Monday, April 27, 2009

Here's my latest...

This was a scraplift challenge on a message board I'm on and I can't wait to share it with you! Remember my sharing the school photo of my little guy? Well, I tweaked it a little and created my newest layout. I really love how this turned out.

Thanks for looking!

Peace and blessings,

P.S. Don't forget about my RAK Challenge! Check it out HERE!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hey ya'll!

Oooo my yard is finally pretty again. Leaves are the only thing to go now to be able to get rid of the winter blahs and hit the spring and summer ah's! (My lawn care guy was finally able to come yesterday to cut... good thing too. The grass was nearing my knees!)

The sun is shining, it's a gorgeous Friday. My Taylor will be home for a night in preparations for the end of school and it's going to be an amazing weekend. We have a soccer game tomorrow then nothing for the rest of the weekend and I'm delighted to have nothing to do. Truly. When you have busy busy weekends, you don't realize how much rest you miss. I need the weekends to rejuvenate!

While I show off my latest, (well, not really but I can't show you my latest because they're both for challenges and the challenge's aren't finished yet!) think about how you rejuvenate? Are you Mary Mary Quite Contrary with an amazing garden you love to work in? Or are you the kind of gals who revels in spending time hanging out with friends? Do you break out the grill and cook out?

I wanna hear how you chill - better yet, I wanna SEE how you chill! If you create a layout and upload a link to the blog here (on this post) before NSD (National Scrapbook Day) which just happens to be someone special's birthday, I will randomly choose a name from the posts and send a RAK! Oh yeah - love to give away goodies in honor of birthdays!!

So come on ya'll! Get creatin'! I wanna see how you guys spend your "down time"!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Earth Day Contest!

At If It's Groovy blog and the world, we celebrate Earth Day on Wednesday April 22, whoo hoo...39 years of observing a great celebration! What better thing can we do for our our safety and cleanliness than to take care of our beautiful planet?

Contest time!

Would you like to be crowned the Groovy Green Goddess? If not you, do you know someone who deserves this title?

You have TWO, count them TWO, chances to win and be crowned the GROOVY GREEN GODDESS:

1.send pic to of you behaving green with story about your greenish lifestyle

2.send a completely GREEN(color)monochromatic layout or card (thumbs up to using repurposed green items)

A panel of judges will decide who can wear this crown and she will be crowned soon so get the lead out and show us what you've got! The winner will receive green goodness by mail and the title for one year. The winner will also be asked to be recognized on If It's Groovy with her story, picture and project. Contest submissions will go through the month of May.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Newest Voice on the airwaves

is really not a new voice! And yet, we've never heard of her before last weekend. How can this be! This is the voice of an angel. She's a 48 year old angel and good gracious this gal has pipes!

Susan Boyle, a lovely Scottish gal who recently sang on the Britain's Got Talent show is clearly gifted. This woman should have long ago been featured on recordings being sold for millions across the world. Her voice is pure, melodious, on pitch, soulful and so full of heart!

When we first saw Ms. Boyle, she was presenting herself as single and saucy as she spoke with the judges on the show. They, as were the entire audience, certain she was joking about wanting to realize her dream of being a professional singer. They laughed, made faces and yet, Ms. Boyle was unshaken.

Once she opened her mouth, I personally think the Good Lord should have reached down and plucked the heads of each and every naysayer in the audience and the world over. This woman is amazing.

Today I was directed to her second recording which I understand is actually her first! This was recorded in 1999 for a charity album. Honestly, her voice is breathtaking! I can't wait to hear more from this Scottish Gal. She's won my heart!

Sign this gal! She'll be wealthy and so will you, Mr. Record Producer, in no time!

I was watching The View as they discussed this angel's talent. Everyone was in awe of her and her gorgeous voice. Leave it to the crass and outspoken words of Joy Behar to say, "Let's give her a makeover. She shouldn't look like that to see the Queen."

What's wrong with the way she looks? She looks like herself. No falsehoods, no fake hair, fake boobs, borrowed clothes, make up from tail to tea-cup. Susan Boyle is Susan Boyle. She's lovely just as she is. As Amanda Holden put it,
" "She needs to stay exactly as she is because that's the reason we love her. She just looks like anybody who could live on your street.

The minute we turn her into a glamour-puss is when it's spoilt. That can perhaps come later when she's signed the album deal and conquered America.

"For now we'll keep her exactly as she is because that's why we've all fallen in love with her. I think it's the underdog thing. It's somebody who's looked after her mother all her life."

Thank you Amanda. (And by the way, did you see the heavy sigh with his face in his hands Simon let out? I think he may have fallen in love with Ms. Boyle's voice. Who knows - maybe he'll actually fall in love with someone his own age!) Perhaps she's won his heart too!) *wink*

Peace and blessings,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When did this happen?

Today my little boy came home from school with his long awaited Spring portraits. I was kind of shocked when I saw it. I am unprepared to see the more mature way he is holding his hands. The maturity of his position, the sly but gentle grin on his face. I was unprepared for his eyes to look at me the way they do. I wasn't ready for him to look, well, older.

My heart strings got tight, my eyes began to tear. I wanted to bind up my not-so-little little boy and make him stay small a while longer. I wanted to hold him close and pretend I can still cuddle him like a baby while he looked at me like all babies look at their mommas with all the love and adoration they have in all their tiny little bodies. I wanted to stop time for a while and share some more time with my boy while he still thinks his momma is his best girl. The time is quickly coming when he's not going to want me to hold his hand, share his secrets, or simply look at him in public. I'm not prepared for this. I'm not prepared for my boy to be growing this fast.

Isn't he gorgeous though? My blue eyed, dimple cheeked, happy loveable boy. The dimpled blue eyed baby I had asked God for couldn't be a more wonderful gift. My growing up boy...

I love you my growing up boy...

Peace and blessings,

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Little Frog

This month is National Frog Month! Betcha didn't know that didja!?

We groovy chicks over at If It's Groovy (check the link on the blog roll to the right) had to create "Froggy" projects. Now that these have been shared on the net, I get to share mine with you!

This is our little guy when he was just days old. We've called all three boys "Fwogs" coz they're just so darn cute and froggy like when they're tiny and resting on your shoulder...

This "widdle fwog" is our youngest, Dalton, along with his little pollywog pictures!

Thanks for looking!

Peace and blessings,

Wow... I really stirred the pot!

Without meaning to upset the apple cart, I've stirred the pot instead. When I posted my rant about the FTC and scrapbooking, blogging etc, I surely didn't mean to offend. Rather, I had hoped to make folks aware of the things our government is trying to do that really are beginning to approach infringing on our rights as citizens of the USA.

For those who need more examples to extricate the truth from what I wrote, please feel free to peruse the following articles:

from The WOMMA: "The FTC Brings About Online Viral Marketing Changes"

From Big Marketing Ideas: "Regulating Viral Marketing"

From Internet Marketing News: "FTC Targets Viral Marketing With New Regulations"

From World Advertising Research Center: "US Viral Marketing Rules Under Scrutiny"

Additionally, a review of the proposal through the FTC website and the comments made by various organizations has proven the determinations of all the above referenced articles (and more) to be valid.

It's a shame that while the arguments presented by all parties are on target, the real point is that our right to free speech is, little by little, being stripped away. While I totally concur that we should expect and be given valid information, we all have the ability to discern. If we read an article in The Enquirer for diet pills and the same article appears in The Washington Post (an exaggeration but allow me my point please), most people will find the advertisement to be truthful. IF one were to invest in said diet pills and did not experience the same result, the disclosure (that little asterisk* that reads "Results not typical") takes care of any ill will we feel towards the manufacturer. Not once did anyone question the advertiser (The Enquirer or The Post).

Conversely, if we were to state, after having used a certain cutter, we loved it, after 250 cuts the blade is still sharp and wrote that on our blog, why should we be required to "disclose" that our results aren't typical. They are typical for us. We do not have the means to conduct multiple studies during which we can determine out of 1000 cuts per product X cutter was superior in sharpeness and therefore, the blog statements are true. Blogging is a matter of opinion. What we do on Facebook, MySpace, on line message boards and the like are just that - opinions. It is our experience. Why should we have to preface everything we write for a newsletter, a post on a message board or a blog with "Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this article are purely the opinions and statements of the writer and in no way are the opinion or the site owner, [Facebook, MySpace, etc] and should not be conveyed as such. There is no factual basis for these representations and no legal relationship exists between the writer and the manufacturer, advertiser, seller or any other entity other than the experience of this writer."

It's insane that we should have to protect our right to express ourselves with the threat of legal liability and it's ramifications.

If I've offended, please accept my apologies, and this will be the last of it from me, but truthfully, it's not about not getting "free stuff". It's about being able to express ourselves clearly, from our hearts, with our own experiences. Our forefathers thought it to be one of our inalinable rights... Why shouldn't we be able to expect the same 233 years later?

'Nuff said...

Peace and blessings,

Ooooo Wanna Win Some Goodies?

Check this out!
Winding Reflections of a Desperate Housewife. Lynette is one of my teammates at If It's Groovy and what a generous gift she's got over there.

Good Luck to all who enter!!

(And while you're visiting the If It's Groovy blog to qualify for the above blog candy, make sure you check out the monthly contest over there too! So many prizes, so much fun!!

(But hey - if you use it and love it - don't say anything specific coz you might be liable for it! Just send a great big thank you to Lynnette!)

Peace and blessings,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wow! I've been blessed!

A good friend of mine, Diana, has blessed me today with a wonderful blog award. I feel so honored to have received this award, particularly today.

"This blog invests in and believe in the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propogated. Please give more attention to these writers."

Thank you so much Diana ("BunnyKissd"). I feel very honored to have received this today.

I would love to pass this beautiful award on to:

Abby - dear sweet Abby
Ronnie - my sister in Christ and such a wonderful friend
Kim - sweet, creative, inspirational, busy, amazing Kim
Paula - what an awesome person you are
Tara - amazing and so inspiring with seemingly boundryless energy

There are so many more of you I want to nominate but I'm afraid the list is just longer than I've got fingers to type.

The only criteria for accepting the award is that you must post the picture and the meaning of the award on your blog (see above); no need to even pass it along to other people.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blogging, Liability and you...

How many of you have been on design teams for scrapbooking where you were given products to work with and then asked to write a review for a newsletter or blog? How many people have won a product simply as a site "random pick" and then blogged about their win and the item(s) they received? How many of us have received product from a company (directly or indirectly) and written a bad review of said product?

Well, we need to all think about how we're addressing these things from now on. Apparently, the FTC is trying to regulate "information" as a result of these poor economic times. They are now indicating that even blog and social websites are creating some probles for companies and their abilities, or inabilities, to market and sell some of their products. The new regulations will not only limit the amount of information available, but, in my opinion, put limitations of the veracity of the same.

In an article in the Financial Times (April 2, 2009), these new guidelines, which are expected to be adopted, will hold bloggers, social websites and their members, owners and anonymous posters liable for comments made about products having been received "free".

For example, say Company A sends out free product to a web site for free as a "Product Sponsor". Anyone who's been on a blog or web team before knows that we are more than extremely grateful for the product, we review it on the site, on our blogs etc. What is going to change about that now is, if we make statements regarding that product that are false, though in our opinions are true, or in our cases are true, the veracity of that statement as a generalization may not be true and therefore cannot be claimed as such. The end result is we have now "lied" and can be held legally responsible for any ramification that occurs as a result of our generality.

Let's get more specific. Say I got a package of product from Company A and said in my blog, "This product is simply amazing. The 90lb paper, printed with such original patterns and with amazingly vivid colors, tears beautiful with no rough edges!"

Person Z (yep, 26 out of 26 people reading that review), took my words to heart, bought the paper and got a paper cut on her eyeball when she accidently turned to admonish her little one who was about to grab a pot of spaghetti sauce off the stove and not only bled profusely but lost the sight in her eye. She could not only SUE me but also the company for making liablous statements. Oh yeah - you heard me right. SUE me for making false statements that caused her to make this purchase. And not only me but the company too.

The new regulations stipulate that companies are now to be held responsible for comments made by persons who have received "free" product and make statements about said product as a result of having received it.

It used to be that new products came on the market, in nearly any genre, and many gifts were given out, dependant to a degree on the word of mouth advertising. This still occurs today with companies setting up booths in grocery stores, open markets, malls, and having open houses. Having a celebrity or specific groups tout the accolades of a product could launch an orbital effect for a company. The FTC is revisiting these opportunities for the first time since the early 80's when our last recession was present.

I am currently in the process of trying to procure some "free product" for a blogsite for which I am teaming. In this process, I've consistently run aground in my attempts. Mostly it is because, economically, they cannot let go of the product right now as there are MANY teams that are asking and you just cannot outfit everyone. The majority of these companies will save their gifting targets for the sites that are among the top 100. Some even regulate their gifting to the top 50. It's becoming more and more difficult for the little guys to come up with the prizes for their monthly contests to lure folks to their sites so they can "compete". We can't all offer monthly project contests that offer a prize valued at $30 or more. In fact, most of them, if you think about profit margins, don't gift in excess of $15 wholesale which looks like $20-$25 retail. Some of the more extravagant and financially stable have gifted in the hundreds in order to have enough for an entire team at one time.

To further limit these groups by now holding the members, owners, random bloggers and companies liable for personal remarks made by the gift recipients is just sad. To hold the donating companies liable for the same is ludicrous. They are not responsible for feelings and thoughts by the masses. They can't control whether or not someone says the paper is a great weight, or too flimsy any more than the lady who loved the paper and said it never gave her paper cuts can be responsible for the lady who lost her eye because of a paper cut from the same paper. Neither could have known that would happen. Paper cuts happen every day and no paper manufacturer has been held responsible for freak accidents that happen with a sheet of paper. While the example may sound severe, it is a viable scenario for which the FTC is preparing their new regulations.

Of course this is not just for scrapbooking products. Take the example in the Financial Times article. Customer A bought a new handcream that, for some reaon, worked on her exzema and she incorrectly made claims to such in her blog. As a result of these false remarks, both she and the company could be sued for false representation. Is this not the same?

As difficult as gifting is already, I think we are looking for several things to happen. Gifting will not continue on the level at which is has in the past, not just because of the economic impacts it may currently have by giving away rather than selling the product; but also because of the impact any statements that MAY BE MADE IN THE FUTURE could have. Another impact will be that these companies that have given away product as a method of advertising will no longer have these write offs from their taxes. Which brings us to another from

This can potentially establish a whole new relationship between gifting companies and the little people. Take this illustration if you will...

Scrapbook Store or Mfg #1 donates package of material to site 1.

Site 1 gives some of said package to team to use for promoting the sponsor and some is reserved for a monthly prize winner. All of this information is shared on a monthly newsletter, personal blogs for the team mates, site blog and the personal blog for the prize winner.

Prize winner now uses said product for another contest and wins! In the supply list, the creator lists said won product. Not only does she win this product but uses the new product to win yet another contest.

Readers of the winner's blog reads about the win, sees the new creation, likes the product and buys it from an on line site or local scrapbook store to be used in his/her own projects. The blogger has also won more product resulting in less money leaving his/her hand again.

Everyone wins financially. The originator of the product SPENT product in advertising their company. The recipient of the original gift spent the product promoting their site and contest. The winner of the contest spent his/her winnings winning another contest resulting in more financial gain through more product. The originator of the product for the site first recipient has an increase in traffic and spending as a result of sponsoring the site to begin with. The manufacturer of the product gets new buyers for that same product as a result of more people seeing it on winning projects. In essence, they are all in receipt of "money" that should be claimed as income so therefore everyone becomes an advertiser and thereby an employee of the company. This also changes the dynamic of gifting.

I suppose all this ranting leads me to this: I totally agree that there are many companies (not necessarily in the scrapbooking industry but industry period) that have relied on the masses for advertising and have made substantial financial gain from what is called "shilling". Shilling is the viral marketing of product by those who tout the accolades of products with no apparent financial gain. This has saved these companies thousands if not hundreds of thousands in marketing costs. While it may not be the best practice, it's saavy and lucrative. They used the masses - word of mouth - as a means to their marketing end. I'm sorry but, why not? We've all done it. It may be small, "Did you taste Martha's pie? Best in the county! We really need her recipe for the church recipe book." Martha gets to feel awesome, the church makes more money because who wouldn't pay a little bit for Martha's famous pie recipe and everyone wins. Then again, it may be huge! Bill Gates got started some how too didn't he? He didn't always have a big advertising budget. He worked really hard to develop an amazing product and took it to the powers that be and made it an industry standard. The people who worked with him and their relatives, friends, and others aware of their product and efforts all talked it up. Who would have thought Microsoft would be a word spoken by the very young all the way through the "pretty old". My dad, at 82, knows what Microsoft is and not just because it was stock market talk or in the financials for the last 30 years. He uses a computer every day and even surfs the net sometimes.

My point is this. personally I think it's insane to hold companies responsible for little people with whom they are not even remotely acquainted responsible for "false statements" made about their product. I think it's insane to hold the little guys responsible for making statements that held true for themselves across the board liableous. I think it's insane to hold the middle man responsible. People have opinions. We are entitled to our opinions based on the First Admendment right to freedom of speeck. We are not intentionally making false statements so as to cause financial hardship on any said company. If we, as a nation, have stopped responding the our First Ammendment rights and are more interested in trying to find liablous statments being made so we can sue someone and make our quick fortunes, then we're REALLY off track.

What is wrong with us that we are no longer allowed our rights to speak our minds? Making a statement such as "Wow! This product perfoms perfectly everytime! I've used this over and over for three months now and my blade is just as sharp today as the day I bought it." should not be misconstrued as factual across the board. It should be considered exactly what it is. Someone's experience with a product they find to work for them. If someone else purchases the same product and finds a different scenario, then they should also be entitled to write something they feel. "I'm glad this person found this product to be a good one. Unfortunately, I have discovered my blades to dull much more rapidly than any other similar product and have decided it is a waste of money. I'll stick to my tried and true "X" product from now on." Aren't readers of the second statement just as likely to respond to the "X" product as they were the first? Isn't it really a matter of personal preference? It's not endorsement of an entire product line, an entire store, an entire manufacturer or even an entire parent company of products. It is simply our experience with that one item. Take it or leave it.

Opinions are like people... Some of them are nice and some of them aren't so nice but more than that, they're all different and subject to interpretation based on our own expriences.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Remember the movie "The Jerk"

It's one of my favorite movies because of the sweetness and genuine obliviousness of Steve Martin's character. One of my favorite scenes is when he gets the new phone book and he's in it. He grabs the new phone book and proceeds to run about screaming, "The new phone books are in, the phone books are in!" It made him feel so special...

That's how I feel about my new specs! "My new glasses are in, my new glasses are in!"

Peek A Boo! I can see you!!!

I love my new glasses. Love love love them!! I went to church with friends tonight and was actually able to see!!! I read the entire service and it was as clear as a bell to me! Oh my gosh can you even imagine my pleasure and delight! So here ya go... you can see what all my hype is about. I'm so stoked my glasses are ON MY FACE and I can see things again. I swear, when all you can see is fuzzy little caterpillars all over your page and they're supposed to be words, it's something to behold and write home about when you can actually see those little fuzzy caterpillars. They actually ARE words! WOO HOOO!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Words to Live By

Found this while blog hopping this morning and I've decided it's way too appropo for me to keep to myself. If you've seen it already, it's worth revisiting. If you've not, enjoy!