Friday, October 31, 2014

NaNo Eve 2014

I've decided what "odd or obscure holiday" I am going to celebrate for my 33 challenges -Nano Eve!

I'm hosting the writing groups' NaNoWriMo kick off party. This is my third year having the kick off party. And first decorating. I put up all the posters I've collected over the years and made the wreath and banner. Once the place was set I got into my steampunky-Victorian dress with my new mini top hat and the red ridding hood cap a friend made me. Sadly, changed into comfortable writing clothes a moment ago before I remembered I wanted a picture.

Oh, well. There is a good group. We have food, games (I got to play Once Upon A Time and Avalon), and much fun! There are moments to go before the writing beings so I will leave you with the poem I wrote on NaNo Eve last year:

Twas the night before NaNo, and all through my place
The writers were waiting to start the word race.
Some had plotted and outlined a story with great care,
While others were hoping when writing a story would be there.
The writers were waiting with no time for beds,
While visions novels danced in their heads.
Trying to working through a potential plot gap,
And I was thinking it was almost time for a nap.
But what was I thinking with November minutes away,
An event like this deserves a soiree.
There will be rejoicing and songs on piano,
Wishing you all a very merry NaNo!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday #192 -October 30

I am always surprised by stages I go through writing a Thankful Thursday post. It begins with dread. When I start it feels like a chore, I feel blank. The general thoughts are, "well it was a pretty ordinary week what can I share? What is there to be thankful that I haven't already said?"

Next comes determination. I will post even if it is thankful for air. I will say something. Then comes a review of the week day by day and slowly the joys and blessing fill my page till it is difficult to stop adding but I do because the goal is about seven. And this writing that was focused becomes this new way of thinking that changes my perspective and fills me with joy. It happened today and I expect it will happen next week. I know this is the process; it still surprises me every time.

Here is this week's results. I am thankful for...

1) The students who have become youth leaders on Sundays with children's ministry. They are amazing! I could not do what I do without them.

2) My church family. They bless me so much all the time with friendship, prayer, volunteering, and support to name a few. Specifically this past Sunday was the annual pastor appreciation event. I feel very appreciated! Thank you to everyone for your cards, words, gifts, flowers (I got flowers), and the pumpkin.

3) Days off. I am still getting over being sick a week ago and having a whole day to just rest was what I needed.

4) My co-ML for NaNoWriMo! She's amazing and puts up with me :)

5) Jamie who gladly marathons Doctor Who with me (Justine and Alice I am now up to date)!

6) The realization that I pay for a plane ticket home for Christmas! Thank you to an unexpected gift this week. Now just to arrange the flights.

7) Home cooked meals with others...especially when they love cooking and trying new things! It is the best of so many things meals with people are better, new foods, and no dishes. So much fun.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Tutorial: I'm Thankful Journal

Welcome to a new feature, Tuesday Tutorials! This won't be a weekly feature but it will be regular, at least one a month. And for the very first tutorial I am going to walk you through the process of making this cute 20 page journal.

I designed the journal two Fridays ago for my GEMS group (Gems is my church's girls club) to make. My goal was for them to make a book to record what they were thankful for. I was inspired by a few different mini books I had found on Pinterest and when combined and tweaked this is the result.

Step 1: Gather Supplies
As an independent Stampin Up! demonstrator I used all Stampin Up! products. If you are interested in any of them contact me or you can shop on line with me here. I love the stamp and the pattern paper we used. This is the full supply list.

Stamp Set: I'm Thankful For..
Ink: Blackberry Bliss
Paper: DSP Color Me Autumn, 1 sheet of 81/2 x 11 Blackberry Bliss cardstock, 1 sheet of 81/2 x 11 Crushed Curry cardstock, and 3 sheets of 81/2 x 11 Whisper White cardstock.
Other: Fast Fuse (could be any adhesive or glue), score board, and paper cutter

Step 2: Prepare the Paper
I found it easier to do all the paper cutting and scoring first. You will need four 41/4 x 51/2 cards for the front and back covers. This is the same size as the front of a normal card. I made two Blackberry Bliss and two Crushed Curry card covers.

Next, you will need 5 small cards that are 4 x 51/4. To make these cards cut the whisper white cardstock so that it is 4 x 101/2. Score these in half which is at 51/4 mark.

Take one sheet of 12 x 12 designer series paper (double sided pattern paper). Cut at 4". Score at every inch and fold. Before you begin folding decided which image you want to be showing in the book. I decided on the leaves. The side you want needs to begin with a valley fold.

Step 3: Stamp Image
On each side of the whisper white cards stamp the "I'm Thankful For..." image in the ink of your choice. I used Blackberry Bliss ink for every page. On the front side move the image over an inch or so or it will be covered by the pattern paper binding. The other pages can be stamped centered.

Step 4: Attach the Pages
This I found the hardest step to explain. Maybe a video would be better. You are going to be attaching the five completed pages to the pattern paper on each of the full mountain folds. When you attach the pattern paper to the while sheets only put the adhesive on the right side of the mountain fold and the front page of the white cards. Also, do not attach anything to the the first or the last flap of the pattern paper, These are used on the covers.

It will look like this when you are done:

Step 5: Secure the Binding
Flip over the book. Add adhesive to the five mountain/valley folds.

It will look like this when you are done:

Step 6: Add the Front and Back Covers
Use adhesive to attach the inner cover to patter paper. Repeat on the back cover. It will look like this:


A few of the girls chose to move on to step 7 after this point. Others then covered the Crushed Curry inner cover with adhesive and carefully placed a Blackberry Bliss over top.

Step 7: Decorate
Using any stamps, ribbons, buttons, or other accessory decorated the cover. We ran out of time at our meeting so the girls and I will be decorating the covers next time we meet.

Step 8: Use Your New Journal
Take the time to write on your pages.


Thank you so much for reading my tutorial. It is the first one that I've written. I hope the instructions were clear. If you have any trouble, or my wording doesn't make sense please let me know in the comments. Also if you have suggestions on how to improve this tutorial or future how to's please let me know. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Half Birthday Challenge Review


Challenges need accountability. Without checking on progress, measuring success, and celebrating victories things would not get accomplished. Today is my half birthday, I am 33 and a half today! Which seems like a fitting time to assess the progress of the 33 While 33.

For those who don't know. I like making mini-bucket lists. They are year long challenges that have tasks and hopes for that "birthday year." I set my 33 things I wanted to do while I was 33 back in April. Tasks I have completed are written in blue. Goals that are in progress are in orange. And those I haven't even started are in regular font colour. I'm also adding notes about the progress or lack of progress. Feel free to nag me about any not being done (or suggest ways I can meet the goal).

Here is the update on my 33 While 33 challenges:

  1. Choose a "My One Word" to focus my 33rd year: Abide
  2. Paint the canvas -It is still white. I don't think it will see any paint until January.
  3. Read the whole Bible -I'm reading the Gospel of Mark right now
  4. Finish 11 non-fiction books -I've read 1, I have three on the go
  5. Go some place new -I went to Falls Lake in September.
  6. Serve/help/volunteer in a new way -I have an idea
  7. Capture Happiness every day -I am working on this
  8. Count my blessings -the Thankful Thursday posts count
  9. Plan a trip
  10. Remember Birthdays
  11. Mail letters
  12. Visit my Grandma Stewart
  13. Build a snowman with my sister -plan to do this at Christmas
  14. Take a hot air balloon ride with my mum
  15. Go for a hike in the woods 
  16. Create a photo book
  17. Learn a new skill
  18. Make a new friend
  19. Reconnect with past friends
  20. Dance
  21. Try a new food
  22. Draw
  23. Grow something (bonus points if it is food that I can harvest)*
  24. Be a vegetarian for 30 days
  25. Sleep under the stars
  26. Celebrate an obscure or odd "holiday" -going to celebrate NaNo Eve this Friday!
  27. Send flowers
  28. Be flexible
  29. Get lost in a corn maze
  30. Send one of my works of fiction to a publisher
  31. Do something I've been putting off
  32. Host a murder mystery
  33. Go on a date -I went on a date this summer. It ended up being plutonic but it was an attempt. If no other dates happen this year it will count...but I am hoping a romantic date will happen in the next six months. I am almost willing to be set up on a blind date -almost.
12 done! I am the most excited about the hot air balloon ride. It was amazing.


There are 15 I am sure I can accomplish in the next six months.

The ones I am worried about finishing are:

  • 2 -I've had the canvas four years
  • 13 -what if there is no snow?
  • 23 -It would seem I've missed the window of opportunity on that one
  • 30 -I don't actually think I have anything worth sending. he nex
And that is where things are at. The next check up will be on Monday, January 26.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thankful Thursday #191 -Oct 25

It's a Saturday but not too late to be thankful for this past week. Re-starting good habits is hard. I am open to suggestions on how to improve.

The week has had some highs and lows (I was sick for much of it) and through it all I have seem so many reasons to be thankful...so here we go!

1) I am thankful for Courtney, She is my co-leader with the grade 6 girls at GEMS (Girls Everywhere Meeting the Saviour girls club). And she is one of the many people I have the honour of working beside. I am happy to know her and call her a friend.

2) I am equally thankful for the girls in our GEMS group. After our first regular session I am very excited for what the year will hold for us. We made "I'm Thankful For" journals. My plan is to share a how to post on Monday. If you is not up hound me for it.

3) I am thankful for Joy and Lindsay! Specifically for their awesome idea of  having soup to go available after church last Sunday. Lindsay is raising support for an up coming mission trip and the cost of the soup was free will. I ended up with meals for the week, less dishes to do, and the best part when I got real sick there was homemade chicken noddle soup ready for me.

4) I am thankful for the access for drug stores and cold and sinus medication. I remember when living in Swaziland, Africa a student had allergies and had been told there was no cure and no treatment. A missionary couple gave him Reactin and it changed his life. Having access to similar over the counter drugs have helped improve my recovery and week.

5) I am thankful for sleep when I am sick. A five hour rest is such a better way to handle being icky and sick than wake and in discomfort for those same five hours. It is especially wonderful when after being awake for an hour or so and have had some food if you can fall back for another five hours. There has been a lot of recovery sleep early this week.

6) I am thankful for the opportunity to attend the Leadership Summit with the church's pastoral team this week. It was an inspiring, challenging, motivating two days full of great speakers, idea provoking talks, and the opportunity to buy books. So many new books! I've also got a few thoughts that are percolating into possible actions and ideas. Looking forward to seeing what will come out of the two days.

7) I am thankful for the annual Ten Thousand Village sale. This one thankful item has many thankful parts. I love everything about the sale. I am thankful...

  • that Ten Thousand Villages exists. I've read up about how the organization started and their practices on how they work with artisans. It excites me to have the opportunity to buy fair trade products.
  • for Kim who organizing the sale year after year.
  • that most of my Christmas shopping is done.
  • for the new cookbook I picked up...now just need a reason to use it.
  • that the sale given my youth group a chance to serve and put into action what we learn by helping with the set up of the sale. If any of those students or their parents read this: I am thankful for you! You were excellent. You made me proud to say you were part of my group. You worked well, consistently, and continually. You actions and interactions were noticed by other volunteers and more than one person told how wonderful you all were. Thank you for being you! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thankful Thursday #190 -Oct 16

With Thanksgiving just pasted (in Canada), my Life Groups' (aka small group) discussion last night was on being thankful. It was a great night with yummy gluten-free brownies and friends and thought provoking sharing.

The thing that has stuck with me today was our conclusion that intentional thankfulness leads to positive thinking, encouragement (both personal and giving to others), and a sincere habit a thanksgiving. I shared my experience of writing weekly Thankful Thursday posts. I remember how on the most awful weeks my outlook completely changed after sharing how I am blessed. Being thankful change my perspective, attitude, and week.

I counted up all the past Thankful Thursdays; there are 189 (not always numbered the same); while not the flashiest of posts they are important and worthwhile.That is enough reason for me to resurrect the weekly series.

I am thankful....

1) for my Life Group and how our discussion last night lead to a renewed commitment to weekly post Thankful Thursdays.
2) that I have too many story ideas for NaNoWriMo. Inspiration inspires inspiration. With so many thoughts floating around my head I shouldn't get stuck with writer's block. Now I just need to overcome procrastination.
3) my co-ML! She is amazing!
4) high school football games -never thought I would say that.
5) microwaves -they are useful.
6) second chances.
7) Thanksgiving invitations; not just because of the delicious home-cooked meal, pumpkin pie, or that I didn't have to dishes. Those are all things I was thankful for this weekend. Invitations to join a family on Thanksgiving is wonderful because I am far from my family and holidays can be very lonely. Invitations mean I am included and remembered....and am not eating store bough pie alone.

Thank you to everyone who asked if I had a place to eat turkey!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

An Ode To Pumpkin Pie and The Garden

For those not aware, I am in a writing group. We meet twice a month. Most of the time I go for the people, the past few months I haven't wanted to write. September's theme was "Fall. I decided I needed to write and even if it started out silly...I wrote two poems (which was completely outside my comfort zone) They were a bit tongue and cheek. I had planned to post them that night but misplaced the work till this week. Seems fitting with Canadian Thanksgiving just ending.

An Ode To Pumpkin Pie*

At the great harvest of autumn,
What I desire so much I could die,
Is the orange filling of pumpkin pie,
With a flaky crust on bottom.
Oh that mix of sugar and spice!
I can never have just one slice.
Each and every bit is so yummy,
'Cause it's made with love by my dear mummy.
A pie so good it makes me sing;
Oh! How I love you at Thanksgiving!

The Garden**

Carrots
Peas
Pumpkin
Squash
Corn
Potatoes
Empty ground
It's harvest time!

*For those who care or even are annoyed with the ode's structure. I apologize it is not in perfect iambic pentameter...my head just doesn't do that. Second, I know I did not follow the English rhyming pattern. I used a classic pattern of ABBACCDDEE.

**This is a performance piece and much better heard line. Also I would like to dedicated "The Garden" to Dave of Best Word fame. His Plum Poetry story was the inspiration.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Ask Questions

Right now the group is reading through the gospel of Mark. At the start of each week (our groups meets on Thursday so this is the "start") I share a Bible study method. I was pleased with this one so I thought I'd share it here too:

Have you ever been around a child who wouldn't stop saying "why"? Maybe you were babysitting or maybe it was a younger sibling who was constantly asking questioning. "Why is the sky blue?" "Why do dogs bark?" "Why is the moon sometimes out in the day?" or "Why did you have pizza for lunch?"

Young children ask questions to understand the world around them. Their questions help them to discover, grow, and figure out how everything works. As we grow we learn to answer questions but that often means we stop asking questions. Which is sad because how else can we find out what is truth? Great discoveries start with questions.

This makes questions a great tool for us as we read through the book of Mark. Questions (and answers) will help us to discover who Jesus is, what he said, what he did, and why it matters. So this week, your challenge is to ask questions.

Ask questions about what you read, ask questions about what it means, ask questions about how it matters today. I'll give you a few questions each day for you to think about but add your own. The goal is to ask questions and search for answers. And if there are answers you can't find bring them to youth group next week.

Mark 3:31-35The Message (MSG)

31-32 Just then his mother and brothers showed up. Standing outside, they relayed a message that they wanted a word with him. He was surrounded by the crowd when he was given the message, “Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside looking for you.”

33-35 Jesus responded, “Who do you think are my mother and brothers?” Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, “Right here, right in front of you—my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

  • Why do you think Jesus' mother and brothers showed up?
  • Why didn't they go in to talk to Jesus?
  • What do you think of Jesus' response?
  • How do you think the crowd reacted to Jesus' words?
  • How do you think Jesus' mother and brothers reacted to Jesus' response?
  • What does "obedience is thicker than blood" mean?
  • What do you learn about Jesus from this passage?
  • What have you learned from today's passage?
  • What other questions did you ask?
If you want to join the Mark reading you can find the daily reading here. And in case you are still wondering or a child ever asks you the "whys" I used above here are the answers...

Why is the sky blue?
A clear cloudless day-time sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. When we look towards the sun at sunset, we see red and orange colours because the blue light has been scattered out and away from the line of sight. Learn more from NASA

Why do dogs bark?
Barking is how dogs communicate with other dogs and their people. Different barks say different things from "I'm hungry" to "This is dangerous." Dogs also use whines, growls, and yips to communicate.

Why is the moon out sometimes in the day?
This question burns brightest of all in the minds of kids, according to the UK survey. The answer is simple: The moon is just as likely to be visible during the day as it is at night it orbits Earth independently of the sun. When its orbit brings it to your part of the sky during daylight hours, it is illuminated by the sun, and we can see it.

Why did you have pizza for lunch?
Well, I had pizza for supper last night and left over pizza is delicious.