30 March 2007

28 March 2007

Happy Birthday, Blog!

Today marks the one-year birthday of my blog. (Yes, this cake has three candles, but I couldn't find an image I liked with just one.) I wish I had something exciting to post today, but I don't. I wish I had something fun to give away, but I assure you that you would not want the things I might give away anyway. On this blog birthday, I do want to say thank you to the few folks who drop by once in awhile. I covet your visits and comments!

Because the truth is that I'm really not that fun anyway :-), I thought I'd take a more analytical approach and see how I'm doing against the goals for this blog that I set out one year ago today. It's sort of a blog performance appraisal. (Yeah, I used to work in human resources.) As posted last year, here are the goals and my assessment of how I'm doing on each.

To discuss various attributes of both cats and cardstock
I think I'm doing pretty well on this one, especially since I added an entire cat shortly after the blog was born. I have recently gone back and categorized most of my posts as either "cats" or "cardstock" (or other labels), so theoretically one could actually COUNT (and even GRAPH!) how many cat-related and how many cardstock-related posts there have been over the past year. But lest I give some of you (and you know who you are, DB!) even more reason to call me a complete NERD, I shall refrain from further analysis. :-)

To write more, especially stuff that could be used for my scrapbooks
OK, I am actually writing more frequently because of the blog. We could certainly debate the quality of what I'm writing but nevertheless, much of it is destined to end up as journaling on scrapbook pages. In addition to this "everyday" sort of writing, I am continuing to work on my essays and over the course of this year, I'd like to post a few more of those on the blog for feedback. Hold me to that, OK?

To inspire myself and any wayward soul who might happen to pass this way
This goal is actually somewhat cheesy. In reality, I tend to look inward for inspiration, and if I happen to find it lurking there, I might share that on my blog. Other times I look outward for inspiration, in which case I'd find it on someone else's blog, not my own. I don't believe my blog can inspire me directly, but it can be a reflection of inspiration acquired elsewhere. (Deep, huh?) Now, I think I'm doing fairly well in the "wayward souls" category, and I'm grateful for every one who stops by occasionally! If you happen find something useful, inspirational, or day-brightening here, that would satisfy me.

To avoid political ramblings, if at all possible

This was, in fact, a lofty goal and is becoming more so each day. I have very strong political leanings but I make a point to NEVER discuss politics with my extended family or friends. I could easily write every day about my political opinions, but then, as DH said, my blog would no longer be "kitschy". (As an aside, one could call this a back-handed compliment, as "kitsch" refers to "anything that claims to have an aesthetic purpose but is tawdry and tasteless." Surely he couldn't have been referring to my blog in that manner. I bet he really meant to say "kitty." Yeah, that's the ticket.)

To learn how to add cool features to my blog, thus improving my technical skills
I think I've had some success in this department, as I converted to the new Blogger Beta this year (that may sound impressive but actually required no technical skill on my part) and have added more items of interest in my sidebar (again, fairly straightforward). I recently changed the blog template to improve readability. I'd like to do a custom banner and add more features over time.

To look really hip by having a blog!
In my ongoing efforts to achieve hipness, at every possible opportunity, I mention to my teenage daughter's friends that I have a blog. This bold proclamation is usually met by weak smiles from the friends and screams from DD, "Mom! Do NOT tell them about your blog!" I feel momentarily nerdish but recover quickly by telling myself that in fact, the average teenager is probably not my target audience, so it really doesn't matter if he or she thinks I'm hip. I'm here for the older, perhaps (but not necessarily) more mature crowd, who most definitely might call me hip, just because I have a blog. Please?

Anyway, it's been great fun having the blog this year, and I am looking forward to all the blog posts yet to be thunk of. I hope you'll continue to stop back once in awhile. I do enjoy the company.

27 March 2007

Please Join Us: Crop for the Cure

This is Karli, the daughter of my friend, Darci. Karli is a 6th grader who was diagnosed two years ago with juvenile diabetes. This illness has affected every aspect of Karli's life, as well as that of her family. Yet Karli and her family have turned this very difficult situation into a major force for good. Almost overnight, they became champions of the cause, speaking out for other kids who suffer from diabetes. Karli has become a polished and professional young woman, speaking confidently on television, on the radio, and in front of lawmakers about the difficulties of living with her condition and the urgency to find a cure.

And they are raising money. Lots of it.
To help Karli and other kids like her, we are hosting a Crop for Cure on Saturday, April 28 in Ankeny, Iowa. If you live within driving distance of central Iowa, I hope you will join us. Check out the registration form on our blog: Crop for the Cure . All of the money we raise will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It promises to be a great day of scrapbooking, meeting new friends, and moving us one step closer to the cure.

24 March 2007

Pass-Along Poem

A few weeks ago in the midst of some really nasty winter weather, two of my online buddies (Sharon and Connie) and I wrote this little poem. We passed it back and forth via e-mail, adding a verse or two. I'm calling it a pass-along poem. It was very fun and would be great to use on a page. Try making up a pass-along poem with some of your online friends!

Snow blows sideways, wind is roaring
Just as loud as husband's snoring.
I can't see across the street
Snow and gusty wind and sleet.

Can't get in and can't get out
nothing left to do but sit home and pout.
But I won't cry and I won't frown
I'll just put on my purple nightgown

(this is a reference to my sadly ripped, but awesomely comfortable, pajamas)

So while the winds whip and rage
I'll work on another scrapbook page
And chat with friends across the miles
Because they always bring me smiles.

Let's all laugh, let's all cheer
for Springtime is almost here.

23 March 2007

Feline Friday

Cats are glorious creatures who must on no accounts be underestimated...

Their eyes are fathomless depths of cat-world mysteries.

Lesley Anne Ivory

22 March 2007

Observations on a Thursday

Today's observations, in no particular order and of no particular value:

* Some days, a person just needs a Diet Coke.
* There are small, green nubs coming up in my perennial gardens.
* Never give yourself only one day to reconstruct a year's worth of unorganized receipts and records into something presentable for the accountant.
* Eukanuba makes a delicious dry weight control food for cats. But if you eat twice as much as recommended, you do defeat the purpose.
* Trying on jeans is one of the more humiliating experiences in life.
* When I have the time to scrapbook, I don't always feel like it.
* When I feel like scrapbooking, I don't have the time.
* Cold pizza, right out of the box, is a good thing.
* I have no patience for Internet outages.
* It's nice to have a clean house.
* But it never lasts long enough for anyone to see it.
* As of next week, my blog will be one year old.
* The week after that, Lily will be one year old.
* New braces cost $4,320. No extra charge for purple.

* Friends can brighten your day.
* Teenage daughters can brighten your day, too, when they're not causing you stress.
* Pregnant robins look uncomfortably large.
* Nothing beats Creme Brulee creamer.
* Unfinished projects make me crazy.
* I have a lot of unfinished projects.
* If spring break were extended for a few more days, I would not complain.
* When teenagers are "going out", this does not mean they are actually going anywhere.
* Teaching a teenager to drive requires a significant amount of patience and Diet Coke.
* Too much Diet Coke causes heart palpitations.

20 March 2007

Oh. My. Gosh.

I'm an NPR sort of person. I like documentaries and I read non-fiction. I am also a font addict.

Given the above, just imagine my excitement when I learned about the recent launch of the following:

a documentary about the font, Helvetica, and how it has infused all aspects of our lives.

Check it out: Helvetica

This could be life-changing, or at least life-affirming.

Scrapbooking Q&A

My friend Kristina posted a questionnaire from 2Peas on her blog, and since I read her blog, I am now tagged. Thanks, Kristina! If you're a scrapbooker, these are good questions to think about, and they'd be even better on a layout. So I'll do as she did: If you're reading this, you're officially tagged! Go post your answers!

How long have you been scrapping? Ten years, I think.

What one word describes your scrapping style: Simple

How many times have you been published? Once in CK, several times in craft books

Would you rather do layouts or make cards? Hmmm...I’d rather teach card classes than layout classes, but I’d rather make layouts than cards. Yet most of the time, I make neither layouts nor cards. How’s that?

Do you paper craft? (I didn't know "paper craft" was a verb! Kind of like "waitressing" or "jump roping"...) Yep, I do make a few things other than cards and layouts. In a past life, I’ve even made some lovely items with pinecones, a la Martha Stewart, although that would not be considered paper crafting. I also made a set of hanging filbert nut balls a few years back and have been ridiculed by my family ever since.

Have you tried or converted to digital scrapping yet? I did give it a whirl recently and found it somewhat cumbersome. I really don’t need any reason to spend more time at my computer, so I don’t think going completely digital would ever be for me. Plus, I love the tactile nature of scrapbooking and would miss that if I went digital.

What’s your least favorite layout ever? Gosh, I have several that would be in that category, including some really dreadful ones from when I first started scrapbooking. Terrible color choices, sticker sneeze, decorative scissors gone wild...the whole works.

What’s your most favorite layout ever? I like layouts that tell a good story. One of my recent favorites is the one about Lily, “The Things They Never Told Me”, which is posted on this blog.

Do you consider yourself a poor, fair or great journaler? I actually think journaling is my strength, but I don’t always make the effort to demonstrate that as well as I could on layouts.

Do you follow the trends or scrap for yourself? I definitely don’t follow many trends. I do pick a few that I like and tend to stick with them.

What’s the worst scrapbook product you ever purchased? I’m not really a product person, so I don’t think I’ve ever purchased any real duds. But I’ve tried a few duds, including the infamous circle scissors, which I’m incapable of operating.

What’s your favorite scrapbooking tool? My computer and my wide-format printer. I guess that's two, huh?

Do you scrap better alone or with others? Definitely alone. I (pathetically) cannot scrap with others. If I go to a crop, I have to literally pre-do all my layouts at home, so all I have to do is adhere them when I get to the crop. It completely defeats the purpose of going in the first place, since I have to spend hours doing everything ahead of time. I have been known to go to crops and just sort photos or organize memorabilia, since I can’t crop in public. It’s sort of an issue with me. I’m thinking of having this put on a shirt: “Does not crop well with others”.

Are you on any design teams? Nope, but I do design work for the store where I teach.

If the “industry” came to a halt today, would you continue scrapping exactly as you do today? Yep. All I need is cardstock, photos, a pen or my computer, a trimmer, and adhesive, and I could scrapbook for the rest of my life. If the industry came to a halt, it really wouldn't change how I scrapbook.

What’s on your scrapbook desk this very moment? Oh, my. New adhesive (just purchased today), a pile of stuff that needs to be put away, a stack of magazines and catalogs with ideas tagged, stamp cleaner, and various odds and ends. It’s actually cleaner than usual.

What’s your favorite thing about scrapping? Most definitely, telling the story. Scrapbooking gives me a reason to write. Not that I really NEED a reason, since I'd write anyway, but it gives me good content.

Cards for Kids & Grandkids

I finished another couple of class projects this week. For this particular class, we'll make 12 cards suitable for giving to kids and decorate a tin as well. I'm having students choose their own papers for the tin and divider cards so that they can match the tin to their decor if desired.

Also pictured are the six cards we'll make for boys. I used the Three Bugs in a Rug Spicy line along with paper from Making Memories. In addition, I used dingbats printed in brown for the artwork on the cards (this is the dingbat font). This worked really well and gave me a lot of design flexibility. The six cards for girls are similar but are made with the Three Bugs Tickled Pink line.

This should be a very fun, fast-paced class. I'm excited to teach card classes again this quarter. It's been too long!

19 March 2007

My Hero

I've been working on class projects for the past several days, proceeding at the speed of very old, sticky molasses.

This one is finally done, and I'm very excited about it. I used a Karen Foster chipboard album, trimmed the pages in graduated fashion, then removed half of them and attached them to the back cover using rings. This album is actually based on the one I made awhile back for myself about achieving order in my life. (Hey, how's that going for you, BTW? Gee, not very well, thank you.)

Perhaps the theme of this album is more realistic than achieving order in one's life: Choose someone who has been a hero to you in some way and make an album to celebrate that person. At the time I was picking out paper to make this project, DD was working on a mammoth English project about a hero in her own life. (Rather than Martin Luther, Jimmy Carter, or ME, she thoughtfully chose J.K. Rowling, which of course necessitated spending extensive time on various Harry Potter websites doing "research". As one might imagine, the amount of "research" being conducted was the subject of considerable debate at our house.) Serendipitously, I selected the Scenic Route Metropolis line for the project and, under the heading of "Art Imitates Life", decided that the hero concept actually did have some merit.

I'll be anxious to hear from students who they select as their hero. I'm expecting people to choose fathers, mothers, grandparents, teachers, and friends. I hope to hear stories about how these heroes have been an inspiration and guiding light. I expect I'll learn of triumph over adversity and persistence in the face of great difficulty. Really, there should be no need to check Harry Potter websites.

16 March 2007

Read My Visor

Hey, people, my name is Tinsel and I live here, too. I can't figure out why I don't get nearly as much publicity on this blog as that stupid Lily cat. She annoys me constantly -- eats my food, steals my napping spots -- yet SHE gets all the glory. I may not be as outgoing as Lily but I am just as attractive (probably even more so, now that I've shed a pound since she's been eating my food), and I've been around a lot longer than that irritating little twerp.

But NOOOOOO.....She gets just about every single Feline Friday blog post, and a bunch of other ones, too. Did you see that last post about her in the sink? She's so stupid she just lets the water run all over her. And look at her in that t-shirt over at the right side of the screen. How could she possibly think that shirt is flattering? I mean, just look at that gut. Yet there she sits, shamelessly asking for attention.

Well, I'm fed up with this lopsidedness. My name is Tinsel and I deserve attention, too. After all, I'm the one with my name embroidered on a visor.

15 March 2007

Wet Lily

Look at this cat. See how wet she is. Notice the beads on her fur. Imagine the cold water pooling underneath her body.

I know all about cats in sinks.

I know all about cats drinking water from sinks.

But this?

Just how far from normal are we here?

13 March 2007

End of the Season

This past weekend marked the end of the competitive season for jazz band and show choir. The dress is in the garment bag, the jazz charts are packed away, and the foam rollers are boxed up until next year. Although the past three months have been crazy, with at least one competition every weekend, I have to say that I'm sad that the season is over.

Both of DD's groups have had a great season: Her jazz band competed three times, placing first at two events and second at the other. She progressed in her drum set skills, taking on a couple of complex Latin tunes, and she gained confidence in her improvisation skills on vibes as well, earning citations on three occasions for outstanding soloist. The show choir competed four times, earning two first place and two second place finishes, once against older varsity choirs.

Here are some things I will remember about the season:
* It takes 36 foam rollers and at least 10 hours of "set" time to achieve that "show choir look".
* DD can execute a complete costume change in less than 10 seconds. This does NOT mean that she can get dressed quickly in the morning.
* If your pants start to fall down in the middle of the performance, leave the stage immediately. Do not attempt to hold up your pants with one hand while dancing.
* Never underestimate the power of Mountain Dew. Or aerosol hair spray.
* Show choir is a slightly insane competitive sport. Jazz band is competitive, but not a sport.
* Band geeks make the best friends.
* Some moms cry at show choir competitions.
* You are plenty strong enough to carry your own equipment, but it's nice to have some help once in awhile.
Competition is fierce. If you're not committed, get out of the way.
* Convertible tights are a great invention.
* All of those 7am morning practices paid off.
* "My Funny Valentine" may be boring for the drummer, but it's a beautiful tune.
* Some moms cry during "My Funny Valentine."
* You're good enough to hold your own against older kids. Don't forget that.
* Some show choir parents are rabidly competitive. Do not sit next to them.

* Bleachers get really hard after a few hours.
* You will never get good pictures unless you invest in a fast-action digital camera. Quit trying and just buy the professional ones. It's only money.
* Kids grow and change exponentially during competition season.
* These years are the very, very best of times.

09 March 2007

Feline Friday: Addicted to TV

Hey, Mom! When does my show come on? Can I watch it now? Please? I'm all ready to watch it, Mom!

A sad commentary, indeed, when the cat waits in front of the TV for her DVD to start.

Reading: The Artist's Way

As I've perused various blogs over the past few months, I've seen several references to The Artist's Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron. From what I've read, this book appears to have been helpful to many people who work in the creative arts and struggle, as we all do, with blocks along the creative pathway. The author claims to be able to "unblock" blocked writers, artists, and others seeking a spiritual pathway to creativity. The concepts she outlines are actually in line with my desire to put "order" into various parts of my life this year, including my creative self.

Little did I know that this is not a book to read lightly and set aside: The author actually requires homework, notably writing in a journal of sorts every day (she refers to this as Morning Pages) and making creativity "dates" with oneself (called Artist's Dates). In addition to these tasks, there are additional homework assignments along the way. I have to admit that so far I am intrigued by the concepts outlined in the first couple of chapters and I like the idea of freeing my mind via daily journaling. At the same time, however, I'm skeptical about my ability to stick with the rigor of the assigned tasks.

As a child, I was very creative and highly involved in art and writing, but as I got older, perfectionism took hold and I gradually stopped doing anything of a creative nature because I thought I wasn't "good enough". Only through scrapbooking have I gained back enough confidence to open up this side of my mind again. At the same time, I'm filled with doubts about it being "too late" for me to change my path.

I'm hoping that this book will help me sort through these feelings and get back to who God created me to be in the first place.

06 March 2007

Poetry from the past

Over the years, I've written several pieces of poetry, much of it free-form. The piece that follows is one that I wrote in my journal as a freshman in college following the emotional end of a long-term relationship. When I read this today, I can still feel that searing pain. I've been thinking about this particular piece lately, because it confirms to me that no matter how painful or uncomfortable a subject might be, writing about it can open doors to healing. And what a privilege it is to be able to read and reflect upon that writing years later.

As the morning sun creeps through the window,
I pull up the covers, hide my eyes.

My first day Without You.

What went wrong?

The alarm clock jolts me back into my routine.
I mustn't think, I mustn't feel.
Keep the mind occupied, the hands busy,
and leave no room for hurting.

I am numb.

I know somewhere across the city you, too, are waking.
Will today be any different than yesterday for you?

I can see your rumpled hair, your sleepy eyes as you pad to the refrigerator.
That shirt you're putting on is one I bought you for Christmas last year.

How can I fool myself into believing we're no more than "friends"?
You know as well as I that I will never be able to be near you again; I'll never be able to call you a "dear, old pal".

The warmth of the bathroom comforts me, and the water from the shower hides my tears.

jp 1981

02 March 2007

Feline Friday: Flannel Jammies

We're having a snow day here. There is actually a blizzard warning today. I think that label is probably overkill for the weather we're having right now. Although snow is blowing and drifting and the roads are slippery, I've certainly seen more severe weather in these parts.

But whatever you call it, it's cold outside and warm inside. It's the perfect kind of day to stay in your jammies as long as your mom will let you.

Especially flannel jammies with lace trim, if you can still get them fastened around your fat little belly after your three breakfasts.