Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...

One of my favorite tools in the modern scrapbooker's arsenal is a variety of paper punches. For my non-scrapbooking friends, the concept is the same as a standard hole punch, only the shape is something other than a circle...and it can be bigger or small than a standard hole punch. There are thousands of shapes to choose from and many styles.

Here's one I've been using lately:

The shape of the apple is quite perfect but I couldn't help but laugh at the little blue and white "notice" at the bottom of the packaging. It's says "Ease of Use Commendation by the Arthritis Foundation".

How nice is that?
Except that it took five minutes and two pairs of scissors to get the packaging off the product--and I *don't* have arthritis.

Dear scrapbooking people with arthritis, *If* you can get the crazy restrictive packaging off this lovely punch, you should have no problem using the actual tool. Sincerely, Fiskars.

((insert a big ol' eyeroll here))


Craft Night

Sunday evenings at the ranch have been alternating lately between Movie Nights and Craft Nights. Tonight was of the Craft variety and this is what the boys and I made:

We had a good time. (I dred the day my boys decide crafting with me isn't so "cool". I try not to think about it.) I stole borrowed this idea from one of the scout leaders, who had the scouts make ornaments like this one to take to the retirement home that the scouts visit. I thought it was quite clever so we made about 6 or 8...probably gonna make a few more tomorrow.

One of the rules of crafting is that when your project is complete, you can always think of a way to do it better or more creatively next time, so I was thinking that the next incarnation of the Popsicle Stick Snowman might have the bottom section of the stick shoved down into a white-glittered foam ball, to give him more of a snowman body. Nevertheless, I do like the stick body version.

And note the use of Stickles. A good craft project must involve Stickles in some way.

I'm convinced that with enough pipe cleaners a girl could rule the world. :)

Happy Monday!


Bye Bye Target

I said goodbye to WalMart many years ago after a continually frustrating relationship, and trasferred my shopping loyalty to Target.

And bless their hearts, Target went and built a new location not too long ago, that is right close to my house.

So a funny thing happened on the way out of Target tonight...

This evening I did a little bit of shopping for the peeps in my house of the Christmas gift variety. With little fits of joy, I hit the Lego aisle, the camera aisle and the game section. I picked up a few art supplies. I browsed thru the clothing. Shopping for presents is 100% enjoyable for me...I had a list and checked off most every item on it. I was a happy camper. Despite being very busy, there was only two people ahead of me in line and I was lucky enough to have a cashier who was obviously in the Christmas spirit.

So I packed my purchases into my cart and headed for the Jeep, feeling cold ( it was 25 degrees) but more than a touch elated about the nearly-conquered list. Only two items remain! Who Hoo!

As I get to the Jeep, I notice that there's a young lady leaned up against her car, which is parked about three slots past mine. As I start to unload my packages, she approaches and asks, in heavily stilted English, "Do you have a keyboard?"

I admit it. I'm a little bit of a parking lot freak. Basically, I hate them. They are dangerous--cars backing up all over the place. And filled with "stranger danger".

But as I looked at this woman, who was probably less than 5 feet tall and definitely no more than a hundred pounds, the fright in her eyes told me she was, as my father used to say, "more afraid of me than I was of her". But why would she need a keyboard? A keyboard?

It was quite clear that her English was broken, at best, and whatever she was fluent in, was unknown to me. She held up her keys, pointed to her car...I racked my brain. Nothing made sense at first. And then, she raised up the hood of her small car and pointed to the battery.


Ahh, yes. She needed cables and a jump. Her car wouldn't start. Got it.

I was in the Jeep, which posesses more than 188 thousand miles and not a few qwerks, never leaves the city. I've driven a sum total of less than a hundred miles in the past 9 days. The Jeep contains nothing in the way of tools or cables or emergency supplies...mostly because if something happens to the Jeep, the great likelihood is that, I could, conceivably, walk home. (In hindsight, not the smartest plan, but that was the thinking before tonight.)

Joal's car--the car that racks up about 65,000 miles a year for my road-warrior husband--that car is well-equipped with tools, gear, Cliff bars, waters and blankets, emergency supplies and of course, the jumper cables.

So, I get him on the phone to see where he is. He's at home which is twenty minutes or so away. OK, never mind, let me see what I can do here. I try to tell the young woman "No I have no there someone I can call for you?" She says no. "OK let me think."

Clearly, I'm not going to leave her sitting on the outskirts of the parking lot as night is falling and the temperatures are falling as well. *I* was freezing and I was wearing a coat. I sat in the Jeep for a moment to think. I looked around for a guy in a big truck, hoping to spot someone who might remind me of my brothers. "Lord, help me figure this out." I prayed.

Maybe I could call the Target. This surely happens on occasion, maybe there would be a nice Target person who would be willing to come outside and help.

Pull out the phone, call up the Target.
A lovely young woman named Sam answers and I explain the situation as humbly and as simply as I can. More flies with honey, and all that, after all.
She listens and says "I think we do have someone who could help, meet me at guest services."

Ah, joy.
Angels singing.

I get out of the Jeep and convince her to walk inside with me. At first she's worried that the store is going to charge her a fee, but I try to reassure her that there will be no cost. We hike quietly towards the store and I feel like an Amazon woman walking next to her. I tell her my name is Sarah and she says something I don't understand.

We get to the Guest Services Desk and I ask the lady there if she's the person I just spoke to on the phone about getting jumper cables. By her demeanor, I had a feeling she was not the same person...with quite a load of annoyance and gruffness, she said "No, but we aren't going to be able to do that. It's a liability for Target."

OK. Not. "Do you want a phone book?" she offers.
Um no.
"Would it be possible for me to speak with the other lady--the one I spoke to on the phone?" I asked, not quite ready to give up hope.

Miss Grinch informed me that Sam could be found at the desk near the ladies fitting room.

So, we traipsed to the back of the store and found Sam. "We spoke..." I started and she leaned in closer towards me. She looked perturbed. "They won't let it happen" she said. "It's a liability issue for Target."

At first, I was a little stunned and didn't quite know what to say. All that came out of my mouth was "Well, that sucks." Not something I ordinarily say, but inside, I was thinking "I just spent a buggy-full of money in this store, and now they are worried about their possible exposure to liability?"

Clearly, Sam was sympathetic to my little cause but was not in a position to do anything to change the decree that had put the axe to her ability to be helpful.

So I thanked her for her graciousness, as opposed to that of Miss Grinch at the Guest Service Desk (misnomer) , and we made our way out of the store.

I called Joal, the man who faithfully and without reservation (or concern for his own possible exposure to liability) rescues me from many a storm, and asked him to bring the keyboard cables and come over.

So he did. My cohort waited in her car. She leaned her head over onto the steering wheel, and I think it's pretty safe to assume, some tears may have been falling, on her steering wheel, just as there were on mine. Mine, however, were angry.

Please tell me what the point of being the big Target is, if people don't matter? The words "potential exposure to liability" rattled through my brain. "I'll give you a liability" I thought. "If only you could be liable for being scrooges and clods." (I may have used somewhat stronger wording.)

When I look at this young woman, who barely speaks English, is all alone, in a broken down car, who just needs a jump, that might take all of five minutes, with the right equipment, "potential exposure to liability" is *not* the phrase that pops into my head. "Standard Operating Procedure" has never been something I am good at...I don't accept policy well. I'm more of a "rules are made to be broken" when the cause is good kinda girl.

So, in an effort to limit my own "potential exposure to liability", I am breaking off the long-term relationship I've held with the shiny, new Target. If people don;t matter to Target, Target doesn't matter to this "people". Target is being permanently removed from the Devendorf family budget (yes, Target was a line in our budget) and I will shop there no more.

Yes, I realize that Target's bottom line will not notice my departure. I understand that. I am but one of their billions of shoppers...the loss of my dollars will not even be a blip on the Target radar.

But I will know.

Because I am the one that a young woman in desperate need of a slight favor smiled at when her car started. I will know that being a person with a heart is far more rewarding than being an entity without. I will know that on a cold night in Middle Tennessee, I called in the cavalry for a helpless stranded woman, who could have easily been my mom or my sister or any number of my friends...and *I* was the one who was blessed to do so.

Merry Christmas.


Dear Santa.

So a few nights ago Grey (who is 7) disappeared into his room for a while to do some writing, something that makes my heart so very happy.

Above is the product of his writing session. I love that he asked Santa about "Mrs. Claws"...

Santa Claus kinda takes a minor role in our Christmas...our presents are from each other, but Santa leaves the items in the stockings. On years when Joal's not playing music on Christmas Eve, we open our presents on Christmas Eve. Most years though, he plays at the 11 pm Christmas Eve service at church, so we open gifts on Christmas morning. The boys know that Santa is a character from a story and there's no confusion about what's real (Jesus' birth) and what's legend. We don't give Santa a great deal of the credit for providing the gifts...I've never really understood that. We give gifts to each other because Christ was given to us and because he gave his life for us. How does having Santa bring all the gifts help *us* to embrace the act of giving? I love selecting gifts that I know the boys will enjoy and I take great care in doing it. I am not about to let some mythical guy in a red suit deprive them of knowing "My mom and dad really *get me*."

I'm not anti-Santa. I think the story of Santa Claus (the old story, not the commercial pop version) is indeed beautiful, as is the legend of old-world stories of Santa Claus, with all their variations. Santa has a place in our holiday, he's just certainly not the star of the show. Santa works all year to give gifts to children...he's a giver, just like we are.

I'm not sure what prompted G to write to Santa...and it's news to me that he's thinking of a new bike. The skate *bird* (skate board) has been acquired and the markers are a given. Art supplies are a must each and every Christmas, afterall. I would imagine that Santa is very likely down with bringing a "bag of candy"...that's easy to fit in a stocking.

I did think it funny the other day when the boys mentioned that the new decorative (long and skinny) stockings hanging in the living room were not as big as the ones we normally use. "They sure won't hold much" was the general consensus. Ha! "But they match so nicely" I told them. No one but me was impressed. :)


My toes are fr-o-zen but the Grilled Cheese was grand

So Julian and I went on a crazy adventure today...a food adventure...that's the best kind right? A few weeks ago, I read on Facebook about a new thing that's come to Nashville--The Grilled Cheeserie--a gourmet food truck! The concept of a food truck (great specialty food sold all over the city) fascinated me and hello--grilled cheese--can't go wrong there. I knew Juju would go along for the promise of food, so I started watching the Twitter and Facebook postings of The Grilled Cheeserie to see when they were going to be near us. Downtown challenges me...but last evening they posted their schedule for the week and today, their selected corner was one I  not only knew how to get to but also one that promised easy parking, so today, was our day for our first food truck adventure.

Hello. Grilled Cheese. Worth a bit of adventure, don't you think?

I know--we are easily amused...especially when there's food involved.

When we got to the corner of Tenth and Clark, (behind the Frist, in front of Cummins Station) there were about 30 people in line. Having never visited a food truck spot before, I had not realized that food truck food is definately not fast food. Each order is hand-crafted...and cheese doesn't melt fast, especially when the outside temp is a whopping 18 degrees. Yep. Didn't quite plan to spend a total of 55 minutes standing around in the *18 degree* weather...just didn't make the connection...or wear an appropriate coat. I had several layers on  as well as my hat but not the real coat that would have been a smart move. Neglected the socks too. Dumb move.

Don't misunderstand...I am not complaining about the wait. I didn't anticipate it...but I get it now. The gals inside were doing all they could to get the orders out efficiently--that was obvious. There were a-l-o-t of people wanting grilled cheese today! No complaints at all. 

It took about 30 minutes for us to get up to the window (plenty of time to study the menu and discuss the options with other fellow frozen waiters) and then about 25 minutes after that to receive our delectables. People were nice and no one seemed grouchy at all, for which I was grateful. The Grilled Cheeserie gals offered up free sample cups of the hot Cranberry Cider to those who were patiently waiting in the cold.   

The smell was righteous. Click on the photo of the menu board to see it larger.

I selected the "Melt of the Moment"-- Brie and Bacon Melt, which consists of Benton's Thick Cut Bacon, Brie and Buttermilk Chedder, apple and onion chutney on Multi-grain Bread. The photo shows one half of the sandwich...mainly because I forgot to take a picture before I chowed. The apple and onion chutney was delish...with the bacon...ok so the whole thing was perfection. :) I'll definately be getting this one again. Maybe tomorrow.

I don't know why I didn't pop the lid off the soup cup to show the most beautiful old fashioned tomato soup...I guess my brain was just frozen solid. Next time I'll try to remember to do that, I promise. :) Bowl of soup was only a dollar with any sandwich, and was obviously a great choice for warming up our frozen fingers. Julian selected the Pepper Jack with Shaved Ham on Sourdough...he's a big ol boy who loves pepper jack. He was quite the happy camper with his sandwich, especially when he thawed again, as we ate in the warmth of the Jeep. Poor guy...his mother is a certified food nut. :)

Our first food truck experience was quite an adventure...the food was yummy and delisious..definately worth the wait. Julian's already clammoring to return...he's quite fascinated by the concept of a truck with plumbing for a kitchen and different combinations of cheeses and meats. That's my boy. :)

The Grilled Cheeserie on Facebook

What I really want to know is where have food trucks been all my life? How have we missed out for so long? After I read about The Grilled Cheeserie, I discovered that there's one other truck in Nashville...The Cupcake Truck from a bakery in Clarksville, although it appears to not move around so much. Have to investigate that further.

Think of the possibilities!
Stay warm...and don't forget your socks. :)


Ruin is Beautiful

So it's snowing in Middle Tennessee, which means life as we know it stops and we are stuck in the house, until all 62 snowflakes have melted off. For me, that means watching movies to keep my sanity. Last evening, before the flakes started falling, I hit the Blockbuster kiosk at the mother ship Publix for 2 for the boys and one for me to watch after the boys went to bed. I selected (with minor trepidation) Eat. Pray. Love.

I should know better by this point in my life...but apparently, I don't. I usually hate chick-flicks. I have a very low tolerance for shallowness and psycho-babble...especially when it involves the concept of some woman whining "I don't want to be married any more, I need to find myself, so let's get divorced." Call me old-fashioned. I believe that "till death do we part" actually means, um, till somebody croaks (or misbehaves insanely).

So, from very early in the movie, I was turned off. Julia Roberts' character says to her husband, "I don't want to be married anymore." and off she goes, in search of herself and some kind of unquantifiable "peace". Any way. Whatever. Speaking of self-absorbed crap.

There was this one line in there -- one single line that redeemed the entire movie. In a particularly heart-wrenching, epiphony-style moment, Liz observes, rather quietly, "Ruin is beautiful."

If ever there was a three-word summary of my life, that is certainly it. "Ruin is beautiful."

I've spent a great deal of time the past few years in a state of semi-grieving for what will not be for Julian, and consequently, for Joal and myself, and I suppose, in some ways, for Grey too. We've known since he was 2 that something wasn't right with him and that he would never achieve normal childhood milestones, at the pace of a neuro-typical child. With each new diagnosis, came a new set of disappointments and a new wave of grief. When a developmentally-delayed child looks physically normal, it's deceptive for everyone who encounters him, as well as, at times, for his parents. What we call normal, with Julian, is certainly our own definition of normal and looks and feels quite different from the real normal. At some point, I hope, I will let go of the concept of the "real normal" and just fully embrace Julian's brand of normal. Is that possible? I don't know. He's 15 and still I find myself challenged to accept certain aspects of what it means to accept what he's capable of and where his limitations are. Where's the line between accepting what is and giving up? It's a constant accept what is, and yet to still push for more.

But ruin is beautiful.

Social cues are a challenge. He talks too loud. Or not at all. He is responsively slow. He stomps his foot when he's angry and raises his voice. Defiance for Julian is less about rebellion and more about a brain that misfires and will not allow him to move on. Understanding requires endless miles of repetition. Transitions breed hostility. Walking through life with a 15 year old body and the brain development of a 7 year old is to be a walking conundrum.

There are times when I'm not sure who's more ruined--him or me, in a beautiful, grace-filled way. For all the challenges that are Julian's, there are also these stunning moments of clarity...brief glimpses into the child's heart that resides inside him...the living in innocence that's been prolonged by the very developmental delays that so challenge us.

Those moments are rare. Perhaps that's how I've come to collect them and recognize them--to cherish them like the priceless gifts that they are to me. When my heart is at it's lowest, when the grief seems deepest, and the weight of what we lack seems to be too much, I cling to these moments of clarity as the lifelines of hope.

Ruin is beautiful.

Sunday mornings tend to be difficult for me. My closet never seems agreeable and let's not discuss my hair. However, every Sunday morning, when I emerge from the bedroom and come to the living room, dressed and prepared to accompany my guys to church, Joal compliments me. Often he says "you look very nice" or some variation on the theme. It's genuine and never fails to make me smile, no matter what kind of hair-day I'm having. He's quite good that way.

So a while back, on a Sunday when Joal was away, I came out of my room, dressed and pressed, ready for church, but not really feeling it, to find the boys waiting in the living room, as usual. Julian turned to me and said "You look very nice today, Mom." He said it with genuineness and exactly the way his father does it. It was a clear, unencumbered thought and quite obvious that he'd been waiting on my arrival so he could deliver the message he'd heard his father express on a multitude of Sundays before.

It was a moment. He was so proud of himself for surprising me and recreating what is normally his father's moment. I had no idea that he'd ever noticed our little weekly exercise in affection. He had no idea the power a compliment can hold. We are both growing up, I suppose. Slowly, with plenty of moments of ruin and beauty.

Ruin is beautiful.



It's tree time!

It's the most wonderful time of the year...I have been blessed with an extra-ordinary dose of happy this Christmas and that has made decorating so much more fun.

We have a long-standing tradition of getting a way-too-large fresh cut Christmas tree...the smell alone makes up for the fact that it will be a big horrendous mess to deal with in January. Every year I consider purchasing a silk tree--they definately have a few advantages, like being able to put them up any time (not having to wait for the shipment of fresh trees to arrive at Thanksgiving), no mess, no broken or malformed branches, and no spending $$ every year. Joal wouldn't have to haul the crispy heap over to the park for the city tree disposal.

And every year I end up saying "we'll think about it next year". There's just something lovely and wonderful about bringing a fresh tree in out of the cold, and having it warm up my house and my heart. This one takes up, quite literally, half the living room...just the way I like it.

I've been on a silver/clear/white tree decorating kick for a few years the collection of ornamental things is pretty full. The lights on the big tree are always clear. This year, I added in some lime-y, fruit-y green balls, leaves and glittered stars. It's not a finished project yet, bet here are a few glimpses:

I think snowflakes are exquisite, as are the clear bubbles, and white pearl balls. Basically anything that I can hit with silver paint, silver leaf, pearl paint or some can possibly go on the tree. It's no secret, I collect tree decorations all year round.

The boys have a deep affection for the disco ball ornaments. I'm sure that surprises no one.


just a few more from AntiqueLand

The woven backs of these red leather chairs really caught my eye. They were very sturdy and would have been so cool in my rec room. There was just the small matter of getting them into the trunk of an Altima for the ride home. :)

Somebody's back porch is mourning the loss of it's beloved, time-worn chair. The one with at least 6 coats of paint.

Clearly not an antique, but a cool crafty project nonetheless. New can be cool too. (If you can't tell, those are pom poms.)


a lesson in un-compliments

Compliments...are a funny thing...and a topic that I would love to write a book on someday, because so few people actually get it. Few people know how to give truly good, make-another-person-feel-grand compliments. For the record, "you've lost weight" is not a compliment. It's commentary. "You look awesome!" is a compliment. Never say to a woman, "that dress is amazing." That is not a compliment to the woman...that's a compliment to the dress. When complimenting someone, or attempting to, phrasing is everything!

FYI: when in doubt about what is or isn't a great compliment, stick with a heartfelt, "it's so great to see you". Better no compliment than a bad one.

Speaking of bad ones. A funny thing happened on my way back from the Antiqueland adventures...we stayed at a very nice hotel in Richardson, near the home office of Joal's company. We've stayed there before and it's one of my favorites. It's nicely located and easy to navigate around...there was a time when it was close to a couple of great scrapbooking stores, but unfortunately, they are no longer open. It's close to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen (my favorite southern seafood place) and now, of course, Antiqueland, which I will definately be frequenting on our return trips. Occasionally, I have the pleasure of a few days respite when Joal is working at the office, so it's nice to have exciting things close by.

So back to my little story. I'm walking through the lobby of the nice hotel (you can always judge a hotel by the quality of the art on it's walls...and this one is fantastic), purse on my arm and my new Droid X phone in my hand. I'm enjoying passing by the colorful glass sculptures that adorn the wall, wondering if they are original Chihuly or knock-offs...when I catch a young(er) man at the hotel podium watching me. I expect him to say something along the lines of "Can I help you?'. I've been here a time or two and I know my way around pretty good. I take about two more steps and he says "I like your Droid."

Now I realize I am not the girl that men randomly hit on, ever. I've never been that girl. I'm 38. I rarely even notice men younger than myself and I certainly don't expect compliments from random men of any age. There's only *one* man from whom I like to get compliments of any sort. Well, OK, two, if I count my Dad.

But wait.
He said what?
"I like your Droid."
I'm stunned.
Exactly what is the proper response to an alleged compliment about the choice of technology a woman carries? Do I need a consultation with Emily Post to figure this out, because, clearly I have no idea how to respond. Am I supposed to say "thank you"? Was that even an actual compliment? Is this what passes for a compliment these days? (I do hope not.)

Lemme get this straight. On this particular day, I've abandoned the mom-uniform of jeans, a sweater and sneakers, and for once, I'm well-dressed. My hair is done, I'm wearing nice shoes and a snappy bracelet. I've been shopping at that fabulous treasure den, and I'm sure the rush of it is still coarsing through my veins. I'm happy as a clam...does it show? There are plenty of options for appropriate compliments, if you feel you absolutely must point out something. (I'd rather you didn't but whatever.)

But no.
The best this person can come up with is "I like your Droid."
It's a phone, Bozo. That's the equivalent of me saying "I like your FAX, dude."
It's a gadget. It is definately not compliment-worthy, to any woman, especially not me.
The more I say it, in retrospect, the creepier it sounds.

"I like your Droid."
Later I imagine it in the deep-Italian accent that Joey from Friends used to say "Howyoudoin'?".
It just gets worse.

Is this all the (non)compliment that a 38-year-old woman can expect? I was suddenly tempted to run to my room and hide for the rest of the evening. Those little wrinkles that have been appearing around the corners of my eyes just grew deeper--I'm sure of it. All in the space of four words from a boy I don't even know.

Joal thinks it's severely funny and reminds me that he bought me a fancy phone because he likes me. (And because he needed someone to teach him how to use his Droid X.) And he reminds me that he knows exactly how to give a woman--this woman--a compliment...a genuine, from-the-heart compliment that says "I love you, I notice you, and I choose you" all in one little phrase...and it has nothing, nothing at all to do with the Droid X in my hand.

I'll take that any day.


AntiqueLand in Dallas...oh my.

If ever there was an appropriately-named store, it's this one. Antiqueland. Plain and rocks. Here are some of my favorite images from my time there.


Six Things I've Been Meaning to Blog About

So I'm just going to make a list...of the six things I've been meaning to blog about lately.

To all my friends who have birthdays in October, (and there are sooo many of you) I'm sorry I missed your birthdays. I have no excuse. October just got away from me and I didn't get any cards made (or even bought) or mailed. So sorry. Please know that you are still loved...and not forgotten.

I love popcorn. Well, truthfully, I love butter and popcorn. Since college, I have enjoyed a small bag (sometimes half) of microwave popcorn almost every night. It's a ritual. I eat a little popcorn and watch a little's calming. So imagine my surprise when I read about something called "popcorn cough". Apparently, there's a chemical in microwave popcorn that can collect in one's system and cause a lung condition. I know, I know. It sounds like an internet spoof/hoax/prank/legend but it seems to check out. You can google it if you want.

With this in mind, I started experimenting with the old fashioned way of making popcorn on the stove. Turns out, it's much less complicated than I remembered and has several advantages, not the least of which is price. Purchasing a bottle of whole popcorn kernals is *significantly* less expensive than purchasing the envelopes of prepared microwave popcorn. A bottle of popcorn costs about $4 (not including any coupon savings) and contains enough kernals for about 30 of my nightly bowls. Stovetop popcorn does require a touch of oil, but the savings is still quite a bit, when you consider that the prepared bags of microwave popcorn usually cost around a dollar each, depending on sales and brand choices.

Another advantage is that I can easily adjust the amount of popcorn made, so none gets wasted . And did I mention that there are no foreign chemicals and no "popcorn cough"?
And the kernals are larger.
And there's no messy bag to dispose of.
And the time involved is only about 4 minutes.

Now I can't remember why I liked microwave popcorn to begin with.

Bad Holiday Sweaters
If you need a bad holiday sweater, the Goodwill Thrift Store on Highway 96 in Franklin is well-stocked. Glitter, bells, patchwork Santas...crazy holiday embellishments run amuck! I love a good holiday sweater...and trust me, there are some real gems hanging out there. For cheap.

Operation Christmas Child, sponsored by Samaritan's Purse
The boys and I have been box-packers for several years now and every year I get such a thrill out of packing two Christmas boxes for two boys we don't even know. We are so very blessed and sharing God's blessings is such a special thing. The boys really get into it and it sparks alot of good conversations.

I recently discovered this silicone spatula and it's divine. Easy to use and easy to clean. Worth every penny. Available at Publix, too.

Also from Publix, Bom Dia Acai Juice with Pomegranate. Oh man. Stick it in the freezer for a few minutes and enjoy. Delightfulness with a little kick.

So now we are all caught up.
Happy Saturday!



The Official Magazine Fundraiser Rant

Consider yourself warned. I am about to make full use of the "it's my blog, I'll scream if I want to" clause.

I detest the annual magazine fundraiser that our school conducts. Wait. Detest may not actually be a strong enough term to adequately describe how much I loathe this concept, but my thesaurus us downstairs, so detest and loathe will have to do.

Grey is 7 and in the second grade. He loves his school. He's a good student and is truly enjoying his educational experience at NCS. This is his third year there. 

On the third day of school this year, the talk of the big magazine fundraiser started. He came home chirping enthusiastically about the prospect of prizes and rewards that could be achieved by selling magazine subscriptions. He was hyped, thanks to the school-wide pep talk that had happened that day. This is my first and second complaint to the existence of the magazine sale and to fundraisers in general--Objection #1--precious school hours are wasted on this endeavor, hours that could be used for far more vital, useful, *educational* things. Objection #2--the hyping of students, especially the younger ones on the *stuff I can win* mentality. Stuff stuff stuff. I need more stuff. Must have stuff.

No. Don't squander the time my child should be using to learn educational concepts.
No. Don't bribe him with stuff. Don't dangle "rewards" in front of him and make me be the bad mom who won't let him "achieve".
Selling magazine subscriptions does not an achievement make.

Objection #3--the competitiveness...the pitting of friends and classmates against each other for the title of "who can bully the most people into buying magazines". Really? Is this the picture of Christ's love we want our youngest children emulating? All for the purpose of magazine sales? Really? I think not. (And for the record, I do believe that competitiveness has it's place...just not here.)

Objection #4--the use of students as fundraisers. My child is not a salesman. I do not want him thinking it's his responsibility to contribute money to his school. I do that. His father does that. It's not his responsibility. He is a child. He will feel financial pressure soon enough in his life and it's our role to prepare him for handling it properly. We will do that, in our own time, without school.

I also don't want him trading on his cuteness. Who can look at a second grader who loves his school and not want to say yes. It's an unfair advantage. :)

Objection #5--The fundraiser primarily supports the magazine company...we're supposed to be impressed that a whopping 40% of the proceeds of this sale actually comes to our school. Really? I'm supposed to ask my friends and family to purchase a product to support my school and then I send more than half their dollars to the company providing the magazines. Wouldn't it be more fiscally responsible to ask them to make a smaller donation and actually *use 100%* of their money to better the school, instead of bettering a magazine subscription company?

Objection #6--Magazines. I don't know about your house, but in my house magazines become clutter. They can be recycled...something we do often, but in an economy that's questionable, is this really the best use of our money?

Objection #7--Ask your grandparents. After all, grandparents are a goldmine, and should never say no to the angelic grands requests for fundraising support. A good grandparent always has an open wallet, right. Um, no. Supporting my child's schooling is not the responsibility of his grandparents...all of whom, I might point out, live in different states. And all of whom have other grandchildren. I sincerely doubt that the grandparents in this family *could* support the many fundraisers that *all* their grandchildren are possibly participating in...not that I would put them in that position.

Objection #8--Parents can easily ask friends and co-workers to support our fundraisers. While this may be true for some, it's not true for us. Most of our friends have children and those children come with their own fundraisers. (It's a vicious cycle.) Participating in their fundraising becomes this big reciprocating money buy from mine, I'll buy from yours...yadda yaddah yada. Hate that. Not doing it.

Those who don't have children--well, about this time every year, they get bombarded with the office, in the neighborhood, etc. Sorry. Not doing that to my friends who don't have children either.

Neither Joal or I have "an office" or traditional "co-workers".

Objection #9--Responsibility. Greyson belong to Joal and I, and the continuing responsibility for his well being falls squarely upon his father and myself. His schooling is part of that responsibility. We pay tuition for the services of this private, Christian school. That's our choice and our responsibility. We take that very seriously, to the point of sacrifice, at times...we don't pawn it off on others.

Objection #10--Citizenship. "Mom, I love my school, I *have* to sell magazines to make it better." His little heart was aching because I had declared that we would not be participating in the big magazine fundraiser and he was striving to reconcile how to be a "good school citizen" without pissing off his mom. This is precisely why children have no business being bombarded with the issues of fundraising. It's stressful for him...his value in the school community should not be based on what he brings into the school in a fundraiser. He should not perceive that he is less than a good school citizen because he doesn't participate in a magazine sale, but even at 6, he felt the pull of divided loyalties. And knowing that made me ill.

Our school nets $50,000 for the Parent-Teacher organization through the magazine fundraiser. Divided out, that's about $57 per student. Why don't we just tack about $57 onto the tuition bill and be done with this hassle? I would gladly pay an extra hundred dollars to *not* have to think about not have my child be stressed or concerned about avoid having his love for his school called into eliminate the expectation that I enjoy nagging, bullying, harassing my friends, family and co-workers.

Alternatively, give parents the option of mass, non-participation. Make the "write a check" option OK in the community. I require no rewards, beyond the tax deduction. No magazines required. No selling, bullying, coercion, or manipulation required. No hassle. And Grey doesn't even have to know.

For what it's worth, we wrote a check. Made the donation. Covered his "responsibility".
The school gets to use 100% of the donated dollars. Grey was given the "reward" candy, the dollar store glasses, the privilege of wearing jeans for a week and invited to the reward picnic in a few days at a local park. I'm still not sure how I feel about that...

Ahhh, yes, I do feel better now. :)

Coming tomorrow...the Popcorn Rant.

Painting Project--Fireplace

This, my friends, is the most dreadful fireplace and if completely removing it from my living room was an option, I would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I have to live with I'm on a mission to make it over.

We don't use the fireplace. Never have. No plans to in the future. It's completely "for looks". Afterall, you can't have a 1970's American Ranch-style home without a fireplace. 

There's some damage to the guts that Joal knows all about but I can't desire. It's capped on the roof -- that's all I know. The brick is matte white-ish gray-ish dull and boring. The mantlepiece is painted with a faux finish that I detest. That will definately be the first thing I tackle.

Note: that 1995 called and wants it's brassy gold fireplace door cover back. :) I seriously hate brassy gold. That has to go ASAP! Did I mention that the entire piece is not properly sized to the opening so it's balancing rather precariously...

We've gotten into the habit of making the mantle an annoying catch-all place for things like keys and everyday junk. I hate that. I want a pretty, well-decorated mantle. That's what mantles are for, afterall, right? The painting--a Julian original--needs to move to some other location. I'm attached to the stocky black candle pillars. They can stay. I'm considering an oversized mirror with a black frame, to continue the theme of black frames I have going through other parts of the house. The star is out...

I took the first steps this weekend. The mantle has been painted black.

I think the next step is to paint the brick. White.

After that, I'll have to make sure that the inside is completely sealed against the loss of warm air for the winter. When that's done, I can remove the brass beast and fill the inside area with something...still deciding exactly what. Maybe some Mason jars with candles. :)

As a last touch, I'm considering a quilt folded across the hearth. Maybe. I think it would add a little bit of warmth and softness to the hardscape. The irony of that is not lost on me. :)

Ideas. Opinions?

Happy Tuesday!


The Glorious Uses of Canning Jars

Canning Jars
Mason Jars
Pickle Jars
Ball Jars
Tea Jars

Whatever you want to call them, I love them. Nothing says "down home" like sweet iced tea in a Mason jar. Nothing says "old fashioned" like a vintage button collection in a Mason jar. Nothing says "yum" like homemade pickles canned in a glass jar. Nothing makes you suck in the sides of your mouth like a dill pickle the size of Rhode Island stored in the succulent brine in a Pickle Jar at a high school football game. Nothing says "dad's workshop" like a jar full of random screws and nails. Nothing says "rainy day fund" like a Mason jar of pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters. Nothing says "I hope you feel better" like a big jar of homemade chicken soup. Nothing says summer like two boys giving some fireflies a new home in a Mason jar with holes in the top.

Photo borrowed from Cara

Drop some sand into a glass jar and add a small candle for the perfect inexpensive row of glowing sidewalk lights.

I can't explain the attraction but glass jars of all sorts speak to me. Small glass pint jars house my button collection, sorted by color, of course.

So, with this in mind, you can imagine the sheer delight I felt when I stumbled upon this piece of jar genius.

Happy Sunday!


Precious Scraps

Two Saturdays ago, I took a little road trip over to Precious Scraps in the booming metropolis of Dover, Tennessee. Dover, population about 2000, and home to one very nice scrapbook store. For those of you who might not know, the greater Nashville area, especially the west side of town, is severely lacking in scrapbook stores...we have exactly zero, much to my dismay, so, whenever I want a scrapbook store "fix", I have to travel.

Dover is approximately 80 miles from Nashville and not located near an to get there took almost 2 hours of backroads country driving. Fortunately, it was a beautiful Saturday morning and while the drive was a bit tedious, it was also enjoyable, in a turn-up-the-radio-and-sing kindof way.

Precious Scraps is a fine scrapbooking and paper arts store. It's housed in a metal building, set upon a hill, off to the side of Highway 79. It opened in February 2009 and is owned by Beverly Nash.

Of course, the first thing I look for in a scrapbooking establishment is great art on the walls, and Precious Scraps certainly did not disappoint in this area. There's an abundance of art hanging around...great layouts, cards, mini-books and other paper projects just waiting to inspire shoppers. It's clear that this store strives to be more than just a scrapbooking store--they are into all sorts of papercrafting...stamping, cardmaking, die cutting, board-books, jewelry-making, altering and embellishing.

PS offers a neat selection of inks and paints of all kinds, including Copic markers. It's the first thing you see upon entering. Turn left and there's an sweet selection of ribbons and cords sold by the yard. The store offers up an array of papers and items from companies such as Bo Bunny, Jenni Bowlin Studios, PaperLoft, Jillibean Soup, Basic Grey and Tim Holtz. There's a large emphasis on Memory Box stamps, which I hadn't seen before, as well as a cool selection of Studio G stamps (that retail for a dollar).

I tend to judge the seriousness of a scrapbooking store on it's selection of 2 product basics--albums and Bazzill cardstock. PS offers up a nice selection of albums on the back wall, in varying sizes and styles. They also stock the famous We R Memory Keepers sub-divided page protectors which I *adore*. (I purchased 2 packs--one of which I'd never seen before.) Unfortunately, PS sells Prism cardstock--and only a very small selection of it--instead of Bazzill. Hmmm. No can that be?

PS offers the newest Quickutz release and lots of embossing folders. I *love* how they showed an actual sample of embossed paper in front of each style of embossing folder. This is probably the best display method I've ever's so neat to be able to touch a sample of what each folder makes...very thoughtful and well executed, with a pretty ribbon hanger. :)

Precious Scraps offers a customer loyalty card and the class schedule looked quite impressive. If it didn't take two solid hours to get there, I would definately try out some of the class offerings. Unfortunately, that's just too far for me.

It was my *lucky day* for a was the day of Precious Scrap's Scrapbooking Yard Sale. I picked up a few super deals at the Yard Sale, including a pink leather QK binder for $5 and an assortment pack of items, because it contained vintage Lil' Davis ribbons, and a pack of those American Crafts Metal letters, all for $2. (Ribbon gets me every time.) :)

Check the store BLOG for details on when the store is open. (They are closed on Mondays.) Precious Scraps is a great scrapbooking store--well-stocked and friendly--and if it were just a little closer, I would go there often.

Also, to see more store photos, check out the end of this BLOG entry.

Happy Thursday!


Enlarging Stamp Images

Stamping...I've loved the idea of stamping for a really long time but haven't always been an active stamper, per se. Funny how that works. Stamping certainly goes hand in hand with scrapbooking.

I'm working the rust and cobwebs out from the blogging if I seem a little lost, you know why. I'm out of practice. The creative side of me is languishing. Sadly.

I purchased this curling wave stamp from A Muse Artstamps last summer and have been looking at it on my desk ever since. It's such a lovely deserves to be used and loved, don't ya think?

I paired it with a HamptonArts Dollar Stamp from Michaels...and did some experimental coloring with the world's most over-priced markers--Copics.

Above is what I ended up with. I'm a firm believer in the rule of threes in design, so I wanted to incorporate the image of the waves on this page more than once...but it seemed a little small. So I stamped it on plain paper and made an enlargement of the image onto white Bazzill using the copier (aka the most overlooked scrapbooking tool around) :)

Enlarged to 200 percent of the original image. Cut out and colored. Happy happy happy.

Here's the stamp next to the enlarged image.

Looking forward to baby-stepping my way into playing with some other images that are worthy of enlarging.


Perfection Achieved

So in my duel roles as the resident wedding-know-it-all in my family and the sister of the groom-to-be, I've been reading wedding blogs like a mad woman lately. I can't imagine how much more complicated my own wedding would likely have been had I had such unfettered access to fantastic ideas and inspiration as the Internet holds these days. Seriously, Joal got off lucky on that account, as he married me when I was young and had a far less developed sense of style and wedding decorum. :)

I've been reading and collecting photos, proposing ideas, comparing colors and combinations of colors, kicking around menu ideas, ripping up magazines to create the inspiration binder that will carry me through this wedding, shopping for ribbons and glasses, designing invitations and dreaming of tulle and ivy. I was born to assemble wedding experiences.

So, when this simple photo (below) loaded up on my screen today, it quite literally took my breath away. The beauty, the simplicity, the bold color and the contrast, the sweetness of the extraordinary found in just a handful of little non-traditional flowers.

{Borrowed from the "Every Last Detail" blog...}

For all the work, for all the research, for all the study to make every detail exquisite...sometimes it's the most simple little thing that really hits the mark.

So now you know...Happy Monday, and if you happen to be in the throes of wedding planning, may the perfect idea light upon your shoulder like a butterfly in the springtime.




I'm on a kraft paper background kick...this year. Kraft paper for me is like white for many's just so easy. Kraft and it.

The boy is my sister's child...and he's adorable. The clouds and stars are from a Martha Stewart Bubble Quote sticker pack purchased at twopeas...the letters are very old vintage rub ons from Reminisce that I picked up at the scrapbook outlet store in Atlanta last year. White letters are just so cool.

This is one of those occasional layouts that I didn't think too much about and did not journal...sometimes the photo says all there is to say. :) 

Happy Thursday.



This is the storage shed/fort that graces my backyard. It came with the house and was a major selling point for some members of our family. :) Since the last time we (and by we, I mean Joal and some of his buddies) painted it, Uncle Daniel built and installed the new (dependable) ladder. As you might imagine, going up the ladder and hanging out in the fort, is not something I do very often, or ever. This is truly boy-land. Moma does not go there. 

Both boys spend considerable amounts of time up there. Things fly off the deck of the fort with some homeschoolers, we refer to that as "studying the effects of gravity". :) In the summer, people have been known to hang a water hose from the deck of the fort and call it an outdoor shower. The fort is a very popular attraction. My boys get along pretty good as far as brothers go, but there's never any more peace to be had than when they are swinging side-by-side on the fort's swings--one tall, one short, of course.

Lest you think I'm raising angels (snort), there have been a few altercations that were fort-related and a few crimes committed in the fort, for which a hefty dose of mom-law was promptly administered. We will not speak of the child who thought it would be funny to um, perform a certain bodily function off the deck of the fort, sprinkling the earth below, while exposing himself to our unsuspecting and supremely tolerant neighbor...we will not speak of the child who hid in the fort and did not respond when called, for the most frightening 20 minutes of my, we will let those things remain quiet.

The's the stuff boy adventures are made of.

So, a few weeks ago, Joal was in the Carolinas on the third week of a five-week travel cycle. I was appropriately spent, as I often am when he's on the road, especially near the end of the week. It was a glorious day, weather-wise, so I sent to guys outside for a few minutes of peace inside, before it was time to start the homework/bath/dinner transitions.

All was good for 15 or 20 minutes. Just as I sat down at the computer, I heard the call.

I know that tone. It's laced with "I'm sacrificing my man-pride to yell out to you that I need your help and try as I might to get out of this situation without admitting that I need your help, I need your help. Now!!" or more appropriately, as I soon discovered, "I'm stuck."

See that picture at the top of this story? Well, those 2x4 posts across the front of the fort, that make up the railing, can, apparently, accommodate a 14-year-old's head in between them. The problem is not getting the head in between the posts...the problem, as said boy quickly found out, was that his ears made getting his head back out of the railing...wait for

So, what else could he do but use the tone and call out for me?


I head out the door with a certain fear and healthy dread for whatever I'm about to encounter. That tone and call has summoned me many times, and usually brings me to the scene of someone with a bleeding gash or a smashed up body part. There are usually plenty of band-aids to be administered. I pray quickly that no one will require professional medical help or the use of emergency responders. I start to wonder if I ever replaced the old, worn out bag of peas in the freezer after the last event--all in the space of the few seconds it takes me to get from the library to the back door of our house.

"What's up?" I ask, noticing that he's in a mighty awkward position. "My head is stuck." he says. I can, from the ground, see that his head does indeed look stuck between the posts of the railing.

And then it occurs to me that if I have to help him get his head unstuck, I'm going to have to climb the ladder. Oh crap.

So, as any mother would do, up I go. Gracefully or not, one step at the time. Have I mentioned how much I hate ladders? Heights don't bother me. Ladders...I don't do.

Unless my baby's head is stuck in between the posts of a rail and his ears are seemingly at stake. :)

So, we try a few maneuvers, moving the ears flat, sucking in the cheeks, twisting, no immediate avail. Oh dear. Did I mention that Joal is in the Carolinas...for another day?

So I send Grey for the hammer. He returns quickly and scampers up the ladder to bring it to me. I bang away at the top of the post for about 30 swings before I concede that this idea really isn't working. And I'm out of breath.

At this point, Julian's getting a little distraught. His face is turning red. He's worried. Oh ye of little faith in your mother.

It occurs to me that, somehow, I'm going to have to cut the post away. I'm the daughter of a serious furniture maker--I can use a saw--a point that I have taken great pride in at certain points in the past. But do we even have a saw that is appropriate for this task? Do we have a saw that can be located quickly?

Down the ladder, I go, into the house to retrieve the key to the shed. Into the shed to (hopefully) find the saw. A handsaw that looks like it may have cut some iron pipe a few years back and then been stored in the dirt for a week or two hangs on the wall. To call it a saw was being generous...a plastic butter knife may have given me more hope.

But, it's what I had, and Julian's voice was getting shaky. He was starting to grasp the seriousness of having his head stuck between the posts of a rail, 14 million feet in the air.

Back up the ladder, saw in hand, I prepared him for the rain of sawdust that is about to start tickling the back of his neck. "Don't cut my head off." he said and I promised not to. It's kinda funny now but at the time, I was getting a little worried about him. Serious physical stress can and has brought on seizure activity...

So I went to work cutting. And I cut. And cut. And cut. It took about 6 minutes to cut through the 2x4 with the butter knife saw. When he was finally free, his eyes were wet but I didn't see fit in mentioning it. The man-pride of the fourteen year old was already being challenged by having to be rescued by his mother. And, I was too busy trying to catch my breath and not fall off the deck of the fort. He hauled himself down the ladder and I followed after. At the foot of the ladder, he said "Thanks for saving me, Mom." I hugged him...something he doesn't participate in but tolerates, just this once.

I head towards the back door and I hear Greyson say "Dude, I thought we were gonna have to call 911 to get you out."

And Julian's response... "Yep, that would'a been so cool." I could hear the smile in his voice.

After hearing of our adventure, when Joal got home and looked over the now-removed post, he paid me the most awesome compliment. "I was impressed with the straightness of that cut you made." he said. It made me laugh. And the next Saturday, I noticed that he had acquired a shiny, new handsaw with full-grown teeth, and he'd hung it in the shed...where it will be easy to locate in the event of another adventure. :) 


So Seldom Pure

My dad says life is seldom pure and I agree. The thought gives me pause and I seek out the memory of the last time I felt one of those moments of rare purity. I can think of two. Nothing recent comes to mind, which bothers me.

Last May, Joal and I took a real vacation, alone, to Bar Harbor, Maine. Four days. No sons in sight. No work in sight. Nothing. Just Joal and Sarah. Two people who have been married almost half their lives, but who actually share precious little time face to face alone. Quiet. I love to travel, with and without the boys. I love to go to new places and experience all those places have to offer. I embraced fully everything about Bar Harbor. We ate crabcakes, lobster rolls, and other seafood delectables. We stayed at a small, privately owned, non-chain hotel right on Main Street in Bar Harbor. We walked the Shore Path. I shopped at Window Panes, Fabricate, and all the other little shops in Bar Harbor. We drove through Acadia National Park. We put our feet in the frigid water at Sand Beach. We ate ice cream from at least twice a day. We dined on blueberry pancakes 3 mornings in a row. We took a voyage out across Frenchman's Bay on board the lovely Margaret Todd.

On the last day of our stay, we made our second trek to Acadia, because we hadn't gotten enough of it the first time around. To say that the views of Acadia are breath-taking is the understatment of the decade. We stood atop Cadillac Mountain, agahst at the yawn of all of creation--the blue Bay with the little islands that dot it, the mountain, the little town of Bar Harbor by the water's edge that I had already come to love, the utterly perfect cloudless sky. I've spent the last year trying to adequatly describe how it felt to stand in the spot that is the first in America to catch the new rays of dawn every's that for getting a jump on the day? I wanted to inhale it deep. I wanted to capture it on film. I wanted to draw it in and bring it home with me. I felt so small standing on the cleft of such a monumental place and yet, the God of all Creation seemed to be saying "I do this for you. Stop and take it in."

It stopped me.
I am so rarely still.
Life was quiet.
It was a pure moment.

We stayed as long as we could and on the drive down the mountain, I cried. It was a deep ugly cry, without explanation. Tears of declaration and relief. My life has been better since that day. The views have vanished, except what I did manage to put into pixels, but that moment of sheer clarity, of knowing that the God of Creation lives inside me, shifted the axis of my heart. It was wordless and pure, and I something from which I will never recover.


Sophia (again) and Take Ten

This is the facing page (with the journaling) for the previously posted Sophia page. Do you know how long it's been since I completed a two-page spread? Long long time. very easy to use and so much overlooked these days. :)

And one more card...

In other news, back in October, my friend Leigh Ann and I made a little trek down to EMI Scrapbooking to take a couple of card-making classes with Copic/A Muse Instructor Michelle Clark. We had a great time with Michelle and the girls at EMI. Anyway, last weekend I picked up the newest edition of Stampington's Take Ten magazine...and was thrilled to see that Michelle's work is quite prominantly featured all thru it. How cool is that?!

The premise of Take Ten, which comes out quarterly, is that all the cards inside take less than ten minutes to create. Take Ten is available at Michaels and other craft chains, as well as online from Stampington.

Happy Monday!


Sophia and Let's Scrap

Sophia the Cat came to live with us at Christams. We have never had a pet before but Sophia has quickly become part of our family. She's a beautiful cat--very regal and appropriately stoic. She sleeps alot during the day but at night, she plays. Since I'm a nightowl as well, I get to enjoy her playfulness more than the guys. We roll the ball, toss the socks around and she talks to me. It's pretty cool.

Sophia has given me something new to scrapbook...and I'm pretty sure I've taken more pictures of her in the past three months than of the boys. :)

Here is my first official pet layout...forgive the lack of journaling. There's a facing page in the works and the journaling will be included on it.

Layout was made using the 4-7-2010 sketch from Let's Scrap. Here's the sketch:

I also used the leftovers to create a quick card.

Let's Scrap
Happy Sunday!



So, I have recently been admiring the blog of Paper Crafts Magazine girl Kim Kesti, but oddly enough, mostly for the saga of her quilting. She's doing these quilts with circles...which I have found fascinating. Mixing patterns randomly challenges me, but I like the circles...

Kim Kesti's Blog.


Scrapbook 911 in San Antonio

Joal and I spent the first weekend in March together on a trip to San Antonio with many of his colleagues. If you've been around a while, you might remember that we have been on several cruises, courtesy of NWYC and Joal's dilligent work. This year, instead of a cruise, he earned us a spot on the land-lovers trip to San Antonio.

One of the highlights of the trip (for me) was a quick trip to Scrapbook 911, one of San Antonio's many (yes, I'm jealous) local scrapbooking retail establishments. My time for shopping was limited so on the advice of the Peas, I picked this store to be the one I would visit. Peas did not lead me wrong. :) What an excellent place!

I can feel a great scrapbook store within about 10 seconds of stepping in the door...and boy, did I enjoy every minute I spent in this store. It was warm and well-stocked with lots of my favorite scrapbooking brands. The American Crafts Thickers **wall** was to die for as was the fabulous and generous array of ribbons and trims sold by the yard. There were great layouts all over the store and the crop area looked very spacious and comfortable.

The ladies in the store were very friendly and helpful. As usually happens when I travel to stores in other areas, the lady checking me out, asked if I was on the mailing list and the usual conversation ensued. "No, I don't live here."
"Really. Where are you from?"
"Well, what brought you here?"
"My husband's work...we're here for the weekend."
"Well, we are glad you stopped by."
"Thank you. You have a great store. I'm glad I snuck away." (The big stack of things she's ringing up should be an indicator of how great I think her store is.) :)
"I bet you have great stores in Nashville?"
"No, not really."
"Wow. That's surprising."
"It's crazy. There are no stores in Nashville, except the chains. The closest real scrapbook store is about an hour away."

I have this recurring dream that someday I'm going to have this conversation with someone somewhere and that person is going to say something like "I've been looking for the perfect place to open our next location...maybe Nashville would be perfect. What do you know about the West Side?" I know, it's a pipe dream...but I hold onto it nonetheless. :)

Anyway, I acquired a nice sack of scrapbooking goodness, including the We R Memory Keepers Corner Chomper that Kristina Werner is so fond of. It's in one of those crazy, impossible-to-open I haven't gotten to use it yet...I need to find a big sturdy knife or pair of scissors.

So now you know, if you're in San Antonio, Scrapbook 911 is the place to go.