Monthly Archives: April 2014

Cub Scout TV Station Tour Video

My husband was trying to schedule a TV station or other media office tour to satisfy a requirement for the Cub Scout Tiger badge but he couldn’t find anywhere local that could accommodate us.  He found an online video of a TV station tour that the Den leader agreed would satisfy this requirement.  I am sharing the link here for others who may be trying to find a way to meet this requirement too.

TV Station Tour / Behind the Scenes” by wfmynews2 in North Carolina.

Following are my husband’s comments on the video:

“I just watched this 6 part series (about 3 minutes each, or 20 minutes
total).  I found it really interesting, and if the kids are getting
restless you can encourage them with the fact that there are a few
bloopers at the end of the reel.  They have a few sections where they explain some techno-babble, but other than that VERY appropriate for this age group [grade 1].”

Be Aware of Location Info on Photos!

Most smartphones, tablets, and digital cameras add location information to photos, called geotags, by default.  Geotags identify the location where the photo was taken which means they would reveal your home address or other locations you frequent with your family.  It’s very Important to check this setting on your digital camera devices and make sure that it is turned off.

about geotags, but the instructions for turning off location info on iphones is outdated.  The correct method is Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> Camera switch to Off.

The Digital Zen blog also has a post with useful information about geotags.

Easter Greetings

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!


I started this card with the rabbit ribbon that I’ve had for more years than I want to admit. I combined that with this sweet bunny stamp. Finally I chose colors to coordinate with the ribbon.

Card stock: Stampin’ Up! Creamy Caramel, Pumpkin Pie and Very Vanilla
Rubber stamp: Inkadinkado bunny 97796
Ink: SU Close to Cocoa
Accessories: Spellbinders Nestabilities oval and Lacey ovals dies

Mental Health Awareness and Crisis Intervention

I continue to be overwhelmed by the number of mass shootings in the last couple of years as I know most people are.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what can be done to prevent these awful acts of violence and desperation in the future.

Not being a mental health professional, the best that I can come up with is to help spread information on mental health awareness and resources.  Following is a web page about mental illness warning signs, and a crisis hot line web site.  Please review the warning signs of mental illness and share this post with all your friends.  Let’s get the word out about mental health awareness!

Mental Illness Warning Signs

Crisis Hotline and Intervention Services

Cooperative GS Troops

When I volunteered to lead my oldest daughter’s Junior Girl Scout troop I was not able to find an assistant or co-leader from among the parents in our troop.  The previous leader suggested that I consider running the troop as a cooperative troop.

Basically in a cooperative troop, there is one trained leader who oversees troop activities and meetings, and troop parents are asked to each take on a role in the troop, and plan and lead one or more meetings each year depending on the number of families in the troop.  Below is the email that I sent out to my troop the spring before I took over as leader and it describes how my cooperative troop was set-up in more detail.

While the other parents in the troop were not comfortable with being an assistant or co-leader, they all readily agreed to take on one of the volunteer responsibilities that are listed below, and helping plan and lead meetings.

The obvious benefit of a cooperative troop is that it spreads the responsibilities for coordinating troop meetings and activities among all the families in the troop.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that after a couple of meetings planned and led by scouts and their parents, the girls were all anxiously awaiting their turn to lead a meeting!  My own daughter was quite disappointed to learn that since I had led the first couple meetings to get things going, we weren’t scheduled to lead until later in the school year.  Since teaching the girls to lead is one of the important principles of Girl Scouting, their enthusiasm to take a turn leading was very exciting.

Google Docs For Troop Coordination

I have found that Google Docs ( is a great tool for coordinating troop sign-ups, activity RSVPs, etc.  I’d recommend creating one Google spreadsheet with a tab/page for each of the following – troop meeting volunteer sign-up, Troop volunteer positions (see list below), Field trip/activity RSVP with a column for each activity and girls’ names along the left column, meeting activity suggestions (badges, service projects, etc.), and other pages as needed.  I recommend making the doc share settings so that anyone with the link can edit it.  Then don’t put any last names or contact info in the doc.  This way troop members can access it from whichever email they prefer, and they won’t be required to have a Google account to view and edit the doc.

A cooperative troop is the way to go!

Message to Troop About Setting Up a Cooperative Troop

Feel free to use the message below and edit it for your own use as needed.

Dear Troop Members –

As you all know, we’ve been looking for a leader for the girls’ Junior troop next year.

Girl Scouting was a very special experience for me as a girl and is now very important to my daughter, so I have volunteered to lead our troop.  Since I was unable to find a co-leader to share the responsibility of leadership, I have offered to accept the position of leading the troop next year under the condition that it be a co-operative troop.  In addition to assisting me with the coordination and planning required for meetings and outings, a co-operative troop gives the girls greater opportunity to take on responsibility for planning and running their meetings, with adult supervision and assistance, of course.

In a co-operative troop each family would provide a volunteer at two meetings a year and bring snack.  In addition, that parent volunteer would assist their daughter in planning and running those two meetings.  The meetings might involve working on a patch in which the girl or troop had indicated interest, planning and teaching the troop a program for Thinking Day, or another project in which the girls had expressed interest.

As the leader, I would attend the two training sessions, complete paperwork, plan the meeting and activity schedule, attend monthly service unit meetings, and coordinate other needs of the troop.  In addition, we are required to have a trained leader at every meeting, so I will attend the meetings, even though the parent volunteer and one of the girls would run many of the meetings.

Please review the list of meeting dates for next year (on Google Docs) and sign up for 2 meetings to help your daughter plan and run the meetings, and bring snack.

I will also be looking for volunteers for the positions listed at the end of this message (Google Doc signup), so please review them and let me know with which you would be able to assist.  In particular, we need several First Aiders, and a cookie parent; and ideally we should have at least one trained Assistant Leader.   It is my hope that each family will volunteer for at least one of the troop positions below.

I am excited about the many opportunities that the girls have ahead of them this year!

Volunteers Needed

*** Assistant Leader(s) – Attend leadership training classes and attend a couple of meetings or events a year.  Ideally we should have at least one trained assistant leader in case I can’t attend a meeting or event, so we wouldn’t have to cancel; background check required

*** FIRST AIDERS – We need at least 2 or 3 people to be first aiders available to go on field trips.  Training is good for 2 years at which time training needs to be repeated for certification.   If you plan to attend several field trips throughout the year anyway, then the only additional time requirement would be to take the First Aid Training class.

***Cookie Parent – coordinates troop cookie orders, attends cookie sale training, coordinates troop cookie booth sales; background check required

***Treasurer – manages troop finances and prepares the year end report; background check required

*Thinking Day Coordinators – One or two parents to help the girls plan their activities for Thinking Day.  Would be running two meetings in January or February before Thinking Day.

*Purchasing Agent – Go to the Girl Scout Store at Camp Ilchester to buy patches, vests, and other GS materials. You will save receipts and then get reimbursed from our troop account.  Probably only 2-4 times a year, and even one trip would be helpful.

*E-mail Reminders/Volunteer Coordinator – Send the email reminder each month to the troop about items to bring and parent volunteer scheduled.  Make sure that each meeting has a volunteer scheduled to plan and run the meeting and bring snack.

*Roster Maintenance (maybe combine with above position) – Maintain troop roster as needed and send out to troop. (May be helpful to group girls by neighborhood for easier carpool planning.)

*Attend a Service Unit Meeting – I will need someone to attend a meeting for me on occasion. <meeting time and location>

*Field Trip/Outings Coordinator – Plan field trips — make phone calls, plan/coordinate field trip, coordinate RSVPs and carpools.

*Camp Certified Parents – One or more parents (ideally 2 or more) to become camp certified so that the troop can camp independently in the future.

* Historian(scrapbook)/Photographer – Collect and assemble troop photos in a scrapbook (traditional or digital), or help the girls create scrapbook pages at a meeting in the spring.  Photos are welcome from anyone from all troop activities.

Thank you!!

The Winter That Almost Wasn’t eBook

This past winter my daughter and I published our new picture book, “The Winter That Almost Wasn’t” as a Kindle ebook!  It’s currently $.99 on Amazon.  As the weather warms up, a winter story may be the perfect way to cool off!

Inline image 3

Making snowmen, sledding, snow angels, and so much more!
Sally, Mia and Ben can’t wait for snow, so they’ll try all the ways they can think of to make it snow.
“Sleep on a spoon
and we’ll have snow soon!”
How many snow making ideas do you know?

I wrote the story a couple of years ago at the end of a disappointing Maryland winter.  My kids had wished for a good snow all through the winter.  Just like the three kids in the story, they kept trying all the different ways they know to make it snow.

After hearing the story, my then 12 year old daughter offered to illustrate it for me, and we enjoyed working on this project together.

We hope you’ll read The Winter That Almost Wasn’t Kindle ebook and leave a review!  Thank you!

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get a free ebook reader for PCs and most mobile devices on Amazon.

Love My Chromebook!

I bought a Samsung 11″ Chromebook laptop in February and I love it!  I was researching laptops and considered several different types.

Windows 8 is getting bad reviews, and I’m so tired of the unstable, high maintenance Windows operating systems.  In addition, to get a Windows laptop with decent processing speed, it was going to cost easily over $500.

If money were no object, I’d get a Mac laptop.  No question.  But while I think very highly of Apple’s excellent quality products (love my iphone!), they are priced outrageously high!

A friend’s daughter has a Chromebook and really likes it.  I started doing research and decided that it was worth trying. The Chromebook runs the Chrome operating system (OS) (as opposed to Windows or Mac OSX) which is a browser based OS.  While some have claimed that without WiFi, it’s as good as a brick, there are also apps, such as Gmail Offline, that allow you to continue to work with your email and Google docs without an Internet connection.

For my purposes, I wanted a device with a physical keyboard and a decent size screen for typing long emails, viewing web pages not intended for mobile devices’ tiny screens, doing word processing, working with spreadsheets, doing WordPress web design, and image editing.  I had already been using Gmail as my email interface and was using Google Drive for docs and spreadsheets anyway. With the current trend in cloud computing (storing your data on the Internet so that it’s accessible from whichever device you happen to have at the moment), there are a lot of applications available via the web, including several image editing applications (such as Pixlr) which I will share in a future post.

I chose the Samsung 11″ Chromebook because it has very good reviews on Amazon, and I like the feel of the keyboard and track pad.  I like the 11″ screen size which is small enough to be very portable and lightweight, but feels to me like plenty of screen space.  I read reviews for different Chromebooks which discussed the feel of the keyboard and trackpad, so I went to a couple stores before buying so that I could try them out.  The Samsung keyboard has a satisfying clicky feel as opposed to the different feel of some other brands.  Seeing them in person also gave me a chance to see their actual size and compare their weight.

The Samsung 11″ Chromebook is about $250 on Amazon.  It has a 16 GB hard drive and two USB ports.  If you need more storage space than the hard drive (keep in mind that Google Drive gives you 15 GB of cloud storage), you can get a SanDisk 32GB USB Flash Drive for under $20.  This Chromebook also comes with an offer for a free 100 GB Google Drive storage for two years.

Set-up was as easy as the reviews say.  I just plugged it in, turned it on, and signed into my Google account.  I spent a little time becoming familiar with the Chrome browser and settings since I had only recently started using it.

If you’re considering a Chromebook, I’d highly recommend installing the free Chrome browser on your current device.  Since the OS is based on the Chrome browser, that is the essence of the Chromebook experience.  Now I love that I can use the Chrome browser on my laptop, iPhone, and desktop PC (on rare occasions); and I always have access to all my bookmarks!

While I am very happy with the Chromebook, there are a couple of limitations to the that I’ve found –

  • Google Docs does not have a columns feature (looking into Open Office which appears to support columns)
  • iTunes doesn’t run on Chrome and it’s required to sync, update and back-up my iPhone
  • GoZone pedomenter only had software for Windows and Mac for uploading data to their web site (I’ve sent them feedback on this)

We’re now considering getting another Chromebook for the kids when it’s time to replace their PC.  Most of what they do is Google Drive for school, email, and web games anyway.

Following are some videos and web pages that I found helpful in researching my decision to buy a Chromebook.

Chrome OS Guided Tour video – great intro to the Chrome OS

PCWorld – Chromebook power tips: How to work smarter online and offline

PCWorld – How I survived 7 days in Chromebook exile

Stamping Away From Home

Last fall I was very fortunate to be invited for a wonderful weekend at the beach by a very generous stamping friend (Thank you, Sue!!!).  Knowing that the plan was to do some stamping together, I gave some thought to the question of how to stamp away from home.

The challenge, of course, is to bring enough supplies to be productive, but not so many supplies that you require a U-Haul to transport them!  Here is the list of basic supplies that I recommend.

  • Compact paper trimmer such as Fiskars Portable Paper Trimmer, 12 Inch
  • Rubber stamp markers for inking stamps and coloring images
  • Black ink pad
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive of choice (I like Scotch Double Sided tape)
  • Rubber stamps
  • Stamp cleaning supplies (or make do with wet and dry paper towels)
  • Card stock
  • Storage case such as Iris 12×12″ Scrapbook Case (if you can get everything in a smaller case, even better!)

These items are fairly basic and obvious.  The real question that I struggle with is what stamps and card stock to bring.

One option is to choose a pack of decorative papers (DP), then bring card stock that coordinates, and one or two stamp sets to use with these.  Depending on space available, you may then want to bring ink pads to match the card stock chosen.  You could also do this without DP, just select one or two stamp sets, then choose three to five card stock colors to use with the stamp sets.

This still leaves me anxious that I’ll be making a card with these limited supplies and wish I had a certain die, punch, ribbon, etc.

Coloring Images

One option is to stamp images at home and just bring Copics, colored pencils (my favorites are Sanford Prismacolor), or another coloring medium of choice.  Coloring can be very relaxing and the colored images can be made into cards when you get home.

Card Kits

A great solution that was proposed by my recent hostess was that each of us design a card and create card kits for the other three stampers to make five of the same card.  We all then took turns assembling the card kits with each others’ supplies.

In addition to all the supplies needed to assemble the cards, we prepared our card kits by pre-cutting the card stock and DP needed and in some cases stamping the images for the cards so that everything could be packed more compactly. This reduced the need for large sheets of card stock, stamps, ink pads and stamp cleaner.  Finally each stamper brought her own adhesive of choice to use in assembling her card kits.

The card kits had several great advantages.

  • All the supplies needed to make the card were planned out ahead and provided.
  • Assembling the cards was really easy, so we were able to socialize at the same time.
  • We learned techniques from each other such as coloring with Copics and how to use a paper tearing tool.
  • Sometimes we made slight changes to the card design and the card designer gained new ideas.
  • We each went home with fifteen finished cards!

The card kit method worked great in a group, but it would also work well for an individual stamper.  Plan out one or more cards, then bring the supplies you’ll need to complete the cards.

I’m excited to try this idea for stamping while enjoying the beautiful weather from my porch as opposed to my windowless basement stamp room this summer.

I’m interested to hear other suggestions for stamping away from home.  How do you stamp away from home?

Happy Stamping!


The Simple Stamping Challenge

This post was originally on my previous blog December 2013.

I have challenged myself for the next year to create simple greeting cards.

Now this may sound odd since most people challenge themselves to do things that are harder or more advanced than they have done before.  But for me, this will be quite a challenge.

I have long admired rubber stampers and paper crafters who make very simple cards, such as the beautiful cards of Susan’s Simplicity blog.  But having made cards that usually have multiple layers of card stock and embellishments for over 18 years, it’s hard for me to feel that one layer cards are “good enough.”  I am also a member of a wonderful local rubber stamp club which I helped start and continue to coordinate.  So when I make cards for these ladies, I feel guilty giving a simple card.

Yet when I make a simple card, I often find much satisfaction with the result and especially enjoy the reduced anxiety over creating a “masterpiece.”  Furthermore, making a great clean and simple card can sometimes be more challenging than one that is elaborate since you have fewer elements to arrange in an artistically pleasing design.

With three kids aged almost 13 down to 6, time for stamping is limited and it’s my hope that removing the burden of creating a time consuming, elaborate card will help to fuel my creative inspiration.

So starting now, through this coming year, I give myself permission to make and give simple cards without guilt.  I hope to learn whether my family and friends will be just as enthusiastic about the simple cards as my elaborate cards of the past.  I also hope to discover whether making clean and simple cards helps me find my lost stamping mojo.  (More about finding inspiration in the future.)

I would very much enjoy hearing my readers’ thoughts on simple vs. elaborate cards.

I start my Year of Simplicity with the following cards.

Butterfly and Ferns Wish Card
Butterfly and Ferns Wish Card
Snowflakes Thank You Card
Snowflakes Thank You Card

Happy Stamping!


Butterfly and Ferns Wish Supplies: Natural card stock with fibers, Hero Arts Butterfly with Ferns stamp colored with Berol Spectracolor pencils (love these art pencils!), Stampin’ Up! wish stamp in Not Quite Navy ink, navy ribbon.

Snowflakes Thank You Supplies: Stampin‘ Up! Snowflakes in Baja Breeze ink and script thank you stamp in Not Quite Navy ink.

Christmas Stocking Tags

This post was originally on my previous blog December 2013.

Christmas Stocking TagsMy kids don’t always choose the same Christmas stockings each year, so I made stocking tags to help Santa.  The tags have a loop of ribbon on them so that they can be switched to a different stocking if needed.  I added the kids’ names to their tags after taking the photo.

Happy Stamping and Happy Holidays!


Supplies:  Each has a circle and scallop circle made with Spellbinders Nestibilities circle dies, names written with Sanford or Zig felt tip calligraphy pen;
Stampin’ Up! Snowflake stamp in SU Ballet Blue ink, layered on SU Bliss Blue card stock;
PSX Carousel Horse stamp colored with Copic markers, layered on SU Raspberry Ripple card stock;
Snoopy and Wood “Snow Sledding” stamp colored with Copic markers, layered on SU Handsome Hunter card stock;
Stampendous Holy Night nativity silhouette stamp in SU Handsome Hunter, layered on SU Raspberry Ripple card stock;
Delafield Santa rabbit stamp G619 colored with Copic markers, layered on SU Handsome Hunter card stock.