Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm Ready, Are You?

I decided to go ahead and make some "blank" pages for my LSNED scrapbook. There was a football game on, and that's usually a good time for me to spread out my supplies on the coffee table, because we're surely not going anywhere for at least 3 hours!

I ended up making 10 pages (over two games-I'm not that fast). I'm doing front and back because of my limited supply of original paper. I guess I could have added in some cardstock and done a front for every day and not a back, but since I started with sketch paper, I knew it would look different, if only to me.

So, here are my ten pages! I haven't put the date on any of them, and haven't even put the "title" (Today I learned...) on some because I'm not sure where I want it to go yet. But, I figure this is a very good start!

I'm planning to do my journaling (what I learned) on the yellow strips on each page. I decided to do a mix of 3x5 and 4x6 photos, and then there's one page with 3 3x3 photos. So, we'll see how this works out. I'm a little concerned because when I choose a page for one day, the reverse side has to be the next day. Hopefully that will work out, though. I guess we will see tomorrow!

I've got my camera ready. Here we go!

Friday, August 27, 2010

School Days

School began this week! It's my last semester of coursework, and I am really excited about the classes I'm taking this year. As far as education courses, I'm taking a methods course and a technology course. Then for English I'm doing one on novels of the 1900s, ancient literature and mythology, grammar, and a research course. The research course is going to be very beneficial, as I'll basically be researching my senior thesis, which I'll write next semester. More about that later, though.

Weekend one and I already have a ton of reading. So's the life of an English major, I guess. The first novel we're reading for the novels course is Dubliners, by James Joyce. It's a collection of fifteen short stories that all relate to one another. So far I've read the first seven. Some of them are really interesting. My favorite so far is The Boarding House. It's about a woman who runs a boarding house with her son and daughter. Her daughter strikes up a relationship with one of the boarders, and when the mother finds out, she confronts the man intending to force him to marry her daughter. It weaves their perspectives together, and tells the story without telling the story. One of Joyce's techniques was to present the story without narration or interpretation, and to let the reader interpret it him or herself. Pretty interesting, but it makes you work for the story. It's certainly not easy reading!

In other book news, I finally got my hands on a copy of Mockingjay, the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy. The local public library got their copy in and, since I requested it, I was first on the list to get it. It was so new the glue on the library cover wasn't dry yet! I haven't cracked it open, since I made a promise to myself I would read for school before reading for fun. But I'm hoping I can knock out my school reading tomorrow and have all day Sunday to indulge in Mockingjay. I can't wait to find out what happens!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Alternative Bucket List

I follow a blog called Unclutterer. It's a really interesting blog that explores ways to unclutter your live, both physically and emotionally. The blogger, Erin, offers suggestions on how to reduce your amount of personal possessions, how to organize everything, products to aid (and impede) organization and uncluttering, and various other things. Her posts are always good for either a laugh (her Wednesday Uni-Taskers area always enjoyable!) or an idea to implement in my own life as I seek to be less cluttered. (She has yet to tackle scrapbooking, as far as I know. I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.)

Today, scrolling through my blog reader, I was brought to a recent post about an alternative bucket list. Instead of trying to summarize Erin's post, just go read it and then come back. I'll wait.

Since I recently breathed new life into my bucket list, this post caught my attention. However, when I went to the site linked to in the Unclutterer blog and read some of the comments, I couldn't help but thinking that this had really turned more into a forum for complaining. I can appreciate Erin's list of things not to do again - fighting for a parking space is not worth anyone's time. But it seems like the negativity that radiated from the comments on the original post only made me feel kind of depressed, instead of uplifted.

I don't think that was the intent. It can definitely be empowering to say "I'm not doing that again!" or "I won't stand for this anymore!" and some of the lists included items such as that. "I will not give up" was one that encouraged me, and "tolerate all the not-subtle racism around the mosque in downtown NYC" was an appropriate item for something people should not put up with. But I was surprised at the number of comments that included something about the disgusting nature of public restrooms. Really? Yeah, they're gross. We all know that. You know what you're getting into when you go into one. You're going to put that on your list of things the world should not tolerate?

Having said all of that, now, I'm not sure what I would put on my Alternative Bucket List, as I will call it - hey, I guess that can be item number one - I will not use curse words on my blog. Well, there's one thing. I should probably put something like I will not stress about the future I can't control, but hey, we're trying to be realistic here. Though, since I'm in the middle of a weight loss adventure (sounds so much better put that way than "diet"), I'll throw in this: I will not weigh over 200 pounds. I think that's a good start.

Monday, August 23, 2010

LSNED, Album Cover

So I spent all day Saturday creating my album cover! I'm very excited. I decided to do something kind of different - no standard 8x8 or 6x6 for this girl. My album size is 10x6. Random, right? Don't ask me how I decided on that. I have this old sketchbook that I got as a gift in high school that I've used on and off for random artsy things, including the one art class I took my first time around in undergrad, and since the covers of that book have long since been used for various other projects, I decided to use the paper (and likely the binding) to create my Learn Something New Every Day (LSNED) album.

The paper was 10x10, with bind-it-all-like holes on the edge. I just cut four inches off the top and got my base pages:

And now I have left-over 10x4 paper to do something fun with...

Next, I cut down some chip board pieces to 10x6. I painted them green (front and back to cover up that ugly cardboard brown!) and then used my crop-a-dile to punch holes to match the paper:

Then began the process of decorating the cover. This is what took me all day. Saturday was kind of rough because, for some strange reason, I only got 3 hours of sleep the night before. Went to bed around 1:00am, and woke up at 4:00, wide awake, with no hope of going back to sleep. So I watched My Sister's Keeper on demand and balled my eyes out, which certainly didn't help my fatigued state. Anywho, I digress. It took me all day and even into Sunday to finish this cover, when I should have been able to have completed it in a few hours.

I first added some white to my green paint and painted a "10" in the center to signify the year. As it turned out, this didn't turn out, and was barely noticeable after I added everything else, so I ended up having to add more white paint and paint over it again. I think in the end it turned out really good. (This is probably what took the most time, as I was very anal-retentive about painting the 10 the first time, and then highly disappointed that all of my work had been for nothing.)

I used some stamps to create the "learn something" out of a cursive font, and then transferred the image using a pencil technique I learned several years ago so that they would look connected.

(Pencil technique: so easy! "trace" or draw your image (or stamp) on a piece of paper. Turn the paper over and cover the back side of the image with pencil, just coloring over it solid. Then turn the paper back over, place it over whatever surface you want to transfer the image to, and trace over the image, making edits as you desire (in my case, connecting the letters). May seem like a no-brainer, but I thought it was ingenious when I learned it. Of course, I was, what, 12?)

I used chipboard letters painted blue for the "new."

And then came the "everyday." Something else that took entirely too long, but mainly just for me to make a decision. I used a stamp set that looks like typewriter keys, but there was too much black. So I did the negative image by stamping yellow ink on yellow cardstock and then blacking out the non-stamped parts with a Sharpie. However, by this time, I had stamped these cute little flowers in the corner, and the letters were so big they would cover up one of the flowers. So I started from scratch and created my own typewriter key images in a smaller size.

I added a little bird (so cute, I may use him on every page!), and then, realizing that my "learn something" was slightly off-centered, added another flower to the edge to balance it all out. But you can imagine that I did that on purpose.

So, finally, here's my cover:

On the back cover I put the month and date, since the month is not on the front and the date is somewhat obscure:

I have yet to actually scrapbook a page, and even after my plan from my last post, I may not. I have drawn out some 10x6 sketches, so I have something to work with, but I may wait and scrapbook each page after I get the images and learning, to see if they speak to me. I don't want to box myself in.

Have you joined yet?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Learn Something New

If you followed my last blog, you may remember a month long challenge in which I partook called Learn Something New Everyday. This challenge/class is taught by Shimelle, a scrapbook artist in London. I've followed her for several years, and last year I decided to join her in going back to school with this class.

I actually finished my scrapbook... this morning. And it even doesn't have pictures on several of the pages, but they are pictures that must have never been taken because I can't find them anywhere. I do remember taking pictures and saving them up for a trip to Wal-mart because at the time I did not have a way to print pictures at home. Somewhere along the way they must have become lost or, more likely, I neglected to take pictures for the last 9 days of the month.

I do think it was pretty ingenious of me to have this as my learning for three of the days:

However, I must not have learned this very well, because I'm planning to do Shimelle's class again.

Looking back at last year's book, I want to do things differently. One major thing is that this year I can actually print pictures at home, so that means I don't have to wait for a trip to the photo counter to get my pictures. I also think I might try to lay out my whole scrapbook - i.e. have every page scrapbooked with space for a picture (standard 4x6 so I don't have to cut it down) and journaling - before the class starts, maybe before I start school next week, even.

Finally, I also want to do a little more journaling. Part of my problem with last year's lack of pictures is that I don't remember what I intended for some pages. So, I may have pictures, I just don't remember. One page in particular has the journaling "Today I learned I am blessed to be here." I don't remember why on that particular day I was feeling particularly blessed to be somewhere. I wish I could. That's the kind of thing to remember.

So, I'm off to start planning for this year's Learn Something New Everyday. Check out Shimelle's blog and see if you want to join in. It by no means has to be a scrapbooking class, though that is what it's tailored to. It could be a photo challenge, it could be a journaling challenge, it can be anything you want it to be.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bucket List

Did you see the movie The Bucket List? Pretty good movie. I'm a big fan of Morgan Freeman. Jack Nickolson, I can take or leave. And Sean Hayes is absolutely wonderful! (I really wish I could see him with Kristin Chenoweth in Promises, Promises, but that's a blog for another day!)

Anyway, on my last blog I began my own bucket list, or, as I liked to call it, a Life List. Since I seem to have moved over here, and am quite happy in my new blog home, I thought I'd bring my Life List with me and continue it. Here's what I had:

1. See the Grand Canyon.
2. Be a mom.
3. Direct Ragtime.
4. Write and teach a Harry Potter curriculum.
5. Be on NPR.
6. Have a party in my beautiful backyard. (It's not yet beautiful!)*
7. Travel to Italy, France, Germany, and Austria.
8. Learn to make a Wilton Flower.
9. Cook a meal without screwing something up.
10. See the Great Barrier Reef.
11. Live outside the U.S. for 3+ months.
12. Get a Master's Degree.
13. Weigh 130 lbs.
14. Bring Canvas bags to the grocery store. (check!)
15. Learn to dance ballet. (took a class... does that count?)
16. Learn to play the violin.
17. Sing jazz in a classy bar/night club.
18. Flip a house.
19. Visit every state in the U.S.
20. Learn to swim properly.

(*For number 6 (Have a party in my beautiful backyard), the backyard is different, but the intent is the same.)

So, here are 10 more things to add to my list:

21. Compete in a triathlon.
22. Play Natalie in Next to Normal. (It may be too late for this. I'm still coming to terms with that.)
23. Play Diana in Next to Normal.
24. Learn to play the guitar.
25. Get a Doctorate.
26. Play Cathy in The Last Five Years.
27. Be able to run a 5K.
28. Write a novel.
29. Take professional-quality pictures.
30. Make my own clothes.

Okay, I think I should probably work on some of these before I keep adding more!

Do you have a life list? What's on it?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday's Photo Challenge

Sunday held a new crop of photo challenges. I had a lot of fun with these, as I sequestered myself in the bathroom (good light and a blank wall) to get some self-portraits, and ended up with pictures for two of these challenges.

Challenge 13 was the self-portrait. I really like the way this turned out because of the bluriness. It gives it the idea of movement, which I feel describes me pretty well, especially once returning to school. I never seem to stop.

Challenge 14 asked whether we prefer candid or portrait shots. I definitely prefer candid, as I hate portrait shots of myself. I snapped this of my husband. His look says "not amused" - he doesn't particularly care for my camera antics.

The next challenge was to photo our scrapbook work space in the midst of a project. I've been working on the photo challenges, so my space hasn't had a chance to get too messy. Consider this a bragging shot. I love my scrapbook space! Since moving to a new house, we gave up the guest room for separate offices. I have an entire room to myself! I have a huge desk that my father-in-law made out of a table, and I put three bookcases on top for storage. It's a great set-up: plenty of room and all my supplies within reach!

To zoom out, I took a picture of our back yard. We have a great level yard with a cute little porch. I have many plans for this space: I'd like to build a garage, or maybe a bonus room, and possibly plant a garden. For now it's a blank slate.

I completed the second to last photo challenge of the day in the same "photo session" as my self-portrait. As I mentioned, I really don't like portraits of myself. I don't think I'm very photogenic. My smile always looks fake. So I decided to experiment a little with smiling and see if I could get a shot I liked. I'm pretty pleased with this one.

The final challenge, number 18, was general: take a picture of something at home. This is my money jar. In an attempt to eat more healthy, I've decided to give myself $10 for every pound I lose between now and Christmas. I'm keeping it in this jar as a visual reminder. I had a lot of fun decorating the jar with some extra fabric scraps left over from a baby quilt I made. I've already lost a few pounds!

So, that will do it for the photo challenges for Shimelle's scrapbook weekend. I had a lot of fun experimenting with taking pictures, and with having some inspiration for what to shoot. I want to improve my photography skills, so this at least got me more active in taking pictures. Seeing as I have less than two hours until the deadline for the crop, I don't think I'll be making any of the scrapbook challenges. I may use them for future inspiration!

Thanks, Shimelle, for an inspired weekend!

Photo Challenges for Saturday, 7-12

Since I can snap a picture pretty quickly, I decided to take on all of Shimelle's photo challenges first. Saturday held six new challenges.

Challenge 7 was to look up. I found this pretty cloud in my back yard. I love how when the sun hides behind clouds, it makes the clouds look dark and scary.

For Challenge 8 I got to play with one of my favorite sites, I Has a Hotdog! It certainly makes my day seeing cute pictures of dogs and cats, and the funny things people make them say. I relate, because I make my dog say funny things all the time. However, I've never considered myself clever enough to share one of those things with someone else. So, here's my first Loldog creation!

Challenge 9 was to take a picture of something in nature. This is a tree I planted. I think it's a maple tree. It actually started out as a weed in a friend's flower bed, but so far it seems to like its new home in my yard.

Shimelle says she loves taking pictures of shoes. I, too, enjoy a good shoe picture, and even included one in a mini-album I did of 10 reason I'm a lucky girl (reason 8 - I have three pairs of my favorite shoes in three different colors). However, for this below the knee challenge, I decided to, once again, bring in the dog.

Our dog is obsessed with feet. He loves licking toes, feet, ankles, and pretty much anything below the knee. So I caught a shot of him licking my feet one night as we were trying to go to sleep.

Challenge 11 called for a reflection shot. For our 5th anniversary, hubby got me a beautiful free standing mirror with a jewelry box inside. It sits right inside our bedroom, so I got a picture of our unmade bed through the mirror. When I was young, I loathed making my bed, so much that I got a futon and slept only with blankets. (I was a stubborn child.) One of the things I looked forward to about being an adult was not "having" to make my bed. We make it when we have company, of course, to put on appearances and all. But somedays it's nice to not worry about the state of your bedroom. And, it makes a made bed all that more special.

The final challenge for Saturday was to take a picture of something literary. This is my to-read shelf. It grows faster than I can read, to the point that I had to remove some of the decorative things that were on the far right side to make room for more books. There's everything on this shelf: a Rob Bell book, a couple of books from my youth, the Princess Bride, three books of the new line of novels from the publishing company I work for, the first Southern Vampire book, How to Read Literature like a Professor, The Lovely Bones, and Lamb. Lamb is a repeat (along with the books from my youth), but they're so enjoyable I can't wait to dive into them again.

So, that's Saturday! Up next - 6 more photos for Sunday's challenges.

Photo Challenge 6

The last photo challenge of the first day was appropriately to take a picture of a light in the dark. So here's mine:

Holy cow, I love True Blood! My husband and I are so addicted. We borrowed Season 1 from a friend (I now blame said friend for said addiction). We watched all 12 1-hour long episodes in one weekend. The following week, we re-activated our account with Netflix to get access to Season 2. That same week, the same friend with Season 1 acquired Season 2 and passed it along to us... which we then watched within the next weekend. (Are you with me?) Following our gulping Season 2, we have now added HBO to our cable plan solely to watch it.

I'm actually kind of ashamed, but not enough to do anything about it. Well, anything except curl up on the couch Sunday nights and watch the latest episode! Speaking of which... Russell is psycho, and I can't wait for Erik to kill him. Sookie needs to get over this Bill thing and realize he's a creep. And Tara, poor Tara, I know it must be horrible what she's been through, but that doesn't give her reason to treat everyone else like crap. I have to say, though, out of all of them, Jessica is my favorite. Us redheads have to stick together.

Photo Challenge 5

We were to photograph a sign for Challenge 5.
I struggled with this one, because I had no idea what sign to photograph. Then I saw this sign right outside my back door that I had never paid attention to before. We live really close to a major highway. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with this highway. Living so close to it instead of closer into town makes getting places so much easier - we just jump on the highway one direction and we're at Wal-mart, the other, and we're at the interstate in no time. But living so close to a highway involves much noise, which always makes the dog bark. And, a highway is not the best place to walk a dog, especially one who's terrified of big trucks. Whatever my feelings on the highway are at the moment, however, I thought this sign looked kind of cool, and was pleased with my picture of it. Maybe I'll get the hang of this photography thing after all.

Photo Challenge 4

Photo Challenge #4: Take a photo that contains explosive energy.

Okay, I kind of cheated on this one, because Shimelle suggested it in her post. However, it was not an easy picture to get! It's a picture of a match being lit. I used the timer on my camera to light it at just the right second. I like it. Definitely explosive!

Photo Challenge 3

Take a photo through the glass.

Do you know how hard that is? Especially with a not-so-great automatic, point-and-click camera! I tried and tried, but could never actually see what was on the other side of the glass. I suppose it's not technically through the glass if I raised the glass, but I did it anyway. Hey, it's still a window.

I wanted to get a picture of my dog (can you tell he's kind of spoiled?) Whenever he hears something outside our house, he runs to one of the two windows that's behind a couch and checks it out. So here he is checking out... well... me. Because I'm outside making noise. So he'll come to the window so I can take his picture. It's a big cycle, but it ended in a cute picture, don't ya think?

Photo Challenge 2

Photo Challenge 2 called for something manmade.

This is the porch swing that will hopefully some day actually be a swing again! For years it lived in my husband's grandmother's garage. When we bought our first house, she gave it to us as a gift to put on our new porch. It never quite made it, however. Now it has been moved to our second home, and it patiently waiting in its spot to be washed, sanded, painted, hung, and returned to its glory days. I'm envisioning it with green pillows...

Photo Challenge 1

For Shimelle's first photo challenge we were to take a picture of something up close.

This is my dog's tennis ball. It is rarely out in the open and not moving. If he sees it, he wants to play ball. I mean, that's what it's there for, right? But for some reason this evening, he left it behind for something slightly more important. Not much pulls him away from the ball - usually only thunder or a really loud truck that must be barked away. So while he was away, I snapped a close up of the tennis ball - because I may never get that close to it again!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Days

It's been awhile. July was eaten alive with class work. I took two education classes in my quest to be a certified English/Theatre teacher. And I also had a stumbling experience that I blogged about but have yet to post. I may yet. But it drained my blogging energy and consumed my thoughts, and since I wasn't ready to be public with my experience, I didn't blog at all.

But, here I am. I found out this weekend that a scrapbooker I follow, Shimelle, is hosting an online crop! I'm kind of excited because I haven't scrapbooked in at least a month and a half (July = 8 major class projects). She's posting challenges on the hour for 12 hours each day Friday-Sunday. Yes, it's Saturday night, and no I have yet to complete or even start any one of them. But, her "deadline" gives me all day Sunday and Monday to work, and that's only if I want to be entered to win something. Her challenges could simply be inspiration. Either way, I'm looking forward to a couple of happy days of scrapbooking!

So, since hubby returns to work Monday after the summer holiday, I will be home with only my work to distract me. And I think it can wait at least a day.

Check it out if you want to play along!