Published Again!

Amidst the grief of the past week, there have been bright spots.  I wanted to share a few of them with you.

Published again!
Today, when I picked up my mail from the last two weeks, I found my copy of Lowe's Creative Ideas and in it the photograph I sold a while back!  It was a lovely surprise as I had forgotten all about it!

Desert Region Spring 2012 Edition
They publish 11 different regional issues, and my photo is in the Desert Region Spring 2012 edition!

Rodrigo & Lisa
While in Costa Rica, a friend of mine at work put me in touch with her Uncle Rodrigo.  From the first phone call, he was a friend.  He is a retired surgeon from Atlanta, Georgia, now back in his home country of Costa Rica.  He was the most kind hearted and compassionate man, who was generous with his hospitality, time and medical knowledge.  My sister and I are indebted to him for all that he did for us while in Costa Rica with our Mom.  He made a difficult path much smoother and gave up a week of his busy life to assist us.  He truly was our Guardian Angel while we were there.

Costa Rica 3
Rodrigo's home was beautiful and surrounded by lush flowers and plants.

Rodrigo's Patio
In the mornings, the back patio was a haven of color and light.

Costa Rica 2
What a joy to wake up to such beauty!

Rodrigo's Patio
The flowers were such a lift to my heart each day.

Collared Dove
We returned home to northern Arizona and snow!  The Collared doves were at the feeder as were a Red Shafted Northern Flicker and many others throughout the snow storm.

18+ inches of snow and counting
It felt like mid-winter as the inches of snow piled up.  Here there are about 18" of snow on the ground. We ended up with between 24" and 29" of snow where I live!  At first I was unhappy about the snow, but it gave me a day to rest and regroup and for that I am very thankful.  Today the sun is peeping in and out of the clouds and the ground is warm enough that the snow is already beginning to melt.  I'm glad of that as I travel to Colorado in the morning to plan a Celebration of my Mother's life for this coming Saturday and to begin the process of settling my parent's estate.


My Mother

Suzi Plooster
On March 15, 2012, just before 3:00 p.m., my mother, Suzi Plooster, went to be with the Lord and to rejoin my Father.  


An Afternoon Trip

Thank you to everyone who has left comments or e-mailed me and offered prayers and encouragement regarding my Mother.  It means so very much to me and to all my family.  My mother continues in a delicate and critical condition at this time, and while we have seen some minor improvements in the past few days, there is still a long way to go.

Today, thanks to the generosity of the Uncle of one of my co-workers in Arizona, who lives near here, I was able to get away for the afternoon into the mountains.
Beautiful Garden
First we stopped for a look at his lovely mountain home and gardens with enormous hedges of hydrangea and fuchsias.

Garden Arch
It is the dry season here, so I understand that it isn't as green and lush as it is during the rainy season, but it is still lovely!  And though it is "dry" it was a misty afternoon ~ just not raining as it does in the rainy season!

Forest path
We took a walk down into the forest ~ everything covered with many varieties of moss and fern.  Those steps are steep and the rope handrail a complete necessity!

Amazing Forest
The view into the forest is amazing ~ so green and lush.

Every Branch a Garden
Every horizontal surface turns into a garden for a host of other plants, even if it's just a tree limb growing across the path.

Coffee Plantations
Lower on the mountainsides, there are fields of coffee, some with a natural bio-diverse shade cover of native trees, some with artificial covers  ~ tents that cover entire hillsides and others such as these where the coffee is allowed to enjoy the full sunlight.  It was a lovely break.

It has been so heartening to find unexpected new friends in a country far from home during a time of trouble.  God has been so good to us.


An Unexpected Journey

A week ago, I never dreamed I'd be writing a post from Costa Rica.   And the picture I wish I could show you but am not yet able to, would be of my mother sitting up in bed, smiling and only needing a oxygen through a nasal cannula, and of her arriving safely home in Colorado.Hospital Cima landscaping
Instead, I am showing you a photo of the beautiful landscaping outside the front of Hospital Cima in San Jose, Costa Rica.  My mother had traveled to Costa Rica on a Birding trip, which she had been eagerly anticipating for some time.  The majority of the trip went very well and she was able to see many new birds and said that it was beautiful.  Then, just a few days before the end of the trip, she contracted Influenza B and a secondary bacterial infection which has for all practical purposes given her pneumonia on top of the Influenza.  She is in the ICU here at Cima Hospital.  I flew down on Wednesday to be with her and oversee her care and to deal with all the paperwork involved in someone being hospitalized outside of their home country.  It is extensive!  Every two hours, I walk into the hospital past these beautiful plantings and am amazed that the plants I have meagerly grown in my home in the past, can be such glorious plants here in Costa Rica.  They are truly beautiful and lift my spirits daily.

View from my room
The view from my hotel room looks across the construction of a new hotel to the hospital (the yellowish tan buildings).  It is reassuring to be so close that I can walk in less than 5 minutes.  To the right of this, I have a view of the wooded hillsides behind the hospital.  It is lovely.  Truthfully, this is about as much of the city as I have seen so far, and if not for the fact that Spanish is the primary language spoken, it could be almost any American city.

Wall Hanging of Paper pulp
The hotel I am staying in is very modern and has lovely contemporary artworks hung throughout, including this magnificent wall sculpture made of paper pulp!  I am fascinated by it and how organic it is.  I will try to take a close up shot of it at a later time.

Lobby Draperies
My first day here at the hotel, I had to wait for a couple of hours for my room to be ready.  Each time the doors would open and the breeze blew through, these enormous draperies moved in the loveliest manner ~ gently dancing fabric.  It was beautiful.  These are small things, but they have given a lift to my heart.

So many people have gone out of their way to assist me in caring for my mother, and the hospital here is providing excellent care, for which I am deeply grateful.  There have been more headaches of paperwork than I care to expound on here, but the details are coming together now and I am hopeful that as my Mother is able to fight off the infections that are ravaging her at this time, soon we will be able to make the journey home.


Scrapbooking Minimized!

Minimized Scrapbooking
Here is the "After" photo!  I successfully got all my essential scrapbooking supplies down to these items!  It consists of my working mat (very helpful when working on questionable table surfaces), a rolling tote, handled tote and a paper tote. The Die Cut machine fits down inside the rolling tote and the handled tote can sit right on top of it!  Also in the rolling tote is the notebook of die cut templates, packages of page protectors and photo album refills as well as a small paper tote that has larger scraps of paper that are still useable on my scrapbook pages.

 I also kept one 12x12x4" plastic box (not shown) of specialty papers (lovely Japanese papers, mulberry textured papers, a few ephemera items and others) that I use more for art projects and making cards than I do for scrapping.  Since I use these at home, they didn't need to fit into my portable scrap-booking supplies.

Paper Tote
All my 12"x12" paper fit into this paper tote.  (I got rid of all the 8 1/2" x 11" paper as I never seem to use it.) At first, I was going to try and fit all the paper into the rolling tote, as I've been doing.  I had it in a tyvek bag, but it was always a mess and the paper easily damaged and it was hard to find what I needed.  So I found this paper tote box, with a nice carrying handle, and it has hanging folders to keep the papers somewhat seperate.  I divided my folders by neutral basics (black, white, cream and craft), solid colors (mostly Bazill cardstock), and the printed papers, which are sorted by color families or themes.

Top Tray of Paper Tote
The top of the paper tote has a nice little tray ~ perfect for holding the rubber stamps and ink pads that I use the most!

Stamping Minimized
Here are the rubber stamps and ink pads that I kept.  It boiled down nicely to a few basics.  I rarely use rubber stamps on my scrapbook pages, but use them instead when I make cards and art projects.

Embellishing minimized
These items are mostly the convenience items that get used frequently.  I kept just a few basic punches and got rid of all of the odd things like border punches and most of the seasonal punches that I rarely use.  At our local scrapbook store, they have a great assortment of punches, so if I need something, it's a good reason to sign up for a scrapping night!  I also got rid of a huge assortment of embellishments, bling and stickers that seemed to have grown exponentially.  I almost NEVER used them. What I do use comes down to these few items that get used over and over again.  There are a couple of basic supplies in this photo that I use all the time, namely the ruler and the bottle of "Art Glitter glue", which doesn't have glitter in it at all, but is easy to use, dries clear and quickly!  With a fine tip added, I've virtually done away with using any kind of tape.

I kept the QuicKutz Revolution Die Cutting machine and all the assorted templates I've gathered over the past few years.  Love being able to cut out letters and shapes as I need them!  This gets used all the time.  While I know there are newer models and different companies that are all the rage, but this does just the job I need, so why spend more money on the latest model?  I'm quite satisfied with this one!

Scrapping Tools Minimized
Last but not least, these are the basics of my hardworking tools and if I really had to cut down my supplies, with the addition of a bottle of glue, a ruler and a dark brown ink pad, I could actually get away with using just these tools!  Everything else is just there for convenience!

What a great feeling to have finished this big task!  I must admit that it took me longer and was more difficult in some ways than I thought it would be.  It has to do with all the decision making, seeing something, handling it and then having to decide.  But I went with my initial gut reactions and feel pretty good about what I've kept and what I've gotten rid of.  I seriously doubt there will be any regrets!  Now I have boxes of stuff to get rid of, all nicely sorted so people can look through and see what is there.  It should all be gone by the end of this week!

Next up, I'm going to tackle the art supplies.  While doing the scrap-booking supplies, I discovered that many of my art supplies were mixed in, so I have a bit of a head start!

With all this talk about scrapbooking stuff, if you are wondering what scrapbooking I do, I thought I'd show you a quick glimpse of my current projects.
Completed School Year Pages
I've been working on completing albums for each of my kids.  When I originally considered doing this, I thought I'd have to scrapbook every photo I had.  With 4 kids and 20 plus years worth of photos for each one, it was overwhelming!  Needless to say, everything just sat in boxes for the longest time.

Then, this past summer, Stephen asked if we still had any of his pictures from when he was growing up.  That motivated me to get going.   I did a lot of pre-organization (read: sorting through boxes of photos and papers).  I already had most of the photos organized by year.  Then I sorted all the school stuff out by child and then again by year.  I put each year's school photos and papers in a page protector in chronological order and put them in albums.  Each child has a certain color album, which makes it easy to keep track of.  Now it is all organized and easy to see, and should the unimaginable happen, they won't have to dig through boxes of stuff to find their memorabilia from growing up.  Though I sincerely hope to have these completed within the next year or so!

More pre-organization
Once I got organized, it has been easy to make progress.  I've been scrapping just one page for each of their school years and then the photos are going in photo pages chronologically with these.  In back of the grade page, I tuck any memorabilia from that school year, such as report cards, projects we kept, programs from concerts they were in and the like.  I have all of Stephen's school years completed. There are also a few other pages I want to add of special events, such as when Stephen's OM (Odyssey of the Mind) Team went to the OM World Finals!  I still need to get negatives scanned and printed in order to add photos from birth up until the time of our fire.  Though we were able to save many of our photos, most of them have some smoke or water damage.  Thankfully, we were able to save most of the negatives and are only missing about 3 years worth of photos/negatives.  Getting all our negatives scanned is an enormous project, which I'll post about one of these days.

Getting organized to scrap
I have a bit more of Zach's stuff as he was younger when our fire happened.  Such fun to see how the kids have progressed through the years!    Jessie's album is about 1/2 completed, Jonathan and Zach's are organized and ready to scrap.  When completed, I figure they'll each have about 3 or 4 albums apiece.  Once I get theirs completed, I'll work on my own.  I've got my stuff sorted, but not yet placed into page protectors and scrapbooks, though I have most of my photos already in photo sleeves.  All in good time!


Downsizing the Scrapbooking Supplies

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one simple step.  Well, I've been taking baby downsizing steps off and on for a few years now, but the amount of stuff I have seems to keep growing despite my efforts.  I've read lots of books on the subject, but the one that finally seemed to have the practical and psychological advice I needed was The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Lifeby Francine Jay.  I find her method of downsizing to fit my needs very well.

I downsized (or minimized as Ms. Jay calls it)  my bathrooms a few months ago and though I could do them again and probably simplify them still more, I decided to tackle a bigger problem.  Namely, that I have far too much craft and hobby stuff.  While I like having lots of activities, I simply do not have room for all the supplies that have accumulated.  In trying to decide what to simplify, I tried to prioritize my activities.  Though I enjoy scrap-booking, it's near the bottom of my list as far as hobbies go, so that made it a prime candidate for downsizing first, especially since it seems to take up an enormous amount of space!
The Goal
The goal is to have everything I keep fit within the above containers!  This would make it easy to store and keep it easy to transport to the local scrap-booking store for Midnight Madness scrap-booking gatherings, which is really my favorite time to scrapbook.  I rarely do any at home outside of Midnight Madness.  Part of Ms. Jay's method is to remove everything and then only put back what is absolutely necessary.  It's a great opportunity to really think about exactly what I like and use the most.
More Scrapbooking Stuff
Here is part of what I need to go through.  There is SO much stuff here!  Most of it is stuff that hasn't seen the light of day (or Midnight Madness) in ages!

Scrapbooking stuff
And here is still more!  I've gathered it all into one spot so I can see what I have.  From here, I'll put only those items in my preferred containers that I really use and like and the rest I'll be getting rid of!  I already have one person lined up to come peruse my left-overs and I'm sure there will be others!

Pencils, pens, etc.
I minimized my pens and pencils about a year ago to what you see here.  Do I really USE all of these?  Not really, so I think my goal will be to get down to two pencil pots instead of three.

Scrapbook shelves
I'd really like to make this bit of furniture obsolete!  It worked well, but I need to clear out some space in my study/studio space so I can devote more time and space to painting, which is rising back to the top of my priority list!