Friday, January 19, 2018

Best of AGT: 6 Signs your Teacher Friend is Back to School!

This post was first published in 2016.  The links and freebies are all still available, which is awesome!  ALL 6 signs are still relevant.  My eye is twitching, so I will see you next week! 

The Aussie Teachers are all back to school this week.  Here are some signs that your teacher friends might need some help with the transition (or at least a little compassion) from the rest of the world. 

How to Know your Teacher Friend is Back to School!

  1. That twitch under her eye, which you haven’t seen in 6 weeks, is back!

  2. You go shopping for clothes and she drags you to the discount spot for stationery supplies!

  3. She asks you over for coffee and you end up labelling classroom items.

  4. Her freezer is full of pre-cooked meals ready to microwave at a moment’s notice.

  5. She keeps practicing her attention-getting signal on you…

    e.g. “I’m on the talking spot!”   “Give me eyes and ears everyone!”  “Hocus Pocus -- everybody focus!" 

  6. She bought 3 new pairs of comfortable shoes. 

Be nice to your teacher friends this week, everyone. They are super busy (which is like regular busy, but they’re wearing a cape under their work clothes). 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cards for 2018 and planning ahead

I have been hand-making cards for a few years and I got very serious about it in 2017.  I started buying good quality stamps and dies.  I also started blog hopping and watching videos on YouTube so I could learn new techniques.  This year, I want to continue sharing my creations with you and in order to do this, I have big plans.  You ready?

Each month, I will publish at least one post about cards and card making.  You will get to see cards I have made and I will let you know where I learned things and where to find more inspiration.  I hope you enjoy it.  Leave comments to tell me what type of cards you want to see.  

We all need birthday cards, right? Birthday cards and Thank you cards are the ones I make the most! Last year, I tried to stay ahead of the curve by making all the cards I would need at the beginning of each month.  This was a bit tricky in the first half of the year, as there are lots of birthdays in our family between January and June!  This year, I have a plan. Every month, here at AGT, I will post at least one birthday card, along with the other cards that I have made.  

So, let's get into it... My favourite Birthday cards for January! 

Card #1: Balloon Hooray for you

This card used a sneaky technique for the background.  I tried masking! This is done by using masking paper.  You can purchase masking paper online or make your own from copy paper and two-way glue or temporary adhesive.  In a pinch (if you are really careful) it's possible to do the masking technique without the adhesive, just use the copy paper and when blending or stamping hold down your paper very carefully! I die cut the copy paper with my largest stitched rectangle die and, working with the negative (the frame that is created when you cut out a rectangle), used a 2 way glue pen to make it sticky on one side.  Then I stuck it on my card panel and blended "Summer Sky" Memento ink into the rectangle space.  Doesn't it look like a pretty blue sky behind those balloons.  If you don't have ink blending tools or you want to save time, you could simply die cut a rectangle from some light blue card stock to create a similar look.  By blending, I had more control over the background colour and it reduced the bulk of the card, which was important with all the other elements that were stuck on instead of stamped.  I used a 1.5" circle punch to make the balloons out of textured card stock.  I made another card like this, but  I used a bigger circle punch and used embossing folders on some of the balloons to add interest.  The bakers twine that I used was a bit thick and if I did another card, I would use thinner twine or string.  The sentiment came from a set by Avery Elle called "Simply Said".

Card #2 You're Pawsome!

I love this card so much I almost don't want to give it away!  This was my first attempt at water colouring a stamped image on watercolour paper and die cutting it using a stitched circle die.  I stamped it a little close to the edge of the paper, so it didn't quite make a full circle.  The way the circle goes off the page works though!  :) I mixed the sentiment by using stamps from some random stamp sets.  I don't know what they were called.  SORRY!  The cat is a Sullivans Clear Stamps- Cat stamp.  I embellished with clear sequins (which look pink!) and pink bakers twine.  This twine is a much better thickness.  :) Did I mention that I love this card!?!! I'm so happy with how it turned out!!

Card #3: Messy Happy Birthday

I stamped the Texture Retro stamp by Kaisercraft twice to create the background on the card panel (Rich Cocoa Memento ink).  The Sentiment was stamped using Tuxedo Black Memento ink.  The sentiment stamp was from a random $2 set I found in a discount store.  It had no name.  After stamping the sentiment on scrap paper, I used an ink blending tool and green ink from Kaiser craft to add some subtle colour and then tore around the edge. I found the white edges looked strange against the creamy coloured card stock the background was stamped on, so I blended some black ink around the edges.  I used the Texture Stains clear stamp set from Kaisercraft and stamped it repeatedly around the edge of the card base, using second generation stamping as well.  I used Memento colours: Rich Cocoa, Potters Clay and Tuxedo Black.  I then added a few third generation impressions of the grunge spots stamp on the sentiment strip as well before assembling the card.  Check out the products by clicking the links above.  

Card #4 Happy Birthday Circle Striped

This card was so simple and could be mass produced really easily.  I cut the striped patterned paper to 3.5" x 4.5" and die cut a strip of blue card stock with the tiny scallop edge.  The sentiment from HB2U from Sugar Pea Designs, was stamped in Memento: Tuxedo Black Ink.  The star stamps were from the You Did It stamp set by Catherine Pooler Designs.  Aren't they cute?! Then I die cut around the sentiment using a stitched circle die.  See what I mean about easily mass producible.  I will have to make some more of these, I think!

That's all from me today!  I hope that seeing these cards gives you ideas for your own handmade creations.  I want to encourage you to look at what you have at home and see what you can make or do with what you have.  :)

FYI: Where products have been linked to, I don't get any gifts or compensation based on your purchases or my comments.  These are simply products I have purchased and have used and I want to acknowledge the creators.  

Next Week: a flashback post for Back to School!

Friday, January 5, 2018

2018: New Year, New Goals, New Approach

My overarching goal/ vision (I'll wait while you roll your eyes).

In 2018 I will be the healthiest and happiest version of myself by making good choices for my body, my soul, my mind and my relationships. I will do my best with what I have and be grateful for abundant blessings. 

That all sounds very well, but it is a bit wishy washy.  I thought it might be helpful to have this broad "vision" and shape my goals around it, so using what I have written above, let's get down to business.  Let's start with a few questions... you might want to ask yourself these questions if you are in the process of setting your own goals for the year.

1. What does the Healthiest and Happiest version of me look like?

This is a tough question for me. This question is deeply personal because it isn't about what other people think is beautiful or happy or healthy.  It might be difficult to quantify, but for the purposes of goal setting, we need to. From experience I know that I am happiest and healthiest when:
  • I have a regular sleep pattern, including a calming bed time routine.
  • I eat a protein packed breakfast and small meals for the rest of the day. 
  • I drink at least 2L of water everyday.
  • I study my Bible and Pray everyday.
  • I weigh about 15-20 kg less than I do now.  
  • I stretch.
  • I rest and relax everyday - this means taking a break from work/ meeting the needs of others.
  • I enjoy spending time with family and friends (i.e., I make time for them and I am totally in the "moment" that I have allocated to them).
  • I have ways to be creative. 
  • I am able to give generously to organisations/ projects that educate, protect and/or care for children in need. 

2. Knowing what the best version of me is, what do I need to do to achieve that?

I think there are plenty of things listed above that could be repeated in this list, however I am going to narrow it down to a few things.  I am also going to space out my goals this time.  Focusing on just one or two things at a time so that I am more likely to form good habits. 

  • Prioritise my evening routine and sleep pattern.
  • Stop drinking soft drinks.  I gave up ice cream (except for special occasions) last year and I am 3 days into my soft drink fast. I can do this! It's easier to drink 2L of water everyday if you reduce the amount of other fluids you put into your body!  This will also help me to lose a bit of weight. 
  • Complete a Bible activity and Pray everyday. 
  • Stretch. 
That's it for now. 

Later this year, I plan to: 

  • Donate to two-three overseas mission projects.
  • Set up a 'space' in my home where I can easily relax and/or be creative. 
  • Set up and Start meal planning that helps me to ensure I eat enough protein each morning. 

3. How will I know that I have reached my goals?

  • I will be sleeping regularly and well.  I will feel less tired. 
  • I will be easily drinking 2L of water everyday and not craving soft drinks.
  • My tracking app will show that I have read my Bible for 30 days in a row. 
  • I will be 4kg lighter by the end May 2018.
  • My tracking app will show that I have stretched everyday for 30 days in a row.  

That's that for now.  I will tell you more in February.  If my new approach isn't working so well, I may tweak it a bit more until I find a better way.  Next week, I will be sharing some of my card crafting with you.  I have some plans in that regard too! You will just have to wait and see.  

Happy New Year, My Friends! 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

7102 - 2017 in the mirror (or reflecting on this year)

Well, the end is near.  The end of the year, that is.

I like to reflect on everything that has happened this year.

Quite a lot has happened this year!!

I started the year feeling positive, but uncertain.  The first days of 2017 were strange and feel like they were a lifetime ago.  This past year, I have seen things, learned new things and grown so much.  I have grown up a bit... sad.

8 January 2017: my Dad went to heaven.  He had already outlived the doctors' predictions by more than 6 months.  Typically stubborn.  It was a warm Sunday morning.  I cried and kissed him.  My mother, my aunty and my sister were in the room too.

18 January 2017: we celebrated Dad's life and gave him quite a send off.  I was so blessed by the love and care and wonderful stories people told me.  He touched lives.  It was a good day.

February: I returned to work and struggled with the change of pace.  I survived.  I planned a 13th Birthday party (NERF themed) and it was kind of cool.  Check out this Pinterest Board to see what inspired me.

March: Another party, which was for my niece who turned 5.  There was an 'art' theme with face painting, bubbles, play dough, poster painting and party games.  Click here to read more about how to plan your own Art Themed party.  We also got some difficult news about family struggling with a mental health issue.  Sometimes loving someone is hard work.

April: My first holiday in more than 10 years!  Good for me!   I went to Adelaide all by myself.  It was glorious and I can't wait to go on my next solo adventure! Yes, there are lots of exclamation marks because I want you to understand how sincere I am.

May: My uncle died suddenly.  He went to Heaven too.  There were many comments along the lines of Dad wanting Uncle to keep him company.  They were good mates.  I miss them both.

June: Planned and executed an EPIC Jurassic World Party!  While the whole thing was exhausting and a bit stressful, seeing the smile on my nephew's face was priceless.  He turned 10 and he had a blast.  His friends had fun too.

July: HOLIDAYS!  An aunty came to visit and we spent some time crafting together.  She got me hooked on craft stuff!!!! I am so grateful for her guidance and generosity.  We also celebrated Aunties Day! Go Me!

August: Back to school.  Mum's birthday.  Busy... not sure why?

September: count down to holidays... planning fun for the future.  It was Mum and Dad's 40th wedding anniversary.  We had an interesting weekend.

October: Family!! Mum and I went to Sydney to attend a surprise party for my Uncle and Aunty.  It was nice to attend a party without having to organise anything but myself.  Phew.  That was fun.  We went to the Gold Coast for a weekend during October too.  We caught up with friends and family and that was great.

November: I spent most of November counting down to the school holidays!  All I remember is being tired.  I was late for a couple of posts... but I got there eventually.

December: Dad's birthday was on 07/12 and we celebrated by eating ice cream.  It reminded me how much I missed him.  Also made me realise how many happy memories I have of Dad and ice cream!!! Then there was my birthday and Christmas and more family gatherings.

I made lots of cards this year.
Check them out here...

I added to the How to Be a Carer 'tag' here at AGT.

I set some goals and I reached most of them (check them out here).

What have I learned this year?

I'm not perfect and life isn't perfect and that is what makes us both beautiful!
I love making cards!
I can do almost anything if I really want to do it.  I might need to do it a bit differently so that it works for me, but it's worth the effort.
Life goes on.
Family and Friends are important!
I like spending time with adults... especially older people.
I love to learn!
I need to be quiet.  More on this one next year.
My Mum is amazing.
My Sister is a marvel.
Growth/ Progress comes from small yet consistent choices that we make everyday.

That's that for 2017.  I hope you take some time before Monday (2018) to think about the year that has just passed and start looking towards the year ahead.  I can't wait to see what happens next year! I think it's going to be AWESOME!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Kicking Goals!

It's almost New Year's Eve. I can't believe it was a whole year ago that I set these goals for myself. Let's review for the last time this year.  

This Year, 2017, I will…

Quit… eating because I’m bored, sad, angry, frustrated or confused.

I'm doing very well with this goal. Unfortunately, I think I will have to keep up the habit of considering my emotions before heading for the fridge.  On the bright side, I am more mindful of how I am feeling and I am choosing to deal with my emotions in more productive ways such as exercising, doing craft, or finding another outlet.  I am starting to notice how often people around me claim that they "need" the chocolate cake to help them through an emotional time.  Interesting!  

Eat…   three balanced meals and two snacks at least 6 days a week. 

While I have been working on this.... I am not so happy with how I have done with this goal this year.  3 balanced meals and 2 snacks 6 days a week feels really hard sometimes.  When I don't snack I think I'm doing well, only that usually gets me into such a mess that I don't eat a balanced meal.  This one will have to carry over to next year.   

Start… exercising for 30 minutes, at least 4 times a week.

Oh Dear.... this one hasn't been going so well at all!  Next year we will try again.  Perhaps I need to look at this goal again and make a plan for meeting it.  

Visit… family and/or friends once a month.

I totally nailed it! This year, I have visited with family from all over and spent time with friends as well.  I have made time for family and friends when they were in town.  I have made the effort to catch up with teacher friends who work at different schools now.  I have also been sending messages and cards to friends and family who I can't "visit".  Now that I don't HAVE to stay home and be responsible for another person, I need to appreciate it!  I want to continue doing this next year.  I have found such comfort and joy in spending time with those I love.  I am also appreciating the good times I can have with these people while we are all still alive and well enough to enjoy each others' company. 

Accept… that I cannot fix everything.  

Yep... everyday! That is... I remind myself of this everyday.  I accept it everyday.  I give it to God and accept that He is in control.  I have to do that, every single day! 

See…    Melbourne in real life/ Capital Cities.

I'm working on it... this goal kind of changed over the year.  I kind of moved the goal posts.  I saw Adelaide!  I am planning to visit two more of Australia's capital cities next year! :) 

Learn… at least 12 scripture passages by heart. 

Let's See: Scripture Verses learned so far

Psalm 4:8
Psalm 23
Psalm 32:7-8
Psalm 90:12
Proverbs 3:5-6
Proverbs 18:10
Matthew 11:28
John 3:30
Romans 8:18
Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians 4:29
Ephesians 4:32
Philippians 2:13
Philippians 4:19
Colossians 1:11
Colossians 3:15
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Hebrews 10:14
Therefore, I'm on track! I'm Loving my memorisation app!  I know that most of these are single verses instead of passages.  I was struggling with some of the passages of scripture.  I decided to work on single verses and tackle longer passages next year.  I have the Beatitudes all set up to start working on them come January 1. 

Give… to Christian Missions overseas and in Australia (12 times or once a month).

I have been continuing with my regular monthly sponsorship of a day care centre overseas.  I have also donated to: the chaplaincy program in local high schools, an orphanage in Cambodia, a health and medical program for ministers in remote areas of Indonesia, and the Salvo's self-denial appeal for Christian Missions in several countries around the world.  I am happy that I have reached this goal.  I am excited that I am able to make a positive difference in the world.  It wasn't even that difficult.  I am looking for more projects to support next year.  

Be…   Quiet

Hhhmmm. I am managing to spend time alone and be quiet.  Perhaps I need to do this more when I'm with others.  You know... I need to keep things to myself when what I want to say isn't helpful.  There is a bible verse I'm working on memorising that goes well with this goal.  The more I look into "being quiet" the more practice I need!  

Grow… spiritually by reading my Bible 5-7 times a week and attending church at least 3 times each month.

I have not attended church 3 times every month this year.  I have been reading my Bible much more often than in previous years. If you count all the times I sat down and read my Bible (at home and alone), it would round out to 4-5 days each week. I have certainly grown spiritually this year as I have worked towards reaching this goal.  My memorisation goal has also helped me to grow spiritually.  There are moments when I am blown away by how much I have grown this year.  That growth is having a huge impact on every other aspect of my life.  I'm declaring this goal reached... because I have grown.  

Invest… in reaching these goals.

Okay, so some goals have been invested in more than others.   I think, the main reason is that some of them yielded return much faster than others.  Some goals are easier too!  

My goal setting plan for next year is to continue with some of these goals as they are and reset them.  I will be setting some new goals and I will be tweaking up some of the goals I have here with the hope of succeeding next time.  I'm really happy that I set these goals almost 12 months ago.  I'm a bit disappointed with some of the things mentioned above.  On the other hand, I'm over the moon with what I have achieved.  

I don't know what 2018 will bring.  I do know, that I can't wait to find out! :) 

Tune in during January to find out about my new goals.  If you are thinking about 2017 and wanting to plan for success in 2018, you might like to check out this.  

Count Down to 2018 is on!!