Monday, September 29, 2014

Mondays Are Hard.

Why is it so hard to start a new week?  Maybe it's because "new", when used in reference to weeks, actually means the opposite: "same old, same old." It's not really a new week; it's another week, in a series of weeks, and Monday is at the start of it all.  It's the distance between Monday and the weekend that makes Monday a particular kind of torture.

In sum, Garfield was soooo right.

I shouldn't be hating on Mondays, though. Every moment is precious.  Saturday moments especially. Just saying.

I am happy, however, on this Monday among Mondays, to share with you more sneaks from the JBS Mercantile October kits:

I think I've found a new favorite color combo in orange and aqua/mint green.

The kits will be available tomorrow evening, at midnight CST. I've had a peek at what the other DT members have been working on, and I know you'll love their creations as much as I do.

Have a happy Tuesday!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Sneak

Sunday morning, in sum: 
JBS Mercantile October kits.
Needle, thread, and sequins.
Happy brights.

On to layout #2!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Pinterest Vortex

I know, I know -- we're constantly being implored to back away from our screens, to turn and face the world, to view actual sunlight, to live wild and free and unplugged. 

But as long as Pinterest is around, that's just too haaaaaard.  

I get sucked into the Pinterest vortex a few times a week. It works like this:
1. See an image.
2. Pin the image.
3. Check to be sure it shows up on Pinterest (even though you know it has).
4. See more pins.
5. Repin the pins.
6. Click on a pin and find more things to pin.
7. Three hours later, look up to realize the sun has set and it is almost time for bed. 
Even if I am not actively pinning something, I have three pin boards that I sometimes visit just because they make me ever so happy as I behold their glory. I simply sigh into their colors and shapes and patterns, and feel better immediately. 

I know that some use Pinterest to pin a whole lot of whatever, but as for me, I try to stick to what brings delight to my eyes. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Beyond Boxes

As a teacher, I think a lot about school -- and not just the day-to-day routine of it, but the entire philosophy and structure of it. While I was still in my first years of teaching, I was simultaneously working on my graduate degree, and part of my course reading for one of my many (many) theory-focused classes was Althusser. There is a passage that still haunts me whenever I ask myself why we "do" school the way we do it. 
     What do children learn at school? They go varying distances in their studies, but at any rate they learn to read, to write and to add – i.e. a number of techniques, and a number of other things as well, including elements (which may be rudimentary or on the contrary thoroughgoing) of ‘scientific’ or ‘literary culture’, which are directly useful in the different jobs in production (one instruction for manual workers, another for technicians, a third for engineers, a final one for higher management, etc.). Thus they learn know-how.      
     But besides these techniques and knowledges, and in learning them, children at school also learn the ‘rules’ of good behaviour, i.e. the attitude that should be observed by every agent in the division of labour, according to the job he is ‘destined’ for: rules of morality, civic and professional conscience, which actually means rules of respect for the socio-technical division of labour and ultimately the rules of the order established by class domination....      
     To put this more scientifically, I shall say that the reproduction of labour power requires not only a reproduction of its skills, but also, at the same time, a reproduction of its submission to the rules of the established order....
What, then, can be said about the power of the schoolteacher?

This question was foremost on my mind when I created my most recent Crate Paper layout. Faced with a post topic that challenged me to find inspiration in something that I encounter often in my daily life, I focused on the lockers that line the halls at the school where I teach.

These locked "boxes" brought to mind the routines and patterns of students, who, essentially, spend most their days moving from box to box -- cars and buses, lockers, classrooms, houses, bedrooms, even computer screens and the pages of planners.
I filled my page with boxes...
but then, in the journaling, as in my interactions with my students, I tried to move past the idea of "boxing", of the status quo:
They wake up in boxes, sit in traffic in boxes, head toward their locked boxes, and then enter their assigned ones. They spend their days in boxes, staring at boxes, but somewhere in the midst of the day, let me be the one who helps them see beyond boxes. Let's unlock, let's defy compartmentalization, let's open up to the world.

All those years ago, reading Althusser, I realized my role in something so much bigger than myself. Though the idea is bewildering and sometimes overwhelming, I do accept that change begins with me. If we can begin to see the world differently, then we can begin to make a difference.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On Stories (and Story Play)

"We tell stories because, in order to cope with the present and to face the future, we have to create the past, both as time and space, through narrating it." 
These words, from W.F.H. Nicolaisen, are always among the first that I share with my students as we begin the year together in our English class. I want them to think beyond "story-as-assignment" and consider why storytelling matters. 

Related to this idea of why we tell stories is another of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite authors, Angela Carter, who writes, 
“...As the past becomes more and more unlike the present, and as it recedes even more quickly in developing countries than it does in the advanced, industrialized ones, more and more we need to know who we were in greater and greater detail in order to be able to surmise what we might be.”
Storytelling, for me, is not relegated to the English classroom. It is so much a part of the hobby that I love, scrapbooking. In fact, I would argue that it is at the heart of scrapbooking.  In our scrapbooks, we "create the past...through narrating it," and doing so actually does allow us to "cope with the present and face the future." Through the process of telling our stories in our scrapbooks, we really do "come to know who we were in greater and greater detail," and as a result, we are increasingly "able to surmise what we might be." 

Scrapbooking is storytelling. 
Earlier this month, the Masterful Scrapbook Design class "Story Play" premiered at Get It Scrapped. The class is based on a series of creative challenges involving storytelling through scrapbooking.  I created the layout above in response to a challenge to use a rebus puzzle.  
Can you figure it out? 

Let me help you decode it if you find yourself scratching your head: 

thumb - mb + future + sew + bright + eye + go + two + where + shades


The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.   

These days, my daughter has college on the brain.  She's excited and bewildered all at once. Why is it that high school seniors feel pressured to decide on their future careers already?  Maybe it has something to do with the cost of college and the fear of entering a job market that is already saturated. In any case, she is at a crossroads, caught between what she feels she should be doing and what she truly loves doing. She's very much aware that she is in the process of composing the story of her life, and she wants it to be a page-turner. 

She'll find her way. This layout is a reminder of my unwavering belief in her. 

This weekend (at 8 p.m. EST), I will be chatting more about my class layouts and my sense of "story play" during a Get It Scrapped/Masterful Scrapbook Design webinar.  I'm really looking forward to it!  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things That Shine: Flower Dream

Today I spent some quality time with some Things That Shine kits and tidbits.
This layout shares my "flower dream" -- that is, the dream of owning a green thumb instead of a black one. For someone who adores flowers as much as I do, it is a downright shame that everything I plant seems to die. Right now I am attempting to keep some succulents alive, and so far, they are still relatively green, so that is a hopeful sign. However, at the same time that I brought those home from the nursery, I also brought home three green pakalana vines, which have, sadly but predictably, returned to the soil from whence they came. Maybe Hurricane Iselle's winds had something to do with their demise, but I ultimately blame myself and the aura of floral despair that surrounds me. I'm like the kid who shouts "KITTY!" with arms outstretched and then squeezes the cat too tight, if you know what I mean.

Luckily, I still scrap flowers to life, which is what I did with this layout and the Things That Shine lovelies that grace the page.
A florist I will never be, but my love for flowers, though somewhat unrequited, will endure.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

And the Giveaway Goes To...

Congratulations, Cristina! :) Email your address to me, and I'll have your goodies to you soon!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Weekly Round-Up + A Giveaway

I will be honest: I miss Two Peas in a Bucket. I miss it every day.  Once the site closed, I put off removing the link from my bookmark bar, but eventually, I had to do it. I kept clicking the link out of habit -- a habit that was reinforced multiple times daily over the course of ten-plus years.

Although Two Peas is no more, however, the former Garden Girls have been keeping in touch, and because we hope to keep in touch with YOU as well, each week, we take turns putting together a "round-up" of projects from our blogs.  Here's what we've been working on this week:

Top row, L-R: 

Paper-piecing powerhouse Paige Taylor Evans creates her own kind of alphabetical order, using Shimelle's new American Crafts line. 

Inspired by Marcy Penner's Studio Calico mini-book workshop, Stephanie Bryan shares a gorgeous summer album (trust me on this: you will want to take a closer look at the contents of this beauty of a book). 

Speaking of She Who Inspires, learn how to dig into diamonds and shape them into triangles with Marcy Penner.

When Wilna Furstenberg says, "You Will Fly," you kind of believe it's going to happen. Check out this layout from her new "Art and Design" class. 

Bottom row, L-R: 

In the midst of a cleaning binge, Lisa Dickinson shares a lovely JBS Mercantile layout with a swoon-worthy sentiment. 

Melanie Blackburn shares her first October Afternoon design team layout (Congratulations, Mel!).

Watch newlywed (!!!) Céline Navarro's video tutorial for how to create a fun and vibrant page. 

As for me, I have a new layout up on the October Afternoon blog, featuring my take on a junk-mail challenge.  Join me in converting trash to treasure! 

If there's something you've been working on that you'd love to share, please include a link to your project in the comments below.  In fact, if you decide to share a project created and posted in the month of September, I'll sweeten the deal with a little giveaway.  Just be sure to add your link before Friday at 6 p.m. HST (that's midnight EST), and I'll pick one lucky winner from the mix! 

Have a great week! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014


The word "frisson" has been on my mind lately. It came up in class the other day, as my students discussed the following poem by Hsueh T'ao, one of many in our study of early Chinese poetry by women. 

Spring Gazing Song 
Blossoms crowd the branches: too beautiful to endure.
Thinking of you, I break into bloom again.
One morning soon, my tears will mist the mirror.
I see the future, and I will not see.

It is difficult not to react to these words. One way to describe the sensation brought on by reading these lines is "frisson" -- a kind of mental and physical shiver.   

When I got home that day, I created this layout, which brings together a series of "day in the life" detail shots and reflects on the moments of "frisson" in teaching and learning -- moments that can be epiphanic, that can lead to a hunger for more shiver-worthy experiences.  

The selfie included in the mix is of a pretty haggard me at the end of the day. Initially, I wasn't going to include it, but it's that exhausted teacher who is exhausted for a really (truly) good reason who needs to be on this page, just as she is. 

More details can be found on the JBS Mercantile blog

Monday, September 1, 2014

JBS Mercantile September Reveal

The JBS Mercantile September kits are now available! Over the past few days I've had the pleasure of working with these beauties:
September Antiquarian Kit

These kits are versatile, as I discovered after creating three layouts that range from a little bit of pretty to a lot of silly.

More details can be found in the gallery at JBS Mercantile. 

Even though I've pretty much rendered the kits into remnants at this point, I'm not done creating with them yet. I think I can still get at least one more layout out of them before the long weekend ends!