Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day

God Bless America!


Friday, July 3, 2015

Camp Scrap Technique Tag

I'm really not a "messy" crafter. I'm not a big fan of having dirty inky paint-smeared hands and having to worry about covering my work surface with a craft mat and making sure I have plenty of paper towels on hand. However, I do have supplies that cause all these types of "messiness," so today I pulled a few things out to try  some of the ideas in the mixed media and technique sections of this week's Camp Scrap 2015 class materials.

I started by creating a tag with a patterned paper base. I embossed red hearts on it, then used distress inks to darken the light blue background. I stamped a few places with a lined background stamp, too. It turned out fairly good, so I decided to use it on a card.

I covered my card with two different patterned papers, embellished the tag with some washi tape strips, a ribbon, a brad, and a few stickers, and added an embossed sentiment. It's definitely not my usual look, but I'm proud of myself for trying something different. (And Robbie said it looks really good!)

I'm sending this off to a dear friend of mine who enjoys seeing what new things I'm creating. Now that's something I definitely enjoy - sending handmade items to friends and family!

The 4-Hour Workweek - book review

I have mixed feelings about recommending The 4-Hour Workweek. On one hand there are lots of great ideas in this book for living the lifestyle of your dreams, however I have some misgivings about some of the suggestions and methods described in the book.

Let me start with a few of the things that just don't sit well with me:

*I don't like the author - I think he comes off as arrogant and he does things that are "not quite" unethical but certainly push the limit. For example, when he won a kickboxing championship it was because he studied the rules and realized if he pushed his opponent off the platform three times he would win. He also used extreme methods to lose weight in one day, then put the weight back on before the next day's match, so that he was competing with lighter weight opponents. (I realize these things go on in sports quite a bit, but I still think they are pushing the line.)

*Also, the author was already making very good money ($40,000/month according to him) when he began implementing the systems in this book, automating much of his business, and living his dream life.

*His suggestion "don't ask permission, ask forgiveness" implies something wrong has been done (otherwise why would you need forgiveness), but that doesn't concern him if it leads to the ultimate goal of finding freedom to live life on your own terms.

*He recommends becoming "an expert" in your field by joining the right organizations, speaking for free, and reading books. Then you can state on your website (or promotional materials) that you are a member of such&such organization and are a regular speaker at such&such event/university/etc . . . thus you are "an expert."

*The idea of  "geoarbitrage" (leveling global pricing and currency differences for profit or lifestyle purposes) is not new but is heavily advocated in the book. This is not so much a negative, but it was coupled with notes on how to gain income tax exemptions while enjoying luxuries at a much lower cost - a win/win both ways . . . except for the country (that's not getting those tax dollars) that allows you all that freedom in the first place.

On the positive side, there were some really good takeaways from the book:

*I love the idea of not deferring "retirement living" until the end of your career but rather enjoying travel and other activities now, even if only on a short-term or "mini-retirement" type vacation. The idea is not to make retirement the goal, but rather to make the desired lifestyle the goal.

*The suggestion to think about the life you want to have and to create a list of what your life would like if you could do whatever you wanted is a good exercise for clarifying what you're working toward.

*When making decisions, I like the idea of asking "what is the worst thing that can happen" and "what steps you could to take if that thing happened" is a great way to help determine whether or not to pursue a particular course of action.

*The book is divided into sections based on a progression of steps (the DEAL) that lead to a richer life:
Definition - Define what you want.
Elimination - Eliminate unnecessary tasks & interruptions.
Automation - Automate as many routines and tasks as possible.
Liberation - Gain freedom over your own time through owning your own company or possibly negotiating to work remotely.

I like how Amy Tan's review sums up by noting that after reading the book and taking a sabbatical, she "returned to a more efficient work/life balance in general." I think that's a great take-away from the book.

Have you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

April Top Five #3

As part of my year of INSPIRATION, each month I am challenging myself to scrap my Top Five (photos or stories or events) from the previous month. When I posted my INSPIRATION review and plans earlier today, I mentioned that I was hoping to catch up with this challenge. As usual I am not scrapping these in order, so this is actually the first layout I've completed from my April Top Five list . . . but it's actually number three on the list.

The design of this layout is a scraplift of Ashli Oliver's grid layout in the Camp Scrap 2015 class materials. As I watched Ashli's process video, I knew I wanted to try it to tell this story about our tomato crop.

I especially enjoyed putting together these mini-clusters using small photos, paper scraps, and a variety of embellishments.

Did you sign up for the Camp Scrap 2015 class? If so, what are you inspired to create with this week's INSPIRATION?

March Top Five #3

As part of my year of INSPIRATION, each month I am challenging myself to scrap my Top Five (photos or stories or events) from the previous month. As I mentioned in my post earlier today, I'm a little behind on this goal but hoping to catch up this month!

The Camp Scrap 2015 class began yesterday, and this week's topic is "Recipes for Success." I took INSPIRATION from May's recipe of using a grid design to complete my layout. Unlike May, I did not use the same size blocks for my grid, but rather started with three photos and added papers to fill in the remaining spaces.

I used the black and white pieces as title and journaling blocks and did a little re-arranging before adhering everything in place.

Journaling reads: Since we like to lay out all the pieces first when we work a puzzle - 3000 pieces is our limit because it covers the entire big table!

INSPIRATION - June Review & July Plans

June did pan out exactly as I thought it would. In all honesty, I got caught in the middle of some family "dynamics" that caused serious rifts among several members of my family. I have a general rule that I don't allow my down times and blahness to leak onto others, so I posted less frequently last month and spent a good deal of time doing the things that help me maintain my emotional health - reading, journaling, organizing, cleaning, and crafting. Here's a look at the INSPIRATION items I had planned for June.

June Review
1. (March & April) & May Top Five -  I did not make much progress on my Top Five during June. I only have two of the items on my March list completed (I'm Delivering Sunshine and Mineola Trip mini-album) and none from April or May.

2. Pocket Page Scrapbooking & More Class - I actually cancelled my retreat and classes at Scrappin' Goodtime. I am extremely grateful to  my friends for their understanding despite the fact that this disrupted their plans as well.

3. Rinda's 2015 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt - Robbie and I enjoyed an impromptu weekend away and I found 21 items on this year's list - which you can see HERE. The photo I shared for item #6 (a metal bridge) was actually taken in Waco on our way to San Antonio. However, I captured quite a few other shots for this item along the River Walk.

4. Creative Live Ditch Your Day Job Class - I watched and took notes on the entire two-day class, Ditch Your Day Job, at Creative Live. I enjoyed the information and INSPIRATION despite the fact that I don't have a day job to ditch!

5.  READING FOR INSPIRATION - I am about halfway through the book Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible by Lisa Nichols Hickman and am thoroughly enjoying it. I also found INSPIRATION in Walking in this World and The Creative Habit. 

My other endeavors in June included creating 5 layouts, 1 card, 1 mini-album, and 2 photobooks.  I  published 9 blog posts (+1 on the Scrappin' Goodtime blog) and listened to interviews on The Painted Guru Summit. I painted our ceramic sun and have almost finished painting another metal piece to hang on the patio (I'll share it when I'm done!). I also started working my way through the 15-Minute Layouts class at BPC.

For the month of July, I'll be exploring and acting on INSPIRATION in several ways:
1. June Top Five - I'm challenging myself to scrap my top five (photos or stories or events) from the previous month. Although I haven't done as well as I'd hoped with this challenge, I do have quite a few completed layouts in this year's album. I only have four stories on my June list, and I'm hoping this month I'll catch up on this challenge. Here are the stories I still want to scrap:
(3) 3000-piece puzzle
(4) Huey UH1 ride
(5) "I just saw a lemon"
(1) Easter
(2) those little green arrows
(3) putting in the crop
(4) annual get-together with Cheri
(5) Michelle's clowning-around birthday
(1) National Scrapbook Day
(2) Starting Karis & Mason's collections
(3) Laura Ingalls Wilder Homes & Museum
(4) Niagara Falls
(5) Meeting Karen
(1) Impromptu Trip to San Antonio
(2) Briscoe Western Art Museum
(3) Painting & Crafting
(4) Thomas's Sea Cadet Graduation

2. Camp Scrap - I've signed up for May Flaum's newest class, Camp Scrap 2015. May's classes are always FUN and filled with INSPIRATION. This year's class has four components - cards, layouts, mixed media, and techniques.

3. Flow 30 Day Journal Project - I'm also signed up for the Flow 30 Day Journal Project, which I discovered through The Painted Guru Summit. This is a free project offered by artist and therapist Lisa Sonora. I haven't yet decided how much I'll participate in this project, but I am an advocate for journaling and always feel that it helps me when I'm going through a difficult time or need clarification in my life (both of which apply to me right now).

4.Rinda's 2015 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt - I'm challenging myself to complete the Scavenger Hunt again during the month of July!

5. Blog Series INSPIRATION A-Z - I've been contemplating and making notes for a blog series on INSPIRATION, which I hope to begin soon.

I'll also be celebrating my birthday this month and reviewing my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list. I'll be sharing how I'm doing on a few of the items on that list later in the month, but you can always track my progress HERE.

What kind of INSPIRATION did you enjoy in June? What are your plans for exploring and acting on INSPIRATION in July?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June Scavenger Hunt Finds

I had to smile when I read through the 2015 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt list that Rinda posted on June 1 because I had captured many of the items on the list during our vacation just the week before! However, the rules state that photos must be taken between June 1 and September 22, so today I'm sharing photos I captured in June. 

I have 21 photos to share, which in essence means I completed the hunt in one month! There are three items that I did not find, but I was able to substitute the three alternatives for those. And I have to admit that one photo is a little bit of a cheat stretch. Nonetheless, I'm giving myself complete credit for this year's hunt! Here are my June finds, all of which (with one exception) were captured on an impromptu overnight road trip to San Antonio. (Click on the photos for a larger version.)
1. A bouquet of flowers - As we were strolling along the River Walk, several dinner boats passed by, and one of them had a bouquet of flowers on the table!

2. An ornate door knocker

3. A person walking a dog - The River Walk was pretty crowded during the day and evening, but Sunday morning as we were dining al fresco, a family walked by with their dog. They were rounding the bend of the river before I could grab the camera and snap a photo.

4. People playing a board game or card game

5. Architectural columns - It is extremely difficult to get a photo of the Alamo without tourists in it, but with some patience I was finally able to capture this shot of the front door and the columns on each side.

6. A metal bridge - This was actually my first find of the hunt. On our way to San Antonio, we stopped in Waco at Buzzard Billy's for some Monster-Ella Cheese Sticks. Up the river a little ways is a railroad bridge. If you look closely, you can just see the driving bridge beyond it, and even farther is an old suspension bridge for pedestrian traffic.

7. A turtle - This might not look like the photos others are posting, but these are definitely my favorite kind of turtles.

8. Someone "plugged in" to social media - I was hoping to find someone with ear buds or headphones, but this guy was definitely plugged in and oblivious to anything else going on around him.

9. A tent - This tent was one of the displays at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.

10. A college or university - There are so many options for photographing a college or university, but nothing screams Texas like a new football stadium!

11. A cellular tower or television satellite dish - I'm really not sure what kind of dishes these are, but we found them along a stretch of the 130 Toll Road where the speed limit is 85 miles per hour. (Robbie pulled over for me to capture this photo on our way back home!)

12. A public restroom, bathroom, or toilet - Found along the River Walk.

13. A merry-go-round or carousel

14. A traffic signal - I knew it would be easy to capture a traffic signal, but I had no idea I would find one designed for boats on the San Antonio River!

15. A flag pole with at least three flags on it - There were flags on flagpoles all over San Antonio, with one or two flags, but we didn't see any with three flags . . . until Robbie spotted this optical illusion. The small flag at the bottom is actually on a flag pole miles away.

16. A panoramic view, taken while standing someplace high in the air - Our room at the Hilton Palacio del Rio was on the 16th floor overlooking the river. I captured this panoramic with my iPhone, although I apparently didn't keep the little arrow moving along the horizontal line, which resulted in some of the buildings appearing to lean one way or the other.

17. At least two people wearing matching outfits or uniforms - I actually captured several photos for this prompt, but my favorite is this one of two Alamo Rangers.

18. An overloaded truck, car, bicycle or other vehicle - This is the only photo not taken on our impromptu trip; I actually found it on one of the Dallas freeways the following weekend.

19. A ticket booth - The movie theater ticket booth inside Rivercenter Mall.

20. A natural body of water - According to our river boat guide, if you follow the San Antonio River south from this point, it'll take you all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

21. A photograph of you with a sign reading "2015 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt" - I had a small printout of this year's list in my pocket as we enjoyed our time in San Antonio. I folded it up so that only the title showed so Robbie could snap this photo of me!

 Alternative A: People eating outside - Most of the restaurants along the River Walk offer outside dining, so this was an easy alternative to find.

Alternative B: Someone holding an umbrella - The weather was absolutely beautiful, but rather warm hot, so I wasn't surprised to find someone sheltering under an umbrella.

Alternative C: A rocking chair -This little grouping along the River Walk looks like a great place to take a break. (You might recognize that chair as the one from #8 above - Robbie pointed it out to me as we were leaving our hotel for the river boat tour. When we passed it again later, it was occupied, so I was able to check off two items in the same spot!)
I had so much FUN hunting for the items on this year's list that I'm challenging myself to find them all again in July! (Thanks for the INSPIRATION to be observant and take photos again this summer, Rinda!) 
Are you participating in the hunt? Which items are you finding the most challenging to locate?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Creative Habit - book review

There are so many good things to say about this book that I hardly know where to start!  The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life is an easy-to-read tome all about how to make creativity a habit.

The basic premise of the book is that "in order to be creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative." The author shares examples based on her life as a choreographer, however the information is relevant for everyone regardless of creative pursuits. I thoroughly enjoyed this look into her life and am impressed with the amount of research, preparation, and work that goes into the choreography for a performance.

I also found this book to be very aesthetically pleasing as the typeface and margins were slightly different than a typical book, which I think is apropros for a book on creativity!

Even the design of the chapter title pages was attractive. I think all the white space symbolizes the openness that's needed in developing new and creative ideas.

My favorite chapter was the one on harnessing memory and how creatives are able to mine their memories for INSPIRATION.  She discusses muscle memory, virtual memory, sensual memory, institutional memory, and ancient memory and how we connect what we are experiencing now with what we've experienced before through metaphor. She asserts that "metaphor is the lifeblood of all art," thus memory is important to creativity.

Each chapter ends with exercises designed to help creatives get out of a rut and be open to new possibilities. A couple of my favorite suggestions are:
(1) spend a week without something (mirrors, clocks, newspapers, etc), and
(2) spend time observing two people interacting and note every interaction, then repeat the observation with two other people and only note the interactions that you find interesting - this reveals judgment and powers of observation as well as how individuals are selective and filter the world through their particular viewpoint.

I am especially intrigued by her exercise of "Reading Archaeologically" - reading backwards in time. For example, start with a modern book on a topic, then read another book that predates that one, and so on, working back to ancient texts. She also recommends reading an author's entire body of work backwards as a different way of seeing and learning about the author's themes, philosophies, and style changes. I definitely want to give this a try - I don't have an author or topic in mind, so I'm open to suggestions (which can be left in the comments below!).

I actually checked this book out from our local library, however it's a book that would be FUN to own because it's worth reading again, highlighting important points, and trying out the various exercises in order to prepare and be creative! I discovered that Twyla Tharp has a new(er) book out, The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together. I definitely want to read this one, too. In The Creative Habit she often mentions how performances involve so many individuals working together, from the choreographer, composer, dancers, and musicians, to the set designers and lighting crew, so I know she'll have wonderful tips for collaboration.

I also did a little research on Twyla Tharp and she is still working today. In fact, her dance company will be performing here in Dallas in September as part of her 50th anniversary tour.

 Have you read this book? Obviously, I highly recommend it if you haven't!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

(More Than) 15-Minute Layouts

Despite the fact that I have a list of my Top Five (photos or stories or events) from the past three months that I want to scrapbook as part of the challenge I set for myself at the beginning of the year, I've recently scrapped three stories from this year that were not on that list! The main goal of my challenge was to help me scrap more of this year's stories during this year, so I'm actually very pleased with myself . . . and still hope to check a few off that Top Five list before the end of the month.

The INSPIRATION for all three of these layouts came from the BPC 15-Minute Layouts class. The assignment for Lesson One in this class, taught by Jamie Waters, is to pull together a kit of supplies to work with in order to create five layouts, each in 15 minutes. I chose not to put together a kit, but simply moved on to Lesson Two, took some notes and drew a sketch while I watched the video of Jamie creating a two-page layout in under 15 minutes, and then flipped through my 2015 Storage Binder to see how I wanted to use that INSPIRATION.

I ended up adapting the assignment and creating two one-page layouts. Each layout took me about 40 minutes. This first layout showcases photos from my trip down to the Houston area to scrap with my friend LeAnne back in April.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know Robbie always send me flowers when I travel overnight without him. These flowers arrived at LeAnne's house shortly after I did, and I loved the way the glass vase was surrounded by colored pencils . . . and the fact that it came with a box of chocolates. I used Robbie's note on the florist card as my title block. I also included a note about 5-year-old Logan's concern when he saw the pencils . . . "Do they have dirt on them?"

The next layout shares the story about replacing our old refrigerator back in February.

Journaling reads: Finally decided to get a new fridge and spent a good bit of time at Lowe's picking it out. It was delivered the next day, but ran so loud we could hear it all over the house. Had a time picking another one since the west coast dock workers were on strike. Then the one I picked out couldn't be delivered until a week later due to an ice storm!

I was inspired by the class materials to use a stencil to create the splotches in the corners, then to add a few sequins, stickers, and brads for dimension.

Lesson Three in the class provided INSPIRATION for a two-photo layout. I pulled a couple of photos that continued the story of Robbie's case of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. trading cards and set to work.

Jamie suggested embellishing the background paper by adding strips of another paper to create stripes. I actually made my stripes by cutting pieces off the bottom of some of the extra trading cards. Each piece has an episode title and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on it. Then I lined the pieces up across the page to create stripes. This rather labor-intensive step insured that this layout took well over an hour to complete.

I'm excited to add these stories to our 2015 chronological album and am thrilled with how quickly they came together (even if I spent way more than 15 minutes on each). How long does it typically take you to create a layout?

Monday, June 22, 2015

From Trash To Treasure

Sitting on our back patio last week, I once again noticed the ceramic sun hanging out there and thought, I really need to throw that thing away. It's just such an eyesore!

Then I thought, well, maybe I should put it in the donation bin because someone else might like it and give it new life with some paint. Oh wait, I thought, I could do that, too!

And so I did. Right then, I grabbed a drop cloth to cover the patio table and found some blue paint in the garage (leftover from the paperback bookshelf unit that Robbie made and I painted years ago). I set to work creating a frame around the sun . . . and immediately began to like this piece again.

Then I started on the sun with some leftover yellow paint that you might recognize as the color of the walls in my craft room.

My objective with this project was simply to have FUN and give this ceramic sun some new life, so I didn't really have a plan when I started and wasn't worried about painting it perfectly. These are some of the points I've been hearing repeated a lot in The Painted Guru Summit interviews I've been enjoying recently - I don't have to know the final outcome when I start, it doesn't have to be perfect, have FUN and enjoy the process.

I was definitely enjoying myself at this point, so I grabbed a few small bottles of paint from my craft room and added some orange and additional yellow to the sun rays. I also highlighted the lips with a peachy color and used the background blue for the eyes.

Robbie suggested a dot of the peachy color to further accentuate the eyes, and I ended up highlighting the eyebrows,too.

All of this took less than two hours, then I let it sit inside overnight so it would dry completely. Robbie had a can of clear Krylon Clear Glaze in his model-making supplies, so the next day I added a clear coat over the entire piece and let it dry overnight again before hanging it back up outside.

So, with just a few supplies that we had on hand and a couple of hours (not counting drying time), I had turned something I considered throwing away into something that makes me smile!

Now the view is much better when I sit out on the patio to read a book or visit with Robbie as he grills.

How's that for acting on INSPIRATION when it strikes!