Macaroni Grill. Well I dug a little on the internet and found the exact recipe! It's no wonder it's delicious, it has FOUR STICKS OF BUTTER in the sauce! Last night I made the recipe pretty close to how it was supposed to be made. I left out one stick of butter and added more lemon juice, some lemon zest and of course some more wine! I think next time I make it I will cut the butter down to two sticks. Seriously, I'm all for cooking with butter but a whole pound??

Here is the recipe. Let me know if you try it or if you have any questions!

Chicken Scallopini

Lemon Butter Sauce
4 ounces lemon juice
2 ounces white wine
4 ounces heavy cream
1 lb butter (4 sticks)

Chicken and Pasta
6-8 chicken breasts (3-ounces each, pounded thin for even cooking)
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), for sauteing chicken
butter, for sauteing chicken
2 3/4 cups flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging
6 ounces pancetta, cooked
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
12 ounces artichoke hearts, sliced (I buy the frozen ones in the box)
1 tablespoon capers
1 lb cappellini pasta(angel hair), cooked
chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley, for garnish
To make the sauce:.
Heat the lemon juice and white wine in a saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a boil and reduce by one-third.
Add cream and simmer until mixture thickens (3 to 4 minutes).
Slowly add butter until completely incorporated.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and keep warm.
To make chicken and pasta:.
Cook pasta and drain.
Heat a small amount of oil and two tablespoons butter in a large skillet.
Dredge chicken in flour and saute in pan, turning once, until brown and cooked through.
Remove chicken from pan.
Add remaining ingredients to pan.
Heat until mushrooms soften and are cooked. Add chicken back to pan.
To serve:.
Place cooked pasta on each plate.
Add half of butter sauce to chicken mixture and toss.
Taste and adjust. Add more sauce if needed.
Place chicken mixture over pasta.
Add a little more sauce to each.
Garnish with parsley.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Rachel Ray (love her! love that she can laugh at herself!) and she made a dish for people who LOVE spinach and artichoke dip. She made Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese. I made it the other night and it was delish!

Here is the recipe:


1 pound regular or whole wheat penne (I used farfalle, the little bowties)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups milk
A few grates fresh nutmeg (I didn't have fresh so I used the jarred stuff)
1 box frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces), defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
1 box frozen chopped artichokes (10-ounces), defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
Ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top


Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.

Place a large pot of water over high heat to cook the pasta. When the water is boiling, salt it well and drop the pasta in. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve.

While the pasta is cooking, place a medium pot over medium-low heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons, and the butter. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook the veggies until very soft, about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and sprinkle the flour into the pan. Cook for about 1 minute then whisk the wine into the pan, cooking for another minute to burn off the alcohol. Whisk the milk into the pan and bring up to a bubble. Add the nutmeg, veggies, some salt and pepper to the sauce, and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Add the cheeses to the sauce and stir until melted.

Toss the prepared sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a casserole dish. Sprinkle some more Fontina and Parmigiano over the top and bake until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Now I did not have any Fontina cheese and didn't feel like running to the store for one ingredient so I substitued mozzarella cheese. I'm sure this dish would be delish with any good cheese!

This could be served as a main dish. You could even add some diced or shredded chicken. I served it as a side dish along with some grilled steaks. Okay, I also have to share my very favorite steak marinade with you. It's so good. It even makes an inexpensive cut of steak taste great!

Here's the recipe:

Steak Marinade

1-2 lbs Steak
1/3 cup Spicy V8
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 cloves of garlic
1 TBSP Chili powder
1/8 TBSP Cumin

Score steak in a criss-cross pattern. Marinate for 2-3 days. Barbeque.

Note: I also add 1/2 can of Coke & a shot of Tequila to my marinade if I have them on hand.

Today I am making french bread. Yes, I know I can go to the store and buy a loaf for 99 cents but you can't buy the way your house smells while it is baking! I am also making a brushetta topping for it but I have never written down how I make that so I'll have to pay attention to that today so I can share it with you.

Here's the french bread recipe:


1 TBSP Yeast
4 c Flour; sifted
1 TBSP Sugar
1 Egg White; Slightly Beaten
1 1/2 c Water; lukewarm
1 TBSP Water; (egg glaze)
2 tsp Salt

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Sift the dry ingredients, stir them into the yeast mixture, and work the dough with your hands until it will absorb no more flour. Knead the dough on a slightly floured board until it is no longer sticky. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Then punch it down and turn it out onto a floured board. Divide into 2 parts. Shape each piece into a long, narrow loaf. Place the loaves on a greased cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal, cover, and let rise again (until doubled in size). Brush tops with egg-white glaze (1 egg white slightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water) and bake in a 400 degree over for 35 to 40 minutes. Make sure you put it on one of the lower shelves. Brush again with glaze about 5 minutes before loaves are done. Makes 2 small loaves or 1 large one.

Here are some tips:
I put a half inch of water in a pie plate in the bottom of the oven to get that crispy outside of the loaf. Also, I don't knead by hand. I throw the ingredients in my Kitchen Aid and knead with the dough hook.

I hope you enjoy these recipes!



Blown away!

To my delight and surprise, yesterday was "show Lori Renn the love" day on the Shimmerz Paints blog! Make sure you go over there and scroll down and see all of the beautiful projects the design team made with my stamp designs!! These ladies are wicked talented! Love them all.

I'm a little late to the party with this but I have to congratulate the newest members of the Shimmerz Paints design team:

Ali Manning
Claudia Rosa
Danielle Wycough
Deanna Kroll
Jami Bova
Jamie Morris
Jeni Boisvert
Jennifer Ellefson
Karen Taylor
Kim Dellow
Linda Albrecht
Melissa Bove
Stacy Cohen

I'm going to get working on adding links to their blogs in my sidebar so you can get to know them along with me and check out all of their amazing creations!

Today is the first day that I woke up feeling almost back to normal. I have had a yucky cold since Thursday. Now Special K is sick so we're all just taking turns. My friends Jenn and Frank made me chicken soup yesterday and brought it over for dinner. That just blew me away too! I'm always the one taking dinner to peeps so it was such a treat! Thank you, my friends!!

I love all of your upbeat sayings and quotes that you have been leaving on my last post. Keep them coming all day today and I'll have Melissa pick her faves tomorrow. Post them right here!! We all need a little uplifting these days! Here was the paper in Boise this morning:

Forcing myself to take a break from reading the paper and watching the news. So depressing. Maybe I'm sticking my head in the sand, but why not pretend it's the sand on a beautiful beach in Hawaii! :0)

There will be a new challenge up at The Design Experiment today. Go check out the challenge here.

Here is my layout for the challenge. I did it on my favorite color, RED!

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I hope some of you will play along with this challenge!

March started out pretty darn great for me! I hope you all had a great weekend.