• "Oh, if I could only put things into words as I see them! Mr. Carpenter says, 'Strive, strive -- keep on. Words are your medium -- make them your slaves -- until they will say for you what you want them to say.' That is true, and I do try, but it seems to me there is something beyond words -- any words -- all words -- something that always escapes you when you try to grasp it -- yet leaves something in your hand which you wouldn't have had if you hadn't reached for it. ... I have written myself out for tonight, and am going to bed."
    - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Emily Climbs

    This is my place to "write myself out" -- sharing both my day-by-day thoughts and my artistic output. Thank you for visiting! - Carmen Pauls Orthner
  • contact

Project Life – Week 1, Jan. 1-8, 2012

Filed under Project Life 2012,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 5, 2012

And here we start into the actual weekly documentation! :) My kit actually arrived the third week of January, but I had been enthusiastically storing memorabilia, taking photos and taking notes for my journaling, so it wasn’t too much trouble to get caught up. (Wish I could say that now — I have a lot of catching up to do with our summer photos. This blog sharing will help motivate me to get those pages done!)

This year started on a Sunday, and I’m running my weeks Monday to Sunday, so I just added New Year’s Day photos to the beginning of the week. I’m not sure how I’ll juggle the “short weeks” at the beginning and end of each year with future volumes of Project Life, but for this year it was okay. (On a technical note — today the snow in La Ronge was melting (!), but it was still really cold out on my deck, and it was getting toward late afternoon (ie. less light), so I decided to try taking the photos inside by the window. What do you think? Does the lighting look okay? I didn’t notice until I was editing these photos that I was in such a hurry to get the spread photo taken that two of the cards slid out of their pockets! Oops. I’ll be more careful next time.) I took a lot of photos on our weekend trip, and those ended up being my first insert — I just cut a Design C page protector in half, but Becky Higgins has this three-pocket look now with one of her new designs, if that interests you. :) I think I may add a tab on the edge to make the smaller-sized insert more obvious, as it seems to blend in too much in these photos…. Anyhow — here are some closer looks at the individual pages.

I really liked that Gilda Radner quote, and there was a good bit of “white space” on the postcard design for this title card, so I added it in. The photos include a post-midnight New Year’s Eve game of “Ticket to Ride: Europe” with our friends (and pastor couple) John and Timea, playdough on the Disney Princesses table Sara got for Christmas (I was aiming for a snail with my pink and green creation — there is a snail character in what was then Sara’s favourite DVD, “Babies Love Music”), John and Timea playing with Sara, and Bryan attempting to settle Sara for the night. I also journaled about my One Little Word for the year, which was “light”.

I want to get back in the habit of adding this sort of memorabilia, which to me is one of the nicest things about the pocket pages — just slip those bits in, and they are preserved as part of our lives instead of just landing in the recycling box. The recipe was actually scanned in and added to some digital paper, just because it was too big, but you can still see the egg stain on it. ;)

The photos here include a collage of images from a weekday at home, me admiring my new haircut, a hospital stay, and a visit with friends in Prince Albert, the city nearest to us (a 2.5-hour drive).

Isn’t that the best quote?! :D

I had some medical tests done that week, and ended up fainting — very strange experience. I had my husband take a photo with his Black Berry (good scrapbooker, right? — must stay dedicated to the cause… ;) ), and also saved my appointment card and the lid from the orange juice I had after my tests were done.

The friends we stayed with in P.A. were Wilna and Jaco Furstenberg — Wilna is a fairly well-known designer/instructor in the scrapbooking industry, and we got to know her and her family because they live fairly near us, and Wilna taught an on-line course I took. They are from South Africa, so it’s kind of neat to be posting these pictures today — we had our first call via Skype this morning with our new supervisor in Johannesburg. The little photo is of the Furstenbergs’ dogs, and then there’s a seasonal embellishment that happened to be the tag from Sara’s new pajamas.

Front and back of the insert with our weekend photos — we had some missions support-raising appointments in Saskatoon, and stayed with friends who used to live in La Ronge, and also shared a meal with another SIM couple and their kids.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Project Life – Introducing Us

Filed under Project Life 2012 • Written by Carmen @ November 3, 2012

When I began Project Life in January, our expectation was that we would be moving in August to Toronto, Ontario — two provinces away from our home in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, and a city of 6 million people as opposed to La Ronge’s population of just over 3,000. So I decided that I would start my album with an introduction to “us right now” — where we live, our ages, occupations, activities, etc. — so as to compare and contrast with where we were at come December. As it turns out, we are still here in La Ronge, but will be moving next year to South Africa — an even more dramatic change! — so I am very glad to have this record of our last full year, with all its holidays and seasons. Anyhow — that was the motivation behind these next couple of pages, but they will also be useful should anyone come across our albums some time in the future and want to know a little bit about the “main characters”, setting, etc. :) (By the way — I have been photographing these pages on my deck, as I get more accurate lighting outside, so that is the reason for the patches of white (snow!) visible in a few of the clear spots on the page protectors. Just in case you’re wondering. ;) )

A few close-ups…

I used Google Maps to get this satellite view of our little town, the neighbouring village and several First Nations (Native American) reserves. It’s neat seeing how small “our world” is, compared to the huge lakes — especially Lac la Ronge to the right.

I decided to do “12 words to describe us in 2012″, from the other person’s point of view — I cribbed from a love letter for my husband Bryan’s words about me; that’s why his words are more poetic. ;) Bryan works in the IT field, so I picked a patterned paper that reminded me of a motherboard, and I was taking Melody Ross’s Soul Restoration class when I made these pages, so I picked a paper with colours and images that reminded me of the Brave Girls Club she runs, and added a fabric label that she designed.

This card, and the one with the lightbulb image and Dr. Seuss quote on the blue background, were among my first attempts at using digital embellishments in my scrapbooking, so I was rather proud of them, simple as they are. ;) I used several lines from a “Schoolhouse Rock” song to focus on us being a family of three, and I added a glittery heart to highlight the number 3. :)

Thanks for taking a look at my pages — I really appreciate it. :) On a technical note — please let me know your thoughts on the photos (eg. are there too many?) and their presentation. I’m working on an iMac with a large screen, so I like being able to see the full-sized images, but they may be too big for some screens. I could make it so you can click to see the bigger version. They are mostly sized to 600 or 650 pixels on the largest dimension (either vertical or horizontal). I hope the size works, but I’d appreciate any feedback. :) Thanks again for visiting.

Project Life – Welcoming 2012

Filed under Project Life 2012 • Written by Carmen @ November 1, 2012

Here is the opening page for volume 1 of my 2012 Project Life album collection. :)

I wanted a playful look for the start of my album, so I cut up a sheet of Sassafrass paper with an explosion of rainbow colours and hot air balloons, and used the pieces to frame the page. I like that the little boy is a redhead, like me (thank you Penny’s Hair Design ;) ), as is, of course, Raggedy Ann on the “postage stamp”.

I also wanted my opener to say a few things about what the album would be about — stories that tell the truth of our year in both its good and difficult times (I like how that card from the Clementine collection looks like a bookplate that would be stuck in the front of a book, and the word strip has both “joyful” and “hard times”), about the three of us (thus the “O3″ and the pen-framed photo of us), sent out as a visual “letter” to anyone who cares to read it (the “airmail envelope” card with the camera sticker), full of both photos and memorabilia (like that Canon printer cartridge box).

I really believe those words I added to the hot air balloon: “An ordinary life becomes great when remembered well.” And the balloons themselves, lifting up and away, convey a lovely image of being open to possibilities and moving forward, yet going slowly enough to really experience the journey — and, now that I think about, these albums provide the view from high up, allowing for a big picture view of what we’ve been through this year. :)

2012 in the books

Filed under Project Life 2012,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @

This has been a very, very full year for us, and Project Life has been a Godsend for me, by enabling/forcing me to pay attention to the good, cope with the bad, and celebrate so many of the big and little moments of our lives here. It’s a year that has not turned out as I anticipated — ie. I thought that by now, we would have moved to Toronto — but instead, I have been able to capture our last full year in La Ronge. Next year, we will be re-locating much farther away than we had ever dreamed: to Johannesburg, South Africa, where we will be serving as full-time missionaries with SIM (Serving In Mission) in the Region of Southern Africa office. I am very excited (and truthfully, more than a little nervous/scared…) to see what 2013 will look like for us.

With the year nearly over, I’ve decided that since I have been far more faithful with this Project Life approach than any of my previous “documentation attempts”, I will start at the beginning of my album, and share it with you. Since I don’t know any other local Project Lifers, I have derived a lot of inspiration from the many Project Life bloggers I’ve encountered, and I thought perhaps I could contribute a bit myself to the well of inspiration. I’d love to hear any feedback you want to share.

My goal is to share every other day from now through the end of December, and then in 2013, I will post once a week with either the current week’s pages or one very recent — most likely on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, depending on how organized I am! I run my weeks from Monday to Sunday to keep the weekends together, and Monday is generally a less busy day than the rest, so my aim will be to finish my pages by Monday night and photograph them on Tuesdays.

Okay — here we go. :)

Sharing a bit of Project Life

Filed under Project Life 2012 • Written by Carmen @ June 21, 2012

For the last few months, I’ve been concentrating my scrapbooking energy on my 2012 Project Life album, but I haven’t gotten organized enough to share any of it. My friend Hillary asked to see what I’ve been working on, so I decided I’d post this past week’s layout. Hope you find it interesting, Hillary! :)

I am doing a layout every week, using the Project Life Design A page protectors as my base, and I go from Monday to Sunday to keep weekends together. Sometimes I will add an extra page protector to include more content — this week I used a 6″x12″ protector, with my “summer manifesto” (from a post at Willow Traders) on the front and some Father’s Day photos and journaling on the back, using a modified version of one of Ali Edwards’ 6×12 templates from Designer Digitals. I use a mix of digital and paper (aka hybrid) in my album. Most weeks I do basically mini layouts or photo collages in the 4×6 pockets, but this week I adopted Ali’s idea and did a 4×6 food shot for each day, and I added a journaling card (combining two — one by Nisa Fiin with the days of the week and then a low opacity one by “The Splendidly Imperfect Miss M” with a restaurant charge slip, with “On The Menu” using Elisa Blaha Cripe’s handwriting font) with what each photo represented. I saved most of the journaling this week for my insert pages, although I did journal about making the float for Sara, and about a ministry support-raising appointment we did via Skype, using one of the Project Life fold-out cards. The multi-coloured quote is an image I found on Pinterest.

Okay, here are the photos:

This is the full spread, with the inserts

Without the inserts

My summer manifesto

Father's Day

Left side

Right side

And there you go. :) Feel free to ask me any questions. :)

Doubling up

Filed under Cards,Challenges,Fresh on Fridays,Layouts,Project Life 2012,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 18, 2011

This past weekend was the big crop weekend at Cocoa Daisy, which is held twice a year (April and November) — and man, was it ever intense, and FUN. So much fun, in fact, that I didn’t end up taking a break from the festivities (and crafting!) on Friday, which was my original plan since I didn’t have anything really “fresh” to share earlier in the day. So, although I did post on Monday about Nat Kalbach’s ornament swap, I will consider this post to be two weeks worth of sharing. :) I’m hoping I will still be able to finish up one or two more projects based on the crop challenges, so you might even see a bonus post from me.

Maybe I’ll start, though, by sharing what’s freshest on my mind, and that’s that I’ve decided to try out Project Life for 2012. In 2009, I bought one of the original Project 365 (an earlier “incarnation” of the same product line by Becky Higgins) kits to do for 2010 — thinking that I would do it as a “photo a day” to have a record of my last months of pregnancy and most of Sara’s first year. I bought it “second hand” but unused, so it was already pre-assembled, and I actually did quite well with the “photo a day” part. I also journaled in bits and pieces, mostly in the “what does your day look like” thread on Willow Traders, but I never did get ANY of the journaling cards written because I let myself think I had to record every key detail on those cards or nothing at all. I also tried to “batch process” weeks worth of photos at one time, and it just didn’t work. There’s a part of me that still hopes I’ll be able to finish that album (it has photos printed for January through May, and all the memorabilia, notes, etc. are in a box in my closet), but sadly, I doubt it.

So, I know going into 2012 that I have to adopt a different strategy or it won’t work. There have been refinements to the product line — starting with the name change — to shift away from the calendar year specific/daily entries approach, and this coming year there are more page protector styles to allow for vertical photos, bigger memorabilia, etc., as well as new colour schemes. So, I liked that idea — and I also really liked what I’ve started seeing on various people’s blogs, which includes being more flexible/”forgiving” of yourself if you miss a day here and there, and including more of the “stuff” of life, little snippets of conversation, kids’ art, etc. — and even getting your family involved.

What sealed the deal for me, I think, was seeing how you can approach a week of your life (or even a month, if you prefer) as a single spread, in this very simple, slide-it-into-the-pockets-and-you’re-done album, and if you miss a day — so what, you’ve got a concise, beautifully presented portrait of this period of time. And then, if some weeks you want to take a more artsy approach to the spread, adding your own embellishments/doodads or patterned paper or inking or whatever techniques appeal to you, that’s great too — and you can add in extra pocket pages, or long journaling blocks, or an envelope of memorabilia.

I’ve enjoyed seeing Ali Edwards’ Project Life pages all year, and over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading a number of other blogs and especially appreciated the detailed, “this is how I make it work” posts from people like Lisa Truesdell and Marcy Penner (fellow Canadian, and I’m guessing fellow Mennonite too). I’m totally cribbing Marcy’s “Project Life station”, using the baker’s rack I bought and put in our kitchen/dining area a few months ago. It’s become an overflow area for household papers, but I’m going to reclaim it for this project.

I justified the purchase of the materials as most of my Christmas gift from Bryan’s parents (who have us buy our own gifts with money they give us in advance), so I’m a bit disappointed that because of a “hiccup” (what does that mean, exactly?!), the Canadian distributor isn’t able to send out orders with the newest Project Life designs (Clementine and Cobalt) until mid-December — which means it won’t be here in time for the Orthners’ get-together on Dec. 10, and (with the Christmas shipping craziness) likely not even before we leave Dec. 22 for our time with my parents in Regina. But I’m still excited, and once I get a few (!) other things cleared off my house/craft project list, I will start setting up my Project Life station. :) Wheeeee!! I’m also planning another year-long project (One Little Word) for 2012, but I’ll talk about that some other time.

So… back to the Cocoa Daisy crop, and some project sharing! Perhaps I should adopt a philosophy of “what happens at the crop, stays at the crop” ;) but it’s all out there on a message board anyhow — so I will say that there was a lot of silliness and sharing of “cringe-worthy” experiences (mine involved a spruce beetle and a roomful of high-ranking politicians) and hot celebrity photos, a madcap (or so I’m told!) game of bingo, frenzied one-hour challenges (I tried the first one — almost got done in time, but not quite), goofy crop nametags (I even posed wearing mine), and some EXCELLENT dialogues with some of the scrapbooking/mixed media industry’s top names — the one with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer was my favourite. (And I even found out the back story on why she uses “milkcan” as her username — and it’s not just because that’s the name of the theatre company she founded.) There some great classes too, such as on stitching techniques and graffiti art, which I want to go back and read through, and try out the techniques.

The theme of the whole weekend was “Craft Fair”, and there were 20 different challenges from the Cocoa Daisy design team and guests (including Julie Balzer, Amy Tan (aka “Amy Tangerine”), Vicki Boutin and Ali Edwards), all using that theme as their jumping off point — like for example with “Jams and Jellies”, the challenge was to use one of the “fruit/veggie inspired” colour schemes for your layout. The challenges are still open, actually, until this Sunday night — so if you want to enter one or more of them, head over to Cocoa Daisy. :)

I completed five of the numbered challenges, which for me is amazing — Bryan was so sweet, and gave me Friday and Saturday (and part of Sunday, although we also attended church and had a great lunch, I made cupcakes since it’s was Bryan’s 41st birthday, and then had his brother and sister-in-law over for supper, cupcakes and a game of “Bonkers”) to just focus on my crafting. On Wednesday night, I stayed up WAY too late working on another of the challenges, and maybe I’ll get that done and shared later this weekend.

The first of the challenges I finished was a layout based on a sketch by Vicki Boutin, and I documented Sara’s 2nd Halloween. I even recycled the wrappers from my crop snacks — leftover Halloween candy. ;) The journaling reads: “For several days around Halloween 2011, it was a constant refrain around our house: ‘Connie. Connie. Connie.’ And truth be told, I was getting irritated, even a little jealous. I mean, I KNEW Sara liked her once-a-week babysitter, Connie Venn, but come on – surely being with Mama was okay, too?! I don’t know how it finally clicked. Maybe it was at the Parents and Tots get-together, when Lori Howe brought out orange-and-black treat bags for all the little kids (and, um, their moms…) to dig into and Sara started sampling the box of Smarties, or maybe when she was eagerly running to the door (even the next day) whenever the doorbell rang, so that she could give each person something out of the bowl…. Whenever it was, I finally clued in – yes, sometimes she wanted Connie, but most of the time, she just wanted CANDY. And (within reason!) I’m totally okay with that!”

I also tried out Ali Edwards’ challenge to “go big with your text”, for which I decided to haul out my acrylic paint, my ancient (and mostly unused) foam letter stamps and some smaller acrylic stamps, and try making some word art out of a quote from John Milton: “Grace was in all her steps, and heaven in her eye” (got an extra “was” in there by accident). I had been wanting to do a layout about Sara’s fascination with her shoes — especially these red ones that squeak when she walks — and this seemed like a good opportunity.

I tackled the “clothing” challenge next, which involved taking inspiration from one of the posted items of clothing, and using it to create a Christmas card. I used a picture of a long grey coat with wooden buttons and strips of coloured fabric to create this card. The candle in the “Merry and Bright” title was an attempt to cover up some problematic stamping (the “i” bent and smeared ink on my project), but I thought it worked out reasonably well. Here is the inspiration piece:

And my card:

As you can perhaps see in the background of that shot of my Christmas card, it has been snowing here, which made photographing these two remaining projects a challenge. The text on the black-and-white layout got smeared a bit by falling snow when I tried to photograph it on our deck, and the other layout was photographed on my crafting desk, and the lighting in my office is not the best for photographing. But that’s what I’ve got right now….

Anyhow, the black-and-white layout — which combines some of my reflections on what the word “church” means to me, and photos taken (for the most part) at our friends John and Timea Patterson’s induction as our pastor couple — was done in response to a challenge to use a photo of a black-and-white ceramic piece as our inspiration, using no other colours. Here is the piece that I used:

I took my title from a song by Carolyn Arends (here are the lyrics).

Journaling: “Church, to me, is a gathering together as believers (and those seeking, and those struggling, and those just wondering) to worship, work, learn and celebrate the fact that God is in His heaven and yet here among us as well. I’ve had the privilege to “do church” in many different settings – cathedral and lakeshore, in a salt mine once visited by Nicolaus Copernicus, in a school gym – and it all comes back to the same thing: we worship together.

The local church serves many roles. It is a place for teaching – a role played out in Sunday School classes, small group settings and the sanctuary. The church is a place to learn the foundations of faith, both theology and Bible stories, to gain an appreciation for the history of the Christian faith and to discover ways in which we can be stretched and deepen our faith.

The church is a place to work out the meaning of community, in relationships with people of every generation and background, some we like and some we don’t. The church is a starting point for discovering the meaning of a “social gospel”, in which good news means more than just the news of salvation, but a practical working out of that salvation here on earth – tending to the needs of the hurting of heart, mind and body.

The church is a place for honouring ritual and tradition – prayers of intercession, laying on of hands, baptisms, weddings, communion, the celebrations of the church year. The church is potluck suppers and libraries, games nights and prayer nights, potato sack races and Dixie Cups of ice cream served with little wooden spoons at summer picnics, Christmas pageants where a small, uncoordinated angel might accidentally knock over one of the pillars of heaven, farewell barbecues and graduation parties with streamers and balloons in the lobby in front of the sanctuary: in other words, the church shows us how to see God in all the activities of our daily lives, as well as in the most profound and extraordinary moments. The church is where we learn how to carry out the message of the cross: the vertical line to God, the horizontal line to one another.

And finally, the church is a place of “sending out” to the world – to proclaim the good news to our neighbours, whether they live next door or on the other side of the globe. And the role of the Christian is to drink deeply of it all, to learn and then become a teacher, to send and, as God wills, be sent. We are to participate in the life of our church, not just sit in a pew on Sunday morning and then slip out the door before anyone notices us. We are to serve according to our gifts, and be willing to test ourselves, to go beyond our “comfort zone” and see what God has for us to do.”

And then finally, I did a layout about me. This started out as my incomplete one-hour challenge layout, but it fit so neatly into the “home baked” challenge that all I had to add was some sparkly items (the white and red pearls), write the journaling and call it done. (The other requirements were something white, something red, something with dimension/texture, and answers to some questions about ourselves.)

Okay, that’s it for now. I may try to get some better photos of those last two layouts if the weather is decent. If you’ve gotten this far, I thank you — I think this is the longest blog post I’ve ever written, so I hope it makes up for my absence last week. This coming week I plan to get back to my December Daily preparations, and get to work on my ornament for the swap — I can’t believe December is nearly here already!! Thank goodness my Christmas shopping is 90 per cent done…. I’m hoping to find one or two more gifts at the local craft fair this weekend.

Cheers! (Oh, and happy Thanksgiving this coming week to my American friends.)

Ornament swap!

Filed under Challenges,Christmas • Written by Carmen @ November 8, 2011

I am so excited — I have decided to participate in a homemade Christmas ornament swap, “Secret Santa” style (ie. one piece sent anonymously). It is being organized by Nathalie (“Nat”) Kalbach, and this is the fifth year of the swap, so I know it’s got some “street cred” behind it. (The picture in the logo above is one of last year’s ornaments.) I have committed to making and mailing an ornament by Dec. 1, and I should receive one in the mail some time after that.

If you are interested too, here is the post on Nat’s blog. :) She is taking new participants until Nov. 15.

Now to start brainstorming ornament ideas…!

Fresh baked numbers, anyone?

Filed under Christmas,Fresh on Fridays,Projects • Written by Carmen @ November 5, 2011

So sorry about not being timely with my weekly post — instead of writing for my blog yesterday during Sara’s nap, I was in the midst of glue and paper scraps and buttons and glitter. As a result, though, this week’s content is about as fresh as it gets!

I’m starting work on my December Daily (an album project started by Ali Edwards a few years ago, and since adopted by legions of her fans ;) ), as this year I’m determined to make an actual, physical album instead of simply recording the season here on my blog. So, I’m following Ali’s lead in creating my “foundation pages” for the album, well in advance. It’s been a treat getting into the “Christmas spirit” so early — hopefully I’ll still be excited by the time December actually arrives.

I haven’t actually constructed the album pages yet, as I decided to start with the numbering for my pages. These are a combination of “cake mix” and “from scratch” — I picked up a hybrid (printable digital images) kit from Elle’s Studio, which was intended for making an advent calendar, and adapted it to work for December Daily. I think the only ones that I made exactly “by the recipe” were the silhouetted “12″ and the very glittery “9″ — I used almost an entire bottle of glitter, and pressed it down with a brayer, so that sparkly stuff isn’t coming off the snowflake. (It’s not coming off the brayer, either! — though I’ve mostly removed it from my desk, the sink, etc.). The others that are from the kit I added bits to, such as word stickers, inking, buttons and “bling”, or took elements away/added replacements.

I made a couple of the numbers out of “scraps” from other pieces, including the “14″ (a bit of the pink music paper from the kit’s “16″, the “celebrate” from another piece, and some green Thickers numbers), “16″ (foam number stickers, black pen and a piece of the patterned paper from “13″), and the “21″ (a tag from the kit’s “1″, and elements from my stash).

I am rather pleased with my “from scratch” numbers, and the ones that I changed the most. “1″ was made with a piece of translucent ribbon and a piece of cardstock to which I added black number stickers as a mask, then sprayed with several colours of ink, and peeled off the stickers, then edged with black ink. I kind of like the spots where the ink “bled” under the stickers, giving the letters a funky edge. The gingerbread man (“23″) was originally #14, and I kept his recipe and basic shape, but gave him a new number with some fuzzy Doodlebug numbers, some black mini-brad eyes and some extra “browning” with ink. I also added a punched out piece of a Saskatchewan map showing the city where my parents live, as we will be arriving there that day.

For “22″, I found a 7Gypsies vintage ephemera card, with a poster for the movie “Gypsy Girl”, as that’s the day we’ll be on the road to my parents’ home. “10″ uses the basic structure of the kit sample, but I made the little vertical pocket out of a piece of pinked fabric (from K and Company, I believe) and a ribbon that was on a gift I received a while back, so it was already nicely tied. I think Dec. 10 is the day we are having a gift exchange with Bryan’s siblings, so that should work nicely in the album. And then for “24″ — we have a stack of funny “parenting flashcards”, and I found the word “swaddle” in the box. I had the Scripture about the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger in mind, and Dec. 24 in Regina always includes a beautiful evening worship service at my parents’ church, so I decided to go with that.

So that’s what I’ve been working on. This post is rather long already, so since Corrie has posted my last two layouts on her blog and done a nice job with it, I will just link you up to it. You might like to see my guest designer feature on the Burlap & Buttercups blog as well.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Edited to add: You may have noticed that there is no “19″ in the photos above. I have finally finished that one, as of nearly midnight — as you will see, it involves an accordion flower, and between my troubles with that and my difficulties with the tissue paper flower I tried to make during the Crop and Create event I went to in September, I’m starting to think I have as much of a black thumb with paper flora as I do with the real kind! Bryan and I finally got it figured out, although we got the accordion too tight and I had to make a few modifications to the piece as a result. Here it is. :)

Halloweens past

Filed under Layouts • Written by Carmen @ October 29, 2011

As promised, here are a few more Halloween projects.

First up — “Halloween Runaways”. This one is actually the most traditionally coloured of the lot, which makes a bit ironic that its purpose is in part to help explain why we don’t like Halloween all that much!

As I’ve mentioned, Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday — and a big part of the reason is that some of the behavior we’ve encountered as candy give-outers, from surly teenagers with no costume who just want hand-outs (no “thank you” or even “trick or treat” sometimes!) to being egged — after spending the evening handing out a lot of expensive candy and then helping the neighbourhood Crime Watch group do street cleaning. In 2000, we moved a block and suddenly the number of trick-or-treaters doubled or even tripled, because Studer Street is considered a “good hand-outs” street I guess. So, for several years, my husband and I scheduled our medical appointments in the nearest city, Prince Albert, for Oct. 31, drove down, and enjoyed an elegant meal out, and one year, got a private showing (because no one else bought tickets!) of “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”, and stayed in a hotel for the night. The journaling notes I took are still somewhere in my papers (the journaling will eventually go behind the skeletal couple), but I did print a bit of free verse on some big ric-rac (by taping it onto the paper I’d printed the journaling on, and then running it through the printer again), and I added some photos of us and our road snacks, and the decorations we saw in P.A.

The journaling (what there is, for now) reads: “On Studer Street the seekers roam / Sponge Bob, Spidey, Captain Jack / Dragging sacks from house to house / So why that one locked and dark? / None but ghosts hear a doorbell gong…”

In 2004, I worked as a research assistant for Maggie Siggins, a Governor General’s Award-winning non-fiction writer, while she was putting together material for a book about a northern Saskatchewan First Nations (North American Indian, for my U.S. readers) community called Pelican Narrows. Maggie and her husband Gerry have a cabin at Jan Lake, a resort area that’s about a 45-minute drive (over gravel) from Pelican Narrows, and she used the cabin as her “home base” while working on the book. (It was eventually titled Bitter Embrace: White Society’s Assault on the Woodland Cree.) Pelican Narrows is officially a “dry” reserve (ie. no alcohol allowed), which means the bar in Jan Lake is very popular. My work with Maggie happened to be in late October, which meant I was in Jan Lake on Halloween that year — and this layout records what happened.

The layout design was inspired by an art inspiration challenge organized by Shelby Valadez, who kindly sent me this piece: (I was pleased to discover in searching for this image that I have quite a wealth of additional abstract art pieces, both ones that Shelby sent me and ones that I found on my own, stored on my computer for future use. Might just have to challenge myself that way again….) The strips of newspaper I used under the title are from some of my own newspaper articles about northern issues.

The journaling reads: “You’d think we’d have known better…. There we were on Halloween night in the bar at Jan Lake’s Miniquay Lodge, a 45-minute drive over washboard gravel and through northern forest and rock from the only nearby community: Pelican Narrows. Surrounding us were dozens of First Nations people from Pelican, ready to party with bottles of beer, grinning jack-o’-lanterns and a promised concert by local musicians (including Archie the one-armed guitarist). They: kids from the trapline, raised hunting moose and netting walleye. We: a celebrated non-fiction writer from the big city, currently living in a cabin while researching for her latest book, and a small-town newspaper reporter engaged as the author’s research assistant. So what would a visitor to the bar that night have seen? A bunch of people wearing jeans and t-shirts and happily getting drunk, one “old man” in a trenchcoat (the bar manager, who can trace his Metis ancestry back to the fur trade), one ghoul (the bouncer, who quickly apprehended my fishing pole lest it be used by someone as a weapon), and one face-painted knight in armour (a direct descendant of Chief Peter Ballantyne, the band’s namesake). Oh, and a couple of reporters dressed as a trapper (complete with toy moose) and a fisher ‘man’. There’s one cardinal rule on the annual night of dress-up: on Halloween, no one is who he or she looks to be. And despite our garb – and Maggie’s months of research for her book on Pelican Narrows, and all those articles I’ve written in the last seven years – we remain… NOT QUITE NORTHERN.”

And finally, a layout in comic strip style! My husband was very sweet and not only wore his clown costume and makeup all day at work, but let me take photos of him. I had a lot of fun with the sequins and silliness, trying to suggest both the circus and a kids’ book with my design. (Click on either photo to make it larger.)

The journaling reads: “1. Here is Clown. Clown yawns and stretches. It will be a long, long day. 2. Here is Clown in his Clown Car, on his way to work. See how sad he is. His little blue Clown Car is very, very empty, because all the other Clowns have called in sick today. 3. Here is Clown in a meeting with his boss, Dad Clown. Dad Clown has lots of advice for the young Clown on how to make people laugh when they are sad. He is a good teacher. 4. Clown has learned his lessons well! Dad Clown NEVER laughs in photos! He is a very serious, respectable man. Hurray for Clown! 5. Lunchtime for hungry Clown. He is very talented — look at him cooking pasta and reading a book at the SAME time. Wow! 6. Mmm… what a yummy hamburger. Thanks Clown! 7. Here is Clown on the telephone with Computer Supplier. Computer Supplier doesn’t know it’s Clown on the other end of the line. Hee hee. Shhh, don’t tell! 8. It’s time to go home, but Clown’s day is not over yet. Clown has lots of work to do — soon there will be Ghosties and Goblins at the door! Clown will be so busy answering the doorbell and handing out candy. Careful, Clown, don’t give away too much or there won’t be any left. Oh, wait, it’s not Clown who’s using up all the candy — it’s Wife! She keeps eating the candy! And then she gives away too much and Clown has to give out microwave popcorn instead and finally turn out the lights. 9. Aww… look at that. Clown is tired. No wonder — Clown has had a long, long day. Good night Clown!”

(Note: “Dad Clown” actually is Bryan’s dad Nelson, a retired school principal who was also Bryan’s boss at the time at the information technology company they both worked for. And he is notorious for not smiling for photos! Bryan also likes to multi-task — he is forever doing household tasks with a book in hand, including cooking, which he does most of in our house. And yes, I am Wife, and our candy shortage that night was entirely my fault. ;) )

Thanks for walking down this dark and spooky memory lane with me. ;)


Filed under Fresh on Fridays,Layouts • Written by Carmen @ October 28, 2011

In the “spirit” of Halloween (insert groans here — preferrably with ghostly chains rattling!), I thought I’d share some of my oddly large collection of Halloween layouts. I say “oddly large” because Halloween isn’t really one of my favorite holidays — especially all the death imagery — but I’ve actually found it easier to scrapbook than Christmas, which is much more dear to me. With most of my Halloween layouts, I’ve found it easier to follow the story where it leads me, rather than using the usual colours (orange/black/purple/green) or imagery (spiderwebs/monsters/pumpkins…). In that way, Halloween becomes a backdrop rather than the focus of the layout.

This first one is actually not a Halloween layout per se — but it seemed to fit, and in a way it’s more traditionally “Halloween-ish” than most of my “real” Halloween layouts. :) This was what happened here on Oct. 4 — Sara’s (and her sweater’s, and the carpeted stairs’, and the linoleum’s) close encounter with a bottle of red dye intended for making homemade soap.

I think this layout marks the fastest turnaround from “event” to “layout” in my 14 years of scrapbooking — I had it done just hours after of the event depicted. I felt an urge to create something to immortalize this, and for once, my scrapping area was clean enough and my supplies organized enough to do it. Years before I became a mama, I’d read an article in a scrapbooking magazine that exhorted, “Don’t get mad, take pictures” — so as I was taking my daughter off to clean her up, I grabbed my camera and snapped a very quick photo for posterity. It wasn’t well-framed or well-lit, so I played with it in Photoshop Elements, added a couple of filters (Dark Strokes and Poster Edges), cropped it tight and printed it big. :) The background is an old patterned paper from Paper Loft, which I had in the “urban/grunge” section of my patterned paper collection and thought went well, with its splashes of red against the neutrals and the “eye” in the background (or is it just me who sees that??). I found the “Frightfully Delightful” border strip in my tiny collection of Halloween papers, and the old movie poster on-line, and the cartoon werewolf was from a .99 digital kit from Two Peas. This was just a lot of fun to create. :)

And then this one was created a few weeks ago, as a way to remember Sara’s first Halloween.

There was really no “story” to her first trick-or-treating experience — we put her in her costume, stopped by the homes of a few friends and family members, and came home. We didn’t collect any candy for her, but we did have a couple of chocolates ourselves. But I had seen a layout in Scrapbooks Etc., created by Amanda Probst, in which she took visual inspiration from the book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus for a layout about her son, and she was kind enough to send me a copy of the layout for a closer look. Since I first saw her layout, we’ve since become big fans of Mo Willems — particularly Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, but also the “Pigeon” books. (picture from Wikipedia)

So — I decided to take Amanda’s idea one step further, and I took the story (most of which is Pigeon’s attempts to convince the reader, by various means, to let him drive the bus — until the bus driver shows up and drives off in the bus, and then Pigeon sees a semi and decides he’d like to drive that instead!) and re-wrote it as though Sara was trying to convince us to give her Halloween candy. I used a photo collage template from Scrapbooks Etc. to make things easier, and then added my journaling strips. The book’s backgrounds are different colours on each page, and I’ve repeated that here too, although it wasn’t really planned that way initially — I just couldn’t decide what colour to use! (Here is what they look like.) Our friend Lisa Friesen, who took the pictures featured in my “Babe of the Woods” layout in my last Friday post, took the silhouetted one here as well.

Okay — it’s getting late, and this post is getting long, so I’ll try to get a few more Halloween layouts posted this weekend. :) I’ll also try to get a better photo of that “Duckling” layout — I thought I had another one, but couldn’t find it tonight. Thanks for visiting.

Next Page »