Saturday, December 12, 2015

#scrapper -- 12.12.15 travel journal

What is one to do when one of your best friends decides to go on vacation - without you - for a month?

Pull out the scrapbooking supplies... and go on Pinterest to make her Christmas present.

After some searching, I found pins detailing smash journals and various travel journals and knew I had a winner. Thankfully, I already had a pack of appropriate paper from Walmart (Colorbok) and plenty of other supplies - twine, scrapbooking squares, fancy scissors. Off I went to Michaels - and let me tell you, friends. Michaels has amazing sales. Basically the Kohl's of the craft world... Thanks to, first, a 50% off coupon and then 3 uses of a 40% off coupon 3 days in a row, I managed to get all of these supplies for super, super cheap. Google "Michaels coupons".

What you're about to see - drumroll - is my version of a travel journal. The goal was to make something in which my friend had plenty of room to write, paste pictures, and insert "paper souvenirs".

First, I started with a regular 6x8, 80-page, unlined journal from Michaels. I wanted thicker pages - not your regular notebook thickness - so they could actually hold some weight.

I really didn't want something with words on the cover, since I wanted to decorate the cover. However, this phrase ended up fitting very well with the whole theme of the journal.

The rest of the supplies were pretty basic - a few different kinds of scissors, glue sticks, super glue, Bic markers, a black fine tip Sharpie, scrapbook paper, scrapbooking squares, rulers, glitter, stickers, charms, twine, and quotes I designed and printed on beige cardstock.

Can you tell I'm OCD/type A? I wrote down every single day she would be gone on an index card so I could keep track of how many pages I had made already and how many were left. This also really helped me lay out the journal, since she will be in more than one state during her vacation - thanks to the index card, I could design certain pages differently based on where she would be.

I am inordinately proud of the above page (the cover page). It was easy to make - write each letter of her name in a different style on my handy-dandy cardstock, cut out a modified circle and paste on scrapbook paper, cut out another modified circle, and slap it all on the page. However, deciding how to lay out the letters was NOT fun. In retrospect, I should have taken a closer look at the amount of space I had on the page before recklessly cutting all those letters so big.

Obviously, I just grabbed pieces of scrapbook paper and started cutting. The imperfect circles were super fun, since I can't cut a circle to save my life. Notice how these layouts are extremely simple. I left a lot empty so she could write and paste everything in the journal.

I think the biggest thing, for me, about this journal was the fact that it was such a mishmash of colors and styles. Some of it was typed, most of it was handwritten (and no, I am not that girl with gorgeous handwriting). A lot of it was romantic/modern vintage in style, but there were smidgens of modern black and white and bright colors. I really liked this, because I honestly think perfect projects are not only very discouraging to try, but also unrealistic, especially for someone with OCD (like me). So, the point to that little dissertation is: it's completely and totally fine if you hand write a quote on your paper and glue that in. Mix up the colors. Switch back and forth from styles. And, this is supposed to be accessible, right? So, you will probably not have time (or want to take the time) to type everything you want to say on the computer, format it, and print it. That is a-ok.

I admit it, I think like a teacher. However, what else are you supposed to do when there will be a 5-year-old on this trip as well? You just have to give them a space to journal (i.e. color, doodle, and write down hilarious stuff). I put two sections of these "kid pages" through the journal. These were, frankly, the easiest ones to make, since all those letters, frames, symbols, etc. were premade and perforated. Can I get a cheer?

One of my favorite web resources is Dafont. This site has thousands of free fonts in all different styles - Gothic, Serif, Celtic, Script, Wingdings, Christmas, etc. All of the fonts I used in this project, except for about two, were downloaded from Dafont.

I think the two pages on the left were some of the best in the whole project. If someone is going to an amusement park, you just have to incorporate tickets in there somehow... and I found a whole 12x12 sheet of paper covered with tickets at Michaels. To make the pocket on the left, just cut a triangular piece out of your paper, slap glue (not scrapbooking squares) on the two legs of the triangle, and align it with the edge of your paper. This is a basic, redneck-style pocket. (At least I think so - there are some serious pocket tutorials out there that I would love to do.)

I love, love, love this Emerson quote:
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not. Perfect for a travel journal, right? I thought so.

Finally, one last detail: a bookmark. This was so easy. Take three strands of twine, cut about 3 inches longer than the length of your notebook (in this case, 11 inches). You're going to braid them together, so you have to tie the tops together. Just tie two of them together and then add the third one in and make a second knot. Braid until you have about an inch left. Then, take a charm (again, I found mine at Michaels, but these are literally all over the place - your choice) and thread one of the strands of twine through the loop. Braid the strands again about 1-2 times, then fold them back up against the long braid on whatever side is the back of your charm. Hold them there and dab super glue on near the bend so they will stick to the main braid. Once the glue dries, cut off the end of the braid (you see why I glued it at the bend, not at the very end. Oooh. Rhymes.) You will probably have to put something heavy on top of the bookmark for a little bit to straighten it out.
Next, open up your notebook farther than 180 degrees - this may depend on your notebook and how it's built, but the outside binding on this notebook wasn't glued to the spine. This gave me a little hole to stick things into, so I used a pencil to spread super glue down the inside of the hole and then stuck the top end of the bookmark in there, shut the notebook tight, and clamped it down so it could dry.

Gotta have a hashtag, right?

I think that the biggest piece of advice I have is: don't get a journal with eighty pages!! It ended up being way too many for the timeframe I had to work on this. If you know you're making this project a month in advance, and you start a month in advance, you can fill all eighty pages. If you try to do it in five days, no way, Jose. Ain't happening. And, related to the journal question - if you can find something along the lines of a sketchpad with non-perforated pages or a spiral notebook with thick paper, my guess is that it will be a lot easier to work with.

I hope this post gives you some ideas or some inspiration! Go out there and do something... remarkable.

What an original quote.

Friday, November 27, 2015

At Least

My grandma is dying of congestive heart failure. As I write this, we have made plans to go see her for what we think will be the last time. I've already (being the planner that I am) come up with things to do while we're there - I'm going to borrow a keyboard and play for her. I'm going to ask her to retell all those stories that I always thought should be written down. We will sing for her, let the dog inside to be loved on by her, entertain her with our antics, and take pictures. Lots of pictures.

It's almost impossible to give you the full essence of who she is through a blog post. She has a magnet on her fridge that reads "showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord" (from Psalm 78). That is probably the best summary I can give, and my aunt's blog post that I read this morning is further proof that she is one of the brightest "lights on a hill" on this earth.

My mother was admitted to a hospital in Pittsburgh that has a reputation for good doctors, but a place I would never recommend.  An old hospital under construction with narrow drab hallways, boring rooms, marked up walls that should have been painted years ago, broken blinds (her middle blind wouldn’t open), and dirty windows.  I had to ask for towels and toiletries, clean up after her because it took over an hour for anyone to respond to my requests, buy her bottled water, and even buy her meal the first night because she was in the emergency room when dinner was served.  The view in front of her bed was primarily trash receptacles and a board with the rarely updated names of her current caregivers and the goal of her visit: “home”.  My sister brought lots of photos and decorations from home on the third day which was wonderful…
My mother’s experience: Every morning she pointed out the “beautiful sunrise” – she is a country girl who is used to seeing the sunrise through trees – this one was over another drab and dirty hospital building.  She enjoyed walking the hospital hallways, admiring how wide they were, and looking out at the city through the window down the hall since there was no view of it from her room.  Mom told me several times how impressed she was with what a great job the cleaning woman did.  She was so kind and friendly to the nurses and aides, even when they came in all night every couple of hours.  One nurse said she was the sweetest patient he’d had. We sat together for hours looking at movies I’ve made of her grandchildren, and pictures from trips we made together as well as my travels.  I even showed pictures from my walk through the nearby park in the afternoons, and she never complained that she could no longer do those things.

Enjoying the sunrise - through a horrible view. Watching Pittsburgh live its life through a window in the hall. Loving the nurses who came to help her, no matter when. Noticing how well cleaned her room was. Admiring how wide the hospital hallways were.

That last one really gets me.

She is finding ways to see the good in where she is. By the grace of God, she has found it, too.

To me, this is a huge lesson to learn. She, as I know from numerous phone calls, emails, and texts, was very uncomfortable, thanks to the fluid building up in her lungs and the general discomfort of a heart that no longer will cooperate. Yet she saw an "at least" - which is what she always does - in everything.

Nasty, ugly buildings? At least I can see the sunrise - and God did such a great job on it, too.

Look, Deborah, the cleaning lady did such a great job today! This is so nice!

Pictures from the walk my daughter took, that I can't do anymore? At least she's here with me and I get to spend time with her.

So I am going to start looking for "at leasts". Because we just celebrated Thanksgiving. We were grateful for what we had - stomach bugs and colds changed our plans and so we cooked a big dinner at home and had a sweet, snowy day with just the six of us. Because we have so much. Because, no matter what we do or don't have, we have victory in Jesus, which never changes.

Dirty dishes on one side of the counter? At least we had the food to make them dirty.

An annoying sibling that won't stop? At least I have him/her in my life.

Snowy paw prints on the (freshly mopped) floor? At least we have this bundle of joy we call a dog.

My beloved grandma is sick and getting ready to leave us?

At least I get to see her one more time.

Friday, September 25, 2015

25 Things I've Learned Since August 25

Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
Mark Twain

I have officially been a college student for a month - I can tell you about math tests, expensive vending machines, campus sidewalks (why don't they make them a grid?), speech evaluations, Starbucks, student radio, and the classic studying in the library. I've found the best ways to get back and forth and my favorite place to spread out, read, and work (a gorgeous nook off of the upstairs library, with almost 2-story glass block walls). I pulled my first (almost) all-nighter a few weeks ago and was not impressed. I have a speech coming up in the middle of October, an education paper to write, and a choir concert coming up. However, God is true in everything. I will post more on the struggles I've had later, but I thought it would be fun to list some things I've learned. Some are personal, some are strictly academic, but hopefully they will humor or fortify you in your own journey.

1. If you're studying in the same building as your next class, start packing up your books about 10 minutes before said class starts. It takes more time then you think.

2. A polygon with 10,000 sides is called a myriagon.

3. "Luí na gréine"is Irish for "sunset".

4. I can now sing most of Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes.

5. Give yourself breaks. Read, play a game, rest for a little bit.

6. Yogi Berra said "He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious." (Bahaha.)

7. God feels the pain I feel - and thankfully, I have family and friends who are willing to share it  as well.

8. Interpersonal communication is fascinating. When you have a conversation with two people and then later figure out the unspoken relationship between those two people, it makes you be careful what you say to who!

9. Pray that those you know who are not believers (or those whom you're not sure about) will know "the Christ, the son of the living God." You never know when they will pass away.

10. When I speak in public, I move around way too much.

11. If you get one of those notices from a dealership about your car, take it seriously.

12. There's nothing like a Reese's Cup. (Okay, I knew that before August 25, but you get the point.)

13. I can lead the singing in church and survive.

14. Pinterest is addicting.

15. God transcends culture - if a value, belief, activity, etc. in a particular culture is unbiblical, it is wrong.

16. Don't buy your coffee at the college - scary prices.

17. I don't have to be perfect.

18. Before the MLA (or APA, I can't remember) updated their rules to include citing websites, people literally read off the website address in a speech.

19. I pay for it when I overcommit myself.

20. Listen to uplifting music as often as you can - K-LOVE, Christian CDs, etc. I have a CD by the Mattaniah Christian Male Choir in Canada that I am wearing out. (Great Is Thy Name, O Lord, track nine - Jehovah Tsidkenu)

21. Get people to pray for you!

22. When making note cards for a speech, put one idea per note card. That will make it much easier!

23. It can be very disturbing when the Internet crashes.

24. Keep up with any health program you are on!

25. God delivers me, protects me, and supports me.

God's strength behind you, His concern for you, His love within you, and His arms beneath you are more than sufficient for the job ahead of you.

William Arthur Ward

Here's to the #next25!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I Lift My Lamp

Today’s Google doodle was a celebration of 130 years since France dropped Miss Liberty off on our shores. I’ve never yet seen her, but that day will come, Lord willing. She is truly the perfect welcoming committee for those who wanted everything America represented – freedom, a fresh start, a safe land. Years before I joined, my choir sang the poem that Emma Lazarus wrote, adapted by Irving Berlin:

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore...
Send these the homeless tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!


I love that song and the truth it holds about the land I love – and our welcoming committee herself. 130 years – we see that part of her history and automatically think, “Wow. That has been around a long time!” And then you realize, no, 130 years is a drop in the bucket compared to England, China, and Germany. Not to mention, the good old USA is only 239 years old. We are still a young land when you hold our age next to many on the list.

Put 130 years in context by setting your family history up against that number. 130 years ago, my paternal great-great grandparents were a few years away from having a son, Henry. This man would go on to marry Sarah and raise 4 girls, one of whom is my phenomenal grandma. When Henry was born, the Statue had been there for only a few years. New Yorkers had just gotten used to seeing her when they looked harborwards through their windows. She probably had not gotten her distinctive color from all the elements that beat her day in, day out.

Fast forward maybe fifteen years to my maternal great-grandfather, a young child from Ukraine, landing on the shores of America with his father and older sister. His mother had died before and now the little family was heading to the States. I wonder, where did they land? Did they see the Lady of New York? What did they think? Maybe it reminded them of their grief – how their wife and mother would have loved that sight. They could have thought about what Liberty meant to them and their plans. Or, maybe they just thought about getting off that boat. At any rate, they did get off that boat and begin as Americans. My great-grandfather got separated from his family – a second marriage for his father resulted in ill will towards him, courtesy of his stepmother. He was adopted by a French family and took their last name. He then met and married Lorene, and proceeded to make himself the only male in the family by having 5 girls. The oldest is my lovely, loving grandmother.

Two different families from entirely different countries – Scotch Irish (and, thanks to my Grandad, a good old stock of German), and Ukrainian (eventually mixed with Irish) but both raised in a country founded on a law that never changes. This was, and still mostly is, a country that offered true liberty to its residents. You could worship as you pleased, say what you wanted to, and write what you believed. It is a country that has been sanctified by blood, the blood of those who knew that this would not keep itself. They would have to keep it, and maybe lose their own keeping in the process. It is a country that has been through dreadful blows – times of shock, sorrow, and wondering if it would be over. Is it a perfect country? No. But that’s not the point, now, is it? It never is. Perfection and this world do not get along, for a very good reason. In a perfect world, liberty would not be the joy it is to us, even now, because we would not know what oppression was. Think about those families I already mentioned. As far as I know, there is no dramatic story to their journey to America. But you don’t have to go far to find those stories. The people who appreciate the land they live in beyond words, because they have been where their homeland does not appreciate them. And they see what not nearly enough of us born-and-raised Americans don’t – this unprecedented freedom is a gift.

So these two families became united when two patriotic people, a boy and a girl, decided that they would glorify God together as a new family. Surprise, surprise – their daughter is the one writing this, writing about the country that has given her chance after chance already. And she prays that those chances will continue, not only for herself and all she loves but also for the ones she hopes will call her Mommy in the future.

That, right there, is what America is. Where you raise your children, thanking God every night that you can teach them about Him from the day they come to you without whispering, hiding your Bible under a stool, or worshiping in secret – or worrying about preaching the Word of God. Where you support your children, working hard and honestly so you can give them a decent life, and where you have the right to turn down those contracts and connections that go against your conscience. Where you hop in the car and drive to your local school to vote for the candidate who will, by the grace of God, keep on making all of this possible – and all the while remembering those who cannot vote in safety or, even worse, cannot vote at all. This is what a group of men, two hundred some years ago, wanted. They had been through hell trying to secure these rights and they put their best into the document that they prayed would keep their baby land safe and free for the ones to come. That responsibility – that baton – has continued down for 239 short years. It was still being handed down 130 years ago when Miss Liberty was installed in New York. Can you imagine the patriotism and pride that those watching felt as they saw all this happen? Then, of course, they passed that down to Henry, to Sarah, to their children and children’s children and their children. They passed that to the young motherless Ukrainian boy and his daughters and their sons and daughters. (Interestingly enough, one of those grandchildren has been elected multiple times to state office by similar, freedom-loving people who have accepted the baton from their parents and waved it well.)

Now, I have it. You have it. We have it.

What are we doing with it?

Happy 130th anniversary of your safe journey, Lady! In the providence of God, may you have another 130 years to watch us inherit this responsibility, take it seriously and thankfully, and pass it on again.