Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Word.

Here I am, in the last moments of 2011, and guess what just occurred to me?  My One Little Word.  It has been eluding me, but just as I anticipated -- though jokingly -- it really did come to me all at once tonight: 


As in, making a difference

...Am I focused on what matters most? 
...Am I living a life that matters? 
...Am I spending time with my family in ways that matter? 
...Am I creating pages that matter to me? 
...Am I shaping my thoughts into words in ways that matter? 
...Am I planning lessons that matter to my students? 


As in, substance.  
As in, that which occupies space. 

I want to be more conscious of the spaces that I inhabit, personally, creatively, and professionally. 


As in, importance

Fascinating:  the etymology of "matter" reveals that it originally referred to "material of thought, speech, or expression."   

Often mind and matter are considered opposites, or exist in an uneasy kind of duality -- mind over matter, it is said.  This is different.  I want to be mindful of what truly matters, and keep heading in that direction, body and spirit.   

When it comes to this word, however, I do want to keep in mind what Shimelle mentioned on a Two Peas thread today: 

And although the specific project is a word for the year, don't forget that life isn't really ruled by a calendar. I think it's okay to roll with the punches and change things when they need to change. I often focus on a guiding principle for a season or two and then move on when the energy to work on another part of life seems to be calling me.
Brilliant, no? 

Since I am on the subject of words, I am really excited about a project that I have been working on using the JBS Mercantile January mini-album kit.   The gallery reveal was tonight, and so I can finally share my work-in-progress -- or words-in-progress, actually: 
The album was inspired by David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary, which I read in a single sitting a few days ago.  As I explain in the gallery comments, although I had already been at work assembling this album when I started the book, I did not really have a vision for it until I started reading The Lover's Dictionary.  In reading the book, it became so clear to me that couples have their own unique language, and so I decided to create my own compendium of the words and stories that characterize my relationship with my husband.  

I was also inspired by the cover design of the book: 

I riffed on that design in the preface of my album: 
The contents themselves aren't organized like a book, however.  I included envelopes to house journaling cards: 
Just as a dictionary is never finished, since new words are added all the time and language constantly evolves, so this album is designed to be a work-in-progress as well.  Here are a few of the cards that I have included so far: 

This month I also contributed a year-in-review layout (shared in a previous post below) as well as this page about my sweet, sweet girl: 

Well, it's less than 30 minutes to midnight, so I'm off to gather the family, calm my shaking dog (homemade bombs have replaced illegal fireworks this year in our neighborhood), open the cider, and toast 2012.  

Here's to the new year, and making it matter! 

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Scrappy Resolutions

Can you believe that 2012 is just a few days away?
Cards from the JBS Mercantile 12/29 blog post.  

I've started to think about my scrappy resolutions, which are WAY more fun to come up with (and stick to) than regular resolutions.  Healthier diet?  Getting fit?  Going for a walk or run daily?  Sure, let's do it!  Then one gust of cold winter wind hits me as I am tightening the laces on my sneakers, and the next thing I know, I'm huddling on the couch under a blanket, watching TV and carb-loading to create more insulation.

But scrappy resolutions? Those are can-do resolutions. Want-to-do resolutions.

Last year, I came up with three of them, and I think I did a pretty good job sticking to them:

(1) Keep it real on the page. 
(2) Create more pages about The Love. 
(3) Keep wondering, keep exploring, keep keeping on. 

This year, I have decided that I will renew these resolutions, since these are not tasks that are meant to be accomplished, as in finished-done-over with, but rather, they are shifts in priorities and perspectives, and I want to continue on this trajectory.  I have also decided, however, to add another goal to the list for 2012:

(4) Work through my scrappy "bucket list," creating pages and projects that I tend to put off because they feel a little too significant, too monumental.  If not now, then when, right?  

Curious about what other scrappy-minded folk were planning for 2012, I started a thread on the GS board at Two Peas in a Bucket.  Now I am thinking I need to expand my creative goals for the year ahead -- or maybe find a way to incorporate some new approaches and ideas into my existing goals.

On that thread, more than a few people have brought up "PL," or "Project Life," which I had seen from time to time through 2011 as I visited some of my favorite blogs, and which I truly started thinking about when Marcy Penner shared some of her incredible pages.

Then I visited Stephanie Howell's blog, as I do practically every day, and what did I find?  She's gone all PL on me, too.  And so has Celeste.

As I am thinking, oh, I don't know, I'm just so busy, I'm not sure I can make it work, Stephanie shares a link to Lisa Truesdell's blog post about how PL is totally doable, and it's over for me.   As I read her words, Lisa scoots over on that crowded bandwagon to make room for me, and reaches out to pull me up from where I have been pacing behind it, panting.  Everyone on the bandwagon begins to chant:  One of us, one of us, one of us.   And I want to surrender.  I really do.

So maybe PL is a possibility.  We'll see.  I'm not really a fan of templates, though.  I know they make everything easier, but I like the idea of being able to riff a little.  I was also thinking of working with a smaller format.  Hmm...then again, one year I did 12-on-the-12th, and the template really made the whole process much more efficient. 

How about you?  Any scrappy goals for the new year?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

JBS January Peeks!

There are a few peeks of the JBS January kits up on the JBS Mercantile blog.  This is most definitely one of those love-at-first-sight kind of kit months, and the more previews I see, the more that love just deepens.

Each year for the past three years, I've created year-in-review layouts, pulling together my favorite portraits of Z from January through December.  The main kit and artisan kit helped me to get 'er done this year.
I cannot believe how quickly she has grown! Yes, I am one of those adults who sighs and says, "Time flies" a whole lot.  It's true.  This layout is proof.

In any case, there's a whole lot of happy to be found in January at JBS -- and I am also quite excited to see what Briana has done with the album kit.  You simply must check out the previews on her blog.  She has incredible taste, no?  I'm working with that kit right now, actually.  I can't get enough of those colors.

In light of my last post, I should also inform you that I have since made friends with my Cameo, which I will no longer refer to as Lameo.  My apologies.  I now accept the brilliance that is Cameo, and admit my human failings in the face of its magnificence.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cameo Help, Por Favor!

The video isn't exactly a cinematographer's dream, but I think it demonstrates just why I am losing my mind with this new Cameo.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!

ETA:  Problem solved! I needed to be more aggressive with the guide on the left, apparently.  The cutting mat wasn't going under the left guide well until I forced it, and now it works.  Hooray!  Thanks to all in the Two Peas community who rallied to prevent me from completely losing my mind this afternoon.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Night Before

...and though the wind is howling and the rain is pouring,
I'm bundled up and busy, preparing for tomorrow's family gathering...
and the dog is recovering from the best Christmas Eve brisket ever...
and the presents are finally wrapped...
and the tree is decorated, c/o Z, who arranged the ornaments hierarchically this year...
and my new Cameo arrived this afternoon from Two Peas (hooray!)...
the stockings have not been hung by the chimney with care,
(1) we have no chimney, and
(2) we kind of sort of misplaced the stockings.

Whoops.  I guess I'm off to go find a substitute.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December Daily Continues...

Monday, December 21, or "All My Bells Are Ringing":  I finally relax into my break, having slept for much of the weekend.  Z comes home from a weekend at her grandma's house, bearing container after container of Christmas cookies.   Sugarsugarsugarsugarsugar.

Speaking of sugar, my frosting-smeared daughter appears on a layout in this week's Garden at Two Peas in a Bucket:

I've had that BasicGrey blossom for a while now, and I wasn't sure where or how to use it until I started this page.  It makes a bold and playful statement -- plus, I love the color.

Tuesday, December 22, or "Silent Night":  This time of year can be hard as we look back and think about loved ones that we have lost. My grandmother has been feeling depressed.  My grandfather died almost two decades ago, but my grandmother often experiences his loss as if it is still fresh, especially at this time of year, since he passed away a few days after Christmas.  Even after years of grieving, she has not really accepted the loss.

Tonight we attend the memorial service of Uncle Ben, who is not really my uncle, but he is still family, though marriage.  He died on Thanksgiving, and though he had been battling cancer since 2009, his death was still quite sudden.  My grandmother attends as well, and I worry about the impact that this will have on her already fragile emotions.

The service is strangely comforting and hopeful, however, not at all like the services I am used to attending, which are gloomy and sometimes -- I don't know a better word for it -- scary.  This is a Buddhist service, and throughout the ceremony, we are reminded that wisdom and compassion are essential to life and to the nature of things, and that Ben is now part of that wisdom and compassion.  The western concept of "resting in peace" does not apply here, we are told; instead, he is very much part of an active, lively force.  His death is a reminder to us not to hang on to grief, but rather, to embrace life even more fully.

I think of Uncle Ben and I realize that this is what I knew of him: he was a good person.  I want to be remembered that way as well.  That is certainly something worthwhile to work toward -- embracing the love in my life and putting out even more into the universe.

Wednesday, December 23, or "My Christmas List":  Z and I had promised Rob that after taking a few days off just to relax, we would turn our attention to some much-needed housecleaning.   Thus, when I open my eyes and think, "Gosh, it's Wednesday," my thoughts soon morph to "Grrr, it's Wednesday."  Time to clean.  Sort of.  We get distracted too easily, and end up -- I can't even remember how, really -- reenacting Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the dog:

In any case, we make our way through much of our cleaning "to do" list.  I even manage to straighten my scrap desk a little: 
I've taken to storing my mists in old cake pans.  Cute and functional: my kind of storage. 

After cleaning, Z and I head to the store to pick up ingredients for chicken pot pie and beef brisket (perfect chilly weather food), and now that I've made my way through the cleaning list and the grocery list, it's time to attend to my own Christmas list.  At the top?  A Cameo!  Yep, I just got word today that they were back in stock at Two Peas, and so I quickly added one to my cart.  My husband is SO sweet for getting it for me for Christmas, even though I still need to inform him that he's done so.  

We also put up Christmas lights today -- and by "we," I mean "he," my awesometastic husband.  
The lights are blue.  I LOVE blue Christmas lights.  I wanted icicles, but they were too hard to find.  Now we are no longer the only house on the street without lights!  I felt like we were the Kranks for a few weeks there. 

On the agenda for tomorrow?  Finally decorating the tree! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Me and Me and Me and Me

It always feels a little strange to create pages about myself.

There's a moment that occurs in which I wonder if I am not so different from Narcissus, transfixed by his own image.  This thought rarely lasts long, though, because I realize that it is not vanity that motivates me, but rather, curiosity.   I know that I am the person in the photo, and though I should know her well -- she being me, after all -- finding the words to talk about myself sometimes eludes me.  I have so few photos of myself, so that when it comes time to put myself out there on the page, I want the page to be personal, and significant; I want it to convey something essential about who I really am.  No pressure.  Ha.

Take this page, for instance:

I was just sixteen in these photos, which were taken by my boyfriend at the time (the "him" mentioned in the journaling).  He's a Facebook friend these days, and he sent the photos to me.  Seeing them after all these years, I was amused and intrigued.  I certainly recognize this girl -- I still wear the same expressions, though the aqua suede skirt is long gone (thankfully).   Looking at these photos, I started to wonder about what was in my head back then.  What was I thinking?

When I sat down to create this page, I did not want to generalize, or journal from the outside looking in; I wanted my sixteen-year-old self to be fully present on the page.   So...I rummaged through my old journals, and discovered this "Joie de Vivre" list, along with some hilarious entries from my 1992 daily planner and a letter that my husband -- then stuck in the "friend zone" -- had sent me that year.    He said the wisest thing: "We cannot let fear push us or pain hold us back."  If only I had read his letter more carefully and truly taken it to heart, my teenage years would have been so much easier.
The page itself was created for today's October Afternoon blog challenge, which is to use both black and white and color photos.  The post also includes a chance to win a prize package from Glue Arts, and those who leave comments on the post itself will be entered to win the OA Holiday Style collection.  A winner will be announced on Christmas Eve. Be sure to check it out!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What a Week. What a Year!

What a week, what a week.
And I mean what a week.

Monday, December 12, or "Maybe This Christmas":  I make a list and check it twice.  Three times. Four, even.  The lucky ones are exempt from the semester exam, and they holler and whoop and breathe thankyou-thankyou-thankyou as if it's Christmas morning.  But the others?  They react as if they had made Santa's "naughty list" and got only socks and underwear for Christmas, and I feel bad for them -- but not so bad that I let them skip the test.  There's always next semester, I tell them hopefully, but they look at me forlornly.  I might as well have pressed a lump of coal in their hands.

Tuesday, December 13, or 'There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays":  A few weeks after putting up the tree, we take it down again, in preparation for our house to be fumigated.  The fumigation is the last step before we finally become homeowners, and as excited as we are about that, we are not as thrilled about packing up and leaving the house for two days while Rob, Zoe, and I are in the middle of an exam week. An hour before poison wafts through the house, I receive a disturbing phone call from Rob: he can't find the cat.  He calls, but she doesn't answer.  He searches, but she can't be found.   I drive all the way home from school and locate her in under five minutes, sandwiched behind the clothes hamper.  As I reach around to pull her out and save her life, she hisses and swats my hand, thinking that I am Rob, and leaves three bloody and burning gashes.  I head back to school, heroic and relieved, but generally kind of pissed. Is poison really that bad?

Wednesday, December 14 - Friday, December 16, or "Deck the Halls":  Final exams begin today, and the non-exempt students trudge forth through the halls at school, toward what they believe will be their doom.  I give them pep talks and feed them candy canes, and they leave feeling a little more hopeful, not to mention sugared up.  By the end of the week, I am both exhausted and exhilarated -- we've all earned a break!

As for the cat that I saved from imminent poisoning, she claws her way out of a screened-in window at my mom's house and goes to live in the bushes somewhere nearby, returning only in the dark of night for meals.  At first, I feel responsible, but then I realize, if you love something, set it free.  And wait for it to get hungry and come home so that you can capture it again.

On Friday afternoon, after signing the equivalent of a small forest in paper, we also officially become -- at long last -- homeowners!  Woo hoo!

Saturday, December 17, or "Do You Hear What I Hear":  Technically, though it is Saturday, I am still on the clock.  My speech students and I will not begin our holiday break officially until the end of today's speech tournament.  By 4:00, when the meet ends, I expect the heavens to clear and angels to stream down toward me singing the "Hallelujah" chorus, but instead, I feel enervated.  Boy, do I need a long winter's nap -- but the day isn't over yet.  My husband asks me to pick up an item from the mall.  On a Saturday afternoon.  A week before Christmas.  After searching for parking for thirty minutes, Z and I find the one spot open at the farthest corner of the mall.  We return to the car thirty minutes later, and Zoe tells me, Well, at least we don't have to exercise today!  Cue the "Hallelujah" chorus now!

Sunday, December 18, or "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year":  I sleep in, and wake to rain falling gently outside.  I complete a layout.  I hug my husband multiple times, and not because one or the both of us are rushing to leave the house to head somewhere.   Awesome day.  I even have time to start one of my yearly "top ten" posts.

Here are my top ten layouts from 2011:

(1) "How I Know"
(2) "Shark Tale" 
(3) "Where Love Lives" 

(4) "Right About Now" 
(5) "Here" 
(6) "NC or Bust" 
(7) "Know This" 
(8) "R" 
(9) "IOU" 
(10) "These Two" 
And maybe there's room for a few honorable mentions: 

"A Cup of Tea" 
"Island Girl" 
"Deer Santa" 
"The Freshman" 
It's interesting to look back at the year in scrapbooking and to see certain trends emerge.  I was definitely feeling my gray, cream, and kraft backgrounds, that's for sure.  I have so much neglected cardstock, but I always seem to be in need of gray, cream, and kraft.  I'm also seeing lots of layering.  I left behind clean and simple years ago, methinks.   I wonder what stylistic changes 2012 will hold for me.  

I think it's worth mentioning that the pages that I love the most from this year are those that have heart, that feature the faces I love so well and the details and stories that I want to remember always.  Creating pages for fun is wonderful, but I also want to create pages that matter.  If I can have it both ways, then all the better!  

Before I leave you (and I do hope to be back soon -- not just a week from now), I wanted to make you aware of a very merry holiday sale at October Afternoon.  Check it out here!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Is My December

Monday, December 6 - Saturday, December 10, or "Run, Run Rudolph":  What a week.  Looking back, the days blend into each other.  There I am, tethered to my desks at home and at school, in a muddle of frenzied scribbling and collating and typing, as I scramble to organize the weekend's speech event, finish the quarter grades for my seniors, prepare final exams, and compose college recommendations. There I am, on Saturday, dashing through the halls at the speech festival, in pursuit of impromptu topics or extra certificates or timekeeper's cards.

Though my week has been stressful at times, none of it feels like wasted time, and I have no regrets -- I love teaching, I love speech, and I love my seniors, and though I don't love headaches and averaging three hours a night of sleep, I know that the work that I do matters, and that is what pushes me on into the wee hours of the chilly December nights and dark December mornings.

A week like this also makes me acutely aware that I am indeed part of an incredible community, and that it takes a village to prevent a mental breakdown.  Never am I alone. So many of my colleagues have stepped forward, not out of a sense of obligation, but out of a genuine desire to help, and they are the reason that I survived this week without going completely batty.   So many of my students, as much as they wanted to know their final grades immediately, were patient with me.  One day, a few of them came in and offered me a drink and a snack as I graded essays.  In that moment,  I realized not only that I had not eaten all day, but that there are indeed angels among us, and they come bearing Coke and Chex Mix.

This week I also had the pleasure of attending my daughter's choir concert, which was incredible.  I included a few photos on this layout that I put together using December kit items from JBS Mercantile:

Last night the mid-month gallery at JBS went live.  It's full of amazing ideas.  I love seeing how one team, using the same items, can come up with so many different visions.

This layout felt so good to complete.  I came home yesterday from the speech event (which went wonderfully -- our school took first place!) feeling strangely disoriented.  I had been anticipating a rush of euphoria as I completed the week's marathon -- no more papers to grade, no more speech to prep -- but instead, I felt enervated.  When I sat down to create this page, I found myself feeling centered again.  Scrap therapy: there's nothing like it.

There was another scrappy bright spot in my week.  For this week's Thursday sketch post on the October Afternoon blog, I worked with Stacey Kingman, and both of us -- without being aware that the other was doing this -- scrapped brother-and-sister photos from Christmases past.   Here is the sketch that I came up with and my take on it:

I used an X-acto knife to cut out the numbers, and I added a little dimension using pop dots.  More details can be found on the original post

Well, I'm off to spend the day in a most anti-climactic way: cleaning.  Wish me luck! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

This One's for the Dogs

December Daily-ish continues...

Monday, December 5, or "Jingle Bells" (The Barking Dog Version):  I wake in the wee chilly hours of the morning to a dog curled up so closely next to me that our teeth are nearly interlocked and I am bound to have not just morning breath, but doggy breath, too.  It's that time of year -- winter in Hawaii, the coldest time of year here, a thought which makes mainlanders snicker, I'm sure.  Winter.  Hawaii.  Hilarious.  I'm roughing it, though --  I have no A/C or heat, mind you, so whatever the temperature is outside, it's the same inside.  I love December, though.  I would much rather brave the cold snuggled up under a blanket (or my dog) than deal with the sweltering summer sun.   I do not, however, like getting up at "o' dark-thirty", so I am anxiously awaiting Christmas break, when I can stay in bed until the sun comes up...and maybe even a little while after that.  I'm sure that my dog-woman Mazie is looking forward to it, too.  She is all about letting sleeping dogs lie.
Here she is in a layout from this week's Garden at Two Peas in a Bucket, sporting a pair of reindeer ears that we thought she would hate but ended up loving.  She trotted around the house, all "Rudolph who?"
This layout was so much fun to create.  The dog and I worked for weeks on her handwriting so that she could compose her own letter to Santa this year.  Or maybe I just wrote with my left hand, imagining what the dog would say if she could pen a letter to Santa.

Here's hoping you had a happy Monday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December Daily-ish: The Blog Version

Given that I am far too busy, much too disorganized, way too inconsistent, and let's face it -- just plain unmotivated right now, I am declaring myself a conscientious objector as far as the whole December Daily mini-album hullabaloo is concerned.  I will, however, concede to a blog version:

Thursday, December 1, or "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas":  Welcome, December!  Well, sort of.  As I change the calendar in my class, I realize that the end of the semester is coming sooner than I think.  Welcome, panic attack!

Friday, December 2, or "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear":  It's tree-trimming night!  Z and I head into Pearl City on the way home from school to pick up dinner, to save us time.  Ha.  I have forgotten that Pearl City is home to Pearlridge Shopping Center, and that everyone and his mother and even his mother's Secret Santa from work is heading that way as well, since there are only so many shopping weekends left before Christmas.  You would think that with everyone having decided to head in the same direction -- that is, toward making a merrier Christmas, credit cards in hand -- that there would be more goodwill toward men on the roads and less of the blatant $%!#wad-i-ness that we actually experience.   There is a lot of hating out there, let me tell you.  Jesus is not taking many wheels in Pearl City 'round rush hour.

Finally, we get home to trim the tree, and after poor Rob has lugged out all of the boxes of Christmas ornaments and made TWO trips back down to the store to get lights that actually work (the first time he got too few), we plug in the lights.  AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaah....  In a perfect Griswold moment, almost immediately we realize that we are going to have to take it all back down because we are planning to get our house fumigated before Christmas.  Ah, epiphany. You came too soon.

Saturday, December 3, or "Children Go Where I Send Thee":  It appears that the time for Christmas shopping has arrived.  Either we have raised a child who has no financial sense or we have raised a child with a big heart.  She shares her Christmas list with us -- which consists not of gifts that she wants, but of gifts that she wants to get her friends.  She is clearly not a heartless child, but she is most definitely a jobless one.  Time to revise that list, methinks.  Hugs for all this year!

Since Z has been invited to spend the night at her grandma's, Rob and I decide -- no, wait, let me make this clear: Rob decides and I stare at my wedding ring, repeating "for better or for worse" -- to brave the crowds at the mall.  He asks if I want to go to Barnes and Noble to wait while he does the shopping, and while that is tempting (and quite sweet), I explain that Barnes and Noble feels like a stepfather to me.  After Borders left, B&N has tried to take its place, but my abandonment issues run too deep.  I just can't, B&N.  It's too soon.  However, after Rob and I hit three stores, I practically fling myself through the doors at Barnes and Noble.  Sanctuary!

Sunday, December 4, or "Pretty Paper":  Finally, a day at home.  I sleep in, wake up for an ice cream breakfast, and end up back in bed, new book in hand (The Family Fang), next to hubby, who is reading his Nook.  The dog jumps up to snuggle, and the cat soon follows.  Ah, bliss.  Eventually, I get around to playing with some OA Holiday Style goodies.  And right now?  The bags of presents are in hiding.  The tree is half-decorated.  A layout is done.  Now this is how I celebrate the season best.