• "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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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. :)

Recording 2011

Filed under Layouts,Projects • Written by Carmen @ February 28, 2011

I’ve decided to participate in the Project 12 challenge that Davinie Fiero organizes every year, along with Scrapbook and Cards Today magazine. The sketch was posted Feb. 1, and here I am with the layout finally finished on Feb. 28 — nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh?!

I really enjoyed documenting a whole month in one layout. Here is the journaling:

“Seriously, is there any better way to start a new year than with a big pile of presents?! Our belated Christmas celebration with my parents included champagne the night before, and then a morning of unwrapping gifts, homemade waffles, and lots of snuggling for Sara with Nana and Grandpa Pauls.

My first big project of 2011 was to help turn several months of “revisioning” work by our church into something tangible: a TV documentary from the year 2020, focusing on the impact La Ronge Alliance had had on its neighbours. Kelly Provost introduced the finished film to the congregation in the Sunday service on Jan. 23.

Sara had a CT scan done on Jan. 6 at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital, and our little extrovert entertained the patients and hospital staff while we sat in waiting rooms. We were very relieved to learn that Sara’s skull sutures have not fused prematurely, and there is no sign of pressure on her brain.

I started doing some paid work again, helping Eagle Point Resort with cottages and houseboat bookings, and writing newsletter copy for the Athabasca Basin Development Corporation.

We tried to go down to Saskatoon again on Jan. 22 for Aaron and Laura Haight’s wedding reception, but after 30 minutes in “white out” conditions, we turned back. Sara still had her sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa Orthner’s, though, while we spent our first childless night in 11 months organizing the church’s financial paperwork.

Sara worked on eating more adventurously, and once she even had the same supper we did (baked salmon, peas and carrots, and rice pilaf) and ate it all. Bryan decided it would be cheaper to make his own yogourt for her, and figured out how to do it in the crock pot.

I, on the other hand, worked on eating less, and saw steady downward progress (finally!) on the scale at our weekly Weight Watchers meetings. I started attending a weekly circuit training class at Fitness 24/7, and my Wii Fit “age” is no longer 70-something!

One afternoon, I thought Sara had a really snotty nose, then realized the goop was all over her face. I discovered she had gotten into a container of Vaseline and smeared it all over her face, her hands and her change table, plus torn up a roll of diaper liners. I remembered the first rule of being a scrapper mom: take pictures first! So I posed her in the midst of the “crime scene”, took my shots, THEN dealt with the mess.

Other highlights included signing off on our revamped mortgage, Bryan preaching about 7 signs of a healthy church, a high energy concert by the Sultans of String, and Bryan’s mom’s 64th birthday party. Darcy and Angie brought two huge pans of lasagna, Janelle baked a chocolate “wacky cake”, Sara climbed INSIDE the toy box to play, Theo tried to grab the barely-extinguished sparklers, and Ruth is unlikely to forget her party any time soon!”

And the layout:

Thanks for stopping by. :)

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. :)

A bibliophile’s confession

Filed under Challenges,Projects • Written by Carmen @ November 3, 2010

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