nothing glitter can't fix

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i needed last week's little scream-into-the-void and a couple of quiet, disconnected days. it was henry's conference meet weekend, so i was glad for the distraction. even though i couldn't be there (which friggin' KILLED me ... i can practically count on one hand the number of swim meets i've missed in 10 years), it was nice to be able to watch the livestream and cheer him on that way.

pro: no swamp ass from sitting in a hot aquatic center for three days. con: no hugs for or from my boy. i still yelled at the screen and cheered, while marc looked at like i was insane.

whatever, dude.

what i also missed, though: apparently he led the pep talk on at least one of the days.

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as a junior, he's a captain, and absolutely loves his role as leader, supporter, and cheerleader. in fact, we spoke the other day about his summer plans, and he told us he is talking to his coach about working with the local team this summer. then he mentioned he is considering taking his fifth year of eligibility (thank you to the ncaa for giving these kids another shot at a year to replace the one messed up by covid) to start his masters, which we had suggested but he kind of blew us off, UNTIL he talked to his coach about what it would take to coach at the collegiate level after graduation, and his coach highly recommended a masters. (even if a masters isn't needed, thank you, doug! because if he doesn't coach, or coaching doesn't last forever, he WILL need that masters in political science to do anything in that field.)

not to bury the lede, but that means he's decided to turn his passion for swimming into a career.

i'm so excited for him. while he loves competing, i think he loves the sport and the teams and the teaching and supporting even more.

so proud of him.

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today has felt a bit more normal. i'm trying to stay away from news ... it just enrages me daily and makes me feel so powerless. instead, i decided to tackle a project i've had staring me in the face - literally: it's been sitting on my desk - for two years.

i found these sweet, laser-cut wood ornaments at world market, and bought them with the intention of covering them in glitter. i am a sucker for any ornament on the christmas tree twinkling with glitter. my one girly quirk. somehow, having them on my desk, right next to my address book, just to the left of my computer monitor for two years didn't ever give me that push to bedazzle them. but today was the day.

 

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the cutest, right? who knew therapy could be as simple as white glitter?


that thing i (used to) do

in 2001, a friend introduced me to the world of scrapbooking. i had a one-year-old baby boy and no baby book, because my tastes were picky and my family tree asymmetrical. creating scrapbooks felt like a nice way to commemorate his milestones and hang on to our stories while fulfilling my need to have it look the way i wanted it to look.

over the next few years, i honed my style, taught myself photography, and soon had spots on a couple of online scrap website design teams. by 2007, i had done work for a few manufacturers, had pieces published, and then i won a spot on the memory makers magazine masters - their top 10 designers for the year, who created for the magazine every month and represented it at trade shows and in idea books.

it was a dream. i made wonderful friends, got to be creative, had an outlet, and had a "job" for the first time since leaving my career in publishing when henry was born.

through memory makers, i got a book deal, spent a year as a contributing editor ... and then the industry shrank, seemingly overnight.

it still exists in small and new ways, but i'm no longer a part of it. that time is over.

occasionally, i'll pull out stuff and play around, but it's no longer a part of my daily life as it used to be. for the last several years, i get things done only when i go on crafting weekends with friends, but covid has gotten in the way of that over the past year.

as i was cleaning my office a few weeks ago, i found a plastic bin of supplies that never got put after my last weekend with the girls. as i was going through it, i found page protectors at the bottom with things i had created. just looking at them and touching them makes me want to cast off my to do list for the rest of the week day to just create and play and re-immerse myself in that world.

i'm reminded that i NEED creativity. i NEED to get these stories and thoughts written down. and i NEED time to do my own thing, just for me.

as we all do.

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omg i made a scrapbook

okay - now, before you get all excited, it's a scrapbook, but not in the "i used papers and embellishments and artistic freedom" sort of way. but i DID make a book.

and let me tell you: it felt really good.

today doesn't feel quite as great, since i was up until 2 a.m. working and listening to the "modern love" podcast. i'm getting too old for that. yesterday was like old times, though, when i was on deadline for my book, and the only time i had to work was after the kids went to bed. except today i was up at 8 a.m. when the cat stretched against me, not 6 a.m., when harper was "all done dark," as she used to say, and i had to drive henry to school.

the process i used for this book was WAY easier, too, than the fully tactile style of crafting. i used a 6x8" digital album template set and some printable travel cards from ali edwards and a few tags from jen hadfield's chasing adventure line. that was it.

streamlined, baby.

another thing that made this project easy is that i had already blogged about the trip, the photos were already edited, and the journaling was written. super easy peasy.

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i will definitely use digital templates again for single subject books. it made the process so smooth and fast, and the finished product looks like it took way more work than it did. it was really nice to see a project come together without taking days and days of work and mess. hybrid crafting is the way to go!


april 1

i'm back. and no, this isn't an april fool's joke. i could understand your skepticism, though.

last weekend, marc and i were discussing the ongoing streamlining, purging, simplifying we have going on around here, and i mentioned that i'm going to let the blog go. pull off things i want to keep, set the rest free. then a friend from my former life in the scrapbooking world mentioned an april challenge on facebook - a daily blog share of artful living - and it got me to thinking: i'd been planning to focus selfishly on my own time and needs and wellness in april, and participating in this challenge would both hold me accountable to that plan and hold me accountable to including creativity in that plan.

win/win/win. win.

i've been babystepping back into creativity during this Pandemic Season ... kept a scrapbook all of last year to document our lives during the dumpster fire that was 2020, and then decided to keep it up in 2021. i also started a small scrapbook in january of my quest to re-center my thoughts and actions on me for the first time in, well, more than 20 years. i have these little projects that i update on a weekly basis, and it has helped stretch those muscles and dust off the skills. during april, though, i hope to add in more creative outlets and learning.

 

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i received watercolors for christmas, took a three-hour online class in january, then ... nothing. haven't touched them since, though i truly want to get back into painting. and i miss scrapbooking; harper will be a senior in the very near future, yet i haven't really gotten back into keeping up with story telling since we packed up our last house to move more than 10 years ago. when she was six. i am so, so sorry, kiddo. for awhile, i was in an online writing group, doing writing exercises and working on my own projects, but ... nope. those have been abandoned, too.

i am in the process of giving the guest room a glow up; does that count?

 

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but even that is on hold until the remaining things arrive. which means that project, too, will be temporarily abandoned, and with it, the creative spark that got me going on it in the first place.

but this challenge: let's see if i can do it. let's see if i can follow through and take that time daily to focus on something other than "what do we need from the grocery?" ... "what am i making for every meal today?" ... "why are there always dishes to wash?" ... "what is this crushing sense of ennui that presses into me, every minute of every day?"

30 days. i can do 30 days. right?

 


filler.

time is moving so darn quickly, and as soon as i get an idea in my head that i want to put down here, crazy happens and it's three days later.

has anyone else realized that we're nearly a third of the way through 2011 already?!

there's more crazy heading our way this week (negotiations, paperwork, money, visit, travel, contractors, cleaning, moving, prepping, painting, popcorning, cleaning, tiling ... and that's just the next 10 days), so in lieu of writing something informative or deep or entertaining, i'm going to share a tutorial. because i've been asked a handful of times in the past month, and this is just easier.

harper's rainbow birthday cake:

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now, i don't have any pretty little step-by-step shots ... i was given about two hours in the house by myself to bake this before harper would be home. not enough time to food style and photo shoot.

basically, i followed meg's directions, with a couple of tweaks:

1. for the cake batter, i used egg whites (all whites, in the carton in the egg section of your grocery store) instead whole eggs. i didn't want to run the risk of the batter taking on a yolky yellowishness.

2. for the icing, i used buttercream that i procured from the bakery at the grocery store. a) you get a take-out container of the stuff for the same price as a little can of betty crocker, b) it spreads so easily, c) it's white and fluffy and pretty, d) i'm too lazy to make my own buttercream.

3. she got a cup and a half of batter per layer; i got slightly more than a cup an a quarter. maybe it was the egg whites.

so ...

i made one batch at a time. the batter was mixed up according to directions, swapping out the liquid egg whites for the whole eggs. once the batter was mixed, i divided it into three bowls, 1.25 cups of batter per bowl. then i added in about 1/16th tsp of gel icing coloring and stirred until it was all worked through. if you want fainter color, use less gel color. and you can get these gels in any color you like ... i found mine in the cake decorating aisle at michael's. wouldn't this cake be pretty in a gradient of red to pale pink for valentine's day? pastels for easter? red, white and blue for july 4th?

anyway ... three bowls. food coloring. stir. then i sprayed the heck out of aluminum cake pans with pam for baking ... the pam that has flour in it. (ok, sidenote: that stuff smells GOOD!) the cake pans had the scalloped sides, which gave my layers their pretty shape. i poured each color of batter into its own pan and baked for, roughly, 12 minutes. while they were baking, i washed the bowls and made the next box of cake mix and got the next three colors ready.

once the cakes were done, i let them cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turned them out onto wire racks to cool. once they were all cool, i wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for about three hours. another hour or so would have been better. mine were still a bit warm and soft and fluffy ... stiffer would have been better.

one at a time, i placed a layer on the plate, spread some buttercream, added the next layer, more buttercream, etc. by the time i reached the last layer ... i was running low on buttercream. i asked marc if he could please run to the store for more. he suggested i leave the cake as-is so we could see the rainbow. hmm ... curious. sounds like he didn't want to drive a mile to the store.

but i went with it. frosted the top, and there you have it. oh - except it needed a little pizzazz. because it was a rainbow cake. way too subtle on its own. so once i brought harper up and surprised her with her cake (she was thrilled! then asked if it was chocolate.), i then handed her rainbow-colored sugar sprinkles and told her to accessorize the frosting. which she did.

remember how i said the layers should have spent more time in the freezer? well, here's why: the whole thing was very, very fluid. wanted to move. wanted to topple. hence the skewers you see in the picture. had i had the time, i would have created a little banner with patterned paper and bakers twine and decorated the skewers to make them look intentional. i had neither the time nor the idea on this particular day.

next year.

when i figure out how to make a chocolate rainbow cake.

lucky thing i had those skewers in there, though. as soon as i cut into the cake at the party, the whole thing wanted to fall over. so the skewers then became the anchor for cake kebabs. i sliced that cake up and served it on a stick, like some dessert at a brazilian steakhouse. exotic.

and really, those tall, thin slices of rainbow on a plate ... they were gorgeous.

this cake was a lot of fun. harper loved it, her friends loved it, her friends' moms loved it, and i felt good that i did something special for my girl on her day.

it definitely took a little more work than a traditional two-layer cake, but it was so worth it.

try it. have fun with the colors. let me know if you do something fabulous when you make one!


buy a book. help japan.

today only, f&w media is donating 50% of profits made from sales in its bookstores to the relief effort in japan.

what can you buy?

well, there's always this little number, which i highly recommend ...

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... don't let the "clearance" and "2008" scare you away: everything in this book is still totally relevant. except maybe some of the patterned paper.

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but if you don't WANT to journal your family's memories and history (ahem), there are other great options, too:

twisted stitches

i felt awesome

scrapbook secrets

the big book of scrapbook pages

collage discovery workshop

organized simplicity

 

and pages and pages of other options.

so go forth ... buy something new and inspirational and instructive ... be a part of helping japan ... feel good about yourself!

 


clearing my head and my blog to do list

what a whirlwind the past 10 days have been! wow. and considering the amount of stuff i need to brain-dump, there will be no pix of the day from last week. just consider the stuff i post here to fill in.

okay, to start, last saturday i headed to indiana to give my sister that baby shower we'd planned, up until wyatt came two months early. it was for our roush side of the family: aunts, great-aunts, cousins, etc.

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hee hee. rocket man. wyatt's "rocket man."

;o)

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great aunt helen held wyatt the entire time becca was opening gifts. she was a baby nurse for years and had the magic touch. and great aunt nancy took her turn to coo goodbyes before she and great uncle danny headed back to ohio.

the most tingly part of the day, though, was when great aunt martha checked out wyatt.

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becca and i both commented after the shower that aunt martha looking at wyatt was surreal ... she is the sister of our grandma roush, and they looked so much alike. it was like seeing grandma look at her new great-grandson. so strange, and yet so wonderful.

monday i headed to becca's house to hang out with her and matt and wyatt for the week. because RSV is running rampant in their area, wyatt's been quarantined from going out and being around people, so poor becca has been house-bound as well for the past six weeks. we did get to go to the doctor on tuesday for wyatt's check up: 9 lbs 10 oz and 22" already!! he's growing like a champ and doing just beautifully!

speaking of beautiful, check out my new nephew. quite the looker, though i may be biased.

but i don't think so. he's really that amazing.

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big, squishy, baby powder-scented love. he's perfect.

friday i had to pry myself away from him and becca and start the trek home. however, first i needed to make a pit stop in winona lake, indiana, to visit my cousin, luke, and visit his studio/gallery, mudlove pottery.

remember luke?

image from micheleomega.typepad.com
he's started a wonderful business - hand-thrown pottery that he bakes in his own kilns on-site.

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and the best part? a percentage of all his sales go toward water in africa. win/win. check out his etsy shop, and perhaps there will be a mudlove love giveaway in the coming weeks ... stay tuned.

anywhoodle, after my visit with luke i was back on the road. this time, to lake geneva, wisconsin, to meet some girlfriends for a weekend of scrappy stuff.

i was invited by my friend, anne, whom i've known for - we realized - about 12 years through the internet. we've met a handful of times since then, and i simply adore the girl. she and some girlfriends recommended the scrapbook manor in lake geneva for the weekend, and i couldn't say no. and what an amazing place! the house is gorgeous, the beds are amazingly comfy, the work room is perfect, the food is non-stop, and the owner, karen, is the sweetest thing you'll ever meet. i kinda wanted to move in. and i can't wait to go back.

and i got a lot done, which, given the availability of wine, bloody marys (ohmigosh, lesley - you HAVE to make those for me again!!), and other party favors, is shocking.

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unfortunately, i can't post the others right now because i'm working on stuff for that memory makers book call. (psst: there's still time to submit!!)

and then i came home.

that gets you up to speed with life through yesterday morning. and i'm leaving out a big dramatic scene from thursday night.

i'll get to that in a day or two. there are still a couple of ducks that need to be coaxed into a row before i go into detail on that.

glad to be back, though!


pretend it's last weekend.

thanksgiving was nice. the food was great. (ahem ... i have to say that ... i cooked it all. except the pies. marc's mom cooked all of those. which is why they were good, too.) we had a good visit with marc's parents. the kids were good. and that's that.

so, last weekend. i got scrappy with some girlfriends at a great little retreat halfway to duluth, the heritage place. comfortable, relaxed, beautiful setting, great work space ... and i got a lot done, which was amazing, considering i've really scrapped nothing of note for months. at least.

i packed up a handful of kits from studio calico that i hadn't yet had the pleasure of cracking open, and by golly they got cracked.

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man. that felt good.

i also worked on a december daily album, but i'll get to that later in the week. now it's time to go polish off another slice of pumpkin pie and relax.

happy thanksgiving ... a little late!


i still get scrappy. occasionally. sometimes.

so, back in july (yes, july. leave me alone.) i got a newsletter from a scrappy site that they were holding a contest. there would be 10 finalists selected from all entries, and those 10 would get one of the new lines from my mind's eye to play with, and then a winner would be selected from those 10 entries.

on a (very last minute) whim i decided to enter. because i love both my mind's eye and rejection. i sent in three layouts that i had semi-recently made ... i believe the three were these (sharing, because i haven't in a long time):

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a few days later, i got an email stating i was a finalist! woohoo!! that, in itself, made me feel good. i haven't been feelin' the scrappy love lately ... mojo gone, printer not cooperating, too much stress from other life stuff, etc. anyway ... i was asked to then select a new line from my mind's eye to work with, and i picked "the spider's web" ... a gorgeous, neutral halloween line. i knew immediately upon looking at it that it would be wonderful for a project of some sort.

and after pushing paper around for a week or so, this is what i came up with:

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i found a shadow box frame at michael's that had two layers of glass floating between spacers. i cut out the tree from a piece of paper and adhered it to the outside glass using foam tape, to give it dimension. the middle layer has hand-cut hill shapes that have been inked. the first layer is adhered directly to the glass, and the second layer is mounted on top of the first with more foam tape. (love foam tape. 3m, if you are reading this, i will happily take all the foam tape you don't want anymore.) the innermost glass has a square of paper adhered directly to it, and is topped with a moon die cut. to accent the scene, i cut birds out of another piece of paper and stuck them on different layers, and added some free-handed clouds.

the banner was pretty easy, too. free-hand triangles (i'm rarely precise about anything), silver eyelets, twine, and the letters were stamped with ranger mica ink, outlined with doodlebug glitter, and adhered to the banner with ... drum roll ... foam tape. i used glue lines to attached the twine to the frame, then covered the ends of it with black cardstock so it would disappear.

and there you have it: the prize-winning my mind's eye project from stop & scrap's contest. yep ... i won! love winning ... makes me feel like i wasn't just a memory makers fluke. ;o)

on an unrelated note:

35786_Z31 do i buy this hanna anderrson piece of cuteness for harper for school pictures? or is it an unnecessary expenditure in these financial times? she has some orange polka-dot leggings from gymboree that are screaming out to be worn with this dress ...

 

 

eta: i met my friend lisa at mall of america tonight for dinner, and after she left to attend some pre-scrapfest meeting with cosmo cricket, i wandered toward hanna anderrson. and got sidetracked by janie and jack. and because of that ... well, and because of the cuteness that lies therein at janie and jack ... harper will be wearing this little number for her school picture:

Janiejack both pieces, i might add, came in under the dollar mark of the hanna dress. so, score.

 


sept/oct memory makers. a/k/a the last one. ever.

sigh.

just typing that makes me sad.

so, the september/october issue of memory makers magazine is on newsstands now. i think. i haven't checked. but it's lovely. filled on every page with art that normal people like you and me put together, touched with their fingers, added a piece of their hearts, and then sent off, at the time not knowing that their art would grace the final pages of this institution of scrappiness.

the cover features an adorable layout by my amazing friend katrina, and features an adorable photo of my amazing friend susan's little guy. over the past three years, i've made so many wonderful friends and precious memories because of this magazine. hopefully those will last much longer than the printed page.

and so, without further lachrymose drivel ...

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the topic for this issue: using unrelated photos to tell your story.

we all have so many photos of so many different things, but how many of us feel like we can't share thoughts or memories without using coordinating pictures? how many of us have ten different pages of the same event year after year, without any journaling because the information never changes?

why not shake things up a little? find semi-related photos and use them to illustrate the story. or find completely unrelated photos to illustrate the words you want to write that don't necessarily have photos ops accompanying them.

for this issue of the magazine, my story was about our yard and how gorgeous it is in the fall. now, do you see a shot of my Yard? no. were all the photos taken specifically with this topic in mind? no. they are just random shots i've taken over the past five years of our property in the autumn, but i pulled together my favorites to show just why it is i love our yard come october.

you can do the same thing with your photos. start using the ones you've been ignoring because they don't "go with" anything. look at your photos in a new way and FIND the story within them. or build a story around them.

and as a bonus, i'm going to share another layout from my book, "your words, your story," that was built on this same idea.

Definepurpose

these photos have absolutely nothing to do with the conversation about which i wrote, but they are as much a representation of who my son is as the story in the journaling. there were no photos for the story, there was no story with the photos, but together they work.

take some time to look through your photographs with a new eye. see if any stories pop out at you as you flip through them, or if any emotions come up depending on the photos you find. a + b doesn't always have to equal c. sometimes a + b = good scrapping.