Friday, January 16, 2009

Online Classes

One of the ways I keep myself inspired in the wintertime is to take some online classes that I can do from my home. Face it, in Colorado you never can tell what the weather will do so I have to be prepared for many hibernation days in the winter months. Sometimes I do them right along with the class and other times, I save the materials and do them at my leisure. Some I have not finished the projects for and some I have completed everything for the class. Since I do a lot of teaching of classes, people are always looking to me for inspiration but sometimes it is nice to just sit back and learn from someone else. There are so many awesome scrappers out there that have so much to teach me so I enjoy the chance to learn from them. One of my favorite people is Shimelle Laine. I met Shim while living in England and we used to meet up at various weekend crops with our UK scrapping friends. She also used to run an online store in the UK which I would order from when I needed extra supplies. I always enjoyed sitting around looking at her books at crops and being inspired by her work. Shortly before I left the UK I gave her a ride home from one of the weekend crops and she told me she was planning to start doing online classes. I was fascinated and couldn't wait for her to get them started. I've taken quite a few of her classes and have loved every one. If you want a little inspiration for your winter, go to her blog and get involved in her next online class starting in February. Here's her blog address: She also currently has a "free" online class called "This Year" that you can participate in now to try out her classes and see what she has to offer.
My second favorite online classes come from Jessica Sprague. Her classes are well worth every penny you pay for them. She teaches Digital Scrapbooking classes that in my opionion are the best out there. With each class you will get video tutorials for every new technique and these are available to you forever. So if you can't finish the class during it's allotted time, you can go back at anytime and finish and have all the videos available for refreshers as needed as well.
I'm currently signed up to do her "Type + Writer" class that starts in April. I was able to see some of the projects done in that class through a lady that came into our store and they were amazing as always so I'm excited to start her classes this spring. You can find her classes at:
My third source of inspiration are the Big Picture Scrapbooking classes. I usally try to take several of these each year. Currently I'm enrolled in the January " A Life Well-Crafted" class with Kolette Hall. I'm totally enjoying this class as well although I'm getting a little behind because of being sick this week. I also signed up for a couple of the "projects now" classes that I need to get caught up with. These you can take at anytime. You can find their classes at:
So many little time.....but I'm definitely inspired with a lot of new ideas. Perk up your winter and come join me in some online classes.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Trying to Finish Old Projects

When Cory turned 21 (he's now almost 23) I started this book as a gift to him. I got the core of the book finished and gave it to him but told him I had planned to write letters to him in all the many nooks and crannies so he could read them occasionally and get a little motherly advice when he needs it. I've written some of the letters but am still trying to finish the rest of them. My goal is to give it to him again on his 23rd birthday with all the letters completed. Amber is turning 21 this year and I'm hoping to get some sort of book started for her as well. Just need to get this project finished first. Several of my UK friends check this blog occasionally so I figured you'd probably like to see a few of my projects on here instead of having to read about my life all the time so this is for you. Here's one of my ongoing projects I'm working on. The book is using the song "unwritten" as a theme. I like the lyrics to that song that say only we can write our own stories. It's all a blank slate and unwritten until we write on it. I thought that was a good message for Cory who is embarking on his adult life. (a new journey of growing for him). Each page has pockets and tuck-ins for letters to go.
I've put in a variety of pictures and quotes to make it more interesting. Some pockets have tags with quotes on them as well as a letter. My goal was to have many ways to tell him what I want him to learn in life. When I start projects like this, I guess I make them based on what I always wished I had from my parents or grandparents. I hope that even if he doesn't appreciate this now that maybe somewhere along the way my distant ancestors will find this and learn a little bit from me even if Cory chooses to ignore it all (which I don't think he will). Wouldn't it be fun to find a book like this written by a great-grandma about all she'd learned in her life? I think about that a lot.
I try to make projects that will be timeless and mean something to others once I'm gone. It's my way of leaving a bit of myself behind. A way to leave a legacy for my kids and grandkids. My focus in scrapbooking has changed through the years from recording events and birthdays to now recording life for future generations. I'm really liking the trend towards scrapping the "everyday" things of life because lets face it, big events aren't really what life is all about. It's all those everyday little things that make up who we are. So this is my little "gift of love" for Cory.
He's embarking on a new chapter of his life this year. He plans to marry his "true love" in May so he will be learning a lot in the next few years. Who knows maybe my next project will be an advice book on marriage. Hope this will inspire you to record a little something more personal this month for your kids. Imagine what you'd like them to know if you were no longer here and let that inspire you to leave them with something they can hold onto...a piece of case something ever takes you away from them before you are ready.
Now, I'm off to get this finished and begin plans for Amber's book. The projects never end do they? That's what I love about this hobby. You can always find something new to create. My other big project for this year is Hannah's graduation book. Some of you saw the one I did for Cory with "advice for life". Amber's was titled "keys to a good life" and Hannahs's will be the ABC's of Life. I think I'm up to H now so I've got a ways to go but at least it's started. The rush is now on to get it finished by May along with a cookbook for Stephanie (my future daughter-in-law) by May as well.

Another New Year

It's another new year....2009. I can honestly say that I was quite glad to see 2008 leave. It was not a good year for me. I think I cried more last summer than I have in a long time. One thing after another was hitting me and I was being challenged at every corner. As I look back now, though, I see that I grew a little with each new challenge. Sometimes we get to feeling sorry for ourselves when things get rough but in reality, those times are needed for us to grow. With Russ and I living in separate places for a year, it's given us both time to reflect on ourselves and our lives. We've both talked about it and we have both learned to appreciate what we have as a couple. Neither one of us is comfortable with the lonely feeling of going through life by yourself. I hope we never get comfortable with that. We've learned to appreciate all the little things that each of us do that makes life run smoothly. I've learned that I have more strength than I ever thought I had. With each new challenge I'd think, I just can't handle this alone and then I would figure out what needed to be done and conquer it. I had come to rely so much on Russ for my strength that I didn't give myself credit for my own inner-strength. I've always known it was there but I just hadn't tapped into my strength in awhile so I had to challenge myself to use it. I think I talked to more and more people who also said the same thing....that 2008 was a weird year for them. Many people were hit with hard things to deal with and somehow we made it through. So, I, for one, am looking forward to a better 2009. I'm starting out with a positive attitude that my house will sell in time for me to move to GA. That Hannah will find her way and know what she wants to do with her life, that Cory and Stephanie will start a new life together that is bound by a deep love for each other, and that Amber will find her way and learn that family is as important as all her many friends. I quit making big resolutions at the New Year many years ago. For me, I just want to grow more as a person, get more of my life recorded in my scrapbooks, and grow closer to God. May each of you, find your way this year and grow stronger in whatever you set your mind to do.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christmas at our House

Christmas at the Barnharts tends to be a little traditional but I like it that way. I hope our children will always have fond memories of all we've done through the years to celebrate. We start with the tree sometime after Thanksgiving. Each year I've given the kids a new ornament to signify that year. Now they each have their own box of ornaments that they can take with them when they leave home. It's always fun to see them open their ornaments each year and try to remember why they got each one. This year, Cory's fiance, Stephanie helped us decorate the tree and it was rewarding for me to see him show her each one and tell her stories about some of them. It was also a little sad for me to think that this is the last year those ornaments will be on my tree. He will now carry them to their new home together and hopefully use them for many more years on his own tree.
After the tree comes all the santas. I've been a santa collector since Cory was a baby. My Dad died when he was 9 months old on December 18, 1986. The rest of the family let the fact that he died so close to Christmas ruin their celebrations for family for many years. I chose to collect santas in memory of my Dad since he was always "my favorite santa". I had originally planned to get a new santa every year but then I started finding cute ones everywhere I went and it turned out to be several santas each year. My favorites are the "old world" style santas. I now have several large boxes of santas and snowmen that come out each year. I don't mind putting them up because I think of my wonderful Dad when I do. Someday I'll add them to the kids' ornament boxes but for now, they make me happy so I keep putting them up each year. I usually send out a newsletter each year but this year I decided to forego that since I had too many other things to do. Cards and pictures go with the newsletter. In the past few years I've been making calendars for the kids with pictures of their friends on them. I had decided I wouldn't do them this year but Hannah indicated that it was one of her favorite gifts so I decided to go ahead and make them anyhow. I made four calendars this year from November to December. I always make fudge sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I made it at Thanksgiving this time so that Russ could help eat it while he was home. We also traditionally make cut-out cookies that were always left on a plate for santa. We didn't do those this year since our time was more limited. Other traditional cookies are miniature nut cups, butterballs, caramel/chocolate bars, cheesecake bars and peanut butter bars. The girls made the last two for our annual New Year's Eve party. Christmas meal is almost always a ham with mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans and homemade rolls. Once I've cooked the big meal, I don't cook again for several days so that everyone will come and nibble on the leftovers. Christmas morning is always a pan of cinnamon rolls. They are easy for me to pop in and the kids rely on them to be there for breakfast. A few years I've given the kids pj's for christmas and let them open them on Christmas Eve but I was never consistent with that one. The pickle ornament was given to me by my brother and sister-in-law for another tradition. We would hide the pickle on the tree and Christmas morning the kids had to see who could find it first. The finder always got an extra gift....usually candy or a game. For some reason I forgot to do that tradition this year. The stockings are a tradition that I brought from my family. I've always enjoyed finding little things to throw in each stocking. Traditionally I always throw a few practical items in there as well. They always get toothbrushes and floss, gum and chapstick. They've come to expect those. The past few years we changed a little and drew names for stockings and each person was responsible for filling someone elses stocking. I went back to being the original stocking stuffer again this year. It's a fun extra gift to find onChristmas morning. I've always enjoyed Christmas even though it is a busy holiday for me. I love to watch my kids opening gifts, to hear Russ complain that I shouldn't have spent money on him, the watch the cats excitement as they open their stockings of catnip toys and to know that we have always been soooo blessed to have all that we have each year. May God continue to bless our little family as it grows through the years.

Twenty Five Wonderful Years Together

I'm a little late posting this but it was such a crazy holiday season that I just didn't stop long enough to write. On December 24, 2008, Russ and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Yep, we were the crazy ones who got married on the coldest day of the year in the midst of a winter storm. Somehow we blinked and 25 years have passed. I don't feel any older (well maybe a few more aches than then) but when I look back, I'm in awe of all we've packed into those 25 years. We've lived in eleven different houses, three states, four different countries and have seen a lot of places I only ever dreamed of seeing. We raised three beautiful children (one boy and two girls), have said goodbye to one parent each and watched them suffer through terminal illnesses. Russ has run marathons and has logged many miles of running. I did three terms as a PTA president, one term as a VP and several secretary and chairperson seats within the PTA and the Booster Clubs. I've dabbled in a lot of different crafts within these years from quilt making, crocheting, tole painting, cake decorating, cross-stitch, ikebana, oshie, bonsai and my current all time favorite of scrapbooking. I've taught classes in scrapbooking, bible classes, and even taught nine classes in a scrapbook jamboree weekend. Russ learned to golf, landscape, tile, furniture refinishing and all around handiman in the house. He led songs at church, taught bible classes and held the office of a deacon. We've cheered our kids on through piano lessons, gymnastics, swimming lessons, soccer games, softball games, volleyball games, spelling bees, and band. We've laughed, we've cried, we've struggled and succeeded, we've wished, we've prayed, we've hoped and dreamed. It's been a great ride through 25 years with the most special man by my side. When I was searching for my prince charming, I had many things that I knew that I wanted in a man before I could agree to marry him. I dated several through the years that were wonderful men but I just knew they weren't right for one reason or another. When I met Russ, I think I knew right away he was the one. He caught my heart from the start and has never lost it since. I am truly blessed to wear the name of such a wonderful man. He's treated me well, taught me a lot, been a great Dad, and a great role model for many. I've watched many friends' marriages fall apart through the years and it always makes me thankful for the love and respect we have for each other. Marriage is a wonderful thing when you are with the right person. My prince charming is a piano-playing, marathon running, engineer with a heart of gold. Still in love after all these years.