Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Free Online Class from Jessica Sprague: Holidays in Hand

With all the upcoming To-Dos" of the Holidays--be it Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa (or even Thanksgiving which is just three weeks away...gasp!)--we can forget the real reason why we celebrate. 

Through this free online class, Jessica Sprague will show us how to focus on the most important aspects of our celebrations as we experience them this year and how to capture our stories of "Christmases Past."

Jessica is an amazing photographer and digital/hybrid scrapbooker who teaches others how to do what she does. She has a team of talented people who offer many great online classes ranging from Photography to Digital/Hybrid Scrapbooking to Photoshop Techniques.

I had the opportunity to participate in one of her free classes last November called Stories in Hand.  I will tell you more about it in tomorrow's post.  It was a great class that gave me a cute binder filled with hundreds of questions that sparked memories of the stories I have to tell.  

Follow the instructions at Holidays in Hand and register for this awesome class (I know it will be!).  Prepare to experience your Holidays in a way you never have before and keep them in hand.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Beautiful Giveaway: Handmade Jewelry

While visiting my favorite mommy blog, SimpleMom, I discovered a beautiful giveaway.  She loves these simple yet feminine pieces made by Lisa Leonard.

Lisa has been making jewelry since high school, but decided to turn her craft into a small business so she could stay home with her two precious boys.  Many of us have done that as well (or are looking to do that very thing now) through various outlets:  marketing our talents, joining a direct sales company, freelancing and consulting, etc.

I am inspired reading stories of other moms who take initiative to earn a living doing what they love and be home with their children.  Not all of us have that option nor desire it, and that's okay.  We all have a different purpose for which we were created.  

Check out Lisa's beautiful, handcrafted jewelry.  She is giving away three $50 gift certificates to use at her online store.  All you need to do is click on the link I've provided above and follow the instructions in SimpleMom's post.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Unique Card

I made the following today for a card swap with fellow Stampin' Up! Demonstrators. It was rather simple, and good thing too, because I procrastinated and had to make 10. It took me a couple hours to complete. Not bad! You will find the product list and instructions below. Also, this card was inspired by my upline, Judy Christensen. I made a similar birthday card at one of her workshops. Thanks Judy for all the great ideas!!

Here is a picture of the inside.

All products used are Stampin' Up:

Big Shot
Textured Impressions Manhattan Flower Embossing Folder
Bigz Top Note
1 3/8" Circle Punch
Crop-a-dile (1/8" punch)
Melon Mambo card stock (8.5 x 11)
Whisper White card stock (8.5 x 11)
Melon Mambo marker
Define Your Life stamp set (Unique)
Bermuda Bay Grosgrain Ribbon (14" long)
Hemp Twine (3" long)
Mono Adhesive

The Melon Mambo card stock was cut lengthwise so the card could be opened to the right, as shown. Follow the directions on the insert with the Manhattan Flower Embossing Folder (except you will need to use Tab 1 on the Multipurpose Platform not Tab 2 as instructed).

Cut the Whisper White card stock into 4 pieces (each 4.25" x 5.5"). I stacked three pieces on the Bigz Top Note die to save time, since I was making so many. It worked! Adhere die cut to inside of card with Mono adhesive.

Use the Melon Mambo marker to color the word "unique" then stamp on a 2" strip of Whisper White and punch out with the 1 3/8" circle punch. Use the Crop-a-dile to punch a 1/8" hole at the top of the circle.

Wrap Bermuda Bay ribbon around the top left side of card and tie a square knot. Next, tie the Hemp twine around the Bermuda Bay ribbon close to the knot. Trim excess on ribbon and twine. Voila! You now have a card for almost any occasion.

If you do not have a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator and would like to purchase these products (or any others) to make your family, friends, neighbors, etc. feel special with a handmade card, then email me with your contact information and I will be happy to help you.

Happy Crafting!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Where Are the Crafts?!

I imagine you're wondering where all my crafts are hiding. I'm sure you've searched my posts looking for some bit of inspiration or talent. Found it? No?! Me neither.

While I've been making lots of things each month, thanks to my Stampin' Up! Demonstrator's workshops, I haven't been photographing or posting my glorious works of art. The forever procrastinator lives on!

I plan for that to change soon since I signed up to be a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator a couple months ago. (My hubby was very ill for two months so I put my blogging aside while taking care of him and everything else as usual. He's back to normal, Praise God!)

One of my newly turned leaves is to use "snail mail" more when communicating with family and friends. Don't you just love getting a card or letter from a loved one?! My heart skips a beat seeing a handwritten letter much more than an email in my Yahoo inbox.

Below is a thank you card I made recently and sent out to a friend who provided dinner for us when my husband came home from the hospital.

How about you? Do you think our society needs to get back to handwritten notes? Or maybe you prefer the convenience of email more? Share your thoughts.

Monday, April 27, 2009

5 Minutes for Mom's Mother's Day Giveaway 2009

Get on over to 5 Minutes for Mom and register to win lots of great stuff: a laptop, designer purses, a digital camera, a Blu-Ray player and more!

You deserve it. You are a great mom so treat yourself right. Get a cup of coffee or tea or Dr. Pepper or Diet Coke or margarita...whatever is your favorite beverage...and enjoy some "me" time, however brief it may be. ;)

Blessings to all of you and have a very Happy Mother's Day!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I love Spring! It's my most favorite season. Everything is turning green. Flowers burst from the ground. The birds seems to sing a happier tune. New life can be seen and heard everywhere. My kids and I especially like to see the calves in the field with their mothers. So cute!

While I enjoy all that God's creation has to show, I also realize how long it's been since I last dusted my blinds or cleaned out my fridge. Probably before our Christmas party?! [Shiver...that can be scary] With so much on my plate it seems I don't actually clean my blinds until we have people over. And the fridge? Let me check for any unauthorized experiments and I'll get back to you.

I only think about cleaning my blinds when I open and close them. Aren't we all that way? Please tell me someone else out there groans at the layer on theirs too.

First thing in the morning will not work because I cannot function without my coffee. No cleaning will be happening until then. (Unless the puppy happens to leave me a present, then I have to bleach the floor. This makes for a grumpy wife and mother sometimes.) And who wants to dust at the end of the day?! In the evening I'm ready to settle down and watch a show with my husband. I tell myself I'll do it tomorrow, but I know this is not true. It's really not a priority for me compared to the other more "urgent" needs of husband, children/schooling, pets, business, etc.

There are other spots in my house that need tending to as well that get put off just like the blinds. Realizing there is so much undone has me thinking I need to get superorganized. I'm talking about labeling everything (okay, maybe not the kids or pets), providing a household notebook with specific instructions for each task, keeping a calendar on the fridge and defining spaces for all our stuff.

This will either increase my OCD tendencies and I will freak out when all goes awry or it will bring me freedom as my family takes more ownership and doesn't have to ask me where things are located. I'm rooting for the latter because otherwise I end up crying while cleaning puppy accidents for the 1000th time and chanting "I'm cleaning the pee for Jesus. I'm cleaning the pee for Jesus."

(For those of you scratching your heads over that one: it's from Colossians 3:23--do everything as if you are working for the Lord. It helps me get through a lot when I would otherwise rant at my family.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pet Peeve: Personal Space Invaders

Taking a cue from a fellow mom blogger, I decided to be more transparent and share some of my neurosis. This is by no means the worst I have done. I am getting better about holding my tongue. Until it's absolutely necessary not to.

Those of you who know me will be thinking, Yep, that sounds like Melanie. Thank you if you think that and still love me. I love you back!!

I hate personal space invaders. (I feel guilty using the word "hate" when referring to other people but sometimes it just can't be helped.) You know who they are. They're usually in a hurry with a loaded cart talking on their cell phones. They're close enough to be able to tell if you showered that day, wore deodorant and perfume, and if your roots need done. I actually feel homicidal when these people get behind me. I tend to lose my religion. If my husband is with me and senses the volcano is about to erupt, he gets between me and the offender to ward off any impending violence.

Note: If Daniel Craig or Zac Efron were behind me, the personal space rules do not apply and please, let it not be after I've just worked out.

The most recent incident of a personal space invader was at the animal clinic last Wednesday. The clinic/shelter was remodeling and didn't want any walk-in traffic so they locked the door. Whoever was last in line opened it for the next person arriving to pick up their pets from surgery.

Said offender was the last one there and I kindly let her in. She proceeded to stand right behind me--we're talking a matter of inches, like less than six--and talk on her cell phone, loudly, I might add. They usually do. I did not move immediately because then I would be invading the personal space of the woman in front of me. I was annoyed but tried to let it go and talk to my daughter while we waited.

That didn't work.

I then made a point to step back and lean toward her in the hopes my non-verbal attempt would tell her "You need to back up." She wasn't smart enough to get the hint. So,I decided to move up to get my space back. Every time I moved up she moved up. I eventually broke my own rule and moved up closer to the woman in front of me.

You guessed it...she was on my heels. I stepped out of line, turned around and said, "Would you like to go in front of me?" She looked at me dumbstruck so I repeated myself as I motioned forward, "You can go ahead of me." She first looked happy but then must have seen the look on my face.

This was when she questioned me. I told her she was standing right on top of me. I told her I don't like it when people are in my personal space. And, yes, I did the hand motions like Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing when he's teaching Jennifer Grey how to dance.

All the while, I was calm. I realize some of you will not believe me. To you, I say: pbbbbbth!!!!

What she said next still has me baffled. "Well, I've had the worst day." I can't figure out what that has to do with me offering my spot in line to get her off my back. She refused to move up and then proceeded to huff and puff and carry on. But, guess what, she stayed back.

I had to laugh...though only in my head so as not to antagonize her further. She couldn't stop though. I began to wonder if she had a hairball for all her sputtering.

I have yet to think of a snappy, to-the-point, one-liner for these invaders. When someone is staring at you, there's the old stand-by: "Take a picture; it'll last longer." But what do you say to someone who insists on breathing down your neck, bumping into you with their cart or yakking in your ear? Seriously, any advice will be stockpiled like ammo.

While you're pondering, read this post from the aforementioned mom blogger who shares my sensibility.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eroding Parental Rights

No doubt you've heard of the ruling in North Carolina where a judge (that's Judge Ned Mangum of Wake County) forced a mother to send her children to public school for his personal agenda and thereby sided with the adulterous father.

A judge do that in America?! No, say it ain't so!

It sets a scary precedent if not overturned. You may recall just last year a similar situation in California that threatened the rights of homeschooling parents statewide and distressed the rest of us across the nation. The court wisely reversed their decision, Praise God! They recognized the parent has a right to educate as he/she sees fit as long as the child is not abused or neglected. Why is there always some bonehead judge out there who doesn't take a hint and thinks he can do it better?

Read Patrice Lewis' perspective, a columnist for WorldNetDaily, in Playing God with Homeschoolers. She gives a satirical voice to the lunacy of the North Carolina ruling. Can you imagine the lobbyists that would be up in arms if a judge ordered a public school child to be homeschooled against his or her parents' wishes? Stop the presses!

What's next? How we choose to feed our children--genetically modified, pesticide-coated, animal by-product crap or homegrown organic fruit and veggies and real, straight-from-the-farm meats? How about whether they take medicine pushed by pharmaceutical companies or receive all-natural, homeopathic health care? You know it's only a matter of time.

I urge you, as Patrice does, contact this judge and respectfully let him know what you think.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Get in Shape with a Friend!

Wanting to get in shape for a long time now, I finally joined 24 Hour Fitness. The kids and I had been walking the dog for 20 or 30 minutes a few times a week before lunch (though the goal was everyday), but with no regularity. On Valentine's Day my hubby took me with him because they had a free 2-week pass.

He's been going for a year and looks great. He weighs less than when we got married. I know this because his wedding ring kept falling off and thought it was lost for good after our Christmas trip to Indiana. He lost it while packing so we figured it had to be in the luggage but couldn't find it after returning home. A week or so later, it turned up in one of the duffel bags. He got it resized and it fits perfectly again.

All of this brought out the green-eyed monster. I began to get concerned. I'm not getting any younger you know and it only gets harder the older one gets to take off the pounds. Thank the Lord for a friend who was wanting to get in shape too. We started walking together first. Now that I have a membership, we work out a few days a week.

Today, we tried the Turbo Kick Box class. OH MY!! Great workout...though I realized how uncoordinated I am. My sister is the dancer in our family. She can pick up moves like that. I'm so clever, I decided to stand at the back of the room to hide. I forgot an important fact: everyone on the gym floor can see what I'm doing because of the huge window at the back of the room. It was comical for several people, I have no doubt.

Hint: always take a friend who has no idea what she is doing either. Then you both can laugh at yourselves and each other.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Keeping My Resolutions: Organizing 15 Minutes a Day

I've got to get organized! I've got to get organized!

Does this sound familiar? Most of us have this mantra running through our brains when the New Year arrives. But for me it's everyday, regardless of the time of year. I'm still working on completing my office/school/craft room.

I started on it when we moved in July 2006.

I do find, however, I get energized about organizing again while I'm making all my other resolutions. It's like the year is a clean slate. I can wipe away all I didn't accomplish previously and begin anew.

But I don't need to wait for a new year. I've discovered I have a blank palette each new day.

Whether it's one 15-minute organizing session or several throughout the day, I feel great about sprucing my space in such a short amount of time. It's easier for me to feel good about my home and myself when I break tasks down into manageable steps. If I've accomplished at least one task on my list, then I give myself permission to let the rest go. Understand, this is not anywhere near easy to do.

Hello, my name is Melanie and I'm a recovering procrastinating perfectionist.

I have ADHD and am OCD. I self-medicate with Starbucks and Dr. Pepper while pouring over awesome blogs like SimpleMom and Nesting Place. When my husband attempts to help, I sound like Rainman, mumbling and shouting. What'd you do with my stuff? Where's my stuff? I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH MY STUFF!!

He rarely does this anymore.

I don't think 15 minutes is a magical number. You can do it for 5 or 30 minutes. What's important is giving yourself a time limit and praising yourself when you're done. Be careful not to look at every other cluttered space and beat yourself up. Nester has great advice on this here.

She has numerous examples of how she tried something that didn't work and moved on to the next idea. (I think all her ideas are great and want to be her when I grow up.) But she's right--just like her blog states--"it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful" and there's no wrong way to get it done.

Your home is a reflection of you so make it what you want it to be. If it doesn't work for you, try again; it's your space. Own it. Make a plan of attack and stick to it. Your home will look great and clutter-free in no time.

Now, if only I could figure out how to keep the family from using it.

How about you? Do you have any tips on getting organized?

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Sound Mind, Sound Mom" Book Club

simple mom book club

What a great idea! I've often thought of joining or starting a book club in my local coffee shop or bookstore, but really, who has the time? Between homeschooling my children, running a home business, being wife and mom, and making time for myself once or twice a month with girlfriends, I just don't want to take the time to be away another night.

That's why this book club is so great. Every Thursday you go to the forum to discuss the chapter you just read. Tsh asks questions, as well as those in the forum. This online community is nice too because Tsh doesn't put up with any of the negativity or attacks you find on other forums. She'll delete ya right off the page; so watch what you type! (I'm assuming this; don't know it from personal experience. Yes, I know this will be hard for some of you to believe.)

I love hearing others' perspectives. I learn things I didn't know, find challenges to my current thinking or get the opportunity to share why I believe/think/care...the way I do. Plus, I find out how many women really are going through the same things and I'm not alone.

Check out SimpleMom's book club. We're currently reading Your Money or Your Life. Great place to start with the current economy. Hope to see ya...er, read ya, in the forum.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Keeping My Resolutions: Christmas Cards

I know, I know. You're thinking Christmas cards?! What?! Bear with me.

One of my resolutions is to procrastinate no longer. That means planning ahead for things I want to accomplish and giving myself more time than I think I need because I always end up getting that part wrong and then staying up til the wee hours day after day after day....

The last three years I have made my cards. Stampin' Up! is my favorite stamp company. I purchase everything I need to make 20-40 cards for family and friends. I really enjoy it but end up never giving myself enough time and I'm rushing at the last minute. I was up til 2am (more than one night) finishing them so I could get them mailed out four days before Christmas. Crazy!!

By the way, here it is:

I was so disappointed in myself that it actually fueled my determination to stop telling myself "I'll do it later." Realizing it was not as quick and easy as I had believed, I decided to copy an idea from a fellow stamper. She makes a certain number of cards each month over the year so that when Thanksgiving rolls around they are completed and ready to mail out. Great idea!!

Here's my plan:

January - order supplies and gather addresses.
February - cut all cardstock, ribbon, etc. then stamp images.
March through November - assemble five cards each month and place in stamped envelopes.
December - address and mail out cards the first week. Rejoice in a job well done!

How about you? Is there something you believe you could have done better and are determined to transform this year? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

100 Things

RULES: There are 100 statements and you bold the ones you have done. Grab it and play for yourself!!

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Had stitches
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept in an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (solar)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten cavier
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (Does fish count??)
88. Had chicken pox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Monday, January 12, 2009

Keeping My Resolutions

In this post you will find some of my new favorite sites that are helping me keep one of my resolutions for the New Year: to reduce clutter and stay organized. The clutter has been taking over certain areas of my home for far too long. I am determined to procrastinate no longer and get in gear.

Thanks to some enterprising and ingenious folks, I am on my way to keeping this yearly resolution with the following widgets, sites, etc. (I found these in the January issues of Real Simple and Better Homes & Gardens.)

Better Homes & Gardens Recipe Widget

This widget helps you find recipes, plan meals for one day or one week, creates a shopping list based on the recipes you choose and even finds coupons for you to use at your local grocery store.

You can also visit BHG.com/cozi for an awesome calendar that helps busy families keep up with all the appointments, extracurricular activities, to-do lists, even photos and more.


This website is great if you seem to only remember things to do while doing something else. I suffer from this almost constantly. It's why I keep a notebook with me everywhere it seems but then I have a gazillion "lists" in several notebooks. Not conducive to reducing clutter and staying organized.

Anyway, my favorite feature about Jott.com is that it turns your voicemail into text that it then sends to you when you tell it. So if I remember a long grocery list while driving (which always seems to happen), I don't have to hope and pray for a red light to type it into my phone. I simply call the toll free number, leave my list then it transcribes my words into a text and sends it to me when I need it. How cool is that! Are you as excited as I am right now?!


I have all kinds of piles...mostly stacked in my office/craft/school room. I usually know what's in them but am overwhelmed by the clutter. I have a condition that causes me to keep magazines, even from two, three, dare I say four years ago because I am sure I will forget some idea I saw or moving article I read that must be immortalized.

I have given away many to various people because I cannot just throw them away. I have to know they're going to a good home. And when I do give or throw (gasp!!!) them away, I keep a record of my favorite ideas in a separate notebook so there is still paper to stack, file, save....

With evernote, I can stop being so OCD and let the paper go because it will store it for me online: recipes, articles, etc. No more print outs because I might not remember it later. Similar to Jott.com, it will create checklists for me. It will even store "clips" with its Webclipper.

I am sure there are many more wonderful sites like these out there. I have offered just a few of my faves. I hope they encourage, inspire and motivate you to reduce clutter and stay organized.

By the way, I will be offering a weekly post about keeping resolutions so look for it every Monday. My goal is to keep myself accountable (no more procrastination), learn from and possibly inspire some of you. Please share your New Year's Resolutions and what you are doing to keep them.