Andrea's blog

2

Gods in Alabama

Ben came home from a Tuesday lunch at Disciples Fellowship a few weeks ago with an author recommendation.  Apparently, one of the people at DF has a famous sister, fiction author, Joshilyn Jackson.  So I went online, reserved all three of her books from the library, and I've been hooked ever since. 
 
I started with Gods in Alabama which was her first novel.  From the very first paragraph, I was enthralled.  It's one of those books you don't want to put down, and you go back and re-read sentences because they're so cleverly written, you want to be sure you caught it all.  (I don't do that much, I'm more of a speed-reader and skimmer).  
 
The characters are wonderfully well developed and described through the eyes of a main character, Arlene (or Lena).  You get her perspective and see the world through her eyes as she goes back to face her quirky southern family and a secret that has kept her from returning home for 10 years.  
 
It's good stuff.  A definite reccomend.  Now I'm reading her next novel, Between, Georgia
 
Note: The language and content is a little rough, so I'd rate it "R".  
 
Also, if your book club would like to read one of her books, and you have access to a speaker phone, you can talk directly with the author about her book!  Very cool.
 
 
6

Daisy Apron

I made one of these child-sized aprons for a little girl's birthday present a few weeks ago (whose name also happens to be Ayla), and had bought a few extra aprons at half-off (Hobby Lobby, $3.00 regular price).  So this afternoon, Ayla and I painted another super-cute daisy apron for her.  Then instead of painting letters (which I did last time, and was pretty hard to do), I used Heidi Swapp iron-on fuzzy script letters.  It worked perfectly! Now she has a great little personalized apron for when she's helping us "cook".
 

 
 
3

7 Gypsies Project Video Demonstration

 

I didn’t get to teach the 7 Gypsies mini-book project at Scrap Etc. 08 as planned, so I thought I’d put together a kit on video so anyone who wanted to see how it was done, would have the chance to see it. Couple of things before you watch the video:

 

  • You'll have to watch it upside-down...sorry. I'd love a setup where I could do an over-the-shoulder view, but my attempts at it didn't go well.
  • I didn’t have the two small pieces of patterned paper that go on the inner two pages in my kit. Missed those somehow. But, if you have those, that’s what they’re for. Just ink ‘em and stick ‘em down!
  • The inner pages are made from cardstock that I had in my stash. These also were not included in the kits that were passed out at the Event. There are two pieces and they should each be cut to 8 ½” x 4 ½”.
  • There’s no sound on my video because I don’t feel right about adding music that I don’t have the publishing rights to. So, stick a CD in your computer and blast it if you need background music while you watch.
  • The video is shown in 4X speed…the entire project takes about 15 minutes to create, but you can watch it in fast-forward in only 4 minutes. Ahh the magic of technology.
  • I did not design the mini-book...a designer from 7Gypsies is the genious behind the design. So I can't take credit for any cute-ness! :)
 
Here are photos of the finished project:
 
 
 
 
1

More Scrap Etc. Pictures

I just bought four photos from Elizabeth Bailey (our official Scrap Etc. photographer) that totally define my weekend and show me working my booty off...although amazingly, I look pretty happy doing it!

Thursday I was assigned a registration table, so Paige and I registered all the last names starting with Q through Z. That's Paige in the background....and it looks like she's working harder than me at that moment. Throughout the day I got very good at saying the following:

"You are in group 'A' and this is your schedule for the weekend in the back of your lanyard. You're an early bird, so you'll be taking the Creative Cafe class on Friday night. This is your ticket. Be sure to bring it with you to the class. Your Q & A session with the teachers is tonight after our opening ceremonies, which begins at 6:00 in Tennessee C. Here is your bag and shirt. I think you're all set!"

 

 

Then Friday and Saturday, I could be found walking up and down the aisles of our classroom with Group A. I'm just glad to see that i'm smiling in this pictgure, and I don't look as exhausted as I probably was. Well, the photo was taken during our second class on Friday, so that was when I had more energy! We helped everyone make sure they had all the pieces for their kits, picked up trash, and answered questions during each class.

 

And then there was Saturday night at the SNL (Saturday Night Layouts) fiasco. This huddle photo was taken as I was frantically trying to gather together 15 people to pass out the individual pieces of the 7Gypsies mini-book project that I was supposed to teach. The smile on my face is because we had just made the decision that we would pass it out, and I would show the project, but I did not have to go through creating it step-by-step...there just wasn't time. Which was okay with me! I probably would have completely made a mess of the whole thing. Maybe I'll do a video for my blog about how to make it...and that will make up for not getting to do it in person for everyone.

 

 

Can i just say once again that I LOVE these ladies? Everyone worked so hard, and no matter how much we complained to each other about how tired we were and how hungry, and how dilirious, it never stopped us from going the extra mile to help one of the attendees with anything they needed. Three cheers for the volunteers!

 

All of Elizabeth's photos were fantastic, and I'm proud to say she was my roomie for the weekend and she definitely worked harder than I did, since she was helping in classes, taking photos, and working the register at the store. Whew!

The full gallery of Elizabeth's pictures, available for purchase ($1.99 per image) can be seen here: E Bailey Photography Scrap Etc. Gallery

Thanks Elizabeth!

5

Scrap Etc. 2008 - Recap

Ever wonder what it looks like to have 600 scrapbookers in one room? Very pink. And slightly intimidating. But, by the end of the weekend, I think maybe I spoke to every single one of them!
 
Scrap Etc. 2008 was exhausting, fun, exciting, inspiring, and then even more exhausting. I was a group leader of one of the 4 groups of ladies who attended in the event. So, let me shout out to all my Group A girls...they were patient, friendly, silly, cooperative, and all so talented. But I could not have led them at all without Molly, Carol and Tracy, who kept me on track and were absolutely indespensible.
 
 
 
We enjoyed classes by Heidi Swapp, Gretchen McElveen, Jenni Bowlin, Monique McLean, Vanessa Hudson, Wilna Furstenberg, and Angelia Wiggington. I came home with a small truckload of scrapbook products and kits to make all kinds of fantastic projects that these ladies shared with us.
 
 
I ended up not having to present my 7 Gypsies class on Saturday night, because we ran out of time, but I did stand in front of that massive group of people and show them the finished project. But by that time, I'd been to every table answering questions, handing out kit products, and it felt like I was talking to an old group of friends. It was no sweat at all... So maybe I'm ready to become a convention teacher---hmm...maybe not quite yet.
 
 
I won't bore you with every detail of the weekend, because, let's face it, if you weren't there, it can't be recreated. But, I will leave you with a list of 30 things I learned while at Scrap Etc. 2008.
  1. How to make a paper accordion flower (thank you Jenni).
  2. That a class will go on, even if everyone's rub-ons are faulty.
  3. No matter what it is, food tastes fantastic when you are starving.
  4. I can function on only 4 hours of sleep...but it's a little foggy!
  5. The next time I take a creative class, I want to be the "rebel" and make the project my own...those turned out the coolest!
  6. I like being in charge of people and organizing activities.
  7. Tennis shoes are much smarter when you'll be standing and walking for 17 hours a day.
  8. Microphones aren't as scary as I thought they were.
  9. Trying to give 600 people instructions at one time in one large room is VERY difficult...note to next year's planners---give handout instructions for the layoust on SNL night and let everyone work at their own pace. Then they can socialize as much as they want.
  10. 1 hour and 15 minutes for lunch and dinner is too short when you have also get ready for the next class.
  11. I want to learn sign language--for real. We had two deaf ladies and two interpreters in Group A and I loved watching them "talk".
  12. Amanda Hudson is a great singer.
  13. I still love Gretchen McElveen's crisp scrapbooking style. So "me"...okay not me, but what I want my style to be. :)
  14. Wilna is adorable. Her accent and teaching style kept us laughing and on our toes.
  15. Jenni Bowlin and her family really impressed me. Love her down-to-earth attitude, she's so talented, and was just a joy to be around.
  16. Vanessa Hudson is remarkably talented, so creative, and still manages to be over-the-top organized--and she always looks great.
  17. I'm proud to have played a part in introducing Monique to scrapbooking (through Scrapjazz) which eventually led to her store, then the events.
  18. Heidi Swapp did not dissapoint and brought us plenty of pink, bling and fun.
  19. Angelia was one of the sweetest women I've met...and I'm so glad I finally got to meet her after enjoying her layouts in magazines since I first started scrapbooking years and years ago.
  20. Bonds are always created during stressful situations...I loved getting to know the other Scrap Etc. girls...and it was my main reason for helping out with the Event--to spend time with all of them. I really enjoyed our Thursday night pow-wow at the Irish pub. :)
  21. The little bird on the t-shirts, bags & aprons were so cute...even if they weren't as "round" as they should have been...it's okay Jennifer...no one noticed that the t-shirt folks stretched your image!
  22. Sometimes, you just have to make a decision and go with it. It's easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.
  23. Scrapbooking vendors are so generous with their products and time.
  24. I shared a room with a former "Kelly Taylor"! (only you 90210 fans will be excited about that).
  25. A $6 McDonald's lunch seems like pennies after a weekend of eating at the Opryland Hotel. A muffin for $4? Really? That must be some muffin. I'll stick to my granola bars.
  26. Scrapbooking is fun...it still is.
  27. The amount of money people are willing to spend on products for their craft is unbelievable.
  28. I love my Scrapjazz girls! It was great to see Ashley, Trish, and Amanda!
  29. I'm tired of butterflies.
  30. Phoebe (from Friends) is right. There is no selfless act. No matter how many times I went out of my way to help someone, no matter how exhausted I was, it felt so good when I was able to make something "right" for a person. I hope I was able to make everyone's experience as great as it could be.
I'm sure I could go on and come up with 100 things, but I'll stop there. If you went to the Event and have pictures to share, please send me a link! I didn't have my camera out nearly enough!
 
 
0

Wing Zingers


Today*, my husband Ben launched a new web site called WingZingers.com. Wing Zingers is a very cool website dedicated to finding quippy political t-shirts from both ends of the political spectrum. Rather than selling shirts, WingZingers.com collects the best-of-the-best from a selection of various online t-shirt stores so you can shop and compare the design options and "zingers". You can even Teebate the shirts by voting for your favorites. With the upcoming election, this site is bound to draw interests from all sorts of "parties".

So, pass it on! Tell your friends. Post about it on your blog. And heck, buy a shirt if you want to--it's hard to resist when you find your favorite zinger....

* - We have a tendency to piggy-back holidays and big events in our family. My birthday is April Fool's Day, Ben's birthday often falls on Thanksgiving, my dad's is Christmas Eve, my mom's birthday is over Spring Break, etc. We even launched Scrapjazz.com on my birthday in 2002 (and incidentally, it made every birthday while we owned it kind of cheated in my opinion). But, I digress. With this obvious pattern we've established, I'm not at all surprised that Ben chose to launch his new website, WingZingers.com, on what else, but Tax Day!

2

Opryland

Guess where I'm headed tomorrow afternoon? Nashville, TN to the Opryland Hotel. I'm lucky enough to be working at the Scrap Etc. Event put on by the lovely ladies from the local scrapbook store here in B'ham. We've been prepping, kitting, and talking about the event since September (at least I have....Monique has been living and breathing it for longer than that), and it's going to be so much fun!
 
With several big name scrapbook industry teachers on site such as Heidi Swapp, Jenni Bowlin, Wilna Furstenberg, Angelia Wiggingon, and Danelle Johnson, it should definitely be an inspiring weekend. Not to mention the incredible in-house talent of Vanessa Hudson, Gretchen McElveen and Monique McLean. After seeing bits and pieces of the projects for the past several months, I can't wait to see everyone's finished classes.
 
I'm really looking forward to a weekend away and what better way to spend it than in a fancy hotel with 600 scrapbookers? Okay, maybe there are a *few* better ways to spend a weekend away (whisked away to a tropical island or pampered in a fancy big city), but i'm looking forward to this one anyhow! I hope to have photos and stories to tell when I return (since, after all the theme is "Tell the story only you can tell").
 
Oh...and wish me luck.  I may be leading all 600 ladies in step-by-step instructions for creating a layout on Saturday night.  Holy stage fright.
 
4

Organized

I just got back home from a MOPS meeting and it was all about organization and the home office and it got me all warm and fuzzy-feeling inside.  I just get so excited about having things organized and "in their place."  It was good stuff.  Everyone had some great organization ideas, so I thought I'd share a few of them here:
 
=================
Problem:
papers, mail, bills, receipts, etc.  The "STACKS"

 

Suggested Solutions:
  • The 2-minute rule (If it can be taken care of in less than two minutes, do it immediately)
  • Have appropriate disposal bins handy where you read your mail (trash, recycle, shred)
  • Use a by-date separator to know when to pay certain bills
  • Have an "inbox" and go through it daily (or weekly)

=================

Problem:
Scheduling, calendars
 
Solution Suggestions:
  •  Family Calendar with room for each family member's activities for the week.
  • White board calendar in the kitchen
  • Sync up your PDAs, Outlook Calendars, etc.
  • Keep a perpetual birthday, anniversary calendar
=================
Problem:
To-do lists that are way too long
 
Solution Suggestions:
  • Keep a long-term (this month/year) and short-term (today/this week) to-do list
  • Categorize your to-dos.  A work-related to-do, a home related to-do, a kid-related to-do, etc.
  • Make a next-action list (Ben got this from the book Getting Things Done.  It has a fantastic system that we use occasionally...not religiously)
=================
Problem:
Toys everywhere!
 
Solution Suggestions:
  • Each kid gets a bin and they're allowed to put as many of whatever toys they want to have in the bin, but the lid MUST close.  All other toys are stored in bins in the basement/garage/etc.  Every month or so you give them the option to go "shopping" for a new round of toys.   (Alison gets total credit for this idea--which btw my MOPS group thought this was genious!)
  • Buckets with photo labels of the contents. 
  • Toy "check out" and "return" policy from shelves.  Can only have 3 items checked out at once before they need to be put away. (I don't actually know anyone who does this, but it might be an interesting experiment to see if kids are willing to go along with it...)
=================
Problem:
Kids' schoolwork and artwork 
 
Solution Suggestions:
  • Boxes, folders or bins divided by school year.  Label with child's name, year, teacher's name.
  • Portfolio divided by year
  • Hang recent creations from clips on a curtain rod to create your own kid's art gallery
  • Go back 2-3 years later when you aren't so emotionally attached to *every* art piece and quiz and purge, keeping the best and most special.
=================
 
Funny story:  Tom (Ben's dad) asked me once to make him a top 10 list of how to stay organized.  Immediately I looked for some paper and a pen and came up with a list of 6 things and handed it to him.  He always jokes that #1) he was shocked that I did it instantly, and #2) that I only needed 6 "rules".  Proof of my tendency towards efficiency I guess.  I'll try to remember them here, but he may need to correct me if he still has the original list:
 
  1.  A place for everything and everything in its place.
  2. If it can be done quickly, do it immediately.
  3. Clean out your closets/desk/etc. every 6 months.  If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it, you probably don't need it.
  4. Put things away every night before you go to bed. 
Darn...i can only come up with 4 now....does that mean I'm getting more efficient and organized?  Or just tired and sloppy now that I've got a kid?
 
I'll leave you with a photo of my favorite room of our house...my office. 
 
3

Itza Pizza

After nap today, Ayla was playing in her playhouse and she said something about pizza.  Which reminded me that I've been meaning to make her some pizzas for her playhouse.  So, Ayla helped me "cook" them up this afternoon.  She even blew on them because they were "hot" (aka...the glue was drying). 
 

0

The Long Way Round

Ben and I just finished watching a 7-episode mini-series documentary called "The Long Way Round".  Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorgman are two best friends and motorbike enthusiasts (they also happen to be actors) that decided to go on an adventure together by riding motorcycles from London to New York -- going east -- all the way around the world.  
 

Their adventure is unbelievable, astonishing, painful, breathtaking, stressful, enlightening, remarkable, eye-opening, and so many other powerful adjectives that I can't come up with right now.  The two of them are hilarious and determined to succeed in their adventure as well as enjoy it as it happens (which sometimes was very difficult).  They meet all kinds of interesting people from the most unique places and remote places you'd ever imagine, traveling through Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, and finally across Canada and the United States.  
 
I absolutely recommend you pick this up at the library, video rental place or download the episodes from their web site.   It was like going around the world and seeing things we'll never likely get a chance to see--because very few do!  Do you know many people who travel the Road of Bones in Siberia?  
 
I see now that they've done another adventure together called The Long Way Down where they go from Scotland down through to the southernmost tip of Africa.  I'll be looking out for that one to watch next time! 
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