Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Generous Spirit

Happy cold and blustery Tuesday! The Lord dumped 8" plus of beautiful snow on us last night, and although I am tired of snow - I have to admit it blankets the world with amazing beauty! It also makes me slow down while driving and drink in the gorgeous details of nature.

Our bible study group has been discussing generous living lately, and I thought it was a good topic to bring to light On My Journey. The layout above was created with the wonderful Winter Survival Kit from Homegrown Scrapbooks. My friend, Meri, and her son recently returned from a mission trip in Liberia. She has gone on a number of trips, and both her children have joined her at different times. My sister, her husband and daughter arrived back home last week after a mission trip to Haiti. These people are making an investment in God's kingdom - using their resources and time to obey the command of the Great Commission. By serving the poor and oppressed they can bring the light of Christ and His love to the poorest countries on earth.

Supporting these missionaries for the gospel in prayer and financial has been such a blessing. It allows me to participate in missions when I cannot physically go myself. I love to hear the stories, and how lives are changed.

My friend Meri is also passionate about an orphanage in Malawi, Africa - McKallie's Home of Future and Hope. You can find the link at the lower right corner of my blog to learn more, or make a direct donation. On Feb. 2 several music groups will gather and ofter their talents to God to raise money for Africa and the children. If you live near Cross Plains, WI please stop in to St. Martin's Lutheran Church for an evening of praise, thanksgiving, laughter and a soul lifting experience! Admission is simply a giving from your heart and all goes towards the orphanage.

Speaking of giving...I realized what a giving heart my uncle (who lives next door) has as he swept into our driveway with his bobcat this morning and cleared the snow. He has been doing this for so many years now. With my bad back, and my husband having very early morning work hours, and our driveway being very steep - his generosity to our family is such a blessing. I snapped a few pictures, and realize I need to scrap a page to preserve the memory of all he has done for us.

Is there someone in your life that continually shows an act of kindness? Sometimes we take these acts for granted, but perhaps they are overlooked on our scrapbook pages. I challenge you to scrap a page about an act or person who is making a difference in your life - the unsung hero, so to speak. Please share your creations with me afterwards!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

Today was just one of those days where the beauty of nature made your jaw drop. Any time spent outdoors today just made me realize what an awesome artist God is. The plant life, from smallest weed to tallest tree, glistened with a fresh dusting of snow and warming temperatures that produced ice crystals. This morning all I really wanted to do on the way to work was to stop the car and snap photos. I did have my camera, but forgot my boots. Believe me, with all the snow we have had this year, boots are imperative to get to the places I wanted to go, and still show up resepctively dry for work.

I kept an eye on the skies today - no sun would mean the pristine beauty would remain for the day. I got home, and did something I have been meaning to do for some time. I painted a piece of cardboard black. I needed to wait a few for the bus to bring my helper home from his school day. When Kyle arrived my boots and coat were on, and he reluctantly agreed to be my assistant as we headed up the hill to take photos. We did not need to go as far as I thought we might before God gave us plantlife worthy of photographing in it's winter dressed splendor.

Can you see why I wanted a piece of black cardboard? The one thing I did learn was that I need something larger than 12x12. (LOL)
Even the scrawniest, lowest of plant life - weeds, can become a canvas for the Master Artist to wow us with His creation.

I took so many photos today. Some, although composition was very cool, were a bit blurry - and I pray that tomorrow the beauty will still be around for me. This time I shall trek out of doors with my tripod.

Did I mention I got stuck? I almost lost my boot, and it was actually pretty comical! To get the red berries I climbed down a ditch into some pretty deep snow. Because the snow was so mushy my boots sunk in almost knee high, and the snow and ice just packed in around my feet. I was pretty stuck. I couldn't really brace myself with my arms for leverage, as they would just sink down into the 18" or so of snow on the bank. I did figure, that since I was stuck, I may as well sit down and get a vantage point of the branch from underneath. Oh, was I cold and wet when I was done taking my 10 or so pictures to get that one gorgeous shot!

When I was "finally done" (Kyle's words, not mine) my strong, young men helped give me some leverage and balance so I could work my feet into breaking free from their icey stronghold.

We took a path less travelled home, because of course I wanted new photo opportunities. We met a curious friend along the way.

Now you know the Beast. (LOL)
SO hey, have snow? Here is a photo challenge for you... Watch for those pristine winter moments, take a stiff, black backdrop of some sort with you - and head outdoors with your camera and take some "blackdrop" nature photography. Sure, a nice blue sky background is always nice, but the black... I have to say - it seems rather stunning. I set my camera on different modes - automatic, portrait, and as it became dusk, the night sky setting as well.
No snow? No problem! I have done this with flowers as well. I used to use Bazzill cardstock, but I would rather lose a piece of cardboard to the elements, or what have you. I would love for you to shout out and show me your captured blackdrop photo with a link or an email. Take a little helper along with you - and instill in them a love for nature's beauty, and photography. My son may grumble a bit when he would rather be playing a computer game, but as I see him playing with the camera - I see the budding photographer in him, and it just makes me smile.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Praise God for Creativity!

What a day! Well, actually what a week and I am coming down with a good sinus cold as well. This is one of the most stressful times of the year at work, right on the tail end of Christmas, which is the another stressful time for church staff. It is end of year report time. Annual meeting is coming up and I have lots to do to get ready for it, but much of what I need to do is dependent upon others. Let's just say deadlines are made to be broken, which means I "enjoy" high stress trying to pump something out last minute. I keep thinking it will get better every year...always hopeful I guess. But thank God for the gift of creativity - what a great stress releiver it is!

Above is a layout I created from
's Winter Survival Kit. I have always loved that photo, taken a couple of years ago and in one of Abby's almost complete albums. The complete instructions, plus a sketch will be posted at Homegrown on the 13th. I think getting how to instructions from the kit designers to make available for readers/subscribers is very cool. Be sure to check it out in another week or so for directions on this layout and lots more.

I finished my third layout for week one of WSK. Today I came home to work on a home decor holiday project for which I had a eureka moment about a week ago. It is coming along just splendid and I am having fun. It involves Scenic Route, bling and Super T stamps - what a great combo! I hope to have this done soon and will be sharing it right here. The project itself was inspired by my ten year old and his desire to leave healthy snacks for Santa every Christmas eve. (LOL)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A little something to toot about

Adding on to my Sunday post, because having a layout picked up for publication is always exciting.

I have two toots from the past 48 hours, which is nice after hearing some calls went out for an issue I was hoping to get something picked up for. Stampington and Co. has requested In Daddy's Arms to appear in Life's Images. Just this morning Scrapbook Dimensions contacted me about a layout, Eyes, for their upcoming February issue! I have no idea how a magazine can whip out a magazine so quickly, but I sent off my hi-res file immediately.

An editor from Memory Makers tipped me off about an on line file sharing service caleld You Send It. It is invaluable in sending 300 dpi layout files off to editors for publication, as my computer seems to balk at those huge files. We also learned that zipping a jpeg file has very little effect on it's overall size. Keep this in mind should you ever need to send out a large file!

To celebrate these toots my family is taking care of dinner tonight. Our son offered to scramble eggs for us, but we opted to order in Chinese. By the way, my family totally questions where we scrappers came up with the phrase "toot". If you are a pre-schooler, toot has a whole 'nother meaning than what we are referring to! (LOL) I explained that it is in reference to "tooting your own horn", still - they think it is odd we are proud to "toot", when around here it usually is followed by an "excuse me" and a giggle.

Also, this week please keep my sister Teresa and her husband Dale in prayer. They flew out Friday for what is becoming an annual trip to Haiti for missionary work. They always hope to see the children they sponsor and see how they are faring. Please pray for safety, health and joy in doing God's work.

Make Time for Friends

Relationships are important. God made us to be in relationship with Him and with others. We are created for community. This layout, created for the 3Bugs in a Rug design team sponsorship at the Scrapbook Playground this month, celebrates a relationship I have with two special ladies.

I know there are things I need to do in my life, and one of them is making time for friendships. Before I got so busy scrapbooking - I remember afternoons hanging out at the neighbors and just visiting a bit. Sure, our children are growing and we are all running around more - everyone has become more busy. We don't see our friends and neighbors near as much as we used to.

With the change of church homes in 2007 one of my great concerns is losing touch with friends we have made. I am fortunate that I am able to meet with two of those special friends every 2nd Saturday morning of the month. I love these women with all my heart and am honored to be a part of their lives. Together we share what is going on. There is some venting, sometimes tears, excitement and dreams shared. We are there for one another, and I cherish our mornings over coffee.

Another friendship I value is that of my "old" room mate (she is actually a baby compared to me). (LOL) Lisa and her husband stood up for us in our wedding. With the birth of two children each, and they with a special needs child - there has been no time to maintain our friendship. I miss those days of being young, relatively worry free and oh how we would laugh! My friend has the best laugh, and has a great sense of humor despite all she goes through. This past fall I suggested we get together once a month at the coffee shop in town. She began working at home, and I have an hour or so window between work and my having to pick up our daughter. Our hour together just flies by - but it is good to get together and laugh again. I need to scrap about our relationship, too.

I want to spend more time with the neighbor ladies this year as well. We have a unique neighborhood - we watch out for one another, help in need, our kids are growing up together. I am not sure this happens much any longer in suburban America. Last night neighbors invited us over for an impromptu dinner and to play games - what a treat! We have not been diligent in keeping our schedule, but I also suggested us ladies meet at the coffee shop once a month (how convenient to have a shop in town now to sit and chat over a cup of whatever!). For 2008 I want to make sure we keep that hour get together - I value these ladies friendships and want to know what is going on in their life. AND I need to scrap about these memorable friendships as well! I will share them as I get them done.

We are all on a journey together, and I hope that you find time to share your journey with those important to you in 2008. Consider how you might work a special visit in to your scheudle with someone you miss.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Peace...it is what we all seek just a little bit of in this hectic world. I resolve to find time for PEACE in my day in 2008. True peace only comes through having relationship with the Lord, and we find this state of being when we enter into His presence, through prayer and in His word. This layout is dedicated to this new year's resolution. I love it so much I just want to hang it on my wall!

I have to give a shout out to Mique Walcutt, a newer designer at K-joi Studios.com. Her products are fantastic - there is so much texture and dimension offered, which is not always prevalent in digital layout products. Mique has a quick page offering for only $2 0- for those of you who are hesitant to try digital scrapbooking, all you have to do is pop a photo(s) into the frames on the quick pages.
You can find these templates here, and check out Mique's other great product offerings.
Winter Flannel by Mique Walcutt
Peace was created using her new Winter Flannel collection - I fell in love with this kit as soon as I saw it. I love blues for winter layouts, and I loved all the fabric, stitching and elements to go with.

This month I have a LOAD of design team projects to do, and I am checking them off by order of due date. I created Peace and another (check out the gallery), Moody BLues for my January creative team assignments at Kjoi Studios. I am almost done with my start of year scrap space reorganizing, and have only one layout left for the 3Bugs sponsorship at Scrapbook Playground. Keep an eye on the SBPG gallery to see what the design team will be uploading on Sunday, the 5th!

Then it is on to playing with all my Homegrown products - three layouts due by January 12 - but I can do it! I have everything organized and created an Excel spreadsheet with my layout titles and ideas for the entire Winter Survival Kit DT Schedule. Now, off to create, or do some laundry perhaps...it is Saturday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Homegrown Survival Boggles!!!

Today I stopped at Michael's to use my 50% coupon - always up for organization products. Shortly thereafter I arrive home to find a heavy box in my mailbox - from Homegrown! What timing! I had been asked a few months ago if I would be interested in being a guest designer for the Winter Survival Kit - how could I resist!? I have been drooling over Homegrown kits since I learned about them from my new 2007 friends - Steph and Melissa. I am so honored to be asked, and to be in the company of the talented Kim Moreno (also a WSK guest designer), and all the gifted designers who create monthly for Homegrown.

I dropped my afternoon plans and proceeded to organize everything and split it into craft keepers by theme, colors and layout ideas swimming inside my head. There was a little drooling going on in between organizing. I am so excited I just have to share with you, some not so hot photos of what I got - but you will get the idea. I just cleared 3 slots in my vertical organizer unit so I can keep all the Homegrown craft keepers together.

The first picture is a grouping of winter theme papers by Heidi Grace Designs, BoBunny and a die-cut snowflake by Rhonna Farrer. Aren't these lovely? (trust me, IRL these iridescent beautieis take your breath away!) I have been eyeing the Heidi Grace papers at the store, but flocked, glittered and embossed paper prices are not in my budget to splurge on - so I am so HAPPY to have received these.

I have never worked with Collage Press products before. These two sided sheets of cardstock weight papers really impressed me. Wonderful weight and instant inspiration. I have a couple of LO ideas and am already on the trail of some photos.

And nothing goes POP like KI Pop Culture!! Check out these fantastic kit papers! I thought I would only be able to afford to drool over these in the store, and now I get to play with them!

Creative Imaginations, Reminisce, Bazzil Cardstock and Hambly round out my 12x12 sheets. Have I mentioned how much I love the red, black and white or cream color combo? Mojo is churning for these papers as well!

To round out the Winter Survival Kit was a generous portion of embellishments. Wanna see?

Notice anything in particular? Well, first thing I did was pick up the grunge board by Tim Holtz and feel it. Then I took a deep breath and inhaled - it smells so good too! I cannot wait to play with all the rub-ons, grungeboard, brads, buttons, ribbon (missed a baggie full of ribbon and such in there), flowers, red Stickles, letter stickers - overwhelmingly HAPPY I am! (LOL)

Be sure to check out Homegrown to see what myself and the other designers create. If memory serves, we will begin to upload our Winter Survival layouts on January 23. There will also be instructions - so you can recreate. How is that for survival service? Come see us at Homegrown soon, and tell Steph Rita sent ya.