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Archive for January, 2010

I went shopping the other day and saw the aisles of pink and red valentines, ready to fill your child’s box at school.  Since I believe we are never too old for a valentine – here is a download for you to use in your holiday frame or to make valentine cards of your own.  Or better yet – give someone a framed valentine and teach them how to change out the image on Download Day.

So many possibilities.

Enjoy!

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I will go into more detail about each activity we have planned throughout the year but here is an overall list of what we are going to be focusing on as well journey along our quest for “Every Needful Thing.”  One thing is for sure, we cannot cover everything that is possible so we are choosing the most needful things and working on those.  If this gets carried over into next year, we’ll tackle some more topics.

As has been commented already, this theme is very open-ended.  It can be taken many different directions, according to what you want to have happen.  We are going to work on increasing our “life management” skills because that is what our group seems to need right now.  You will see that reflected in our plans for the year:

  • “Every Needful Thing” Kickoff Night
  • Organization Fair (time management, cleaning tips, simple organizing ideas)
  • Favorite Things Dinner (celebrating each other and what is needful in our lives)
  • Pantry Meal Kits (learning and creating meals from items you have on hand)
  • Book Club Melting Pot (individuals read a life management book of their choice and share ideas from them)
  • Girls Night Out (dinner at a restaurant – we all need fun and food)
  • Cannery (dry pack canning and food storage)
  • Recipe Exchange (easy freezer meals, crock-pot recipes or other simple meals)
  • Every Needful Thing” Craft Day (making projects that support our theme and can be used for Christmas gifts, etc.)
  • “Year in Review” Night (photo and memory management + learning how to make a “Year in Review” photo book, review the things we learned this year)

Kickoff Activity

So let’s talk about our first activity: “Every Needful Thing” Kickoff Night.  It will be held January 27 and we have a lot planned for the hour and a half.  Here’s the rundown of what is happening:

  1. theme introduction (talk from the president of our group)
  2. slideshow of all the women (songs: “Smile” by Uncle Kracker and “Daughter of a King” by Jenny Phillips)
  3. “how to use the holy spirit to help us determine what is needful” (talk from one of the women in our group)
  4. “how gratitude helps us decide what is needful in our lives” (talk from one of the women in our group)
  5. notebook introduction (discuss activities for the year, the gratitude journal and purpose of the notebook)
  6. notebook instruction (putting together their own notebooks that we have kitted for them)
  7. dessert (we’ll bring that out while they are finishing their books – socializing and eating…a perfect combination!)

I’ll share photos and more information from the activity after we have it.  In the meantime, I better do my part of the getting the kits ready!  It’s going to be a fabulous year, everyone. I can’t wait to share all of this plus so much more with you.

Enjoy!

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Step by Step

This is a winding road in Park City, Utah.  It goes in a loop around my in-laws home and is mostly uphill.  It is exactly 3 miles and now it is covered in snow.

I ran this loop over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Twice.  With the hills and the higher altitude, it was hard.  I had been running 3 miles about three times a week up to that point but this was a tough one for me.  But I did it.  And miraculously, when I returned home and did my normal 3 mile run it seemed almost easy.  The next time I ran I did 5 miles.

Then I made a decision.  I signed up for a half marathon in May.  Wait…did I just say that?  Yes.  I signed up for a half marathon.  I can’t believe that I have actually paid good money to run 13.1 miles.  True, you get a t-shirt – but come on….is it really worth four and a half months of work?  I seem to remember, not so long ago, being shocked when Jim at Jim’s Gym challenged me to run a 5K.  That’s just over 3 miles.  I run a 10K on a regular basis around my neighborhood these days.  How did that happen?

I come back to running the loop in Park City.  True, it was the same distance that I had been running for a few weeks before, but something changed after those runs.  Because they were more difficult to do, because of the hills and higher altitude, it pushed me to do more than what I was used to.  This allowed me to break through the 3-mile barrier that I was up against.  All because I had to work a little harder.

Now I’m on my way to 13.1 miles.  I am up to 8.1 miles on my long run each week and I still take it slowly.  I’m working on increasing my pace from an 11 minute mile to a 10 minute mile.  But I have four months to do it.  The first 3 miles are still the hardest, then I get into a rhythm and it becomes easier.  Mile 7 seems to be the easiest, amazingly enough.  I have always heard runners say things like that and I never believed them.  Now I am the one saying the same things.  I’m shocked at myself, if you want to know the truth.  I never imagined being able to understand what it felt like to have this particular goal and believe I could actually accomplish it.

You all know how I started at rock bottom when it comes to exercising (click here if you want to see how it all began).  I couldn’t run a half mile, much less a half marathon!  Now, four and a half months later, I feel like I can do this.  Thank you for your encouragement along the way.  I am proof that anyone can do this.  Step by step, it’s possible to accomplish something that might seem impossible at first.

So, a new countdown begins and the goal is 13.1 miles on May 15.  Here I go!

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I spend a lot of time in my home office.  It is at the front of our home and I like looking out the window at our neighborhood.  Cole can easily reach this window and I have found him looking out of it a lot as well.

It stands to reason, since this is my view for the majority of my day, that I would find many things out my office window to photograph.  The snowplow that actually came into our cul-de-sac for the first time since we’ve lived here (hooray!), the Christmas tree waiting to go to the dump in our neighbor’s trailer, two neighbor kids using our paver pathway to walk along and play.  Daily life happens right outside my window.

We have had a lot of fog over the last couple of weeks.  It makes the air smoggy as well and we can’t wait for a little wind or a storm to blow it all out of the valley and give us our fresh, clean blue skies.  When I go out for a run I come back smelling like a diesel truck and even have to wash my hat in order to get rid of the smell.  Gross.  I can’t wait for fresh air.

One of my favorite photos in my Project 365 book, however, was taken on a foggy day, through my office window.  I see this picture all winter long when I sit at my computer and just glance to my right.  Then I see the same view without the snow all summer long.  This particular day it seemed so beautiful to me, with the fog and haziness.  I think I captured the essence of the scene with this photo.

This is what I love about Project 365 – the freedom to take photos that might seem random but are the bits and pieces of our lives.  For our Download Day, I’m giving you something wintery,  just like the scene outside my window.  You can craft while you stoke up the fire and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate.

Enjoy!

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I know that you are wondering what the final journaling block in each notebook is for (click here for more info on the ENT notebooks).  I love personalizing things.  From the time that I was a teacher, I have always believed that there is power in a name.  Everyone loves something more when their name or initial is on it.  Why do you think we have a collection of the letter “H” in our entryway?  Or various “K”s in my office?  I love monograms and from my experience, so does everyone else.  People have an affection for things that are theirs – including their name or initial.  Adding a name or initial is the easiest way to personalize something and take a “mass produced” project into the realm of individualized.

We are using this principle for our notebooks but taking it a step further.  Here is what we are doing.  The other leaders of our neighborhood Relief Society are helping me to write a personal note to each woman in our group.  We have divided up the list and will have the notes to hand out at our first activity where the women are putting together their notebooks.  I love this part of the project – it takes time to write personal notes but I can’t think of a more meaningful way to let each individual know of their personal worth.  It’s empowering to read something positive about yourself and to know that someone values who you are.  Then, to have that message in a permanent home inside your notebook so that it can be read and reread?  I can’t think of any better gift we could give each other.

One of my favorite books is Alexandra Stoddard’s, Gift of a Letter.  I read it for the first time years ago and it’s 123 pages have tremendously influenced my views on the power of a handwritten note or letter.  In this day of emailing and texting, facebook and myspace, handwritten notes are hard to come by.  That’s what makes them such a treasure.

Writing and mailing a generous letter is so life-enhancing, so rewarding to the writer and the person receiving it.  Is it better to give than receive?  I like both.  I want it all.  – Alexandra Stoddard

I like both, too.  Therefore, each woman in our group will get a handwritten, personalized note that is meant just for them.  The “generous letter” she mentions in the quote certainly can mean the length of the correspondence.  But to me, I think she was talking about being generous with yourself and your thoughts and your true feelings.  I think she meant generosity in praise and compliments and kindness to the receiver.

It goes back to the download I offered from November (click here).  “Never suppress a generous thought.” – Camilla Kimball.

Here’s to generous letters – taking the time to thank and strengthen and encourage, one by one.

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Now that you have seen all the pieces and parts to our Every Needful Thing notebooks, I wanted to explain why we put each part in the book and what some of our plans are to use the notebooks.  (If you are wondering what I’m talking about, click here for background info or look back at all the posts from the last week.)

Gratitude Journal. You all know what a fan I am of gratitude journals in general but in this case, the reason we put one in each notebook is because we feel like the more grateful we are, the easier it is to sift through what is “needful” in our lives.  When we recognize the things we have, we focus less on the things we don’t have.  So, gratitude becomes a very important tool in determining “what is needful” in all areas of our lives – the things we have, the way we spend our time, the goals we set…everything.

The journal can start at any time – just jot down the date in the little box next to the lines on the paper and you’re ready to go.  Notice how there are very few lines for an entire week – that is on purpose.  Rather than getting bogged down with having to write a lot each day, there is space for something simple.  Maybe a sentence or two, even a phrase or single word will work.  This format for the journal gives each woman flexibility to do what she wants with it.

Quote Envelope. Each month when we have a service project or activity with our women, we will be focusing on a different topic or skill that we feel is helpful to our group.  All will relate to the quote from Doctrine & Covenants that I shared on Monday – especially the part that says, “Organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing…”

After each activity, we will be providing the women with printed quotes (much like my weekly downloads) that they can use to remind and inspire them after the activity.  This envelope is a place to put the quote each month or any quote they gather if they choose.  Our monthly quotes will become a weekly download here on my blog – so don’t worry, you’ll get them, too!

Pockets. Many of the women in our neighborhood are looking for help with time management, organization, easy meal preparation, teaching children how to work, etc.  These are the daily “needful things” that are necessary parts of any woman’s life.  That is primarily what we are focusing on this year – how to figure out what is needful as we manage the ins and outs of our daily lives.

Each month we will provide a list of “tips” for incorporating whatever topic we are discussing into real life.  The tips will come from the women themselves (using the above questionnaire) and will be a list of great ideas for applying the principles we are discussing.  That’s the “Quick Family Tips” section.

Whenever food or refreshments are part of the activity then copies of the recipes will be available so that women can go home and use them.  Since we are trying to increase our knowledge of homemaking skills, this will be a key part in helping women do that.  Hence, the “Recipes” section.

The third pocket is called “Things to Try” and it is a place for handouts about each topic and a place for women to take their own notes regarding the lessons.  Since each person has to decide for themselves “what is needful” for them or their families, this is a place to jot down ideas from each activity that they want to try.  No one is expected to do it all – our goal is to offer a variety of information and let each woman choose what they can and want to incorporate into their individual lives.

Obviously, you can make the pockets into anything you want.  I gave you the same tabs that we are using simply because that is the information that I will be sharing with you over the next months – things that go in those particular pockets.  Feel free to do your own thing, though.

Final Thought For You. This notebook that I have shown you is specifically designed to support the things that we are going to be focusing on throughout 2010.   I am a big believer in being able to look at the big picture or entire vision for something and have all the parts interconnect and relate to each other.  This notebook, although it’s cute and fun to have, serves a greater purpose for us to be able to tie it all together this year.  Although our activities will differ from each other, we won’t be floundering about with random ideas of what to do each month – we have a plan, we have direction, and by thinking about the year as a whole, we have the ability to create a more meaningful experience because it will all be interwoven to create a complete work of art that focuses on our goal.

Tomorrow I will share what we are doing with the final journaling block in the notebook so watch for that.  Next week I will also give you a list of the activities that we have planned for the 2010 “Every Needful Thing” program.  This will give you an idea of where we are headed and what is to come.  Each month, when we have an activity, I will give you more details of what we are doing beforehand and then after the activity, I will share the ideas that we talked about and learned.  I hope you will continue to participate by commenting regularly and contributing your thoughts and ideas as well.

Happy Friday!

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This week I have been sharing a new pseudo-workshop that I am offering here on my blog called “Every Needful Thing.”  If you want to get in the loop then click here or go back through the posts from this week for all the info.

I now get to tell you of my favorite new find in the paper crafting world and what I used for the covers of our Every Needful Thing (ENT) notebooks – BLACK CHIPBOARD.  Now, I know that black chipboard is not new…but an easy way to get it is what is new to me.  You’ll never believe where I found it – in 12″ x 12″ size, no less.  Wal-mart.com.  Yep.  You can get 12″ x 12″ chipboard from walmart.com in black, white (which is only white on one side) and raw (or natural).  It comes in packs of 25 sheets for between $9-$12 per pack.  That makes the sheets less than $.50 each and since you only need one 12″ x 12″ sheet for each notebook then…well, you can do the math.  Seriously good deal.  Good enough to buy a pack to create your notebook now and have the rest on hand for future projects, don’t you think?

Come on, who’s excited with me?!!!!  For those of us crafters who bemoan the availability of just regular chipboard sheets that we can do what we want with, this is quite the find.  No more having to use the backs of notepads to find the treasure of just one chipboard sheet.  And it says the chipboard from walmart.com is “Medium Weight” but I consider it heavyweight.  It is very sturdy (also hard to find) and thick.  Click here to see for yourself!

As far as other supplies are concerned – the flowers are Bazzill Basics Paper brand, along with the ribbon and envelopes.  We purchased the binder rings in bulk from mrlock.com.  Click on the previous links to see what I used.

The patterned paper on the front cover is by 7gypsies but has been discontinued long ago.  I think I might have scrounged up just enough sheets for our group from different internet scrapbook stores so you probably don’t want to waste time looking for it.  Isn’t it great that there are so many yummy paper choices out there, though!  Have fun finding just the right one for you!

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