Monday, September 24, 2007

How was your Weekend?

I had a really good weekend. This horrible, awful funk I've been in is finally starting to lift in earnest, and for the first time in a really long time I felt really good about life.

On Thursday, John twisted my arm and told me I had to buy a Cricut. lol Ok, well, that's not quite how it went, but it sounds good doesn't it?

I've been eyeing the Cricut since it came out, but the price, and the fact that I already own every die cut machine known to man, has kept me from purchasing it. John had a couple of side jobs last week and we had some extra cash, he spent some on new bass stuff, and then threw the rest of the wad at me.

Well, Jenna HAD to get new clothes. I swear she grew 3 inches over the summer. So I took her shopping for some new school digs, and while we were at Wally World I saw they had the Cricut at an awesome reduced price. I didn't buy it, but I drooled for a bit before going home.

I talked to John about it later that day, since I did have enough money left over from clothes shopping, and he talked me into it. In the end he said I had two choices, I could buy it, or he could. So I ran back to Wal-Mart before I picked the kids up from school. It's very cool, and I've been playing with it all weekend. The picture at the top of the page is a popcorn box I made to give out some special Halloween treats in.

On Saturday we had our weekly band practice. The new drummer Paul is working out really well, though we still miss Jim, and the new music we're doing is just awesome. I think we're all really excited to be playing our own music, and the direction we're going in. I actually can't wait to get some rough recordings done so I can share it with you guys.

Sean and I make a good writing team, John's happy to be able to make his own bass line, and it's all coming together faster than I thought it would. We have 3 new original songs that we've written in 2 weeks, and I'm proud of each one of them. That's an unusual thing for me. lol

John thinks that at our next rehearsal in 2 weeks that we can throw some rough recordings down so that we have something new to put up on our MySpace page. I'll let you know when we get them up.

On Sunday we did the whole Americana thing, and spent the day outside. The girls rode bikes, hula-hooped, and blew bubbles.

I got this great picture of John, I managed to snap it about 2 seconds before he flipped me off. He hates getting his picture taken, so I have to be sneaky. I think I'm going to make a scrapbook page titled Ninja Photographer with some of these shots I've managed to sneak.

He's going to beat me for posting the picture here, but it'll be worth it. lol

Watching the girls hula-hoop was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. Jenna can't keep the hoop up for longer than a couple of seconds, but she does the cutest little shimmy thing with her butt. I wish I had a video camera so I could have caught it. I was laughing so hard, but trying not to let her see because she gets offended any time she thinks someone is laughing at her.

Tiana can only keep it up for a few seconds too, but I managed to catch this picture that makes her look like a pro. She does do really good job hula-hooping with her arm though!

John made us all ice cream cones later on, and we sat on the porch laughing and talking. It was fun, and relaxing... It was just nice spending time together.
So that was my weekend, I hope you had a good one too!


Friday, September 21, 2007

Hickory Nuts

On my way home from dropping Tiana off at school I saw a Hickory tree. I'd never noticed it before, but it's kind of hard to miss now because the nuts are getting ready to fall.

Most people don't plant Hickory trees in their yards or anywhere near their houses for good reason, the nuts mature in clumps on the tree, encased in heavy green outer shells, when they finally fall off the tree they can make quite a mess (and will dent any nearby metal surfaces).

I love Hickory trees though, they're beautiful shade tress with a full canopy and rich Autumn colors. The nuts they shed in the fall are edible, and quite yummy. I'd take a Hickory nut over a Walnut anyday.

When I was a kid, some years Cord would take me out Hickory Nuttin' with him. We'd go to a nearby farm that had this beautiful meadow speckled with Hickory trees. The yellows and oranges of the turning trees and drying grass sparkled in the autumn sun. The crisp air, laced with the rich scent of burning leaves would always envelop me with a feeling of rightness.

For an afternoon we'd prowl the meadow, looking for nuts that had just fallen. The heavy outer skins needed to be mostly green, with no sign of rot or insect infestation. The nuts would be piled in bushel baskets and apple crates for the trip home.

Once the baskets were half full they were already too heavy for me to carry, I'd try to drag them to the next choice spot, and eventually I would just give up the fight and run handfuls of nuts back to the leaden basket. As my basket reached overflowing I'd call to Cord for help. He'd smile at my dilemma, watching me try to drag the nuts across the ground by the thin wire handle of the basket, and chuckle softly when my butt hit the ground as I overbalanced my puny body. It always amazed me that he could lift the baskets with no apparent effort when I would be sweating and panting trying to budge it an inch. Weren't old people supposed to be weak and frail? Not Cord; he'd heft the basket with ease and trek it back to the trunk of his Chevy to exchange it for an empty, a twinkle in his eye at my obvious admiration.

Once the nuts were collected, they had to be dried to allow the outer husk to fall off. We would take them and spread them out on sheets of cardboard across the basement floor. I can remember the site as I would descend the stairs into the dim cool basement, a sea of rich green spheres covering the floor, narrow paths cut in to allow passage to the washing machine and canning cellar. The nuts gave off the heady aroma of drying vegetation; autumn preserved and contained for my pleasure. I would spend hours down there, running my hands over the smooth husks, gently rolling the nuts to create an undulating wave of green.

As the husks dried they would become black and pebbly, finally splitting at the seams to give a glimpse of the white, heart-shaped nut inside. Once completely dry, the husks were easily peeled away and discarded, the nuts themselves stored in baskets for shelling.

Shelling Hickory nuts... Wow, I don't have very many memories of Cord that don't include that activity. In the winter he would sit in the basement at his work bench and shell nuts. In the summer he would sit in his garage shelling nuts. I'd sit at his feet, eating the broken pieces, and collecting any nut worms in a cup.

This is the part of the story that always grosses out my kids. Nut worms; I have no idea what they're really called, I'm sure there's some Latin name for them that makes them sound way more impressive than the tiny, white things they are. The eggs are laid in the growing nut while it's still on the tree. It hatches, and the developing larvae can then feast on the meat of the nut, cocooned inside of the husk all through the winter. Once it has eaten it's fill, the worm bores through the shell of the nut and passes on to the next stage of life. Sometimes we'd catch these little worms in the act, and instead of a gorgeous nutmeat, we'd find their wiggling bodies inside the shell. Cord would toss them into a cup, to keep them from contaminating any more nuts, and my favorite thing to do at the end of the day was to drop them down the basement drain. They would make tiny plinking noises that my childhood ears compared to wind chimes.

These little white worms were a miracle to me. How could something so small, that could be squished with my finger, eat through the shell of a nut that had to be cracked with a hammer? Those shells were so hard that an ordinary nut cracker couldn't do the job. They had to be placed on an anvil and hit with an iron hammer. Not a job for the faint at heart, and I received many a smashed finger trying to attempt it. The worms didn't have teeth that I could see, and were harmless little things, so how did they do it? I would examine them in the cup, looking them over before I plinked them down the drain. An odd thing to find the wonder of nature in, but it was there nonetheless.

It's weird how the site of a tree brings it all back, as clear as if I were there. I can smell the nuts drying, feel them under my fingers. I can see Cord's happy weathered face, and everything is right in the world.

I wonder... Maybe if I took a bushel basket over the tree's owners might let me collect some nuts. I could show the kids how they dry, and how yummy they taste. Maybe I'm even big enough to carry my own basket now.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Story...

Someone emailed this to me today. It's probably not a true story (you know how these things make their way around the net), but it has a good message, and that's what counts.

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books, and I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd."

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, landing in the grass about ten feet from him.

He looked up and I saw a terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, "Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives."

He looked at me and said, "Hey thanks!"

There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I'd never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid, so I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends. He said yes, and we hung out all weekend. The more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, my friends thought the same.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Boy, you are going to really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday! "He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown and I was going to Duke. I knew we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation, and I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day, I saw Kyle, he looked great, he was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses, and he had more dates than I had. All the girls loved him, sometimes I was even a little jealous! Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech, so I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, big guy, you'll be great!"
He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. "Thanks," he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat and began, "Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach but, mostly your friends...

I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. And now I am going to tell you a story."

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.

"Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable."

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person's life for better or for worse.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


There is an awesome, awesome giveaway going on over on A Shade of Blue!

You can read all about it by visiting this link: Forum Candy Giveaway

Good Luck!

Monday, September 17, 2007

ASB's Spotlight

Hey, did you know there was a Spotlight Contest going on over on A Shade of Blue?

What's a spotlight contest? Well it's when our members enter their gorgeous artwork for a chance to win some time in the "Spotlight!"

The best part of these contests is looking over all the entries and voting for your favorite! Have you voted yet? Well go vote! All registered members can do it, and if you're not registered, now is a good time! It's free and easy, what more could you possibly ask for?

Then, once you've registered, you can enter your gorgeous artwork in next month's contest!

Go! Go now!!! :D

Have fun!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Challenge Blog

There's a new button in my links over there... It looks like this:

Check it out; it's the new challenge blog for ASB! It will keep you up to date on all of the new challenges going on over on A Shade of Blue, and maybe it will even inspire you to step out of your box and try something you otherwise might not have.

For you digi gals out there, every Tuesday there will be a free digi card template, and every Friday a digi scrap template.

Add it to your feeds so you don't miss a thing!


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Quote of the Day

I put this in the quote header on ASB a long time ago, but I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and so it's striking a chord...

Make no judgments where you have no compassion.

Just thought I'd share in the event it may inspire someone else. :)


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Cherry Cheesecake Embellishments

Before I do anything else I gotta say...


This year he decided to take his birthday trip to the EAA Air Museum in OshKosh Wisconsin. It was really cool, he took a ride on a flight simulator, and flipped it a couple of times. Watching, I was afraid he was gonna break the thing. The coolest part of the trip was this though...

Not only did he get to ride in that plane, but he got to fly it! The pilot took off and landed for him, but he got to take it for a spin around OshKosh. He was really psyched, and if he didn't want to be a pilot before, he does now!

It was only a day trip this year, so today we'll stay at home and celebrate with brownies and cheesy movies.

So on to the real reason you're here... :)

I did get some elements put together for the Cherry Cheesecake papers. I'm not totally happy with these, so you may see another embellishments pack for this kit somewhere down the road. I think I need to walk away from it for a bit though before I try again.

This pack contains 20 Embellishments:
4 Brads
4 Eyelets
3 Ribbons
2 Tags
2 Bookplates
2 Flourishes
2 Word Art Overlays
1 Frame Overlay

You can download them here.

If you guys make anything with my freebies, send me a copy! I'd love to see your layouts!