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Enjoy the Process

I often lament that I am a very slllooowwwww scrapbooker.  Once in a while I can crank out a page fairly quickly.  More regularly; however, it takes me what seems just short of forever to complete a page. 

Reasons for my pokiness:

  1. I am picky.
  2. I am a perfectionist.
  3. I am picky.
  4. I am a perfectionist.

Hmmmm….. sensing a theme here.

For me, choosing just the right combination of papers, embellishments and photos is essential.  I audition lots of paper with my photos.  I have a NEED to choose the perfect embellishments to help tell my story.  If I can’t find the right embellies, I create them.  Creating my embellishmemts is what takes so long. 

See these little nail polish bottles?  I made them – thought up the idea, figured out how to execute my vision, and carried it out.  Why on earth would I do that?  Because I felt the polish bottles were central to the theme of the page.  They helped tell my story.

I used to “complain”  how slow I was to my friend Petunia.  Petunia, if you’ll remember, is the friend who introduced me to scrapping.  Petunia’s reply was always the same, “Enjoy the process.”  I would roll my eyes and think, “enjoy THIS.”  Pretty soon, every time I would start getting cranky about the time I was spending on a page, I would hear Petunia in my head saying “Enjoy the process.” 

I have now arrived at a place where I truly do enjoy the process.  Each page is it’s own work of art created especially by me.  It has been created with much thoughtfulness and intention.  It tells the story I want it to tell.  It makes me happy.  It makes me smile.  I try to imagine what would have happened if Michaelangelo did not enjoy his process and just slapped some paint on the ceiling of the church.  We would not have the beautiful Sistine Chapel.  Please don’t think I am comparing my work in any way, shape or form to Michaelangelo.  What I AM saying, is that he had a vision.  I have a vision.  He worked with purpose and intention.  I work with purpose and intention.  His work was pleasing to his eye.  My work is pleasing to my eye.  Well, you get the picture.

I have employed the “enjoy the process” mantra to many other areas of my life.  When I get grumpy about cleaning, yard work, laundry, etc., I try to take a breath, calm down and enjoy the process.  I think about how nice it will be when the chore is done.  When I am finished, I take a moment to stand back and admire my work.  I look at the mowed yard and think how neat and tidy and “Better Homes and Gardeny” it looks.  I admire my sparkling bathroom and think about how it looks like a hotel bathroom.  I look at the beautiful meal I have put on the table and think about my family enjoying it. 

When you take a moment to enjoy the process and work with intention and purpose, your mundane tasks seem to pass by a little quicker.  Believe it or not, the song from Disney’s Snow White goes through my head a lot also “Whistle while you work.”  Oh sure, the process can still get me down.  I wouldn’t be human if I thought scrubbing toilets was paradise.  All I am saying is that whether you are scrapping and it’s taking forever to get your page done, or you are sweeping the floor for the hundredth time that day, take a moment to enjoy the process. 

It can change your outlook.

Until next time,

Mama Donna

House vs Home

If you asked me to describe my house, here’s what I would say:

  • Two-story with a full basement
  • 4,500 square feet
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 1 full bath, 2 half-baths, 1 powder room
  • Attached 2.5 stall garage
  • 1.25 acre lot

Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.

If you asked me to describe my home, I would say:

  • Roomy
  • Comfortable
  • Restful
  • Relaxing
  • Quiet
  • Clean
  • Happy
  • Cozy

Notice that all the words I used to describe my home are “feeling” words, not necessarily descriptive in terms of physical characteristics.  I think of my house like an empty cooking pot.  The pot is merely what holds the food of love.  It is just a shell.  It’s what’s inside that is special.

Since the day I got married (over 26 years ago), I have made a concerted effort to make our house a home.  I want to make our house a place my family wants to come to.  A place of safety, comfort, joy and relaxation.  When my husband and children come through the door, I want them to be able to take a deep breath, and to feel as though they have been wrapped in a warm blanket.  On the wall next to the back door, I have these words:

In my younger days, I was an absolute clean/neat freak.  Now I’m just a freak!  For the most part I was a stay-at-home mom and felt I needed to keep the house spotless in order to justify my existence.  For goodness sake, if I was home all day the house had better be neat as a pin!  After all, what else did I have to do?  I was afraid of being judged as lazy, unmotivated and a bad mom/wife.  These days, I have relaxed my standards.  Don’t get me wrong, the house is still mostly clean and tidy, but I am not knocking myself out daily to keep it pristine.  Know why?  (Believe it or not, it’s not because I’m old and tired!)  The reason is that a pristine home does not exude comfort and restfulness.  To me, it says “sit on the edge of the sofa and don’t touch anything.”  Think about it.  When you enter a formal-looking, not-a-thing-out-of-place-type space, your first thought is probably not to flop down on the Edwardian sofa and plop your feet on the Queen Anne coffee table.  If you are anything like me, you are a bit uneasy the whole time you are interacting in that space because you’re terrified of messing something up.

The goal now, is to help my family and my guests to feel welcome, relaxed and comfortable.  C’mon in, plop on the sofa, cover up with a fuzzy blanket, put your feet on the coffee table.  I will ask you to remove your shoes at the door, but not because we have delicate floors, I just don’t feel like sweeping or vacuuming up the shoe goobies.  Besides that, you’re more relaxed in your stocking feet or bare feet.  When I give you a beverage, I’ll also give you a coaster.  Not because I have terribly expensive furniture, but the furniture I have I’d like to keep looking presentable.  Other than that, I’m good.  Wanna eat on the sofa?  Go ahead.  Drop crumbs on the floor?  No big deal (the dog will Hoover them up).  Wanna stretch out on the sofa for a nap?  Be my guest.  Hungry?  Raid the fridge.

Think about what says “restful” to you.  Does your house reflect that?  Do you look forward to going into your house at the end of a busy day or does the thought of it stress you out?  The single most stressful thing in my house, for me, is visual clutter.  I don’t have a lot of knick knacks, pictures or miscellaneous decorative “stuff.” 

Yes, I have clutter.  Right this second there are magazines on the sofa, newspapers on the floor, a couple dvd’s on the end table and, of course the endless pile of mail on the counter. 

BUT, this bit of clutter will only take a couple minutes of my time to get rid of and put away.  What I don’t like is looking at (and having to dust) a hundred little figurines or pictures.  To me, visual clutter equals chaos.  It is not relaxing, it is not restful and it is just something else I need to maintain.  Why would I want to spend hours dusting stuff or having to move stuff out of the way so I can set something on the table?  Personally, I can’t deal with it.  I used to have tons of little bric-a-brac, but over the years I have applied this litmus test:  Is it something I truly LOVE or just something I thought was cute?  Does it hold special meaning to me or is it taking up space?  Does maintaining it bring more stress than joy?  Just because it was a gift from someone I love, maybe it is not my taste.  Throwing it away, donating it or upcycling it does not mean I don’t love the person who gave it to me or appreciate the thought, it just means it’s not for me. 

 I challenge you to look at your house and its contents.  Decide what items enhance your feeling of “home,” keep those and get rid of the rest.  It is sooooo freeing.

Until next time, my feet on the coffee table,

Mama Donna

Food of Love

I love Emeril Lagasse.

BAM!

When he had his show(s) on The Food Network, I caught them whenever I could.  He made cooking seem do-able.  Sometimes he used some kind of funky ingredients (translation:  stuff I can’t find in Fargo, North Dakota), but most often he made honest, homey, stick-to-your ribs types of dishes.  His wealth of cooking knowledge, techniques, his humor and his unabashed passion for cooking really spoke to me. 

When Emeril was making a recipe that took some time, was a little more complicated or involved, he would admonish the audience, “It’s a food of love thing…..”  In other words, “Be patient, it’s worth it.”  Over and over, he talked about “food of love” and it set my brain to thinkin’.

I have often said, “You know I like you if I cook for you.”  I don’t cook for people I don’t like.  Harsh?  Maybe, but for me, cooking has always been a food of love thing.  I just hadn’t realized it until Emeril talked about it.  The way I show people I love them is to feed them; to nourish their bodies and their souls.  A little piece of my heart goes into each and every meal I make.  Call me crazy (and a lot of people do), but when I am cooking I am thinking about the people who will consume my food.  I think, “I hope they like this.”  “I hope this turns out good.”  I infuse my love for them into every ingredient and preparation step.

Over the years I have learned that there are different flavors of love.  WHAT?  Ok, now you know for sure I’m nuts.  Here’s the thing.  My mom, sister and I all have the EXACT same pancake recipe.  The crazy part?  Mine don’t taste as good as mom’s, and my sister doesn’t think hers taste as good either.  This has caused many sleepless nights (ok, maybe not, but definitely a lot of frustration) and accusations of mom hiding some secret, magical ingredient.  After discussing it at length with mom and sissy, all we can figure out is that mom’s flavor of love tastes different than ours.  Yup, you read that right – the love tastes different.  Interesting concept, no?

I’d like to urge you to give the food of love concept a try if you don’t already.  Instead of viewing cooking as a chore, try viewing it as a chance to show the people who mean the most to you that you love them.  Doesn’t have to be fancy.  Doesn’t have to be complicated.  Just has to come from your heart.

Until next time, cooking with love,

Mama Donna

Meet Byron

This is Byron.

Byron is our approximately 8-year-old, 16-pound British Shorthair.

He thinks he is a Russian spy.

Here he is disguised as a kitchen sink.

Here as a cardboard box.

Notice how well he has mastered the art of blending into his surroundings.

“If you stand in front of the hatch, become the hatch.” (name that movie)

What he is:

  • A cat.
  • A BIG cat.
  • Introspective.
  • Sleepy.
  • Has a thing for strange men (I won’t go into detail here).
  • Soft.
  • Hungry.
  • A total clutz.

What he is not:

  • Dainty.
  • Graceful.
  • Poetry in motion.
  • A snuggler.
  • Unobtrusive.
  • Talkative (except at 6:00 a.m. when he’s yelling in my ear for breakfast and interrupting my beauty sleep).

I am totally, helplessly, 100% in love with this boy.  When I give him lovins, he tilts his head backward so we can rub noses and looks at me with that “I adore you (but you better not tell any of the guys)” face.  He purrs so loud he squeaks.  I wonder if they make cat food in a higher octane to help with that hitch in his motor?

I’m so glad we met.  Sorry to post just a photo of a plain, unadorned pizza box.  I could have sworn Byron was in this photo as well…..

Until next time.

Mama Donna

A Week of Change

This week has been one of change for me, physical and emotional. 

Computer Guy, Buster (my oldest) and I moved Dolly (my youngest) back into the dorm for her Sophomore year. 

Here’s Dolly with all her worldly possessions.

Buster and Computer Guy at the beginning of a six-flights-of-stairs journey with a new futon.  Lift with your knees guys!

Taking a breather after all the hauling.  That’s Nearly-Son-In-Law sitting on the fridge.  He managed to arrive approximately 30 seconds after the last load had been carried up all six flights of stairs.  Have these colleges never heard of a miraculous invention called an elevator???

Tuesday morning Computer Guy left for out-of-town meetings until Thursday evening.  Thankfully we had no wild weather and basement flooding to contend with this time he was gone.

Buster worked a boatload of hours this week.  Since he begins his shift at 4:00 a.m., by the time he gets home he is ready for a nap.

Needless to say, I had a lot of alone time this week.  Ok, I still had my fur boys for company, but not a lot of human interaction.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my alone time.  I love the peace, the quiet, the solitude.  I would rather be home than anywhere else on the planet.  I had a lot of time to be introspective, contemplative, napulative.  Is that a word?  It is now – Napulative  (nap-yoo-lah-tiv):   v. 1. The state of being very sleepy and prone to nap at the drop of a hat.

I thought a lot about my blog.  After tons of contemplation and napulation (I think better when I sleep) – I decided that this, my tiny little corner of the internet universe, will be not only about scrapping as suggested in the title, but will also be about whatever else happens to pop into my feeble little brain.  Yes, we will scrap.  But we will also get to know each other, maybe cook, maybe sing, maybe craft, who knows?  The point is, I am more than one-dimensional, more than just a scrapper.  I think if you get to know how my brain works (yes a very scary thought – please run and hide if you are so inclined), you will understand how my scrapping style evolved into what it is today and how it will continue to evolve.

Thanks for hanging out with me. 

Until next time,

Mama Donna

Inspiration is Everywhere

Where does one find new ideas and inspiration to create scrapbook pages?  The answer is:  EVERYWHERE! 

As you begin this amazing creative journey, the process of “figuring it out” and inspiration for layouts can be a bit elusive.  I am here to help you ignite that creative spark and provide you with some resources.

A very good friend, I’ll call her Petunia, introduced me to this wonderful world.  She had been scrapping for years, all self-taught.  I picked her brain.  Petunia had some great ideas for organization, supplies and tools.  I marveled at her finished scrapbooks.  I knew that yes, this was the passion for me.

When I was at home, alone; however, I found a certain lack of inspiration and layout ideas.  I didn’t want all my pages to look the same.  I wanted to learn the basics, but also wanted to be “up” on the latest tools, trends and products.  On one of my seemingly daily treks to the local supermarket, I came across two different scrapbook publications while standing in the checkout line.  I decided to pick up a copy of each one, and boy am I glad I did.  One of the magazines is called Creating Keepsakes.  The other is called Scrapbooks, Etc. 

I brought the magazines home, sat down with a cup of coffee (coffee and scrapbooking – two of my favoritest things ever!) and paged through them.  They were filled with great photos, how-to articles, page “recipes” and new product information.  I am a hugely visual person.  I create visions of my projects in my head and attempt to execute them with paper, fabric, yarn, etc.  What I loved about these publications is they often provided page sketches, black and white line drawings of page layouts, but then they show you how they can look when finished with different papers and embellishments.  I immediately checked out their websites and subscribed to both magazines.  You can check them out at:

http://www.creatingkeepsakes.com

http://www.scrapbooksetc.com

Both sites have tons of information, organizational tips, photographs, page layouts and blogs.  I am not affiliated with either of these companies, I just like them.

Around the time I began scrapbooking, Petunia decided to become a Close to My Heart consultant.  She introduced me to some wonderful idea books they carry.  In these books there are recipes for pages.  You can decide you want three photos on a page, and the book will direct you to different layouts containing three photos and show you how to put the page together.  Only one photo for this layout?  No problem.  The books direct you to all the layout ideas containing one photo.  The books also contain lots of neat ideas for techniques and embellishment options. 

http://www.ctmh.com

Again, no affiliation, just great products.

When the creative juices began to flow, I began to find inspiration everywhere.  I had familiarized myself with the myriad of products out there and had learned what they were for.  I had spent time browsing in my local stores and online.  I began to be able to look at a sheet of paper and think, “Hey I have the perfect photo for that!  Wouldn’t it be cute if I….”  Once in a while I would find a piece of paper for which I had no appropriate photos but would think, “I’m going to take a photo of _____ and create a page to go with this paper.”  I would find an old board game in the thrift store and think, “These Scrabble tiles would make a great title on a page.”  I started to think outside the box.  I have always been a saver of ticket stubs, programs, park maps, etc.  Now I had a medium in which to display them.  If your kids dressed like Harry Potter characters last halloween, include the movie stubs from the HP movie you saw with them that fall.  That trip to Sea World you took?  Use the park map as a background for a layout or cut some of the graphics out and use them as accents on your page.  

Inspiration is everywhere.  You just need to open your mind and see things in a new way.  Remember that something doesn’t have to be labeled “scrapbook” to include it in one.  You are telling YOUR story, preserving YOUR memories.  There is no right or wrong. 

Until next time,

Mama Donna

Building Your Paper Stash

Scrapbookers and paper crafters lovingly refer to their unused paper supply as their “stash.”  It can be big:

It can be small:

The point is, at some time you will have accumulated a “stash.”

How does a person decide how much paper to purchase?  Of course, the answer is, “It depends.”  I’m going to share how I built my stash and hopefully give you some useful insight on how to build yours.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I typically shop with a project in mind.  Truth be told, I usually have SEVERAL projects in mind.  I’ll try and explain.

My daughter was a cheerleader for four years.  Cheer paper and embellishments are not an easy thing to find in my area.  Whenever I would run across cheer-themed paper or embellishments (no matter if I was shopping for another project), I would pick them up in order to build my stash of that type of paper.  This way, when I am ready to scrap those photos, I have my supplies ready to go.  How many of each sheet did I buy?  I do a lot of two-page layouts because I am a photo junkie.  So, when I made my purchase, I usually bought two sheets of the same paper.  My thinking is that I can do a two-page layout with the same background paper, I can do a two-page layout with one printed paper and one piece of cardstock as the background and then use the second piece of printed paper in small blocks on the cardstock page, I have FOUR years of cheer albums to finish and using the same paper in two different albums is no big deal to me.  As far as embellishments go, I almost always buy just one package.  For some weird reason, I don’t like to repeat embellishments, even when they’re in different albums.  Repeating offends my senses, bugs the heck out of me, drives me crazy.   

I have a pretty good memory for knowing what paper and embellishments are in my stash, but once in a while I wind up buying the same thing twice.  It always makes me laugh, because I liked it so well I had to have it two times!  In this case, I won’t waste them by throwing them out or anything that drastic.  I’ll go ahead and use them even if it offends my senses, because wasting things offends my senses even more!

Another way to build your paper stash is to purchase paper pads or paper packs.  The pads and packs are themed and are a great way to quickly build your stash for a particular project.  DCWV (Die Cuts With a View) puts out some great paper pads http://www.dcwv.com.  I have also found a great company from which to buy paper packs.  It is called Close To My Heart http://www.ctmh.com.  DCWV can be found in stores, while CTMH has to be ordered through a consultant or on the CTMH website.  I have no affiliation with either of these companies, I just like them.

A great way to build your cardstock stash is to purchase variety packs.  You will find they come in sort of “themed” packs – bright colors, pastels, earth tones, black and white.  You can also purchase single sheets of cardstock in a rainbow of colors to coordinate with your printed papers.  Cardstock usually comes manufactured one of two ways – each sheet is the same color all the way through, or each sheet has a white core.  There are some papers out there that have one color on the top and bottom with the core of the sheet being a coordinating color (think two shades of green – dark green on the outside, light green on the inside).  Cool huh???  Cardstock also comes in textures.  It can be smooth, textured like canvas, embossed with different patterns, glittered, flocked, etc.  My “go to” cardstock is smooth with the same color all the way through.  I like the smooth because I also do a lot of stamping and I think the images come out clearer and crisper using a smooth versus textured paper.  The choice of cardstock type is totally up to you.  Play with some of each and see what you like best.  Remember, this is YOUR scrapbook, YOUR art, and YOUR choice.  There is NO right or wrong.

Now, go forth.  Build your stash.  Build it a little at a time or go all out.  Watch the sales.

Until next time,

Mama Donna

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