Thursday, August 6, 2009

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

I'm starting a project. I love digital scrapbooking, but I have a lot of trouble figuring out what to make pages of. Most people scrap their kids, and that won't work for me. I've tried scrapping pictures of friends' kids, which is fun, but I don't feel really pushed to do it. So, I was reading a blog post about something called the "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life." Basically, you create a book that has information about you for all of the letters of the alphabet. So far, I've made a list of 3 words (about; some were harder!) for each letter that fit me or I have a story about. I'm loving my list--it's so me. I'll make a page for each of these words, then have it all printed into a book.

Here's my list:
A: Apartments, Antique Furniture, Alarm Clock
B: Blogs, Bookworm, Brother
C: Car/Carolla, Churches, Cooking
D: Desserts, Dreams, Digital Scrapbooking
E: Engagement, Electronics (DVR, Apple, etc.), Eyes
F: Faith, Family, Flute, Football
G: Grandparents, Guilty Pleasures, Growing Up
H: Haircut, Holidays, Hometown
I: Ice Cream (Favorite), Internet, iPhone
J: Jonathan, Job History, Jewelry
K: Keepsakes, Kids, Karaoke
L: Lola, Living Simply, Laundry
M: Marriage, Mexican Food, Movies
N: Name, Nerves, Nicknames
O: OBU, OSU, Oklahoma
P: Parents, Procrastination, Pratt (Maiden Name)
Q: Quiet, Quotes, Quirks
R: Rachels, Research, Recipes
S: Salutatorian, Sophie, Sushi
T: TV, Therapist, Texas
U: Unorganized, Unfinished, Understanding
V: Values, Vacations (Cruises), Visiting
W: Wedding, Wine, Weight
X: Expenses, Exercise, (Extreme? Extraordinary?)
Y: Youth group, Year (seasons), Yummy Flavors
Z: Zzzzzz... (Sleeping), Zodiac (Sagittarius)

It's an ambitious project, but I think if I streamline it by using the same format for each page, it will turn out just fine. Now, I just need to pick a template and a kit or some kits to work from. I'll update you again when that's done!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Willow Oak

This is a little essay I wrote for my first college English class... I was digging around on my hard-drive and found it, and thought it would be appropriate to post here. Brings back fun memories! :)


Across the street from my childhood home on Willow Oak, there was an empty lot. Except for the very center, trees grew thickly, obscuring our view of the street and effectively giving us a place all our own, a stage on which we acted out various dramas. The cast of players was usually the same, consisting of Alison, Katherine, Taylor, and myself. Alison was the oldest. Even then, she was striking: tall, blonde, and bronze. Katherine lived down the street. Besides being the same age, we were as different as possible; still, we were best friends. Taylor, my brother, was the youngest. At first, he joined us because my mother made us let him play; we often had to dictate his roles to him. Later, though, he made for himself his own niche in our game. The lot took on for us many different personalities, and with it, we changed as well.

When we played house, the hollow was our home. A fallen tree was transformed into our couch; a stump served as our table; the holes in the trees made perfect cabinets. Alison always played the mother; as the oldest and the tallest, it was logical. Katherine and I were the twins; since we were the same age, it just made sense. Taylor was usually the baby brother. When he got older and knew the difference, though, he insisted on being the father; being the baby was below him. Our dramas were numerous and extremely varied. On hot days when it was time for us to “eat,” Alison would run back to her house and bring us Big Red popsicles. Other times, conversing politely, we would sit Indian-style around our stump-table and “dine” on a feast of leaf salad, sweet-gum ball stew, and a side of acorns. At some point during the game, we always had to clean house. It fell to Katherine and I to sweep the floor with imaginary brooms and make-believe dustpans. Taylor tended to the yard, picking up leaves and grass and piling them for a “camp fire” that we would “burn” later that night. Alison kept us on track, leading us in rounds of Whistle While You Work and The Cleaning Song. It was during these role-playing games that I came to realize how different each of our concepts of “home” was. Alison lived in a house with two brothers; the ritual cleaning was a part of her normal life, and so to her, of course it would be a part of our game. Taylor and I had never known what it was like to live without a daddy, so the concept of not having a father was a new experience for us. Katherine, the only child, learned in some aspects what it was like to have brothers and sisters.

On other days, the lot became our battlefield. We never fought against each other; there were greater, unknown enemies to be fought, and even then we knew that to win, we would have to work together. Most of the time, we didn’t put a name to the force we were fighting. We fought the bad guys. We stood up for justice. The hollow, of course, was our fortress, inside of which we were invincible. As the oldest, Alison was the general. We let Taylor be the scout; we would send him out among the trees to listen for coming enemies. He stayed away for as long as he could bear it, always running back and shouting, “They’re coming! Hurry up!” And with Taylor’s call to arms, we sprung into motion. Alison told us which corners of the lot to defend, but we ran around, never following her plan, shooting the bad guys and destroying the evil of the world. The older we got, the more sophisticated our techniques became. The same sweet-gum balls that had served as the main entrĂ©e of our meals the night before suddenly became grenades, which we haphazardly threw, taking out legions of bad guys at a time. The dirt “carpet” of our house became the drawing board where we created battle strategies and plans of attack. We learned together what it meant to battle the evil in our world. The enemy didn’t always have a name. It never had a face. We stood unrelenting, though, for what we believed in; to protect the hollow and the lot that we loved.

When my family moved to the house on Brookwood, there was another empty lot across the street. It was different, though, from the last. It had only two trees and lots of blank space; in no way could one feel isolated from the world as we had in the hollow. The differences, however, went beyond the physical. In my new neighborhood, there were far fewer children than there were on Willow Oak, so I spent a lot of alone time in the new lot. At ten years old, I was the perfect age to learn what it meant to be independent; the lot on Brookwood gave me the classroom for my lessons. One of the trees was the perfect shape for climbing it with a book- the branches formed a chair that, like the books that I was growing to love, gave me a new perspective on all that was around me. Other times, I would just lie on the grass and stare at the clouds, experiencing the wonder of nature and trying to grasp the God who created it all.

I realize that both of these places were instrumental in the definition of my sense of community. Through the first, I realized what it was to be in a group. We cooperated. We compromised. We coordinated ourselves into a hierarchy. It was in the lot on Willow Oak that I realized how many different roles an individual can assume. I could be a daughter, a soldier, or a spy. Even at my young age, I found that one person could play an infinite number of parts. I also realized how versatile a place could be. If we were creative, we could use the same resources for a million different purposes. Although it was radically different, the lot on Brookwood also taught me. I learned the importance of being alone, and I discovered that even when you are a part of a community, there is a time when you need to escape, to develop a sense of self without which you cease to be part of your surroundings at all.

The lot on Willow Oak isn’t there anymore; they built a house on it shortly after we moved. While it’s disappointing to think that there will be no other sets of actors and actresses playing within the trees and the hollow, I know with certainty that the children on Willow Oak have surely found their own stage.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring Cleaning: Day 1

I'm going to be following along with Simple Mom's spring cleaning for the next couple of weeks. (Yeah, I know... I'm not a mom... it's still a great website!)

Today's task is to do a clean sweep... Go through the house, throwing away trash and putting things where they belong. I worked some this morning and will have more time this evening to finish that task. One nice thing about living in a small apartment is that working through to put stuff where it belongs doesn't take that long!

I thought about taking before and after pictures in the interest of full disclosure... but... I didn't really want to show off how messy our apartment was! Maybe I'll grab some pictures along the way on the rest of the days. Anyway, it already feels better to have things picked up around here!

Friday, May 1, 2009

{inter}National Scrapbooking Day/Weekend

{Look here for my introduction to Digital Scrapbooking. Also, a gallery of my favorite pages I have made is here.)

If you've ever had an inkling of wanting to try digital scrapbooking, this weekend is the time to jump in! In honor of iNSD, people are going to be giving things away like crazy! If you're going to be downloading freebies, here's a few good rules of thumb:
1. Don't download something you KNOW you won't use.
2. Only download if you think you would buy it.
3. After you've downloaded, immediately delete things that are unnecessary (the no piracy graphics, extra kit previews, fan blinkies, etc... even the parts of the kit you don't like (i.e. computer generated ribbons, for me!)

Here are a few great freebies I have found so far:
Several free kits here for a design competition.
There's a giant really pretty kit here if you sign up for the forums and log in.
A gorgeous kit at DigiShopTalk created by The Digichick designers (that means something, I promise... something good!). This thread explains how to get it.

That should get you started! :) If I find anything else really good, I'll update this post. If you have any questions about digital scrapbooking, PLEASE ask!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Installing Actions in Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac

First, make sure you're putting the action in the right place.

ATN and PNG files go here:
Macintosh HD>Library>Application Support>Adobe>Photoshop Elements>6.0>Photo Creations>photo effects

(NOT in Your username>Library>Application Support... etc.)

XML Files go here:
Macintosh HD>Library>Application Support>Adobe>Photoshop Elements>6.0>Locale>en_Us>Photo Creations Metadata>Photo Effects

For the XML File:
Open any xml file in the folder by choosing open with>text edit. Before you change anything, do file, save as: Your Action Name.xml in that same folder.
Then, find this line:
name id="Name" value="Whatever Action You Opened" localize="true"/
and change the bolded part to the name you want to call the action you're installng.

Then, if you want to put your installed actions in their own category, you'd find this line:
typecategory id="TypeCat" value="Category of action you opened" localize="true"
and change the bolded part to the category you want. For example, I have all the actions I've installed from CoffeeShop actions in a folder called Coffee Shop Effects.

Save that xml.

Now, go back to:
Macintosh HD>Library>Application Support>Adobe>Photoshop Elements>6.0>Locale>en_Us

Rename MediaDatabase.db3 to MediaDatabase.old

Open PSE. It will take awhile to load because it is re-doing the media database. When it opens, you should open your actions panel. If you put the action in its own folder (in teh XML file editing step), you should see that folder name in the drop down menu. If not, you should see it in the all actions category.

When everything's working right, go back and delete mediadatabase.old in the Macintosh HD>Library>Application Support>Adobe>Photoshop Elements>6.0>Locale>en_Us folder.


Also, be sure to check out my tutorial on installing layer styles, which can be found at this link!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I am consistently inconsistent.  Key example: Blogging.  Also, I like to drink hot tea, but I probably only fix myself a cup twice a month.  I enjoy cooking for my family, but I usually only do it a few times a week.  I enjoy a clean house, but I am horribly inconsistent in my cleaning.  I have a plan for diet and exercise, but I fail to stick to it regularly--even though I also have a plan for helping myself be consistent.  I long to be closer to Christ, but I am inconsistent in my quiet times.

It seems that one of the only things I'm consistent in is my inconsistency.  This bothers me about myself.  I want to be steady, dependable, and sure.  I want to be steadfast and unyielding in the things that are important to me.  

I wonder, sometimes, if my inconsistency is really a reflection of misaligned priorities.  What do I consistently do?  Read blogs.  Take a nap in the evening before going to bed.  Watch a litany of television shows.  Things that do what for me?  Fill my mind?  Take up my time?

Yet I serve a God who is eternal in his consistency.  From the beginning of time, he told his people that he was sending a savior--His Son--for rescue.  He is consistent in his love, in his forgiveness, in his promises.  His yes is yes, and his no is no.  He is perfectly consistent.

My hope, and my prayer, is that consistency will come.  That my repeated efforts, along with his abounding grace, will combine to form in me the steadfastness that I so wish that I had.

(p.s. bonus points if you add up the number of times the root word "consistent" shows up in this post.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

a favorite picture

My uncle (dad's youngest brother) and I circa 1988.  Love this picture... and my uncle.  :)
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