Sunday, January 31, 2010


Sorry for being AFK for so long -- it's been a busy week. I'm just stopping in to share a quickie layout that I put together last night using the January Studio Calico kit, some of the new BG Sugar Rush paper, and one of my favorite Sweet Vintage flowers. I always thought that the
"they grow up so fast, don't they?"
line that grown-ups exchanged so often
once upon a time
was just a form of small talk,
but parenthood has taught me
just how much truth is in that statement,
and just how wistful-achy it is to say
with experience behind it.

We spend our youth wanting to grow up,
to become who we are supposed to become,
and then we grow up to look back,
to wonder at the paths we took,
and the pace we took,
and we hold on tight to our children's youth,
because we know what happened to our own.

Yet as nostalgic as I can be,
I'm also filled with such profound hope
watching my daughter grow.
I know that it's not just her youth that's precious,
but her entire life,
and as an adult,
she's going to do incredible things.
So even though I'd like her to move forward slowly,
I know that it's my job to help her to move forward surely.

Oh, parenthood,
you've made a schmaltzy mess out of me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hands On

I've been trying to include my "work self" more often in my scrapbooks, and this layout that I completed recently for Scrapping Bella is an attempt to do just that. It's not always convenient for me to be the one in front of the camera, but I've been working on asking others to do the camera work from time to time. Luckily, one of the benefits of having my own daughter as a student is also having her on hand to snap a few photos of me actually teaching -- these are pretty much the only ones in existence!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Second Favorite F-Word

After family, of course,
is FUN. :)
I created this using the new Lily Bee "Hello Sunshine" line. These papers really are incredibly versatile and complement each other so well. You can check out more from the design team on the Lily Bee blog.

Initially, this page was an attempt at this week's Sunday Sketch over at Studio Calico. I'm always kind of, well, sketchy when it comes to following sketches, though. I tend to use the sketch as more of a springboard than a roadmap. Still, I know this page wouldn't have come together without the inspiration, so thanks, SC!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Ties that Bind (and More New Lily Bee!)

Saturday night
meant getting as far away from home as possible,
escaping to loud and crowded places,
and now,
Saturday night
means staying as close to home as possible,
feeling cozy and comfy, in the company of my family.

What changes in us as we get older,
calmer, more rooted, more content?
Love, I tell you.
In the pursuit of love, we wander,
and when we find it, we are home.

Speaking of all things lovely and homey,
this page celebrates the ties that bind
(with accents to stress the point, ha ha)
and the ties that hold us to each other.
Each time I think of my mom finding happiness
after all these years,
I know that God is good.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Five Faves Friday

1. Motrin.
2. Robitussin.
3. Sleeping.
4. Kleenex with Aloe.
5. Not vomiting.

These are a few of my favorite things.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Getting Better All the Time

Well, it looks like the fevers are subsiding (thank goodness),
and the space between cough-coughs is growing,
and in a few days' time, everything will be back to normal.
Today I stepped into the sunshine for the first time in days,
and it felt so good, so warm, so new. Hopeful.
When I was a kid, I'd always wonder why people would pray for health,
and now I know -- it's something we take for granted too easily.
Just a few days combating a nasty virus
makes me pray even harder for those who are facing much worse.

Now that I'm starting to breathe again (thank you, inhaler, my love),
I can share a page that I created last weekend for Scrapping Bella.
I've become so used to acrylic stamps, I was surprised
by how bold and clear the images turned out with these
whowhatwherewhenwhy rubber stamps.

Lastly, I'd like to declare a big THANK YOU to everyone who shared their well-wishes over the past few days. I'm so grateful to know that there are so many people out there sending good vibes our way! Right back at you, my friends. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No Immunity?

As a parent, I can deal with the ups and downs pretty easily,
and face all sorts of girl drama knowing that everything will be okay,
but the real trial for me is when Z gets sick.
Simply put, I hate it when she gets sick,
because I also get sick --
soul-sick, worried-sick, paranoid-sick.
I don't even care if I actually get physically sick -- that I can handle --
but my heart just breaks for that child,
and I can't calm myself or relax,
not until she's better.

Last night her fever went up, and this morning, it's even higher,
but she can't hold down any medicine.
On top of that, she has a runny nose, a cough, and the chills.
Hopefully her doctor will see us today,
but I'm afraid we'll get the usual
"it's probably just a virus, we'll wait and see"
diagnosis, and no meds, and no comfort.

I get it -- children get sick, and children heal --
but when I hear stories
about complications or worse,
it shakes me to my very center.

Parenthood gives us so many gifts,
but it also gives us fear,
and that fear changes us.
It can make us better parents,
but it can also make us c r a z y.

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for BOTH of us.
The part of me that is still capable of rational thought
knows that she'll be okay in a few days,
but the part of me that is consumed by "what if's"
won't quiet itself until Z is herself again.

ETA: Just got back from the doc's. It's a virus, so we'll just need to focus on keeping Z hydrated until it works itself out. Poor kid.

Monday, January 18, 2010

At This Moment

...I just finished watching "500 Days of Summer." This movie engages in some hardcore emotional heart surgery, with an awesome soundtrack, to boot. This clip isn't from the movie, but I just discovered it. Being a fan of "She & Him" and JGL, I am definitely loving this.

...I am about to email lesson plans, as my sweet one is sick. All weekend she was telling us that she wasn't feeling well, but we didn't see any signs of illness. Last night, though, she started a nasty cough, and a low grade temperature started today. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this passes quickly. The doc still doesn't have H1N1 shots available, and with the advent of this illness, I'm moving from cautious to irritated to worried now. Let it just be a cold, and nothing more, please.

...Even though the new week hasn't yet begun, I'm already on edge. There's so much to do. I guess I just need to relax and remember that "things are what you make of them," and believe that everything will work itself out for the best. There is comfort in cliches, no? Actually, being positive and chipper is easier said than done for me, given that my cosmic alignment tends toward the snarky side of the road at times. Time to refocus: here's to a week full of unicorns and butterflies frolicking on the bright side, drinking from half-full glasses. Mind over matter. You're never fully dressed without a smile. Whistle while you work. You get out what you put in. Etcetera, etcetera.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Good Gravy

Yesterday, the focus was on paper,
and today, I am ALL about food.

I don't have a chance to cook -- really cook -- too often,
due to a busy work week,
but on the weekends,
I try to cook at least one "big" meal
(meaning something that takes more than hour to prepare)
to remind my family that I'm still a keeper.

Today, I prepared roast chicken, my favorite home-cooked meal.
It's actually relatively easy to do,
and oh, does it make me happy.
It's the perfect meal:
roast chicken and gravy,
roasted carrots and potatoes,
and green beans with bacon and onions.
The chicken is mostly based on Ina Garten's recipe
from the first Barefoot Contessa cookbook,
with a few variations
(like adding chicken stock to the pan prior to roasting).
I only serve about half of the gravy,
because I end up licking the rest right off the spoon.
The carrots and potatoes are pretty basic,
and the green beans are based on a Rachael Ray recipe.
I love these green beans, and to me, they're perfect with chicken,
but Z doesn't like them at all, and Rob thinks they're just okay.
So what does that mean? More for me!
The highlight of the meal wasn't actually the food itself,
but those for whom it was prepared.
The most important part of any family meal,
after all,
is the family that shares it.
Well, that, and gravy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Lily Bee!

Can I just say how much I love the new Lily Bee lines, "Hello Sunshine" and "Lovely"? I've said it before and I'll say it again -- love. Love love. Here are few sneaks of the new lines debuting at CHA in a few days:

Keep checking the Lily Bee blog for more sneaks in the days ahead.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Five Faves Friday

This week has been a busy one, and finally, oh, finally, it's Friday. I'm emerging momentarily from the haze to identify this week's five faves:

1) Modern Family. Oh, how I love this show. This week's episode was belly-laugh inducing, as always.

2) Scrappy Fridays. I've been busy this afternoon working on layouts using the two new Lily Bee lines, Hello Sunshine and Lovely. Hopefully I'll be able to share them soon, but in the meantime, if you visit the Lily Bee blog, you can see how the ever-brilliant Stephanie Howell used these lines. The colors are incredible, and I love the variety in the patterns.

3) Punch Drunk. This week I made a quick stop at my LSS, in search of punches, since my collection is pretty limited. I found these Martha Stewart punches, and I can' t stop using them. I can definitely add these to my list of scrappy "good things" this week:
4) Z's Artwork. My daughter continually surprises herself when it comes to her artwork. She is learning that art has much to do with patience -- not waiting-at-the-DMV kind of patience, but journey-over-destination kind of patience. The more she allows herself to just fall into the process, the more she finds herself loving what she creates. She did this on Wednesday, using pastels and acrylic paint.
Isn't it great? I love it.

5) Three-day Weekends. Yes! Yes! And YES!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This year, I've decided to get back on board
with the "12 on the 12th" challenge.
The idea is to take twelve photos on the twelfth of each month,
to capture the everyday in the course of a single day,
twelve times throughout a single year.

I did this two years ago, from January through December,
using the same layout design all year long.
I didn't share many of the layouts,
since many of them feature my students
(after all, they do occasionally show up in my daily life),
but here are a few from 2008:

By using the same design each month,
all I have to do is choose a 4" x 6" focal point pic,
print out 11 2" x 2" photos,
choose the background papers,
create journaling strips,
add accents to a few areas, and stamp the month and day.
The pages come together in no time at all.

Last year, though, I forgot to take photos on the 12th of January,
and it just felt wrong to try to play catch-up on the 13th,
so I opted out for the year.
Today, though, January 12th came around again,
and I actually remembered my camera.
Here is 1/12 of today's photos:

One of the reasons I like the "12 on the 12th" project so much
is because it allows me to document my days at school.

This poster hangs on the wall in my class.
Isn't it inspirational? :)
I chose it not just because it's bizarre AND true,
but also because it lets people know who I am
as soon as they walk into the classroom.
Your typical teacher doesn't really have photos of excrement
up on her walls, am I right?
It's a disarming kind of poster,
establishing my room as a "safe space" for those who like to
smile liberally.

Without "12 on the 12th,"
this photo might not have been taken otherwise,
and might have gone undocumented.
I tend to overlook the everyday at times,
and I'm glad that at least once a month,
I'm pushed to acknowledge the truth in Annie Dillard's statement that
"how we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stop. Collaborate and Listen.

There are so many reasons
why I love the interweb,
one of which is that I can always find something
to make me laugh.

That's high art.

Would you believe that I once
danced on a chair at a Vanilla Ice concert?
Not my proudest moment,
but it was definitely a moment. :)
My friends and I had it bad.
For months after the concert, we'd say things to each other like
"yep yep" and
"yeaaaah, boyyyyeee,"
because we were just that cool (pronounced "confused").

I still know all of the words to "Ice Ice Baby."
They pop in my head at the oddest times.
Will it ever stop?
Yo, I don't know.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pure Poetry

"The best words in the best order."
This is how Samuel Taylor Coleridge defines poetry.

Yet poetry is not just in "poems."

It's in
the narration of this film

and in the lines of this lecture

and I believe that because poetry is all around us,
poetry is in images, too.
It's in the "click" that is more than onomatopoeia.
It's in the convergence of unspoken words,
the rush that precedes the desire to prolong a moment,
to repeat it, to preserve it, somehow.

Roland Barthes writes that
cameras are "clocks for seeing,"
and that is not just true,
it's poetry.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Take the Leap

Z and I watched Leap Year last night.
It didn't have great reviews,
and even the most positive reviews said things like, "It was painless."
Still, I like Amy Adams,
and I am all about the schmaltz,
so we decided to give it a try anyway,
and I'm SO glad we did.
It was a truly sweet, very pretty, incredibly romantic movie.

A few critics complained that it was anti-feminist,
about a woman who falls under some masculine spell,
but I don't see it that way.
I think it was actually anti-materialistic, if anything,
about a woman who breaks a self-imposed spell,
and liberates her heart.

I'm a proud feminist,
and I'm really just tired of the misguided belief
that falling in love, or love stories,
are somehow anti-feminist.
To be feminist is not only to embrace one's desires,
but also to critique those desires,
to be aware of how they are shaped and how they shape us.

Love is not about finding someone who will rescue you;
it's about finding an equal who gets you.
It's about being with someone who sees you,
and who challenges you,
and who respects you -- and you do the same for them.

Leap Year ultimately is not about the rescue;
it's about watching someone open her eyes,
and use them to look back at herself,
and take the leap toward love,
not losing herself, but finding herself.

And maybe this next statement is not feminist,
but oh, my gosh, Amy Adams' hair is incredible in this film.
If you don't see this film because you're addicted to schmaltz
or questioning your feminist sensibilities,
or planning a trip to Ireland,
see it for that amazing, Oscar-worthy red hair. Seriously. ;)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Five Faves Friday

(1) After-Christmas Sales and True Values. Over the break, Z and I cleared her drawers and closet of all the clothes that don't fit her any more, and she had barely anything left! She's no longer shopping in the girls department; nope, she's graduated to junior sizes now. So what did that realization mean for us? Firstly, it meant a much-needed shopping trip, and secondly, it meant sifting through a fair amount of hoochie-rific clothes in junior sizes before finding something that she could still be a GIRL in. Seriously, what is UP with the styles in junior departments? Last year I was purchasing clothes with polka dots, ruffles, and daisies on them, and now I'm supposed to be buying halter tops and heels for my daughter? Nuh UH!

So I should get to my "favorite" part, I suppose. After what seemed like a hopeless endeavor, we finally found some really cute clothes (just when I thought that our days of "cute" clothes had ended), and ON SALE, too, at 50% and 75% off. It was awesome. We had to search a bit to find them, though. All of the sexy, please-impregnate-my-teenager clothes were put up front, and the cute, my-daughter-might-actually-retain-her-dignity clothes were waaaaaay in the back.

(2) Studio Calico's Whodunit Kit. This came in the mail yesterday, and it is easily one of my favorite SC kits EVER. Isn't it a beauty? I also got the "In the Billiard Room" add-on. Those wooden letters -- need I say more?

These also came with my kit:
I have so many ideas for these Report Card Wild Cards from October Afternoon. Aren't they great? I've been wanting to document more school days, past and present, and these are perfect.

(3) CHA Sneaks. It's that time of year again, and there have been so many sneaks circulating. Here are a few of my favorites:

Lily Bee Design (I've had a peek at what's to come, and it's really SO very quite wonderful.)

I also know that the Collage Press Starlet line is on its way -- can't wait!

(4) In Love. I've been having fun cutting out hearts in all shapes and sizes lately. Coming to a layout soon:
(5) Thee, Thy, Thou. This week I started my Shakespeare units with my seventh and eighth graders. Seventh grade reads A Midsummer Night's Dream and eighth grade reads Romeo and Juliet. We always begin with a study of a few of Shakespeare's sonnets, so that students are familiar with his language and can practice paraphrasing. This is one of my favorites:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

The way that WS plays with language and upends cliches always leaves me smiling -- and that final couplet? LOVE it. It's a poetic boo-yah. Pablo Neruda does something similar here, and I love it EVER so much:
My ugly love, you're a messy chestnut.
My beauty, you are pretty as the wind.
Ugly: your mouth is big enough for two mouths.
Beauty: your kisses are fresh as new melons.

Ugly: where
did you hide your breasts
They're meager, two little scoops of wheat.
I'd much rather see two moons across your chest,
two huge proud towers.

Ugly: not even the sea contains things like your toenails.
Beauty: flower by flower, star by star, wave by wave,
Love, I've made an inventory of your body;

My ugly one, I love you for your waist of gold;
my beauty, for the wrinkle on your forehead.
My Love: I love you for your clarity, your dark.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening

My favorite time is twilight.

Not because it has anything to do with vampires (or werewolves),
but because it is a hinge hour,
an in-between time,
an even-ing of sorts,
a not-quite night, a darkening of day.
It's best experienced under an open sky,
especially with a companion:

Of course, twilight doesn't last long,
and neither does Cleo's patience.

Mazie came bounding up behind her the moment that I snapped this,
and it was fur and claws galore from that point.
Mazie lost.
As usual.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

At Random

Random Happiness -- it is the best kind.
It's different from Requisite Happiness,
the kind you feel at office parties
and fake during uncomfortable group portraits,
or experience when the clerk at the store reminds you
that there is a sale on a product you never use
and you fake excitement because she's clearly been bursting to share this news with someone.

Nope, Random Happiness is not at all like Requisite Happiness.
You feel it in that little belly jump,
in the involuntary tweaking of the corners of your mouth,
in the way you lean in to get closer to the source of said happiness.
Simply put, it's delightful.
It's a rush.

Here's what's putting a smile on my face today:

Waking up to this on my DVR:

Listening to this:

Discovering this:

Loving all of the CHA sneaks. I haven't been disappointed yet!

Being featured on Write. Click. Scrapbook.

Stocking up on stampy goodness here:

Bella Blinkie with Border

I've been asked to be one of the designers for Scrapping Bella (sister company to Stamping Bella), and I can't wait to start creating with these amazing stamps!

And lastly, the greatest source of happiness today
has been spending the last day of the holiday break
with Miss Random Happiness herself:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tying the Knot

As the holiday break winds down,
and we look forward (cough, cough)
to going back to school in a few days,
I am going to proclaim the last two weeks officially awesome.

After two weeks of sleeping in, though,
today I decided to begin reconditioning myself
to w a k e up
when no rational human being should be awake.
Usually, I'm not a morning person --
no sunlight, no deal.

It's actually a good thing I woke up early, though.
I was able to put the finishing touches on this layout,
and I love, love, love it.

I've been wanting to use these photos of my mom and Vincent
for a long time (as in, since September),
but it's intimidating to scrap wedding photos.
I've been thinking about why, and I guess it has something to do with
what happens when sentimentality meets perfectionism,
or over-feeling meets over-thinking.

Maybe that's why the early morning approach worked for me.
I was WAY too hazy to worry about getting it right,
and just went with the flow.
I've always admired those who can create beautiful, organic layouts.
Maybe they're just morning people. Hmm.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Count Me In

I've been noticing "top ten" posts everywhere lately, and I really did try to put together a list of my top ten layouts for 2009 before 2010 began, but it was just too hard to narrow them down to ten. It's tough to judge a layout, to separate it from the rest, because each one is so personal, representing not just a moment, but also the moment in which it was created.

I've decided instead to compile a list of my favorite products and techniques from the past year, using snippets from various pages. This way I don't feel so bad playing favorites with my creative offspring. :)

Here they are, in no particular order:

(1) I stocked up on these Sassafras chipboard letters at the end of last year, and plan to use them happily through 2010. They're the perfect size, and I love their colors, too.

(2) I've finally become brave enough to use my pen for something other than journaling on layouts. I'm now in the habit of outlining (and sometimes double-outlining) the edges of pages as well as the negative spaces left behind after misting -- love the effect!

(3) I'm not really a punch-happy kind of girl. I have very few -- two circle punches, a square punch, two border punches, and the one I use most often -- my Martha Stewart butterfly punch. I love using butterflies as symbols of growth, hope, and continuity.
(4) Each month I'm constantly amazed by Studio Calico's papers, including their brilliant kit inserts for special offers. One of my favorites this year has been this "Garment District" lady. She's both retro and relevant. Grace, after all, is timeless.

(5) I still can't quite get over the brilliance of Collage Press this year, for including an excerpt from Pride and Prejudice on the "Cheery & Bright" Joyride patterned paper. I would love to use this paper on every one of my layouts, but I think it has a better chance of being hoarded in the months ahead.

(6) Once upon a time I believed myself to be florally inept when it came to layouts. I've become a lot more comfortable with incorporating flowers on my layouts over the past years, though, and now, I'm loving the look of misted flowers. These lovely mesh flowers from Lily Bee took to the Maya Mist so easily.

(7) Jenni Bowlin's products are always so lovely, giving projects that amazing vintage feel. One of my favorite products are these teeny tiny letters from JBS. I like the way they can be incorporated into journaling. I'll definitely be needing more of these soon.

(8) Repurposing items that might otherwise be thrown away is something that I've been doing more often. For instance, after punching out die-cut shapes and tags, I save the negative spaces, so that I can use them as masks on projects later, as I did here on a layout using Collage Press. This layout also features one of my favorite color combinations -- red, blue, and green.

(9) So I've already established that Studio Calico's papers are brilliant, but I also need to give it up for the stamps. Month after month, SC does not disappoint. These Studio Calico month stamps are my current favorites.

(10) I've really been trying to incorporate some of the older items from my stash into my layouts lately. I know it's not really a technique, but it's a practice that I plan to continue in 2010. I do find that mixing a few older items (like these KI stickers and rub-ons) with newer products makes them easier to put to use.

(11) I have it bad for Prima's chipboard letters. I would like to see them in a smaller version, though. Can you imagine how perfect that would be?

(12) Over the past year, I have gained an appreciation for shiny objects. I'll be honest and say that I cringed frequently during the whole "blinging it out" trend when it was in its heyday, but now, I'm actually comfortable with the idea of adding a few pearls and rhinestones to a layout. I tend to be more strategic with my placement, though. There is no flinging of bling in my neighborhood. My favorite brands for shiny bits are BasicGrey, Prima, and Kaisercraft.

(13) 2009 was also the year of the sewing machine. I sewed on my first layout back in March, and never looked back. I just love the charm that sewing adds to layouts. This pic below also features one of my favorite products from the last year, Prima's Gallery Roses. As I write this, I'm down to my last rose, and not liking that feeling.

(14) This Sweet Vintage flower may very well be my favorite item from 2009. I love it so. I only purchased a few, spent half the year hoarding them, and now I am down to my last few flowers. Another one of my favorite products is here as well. I love that jade-colored button from the Making Memories Vintage Findings copper buttons set.

So there you have it. I'm sure I left out a lot from this list, but that's what happens when you play favorites, I guess.