• "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
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Popping in from Saskatoon

Filed under Uncategorized • Written by Carmen @ November 23, 2010

Just a quick post to remind myself (and hold myself accountable for the fact) that I bought a stack of gorgeous new scrapbooking supplies today at a store Bryan happened to notice in Saskatoon, called Paper Trails. Of particular note are a red gift-shaped mini-album, which I plan to turn into a record of Sara’s first Christmas season, and a Scor-Pal, which I would like to use to ramp up my cardmaking efforts in 2011. I am considering making some greeting cards with selected photos from my “corpus”, as Bryan called my rather large collection of jpegs the other day, and attempting to sell them — perhaps via this site. The Scor-Pal is for scoring, or making foldable lines, which will make cardmaking a lot easier.

Right now we are visiting our friends the Haights, and have just finished an excellent chicken dinner, with boiled potatoes and homemade coleslaw, and ice cream and tea are coming right up. :) Sara spent the afternoon here with Lana, which was great for both her and us, after some medical tests this morning. She is very keen right now on a wicker basket and a much-loved-on Mickey Mouse. We have another rounds of tests tomorrow and then some more household shopping (today we got some bathroom fixtures and decorative items, and some baby stuff), and then a 4-hour drive home.

Off to eat ice cream…

I’m a journalist, not a prophet…

Filed under Challenges,Projects,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 18, 2010

… but I must comment on the fact that less than 2 weeks after my post about Kate Middleton and her prince, she and William are officially engaged — after dating for, what, 7 years?? I highly doubt that the future king of England needed any extra encouragement to finally pop the question — or rather, to go public about it, since apparently he put Diana’s ring on his future bride’s finger while doing charity work in Africa, back in October — but just in case, you’re welcome, Kate. ;)

Anyhow, speaking of ending silence, I am back on-line and glad to be posting on my blog again. After a bit of a crummy day a couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed to turn the computer off for a few days and focus my energy elsewhere. I managed to lose 2.2 lbs. in the ensuing 6 days, at least in part because instead of collapsing in front of the computer monitor whenever I got bored or distracted or tired, I found something else to do — that “something else” often as not being housework. I still have a long ways to go to really satisfy myself with how our home looks, but at least some of the lingering messes are gone. The challenge is to maintain what I’ve finished, while continuing to live in the house AND get other areas of the house tackled.

What else… well, we had our first appointment with a worker with the local Early Childhood Intervention Program, who will be checking on Sara’s progress development-wise over the next few months. She thought Sara was great fun, and she really is, although sometimes exhausting. She has discovered the wonders of opening drawers, ripping newspapers/magazines, climbing into baskets and between pieces of furniture, and heading off at top speed using a combination crawl/bear walk technique. She nearly catapulted herself off the edge of our bed while playing — fortunately, Bryan grabbed her in time! She is expanding her diet, adding creamed corn and broccoli/cheese/potato casserole (baby food version) to a menu that already includes peaches, pears, green beans, butternut squash and carrots, although she still prefers her bottles (which she will grab at if she is really hungry and we’re not seating her in our laps fast enough for her liking). Stains now decorate numerous items in her wardrobe, as she somehow manages to smear food even underneath her bibs (which she also likes to chew on).

I am almost finished my Christmas shopping/gift-making — when you live in a remote area, you shop whenever the opportunity presents itself, whether at a craft sale (like the upcoming Morningstar Faire or the travelling Ten Thousand Villages sale) or in stores in any city we visit. Our first gifts for this Christmas were purchased in July, on a trip to Edmonton. I also have a number of boxes coming in the mail from on-line vendors, and I need to allow for at least 2 weeks shipping time from American stores. We’re starting to get into the Christmas spirit, although I won’t do any wrapping until we have our tree up. I’m hoping to get a real tree again this year, but I’m also hesitant because we’ll have a curious 9-to-10-month-old to contend with. We may end up with a very small tree that’s set at least 3 feet above the ground! But that one could be a real one, if we get one in a pot?! I would like to get a stocking for Sara, and we have an ornament for her already — my mom always gave me and my brother (and more recently my husband) a new ornament every year, generally to symbolize something about the year, and I’d like to do that with Sara as well. I’m dreaming of crackling fires with hot chocolate, the rustle of wrapping paper (I know Sara will be VERY good at ripping it — and we’re thinking of getting a big empty box and wrapping it for her to enjoy playing with, in addition to “real” gifts of course), hot soups and sweet baked goods (butterhorns, cinnamon rolls, a twisted candy cane-shaped bread with fruit inside…), laughter, making my first gingerbread house, finishing up and displaying the Christmas wreath I’m making, uncovering the precious “little angel” ornament I got when I was 3 and hanging it on our tree, the Christmas musical my husband is performing in, candle lighting on Christmas Eve, first photos with Santa Claus…. It will be good. :)

Other good things — I got tickets to see a one-man recitation of “A Christmas Carol” (we went last year and it was superb), “Chuck” continues to be excellent on Monday nights (though that’s rarely when we watch it — thank goodness for DVRs), I got news that I will receive a $1,500 cash settlement as a claimant in a lawsuit by freelance writers whose work was published on-line without their consent, I had a very nice coffee date with my friend Linda, Bryan’s 40th birthday party (with a Mexican theme) was a success, the Saskatchewan Roughriders won the CFL’s western semi final last weekend, my prayer triplet meetings (to pray for fresh vision for our church) are going well, I’m 2 (out of 52) short essay questions away from the end of my doctrinal paper for the missions agency we’re applying to, I finally made it to my massage therapy appointment and my lower back is feeling less sore, I had a nice breakfast date with my friend Timea this morning, tomorrow we’re going to see my parents, and my friend Megan is coming over tonight to watch “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, which is one of my favourite movies.

And finally, I finished my second layout for the All About Me challenge blog, wrapping up my stint as their November guest designer. The challenge this time around was to scrap “what I wanted to be when I grew up” — which is the real reason for my post title, Kate Middleton and a homage to the original Star Trek‘s doctor, Leonard “Bones” McCoy notwithstanding. ;)

Here it is. :)

Journalling reads: I’ve been a word nerd from way back – but I always thought that my career ambitions were tied to print, not the airwaves. I remember wanting to be a librarian (I thought it would be great to be surrounded by books all day), or a famous author (complete with a drawing of myself signing multiple copies of something I think was called “The Happy Puppy”). Sure, after hours spent listening to his long, rambling conversations on CBC Radio’s “Morningside”, I dreamed for a while of being the next Peter Gzowski, spending my days talking to interesting people doing interesting things. Even if I needed convincing, my stilted delivery and awkward radio scripts, plus torturous hours spent cutting out bits of reel-to-reel tape and sticking them back together with blue adhesive for j-school assignments would have sealed the deal. But years later, while reviewing an old audiotape, my mom found something that made me re-evaluate. I don’t know when it’s from, or why I did it, but there it is: little me, “interviewing” the Bible’s King David (played by my mom) about how he felt about killing the giant Goliath – complete with a very appropriate sign-off: “This is Carmen Pauls, reporting.” And so, I am.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Thank you for welcoming me

Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 3, 2010

(One of my favorite photos from Halloween 2010 — my Sara in her duck costume, giving a “high five” to her uncle Darcy in his toga and laurel wreath.)

Thank you all for making me feel so welcome in the blogging “neighbourhood” — it’s been a treat to read your comments, and I look forward to having a chance to comment on all the other inspirational layouts in this blog hop. :)

I was hoping to have some time to play with “paper and pretties” tonight, but that’s not how my day went. I poured most of my energy today into playing on the floor with my baby girl, cleaning the kitchen (urgh — it was such a mess, and the rest of the house isn’t much better right now), sorting laundry and taking part in my daughter’s beginner swim class. She is the tiniest one in her class, but amazingly confident in the water already. She has figured out the proper leg and arm movements and goes “swimming” (with me holding her up) enthusiastically after the balls and toy boats, watches the instructor and the other kids (like her 2-year-old cousin Theo and one of the girls who goes to the same babysitter) carefully to see what they’re doing, and is a good sport in the game/song times (we do songs like “Motor Boat, Motor Boat”, “Bingo” and the “mm mm went the little green frog” one, adapted for swimming practice). She even tried a bit of bubble-blowing today, although she hasn’t quite figured out how it’s done. I love seeing her wet and grinning, and squealing happily in the water. :)

I am eager to learn more about the art of blogging — it’s still a very new “medium” for me, although I did attempt it a few years ago, only to abandon the effort because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted my blog to “be”. When I tried using it as a diary, I ended up writing mostly when I was feeling sad or overwhelmed, and that didn’t present a very balanced picture — and it was also weird having posts like that so “out there”. And when I thought about using a blog for sharing crafty projects, I felt as though I wasn’t making projects consistently enough to make that worthwhile. I’m still wrestling with what the content here will be. I’d like to strike a healthy balance between open, honest sharing about my everyday and yet not being “too” personal, and also have a place to talk about ideas and experiences I have had in the past or am now having, and share my projects and some of the rationale/thinking behind them. Any advice from those who’ve “been there” would be greatly appreciated.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to try Shimelle Laine’s Blogging for Scrapbookers class. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s taken the class, and/or interested in talking about it. It’s now one of her archived classes, so there isn’t ongoing discussion on the forum as far as I know. So if you’re planning to take it, let me know — it would be great to have others to bounce ideas off. :)

Anyhow, thanks again for the comments — they do my heart good.

A bibliophile’s confession

Filed under Challenges,Projects • Written by Carmen @

Hello blog hoppers, and any other friends who may have stopped by — thank you for coming! :) Since I can’t invite you all to an actual housewarming party, what better way to celebrate my brand-new blog than by taking part in my first-ever blog hop, as this month’s guest designer for the All About Me challenge blog. If you are in fact participating in the AAM November blog hop, this is your last stop before “heading home”. You should have arrived here from design team member Rani Shah’s blog. If you aren’t taking part in the hop but would like to, head over to the AAM site to find the links that will enable you to hop from blog to blog, and have a shot at winning a prize. :) Just so you know — you MUST comment on my post, as well as on the other blogs, in order to be eligible for that prize! :) Once you’re done here, head back to AAM. :)

On to what I have to show you…

This month, the AAM team members are celebrating our “inner princesses”.

Being Canadian, I am accustomed to seeing Queen Elizabeth II on my money, and I know that one of the privileges of royalty is not only having your face on every newly-minted coin, but having lots of that coin to spend on whatever material goods — or staff! — you may desire. I am of course well aware of the foibles and failings of Britain’s (and the Commonwealth’s) royal family, and of the responsibilities they carry, but there is still a certain magic in the notion that even in the 21st century, a woman can still be swept into the arms of her beloved prince and joined with him in a fairytale wedding, become a princess (or even a queen!), and henceforth live a life full of luxury and privilege and really nice hats. (Surely I can’t be the only one intrigued by those gossip magazine articles about Prince William’s girlfriend Kate Middleton, can I?!)

My baby girl, Sara, has onesies that say “Princess” — which I feel are quite justified, seeing as she is sweet and lovely and strong of heart and all those princess-y things, and even when she isn’t showing all those characteristics, her name is actually Hebrew for “princess”. My hope for her as she grows, though, is that she will become an adult worthy of her name — that she will be assertive and sure of her place in the world, beautiful of face but also of heart and mind, generous, compassionate — and, if she so desires, blessed with a husband who adores her, and some really nice hats. ;)

Anyhow — there is, as well, a connection between being royal and having what you want, when you want, and no one being able to say boo about it. Some may call it evidence of your “inner princess”, while some may be as blunt as to call you a snob. So in that vein, here is some evidence of my “royal thinking”. :)

Notes about the journalling: the cards pull out of the library pocket, which is stamped inside with past dates (as well as today’s!) and embellished with several rub-ons– and the journalling cards are embellished too, with inking, number stickers, a crown rub-on, clear rhinestone hearts, a bit of patterned paper and a “The End” rubber stamp. Larger journalling blocks tend to get neglected in the embellishing department, so I figured I’d give these a little “pizazz”. :)

The journalling reads: “It sounds like some obscure, untreatable illness – and perhaps it is. But in my 30+ years of being afflicted with bibliophilism, I haven’t even tried to find a cure.

To me, being surrounded by the books I love simply isn’t optional. Call me a snob if you will, but I feel a sort of sadness or pity when I visit a home with few (or, gasp, no) books. As a fellow bibliophile, the Roman writer Cicero, once put it, ‘A room without books is like a body without a soul.’

“I started showing symptoms of bibliophilism as a small child, not long after my first solo read-through of Marvin K. Mooney, Won’t You Please Go Now at age 5. I recall feeling a deep sense of wellbeing on stepping foot inside any branch of the Regina Public Library, whether the travelling bookmobile, the central children’s library, or our local branch in a strip mall on Albert Street. My parents had to impose a rule that I could only take out 10 books at a time, and my uncle was shocked at the weight of my suitcase one summer when I visited the family farm.

“I also remember my delight every year when our elementary school classes were assembled in the darkened gym for the slide presentation about the MS Read-a-Thon, to raise money for multiple sclerosis research. I particularly remember the joy of winning a red stuffed toy version of the MS Sleuth, the campaign’s hound dog mascot, for reading the most books in our school.

“As an adult, I take an almost absurd pride in saying that there are over 2,000 volumes in our collection, and when I’m packing for a trip, I can’t seem to stop myself from packing far more books than I will ever read. Fortunately (?), I married a man with similar symptoms, although not identical: he packs lighter, but wherever and whatever he is doing, whether folding laundry, cooking a meal, brushing his hair, or even watching TV, he is likely to have a book open in front of him – and he averages about 100 pages an hour.

“I have found comfort in libraries and bookstores wherever I have lived (especially a shop appropriately called Heaven Art and Book Cafe), have worked or volunteered in several, currently serve on the La Ronge Public Library board and was board chair for the regional Pahkisimon Nuye?ah Library System board for two years. On trips out of town, we are drawn like moths to a flame by bookstores, especially ones with coffeehouses attached (um – schmoo torte AND books? you know I’m going to be there!), and ‘reading material’ is a line item in our budget, despite the fact that we already have more books than we have shelves or time for.

“When we were evacuated from our mobile home in 1999, due to a raging forest fire, I forgot to grab my computer, but I did take my beloved, masking tape-repaired copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Little Princess – and 11 years later, I named my daughter after the heroine of the latter book, Sara Crewe, who was also a fellow bibliophile.

“Our Sara Emily (her middle name is from Emily of New Moon) is barely eight months old and already (literally) devouring books – and even figuring out what they are for, which is good, considering she’s already got a shelf full of them. Bryan was trying to get her attention the other day and she was ignoring him, until he held up Happy Baby Colors, better known here just as ‘Book’ – yes, that’s with a capital letter. She spotted it, and headed for him at top speed. So – I’m guessing that bibliophilism is hereditary. And if not, I’m sure we can pass it on. ;)

Journalling and photo: Nov. 1, 2010
Diagnosis of condition: permanent
Course of treatment: more books, please! :)

Supply list: kraft cardstock; ink: Tim Holtz – Ranger (green “Peeled Paint”), Color Box (red), Nick Bantock – Ranger (brown); patterned paper: Fancy Pants (“Vintage Valentine” – collage, stripe, faded flowers, blue dots), Pink Paislee (white on white hearts); embellishments: Making Memories (buttons, heart frame, heart rhinestones), My Mind’s Eye (“love stories” punch-out), source unknown (glittered key), Creative Imaginations (wax seal); rub-ons: Pink Paislee (all love themed designs and crown), American Crafts (“Irreplaceable” bar code); stickers: Prima (“biblio”), Basic Grey (“philism”), Pebbles (“wanted” definition), Creative Imaginations (numbers); stamps: Heidi Swapp (“Received”), Catslife Press (“The End”), date stamp (office supply store); other: dictionary paper; font: Garamond Premr Pro