Thursday, April 23, 2020

OLW 2020 | I Am Learning . . .

The third journaling prompt this month in the One Little Word workshop is I AM LEARNING, which I wrote about on a blank page in my 2020 planner. (The fourth prompt is I AM SAYING YES TO, but I feel like what I've already recorded in the first three prompts covers similar ground, so I'm skipping it.)

What are you learning currently?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Scrapbooking | Memories (Palmer, Alaska)

I've used the Heartfelt Creations paper collections for a variety of cards over the past few years; however, I had not used them for scrapbook pages. They are beautiful papers, so I decided to challenge myself to create a layout kit when our local scrapbook store owner mentioned that she had several pads of the Backyard Blossoms Collection.

These collections contain lots of cut-apart page with a variety of sizes (6x6, 3x4, 4x4, etc) as well as tags and tickets and banners and strips. It probably won't come as a surprise that I was drawn to the yellow background paper with the spray of flowers in the bottom right corner!  I chose a green background paper for the other page and then cut additional pieces with the same corner flower image. 

I wanted to emphasize those beautiful flowers, so I used Unicorn Stickles to add dimension and sparkle to the flower centers and a clear Wink of Stella pen to add shimmer to the petals.

I was inspired to create this page by my pictures from our day in Palmer, Alaska, in 2018. I resized and printed my photos here at home. This page holds eleven photos! These beautiful papers are perfect for showcasing the garden outside the Palmer Visitor Center, don't you think?

This Memories 2-Page Layout Kit is available at Personal Scrapbook in Allen, Texas, while supplies last. Call the store at 972.351.8717 to reserve your kit for pickup or shipping.

Monday, April 20, 2020

OLW 2020 | I Give Myself Permission . . .

The second journaling prompt this month in the One Little Word workshop is I GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION.

I used a blank page in my planner to add my handwritten journaling in response to this prompt.

I had those three cute shiny Despicable Me stickers sitting on my desk and thought they were perfect for giving myself permission to enjoy the positives during this time.

What about you - what permission have you given yourself this month?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sunday Musings | A Place For Us

The celebration of Palm Sunday was two weeks ago. This commemorates the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem as described in John 12:12-13 when a great multitude...took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him.

And last weekend we observed Black Friday, the day Jesus was crucified, and then Easter Sunday, when He arose from the dead.

The fact that Jesus died and rose again to wash away our sins is definitely cause for celebration. If we believe in Him and confess our sins, we are promised eternal life! We also know that until that time, He is preparing a place for us.

In John 14:2, Jesus says, In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Sometimes in our day-to-day lives, we forget to lift our eyes to heaven and remember the blessings that await us there! Yet, God's Word never fails and His promises are sure!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Art Journaling | Where Are All The People?

Have you seen any of those photos/videos with popular locations completely devoid of people? 

Places like Times Square or the Eiffel Tower or Niagara Falls. Places where (typically) it's almost impossible to take a photo without a multitude of strangers in the background. Places like the Alamo or Disneyland or Trafalgar Square. Places tourists travel to and families visit on vacation and friends meetup.

This art journal page was inspired by those images devoid of people and a small cityscape drawing in a magazine I was perusing. There were people on the city streets in that little example, but my page reflects the current state of affairs around the world.

Robbie and I have visited all the places mentioned above and it's hard for me to imagine them empty and quiet. Yet, this is another example of our world has come together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect those most vulnerable.

After I texted my sister Brenda a snapshot of my page, she created a similar page in the journal she's working in this year.

I wonder how things will be when the coronavirus restrictions and guidelines are loosened. Will these places be filled with people again right away? Or will it take time for us to feel comfortable in large groups again?  Will tourists and families rush to plan their next adventure? Or will we all stay closer to home and avoid crowded venues?

Friday, April 17, 2020

Scrapbooking | March 2020 Scrapped

Since we spent most of March at home as the coronavirus pandemic spread to and throughout the United States, I only needed a couple of layouts (in addition to Our Month In Numbers) to capture our stories.

I actually started with a two-page kit from our local scrapbook store (which is offering phone in orders & curbside pickup as the store is currently closed to the public). I really like all the die cuts in this kit!

So far, I've created two layouts with pieces from this page kit. For my first layout, I combined the information in my COVID-19 Words, Quotes & Such blog post and my guest post about Life in Lockdown on Ruth's blog to form a huge journaling block printed on white cardstock. I added a photo of the empty toilet paper shelves at our Wal-Mart and President Trump's  Coronavirus Guidelines for America postcard. All the other elements (background paper, photo mats, title, toilet paper die cut) came from the kit.

I used the other background paper and the green Shelter in Place and 2020 die cuts for another layout showcasing a few photos here at home during March. I added black cardstock photo mats and a green paper strip along one side to balance out the page.

I have the remaining four photo mats, the Texas die cuts and the Wash Your Hands die cut pieces left from this kit that I'll most likely use for a layout documenting this month of continuing to stay at home and follow the other guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.

How are you documenting this unprecedented time?

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Book Reviews | To-Read-Next Shelves

Over the past few months, I have been clearing space on my two shelves of To-Read-Next books. We have a small four-shelf bookcase in our bedroom that houses these books - the top two shelves are for me, the bottom two for Robbie. It's amazing how we can rearrange and pile books on these shelves to "temporarily" hold the books we're going to read next. (Y'all know what I'm talking about, right?)

However, I currently have some empty space on each of my shelves...because I've done lots of reading and less purchasing the past several months. The fiction books I've read the past few months arrived on my shelf from a variety of sources.


Instead of just reading The Last Star, which was a Christmas gift from Robbie (in 2017!), I actually reread the previous two books in The 5th Wave trilogy first because it had been so long since I originally read them. The 5th Wave is a fast-paced page-turner told from various character's viewpoints. The Infinite Sea is also told from different perspectives, although these are different than those in the first book. The Last Star brings everything to a satisfying, although sad, ending where there's still much to do to remake/rebuild the world after the five waves of the aliens' attack on Earth. These are good young adult apocalyptic reads, despite the fact that it is occasionally  hard to follow the logic of whether or not the aliens actually are on the earth and/or embedded inside some humans...or not.

Not A Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols is a Christian fiction book that my friend Rita sent me sometime early last year. The story follows Mary Bridget Washburn who has a tough life after her mother dies of cancer leading to her falling in with the wrong crowd. She eventually runs away and assumes her mother's name to hide from that crowd. She lands a job at a pastor's home, caring for his children. Their mother had died two years earlier. This is great novel about how the Lord is working and everything comes together in the end as many of the characters, including Mary and the pastor, find healing.

Robbie and I heard about The River by Peter Heller on the What Should I Read Next Podcast and both wanted to read it. It's been on the shelf since we placed a rather large book order from Amazon last summer! Two friends (Jack & Wynn) are canoeing down a river when they discover a forest fire is coming their way. They find an injured woman and end up taking her downriver with them, barely escaping the fire. There are a myriad of adventures, including a run in with two other canoe-ers who camp with them one night and try to take advantage of the woman. This is a fast-paced read with well-written scenery descriptions ... but an unsatisfactory ending.

Robbie put Acres and Pains by S. J. Perelman on my to-read shelf after he finished it last year. This book was written in 1943 about the "joys and tribulations of country living" as told by a man who went from "city lazybones to country squire" - it's a small book, a quick funny read. The interesting fact about this book is that it was the basis for the radio program "Grandy's Green Acres" which eventually turned into the "Green Acres" TV show.

The Guardians by John Grisham is another book Robbie added to my shelf once he had finished it. This is a great legal thriller following a lawyer who does innocence work, which involves getting innocent victims' convictions overturned. Cullen Post, a lawyer with Guardian Ministries (& an Episcopal minister), is working to overturn the conviction of John Quincy who has been in jail for 22 years for the murder of a lawyer in a small town in Florida. The sheriff of the town had produced a flashlight as evidence - it was supposedly found in Quincy's trunk; however, the flashlight was lost in a fire before the "experts" could study it. They testified to the validity of blood stains anyway, based on a photo of the flashlight. This is a great read that involves drug cartels, crooked lawmen, cover-ups, felon snitches, lies, and a non-profit organization working hard to get innocent victims out of prison and off death row. John Grishman said this story was inspired by an actual organization and a similar conviction.

I can't remember exactly how The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh arrived on my To-Read-Next shelf, but it had been there for a while when I picked it up to read right before the new year. This story about Victoria begins as she ages out of the foster care system. She has severe attachment disorder, a great love of flowers and their meanings, and no place to live. She meets a flower shop owner who gives her a job and helps her find a place to live. Then the story begins to flash back to Victoria's childhood and the time she was almost adopted by a woman named Elizabeth. Both storylines are intriguing and eventually merge as Victoria continues to learn to trust and bond with others. I found the information on the meaning of flowers extremely interesting, especially the notion that there may be more than one meaning for a particular blossom.

Do you have a To-Read-Next shelf? Or pile? Or list? Have you made any progress on it lately?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Scrapbooking | March 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 March.

* 1 trading card show attended.
* 0 packages of toilet paper on the shelves at Wal-Mart and Kroger!
* 15 Days to Slow the Spread - President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America beginning Monday, March 16.
* COVID-19 pandemic!
* 17 days Robbie worked from home.
* 1 virtual crop with friends.
* 3 hours spent pressure washing the patio & outdoor furniture.
* 1 game of canasta won by Robbie.
* 2 rainbows viewed - beautiful!
* 6 feet for proper social distancing.
* 20 seconds of hand washing needed.
* 2 individuals reported for the 2020 Census.
* 5 movies watched: Captain Ron, Nixon, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, I Still Believe, and Schindler’s List.
* 22 layouts completed, 3 art journal pages created, 5 Bible pages illustrated, 1 card made & 13 blog post published.

The movies we watched in March were quite an eclectic mix. Captain Ron is a funny show about a family that inherits a vintage yacht and flies to a remote Caribbean island planning to sail the boat to Miami. They hire Captain Ron and set out on an adventure that involves more trouble than they could have imagined, but one that brings them together in the end. In contrast, the Nixon movie is a serious look at former US President Richard M. Nixon and how his thirst for power and the threat of impeachment led to his being the first president to resign from office. The cinematography in this movie was extremely distracting (flashing from black & white to color and moving jarringly from one angle to another) and the plot would be difficult to follow if you were not already very familiar with the history or Nixon's presidency. (Luckily I could pause the movie and have Robbie, a presidential history buff, fill in any gaps in my knowledge!) 

We watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood after I finished reading Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers. I'm so glad I read the book first as the movie is based on just one story (of the many) about how Mr. Rogers impacted someone's life, in this case the journalist Tom Junod. The movie is well-done and Tom Hanks plays Mr. Rogers wonderfully! We watched Schindler's List, the historical film based on the real life Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of 1100 Jews during World War II, because I wanted to see it again after reading Leon Leyson's memoir, The Boy on the Wooden Box, earlier this year. It's been years since we first saw this movie. It's difficult to watch the atrocities of the Nazis portrayed (it's rated R for "language, some sexuality and actuality violence"), but it's an extremely well-done historical film.

I Still Believe was supposed to be released in theaters March 13; however, with everything being closed due to the coronavirus, the movie was released On Demand and we rented it from Amazon Prime Video. This is a beautiful story about Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his wife, who was diagnosed with cancer while they were dating. Honestly, we much preferred the option to watch the movie here at home rather than at a theater. I wonder if this type of new movie release will continue once things return to "normal."

Monday, April 13, 2020

20in20 | Project Completions 1-10

We are at the beginning of the second quarter of the year-long class 20in20 with Stacy Julian. The concept behind this class is to complete 20 scrapbook projects in 2020. Stacy began the year with a definition of a project: An activity that has a beginning and an end. It ends when the purpose has been achieved. She encouraged us to create a list of projects to work on this year based on our relationships with family, friends, others, things, places, etc.

I actually created three lists of projects to work on this year based on time/effort requirement: Quick, Moderate, and Intensive. So far, I've completed TEN projects and have made great progress on an additional ONE!

Quick Project Completions

1. Grandy's Kitchen Two-Page Layout with photo and memorabilia. This had been on my to-scrap list for several years.

2. 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 Mini-Album completed. I added the photo and journaling for the last two items I completed plus my final reflections on the last page to complete this album.

3. Custom Blog Header Puzzle framed and mounted in craft room with coordinating layouts.

4. New York Times Puzzle put together, modified to add wedding announcement, framed and hung in our front room.

5. January Mantel Display + Stories about items in display posted on blog. (As y'all know, one of my goals 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. I'm counting each month as a project - it has a beginning and an end and the purpose of remembering the stories of these pieces is accomplished!)

6. February Mantel Display + Stories about items posted on blog.

7. March Mantel Display + Stories about items posted on blog.

Moderate Project Completions

8. January 2020 photos & memorabilia processed and all stories scrapbooked. I am using this class as motivation to stay current with this year's chronological album, so I'm counting each month as a completion! (Many of my Intensive projects involve completing previous year's albums!)

9. February 2020 photos & memorabilia processed and all stories scrapbooked. 

10. 2019 Through the Years page completed. I have a beautiful album that Robbie gave me the year we got married. It has room to document the first 30 years of our married life. There's a two-page spread for each year - one side holds a 6x4 photo and the other side holds journaling that includes where we lived, where we traveled, our major milestones, challenges and triumphs, romantic moments, and how we spent our anniversary. I've kept this album up-to-date (18 years now!) and love reading back through it as I prepare a new page each year.

Intensive Project In-Process 

2012 Chronological Albums - I'm filling in gaps in our 2012 chronological albums, adding in stories, photos, memorabilia or different perspectives as needed/desired. So far, I've completed through the month of July and am hoping to finish this up by the end of this month.

As you can see, it looks like I'll definitely complete (at least) 20 projects this year using this method of defining a project. It's a huge inspiration boost to be able to look at the list of things I've completed this year; although I'm looking forward to having an Intensive project added to the list of completions.

Are you participating in the 20in20 workshop this year? How are your projects coming along.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter Y'all

As we prepare to enjoy a quiet Easter Sunday, just the two of us here at home, I thought I'd share a look back at Easter's past.

Happy Easter Y'all!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Scrapbooking | 2019

As I was organizing my in-progress chronological scrapbook albums earlier this year, I realized that I had not created any layouts at all for the entire year of 2019!

Well, actually I'd started a digital layout about the 10K walk my niece and I completed on June 1. So, I pulled that up and added the remaining elements and journaling to complete the first 2019 layout.

Journaling reads: When I read a little snippet that people who's age ends in "9" tend to be more adventurous & try new things, I joked with Nichole that we should do something while she was 29 & I was 49. Three days before her 30th birthday, we spent 2 3/4 hours & 16,000 steps completing a 10k walk on a very hot day! (70s when we started - 90s when we finished) Nichole wanted to visit Waco, where she'd spent quite a few years growing up. Nichole's first 10k walk...and I felt great that I could keep up with someone 20 years younger than me! Such a FUN day!

I also had a piece of inspiration that I pulled from a magazine that I knew would work perfect for two photos from the TET party we attended last year. I printed the photos here at home and enjoyed creating lots of layers to create this second layout for 2019.

It's not much, but at least I now have a start on preserving our memories from 2019!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Mantels | April 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.

April's display has an Easter theme and features a variety of colors.

That stuffed rabbit in the basket has been with me since I was a little girl. I don't remember exactly which Easter she showed up, but I do remember that my sisters and I each got one in our favorite color (yellow for me, blue for my older sister, pink for my younger sister). My poor rabbit is not looking her best these days with matted fur, crooked eyes, and a small stain or two, but she brings a smile to my face every time I pull out the Easter decorations.

The other items on this end of the shelf are all bits and pieces we use for Easter decorating. We rarely use the plastic eggs for hunting, but they remind me of many Easter egg hunts when I was a child and the times I've hidden eggs as an adult.

On the other end of the mantel, I decided to include a ceramic cross that a new friend made for me the first year Robbie and I were married. I had moved to north Texas after our wedding and knew absolutely no one except Robbie. I soon met our next door neighbor Nan who was a ceramic and stained glass artist. This cross always reminds me of her and our home those first few years of wedded bliss.

The cross is atop a pile of Bibles - the Interlinear Bible I gave Robbie as a gift many years ago, the Family Bible Mama gave me a few years ago (it belonged to my parents as long as I can remember), the Children's Bible Robbie had growing up, the Inspirational Study Bible, and a newer journaling Bible. This stack and the cross are reminders of the real meaning of Easter - our Savior, Jesus Christ, was crucified and buried, but on the third day (Easter Sunday), He arose & now sits at the right hand of the Father! 

I believe those two white ceramic rabbits belonged to my Grandma, who liked little knick-knacks, and Robbie purchased the carrot "tree" at Garden Ridge Pottery before we were married. It was one of his favorite home decor stores!

Some of you may remember the Happy Easter centerpiece that I created a few years ago. I'm not sure where those miniature rabbits came from, but they sure look cute there in front of the blocks, don't you think?

Happy Easter Y'all!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

COVID-19 | Words & Quotes & Such

The last few months have brought about a huge change in the things we talk about and the things we do (or don't do!).

It's difficult to remember that it's really been less than two months since many of us began using words like COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic, flattening the curve, and social distancing in our everyday conversations. There are now people who are sheltering-in-place, in isolation, quarantined, or on lockdown. Our actions are based on governmental recommendations or mandates or official orders or guidelines we've never had before. Panic buying has left shelves bare of essentials like bread and eggs and disinfectants ... and (of all things) toilet paper. Borders have been closed, schools have been closed, nonessential businesses have been closed, churches have been closed. And let's not forget Black Monday (March 16, 2020) when the largest stock market drop in history occurred, breaking the record that had been set the previous Friday!

We now wash our hands for 20 seconds, stand 6 feet from the nearest person, prepare for another 30 days to slow the spread, avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, and stay isolated for 14 days if we've been exposed to COVID-19! We watch the number of coronavirus cases and deaths rise each day and try to interpret those graphs and pray all these measures truly are flattening the curve.

Many individuals are now working from home, teachers and students are adapting to online classrooms, groups are meeting via Zoom or WebEx, families are communicating through telephone, text, and Facetime. Social media platforms and television programs are providing interaction and entertainment for many.

It's an awful lot to take in, isn't it? Yet, things continue to move forward and hope is still prevalent. Some of these things are beginning to feel more commonplace, although I agree with Ruth's comment in mid-March that "life feels ominous but semi-normal." And, like Mary-Lou commented recently, I "wonder what books will be written about this time in the world, the health & wealth of COVID-19." 

Will we look back at this time and grieve the losses, celebrate the way our world came together to fight this disease, and remember not to take for granted each moment of joy and freedom? Or will we look back and criticize the way the government handled this unprecedented situation, mourn the time and income we "lost" waiting for it to be over, and harbor resentment toward others caught up in this same predicament?

Honestly, I pray the Lord is using this time to draw individuals to Himself, to heal family relationships, to remind us of the things that are most important, and to prepare us for the end of this pandemic and the return to our "normal" lives. My prayer is that we'll look back and find the positives, learn from the negatives, and never forget those who worked and fought this disease on the front lines every day! 

I also hope we'll eventually be able to look back and laugh at a few things because humor is a great healer. In fact, I hope the following videos will bring a little laughter into your day right now!

P.S. You can read more about how we're fairing during this pandemic over on Ruth's blog today as I share what's going on here in our Texas home.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Art Journaling | Covering Up the Journaling

After seeing the FUN image below in a magazine, I took time to write and create a page in one of my art journals. If you look closely, you can see that I began with some journaling in a brown marker, then got creative covering it up with Slick Stix Crayons, markers, a white gel pen and the dancers image.

I like this idea of having a place to journal, then covering it up with scribbles or other creative products. Sometimes I'll journal in one direction, then journal right over it in another direction.

The act of journaling, simply writing out my thoughts and feelings, has always been therapeutic for me. However, I haven't felt like using a regular lined journal lately, so I've adopted this format of writing, then creating an art journal page over it. In the example below, I used a hymnal page, gelatos, a Sharpie pen, and a couple of stamps over my journaling.

Do you create over your written journaling? What's your favorite technique or product to use?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Scrapbooking | Two-Page Kits

Very early in March, right before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, I created a new two-page scrapbook kit for our local scrapbook store. The kit includes cardstock, papers from Authentique's Endless Collection, sequins (a mix of teal & seashells), ribbon, and old book pages.

This kit was inspired by photos from our trip to Point Dume back in 2016. This was a FUN kit to put together, and, fortunately, it was almost sold out within just a few days!

At that same time, I purchased a kit created by my friend Brenda Normand. I couldn't resist the sunflowers in this one! I printed an assortment of photos from 2019 in black & white and exchanged the butterfly embellishments that came with the kit for smaller ones.

I was having so much FUN with these kits that I pulled some coordinating papers from my stash and created another one. Unfortunately, the orders to stay at home went in to effect before I could take the kits to the store.

One again, I printed my photos in black and white; beginning with our wedding photo, followed by a shot of us on our 5th, 10th, and 15th anniversaries.

Organizing in my craft room this past month, I found a couple of other page kits (from a previous Scrapbook Expo convention) that I'll be putting together soon.

Have you used any two-page kits lately? Which one of the three I've shared here do you like best?

Monday, April 6, 2020

OLW 2020 | I Am . . .

There will be four journaling prompts this month in the One Little Word workshop, a new one arriving each Monday. The first prompt is simply I AM, so there's lots of room for interpretation.

I had a magazine I was ready to recycle sitting on my craft table, so I began by flipping through it and cutting out words that spoke to me during these unprecedented times. Then I turned to a blank page in my 2020 Planner and journaled through the prompt. (Robbie walked by while I was working and said it looked like I was creating a ransom note! LOL)

This was a FUN and therapeutic exercise. I have quite a few cut-out words and phrases leftover, so I may continue this process for the remaining prompts this month.

How would you complete the prompt I AM...?