Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Becoming a Life Artist: Week 4- Celebrating the Everyday

Today Ali Edwards is inspiring me to talk about celebrating the everyday. I think this is my favorite of her life principles. To me, celebrating the everyday means being present in the moment, looking for beauty in my surroundings, and recording our daily routines and conversations through photos, my blog, and my scrapbook layouts.

Here are some ways I document and celebrate the everyday:

  • Project 365: A photo a day for a year. I have captured food, faces, and places, relationships, my job, and possessions that bring me joy. I can't wait to look back at the end of the year and see what themes emerge. You can find my weekly shots here on Sundays.
  • Facebook status updates: funny things my kids say, what we're having for dinner, results of medical tests. A fellow blogger I know at Away We Go used Facebook updates as the basis for her Christmas letter- what a great and simple way to look back on the everyday moments in a year!
  • Dinnertime routines: At our house we start dinner with gratitudes, in the form of "What was your favorite part of the day?" It reminds us all that every day has beautiful moments and reasons to give thanks. Simple, little moments usually make the list, such as "seeing my friends at daycare" or "getting to take a nap". Here is a week's worth of simple gratitudes that I posted a while back.
  • Scrapbooks: Sure, holidays and big events have a place in my albums. But I think the layouts I enjoy the most focus on daily moments and show a more complete picture of our lives. Here's one about playing in the snow in our yard.
Are you focused on the here and now and enjoying the little joys life has to offer? How do you celebrate the everyday?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rescued By a Friend! A Story and a Layout

A month or so ago, I was stuck at the car dealership while they worked on my car. I had already been there for four hours when they told me they needed to keep it overnight. At this point I was tired, grumpy and starving! I knew it was Jeni's day off, so I called her. She dropped everything, rescued me, and took me out to lunch at Mimi's! She probably doesn't even realize how much that day meant to me. Jeni is definitely one of those always-there-when-you-need-her kinda friends. Knowing her and the type of person she is makes me want to be a better friend, too.

About the layout:
Prima paper from Scrap-Tastic July kit
Felt flowers by American Crafts
CM circle punch
Lots of scraps!
Glimmer Mist in Old Lace

I would love to hear about a special friend, a quality you admire in a friend, or a time when you were rescued by a friend!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Project 365: Week 35

Sunday- Met up with on of my former students and his family at the park. It is amazing how much he has grown and how much is he talking now!
Monday- Our usual "breakfast for dinner" night. Vivian is such a goof!

Tuesday- Drinks with co-workers at Claddagh's Pub.

Wednesday- I pass this church everyday on my way to work. It seems a little...different!

Thursday- totally absorbed in TV. Oh well.

Friday- Morgan brought home some artwork. While she will never be Picasa, I am pleased that the detail in her drawings and stories behind them are getting better all the time!

Saturday- spent some time after dinner looking through scrapbooks. The girls love seeing themselves as babies!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Happy Book Project

I have been lurking around Jamie Ridler Studios for a while now, and let me tell you, this lady is full of inspiration! I have joined up with her book club, The Next Chapter, and we are currently experiencing The Happy Book. I am coming in on the middle of the project, so from what I understand, we are going to take a page a week and use that to inspire us. The assignment for this coming week is to choose a personal mascot and take pictures of it everywhere we travel. Sounds like silly fun! I have already chosen my mascot (you'll have to wait to see!) and am thinking up creative photo ops.

For today, I will share what has been making me happy and joyful this week...our beautiful weather! After weeks of outrageous heat and humidity, we are finally blessed with blue skies and comfortable temperatures. I have loved sitting on my front porch in the evenings, watching people walk by and chatting with the hubs. I have slept better and had more energy. A trip to the park did not seem like torture. I am getting little sparks of excitement just thinking that fall really is around the corner! I hope things have been pleasant where you are!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Best Things About a Rainy Day

Rainy weekends usually leave me bored, restless, and a little depressed. I decided to take inventory about the good things instead...

  • great napping weather
  • board games
  • time to clean without feeling like I'm missing out on something
  • my air conditioner doesn't start panting by 10am
  • crafts
  • movies with the kids
  • I feel justified in putting off errands
  • I don't have to water my flower beds
  • my umbrella is cute
  • we can stay in pj's all day
What do you like about rainy days?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

If I Could Change One Thing...

A challenge at Scrap-tastic was to use the phrase, "If I could change one thing..."  We were to think large-scale for this one! My journaling is pull-out from behind the layout and reads:

If I could change one thing I would wipe out illness and disease. Noble? Impossible? Vast? Yes, but also deeply personal. If there were no disease my mother would still be living and I would not struggle with everyday activities.

Papers: Creative Memories
Stamps: Unity
Ink: Broken China Distress Ink
Paint: Broken China Distress Crackle Paint (Ranger)
Alpha Stickers: Pink Paislee and Fancy Pan

This was such a challenging question to answer. What would YOU change?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Becoming a Life Artist: Part 3

Thanks for following along as I explore Ali Edwards' book, Life Artist. Today's topic is simplify.

Is your life too complicated? Mine is, at least it seems that way sometimes! Too many time committments, too much stuff, not enough hours in the day...sound familiar?

One of my favorite exercises for simplifying (and Ali's too) is making lists. Seeing my to-do list laid out in linear form makes my tasks less daunting. Journaling in my scrapbooks using a list format is visually uncluttered and gets my point across. Having a list of movies I want to see and books I want to read takes away the endless questioning at the video store or library.

Sometimes, it helps to limit your list to just the essentials. What will make me happy and feel accomplished today? Often, when faced with a choice between a walk with my kids and the piles of laundry that really need done, I choose the walk as more essential. By doing this I will feel more connected to my children, get some fresh air, and appreciate the beauty and inspiration found in my own neighborhood. Essentials. Simple.

So let's talk about where you may need to simplify, or your ideas for making your life more simple! We all want to know!
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Thinking inside the circle

I found this post on "Just Cherish Today" about the saying "thinking outside of the box". This phrase is intended to inspire creativity, but isn't it already overused, and therefore less effective? This blogger offers the term "thinking inside the circle" as an alternative. She suggests that "Thinking inside a circle would express a contained, focused method of thinking - while continuously adapting (no corners like boxes, circles just continue on)."

I like this. I came up with some other good reasons for using a circle instead of a square box:

1. circles are friendlier and more inclusive (circle of friends or family circle)
2. circles suggest an overlap or swirling of ideas- much more creative
3. circles are historically associated with infinity, continuity and connection
4. circles are also known to represent unity, wholeness, and completion

So next time you challenge yourself to "think outside the box", try thinking inside the circle instead. Reflect on some of the key terms listed above and see what it inspires!

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Project 365: Week 34

Sunday- Gramma gave in and got the girls their much-coveted "Pillow Pets"
Monday- Met Vivian's kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Brown
Tuesday- Some things I am reading
Wednesday- First bus ride, first day of school. Can't believe that's my baby!
Thursday- I was sitting behind this car at a stoplight and loved the reflection of the clouds in its back window.
Friday- Another fun Friday night crop!

Saturday- My dining room table has been clean and free of clutter for almost four hours now. It is a miracle!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Ears Have It- A Layout

Here is my take on this week's Scrappin' Silhouette. I made this, start to finish, in under an hour! I wanted to show what you can accomplish with a sketch as a starting point, and a pile of really old craft materials. Yes, everything on this layout is so old that I have no idea about manufacturers! Just "stash".

I used ribbon (applied with Tacky Glue) for the frame around the bottom photo, and the Creative Memories large circle pattern to create the yellow semi-circle.

Here is this week's sketch. We would love to have you play along and link up your creation! Be sure to stop by to check out the rest of the designs by our awesome design team, too!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Memes for Writing Inspiration

Last week I offerred links to some of my favorite crafting challenge sites. Today I have compiled some writing memes that I find fun and inspirational:

Wordzzle- create a story from a list of unrelated words
Views from Raven's Nest

Writer's Workshop- choose from various writing prompts each week; some are blog-specific, such as creating a vlog
Mama's Losin' It

I Comment Therefore I Am- creating a whole post from comments you have left on other blogs
Unknown Mami

The Poetry Bus- a different reader "takes the wheel" each week and provides the prompts

Random Dozen- you answer twelve random questions every week; great way to dig up some long-forgotten memories and stories
2nd Cup of Coffee

If you participate in other writing memes, we'd all love to know what they are and where to find them!
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordzzle Week 122: Short fiction about teenagers

Today I am participating in a weekly meme called Wordzzle, hosted by Views from Raven's Nest . The task is to take a list of unrelated words and create a short paragraph that encorporates them all.

This week's list: gradual, eagle's nest, martyrdom, pizza, pugilist

The greasy, unkempt teenager took gradual, purposeful strides into the Eagle's Nest, the local kids' hangout. No hurry; she knew her predictable and popular younger sister would be congregating here after tonight's football game. Shooting slow, poisonous glances at the cheerleaders and jocks, her eyes finally landed on the object of her recent hostility. Like a pugilist, she backed the girl into a corner and assumed a wide stance. “Why did you tell Mrs. Bowman that I cheated on my chem final?” she growled. “I'll probably fail the class and have to take summer school. Which means I will be pissed at you all summer. Which means I will make your life a living hell. Does that sound like fun to you, huh, little sister?” The slight girl, unsurprised yet still shaken, darted out from the corner and made her way back to her table of friends. As she grabbed a slice of lukewarm pizza and slumped down in the booth, she resigned herself to a season of martyrdom.

I like this meme- it's fun, quick, and a great way to scratch that creative writing itch!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Becoming a Life Artist: Part 2- Go With the Flow

"Go with the flow" is our topic for this week's look at living a creative life, inspired by Ali Edwards. Last week we discussed "It is OK".

For me, going with the flow is the key to decreasing stress in my life. Having the ability to adapt to life's curveballs adds to the "It is OK" life attitude. Going with the flow allows me to work around problems (heck, even expect problems as a fact of life!) and let go of strict rules about how things must be done.

In my crafting projects, going with the flow often means accepting mistakes or accidents. Sometimes this just means leaving something as-is and being happy with the fact that another scrapbook page is completed, another memory documented. Sometimes a mistake can be an opportunity for further creativity. Serendipity can lead me to substitute a product in my stash instead of the "one I really need", or using my tools in new ways.

Going with the flow also reminds me that there is a natural ebb and flow to feeling creative. Sometimes I am almost overrun with inspiration and can't wait to get to my craft room. I also go through phases where I simply don't feel like creating. I used to panic at these times. What if I never get inspired again? What if all my ideas have been used up? I am getting better at accepting these lulls in creativity. Let go of the pressure to create. Put my energy into other areas of my life. That being said, I do have some favorite ways of getting over a creative hump:

  • read a book or magazine
  • take a walk by myself
  • visit a thrift store, flea market, or yard sale
  • leaf through my older scrapbooks
  • watch a movie
  • have a chat with a friend
  • browse challenge websites
  • do a craft project with my kids
Do you suffer from fear of losing your creative edge? What are some ways you break through a "block"? Really, we all want to know!
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Everydays

"Small concessions...are like pocket change: it's what most of us have to work with, in the final analysis. Our small change is our daily habits and routines, our everyday, and the measure of one's life emerges, in the final analysis, from the sum of these everydays."
from "The Good Psychologist" by Noam Shpancer

Blogger's note: I read Dr. Shpancer's bio after reading the novel. He is a professor of psychology at Otterbein College in Westerville, OH, where I received my BA in psychology 12 years ago. Small world.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Project 365: Days 220-226

Day 220- Pool party with my besties and their families. Good times!
Day 221- Hubs playing guitar. Me playing with the B&W setting on my camera.
Day 222- The kids decided that they wanted to see a house of cards. This is about as big as it got!
Day 223- School conference. Morgan and her 2nd grade teacher! For some reason they have a stove in their room.
Day 224- Nothin' but blue skies! I was home with sick kids all day, so I had to find something to be happy about!

Day 225- Close up of a basket.
Day 226- Good wine, good food, good conversation.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Family

My grandparents are in the middle of this family photograph. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary last week. They are such an inspiration to me, and an important example of the love, hard work and committment that is required of a successful marriage. I am grateful and supremely lucky to have them in my life, and to have my children know them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Favorite Craft Challenge Sites

Next week, as part of my "Becoming a Life Artist" series, I will talk a bit about getting over a creative block. I love challenge blogs for this! The ones I list today will focus on scrapbooking and other paper crafts. In the future I will do a list of writing prompt sites and photography challenges. If you would like for me to compile a list of other kinds of challenge sites, just let me know!
In no particular order:

SplitcoastStampers- I love this place because it is a community. You really get to know other scrapbookers and cardmakers. Every day they have different challenges based on sketches, color combinations, an inspiration piece, a technique- whatever. It is definitely a one-stop shop. If you create a free account here, look me up! My user name is rdoak03.

Mojo Monday- A weekly card sketch is posted every Monday. Once a month there is a contest where you can win some stamps! Hosted by Julee Tillman, the creator and owner of Verve Stamps. Here's a recent project from me.

Scrappin Silhouettes- A new scrapbook sketch blog, updated every Thursday. Of course I put this on here because I am on the design team!  What is great about this blog is that a) Jennipher, the sketch designer, is truly a wonderful person b) it is not affiliated with any company or brand c) each week features a different number of photos on the sketch d) the design team is comprised of artists with different styles, and e) I'm on the design team!!! Here is my latest project using a Scrappin' Silhouette.

 Sketchy Thursdays- Another weekly scrapbook sketch. Lots of cool designers from all over the world.

Etsy Inspired- This is a really cool challenge site. Every week you are directed to a different Etsy shop for inspiration. You create any kind of project you want from there! My blog buddy and friend IRL Emily is on this design team.

Pencil Lines- Yet another great scrapbook sketch blog. Here's one of my favorite layouts I made using their sketch.
I really could go on and on with this list; the sites for inspiration probably number in the tens of thousands. Do you have a favorite crafting challenge website?  Let us know!
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Emilea Graduates- a layout

It's time for another layout using a sketch from Scrappin' Silhouettes. Here is this week's sketch:

And here's my layout:

My niece's graduation announcement and prom picture. Isn't she adorable?

Using Baroque Motifs stamp set from Stampin' Up- one of my faves.
Black and white ink.

Stickles and rhinestones.

We would love to have you join us at Scrappin' Silhouettes and link up your project!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Before I was a Mom

“Before I was a Mom” was a writing prompt supplied by Mama Kat.

Before I was a mom, I stayed up late and slept in on the weekends. Now I still stay up late and am up early every day.

Before I was a mom, I partied with my friends and went out dancing. Now I party with Hannah Montana and dance in my living room.

Before I was a mom, I did one load of laundry a week. Now I do about six.

Before I was a mom, a party consisted of friends, beer, music and snacks. Now a party requires weeks of planning, a theme, decorations, and goodie bags.

Before I was a mom, any clutter lying around was my own. Now I look at all the toys and kids flotsam and wonder if adults even live here.

Before I was a mom, I worried about getting concert tickets to rock shows. Now I worry about getting tickets for Disney on Ice.

Before I was a mom, I was compulsively punctual. Now “on time” means at least 15 minutes late.

Before I was a mom, “dinner out” included wine and candles. Now it includes kids meals and cheap toys.

Before I was a mom, I thought I had it all figured out. Now I know I never will.

So many changes, and on paper they all sound like I'm giving up a lot. What these changes don't reflect is the fact that my heart has grown exponentially, I have learned the virtue of patience, and a hug from chubby little arms beats a dance with a cute guy in a bar any day.

Before I was a mom, I never knew how strong love could be. Now I know the “I would jump in front of a speeding bus to save you” power of it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Becoming a Life Artist: Part 1

I am so inspired by Ali Edwards, the well-known author and scrapbook artist. Her layouts are to die for, but her philosophy on living a creative life is really what draws me to her.  I checked our her book, Life Artist, from the library (again), and began thinking of ways to truly incorporate her ideas into my crafting and everyday life.  Thus, my own Life Artist series was born. Every week I will feature one of her guiding principles and how it relates to my own life journey.

This week's topic is "It is OK". For me and my type-A personality, this is a freeing principle. It means...
  • I don't have to stress when things aren't perfect
  • It is OK to leave some things undone
  • I can define creativity any way I wish
  • I can express my creativty any way I wish
  • I don't have to remain in some pre-determined mold of someone else's choosing
  • I can put myself first sometimes
  • I can follow my list of to-do's, or not
  • I can be spontaneous with my children and my art
I think the hardest thing for me to bring into my life is the notion that imperfection is OK. (There will be a whole post about this later.)

As I mentioned, I am fairly type-A. I like having a plan and having things go my way. But I have a very strong reminder in my life that these things aren't always possible- my health. Even the best-laid plans can go awry or need to be altered when fatigue or pain takes over. So that "perfect" day at the park with my kids may be cut short, or my "perfect" scrapbook design may need tweaked, depending on how my fingeres are working. It is all OK. My girls and I will still have enjoyed the little time we did have at the park, and my family will still appreciate any layout I create, whether it's simple or elaborate.
What does "It is OK" mean to you? Are there some areas of your life where this philosophy would be especially freeing?
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