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.  :)
Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 9, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request

This is not what I had planned for our company girl coffee, but I'm on my way out the door.

Please pray for my sweet papaw.  He's in the ICU in Dallas.  He's been in the hospital since the week of Christmas.  I'm about to head down there because they have put him on a respirator and a feeding tube, and they're going to do a lung biopsy--they're not sure if he's going to make it.

I know that I will see him again in heaven, but that doesn't curb the sadness my family is feeling now.  Thank you, friends.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Food for Thought

Shaun Groves has an interesting post on his blog today.
Seth Godin, a marketing leader and accidental theologian, writes in his newest book Tribes that fundamentalism is the opposite of curiosity. He says “A fundamentalist is a person who considers whether a fact is acceptable to his religion before he explores it.” He says a curious person “explores first and then considers whether or not he wants to accept the ramifications.”
Click here for more.

Do you feel open to curiously studying what you believe?  What you think you believe?  I am so thankful for the attitude of intellectual curiosity that I got at OBU.  I was genuinely encouraged to explore my beliefs and discover new truths.  There is a staunch encouragement to re-examine what you think you know is in the bible, to discover what's really there, and to be willing to examine all facets of the Christian life and doctrine.  Where do you fall on the continuum from fundamental to curious?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

WFMW: Getting fit!

I have a confession to make: I don't have an athletic bone in my body.  The evidence?  In school, gym was always my least favorite class.  I've never played on an organized sports team (unless you count inter-murals in college... and I'm not sure you could call that organized!!).  In fact, after what would be light to moderate exercise to other people, I've been known to feel faint and even pass out!  

So, when I realized that my weight was creeping up the scale, and dieting alone wasn't getting where I wanted to be, I had a dilemma--how could I go from practically no physical activity to some kind of work out?

For me, the solution was the Couch to 5K workout. (Click that link to get the whole plan).  Thist workout is designed to get you from being a couch potato to running a 5k in just 9 weeks.  It gradually gets you started with interval training, where you alternate walking and jogging/running (jogging for me!!).  This is something even I can do.  Before the holidays, I worked my way up to week three.  Every week was challenging, but do-able.  Then, there was finals, and traveling, and, well... suffice it to say I'm starting back!  Yesterday I did the week 1 workout again, but I think I'm going to move straight back to week 2... week one was actually easy for me!

And--the greatest part.  There are some free podcasts on iTunes by a guy named Robert Ullrey.  These podcasts have techno-ish workout music, and Robert chimes in at the appropriate intervals to tell you when to walk or run, as well as to give some encouragement.  It's great!  If you do a little searching around iTunes, you can also find a podcast that is just silence with someone giving you the instructions.  That way, if you have garageband or a program like it, you can add your own music.  Of course, you don't have to use the podcasts at all if you have a stopwatch or a clock on your treadmill!

Anyway, the Couch to 5k workout is working for me.  So far, combined with eating healthier (a 1200ish/day diet), I've lost 9 pounds.  I'm half way to my goal!

For more WFMW posts, check out Shannon's blog, Rocks in my Dryer!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Meal Planning

In an effort to keep my resolution to keep up with Rachel Anne's Small Things at Home Sanctuary, and because it's Monday, I did a doozy of a meal plan today.  Rachel challenged us to plan meals for the month using categories.

My categories, and the meals they include (Most are links to the recipe!):
Chicken: Chicken Piccata, Lemon Pepper Chicken, Oven BBQ Chicken, Skillet grilled chicken
Beef: Mini-Meatloaves, Hamburger Pockets
Fish/Pork: Salmon, Tilapia, Tenderloin, Pork Chops

And I have some substitutions, too: Rotel Chicken, Honey Mustard Chicken, Quesadillas, PIzza Rolls, Homemade Pizza, and Baked Raviolis

I also have two places for new recipes, because I'm always wanting to try something different.

Then, based on OUR schedule, I plugged the categories into the calendar, and then plugged meals into the categories.  The result is a really nice meal plan with four weeks of meals that our family likes to eat.  I like it!

This week, we're having:
Oven BBQ Chicken, green beans, rice
Baked Raviolis, buttered corn, salad, sourdough bread
Salmon, brocolli, butternut squash

Sunday, January 4, 2009

And we're off!

(click to see full sized)
Chocolate Fall by Kasia Designs; Tape by Vicki Stegall; Netters Alpha by Scarlet Heels; Paper Tear by Jess Gordon

Have you heard of the Amazing Digi-Scrapping race?  Teams of two digital scrapbookers "race" around the online scrapbooking world, completing two challenges a week to fulfill the requirements set by whatever site is hosting the challenge.  This is my first layout of the race!  The challenge set forth was to rip a picture into at least three pieces, and include journaling on your layout.  Here's my answer!

In case you can't read it, the journaling says: 
During our senior year, Rachel, Maren, Andrea, and I got together for a Grey's Anatomy and LOST watching party every Thursday night. I depended on them to keep the mood light, even when LOST was scaring the poop out of me! Graduation came and sent us in all directions... Even though I'm still in Oklahoma, Rachel is in California, Maren is in Colorado, and Andrea is in Missouri! Now the new season is starting in about two weeks. I sure will miss my girls--I don't know how I'm going to get through watching it alone!
Do you want to see what my partner comes up with, or to follow us along the race?  Then check out our team blog: The Cosmo Chicas!!

Garlicky Butternut Squash

New recipe on my recipe blog... and it's a GREAT one!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Year

Three days ago, laying on a double-sized air mattress with Jonathan and two dogs (don't worry, one belongs to the friends we were staying with), we began to think out our resolutions for the year. I'm not big on keeping resolutions. 

I love to make them--the fresh start of a new year gives me the same feeling as a blank journal, so full of the promise of what is to come. However, just as I tend to write a few entries in my journal and leave the rest blank once it's not new anymore, I usually stick to my resolutions for a few weeks or days, and then they fall by the wayside as the rest of life comes around.

I don't have any reason to think that I'll do anything different this year, but I am going to try. I also think that it's helpful to reflect on the past and look forward to how you want life to be different, even if it's not in the form of specific resolutions to be tackled. There are lots of things that I want to change about myself--I want to cook more. I want to keep a neater house. I would like to be more dedicated to my quiet times. But I feel confident that if I set more than just a few goals, I will fail at all of them. So, here is what I did come up with:

1. I want to embrace simplicity in my life. I want this to be my motto for 2009. Simple. Simple. Simple. Seek it, enjoy it, revel in it. This applies to my home--do I really need another spoon, or that shirt that looks similar to the one I already have? No. Declutter. It also applies to my attitude. Take joy and pleasure in a good cup of coffee, a bird's song, or an open window. Finally, it will apply to my commitments. I want to (as much as is possible) simplify my schedule. If something is required for school, I'll do it. But I'm not going to overcommit myself.

2. I want to scrap 50 pages this year. I hear people making scrapping goals in the multi-hundreds, but I know I would not make it there. This goal gives me a little less than 1 per week, and since I'm doing the Amazing Digi-Scrapping Race (don't know what that is? want to see our team blog? It's right here), I know I'll do 2 pages a week for the next six weeks and get a head start. I want to make sure that Jonathan and my memories are recorded, and I'm going to do that by scrapping more and shopping/surfing less.

3. I want to lose 10 pounds and stay within a 5 pound range of that number. It is amazing what a difference eating smaller portions of healthier food, paired with a little exercise, has done for me. Since October, I've lost 8 pounds (I was down 10, but I gained 2 over the cruise and the holidays... a number I'm happy with)! I want to continue these healthier habits and get back down to a weight that I feel really good about.

4. I want to commit to doing Rachel Anne's Small Things. Have you heard of the small things? Rachel runs a blog, Home Sanctuary, on which she encourages women to make their home a sanctuary for their family. She posts one simple small thing that you can do every day to achieve this goal. Sometimes it's a cleaning task, sometimes it's a word of encouragement to a family member, and other times it's a spiritual truth. She has been posting them for a whole year, and while I faithfully read her blog, I rarely do the small things. This year, I want to do them at least three times a week.

So... Those are my goals. I'm feeling good about them and their likelihood of getting completed. I'm feeling pretty good about 2009 in general, actually. I think it's going to be a good year. Happy 2009 to you. :)