Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving in Review and Christmastime is Here

WARNING! LONG POST AHEAD! GET A CUP OF COCOA AND SETTLE IN FOR A SPELL...For some reason, I haven't felt all that much like blogging lately. I'm sure it has something to do with all the hubbub of the holiday that just passed and the season we are now being hurled into. My photos of our day are not all that great, and that was another hangup that was keeping me from posting. The picture of "my boys" is blurry, but it's the only one I snapped, so forgive the poor photography.

I worked Thanksgiving morning, and we were crazy busy. Lots of folks coming in and ordering for all the coffee drinkers back at the house. One person=5 drinks. It was nuts, but good at the same time. I like serving people, and to do so on a holiday was special, for some reason. I got home around 1, and the turkey had just started its time in the oven. The potatoes were peeled and cubed and in salted water. The jello salad had been made the night before, so all it needed was Cool Whip. A box of Stove Top and jarred gravy completed our "feast."

While I was working, Bob and Michael also brought up the artificial tree from the basement and Bob was in the process of getting it assembled and strung with lights. I'm happy to let him do that part, although I was very skeptical he'd need the 10 boxes of lights he'd bought to adequately light our 6' tree. EIGHT boxes later, the thing was TRANSFORMED and looking the best it had in years.

I need to digress and share with you how we came to have an artificial tree. We had been cutting down a fresh tree every year of our married life when, on our annual trip to a tree farm--a new one that was 45 min. from our house in the middle of farm country in IL--to find OUR tree for that year, I hit the button that locked not only my keys but my husband's in our Suburban! We called the friends who lived nearest to the farm, and they sent their son to fetch us. He drove us 45 min. back to Wheaton, where we got a spare key. We drove back to the tree farm, and then to our friends' house to return the car.

These friends had an extra artificial tree and offered to give it to us, since the odds of Bob being in the mood to go traipsing through ANY tree farm to procure a tree that year were slim to none. I was very opposed to this tree, and the joy of this Christmas decorating tradition died, to some degree, when he enthusiastically accepted their castoff. I know it sounds like I'm being dramatic, but it just didn't seem special to put out a box, fan out some plastic branches, and decorate this poor imitation of God's creation.

For some reason, though, this year--6 years after that fiasco--has been different. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it has been "unseasonably" cool here--which means it has felt like this time of the year is SUPPOSED to feel! So here is a photo of our tree, replete with almost EVERY ornament Michael has (almost 6 boxes) and ours as well. I really like how it looks. There's an electric train that runs around it, which creates the soundtrack for our days. There are snowmen on my mantel, a single stocking hung there too, and colored lights strung in my son's room that he falls asleep staring at each night.

And so the season begins...I've had a project in mind for MONTHS, and have been collecting for at least a year toward this end, it was only after completing our decorating and reading of other families' traditions on some blogs I follow, that I was inspired to get my rear in gear and actually try to bring this project to fruition.

It starts with these little boxes that hold Starbucks gift cards in bulk. As we have finished up a box, I have snatched them up and brought them home. I've seen Christmas Countdown calendars in various forms, and I knew these boxes would fit the bill perfectly! Well, today was the day that I decided to stop hoarding and start transforming them into boxes fit for little Christmas goodies.

Here's how many I have done to date. They use a 3.75" x 10.25" strip of designer series paper, and I just folded them around the box and made a nice crease at each bend as I went around it. I secured the top flap with Sticky Strip, since I figured it would get the most wear and tear. I want to complete 9 more so that I'll have 24 total. I know they could be much fancier, but I have boys, and they don't care about ribbons and embellishments and all that stuff. Besides, have you looked at the calendar lately? Tomorrow is the 30th, so time is of the essence.

My goal is to hide one somewhere around the house each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 24, and include in it some little goodie or something that has to do with Christmas in it. Our family hasn't had that much success with doing scheduled family Bible readings that would help focus our thoughts on Christ's coming to earth, so I'm open to suggestions for what I could put in these little boxes that might help us all think a little bit about the Reason for the Season and have fun along the way. If you have anything to share, speak up! I'm all ears!

I'm going to stop typing now and continue roasting by the roaring fire we have had going all day. Hope you enjoyed this diatribe. I also hope the rest of your holiday weekend is quiet and peaceful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stress-Free Shopping...Find it Here by the BUNDLE

Then look no further than my website! Just click on the icon at the upper right and shop to your heart's content and SAVE HUGELY!!! Can you say FIFTY PERCENT OFF selected bundles?

There are 17 stamp sets included in this sale:

All in the Family
All in the Family accessories
Well Worn Alphabet
Well Worn Numbers
Punch Pals
Curvy Label Punch stamps
A Good Egg stamp set
Autumn Harvest stamp set
Snow Burst stamp set
Something New to Love
Just Baseball
Just Basketball
Just Football
Wild About You

These are each bundled, either with other sets or with accessories that match the set--like a coordinating punch, card stock, ink pads, etc.--and there are also bundles that feature scrapbook kits, storage solutions, and tools.

You can't afford NOT to at least LOOK at this Bundle Sale. This could make your weekend or set your family up for quick and easy shopping for you! The sale's only good until Dec. 1, so don't delay--shop today!

Click on the 24-hour shopping link above and click your way to stamp happiness.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Have You Missed Me?

I hope you understand that it took about a week before I was ready to return to my craft room, and that's why there weren't any posts last week. Thank you for all your kind, encouraging comments about the cards.

Today I'm back with an exciting opportunity to share with you, especially those of you who live in the Cumming, GA, area. Yesterday my manager at Starbucks asked me if I'd like to host a stamping event at the store. Of course I would! While I was chatting with her about what we could do, the idea came to me to design a simple card that customers could stop by and make in about 10 min. They would then write a brief message on the inside, and Starbucks and I would foot the bill to send them to our wounded soldiers spending the holidays at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Kimmy loved the idea, and I'm going to host 2 drop by sessions: Sunday, Dec. 7, from 2-4pm, and Wed., Dec. 10, from 7-9pm.

Today's challenge staring me in the face was to make a card that could be completed in 10 min. or less!! I wanted it to be something that would be easy for anyone, regardless of age or crafting inclination, to complete. I also wanted to use up some designer paper I had left over from last year. What do you think? It uses River Rock as the base, a strip of retired Dashing DSP, punched 1 3/8" circles in Real Red, Old Olive, and RR, and 1 1/4" circles punched from the DSP that are stamped with snowflakes and heat embossed with white embossing powder. I promise it's fast!

To incent customers further, I'm also going to provide the opportunity for those who participate to make some gift tags. This also uses a retired set, but the goal with this event is not sales, but exposure and the cause of blessing our soldiers with some holiday cheer. I'm hoping all those who are local who read this blog will stop by! There's a free cup of coffee in it for you too.

Remember, the dates are Sunday, Dec. 7, from 2-5pm, and Wed., Dec. 10, from 7-9pm, at the exit 13 Starbucks on the corner of Hwy. 9 and Bethelview in Cumming. No reservations are necessary.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Overnight Report...#3

When I last reported in, there were 7 cards left to make. This post is long, but there's plenty of eye candy, so enjoy! The descriptions are to help me remember what materials I used, so you can read the narrative or just view the pics. I'm going to drop off all 30 tomorrow after work.

This one is one of the female birthday cards. I used a favorite retired set called The Art of Life. The color scheme is Sahara Sand for the card base, with Sage Shadow and Cameo Coral and Mulberry paper.

The area near the store is horse country, so Leah asked if I might be able to do something with horses or a western theme. I went with the Wanted set and chose to incorporate some Pretty in Pink with Sage Shadow and Creamy Caramel and the retired Outlaw DP. This turned out cuter than I expected, and I hope it makes some cowgirl happy.

Then I went back to the bridal category and chose a classic black, white, and silver color combination. I heat embossed the hearts from the Always set on the silver metallic card stock and used a fitting sentiment from God's Blessings for the interior message.

This was a bit difficult to photograph because the heart closest to the black card stock was picking up that color and the other side was picking up the white of the table. They really are the same color! I used the stamp-a-ma-jig to "split" the heart in half on each side. Two hearts becoming one; get it?

Leah had also mentioned that she'd like something with pink and brown, so I used the Doodle jumbo wheel inked with waterproof Basic Brown for this last bridal card, and colored the flowers using the Pretty in Pink and Regal Rose. I used the sentiment from Full of Life stamped on vellum and popped up on a double layer of dimensionals to create this look.

I needed to create a second Thanksgiving card, which was a bit of a stretch, since I don't own any stamps that say "Happy Thanksgiving". I pulled out one of the first sets I bought as a demonstrator--Gorgeous Grapevine. I inked up the main leaf image in Cranberry Crisp, Old Olive, So Saffron, and Pumpkin Pie. I stamped a second leaf in SS and popped it up on dimensionals to give the card a bit more visual interest. The sentiment is from Best Yet.

Making two Christmas cards meant that the finish line was in sight, and I was happy to pull out Peaceful Wishes and make use of a mat that had been laying around on my craft table for weeks. I heat embossed Always Artichoke craft ink and added some pinecones and one that was embossed with Copper Embossing Powder (which is retired). The Copper Metallic paper is also retired SU! product, and I can't understand why it was removed from the product list! It's so stunning! I stamped the sentiment--Peaceful Wishes--with the copper EP as well, and it looks so good against the AA card stock.

I pulled out a set of DSP from last year's Holiday Mini catalog--the name of which escapes me--and found that I'd stored some snowflakes with it. These snowflakes are made using both sizes of the tag punches and mulberry paper, and I just love the focal image they create! I put two on the card, paired it with a snowflake patterned piece and a Handsome Hunter mat, which is a coordinating color with Sage Shadow. Snowflake Spot snowflakes for the envelope and I was DONE!


THIRTY unique cards are ready to be delivered tomorrow. All that remains to make is the signage for the baskets!! Thanks for cheering me on--and giving me freedom from making good meals (you know who you are)--to accomplish this task. I'm super excited to get them to Leah and see what happens.

Pictures to follow later today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We Gathered Together...

What a fun day yesterday was! Six women gathered here and made oodles of Christmas cards that the people in their lives are going to be SO blessed by. I didn't get pictures of everyone, but this one shows the "togetherness" that crafting was. I don't have a ton of table space, so the gals were elbow to elbow as they stamped, punched, tied ribbon, and heat embossed. It's what I think quilting circles used to be like. Chatting and being productive--multitasking at its best!

One of the reasons my SAS was successful was because of a new friend named Patti Montijo. She is an AMAZING card artist, and she has a HUGE and BEAUTIFUL crafting space full of SU! (and other) supplies. Well, on Tuesday I realized I didn't have enough Kraft card stock for all the card fronts that my SAS required. So I sent out an emergency SOS to Patti, and she saved the day by mailing me 10 sheets of said paper. Along with it, she sent a little note, made with a Top Note Sizzix die and an adorable pumpkin. As I was looking at it, I figured out that I could recycle it into a quick and beautiful Thanksgiving card for my stash! A little Haiku DSP, some Old Olive card stock, and it's DONE!

I think this brings the count down to 7 that I need to make, so I think I'll make my deadline. The sentiment I used on the Thanksgiving card is from God's Blessings, and reads, "Blessings brighten when we count them! Thank you for blessing my life in such a wonderful way!" That's how I feel about all of you who read this blog and share crafting with me. Know that you are very much appreciated, even if you don't comment often or at all. I know you're out there, and I'm thankful for the cyber community.

Now I have to get back to my craft room! More coming in awhile!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

I'm sure my friends Cookie or Robin could tell me who the author is of this saying, but whoever he was, he spoke prophetically and correctly about my day! As I stare at the clutter on the dining room table, the dog hair tumbleweeds on the carpet, the folded, but as yet not put away laundry on the bed, the untidied kitchen, and the disastrous state of my crafting space, I can tell I've been on a tear for too long.

All that will need to be done and more card stock will need to be cut before tomorrow's SAS. I did get 4 cards made yesterday, but I'm growing weary, friends.

Okay, here's what I made yesterday. This first card is a CASE of Wendy Janson's layout, and I used Manchester Designer Series Paper. The color scheme for these patterned papers is Always Artichoke, Baja Breeze, Kraft, and Very Vanilla. I found her work perusing through the SAS gallery for cards made using the Party Hearty set. I hope you can see how versatile this set is, now that I've posted a few cards using it! I wrestled a bit with this color combination, but I like this card for a guy. Very masculine and quick and easy. The circle with "celebrate you" is heat embossed, which is a nice subtle detail. I contemplated using twine for some sort of embellishment, but it was too much. Simple is better!

The next card is a reprise of an origami shirt card we made at the June SAS. Here's the link to the instructions I found online. Once I refreshed my memory on how to make it, it went together fairly quickly, and I'm pleased with the results. Do you like the little pocket? There's a piece of Baja Breeze card stock inside for writing a little message. The sleeves have to be folded in in order for it to fit in the envelope, but I put instructions regarding that inside the card for whoever purchases it.

So, that covers the two masculine birthday cards, leaving the female ones. Should be easy, right? Fatigue is effecting my creativity, but I soldiered on last night. I have to tell you, though, that the temptation to plop down on the couch beside Bob and veg out in front of the TV was great. I resisted, though.

Here's another example of incognito retired InColors showing up in current papers. The Haiku Designer Series Paper has two sheets of borders, meant mainly for scrapbookers, I believe. This one seems to use Wild Wasabi. Perhaps these DPs are carryovers from last year or something. I don't care; they allow me to put this stash of card stock into play! With the base of WW decided and the panel large enough to serve as focal image, all that needed to be added was an appropriate sentiment. It's from Heard from the Heart (which always makes me think of sheep... as in "herd of"). The border picks up the colors of So Saffron and More Mustard that are in the panel.

I was uninspired to complete the female birthday category, so I picked up Baroque Motifs and made a bridal card. I don't have much experience with brides or weddings of late, so I did a little poking around online to find out what colors are popular in weddings these days. I read that jewel tones, which I used in my wedding, are making a comeback, but the author of the article quickly advised not to make the 'maids wear a dress in said colors. That's what I did, and I'm sure my 'maids weren't happy about it almost 20 years ago, so the advice is best heeded.

All that said, I went with Baja Breeze and Chocolate Chip, since BB is the closest thing I have to Tiffany Blue that is all the rage. I really hope this card does not become popular, as it was a pain in the butt to make, but since I invested the better part of an hour on it, it's going in the pile! It's not a traditional card, but a postcard with an envelope. Found this beautiful sheer ribbon that matches perfectly at Michael's.

Well, that's the blow by blow from last night. I have 40 min. before I need to leave for work, so I'm going to try to go tackle something on the domestic front before I depart. We have corporate visitors today, so there'll be a little more than the usual level of stress at work today. I'm hoping it's over before I get there, but I probably won't be so fortunate. Happy FRIDAY!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

While You Were Away...

After a quick pizza dinner, your heroine returned to her craft room to continue the work at hand. I enjoyed the process of creating last night like I haven't in awhile. Bob was at rehearsal--the band is singing "Grand Illusions" by Styx to open the service, to set the tone for the sermon series called "Illusions"--and Michael was practicing piano, so I had the evening to do what needed to be done.

This card came to be because I was captured by the whimsy of the dot design in the Autumn Vine Designer Series Paper. I was about to completely detach the circle I'd cut with the Coluzzle, when the idea of a little window occurred to me! BTW, that is Groovy Guava as the card base because it's clearly there in the design. Who said InColors retire? I think they just go undercover...

In my last post, I didn't specifically identify the name of the set that has this sentiment and a few others in it. It's called Best Yet and is, as I mentioned, a Level 1 Hostess set. This and all other hostess sets will go away soon when we get another new catalog, so be making a list and checkin' it twice so you don't miss out on the sets you want before they disappear.

The last card I made last night was helped along by the fact that the main panel was already completed and staring at me from my craft table. Leah, the PakMail manager, was completely wowed by this card when I showed her some samples, so I adapted that layout for this quickie. I'm showing you the envelopes because I'm photographing everything I'm selling so that I can remember what I did if someone wants a duplicate! The ol' memory ain't what it used to be! This uses Pocket Silhouettes and the color scheme is Chocolate Chip, Baja Breeze, More Mustard, and Very Vanilla. One of my favorites, for sure.

After a good night of sleep, I woke naturally at 5:30 this morning and came back to the table to work on thank-you cards. I'm not going to end up showing you all the cards I'm selling her in these and subsequent posts because I'm using some from my stash that you've already seen. This card reprises another favorite combination from this fall, Upsy Daisy and Urban Garden DP. I also used the layout I created the first time I made this card, so that helped move things along. I really like Baja Breeze much more than I expected to, and it pairs so well with that DP! The little white satin ribbon and silver hardware flower add just the right accents to spruce up this addition to the pile.

Last but not least is my CASE of Amy's card I showed you yesterday. I used the Autumn Vine DP again, and went with So Saffron for the inked images in order to use every color of the DP on the card. I really like the Sage Shadow ribbon. It brightens up this fall card. Again, you'll recognize Pocket Silhouettes. I think it's interesting how different the same stamps can seem when used in different layouts!

Well, I'm going to try to tackle 2 masculine birthday cards before I head into work, but I'll be continuing this morning and evening crafting routine until I get all of them done. It's going faster than expected, and I may be done by my SAS on Saturday! That would be a relief, because I still have to type up some sort of small labels for those cards that have interior sentiments, since the cards will be sealed in plastic bags to protect the art from fingerprints. Never a dull moment around here, that's for sure! Have a great day...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Productivity and Creativity=Progress

I woke up at 5:30 this morning, thinking about the cards I have to make by Monday. It's a bit disturbing to have your first thoughts be about a card layout. I decided, after laying there for 15 min., to go ahead and go with the creative flow and start tackling the 30 cards I need to produce by Monday.

I went after the baby cards first, since these were the ones I knew would challenge me the most. I'm just not in that stage of life, so I don't really have warm fuzzies that would help drive the creative juices. It did help to have the list of cards that Leah had said she liked. This reminded me of some cards I'd made that fall into this category that I had forgotten about. The first one was the Lauren Meader baby onesie card. A classic, if you ask me! And it never fails to turn out cute. If you look for "onesie card" on my sidebar, you'll find a tutorial link in that post. My favorite detail is the scalloped "collar", which is made by punching out half of a 1 3/8" circle on a piece of scrap paper, and then punching around it with the scalloped circle punch. Genius!

Next, I made a quilt card in neutral greens and yellows. Can I just tell you how many sleepers I had in these colors for Michael? We didn't go the route of finding out what sex he was until the obstetrician delivered him, so he wore his share of mint green and pale yellow! I love being able to put to use some retired designer paper. I think this is Polka Dots & Paisleys or something like that. I'm still struggling to find a white marker that is bold enough to simulate stitching. I threw away a gel roller ball pen that I wrestled with and couldn't get to write, and the marker I found at Michael's this afternoon just doesn't have enough "umph". If anyone has a suggestion, I'd be really grateful! BTW, this uses that cute baby stroller from Fun & Fast Notes.

After work, I pulled out some more retired DP and went with this brown and pink combination, since Leah indicated she likes it. This saying is ANCIENT SU!--but it's sweet. It may not have photographed well, but there are little pink footprints behind that saying. (Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.) A decent sized length of wide chocolate chip grosgrain was put to use making those little knots above and below the sentiment.

I had two of these little tri-fold cards unassembled and they are the perfect boy colors--Bashful Blue and Certainly Celery. The medallion is made by double punching the scalloped edge punch, and the sentiment "a little something for a little someone" is from a new hostess Level 1 set I earned. A nice addition to the stash, since it's all sentiments! I created the rounded flap by using my Coluzzle Circle cutting system. The DP is from Cutie Pie, one of my favorites from the last catalog.

I also finished a few blank inspirational cards, but I'm going to save those for tomorrow. I completed 8 cards tonight, so that has alleviated some of my nervousness about whether or not I could make the necessary number by Monday. I have to keep plugging away, though, so there'll be plenty of posts forthcoming! Thanks for the prayers, positive thoughts, and encouragement in this new venture.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Craft Blog

Now that my time in Crazy Busy Land is done, I'm back and ready to post crafty photos again. I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me. I had fun sharing it with you, and you'll probably read more along this line in the days ahead.

But I digress. I know you've been jonesin' for a picture of a CARD for awhile now, so I'll cut to the chase. No, this isn't one of my creations--been way too busy for that, remember!--but one from a blogging friend Amy of Gone INKognito. She used to live in GA and was one of the first bloggers in the area to welcome me, but now she lives in Canada. She sent me this great card stuffed with images that I'm going to make into cards at some point. I just had to share it, though, because it's so fallish! Love how she used the scalloped square punch and Pocket Silhouettes to make this little beauty. It's a 4" x 4" square card. I'm so CASEing this...why? Read on...

I have news. BIG NEWS! Several weeks ago, a friend of mine gave my name to a friend of hers and told her about my cards. Leah manages a PakMail store, and, long story short, she's partnering with me to get Just for You by Jenn greetings out to the public! She has ordered 30 cards, which are due Monday or Tuesday, and I'm stoked about the opportunity!!

Now I have to find the time to make said cards, but that's a minor detail...Get this; she went back through my ENTIRE blog and looked at EVERY CARD I posted and made notes of which ones she liked best! That was after I'd taken her 25 samples to whet her appetite. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

I'm off to count tips and clean baseboards at work. Just call me Cinderelly! Love that I get paid to clean, though. Hope you're havin' a good week...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Update # 2 from Crazy Busy Land: The Blog Party Report

This is the GREAT group of folks I spent several quality hours with last night!! Since I made all the nametags for the group, I could go through the picture and name everyone, but I won't. There were at least 40 of us, and at times the decibel level in the room so high it was difficult to hear!

If you're wondering how we got organized, let me explain. This was a gathering of people who have blogs and who all read 2 blogs--Ragamuffin soul by Carlos Whittaker and Whittakerwoman by Heather, his wife. Heather put the idea of a meetup out there a few months ago, and the response was much bigger than she expected! One thing I found interesting was that most of us couldn't remember how we found these blogs. One of the happy hazards of blurfing (blog+surfing=blurfing), I guess.

There were attendees from FL, SC, NC, and GA, with a contingent of friends of the Whittakers coming from CA. Two special twentysomethings who drove in from IN claimed the prize for coming the farthest by car. A little more about them later...

As soon as I arrived, I was sure this wasn't going to be like any other gathering I'd been to. You know what happens when a group of people who don't really know each other get together--say a work function. People are "fashionably late" so that they don't have to make small talk before things really get underway. Well, the parking lot was FULL when we arrived 10 minutes early (because I had the nametags). Nobody was shy; everyone just started introducing themselves and talking. Cyber relationships that had formed from reading the blogs of those who read Carlos and Heather's blogs were initiated in real life, and it was a cool thing to observe and be part of. Although it was a bit surreal, I also liked that the interactions didn't have any pretense. We weren't sharing "how's the weather" surface talk; we were asking questions about things that these writers had shared from their hearts on their blogs. It was so refreshing.

This is some of the people I ate dinner with. From the left is Ruth, Robin, Kayla, Maren, Kyle, Allison and me. Now a little more about the twentysomethings from IN.

Kyle and Allison were profiled at the blog party website where our profiles and blog addresses were shared in the weeks leading up to the event. Through this, I learned that they are fellow native Hoosiers, although they were hardly born before I moved out of the state in 1989! I felt an immediate connection with them because they live about 30 min. from where I went to college. I left a comment on each of their blogs and initiated contact. Then I got a little whispering in my head that prompted me to invite them to come stay at our house.

When Bob shared with a colleague that I had invited two total strangers to come stay at our house, his friend jokingly said, "I hope they're not axe murderers!" I knew they weren't--Kyle volunteers with a church startup and Allison lets her love of Jesus shine through her words on her blog. How could extending an invitation to let them stay be remotely dangerous?!

Turns out, they had family in the area, but the offer of 2 full sized beds and not imposing on his cousins' bedrooms made them decide to risk sleeping at the Hotel Nahrstadt for 2 nights. We had such a nice visit, and part of my heart is now on its way back to IN as I type this.

Evidently I wasn't the only one with motherly instincts when it came to these two. Shortly after things got underway last night, Cookie came up to me and told me how relieved she and her gal pals who came from SC were to hear that I'd invited Kyle and Allison to stay at our house. When I asked her how she knew that, and she said that she'd read about it on Kyle's blog earlier that day! Of course!

I know I've commented here in the past that I wasn't sure how "real" online community is. The party tonight showed me that it is very real...and a fabulous thing that really does bring people together and bond them to each other. I may never see many of these people again this side of Heaven, but the world is a little smaller, warmer place because of the time we shared together, and will continue to share via the world of blogs. I'm good with that...

Friday, November 7, 2008

An Update from Crazy Busy Land

I should be vacuuming and checking the downstairs bathroom and changing the laundry from the washer to the dryer, but I decided I had EARNED a little sitting on my heiny time, so you're getting a post about last night's SAS.

Wouldn't you be excited if you walked into your office's conference room and saw THIS instead of a bunch of stapled papers with an agenda on the top and men in suits? I know I would, and the women who stamped last night commented several times how relaxing their time was. I was so happy to hear that, because that was exactly what I intended!

I arrived around 2:45 and killed time until 3:20 reading the USA Today in the parking garage. I read someone's blog recently and she commented on her fear of parking garages, and now I can empathize! It sort of freaked me out a bit, and here's why--the low ceilings! You feel like you're going to hit the hanging signs every time you pass under them! Also, the tires squeal every time you turn, due to some treatment they've done on the concrete. And if you have claustrophia issues, FORGET IT! The spaces are so small that I felt like I had the choice between hitting a concrete post and scraping someone's car. Thankfully, I did neither...

I set up and waited for the women to arrive. We got started late, but better than not starting at all! Some couldn't stay the whole time, like Reade, who likes to design outside the box. I could really stand to live more like she does!

Sandy was my hostess, and she made our time so great! She had Panera Bread Co. cater dinner, and so we ate and stamped and it all flowed so nicely. She had only stamped with me one time before, and hadn't been able to come back due to a heavy work travel schedule. She remembered why she liked it so much, and I'm sure we'll get some more time together in the new year.

Kara is an avid scrapbooker (her husband won't let her go near any retail locations that have supplies), but she'd never ever made a card. She LOVED it, even though she felt she lagged behind the pace all night, due to her perfectionist persnicketyness. I love introducing her to something new!

Melissa (Missy to me) is the link between me and Sandy. She has been a regular stamper in the past, but work travel has dominated her life this year too. She did a little adapting of my cards to her style, which was fun to see.

Meghan had never stamped before, and she was the first one to arrive. When I gave her a quick overview of what we were making, she was slightly overwhelmed. But she jumped in with two feet and created beautiful cards!

I can't say enough about how impressed I was with these gals' willingness to try something new! That either says a lot about Sandy's ability to convince them they would enjoy it, or it says a lot about who they are as people. I'm not as adventurous as they, I have to admit. They all "swam in the deep end of the pool" and we had a great time. I hope we get to do it again, as some who were supposed to attend were called away on business or sick.

Okay, I've sat enough. Gotta get sheets on beds, etc. Onward, as Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz says.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm Making a List...Checkin' It Twice...

not because Santa's comin' to town, but because I'm goin' downtown tomorrow! Sandy is hosting a SAS for 6 of her colleagues/friends after work at her office. Since I have to "take the show on the road", I am checking, double-checking, and triple-checking my supplies in order not to forget anything.

Those of you who have come to classes at my house know how crucial this is, because I'm back and forth between my craft room and the dining room table umpteen times during each class for stuff that has been left there! There's no Hobby Lobby or Michael's nearby, so I'll be so hosed if I neglect to bring everything I need.

Since my boss was kind enough to give me the day off tomorrow, and I can check things over in the morning, I have procrastinated awhile this evening making some cards for a little girl I don't know. Her name is Abbie, and her mom is a fellow blogger. I'm going to meet her (the mom, Stephanie) Saturday night at a blog party. What's a blog party, you ask? Well, this one (I can't say what others are like, since I've never been to another gathering like this!) is a meetup of bloggers who all read Heather Whittaker's blog.

Anyway, Abbie LOVES owls, and I thought she'd enjoy getting some cards made with owls. How do I know she loves owls? Her mom posted about it here, and so the cards I've made coordinate with her room's colors.

The owls are from the set Owl for You, new to the Fall-Winter Catalog. In this first card, the birds have beeen stamped on the card stock and cut out, and the winged one has been paper pieced. They're perched in the tree from Season of Friendship. I went with brown leaves because it's fall and because I didn't want to detract from the colorful birds. I had the hardest time deciding where to mount the "hoot-hoot hurray!", and I'm not sure it's best where it is, but what's done is done.

In the second card, I colored each owl using the four colors shown in the bedding--Baja Breeze, Old Olive, Pretty in Pink, and Pumpkin Pie. If you click on the picture, you can examine each owl more closely. My favorite is the first one, with multi-colored rings around his eyes. I also had a great deal of fun positioning each one on some branch of the tree. I had these left over from another card I made. Saving scraps is ALWAYS a good thing!

Managing to incorporate the sayings was the most challenging, as all these images were courtesy of Lydia from Understand Blue. Thanks, girlfriend! This meant that I had to cut out the word "hoot" from a couple of the stampings of the sentiment "hoot-hoot hurray!" that she'd provided. The other sentiment she sent was "you're a hoot!" which I also used. There are several others, including "something for you from owl of us," "whoo-la-la!," and "guess whoo loves you!". There's a tree branch, a balloon, a party hat, a long stemmed flower, and 3 hearts in this 14-piece set.

I hope you can tell that one of the owls "flies" on each card. I did this by creating a paper spring and mounting the image to it. This closeup should help you get the idea, but if you want a full tutorial on this, check the "spring technique" label category in the sidebar.

Sorry I've been quiet, but now you have some idea why. There's a lot going on around here, and I'm just not getting much down time. Here are a few other things happening this weekend.

1) Heather, the blog party hostess, asked me to make the nametags for all those coming--about 40!
2) I'm hosting 2 folks on Friday and Saturday night...adventurous college kids who are traveling from IN for the festivities!
3) I signed up to make a batch of cookies and 10 Christmas cards as part of a team effort to supply a battalion of servicemen with Christmas cheer. Those need to go in the mail on the 10th.
4) I have to attend a learning coach class on Saturday so that I can officially teach other partners what I have learned while working at Starbucks this past year.
5) We're going to a potluck Sunday evening and have to make soup to bring.

All good stuff; I'm just going to be exhausted by the time it's all done!

Here's a funny photo from the weekend that I'll leave you with. What do you do when you're bored on a Sunday afternoon? You climb the walls! Notice where Michael's hands are compared to Bob's...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Yesterday we set out as a family to have a little time away from the everyday hustle and bustle. Last year, Bob had read an article in our local newspaper about Jacks River Falls, a waterfall in the Cohutta Wilderness area of the Chatahootchee National Forest. It sounded like a cool place to go, but we decided to make the trek when the weather was optimal, i.e. when none of us would sweat very much.

It was a 2 hour drive to Cisco, which is a one-stoplight town north of Chatsworth, GA. Then it took 30 min. of traversing gravel roads that twisted and turned, spewed dust, and had us reading and rereading the internet directions we'd printed. Are you getting the picture that these falls are in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE? We were not finding the trailhead, but a providential meeting as we were about to leave provided us with a connection who showed us the way.

Once we arrived, it was a 4.5 mile walk to get to the falls. We set off around 11:30am and it was only 53 degrees. I was grateful for this reading on the rearview mirror, though, because it had been 35 degrees when we left Cumming at 8:30!

It was an easy stroll along the leaf covered trail, and The dogs were in HEAVEN with all the scents to investigate. During most of the 4 hours it took to walk in (and out again), we did so in companionable silence. The colors peaked this weekend, and our point and shoot pocket digital just couldn't really do justice to the varied colors we saw along the trail. I saw leaves that looked the color of bleached salmon, yellow leaves stippled with red and green, maroon leaves with burgundy edges, near black burgundy leaves, yellow and brown leaves, and lots of pine trees still looking perfectly healthy. The smell of pine and dying leaves wafted past as the wind provided a cooling breeze when the temperature topped out around 72. It was idyllic.

You will notice that this photo montage is devoid of pictures of the falls. That's because we couldn't find them. The trail was not well marked when it counted, and my husband recognized that turning back without finding what we came to see was more important than getting lost. It wasn't a wasted trip, though, even though we didn't reach our final destination. It was so good for all of us to just get away from everything that has been dominating our our worries and our responsibilities and--well, I'm sure you could fill in your own blank to finish this sentence.

Our pastor has been talking about worry the past 2 weeks, and he shared that taking time to observe how God takes care of the birds of the air and the grasses of the field (as He instructed His original audience to do in Matt. 6:24-34) should help us realize that He cares for US much more than these. Even with that knowledge, though, not worrying can be a challenge. Where I think we get tripped us is when we think it all depends on our effort. It does depend on our effort, but not entirely. Not easy stuff...

Something else that came to mind as I took in the beauty of the foliage is that this beauty is produced, purposely brought about, by a system that is going into hibernation, shutting down. I certainly don't look good AT ALL when I'm shutting down, "dying" from too much labor, too much striving.

Yet the trees and all nature were designed to help us understand Who God is, and the lesson I walked away with from yesterday's hike is that I can relax and trust that the week I have ahead--which is full to the brim with all kinds of good stuff that will run me ragged by the end--can go one of two ways. Either it will all go according to His plan for it or I can try to make it all happen how I deem it should go. That's only going to be limitedly successful, and ultimately more stressful. Still, He gives me the choice.