Quick Tip Tuesday: Scratch pad

ImageThe city I live in has a great, single-stream recycling program for residents, but does absolutely nothing for businesses.  It’s really frustrating.  My company, despite having adopted an Electronic Medical Record and going “paperless” a year ago, still seems to created a ton of paper that ends up being thrown away.  Everything with confidential information on it can be put in the shred bin and end up being recycled, but they’re a bit stingy about things that don’t, technically, need to be shredded (probably because they pay by the pound for that stuff).  So, I try to print front/back, bring home as much paper as I can to recycle, and find other things to do with the paper I have left.  One use for the blank sides of papers is making these little scratch pads.  I just cut or tear them up into quarters and use a binder clip to hold them together.  I take all my phone messages on these little pads and even use them instead of post-its when I can- just paperclipping the scrap page onto something that I’d normally stick a post-it on.

I even thought to decorate a binder clip to make things a little prettier.  I mod-podged on a piece of a lacy cloth napkin that I tea-dyed and then used silver marker paint on the left over black edges.  Little touches like this really add some fun to my workday and make me feel better about my own “footprint”.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning

IMG_8685For me, a good morning is a Sunday when I’m at church, drinking in the beauty of the music, the sanctuary, the words.  It renews me, refreshes me, and helps me pack up the week I just had and get ready for the week to come.  For me, that’s what Sabbath should be about.  Sometimes, though, the rest of the chaos and work I end up having to do on Sundays seems to get in the way.

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Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

I’ve been overwhelmed lately and haven’t had the time or energy to create much of anything.  And I haven’t liked it one bit.  But I have a little time tonight and felt the urge to blog… but what to say, share, do?  So I pushed the “Inspire me” link on WordPress and the image and quote above came up.  Of course, they’re pretty perfect for where my life has taken me right about now.

I’ve been thinking so much about balance, lately.  As I’ve been working to build a new department at my agency, one that I think I would truly love to run, I’ve had to give up a lot of the time I’d been able to spend on my crafting.   Things had gotten pretty stagnant in my last position and I had been able to do it without a lot of thought or effort.  This was a new sensation for me, as I’d always been pretty consumed by work (working in a mental health field can easily be all-consuming).  Luckily, I was able to channel the extra time and energy I had into my crafting and I realized that I’d gotten to really love that part of myself.

The quote speaks to me of my own “enlightenment”, or my moving up in the social services world into a position I’ve  always thought I wanted.  But the “ghosts” that I’m afraid that I’m creating are the possible ghosts of my creative, family,  and spiritual lives.  I’m afraid about work consuming my life once again, as it’s done at so many points in the past.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to do everything I want to do.  But I know there are things I need to do.  These are the things I’ve learned about myself in the past several months of having the creative time I’ve had:

– When I have the time to be creative, I feel alive.

– When I have the energy to participate actively in my faith community, I feel connected.

– When I feel alive and connected, I’m a great mother and wife.

So, what to do?

I’m so scared about being that little house in the picture with the sad title:  “love Don’t live here anymore”.   I’m scared about not being able to balance the pressures of work and life and still make time for the things that really feed my soul.  I’m scared that the career goal I’d always aspired to (moving up in the agency, having the chance to have a greater impact on the lives of a greater number of people) may end up being the thing that makes me into a person I don’t want to be.

How do you balance work and life and yourSELF?

International Day of Non-Violence

I learned from Amar Naik’s photo blog that today, October 2, is the International Day of Non-Violence (http://amarnaik.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/international-day-of-non-violence).  Commemorating the day that Mohandas Gandhi was born, it was first recognized by the United Nations in 2007.  This day, and what it represents, couldn’t come at a better time.  It seems that every time I turn on the news I hear of another homicide, terrorist attack or threat, or mass murder.  We’re struggling to create gun legislation that preserves a constitutional right to “bear arms” yet is balanced by the good sense and honest intent with which it was written.  Certainly, however, our forebearers could not have envisioned the kinds of weapons that are available on the streets these days and the senselessness with which they are used.  My own city has had 3 murders in the last 2 weeks, bringing our total to 15 this year.  We’ve already surpassed our total of 12 from last year and 2/3 of the people killed have been under 30.  Three of them were 19- not even old enough to legally drink.

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The city has reached out to local organizations and faith-communities to create Peace Flags as a sign of its dedication to teaching and striving for non-violence and they’re going to be hanging them along the parade route for our annual Thanksgiving weekend Balloon Parade.  The chorus that our boy sings in (and my mother co-founded) will be singing at the event and I look forward to it being an uplifting, powerful day.  Granted, it’s only a symbol, albeit an inspirational one, and there’s still so much work that needs to be done.

I was lucky enough to be able to work with my church’s Chapel Kids group (the alternative service for kids ages 7-12 at our church) to help create them.  The organization that’s sponsoring it supplied muslin rectangles and a rope to hang them from but allowed churches to decorate them with whatever materials and in whatever ways they wanted.  As inspiration, I found these beautiful prayer flags that Kate, from Ramblings from Utopia, made with her kids.  (http://www.ramblingsfromutopia.com/2012/05/wordlessful-wednesdays-prayer-flags.html)

We prayed on the topic and looked at some picture books about peace for inspirational images, and then the kids just had at it.  The week before, they had sketched ideas onto paper, the this Sunday I gave them Sharpies, fabric markers, and fabric to cut up and glue on (no one actually ended up using the fabric).  It was a really fun service (despite the mess) and the flags, and the hopeful message they represent, are beautiful.  Here are some of my favorites:

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If kids understand and value the concept so clearly and openly, why can’t our world leaders?  What are we doing wrong that has bred so much hatred, fear, and self-loathing among the members of our community that are so often party to this kind of violence, both as victims and as perpetrators?  Most important, when and how can we finally mend/heal/soothe the wounds and move forward into a civilization that truly values and is capable of non-violence?

Pumpkin Painting… dos and don’ts

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It’s pumpkin time!  That means pumpkin seeds, pumpkin lattes, and pumpkin decorations.  My wife’s alma mater, Bay Path College, held the 3rd Annual Carpe Diem Dash to benefit their scholarship fund.  A good friend of hers is the president of the Alumni Association, so we chipped in to help out (manning the water stations, not running).  I was also able to help with the decorations by painting pumpkins.

We went to the awesome farm that supplied the veggies for our wedding, Gooseberry Farms (http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farm.php?farm=1997), and they gave us an amazing deal on tons of pumpkins, gourds, hay, and a crazy-looking hubbard squash (grey food- who knew?).  I took some of the biggest ones and used Sharpies and acrylic craft paint to decorate them with “Carpe Diem” (the college’s motto- long before “Dead Poet’s Society“) and this year’s theme: “Be Bold”.

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The Sharpies and craft paint weren’t necessarily the best choices.  The Sharpies colored well but have such narrow strokes that I couldn’t do much other than write with them.  The black craft paint was great- it went on smoothly, stayed where I put it, and covered really well.  The pink was another story.  It went on really light (not opaque like the black) but when I tried to do a second coat, even after letting it dry, it wiped off the first coat in some places.  I had to go over it a few times, and even then I didn’t get the really “bold” color I was hoping for.  I think there are other things that would have worked better to decorate them.  Paint markers, maybe?

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I still think they made for great decorations, especially the way our friend arranged them.  I like that crazy hubbard squash the best.  But the real best part… they came home with us and are now decorating our front steps.

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Quick Tip Tuesday

IMG_8469Tuesdays are hard.  I spend half the day Monday trying to pick up where I left off on Friday and the rest of the day trying to find new ways to procrastinate for the week.  So, by Tuesday, I’m completely under water.  If there’s a Monday holiday… forget about it!  I might as well just take off the whole week.  I have all these quick “tips” on things I’ve tried to save time, the environment, sanity, that I thought I could do a “Quick Tip Tuesday” thing for a while (until I get sick of it or run out of ideas).

My first “Quick Tip” involves the mini bars of soap they give you in hotels.  I’ve always hated the idea of them just being thrown away after we leave (especially if we’re only there for a night), but they’re usually too small to do much else with.  On our last trip, I decided just to take them home (partially because they were Aveda, which I love but totally can’t afford).  I rinsed them off really well (both to get them wet and to get them as “clean” as possible) and then wrapped them in the cellophane that had been on one of the drinking cups my wife used and threw them in my suitcase.  By the time I unpacked (admittedly, a couple days after we got home), they were completely fused together and had formed almost a regular bar of soap, size-wise.

 

The wedding scrapbook continues

The network was down at work today so I came home, cleaned up my crafty table, and did another couple pages in our wedding scrapbook.  That was so much more fun than working!!  (Unfortunately, I’ll have twice as much work to do once the computers are up and running.)  I used sketches for challenges for both of them.  Challenges really inspire me and give me good inspiration that I can then build upon to make my own.  Here they are (with little iPhone app stickers to cover up the kids faces):

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This was inspired by the Scraps of Darkness and Scraps of Elegance.  It’s called “The Black Album Sketch Challenge” (http://scrapsofdarkness.com/Forum/index.php?topic=3531.0).  We had a lot of our photos printed in sepia, which I love and which seemed perfect for this challenge.  These photos are of my wife and myself with our boy (my “Best Man”) and our two flowergirls (on the left) and my wife and her “Maid of Honor” (on the right).  We went to a park near our house to take the photos and they turned out beautifully!  I like all the rounded edges and flourishes in the sketch, that I tried to get with some stickers.  The border was done with a white Pen-Touch marker (I’ve really been loving using white marker on dark backgrounds).

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This is for one of Sketch ~n~ Scrap’s September challenges (http://sketchnscrap.blogspot.com/2013/09/card-sketch-10.html).   It’s designed for a card, but it’s fun and easy to use the sketch in a scrapbook layout, too.  The sketch featured the three thick lines and a big circle around/through them.  I thought this paper worked perfectly because it incorporated the circle and the time element was at the forefront of the beginning of our wedding day (we were in a MAD RUSH to get everything set up)!  We had centerpieces made of different sized mason jars and vases with assorted purple ribbons tied around them (kind of a shabby chic look).  The florist made the bouquets a little more full than I had hoped (I was hoping for more of the sparse, loose look), and they actually ended being top heavy.  That, paired with the wind that day, had them all falling over as soon as we put them out.  With a couple hours before everyone was about to show up, we were desperately trying to add pebbles (from our rock garden) to weigh them down.  When that didn’t work, we just pulled the flowers out of all the taller vases and laid them down in the centers of the tables.

Here’s the completed page with my journalling added (the sketch didn’t really have a space that I could neatly fit journaling in to because it was made for a card):

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Both background papers are from Die Cuts With a View’s (http://www.dcwv.com/) “Heirloom Stack” (I love their paper.  I have that one and “Tattered Time”, with a cool Steampunk feel)