Easy Scrapbook Embellishments Using Paper Punches

I love working on our scrapbooks and my family loves to look at them. In fact, my 16 year-old son has been after me to “get back to work” since I am behind a few years on our family albums and even further behind on the albums I made for the kids.Enjoying Scrapbooks

Anyway, my favorite tools for making easy scrapbook embellishments are the paper punches from Creative Memories.

Paper Punches

I’m not a eyelet, brad, complex paper-crafty kinda girl. I use the paper-punches to make embellishments for pages out of coordinating paper and sometimes even punch photos that I am not using in a particular layout. Like, sky & sand at the beach, flowers in a forest, green grass from a meadow. I think they make terrific enhancements to the page and they are so easy (and much less expensive than using lots of  stickers.)

For other resources on Easy Scrapbook Embellishments, I recommend looking up the books by Cathy Zielske, whose totally apropos tagline is “Taking the crap out of Scrapbooking since 2001.”  I’m also going to do a little searching to find some ideas for using the paper punches to create unique page borders. I attended a terrific workshop years ago and ended up with some really nicely decorated journal boxes and page borders that I would love to re-learn how to do.

I understand that there are lots of people who like to make each page of a scrapbook a time and labor-intensive work of art, but for me the main event is the photos and the journaling. My goal in keeping scrapbooks is to preserve memories. In this fast-paced digitally focused world, sometimes it’s really nice to settle down with a scrapbook in your lap and page through the past. Looking at photos, reading stories, taking stock of where we’ve been and where we are going. Give it a try today, spend some time looking at family photos, I guarantee it will feel like a mini-vacation.

So, what are your favorite easy scrapbook embellishments?

A Flood of Fear – some ways out

It’s startling how quickly a small thing can bring back the full-on physical and emotional response of a trauma.

Main Street NewtownYesterday brought a scare to our town when a “soft-lockdown” was instituted in the schools after a threatening call to an elementary school in town. Everyone is safe. No one was injured. All is well. But my hands still shake as I type this and all I day I have been remembering the events of the morning of December 14th. Please continue to pray for the families in Newtown.

The thing that keeps striking me is that my family and I are at least a few circles removed from “ground zero” of that event. We are not anywhere near as directly impacted as so many around us. Yet, the fear is real and palpable, even for us.

Fear is more than a simply a mental state. If effects both the physiology of the body and the chemical balance of the brain as well. When people are afraid it generates stress. Extreme stress can manifest itself physically in a number of ways.

read more: http://www.wingchuncenter.com/Articles/art01.htm

It’s as if the whole town is in the midst of PTSD.  I see the signs all around me.

The first recommendation for the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder is psychotherapy, “talk therapy.” Part of the reason that this kind of therapy is beneficial is that it can educate on the effects  of trauma, it can also help us to learn to relax and find healthier ways to handle the stress of fear and anger.

Another very handy tool to remove the charge from fear is the releasing fixed attention exercise from a book called ReSurfacing by Harry Palmer. Releasing fixed attention can help you free up the stuck thought patterns around a fearful or traumatic event. It works the way we already operate… talk about the trauma, talk about something else, talk about it some more, talk about something else, and so on. But the exercise does it in a more efficient and deliberate manner.

I know ours is not the only trauma in the world today, lately we seem to be surrounded by it. I feel it’s more important than ever to reach for a future filled with kindness, compassion and peace and we all know it’s the Man (or Woman) in the Mirror who can begin to make that happen.


Newtown Action Alliance – Take Action Now on Gun Control

I’m pulling this directly from the Facebook Post of the Newtown Action Alliance. One of the things I find hardest to do when there are political challenges and changes I would like to see made is knowing exactly WHAT to do and WHEN and HOW to do it. This post, this link and these instructions spell it all out.

A message from David Wheeler, father of Ben Wheeler, in Washington this week with other families from Newtown:

Please help us move forward.

Please help Francine and I and other families in the work we will be doing this coming week in our nation’s capitol.

Using the link below you can download an information sheet and templates for letters, emails and phone calls to your representatives.

Please read these, beginning with the instructions. If you do not wish to help us, then simply don’t, and I sincerely ask that you please not share your ideological rebuttals here; save that for another conversation.

Because it is so very important that this communication to our elected representatives not end with you, I ask that you feel free to share this post and link as you see fit – we need you to connect with your friends and family to help us make a difference.

In the folder, I’ve also included Ben’s last school photo, taken in the early Spring of 2012. Feel free to include it in any communications you wish, should you so choose.

Link https://www.dropbox.com/s/su01axcidmf96gu/InstructionsAndTemplates.zip

Thank you again for your support — we are so very grateful.

We must never let him go.

With love and thanks.

Here’s What You Can Do:

  1. Download the Zip File, Unzip it
  2. Edit the letter or phone script as needed
    1. If you need to know who your Senators are, go to: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm and type in your State.
    2. If you need to know who your Representatives are, go to:http://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep?ZIP=06482&Submit=FIND+YOUR+REP+BY+ZIP and type in your Zip Code.
  3. Take Action, NOW is the time to stop the Gun Violence in our Nation.

Key States to Engage:

New Mexico
West Virginia
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota
South Carolina

Here are the Addresses for the Senators and Representatives in Connecticut. Let’s make this as easy as possible for people, if you have the addresses for your Representative handy, paste them in the comments below.

The Honorable Christopher Murphy
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Richard Blumenthal
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable James Himes
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Elizabeth Esty
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

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Spring Pruning

Spring PruningIt was sunny, but cool and windy this past weekend. But the pruning bug had gotten me and I attacked a Sage, 2 Lavender, a Lemon Balm and a Hydrangea on Saturday.

I tried to use a manual hedge clipper for everything, but the Sage and Lavender were too woody. I have not given either of them a good clip in a long time. I had to use a hand clipper for those. But I was able to use the hedge clipper on the Lemon Balm. It all feels much brighter and more open. Ah, Spring is on the Way!

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The patch of green in the middle of the picture are my chives making their annual appearance. The first bit of green on a hillside of fuzzy brown.

It didn’t occur to me until afterward to check if this was actually a good time of year to prune these plants. I found this on the About.com site and breathed a little more freely:

When is the Best Time to Prune Woody Herbs 

Pruning, other than the pinching down you do when you harvest your herbs, is best done in the early spring, once new growth starts at the base of the plant. A second pruning can be done after flowering. Don’t prune late in the season. You don’t want to encourage new growth when the plant is trying to go into winter dormancy.  http://gardening.about.com/od/herbsspecificplants1/qt/Pruning_Herbs.htm

Being that I did pass the Master Gardener Course, I ought to know this.

manual hedge clippers


But when I saw this little blurb in the online Farmer’s Almanac:

5th-6th Excellent Time To Kill Weeds, Briars, Poison Ivy, And Other Plant Pests.

and I didn’t have any Plant Pests to get rid of, I thought Pruning was the next best thing and jumped right to it!

Kitchen Kabbalah : Chart of Conversions

This cool chart shows liquid conversions for use in the kitchen. When I first saw it, the shape reminded me of the Kabbalah, Tree of Life.

The Common Cook

The Common Cook’s How-Many Guide to Kitchen Conversions infographic by ShannonLattin.


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Yoga Breathing Awareness and the Space Between

Yoga is an amazing practice. It impacts you both physically and emotionally.

I remember the first time I cried in a yoga class (have you ever?). It was during savasana when Nancy said something like “be aware not only of the breath coming in and the breath going out, but also of the space between.” I know, a strange thing to make a person cry… but cry I did.

Sunny Savasana
“Sunny Savasana” by lululemon athletica used under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Recently that moment has come back to me, as I think about things in my life other than breathing.

Things like researching and writing, like taking in information and sending information out, like sleep and waking. And that each of these pairs also has that magical “space between.”

I think we’re sometimes very uncomfortable with that space. It’s an unknown and that can make us feel uneasy, eager to fill the space with something, anything. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that space, that quiet, that place between the in-breath and out-breath, that place of perfect balance.

Pinkish Peony

I have a feeling that getting comfortable with that space between is one key to a more peaceful life.

Approaching God, Trusting Love

Early in March there was a Women’s Retreat at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown. The organizers began planning the retreat in the Fall of 2012. There would be speakers giving witness talks, table leaders to facilitate small group discussions, quiet time of reflection and of course good food. They expected 20-30 attendees (a fairly large group compared to other retreats.)

St. Rose Women's Retreat
St. Rose Women’s Retreat 2013

But after the tragedy on December 14, 2012. Things changed. Not only did the number of women more than double (there were 72 attendees), but also two new speakers stepped up. Mothers of children who were lost in the unspeakable violence on 12/14.

It was an amazing day of sharing, caring and love. To hear each of the speakers share their stories opened my eyes and my heart to the power of God, the power of Love, in all of our lives. After the Moms spoke, one woman said “I have been praying so hard for all of you to find strength and grace in this terrible circumstance. And the fact that you are here, sharing your stories with us shows me that my prayers have been answered.”

Let us all keep praying for an end to violence in the world, for a renewal of a culture of life instead of the culture of death we are currently wallowing in. Let us open our hearts and our minds to those in our community who need the peace of God’s Love. Let’s allow this tragedy to change us all for the better and make this a safer, more loving world for the generations to come. We can do it. God is with us.

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The Importance of the 5th of April

Have you ever had a day or a time that seems to reoccur with significance in your life? Mine is April 5th.

On that day several people who were important influences in my life were born:

Another VIP in my life, our dog Buddy, was born on that day. That’s how he came to be part of our lives….

We had been “puppy-sitting” my sister’s new miniature schnauzer and I fell in love. I begged my dear husband for us to be able to get a schnauzer puppy as well. He was not enthused. But when I told him the April 5th story… about the significant people in my life and the fact that Buddy was born on April 5th as well…


And today, my latest April 5th story. Our son, who has had to be on medicine since he was a toddler, is now, today, April 5th, 2013, med-free.

Do you have a day or time of significance for you? Please share in the comments.

Happy April 5th!

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Running Toilet Runs Well Dry

Did you know that a running toilet can run your well dry? Well, we found out the hard way today when we ran out of water. Unbeknowst to us, all three of the toilets in the house had been running non-stop for who knows how long.

The first question Bill from Tim Conlan Plumbing asked me when he arrived was if any of the toilets in the house were running. Who knew that was the root of our problems?

Anyway, about Bill and Tim Conlan Plumbing – fast, efficient and economical! Once we realized what the problem was, he explained to my husband what needed to be done, shut off the valves to the toilets and then showed me how to re-fill the hot water tank.

Thank you Bill and Tim Conlan Plumbing

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