Saturday, June 26, 2010


"I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose."
-Woody Allen

Things that have literally made me laugh out loud lately. And, for that simple reason, I must share them with you. They are definitely worth bookmarking to save for a bad day.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just jump...

“Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.”
-Ray Bradbury

In the midst of organizing cameras and emptying memory cards in preparation for our trip, I ran across this video from our post-post-planning party. It makes me smile.

FYI... that's me in the green shirt. And for the record, I am NOT front yard material.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I don't usually dream like this...

The hues of the opal, the light of the diamond, are not to be seen if the eye is too near. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don't get me wrong... I love my engagement ring. It's so me... so me and him. But, man, I would trade it for this in a heartbeat.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Checking in on MY LIST

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." -Mark Twain

Looking back on this list that I wrote on my last birthday, it is obvious that I wrote this while unemployed. It is extensive and gradiose. I didn't have a clue about the train that was about to hit head-on. I'm glad to check off some of these things, but many of them are just being transferred to this year's list.
  1. Bike a 50+ mile ride. I made it to 35 a couple of times, but I still haven't found a regular routine, making 50 a challenge. [Read more.] [And more.]
  2. Make our bed more often than not. I was really good about this before I got a job. Not so good afterwards. But I do love a making the's like fixing up a treat for yourself to enjoy later in the day.
  3. Plan and take an awesome vacation. Well, I've planned, but theoretically we won't be leaving for Seattle until after my birthday. But it's only one week away!! [Read more.]
  4. Get a teaching job. Check! And there went the rest of my year. [Read more.] [And more.] [And more.] [And more.] [And more.] [And finally.]
  5. Plan and host a party at our house. Well, I had my extended family over for dinner one night. I still want to have a real "party" though. [Read more.]
  6. Learn to like Diet Coke. I tried, I promise. I spent several months mixing the good with the bad. But eventually, I just quit resisting. I did go Caffeine Free for a while, and I even went water only. But I needed the caffeine boost halfway through the day. My one vice. So sue me.
  7. Organize a scrapbook of our engagement and wedding preparations. Nope. I started but didn't get very far.
  8. Switch to reusable feminine hygiene products--maybe TMI, but it's on the list nevertheless. I won't go into detail, but yes, I made the switch. If you're interested, I can tell you what I think.
  9. Take a craft class or workshop. Well, I went to Mommy Sewing Camp 2010 a couple of weeks ago. Does that count? [Read more.]
  10. Learn to effectively use our digital SLR camera. Mama and I held Shutter School through September. But we will definitely have to pick that up again.... at some point. [Read more.]
  11. Start the teacher certification process. Yes, and getting a job was the first part. At this point, I've taken the two classes that I need (IDEA and Reading Instruction) and am halfway through my summer seminar. If I can get everything done in a timely fashion, I might be able to get out in a year. Fingers crossed... [Read more.]
  12. Collect stories from family and friends about my dad. This is a must-do for this summer. Callie, are you in? I'm just afraid we will lose too many stories if we wait.
  13. Organize photos from this year into an album. Nope. They're all on the hard drive.
  14. Fix up the extra bedroom so that it's cozy for guests. Only if you count a futon and a wide variety of extra furniture.
  15. Write letters and cards to faraway friends and family. I got a couple out. But what I am proud of is that I recently sent cards to some of my most inspirational teachers, thanking them for inspiring me to return to the classroom to make a difference in other students' lives.
  16. Work on my grandparents' biographies. This project is big and intimidating, and most importantly, I really want to do it right.
  17. Improve my tennis game. Nada.
  18. Make the most of the gift of Callie and Jordan living less than 45 minutes away. It seems I might have had a bit of clairvoyance in this endeavor, since Callie and Jordan lived here for just 6 short months. Regularly though, Rob or I will say, "I wish they were here. They would have fun doing this with us." Everything from hiking the parks to enjoying our new favorite yogurt spot. [Read more.] [And more.] [And more.]
  19. Explore Gwinnett County and all it has to offer. We love the Gwinnett County parks. We're there almost every weekend. I have fallen in love with the little town of Dacula. It feels safe. [See more.]
  20. Make 2 new friends. This was a stretch when I wrote it, but I'm thrilled to say that I've made one really close friend and a wide range of teacher friends, both at my school and through my education classes. [Read more.]
  21. Join the Georgia State Park Canyon Climbers Club. 3 down, 1 to go. This year we did Amicalola Falls and Providence Canyon. [Read more.] [And more.]
  22. Incorporate one new fruit into my weekly menu. Not weekly, but Rob's got me reaching for bites of his mango when he slices one up.
  23. Make something special for my new niece or nephew. Nephew!! I made a couple of cute onesies for Christmas!! Definitely need to see him soon. Can you believe he is almost 6 months old?!?!? [See more.]
  24. Come up with and stick to some kind of housecleaning routine. Hahahaha.... however, I have to admit, while my brain was fried, it was actually easier to clean than to be creative.
  25. Document this list. Some of the interesting stuff got posted here. Some of it didn't.

26 and still alive

"Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest." -Larry Lorenzoni

As today is my birthday, it makes for a wonderful day to reflect on who I am, to take a snapshot of now, to think about how I've changed, and ultimately, who I want to be. And, yet throughout this year (unlike last!) I've had hardly any time for reflection. It's been "just keep swimming, just keep swimming," as Dory from Finding Nemo would say.

This year I've found a career that challenges me more than I've ever been challenged before. But, I do believe I've found the classroom to be my passion, and I'm really proud of the things that I accomplished with little to no background knowledge about education. However, I've pushed aside my personal creative pursuits in order to conserve every little bit of energy for my school projects. I've missed that sanctuary, and I'm committed to finding a better balance in the next year.

Interestingly, this year Rob and I switched work-related stress levels, which has forced us to flip-flop our usual empathy roles. Honestly, I don't know what I would have done without him. No matter how bad the school day was, I always looked forward to coming home to him to watch our tv shows and eat dinner together. Even if it was usually fast food! And, even if I was still crabby in the evening. Thanks honey!

With these new experiences, I have met a lot of new people this year. And, I'm lucky enough to say that I've become really close with the Language Arts teacher from my team. We were both in need of a close friend, and were blessed enough to find that in each other. I've also been delighted to find a group of people to get together with after school for drinks, especially after a long week.

Looking back, there were few real memorable events that stand out from the pack. I was just too tired to make memories. But, I'm eager to use the lessons I've learned this year (from all aspects of my life) to do it all with less stress in this next year. To make the most of these precious years of youth.

[By the way... I made the dress that I'm wearing above. With the help of this tutorial. I found the tanktop and skirt at Goodwill, and just used the red knit fabric I had on hand, rather than search and search for wide elastic band. Next time I want to find some of the real stuff, though!]

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wouldn't you know...

"I do not know anyone who has gotten to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but it will get you pretty near." -Margaret Thatcher

Look at this binder that we received today on our first day of Summer Teaching Institute. I've never seen anything this big!! Wouldn't you know... it doesn't even fit into my cute bag that I created last week!!

If we're going to be filling those rings, I'm in for a busy year. But, I'm actually looking forward to most of it!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wardrobe revamp

"There must be a reason why some people can afford to live well. They must have worked for it. I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use."
-Mother Teresa

To continue the upcycling trend, I've collected a couple of cheap t-shirts from Goodwill and Forever 21 to refashion. Inspired by Adventures in Dressmaking and several other creative blogs, I decided to try my hand at it. Not bad for less than $6 per shirt! What do you think?
Which is your favorite?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sew Green

"All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle."
-Ellen Birdseye Wheaton

Starting on Monday, I will spend the next two weeks taking a class for my teacher certification. I'm looking forward to this and dreading it at the same time. I will certainly miss my creative time, which I've certainly made the most of the last couple of days. But, one of the best parts about school for students of any age is the school supplies. I've gathered a couple of new notebooks and folders from the clearance shelves at Target, and I'm super excited to christen the pages with their first words. But I had yet to find something stylish to carry them in.

Then, in my search for the perfect pouch tutorial the other day, I ran across this tutorial for a refashioned tote bag. My mind immediately went to the boring tote I had laying at the bottom of my closet, just ugly enough that I would never use, but just handy enough that I didn't want to toss it. I don't mind being a member of your credit union, but you won't dare catch me carrying that bag outside the house.
Using some fabric that once had dreams of being a skirt, but lately had its fingers crossed for a rainy day project, today I redecorated that ho-hum bag. And, of course, midway through (and with my new-found sewing prowess), I decided to add a flap, a pocket, and some diy bias tape trim around the top edge. I have to admit, that mid-seam, I actually squealed out loud because I could see how cute it was going to be. And, then of course, I needed a matching pencil pouch (I used the "Artsy Clutch" pattern, again from Bend-The-Rules Sewing). Because man, that's just how I roll.
And, the best part of all, is that I spent zero dollars and zero cents on this project. All of the supplies were just sitting around, waiting to be loved.

All packed and ready to go...

"The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary."
-Mary Kurtz

After my mom's (with a little help from me) success of creating an Eagle Creek Packing Folder hack, I set my sights on some pouches to hold smaller things. After a day of experimenting with a pouch like these, I decided a little make-up bag pouch would do the trick (and be much quicker!). I tried this version that I found at And, although I love the idea of it, the perfect implementation took more attention to detail than I was willing to muster. So, I went with the more tried and true zippered pouch, based on a pattern in Bend-The-Rules Sewing. (And, I actually made two of these, although squeezing in all three really crowded the photo.)

When Rob asked what I would put in them, he replied, "they must be for Jana socks and Jana undies. No one else's would fit." They are a bit small, but
I'm tickled with how cute they look. And, I've learned a lot about sewing and construction in the process.

Also, if you want to make a packing folder yourself, here's our tutorial.
And, if you have no desire to make your own, but want to see our beautiful creations AND my YouTube debut, go here.

Now... what project's next?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Variety is the spice of life

“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” -Edward de Bono

(Not so relevant to this post, but shows the logo I've been working on today!)

Yesterday was the first real day of my summer laziness. The first day to hang out around the house. The first day to dive into my recently dormant creative potential. My biggest fear is that I won't fully appreciate this much-needed break from school. Last week, even Rob kept asking, "when are you going to stop thinking about school?". To guide myself, I even had a to-do list (complete with estimated times... I know, I'm a dork), that included everything from bike riding and grocery shopping to graphic designing and sewing.

Yesterday I spent the day running errands and sewing in the craft room. All hands-on, get down and dirty activities. And, the whole time I kept thinking of things to search for on the internet and things to design on the computer.

Today, on the other hand, I've spent the day at the computer (with daytime television in the on that... I've got to find something better to watch). I had several graphic design projects (logos and flyers) to work on, and I'm pretty excited about the results (seen above). But, of course, all day I've been dreaming of sewing and scrapbook projects. I'll save that for tomorrow!

It's going to be a busy (and hopefully creatively productive) summer!

And, if you're wondering why what I did on my first official week of out of school, check out my mom's blog: here and here.

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