Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Letter to the Deer Who Ate My Potato Vines

Two days ago, I had the most beautiful flowers blooming in my yard. This was no simple feat. I did not inherit my mother's green thumb. It is a struggle for me to keep living things alive (at least of the plant variety).

Summer is hanging on in our part of the world and last night, I went out to give my pots an extra dose of water. Imagine my surprise to find 1/2 of them missing. They were nowhere to be found!

I am kind to the deer in the winter when they come down from the hills and rip the bark off my trees. I know that they are hungry. I even forgive them in the spring when they decimate my yard of all the tender blooms trying to poke their heads out of the earth after a long, hard winter. But this is NOT ACCEPTABLE deer. The potato vines were NOT meant to be eaten. They are there for adornment. Next time, I will not ignore the frenzied barks of our dog as he tries to warn us of your intentions. I have your number deer!

Monday, September 27, 2010

October is Family History Month

Did you know that October is officially designated as "Family History Month" in the United States? S.RES.175 passed back in July of 2003. This was a big deal to genealogists. It was also meaningful to the more than 80 million American's that are said to be actively searching for information about their ancestors. Even if you're not so interested in the distant past, someday, you'll be an ancestor to some future generation. Wouldn't it be nice to have your story told the way YOU WANT to be remembered?

If you are at all familiar with the mission of Stories by Me, you know our passion for preserving life's many stories. It didn't take us long to figure out that not all stories are preserved in book format. There are as many ways to preserve a memory as there are stories to tell.

Just like most of you, we're running hard to keep up. There is never enough time to get it all done. One thing that we've learned along life's journey, though, is that zero times any number will ALWAYS be zero. So, if I make zero effort to preserve my life stories for the next 12 months, I will have nothing to account for those 12 months. But, if I'm able to squeeze one meaningful task out a month, at the end of the year, I will have 12 beautifully preserved memories that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

The list of meaningful projects are ENDLESS!

We've decided to lump these projects into four different categories:

For the next four weeks, Suni and I are committing to focus a personal effort in each category. At the beginning of the week, I'll share a list of possible projects and then during the week we will both report on our success (or failure) at our efforts. We will keep it real! Suni just had a baby and since my baby is nearly 14, I recently returned to the work force, so some days it's all we can do to keep our heads above water!

We would LOVE for you to take the Stories by Me challenge. Maybe all you can do is ONE Family History project during the month. Guess what? You've got ONE thing DONE! We'll even sweeten the deal by offering a giveaway each week to everyone who shares a story or comments!

We'd love to hear what you're doing. Send us your story at mythoughts@storiesbyme.com or add a comment with a link to your blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Want a quick refresher on the story of the United States?

Today, a friend shared an amazing website: www.animatedatlas.com. I'm pretty familiar with the basic history of our nation, but in ten short minutes I was reintroduced to all sorts of interesting facts as to the growth of the United States starting with its original thirteen states in 1789.

Click on this link. http://www.animatedatlas.com/movie.html

Be sure to follow the instructions and turn your sound ON. The narration is a significant part of the presentation and you won't want to miss it!

After you finish the basic presentation, you should check out some of the other cool website features. You can click on any state for more details.

Click on any decade number in the timeline for a detailed snap shot of that time period. And when I say detailed I mean DETAILED! It's incredible how much information is crammed into such a simple format.

My hat goes off to Peter Mays, creator of this sweet website. He also offers an expanded version for $20 (US Dollars, of course). For now, I am all over this free version. I am going to have my kids become familiar with the resource, as well.

I have always loved the story of our nation. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this informative reader's digest version. I imagine that you will as well!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Story with a Happy Ending

This morning started like most Saturday mornings. Things might have been a bit more quiet than usual as all the kids were out and about on various teenage activities. My to-do list was long, but I was slowly working through it.

Out of the blue I received a phone call. The caller explained that he was from some medical service...blah-blah-blah. I was already preparing a response of not being interested in whatever he was selling when some of his words broke through my dense preoccupation to inform me that they had pulled my sixteen-year-old out of the water from a near drowning and they were on the way to the hospital.

It took several moments to process what he was telling me. This son had gone with our neighbors to participate in the Kokopelli Triathlon. My neighbor had expressed concern over the swimming portion of the race, but she assured me that my son was in great shape and he'd be fine. I hadn't a moments premonition that there was something wrong. In fact, I had just sent him a text wishing him well in the race. My mind was now trying to process the facts that he was 5 hours away and utterly alone. (Our neighbors had no idea that my son was in trouble as they were all participating in the race.)

Here's today's miracle...another dear friend/neighbor happens to split her time between two homes; one here, one in southern Utah. Yesterday she was across the street. I saw her with my own eyes. We made plans to get together for lunch in the next day or two. However, late last night, she decided to return to St. George. This morning, my panicked phone call found her ready to drop everything to go to my son's aid. She met him at the ER and stayed with him until the doctors checked him out.

Angels are all around us. Today's angel bears the name of Heidi!

My sixteen-year-old is fine. They think that someone swam over him in the frenzy of the race. He remembers that he was swimming next to his buddy one minute and the next minute he's all alone and the race is off in the distance. There's a bump on the back of his head that wasn't there when he started the race (maybe a misguided foot or elbow?) The happy news is that he's fine. Actually, he's better than fine. He didn't finish the race, but he has quite the story to tell.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Welcome Baby - Save 30%

We're bustin' our buttons here at Stories by Me.

In honor of our newest Stories by Me team member, we are offering a 30% discount on any web store purchases. That's right. Anything that you order online is good for the discount. Just be sure to make your purchase within the next two weeks... and use the Coupon Code: SBM Baby

We couldn't be prouder!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Vintage Tins

My thirteen-year-old would let you to know that the title 'New Vintage Tins' is an oxymoron. I love that he's actually awake and listening in his English class. Yes, New and Vintage do seem to contradict each other, but these tins are new...even though we designed them to look like they've been around a few years.
This summer's trip to New York inspired me to create the Ellis Island collection. My Pops (Grandpa Stanley) was at the forefront of my mind as I searched the photo collections at the Library of Congress. Oh, how I wish I would have come across a miraculous picture of nineteen-year-old Stanley, fresh off the boat and ready to conquer this new world. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything bearing even a faint resemblance of the man that married my grandmother (the earliest photograph that we have of him), but I did stumble across some amazing images. My favorite is the photograph of the mother with the three small children. Look closely at her eyes. Life is a little uncertain, but there is hope in her eyes; hope and courage to face whatever lies ahead.

Our Simple Thought collection is just that; simple thoughts that are meant to uplift and inspire. I love the sign that says: Breathe...Again. Seems so simple, but I've had a day or two when a reminder would have been nice!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Family Charts

What do you think? We're pretty excited about how our new Mini Family Charts turned out. What makes these kits nice is that they are SO EASY to finish...it also helps that they are SO EASY on the wallet!
Each kit comes with a 5.5x10" hand-finished magnet board, six wood buttons, magnet tape, sandpaper and instructions.

All you have to do is finish the buttons. Our Photo Wizard will help you get your pictures the perfect size for the project. If you're doing the chore chart, download the SbM Family Chart Buttons here.
Just print this page to a favorite scrapbook paper. We came up with 33 common household chores, but if you need something that's not listed you can use your text editor to create your own printout (just make sure it'll fit inside a 1.5" circle), or hand write the chore on a scrap of decorative paper. You might also consider taking pictures of the needed task. Garbage need emptying? Take a picture of the empty garbage can. Your kids should love seeing the example and guess what? You've just preserved a little bit of history with your photo taking!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Letter Blocks for Halloween

Halloween is a big holiday around here. When the kids were little, I'd start quizzing them in early September on what they wanted to dress up as. The trick was to hone in on that one thing they wanted to be more than anything and then keep that focus for 60 days!

It was a lot of work for what equates to a few hours of enjoyment... but we have some fantastic memories!

This is the year that I sewed it up BIG for my little guys. So cute! Only problem is that the costumes was super toasty and Northern California was going through a heat wave. My little skunk had beads of sweat dripping off his face until I finally yanked off the furry costume and let him hang out in his underwear.

One year that we decided to be a family of pirates. Hubby even turned the Red-Rider into a full-fledged pirate ship. The plastic weapons that accompanied the costumes didn't make it to Halloween. They were destroyed in the make-believe play as the kids 'practiced' their roles for the big day.

It didn't take me long to figure out that it was easier...and cheaper to buy the kids costumes than make them. So what if there were three other Buzz Lightyear's at the party?

As the kids got older, their costumes took on a more macabre tone. I remember one year my son didn't care what he was...as long as he was dead. It actually wasn't so bad. I seem to have a knack for making my kids look grotesque.

If you're anything like me... you took a LOT of Halloween pictures over the years. What do you do with all of your photos? Here's what I've come up for our Halloween memories.

Boo Letter Blocks

For you to Gather:
3 blocks. My blocks measure 3.25 inches each
3 coordinating scrapbook papers to match theme (more to cover top and bottoms of block)
Decoupage Glue - We like ModPodge's Matte Glue
Printer -black ink works best for printing letters
Foam Brush
Sanding Block (Not really needed, but it goes a long way to saving your hands during the sanding process!)
Distress Ink or Chalk
Finishing Spray
9 pictures formatted to fit your blocks. The Photo Wizard will help you format your pictures to fit a 3.25" block.

Step 1:
Prepare your letters. Our Letter Blocks .pdf provides letters for the following words...
Pick coordinating paper to match your word choice (i.e. fall colors for BOO). 12x12 scrapbook paper works great. Just trim the paper to 8.5 x 11 before feeding it through your printer. Save any extra scraps for covering the top and bottom of the blocks. Print the Letter Blocks .pdf on your selected papers. Cut out each square using the trim markings. (Trim depends on the block size that you're using. Project formatted to fit 3.25" blocks.)

Step 2:
Prepare your pictures. You have two options here. Either print each picture to be at least as large as your blocks. Use the edge of the block to trace around each picture and cut away the excess. Or, you can use the Photo Wizard to get your picture to the exact size that is needed for this project. Need help using the Photo Wizard. See our demo. Still need help? We're only a mouse click away. Just email us at www.mythoughts@storiesbyme.com. Cut each picture to size.

Be sure to print your pictures using a LASER printer! Ink jet colors tend to smear when they get wet!!

Step 3: The cut ends of the wood absorb more glue than the grained ends. Before beginning this step, apply a thin layer of glue of glue to the ends with the rougher (cut) surfaces. Let glue dry.

Apply a thin layer of glue to the first side of one block. Place picture over glue and press in to place. Remove any air bubbles. While the glue is drying, repeat the process for other blocks. Check for overhanging paper edges. It is important to WAIT for the glue to dry before attempting to remove any excess paper. Add picture's 2 and 3 following same procedure. Once all of the picture are in place, add one letter square to each block. Complete this step by adding a decorative top and bottom paper square to each block. Don't worry about matching sides. A random look is great!

Step 4:
Once the glue is dry, carefully sand the edges of each block. Add a distress look by rubbing ink or chalk along the sides of each square to darken the exposed wood and remove any white paper edge.

Protect your project with several light coats of decoupage glue or matte Acrylic spray.

That's all that's to it! Remember, you CAN'T ruin this project. Fix any mistakes by simply sanding down the offending side and adding another picture.
You now have nine Halloween pictures ready to display. This same project works great for a number of holidays.

Of course, the best part is sharing the stories that accompany each picture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Brand New Story to Tell!

What a day.

What a completely blow-me-away, most perfect day.

Our newest Stories by Me team member arrived and Suni gave me the gift of a lifetime by sharing their amazing day with me.

I preserved this once-in-a-lifetime moment with pictures.

Lots and lots of pictures!

The baby is beyond perfect!

Mom's not doing too bad either!

Suni, my wish for you is many, MANY happy stories!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Expecting Great Things!

We' have had several requests for our Swiss Days booth location this year. Sorry to say, it doesn't look like we're going to make it. We were selected as alternates and as luck would have it...no one dropped out so there was no need for the backup plan.

It really is for the best. From the looks of the above picture, Suni isn't quite up to the exhilarating but exhausting days and Lauri can't imagine doing Swiss Days without her!

We still have several new projects that we're excited to unveil. Without the deadline of the event, we've let life get the best of us and we're a little behind schedule. If all goes as planned, Suni will wait a few more days to have her baby and we'll deliver on the goods...the SbM goods that is.

Then we're off to enjoy a new baby!