Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Jesus was nailed to the cross & died for my sins and yours, but we rejoice today because He has risen from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father! He is preparing a place for those who accept His gift of salvation !

Happy Easter Y'all!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March Book Reviews

I've completed three books from the six I chose to read this month (in addition to the three I read that were not on my list).
Mary Magdalene: A Novel is the second book I've read by Diana Wallis Taylor, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. This book is a fictionalized account of the life of Mary Magdalene, and just like the author's previous book, Journey to the Well: A Novel, this book gave me a different picture of a woman from the Bible. The story depicts a traumatic event in Mary's life, which leads to much heartache as demons possess her. Her parents do all they can to help her be healed (praying for her, taking her to high priest) and spend their life protecting her from herself & others. She even marries a young man who is committed to helping her - it takes a toll on him and their marriage, but he holds firm & eventually brings her to where Jesus is and she is healed. She then enjoys a year with her husband before he dies and she chooses to travel with Jesus and his group of disciples. I highly recommend this book.

After reading Barbara Bush's Memoir earlier this year, I knew I would enjoy Reflections : Life After the White House, which chronicles her life from the end of George H. W. Bush's presidency in January of 1993 through the beginning of George W. Bush's presidency in January of 2001. Once again I was amazed at how much the Bushes accomplish as the book was filled with their many speaking engagements, lots of travel, and as much time with family as possible. It also seems that the Bushes have pretty much met every notable politician (domestic & foreign), entertainer, writer, business professional, and medical genius from the 1970s through the 2000s! Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this book:
*Communication is the biggest change in a world of big changes.
*One morning...I turned on the television and suddenly realized that...I knew every single person personally that I had seen on the tube during that hour. That's the life that George Bush has given me.
*I now have 15 paper back books I want to read. Why does that make me feel so good? It's like having money in the bank or a fully-stocked pantry.
*Energy seems to be a quality that is ever present in very successful people.

This book is actually the third book in a three-book Christian fiction series by Karen Kingsbury. I read the first two books last year, so here's a quick review of each one.

The series begins with One Tuesday Morning and the story of Jamie Bryan whose husband is a New York firefighter who responded to the tragedy at the World Trade Center on September 11. Jamie rushes to the hospital and finds Jake, who has no memory of anything before waking up in the hospital. [Warning - spoiler ahead!] In an effort to help Jake remember, Jamie begins reading his journal and discovers that her husband's greatest desire was for her to become a Christian through faith in Jesus Christ. It turns out that the man from the hospital was not Jake after all, but a businessman from California. He eventually regains his memory and returns to his family a changed man with a renewed commitment to Christ and his family (because of what he read in Jake's journal). I enjoyed the story but it was obvious this man wasn't Jake and I became frustrated waiting for Jamie to figure it out!

Beyond Tuesday Morningcontinues Jamie's story a couple of years later when she is spending all her time volunteering at St. Paul's, helping others who need to heal from the events of September 11. She meets a man who has come to New York during his vacation and they eventually fall in love. [Warning - another spoiler coming here!] It turns out the man, Clay, is the brother of Jake's look alike from California. This obviously creates a difficult situation, which they finally resolve and eventually they are married and Jamie moves to California where Clay is a police officer.

Jamie and Clay are important characters in the third book, Remember Tuesday Morning, however the story revolves around Alex who was a high school senior when the Twin Towers fell, killing his firefighter father. Alex has spent the past seven years willing himself not to feel and spends his time as a Los Angeles police officer. He is part of a K9 team and his dog, Bo, is the only important thing in his life . . . along with trying to rid the world of evil people so that others will not have to suffer the loss of a loved one like he did on September 11. The book also focuses on ecoterrorists who set fires to luxury housing developments that are being built on the hills around L.A. (Honestly I'd never heard of this happening, but I looked it up and there are groups who will commit acts of sabotage in order to bring attention to their cause of saving the environment!) Overall I enjoyed this series despite the unlikely coincidences that brought these characters together.

I have three books on my Kindle that I want to read in April, and I'm planning to read the other books that I didn't get to in the pile I pulled out for March. You can see the list of books I'm planning to read in the sidebar.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Crop Queen

During the 2nd unofficial BPC Texas Get-Together last September, one of my cropping friends bought me a beautiful dimensional sticker that I pulled out recently to complete this layout.

 Yes, I was officially the CropQueen (it says so right on my sticker!) and a Washi Tape Diva (as this was the weekend that I officially became addicted to washi tape!).

I have more photos and stories to scrap from that weekend, but I'm pretty sure this will be my favorite layout of them all!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grand Cayman

Once I decided to create sections in our 10th Anniversary Cruise album, I have been on a roll completing layouts. This past weekend I worked on the George Town, Grand Cayman, section and am sharing three of those layouts today.

Currently I've completed two of the eight sections in our album (and have quite a few layouts in other sections). I'm enjoying working on a section at a time!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Something From Almost Nothing - Cardstock

Prompt Four in Shimelle's Something From Almost Nothing class focused on solid colored cardstock. I created two layouts with inspiration from this prompt, trying something new to me in both instances.

This first layout uses three pieces of the same colored cardstock and creates a dramatic look for these two photos taken of all the lounge chairs on deck during our 10th anniversary cruise. This is the first time I've ever just used one color of cardstock without any other colors or patterned papers. I really like the way this turned out and will definitely be using this technique again.

The second new technique I tried involved weaving strips of paper together to form a background. I used cardstock as well as patterned paper pieces for my weaving and have to admit that it was more difficult than I had anticipated. I didn't do a very good job of keeping it all straight, but I think it makes a nice layer on this layout.

I'm having a great time working my way through the class materials and trying new techniques along the way. What new techniques have you tried lately?

Friday, March 22, 2013

3rd Blogiversary

Three years ago today I started this blog, so today I'm sharing snippets from three previous posts and a layout surrounding a "three" from my life (my 3rd birthday).

A Snippet From My First Blog Post
I've thought about this off and on for a little over a year now. Should I start a blog - a place where I can share what's happening in my life, post photos (including my latest scrapbooking pages), maybe even offer advice or inspire someone with my ramblings about books I've read or my latest organizing project? I don't know why today is THE DAY, but here goes . . . my very first blog post!

A Snippet From My First Blogiversary Post
I am so excited to celebrate my ONE YEAR BLOGIVERSARY today. I can hardly believe it's been a year since I published my first blog post. I really started out thinking this would be a little experiment to learn about blogging and to try something new, however I can't imagine my life without blogging now. I truly enjoy the regular exercise of writing and sharing my layouts, book reviews, and other bits and pieces of my life.

A Snippet From My Second Blogiversary Post
It's my TWO YEAR BLOGIVERSARY and today I'm celebrating the fact that I have not only been able to share bits & pieces of my life with each of you, but that I've also preserved memories and stories through that sharing. Each time I publish a post, I'm recording a little bit of what's happening in my life - whether it's showcasing my latest scrapbook layout or reviewing the books I've read or revealing new photos I've taken or discussing my latest organizing project or just simply chronicling the events of our latest adventure.

Thank you so much for stopping by today - I'd love for you to leave a comment and let me know how long you've been reading & what you most enjoy here on my 3-year-old blog.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Look Up - Look Down, Architectural Details & Shadows

As promised in a previous post, today I'm sharing more photos from my day with Ellyn at the Dallas Arboretum. There are numerous architectural elements throughout the arboretum and the sunshine we enjoyed that day created lots of interesting shadows.

These first two photos were inspired by Helena's Look Up Look Down photographic meme.


And here are my favorite architectural and shadow photos.

(Obviously Ellyn took this last photo!)

Our day was inspired by the free Finding Your Muse mini-class that I had recently re-visited and mentioned to Ellyn (who promptly checked it out!). I have a few ideas for using some of the inspiration in my photos and will be sharing that with you soon. Have you checked out this free class? (I believe I first heard about it from Rinda.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Playing With Photoshop Element

I'm not sure how I heard about the free Photoshop webinar from the National Association of Digital Scrapbookers (maybe I received an email?), but I enjoyed learning how to do a few more things in Photoshop. I was playing around with this photo . . .

. . . and turned it into pop art . . .

. . .  and changed it to look like an old fashioned photo.
It turns out that the National Association of Digital Scrapbookers site offers free webinars regularly, and it was easy to sign up for alerts of upcoming free webinars (there's a link right on the home page). You might want to check it out, too!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Something From Almost Nothing - Ribbon

Continuing my way through Shimelle's Something From Almost Nothing class, I completed three layouts based on Prompt Three, which contained inspiration to use ribbon. I'm also working toward completing our 10th Anniversary Cruise album, although I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it during the Paperclipping Play Along this month. I did take time to look through all the layouts I've completed so far and came up with a plan for the flow of the album. I knew I didn't want to do anything chronological, so I've decided to create sections that will house my various layouts. I'll use punched tabs to designate these sections:

Bon Voyage - a few layouts of us heading out from home & ready to board the ship
The Ship - layouts with photos of the ship and our stateroom
On Board - the various activities we enjoyed on board, including the fantastic food
At Sea - the view from the ship (sunrise, sunset, shorelines, other ships)
Cozumel, Mexico
George Town, Grand Cayman
Falmouth, Jamaica
Reflections - final layouts with our reflections photos and journaling from each of us as we reflect on the cruise

This first ribbon layout will go in the Cozumel section. This layout is a scraplift from Prompt Three - I used a wide ribbon (folded in half) along the right side and created several "flowers" by covering glue dots with fiber.

This next layout fits in the Bon Voyage section and also has a ribbon down one side (this time the left), along with a couple of ribbon pieces (red with black dots) and a small bow.

And finally, my favorite layout from this prompt started by using Shimelle's idea of looping pieces of ribbon around the edge of an item. I chose to add ribbon loops to my title block, which I created with one of my photos.
I used a divided page protector for this layout showcasing photos from the Royal Pallooza parade. These photos were not all that great (blurry and a little too dark), but the happy ribbons really brighten things up. I added a strip or two of ribbon to the additional photos and used both sides of the page protector to make this a double sided layout.

I like the way this divided page protector allowed me to create the 6x12 pieces, then quickly fill in the 3 4x6 slots. I'll definitely be using more of these as I continue to work on our cruise album.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Colorful Dallas Blooms

Last week, Ellyn and I headed to the Dallas Arboretum to spend the morning practicing our photography skills during the Dallas Blooms. It was one of the few times I've ever made a date to do something just for the creativity of it . . . and it was a blast.

It was the perfect day - sunshine, seventy degrees, a light breeze. I snapped 166 photos in two hours! However, one of my favorite photos was taken by Ellyn - she didn't realize it until she was scrolling through her photos later, but she perfectly captured our outing in this shot of me taking a photo with her shadow taking a photo, too.

There was truly a rainbow of color throughout the arboretum - here are some of my favorites.

I'll be sharing more photos from our outing soon, along with how I'm using some of these photos as inspiration for crafting.

As you can see, spring has definitely arrived here in Texas. Has it arrived in your neighborhood?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Okay For Now, A Just Man & Simple Living - book reviews

Remember those six books I pulled out to read this month? Well, I have made a start on two of them, however I've actually completed three books that weren't even in that pile! :>)

Since I was off for my two-week spring break, I checked out a copy of Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt and attended this month's book club meeting at the library. It took a few chapters for me to really get into the book, however I ended up enjoying it. The story is about a middle-school boy, Doug, whose family moves to a small town in New York so his derelict father can find work. Doug finds solace in photos of Audubon's birds in a book in the local library, and he begins to draw the birds. I found it fascinating that the author wove the bird photos and the interpretation of what the birds are doing and how they are feeling into the story of what's happening in Doug's life.

I downloaded a copy of A Just Man by Helen Daniel to my Kindle (free from Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review). This book was originally written as stories for kids, then later made into a novel, which I think is still more suited for children. It was a great story about a family during the Revolutionary War. It centers around how the many characters eventually come to know Jesus as their Savior. Honestly, the plot line moved very quickly and it was sometimes difficult to keep up with the ages of the kids and adults as the years flew by. I think this would be a great book to read aloud to elementary age kids because it could lead to discussions of the many Bible stories that are mentioned as well as discussions about salvation.

Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life by Lorilee Lippincott was free in the Kindle store one day last month, so I downloaded it without any particular idea of when I would read it. However, several times over the past few weeks I've found myself waiting (in line, for someone, etc), so I pulled this book up on the Kindle app on my phone to read. It turned out to be an interesting read, with 30 days of prompts for moving toward more minimalistic living. Many of you know that I'm married to a collector (and have quite a few collection-type tendencies of my own), so we are not in the market to become minimalist. However, I did enjoy the tips for decluttering and living life more meaningfully that were included in the book.

Now, I really am working on reading those six books on my March reading list!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Days of Seeking Direction Through Art Journaling

This past week I've done quite a bit of contemplating which direction I want to take with various opportunities, and I've also been playing around with a little art journaling.

Monday I was reading and enjoying a recent Somerset Studio publication (The Art of Paper and Mixed Media), which is full of inspiring photos and articles. So, that evening I pulled out a few supplies and started playing around with creating an art journal page. I used some spray mist over an alphabet template, then colored in the background with colored pencils.

And since I had already been contemplating ways to use some of my old book pages, I ripped a page out of one of the books and cut out a dress. With the addition of some patterned paper scraps, that dress led to the creation of a girl (who you'll see turned up in all my pages this week).

Each day I played around with a few different supplies. Tuesday I tried some stamps, more patterned paper scraps, and markers.

Wednesday evening I was anticipating an outing the next day with a friend - a photography date at the Arboretum to enjoy the Dallas Blooms (photos coming soon!). So, of course, I had to use that great camera stamp I got last year and a couple of flower stamps.

After a day of sunshine, blossoms, photography, and friendship, I started my page Thursday evening by using a die cut and mist in the corners (then adhered the die cut piece in one corner).

And finally today I pulled out my Crazy Crayon Disks to create a bright background as the starting point for this page where I'm wondering what's next.

I've had fun pulling out some seldom used supplies this week as I've contemplated where I'm headed with my scrapbooking and blogging and writing and speaking and teaching and just life in general. I do believe this form of journaling could be addictive!