Monday, October 12, 2009

W470 Oakwood Beach Road

I've drafted this post about 5 times so far, and can't really figure out what it's supposed to be about. I guess it's about seeing my BFF for the first time in over 4 years, along with a whole bunch of people who shaped my life over 25 years ago. It's about landmarks, memories and feelings.

Mostly it's about going home, and what home means.

I haven't lived there in 22 years. My parents moved away in their separate directions a few years later. But I grew up in this little community of twin towns, one in Michigan and the other in Wisconsin, separated by a river that's spanned by three bridges. Total population? Probably about 25,000 combined.

I feel like a squatter...calling this place home...especially since, until recently, I spent every minute of every day in my adult life after I moved away trying to not be from there.

A friend told me that our old house is for sale.

The years I lived in that house are so woven into the fibers of my being that I couldn't hold back tears when I looked at the photos in the online listing.

I took pre-prom, pre-homecoming and every other special occasion photo in front of the fireplace. My beloved piano made its home across the room.

The kitchen was host to many late night gatherings of friends...solving the problems of our teenage world with passionate idealism, silliness, and above all else, a deep sense of connection with one another.

I wanted to jump through the monitor and write a check for it that very minute.

I'll have to settle for a quick look from the outside, or, if the listing agent feels like indulging me (she was a very close family friend for many years), I might survive a short tour without dissolving into a puddle in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Although recent owners have made many beautiful updates, the memories still resonate from within the home's fancy new look.

Oh, the memories.

I haven't been to a single one of my class reunions.

Most of the tight-knit class I graduated with were not interested in keeping in touch with me and my I'm-not-from-here attitude.

But I'm going back this weekend. Hat in hand, with grace in hopefully every step, to embrace where I'm from.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Mr. O and I both grew up in families that revered the pursuit of The Official Holiday Family Photo. It was the annual quest to capture a moment in time...a perfect moment in time, one that would let friends and family afar know that things were completely happy and under control.

Success meant that the end result looked effortless and candid.

Behind the scenes, though, was a carefully guarded secret.

Getting two kids -- two boys in Mr. O's family and two girls in mine -- to get in place must have worn nerves thin. My mom absolutely dreaded the day set aside to do this. I always wondered why that was.

In my family, our pets appeared in the photo about every third year. I always wondered why that was.

Most years we'd go to a studio somewhere. Choosing a background was the most stressful part -- then the photographer would set up stools, arrange us by height, and take a dozen shots from which we could pick the winner. Done.

I think there were a few years when we tackled the project outdoors somewhere, but that was the exception and not the rule. I always wondered why that was.

I'm pretty sure that there were more than a handful of shots that were good...if it weren't for the kids goofing off.

And, really? It was probably one of the outtakes that truly captured our family's personality.

But it was always that perfect moment that the rest of the world would see.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

My addiction has a name. And it's not O-S-C-A-R.

It's P-A-P-E-R.

I know I sound like a broken record (is that colloquialism even meaningful anymore? Should I say a skipping CD?), but I l.o.v.e. my job. L.O.V.E.

I also love the color green. A seemingly random factoid completely unrelated to loving my job, but it will make sense as you scroll down. Trust me and hang on for the ride.

Back to my job. Paper and card-making, buttons and ribbon, these are a few of my favorite things...I was over the moon to find out that there is a day set aside each year just to celebrate how they come together to connect paper crafters all around the world. No kidding. It's called World Card Making Day.

Last year I used World Card Making Day to start getting organized, since I had only started my job about 5 weeks beforehand and had to get back into the swing of making cards. I had lots of stuff from my 18 year history in stamping, but almost all of it was.....well, uh, purgeable.

I'm an editor. I make up words sometimes.

So I swooped in on the room in the house that had the most potential: our living room/office/piano room.

Disaster, no? I had some of my stuff just piled in boxes to keep it out of sight, but a lot of it was downstairs in safekeeping. So I started bringing it up bit by bit.

At the end of the day (World Card Making Day...the motivation for this little transformation), I had a nice little workspace with plenty of room to grow.

I was happy with my little space -- I could sit and make cards while my daughter played the piano or used the computer in the office space adjacent to my crafting area.

And then my stash started to grow.

This addiction dream job of mine, you know.

It grew.

And grew.

And GREWsome more.

It didn't fit in my cute little space anymore.

Besides, the builder-beige on the walls just wasn't juicing my creativity. I love green. I needed green. Just like my office at work.

So my eight little cubes...

Became 25...uh, little cubes. And the walls got painted green. Shocker, huh?

I love how the new desk set-up works with the piano. It's my great-grandmother's piano, so it's pretty special to me.

Most of all, though, I love that THIS is the vignette I see as I sit at my craft table.

Especially the part of it right here.

Because our family? They're my ultimate inspiration.

Want to know what ISN'T my inspiration?


You may have noticed that in my little craft area expansion (if I keep telling myself my craft area is little, I might just fool myself into thinking I still need to build my stash) involved swapping sides of the room.

Which meant that the ugly office could become....

...kind of a pretty office! I actually like to sit there and pay bills now.

Really though? The best part of this whole project is knowing where to find everything, then sitting down to get creative, and coming up with a few things that make me smile.

I had a blast with Cosmo Cricket's new Earth Love collection when I did this one.

And I made these invitations for a Minnie Mouse-inspired 2nd birthday party for a friend's daughter:

And as if that channeling of my inner girly girl (buried deep, believe me) wasn't enough for my husband to feel my forehead, I also made a card and shadow box for a friend and her brand new baby girl.

When I look back over the past year, from World Card Making Day 2008 to World Card Making Day 2009, it sure does make a meaningful set of bookends to an even more meaningful 12 months.

I hope everyone who is celebrating WCMD 2009 will find creativity, connectivity and collectivity in doing something you love.

And if you're not into card making yourself, you can be sure that you'll be getting one from me in the very near future. Because my stash is, well...not so little, and now I'm all organized.

Until next year, anyway, when I bust out a wall and take over the dining room too.

For real.