Monday, February 8, 2016

Planner Love: A Necessary Obsession

Picture it, Sicily, 1942.  Wait, that can't be right.....

The coffee is kicking in and the chemo is working on doing the same. I'm a Special Snowflake with nowhere to go. Since I spend a solid chunk of each day studying my planners like I'm cramming for finals, I thought I would share some of what I love.

I started using planners about 25 years ago, in high school. At the very least, I was able to keep my homework focused. The same was true for college, but then I also added my work schedule to the mix. Thrilling stuff, huh? I know. Even I'm wondering what will happen next?  What? ! I even planned as a fully employed adult?! Shocking!

Okay, smart assess, I get it. Get to the good stuff. Right. Cut to today. Chemo Brain hits hard on my current treatment routine. If I don't write things down, they will disappear from memory. That includes appointments, family schedules, bills, notes on side effects, pretty much anything you could imagine. What's worse is that there are some days that my cognitive abilities are so impaired (ie, it took me 45 seconds to find "impaired" floating around in there) that I respond faster to icons than words. As a result, I'm a 39 year old woman who has a thing for stickers.



Yeah, there are actual planner pages underneath all of that. Some weeks show more white space. The following two weeks certainly do. I used to feel self conscious about this, but I learned to get over it. Most of what I use is functional and keeps me aware and engaged. I have a space for my chores, a space for meds, The Boy's education, appointments, fitness and TV. Since I still use it, even five months in, it clearly works for me.

If any of the details spoke to you, I recommend you check out the following Etsy stores and companies:

*Plum Paper Planner (this is the family planner) https://www.etsy.com/shop/PlumPaperDesigns?ref=pr_faveshops
*Vintage Gypsy Road (for pretty much everything else) https://www.etsy.com/shop/VintageGypsyRoad?ref=l2-shop-info-name
*Add A Little Shine (for the foiled pills)https://www.etsy.com/shop/AddALittleShine
*Crafted By Corley (for the martial arts kiddos) https://www.etsy.com/shop/CraftedByCorley

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Quitting Facebook (The World Won't Fall Apart)

So, confession time? If I could actually live in Facebook, I probably would. I joined in 2009, connected with a core group of friends and haven't really logged off since. I'm not checking my feed while driving. I do get approximately eight hours of sleep each night. I do check Facebook within ten minutes of waking up each morning, virtually all day long and before I go to bed each night. I read local articles, shared in local groups, selective political blurbs, funny memes. I check on my beloved online friends to make sure they're okay. I update my husband on family activities, whenever relevant, because he doesn't log in unless absolutely necessary. It hasn't been "absolutely necessary" for years. He's proud of that. I admire him for that.

While I enjoy most of the time I spend on Facebook, it doesn't satisfy some part of my core that knows there is something more to life; that there is this real, tangible, thing known as life. After a day on Facebook, I don't feel the pride, and value, of accomplishment. I feel the regret of squandered opportunity.

Beyond the guilt, I feel wounded by hurtful generalizations. I feel angry because I see too many memes fueled by fear and hatred. I feel like giving up. I have learned that I love people more when I don't know about the darkness that has escaped from their hearts and flowed out of their pecking fingers. It's getting harder to look specific people in the eye and attempt to listen to them when we see each other again in the flesh. It's even worse in an election year. Everyone is so certain that they are right; everyone ends up being wrong.

I made a choice to remove myself from Facebook this year. While trying to decide how exactly I should follow through, I came to accept that a few specific groups, and people are still important to me, and my daily life. I couldn't just delete my account and lose them. I couldn't temporarily deactivate my account because I would lose my admin status and abilities. I can, however, remove the app from my devices whenever I want without consequences. Gradually increasing the duration of my absence allowed me to get used to the concept of having a life, and getting things done, at a rate I could handle.

I started in January, just Sundays. That was pretty easy. Sundays are busy days, especially when I'm healthy enough to be busy. I learned a couple valuable lessons.

1. I function beautifully without 24 hours of Facebook.
2. Nobody misses me when I'm gone that long. It was a valuable bit for my ego to acknowledge. I am not so fabulous that the world will end without me.

This will be the first full weekend (48 hours) that I will be off of Facebook. Late Saturday morning, I had a solid reminder of days long ago; when friends weren't just a text away. I couldn't just start typing away to get my friends' advice on some First World Crisis. I had to sit still and think things through on my own. I had to remember that, ultimately, I control my outcome. I'm responsible for handling my own problems. The world didn't fall apart.

I am also remembering how to entertain myself. This blog is actually part of that. I have always enjoyed writing. I'm a wordy gal.

Heard of FOMO? I learned about it thanks to Facebook. This weekend, I don't have it. I'm at peace while drawing imaginary friends with my son, helping my mom with cookies, getting The Boy's hair cut, going to church, ironing, boiling eggs, going to Mass.... I'm not worrying that we're not sky diving, attending festivals, and anything else you can imagine. I look forward to seeing the pictures Monday, but I'm not comparing myself to others today. Anxiety managed.


Don't misunderstand. The Boy is enjoying YouTube videos while I type right now. My husband is upstairs sleeping off a potential illness. We're not suddenly bonding all day long, and I'm okay with that, too. Four years ago, I worked hard to encourage independence and space because I was too sick from cancer and chemotherapy to be engaged in anything at all. Independence and space were necessary goals. But now, there's a happy relaxed layer of love to it all. I think we're going to be better for it.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Let Me Take A Selfie

And let's see if I remember how all of this goes....

Aside from the annual December Daily project, I haven't really played with paper in a year. I have started a few pages here and there, but nothing like I have truly enjoyed in the past. Then, Glitter Girl returned. Suddenly, I could feel the love again. That Sparkly Miracle is magical!

Shimelle Lane is also pretty awesome. If you're willingly reading this, chances are good that you're already well aware of this. This first challenge, to use a selfie, was indeed a real challenge. Yes, I take photos of myself, especially on rare pretty days, but I never intend to add them to albums. This one time, however, I snapped a selfie to show my husband how well an organizational project was coming along. The Boy joined in and made my point better than I ever could on my own. He's a helper! The photo became the natural choice for a scrapbook challenge. The result.....



Almost the entire page can be attributed to Crate Paper, Boys Rule collection. Red alphas and sentiments are from My Minds Eye Basics. Oh! The airplane brad is from a Basic Gray collection. A moment of silence.....

Since I am rusty, I'll cut to thanking you for taking the time to read and see what I'm up to. I do intend to begin a routine posting schedule;  hopefully Wednesday and Sunday. Fingers crossed that my groove remains as I return to chemo.

So. Many. Moons.

I don't know if anyone would actually read this post. According to my data, I haven't written anything in a year and a half. Looks abandoned to me!

So..... In the event that anyone recognizes the name, as I pop into your blog feed,  Hi! How are ya? What's the haps? Personally, I'm okay. I'm alive. I'm mostly functional. By the bullets, I have.....

* Enjoyed two more summers with my family and friends.

* Watched my son grow more into the young man he is going to be.

* Ended one hellacious chemotherapy treatment,  which was probably the largest part of why I stopped blogging.

* Nudged my son through second grade, and several important personal events.

* Tried alternative methods of killing cancer. Basically, they worked on the areas for which they were designed.

* Tried a new chemotherapy treatment for the cancer that remains. Far less hellacious than the one before.

* I'm currently nudging my son through third grade.

* I decorate my planners.

* Now that Glitter Girl has returned, I'm suddenly inspired to create again. I'm inspired to move past existing and celebrate life again.

*I'm inspired to share and blog again.

* While I do have two posts planned to share ASAP,  I need to work with The Boy on his spelling again.

Hello!  I have missed you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Never A Dull Moment

Good Monday morning!  Surprise, surprise, I have another layout to share!  I am trying really hard to get back into the swing of things.  The Powers That Be might have helped a little.  Much of last week was spent dealing with weather-related headaches.  The most comfortable room in the house (the cool basement) also happens to be where I craft. Awesome coincidence!  Anyway, on with the share, yes?



The photo is from Mother's Day this year.  I've held off from scrapping it because I couldn't decide on design.  I've loved multiple sketches that in the past two months, but none screamed out to be matched with this page.  Colors have been tricky, too.  Also, my printer was bratty and made this far too blue. I still might not have gotten the color choice right, but it was high time I got this photo taken care of.  THAT was enough struggle for me.

Confession of a Challenge Junkie:  I've relied on inspiration from other people for so long -- give me a sketch to follow; tell me what colors to use; tell me what elements to use -- that I stopped trusting myself.  I learned a BIG problem with that in the past few weeks.  While I LOVE participating in challenges, and likely will continue to do so, I will actually STRESS about fulfilling them; all of them.  I will stress over esthetics, time management, and rules to the point that my blood pressure spikes even more than some stupid chemo drug can manage and then I'm physically worse off than I would have been otherwise.  Then nothing is fun, nor relaxing.  Screw that, right?  Agreed.  So, while I am looking forward to seeing what fresh challenges await in August, I am going to practice chilling out and seeing what I can make all on my own.  On that  note, how about some close ups?





First off, this is how it all started.  I wasn't sure if I really liked it (or if anyone else would, either), so I posted this in the Facebook group, NicoleJones911.  I then got loads of great ideas from others.  Thank you so much, ladies, if you happen to stop by!





One of the big changes I made was to create a lot of torn layers.  It's such an easy thing to do -- tear paper -- but I have hesitated to do so for... over a year.  I know! So, I did it.  I also happened to pull out this little airplane while I was grabbing tiny bottle of sequins.  Yep!  Aint no party like a sequin party!



Initially, I was just going to use the layers of torn paper below the photo.  Unfortunately, that headache I mentioned earlier also meant that all of the patterns and colors were too much for my eyes. It was fun to create but painful and distracting; so I layered some vellum overthe top.  Instantly, I was able to concentrate on the photo again. As for the journaling, I kinda wanted to add some interest and attention to the area, so I used up roughly half a sheet of alpha stickers.  I really like the alphas from MME, but I can see how it will be wise, going forward, to buy two packages of the ones I like.  They played it well by NOT supplying enough vowels.  OR I can play it my way and stop giving them money because I kinda think that's a shady thing to do.

Back to the page, I had originally intended to put the title on top of the vellum, but the shiny gold Thickers just weren't working for me.  Also, I discovered a card that had my desired title, "Never A Dull Moment" that won the day.  Instead, I snagged a coordinating photo frame, attached left-over strips from the cream cardstock and worked on adding journaling.



Basically, "See the vellum hearts that I cut out by hand?"  This was the awe-inspiring moment in the FaceBook conversation that started a complete overhaul.  One member of the group suggested I trade out the stars in the circle for hearts; to match the bockeh in the photo.  Then it became vellum hearts.  It's possible that the was also thinking that I should ditch the circles and stars altogether, but I just couldn't do it.



More vellum hearts and a stray, clear, sequin.  It amused me so it got it's own photo.

I still feel like I want to add more to the page, but I'm making myself stop.  It's supposed to have a light feel with the vellum. It could be counter productive to add more, right?  Also, in this moment, I've getting 104 comments in the background about Minecraft.  I'm a distracted human being.  As always, I will work on posting this page to my galleries at A Cherry On Top and Scrapbook(dot)com in the next day or so.  There, you can find links to all the of the products I've used.... or at least as many as I can find on those sites.

Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Let the Rhythm Move You!

Hello!  Long time no see, huh?  For those "in the know," I'm okay.  Mostly.  As is the way with this current chemo cocktail, I got one issue sorted out just to have another rear a very nasty head.  Now, this current issue is almost sorted out and I'm able to get back to my scrappy ways..... Only, that month-ish break really hit my creativity hard.  After watching a metric ton of YouTube videos, and signing up for a class at Shimelle.com, I finally have something to share. Today's share is from the class, Return to the Collection.






Earlier in the Summer, DS had a chance to attend a family barbecue and local parade.  My MIL sent me these pictures, to show how much fun he was having.

Since the goal of the class is to use *a* collection *and* a richer tapestry of embellishment, I can easily say that most of this page is somehow brought to you by Fancy Pants Designs.  In this case, it's the Everyday Circus collection.  The red alphas are MME; and other details are listed below.



  • The three monkeys on the bike are actually cut from the 6x6 version of the larger cut-apart page.  
  • The red foil stars were cut from a sheet of FP foil paper, months ago.  I also saved the negative space from all of that die-cutting for  background strips on other pages.  
  • The wood veneer smiley is from Freckled Fawn; the sequins are from Doodlebug.
  • The red stitched arrow started off as a simple stamped image, using an arrow set from Sassafras Lass (as is the image of multiple arrows below it).  Something in me insisted that the space needed to be filled AND that I needed something soft.  Red floss to the rescue!....And followed by a "thinker's" headache that lasted the rest of the day.  
  • The same arrangement was repeated in the lower left corner.
  • I decided to use the rays of the background paper as my journaling lines
  • Also, I used a recent birthday purchase -- one of those mini inky dauber doohickies to edge the photos, paper and many of the elements.  According to that link, it's a blending tool.  Of course, "doohicky" seems to work well with me right now.

And "doohicky" is probably also a really good clue that I should wrap things up for now.  If you actually stopped by and had a look, I thank you.  Within the next 24 hours, I should have this page also posted in my galleries at scrapbook(dot)com AND A Cherry On Top; with products noted.  I'm going to try to come back and share at least one more page I have recently made; hopefully getting back into a groove.  I'm not even worried about participating in challenges this month and I'll take next month a day at a time.  Stressing about crafting achievements isn't exactly on my to-do list right now.

Monday, June 16, 2014

First Day of Vacay

Good Morning!

It's been a few days, but I have another page to share.  This time, it's my submission to Scrap Around the World.  They are new to me, and I fell in love at first sight.  Their June mood board was SO unlike my usual colors and preferences that I wanted to try it out.  It's really quite lovely:



And here is my take:




Yep, I really departed from my comfort zone, huh?  The inspiration deatils are as follows:

  • Okay, I give myself credit for at least breaking out the yellow, black and gray.  I have been holding onto that yellow patterned paper for a year, now.  It finally has a home.
  • The striped paper straws helped me choose the chevron paper base.  I had meant to show only enough that it looked like just a stripe, but I guess I was my own special "helper" when trimming the paper.
  • Those same straws inpired my choice of stitching with bakers twine.  I may not do that one again.  PITA is not just a tasty bread!

Beyond that, I was also inspired by this sketch, which is part of a Page Maps June challenge at scrapbook.com:



THAT's what's up with all of the stars.  Okay, that and I've been in a star-heavy mood lately.  They're on everything.  Also, I've been in a splatter and sequin mood.  This was extra-awesome today because it gave me a chance to use some highly unloved mists.



The light bulb!   I love that light bulb.  I bought it with dreams of using it all over The Boy's latest album.  This is the first time it made it out of the package  Even then, it was almost a no-go.  This was a final attempt to make it work, but even then, the mist ran under the mask and it was just a dark yellow, water-color kind of mess.  After it dried, the paper looked kinda cool, so I just traced the stencil bits onto the mess and fussy-cut it into something I kinda like.  I now have three more in my stash to figure out.  Somehow!  Some way!



The vellum!  I love my vellum.  That actually does get used; but I have a hard time letting any of it go un-seen.  The stamped quote above and below the photos was stamped on the cut-out center of the matting. 



That little bit of stamping in the background was basically a test run.  I started to assemble this page one week before school ended.  I knew I was going to use this sketch and those colors, so I figured I would start playing in advance  At that moment, I knew I was going with the vellum, but I wanted something black behind it.  That poor stamp has waited about as long as the yellow paper.  Why not?



Thank you for taking the time to look.  Thank you, more, if you took the time to read.  If you're interested in the list of things I used, here's a link to my gallery at scrapbook.com:

Since I'm writing the post early, I'll be interested to know if I can find the name of that yellow paper, too.  I know it's a Studio Calico print and I've still got the branding strip, just in case.