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Celebrating Imagination and the Wonderful, Wild Ride that is Life

Friday, October 10, 2008

PINK CHOCOLATE and it sure has been a long time!

It certainly has been a long time since I last posted, but I had to let everyone see this awesome video. October is breast cancer awareness month, and the Young Survival Coalition just wrapped up their signature event: the Tour de Pink, a 2220 mile 3-day bicycle ride from Hershey, PA to downtown New York City. This is an awesome video from FOX celebrating the survivors at the finish line. I am so proud to be a part of the YSC, and I am so amazed by these women! For God's sake, the one young woman did this ride DURING CHEMO!!!! Seriously, it's amazing that she is out of bed! I am so excited to share this video with all of you so you can see why I am so passionate about the YSC. Please make sure and buy up all the pink Hershey candy you see in the stores to benefit the YSC, and now maybe you'll understand why I haven't been posting, or calling, or cooking, or doing laundry....I'm too busy working on the Crop for a Cure (coming up on October 25th) to help support the YSC!!!!!!!! Go pink!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Summer's Over

I know it sounds cliche, but I honestly cannot believe that summer is over. It went by so fast. The thing is that I completely enjoy having my kids at home, luxuriating in the laziness of the days, the increased amount of sunshine, and the cameraderie of having my kids around me while every day begins with a smile and a new sense of exploration.

When fall comes, it means that the kids go back to school, which I admit brings excitement of its own. (I love shopping for school supplies even more than they do!) But every September I go through a few weeks of melancholy. The house is so quiet. There's nobody clamoring to use the computer, the bathroom, the tv, or what have you. The house is mine, and I don't like it. It feels big and empty and the hours of the day tick by as we wait: the house, the pets and I, until the kids come home from school and everything is alive again.

This year it felt like school started way too early. Erin and Cory started back on August 26th. So we're already deep into our school routine. I am already getting sick of driving back and forth to the school three times a day. (Drop off, pick up Cory, pick up Erin after soccer.Go to bed. Repeat.) It's relentlessly dreary and eats away the time I could devote to anything particularly engrossing. Of course Erin will be able to get her driver's license any day now. We've been working at it. She drives home most days and I am getting at least a little bit calmer with her behind the wheel and myself in the passenger seat. A little bit calmer. Getting her driver's license is just another thing that reminds me how quickly time is flying; How quickly they are growing up, and therefore, growing away from their Mom. Of course that is the goal, but it is coming way, way too soon for comfort. I'm not done being integral to their lives, and the writing is on the wall. It won't be long before I'm just a weekly phone call, or the occasional visit, or a Holiday diversion. I know how much I will miss it all. All of the things I complain about: the endless piles of laundry, the driving to and fro, the fighting, the eye-rolling, all of it. Some day soon it will all seem precious and quaint, like changing diapers, or cleaning up a little spit-up. Everything is rosy once it's gone.

To make up for the moody tone of this entry, I'm including pics of a few projects I completed recently. The first one is of a few photos I took of Cory at a Duluth Huskies' game last summer. I was pleased with the way it came together easily, and definitely told the story of our "unique" boy!

The second layout uses a picture that has been a favorite for years. My sister maureen took this photo of Erin, Cory, and all of theri cousins one easter. I love the way it tells the story of each kids' personality, and shows just how much they continue to mean to each other.

The third layou uses a photo of Erin from a looooong time ago. It has always been one of my favorites, too. When the kids were little and we were living in Maryland I used to take them to play at a place called Imagine That. There were all sorts of opportunities for dress up and role playing, including this fire truck. Erin has always been an incredibly imaginative kid, and that place was made for her. I love this photo of her in the fireman's hat, coat, and (especially) rubber boots!

The following are some pictures of a new project I'm working on for my Big Picture Scrapbooking class called "Have More Fun". We are working on present moment scrapbooking. The album is called "30 Days Hath September" and we are making a page a day with special prompts for things we are to Capture, Collect, and Record. For instance the Day 1 page Captures: A Sunset, Collects: Something with the date on it, and Records: My feelings about the month of September. I am really enjoying the project and would highly recommend doing something like this in order to help you live "in the now". I love it. The first picture is the title page (there's a quote hidden behind the photo.) The rest are days 1 through 5. I'll post more when I finally download them off the camera! Enjoy.

Title Page

Sept. 1st

Sept. 2nd

Sept. 3rd

Sept. 4th

Sept. 5th

Monday, August 18, 2008

Where's Waldo? And goodbye.

I'm not Waldo, but I certainly have felt like him!!!
Things have been very busy at my house, to say the least. I'm sure it's no different for anyone else. We just got done hosting Ryo (pronounced Yo!) from Ohara, Japan. He stayed with us for the last 10 days and kept everyone pretty busy. Particularly Cory and Brad. This is all part of the Duluth Sisters Cities exchange program. Cory stayed with Ryo and his family in July and now it was our turn to be the hosts. All of the kids, parents ands Japanese students were extremely busy all week long. They went to the Aquarium, met the Mayor, went to the Edge waterpark, Valley Fair, a Minnesota Twins game, our cabin, the movie in the park, etc., was exhausting and a lot of fun. Ryo did not speak much English, and we certainly don't speak Japanese (well....Cory knows a few words) but we managed to communicate somehow! Ryo was a nice, polite boy. He often got confused, but was always up for anything, and very trusting. He loved playing our piano and Cory's guitar. He enjoyed fishing with Brad, didn't like the dirt at the cabin, ate anything we put in front of him, loves Snoopy, the Simpsons, and baseball. None of us were prepared for how sad we were yesterday when it was time to take Ryo to the airport. The night before, Ryo managed to tell Brad that he didn't want to go, and gave Brad a big hug. (And I don't think they hug much in Japan.) We were all crying like babies at the airport and hugging a lot. It was especially hard to see Ryo crying. He was the only boy in the whole group who was crying, but some of the girls were especially sad. Of course the whole goodbye was protracted because we had to wait with them in line, get them through security (Ryo had to go twice, once with me along for assistance!) and all. We seriously feel like we were his parents for a brief piece of time, and have been joking that he will show up on our doorstep one day! He loved America. In fact I will never forget how, upon exiting the airport when he first got here, he fell to his knees and hollered just that: "I Love America!!!" It was a great experience, and one we'll treasure for a long time to come.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

News to me...

Yes, I know it's been a while since I've posted but I've been VERY busy trying to keep my head above water. With all of my BPS classes and Crop for a Cure preparations and two kids to chauffer, laundry to do, cellulite to try to burn, a Japanese exchange student on the way and yada, yada...I'm a little pressed for time. Anyway, in my off time (ha!) I am busy trying to get our Crop for a Cure blog functioning correctly. (Note link on this page!) I tried to install a counter-type thingy so we could track who and how many people were visiting. I uploaded it correctly (I thought) after a few haphazard attempts and lost the color on the blog. Oops. I'm not quite sure what happened. More importantly, I'm not quite sure how to fix it. So, I have been monkeying around with THIS blog in order to try to fix THAT blog. Comprende? As you may note there is indeed a little pink counter thingy on the bottom of this page, counting away. (And, yes, I am WELL aware that it is in the single digits. Harumph.)

Anyway, in my efforts to figure out that problem, I discovered how to add photos to each one of my posts on here. (Yes, I'm slow...the "add photo" button has been staring me in the face all this time.) Man, I need to slooooowwww down and pay attention once in a while!

Well, I'm off to try to fix what I have wrought on the other site. But, in honor of my discovery, I will leave you with a picture of a sign I took on the way home from CHA out the car window. You gotta love it...."Almost famous"....that's so me. After all, I'm the Queen of Coulda-shoulda-woulda!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Forgot to mention...

I posted the two Layouts at the top that were inspired by 2 of my 52 pick up technique cards. The cards can be seen when you scroll further down the page.

Where in the world is?....

Yes, I know, it seems like F-O-R-E-V-E-R since I updated my blog. Things have been pretty crazy around here!!! First Julie, Kim, Paula and I traveled to Chicago for CHA (That's the Craft and Hobby Trade Show for those of you who aren't "in the know"). We went there seeking donations for our Crop For A Cure to be held on Oct. 25 (Go to for more info or visit to register.)
Anyway, we had TONS of FUN and met loads of great, amazing, generous people. I will post some pics and info about this later when I get my head on straighter. But wow! We saw some of the most mind-blowingly creative work than you can imagine! It was so hard to do what we came there for, visit all the vendors, and give them our 10 second spiel, and NOT linger in the booths touching all the new goodies, soaking in all the cool samples, and generally drooling. We did come home with loads of stuff and promises for more, but more on that on the Crop blog!
On our way home from Chicago we met up with my sister Sharon and her family who drove all the way from Pennsylvania to spend a week with us in Duluth. We had a GREAT time and kept them entertained. It was so awesome to see them, and so generous of them to make the long drive to come for a visit. We don't get many visitors, so it was a real treat. I was so sad when they left! Of course it didn't help that I got some nasty virus the last day they were here...I always blubber like a baby when I'm sick. ( But not when I'm really sick, like with cancer...then I'm stoic. Weird, huh?)
So on top of the mountains of laundry I have been doing, the unpacking, the pile of unopened donations that has swallowed my craft room and the endless list of tasks I need to get done, I have been fumbling around trying to keep up with my three BPS classes! I am really trying not to stress, though. I keep telling myself that I signed up for this for FUN and not to put pressure on myself. I keep humming that like a meditative seems to be working. (Okay, I admit, not all the time.)
Anyway, I have some technique cards to share and some pages I've made. Enjoy. It's not much, but it's not too bad for someone who is time juggling like crazy!
Ta ta for now!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Boredom and sadness...never a good combination!

You may be thinking, "Whoa! What's with the avalanche of creativity Alane's got going on? She's so productive!!!" It may seem that way on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper (and I've got the shovel!) you will see that it is really a coping mechanism. I can't believe that I didn't blog about this sooner (talk about denial) but Cory has now been across the world and completely unreachable for one whole week!!! That's right! He has traveled through the Duluth Sisters Cities exchange program to Ohara, Japan. He isn't coming back until the 13th and my veneer of denial and busy-ness is starting to crack. It's all I can do not to panic. He is staying with a Japanese family there. What is bothering me is we have had no contact from him. We had hoped that his host family would have email access so he could drop us a note every few days. Who'd have thought that many Japanese families don't have internet access? I don't even know if they have a computer. Weird. Thankfully one young woman who is also part of the exchange has sent a few emails and some photos. They aren't together every day, so she doesn't mention him but he shows up in the background in a few photos. So, it is somewhat comforting to know he's still alive! (Nervous chuckle.) He's 15 years old but he's still my baby!!! Of course my husband doesn't understand what I'm so worked up about. But, you Moms know how it is...I have kept him close his whole life and now I just let him go off on his own! It's double tough because he's my chatty kid, the one who's up for anything, always nearby, wanting a hug, or to talk. Man, he's left a hole! The only person that is feeling his absence as keenly (or more so) is Erin. I know she is as amazed and baffled by this as we are. Normally they live under a love/hate relationship. Since Erin is 16 and a girl, that leans towards hate and irritation most of the time! I couldn't believe it but she emailed all of her friends with the title "my brother's gone and I'm all alone!" And that was on Saturday! Her friends wrote back astounded that she was actually saying she missed him! It's so sweet. She gets on the computer everyday and looks at the photos the other girl is sending and searches for pics of Cory. Of course I've always known how strong their bond is, but it's really something to see her acknowledge it.
I promised that I would tell about the destruction that has been going on hear at Casa Davis. Well, as part of my Have More Fun class at Big Picture Scrapbooking, the teacher, Stacy Julian, has challenged those of us who want to participate in a crazy, no holds barred, let out your inner pre-schooler bonanza! There is this book called "Wreck This Journal" that is basically a black cover with white pages with directions to do something crazy and destructive to the journal on each page. Basically this is a giant exercise in letting go of perfectionism, working with no rules, playing and having fun all in the name of unleashing your primal creativity. It sounds like a lot to get from some paper and glue, doesn't it? To give you an idea, some of the page drections are things like: spit, dribble or spill your coffee here; climb someplace very high and drop the journal; bring the journal in the shower with you; tear out your favorite page and give it away; mail the journal to yourself. Well, the message board from my class is filling up with hilarious stories and photos from my my compatriots. One woman's kids were playing with the journal, dragging it behind their bikes when her dog, a giant Newfoundland, got it and chewed on it! I, of course, am hatching plans to coat mine in peanut butter and let the dogs have at it! After all, they need some kind of incentive! They don't work for peanuts! (No wait, actually they do.)Stacy, the teacher, showed pictures of her driving her scooter, dragging it behind her. Of course I could not wait to jump into the fray. Strangely, I have not found it at all difficult to let loose. Hmmm. I suppose their are a bunch of you going..."Yeah, like we couldn't see that one coming!" I have been told that I am (how does my friend Kim put it?) without filters? *You'd better comment and give me the right terminology, Kim!* So, I have been wrecking my journal by slapping paint all over it, sending pages through the wash, writing with my feet, etc. But the best was the other day when we were challenged to give the journal to someone else and let them poke holes in it with a pencil. Of course I gave it to Erin since she was so bored. She took her job very seriously and had a blast. I highly recommend this very weird kind of fun project for anyone who feels a little too tightly wound. No creativity is necessary, just bravery!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More techniques and a productive Wednesday!

On Wednesday I worked like a fool to hammer out a bunch of projects for my classes at Big Picture Scrapbooking. In addition to 52 Pick Up I am taking a class called Have More Fun and Photography 101 which started today. I am excited about the Photog class to learn how to actually use my camera!!! It is embarrassing to have a powerful camera and pretty much keep it on the automatic setting. I am a little concerned that I have bitten off more than I can chew with these three classes, but so far I am managing to stay pretty much caught up.
So, I did the next 3 techniques for 52 pick up. I enjoy using paint, so I was thrilled that two of the techniques involved paint. Technique #11 was all about using painter's tape as a resist. I got busy and did so many layers of paint that I had to force myself to stop before Brad had to do an intervention. I used regular acrylic paint and some of the Tim Holtz crackle paint. I didn't have a plan when I started, so I just went with the flow. It was fun. I wanted to leave some chipboard exposed, but I did learn that lo-tac painters tape does stick a little too much to chipboard. Oh well. A little tearing never scared me!
Technique #12 was using glaze pens to doodle a design on top of paint. Basically these pens create a puffy, gel like raised line and can be used on all kinds of surfaces. I actually broke my own rule and did this technique twice. (I'm trying to learn to accept imperfection!) I had to do it twice, because my first try was on a black painted background which I liked better, but the glaze pens didn't show up on it. It was a bummer. They weren't as bright or opaque as I wanted. As it is I had to go over my lines multiple times to make them visible. I like the potential, but I'm not sure the result was as successful as I wanted.
Technique #13 involved embossing a stamped design onto cardstock and then removing the color from the cardstock with the application of bleach. I remember doing this in art school on fabric. It's a cool technique because the dyes disperse and leave different colors behind. You never really know what you're gonna get. It could be a lighter color, white, gold, or something else. I used dark navy cardstock and a clorox bleach pen. It was pretty cool because my cardstock turned purple. I enjoyed this technique and would like to try it some more. I need some stamps that will work with this well, though. You need to have some "space" and detail to the stamp so you can highlight different areas. Art type stamps would work great. The only issue I have is that I'm not sure this technique would be okay in an album. There is some residue left behind and I would worry about it hurting the pictures over time. I think this is strictly an art type technique, although this issue might be avoided if I sealed the image with mod podge or something. Hmmm...more experimenting is needed!
I also did some fun layouts for my Have More Fun class. I have added those images to my photo gallery on Flicker and to my slide show. The 1st project for Have More Fun was a mini-book. I used photos from a road trip my friend Julie and I took last year. It was an easy project and totally fun. I love the final look of the book and am pretty sure I will use this little book design again. It would make a great class for the Crop for a Cure, too! I've posted those pics as well.
I ALSO started a FUN adventure with my "Wreck This Journal" journal. This is part of a challenge from Stacy Julian on the Have More Fun message board. I will talk more about it later. Let's just say it involves paint, destruction, spit, God knows what else, and my bored teenage daughter!!! Fun!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Got my mojo back!

Okay, I'm a little more excited about this last technique than I was with the past few. Technique #9 was very cute...just a little tip on how to create your own cupcake flags for birthdays and other celebrations. Nothing big and life altering, just cute. It actually made me sad since my kids are too old to appreciate a cute cupcake flag. (They're 15 and 16 now. Sniff.) I am holding out the hope for a slew of grandkids, so there may be cupcake flags in my future...otherwise Brad better make a big show of appreciating the ones I slap on his dessert!
But technique that was right up my alley. Basically we created our own paper by taking plain computer printer paper and altering it. Woo hoo!! I likey!!! Of course I could not limit myself to plain white paper. I did use some colored and off white...whatever I had leftover from different printing projects. The technique was to crumple the paper, wipe it with an ink pad to create a tie dyed sort of look and then use the paper to create embellishments. I didn't really like the look of color on white, it was a little to stark and hippie-ish for me. So, after I inked up my paper using multiple coordinating colors of ink, I spritzed the paper with water to make the colors blend. I dried it with my heat gun to speed up the drying (and because I'm a maniacal mister when I get that mini mister in my hands...puddles everywhere!) After that had dried, I went back and used one of my new fave products, glimmer mist from Tattered Angels. That added a little more color and sheen....downright glittery in some spots, but totally cool. More heat, and a coating of mod podge to seal it. I made three sheets of paper to make one 5 x 7 card and had to force myself to stop! But I couldn't finish until I had tried it out on one of my 1000 extra large hang tags. (Yes, that's right...I said 1000. Why, do you need any?) Let's just say I was jonesing for some hang tags so badly last year that I went ahead and ordered a huge package. 1000. Hey, I got a great deal!!! Anyway, I did the same technique to a tag, played around with a stamp set I have, and voila! Technique card #10. I will totally be doing this again. Love taking a plain boring piece of nothing and turning it into something! Plus, I LOVE getting messy!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

You can't love 'em all...

I think my love affair with my 52 pick up class is clearly apparent. But my love affair with all of the techniques has to end somewhere. I knew there would be a few that would not excite me, and here we go. Please note that I am willing to show my duds along with the cool stuff. I hope I get points for this.
Technique #7 wasn't bad, it was fun's just that the results are not much fun to look at. There wasn't really a technique per se, just instructions to play around with a brayer, temporarily affixing things to it so when you rolled it in ink or another medium you could create cool textures, backgrounds, etc. Tena (the teacher) already demonstrated wrapping the roller with rubber bands, mesh netting, masking with the brayer, and bubble wrap. We were challenged to try some new ideas. I made a huge mess in my room! My brayer is pretty big, and (of course!) I decided to start out with black paint...let's just say I have quite a large amount of clean-up ahead of me. I wrapped the brayer with sewing elastic (the kind you would use for a waist band). That was definitely cool. Then I wrapped it with this wide ric-rac that I had. That was cool too, although I think I would like smaller ric-rac...this was too big to make a useful background. Then I used the fuzzy side from a strip of velcro. That just came out looking like a paint roller...and making a huge mess at the same time. Dud. So, I ditched the paint, washed the roller and thought about it. I decided to see what would happen if I rolled the brayer on top of the paper OVER something texturized. Sort of like a rubbing. I lined up a few rows of quarters, put my white paper on top, and rolled with an ink covered brayer. That was definitely interesting. I could explore this technique more. In fact, I consider a technique a good one if it sparks my curiousity to try more things. This one definitely did. Although, I have yet to see how I'd use it on a page. Great for collages though. Hmmm. I think I'm changing my mind on this one. I like it.
Technique #8 was using texture medium mixed with paint, applying it to the card with a plastic knife through a template of your own creation. I made my leaves by cutting them freehand out of cardstock and punched the template out of come thin chipboard. I used black (boring, I know.) Once I had applied the medium I sprinkled the images with pigment powder. I planned on using more colors of pigment, bu the template moved and I had to take it off. That was my big dilemma with this technique. to keep the template in place. I think some temporary adhesive spray is in order. Again, this was fun, but I don't see how I would use it on a page. But, into my deck it goes...who knows, lightning may strike in the future and this will become an all time fave. I'm still having fun, though!

More to come...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More fun with the deck...

More fun from my 52 card pick-up class. Technique #5 involved creating my own custom buttons with different supplies from my stash. Of course I couldn't stop with just a few techniques. Once I get mixing up concoctions, I can't stop! It was a lot of fun and I pulled out a lot of supplies I haven't used in ages. I'm not in love with every button I created, but getting there was all the fun. It's like being in Kindergarten and fingerpainting! I was going to arrange my buttons in some cute way and then decided the familiar button card look really can't be beat when it comes to a design statement. I've always believed that if you can't improve on something, then don't even try. Yes, I said it...button cards are pretty darn close to design perfection. 'Nuff said.
Technique #6 was all about using transpaencies. Technically I already did this one on technique card #4, but I do LOVE to PLAY! I have always loved this pic of my Grampa in his studio, working at his easel. It just speaks to me, and not for the obvious's so beautiful with the light of inspiration coming through the window behind him and the look of total concentration on his face. I love it. So, here's my technique card. I used some paint on the back of the transparency to emphasize the light and give the mood a little lift. I love the paper in the background: kind of dreamy, Bohemian, and Old World all at the same time somehow. I added some Krylon silver leafing pen to accentuate the chandelier (I love that!!! My Pe-Pop was way ahead of the times! A chandelier in his studio! How cool is that? I think I need to get me one of those!) Anyway, I also added a little caption and a vintage key roughed up with some paint and sanded, a little bling, great fibers, and voila!!! A great technique, and more fun was had by all...well, me, anyway!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New technique photos and fun in Pine City

Hey...I've posted the pics from the next 2 techniques in the 52 pick up class. This is really a lot of fun. Some of the techniques aren't all that new to me, but it is great to play and have them all in one chunky book for reference later. I can see going to this little deck whenever I need a creative spark. I have Friday's project to do so I'll post it later.
Speaking of creative sparks, I had so much fun yesterday. My good friend Julie had to drive her daughter down to Pine City which is about an hour and a half away. Pine City is the location of our most-favoritest scrapbooking store, the Pine City Scrapbooking Co. Of course I jumped at the chance to tag along...especially when Julie had the idea of us staying and scrapping at the store. It was awesome...we got there and asked if it was okay if we used the tables...but they had set up for a garage sale they were having today (note: it's killing me that I can't go!)...anyway, the owner, Marni (who is totally awesome!) offered to let us use the retreat center which is attached to the store. Wow, we had the whole place to ourselves! She has it stocked with all kinds of cool tools, great tables with ott-lites, cutting mats, and drink holders, and flat screen tvs with a library of chick flicks! We had a blast and I got a ton done! I am almost completely finished with a mini-book about our Crop for a Cure 2007. I'll post pics when I have it done! Of course while we were there we had to shop...Marni had gotten in a ton of new stuff. She always has a lot of samples and creative inspiration around the place, plus she mixes in a bunch of cool vintage things to get your creative juices going. (I loved the mini-bar with vintage buttons, serve yourself mini brads, etc.! What a great idea!!!) It stormed while we were there so we got to listen to the sound of thunder and rain hitting the roof as we worked. It was so great! It was hard to leave and we are definitely going to go back and do it again sometime. I am looking forward to Marni's hosted weekend in August. For Mother's Day Brad got me a spot for the weekend which includes two nights in the retreat, food, and three Tim Holtz inspired classes with all of the supplies. Woohoo! I can't wait...especially since I had this little taste of Pine City goodness!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

52 card pickup...little bits of creative goodness!

I am totally loving this new class I am taking through Big Picture Scrapbooking. It's with Tena Springer. Basically we are getting techniques that we try each week day. In the end we will have a card deck of awesome techniques that we can add to our creative tool kit. I hesitated about taking this class because I was already signed up for two other BPS classes and have a lot on my plate (as always!). Plus, Note to my Sisters: I have always hated the term "52 card pick-up" ever since they abused me with this game when I was little. Oh yes, they taunted me, promising to play with me for hours only to have the game be this cruel mockery.... I feel a visit to the therapist coming on! Anyway, back to the class... I am SOOO glad I signed up for this. It reminds me of being back in art school, getting messy, and exploring all sorts of new things. Only this is even's more controlled so you actually end up with a lot of successes and not so much trash for the heap. I had lots of fun making my deck. I decided to go with a back to school theme (for obvious reasons!) Our first technique was embossing a stamped image with clear embossing powder and painting over it, wiping the paint away to reveal the resist. It was cool. I tried embossing with a pen with my own doodles and handwriting too. FUN!!! The second technique was to create layered flowers. Nothing too out of the ordinary for me, but fun just the same. One of the big perks of taking the class is getting to see everyone's work in the online gallery. It's great!

If you haven't checked out Big Picture Scrapbooking yet, I really recommend it. I have taken a few classes now. One was the Art of Becoming More ( I admit I didn't keep up with this one, but will do it on my own time) and the other was the Library of Memories with Stacy Julian. They do an awesome job! You get handouts galore so you basically create your own book by the end. Plus you get chat time with the teacher and lots of emailing, the gallery, message boards, etc. I am signed up for Have More Fun (also by Stacy J.) and Photgraphy 101 to get to learn all the cool features of my camera. Seriously, I dig these classes. You get to work on your own time, when it's right for you, no driving...and you can go to class in your jammies. Who wouldn't love that? If you want to check it out, go to . There are some free mini-classes to get you started.

Well, I'm off to go do the next two techniques! I'll post 'em later!

P.S.: I'll write more about this later, but I'm thinking of applying for a manufacturer's design's just between us....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Oh, glorious summer!

Is there really anything as wonderful as summer in Minnesota? Perhaps it is the anticipation that builds over the months of winter, gray and cold. But truly, it is hard to beat Minnesota in the summertime. The temperature is perfect, getting up to the mid- to high-seventies...everything is green and still new, not faded in too much intense sun. The colors are magnificent. I went for a ride on my bike, pleasantly hot with exertion but fully enjoying a steady breeze that brushed through the pines the entire time. There was the sound of frogs squeaking in the ponds as I passed and birds greeting each other in the trees. Dragonflies landed briefly in my path as I went along, and I smiled as I passed horses in the fields. Buttercups were turning their faces toward the sun and I inhaled the scent of lilacs growing wild along the road. Best of all is the arrival of the lupines; they're just opening in their shades of indigo, lavender and rose. I am thrilled to see them every summer, thrilled to see where they will turn up each year like a hidden treat sprinkled along the countryside. This sounds a lot like poetry, but that is what summer in Minnesota is like: a poem. It's brief, startling, and beautiful. It fills you with excitement and emotion, and it is over much too soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chemical Dependency

I realize that this is completely different than my previous post. But, hey, that's the point, right? I'm supposed to write about random stuff...stuff in my life: what I'm thinking, feeling, doing...okay, maybe not everything. I promise, I will do a little self-editing! Anyway, here's what I've been doing...trying to find my normal state of brain chemistry! What fun! And let me just say that I am currently imbalanced to be sure. Here's the deal: some of you may or may not remember that I am on medication. It started out as a small amount of meds that have been found to help alleviate the horrendous, sleep depriving, sheet soaking hot flashes that I have been enduring due to early menopause. (I know I don't need to tell you what that is, but here's a refresher: I had my ovaries and uterus removed when I was not quite finished with my hormones, thank you!) So, like I said, it started with a small dose of an anti-depresant to help with my hot flashes. Only the small amount didn't work. So, I went to a larger amount. Then it became clear that I had been suffering some anxiety issues. (As evidenced by my worn down teeth from grinding them and inability to sleep.) So, cue up the anti-anxiety meds. Then it became clear that I was a wee bit depressed. No surprise there as I have always suffered from (what's the nice way to put it?) "melancholy". Not to mention cancer. Cancer makes you a wee bit depressed, but I suppose you already knew that. So...we upped the anti-depressants. fast forward to a couple of months ago. I go to see my doctor who, of course, reminds me that I am wonderful. I remind him that I have no sex life. (Oops! Belated parental warning: stop reading!) Anyway, he says "No sex life?" I say, "Uh, yeah!" (As in "Hell, no!!!!") And I'm grumpy as heck. My doctor gives me the Cliff's Notes version of a depression test and says, "Oh, Yeah. You're depressed." "And, I'm fat", I say. (Just to drive home the I'm-not-getting-any-and-I-feel-like-a-loser point a little bit more.) He states that clearly the meds aren't working anymore and I need to "WEAN MYSELF OFF OF THE ANTIDEPRESSANT." (I am using capitals when I wrte this to highlight the point, in case you didn't get that. Don't worry. It will all make sense at the end.) So, I proceed to WEAN MYSELF OFF OF THE ANTI-DEPRESSANT. I am supposed to taper my dose over a course of weeks. Let me tell you, that after only three days I felt like a huge, steaming pile of horse poo. I was: (check all that apply) a. dizzy, b. nauseous, c. sweating profusely, d. felt like I had a pair of dirty sweatsocks stuffed in my mouth, e. incredibly depressed, f. all of the above. Hmmmm...let me see...all of the above! Yippee! Not to be deterred I continue to taper the meds with these ongoing symptoms (to varying degrees) until I call my doctor's office the other day because other people are expressing their concern about my welfare to me. Let me say that again: other people are expressing their concern about my welfare to me. That tends to get a person's attention. So, as I said, I called my doctor. What I mean to say is I called his answering service because obviously he wouldn't answer his own phone. Ha! What kind of a doctor would he be if he answered his own phone? So, his answering service left him a message and his nurse called and I talked to her. Nurse phone lady proceeded to tell me that this ENTIRE time I have been WEANING MYSELF OFF THE ANTI-DEPRESSANT I was supposed to be taking another anti-depressant to help alleviate the aforementioned symptoms. That's right! Nobody would ever WEAN THEMSELVES OFF OF THE ANTI-DEPRESSANTS without having another medication to help take the edge off, she says. No! That would be horrible! That is, unless, their doctor had not prescribed or mentioned any drugs to help them WEAN THEMSELVES OFF OF THE ANTI-DEPRESSANTS. So, I have been in psychotic, nauseaous, sweaty hell. I have about five more days of this lovely process and then I get to go onto another medication. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. How on earth people ever get themselves off of illicit drugs, I have no idea! Nothing, no kind of high would ever be worth this kind of torture. But, I'm fine. thanks for asking. How are you?

Friday, June 6, 2008

The first time.

"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit." -Dawna Markova

I stole this quote off of Ali Edward's Life Artist newsletter that was in my inbox two days ago. Sometimes it is so amazing to me when I am completely caught off guard by how beautiful, poignant, and perfectly apt something is for where I am in my life. I love those moments, when my skin prickles with excitement as if I have seen a ghost...when I have read, heard, seen or otherwise experienced something that truly matters. Something that lifts back the curtain of the everyday, the mundane chore of living and touches my soul.

This is the way I want to live. And ridiculously, as a cancer survivor, the way I should be living. After all, I have touched the end of life as if brushing by a stranger in a crowd. I have experienced the fear, the finality, the loss, the sorrow, the end of dreams. But what seeps in after years of knowing is: life. That is where the difference is most pronounced; The difference between those two small words: "life" and "live". They are both valuable and in some superficial ways, the same. But to me they are worlds away from each other. My life is what takes me away from conscious living...that is meant as neither good or bad. It is what is. But to "live" is to make guide life as much as possible and to do it with intention.

So, I just did a search for the author of that quote, Dawna Markova, and this is what I came up with: Apparently, she is a psychotherapist, researcher, and lecturer with a PhD in psychotherapy and education. She works with third world organizations as well as many others. She has published a book and a website of the name "Spot of Grace". The website can be found at . I think that I need to excavate these connections further. I am intrigued by another fine quote I picked up from the site which goes as follows:

"I have faith that each child, every human being, has a gift--a spot of grace--that they are meant to bring to the world. They deserve to have unlimited access to this seed in their soul. I have faith that each of us brings a unique value to the larger whole. This is my profession. If I give voice and energy to it, every one of the days of my life will count for something. If not, every day will be wasted." –Dawna Markova, author of 'Spot of Grace'

A spot of grace...I love that. It is very interesting, as I just listened to one of my favorite radio programs called "Speaking of Faith" and heard this same thing referred to as the divine spark or holy ghost. It was an excellent interview with Rev Dr. John Polkinghorne. The interview covered the Reverend's ability to marry his background in Physics with religion. The interview can be found at:

This is all definitely food for thought. I find it immensely interesting when a window is opened that brings me more knowledge, more choices, and more insight into my life and my effort to live everyday with intention.

I guess this isn't too bad for the first time.

Evidence of a Life