Monday, March 2, 2009

In like a lion...

March has finally arrived and it feels just like January and February did. The opportunity with a long, cold winter this year has been the discovery our our public library system with my daughter, Piper. She is suddenly interested in chapter books and audio books while still being thoroughly intrigued with new picture books. I have finally shaken my Amazon habit just in time for the recession.

I just read The Last Lecture yesterday afternoon and evening. The book chronicles Randy Pausch's Carnegie Mellon lecture, and like the lecture, tells about his life and life lessons told at a time between his terminal cancer diagnosis and his death. As a best-seller, it is at our local library and pretty much at every Target, Walmart, bookstore, and on-line bookseller.

If you are too busy to devote an evening, check out his actual lecture on YouTube: If you would prefer to read a transcript of the speech:

The book, of course, reads better than the speech and includes some of his thought processes as he wrote. Unless I missed them in scanning the 26 page transcript, the speech also misses some of my favorite passages that are in the book: Randy's time management tips (very important not only for persons with terminal diseases as we all only have a finite amount of months to live if you think about it), his argument on spending money for scientific discovery over the fight for poverty as a means to inspiring the masses and not just the fringes, and his tips for working successfully in a group (I know that sounds lame, but very few people do this well) mirrored with his equally helpful routine on apologies.

Piper has discovered the Junie B. Jones audio book collections. Having vowed with my husband to overcome the temptation of putting a television in Piper's room, finding her happily playing with dolls while listening to books on CD gently affirms our decision. We typically visit our local library once or twice a week and our church library once a month. With so many wonderful choices, I can reasonably provide as some of Piper's recent favorites Opera Cat by Tess Weaver and Sleeping Beauty beautifully illustrated by Kinuko Craft. (To see other fairytales illustrated by K.V. Craft, check out

Although I am a lover of fiction, The Shack was so intoxicating, I have been on a mission of sorts and have discovered a few gems myself: Stormie Omartian's Praying God's Will for Your Life, When Couples Pray by Cheri Fuller, Journaling as a Spiritual Practice by Helen Cepero.

This winter also brought a creative spark after the sadness this past year losing Baer Fabrics to the vile monster 5/3 Bank. This happened before everyone nationally was angry at the greedy financial giants and just at the time when they were trying to save themselves by stealing all they could to stay afloat before their failures went public. In the discovery of a new creative turn, I found a few helpful tools that I suggest to everyone. I am not a scrapbooker; I am a seamstress. Hmm... yet I haven't made a garment since last spring but I have created several scrapbook pages last month alone. Some of us are in denial, hiding behind the ease of paper crafts over the supreme fiber arts, but time is an issue (our months are finite, remember?). So lift your hanging head and find these wonderful, new tools to [quickly] unleash your imagination:

Zutter Bind-It-All 2.0! This tool cuts through metal, paper, chipboard, and illustration board to punch holes. Then closes wire binding to create an inexpensive and professional finish to your own books. Purchase the binding machine and Bound 2 Bind book along with a selection of wires. The best thing about living in the information age is that you can Google Zutter and a few YouTube instructionals come up! I have never created handmade books so quickly.

Cricut Expression. If you don't have this electronic die cutting machine, you are missing out. Purchase the Design Studio software to allow your PC to help you design your layouts and alter the images. The Jukebox will allow you to design and cut from several different cartridges. You will need a healthy supply of cartridges, mats, blades and a few essential tools, but you will be like a kid in a candy store! It is like brain candy-- mind-numbing, fun, easy. Now available to use with your Cricut are kits to create rubber stamps! magnets! This will mean purchasing a new housing and special blade, but the economy needed stimulating, right?

With me and tools, it is all or nothing. Good thing I beat that Amazon habit, huh?

My current obsession is with the Bible. I know it sounds a bit trite, but it is true. Although I am a Christian, a practicing Methodist, the Bible is also a plethora of historical and literary gems! The more I read and study, the more I am drawn in. I recently watched Bruce Feiler's Walking the Bible and The Visual Bible's Matthew. I love new perspectives and these provided more than I had anticipated. I am near the end of a Bible study on Mark at church and have discovered Tom Wright's "For Everyone" series of Bible commentaries. Bible study is when time travel seems most appealing as I struggle with the cultural differences that disguise meaning. Rick Warren has a new magazine complete with DVD and study guide. His focus is on relationships. These are the tools that have helped me excitedly follow my Bible obsession.

Happy discovering! Happy reading! Happy crafting! Until my own economy gets stimulated and I can afford a Kindle 2, I will be hauling bags of books... heck, even then, I will be taking my little girl to the library! There is nothing like walking through aisles of books and picking them up at random to turn their pages!

A last little something for your glittering eyes:
You are blessed when you're content with just who you are-- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. -Matthew 5.5 [Message]

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