Thursday, December 6, 2018

Real Life

"How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives," Annie Dillard famously wrote, in words that both inspire and haunt me.  

One of my classes has been reading excerpts from David Eagleman's book Sum, which is quite intellectually and philosophically absorbing, and startling at times. The chapter "Sum" reminds me of Dillard's quote -- you can read it here -- and it makes me think about how I spend my time, and with whom.  It also makes me shake my head when I consider how much time has lapsed while I have been sitting at red lights or standing in lines. 

The layout above offers a little glimpse at what is most real to me, what delights me, and what I regard as time well spent.  Too often I become absorbed in that which will not matter much in retrospect. This page is a reminder to me that when I look back, I want these faces and these pasttimes to figure prominently in the sum of my days. 

Monday, November 12, 2018


Lately, I've been...

...binge-watching The Haunting of Hill House and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix. I highly recommend both series!  We blew through both in just a few days. Hill House is still haunting me, and Sabrina definitely delivers on escapist fare.

...looking forward to the January premiere of A Discovery of Witches. Only yesterday did I learn that one of my favorite book series of all time has been turned into a TV series.  I'm not sure how I feel about the casting, though. Matthew Goode as Matthew is fine (especially given that both Matthews are known for being fine), but I'm having trouble imagining Teresa Palmer as Diana. She looks too fresh-faced, too much the ingenue, to play Diana. Maybe my perception will change once I see the show. I hope it's good!  

In other Deborah Harkness news, I picked up a copy of Time's Convert. I can't wait to get started, though I am in the middle of the Throne of Glass series at the moment, and I'm really enjoying it.
I'm thinking that by the end of Christmas break, I'll have caught up with the most recent book in the series, and can move on to the Harkness novel by then. The Throne of Glass books are so well-written and so engaging. The more YA fantasy novels I read, the more I believe that some of our best writers today are YA writers.

...getting more and more excited about the coming holidays, especially once I set eyes on the December Documented kit from Hip Kit Club.
I can't wait to start working with this wonderful kit!  In just a few weeks, the fun begins! 

...finding time to keep scrapbooking, despite one of the busiest fall schedules of my life to date. Here are a few of my recent pages, all created with Hip Kit Club kits.! (See above). 

...tackling laundry. The more demanding my schedule becomes, the less I have time for daily chores, and the more my stacks of laundry build. Today they have reached avalanche status, so I've been trying to climb out from under them and get some laundry done. Every time I do laundry, I think of my grandmother, who used to talk about how much her sister loved to hang clothes and sheets on the line to dry. She loved their smell, their texture, the fresh air blowing on her face. I don't think I've attained that level of euphoria when it comes to doing the laundry, but it's one kind of dream to dream, I suppose. 

Off to do more! 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Yellow. Green. Dog.

Any page featuring pets is a page that has my heart. I love creating layouts about my furbabies and their unique personalities, like the one above about my sweet boy Linus that was prompted by a Get It Scrapped feature on collage-based backgrounds. 

More than any other color scheme, yellow and green show up most often on my pet pages. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but it may have something to do with a lot of my pet photos being taken outdoors. Yellow and green also convey warmth, happiness, growth, and vitality -- all of which dogs have in no short supply.  Layer after layer, every element on this page celebrates life with a dog, which is the best kind of life, really. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Planning Ahead: December Album

I know, I's not even Halloween yet, and Thanksgiving has yet to pass us by, and here I am thinking ahead to December. Feel free to roll your eyes at me. I'm rolling mine, too.

What can I say? I'm on break and thinking ahead to the next break. I'm also feeling particularly vulnerable to the pull of the new holiday products being touted on the interwebs. My mind said October but my mouse urged December, and I had no choice but to splurge on the Feed Your Craft and Kelly Purkey holiday releases -- they were calling to me.

Just LOOK.

This is the Feed Your Craft Made Merry kit...
and these are holiday specialty papers from the Kelly Purkey shop...
all of which will find a happy home in this 4 x 4 Studio Calico/Seven Paper album. 
Yep, it's hot pink, which totally works for me, as I am all about a color-pop kind of Christmas. I used this album size last year, and really loved it. It's not so big that I struggled to fill the space, but not so small that I couldn't fit journaling and extras in it.  (Side note: apparently the 4 x 4 album is nearly extinct. I've searched for more SC and WRMK albums but it's slim pickings out there. Bummer.)  

I'm also really looking forward to seeing what Hip Kit Club has in store for us this year. Last year's holiday kit was so much fun to work with/play with. 

Okay, I'll return to October now. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Is This Thing On?

Yikes -- it's been over a month since I last posted. As is the case every few months, you can blame the usual end-of-quarter madness for my absence, but I am happy to report that the quarter is now over and I am officially on FALL BREAK! Woo hoo!

The first 48 hours of the break have been spent sleeping (can't get enough of that wonderful stuff), finishing one book and starting another, eating at the best sushi place I've been to yet, giving lots of behind-the-ear and belly rubs to my doggy loves, watching A Star Is Born (which is less of a love story and more of a horror story, as it turns out), trying to regulate my heart rate and find my center again after the Kavanaugh confirmation, and washing laundry that's been piling up for far too long (we're talking Everest here).

Today I had an actual breakfast-using-a-plate-and-utensils for the first time in months. Usually I grab coffee and a croissant in the morning, shaking off crumbs as I enter campus. I also plan to eat lunch daily over the break, something I rarely do, even when I remember to pack it. I have an unhealthy tendency to work through lunch. After 20 years of teaching, you'd think I'd have figured out how to carve out a section of the day to ensure my continued survival, but no, I still lack that ability.

While the past month or so has resulted in high levels of efficiency and engagement at work, it has been a real struggle on the crafty front. I've had so little free time and so little energy that as deadlines have approached, it has taken everything in me to pull myself away from my "to do" list and to try to feel creative. As grudgingly as I started projects this past month, however, I always ended up being grateful that I started at all. Creativity takes effort to summon at times, but it is also a release, a reminder that outlets are so very important.

Here are a few of the projects created over the past month:

This project was created for a Get It Scrapped blog feature on making journaling the center of one's story. It is possibly the most difficult layout that I have ever made, and it was many years in the making. I've looked at the photo of my uncle as an innocent young boy many, many times. Every time I have considered what photo to use on a layout, I have held this photo in my hands and have wondered, "Now?", and each time, I have not been ready...not until Debbie Hodge and Amy Kingsford at Get It Scrapped invited me to create a page that put the story -- and not a technique or product or trend -- at the center. The supplies here are minimal; the story is everything.

My mom read through the comments that people had posted on Instagram when I first shared this, and she said that she felt as if she had failed me. She hadn't known it was this bad. How could she have known when my ability to express this as a child was limited, when every story I told was countered by my grandmother playing it off as if my uncle was just in a mood and needed some time to cool down? As I mention in the journaling, we were all afflicted. There are no heroes and villains in this narrative.

My mother tells me that if she had known what I had experienced -- really known it, as detailed here -- she would have thrown herself in front me, protected me. I know she would have. I don't blame her for this. Again, we were all afflicted, all coping in our own way.

She says she has let it go, put it behind her, that she is a "healer" and that it does not affect her because she has forgiven my uncle. I tell her, none of us can let it go. It shaped us and it shapes us still. You are the child of an alcoholic, the sister of a mentally ill drug addict, I tell her.  There is no past tense with addiction. You are a healer precisely because you spent much of your life trying to piece together brokenness. I abhor violence of any kind and struggle against voicelessness because I know what it is like to look down the barrel of a gun, screaming silently. Because we are shaped by our experiences, we may believe that we have let go of them, but they will not let go of us.

On a lighter note...
I created this tribute to my favorite weekend family treat, dim sum, using a sketch that I designed for Hip Kit Club. 
I can't believe how long it took me to finally acquaint myself with the wonder that is dim sum. I crave it all week long now -- especially shrimp spring roll look fun, which is a textural delight, combining a soft wrapper outside with a crunchy inner layer. So good!

Another Hip Kit Club page with the September kits...
This sweet kitty is 17 years old and still keeping us on our toes. I caught her here in a sweet moment, just before she stretched out and started yowling for food, as she does about sixteen times a day. Last night, she snuggled up next to me as I was reading in bed, and just as I was sighing over her cuteness, she attacked my hand as it shifted under the covers.  For an old cat, she's pretty spry. 

And finally...
Although I'm not a Project Life-style scrapbooker, I'm still committed to documenting the everyday, which is the focus of this mini-album I put together using the Hip Kit Club September kits. More details on the process can be found on the Hip Kit Club blog

Here's hoping that with the break ahead of me, I find more time to be creative and, in the process, find my bearings once again. 

Thanks for stopping by today!

Monday, September 3, 2018


Lately, I have been...

,,,adjusting to being back at school again. The easy part is working with students, who keep me motivated and hopeful. The hard part is getting much less sleep than I did over the summer. The traffic that I encounter to and from school is also irritating, but at least that gives me some thinking time, or, as other drivers have witnessed, some time to unreservedly belt out Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic." 

...working with the August kits from Hip Kit Club. 
(More details may be found on the Hip Kit Club blog, where I share the process behind the page.) 

...looking forward to another term with Hip Kit Club! 

...feeling grateful that Hurricane Lane did not do more damage. The Big Island of Hawai'i and parts of Maui experienced severe flooding and landslides, and will have a long recovery period ahead, but I recall the devastation from Hurricane Iniki in 1992, and shudder to think what would have happened if Lane had passed directly over the islands. 
Here on Oahu, we experienced steady rain and occasional strong gusts of wind on the east and central parts of the island, but the west side of the island, like the west side of Maui, encountered wildfires, wind, and very little rain -- not a good combination.

Thanks to wind shear, by the time Lane passed us by offshore, it was a tropical storm. There were still some landslides on the eastern side of the island, causing highway closures, but now, a week later, there's little indication that a violent storm recently made its way nearby. 

...reading a book that my daughter and one of my students recommended to me, Rainbow Rowell's Carry On
Though I haven't read Fangirl, from which the idea for this book derived, Carry On functions well as a stand-alone narrative. It reads like a satire of "chosen one" narratives and the Harry Potter series, as well as a comment on the HP fandom; fans who ship Harry and Draco will be thrilled by the developments in this novel.

Carry On is witty and fresh, and it moves forward engagingly. A sign that I really liked it is that even as I tore through it, I tried to "ration" my reading, allowing myself only so many chapters a night so that I could make the experience last longer. The ending left me feeling a little lukewarm, but apparently there is a sequel coming, so I'll hold out hope that ending wasn't really The End.

...watching season two of Trial and Error.  The first season was bizarre and silly in the best of ways, and the second season offers up just as much delightful inanity.

...developing a new obsession: dim sum.  I'm lucky that I work through the hours during which dim sum is typically served, because I'd be snarfing down scallop and shrimp dumplings and shrimp spring roll look fun on the daily.

I'm off to enjoy my Labor Day...maybe with some...dim sum...? :)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Catching Up

The past four weeks are a kind of a blur, due in large part to the usual annual back-to-school pandemonium and the state of near-constant exhaustion in which I find myself at the end of each day. I love the promise of a fresh start, but to make that possible takes more than the beginning of a new academic year. It takes organization and prioritization, two nouns that have no business meddling in my life during the summer, but that assume great urgency once summer ends.

One of the benefits to trying to get myself organized and stay that way (which rarely ever lasts) is that I have been de-cluttering my computer desktop, trying to give each errant file a folder to call home (so that new errant files can take their place in the months ahead). In the process, I discovered a bunch of Hip Kit Club layouts that I had intended to share here but never actually did. Whoops! 

This one was created with the June kits...

and these were created with the July kits...

I'm sort of in love with the new Pinkfresh Studio watercolors that were in the July color kit (used on the previous three layouts; the process behind "Red Dirt Summer" can be found on the Hip Kit Club blog). They're so easy to use, not to mention sort of obsessively fun

When finding what little I can of free time these days, I've been getting crafty with the Hip Kit Club August kits, which contain the charming new Crate Paper/Maggie Holmes collection.  Here's the first of my August layouts, which is based on this week's sketch challenge in the HKC Facebook group
This page makes me all kinds of happy, in that it depicts some of the favorite areas of my overgrown yard, a source of solace and of beauty that I am turning to more and more these days. It's also a source of frustration at times, I admit. 

In my yard, I am reminded of the illusion of control and am humbled by the realization that all I can do, really, is to nurture -- and even that is not always successful. I just try to help life along. Sometimes, though, when green leaves turn yellow, and I cannot coax them back to green again, I feel helpless. I feel loss, as when my dahlia shriveled up a few weeks ago and could not be revived, despite blooming profusely in early summer. One of my two crown flower plants remains; the other's leaves curled up, dried, and left nothing but a wilted stalk that I tugged out of the ground today with a sigh, finally giving up the fight. It's a mystery to me, why one plant thrives and another wilts. Am I responsible for that, or just an observer of what is only natural? 

Count on me to take something as seemingly mundane as gardening and turn it into an existential crisis.  :) 

Anyway...thank you, as always, for stopping by the blog -- and reading this far! 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Stash-Busting Challenge Update

Hey there! Apologies for the delay on announcing the winner of this summer's stash-busting challenge. When school begins each August, my keyboard at home gathers dust, while the one at school gets all of the attention. 

As promised, now that the challenge has come to a close, I've picked a winner for a giveaway (presumably to help undo all of the work this person did to make a dent in her stash during the course of the challenge). 

Congratulations to Sara Andrews! She completed all three layouts, plus two more for kicks! She had to stop because she ran out of paper in the kit that she had assembled.  Way to go all in, Sara!  

As for me, I still have some paper left, but I did make a pretty substantial dent in my kit.  Here's the last of my layouts: 

Thank you to everyone who played along! If you want to see some of the highlights, check out #stashbustingchallenge2018 on Instagram. 

Until next year! 

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Stash-Busting Challenge Ends Tomorrow!

After two months, this summer's stash-busting challenge is nearly at a close.  It went by so quickly -- too quickly! I'm scrambling to finish my third project. In the meantime, here's the second layout that I created with the kit that I assembled: 
While I bodily survived the false nuclear attack, the fallout is still real, and takes the form of overwhelming anxiety at times -- especially when the sirens are tested each month -- and when I watch interviews from those affected that day.  A few weeks ago, I saw a trailer for an upcoming documentary about the event and was fine for the first few moments, and then ended up crying and shaking through the rest. 

This layout shares my thoughts documented the day after the false alarm as well as my thoughts, months after the scare. The journaling is too extensive to fit on a single page, so I am tucking it into envelopes -- one from "that day" and the other from "today." 

I'm just relieved to finally have been able to get this down, even though I'm still not quite at peace. 

ANYWAY...the challenge ends tomorrow.  Be sure to direct me to your projects if I haven't yet seen them!  I am loving what I have seen so far. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Lately, I have been

...reading and reading and reading and it's been wonderful. Most recently, I finished this page-turner:
I've walked past it for years on bookstore shelves, but only recently took a second look and decided to give it a try.  Why did I wait so long? It was terrific! The good thing about the delayed discovery is that while I was biding my time, Bardugo was writing even more books. While I wait for the next two books to arrive (I couldn't find them locally for some reason), I am now reading the sequel to one of my favorite books, The Waking Land, by Callie Bates: 
Bates can write. I'm about a quarter of the way through with the book, and with each page that I turn, I'm increasingly anxious about reaching the moment when I run out of pages. 

...shifting from one extreme (an achromatic layout using the June Hip Kit Club main kit)
to another (all of the colors of the rainbow here!). 

...looking forward to using the new Pinkfresh Studio watercolors, three of which can be found in the July Hip Kit Club color kit
They are on my desk at the moment, calling to me to come play. The color is released through eye-droppers, and the paint can be further diluted or left in its intensely pigmented state. 

...crushing on Manish Dayal in The Hundred-Foot Journey. Given my love of food-related fiction and film, it's crazy that it took me several years to get around to watching this movie, but I'm glad I finally did. Seriously. Queer Eye's Bobby has inspired me to declutter big time, and it's been tedious and liberating. Today I filled about 1/5 of the donation pickup van with bags from my decluttering adventures, and there's even more to donate next time around. I'm learning to let go of items that I am keeping for "someday" or because "you never know when this will come in handy." Holding on to too much has been weighing me down and limiting my ability to move within the space that I inhabit. It's a freeing thing, to be able to say, "This goes," and then to send it on its way.  It's also made me think twice about what I welcome into the house in the future.

...listening to Manchester Orchestra's "A Black Mile to the Surface." It's one of the those rare albums that you can listen to from start to finish and not feel the urge to skip songs. 

...lagging behind with the ICAD challenge. Of course. It always happens. This year I was committed, though! I did so well until a slew of appointments occurred and then the whole cleaning frenzy began. Stress and exhaustion are full-on creativity blockers. These are the last three cards I made before sputtering out: 
Maybe next year will be my year. Ha! Just watch, I'll be all, "I'm going to DO THIS, really, this time! This is my YEAR!" And one summer, I really will get around to finishing two months' worth of cards. This summer, however, belonged to the dust bunnies and the MRI and ultrasound and mammogram machines and the AP workshop and the vet (and vet bills) and the ophthalmologist and the invasive vines in the yard and the paint rollers and the really good books I encountered. I still love you, ICAD -- it's not you, it's me.