Friday, December 21, 2007

Writing prompts

In the midst of all of the chaos of Christmas, a house fire, and finishing up work projects so we can dissapear over the holidays, I had an amazing visit from a friend I hadn't seen in five years and his inspiring girlfriend.

Kieron and Elspeth arrived at our house the day after our fire. We had offered them a place to stay as they travelled Canada, in between a year in Sierra Leone and their return to Australia, but as we were temporarily hotel bound, they had to be as well.

That didn't phase them. They booked a room and we began planning what they would need to see and do while in Lake Louise.

Hearing their stories and witnessing how they embraced Canadian culture and yearned to experience everything they could, I began to feel inspired to make some changes in my own life.

I couldn't live in a mud hut for a year as they just had, nor could I give up my job and home and travel as extensively as they do, but with the new year coming, I will make a promise to myself, not a resolution, but rather a guarantee, that I will be more. I will do more, experience more, cherish more, love more, and create more. I will not save my days off in case we go away, I will go away and use every last minute of my holidays. I will not lament a year gone by and wonder what has happened, nor will I forsake the pleasures of every day life. I will be brave and take risks. I will jump, I will fall, I will let go of boundaries.

Inspired by my guests, I have taken a small step towards rekindling my love of writing. I found a great website which posts weekly writing prompts which I will use as a muse to rouse the oft-ignored writer inside of me.

I took a few moments to write my first response to one of The Writer's Digest's prompts earlier. The prompts range from silly to thought-provoking but seem a good way to stimulate both mind and creativity.

Here's one challenge that I took:

Write a 26-word story where every word begins with a different letter of the alphabet.

and my first crack at it:

A brown yearling cow danced effortlessly to Granny Higgins xylophone in Jackson, Kentucky last Wednesday. No one posed questions, rowdy seniors ‘udderly’ vex zoo fresh milk.

Silly, but it got a different part of my brain working, which was refreshing.

I don't know if this was one of Oprah's 'a-ha' moments, but it reinforced something I all ready knew, but am constantly ignoring. Life should not be taken forgranted. Your dreams are meant to be chased and your talents should not be wasted.

I've always loved Erma Bombeck's quote:

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."

From now on, that will be my mantra.

For all of you, I wish you an inspiring new year filled with more.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Preparing for a new year

Well, just as we sent off our Christmas letters complaining about our uneventful year, we've had some late breaking news. I'd like to send an addendum out to all who received the letter and add our latest excitement to the list for 2007.

On Sunday, after having an excellent potluck with friends from the neighborhood the night before, I got right to work cleaning up the house and washing dishes so I could return everyone's pots and pans.

10:30 rolled around and I was so happy to find myself all tidied up and with almost an entire day to wrap presents, bake Christmas goodies, read, scrapbook, or enjoy a movie.

I headed out with the first of the pots to our neighbours across the way. Since I had the whole day to do all the nothing I wanted, I happily accepted the offer for a cup of tea with our new neighbours.

Less than an hour later, as I was saying my good byes, I saw my husband drive up and walked across the road to meet him. He hadn't seen me, but I was surprised to hear his panicked voice calling my name just moments after... and suddenly, there was something else, a shrill sound. The smoke detector.

I yelled for Brad and saw him on his cell phone explaining to dispatch where we lived and panicked as I saw black smoke pouring out our front door. A horrible feeling overcame me as Brad asked, "what were you cooking?" (because apparently I've burned down houses before with my meals) but I was filled with dread as I wondered, "could I have left something on?"

A moment of doubt as I raced through the possibilities in my mind and then I knew I hadn't left anything on, it shouldn't be coming from the kitchen. The tree, I thought. You always hear of Christmas trees igniting at this time of year. The wood burning stove. Maybe it lit up again and the door was open. The dryer downstairs. I had put in a load of laundry before I left.

As the smoke poured out the front and back doors, things began to clear a little in the house and Brad saw that the fire was coming from downstairs. Neighbours began to arrive and soon, Brad decided to go into the house with a fire extinguisher. He'd seen the flames and knew he could get to them before the fire department arrived. He went in with a neighbour right behind him. A moment later they were back outside and confirmed it was near the furnace, downstairs.

The fire trucks pulled up next and four volunteers jumped out ready to help. They knocked down the rest of the fire and shovelled up the remains of our reject Christmas ornaments and one old ski pole and put fans in the house right away. As the smoke cleared, we could see that the fire had been small, but the smoke damage was extensive. The entire house and all of its contents were covered in a layer of soot.

The next days were filled with phone calls, arrangements, laundry, and shock. Unfortunately, we'll be out of our house for awhile, but so many of our friends and neighbours have volunteered their homes, their washing machines, and their well wishes, that we have been overwhelmed with the support.

Today, just a few short days later, the cleaners have taken most of our belongings to see what's cleanable and what can't be salvaged, the furnace and hot water tank have been replaced and the ducts cleaned, and the painters are on stand by, ready to move in as soon as the walls are clean. Bailey is slightly clingy and doesn't like confined spaces, but the newfound cuddliness is welcome. Brad and I are fine and are both relieved that the fire wasn't bigger.

Our excitement may have come too late for our Christmas letter, but it arrived just in time for the new year. We will be starting out 2008 with an immaculately clean house, a fresh coat of paint, cupboards restocked with goods, freshly laundered clothes, bedding, and furniture, and a new awareness of our neighbours, family, and friends' kindness.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Picture Out takes

Well, it's that time of year again. I'm late with my Christmas Cards.

I'm not usually, but this year seemed to be busier or something. I've even had the cards made for at least a month (can you believe it?) I was waiting on the pic and letter.... trying to remember what we did in the past 12 months....

So, I sat down today and finally wrote down our year in review; the letter has been written. The picture is picked and the envelopes are addressed. Just gotta buy stamps and send em out tomorrow.

We took the pictures tonight and they turned out pretty good. To be honest, they're quite hilarious, in my opinion. Have a look at a few of the options:

Look at the camera, Bailey!

The fenced in with the leg pose:

And the winner is....

Hope you're enjoying the season.

Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Exciting news!!

Okay, so I've got some great news!!

I've just been chosen to be on the Design Team for Concealed Beauty, that cool website I told you about earlier with the great challenges!

I'm super excited. The term starts in January and lasts 6 months.

You must go check out the site for yourself. You'll love the great December kits and the scrapbookers in the forum are excellent. The store and gallery are full of goodies.

Check it out for yourself at

Maybe I'll see you there!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!!!

Sundays may be dull to some, but I love them. It seems like there's always a good homey feel to Sundays. We propped up our tree and are just waiting for the branches to loosen out so we can decorate. I got some scrappin' in, some Sequence (a board game), some cross country skiing, and now I am up here with some updates while hubby addresses our Christmas card envelopes.... life is good.

Here are two additions to my wedding album. I used a lot of the products I won on Leica Forrest's awesome blog (thanks!).


and a seperate look at the pages...

And a close up of some of the bling...

Flowers, chipboard buttons, ribbon, sewing, gems, and glitter rub ons.... I'm like a kid in a candy store.

Hopefully, I'll have pics of the tree for tomorrow.

Christmas is such a fun time!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland...

Wow! What a beautiful day!!

I just walked the dog and it's like breaking path in a fluffy blanket of white. Absolutely perfect. Are you jealous? Check out a few shots of our neighborhood:

Glad I'm not driving anywhere today!

Can't wait to go skiing, though!!

This just makes the holiday season more festive. Nothing beats fresh snow!

Hope you're all keeping warm and enjoying the weather, as well.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


If any of you have found yourself in a slump or need a kick in the pants to try something new, try taking a challenge.

You can find them on most online forums, in books and magazines, scrapbooking websites, or make your own!

I recently took a scrapbooking challenge from the Concealed Beauty Forum (a great new scrapbooking website) that encouraged participants to scrapbook their name.

What a great idea!

Here's what I came up with:

Somebody please stop me from man-handling my photos so they don't have all those little fingerprints on them :)

It was fun and it made me put aside the other photos I'd been working on and change my perspective.

Actually, I had a few different ideas on this topic, so I may do another layout about my name!! (How indulgent...)

Check out Concealed Beauty to try the same challenge.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Scrapbooking 'event' photos

It's sooo beautiful out here!

When it dips below -30 C, it is just not for me. I guess I live in the wrong place, but usually, it's like today: warm and snowy. The white stuff is falling now, by the bucket load, so hopefully, that means it's warming up and I can peel off all the extra layers and get some tobogganning, skiing, and snow shoeing in this weekend.

Luckily, the snowy night gives me ample reason to stay inside and get some scrapbooking done!

Here are a few layouts I've finished lately.

My best friend, Sam and my hubby, Brad.

A look at the journaling tag I tucked behind the photo.

A silly layout about Brad and I. Sometimes I wonder why we get invited to weddings.... we always seem to bring 'the canoe' :)

These pictures were all taken at a friend's wedding. It seems that there are a lot of them lately. I never really know how to scrapbook the random pictures that come from events like this. It's a chance to see so many people that you haven't seen in awhile, so you end up with tons of people shots.

I usually like to make the layouts about the people in the photos rather than the events, otherwise, I have ten pages of people sitting at a table, with some journaling about the wedding. I'm a writer, and I still think that it's a stretch to have that much journaling about someone else's wedding...

Try not to forget entirely the reason that brought you all together....I either note the event on the layout somewhere or include them chronologically in an album interspersed between the 'traditional' wedding layouts.

This layout includes a shot of the bride and groom and a few extra 'table shots' which I didn't want to feature by themselves.

Just a closer look at the individual pages.