Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mother’s Day Cards in a Box

UntitledMother’s Day for two extra special mothers calls for extra special cards.  When a friend showed me the Card in a Box I knew I’d found just the thing.

These amazing cards are a three dimensional box full of flowers (or other items) which fold flat for mailing.


The Serene Stamper has a good sample card and instructions linked on Pinterest that I used, including a helpful video tutorial.



Purple Card Supplies:
Rubber Stamps – Stampin’ Up! Delight in Life (large flowers, small purple flowers and leaves from flower petals), SU Punch Potpourri triple flower (small flowers); All Night Media greetings set Happy Mother’s Day;
Cardstock – Stampin’ Up! Lovely Lilac, Certainly Celery, Barely Banana, Almost Amethyst;
Inks – Stampin’ Up! Lovely Lilac, Lavender Lace, So Saffron, Certainly Celery;
Accessories – Spellbinders Nestabilities Scalloped Oval (stamped with Happy Mother’s Day), Stampin’ Up! Bird Punch (leaf branch), Stampin’ Up! Three flower punch (small flowers on flaps), Martha Stewart large Monarch butterfly punch

Red Card Supplies:
Rubber Stamps – Stampin’ Up! Delight in Life (large flowers and leaves from flower petals), SU Punch Potpourri triple flower; All Night Media greetings set Happy Mother’s Day;
Cardstock – Stampin’ Up! Pretty in Pink, Mellow Moss, Primrose Petals;
Inks – Stampin’ Up! Raspberry Ripple, So Saffron, Pretty in Pink, Mellow Moss;
Accessories – Spellbinders Nestabilities Scalloped Oval (stamped with Happy Mother’s Day), Stampin’ Up! Bird Punch (leaf branch), Stampin’ Up! three flower punch (small flowers on flaps), Martha Stewart large Monarch butterfly punch

Girl Scout Inner Beauty Meeting

Last year I helped plan a Girl Scout Brownie meeting on Inner Beauty for my younger daughter’s troop.  This meeting was the service project that my older daughter and some members of her 6th grade Cadette troop performed to complete the requirements for their Media Journey.  I’m sharing our plans for the meeting in case another Girl Scout troop is looking for ideas for a meeting about media images, inner beauty, or healthy body image.

Inner Beauty Discussion

We started the meeting with one of the Cadettes presenting some thoughts on inner beauty while the Brownies had snack.

  • In the media, models can influence what you want to look like
  • Media includes TV, movies, magazines and other advertising
  • All kinds of media show unrealistic influences
  • The models in magazines don’t really look that way
  • Photos are “airbrushed “to make models look perfect
  • True beauty is inner beauty
  • Inner beauty is your personality, who you are
  • Ex. kind, friendly, funny, caring
  • Inner beauty is what really matters
  • Nobody’s perfect
  • Ex. Someone could be beautiful but really mean, or unattractive by the media’s standards but kind and caring

Next the Brownies brainstormed lists of characteristics of inner beauty.

After they cleaned up from snack, the Cadettes organized the Brownies in a flag ceremony to officially open the meeting.

Inner Beauty Flowers

Inner Beauty Paper FlowerBefore the meeting the Cadettes cut strips and circles from bright colored papers so that each of the Brownies would get a set with a circle for the flower center and strips for the flower petals.

One of the Cadettes explained the project, then each of the Brownies received a small baggie with enough petals (all of the same color) to make one for each of the other girls in her group. The girls wrote on the petals (labeled on the back with the recipient’s name) a short description or complement which referred to her friend’s inner beauty.

After they had written on each of the petals, the Cadettes distributed them to the Brownie whose name was on the back.  Each girl then decorated her flower center and assembled it with their petals into a flower with multi-color petals.

True Colors Song

For the last activity, the Cadettes taught the Brownies the song “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper (also recorded by the Cast of Glee), available with lyrics on YouTube.


We closed the meeting with a friendship circle, singing Make New Friends.

I believe that teaching about inner beauty helped reinforce its importance to the Cadettes and learning it from older girls made the message stronger to the Brownies than if it had been presented by an adult.  A great experience for all the girls!

Additional Resources

Dove’s The Real Me: Activities to celebrate your daughter’s inner beauty,  Role of Media,  Growing Up and Body Image and more related topics.

Real Girls Video – As their Media Journey Take Action project, a Cadette troop created a video about real girls.

Real Beauty: 101 Ways to Feel Great about You (American Girl Library)

Please feel free to share more ideas for teaching inner beauty in the comments!

Choosing a Smart Phone

A friend read my recent post on iPhone tips and then asked for recommendations on how to choose a smart phone.

I recommend starting with the Consumer Reports Smart Phone Buying Guide video which gives a quick overview of smart phones.

Next, has the article, 5 Tips for Picking the Right Smartphone which covers whether you really need a smart phone, choosing a cellular network, and choosing an OS.

On the topic of whether you really need a smartphone, if you decide after reading the above linked article that maybe you don’t really want the expense of a smartphone, you might consider Apple’s iPod Touch which has many of the features of an iPhone except a phone, and without the expensive two year cellular data contract.  More about the differences between the iPhone and iPod Touch in my iPhone Tips post.  (One of the downsides to an iPod Touch is that you’ll often need to carry that in addition to a cell phone, whereas if you have a smart phone, you’ll have both in one device.)

The Smartphone Buying Guide has some helpful comparisons of different smart phone features, including OSs, phone cameras, battery life, cell networks, and phone size.

Of course Consumer Reports is always a great place to look for reviews and comparisons of electronics such as smart phones.  A subscription is required to view some of this information online, but you may be able to get a print copy of the magazine at your library, or get access to Consumer Reports online via your public library web site. is a reliable source of electronics reviews such as their Best Phones page.

As always, is one of my favorite places to get lots of customer reviews on products such as smart phones.

Features to Consider

When shopping, among other features, remember to consider

  • OS (iOS – iPhone, Android or Windows) – features, interface ease of use, and number of apps available
  • Battery life
  • Phone size
  • Camera resolution (mega pixels – MP) and reviews
  • Quality of cellular network and terms of the contract

Cellular Network Reviews

Several of the articles above suggest checking the quality of the different cellular networks.  Following are some sites which compare the different networks.

Consumer Reports Cell Phones and Services

Cnet Quick Guide to Cell Phone Carriers

Why I Love My iPhone

Now that I’ve given you lots of resources for deciding which is the best smart phone for you, I want to say why I love my iPhone.

  • Stable, intuitive, high quality OS – My husband and I really feel that Apple works hard to create excellent products.  They seem to test new features to death before releasing them.  The interface is considered by many to be the easiest to use and designed to be as intuitive as possible.
  • Small size phone that fits easily in a pocket or purse.
  • More apps than any other smartphone OS.

Feel free to comment below on the smart phone features most important to you and what you love most about your smart phone.

Happy Shopping!

Carroll-Caton House

Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad by Jehanne Wake is about the lives of the four granddaughters of Charles Carroll of Annapolis, signer of the Declaration of Independence.  The Caton sisters were very interesting, well-educated and cultured women, having a very close relationship with their grandfather who was active in overseeing their education.  Their education included excellent training in finances which they put to good use investing their inheritences, and protecting them from their husbands who were not as good with finances.  The book includes very interesting Maryland history of the Carroll and Caton families.  It also includes several references to the Caton House and leaves one wondering about the location of this historic home that is not known locally.

Richard Caton, son-in-law of Charles Carroll and father of the four Caton sisters, was given the task of developing some land for his father-in-law near Baltimore, MD.  The area was named Catonville for Caton.  The town’s name was later changed to Catonsville. (1)

A web search turned up a Caton House Restaurant and a Caton House Apartments in the Baltimore area, but no other Caton House.

Caton House Restaurant – Halthorpe

The Caton House Restaurant in Halthorpe is located at 1506 South Caton Ave.  A call to the restaurant was answered by an employee who had no knowledge of the Caton family, where the original Caton House was located, or any history of the restaurant.  She mentioned that the current owners were not the original owners and doubted that they had any more knowledge of the history.

There is an article on the web titled “Famous Baltimore Restaurants That Burned Down” by Vernelle Nelson.  It says, “Caton House Restaurant first opened in the Cross Street Market in 1846. It moved to an Italian Revival-style building in 1871, which burned down in 1951. Today, Caton House is in the same location that it has called home since 1952.” (6)

Caton House Apartments – Catonsville

The Caton House Apartments are located at 417 Wheaton Place, Catonsville.  An employee at the Caton House Apartments said she thought that they were built in 1969.  No other information was found.

Castle Thunder – Catonsville

Castle Thunder, Catonsville (4)

A staff member at the Catonsville Historical Society said that Richard and Mary Carroll Caton had a country home named Castle Thunder in the area now known as Catonsville.  There is a commemorative plaque for Castle Thunder at the Baltimore County Public Library’s Catonsville Branch at the corner of Beaumont Avenue and Frederick Road.  The plaque says that the house was a gift to the Catons from Mary’s father, Charles Carroll, and was there from 1787 until 1906.

Castle Thunder Historical Marker, Catonsville (5)

“Sisters of Fortune” says of Castle Thunder, “Part of Mary Carroll’s marriage settlement included a small 1,000-acre estate situated on part of the 30,000 acres of Carroll land near the small town of Baltimore, an area still known as Catonsville.  Her father built a new house here for her which was named “Castle Thunder,”  although the plain late eighteenth-century stucco building bore little resemblance to a castle.  Mary, however, shared the Carroll fondness for Voltaire, especially Candide, in which Castle Thunder is an “earthly paradise” of calm and unquestioning optimism.”

However there is some debate whether this is the actual location of Castle Thunder as noted on theBaltimore County Public Library web site (2) and the Historical Society of Baltimore County web site (3).

While Castle Thunder was a home of the Catons, it was not known as Caton House.

Carroll Mansion – Baltimore

Carroll Mansion, Baltimore

Studying “Sisters of Fortune” more closely, it is stated that when Emily Caton McTavish inherited Caton House in Baltimore from her parents, “she gave the property to the Sisters of Mercy, after which it was (and continues to be) known as the Carroll Mansion.” (p. 333)

The Carroll Mansion is located at 800 East Lombard Street in Baltimore.  Carroll Mansion should not be confused with Carroll House in Annapolis, the home of Charles Carroll.

Charles Carroll passed away on November 14th, 1832 at the Carroll Mansion which may be the reason its name was changed from Caton House to Carroll Mansion.

Carroll Mansion is also sometimes know as Carroll-Caton House.  It is now a museum that is open to the public and can be rented for events.

Caton House Restaurant and Apartments Connections

It is unclear how the restaurant and apartments became know as Caton House since they are not especially close to the Carroll-Caton House on Lombard street.   While the restaurant is on Caton Ave., it appears that it was not originally located there according to the article referenced above. (6)  The apartments are possibly named for Catonsville, where they are located.

Additional Links

Baltimore County Public Library Catonsville Room
Has reference materials, “display cases with photographs, even a brick from the original Castle Thunder.”

Catonsville Post Office “Incidents in the History of Catonsville” Murals

“Arrival of Mary Carroll Caton at Castle Thunder” Mural Photo from
Catonsville High School, Baltimore County

Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 17
Information about Mary Carroll Caton and Castle Thunder

Richard Caton, Buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore 

Mary Carroll Caton, Buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore 

Emily Caton MacTavish, Buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore

(1) Catonsville Historical Society – 
(2) Baltimore County Public Library – Castle Thunder History –
(3) History Trails 42, no. 4, “Castle Thunder, The Catons, and Catonsville’s Historical Myths”, John McGrain –
(4) Castle Thunder photo and caption from “Catonsville” by Marsha Wight Wise –
(5) Castle Thunder Historical Marker –
(6) “Famous Baltimore Restaurants That Burned Down” by Vernelle Nelson – 

My Favorite Digital Camera

canonSX260About a year ago, my family gave me the Canon SX260 Digital Camera as a gift.  I had actually researched and chosen it first since I’m rather particular about my electronics and I have a much stronger opinion on them than my husband.  This was my fourth digital camera if you don’t count cell phone cameras, so I have a lot of experience with digital camera features and this is definitely my favorite camera so far.

I really like that this camera has a good speed for it’s awesomely compact size and its price range.  I have three kids and I need a camera fast enough to keep up with them.  It also has a good 12.1MP resolution and even better, 20x optical zoom considering it’s size.  I love that it has all this and it will fit in my purse!

My camera is the Red which looks to me like a dark pink or raspberry and I really like the fun color.  It is also available in black, grey and green.

As for negatives, I fully agree with the reviews that the flash pops up right under my fingers which is annoying.  However I like all the other features so much that I’m happy to accept this one fault.

When I started my research before buying this camera, I really wanted a viewfinder instead of using the LCD screen to frame photos.  It’s difficult to find a camera with a viewfinder that is also compact, and in the price range that I could accept.  I’m very happy with my choice of a compact camera and have given up my desire for a viewfinder.

Finally, I really like to wear my camera on a neckstrap so that my hands are free and my camera is ready for use.  But compact cameras don’t seem to come with neckstraps or even the ability to use a neckstrap with them.  I would really like to have a place to attach a neckstrap on both sides of cameras instead of just a wrist strap on one side (in case Canon happens to see this review).  My solution to this problem was to buy a neckstrap lanyard that attaches to the camera in place of the wrist strap.  I can use this as a neckstrap or wrap it around my wrist when I prefer.

I highly recommend this camera for it’s speed, 20x optical zoom, compact size and overall great quality for its price!

iPhone Tips

My husband and I both have iPhones which we love!

I started with an iPod Touch in July 2010.  My husband soon saw how great it was and got one too.  Finally, when our cell phones were eligible for upgrades, we got iPhones!

There are a lot of smart phone options available, but between Apple’s iOS and Android operating systems, we strongly prefer Apple’s products since we feel that they are really well made and new features are thoroughly tested before being released.

iPhone vs. iPod Touch and iPad

The main difference between the iPod Touch and iPhone is that the iTouch is not a cell phone.  Other than that,  iTouch can use WiFi to access the Internet, use iPhone apps, and in most other ways is just like an iPhone. (And there’s a lot the iTouch can do while offline too!)

The other significant difference between the iTouch and iPhone is that the iTouch has a lower resolution camera than the iPhone.  The latest version of the iTouch (5th generation) has a 5MP rear camera, while the current iPhone has an 8MP rear camera.  (Be aware that the 16GB iTouch does not have a rear camera, only a 1.2MP front camera for FaceTime video chat.)

The iPad creates much less confusion as it is clearly an Apple tablet device and not a cell phone.

What the three devices all have in common is that they all use the Apple iOS software as their operating system (as Microsoft PC’s use a version of the Windows operating system.) Therefore, they can all use most of the same apps from the iTunes Store.

Wikipedia has a lot of useful info on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

iOS Tips

Following are a lot of the features of the iPhone that I have discovered just through using it over the last several years.  Most of these features also apply to the iPod Touch and iPad as well since they all use iOS.

“.” Shortcut – double tapping on the space bar adds a “.”  (set this option in Settings App, General, Keyboard).

Enable Caps Lock – double tapping on the shift key turns on caps lock (set this option in Settings App, General, Keyboard).

Auto Correct is a feature that attempts to automatically correct or complete your typing.  However it can also create some funny or frustrating text when it supplies words that you didn’t intend as evidenced by the many of these available at  If you prefer to turn off Auto Correct, go to the Settings App, General, Keyboard.

Shortcuts can be set up to assist you with typing.  For example, I have a shortcut that turns “tmrw” into “tomorrow.”  These are helpful when typing on the tiny virtual keyboard as opposed to a physical keyboard. Set shortcuts in Settings App, General, Keyboard, Shortcuts.

Turn the device a quarter turn to type in landscape mode in many apps which gives you a wider keyboard.

Shake the device to undo the last typing action.

Tap and hold many keys (vowels, .com, etc.) for extra keyboard options.

Screen capture – press and hold the power button (top of the device) and then press home button (bottom center of the device) at the same time. Images go to the Photos app, Camera Roll folder. This is great for saving an image of email and web coupons on the iTouch for use in stores when you don’t have WiFi access.  I also find this useful on the iPhone as it’s faster to flip through images of coupons in the photos app then hunting for the right email with the coupon while standing at a store register while the cashier waits.

Select text – touch and hold text to select text, then choose a select option from the menu. You can change the selection using the dots on the selected text.

Position the cursor in text – touch and hold then use the magnifying circle to position the cursor.

Insert image in email – you can insert an image(s) in an email with touch and hold in the email body. In the menu that comes up, tap the arrow on the right. Then select Insert Photo or Video, and choose the image(s) you want from the Camera Roll.

The Notifications screen is accessed by swiping your finger from the top of the screen down.

The Control Center is accessed by swiping your finger from the bottom of the screen up. The Control Center allows you to set many features including music controls, flash light, do not disturb, and calculator.

The Search screen is accessed by swiping your finger from the middle of the screen down (previous versions of the iOS accessed the search screen by swiping from left to right.)  The search option allows you to search all of your emails, apps and all other content on the device.

OS X Daily Emails

OS X Daily is a blog that you can subscribe to for daily emails with great iOS (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) and Mac OS X tips.

What is your favorite iPhone tip?  Comment below!

Have fun with your Apple mobile device!