Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I [heart] Steampunk

Yesterday, I finally had the chance to play with my new collection of Graphic 45 Steampunk Debutante papers, and I loved every minute of it! The only problem is - there are so many images I want to cut out that I think I am going to have to get a second pack of papers if I want to use the patterned pages on the opposite sides. The only downside to using only images from the same paper pack is that I almost feel as if everything is a little "too" coordinated. Perhaps next time I will mix things up a little more.

My picture is one of our recent vacation shots - proof that any photo will work for a Steampunk layout. I realy enjoyed continuing the sand and water from the photo onto the layout. I simply took some scrap cardboard that came with one of my recent paper purchases and continued the shore and water lines with gold paint on one side and a mixture of blue and green distress ink on the other, then covered it all with stickles - blue for the water and a walnut stain for the sand.

For those of you in Cyberland who enjoy the steampunk style - what themed photos have you used for your layouts? And what would you like to see? Steampunk school photos? A steampunk Christmas maybe? I would love to see and hear your ideas and suggestions!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Goodbye Summer

Summer will officially be gone after this weekend, not that you would know it here in Houston where the temperatures still reach the mid-90's every day.

We just returned from an end-of-summer cruise aboard the Carnival Ecstasy where we traveled from Galveston to Cozumel and back to Galveston. It was our first cruise, and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting a four day get-away! The family and I spent a week in Cozumel last year, but we still managed to find new things to do during our day long excursion on the island. We rented dune buggies and drove to Carlos and Charlies - another place I highly recommend - for several hours of fun on the beach. There was ample shady seating along gorgeous white sandy beaches,and the staff made perfect drink and entertainment recommendations. The kids (adult and younger) played in the crystal blue water and jumped on a floating trampoline anchored in the ocean just a short swim away. We then went parasailing aboard the Hakuna Matata II, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It wasn't the least bit scary, and the bird's eye view that you get of the island ocean while up in the air is worth every penny...or peso as the case may be.

We next drove to Coconuts on the rocky side of the island for a late lunch. Although the "inside" of this restaurant is covered with t-shirts and signs that were of a decidedly graphic nature (enough to make me put my hands over the youngest child's eyes), the outside seating overlooking the rocky shore is spectacular. And the same can be said for the food - spectacular. It's all simple stuff, nothing fancy, but full of flavor and had me literally licking my fingers to get the very last bit of flavorful goodness! The pico de gallo served with the homemade chips had quite a kick (enough to make my eyes water) but, again, the flavor was SO good that I just couldn't resist having one more bite. A word of warning to anyone wanting to eat at Coconuts (and you really should give it a try if you are visiting Cozumel), they do NOT take credit cards - but they do take dollars.

As my little tribute to the end of summer, here are some layouts I completed over the past several months - all of which are appropriately themed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Baby is a Star

Some of you who know me know that my wonderfully precocious little daughter, Hunter, was bitten by the acting and singing bug about four years ago. Since then, I have walked the fine line of trying to encourage, but not push, her. I waited a couple of years after her first play before putting her in a film acting class. And now, at her request, we recently signed with an agent in Houston. Our agreement is that she will get to keep and spend 10% of her net earnings and the remainder will go into her college savings account. I am hoping this will allow her to enjoy her acting experiences but also give her the means to one day attend the college of her choice without having to worry about student loans.

Part of the agent submission process is to have a photo shoot done so as to get one or more headshots. We chose the fabulously talented Kristine Canterbury, who spent about two hours taking photos of Hunter and then provided me with an entire cd full of gorgeous photos! Of course, this appealed to my scrapbooking addiction as I quickly realized I had over 100 photos of one of my favorite scrapbooking subjects at hand! Here at just two layouts I recently did with photos of Hunter taken by Kristine. (For anyone in the Houston area interested in getting fantastic headshots, please check out Kristine's site at

Anyway, here are my two latest efforts using photos from Hunter's photo shoot.

Finally, for anyone interested, I have attached the link to Hunter's YouTube clip with her two monologues to this blog title - enjoy!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away...

It has been raining, more off than on, all week long; and I am at the point where I! My backyard has fairly decent drainage; however, due to all the never-ending rain, the right back corner has become a mud pit. I'm talking, it's the kind of mud pit that wrestlers could thrash around in or that you would envision from Woodstock. Okay, it's not THAT big but it IS that muddy! So, today, what did two of my dogs, Bella and Coco, have to do? You see where this is going, don't you? Yes, they had to go an pretty much wallow in the mud. Bella, who is a white maltese, was almost completely black; Coco wasn't much better. I had to carry each dog in individually to the sink and hose them off before I was able to get them clean enough to bathe them. Then for the remainder of the day, my son and I had to stand guard in front of the mud pit every time we let the dogs back outside because that was, naturally, the first place Bella and Coco wanted to run.

My desire for sun has also apparently manifested itself in my Scraplifting 101 Challenge on Three of the four layouts I chose had the sun in them, and the fourth used lots or orange/yellow papers.

I can deal with all the humidity - I'm completely used to that by now. But I would really, really appreciate it if someone would turn off the water that keeps pouring out of the sky and turn the sun back ON!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Today I tried my hand at my first "Steampunk" themed layout for the Dark Side Challenge at I've been fascinated by Steampunk since I first heard about it over a year ago. What is Steampunk, you ask? Well, different people have slightly different views but most agree that it is something along the lines of an alternate reality Victorian-style era, full of fanciful contraptions often powered by steam or clock-like cogs. Dirigibles, not airplanes, are the preferred mode of travel in the Steampunk world. Are you confused yet? Think Jules Verne's fictional inventions, or the machinery and goggles in Tim Burton's Nine, or even Disney's own Treasure Planet - all Steampunk.

So then, what makes a layout Steampunk? The best way to describe my idea of a Steampunk layout is if shabby chic were to marry grunge and they were to have a child who took hallucinogenic drugs. You have distressing; you have victorian era embellishments, buttons and trim; and you have things you just don't see in this reality. Examples in my layout are the butterfly that is part safety pin and the picture of a princess with jewels in place of her eyes. And, of course, the clocks and gears - they are pretty standard Steampunk. But really, let your imagination and creativity run wild. If it looks a little weird, chances are it's perfect!

Now that you (hopefully) have a better idea as to what Steampunk is, I encourage you to give it a try on a layout. We can all look at flower tutorials another day - today get crazy and indulge yourself by adding a little fantasy to your layout. The only limit is your imagination.

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Current Favorite Colors

I don't know what it is about the color combination of blue and green, but it is currently my favorite combination when creating my scrapbook layouts! I have to force myself to use other colors and papers! And I'm not talking about dark pine greens or navy blues (although the ocassional darker accent provides a nice contrast), I'm talking about aqua, sea-green, baby blue, spring green, carribean blue, kiwi! Add some black and white pictures to that color palette, and I think you have the perfect spring or summer layout!

I'm sure I will get tired of this palette eventually, but right now I'm quite happy scrapping it out of my system. What are you current favorite colors to use?

Friday, May 21, 2010

No More Baskin Robbins!

I love the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup milkshakes at Baskin Robbins. But I am determined that I am not going to get any more because: 1)each milkshake has about a bezillion calories in it which I do NOT need, 2) all those calories inevitablty put me into a suger coma and all I want to do is sleep for about an hour or two, and 3) I always, always end up with an upset stomach and just feel nasty and gross for the rest of the day. Those milkshakes are sooooooo good, but they aren't worth everything that seems to come with them!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

At last!

Finally, my daughter's college graduation has come and gone. The relatives have left, the festivities have ended, and I am back at home once again catching up on laundry and cleaning!

The graduation ceremony was so exciting - I cried a little bit when all the graduates walked out into the auditorium. I think I was the proudest Mommy there, no matter what all the other parents think. I took over 100 photos and fully plan to scrap most of them!

Here is the first, created from a sketch designed by my good friend Alda, whose blog is found here:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring has Sprung

Spring is definitely here in Texas as evidenced by all the bluebonnets and wildflowers that have been out in profusion this past month. A tradition we try to follow (along with many other families in this part of Texas) is to take family pictures amidst all the flowers. Here are a few layouts I've done from the pictures I took several weeks ago. I've got many more pictures to go because, of course, they are ALL favorites...if I'm lucky, I may have them all scrapped by Halloween!

Monday, April 5, 2010


It seems like just yesterday I was driving my second daughter, Lindsey, through torrential rains so she could attend Freshmen Orientation at Texas State. We called ahead to advise that we were running late due to the extremely bad weather, and I remember asking what building we needed to go to since the orientation would already be under way. I was told to look for a beige building that was several stories tall. Imagine our surprise and dismay when we arrived on campus and ALL of the building were beige, most were multi-storied!
Now, less than seven weeks away, my daughter will be walking across the stage in her cap and gown. During these past four years, I have seen Lindsey consistently named to the Dean's List, inducted into the Honor Society, become the President of the Women's Soccer Club, and lead her soccer teammates to a third-place finish in Nationals. She has done all this while holding down one, sometimes two, jobs. My baby has grown up determined and always ready to face the next challenge placed before her.
Here's to you, kiddo. Today college, tomorrow graduate school, and afterwards - the world! I am so proud that I have the privilege to be your mother!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, and I am brought to my knees when I think of the enormous sacrifice that was made so that I, a person full of mistakes and misdeeds, could have a direct relationship with God. There are times that I feel absolutely unloveable, and it humbles me when I realize that no matter how ugly and unworthy I feel on the inside, I am loved and I am forgiven. And that certainty gives me the impetus to try to be better - try to be worthy.

Spring is here in full bloom! Birds are outside chirping loudly and building nests. The Azaleas and Indian Hawthorne are blooming. Thankfully, my oleanders which appeared to have been completely killed by the several incidences of below-freezing weather are starting to develop buds of new growth. I am pretty sure I've lost two palm trees, but it may be another month or so before I know for sure. I am definitely ready to get out in my yard (before it goes from warm to hotter than Hades) and do some gardening - maybe plant a few things.

My plan today is to take the Huntress out in full Easter regalia and take pictures. There are several quite picturesque locations in my neighborhood with large rocks surrounded by flowering bushes and trees, and I think they would make the perfect backdrop. Afterwards, we plan to dye and decorate Easter eggs; and then I will most likely play with my scrapbook goodies until I can no longer hold my eyes open.

Speaking of pictures, my middle daughter who is a senior in college, has asked me to take her senior pictures to send out with her graduation announcements. The middle child has always been extremely particular about having things done just right. For her to ask this amateur photographer to take her senior pictures is an enormous honor. I think it's a sign that I am moving into the right direction with my photography skills.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Forget Edward Cullen

Yesterday, I spent 6 hours watching Masterpiece Theatre's 2006 extremely ... well... masterful production of Jane Eyre. Today, a full 24 hours later, I am still sighing over Edward Rochester. Specifically, I am still sighing over the wonderful Toby Stephen's adaptation of Edward Rochester. He is the perfect dark, brooding, intelligent hero that the starry-eyed girl in all of us wants to redeem. And what can possibly be better than a saga in which true love triupmhs in the end?

Forget Edward Cullen, I want Edward Rochester.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Artsy Fartsy

I love art, although I cannot paint and I cannot draw. God gave me just enough of those skills to be able to finger paint and draw stick figures in grade school but not a smidgen more. But, I love art. I believe others in the same boat as I say they have an appreciation for art. That's me - can't do it but I sure do appreciate the heck out of it!

One well known painting that my man and I both appreciate is Grant Wood's "American Gothic" - you know the painting with the old dour-faced man and woman standing in front of a house with a Gothic window. So it wasn't too surprising (to me anyway) that when I was taking pictures of my man and the wild child in the barn at my in-laws and we spotted a pitchfork laying around, we both looked at each other and simultaneously said, "American Gothic!" The wild child had no idea what we were talking about, but she cooperated and gave us her best dour face possible. The end result was the picture in this layout which I immediately fell in love with! I came up with the East Texas Gothic title before I even finished taking the picture.

There are two things that I am especially proud of on this layout. The first is how my hinges turned out. Those hinges are from Tim Holtz's grungeboard line. I'm not sure what exactly grungeboard is made of, but it has this god-awful kind of mildewy smell that makes me want to gag a little whenever I first open the packaging! It's some kind of cardboard-like material in appearance, but it has a more rubbery texture to it. Grungeboard holds paint and glimmer mist extremely well and is very easy to work with. You just have to get past the smell which thankfully wears off after the grungeboard has a chance to air out. Anyway, I wanted the hinges to have a leather look to them so I painted them with Tim Holtz crackle paint, using a color called Vintage Photo. Then I very lightly sprayed a light mist of candy apple red Glimmer Mist and immediately blotted with a paper towel. I did this to give the hinge some subtle warmer red tones. Finally, I used a distress ink pad, also in Vintage Photo, and rubbed it across the raised parts of the hinge to add depth. Voila! Faux leather hinges.

The second thing I am especially proud of is my fabric element in the layout - this is proof that you really aren't limited to the stickers and embellishments on the scrapbooking aisles of your store. I used a strip of Aida cloth from my cross-stitching supplies that have been collecting dust in my storage closet for the past several years. To give the cut piece of cloth a distressed look, I used a wire brush (which I "borrowed" from my man's tool collection) and rubbed it quickly along the edges of the material which pulled the threads and caused the cloth to fray. I then rubbed my distress ink pad along the top of the cloth to give it an aged appearance. Simple and easy!

So, there you have it - my new way to appreciate art. I wonder what painting I should try to recreate next? Perhaps Whistler's "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" or Picasso's "The Tragedy." Any suggestions?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Poor Pitiful Me

Okay, feel sorry for me. I have had a horrible cold and have spent the past two days in bed - I would say on my death bed, but that's a little too melodramatic when it really is just a cold.

So, what do you think the worst part of my cold has been? The fever I had until last night? The incredible sinus pressure behind my right eye perhaps? Or what about all the crud in my nose that I can't seem to blow out but which insists on steadily drip, drip, dripping much like a leaky faucet? While it's true that all of those things have been pretty horrible, the worst - and I mean absolute WORST - part has been that I have not been able to work on any new scrapbook layouts! My creative roll has come to a screeching halt and that has really gotten me out of sorts. And it's not like I can take a special cold medicine for aches, sinus pain, cough AND scrapbook withdrawal so I am sitting here pouting and feeling sorry for myself.

I have been feeling better today and actually got out of bed, took a (much needed) shower and wore something other than pajamas; however, my head still feels kind of mushy inside and my creative juices are as stopped up as my nose! So, no scrapbooking for me today. But tomorrow's another day...fingers crossed.

Until then, I am cheering myself up by looking at this layout. It was voted as a finalist into the poll for a monthly sketch challenge I participated in last month on Do you like it?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Yesterday, I created this layout using a photo of my man's father(it's called a heritage layout but also has a vintage feel so I am calling it my vintage heritage - nothing better than combining terms). The photo is mounted on a piece of cardstock which is, in turn, mounted on a piece of cardboard. By the way, cardboard - that's right, regular old cardboard like you find on boxes - is all the rage right now in the scrapbooking world, so save those scraps because you never know when they will come in handy. Okay, back to my story...
Although it doesn't show up very well in the photo of my layout, I painted the cardboard and cardstock with Tim Holtz crackle paint to give my layout a more antique-y feel. As I was painting the piece of cardboard (and getting more paint than I would have thought possible on me), the proverbial lightbulb went off over my head and I had my REVELATION for the day! I said to myself, "Self, why are you painting the ENTIRE piece of cardboard and wasting time and wasting paint when most of it is going to be covered by the picture?" And my self replied, "That's a very good point! I have NO idea why I am doing that!" This may seem painfully obvious to you, and I honestly could not believe I hadn't thought of it before! Helllloooooo! There is NO NEED to paint something that is never going to be seen. So, I stopped painting the middle of the cardboard and only painted the edges that would not be covered by the picture.
My friend and fellow scrapbooking enthusiast, Jana, does something very similar with her paper. If she is layering the papers in her layout, she will often cut big chunks out of the bottom pieces that are covered by the top layers. It saves on paper, and no one will ever know those bottom pieces are missing - unless you tell them!
I'm sure there are lots of other little obvious things that I still haven't figured out. And I would love to hear any story you may have of an a-ha moment that you've had!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dare to Dream

I have this crazy dream that I will share with you. I want to be on a scrapbook design team - badly, really badly. A scrapbook design team is what it sounds like - a team of people who either use certain papers or products to create a layout (or cards or altered projects) OR a team of people who create a layout based on a certain theme, idea or sketch. They provide inspiration to and ideas for other scrapbookers. And they help to promote certain products and/or websites. Most don't get paid anything monetarily but do receive free products to use in layouts - always a good thing! Not why I'm interested, but freebies rock!
I have been toying with the idea of applying to a design team since Christmas-time and keep looking at postings for various calls. My man always says, "The worst they can do is tell you no," and "They may not choose you, but they won't choose you for sure if you never even try." He's a pretty logical guy with a math degree - a mindset that my brain doesn't always get (but I love him for it).
So, last night, I had a choice. I could either read the new bodice-ripper sitting on my night stand or I could actually DO something and apply to one of the postings. And - I did it. Instead of reading all about Claire gazing adoringly into the Duke's eyes and how firm but soft his lips were, I applied. And you know what? It felt good! I took a step forward - I stood up and declared this is not just a hobby for me. This is an art form and a way to preserve memories that I am passionate about, and it is something that I want to share with others. I have SO much still to learn, especially when compared to women who have been scrapbooking for years, but I am hopeful that someone will see my layouts and say, "that girl's got potential."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

T is for Technique

I'm sitting here enjoying this COLD, rainy, very dreary weather we are having because it means I have an excuse (like I really need one) to sit in my house and scrap to my heart's content! Now, I know that I COULD be doing things like washing clothes, scrubbing floors, cleaning bathtubs and toilets, but I am working on the Flylady system which means that for every 15 minutes of concentrated cleaning, I get 45 minutes of scrapbooking. It's a win/win situation. My house stays clean and I get lots and lots of time to play. My flylady habits will be a post for another day, but seriously, go check out her site at She's made me a believer!

So, one of the things I absolutely love about scrapbooking is there are so many different techniques you can use to create a layout. It's never the same thing, never repetitive (unless you want it to be). The best part is that most of the techniques are so simple to do and yet look fantastic - ideal for someone like me who is majorly artistically challenged! So, I have included a picture of my Love that perfect Smile layout that showcases a few of my favorite techniques (and products) that I am using right now.

One of the things I did was make all of the pictures but one black and white. I've found that having several black and white and one color photo or several color and one black and white photo really provide an eye-catching contrast. This technique is super easy, and you don't need a camera that will shoot in black & white mode. I have been using Picasa, a free download from Google, which I absolutely love. It's simple to use, it's free (did I mention that?), and it has a great effects selection, including black and white, sepia, film grain, and focal black and white (a current fave that gives you just a splash of color in an otherwise black and white photo). There is other photo-editing software out there so find the one that works for you.

Another technique I love is using different mediums for the title, which makes it more visually interesting and less like the "traditional" scrapbooks where all the letters are uniform and everything is evenly spaced out. I've used a combination of premade chipboard letters, two small word stickers and letters that I cut out using my cutting machine. Truly, though, there is no limit to the ways you can mix and match to create titles. I've seen combinations of: chipboard, hand cut construction paper or cardstock, stamped, handwritten, labelmaker, scrabble tiles, newspaper or magazine clippings, old cards, paint, felt, stitching. It all looks great!

And what do you think of my "o" in Love? I used a lollipop flower in place of the "o" which is so simple to make! All you have to do is cut out a few circles, crumble each cut up piece of paper and then straighten it out (this keeps the flower from being completely flat) and add a brad in the middle to hold it all together. I also run a distress ink pad around the edges of my circle pieces of paper because it makes the flower feel more finished to me. But I've also seen people sand the edges of the paper, use stickles or paint around the edges, and even doodle a line with a pen or marker around the edges. All look really good!

For simple shapes, I really love using a shape punch. Punches are great because you can easily and quickly make certain shapes using different papers. They are perfect for those leftover scraps that you might otherwise throw away. They are moderately priced, normally ranging from $8 to $15 per punch, but many scrapbook or art supply stores that carry them also frequently offer coupons for 25% to 50% off, which makes them very affordable especially since you can use them over and over again. On my layout, I used the Fiskars small heart squeeze punch - a great little tool that lets you see exactly where you are punching.

I put pop dots under my hearts and bent the edges of each heart up to provide more dimension. Pop dots are great because you can stack them on top of each other and create as much of a 3-d feel as you like to your layout. Next, I used one of my new favorite products, Smooch ink, to paint the paper hearts. Smooch ink is incredibly easy to use. It comes in a little bottle that looks (and goes on) much like nail polish. The only exception is that instead of a soft brush, the tip is harder and less flexible, almost like a stylus, which allows you to make thin, precise lines if you like - great for outlining! The ink dries extremely quickly, and I usually apply a second coat to really make it bold and shiny. I love shiny things!!!

A final technique that I included was adding fiber to my layout. Just like fiber is good for your body, fiber is definitely good for your layout! In this case, I used a rough-textured floss that I found at my local scrapbook store for 29 cents a yard (can't beat that!). I think it's a simple addition, it can be used in as many ways as you can imagine, and it really makes the layout stand out.

So there you go - some (but not all) of my current favorite techniques. What are yours? I would love to know what your favorites are - I'm always searching for new ideas!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Trauma: Life in the (Vet) ER

I want to tell you about the experience I had yesterday now that I am no longer hysterical. My little Chihuahua, Coco (named after Coco Chanel of course) almost died. Coco is like one of my children. She is my answer to not being able to have any more babies, and I would have been beyond grief-stricken if she had died!
I came home from the grocery store and let the dogs out in the back yard while I put the groceries away. I always leave the door cracked open so they can just come in whenever they want. Coco, however, LOVES the outdoors and is always the last to come in. It took about 15-20 minutes to finish with the groceries , and I went outside to call Coco in. I noticed she was laying under the patio table with her head weaving from side to side and a completely dazed look in her eyes. As I got closer, I saw she had vomit down the side of her mouth and had defecated on herself. As long as I live, I will NEVER forget her head weaving around like that and just how WRONG she looked! I picked her up and she was a limp as a noodle. She was barely breathing, taking very shallow breaths with too long an interval in between. At first I thought she was choking and suffocating on something. I pried her mouth open but couldn’t see anything, but her gums and tongue were completely white. I have a magnet with my vet’s number on the fridge so I called them in a panic and they told me to bring her in immediately.
I ran out of the house with her and sped all the way to the office, which is about 15minutes from my house. I ran two stop signs and would have run a stop light if cars had not been in front of me. Coco was completely non-responsive, and the only way I knew she was still alive was because she would take an occasional gasping breath. I was terrified she was going to die before I got there! A vet tech was waiting outside the clinic for me. He took Coco, ran inside with her and took her to one of the back rooms.
My vet, Dr. Purser, came out about 15 minutes later and told me that he thought she had a severe allergic reaction to an insect or spider bite, and she was in anaphylactic shock. Her blood pressure was extremely low, her body temp had dropped 4degrees and she was in severe respiratory distress. They had started an IV, gave her antibiotics, steroids and Benadryl and were doing blood work to make sure they weren’t missing anything. He went over the blood work thoroughly with me when it came back and said it supported anaphylactic shock – said that with her weighing so little, it wouldn’t take much venom from an insect or spider to send her into it if she was allergic.
Thank God and my vet, Dr. Pursher had Coco sitting up and looking a little aware of her surroundings within 45 minutes. He let her go home with me after 3 hours. He kept the IV catheter in her leg and gave me his cell number to call if I noticed any change at all overnight (one of the reasons I love my vet so much). I took her back in this morning for Dr. Purser to check her out and take out the catheter, and he says she should make a full recovery.
There were no obvious bite marks, welts or stingers so we may never know what it was. I am having my pest control company come out, though, and thoroughly spray my back yard for anything and everything! And, whether she likes it or not, Coco won’t go out anymore unless I am sitting outside with her!
Right now, she is sitting next to me, wrapped up in a little blanket which she loves, and I am so thankful and grateful she is here to share this day with me!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I love a challenge

I am a member of a great website (currently my favorite) called It's a fantastic site that has really helped me to grow tremendously in learning how to create different scrapbook layouts. There are so many techniques to learn - NOTHING at all like the days of gluing a picture or program to a piece of black paper and then writing the name and date under it!
One of the things I most love about is that they have a challenge forum. It's just what it sounds like - you are challenged to create a layout or altered project using a specific technique or paper or item. The photo above is my most recent layout from a scraplifting challenge (Scraplifting is copying another person's design).
As you can see, the photos are mostly black and white with a little bit of coloring added to them. I have been using Picasa for my photo-editing lately (free download from Google) and it has a really neat effects feature called Focal B&W, which I used for these pics. The drawback to this feature is I couldn't get so specific with the color placement as to only color in the scarf or legwarmers. I will need to use PhotoShop Elements for that, which I really NEED to learn.
I used the definition of the word "recalcitrant" in place of journaling. I think this is a neat option if you don't have a specific action or event to journal about and just want to remember the mood at the time the pictures were taken. To get the definition, I went to online dictionary on the internet. I then cut and pasted the definition into a word document and printed it out on cardstock. I cut the cardstock into pieces. I then distress inked the edges and used pop dots under each strip; this combination helps the strips to stand out.
A second challenge that I have been LOVING is the Words with Friends app on my (new) iPhone. This app is also totally free making it the best kind! Words with Friends is basically Scrabble. The beauty of it is that you can play several games at the same time with various people (either random people or invited friends) AND you can play as fast as you want or at a leisurely pace. There is no time limit. I have some games running that I have been playing for 5 days - only playing one or two words a day; then I have several games that I have played straight through until the end. I (heart) games that challenge the brain!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm a Cheater

Last night I stayed up late working on a project. As soon as midnight rolled around my stomach began grumbling - not just grumbling but loudly demanding, "FEED ME!" I guess my body decided it was a new day and it had not yet been fed. So, did I have a banana or an apple or even a little bowl of yogurt? Nope. I had a bowl of junk food ceral. It was a regular sized bowl, and I did have 2% milk added to it, but I cheated plain and simple.

I guess the grumbling stomach and craving for an unhealthy snack is an incentive for me to go to bed a little earlier - before I have a chance to get hungry (and go crazy) again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

19 Days to Go

Someone once told me that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. This person was a runner, and he said that for the first 21 days he made himself run every single day no matter what. He would tell himself that, even if he didn't feel like it, he would at least run for five minutes. After that he could stop. Often, he would find that once he started running, he also started feeling better and would end up completing the entire run.

Four years ago, I was about 25 pounds overweight. For someone who used to be able to put anything in my body knowing my metabolism would quickly burn it off, it was a shock to wake up one day and realize I was no longer thin. In a panic I took diet pills, began eating next to nothing and sporadically worked out. All in all, this was a horrible solution which was ultimately doomed to failure.

I managed to keep most of the weight off until this past year primarily because of the sporadic periods of exercise. However, I became more and more sedentary and, as of the beginning of this week, I am exactly 1.6 pounds shy of once again being 25 pounds overweight. In other words, I am right back where I started four years ago! So, I have to make some serious lifestyle changes; I have to do things right this time!

This time I am watching what I eat. I am writing everything down and sharing the information with a group of friends so that I can be held accountable for my choices. I am not restricting myself from anything I really want to eat and that freedom has actually kept me from eating the junk food my brain would be telling me I HAVE to have.

Most importantly, I am committed to exercising every day for the next 21 days. It doesn't have to be the same thing, but it has to be something, anything, that will get my heart rate going for at least 20 minutes - preferably 30 to 40 minutes. I need a serious jumpstart and this is the only way I know how to do it!

Yesterday, I hauled my butt to the Y and did 30 minutes of intervals on the treadmill. On the flat part of the course, I ran (or more accurately, I did a stately jog). During the inclines, I walked at a fast pace. I sweated and I moaned and groaned and I thought about stopping (tried and tried to rationalize why I could) at least a dozen times. But 35 minutes later, after I completed the entire thing, I felt SO GOOD about myself!

Today, I absolutely did NOT want to run on the treadmill again. It was raining and kind of gross outside so really I didn't want to go outside. So, just to see what I could find, I hit my cable's on demand button. Sure enough, my cable company features an exercise channel that has various fitness routines. I chose the Billy Blanks, Jr. Cardioke one. I am soooooo glad I did! Yes, cardioke is just what it sounds like - it is doing cardio-dance routines and singing along. Thank God I was in my house because I looked like a crazy fool - but I had an incredible fun time despite the fact that I was sweating like a pig and was more huffing and puffing than singing the words to the songs! Billy had me doing some Motown Doo-Wop moves, the pony, the electric slide and best of all....the Bird! That's right, this 40 something year old was doing her darnedest to channel Morris Day and laughing like a loon while doing it! Say it with me now, "Wa-aw-awk! Hallelujah! Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh!"

2 days down - 19 to go.