• "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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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.)

Fresh start

Filed under Cards,Fresh on Fridays,Layouts,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ October 21, 2011

Hey there. I’m sorry that my blog has been so neglected these last few months — even though I enjoy so many blogs, I am sometimes at a loss to know what to write about on my own. I decided, today, though, to give regular blogging another go. Willow Traders — my on-line “home” — has a weekly blog hop, and I thought maybe I could commit to posting something crafty/creative once a week and linking up for the blog hop. If I can into a rhythm with that, maybe I’ll try posting more often.

So — consider this my inaugural weekly post. :) I hope I can do this!! Since the Willow Traders blog hops start on Fridays, that seems like a good day of the week to post. Since I like catchy titles (my journalistic background coming out there — headline writing was one of my jobs at the newspaper), I will call these posts “Fresh on Fridays”. :)

Okay — now where to start?! I have actually been doing a fair bit of scrapbooking/card-making/playing with my crafty supplies over the last couple of months. I was offered guest design spots with two kit clubs — Burlap and Buttercups for their September kit, and Sweet Peach Crop Shop for October — so that gave me the excuse to dedicate some serious time to scrapping when each kit arrived. I’ve also been participating in an on-line Get Organized Challenge educational series, hosted by Tiffany Spaulding from ScrapRack, and have actually developed some systems for HOW to organize my supplies. I’m not finished by any means, but maybe that process could be the subject of a future post. And at the end of September, my friend Megan and I went to Saskatoon for the inaugural Crop & Create event organized by Scrapbook and Cards Today magazine. I will share some photos (I didn’t take many — I know, I know — but there are a few, and I’m waiting for a few more from a new friend who took them because my camera batteries died) and stories of the event, my time with Megan and the projects I made, as a future post. There — now I have topics lined up, so no more “what do I write about?!” excuses for a while.

Since this is the FIRST “Fresh on Fridays” post, though, I will share my freshest stuff first. :) And that would be my projects for Sweet Peach! Corrie, the owner, actually had me lined up to work with the September kit, but something went wrong — we’re not sure where — and the kit never arrived. (I hope it’s not sitting in some UPS warehouse, and if it is, I hope someone finds it and sends it my way!!) So, no playing with the Amy Tangerine line from American Crafts or Jillibean Soup for me. :( BUT, Corrie decided give shipping a kit to La Ronge another shot, so I got the October “Sweet” kit to work with (there are two kits, “Sweet” and “Juicy”, every month), along with an embellishments add-on. I had to rush a bit because the kit arrived just before I had company coming (my parents came up for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend) and then we were going to be out of town for several days (the reasons may be another post altogether… though not one of these crafty Friday ones), so I had just Tuesday night and Wednesday to scrap! Thank goodness I have an understanding/flexible husband and a wonderful babysitter who took Sara a day earlier than usual! I got two of my four required projects finished before we left, and had made good headway on the other two, which I finished up on Tuesday.

So, so far Corrie has just posted my first two projects on her blog, so I’ll share those here as well, and put up some “sneaks” of the other two. First — a birthday card (you can click any of the pictures to see them bigger).

I used the blues, burlap and woodgrain letters to create a masculine, outdoorsy feeling card for my brother Curtis, who turned 33 (!!) on Oct. 18. I thought the “coffee filter” embellishment with the math questions worked well for a birthday card, with the “addition” of years. :) I stamped the Emerson quote on a piece of the packaging for the brads that came in the embellishment kit; might as well recycle, eh? :)

The second project was created partly as a way to showcase the photo shoot that our friend Lisa Friesen did for us on the Thanksgiving weekend — these were taken in a spot less than a five-minute walk behind her house, which is right on La Ronge Avenue, our main downtown street, so yes, we do live IN the woods! But I didn’t want the layout to be about the shoot itself, so instead I focused on a message I wanted to give Sara (who is napping right now…. I love that she is still pretty regular about her afternoon naps).

The journaling reads:
Sara, right now I have no idea where you will grow up – but wherever you go, I pray that you will remember that this was your first home – a small (under 8,000 in the area) town in northern Saskatchewan. It was built on moss-covered bedrock and swampy muskeg, with a single downtown street wandering along the shores of a vast, clear lake. You devoured wild blueberries, received tiny white leather moccasins as a baby gift from the chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, played with beaver fur at the local trading post and moss in the forest, and traveled for hours to get to a Walmart. And sweet girl, I hope that you will also remember that these six adults were among those who loved you best, and who could think of no happier way to spend their Thanksgiving Day than with you. Photos taken Oct. 10, 2011.

To give the background cardstock more texture, I put it on some cracked pavement (ie. my driveway!) and used a sanding block to “emboss” it. I also embossed a border onto the focal photo with a Scor-Pal, which is a tool for scoring lines (usually for the fold on greeting cards), and then sanded the raised parts to let the white core show through. The top patterned paper reminded me of sky, and the leaves are on the ‘ground’ beneath us. With the kraft doilies, I used a mix of Glimmer Mist, Maya Mist and walnut ink to create some variegated colours that reminded me of autumn leaves.

And finally, here are the “sneak peeks” of my other two layouts, “My Cupcake Project” and “Re-upholster”. :)

Thanks for visiting. :)

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick…

Filed under Cards • Written by Carmen @ May 1, 2011

Here is a card that I made today.

Our friends Rennea and Mark had their third child (note the “3″ on the card!) on April 20, and I’m going to the baby shower this coming weekend for baby Jack. We’re giving him a book of Mother Goose rhymes, and that inspired the “Jack be nimble” theme for the card. :)

I don’t have a lot of “baby boy” stuff in my stash, so I improvised. The background paper is Sassafrass, and I cut the line drawing of the little boy on a bicycle from a piece of Studio Calico patterned paper (this one is from before they went mass market with their papers — it’s called “Swell”). I made a collage out of label stickers from the new Emma’s Shoppe line from Crate Paper, and stamped the words with some truly vintage alphabet stamps from PSX. I clearly need to brush up on my stamping with wood-mounted rubber stamps, but I think the wobbly lettering is actually a bit funny with the text “Jack be NIMBLE”. LOL. The text inside says “Congratulations on your new son”. The green patterned brad is from American Crafts. We did a website promoting our products and went to rank it and it show up first on Google.

Thanks for visiting. :)

Cards? Me? Yes, indeed!

Filed under Cards,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ April 5, 2011

Something new for me this year is making cards, rather than going out and buying them for every occasion. Partly it’s to cut costs — I’ve already got the supplies, and now I have a set of pre-scored card blanks and envelopes that has made the process a lot easier — and it makes sense to do it this way. But I’ve started to really enjoy seeing what I can do with these little “canvases” to make something special for someone we care about.

I’m not “into it” enough (yet) to make a stockpile (right now I’m just making a card when it’s needed), or make cards to sell or give away as gift sets, but I am having a good time. :) And who knows — maybe I’ll start doing more, and start stockpiling sentiment stamps and subscribing to card-making magazines…. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t go there, if helping my financial bottom line is supposed to be part of the point of all this! Right now I’m using my scrapbooking stash, and that’s good enough for me. :) I have been pleased to discover that Sketch Support not only has card ideas, but uses card sketches for layouts and layout sketches for cards — very cool resource.

So far I’ve made two birthday cards (one for Sara and one for my nephew Haven, who will be 2 on April 10), a sympathy card (for our Early Childhood Intervention Program worker, who lost her husband last month), a thank you card (for my parents’ long-time neighbours, who sent an unexpected birthday gift for Sara), and a baby shower card, and right now I’m working on a card for my niece Quinn’s upcoming 5th (wow, already?!) birthday.

Here are a few pictures:

In scrapping-related news, I had a layout called “And Everywhere She Went” (about Sara and her stuffed toy Lambie) published in the Creating Keepsakes March/April 2011 issue, in the “Reader Gallery”. That was very encouraging, and gave me some additional incentive both to scrap and to clean up my crafting area. I really wish that I could hire a professional organizer who’s also a crafter to help me with this, but I can’t wait around for that — if I’m going to work on any crafting-related challenges over the next while, I need some space to work, and I REALLY need to get the stuff OFF my floor so that my 13-month-old doesn’t keep ripping up my magazines, grabbing random embellishments, and pouring her bottle of milk on my cardstock!

All right — I’m off to do some more card-making! :)


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