Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mantels | March 2020

My goal this year is to design a new mantel display each month in a way that will remind us of bits and pieces of our wonderful life...and share those stories here on the blog.

March's display has a spring-is-on-the-way theme and features greens and browns. 

The centerpiece of the mantel this month is a bronze framed view of the Lord's supper that belonged to my Grandma. I have no idea where it came from or how long she had it. I chose this piece as a reminder that Easter is on the way. I added a couple of origami scrapbooks in front of it to help balance the colors in this display.

I included a stack of favorite children's books (and Stacy Julian's The Big Picture) with green covers. The ten commandments plaque was a gift we received from a friend when we moved into our current home, and you may remember the wooden candle stand (that Robbie made) from our January display.

Those wonderful Planet of the Apes figures are from Robbie's collectibles. Cornelius is standing atop a box (that my friend Becky picked up as a gift for us from Kenya) getting ready to test a paper airplane, while Zira seems to be taking notes. The framed Marriage Blessing was a gift from my parents when we married 18+ years ago, and that gorgeous green vase belonged to Robbie's grandparents.

We're really enjoying this relatively clean and simple display. It's like the fresh earth beginning to green up, awaiting the many colors of springtime.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

FREE Classes & Resources

With so many people spending more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's been awesome to see several ministries and businesses offering free classes and resources for scrapbooking, papercrafting, illustrated Bible journaling and Bible study. Check out all these opportunities for study and creativity!

Scrapbooking & Papercrafting

Ten Tips for Better Type E-Course
Cathy Zielske has invited anyone who wants to join a free pass to take her Ten Tips for Better Type e-course. This class covers the very basics of typography, a subject that has been a passion of Cathy's for years. She says, "I hope this can offer a distraction to anyone who needs one. I want to offer something to this crafty community and I realize learning about type is not going to change the world or the current state of affairs, but it might just stop one lovely scrapbooker from putting two spaces after a period." Click HERE to sign up.

Project Class Bundle
Ali Edwards is offering "something special to help you pass the time and find inspiration." The Project Class Bundle includes 4 mini how-to classes (Love You Because, Day In The Life™, I Am Tag Book, and Book Of Joy). Click HERE to sign up & use the code LEARNMORE to get it free.
Story Starters Scrapbooking Class
Crafty Jen Schow is offering her Story Starters class free. Click HERE to sign up for this self-paced class designed to help us share meaningful stories.

Traveler's Notebook Class
Layle Koncor of Layle By Mail is offering a free 2-part online Traveler's Notebook Class with prerecorded videos on YouTube - the first one is today (March 21) and the second is next Saturday (March 28). Check out the details HERE.

Illustrated Bible Journaling

The Proverbs 31 Woman 4-Part Devotional Series & Video Tutorial
Click HERE to access my devotional series on the Proverbs 31 Woman. There are four audio files and four pdf files that can be downloaded. The Happy Homemaker video tutorial mentioned in the second audio is on YouTube HERE. This is a series I created a couple of years ago for my newsletter subscribers.

LBH Faith Friends Bible Journaling Facebook Group
This free group was formed by Tracy Pounds of The Little Blue House as a place to share our passion for Bible Journaling and draw inspiration and encouragement from one another. We are connected through our Faith and this Creative form of Worship...Join in and let's be a blessing to one another!  This month's Faith Friends Meet-Up was online & can be viewed HERE.  Click on the Videos link in the group for additional Bible journaling tutorials.

Bible Study

Online Bible Studies from LifeWay Women
LifeWay Women online Bible studies is offering free access to teaching videos for eleven studies until June 18. They also have the accompanying eBooks for just $5 each until March 31. However, you don't have to purchase a workbook to enjoy the free videos!

I'm currently working through the Lifeway 20/20 Bible Study, hoping to watch the Faith Friends MeetUp video this weekend, and looking forward to the Traveler's Notebook Class today.

If you know of other free resources/classes being offered during this time of international crisis, please share about them in the comments.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Scrapbooking | 2012 - The First Half

Some of you may remember that I finished up our 2011 chronological albums last year, which led to my focus on 2012 scrapbooking as this year began. Honestly, I already had a lot of layouts completed for 2012 because I did a ton of scrapbooking due to taking online classes, coaching in the Finding Photo Freedom workshop, and being part of our (not-so) local scrapbook store's design team for several years.

So, my goal for our 2012 chronological albums is to organize the layouts I've already created, review the remaining photos and memorabilia I have on hand, and add any stories or memories I haven't yet captured to complete these albums. I've already worked my way through the first half of the year!

Some of the additional layouts simply showcased photos of: 

people we love, 

places we went,

performances we enjoyed,

and sporting events we attended.

A few pages added to previously completed layouts about about our travels:

for a weekend getaway

and an out-of-state trip.

And some layouts were added to record stories about:

how Daddy's broken arm was NOT an April Fool's joke,

the new friends I made at the first unofficial BPC crop I hosted here in Texas,

and what a great time it was,

and the legend that Jesse James died in 1951 (not 1882) and is in fact buried in Granbury, Texas! 

I'm so excited to have this first half of 2012 completed and am already making progress organizing layouts and photos and memorabilia to complete the last half of that year! Do you still have photos and memories from 2012 to scrap?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Scrapbooking | 2020 Asymmetry

Along with the monthly "by the numbers" layouts I'm creating this year, I'll be using a combination of traditional, hybrid and digital pages in our 2020 chronological scrapbook. Cathy Zielske's Design Your Life 2.0 workshop (which I did not complete back in the summer of 2017 and is still available as a self-paced workshop) provides instructions for all these types of layouts, so I decided to review those materials for inspiration as I scrap these first few months of the year.

I used the asymmetrical layout assignment as the basis for a layout documenting Robbie's trip to India in mid-January (before the initial reports of the coronavirus outbreak). I juxtaposed three photos from the hotel he stayed in with the view out the window of his room.

Robbie's journaling reads: I traveled to India (on business) for the first time at the end of January 2020. I flew into New Delhi (at 1:30am local time) and I actually stayed in Noida for the majority of my week-long visit. Even arriving so late (early?) at the airport, it was extremely crowded! While India is a beautiful country, I didn’t really get to see too much of it as the urban sprawl is even worse than here in the metroplex; traffic was HORRENDOUS and the air quality, due to constant smog, was very bad and visibility (even on a sunny day) was quite limited as a result. I stayed at a Radisson a few miles from where I was conducting business meetings; the hotel itself was very nice and the service was absolutely top-notch! The food was terrific and everyone there was extremely accommodating and very helpful. The opulence of the hotel itself, however, was in stark contrast to the surrounding area, because as soon as you moved off the hotel property (which was gated and guarded 24/7) the immediate area was extremely run-down, dirty, and made you feel like you were in an entirely different location. Regardless, I never felt ‘unsafe’, but I did find it slightly unnerving when I realized that the property guards at the hotel would check my Uber for explosives whenever I arrived back at the hotel! All in all, it was a decent experience for my first time to India – even under the guise of a business trip. Perhaps a return trip sometime down the road would be in order to better experience the country, its culture, and its people?

Right before this page in our album, I added a 6x12 page protector: the front holds memorabilia (airline tickets, hotel key cards, etc) from his January travels and the back showcases the view out his hotel windows in New York City and Boston. Fortunately, he has not had to travel since January, and his company has recently mandated that meetings be conducted virtually as we deal with the coronavius pandemic.

This asymmetrical design also worked well for a digital layout (using Cathy's page template from the DYL 2.0 class) highlighting a few photos from Daddy's birthday in early February.

As you can see, for the paper layout about India, I simply adapted Cathy's template/sketch to work with the photos and Robbie's journaling. I really like this design - you can see the pages I previously created with this layout digitally HERE and traditionally HERE.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

OLW 2020 | Health Vision Boards

When I chose my one little word for this year (HEALTH), I envisioned slowly making changes to grow and improve my physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health. It's definitely been a slow, although good, start to the year. (Of course, the introduction of the COVID-19 virus has made my word even more relevant!)

I'm participating in Ali Edwards One Little Word workshop, although I'm not creating an album this year. Instead, I'm using the blank pages in my 2020 Planner as I complete or adapt the prompts each month.

As always, January was the time to define our word and plans for the year. 

February was all about vision boards, and I ended up creating three different spreads in my planner. This first one is obviously focused on healthy eating.

The second one is more focused on overall and emotional health.

And the final one has more of a spiritual focus.

Each week as I plan out my schedule and activities, I flip through these pages and love having the visual reminders of my focus for the year.

Are you participating in the OLW class this year? Did you create a vision board (or three)?

Monday, March 16, 2020

Scrapbooking | January & February 2020 By The Numbers

This year, as I process each month's photos, I'm creating a digital layout featuring six photos and journaling "by the numbers." I'm using a digital template and various papers from my stash. My plan is to include a photo of me and Robbie and a photo of my mantel display as the top line of photos each month.

Here's how the numbers add up for January and February.

* 1 quiet New Year's Day at home.
* 2 business trips for Robbie:
     8 days - New Delhi, India
     3 days - New York & Boston
* 1 pan of fudge made by Mama while Melissa was there for a visit.
* 3 family members here for a quick overnight visit (Trey, Christina & Andrew).
* 1 get-together for Melissa to scrap with a friend.
* 3 pairs of of shoes donated after closet cleaning/decluttering.
* 4 happy mail packages filled with socks (& books) mailed.
* 1 hour of snow flurries.
* 5 movies watched: War Room, Tall Girl, Dumplin', The Addams Family, Tolkien.
* 10  layouts completed & 1 art journal page created.

I've decided to use this monthly layout to track the movies we watch as well as my creative output each month.

We thoroughly enjoyed each of the movies we watched in January. War Room is a wonderful portrayal of the power of prayer that I can't recommend enough. This was Priscilla Shirer's first movie with the Kendrick brothers, and her portrayal of Elizabeth Jordan is perfect. Tall Girl and Dumplin' are both on Netflix and depict the anxiety of being "different" as a teenage girl. They are funny and heart-rending and genuine - I recommend watching them with your tweens and teens for entertainment and discussion. The Addams Family movie came out last year, but we missed it at the theaters. It's an animated comedy that is well-done and just plain FUN to watch. I learned of the Tolkien movie through a post on the Patio Postcards blog. Robbie and I both enjoyed learning more about the life of J.R.R. Tolkien as a young man.

* 3 birthdays celebrated -Paige (15), Laurie (15) & Daddy (73).
* 2 day road trip to Southeast Texas.
* 1 new table & 6 chairs purchased for breakfast nook.
* 5 day visit from Pun'kin.
* 1 ingrown toenail surgically removed on Valentine's Day.
* 54 years of  marriage celebrated with Mama & Daddy.
* 1 hall closet emptied, cleaned, and reorganized.
* 8 lb 5 oz great-niece born on 2-20-20.
* 203 rolls of washi tape organized in an old cassette tape holder.
* 10 movies watched: Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2, Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, Mr. Holland's Opus, The Horse Whisperer, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.
* 16 layouts completed, 3 cards created, 1 mini-album finished up, 3 vision board pages collaged & 4 blog posts published.

We have a large movie collection and are watching (or re-watching) many of those this year. The Hunger Games and Divergent series are based on young adult sci-fi novels. We've both enjoyed the books and the movies. We first discovered Mr. Holland's Opus when a friend used excerpts from it for a presentation many years ago. It's a beautiful story of one teacher's influence on several generations of students. When we upgraded our VHS copy last year, the new DVD came with The Horse Whisperer movie. We'd never heard of it, but it turned out to be a wonderful story of healing for a young girl and her horse after a terrible accident. Robert Redford plays a rugged, down-to-earth rancher who has a special way with horses. We watched The Caine Mutiny Court Martial on Amazon Prime Video.  Some of you may remember, we both read the Fiction Pulitzer Prize Winner, The Caine Mutiny, and enjoyed the original movie with Humphrey Bogart several years ago. This movie condenses the story down to the final drama of the court martial of Captain Queeg. It's extremely well-done!

There you have it - our first two months of 2020 "by the numbers."

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Book Reviews | Six Different Views on World War II

Since the first of the year, I've read six books that offer six different perspectives on World War II and its atrocities - four fictionalized, one memoir, and one narrative non-fiction. The characters in these books range from a US Ambassador to Germany to one of Schindler's Jews to individuals involved in the resistance to those who ended up in concentration camps.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larsen is narrative non-fiction and my least favorite of this batch of books (despite the fact that I have enjoyed all the other books I've read by the author). This book begins in 1933 and covers the years leading up to World War II. It follows the steps of the new US Ambassador William E. Dodd. Much of the primary research came from writings by the ambassador's daughter, Martha, who (quite honestly) I did not find likable at all. Here's more detail from the book's blurb:

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

In June of 1940, less than a year after the war began, the Germans swept into Paris and set up headquarters in The Ritz Hotel. Blanche Azuello is the wife of the hotel's director and her story is told in Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin. This is a fictionalized account based on a real-life American woman secretly working for the French Resistance. I enjoyed this book and learned about a luxurious hotel (The Paris Ritz, which is still in business today) and got a peek into the resistance efforts in the City of Lights. And, there's also love and suspense and mystery, all of which is alluded to in the book's description:

Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests—and each other. Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goëring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets and lies. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris was published a couple of years ago. This is a fictionalized account of the life of Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov, a Jew who was put to work as the tattooist of Auschwitz in 1942 because he spoke numerous languages. The author interviewed and spent time getting to know this real-life Holocaust survivor, then turned that information into a novel. Mr. Sokolov and his wife both survived the concentration camps of World War II and afterwards made a life for themselves in Australia. He did not share his stories (as many have over the years) until after his wife's death because he feared being perceived as a Nazi collaborator. I found this book very disturbing because the tone is much different than other Holocaust survivor stories that I've read; I can easily see why he kept his story a secret for so many years. Here's a little more about the book:

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive. A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowery is set in Denmark and tells the story of a powerful act of Danish resistance in September of 1943. This is a young adult fiction book with fiction characters; however, the bold and daring actions of the Danes actually occurred resulting in 90 percent of Danish Jews surviving the Holocaust! I've read this book several times since it was first published in 1989 (and won the Newberry Medal and the National Jewish Book Award in 1990). If you've never read it, pick up a copy today to read how:

As the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family. Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.

Leon Leyson was the youngest member on Schindler's List of Jews. He was only 13-years-old and had to stand on a wooden box to work the machinery inside Schindler's factory. His story is told in the memoir, The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler's List. Mr. Leyson rarely spoke of his experiences until after the Schindler's List movie came out in 1993. After that time, he spoke publicly about his past to audiences in the United States and Canada. He was a high school teacher in California for 39 years; this book was published after his death (in 2013). I had not heard of this book until Robbie gave it to me as a Christmas gift last year, but I was immediately intrigued by the book's description:

This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s list child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s list. Told with an abundance of dignity and a remarkable lack of rancor and venom, The Boy on the Wooden Box is a legacy of hope, a memoir unlike anything you’ve ever read.

We Were the Lucky Ones is the amazing fictionalized tale of three generations of one Polish Jewish family, the Kurcs, who all survived the Holocaust. The author, Georgia Hunter, is the granddaughter of one of the members of this "lucky" family, although she did not know about this history until after her grandfather passed away. The book encompasses all the war years and alternates between various family members who were scattered throughout Poland, Siberia, France, Palestine - so many locations and situations that it is truly a miracle when they eventually reunite as a family! It turns out that the author's grandfather probably had it the "easiest" of all his siblings during the war, yet he rarely talked about that time in his life. I honestly wonder why the author chose to write this as fiction once she had unearthed these stories and interviewed survivors and their progeny, but it is a fantastic read and very well-written! I highly recommend reading about this family:

As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.

Have you read any of these books? Or others with different perspectives on World War II? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Friday, March 13, 2020

New York Times Puzzle

My niece gave us a puzzle for Christmas (in 2018!) - it's the front page of the New York Times the day we were married in 2001! This was such a unique gift and would be perfect for birthdays or anniversaries, etc. (You can purchase your own here:

We finally put the puzzle together (after I re-discovered it cleaning off my craft room window ledge)! The photos and headlines and line divisions went together pretty quickly...but all that text took a little longer.

It's so interesting to read and remember the headlines during that time. We were married the December after the attacks on 9-11, so much of the news surrounded that ongoing conflict. The lower right article about the shoe bomber reminded me that going through security for our flight to Banff (where we were married) was the first time either of us had to take our shoes off. It seems so commonplace now, but it was a brand new security measure at the time.

Once the puzzle was together, I had an INSPIRATION and decided to make a small modification. Do you see it?

Here's a look at the two versions side-by-side.

Yes, I decided that our wedding was much more newsworthy than those after-Christmas shoppers. I printed the photo and caption onto glossy paper and added the puzzle piece edit, so it blends in pretty well, don't you think?

I had the puzzle matted and framed at Hobby Lobby, so it now hangs in our front room.

When I texted my niece to tell her how thrilled I am with this gift, her response brought tears to my eyes.

What's one of your all-time favorite unique gifts? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Text Conversations

The day I was cleaning my craft room window ledge, I sent Robbie a photo of the cleaned space. Here's a look at that conversation.

I'm sure most of you will agree that my logic is sound on this, right?

As I continued cleaning, first my craft table, then the work table, I sent him photos of the "clean spots." Then I took a break and cleaned out the dishwasher. The following text conversation definitely reveals Robbie's sense of humor!

Can't argue with that right - I'm a genius! LOL

Have you had any funny text conversations lately? Please share in the comments.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

New Washi Tape Storage

Over the years, I've stored my washi tape in a variety of ways.

Most recently, I've simply had all the rolls mixed together in one basket. It's often FUN to rummage through them to find something that will work on my current project. Typically, however, I'm searching for a particular color. During my recent craft room cleanup, I decided it was time to try something different. 

I have an old cassette tape holder (that I no longer use for my ink pad storage) that I thought might work. I wasn't sure how many rolls of washi tape it would hold, so I just set it on my craft table and starting filling it up.

Turns out it works perfect for the 200+ rolls of washi in my stash! Robbie attached the holder securely to the wall in my craft room, and now it's easy to grab the right color washi anytime!

How do you store your washi tape? Has it changed over the years?

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Sunday Musings | The Lord Will Provide

The - Lord - Will - Provide

These are the words Abraham uses to name the place where God tested him by sending him to this place to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice.  The incident ends with God providing a ram for the sacrifice in place of Isaac, thus the naming of that place The-Lord-Will-Provide. (If you need a refresher, read Genesis's an amazing story of faith!)

Sometimes it's easy for us to brush over these four words because as Christians we know that our God will provide for us. But do we really believe it? Do we live like we believe it? Or do we look for our provision from someone or something else?

I have to admit that there have been many times when I've searched for provision elsewhere. When I've tried to get the things I need and want on my own, without seeking God's Will and asking for His provision. There have also been times when the Lord is calling me to do something that I can't quite fathom. I want to know the why and the how and all the other details first...before I step out in "faith!" I also have to admit that circumstances have never turned out as well as when I first seek the Lord and His Will and step out boldly to follow where He leads - He never fails to provide all that I need!

So, my question for you today is: Who or what are you looking to for provision?

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Craft Room Cleaning

My craft room is typically very organized, and I do a good job of keeping the two work spaces cleared in between projects. My craft table...

...and my work table. As you can see, there's very little difference between these spaces; I simply gave them different names. [And, yes, I do still store my scraps in a bin under the table.]

However, there's a wonderful window ledge (wide enough to sit on) that tends to accumulate piles! It seems that anytime I need to clean off  my work spaces, I pile all the miscellaneous items on that ledge. 

Last month, I decided it was time to clear it all off. I didn't take a "before" photo, but I'll admit that I had not cleared it off since December of 2018. How do I know this for sure, you ask. Well, I found an ornament kit that I had planned to put together for our Christmas tree that year, as well as a wonderful gift from my niece Nichole from that holiday season!

After going through each item, moving it to its proper place or processing it appropriately, I can now find the actual window ledge!

Above the window, I had tacked up a custom puzzle of my blog header (a gift from my sister Brenda a few years ago). It wasn't framed and the "teacher tack" wasn't strong enough to keep the puzzle from bowing out some. So, I took that down, put it in a frame, and hung it back up as a grouping with a couple of layouts.

I'm so glad to finally have that ledge available again. It's perfect for corralling items for a large project like a theme album...or holding items in preparation for our local scrapbook store's spring garage sale! 

Which space in your home typically accumulates piles? Is it time to tackle it?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Cards | Tea Time

While I'm not really a tea drinker, I couldn't resist signing up for a recent card class with Robin at Personal Scrapbook using the Heartfelt Creations Special Teapot and My Cup of Tea stamps and dies with papers from the Tea Time collection.

Robin creates such beautiful cards, and she really knows how to make things sparkle!

It was lots of FUN using a variety of inks and pens and glitters and bling and Stickles on these cards. I finished all except one during the class and added the finishing touches to that last one later that same evening.

Are you a tea drinker? If so, wouldn't it be lovely to receive one of these creations in the mail!