Monday, April 30, 2012

Scrapbooking Your Kid's Artwork with Crayons

OK, I know I'll never be caught up on my scrapbooking. While I try and resign my Type-A personality to that fact, I still can't help but feel overwhelmed by the amount of pictures I have plans to scrapbook, vs. the time I have to do it in.

The ratio is incredibly lopsided.

But one of my goals was to create a layout each week capturing our life. This week's contribution: a layout for those cute Crayola pictures drawn by your little one (and who doesn't have a million of those!), or a layout as I've done showing your child creating crayon art.

The 'flower' in the corner is made from broken crayons. Here's the detail picture:
Below are the basic supplies and directions, if you'd like to duplicate it. It took me about an hour total. Of course, that's not consecutive time--that's total time the whole week, between Mommy interruptions, writing, and so on. I created the page for my 12x12 book, but you could easily adjust for 8.5x11.

  • 1-- Dark Green Cardstock (12x12) for the background
  • 1--Kelly Green Cardstock (12x12) for the Crayola stripes
  • 1--Goldenrod Yellow Cardstock (12x12)
  • Red Cardstock (use up some scraps!)
  • Red ink to ink edges of journaling strips, if desired
  • 11 broken crayons
  • Chunky glass glitter (optional)
  • Button/Brad or Embellishment for center of Crayon ring
  • 4 photos, or scanned artwork cut to grid pattern
  • Font: I used 'Porky's' font, as it looked the most like the Crayola box. I found the font for free here.
  1. Trim the goldenrod yellow cardstock on a diagonal to almost half. Mine is about 10.5" from corner to corner. Adhere this to the bottom left of your Dark Green cardstock background.
  2. Cut the Kelly Green cardstock on a diagonal 1" wide by about 14.5" long. I turned the paper in my trimmer to cut the 12x12 sheet from corner to corner to get the longer 1" strip. Adhere this strip to the edge of your goldenrod carstock so it forms the border between the goldenrod and the dark green background. Trim off edges, if necessary.
  3. Trim two more skinny strips from the Kelly Green diagonal, again with your paper turned to cut the 12x12 from corner to corner. Mine are about 1/8th inch wide and about 12.5" long. Adhere these two strips so that 1/8th inch of the goldenrod shows between the strips. You're mimicking the green stripes on the box of Crayola crayons (grab your kid's box for reference).
  4. Pick out a group of 3-4 pictures or scanned artwork, and arrange them so that the right sides line up about 1/4" from the right edge of the dark green background. Trim so they make a pleasing pattern.
  5. Cut a large arrow shape from the red cardstock. Position it to point at your favorite picture, and adhere.
  6. Using the Porky's font, type out your title. I used a combination of capital and lower case letters in "BiG", and then used a smaller Porky's font to type my sub-heading "girl crayons". I used the highlight feature in Word to put a white highlight around the letters. Print out your title, and fussy cut around the words.
  7. Using Porky's font in smaller, red letters, type out your journaling. Be sure to hit enter a few times between lines so that you can cut out your journaling and adhere in strips across the goldenrod portion of the page. I like mine off-kilter, and I ink the edges with red ink to give it some dimension on the page.
  8. For the crayon 'flower', find a bunch of broken crayons, roughly the same size. I used some that still had the paper, and some that didn't. Using Zots, stick the crayons in a petal shape, leaving about a 1" circle in the center.
  9. Using dimensional glue, apply glue to the center of your crayon flower. Sprinkle chunky glass glitter onto the glue (I used Silver Glass Glitter from Stampin' Up) and allow a day to dry.
  10. Using a 3-D glue dot, adhere a button, or round embellishment in the center of your glitter circle.
Voila! You've captured your child's crayon art, preserving his/her Happily Ever After memories for years to come.

Feel free to scraplift!

P.S. Want more "Scrappily" Ever After ideas for your scrapbook? Subscribe to my blog via email or RSS feed above for one layout a week to help you get your scrap on! Or share this post on Facebook or Twitter by using the buttons below.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Date Night Challenge: Kickboxing

Fist Fight and Date Night: two phrases that aren't typically synonymous when my husband and I go out. Until now.

If you've read my goals for this year (click here for that post), then you know I'm ditching the normal 'dinner and a movie' date routine with my husband to give us opportunity to inject more Happily into our Ever After.

There's nothing like a good fist fight to take the normal out of a routine.

A year ago, I joined a kickboxing class to help me shed some of the "baby weight" (and as said 'baby' was almost four it was long overdue).
The class was tough. I puked in my mouth a few times.

But over the course of the year, I became adept at roundhouse kicks, jabs, and the like. I was particularly proud of my hook. I could hit the living hell out of the bag with it, and took perverse pleasure in the resounding smack when the bag connected with my pink-gloved fists of fury.

When my husband suggested we go to a night class together for a mini-date, I was all for it. I had an alterior motive.

See, Mike's better at sports than I am. He was the jock in school. I was the bookworm. His dribbling was with a basketball. Mine was after two drinks. But I'd had a full year of kickboxing classes. He'd had none. I was bound to be better for once. He'd get a taste of my hook. In a nice, loving-couple-working-out-together sort of way, of course. {**cue evil laughter**}

Surreptitiously, I watched him as the workout began. Although he's a heavy weights workout guy, he hung with the cardio, dropping to the floor, matching me push-up for push-up. While I struggled through my last few, he looked over at me with a boyish grin.

Grinning? There's no grinning in kickboxing!

I bared my teeth, focusing on the mats beneath my shaking arms where drips of sweat falling from my eyelashes and nose formed a blot-like Rorschach pattern. Focus pads were next. I couldn't wait.

Toweling off, Mike indicated I could punch first. Ever the gentleman. The timer dinged for the three-minute round. Oh, I so had him. My pink gloves flew in the jab-jab-cross-cross pattern and I reveled in the staccato "tip-tip-smack-SMACK" beat of my fists on Mike's focus pads.

He wasn't grinning any more.

The buzzer sounded, ending the round, and I switched my gloves for the focus mitts, confident I'd done well. His turn. I widened my stance, nodding my readiness. The buzzer rang. 


The strength of his jab caught me off-guard, smacking the focus pad backward into my mouth. Before I could recover, the other jab was coming at me. Whack! The focus pad drove into my face again. I stumbled out of range of his cross, muttering a curse.

"I'm sorry, honey," Mike panted, dropping his gloves and looking contrite. "You okay? I won't hit as hard next time."

"I just wasn't ready," I growled through punch-numb lips. 

My eyes narrowed. My stance widened. It was on.

His three minute round felt like an eternity, my forearm muscles cramped from gripping the focus pads. He hit hard. My turn. I hit harder. His turn. He hit harder still. On my final round, I was swinging from my heels, determined to keep pace, ramping up my workout to an unprecedented level. Until, blessedly, the last buzzer sounded. Class was over.

Bent at the waist, forearms on knees, we both gasped for breath. Wiping sweat from my eyes, I conceded. "You kept up like a champ."

"Had to," he gasped back, "You're one tough lady."

We grinned at each other like loons.

"That," Mike tapped my shoulder with his boxing glove, "was the best date night. Ever."

And it was. We have another 'kickboxing date' tomorrow.

Goal #3 for my 2012 goals--check for this month! :)


Monday, April 23, 2012

Life Goals for 2012...Better Late than Never

New Year's Resolutions. Bah. Who has the time on Jan. 1? With the kids out of school, and still decompressing from the holiday whirlwind, I barely have the mental fortitude to make a grocery list, let alone list out my life goals for the coming year.

You didn't make any either? Don't worry....

According to a New York Times article, a third of the people that made New Year's Resolutions will break them by February, and by July more than half will have abandoned that hangover-induced list.

I prefer Mid-Year Resolutions. Better known as goals.

Want to join me in putting more Happily in your Ever After? It's simple--follow these 3 steps:

  1. Pick five areas of your life to improve.  More than that, you lose focus. Check out this bit on Oprah's website. I structured my goals around the "Absolute YES list" which has made it easier for me to say NO to all the things that don't relate to my goals.
  2. Use S.M.A.R.T. goals--
    • Specific: Don't just put "Lose Weight", but put "Lose Twenty Pounds", or better yet, "Lose 3 Pounds a Month." Studies show the more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.
    • Measurable: Break your goal down into measurable steps. For example, one of my goals is to achieve PAN status with RWA. As my publisher puts out the royalty reports each quarter, I can track how my promotional events are working for me in my efforts to sell my book. Then, I can adjust (or sob over a glass of wine) accordingly. 
    • Attainable: Pretty obvious, but worth repeating. Make goals that stretch your limits, but are achievable with solid effort.
    • Relevant/Resonate: This is where most goals fall flat. Visualizing that goal should give you a tingle of excitement. Three years ago, my goal was to get a publishing contract. I visualized my book-signing party, where I was swanning around in a designer gown, champagne glass in hand, as I greeted my guests on the front lawn of the Pink House (a historic, reportedly haunted Victorian in my hometown, which you can see here) . Well, I did get that contract and champagne (yay!) but no designer gown and Victorian landmark signing party. Maybe when I hit my five-year goal: appearing on the NYTimes Bestseller's List. Someday I'll have that drink on the Pink House lawn!
    • Time-Bound: Have an end-time for your goal. This helps you avoid goals like "Exercise More Often," as this is a life-style change, not a goal. A fitness goal would be "Get Fit Enough to Run the Disney Marathon by January."
  3.  Post Your Goals for Accountability! Publish them on Facebook, on your fridge, bulletin board, bathroom mirror. Everywhere. Even your blog. ;)

Without further ado, here are my goals...

By the end of 2012, I do solemnly resolve to:

  1. Achieve RWA PAN level through royalty earnings by increasing my online presence (see goal #2), speaking engagements, and marketing efforts.
  2. Establish online brand (Website, Facebook, Pinterest, Blog, GoodReads) and have tools in place (Smart phone, iPad) to ensure weekly updates that further my writing and life's goals.
  3. Inject more fun into life by doing at least one activity with my daughters and/or husband that is different from the normal routine on a weekly (and when larger--monthly) basis.
  4. Scrapbook one page per week that captures our crazy, beautiful, blessed life so my family has a tangible way to reflect on all that makes us perfect and flawed. 
  5. Get an agent or publishing contract for paranormal romance "Despite the Fangs", or my young adult paranormal novel, "Cassandra's Awakening" by submitting to two agents/publishers per week, as well as attending seminars/conferences/groups that will further my publishing goals.  

Subscribe to my blog. Keep me honest to my goals. Post yours below!

Together, we can put the Happily in our Ever After!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tax Refund Irresponsibility!

Sometimes I'm too responsible for my own good. Or at least, my own happiness.

 Every year, I take our tax return refund and use it bills. Usually, it's used to pay down debt (credit card, home equity). Whoopie. I've had sneezes more satisfying than writing that check. Last year, we used it to buy a new air conditioning unit.

The fun never stops in the Newton house.

Being responsible, while financially sound, sucks eggs. Since I'm now all about injecting more Happily into my Ever After, I decided to do something different with our tax refund. Something--less responsible. Gasp!!

DISCLOSURE: OK, before you actuarial types freak out, I realize getting a refund means we don't claim enough dependents. And yes, I know I should invest that money myself, instead of letting Uncle Sam use it for the year. Rolling Stones said it best--Get off my Cloud. You're ruining my mojo. We've had years where we've had to pay and it wasn't fun, so we arrange things to ensure a return every year. Deal with it.

Back to my tiny break from being the Newton Family Fun Vacuum--I title I never sought, but one that came pre-packaged with my Type A personality. 'Cause left to his own devices, my husband would find something waaaay more fun to do with our yearly windfall than pay bills.

Imagine his surprise when this year, I took our entire tax return and blew it on...(*drumroll*) bedroom furniture!

Quit laughing. I could have put a new roof on the house. But I threw off the Mantle of Responsibility! I forged ahead, valiant in my Quest for Happily Ever After. I didn't just buy the bed, but all FIVE matching pieces! Okay, I know they're all in white--but still! (Seriously, stop laughing.)

Even my husband did a fist pump when I told him about how WE used our tax return (that would be the Royal WE, defined as "Me." Mike's been married to me long enough to know where the We stops and the Me begins). Oh, he could've cared about the furniture. He was thrilled because the furniture deal his intrepid wife brokered came with...a new flat screen television. For the bedroom. Because we've never had a television in the bedroom. Ever.

It's not hooked up to cable yet. That's another post for another day.

Today, I heartily advocate Tax Refund Irresponsibility!! Go forth! Be audacious--buy something outlandish and crazy! (Psst--it's Rooms To Go that has the TV with the furniture deal, so go nuts!!).

How are you spending your return money? Can you top this?

Thanks for tuning in as I slave over ways to inject Happily into my Ever After,


Friday, April 13, 2012

Smart Phone…Smart Challenged User

I never jump right in the pool. I prefer to ease a toe in, then a leg, inching my body in until finally submersed. Until recently, that's how I handled new technology--I stayed on the edge of the tech pool, watching as my friends tested out the waters first--waiting to jump in.

My cell phone upgrade stemmed from a running date with my friends as we trained for a half marathon. As I sauntered to the end of the block where they were waiting, my friend asked, "What's all that you're wearing?" 

I told her each gadget strapped to me, trying to withhold a smile of satisfaction. I had:

1) GPS tracker, charged and strapped to my wrist to log distance, pace and runner stats
2) iPod Touch, strapped to my bicep, in case we split up and I needed some tunes
3) cell phone in my yellow fanny pack, strapped around my middle, in case my teen needed to reach me when I was out on my run.
4) water bottle in its carrier that slung over my palm.

"Oh," she said. Then she flicked on her Smart Phone, opening an app called "Run Log". This would track our miles. With an expert swipe of her finger, she turned on "Pandora" for a streaming playlist, and finally, she checked her email, updated her pre-run status on Facebook and sent a text. I think the last two were just overkill. I got the point. It was time to Smarten up my world.

Eight hours later, my husband and I spent our entire date night at the store, walking out triumphant with our two new Driods. figure out what to put on them.
Turns out, you have to have a certain level of Smarts to use the Smart phone.
Fast forward two weeks when I finally had enough. I’d watched all the Droid Dummy videos (designed for the Smart Phone Challenged User), and still couldn’t figure out the most basic use of the phone. I couldn’t dial a phone number.

Oh, sure. Laugh it up. But for the first week I didn’t notice, placing calls only from my ported over contact list. Then, I had to call for pizza...and couldn’t find the damn key pad. I called my husband, and made him call for pizza, citing bad cell reception and kept my tech-struggle to myself.

It was Droid vs.  Dylan. Machine vs. Mom. No smart phone was going to outsmart me! For a week, I watched every Droid for Dummies video they had (they sweetly call them ‘Guided Tours’), but nowhere did it mention how to get the dialer thingy to appear on your screen.

Finally, admitting defeat, I handed my Driod to my 7th grader. Within three minutes, she’d added a dialer app thingy (I swore I looked there!), showed me how to download the cool flashlight app I wanted, and named and tagged all the pictures in my phone.


Now, I'm happy to say I'm in the technology pool. Maybe still hanging on to the edge, but swimming. So....throw me a buoy here, and let me know what apps are a MUST have on a Smart phone? Obviously, I need all the help I can get!

Let me know what apps are your favs, and together we can put some Smart into our Happily Ever After!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Blog Oath (Or Why I Hate Eeyore)

I never watch the news. Ever. My husband jokes that the only way I know there’s a national tragedy is when I see flags at half-mast. My mom calls me her Pollyanna child. You know, after the optimistic little toe-head in the Disney film who starts out most of her sentences with, “You can be glad that….”

I admit it: I need my life filtered.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a downer. We all have people and things that leech the Happily from our Ever After. My blog oath is never to be like Eeyore.

A.A. Milne’s character, and the foil to Pooh’s carefree demeanor, is Eeyore.  Damn donkey makes my lip curl. He’s the fun vacuum of the Hundred Acre Wood, always moping about something, expecting only the worst from life. And he gets what he expects. The rain cloud hangs permanently over his head. I wish Christopher Robin would grab his friend a few Prozac’s from his mother’s medicine cabinet. Oh, please. It’s not like Mrs. Robin’s going to know! The poor kid wanders unsupervised and friendless in the woods all day. I’m surprised Child Services hasn’t been called in.
But I digress.

Here is my Blog Oath to You, my Happily Ever After (HEA) friend:
  • I will strive to provide you with useful, fun content that puts the Happily in My (and Your) Ever After.
  • My posts will always be open to your comments. Because if you can’t comment on a blog, what’s the point??
  • I’ll keep things fairly PG-13. If it can’t be said on late-night TV, it won’t be on my blog.
  • I promise my rose-colored glasses are permanently affixed to my nose. And I will strive to keep my glass at least half-full.
You’ve got enough fun vacuums in your life. My blog oath to you is to help filter the grim grittiness from reality.

Thanks for joining me in my journey to Happily my Ever After!