Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Balancing Act

I am constantly feeling behind.

Maybe it is winter. Maybe it is the holiday season. Maybe it is the abundance of patients requiring exams before the end of the year. Maybe it is the pressure to clean my house before our annual holiday party this Friday. Maybe (surely) it is a combination of all of the above...

Whatever it is, the result has been one very flustered Jenn.

Until today.

Today, I just decided that I was going to put all that nonsense to rest. Life is a balancing act. I know that I am I am getting it all done...even if I don't feel like I'm getting it all done. Now I just have to keep telling myself that! Here's a little chart I found online to help me as I go forward... (sorry but I didn't make note of the creator so if you know it, please let me know so I can give proper credit!)

On another, note - I have been really enjoying the daily prompts from Reverb 10. As I was going along, I realized that the majority of these prompts dealt with subjects that were a bit more personal than I wanted to share on my blog. I've actually been doing these prompts as pages in my art journal which has worked out really well. I like the comprehensive nature of combining all the topics into one month of journaling.

I've also been working a little bit every day on my December Daily album. I am following a similar layout to Ali this year, using her pre-designed daily overlays with enlarged photos and transparencies as the main components. I have completed days 1through 5 (although I haven't gotten any photos taken)and the album covers. I am also taking photos everyday and making little notes of the stories that I want to tell. I am taking this project in a very relaxed manner. And I am looking forward to some devoted crafting time this weekend.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Art of Letting Go - Reverb Prompt 5

Prompt 5 - Let Go

 Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

This is a compelling topic. I often feel that knowing when to let go and when  to hang on is truly an art form. Some people are born with an abundance of this talent. And some people (moi?) are blessed with other gifts. However, I believe that everyone can learn this. I am getting better at recognizing the appropriate choice as I move into new stages of my life.

This year I worked on letting go of anxiety, freeing myself from panic and fear. This is something I struggle with on a near daily basis. I started having panic attacks shortly after I finished chemotherapy in 2003. For about a year, fear ruled my life. Over time, I've learned different kinds of coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques to help stop the panic. As a direct result, my anxiety has gotten increasingly better over the years. This year, was the best year yet. I accept that I may never be free from anxiety but I can learn to let it go when it creeps into my life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catching Up On Reverb 10

I've really been enjoying the daily prompts from Reverb 10. The past couple of days have been very busy on the work side and I haven't been able to capture my thoughts here on the blog. But I have been ruminating on each prompt, formulating my mental response. I'm excited to share.

Prompt 2 - Writing

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

This one was simple and easy to identify - television. Watching tv is the single biggest time suck in my life. I know that I need to find better balance in my life between work, creativity, family and personal. I used to be very adept at setting priorities in each of these areas and sticking to them. And let me tell you, parking myself in front of the idiot box wasn't a big part of that scene. But little by little over the past several years, I've given up on many of these areas and allowed "relaxing" to move unchecked  into the forefront of my life. That something I am hoping to change in the coming year.

Prompt 3 - Moment

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

I loved this prompt. The past year was intense, filled with change, growth and renewed love in all. I identified several momentous events that occurred over the past year and then honed in the perfect one. I chose to address this prompt within my art journal so I could better illustrate the colors, textures and feelings. Since this event is deeply personal to my family, I am choosing not to share the completed page on my blog. But I encourage you to do something creative with this prompt as well.

Prompt 4 - Wonder

Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

As time moves forward, I admit that I find it more and more difficult to maintain my sense of wonder, particularly in the face of the increasingly negative tone the seems so prevalent in today's society. I have also noticed that the greater the personal challenge in my own life, the less I am able to muster up any feelings of wonder whatsoever. But I have also learned that the best way to regain positivity and hope during these times is to find the wonder.

I personally believe the key to cultivating a sense of wonder is through imagination and curiosity. Keep an open mind. Developing a keen eye toward the new and different. Practice tolerance. Appreciate the little things. Notice your surroundings. And don't forget to ask questions. 





Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hello December Daily and Reverb 10

Ok, don't hate me. I know, I big return was supposed to be in September (ahem) but in my defense, I've had a whole lot of crazy going on in this life. However, let's not live in the past...

I am so excited to welcome December! This is always an amazing time for our family. Jim absolutely adores the Christmas season and not so long ago I felt, um, decidedly different. For  many years, the challenges of meeting the needs of parents, step-parents, extended family and my own little family to celebrate the holidays became overwhelming. Really, it just seemed like so much work.

Enter Jim. 

His enthusiasm  for Christmas is absolutely infections. And, he single-handedly turned this Scrooge into a holiday elf. So much so, that last year I instituted my very own tradition - creating a December Daily album, documenting each day of this magical season from the 1st through the 25th. The concept of this project was started by Ali Edwards, an amazing artist and one of my personal heroes. I was amazed by how much this album reinforced the joy of Christmas for me. It is truly one of my most favorite creations. I will be photographing last year's album and posting to my Flickr photostream this weekend. And I also plan on sharing my pages from this year's album as well. Right now, I am still constructing my base pages. But I started taking pictures and making notes about today's story. Look for a post this weekend sharing my base concept and my first few creations.

I am also adding a new twist on my blog this year. I am playing along with Reverb 10. Creator Gwen Bell has this to say about Reverb 10:

"It’s an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us."

I. Love. This. 

So today's prompt was to encapsulate 2010 in one word. This year my one little word was hope. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coming Soon - The Return of Jenn

J, originally uploaded by Jonny_Wan.
I've taken a couple of months off from blogging this summer to concentrate a bit more on family and spending one last summer with Grand Master B before he graduates from high school. But I am ready for my return to the blogosphere. And I have many wonderful things to share.

For now, check out this amazing typeset by Jonny Wan. I love this colorful, ornate lettering. Thanks to Courtney at designworklife initially posting this awesomeness!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just Keep Climbing

I have been feeling so proud of Grand Master B these past few months. Since he's been home, he has been very serious about continuing to stay positive. He participates three times per week in an adolescent group program, as well as individual and family therapy. His mood and general outlook on life is so improved compared to one year ago. He will be entering into his senior year of high school with a C average. He has been working part-time at Taco John's. He has a very sweet girlfriend, although young love does seem to be a bit stormy at times. He is happy. He is striving for balance, like the rest of us.

Watching him work so diligently at keeping his life positive and healthy is inspiring from my viewpoint as his mother. But it is also painful at times. I want to help, to keep all the difficulties at bay, to protect my child. But I know these are lessons that he has to learn for himself. Doing the right thing, making the right choice is not always easy. In fact, it's almost always harder than the alternative but it is so necessary. I find that all I can do is remind him that I love him and that I am so proud of him. And remind him that I will always be beside him.

Knowing this story is at the forefront of our lives right now, I was inspired to create a scrapbook page documenting it. I showed it to B and he really liked it. I do, too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A New Adventure

My Tell Your Story art journaling class with Elsie and Rachel has sadly come to an end. I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this class. I have always been a journaler of sorts. In the past I've done several different types, ranging from simply making lists in my daily planner to creating very artsy and detailed layouts for my scrapbooks. But I had never committed to journaling on a daily basis.

And I want to.

One of my goals for this year is to do something creative every day. I find when I make the time to create I am more relaxed and productive in all the other areas of my life. But, I had been struggling to find a way to balance my need to create with the real life time demands. I love scrapbooking. And I firmly believe there is no one way to scrapbook. I am a "hybrid" in every sense of the word. I scrap with paper and glue. I scrap digitally with my laptop and Photoshop Elements. I scrapbook both 8.5x11 and 12x12 pages. I make mini-albums. But the stress of creating a layout - or even part of a layout - everyday was really overwhelming. My scrapbooking is very much a story driven process. And let's be honest, not every day has a story that I want to tell. But every day does bring new feelings and experiences that can be documented. I found keeping an art journal was really the perfect fit. I put much less pressure on myself regarding my journal pages than I do my scrapbook pages. Art journaling was easier and faster to conceptualize and complete for me. I am just in love with this direction in my creative journey.

So, I was particularly excited when of my Tell Your Story classmates Janel organized a 30-Day Journal Challenge through her blog. I love the ongoing commitment to keeping up with my art journal, and the added accountability of participating in a group helps keep me on target with my goals. The Challenge started yesterday - and I am loving what I am seeing in our Flickr Group!

Here are my first two pages.

click on image to see larger

click on image to see larger

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Worlds of Fun

Over Memorial Day weekend, our family traveled with our best friends to Kansas City to take a day trip down to Worlds of Fun. Now, this is an amusement park that my own family went to every summer as I was growing up. Deana's family also went every summer. And, as I was a Gleek long before it was popular, I also went every summer in Junior High and High School to perform with the show choir. Hell yes, I am that cool.

click on any image to see larger

But, I digress...

The park was open 10:00am -10:00pm and we stayed from open to close. We were total troopers, including Mr. Sam and Princess Izzy. Grand Master B would have left about 6:00pm but then got a second wind and rallied for the rest of the night. Our friends, Adam & Nisy, took my trusty CR-V for the day and lent us the "Swagger Wagon" (minivan) so we could all fit in one car. We planned to stop at The Waffle House in Rockport, MO in an homage to those childhood road trips but the Waffle House in Rockport no longer exists. Now, it is the Black Iron Grill Steakhouse and Saloon (see Facebook page here) which wasn't open at 7:45am or we might had breakfast there out of sheer stubbornness. Instead, we journeyed on down to the traveler's standby Cracker Barrel which not only has sinfully good food but also features kitschy shopping.

Deana & I actually went to the grocery store at the ungodly hour of 5:30am so that we could bring lunch. I froze 10 bottles of water overnight before we left. We each carried 3 bottles in our bags into the park and used the remaining bottles as added ice in the cooler. It was kind of nice to take a break midday to sit down and have a little picnic. Bringing our own water and lunch saved us a bundle! We planned to eat dinner in the park but instead we had snacks and kept on riding. We ended up stopping to eat a BK on the way out of town because after 12 hours we just didn't care anymore.

Some highlights of the day:
  • Mr. Sam is a total daredevil! He shares Grand Master B's love of all things roller coaster.
  • I am almost phobic in my dislike of roller coasters but I will ride any spinning ride you can find.
  • Princess Izzy is not wild about fast rides.
  • When everyone else went to ride the 'big kids rides', Princess Izzy & I hung out at Camp Snoopy where she got to enjoy all the 'l'il kid rides.' It was a match made in Heaven.
  • Deana, Dave, Jim and B all agreed that the new-to-us coaster The Patriot totally rocked.
  • We all loved the water rides, especially the Monsoon and the log ride.
  • Grand Master B can meet cute girls anywhere but an amusement park is like a gift from little Baby Jesus in this arena.
  • We all took on the challenge of the rock wall, except Princess Izzy (too young) and Jim (staff photographer). Dave and B made it all the way to the top and then rappelled down like pros. Deana & I managed not to kill ourselves...and only one of us fell on her butt but you have to guess which one.
  • Our husbands bought us bunny ears that light up and flicker like a strobe in da club. Yes, we rock.
  • 3-hour road trips are much worse going home.
I'll leave you with some photos of the day which was amazing. Wish you could have been there!

PS Check out this totally cool photo Jim took of the Spinning Dragon roller coaster at night.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Soundtrack of my Life

  click to see larger image

I recently completed this journal page on 10 songs that changed my life. I love how the page turned out. Every time I glance over it, one of the song titles will catch my eye and I will instantly hear a line or two of lyric in my mind. In that moment, I am actually transported back to a different time and place. I experience the perfect blend of nostalgia and relief.

The power of memory is strong…strong enough to remind me that I do not wish to re-live any part of my life, however intense or however happy. I am content to live in the now, but it is comforting to know that with just a few notes, my past and I can join for a brief second.

Just a few days ago, I received an email from Mama Kat that contained several writing prompts. One was to write about the soundtrack of your life. I knew that this writing would perfectly complement my journal page. In the spirit of reflection, I thought I’d share this soundtrack of my life with you. These songs are all equally important and are presented in delightfully random order.

“Yesterday” – The Beatles
Love was such an easy game to play,
Now I need a place to hide away,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

I grew up listening to The Beatles. They were one of my mother’s favorite bands. It is no wonder that after experiencing my first real heartbreak at age 14 I turned to the familiar crooning of the Fab Four. This song was particularly poignant in that the words mirrored my disillusion while the melody enveloped and comforted me.

“So Lonely” – The Police
Just take a seat, they're always free
No surprise, no mystery
In this theatre that I call my soul
I always play the starring role, so lonely

Who would’ve guessed that I would have to go all the way to Germany to discover the beauty of The Police? I studied in Hamburg in 1990, the year I turned 18. It was an amazing experience, filled with exploration and freedom. I spread my wings, lived a little on the wild side…well, wild for a small town girl from Omaha, Nebraska. I might have lost my henna-dyed hair and my nose ring, but I will never surrender my love for punk music.

“Thunder Road” – Bruce Springsteen
The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, Hey that's me and I want you only.
Don't turn me home again I just can't face myself alone again

I will always think of my husband Jim when I hear this song. It is always there…in his smile, the way his eyes crinkle at the corners, how he holds me as we dance across our living room. This is the score of us falling in love.

“Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

I will always and forever associate this song with loss. It is bittersweet to hear even now. Although I have come through a stronger and wiser woman, I cannot help but feel the sadness, the grief of that time.

“Black” – Pearl Jam
I know someday you'll have a beautiful life
I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky, but why
Why, Why can't it be, Why can't it be mine?

I first heard Pearl Jam in the fall of 1991 when I started college at UNL, along with Nirvana and Soundgarden.  I was poised on the brink of adulthood and this angst-filled music resonated with the many chords of change within me. When I became pregnant and gave birth almost exactly one year later, the Seattle sound was still extremely popular on college campuses. In my mind, this particular song became an anthem of all I had left behind in choosing to have a child on my own at age 20, a decision that I have never regretted but altered my life dramatically to say the least.

“She Will Be Loved” – Maroon 5
It’s not always rainbows and butterflies
It’s compromise that moves us along
My heart is full and my door’s always open
You can come anytime you want

This just means so much more when you truly understand how love works.

“With Or Without You” – U2
Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I'm waiting for you

I could have picked nearly any song off of U2’s The Joshua Tree as this entire album made an impression on my young and fertile mind. When this album was released in 1987, I was a freshman in high school. I was just discovering my own musical tastes and U2 was like manna from Heaven. I was figuring out that I had a mind and starting to dream of the places it might take me. I was part of a team. I got my driver’s license. I fell in love for the first time. And inevitably, I had my heart broken. “With Or Without You” takes me to the highs of that time and then abruptly leaves me sobbing in my driveway, sitting in my yellow VW bug until the windows fogged completely over and my mother had to come out and coax me inside.

“The Boys Of Summer” – Don Henley
But I can see you, your brown skin shining in the sun
You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong

All it takes is hearing the first few bars of this song to take me back to summer camp, young love and feeling like I was becoming a woman. It is a heady feeling that always leaves me smiling.

“Closer To Fine” – Indigo Girls
I'm trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all

Ahhh…a young student’s anthem discovered on a college campus. If you’re over the age of 35, you know exactly what I am talking about.

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – The Rolling Stones
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need

I first remember this song from my early childhood. My mother was also quite the Stones fan. I can never hear this song without picturing my mother driving with the windows down, a cigarette in hand, the radio turned up and singing at full volume with her head thrown back and a smile on her face. It fills me with a tremendous sense of gratitude and wonder and love. I am so thankful for my mother. For the love of music she fostered. For the intellect she nurtured. For the moral compass she instilled. For all the songs we sang together.

I still love the Stones. I often play this song on my iPod in the car. I don’t smoke and I can’t stand the windows being down when I drive (except when I am in a convertible, duh). But I sing at full volume with a smile on my face and my head thrown back…just like my mom. My son sits in the seat next to me.

And I can hear him singing along.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Life A to Z

I saw a really cute idea on Carrie's blog to post an A to Z list of things about our home. I just love this! And since I am not yet ready with my fabulous post about our recent visit to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, it just worked for today!

Here you go:
A- My AIR CONDITIONER is set on: 71
B- My BEDROOM theme is: eclectic - a mix of Mission furniture, vintage lamps on either side of a King-size bed and a lovely, crisp blue & cream duvet set
C- The CAR in the driveway is: Honda CR-V
D- My DESK looks: pretty tidy with an over sized cutting mat, spinning craft organizer and a paper tray for current projects
E- The EXACT time I wake up daily is: never exact (ha!), just varies day-to-day
F- The FIRST thing I wash in the shower is: my face
G- My GARAGE is filled with: my husband's tools
H- My HOME is: my refuge
I- If you peeked INSIDE my bedroom you'd see: laundry & a kickin' flat screen tv
J- My favorite JUICE is: Apple
K- The best part of my KITCHEN is: the butcher block island
L- The LAST person who visited my home was: my best friend Deana & her kids
M- The last piece of MAIL for me was: From Gina the best box of scrapbook material ever!
N- My NEIGHBORS think I'm: a keep-to-myself girl
O- If you OPENED my fridge you'd see: diet A&W cream soda
P- My last house PARTY was: a welcome home party for my son
Q- A QUICK meal I like to fix is: pasta
R- My favorite ROOM of the house is: my craft room
S- The SHAMPOO brand I use is: Garnier Fructisse
T- My largest TELEVISION is: 36
U- UNDER my bed you will find: nothing
V- The last time I VACUUMED was: last week
W- Looking out my WINDOW I see: our beautiful neighborhood
X- I wish I had X-TRA: closet space
Y- My YARD is: nice but we need to update the back deck
Z- ZZZZZZZ My bedtime is: variable, but usually 11 or 12
so what does the A to Z of your life look like?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Scrabble Nameplate Project

I came up with a really cute and easy project this past weekend. I thought I'd share it here, along with a little how-to.

Let's start with a picture of the finished project:
click on image to see larger

I so adore this project, particularly because of the  simplicity factor. So let's move right into the how-to, shall we?

I started by using aqua acrylic paint to cover the entire tile holder. I used two coats because I wanted it to be extra aqua-y, but it has a kind of cool, color wash effect with only coat so it's up to you!

Let the paint dry completely.

Decorate the back first. I used patterned paper and the Martha Stewart Crafts Butterfly Border Punch (I got mine here) to make a border for the back side. I adhered the butterflies with Modge Podge. Use a thin layer of Modge Podge on the back side of your paper and place the border onto the holder. Then use a second thin layer of Modge Podge over the top of the paper to adhere securely. Let this dry completely. Lastly, spray the entire surface of the tile holder with acrylic sealant. I used the glossy type which I bought at Hobby Lobby. Here is what the back side of my nameplate looks like:
click on image to appear larger

Now we can move on to the fun stuff - embellishing the front. I used a cluster of fabric flowers and a Jenni Bowlin chipboard butterfly to decorate mine. I used a plain old hot glue gun to adhere the elements. I placed several layers of foam square adhesives (like these) to fill in the space between the butterfly and the tile holder and added a dollop of hot glue for good measure. Lastly I used the hot glue gun to adhere the Scrabble tiles spelling my name. A closeup of the finished product looks like this:
click on image to see larger

As an alternative, you could leave the Scrabble tiles free and clear of all adhesive so you could change out the letters. Just think of all the possibilities...

I hope you enjoyed this little project. If you make one yourself, please link it up in the comments. I'd love to see your work! 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Speaking Of Transformation

I am so proud of this boy. He decided to cut his hair...I love it!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Change Is Good

Click on image to view larger.

Yesterday's prompt in my art journal class was "Change is good." And it was right on track for my thoughts over the past several weeks.

I believe that very few people really enjoy change. I know there are those who relish novelty and need to have constant changes in stimuli, but I can't say that I actually know any of these people. Most people I know, particularly my family, would prefer for life to stay just the way it is, no matter how stagnant or stressful the situation. I mean, everyone gives lip service to wanting things to change, wanting life to be easier, wanting things to be better but very few do anything to make those changes happen. Making the move from wishing to doing takes a considerable amount of courage. It's like the place we know in life, no matter how difficult, is preferable to the unknown. So often, we are willing to settle for the familiar rather than embrace change.

I was certainly guilty of this kind of thinking in the past. But about a year ago, the reality finally sank in - if I wanted my life to change, then I was going have to consciously make that happen. I could no longer be a passive bystander in this game of life. I would have to move into the driver's seat. Luckily, my husband Jim came to this same place in his life at exactly the same time, although his route was quite a bit different than mine. We both had fears and issues about change...but we knew we were ready to stop letting fear rule the roost. Believe me, adopting this new attitude was not easy but it was absolutely essential to the process.

I'm still learning to see change as good. My initial reaction to change is a tightening of my stomach muscles and a brief spasm of nausea, but it resolves in a couple of seconds. And then I take a deep breath and remember all of the wonderful things that have happened for our family since we decided to live life on our terms. So I relax and smile. It's just another small step along this journey that is our amazing life.

How do you react to change?

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Never-ending Spring

I have a hard time balancing how I feel about spring (the season, not the coiled tool part).

Clearly, following the dreary dark coldness of winter, I am in need of light and sunshine. I love the look and sound and feel of spring. I look forward to the growth, the flowers, the very brightness of spring.

Then I smell the air...and for one brief second I am truly in Heaven, savoring the sweet aromas of spring...

And, then I am in Hell.

For that is when the 'sneezing, congestion, itchy nose, itchy skin, itchy eyes, watery eyes, scratchy throat, can't catch my breath and then have an asthma attack' time of year begins. And goes on. And on. And on...

This sucks.

So, please forgive my sporadic blogging. I will try harder to fit it in between gasping episodes and sneezing fits. I am now entering the Nyquil haze but will try to return with more pages from my art journal tomorrow...if I am alive.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dream Home

Dream Home, originally uploaded by studiojenn.

Yesterday's prompt in my art journal class through Red Velvet Art was to focus on your dream home. Jim & I have spent many an evening musing with a glass of wine over this very topic so I was totally stoked to tackle this in my journal.

I love the way this turned out. It perfectly captures my feelings.

What's your dream home look like?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In Honor Of My Mother

I've just been thinking a lot about mother's day this week. The older I grow, the more respect and awe I have for my mother. I do not think I am alone is experiencing this phenomenon. I am still organizing some deep thoughts about motherhood in general and how special my mother is specifically, but in the meantime I wanted to share this great picture of my mother & I at the welcome home party. I love how natural we both seem. I love the wide open smiles. I love how you can actually feel the love...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Welcome Home

I am still filled with joy and laughter from the lovefest last weekend that was Grand Master B's welcome home barbecue. There was just so much support from family and friends, our adult friends of course but also B's own close friends. It is amazing to see the progress that he has made this past year. But it was also incredibly moving to see such outward support and pride for his accomplishments from his own peers. And B did such a good job of interacting with everyone. He did not isolate himself with just his friends. He sat and had conversations with his family, from the younger cousins to his great-grandparents. He was open and inviting. He joked with my girlfriends and entertained the children out in the backyard. So many people mentioned how happy he looked...and I couldn't agree more. It was truly a celebration of him.

My immediate family was there (of course) but aunts, uncles, cousins, godmothers and grandparents made an appearance as well. It was exciting and moving to meet a new member of our family, Princess P. She is 5 years old and is a complete angel. My first cousin just recently found out he was a father. This is the first extended family event that she has attended. We are so glad that she is a part of our life now!

My uncle Jimmy provided the meat, a fantastic smoked pulled pork, from his kickin' restaurant Boxer Barbecue in Council Bluffs. We served his homemade sauces with the meat, both a sweet thick sauce and a thinner smoky sauce with a vinegar base, on a plain hamburger bun. My good friend Laura made a cabbage slaw that complemented the meat perfectly. I put mine atop the meat/sauce but lots of folks ate it on the side. Special thanks to Grandma for mac salad and salsa, Mom for amazing potato salad and beans, Deana for making deviled eggs and cupcakes, Michele for pasta salad, Denise for fruit salad, Kozy and the Molinas for veggie trays, the Hagstrom's for ice and Jones for my very own jalapeno plant.

The best gift of all? This look on his face...

Yep, he just looks so happy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Let me introduce myself...

Intro page 2, originally uploaded by jennhv.
So I apologize for my absence over the past week but I am have really been enjoying having Grand Master B around 24/7 and, I'll admit, it has taken some transitioning to become a fully functioning mama again. But so worth it. We had a really lovely barbecue in honor of his return home and to celebrate his accomplishments last weekend. More on this later...

I thought I'd share the introductory page from my art journal. I have been really attracted to this concept for while but just hadn't taken any steps to start. Then I discovered Tell Your Story, a guided class on just this subject. The teachers, Elsie and Rachel, share tips, techniques and journaling prompts every day for 6 weeks. I am feeling so energized in just what we've done in the past 3 days. This class is just the thing I needed, plus I feel developing a daily habit of journaling every day is both helpful in my creative journey AND necessary for my ongoing mental health.

I used this first page as a means to explore the many roles I play, issues and fears I am dealing with right now, trivia and tidbits about me and celebrating all that is wonderful in my life, this very minute. I painted the background with my absolute favorite aqua acrylic which gives it just the light and breezy feel I was trying to portray. Aqua just makes me happy. Then I taped down a piece of my personalized stationary for the journaling card. I used colored mists, chipboard, letters and a paperclip to build on the theme. I really love this.

I will be sharing some of the pages from my art journal over the next few weeks, as well as other items of crafty goodness. And I will share photos and stories of B's welcome home BBQ later tonight or tomorrow. Til then... Happy Wednesday, America.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Missing In Action

Just a quick check in to let you know we are alive and well. Having Grand Master B home is filling my heart to overflowing. I am so happy. I am also exhausted. This week has been full of meetings, appointments, more meetings, organizing, cleaning, worrying, rejoicing, gratitude and exhaustion. And we have a boat load of painting to look forward to on Saturday.

Anyway, you can all look forward to a return to regular blogging next week. This week I am documenting my Week in the Life project along with Ali Edwards and hundreds of other crafty ladies. Next week I'll share some of the words + pictures from this week in my life.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

He's Home

The day has finally arrived! Grand Master B is home. This is what I think every single time I see his smile.

We are working like mad to clean, organize and repaint his bedroom, and this has sparked a frenzy of activity to organize the rest of the house, too. Believe me, Jim & I both have so many things that need to find another home. So it's Project Organization around here. I'll be back Monday night with an update...and maybe even a picture or two.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Scrapbook Pages

I'll bet you thought I had forgotten my earlier promise to share the rest of my pages from Sketchbook, the online class that I took with Kelly Purkey. Well, I surely did not. In case you missed the earlier pages, you can find them here and here. This post will cover the pages that I created based on sketches 8 through 12. Enjoy!

Sketch 8
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Sketch 9 (personal information x'd out for privacy)
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Sketch 10
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Sketch 11
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Sketch 12 
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Here's to putting creativity in action! I hope all of you are experimenting with adding a little creativity in your loves, too.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So Proud of This Guy

Grand Master B has completed the residential portion of his treatment program and is coming home to stay this weekend! We are so excited and proud and happy and anxious and completely overjoyed... You get the picture. All of the sadness, all of the distance, all of the separation was worth it. I am convinced more than ever that hope is truly my little word for this year... Looking at him, knowing how hard he's worked, seeing all that he's accomplished just restores my belief in the power of hope.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Fun Day

I had a wonderful night out with some of my girlfriends seeing the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra at the Holland Center. Learned some cool stuff at the lecture prior to the show & then totally grooved to the smooth sounds of Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Good times. back tomorrow with news about an upcoming crafty project!

"Goodnight John Boy..."
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Embracing Your Own Creativity

I have been musing a lot over the past few weeks on the concept of creativity, more specifically embracing personal creativity. I got started considering this idea after a friend of mine said to me, "I wish I could be as creative as you. I just know I could never do any of that stuff." My immediate response, "Of course you could. But there is a learning curve. Like with anything new, it does take time and practice." And then she responded sadly, "No. I'm just not creative."

This really bothered me. Because I just don't believe that. I refuse. I believe that we are all born with a sense of the creative. Creativity is akin to imagination. Everybody has it but not everybody knows how to use it.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of creativity is artistic or intellectual inventiveness. Creativity is marked by the ability or power to create or bring into existence, to invest with a new form, to produce through imaginative skill, to make or bring into existence something new.

 At its most basic form, creativity is birth, bringing something into existence. And we all have the power to do that.

Too often, creativity becomes synonymous with artistry or talent or genius. This does a disservice to all. Some of the world's most creative individuals, such as Albert Einstein, Linus Pauling or Marie Curie, had very little to do with art and very much to do with changing the world. It is less about talent and more about openness and a willingness to explore new things. It means continually looking at the world around us with fresh eyes and a new perspective. It is both vast and yet intimately personal. How creativity manifests in my life may be very different from how creativity is present in your lives.

I think that is why there so much resistance to creativity. It is powerful. It can be overwhelming. And it very often produces fear.

Fear is a natural enemy of creativity. So are self-doubt, insecurity, perfectionism, self-criticism, inflexibility and comparing one's self to others.

Conversely, there are many emotions available to you that will foster creativity: courage, acceptance, confidence, letting go, embracing imperfection, flexibility and focus.

I guess it is just a matter of choice. I have actively chosen to live my life creatively. And while I may not produce the kind of changes in the world as Albert Einstein, I certainly produce changes in my world that make me and those around me happy.
I wish you the same. Because you are creative, too.
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Mea Culpa

Yesterday's planned post got derailed by a lovely but impromptu dinner with friends. See you later tonight...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Whole Lotta Eye Candy

Today, as promised, I have lots of crafty goodness to share. I have made some amazing new scrapbook pages over the past eleven days. They are all the result of daily inspiration from Kelly Purkey's Sketchbook class. In case you missed it, I already shared my first two pages in this post. Below, are the pages based on the next five sketches. Later this weekend, I'll wrap up with pages based on the remaining five sketches.

Sketch 3

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Sketch 4 - Shared in yesterday's post. : )

Sketch 5

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Sketch 6

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Sketch 7
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I am really pleased with the spurt of creativity brought on by Kelly's sketches. I haven't used sketches very much in the past with my crafting. I worried that I would feel confined by the sketch or limited in my own artistic expression. But after consistently using sketches as a starting point for the past 11 days, I actually found the opposite to be true. The sketch sparked ideas, some were product based and others were more story based. But once I began printing photos and pulling papers out from my stash, the sketch was forgotten and the page became wholly my own. It was amazing to see the variety of pages among members of the class. You would never guess that we all began with the same sketch.
So, I'm off to watch Project Runway...thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any questions about products or techniques on any of the pages. Just leave me a comment.

Messages From the Universe...and the Fabulous Mrs. Baker

I am trying to blog more regularly but I haven't quite got into a rhythm yet. So when I was planning out the next couple of days, a new blog post was on my list...but it wasn't at the top of the list. I completed a medico legal report for a court case that I'm consulting on; I did a little spring cleaning and laundry; I enjoyed a lovely lunch with Mr. Jimmy; I finished a couple of scrapbook pages for my class; and I've been thinking deep thoughts about creativity.


So, somewhere in there were thoughts about my blog post, more specifically a post on personal creativity. But those moodlings are still in an infant stage and not yet ready for publication. And then one of the first things I read this morning was this post by Gretchen Rubin outlining tips to help you tackle your "to-do" list. One thing that really struck home with me was this: It's actually easier to blog every day than it is to blog two or three times per week. Daily blogging instills consistency, provides opportunity for creative expression and develops a sense of commitment. These are good things, right? I think so, too and I am already on board with the concept. And, then, my good friend Mrs. Baker sends me an email broadly hinting that my blog is in need of a new post...which is not only true but also very sweet. It's good to know that someone out there enjoys my meandering.

Sometimes you just have to accept that the universe in sending you a message.

I am in for daily blogging.

Tonight I leave you with a recent page I created for my wedding album. I got married nearly two years ago and the book is probably two-thirds complete. Let's not even get into that level of procrastination, shall we? Tomorrow, I'll be sharing another crafty project. And Friday, look for some high falutin' thoughts on creativity. Let me know if there's a topic you'd like to see in the future.

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PS Grand Master B is just doing amazing! He came home for Easter last weekend and will be back again this weekend. And we're in the midst of finalizing his transition to return home for good. So many wonderful things in our family's future!
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Told Ya I'd Be Back...

Oh my has been a beautiful day here today in the heartland. I had a full schedule of patients at work; all of them showed up which is a bonus. I had a lovely dinner with my hubby. And I even found a little time to myself for some crafting.

I am taking Kelly Purkey's amazing new class called Sketchbook. Everyday for 12 days KP provides an awesome sketch for a scrapbook page. The handout is chock full of design tidbits, tips & tricks and amazing examples. She has teamed up with the Studio Calico Design Team to bring a wide variety of styles and amazing creativity to the example layouts. I am absolutely loving this class. I'm so inspired. I've been making a page a day (so far)  and have tons of ideas for more pages. I was even able to participate in the the class's first live chat tonight...I know - I, too, am shocked at my productivity.

So, I thought I'd let you reap the benefits as well by sharing some of my pages. I am not going to share the sketches or any of the example LOs because those are just for members of the class. But you CAN bask in the glory of my creative endeavors...if you try really hard.

This is my LO based on the sketch 1. I have been wanting to put together some pics of Princess Izzy taken over the past 6 months. She has most definitely knows her own mind and she isn't afraid to let you know it either. I just love this girl, sass and all.
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For the sketch 2, I wanted to highlight some of the many things I love about my best friend. Deana turned 40 recently and we spent several days celebrating this milestone. I wanted to put into words some of her accomplishments right now, at age 40...and I wanted to show off the killer photo that I took of her.

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Here's hoping everyone has a lovely Easter weekend. I have tomorrow off and plan on doing more creating. I'll share some more colorful goodness with you this weekend.

PS I just want to take this opportunity to let you know that I won't be 40 until December 2012. Yes, thank you, I am the younger and prettier sister...
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dear Spring,

Hi again. It seems like we do this every year, but I was wondering if you could lay off on producing so many allergens. I am having some trouble breathing so clear nasal passages and working lungs would be a huge boost right now. Thanks!

Love, Jenn

PS I'll be back tomorrow when my allergy meds have fully kicked in. I can't wait to share some of my latest projects...super cool stuff!
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just call me 'The Bachelorette'

Jim left yesterday for a week-long trip to Florida with his best pal McGraw. They are in Florida to check out spring training...yes, that would be baseball, specifically spring training for the St. Louis Cardinals. While some people might not find such a trip particularly attractive, for Jim this is a boyhood dream come true. Spring training, baby! Who knows - maybe he will end up playing major league ball? And while he enjoys the Cardinals, his heart belongs to the New York Mets...who just happen to train right up the road from the Cardinals. It's Christmas in Jimbo-ville, folks...

So, not only an I left at home alone but also I have to wonder if he'll ever come back. Good thing, he's a prince among men. I am sure that he'll come home...but it looks to be a lonely few days around the home front. But Grand Master B will be coming for an overnight visit on Saturday and we will be taking care of Mr. Sam & Princess Izzy as well. I am really looking forward to a full house.

Since I am thinking so much of Jim, I thought I'd share one of my favorite pages celebrating the man.
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Here's to you, Jimmy.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Experimenting With Home Decor

I've been mixing it up this week. I've seen other crafter's do really cool and interesting things to decorate their homes using traditional scrapbook supplies. Up to this point, I've been leery of attempting this. My initial response is fear. I guess I'm still not fully trusting my own creativity and inventiveness. I would see these really neat ideas and finished projects that other women had envisioned and immediately think "How did they every come up with that?!?" which would then be followed by "I could never do that."

Well, the time has come to end that kind of thinking. Fear is a killer of so many things, but it definitely stops creativity in its tracks. Lately, I've been actively trying to approach every area of my life with more openness and less fear. My initial thoughts when I encounter really inventive projects or ideas might be "How did they do that?" but I am working on my next thought being "I could do that, too."

In that vein, I have had this 7Gypsies Artist Printers Tray since before Christmas. I bought it on a whim thinking I might be able to do something cool with it but I really had no firm ideas. At the same time, I have been slowly working on my wedding album. I really love how it is shaping up and am so thankful we invested our money in two great photographers. There are so many gorgeous pictures and they spark vivid memories of one of the happiest days I have ever had. Showcasing them in a special keepsake album is wonderful but I also want them displayed throughout our home.

:: experiencing an eureka moment ::

Obviously, I came on the idea of using the Printers Tray as a home for a collage of wedding memories. I focused on using papers and products that evoked the joyful, carefree feeling of our beach wedding. I love how it turned out & now I get the chance to see it on my wall every day. So cool.

Hope you enjoy this project. I included an overall shot of the tray and also two close-up shots of some of my favorite aspects of the project.
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