Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wherein I expose the soft underbelly of failure

Every time I'm absent from here I come back and talk about how crazy and hectic things have been. Things haven't been crazy and hectic.  But I have 24 hours in the day, and none of them have involved scrapbooking for a long time and since that's the focus of this blog, I haven't written.  But ultimately, I scroll back through this blog and the snippets that aren't scrapbooking are the ones that I end up cherishing the most.

This fall has been interesting.  Working at the big T, and doing lots and lots of tutoring.  I love tutoring.  It keeps me sane, gives me purpose and hope, makes me feel like I'm giving a little back...and of course, Nissan Motors Acceptance Corporation just loves it when I make my payment on time, so there's that, too.  I love tutoring.  

And as much as I love tutoring, I've been strangely unmotivated to move on the teaching front. I have a hundred reasons why, but honestly, I don't know what's holding me back.  Unless it's the fear of failure.  

But a funny thing happened two weeks ago.  I got a phone call from the principal of a religious school in the area.  He was looking to replace a math teacher who was leaving at the Christmas break and he had gotten my name from the school where I did my education coursework.  Would I be interested?  Well, YES.  And then, "well...yes..."  You see, I had done some research and came to realize that the school was very urban in nature.  But I submitted a resume and wrote a cover letter and went for an interview.  The school was filled with students escaping the failing public schools in the area.  The students arrived in a state of behavioral and educational challenge.  They'd never been held accountable for homework.  They'd never been expected to sit quietly while the teacher spoke.  Many lacked the fundamentals.   Despite all of this, I found myself wanting something I had not wanted.

You see, if I were to tell the truth, I'd say that I want to teach honors students in public school.  I don't want to be in (the typical) private school setting, catering to children of the wealthy class.  They have so many advantages already, they don't get me and my passion for math, too.  But honors, because I want to share my passion and enthusiasm with students who want to be there.   The Ohio Department of Education (and many state education departments) have decided that students should have 4 years of math at the high school level, and I couldn't disagree more.  But they don't care what I think.  So classes are filled with students treading water - showing up and doing the bare minimum in a class that doesn't interest them and they don't see the value in.  I could write volumes on the subject, but the abbreviated version of my opinion is that students need to get to (and pass) Algebra II and should be allowed to go beyond that if they chose, but should not be forced.  Because honestly, no one is actually going to use properties of similar triangles to determine the height of a tree using the shadow length of the tree and a 6 foot man.  And the honors student won't do that in real life either, but they might actually think that it's cool that you can do that.  And they might want to take physics or engineering classes or just enjoy math for math's sake (like I do).  And I'd love to be there for them.

But I started thinking about these students whose only options were this school or the failing public schools that they were assigned to by geography and economy.  They deserved more than they were getting and I started thinking about The White Shadow, and Stand and Deliver and The Freedom Writers and teachers who made a difference and changed the course of children's lives because they were willing to be there and care enough to set limits, and expect, and persevere. 

And, honestly, I started thinking about how it was only 5 months, and if were too hard at least I'd have a great experience and a foot in the door.  I thought about not getting up at 2:45 in the morning (or 12:45 in the morning this month) and not being physically exhausted at the end of every work day. And weekends off. And Spring Break.  And a non-minimum wage paycheck.  And skirts. 

You see, there are never pat answers.  It was a combination of truly wanting to do good...and pure selfishness.  And I wanted it, but I was also afraid of it.  What if I stink?  What if I can't control a classroom full of students who know there's more of them than me? What if I can't teach the truly basic concepts that I would be asked to teach?  

So I wanted something that I was afraid of,  but maybe I didn't want it 100%.  And of course, it's not as though I pursued this.  They came to me.  So I was actively NOT working on becoming a teacher, but suddenly I wanted it.  There is a disconnect here and don't think I'm missing it.  

The long and short of it is: I was one of two people who made it to the final set of interviews and I did not get the position.  And I am saddened that I didn't get something that I didn't know I wanted, and yet sort of relieved because there were a million doubts about me, my abilities as a teacher, as a classroom manager, and as a person of God (because this is a religious school, and I don't know if my faith is the kind of faith that belongs in the front of the classroom in a religious school).  

And all of this would be a little easier to bear if I were operating on with sleep in my system.  But last night was a 3 hour kind of night and tonight will not be much better.  And instead of napping now, I'm trying to process the idea of being rejected from something that I wasn't even interested in 3 weeks ago.  

So today I will mourn the loss of something that didn't even exist last month and tonight I will sleep and tomorrow I will move on.  And maybe, after Christmas, I will think about becoming a teacher again.


Despite today's news and a profound exhaustion, I am filled with the Christmas spirit.  I hope that you are as well.

And to my Jewish readers: Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Scrap organization, 201! and a new blog partner

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego Caroline Davis?  Well, mostly  I'm (literally) working my buns off at the big red box.  But also, tutoring has taken off.  I was tutoring twice a week, and somehow this week I had 7 session booked.  Not enough to quit my day job, but enough to keep me hopping!  I truly enjoy tutoring (although nothing is without its bumps, right?), but I miss scrapbooking!

And I guess since I'm talking about tutoring, that's the perfect segue to mention my new blog partner.  I tutor through Wyzant.  Wyzant is a searchable database of qualified tutors for every subject under the sun, from Chinese to trumpet lessons.  It's different than finding a tutor through craigslist, because you have to actually pass tests in order to list subjects you want to tutor.  Not only that, many tutors (including myself) will go the extra step to have a background check done, which helps make meeting a stranger a little less scary.  You can also leave feedback and rate your tutor.  The more I work with them, the more I like the set up, the ease of use, the confidence with which you can arrange to get your child on track.  Because of that, I asked Wyzant if I could partner with them.  What that means is, if you need a tutor and you click through the ad on the top of the right side of the blog, I get a little piece of the pie.  Now, unlike the other ad on the page, which pays a couple of cents everytime you click, the Wyzant ad only pays if you actually need a tutor.  That said, if you need a tutor, I don't know of a better place to find one.

And if you are interested in becoming a tutor through Wyzant and have questions, I'd be happy to answer them.  I don't get any cut from recruiting new tutors, but so far it's been a great experience for me.

Topic 2:


As of today, my YouTube channel has 201 subscribers, which is pretty much blowing my mind.  I love making the videos, sharing my process and connecting with other scrapbookers, so this is just plain cool!

Topic 2a:

So in June of 2013 I wrote a post about how I organize my scraps.  I got some more questions about them and since I'm in video mode, I thought it might be easier to sort of show them in live action.  This is a short video - only a little over 6 minutes long.  Sadly, it's most of my hands.  Process videos are so much more engaging.  Oh well.

Okay, I'm having a super productive day, and it's off to make some chicken salad.  Yum!

Thanks for stopping by!

Edited to add:
I just got back from a tutoring session and my tutee gave me a pie.  So clicking through the Wyzant banner ad gets me a figurative piece of the pie, but tutoring gets me the WHOLE, LITERAL PIE. How cool is that??  :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hands, hovered over the keyboard...

waiting for the first line to come.  Alas, it does not.

So, maybe, instead, we'll just cut to the picture:

First, I have to say that this looks much better in real life.  The cardstock warped when I painted on the gold(ish) hexagons and the top left corner ends up looking dirty in the picture. :(  Wilna Furstenburg recently mentioned on the Paperclipping Roundtable that she uses watercolor paper because it's thicker than American Crafts cardstock and doesn't warp.  One of these days, I'm going to have to try some, because the warping gets on my nerves.  Although, here's the irony: it looks fine once I put it in the album, since the page protector is snug enough to keep it in check.  So the warping gets on my nerves because it doesn't photograph well...or show up on the blog well.  And since I am more likely to scroll through my blog than actually flip through my album, the warping bugs me. :P

And if you enjoy watching process videos, here's one for this layout:

And if you're not a process video watcher, I'll share some sad news from the video.  I think my Silhouette died this weekend. (insert, big crying frowny face, with big, fat tears of despair)  I tried cutting a word, and the software showed that it cut, but the machine didn't budge.  Thinking that maybe my cable was bad, I saved the design to an SD card and inserted it into the machine.  Normally you hit the pause button to enter the SD card menu but when I hit the pause button the menu would flash for a nano second and go back to the normal screen.  I'm simply beside myself that one of my most prized possessions has bit the dust.

I think that rather than sit here whining about it, I'm going to take advantage of the time difference between Ohio and Utah and call Silhouette's customer service and see if they can't talk me through the fix.  (IhopeIhopeIhopeIhope!)

Sorry I'm not more chatty.  Maybe next time.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Perfectly Clear

Just a quickie to say that the Perfectly Clear app that I chose as my pick of the week on this week's episode of the Paperclipping Roundtable is the FREE app of the day at the Amazon App store today (Thursday, September 25th).  So if you're an Android user, go getcha some...for FREE!

Perfectly Clear at the Amazon App Store

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rather Be...

Have you heard the song Rather Be by Clean Bandit?  It's one of my favorite songs at the moment.  It's not a ballad, but I do think it's a funky song that I might categorize (loosely) as a love song.  It's the inspiration for my latest scrapbook layout:

The really cool thing is, it's also part of a discussion that I had on the Paperclipping Roundtable podcast this week!  I was on with Noell and Izzy, and Wilna Furstenburg and May Flaum.  In the show we each deconstruct a recently made layout and talk about the process that went into it's making: inspiration, first steps, mistakes and recoveries, etc.  I'm always intrigued by how layouts come to life - how were the colors and papers decided upon? what are you thinking about the photo? which other scrapbook "artists" have inspired you? who makes those papers?  why did you do that thing in the corner??  Maybe it's because I scrapbook more for the fun of it than the actual memory keeping aspect, but I love finding out all that stuff.  So, if you're not a PRT listener (WHY AREN'T YOU A PRT LISTENER??) but you like process stuff, or me (☺) follow that link up there and have a listen.  And check out the layouts in the show post so you can see for yourself what we're each talking about.

And, if you have a care left to give, there's also a process video for the layout:

I could actually write more about the process, but it's been a loooong day and I can't quit yawning.  Must be bedtime!

Thank you for stopping by!  And hey, if you're here for the first time because of the Paperclipping Roundtable: WELCOME!  I'm really excited you're here!  Feel free to poke around.  There's a layout in nearly every post.  There's links to my Instagram (my name is Mathgrrrl there) as well as Pinterest and Twitter.  (Unless you're a Real Housewives junkie, the Twitter thing really isn't worth checking out.  Hey, we all have our guilty pleasures...I'm just dopey enough to tweet about mine. :P)

Monday, September 15, 2014

And the World's Slowest Scrapper Award goes to...

**drum roll please!**


I printed this pictures 9 days ago.  
8 days ago I cut the title and some embellishments.
7 days ago I set up my camera and gathered papers, embellishments and all the other *stuff* that I thought I'd need.  That was last Sunday night and I hoped that when I came home from work on Monday I'd have enough juice to play a little. 

I don't know what I was thinking, but I wasn't thinking "Hey, I tutor tomorrow after work."  Doh.  And you'd thinking "Tutoring. Whoopee do.  It's a whole hour."  True that.  But there's also showering involved, commuting, stopping at the grocery store afterward for dinner stuff...  It's exhausting. :P

So not Monday.
Or Tuesday.  
And Wednesday was another tutoring day.  Which means showering and all that stuff.  

(Please know that I shower every day.  Actually, twice a day on word days b/c I come a sweaty, gross mess.  I'm mostly just kidding about the showering, but it does seem to suck up a lot of my time these days.)

So Thursday I got up at 7 a.m. (showered) and then scrapbooked.  HALLELUJAH

And I made this:

Clearly, this is not a layout that should have taken so long, but alas...  I need more RockStar and less...I (just kidding)

If you're the kind of person who likes to watch another person scrapbook, then, boy, do I have a treat for you!

And because I said I have some detail shots, here they are:

This is Magic Scraps drizzled over Glossy Accents.  I think that maybe I was a little heavier-handed with the glue than I meant to be.  Note to self: you really need to wear your reading glasses when you do this stuff. :P

 If you ask an 11th grader what the quadratic equation, your answer is "?"  Most appropriate use of this embellishment.  It's just a picture of the windows in the school cafeteria, but...whatever. :P

It's a cement post in a parking lot, and someone had put a shiny red party hat on it.  Add some snow and a perfectly situated dark smudge and you get a exotic concrete bird.  

Okay, this was not an especially exciting post, but the men folk are itching to go grocery shopping.  Because there's food at the other end of that trip.

Catch you next time! Thank you for stopping by!

p.s. December's Instagram collage page is here and January's page can be seen here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Every New Beginning...

So this is (semi) new and exciting:

I went to the doctor for my first arm follow up in the beginning of August and asked him if I should be concerned that my left wrist hurts (especially when I go like "that") and he pressed, prodded, twisted and bent.  And sent me for an MRI.  Great. So last Thursday I had my MRI and today I went in for the results.  Turns out I have a "grade 2 sprain" (no surgery required, but torn ligaments) and a ganglion cyst that's just large enough and positioned in just the right way that it really hurts when I go like "this."  So, I'm splinted for the next two weeks all the time and the next month at work.  Because coworkers already think I'm a big baby...  Oh well.  Bigger ganglion cysts require surgery, but mine is small enough that he hopes immobilization and anti-inflammatory patches will bring it down and ease the pain.

That was some walk. :(

So, it's really weird typing with this thing on, so if you see odd typos...blame it on the splint. ;)

BUT, this is what I really wanted to share:

Maggie left for RIT last Saturday and the night before Kerig was generous enough to take us out to dinner.  (Thanks, Kerig! )  As we were headed out I had him take a picture of us together.  The next day I printed it out, and gathered a whole bunch of papers and embellishments, thinking I would scrapbook the next day.  Except I was tired, and frankly, a little too blue.  So the pile sat around for another week, and then I finally scrapped it.

And I even made a video:

And despite talking for 12 full minutes I still have stuff to say!  

  1. The title comes from a Semisonic song called "Closing Time."  I'm sure you've heard it, it starts "Closing time. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."  In it, there's a line that says "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."  Which is both optimistic and bittersweet at the same time.  And heaven knows, when it comes to Maggie heading back to school, I am nothing if not "optimistic and bittersweet."  As I look at the picture of the two of us, I'm so excited for her! She's getting her first new apartment, she's headed into her junior year and she's learning SO much!  I know that her future is so bright!  But I also know this: the summer has ended for her and she's going away.  I'll be lucky if she comes home for Thanksgiving for a couple of days and a couple of weeks at Christmastime.  Next summer she'll most likely have an internship.  While it makes me sad that she probably won't come home at all, these internships are a big part of RIT's draw - they get these kids in the doors of major companies, getting them exposure, practical experience and connections within the industry they're persuing.  Optimistic. Bittersweet.  Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.
  2. If you chose not to watch the video, you might assume that the layout has no journalling.  In fact, the entire back side of the layout talks about that stuff ^^, as well as all the stuff that Maggie accomplished this summer. 
  3. I'm not loving this layout.  The more I look at it, the less it bothers me, but it will never be a favorite  The big ampersand seems a little forced, and not in keeping with the way I usually do things.  It makes me a little uncomfortable, even.  And I really hate the way the title looks.  I love the idea of the title.  A lot.  But the actual execution leaves a lot to be desired.  I think I have a strong preference for titles that are cut from cardstock.  And the word "beginning" is just ridiculously long.  In order for it to be the right width, it ends up being shorter than I'd like.  I wanted to emphasize the word "beginning" but it just sort of ends up being blah and even a little hard to read.  
I wonder if anyone else feels this way: The more special the photo, the harder it is to do it justice in making the layout.  I just had higher hopes for this photo.  I think that just means that I need to hunt down a great square frame, so I can put this photo on display in my home.  

And send her a copy, too, so she doesn't forget her dear ol' mom.

I promise this wasn't all some schemed up pitch to lead into this, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I'm trying to raise money to buy her a computer that can handle the software she needs.  I've had a doozy of a summer, and you can read more about why I'm humbly asking for your help at my GoFundMe page.

As always, thanks for stopping by! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Process Video Set Up

Today I made a layout and video taped it.  I'll edit the video later - tomorrow and Tuesday as time permits.  But while I had everything set up I thought I'd snap a few pictures of my set up.

I've been watching process videos for better than a year now, I think they're fun and I gain so much from watching them.  Sometimes I'm inspired by the actual layout, but sometimes I see better ways of doing things, or organizing, or I get a glimpse into the decision process that goes into another's layout.  It made me want to share, too!  But I couldn't figure out the logistics, and there's very little information out there.  I was plagued with questions.

  • How do you get the camera perfectly parallel to the work surface?
  • Can you video tape upside down and flip the video right side up?
  • How do you deal with the lighting?
  • How do you add narration?
I have a feeling that a vast majority of process-video-makers use a tripod.  And I have a tripod, and it even has "shoulder" and "arm" that allow me to shoot straight down.  Perfect for shooting parallel to the work surface, only the thing weights a ton.  And while that's obviously an exaggeration, it is far too heavy for my work surface.  

Kerig has seen me watch these videos for a while now, and when I mentioned that I'd make them, too, if I could figure out the tripod issue, he started brainstorming about ways to get the job done. Cheap.   Free.  (This discussion took place when I was out of work with my broken arm. There was no way I could justify spending money on this.)  We talked for a while and we realized that we had the answer all along:

This is called a copy stand, and in the pre-digital dinosaur days, before all-in-one printers that cost less than a decent pair of shoes, if you wanted something copied, you had it photocopied.  Like, an actual photo.  A copy stand was used, it has marking on the platform to line up your artwork or documents, and then there's the post and arm.  There are two cranks that let you raise on lower the camera, and slide it along the arm to position the camera closer-to or further-from the post.  In its traditional set up, that arm would extend over the platform.

And that's how it was set up in my original process videos, but as you can see, the platform is an inch or so off the table.  The platform is plenty big enough for the actual layout, but it made it awkward to use the trimmer and set things down around the layout.  I asked Kerig if we could take the arm off and mount it backwards so I could just use my regular mat instead of the platform.  Turns out, you can!  

This isn't where I usually scrapbook (my usual desk is talked about here.) so when I get prepared to do one of these videos I try to anticipate everything I'll need.  Much of that gets piled on the platform so it's closer.  Handy, eh?

In the upper left hand photo, you can see the self healing mat that I use.  I used some yellow washi tape to mark off a square to corral my layout in.  I found out after the first video was done that I didn't know how easy it was to work out of frame.  With the tape down, I have a reminder that if I'm not working in the box, no one is seeing what I'm doing.  Has that been a magic cure all?  No! But I feel like I'm getting better. :)

I sold cameras for 12 years, and I know a little bit about photography, but what I know about video you can fit in a thimble. With room left over for a goldfish.  One of the things that I do know, though, is that you can't get your camera to close focus  if you've got the lens zoomed out at all.  Of course, knowing something and remembering it are two different things. It took me until the third video to realize it and lower the camera on the post instead of relying on the zoom to get it framed up the way I wanted.  

So that's my set up.  Copy stands can be found at B&H and Adorama new, and ebay both new and used.  I'd look on craigslist, and even put up an ISO post - a lot of old school photographers had them, and wouldn't necessarily think to list them.  

As for my other big concerns:

Can you flip the video? Yes, absolutely!  I'm just using Windows Live Movie Maker, and it came on my computer, but I'll bet it can be downloaded for free if you don't have it.  The program is pretty easy to figure out and once the clip is loaded into the software you can easy rotate it 90, 180, or 270 degrees.  It also easily allows you to speed up the video to 2,4, 8 times the speed and even allows you to slow it down.  If played back at regular speed, the sound ambient sound when you work is heard (so you can narrate while you work...or else it's going to pick up the t.v. and all the conversations happening.).  If you speed it up, no sound plays at all.

How do you add narration?  I use "Sound Recorder" which also came with my computer.  I had no idea what program I had, so I used the search box in the start menu and searched on "record" and it came up.  Once the video is all flipped and sped up I watch it once or twice so I know how it's going to go.  I have a Turtle Beach headset, the kind gamers use. (I'm not a gamer though... I needed them for online classes)  I start my recording software and then quickly start the video and record my narration.  I don't care about sound or noise when I'm making the video, but I'll set the furnace so I know it won't go on and turn off any fans and other noise makers.  And honestly, I don't usually get it where I want it to be the first time around.  Once I'm happy with the narration, I save it somewhere where I can find it, and in Windows Live Movie Maker I click "add music".  It prompts me to find the music I want to use, so I just find the narration I just saved.  

What about lighting? I don't really have any sage words of wisdom for this one.  My table is very tall, and there's a nearby ceiling fan with 3 60 watt bulbs and it seems to provide plenty of light, and my camera seems to do a great job of adjusting its white balance.  When I first turn the camera on, there's a yellow cast, but within a second or two it adjusts and my white is white. (yay!)   

So that's my set up!  By far the biggest hurdle was getting the camera mounted, and after that was solved, everything fell into place.  I am NOT an expert! Heck, I've only got 4 videos up.  But like I said, I had a hard time getting any answers, so I thought I'd share what I'd figured out so far.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  What I can answer, I will!  

Also: GoFundMe  ☺

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 22, 2014

An Update...

Hello friends of all kinds!  Happy to see you again!  I just wanted to do a quick update on the state of my GoFundMe campaign.  Things have been hectic around here lately.  Maggie left for school last Saturday, so of course there was a whirlwind of activity surrounding that.  I'm back to work full time and Kerig just went back to work at St. B's, serving and protecting a great group of kids.  So it feels like the campaign took a backseat.  But things are settling in finally and it needs a shot in the arm.

Firstly, there's been some behind-the-scenes work going on!  Today I was able to lower the goal to $1000!  Kerig generously gave me a lens to sell to put towards the fund.  Yay Kerig! So that gave a big boost!  I did a senior portrait session and put that towards my goal as well.  And I just got a twice a week tutoring job, so I'm putting that money towards this as well.  So we're rolling right along!

But we're still (as of today) $800 shy of where I'm hoping to be.

The Linkie Level
So I've added a reward level.  Now, not to brag, but this little blog does get a decent amount of traffic.  I mean, you're here, right? ;)  So that's one...  But seriously, in the last year I'm averaging about 2000 unique page views a month, and with the addition of process videos being posted, that seems to be on the rise. So I've decided to leverage that viewership towards my goal.  I'm not CathyZ or AliE, sure, and I'm not even sure how well blog advertising works, BUT:

For a one-time donation of $50 to my GoFundMe campaign  I will put up a Linkie on the sidebar of my blog and leave it there until December 31, 2015.  2015 - that's SIXTEEN months of link-back for a donation to what I think is a really excellent cause.  

Think about it.  Every time someone clicks thru from Pintrest to look at a Valentine project, an organizational idea, layout or even the occasional recipe, your Linkie will be right there.  Until the goal is reached the GoFundMe will be at the top, with the Linkies just under that.  Once the goal is reached the Linkies will be at the very top.  I don't anticipate dozens of $50 donations (although I do think that $50 for 16 months is a pretty sweet deal) but in the interest of fairness, any donations greater than $50 will be at the top.

My blog has never been a business for me, and as such I'm sure there are questions that I haven't thought of and kinks that might need to be worked out.  You can ask me in the comments or feel free to email me at cnd3167atyahoo.

And no post is ever complete without some kind of image.

charcoal piece by Maggie Davis
Maggie is now studying Industrial Design at RIT, so she's not doing the same kind of straight-up art that she did in high school.  (and I love her decision to stay with something that she loves, but having the sense to tweak it into something that she'll be able to support herself with...yay, for practicality!)  But in high school there was lots and lots of drawing.  She often gravitated to images of strong females.

This one is of my grandmother, from a photo taken in the 1930's.  And she was one strong woman.  She worked as a nurse, owned a farmette (and could therefore milk a cow and kill a chicken...and then fry it up in a pan), she was a mother of six, ran a boarding house during the depression, and in her retirement drove from Baltimore to San Francisco 3 times all by herself!

Maggie did a fantastic job of making an old, small, cracked and faded snapshot into a gorgeous piece of art that really captures the essence of who Grace Noble was.

Please consider a donation (of any size) to the GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a new computer and software to help Maggie take her skills to the next level.  Your generosity will help form another generation of strong women.

Monday, August 11, 2014

He ain't heavy...

Well, I just finished my first full week of work since the break, and I'm plum tuckered out!  But as it turns out, I can veg out, put my arm on ice and edit a process video.

...and drink a beer.  It's not really Saturday night if there's not a beer. ;)

I issued a challenge on the Paperclipping forums to be inspired by a song.  I may well be the only person who does it, but that's okay.  I like challenges.  I like a deadline and some parameters, so even if ends up just being a personal challenge, that's okay.

I took a picture of Ted and his (future, I suppose) step-brother last week.  It was picture day for the football team, and the parents were invited to take pictures on the field after the team picture was finished.  While I was thinking about where to position Ted, Ricky came out of no where and jumped into Ted's arms.  I managed to snap a coupe of pictures of the two of them before Ted put him down.

There's a process video here, if you're interest in the whole, big story.

The word "brother" is from the Silhouette store. "Heavy" is done in impact, and the grey letter stickers are from Kelly Purkey at

There was a fair amount of journaling for this picture, which is printed at 4x4.  The title is pretty big and longer that I usually do, which really limited my space.  So I used the Silhouette software to create print-and-cuts - my journaling (the print part) on tags (the cut part).  Normally I go the lazy route, where I cut tags, journal in Word and then try to tape the tag (or other shape) to a sheet of printer paper and hope it prints in the right place.  Oddly, the "lazy way" is probably a lot harder than doing it the print-n-cut way.

So that's pretty much that for the layout.  There's LOTS more that I ramble about in the video, but I've already been sort of redundant...


I wanted to prod you one more time to take a look at the "No Scrapbook Police" blog series that recently wrapped up.  The last post was made by our hostess, Cara Vincens.   Her beautiful post debunks the myth of being caught up.  Is there such a thing?  Not really, but she's got some good quotes to support her thoughts...AND a really cute baby.  Seriously, it's worth looking just for the little boy named Cederic.  So adorable.

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And lastly:

(circa 2008)

She hates this picture.  But hello?  Those braids?  Love.

Please check out the GoFundMe site and consider a small donation.  Or a big one.  I'm okay with either. ;)

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope you're enjoying your summer!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Set it free, baby!

Hello scrappy friends!  Today is my BIG DAY in this amazing blog series:

I started scrapbooking in 1998 and back in the old days, the scrapbook police were pretty heavy handed.  Rules were everywhere and while no wrists were ever actually slapped, the threat was palpable.   

Things have definitely calmed down, but there still an underlying sense of “shoulds” that exist.  And they’re good guidelines, I suppose, but I’m here to say: This is a hobby, and you SHOULD do what makes you happy.  For me, that’s the only hard and fast “should” to live by.

Like so many of us, I got started when I had young children.  I had shoeboxes of photos and 2 children with a third on the way.  I saw a friend’s scrapbook and knew instantly that I wanted in!  I followed the rules vigilantly for a long time.  Everything was acid free.  I’m not even sure I know what lignin is anymore, but I know there isn’t any of that bad stuff in my earliest albums! I set out to record our history and document their every stage in their growing up years.

But something happened along the way: I started scrapping more for me than for them.

HUH?  Yup. I now scrapbook for me.  Because somewhere along the way I decided that I really enjoyed the process of scrapbooking.  I felt it was my responsibility to document those formative years, those things that they might forget otherwise.  But they’re older now.  Capable of keeping a journal, a blog, or *gasp* their very own scrapbooks.  Now that they’re older, I feel free to  do things differently:

I scrapbook the stories that I want to tell, and I don’t feel obligated to document every occasion.  For example: I rarely even take pictures on Christmas morning.  The scrapbooker in me says that I should, but I’d rather live that time uninterrupted. 

We're off to a great start, right?
Bear with gets better.

 I embrace my sense of humor, and while I try to keep it PG-13 (ish), I don’t edit myself too much. I want my personality to show, more than I want the world to think I’m perfect.

Sometimes I scrapbook the cruddy things in life. I don’t scrapbook every cruddy thing, mind you, but if I feel like I want or need to, I don’t shy away from it.  That said, I don’t always display these layouts.  More often than not, these layouts get slid between others in the page protectors.  For me, the creation of the layout is therapeutic, but I don’t necessarily want to revisit it.  Of course, not all cruddy things are so serious that you can’t have a little fun with it:

I use the products that *I* want to use.  There are some trends that I can’t wait to jump into, and others I’m happy to wave at as they pass by.    Also, if a page about my Mr. ends up with a little pink on it, well, so be it.

 I scrapbook about me, and I do so unapologetically.  Guess what? I matter, too!  And if there’s one thing I hope everyone reading takes away, it’s this point: YOU belong in your albums, too.  (Feel free to check out the explanation on this layout to get the full version of this philosophy)  If you’re used to scrapbooking about your family, this may feel awkward at first, but you probably wouldn’t hesitate to make a page about your children or your spouse…so why not you??

And if you're uncomfortable with this, think of it as gift to those you leave behind.  Image the period after you go, and your children or spouse or friends or siblings going through your albums.  Imagine how much those layouts about you will mean to them.  All those people you love and scrapbook about?? They love you, too.  

So that's my thinking.  I'd be lying if I said I don't take my family into consideration when I scrap.  I do.  But I do it for me.  This isn't a burden, it's a hobby, my therapy, my happy place.

Want some more scrapbook liberation??  Be sure to visit the other stops on the "Set Your Scrapbooking Free" express!

August 4 - Paige Evans
A Scrapbooking page SHOULD always have a story and lots of journaling

August 5 - Ashli Oliver
Scrapbook pages SHOULD be fast and simple to just get them done
August 6 - Jen Gallacher
Scrapbook pages SHOULD look perfect
August 7 - Melissa Shanhun
Digital scrapbook pages should look as much like a paper page as possible 
August 8 - Ashley Calder
Scrapbooking SHOULD be done *this* way  
August 9 - Caroline Davis
A Scrapbooker SHOULD scrapbook FOR her family
August 10 - Lisa Harris
Scrapbooking SHOULD be a legacy for the scrapbooker's family
August 11 - Connie Hanks
A scrapbooker SHOULD follow the trends and be aware of what others think of her pages
A Scrapbooker SHOULD scrapbook chronologically
August 13 - Nancy Gaines
Scrapbooking SHOULD be 12x12 traditional paper pages
August 14 - Cara Vincens
A scrapbooker SHOULD always be caught up

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You know what those hearts mean.  Time to talk about my daughter again! 

This is Maggie, her younger sister Molly and I after Maggie's graduation in 2012.  She's getting ready to head into her junior year at RIT (the Rochester Institute of Technology) where she's pursuing a BFA in industrial design.  

Maggie is laser focused on her goals.  She earned a $25,000 annual scholarship, has student loans and a grant to cover the massive $45,000 tuition.  She earned straight A's last year and worked two jobs on campus.  This summer she's been working full time to earn money to cover her gas and food.  She found an apartment off campus with some roommates to shave $3000 off the costs.  

But there's one tiny detail.  Maggie needs a new computer.  The work that she does is all on the Adobe Creative Suite - InDesign, Illustrator, PhotoShop, etc.  The computer she has now chokes on Word, let alone even PhotoShop Elements.  And here's the hitch: Mom (me) has had a rough year financially.  I'll let you poke around the blog for the story, it's all there.  And unfortunately I just can't make a new computer happen for her.  

So I'm asking you to consider donating a couple dollars to a GoFundMe account that I set up.  Under better circumstances, I wouldn't dream of asking for help.  But I am not in better circumstances.  And I hate that my situation might affect any of my children, much less the one who's at that critical moment in her life.  It's this education and her passion that will prevent her from ever being where I am now.    

"Many hands make light work."  (John Heywood)

Please consider.

Thank you!

And thank you for stopping by!  I hope you'll visit again soon, and feel free to check out my newly created YouTube channel.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Seeing Red

I went back to the doctor this week and my lift restrictions were modified.  I still have to be very careful, I can't life for hours on end, and I can't lift anything very heavy, but I can lift.  I took my doctor's note into work, a little scared that I'd be turned away until I got the all clear.  Turns out my boss was very happy to see me and was super accommodating.  He got me all set up and I actually had my first day back the next day.

I was so happy and relieved.  After I talked to my boss I had to talk to the HR lady.  On the walk from A to B I actually started to tear up.  It's been a financially scary summer, and we're not out of the woods, but it feels better to be here rather than there.  Ya know??

So happy and relieved, in fact, that when I got home I set to working on a layout.  I only got the pictures printed and a title cut, but the ball was rolling.  The title - Seeing Red - usually refers to being angry.  This time, I mean it literally.  If you work at Target, you see red.  All. Day. Long.  :)

I like the way it turned out.  It's not frilly, but then again, neither is unloading trucks at Target.

Edited to add: If you like process videos, the video for this layout is up on YouTube.  

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Are you following along with the "Set Scrapbooking Free" series?  If not, you really should.  Today's stop is at Ashley Calder's place.  She's debunking the myth that there's a certain right way to scrapbook.  That can't be true, can it??  Go check out what Ashley has to say to be sure. ;)

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Do you listen to NPR?  I do!  I love RadioLab, Market Place, This American Life, Queue with ...oh heck, I'm not even going to try to spell that guys name!, as well as some of our local shows that keep in me in touch with all of Cleveland's and Ohio's concerns. 

Twice a year they ask me for money.  I like the content of the station, so when I can give, I do.  I've given as little as $10.  It's what I had, and it helped get them to their goal. 

I will not come to you twice a year like clockwork.
I cannot offer you a handcrank radio, or a mug, or a tote.
There is no 800 number for you to call.
There are no operators standing by.

But I am asking.  Please consider visiting the GoFundMe page and donating a little something to help a smart, driven, hard working girl get the one back to school item that's way out of mom's league. 

If you like the content here...
If you've got a soft spot for education...
If you there's a little bit of Girl Power in you...
If your own kids have past the back-to-school phase...

Please consider.

Okay then!  Happy Friday thank you so much for stopping by! 


p.s.  That blog series??  I may be up stop by again soon. ;)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Back to School

We still have about a week and a half before everyone in our clan heads back to their respective schools.  It's going to be awfully quiet around here when that happens!  But the buzz is in the air.  You know how that goes...  So when I flipped through my album this morning, this seemed like an appropriate layout to share:

I've been walking down memory lane - in a scrapbooking industry kinda way - a lot lately.  Even though it doesn't really affect me, I think the Studio Calico/Big Picture merger, especially on the heals of 2Peas closing has probably been a big reason.  Then on last week's episode of the Roundtable there were a whole lot of bygone products and companies (and a font!) that were mentioned.

This layout is from either late 2000 or early 2001.  Does anyone remember the company Keeping Memories Alive?  They had tons of tone on tone prints, and I had made a huge order of their paper.  That's all their patterned paper here.  Yes, matching blue, green, yellow AND red.  All m'bases covered!  Usually I don't like primary colors all grouped together, but there's something about the quaintness of that paper that makes it forgivable. :P  Does anyone recognize the letter stickers in the subtitle?  I had to re-adhere 5 letters before taking the picture.  Oops.

The other thing from this layout that makes me all nostalgic is the letter templates for the title.  They were from Pebbles in my Pocket.  And I *loved* Pebbles in my Pocket.  I credit them for helping me find my style.  They had a magazine that made Creating Keepsake look like...blech.  At the time, CK was still showing pages with sticker sneeze on white backgrounds with silhouetted photos.  Meanwhile, Pebbles in my Pocket was showing pages on black backgrounds (*gasp*!!) with full square photos and fun, colorful titles cut from their templates. It seemed somehow very sophisticated in comparison, but still very fun. They made and sold the templates and had their own cardstock that was - in its time - luxurious: thick, rich, beautiful...everything you want in a ... cardstock.  ;)

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Hey!  Are you a digital scrapbooker, or thinking about going that route?  Then you should take a trip over to Melissa Shanhun's blog.  She's debunking the myth that digital scrapbook pages should be made to look like traditional scrapbook pages.  She's got some amazing techniques to share!  Good stuff!

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Do you listen to NPR?  I do!  I love RadioLab, Market Place, This American Life, Queue with ...oh heck, I'm not even going to try to spell that guys name!, as well as some of our local shows that keep in me in touch with all of Cleveland's and Ohio's concerns.

Twice a year they ask me for money.  I like the content of the station, so when I can give, I do.  I've given as little as $10.  It's what I had, and it helped get them to their goal.

I will not come to you twice a year like clockwork.
I cannot offer you a handcrank radio, or a mug, or a tote.
There is no 800 number for you to call.
There are no operators standing by.

But I am asking.  Please consider visiting the GoFundMe page and donating a little something to help a smart, driven, hard working girl get the one back to school item that's way out of mom's league.

If you like the content here...
If you've got a soft spot for education...
If you there's a little bit of Girl Power in you...
If your own kids have past the back-to-school phase...

Please consider.

Thank you for stopping by this Thursday!  And seriously - do you remember KMA?  What manufacturer to you miss most?  Let me know, I'd love to read your comments! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's a party up in here!

Okay, not really, but I've got tons to share today!

First, we've begun our journey to rid the world of scrapbook police! First stop: Paige Evans!  Go here. Now. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just go.

That was a risky move on my part.  Because that layout is GORGEOUS and there's a huge chance that you'll get sucked into her black hole of creativity, never to return.  Seriously, the page she shares is amazing and inspiring.  And so is the message.

As I write, there is a SECOND (holy cow!) process video uploading to YouTube!  Yay!  Did you subscribe to my channel?  22 of you have, and that's about 21 more than I expected!  Anyway, if you haven't, you should!  ;)

Here's a look at the layout that's going up:

The video is about 13 minutes long.  Grab a beer or coffee (time of day dependent...I suppose. :P)  and give it a watch.

And lastly, I have a (VERY) humble plea.  My oldest daughter is heading back to school in a couple of weeks and is in dire need of new computer.  She is working her tail off this summer to earn the money to cover her living expenses - her food, gas, utilities for the year.  She works two jobs on campus.  She brought home straight A's this year.  In short, she's pretty amazing.  Her mother, on the other hand, is a bit of a deadbeat.  No! I'm just kidding!  I've been going to school for the last four years to get certified to teach high school math.  In January I quit my full time job to do my student teaching.  When my student teaching ended, I got two part time jobs and things were tight, but we were scrapping by.  Then I fell and broke my arm and I've been out of work for going on 4 weeks.  Most of my savings went toward covering my living expenses while I did my student teaching.  The rest is dwindling fast while I have no income.  Meanwhile, we're ramping up to back to school and I know she needs that computer.  Torn about how to help her, I decided to see if I could raise some money by starting a GoFundMe campaign.  This is not how I'd prefer to do things, but I'll happily swallow my pride if it means I can help my daughter.  I've been divorced for 8 years now, and I still find myself scrambling.  My biggest wish for her is that she never finds herself in this position. Her education (and this computer) will ensure that she never does.

Please consider making a donation....even a little one.  $5 or $ all adds up.

You have have my gratitude for even thinking about it.  And if you decide that you'd like to help, or if you'd like to read more about why this computer is important to her, more information can be found here: Maggie's GoFundMe.

And just because you need to know who you'd be helping:

Maggie is the big eye'd kid in the middle.  Eating cotton candy.  (circa 2011)

THANK YOU for stopping by!  I hope you checked out the video and enjoyed it!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What? There's NO Scrapbook Police?


Just a quickie today!  Tomorrow starts a really cool 11 day journey into rediscovering the FUN side of scrapbooking.  We're going to debunk all the myths about scrapbooking.  You know all those things you SHOULD do?

Turns out, a lot of them are actually optional.

For more info, check out Cara Vincens's blog: C'est la Vie (ours anyway).  She's the mastermind behind all this liberation.  Plus her blog is amazing - a really unique format that's really worth a look-see!

More tomorrow!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I made a process video!

I love watching process videos.  If you're not a die hard scrapbooker, you may not be familiar with the term - it refers to videos wherein a scrapbooker records herself scrapbooking.  Usually the video is sped up and narrated, and the creator talks about her mindset, products and techniques used.  I love seeing how other people work and hearing the thought process behind decisions.  I'm always inspired and I frequently learn new things.

Needless to say, I've wanted to make one for a long time.  Oh, to be a cool kid!  But there's a lot of stuff to figure out.  How do you mount a camera? How the hey how you edit videos? Or add the narration??  It was all overwhelming, so I didn't do it.  Until I said something to Kerig, who became a dog with a bone until we ironed out enough details to at least make me try it.

Here's the layout that I made:

And here's the link to the video: Holla for Challah

Some notes:

I used SketchBook Pro - an app on my Kindle - to write the word Challah.  I then saved it as a .jpg file, imported it into the Silhouette software, traced it, did a little offset to fatten it up for easier cutting and cut it out.  I'm tickled with how it turned out.

I used Bebas Neue for the word "HOLLA" - and it's cut from Amy Tangerine's Plus One paper "Counterpart" I mention the My Mind's Eye alpha stickers - I used it for the word "for" but I failed to turn my camera back on, and it's also where I got the "Amazed by you" and "in love" stickers.

Okay, that's about it! Go watch the video! :D

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Three Wishes

Looking through my old layouts has really helped me understand why the Silhouette was destined to be my best mechanical friend:

This layout is from 2003 and looks like it's been through the ringer.  But that title...  Even back in the day, the title was the thing for me.  If I was feeling lazy, I'd print something out on the computer, but most of the time I'd find an appropriate font, get it sized the way I wanted and print a mirrored version on the back side of my cardstock and cut it out with an Exact-o knife and micro-tip scissors.

Molly just turned 14 and I just shared the layout about her making her cake, so this seemed appropriate to go along with that.  She was such a beautiful little girl.  Blond hair, chubby cheeks, big brown eyes...  And dear lord, was she feisty!  Well, some things haven't changed.

I'm going to put the journaling here because it's really hard to read, even on the layout itself.  At least this way if it continues to fade I'll have a record of it.

Three wishes, one for each candle on your cake.  Health: I want you to be strong and healthy, both physically and healthy, exercise, get lots of rest.  Be confident in who you are. Trust your judgement. Know who to trust in life (hint: Mom and Dad! We always have your best interest at heart!) Happiness: I want you to know joy on a daily basis.  Some days will be hard, but even in the toughest times there is pleasure if you remember to open your eyes and heart to let it in.  Laughter: Let humor be your safety net. Take yourself seriously, always try to be the best you can be, but don't forget to laugh often.  Find humor in everything you can, including yourself! If you can manage to laugh , health and happiness won't ever be far off!

Thanks for stopping by!  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Taste the Rainbow

Molly turned 14 earlier this month.  Specifically, five days after I broke my arm. Lucky her.  (#sarcasm) She'll just have to wait to get beat at putt-putt golf.

Instead, we had a DIY b-day celebration.  I picked up some Duff's Tie-Dye Cake Mix from Target and crossed my fingers that little Miss Moody, er, wow, did I say that outloud?? Yikes. I crossed my fingers that little Miss Molly would find the idea of making her own cake acceptable.  Luckily, she did.  Plus, her sister Maggie hung around to help (thank goodness...I was in my very helpless days back then).  But Maggie's presence always helps Molly's mood.  (I feel like that's one m-word away from being a killer tongue-twister)

They set to work in the kitchen, I curled up on the sofa with an ice pack and Kerig took over photographer duties.  God bless him, because if there's food being made, he's there to document the shit out of that occasion!

The cake prep involved no less than 12 small bowls for tinted cake mix, 200 hand strokes of the batter, and 13 readings of the directions.  I was bracing for a hot mess and had to remind myself that even brown Easter eggs make tasty egg salad.  And let's face it: chocolate cake is brown, and no one has a beef with that, right?

Guess who was wrong?

The cake actually turned out very cool looking!  There was probably 4 times as much frosting on there than I would have preferred, but it was apparently necessary for the overall design aesthetic.  Or something like that.

I wanted the layout to convey the same joyful exuberance that the cake did - lots of colors and sprinkles everywhere.  Had I thought about it at the time, actual sugar might have been used.

I used tons of Bella Blvd papers from their Scattered Sprinkles, Summer Squeeze and Classic Calendars line.  The font for "rainbow" is called Blackout and I've gotten a lot of use out of it.  (See: here  & here)  The font comes the way you see here - with the blocks already cut out around the letters.  I've used the letters themselves as well as the negative space frame, like here.  I love it.  I used my old standby SNF Lollihop  for the word taste.  Truth be told, I don't love it here.  The word taste should be - well, I don't want to say smaller...I think I want to say "less bold".  It's just so visually large, but honestly, I did the title towards the end and I was just plain and simple running out of steam at that point. I did cut it out with a rainbow of cardstock colors for underneath, but you had to be viewing at just the right angle and have perfect close up vision to see it.  Lord knows, that detail is lost to me, but my daughter swears she can see it.  Either way, the word is too big, but I give myself a sold B for the effort.

I also used a very old Heidi Swapp mask and some new(ish) Heidi Swapp color shine sprays to break up the starkness of the plain white background.  I was on the fence about how it came out, but on the finish page, the actual design gets lost (probably a good thing) and you're just left with some blobs of color...and that's okay.

This layout has EIGHT photos on it.  Holy cow.  That's a lot.  And I haven't done a two page spread in years and years.  it was weird, trying to remember how to work all of this.  But I like so many of the photos and I had a hard enough time working it down to just these few, so I'm really glad I came up with a way to squeeze them all on.

Thanks for stopping by!