Friday, December 31, 2010

Say, "WHEN"

I haven't quite gotten the concept of when to say, "When."  It's that thing you're supposed to say when someone is filling up your cup or plate.  As it gets to the point where you want them to stop pouring or spooning the item, you simply say "When."  It's a great concept when it's food or drink.  But I find it doesn't work so well when applied to other areas of my life.

Last year I had a list of New Year's Resolutions that I was completely stoked about!  I was feeling more positive than ever, so I just went crazy.  What was I thinking?  I looked back on them a few weeks ago.  There were eleven. Yes, eleven.  Ten would have been a nice round number.  But eleven?  Talk about setting yourself up for failure.  When the number of your New Year's Resolutions is great than or equal to the first double-digit prime number, you need to learn to say "When." 

There were eight "healthy" items on the list.  There were three creative items.  I failed at all the healthy ones.  I managed to complete two on the creative side.  Creatively, I was successful.  Kudos to me!  I completed two resolutions.  (Let's not discuss the other nine.)

So this year I came into this venture with one resolution that was a bit of a joke!  In fact, so much of a joke that I'm not sure I want to blog about it.  Let's just say it involves one particular person in my life (who I adore) and alcohol.  In many ways, although a silly resolution, it would be an easy one to fulfill.  I should have stopped there. 

But then I got to thinking (which was my first mistake).  What if I combined a little bit of wellness with the creativity?  I was thinking about the possibilities when a friend sent me an e-mail about The Brave Girls Club and their upcoming Soul Restoration. Brave Girls Club is a community for women everywhere who want to do big things, overcome difficult things, and believe in doing things with kindness.  It was founded by two sisters, Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins.  Melody was the founder of one of my favorite paper companies, Chatter Box.  They have what look like fabulous retreats in Idaho which are booked solid all of the time.  But they have this upcoming Soul Restoration program which is a six-week on-line session which begins on January 11th. So I signed up.  At this point, I should have said, "When."

Facebook is just a bevy of information! I happened upon something else called Big Picture Classes.  Big Picture Classes is a worldwide community of creative teaching and learning. There are on-line workshops and self-paced sessions.  And just perfect . . . wasn't there a session that was geared toward wellness.  With just three days to spare, I managed to sign up for Wellness Journey - a six week workshop starting on December 29th.  With a click of several buttons, I was enrolled.

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed now.  I have these commitments to creativity, wellness, soul restoration, exercise, eating right . . . and, here again, I had another opportunity to say . . . "When!"

Oh, but a friend then said, "I'm signing up for some classes on finishing quilts."  Great!  I have quilts that need to be finished.  I have quilts that need to be started.  Do I dare discuss the "college" quilt.  Great mother that I am, I made a beautiful quilt for my daughter Tracy a few weeks into her first year of college.  I had planned to do the same for Kelly.  I started, ran into a snag, and never finished.  So I started another, but got busy.  Kelly has now graduated from college.  I need to finish a quilt for that girl.  So I signed up for a class on binding quilts and machine quilting.  Here I go again.  "When!" 

I'm keeping my resolutions to three, and that includes the silly one.  They are (in no particular order):

1 - I need to work on wellness, and that includes body, mind and spirit.  So I will complete these workshops that I've sign up for, and will try my best to keep up with NOT JUST THE CREATIVE PARTS, but the wellness portions as well.  This will be my toughest of the three. 
2 - I need to complete some of the quilting projects that are started, but not finished.  So I will take those classes, and I will finish at least one quilt.
3 - Here comes the silly one.  I am not one to drink a lot of alcohol.  In fact, I have probably done more drinking in the last three years then I have in my entire life.  I must be making up for my goody-two-shoes teenage years, or the fact that I didn't go to wild and crazy college parties.  However, that said, there have been a couple of occasions where I have found myself calling a designated driver, admittedly not walking a straight line.  It's a side of myself that is somewhat foreign, but each and every time it has happened, I am always with this one awesome person in my life. It's gotten to the point where my husband, upon hearing that I've had a few too many, has said, "Oh . . . I know who you were with."  The resolution . . . I need to have a few too many with someone other than my favorite person to have a few too many with!  It won't be nearly as much fun, but I can do it just once to remove the stigma that she is a bad influence on me.  I can be my own bad influence at the ripe old age of 49, and I promise to know when to say "When!"

So that's it.  As I write this, I am about four hours from 2011.  Hopefully there will be no time for me to sign up for any additional on-line ventures in the next couple of hours.  


Friday, December 24, 2010

Passing Down the Magic

It's that crazy magical time of year.  It is magical because good old St. Nicholas is hard at work throughout the land.

I miss the Christmas magic of when my girls were younger.  I envy those who have young children.  When you have children, you see the magic firsthand.  How easily I recall reactions to the broken pieces of cookies and the notes that Santa left.  I remember the hoof prints in the snow.  I remember broken carrots and bits of reindeer feed that fell from the roof to the back deck.  I especially remember the time that one gift never made it down the chimney, but landed instead on the roof.  Santa was a busy guy.  

Once upon a time there were two little girls sitting at a breakfast bar, having some cereal before school.  The younger of the two girls questioned whether there really was a Santa Claus.  The older of the two girls responded in a very matter of fact manner . . . "Kelly, think about it.  Do you really think that mom and dad would buy us a bunch of toys?"

Just a few days later, Santa brought American Girl Dolls with accessories for both girls.  The girls had been perusing the catalog for months and didn't know if even Santa would be able to come through.  They were high price items.  But that man has all the moves.  If only we would have had enough money to buy all of those gifts for our children.  Tee hee!  

 It has been 16 years since the American Doll Christmas.  For me, Christmas is about family and friends.  It is about making contacts and reaching out to people.  Christmas is also about tradition, and tradition runs deep!  On the tree . . . real or artificial?  For our family, the tree depends upon the mood.  Some years it is artificial.  This year it is real!  On the lights . . . white or colored?  The lights on our tree are always colored, and my family knows that if there aren't at least 500 lights on the tree - that's a minimum of 500 - mama won't be happy.  I like my twinkly lights!  I think about Kathleen Kelly (yes, "You've Got Mail") who while facing adversity in her business as they approached the holidays announces that she's putting up more twinkle lights.  If only twinkle lights were the answer to everything.

Does Santa wrap, or does Santa not wrap?  At our house, he never wrapped.  He just brought the toys and left them in front of the gifts that the family had wrapped.  And how does he know that it changes from one house to another.  He's just an amazing guy.

Gift opening on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?  Well that's easy.  Everyone opened brand new pajamas every Christmas Eve.  Gift opening was always on Christmas Day.  Just try suggesting to my adults girls that we open on Christmas Eve.  It's met with much negativity.

Christmas is also about passing down the magic.  I consider myself a success.  The magic has been passed down this Christmas.  There are balloons "under" my tree.  One says, "Mom, pop me!"  The other says, "Dad, pop me!."  Inside are our gifts from the girls.  Doesn't matter what they are . . . it only matters that the magic has been passed down.

Count your blessings, one by one.  Make it magical.  Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Know Why They Whisper

I always wondered about the whispering that goes on behind me at events that my husband and I go to . . . hockey games, the movies, plays, or concerts.  Sometimes people will get up and move.  And yes, I know my husband is tall, but how bad can it be.

So there I was at Madison Square Garden.  My seat was killing my knee, so I decided to move to another seat where I had a little leg room.

A quick cell phone call to my husband . . . "Rick, there is a seat right in front of me.  I'm in section "blah, blah, blah."

Minutes later, this is my view of the game! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stepping Outside

We all have a comfort zone.  It's that little area that we rarely step outside of for any number of reasons.  I have many reasons.  Shall I name them all?  Alright, perhaps not all, but I'll give you four of my top reasons for not stepping outside of my comfort zone.

1 - fear of the unknown
2 - too much work
3 - too much to think about
4 - fear of failure

Fear of the unknown is always a tough one!  But if we never push ourselves into the unknown, we would never have have new jobs or even children for that matter.  My biggest issue with childbirth and delivery was fear of the unknown . . .hearing all those crazy childbirth stories that people told you, even months before your first contraction.  Those stories only added fuel to the fire for my fear of the unknown on childbirth. 

Too much work . . . well if I never conquered that one, I would never have had the opportunity to work with such awesome talented people at New England Scrapbook Company.  I am not just talking about the owners and employees (who are incredible individuals), I'm also talking about working with (scrapping with) some extremely talented customers as well!

To much to think about . . . it is true.  My brain is on overdrive 24/7.  When I'm not sleeping, I'm thinking.  It seems that anything outside of my comfort zone just gets my brain churning with possible pitfalls.  Then comes the panic and the sweat.  If I could only turn off my brain.

Fear of failure is a tough one.  There are hundreds of quotes on failure, and one of my favorites is from Benjamin Franklin:  "I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong."  I have spent many years as a parent, girl scout leader, co-worker, or mentor saying that mistakes are good, we learn from them.  But I have a hard time making sure that I, myself, can hear that message. Self-doubt is something that I carry with me all the time.

And how does this apply to scrapbooking.  There have been a number of challenges that I've seen on message boards, blogs, and websites that I have wanted to join, but I've not for all of the reasons above.  I either don't know how to post things electronically.  I find it to be too cumbersome.  I stress about it and think about it.  In the end I convince myself not to do it because I just wouldn't win anything anyway.

This past weekend I decided that I will no longer overlook opportunities within my reach simply because of the four reasons above.  I saw an opportunity to show my work with one of my favorite die cut companies, CottageCutz.  The challenge:  For every project that you upload to their Facebook site featuring the use of a CottageCutz die, you are entered to win a die of your choice.  It can be a new project, or a past one, and you can enter up to three times.  Last night I did just that.  I posted my camping layout using their camping dies.  Check out their wall.  I may have time to post one or two other projects this week (and have one in the works as we speak).

My second challenge did not go as well.  I hit all four of my top reasons!  There were some unknowns (posting onto a message board was a stumbling block), the technical side of things appeared to be too much work (I couldn't re-size the photo and this required some research), I definitely stressed about it, and in the end . . . I FAILED!  By the time I was able to figure out the photo size, I realized I didn't have access to the message board.  I had to apply, and by the time the permissions were granted, deadline over!  But alas . . . there is still next week's challenge.  I hear they do them weekly.

I have one more challenge on my radar . . . for one of my favorite paper/embellishment companies. I will keep you posted on my progress.  To some this might seem small.  For me . . . this is HUGE. 

Step outside of your comfort zone!  No matter what it is, challenge yourselves!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Have a Stickling Day!

I completely over-crowded my November with committing to do a lot of classes at NESC.  And not must one class, but three . . . yes three classes!  And one of them was the calendar class (thankfully only six of the twelve months, but what was I thinking).  I don't mind that I committed myself.  I just mind that I didn't realize all of the other things in my life, and my creativity was a little rushed.  I wasn't sure that my pages were up to snuff!  However . . . 19 calendar kits were put together by my co-instructor and I, and 19 calendar kits are gone.  And talk about a great day.  My co-instructor and I were blessed with a great group of attendees.  Great job, ladies!

In just nine days I will be teaching my Holiday Page class . . . two very different layouts.  Loads of die cuts.  And what is a die cut without a smattering of Stickles?  A die cut is just a die cut.  Add a little Stickles . . . and we're talking a whole new die cut.  I did some monochromatic trees on one of my layouts, and I really love the way they turned out.  The colors were a bit daunting at first, but when I was done I just kind of mellowed to it all and had a great feeling about the way it turned out.  That doesn't always happen, so I treasure those creative moments.

And just eleven days from today, teaching a Holiday Card class . . . five designs, ten total cards.  Talk about rushed . . . I had all of the paper picked out.  I just needed to figure out how to pull it together.  So last night . . . in my new kicking myself in rear mode . . . I sat down and got to work.  Today I delivered the ten cards to the store.  I used some die cuts.  I used some stamps.  I have to say . . . a stamped image is just a stamped image.  Sure, they're beautiful.  But when you color them in or add some sparkle, well, it's a whole new stamped image. In fact, I'm so excited to be doing the class that I'll be putting together another design on the fly for those who attend . . . so it will be six designs - twelve cards total! 

Things are a little dicey at my Monday to Friday job, and life can be rough around the edges.  Wouldn't it be great if I could take some Stickles into work and go to town at my desk . . . a little on the phone . . . a little on my files . . . edge my shelf with it . . . perhaps edge some of my informational manuals?  And with life . . . perhaps Stickle some of the folks who aren't feeling so well or going through difficult times.  Sure, it's pleasing to the eye, but it doesn't cure all of our woes.

But where it does work . . . use it.  Add a little Stickle to your day!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My So-Called Crazy Life

I have not posted in so long, it is sinful.  Absolutely, positively ridiculous.  I had a little bit of a creative hurdle to get through . . . some stress at my Monday to Friday gig has left me a bit "out of sorts" creatively.  But not too out of sorts that I don't want to invite you all on a ride in my little car I created today for an upcoming Calendar Class at NESC.  I've always loved those darn VW Beetles . . . so I created this one for the June page . . . a bit travel themed.  I want to make cars all day long! I want to go work for Volkswagon!  Seriously, check out our calendar class coming up at NESC.

And if life isn't crazy enough with four dogs and two cats, I had my eye on a feral stray cat down at the Cumberland Farms in Windsor . . . Bloomfield . . . Windsor . . . wherever it is . . . I would see him if we stopped for gas at night.  It always made me so sad.  My first meeting was one day when I was inside the Cumby's, and I heard this strange bumping against the glass.  I asked what it was, and they said it was a cat throwing itself up against the glass outside, trying to chase moths.  When I exited the store, there the little guy was.  He was just a kitten, about four months old.  But my husband's scowl told a different story.  So I walked away.  I realized it was summer.  I realized he could have a home.  I realized that he looked well fed.  Oh, but it made me sad!  

My daughters frequent the Cumby's on their way home from work after midnight, and they met up with the little dude there as well.  When they came home to tell me about him (who we all thought was a her at the time), I commiserated with them.  They didn't care about their dad's scowl . . . they were strong enough to risk his anger.  After several weeks of trying to get closer to the kitty, they were able to snare him.  He was smuggled into the house where he has been for the last couple of weeks.  It makes me wonder.  This cat lives in the wild and keeps away from humans.  He then comes into a house with humans and becomes immediately accepting of their every move.  It is truly amazing.  He seems to be very grateful for a warm place to sleep, and extremely eager to get his head scratched.

I call him Cumby.  He was called Garbage by some.  Mose by others.  He's in a temporary home for a bit, before finding a permanent home where he can get more attention.  While I would love to keep him, he needs to be in a home with a dog who won't chase him, where he doesn't have to fight for attention.  (And let's face it . . . the sooner he goes, the sooner we'll have space for the next stray that we find on the streets). 

Back to the creative slump . . . there is something I need to do.  Do you know me well?  If you do, then you know that there is a movie reference coming up.  There is a scene in Liar, Liar where Jim Carrey is in the bathroom beating himself up . . . throwing himself against walls, slamming his head between the porcelain bowl and the toilet seat, all in an effort to make it look like he was beat up.  A guy comes in and asks what he is doing, to which he responds.  "I'm kicking my own ass.  Do you mind?"

So I don't want it to look like I was beat up or anything, and I have no plans to wedge my head under the toilet seat . . . but I do need to kick myself in the butt!  I'm going to schedule a daily kicking session . . . not every single day . . . but several days during the week.  The ass-kicking will occur when I get home from my day job.  I work so hard all day, and then I come home and have no creativity.  So I'm going to schedule it . . . and it's going to make me creative . . . and I will post pictures . . . and perhaps I will do great things again.

Perhaps . . . wait for it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Defining Disorganization

O.K. - Study these words, because I'm about to tell you a story that includes them. 

Idea . . . a visible representation of a conception : a replica of a pattern

Excited . . . to call to activity

Product . . . something that is marketed or sold as a commodity

Fizzle . . . to fail or end feebly especially after a promising start —often used with out

Organize . . . to arrange elements into a whole of interdependent parts

Lesson . . . something learned by study or experience

Dang . . . damn

Once a upon a time there was a paper crafting girl who was wandering through her local scrapbook store (NESC) and saw some paper that she thought was adorable.  She grabbed a few sheets, not knowing what would become of it, and continued to wander the store.  Her eyes fell upon a chipboard shape that completely and totally sparked an IDEA.  It was as if fireworks had gone off in her head.  She was so EXCITED that she could barely contain herself.  She saw a vision in her head of what the end result could be and she ran through her LSS buying PRODUCT to complete her item.  Yet something was missing.  So the paper crafting girl took her items home and set them aside until she could find the missing items to pull it all together.

It was in preparing for a weekend crop in South Carolina that the girl decided to at least cover her chipboard with her paper and ribbons.  From there it fell into a bag until many months later.  The paper crafting girl found the perfect little floral embellishments for her design and purchased them.  And another several months down the road found the perfect stamps and purchased them.  And because everything was in multiple places, the IDEA seemed to FIZZLE out yet again.   

Why?  Because the paper crafting girl did not ORGANIZE appropriately.  Perhaps her Monday to Friday job left her little time to organize?  Perhaps she had too much stuff in her scrapbook cave and was far too confused at where to begin. Perhaps she was always committing herself to other projects and just never had the time. 

LESSON learned!  Paper crafting girl has begun organizing PRODUCT for her IDEAS into bags with a note as to what her IDEA was so that it never can FIZZLE again.   (Of course, paper crafting girl wonders how long it will be until this IDEA to ORGANIZE will FIZZLE.)

Said project could have been completed so much sooner.  But . . . DANG it is so super cute!  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In my continuing quest to mix up my crafty ventures, I share with you a photo of this glorious pillow case that I made. It came as a kit, but I could not have picked better fabrics to go together. Wouldn't they make a great page. I made this pillow just prior to my Florida trip, and I bragged during the 20+ hour journey up and back. I bet everyone wished they had such a fabulous pillow to rest their head against the side of the car as we plummeted down the highway to Florida.

The not-so-precious moment was when I opened my diet Dr. Pepper bottle at 2:00 a.m. and it exploded all over my shirt and my precious pillow. I spent the rest of the journey slightly damp and stained, but thankfully washed my pillow case when we arrived in Florida. Only my memories can recall the trauma. The stains on my pillow case are gone thanks to Tide!

And now for a paper venture. There were these wonderful apple dies that I picked up last Fall. I new that eventually I would find a use for them, and as many people know I teach a Monthly Memories Class at New England Scrapbook. I knew I had to use the die cuts, but just wasn't quite sure how I would incorporate them. I stressed about it for some time, but in the end was happy with the combination of stamped words, dew drops and the die cuts. It all just came together.

What's up next? Well, on the fabric front it will hopefully be some of my unfinished projects. On the paper front, I've got some classes coming up: Sampler Day (where participants will try their hand at several different paper craft projects, Fall Memories (2 two-page layouts) and another Monthly Memories class (where we'll focus on November and December pages). Time to pull some more dies out of my stash! Wait for it . . . it's coming.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Call Me Crazy . . . all for Electricity?

One has to be crazy to take a vacation to Florida in August.

One has to be crazy to drive to Florida in August.

One has to be crazy to drive in a car with six people to Florida in August.

Just call me crazy!

It started as a chance to visit my family down in Florida. With a forced vacation during shut-down for Rick, the dates were not an option. It was the first week of August, or nothing at all. And so it was going to be just Rick and I. But a Disney headline . . . caught by Kelly . . . suddenly turned it into a trip to Disney. Why? Well, because Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade was making a return in the summer months. Nostalgia took over . . . I remember when Tracy was 20 months old and watched that parade from her stroller in Frontierland. And so a simple trip for two turned into a trip for six . . . Rick, me, Tracy, Kelly, Ezra and his sister Anna. Sardines in a car. Luggage on the top . . . luggage hanging off the hitch. Driving straight through . . . we are talking FUN TIMES!

The heat and humidity made me crazy. I realized juat how sweaty I was when I was in a bathroom outside of Splash Mountain and I glanced at myself in the mirror. I looked like I had already ridden the ride . . . not like a person holding a Fast Pass and awaiting my plunge. I didn't take as many pictures as usual, because it was just annoying. My hands were sweaty. The people in my photos . . . sweaty! I kept switching from sunglasses to my eyeglasses . . . up until the time that I lost the eyeglasses completely! GREAT MEMORIES!

While the brave younger adults managed six days at the parks . . . the older folk settled on three. EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. Was it hot . . . well, just check out the hidden Mickey in the form of sweat on the back of Tracy's shirt. It is truly in the shape of a Mickey Hat. Now that's what I call DISNEY MAGIC!

When I'm at the the parks, I always find I don't want to miss anything. I want to do it all. This trip gave me an entire new view of Disney. I didn't remind relaxing. I didn't mind waiting nearly an hour for a seat at full service restaurant. And after viewing the Main Street Electrical Parade shoulder to shoulder, several rows deep with other strangers and their sweat . . . I didn't mind watching fireworks from a tucked away location where no one was touching me and breathing my air.

This trip was definitely "different." It was fun . . . it had interesting memories. That said, I will never go to Florida in the summer again.

With it behind me, I have shifted my gears to getting back into a creative mode. I see a few Disney layouts in my future!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Faithful Friend Kenny Moore

Needing a change of creative paced, I switched my creative ventures this weekend. I spent the weekend tucked inside with three good friends, a couple of sewing machines, two awesome irons, several unfinished projects, yards and yards of fabrics and miles and miles of thread. My goals were simple. Hang out with friends, finish some "started" projects.

My plans started out a bit foiled. My new Singer sewing machine, bought back in January, seemed to have a mind of it's own. It would sew a few stitches . . . beep a few times . . . and stop. A continuous error that my thread was broken. You know something? I don't need a machine to tell me my thread is broken. I've had no trouble figuring this out in the past on my own. But if a machine is going to tell you that the thread is broken, it would be nice if it were an accurate warning. My thread was not broken. I re-threaded that machine repeatedly. I unplugged. I plugged. I changed tension. I tried every suggestion offered by my friends. I talked to it. I swore at it. I threatened it. Then I re-threaded again. Alas it was not to be. In constant stop and go fashion . . . and I mean sew three-quarters of inch, beep, beep, beep, stop . . . wait for the warning to clear . . . REPEAT! It took nearly two hours to finish a border on my "Diamonds by Judith" quilt top (pictured above with it's vibrant hydrangea purples and greens). At this rate, it's going to be a long, long weekend.

And so I turned to an old friend . . . Kenny Moore! Alright, so it's Kenmore . . . my Sears sewing machine that I have had a 21-year relationship with. Together we made countless dresses for my girls when they were growing up. We made curtains, a few quilts, many Halloween costumes, doll clothes, pajamas . . . and after 21 years of hard work I decided it was time for an upgrade. So I got the Singer. Old Kenny was tucked away for months and months in a dark case. He was likely feeling forgotten. But did Kenny hold a grudge? No. Kenny shows up and just rises to the challenge. Typical man! They don't hold grudges the way women do (yes, they hold them, but I think women are much more apt to hold a grudge). Kenny just wanted to prove himself. And so he did. He only broke his thread once (and it was likely my fault).

Kenny and I decided that we couldn't finish my Orion Star quilt, started back in March on the Singer. We collectively agreed that his seams might cause the blocks to be differently sized from the original block done on the Singer. So Orion Star was put on the back burner. A new project was born. A little pinwheel quilt in blues and yellows. I spent the afternoon cutting, and cutting, and cutting. I had a pile of yellow, blue and cream fabric. I was facing some techniques I'd never done before. I had to make 72 prairie points. I'd never made a prairie point . . . but 72? There are many "points" that don't match up in my seams. Ask me if I care? I don't. I'm proud of each and every mistake that Kenny and I made.

Moral of the story . . . old friends don't let you down. Kenny and me were best buddies again this weekend. And since I still have to finish that pinwheel quilt, he is now perched right next to the Singer . . . and I think he's flexing his little muscles.

My Singer . . . well she and I had more words tonight. I guess it was a misunderstanding, because today she is working just fine. She's not talking. Typical.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

From "high F's" to Dean's List

I cannot believe my youngest has graduated from college. Throughout the last couple of months as we were preparing ourselves, I've been feeling so very old. This achievement ages you mentally. It is this "thing" that hangs over you. I'm reminded of a scene from "When Harry Met Sally" where Sally is contemplating turning 40. She is crying and stressing about the fact that she's not married, not in a relationship and is turning 40. Yet in the scene, Harry points out that she won't be 40 for eight more years. "But it's there. It's just sitting there." That is, in fact, how I had been feeling in the months prior to graduation.

While dealing with her impending graduation, I also was facing a visit from relatives who wanted to see the graduate. So the house was flipped upside down. There was a dumpster. There was plumbing and flooring. There was furniture. There was carpet cleaning. There was one mayhem disaster after another. We got it done just in time for graduation and our out of town guests. We had a week of visiting with my parents and my brother from Florida. And it was a distraction from the fact that my college graduate felt the need to attend college and graduate simply just to make me age even more. Whatever, Kelly!

It's been busy. It's been emotional. There have been some proud moments, and yet this has also been a real eye opening time for me.

My youngest was not a student. From the time she was young, she was a lazy student. We heard it from teachers when she was very young. "She has such potential. If she would only apply herself." And as the years went on, we saw the ups and downs of her grades. I always thought we should have pushed her more, but yet I was not a good student either. I went the route of treating her as I would have liked to have been treated. Wrong or right, it was the choice we made.

In doing renovations for our impending guests, we were removing the bathroom cabinet when lurking in the back of the cabinet, stuffed down between the wall and the cabinet, we found an open envelope, the contents of which was a progress report from October of 2004 showcasing two F+ grades in the making.

See Exhibit #1 - photo of just how nicely stuffed this progress report was . . . and imagine it behind bottles of cleaning supplies, bags of toiletries, etc.).

An F+ . . . I had know idea such a grade existed (mind you, that's a high F). I lived through many a progress report with some pretty lousy grades, so I'm not sure why Kelly felt the need to hide this particular report. Perhaps I should appreciate that I didn't have to open and it and get all stressed about it.

Fast forward to the Winter of 2006 when she is accepted to Hillyer College, which is a two year college at University of Hartford. They offered her a shot for two years which she could turn into a four year program if she did well. We were skeptical. The price tag was high for a student who "didn't apply herself."

Fast forward . . . June of 2006 . . . she graduates high school . . . probably barely squeaking by. At this point, I'm kind of thankful to have public school behind me.

Fast forward . . . August 2006 . . . she moves into the dormitory at University of Hartford and attends Hillyer College. She seems to be doing o.k., has trouble with one course that needs to be above a certain grade. She takes it upon herself to retake the class in the end of the Summer of 2007.

Fast forward a bit more . . . May 2008. My daughter has an Associates Degree from Hillyer College and earns the opportunity to continue her education at the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Hartford.

Fast forward again to May 16, 2010. It is graduation day. We attend graduation with our family . . . and celebrate both Kelly and my nephew Joe's graduation from University of Hartford. As I'm going through some mail a few days later, we (the parents of Kelly Bonczek) had received a note from the Dean of Hillyer College. In the letter, he mentioned how proud they were of Kel, that she used her two-year degree as a step toward more challenging goals.

For this revelation, I must quote . . . "You and the faculty at Hillyer saw that untapped potential."

I have to say, I felt a little bit of guilt. I'm not sure that we saw that untapped potential. We heard about it from elementary school, junior high, and high school teachers and counselors. I know that we hoped for it, but I don't know that we recognized it. A simple two paragraph letter from a stranger made me stop and realize that I had not given my own daughter enough credit. Years of teacher conferences and progress reports had tainted me from believing in my own daughter's capabilities.

See Exhibit #2 - photo of my college graduate. From the "high F's" stuffed in the back of the cabinet, to making the Dean's List for the Spring 2010 semester . . . talk about a steady, uphill climb.

Congrats to my Grad and kudos for proving me wrong. We are so incredibly proud of you.

Now, for Exhibit #3 - photo of my college graduate with my future college graduate. She is my oldest. There will be another whole revelation that will be discussed when she graduates. I will be admitting more of my faults as I express how proud I am of her. But that I save for another day.

And now, I will be moving on to being creative again. I've got some things up my sleeve, and I've got a lot of graduation pages to make! I've got some quilting to do. I've got some cards to make. I've got new stamps and lots of new inks. I've got glitter. I've got plans.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Scrapper's Husband Quote of the Year

What an AWESOME weekend! I had the great opportunity to celebrate National Scrapbook Day at a weekend crop with a small group of woman in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Several months back, my friend Linda and I were talking about "meeting half-way" for a crop. Linda moved to North Carolina last summer. So we were looking for something in between when Linda found out about a crop in Myrtle Beach. We signed up, and now the rest (somewhat unfortunately) is history. The weekend was very affordable and we had a great time. The scrapbook space was awesome. It was a very small group of woman, most from southern states. We had a conference area that was open to us whenever we wanted to be there. Toughest part was finding time to stick to the scrapbooking, as the weather was awesome. The beach was beautiful. Our hotel, while somewhat worn, did not disappoint. The price was great! We had an ocean front 3-bedroom suite with a kitchen. We were on the 10th floor overlooking the ocean. The first night, arriving back to our room at 2:20 a.m. (after scrapping), I sat on our balcony and listened to the ocean. I got a great photo of the moon reflecting off the ocean. I will be doing a little cropping on this one when I get back to my home computer (the netbook is a bit difficult to navigate from my hotel room here in Richmond).

I did manage to get some scrapbooking done. The two items on the top of my list were using a daffodil die cut that I had bought back in the winter, and finally getting around to putting together my KaiserCraft car. The daffodil did not disappoint! I often have high hopes for a page and then later am disappointed with the outcome. I've had the supplies for a few months. I started putting the page together, was met with frustration because it just wasn't coming together, and a short time later I was falling in love with my daffodil die! Green and yellow cardstock, green and yellow ink, and some Stickles! What a great die cut! Stay tuned for photos of my KaiserCraft car. It will not disappoint. It needs a few finishing touches before it makes its way onto my blog. But it is ADORABLE. I had planned to give it as a gift . . . but I may not be able to part with it.

Now I have to point out what a great husband I have. He took the time off to drive down to Myrtle Beach with me, which I really appreciated. O.K., so after nearly 28 years of marriage, he can't order a sandwich for me the right way. He can't remember that I like everything plain. But he did go to Myrtle Beach with me, and there wasn't a single complaint.

Husband highlight of the weekend is this great quote! There is no doubt whatsoever that my husband is married to an avid scrapper. What follows is pure proof.

We were down by the pool and he was attempting to take a photo of me as I was standing on a wooden walkway that led to the beach. I saw a man walk by him, and then I heard an exchange of words between the two. As the man walked by he said, "Oops, sorry!" as he stepped in front of the camera. He then said, "I'm sure you don't want me to be in your photo."

To that, my husband . . . the husband of a scrapper . . . replied, "That's what cropping is for."

Cha-ching! Score five points for the husband.

Monday, April 19, 2010

R - E - S - P - E - C - T

R - E - S - P - E - C - T . . . find out what it means to me!

So . . . the news is good. For anyone who read my last blog, everything is healthy and good. My colonoscopy was A.O.K. and in my efforts to continue my public service announcement and encourage everyone "eligible" to shrug the fear and go, I have a couple of items to share with each of you.

First, the prep really isn't all that bad. Yes . . . I was a bit hungry in the hours leading up to the prep, but once I started the drinking of the delicious soapy, lemony, salty drink . . . there was no turning back. It was not nearly as bad as I expected, and I will willingly do this again when the time comes.

Second, R - E - S - P - E - C - T. What does this mean to me? I know . . . you are thinking that this means something creative. Is it an anagram for something? What do these letters stand for? Well, it's all about the embarrassment of the procedure. If there was one word I could use to describe the procedure, it would be "RESPECTFUL." I expected to feel embarrassed just because . . . well, you know . . . just because. Let me tell you, it was extremely respectful. That is the one word that I would use to describe the procedure, and if you don't feel that way after yours, then let me give you the name of my GI group!

Third . . . if you're eligible and nervous . . . need someone to keep you grounded before, during (well, not really during, during . . . but as you walk in and as you come out the door), or after, consider asking me! I am more than willing to drop you off, pick you up, hold your hand until you walk in the door . . . whatever!

Just do it. Feel free to call me . . . don't be afraid to just call me . . . call me and I'll be around!

And now . . . I can break free of my PSA for Colon Cancer . . . and I get back to supporting my brother and being creative.

Wait for it . . . the creative items will be coming real soon.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Pardon My Break From Creativity

Pardon my break from creativity, as I bring you my own version of a public service announcement. I'm all about cameras, but I'd like to take a timeout from being creative and talk about one camera in particular. And I hope those who think it's "too much" will forgive the imposition.

My creativity has been a bit "out the window." While I have a ton of projects to get to this week, my mind has been completely pre-occupied with other things. At the top of my list is the one thing that I've dreaded throughout my forties. The thought of turning 50 and having to succumb to the dreaded "you're turning 50" medical test. I think woman can somehow identify. I spent the last few years of my thirties dreading the mammogram. Sure, it's not the most comfortable test in the world, but we all manage through it, and we should.

This is the medical test you've more than likely never gone through before, and it seems like it would be the most uncomfortable, embarrassing thing on the face of the earth. A little tiny camera traveling in places you would never want to go. I'm a scrapper, and I'm all about cameras, but I promise there will be no glossy 5" x 7" souvenir photos of my colon in any of my scrapbooks! I seriously know very few people in their late 40's who aren't thinking about their impending test. How to skirt past it (a friend recently told me she scheduled her physical a month prior to turning 50 to confuse her physician). I also know many people past 50 who refuse to go.

The colonoscopy is not meant for blogs . . . I know this because my blog spell check didn't recognize it and gave suggestions of other words . . . including colonialism. No connection between the two words, and I suppose we should dismiss the Merriam-Webster's third definition . . . control by one power over a dependent area or people. Now isn't that interesting. I'll give that one credence as the gastroenterologist has control over my dependent area. But while it might not be meant as a topic for open discussion, it is consuming my life right now and will until I get the results.

My family has been immensely open about it since early March, when my 50-year old brother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. He celebrated his birthday and got the diagnosis just two days later. And whether it is bad or good, the family and extended family can't go a few days without comparing notes on their progress with consultations and procedures. It has extended beyond the family, as I now have a few friends who had put off scheduling and because I've shared my story, they are taking action.

I'm not 50. I'm only 48. And while I've dreaded it for a few years, my brother's diagnosis provided me with an "Advance to Early Detection" card. It's not quite as exciting as a Monopoly "Advance to Reading Railroad." I sure as heck won't get the $200.00 for passing "Go" or the opportunity to buy the railroad. The reality is that I share DNA . . . the same dark hair, brown eyes, coloring, likes and dislikes of my brother, who is just 15 months older than me. We were both picky eaters and still are to some extent. What I hope to gain is peace of mind. The procedure that I dreaded is very small in comparison to what could be even more frightening . . . the outcome.

I don't know how many people read this blog, and I don't think it is a huge number. I just want to encourage anyone who reads to share the story of the guy who turned 50 and was tired and had a cough he couldn't shake. He had no other symptoms.

So if you have a family history, get your "early in." If you're 50 or over . . . don't put it off. I'm one who dreaded it, and I am so looking forward to getting past this so I can be creative again.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Product - New Venture - New Jersey

The past few days have been about getting some new things in my life. With so many stressful things going on, it seemed like it was time for a bit of "renewal." For the last four days or so, I took some time off from my 9 to 5 office job and brought some new things into my life to get a recharge.

First came some new product. Basic Grey "Green at Heart." Picked it up to create a layout for a "solution" at NESC. Fell in love! Those darn felt flowers are AMAZING. Those papers are absolutely "Springy." Not only did I create a layout, but I began to see the possibilities for so many other projects. This picture does not do the product justice. It is absolutely adorable.

Then came the new venture . . . ATC Camp. That's Artist Trading Card Camp. The group had met once last month and I missed out on it. Did I need something new to add to my plate. Well, I must have because I signed on for it, and I even agreed to teach the next one coming up in April. I figured if I could attend the March session and understand it, then I could teach it. Right? Well, I get it. I got all excited. I turned, yet again, to "Green at Heart" for my inspiration. The theme of the cards was to be "Spring." Can't get much Springier than those bright, vibrant colors. I cut. I created. I inked. I stamped. I colored. I stickled. I signed. I numbered. My cards were done.

Yet as I went to put them into a plastic bag to take to NESC, I realized . . . I should have a box to carry them. I remembered that I had an empty Maya Road lunch tin that was sitting around on the floor near my computer just waiting to be loved. Back to the "Green at Heart" collection where I found some paper, some die cuts . . . matched it up with some ribbon and before I knew it I had created a beautiful tin to transport my ATC's. On the box it says . . . "A little birdie told me . . . Make ATC Cards." And the best part about ATC camp was seeing all the great cards. So different!

I'm so looking forward to leading the group next month and having the opportunity to share my time with such awesome women!

Now comes the part about the jersey. That's a new jersey . . . not New Jersey. It's not a place, it's a thing.

So many people are surprised by my love of hockey. I love the game . . . everything from the arena smells to the fast paced game. I love the skill, love to watch the players develop and make their way to the NHL. And I love combining my love of hockey with my love for scrapbooking. For many years I have created scrapbooks for the Hartford Wolf*Pack players, and as I blogged a few weeks ago, this year is no exception. I have two really great guys that I have been following this year.

At tonight's game, the guys were wearing these great new jerseys that I believe were designed by a fan. They were running a silent auction that would later turn to a regular auction for fans to bid on game worn jerseys off the players backs. I always leave these auctions disappointed. The jerseys are expensive, and I can never bid that high. But this year I felt like I was in the market for a new jersey. I had my eye on a few in particular. I quickly calculated what I was willing to spend, found the sheet for one that I really wanted and I placed my bid. I didn't go a mere $25 over the last bid . . . I put my top bid.

A few hours later, between the 2nd and 3rd period, my husband showed up to tell me that I had won my jersey. Just mere seconds after he told me, my jersey was involved in a fight. It was right in front of me, and I got to see my game worn jersey go a few rounds. I turned to my husband and said, "That's my jersey." Any doubt he had about the expense was gone. We realized as we watched my #27 jersey get grabbed, stretched, yanked, and pulled that it was meant to be. Rick said, "It's a sign." And a short time later he was on the ice with Jared Nightingale . . . #27 . . . getting my jersey. The somewhat stinky thing made the trip home where it will hit the washer tomorrow and be on my back for the next game. So . . . new product, new venture and new jersey. The combination has been a great renewal!

It was a great weekend.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Creative Ramblings

I have been so, so busy that I've not had time to blog. Between work and projects, I've just been swamped . . . and then there is that thing they call "my personal life." It's been a little nuts. I've been really busy hitting deadlines on some scrapbooking projects. At the top of my list this month was getting my player scrapbooks done for the Hartford Wolf*Pack players I follow each year. This year I have two player books that I'm working on. The first is a young defenseman, Corey Potter, who has been with the organization for a couple of years and has even had the opportunity to play up with the New York Rangers this year. Defensemen are great to scrapbook because they spend a lot of time down at my end of the arena! My second player is a two-time Olympic athlete, Andres Ambuhl, who just returned from Vancouver, having played for the Swiss hockey team. Andres is a fast forward, and what was really neat about scrapbooking for Andres is finding some great on-line shots of him playing in Vancouver that I could include in the book. He really seemed excited to see them, and I got him to autograph one photo for me for my own scrapbook (now just where did I put that darn photo). There is #10 on the left there admiring a Little Yellow Bicycle Generation Z layout of himself chasing the puck. Nothing better than combining two of my great loves . . . hockey and scrapbooking.

My creativity has been a bit sparce . . . but I fired it up a bit tonight. My favorite day of the month is the Employee Crop at New England Scrapbook Company in Canton. It is usually my time to look at my upcoming schedule of classes and get busy picking out paper, ribbon, and embellishments. Even better than the scrapbooking is the company. I get to scrapbook with not just creative people, but awesomely cool, fun and creative people. It's an afternoon/evening filled with laughter . . . and boy did I need it.

I found tonight interesting. I was working on a Designer Series kit for the store, and then buckled down on the store's monthly challenge. If you haven't checked out the challenge . . . you should. It is a lot of fun. But what was interesting about the challenge is that I was working on my layout to post, and while working looked over and saw Vanessa working on a page using the same paper line. A short while later I looked over and saw Chris working on a class page using the exact same paper line. Great minds! Great paper! Great embellishments! I highly recommend that you check it out in the beach section at NESC. It is TPC Studios paper and embellishments called "Undersea Adventure." Love it! Love the paper. Love the ribbon. Love the embellishments. Love the bling. What was really fun for me was having great photos of my daughter and her friends at the beach this past summer. Found them on Facebook and sent them to Snapfish. I hope to make a nice 12 x 12 album for her (one of my many projects on the list that is not started).

Wait! Strike that! It is started now. One layout down . . . many more to go.

Hope to post more soon . . . but I've still got that challenge to announce, so . . . later!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What the Flock?

Seriously! Is anybody home? Where is the woman who is supposed to "paws to scrap." Lately, she has not been "pawsing" or pausing at all. Not even a little tiny bit. It has seriously been a lot of running and running and running. My Monday to Friday job has been insanely busy. The stress of "changes to come" has left me feeling less than excited about doing much when I get home each night. There have been some added "volunteer" roles that required me to get up extremely early and yet didn't allow me to leave the office any earlier. The lack of sunshine has got me into my winter "I don't want to do a thing" mode.

I've been to the Big Apple twice in the last fifteen days . . . saw "Wicked" and caught a Rangers game just before the NHL had their Olympic break. I also saw the Lion King at the Bushnell. So while I've not been scrapbooking too much, I have been doing some other great things.

And I can't say that I haven't been creative, because I still have managed some class layouts for NESC, and have been working each month on the page challenge! Are you in on the page challenge? It is a great opportunity to get a page done using your own stash (you know, all those things you've bought and not used). And my idea flow has not stopped. So much to do . . . so little time!

My most creative venture in the last couple of weeks is flocking (that's flocking, folks . . . keep it clean). I flocked Oscar the Grouch for a class at NESC. If you've not flocked, you must consider it. What is flocking? Flocking is this great material that comes in little jars that makes your paper look like velvet or a little plush. It comes in great colors (NESC has Doodlebug Flock that comes in a great set of little jars). Trust me on this one folks . . . a little flock goes a long, long way.

Now . . . a little story! When I was a kid growing up in Ohio in the 60's (yes . . . the 60's) my mother wanted to flock her Christmas tree. I remember that she had the tree in the garage and bought a flocking kit. Some family friends came over and they flocked the tree. There was raucous laughter over the flocking of the tree. All of us kids were in watching Rudolph on television. We were young. We didn't understand. In my opinion, it was just a bunch of adults in the garage spraying all this chunky white stuff on the tree and waiting for it to dry. They talked about flocking a lot . . . and there was a great deal of laughter. I didn't see the humor. Fast forward to me at 48 years of age. I get it now. It was actually at some point this past holiday at a crop that I understood the laughter. My mother saying, "Norm is flocking our tree." takes on a whole new meaning when you're not in the first grade.

You can flock your paper, and while doing so in a group setting it makes for great conversation. People say things like . . .

  • What the flock.
  • Get the flock out of here.
  • What are you flocking?
  • Are you flocking?
  • Did you flock?
  • Get your flock on.
I have never heard so many grown women using the word flock in so many ways. So I challenge you all to flock! Get some flock and some paper and go flocking crazy people!

That's flock people . . . remember . . . keep it clean.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Preparing to Inspire

I have not been very productive this week with my hands, but my brain has not stopped. I've been putting a lot of thought into a particular assignment that I'm working on for my favorite home away from home, New England Scrapbook Company. It's all about inspiring other people, and boy was I inspired today. Went down to my home away from home and saw the makeover happening in the crop room. Can't wait to sit down and create in that new environment.

And . . . my special assignment (which will be announced on the NESC blog soon) is going to incorporate the fresh new walls of our crop room. I cannot wait! It's going to be fun. I'll blog about it here soon, but in the meantime, here's a quote to ponder . . .

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.” – Linda Naiman

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's 2010 and the Creativity is Flowing!

Oh, these resolutions have me hopping. I was incredibly busy this weekend working on some projects that I had in my head. They needed to get out of my head, through my brain, into my hands. They made it!

Bo Bunny's chipboard albums come in so many colors and I purchased three different colors. A red, a green and a white. I mixed up the pages so I had three multi-colored albums and then used coordinating papers, ribbon and embellishments to create some colorful, fun gift albums for next year. NEXT YEAR. Can you believe it? Now this is just insane. My resolutions are working fast and furious.

I also created a great chipboard album display for a coworker who just had a beautiful, new granddaughter. I painted the edges of the chipboard white, bought some coordinating paper, picked out some ribbon and with the help of my Cropodile, we created a beautiful double-sided I was so proud of myself this past weekend, and while there was more that I needed to accomplish, there is another weekend right around the corner.

So, here's to my first few days of 2010. I have more goals for this week. If I post them here, perhaps they will come true.

First, I need to create something new for the store I design for . . . a new project . . . super secret (kind of) and to be announced sometime soon.

Second, I need to start working on my hockey albums for my players (I create scrapbooks for players of the Hartford Wolf*Pack . . . more on that another day).

Third, I need to get to a class layout for an upcoming class.

All in good time. It's a great year!

Happy Scrapping and Happy New Year!