From my Handmade Invitations Class

This is one of the samples from my Handmade Invitations favorite, in fact. The cake is a Sticko sticker from the vellum line.

Handmade invitations are so easy to make. I had an awesome time prepping for this class. :)


A new blog crush and a paper crush too.

Pssst. I think I have a new blog crush. You have to go and visit her here. Not only is she the owner of the righteous website The Ribbon Jar, (which is enough to make her super cool in my book) but she's also a "junkie"--which sounds bad but is actually really good. (as in she likes to shop at junque-tique type places from estate sales to Goodwill) and she writes like she's talking to her best friend...which happens to be my favoite style.

(You've noticed, I'm sure.)

And she's a dang good scrapper to boot. A little Cathy. A little Rebecca. A little funkiness all her own. Yep. I've got it bad. :)

And now for the paper crush:

Have you seen the SEI Chick-a-Doo line? Awww sweetness.

I discovered it at the store this week and it's soothing cuteness has just taken over my current regime of projects! It's so springy and happy. :) And it's double-sided too. Love that.

It's clean-up time in my space, which is a good thing for me to do on Sunday evening. I conducted 2 classes at the scrapbook store yesterday (Quickutz club and a class on Hand-made Invitations) and had the pleasure of attending a class on painting techniques taught by Jessica Turner this between packing and unpacking and space was a chaotic heap...but I'm making some progress.

So now you know.

My Quickutz Card...with 90 die cuts!

Be amazed. Be very amazed.
That's right.
90 die cuts on one 6x6 card.
Aren't they delightful?

(12 of the punchies are on the inside.)

I made this card for my QK Class that was last Saturday. The entire class featured this die and this Revolution one too, 2 dies that have become favorites of mine. The smaller one is older but still good for so many things.

In other news, I'm in mourning. Tin Pan South (a writer's festival in Nashville) is this week and I'm unavailable on Tuesday, when The Rutledge Club will be hosting Geoff Moore and Steven Curtis Chapman (along with Billy Gaines and the amazing Ashley Cleveland) and just a few hours later and a few blocks away, Vince Gill will be playing a few tunes. My heart is breaking. I love these unplugged (for the most part) little concerts. It's a Nashville tradition...


Just a few thoughts...

I would love to see this movie: Does anyone know how I can view it without getting HBO...which I'm not going to do?

Under the heading of *I do not recommend movies*, I watched what I think is a good movie last night. It's a western called Avenging Angel. You can read the Blockbuster synopsis here. It stars Kevin Sorbo (whom I liked to watch in Andromeda) as a preacher who becomes a gun-slinger to avenge the unwarranted death of his wife and child. It's set in a small town in the late 1800''s not without some typical gun-slinger/western violence but no curse words. It's predictable but still enjoyable and of course, the preacher finds his way back from the path of vengence in the end and...well, I don't want to spoil it for you. :)

Just a side note: I thought it was interesting that on Andromeda, his late wife's name was Sarah. In this movie, the wife that dies is also named Sarah.

Now the disclaimer: I have given up ever recommending movies to anyone. I have learned the hard way that apparently I a) have weird tastes in movies and b) am not as sensitive to language as other people are and c) am more sensitive to stupidity than most people. So I have a standing rule. I don't ever recommend movies, but I might tell you if I like something I see. But if you choose to watch are on your own. I accept no responsibility.

Just sayin'.

In other news, I have come to an enlightening conclusion about myself and scrapbooking--I need a scrapbooking assistant.

My scrapbooking assistant's duties would include:
--organizing and maintaining my Bazzill. I am inept in this area and consequently spend way too much time hunting for the right shade.
--making die cuts as ordered on large projects that require many of the same die. I get bored easily and hate repetitive tasks. How nice would it be to say "I need 65 of these flowers in this color please." LOL!
--when not otherwise occupied my sb assistant would straighten my area and throw away the giblets.
--when I get "stuck" the scrapbooking assistant would offer suggestions based on supplies I already have so I wouldn't be forced to go to 2peas or and check out galleries for ideas with items I don't have and of course, then want to purchase.
--the scrapbook assistant would keep up with my essentials so I could spend less time hunting for things.
--the scrapbooking assistant would be able to (at a moment's notice) remember where I saw a certain idea...whether in a magazine, online or in person.
--the scrapbooking assistant would organize all my photos and oversee the uploading process which takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

Don't you think this is a good idea?
If you are a lover of ribbons, such as I, you'll need to feast your eyes on this amazing luxury.

In Quickutz news, the second round of Scrapn' Memories QK Konnections club is meeting this Saturday at 2. There's still some room, if you're interested. The theme is very bold flowers.

And I had a brainstorm tonight. A Quickutz brainstorm. I saw this paper at and I was completely lovin' it. And then it hit easy it would be to *make* this paper background with this QK die, which I just so happen to I did. (In real life, the colors are a little's 2 am so I can't take a picture in the outdoor light for a more accurate representation of it. Imagine.)

So now you know.



When we told Julian we were having a baby, one of our first discussions had to do with names. J didn't really grasp the life-long implications of and the importance of the naming process and he threw in some truly odd suggestions at first...mostly inanimate objects like "Lego" and "Truck". Being the brilliant parents that we are, (coughcoughcough) we backed up a bit and suggested that maybe we should pick a nickname for the baby first. He liked that idea and we settled on a nickname of "Digger". Many conversations in those days were about Grey-before-we-knew-he-was-Grey...back when he was called "Digger".

I suppose you'd have to know Julian to know how important it was to him to have a brother with the proper appreciation for moving dirt around. Some of you know...the rest of you will have to trust me--the art of digging in the dirt is perhaps what we girls refer to as a "place of bliss" for Julian. He's into it with intensity and always has been. (There's a reason all the pictures I take in our back yard are close-ups...) :)

So as it turns out, the name "Digger" didn't stick. I don't know why. I use it occasionally, and I think I've heard maybe 2 of our friends use it once or twice...but otherwise, he's "Grey". He enjoys getting dirty as much as any boy...but it's not quite a passion for him, like it is his brother. As soon as he was communicative, he let us all know right quick that he doesn't like any nicknames. At. all.

So now, I say it to myself once in a while, just because it's one of those "mommy-things" that I like to remember. I mutter it, under my breath, where no one can hear--especially the boy who hates nicknames.

He so dislikes nicknames, that he has an ongoing feud with a certain little girl in another class at pre-k. It seems that Claire took it upon herself to call him "Greyson-hotdog". I have no idea where she got the idea for "Greyson-hotdog" but it does not fly with him. If we pass her in the hall, he turns his head away and growls. If he sees her on the playground, it always makes the daily report on the ride home.

"Ughh. I saw Claire on the playground. She did it again." he says with as much visible disdain as a 5 year old can manage.

"She called you that name?" I say.

"Ughhh. Yes." he says with a wrinkled nose.

"What did you do?" I venture.

"I didn't like it." he says. Like there's any way I didn't know that.

"I'm sorry she does that to you."

"She's just a silly gur-rul." he announces...and we move on. I've offered to have a talk with his teacher about it, and he always declines. when I looked out my window, this was what I saw. (see picture above) I couldn't help just seemed to fit. So I did it - I muttered "Digger" under my breath. And it made me happy. Sometimes, the Mommy needs to be a little sneaky, even knowing he would hate it. Look at him. He was blissfully engaged in sitting in the hole and digging around the edges. I couldn't help it.

He's still my "digger". Shhh. Don't tell.


Formal Photos from the Cruise

Yeah...I'm not really in love with either one. I felt rushed in the sessions and didn't remember all the "rules".


Four facts about Grand Cayman

One of our 2 ports of call on this cruise was Grand Cayman. (Unfortunately most of my photos from GC are on an underwater camera that I have yet to get developed. I had no idea that so many places have completely stopped developing film.)

Anyway, we took a taxi from the pier to our excursion point and the taxi driver - Barbara - was exquisitely helpful and being a native, of course she was full of information about Grand Cayman and happy to share it with us.

Five things I found very interesting:

1. Grand Cayman is actually the largest of the group of 3 islands which make up "the Cayman Islands". The population of Grand Cayman is around 48,000 souls. About a third of those are people who have relocated there from some other place. I could see why that would be attractive after about...oh, 5 minutes.

The other two islands are Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

2. There are two main sources of revenue for the Cayman Islands--tourism and banking. Speaking of banking. Banks in the Grand Cayman are like churches in the south. On. Every. Corner. Sometimes there's more than one bank in an office building. In truth, there are 535 banking institutions operating on the island of Grand Cayman.

I'll save you the time it takes to do the long division. 48,000 divided by 535 is one bank for every 89.7 people. That is one rich little island, people! Well, ya know. Not really...but they do seem to know where all the "money" is burried. :)

3. Iguanas run free and are a common sight in the Caymans. In fact, we saw some congregating on the side of the road. Those things give me the creeps. They are spiney and prickly and way too big for my comfort. For me (the former Mississippi girl) they fall into that same class as armadillos. Creepy.

Grand Cayman is the home of two types of Iguanas - the Common Green Iguana and the very-near-extinct Blue Iguana. The Greens are a common site on the island. The Blues, however, are a very different species found primarily now in the Cayman Islands protected areas, thanks to the Blue Iguana Recovery Program started in 1993 when it was estimated that there were less than 150 wild Blue Iguanas surviving in the wild. I found this particular information fascinating:

It all began in 1938, when the late Bernard C. Lewis from the Institute of
Jamaica, joined an Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman
Islands. With difficulty Lewis collected two Blue Iguanas, a male and a female,
which were later lodged with the British Museum (Natural History). Chapman
Grant, in a monograph published in 1940, formally described the Blue Iguana for
the first time.

Fifty years later, a British researcher was commissioned by the
Cayman Islands Government to carry out a survey of the remaining Blue Iguana
population. Roger Avery, in his report in 1988, came to a very similar
conclusion. In two weeks of systematic searching in the east interior of Grand
Cayman, he glimpsed only three iguanas. It was that same year that the National
Trust for the Cayman Islands was formed.

A fruitful collaboration between the Trust and the US National Zoo began in 1991, when the Zoos' then curator of reptiles, Dale Marcellini, visited Cayman and happened upon the Trust's new Blue Iguana breeding facility. With funding from Friends of the National Zoo, the Trust and zoo intern Kevin Gould began searching for clues on where the last of Cayman's Blue Iguanas might be found.

Answers came from the farming community of East End, and by 1993 a study site with up to five wild iguanas was yielding the first information about population density, threats, diet, behaviour, and breeding in the wild. In 1995 Kevin Gould working with the Trust's Blue Iguana program director Fred Burton, estimated that there were approximately 150 Blue Iguanas still surviving in the wild.

In December 2001, Burton commenced a new survey to assess changes over the past 6 years, to better characterize the area and habitat occupied by the relic population, and to assess the potential for establishing a protected area specifically for the
Blue Iguanas. The results were a shock: less than 25 individuals were estimated
to remain from the original wild population.

This news focused attention on the small released population which the Blue Iguana Recovery Program has established in the QE II Botanic Park. This group of about 30 individuals is now breeding successfully.

In 2002-3 University of Tennessee Master's student Rachel Goodman studied home ranges, habitat use and territorial interactions of this group. Her work yielded information which helped us assess the area of wild habitat which must ultimately be protected and managed to support a restored population of some 1,000 wild Blue Iguanas.

Current and Future Goals
The Blue Iguana Recovery Program is now breeding and rearing over 80 Blue Iguanas a year, with the potential to release over 80 two-year-olds annually into protected areas.

With the QE II Botanic Park now near its carrying capacity limit for
Blue Iguanas, the Program is now restoring a second wild population, in the
National Trust’s Salina Reserve. Longer term, additional managed Blue Iguana
habitat will be needed, to reach a genetically stable population size in the

From volunteer beginnings the work will soon require a small core team of
professionals, requiring a matching income stream. If we can build sustainable
economic activities benefiting the Blues, a high profile image for the species,
keystone grants and steady science-based conservation work, we firmly believe we
can save the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. This is one species the world need not

Info from the BIRP site.

4. The Cayman Islands have their own currency - the Cayman Island dollar. CID for short. I traded money with a store owner who deals in both and the exchange rate is 1 CID for $1.25 US Dollar. (I think I have that right...currency conversaion always confuses me to no end.)

Because the CI is a protectorate of Great Britian, there is a lovely image of the Queen on the CI Dollar.

So now you know...

A new slaw recipe.

I snagged a new recipe from Jamie Oliver's Jamie @ Home show a few weeks ago and we tried it over the weekend.

Incidentally, it should be noted that we live by our own brand of the "Fairness doctrine". If I suffer thru sports of any kind, especially one that forces me to witness my husband acting like a nut and yelling at the tv, then the Food Network and HGTV get "fair and equal time". Conversely, I rarely subject my husband to Food TV but made an exception when I was suffering from the flu and oddly enough, this recipe appealed to him. Um, so of course I made it at the very first opportunity. :) I think Joal's affection for it may have had something to do with Jamie saying it was "hearty and sturdy" or something. I dunno.

It's a slaw made with yogurt and mustard instead of mayo and it uses tons of veggies, instead of just carrots and cabbage. Joal's not much of a fan of mayo.

Winter Cole Slaw
(my take on a recipe by Jamie Oliver)

Shred or thinly slice:

half a head of red cabbage
half an onion
3 peeled carrots
half of a leek bundle
half of a fennel
2 peeled turnips

For the dressing, in a small bowl, combine:
the juice of a lemon
2 small container of plain all-natural yogurt
1 or 2 heaping tablespoons of whole grain mustard
a slight sprinkling of sugar
salt and cracked pepper

Combine all the sliced veggies in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the veggies and combine with hands.

Serve over sliced roast beef.

When I plated this, I put the roast beef on a piece of toasted wheat bread, and then piled the slaw on.

Next time, I'm thinking of adding some crumbled bacon and perhaps using slightly less whole grain mustard...that's some powerfully tangy stuff.

And one more note: it was better the second day.

Happy Tuesday!


And the "Get a Clue" award goes to...

Grey had a birthday dollar burning a hole in his jeans pocket yesterday, so he and I took an impromptu trip to the local Dollar Tree early in the evening. (Our little Dollar Tree is a little over a mile away.)

G selected a set of toy items used for pretending one is an FBI agent--standard gear of dark shades, a badge, a non-functioning walkie-talkie, a holster for a belt, and an orange child-sized .45 caliber handgun. Oh and the requisite hand-cuffs...the item that first drew his attention to the set.

So we mosey around the store for a few minutes and make our way to the check out, where we are greeted by a very young male employee of the store who is the cashier. He dutifully scans each of my items and then Grey's FBI set. He takes a look at the toy gun and makes a "humphhh" noise. And then he said "Isn't it sad that American's let their children play with guns?"

(Insert the screeching brakes sound right here.)


Ummm. No.

It was one of those special moments when I was so surprised to hear what I was hearing; I couldn't come up with an adequate response in a timely manner. My brain was a little disengaged...we were only shopping at the Dollar Tree after all, and that's not usually a place where I am made to feel the need to defend my parenting choices or my Second Amendment rights.

So what I said was "Um, well, it's a little hard to keep him from them when his Uncle is in the Army."

In hindsight, that statement isn't exactly correct--if I thought it was right to keep Army Andy's gun pictures from Grey, I certainly would do it. The truth is I protect Grey from many things that I don't want him exposed to at the ripe old age of five. But, I do not feel the need to deny my son's interest in all things weapon-ish. It's one of those parenting choices I get to make since I am the mommy.

What I wish I had said would have come out sounding a little like a Julia Sugarbaker speech. Something along the lines of ... "Yeah, it's a little hard to keep him from being interested in serving and protecting when his uncle is serving and protecting your scrawny be-hind in the Army in Afghanistan. You think bad guys are gonna give up their fight if we throw cupcakes and water-balloons at them? Ever hear of a piece of paper called the Second Amendment? Do you want police officers laying it on the line against drug dealers armed with automatic weapons and Kevlar-penetrating bullets with only their wits to protect them? Dude. Am I paying extra for this commentary on your ideas on child-rearing?"

It's probably a good thing I can never think of these things in the moment. :)

I believe little boys are born defenders. It's built into them. Defend honor, defend good, defend the fort, the home, the lines of demarcation, defend the ship, the cause, or the standard or whatever it is that needs or merits defending. Those little boys grow up to be men who defend similar things like life, liberty, freedom, fairness, justice, faith, the fragile, those who need defending in other ways. In most cases, that need to defend requires the powerful component of weaponry. Sometimes those weapons are knowledge, action and education...but sometimes the required defensive weapon is a gun.

Playing with a toy gun most certainly does not make a little boy anything but normal. Cops and robbers is a universal right of boyhood passage. Learning about gun safety and appropriate use of a firearm, as it becomes an age-appropriate topic, is as important as reading and writing and music. A healthy curiosity must be trained and guided as a boy grows. Simply saying "guns are evil" is the parental equivalent of "the street is a bad place" but never explaining how to cross a street, how to be safe near a street and how not to play in the street. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away.

And finally, if I really thought it was "sad" that Americans let their children play with toy guns...would I really be footing the bill for an offensive item?

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’

There's extensive controversy over whether or not the man who is commonly credited with this statement --Sir Edmund Burke-- actually said it or wrote it...but whoever first said it or wrote it has my full agreement. This call to pro-activity and strength - action before re-action - is a powerful thing to me. In modern terms, I don't believe in parenting from the back seat. I'm in the fight for raising the best possible children. I've not mastered it. I make mistakes, for which I repent and start again, but I certainly will not leave them out in the cold, uninformed and uneducated on how best to pursue and master that which comes as natural to them as breathing...being born defenders.

Admire and admonish.
Build and believe.
Cultivate and control.
Discipline and dare.
Encourage and educate.
Forgive and free.
Give and govern.
Help and hear.
Inspire and instill.

(to be continued)


Five years ago this morning...

Five years ago this morning, the world became a brighter place for me to live, because this little boy was born - finally - healthy - and full of peace. Tonight we celebrated that event for the fifth time...with chocolate donuts slathered in vanilla icing and red sprinkles. Oh and vanilla frozen yogurt too.

My little communicator.

Mr. Annimation.

He who can not simple sit himself on the sofa. He must (must) fly arcoss the living room at full-tilt and flop himself onto the sofa by propelling himself on some pretend spring feet up backwards on the sofa...and then of course roll his body off and start the process all over least 5 times a day.

Teacher of sign-language to all his family.

Reader of little words.

Shy soul.

Lover of Jesus and singer of the chatechism songs with complete ghusto.

Maker of lists.

Big boy.

Little boy.

Teller of jokes.


Protective Brother.



Consumer of Velveeta shells and cheese.

Shoe organizer.

Affectionate one.

Finally a five-year-old.

Adventure creator.

Cars movie enthusiast.

Real-life friend to Joshua and Sebastian.

Real-life friend to the imaginary boy name Gick (rhymes with Rick) who lives in a box under the bed and eats only hot dogs (poor guy).

Conniver for trips to Dunkin' Donuts and/or Starbucks.

Mr. Blue Eyes.

Reciter of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Wearer of fuzzy bear slippers.

Kabota horn blower.

Boy who loves his Nana and Pawpaw and Gramma and Popa.

And one who thinks his Aunt Deb is the coolest "guh-wol" (girl) ever.

Driver of a Tonka dump truck.

Watcher of "Maggie and the Ferocious Beast" and Zaboomafoo.

Letter writer.

Match-game champion.

Tester of the weather.

My "bug".

Happy Birthday Grey.

In other news, I'm on a card-making tear tonight...few things make me feel creatively happier than when I find two totally unrelated things in my stash that go well together. Happy discoveries. This piece of ribbon has been around forever as has this piece of Scenic Route paper...and just today I noticed how well they went together. And in the spirit of using old stuff...the charm is from Making Memories that I bought at a clearance store in Georgia for 49 cents.

Almost two years ago.

And finally, I have been tagged. Stephanie tagged me...and I've been putting it off. So here goes:

Seven weird or unique things about me...
in no apparent order.

1-I have always been extremely modest. And nowhere is that more clearly defined and underlined than on a cruise to the Caribbean. I'm going all out and getting wild if I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt.

2-I collect wooden-handled artist's paint brushes but I don't paint.

3-I get spastic if there's not something besides water to drink in my refrigerator.

4-I've developed a weird alertness to Julian's seizures. I can feel them coming and no longer panic. I wait until a few hours later to be filled with panic and cry.

5-I'd rather drive a Jeep than any other car in the world.

6-I can not stand it when people on MySpace whom I do not know in real life want to "be friends" even though some of my very best real-life friends are people I met on the internet.

7-I don't think I want to "trade up" my wedding ring. Joal mentioned one day not too long ago that on our twentieth anniversary, (in four years) he might like to buy me a new ring (read: a really big rock). I'm not so sure. I mean...I'm a girl...I like glittery things as much as anyone...but I kinda feel like my tiny little diamond bought by my husband-to-be at 19--when three months salary wasn't nearly what it is now, is a kind-of testament to the endurance of our relationship. My ring was bought with so much love and commitment...he could have given me a lifesaver to wear and I would have said yes. My ring reminds me that things started out very simply for us...and man, we've been thru some fire together...but the simple truth of loving that man and knowing he loves me with ever-increasing goodness still remains the most profound thing I know. Maybe we can talk tennis bracelets or something. :)

So now you know.