Archive for February, 2010

As the Winter Olympics come to a close, I have to give one last shout out to a country that has become near and dear to my heart over the last couple of years.  Yes, I have friends from Canada and yes I have enjoyed myself whenever I have crossed our northern border to visit the country.  And although I didn’t know it until about a week ago that I had so much Irish heritage, I know for sure that I’m not Canadian.  It wasn’t until I received an assignment a couple years ago to create a set of rubber stamps for Michaels stores in Canada that I really started paying attention to this vast land.

Michaels Canada wanted Canadian stamps.  What did that mean, exactly?  I wasn’t sure at first.  After some trusty research (or perhaps it was just hearsay), I started compiling a list of what Canada was beyond what I learned years ago from watching the movie Strange Brew.  Maple leaves, of course.  Hockey, of course.  The phrase, “O Canada,” “The Great White North,” and “Eh” kept popping up.  Then there is the plethora of wildlife that seems to be intertwined with the country’s identity – beavers and fish, moose and loons (I wasn’t really sure what those were at first) and a variety of bears.  Throw in some tee-pees and totem poles, forests and snow, and you have a snapshot of Canada.

Since that first set of Canadian stamps, I have created two more sets for Michael’s Canada.  Each time I design a new batch of Canadian icons I think to myself, “How many stamps does a person need with the Canadian flag on it?”  Apparently, a lot…because they keep selling well which means the buyer keeps wanting more.

Now that I have watched the Olympics in Vancouver over the last two weeks, I have found myself with a higher degree of Canadian Pride than I imagined I had.  It’s not my home country, yet somehow I feel like it’s a part of me.  I see the human interest shots and stories of the Games and say, “Hey, they really do like bears there!” or “Wow, those really are what the mounties look like!”  I find myself being unexpectedly and even entertainingly validated as I experience the Olympics with a couple hundred stamp designs under my belt.

I have a stash of Canadian wood-mounted stamps sitting here.  Would you like them?  Leave a comment about why you love Canada in general or something specific about Canada and I’ll pick a random winner on the evening Thursday, March 4 to receive them. You’ll find a wide number of versions of the maple leaf that you probably didn’t know were even possible along with plenty of wildlife and other Canadian icons.  Hey, they are great designs….but since they are an extra set (I always keep a set for myself), they need a home where they will be truly loved and appreciated for what they are.  A piece of the beloved Canada.

I may not have many uses for a stamp that says, “O Canada, our home and native land,” but every time I see these Canadian stamps I have to chuckle with the Canadian Pride that obviously keeps those sales going.  Thank you, Canada!  Thank you for loving your country and for giving me a chance to love it with you!

Canadian stamps rock, eh?

Read Full Post »

LaRee is a new cyberfriend of mine who decided to incorporate the ENT program into her church women’s group just like we are.  I have to hand it to her because she is kind of flying solo on this one with no “committee” to help her execute the program.  I admire her willingness to tackle this project on her own for the sake of her group.

Last week they had their kickoff activity and had 40 women there – which is a remarkable number for their group.  Kudos to you, LaRee!  Here’s how she adapted the night to fit their needs:

  • she found a “jar” of 50 flowers on sale – a variety of colors.  That dictated the color of papers she used for the pockets of the notebook.
  • instead of just making one for every person in their group, she offered a sign-up sheet beforehand.  41 people signed up and she took 8 extra kits with her.  All the kits were all gone by the time the night was over plus she is making another batch of notebooks for those who still want them.  I’m telling you, this thing is addicting!
  • she didn’t have time to put together a slideshow for this event so she is planning on doing it at the end of the year instead.  It will reflect photos of all the women and the activities throughout the year – love it!
  • instead of 3 speakers, she had 2 speakers to introduce the theme and to talk about gratitude.
  • it looks like she had rectangle tables to work with (we pretty much only have round) – I liked how she set them up in a U-shape to bring everyone closer together
  • and, of course, she created beautiful kits where everything looked absolutely perfect!  Who wouldn’t want one of those????

LaRee said, “I was excited about the enthusiasm of our group.  They are excited to have a project with a purpose that they will be able to work on throughout the year.”

Way to go, LaRee!  It’s clear that your hard work and vision has sparked a lot of excitement and energy that these women are thirsting for.  Here are some photos from LaRee’s activity.  I put the picture of the women working on their books as the largest one for a reason – I love seeing women and friends working together on something that I know will enrich their lives.  There is a great sense of sisterhood that comes from experiences like these.

This principle is often true in our lives.  We get so busy with all of the things that make up daily life that it’s hard to find time to focus on refilling our buckets with the things that are truly needful.  I think this is why the ENT program is connecting with so many people in so many different circumstances – it rings true to everyone.

Thanks for the photos, LaRee and for the ideas of how you adapted this program to fit your needs.  I know that others will take tidbits from what is shared here to make things work for them.  If you aren’t doing this with a group, please email me your thoughts of how you are adapting it for yourself, too.  I know that many of you are following along with us as individuals and we would love to hear what you are doing to incorporate this program into your life.

I wish we were all together in person right now…I feel a group hug coming on.

Read Full Post »

Our next activity for our Every Needful Thing program is on March 11 and I am totally PUMPED about it!  If we could pack more USEFUL, MANAGEABLE and ACCESSIBLE info into an hour and a half then I would be surprised.  I’m giving you the plan because some of you are following along with us as leaders of your own groups and I want to make sure that you have time to plan ahead and make your changes or tweaks according to your own needs. If you are unsure of what we are talking about, click on the “Every Needful Thing” category on the right and start from the earliest post to find out the whole program.  Or you can click here for the initial explanation of the program.

Also, on Friday I will be posting photos and info about how another group has adapted the Kickoff Night to meet their needs so be sure to watch for that.  In the meantime, here’s the lowdown of what is happening the night of our Organization Fair in March (and just click on each of the organizing images in this post to see where I found them).

  • (45 minutes) Time Management Lesson (Planning with a Purpose Strategy lesson + Forum)
  • (45 minutes) Organization Fair + Refreshments

The Time Management lesson will be more of a teaching situation where we learn how to use the Planning with a Purpose method of planning to determine what is needful in how we each spend our time.  I will talk more about this later and give you an in-depth picture of how to easily incorporate Planning with a Purpose in your own life.

The Organization Fair will be set up in a separate room that is off of the kitchen area so it makes it easy to have our refreshments in the same place.  Using articles found on HGTV.com, we have divided our homes and lives into 10 different areas that people tend to need help with organizing ideas. Here are the three articles that we created our categories from:

Quick Tips for Everyday Organization

Your Guide to Lifelong Organization

Quick Tips for Room Organization

We then asked different women in our neighborhood to be in charge of a certain category.  Their job is to set up a small display (we will provide a table about 4’x3′ for each of them) that teaches organizing tips about that particular category.  We gave them a list of some of the things we found from those three articles on HGTV.com but we have no intention of using all the info.  We picked a few things that seemed the most helpful and passed that info along to the women and told them they can add their own ideas.  We’re not writing a book – we’re just giving a few tips.

Each person will be in charge of their table – the covering and visual display.  We have also asked them to come up with 5-7 tips that can help people with each area.  These tips will be put on a half sheet of paper and two-hole punched so that they will fit perfectly in our notebooks.  The idea is that the women can grab some finger-food refreshments then walk around to the 10 displays and pick up the handout for each display.

Some of the displays will be done by teams of women and some will be done as singles.  Overall, the 10 displays will incorporate the help and ideas of 13 different women in our neighborhood – which we LOVE!  I can’t wait to see what people come up with as easy ways to organize each area of their lives.

Here are the categories that we will have in our Organization Fair:

  1. Organizing when you have a few minutes (such as while the popcorn is popping, the water is boiling or you’re on the phone)
  2. Organizing the kitchen
  3. Organizing the bathroom
  4. Organizing the family room and bedrooms
  5. Organizing while waiting (such as waiting in line or for carpool or at the doctor’s office)
  6. Family councils and family calendaring
  7. Pantry and freezer organization
  8. General organization strategies (start small, donate, etc.)
  9. Meal planning (we will be going more in depth with this topic in April)
  10. Early morning organization (school kids) and homework

There you go.  We are not looking to conquer the world with this Organization Fair – we want doable ideas that can be used immediately.  We’re not going to talk about overhauling your garage or basement or cleaning out your attic.  That’s too much information.  We want to help people be successful right now and so instead of overwhelming them with too much info, we are keeping it simple with just a few tips per area.

This activity will definitely be a good one for photo opps so I will be sure to post them afterward.  I will also share the tips that each person has given us for their particular category so that you can put them in your notebook and incorporate them into your life as well.

When my nephew Kaden met his cousin Cole for the first time last year he said, “Cole is going to be a great kid.  I can just sense it.”  That’s how I feel about this Organization Fair activity.  It’s going to be a great night.  I can just sense it.

Read Full Post »

We had a neighborhood cooking class at my house last week.  O-Hsaing is from Taiwan and an amazing cook.  I was told that the Beef Asparagus was to die for and that is totally the truth.  Her “recipes” include a little of this and a dash of that combined with a handful of another thing…all demonstrated at a whirlwind pace and communicated to the group by Liz, O-Hsaing’s impromptu and delightful assistant.

This particular hostess (me) learned a lot about chopping, chopping, chopping beforehand but did not get to focus enough during the fabulous event to write down the instructions.  I’m counting on someone more adept in the kitchen making it all for me again sometime!  Instead, I remained amazed at the process and feasted on the end results – Lo Mein, Fried Rice, Pepper Beef, Teriyaki Chicken and the beloved Beef Asparagus – enough to feed an army.

So that’s what I will do for you today – no cooking but you can feast upon this delicious quote that applies to all things yummy.  I am a firm believer that eating is definitely “needful” and enjoying yourself in the process is even more needful.


Read Full Post »

Fighting Television

We all know that there is a plethora of television shows for kids out there – all at varying levels on the “educational” meter.  Throw in whatever cable you have and the choice becomes overwhelming, and to be honest, quite overbearing for me.  Maybe you are a daytime, nighttime or anytime television watcher or perhaps you don’t even own a TV.  Whatever is your preference is fine in my book.  If you remove hurrying home for lunch during high school to watch Days of Our Lives, I have never been a fan of watching TV during the daytime simply because it’s the wrong kind of noise for me.  I prefer having music on instead.

So, while the late afternoon comes with the normal crankiness that seems to be a part of every child’s disposition as it gets closer to bedtime, I have turned on the television every so often for Cole to watch a half hour of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  It got me thinking, though.  Since I’m not a huge fan of television shows on during the day, how could I help us all get through the early evening hours a little easier without Mickey and his friends?

I decided to make Cole his own slideshow using iMovie because home movies truly are the ultimate “family channel.”  I simply took all of the photos from the last year and put them in an order of my choosing (it was easiest for me to just do it chronologically because that is how they are stored but it doesn’t matter the order).  Then I added some songs and left it at that.  I decided to use some of my favorite music that I wouldn’t mind listening to all the time.  Finally, when I converted it to a DVD, I used some instrumental music for the playback area (the “title” part that a DVD goes to when it begins or when it’s over).  If I don’t turn it off immediately then the instrumental music is nice to have playing in the background at home.

Here is my list of music that I used:

  • Everything by Michael Buble’
  • Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson
  • Fallin’ For You by Colbie Cailat
  • 1,2,3,4 by Plain White T’s
  • Wonderful by Gary Go
  • Our Kind of Love by Lady Antebellum
  • Fireflies by Owl City
  • Sweet Pea by Amos Lee
  • Never Let You Go by Colbie Cailat
  • Main Titles (Emma) by Rachel Portman (instrumental from the Emma soundtrack – used for the playback screen)

Seeing the list of songs, you’re probably wondering how long this slideshow is.  It’s 33 minutes – about the same length of one television show.  Cole likes to sit and watch his video and drink his sippy cup or sometimes he will play with his toys or dance while he watches.  He doesn’t stay focused for the whole thing but he now knows when he hears the first song that his movie is coming.  It settles him down and makes him happy.  And Mom is happy knowing that he’s entertained but watching pictures of himself and his family instead of a television show.  Of course, we can also do the same thing with all of the video we have taken of him but this was easier so that’s why I chose to just stick with the photos.

I may not be big on watching television during the day but one thing is for sure, it doesn’t take Sweeps Week or ratings to tell me what the most popular thing to watch at the Hall house is.   I love home movies and I love Channel Cole.

Read Full Post »

Download Day Follow Up

OK, so maybe I AM Irish….


You have Coleman Irish, Barrett Irish, and Parker Irish on my side.

Throw in Irish on your Mom’s side and you could do the St. Patrick’s day parade all on your own!

– Dad

Good thing I did two versions of the download.  Thanks for the info, Dad – I definitely should have known that but now it’s solidified in my brain!

XOXO to my leprechaun Mom & Dad,


Read Full Post »

Now that Valentines is hours behind us, let’s look ahead and celebrate the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day with a new download for our holiday frames.  I’m not Irish.  OK, wait….I take that back.  I think I might have some Irish blood in me from generations back on my father’s side.  I’ll have to check that with Dad.  Actually…Mom?  Since I know you will read this, I’m sure you will tell me one way or another if I do in fact, have some shamrock green in my family tree.  I await your reply.

But whether you are full-blooded Irish or simply love St. Patrick’s Day (which I know a lot of people really do), then this download has something for all of us no matter where you fall on the leprechaun spectrum.  The downloads will fit into your holiday frames so display a little Luck ‘O the Irish this month as we eagerly await March 17th.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »