Open for business

Innovative Writing and Design is ready to go! After a few months of planning and lots of work, I'm officially announcing that I'm open for business. Please check out my website and let me know what you think.


Deck building

Today I devoted several hours to building a deck in my backyard. Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I'm not Ms. Fix-it or Ms. Do-it-yourself. I have a few crucial tools like a hammer and screwdrivers, but I don't use them very much. I've had more than a few people laugh when I tell them what I'm doing. I think they are picturing some rickety, unstable thing that you might see on a hillbilly cabin.

Taking on a project of building a deck would be definitely out of my league without the help of my sister. Beth is an experienced builder. She's thorough, systematic and very competent, not to mention she has her own set of power tools. In short, she's awesome. If something goes wrong on the deck building, it's sure to be my fault. But I used both a miter saw and a drill today and I'm still standing. :)

Here are a few pictures of our work in progress.


Ain't never been done before

My friend Gary and I have very different tastes when it comes to movies. In the interest of expanding our horizons (or filled with glee at the idea of watching each other suffer), we made a deal. I'd watch a movie that he recommended if he watched a movie that I recommended. Gary had never seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, a classic black and white movie from 1939 starring Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur. In turn, I had never seen Smokey and the Bandit, filmed in 1977 starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.

Gary didn't make too many comments during my movie--although I think he almost fell asleep a few times. Afterwards, I asked him what he thought. He was unmoved. How can you not like the heartwarming naivety of Jimmy Stewart? Ask Gary.

I tried (unsuccessfully) to not make comments during Gary's movie choice. I'll sum up my thoughts like this: despite the dorky plot and dialogue, the movie wasn't as bad as I expected. I even laughed in a few parts.

I finally figured out why Gary likes the movie: the black TransAm and all of the peeling out and burning rubber. Oh, and Burt Reynolds had a mustache.


Softball season update

Another softball season is in the record books. Our league was split into two divisions for the tournament and the Tiefel Tigers won two games in our division to advance to the championship game. I pitched and had a pretty good game. To be honest, I don't remember too much of what happened other than that I sprained my hand and there were two people dressed in costume who showed up to watch the game. One was dressed like Santa and the other like Jesus. It was bizarre. If it weren't for the corroboration from my teammates, I might have chalked it up to a hallucination.

Anyway, we lost the game 13-9, but we got t-shirts for being the runners up, so we look like winners!


Design essentials

During the school year, I volunteer my time at a local school, helping students put together a newspaper. The students suggest story ideas, write the articles, take the photos and publish the paper. One challenge I have with this project (other than the occasional lazy writer!) is teaching students some basic principles of design. We all know good design when we see it. We usually know bad design when we see it too! But it's hard for me to distill design ideas down to some manageable guidelines for 11- and 12-year-olds.

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams. I highly recommend this book to people who want to learn more about basic design. The author has four general principals that she applies to examples and the results are amazing. It's a great primer.


Prize winner

I love getting the mail on any given day, but yesterday was a great day. No bills and a letter from the library announcing that I was a prize winner! (I had signed up for my library's summer reading program for adults.)

Side observation: Don't you just love the phrase "prize winner," especially when the prize winner is you? Who cares what the prize is? YOU won a PRIZE! It's an endorphin rush. :)

The library staff is tricky--the letter does not tell you what the prize is, just that you have one to pick up. I went to the library and approached the reference desk letter in hand. "Jill, you look like a prize winner," the reference librarian said. (Did I mention that I am on a first name basis with several of the library staff?) My prize is a $10 chamber of commerce gift certificate. It really does pay to read. :)


You never know until you look

This summer's been flying by. Such a whirlwind! I've been so busy trying to keep in mind everything to get done for my business; I've had a few long days.

Today my friend Geoff stopped over to help me figure out how I can get a phone to my upstairs office. We ended up outside, looking at the back of the house. Geoff (lucky guy) had never seen my backyard. I've mentioned it before, but my backyard is a complete conundrum for me. I don't know what to do with it. It's like a committee of landscape architects had a mental meltdown there.

So, anyway, we are looking up at the two apple trees in the backyard. Hovering under the shadow of the large apple tree and crowded out by second apple tree, there is a scrawny-looking thing. I'd never looked too closely at this one before, but today my eyes drift upward and I find myself thinking, "Those apples sure are funny shaped." Yep, you guessed it. It turns out it's a pear tree. Here's the photographic proof:

I felt less stress and pressure after seeing the pears. It was an unexpected little surprise. The LORD has been so good to me and this was my reminder for today. :)


Back to school

I've been off the grid for the last week, teaching Vacation Bible School. I had the 4-year-olds and there were nine lively little people in my class. My family watched in amusement as I looked more haggard as the week went on. The experience was a challenge, yet such a blessing at the same time.

Speaking of school, I'm trying to find a reason to buy crayons. Coloring was not my favorite thing as a child. I was more of a glue and scissors girl. But the back to school sales always tempt me. There is something quite tantalizing about opening a brand new box of Crayolas: seeing the rainbow of perfect tips and smelling the waxy scent. Ahhh. Happiness in box.

I also loved the names of the crayons. Brick Red. Burnt Sienna. Lemon Yellow. Pine Green. Crayola's website even has a history of the colors. Sadly, Raw Umber has been retired.

(photo credit: bookgrl via flickr)